Monday, January 31, 2005

No Alberto!

Click the banner ad above for your Senators' phone numbers--call them and urge them NOT to support Alberto Gonzalez for Attorney General.

Remember, this guy wrote a memo calling the Geneva Conventions "quaint," and his legal shenanigans likely made the abuses at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib inevitable. Will he be confirmed? Most likely, but raise hell and let the Administration know we're not happy with this choice.

Getting Worse

Things are getting worse in the Burkleigh Square community. Saturday night there were 12 shirtless college guys running up and down York Road in the freezing rain, screaming at the top of their lungs. They first went by at 12:30 am, then at 1:00 am, then at 2:30 am. The last time I turned on my porch light and went outside and they yelled "fuck you asshole!" at me as they ran by.

I want out. We are officially looking for houses again, which sucks, because I love our house and would like nothing better than to fix it up and make it into a showplace townhome, but what's the point of having a showplace in a dung heap? [Thanks to the Earl of Pembroke for that link, BTW.] I'm willing to give up my status as pedestrian--fuck the convenience of Towson living if I have to put up with drunken morons all the time.

Cha wants to buy another house and keep this one too as an investment/rental property. That may be worthwhile, but it would also entail big fucking headaches, including two mortgages.

Oh, and speaking of the Earl--he emailed me last week that the RD and DM for Borders 043 were supposed to announce officially today that the Towson store was moving up to Lutherville. About damn time! Christ, what that poor store has been through the last six or seven years. Give it a chance to succeed again. It'll be weird to have that retail space empty, though--all the couples who met there, all the friends made there. It's still weird to drive past Hunt Valley Mall and see that it doesn't exist any more (that's where Cha and I met).

Not all sunshine?

Via TomPaine, Juan Cole gets negative on the Iraq elections.

Amber Frey gets a goddam book deal....

...and this guy--my new hero--gets naught!



Even cooler than DaVinci's workroom.

Angelina Jolie beware.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

In the dream he remembered that he had dreamed the same thing the night before and on many nights over the past years and he knew that the image would be erased from his memory when he awakened because that recurrent dream had the quality of not being remembered except within the dream itself.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

This is only one of the passages that makes this novel so great, and there's nothing so great as a great novel that everyone tells you is great and when you finally get around to it on a long list of great un-read novels and its greatness is apparent immediately there's simply no greater feeling than that.

I always have this experience--dreaming something and then realizing I've been dreaming in that setting or in that narrative for years but only occasionally do I remember the dreams until I happen to wake up during one, and then for some reason I can remember them all, and even what was going on in my life at the age I was when I had other occurences of the dream. Recently I had a dream that I had killed a man and hidden it years ago and I awoke suddenly in the midst of the dream and remembered I'd been dreaming this alternate murderous self for years, and then I thought "wow, do I really have it in me to be a killer and hide it?" and the answer was not comforting, because obviously I must. But literally I could remember more than a dozen dreams in this universe where I had killed someone and where the me in those dreams was still me but always feeling guilty and trying to hide what I'd done but at the same time justifying my behavior to myself and thinking about trying to get away with it again, and remembering those dreams was very unpleasant.

I'd read some Garcia Marquez short fictions, but never one of his novels, and I really am liking this one though it's also kind of driving me nuts at the same time because it's loose and slippery in its whorls and vortexes [whereas Joyce is tight and controlled in his]; I can't read great huge chunks of this because I get all hyperactive and agitated and I have to think more than I like--that's why I rarely read Borges or Fuentes or Calvino or Pessoa despite the fact I adore them--they drive me nearly mad with pleasure and the top of my head swirls off and I'm like what's-her-name fucked by Zeus who demands to see his true nature and is obliterated by his glory.

At any rate I'm reading it slowly and in small doses and I'm balancing it out with Gibbon and Niall Ferguson; their stately, bedrock prose is an apt palliative to

An expert insomniac, having been one of the first, he had learned the art of silverwork to perfection.


Although his voice was also broken by uncertainty and his hands seemed to doubt the existence of things, it was evident that he came from the world where men could still sleep and remember.


Remedios would appear transfigured: Remedios in the sopoforic air of two in the afternoon, Remedios in the soft breath of the roses, Remedios in the water-clock secrets of the moths, Remedios in the steaming morning bread...

The only reason I still exist after reading such mastery is because I'm reading it in translation. Were I to expose myself to the original Spanish and understand it, I'd simply evanesce.

No Snow Day

Seeing Villa Julie and Bowie State and Howard and Anne Arundel Community Colleges down today only makes it worse--I'd hoped I'd get a closed campus announcement, right up until the Guy Who Unlocks Things and Turns on Lights came around and did so. Now I'm here basking in the flourescent glow and avoiding returning to finish up the last fifth of the Bound Journal Shift project.

Stayed up late to watch Iraq election coverage because I wanted to see what happened--whether anyone would show, whether there would be violence, whether there would be excitement. The footage of people proudly displaying inked fingers--something insurgents claimed would be a mark of doom--was very touching and inspiring. As someone who was against the Iraq war two years ago, and who still thinks it was a mistake, I still have to acknowledge the fantastic thing that happened. Could it all derail? Yes, certainly, but there's hope. I'm curious to see how the racial/religious/gender makeup of the Council of 275 pans out, and whether what surely will prove to be a dominate Shiite government will extend a hand to the Sunnis and Kurds (and vice versa).

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Too many flix

Oh, yeah--this is the stuff. I'd intended to see this at The Charles last year but never did. It's rather good; Audrey Tautou (always Amelie to me) refuses to be typecast, and is able to speak English with a Turkish accent convincingly. The male lead Chiwetel Ejiofor completely overwhelms in an understated yet powerful performance. He's got the best line in the film:

Unidentified English Gangster: Why the fuck haven't I seen any of you people before?

Okwe: Because we're the people you never see. We drive your cabs, we clean your rooms, we suck your cocks.

Also great is Sergi Lopez, who plays a chilling villain a couple atrocities beyond redemption via his Tammany Hall "honest graft" pretentions. Sort of a standard caper/thriller flick, but the uniqueness of the characters and settings--illegal immigrants in London's rotten underbelly--was enough to make things interesting.

I've wanted to see this again because every day I see Mrs. Brisby on Emily's website, and I last saw Nimh in the theater whenever that was. We enjoyed it tonight with red wine and a fire in the fireplace. One caution--the DVD transfer is not spectacular, particularly during darker scenes there's a lot of noise on the screen.

Saw Million Dollar Baby today at a pretty packed Senator matinee. Not a dry eye in the house for this one, mine included. How did Clint Eastwood become a sophisticated filmmaker? When did he drop the tough guy stuff and turn all maudlin and dark and weepy? Watching him cry in despair in this film was like seeing Mt. Rushmore burst into tears. Swank and Freeman rock as well--like Mystic River this is not overly intellectual stuff, not the work of an auteur by any means, but Eastwood has developed into a craftsman behind the lens, and he understands how to coax great performances from his actors. Definitely better than

Thursday, January 27, 2005

One Bad Thing

There's only one bad thing about not working at Borders--lack of title awareness. I don't see all the new books, I don't get to fondle them, I don't pay attention to the book scuttlebutt, and I miss shit despite the fact my job has me on Amazon and Alibris and Bookfinder and Abebooks for hours each week.

The same goes for DVD releases, so I figured

would come out next June, just like the previous four sets--but NO, it came out before Xmas 2004, and here I am NOT watching the episode with the chowder-mispronouncing Frenchie waiter, and the greatest Citizen Kane spoof ever, "Rosebud," not to mention James Woods' fantastic performance as a convenience store clerk.

Must rectify this immediately, and imagine that! I got my GC from Amazon for purchases through this site last quarter just in time.

More Random 'net stuff

Hey, now that the shift project is winding down I can get back to my real library work: slacking!

Love this screencap.

And ugly truths keep on trickling out.

Wow! The Shroud of Turin is between 1300 and 3000 years old! It must be real.

Speaking of ancient artifacts, here's Senator Byrd's latest eloquence--in opposition to Condi as Sec. of State.

In case you missed last night's Australian Open match between Sharparova and S. Williams, here are some good shots--it was better than PRON. And speaking of PRON, here's some non-nude stuff.

At last...

A Giant Sucking Sound

Several people over the years (all of them shall remain nameless) recommended this painfully bad film; I think any jury will acquit me for murdering them if forced to sit through this more-than-two-hour excrement-aganza. It's woefully bad, and not bad in an interesting way--I'd say much worse than seeing Katie Couric's colonoscopy broadcast live on NBC.

Two reasons to see the film:

A) David Bowie's unit
B) A scene in a record store where the Top Sales display features Jim Croce on LP for $4.99.

I mention David Bowie's unit because a lot of people (my wife included) may be enthusiastic about a glimpse--well, let's just say Iman is not a size queen, and there's nothing special about his less-than-Major Tom, so forget it.

As for a science fiction film featuring a scene in a record store with actual datable recordings visible--whatever. I did feel a bit of nostalgia looking at a record store, however, and remembering that Jim Croce was once a huge star was interesting for a second or two.

I don't know what got me through the entire two hours. After the first 45 minutes I wanted to turn it off, but something kept me curious, perhaps some idea that the awful human beings who recommended this to me were right after all, and I simply had to hang in there until the end to "get" it. I stopped watching it after an hour two nights ago and then Cha watched it while I was at work and told me it was stupid, and I watched the rest anyway last night. Terrible, even worse sci-fi than Space: 1999.

Losing Interest

Asking someone to clarify obvious contradictory statements is not impugning that person's integrity--someone who makes contradictory statements--someone who continues to defend positions long after they've proved untenable--has already impugned his or her own integrity, and Dr. Rice needs to explain her vacillations instead of attacking those who question her.

When she told the 9/11 Commission, for example, that the August 2001 PDB about Al-Qaeda attack warnings was a "historical" summary document, she was lying, as anyone who actually reads that PDB can see.

Presumably, the "values" important to this Administration are loyalty and devotion to ideals, as opposed to "honesty" and "accountability." Of course this is true of all Administrations, but few Administrations have been responsible for such foolish ventures as the current Iraq war, including its fraudulent origins and its irresponsible management.

Seeing John McCain this morning--who knows this Administration is full of shit on foreign policy, someone who has been critical of many of the policies Sen. Boxer for one was questioning Dr. Rice about--questioning the integrity of Sen. Boxer for asking tough questions of Dr. Rice...well, fuck it. U.S. politics becomes more abstract and pointless by the day.

But now she's our Secretary of State. Reward those who dissemble and prevaricate, who fail to perform their duties. Why not? The Pres fucked off and drove companies into the ground, relying on daddy's connections to get his ass out of trouble for decades until he could slither into office--but affirmative action is wrong. At least Dr. Rice earned her degrees and worked her ass off.

I strongly recommend the latest Frontline report if you missed it--NOT good for the insomnia, however. We've made Iraq a worse terror threat by stirring it up, as many of us non-pacifist war opposers predicted.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Today's random 'net stumblings

Yeah, I think there's some truth to this, but...I'm not sure I buy it.

I like a bit 'o PRON now and again, however, so this appeases the guilty feelings.

And DaVinci's workshop is found! One of them. Perhaps.

Aside from the great miniseries, the best thing about

(well worth Netflix-ing, BTW) is its inclusion of The Epic That Never Was, which I'd seen late at night on PBS before. What a great little documentary about Korda's aborted von Sternberg-helmed, Charles Laughton/Flora Robson/Merle Obron vehicle! The clips from the film that still exist prove what a devestating loss to cinema this was. The sets! That strange guazed camera effect! Von Sternberg in jodphurs directing Claudius with unlimited monies! Imagine.

What fun that this is on DVD--but why not his Catherine the Great?


I notice that The Dazzling Urbanite has done some posting again after a two-month hiatus; he may trash New York now, but a lot of life happens up there. More goes on in his world in a couple months than transpires down here each year!

Conniption just dropped in before his Geography class (quick, find Martinique on the globe). He looks well but seems a bit frazzled, and with damn good reasons. Jesus. We only had 10 minutes to chat before his class and it was like The Dazzling Urbanite's last couple of months squared.

Funny, I was just thinking of him last night because the last time I took someone to the ER it was Conniption. Sliced himself open with a razor knife trying to get a new deadbolt of out its plastic sheathing.


Got home shortly after 5pm last eve to find Cha trembling on the couch, cheeks the color of pomegranate, hair like scarecrow straw stuck out all over, a blizzard of used Puffs Plus and various sticky tea mugs and cough syrup tablespoon cups upended and covering the coffee table.

Me: Ok, five days of this is enough, especially after antibiotics. Did you call your doctor again?
She: No.
Me: Call him now!
She: He closed at 2pm.
Me: Use the emergency number!

Her temp was 102+ again. Long story short, we were at St. Joe's for 3 hours last night for chest X-rays and blood work and IV sodium fluids and there is no feeling worse than looking at one's spouse miserable in that crappy gown, obviously uncomfortable in that bed with bars on the sides, all along wearing the game face, the jokester's mask, the upbeat tender hopeful fraud, saying silly things while dreading the worst and thinking maudlin despairing thoughts. This is the 2nd time we've had this special joy, and she's only just turned 33!! Goodness. The first time was the worst--the sudden food allergy to mangos that had her in intensive care for 7 hours, but last night was no fun either, and when the doc told me all looked ok and was likely merely severe bronchitis I wanted to do summersaults down the corridor until

Me: I was worried it was dengue fever

The Doc: What's dengue fever?

and I told him and he looked it up online and said they didn't have a test capability for it in this region. But this morning Cha looked much better, and actually smiled for the first time since Honduras. I seem to have defeated the quick fever/cough I had Sunday-Monday morning, and that makes me ecstatic, because again I've not had my annual sinusitis for more than two years now.

Today, I believe, is Ferocity's due date. Wagers? Friday I went to Mick O'Shea's with Yahtzee and Pork Heaven and The Hulk, and The Bus was there with her Hamden chum and another couple--and The Bus ended up sitting alone in her booth much of the time, and I wanted her to join us at the fun table, but The Hulk kept her company briefly and then Yahtzee, though how welcome is it to have The Hulk keep you company when he's systematically working every woman in the room? Pork Heaven was on his best behavior yet, and one of Cha's lesbian dancing buddies approached us and asked us to dance, and we did so, and nobody fell into anything.

Aunty Spy is down here and she and K. are catching each other up on Third Watch, ER, and some other drama about America in the 60s?

Saw a few minutes of Bush's press conference this morning, and he was barking at some reporter who asked him about Gonzalez and torture when a very convenient Emergency Broadcast System test happened. This is the 3rd time I've seen a Bush press conference on Comcast interrupted by one of these, and Bush doesn't have many press conferences. Hmmmm.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Bitch bitch bitch

Man, the hypernegativity down here in 200C at Cook Liberry is off the hook today (excuse my new X-zibit "Pimp My Ride"-inspired vernacular). Eskimo and K. are achieving new heights of loathing for the bureaucrats upstairs.

I'm trying to get my regular job done--the stuff I usually have to do on top of the big project I'm doing, and hearing Eskimo complain about people who don't have enough work to do is driving me nuts, given the fact that the big project I'm doing is a result of her ignoring a part of her job for years.

Shut the fuck up!

Lots of video orders today, and some weirdo replacement books I'll have to track down. Then, more Bound Journals to shift. Cha is home with a dreadful viral infection and she's sick to the point I'm worried. She got it I think from one of our traveling companions who was hacking all day at Miami airport. Yesterday she finally got to the doc's after three days' illness and he told her with viral infections like this there's no treatment after the first two days; "you just have to ride it out and take Tylenol to keep the fever down." Great.

We've been sleeping apart for two nights because I'm paranoid I'll catch it (though playing nurse has already exposed me I'm sure), and I had a fever of 102 yesterday and felt achy, but this morning I didn't feel bad--c'mon echinacea, work your magic again.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Some Fragments

Sunday, January 16th

I'm inside the COCEPRADIL training compound near Calendria, Honduras. I'm in a cabin inside the compound. I'm on a cot inside the cabin within the compound. Mountains surround us, because we are in them, and aside from a furrowed fist of granite rock I photographed several times in different daylights earlier, trees cover the mountains. The sky outside the compound in the dark beyond the walls is deep with stars behind constellations. I know because I snuck off to see while the others watched TV. Orion, usually low and near vertical, stands midsky and horizontal here. Earlier I saw Drago and Cassiopeia, but no others I can remember.

The bed is comfortable but the sheet keeps coming off the straw mattress, and I worry briefly about spiders and bugs and then laugh to myself because I don't care about spiders and bugs. Something inside the room and up in the ceiling keeps chirping and clicking loudly. At first I think it's a bird, but I remember suddenly as a small child seeing what I took to be a dried leaf hanging upside down in Great Grandma's rose arbor; I poked it with a piece of twig and it unfurled like a veined tan flower to reveal a small angry rodent upside down which made that exact click and chirp. Great Grandma heard my yelling and hacked at the bat with a rake until its oozing smashed corpse lay still. In the cabin with me are my wife, already asleep despite the cold, and a young woman who is a senior at a Jesuit college in the Northwest, on her way to do a semester abroad as a CRS intern. I am awake because I had a strange and potent dream, a dream I thought was happy whilst I dreamed it but upon conscious consideration I know it's actually not, and I say to myself "This is a sad dream," but then I wake up and think "I thought I was already awake." Now I'm listening to the sounds of the forest and I fear missing out on part of the experience of being here if I fall asleep again.

In the morning, though I don't know it yet, I'll see a procession of villagers following a saint's effigy up the mountain road. Their singing will cause me to hush the others who are talking because it is beautiful as the river, as the wind, as the dogs barking and the hawk a mere dark blot on the blue dome above. Yellow birds with black wings and strange small blackbirds with long tails flit and twitter, but only after dawn.

A cock crows regularly throughout the night, and is answered by four or five more distant crowing calls down the valley. As the crowing continues, dogs respond, and finally a cat which sounds like he's mimicking the cock bleats a bizzare croak outside the window. Frogs and crickets.

In the morning, again it's not yet here, our breakfast is cooked over an open wood flame by locals who don't speak Spanish but some ancient indigenous language. I eat the beef they cook for me even though I don't eat beef, because when the poor offer what they have to refuse is sinful. They stir fabulous coffee in huge metal pan and infuse it with hot unmolested milk straight from the source. The Indian at the stove is smoking a rolled cigarette and she shares it with me. We have no language but I know what the smoke is when I taste it and she knows I know and people who know this are the same everywhere. I'd like to lick a toad but don't.

Before dark we had a half hour to tour the town and five of us walked back along the not-quite road and over the chasm spanned by a plank bridge and into Candelaria. The church is perhaps Catholic but I can't be sure and it is dedicated to the soldiers. Evangelical Christianity is on the rise in these parts. The square upon which the church sternly sets is decrepit and filthy but is filled with sturdy old trees and beautiful children. Bullet holes in the plaster painted a bright taupe, cobblestones upset and tumbling in rainfed ravines. The Jesuit school student from Washington state asks some children if she can photograph them, and a few moments later a tall man with dried apple skin appears in the doorway. He's 93, and wants his photo taken, and when she shows him the back of her digital camera and he sees there his own face he works his toothless mouth into a smile. Within minutes the day is gone and we are in the dark walking back across the bridge.

Monday, January 17th

In Gracias are thermal baths and when we arrive we think no one is there and we get in the water and under a bridge which spans the pool we discover we've interrupted a local couple who are fucking in the steaming water. The guy asks me if I'm Mexican in Spanish and I say no I'm American and he thinks this is funny. His girlfriend is very beautiful and looks like my wife. They speak Spanish to my wife as does everyone here because they think she is perhaps from Peru. Somebody buys us beers--the brand is local and is called Salva Vida and I think that's very appropriate. We float in the water for hours under a leafy canopy and it's almost one in the morning before we get out. The CRS country head is an Irishman who's served in Haiti and Angola and he's something of a daredevil and keeps climbing high up on the stone walls and diving into the baths which are not deep. The major gifts officer from Philadelphia is holding his hands out of the water because they are pruned. This gesture looks lecherous. We drink many many beers, and the Hondurans with us--the civil engineers and drivers and project managers--are drinking Cuba Libres and they remember coming here as children.

Wednesday, January 19th

In San Pedro Sula we arrive late and are advised to stay in the hotel because we're on the square and downtown is not safe after dark. Cha and I immediately leave the hotel and walk to the enormous Spanish cathedral, which closes as we approach. As in Manilla and Teguz and Gracias there is a statue to the mothers of the nation with a fountain. Unlike in Gracias, there is no statue of Lempira who was deceived and killed by the Spaniards and whose name is now a region and a currency. Cha poses at the fountain for a photo and I hope there are no Guatemalans on the plaza behind her because of what the tour guide at Copan told me.

We have a seventh floor room with a balcony overlooking the plaza and a heavy rain is falling and it is dark out and warm for the first time in two days and I say "I like this balcony" and Cha asks why but I won't tell you what transpired there. I am sad to leave. I like nothing more than going places, and nothing less than leaving them.


Your tongue thrums and moves
Into me, and I become
Hollow and blaze with
Whirling light, like the inside
Of a vast expanding pearl

--The Love Poems of Marichiko

(translated by Kenneth Rexroth)

Temple grotesque--and carving Posted by Hello

Back from Honduras

Had a great time in Honduras:

We saw a volcano, we visited Mayan ruins, we soaked in thermal baths, climbed Spanish fortresses, toured CRS and COCEPRADIL relief projects, saw a military base where US military and CIA personal trained Contra death squads (thanks Mr. Negroponte), saw constellations not visible in the north, stayed in a remote mountain compound.

Cha, alas, picked up the flu on the way home--no one in our delegation got the typical traveler's sickness, but three were passing a flu around.

Sleeping in the dense forest near Candelaria brought strong dreams--the dawn bird chorus was simply beyond imagining.

Now I'm ready for Peru and Yucatan!

The CRS people we met were really special--they work hard to help people build sustainable development projects, and we saw first hand the incredible impact this group (who do NOT prosletyze) has had with water projects and school lunch programs and housing and reforestation work. Send them some money if you can!

Some photos below
What a ham! Posted by Hello
Archway next to ballpark Posted by Hello
On top of the world Posted by Hello
Sacrificial altar--blood channels are in Yin/Yang shape Posted by Hello
Macaw sculpture overlooking ball court Posted by Hello
Cha at glyph staircase--The Bible of the Mayans Posted by Hello
Cha at Copan Ruinas Posted by Hello
Love this grotesque Posted by Hello
New excavations at Copan. Only 20% of the 4500 sites around Copan are excavated Posted by Hello
Spanish fort on hilltop in Gracias Posted by Hello
Cha making corn tortillas Posted by Hello
Indian children love seeing their images on the digital cams. I played a great game of tag with these kids.  Posted by Hello
Delegation, teachers, and students outside classroom building Posted by Hello
Rural school we visited in Saosal(sp?) Posted by Hello
Coffee farmer's home Posted by Hello
You never know who you'll run into on the trails Posted by Hello
In the misty mountains Posted by Hello
We saw a volcano, but in this photo its barely visible due to the mist Posted by Hello
View of Candelaria from mountain road Posted by Hello
Pigs on the way to market in Candelaria--near COCEPRADIL compound where we spent the night Posted by Hello
An unusual red clay landscape in the mountains of southwest Honduras Posted by Hello
Jesus and Coke dominate the capital city of Tegucigalpa Posted by Hello

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Buenos Noches de Tegucigalpa, Honduras

It's about 9pm Honduras time--according to the locals and our CRS guides it's not advisable for us to leave the hotel at night in Tegucigalpa (and especially in San Pedro, where we'll be the last night--apparently now San Pedro's the most dangerous city in Central or South America), so we're goofing off on the internet.

Getting here was a bit of an adventure. Left Towson at 3.30am, left BWI for Miami at 6am, arrived at 8.30 after a pleasurable uneventful flight. Faced with a miserable 3.5 hour layover, we got through it, then ended up getting on our flight to Honduras and deplaning due to tech difficulties--our 3.5 hour layover turned into a 7 hour layover, and we didn't get here until four hours later than planned. Flying in was exquisite, however--the runway here is very short, and in the mountains, so our 757 had to swoop in very low, bank hard to the left, and land immediately with barely enough time to straighten out. I've never looked out my window and thought "Well, the ground is only two feet away from the wing. I'm going to die!" before. Makes landing interesting. Much hard braking later and we were in the town, which looks beautiful. Exotic birds cried at us from trees next to a BK parking lot, and of course I was instantaneously beset by urchins begging, but we got to our hotel (four stars!--and very swank) fine and had a great dinner with our guides and now we're off to poverty-struck project tours in the West of the country. We'll be incommunicado for a couple days, but I think Wednesday when we get to the Mayan ruins in Copan we may have some electronic access again.

I love this shit; so exciting to be out of the US and in the thick of it. We're surrounded by mountains and beautiful people and strange exotic things and I think the sauce I had for dinner had beef in it--look out. One of the peaks here has a giant Jesus statue next to a Coca-Cola ad done Hollywood sign-style. Too rich. At night Jesus is lit purple and gold.

Later, fools.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Movie Lines

I stole this idea from Em. See if you can guess these movie lines:

1. "Whatever walks there, walks alone."
2. "Want some ice cream, Doc?"
3. "You're lit from within, Tracy. You got fires banked down in you- hearthfires and holocausts."
4. "Give me back my hand!"
5. "I wanted a mission, and for my sins they gave me one."
6. "How would it look were the other servants to hear us standing about shouting at the top of our voices about Chinamen?"
7. "You do not come to Las Vegas and talk to a man like Moe Green like that!"
8. "Silencio."
9. "I'm her mother. I'm her sister. I'm her mother. I'm her sister."
10. "He left a note. All it said was 'I went out of the window.'"
11. "Looks like eggie weggs. I'd like to smash 'em, and then I'd pick 'em up, and smash 'em--ow!"
12. "Inconceivable!"
13. "I came here to kick ass and chew bubble gum, and I'm all out of bubble gum."
14. "We're colonized by wankers!"
15. "Care for a bathe, Mr. Bede?"
You know, forget this. I'm terrible at remembering movie lines unless I'm actually watching the movie at the time. I can picture scenes and remember tones and moods, but trying to recall dialogue? Nope.

The J's have fallen. They tried to regroup briefly under disguise as I's (ie: International Journal of...everything in the fucking universe), but we drove a stake through it quickly enough.

The J's

The J's in the journal shifting project are the worst. P was hell, but J is below hell, it's in fact that room where Satan sits chewing on Judas Iscariot, forever frozen into an icy lake (with apologies to Dante and Durer). There's Journal of the...everything in the fucking universe, then Journal of...everything in the fucking universe, then Journal of Applied...everything in the fucking universe. Plus, you run into Physics/Chemistry/Biology tomes that weigh as much as a toddler each and there's a wall of them and by the time you get through Journal of Applied Microbiological Chemical Physics your arms feel like rubber. But Gerald and I have kicked major ass the last three days, and are more than halfway done. Today and tomorrow we'll slog through another 8 runs of fixtures before I head to Honduras for five days. I'm due back to work on the project next Friday, but last night I was thinking Cha and I should see if we can fly to Mexico City for the weekend on the way home....Perhaps not.

Yesterday I was speaking French with Gerald--who's from Martinique--and I told him about smoking pot in Rouen with some Senegalese dudes who were partying because Senegal knocked France out in the first round of the World Cup, and how the cops saw us and joked with us about it but didn't care. Gerald told me everyone he knows in every city everywhere smokes weed (on fume du junque), and that the only "Western" country where the cops give a shit is the US. He's studying computer science here--he studied for four years in Paris previously, and he's a really cool guy who a couple days ago left his braids out and he's got the most amazing Afro I've seen in the last 20 years.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

That's A-Moari!

I resisted seeing this for quite some time, and not because I thought it would suck, but because I kept reshuffling it beneath other priorities. It's really good; anything with old Pacific Rim legends handled elegantly and with native performers can hold me captive, and here the direction and production and editing and acting and story are all effective. I have a particular fascination with the Maori and those war chants and dances--go All Blacks! This is the best movie with whales in it since

I love whales too.

Call it Zhang Yimou moved a bit south, because at the end if you're not a quavering pile of tears and snot, you're not my wife, who howled down a great cathartic cry at the conclusion of this one.

Those cultchas down unda keep churning out good movies!

Back at it

Almost seven hours' sleep last night=a desire to listen to Beethoven's 9th this morning at full volume. Instead, called Julio at 10:15 and woke him--he'd stayed up late looking at life drawings for the course he's teaching at MICA next semester, which is Life Drawing. He told me the Sheik of Qatar is trying to recruit Yo! Adrienne away from her cataloging/preservation/restoration job at the Lib of Congress. The Sheik is like the number one collector in the world of 19th century photos, and he's willing to fly her over and pay for her trip for an obligation-free interview, and will give her one-year contracts with no obligation for ridiculous money to make the position more attractive. Julio sez she wrote him concerned about security and he responded saying it's extremely safe there for Westerners.

Personally, I'd have left yesterday. For the kind of money the Sheik is offering, there's little I wouldn't do. Julio seems of similar mind--despite all the work on their house, he's ready to sell and go; of course, he's never in adulthood lived anywhere for more than a couple years (Rome, Amsterdam, San Fran, New York, Chicago, etc). Plus, as a photo conservator, working with the premier collector in the world in your primary area of interest, even if only for a year or two, would be dawgone rad.

How I envy people with careers.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

More Good Stuff

Venerable old foreign policy wonks discuss the current state of affairs.

Sleep Link

Faulty Landscape forwarded this to me the other day, and I just saw it on Sullivan too. Interesting stuff. I'll read it at 4:30 am.

How Bad it Must Be

Scuttlebutt has it that Newt Gingrich might be running for President in '08. I saw him interviewed three times in the last couple days, plugging his new turd of a book--on Crossfire, Fox News, etc. 8-10 years ago the idea of a Gingrich presidency was beyond the pale ridiculous and filled me with dread. Now, I can't help but think "at least he's smart and competent." Christ, what the fuck has HAPPENED to our politics? Pat Buchanan and Newt Gingrich appear moderate. On Fox this morning Gingrich proposed the removal of federal judges who were athiests, because they were so out of touch with mainstream America, and he cited an 1802 action by Thomas Jefferson as precedent. All part of the Right's desire to clean up our ethics--uh, wasn't Gingrich an insatiable dope smoker at one time, and didn't he lose his position as Speaker due to ethical challenges, and didn't he ask his wife to sign divorce papers while she was undergoing cancer treatment in hospital so he could feel better about having sex with one of his pages? I love the Moral Right!

I saw some talking head on cable say that Gingrich was allowed to criticize Administration policy in Iraq because he supported the war initially. Since when are citizens given prerequisites for voicing their opinions?

Strangely, I also saw a clip of Mel Gibson defending Michael Moore--Gibson said he hadn't seen Fahrenheit 9-11, but was rather adamant about saying he didn't know or understand why we were in Iraq, and he thought the Administration had failed to explain their reasoning, and that Moore certainly had a right to make his film and probably should have done so.

No sleep

What's the best way to counteract a particularly brutal bout of insomnia (I haven't slept since Sunday)?

This jangly, exaggerated, dark and goofy music suits my mood perfectly. I feel dessicated and on-edge, and a twisted cover of the theme from Rosemary's Baby played at top volume in my headphones is just what the doctor ordered. I'm playing it so loud that K. keeps looking at me over her shoulder.

Eskimo strolled in, as she usually does, just before nine--she'll leave at five after taking an hour break, too. Immediately she started moaning about her son: "He can't drive a car, he's no good with his hands, he doesn't test well. I mean he's not a complete idiot, he's just close." He's still thinking of enlisting in the Marines, and she's freaking out. Can't blame her.

It's been a long time since I wrote about politics here; sorry about that, but not really. I've been allowing myself small doses of the old wonkish behavior: David Brooks on Imus this morning, actually reading the Times instead of leafing through it again--last night I even watched 20 minutes of Chris Matthews, which I'd not done in months. Five months ago I was watching The News Hour religiously, all the Sunday news shows, reading three papers--and what did it get me? Angry. Last night on Matthews a former CBS journalist had the audacity to claim that someone had set up Dan Rather with fake docs--I think the whole thing was a black op too--but she was dismissed with a harumph of contempt, even though the other panelists all admitted no one knows WHO forged the documents, and it hasn't even been proved conclusively that they ARE forged--and no one doubts what the docs said was true anyway.

I think it odd that the White House released the same docs the same day as CBS, without comment or challenge, and then some right-wing blogs jumped all over them. Especially odd given the close (and often financial) ties this Administration has with media figures.

Last night's bought of sleeplessness was particularly unbearable, because I was physically wiped out after moving books for 7 hours, and I went to bed at 10:30, fell immediately asleep, and woke up after ten minutes. Then all night I lay there, dry-eyed and pooped, unable to understand why I couldn't sleep. Every little noise Cha made of course was to blame; every miniscule source of light was the devil's work; my pillow of course is not perfect. I even read a long chapter on Triple Entente military spending, taxation, and debt before WW1--and couldn't sleep after that.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Sunday, January 09, 2005

We're all made of star stuff....

I dreamt last night I was visiting the southern hemisphere for the first time. The stars were vivid and I was comparing a map of the constellations stored in my memory to the actual bowl of sky above me--ridiculous given the fact I haven't memorized a sky chart since 1988, and such things have long faded from memory. I was telling someone about the Southern Cross and other constellations we miss up north, and there was an extremely bright formation at the horizon that I thought was troubling. Dreaming about looking at the sky and comparing the sky seen in the dream to a map of the real sky once remembered while still dreaming--ain't that what life is all about?

I think this was probably precipitated by watching a couple episodes of Carl Sagan's Cosmos with Yahtzee on Saturday, and also by the story I read in Saturday's Sun about a comet currently visible in MD. This can only underscore my absolute nerdiness as a youth, but I was a Cosmos fanatic, and read all of Sagan's books by age 15. Watching that show again brought back the powerful youthful desire to be an astronomer, and lugging my cheap ass Celestron out to an icy field to look at Venus or Jupiter's moons or the mountains of our own moon for hours on end. In the cold. In the dark, rather near where the Traveling Joneses now live. Somehow I let that dream subside; must've been concerned about making a living, so I chose English instead. (canned laughter here)

Cha came back from taking her Mom to church today with bizarre news. Her dad, fearing he's going to die soon, decided to tell her she's got a half-sister somewhere. Apparently when he was a young man he lost a girlfriend he loved very much. Her family didn't like him and took her out of university in Manilla so she couldn't see him. They found her on the train tracks dead, with her head and legs severed. No one was sure if it was an accident or a suicide (how Anna Karenina!), but at any rate Cha's Pa was so despondent he went mad and slept by the coffin in the church for three days, not showing up at his job, not continuing his studies, and sleeping with numerous chicks, one of whom--an American expat, ended up pregnant. Her plan was to marry another man who was courting her and tell him the child was his (all we know is the child was eventually named Holly). After her parents fled Marcos' crack-down, Pa lost touch with the other daughter. Cha immediately called her sisters with the news.