Thursday, March 31, 2005

Grab That Middle-Aged Sweater Girl!

This one's for Larry, who goes crazy for some appliances and some women.

Oreck Air Purifiers and Vacuum Cleaners

The busty middle-aged Oreck Lady on the TV commercials grins her butt off and shills very nicely for the Oreck Man and his phenomenal line of efficient modern devices. Her chest is always so gorgeously framed by her sweaters that at a glance you'd think they were selling sweaters or systems for cleaning and grooming them. But, no, they're selling appliances, as sweater girls often have. Sex and appliances, sex and automobiles—the connection couldn't possibly make more sense, could it!

Look at her—she's respectable, but she's Hot. She's a handsome lady, no doubt about it, but (other than Vanna White) most "display" ladies and "hold-it-up-just-so" models and "point-to-it" eye-candy on TV are a good bit younger. It's good to see another exception—someone in the modern milieu that I can lust after without violating any civic, moral, or artistic standards. Sometimes while the long ads are on the cable channels in the wee hours I find myself wondering what her face looks like—until I remember it's right there in plain sight!

Oh, Venus de Milo, give me enough time and I'll worship your every feature, one by one, even those missing arms!

Oh, no, that's right, I'm dreaming! Ms. Oreck still has her arms, and everything else! Not to mention that ineffably respectable posterior. Those appliance ads don't spend the big bucks on production values, but they have my attention with their over-30 sweater girl! They may be cleaning the carpet dust and the room pollutants and most of the ions in the known universe, but they've missed my dirty mind! Oh, Ms. Oreck, come and get me! Sniff sniff! Bow wow! Wow!

What's an OMP blacklist and why would somebody be denying me access to Haloscan in my own blog as if I was an invader? My first thought is that it's some kind of scam and if so it may be at your door soon. It sounds phony as hell, with some snide remark about how it wouldn't be necessary "if people didn't insist on being stupid", something like that. It claims to be about denying access to some kind of auto-program that tries to leave messages on your comment and it additionally asks you to type in the four letters that can barely be seen in an overlay of lines. If it’s real, it will prove that I’m not a machine, I guess. If it’s phony, it will give them access to my testicles and my bank number. I don't know many Haloscan users any more to test on, though one I found is working properly, so that's all I know.

Later: Comments are working for me again now, so I wonder who or what is joking with me? Will it come back again? I could eat a steel hatchet! I'd rather bury it in somebody's head!

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Black Motorcycle

Overheard While Bored

Surfing around the TV channels repeatedly two days ago, I ran across a preview for some kind of show, apparently about mechanics and fabricators who build their own cars and motorcycles. I paused only long enough to hear a participant named Fess growl out something like this:

"Well, all I know is, I plan to win. A lotta these people around here think that if you build a black motorcycle, it's jinxed, that it can't win a big contest like this one. I'm gonna set them wrong!"

Blink. Pause. I kept waiting for him to grin foolishly and add, "I mean, right!" Or, change it to "Set 'em straight?" But he never did.

I'm sorry to bring it up, but it just reminded me how some people born in America speak the language about as elegantly as a duck or a dog would speak it if they could be taught to vocalize and modulate properly.

Jesus, the above post was hard to deliver today!

Now this loony analysis is longer than the actual post. When I first published it, it was scattered all across the page, back and forth, maintaining the small and large columns, but with the background colors going all the way across instead of staying stage left. This post would fill the right and left side of the screen, then finish, and the next post would do the same. The legitimate sidebar information didn't show up until all the posts had appeared. Etc. I stared and stared, feeling utterly crazy. WHAT could cause that! I studied every Blogger fuckup that's ever occurred to me. I couldn't remember anything quite like this. Besides I couldn't remember any change I'd just made other than adding the new post and it didn't look peculiar in any way. I made a copy of the post, deleted it, and republished it. The fuckup was still there. Thank you, Blogger, you're so sweet.

I couldn't think clearly. I began to think of how it'd be to just have to live with it. After all the bragging I've ever done (to some people) about my html prowess, I would be standing here naked and crippled for the rest of my goddamn blogging life! I looked at posts for the months of February—they were all right, a thing of interest, but that I still cannot explain to you. I went back into Blogger editing and examined the code of the previous post, Mean Mister Mustard. Nothing out of order at the top. I skipped the middle and checked the bottom. I noticed that the link to the song lyrics was incorrect, missing a closing quotation mark at the end of the URL in the link. I've had that cause a problem in the past, and indeed it was my problem. Oh, joy.

But here's the catch: That link was correctly expressed all during the day. I returned several times to check for comments and at least once I tested the link. The link either changed itself, was changed by a Gremlin, or my butterfingers are getting so bad that I can change the code without even being in an editing mode! Okay, I see what it was, sure, but how can I know what to do to avoid this kind of spontaneous deconstruction in the future if buggery and necromancy, not logic, is how things work in Bloggery!!! Damn you, Blogger, send me a complete User's Manual, please! But you probably don't have one because you keep changing how things work.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Mean Mister Mustard Sissy-Fit #612

Beware Of Neighbors In Shorts

I see my fat creepy neighbor, Lucky from across the street, is out in his driveway and is again prancing around in his flattering Bermuda shorts and tight tee shirt. I can't quite explain it, but he reminds me of some member of the Addams cartoon family. An overgrown still-roundy Pugsley with an adam's apple and a five o clock shadow. Lucky, along with his beer barrel belly, and the profusion of azaleas up and down the block, are always a sure sign that winter is past! Actually, he starts dressing like that rather early, long before I would call the cool season over. But people are strange.

I don't know why, but sloppy and curious as he looks in that permanent state of semi-undress, he has always seemed weirder than sculpted dog turds to me. I know there are other men who fail to acknowledge ever being cold and so they dress perpetually like little boys on the baseball field. Some younger men—they seem to cluster around the 7-11 convenience stores—appear to dress in their shorts, tee shirts and canvas shoes all year round, 24-7. But I guess they can get away with it because their eyes don't have such an odd and vacant stare as Lucky's. I guess Lucky thinks he's the working class version of Hugh Hefner back when he used to live permanently in his hundred pairs of silk pajamas. I understand Hugh wears clothes more often now. I wonder if I could get him to give Lucky some sound advice? Anyway, I'd be glad to just continue having nothing to do with him. Lucky, I mean, not Hugh.

Now I Can't Even Hold It Against Him?

Of course, since first forming all this suspicion and negative opinion of Lucky a few years back, I've learned (at least, I've heard) that he suffers from Alzheimer's and so I guess I should feel more sympathetic toward him. I try to remember, was he like this the first time I met him or did he develop it later? If he's getting progressively worse, I can't detect it, and he damn sure isn't getting better. I've never heard that Alzheimer's disease just lets you stay "the same" or that it reverses itself. I've found him peculiar and boring for so long now that it's difficult to brush myself up and adjust my attitude! I don't think that it will happen, except in some life-threatening change of circumstance. I am still suspicious that I have been misled by rumor!

I've resisted the friendship of much more attractive people in the neighborhood and I don't like the idea of being blackmailed by illnesses into being friendly with strangers where friendship was never going to arise. I've said intolerant stuff like this before, I know; it still applies.

I was in Mr. Bone's yard the other day talking with Mr. Bone, one of my older neighbors who minds his own business and whom I therefore never have to avoid. Lucky approached us and joined us on the lawn furniture. I didn't leave immediately, but within a few minutes. Later, Mr. Bone kidded me about how I'd ruthlessly left him to bear the brunt of Lucky alone.

Every Man For Himself

"Every man for himself," I told him.

"Well, if I coulda, I woulda!" Mr. Bone nodded. I knew what he meant—he's a gentleman of the old school and sometimes gets trapped by it.

I don't know what it is—I guess I'm deranged, or maybe just cruel—but I have no comprehension of people who think that a display of a little friendliness on my part is necessarily a precursor to friendship. It's just politeness, you know. Judge the particulars of the situation, I say! If I speak briefly in a friendly way and go on, that's politeness. If I seek you out often and speak at length in a friendly way, THAT could be considered an act of friendship. Just keep in mind that the Mean Mister Mustard in me is mostly unfriendly!

Well, there's no civilized "out" for me, is there? Even average people sometimes do these presumptuous things without ever taking a hint about it, so how much of a monster will I have to be to escape Mr. Alzhammered Lucky? I'll just have to hope that he's let out of the house less and less as time goes by; he already doesn't leave home very much. Well, I sound terrible, it's true. I am a neighbor, but I'm a stranger, too, and don't want to be a babysitter for someone else's family. For each of us, our own friends and family have travails enough, with troubles that come both freely enough and often enough. I don't want to adopt Pugsley, and that's final!

Mean Mr. Mustard, lyrics

Monday, March 28, 2005

Believe In Jesus

I might be willing to believe in Jesus;
It's Christians I don't believe in.
I'm one of those disbelievers paying close attention
When the Good Christian says the right things in church
And the wrong things everywhere else.
What he says down at the local barroom,
He doesn't mean for you to mention--
You should keep a civil tongue in your head
About his own incivilities when he's having' a good time!

I might believe in Christian virtues and Christians might, too,
But the free practice of such virtues is far less
Than the free and empty talk about it.
I don't need doctrine of any sort to understand that.
What a bunch of libertines and hypocrites they are, I say,
Sitting around talking about mores they can't sustain.
Big surprise, since they believe in such delusional things.

The mild-mannered forgiveness they espoused on Sunday
Seems not much in evidence back at the shop on Monday
Or on the road to the Bar-And-Grill.
All that Sunday guff, it was good talk and sweet maneuver,
But in Truth not much more than a dose of claptrap.


Sunday, March 27, 2005

Behind The Mask

"There is always Fear and Anger waiting to emerge from behind the Mask." — Simon Curfew

Friday, March 25, 2005

Site Meter Again

Today I reinstated Site Meter to see if I can learn to live with it. Maybe by now I've broken my addiction to checking the stats multiple times per day! I'll remove it again, I hope, if I start behaving like an addict again. Meanwhile, I'll just let the numbers run, even if they're completely misleading. According to my theory, everybody's numbers are misleading. And that's the name of that tune!

For those of you who like me to be hateful, rude, and unnecessarily irritable, I will have fodder for you soon! Watch for something called "Mean Mister Mustard".
Though George Bush and Congress will not be celebrating it,
Three Cheers For Frodo!

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Incomplete Notes About Stella Frances Irons

Rats In The Ceiling, Bats In The Belfry

"Have you heard the news about Stella?" they said.

"What news?" Johnathan asked.

"Old Ironsides is out on her butt," they laughed.

"What, fired?"

"No, but totally demoted. She's not the President's secretary and she's not going to be the Chancellor's new secretary, either—God, how she pissed that man off, how could she expect to be picked? She's not going to work for anybody important. She fixed herself good by being so clearly in favor of her old boss never leaving his position that the new Chancellor just despises her!"

"I heard her pay scale dropped two levels!" somebody said.

"That's great!" another laughed loudly. "I wish they'd fired the bitch, but this is pretty good, too. She'll turn slowly on the spit, for everyone to see!"

"If anybody ever sees her again in that out of the way little building!" someone else said.

"I wish somebody could actually put her fat saggy tit in the wringer and squeeze it, I'd pay a buck to see it!" some man in the back snickered rudely.

"Lord, God," Johnathan thought, "what a wonderful thing it is to have enemies!" He found himself feeling sorry for her, though he knew that she was, in fact, quite odious. What could anyone do about such things, though, when they had already gone so far?

Reaping What She Sowed

When the new chancellor's long-term secretary died of cancer, he hired a younger woman without even considering the troublemaker. The old girl keeps on working for the university, but in a new demoted position at many dollars less in pay. It seemed to be a conscious part of the university's reshuffling that they then had her out of the way and out of the loop before the new President is hired. That Administrative Assistant position would not be available, either. Stella Irons was still there, but had been effectively erased. No one regretted it.

After Her Demotion

Johnathan went over to check for possible rats in the ceiling at the Communications Annex 3 building. It was an older small one-story building and Johnathan noticed the damaged ceiling tiles from the past weekend's rain, so he mentioned it to Stella. After a few exchanges on the subject, she motioned him closer and spoke confidingly about it. He had an uncomfortable sensation that she was about to put her hand on his shoulder, but she didn't.

"Don't repeat this, now, though, it'd probably get me fired—no, I don't guess it would, really, they'd have done it already—but you know the reason you can't get roofing repairs is because there isn't as much kickback in it as there is in new construction. All those vice-presidents and stuff, people at that level, you know? All those greedy pigs have to be fed."

Stella Frances Irons grinned and giggled, though not girlishly; she just seemed like sort of a caricature of someone "in the know", someone used to being tough on people. At one time, she had been in the know, Johnathan recalled. She'd seen it all. He nodded at her sagely, thinking that she might well know some awful things about administrative corruption and theft. "It must not be very provable, though," he figured, "or else they could never have dumped her here and taken away her high salary like they did."

Two Years Later—She Needs A Man

Several student helpers were standing around. Ms. Irons was dragging one of her absentee bosses into the photocopy-supplies room to show him something in a cabinet and ask his advice somehow. She'd been feeling short-winded these past few weeks and this sometimes had a bad effect other than the obvious. For instance, saying to her boss, as she walked by the students, "I need a man" she started—then, unfortunately, she had to pause to take a breath. "To give me his opinion," she finished, but the students had already focused on the statement before the pause and are openly laughing at her.

"Yeah, she needs a man, for sure," the girl snickered.

"Yeah, trot one out and cover her fat head with a bag!" said the pimply boy.

Old Ironsides didn't act like she'd heard them, but it would be difficult to believe that she hadn't or at least apprehended the tenor of their remarks. She glanced at her boss, but he was an older man, hard of hearing, and only interested in his retirement coming up soon, anyway. He hated confrontation and certainly wasn't going to be her white knight against the students. To them she was a mean-spirited old goat with blondish gray hair that they suspected hadn't had a speck of honest blonde in it in ages. Even so, it was a dead color, a color as dead as she was as far as they were concerned.

"Hell, she hasn't had any in years now, I figure," one of the boys liked to say in a low voice and he repeated it now.

Why they thought that she'd come anywhere near admitting it in this manner is strange. Perhaps they just liked to say it—a form of post-adolescent misbehavior. Well, maybe she hadn't been bedded in a long time. It was really nothing to laugh at, whether true or false. Only vicious knot-headed college boys would think so. But this is the way things were. She'd had a husband once—something the young people were unaware of—but he's been dead for many years. You reap, you sow. She had no children of any kind, unless you count these badly behaved young trolls she worked with. She had always invited ridicule, even when she was the President's secretary. Only then, nobody let it show. Now, nobody had to take it, not even these cruel children.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Beauty Remains

"Pain passes, but beauty remains." — Renoir, Pierre Auguste (1841-1919)

Semi-paralyzed by arthritis, Renoir continued painting until his death at 78.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

See No Evil, Hear No Evil

"The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them." — George Orwell "Notes on Nationalism," 1945

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Words Unknown To John Ashcroft

"No man can concentrate his attention upon evil, or even upon the idea of evil, and remain unaffected. To be more AGAINST the devil than FOR God is exceedingly dangerous. Every crusader is apt to go mad. He is haunted by the wickedness which he attributes to his enemies; it becomes in sort a part of him." from "Devils of Loudun" — Aldous Huxley

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Intuitions (Darley’s Dilemma)

In the image you reside
No more than I can know you;
In these pages I confide
What cannot be quite true.

The image in the glass reveals
The price I have to pay; within me
And without I feel alone, yet
Love to see the moon reflect the day.

Now in these pages how explain
The reasons why I need to know?
The patterns traced by footfalls in the rain
Designate our places in the pain and in the show,

But in the glass reflections turn our heads
Away from what we wish to know.
I look into the pool and see
Round features overfed.

Now heads we do not dare to lift
Stare down at frozen feet—
In moving flame the scene will shift
And so we shuffle to the street.

The empty lane is full of us
Though we remain unfound;
I hear this crying in the sleeve
But hear no other sound.

In crimson glow the image flickers back and forth,
And turns our courage to a doubt;
Now though I sit and ponder if I know you,
I know I only wait to see your fire burn out.

Now if we cannot stand to be alone,
Where will we turn? Our strength has
Worn our weakness thin, our courage
Brought all patience to an end.

In the mirror I observe the
Figure’s form of life to come
And pray that what I most deserve will
Teach me truth or let my soul be numb.

(Oh, fling the cloth into the dust
And everything I say mistrust!)

4th draft: 03/19/05

Friday, March 18, 2005

Slow Motion

Lone Ranger Or Wolfman?

“It seems as if my life is taking forever to take place,” Dogger Gatsby said, coming out of Dresden’s guest bedroom and rubbing his forehead. “Sometimes I wish it would get over with.”

More immediately, he was wishing he hadn’t smoked that pot last night. He wasn’t used to it any more and he felt like he was lost in a fog.

“That’s better than nothing,” Dresden grinned.

“Slow motion is better than no motion at all, you mean?”

“Something like that, I guess,” Dresden yawned.”

“I don’t think I care much for that.”

“Oh, hell,” she told him, “we couldn’t make you happy if we shot you in the ass with a shiny silver bullet!”

“What does that mean?” Dogger asked.

“I dunno, but it sounds right. It sounds like something that would apply to you.”

He wondered if she was referring to the Lone Ranger or the Wolfman. The latter, probably, he thought. Then he shrugged and opened the refrigerator door to see if she had a Coke. He reached in and got one.

He wasn’t as casual as he acted. He wanted to just come out with it and tell her that he was hungry for love and attention, that he was always restless, searching, failing. Except that he was nowhere near as efficient or successful an organism, he might have told her that he was like a shark, swimming without repose in a shadowed blundering world. That’s what he wanted to tell her, but he didn’t. It would be like ripping himself open with a hook and using his insides for chum, but sharks wouldn’t even have be attracted. He could handle the job himself. He wasn’t nimble enough anymore to claim that he was in love with her. Still, he felt something and yet knew he had to be quiet about it. Dresden had heard most of it before, anyway.

Reasons Why The English Language Is So Hard To Learn

There's a new blog that I found called Still Thinking, by "Rohit", a pseudonym, I believe, of a young Indian man (I think he said 29) who is restudying English grammar. Talk about making me feel old and slow and un-ambitious! He admits that this post isn't his, that he's just filling space by including this list that was emailed to him in a fashion that didn’t recognize any authorship. He thought it was amusing, though, and so do I. Somewhere along the line, someone didn't take credit or give credit for it; maybe it just grew there among the emails like algae or an amoeba.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Old House Gets Demolished

Wreckage With A Backhoe

The university was always buying up all the older houses on the periphery of the campus, especially if it was in a direction in which they already planned to expand. I don't recall that anyone explained much about why they set me to pulling down the empty old house with the backhoe. I guess it saved manpower to set me at the task—they knew I'd stay at it, with or without any laborers to help. I assumed that the utilities were turned off just as had been the case at other old structures I'd torn down or pushed down at the university.

Mice In The Pampas Grass

I cleared a large area around the house first, including half a dozen or so pampas grass plants. Those bushes are harder to dig out than you'd think. I'd dug up trees elsewhere on campus, sometimes creating holes where I could have buried a Volkswagen before the root systems would turn loose. So I felt like my medium-sized tractor could eventually dig out the pampas grass, too. Their root balls were moderately large, but extremely dense and contained a basketful of mice each. I got to where I'd use the bucket to beat at the root ball and try to smack the mice as they ran out of it. My aim was pretty accurate, I thought, but the terrified mice could outrun the long hydraulic boom every time. It was amazing to me how many mice could hide out in one of those root balls and how long some of them would remain, either brave enough or frightened enough to not come out with the first disturbed mouse or two. Sometimes I'd see mice creep out of it even after I'd tossed it aside and started to work on the next one. I suppose you can begin to see here why later I didn't mind too much my murderous work as a pest exterminator.

Bringing Down The House

So I proceeded to pull the walls and roof in on the outer portions—the front porch area and the laundry room on the east side. I moved slowly though, just to be cautious. Because the loader/backhoe was needed for other scheduled work, I sometimes only worked at the house demolition job an hour or two at a time.

When the piles of debris got large enough, they sent my sweat-and-alcohol scented buddy Roy over with the dump truck and I'd scoop up all the loose debris until the pile was small. Then Roy alone or the two of us would shovel up the remains. Sometimes Roy would wrestle the difficult stuff—lengths of pipe or a refrigerator, perhaps—into the loader, sometimes chaining it to the bucket just well enough that I could flip the bucket and get it balanced. Then Roy unhooked the chain and I dumped it into the big truck. Eventually it all went to the city dump. I'm happy to say that I never "almost killed" Roy, though I worried about it sometimes.

Roy Brings Himself Down

I don't know if his courage was a product of his recklessness or of his confidence in the equipment operator. Eventually, I guess, it was based on both his courage and his confidence in me. But he was a reckless and temperamental man. He later was fired, not once, but twice, from the university. Some lawyer got Roy rehired, I never knew the details of that. The second time he was fired, he'd been operating a weed-eater grass trimmer and got mad at it for not working. He was then observed by a supervisor who already didn't like him to lift the trimmer above his head and crash it down hard to the sidewalk. Roy did often have a temper problem, but he'd never turned it on me, so I liked him. As long as he did show up for work, Roy was a seriously strong and hard-working man!

Breaking The Gas Line, Slinging The Gas Can

Eventually I got prideful of how well I operated the equipment, but one of the last days that I worked at pulling down the old house, I hooked the digging edge of the bucket down into a pile of debris behind the concrete doorsteps and broke the damn gas line, I felt quite different about the whole thing.

I got so scared about that noisy hissing of gas that I panicked, turned off the diesel engine, and leapt away, breathing hard. I got into a panic. What the hell was I supposed to do?! There were some laborers nearby and I got Ike to let me borrow their dilapidated truck so I could phone the dispatcher and get them to send a plumber over. I was more revved up that hour than the old truck had been in many a year and as I took off a one-gallon gas can slid out of the truck bed and into the street behind me. It only lost a little gasoline. I kept going, but I glanced in the mirror and saw Ike grinning and shaking his head like I was a crazy man as he slowly walked into the street to retrieve the gas can. I bounced along until I found a phone, made my call, and returned to the scene of the crime.

Stopgap Measure

When the plumber, Rick, arrived, he just grinned, sauntered over, eyeballed the pipe, then returned to his truck for a hammer and a piece of wood. He used his pocketknife to whittle the stake down a little at one end, then pounded it into the pipe opening until he was satisfied there was no leak.

"Well, if I'd known that…" I muttered.

"Yeah," Rick said. "Nothin' to it."

That's one of the definitions of "stopgap measure" I've learned in my life.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

A Moody Post

Flowers And Warmth

Yesterday or the day before, I became aware of just how vivid the colors of the azaleas are already this year, despite the appearance of the weather. Not all things in the yard, but certainly the numerous azaleas, have been blooming deliciously. It seems wrong for the days to still to be so winterish—that is, overcast and cold, after the azaleas are so omnipresent! When I was forty, this weather would have only seemed "cool" to me, but in the last few years it's gotten to where any lingering winterish days just seem unbearably cold to me! It's bad circulation, I guess—I'm just not generating enough internal heat any more.

I notice that John, my 10-month old nephew, is often as warm to hold as a loaf of bread just extracted from a nice blanketed basket. I'd pick him up, though, even if he weren't such a great little hand-warmer! John, like the azaleas, will still be getting better-as-he-goes for a very long while yet. He doesn't know that or need to know it. He's learned to crawl and stand and walk and tumble, even to dance a little because it amuses him (and because it amuses us).

It amused me no end yesterday (and John, too) that he'd learned to point me out to others as he watched me through the full-view glass storm door at the back of the house. John's always beating on that door from inside as if he just knows that he can bust it down and get outside where the fun is. He has no idea how much more complicated than that all these things are. I, on the other hand, already know what I'd prefer not to know and feel what I'd prefer not to feel.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Gutbucket Nasty

A World Of Satisfaction!

"Oh, hell, those people!" Mike snapped when somebody mentioned a couple of the supervisors there at work. "Far as I'm concerned, somebody just needs to rip their fuckin' heads off and shit down their goddamn necks. Maybe then they'd wake up!"

"Jesus, that's gross," Don said, though he was clearly amused by the idea and by the ferocity with which Mike expressed it.

"I don't care," Mike drawled, "and I don't give a rat's ass! He was grinning and snarling at the same time, apparently enjoying his diatribe. "It'd improve their goddamn dispositions, if you ask me. I know it'd give me a world of satisfaction to see it!" Over in the corner Jason, had been listening quietly as usual and now he cracked up.

"Jesus, I can't believe the stuff you're liable to say, Mike!"

Major Domo

Mike Patterson was the major domo, the prima donna, and the loudest voice, among the fellows in Fleet Maintenance. His style was intelligent, high-flown, imaginative and energetic, yet thoroughly gutbucket vulgar and nasty. He could talk informatively for hours about his home computer and all his new programs, then turn around and praise to the skies some poorly-drawn crude cartoon from the jackmags Mike collected, usually one having something to do with elephant-sized piles of excrement or women with immensely exaggerated genitalia, preferably being penetrated by male organs the size of a tree trunk.

Look At This Guy!

"Look at this guy!" Mike would chortle, shoving the magazine in somebody's face all the while so they could get a good look. "Just look at him, willya!"

He was leaning back comfortably in his chair and snickering, pointing to the cartoon character whose penis had grown as large as he was.

"Well, he might be able to fuck the whole world now," Red shrugged, "but the boy sure can't fuck any women."

"Why's that?" Mike grinned. "Oh, hell, sure, he can, there's plenty of these skags around here with cunts big enough for one a those," he smirked, exploding with laughter, yet seeming to speak with thorough conviction.

Who Do You Hate?

Red grinned back slightly, not wanting to show how dumbfounded or offended he was by the remark. He'd heard guys talking like this all his life, but he'd never understood it very well. Sometimes it seemed to go beyond the meanness of a joke. He thought Mike sounded like someone who hated the whole world except himself, and even that was in question. He wondered if Mike really had any notion how it sounded, all that moronic, humorless, hateful stuff he'd just spewed out or if he talked like that because he hated women?

Maybe his momma dropped him on his head when he was little, Red thought. And then stepped on him afterward.

Or could it have perhaps gone beyond that for men like Mike, that it somehow expressed how little respect Mike had for anyone, for life itself. It bothered Red, but he knew better than to say anything about it. He knew he didn't have to say anything about it, so he always tried not to, yet sometimes Mike would read his thoughts.


"You can try to act like you're above it," Mike grinned, "but face it; men have got to have their revenge against women, and this is about the only civilized way there is."

"What the hell do you mean by that?"

"Every man feels it, but not every man needs to go out and act it all out. These porno stories and cartoons act it out for most of us. I figure porn keeps the number of axe-wielding sex murderers down in the dozens instead of up in the thousands. Just my theory, of course."

"Yeah, I guess so," Red muttered. "Just a theory, I mean."

Calling The Kettle Black

"Except, of course, I seem to recall you saying a couple of times how hundreds, maybe thousands, of women owe you gratitude for not following your initial momentary impulse to just jump on 'em and fuck 'em!"

"Jeez, here's the pot calling the kettle black! I have said something like that," Red said with chagrin. "I don't know if we're talking about the same thing or not. I wouldn't want a woman to know I'd said even that."

"Well, I don't drag 'em over here and force their heads down in these fuck-nasty Hustler magazines, either," Mike snapped. "You think you're better than me when you're only a little more insistently polite about your language and your images than I am. You think I'm gross. A lot of this stuff is all the same stuff, I say."

"Maybe. But God, I hope not, though," Red sighed.

Mike is not intended as the hero of the story above, but neither is Red.
"The lion and the calf shall lie down together but the calf won't get much sleep." — Woody Allen

Monday, March 14, 2005

Adam’s Drool

Evelyn's husband had developed the disturbing habit of drooling in his sleep. He didn't talk about it and his wife didn't like it. His wet pillow in the mornings thoroughly revolted her.

“Surely that's unsanitary,” she shuddered.

It gave her the creeps! She changed the sheets every day now, something she'd always been too lazy to do before. “Surely, surely,” she thought miserably as she hurriedly threw the soiled sheets in the washing machine, “surely he knows he's doing that!”

Either he didn't notice, or else he pretended not to. Yet how could he not know it? She was afraid to ask, and, anyway, it would be a horrible thing to have to talk about. Especially to Adam. Yet every time she handled the sheets, she got sicker and madder about it. Every night she lived in terror that he’d roll over against her and she’d wake up with drool all over her! She knew men didn't like being bothered with such things; she was supposed to take care of it. Clean the babyshit, sop up the drool! Well, she did try to keep busy taking care of the children, to distract herself with honest household tasks, but it wouldn't always work. It was becoming clearer and clearer to her that her relationship with her husband was worsening. Dealing with this slobbering problem of his was too much akin to cleaning up after one of the children, and that was wrong, she felt. Her husband shouldn't be one of her children! But she didn't know what to do about it. She wasn't sure she wanted to do anything about it, for she knew his temper. He liked to threaten her when things got bad, and she knew she didn't know what she'd do without him.

“Starve, probably,” she thought miserably. “The children, too, I guess. And then they'd blame that on me and take them away from me. I couldn't stand that!”

They were on a sort of equal footing now, she thought. He didn't like talking about her being crazy and she had a horror of this new thing that was wrong with him. Yet being equally defective didn't make her any more comfortable than before. She had liked the sense of somebody having the upper hand in their marriage, even though it hadn't been her; it had made her feel secure, even when she'd been the most crazy.

“Now what do I do?” she worried. “This can’t go on.”

But it did go on.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Nobody's Mother Is Home Anymore

Notes Taken When I Last Lived In A Larger City

"The kids all play in the parking lot at this apartment complex, despite the fact that there are lots of sidewalks and a large grassy field area intended for use as a playground. When I drive home from work I see the same thing, kids playing in the street in front of their houses and ignoring their own big yards.

Is there anywhere in this city, anywhere in the world, I wonder, where the kids aren't playing in the streets? I understand how children think of it, because I used to be one. But when I was too young to worry about such things because I was a know-it-all and felt immortal, others worried for me. My mother screamed as if Jesus had just died if she caught me playing ball games in the street or even just not keeping alert when I was on my bike. Even neighbors who knew you would give you hell sometimes and you didn't want them to tell your mother! It seems to me that half the mommies aren't home these days and the half who are home must be Quaalude mommies who are standing at their windows, grinning like idiots and spending the insurance money in advance while they watch their kids play tag and chicken with tons and tons of steel."

Back To The Present

I suppose I know a lot more mommies now than I did fifteen years ago when I wrote that. Because I know them, I can't imagine them behaving that carelessly with their children. Still, all those children one continues to see in the parking lots belong to someone, not to nobody. But not being able to imagine it is no guarantee that such bad things can't happen. I also often imagine that most of my upstanding friends wouldn't be guilty of really reckless driving, then finally I'm in the car with them when they pull an amazingly irresponsible stunt. What chance does a child playing in a parking lot have if you and I and the other adults can't even manage to play it safe for ourselves?

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Abraham Lincoln Quotation

"Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing." — Abraham Lincoln

Friday, March 11, 2005

God Or Not

"The opposite of the religious fanatic is not the fanatical atheist but the gentle cynic who cares not whether there is a god or not." — Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)
How dare I quote this guy as if it's all right for him to even infer such things?
Eric Hoffer—who?

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Pretty Good Ones

The Best Of Old Blog Posts

Those of you who whoosh through here and maybe never reach or notice the bottom of the sidebar may have not yet noticed that I have reinstated my "Pretty Good Ones" list of posts.

I got rid of it some months ago because it occupied so much space in the sidebar and because it began to seem like a lot of work. Presenting the list in the current fashion occupies far less space. Of course, all old posts are already findable among the Archives, I reasoned, but now I'm thinking once again that this way is better. Or maybe it's just that I need some busy work to keep my fingers, nose, and toes busy. No idle fripperies or foolishness allowed around here!

Leading You By The Nose

Since not all my old posts are even coherent, much less golden, this is my way of leading you by the nose to the best of the older ones. I prefer this very much to the lists I've seen on some blogs where it's merely the "previous ten blogs" being listed—that seems silly, especially when at any given moment my previous ten may be of very inconsistent quality. In any case, those ten are already easily accessible through just paging down or clicking around in the Archives.

I've never been sure how many readers ever get around to reading older posts when they discover a blog they like. I used to read all of the past blogs when I discovered a good blog that was new to me. As I've gotten to the point of having more blogs (30-35) that I read regularly, I have less time to read new blogs all at once. So, no more swallowing the whole thing at once! I now vary how many old posts I read from a new blog, though ideally I would sometimes like to read more of the old ones. Some of you may suffer from similar time constraints.

Who Reads What and What For?

Anyway, the "Pretty Good Ones" is a sort of showcase where I list some of the best for those of you who have too much or too little time on your hands. I really can't decide whether this is good for you or bad for you, or good or bad for me. But here it is. Just because they're listed doesn't mean you have to read any. At the same time, they never hog all the sidebar space any more like a worthless pig would do.

If you want to play, start reading at the top of the list because the ones on top will mostly be removed when newer ones are added to the bottom. I'll try to hold the list down to 20. (Meaning, that's as much busy work as I can handle!) I'll try to stick to the rules. But many are the times I failed.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Alcohol, Cookies, And Bad Cess

A Vengeful Man

One day Carl got mad and took it into his head that everyone in his family despised him and that he’d get even with them all eventually. One night in a dark and bitter mood, he scooped up a small bit of his own feces out of the toilet, broke it up and shaped it, then let it dry between 2 pieces of paper until they resembled the consistency and mashed-down shape of the chips in chocolate chip cookies. Then he had a giggling fit as he dropped them into the bottom of the cookie jar at his grandmother’s house. Somebody greedy would come along when the jar was nearly empty, pour the crumbs into his hand, and gulp them all down—including these non-chocolate chips.

The problem with his theory was that Carl was the only one in his near or extended family who had that habit of cleaning out the crumbs from the cookie jar. His grandmother, who no longer cleaned out the bottom of the cookie jar as often or as thoroughly as she used to, just kept putting more chocolate-chip cookies into the jar. Time passed, and he forgot all about his clever revenge. Six months later, it happened. He arrived at her house a little drunk one day when she wasn't home and let himself in. The cookie jar was empty except for the leavings. He turned the jar over with his right hand, dumped the crumbs into his left hand, and flung it all down his throat. He never even knew that he’d eaten his fecal booby trap. He’d forgotten all about it. I know you’re thinking that Carl must not have been very smart, but I never told you he was smart. He was just vengeful. When he could concentrate enough to remember, that is. What part of his brain the alcohol hadn’t devoured, bad cess and those turd cookies had.

One of my emailers now says he's swearing off of chocolate chip cookies except when he himself opens the package or sees them come out of the oven and get delivered straight into his possession!

Some people are so suggestible. I think maybe he's one of those people who go to see a hypnotist at a nightclub and end up squawking like a chicken.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

James Baldwin

"The price one pays for pursuing any profession or calling is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side."

— James Baldwin (1924 - 1987)

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Woke Up Stupid

Maybe I woke up stupid this morning (I often do), but I am presently mystified with Haloscan. The email address is missing from everyone's Comment "signature", even from my own and other regulars who normally do list their email. Is this what others using Haloscan are experiencing, either in their Haloscan or when you are visiting my site? I would question Haloscan, but now that I've finally had some trouble with it, I find that they make the whole procedure obtuse. Does one have to be a "member" in order to contact them? Has anyone ever gotten past this maze? Don't be afraid to tell me I'm just being dense. If you know anything, let me know. This altered state has been going on only 2 days, but the way it formerly worked was a convenience.

Friday, March 04, 2005

To Whom It May Concern

If I have recently bitten your head off, pushed back too hard, or otherwise been rude to you—well, there it is. I’d like to think that I’d apologize for it if it meant anything, but that’s not to say that it will happen. I could even call you by name and apologize to you, but that wouldn’t mean there was a sincere bone in my body, would it? A blog is an opportunity to live a life of mild or extreme pretence, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an element of truth in it. You turn around one day and you're dead.
"If I could drop dead right now, I'd be the happiest man alive." — Samuel Goldwyn

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Getting The Beauty Soap Shoved Up Your Ass

Observations About The Movie, "Hucksters" (1947)

Sydney Greenstreet portrays Mr. Evans, the boorish head of a successful "beauty soap" company meeting with his advertising agency about a new campaign. Clark Gable is the man sent to handle the account. Deborah Kerr is the formerly rich socialite hired to be beautiful in the soap commercials.

At the first meeting between the soapman and the salesman, Evans unexpectedly spits on his highly polished conference table. "Gentlemen," he growls, summing up his philosophy on advertising, "You have just seen me do a disgusting thing. But you will always remember it!" (Several of his yes-men all nod and smile appreciatively as Gable barely manages to restrain his look of disgust.)

Sydney Greenstreet’s other memorable line about his advertising theory was to pound on the table and recommend (about the buying public) that the thing to do is to "Irritate them! Irritate! Irritate!" Sounds like a pretty modern way of getting our attention, I’d say. I think it's the same shit I was watching last night.

Evans was based on George Washington Hill, the colorfully crude president of the American Tobacco Company. Now that must've been a nice fellow. I bet he could sell shit for peanut butter!
"I told my psychiatrist that everyone hates me. He said I was being ridiculous, everyone hasn't met me yet." — Rodney Dangerfield (1921 - 2004)

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Joan of Arc

It’s amazing how often Joan of Arc comes up in songs and books and in my life. I have read two books about her in the past couple of years and have written about her, coherently or not, in a couple of past poems.

Listening to Leonard Cohen’s “Joan of Arc” on his “Famous Blue Raincoat” CD, just now, I recalled how she’s mentioned in a bio of Helen Keller I read last year. Well, I guess it made sense in various ways, not least of which was that one of Helen’s famous but close friends was Mark Twain. He was fascinated with the combination of the miracle girl Helen and the miracle worker Anne Sullivan. Twain’s interest in Joan was also fairly great at that time, since he was working on research for his book, "Personal Recollections Of Joan Of Arc".

The Helen Keller biography remarks that Twain—as a lifelong connoisseur of serious diseases—would have been fascinated by the speculation of modern doctors that Joan may have suffered from a particular hearing disorder that among many sufferers causes visual and auditory hallucinations similar to Joan’s. A ringing or singing sound in one ear, an accompanying “bright light” coming from the same side. Joan may have interpreted such sensations as her “voices”. Of course it matters little whether she heard from God or only thought she did in a case where there was so much drama, so much success, and such an abrasive defeat and tragedy. Just as it didn’t matter whether Joan had been killed by the French soldiers, clergy, and royalty who only wanted to kill her or by the vicious English soldiers, clergy, and royalty who reveled in the actual deed, she would still have been murdered by the Catholic church and she would still have become Saint Joan.

Just some passing thoughts…
"Begone, foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion!" — The words that Éowyn called out to warn the King of the Nazgûl away from the fallen King Theoden.
Full Lyrics, Leonard Cohen's "Joan Of Arc"
My longish poem about Joan, OLD MILLENIUM DANCING SHOES

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The Six Million Dollar Notebook

Classy Notebook

I always liked a classy notebook, but by that I really mean a practical one, one that’s tough and fits my pocket—preferably one with a 3-ring binder, not a spiral wire. I like to rearrange the pages sometimes. Don't you?

More than 20 years ago I bought the best shirt pocket-sized memo book that I’d ever seen. It had a black (leather-look) cardboard cover and a 3-ring binder at the top. Oddly, it didn’t feel like leather or paper, but like stiff fabric. The notebook measured about 2 ¾” wide and 4 ¾ “ long.

In Need Of Replacement

Every few years that notebook would get a little more worn and shabby and I would repair it with Scotch-brand tape. Later it got a little more damaged and had to be repaired and reinforced with duct tape. I fell out of the habit of using it for a few years because it was so ugly, but then I began to need one again, so I carried it again. Again I found it useful, but it was still ugly, and I began wondering where I could buy a new one before I had to shoot the old one. I couldn’t find one or anything remotely similar. I searched stores around town and then searched on the Internet and found other notebooks by the same company, but not the right one.

We Have The Technology—Rebuild Him!

I went around being steamed about this for years about not being able to replace the notebook. Then one day I was channel surfing and ran across the intro of The Six Million Dollar Man and heard them intone that line, “We could rebuild him!”

“Yeah!” I exclaimed. “I could rebuild the notebook!”

Well, whoop de do. Maybe I could rebuild it. I could also destroy it in the attempt! The concern, really, was not that I couldn’t measure the notebook, cut a single piece of leather to size and fold it correctly. What I worried about and what indeed turned out to be a real problem was cutting, pulling apart, punching, or otherwise removing the two big rivets that held the metal 3-ring device to the old notebook. Some parts of the metal mechanism were very sturdy and some were not. I used various punches and awls on the rivets. I got two pairs of pliers and pulled on both sides of the rivets. I used various cutters on what seemed to be the toughest rivet heads in America!

Obstinate Repairman

I was getting nowhere fast because all the while that I hammered, pulled, punched, and yelled at it, I was trying very hard not to ruin the unsturdy mechanism that opens and closes the three rings. Nobody but someone like me (with too much time on his hands) would have continued the battle more than 15 minutes; in a different state of mind, I too would have just flung the damn thing out the window!

Finally the two rivets gave way; it’d only taken about 35 minutes to detach the hardware from the cardboard! Kee-rist. The 3-ring device did get a little bent, but not so that it showed when I got it attached to the leather. I straightened it a little and it worked fine. I’ve used it since for phone numbers, shopping lists, for daily bird notes and lists and sightings. I make my own pages for it, too, having never found pages that fit it any more than I ever found a new notebook of that kind. So I’ve made miniaturized lists of bird sizes, nesting info, and bird diets. I print them out, use a cardboard template to outline the pages, then cut them out with scissors, round the corners, punch three holes per page (but certainly not one page at a time).

Psychosexual Neurosis

That’s been over five years ago. It’s been clicked open and shut again another couple of thousand times by now, I guess. The leather was stiff as a young man’s erection at the time of the surgery, but now it’s been through saddle soapings and wear and tear and sweat, so now its on the way to being as supple as the thigh of a friendly 21-year-old girl. If the leather cover lasts as long as the old cardboard one did and continues to soften like this, I guess I’ll want to marry it by then. Maybe I’ll have to throw it in the river or burn it in the trash barrel. After all, I can’t condone illegal psychosexual relations with inanimate objects. Despite its reconstructive surgery, I like it as much as ever—more, in fact. Not because it’s more beautiful, but more because I had to work on it so hard! It is my friend, though not my girlfriend—yet!

"It is not worth an intelligent man's time to be in the majority. By definition, there are already enough people to do that." — G. H. Hardy (1877 - 1947)