Saturday, March 31, 2018

"I'm flying in on a DC-10 tonight..."

(Kodak film)

While that song, Spanish Bombs, has little or nothing at all to do with the country of Costa Rica, the term is used in the song about Spain... oh mi coraz├│n. And yes, we're flying to Costa Rica tonight, through Panama. We'll be gone for a week. I'm not sure if I'll be doing posts here or not. Maybe. I might not bring my computer with me. It's all just more noise to be hefted.

I scanned a bunch of black and white images yesterday and then backed up both of my computers and cleaned the memory cards in one of the the cameras I'll be bringing, after making sure I had imported all the pics from them. It's a nervous habit I have formed somewhat recently - that I prepare for the apocalypse before I travel anywhere. It's like the opposite of cleaning your browser history. I tidy things up in the event of calamity in my absence.

I'm afraid of one day lying on my death bed and regretting not spending more time pursuing my interest in pornography. My "bucket list" is just a URL link to a short video, maybe only twelve minutes and 39 seconds, that seems to explore one person's capacity for pleasure.

I think that's the subject of the piece, anyway; fascinating stuff.

Ha, well it made me giggle a little bit - time to pursue my interests in pornography. That's just silly. I have only ever looked at it out of intellectual curiosity and to evoke an ethical response. I promise. I watch it for the articles I hope to one day write.

Life is absurd and people pursue absurd interests. People are comprised of memories, secrets, and flesh.

In one way I am glad that this trip marks the end to my sabbatical. I have been far too insular for the past six weeks, perhaps a byproduct of spending so much time at home by myself, reading. I am struggling interacting with other people. My inner monologue is becoming my external voice. Even the type stuff I type here, which I would normally not allow in conversation, is just dropping out of my mouth uninvited in what must be called conversation.

I need to be around people again, I think. A little bit of solitude is wonderful, but it's also a thing used in prisons to punish the worst offenders in the form of solitary confinement. Like most people - I must assume, anyway - I'd like to live somewhere between those extremes.

I want being alone to resume being a choice.


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Scorched Earth Opining

(Laurie Penny, seated)

YouTube can be very difficult to watch. I just spent 30-40 minutes or so watching videos that include one of my favorite editorial journalists, Laurie Penny. They are all just brutal, the videos - she is denigrated, yelled at, has fingers pointed in her face, one man stands so close to her in a stance of obvious physical threat that it even made me uncomfortable, at home and knowingly well after the fact. 

I like to live in a little fantasy world where ideas can be reasonably and even passionately discussed, where most people are willing to let others express theirs and then respond with their own. But female writers, some feminists in particular, have it very tough. I can't say that is makes me like her any more, but it makes me wish for her safety. I hope that doesn't sound too patriarchal. I would want her to be safe if I was a woman, also.

The English don't mind vehemently arguing things out in public. They seem to live for it, which I think is good, but you had better have your wits about you and your facts together if you're going to publicly debate them. She, Penny, seems to have achieved some notoriety as a radical feminist, so all of the expected online rape fantasies and death threats have of course followed, which I suppose is one way of knowing that you're hitting the right nerve. Or, that you're hitting the nerve.

To disagree with any aspect or claims of some groups, on almost any issue, seems to only make you an enemy. It places you in the most extreme opposition, a nearly criminal space to inhabit and one that you should certainly be ashamed of, because no idea has ever been improved or discarded through healthy discussion or debate. A man with an opinion on radical feminism... what a privileged patriarchal asshole...  Maybe. 

Who does anybody think they are, really?

I should have recognized this long before voicing any of my own opinions, but I learn my social graces exclusively after the fact, if at all. It is not enough to only believe that women deserve equality of treatment and opportunity. You should also stay quiet when the radicals are making their most outrageous claims, or even some of their most accepted ones. Otherwise you risk losing everything, starting with your own agreed support for their most basic and decent premises.

A part of me wishes that all of America could go back to a time when things could be discussed, and even argued, without such extremes in polarity. The two-team approach seems to be lacking, unstable, dangerous, and very hostile to conversational understanding. I have fewer and fewer conservative friends, but I have been listening to some of them and they are not always wrong on every single subject. 

I'm almost afraid to type that last sentence out. To even say it seems to make you "Pro-Trump." None of my conservative friends like Trump. I mean, not a single one of them. But to watch them disagree with a liberal on Facebook you'd never know it. Not only have we destroyed the moderate voice in American politics, both sides are targeting their own as being "too soft" on either this or that. 

Instead of demanding principled politicians we've demanded stalwart ideological stormtroopers. Both sides seem almost as eager to weed out "traitors" from within as they are to defeat the other side. Not just defeat, to annihilate, forever. It can't be good, and no one seems able or willing to try to stop or slow the rolling juggernaut of political destruction. 

We could use more Laurie Pennys in the conversation, not less. I hope that no one describes raping me for saying so. As imperfect as open discourse can be, can't we all just agree and expect that those sorts of threats be condemned and suspended by the platform on which they occur? We're trying to get to the bottom of Russian interference in our political process and we can't even prevent people from making death and rape threats to an impassioned and bright writer who has the temerity to expect to be treated equally.  

What a world, what a world....


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Band of Bunions

(Pic: Ishai Meron)

Okay, most of the pics that come out of that little Russian camera, the Lomo LC-A, are total shit. The film is scratched or flashed and not always in a cool or interesting way. It's becoming a little bit of a waste of time and money to shoot with it, get the film developed, then spend my time scanning. 

One of my undercover Russian operatives took the picture above. We were planning to overthrow the monarchy - a sudden deposing of the infamous Burger King. Or, maybe the Hamburglar, though I do not believe him to be a significant monarch of any kind. I don't even think he's been knighted. Seems like a common street thief, but he'll have to go too. He probably has ties to the NRA.

Ugh, I've been arguing gun laws with my social political adversary again. He's like my anti-doppleganger - bizarro-├╝berman. He's as wrong about everything in direct inverted proportion to how often I am correct that it is alarming. Truly maddening and uncanny, how diametrically opposed he always is to the truth. An obstinate opinionater. 

I would do just about anything to set up my guitar amp, buy a few pedals, dust off the old drum machine, hijack a power outlet, and put together a punk rock band before it's all too late and I end up with rickets or scurvy.

I've been listening to this all morning. I can do an album along those lines, I think. It's not that difficult. It's much easier than I always told myself it would be. I know that much now. I want to be the world's first adult punk star.

And I want to be in a band. If I'm going to argue this much then I'd prefer it was over music. We're not going to have a drummer, but we can argue about that. We're just going to have one guy with a crippling addiction that never comes to practice and can't ever sing in key. We'll let him sit in the corner while we rehearse, and NEVER let him touch the MPC3000 XL.

I need a warehouse now, and maybe a bass player. 


Monday, March 26, 2018

I'm better than your Italian grandmother

(Forgive the overhead shadows)

My lasagna is the best. My friends will tout their grandmother's handmade pasta over all else, but they are wrong. You can buy fresh pasta in a roll and it won't have weird grandma germs all over it. Everything that your grandmother can do, I can do better - more pushups, a faster mile (running or cycling), can bench press more, would crush her in the UFC Octagon, and my lasagna is also much better than hers. Mine is even vegetarian - butternut squash, spinach, and a tiny little bit of broccoli - but it's still better that her lame old sausage and ricotta. I have a secret ingredient... 

Cooking: it's where science crushes faith. 

My team is only taking serious challenges right now, please don't waste our time. Any potential challenger must be your grandmother, she must be very serious about making lasagna, and she must put up cash, family heirlooms will not be accepted. 

Disclaimer: our organization is NOT recognized by the UFC.

The lasagna is what we had for dinner last night. Here was my breakfast from the same day, which was of course much better than your dad's (probably overcooked) steak:

So, if you were wondering then, no, I am not losing any weight on my time off. Only two of the three egg yolks stayed whole for the making of those eggs, if you were wondering about that, also. Don't think I was skimping on calories at all. There is half a pan of lasagna sitting in the refrigerator waiting for me to get hungry for lunch. 

Being on vacation is not the time to diet. That is my latest wisdom and I am embracing it, and you should also. 


Sunday, March 25, 2018

It's Time To Regulate The Militia

We went the the march yesterday. I was explaining to everyone that would listen that we need to do whatever it takes to protect our high school girls, but this message did not sit well with some people. 

I thought of all of these great sign ideas after it was too late to make them: "I Like Yoga Pants!" "Protect The Pubescent!" "Fuck The Pope!" etc., etc. Also, there were some serious ones. The title on this piece, for one, and "Yes, People Kill People, Now Shut The Fuck Up." 

I walked around most of the day congratulating people on being Pro-Life, which only seemed to anger them. One woman became so upset that I thought I might have to buy her an abortion just to prove that I was joking. 

I'm not pro-gun. I don't own one, but now I want to go to a gun shop for some reason. I was thinking of buying an AR-15, out of curiosity.

I actually do want to take people's guns away, but only a few people, one in particular. I want all of America's laws to change just so I can be smug towards a handful of people on Facebook. And to help to slow gun violence, of course.

School shootings represent such an incredibly small portion of the overall gun violence issue that people almost dismiss them, but they are the thing that has ignited the growing movement. I'm a parent, so it's difficult to imagine what it would be like for the parents of kids at these schools. Or what it would be like for Rachel and myself to get the news that there was an active shooter at our boy's school. The survivors might be deeply traumatized by it and they are, of course, the lucky ones. It is very difficult to consider. It becomes deeply upsetting quickly. It's about the most horrific thing a parent can imagine, that the last feeling their child had was that of pain or mortal terror. 

I can be imaginative, for good or ill, so I won't burden you here with some of the thoughts I've had on this subject in the last month or so. It's all just dreadful without much end. So, this is why I make jokes about all of it. That's how I respond. It's a valid response. What would you do?

Fuck the NRA and fuck your bullshit "rights." Join a state militia, register your firearms, or shut the fuck up. 

I would shoot anybody that disagrees with me right in the fucking eyeballs, though with a squirt gun filled with liquid acid, of course. 


Saturday, March 24, 2018

One Way To Never Be

A lazy Saturday, I hope. I've run out of fuel for a number of things. A tenor ukulele arrives later today. Perhaps I'll muster the gusto to string it and play for a bit. I have become slightly obsessed with the boy's ukulele, but it is very small and hard for me to play, though I spend my time trying. I have good hands for picking potatoes, for harvesting buried roots as food, not so much for the delicacy of musicianship. 

I bought a typewriter, an Olivetti, from the neighbor's garage sale when I was about fifteen or sixteen.  It sat in my room where I would practice writing, not terribly different from what I do here, though I was less able to hide the influence of the writers I was stealing from then. 

I almost bought my first car from that same neighbor, but my father talked me out of it, and I never quite forgave him. He convinced me to buy a more sensible car. The one at the neighbor's house was from the mid 60s and cherry red. I have long since forgotten the make and model. It wasn't a muscle car, but it had American Classicana written all over it. My father convinced me that it would break down often and be hard or expensive to repair. 

He was probably right, but that's no reason to forgive him. I learned my lesson, for a while anyway: Never let anybody talk you out of feeling cool.


Friday, March 23, 2018

Which opioids are right for me, Doctor?

I've tried to write posts the last few mornings, but there was nothing. I'm starting to suspect that if I didn't work a job then I might not write at all. It functions, perhaps, as an antidote to the perpetual pull of responsibilities. When I'm not working it doesn't feel quite as satisfying to spend some time organizing my thoughts. 

Is that what I'm doing here? Organizing my thoughts. 

Well, here's a thought: If you ever believed that you were having more fun than two kids jumping on a bed then you were wrong.

If what happens here is the organized version of my thoughts then I must contend with them in their otherwise raw, loose, runaway, or renegade forms. 

That's something for me to tell my new doctor. He was a nice old guy, but I will probably outlive him. He was very 20th century. So, that requirement is out the window. We met and chatted briefly. He asked me if I needed any prescription refills and I told him No, not yet. He is aware of my sleep and anxiety issues. He wants to help. He knows that if you have a job with insurance and have made it to the age of fifty then opioids can no longer hurt you, they can only help. I asked him if there were any new opioids that maybe I should give a try. He gave me a few pamphlets and some starter packs, tagged me with a tracker chip, and assured me that we'll get to the bottom of my pain, somehow. 

He asked me about my life a bit and I explained that we moved here almost seven years ago and since then Rachel and I broke up, got a divorce, never really went our separate ways, then we eventually reconciled. He asked if we were in therapy and as a bit of an unexpected reaction I was ashamed to say No. But then right away he said, Good. I told him that, at least for now, we're not trying to solve the past, we're just focused on the present and the future. He said that plan offers the best chances at happiness. Without going into it too much he seemed to indicate that the digging up of past resentments in the hopes of curing them doesn't seem to help very many people. Don't tell the counselors..., I thought.

He offered one other thought on the subject: If people focused on their own lives and issues rather than the other person's or the relationship then many issues would just resolve themselves. I'd say let the curtain fall on the past if you're happy now. Move on as best you can.

I said, I know, I know, that's what I keep telling her.

He smiled at me, aware enough already of how dry my sense of humor can be, or so it seemed. 

I mean, I think he was smiling. 


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Miles of Aisles

I'm lying on the couch listening to Joni Mitchell. I had meant to do more today, but the hours broke free from the treadmill of events and then drifted up into the diffuse light of the afternoon where they glow now and hang above me. I would open a bottle of wine but I am too lazy and comfortable here where I am. 

Miles of Aisles. There are Joni Mitchell albums I like more, but not by very much. I like her live albums in spite of their weaknesses. There are about ten albums she did between Ladies of the Canyon and Shadows and Light that are as good as anything done by anybody. They don't rely on any of the usual rock cliches that might otherwise help get you through the experience of listening to them. They are challenging and should be. The rewards are unique, inimitable, and untouchable. 

She's an unusually free singer and player. Her songs are brilliant. Her pleasure knows no limits, her voice is like a meadowlark, but her heart is like an ocean, mysterious and dark - to pervert and steal a line or two from Dylan. When listening, it's like being granted access to the these very private thoughts of hers. All unfamiliar at first, almost purely feminine. Like emotion feels, the lilting and lifting, the unexpected excitement of it free falling around you, never knowing when the bottom will appear, only that it will. There seems to be an incredible secret, only made known because it is broken, perhaps at the moment that it was. 

Listening to her album Blue is like watching a woman come out from behind a dressing screen to try on outfits; an open summer morning. Sun coming through the room, somehow filling the windows with the tenderness of privacy. Of course there is the incredible sadness mixed in with all the free-spiritedness. It's a good album when you're feeling like maybe everybody you've ever loved is a bit of bruised fruit. She's beautiful. Listen. It's incredible, such a complimentary set of talents. 

That completes my gushing Joni-crush portion of the post. I first heard her in the 80s and her music and singing confused me. It was nuanced in a way that I wasn't accustomed. It bothered me. I could hear there was something really great going on inside of it but that I didn't know enough to understand it on my own. I assumed age would help and I guess it has. I don't think I would have appreciated Prince nearly as much without her as a sort of comparative reference point to some of what he was doing, the way he was writing songs, precariously balancing the abstractions of life with details from the deeply personal. 

I dislike similar things about both artists, also. 


I had taken a break from wine and beer in the hopes of losing weight but it didn't work. I weigh as much now as I did coming straight out of the holidays, with a chocolate smudge still smeared across my candy-caned lips. Rum balls, etc. 

I might have to eat some humble pie and see if the liquor store will let me back in after all the horrible things I said. I blamed them for everything, called the cops, gave names and details, anecdotes, recited poems to customers, reported suspicious behavior, acted anonymously, left early am messages on voice mail, some of them just blank silence... all of it. There were invectives hurled; a near complete breakdown in decorum.  

I shouldn't joke. It is a perverse part of my nature, of anyone's. Joking has something to do with comedy. Pretty sure Jung said that.



Monday, March 19, 2018

another one fights the dust...

... another one smites the rust.

One of the last of the original buddies I have at work is leaving, will be gone before I return, departed to the state north of here. California is America's sideburn.  

I'm disappointed. He should have kept the office exactly as it was until I returned. I can become unexpectedly violent when disoriented, or if someone has moved something on my desk, or when I don't recognize my face in the morning, or in the mirror, etc.  - sometimes, not every time. 

I don't always wake up at the office, etc.

No. No. No. No.

I make a joke out of everything; am amused by nothing, afraid of it, maybe, or of its completeness.


Sunday, March 18, 2018

Wrinkles, Time, Etc.

A St. Patrick's Day come and gone without a single beer or sip of wine. The day was over before I was able to adequately shame myself with the traditional liquid catalyst, my beloved behavioral elixir, the gin and jolly juice. Ah well, what can one do. My Irish heritage may soon be revoked. We live in a use it or lose it economy. I'm not sure how much of my heritage I actually inherited. I remember eating corned beef and cabbage and Irish stew sometimes when I was younger. I'll admit that they're both still dishes that can be liked when under extreme drinking pressure.

Beyond that, my Irish heritage seems nearly unrelated to my southern upbringing. I was never really very Catholic. Never at all a good one. I only inherited the soul squashing shame and the unlimited twee reverence for all things sacrosanct.

We went to the ILM theater in the Presidio yesterday which was super-cool for an old film nerd like me. There was a private screening of the film A Wrinkle in the Plot, with the visual effects supervisor, Rich McBride speaking. Though after watching the disaster unfold with the boy and his mom we did not stay for the Q & A session. I had only one question: Were the actors and director in this film all using the same script?

The film was bad, very bad. I give it my lowest score possible: 50 (out of 100). 

My rating system is based on a flat bottom threshold that incorporates my love for going to see any film in a theater, even if the film itself sucks, which this one very much did. No film can go below 50, but working your way down to 50 requires an orchestrated team comprised exclusively of failures  and a self-contained visual document of their failings. 

I love to sit in the dark and watch light bounce off the screen, to see some type of story attempt to be told in light and sound. Truly, I love going to see films in the theater. Even bad ones can be interesting, sometimes more so. You can, when bored, ask yourself which teams backfired the most miserably from scene to scene. Sometimes I watch the credits only to try to determine which special effects unit was to be the most lauded for either highlighting or obscuring the script or directorial problems. 

This film made those questions a little bit easier: it was almost always the script department. Special effects alone can not usually save a poorly told story. The writing became rewriting magically on the screen in front of us, then there were runaway last minute script edits, then maybe another rewrite, then a few on-set patches and possibly some very important plot bridging scenes cut from the final product.

Who knows, but there was big trouble in little Narnia. If you told me that this was the first fully crowdsourced script that made it to production then I would believe you, and I'd happily bump my score up to 55 for that. 

Casting makes a noteworthy mention, also. Having such known stars mixed with the unknown kids that struggled to deliver their lines - especially that little evil shit that we all knew was going to turn on his family - was more than just a little bit off-putting. But the tremendous chasms in the plot were unforgivable and nothing could band-aid them back to the scab that was the final edit of the film. All of the lead actors were off-putting, at best. 

Oprah looked like Superman's father, Marlon "Jor-El" Brando, after having been rolled around in a glitter pit for an afternoon or two. Seems as if she was perhaps cut from the all female remake of Ghostbusters as the Pillsbury Doughgirl that eats New York, then stopped by a pride afterparty for a few days before arriving on the set of Wrinkles. Ready for action, as it were.

Her parts seemed to have a lot of character direction in them: looks downward, smiles knowingly. I thought the idea was that we were supposed to be providing young girls and boys with heroic icons, not media moguls trapped in a well paid opium hallucination. 

I have tremendous powers to willingly suspend my disbelief, just look at my own life, but this film tempted those upper limits. The actors demanded that you suspend everything in terms of faith in a story. They were there to appeal only to the parents that were in enforced attendance. You were not watching characters in a film but television personalities attempting to overcome the difficulties and limitations of their talents. I had to remind myself several times that Oprah Winfrey was once an Oscar nominee and that Reese Witherspoon once actually won for Best Actress.

There is no greater reminder of the past being over than is the present.   

How did Mindy Kaling become older than me, and Reese Withersoon didn't help any. They both looked as if they had just given birth in a Chuck E. Cheese, or maybe to a Chuck E. Cheese. Reese's best moments were when she transformed into a flying cabbage leaf, an Avatar fern uprooted from middle earth and given a dose of ecstasy. 

Zach Gallifuckoffis should be ashamed of himself, also. What a disappointing shill he's become. Yet oddly, his casting was one of the least distracting in the film. He plays an affectedly simpering loser that encourages kids to not be like him, which was the only truth I could cling to in this busted flush of narrative disaster.

Maybe it wasn't their fault. The book that this movie was based on is very popular but not very good. It's a collection of personal midlife confusions and adult regrets as told from an imaginary re-living of adolescence. It is designed to encourage kids that life becomes temporarily easier if you retreat into drug use when the time comes.

It's other message is quite simple: readily available time travel with eccentric strangers dressed in sparkles is the best way to bring back your runaway dad.  

Speaking of, the actor that played the deadbeat dad, in real life, is a child molester. I have no proof of this but if you can watch that film and not feel protective of any nearby children every time he's on screen then you are part of the problem. It is only a matter of time before he is in prison. He seemed like either a defrocked priest or one who could not quite handle the moral rigors of seminary school. 

Okay, I had not meant to write a movie review. I normally try to write about films and music that I love, to avoid the type thing that has just happened here. But I don't get to go see films of my own choosing any more. I'm trapped in the ongoing miasmic cinematic needs of a six year old.

My tastes in film lately fluctuate somewhere between Frozen and Coco.

Here is a Jedi pissing on the world. This should help to ease the pain.


Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Feast Day of Patrick the Saint

Today is Rachel's birthday. She has been fibbing about her age for a while now, so I'm not sure how old she is supposed to be publicly. I just do the easy math from her birthdate in March of 197*... but those numbers don't align with what she has been telling people, so there is an issue of an imbalance between my discretion and her candor. 

I'll keep her numerical secret safe for a little while longer.  A relationship sure can accumulate an unfair number of secrets over time. For a while she and I did everything we could to dress up our closet skeletons, get them liquored up a bit, spin them in circles, plant some drugs on them, then waltz them out to get some good public exposure. 

If an expose was ever done on our love then perhaps YouTube seems to be the best outlet for it. 

You know what they say: white people can't jump but little white lies sure can dance. Well, I just said it. I'm not sure what it means but it sounds vaguely racist. Are we allowed to make fun of white people's dance choreography, on this, their most sacred of spiritual holidays? The Feast of the Martyr of the Blood of Patrick the Saint who brought his Best Buddy Christ to the Lapping Lush Green Shores of Ireland, the little bowdlerized Island next to the Other.

Now, Rachel and I are the image of a sweet middle-aged couple. We're very tender towards one another, it's touching. We seem interested in protecting one another from the cruelties of living, as much as is possible or convenient, whichever comes first.

Here is an unplanned picture of us that our son took at breakfast one morning in LA. 

If you compare that image to the one above that I took above you'll notice that I am a much better photographer than a six year old. If you disagree with me then I would like to either fight you later today or make fun of you from a distance on social media. I turn 50 this year, so my fighting days might be coming to an end. Old trolls never die.

CS will hate that picture, of course. He has been cataloguing all of his hatreds of me lately. To my surprise some of them actually have something to do with me. 

When he's not busy outlining our differences, and then proving himself packed full of parade-grade horse shit, he has been sending me articles about how dangerous and stupid it is for me to have a long term prescription to Xanax. Benzodiazepines are supposed to be a short-term solution. That's always how I have used them - as a near immediate fix to any problem, not so much as a chemical 401k to fight the plague of retirement anxiety. 

There is no moment in which the short term ever becomes the long term. These two timeframes seem nearly unrelated to me. There is always more of the short term puddled up around me, needing to be managed. The long term is very far off and out of sight, where I pray it forever stays. 

How else am I expected to handle my anxious inhibitions than with a potent anti-anxiety disinhibitor? Alcohol can't be expected to solve every one of life's problems, only the really big and recurring ones. You need mostly undetectable solutions for some things. Like: a casual visit to the DMV, operating rental machinery, Christmas morning, or being forced to listen to other people talk. 

How do people endure parent-teacher conferences otherwise? 

In truth, I rarely find the need for the stuff any more, though I am often in search of new reasons. I've learned to manage my stress by having the prescription available, if and when needed. And of course through other factors like diet, exercise, and hopefully not ever working another day in my long life again. 

Having a bottle filled with magical Xanax does wonders for both anxiety and boredom. It can, quite literally, transmute one state into the other. It's a little matter what you actually do with the bottle, or if you ever even use it, just knowing that they're there makes life inestimably easier. Just thinking about them makes me feel as if I've satisfactorily pooped. Who knows, maybe I have. I am so relaxed right now. I'm lying perfectly still, dressed entirely in green, so that those little leprechauns can't find me. I think I can hear those fuckers everywhere. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Point Blank Hobo Hunting

One potential lawmaker has suggested arming the homeless. I have been more for homing the armless, but that seems only a difference in semantics.

Another has argued against arming teachers because "most of them are women." Now, we all know that women shouldn't be allowed to own guns until they lose some weight. Guns are a God-given right and a beautiful responsibility but they can also be a reward. We might need to add a menopausal clause.

Oh yes, most importantly: guns are the answer. And a tool.
The one thing they are not: a problem.

It appears that we're finally going to have that sensible national conversation that everybody's been wanting to have. Time to ask the important questions: Why aren't there more female hobos? And, How can we get them some pump-action shotguns? 

Would those be hobas? What is the correct term for a female hobo? If they're currently living between boxes would they be trans-hobas? Should they be allowed to choose which bush to pee behind, or should there be designated bushes for the lovely lady bums? Let's at least look to North Carolina for the tested and proven answers the nation needs.

So many questions, such tough legislative decisions. 

I'm so proud of America right now. My balls are twice their normal size, about how one of Lance Armstrong's must have been at some point. I knew this nation could finally shift the conversation somewhere interesting if we all just put our collective minds to it. When we were children we were told, You can be anything you want to be. Looks as if we took that message to heart - we decided to be a bunch of fucking dunces. To say that America is spitballing ideas right now is a wild understatement. It's an all out spitball war, soon to be a food fight. Where the fuck is my pizza cannon when I need it? 

As a nation we have decided to address the issue by looking to the homeless. Because, what else could we possibly do?

As I pointed out yesterday, this is NOT satire (and it can not be bested):
“Frankly I think the ideal weapon would be a pistol,” he told the Guardian, “but due to the licensing requirements in the state we’re going to have a hard enough time getting homeless people shotguns as it is.

With a little legislative ingenuity I'm sure that getting desperate people the weapons they need will unfold naturally from the sensible center from which all reason springs. If tax revenues aren't there to solve these type problems then, really, what even is the point of government any more?

The obvious answer to at least one of our problems is to arm schoolchildren. What other possible lines of logic are we going to avoid in this conversation? It's as if we can't even discuss the obvious solutions because of, you know, "liberal correctness." A loosely pinned hand grenade at the center of every classroom might also prevent these crazies from ever thinking about stepping foot into our schools. The only thing that can stop a bad boob is a big booby trap.

Controlled demolitions of our malls might make these crazies think twice about ever stepping foot in there, also.

Everything should be on the table at this point, except your concealed weapons.

Fuck, we could even arm the gun shops. Why not? I just sunk all of my savings into these things known as "bump stocks." I expect to make a Wall Street killing.

You know - buy low, aim for the body

From here we can derive an obvious solution to another recurring violence problem: We need to arm our inmates. Who else suffers as much uninvited violence as our prisoners? Not all of that delicious sex is love-based, you know. They are mostly silent victims and it's time we stopped ignoring these preventable crimes. The only thing that can stop a bad rapist with a gun, etc., etc.

We'll want to militarize the police, because Guns Need Guns. If there is only one coherent takeaway from all of this madness then surely that must be it.

America has a gun problem, a paucity. How best to address this runaway dearth?

Just imagine what might have happened on April Fool's Day 1984 if Marvin Gaye's father didn't have that pistol? It's impossible to know what horror might have unfolded. He was a minister/preacher, of course, so we'll need to arm them as well. How better to protect religious freedoms than with a little concealed armament. A couple clips filled with the lead commandments.

Two words: Justifiable Filicide.

Two more words: Branch Davidians, Mother Fuckers!

The only thing that can stop a bad government with tanks is probably Marvin Gaye's dad. 

At least they would have had a chance...

Most solutions to gun violence seem to rely rather heavily on Hollywood style heroics. It's bizarre, until you realize that what's happening is a form of extremist-envy. Gun toters don't understand why they don't get a chance to show what a gun can really do when in the hands of a good guy just like them. They're happy to admit we have a mental health issue but show no signs of reluctance in passing out firearms as a solution.

What America needs is a good homegrown hero with sensible answers. Someone we can all admire, like Keanu Reeves. Because the only thing that can stop a speeding bus with a bomb would be a stationary turret with surface to surface capabilities manned by homeless children, once we can finally rid ourselves of the child labor laws of course.  

I mean, what's the only thing that can stop a bad abortion doctor on opioids? 

That we treat the womb as a gun free zone only makes the fetus a soft target. The ovaries play an important part of the well regulated munitions. 

The sensible questions never seem to cease, yet somehow aren't even being asked by most people.

The answers are right there in front of us: Mexico will pay for our guns.

Is there any problem that guns can't solve? What could possibly address the issue of drinking and driving if not bullets and whiskey?

I say Assault Rightful! 

We could throw children at the issue of child-abuse - problem solved. 

Heart disease kills far more people than does gun violence. Are we going to outlaw arteries next? Are we all just going to be anti-aorta now? Has anybody even tried to treat a heart attack with bacon yet? 

What else has the media been hiding from us?

The only thing that can stop a bad sentence is a woman's period. 


Thursday, March 15, 2018

How and Why To Stir Crazy

Let's try one more time... I've started writing two different posts this morning but had to abandon both of them. They were satirical, but as I did some research on my subjects I became too depressed to go on. Life is much worse than satire, which should rely on appeal to a shared moral code or at the least a set of common sensibilities. The more I scratched at those components the more I saw only my own ephemeral presumptions. I wondered if this meant that people weren't as full of shit as I suspected them to be. 

I felt adrift at the possibility that this is the world that some people may have wanted. The idea that this is a return to some cherished state undid me. 

I don't know, and can't seem to detect very well, whether people know to not take me seriously. This makes much of what I do dangerous. I love to flirt with naughty ideas. There was a time, not long ago, when this was the expectation. Now it only confirms you as the very thing you are ridiculing, nothing more. 

Ah well, I'll be back to underthinking things soon enough, where satisfying my own perverse demands and personal expectations become much less of a prohibitive barrier to truth.


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The New Nothing: Hic et Nunc

I've fucked up, somehow. I wondered what it might be like to do nothing. I found out. I may as well be working. There is little difference in my life between working and not working, which saddens me though I'm not quite sure why. The loss must be purely imaginary. It seems to be a combination between me either liking my job or me kidding myself about having other interests to pursue. Or, perhaps this paralysis has nothing at all to do with me. 

A recognition of how much time is spent being a dad: all of it. You can only ever be relieved from the most immediate needs. The people who love being a parent are narcissists of the very worst kind. It is neither giving nor loving to enjoy being needed. 

Freedom is an odd notion and a difficult claim. You must be free from something, some force that would otherwise hold you. Little matter that the captivator may be captivating. Loving a child does not require your entirety, but somehow that's what's given. Maybe I've only lost the ability to wander, to meander aimlessly without regard to time. Never knowing when I will be needed is nearly indistinguishable from always being needed. 

Yesterday, after waking up tired from the drive home, I lounged on the couch reading for most of the day. Time vanished around me, minutes evaporated, forming the hours of clouds above which then never rained. Each of them moved slowly from my living room, silent as disinterested ghosts, one at a time though as if in unison, leaving the plain ceiling as open white sky, and me falling far beneath it. 

Many must wish to live a life of consequence, of meaning. When given some small license to pursue an interest I chose mostly to hide from time, to take cover from the passing hand of the clock, the shadow of its wings as a swooping sundial of the sky. The distant screeching of yet another sunset. 

Seconds and hours, firsts and fits, ticking maledictions, a disintegrating series of curses, each moment receding as it arrives, untouched or misunderstood, discarded or lost. It requires some imagination to avoid the immediate, to bridge the imaginary brook between what was and a when that might only one day be. Concentration is needed to avoid the present moment, to waste it in the past's senseless recurring and the future's recurring apprehensions. It helps to be alone. 

Time teaches you to be alone, how to and why. Always by its own schedule, which it expects you to practice without warning. No wonder that people meditate. It's a way of memorizing the sensation of time. All so that it can later be recognized or ignored at will. You commit silence to each single second's passing. 


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Home Again

We meandered along the coast a little bit, stopped and had seafood lunch at Gladstone's, passed the old Getty Museum in Malibu before cutting up through Topanga to intersect with the highway that would eventually takes us north. After that it was highway driving home.

Near Bakersfield we stopped at a little place that specialized in selling citrus - oranges of all kinds. There was an unfinished dinosaur park out back still under what appeared to be suspended construction. There was a sign up advertising lama rides, though there were no lamas, no lama trainers. It was the type place that is disappearing from the landscape. I pictured Humbert and Lolita making a stop during America's better days.

I didn't take nearly any pictures while we were gone. I brought a camera and lenses but spent my time otherwise, mostly lounging around the hotel room watching golf or anything else that might put me to sleep or a state very near it. That is, whenever the boy was not jumping from one bed to the other. 

It was raining there and it is raining here in Sonoma and will be for the next few days. I will lounge on the couch with a book and the wonder pup, Barkley. The sound and diffuse light from the rain coming in through the window will be our clock for the day. The sound of many seconds hitting the earth in rapid and random succession. 


Monday, March 12, 2018

LA >> SF >> Sonoma

We return to Sonoma today, via SF. Yesterday, there was a late lunch and then time by the hotel pool, into the early evening. Some friends came by, we chatted and drank champagne. I swam with the boy for a little while, jumping into the water with him on my back. He and I love swimming. We also loved swimming last year and the year before. The offense of reliving old experiences, as CS has accused me this morning. He hates anything that sounds like pleasure derived from someone else's past. Maybe he's right.

It's true. I am a bit nostalgic for some people, places, music, and even the occasional old movie. I enjoy seeing people that I like and I tend to like the people that have remained in my life more than those that haven't. It is the sin of fondness. It's curable, but perhaps only with age. 

LA was good. It was a nice weekend. The death which was the cause of our trip was very unfortunate, of course, but seeing friends was pleasant. Have I already said that? Perhaps I am becoming a bit sentimental for saying things twice.

I'm looking forward to the drive. I know.... There must be something wrong with me, but I also like driving. Perhaps I am romanticizing road trips a bit. I love the loose, extended narrative of the road. Talking away as the earth slips by under the wheels as a hum. Not a billboard in site. Just the open, rolling, golden land and us. 400 miles of it.

We'll make sure to listen to music we've never heard before, see how long that lasts.


Sunday, March 11, 2018

You Are Leaving

It is done. The memorial service that we drove to LA for was last night. There were photos and memories of the deceased shared. Torsten, originally from East Berlin. There was spiced sausage, potatoes, and other German foods served. He was a very sweet and thoughtful man. I met him a handful of times and found him to always be tender and sincere. Rachel's testimony was interspersed with tears, the surest signs of emotion escaping. It was all touching and sad, and beautiful, as you would hope it to be. It was a reminder to go to the hospital if you think you may be having heart problems. For me, it was. He knew something was wrong but did not wish to see a doctor. He died in his sleep. Men.

What I was most fascinated with were the pictures of him when he was young, before the wall fell. Mostly black and white snapshots, some color shots in the 80s, some of him as a child with his father in the late 60s. Glimpses of what life was like then. We were told there was no happiness on the other side, which was evidently untrue in these pictures. There was one of him as a young man at Checkpoint Charlie taken from the eastern side, opposing the American Sector. He was standing there by the now famous sign smiling. All of the images were of him smiling. Yet another reminder for me. There were others of him gleefully chipping away at the wall as it was coming down, surrounded by others looking and feeling likewise. I watched it all happen from television, nearly in disbelief. I remember the feeling, that of what must be a global celebration, as if goodness somehow won, or at the very least had a glimpse of a chance. 

A portion of the wall was put on display at the Hard Rock Cafe in Orlando, a concrete symbol of the times. 

We may go have brunch today with a few friends. There were a handful at the memorial last night. We have all grown older, of course, there is no surprise there. Though we all seemed content, if not happy. It was pleasant to see familiar and friendly faces. There is some softening with age, even as the lines of age deepen, the stories ripening in our voices. There was something satisfying to stand and chat with older versions of ourselves. Our boy running from room to room, being a boy, a child, prepared to take over something, practicing for the inevitable coup of time. I was charmed by it all. We seemed so at ease in our skin. So lovely, scarce, even precious. Our numbers now diminished by one.


Saturday, March 10, 2018

Los Francisco

We made it to LA. Well, sort of. Venice, CA. The boy stayed up the entire time, until 11pm. I suppose he wanted to see what the adult world was all about. Like most, he is fascinated by things cloaked from his access. 

I was going to describe our departure from Sonoma, our drive into SF to pick Mom up, and then our time traveling down Interstate 5, but I've already provided ample evidence to demonstrate that I'll be 50 this year. PM me for weather, windspeed, barometer reading, accident reports and all other driving conditions up to and including precise calculations on mileage/gas usage. 

We stopped at Kettleman City to see the new Tesla electric car charging superstation, because we are nothing if not liberal. We walked around marveling at all of the science in the air around us and the wires, offering to start up casual conversations about Obama or wind power, letting everybody know at what price we bought in to Apple stock but of course not where we sold. 

In truth we stopped to go to this themed roadside "attraction" whose main subject seems to the the old west, or maybe the California gold rush of 1849. You'll get the idea with this image of one of the many kid's playground there. Old Timey fun. 

The boy ran around discovering all of the little hidden passageways and secret slides. He made a friend, who was celebrating his birthday, so they raced each other to see who was faster. Kids are great. They make friends as needed. I wish I could do that. I'm struggling to hold on to any of my friends. I blame my speech, behavior, and demeanor.

But, as with so many other things in life, in searching quickly for that image I discovered that kids are being born deformed and dying at an incredibly alarming rate there, because the little interstate stop (not the one pictured above, but the township in general) is a toxic waste dump. It doesn't even qualify as being a city, which is perhaps why a company would opt to operate there. Who knows. 

So, congrats on your new location, Nikolai. You really did it!

In Tesla's defense, this little blip on the map is conveniently located at the midway point in the drive between SF and LA. It functions as a family mediator if LA and SF were sibling cities. LA would be Martin Shkreli and SF would be Bikram Choudhury, though Bikram might still be wandering the surface of the moon at Burning Man, trying to "re-find himself."

Are those references too obscure? Ah well, if you are reading this then you should have internet access. If not, please contact me privately. I am also deeply interested in time travel. 

In the future, time travel will not only be possible it will be mandatory. Every twelve months, starting Sunday, you will have to go forward to a time that the government wants you to be in. Otherwise you might sunder the sacred Daylight Spacetime Discontinuum.


Friday, March 9, 2018

The Would Be King of Denmark

I must be going a bit stir crazy. I've spent too much time in my living room, lounging or pacing about with very little to do, pulling books from the shelves and reading aloud as if I'm rehearsing a dramatic part for a night class on theater at the community college. It has fucked up my sense of humor a little bit, and has worked to make public some of my more private neuroses.

You can, if you choose, read any passage from Hamlet and speak as if it is the character Hamlet is uttering the words. This is one of my recent literary discoveries and possibly my ticket out of here. Hamlet can say almost anything. It only adds to his indecisive mystique. Infinite jest, excellent fancy; all of that. Particularly the Oh, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown part. I read Ophelia's lines as if they are Hamlet's, also. This gives me odd patriarchal pleasures, etc. 

Much like Hamlet, I struggle with indecision, fears of insanity, unconscious desires, and with the primogeniture laws that handed my uncle the throne. I suspect that I am being spied upon any time I whisper to Ophelia. I have all the basic components of the character down, I believe, now I just need to find a skull that I can bring with me when dropping the boy off at school, to practice my stream of consciousness soliloquies on children.

To be continued... or not to be... that is unquestioned. 

Only this will secure my happiness. 

As part of my dramatic acting out of various roles I have been typing my wisdom into Facebook while standing up. Not all of this translates well or correctly into that world. I see that now.

I tried to make a joke with a friend about International Women's Day. I shifted from pretending to respond as a child (which was the basis of her post), to then conceding that perhaps I misunderstood the phrasing, then went on to spell out my attraction to women with European accents as a sort of Austin Powers International Man of Self-Stupidity, a talking anachronism, but without any of the requisite speaker cues that might have given somebody an indication as to what I meant or that I was merely making a joke of some men's attitudes, not trying to actually advance those views of women out into the real world. 

It all made sense when I was speaking it out loud in my living room, a copy of Hamlet in my hand. It landed flat. But worse than that, it seemed to carry the vague suggestion that I was either being denigrating towards the day to celebrate women or much worse: my friend, who is of course a woman. 

I did't notice any of this. I went for a bike ride. That conversation thread was open on my computer when I came home and I looked at it with fresh eyes, and growing horror, how my spending so much time alone has resulted in what might be considered overly insular humor. It sat there, like a fresh steaming Denny's Denver Hamlet on the screen.

I deleted the seemingly offending portions and wrote my friend an explanation and apology. Sensibly, she left me out to dry for an hour or more without responding. I was sweating droplets of pure man-shame by the time she did eventually take the time out to laugh at me, to my great relief.

I still felt as if I had gotten the stinky shit kicked out of me while trying to ride a mechanical bull at a country bar, without experience or any provocation to do so. It was all my own doing. Left peacefully to pursue my own liberties I'll still somehow end up with an unexplained black eye every now and then. I guess I must have walked into another door. 

I started to write an explanation and qualification of my support for feminism here, but it will have to wait for another time.

To summate briefly: of course women deserve equal opportunity and access to that which society offers, to be treated as equals to men in every regard.

Women are the architects of civility, without which very few of the finenesses we enjoy would even exist, those things having never been considered previously or elsewhere. Recently, many women have sought to update the protocols of that civility and to demand awareness and change as it pertains to sexual assault and harassment. This should surprise no one and might only be resisted or mocked by the dull coarseness of brutishness.

Don't - don't hang back with the brutes...

But also, do not believe that because I question the development and tactics of feminist tribalism that I am opposed to the premise of their struggle. It is the methods and some of the claims that I take issue with, none of which should qualify me as anything less than an ally in the pursuit of equality. The advancement of the idea of equality seems to be, to me, among the noblest that humankind has undertaken. Human history can be viewed as witness to that struggle and its progress. Though that history is neither exhausted, explained, nor dismissed through that singular view, either. 

The use of group identity seems in part to be a defensive position taken up easily by those made uncomfortable with the relatively recent arrival of extreme self-consciounsess in western culture. There is more to the telling of humanity than only that of oppression and the oppressed, unless one chooses to subscribe utterly to the incurious claims of the contemporary.

Perhaps more on that later, also.

We leave for LA today. A friend of Rachel's from Berlin passed away recently. There is a memorial service tomorrow. We will drive down the state all together - the pup, the boy, mom, and myself. A family road trip. I have prepared music for the car, though my selections are not impervious to the power of either the vote or the veto.

Some of my fondest memories - those in which I felt the most complete and together as child - were of being in the car with my family as I was growing up. A combination of adventure, experiment, and perpetual test to all the rules that first instilled within me that familial sense of civility, where most concepts of equality and injustice are first born, learned, and then ill enforced. Equality starts at home and nobody has yet suggested where it might possibly finish, but LA is its latest destination.


Thursday, March 8, 2018

An accretion of caprices

She is working her way through some love sorrow, searching for personal redefinition, some hopeful shedding of the uncertainties of living.

We chatted briefly in abbreviations, the emotional shorthand that friendship permits. Sentences typed with earnestness to break the heart of the writer first, then the reader. I loved her and have much affection for her now, though I did not know what to do with either mine or hers when I had it. Or rather, when we had it. The romance was predicated on a forced dynamic, it was of an age. Perhaps they all are. We survived our attempts, though not at first.

Somehow, with love, failure is a refusal to change and success is the refusal to be changed. Or, that is at least a part of it. It has been the most noticed part of mine.

The enduring ability to love is nothing if not ruthlessly stubborn. We call it forgiveness and understanding. Words that when examined point towards the other, a mild rebuke and imputation. Needed virtues advertised humbly as decoction to the failing of others.

So much, such as it is.


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

It's not too late, Sean...

... you can still turn this thing around, Said my doctor to me this morning. 

Well, what he did say was that he is retiring and that I should keep eating steaks and drinking whiskey, they're working perfectly for me. He's never seen anything like it. But he emphasized: I'm on my own now. I have 30 days to find a new General M.D. My trusty doc is moving to Thailand. Good for him, I thought. 

Good for him, I repeated to myself. 

I made a special trip by his office to get as many refills as I could on Xanax, Cialis, and whatever else he had lying around. I explained to him that opioids are just a tool, that only people kill people, but opioids kill pain. The only thing that can stop a good guy on Fentanyl, etc. I asked him if liquid morphine was out of the question, for old times. I like to be super relaxed when I get erections that endure more than four hours of personal use. The last thing you need is to be stressed during that remaining fifteen minutes when you're sliding into the jelly jar and she's almost there. You need some basic wits about you in the event that anything goes wrong. 

Like, if you're so relaxed you poop yourself. It's not sexy. 
Do a Google search for "action sex poop," you'll see.  

I finally had a chance to ask Doc all of the stuff I was too ashamed to during our regular visits - What does necrotizing fasciitis look like? How long does it take for a pimple in my nose to travel to the base of my brain, at top speed? How many eyelash mites does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? Why do vaccines cause autism? Is this genital wart on my tongue anything to worry about? How long after I die will my stomach bacteria be celebrating in post-death farting? Does my navel smell normal to you? Why doesn't my sphincter hold everything in the way it used to?

You know, I'm a curious guy. I like to know stuff. 

He assured me that he doesn't keep nitrous tanks at his office, that I was confusing what he does with my dentist. I asked him if he'd put in a good word for me. He looked me in the eye and promised he would. 

I hope he enjoys Thailand. I kept repeating the word Bangkok in his office, in whispers. It's a funny word, like practitioner. I'll miss him and his vast prescriptive authority. I've been practicing his signature for just this type of emergency occasion. I can be trusted with a monograph. 

I demanded that he correct my medical records before forwarding them on to whatever new herpetologist I find. I want a younger doctor now. An experimentalist. I want my next physician to outlive me. He told me he would redact anything that did not shine a favorable light on my health history. He reminded me, though, that there is no cure for some of the stuff surging through my veins. That I will carry a record of my curiosities and tastes with me, in a sense.  

Once I have my full records I will publish them here along with my 2017 taxes. Because I believe in honesty.

I am growing almost bored of my sabbatical. It has been very relaxing and nice, but that's it. My life isn't all that different when I'm working. I guess that I do like interacting with people. Who would have ever guessed? I'm a social guy. 

Yesterday I read two books. I will finish another today. 

If I had more money, or was younger, owned a flash red sports car, won the lottery, maintained access to a line of stupid cash, and had a bunch of problematic friends that didn't work, or didn't work very much, or only when I wanted them to... then I could probably round up some trouble or fun, or both. Some amusing recklessness.

As it is, I've been listening to the Turangalila Symphonie first thing every morning, to help clear the cobwebs of slumber a bit. After that, everything seems delayed and downhill, as if the sun and moon have circled their wagons around me in slow motion. I sit at the center of this little known universe listening to the wind, 99 and a half million years old, a gecko with a dry tongue, sunbathing in trapped amber, one eye still stuck on the fly. 


Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Well, hello

(... a land of wine and honey)

Yesterday as I was riding my bike I came off of the end of the bike path which cuts behind this small city of ours and started up the road near Sebastiani winery, which is the road that leads up into the hills, my little exercise valley. I was comfortably peddling in the highest gear, which means I was going about as fast as my mountain bike can go on flat road but without seeming as if I was putting a lot of effort in. I wasn't trying to gain speed, only keeping my current pace. I was riding upright in a thin shirt, having just come off the path and onto the road. I gently steered my bike to go around a car that was parked on the side of the road. As I did, a woman turned to leave the car from the driver's side and looked up to see me and smiled. These things happen so quickly. 

As her eyes met me and mine I nodded as I always do, to let her know that I see her and she need not worry. A bike traveling towards a person unexpectedly at high speeds, with a +200 pound rider, can startle or scare anybody and probably should. But I didn't seem to scare this woman at all. 

Her response seemed anything but frightened.

Well, hello....

I was able to get a quick smile in. Almost shy, bashful at the unexpected attention. It was flattering. Everybody should be flattered from time to time. Little magical compliments of approval. 

These moments seem so odd to write about, as if only from vanity. It was partially about me, how it made me feel, but it might have been anybody and often enough is.

Some innocent mystery come to life, a tickle in the heart that circulates in the veins, little swimming smiles, the body's full beaming.

Afterwards, I had no memories of climbing the hill.