Thursday, November 30, 2017

Audi A4

I bought a car yesterday. I needed one, badly. My old yellow VW Bug no longer went above 3rd gear. It was okay to drive around town, good for short trips to Taco Bell.... but could not go over 40-45mph for very long. The engine would rev higher and higher, but with no additional speed. It had other problems, also. 

And yes, the above Audi is a total "dad car," but fuck it, I'm a dad.  What am I supposed to drive? They had a yellow Lamborghini for sale at this shop, but there was no way to install the booster seat, so I went with an Avant instead. Looking at the Lambo caused tingles in my bathing suit area, because I'm almost 50 years old and am very confused about how long youth should last under less than ideal conditions. 

I can take some road trips now. It is an all-wheel drive, so Tahoe is within striking range. I feel like North Korea: I can hit pretty much anything on the west coast. 

I just went in and covered my son with his blanket. I'm already beginning to miss his earliest years. He's turning into such a little boy. He'll be six in January, but there is so much that is changing now since his entry into Kindergarten. He seems to have more of a "stance" towards his being and persona. My interactions with him seem to be guided now by a quickly changing landscape of personality. He adopts the new and denounces the old so quickly that it is difficult to keep up. He's on to some new super hero that I've never even heard of and I'm still banging on about Thomas the Train.

It is all so cliched, of course, but they do grow up quickly. It passes like a dream, one in which you wish to return within that lucky glimpse of recaptured morning sleep. I imagine bringing a mason jar back with me and catching the essence of it a bit, to store for later. Pictures are good, but they lack much. He is so animated, it drives me crazy with joy, to see him figuring out how to be, and why. 

Our little five year ontological experiment. 

He wanted the yellow Lamborghini, and promised that he would learn how to drive if I would just buy it. For only $105,000.


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The ritualing of the eve

This aging in stages is breaking my heart. Each night I put him to bed; he needs me less and little. A chat, a thoughtful think about the day, a laugh when lucky and good, then we are gone. 


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Squeaky Fromme was from the future

(Old Testifier)

There is so much bad writing out there, much of it only an appeal to morality, a thing that is nearly always presented as objective fact. 

That's the one thing that I do love about Alabama right now: they are staring people in the face on television and asking the difficult questions. Like, What exactly is wrong with having sex with youngsters? I mean sure, it's illegal but so aren't abortions. They know in their hearts not to trust any code that would claim that as a legal truth. They have their own codes down there and they're going to stick by them. You can't try to shame a man that installed the Mighty Ten Commandments at his court house with a silly little thing like sex, especially sex that gets tacit approval in some parts of the bible. 

What the fuck do liberals even think any more? No matter how many times they get their asses kicked with this stuff they still come back with the same pre-defeated arguments. Will they never learn? If they would have just ignored the illegality of the accusations and focused on the fact that Moore never married any of his accusers then they'd be swimming in giggles by now. 

And let me get this straight... Someone was preying upon America's youth at the mall, and they didn't own a corporation? You see, Alabama still has faith in its entrepreneurs, small business owners, and youth enthusiasts. They're just wanting to get out from under all these governmental regulations. This must be a state's rights issue. 

What an exciting time to be alive. I always knew that one day the American Inquisition would come along and wash these streets clean. I can't be the only one that reads Slate and hears the echoes of Travis Bickle in most all of it. People are becoming a little unhinged lately in their efforts to defend or impress Jodie Foster. It really is just like the 80s. Soon enough a Jane Hinkley Jr. is going to try to do something to fix it. It all makes sense now: Squeaky Fromme was so right.

I followed girls around the mall in the 80s also. I thought that's what you were supposed to do. How else are you going to meet them and introduce them to your best friend, Jesus? You don't just walk up and offer to buy a girl some Orange Julius, you have to let them know that you're stalking them a bit first. I'm not talking about those skanks that hung around at the game room. I mean out in the open walkways, plazas, and of course the food court, where the nice girls roam. My God, they looked so soft and sweet, as if they each tasted of cotton candy. 

Now, the mall is structured much like one of those fancy new cathedrals, so perhaps he became confused and honestly believed that he was doing God's work. Nobody has yet to claim that he wasn't a man of the judicious cloth.  

I don't know, I'm not an expert in these matters the way that others are now. So many good minds are becoming Christians without Christ. They're so eager to insist upon the moral supremacy of their arguments that they have become as humorless as the sinners they're busy reforming. If you notice, everyone has become increasingly comfortable with using the word "evil." That's always one to keep your ears tuned for. It never means good things for anybody. They're sending in the urban missionaries now, to inform all of creation about the good news and loving forgiveness of living deep in the bosom of a blue state. 

There are four things that I'd like to see happen, in this order:
  • Roy Moore wins the senate seat
  • Roy Moore gets arrested
  • Roy Moore goes to trial
  • Roy Moore auctions his Ten Commandments monument to raise defense money
The outcome of the trial is meaningless, but a conviction and prison sentence are preferable, as that would help the civil suits that will follow.

All that I ask of any of this stuff is that it becomes more entertaining for me. What could possibly be better than an accused pederast to be hoisted into office by the Alabama electorate of the religious right. You can not win a moral argument with these people. Trust me on this, they function on a different ethical plane than most of you. All of you, in fact, if you're reading this. They know that liberals smirk at Jesus. Do you think that trying to fuck teenagers even comes close to that on their moral scale of wrongdoing? Their biggest regret seems to be not having lived during the biblical flood. 

The senate seat that Moore is campaigning for is the one that was vacated by Jeff Sessions. Do you believe that the same voters who let that perverted little soul-stealing hobgoblin represent them are going to have a moral tussle with someone whose only crime was liking the pretty girls he saw? 

Think again, fucko. 

Calling him a racist isn't going to work, either. That has been proven with recurring certainty in those lands already. The claim should be that he was trying to tell these young girls about Charles Darwin. 

He was naturally selecting them for some Satan science. 


Monday, November 27, 2017

Born To Ruin

I'm reading Springsteen's autobiography, though I had promised myself not long ago: Never Again... After reading Keith Richards' Life I told myself that I need not spend any more time reading rock biographies, particularly after suffering the 40 year axe that Richards had to grind against Jagger in his book. Forty years of any one thing is enough for a lifetime, is what I told myself, but I was of course wrong. 

I should probably not read any more rock biographies. It makes me like the music less, to know all of their little historical faults. Bowie, The Clash, McCartney, a few others - they all leave me not liking the artists much. Most all of them turned out to be such assholes. If I am going to read about rock then I prefer reading writers who write about it, not the artists telling their aggrandized self-stories. 

It should not have surprised me, and it definitely should not have angered me the way it did a bit, but Springsteen can tell a story and is a reasonably good writer, able to turn phrases and twist them. It doesn't seem fair that someone should have multiple talents, particularly ones that I want. 

The book has had me reliving some of my childhood experiences, thinking back to when I first heard these albums at the insistence of one of my childhood friends. I only liked a few songs here and there until I heard Nebraska. After that I changed, I was a genuine fan. It's really too bad, what they let Springsteen do to his songs in the studio. He's like Elvis Costello with his music, he insists on ruining most of it with overproduction. They are almost all better in a different form.

Reading about his experiences with his father are tough. You see the image of a boy and then a young man who wanted his father's love, but instead grew to hate him and his drinking, then to regret that hatred. That is just one small part of the telling, a partial explanation for the near religious-like yearning in his music. It has stuck with me. I wonder if my own family life was fucked up, or not fucked up enough. 

His descriptions of his father's behavior explain in part Springsteen's off-putting sobriety and spiritual clear-headedness. You can't exactly or easily fault him for it, but paired with his self-righteousness, well, it can be a bit much at times. The Boss can seem like a Bono that made it out the other side of addiction and is now as smiling and happy as Tony Robbins. There's something very sickening about it all. It doesn't seem fair that he used rock and roll as a vehicle to drive to the heights of such personal health and well being.

Do your pushups somewhere else, man.

Well, I am up to the point where Columbia refused to promote The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle. He was at the infamously hackneyed turning point. He needed to write a hit, so of course Born to Run appears next. I might have to skip that and go to the Nebraska chapter, then stop altogether but tell everybody I read the rest. That seems a bit weird, though, to tell people that I read a book only after a certain chapter. Maybe I shouldn't bring it up at all, not invite any questions about the extent to which I did or didn't read the book.

I've been writing here a lot and not publishing the posts, stuff like the ending of the paragraph above, where I start to pretend to think out loud within the writing, and maybe I am, though I believe that I'm just kidding, but it doesn't make any sense. None of it. We live in such uncertain times. Something terrible has been unleashed inside of America and it's not law and order. 

Got a wife in kids in Baltimore, Jack
I went out for a ride and I never went back
Like a river that don't know where it's flowing
I took a wrong turn and I just kept going


Sunday, November 26, 2017


We thought that maybe it was strep throat, but mom called the doctor this morning and based on his symptoms we've shifted to another set of maladies - croup - we had already worked our way through foot-mouth disease and a few others.

Mom became infected also, we think, so I now await the echoing of the knell. 

I am reminded of different stages in mine and Rachel's relationship - by the years, and to the day - because Facebook is kind and thoughtful enough to conduct a sauntering along of memories each day for me. 

We had visitors the night before last, old friends, mostly of Rachel's. I found myself trying to verbalize and clarify where we are now in relation to where we were then. It is difficult to make sense out of your life or love for others, though I practice it in one form or another almost everyday. Yet still... what does one say? Love makes very little sense when viewed with the eyes of others - set outwards, awaiting the satiation of expectations. Love is at its best when it escapes the rut of skepticism; doubt does hardly a great love make. 

Below is a picture that appeared in my newsfeed this morning. I was happy those growing months, even while fighting off depression for parts of it. I remember fondly putting my ear to her belly and feeling our baby move and kick inside of her, touching her new roundness and fleshiness, loving her, talking endlessly about what things will be like

We were both very wrong. We almost did not forgive ourselves of this tandem indiscretion, yet things turned out somewhat close to how we had aspired, though in independence from one another. 

Funny, that - how bitterness can self-resolve if you back away from it after exhausting your energies in mutual accusation of personal and moral failure.

Funny, that, also - how intensely creative people fight - with such an eye and heart out for the dramatic. 

It all must sound so unimaginative to the ears and eyes of the unfortunate witnesses. 

But, who has time now to return and script an improved second draft? 

The show must have went on.


Saturday, November 25, 2017

Spacetime Incontinence

I began the long process of going through some of the pictures  - about half - that I took while last in Florida with the boy. My favorite so far (above) was mostly an accident. I had my iso set too low, so this exposure was about a quarter of a second because I was spot metering on the boy's shirt. What you can't determine in the image is that to the left, that yellowish/white blur, is the space shuttle Atlantis hanging at the Kennedy Space Center.

Florida's only theme park with a college degree.

Taking pictures of kids is difficult. Taking pictures of multiple kids is impossible. My normal ratio of pictures-taken to pictures-that-I-care-for is about 100 to 1. When multiple kids are involved I'm happy if there's 1 in 1000. I have no idea how film photographers used to do it. They were much better at predicting behavior than are digital photographers, and were far more patient. They're like the oldest spiders in existence. Any fool with a few thousand dollars can be a photographer now. Digital allows so much flexibility after the fact and very little need to economize on the number of shots taken, so success is almost guaranteed. Those factors combine to make people stupid and lazy, yet free to feel otherwise about it. 

Me, I mean. 

All of my camera gear approximates to what anybody with an iPhone shooting 8+ frames a second can accomplish eventually. Just keep shooting and you're going to get lucky. 

It's the same basic attitude as a spree killer. 

A slight exaggeration, but not very much. If you focus and exert some mental energy you can get a good image out of an iPhone at about the same ratio, and for much cheaper. 

One day - that is what I will tell myself and desperately try to believe. I just bought a used macro lens this morning, mostly for use with my film camera and some black-and-white film. But you never know - sometimes you get the best results from your predictions being very wrong. 

Ok, I have spent the last two hours going through pictures to send to my brother. Now, I have no energy left to write. Today is my only day off and we have considered driving to Sacramento. Because who doesn't want to go to Sacramento on Saturday?

If you don't believe me - that my son was part of the official Atlantis post-orbital mission - then the image below should settle all the questions, silence all the doubters. 

If you look carefully then you can discern the effects of Florida weightlessness on a five year old. 


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Is it any wonder?

Americans seem to be too stupid and slothful to do anything to stop the repeal of net neutrality regulations that have allowed for the free passage of information across the internet. They seem to want Comcast and Time-Warner to make all of their scary and complicated decisions concerning technology for them. 

So be it - America has misspoken! We get the culture that we deserve, delivered in the form of complaint, always after that fact. We grew so tired of talk of vigilance, who would deprive us a little nap every now and then?

Every day I wake up and seem to hate things a little bit more than I did the day before. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and if anybody asks me what I'm grateful for I'm going to say, True American Football, standing like a god-damned man for the national anthem, Smith and Wesson, Jack Daniels, and Jimmy Dean

Who can possibly question the wisdom in any of those answers? I'm going to demand that we eat Thanksgiving dinner standing at attention to the playing of the national anthem. 

I've been reading Hemingway's Across the River and into the Trees. It's not his best work, but neither are most of his novels. His stories are what matter. 

It is odd to read his works now, with the knowledge of how abbreviated is the understanding that many people have of his writing and of his life. He is the classic male, the enemy of the present, a mere meme of a man. He had multiple wives, you know? The ending of his relationship with one was usually ushered in by his infidelity with whomever would be next. Yet often the heroes in his writing were women... The surest sign of male iniquity: guilty praise. 

It's the stuff that women hate - lies from the hearts of men. They hate other things also, but that's the rub that gets them riled - when men mislead concerning the nature and robustness of their emotions. It should not be allowed. Men seem always ready to commit one of the two crimes: noticing or departing.

What did the clever Irish aesthete write:

Woman begins by resisting a man's advances and ends by blocking his retreat. - Wilde

Hemingway purchased the double-barreled shotgun he used to kill himself from Abercrombie & Fitch. Or, so the conventional and accepted story goes. It is nearly impossible to walk past one of their stores now without feeling similarly.

Try it!

Go get yourself some Casual Luxury.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Hi Santa, it's been almost a year...

Skate Pads
An Artist's Sketch Tool
Science Kit
Lab Coat
Lego Kit

I am still working on it, but I know you already know that.


Monday, November 20, 2017

With a little help from my fries

(Selfie Brown)

Home again, home again - the full day Friday arriving there, Chicago/Waukegan, the full day Sunday returning home. 

Now, back to work, the short lingering week of Thanksgiving - the easiest of American holiday targets. I mean, to make fun of, to undermine, to criticize the American meta-story of generosity and thankfulness. I believed that story when I was a young boy, that of our national generosity and the importance of personal gratitude. Then, I grew to question our nation's generosity as something other that that which could be described as such - Colonialism of the Coca-Cola kind. I tried to learn personal gratitude as I became older but paid close attention to those even older than me and questioned what there is to be thankful for. It is all very subjective, I suppose. Watching people in pain is still a challenge for me. 

Now, I'm the old liberal at the dinner table, making jokes that instill hatred in the intelligent young people. Hatred for me, of course, and everything that I am able to still freely laugh about. I try to remind young liberals that they are our future. Few things will madden and sadden them more. 

Liberals just don't seem as if they're having much fun any more. Their collective narrative is no longer compelling. It is instead mostly an effort to annoy the world into being a better place. Presumably better, that is. I'm still with them, but only just barely. Liberals are like everybody's mother-in-law. It is best just nod and say, Hmmm, that's interesting.

Many people seem to reach an age where they no longer have a political affiliation. They just hate one side a little bit less than the other. Nobody seems to trust anybody any more and you can't blame them at all. The corruption runs so deep that either side will say or do just about anything to smear the other. You get tired of team politics and the personalities have either dried up or escaped deep into the riches of lobbying and corporate speech giving. 

Well, forget all of that. I just want to eat turkey and gravy and pumpkin pie with ice cream, and wine... red, red wine. Oceans of it and I, castaway for a day.

I was happy to have been there for Rachel. To have her lean on me as needed. Families can be such weighty organisms to manage, wrestle, ignore, or lose. 

It's best to have a little loving help along the way. 

(Yes, I own a tie)


Sunday, November 19, 2017

A Memoriam For Another's Life

The memorial was what one would expect. It is of course sad when someone passes away, that is the common feeling that we all must endure. Rachel is a grown woman, but it was still her daddy that passed away. It was impossible not to remember the sound of her voice when talking to him on the phone. The excitement with which she would relay the various goings on in her life, the wanting for him to know, to participate by proxy just by listening to her delighted retellings, the tremendous sorrow of that vacancy now. 

It began snowing just as the service started. Preston hated snow and would have gotten quite a laugh out of the unintended coincidence of it. He moved to LA and lived there with his family from '79 onwards - Rachel, just a baby girl.

The woman conducting the service asked if anybody would like to say anything and to our surprise Rhys stood up and walked to the front of the podium and gave a few words about his grandpa - that he loved him very much and would miss him, that he made him laugh, and would always keep him in his heart. My heart nearly burst. I was so proud of his composure and willingness to express. Normal parental feelings, I suppose, but these feelings are mine. I get to have and keep them. 

Rachel's speech exceeded my emotion threshold. Her tears became mine also. She relayed what a good father he was - always looking out for her, often catching her in adolescent wrongdoing, ever prepared to save her from herself whenever possible, always there for her.

I don't know how others experience the feeling of being alone in the universe. When my father passed away it is a sense that arrived slowly and has never left - that I was now more alone than before. My life is one of the things that helps prevent my son from having to feel those feelings yet. Or, that is the hope of loving, anyway - that giving yours somehow helps others, and that doing so helps you in return. Love being its own reward.

Since having a son I have felt less loneliness, meandered less along the contours of its familiar desolate sharpness. Now I feel solitude more than loneliness, and that is not the same thing at all.

Loneliness is the life killer. Nothing has brought me to oblivion more regularly nor more reliably. Its avoidance explaining in part the trajectory of my early years. I miss being surrounded by people I knew and loved in a nightclub, the warmth of loving others openly, without expectations for that love. Who might have ever guessed that one can avoid the sadness of spiritual solitariness in the most unexpected of places, one such as that. Some are disoriented there, others miraculously able to find themselves. 

Last night a young woman wrote me that she had read about my "retirement from clubbing," and that she was envious of it. I didn't quite know how to express to her that I would trade with her in that instant if I could. To be able to again submerge myself happily in the exuberance of that life, the ecstasy of musical communion with friends, the simplest joys of just being there. 

Well, the emptiness is endless, cold as the clay 
You can always come back, but you can't come back all the way
Only one thing that I did wrong
Stayed in Mississippi a day too long

- Bob Dylan, Mississippi


Saturday, November 18, 2017

A necessary acceptance of the familiar

We made it to Illinois, a little bit north of Chicago, in Waukegan. Tom Waits mentions the city in one of my favorite songs by him. Tom Waits will be the next to go, He writes about the difficulties of love from a man's perspective. That type of toxic masculinity will soon meet its match in the rising tide of venomous femininity. 

Myself, I can't wait for the sexual revolution to finish its business in correcting injustices. I want women to be in charge and to know that they're in charge. It's the only possible way forward. If men are wrong then the reaction to their wrongness as embodied in females can only possibly be correct. Correctness as far as the eye can see, that's the elixir. Victims are always morally superior to their oppressors, and require no self-examination whatsoever. That's just science, or engineering, or math - I forget. Whichever field has the most women in it. That'll be the only new truth - psychology. 

But we can hold off on my desires for the time being. 

Today we will go have our memorial for Rachel's father. We will put his ashes in Lake Michigan and maybe Wrigley Field. There will be a thing after where people get together and talk. Rachel and I have prepared the soundtrack for this, songs her dad loved. We have explained to Rhys that music is a powerful way to love and remember people. 

I will meet the members of Rachel's family that I have not yet met for whatever reasons. I sat up with a few of them last night, chatting and drinking wine. They were having Old Fashioneds, or maybe Manhattans. We listened to the rains outside and felt the cold breeze coming in through a crack in the kitchen window. 

People from the midwest are unlike the people I know from Florida, or from either of the coasts that I have lived on. They are suspiciously nice, nearly bereft of snark, and patient in conversation beyond comprehension. I will study them at length today and unravel the secret of their mysteries and nicenesses. I'm hoping that the key to their confounding pleasantries are wrapped up tightly in easy to digest metaphors for baseball, like sausage in a pork beer brat waiting to be bitten into. I suspect that beer and whiskey might help unravel the casing a bit, after open heat has been applied, nestled in a bun, lined with mustard. 

If my suspicions turn out to be true and I discover their undoings, don't worry... they'll probably never even let me know. They're that polite. I'll need to be very careful. They let me talk as much as I want, which is always a danger when doing undercover reconnaissance work of this kind. 

Will need a disguise of some sort; should have practiced some patois; where the fuck did I leave the Bat Belt....


Friday, November 17, 2017

Sweet Home Waukegan

(Alfred Wertheimer)

We leave early this morning for Illinois. There is a memorial service for Rachel's father. I'm hoping that it will be like a birthday party for someone in absentia. That is my wish for him, anyway. 

His name was Preston. Rachel and I put together a playlist for the after-thing that people go to on these occasions. It has been a genuine joy to do so - lots of my favorite old rock tunes in a context in which I can be unashamed in playing them. 

All one needs in this age, it seems, is an excuse to indulge your passions. That, and consent from someone out there in the vast universe. 

I have petitioned to have the above picture removed from the internet. We have no way of knowing if that is a consensual hug that we're seeing or not. 

Elvis, of course, will need to go. 

How can history possibly allow a nostalgic smile for one as flawed as he. 

Last night, Rhys and I were playing hide and seek around the house. I turned off the light in my bedroom and hid in the closet. He stepped into the room cautiously where I could just barely see him through the door crack. I jumped out of the closet and growled or howled or something meant to add to the surprise. This was a bad idea. I had never seen him so filled with immediate terror and fear. I caught up to him in the living room, crying on the couch, kicking me and all other phantoms away in oversized fear.

I felt terrible, of course. I hugged him and told him that I thought he would laugh, that it was my mistake. There are no demons named Daddy hiding. Don't worry son - there is no evil, only confusion and ignorance to be battled. 

Love was not quite enough. It took a few minutes for him to return from this place of terror.

Due to the sensitive and embarrassing nature of this recent revelation I've decided to step down from my position at my current job and announce my official retirement from public life and parenting. My family would appreciate it if you would please respect our privacy as we come to terms with this awful thing that I have done. 

We are going to each seek solace in the loving arms of Morphine Jesus. 


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Fleetwood Blackbeard

Joking about my child being demonically possessed didn't go over well with my readers. I don't understand it. It worked so well in the test groups. 

Ah well. He is safe - no children were harmed in these writings of unconfirmed paranormal activity.

Wait, let me find a picture for today's post. CS has pointed out, and I think he's right, that it helps to choose a picture first. I often don't do this, then I run out of time and post a picture that makes very little or no sense with what I have written. You try writing a daily public entry for a decade.... it can be more difficult than I let on.

There, I found one. That's Barkley the wonder Shih Tzu on Halloween night, dressed up as a roadie for Fleetwood Mac. We were meant to be a group of pirates, but the reality of our costumes were more 70s-era Wicca stylings.

Here's mom, to give you an idea:

Nope, tried to find one, but they were not very flattering. I took no pictures of myself that night, as is my usual custom. 

I suppose the joke would be more funny with the visual support, but fuck it, the times are changing too quickly to go back and explain bad jokes. 

The Reign of Error is alive and roaming, looking for necks to slice. Men are being taken down left and right for improprieties of all sorts. Can it get any better that Al Franken groping on someone who's asleep? That is just good political humor. 

Roy Moore was on a mall watchlist as being a creep, but that doesn't look as if that's going to stop him from holding high office. Nope, Alabama is speaking up for their right to advance what are now being called cultural differences. That really is the best phrase for it. How else could you possibly describe it? 

All Real Americans know that she acted and looked every bit of 17

Wait, here's one of mom that isn't too bad. 

She's the out-of-focus woman in the background. You can see she's channeling some Rumours/Tusk era scarves, vibes, glass of wine, et al:


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Sleeping Seasons

I was teaching the boy about the wonders of demonic possession, which I then proved to him with the science of photography.

No, we're not allowed to fuck kids up the way they did in the 70s. I remember going to the drive-in movies with my mom and brother and watching The Shining. I was about 12 years old. This is a film about a father that loses his shit and decides to try to kill his whole family. 

And you wonder, dear readers, whatever happened to boy Sean?

Well, it was that and a bunch of other shit. The 70s and 80s were the heyday for filling kids' heads with irrational and horrible fears. It all started with Rosemary's Baby, dabbled with Catholicism a bit in The Exorcist, then seemed to hit its high water mark with the Freddy Krueger fellow.

I doubt that many people get possessed any more. There's not enough free time and headspace for it. It requires leisure hours to burn to correctly conduct a demonic dalliance. People are too worried about actual horrors and threats to get involved in anything that requires any priestly extermination. I'm sure there are studies out there that will soon be used to legislate against letting kids watch that sort of nonsense any more. Our politicians care so deeply about destroying the minds of children. 

I used to suffer recurring sleep paralysis. It was terrifying, as if the weight of something dreadful and invisible was sitting on top of me. It felt as if I was awake, but it must have happened in the nether space between dreams and waking. I would try to scream in my sleep but couldn't make any noise. Witches would creep out of the shadows of my mind and scratch my teeth and ears and eyes with their fingernails. I could hear their venomous whisperings. One bent down and bit my teeth, which broke off in her mouth as she laughed, mine filled with the taste of blood. I felt poison seeping into my bloodstream. Then I might fall back to a sleep that I believed to be death, or would wake in a startled, frightened panic.

I was young - not quite sure what I believed then, but I remember believing lots of it.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

What Next?

(Rhys Presley)

I woke up early, read for a while, wrote some emails, took a shower, got dressed, got in the car and headed towards the highway, the bay. Something was wrong. The car wouldn't go above third gear. It was revving out at 45 mph. There was no way I could get this up on the 101. I question whether I'll even be able to use the car to get my son to school and back, even that ride has a few stretches of 50 or 55 mph.

What to do? Time for a new car, it seems. I have been wanting one anyway, though I prefer for these moments to be choices rather than needs. 

Any money that goes into a car is money that will not go elsewhere, so I resent having to spend one way when my happiness is the other direction, towards leisure and away from demands. But not having a car creates some unhappiness, also. 

It is a dilemma, possibly a painful one.

"The trick is not minding that it hurts." - T.E. Lawrence, Lawrence of Arabia


Monday, November 13, 2017

Camera Cards and Memory Sticks

I found this picture on my memory card from the underwater camera that I took to Florida. It is my friends' son, Bastian. I love that name; it sounds almost Roman, is probably Latin-based. 

I have been trying to "clean up" my memory cards. I just buy the biggest cards I can and shoot like a fashion photographer on cocaine, but then never find the time to go through and grab my favorite shots from them. Or, I only grab the ones that jump out at me and end up missing some of the subtleties. Or, sometimes losing memory sticks altogether. 

If there was one thing that I could change about myself it might be this: organizational skills. 

I have mixed admiration and a mild sense of detestation towards people who are organized, or those that have wonderful handwriting. Can one have mild detestation? I always assume that in private tidy people are secretly drowning kittens. I've preferred people that can hardly seem to keep themselves together - a set of walking, speaking contradictions, inherent fallacies of behavior. 

I trust the beautiful and erratic as a kind of truth, over the methodical and perpetually composed as artifice. It's one reason why I tolerate drinkers - they forego some of the choice in this. They often make mistakes, if you haven't noticed. In this, their basic humanity puts itself on open display, not always pleasantly but it gives some witness to who they are. 

People who never make mistakes frighten me, along with people who can neither accept an apology nor give one.  

I can't say that I like Louis CK any more now, but I like the moral zealots writing about him much less. 

Leave it to the intelligent mob to improve on the mistakes of the dumb one.

They're so sure to get it all right this time.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Use it or lose it

A slow Sunday, spent meandering the morning minutes. Looking through the thousands of pictures I have taken in the last couple of months. I have camera cards filled with vacations and candid shots that I don't have the time to sift through. 

I know that people must get tired of the rather minimal scope of my subjects - my family. I can broaden that a bit at times, when I spend the energy, but I barely have the time left in me to be doing what I'm doing now. 

The idea of more is just that.

I'm not unhappy, at all. I know how to fashion my critiques to my liking. I'm afraid if I don't exercise that part of me then I might lose it to the inevitabilities of natural selection. I want to make sure I pass down the joy of analysis and treasure of doubt to my son.  

We're going to go do things today, all of us, fun stuff. I promise. 

Bubble gum machine, I love you.


Saturday, November 11, 2017

These Stories Are True

I have learned much about masturbation in the last week, things I never dreamed. Almost 50 years of age and there are still a few important distinctions that have thus far evaded my own knowledge of self-pleasuring tactics. 

It seems you can teach an old dog....

No, I should not flourish or play with language here. There arrives a point when interacting with another human being that their consent is and should be the line that you do not cross. I have crept right up to that line and sniffed it.

Okay, I'll stop it.

A very close friend reached out to me and asked if I really believed what Louis CK did was wrong or just a sexual deviance. The answer is both and yes. Without moralizing, or inflating my own sense of moral value, I think that most people would agree that simply asking is not enough. You must obtain and maintain consent throughout your interaction with a person. This is not always easy to determine, and no two people will always feel the same about when it is required, or perhaps when it has been given verbally but then revoked silently. This is where humanity should prevail, though I would not always rely on the humanity of others. It requires that both people be responsible and communicate, if the intention is to interact. 

That was my friend's point. She said, They were adults, they could have walked away or said No. They didn't. 

She is right, in a sense, but there is more to it and I think that only addresses the legality of what he did. Based on what I have read it does not seem that he crossed that line. But what he did placed those women in positions of inclusive subservience to his sexual interaction with himself and them. He thrust upon them a predicament they did not invite. The reason the terms "sexual misbehavior" and "sexual harassment" exist are to describe situations that are ethically wrong or compromising, circumstances that do not necessarily fall into the area of law. These were women who worked in his field and admired him. He used that to subject them to his sexuality. 

Not a capital crime, but CK did not know these women's histories. They could have been genuinely terrified. The one woman who did participate but then "felt weird afterwards" should be removed from consideration, unless she was a child when the interaction happened. You don't get to revoke consent after that fact. She is an adult. Yes does not get to mean no, ex post facto.

There are a few verbs that keep being used in much of the writing about Louis CK and Harvey Weinstein. He forced them to watch him masturbate. That is a very verb-heavy sentence. If you remove the verbs you are left only with: He them to him - a situational predicament. Another word that gets used is trapped. It does not sound as if the word force or trapped applies to CK, but it does to Weinstein. 

That is a broad assessment based on what was publicly reported. It could be wrong. 

From what I have read, and only recently, the thrill of this type of sexual behavior is in springing the act upon unsuspecting women and trapping them in a false sense of complicity, making them watch when they showed no signs of wanting to see that man masturbate. One article even went so far as to suggest that this is the nice guy's version of rape. I'm not so sure there, but the argument was made and I can see how there may be some merit to it, though the sexual dynamic is too broad to apply intended violence to an act you conduct upon yourself. 

But once that point was floating around in my head, I realized precisely why this type of behavior is so unsettling for some women. It could potentially be terrorizing. Part of the detectable shock in the viewer is the thrill that the onanist is seeking.

Again, maybe not a crime, but it is predatory behavior.  It's the misuse of at least two different types of power. Male power, and its misuse, is the subject of much consideration. We are reminded of this daily, and yet still there are important unanswered questions. It is an ideologues play field, but that does not erase the need to create a better understanding. 

I have been involved in at least two situations where there was a lack of consensus afterwards about the nature and intent of the interaction. It serves no purpose to outline the details here, though my recognition of the impulse to do so is one that I acknowledge and am very wary of.

I still know one of the women and have apologized, while maintaining that there was a lack of necessary verbs in the description of our interaction, and no requirement for consent. It was situational and we each feel differently. At the end of our talks I was left with the clear understanding that I had been disrespectful, something I knew but maybe needed to hear from her for it to matter more. That should not have been the case. I recognize that the presumption of my own innocence is not good enough, and does not in any way address the resulting feelings for her. She feels differently and it seems there may not be a middle ground to agree on and then to move past. 

I just don't know, though I hope so. 

To her: I am sorry.

The other woman I do not have contact with. I have considered reaching out and apologizing over the years, but was never sure how self-serving and possibly uninvited that apology might be, or appear. Reaching out after many years may only reignite some unpleasant feelings for her. I can never be sure how much doing so would only be to absolve my own feelings or justify my actions. There is no amnesty program, or even a reach-out-to-talk system, in place that might facilitate this kind of interaction. 

In addition to that, I would be lying if I claimed there to be only a sense of wanting to apologize. The details are murky based on our differing descriptions and I have always wished to declare my innocence with "my side of the story." I do not believe she would be very interested in clarifications of blamelessness now. I could be wrong.

Drugs and alcohol were involved; it seems there are no entirely reliable witnesses. 

I suppose it may be as easy as saying, If you're willing to talk then so am I. I would like to bring some possible closure to this, for both us. Again, this might be entirely uninvited and self-serving. There are no easy answers. Situations have no responsibility to speak the same truth to all participants.

What do you say to a person that has accused you of wrongdoing or impropriety? You reach out to them to be re-accused, only to explain to them why and how they are wrong about their feelings? The potential for defensiveness runs very high. That can not possibly be the best step forward. Do you simply accept another person's accusations? 

This is where many men feel that there is no equality whatsoever between the sexes and they want only to avoid this potentially disastrous dynamic of the ages. If a person ducks it is not always from guilt, it can simply be to avoid unpleasant conflict and the continuation or expansion of another person's pain. No person is automatically right in any given misunderstanding. This is where the court of public opinion gets everything wrong, and part of why so much is kept private. This is true for both women and men.

It seems that with the #MeToo movement women want very much just for men to listen. That seems easy enough, yet many men I know don't want to listen at all. They do not wish to acknowledge this type of pain. They may be incapable of handling it, or they only wish to not believe its ubiquitous veracity. That's not good enough. 

That being said, how easy is it to listen to any accusation or assertion and to respond only with an apology? That may be the high road and the best road. I am not entirely confident that I have it in me to do so, but I would be willing to try. 

If women are able to publicly state that they have been subject to unwanted interactions then there should be no shame for a man to state that he has done things that he is not entirely comfortable with, regardless of blame or how much time has passed. If women are still enduring these feelings then it should not be alone and in a vacuum. To touch a woman but then not care at all about the effect that touch has should be something that cautions you from touching that woman.

In a perfect world.

Perhaps she will read this and reach out to me. I do have an apology for her, one concerning the situation and how it made her feel. I also have some clarification on my understanding of our interaction, though it may not be necessary after all of these years. 

Those sentences above might not be not very inviting. What can be done? 

If she does read this: I am sorry. I could have done better. 


Friday, November 10, 2017

"I came as quickly as I could"

People are fucked up. I can see that now. I'm just as surprised as everybody else. I never would have guessed that people who communicate the odd outlines of neuroses so well might actually possess any of the stuff. It makes me feel gross, that I ever laughed. Comedians are well paid public observers, not humans with faults. 

I guess I've never understood comedy.

I wish Robin Williams was here to see all of this. I bet he could bring us a real Patch Adams smile. 

Nobody's making an apology for anybody here. What he did was wrong. There are plenty now publicly caring for the victims. One less voice in that choir isn't going to be missed. The outpouring of love and support for them will soon disappear, but the anger towards CK will linger. There's good reason for this. 

That anyone familiar with his comedy - those who have enjoyed it or gotten anything at all from it - should now feign disgust and revulsion is a person with a lonely soul and was never paying attention anyway. What you laughed at was a part of yourself, some small sliver of recognition, so spare us your indignation and outraged righteousness. Few things are as humorless as self-ignorance.

Well, except denial.


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Periods of creativity and poor judgement

(50% of my genetic code)

I fell asleep at 5:30pm yesterday, woke at 12:30am. Ooops. I stayed in bed and tried to coax myself back to sleep. Every now and then it works... not this time. So, now I sit here at 3:30am writing a post, waiting to drive into the city in the rain, only to return again and be tremendously tired by later this afternoon. I used to have much more resilience, more fortitude against perpetual wakefulness. But that all goes the way of the Dodo. Extinguished by the decades.

I spend way too much time in a room all by myself, sitting at my kitchen table in front of the employment portal. It creates a vacuum of interaction. Or rather, a vacuum from interaction. It fucks with my mind. People need to converse, I think. I do, anyway. I get less and less of it as each year passes. I would use the word depressing to describe it, but I reserve that root word for the actual state of depression, or try to. 

I've hinted at it before, but I don't believe that I've ever talked about it openly here: I was once diagnosed as bipolar, though I prefer the term manic-depressive as it describes the fluctuating states with greater precision. Polarity hints at a positive and negative magnetic charge, neither of which is entirely true, though there can be a marked dichotomy to the orientation of each state and its results. My sleep patterns often determine or predict which state I might be heading towards, though it is not always easy for me to predict. Self-medication is common among people like myself, though increasingly ineffective as I get older. Exercise helps, of course, but that is more of a way of forcing my body into exhaustion. It is, in a sense, self-medication prior to the arrival of an unwanted state of being. Diet also, and moderation of intake, all combine to stay or topple my towering or sunken spirits. 

Beyond that, there is not much that can be done. I tried the medications: fuck them. They bring nearly as much damage as does the affliction. If that's the cure then I'll take the sickness, as I'm so fond of saying. Lethargy is the common result of a depressed state, and that's what I've been struggling with now for a few weeks. I can hardly move, even when I am exercising. A gray, wet rug sits on top of most everything that I do, above that even grayer skies, above that gray stars. 

The hypomanic state is no better, though at its onset it feels like a very pleasant drug. I become enthusiastic and animated, charming even. Only those who have known me for a while recognize it, or can tell when I have escaped its thrill and am no longer making entirely coherent connections. Rachel and I recognized that wild upswing around mid October, so now the slide into what always feels like perpetual winter. I have a very mild form of it, so it is easy to tell myself almost whatever I choose, then to act on those beliefs. I have not been entirely systematic in my understanding of its effects, nor of my efforts towards self-care.

A relatively recent doctor's assessment was that an accurate diagnosis can not be made while I continue to self-medicate, and he was probably right. He did not believe that I suffer manic depression at all, but that I am only a bright and enthusiastic thinker, given to occasional fits of melancholy and gloom. A common condition for many, he said, but not necessarily a disease. 

I believe he called me Irish - subject to desolation and song.

Perhaps he is right. I mean, about the misdiagnosis. My NY doctor was a psychopharmacologist, so he insisted that medication was the only treatment that can be offered. I spent a couple years trying that. The attempts and the recovery from those attempts were among the worst years of my life, but I did myself few favors then, either. I had hoped dearly that victories in chemistry would help counter-balance my many recreations, and that I would never have to be held responsible again. Instead, they combined in my system and left me confused and frustrated, unwilling to move for weeks. 

I remember Mitch Hedberg saying, Alcoholism is the only disease that you can get yelled at for having. It's not true. Manic-depression is similar if not precisely the same, though it is often partnered with drinking or worse. Efforts to treat a condition which greatly affect your emotional states are very difficult for observers to understand, especially if the afflicted possesses any intelligence. People assume that there is a corollary, if not causality, between intelligence and behavior, or the emotions which feed behavior. There isn't. Managing other people's emotions is the unluckiest pastime for the friendly-minded, though there is rarely a shortage of people willing to try. Being better is always simple and easy for the others. 

Having a child helps. It rudders the spirits a bit.  

I wasn't sure what I was going to write about this morning, I rarely am. But I had not expected this post to appear before me. I am almost nervous to post it, but that goes against the disposition of this site. It would be an insult to free expression. If silence is a cure, I'll stick with the sickness. 


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Every revolution...


It seems as if democrats can win mayoral elections in swing states, which is encouraging. They still struggle with most other state and national elections. One can only hope that what we are seeing now is a good sign of what we can hope to see in 2018.

However, the problems can not be fully addressed, much less fixed, until the DNC cleans house. They do not seem at all eager to perform this very necessary moral maintenance. I can't tell if they are more dysfunctional or corrupt. The two qualities seem to be competing for supremacy within that party. Though we will see just how dysfunctional the GOP is in the next few weeks as a possible response to this harbinger of the times. The messaging there seems to be the same: get on board, or else.

The nation seems unable to define itself, or even accept any definitions of itself. We certainly live in troubling times. The voices of the marginalized and oppressed are making themselves more known.

I don't have the free time to read very much journalism any more, but if you like spirited writing then Laurie Penny seems to be among the best of the socio-political polemicists that I've read recently. She doesn't offer much room for conversation, but she does seem to have a special ability to state the issues dynamically and to argue for the renewed and continued strength of the disenfranchised. It's fun and moving stuff to read. I've only read about five of her pieces and have enjoyed all of them, even if the revolutionary feminist tone of some of them seems a bit too self-assured at times.

She knows she's at war. So be it. Tough times call for expressive language.

Defining the terms that are being used to clarify differences will prove to be important for everybody. With so many conversations I see online it seems that the biggest stumbling block is that most people don't understand the terms that are being used very well.

I read a post that had a number of comments - many of which were openly argumentative or insulting - about how to address someone who is transgender. While there was vast and vitriolic disagreement about the terms that these commenters were using, the general consensus seemed to be that you should ask each person how they would like to be addressed.

That seems fair enough. If you wish to engage in conversation with someone then do so as they wish to be engaged, at least for the purpose of that conversation. Otherwise, don't pretend to invite the exchange, because you're only wanting it on your terms.

Also, it is possible to speak to someone without using gendered pronouns. It can be much more fun than simply falling back on He or She. If you encounter a person who does not conform to your understanding of gender then make sure to conform to their expectations when using language to express yourself. Your expression should be for them, not at them. Think of your words as their clothes.

I kid, of course. It does get confusing, particularly when only one participant's desire to express themselves is considered and elevated above all others. Your language is an expression of hate; their gender is the only true expression of freedom.

Again, I kid. Demands are always inhibiting.

They is now considered by many to also be a grammatically correct singular pronoun, though it is still plural in its primary usage. If a person's gender can exist in a singular or plural way then so can a word. MIT has weighed in on the matter.

Terms seem to be at the source of much confusion and pain. Transgender is an umbrella word used to describe people at various places on a spectrum of gender - people whose identity does not correspond to their sex at birth. Your perceptions should be kept private or neutral until you can correctly address their identity as they wish.

It all seems very easy when writing it all out. This definition seems simple enough - transgender people possess an inner belief concerning their identity that may or may not manifest itself outwardly, those identifying manifestations might not correspond to what you are able to perceive about them.

Take away the word transgender from that definition and it applies to almost everything about me. I spend a tremendous amount of time documenting my internal thoughts and making them public, yet when I talk to people they seem unable to distinguish who I am with what I express. People seem to believe everything that becomes external is the truest version of you, and perhaps the only version.

Humor is of course lost first in this outward accounting of humanity, because it has the power to express that which may be neither internalized nor believed. Where does it come from, then? An awareness of disparities is needed for humor to function at all. Those nuances are departing the collective conversation. Each group seems to possess its own sense of humor and as such are the only ones able to advance the strict and necessary rules on its usage. More and more we are reminded that it is never appropriate to share your group's humor with that of another. It's like watching a white comedian at The Apollo. There's an inherent nervousness to how easily anything can go terribly wrong, and many who see something about themselves as a failure if it doesn't, if they allow it to proceed unquestioned.

Comedians are sometimes exempt from this, but only partially. These oracles are allowed to say more than the average person, for reasons never questioned. They have a license to express, within reason.

Humor, it seems, is something internal to you but more truly owned by anyone who hears you and is willing to put in the time to understand or misinterpret your meaning. This is a human quality that works best when shared, but to share you must express, to express is to put yourself in danger. Ask a transgender what it means to express.

Everything is very dangerous now, and for everybody it seems. Anger is the result, self-validating grievances run very high. This is not to belittle anything actual, only to point out that witches are still as flammable as always.

One of the things that I used to do at Apple when a customer was becoming unreasonably difficult was to address them suddenly with the wrongly contracted noun gender form - to call a Ma'am a Sir, or a Sir a Ma'am. It is always helpful to slightly raise your voice when doing this, to express your own frustrations at the situation. You can then apologize quickly for your indiscretion and move on. Nobody can really cite you for it, but it serves to disarm the person a bit because the shame at their own escalation in dissatisfied behavior is somehow kept in check and made apparent by their confusion at having been misperceived. The last thing that people expect when they are becoming angry is to question whether they are projecting any ambiguity concerning their own gender. They believed that they were making themselves increasingly clear.

It told me a lot about how people feel about this issue and why it will likely never be one that is agreed upon by everyone that exists on that seemingly wide spectrum of sex characteristics.

It wasn't mean-spirited. I would usually only employ this device with someone who seemed confident of their position on one end of that spectrum or another. The act was not intended to be cruel, but only to seem as a casual mistake born of tension and frustration. The result for me was always comedy, of course, but they need not know that for its magic to take hold and conduct its wonders.

It almost always quieted the conversation and allowed the transaction to proceed with less escalation in anger. Only once did I have to explain, to a man, that while I was talking to him I was looking at the woman behind him and I made a simple mistake. My apologies. He accepted this explanation, because he must have acknowledged that I was subconsciously looking for any way out of the interaction and I captured some unexpected shred of sympathy.

My mind simply drifted for a bit. Who out there would not understand the desire to escape?

It's not the type thing I would ever do to a woman who had already battled with and lost the struggle with a mustache, or with an effeminate man, or anyone between. That would, of course, be cruel - the unforgivable sin. But everyone should have their gender questioned from time to time, I think. It can be helpful and humbling, and that is what is sometimes needed: a reminder of your humanity. Anger towards someone who is trying to help or care for you is not often justified. But we have unleashed some of our impulses. Few things seems as self-justifying as do your emotions when embodied and bolstered by your own life's experiences. Those untouchable and sacred structures that sometimes, but more often do not, align with any outward understanding by others.

What can one do? Everyone seems to assume to know the ever-malevolent intentions of others, or they ascribe malevolence freely when assessing behavior, or speech, or thought. Open your mouth about anything and you become a racist, sexist, bigot, or worse. It is best to be the first to accuse, to set clear the terms of the unfolding dynamic - that of victim and monster. When there are protections against self-incrimination then efforts to strengthen the force of accusation must be insisted upon. How else can a society be truly just?

"Every revolution evaporates and leaves behind only the slime of a new bureaucracy." - Kafka


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

may i feel said he

(Mel Ramos, Superman)

may i feel said he
(i'll squeal said she
just once said he)
it's fun said she

(may i touch said he
how much said she
a lot said he)
why not said she

(let's go said he
not too far said she
what's too far said he
where you are said she)

may i stay said he
(which way said she
like this said he
if you kiss said she

may i move said he
is it love said she)
if you're willing said he
(but you're killing said she

but it's life said he
but your wife said she
now said he)
ow said she

(tiptop said he
don't stop said she
oh no said he)
go slow said she

(cccome? said he
ummm said she)
you're divine! said he
(you are Mine said she)

- e e cummings


Monday, November 6, 2017

Life after raving

I am announcing my official retirement from nightclubbing. I tried to go out in SF on Saturday night. I was able to accomplish that part well enough, though during the landing and recovery I encountered some unexpected turbulence. It's all becoming a bit too much for me - spending time recuperating from self-inflicted damage that I insist is a vital type of fun. I suppose that's the realization that happens to many people at the end of their twenties. I'm trying to eek out a few more nights spent clubbing at the end of my forties. But the systems that sustain that sort of thing are shutting down one by one, betraying me. 

The sudden and startling appearances of disturbing coincidences are becoming a bit too stark for me. Severe times call for severe measures. 

Perhaps one day I'll tell a version of the details here, but for now I'm done with trying to hold onto a version of youth. I prefer sleep now to flashing lights, sound systems, and the accelerated joys of destroying synapses in bulk. Most all of the good things that happen to me now happen in the daytime. 

A friend once confided a story from when he was growing up about his father, a memory that stuck with him. It was a painful thing to listen to, or to imagine. One of those situations where you can't quite extinguish the details of it from your mind, and the impact that it must have had on him. You think to yourself, Fuck... that's pretty bad. You tell yourself that there's a line and how happy you are that you're on one side of it and not the other. Then the line moves a little closer to you, you wonder just how close you'll let that line get before you back away from it. Not any closer at all is the correct answer. 

It was one of those weekends - the inescapable realization that I'm in my last months of being in the upper portion of my forties. I suppose that it doesn't make sense to imply, that only makes it sound worse. Now is not the time for it. 

I didn't shit my pants, for those of you who were maybe hoping. I didn't shit my pants. I had to write it twice, to console myself a little bit. It helps, but not very much. 

I blame Daylight Savings Time. What a cruel and senseless thing to do to an already confused man of my age, or of any age.  

I was able to pull some joy out of the weekend. It took a bit of limping and I was not quite my usual self, but I did it. Rachel, Rhys and I went to the Exploratorium on Pier 15. We wandered the rooms and played with the various exhibits and learned a little bit more about what it means to be alive and how our senses interact with the world around us. I thought it was cooler than a rave and required no recovery time at all. 

In fact, we bought year passes to the place, we liked it that much. We haven't been since they moved buildings. It was good, healthy fun.

Rhys laughed and laughed at the many mysteries of science. Magnetism still amazes me, also. That an invisible force can attract and repel seems magical. 

We bought the boy a multipart-outdoor-survival-device of sorts in the gift shop - a compass, binocular, mirrored piece of plastic that folds up in on itself for easy pocket storage. I presented it as a sort of spy device and he accepted this definition for it. The compass, of course, operating on the earth's natural magnetic field, a polarized piece of metal suspended in non-conductive mineral oil, or something along those lines. The plastic of the device functioning as the orienting baseplate. A marvel of the gift shop. 

We watched the needle perpetually spin to point in the direction of magnetic north, so that we would know which direction was which. A very neat and natural gimmick. I hope we never have to use this thing to find our way, I thought.  Having a compass is one thing, needing to use it is quite another.