Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I just finished watching my favorite Thanksgiving special. Actually, it's the only Thanksgiving special that I know of, but I think it would be my favorite, regardless. It's the Charlie Brown special. It drives me crazy. You've got these pushy kids that invite themselves over to the Browns and then they bitch when they get served toast and popcorn. Never mind that it was the family dog that made dinner, for Christ's sake. It's the gall of someone putting you out and then complaining that what was done wasn't good enough. People seem to do this all the time. There's so little gratitude in this world where we dwell.

A few years ago, I was working with a long-term substitute teacher. She was a bit of an odd duck; she lacked social skills, but clearly wanted to be social. She just laid it out there and asked a variety of people if she could spend Thanksgiving with them. A fellow teacher with a big family that always went out for their holiday meal told her that she was welcome to join them. The sub was peeved that it wasn't going to be a homemade meal, but she went and seemed happy, at the very least, not to have spent the holiday alone.

The woman was a very sad case. She was in her late fifties and had lived all her life with her parents. They had passed away shortly before the time I worked with her. She would talk to them as if they were present, especially when things became stressful for her. This, as can be imagined, made the students think her totally insane. She had other odd habits. She frequently told kids that they were doomed to Hell, and she'd corner teachers in the lounge with long-winded stories that didn't seem to make much sense. After a lot of complaints from kids, she was let go. It was easy at the time to dismiss her as a loon and be happy that she wasn't working with us anymore, but the truth is she was screaming out for help and no one heard. Everyone ignored her because she was a nusciance and it was easier to simply push her behaviors aside. She killed herself a few months later. Thanksgiving always makes me think of her, and how sad it was that she wanted a social life, friends, simple people in her life and was brave enough to ask for it. She wasn't pleased with what she received and the day didn't seem to make her grateful. Sometimes it's not enough to be included. Sometimes I think what we want is to be wanted to join in, to have our presence valued. Being made to feel unwelcome makes the lonliness greater and the hurt of exclusion all the more profound, even as you're surrounded by people.

I don't feel like celebrating the holidays this year. My heart isn't in it. I've arranged to spend Thanksgiving alone. I've told my family I'm spending it with The Fiance's family, and told The Fiance I'm spending it with my family. I'm not feeling especially thankful for anything at the moment -- The Fiance, the few friends I have from work that haven't forsaken me, the few others that I see with any regularity. The unmeployment has worn me down. At least spending the day alone is of my choosing, and I still find the odd woman a source of pity and not inspiration.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


I lost an uncle today. We weren't close. Time and Place prevented that. I am feeling bad that I don't feel worse about having lost him. I feel very sympathetic for his family, for those that were close to him. Anymore, though, death makes me question my own life and how it's being lived. It's been such a rough go, for quite a while now. I look at how my life is going, and compare it to what I'd like to see in its place. I look at my state of health and how desperately I need to be doing something about it. I think about all the things I want to do and wonder how they'll ever be accomplished. The things that are to be overcome seem to outweigh the things that are as they should be. And then I think of The Fiance, and I realize that as long as I have him and we have the relationship that we do, the rest will fall in place. It may not be 100% perfect, but I really think it's about as close as it comes. I have no doubt that he loves me fiercely, nor do I question the feelings that I have for him. There are so many other things to be worked out, but the biggest thing that I would want for my life is secure, and blessedly sweet. Death has made me take yet another long hard look at my own existence and question what it is that is important to me. As always, the answer is relationships. Kindness towards others. Empathy. Connection and the joy that comes from those things. I feel bad that I don't know enough about my uncle's life to know if he had these things in his own life, but I surely hope that he did. I hope that he died after having lived the life of his choosing, and I hope that when I go, I can say the same.

Monday, October 18, 2010

My Efforts at Kindness for You.

image found at Sober in a Nightclub


It's been a rough few months. I have nothing to do, and nothing but time. It makes me realize how much I have a need for people in my life. The thing is, other people are busy. Their lives haven't stopped because mine has. I think people mean well, but they do tend to forget about you. It's out of sight, out of mind. There are people I long to talk with as I did before, but the availability just isn't there. Sometimes this is literal, but most of the time the lacking availability is emotional. What do you say to someone who is totally miserable? They're better left avoided, lest the misery be catching. The worst are those moments when I'm surrounded by others and the lonliness is more profound. It's made for some lonely, lonely days.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Midnight Madness.

Come see how good a night can be,
are you ready for a brand new game? (a brand new game)
Come take a chance and play with me,
and you're never gonna be the same..

When Midnight Madness,
starts to get to you;
Doesn't matter what you say,
doesn't matter what you do.
You gotta play.

Just when you think you've had your fun,
and you're ready to say goodnight; (don't say goodnight)
You'll find the fun has just begun,
'cause the game's gonna last all night.



Just when you think you've had your fun,
and you're ready to say goodnight; (don't say goodnight)
You'll find the fun has just begun,
'cause the game's gonna last all night.

When Midnight Madness,
starts to get to you;
Doesn't matter what you say,
doesn't matter what you do.

Oh my God, I love this movie. LOOOOOOOVe this movie. I think there are certain films that were on when people first had cable in the 80s that will just stay with you forever. And for me -- this one wins. These films were shown a million times and you just came to know them by heart. Another good (terrible?) one is Spring Break with Johnny Depp and Rob Morrow. Thank you, Leon, for a great time had by all!

Cinema Paradiso. Just the Few First Strains of the Song Sets Me to Weeping With this Scene.

I have this film on both VHS and DVD, but I wanted the Director's Cut. Much, much better. I found it on ebay and was shocked how cheap it was. Something I didn't think about dawned on me when it arrived. The film, obviously, is in Italian.
The subtitles are typically in English. If you buy from an English-speaking nation. This one has subtitles in Japanese and Taiwanese. A little lesson in scrimping, free from me to you.

If I Could Be a Buffy Character, I'd Totally Be Anya.

Of course, in my version, there would be lots of love triangles between Anya, Spike and Giles.

One Of My Favorite Teaching Moments.

I have a lot of these. Some are awesome because they're awesome, some because they're just unbelievable. Kids could give a shit less about most history. It can be really hard to get them involved. I used the "This is America, Charlie Brown" series for quite a few things just for a change of pace. We were reviewing one day about the Great Transcontinental Railroad, and I asked, "Okay, who got the honor of hammering the final connecting golden spike?" Crickets. Followed by my beloved foreign exchange student with the most lyrical Nigerian accent. "Oh! It was that dog! It was Snoopy that did it!"  (Actually, as adorable as this was, it was also somewhat disturbing.  After all, I was a high school teacher. This student was 17.  This was a SNOOPY cartoon we'd been watching.  It was based on fact, but come on.  What the hell?  A cartoon Beagle isn't responsible for anything other than warming the heart.  Or proving that this student of mine was decidedly gullible and/or challenged in some way...)

On vacation to San Diego, I toured the Del. There were occasional questions and prizes. "Who struck the golden spike?" was one of them. How great was it to know it was Charlie Brown's dog?


I am fascinated by facebook. Even when I find a lot of people dull, or snarky, or simply always interested in something I could care less about, I love it. I love to see what people have taken time out of their lives to post. I love to see the enraged battles that ensue because of comments made, or not made, in response to an original poster. I find it fascinating that I'll put out something heartfelt and get nothing, but a colleague from work posts, "I love corn" and two dozen people have something to say about it. It's such a remarkable thing, this facebook. I have no problem reporting an addiction. It's the closest I've felt to a lot of people in years.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Greatest First Lines, from American Book Review.

Shit. I'd been taking my lead from Snoopy and beginning every piece of work with "It was a dark and stormy night." Live and learn, I guess.

100 Best First Lines from Novels

1. Call me Ishmael. —Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (1851)

2. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. —Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813)

3. A screaming comes across the sky. —Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow (1973)

4. Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. —Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967; trans. Gregory Rabassa)

5. Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. —Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (1955)

6. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. —Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (1877; trans. Constance Garnett)

7. riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs. —James Joyce, Finnegans Wake (1939)

8. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. —George Orwell, 1984 (1949)

9. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. —Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859)

10. I am an invisible man. —Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952)

11. The Miss Lonelyhearts of the New York Post-Dispatch (Are you in trouble?—Do-you-need-advice?—Write-to-Miss-Lonelyhearts-and-she-will-help-you) sat at his desk and stared at a piece of white cardboard. —Nathanael West, Miss Lonelyhearts (1933)

12. You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter. —Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)

13. Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested. —Franz Kafka, The Trial (1925; trans. Breon Mitchell)

14. You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveler. —Italo Calvino, If on a winter's night a traveler (1979; trans. William Weaver)

15. The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. —Samuel Beckett, Murphy (1938)

16. If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. —J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye (1951)

17. Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo. —James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)

18. This is the saddest story I have ever heard. —Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier (1915)

19. I wish either my father or my mother, or indeed both of them, as they were in duty both equally bound to it, had minded what they were about when they begot me; had they duly considered how much depended upon what they were then doing;—that not only the production of a rational Being was concerned in it, but that possibly the happy formation and temperature of his body, perhaps his genius and the very cast of his mind;—and, for aught they knew to the contrary, even the fortunes of his whole house might take their turn from the humours and dispositions which were then uppermost:—Had they duly weighed and considered all this, and proceeded accordingly,—I am verily persuaded I should have made a quite different figure in the world, from that, in which the reader is likely to see me. —Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy (1759–1767)

20. Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. —Charles Dickens, David Copperfield (1850)

21. Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. —James Joyce, Ulysses (1922)

22. It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness. —Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)

23. One summer afternoon Mrs. Oedipa Maas came home from a Tupperware party whose hostess had put perhaps too much kirsch in the fondue to find that she, Oedipa, had been named executor, or she supposed executrix, of the estate of one Pierce Inverarity, a California real estate mogul who had once lost two million dollars in his spare time but still had assets numerous and tangled enough to make the job of sorting it all out more than honorary. —Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 (1966)

24. It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not. —Paul Auster, City of Glass (1985)

25. Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting. —William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury (1929)

26. 124 was spiteful. —Toni Morrison, Beloved (1987)

27. Somewhere in la Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing. —Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote (1605; trans. Edith Grossman)

28. Mother died today. —Albert Camus, The Stranger (1942; trans. Stuart Gilbert)

29. Every summer Lin Kong returned to Goose Village to divorce his wife, Shuyu. —Ha Jin, Waiting (1999)

30. The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel. —William Gibson, Neuromancer (1984)

31. I am a sick man . . . I am a spiteful man. —Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground (1864; trans. Michael R. Katz)

32. Where now? Who now? When now? —Samuel Beckett, The Unnamable (1953; trans. Patrick Bowles)

33. Once an angry man dragged his father along the ground through his own orchard. "Stop!" cried the groaning old man at last, "Stop! I did not drag my father beyond this tree." —Gertrude Stein, The Making of Americans (1925)

34. In a sense, I am Jacob Horner. —John Barth, The End of the Road (1958)

35. It was like so, but wasn't. —Richard Powers, Galatea 2.2 (1995)

36. —Money . . . in a voice that rustled. —William Gaddis, J R (1975)

37. Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself. —Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway (1925)

38. All this happened, more or less. —Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five (1969)

39. They shoot the white girl first. —Toni Morrison, Paradise (1998)

40. For a long time, I went to bed early. —Marcel Proust, Swann's Way (1913; trans. Lydia Davis)

41. The moment one learns English, complications set in. —Felipe Alfau, Chromos (1990)

42. Dr. Weiss, at forty, knew that her life had been ruined by literature. —Anita Brookner, The Debut (1981)

43. I was the shadow of the waxwing slain / By the false azure in the windowpane; —Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire (1962)

44. Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board. —Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)

45. I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story. —Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome (1911)

46. Ages ago, Alex, Allen and Alva arrived at Antibes, and Alva allowing all, allowing anyone, against Alex's admonition, against Allen's angry assertion: another African amusement . . . anyhow, as all argued, an awesome African army assembled and arduously advanced against an African anthill, assiduously annihilating ant after ant, and afterward, Alex astonishingly accuses Albert as also accepting Africa's antipodal ant annexation. —Walter Abish, Alphabetical Africa (1974)

47. There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it. —C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)

48. He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. —Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea (1952)

49. It was the day my grandmother exploded. —Iain M. Banks, The Crow Road (1992)

50. I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974. —Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex (2002)

51. Elmer Gantry was drunk. —Sinclair Lewis, Elmer Gantry (1927)

52. We started dying before the snow, and like the snow, we continued to fall. —Louise Erdrich, Tracks (1988)

53. It was a pleasure to burn. —Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 (1953)

54. A story has no beginning or end; arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead. —Graham Greene, The End of the Affair (1951)

55. Having placed in my mouth sufficient bread for three minutes' chewing, I withdrew my powers of sensual perception and retired into the privacy of my mind, my eyes and face assuming a vacant and preoccupied expression. —Flann O'Brien, At Swim-Two-Birds (1939)

56. I was born in the Year 1632, in the City of York, of a good Family, tho' not of that Country, my Father being a Foreigner of Bremen, who settled first at Hull; He got a good Estate by Merchandise, and leaving off his Trade, lived afterward at York, from whence he had married my Mother, whose Relations were named Robinson, a very good Family in that Country, and from whom I was called Robinson Kreutznaer; but by the usual Corruption of Words in England, we are now called, nay we call our selves, and write our Name Crusoe, and so my Companions always call'd me. —Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (1719)

57. In the beginning, sometimes I left messages in the street. —David Markson, Wittgenstein's Mistress (1988)

58. Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress.
—George Eliot, Middlemarch (1872)

59. It was love at first sight. —Joseph Heller, Catch-22 (1961)

60. What if this young woman, who writes such bad poems, in competition with her husband, whose poems are equally bad, should stretch her remarkably long and well-made legs out before you, so that her skirt slips up to the tops of her stockings? —Gilbert Sorrentino, Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things (1971)

61. I have never begun a novel with more misgiving. —W. Somerset Maugham, The Razor's Edge (1944)

62. Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person. —Anne Tyler, Back When We Were Grownups (2001)

63. The human race, to which so many of my readers belong, has been playing at children's games from the beginning, and will probably do it till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up. —G. K. Chesterton, The Napoleon of Notting Hill (1904)

64. In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since. —F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (1925)

65. You better not never tell nobody but God. —Alice Walker, The Color Purple (1982)

66. "To be born again," sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, "first you have to die." —Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses (1988)

67. It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York. —Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar (1963)

68. Most really pretty girls have pretty ugly feet, and so does Mindy Metalman, Lenore notices, all of a sudden. —David Foster Wallace, The Broom of the System (1987)

69. If I am out of my mind, it's all right with me, thought Moses Herzog. —Saul Bellow, Herzog (1964)

70. Francis Marion Tarwater's uncle had been dead for only half a day when the boy got too drunk to finish digging his grave and a Negro named Buford Munson, who had come to get a jug filled, had to finish it and drag the body from the breakfast table where it was still sitting and bury it in a decent and Christian way, with the sign of its Saviour at the head of the grave and enough dirt on top to keep the dogs from digging it up. —Flannery O'Connor, The Violent Bear it Away (1960)

71. Granted: I am an inmate of a mental hospital; my keeper is watching me, he never lets me out of his sight; there's a peephole in the door, and my keeper's eye is the shade of brown that can never see through a blue-eyed type like me. —GŸnter Grass, The Tin Drum (1959; trans. Ralph Manheim)

72. When Dick Gibson was a little boy he was not Dick Gibson. —Stanley Elkin, The Dick Gibson Show (1971)

73. Hiram Clegg, together with his wife Emma and four friends of the faith from Randolph Junction, were summoned by the Spirit and Mrs. Clara Collins, widow of the beloved Nazarene preacher Ely Collins, to West Condon on the weekend of the eighteenth and nineteenth of April, there to await the End of the World. —Robert Coover, The Origin of the Brunists (1966)

74. She waited, Kate Croy, for her father to come in, but he kept her unconscionably, and there were moments at which she showed herself, in the glass over the mantel, a face positively pale with the irritation that had brought her to the point of going away without sight of him. —Henry James, The Wings of the Dove (1902)

75. In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains. —Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms (1929)

76. "Take my camel, dear," said my Aunt Dot, as she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass. —Rose Macaulay, The Towers of Trebizond (1956)

77. He was an inch, perhaps two, under six feet, powerfully built, and he advanced straight at you with a slight stoop of the shoulders, head forward, and a fixed from-under stare which made you think of a charging bull. —Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim (1900)

78. The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there. —L. P. Hartley, The Go-Between (1953)

79. On my naming day when I come 12 I gone front spear and kilt a wyld boar he parbly ben the las wyld pig on the Bundel Downs any how there hadnt ben none for a long time befor him nor I aint looking to see none agen. —Russell Hoban, Riddley Walker (1980)

80. Justice?—You get justice in the next world, in this world you have the law. —William Gaddis, A Frolic of His Own (1994)

81. Vaughan died yesterday in his last car-crash. —J. G. Ballard, Crash (1973)

82. I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. —Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle (1948)

83. "When your mama was the geek, my dreamlets," Papa would say, "she made the nipping off of noggins such a crystal mystery that the hens themselves yearned toward her, waltzing around her, hypnotized with longing." —Katherine Dunn, Geek Love (1983)

84. In the last years of the Seventeenth Century there was to be found among the fops and fools of the London coffee-houses one rangy, gangling flitch called Ebenezer Cooke, more ambitious than talented, and yet more talented than prudent, who, like his friends-in-folly, all of whom were supposed to be educating at Oxford or Cambridge, had found the sound of Mother English more fun to game with than her sense to labor over, and so rather than applying himself to the pains of scholarship, had learned the knack of versifying, and ground out quires of couplets after the fashion of the day, afroth with Joves and Jupiters, aclang with jarring rhymes, and string-taut with similes stretched to the snapping-point. —John Barth, The Sot-Weed Factor (1960)

85. When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon. —James Crumley, The Last Good Kiss (1978)

86. It was just noon that Sunday morning when the sheriff reached the jail with Lucas Beauchamp though the whole town (the whole county too for that matter) had known since the night before that Lucas had killed a white man. —William Faulkner, Intruder in the Dust (1948)

87. I, Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus This-that-and-the-other (for I shall not trouble you yet with all my titles) who was once, and not so long ago either, known to my friends and relatives and associates as "Claudius the Idiot," or "That Claudius," or "Claudius the Stammerer," or "Clau-Clau-Claudius" or at best as "Poor Uncle Claudius," am now about to write this strange history of my life; starting from my earliest childhood and continuing year by year until I reach the fateful point of change where, some eight years ago, at the age of fifty-one, I suddenly found myself caught in what I may call the "golden predicament" from which I have never since become disentangled. —Robert Graves, I, Claudius (1934)

88. Of all the things that drive men to sea, the most common disaster, I've come to learn, is women. —Charles Johnson, Middle Passage (1990)

89. I am an American, Chicago born—Chicago, that somber city—and go at things as I have taught myself, free-style, and will make the record in my own way: first to knock, first admitted; sometimes an innocent knock, sometimes a not so innocent. —Saul Bellow, The Adventures of Augie March (1953)

90. The towers of Zenith aspired above the morning mist; austere towers of steel and cement and limestone, sturdy as cliffs and delicate as silver rods. —Sinclair Lewis, Babbitt (1922)

91. I will tell you in a few words who I am: lover of the hummingbird that darts to the flower beyond the rotted sill where my feet are propped; lover of bright needlepoint and the bright stitching fingers of humorless old ladies bent to their sweet and infamous designs; lover of parasols made from the same puffy stuff as a young girl's underdrawers; still lover of that small naval boat which somehow survived the distressing years of my life between her decks or in her pilothouse; and also lover of poor dear black Sonny, my mess boy, fellow victim and confidant, and of my wife and child. But most of all, lover of my harmless and sanguine self. —John Hawkes, Second Skin (1964)

92. He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad. —Raphael Sabatini, Scaramouche (1921)

93. Psychics can see the color of time it's blue. —Ronald Sukenick, Blown Away (1986)

94. In the town, there were two mutes and they were always together. —Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1940)

95. Once upon a time two or three weeks ago, a rather stubborn and determined middle-aged man decided to record for posterity, exactly as it happened, word by word and step by step, the story of another man for indeed what is great in man is that he is a bridge and not a goal, a somewhat paranoiac fellow unmarried, unattached, and quite irresponsible, who had decided to lock himself in a room a furnished room with a private bath, cooking facilities, a bed, a table, and at least one chair, in New York City, for a year 365 days to be precise, to write the story of another person—a shy young man about of 19 years old—who, after the war the Second World War, had come to America the land of opportunities from France under the sponsorship of his uncle—a journalist, fluent in five languages—who himself had come to America from Europe Poland it seems, though this was not clearly established sometime during the war after a series of rather gruesome adventures, and who, at the end of the war, wrote to the father his cousin by marriage of the young man whom he considered as a nephew, curious to know if he the father and his family had survived the German occupation, and indeed was deeply saddened to learn, in a letter from the young man—a long and touching letter written in English, not by the young man, however, who did not know a damn word of English, but by a good friend of his who had studied English in school—that his parents both his father and mother and his two sisters one older and the other younger than he had been deported they were Jewish to a German concentration camp Auschwitz probably and never returned, no doubt having been exterminated deliberately X * X * X * X, and that, therefore, the young man who was now an orphan, a displaced person, who, during the war, had managed to escape deportation by working very hard on a farm in Southern France, would be happy and grateful to be given the opportunity to come to America that great country he had heard so much about and yet knew so little about to start a new life, possibly go to school, learn a trade, and become a good, loyal citizen. —Raymond Federman, Double or Nothing (1971)

96. Time is not a line but a dimension, like the dimensions of space. —Margaret Atwood, Cat's Eye (1988)

97. He—for there could be no doubt of his sex, though the fashion of the time did something to disguise it—was in the act of slicing at the head of a Moor which swung from the rafters. —Virginia Woolf, Orlando (1928)

98. High, high above the North Pole, on the first day of 1969, two professors of English Literature approached each other at a combined velocity of 1200 miles per hour. —David Lodge, Changing Places (1975)

99. They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the white people did. —Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (1966)

100. The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting. —Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage (1895)

Chico and the Man - Closing Theme Song

Chico and the Man - Closing Theme Song

I have been looking for this clip for years. Thank you so much Television Tunes!

Chico and the Man.

On YouTube this is described as "the controversial theme song to the show." Hmmmmm? I don't know about that, but I do know that I LOVE this song.

Small Wonder. (Big Wonder that this horrid show had multiple seasons.)

There's a page on the internet that's dedicated to fan fiction for this show. And the creepiest part is a lot of it is soft porn. It's like Gordon Jump just couldn't get over the fact Dudley and Arnold got away from his bike shop before the deed could be done, so he had to let his energies out some other way.

Possibly the Longest Intro Song for a Sitcom Ever.

I loved Joanie Loves Chachi. I went to see Scott Baio at a theme park and actually heard this song sung live. Be still my beating heart. This song is wretched, and I know it now, but my nine year old self was unaware. (Side note, I really wanted to use the show's intro version but someone had requested embedding be disabled on youtube. Wah.)

For Jeremy.

I think my dear, dear friend Jeremy and I were the only ones in the world that watched this show. And knew all the words. And would sing it at the most inappropriate times. Why don't TV shows have songs anymore? Damn you, Seinfeld, and your bass fifteen second intro. I need lyrics. I need jingles!

Different Worlds.

I LOVED this song. I think I watched the sitcom just because of it. Plus, can you really get enough Donna Pescow in your life?

Sucky Parents.

Sucky parents come in a vast array. You've got the really sucky ones that inspire things like "Push, the novel by Sapphire" (and why is that how you always hear it referred to as this? Why not just "Push?" You don't hear "Franny and Zoey, the novel by JD Salinger." Kind of weird.) And there are the sucky parents that ignore their kids and aren't there for them when they need them. Or the sucky parents that push their kids really hard to be perfect. The list of categories could go on forever. The kind I have in mind this morning, however, are the kind of parents that let their kids do anything so long as they are semi-quiet so that they don't have to pay attention to them and can have an adult conversation.

At a brunch restaurant where there's always a wait, a couple with two children were speaking with another childless couple. They were waiting outside. The mall strip had surrounded all of the trees with decorative black river stone. Not the small stuff -- the big stones that are almost as big as ostrich eggs. The youngest of the boys was wallowing in the stones. Rolling in them like it was a bed of feathers and he was on ecstasy and couldn't prevent himself from enjoying the amazing texture. Then it occurred to him he could pick them up individually. What do you do then? Well, when there's no one of authority to tell you not to, apparently the answer is throw them. Throw them at nearby parked cars. At passing people. At your brother. And when your parents, who are in clear view of you but you seem to be wearing an invisibility cloak that works only on them, continue to say nothing, you elevate your game. The kid was beaming these rocks at the building, windows (luckily dad didn't pay very much attention to the kid ever and so he had very bad aim from never having played catch with the old guy in the backyard) and more people. I was just standing up to go have a little conversation with the parents when a woman coming in said to him, "That's a rock. You hit the building which was one inch from my foot. It would have hurt. Just as bad as if I took one and threw it at you with all my might and energy. Maybe you should find something else to do."  No parental reaction, but the kid did find something else to do. He went back to rolling in the rocks like he was waiting for a lover to come and make out with him a la From Here to Eternity. Thank God for strangers.

It takes a village, they say. And the reason? There are a lot of jackasses out there that don't do their number one priority job of raising their kids themselves and force others into the position of having to do it for them.

My Ally McBeal Personal Theme Song.

This was the themesong to a very short lived tv series based loosely on Saturday Night Fever. I choose to ignore the irony that the show, and for the most part the rest of David Naughton's career, totally failed.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

DIY -- For Fun or Getting Your Ass Kicked.

found at Sober in a Nightclub

Living in a neighborhood where off-street parking is a luxury, you learn to really hate the bastards that can't be bothered with parking etiquette. I've had three friends over the years that have made their own "fuck you, bad parker" notes to leave behind on windshields. My favorite was a friend that had someone who always took his assigned spot in a tiny little lot. Having enough, he wrote the "Hey, Asshole" note and left it behind. What he'd not factored in is that since it was an assigned spot, the note was far from anonymous. Of course it was a huge bodybuilder that came to the door demanding, "You write this?" Luckily, the guy just laughed and apologized.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

To Blog or Not to Blog. A Question That Is.

In recent days I have referred several people to things I have written about on this blog. I always feel a little weird about it. Part of it is just goofy stuff, but a lot of it is very personal. It should be. A blog is basically a better-developed series of Doogie Howser endings, right? I tend to be a little too open about myself anyway, and it doesn't seem odd to me to write love letters to Lost or contemplate the nature of love gone wrong. But then I wonder -- does it make sense to other people? Am I opening myself up to odd criticisms that I will never hear but will always be in the head of readers who wonder what the hell is the matter with me? It seems to me that your own personal blog should be the one place where internal edit is off. You say what you wish. If people aren't interested, or if they find themselves disturbed by what they find, then clearly they have the option of clicking away.

Life is rough, and I often don't know what to do about it. Blogging is a form of catharsis, I guess. I get it out, I don't publish the heaviest of the things, and then I find some cute picture of a koala saying "fuck you" and call it a day.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Disclaimer Note.

The majority of today's posts were found in a folder where I'd simply stored things. I have no citations or referring links. I apologize for this, as it really bothers me to use something that doesn't belong to me and offer no proper gratitude. So, if any of these are yours, please feel free to send a message and I'll give your proper credit. I thank you all for your original posts, or for continuing to share posts found elsewhere. Often times, these posts are what make a day a happy one for me, and I appreciate your sense of humor and time.

I May Not Be Green With Ragged Clothing, But I Think I May Be the Hulk, Just the Same.

I Guess This Explains Why It's Such a Prevalent Part of My Vocabulary.

Maybe You Should Go And Think About What It Is You Did.

Things That Made Me Laugh.

The Internet Was Designed Largely to Make Me Laugh.

A lot of Images That Made Me Laugh, Except for the Stars One, That One Just Made Me Think.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Busy, Busy Grapevine.

In college, a small little clique-within-a-clique started that we referred to as "The Grapevine Supper Club." It was a group of boozy boys and catty girls, and there was always something going on that warranted closer inspection and scrutiny. It's remarkable how gossip, which I suppose I must finally admit I engage in, spreads and how very fast it moves.

As an adult in the teaching profession, I assumed people would very much mind their business. I was terribly wrong. Always the last to find out about things, I discovered I was one of the very few people minding my own. Tending to other people's was the course de jour. When I lost my job, I intended to keep it very quiet. I told only four people and intended to keep it that way until the close of school for the summer was afoot. Within three hours, people I hadn't talked to in years were coming by to tell me how sorry they were for me. I don't know if I was more pissed off or stunned and intrigued with how the grapevine works. Yesterday, a colleague experienced the breaking of her final straw and left in a quasi-blaze of glory. Not quite "Grab Two Beers and Slide," but "retiring" on the first day of school does not happen with regularity. I spoke with her directly and so I knew fairly early on. Last night, my cell phone, email and facebook were on fire. Never saw so many "OMG!s" delivered to my inbox in all my life.

People are just bored by their own lives. Anything out of the norm entertains us, and there's some special delight in being able to be the first to let someone else know. I'm the guilty gossip, I suppose. I do my very best not to spread it at all. When I know something about someone, I keep it to myself. I positively do not believe in letting out things about someone's private lives to others. And yet, I do enjoy hearing tales from others... It's all very train-wreck for me. A very strange feeling to be completely drawn to and repulsed by something at the same time.

Monday, August 16, 2010

What To Do When Nobody Loves You Anymore -- Instant Affection!

This is What "Adorable" Is.

Mr. Show's Homage to Sid & Marty Kroftt

I don't know if you can even count this as parody. It's so spot-on, it may just be a genuine lost episode.

Twin Beaks - An Homage.

My mother had a love/hate relationship with Twin Peaks. In the days before we owned a recording device, I asked her to watch so she could tell me what had happened. When I got home, I found her watching Beverly Hills, 90210 instead. She told me, "I don't know what to tell you. There was a crazy killing and then suddenly there was a white horse standing in the middle of the living room. I gave up." However, she at least appreciated my adoration of the show. At the time it was on, my niece was about two years old. She had just taken to watching Sesame Street. One afternoon when I got home from high school, she had this recorded and waiting for me (Christmas gave me what I wanted that year, a VCR!). An awesome homage!

"Albert's Path is a Strange and Difficult One."

This was always one of my favorite moments from Twin Peaks. Looks like Chris over at Cynical-C has been feeling a little nostalgic as late, too. Thanks, Chris!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Nostalgia in the Wee Small Hours of the Morning.

Summer insomnia will make a person seek out all sorts of media they may usually ignore. I've spent a lot of hours this summer listening to old records, actually watching things I own on DVD, and reading those books that have accumulated for "someday." Last night was no exception. A trip to Half Price Books was a winner yesterday, making me the proud owner of Seasons 1 and 2 of Facts of Life.

I loved this show when it originally aired, watching it all the way from the Molly Ringwald days to the Over Our Heads/George Clooney/Mackenzie Astin days. The girls were thin, not so thin, totally un-thin, back to not so thin. It wasn't a life-changing show, really. When compared to some of the brilliant teen shows that have existed since (ie Freaks and Geeks, My So Called Life, The OC, Skins, The In-Betweeners, The Wonder Years), it pales so as to almost be invisible. Oh, but it had its moments. Who can forget Blair trying to convince Tootie that a bong was designed to hold jelly beans, Tootie becoming a major sex symbol model at age 12 but refusing to "make love to the camera," embarrassment replaced by Blair's pride in Cousin Jerri who had MS, Jo shoplifting Mrs. Garrett a Hawaiian shirt for her birthday, Natalie being sexually assaulted while dressed as Charlie Chaplin (or was it Abbott and/or Costello?), or Blair losing all of her self-esteem when dating a verbally abusive boyfriend? Yes, life lessons were taught in a single half-hour episode (unless, of course, it was a "very special episode" that was done in more than one part, or the girls were on some sort of holiday and they had their own two hour special tv movie), and they usually had to be hammered in by Edna Garrett's extremely loud and screechy dulcet tones. Subtlety was not its strong suit. I was precisely the right age for Facts of Life. When it first started I was five, and while that was a tad young,(I remember an early episode about Sex Education where my mother made me turn it off) it did allow me to grow with the show. I still cared when it finally ended nine years later. (Well, kind of cared. I'd actually stopped watching it a few years before, but it was still on my radar.)

So, last night I watched a few of the very early episodes, saving my very favorite, "Dope," for last. It made me nostalgic as hell. It made me long for my youth, undoubtedly, but it also made me long for a friend that I've lost touch with. One of the dearest friends I ever had, Jeremy, and I used to LOOOOVE Facts of Life. We would pretend to be Edna and Blair, reciting the cheesiest of lines for entertainment. We loved it more in our late adolescence than we'd loved it at the time it was first on. We'd catch it in re-runs, and there were certain episodes that were just so good we remembered. It felt almost wrong to be watching the show without him beside me on the couch. His ghost was certainly present, though. Almost palpable. Life just sort of happens, and we lose touch with one another. One life goes in one direction, another goes someplace entirely different. I miss him, obviously. I don't really have a good way to reconnect with him, so I take a wistful "c'est la vie" attitude about my nostalgia. Edna didn't have to screech this one out to me, though. This one was a fact of life I learned all on my own.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

"That is One Nutty Hospital."

Watching Tootsie. I have such a soft spot for this film. Everyone in it is just so good. We're in an odd generation right now, in terms of actors. There are, of course, some amazing ones out there, but your typical film doesn't have an entire cast of outstanding, natural actors. I don't know who this generation's primary talents are, for certain. But in 1982, when this film was released, it had a lot of star power and a lot of talent. In one film, you had Dustin Hoffman, Bill Murray, Teri Garr, Jessica Lange, Dabney Coleman, Sydney Pollack, and Charles Durning. Each is as great as the other, and the entire film -- a piece of fluff, really -- is a work of beauty.

For those unenlightened, the premise of the film: Michael Dorsey (Hoffman)is an unemployed actor. He's dedicated to his craft and determined to always do as he believes it should be done. No one is willing to work with him. He gets a chance at a soap acting gig, but it must be as his created alter-ego, Dorothy Michaels.(At one point he informs his best friend, "I don't believe in Hell. I believe in unemployment, but I don't believe in Hell.") He becomes a national sensation, but keeping the secret is maddening. Only his best friend, Jeff, knows the truth. He can't tell his friend Sandy because she tried out for the part and didn't get it. To keep her off the trail, he sleeps with her, creating a tense situation where she repeatedly gets hurt. Hoffman befriends a co-star, Julie (Lange), and ultimately falls in love with her. Julie is dating Ron (Coleman), who treats her poorly. Julie's father meets and falls in love with Dorothy, never knowing that Dorothy is really Michael. What Michael did simply to work takes over his entire life, and he has no idea what he's doing or how to get out of it and return to what his life was, or what it should be.

It could've been Le Cage Aux Falles, a huge broad farce. Instead, there's lots of subtlety to it. Okay, fine, there is a scene with Hoffman marching in place in front of flag in a sequined dress. But there are also lots of statements being made about gender inequality, about power and living life truthfully, about the lengths someone will go to in order to pursue their craft and support art, about the forms that love takes. You have Sandy in love with Michael, not because she wants to be necessarily, but because sex with a friend was supposed to lead there, even when it was clear it wasn't right. There is Van Horn in love with Dorothy, because she's the only one who ever openly rejected him as a Lothario. Les loves Dorothy because he sees in her a real companion -- someone whose company he genuinely enjoys and who fills the void left by his deceased wife. Ron loves everyone, but treats them all like hell. He tells Dorothy at one point, "You don't like me. There's very few women I can't make like me... I seduce a woman. She starts acting like I promised her something, then I start acting like I promised her something, and before you know it, I'm the one that's exploited." He has no idea that he's a complete ass who uses the women in his life, hurting them all. The reason for Michael's whole charade, of course, is his love of his best friend Jeff and the desire to help him put on a play he's poured his soul into. There is the beautiful friendship that develops between Dorothy and Julie, one full of love and mutual respect. And of course, the most important love story of all of them, the one between Michael and Julie. Michael sees his prophetic words develop and is smart enough to listen to them: "I think Dorothy is smarter than me." She is. She has created a relationship with Julie based on ideas, on encouragement, on all the important fronts that best friends need. From this, love grows. The song of the movie, "It Might Be You," ponders the questions of where real love could be found. "If I found the place, would I recognize the face?" There's so much growth for the characters in this film. Michael grows up. He realizes that he loves a woman, not only based on his sexual desire for her, but because of who she is.

It's a film about big, bold lies. These big, bold lies provide a canvas upon which truth is displayed. Only by pretending to be a woman does Michael come to understand them. The women in the film seem to only come to see who they are, or who they are capable of being, by learning from a man what it is female empowerment is all about.

It's no wonder that I return to this film time and again. It's goofy, and by turns quite serious. It's all about loving who you are, what you do, and those around you. What's not to love about this film?

This Graphic Makes it Appear That the Chipotle Ad Team Has Discovered My Feelings for Paul Rudd.


image found at Sober in a Nightclub

Further Proof of My Personal OCD.

image courtesy of Sober in a Nightclub

Though, I do think there really ought to be a comma prior to "thank you." Just a thought.

How Did I Miss This Great American Hero?

Wow. To paraphrase Airplane!, I picked the wrong week to stop paying attention to media. Somehow I missed the entire Steven Slater story. And what a story it is! My mom asked me if I'd been following the "airline story." She then proceeded to tell me the most kick-ass farewell-to-my-job story that I have ever heard. Beyond my, "That's fucking AWESOME!" response, I was left aptly in awe and speechless. Well done, sir. A tip of my hat to you.

Actual Footage

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Alpha Dog of the Week - Steven Slater
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionFox News

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sir Paul.

I went to see Paul McCartney last night. I had felt pretty indifferent about it, until we were actually there. Seat prices were steep; it was $250 apiece for our floor seats. I'd encouraged my fiance to get whatever he wanted, though, because I knew that the show meant a lot to him. He'd been a Beatles fan since grade school, and I knew for him, especially, it meant seeing a hero, seeing a legend perform. Such opportunities arise seldom in life.

I was very impressed with the show. This 60-something's stamina and ability were wowing. His voice sounded amazing. The fab four may have been initially dismissed, but the truth of the matter is they were fantastic musicians. They were real innovative artists who wrote cutting edge music and had the talent to back it up with their instruments, voices and personalities.

One of the things that was coolest for me were the stories that Paul included in the show. Sometimes it was a simple explanation for an homage, sometimes it was the inspiration behind a song. The sorts of things that fans speculate about but never know for certain. One of my most favorite Beatles songs is "Blackbird." Last night, Paul explained that that particular song was written during the period of the Little Rock Nine desegregation in Arkansas, and it was written to offer some hope to those nine brave teens, as well as the rest of the American south. It made a beautiful song all the more meaningful.

It's remarkable what the Beatles, and all of the solo projects that occurred after the band, have meant to the world. Looking at it from a historical perspective, this was a group of young men that transformed the world. They were present from the very beginnings of rock and roll, and changed it from being something that was simply danceable bubble gum to being sound experimentation. They took their popular culture icon status and used it for good -- looking to educate the world about alternative lifestyles, about causes they believed in, about global issues. Certainly any flea market worth its salt also proves that they changed the face of merchandising in America. The concept of the teenager was fairly new as the Beatles emerged as giants. Their faces were used to hawk everything from body powder to breakfast cereals. Millions, upon millions, of dollars were exchanged between this newly recognized generation and capitalist retailers eager to win a piece of their dollar power. Most significant, of course, is the way in which this band personally affected their listeners.

My mother was in early twenties and living in Washington D.C. during the time of the British Invasion. She says that there were lots of buses covered with signs of warning, "The Beatles Are Coming!", but she was too involved in career and a new baby to pay much attention. Figuring it was advertising for a new car, she just didn't give it much thought. My best friend's mom, a bit younger, was the perfect age to become totally absorbed. I don't know that she had the Laverne & Shirley cut-out that required kissing upon departure and arrival, but she did follow them across the country, screaming her way through four or five shows.

I always liked the Beatles, but decided I really loved them in seventh grade. It seemed the whole lot of us did. You could tell who was cool and who wasn't by the number of Beatles cassettes they had. (Yeah, cassettes. Ah, the 80s.) We greedily purchased Smiths albums and Cure cassettes, and paid respects to the original great British recording artists by consuming as much Beatles as possible along with it. I associate the Beatles with so many different people in my life, especially boyfriends. A love of them was just sort of a given for quite a while, though I have a very strong memory of one fellow as just being REM, Sonic Youth, and the Beatles. He made a mix tape for me one time that had all sorts of wonderful things on it, including a Laibach version of "Across the Universe." It was a great bonding issue with a teacher, and we'd spend hours talking about the importance of Abbey Road. A road trip with a college boyfriend to his pal's glass blowing studio is laden with Beatles memories. We sat all night in a converted-barn studio, watching the artist at work, making glass pieces. It was bitterly cold outside, and no one wanted to go back to the house for additional music. We listened to a small tape deck playing Let it Be, over and over again. But these were "guy" guys, and that meant they fast forwarded through "The Long and Winding Road" every single time, and that made me sad, because it was my favorite on the tape. Later, I recall driving home a guy I was interested in and didn't know if we had anything in common. I put in a tape and said, "This should work. Everybody loves the Beatles, right?" to which he responded, "I don't." Ooooh. This made him mysterious and a challenge. I'd never met such an animal before. I dated another guy during the big Beatles anniversary period, when ABC aired the documentaries and newly remastered CD collections were released. It was like manna for him to hear the interviews, to watch the video, to obtain a never-before-heard recording. I think he actually went out and purchased the CD with "Free as a Bird" at a midnight sale, just so he could be the first of our little group to have it. A Brazilian friend of a friend in college was named Michele, after the song. It was how her parents learned English. I was at a girlfriend's new home recently, and one of her prized possessions was an antique record player she'd found at a thrift shop. She had only one album, the White album. Despite this being a two-album set, she just kept playing Album One, Side Two, over and over. "Martha, My Love," will always make me think of her now. She's younger,and my fiance actually asked her at one point if she realized that albums, unlike CDs, could be turned over and new material could be played. (She just made a mean face, and we never figured out if she knew or not.)

At the concert, you saw people of every age, all equally delighted to be seeing Paul in person. Some of my former students were there, one with his grandfather, which I thought was really cool. It's pretty rare that something spans the generations anymore. Lately, when attending shows, I've felt like a hired chaperone, watching over all the youngin's. It was actually nice to be in a sea peppered with gray hair and feel somewhat youthful at a rock concert for a change.

The show itself consisted of what you'd expect it to. Lots of Beatles, a few new songs that you sat through politely though they were pretty "meh," and, honestly, not enough Wings for my liking. Despite my passion for the kitsch factor, there was also not any sort of rendition of "Ebony and Ivory" anywhere in sight. Without sounding too maudlin, I really had a great time seeing a living legend, playing what I'd never really contemplated before as a soundtrack of my life. I doubt there's a soul that attended the show that couldn't second that statement.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hurt People Hurt People. The Mel Gibson Debacle.

Mel Gibson's Ex-Wife Defends Him in Court

Radar Report/Argument Audio Tape

I heard this particular voicemail the other day, along with most of the world. The usual thoughts ran through my mind: how awful that someone had a private moment revealed to the public, how awful that something that started out as love became something unidentifiable, how heinous he sounds, how cold she sounds, curiosity about what the real story behind the moment without context is. I've often thought that nothing in the world would be as horrible as being famous and perpetually having your privacy violated. Instances such as these just enhance that belief.

This particular situation really struck a nerve with me, though. It was like being transported back in time. For some time I was in a relationship where such tirades were de rigueur. It was horrible, but it never occurred to me to leave because I was a)young and kind of stupid; b)totally in love; c)had very little self-esteem and felt like it was warranted and d) recognized that the place it came from was a well of deep, deep hurt and pain. It was never a physically violent relationship. I don't excuse the verbal assaults or say they are justified, but I do get them. When I listen to Gibson lashing out at his lover, what I am hearing is a man in emotional agony. There's obviously a lot of projection going on with my observations, but this sounds like a man that gave up a thirty year marriage for something he thought he wanted and was warned against, just to discover that all of the warnings were true. He sounds lost and alone and a shadow of who he believed himself, and more importantly what he though other people believed him to be. And now it's public. At least when I was tirelessly berated it was in private. Having to deal with personal agonies along with judgments from a world that has no idea who you really are would be just about unbearable.

People have made a lot of snide comments about Gibson's ex-wife's statements along the lines of "say anything to keep your alimony." I don't think so, though. I think she was simply a woman who knew and loved her husband for thirty years. When you really know a person, really understand them, you can't help but empathize with them. It's not always healthy, and it probably keeps a lot of relationships together for far longer than they ought to go on. You can hate an action and still very much love the person. Damaged individuals lash out. I think it's a better response to consider where hurtful things come from them and try to understand than to simply dismiss. Cries for help come in all sorts of shapes, and it makes me sad for everyone involved here that they've been aired so publicly.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The End From Where I Was.

Jim Hodges, The end from where you are, 1998. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, restricted gift in memory of John S. Baran with additional restricted support from the Meta S. and Ronald Berger Family Foundation

This is a piece hanging in Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art. As a rule, I appreciate art. I see its beauty, I see the artist's talent, I appreciate its context. There are very few times that I have ever been truly moved by a piece of work, however. This particular piece set off in me a depression I've not yet been able to overcome. It is silk flowers, delicately sewn together, with bits of colored silk strewn throughout. This is what the end is from where I am. What the artist's intent was, I have no way of really knowing. But for me, this was indeed the end from where I was. The end comes, filled with darkness, filled with sadness, filled with the fragility of delicate memories, hopes achieved, failures magnified. So many things have deaths; we lose things daily. For some of us, we die a thousand little deaths each and every waking day. This has been a year of deaths for me. The death of a career, the death of friendships at the place where I worked, the death of faith in myself as a capable adult. This trip was a death, too. Not all deaths are sad. This was the death of pain, suffering and blame I'd carried with me for many years. Mixed with those things were the loss of the love of youth, the ecstasy of insatiable sex, the memories tied to dedications of love that would last a life time. My colored bits; they were a bit sad to see disappear with the rest, but the promise of what the beginning will be from where I am is far brighter. I'd rather have a friend forever, without fear of loss, without fear of abandonment, than the weight I'd clung to for so long.

I Guess I'd Rather Be Emo Than an Emu. Emus are Kind of Fucked Up and Mean.

image courtesy of Sober in a Nightclub

This I Dedicate to the Bitch at the MCA Gift Shop That Took Ten Years To Ring Up a Fucking Chocolate Bar and a Set of Salt & Pepper Shakers.

image courtesy of Sober in a Nightclub

Elves. This Made Me Laugh So Hard I Almost Peed.

image courtesy of Sober in a Nightclub

Human Nature and Doubt.

I've never been a Michael Jackson fan. Just never really appealed to me. I was a kid when Thriller came out, probably fifth grade or so. Everyone else was caught up in the fever that hit, but it just wasn't something I latched on to. As he aged, there seemed to be so many odd things that came out about his life, and it was easy to dismiss him as an out-of-control pop star. Neverland, the sleepovers with kids, the odd friendships he struck with other celebrities -- they all seemed like something that someone empty did to fulfill a vision. When the trials were held over molestation charges, it made sense. An odd duck's real secret came out. I never gave it much thought; like too many people in the United States I tend to believe that charges equal guilt. After his death, there have been so many depictions of what his life was like, all showing him in a very sympathetic light. I've not ever watched any them -- again, it's because of lack of interest. Tonight, on the anniversary of his death, I got sucked into one of these docudramas. I found myself really thinking about this man. Such a sad life. Just a misfit his whole life, and one that everyone wanted a piece of. Before, I'd always assumed that the stories of molestation rang true. Now, I find myself questioning these assumptions. This man identified with children as opposed to adults. He had so much love in his life for which he seemingly had no outlet. There are people in my life that I can easily see sleeping in a bed with without any sexual overtones. You can love and want to simply be sweet with them and share your adoration without any discomfort or additional impulses. It dawned on me that if I can easily understand this about myself, I am a total hypocrite for not being able to see it in someone else. No one knows for certain, other than the man and the children with whom he spent time. When you stop and pay attention to a person's real story, the things that shaped them, the hurt they were never able to overcome, the real motivations that spurred them onward, your outlook about that person changes, too. At least if you have a heart. I'll never be a fan. I'll never sport a "I Heart MJ Forever" tee shirt. I'll always ride on the fence on what I think about his dalliances with children. As with so many other people and events, I am far more willing to be hopeful about character and disappointed than completely jaded and filled with unjustified blame. To quote a self-described angster rap artist, "Just because someone over thirty plays with a child that isn't their own, doesn't mean they're a pedophile. Some people are just nice."

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Drew Carey May Not Be Bob Barker, But He's Certainly Grown On Me.

When people hear the word "fantasy," sex is usually the first association. It's not to say that I don't have a few of these. There was a certain staff member I'd love to have banged in the student greenhouse, after all. But my fantasies really lend themselves to a much more mundane world. I dream of finding specific, amazing antiques. I think about who I'd give away my fortune to should I ever be lucky enough to win a lottery. I long to be the next person to make an archeological discovery akin to the Rosetta Stone. I want to travel the world in style, sampling every nation, every exotic locale I've ever heard described. But my most specific is all about The Price Is Right.

I hear my name called to "Come on Down." I hit the bid on the nose, and win $500, straight out of the gate from Contestant's Row. I get to play Golden Road, and the prizes are a worldwide vacation, $50,000 to spend along the way, and an apothecary chest. (Plinko, hitting the $10,000 spot each time, is a close second.) I, of course, hit a dollar on my first spin, and then the nickel spot on my second go. I am awarded the appropriate gifts for my ability to do so. I play the Showcase, and I am not only under, I am within $100 of my bid, and I win both showcases!!!! I win several trips here, a new car, a houseful of new appliances and carpet, and a jukebox. All of this, and I am allowed to be the one who asks viewers that day to "Have Your Pets Spayed or Neutered."

Wildly inappropriate fucking is one thing, but The Price is Right, man. That's just unbeatable shit right there.