Friday, August 30, 2002

for the past 13 months, i have lived without cable television. instead, i rent movies or fuss with a pair of tempermental rabbit ears which allow an only passable version of jennifer garner's glowing visage to appear before me on sunday evenings. sure, i yearn for iron chef and recall with fondness the halcyon days of antiques roadshow with clear reception, but being without cable hasn't made my life completely intolerable.

for a long time, i missed being in the pop culture loop, like when christine would refer to the carpenters on trading spaces by their first names almost like she knew them, or when the boys would debate the plot intricacies of the sopranos, a show i was only familiar with because of print ads in glossy magazines that i'd browse at the library. but then there are times like this morning. all of my online news outlets were practically giddy, about to pee their pants over something as inane as the MTV video awards.

headlines included:
eminem calls moby a girl.
giuliani receives standing ovation.
tears for lisa 'left eye' lopes.

...maybe i'm not missing much.

last seen: reservoir dogs
last heard: stereolab "international colouring contest"
reading: found magazine and, also, not in our name

Thursday, August 29, 2002

our healthlink web team meeting was rather unproductive. the speaker who is co-ordinating our entire health fair failed to show up, so we rushed through the rest of our brief agenda and then spent some time coming up with suggestions for library/healthlink t-shirts to replace the heinous, teal monstrosities that we were issued. why is it that administrators believe: free, butt-ugly, activewear apparel = increased worker bee morale?

our idea of a black t-shirt with skulls or biohazard symbols emblazoned on them will probably not see daylight. after the important stuff was out of the way, we sat eating gigantic cookies from nova's bakery, courtesy of the team captain, and the conversation between babyface and i turned to music. he told me about his plans to develop some amorphous thing which would allow people in his cabal to discuss mixed tapes and such. we talked about art of the mix which is set up to do kind of the same thing.

on a somewhat related note, i stayed up until the wee hours last night crafting a tape for this weekend's trip to asheville. taste the magic:

side a
wilson pickett- hey jude
ann peebles- i can't stand the rain
al green- belle
led zeppelin- you shook me
rolling stones- 19th nervous breakdown
talking heads- (nothing but) flowers
roy ayers- coffy is the color
curtis mayfield- (don't worry) if there's a hell below we're all going to go
marvin gaye- anger

side b
curtis mayfield- move on up
dusty springfield- willie and laura mae jones
prince- nothing compares 2 U
vince guaraldi- it's your dog, charlie brown
sleater kinney- oh!
white stripes- the union forever
versus- blue again
bettie serveert- healer
aislers set- hit the snow
dressy bessy- that's why
belle and sebastian- the rollercoaster ride

last seen: platoon
last heard: nick drake "time of no reply"

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

[kid-tested, mother-approved, read: censored version] last night, a random memory was dredged up from, what now seems, so long ago. i was a librarian in the art and music department of the witchita public library and my boss decided to send me to an art reference workshop at a museum in kansas city. my ex had some vacation time, so we made a little getaway out of it. one of my department underlings, rick, had also secured funding for the workshop and being sans une voiture, we gave him a ride. the night before the conference, we checked into our hotel and took solace in a darkened, empty bar with cheap beer and darts.

the conference itself was fine and, as dusk quickly approached, covering the desolate winter-in-kansas landscape, rick asked if we'd like to detour into lawrence to see william burroughs' house. we learned a lot about rick on that trip. how rick had moved from michigan to kansas to be closer to burroughs, how rick met and talked to the man in the front yard of that tiny house, how rick was a raging alcoholic...oh, yes, that last bit made the trip especially memorable.

after visiting the house, rick decided he wanted to stop at an old haunt to play pinball and have one for the road. the ex and i, not up for drinking with the long drive ahead, made our own pitstop at the love garden. when we went back to collect rick, he was completely drunk, had taken some pills which he bought from a scary looking biker guy, and was loudly recounting, for the completely uninterested bar patrons, his memories of squatting in michigan with gg allin (i will spare you a link).

after rick finished his last pitcher, we coaxed him into the car sometime around midnight and headed down the kansas turnpike. driving on that particular stretch of american highway is particularly hellish, but even more so with a drunk in the car. we wanted to pull into one of those isolated trucking plazas and abandon him to the whims of crazed truckers with man-love on their minds. we secretly wished that he were mute. we suffered him for several hours and it was at some point during that long drive that i decided i hated babysitting grown men.

last heard (of my own volition): roy orbison "crying"
last heard (at the bagel bin across the street from work):
pat benatar "love is a battlefield"

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

lagniappe n. Chiefly Southern Louisiana and Mississippi
1.A small gift presented by a storeowner to a customer with the customer's purchase.
2.An extra or unexpected gift or benefit.
Regional Note: It is still used in the Gulf states, especially southern Louisiana, to denote a little bonus that a friendly shopkeeper might add to a purchase.

a guy just called me here at work. he was looking for the spelling and definition of the word above. he told me that he had called the main library and they were having trouble tracking down a reference to it. apparently, they gave him my number because i used to live in louisiana and they thought i might know the word. it just so happens that i do. our local newspaper's friday entertainment section was called the lagniappe.

after i hung up the phone, i wondered if there was a way for me to write off my recent vacation to new orleans as a business expense. maybe if i lied and said that i learned the word during the trip, it would count as continuing education.

last heard: aislers set "long division"
last read: "In fact, as Iraq gassed its enemy, the U.S. actually removed the nation from its list of terrorist states and enthusiastically increased military and other aid across the board to help Saddam beat the fundamentalist Muslims in Iran."

Monday, August 26, 2002

when i finished watching 'to kill a mockingbird' last night, it was about ten o'clock. sunday evenings are kind of an in-between time. i didn't really want to spend the night carousing because i had to work early the next day and i didn't want to call friends, because i assumed that they were recovering from their days off, resting up for the week ahead. still, i was restless, so after dropping the DVD off at visart, i got back behind the wheel, slipped off the flip-flops, and embarked on one of my favorite solo activities...no, not that. i mean, the meandering drive.

the moon looked almost full. the temperature was cool after our day of solid rain. the boy with the arab strap filtered quietly out of the speakers as i drove barefooted up central and down south and across east and up selwyn and into uptown and through dilworth and myers park and elizabeth. since charlotte goes to sleep early on sundays, every night really, i had the streets to myself. i drove just under the speed limit the whole time. the few cars that i did meet glided past me on their way to important places. i peeked into the big houses as i drove by and listened to the crickets.

last seen: to kill a mockingbird
last heard: vitesse "trying to frame a dying art"

Sunday, August 25, 2002

whenever you see an old movie and guys are playing poker, they are sitting at a big round table, the room is smoke filled, shot glasses lie scattered around, and there is a small, wirey guy in a green-plastic visor talking around a stubby, chomped-on cigar...that is nothing like the poker nights that we have.

mark hosted the last one on friday. aside from ed, we are all poker novices, so we keep the rules simple:
strictly draw poker
show up with $10 in change
maximum .25 ante
everyone gets a cheat sheet with the winning hands printed on it

weeks often pass between poker nights, just long enough for each of us to forget the rank of the winning hands. it's funny to watch the first few rounds, when the evening is still young, as each of us looks down at the cheat sheet before upping the ante, making absolutely sure that our three-of-a-kind beats the two-pair that we suspect the other guy has. only then do we throw our 15 cents onto the pile.

last seen: the good girl and disc 2 of the royal tenenbaums criterion DVD
last heard: sleater kinney "combat rock"
they tell us there are only two sides to be on
if you are on our side you're right, if not you're wrong
but are we innocent, paragons of good?
is our guilt erased by the pain that we've endured?

Friday, August 23, 2002

whenever i go to chik-fil-a on my lunch break, i try to sit in one of the overstuffed booths, but, if those are filled, i grab a table next to the fifteen-foot-tall, plastic kiddie playland. long ago, i used to hate sitting there because tiny, dirty faces would inevitably squish against the glass and stare at me while i was eating, but, this one time, i heard a loud thud and looked up to see that a kid had run, face first, into the plate glass.

his face turned beet-red and his mouth stretched into a big, gaping "O." since he was in the closed-off room, his cries were muted, but, eventually, his full, leaning-back weight won out in the battle against the heavy door and waves of kid-scream washed over me, destroying my quiet lunch. now i am resigned to the fact that my lunches at chik-fil-a will never be peaceful, but i look forward to my front row seat at fifteen-foot-tall, plastic kiddie playland for the sheer entertainment value.

today, there weren't any kid mishaps, but i did get to watch a mother get hysterical when she couldn't locate her child. i'll bet she was worried about some type of kidnapping scenario, what with the recent wave of such things and her demon seed not in plain sight. she frantically ran into and out of fifteen-foot-tall, plastic kiddie playland, her voice a waivering incomprehensible mess. eventually, she discovered her spawn. he was about halfway up the enclosed-tube slide, just sitting there, not sliding.

bonus entry
i just had to take a break from my weblog to help a very cute woman in her early thirties. she was looking for poems about death (right on!) because she wanted one to read at her grandmother's funeral. i'm the only one on the desk and there was a line of people, so i gave her granger's index to poetry and said, "808, 811, take a look there and i'll be over to help you when i'm finished with these folks." she smiled her tiny smile, adjusted the dark-framed glasses on her nose, and i swooned. i eventually made my way over there and we began to chat. first, she mentioned finding a good book by emily dickerson. strike one. a few moments later, she referred to her as emily dickson. strike two. then, i remembered how much i dislike emily dickinson's work anyway. strike three. next batter.

last heard: radiohead "fitter, happier"

Thursday, August 22, 2002

it has been a rather quiet thursday, but i couldn't not write.

there were no audrey tautou look-alikes in the library today. no little boy split his head open on a shelf whilst running through the 600s, thus requiring 4 stitches...that happened a couple of weeks ago; however, i did get to watch one more movie in AFI's top 100 this morning and, then, at work, i helped a lady spell 'anti-Semitic' and found a list, for some half-deaf guy, of US companies that manufacture ceramic and marble tiles.

i also found out that:
-i get to be an usher for the billy collins event.
-ed bought our sleater kinney tickets.
-the guerrilla girls will deliver a lecture here in november.

last seen: an american in paris
last heard: dizzy gillespie "swing low, sweet cadillac"

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

about a month ago, jenn landed a new job thus leaving scores of weeping library workers in her wake. as going-away presents, four of us decided to craft mixed tapes/CDs for her. after handing over our masterpieces at her goodbye drink-fest, we sat around a small table talking about the process. that's when babyface suggested that we repeat the exercise, but this time each of us would work on a theme. we batted that around for awhile and i came up with (what i think is) a brilliant idea. we would talk three more people into joining the project and then each of us would pick one of the seven deadly sins. (PS- i'm rad.)

four weeks had passed and i heard nothing until babyface called me at work today. i think we just might take on the project, so we will talk it over with the group at poker night this friday. i'm anxious to have a constructive activity with which to occupy my time. now i can take a break from all of this prison tattooing and huffing of gasoline.

last seen: donnie darko
(my review- the best film featuring a large scary rabbit character since sexy beast.)
last heard: weezer "island in the sun"

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

favorite pieces of conversation heard during my vacation followed by a little context

'he's built tougher than a brick shithouse'
(while sharing a park bench in jackson square with a flock of drunks, one was recounting the last ten days he had just spent in jail and used the aforementioned piece of reportage to describe a cellmate.)

'if i marry a fat woman, she better know how to cook.'
(a doorman talking to a bouncer as i walked by the house of blues)

'he majored in physics...he took up time and space.'
(a gray-haired bass player talking to another guy about the sax player's college days)

'asian people make me cry.'
(my friend, erin, recounting how she was brought to tears upon witnessing a family of asian folks at the airport engaged in a tearful goodbye.)

'jesus smells'
(during a conversation about 'i love jesus' air-fresheners which seemed to be hanging off of every rearview mirror in every car on I-85, shauna (mistakenly?) referred to them as 'jesus smells' air-fresheners.)

'don't start a-fightin' and a-shootin''
(late friday night, as i stumbled into the small lobby at my hotel, the old gay guy behind the desk spoke this line, the first in a ten minute moms mabley routine. after politely laughing at the appropriate moments, i slowly managed to back out of the lobby.)

'a man walking with two women. do you know how lucky you are?'
'yes, ma'am. i have jesus.'
(the first line was uttered to me by a woman dressed as a clown, hustling for change, in the french quarter. the second line was uttered by me in response. she promptly left us alone.)

last seen: sidewalks of new york, the divine secrets of the ya ya sisterhood
last heard: lisa stansfield "affection"

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

mark and i had plans to meet the jen(n)s for greasy food and laughs last night. i left work at 9 and made a pit stop at visart on the way to the bar. scratch was released on DVD yesterday and i've been chompin' at the bit to see it. alas, visart didn't have it.

we all finally met up at the penguin (where else?) and were treated to a night of al green on the jukebox. this really grizzled, frumpy old guy kept feeding quarters into the machine and selecting the reverend al. my only complaint is that he didn't play "belle" which is my all-time favorite al green song.

the four of us worked our way through hot dogs, fried pickles, cheeseburgers, grilled cheese sandwiches on texas toast, beer, and fries. after sitting quietly for a few moments on the edge of a food-induced coma, there were deliberations about what to do next. bowling got a half-hearted nod, then we decided on renting a movie, but the store was already closed. instead, we met back at my place and the jen(n)s walked through the door with a game called cranium in hand.

if you've never played, it involves all sorts of skills: answering trivia questions, sculpting things out of clay, charades, spelling hard words backwards correctly on the first try, impressions, humming songs. at one point, i gave a very painful impression of bullwinkle done in a monotone, yankee voice, but my teammate guessed it correctly. the night was worth it just to hear mark hum "killing me softly" which i failed to identify before time ran out. it is one of those games where you can't be afraid to make an ass of yourself...but isn't that the point of most games really?

[tangent] the sick girl called last night and the trip is on. so if any of you new orleans folks are reading this, i'll see you on thursday night and i want to go to the shim sham club.

last heard: stereolab "les yper-sound"

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

the phone rang at ten o' clock last night. shauna said she was sick, had been since last thursday, and was starting to feel a little bit better. if she lived in my town, instead of hoboken, NJ, i might have gone over, made some chicken soup, stroked her fevered head, and watched old movies; however, i could only say get well and, i mean, fast.

she is driving down the east coast on wednesday and stopping to pick me up on the way to new orleans. she will be attending the wedding of an old college chum and i'm visiting friends that i haven't seen in over five years. that's how long it's been since my last sojourn to the ol' stompin' grounds.

two months worth of phone calls and strategic planning to hit remembered restaurants and bars come down to one more phone call. tonight, shauna's going to call me with the prognosis: well enough to drive or cancelling the trip.

oh, please, visit the pharmacy, get a santeria priestess to butcher a live chicken, do something to heal thyself.

last seen: charade
last heard: professor longhair "hey little girl"
last read: "What is the proper response to [global terrorism]? Whatever the answer, it must at least satisfy a moral truism: If we propose some principle that is to be applied to antagonists, then we must agree -- in fact, strenuously insist -- that the principle apply to us as well. Those who do not rise even to this minimal level of integrity plainly cannot be taken seriously when they speak of right and wrong, good and evil."

Monday, August 12, 2002

hidden in one of the drawers out at the reference desk is a manila folder. on the tab, written in a very un-librarian scrawl, are the words, problem patron log. this is where we, librarians, file our potential problem reports about patrons who are guilty of some infraction. it is helpful to keep this log because if some n'er-do-well crosses the line of demarcation and we are forced to ban them from the library, we can refer police and administration to this helpful log which outlines their history of infractions.

while legend has it that the downtown library throws folks out on an almost hourly basis, here at our humble branch, we rarely have to hand down a verdict of banishment. for me, the problem patron log is instead used for quick giggles in the middle of a slow day. yesterday was beautiful; there were wide open blue skies stretching to forever and, apparently, folks were getting their information needs filled elsewhere, because i had a lot of time to sit and pore over the problem patron log. here then are a smattering of the charges filed against patrons:

"reminded [patron] not to use porn"

"[patron] frequently quotes scripture aloud"

"[patron] exhibiting disturbing behaviors- lying on floor"

"patron called to ask if we had found a nude photograph of him"

"[patron] asked circulation staff member if she was happily married"

"patron harrassing librarians, then asked for books on lesbianship"

"woman complained about 'stupid-assed' internet policy"

"[patron] was witnessed following female patrons among the stacks and watching them"

"patron talks out loud and sings to himself in a very loud voice"

"[patron] comes in and stays six hours at a time. never says a word...sometimes runs and dances. mental problem?"

"mother [at internet workstation] told to keep the noise and her children under control. the request was ignored. later, the youngest child pulled his diaper off in the middle of the floor. mother's companions sat laughing. all were asked to leave."

last heard: gene autry "(i got spurs that) jingle, jangle, jingle"

Sunday, August 11, 2002

bar in wichita, kansas OR philip glass composition?

a. joyce's rendezvous
b. victor's lament
c. CAUGHT!
d. carl and friends
e. RT's alibi
f. what time is grey
g. place
h. prophecies
i. crazy horse supper club
j. ik-ook

answer key
wichita bar: A, D, E, G, I
philip glass: B, C, F, H, J

last heard: bettie serveert "private suit"
last read: gina berriault "who is it can tell me who i am?"

Saturday, August 10, 2002

having worked in libraries for the last 11 years, i've grown used to walking into the men's room and finding the occasional homeless man attending to hygiene duties in a tiny white sink. you'd be surprised at the working conditions that you can get accustomed to.

the first library that i ever worked in was on my undergraduate campus in new orleans. we had a guy there that we all called uncle donald. he lived in his truck and often sported a thread-bare pink izod shirt and eyeglasses held together, macgyver-style, with string or tape or whatever he could find. everyday, he'd come in and read the money section of the times-picayune, quizzing library staff on current trends in the stockmarket. this was, of course, an exercise in futility since he was often greeted by the warm, smiling faces of english majors like myself who were completely uninterested in all matters business. aside from the occasional loud rant about people who were out to get him, he was relatively harmless and most of the staff liked him...but, i digress.

sometime during his visit, he would retire to the men's room for his ritual and, whenever i happened in, he'd be brushing his teeth or washing his pits or his shoes would be off. this was only unusual in that it was an academic library rather than a public library where such things happened more often. uncle donald and a few other homeless guys came to our library because they felt safe i guess. they knew that, on the night shift, i was a supervisor and i wouldn't call the cops; bleeding heart, 'grapes of wrath'-loving liberal that i am.

i recall this time in my life simply to say that i am used to the hygiene practices of said demographic, especially having since worked in a downtown public library. however, in recent weeks, i have seen something that makes, even me, go 'huh?' i have gone into the empty bathroom, handled my business, and then gone to wash my hands, only to be greeted with a sink full of hair. i guess, 'full' is the wrong word. it is as though someone has cut their hair and picked up the big clumps, but left enough in the sink and around the basin to let you know that a haircut has occurred.

i suppose it is wrong of me to assume that a homeless man is responsible, but the alternative is even more frightening, especially given my branch library's current patron demographic. could roving bands of senior-aged men, calmly browsing the video collection and tom clancy novels, suddenly be stricken with the desire to cut their own hair? and, more importantly, what are they doing running around my town concealing barber shears in their pockets?

last seen: on the waterfront, midnight cowboy
last heard: sleater kinney "i wanna be your joey ramone"
[SK is coming to NC in october. you're jealous; i know.]

Thursday, August 08, 2002

those who know my family can attest to the fact that the kellys like them some film.

when i make the couple of hours drive to bucolic front royal, virginia to see the folks, it is a given that at least part of our time together will be spent in the darkened confines of some movie house or trudging down the mountain to rent armfuls of DVDs. even our phone conversations frequently touch upon recent screenings and armchair cinematic criticism.

since none of us have any formal training (i.e. film school), our critiques are usually light-hearted and serve more to make the other person laugh than to convey any sense of a film's deep meaning or the relative importance of a piece of celluloid to a particular director's oeuvre.

here then is an excerpt from this morning's siskel-and-ebert-ian exchange between my mother and myself.

me: so do you and dad have any big plans for this weekend?

mom: we'll probably just go for a ride in the country or hit a movie.

me: i haven't been to the theater in weeks. i've just been renting stuff. i'd like to see signs though.

mom: ugh...that movie stunk! we saw it last week.

me: i thought it might be interesting to see the moral ethical dilemma stuff. mel gibson is supposed to be a reverend or something, then his wife dies and it's like, does he believe in god or doesn't he? besides, lisa said she really liked it.

mom: well, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but, i mean...ok, so these aliens are smart enough to fly a spaceship and then survive walking around on earth, but, when one of them gets captured and put in a closet, they can't figure out how to work the door handle? what the hell is that shit!

last seen: dogtown and z-boys, elizabeth cotten with mike seeger
last heard: future pilot AKA "witchi tai to"
last read: jhumpa lahiri interpreter of maladies
reading: in the stacks: short stories about libraries and librarians

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

ten things that i wanted today

-an extra hour of sleep
-for this workout to be done
-an eggplant sub and a gigantic coke
-time to finish watching 'dogtown and z-boys'
-more pictures of meg white to lust over
-an iced chai
-to not be driving right now
-to not have to cover another department
-to curl into the fetal position
-peace, love, and understanding

last heard: white stripes "rated x" (live)

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

recent posts on troy's site have mentioned girl fighting park which got me waxing nostalgic about the many cat fights that i'd witnessed in my youth. there is nothing quite like watching two young girls engaged in an orgy of violence. if you've never had the pleasure, you might imagine a lot of slapping and high-pitched squeals and you would be wrong, my friend.

...the final bell rang and i found myself among a throng of my eighth-grade compatriots. the masses were following two girls at a distance. the first, walking briskly, was simply trying to get off campus. the second, the instigator, was ten paces behind and taunting the lead girl, lobbing accusations about girl one and some random boy.

we ended up at the tennis courts adjoining campus and things quickly devolved into a scene from thunderdome with the two girls behind the fences and the rest of us standing outside, some cheering and some simply bearing witness to the spectacle. whenever the instigator would get girl one against some part of the fence, the masses would shift and gather there.

instigator's bloodlust was apparent from the outset, but none of us were prepared for what came next. she punched girl one square in the jaw sending her reeling against the fence and spinning until she came to rest on the ground. she then grabbed girl one by the hair and proceeded to grate her face against the fence. it was hard to watch but even harder to look away. girl one was bawling and, i suppose, instigator simply got tired of swabbing the deck with her limp body and just stopped.

later, in high school, i was privileged enough to witness another girl fight in which one girl actually knocked a pregnant girl to the ground and then started pounding her with a trash can before the melee finally abated. (ah, the fairer sex.) yet, even that wasn't enough to jar the face-grating incident from its place atop "the 5 best girl fights list."

last seen: the ladykillers
last heard: psychedelic furs "love my way"
reading: jhumpa lahiri interpreter of maladies

Monday, August 05, 2002

three days off. that means three days away from the computer. three days to work on a lengthy to-do list that i'd been scribbling in pencil on the back of a torn-off calendar day. i sorted through paperwork and bills, cleaned out a dresser full of goodwill-worthy stuff, visited the farmers market, and made it to the grocery store for the first time in weeks. each activity was interspersed with much reading, movie watching, and one very fruitful trip to the thrift store.

the booty? 3 shirts, 1 50s-style pie plate with a cherry pie recipe printed right on it, the kinks "lola versus the powerman and the money-go-round" on CD, and elvis costello's "this year's model" on vinyl...all for $8.67. i win.

last seen: doctor zhivago, ms.45, ichi the killer, raising arizona
last heard (many times on repeat for the last 2 days, very loudly):
the white stripes "fell in love with a girl"
last read: anthony bourdain typhoid mary
reading: 20 things and this

Thursday, August 01, 2002

all names (except mine) have been changed in the interest of anonymity.

scene: last night over drinks
players: james, karl, and sue, a girl who recently started dating a boy she met at a church-related event

sue (to karl): so how are things going with you and fontaine?

karl: well, she is nice and seems intelligent which is important, but she just isn't my type.

james: so, you've had an extended conversation with her and you found her to be intelligent. i mean, i've only talked to her briefly. what did she say to make you think she was intelligent?

karl: well, she doesn't believe in God...and usually people who don't believe in God are intelligent.

james: [remembers sue's new boy and silently looks down, embarrassed for karl]

[insert protracted uncomfortable silence here]

karl (to sue): i mean, no offense.

last heard: the aislers set "one half laughing"