The ChuckleHut

[ Friday, February 28, 2003 ]

Another dawn breaks clear and maybe just a little earlier, and I am clear and early too. Today I staff a meeting of the Legal Services Trust Fund Commission, which means I don't have to read files, I don't have to call people up and aggravate them, and I don't have to bring my lunch. All this is only made sweeter by my ability to drive to work instead of bussing it in, and the anticipation of leaving just a little early so I can relieve the dog, medicate the cat, and still make it to Happy Hour, which promises to be an unusually festive occasion.

Why the recitiation? Because I'll be away from my desk for so much of today that I won't be able to graze the meadows of blogdom as is my wont. But it'll be OK. I have so declared it.

My ability to declare everything OK puts me in mind of the many people, both hither and yon, who are taking classes or are, heaven forbid, actually in school full-time. Even those planning on further education are on my mind. Not because I wish to join their ranks - as of right now, the idea of sitting in a lecture just isn't toasting my crumpets. However, I do think that I'd be one hell of a lecturer. I enjoy being kissed up to and having unfettered discretion to ruin people's lives. Furthermore, I have a pedagogic mien, a voice that demands respect and attention, and illegible handwriting. As I understand it, these are the three main areas of study at teachers' colleges worldwide. Having rendered their curriculum superfluous, it only remains to choose a course that I should teach. Luckily, I have a wealth of useful knowledge to expound and disseminate:
* Other Uses for Your Plunger
* Making a Mess of Everything
* How to be Late
* Repressing Yourself
* What's That Smell? (prerequisite for "Has This Gone Bad?")
* The Exploding Ego and the Withered Id
* Spacing Out (advanced)
* Ingratiating Yourself (prerequisite: Shmoozing)
* Sugary Snacks: An Overview
* Things You Can Do with Toothpicks and Pipecleaners
* Practical Self-Abuse
* The Underware Drawer: Mysteries Revealed
* Getting Out of Stuff
* Gluing Your Fingers Together
* Favorite Bulges of Western Civilization
* Introductory Poking
* Wander Aimlessly - Today!
* Living Comfortably on $30,000 a Day
* Gibberish
* Pizza Delivery Explained
* Towelling Off
* How to Lose Your Keys
* Spicing Up Your Fantasy Life

Registration begins immediately. Bribes are cheerfully accepted, but I promise nothing. Lots of nothing. See you all again soon.

thats just the way it seems to me at [7:39 AM]

[ Thursday, February 27, 2003 ]

I know you're all wondering how the bargaining and mediation went yesterday. It went poorly. We've done yeoman's work, all of us, and it's been thrown back in our faces with such disdain that it's hard to stay positive about what we've accomplished. Which, on behalf of the workforce here, is basically squat. Every time we ask to go into caucus, management seems to think it means we want it in the back door. (Pause for rim shot. On the drums.) At one point, the management negotiator (who'd just reaffirmed that their offer was nothing at all for three years, and all the sand we can pound) started intimating that some of the ancillary technical issues we'd already tentatively agreed on might not be in their "last, best, final" offer. The matronly and commanding mediator fixed him with a steely gaze and warned him, "I hope you're not planning on pissing backwards." He grinned and shook his head. I gritted my teeth. We may have to go on strike. At least I got some nice trips to LA and a free frequent flyer's ticket on Southwest, the airline that used to have a sense of humor before they realized they were industry leaders.

My computer's internet connection shuts down in five minutes. I declare my workday done. Time for a beer.
thats just the way it seems to me at [5:00 PM]

I've been unable to get independent confirmation, but if Bob Edwards says it, I believe it. And what he said this morning had all the makings of a medical blockbuster. One of the cute little stories they do on the half hour on Morning Edition concerned a woman who actually gave birth in the "Easy Pass" lane of an underground thoroughfare in New York. Let's put aside, for the moment, the monsterous Freudian implications of subterrenean birth, or birth in a car, or birth at all... my attention was first drawn to the happy coincidence of "Easy Pass" for the natal process. Imagine if she'd been in the "breech lane" or the "erythroblastosis fetalis" lane or the "like hell I'm going out there" lane. "Easy Pass" sounds like a good choice for all expectant mothers. And what's more, even though this mom started out driving by herself when she went underground, by the time she got back above ground she had another passenger in the car and could legally drive in the high occupancy lanes. This is probably the world's fastest onset of carpool tunnel syndrome. Thank you very much.
thats just the way it seems to me at [12:52 PM]

[ Wednesday, February 26, 2003 ]

This has been a hard day that began when I read a powerful blog post at 4:30 am. I tried to write a comment to it but everything went down and I don't think it posted and I didn't have time to fix it. But I knew that some response was called for, so I wrote this open letter to my friend - you know who you are. Yes, you.

I read your words and feel beaten, battered by vicarious admissions, griefs, despairs and tribulations, recognizing in each verbal gesture you have made - graceful, tragic poetry - a whisper of the life I've led, but overwhelmed by sharp new failures (real or perceived), a bitterness of broken hopes as pungent as a spoiled soup. My fingers clutch at air while desparate revelations rain upon me, sit here helpless to assist, to comfort, to assume the burden of your pain or even to express my sympathy, support, my own experience of shock, defeat, denial, sorrow...

I know better than to think a postcard from a total stranger could have salved the wounds that you have suffered me to view; my retroactive benedictions crumble in my mouth like pages of an ancient book too old and tired to be read, collapsing from the weight of years. It staggers me how brave you are to tear off your integument, to reify your scars and piercings, launching truths into the ether that have brought you all the wisdom martyrs earn, sharing that which can't be borne alone.

There's much I cannot understand, that would evade me even were I pouring you a cup of tea and waiting quietly for tears to start or stop. But know this well: I'm on a plane at thirty thousand feet, wedged tight between a laptop suit and double panes of plastic, peering out across a plain of clouds that blow beyond the curving limits of my sight, opaque and secretive, but still -

in this broad cloudbank there's a break - small in comparison to all but huge when scaled to myself - and through it streams a vibrant sun that feeds the dusty fields below... and now it's passed behind me, clouds converge again and swallow up the view, but I will not forget they broke to let the vital truth shine down, and someday I will eat the peaches, drink the wine of grapes that bathed in that evaporated, evanescent window in the sky....

I have in my life been blessed beyond my earning of it by the love of brilliant people. All this began near twenty years ago, yet still is fresh and true as grass that bursts through frozen concrete in the spring. I assumed that these dear friends were all I had been vouchsafed; still today I strive to prove to them how much they meant and mean to me. Then just a year ago it started happening again; I found new places in my heart that had been filled without my knowing, filled with love for special people who had brought me unexpected joy and satisfaction of community. Now, again, without a physical component, I perceive a gathering, upswelling, a renewed assurance that the world has much to offer, scattered places populated by new friends of genius, sensitivity and wit who habitate where I would never think to seek them out, but who have found me nonetheless. All this must be reflected back on you, as you are truly such a central part of it for me. I hold you in my heart and cherish friendship.

Descent begins - the blather ends. The clouds have parted. Sunlight shines on everything, and sundogs trail at my shoulder.

thats just the way it seems to me at [9:29 PM]

When I got started here I feared
to be identifiable -
irrationally petrified
it made my heart shut down inside me
like I felt when I was small
and knew if anybody saw
or even thought of me I'd die, or worse -
I'd disappear as if I'd never been.
I made myself a name that didn't
fool a soul except my own
and shared myself with all who'd have me
revelations, jokes, flirtations,
made myself a new persona
others started to identify
me with the name that hid my face
I made my rounds and, grateful,
also started making allies
approbation unexpected
strangers sharing, I with them,
and once I had submerged myself
in pseudononymous engagements
I came to realize my false
persona really was myself.
Why had I felt compelled to hide?

My real name, as dull as spoons
inciting those facetious nicknames
dandy dan or dantheman
and others equally unsuited
to my sense of who I was
which was, itself, a product of
those gradeschool recesses alone
the hours on my bed with books
or, wracked, frustrated, there without them,
rambling, insomniac, ungainly,
cleverer by far than wise,
my real name took on the traits
I hated most about myself
and then of course my clumsy surname,
overgrown, ridiculous,
again reminding me of me
until I just had to ignore
my name, identify with other things.
I think that may have some connection
to my lingering reluctance
to reveal myself by name
to those I now consider friends.
I chuckle humorlessly, wishing
something more from those connections
yet hide behind a moniker
that mocks my rank dishonesty.

I'll have to get this matter settled
learn to live as who I am
and fold the honesty I feel
when masquerading as another
with the self who really is -
ashamed, distorted, fearful, wary,
pupa in a chrysalis
that is my name
My name is Dan.
thats just the way it seems to me at [9:02 PM]

i feel like i'm falling
when i'm just standing still
ground rushing up to smash me flat
i know it's not gravity
everything sucks
and the best laid plans swim down the crapper
ask me again why i never smile
i'll tell you a story that never ends
each chapter tattooed on my shivering flesh
i just tear off a piece and read it in silence
i can smell the disgust and revulsion that follow
me through every alley and gas station restroom
forgot where i hid myself
never been lost like this
staggering, feeling the grinding of bone
against bone in my hip socket
wearing down faster now
vertebrae collapse together
shorter every step i take
slumping closer to the pavement
maybe if i just keep walking
through the nights of frigid blindness
days of lurid voiceless thoughts
i'm hoping if i just keep walking
i might disappear completely
thats just the way it seems to me at [8:45 PM]

[ Tuesday, February 25, 2003 ]

With Haloscan offline again I am thrown back on my own utterly onanistic tendencies - blogging for personal satisfaction, uncaring of the response I receive. That's probably healthy. Sadly, I really haven't had time to get good and bloggy today and I'll be away from my desk all day tomorrow, enjoying the Mediation and Reconciliation process in glorious Glendale. My constituency has laid this mantle of responsibility on my shoulders and, since we're all working without contracts and haven't gotten our health insurance updated as was promised to us by the zombie people, my teammates and I are going down to play some hardball. Meantime, the onus of ordinary work has been heavy and repetitive. In such circumstances, I think of strange little things and sometimes remember them later. While I'm waiting for my phone calls to be returned, permit me to disgorge:

* The equivocal Beatles: "Shake it up, maybe - Twist and/or shout...."
* I'm not too concerned about getting my freak on. I am, however, inordinately concerned about getting my freak off.
* There's a product on the market - one that I'm actually supposed to buy - called Liquid Gold. Ah, those innocent byegone days.... they'd never be able to get that name past the stockholders now.
* Today I had the opportunity to learn that there's a fellow practicing law in this state named "Richard Johnson, Esq." Come on, mom and dad - what were you thinking? This guy's whole name is a euphemism!

And finally, before I plunge myself back into the icy yet narcoleptic waters of my actual job duties, I will recall the big banner sign being displayed just off of Clement Street - "Oil Paintings and Man Made Frames". I've been wondering about this for a while now. I think I know what oil paintings are, but when you pair them with "man made frames" I start to question my premise. Are they distinguishing these paintings from the ones that come in naturally-occurring frames, wrested from the living earth? Or is it that the paintings themselves aren't man-made but are instead canvases pressed into cracks and fissures to capture the patterns created by actual untamed oil, reflecting nature's own creative process? Or is it - most likely of all - just more cheap crap to make your living room look like a tacky motel?

Okay, one more and I'll be done: maybe I'm late on the bandwagon but memepool is one hell of a way to diminish workplace productivity. I'll add it to my links list when I have a chance - meantime, don't deny yourselves the little pleasures life has to offer... or some of the bigger ones, if you can get hold of them....
thats just the way it seems to me at [4:44 PM]

[ Monday, February 24, 2003 ]

I recognize that I'm not the world's most technologically proficient guy. It took me three years to decide to learn how to program my VCR; I have no idea how to gussy up this blog; I don't think I actually believe in electricity. I'm no Luddite, I'm just old-fashioned. Verging on primitive, but accepting of new technologies - so long as others bear the burden of making them work.

But one particular challenge of modern mechanics is making me feel like I'm losing my right to remain in this millenium. Every time I confront it, I am bested. It should be easy. Little children do it. Old folks do it. It's the world's favorite tool, and each time I try to make it my own, I fail. Repeatedly, pathetically, inexplicably.

I cannot dial a telephone. Okay, I don't have a phone with a physical dial, but I can't punch in nine (or eleven) numbers in the proper order without screwing up between two and six times. First, I start reversing the numbers - not out of dyslexia, it doesn't happen in other contexts. Then, when I think of the digits in their proper order, I just punch the wrong buttons. I treat the phone keypad like a calculator keypad, which has a totally reversed orientation. Or my finger just strays and I hit the button next to the one I'm aiming for. Or I forget one number. Or I add one in that shouldn't have been there. There is no end to my creativity in foiling my own telephonic intentions.

My big idea is a phone dialer that lets me punch in all the numbers first and then go back and correct the ones I got wrong, before any of them are sent through the magical connection process. That way, once I've input a dozen numbers and realize I've gotten some of them wrong, I can just fix the errors without having to start from scratch. Is this on the market? If not, I get a cut as creative consultant. Or consulting klutz. Call me what you will - so long as the check clears.
thats just the way it seems to me at [7:28 PM]

I don't want to get all political so let me be brief. I support our armed forces. I support them with my taxes and with my preference that they not be placed unnecessarily in harm's way. People who are out demonstrating in support of war are, in fact, demonstrating in favor of dead soldiers. Whether killed by snipers, bombs, mustard gas, friendly fire or a bad case of flu, they are safer at home than they are in Iraq. There's a big - huge - difference between supporting a national policy of unprovoked aggression, and supporting our armed forces. That $50 billion the war is likely to cost (discounting post-armistice peacekeeping) - use it to give the grunts a living wage and get them off AFDC and food stamps. There may even be enough left over to fund fuel cell research and render the entire region of conflagration superfluous. But those of you who want war - don't kid yourselves. That's not supporting our armed forces any more than a vote for clearcutting shows support for trees.
thats just the way it seems to me at [7:16 PM]

- I can't eat that.
- Why not? It's delicious!
- Are you kidding? It's not even food.
- You know that's not true. You're just not used to it.
- And I don't want to be.
- Come on, give it a try. Broaden your horizons.
- I like my horizons where they are, thank you very much.
- Where I grew up, we ate this all the time.
- Yeah, and that's probably why you moved away.
- No it's not. I've missed it for years.
- Well I hope you enjoy it. I can't put that in my mouth.
- Loosen up. Doesn't it smell great?
- It doesn't look bad, but it smells like something someone already ate.
- You're gross. It's a delicacy. Just try one bite.
- What's it worth to you?
- Not this much. Forget it. You've got a bad attitude.
- And you've got bad taste.
- Yeah, me and 50 million of my best friends. Whatever. More for me.
- So is it as good as you remembered?
- Oh my goodness.
- That's not the face of someone who's enjoying a tasty delicacy.
- I don't know what happened. Maybe it went bad.
- Maybe it started bad.
- I've been dreaming of this for months. I remember it tasting so much better.
- Don't feel obliged to finish it. You'll make yourself sick.
- This is so disappointing.
- What to get a pizza?
- I think I lost my appetite.
thats just the way it seems to me at [7:08 PM]

[ Sunday, February 23, 2003 ]

I can see I don't have much time to get this posted because Blogger's going down in half an hour and I have to cook the fish for the burritos before the Simpsons come on anyway (one must maintain one's priorities after all) - but I couldn't let a full 24 hours pass without gushing about the amazing night we had last night with Sha and Helena at their beautiful multichromatic condo down the Peninsula. We discussed the intersections of politics and theology from the diametrically opposed perspectives of the Iranian revolution and the communist-era East German Lutheran Church, with first-hand perspectives and numerous tangents and detours. We dined fabulously on roast beef and chicken rolled in lavash, on grilled tomatoes (in Iran these fruits are called "foreign berries," I rather liked that) and lentil stew and my very favorite crunchy crusty rice and an insoucient and hearty merlot, and then rose-and-cream ice cream for dessert while we retired to the media parlor for a demonstration of their new projection system. They started us with a trailer for Lord of the Rings, just to show us how clear the picture could be, and it was significantly better than it had been when I saw the movie in an actual theater. Plus, the screen - a real pull-down movie screen - shows an image one hundred inches diagonal (80 inches wide, 60 tall). Our minds suitably blown, Sha plugged in the evening's primary entertainment, which, having been recorded on a VCR in EP mode, didn't do the large format justice (mighty blue justice) but was still a hell of a lot of fun. Four episodes of The (animated) Tick, and they let us bring home the whole six-tape collection afterwards. A selection of favorite lines from last night's selections:
"I don't like the look of those prickly succulents."
"No one could survive that much corn!"
"I am on a big power trip - and you are coming with me!"
"Evidently, angry clowns do charge."
"Once again, we find that clowning and anarchy don't mix."
"Didn't you realize it's against the laws of nature? Clowns were never meant to be so big!"
"Villains - I say to you now - knock off all that evil!"
-- and my favorite of all:
"We have reviewed your performance and found it to be flaccid and disappointing."

Yup. Been there. Right down to the moth suit. It was a whole weekend's worth of fun in a single night. Plus the third Sha-and-Helena visit in a week. I'm spoiled now. But that's all changing soon - I'm way behind at work now, with a veterinary appointment monday morning (lose half a day) and another session with the mediator in LA on wednesday (lose a whole day) and a Commission meeting on Friday (by when I'd damn well better have my ducks in a row, collated, cross-referenced, and while you're at it, better call the drakes and breeders to confirm certain obscure traits of heredity and behavior). In other words, much as I hate to tear myself from your collective bosom, I may not be posting as much or as often as I'd like this coming week. If I didn't like my work I'd be quite resentful. As it is I'm rather peeved.
thats just the way it seems to me at [6:54 PM]

[ Saturday, February 22, 2003 ]

In a world of crisis and controversy, I have now got a little shred of euphoric bliss. Steingarten teaches us, inter alia, that "blue is a color reserved for food that has gone bad." That's mostly true, but has no applicability to my beloved Booberry Cereal. I got a box a few months ago and made it last, damn it, savoring every drop of azure milk and every trace of marshmallow glue on my teeth. But there was also - be still, my trembling heart - a t-shirt offer on the box. Thursday, my vestment arrived. It's been washed to rid it of the unflattering packer's wrinkles and the stale scent of warehouses and postage, and now I'm ready to demonstrate my tasteful sophistication on my bulging pecs and rippling abs. Or, depending on how many more boxes I chew through, on my bulging abs and withering pecs. There's something about marshmallows and ghosts that makes me think, not so much of breakfast, as a tipsy late-night snack. Some cereal really shouldn't be eaten before dark.
thats just the way it seems to me at [4:48 PM]

I've been inspired by Matt's recent efforts to update hoary adages by changing one word. I'm not sure why he's identified as a "monkey boy" but that seems to be the way things are, and he took phrases we all know that feature the word "money" and switched in the word "monkey." That started me thinking. (Previously, my brain was mostly used as a paperweight.) I don't have any fun nicknames but there are a few phrases that I've always thought would go better if they were changed just a little, mostly by deleting a syllable or two. I thought I had a whole passel of these but, sitting here, I've only come up with five (four really, plus one that I just always thought was not being properly used in its most amusing way). Having exhausted my creative capacities on this score, I warmly invite anyone who wanders over here to add to this LIST OF IMPROVED ADAGES:

*Like a hot knife through butt
*Like a dog in a mange
*Prosecutors will be violated (as an attorney I always cherished the mental image of some uptight DA bent double over the bar and being forced to "take gavel")
* A spoonful of sugar helps me go down
-- and finally, though this is the actual phrase, I would prefer to use it other than as it has been traditionally implemented:
* Void where prohibited. (This one reminds me of the time a guy almost took my head off with nunchuks for wandering into his driveway to relieve myself.)

There have to be more. I just can't think of them right now.
thats just the way it seems to me at [3:58 PM]

This isn't funny, really. But it made everybody laugh. My bosses mother has lived in assisted care facilities for years, but recently her health took a downturn and she went into a hospital where she was prescribed a liquid diet. My boss was there to see how this diet was administered, and reports that, in somebody's thinking, a liquid diet includes a turkey sandwich stuffed in a mug. Later, she got a slice of chocolate cake - also mug-enstuffed. It seems that these little cuilinary quirks have been ironed out, but my boss remains vigilant. I send them both all my best wishes.

MORAL: Just because it fits in a cup doesn't mean you ought to drink it.
thats just the way it seems to me at [3:30 PM]

Has it been almost a week since I posted about public transit? I shame myself. It's not like nothing's going on out there. Like the big guy, tall and stocky, tough in his watchcap and canvas coat, heavy-jawed and stubble-cheeked, who walked the landings at the subterranean Civic Center light rail station where my train stopped briefly. His mouth was set in a hard frown and his eyes scanned the crowd like a hunter in a duckblind as he paced back and forth, holding up a quarter in his beefy hand, displaying it in a desparate, pleading gesture. I saw his eyes catch those of another denizen of the landing, a thinner, squirrely guy in a tan trenchcoat with greasy long hair, hollow cheeks and a clenched stride. Trenchcoat saw the quarter, saw the big guy coming at him, shrugged him off with a twitch of a shoulder and a dip of the head. They passed each other wordlessly, the big guy's eyes bugging and the muscles of his throat starting to strain. The train doors closed; we pulled away. The big guy kept pace for a moment, quarter still upraised, and then stopped and lowered his hand, doubled his fist around the coin. His face reddened with rage and pain. He started shouting but I couldn't hear what he said. I suspect it was an unarticulated ululation of despair.
thats just the way it seems to me at [3:21 PM]

Someone poached a condor. Sometimes people just piss me off.

The trail unfolds, and I with it;
our goal and purpose, neither knows,
yet on we go, our task implicit -
to struggle, naked and exposed
upon this paltry rocky crust
that hides our seething molten core,
sustained by nothing more than trust
that "yet to come" will best "before."
Today I heard they found a condor
dead from poacher's selfish shot;
I felt my spirit torn asunder,
rued my species' petty lot.
Those pterodactyls are to me
symbolic of a salvaged past
sustained in our captivity -
penultimate, if not the last
of vestiges of what we were.
I dreamed that I might yet succeed
if ancientness could still endure
and soar where nothing could impede
the vast outspreading of its wings
and where its cries could echo back
in canyons where creation clings
and thrives in every hidden crack.
Grotesque and scavenging, that bird
still gave me faith to tread my path;
In airy aeries it endured
our greed and jealousy and wrath.
We've come one condor closer now
to ridding ourselves of their gift;
I stand and scan the sky, my brow
upturned and sunburned as I drift,
awaiting guidance, inspiration,
something to compel my stride;
I hunger, tire, grow impatient,
fold my map, go back inside.
thats just the way it seems to me at [3:07 PM]

[ Thursday, February 20, 2003 ]

I was chatting with the wife a few nights ago and asked her what her favorite candy was when she was growing up. She instantly answered, "chocolate." I tried to get her to narrow it down a bit. After some serious thought she nominated peanut m&ms as her old-timey fave. This was most disappointing to me. There had to be more fun candy than that. I cogitated for a while and, by dint of pure mental power, returned to those carefree, glucose-encrusted days of my youth when I would gleefully eat (in no particular order, but organized by genus):

Spice Drops: these were "old lady candy" that was good anyway.
Banana Gum: I couldn't find a link to this product. It was a single wad of gum about six inches long, with an artificial banana odor that freaked me out as a child. It's probably so toxic you can't put it on the net anymore.
Flat taffy: this stuff was bizarre. It came wrapped in wax paper that was hell to peel it off, but I learned eventually to put it in the freezer first. It would shatter when you bit it and then dissolve into a sugary mess that clamped your teeth together. I was only allowed to get this, for some reason, on the one night a year that the Wizard of Oz was on tv.
Jujubes: I don't know why I liked these. I knew they tasted like soap but I ate them compulsively.
Gum that squirts: we called it "cum gum" until we figured out what it meant.
Gum from packs of cards - especially Wacky Ads: Genius. I dreamed of meeting the guys who came up with this stuff.
Wax lips and bottles: these had some flavor to them for a few minutes, and then became more like resistance training for your jaws - hard to chew, crumbly, but handy in case you needed to make an emergency candle or repair a broken toy.
Razzles: these started out like Tums but turned into gum. In fact, the "Berry Flavor" Tums currently on the market strongly resemble Razzles in taste. Maybe once they lost their ability to metamorphose into gum, they got repackaged as antacids.
Creepy Crawlers: this was one of my first and favorite toys ever. (The link isn't for the edible version but there's only so much investment I can make in this process.) You got sugary goop and poured it into molds in the shape of hideous bugs, that would jiggle and stick to windows until you ate them. I shudder to think what that goop contained.

lik-a-stix: just deadly. You eat sugar on sugar with sugar. Plus it dissolved your tongue and the "stick" could get really sharp and poke you. Heh.
Pixie stix: a perennial favorite. The sugar just poured right down your gullet. The rush was palpable. In that it gave you heart palpitations.
Chick-O-Sticks: I started eating these because, believe it or not, I felt sorry for them - no one else ever bought them. Turns out they were pretty tasty. They tended to shatter, though.
Jolly Rancher Fire Sticks: these, too, could be sucked to a razor-sharpness. Plus they made me sweat and made my tongue red even when I hadn't cut myself.
Space Food Sticks: of course they're candy. Don't make trouble.

Marathon bar: with an intriguing braid pattern, I knew I was mostly buying air, but the package was so huge! That's right, I was attracted by a huge package. But I grew out of that.
Three Musketeers bar: I always tried to eat all the chocolate off the outside first, and then stuff all the inside part in my mouth at once. It was sort of a tradition.
Elite Flake Bar: I couldn't find a link for these. They were sold in my synagogue, came from Israel, and had a super-creamy texture. They were shot through with air pockets in a sort of "driftwood" pattern. They were fragile but very tasty.
Anything made with my Willie Wonka Chocolate Factory: you melted your own chocolate and turned it into weird chocolate in other shapes. It also came with wrappers, which you could affix to non-candy items and try to feed them to your sister. But she was usually there when you set it up so it didn't often work.

For some reason, these were really not very high on my list in general, with the following exceptions:
Large jaw breakers: they'd last a week or more if you didn't lose them, and if you were lucky they wouldn't actually slip down your throat and choke you. The greatest demonstration of self-discipline I ever endured as a kid was sucking one of these monsters until it was gone, never once biting it. I now bite frequently and cheerfully. Keep away from moving parts.
Dots on sheets of paper: these tended to be party favors. You got a strip of cash register tape with spots of candy all over it. Pure sugar. Pure enjoyment.

Curiously enough, I never even tried these. Now I'm kind of dizzy. The memory alone has given me insulin shock. Time to eat some protein.
thats just the way it seems to me at [4:41 PM]

I went to the gym last night, an activity towards which I am significantly disinclined but which I endure occasionally regardless. The gym is at the far corner of a national park three blocks from my house. The drive there and back is quick - highway 1, nearly a straight shot. But last night I took a different route home, a more interesting route. I was flushed and glowing from my exertions. I passed the Officers' Club, shimmering with light and revelry in the darkness, and the National (and pets') Cemetary, at stoic attention into eternity. And then I headed back to the steep hill that drops back down to my neighborhood (ROTC at SFU call it "Cardiac Hill"). As I descended, a being ran out in front of me, turned on a dime in the middle of the street, and went back whence it came, ears pointed and erect, tail held straight out. A good-sized red fox. My lats and pecs were sore and achy from the abuse I'd heaped on them, in a lurid room full of sweaty people. And there's a fox: lithe, lean with a hunter's hunger. Quick, as the saying goes. Living in nocturnal darkness, possessing earth and time as I have almost given up trying to do myself. Today, less sore, not glowing, I think back on that fox and its life in my city. I'm not sure what to take away from our little encounter but it's sticking with me.
thats just the way it seems to me at [12:48 PM]

NEWS FLASHLET: Fire the Friendly Skies
I learn today from the radio that the arming of commercial pilots is going forward full steam ahead, so to speak. Once they pass a psychological evaluation, our pilots will be enrolled in a program to teach them marksmanship, legal policy and terrorist-whacking. I have a few questions:
1) Psych evaluation? So, there are people flying around in jet liners filled with our most precious resource - voters - who wouldn't be considered mentally fit to carry a handgun? "Sorry, Jim, your profile didn't match up sufficiently phlegmatic and saturnine. We think you'd pose a potential risk carrying that derringer. No hard feelings, right, you nutcase? It's all in the interest of our national insecurity complex. Hey, see you after you land - the 777 is full of Heiniken and aviation fuel, and all the nuns and orphans are strapped helpless in their seats. Today's in-flight movie: Passenger 57. Happy landings!"
2) I've seen it demonstrated in films that Peter Ustinov could be sucked out through the hole left in an airplane fusilage by a BB when an airplane is aloft. Or, actually, pushed out, by the much greater air pressure inside the plane than outside. This very phenomenon has been used to rid spacecraft of ants on the Simpsons (and, in the same episode, by reference, to rid James Taylor's Nantucket beachhouse of similar pests). So what the pilots need are big fat dummy bullets that shatter on impact, rather than passing freely through one's fleshy matter and punching through the side of the plane. And if they miss and just hit the side of the plane or one of the other passengers, they'll have plenty of other chances to hit their target as the airplane plummets to the earth. Assuming the gun doesn't get sucked out the hole. I do truly worry about hole-suck.
3) The best preventative for hijacking and such that I've ever heard was the pilot who announced to the passengers at the outset of the flight: "Be on the lookout. Alert the attendants if you see anything that doesn't seem right. And keep in your seat with the belts fastened, because if terrorists strike I'm putting this damn plane in a barrelroll and dropping 15,000 feet in 30 seconds. You'll be able to scrape the bad guys off the ceiling after we land."
thats just the way it seems to me at [8:33 AM]

[ Wednesday, February 19, 2003 ]

I've got a social inconvenience on my hands. See, we've got neighbors just up the block who've been around since we moved in. They've always had dogs, as have we, so we've been pulled into a sort of salutation-based relationship with them: hot enough for you, how're your allergies, looks like rain, that sort of thing - obliged to acknowledge each others' presence with pleasantries.

Except the guy - he's German, I think, white hair, booming voice - he's making it a little uncomfortable. First, he's very enthusiastic about these meetings - he acts as if these brief crossings of paths are the highlights of his retirement. And also, he complains. A lot. "Awww, too cold! My leg is killing me! What ugly flowers! Those bums - I could shit in their faces!" (This last oath is one he's repeated to me many times in different contexts, each time arousing in me a strong sense of disgust.) But he expresses these negativities to me in a conspiratorial undertone, confiding in me as if I were his most trusted friend, leaning in toward me and shielding his mouth from eavesdroppers (of whom, clearly, none exist). I don't think I'm getting any special treatment from him - I think this is just the way he acts. I've seen him do the same with other neighbors who stand by their stoops, shifting their weight impatiently as they endure his harrangues. But this is what he does, and now I have to say hello to him. And his wife.

They're the original odd couple (thanks Troy) - she's a diminutive Japanese woman who moves slowly and speaks softly and often reluctantly. We've had a few chats but nothing protracted or significant. We try to leave each other respectfully alone. She's okay.

Except: we work in the same part of town, and on similar schedules. We often ride the same bus, sometimes twice a day. Se we wind up standing at the busstop or terminal together. Neither of us wants to talk. We have nothing to say to each other. But convention compels us to say hello. And then we stand there, silently, uncomfortably, waiting for the other to speak or say goodbye. We've started trying to place ourselves so we aren't in each other's line of sight. We avoid each other's gaze. And when we're some distance apart from each other, safely ensconced on the bus, we smile and nod to each other. That's all either of us wanted in the first place - positive acknowledgement. But now we have some kind of social guilt about it. It's inconvenient.
thats just the way it seems to me at [12:46 PM]

After months of anticipation and weeks of planning, I finally saw the most interesting and complex film it's been my pleasure to attend in years. I should have expected to be confused when, after checking the showtimes two days in advance, we learned at the box office that, in the interim, the times had changed (there's a song in there somewhere) and we'd missed the first 15 minutes of the film, in which the narrator becomes disoriented and winds up in the Hermitage in St Petersburg. Not to worry - we caught up quickly and were soon just as bewildered as everybody else in the theater and in the film itself. 90 minutes, one continuous shot, 300 years of history, 2000 costumed dancers at the ball - my mind is still spinning. Half the time I couldn't tell who was speaking, or why. Thank god for subtitles or I wouldn't even have known what I was confused about. For a film wherein the only breasts were painted by renaissance masters, and the only thing that exploded was the linear narrative style, this movie had some real production values. It was beautiful, poignant, compelling, and a technical marvel more impressive to me by far than any effect-laden space-or-sea-or-superhero saga. I'll see it again. The Ark rocks.
thats just the way it seems to me at [10:16 AM]

[ Tuesday, February 18, 2003 ]

Error: Your weapons of mass destruction cannot be displayed. This might just buy us some time. (Once again, I can but thank the stunning and brilliant Tanja for the link. She's my favorite WMD...)
thats just the way it seems to me at [12:02 PM]

Last night I waded crotch-deep into the swamp of popular culture. It was moist, clingy, and I found it almost impossible to extricate myself. I pride myself on turning off bad television but this time I took the full dosage. As a consequence, my mind generated a few troubled notions, which I am pleased to share with the world as a way to keep myself from thinking about them for much longer:

"Simulated Image" means a real image that someone made up to remind you of another image that they couldn't show you, for some reason. But the image is not simulated. It's a real image of a simulation. These distinctions make a difference to people like me who don't have better things to worry about. A "simulated image" is something that pretends to be an image but really isn't one. Like a sound or a description. Or, maybe, Michael Jackson - whose image is a simulation, though of what, science has yet to establish a convincing hypothesis.

The simulated image is a creature of advertising, especially automobile advertising. Such an ad currently on television features a man driving backwards on an empty freeway, with the nearly-illegible subtitle, "Toyota does not recommend or endorse these driving practices." That's good to know, I guess. When they show a man wracked with ecstacy, veritably howling with joy as he violates the vehicle code on national television, it's not a "recommendation." It's more like a "suggestion." "We aren't telling you actually to do this, but this guy sure seems to be enjoying it so make up your own mind." I appreciate advertisers giving that kind of affirmation to my own decisionmaking abilities. However, I don't know what they mean when they say they don't "endorse" these practices. Endorsement means to support a message by providing the means by which said message is promulgated. Advertisers "endorse" programs that "endorse" their products. So does this mean that Toyota didn't have to pay for this ad? "It's not an endorsement, it's just a simulated image," I hear them hissing in my head. Well I'm not buying it. By which I mean, I don't intend to patronize any manufacturer whose advertisements concentrate on behavior they disavow and can't even actually show. Well, maybe just for cars and food. Some products I don't expect to see demonstrated on television, simulated or not. Maybe we can get them to start running "stimulated" images for some of the more potentially raunchy products. It would make a nice change from most of the rest of the programming.

Bilingual only means that someone can speak two languages. Don't expect actual extra tongues, as provocative as that might be. Similarly, head cheese is neither. And organ meat, as commonly used in the marketplace, is a contradiction in terms.

It may be European to kiss both cheeks but it's still gauche here in the States to drop trou to get yours.

Plant food is for plants. Dog food is for dogs. Vegetarian food is for vegetarians. But seafood does not feed the oceans - quite the opposite, actually. These little inconsistencies keep our country a cultural backwater. But at least we're a well-fed backwater.

I was switching back and forth between the end of Joe Millionaire and the re-run of the Michael Jackson expose' (or "expose"?). With all the channel fanning I may have gotten a little confused. Evan chose Tito? After 10 pm I was able to concentrate on the Jackson story, the lovely and newly-pecunious couple having already, finally, been consigned to the scrapheap of television history. The narrator of the Jackson show kept talking about Michael's transition to being an Adult Superstar. Now that would be creepy. The idea of MJ as an adult superstar is a powerful libidinal disincentive. What else has he had surgery to reduce in size in order to help him resemble his sister or some fading actress? Maybe I'm in the minority but I'd be happier if he just kept it under wraps.

And while I'm at it, they're "corroborating" witnesses, not "cooperating" witnesses. We're not saying that they're amenable to suggestion, they just back up someone else's story. After watching two hours of pabulum, I am more inclined to call them "crap rating" witnesses, who watch while people endure bad television. I should know - I was one of them. But I'm feeling much better now.
thats just the way it seems to me at [11:54 AM]

[ Monday, February 17, 2003 ]

The man who suckled Elvis
never spoke a word about it
Fate just brought them both together
and respect made him a silent partner.
This was back when Nixon was the one and
Elvis had put on some weight,
his come-back starting to lose steam
He was a giant of a man
come downstairs to the hotel kitchen -
Gaylord Opryland, the finest
Nashville had or has to offer -
It was four am, the place
was dark and dead and Elvis wanted porkchops
drunk and lit up, speedy, weaving
His boss had told him to tell Elvis
Sir we're just fresh out of porkchops
couldn't find a single one
we even checked our competition
We'd be proud to serve you steak
It's warm and tender, like your voice
Elvis gazed toward the man
his winedark eyes filled up with tears
leaned up against the man and wept
The kitchen was evacuated
no one wanted to stand witness
to this grand emasculation
Elvis and the man alone
the man was blessed with sagging pecs
his bitchtits a humiliation
Elvis, weeping, held him close and
lowered him onto his knee
his face pressed tight against the rayon
of the stranger's rented shirt
He breathed his sobs upon the breast
that burgeoned near his famous lips
familiar, ample, warm with comfort
his mouth sought out the veiled nipple
The guy did not know what to do
so he just stood, his arms extended
not daring to disturb the King
who held him, sobbing on his breast,
and sucking on him through his shirt.
This went on for several minutes.
When at last it stopped, the King just
sat, his head turned to the side,
his ear against the wet spot
on the man's white blouse.
Then Elvis hove a mighty sigh,
he cleared his throat,
and told the man, "I don't
much want that porkchop now."
With that, he left the darkened room.
Neither of them ever mentioned
what went on between them then
to anybody anywhere.
In fact, I made the whole thing up.
thats just the way it seems to me at [11:28 AM]

I've been piling up the words but no chance to share them at present. Since it's Presidential Day I've got my plate full: degrading pristine wildlands, offending erstwhile allies, and scaring the couscous out of the helpless citizens of despotic regimes. And, yes, teaching the little childrens to learn more smarter. Because smarter little childrens are the glue that holds the sandwich together.

Meantime, the plans for tomorrow night have been finalized: We're meeting Tuesday 2/18 at 8:10 or 8:15 to see the 8:30 show of Russian Ark at the Opera Plaza theater on Van Ness a bit north of City Hall. Sha and Helena will accompany us in case I get anxious like I did during my very first movie (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, children's version, in the Lima Ohio Movietorium in 1968 or so; they drove off a goddamn cliff and I'm supposed to take it with equanimity? Give me a break. That was one freakyweird movie for a first-timer.). Anybody want to tag along? Commenting may be disabled but my personal mojo is going strong....
thats just the way it seems to me at [9:35 AM]

[ Friday, February 14, 2003 ]

It seems I'm prone to being emotional today for some reason. I saw again on my way in this morning, as I see every morning now, that FAO Schwartz' Union Square store is closing soon. It's not that I ever shopped there. I'm not their target market. My toys come from places with blacklight rooms, or large kitchen or electronics departments. Or other more mature locales. When I have to get a toy, I admit with disappointment in myself that I usually got to Toys Art Us on a search-and-recover type of mission - quick insertion, quick extraction, no magic of Jeppeto or the elves' workshop...

But regardless - I've been in that FAO Schwartz and it's a kid's wet dream, huge animated toys and dolls and cartoon characters chasing and goosing each other up a four-floor escalator, bright colors and recorded choruses of munchkins singing preschool classics - the place was awash with stimulations for the juvenile. Plus next door was the euphoneous "FAO Sweets." And now it's all going to close. If I were a kid I'd be hysterical with impotent outrage. I'm sure it's a well-reasoned business decision. Maybe that's the problem I'm having with it.
thats just the way it seems to me at [3:08 PM]

Reading tips from fellow commuters:
Paperback in the hands of the big-boned guy next to me on the bus: "The blockbuster sequel from the author of Fletch: CONFESS, FLETCH!"
Exerpt: "'You kill that guy?
I answered her eyes. 'No.'
'You ever kill anybody?'
I could not answer her eyes. 'Yes.'"

That author of Fletch, he sure knows how to bait the hook. I won't rest until I've filled in the missing pieces. And remember, it's a mere 70 days until my birthday. Since that's such the theme these days.

MORAL: Everybody likes cheezy books. Not everybody has the guts to read them in public.
thats just the way it seems to me at [2:50 PM]

She sat near the shuttlestop, heavy on her bench. Her face sagged with wrinkles and wattles; one eye sank into the hollow of its orbit in a ring of pink conjunctival irritation; the other eye just stared blankly forward and down. Her shoulders slumped; her blouse and skirt hid, under a canopy of clean white cotton and blue print flowers, a vast and shapeless bulk. Gravity seemed to be calling her home. An alumininum walker waited beside her.

The bus arrived. We boarded. The garrulous driver asked the woman, "Are you waiting for the medical shuttle?" (We were on our way to a medical center.) The woman looked up at her lugubriously. "Nope," she said, taking a deep drag on her cigarette, "I'm walking." The doors closed. We drove away.
thats just the way it seems to me at [2:37 PM]

I came down into the station in trenchcoat, cap, headphones, boots and scowl. My 'transit face.' But he picked me out right away. His eyes were wide and clear, and his clothes - sturdy, utilitarian - were nonetheless clean and in good repair. He carried a boombox of modest dimensions, to which he listened discretely through headphones. He politely called me over. "Excuse me, do you know about these BART trains?" "Some." "Do you know how to get to the McArthur Station? Do you take the Richmond train?" "That'll do." "So it's the Richmond train. Not Dublin." "No, not Dublin nor Fremont." "Thanks. Thanks very much. And I just want you to know - I asked that guy over at the counter and he completely ignored me. Like I wasn't there." His eyes burned. He was gentle but intense. "So thank you for stopping. I really appreciate it. What that guy did back there, that'll come back to him. The universe remembers." "Yeah. I'm glad to help. So long."

I walked to another part of the landing, fully enscowled. I turned back, looked at him sitting alone on the concrete bench. I considered: he'd been ignored, I knew in my heart, by that other guy, because he's black. He's articulate, courteous, clean, and yet he has been rendered nonexistent because of his skin color. In this city. Today. I walked back to him. "You can take the Bay Point line too. Just not Fremont or Dublin. Anything else." His face beamed. I shrivelled inside.
thats just the way it seems to me at [2:29 PM]

[ Thursday, February 13, 2003 ]

I keep hoping I'll stop thinking about him...

Every day I see someone - usually, several people - asking for a handout. Some are witty, some are aggressive, and most are plain pathetic. I can't help but try to block them from my mind. I struggle to make ends meet; I've overcome adversity and deprived myself; I shouldn't have to feel guilty just because someone else has it worse than I do. That's what I tell myself. Sometimes I have to shout it inside my head to feel comfortable about not emptying my wallet and giving away my bus pass.

On Monday I walked a gauntlet of the homeless. They were holding out cups with a few pennies jingling in them, or strapping signs onto their pet pitbulls, or playing guitar with an open case in front of them, or whatever... I felt comfortable ignoring them. I was short on cash, I had my own worries. The weather was good and they looked okay. But the last one... I noticed him retroactively, a block or so after I'd passed him. I realized he was obviously suffering. He had been kneeling silently, a sign propped against his chest: "Very Hungry. Please Help." His cheekbones were prominent and his eyes were sunken. His gaze seemed frozen, or just worn out. I had ignored him, as had everybody else around me. He was the one I was supposed to help. I was short on cash but he was broke. I had my own problems but he was broken. I'd had an opportunity, and I'd missed it.

One of my favorite legends is that the messiah walks among us even today, disguised as a beggar, waiting to be recognized. I'm not convinced of the phenomenon of the messiah, but that tale has encouraged me in the past to take a little more time and care with those who rely on the charity of others for their sustenance. Then sometimes I get caught up in the details of my life, lose perspective, and stop paying attention to other people. I don't know what I'll do about that guy I was supposed to help out, but, for a while, anyway, I'll be watching for him more carefully. I'd like to think I'm a little less callous than I was on Monday, but really, it's just guilt. Hey - whatever works.
thats just the way it seems to me at [6:21 PM]

Just one day after I was moaning about not getting any good email I found this in my e-box. Now I feel loved.

-------Original Message-------
From: ****************************
Sent: 02/13/03 02:13 PM
Subject: Fwd: Warn as many as possible

If you receive an email entitled "Bedtimes" delete it IMMEDIATELY. Do not open it. Apparently this one is pretty nasty. It will not only erase everything on your hard drive, but it will also delete anything on disks within 20 feet of your computer. It demagnetizes the strips on ALL of your credit cards. It reprograms your ATM access code, screws up the tracking on your VCR and uses subspace field harmonics to scratch any CD's you attempt to play. It will program your phone auto dial to call only 900 numbers. This virus will mix antifreeze into your fish tank. IT WILL CAUSE YOUR TOILET TO FLUSH WHILE YOU ARE SHOWERING. It will drink ALL your beer. FOR GOD'S SAKE, ARE YOU LISTENING?? It will leave dirty underwear on the coffee table when you are expecting company. It will replace your shampoo with Nair and your Nair with Rogaine. It will not only remove the forbidden tags from your mattresses and pillows, it will also refill your Skim milk with whole milk. ******* WARN AS MANY PEOPLE AS YOU CAN. ******* And if you don't send this to 5000 people in 20 seconds, you'll break wind so hard that your right leg will spasm and shoot straight out
in front of you, sending sparks that will ignite the person nearest you. Send to everyone.

I post this as a public service. Because service is what I'm all about. That, and protecting my beer.
thats just the way it seems to me at [3:24 PM]

This is going to be one busy day. Yesterday was a day off to respect the great Emancipator, and I've got phone calls and conferences stacked up like... um... pancakes? no, too tasty and cozy... cordwood? that seems a bit too manual and gritty for my line of work... let's go with the barmaids at Hooters. Stacked up just like them. But probably less fun. (Maybe those barmaids are just as defensive and acerbic as the ED's whose days I'll be ruining with my pestering and implied promises of lucre.) So if I'm lucky I'll get a few minutes to bloviate my blog, and if not, well, enjoy the archives. And here's a quickie for your patience:

Jews do not recognize the messianism of Christ. Christians do not recognize the prophesy of Mohammed. And Baptists do not recognize each other at Hooters.

Today's blog has been brought to you by the letter H and the foriegn exchange student Uter. "Would you care for some of my flavor wax?"

And a final note: today started off really well. Like, "special notation in my journal" really well. I'll be grinning and daydreaming all day long. That is, between phone calls. Okay, time to walk the dog. Catch you all later.
thats just the way it seems to me at [7:39 AM]

[ Wednesday, February 12, 2003 ]

I'm getting ready to help a small organization preserve the history of partisans who fought axis forces in WWII in Europe. This organization concentrates on the small, mainly unheralded group of Jews who escaped ghettoization and the holocaust to bear arms against their oppressors. They're inspiring stories, told by very old people who often have thick accents. I'll be relying on videotaped interviews, some with transcripts. But I'm being told not to trust the transcripts. In one, the word "partisans" was transcribed as "protestants" every time. I can understand some basic confusion about technical terms, but this is the "Jewish Partisan" project. Somebody just wasn't paying enough attention to the details. If anyone is curious, "partisan" means someone who likes to get high and drink malt liquor, and "protestant" means pretty much the opposite. I guess they could have called them "Jewish Parmesians." To grate over your pasta.
thats just the way it seems to me at [12:39 PM]

It amuses me that the obviously pagan, cherub-ridden holiday of amorous conquest is named after a saint of the Catholic Church. It would be like renaming Halloween "St. Casper's Day." So I've done the research and come up with a few theories why we are still celebrating a festival that started pagan, went Catholic, and then got bought out by Hallmark.

From a random site I found, I learn that "Under the rule of Emperor Claudius II Rome was involved in many bloody and unpopular campaigns. Claudius the Cruel was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military leagues. He believed that the reason was that roman men did not want to leave their loves or families. As a result, Claudius cancelled all marriages and engagements in Rome. The good Saint Valentine was a priest at Rome in the days of Claudius II. He and Saint Marius aided the Christian martyrs and secretly married couples, and for this kind deed Saint Valentine was apprehended and dragged before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs and to have his head cut off. He suffered martyrdom on the 14th day of February, about the year 270.

"At that time it was the custom in Rome ... to celebrate in the month of February the Lupercalia, feasts in honor of a heathen god. On these occasions, amidst a variety of pagan ceremonies, the names of young women were placed in a box, from which they were drawn by the men as chance directed. The pastors of the early Christian Church in Rome endeavored to do away with the pagan element in these feasts by substituting the names of saints for those of maidens. [I'm sure that was super popular.] And as the Lupercalia began about the middle of February, the pastors appear to have chosen Saint Valentine's Day for the celebration of this new feast. So it seems that the custom of young men choosing maidens for valentines, or saints as patrons for the coming year, arose in this way."

Warms the heart, doesn't it? Beheadings, random couplings, and churchly co-opting of pagan festivals. (Of course the story leaves out what happened to Marius, but that leaves open the possibility of a sequel. Like "The Mummy," but with togas.) But that's only a secular analysis. For the parochial viewpoint I visited the website of the Catholic Encyclopedia, which identifies (more or less) three Saints Valentine, and then posits: "The popular customs associated with Saint Valentine's Day undoubtedly had their origin in a conventional belief generally received in England and France during the Middle Ages, that on 14 February, i.e. half way through the second month of the year, the birds began to pair." This is backed up with quotes from ornithological enthusiasts including none other than Geoffery Chaucer and John Gower, who is identified as having written the first valentine poems, as well as having resided in the priory of St Mary Overy. That's right, the Overy Priory. In other words, the dude lived in PMS. A house built of love, undoubtedly.

This information was helpful to me because I was having trouble sleeping, but it was not really an answer to my question. Therefore, I will instead publish two poems written by the Glickfish and myself in 1981, when we were callow youths enduring an unusually bad semester of high school English and the vicissitudes of the hormonal fiesta we called the 11th grade:

Le Fromage D'Amour
An instrument of love I be,
my mind oft lost in reverie,
and often lengthy pauses take
neglecting all for mem'ry's sake.
I trip and fall within my mind
as teardrops bring back thoughts unkind,
of lonely nights and desperate days -
and yet, my passion never sways.
But gone you are, it must be true,
for weeks before, my spirit flew
but when it flew too high it crashed,
and now my hopes are fully clashed.
This is the time to end it all -
you filthy slut, you never call!

The Ways of Kurds
My world, it ran a straight, true course
till in you rode on your white horse
and swept me off my dainty feet
with gestures strong and phrases sweet
and promised me your wonderland
with tales tall and stories grand.
I took you deep into my heart,
and deeper in my deepest part.
All I asked was that you take
me through your life, so I could slake
your lusts for life, and lively lusts -
I'd love you so, I'd help you much.
Protection, though, you lacked, alas;
I'm pregnant - stick it up your ass!

I intend to cook fish, eat sugary treats, drink sweet wine, and cavort in the privacy of the 'hut on Saint Beheaded's day. No peeking! And for those of you still beating those spurned lovers away with the severed head of a pagan priest, may I suggest these instead. They come in flavors. Now that's a trick I've got to learn.
thats just the way it seems to me at [11:56 AM]

[ Tuesday, February 11, 2003 ]

It seems a lot of folk are taking classes these days. Sometimes they sound pretty dull, or even painful and invasive; sometimes they sound kind of fun. I've decided to jump on the bandwagon. I haven't been in a classroom since 1990 and, incredibly, I'm starting to miss it. That's why I signed up for some random electives at Evil Science University. You don't just get properly evil without working on it, you know. (That's right, this was a bombsquad link originally. But no one knows that but me. Once I'm all evilled up I will delete the attribution - mine, mine, all glory and power to me!)
thats just the way it seems to me at [3:10 PM]


Taking a short walk with some old friends over the weekend, we strolled past a residential construction site that was furnished with a portapotty. The sign on the side of said facility was an advertisement for the rental company that, presumably, owned it. The sign mentioned the two main products available through this rental company: toilets and fences. All well and good - except someone had crudely covered up the "n" in "fences" with spray paint. What a country. In my day, we couldn't rent that - we had to build from scratch. I'm still giggling. I choose to think of it, not as evidence of retarded intellectual development, but an undiscriminating appreciation of humor in all its forms. Especially the gross ones. Sorry, but my inner 11-year-old is a little high on sugar and cheese right now. I'll just run around the tetherball pole till I calm down or fall over.
thats just the way it seems to me at [2:28 PM]

Leaving the Bernuth Residence: five angles

Mr. Bernuth pulled the door shut and stopped on the landing with his eyes closed. His heart pounded; his eyes burned with tears withheld. When he'd opened that door he had intended never to pass through it again. But hearing it close behind him, he knew he would return.

Mr. Bernuth gave the door a solid yank. It shut hard. In the instant that the door hit the jamb and the latch fell to with a quiet click, he knew his keys were still on the endtable with his wallet and phone. He sat on the landing to consider his options.

Mr. Bernuth watched the door as it slowly closed behind him. He had not wanted to leave, but staying would only have made things worse. The engraved nameplate on the door shone brazenly at him, taunting him with his own name.

Mr. Bernuth closed the door and took a deep breath. It was finished. His heart soared. Air smelled better, sounds were crisper, and life was more meaningful. There was no obvious change, but the change was obvious to him. He couldn't stop smiling. He didn't want to.

Mr. Bernuth closed the door for the last time and looked up at the brass plate he'd had engraved with his name. His hand rested on the doorknob. The flowers in the tree he'd planted bloomed brilliantly against the achingly blue sky. He sighed, turned, went down the steps, hands in pockets, eyes on the ground.
thats just the way it seems to me at [2:04 PM]

[ Monday, February 10, 2003 ]

I'm planning a field trip to Russia via the Russian Ark. They loved it in LA. They loved it in New York.. But I don't think it's playing either of those places anymore. It'll be in San Francisco for one week, Feb 14 through 20, at the Opera Plaza. I haven't found the playtimes yet but I'm planning on going to a show around 7 pm on Tuesday, February 18. This will be a rare opportunity to see me unfettered in the wilds, jockeying for position in the refreshments line, wandering in the dark trying to regain the seat I left for no good reason.... don't miss your chance to confuse me in public! (Additional chances are likely to arise. Watch for more details. I may need to go grocery shopping, that's often good for a laugh...)
thats just the way it seems to me at [1:58 PM]

When things are really good, you owe it to yourself to appreciate them. Some days have memorable moments; some are to be cherished from start to finish. Saturday I had what our panel of experts would call a "good day." What's so damn good about it, you ask me, buried to your knees in the muck and persiflage of another day ruined by work? It was just one of those days removed from time, a whole day when nothing was late, nothing was rushed, and nothing was lacking.

Here, let me lay some specifics on you and see if that helps.

* Pink Blossoms against Perfect Blue Skies
* Golden Gate Bridge (twice)
* Cruise Control (making this the first official road trip in the new car)
* Soul Coughing
* Quail
* Point Reyes National Seashore
* Historic Ranches A through M, founded 1853 through 1877
* Picnic Lunch on the Mossy Rocky Fingers Jutting out into the Surf
* Shredded Chicken Sandwiches with Curry Katsup and Mango Chutney
* Petit Ecoliers
* Mellow Shuttle Bus
* Sparrow Hawk (we think)
* The Spankatorium (photo not available)
* Lighthouse
* Grey Whales spouting out in the Farralon Sound
* Elephant Seals frolicking in pods of twenty or so
* Free Cocoa and Coffee
* Dozens more Elephant Seals up on the beach
* BBQ Corn on the outdoor deck
* Oyster Stew with huge succulent totally fresh oysters -- delicate flavor, sublime texture
* Breaking in the car - at long last (no not like that)
* Blue Country Heart

-- All this, basking the whole day in the company of my darling wife, whom I rarely get alone for very long. When Sunday came I could accept my fate of housework and drudgery, because Saturday still was cheering me up. Okay, Sunday was still fun. But Saturday - damn, that kind of day deserves special notice.
thats just the way it seems to me at [1:17 PM]

[ Sunday, February 09, 2003 ]

I don't know why I write this blog, but more to the point I don't know why people come to visit it. Here's a few of the searches made within the last twenty-four hours that brought visitors to this site. I compiled this list hoping that it would help me to understand those who meet me on the information superhighway. It teaches me, rather, that the path is strewn with weirdnesses of which I am only a small and unwitting part, and by far not the weirdest one.

I'm not personally interested in the streetsweeper's allstar weekend, incredible though it may sound. I just don't want to get burned out before the compost-masher's ball. Then, there's those of us who want clothing that teaches us how to injure ourselves. Admirable, with instructions so handy we can't help but hope you'll be jumping from moving vehicles really soon. Handypeople usually don't find this site; this one did because only here would one's kitchen have a facet worth installing. Incredibly, this obtuse inquiry brought some poor soul unerringly here to me. And finally, someone is asking for
funny finges for some purpose or other. If any of you can tell me what those are I'd be grateful, because somewhere someone or something thinks I'm a source for them. I'd like to know what I'm missing.

I had to leave off the search for "adult diaper fetish." It brought up a bunch of links that are better left unlinked. But I promise you: anyone coming here looking for that is bound for disappointment. I mean, really, guys. You're gonna give me cooties.
thats just the way it seems to me at [10:26 PM]

[ Friday, February 07, 2003 ]

When I am King is one of the weirdest, most entertaining cartoons I've ever encountered. It's a lot of graphics, for those of us with dial-ups - but if you're running broadband, check this out and tell me what it means. (I think the camel represents Jacksonian democracy, or the value of a high-fiber diet. Hard to tell.)
thats just the way it seems to me at [4:44 PM]

Dr Wang: poetic justice is a cruel mistress. But she doesn't usually actually leave you bleeding from the crotch on the side of the road. I guess good help is still hard to find. It breaks my heart that, if we had a more responsive health care system, none of this needed to happen. But I fear that maybe it was recreational.
thats just the way it seems to me at [10:46 AM]

[ Thursday, February 06, 2003 ]

I got a grab bag of unrelated items from my mom for the holidays, and I love her for it. The solar-spun spectrum-prism is great, and the Simpson's Monopoly is a hoot, and I won't go through everything... but there's one especially great gift that may have started me on a new career. Haley's Hints is a veritable repository of advice - some of it, helpful! It's inspired me, frankly. I haven't just sat down and read the whole thing cover to cover, but the piecemeal exposure I've gotten to the Haley way of tidy thrift has shown me a whole new life. "Haley's Hints is now seen on TV across four continents - America, Europe, Africa and Asia!" - proclaims the back cover of their glossy hardbound book. Four continents? Now you're talking my language(s)! I have therefore started drafting my own household hints, in preparation for my new calling - domestic know-it-all. I've taken the liberty of blending them in with some actual hints actually gleaned from the Haley's actual book. Only a homegrown genius could tell the difference.

* Recycle your old handbags by cutting up the leather and using it for knee patches on jeans or elbow patches on jackets.
* Unwanted houseguests can be "discouraged" by lightly misting them with ordinary kitchen ammonia.
* To avoid tedious recounts of your rows when knitting, keep count by using a cribbage board. It's simple and fun!
* Used toilet brushes can be recycled into an eyecatching mobile - or wind chime!
* Choose your season when painting your house. You may want to consider spring or fall. Both months have fairly mild temperatures.
* Instead of shouting to get the attention of someone in another part of the house, try using an airhorn and morse code. It's fun and it works!
* After washing your favorite beret, place a dinner plate inside of it, so it will dry to the right size. A Frisbee works well too!
* Tired of washing and wiping the outsides of all your windows? Replace them instead! What are you, the maid?

I'm going to call myself The Cleanophiliac and I'll make personal appearances on television on four continents. The other four continents, I guess. I don't want any competition.
thats just the way it seems to me at [8:46 PM]

I was very proud of my soup; I'd made it twice before and it had met all requirements. For the mazoh ball soup at a seder, that's a lot of requirements. It had to be light, and flavorful, and rich, and light, and full of vegetables and pepper, but not too spicy, and light, with mazoh balls that didn't fall apart, but didn't sink, but kind of floated in the middle of the bowl...

Having met so many disparate sets of needs with my mazoh ball soup twice already, I felt cocky about this batch. In fact, there's a photo - blurry, but unmistakeable - of me that day, a lens of my glasses broken in some bygone accident, a look of grim determination on my face, and a big clear plastic bag of chicken feet in my hand, raised up to face level. It was gonna be some good soup. The details of the soupmaking itself are a little too personal to share in this venue; suffice to say that by the end of the day before passover I had a big ol' stockpot full of steaming hot chicken soup, as fine as had ever been made. I put it in the fridge and went about my business - as if everything was normal.

But something abnormal was happening. Some of my soup was not cooling in the fridge. The middle of the big pot stayed warm all night long, lovingly incubating some yeasty spore that had wafted out of fields hundreds of miles away, straight into my kitchen. Of course, that meant the soup wasn't kosher for passover anymore, but there was something even worse - the stuff had started to ferment.

The next morning I took the pot out of the fridge and placed it - the edges cool to the touch - on the stove, started it warming for the feast that night. I tasted it - rich, light, not bad, a little spicy... they'd have to live with it. Then after a few minutes of warming I tried it again. Yes, another winner... seemed a little sour though, maybe vinegary? I'd have to add some sugar. The soup came to a slow simmer quickly - faster than I'd expected. The vapor rising from its surface was tart. I tried it again. It was fizzy in my mouth and more sour than rich - barely even food-flavored. Something had gone awry. I'd cooked myself 10 gallons of chicken beer, and the beer wanted revenge on the world for the tragic monstrosity of it's existence.

It got worse fast. Soon it smelled like a crime scene. I had to dump it, hissing and bubbling, down the sink. The redolent veggies and ground chicken and shredded chicken that could not evade the collander were, in brief, inedible. I ran out and bought more veggies and some premade stock, clear and golden as mine never truly was, and endowed with a not-unpleasant light richness. I was able to throw together a new pot of soup while I made the mazoh balls, by focusing my chi and visualizing the many-armed shiva using all the burners and counterspace in our tiny kitchen.

It all came together. Though I had only half as much soup, there was still a little left over. No mazoh balls, though - they were history. I tried to mourn my ruined soup, but no one would hear of it - the soup was delicious, I shouldn't worry, let's eat another bowl it's so good already - and eventually I let it go. I was there to celebrate the ability to come back from the brink of disaster. That year, redemption came in a fiestaware bowl.
thats just the way it seems to me at [8:14 PM]

There are new signs up in my neighborhood and it looks like we've gone upscale. I know a lot of folk think we're "out in the avenues" and too far from the pulsing heart of the city to partake of its vibrancy, but I've never felt that way. Sure, there are a lot of older people here, and a lot of newly arrived people with cultural ideosyncracies to overcome, but it's been homey and super convenient for years. But now I know it's mod. And it's rich. The signs say so. Those garage sale signs that invite us out to a sale in the Richmod district. It was "the Richmond," before that, and sort of underappreciated. And I was okay with that. But now even the garage sales here are mod, and rich. Maybe too rich for my blood. Maybe I can stick around and provide atmosphere.
thats just the way it seems to me at [7:43 PM]

Amusing Beverages:

1) The bottle of bold but impertient Yarra Yering 96 Shiraz I enjoyed at Ralph's house. He always offers an overwhelming variety of excellent wine, and this particular 750 ml bottle didn't want to undersell itself: the label specified that it "contains approx. 8.9 standard drinks." My research has not uncovered the Australian Drink Authority that sets this standard, but knowing the resourcefulness and alcholalia of that freedom-loving country, if they submit to a standard it must be in their best interests. Just don't overpour.

2) The mysterious Dutch aperitif at Dr. Andy's house. He doesn't admit to remembering when or how he got it, but he doesn't fool anybody. He knew what the label said: Els Kruidenbitter. That's right, and it's every bit as crude and bitter as it's name might suggest. And who drinks it? Well I don't speak Dutch and I understand from some Dutch acquaintences that in fact it's just all made up and they speak English when we're not paying attention. But be that as it may, I think it's hard to misinterpret even an allegedly foreign tongue such as Dutch when the phrase in question, copied straight off the back of the bottle, is "basterdsuiker." So this is perfect for all you bastardsuckers who want a crude, bitter cocktail. I tasted it. What remains of my memory is unpleasant. What I repress has made me mad.

Moral: not all drinks are created equal.
thats just the way it seems to me at [7:24 PM]

Here's a special message to the big guy wearing the rude leather jacket on the bus this morning. Sir? Yes - your coat smells like ass. Anyway I'm hoping it's your coat.
thats just the way it seems to me at [3:40 PM]

[ Wednesday, February 05, 2003 ]

Today's blog is brought to you by the letter Schwa, the umlaut, and the reciprocal of pi.
thats just the way it seems to me at [3:17 PM]

One of the things I was most excited about with my new cell phone (not like I had an old one, the whole thing is pretty new to me) was the vibe function. Noting that you can't spell "vibe function" without "be fun," I figured it would live up to advanced billing. It's vibed off on me three times now and I'm learning when it works and when it doesn't. If I'm moving, or on a bus, I can't feel it, even if it's crammed in a pants pocket. If it's next to me on a surface, I can hear it humming. And if I'm sitting quietly, I can feel it - almost (but not quite) as intense as the purring of an underweight and suspicious kitten. Pretty weak. There go my weekend plans of taping the phone to my person and calling myself - I'd get more gratification from my phone playing "mystic I-Ching" on it and trying to memorize my new number. "Vibe function" is tantamont to a misnomer. I vibrate more with sheer force of personality. And I'm available for parties. (Mystic I-Ching readings are also available for a small additional charge.)
thats just the way it seems to me at [1:56 PM]


So: Hi, thanks for - you know, thanks, and before we get any further, are there any questions? no, okay that's great, and the sound's okay? If you're having trouble hearing me, will you just - what's that sir, can you - am I? No this is - that's right - just down the hall there - and this is probably a good time to see if anybody else came here for - no this is - yes, you should follow that other fellow and go two doors past him -

So: as I was saying, there's nothing more satisfying than a boiled radish - no that's noT right, I need to check my - oh yes, the handouts, the handouts are at the back of the room, each of you will please take one and pass the rest ahead - so I'm sure you're all wondering, What's in this for you, time is money and all that, and right you are, so let's leap right in and get started.

Yes, when the papers get to the end of a row just pass them over to the next row and send them back down. Perfect.

So. There are five keys to omnipotence, and they dangle within your grasp. First, we need to get the lights and - hello, yes, you? Thanks, yes, could you just - yes - that's great - no too dark, go back to that last one - yes very good, and now - oh this isn't an overhead projector - yes I see - no I don't have it like that, these are transparancies - yes like a movie - no of course they don't - look I need an overhead projector or nobody's going to be able to follow this -

Okay, can we get the lights back up? They're going to get me an overhead projector and then we'll get back into omnipotence. Is anybody going out to get coffee? Can you get me one? Hello?
thats just the way it seems to me at [1:23 PM]

I always (meaning, since the beginning of time, or recorded time, or previously to now) thought that only two words in English had a "double u" - the letter "u" twice in a row. Now I realize there's a third: residuum. Discoveries like this make me disproportionately happy.
thats just the way it seems to me at [11:51 AM]

Matt (I'm gonna try to do the right thing and link to people if I mention them) posted some thoughtful words on the on-line persona vs the in-person persona, noting (I paraphrase) that some folk are very different on line than in real life, but that he's not one of them. I think I move along a range of emotional honesty, sometimes closer to my true self on line than in person, and sometimes more of a masquerader. And even in person, so often I think, "This isn't how you're feeling, what you want, how you'd behave all things being equal. You are a person who is almost never visible, and you hide among so many persuasive or probable shades that you probably don't even notice you're not here half the time." And then sometimes I walk out of a situation thinking, "that was me, wasn't it? Where the hell did that come from? And is there any more left?" But mostly I just wonder what the hell is going on and how I got myself into it. For good or bad, it's the eternal question.

What right have you
to be so lovely
stunning beautiful eternal
I was ready for anything else
I'm here to be normal
just want to get through this
I know that we tire you
striving for normalcy
you must face this every day
the stammering, the blush and downcast eye
and then there's those who make assumptions
commandeering space and time
they force you to be more direct
so I'll refrain and think of business
think of grammar think of england
want to answer all your questions
want to help lift your sedanchair
want to trace your jaw with sugar
throw these papers to the floor
and break your desk
It's been a pleasure meeting you
I hesitate to shake your hand
thats just the way it seems to me at [11:40 AM]

And with a phone call I learn that it's all over. The present is once again the future, not the musty creaking past. The lights are on, the sink is clean, the dishwhacker is doing its filthy business, and now the land line has been reestablished. New jack outlets were installed throughout the flat, and only 2 hours into the "8 am to 6 pm" repair window, the repairs are complete. PLUS I have a clicker for the car. PLUS the new catbox is working out better than we'd hoped. (We've learned not to expect much from Rufus cat's litter habits.) PLUS I just got a big messy phone call for work out of the way and it was surprisingly productive. PLUS my allergy medicine is kicking in and making me all cheerful and warm. How could life possibly get any better? No - better not to know - let me just bask in the moment and ask for nothing more....
thats just the way it seems to me at [11:07 AM]

It appears that Haloscan has gone down, and amusing as that sounds, it may mean that some very thoughtful, charming and scintillating comments may have been lost into the ether of cyberspace. But if you're getting a little misty over this, take heart: for every comment lost, an angel gets a wedgie. (It's how they fly, dude.)
thats just the way it seems to me at [10:38 AM]

[ Tuesday, February 04, 2003 ]

Autonomous and Proud
The important thing is that the power is back on at home, the sink and dishwasher are back on line, and I finally have a car. Or, more accurately, I have access to my own vehicle, my autonomy has been restored.

It's been since October that we've had the new Soob (Forester by Subaru) and it's still a pleasure to hop in and drive off. Except I never could just hop and drive - first I had to find and snag. That is, I had to get the clicker off the wife's keychain if I didn't want the alarm to go off (and it's one of those particularly annoying multiphasic-type alarms with klaxons and sirens and raspberry sounds all switching back and forth...).

It took a month before I realized I could do something about it, and another several weeks to find the dealer for my alarm out in lower Scabrous County GA, and then I ordered it... two weeks later I called to find out where it was, and no record of my order was on file. I was patient; something about the relaxed drawl on their service line kept me cool I guess, and they cheerfully re-ordered for me. Two more weeks, and I call again: no record of my prior calls on file. The guy remembered me, but seemed to have forgotten to process my order. With relaxed drawls, they set it all up for me while I was on the phone and the item arrived in three days.

I couldn't make it work. I reprogrammed six different times (or thought I had) but only succeeded in disabling Kel's remote, not hooking up my own. I was in a dank doghouse and increasingly irritated by the evanascent nature of my personal freedom. With the alarm, I was a man on the go, a cosmopolitan stud. Without it, I remained a tremulous shadow of a man. This morning I called back east at 10 am their time and Buford or Bodine or somebody with a somewhat archaic "B" name and a relaxed drawl talked me through the process. And now - now -

now I can enter and park my own car at will. I can leave the house when I want; I can make my own way in the world. It's been a long long time since I've liked the car I drove, and now finally I can like it and drive it without outside assistance. It's hard to feel self-reliant when I had to wait for my wife before I could use the car. Now I need permission from no man - or woman -- I can just tear loose and cause havoc wherever and whenever I desire.

Maybe me having this clicker isn't such a good idea after all.
thats just the way it seems to me at [3:33 PM]

This morning I had an euphoric run. I cut my time by 25%, had energy to burn, no pain in my knee or hamstring, and I looked good too. (Well it was pretty dark but that could only help.) And it's not the faster time, more robust energy level or somatic comfort (hell, endorphic bliss) that made it such a successful foray - it was the fact that I got my sorry butt out of bed when the sky was black and the air was misty, that I made it a part of my day before I had a chance to think twice about it. It was really beautiful out there this morning. Between that and a good schvitz I took at a day spa over the weekend, I have a surfeit of salubriosity. Better get home and work on those two large pizzas delivered to us by half-accident on sunday - ordered one, got it upstairs, and as Kel tore into it I called to advise them that they'd delivered the wrong pie - they delivered the right one about 10 minutes later and told us to keep them both. Now, where I only wanted two slices, I have about 10 to plow through. It's like my own version of progressive resistance. Maybe more like "regressive provolone."
thats just the way it seems to me at [2:56 PM]

Thanks, Matt! And I thought this was gonna be a slow day... But now we can find out Which Pulp Fiction Character Are You?

I'm KOONS: paranoid, and perhaps a bit whacked. [My] life experience has made [me] an introvert. Though [I'm] a true friend, who retains promises and the past in the palm of your hand, [I] need to let it go -- staying anal retentive forever is not the anwer.

I guess that depends on the question. And as my sister says, the truly anal prefer the word "fastidious."
thats just the way it seems to me at [1:21 PM]

Thanks, Kimmela! I, like you, didn't realize that so much really choppy poetry was dedicated to so much really choppy pork. In case any of us don't get enough spam, here's the antidote, or anecdote, or assymptote... heh, I said "tote".....
thats just the way it seems to me at [12:52 PM]

[ Monday, February 03, 2003 ]

It occurs to me that "grope" is too handy a word to be limited to the verb form of speech. I think there's real room to include a nominal form, not just "I gave her a grope" but even "put your hand on my gropes" or "I got a solid handful of gropeage out there". Plus you've got "gropacious" - someone begging to be groped. The possibilities are - well, virtually endless.

I do so think of other things. They just weren't interesting enough to post here. If this made the cut, you can imagine how boring the other thoughts in my head must be.
thats just the way it seems to me at [5:25 PM]

Feeling a little out of the mainstream.... the things currently not working at my house include:

Electricity (shut off all day for installation of underground conduit connections and a new capacitator or something that will "take us from 60 to 100" though what those numbers refer to I'm not really sure)
Phone (land line died on Friday, or maybe Thursday, and no one will be out to fix it till Weds; they gave us an expected arrival time of "8 am to 6 pm", which narrows things down for those expecting phone repairs in the pre-dawn or post-dusk hours)
Kitchen Plumbing (landlady left a post-it on my front door Friday to tell us not to use sink or dishwasher because of mysterious, untraced and unexplained drippage into basement, as to which all I've seen done for three days is the landlady walking around the basement with a paper towel in her hand and a hurt, frustrated expression in her eyes)

But let's look at the bright side (using natural sunlight, of course). Think of all the daytime TV I'm not tempted to watch, and all the nighttime TV that will fall into the same category if they don't get things fixed soon. What an opportunity for self-improvement, provided that I can read a book or see to write by the wavering light of my indiglo wristwatch. Then there's the way not being able to cook has stimulated my self-reliance and woodsman's instincts (many parts of an endtable are edible...) And without the phone, I don't have to worry about anyone interrupting my meditation or fresco-painting. Of course, I'm sitting at my desk at work with a phone, computer, cell phone and flattering flourescent lighting, so I'm still technically a member of modern society. But Kel's getting pretty damn bored. She'll probably be fine once the sink, phone and stereo are working again. Can I get two out of three? Come on people, this is only funny when I'm not home experiencing it for myself...
thats just the way it seems to me at [12:09 PM]

From "Life Is Confusing For Two-Headed Snakes," by Hillary Mayell for National Geographic News

"In some snake species...the male rubs its chin against the female dorsum during courtship. As this particular snake has two heads—which may have different ideas about courting and mating—and two chins, it would be nice to find out how the two heads manage the deal and also to find out what the female's response is."

Nice? No, I don't think "nice" is the word you're looking for. There are a lot of words that might be applied to the deliberations among and between the heads, depending in large part on "what the female's response is." These words include, but are not limited to, "climactic," "frustrating," and "amusing." But not "nice." I speak from personal experience.
thats just the way it seems to me at [11:01 AM]

In the harsh light of a Monday morning, now that football's cathartic release is but a fading memory and the news gets harder to ignore every day, my heart begins again to rebel against the seemingly inevitable war coming to Bagdhad. I'm not here to discuss the politics, I just don't want to jump the gun on this thing. And we certainly have enough on our domestic agenda that's worth the cost of this war. But I've decided to throw in the towel and start leading cheers for our bellicose national policy. I think the whole problem till now was that I didn't have a catchy nickname for the impending operations to get me revved up. I suppose I'm not the first to query along these lines but I was able to come up with a few names that would stiffen my resolve for this invasion:

Operation Rabid Weasel
Operation Enlightened Crusade
Operation Hummer Promo
Operation Preemptive Annihilation
Operation Megalo Maniac
Operation Absolute Unction
Operation Crowdpleaser
Operation Paternal Redemption

I'm feeling more patriotic already. I mean, to the extent that "patriotic" means I want more people to be killed in combat.
thats just the way it seems to me at [10:40 AM]

[ Sunday, February 02, 2003 ]

A few days ago I tried to think of some of my favorite Tick quotes. Nothing emerged from the reticulum of my memory. Not "it's a little sharky, but you get used to it," or "Je m'appelle le Tic. J'ai une grande plume et deux tetes." I felt empty, impotent. I couldn't let that feeling linger, so I dug deep in the murky convolutions of my brain and poked around in my reference books and came up with a few more gems:

"Heh heh heh - those darn Ninjas, they're wacky."
"My moustache is touching my brain."
"The tongue is a powerful muscle, and Mung-Mung is all tongue... he weeps for he has but one small tongue with which to taste the world... ewwww, I can taste your back." (I guess I had a thing for Mung-Mung, didn't I?)
"Got to pull myself together - must defy laws of physics."
"Happy me - I'm the biggest, brightest ball of gas in the cosmos."
"That's just it doc - my mind has always been my achille's heel!"
"Once again, we find that clowning and anarchy don't mix."
"Oh, what a goofy work is man!"
"Ah, savory cheesepuffs, made inedible by time and fate..."
"Evil! Evil! I'm beside myself with evil!"
"Mucal invader - is there no end to your oozing?"
"Yeast devil - back to the oven that baked you!"

...and of course the modern mantra, positively Jungian in its grasp of the mythic underpinnings of quotidian travails: "A day job in an office? My worst nightmare!"

I now realize that this is an additiction that I simply have to feed. I will find more tapes and bore the hell out of everybody with their timeless quipping. Thank you in advance for your time and courtesy in this matter.
thats just the way it seems to me at [12:27 PM]