Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Ouch. An idyllic family situation in the Soviet countryside is ruined when a former associate and current NKVD officer returns home. Funny, sad, and then monstrously bleak. Needed some Stoli to get through it.

Had I seen this 20 years ago under the influence of psilocybin I'd have thought it the best film ever made. I enjoyed the plankton villain and the angler fish. Ride the Hasselhoff!

Snow Day

So I'm on my way to work at 12:50 and I run into Aunty Spy. She's standing under a tree in the miserable heat. "I'm not surprised no one called you, as stupidly as things run around here," she said. "We closed at 12:30 because of a water main break and an AC problem. You can go back home."

Who'd a thunk it? A four-day week last week, and my 3-day week this week is suddenly a two-day week. Gotta love that. Time to catch up on some Netflix backlog and some reading.

Installed the bedroom window unit Sunday--the way it feels in here now I should probably put the downstairs unit in ASAP.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

#36 and #37

My favorite speculative fiction maintains an absolute normalcy, and focuses on everyday stuff, occasionally dropping hints that something's not quite right. Ishiguro lets us in on his grotesque secret by bits and pieces (sorry--bad pun) without resorting to the outlandish. Never Let Me Go is the sort of book I'd hoped Oryx and Crake would be. Where Atwood failed, Ishiguro succeeds by re-writing A Separate Peace and setting it in a grim future where the students *SPOILER ALERT* are clones doomed to have their organs harvested.

Another feature of the best speculative fiction is that it's never only about the future. Ishiguro's novel is certainly a dystopian vision projecting current troubling ethical issues into the next century, but it is also a subtle critique of all of us right now. The clones in his book are a bit daft, a bit vacuous, and terribly sheltered. They learn mannerisms from American TV, they concern themselves with stupid gossip and games, they base their personal worth on empty useless productions and silly adornments. Hmmmmm.

I knew Neal when he was a hipster barrista in the most-neglected Borders Cafe in the universe. Now he's cranking out graphic novels. I'm in no way an expert on the genre, but I know a bit about sci-fi and the Bermuda Triangle and time displacement. Neal's used these old tropes to set the stage for an appealing character-driven noir. This introductory volume leaves nothing resolved, but we have a taste of the odd place in which our hero finds himself. Think of the old TZ episode where the astronaut is the only guy in the world while undergoing an isolation stress test, or think of Steve King and Pete Straub's The Talisman; we've got a universe just a bit off from our own, a familiar canvas a bit warped. Neal's challenge will be to mine familiar territory in a new way. I for one look forward to his continued quarrying.

Joe Infurnari drew and inked the book, and his stuff is appealingly raw. I particularly liked the event in the Triangle--ambiguous and jarring.


It was a rough few days for our goldfish tank, to say the least. On Wednesday last week Ophelia (pictured, far left) got so sick from internal parasites that we were sure she was gone. She was upside-down at the top of the tank for a day, barely breathing, but I dosed her with vitamins and meds and nursed her back to health slowly.

On Sunday when we got back from NYC I knew something was wrong with Leviathan (pictured, far right) because his color was wrong and his eyes were bulging out. Poor little guy was upside-down by the middle of the night and was dead in the am. As I fished Leviathan out I noticed that Einstein (center) was dead also. I think these two little piggies ate the entire 4-day food tablet we'd left for the weekend in a matter of hours, gorging themselves to death. Now it might be silly to get all upset about a goldfish, but Leviathan was my favorite pet. Every day he made me laugh because he had no dorsal fin and his tiny front fins were too small for his fat body. He'd waddle around the tank eating rocks and spitting them out and it cracked me up. The other fish were always bullying him and powing him in the gills and he never cared, little Buddha that he was. Leviathan started this whole fishtank thing we've got going now. When we bought him at Fairy Tails it was because he was so damned cute. Now he's compost. RIP buddy. As for Einstein--we knew you were going to eat yourself to death some day. You went out doing what you loved most.

Now Ophelia is doing well, but she's lonely in her big tank. I'm not in the mood to buy more fish, however. At least not yet.

Le Weekend

Had a blast in the Big Apple. Big Red and Leesha were kind enough to let us crash for a couple nights in their condo at 52nd and 1st Ave. They're a block from the water, from a nifty dog run park, and from every kind of good eats you can imagine (including Tal's Bagels--City Guide Best Bagels in NYC 2005, and a cheese shop rated by Forbes as Best in the World 2003).

Cha and I walked from their place over to the Frick Friday. In three dozen visits to NY I'd never been to see their grand collection, featuring Vermeers, Rembrandts, a Van Eyck, some Turners, Whistlers, tons of Gainesborough and Reynolds, El Grecos, Titians, Holbeins, Veroneses, etc. I do wish they'd hit up their big donors for a new lighting design (Yahtzee should give them his card), because exactly ONE of their paintings was lit adequately--a nice Memling portrait with a piano sheet music lamp glaring down on it from six inches away.

After, we strolled along the Park to the Neue, another gallery I'd never seen. The woman at the desk said that the third floor was closed because of a show installation, and when we balked at the $20 fee to see a half a gallery, she slipped us our $20 back and whispered "It's a reduced entry fee today," putting herself between her supervisor and our money. Nice! Even half a Neue show was fun--they have some fine Klimts and plenty of Schieles in the permanent collection. Love those Klimt sketches entitled "Nude Reclining to the Right" and "Woman Relaxing in a Chaise Lounge." So bland considering the actual subject matter.

We spent much of Saturday eating. Big Red and Leesha had been talking up the dim sum at The Golden Unicorn in Chinatown for ages; at last we got to go. Worth the wait! That place is fucking insane, and the food is fast, cheap, and delicious. We made pigs of ourselves for a total tab of $65--that's four people. Cha and I regularly spend that on sushi for two in Towson.

Big Red showed me stills from his Roger Waters tour animations. Apparently Rog asked him to come to London to help continue editing, but Big Red said he'd had enough, and knew he'd end up stuck following Rog around Portugal and Spain during the first weeks of the tour.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Bridge of Smoke

Had not voyaged on the SS s. months, perhaps since January. This afternoon partook of a single wee toke. Immediately the world became segmented like an orange and peeled itself back to reveal numerous umbrella-like structures of green and red lights twisting off gently into a dark singularity. Said structures inverted and re-emerged then closed down on top of my head like a collapsing silk tent, as birdsong through the open den window became alarmingly voluminous, evoking at first breaking glass, then windchimes, then whale song. I noted pockets of residual tension in my neck and back and began stretching the old bones and trying to relax before settling into a good session of zazen. Now I'm at work reading and putting up with Assburger. Earlier Eskimo was on the warpath, but she left after an hour-long harangue.

Tomorrow morning Cha and I are driving up to Manhattan for a couple days. We haven't seen Leesha and Big Red's swanky new digs yet, nor have we taken advantage of their guest bedroom. Since Big Red has finished his Roger Waters tour project, I feel confortable mooching. Look forward to seeing them and Chalupa.

Don't have any big plans--perhaps the Frick, perhaps the Guggenheim, maybe the Neue. Mostly I want to walk around and eat. And drink beer.


Just before hearing the verdicts I was reading Thomas à Kempis:

Keep your eyes on yourself and avoid judging the actions of others. In judging others we accomplish nothing, are often in error, and readily fall into sin; but we always gain by self-examination and self-criticism.
Thomas, I think you are 100% correct. I plan on trying to avoid such behavior in my quest to become a better, more humble, more compassionate human being.

Like Augustine, however, I pray for the strength to be less judgmental, but not yet. This opportunity for gloating just feels too damn good. Those greedy fucks Lay and Skilling can go to Federal Prison and experience literally what they metaphorically did to their shareholders and employees.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Denny Hastert in deep shit. No wonder he objected so vociferously when the Feds raided Jefferson's offices. Normally you'd expect the Rethugs to enthuse at a Dumbocrat taking such a hit. Not when you might be next, I suppose.


I don't like Matthew Broderick, who strikes me as a smarmy punk whose 'acting' is simply being what he is. Not a huge fan of Pfeiffer either. Rutger Hauer, on the other hand, is the Real Deal, and here he rides a cool black stallion and shoots people with crossbows.

Cha insisted I watch Ladyhawke, which was the "Special Movie" they got to see at St. Philip Neri Elementary 25 years ago, and which had some powerful impact on her. It wasn't nearly as bad as I expected; yes, Broderick plays a smarmy punk again, and his accent is atrocious, and yes, Pfeiffer is barely serviceable in her role and has perky Olivia Newton John hair despite living half-time as a bird. But the story (though no Lai du Rossignol) is sad and full of chivalry, lust, and betrayal, and succeeds as a fine specimen of chick-flick guys can watch too.

Worth seeing for the Alan Parsons score, which ranks as the worst soundtrack I have ever heard. Dario Argento and Goblin were better.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Fuck the holiday season. The Most Wonderful Time of the Year is the end of Spring semester, when all the hoodlums who get bombed each night and puke in my yard and litter up the neighborhood with their Natural Light cans move the fuck out for the summer. Watching that line of cars outside the dorms today as I walked to work--seeing the bent depressed parents assisting their offspring as they moved off campus--I nearly teared up, the joy was so delicious.

I'm alone on the second floor of the Liberry tonight, except for Assburger, who's pulled every volume of every horticulture journal off the shelves, building a pyramid of them as usual. Fuck him--even the regular nitwits can't dim my spirits today.

I plan to celebrate this occasion after work this evening. Thursday and Friday I'm working 5:30-10pm, and then I'm taking a four-day weekend.


Surprise--a Dirty Louisiana Democrat!

As a card-carrying member of the ACLU, I'm a bit concerned about the FBI busting into Congressman's Jefferson's offices and raiding them.

But not really. The Feds have tons of evidence against this guy, including video of him taking a bribe from an informant, and the bills they gave that informant to give to Jefferson were stashed in a freezer at Jefferson's house. I think that's probably cause to raid any office or property he may use. His claim that this raid violates the separation of powers is nonsense. The Executive enforces laws passed by the Congress. Taking bribes is illegal. The Executive can now do what it has to do to put a dirty Congressman away, ideally for a long time.

The sudden protestations against an out-of-control Executive Branch by the likes of Dennis Hastert simply mean they don't want anyone looking into their own corrupt activities.


My baby sister turns 35 today. Ooooh, I feel old.

Happy birthday Sis. Good luck with the smoking cessation plan.


Because the books I'm reading now are 1300 and 500pages long, I thought I should inhale a quickie to keep on pace for 100.

I believe Aura is the first Carlos Fuentes I've read--it won't be the last, because this shit is tight. Writing in the 2nd person is impossibly hard--that kind of involvement of the reader in the plot requires diligence and immediacy of effect. I can think offhand of only one other horror story using the 2nd person--something by Ramsey Campbell in the 80s where a badly injured person tries to pull himself out of the basement after being attacked by a killer. Fuentes doesn't fall down on the job, and when the pay-off is achieved, the use of 2nd person proves essential, as the main character comes to realize he's not who or what he believed at all. Lots of gruesome secrets in a rat-infested mansion, a strange cat-torturing non-union Mexican equivalent to Mrs. Haversham, and an innocent third party drawn into a Satanic conspiracy--what's not to love? Fun, and short, and with the Spanish text on one side.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Decisions, decisions


A four-day weekend looms for Cha and me. What to do? We haven't been to NYC since January '05, and I'm jonesing for The Big Apple in a major way. But part of me wouldn't mind a trek out west to Berkely Springs West Virginia for a good soak and a deep tissue massage. Fuck it. Why not go to NYC Friday and Saturday and then hit Berkeley Springs Sunday and Monday?

Airfare out of the States is ridiculous now.

He CAN Sing

Typically I don't care if people hate music I like, or if they love music I don't get. A myriad subjective experiences precede an encounter with music, and I always think of my family eating liver while I retched outside from the smell when I was a youngster. People tell me liver tastes good, but I can't be in the same room with cooked liver without barfing. Thinking of that image usually prevents me from arguing over musical tastes, which are as mysterious and subjective and intricately bound to our individuality as those for food.

But earlier today Flea and I were teasingly debating Neil Young for the billionth time--ok, we weren't really debating; more accurately it was a discussion about The Drive-By Truckers with Conniption that got derailed a bit. I can understand the whiney voice complaint--there are musicians whose voices grate my nerves to the point I can't give them a fair listen (Dave Matthews chief amongst them). Flea says she hates Neil because of his voice, which is like nails on a blackboard to her. That's completely understandable. But when she says he can't sing I get defensive. And Flea is certainly not the only one who tells me that Neil Young can't sing. It's simply not true. No one who's ever tried to sing "Helpless" or "Expecting to Fly" or "Harvest Moon" or "For the Turnstiles" could say that. In his prime Neil had shocking vocal range, and could sing complex harmony like a muthafucka. Dude could hit unimaginably high notes without reverting to falsetto, and those plaintiff moody songs needed that aching, sorrowful voice:

There is a town in north Ontario,
With dream comfort memory to spare,
And in my mind I still need a place to go,
All my changes were there.

Blue, blue windows behind the stars,
Yellow moon on the rise,
Big birds flying across the sky,
Throwing shadows on our eyes leave us

Helpless, helpless, helpless.

You listen to this song, to the nifty modulations Neil pulls off in the single syllable of "All," the way he turns "on" into an octve-spanning multisyballic, and then you try to sing it. I dare your sorry ass to try to sing it. If you can't sing it, you are a worse singer than Neil Young, and any opinion you might hold about his talent as a singer is worth two fistfulls of doodley-squat. And I'm a-tellin' you here and now that nobody can sing it without tuning down. I've tried to sing "Helpless." In my teens and twenties I couldn't get there, and I had a decent voice back in the day--I come from a long line of church singers, and sang quite a bit in school. My wife, who can sing like an angel, and who reduced a funeral home full of attendees at my Grampa's funeral to quivering jelly with her rendition of "Amazing Grace"--even she can't come close. Try "Only Love Can Break Your Heart," or "Don't Let it Bring You Down," or "I Believe in You." I taped "I Believe in You" for Cha during our courtship and she termed it the most beautiful singin' she ever done heard. I will buy you a bottle of single malt if you can hit those notes with the same vocal acrobatics as Neil. You try it, and then try to tell me Neil "can't sing." When Jorge and I were playing and singing together here and anon he used to force me to sing "Down By the River" and occasionally "From Hank to Hendrix." Those are relatively easy Neil Young songs to sing, and they were a fucking workout. I was always happy to sing something easy by The Beatles or David Bowie instead.

I must point out that there's a difference between a voice you find annoying and a voice that is musically incompetent. Neil can sing, beyatches, and he sings in a classically American mode that is hundreds of years old. There's a reason great singers like Emmylou Harris and Joni Mitchell and Linda Rondstadt and James Taylor and David Crosby and Stephen Stills and Graham Nash have sung with Neil over the years (aside from money). His voice is a national treasure, even if it was stolen from Canada. Sure, it's petered out a bit, but he's in his sixties for Christ's sake. Not only can he sing, but he writes great songs: The Pixies, Sonic Youth, Cowboy Junkies, The Pretenders, Gillian Welch, Nathalie Merchant, The Isley Brothers, David Bowie, Dave Matthews, Matthew Sweet, Nick Cave, The Corrs, Simply Red, U2, Tori Amos, Oasis, Big Country--these are only some of the bands/acts who've covered Neil's stuff.

And he plays a vicious guitar to boot--certainly not a technically accomplished player, but extremely evocative. I remember at Dylan's 30th Anniversary Concert The Heartbreakers were doing "My Back Pages" with Neil and Eric Clapton--Clapton did a yawn-inducing rote blues trill or two when his turn to solo came along, and then Neil blew the joint apart, teaching young kids how to destroy an electric guitar. Clapton was obviously impressed.

Special nod to Seth for hooking me up with MPEGs of Time Fades Away. Why is this not on CD?


This was the first film Cha and I saw together at the movies. We were, hmmm, 18 and 21? I think she'd only seen ET and Elvis flix on TV at that point, and I probably scared her to death with this date movie choice. Nick Cage bashes some guy's brains out in the first five minutes.

At any rate, I have a soft spot in my heart for Wild at Heart. Not only was this my first exposure to David Lynch, but its nutcase characters allowed great actors to go over-the-top: Isabella Rossalini, Crispin Glover, Diane Ladd, Harry Dean Stanton, Nick Cage, Willem Defoe (as the legendary Bobby Peru), and the electric Laura Dern in perhaps the sexiest performance I've seen on film--all are memorable here.

Sure, the plot is a Univision soap opera on LSD, but who the fuck cares? It's funny, it's horrifying, it's curiously sexy--it's Lynch. Elvis and The Wizard of Oz and heavy metal. Cha and I still reference Lula and Sailor whenever we hear jazz on the car radio.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Here Comes Another One

I have in my possession two curious documents given me not ten minutes ago by F.M. DeeMeglio. In one, he attempts to draw from an intuitive understanding of the ratios between the densities of the Earth and Sun and their sizes a deductive argument about the origins of the solar system and whether it was rationally designed.

In the other, Mr. DeeMeglio attempts to describe autism as a malfunction of the artifical Self betrayed by its own abandonment of intuitive understanding and retreat into a manufactured Ego. "You know about this stuff. You read along these lines," he said. "You're into the psychology and the philosophy." I was taken aback by this as the only reading material in evidence on the Desk were a history of socialism and a copy of Harper's.

Mr. DeeMeglio graduated Towson University in 1987 with a BS in Geography. He told me he hated school at the time, but reads a lot now on his own. He quoted passages from Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Fichte, and Newton in his regular-Joe straightforwardly earnest manner. He looks to me like a middle-school gym teacher with his thick physique and running shoes and shorts. "I don't know a damn thing about physics," he said, but proceded to discuss Theodor Kaluza's attempted unification of Einstein's gravitational theories with Maxwell's electromagnetic theory.

Mr. DeeMeglio requested assistance in finding peer-reviewed journals to which he hopes to submit his abstracts about autism and solar system evolution. I was vastly entertained by his visit, and was glad to help.

"We've created a toxic environment for ourselves," he told me. "I think we spend a third of our lives unconscious because of the lower third of our bodies and the effect of gravitation. The consciousness of the heart and that of the head need to be rectified. Vision is the most thoughtful or conscious of the senses because the feeling of thought and vision is so similar."

UPDATE: He returned (I've said it before--they always come back) to ask if I'd ever read any Nietzsche. I said I had, in graduate school, and Mr. DeeMeglio said "sometimes I think he exhibits a razor insight, but other times I think he was just nuts!" I told him about Jung postulating that Nietzsche had awakened his dark kundalini serpent too soon to assimilate it, resulting in his final catatonia. "I've fallen into the abyss myself," DeeMeglio replied. "But you and I can have an intellectual conversation."

Stupid Entry

Destroyed countless brain cells this weekend--'twas the plan all along. As soon as I left the Liberry Thursday I was off on a three-day debauch celebrating the end-of-semester. Yahtzee and I hit the Recher for pool Thursday where he soundly spanked me 10-2 (the games were close contests at least). We drank numerous beers, then retired chez moi for wine and smoke.

Friday was spent lounging around the house recovering and resting for the Move Like Seamus gig at Mick O'Shea's, which exceeded expectations. They put on a rocking show for a packed house; I'd rank it their best performance in recent memory. The crowd was obviously pleased, and the dance floor was SRO the entire third set. Lots of cool fun folk showed: Lenore, P-Man, Schott, K'wali and Klezma, Damnyelli, The Sandstress, It's Australian for Beer!, Virginia Monologues, Porc Heaven, Yahtzee, and Carrie. Sorry if I missed anyone--after 8 Guinesses, a bourbon, a shooter that tasted like strawberry shortcake, an Irish Car Bomb, the night degenerates somewhat into blurred fragments. Unexpectedly there was cake and singing for my belated birthday, and drinks were thrust upon me at an alarming rate, fueling an eventual spastic aerobic display. Virginia Monologues gave me a gift wrapped in The Socialist Worker, the cover of said print organ featuring an article she'd written about Anti-Bush Rage Sweeping the US. I much appreciated it.

Before the bar we had dinner at Kumari with K'wali and Klezma. Delicious. Simply delicious. I was looking for parking and was stopped at the corner of Charles and Eager when Faulty Landscape strode purposefully around the corner. He didn't notice my beeping. K'wali wants to try the Bridge of Smoke, and has offered his hooka as vehicle. He's also interested in absinthe and mysterious cacti. Klezma is not "down with" this idea at all.

Saturday was Sis's annual bash in Menges Mills PA. The Hulk and his now bride-to-be showed. I ate like a pig but we couldn't stay long because Cha was suffering miserably due to pollen. She slept for hours when we got home, then jumped up to go see Seamus again. I remained home, Yahtzee swung by, and we drank and smoked and drank again. I drained a third of the abinsthe bottle and we watched Tex Avery cartoons while playing Scrabble. The absinthe gave me vivid dreams I cannot recall.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

L'absinteur contempletif



DePalma's stuff is a mixed bag, but is always technically interesting. Sisters is in narrative terms a lame pastiche of Hitchcock references (scored by Bernard Hermann, who apes his own Hitchcock scores), but manages to entertain nevertheless because DePalma doesn't take himself too seriously here. The camp is interrupted by a rather effectively brutal slaying, featuring at one point a harrowing split-screen perspective. In the genre of films about murderous separated conjoined twins, this ranks right up there, a close second to the ruthlessly bad Basket Case.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The (ir)Regulars

In my travels around campus today I encountered Gimpy Bill, whose typical "hey bro!" greeting grated typically. Tiny Drum is here. Because I refuse to read his papers, he now stands at the Desk and reads them to me, explaining what he's doing and why. Oona thought this funny, while I wanted to curl into the fetal position and suck my thumb. Assburger is here too. When I saw him enter I fled to Starbucks for some caffeine. In Starbucks was Ass Barnacle; I'd not seen his revolting countenance for years, perhaps since I threatened to ban him from the bookstore for comments about staff cleavage.

A gorgeous night out--managed to walk outside at just the right moment to catch the sunset, and the fantastic rust light fading on the brick buildings here on campus.

Yahtzee and I are up to no good this evening after work. Time to find a nine-foot table in a joint that serves beer. Poolhalls with beverage service are hard to come by anymore--L'il Dickie's simply doesn't cut the mustard. Their single remaining table lists like the Exxon Valdez under Capt. Hazelwood's watch.

Update: Because of the wonders of the Internet I already know I aced my French exam and got an A for the course. In Arabic I achieved an 87 on the final and it looks as though I'll get either a B+ or A- for the course. Not bad for an old geezer. Still have a shot at Summa Cum Laude.


Wholly unwarranted (tho much appreciated) hagiographies about the literary value pretentions of this site aside, my truest, most vital mission here is to discuss intoxicants. The latest such foray involved a bottle of Absinthe Elixier, a short glass, some ice cubes, and a very pleasant evening.

Many absintheurs describe taking a third (or more) of the bottle per voyage; as a rookie adventurer, I reigned in those impulses and stuck with two sturdy drinks of a couple fingers each, cut with an equal amount of water and a sugar cube in the traditional manner.

I was not disappointed by Absinthe Elixier. There's a mild mouthwash taste tinged with anise, but neither flavor is overwhelming. At 70% alcohol I found it surprisingly un-bitter. The buzz--fabled in myth and poetry--is absolutely unique amongst liquors. After the first drink I was noticeably intoxicated, but without the stupid heavy feeling I associate with bourbon or vodka drunks. I could stand and move about without impairment, and although there was a substantial euphoria, I was not in the least cranially incapacitated. After the second glass I noted a peculiar shimmering effect, as though everything was coated in glistening varnish. This effect will be familiar to those who've engaged various organic hallucinogens, as it often marks the beginnings of an experience. I was soon rendered particularly randy, though that's not unusual for a Taurus at any time of the year, and most un-unusual in May, especially when said Taurus has a fantastically hot wife.

I'm eager to explore further with a more substantial partaking, and shall do so soon. Perhaps before the Move Like Seamus show tomorrow night?

Sometimes a banana...

I'm slogging ever-so-slowly through the dense arcana of G.I. Gurdjieff's Beelzebub's Tales to his Grandson, and one of the assertions our reprobate extraterrestrial archangel makes in his long twisted narrative is that Humans are silly to believe they evolved from Apes. In fact, according to Beelzebub, Apes evolved from Humans who did the nasty with other primate relatives.

Turns out it's all true! Must be something to Gurdjieff's claims to have read the Akashic Records.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


The Url of Pembroke forwarded this McDonald's ad from India. Easily the most disturbing print ad I've ever seen.

Finals Week

This morning completed the written portion of my Arabic final--I still have to log onto some online program, listen to a dialogue, and record answers in Arabic to several questions in Arabic and upload them to my instructor. I'll do so Friday.

Tomorrow the French final looms, and I've yet to study. I'm not overly concerned about defining/describing the literary movements or major figures, as that's kindergartenesque by now. Same goes for the two essay questions, which involve (Part I) describing how one would act during the French Resistance were one a bourgeois Parisien (collaborator) or a farmer (resistance fighter) and (Part II) discussing whether or not political violence is ever justifiable--un morceau de gateau, je crois. I'm mildly concerned about a list of a dozen or so Francophone authors from Africa whose death and birth dates I must know and whose chief works and literary styles I must briefly discuss--but that's rote memorization of the sort I can accomplish shortly before class.

After the exam, and after work tomorrow, I have two days off, then work my final Sunday before a summer full of weekends. The following weekend is a four-day Memorial Day treat. Needless to say I plan to 'cut loose' each of the next few days.

With the spring semester out of the way I'll be able to resume more fully my duties as watcher and judger of DVDs and reader of books. I'm falling behind on both counts.

Fast Service

Got a package from Deutschland today. I'm thinking I should wait to investigate until after my French final tomorrow, but Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Verlaine, et al would certainly disagree.

Ain't it the Truth

Once again, the Democratic leadership thinks all its candidates have to do is stand around looking smart while the Republicans sink of their own weight. When the polls are with the Republicans, the Democrats sit tight for fear of offending someone. When the polls are against the Republicans, the Democrats sit tight for fear of re-energizing the Republican base.
Steven Hart, over at The Opinion Mill

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Quote from an customer review of Mean Girls: I saw this movie in my Linear Algebra class and I'm sorry, but it's just ADORABLE.

Exactly how Mean Girls fits into any mathematics curriculum, let alone that of Linear Algebra, shall remain a mystery. Also a mystery: yes, I added this to my Netflix queue. Voluntarily. I don't understand it any more than you. Sometimes I need a break from angst-ridden art films, and when I've got co-eds popping gum and flipping their Dr. Suess head-top braids at me at the Service Desk I sometimes feel I should try to stay "current" with the culture that fashions them.

It's bad, but it isn't that bad. Mean Girls is better, in fact, than the worst of John Waters' stuff (those "cute" mean comedies like Serial Mom and Cecil B. Demented). Tina Fey isn't wholly untalented as a comedy writer. I'm trying to find backward compliments en lieu de actual praise for the movie. I did laugh.


Cluelessremains the artistic summit of this particular genre.

The Fountain of Youth

I'm not sure how looking at these pix helps keep his ears sharp, but I'm feeling better about my prospects for a long life.


Mommie Dearest snapped this on my birthday. Old, old, old.

Free Market Test Valuation

I hear Cheney's worth $100 million. I bet if you put him up on Ebay he wouldn't get a sack of pennies.

Let's find out!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Up Yours

God's response when He heard Bush claimed to speak to Him.

[photo via Irish Astronomy]

My Brain Hurts

Got my Arabic vocab spread about me at the Service Desk--it looks like al-maktaba exploded. There are kalimaat everywhere. Also working on the French lit final--that's not likely to be a problem. Just have to memorize some birthdates and remember to take my dictionary for the essay bits.

One more class in the Fall and I'll have my third useless degree: BA in French.

Gave Tiny Drum a smack-down an hour ago. He emailed me yet another 9-page essay asking me to look at it, and I told him to fuck off. This is the third day in a row I've told him I'm done editing his stupid papers. I think he's prowling the Reference librarians for a sucker to proof it as I type.

I'm both praying the absinthe shows up tonight and hoping it doesn't.

You Be the Decider

I've got Living With Waron and it's turned up loud. Aside from the strange intrusion of a grade school trumpeter from time to time, it's catching on; I love the crunchy scarecrow rhythm of that old Gibson through a tube amp. I must admit when I heard it streaming from Neil's website I didn't like it much, especially compared to the much more substantial Greendale. But Living With War rocks along like those early '90s discs when Young re-discovered himself (Ragged Glory,Freedom,Sleeps With Angels),and mostly satisfies.

It's angry, but not pessimistic. I wish there were more teeth-hurting guitar solos and a bit less of the 100-voice chorus--perhaps live that will be the case. Good article here.

Looks like people are buying it too.