Sunday, October 31, 2004

Four More Years!

But the truth is, neither party is fully reckoning with the reality of Iraq—which is that the insurgents, by most accounts, are winning. Even Secretary of State Colin Powell, a former general who stays in touch with the Joint Chiefs, has acknowledged this privately to friends in recent weeks, NEWSWEEK has learned. The insurgents have effectively created a reign of terror throughout the country, killing thousands, driving Iraqi elites and technocrats into exile and scaring foreigners out. "Things are getting really bad," a senior Iraqi official in interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's government told NEWSWEEK last week. "The initiative is in [the insurgents'] hands right now. This approach of being lenient and accommodating has really backfired. They see this as weakness."
[emphases mine]

From Newsweek via MSNBC.

Speaking of Fright...

For more than a month I've been going to this site and obsessing about it. Today things are looking pretty damn good for John F. Kerry. I'm still very nervous though. Will the Osama tape produce a Bush Bounce, or will the disastrous news out of Iraq open the anti-W. floodgates? Halloween could be Nov. 3rd this year.

Halloween Recommendations

No longer hosting Halloween parties will have the blessed result of giving me back my favorite holiday--instead of spending two days cleaning and cooking and setting up and then another cleaning and tearing down, I'll be able to actually watch scary movies! Even better, I'll be able to read favorite authors. I like nothing better than cuddling up with



and going on a mind-trip. I've always liked being scared, and used to purposefully terrify myself as a child with movies I knew would keep me awake at night--Channel 17 in PA used to have a cheesy show on Saturdays called Dr. Shock's Mad Theater. I'd watch the Karloff The Mummy or a Hammer film and be climbing the walls. The TV miniseries of Salem's Lot with David Soul? Holy fucking shit--that scared me to DEATH (and no wonder, given its director--Tobe Hooper of Texas Chainsaw fame).

Here's some recent Netflix:

was ok--I went into this with low expectations. I'm very leary when it comes to remakes of favorite horror films. This one doesn't replace Romero's original, nor does it match the delicately balanced satire and monolithic bleakness of the previous version; but the opening sequence of the remake is very effective. I've seen few cinematic versions of apocalypse so convincing, and having an infected young girl from next door viciously bite the heroine's mate on the neck--just awful. And I mean good awful, as in very disturbing and effective. These aren't the typical shambling, confused zombies which you can elude easily if they don't gang up on you. Today's zombies are fast, smart, and just as relentless as their '70s counterparts. They're cable modem zombies compared to Romero's 56k--I wonder if some Cultural Studies grad student is working up a thesis on the sociological implications/causes of the new fast-zombie film model.

Every character is a type, every bit of dialogue is instantly forgettable, but since everyone gets eaten or blown up or infected it's ok. My favorite scene had the great Tom Savini as a yahoo sheriff interviewed about the plague on TV.

is one of those Carpenter films which doesn't really work for a variety of reasons, but I enjoyed it and found much of the first half interesting. Sad to see Chris Reeve so young and chiseled just months before his accident. I would recommend this for fans of Carpenter's other obscure work--if you don't like In the Mouth of Madness or Prince of Darkness, you're not likely to care for this one.

I'm pleased to see my favorite genre horror writer back with a new novel--some of his work the last 15 years or so has been less than interesting (Nazareth Hill for example), but his most recent novels have begun to approach the sort of dreamy hallucinatory descriptive power Campbell wielded so effectively in early works like Incarnate, The Face that Must Die, Obsession, and The Doll Who Ate its Mother. I'll read it over the Xmas break. Nobody else so ably manifests a paranoid character's debilitated worldview, and unlike Clive Barker or Steve King, Campbell can craft a sentence, instead of just throwing words at the reader.

The End of an Era?

It's time to lay our 8-year Halloween party tradition to rest. Not for any particular reason from last night, but because of simple host/hostess exhaustion. (That and the destructive head-ache I had this morning.) I'd lobbied the last two years to stop, to no avail. This year, as the final 6 people left just before 3:30am, it was Cha who said "This is the last Halloween party." When she said it I felt a burden lift from my shoulders, but I also felt a surprisingly heavy sadness. This is definitely a life-stage of some sort, a threshold crossed. When we started having these parties, none of my friends had children. Now some of their children are nearing the age we were when we started playing together as kids. Yikes!

Last night went smashingly. We had a small group of maybe 10-12 early, and some trade-offs as more arrived and others left, and then a large contingent of about 15 or so came late. 40 total guests, but never more than 20-25 at a time, which is about perfect for the size of our house. Unfortunately the late crowd had limited food to pick over. Suckers! I had just the right amount of beer, too. I bought five cases and we drank five cases. One of the late guests brought Jello shooters and another made hurricanes which quickly disappeared, as did much of my liquor and some wine others brought. The Bus as Slash won the costume contest, and deservedly--she really nailed it, down to the Jack Daniels bottle. I hope to get pix online later this week (if they turn out).

There was no vomiting, no raucous behavior, no breaking of things or throwing of food. There was, however, a rather intense political fight that lasted an hour between myself and T (dressed as a priest). Some of my PA buds are salt-of-the-earth conservatives, and a handful of them showed up (good to see Sluggo and Spooge Whore on their anniversary). I wore a politically provocative costume, I'd carved a politically provocative jack-'o-lantern, and Cha had her Green propaganda throughout the house, but I had no desire to argue with anybody. Somehow, however, it happened. T. and his wife were on their way out, but he stopped to try my hurricane, found it delicious, poured himself one, and suddenly we were off, and balls-to-the-wall. I started to feel bad for T. because by this time the other red-staters had gone home (including Big Soft Head, a VA libertarian who's smart as a whip), and as the argument progressed we drew more participants and T. felt (rightly) that he was getting ganged up on--even his wife started attacking him. I tried to keep it un-partisan (not difficult given my distaste for Kerry), and focused my critiques on competence rather than ideology. One of our guests was a Pakistani (also dressed in a politically provocative costume) and when he joined the discussion it ramped up even more. T.'s wife started getting pretty heated, to the point where he had to ask her to stop yelling at him, and she said she wasn't, and T. said "Oh yes you were, everybody keeps turning to look at us when you open your mouth because you are shouting at me." So we ceased, and turned the conversation to sex, which is much safer, and we parted with hugs and pats on the back as always, despite our different worldviews.

Strangely, during what was most definitely the quietest of the VIII parties, the police showed up. Three cops approached us in the back yard just after 2 and asked us if we were wrapping up. I said "yeah, there's only ten or so people here and some are leaving as we speak." The officer said "You guys aren't really making much noise--but we got a complaint so we had to check it out." I said I understood, but we weren't even playing music; perhaps some in the neighborhood are taking a zero-tolerance approach after the recent troubles on our block. I can't really complain about that.

So at least for right now we've decided to call an end to the annual bash at 2 York. Thanks to everyone who helped us make the franchise so much fun for so long! The album of party photos we've accumulated really drives home how privliged we are to have such creative, diverse, multi-talented, freaky, super-smart fun people for friends.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

City Paper goes Green

Strange last night to look up at the progressing eclipse only to see a doubled glowing thumbnail. I took off my glasses and looked with unaided eyes at the moon and it was only moderately better—I had to close one eye to see a single moon. I found my binoculars and was able after much fiddling to watch the eclipse clearly, but it was an effort. It’s bad news to not be able to see the fucking moon.

Time to face facts. I’m getting fucking old as shit. Next I’ll be holding books far away or really close, doing what my parents do when confronted with reading material. My mom will hold her People magazine at arm’s length to read it, and that’s after she’s already tried to see it with her trifocals on. Any font smaller than 12 and my stepdad simply gives up and asks my mom to read it for him.

I did what I always do when I think about ageing: I ran 3 miles and lifted weights today. Next it’ll be Lasic surgery and liposuction under my chin.

Strange to read in the Baltimore City Paper this week that some Greens we know got endorsements in City Council races. Rumor has it The Sun may endorse one as well. Fuck the Democrats on the Balto City council—rarely has such racketeering and nepotistic corruption been tolerated for so long. Boot ‘em out. The last couple weeks the CP gave some significant coverage to Green candidates Paul Dibos and Myles Hoenig (I urge Baltimore City voters to support these two in particular--I know them both and they're great, committed activists who aren't in this to get all their cousins contracts, but because they actually have a vision about making Baltimore a healthier, safer, more democratic town--hell, vote for your Green candidate in all the local districts).

Cha’s Green fundraiser Constellation party got covered by the WaPo as well.

Freedom on the march

No Fucking Comment.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


One potential way to withdraw from the world if W. wins again. That's assuming I could get in to their program, of course. It would be FREE with tuition remission.

One problem: my undergrad profs are all dead, and I haven't spoken to any of my MA program profs in 10 years--most have moved or retired, or died. Where can I get letters of recommendation from faculty? From my French profs I can get two, but I haven't taken more than one class with anybody else at TU.

Fucking Cool

They're so wee!

C'mon MoveOn, Use it in an Ad in the Bible Belt

George flips the voters off.


Since the Library is closed from Dec 22nd until January 2nd, I’ve been checking out hotel/air deals online for that time period--might as well travel if I have to take vacation time anyway. So far the only really affordable packages I’ve found for international travel were Mexico City, Vancouver, and Amsterdam. I’d like to hit Mexico City and do some ruins and drink some cervezas; Vancouver would be nice for the mountains and the water and the newly tolerated coffee shops popping up around town (that’s why they call it Vamsterdam now); Amsterdam I’ve seen but there’s plenty we didn’t get to do in our two days there.

I thought about someplace new like Florence or Barcelona or Hong Kong, but the prices are freakin’ way out of range. Even London, where we had a jolly ol’ honeymoon, and where I’d like to return, is exorbitant at that time of year. Copenhagen is pricey, as is the south of France—I guess the low season for international travel doesn’t really start until mid-Jan.

Ferocity was just here with a pile of music scores for us to stamp and sticker tonight. She’s fun to watch because she’s always got her hand on her belly or on her back these days. She referred to The Spawn as “stupid baby.� Shocking.

Perhaps we’ll simply spend a week in Chicago or New York or San Diego—I always think that I’ll save domestic travel for retirement, but if W. wins again I might not still be here then.

Perhaps we’ll stay home and I’ll just read books and back issues of The New Yorker.

What are you prepared to do?

This stuff is only the tip of a massive iceberg. Whatever you're prepared to risk--to sacrifice--next week, I'd start steeling yourself to do so now. Last time was the warm-up, and it got pretty goddam ugly in FLA; I know the "Inauguration" was ugly because I was there. It can't happen again, can it?

C'mon electoral landslide; no clear winner Wednesday and we'll be winning or losing this in the streets!


Thanks to Yahtzee for alerting me to the astronomical phenomenon at our longitude tonight:

Total Eclipse of the Moon

o ' o '
W076 37, N39 19

Eastern Daylight Time

Azimuth Altitude
Moonrise 2004 Oct 27 18:00 74.1 ----
Moon enters penumbra 2004 Oct 27 20:05.5 92.7 22.9
Moon enters umbra 2004 Oct 27 21:14.3 104.2 35.9
Moon enters totality 2004 Oct 27 22:23.4 119.0 48.2
Middle of eclipse 2004 Oct 27 23:04.0 130.6 54.7
Moon leaves totality 2004 Oct 27 23:44.6 145.8 60.0
Moon leaves umbra 2004 Oct 28 00:53.7 180.3 64.1
Moon leaves penumbra 2004 Oct 28 02:02.7 215.2 60.3
Moonset 2004 Oct 28 07:58 290.0 ----

I should be leaving Cook Library just in time to see the final stages of umbra/beginning of totality. Always fun.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


Usually, the Left is too dainty to abide Monsieur Mathers, but many Lefty blogs are hyping his new video. I can't get the sound to play, but liked what I saw, and will hopefully get a chance to check it out on BET or MTV tonight.

And, goddamit, I'm in the library too late tonight to watch this.

I'm scared

I've suspected for quite some time that I should've lived in the 12th or 13th century instead of now. I'm sure it's true after reading this.

Monday, October 25, 2004

We know what your priorities were...

Scott Mclellan today:

Q But after Iraqi Freedom, there were those caches all around, wasn't the multinational force -- who was responsible for keeping track --

MR. McCLELLAN: At the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom there were a number of priorities. It was a priority to make sure that the oil fields were secure, so that there wasn't massive destruction of the oil fields, which we thought would occur. It was a priority to get the reconstruction office up and running. It was a priority to secure the various ministries, so that we could get those ministries working on their priorities, whether it was --

Q So it was the multinational force's responsibility --

MR. McCLELLAN: There were a number of -- well, the coalition forces, there were a number of priorities at the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom. And munitions, as I said, were literally spread throughout the country. And we have gone in and destroyed, as I pointed out, more than 243,000 tons -

The new David Horowitz?

No, Chris Hitchens isn't quite so repugnant. He's correct to criticize lefties who "agitated" against the Taliban when women's rights and precious Buddhist statues were threatened, but who then "agitated" against Bush's intervention there. I also don't wholly disagree with Hitch's Wilsonian idealism. What I object to is his complete disgust--to the point of name-calling--with lefties who did not support the Iraq war. I didn't disagree with the war because I'm a pacifist or a moral pussy, as Hitch seems to think about folks who believe the way I do. I thought Bush's reasons for the war were bullshit, and were crafted carefully to hide his true reasons (money, resources, propaganda, distraction from corporate malfeasance at home, a crusade for the religious right, and coddling of rightwing Israeli extremists). Hitchens needs to acknowledge this. I also "agitated" against the war because I knew this crew of cowboy clodhoppers were going to do the mission on the cheap and stir up a hornet's nest of dissatisfaction overseas that would feed for decades the very medieval fundamentalist fascism Hitchens is so worked up about. I'm no expert in international affairs, but I thought more carefully about the consequences of having a Shia majority in such close proximity to Iran suddenly freed of its yoke, and a Sunni minority desperate to avoid Shia revenge running around in the desert, with a Kurdish population desiring exactly the opposite of what Turkey wants autonomous in the north then did that intellectual vacuum in the Oval Office. Hitchens needs to recognize that this Administration is exactly the wrong one to have running such a war. To do it right we need a call for sacrifice, rationing, limits on consumption, MUCH higher taxes, savings bond drives, perhaps a draft--and Bush is never going to do any of that stuff. Will Kerry do better? Only nominally, I admit. Bush has proved he can't handle the situation. Hitchens needs to stop calling lefties names, and point out what everyone else has: W. is fucking up the situation over there royally.

Speaking of experts on international affairs, ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI suggests a reason for the mysterious endorsement of Bush by Vladimir Putin. I'd puzzled over this for a couple weeks--what does Putin have to gain from another Bush term? More encirclement by US bases in the easternmost former Soviet states? A catastrophe on his southern borders? Here's Zbig:

In fact, in the Islamic world at large as well as in Europe, Mr. Bush's policy is becoming conflated in the public mind with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's policy in Gaza and the West Bank. Fueled by anti-American resentments, that policy is widely caricatured as a crude reliance on power, semicolonial in its attitude, and driven by prejudice toward the Islamic world. The likely effect is that staying on course under Mr. Bush will remain a largely solitary American adventure.

This global solitude might make a re-elected Bush administration more vulnerable to the temptation to embrace a new anti-Islamic alliance, one reminiscent of the Holy Alliance that emerged after 1815 to prevent revolutionary upheavals in Europe. The notion of a new Holy Alliance is already being promoted by those with a special interest in entangling the United States in a prolonged conflict with Islam. Vladimir Putin's endorsement of Mr. Bush immediately comes to mind; it also attracts some anti-Islamic Indian leaders hoping to prevent Pakistan from dominating Afghanistan; the Likud in Israel is also understandably tempted; even China might play along.

For the United States, however, a new Holy Alliance would mean growing isolation in an increasingly polarized world. That prospect may not faze the extremists in the Bush administration who are committed to an existential struggle against Islam and who would like America to attack Iran, but who otherwise lack any wider strategic conception of what America's role in the world ought to be. It is, however, of concern to moderate Republicans.

Zbig created the international mujahadeen/fascist Islamicist movement as Carter's National Security Adviser. His idea was to give the Soviets their own Vietnam by luring them into Afghanistan and bleeding them dry. Reagan's crew ran with this idea, pumping money and arms and training into the groups that later became Al Qaeda and the Taliban, all the while cynically criticising the Soviets for invading a sovereign country, when that was the desired result all along. So perhaps Putin's endorsement of Bush is along the same lines: his foolhardiness in the Middle East, coupled with reckless spending, might lead to a much-precipitated collapse of the "world's only superpower," again leveling the international playing field. The Soviet Union wasn't the first major world power to be broken in those deserts, and if Bush is re-elected, it might not have been the last.

(I apologize this is so poorly written, but I worked on it for an hour and Blogger ate my post; this is a quick attempt at reconstruction)

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Send in the Clowns

Jon Stewart was on the front page of the Washington Post yesterday, he's in Section IV of the New York Times today, and CSPAN was broadcasting an event with Stewart being grilled about media issues and public policy by Ken Auletta in front of corporate and media bigwigs all day yesterday.

Sometimes it takes a trickster figure, a wise fool, or a clown to point out our foibles. Alas, it took Jon Stewart going on Crossfire and telling Paul Begala that he was hurting America, and calling Tucker Carlson a dick, to wake up our punditocracy to the fact that we're playing a shameless game in which everyone knows we're playing a shameless game, but no one has the balls to take a stand. Carlson had recently pointed out that Karen Hughes lied to him, knew she was lying to him, knew he knew she was lying to him, but they both sort of played along in the spin game nonetheless. But since Stewart's wonderful outburst, and his own spin of his Crossfire meltdown, I've seen Russert and Stephanaupolis and Matthews and even O'Reilly more willingly calling a spade a spade when confronted with distortions by BOTH parties. The Post and Times are more frequently running fact-check columns, and post-debate coverage, instead of ONLY featuring spinmeisters from each party, actually had reporters--gasp--checking facts! Stewart has been hammering at the media for its "he said, he said" reporting, and at last the message is getting some play. An Annenberg study which found that Stewart's audience tended to be more politically sophisticated and knowledgeable than the viewers of broadcast news also added fuel to the sudden desire by corporate news to do some self-assessment.

Watch his CSPAN thing if you get a chance. It's funny, but it's also important, just like his show (which I don't get to see often enough). We need more Stewarts and more Triumph the Insult Comic Dogs (I've yet to see the clip of Triumph in the spin room after the last debate, but what I've read of the transcript made me cry it was soooo damn good).

Weekend Update

Back at work. Man, where does the fucking weekend go?

Thursday got swamped at pool, as usual, though the first 8 games were really close--at one point it was 5-3 and I'd lost 5 games by a total of 5 balls; then, the shitstorm. Too fucked up to see straight, Yahtzee killed me two games in a row, I couldn't get over the hump. 10-3. Sigh.

Fun time, though, until the next morning when I struggled my way through ENGL263 and turned what should've been a fun and easy discussion of "Gimpel the Fool" into an exercise in turgid swollen-tongued re-hash. I spent the rest of Friday reading French homework and taking a 3-hour nap. Then, off to Hamden and the Mobtown Theater for Hedwig.

Don't let the $15 pricetag fool you (as I did initially).

Don't let the location worry you (as I did initially).

Go see this musical if you get the chance. It only runs through next weekend. You might be late for Halloween VIII but I'll forgive you. It's fucking awesome. Jason Siebert as Hedwig practically channels John Cameron Mitchell as Hedwig--his performance is spot-on, and the Baltimorification of Hedwig's jokes, and the updates to include local and more recent pop culture references are largely well-done (if you've seen the movie, you may recall the joke about the fur coat. The "bitch" who confronts Hedwig about it becomes a Goucher student "whose breath smelled of hummous--and carpet"). Mr. Siebert has to play many roles, including those of Hedwig's Sgt. Sugar Daddy, his mother, and Tommy Gnosis, often jumping back and forth between characters and ad-libbing to audience cues. His singing was exquisite and note-for-note, and the unusual group of fucked-up hons gathered to play the band are all more than competent musicians, and they nailed the arrangements to perfection (my only complaint--turn up the fucking guitar a bit--I know the theater only has 40 seats, but rock out, for Christ's sake!). Just seeing the songs performed with precision and the necessary raucous punk rock edge was enough for me, but the plot and monologues and slideshow were great too. We got to meet Mr. Siebert and some other cast members after the show and tell them how great they were (Yitzhak was played by a friend of It's Australian for Beer). I was concerned going in that the Hamden Hons were going to ruin material that I find very powerfully moving and funny; instead we were treated to a very cathartic rock 'n roll comedy show full of hi-fallutin' ideas about love and gender. Brilliant! If I had time I'd go see it again.

Beforehand we ate at Grill Art in Hamden, which is a nice joint and I had a tasty little eggplant lasagna. They also have lots of good artwork for sale--many oils and chalk drawings of nudes, some of them rather "bold" (according to Eartha Quake) and for reasonable prices. I was sorely tempted to buy two oils, small portraits, one of a nude man standing by a table piled with bibelots, another of a woman in a leather chair, but one of the pair was sold already and they worked better as a set.

After Hedwig we hit Mick O'Shea's for about 45 minutes. Move Like Seamus sounded tighter than I've heard them, and this is the new lineup. For once Cha was pulling me out the door because she was pooped. I was ready to dance. I got to talk to Earthdragon a bit and see how he was doing, and chatted briefly with King Raj who immediately turned the conversation to my least fave topic: the upcoming U2 album, so I ditched him, said high to Miss Jones the fill-in bassist, who does what she always does when I say hi to her, which is sneer and turn away. Just before we left I got to chat with Damnyelli, and she kind of spilled her guts for ten minutes, and I told her what I have to tell Cha from time to time: say NO. It's ok to say NO sometimes. No matter how nice you are, how helpful you are, how charitable, you need liesure, you need space, you need "Me" time for yourself

or "We" time with your mate. Especially after buying a new house and moving--they haven't even really gotten settled in apparently after more than a month, and they're filling their schedules with side-projects and whatnot. That "advice," and a hug, was all I had to offer, given that I drank four beers in twenty minutes and Cha was begging me to leave. I almost told Cha I'd get a cab home because I was fired up to stay, and there was a huge enthusiastic crowd as well.

But, alas, we had to get up early and head to Glen Burnie and help The Nameless move. It went better than expected, and largely because his wife contrived with Cha to keep The Nameless out of our way. Whenever he tried to "help," he inevitably made things more complicated, so the women would distract him by asking him questions and demanding to know his opinion about something while the other three of us got tons done. His other brother-in-law (his wife's brother) cracks me up, because he'll say to The Nameless's face what needs to be said, ie: "Geoff and I lifted that before with no problem, you're making this more difficult with your stupid ideas." At one point he and I were hauling a very heavy safe out of The Nameless's basement; we'd strapped it on a handtruck and were negotiating a difficult turn at the bottom of the exterior basement steps. I was pulling the handtruck, the other brother-in-law was guiding the bottom and pushing, when The Nameless saw what we were doing, said "Oh, let me help," and immediately pushed the safe off the handtruck. My left nut popped and ended up somewhere in my right shoe, the other brother-in-law was flung awkwardly into the cement wall by the shifted momentum, and then The Nameless said "You guys scratched the paint off it!" The other brother-in-law responded "YOU did it by screwing up our balance, Jesus!" The Nameless slunk off while I tried to reposition my nads. But we got everything done and moved in about six hours, and their new house is on York Road in Sparks and it's on a rather lovely bit of ground (I used to pass this house often when I lived up there). A bit more than 2 wooded acres, all sloped toward the road, with a nicely constructed set of steep wooden stairs down from the front door to a Japanese bridge over a stream, and a huge deck over the garage with a great 360 view of the woods. It was nice to eat crappy pizza up there before we unloaded.

I should say that I bust on The Nameless often, but there are extenuating circumstances to his dickheadedness which I may go into some other day.

Now, I'm back at work--with tons of grading to do, and my student assistant isn't here for the second straight Sunday (I figure it's because Eskimo had her "talk" with him about how lame he is). There's nothing like being tied to this desk with no relief for five hours.

Thursday, October 21, 2004


I love Netflix. I've seen many great classic and obscure films that Movie Time video or my local Blockheadbuster would never stock, and all for $22 a month--much better than paying for cable or pay-per-view.

The latest:

is worth watching if you're a fan of bad horror films that have some scary scenes. This one is disturbing because it's got dolls and mannequins all over the place, and I hate dolls and mannequins because they make me piss myself in dread. And yes, the amazing brunette with the arctic blue eyes IS Donna's mom from That 70s Show.

was better and more disturbing than all the reviews I read suggested. Particularly good performances, and a horrifyingly simple plot. The film enraged me because I stand in front of these kids every morning at 8am--overly stimulated, overly privileged, and under-educated punks who think the universe revolves around them and fuck everyone else. The same fuckheads were dropped off by the score by clueless parents at the Towson Commons each weekend when I managed Borders. Catch one shoplifting or vandalizing? "How dare you accuse my son/daughter of that. S/he is a good kid, and would never engage in such behavior." Whatever. I recommend this film--tho I'm not a parent, nor do I plan to be--and it reaffirmed my decision.

I only watched an hour of it on my break today, but so far it's fucking good. Dylan slinks around observing and making oblique comments about an alternative reality that's all-too-similar to our own. Just watching his squinty crevassed face under that absurd hat is worth it for me. The movie is much like a long Dylan allegory a la "A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall" or "Desolation Row." The cast is spectacular:

Bob Dylan ... Jack Fate
Jeff Bridges ... Tom Friend
Penélope Cruz ... Pagan Lace
John Goodman ... Uncle Sweetheart
Jessica Lange ... Nina Veronica
Luke Wilson ... Bobby Cupid
Angela Bassett ... Mistress
Steven Bauer ... Edgar
Michael Paul Chan ... Guard
Bruce Dern ... Editor
Ed Harris ... Oscar Vogel
Val Kilmer ... Animal Wrangler
Cheech Marin ... Prospero
Chris Penn ... Crew Guy #2
Giovanni Ribisi ... Soldier
Mickey Rourke ... Edmund
Richard C. Sarafian ... President
Christian Slater ... Crew Guy #1
Susan Tyrrell ... Ella the Fortune Teller
Fred Ward ...Drunk

and the sets and cinematography rival anything out of Lynch. Can't wait to get home and finish it.

The Nameless

So Friday we’re heading to Hamden to see Hedwig live—I’m a bit leery because I can be a bit of a music snob (ok, I can be a huge music snob), and once I’m committed to certain versions of songs I like a lot, hearing them fucked with can wreck my appreciation of a live show. I’m particularly concerned about the quality of guitar playing we’ll hear, but WTF, it’ll be fun.

Here’s hoping we get some good glam rock Friday. And some hot queens.

I watched the last two innings of the ALCS last night just to see the most despicable fans in baseball get fucked. Yankees fans are spoiled, having seen their team go to the WS a zillion times, having won most of those they went to, and now that their carefully crafted (and ridiculously expensive) dynastic fantasy has crumbled again, I can’t help but force myself to care long enough to watch their petulant whining disbelief. I hope the BoSox play Houston, and that the long-suffering BoSox win the whole thing for the first time since 1918. I still remember vividly the Mets final out fiasco, with a dribbled easy grounder slipping through Bill Buckner’s hobbled ankles in 1986, and would like Boston to erase such memories. Of course, the Astros have never won the WS either…but I’m hoping the Sox are an indication that the stars are smiling on Massachusetts, and Kerry can ride the surging combined energies of the NE Patriots and the Beantown baseball fans to the White House.

Saturday morning we’re helping my brother-in-law (The Nameless) move. Usually I like helping people, but The Nameless drives me up a wall. There are few individuals on Earth I can’t force myself to tolerate--and this guy is at the top of the list. We’re talking A1 prime grade prick. I almost decked him at our wedding rehearsal party because he started screaming at Cha: “You have to respect your older brother! You should’ve taken me personally around to meet everyone here! You don’t care about tradition or what’s right! How can I be part of this family if you don’t include me?!� She was crying under his screaming assault, carried out in front of my family and all our friends—only The Hulk wrapping his arms around me prevented what would’ve been a disastrous (but wholly satisfying) rearrangement of The Nameless’s face. He’s the most shameful passive-aggressive manipulator I know, and I know many, and he exacerbates this fact by sometimes erupting into absolute dickheadedness. Two Thanksgivings ago he wanted to use my PC to “check stocks,� and took the liberty of starting a bunch of updates. When I found out what he was doing I explained to him that Windows media and security updates had crashed my computer to fatal failure before—but no, he assured me. “I took a class, I can easily prevent that.� Sure enough, he crashed my system. I told him I would fix it; I knew the procedure, I’d simply wipe the hard drive and start anew, but no, “I took a class, I can do it.� So he managed to wipe clean the cache D drive, with all the system drivers on it, and I’ve never gotten the original modem to work again, or the cable modem, or the sound card. He spent 14 hours at my house that Saturday “fixing� my PC until it was nearly useless, souring our relations even more. This was at a time when I was teaching four classes and taking five, and I had tons of work to do. I told his wife, poor long-suffering lady, that if she didn’t keep him away from me I was going to kill him, so she got him and led him out the door, and he had the fucking nerve to give me a hard time for kicking him out after he “spent so much time trying to fix [my] computer!� Ugh! I was livid. It took me hours the next day to get the thing working, and I had to buy a new external modem for $90. Perhaps I’ll “fix� his dining room set Saturday morning, heh heh. He’s always a victim, always the center of everything, always asking us to go out with him and complaining when we don’t. There’s a reason we don’t include you in our lives, motherfucker. You’re an annoying shithead; don’t use us to make up for the fact you have no friends.

Tonight after work Yahtzee and I are headed to Champions—it’s been months since we played pool (a euphemism for “since he kicked my ass at pool�). Then, tomorrow I’ll be teaching “Gimpel the Fool� and beginning some very early Halloween party prep.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Oh yeah

Got my 3rd quarter GC from Amazon and went nuts. I got what, $120 in stuff for $30, and free shipping to boot. Gotta love it. Here's the list:

Two novels I've yet to read by my fave teacher at Temple University

Who knows when I'll get to these? I really liked three of his novels, namely

and the Pen/Faulkner Award-winning

The others? Eh.

I also bought



about which I read a fab review

and I'm going to check out (at last)

Not that you cared, but I gotta kill the last ten minutes at work somehow.


Je suis en train de lire un livre tres etrange entituler L'Age d'Homme. L'auteur s'appelle Michel Leiris, et he thinks many bizarre and wonderful things. Much of the book is beaucoup plus subtil for me in French, but I'm interested in Leiris' ideas concerning the origins of his fetishistic behaviors, and the analogies he draws between suffering and artistic creation (discussing memoir-writing in terms of bullfighting, for example). A third of the way through, I'm really digging this one, but it is slow going, even more complicated than Duras. Next up we've got the old stand-bys in any class Guevremont teaches: Sartre and de Beauvoir, both of whom I enjoy a great deal.

The lighting here in Periodicals kills me; it's way too bright, and by the time 8:30 or 9:00pm rolls around, my eyes hurt from the fucking flourescence. I wish I could turn off every other ceiling fixture, or at least the ones directly over the desk, because the tired eyes cut into my reading time, and then I end up looking at the computer, which tires my eyes even more.

I'm sick of hearing my moronic assistant gasp and pound the desk in frustration at the Yankees/Sox game online. It's been a super-slow night here, perhaps because the Sox could tie up the series tonight. I remember when I used to care about baseball, when I could rattle off the stats of every American League position player and pitcher without difficulty, when I wasted hours at Memorial Stadium and watching broadcast games or listening to them on the radio. Sometimes I miss that strange involvement, which is wonderful and frightening all at once, and writers like Leiris and Georges Perec use sports analogies (allegories!) in their works as a means of understanding or explaining that involvement (Nietzsche, when I used to read him flying high on LSD or after ten bong hits--I don't recall sports analogies but his discussion of the role of the satyr play at Greek dramas hit some of the same chords). I went to a couple Ravens games two years back and noted the ritual, the give and take, the primal energies surging (and the odd prevelance of homoerotic music to fire up the crowd). Leiris says bullfighting has to be la survivance directe d'un culte, or une manifestation chevaleresque. All sports have the same functional antecedents: ritual, rule, sacrifice, courage, cowardice, failure, victory. The stuff of myth.

He'll be found in 12,004 AD

Today's most ironic story. And sure, I liked the abduction stuff, but her artwork at the Visionary Art Museum was way cool too. RIP Betty, your story kept me awake when I was 7 years old.

I loves the conspiracy theories; particularly those having to do with Presidential bulges. The latest idea is that Bush has suffered a stroke and is wearing a heart monitor.

Monday, October 18, 2004


God Bless 'em for trying, but this is not a good idea.

And again, Homeland Security proves its worth.

This rumor made the rounds of the DC Capitol press system months ago.

and, finally-

Is anyone surprised by this?

No Accounting for Taste

Cha's mother's old boss is selling her Towson home--it's a 1950s split-level and is in need of some significant re-vamping, but has a nice yard on a corner lot about four blocks from our current house. My mother-in-law insisted that we go see it today. "She said she will wait for you to decide before she sells it!" The whole thing was made urgent by Ma's weird obsessive insistance, and we only really went to see it to placate her, because if we're staying in Towson we're staying where we are--there's no reason to move four blocks unless we get some substantial payoff for our trouble.

We got to the house at 11:30am as scheduled, and an old Greek woman--the mother-in-law's former boss's mother--answered the door in her bathrobe. We told her who we were and she had no idea why we were there. "We told Arcy to wait two weeks so we could clean up!" she moaned. There were boxes everywhere, and piles of junk. All I could see was a really awful paint job around the exposed wood beams in the cathedral ceiling, and truly terrible painted tiles on said ceiling, and black and gold wallpaper that would've been gauche in a Nevada madam's saloon 150 years ago. We're talking shiny gold giftwrap patterns on black felt. Cha liked it, which really concerned me. If you've ever seen the restored print of Vertigo, there's a scene in a restaurant with similar wallpaper, tho in crimson and garish red. Hitchcock used such paper to evoke the feeling his film's title was referring to. Oh, and nausea.

We waited for ten minutes while the old woman told us about her chronic arthritis. I kept staring at the foyer closet and its sliding particle board doors, spray-painted a bronze color that clashed with the gold. This same spray-paint bronze covered all the visible moldings, including those in the dining room, which was painted yellow. The windows were of the sort you see in trailer homes, or in car ports--several stacked panes with rusted handcranks for each one. They let in a lot of light, certainly, and look like shit. I've already seen enough, but Cha's Ma showed up at our house twenty minutes later, after the old woman had kicked us out and told us to come back in two weeks, demanding to know why we'd stood her up. "I told you to meet me there," she cried, and Cha had already gone back to work, so I was left to explain that we were rudely shown the door because we weren't supposed to see it yet. Cha's Ma is nearly deaf, so this made for an entertaining conversation:

Me: She told us we could not see the house today, and asked us to leave.

Ma: You love the house?

Me: She said we HAD TO LEAVE!

Ma: You have to leave now?

Me: Ma, the house is not ready to show, it's a mess!

Ma: You went to a show at Ames? (Ames is pronounced Ah-mess)

Me: I have to go to work now. Do you want to watch TV until Dad picks you up?

Ma: No, I already ate. I'll watch TV for a while until Daddy picks me up.

Me: I'm going now.

Ma: Why did you not go to the house to look?

Me: Ma, we were there! She told us to leave!

Ma: You have to leave?

Me: (a vein throbbing in my temple) Bye Ma, I'll see you later!

Tonight I'm sure Cha will find an angry phone message asking why we weren't waiting for Ma at the house for sale, and Cha will have to scream into the phone for ten minutes until Ma puts Daddy on the phone so he can write it down for her.

I'm SOOO not interested in that house, and now I feel guilty because Ma told her former boss we would like it, and her former boss is not going to list it because she's holding it for us. Jesus fucking Christ. She's selling it for $350,000--no fucking way. It needs $50k in redecorating/remodelling, and I only saw the living room/dining room (and two huge cracks in the cement foundation at the head of the driveway, which drains INTO the foundation of the house--that alone is tens of thousands of dollars).

Congratulations! Posted by Hello
The Moment of Truth Posted by Hello

Sunday, October 17, 2004

You're Invited

Yes, you--you are invited to the 8th Annual All Hallow's Eve Bash.

When: 7pm, October 30th, 2004
Where: 2 York Road, Towson
Why: Because we like you.

Cha says costumes are mandatory, but she always says that and we never kick people out for not dressing up, so come as you please (oh, don't even).

RSVP to the email link at right, or if you're one of those for whom we had an email address, just reply on the Evite page.

See you then!

The Sanctity of Weekends

What a crazy weekend--Thursday night I was here at Cook Library until 10pm. Cha and I were supposed to leave at 10:30 for OC (the MSTA conference, and a friend's three-bedroom condo were waiting). She was, however, delayed at the Carnival Verde event aboard the USS Constellation. Apparently Earthdragon almost got into a fist fight with someone who volunteered to help him break down his equipment because he felt insulted by one of the Green Congressional candidates and decided to go into a funk. Cha said she had to jump in front of him when he charged a volunteer who'd offered to help. Ugh. At any rate, she didn't get home until 11:30--the Greens did raise more than $1500 for their local candidates, and the evening was apparently spectacular, with bellydancers, The Scarborough Affair, the Rogues, and a sword-swallower entertaining the crowd.

We left shortly before midnight and arrived at OC just before 3am and promptly crashed. She got up early and went to the conference, while I, lulled by the sound of surf and the salt air, slept like a zombie until noon. I NEVER sleep until noon! It was fucking spectacular to do so. We had a great Friday at the beach, despite a rainy afternoon. We bowled three games of tenpins, we played putt-putt golf (she kicked my ASS), we ate well, we walked to the shore, we shopped, we saw "Team America" and had an argument because she thought the audience would be unable to figure out the satire (Ebert apparently feels the same way); I thought she was right but didn't care. The film is good, but not great; the South Park dudes really lampoon the entire "rah-rah" USA GI Joe bullshit so prevelant today (the Team America Police have a themesong called "America. FUCK YEAH!"). They also parody the rightwing view of lefty elitists (most particularly Hollywood activists) in a manner that may confuse unsophisticated audiences--soft-headed PC lefties are already whining that their portrayal of Tim Robbins and their use of Michael Moore are insensitive and way too harsh, while FOX News is pushing the film for all the wrong reasons, and misses the satire completely (or knows its audience won't get it). I got some really good belly laughs for my $7, that's all I care about; I say fuck the censors on both ends of the political spectrum. Kim Jong Il singing "I'm so Ronery" while walking past his Hummel figurine collection, the "Montage" satire, and the all-too-accurate portrayal of the consequences of US military action in Paris and Cairo made it worthwhile--and the film has more to offer. I'm not a HUGE Parker and Stone fan--I like some South Park stuff, but find some of their scatalogical satire too facile. That said they do rise on occasion to brilliance; Team America is worth one viewing.

On the way home Saturday afternoon we narrowly missed the disastrous rainstorm that fucked up I-95 so badly; good thing, too, because we would've been late for Em's nuptials. We stopped at the Mall to pick up a part of our gift just as the first wave of thunderstorms blew over. The parking garage was so jammed we had to drive up on the roof, but that turned out to be OK given the two simultaneous and vivid rainbows over Towson--I've never seen any so clear that the violet was clearly discernable, and here were two side by side. Nice.

The wedding was excellent from the setting to the ceremony to the food. I found the Celtic hand-whatever ceremony really moving, and it amplified for me the personal nature of the wedding ritual. Too often we think of weddings as granted to couples by some external authority--some gigantic Church/State morph--and we lose sight of the fact that weddings have little to do with external authority at all. Your preacher or your archbishop or your congressional representative will not be there for you at 2:30am when you have doubts--your spouse will (ideally). Em's service was moving and elegant and intensely personal, and her brother and her significant other's sister did a marvelous job (as did Ferocity as Matron of Honor, and the drag king who was Best Man), and the choice of ceremony reminded me of our wedding because Cha and I were also tied up at one point. I joked with J357 that the sanctity of my marriage was a bit threatened; he said "yeah, that storm that came through was like the Wrath of God!" I mentioned our earlier vision of the rainbows as a more likely message.

Now, I'm back at Cook--my worthless student is out today (thank God) with a case of Yankeeitis. I'm grading papers and helping morons turn the pages of "Broadcasting and Cable." I'm hoping to finish some grading and to get some homework done, but it doesn't seem likely so far.

Thursday, October 14, 2004


Sullivan is exactly correct on the Kerry Mary Cheney dust-up. Why doesn't HE run for President?


For the first time in more than a month I had work to do at work today. So what did I do? Spent all afternoon writing comments on other people's 'blogs and writing on my own 'blog and responding to comments on my 'blog and to comments other people commented to my comments on other people's blogs. Then I talked to Eskimo about politics for an hour. Jackass. I'll have a ton of shit to do on Sunday. I also still have SIX GODDAMN ESSAYS TO GRADE from ENGL263, and on Tuesday I get a fucking stack of 22 ENGL102 essays, not to mention 26 ENGL263 midterms I'll get on Monday.


Last night I read an article by William T. Vollman in Harper's that freaked me out. It's a strange story about his visit to a small Mexican town which rumor said was once over-run by Chinese people fleeing a subterranean fire. Apparently an entire community of expat Chinese who came to the Americas during the gold rush were living in an elaborate tunnel system under the village--for a CENTURY. Vollman spends a great deal of time trying to find someone who'll admit the tunnels exist, before he actually gets to tour several of them. It reminded me of

or, perhaps of

[WOW. I mean, WOW. Sometimes you wait on patrons who are just WOW. Oh man. I've got Mad HA Disease]

Big Trouble in Little China is a silly movie but I always watch it whenever I happen to find it on TV. It comforts me. Plus, it's odd to see Kim Catrall before her big success in Sex and the City.

But back to the question at hand--tunnels under a town--that's fucked up shit. The Chinese apparently say they fixed up tunnels that were there when they arrived. Who built them? The Knights Templar? The Freemasons? The Maya? Mary Magdeline and Joseph of Arimathea? The Chupacabras? Julio used to take me down in an abandoned Nike Missle base across the street from his house. We had to lift a huge steel door which was embedded in a huge steel silo cap and climb down a runged ladder into the darkness. He knew those tunnels so well he could navigate them in the dark. There's some fucked up shit down there too--post-apocalyptic supplies, uniforms, gas masks, Bibles, love dolls, Ron Jeremy. When I lived in Fairfield PA after my parents' divorce at my grandparents' house there was a hollowed out mountain nearby called Ravenwood--it's one of the potential d-day sites where a post-apocalyptic government would flee in the event of nuclear war. One day I was at my baby-sitter's house in town and an enormous explosion rattled the entire neighborhood. I was flung off the bed in which I was napping and flew at least five feet across the room. No one ever explained it, but something similar happened in England recently. Reportedly there's a tunnel linking Ravenwood to Camp David and another linking it to the White House:

Is Sasquatch Next?

First a new gorilla specie is found in the heart of the Congo, and now someone done shot themselves a Chupacabra in Texas!

Mad Cow

Every time there's a story about Mad Cow in this country, the media always refer to it as a "rare brain disease," or a "mystery ailment," or as "Creutzfeldt-Jakob q-variant whatever." Today's NYTimes story is no exception (remember: for access).

The reason? Food disparagement laws. Oprah paid a heavy price (even tho she won her case) when she talked candidly about Mad Cow on her show. Four people in a single community in upstate NY dead from Creutfeldt-Jakob and the authorities say they have no reason to assume a public health threat? Hmmm. Japan found its 14th case today as well.

I saw somewhere recently an anti-Bush sticker that said "End Mad Cowboy Disease."

The Final Debate

Was largely a downer; Kerry was a bit rote and preachy, tho I think largely effective, while Bush looked like a maniac and yet had his strongest performance of the three. Did Barbara sit W. in the corner all day for punishment after the last debate? He looked contrite and chastened, but somehow the veneer kept cracking and the arrogant overly-confident guy who Jesus selected to be our president kept creeping out.

Is being gay a choice? Bush: "I don't know, but we should be tolerant." Kerry: "*tortured legalese designed to ensure I don't alienate those red-state voters who make this their litmus test*"

BOTH candidates were simply lying: Bush obviously believes homosexuality is a choice and that all gays are damned to hell and their behavior shouldn't be tolerated in America. Kerry I'm pretty sure is FOR gay marriage but can't say so because it'll cost him in Colorado, Nevada, Pennsyltucky, WVa, and he can't afford to say what he actually believes. At least he said people were born gay. At any rate, both answers to this question made me want to wretch.

The media so far are giving Kerry a pretty solid victory, while acknowledging that Bush held his own. There are two things which are being harped on, and public perception of these debate snippets will shift through the weekend as various news outlets spin and filter them:

Kerry's "outing" of Cheney's already out daughter. The Right is crying foul on this, with Lynn Cheney decrying this as a "concerned mother" worried about her daughter's feelings. Also, the Right (typically anti-PC) is trying to use PC culture weapons against Kerry here, which is absurd. I think Kerry had his heart in the right place, and was trying to point out that the Right can't blame parenting or a lack of "family values" for homosexuality without condemning Dick Cheney--a risky move, and I'm not sure how this will play out.

Bush saying "I don't think I ever said I didn't worry about Osama bin Laden. That's what you'd call a Exazzurayshun." Several of the networks last night actually pulled up the March 13th, 2002 press conference where Bush said precisely that and played it:

QUESTION: Do you believe the threat that bin Laden posed won't truly be eliminated until he is found either dead of alive?

BUSH: As I say, we hadn't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, you know, again, I don't know where he is.

I'll repeat what I said: I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run. I was concerned about him when he had taken over a country. I was concerned about the fact that he was basically running Afghanistan and calling the shots for the Taliban.

Of course, to be fair to Bush, he was pointing out that OBL was likely by that time unable to do much, since he was on the run and unable to command anyone--in other words, he'd been reduced to a "nuisance," and so was not a priority. Funny how Kerry says reducing terrorism to a "nuisance" is something we should worry about.

Here's my take on Kerry: he's bOring, but he's competent. He's not going to fire anyone up about anything. I NEED a bOring president, someone who shows up for work and who's uncontroversial and who doesn't push us out to the extremes. Kerry won't do so. He may even take us back a bit from the lunatic fringe we find ouselves on. I need a non-nuisance president for once, someone I can ignore. How's that for an effective slogan? Vote Kerry. He's someone we can ignore! or, John Kerry--Less of a Nuisance.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


Ok, it's way too early for this kind of bonechilling cold. I get up in the morning and it's freezing in the house, and when I'm home between school and work I've got slippers, sweatpants, and thick wool sweater on. You see, we have an oil burner and I'm a bit nervous about turning it on before absolutely necessary, given that our heating costs were about 25% higher last year than the previous year, and "they" are saying the heating bill may be 35-40% higher this winter than last. Jesus. Poor Cha's got it tough because she doesn't tolerate cold nearly as well as I do.

We need new windows, doors, and attic insulation ASAP. One of our tilt-down windows (probably from the '80s) tilted down of its own accord; turns out the mechanism broke, so I have to hold it up using little widgets and the latch (it's the top pane). Several of them are malfunctioning, and during the winter air blasts in around the vapor locks, all long unsealed.

I took a lazy half-day at the Library and lounged around watching TV before taking a glorious two-hour nap. Ahhhhh. This morning in ENGL263 I lectured about academic dishonesty and told them "You have a 24 hour amnesty to keep this between ME and YOU--if I don't get apologetic emails from those who knowingly stole stuff off the internet, this will be between the DEAN and YOU, with really yucky consequences." All three students I'd busted were there--they got the message, and several others stayed after class to say "I looked at some sources and thought about what they said but didn't take anything from them," which I reassured them was ok. I'm not sure why I took this tack this year; last semester I kept the sole plagiarizer after class when I handed back the essay and gave her an ultimatum: "Admit what you did or I take your paper to the Dean now." If I hear from the students I'll have them sign a pledge of some sort never to steal ideas again, and I'll let them write a new paper on a different topic with a 2-letter-grade penalty. The Dean would likely fail them in my class and put them on probation, which stays on the transcript.

Did I generalize the stern disappointed lecture to the whole group because:

I wanted to ensure that everyone in the group thought about plagiarism, and I was hoping that other writers about whose papers I had doubts, but whose source material I couldn't find would be "scared straight"?


I don't want to spend 20 minutes each confronting the students I had dead to rights because of the time factor, or because it would bullying, or because I didn't want to hear excuses?


I'm a coward who'd scold the entire group rather than simply confront those who were to blame.

I thought about these issues beforehand, and changed my mind three times about how I was going to handle the situation (including just passing the papers and the source materials to Dr. Duncan and washing my hands of the whole affair). But, some people have reasons for such behavior above and beyond simple laziness or dishonesty; it may be the first mistake they made, or they may not have understood the plagiarism policy, or gramma might have gone in the hospital and they ran out of time, etc. etc. I didn't make my decision about putting it out in front of the class until the very last minute when I found myself bringing it up after our Hemingway discussion.

How do we make these decisions? Obviously many processes beyond conscious control were at work as I churned over this dilemma. I only "thought" consciously about my approach three times between Thursday and Tuesday, and for a total of an hour, and when I'd last "thought" about it I'd left my options open and the issue unresolved. What decided it? Now I've got to figure out if I think this was the right or wrong way to do it.

Or, I can simply stop teaching after this semester...

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

No Comment



One of my favorite things about Europe is that their subliminal advertising is not nearly as subliminal as ours.

Here's an Icelandic ad for milk.

Unfortunately I've been unable to find examples online of the truly brilliant Magnum ice cream bars advertisements you can see all over the Continent, but if you go to and play along for 10 minutes you can watch A VR Asian babe eat a banana, an oyster, a long stick of asparagus, and then you can feed her a Magnum Intense Stick and she explodes in a pleasurable overload; this basically gives you an idea of their ad campaigns. Apparently their new cinema adverts feature a teacher in a summer dress walking her class down the street--she sees a guy with a Magnum cone in his hand (situated on his lap, of course), she bends over, licks his cone (seen from behind, of course), and then the camera zooms in as she licks dripped ice cream off his hand, before panning back as she turns to her students and says "Come, little ones!" I found a lot of court cases and complaints brought AGAINST Magnum, and some writings on feminism and subliminal theory, and some studies of ad effectiveness, and many Christian websites complaining about their "Seven Deadly Sins" flavors, but I can't find a single still photo of a single one of their posters. Weird. I've seen them in the Netherlands, Ireland, England, Germany, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, and even Singapore (where porn is illegal, but prostitution isn't).

Something brewing?


The Cycle

Eskimo is descending rapidly into the Bad Place. I've seen the pattern four or five times already. Noticed this morning that the hair was pulled back super-tight today for the first time in a couple weeks (though, oddly, she's not wearing her mourning clothes--usually at this point in the cycle it's all black all the time. Today it's red sweater, patterned skirt, and new black stiletto boots with black stockings; I must note this aberration in making my diagnosis).

She's back to talking loudly to herself and swearing while doing the ILL stuff--never a good sign. She wanted to go over some weird ILL stuff with me and in the process she became really grim and started bad-mouthing the managers and her co-workers with two student employees here and K. nearby, all the while kicking the upper foot of her crossed legs like a junkie in need of a fix, while her left hand was clenched tightly into a fist and jammed into her lap and her right kept fiddling with the mouse at the ILL PC. Distant, glassy stare, typically off to the side (when in the Happy Place, Eskimo makes eye contact and smiles). Let's hope for a quick vascillation back up to the top of the cycle; if this is a typical recurrence we're in for a nasty week down here.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Completely Un-Funny

The Bush Legacy.

Apartheid State, paid for by our tax dollars?

Ha ha, part II

Offroad Diesel Emissions!

Mass Comm redux

"Um, I need that thing, the magazine?" she tells me, pulling a pink strand of gum out and looping it back into her mouth. She's tan, wearing a tight white half-tee and a short denim coat open. Her hair is unkempt but she's rather cute.

"I'm sorry?"

"You know, that one under there," she says, tapping on the counter.

I'm tempted to demand that she SAY it. She's got enough brains to accessorize her short goofy puffy skirt in a faux Catholic-school-girl plaid with her weirdo plaid boots, so I assume she can say "Broadcasting and Cable."

Apparently not. I give her the slip to fill in and no, she doesn't write "That Thing The Magazine," for the title, she writes her name on the title line and puts "Wednesday, 45 of Monkey, 7602" for the date. On the line provided for her name she draws a kitty cat, a square house with a triangle roof, a crude representation of mommy and daddy with stick figure arms coming out of circle heads, and a sunshine smiley face. I note that she's really hot and will likely end up doing what Jennifer Gilbert or Denise Koch do now--reading simple sentences while staring into a camera.

Conniption comes in not two minutes later, and we talk about people who say "like" like ALL the time, and how, like, it's so FUCKING ANNOYING we like want to kill them.

Conniption--who finally saw Fah. 9-11--busts on right-wingers who bust on Michael Moore for not being fair and balanced in his movies. "When we watch a documentary about Hitler," he reasons, "we don't require the filmmaker to present Hitler's point of view for balance." He's gone back to Art class now to take a test, while I sit here not grading my ENGL263 papers, which are either really great, really awful, or completely plagiarized so far.


(being a poorly thought-out parody of L'Amant, whose execution is woefully inept, but I'm fucking bored at work, so whatcha expect?)

The day began with Superman piloting a last-straw-driven mechanized seat into the Beyond, and ended with me pushing chairs back under tables in the L'Ibrarie.

Actually, the day began not with the rolling of our kryptonited cultural icon's chair into the Hereafter, but with the broadcasted news of said passing. Actually, it began an hour before this broadcasting, with the beeping and the exasperated inward groaning associated most often with the beeping.

The beeping leads to shaving, showering, defecating, not necessarily in that order. It leads also to coffee, blessed burbling and hissing, steam and cream, the miserable residue of yesterday's batch cast dolefully in the trash, the guilty "I really should put that in the composter" which I ignore each morn, the fresh renewed filter, the bitter scented bite of the as-yet-unmoistened grounds. The hiss, the draining, the vapor, the pour. The coffee with the paper and the suspense of how much cleavage Jennifer Desmarais will today display.

My dreams they seethe, yet Reeves achieves. The total, the end of desire, the summation, the rebeginning. Adulthood is knowing that you perhaps wish to die, or to be alone, and one can manage neither. The desire to die and the need to be alone cannot possibly be satiated without failure. So to be is to fail, to stop being is impossible, to stop wanting to be or stop wanting not to be is well, you know, like, SO

I met the Lover in Hunt Valley Mall. At McDonald's of all places. She was in the red paysan uniform of the wage-slave, exploited by the management, by the customers, by the corporation, by its owners, by the franchisee, by her family. I wore the faux dress blue of the petit bourgeois boss, accessorized by a bushy blond mullet and fang mustache. I dressed her buns in special sauce, and as she acceeded to the plateau of jouissance a half-dozen times, I pledged to continue colonizing her for a lifetime, and she acquiesced, accepting my oppressive honky maleness into her dusky third-world femininity with alacrity bordering on the burlesque.

In those days, my fingers smelled of reconstituted dried onions and my shoes were slick with the slop we sold to Noxel; french fry chicken nugget fish filet vat grease, grill scrapings, rotten meat and decayed veg, slushed into giant grey waste barrels and rolled out the back. Thence are made cosmetics ladies, what a tasty kiss results from that process indeed, paint your face and dance!

Chris Reeves trapped in a giant wheelchair-shaped mirror, rotating through the solar system. Somewhere out there he's freed by Jalel, who left us weeks before, some brand o' other marks the spot. When will Lex have left us? Hack, man, those genes is no good, Levi's or no.

L'Ibrarie contains it all, the dreary redundancies, the plaints, the summits of sorrowfully quaint derivatives. I round them up each eve, and send the seekers to seek themselves amongst the sagging mildewed stacks, each wants something they don't really want, but need to find, their desires from some external Thou Shalt, the results more of the same--still banished from Eden, L'Ibrarie we be.


There's nothing more frustrating than trying to speak in another language when your thoughts are more complicated then your vocabulary. I always tease my 102 classes that the reason they say:

"I was like,, you know!"


"I was like, well, like..." (while making furious hand gestures mimicking some activity in lieu of vocalising)

is because they can't finish a simile; since they don't READ and they don't THINK they have only a 6th grader's vocabulary because they never learn new words after that age. I feel the same way in French these days, which is unforgiveable after I spent two years really focusing on the language, culminating in 6 weeks in Rouen a couple years back. After a year of neglect I'm having trouble formulating complex ideas and keeping my tenses straight. Today we were discussing Duras and I wanted to say that I was sure she'd read Frantz Fanon's "Les Damnes de la terre" and Virginia Woolf, but what came out was more like "I think so that he, uh she has reading been books like/by/from Fanon and Woolf." My brain has the proper French locked inside, but without several glasses of wine I can't get it out! I did manage to just relax and say in French at the end of class "I found this book much more complicated than I expected, having heard so much about it over the years--I'll have to read it several more times to GET it." I even nailed the subjective case! Mostly the problem is a lack of surety and a tendency to second-guess myself into failure. Just let it go!

Duras was seduced and laid by a Chinese businessman in Vietnam at age 15, and this went on for quite some time, until she moved to France. The novel/memoir is not graphic, but it is very intimate and shocking and troubling. I'd like to write about this book in terms of Fanon's analysis of African colonialism--how the French torturers and their victims were in need of psychoanalysis, and the strange kind of relationship which develops between colonizer and colonized. Duras puts herself on the couch, and details how she was colonialized and exploited by her lover, her mother, her older brother--and political repression remains implicit in the setting of her book and in the origins of her lover's vast fortune (though she rarely explicitly discusses politics. Beauvoir made clear that the road from adolescence to adulthood=the discovery of sexuality, then the discovery of politics. Duras is more veiled, but perhaps agreed. There's one memory of a woman named Betty Fernandez who ran a fascist salon in Paris during the Occupation [again mirroring the colonial] that she used to attend regularly--and she herself was a Communist!). Duras also tells us frankly that she writes only to be known, to make money. She thinks the past is empty, memory is meaningless, the person she was in the past is non-existent. And yet...

Ha ha

You forgot Poland!

Sunday, October 10, 2004


As much as I trash this Administration, and hope they're gone in January, I must exhibit some approval for what happened in Afghanistan yesterday (knowing full well that more people were registered to vote than actually live in the country, and that 80% of the territory is still governed by Taliban or other warlords). Leftists must remember that we were screaming for stuff to be done about the Taliban in the '90s (because of women's rights and the destruction of precious Buddhist statues), and the Right was telling us we were wacky idealists--now that the Right is full of wacky idealists, we should support good news when we hear it. Baby steps in Afghanistan are better than no steps--and sure, Bush undersupported the operation there to do Iraq, but there's some hope nonetheless.

As for Iraq--very quietly, the right thing might be happening in Sadr City and Fallujah. Even if this bodes badly for my hopes to oust Bush, I don't want a bloodbath in these places. The next couple of weeks could very well see positive news in Iraq if the Administration plays it cool.

Dissing the '80s

I often dis the '80s because I hated the music, the TV shows, and the films that came out at the time. I'm actually starting to like some music from the '80s now that I have some critical distance from those times, but the TV shows still suck ass and I find them unwatchable. ALL of those sitcoms were wretchedly bad!

The films are a mixed bag. There was Amadeus, and a bunch of really shitty testosterone-induced flicks like the Rambo series, or the not-quite-funny John Hughes stuff, or the woefully predictable Spielburg/Lucas fare (much of it targeted at 13-year old boys). Brian dePalma and Martin Scorcese made some interesting films, Kubrick made one, and Ghandi was ok. But who can watch Ordinary People or The Big Chill without vomiting? Didn't these films win Best Picture? (I'm too lazy to check). Platoon? Pretentious, artless, preachy. Driving Miss Daisy? Awful. There were many more good films made in the '90s and the '70s than during the '80s.

That said, I did get

and wow, Linda Hunt really did do a great job, and the film is actually rather good. So I was wrong a couple months back when I said to K'wali that the 80s produced no truly memorable film performances (outside of My Left Foot and Raging Bull and Amadeus). I admit it.

I also watched

late Thursday night, and liked it. The film works for me best as a series of moods and impressions--the narrative at times is awkward and the viewer is left having to puzzle out stuff that could be clarified in exposition (this however would negatively impact a certain mysterious effect)--often I found myself completely absorbed in the beauty of this alternate world, and then jarred out of my reverie by an insipid or silly moment reminiscent of such awful Japanimated dreck as "Speed Racer": not to mention the fact that Jada Pinkett Smith and Billy Bob Thornton's and Billy Crudup's voices simply don't work here (tho Gillian Anderson's is really excellent, vascillating from a wrathful severity to the intonations of one trapped in a sort of dreamy trance). Still, well worth seeing, and I may in fact buy it because I liked enough of it so much to watch it again and again I'm sure.

Frat Row, volume Two

Yesterday FOUR of the houses on our strip had college parties, beginning at 1pm. I was trying to read Durant's L'Amant with 50 Cent blaring from the porch two houses over, and then the screaming and yelling started as the dancers in #12 started their shindig; then the preps in #6 and the hippies in #8 got going. The noise was dreadful. I couldn't read, I couldn't watch a movie, I couldn't think. So I hooked up my Yamaha soundsystem--the one I had for guitar gigs--to my stereo and started blasting bluegrass at a much higher volume than the competing stereos could muster. Almost immediately they all turned off their music and went indoors. The parties didn't stop, however, and they got progressively louder into the evening. We left and went to a party at Eartha Quake's/It's Australian for Beer's house near Charles Village. Cha neglected to tell me it was a "Remember the '80s" party, because I loathe the '80s, so when we got there everyone was dressed up like Tears for Fears and Duran Duran and there was a live band playing in the living room. We stayed for a bit more than 2 hours and returned home to find dozens of kids being lectured by cops in our alley. There were two cop cars parked out front along York Road, one on Burke, and one out back. I don't know who called but I fear retribution in the neighborhood.

The parties only quieted down for about an hour anyway; by 1am there was screaming again, and I heard audible conversations that weren't screaming, so I went downstairs to invvestigate and turned on my front porch light to find six or seven drunks ON MY FUCKING PORCH. As soon as the light came on they took off, leaving a plastic cup full of cigarette butts, several beer cans, and a pair of panties behind. Jesus Christ, I'm going to start bashing heads soon.

When we came back from the market yesterday, I made a right onto Burke from York, left my turn signal on because I was turning right into our alley from Burke immediately, and a Jeep full of college kids that was behind us on York floored it and passed us on the right just as I began turning into the alley. At the last second I saw them and swerved left, barely avoiding getting smashed into (in our new Volkswagen). Three girls in the back of the Jeep (the top was down) flipped us off as if it were OUR fault that they were idiots.

I might as well live in the goddam city--if I could afford a house in Charles Village at today's rates I'd jump on it. Christ.

Not paid enough...

I'm not paid enough as an adjunct faculty member to research cases of academic dishonesty; as a result I spend 20 minutes talking about plagiarism the first day of class when I go over the syllabus, and every time I hand out an assignment I give dire warnings about plagiarism and its consequences, all in hopes of striking the Fear of God into them.

All to no avail, apparently. I've spent the last two hours grading 5 essays from my lit class, and two of them are clearly plagiarized, and I immediately found the source materials online using Google. One student at least tried to re-write the original language, tho she used some nearly exact formulations, and the exact quotes from the story, and the same arguments as the original document. I caught her because she tried to rewrite a sentence that was too sophisticated for her, and she left it completely insensible. I typed her sentence into Google and up popped the undocumented scholarly article. The other simply framed two entirely stolen paragraphs between her own intro and conclusion.

Now I've got to decide whether or not to take these to the Chair, or to simply give them Fs on the assignment, or to give them a sound thrashing in my office and make them rewrite the essay, threatening them with the Chair and academic probation, etc. Worst thing is that both of the plagiarizers are smart and articulate and completely capable of writing their own essays.

I've still got 17 papers to go out of this batch, and I'm worried there may be more lurking undocumented whoppers.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Always in 3's

This week saw the strangest trio of celebrity deaths yet:

Rodney Dangerfield

Janet Leigh

Jacques Derrida

Thursday, October 07, 2004

I blew my fuse!

Mommie Dearest sends me a lot of the right-wing emails she gets; I think she likes to antagonize me when she hasn't heard from me in a while. After I get enough of these messages I blow my top and respond with an insulting screed against the stupidity of the message and then she'll tell my sister I think she's stupid or I hate her, trying to guilt me into calling and apologizing, and round and round the cycle goes. This is why I see Mommie Dearest four or five times a year at most, even though she's only 40 minutes away.

I used to see the same behavior in my great-grandmother and grandmother. I'd tell great gramma something gramma had said about her, hop on my bike and get back to gramma's house to find her waiting on the porch after having just hung up the phone. "Did you tell great gramma that I said X? She just called me and told me you said I said X..." Of course she DID say X but never intended it to be heard by its object, but mysteriously she would start claiming to have never said X, or that I had misunderstood what she meant to say. All hard to reconcile, perhaps, with her devout Evangelical Christianity (the "false witness" and "lie" Commandments?).

In a way these games are fun;I'm as guilty as any of my family members at provoking people. My excuse is that I only do so when prompted. I tend to stay out (and away) from the family business as much as possible.

Tonight's email forwarded by Mommie Dearest was written by someone claiming to be a Viet Nam vet. He wanted Americans to consider how wealthy John Kerry was, and how the Secret Service would have to provide 5 agents 24 hours a day at all five of the Kerry/Heinz properties. Then the argument was expanded to question why a rich guy would want a Senator's and then a President's salary--the conclusion: "Because he wants all the American people to serve him. He doesn't have any other interest in the job because he obviously doesn't need the money, so it must be power he's after." Think about how much the Secret Service will have to spend to protect President Kerry! Oh my God! I never considered that before. Bush has blown the budget beyond Reagan's wettest jelly bean dreams, but we have to worry about the Secret Service budget if Kerry wins.

You can only imagine the email I sent in response. Basically I implied that my mother was a simpleton, a dupe, even a moron for giving credence to this sort of bullshit. I reminded her the Bushes are wealthier than the Heinz-Kerrys and that they have numerous properties in numerous states that the Secret Service has to guard (not to mention the Bush twins, whose epic partying keeps the SS busy). I also pointed out that the Bush clan has made their fortune bilking the taxpayers into buying weapons for the wars they fight. Sure, they made some money off oil, but Panama and Gulf War I really increased their family wealth a great deal (not to mention banking scandals, shady Saudi-financed deals, baseball stadium boondoggles, selling arms to Hitler, etc).

I don't like Kerry much but he's so obviously superior to the dimwitted proto-fascists currently in charge that I actually feel physically ill when I talk to people who still support W.

Perhaps it's because I'm reading the really acerbic

I find Miller's new "no-holds-barred" tone really refreshing. At last, some righteous indignation! At last someone who thinks these guys aren't simply corrupt, a bit idealistic, and kind of simpleminded--Miller is willing to speak up and say "These guys and their agenda are downright SCARY."

Never in Doubt

The outcome of the next election was never in doubt, because the results have already been tabulated and issued to every news organization. One of them foolishly let the cat out of the bag early...


Turns out the vandals of Cha's school were all middle school kids from Loch Raven. Most of them were girls, their ringleader apparently a new girl in town. How were they caught? They made phone calls from the school to friends. The only thing worse than an uninspired, jerk vandal is an uninspired jerk vandal who also happens to be stupid.

The kids apparently hung out in the school for a long time last weekend. Where oh where were the parents?

Sleeping In

I don't know what prompted me to cancel class today, but on Tuesday I told my 102 kids that I had an "unavoidable appointment" Thursday, and there would be no 8am English class. What a brilliant idea. I stayed up until 2am and watched Conan for the first time in ages. I fell asleep on the couch and woke up at 4, went to bed, and slept like a stone until after 11am. I haven't slept so soundly in--years? Wonderful. I think I could have slept even longer were I so inclined. Must be the fabulous cool weather.

Because I crashed downstairs initially I left my glasses on the coffee table and couldn't find them this morning. Cha's two pair are on the dining room table and mine are gone, meaning that she took mine to work with her this morning. Oh, well. She'll figure it out if she has to work on the computer.

Cha's hosting a Green Party meeting at our place Sunday while I'm at work. When she told me I groaned, but didn't have the heart to tell her why. I'm happy to support the earnest efforts of local folks who want to change the world, and have done some work myself with these (mostly wonderful) idealists. They can, however, be frightful mooches. Here's an example: last time they came over (about a month ago) I'd just bought a couple six packs of a nice imported Heffe Weissen and put them in the 'fridge. Those cheap ass Green muthafuckas brought a 12-pack of Natural Light(cans) with them, drank my good beer, and left me their worthless pisswater that I'll never drink. They've done this several times. I've come home after (or during) a Green meeting to find my Guiness drunk, or my Boddington's, or my (X brand) microbrew--while whatever abysmal skunked shit from the sale rack that some earnest progressive bought ends up staying. I now have almost two cases of canned shit beer in the bottom of my 'fridge (Busch Light, Rolling Rock, Bud) because of this bait-'n-switch. ALL of these events are "potluck," meaning bring a plate to share, and these Green bastards will bring a bag of chips or pretzels and then will eat all my organic salad from the market, all my cheese, all my fresh baked bread, all my fruit, my humous, and often they'll take my pasta and sauce and cook it, and then they'll eat the eggrolls Cha makes. So these get-togethers cost us like $50-$100 each time, and they usually clean out the food I've bought which is supposed to be lunch and dinner for us for a week, and to make things worse, the fuckers will often take their (unopened) chips home with them when they go. Sometimes they open my wine--and somehow they never open an $8-$10 bottle, but will find the $20 or $25 bottle, and they'll drink my single malt and leave me a pocket bottle of Ol' Grandad or Wild Turkey for thanks. Bastards. I'm going to kill them.

Of course I'm exagerrating. Not really.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004


How can they do this? Gingrich and Livingstone were dumped for less than this, not to mention Lott.

Delay needs to go.


I love the dimples in some women's lower backs. You've seen them, I'm sure--situated to either side of the spine, just a bit above the waist, two glorious little indentations. I'm staring at a fabulous exemplar right now--she's at a PC ten feet away with her back to the desk, and when she leans forward there's plumber's crack which actually mars my appreciation of her really amazing lower back. She looks like Janet from Three's Company. Meanwhile, out in the lobby is a blond who must be 6'2" and who's truly spectacular--she's built like Elle MacPherson (and blonds usually aren't my type, but Jesus God, this is beyond type. This is like every Icelandair flight attendant fantasy come true).

A couple days back I was boning up on Lawrence's essays and he was discussing his distaste for the waste of masturbation. Surprised at such a surly Leviticus contempt for onanism in the 20th century's most famous randy writer, I nonetheless read what he had to say and thought about it. He claims that masturbation is always a giving with no taking, and is therefore somehow out of balance and harmful--I can see what he's getting at, but c'mon, D.H., even those of us fortunate enough to get laid as often as we want still like to get some quiet time to prime the pump. He wrote that post-masturbation there's always a vague "emptiness," and morbid guilt feelings. I dunno about that, but I have thought occasionally that if there IS an afterlife then my grandmother might see me jerking off, which can be a source of anxiety [also of mirth]. I'll have to read Henry Miller on the old cored-apple-and-peanutbutter trick as a corrective to D.H.L.

I cancelled my 102 class tomorrow morning. The reason? Because I CAN. I don't want to see those fuckheads for a few days. They're handing in essay 2 next week and I'll have to suffer through 70-odd painful pages next weekend. Cha and I are heading to OC for a day and a half next Thursday after I leave Cook Lib--we've got a free 3-bedroom condo to ourselves; all we need is some plastic sheeting, a jug of Astroglide, and a swing. Oh, and some bottled water.

The last three times I've been to OC there's been a hurricane and I couldn't get in the water. It's been like 3 years since I've been there--and my previous trip was two or three years before that. I remember when Yahtzee's folks had their fucking mansion down there Duck and Yahtzee and I would hit Rehobeth four or five weekends a year. Those were the days.