Wednesday, March 31, 2004

A Non-Mood Day

You ever wake up in a bad mood or maybe just in a non-mood? This is a non-mood day. I don't feel like much of anything. I want my friends who haven't written in a while to write me, but I have little influence over that. I want to be cheered up--not "lifted from the bottom of the barrel", just cheered a little. Well, subject matter like that could soon end in a desperate-sounding blog. So, no blog for today. If it's in your nature to like a bit of quirky fiction, click on "Joe Dan's Religion" over on the right side of the screen. It's a 1000 word short story with absolutely no moral or morals. At least, I don't think it does. Can't ever tell for sure, morals are something that are always creeping up on you.

Today, I'll take a Ferris Bueller Day. I'm too old for it, but who's keeping track of it, anyway?

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Fuzzy-Tailed Demons

I inherited a sort of porch-style outdoor swing from my sister a few months ago. It had a heavy metal pipe frame and some big plump cushions. It had some weather stains, which made it a little bit ugly, but it was very comfortable. It sits out in the middle of the back yard, a good place from which to view the world. From the very beginning, though, it was doomed.

I never knew what was ripping open the cushions and still have never caught any animal in the act. But, eventually I could see that there was so many of the bits of white cushion stuffing falling out of the squirrel nests onto the ground below that I had to conclude it was them doing all that damage. The squirrels chew everything else to bits around here--bird feeders, birdhouses. Why not this as well? I kept trying to patch the damage to the cushions, but the violators were having too much fun. They tore away at it as if they very well knew they were tearing my senses to pieces. It just made me furious. I can’t start shooting at them since we’re in the city limits. But, at the same time, we’re such a rural city that there’s no end of replacement squirrels even if I did shoot a few.

There’s a State Park less than a dozen blocks from here with about a million squirrel recruits ready to move in here if any space becomes available. They’re like cockroaches. The two are the best examples I can think of to illustrate the old saying about how Nature Abhors A Vacuum. Each seems devoted to the practice of filling the universe with themselves!

If there were a button I could push that would make all the squirrels everywhere disappear at once, I’d strongly consider doing so. But so far I haven’t found that button! Anyway, Animal Planet would probably take me out and have me shot—or puppy-licked or cat-pawed to death, whatever it is that they do to get even with vicious animal killers. So I gave up on this part of The Squirrel Wars. I jerked the cushions off the frame and burned them in the burning barrel, one by one. Maybe it’s a hazardous act, BUT I DON’T CARE! The cushions didn’t resist the fire any better than they’d resisted the clawing they’d been getting. Screw the environment--maybe the poisonous black stinking smoke will give a squirrel or two emphysema. At first I forgot the insignificant little pieces of armrest padding, but the squirrels didn’t. I waited to see if the fuzzy-tailed demons would decide to start eating that as well. They did.

Post Script: Today the local library was having a book sale to raise money and I bought a large 1982 copy of a National Geographic Atlas for two bucks. What a sweet deal. I wonder if I can find a country in there that doesn’t have squirrels? It’s just a thought.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: The first half of our lives is ruined by our parents, and the second half by our children. -- Clarence Darrow

Monday, March 29, 2004

Some Nature Notes

Sometimes you've barely noted a thing and it's almost over. Just 2 or 3 days ago, my usually numb senses noticed all the beautifully colored azalea bushes. Now, the flowers are already beginning to fall to the ground below. They're not all gone, but will be. For a brief while, though, they were so pristine. Other people's azaleas will be on a slightly different blooming schedule, so there'll be some to see even after ours are all on the ground. And, of course, there will be other flowers in bloom following the azaleas. Just now, even the weeds in the ditch have flowers, or they did until I mowed there yesterday. But it's sad to see the blooms begin to go limp after they seemingly emerged all at once by the hundreds. Like mayflies, sort of, they do their work quickly and then it's over. But it's not quite over yet-I'm just steeling myself for it.

The hope that the nest being built by the Carolina wrens would last a while is gone now. The birds stopped building. I guess they realized it was a stupid thing to build close to a busy back door. I didn't think they could stand it, I just hoped they could. The storm door I installed six months ago works pretty well, slowing down nicely until it's an inch or two from being closed, but in the last second it Slams with a Wham. I don't mind it, but I don't live in a tiny box right next to it, either. Well, the wrens don't either. I can't say it was stupid of them to quit building; it was stupid of them to ever start. But I wish they'd stayed. They're still in the neighborhood, though, for I can hear them singing their various songs out there. Maybe they'll yet build a nest somewhere close by and I'll be able to spot it. If the motivation is great enough, I'll invade Other People's yards and hope that no one objects. The neighbors know I'm a bird nut. Some eastern bluebirds have been hanging around in our neighbors' yard, and there's a very visible mockingbird nest in the bushes in my front yard, so things go on. Nature never stops.

That was the Thought For The Day!

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Sunday Driver Poem


©2003 Ronald C. Southern

"The thing about a rectangle," the waitress said,
"Is you can get in the corner and hide,
But a circle flows freely and what you fear
Can come at you from any side.

The Indians knew this and liked it," she said,
"But white men have always hated it
And therefore spent centuries killing the Indians
And quelling their culture and pissing on every circle on earth."

Some said that Mabel used to be
An Indian princess from Oklahoma
Or the troubled daughter
Of a Medicine Woman who drank,

But I didn't know anything about things like that
And didn't know anyone who did.
Her name was actually something else,
But I couldn't pronounce it.

"Well, Mabel," I grinned as I paid the bill,
"Being the white man's a goofy job,
A hard-down tireless thankless everlasting job,"
"But somebody's gotta do it."

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Dark, Medium, and Light

The azalea bushes are full of flowers in my yard and neighborhood this week. They are bursting with colors pinkish and reddish and everything in-between and closely-related. It’s great. It’s always a gorgeous world this time of year once the azaleas have started and before the flowers begin to fall like limp but colorful lettuce leaves to the ground below. The colors stay beautiful a while, even though the flowers look like layers of pastel mush plastered together on the ground.

I’m sure I wouldn’t know the names for all these colors. You know how men are about colors; we think there’s too many. Too many fine distinctions. We think 6 or 12 would be enough. Completely adequate for everyone except maybe a painter, someone working on the next Sistine Chapel. I found myself in a typically masculine hell recently when I was trying to select some colors for the tables in my Southern Exposure web page. They have more kinds of blue to choose from than I really want or can comprehend. They’re all nice, don’t get me wrong. And that whole long list of reds and greens look nice as well. I just can’t tell all of them apart. How different is dark blue from navy blue or either one from royal blue? Whatever happened to Dark, Medium, and Light? I don’t know about you, but My Crayon box wasn’t that big when I was a kid!

I was game, though, to pick through the color choices for my tables and even as I kept trying each shade of blue, I found that a little of each one went a long way. I won’t attempt to convey the different combinations I tried for fear of tripping over my tongue or over my own bad nerves. I may NEVER change any colors in that web page again, for fear I’ll have to spend endless hours again doodling with test after test of shade after shade, the whole of which just made me feel color-blind, clumsy, and nauseous. Just in passing, let me ask what the deal is on this multiplicity of purples and yellows? What’s a man to do with all THAT?! I don’t like to play Macho Man too much, and it’s not that I need to prove I’m not a woman (I have this beard, you see), but God Almighty, I can’t tell the difference! I LIKE the colors of women’s clothes, but I can’t be trusted to design, select, or describe them! I ask again whatever happened to Dark, Medium, and Light?!

To get back to the start of my simple story, though, if I tell you that the azalea bushes are drop-dead gorgeous right now, just smile and nod. Don’t ask me about the colors, I might have a nervous breakdown. Not a big one. Just a little one.

Chase after truth like hell and you'll free yourself, even though you never touch its coat-tails. -- Clarence Darrow

Friday, March 26, 2004

At The Top Of The Circus Tent: A Short Poem


"God didn't make sex feel so good
Just so you could feel guilty about it," he told her.
"He did it to be sure that you'd do it."

"I don't think you should talk about God like that,"
She replied.

"Why not, if it's true?"

"Nobody knows if it's true," she insisted.

"Nobody knows that it’s false," he grinned,
“But there’s no question about it at all
That sex with you feels good!”


I Am Not A Rat, It's Just A Blog Title, So Back Off!

Dear Lord, that computer program watching over my shoulder that I talked about the day before yesterday must be developing a demented sense of humor. Now the ads up above want me to wipe myself out. Yesterday afternoon in that space it suddenly said:

Rat Zappers $29.99 Incredible Prices Online Kills Rodents, Mice, Rats, Squirrels

Eliminate Rats & Mice We Own A Feed And Seed Store We Know How To Control Rodents

They’re coming after me. I panicked. What could I do? Who could I call? I copied it and pasted it here so that I’d have the proof later. Sure enough, within minutes I returned to my blog, but it had already changed to this innocent poodle:

Award Winning HostingFree Web Design Software, Web Stats Free Setup, 10 GB Data Transfer

iPowerWeb Blog HostingMySQL, CGI , PHP, Tons of Bandwidth Great For MT Weblogs - Affil.

Hell, where’d it go? I felt like I was back in elementary school and some freckled child had turned around and stuck its tongue out at me, then turned back toward the teacher with an angelic expression. What? What was that? What?! I’d like to stick two pencils in his ears from behind, but I’d never get away with it.

I’m being singled out, I can tell. Either that or I need a psychiatric exam. Is this Internet Paranoia, or one of those cases in whch even paranoids have enemies? Wait, dammit—I just realized they’ve got me doing their advertising now down here IN the blog! I think I’ll have to stop talking about this; I thought I was joking before, but Big Brother IS watching, and very closely. Shhh! A little quieter, please! Don’t tip it off that I’m here…maybe it’ll go away.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: A paranoid is someone who knows a little of what's going on. -- William S. Burroughs

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Ladies And Gentlemen, A Short Poem


"I guess I don't know what women are for," he said.
"Though I've made some cry
And I've made some mine,
Still nothing comes to pass."

"We are not for your fool's pleasure,
I can tell you that!" I said.
"Nor made to feed mere hunger
Or be your hind in heat."


Love And Vexation

It would be good to always be in the mood for this. Writing, I mean, writing for this blog. Every day I think “Today I should write the one for tomorrow”, but I never do. I get up each day befuddled and begin to fumble for a subject. I have a computer full of snippets and claptrap and flapdoodles--why can’t I just use one of those things and be lazy today? Some are too long, some just don’t fit. I might as well just do something whiny, wimpy, and second-rate like this as to try to force something to fit.

I find it interesting how my original web page, Southern Exposure, is falling behind this blog in terms of hits it’s getting. It’s inevitable, of course; this blog updates daily or often, the other only infrequently. There’s something to see here. SE is “prettier”, required more study of HTML, and is the first-born child, but it’s this noisy rat-publication that seems like it’s going to get the attention. Originally, I hoped my friends and acquaintances would tell me how “attractive” the Southern Exposure page looked and generally how clever it was. Some did, some didn’t. Some have said nothing more substantial than “I saw your site”. Some, with the protective barrier of distance and email between us, have said nothing at all. I’ve gone through life being noncommittal about a lot of ordinary things about my friends’ stuff, often declining to tell people how nice their new hat is, often saying little about their new car—things like that. I think, on Southern Exposure, I got my payback for that. Some people, who didn’t know how much it meant to me and who meant no harm at all, left me dangling, twisting like a hanged man in the breeze. It’s a good thing I’m not sensitive. I may be hatefully irritable, but I’m not very sensitive.

Meanwhile, here’s this noisy rat-thing. I’m newly out here in the rigors of cyber-space and irritating some people into rude behavior and being rude to others myself. Doing anything out here is a little like dropping a stone in a pool and watching the circles ripple further and further out. Except here, you have no idea how long the ripples last. Maybe 2 seconds, maybe days or weeks. And you don’t often know if your stone hit somebody in the head and left a bruise or had no impact at all. Still, you can tell that some people you don’t know get irritated or MAD at you. One depends a little on the "kindness of strangers" out here--people who might never really like you in person encourage and praise you and tell you to keep on keeping on. I would suppose that everybody’s looking for Love in all that they do, and the Internet’s no exception, but I’ve realized in the last day or two that I should caution myself more often, more firmly: Only part of all this Love and Vexation online is real, and it’s very hard to know which part.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever. -- Napoleon Bonaparte

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Is That A Spy In My Fly (No, Just On Your Forehead)

Does anyone on blog-spot ever notice that the ads up above sometimes have the appearance of having picked our brains? That they’re peering over our shoulders and taking notes? When I wrote my first bit, it was entitled “Eye Care” and it wasn’t long before I noticed that the ads above were by Lasik, the “eye care” people. At the time, I was a nervous new blogger and I thought, “Oh, they’ll think I’m making fun of them or something.” Because I hadn’t paid any attention to which had appeared first. The old Chicken or the Egg thing. Later, after writing a piece that mentioned Charlie Chaplin, I found ads for somebody selling Chaplin books. I was beginning (excuse me) to smell a rat.

This is weird. Does this mean someone’s written a computer program that spies on each blog and tries to extract “relevant” info that they can use to target us or our audience? I don’t see that it does much harm or that it seems likely to do them much good, either. If they don’t have an advertiser that “applies”, I guess that’s when they just put their ads for more Blogs up there. I’m very good at tuning out ads—it’s my training from Yahoo mail. This IS attention-getting, though I’m not sure it’s the kind of attention they want. It’s not the advertiser that fascinates me, but the computer program and the thinking of the advertising company. If someone writes about Chains and Whips, do they get ads for dog collars and dog leashes and leather face covers, I wonder? Omigod, I used the phrase myself! Now, what will happen? I’ll be advertising doggie diapers and dog biscuits before I know it. But there’s no controlling that little space up there unless I leave. Ah, well, I can tune it out. You’ll have to do the same.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "When I gave food to the poor, they called me a saint. When I asked why the poor were hungry, they called me a communist." Dom Helder Camara, Brazilian Bishop, Nobel Peace Prize nominee

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Gremlins And Goblins and Rats, Oh My!

How stupid can I be? How disoriented? Have I been lost in a fog for years? (Yes.) The other day I clicked on Yahoo Mail’s “Remember username” checkbox just to see what would happen. I’d tried checking it long ago, any number of times, but it never produced any effect. Whenever I came back to Yahoo in another session, I wasn’t signed in any more. But now I am! Finally, Yahoo Mail has chosen to follow directions, to do what it claimed it would do! How did this terrible thing happen?

Now I’m trying to remember when was the last time I tried this? Was it back just before I switched from Win95 to Win98 or was it further back? Maybe I haven’t tried it in years. Is it caused by new Yahoo programmers? Maybe they’re like the head engineers at the major automotive companies. I’ve always been convinced that every time new head engineers take over, they just change some things in car designs to “put their own stamp on it”, to show they’ve taken charge, not because the feature needed changing.

Take this example. On my old Sable, the windshield wiper is controlled by twisting the turn-signal bar forward for slow or fast continuous wipes and back toward me for the incremental “periodic” settings. This makes sense to me. But does it seem logical only because that’s what I’m used to? Some Ford/Mercury engineer apparently decided so. When I drive my sister’s Ford Explorer or my mother’s Mercury Grand Marquis, each is different, changed by some egotistical engineer who wanted to show how stupid the guy before him had been. It makes NO SENSE to this driver why in a sudden hard rain one would want to have to make the clicks through ALL the periodic settings to get to the required continuous settings of Slow or Fast, but that’s how one reigning Ford Engineer wanted things to be. I think he just wanted it his way, not the right way or the convenient way. I think he failed to consider driver convenience entirely and that scared underlings on his team and indifferent CEO’s above him let him get away with it. What do CEO’s know about windshield wipers, they’re chauffeured! Suddenly this lapse of judgment was embedded permanently in millions of cars and would remain for years to come.

But what about Yahoo? Which was it, I wonder? Did the gremlin that lives in my computer Get Me Confused or was it some mistake that Yahoo made? Maybe Yahoo made a mistake recently and hired somebody fresh out of college who wasn’t a team player and fixed my glitch before anybody could tell him not to mess up their messed-up System. There’s always somebody who resists useful changes at all costs while leaving the really useless changes in place. I really shouldn’t have talked about it out loud, I suppose. If word gets out, either my gremlin or the goblins who write the programming may be unhappy. Nobody likes a complainer. Or a rat. Don’t worry, I’m used to it.

Gremlins and goblins and rats, oh my!

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "As a general rule, people, even the wicked, are much more naive and simple-hearted than we suppose. And we ourselves are, too." -- Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Monday, March 22, 2004

The Monster In The Closet

I don’t know the statistics, but it seems like there’s a number of blog sites that stay very anonymous. Some for crazy reasons, perhaps, others just for their privacy. I read a one-entry blog the other night at Something In The Dark about a closet monster in some girl’s bedroom. I wondered, of course, if someone was exercising their literary penchant or if somewhere there was a girl really worried about the unseen monster in her closet and that her best friend was just laughing at her for mentioning it.

She had no email address and no comments. Maybe she just wanted to vent and now she’ll be all right. One can hope so, because we can’t do a thing for her from here! An email address is so easy to get that I can’t imagine the girl doesn’t know enough to get one, especially if she wanted any advice or support. Of course, what good “Internet advice” might be is extremely arguable. Whether she’s in trouble or not, she obviously wanted to provoke a reaction. Like a child doing something infernally stupid or wrong just to get some attention. For good or bad reasons, we all need attention.

There’s a young woman at a blog called “Growing Up Girl” who (lately at least) writes practical advice about dating and she’s entertaining. I’d tell her so, but she has no place to leave comments and no email address. I don’t understand. I don’t write a blog to be famous, but I certainly hope for and welcome any praise or communication I might get. All news is interesting news, I figure, at least until it’s all the Same Old News. But she either writes for a small group of friends or else just for herself. I can appreciate that attitude if that’s what she’s doing, but I’d still like to tell her, “Good job!”

As long as I’m working so hard to be pleasant, let me mention a pleasant young woman who doesn’t try so hard to be anonymous, Leslie over at My Obsession. She can be commented to or reached--her problem is just that she just doesn’t manage to write often enough to suit me. She has, though, what I consider”a good sensibility” and I enjoy that any time I can find it. She’s not a talkaholic like so many bloggers, and that’s a shame, but maybe it’s reasonable. The rest of us aren’t always saying anything just because we’re talking—writing—filling up screen space.

Anyway, listen, Closet Girl, if you can hear me, there are no monsters in the closets. All the monsters are in us. Avoid those, too, when you can. Otherwise, sleep with a flashlight, they’re cheap, provide good light, and make a good defensive weapon.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: After one look at this planet any visitor from outer space would say "I want to see the manager." William S. Burroughs

Sunday, March 21, 2004

It's My Money!

"It's MY money, I'll spend it!" Elton John

petulant little snot, isn't he? Oh, well, I like his songs, and I can't help it if he sucks you know what. Maybe it's good for him. It's rather worse that he's such a conspicuous consumer and incautious spender. Donating his glad rags to charity auctions later is just the usual rich man's ploy for making the rest of us feel grateful. First, they steal the money, robbing men, women, and children on the way to the top if they have to, then they want museums and athletic stadiums named after them and unlimited credit for giving some of it back when they realize they can't spend it all in one lifetime. Hardly anyone would turn down being rich, but we also make far too much out of it. People like Bill Gates, now as rich as a small country, may sometimes be admired, but they should also be admonished. Bill never cut a price in his life, though he cut a few throats in the process of doing business. His Gates Foundation isn't "sharing" the wealth, he's doling it out. Who elected him (or them), we should all wonder.

Corrupt systems support themselves, while The People stand around and admire the predatory bastards. Whatever happened to the Revolution? I guess we all got too busy with the stock market and stuffing our faces with Starbuck's coffee and delicious Krispy Kreme donuts. Maybe we deserve Elton John and Bill Gates, come to think of it.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "I was a vegetarian until I started leaning toward the sunlight." Rita Rudner

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Losing The Battle For The American Dream

Well, I spent what seemed like a lot of time talking online to CoffeeCup to see if they could direct me to the Right way of using the FTP part of their HTML editor. I talked to them a couple of times; they were friendly, but not helpful. I realize it’s probably something “wrong” on my part that’s creating this glitch, but they didn’t seem to know much about how it works. They said they couldn’t find my files at all. No doubt--but the files ARE there. I connected to them (using the Other FTP program) while I was online with CoffeeCup. I gave up and asked them to email me if they thought of anything useful.

Later I emailed them and told them they wouldn’t have to bother because their Free Trial Download, downloaded only 2 or 3 days before, now Thought the trial period was Expired and had Frozen Up 42 days early! I uninstalled that piece of self-congratulatory crap in a heartbeat. One odd part of it all is that the goofy program was supposedly the replacement for the Graf HTML Editor (CoffeeCup bought it and immediately changed it apparently, for it’s barely recognizable.) The old one was a program far simpler and more useable. You could view your results in one step, not two, among other things.

Pardon my rave, but:

I know we can’t always get what we want, but what I hate is that we often can’t get anything Even Remotely Resembling what we want! Some moneyed corporate jackass buys it, makes it bigger, fatter, slower, and less sensible, and then raises the price too. I guess I’m just not enough of a confirmed American Consumer these days, because I still get pissed off at the notion of American goods being junk and American service being so pathetic. If I’d shop more and buy more, I’d become inured, I’d be indifferent, to all this incompetent stuff.

I’ve been in business, I’ve provided services and I’ve made products. Quality does sometimes fail in the production of almost anything or the delivery of most any service, but that’s when quality customer service is supposed to Cover Your Ass. If you quickly apologize and express horror that things aren’t right and if you clearly get to work to correct things, most people can be won back to your side. But there’s increasingly less and less of even that. It’s hard to find anyone who gives a damn and everybody’s as proud of that as they are of their children and grandchildren. I once worked with a fellow named Joe who was always saying, “They don’t pay me enough to do that job.” He was a likeable guy, but I was always disgusted with his attitude. Now everywhere I look, the place is full of Joes, and I HATE to buy anything for fear of being forced down that long road to disgust.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Just To Clear Up A Point

Well, I didn't mean to be sexist in yesterday's tirade, although no doubt I am. It's unconscious even when it's not conscious. Anyway, I said that women too can be "sons of" after a remark about wanting "some smart son of a bitch" to clue me in on the science of FTP. I didn't mean to just say that women can be sons of bitches, too, but that they can be Smart sons of bitches. It was meant as a sort of democratic statement. Reading it later, it sounds sort of addle-pated. Well, I am that, too. Mea culpa. Take me out and shoot me. But first you have to find me. Two or three of you may know where I live, but you could've killed me long ago, if there seemed any point in it. So I figure I'm safe. Safe from everything except myself, anyway. That's the son of a bitch I'm worried about!

Thursday, March 18, 2004

FTP (May Stand for: F*** The Public)

Ignore my improper terminology, if any, for I know not what I do.

I’ve been using a free download of WS_FTP, but now it’s going to expire. If I’m going to have to spend any money for such a thing, I would have liked to pay instead for an HTML editor that also performed the file transfer protocol. But now I’ve tried 3 different editors and I can’t get any of them to actually complete a transfer. I assume I’ve told it wrong directory names or something, although I tried repeating exactly how I entered it in WS_FTP. I also tried all the variations I could think of, but apparently one can’t “guess”.

I've emailed Coffee Cup, who makes one HTML editor with FTP, but they haven't answered and may only send an automated answer telling me to "check online help". I've already done that. Nothing penetrates my brain, I'm lost in a dark hole! I have however figured out one thing, one last defense. I changed the day on my computer just now and it seems like that's all they know about the expiration date--now they think I have additional days left on the program. This would be a good solution, except that I'd have to switch it back and forth, back and forth. My emails would get lost in everyone's boxes, they'd bury themselves instead of appearing at the top of the list with other New emails!

This is just an infernal and never-ceasing problem. If, God Forbid, I paid $50 for the WS_FTP program, I have no guarantee I wouldn't have to reinstall it at some point and then find out I don't know how I ever filled out their set-up screen right in the first place! That would be so Me! I cannot stand much more of this shit of spending hours and hours just trying to sign-up or set-up for a program. Why, God why, don't I know some smart son of a bitch who can just tell me? Be glad to hear from one, male or female. (Women can be sons of, too, I’ve seen it.)

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

The Death Of A Minor Star

About a week after the event, I stumbled across a news story on the Internet about the discovery of Spalding Gray’s body in the river. He’d apparently jumped from the Staten Island Ferry. He’d been missing for 58 days. I felt bad about him being dead, but he wasn’t a personal friend of mine and I think I almost felt worse that I apparently live in a world that takes so little note of his passing. I'm a news junkie and the fact that I didn't hear about it for a week means it wasn't The Top News Story. Maybe if I lived in New York, I'd have heard more.

Spalding Gray was a sometimes-movie-actor and a very talented sort of “talking man” who put on one-man performances—he could just stand on stage and tell a story live and mesmerize his audience. Though I didn’t see him often, I thought he was amazing. He did what some would call confessional autobiographical monologues. “Swimming To Cambodia” was one. Some of them were taped and shown on cable TV, which is the only way that I ever saw him. But live or on tape, he was clearly a major talent, even while never being a Big Star. They don’t know yet or haven’t said, but it’s probable he took his own life. He was talented and likeable (well, it seems so from here), but I guess it wasn’t enough. He’d had health problems and had attempted suicide more than once, so no one who knew him could be very surprised.

In an interview once he was asked, “If someone who didn't know you asked you what you do, how would you answer?”

Spalding answered: “Well, the best definition I ever heard was way back when I was performing Sex and Death at Age Fourteen. There was a little girl, 10 years old, hanging around and I asked her, "What are you doing here?" She said her dad told her to come and see the talking man. This, in our culture, is rare — the fact that I'm reflective is an odd thing.”

That’s the sad truth.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

It Won't Kill You

Today was a spaghetti day. I ate 3 different kinds of it before the day was done. No, I didn't have it for breakfast. In trying to clean out the refrigerator before everything went bad, I ended up with 2 spaghetti dishes on my plate at one time. I had regular tomato sauce style on one side of the plate and chicken spaghetti on the other. Both were a little tasteless, though it was just that famous "ice-box taste". Sometimes I wish food would go bad so I wouldn't end up eating so much of it that's like that. I mean, it's not deadly, but it's taste has gone dead. It's a terrible thing to throw food away--says I, raised by children of the Depression and given that kind of early training--but sometimes it's even worse to Save all this crap from being Wasted! Excuse me while I spit! Jeesh.

Before the day was done, though, I visited someone who invited me to eat again. It turned out they were having turkey spaghetti--a third kind, but more importantly a freshly-cooked batch and it was so much better than that cardboard I'd eaten a couple of hours earlier! Boy, it was good!

Well, it was close, but I got something in here before the day ended. But who's up but me to read it? You can read two tomorrow, it won't kill you.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Lovely Birds, But Stupid As Rocks

There’s an ornamental birdhouse under my patio roof and near the back door that I would have thought too busy and too noisy an area to attract any nesting birds. Yet there’s a pair of Carolina wrens, one of my favorite birds, building a nest out there while I watch through the glass storm door. I guess they’re not too smart (what birds are?) or else just wildly determined. Sometimes they pause at other spots on the patio and look around like they think they’re being careful, then move to a second and maybe a third spot before flying into the birdhouse. Maybe they get in there and they’re breathing hard and thinking, “Boy, did I fool them, nobody saw me, pant-pant!” Lord, they’re lovely birds, but they’re stupid as rocks about some things. I hope they don’t give up (a pair started, but quit after only 2 days last year). I hope they increase the number of wrens. I hope they sing their hearts out and I get to hear it all for weeks to come. My pocket notebook says the young birds take 14 days to incubate, 14 days to fledge (get wings enough to fly away). Since the nest isn’t finished, yet I should have a month of them hanging around if they don’t turn chickenshit and leave. I saw the bluebirds do that last year—build an excellent nest, then desert it. And who knows why. But this is a good thing so far.

Sunday, March 14, 2004


Critics of blogsters everywhere should be aware of this admonition from a writer of a different era:

"He who peeps through a hole may see what will vex him." H.G. Bohn

Finishing The Book

Now have I stood with Hawkeye and Chingachgook over the body of Uncas and wept for the last of the Mohicans. A long adventure and a sad ending.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Never Mind The Ebb

Never mind how low the ebb was this morning. Now it's elevenish at night and the work on the homepage is done. I tested it before I put it on the web and again after I got it there. If it glitches, I'll have a seizure. But I think it's okay. So, Hooray, if only for a minute or two!

I've been staring at it so intensely and so repeatedly that I can't tell how it looks any more. It used to look good before I got sick of it. Let fresh eyes see it now. Or I hope they do. Counter, do your stuff--take their names and fingerprints, write down where they live. In this instance, I don't care about privacy rights! They can have their civil rights back later after I've calmed down. John Ashcroft's in the hospital just now, so if I violate a few souls' dainty feelings, I'm really just taking up the slack. When he gets out, I'll jump back on your side, and we'll march and carry placards. If he doesn't come out, well... I'm sure Bush can find another one just like him. There's never been a shortage of oppressive men who want to "clean things up". Oops, I was talking about web pages. Can't resist a tirade, no matter how incidental or passing.

Low Ebb

Burbling is at low ebb this not very early morning. Maybe I'll come back after I shake the sand from my brain. I've been awake a while, it just hasn't done much good. Stayed up late again (3:30) working on my latest Homepage transformations. I can't believe I've learned so much and know so little. Nonetheless, the next changes to Southern Exposure involve tables within tables and presumably look better. The old form didn't (doesn't) look bad, though, and someone may in fact prefer it. But before anyone can like or dislike it, I have to finish this thing I'm working on in the dark in the middle of the night! I worry that the diatribes are too long, but don't have much luck shortening them. Well, that's what The Rat Squeaks is for, if somebody wants stuff that's short. I like the short stuff, too. I like writing short stuff so much that sometimes it becomes long stuff. So, maybe I better stuff it now before this becomes a book. I don't seem to be talking about much, anyway, do I?

Obla da, obla la how the life goes on...

Friday, March 12, 2004

I Can't Keep Up

I can’t keep up. I know I’m supposed to write a sensible tell-all of some kind for my blog and I haven’t done it yet. A list of 100 things or more or any kind of About Me section to get you acquainted with me. Maybe I will yet. So far, I just hit the ground running. Running and stumbling. I can always write, so once I was registered with Blogger I just started writing, without plan or method. Still, the first thing I’d have to tell you would be I’m the kind of person who’d tell you that you’d come to know me best through my writings than by knowing what I like to eat, see, buy, steal, plunder, dandle, crank, wheel, drive, drink, dribble, drain, draw, give, take, lick, flick, fix, imitate, evaluate, etc. Or maybe not. Maybe I'm wrong. But in any case, I’m not even able yet to meet an early deadline on this demanding ratbastard blog, so the whole About Me project is too ambitious for me at present. I’ve seen lots of people Drag Around and fool around on their new blogs—guess I’m just another of them.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

I Don't Know

I don't know if this counter is a good idea or not. Now I KNOW when there's no one there. I think even my friends are thinking, How can they miss me when I won't go away? Site Meter--the true paranoid's friend. Well, a companion. I thought The Doors said that "music is your only friend"--but as it ends up, it's the Counter. C'mon, buddy, let's go have a drink. We'll burn some leaves and scratch our behinds (you got one?) and talk about the weather. We'll say, "Have another hit," and we won't mean pot. Nothing like that. Just junkies for another counter infusion.

Well, you folks go on now...we'll just be hanging around the fire barrel here, waiting for another hit... There's only 9 billion web pages, somebody will get back around to us soon. It's bound to happen. Don't you think, buddy? Buddy? BUDDY! Goddamn it, even the counter's slipped away!

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

The Great Google Where's-My-Homepage Search

This is weird--after waiting a month, my Homepage finally showed up on a Yahoo search, thusly:

SOUTHERN EXPOSURE - Diatribes And Dreams, Alarms And Beauty
SOUTHERN EXPOSURE. Diatribes and Dreams, Alarms And Beauty. Rush Like Mad To Bottom. Last Update To Site: 03/03/04. Additional Links - Things You've Missed. Southern Exposure #007-February 11, 2004. Diatribe 02/11/04. EMMONS: Equilibrium of Lily Pads - 13k - Cached

Somebody's search engine is working. I mean, their index is. I understand Yahoo's index is run by Google, but Google itself still can't find it! That's the left brain not connected to the right brain, if you ask me! I don't know what's going on. At the same time, though this blog was findable yesterday on Google, now it seems not to be, and seems to be findable on Yahoo only as some words in the Southern Exposure homepage.

But the fact that the blog has disappeared from Google makes me wonder if these things are stable. It makes me wonder if I am. I wonder if both will keep dropping in and out of the index? Maybe they're just not "stable" yet. I'll hope for that. Well, still, it was exciting to see the Homepage show up after waiting a month. But it may disappear tomorrow.

"This may all be a dream," someone said.

"Oh, yeah?" God said. "Try this for a dream, you silly twit," and gave the twit a toothache.

Excuse me, I have to go Search for my Rat.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

I Was Number 13

I was number 13; the rest of you are now safe. I have turned off myself on the Site Meter, so if you had any doubt, I now proclaim the rest of you aren't me. A shame, but true.

Leaves, Hawkeye, 2 Wolves, 1 Sheep

I mowed and I weeded and there’s STILL leaves to get out of the ditch. There’s no end to this stupid stuff. I can't stand it. Change horses.

If I ever again want to be a card-carrying member of respectable book-reading society, I have GOT to finish this damn book. I checked out “Last of the Mohicans” for three weeks, then renewed it for another three and now I’m on the last 3 days of that. Surely, I can finish it now. I’ve read bigger books from start to finish in 2 or 3 days in the past. So what’s the holdup? Is the book no good? It’s the best book I ever took forever to read, that’s all I can say. (I LOVE Hawkeye, and I don't mean the one on MASH.) In the same approximate time since starting the book, I started learning HTML and writing a homepage and now I’ve started this blog, so it’s not that I’ve utterly misspent my leisure time. I’m just over-extended for a lazy man, that’s all. So, all dreck aside, my clever thought for the day (below) is somebody else’s:

"Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on lunch." Anonymous

Monday, March 08, 2004

Dead Lonesome

This is getting dead lonesome. Without Index, apparently, there is No Life As We Know It...

Leaves and Grass

After a day like this, I always want to say that I’ve never raked so many leaves in my whole life, though the truth is merely that I haven’t raked so many since this time last year. It’s disgusting. Where I live, we can get away with burning yard debris, though I burn it in a barrel to keep things small and manageable. At times, this works well enough, but this day’s load of leaves just won’t burn fast enough and the reserve pile keeps getting bigger and bigger. Maybe I should bag up all this excess and put it out for the garbage truck tomorrow. But I’m sick and tired of these leaves for today, so do I pay the price today or pay it later? What’s the twisted old adage? Never put off for tomorrow what you can put off tomorrow? Animals don’t have this sense of delay, I don’t think; if it’s worth doing, they do it. But then, neither do they have to do very much planning, either. I plan to hang around like a lazy dog for the rest of the day and maybe tomorrow too. Oh, no, I have to mow and use the Weedeater, tomorrow! Damn those plans.

Somebody Else's Wisdom

"It isn't really time or space that separates people, but states of mind."
-- Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Something About the Charlie Chaplin Movie, “Monsieur Verdoux”

One can owe the bank, the company store, one’s soul, a friend, a favor, and so on…but it’s a little overwhelming to wake up every day and realize you owe your insistent Blog another offering! So here’s something for today that was already written.

Mini-Drama About the Charlie Chaplin Movie, “Monsieur Verdoux”

He wandered through the living room where his girlfriend was watching TV, got a Coke in the kitchen, and paused as he passed again. He listens to the actors on the screen.

"I was in love," the woman said."

"You were physically attracted?"

"It was more than that," she said.

"It's funny," he told his girlfriend, "how people sometimes say 'more' when what they really mean is that it was less than physical."

His girlfriend grinned and said, "Get the hell out of here and let me watch my movie."

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Attention Span--What?

A while back I caught the last five minutes of one of the usually pontificating Fox News Analysts in a question and answer period on the public television channel. For once he seemed to be giving some honest answers and I thought he might have been fired when he got back to Fox, but not that I’ve heard so far. They probably know their audience doesn't watch quality programming. One thing the Fox nitwit said was unbelievably interesting, though. He remarked that most news watchers complain about the incessant "crawler text" on the screen (as do I) that lets the network tell 2 and 3 stories or sets of facts at a time over the primary Voice/Picture of the program. He said the theory is that it appeals to the younger generation that grew up playing video games and who MUST have multiple sources of input just to stay awake, much less stay interested. BUT, he remarked casually, there are no numbers of any kind which indicate that young people have been affected and begun to watch news in any larger numbers. The audience for news IS (as it always has been) an older market and though everybody in the industry understands that to be true, none of the butthead executives (all young?) in charge has any interest in dropping all that clutter of text from the screen and thus let the actual news audience be comfortable! What? What?! WHAAT?! He said it, I didn't.


Glue was invented about 1750 and was made from fish. This is why all political alliances and affiliations, whether between parties or within parties, stink so much.

Friday, March 05, 2004

Bird Brained

I LOVE the Carolina wren, I don't know why. I can't even tell the male from the female, but it's small and spritely and seems like an attractive, constantly interested puppy dog. It's always investigating, always being perky. And the songs and sounds it makes are amazing. Nice bird songs--there's one fast one that I characterize as "she's pretty-and-pretty-and-pretty In Pink!" But also variations on that. Also, some repeated grating, nearly-mechanical, vocal sounds that I used to think were insects or frogs until I began to see the birds make the sound. Also, the Internet bird sites play recordings of that weird song trill, just in case I doubted my senses. It's amazing how often bird songs and bird sounds in the back yard have been that energetic little wren.

A GREAT Carolina Wren Site

Thursday, March 04, 2004


It already seems like long ago and far away that Janet Jackson got everyone upset for showing off her nice round brown breast to America. I suppose that a large audience intent on watching intentional acts of semi-limited violence couldn’t help being disturbed by seeing unfamiliar female body parts. I suppose it suggested sexuality to their minds, thus interfering with their otherwise clear thoughts of touchdowns, body blows, and elbows to the groin. I suppose they have a right not to have sex and other dirt jump out at them without warning when they’re watching football; I only wish I could say the same about violence on TV, but it apparently has as sacrosanct a place in American entertainment and advertising as it has in American streets and is seldom objected to. I’d rather see hairy-assed plain-faced people fornicating on TV at all hours of the day and night than to have to keep watching the killing and the near-killing and the voyeuristic pretend-killing that is the actual fare of most television. But that doesn’t make Janet Jackson my hero. She's an idiot!

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

WalMart Scenario

I was amused earlier today by a trio at the Wal-Mart—apparently a young woman had both her husband and father (or father in law) in tow with her to buy some plastic glasses and plates for some kid’s party. They were talking about inane things in loud voices and I avoided them. Later, when I came back to look again, they were still in the same aisle, apparently unable to reach any decision about their purchases and move on. The Daddy of the group had been grumpy when I made my first pass and was now more so. This time I hung around and did my browsing regardless of their presence. This time I could tell that Daddy reeked of alcohol—and plenty of it—though it was only 11 in the morning. He’d gotten an early start. Since Daughter couldn’t make up her mind about the color of the plastic cups, he got sharp with her.

“Well, just get both!” he blurted. “Garbly bargly, this is takin’ all fruffin’ day!”

“Well, I can’t afford to get both colors of everything!” Daughter whined while simultaneously getting the second color of plastic glasses off the shelf.

“Yeah, that’s what I say!” says Husband, coming up from behind, having apparently conducted his own business in a masculine timely manner and smiling like he just had a joint. “Let’s blow this place, dammit!” He was ill tempered at the same time that he was high and good-natured—it’s a redneck thing, I guess. One could begin to see that he was indeed Daddy’s nascent son, just less gruff at present.

They shuffled off at a pretty good pace and were soon gone. With them out of the way, I could tell at a glance that what I was searching for wasn’t anywhere on that aisle. In fact, it turned out that it wasn’t anywhere in the store. It wasn’t anywhere in the next store, either. Of course, at present I can't even remember what I was searching for. Guess it wasn't important.

Eye Care Center


A week or so back, I drove my mother to the eye doctor because she was going to get her eyes dilated while there and wouldn’t be able to drive home. There was a blonde girl at the eye center check-in counter—I don’t know how old she was, but less than 25, I think. I made a mild joke about the biography I brought with me and she didn’t get it. I turned the book cover so she could see it better and she just stared at it and me like we were bugs. Or like SHE was blind. Then I realized that she just didn’t know who Helen Keller was. I told her who Keller was, but apparently, to her, there was nothing amusing about me reading a book about a bind woman in the eye care clinic. She didn’t even politely smile at the client’s dumb joke, as used to be the proper form for an Employee in an American business. Are all young people such morons—or, if not that, are they just utterly and yet unspeakably uninformed like they went to school and did nothing but fart and breathe deep all day?! I guess they were all daydreaming about being rock and rap stars. Jeez.