Monday, February 28, 2005

A student who accompanied us on part of the Honduras trip kindly sent along her are a few good ones Posted by Hello

Sunday, February 27, 2005

It's happening...

Faulty Landscape sends along this example of crass commercialism run amock. This Livejournal user has tapped into something, and gets hundreds of comments from fetishists, Ad-Busters fans, McDonald's fanatics, etc, etc.

The picture in Borocay, where I spent a fantastic three days last August, is simply wrong.

In for it?

One never can tell with these mid-Atlantic storms, but whenever I see on TV the two animated jet streams streaking down over the plains, dipping into the Gulf and shooting back up the coast, I get antsy: that's the pattern which produces our heaviest snows, and that's the pattern we're looking at today.

The problem is, of course, the track of the storm. A bit too far west and the ice/snow line is somewhere around Pittsburg and we get heavy rains and warm temps. A direct hit and we get ice/snow/sleet/rain mix, which is more treacherous than fun. A bit to the east? BIG SNOW. That's apparently the consensus now, according to the Weather Channel and inches of snow starting at 1am Monday and ending 1am Tuesday.

I would love two days off, baby! Why? Because I still get paid, it falls under Administrative leave and doesn't cost me personal or vacation time, and I'm a lazy muthafucka.


Man, even snow-extended weekends fly by! Cha had fun at her Borders They Might Be Giants children's album release concert, and then she and It's Australian for Beer! went down to the 13th floor to see some Eurotrash "jazz" ensemble whose femme singer could've seduced my wife in a heartbeat, judging by her swoon each time she describes this woman. I stayed home and read and drank wine and occasionally shoveled snow.

Friday we woke late and decided to go to Los Amigos for lunch--I called Ferocity to see if we might drop in and meet Eve, but got naught but the voicemail (this will teach me to be so last-minute). Lunch was grand, we drove down Harford RD to The Charles for a matinee, and then spent the rest of the evening chilling.

Saturday BroJ called me at 9:30 am and kept me on the phone again for three hours. He told me he borrowed money for gas because he's completely broke, put 50 cents' worth in his tank, drove to the store to buy cigarettes with the rest of the borrowed money, than ran out of gas on the way back. He didn't have a gas can in his truck so he walked a quarter mile to the dollar store, bought a gallon of water, dumped out the water, put a dollar's worth of gas in the jug, walked back to his truck, and saw a gas can lying on the side of the road. Our niece had given him a gift certificate to Superfresh so he could at least buy some food (and stop eating everyone else's at their house presumably), and he used that for smokes as well. Then he described all the stuff he has nailed to the walls in his room, told me he's "42 and just about out of steam," and said he might work at The Lamplight Inn as a dishwasher or at the lumberyard, but he doesn't really want to. Then he complained that there would be no social security by the time he got to retirement.

Dude, you're like already retired.

It's noon and it's dark here in the Library. I'm all alone here and I'm starting to wonder if we're open today? Oops, never mind--there's that guy with keys who turns on lights.

Saturday afternoon K'wali called and then we met him and Klezma at Kyodai Sushi in Towson. They were really packed--apparently the novelty of conveyor-belt sushi is too much to resist (though right across Penn Ave is Sans Sushi II and just a bit east on Penn Ave is Sushi Hana, both of which are fresher). Kyodai is nonetheless a good place, and very fast and convenient, and I prefer their dark exposed brick/red lantern aesthetic to the white-wall light wood glare of Sushi Hana. Strange to note that Kyodai used to be Pizzeria Uno, where I used to sit with Buf and Sluggo and drink 22 oz beers on special to oblivian when we all lived in Towson. K'wali, always eager to share his enthusiasms, had bought a DVD of some quickly cancelled Fox TV show, and he brought it back to our house and subjected us to two of the worst hours I've ever seen:

I suppose a more sardonic version of "Northern Exposure" featuring a Brown graduate with a Humanities degree working retail is funny, quirky and interesting if you've never worked retail after earning a Humanities degree. Otherwise, fuck you.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

More Flix

Wholly satisfying. "It's what's inside that counts," indeed! Not an earth-shattering or particularly complex work, but very strong and beautifully executed.

At last Don Cheadle gets a leading role! This film tore me up. Cha could barely tolerate it and cried for two hours straight during the movie; after she was miserable for hours. I've for a long time lamented the easy tear-jerker quality of the genocide drama--Hotel Rwanda of course falls squarely into this category (a movie whose subject matter is so awful that of course the audience will have powerful emotional reactions, regardless of the quality of the actual work--I note Life is Beautiful as the worst of this sort of film, with other over-rated fare like The Killing Fields and the wooden Schindler's List on the list). What's different here is largely Cheadle's magnificence. Early in the film Paul Rusesabagina thinks all the racial tension will just go away, or that the UN or the Americans or the French will stop it. When the Hutus start "cutting the tall trees," however, Paul's desperate attempts to continue his work, to keep his part of the world an oasis in a desert of inhuman butchery, add a bizarre Kafkaesque edge to this dreadful tale, and Cheadle plays this role with remarkable range and openness. When Cheadle as Rusesabagina talks about shame, when Nolte as the UN colonel on the ground tells him the West is indifferent to blacks in Africa, there's an uncomfortable guilt--and director Terry George knows how to use this audience reaction, combining it deftly with the ironic tension that we know what the characters don't yet know is about to happen, further ratcheting up the exquisite sense of hopelessness as beautiful people in a beautiful landscape decide to turn their country into an abbatoir. We see the UN arrive with much celebration, only to save the foreigners, leaving desperate Tutsis to fend for themselves--Gross allows the camera to linger over the whites as they sit on their secure bus preparing to evacuate, pets mysteriously worthy of rescue in their laps, as they take pictures of their African "friends" now assured of destruction. I think this is a magnificent film. Nolte's Colonel reminded me of Lt. General Romeo Dallaire, whose story is frankly one of the most aggravating I've encountered:

On a lighter note, I bought

and have done nothing but hoe-down all weekend.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Well Shut My Mouth!

I grumpily arrived at work at 12:30, then 45 minutes later Towson decided to close at 3:30--so I get a nice half-day at the commencement of my weekend.

Because of 2-3 inches of snow. I can understand Houston shutting down in a 3-inch snow, but it snows regularly in Baltimore, and after the last three winters we should be able to handle this.

But I'm not looking a gift horse in the mouth!

Tonight Cha is going to Borders because she loves a band to which I'm indifferent. Good to see 043 getting a potential draw, but too bad it's happening during a snowstorm, heh-heh.

A surprise!

Films that amount to nothing more than an extended conversation between two characters are extremely rare; the only other example of this genre I can recall is My Dinner With Andre. Undertaking such a film poses obvious risks, particularly in America where audience complaints--nothing happens, people just wander around talking, yadda-yadda--are easily predictable. I got Before Sunrise from Netflix after reading several very positive reviews of its sequel from last year, Before Sunset, and I was not disappointed. Cha and I watched it last night late in the hopes she would have a snow holiday today (she does), and we both liked it a great deal. The leads (Ethan Hawke and Judy Delpy) rarely strike false notes, and are often magnificent--this is particularly surprising given that much of this dialogue must be improvised. One scene, shortly after they've met and decided to spend the day together, features the two of them in a listening booth at a record store, each trying subtly to check the other out, each shy, embarrassed, but very curious. I found watching these actors at work here very real--painful, awkward, intense, and gratifying all at once. There are some in-jokes for Freud fans, and a strange reference to the dizzying Ferris wheel scene from The Third Man. Perhaps a love of Vienna fueled much of my enthusiasm for this film and its two lost seekers, as various landmarks caused "oh yeah" moments for us (has it really been 8 years since we visited Vienna? Yes!). Before Sunrise ends powerfully, and I'm eager to see the sequel, for which many others have waited ten years.

This is only my second Ethan Hawke film--the other was also surprisingly good:

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Mass Xtinction

A big thanks to Faulty Landscape for recommending this one--I'd not cracked a lay science tome since perhaps the early '90s, and tonight I read half of this sitting here in the Liberry. A good, quick read, enlivened by Ward's ability to nest his paleontological musings contextually; we get South African politics and travelogue, character studies, and cultural anthropology along the way:

The heavy-handed [South African] government had censored Western films and music, so the local radio stations played an endless selection of Carpenters music. I felt that I would go mad as anorexic Karen Carpenter crooned bad sugar from every mall and elevator.

Started at 8pm, and I may finish it tonight!

Why Lapham Rules

"The point didn't need belaboring because it was made clear the next day when the Senate Judiciary Committee briefly examined the qualifications of Alberto R. Gonzales, the White House counsel, to serve as Attorney General of the United States. The nominee showed himself to be a man of little principal and less integrity, a clever eunuch in a corporate harem, grinning and self-satisfied, unwilling to give a straight answer to questions about the part he played in the drawing up of the memoranda for President Bush that referred to the Geneva Convention as "quaint" and "obsolete," and defined torture as "only physical pain of intensity akin to that which accompanies serious physical injuries such as death or organ failure." When asked for specific recollection of documents that the White House refused to release to the committee, he dodged behind the phrases "I don't recall...I don't remember..."

"Democracyland," Lewis Lapham. Harper's March 25, 2005.

Snow Day?

The Liberry is abuzz with the potential weather tomorrow:

E: I'm wearing my PJs inside-out and backwards tonight!
K: Ohh, good idea!
Me: *squinting in disbelief* They're only calling for two inches.
K: I saw Tom Tasselmeyer at the eye doctor and he says we're in for it.
Me: Yeah, it's one of those stupid storms we get that either sits offshore and dumps on us or scoots out with nothing. I'm not counting on anything--we'll get some rain, some sleet, some snow, but it'll be too warm.
E: I want at least one day off for snow this year! Even if we get 2 inches it's hard for me to get here, so I might not come in.
K: I think we'll get Friday at least.

Why am I so grouchy and cynical about the snow? Because if it snows tomorrow afternoon into tomorrow evening, I'm fucked, because they're very unlikely to close the University early and I'm here until 10pm, and Friday if they close the University I'm off anyway, so I get screwed. The timing of this snow won't help me, so I can't share the excitement.

More exciting than the snow? Our two microquakes this morning.

The higher-ups are moving my desk out of the Serials Office and to the HVAC storage room behind the info counter. In a way this is good--because I'm at the desk so much it'll be easier for me to do my cataloging and ordering work on Sundays and weeknights, and I'll be far far away from Eskimo most of the time now--but it's also too bright and too noisy out there, and the helpless people will annoy me with questions they should be able to handle at the desk but can't.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

This book, and my manner of writing it, should make one thing about my life clear: that everything I have lived through has either been completely forgotten or is as yesterday.
Richard Wollheim, Germs: A Memoir of Childhood

Things I Hate Today

10) I hate the fact that Thomas Kincaid makes lots of money.

9) I hate Anne Geddes' stuff.

8) I really hate Benny Hinn

7) Your 15 minutes have got to be wound down by now, Kelly. Jesus!

6) I've hated everything I've seen by the Farrelly Bros--and especially Shallow Hall. Yet people keep bringing these movies over to my house and showing them to me, promising me I'll like them. I must be really out of touch (strangely, I don't hate being out of touch).

5) Ditto #6, but replace the Farrelly Bros with Mr. Show.

4) I hate Ben Stiller. I also hate his dad.

3) I hate Monica Crowley and Ron Reagan. They need to stop.

2) I hate him for abusing docile dogs--they should maul their master. Now. And film it. I'd buy that.

1) Ugh!

More Colbert

Again, TCM introduces me to a gem. Claudette Colbert is amazing (she shimmies out of her dress to reveal a sheer satin slip, tries to seduce Clark Gable, who's like: get the fuck away from me beyatch!). The dialogue is subtly filthy--when it appears Colbert will have to marry her fop fiance instead of studly Gable, she says to her groom-to-be that their marriage will be like a merry-go-'round, and "we'll never get off, will we? Promise me you'll never let me get off!" This saucy double-entendre with a sly ironic visage. Gable is remarkable, and I can see a young Archibald Leach modeling his His Girl Friday role off this performance. Good stuff.

Monday, February 21, 2005


I really, really wanted to see The Simpsons' gay marriage episode, and I sort-of did, but the house was filled with loud people playing Monopoly and talking, so despite the fact I was seated in front of my TV on my couch, I only half got to actually experience the episode, which seemed pretty good, but that may be an impression picked up from the New York Times today, more than from the actual show, which I already only vaguely recall.

Big Red and Leesha are trying to buy an apartment on the water at the far east end of 52nd. Let's just say he's putting $260k down, and that his mortgage amount is $840k, and that he made a point of having the paperwork which showed this on top of the pictures of the apartment which he brought along to show us. Looks pretty spectacular, with two bedrooms, full dining room, big living room, and two baths--1400 square feet of exclusive condo. As Big Red said "Well, we're in a certain bracket, so we might as well live like it." They've been accepted financially--now they have to face The Board. K'wali, who was over last night with Klezma, had a fit because he's got a bug in his bonnet about moving to NYC and the cost of living is scaring him.

Big Red has a tendency to repeat jokes on TV shows, mimicking the voices, immediately after he hears them. This is why I missed much of last night's episode--because I was hearing each joke twice (this performance continued through both Simpsons episodes, an episode of The Family Guy, and also King of the Hill). On top of that, K'wali was standing behind me (he was playing Monopoly in the other room, but between turns would run in to watch the show) and making comments on the origin of each pop culture reference as they occurred. As a result, 75% of the show was drowned out by inane chatter.

There's nothing worse than sitting in your own living room while someone else has the remote control, and that someone else doesn't live there. And I like Big Red, and K'wali, and Klezma, and Eartha, and It's Australian for Beer!, but last night I was tired and grumpy, and after they left at midnight I was even more tired and grumpy.

The 21st Century

I got my first cell phone today--Cha and her parents were trying to find a way to get rid of their landline and make calling each other cheaper, and somehow I got roped into their Nextel dealie. I'd only had it for 20 minutes before it rang and annoyed me, so I switched it off and put it away. I suppose I'll be textmessaging like a mofo any day now.


Sometimes dreams bleed over into whatever this place is; I've written about that before. This morning Cha was unusually clingy--every time I tried to move she followed me, had to sit next to me, sit on me, follow me and hang onto my arm. When I was brushing my teeth with her head on my shoulder after having drunk coffee that way I started to get perturbed and frankly claustrophobic and asked her what the fuck was going on because it was getting a bit annoying.

"I dreamt you left me."

Ugh! "Well hanging all over me is not the best way to prevent that from happening," I teased.

Apparently in her dream she was unfaithful and I got angry and left. I wanted to hear salacious details but got none--she wouldn't cop to what she'd done and with whom, and wouldn't even tell me how well-hung they were.

I love fuck-dreams, especially crazy ones where I sleep with co-workers and then forget the dream until I'm talking to that person at work and I feel all weird and shy suddenly.


So old Hunter S. Thompson has taken the Hemingway cure. Poor bastard couldn't bear up under any more W., I'm sure--last time I saw him on TV was Charlie Rose maybe a year ago and he was as fumbly, mumbly, and rambling as ever. I've only read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, so I don't feel this as a major loss, but I enjoyed that book, so Godspeed Hunter.

I watched TV today briefly before work and between MSNBC, FOX, and our local CBS affiliate I saw no less than 6 different talking heads tell me how "liberal" the media are or how "liberal" professors are or how "liberal" historians are or how "liberal" Hollywood is. I'm sick of being told how "liberal" everybody is by the "liberal" media. PBS is censoring cartoons and can't show Frontline episodes where soldiers who face death daily use naughty language--because they're so "liberal." They've got Now! after all--that proves it! Never mind Wall Street Week, Paul Gigot, Tucker Carlson and all those other rabid lefties polluting the public airwaves with their government-subsidized Marxist agendas.

Much of this liberal/conservative stuff is bullshit. Ask 90% of Americans to explain what conservatism or liberalism actually mean and you'll get embarrassingly foolish answers. Typically in my experience people have aligned themselves with a personality they like--Limbaugh, Moore, Coulter, Franken--adopted that person's views as their own, and accepted them uncritically as gospel.

Yes, I'm left on most issues--but there are conservatives I admire, and on certain issues I lean right/libertarian more than I lean left. What I'm losing patience with are the labels--George W. Bush is not a traditional conservative by any stretch of the imagination, any more than Bill Clinton was a liberal; he's increased the size of the federal government dramatically, he's lavished pork on the red states at a rate that would make FDR ashamed, he's blown the budget all out of whack, and he's got several foreign policy interventions/nation-building exercises going at once. Without the tax cuts and the continuous mention of God's Will and the environmental stuff he's hard to portray as William F. Buckley's wet dream.

Can we stop using these terms so loosely? Can we take the focus of our partisan ire off of ideological alignment and put it back where it belongs--onto characteristics like accountability, competence, and honesty? Argh.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Le Weekend

Somehow it's gone again? This one was particularly quick. A sickening sinking not unlike the feeling in my belly at the ascending arc of a roller-coaster's first drop when I awoke today reminded me it was time to return to Work. And here I am. It's hot in here, and way too bright, and too busy. Cha is on the third of a four-day weekend and keeps rubbing it in--Friday she had a snow day that technically was an ice day, and Monday her school is closed for President's Day, a holiday we don't have in common.

I'm jealous, terribly jealous. And aggravated because she just called and announced she's having people over tonight and really I'm not in the mood for forced socialization. What horrors shall I endure this evening? Cranium? Pictionary? Monopoly? Balderdash?

Friday the plan was to eat at the Khumari Nepalese buffet and then to catch the 2:15 showing of Hotel Rwanda at The Charles. Didn't happen, or at least not the second part. Instead we called Julio and asked if he would accompany us to lunch, and because he acquiesced we had to get him and take him home and this caused us to miss the flick, but no big deal, because lunch was grand and we got to see his nearly-finished kitchen and his nearly-finished paintings

[I've got to do some thinking about the latest, which is a tall narrow canvas not dissimilar to an older one with which I'm familiar; in the newest we have a rocky outcropping and some either dead or dormant brush or trees or branches. In the lower left of the canvas is a beautiful yet melancholic redhead gazing poignantly out over the left shoulder of the viewer, her swollen baby-filled belly beautiful and smooth, exposed by a hiked shirt, a saucy bit o' red thong visible above her jeans at the hip. To the right is a very large black man, completely naked and viewed 3/4 from behind, his magnificent ripped glutes the center of attention. He's muscular and poised and on stilts, his head is turned away to the right so we see the back of his head. He is looking in precisely the opposite direction from the young woman, but is on a higher plane than she, her head coming perhaps to the level of his mighty thighs. Significantly, the black man is a satyr, with goat legs from the calves down. We see him almost in entirety, she is visible from the hips up. The mood of the painting is dark, somber, and foreboding, despite the expectancy.]

and within a year or so it's quite possible he and Yo! Adrienne will be off to Qatar to serve at the Shiek's pleasure.

Saturday was Lazyday and culminated in Cha heading down to Mick O'Shea's with a motley assortment of old friends from Way Back (Duck, Shan, J. Gilooley Gooey, Misty--and Big Red and Leesha as well) while I was obliged to hit Yahtzee's semi-annual Poker Night. I won many big pots, and actually won more than I did because one contestant was down to his last chips and instead of broadcasting my straight I allowed him to take the winnings with his three-of-a-kind because he would have left if he'd been cleaned out; I still came out more than $5 ahead after five hours of poker, so there.

And that's that.

Zizek on EWS

Kindly forwarded by the Url of Pembroke:


Curiously, I'd never heard of Ms. Doniger until I saw an article in the NYTimes about her involvement in a mini-controversy; some folks are apparently upset that a white woman is such an expert in Sanskrit religious texts and their interpretation. Immediately I bought a couple of her titles, and I've flown through half of The Implied Spider in two hours. Exquisitely written, witty, erudite, and unafraid to mix pop-culture references into discussions of the Bagavata Purana. She tackles big questions here: how to define myth, how to study myth, how to compare mythologies, and her examples are challenging and very enlightening.

We are always in danger of drawing our own eye, for we depict our own vision of the world when we think we are depicting the world; often when we think we are studying an other we are really studying ourselves through the narrative of the other.

--Wendy Doniger, The Implied Spider, p. 11


Part documentary, part re-enactment, and entirely excrutiating. I really enjoyed this--I'd seen those involved in the story on Charlie Rose months back, and at last it wormed its way to the top of the ol' Netflix queue. Good extras on the disc as well.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Decisions, decisions....

Sometimes I can stand in front of my bookcases for hours trying to pick a book to read. I did so the other evening and finally hit upon

and thought "I ain't read me no Twain in nigh on 20 years," and I took it down and commenced on the spot. In particular I'm reading Tom Sawyer, which, as soon as I started it, took me back to 8th grade English and Mrs. Cherundalo. I remember reading Twain's short fiction my senior year as an undergrad, and what an impression "The Mysterious Stranger" had; so dark, so sardonic, so unlike the Twain of "The Notorious Jumping Frog," etc.

Tom Sawyer breezes along; I know what happens, but still I'm compelled to keep going--this time the sentences, the wit, and the charm pull me along more than the narrative itself. I've been thinking lately that I should re-visit the early Yank giants; I'd like to hit Melville, Howells, Norris, and Wharton, filling in the gaps in my repertoire.

Too much to read. My biggest fear is to not read something I should have before I die.


I can't not enjoy a film that begins with a group of adorable dogs running around a crumbling French village, spends two hours doing what Benny Hill could have done in 1 minute of sped-up footage at the end of his show, and then closes with a group of adorable dogs running around a French village.

And yes, there is of course more to Mon Oncle than that. Some folks aren't cut out for the modern world of gadgets and gizmos, and M. Hulot is of this quaint and puzzled breed. I found his refusal to mature into the 20th century mold quite refreshing, and look forward to seeing

Vlad the Impaler, our new Chief of Intelligence

Over at Kos is a nice rundown of the sordid activities Mr. Negroponte either ignored or facilitated or planned as Ambassador to Honduras.

Put that in your Creationist Pipe and smoke it


Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Word Collage

If the Iranians produce more gaseous uraniumin in its concentration of images and intensity of connections these influences would have made him perhaps a more influential euphemism for a Taiwan accent. Well, Paquita marries Justo Rufino, a zealous liberal politician who becomes a tyrannical nymphomaniac. Her squeamishness, however, is soon accounted for. Originating as Scottish Presbyterians, planted in a seventeenth-century fantasy world of Etruscans and Romans fighting it out on the grounds of his family farm, the vengeful henchmen of the Napolean of crime made England too hot even for the enormously powerful accelerators that are now exploring the fundamental forces of nature in Ground Zero.

"Wherever we carry it," George W. Bush told the graduating cadets at West Point in June, 2002, "the sixty-three-year-old Childs is an opaque, paradoxical figure, and a clear mutual admiration of experimenter and theorist was shown three years later when Einstein, appearing in full Klingon garb to explain that Leo X, the first Medici Pope, lived there while he was still tied down." But for Lawrence disillusionment has become the chief purpose and glory of a sexual joke. There, describing Catherine and Potemkin's partnership, she wrote that he deserved a full-scale "mysterious muchacho." In 1994 a guideline attributed to then president Jiang Zemin said "handle political questions through a kind of basic artistic...desire." Though Big Mat is made uneasy by the fact that some black workers are extreme examples of the bad relations between rulers and ruled that are reflected in urban Iranians' growing skepticism about politics.

[paragraph 1 made by taking random bits from each article going backwards through The New York Review of Books, Volume LII, Number 3, and then going forward in paragraph 2].


I'm very, very alarmed over the assasination of Rafik Hariri, primarily because of the impetus it gives US hawks eager to expand the "War on Terror." Of course I had to watch Fox this afternoon just to hear what they were saying, and sure enough there was a blowhard general being interviewed who said we should send "a message" to both Iran and Syria right now by launching airstrikes, including bombers and Tomahawk cruise missiles, and there was much sneering over the Iranian/Syrian "accord" today. David Asman--as usual "fair and balanced," was in accord that an aerial assault would "get their attention."

Can we clean up one mess before starting another?

Funny, with the anti-Syrian rhetoric overheating, I seem unable to find many mainstream media mentions of the fact that the US has been shipping prisoners to Syria where they can be tortured "legally." I seem to recall Attorney General Alberto Gonzales defending this policy at his confirmation hearings as well.

And yet we have to overthrow the Syrian regime because they torture and support terror? It seems like we've got some 'splainin' to do ourselves.

Five or ten years from now we'll find out who actually blew up Harari, much as we found out later the Vincennes story; was it the new Pentagon covert ops team? Was it bin Laden trying to provoke us into widening the war? Was it a kabal of Isreali extremists? Who the fuck knows? The CIA has been involved in car bomb assassinations before--most notably in Beirut when they hoped to whack Fadlallah but missed. The Syrians, widely blamed for the incident, almost certainly have the least to gain from it, but they may have done it anyway.


So I've been here at the Liberry for about seven months now and tonight was the first time I've ever had a line five people deep at the desk. My student tonight is brand new and can't really help anyone, and a couple faculty members started getting very impatient and huffy with her--@ssholes! She's a Korean exchange student and a trainee and you have to give her shit!? Fuck off!

At the back of the line was King Gimp, Towson University's most famous alum, and of course by the time I finally got to him, out of the list of shit he needs most of the articles had been ripped out of the journals or the issues are at the bindery or whatnot. Good thing he's a laid-back guy.

Doc's Office

Today was my annual physical exam at the GP's. I gave Doc Hartig a hard time because I'm sick of the same lame decor--the cute store-bought Norman Rockwell prints of frightened kids holding stuffed animals up for examination to an indulgent country quack, the same Kathy cartoons taped to the walls--and thought he should ask one of those cable design shows in to re-do his office. He replied that he could always give me my first digital rectal exam before I turned 40 if I became a less pleasant patient to deal with, and suddenly the decor was not so bad at all.

I gained 10 pounds this year, but all of it in the arms and shoulders, so I'm not complaining. The Doc asked me if I was in Jose Canseco's book, hardee-har har. Then he cupped my bits and measured my moles and had some new teenager give me a 3rd-world travel shot. Then she took my blood and gave me an EKG before the Doc came back and hit my knees with the little mallet, and nothing happened with the left leg and he got very concerned and hit it five times and still nothing and then he said "Oh, I'm hitting it in the wrong spot" and he hit it again and there was a solid involuntary twinge.

35 and not yet falling apart.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Towson Sux

Conniption just dropped in and told me that today Double Engine was driving past our house and there were tons of cop cars on York Road and all the cops were out, guns drawn, taking aim at some shirtless guy in a tree in front of our house.

We live in a perpetual COPs episode. Our neighbors across the alley were held up in front of the Towson Courthouse and mugged.

Always good to shoot the shit with Conniption--we discussed beer, which reminded me I rarely drink beer anymore, the primary reason being my beer-drinking pals are all mommies and daddies now.

More Dreams

The apocalyptic and transformational dreams I'm having the past couple weeks are completely out of control.

Last night I dreamed I was at a live performance of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. I angered the cast with several shouted Oscar Wilde witticisms that were a big hit with the crowd. At the end of the show, as the music faded, I yelled "It's not as good as the original!" and was carried triumphantly out of the theater and into the lobby, where photographers took pictures of me posing with the lead actor. There was some sort of tumult outside across the street, and I could see three men in what appeared to be a melee. "We should perhaps help them," I said to the actor, and then I saw a large buck struggling to regain its footing on the cobblestone streets. "Oh, shit," I said. "Those things can really hurt someone if they're spooked!" Sure enough, the deer got up and charged the men again, and there was a bloody mess. All of the men were obviously dead, one had been impaled by antlers and thrown high enough into the air to get caught up inside the works of an open garage door.

[At this point I woke up in fright, resolved to remember this dream, then went back to sleep because I knew there was more to come]

There's a long sequence in a haunted house of some sort, or a newly discovered haunted area of our house, but I can't remember details. Then I was preparing to go to work and I stopped to check on the dove. He was friendlier than usual, and upon closer examination I discovered he'd either been turned partially into a macaw, or he was a macaw someone had attempted to disguise as a dove, but his beak and the green and red feathers were obviously out of place.

[I woke up again at this point, and can remember no further details, though the dream definitely continued]

I went to bed unaccountably early last night--11pm. Because I typically don't work until 1pm, I stay up until 3am, but last night I was out at 11pm and up at 10:30. An un-heard of amount of sleep! I did wake up several times because of the dreams, but always went immediately back into a deep coma. I was out so long my back hurt when I finally got up.

This put me in a wonderfully surreal state of mind, and there was much wackiness at work today with Eskimo and Cathay Cone first commiserating and then arguing and then commiserating again before each uttered profane verbal eviscerations of the bosses. Then, in Francis' class, we watched of all things

which I'd never seen, and which I thorougly enjoyed, and in which are several images from my dreams last night.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Happy V's Day

How Romantic it is to spend Valentine's Day here at the info desk with Candi. She's here until midnite--at least I can go home at 10 and get some huggin'.

I'd seen a few days back an offer on Amazon by a florist I'd used before: "We'll send a bouquet to your sweetheart on February 14th for 50% off if you order it NOW." I thought, well, that's a fucking great deal, so I ordered it NOW (which is actually THEN now) and of course they sent it to her work last Thursday, but she was pleased nonetheless, and despite the fact it had no CARD nor any indication who the fuck it was from, she knew I'd bought them. The flowers themselves are very beautiful and we actually spread them amongst three vases and they're perking up the dining and living rooms with a splash of red and blue.

This is the 15th Valentine's Day Cha and I have celebrated as a couple. I can't quite get my head around that. 16 Valentine's Days ago she gave me a flower as a gift and I thought she was so sweet, and too young (2.5 years difference matters to teenagers--unless of course there's a blonde middle school teacher involved). I never believed I'd get Cha to date me, let alone marry me.

But back to Candi--some loser guy just came up and asked if she had a Valentine's (usually Kuni gets this), Candi said "No, will you be my Valentine?", and he said "Come out with me and my frat to Casa Mia's on Wednesday." Charming approach, that. I think she'd have gone out with him were it not for the "frat" thing, which garnered a polite refusal.


A surprisingly sophisticated and creepy analysis of the life and ministry of Alice Zeoli, the first western woman recognized as a Tibetan lama reincarnate, and the Buddhist center she started in rural Maryland. The book begins as a feel-good tome about Tibetan Buddhism in the US, but by the midpoint of the story something feels wrong, and by the end we're fully engaged in investigative journalism leading to metaphysical questions about cults and cult leaders. Martha Sherrill, a Washington Post reporter by trade, appears to have changed radically her opinion of Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo as the book progressed, and the gradual shift in tone from enthusiastic interest to a more detached skepticism is interesting in itself. Fortunately no one drinks spiked Kool-Aid!

This book, combined with Eliot Weinberger's slam of the Naropa Institute, which I believe was in:

makes me want to re-assess my beliefs about what I'd come to regard as a relatively harmless religion.

Too Rich

I've been avoiding politics and national security and foreign policy for months now on this 'blog, but the Jeff Gannon stuff is simply too much fun to ignore. Some guy who specializes in macho gay porn/escort businesses ends up hired to lob softball questions at Bush as a member of the White House Press Corps, and gets credentialed because he works for a news agency owned and funded by Texas Republicans?

Oh, Christ--this Administration's shenanigans actually are worse than Watergate. I don't care about the gay porn or prostitution (in fact those are the coolest aspects of this entire sordid tale); what's at issue here is the blatant hypocrisy of these right-wing religious conservatives, who, while claiming that a pre-election furor over potential gay civil rights got them their 'mandate,' are simultaneously working under the table with Mr. "Gannon" of all people. Curiouser and curiouser.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Guilty TV

I often wonder about TV surfing habits, what motivates my choices, and what people would think if they knew how bad my taste can be. Here are my Top Ten Guilty TV Pleasures--you know, shows I don't make a point of watching, but if they're on and I'm surfing for something I'll stop.

10) Re-runs of sitcoms I never watched initially, like The Nanny or The Fresh Prince: Typically I won't watch an entire episode of these shows, but I'll linger briefly over Fran Drescher's short skirts. Also, I watched a good 10 minutes of The Fresh Prince last night--an awesome episode where an over-taxed Will buys speed and Carlton takes some by mistake and ODs!

9) World's Most Dangerous Police Chases One of those insipid, mindless shows I just can't help watching. People doing stupid shit and wrecking stuff--vastly entertaining. Also--blooper shows with funny home videos or weather disasters (Real TV or Max eXtreme). Cha gets furious when I watch this.

8) Elimidate A terrible show, but I'm interested in the contestants because I have a hard time accepting that such people actually exist. Cha hates when I watch this.

7) I Love the '70s/'80s/'90s These VH-1 forums for D-level "celebrities" and washed-ups are great time-suckers. Listening to Carmen Electra, Dave Navarro, Carrot Top and WB actors opine about the importance of Max Headroom? Precious.

6) Blind Date A more sophisticated, ironic and cynical city cousin to country cousin ElimiDate. I find the little animations and text-on-screen messages mysteriously appealing. Cha can't stand this.

5) Ellen Like The View meets Conan O'Brian. Eating an orange and drinking coffee and just finished reading the paper, too lazy to read something before work at 1pm? Ellen.

4) Soul Train This show is never on anymore but when I stumble upon it I'll watch for a while. The reasons are obvious--pure T&A. I used to watch it every afternoon after school when I was a tiny tot. My taste in women was powerfully impacted, though the really lame lip-synching grates my nerves.

3) Any Discovery Channel/History Channel special about Egypt, the Mayans, the Aztecs, archeological mysteries, archeoastronomy, early Church history, war (in particular WW2), the Romans, the Greeks, etc. This stuff drives Cha crazy, particularly when I say I met the person talking--guys like John Dominic Crossan or John Krakauer.

2) Antiques Roadshow Some episodes I've seen three times. Why the fuck do I watch it? I'm fascinated by this bizarre subculture, by people who know exotic details about porcelain duck figurines and 18th century American writing desks. Cha loves this, and often weeps in joy when people get good news about the value of their flea market beer steins. (an aside--Cha also weeps at The Price is Right, Sylvan Learning commercials, and The Simpsons episode where Homer arranges Maggie's pictures to cover certain letters on his wall at work, leaving the message "Do it for her" exposed).

Tied with Pimp My Ride, which is a good-natured show and again about something I'm wholly uninterested in--cars, but the premise is appealing.

My current number one time-wasting show?

1) Most Extreme Elimination Challenge A Japanese gameshow with ridiculous and dangerous contests over-dubbed in English by randy Americans? Can't beat it! Cha used to get positively apoplectic when I watched this, now she tolerates it because it made her laugh a couple times (I was watching it once and they overdub insipid and bawdy comments when the contestants are about to do their thing, and they had one woman say "I hate it when the toilet doesn't flush all the way" with a triumphant fist-pump and Cha found that so amusing she laughed for an hour). I can't really watch the entire episodes, but I like to watch Kenny Blankenship's Most Painful Eliminations of the Day--again, people doing stupid stuff and getting hurt is funny.

Weekend Netflix

Occasionally I wonder if I really believe that film is an artform--most particularly when I stumble upon something like Dracula 2000--but Truffaut re-assures me. This film covers enormous narrative territory and features a rather complex trio of central characters, but Truffaut is unafraid of getting off-track; I found the moments when story and chronology and dialogue cease--the glimpses of Jules, Jim, Catharine and Sabine at play--some of the most satisfying aesthetic experiences I've had. This is not to say the film is uncontrolled or loosely structured by any means, but at times (as in Fellini's films) we are treated to lavish moments of quiet as Jules and Jim and Catharine hike up a mountain, or the three of them play a spontaneous game called "Village Idiot" with la petite Sabine, or as they take lingering bicycle voyages, and these scenes awoke in me profound resonances--shared experiences I had in common with the characters--that said so much more than any amount of dialogue or voice-over. I participated in Jules et Jim rather than merely watching it.

Another film not afraid of quiet and open space! Wim Wembers' uncluttered and mysterious flick got under my skin; Dean Stockwell and Harry Dean Stanton are marvelous, Nastassha Kinski is sublime. Fave line of dialogue:

Stockwell: I thought you was scared of heights?

Stanton: Not scared of heights, just scared of fallin'.

This cute post-post-modern retooling of George A. Romero's zombie mythos works well; we're back to zombies as implied social critique, and to the shambling, dim-witted monsters after the ferocious quick cannibals of 28 Days Later, etc. The film manages to spoof other zombie movies but is more than a satire; in Romero's world the zombies themselves lampooned the herd mentality of modern capitalist societies, here the victims/heroes are cynically deconstructed as well and reflect back on the audience some uncomfortable truths. Not wholly successful, but definitely worth a peek.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Too Cool

My baby sis--the high-powered exec--is trying to "trickle down" some work my way. She's dangling a freelance editing job and I agreed to do a brief proposal and see if I get it.

Why not? Now that the shift project is done and I'm not teaching I need something to work on here at the Info desk when it's dead.

Also, her daughter (my fab niece) is so smart that at age 10 she's going off to summer brain camps at Penn State and Gettysburg College this summer. I did such a thing one time, in 7th grade, when I was chosen to attend a Science and Engineering camp for brainiacs--ok, NERDS--at Virginia Tech.

All I did was learn how to smoke pot and build a bridge out of toothpicks that was crushed by a machine. Mine withstood 87 pounds, which was second to Thony Pham's 103 pounds.

Hopefully my niece uses her brain.

Dear Library Big Wigs

Libraries should be dark and dingy, not gleaming and bright as a dentist's office for children. Stop fucking painting everything white to the nth power! Stop ramping up the flourescent fixtures! Sure, I'm so pale I turn pink walking past the microwave, but I shouldn't have to put on SPF 45 to sit at the Info Desk. I'm wearing sunglasses here. Christ!

Bring back the old dank ceiling tiles! Please re-paint the lobby a dank beige bordering on taupe.

St. Anselm re-imagined

From the Url of Pembroke: click!


Weird one last night. Cha and I were on another trip like the one we took to Honduras (visiting relief sites), but this time we were in Africa. Somehow we were separated and I was on a yellow school bus sitting with her best friend who is gay and who now lives in the Pacific Northwest. I asked him how his boyfriend was doing and he said they'd broken up, to which I replied "I thought you'd said he was The One!?" "Well, he was," came the reply, "until I discovered he'd been in jail."

Then the conversation shifted and he told me "Cha wants a baby." My reply was "Well, she knows how I feel, and I thought she felt the same way--we have an agreement, a condition to our engagement..."

"That you'd divorce if she changed her mind and wanted children so that she could re-marry."


"That's not an agreement, that's bullying."

Then I was climbing a long sandy path to the place we were supposed to stay. Unaccountably, it was an elegant but run-down old brownstone in a shanty town. I was told to find an empty room and just take it, but all the rooms had occupants, all the furniture was occupied except for a couch in the entranceway. Then I woke up and felt ill.

Ah, the not-so-subtle "Hills Like White Elephants" symbolism here!

I highly recommend you read the McDonald's reminiscence posted here--more proof that Faulty Landscape should have his own 'blog.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The tech problems here at the Liberry are driving me nuts. We finally got toner for the two new microfilm viewer printers and now one of them keeps failing to print. A tiny digital display at the lower right of the viewscreen flashes obscure error messages like "P0," "4H," "E3." No one knows what these mean, but I'm assuming the machine is playing Battleship.

Meanwhile some moron adjunct faculty shits have assigned their entire classes hours worth of microfilm homework, and we've got hoards of students waiting to use the last functional machine. Ridiculous. One of these faculty members thought we had "dozens" of viewers with printers. Uh, no, asswipe. We have 3, and 2 don't work.

On top of the tech troubles it's been a zany week for accounting problems, video/replacement book order problems, merchandise returns, tax charge difficulties, etc. I don't like having to work at work--if I wanted to work at work I wouldn't have taken this gig in the first place. At least there's only one more day before my weekend!

Ugh, now the print station is acting up. WTF!?

Favorite moment from the Simpsons season 5 set:

Homer: Lord, I know I shouldn't eat Thee, but...mmmmm, sacrilicious.

The Indie 500

Somehow Blog-Sothoth was included in a list of progressive-minded blogs called The Indie 500; I believe it was because I signed up in opposition to Alberto Gonzalez, who of course was confirmed anyway.

At any rate the list has generated a traffic boost here, and the funny thing is I've not been writing about politics for weeks! So, if for some reason you came here expecting the same sort of analysis you see from Kos or Atrios, I'm sorry--I've relegated myself to "This is what I did today" and film/book comments for now.


Condi Rice's European "charm offensive" lacks charm, but it is offensive. I suppose demanding that the rest of the world work with us on our terms, and then telling them to fuck off when they refuse, and finally demanding their help in getting us out of our fuck-ups passes for diplomacy these days.

TGI Howard Dean! He knows how to build networks and organizations--no one can deny that. His "failed" candidacy radically changed Democratic fundraising and took the focus off fatcat donors and put it back on multiple individual contributions, thereby (gasp!) involving regular schmoes in the process again. Dean also was talking about pickup trucks and "values" problems for the Dems last year and everyone criticized him for it. Do I think he's flawless? Hell, no, but he's better than that smarmy prick on the way out, and certainly better than the more centrist, business-friendly guys and gals who challenged him.

Oops! Martin O'Malley is being groomed by the DNC for an eventual national run I'm sure--who vetted these remarks? He'll be lucky to beat Ehrlich now.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

My Dream

Last night I dreamt I found an old friend and we were catching up. "So, what are you doing, still an accountant?" I asked.

"Nope, I work in law."

"As a researcher for a firm, or doing accounting for a firm, or..."

"No, I actually got a law degree."

This guy worked with me at Hunt Valley McD's when we were young punks--Leon was one of the rich Dulaney High brats there, I was one of the middle-class Hereford rednecks--and we argued about politics all the time. I enjoyed tying him in knots and he'd always get angry when he couldn't respond to a debating point and try to wrestle me, after which I'd pick him up and throw him in the trash bins at the back of the kitchen. "Some day I'll be able to debate you and win!" he'd shriek, lying there amidst the old stale buns and wilted iceburg lettuce and spent Special Sauce tubes. Strange friendship, no? But it worked for five or six years, until he went away to Penn State and became an accountant while I went away to Temple and became nothing (though we both worked at McDs off and on through school because the manager, desperate for good help, gave us 10 extra hours every three days we worked and made it worth our while). The second-to-the-last time I talked to him he was at Anderson Cooper or whatever that big Enron-shenanigans firm was that went bust, but then Cha ran into him by chance in DC and we got his phone number and I called him and we talked but then the phone died and took his number with it and I often wonder about him. On the phone he told me he'd been in Australia for Anderson for three years, and I was about to ask him about the time I saw him on CSPAN in the crowd at some Heritage Foundation event when the line went dead.

But any rate, back to the dream. Leon told me he worked as a corporate lawyer, and then suddenly I was in a hotel room and was discussing the de-evolution of American conservatism with Senator John McCain and Senator Chuck Hagel, and we were having a grand old time when I woke up.

I have no interpretation for this, but suspect its genesis lies in Julio telling me he saw former McD's/Borders employee and former Cha roommate KD working as a cashier at Target, and Yo! Adrienne was embarrassed by Julio's radical attempts to not be seen by said cashier.


Ok, I know today has astrological significance going far back into the murky mysts of time, and that this significance still garners modern cultural expression (Chinese New Year's Eve, for one--Mardi Gras for another, fasnach day). But WTF!? Today has been the single most demanding day I've worked here--we're swamped with students desperate for help, and all of the machines are going haywire. Two of the three microfilm readers are out of toner, and the printer on the other keeps printing out the previous print job over and over again regardless of what we do. Two microfilm reels actually broke this afternoon for no apparent reason, things are falling over of their own accord, CopyCo cards are losing balances unaccountably, the PCs keep crashing, and I've had enough.

Plus, I'm here until midnight because my grad assistant is from Taiwan and I kindly gave her the night off for a New Year's party (she wants to celebrate the Year of the Cock--don't we all?), and I came in before 2pm because we had a meeting and I have class T/Th, but because The Man has the flu I had to skip class and take his desk time, so I've got myself a ten-hour day.

Thankfully, The Boss is letting me comp time my shift tomorrow.

Cha is out with It's Australian for Beer! and The Seoul Shiksa to celebrate Mardi Gras this evening--which reminds me, those two fab femmes gave Cha a dove for her birthday last month to replace the dearly departed and nearly eaten Franklin. The new dove is extremely nervous and averse to humans, but I've trained him to hop on my finger now and he's begun to coo a bit. When I was conspiring with Seoul Shiksa before Cha's birthday we'd agreed that they would get her either a parakeet or a canary or a GC toward a more expensive bird we'd pick ourselves, but they got her a dove anyway. C'est la vie!

Wow, Valentine's Day is coming. Jeebus.

Monday, February 07, 2005


I can't find

on DVD, and that's a damn shame. I did, by chance, find it on TCM early this morning--I watched until 3:45 am because it's a fantastically beautiful film with numerous breathtaking sequences and the exquisite Claudette Colbert nude in a milk bath. Sure, there are problems with the history in DeMille's epic, but the lovingly filmed Christian martyrdoms alone make this worth owning. I was blown away by the camera work repeatedly (I'd seen it before at the urging of The Dazzling Urbanite), and most particularly during the opening of the games--the camera moves back as columns of advancing gladiators enter the arena, then follows them as they march left and parade in front of Nero (Charles Laughton, never better) amongst dancing girls in sheer cotton flinging flower petals, then the shot moves forward to the slothful, disaffected emperor bored on his chaise lounge, hundreds of rabid spectator extras behind him. The crowd, the music, the cacophony! Very stirring, very imaginative--and then we get Amazons fighting pygmies. At times the direction is a bit too sympathetic and pedantic in its treatment of the Christians, but that's I'm sure to assuage the censors who allowed unbelievably naughty behavior in this magnificent, violent, sexy romp. This film desperately needs the Criterion Collection!

I also saw about 45 minutes of

which was fantastic as well--and notable for this utterance of Lord Henry: "Don't you find that one of the charms of marriage is that it makes deception a necessity for both parties?" Fans of

will recall the magnificently oily Hungarian Sandor Szavost using precisely this uncredited line in an attempt to bed Alice Harford despite her connubial protestations.

God, I need to take a break from films and do some reading, but I can't concentrate on anything since finishing Garcia Marquez.

Public vs Private sector

So this Liberry thang is my first full-time public sector gig, and a lot of the stuff I always heard about working for The State has turned out to be true:

  • There is an employee here who refuses to do her jobs, and instead of being reprimanded or fired, her job description gets re-written to remove responsibilities. I'm not talking about someone who is physically incapable of performing job functions, I'm talking about someone who is just plain lazy, inconsiderate, and largely worthless. Not stupid, not incompetent, not unqualified, but simply confounded obstinate, mean-spirited, selfish, and completely deluded about her importance.
  • Often the worst slackers and worst employees get treated with kid gloves because supervisors are either unwilling or unable to cope with them.
  • People who show initiative get dumped on and dumped on and dumped on. There are a couple of folks working here with very challenging workloads who keep taking on tasks ignored by others who have less to do but who complain a lot.

All of these things happen in the private sector too, but it's much more likely that someone will be fired (or at least reprimanded) for failing to perform duties as outlined in a job description at a corporate job.

Our latest re-organization of Tech Services responsibilities, announced by an email memo that I received on Sunday, is absolutely ridiculous. First I burst out laughing, then I was pissed (even though it doesn't affect me), then I was incredulous, and then I talked today to the poor soul who was nearly overburdened before, and now is doing 30% more work in order to ease the workload of the laziest person on staff, the person least likely to help out, the person most likely to while away her time bitching about how much she has to do while not doing anything, the person who shows up an hour late, leaves on time, and takes a lunch break anyhow regularly. But I can't really judge her--hell, she's succeeding at getting paid to do next to nothing, and her truly awful behavior gets rewarded again and again with less responsibility for the same pay. She's obviously a genius at gaming the system, so in a perverse way I kind of admire her. And there could be things in her file I don't know about which prevent her from getting canned: I had two salaried employees at Borders I was not allowed to fire because they'd threatened to sue the company, and lawyers at the home office decided it was better to keep writing documentation and doing "coaching and counseling" and paying the salaries of these morons than to pay a lawyer to defend the company's decision to fire them. Perhaps that's what's going on here--there could be medical issues or mental health issues or maybe blackmailing of supervisors, what the fuck do I know? Only this: I just spent a month doing a brutal and tedious project that with periodic performance of rudimentary section maintenance by said slacker would have been wholly unnecessary. And yet she's being rewarded again by having her tasks taken away and granted to others.

Don't get me wrong--there are times here where I spend great stretches of time doing ZILCH, but I always do my assigned tasks and I offer to help out when there's something above-and-beyond that needs done. I think most people here fall into that boat. Most people here. I predict I'll get fired for blogging about my job before the one glaring exception even gets a talking-to.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Who'd a thunk it?

Saw an ad for this in the NYRoB and almost choked on my Hall's mentholyptus. Peter Straub selects the stories.

From Publisher's Weekly starred review: ...including a recently discovered missing passage from The Shadow Out of Time...


Ok, Jean-Paul Sartre takes an eighth of psilocybin mushrooms (amanita muscaria, perchance), reads Our Town, and decides to re-write it tripping his Existentialist balls off. This movie rocks! I slept through about 20 minutes of it--not because I was bored, but because I was shagged out--but somehow in my sleep I still paid attention to what was going on, and when I woke up in Chapter 3 I had no trouble following the movie, which exists in a dream-like state anyhow. Highly recommended.

Not so fast

So just when Cha and I were resigning ourselves to a contented old age alone together--it had been weeks, literally, since we'd done any socializing with another couple, or gone to a movie or an event with another couple--we got a couple calls.

Saturday Julio rang and left a message asking about dinner at Thai One On--Yo! Adrienne yelling in the background that she knew we were screening, and to pick up goddamnit. We weren't screening, we were, well, let's just say unable to pick up the phone, or at least uninterested at the time. And yes, Julio and Leesha have some sort of mysterious radar, and often call at just the wrong time. But I called him back a bit later and we met them for dinner and had a very pleasant time, and they came back to our place and we shot the shit for a while and Cha showed Yo! Adrienne our wedding pictures because she wanted to see old pix of Julio, and she kept hinting about marriage and what I would do for revenge at Julio's bachelor party, and I thought all that was strange given that they aren't engaged, though they have, in fact, reached a remarkable durability. And big news: she intends, given a few adjustments (such as the satisfactory resolution of a debate over a doggie weight limit allowing them to take Smeller to Qatar), to take the gig as conservator for the Sheik of Qatar's collection of dagguerotypes and other early photographic images for somewhere in the neighborhood of 200k per annum with housing and a car thrown in for good measure. Fucking A! I think that's great--they'll be able to pay off their house if they do it for a year or two, and we'll be able to visit them there, and perhaps do a short stopover in Dubai as well. The Sheik is building a 500 million dollar museum/research institute for his collection--he could be hoarding it all in his basement but he wants to attract scholars and experts to Qatar for this project, and he wants Yo! Adrienne. Julio will be free to paint, which he's always free to do anyway, but in a new setting. Yes, it's sad to have good friends on the other side of the globe, but it's also cool.

Tonight we're off to Sluggo's--he rang the other day and asked if we wanted to journey up to New Freedom for the Super Bowl, and I thought "no, not for the Super Bowl, but to hang out with the old crew would be great," so we're going despite the fact I'm not off at the Liberry until halftime.

Friday I was at Yahtzee's during the afternoon--his kitty's got some health issues (she is 16, after all), and he needed moral support and a wine-swilling companion for a couple hours. The lucky bastard got himself an Ionic Breeze from his folks--it works wonders for his allergies and sinus problems, apparently, so I fear I'll be dropping $400+ on one for Cha.

More later--time for me to go try and finish off another chunk of the Bound Journals shift.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages

I spoke far too soon about Haxan, which proved to be a bit of a mixed bag but a superior film nonetheless. Ostensibly about Witchcraft in European history, we get a series of vignettes featuring torture by the Inquisition, Sorceresses at their dirty work, gleeful Sabbats--including a memorably beautiful sequence of a nude witch watching her colleagues take to the air on brooms and benches and goats. There is an extremely ironic wry wit through much of Haxan which manages never to be corny; many visual jokes are highly sophisticated juxtapositions that highlight a suprisingly politicized and proto-feminist viewpoint in the last third of the film [they were accused of witchcraft but of course we know today they were actually simply suffering from hysteria--poor things!]. Alas, while there are cute vignettes featuring modern girls whose hysterical behavior is compared to that of witches, there is no footage of these young woman receiving the common cure at the time.

The tone of the film dramatically jumps from rather effective and gruesome torture sequences to gleefully cheerful and blasphemous scenes of young women adoringly smooching the Dark Lord's filthy asscheeks to devestating portrayals of overbearing Inquisitors and their prey. The filmmaker keeps interrupting his narrative to provide his opinion or to make smart-ass comments. During one particularly mean-spirited montage the standard text-on-screen narrative shot comes up and it says: "One of our young actresses demanded to try the thumbscrew"[footage of an adorable young flapper being tormented by said device], then more text: "but I won't tell you what scandalous confessions I forced out of her!" Loved it!

Of course this is a Criterion Collection presentation, so everything is sharp, bright and clear, and the restored musical score is well-performed and synched in a way that adds to the humor. Check it out.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

She-eh-eh-ah-yerri Bay-ay-bee

This is the coolest weird way to die I've ever seen. For some reason it brought to mind a dinner I had with John Skipp and Craig Spector almost 15 years ago. They were at one time bestselling horror novelists in the Clive Barker vein (in more ways than one, oh don't even!) and had with them a book filled with autopsy and death scene photographs. I think they either were from York, PA, or one of them lived there--who the fuck knows anymore? But somehow I met them. At the time they'd just played murder victims in A Nightmare on Elm Street 4, and I think they were soon-to-be extras in a terrible Clive Barker film called Nightbreed which starred David Cronenberg as a maniacal killer.

At any rate, Craig Spector showed me his favorite dead guy in the book--our victim had rigged up an antiquated sewing-machine foot pedal to some sort of crank shaft which would jam objects into his rectum. He'd used one that was too big and had impaled himself. "Imagine," Spector told me, "trying to force something the size of Arnold Schwarzenegger's bicep up your ass! Of course you're going to die." There in the photo was a bearded forty-something tubbo, wearing a leather vest and cap and naught else, slumped forward over his Singer sewing table, blood everywhere, a display of enormous sphincter-shattering torpedos behind him on a sort of dumbbell rack, arranged according to thickness.

I vaguely remember their oh-so-trendy vampire novel, purchased at The Book Rack in Lutherville for .40 cents (and I felt cheated at that price):

Fuck This Movie

I thought--well, I liked the other film Weir directed with Ford starring, namely

so why not try Mosquito Coast? I'll tell you why not: the film should end promptly at 1hr 22 minutes, but goes in excess of 2 hours, and the entire time I wanted Ford's character to die horribly (he plays an Ayn Rand idealist) because he's insipid and loathsome, and that particular satisfaction is delayed far beyond tolerance. Fine performances by Helen Mirren and River Phoenix can't save this turd. Were this film a confection it would be one of those finger cookies I brought back from the Philippines: looks like a light cookie, smells like a 'nilla wafer, and tastes like open ass. Fuck this movie.

Much better, but still not so hot is another Netflix delivery:

I haven't seen the entire thing yet, but so far I'm a bit disappointed. There are a couple charming vignettes featuring old witches and claymation demons, not to mention some enchanting early nude scenes, but too much time is spent showing still images from old books with tedius and obvious text in between (a very didactic silent film, almost like an elementary school filmstrip). The upbeat classical score doesn't lend itself well to torture and sorcery. The best thing about Haxan so far is its cheeky nudge nudge, wink wink attitude (for example, the camera lovingly pauses over an etching of a beautiful young "witch" condemned to die and hog-tied nude while Schubert tinkles keys in the background). There's a cute scene where a houseservant gets a love potion to seduce her boss--a pious monk--plenty of yucks there!

More after I finish--there's also an updated re-release of the film with narration by William S. Burroughs and music by Jean Luc Ponty on the DVD; perhaps worth a gander.

Pins and Needles

Well, according to Em (her already high traffic is spiking I'm sure because she's the conduit for baby news), Eve was born last night at 11:41pm--sounds like a long day. 7.3 lbs, 19 inches, for those of you who need stats.

All the best to J357 and Flea and Eve! Everything changes now.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Don't Delay

If you haven't already, please sign Common Cause's petition asking Tom DeLay to step down as Majority Leader for ethics violations.

Once Called "The Best Butt in the Biz"

Nina Hartley refutes an anti-porn article by Professor Chyng Sun.

Conniption likes Nina's butt trick.

I'm soooooo bored

Sometimes my library gig is uncomfortably similiar to a real job. I'm looking at budgets and ordering product and keeping spreadsheets and reconciling a credit card before a budget meeting; after, I'll spend another hour or two snaking the Bound Journals again before hanging out at the info desk the rest of the night.

At least: no cubicle, no tie. AND I can listen to Slayer and the Beastie Boys and Bob Dylan and Gillian Welch while surfing the web between tasks.

Fell asleep on the couch last night after talking to BroJ for 3 hours on the phone and woke at 6am to Sponge Bob and his gay agenda on the TV. I don't remember sitting on the couch and turning on the TV last night. Climbed into bed just as Cha was getting up to go to work and slept until 11:30--I am firmly back in 2nd shift sleep mode.

Thinking about Spring Break travel possibilities--Pork Heaven wants to go to Amsterdam for four days, and Yahtzee is interested in tagging along, but I'm thinking more along the lines of the Yucatan Peninsula or Barcelona or Florence.

Of course I wouldn't go anywhere new without Cha and she has spring break a week after I do.

Has Ferocity had her baby? The staff keeps asking if I've heard anything.


I got home from work at 10:05 pm and Cha said: "I just got off the phone with BroJ. He wants you to call him as soon as you get in."

Me: Oh, God.
She: I told him you'd call as soon as you got in.

It's now 1:00 am, and I just hung up the phone, which is why I said "Oh, God." Now, don't get me wrong--I love my stepbrother, and would do anything in my power to help him, but to get the question "What should I be doing with my life?" from your 42-year old stepbrother, living in his Mom's basement with no job, at 10:15 pm on a Wednesday--that ain't right!

I drank 750ml of expensive merlot, and then two bourbons straight up, and I still had no answer for him. I was out of booze before I was out of phone time.

I wanted to say: "Look, I leave work at 10pm. Cha leaves work at 5pm. She goes to work at 8am, I go to work at 1pm. This leaves us scant opportunity on weeknights to, you know--well, actually, I guess you DON'T, given the fact that you're single and haven't been in a relationship for 10 years," but that would have been cruel and insensitive, so instead I stayed on the phone, growing more and more incoherent as the conversation continued; I had this same conversation with Pork Heaven two weeks ago--and I'm in no position to give advice, given that I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up; BTW, the quickest way to get on my bad side is to ask for advice.

And now it's time for bed.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


So, if my math is correct, Ferocity will be induced tomorrow very early in the am, and Eve's entrance shall thus be precipitated.

Hey--good luck! We can't wait.

The Aunties are restless.

Land Lines

We're considering disabling our land line and switching to all cell phones (one for her, one for me).

Disadvantages: I hate cell phones, and have no interest in carrying one. Our internet access is over the land line as well.

Advantages: I pay Verizon $50 a month for what? For a bunch of fees and taxes, that's what--not sending them money would make me happy. We NEVER use the phone except to call Bubba's or Pizza Palace, and we get our long distance and Cha's current cell through Working Assets, so I think if we got two cell phones via Working Assets that it would be cheaper than what we're paying right now to Verizon alone. I could use the extra money to buy cable TV and cable internet, thus eliminating all need for a land line in the house and seriously speeding up my PORN downloads.

I'm seriously considering this, though switching all my stuff from Earthlink to Comcast would suck a bit, it might be well worth the effort.

PC blather

You know, for a crusty old lefty, I really hate a lot of lefties--particularly those who want to censor movies, music, and books because of some perceived lack of "sensitivity." The latest target is Million Dollar Baby, made by the 21st century's cinematic answer to Kant and Schopenhauer, Clint Eastwood.

WARNING: This controversy gives away essential plot points, so don't read it if you ain't seen it

Um, if you think Million Dollar Baby is insensitive to the plight of the disabled, that's fine, and I support your right to express your POV and to criticize the film--I may disagree, and think you're misinterpreting the film, but I still say "more power to ya." When you want the film pulled or changed to suit your agenda, however, I have to say fuck you! You may as well join Reverend Dobson in condemning PBS cartoon shows for daring to suggest not everyone is married and Christian.

DIY Porn

Apparently people put thought into it.