12/29/07

Maltybore Barryland

If you ever need a candid shot of a spread-eagled, full-on naked pitbull, might I recommend this one?

Don't be fooled by the nipples. He'll eat your head. Look at those jaws. Those are the jaws of Jaws.

My parents couldn't think of anything expensive to buy me that I don't want this year, which happens every five years or so, so they gave me what they always do when the well runs dry: a home-made gift certificate for 1 (one) free computer. My current computer's not new. It's not going to win any awards. But with a hundred bucks worth of ram, it would still be kind of a beast for Youtube, Word, and Google, which constitute roughly 100% of the time I spend on the computer, with a margin of error of plus or minus 0%. And I tried, I really tried to talk them out of buying me a computer, but they kept wearing on me and wearing on me and telling me, "Yes, yes you need a new computer, hallelujah!" So I decided to stick it to them by getting a cheap computer. I picked out a piece of shit with an AMD processor. I don't know how I'm going to look at myself in the mirror tomorrow.

The real villain here, of course, is the Dell website. I couldn't for the life of me build a Dell that cost less than $1,475 without losing some integral component that would make the computer completely unacceptable. I need 4 gigs of 800 MHz ram. I need bluetooth compatibility, a hard drive that automatically backs itself up, and a TV tuner. All essential for a power user such as myself. After all, Youtube will be running in hi-def in a decade or so.

I was, of course, going to get a Mac, because cool, hot people have Macs, and I'm a hanger-on. They miscast those commercials. I mean, Justin Long and John Hodgman are okay and everything, but it really ought to be something more like this.

But I didn't get a Mac, because they're outrageously cheap or outrageously expensive, with absolutely no middle ground unless you want one of those bullshit all-in-one monstrosities. Gee whiz, I can't wait for the tiniest thing to break on one of those.

In order to actually take advantage of the superior firepower that my NEW mediocre HP desktop will offer, I just ordered one of these

and one of these.

If you care, I applaud you, and if you don't, take a long walk off a short pier! I'm excited. It's high time I re-formed the band and made some bad pop music. What else am I going to do? Grad school? Mwahahah!

I just got home. I had to go through Dallas to get here, because apparently American Airlines really likes right triangles. But after they bumped me off my flight, they put me on first class, so I got to drink a bunch of free beer sitting next to this girl who knitted intensely for the duration of the trip. After deplaning it took a little over 45 minutes for the baggage claim carousel to shriek and whir and convey, and I had to stand there waiting, and I had to pee like crazy, and man, I was fucking furious. By the time I paid the cab driver $45 U.S. in front of my apartment building, I had a hangover. Stupid Christmas.

Now I have 16 days to write 35 pages of academic paper, and all the motivation of a skagged-out trustafarian. It feels so good to be home, where I have things I have to do, and can avoid doing.

From now on I'll try to keep my pretentious travelogues under 2,500 words, kay?

12/28/07

The friendliest skies are the hardest to fly

On my first flight last week, the attendant was a tight-lipped late teen named MaryAnne with the most extraordinary architecture of copper-blond hair. Five-four with the great legs they sometimes have, the five-four women. They work twice as hard to get half as far and goddamn it if they don’t look good doing it.

I wonder what MaryAnne’s story is. She’s a flight attendant, you could peg her for it – unwashed, hair kept in place by sheer force of will, makeup caked to her eyes and cheeks, both giving up the ghost of her tiredness. Great-looking. I wonder what her story is. There’s a great-looking guy or a domineering dad or maybe just a streak of wanderlust burned a mile deep into her high-heeled feet and overworked calves.

MaryAnne smiles her tight smile whenever we make eye contact. I look up at her bashfully when she walks by. I wonder, is this stretched-out smile, lips and face and hair all different shades of the same astonishing red, is it automatic? I am bashful, but she seems abashed. She must be new. She’s too young for this to be old hat. She reads intently and with chipper intensity every word from the safety guide to the utter disregard of everyone onboard but me. Artificial chipper has me primed for Iowa. She smiles like a gameshow ingénue when she waves her arms to indicate emergency exits.

That’s it. She’s a tremendous, beautiful chipmunk. She talks about the beverages she’ll be serving with an unmistakable kiss of Midwest, the kiss dripping off that honey tongue. Nebraska, Wisconsin, maybe Iowa. She looks like the millions of girls just like her, each interchangeable but each incontrovertibly special. Girls whose greatest asset – even as the guilt that comes with the drag of age sets in, even as I wake with aches and stand with groans – is youth. Three, four years younger than I am. Seems like half a life.

She walks by offering coffee from a tray to no takers in the first five rows. She makes no eye contact. I say, “I would love one,” and she looks at me with a look that I could misread a million ways if it were a story, and I do misread it, goddamnit, because this is a story. I’ve earned non-sequitur.

“Would you like cream or sugar?” She asks it like she’s imposing. She can’t give cream or sugar to me because she’s holding the tray, trying not to spill as clouds buffet the belly of the plane. I reach over, trying not to touch her arm, but I can’t see what I’m reaching for and my smile sours and I worry because I’m just perplexed but she might misinterpret it, but when I look back up, her eyes are hidden by a phalanx of hairspikes, and she’s already asking the people on the left if they’d like some coffee. And I’ve come away with a packet of non-dairy creamer and a packet of Splenda and nothing to mix it with, and I don’t even want this coffee. I spill Splenda on my tray-table and sweep it onto the floor. All around people are reading Sky Mall Magazine and closing their eyes, not to sleep but just to look agitated. When they’re on a plane, people want each other to know that nobody’s more agitated than they are.

She comes back a bit later. And it’s funny, but when she’s done shoveling ice into my water-cup, she’s explaining to the guy next to me that Diet Coke is the hardest to drink because it’s so fizzy. I’m trying to hear her, but really to understand her – trying to objectify and embody and invade and empathize all at once. But I’m not getting very far.

I wonder, when she pushes the brake on the beverage cart with her foot, is the look one of resignation, or is it still fresh regret? Does she wonder what she’s got herself into, or does she just smart at the fact that there’s nowhere else for her to go? Or maybe she’s just tired. It’s six thirty in the morning, and she hasn’t slept. Her hair is oily, her face is oily, here eyes are waxy and bright, moment to moment the flash sparks and glazes. I wonder where she’s come from on this shit little plane that is right now hurtling us towards St. Louis like a flying balsa boxcar built by retards. She’s probably been on this plane all night. It’s one of those planes with one column of seats on one side and two columns of seats on the other. It’s got to be the smallest jet that can run at a profit. And because she’s just, what, nineteen, maybe twenty, she gets saddled with this claustrophobic little haunt with an aisle that can’t be two feet wide. She’s not hobnobbing with the jetset between here and Tokyo. She’s not pouring champagne and orange juice in first class over Trinidad. She’s not even getting her ass pinched by a well-to-do Texas tycoon who, for all his vulgarity, has a sort of bearish charm. She’s here, beleaguered with 45 similarly beleaguered coach companions who have pressing business than to get to Missouri, and no better way to do it than on a red-eye. And my heart just broke a little bit when somebody pushed the call button. It dinged and she came back, asking, “Did somebody call for me? Did somebody call for me?” But nobody confessed to pushing the button. I almost told her it was me. But I couldn’t think of anything I wanted.

My pen exploded and I’m writing with it, soaking up the dripping ink with a napkin she gave me with the glass of water. I’m trying not to make a mess, because I don’t want to make more work for poor MaryAnne.

I realized I wasn’t really writing about the girl a while after I wrote that, the bit about my pen exploding. She walked by, and I tossed my sticky stick into the trash bag she proffered. I realized that, at this point, MaryAnne is almost strictly a creation of my imagination, when I started thinking about more things to say about her. But I had no pen, so I had to repeat them, mantra-like, etching them into my memory so that I could write them down later. And they kept evolving and stretching and they became unwieldy and I repeated and repeated them and they got longer and longer.

I chanted: She has an efficient face, carved out of a flat front, the features etched in instead of slapped on. Most faces are molded and kilned by happy children in arts and crafts class. But hers is carved by a master into marble, every new line an agony, every decision a moment of madness, austere and without a stroke wasted. Then infused with exotic milks and liquers, art made flesh. The mouth candied, the fingernails caramelized. All good – cherubic and sugary sweet.

I chanted these sentences to myself for a long time before I realized I was no longer writing about MaryAnne. You wouldn’t recognize her if you met her if you read that. She’s pretty enough, but she almost certainly doesn’t look like candy. I don’t really know how tall she is, but I know I want her to be five-four. Her face is just a face – it’s not cut into marble any more than it’s fumbled and kneaded out of putty. I only know who she is because I want to know who she is so much that I’ve made a new version. One that doesn’t exist.

I do this sometimes.

Today is, on the one hand, my last day in Iowa. There is, on the other hand, a 100% chance of snow from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. tomorrow. So on the one hand it’s like Marty McFly said – “Since when can a weatherman predict the weather, let alone the future?” But on the other hand, I’m not leaving Iowa. I got lucky after I met MaryAnne. A half-hour after my second flight was scheduled to board I got an automated call telling me the flight was canceled. Five minutes later, sure enough, a call over the intercom directed us to the red courtesy phones between terminals E8-12. The group of us, the 45, milled around waiting for the first person to make a break. When that happened, the race was on, and everybody started walking as fast as they could without appearing to be trying to walk faster than anybody else, scanning with their peripherals for courtesy phones. I got to one in the first wave and picked it up. It had no buttons. No levers. No dials. Nothing rotary or touchtone about it. It told me, over and over, “Press one to be connected to an agent now.” I pressed every inch of the phone, looking for a hidden Batcave button. Nothing. After thirty seconds or so, a guy named Jeremy got on the line. Good-natured but without an ounce of sympathy, he told me there were two more flights in a few hours, and they were both booked, so I’d have to wait until tomorrow.

“So what the fuck am I supposed to do until then? Just mill around the airport for 24 hours?”

He told me to go to the ticket counter.

By this time the powerwalkers had powerwalked their collective way to the courtesy phone and were antsily waiting in queue. I cursed loudly and told them all, my congregation, that we wouldn’t be able to get out until the next morning. But I left out the bit about going to the ticket counter. A nice, flustered guy, mid-20s, plainly good-looking without being desirable, started talking about how he had been in the airport since the previous afternoon and wasn’t going to stand for this shit. I asked him if I could follow him, and he said sure.

We headed off down a hallway, and it took us ten minutes to figure out that it was the wrong hallway.

When we got to a sign that indicated with fat white arrows where we would need to go to get where we needed to be, I broke right towards the ticket counter and he broke left. “It’s this way!” I shouted.

“Fuck that, I’m renting a car,” he said.

“Oh… well, good luck!” I said.

I was sad. I’d lost my partner in lack, who made it more bearable to be screwed by the system. We constituted our own little system, our own little pissed-off counterculture. And now he was gone. And he hadn’t even asked if I wanted to go halfsies with him on the car to drive back to Iowa City. I felt a mild, stinging betrayal.

So I slowed down but kept on to the ticket counter. Went up three flights of stairs, navigated through dozens of kiosks and thousands of people all milling with equally single-minded aimlessness. And I finally got to the American ticket counter. The line was only a couple of people deep, so in a moment I was called up by a buttery woman with very red lips and huge teeth, so white they were almost purple. She asked if she could help me. I told her I’d need a spot on the flight tomorrow. She said, “We’ll see if we can get you on today.” Then, she did something astonishing. She picked up the phone and put in a call to “Central.” Somebody at Central picked up, and she buddy-buddied with him, cracking up and slapping her thighs and flirting like somebody who wants something and knows how to get it. For me! She did this for me! She asked, “Is there any way we can get him on the next flight out?” And then she looked at me and smiled gigantically and mouthed “Yes!” and I threw my hands in the air and I thanked Jesus. She hung up the phone and printed out a boarding pass and in the 30 seconds that took I stared at her like a dumbstruck mouthbreather. She handed it to me. I took it, and she expected me to walk away, but I just stood there looking at her.

“I want to buy you something,” I said.

“Oh, no you don’t!” she said. “You just want to get home and have a happy holidays!” I threw my hands in the air, I really did, and I said, “Thank you.” I tried to say it as sincerely as I know how. “Thank you.”

If I’d been with the guy who rented the car, I would have let him go first. Out of deference. Seniority. He’d been in the airport longer. He was wearier. He was beat-up. I was fresh. I was angry, but I had fight left in me. But he veered left way back there. And when I got on that plane four hours later, I didn’t see a single face I’d seen four and a half hours before. I talked them out of going to the ticket counter. I unintentionally conned half a hundred poor souls into sleeping in an airport terminal.

And I got home on time.

Now, I’ve been here too long and without enough to do. I saw some people I haven’t seen for a spell, and that was good. But I’ve been snowed in and fogged in, and I’m already a shut-in. I went to a high school reunion, but not my own. I bought three pairs of pants at the mall. I bought three philosophy books that, if I’m being honest with myself, I will never read. These are the highlights. I have the first Pavement album, the second NWA album, an mp3 of “Someone Great” by LCD Soundsystem, and a pair of clock radio speakers. I’ve watched the first two Back to the Future movies a dozen times between them on a 13” TV. And don’t even get me started on pornography.

Seriously. Don’t.

It’s not like this constitutes Buddhafied deprivation, but I’m desensitized. I need thongs and car-bombs and f-bombs in my bloodstream as often as possible or I start to get antsy. The more the better, the hotter the better, and the wetter the better. I’m what Adorno would call a “fucktard.” Or maybe it’s “gothtard.” It’s hard to keep up with the slang today. Pubetard? Goytard?

My best friend from college affectionately refers to me as Hot Red Rod. For serious. It’s my nickname, but only to him. He called me it today on the phone and I felt a wave of nostalgia and gratitude. And though it’s totally non-sequitur, I’ve earned non-sequitur, motherfucker.

So if I’m home tomorrow, it’s on borrowed luck. Luck borrowed from people against their will. Some call it stealing. I call it redistribution. And the good thing about being a good thief is, you only get better until you get caught. And when you get caught, you lie on your back in the dark and wonder how you can do it better next time.

See you soon, bedroom.

12/20/07

Flagrence


I just saw the commercial for Mariah Carrey's new perfume, M. Apparently the fragrance comes with a free "stylish odor bag," and I'm wondering: how did they know what I've been calling Mariah Carrey for all these years? But if they're giving her away...

Also: There's a Nascar cologne. These are the things you learn when you watch General Hospital.

12/18/07

If dogs were smart, they'd be me...


...if cats glowed in the dark, they'd be bats...

...and if bees had beats, they'd be machines.

I'm majorly, totally, butt crazy in love with this music video.

I've watched it a lot. At first I thought it was triumphant. And then I thought it was claustrophobic. And then I thought it was catastrophic. But all the way through it made me feel sick in love with life, and like I'm wasting it.

Go outside.

12/16/07

The Order of Point Break

There is a small but vital cadre of us. We are carriers and evangelicals all at once. To those who are susceptible to infection, our spirit spreads, viruslike in its holiness. We are unstoppable, but we will never conquer the earth. We have no use for power nor control. We do not need Jerusalem. We have our Mount Zion. We have found our salvation. We bask eternally and already in the Beatific Vision.

We are of the Order. The Order of Point Break.

Some deride us. They scoff and sniff and sneer at the power of the sacrament, the salving and salvation of the Eucharist. This is nothing. Their hate is a mere trifle when set against revelation. Real revelation.

Point Break.

Some do not understand. They are wrong, but their wrongness gives our righteousness its awesome strength.

When Gary Busey preaches, "I've fired my piece over 19 times in the line of duty," they ask, as we do... Ok... so did you fire your piece 20 times? We bask in the mystery. They think they have won. They think they have dismantled our religion. They carp and cavil and presume that because the truth of the scripture cannot be captured in epigrams, that there is no truth. They abandon themselves to the sulfur of skepticism.

We know that it is true because it is mysterious.

We ask, How can you dismantle something you've never truly touched?

We do not hate the unreconstructed. We reach out to embrace them, though they shower us with bitter spittle and contempt. (Oh, Lord, they know not what they do!) We do not persecute imdb.com user Latheman-9 for his failure to understand when he writes, "Unfortunately, the acting load is carried (or not) by three hams and a twinkie: Patrick Swayze, Keanu Reeves, Gary Busey, and Lori Petty. It's notable that the performance of the usually comically bad Swayze actually looks good in this film when compared to the others. The screenplay of W. Peter Iliff is horrendous. I notice that several commenters thought the film to be at least in part a satire, but I didn't get that impression. I think the script is just so awful it becomes unintentionally laughable. I must confess that I am at a loss to understand the rave reviews many have given this film, but it would be a very boring world if everyone had the same taste. Rating: 5/10."

Satire? No, my friend. It is the truth. It is the Word made Flesh and captured on Film. Those on the outside cannot criticize us. Their darts do not stick. Their knives do not stab. Their blows, their wild hateful haymakers hit on only air. They aim at our flesh and glance off our cloaks. They cannot hurt us; they cannot find a way in. Our armor is made of light. The light that burns in all that is true and good.

Point Break.

Latheman-9, unfortunate soul, you are right about one thing: You are at a loss. You are at a loss to understand. Without your evil, our good would not sate us.

They think it is impossible to jump out of a perfectly good airplane and fall freely at terminal velocity for over four minutes. They think they have caught our gospel in a lie when they say, If you were in freefall for four minutes, you would fall something like 50,000 feet. And that's BEFORE you opened your parachute. And Patrick Swayze says they jump from 4,000 feet. They say, It is impossible.

We say, Of course it is impossible, but answer us this -- if it's impossible, how did it happen?

They hate us, not for what we are, but for what they are. Absent. They lack presence. They are never really here. They are never really real. They wail, lost ghosts, doomed to wander without purpose or redemption. Doomed, damned, already in hell and craving their suffering. Gluttonously begging for more suffering.

We do not advise our disciples and brothers to shower the uninitiated with hate-hoots, roses, and rat heads. We pity them. We look upon them with a great and tender sadness. We feel a powerful gratitude. If they were not savage, we would not be special. We would not be elect. Our salvation would be common. Or election would be democratic. But there is only one Lawmaker, one Lawgiver. We thank them for their sacrifice, the Lost, though they know not what they do. They think themselves to be martyrs, but though they act for the religion -- the give it its most profound weight -- they cannot be saved.

They say, During the scene where they're supposed to be surfing at night, it's obvious that the director just put a cheap blue gel on the camera lens, because the sun is obviously reflecting off the waves, and at one point, there's even lensflare when the sun is actually IN THE FRAME. They say, surely this was filmed during the day.

We smile almost imperceptible smiles, and we answer, Was it? It maddens them, who do not understand. They do not understand that Katherine Bigelow was not speaking for herself. She was speaking for the spirit, all that which is eternal and holy and True. She did not make the movie. She snatched it out of the ether.

Those in the wrong choke on the waters of baptism. They shout at us, they shout us down, they raise their voices to the skies and they dismiss us. But their cries do not reach the heavens. The heavens are inside of us. We need not scream. We need but a whisper, but o! what a joyful noise! A thousand choirs, a hundred thousand hymns, a battalion of monks and a garrison of seraphs can't equal the roar of that subtle, silvery crash.

Can you hear it, my children, my brothers, my sisters and acolytes and apostles and masters? It whispers, it is whispering, with the breath of the tide rolling over into walls... Point... Break... We hear it, we hear it oh Lord!

They, the heathens, hear nothing but hissssssss... hissssssss... so they make that sound, hissssssss... hissssssss... mistaking it for holiness. They cannot translate the tongue. They misapprehend the true name of God.

Point... Break...

They do not hear the troughs and valleys of the wave as it peaks and crashes. They stand with wet feet and curse the ocean, the ocean that coolly crashes again and again. Blind as Lear, they think they have won. Shattered of kingdom and led by a fool, their triumph is hollow and short. They curse the ocean, they hate the ocean, they ebb against the ocean of life, even as it builds and builds into five foot tubular walls. What could fill you with more sorrow? Yet, what could make you feel more gratitude? You are elect! Make them comfortable with your charity. But do not expect to see them on the other side. When the great wave crashes down ending this life like an apocalyptic Ocean Spray ad, know that they will be staring blankly from the shore, wind and sand whipping their faces, holding their hats and their coats and yelling, "We'll get him when he comes back in!"

They cannot understand this one simple truth, this one simple rule, this one law that undergirds and overlays everything, all of creation, all that is visible and invisible.

You're not coming back.

Point Break is awesome.

12/13/07

President Huckabee? Are you fucking shitting me?


The most powerful man in America, the leader of the free world,

the Commander in Chief and assigner of judges to the highest court in the land,

the man able to shout down the loudest voices and stare down the coolest customers,

the man sitting on the most noble, honorable, venerable, estimable throne in all of modern democracy,

is wearing his sunglasses around his neck on a string. How's that sit with you?

President Huckabee? Are you fucking shitting me?

12/12/07

Tummy + Cake = 'Tomacheache

Have you ever noticed how inappropriate music during the closing credits of the West Wing is for all but about two episodes? Three at the outside? The Shah of Islamibakistan has been assassinated and international peace hangs by a peeled scab in the balance! Fire up the flutes trills! The entire 152nd Division of the Navy is about to be swallowed up by a giant vortex in the Caspian Sea, and a sailor has just had a touching final satellite phone conversation with his blind, crippled daughter with Alzheimer's! Administer a hot injection of tubas, stat! The President's been shot, the secret service agent that the Press Secretary's in love with has been shot, HE was guarding the President's daughter, who has been kidnapped, and to top it off militants have blown up a cabin in Montana, which just happened to be stuffed to the rafters with a baby kittens that hadn't even opened their eyes yet! For god's sake, somebody, I need a tinkly glockenspiel! It's a cliffhanger, people! More jaunty brass! SOMEBODY GET ME A TINKLY GLOCKENSPIEL!

In other news, the Merriam-Webster dictionary maintains the hollow charade of denying that "twatwaddle" and "saucebox" don't tie for word of the year honors every year by asserting that the 2007 Word of the Year is "w00t." This is, on the one hand, a travesty. But on the other, an opportunity for me to pull this old chestnut, composed October 13th, 2006, out of the closet. (He's pulling chestnuts out of the closet now.)

You fuckers are going to be so embarrassed when the history books of the future contain passages like:

"In the first decade of the third millennium CE, the phrase 'woot woot,' thought to be an ebonically derived onomatopoeic device meant to evoke a train whistle, i.e., a sound signifying the celebration of an arrival, gained cultural currency. White girls in the Eastern and Midwestern portions of the contiguous United States began using the phrase ironically, not realizing that it was actually derived from the phrase 'w00t,' a celebratory interpolation from the argot of online SRPG (Strategic Role Playing Game) 'gamerz' and 'l33ts' (elites) -- popular examples included Everquest and World of Warcraft -- who use the phrase as a contraction for the weightier, 'we owned the other team,' when they bested their opponents in fantastical battle or came upon treasure in their nerdly pursuits. Everybody hated it when girls said that shit. And I mean everybody. It was a dark hour indeed in the history of American linguistics.

Wait a second -- I totally thought that was funny a year ago. Man, I'm getting old.

12/11/07

There will come a day when you're gonna mean it but good.

I got my shoes today. My awesomely revolting Pumas. You remember, the ones that look like Barney puked up DayGlo.

(I googled for "projectile vomit" and found a picture of this guy projectile vomiting during (after?) a milk drinking competition, and then I photoshopped the vomit out of that picture and into this one. But if you google "projectile vomit," you'll see that same gray vomit in its original context.)

The point is, they're too big. But it's like this: Madonna said it best when she said, "Papa don't preach, I'm in trouble deep, papa don't preach, I been losing sleep -- but I made up my mind. I'm keeping my Pumas. I'm gonna keep my Pumas."

My favorite thing:

Mountain Goats - No Children. Everybody shouts along. "I hope you die. I hope we both die."

Abandoning the Batcave gothic punk scene in 12 steps or less (for beginners)

I listened to way more fucked up music in high school than I do now. I had this English teacher, who in retrospect may have shaped my life more than any other person save one or two, and he would feed me this absurd stream of absurd music. Horrible, horrible music by nearly any measure. Just terrible. Bands called things like Throbbing Gristle. Killing Joke. He would tell me things like, "Bauhaus was better than The Cure." "Fear was better than the Sex Pistols."

Fear had songs called things like "New York's Alright if You Like Saxophones," with lyrics like, "New York's alright if you're a homosexual." Pretty great song, actually.

He convinced me -- to the point that I will never let go of this conviction -- that Alien Sex Fiend was one of the greatest things ever to happen, ever, to anything, of all time. The problem is, I fucking hate their music.

This irrational loyalty causes me to do things like buy used copies of their nearly unlistenable, stone cold classic album Acid Bath whenever I find them. They're always expensive. (You can still find sites online, made by similarly obsessive people, that say things like, "Alien Sex Fiend was one of the most important bands from the England's early-'80s Batcave gothic punk scene." That's a quote.)

So I found this kind of incredible blog that's glutted with the music that the 17 year-old me was rocking. And it's kind of freaking me out. I'm in a timewarp. Hundreds of albums by dozens of bands, shit I haven't listened to or even really thought about for over a half-decade, just sitting there in cyberspace, and the only problem is I can't listen to it all at the same time.

Well, two problems. I'll lose interest in all of it as soon as the thrill of rediscovery wears off. Which it will. In about twenty minutes.

But right now, I'm staring at this shit like a kid from Siberia at the '39 World's Fair, before he gets a stomach ache from the cotton candy coated funnel cones. Ooooh!

Every Legendary Pink Dots record. Ever.
Every Coil record. Ever.
Every Nomeansno record. Ever.
Every Revolting Cocks record. Ever.
Every Einstürzende Neubauten record. Ever. And he even put the umlaut in there. This is a loving music fan.

It's almost making me feel bad. It's making me feel like a Lost Boy who came back, got old, and became a high-powered lawyer with a cellphone holster. You know what I'm talking about.

Not that I believe in authenticity or anything like it. That shit is so 80s. But that's what we're talking about! The 80s! All the music I listened to was from the 80s, because a guy who went to high school in the 80s was shoveling it into me. He would tell me stories on AIM -- we talked on AIM for like four hours a night, and you could probably argue that there was some kind of impropriety going on if you wanted to, you sick, sick bastard -- but he would tell me about dropping acid and driving around with his fraternity brothers, listening to Ministry on cassette and looking for people to beat up. About dropping too much acid at a Sonic Youth show and having to be escorted out because he vividly perceived himself to be part of the band, and couldn't figure out why he wasn't onstage. This was his life in graduate school

Last I talked to him, he had a new little baby. He named the kid Cole. Cole was in his cradle, because Cole, he was a new little baby.

Cole was fond of New York Hardcore. He would lay there and coo, listening to Agnostic Front. The Stormtroopers of Death. D.O.A. Millions of Dead Cops.

A baby!

And here I am, listening to Elvis Costello. Paul Simon. Steely Dan. STEELY MOTHERFUCKING DAN.

I'm such a sellout.

I'm so old.

This Current 93 record fucking sucks.

I'm going to go listen to "Rikki Don't Lose That Number." That song is awesome.

Getting old is awesome.

You'll learn, little Cole. You'll learn.

12/10/07

The Differend

There's a philosopher named Jean-François Lyotard. He's French. People mostly pronounce his name like they pronounce French names -- in a marble-mouthed garble of swallowed vowels. Not me, though. I say it proud, with a hard "tard." And I take every opportunity to say "Lyotardian" when I'm talking about something that could be construed or misconstrued as relating to him in any way. Because you know why? It's about basic human dignity.

Something the Lyotard understood very well, influenced as he was by humanist philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, whose soccer buddies at the Ecole knew him affectionately but ribbingly as -- I'm not making this up -- Unitard.

But this phenomenon isn't limited to 20th century philosophy. Oh no. After coming to dominate thought so thoroughly in the 18th, his competitors and fans alike could call Kant only one thing: the Singlet. His mind had only one equal. Of course I mean his butt, which was terrific.

Can you tell I'm procrastinating?

12/6/07

Schenectady Looby

I've mentioned that somebody keeps coming to my blog searching for "Schenectady Looby." So Sisyphus -- whose fantastic Academic Cog blog was recently called "the best barometer of job-market induced hysteria” by academic bloggin' superstar Scott Eric Kaufman (plug!) -- asks, sanely enough "Ok, what is a schenectady looby?"

Well, depending on your perspective, it will either make no sense, or perfect sense. It's that rarest of logical antinomies. You see, friends, it's both a non-sequitur... and a super-sequitur. It follows so much that it passes you, circles the block, comes up behind you again, sticks a gun in your back, makes you buy it breakfast, and then steals your iPod and makes fun of all the songs on it, and even though you think they're all really good songs, you still feel terrible.

Schenectady is the city in New York where my friend found five dollars.

Just lying there, on the street. Five dollars. That old story. Five dollars on the streets of Schenectady. (Included, for your convenience in imagining five dollars on the streets of Schenectady, images of the streets of Schenectady with five dollars on them.)

And Looby is Kurt Looby, an Iowa basketball scrub-slash-superhero from the Virgin Islands who's seven feet tall and all of 145 pounds of cartilage, cornrows, and shotblocking atom bomb arms.

And who may or may not actually be Gumby. But it's hard to tell because he nearly disappears when he turns sideways.

If you ever found five dollars on the streets of Schenectady and then paid Kurt Looby five dollars to dunk on the Schenectady Planetarium, it would look like this.

Looby has been Schenectadied. And that's how you Schenectady Looby.

*

And folks, lest we forget -- this is what our next president looks like in khakis. No, no, I mean, this is what she looks like. Ohhhh, it gets bigger -- click to enlarge. Click to engorge.

Photo credit: Bill, my friend's mom's weird hippie freelance photographer boyfriend.

12/4/07

Your house is on fire... they told me to tell you your house is on fire.



*

I spend $50 at the grocery store and I feel good about it. I've done my job. I can eat.

I get home and unpack the bags and put it all away and there ain't shit there. Why did I think I needed to buy three boxes of tea? Green, Stress Relief with Kava because that's sure to work, and a variety pack. Who are you? An oversized jar of cashew butter? When am I going to feel the inescapable craving for a cashew butter and jelly sandwich? Never, that's when. How am I going to get rid of this cantaloupe when it's rotted and liquefied and made a standing pool in the bottom of my crisper?

But what there is, is pistachio ice cream.

Pistachios have been my favorite food for years, but I've never had pistachio ice cream before.

I ate some. My skeleton came out of my eyesockets.

OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Nerdlinger Resartus

It's not like I've never been excited about footgear before. Just not like this.

I mean, sure, shoes have done it for me from time to time. I bought some Penny Hardaway Air Max Nikes back in the day, and I thought I was the bomb. I'll bet I actually stood in front of the mirror and said, in a prepube squeak, "you the bomb!" I bought a pair of leather Borns and felt like a white collar working man, which is a surprisingly good feeling at first. Then the unsoftened vamps cut the shit out of the flesh on my hamstrings, and they went in the closet. As a lad I twice bought hiking boots and went up and down the Grand Canyon.

I even set the table once for the glory that was to come. I had a pair of totally sweet red and black Pumas that I tromped around in for two years. In fact, I keep them on hand for special occasions; occasions for which I require a pair of red and black shoes that match literally no outfit ever worn by anyone endowed with the scantiest alloy of sight and taste.

I was naive. I thought those Pumas would be the apogee, that nothing better could sheath my hooves. They would be the grandest muzzles I'd ever strap to my barking dogs. They signified the defining moment of my lower extremities. The king-crowns of my feet, they branded me as a free spirit, someone with a wild side, a high-energy risk taker who would damn the torpedoes and do something extreme. A person who could easily skateboard up and down a driveway without quite falling off. Somebody who might shift from foot to foot at a rock show because the jackass is wearing shoes that provide literally no arch support.

I was way out of control.

But let me tell you, that era is over. And I am excited. I am galvanized. I am through and through with gleaming eyes and bursting pride and a stretched-out smile a mile wide. Because I bought these online yesterday.

Will they fit? I don't know. I'm too extreme to care.

You know what these shoes say? They say, I will match wits with you, and I will win, but we will part friends. They say, I am a happy-go-lucky, self-contained, self-determining go-getter who doesn't care what you think, because I do what I like. They say, I'm desperately trying to create an identity for myself with accessories, and this is my best shot. They say, I've got no time for your jive, I've got walking to do in my awesome shoes... but not too much. They've got no arch support.

They're Puma Clydes.

Who's Clyde, you ask? Only the famed basketballer Walt "Clyde" Frasier. Perhaps you've heard of him? You'd best know him from his highly quotable appearance in a Just For Men hair-dye advert with Keith Hernandez in which he says, "No play for mister gray!"

He won the 1973 NBA Championship with Earl "The Pearl" Monroe, a relationship unforgettably invoked by Matt Damon in Rounders when, he says, he and Worm (Ed Norton) "fell into our old routine like Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe."

This guy is the godfather of my shoes!

I am way out of control.

*

I must extend the warmest thanks to those wonderful people who come to my blog, day after day, by searching for "schenectady looby" and "hilary camel toe." It really, truly, authentically brightens my day every time I see it.

12/3/07

I AM TRIUMPHANT!


Small victories, you know?

11/30/07

Arguileless, or, A sweater named Mittens


Triumph turned to tragedy today like ice cream in a sauna.

All my life I've had argyle envy. I see people in argyle, and I think, I like that argyle. I wish I had some argyle. Sometimes things like this strike me, and I don't realize that this is the easiest problem in the world to solve. You just, you know, buy some argyle. Poof. Done. No more argyle envy.

Well, I made this discovery, but only in the form of hypothesis. That is, I never actually did buy any argyle. Until today.

Yes, that's right. I was cajoled mercilessly by Josh into leaving the apartment. I was carped into going to Target at 5:05 this evening. So there I am, braving rush hour traffic to buy an argyle sweater. I'm the Wicked Witch of the West on the bike, riding past the window, single-minded of focus, cackling maniacally. I'll get you, my sweater.

When I moved here -- I mean, when I physically arrived at my new apartment -- I had three quarters of a tank of gas. That was in early August. I don't drive much in the city. I don't know where I would drive to. So in those months, I've gone from three quarters of a tank of gas to... slightly under three quarters of a tank of gas. And I've driven so little that I'm totally afraid of driving. You never really forget, it's true, it's riding a bike carried over, but in this case the bike weighs two thousand pounds and hurtles like a rocket, held up, my god, by a half-inch of rubber that's full of air. Air! Air holds your car in the air! As you shotgun forward at forty five in a thirty zone while giant SUVs pass you on the right because that's not fast enough this close to the Beltway, you're trusting yourself to a thin piece of rubber.

Condoms fail 5% of the time.

Vroom.

So I banish these thoughts, and I hop in the car, and I put on a mix cd and I can't find anything I like so I'm tumbling along with a hand on the dials and I made it to Target having only had two or three narrowly dodged collisions.

Where's the sweater section? AHA! Argyle!

I'm going to buy a sweater. Then two sweaters. Then two sweaters and a hoodie. Then I give myself a ceiling of $150. When the cash register beeps its last beep, it deducts $204 from my checking account.

But I've got these two fucking awesome argyle sweaters. I've got a cashmere hat. I've got De La Soul bullhorning out the speakers, and yes I turn it down every time I'm stopped at a red light next to somebody who looks like a thug, but I'm loving the ride, you know? I'm enjoying the ride.

And I've got a bit of my confidence back. I'm ducking and dodging through traffic, bobbing and weaving, shucking and jiving. I'm passing the movie theater that's showing a 70 mm print of Lawrence of Arabia, and I'm thinking, I have to find somebody to ask out on a date so I have an excuse to go see Lawrence of Arabia in 70 mm, because I've heard seeing Peter O'Toole appear as a heat distorted dot on the desert horizon is one of the most amazing things, a life-affirming, self-defining moment... but you have to see it in 70 mm. I need a date for this.

I'm thinking, I'm going to put on my new fucking argyle sweater and cold step to somebody with a fresh pack of gum and ask if she wants to go to Lawrence of Arabia on the north side of town. But, of course, I won't. Instead, I go to McDonalds. Second time I've had it since I've been here, and, if possible, worse than the first.

I've done something. I don't do very much these days, other than live in bars and live in books, and I'm feeling good about it, you know? I've broken my sphere, even for something as mundane as a trip to a chain store. I feel good about it. I haven't bought clothes in a year and a half. I've got new clothes. I've never been a sweater guy. Now, with a swipe of the debit card, I'm a 100% non-blended dyed in the wool sweater guy. You want proof? Check the bags, sucker.

It's sad but it's true, I'm excited to try everything on and see how I look in it. To stand at the mirror wearing new clothes and make those exaggerated faces that seem like the faces you make in real life but aren't, because they're your mirror faces. I want to see how my clothes look with my mirror faces.

Hey handsome, I've waiting all night for you to ask me to see Lawrence of Arabia in a 70 mm print with you.

I throw the bags on the couch. I rifle through them. Huzzah! An argyle sweater. Another sweater. But it's not the argyle. It's a cheap striped guy I bought as a backup. Three long-sleeved t-shirts. A hoodie. A value pack of ankle socks.

One argyle sweater... all bags empty. No cashmere hat.

They're on the receipt. That's for sure. Together they cost almost 60 bucks. And they're right there in smeary ink on a slippery piece of ticker tape.

They're just not in the bags.

And, I know, I know. Because I already did it. I already had this conversation with a friend. See, he was an expert, as people always are when somebody else has lost something.

It must be in your car. It's probably not on the receipt. Did you check in your car? You probably left it at the store. Are you sure you bought it at all? Are you sure you even WENT to the store? Maybe it's under the seats. Are you wearing it now? Did you, in a moment of zen, give it to a bum who looked cold? You're wearing it right now, aren't you.

Because I hadn't thought of any of that before I talked to him.

And I've retraced my steps as far as I am able to retrace them, without once again putting the rubber to the road like the wizard meets the toad (with a twinkle in his eye for the magic that's to come).

And you know what? Now I hate the other sweater.

I liked the other sweater better. It was the better sweater. This one I only bought because of the three-and-two-halves purple triangles in the center. I like purple.

But I loved that other sweater.

When I was a kid, maybe seven years old, I got two dogs. They were brother and sister. I named them Sharky and Mittens. Mittens was a doll. The nicest dog in the world. Sharky, he growled and nipped and he was ill-tempered but it's not his fault. Sharky, he's just like that. He didn't have that magic that made Mittens what she was.

Then, poor thing, Mittens runs away and you find her the next day, and she's been hit by a car. And she's dead on the side of the road, and you're standing there, and you don't know what's going on, it's terrible.

I didn't like Sharky much after that. Eventually he bit me and got sent to live on a farm.

And I've never named an article of clothing before. But sometimes, a pet will die, and you'll get another one that looks the same and call it Rex 2. Rover 2. Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad 2.

This sweater is now Sharky 2.

I'll miss you, Mittens, wherever you are. I hope the tables have turned, and you're running free on a farm in upstate Vermont with a whole herd of other cashmere castaways, and your friend the cashmere hat, the cat to your dog. Run free, my love. Yes, I still love you even, though you ruined my day, and all I've got left is your idiot brother. Run free.

11/28/07

Lowest common denominator? Perhaps, my friend. Perhaps.

I haven't been posting much. No, I haven't been posting much.

I feel like, by not posting much, I am letting you, the reader, who has traveled through all these internets to get here, down.

I don't have time to post now.

Plus, the only thing I have to talk about is grad school. And you aren't interested in grad school. No, you aren't interested in grad school.

But, to make it worth your while
(After all, you've come all this way)
Here's a picture I took last Halloween
Of two chicks totally making out.

11/26/07

Just like heaven...

This morning, whilst engaging in some avant-garde autoerotic sexplay, I got Icy-Hot in my armpit. (I pulled a muscle in my back). When you get Icy-Hot in your armpit, there's literally only one thing you can do: hop in pain. You hop around, thinking you're on your way to do something to relieve the pain, and then you realize there's nothing you can do, but you're in so much pain that you instantly forget that and hop somewhere else to do something else to alleviate yourself. You realize your armpit is turning bright red, and you hop somewhere to get something to make it turn white again, because you've forgotten that no such thing exists, but then you mercifully forget that you were hopping for it in the first place. Hop hop hop. Considered breaking my pinkie finger to get my mind off it. Persevered. Human interest story.

11/23/07

Evelyn Waugh said it best when he said, "Beware of the Anglo-Catholics—they're all sodomites with unpleasant accents."

It has been brought to my attention that my last post... wasn't very good. So it's been taken down for reasons of... it not being very good.

To celebrate Thanksgiving, I made a turkey bacon BLT. But I didn't have any tomato, and my lettuce was all wilted.

But, all in all, a rather good day by the end.

11/18/07

I swear to Christ, I want to punch you in the face.

11/14/07

You wouldn't know this wasn't a shitty Emily Dickinson poem if I didn't tell you, volume 1: Emily Dungeonson

There's a room @ ye olde university called The Hut. But it's a completely inappropriate name. Because I've never seen a hut, before, that looks like this.

You're goddamn right that's stained glass. Venerable. Estimable! So I have re-christened the room The Emily Dungeonson. I'm going to make some little signs and put them around. Please, no food in The Emily Dungeonson. Covered drinks only in The Emily Dungeonson. Don't leave possessions unattended in the Emily Dungeonson.

Hey, didn't you study this poem in 8th grade AP lit?

I stepped aloft and tried my place,
A slanted phosphor hem -
Shifting crossways, through the sluice
Of Creon's diadem -

White despair of forge nor flange -

Snakes cackle's blackest mirth

And merriment - of calico -

A shiver in - the wood
Of crinoline circumferences -

Was heaven's counterweight -

Also, here's a picture of one member of a fairly prominent music duo - I can't tell you which, because I don't want the jig to be up - wearing pajama pants festooned with pink cartoons.

Also, it's hard to make out, but if you squint, you can tell that, although he's wearing a sweater, the tail of his hot pink pajama shirt is peaking out underneath.

Ahhh, Mondays. Let the work week begin.

11/13/07

The anxiety of albatross.

I'm drinking a Budweiser to reward myself for a day of almost sublime mediocrity. English students, students of language, traffickers of ideas know these days well. There is a chance -- it is a slim chance, but it's real -- that what you've done over the course of the last 16 hours will change the way somebody thinks about something. There's a chance it's a legitimate contribution to the history of western thought. There's a chance it thinks something nobody's ever thought to think before.

But there's a much, much better chance that what it is is a very average recapitulation of something that's been done to death and then recapitulated to death and then done to death again. There's a much, much better chance that what you mistake for inchoate greatness is just the albatross of unrigorousness your writing wears around its neck because you're not actually talking about what you're writing about -- you haven't really read what you read -- you don't know what you're in dialog with -- because you didn't understand it. You're on a date, at the movies, and she says something, and you say what, and she says it again, and you say what, and she says it again, and you don't want to say what again, so you say, "that's so true!" And you chuckle. Like a fucking asshole. Holy shit, look at you chuckling like a fucking asshole saying "that's true!" and you have no idea what she even said. You want so badly to get in some chick's pants that you can't even risk asking "what" three times.

Except instead, you can't risk three hours -- three Salon-reading, head-hanging, Hot Fuzz-watching hours to actually get your bearings -- so you say, "that's false!"

You say, "Clearly, what this distinguished professor whose work on this subject has been ensconced into the canon of contemporary criticism has failed to understand about Walt Whitman's poetic voice is that..."

And all that really needs to be done to topple that Jenga tower is to say, "actually, he does understand that." You pull the stick, and all the marbles rush out. What a mess.

And, of course, sometimes that's the very best thing, a little bit of creative misunderstanding. But very rarely does a creative misunderstanding line up smoothly with a simpler, messier, more economical straight up failure to understand. An instantiation of your own intellectual apprenticeship, and, even more, laziness. Because the criteria by which I measure what I've done is not whether or not what I've done is good. It's whether or not it's good for the amount of time I put into it. But that doesn't mean I'm not swinging for the fences every time.

Here's the pitch. "Clearly, what Professor Endowed Yalechair McHarvardson has failed to understand is that I wrote this annotated bibliographical essay over the course of eighteen hours that weren't nearly so frenzied as they'd need to be to get the job done right -- though they were fraught with anxiety. Yea, if he understood that, he'd understand that I've debunked not only everything he ever thought, but also everything he ever didn't think he thought but actually did think because he's a repressed, sexist, racist, priggish, whiggish, piggly-wiggly crypto-Tory of an unfeeling schoolmarm with no sense of magic, no common sense, and not a drop of logical rigor. That's why he got his PhD in 3 years. Cutting corners. Me, I'm going to take the whole 6 because I like to get the job done right."

When I actually thought I could be a writer -- before the fact that I haven't got anything like the discipline to be a writer without the unforgiving overlord Deadlines
cracking at me with his outsized, phallic whip, making me want to cry or quit writing for the greener pastures of Best Buy retail or landscape engineering -- I had this idea for a story. I wanted to write about this guy who hires a bodyguard, eight hours a day, to beat the shit out of him any time he's not sitting at the keyboard, writing.

I thought that would be a good way to solve the problem of discipline.

Surely, I've got a great novel in here somewhere. If only I could get it out.

I've got it! I'll hire one of those bouncers you see on Girls Gone Wild infomercials to en-force me to write a novel.

Since I was very young, I've been very smart. I know what art is.

That's why I can debunk Emeritus Professor Leviticus Goodlongfellow Higginsnodgrassingworth III, whose highly influential book on paradiddles in the jazz drumming of Horatio Alger has created a whole new sub-discipline in literary studies.

He just doesn't get it.

I'm gonna go far.

11/12/07

Jumping Jacks = Corkscrew Drill

Yesterday, somebody from Schenectady visited my blog after searching for "looby schenectady" on yahoo. This is in the running for "best thing to happen to me this weekend."

The other day, I went to a pharmacy and checked my blood pressure on one of those little blood pressure checkers, and it was sort of high. Not high, but in that place that alarmists tell you is "pre-hypertension." Being myself something of an inveterate alarmist, this has got me chronicling my salt-intake like each tiny grain were a medieval knight of noble lineage. (That was a pretty Geek-fantastic simile, even for me.) Mind you, I haven't actually changed my salt intake. But, have you ever tried to eat the kind of food you normally eat in a day, and not at least scrape the underbelly of 100% of your daily recommended sodium intake? Fucking raisin bran has 18% salt. And who, in the history of time and space, has ever eaten the recommended serving size of cereal? It's never been done. It's like 3/4 cup. 3/4 cup! And, I'm no expert, but it's not like that much salt actually makes raisin bran taste better.

This is especially tricksy for somebody like me. Because I love salt.
Anecdote for context: As a yea-high boy, I forced my mom to buy me a salt lick. The kind of thing you hang from twine so that deer and, you know, bears and shit can lick salt, if they so choose. The salt that they use in salt licks isn't what you or I think of when we think of salt. It contains "trace minerals." When you're dealing with trace minerals at a large enough ratio, they cease being trace minerals and just start being dirt in your food. It's salt of roughly this quality.

But I put the salt lick on the headboard of my bed, and every day I would lick a little more of that salt lick, and it was salty and that was all I was after. And before you knew it, the salt lick was no more. It was salinizing my sweat and shocking my kidneys, and I was glad, see? Glad!

So it's hard for someone like me to cut the salt out.

Maybe I should just go for a run?

Oh, wait, I'll get shivved in the liver and beaten around the head and neck with a giant dead fish. Possibly a live fish. (Crime report on my neighborhood to follow shortly).

I have, on the other hand, been doing jumping jacks, which is an odd thing to do when you have floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall windows that face a number of other buildings that themselves have giant windows, mostly because I'm always somewhere leftwards on the naked-to-clothed continuum. I must look like I'm practicing to become a corkscrew.

Think about it.

Kanye West's moms died. This has got me sad.

I'm projecting warm feelings. I don't think it will work, but it's the only thing I can do.

11/9/07

Moms

I get a call from my dad that I don't answer, because every time he calls me it's either to praise me for something I haven't done ("we're so proud of you!"), or to admonish me for the same ("go to the dentist! your face is going to fall off!"). I don't check the message until 3 a.m., and it says, "no big deal, but mom is in the hospital with chest pains, and here's the phone number to her room, in case you want to give her a call." I don't sleep.

I call her in the morning, and she says, "Hi!"

Which does not make me think she's not going to die.

Before all this, she's at work, and she feels pain in her chest. It gets worse. She can't breathe very well, and not at all if she doesn't keep pressure on or around her heart. She dismisses it, because she's a tough broad.

It's flu-shot day at work. (She works at a hygienic lab. Apparently they do things like this.) She goes to get her flu-shot, and the nurse with the needles asks, "Are you alright?" Clearly, she is not alright, so the nurse makes her go back to her desk to call her family physician. She calls her family physician, and the receptionist says, "I'm sorry, no doctors or nurses are available." So she calls the hospital and talks to a triage nurse. The triage nurse hears her symptoms and says, "Lie flat on your back and don't move. An ambulance is on the way."

Moms hasn't told anyone about this. So she's trying to explain to her supervisor, but she starts crying. She lies flat on her back, and she's crying, and her supervisor doesn't know what to do, but she flies into action anyway, so a big fracas busts up. Everybody's running around not doing much, and moms is laying flat on her back, crying, waiting from the ambulance.

The ambulance comes. She's lifted and strapped into a gurney and wheeled out to the ambulance. They put nitrates under her tongue, and then again, and again, and again. The pressure in her chest eventually lessens. She is swept into the ER, x-rayed, myocardiogrammed, and injected in the belly with blood thinners by a four-inch needle, four times.

Later, it turns out moms has an enlarged aorta. The woman eats like a rabbit, but apparently her cholesterol is suspicious. The schedule her for an angiogram.

They stab her in an artery in her thigh, and the blood shoots four feet in the air. This is standard procedure. Then they put a camera in the laceration and snake it through her insides until it gets to her heart. Everything is clear. She does not need an angioplasty (the thing with the balloon).

The good news is, moms is back home with the dog and the bird after laying flat on her back for six hours to let her blood get back on track. The other news is, all of this is genetic and inherited, though nobody knows from whom, so at some point I have to go in for an echocardiogram, which moms describes as, "SO COOL! You actually see your actual heart actually beating." So that's something to look forward to.

She got a dozen batches of flowers and plants.

But I was furious at moms.

Laid up in the hospital, gowned and intravenously fed, on the phone with me. I tell her that I really don't need the money she's been sending me, much as I appreciate it. She lowers her voice and says, "I might not be able to." Hmm... "Don't tell anyone this." OK. "One of the things that contributed to this was stress. And I'm in charge of the employee appreciation dinner. I booked a room in the Holiday Inn, and we're having 140 people. We're charging $5 per person. We're giving everyone a $4 drink voucher. The bill comes to $5,000, which is way more than we have in our employee fund. So I'm going to have to pay for a lot of it myself. You're the first person I've told. It was really stressing me out."

So, one of the things that contributed to my mom's episode was anxiety that she wouldn't be able to send me a hundred bucks for groceries, because she's dead-set on throwing a $5,000 dinner for her co-workers, because she "really wants to do something nice for them," even if it means recouping $140 at the door.

I was able to convince her to take off the $4 drink vouchers, put up a stocking cap for donations, and not send me any money. But that was about it.

So, god bless you, moms. Take some deep breaths, take the dog for a walk, and don't be so goddamn nice all the time. It's bad for you.

She says, "Getting old sucks."

I love you, moms.

11/8/07

Hi Mom

"Damn right, I kiss my daddy."
~Lil Wayne

My moms is in the hopsittal. I'm not all here.

Instead of me, listen to Lil' Wayne. Despite his suspiciously weak and un-Paul Newman-like chin, he raps like I wanna feel. Awesome.

He loves his parents, too.

11/7/07

Sex of the Kerrys

The point is just that I would not entirely be in the wrong to say that the Kerry daughters

kind of look like they could be the leads in a Norf Jerz stage adaptation of Sex & the City recast entirely with drag queens. They'll have to block scenes around the pole.

The obvious joke here is, wasn't Sex & the City originally cast entirely with...? and the answer is, no. If they were drag queens, they would have better boob jobs.

I'm officially disowning this blog post. It's just mean-spirited.

In fact, I disavow that I had anything to do with this blog post.

11/6/07

Ascap & RIAA: fighting for popular cheerleaders everywhere.

I'm just... I'm not even going to say anything. Just watch this.

11/5/07

Insanity. Inanity. Skulduggery. Douchebaggery.

(EDIT 2: I drafted this post a couple of days ago, when it was true. It is no longer true. PostSecret is thoroughly walloping her. But, I reserve the right to post pictures of Michelle Malkin's carrion-rending maw, to which I don't own the copyright, on my blog for the sake of snarky mockery, which she almost never doesn't deserve (as long as it is about her soul-devouring expression, and not her race or gender).)

I would not normally waste your time with such frivolity (he said with orbit-warping gravitas) -- but the classless, you-got-'servative hot hawk hag Michelle Malkin

is beating PostSecret in the annual best blog "competition." Go vote. Remedy this situation. Because it's just insanity. Inanity. Skulduggery. Douchebaggery.

11/2/07

Mr. Barbecue-Smith

I had a bad week. Which is to say, I had a fine week, except I walked around all the time with my jaw clenched a good deal tighter than usual. It was an anxious, sleepless panorama that culminated in a phantasmagoric Thursday that distinguished itself four main ways.

1) I was a jerk all day. Sorry, all.

2) 9:03 a.m. -- in class, I said, "...brought off, if you will..." in regards to Emily Dickinson having an orgasm.

3) 2:36 p.m. -- in class, I said, "...somebody who likes to get down with virgins..." in regards to a character in Mansfield Park.

4) 5:25 p.m. -- I asked my first question at an academic talk, and I got the bomb dropped on me. "How much sympathy does your position have for a group of key texts?" I stammered, lamb-meek.

Flummoxed, he paced around the podium and started explaining. Then he stopped himself and said, "Anyone who's read my work knows..." Everybody in the room went "OOOOOOOOH!"

In fairness me, it wasn't as bad as all that, because then he said, "...Wordsworth keeps popping up." In fairness to him, I most certainly haven't read his work. Are academics allowed to say that? As if anybody reads their work.

Then somebody gave me a free case of beer and I got wasted on zero sleep, and now I'm waking up at like 8 at night. I just wrote an alarmingly alliterative response paper that included the phrase "maintain the legerdemain," and I'm feeling way too self-referential to be of any good to anybody.

This will be the best November yet.

10/31/07

Make sure the candy's in an original wrapper: Bill Gates & Lou Reed, unheralded genius-daemons of white rap

"Better check that sausage, before you stick it in the waffle"
~Lou Reed (see below)

It's a fucking miracle that Microsoft became a bajillion dollar corporation when they were shilling their swag with shit like this, before irony was actually a marketing tool.

Did people actually buy Dos 5.0 because a white scientist rapper who sort of pre-figures MC Paul Barman -- actually, he's sort of like a combination of the scientist and Vanilla Ice from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 (Vista, Vista Rap!) -- spits -- and I mean spits, because the man has a pronounced lisp -- "Suits any memory hogging beast because it frees 45 k of memory at least! And that's why everyone who's in knows, it's also the best Dos to run with Windows!"-- "And the colored girls sing, dos dos dos dos dos, dos dos dos, dos dos dos dos dos, dos dos dos." See what I did there? Bill Gates is the Lou Reed of operating systems, and, like Lou Reed, an unheralded godfather of white rap. To wit, his 1986 single, "The Original Wrapper." "I'll Be Your Mirror" it ain't.

What it is, though, is the best thing ever. Oh, yeah, he just rhymed "sanctimonious," "pugnacious," "lugubrious," and "fabulous." Because he's an idiot. I actually have a dream to do a note-by-note cover of this song, and then recreate the video shot for shot. And I'll do it, too, as soon as I have a willing baby, three assholes who can rollerskate, and a hat that's covered in glitter.

Also, The Most Transparent Writing In History Award for the year 2007 goes to Newsweek for the following sentence: "Today no other country on earth is arguably more dangerous than Pakistan." I'll keep that in mind until tomorrow, when the point is no longer impossible to argue.

10/30/07

Messianic Schmoodaism: The Arcade Project, 2nd Ed.

The most startling accusation leveled against a literary theorist since the discovery of Paul de Man's Nazi sympathizing journalism! Walter Benjamin: Crypto-Schmoo?!?!

That's a pretty shitty arcade, Wally. Time for a second edition!

While we're on the subject (what fucking subject?), I think I'm going to be Foucault for Halloween.

Does anybody have a really amazing turtleneck I can borrow? (If you're wondering exactly how awesome the turtleneck has to be -- see above. Yeah, you know what, just don't even bother.)

Babysnatching. Suspiciously self-satisfied toilet-cleaning. Pervasive pornlessness.

Taking a class on Utopias is depressing.

They, Utopias, ought to be these Candyland wonderbars where you pay for Almond Joys with the gold you scrape off the road and then have consensual sex with lots of models, since everybody in Utopia looks like a model, but, incredibly, everybody is still as attractive to everybody else as models are to ugly people in our non-Utopian world. And then you ought to go home and tell your long-term Utopian domestic partner about the Utopian sex you had with a lot of bookish, Wilde-witty, generous but also commanding utopomodels you just met at the milk bar and it ought to get you both riled up and you ought to have sex that's so good that it actually sublates the sex you just had with the utopomodels into a new kind of utoposex. And that utoposex ought not be followed by any kind of existential hangover -- no! No burning hatred, no staring the void in the face. Everything will be just as good tomorrow as it was today, and today was fucking great! For everybody! The afterglow lasts forever, and it's not even after anything. It's just a glow, an all-consuming heavenly halo draped around your neck like a dayglo noose that just squeezes tighter and tighter and makes you happier and happier until your head's just about to blow. Utopia is a total vacuum of phenomenality that puffs you up like an enormous blood-bloated tick -- one those ticks so full of blood that their legs wiggle in space and they can't even walk -- and then pops you with the business-end of a lawndart of ecstasy, and your jouissance, uncontainable in such a humble, limited vessel of happiness as yourself, splatters all onlookers sticky. "Dude! You got your joy on me! Awesome!"

That's what a Utopia is, don't you know. In theory.

But that's not the way Utopias read. Because that kind of description always hinges on one thing: being in a good mood. And when everybody's in a good mood, as everyone in a Utopia must be, it's not a good thing. It's just fucking creepy. Church group creepy. People get along, go along, in tremendous moods, cutting hay because it feels good, and caring about art but not that much because attendance to art is tantamount to an acknowledgment of suffering. Not ever having any desires unfulfilled or any crises or bafflements. They're never stifled. They're never unhappy -- just occasionally less than giddy. And when they are giddy, it's even creepier. Like those church people who actually go into mildly orgasmic enthusiasms when the Word of God is being read out loud, but you can totally tell they're faking their scripturegasms. But, as with all fakers, you'd never be able to get them to fess up, because once a fake is out, you can't get it back in the bottle.

Partly, Utopias are terrible because -- and I'm speaking for myself -- it's in my nature to begrudge the fuck out of people who seem content, satisfied, stationary. Partly they're terrible because of an instinctual suspicion to the tenets of groupthink, no matter how right that groupthink may be. (It never ends up being all that right.)

Utopias have a responsibility to deal with every person individually. Every person has to be just as happy as every other person. But it's impossible to deal with every person in a Utopian fiction. Utopian fictions don't even deal with one person. They inject a stranger into Utopias and just kind of let them run around finding out how looney and different this world is than their own world -- generally, in this case, the world of fin de siecle Britain, which is one of the most stodgy environments in history.

So we never get portraits of a unilaterally satisfied toilet-cleaner, going from toilet to toilet, repeating the mantra, "There's no thing as undignified work, only undignified wages, gee-hyuck!" No, we never get that.

We never get the wife who had the misfortune of marrying the guy who has the vast collection of German porn hidden under the floorboards, and one day when he's out of town she calls in a repairman to fix the leaky pipes and he says, "We're going to have to rip up some of this groundwork." And then, after they're done having a passionate love-affair against the antique table that's been passed down from generation to generation (on the husband's side), the repairman actually gets around to putting circular saw to hardwood and...

We don't get people saying, "That fucking guy, there's no way that guy is smarter than me, why did he get an A on his paper and I got a B." (Not nearly enough rhyming in Utopian inner monologues.) Instead, we get third-hand reports from officials who toss off whole conceptual rubrics that don't even make any sense, like, "We only want those best suited to motherhood to be mothers, so if a woman can't hack it, we take her babies! She had her chance! She can't complain!"

This is the machinery of Utopia. Babysnatching. Suspiciously self-satisfied toilet-cleaning. Pervasive pornlessness. In fact, general Freudlessness. A total lack of sensitivity parading as perfect sympathy.

Staying up late at night to read these tracts and manifestos of bloodless, mild, ultimately bankrupt happiness is like being locked in a gym with your high school valedictorian. The one who opted out of any and all offered honors courses because they would bring down her GPA and keep her from getting into the private school that's named after the state you're from, except it has a directional epithet attached to the front -- East Montana, or Southwest West Virginia State, or North South Carolina of Ohio... Tech. And she just got engaged. She used to do sodomy because she thought if she just went "all the way" with her beau she would go to hell.

But she's not going to tell you that. Not in this gym.

She's going to tell you about how they've picked out a perfect set of doilies for their kitchen table -- it's an eat-in kitchen, you know, with a perfect little booth that replicates the feel of a 50s nostalgia diner! They were able to get just the perfect little suite from student housing because, you know, student housing saves the best suites for the people who are happily married and oh, it's fabulous, you really should try it some time.

You swear to god she says under her breath, I installed a virus on Kim's hard drive so it would crash the day the paper was due so she wouldn't get a better grade than me because the class was on a curve and she's smarter than me but she didn't deserve it because I worked so hard.

You say, What?

Nothing!

Put me in the gym, and lock the door. I'm off, once again, to try to tame the screeching Victorian demon that is Utopian fiction.

Note: I must be getting bored again. I'm turning back into an ironic pervert. What kind of a way to combat boredom is that, anyway? Ironography.