Saturday, July 31, 2004

Trivial Notes About Judy Garland Blues

Some of you may not give two fart-bubbles in a bathtub about poetry in general or about my poetry blog in particular. If you do sometimes like my poetry blog, Judy Garland Blues, then this post is for you. Short, but for you. Are you short? Never mind, you don’t have to be. Trust me, I’m never wrong.

I have long resisted putting Comments on jgblues just because I’m cranky and I figured you could leave comments on The Rat Squeaks. My reasoning may have been faulty, though. I don’t know why, but hardly anyone has ever done so. Many people are extraordinarily lazy and may only do what’s easy. This might help them, if there is anyone reading jgblues, something that I cannot really prove. In any case, I’ll never know until I try it. So, for those of you with Commenting in your blood, but who are too out of breath or too dignified to hopscotch among the blogs, you can now leave a comment directly on the poetry blog.

There are some illogical drawbacks to this Blogger-brand system of comments I’m adding to Judy Garland Blues. The main advantage is to me—it notifies me via email when someone leaves a new comment. If this works, I may later change the comments on this blog. It’s getting to where I have too many posts to keep checking back to see if some new reader has left a message for me on an old post. Yet I want my messages!

See what I mean? Big deal, right? Utterly trivial. And not so short, either. I didn't want you to know this, but I am frequently wrong.

Friday, July 30, 2004

The Caught In The Closet Contest

Hateful Gutter Mouth

I sometimes hear bloggers worrying about or at least discussing the possibility of being Discovered on their blog. They don’t mean discovered by fame, like some hunk of a Hollywood hopeful being discovered by a famous director at a gay beach or like a curvaceous blonde in a bikini on a new TV show trying to stick her tongue down an Amish boy‘s throat while she gropes for his wool-clad woodie. No, bloggers are worried (or ought to be) about being discovered by the people that they talk about—people from work, the neighbors, their relatives, etc. All those people who Never suspected you were THIS hateful or that you had SUCH a gutter mouth!

Colonel Alzheimer

I wonder how many people are discovered at all by anyone of any sort. Now I have a few readers, I know that. But, to the best of my knowledge, I have not yet accidentally been stumbled across by any former girlfriend, long-lost relative, previous neighbor, or friend from the distant past who owes me money or to whom I owe money. It may be that I don’t talk about enough people, or make fun of them enough when I do—I’m not sure. But at any rate, I have not yet raised the dead or offended any of the fuckheads that I’ve worked with. Oops. Well, at least I didn’t name anybody. I could have mentioned The Colonel, you know. Oops. You probably think that’s a fake name, but he’ll know who he is. If he doesn’t yet have Alzheimer’s disease, I mean.

I’ll Bust Your Windshield

If you have any such story and are not greedily saving it for your own blog, write to me about it. If someone showed up out of the blue and got in contact with you due to your blog, I want to hear about it. I’m interested, whether it was “Hiya, buddy, how are you?” or “You shithead, I’ll find you and bust your windshield with your head!”

I don’t know if there are many such stories, but if there are, I’ll print them. If there’s only one, I’ll print the whole slobbering thing. If there are none, I may consider fabricating one. But I’m very curious about the real ones.

In Flagrante Delicto

I once knew a fellow who told me a story about a mutual friend of ours named Murphy who was found to be “missing” at their place of work one day. For some reason they needed to find him right away and after a search that must’ve gotten very detailed, Murphy was discovered masturbating like a feral monkey in one of the office supply closets. That’s called “in flagrante delicto” [Medieval Latin, "while the crime is blazing".] These days, it means being caught red-handed—in my context, of course, red-faced, too.

If being “discovered” on your blog by people you’ve talked badly about would embarrass you that much, then for the love of Christ don’t write those things! But you can send such stories to me and I’ll print them without attribution. I have no shame, especially not about the things that you and your friends have done!

You Screwed What?!

Even if you don’t have a blog, send me your embarrassing Story Of Discovery and I’ll print it. What the hell do I care? Of course, I won’t name names. If it happened to you, don’t say so—claim that it happened to your brother Claudius or your sister Parvenu. That’ll work. Unless your siblings read MY blog, in which case you’ve screwed the pooch.

Nobody Loves Me, But I’ll Pretend You Do

This probably won’t get many responses, though. I never get much response when I ask readers to give me feedback or take any actions. All but a handful of my readers seem to be dull as dishwater. Well, at any rate, I strive to inspire, amuse, or provoke, mostly to no avail, and that’s all I can do.

Stories of Discovery

What’ll we call this thing? How about The Caught In The Closet Contest? Now, remember, though, I’m soliciting stories about being Discovered in the broad sense, not particularly stories about masturbation. I just like to write “masturbation” repeatedly in public, that’s all. I should have been a grafitti writer in some great American metropolitan city, I guess, though I think they use some other less polite words for that Private Act. I don’t require that you do or don’t use euphemisms. Be sure to change the real names or else warn me not to use real names, if I know you. Trust me, said the spider to the fly…

See "Baby Tiger Ignoring Water", another SURPRISE NATURE PHOTO

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Just A Poem

Today I have just a poem, but a poem that has long meant much to me. It meant a lot to me at the beginning, but I have now worked on it so long in pencil drafts and typewriter drafts and computer drafts that there is no telling if it is really the 15th version or the hundredth and no telling if I love it because it's good or because it's sucked my brain and soul out now and then for the past 28 years. It was once very much about a particular woman--these days, I'm not so sure if that's still the case. I remember her, of course, but not as well as I once did. These days, I remember the woman in the poem better. I don't know if that's good or bad. I suspect it's now a matter of indifference. The only thing of importance to you is if the poem is any good.  
Read a poem

my etiolated poetry blog for new & used poems

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Nitwit's Review of Silas Marner

I don't know how I missed reading George Eliot's book "Silas Marner" in school. I've been thinking it was one of those classics that they teach in high school, but if that's true and if I did read it then, I'd forgotten every bit of it by now. Perhaps some people would say, "Lucky you!"

It was a Steve Martin movie that I saw on TV last year called, "A Simple Twist Of Fate" that led me to read it at long last. After seeing the movie, I read that the story line was based on the classic George Eliot novel. I don't know much about comic Steve Martin's serious side, but this is at least the second time he's made a movie of a classic novel. The other, a modern version of Cyrano De Bergerac renamed "Roxanne", was comic, as you'd expect from him, but the Silas Marner movie, as I recall, was pretty straightforward. I liked both of those movies, though neither was perfect.

Not Much To Say

I had thought I might write a review of the next book I read and that I liked. I find now that, though I liked the Silas Marner book, I start this review feeling that I won't find much to say about it. I'd recommend it to any of my friends who usually enjoy this sort of thing and to none of my friends who don't. There are no shootouts or car chases—even the horse race and a ruined horse are not depicted in much hot detail. There's no fisticuffs, love scenes, or other rollicking events. Every detailed thing I can say about the book seems likely to dissuade anyone from reading it. Yet it's a well-written book with clear observations and intelligent phrases all through.

Hey, Where's The Trash And The Sensationalism?

Now that I've read Silas Marner, I see that Hollywood changed the story some—when do they not change the story?—adding a bit more "drama" to suit the modern taste. I guess all of the book could be said to have had rather less drama, "impact" or "sizzle" that modern tastes prefer.

Like many other books, Silas Marner wasn't written in a time of "ultra" anything. It was written by a woman who was very liberated for the times—she lived with a married man (unable to obtain a divorce) for many years, for instance—who, as an author, found it advisable to maintain the illusion that she was a man in order not to ruin her book sales. I have been told by friends that some of her other writings depicted more daring or more improper situations than this one, but there's no unmarried fornicators or sinners in this book.

The one bit of intrigue or suspense is in the knowledge that the hero, formerly a miser caring only for his wealth, has lost his riches and then "saved himself" from his despair by the adoption of a child who is no relation to him. The reader knows whom the father of the child is and that the father is nearby. We know it's something awful hanging over Silas Marner's head all the time, though Silas does not know it. Something will happen—any reader would know it—and it cannot bode well. In the reader's eyes, the more adjusted and normal the former hermit becomes, the more normalized his relation to society becomes and the more his love for the adopted girl grows, the larger the cloud over him seems to looms. Silas has far more to lose now than when he had his poor man's treasure, his bag of gold.

The child's real father is morally weak, but he is rich, and anyone who isn't rich can see what's wrong with that picture and what will eventually be threatened. This spoiled rich man will declare himself and demand his child. What happens to the reader is that, though we know where it all leads, the closer we get to it, the more we abhor the possibility of the impoverished but happy father and daughter being deprived of their treasure, which is one another. Jeez, I sound like a set of Cliffs notes.

Tell Me, Tell Me, Tell Me The Answer

Though there are other characters and situations woven through this, the above is the crux of the tension in the book, the thing we wait to see resolved, the one we wade through other elements to see played out. It keeps the reader curious and anxious to know the end of it. As with Charles Dickens' writing and other older fiction, there are characters and scenes that poke along slowly as if we have nothing better to do in the world—which of course, readers of that time didn't, having no TV, movies, telephones, etc. on which to piss away the moments of their lives. A modern reader, however, does have to fight a sense of irritable hurry. I found I had to skim a little to keep from falling asleep, but only paragraphs here and there, not whole pages or chapters.

It is a curiosity to be a little enthralled by a book we have every reason to consider apt to be boring. All the talk of the rural characters, backwoodsy even at the time that George Eliot wrote it, is even more so now. Slow characters, when written, create some very slow conversations. But there's a good story and a good writer at work behind it all—you don't quite know what's going to happen until very near the end, even though you know every fact before the end!

I'm glad I got around to reading this book at last. So, thanks, Steve Martin, you big jerk!
a 4800-word story, somewhat comic, somewhat not, located in
a short story blog for all the Lost And Found of this world.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read."— Mark Twain

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

New Post, Ineffectively

Here's a new post so that you can fill the comment section with complaints about how this isn't a real post. I'm working on something new, however ineffectively. I am! But don't hold your breath.
Some of you probably don't want to hear another word about my Yahoo. In brief, I'll just say that if you have an overwhelming desire to write me @yahoo, you can. It seems to be operating normally now.
Hey, here's a baby in a frog suit from Surprise Family Photo. You can't get much cuter than this. I wish I had a frog suit!

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Got Dem Storm Door Blues Again!

Jesus, I hate home maintenance! It’s not as if I take on major projects. I’ve got hell again with my storm door. I made a long loud whining story out of it in emails to my friends when I was installing it a year or more back now, long before I began to blog. Oh, boy, I get to bitch about storm doors all over again.

Now that wonderful New door won’t close far enough to it to latch most of the time. I fiddled with the screw on the door closer rod that controls how fast the door closes and, as I expected, it made little difference—not to the job of latching—not unless I let it slam like a bastard. I figure maybe the doorsill’s swollen, just as the wooden door at this location was some weeks back, and the soft narrow plastic at the bottom of the storm door is making too much contact. The wooden sill is, I guess, slowing the door too much before it can latch.

Unhappily, the door sill is Way Down There and my knees and knee caps can’t take the punishment long enough to get enough work done with the planer and sandpaper. I’m down and up again within just a few minutes, my knees and knee caps hurting so much that I’m afraid if I don’t get up right then, I never will. I’m no expert with the planer—this is in fact my second task learning how to use it as I use it. It took me 3 tries to get as far as I did, and I expect it’d take 2 or 3 more to make a sufficient difference. But I’m afraid to get back down on my knees any time soon. I can picture myself unable to rise and then just rolling over on my side and panting and hoping that the neighbors aren’t nosy and laying there for half a day until I can rest enough to try again, either to get up and slink away or else to plane a little more and go through this goddamn hell again. Just at this moment, I don’t expect to hit another lick unless someone threatens to kill me!

The last time I crawled back up off the concrete it seemed as if the door closed a little better, but that still isn’t good enough to call it fixed. If it latches only sometimes, that’s not a storm door to brag about. Maybe I should’ve just said Fuck It and waited for the weather to change. Let’s see, wouldn’t things tend to dry up and swell less when winter gets here? If that’s not true, just nod at me as if it is. Lie like a dog if you have to, I need some encouragement.
post script: The door now sometimes closes enough that it can latch itself. Until it gets worse, I’m declaring that it's an improvement, a repair! Sufficient Unto The Day Is The Evil Thereof! I’m through with it!

Friday, July 23, 2004

Gmail's Defunct

Gmail's defunct, or at any rate, my Great Giveaway is. I gave away 3 of the Gmail invitations to the 3 first comers, now there are no more. Not only did they not dance for me, I get the impression that they will now not say thanks. Some of them said thanks beforehand, though, and maybe that was their form of "dancing" for it. I really should have limited it to Bloggers, but I didn't want to change horses (the rules, I mean) in mid-stream. I seldom have any rules, that's why I seldom make any sense. Still, bloggers would have made it more fun, for they are more full of shit and more inclined to fun than the average person with an email address. I'm never satisfied, you notice that?  Anyway, there's no more loot, so all you marauders from outside the Blogosphere go back where you came from.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Bob Dylan, Same Old Song

I had forgotten all about this old Bob Dylan anti-war song until reminded of it by the political blog Legal Fiction. I guess this 1963 song proves that not much has changed in 40 years. God damn it. If you don't want to read an anti-war song, I don't care, go play with your Condi Rice doll. And quit doing all that weird stuff with her—keep your hands in plain sight at all times and stop trying to stick your pencil in one of her ears and out the other!

Gmail Invitation

Though I am not overly fond of Gmail because of their small plain-text approach and wish they'd do better, I have used it. I have a couple of the Gmail invitations that I would not resent you using. If you crave one of the stupid things, let me know and I'll send you the invitation. Try to sound sincere. Dance for it, beg a little, or otherwise convince me you're not harvesting the Internet for them in order to just resell them. I glanced around and saw that they're selling for as low as a buck, so you'll have to harvest a lot of them to make the endeavor worth a shit. Obviously you need to leave your current email address on Comments here or email me at the Ratchere. Email me anywhere you like, but only 3 or 4 of them will work.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

The Elusive Three-Dollar Hat

Ten, even five, years ago, I'd never have thought I'd be wearing this cornpone unfashionable inelegant three dollar hat, much less that I'd own three of them and wish I could buy another one or two. When I first started wearing it, I bent the front of the brim artfully down, but I soon found that this stylish shaping of the brim was in the way of my binoculars when I was birdwatching. That was the end of the down-turned brim. I did try for a while to turn it up-down and down-up, but it was ultimately too much trouble. I'm sure there's actors my approximate age who are still very vain—handsome guys like Harrison Ford maybe—but unfamous and fat lazy creatures such as myself have begun to lose contact with such notions of beauty. I might be fairly good-looking to someone who knows and likes me, but I'm no fool. This is it and it's been this way a long time and my appearance can only get worse as times goes on.

Better To Just Look Like A Fool Than Be One, Too

Therefore, screw the hat brim, I can't be bothered to keep track of whether it's up or down. If it's up and out of the way of my binoculars, that's convenient. If, when there are no birds to watch, I look a fool or—lord forbid!—unfashionable or uncouth, what do I have to lose? I know the hat's not cool. I'm not cool. Any hat that might conceivably be cool on me would either be more expensive or less comfortable or both. I don't need that.

Bucket On My Head

Still, that's not to say that I don't have some sense of style. I wouldn't wear a bucket on my head. When it came time for me to buy a new hat, I wanted one just like the other one. The new one was the same light color as the first. Twins. I washed the first one and it turned into a frumpy crumpled looking thing even though I ironed it. It makes a good hat in which to mow the grass. A third one, a darkish blue, was for winter. I say that, but actually that was the only color they had in the right size at that time. Recently I wanted to replace the newer, but no longer new, light colored hat because the inner hatband was so dirty. I guess I should have bought a boxcar of the $3 hats at Wal-Mart when I could, for my local one has morphed into a Super Wal-Mart, and they carry some other sort of light-weight hat—they cost more and they're uglier. What's more, they're shapeless and have no brim that can be turned up at all; they're just sloppy beach hats, wilted all the way around.

In Pursuit Of Low-Budget Panache

Now what? Maybe I'll buy a can of spray starch and see how respectable I can make this older crumpled one. Maybe with the spray and an iron, I can make it look good, then I can wash the newer ones and spruce them up and avoid buying another hat for a year or two. Maybe by then, I'll stumble across other hats I like.

There are some other Wal-Marts in the area—God knows how many. I'm in one of the smallest towns in the area and we have a Wal-Mart, so there's bound to be half a dozen more! How many miles will I put on my car, how many dollars will I spend, searching the planet for a Wal-Mart that still carries a certain bla-bla-bla kind of cheap boring hat? Seems like a lot of trouble to go through for a $3 accoutrement, doesn't it? But I don't like to change my habits very much. I once bought the same brand and model of work shoes 3 times in a row over a period of about a dozen years because they were Perfect. At last, the local store went out of business and even hours spent on the Internet couldn't locate the same shoes. God, I just hate it when Persistence doesn't pay off.

If I can't find the Perfect Hat, I'll just go back to never wearing a hat. I'll work in the sun and barbeque my forehead and steam my brain. People will whisper together as I pass by, but I'll take no notice.

"He used to wear a hat!" one of them will whisper and the other one will nod sagely as they increase their pace, eager to get out of the sun.
"I snow you—you're that damn golfer who insisted that I drink with him last night!"

A complaint from Surprise Nature Photo

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Another Surprise Photo

A cousin of mine who golfs emailed me today in a language that looked like it might be English and reminded me of this photo at Surprise Family Photo of a drunk golfer who had wandered just a little off the fairway.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Don't Go In The Water

I'm twitchy about going in the water. I'm sorry, but it's true. As an adult, I always have been, though I did used to go swimming in ponds, creeks, and oceans until my early twenties. I can swim, though I'm not great at it. (Well, I guess I still can!) I haven't been in the water whatsoever since the movie Jaws came out in 1975. That seemed like a pretty good excuse to me to make my abhorrence of water a formality and I've stuck to it. Well, there are fresh-water sharks as well as the salt-water kind! I saw it on TV.

I Hate The Water

I was never comfortable in the water, anyway. As much as I don't care for making special trips to be in the water, I dislike even more the aftermath of standing around dripping. Even after I bathe, I'm never comfortable again until I get dry. I love a shower, but I hate it that drying off is such a lengthy process. I have to be careful not to burn my head off with the hair blower, trying to get my hair dry. I am moderately interested in my hair looking presentable, but mainly I just want it to Get Dry, dammit!

The same is true after I've been working too hard—meaning any work, of course. Sweating is a little annoying while I'm still working, but seems to get worse when I stop. In summer, I generally try to stop and take a break by the time beads of sweat drip down my nose, off my fingertips, or into my eyes. But as soon as I do stop, it's just a total misery. I'm wet, I'm overheated, and it's disgusting. If I am rained on and then find myself standing under some shelter, dripping wet—yeah, you got it, uncomfortable again. Things work out best if I have a complete change of clothes. Otherwise it seems as if my body temperature will never adjust. I know other people who are like this, though I don't know that they moan about it like I do.

Never Mind Being Reborn

Some have accused me of not having enjoyed the birth experience. All that wetness. My first response to that is usually to think, "As if I could remember that!"

But I guess it could be. Maybe I didn't enjoy leaving my comfort zone—yeah, that could be it! A pathological response! And I don't want to stand around feeling wet and being reminded of it all. That could be. I have no very deep view of it. If you do, have at it—philosophize to your heart's content.

Meanwhile, I prefer being clean, dry, and comfy. The only wet slipperiness I ever like is sex. I won't go into detail about that—I figure you either do or you don't already know enough about that. I wouldn't want to shock you or make you sick. Some people can't handle the truth. Who said that? Jack Nicholson said it, of course, although for once he wasn't even talking about sex. I'd go get a better quote to support my theory, but I'm too lazy, and besides, your attention is already wavering. I can tell. I have x-ray vision; I know when I've bored someone to tears.

Whether you like it or not, here is a family of swans, who love the water, brought to you by Surprise Nature Photo.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Guest Poet: Theodore Roethke

In a Dark Time
  By Theodore Roethke

In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;
I hear my echo in the echoing wood--
A lord of nature weeping to a tree,
I live between the heron and the wren,
Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.

What's madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance? The day's on fire!
I know the purity of pure despair,
My shadow pinned against a sweating wall,
That place among the rocks--is it a cave,
Or winding path? The edge is what I have.

A steady storm of correspondences!
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,
And in broad day the midnight come again!
A man goes far to find out what he is--
Death of the self in a long, tearless night,
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.

Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire.
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,
Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.
The mind enters itself, and God the mind,
And one is One, free in the tearing wind.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Ya-poo-hoo, Grave Digger, Etc.

I went to the library so that I could sign onto Yahoo and see what those four emails were that were just beyond my grasp at home.

The First Email

There’s some fucked-up reunion dot com whose mail keeps getting through to me no matter what. I’d designated it as Spam and I’d blocked it—at least I thought so. Today I did both. Perhaps Yahoo owns it and plans to instead escalate the assault and break into my home tonight and cram it down my throat or up my ass while I sleep—I wouldn’t put it past them. They have no interest in me other than driving me crazy, I’m certain of that.

The Second Email

This was a letter from my cousin. Knowing my email troubles, he has now apparently determined to send his messages to all my email addresses at once. A lot of trouble, but not a bad solution, really. I will sort this out soon, I hope, whether I get Ya-poo-hoo working or not. You know Ya-poo-hoo, don’t you? I think it’s an old Indian word for “I shit on you”. I think that’s it. Did I mention that I am still in a bad mood about this?

The Third Email

The third email was yet another Site Meter summary, telling me how few hits I’ve had on my Southern Exposure site for the week. For a short while after Dances-Fast-While-Juggling Tricia danced me around in a tutu on her blog, woodnotwood, her adherents (or maybe it was just her) came round in twos and threes and moved me up a notch to an average three per day. Dances-Fast-While-Juggling is another Indian name—I think it’s a translation of Kowabunga. Tricia doesn’t say, I’m just venturing my own guesses.

On this summary emailed to me today, I see the count is back down to two per day. I don’t know if Southern Exposure is long for this world. I wonder what it does that I can’t do on TRS? It was my intention to write, after all, not merely to decorate with clever boxes and colors and wiggles and squiggles. I’ve already been informed by one professional web site designer that my sites are circa 1996 ho-hum configurations, somewhat confirming for me how wasteful it sometimes is to attach too much importance to the whole visual concept. I do spend more time on the articles on Southern Exposure and that presumably produces a slightly greater quality of writing—but I could spend the time on Rat Squeaks articles instead, couldn’t I? Well, I’m just thinking in circles here. I haven’t decided anything.

Sayonara From Ze

The fourth email was from everyone’s compañero Ze, the former grave digger of blogging fame. He remarked that I’d been reading him from near the beginning and was surprised to find me still reading as it ended. It was a nice note, and I was glad to get it. Nonetheless, isn’t it strange about people’s sense of time? It seems to me that he hasn’t been at it very long yet, but he’s decided that it’s been not only a long time, but too long! It’s actually been only about four months. Which brings up a subject of frequent discussion among bloggers—when will we cease to blog?

Ze’s answer: What blog? He has gone on to other things.

My answer? You talkin’ to me? You want my answer? Here it is:


Or maybe next year, whichever comes first or whichever dances well.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Love and Hate Among the Email

I thought Yahoo had improved and was done with its problems, but that was not the case. Oh, it will spend a couple of minutes making minute grunts and the progress bar will grow by millimeters as if it is about to load itself, but it's not true. None of that is happening. All it's doing is killing time until it's time to say "Page cannot be displayed". What a peculiar damn phrase that is, I must say. It's accurate, yet informs you of nothing. There's no analysis going on, it's just how it says, "I give up."

My Yahoo has given up so many times the past couple of weeks that I'm getting bored with the whole thing. This time, my IP takes no blame, but says it must be the phone lines. I think they're full of shit, but who knows? I'm certainly not going to call the phone company about this obscure bit of trouble. It'll have to get worse before I do that. And, in fact, if no other part of the Internet starts failing to load, I'm going to switch to one of these plain-text piece-of-shit email systems that the world so loves, possibly even Gmail. But, big deal. The main thing for you to know, should you be someone who emails me now and then, is this:

Do not send me email at Yahoo!

There's a couple of emails at Yahoo now, but I can't get at them. So email me at the same ratsouthern you know and love, except at or at

Myself, I'm going to go get drunk.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

A Slapdash Modern Lit Course

I've been reading John Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath" lately. When I was a younger reader, I'd have gobbled it up within a week, for it's a great read, but I'm slower now, not inclined to read for hours at a time as I used to. It's a very good book, and all the more so for having been written in 1939. I remember when I was younger and just becoming a voracious reader—it seemed like all the books I could find were exceedingly square and inhibited and bowdlerized.

Henry Miller and Pollyanna

Naturally, so much conformity and censorship made me steer even more willfully toward things like Henry Miller (whose books, I believe, weren't even legal in America until a few years after I'd begun to hear about him) and any other naughty old or new literature as soon as I could find them. D.H. Lawrence was more interesting then, for nowadays he's only a good writer and doesn't seem like a very great sensualist or shocker at all any more. Grove Press was always a little interesting, of course. I'm not sure who published it, but I remember being impressed by a book called City of Night, written by John Rechy. I found the paperback at a newsstand and bought it just because it looked like it was different. Published in 1963, it's about male prostitution, a subject I'd barely heard of then, much less had I read any accounts. I thought, "Well, I knew there was another side to all this Walt Disney Pollyanna stuff."

The Square Stuff And The Bad Stuff

I like the square literature, too, but one gets tired of such a wide world of people who don't seem to live in reality. It looks suspicious to anybody with a mind—even a young mind—when authors evade ALL the bad stuff. The door was always closing on things or the lights going out just before the Oouu-Ahh! Nobody was followed for the length of a single sentence into the bedroom or the bathroom. On the violence front, I felt gruesomely lucky if I stumbled across any but the most obscure description of chickens being killed and plucked on the farm. Bad things didn't happen in the front room, on the front page, or anywhere near the children.

The Naked And The Dead

I remember when I finally got around to reading "The Naked And The Dead" by Norman Mailer (published 1948, the year I myself was published). I didn't read it until about 5 years ago and I was surprised to find how compromised and how bland most of the famous-at-the-time bad language was. Though the book was partly vilified at the time for rough language, as a reader some decades after it was written, I had to remember to look for it or I would have missed it. Apparently it was daring back then to write "fuggin'" as a substitute for the unprintable "fucking". It's a little hard to imagine these days that in a war story for adults, an author had to make his manly (and sometimes savage) characters watch their language to such a degree. But certainly this was a book that made every effort to be honest and realistic, considering the times he was living in and publishing in! Mailer may not even enjoy cussing any more these days, since there's probably no one around to tell him to please curb his tongue.

Big Brass Balls

Charles Dickens had big brass balls in his time, I see now, just to speak as honestly as he did and as often about the poor, the destitute, the dirty hovels of London, the mistreatment of children, the inexorable crookedness of businessmen, and the wickedness of the rich. Still, he wasn't allowed to go very far in other matters and he certainly couldn't just say in "Oliver Twist" that Nancy was a whore. I don't think the word "prostitute" was used, either. It was all inferred, of course. An American child would never even "get it" enough to snigger over it, I don't think, not when I was growing up. I'm not sure that I "got it" myself as a teenager that Nancy's life was a degraded one whether Bill Sikes beat her or not. People who want to protect you from Evil sometimes just end up protecting you from knowing how bad Evil really is. Dickens is still a great author, I think, but like most authors of the past he wrote under some ridiculous strictures.

Émile Zola And The Coalminers

More recently, I got around to reading French author Émile Zola's book "Germinal". Zola, writing 2 or 3 decades after Dickens, was struggling to do so honestly and without being censored into milksop by old ladies and preachers. I never encountered many French writers when I was young, just "English Lit" and American novels. Oh, that American pabulum, it's so tasty!

You know, it's not that "Germinal" is naughty or the slightest bit vulgar; it just doesn't close the doors, doesn't refuse to see what's there, and doesn't pretend everything is okay. "Germinal" wasn't a sissy book. It's a book about impoverished coalminers, labor troubles in the mines, riots, drunkenness, sex, and death. It's a book that confirms that people did more than just sleep in their beds and that people had outhouses as well as houses. It also made sure you knew that good guys don't always win and that sometimes there aren't many good guys. How un-American! Well, he was French.

Grapes Of Wrath

Anyway, I'm reminded of books like those by "Grapes of Wrath", by it's honesty and determination to describe a wide and serious and unrelenting reality. Of course, it's not so much sex or bathroom activities that Steinbeck was honest about, but inhumanity and cruelty and the debilitating and enraging fear of one segment of society by another. That's not so rare a topic here in the 21st century where we can barely escape so-called honest talk about sex and toilets and inhumanity and torture. But when I was an obsessed young reader in the 1960's and wondering where the "real stuff" was, I screwed up badly not to have read Steinbeck's book. (I read other Steinbeck novels, but not this one.)

Maybe back in the mid-sixties, I would have thought it was too late for me to be reading such a "topical" book from 30 years earlier. Now 40 additional years later, I'm surprised at how topical and pertinent it still is. These characters are so real that it just blows my wheels off, even now!

Hate Hasn't Changed

Hate hasn't changed. Fear of "the other"—the stranger and the foreigner—hasn't changed. People who want to beat you down or chase you out of town or ban you from all existence haven't changed. Making pronouncements about how "them others aren't like us, they don't have no values, they're lower than pigs" hasn't ceased. If a fellow isn't "like us", even the President of the United States doesn't have to worry about the suspect's human rights or his civil rights, for we are God's chosen and in an emergency are allowed to temporarily become tyrants and terrorists ourselves. We know where to stop, but they don't—that's the theory.

There is still no more empowering or satisfying feeling, apparently, than banding together with Your Own Kind and treating "the others"—whether niggers, white trash, wops, spics, kikes, Japs, Irish Catholics, gooks, Chinks, or towel-heads—to a good old-fashioned dose of Get-Out-Of-Town.

Once we've cleaned Them out, I'm going to take a harder look at You—you've been acting a little funny lately yourself. You might be a Red or a fairy or an atheist or a freelance freelove oneworld sonofabitch and I just never happened to notice. Bad people are like cockroaches—by God, they're Everywhere and there's too many of them and you can't keep 'em out!

Wait a minute, what was I talking about when I started? There's no law against my going off on just a small tangent, is there?

Some people get tired of their left hand making them awkward and wish they could be normal. But this thing at Surprise Leftie Photo is too extreme a solution! Try to get some help.
Read a sentimental poem written when I was less than twenty called

my pale thin poetry blog for new & used poems

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "Patience, my ass, I'm gonna KILL something!" — From an old poster with a couple of vultures looking down over an empty landscape.

Monday, July 12, 2004


The photo at Surprise Dweeb Photo looks interesting, but I suspect I've been left-handed too long to readjust very much. I wonder if they were serious? I'm not sure I could even readjust for a left-handed mouse, and the mouse was the really difficult thing to learn. I might be able to draw a little better with my left hand, but I don't draw that well with any hand, so who is there to cry about the loss?
Addendum: When I first wrote this, I didn’t recall the most telling detail of my left-handedness in relation to tools. At some point after I turned 40, after hearing about left-handed scissors most of my life, I finally bought a pair. I’ve had them more than 10 years now. You know what? I’ve never gotten used to them. My brain and hand were already inculcated to feel that the shaped-for-righty scissors handles were "correct" and I’ve never been able to retrain myself. I can use the left-handed scissors, but there is in fact no advantage to them. I wish I had my $18 back.
And don't forget, boys and girls, Surprise Dog Photo changes on a brain-addled indeterminate schedule. It's probably changed since you last picked your nose. Why you picked that rather silly one, though, is beyond me.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Yahooey Twooey Two (Addendum)

My Yahoo dysfunction continues madly, but now I can blame someone else. Yes, old Stupid Yahoo is apparently without fault in this case. In reply to my inquiry late yesterday, my IP sent me this brief admission of guilt:

Dear Customer,

The problem with Yahoo is on our end, and our network department is currently working to correct the problem.

The problem still exists, but I can’t blame Yahoo for it any more. What’s even better is that I don’t have to suspect my own hardware and software! I’m going to start blaming stuff on the IP from now on; it might not be accurate very often, but none of my other thoughts have been, either!

Yahooey Twooey

My Yahoo email continues to be unpredictable. Sometimes it loads and runs properly, sometimes it doesn't. I had thought it would resolve itself after a few days, but apparently it won't. A message "sent" to Yahoo via their hard-to-find "contact us" claptrap probably won't be answered. If so, it would certainly be the first time I ever got an answer from Yahoo. If they do reply, they'll probably blame my IP; I've noticed that's what they do in their Online Help in a wild-assed effort to evade all responsiblity for all things.

I'm pretty sure this stuff is small potatoes to you, but it means a lot to me. I don't enjoy having to use Gmail's or EV1 email's plain-text small fonts. Nobody knows where they'll hear from me next, and all of them just hit reply to whatever they're sent. I could be sending from, they wouldn't notice, I'm fairly certain. (Hmmm, let 'em try to harvest that one!)

Most people don't want to be pestered with the details of email. I guess I don't entirely want to deal with petty details, either, except that I do want font options. But I don't like trying to remember to check all the email accounts on a timely basis. I'm not good at always remembering. I'm like anyone else, I want a trouble-free life at no cost and where I don't have to explain myself to anyone. What's wrong with that? Let's see, I had that arrangement right up until…uh, until… Well, I'll look it up and get back to you on that.

Meanwhile, I'm all out of sorts and holding myself together with band-aids and strings and little snippets of song that none can sing. I'm liable to post here on a fairly random basis. I've never far away, and I do have problems other than worrying about a handful of readers. An average of 8 of you per day is not an impressive enough figure to make me either celebrate or pedal faster. I used to celebrate and pedal faster, but… Well what have you done lately anyway to lift my spirits, heal my heart, or fill my coffers?

Ah, well, it's the Internet life, filled with energetic loons and looky-lou bumps on a log. You know who you are!

Spankings, anyone?

Isn't it great when you find out your former mousy 12th-grade home room teacher (like this one at Surprise Family Photo) got in shape only AFTER you'd passed through her class? You know, the one you used to tease so much? She can probably now beat guys like you and me senseless! I wasn't as mean to her as you were, and I think I might enjoy it if she didn't use me to beat you with!

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Welcome to Yahooey

I woke up yesterday morning and my Yahoo was working again. Hallelujah! It was no longer taking 10, 20, 30 minutes per page change. It was no longer only half-loading the pages that did come up-it was leaving out all color and images. Text only took forever to load and whatever link you clicked also took forever. It was a horrorshow of protracted inactivity, yet the few Yahooers I contacted claimed their Yahoo was working okay. It's so great being singled out. It's not as bad as being sick or injured, of course. Still, those of us with the propensity for it can get really Mad about so much crap!

While I was lost in the desert and searching for salvation, I received "help" from one of my more recent Internet friends, an overqualified loon with a blog called Changes in the Glass. Peter commented on my blog that he had a phone number AND an email address for Yahoo, and I got irritated, wondering why I hadn't been able to find it. But when I opened the link it was something else entirely. It DID have an email address and it DID have a phone number, but they were for a site for Yoo-hoo chocolate drink.

Was that a spelling error, you wonder? No, Peter is just wacko. Smart, but apparently wacko. Maybe later we'll discover he killed his baby Easter chick when he was 11. Probably nothing worse than that. Ordinarily I would have been pissed off and plotted to kick his guts out and drag him kicking and screaming up and down the Internet while bouncing on his head—don't ask me how one does that, I'm still perfecting it. Why should this friendly stranger make fun of me while I'm suffering at the hands of the savage monster Yahoo?! But still, I like Yoo-hoo so much, I couldn't help but smile. I barely ever drink them, because they're just thin delicious chocolate water and go down so fast that I'd probably drink a six-pack instead of just one. I can't afford habits like that. Can't afford many more friends like Peter; he's as inconsiderate and peculiar as I am. But at least he's not brain-dead, and that's an attribute I admire in almost anyone.
As I close this good-humored post out at midnight, Yahoo is back to doing what it was doing when it wasn't doing much of anything. Wonder how long this will last? I could just spit.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "If there's anything unsettling to the stomach, it's watching actors on television talk about their personal lives."—Marlon Brando

Monday, July 05, 2004

Don't Drink The Yahoo Water

Though the probability is small that you might have an urgent email for me, I’ll still warn you: it won’t get to me at present. I have other email addresses, such as the one at EV1 but lately everyone's in the habit of writing to the Yahoo address. Yahoo, its head joyfully in the toilet yesterday and today, isn’t working on my computer, though everything else is functioning properly. Yahoo has never had an honest email address—at least not for "free" clients like me and therefore cannot be contacted. If I could get on Yahoo, they have a “Contact us” section that just responds that my question has been passed along.

That sounds good, but I’ve never known them to answer a single question for me or even to send a brief email that says, “We don’t have time to trifle with trash like you.” They treat you like such utter nothing that I would welcome an insult; it would be an improvement in our communication. I wonder if anyone anywhere under any circumstances has talked to or even located Yahoo? Does anyone live down the street from their headquarters so you could tell me where they are? Does Yahoo operate like the CIA-inspired Maxwell Smart? Maybe the Pet Smart shops across America are actually fronts for Yahoo.

I suppose Yahoo will fix itself someday after they get over the patriotic drunken stupor they’re apparently in now. I will then be able to check my inbox again. Meanwhile, this post has been of little note to very few people. Mostly, it just gave me a chance to bellow and complain.

I know a few of you out there use Yahoo. Has yours been working the past couple of days?

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Recalling Hieronymous Bosch

Once upon a time in high school (for me, that’s the Sixties) a friend of mine and I were going to get windbreakers and have some lines from a Bob Dylan song inscribed on the backs. We were loners, but we were together on this. We were misfits, but agreed this was a sufficiently haughty way to express it. Something like that. We never both got sufficient money at the same time to waste any on that project and I eventually saw that we wouldn’t. So I used a laundry marker to write it on the back of my red windbreaker. It was supposed to say,

"In ceremonies of the Horsemen,
Even the pawn must hold a grudge."

I couldn't write that small with the marker and yet keep it legible, so I just used the second line. I must have caught hell for such oddity from schoolmates who seemed to me at the time to belong more to the Fifties than the Sixties, but I don’t remember much of it. I only vaguely recall my own stubbornness and unwillingness to give up the idea. I wouldn’t be much attracted to the idea any more. I never did much follow what later become an almost unconscious fashion trend, shirts and pants bearing various ads, logos, and messages. I don’t want to advertise beer, ball games, Dylan, or Hieronymous Bosch on my person. Maybe on this blog, but that’s the limit.

The friend who was going to go along with me about the song lyrics stayed in touch in varying and then lessening degrees for another 20 years, then drifted away on the breeze. No word in about 15 years now. Long-time friends are great—still, the longer you live, you’ll find, the more holes in time there are for them to disappear into. And for you yourself to disappear into, too.

If I could keep making friends at the rate that the old ones keep falling off the planet, I’d be okay. Instead there are more and more holes, and it’s pretty clear that I’m rapidly losing ground.

p.s. Happy Birthday, July Johnson and George Knaak

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Bubba's Sister

"Most of us sitting at the poker table immediately spilled our beer in our laps or dropped our cards the minute she come in," Daryl said. "We were all hynotized by Bubba's Big Healthy Sister. It happened to us nearly every time and it always embarrassed Bubba like all get-out."

"All of 'em is somebody's sister, I guess," I said.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Disturbing Sights

This Surprise Family Photo is a bit embarrassing. My best friend's former girlfriend always looked like sort of a trashy female to me and when I found her in the back of the bar skootching back and forth rapidly on the floor and panting like this, I thought I was about to get lucky. Turned out that a fire ant had gotten underneath those filmy layers of nothing and she was just trying to squash it without having to disrobe.

Life is interesting, if not always satisfying.
Surprise Nature Photo today is a Dinosaur Man. One of those wacky what-if concoctions. Personally, I could care less, except that it just looks so interesting.