Thursday, January 30, 2003

hopper's most recent post consisted only of an excerpt from 6'1''. those few lines returned me to my undergraduate years. the years when i first accepted liz phair into my life. people around school will tell you that i was still, technically, with natalie merchant. it's true, we had been together for a long time, high school sweethearts since my days in upstate new york. there was nothing wrong with natalie. she was this cute, spinning mass of black hair and activism who could write lyrics like nobody's business and was easy on the eyes to boot. she wore my class ring with about two feet worth of red yarn wrapped around it, so it wouldn't slip off of her tiny finger. we really had something.

did that mean anything to liz phair? of course, it didn't. she would come, practically strutting, down the halls, all electric guitar and sex-positive feminism. in 1993, that was news, let me tell you. i was unprepared. i pretended like i could handle it, especially when i'd see her in the lunch room, but it was all for show. when i started printing pictures of liz on the crappy inkjet printers at my library work study job and hanging them in my room, it was already too late. natalie became suspicious. there was yelling, from her. there was crying, mostly from me. she even gave me my ring back.

that was a long time ago, but i still hear from both of them. postcards mostly.

last seen: the pianist
last heard: arianna huffington on diane rehm
last read: adrian tomine's optic nerve #5

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

on the couch, drinking tea, watching the state of the union

Players- me, my special lady friend, and dubya (via satellite)

dubya [discussing the impact of AIDS in Africa]: "There are whole countries in Africa where more than one-third of the adult population carries the infection."

my special lady friend [in a deep texas drawl]: "...countries you wouldn't know...and i cain't even pronounce..."

me [trying not to spit out my mouthful of tea, then]: (cackling laughter)

last heard: stereolab 'prisoner of mars'
last read: "Wonka, defying international calls for full disclosure, has maintained his silence regarding his factory's suspected capacity to manufacture confections of mass deliciousness."

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

at the dish, i was brave. instead of my usual chicken 'n dumplins, i tried something new. it was the meatloaf, if you're wondering, with garlic mashed potatoes, collard greens, deviled egg, a biscuit, and, what by meal's end must have been, a gallon of sweet tea. the jen(n)s and i sat in a dark green booth, right by the front door, eyeing kitschy mismatched plates hanging on the walls. whenever someone came in, the wind would hold the door open until one of the waitresses would run over and fix it. that's why jenn was cold most of the night. a few times, when the staff was busy, she got up to fix the door herself.

just as i was finishing dinner, a family was leaving. some kid, a little husky and very like-me-at-that-age, passed my table, proudly holding his green-tinted coke bottle just high enough for us to see that he had it and how cool it was. when i was small, i'd do things like that.

on long trips, from my vantage point in the backseat, i'd watch my father's left arm hanging out the window, fascinated with the way the wind would ruffle his shirt sleeve like a flag, and later, when i got to sit up front, i'd move my right arm forward and back and maybe a little further out the window, so that my sleeve would do the same thing. when i finally got it, my arm would lock into place and my eyes would raise to meet the people in the cars next to ours, and, sure that they were looking at my sleeve, i'd think, 'yeah, you know that's cool.'

last seen: the lathe of heaven
last heard: the 6ths 'heaven in a black leather jacket'
last read: kerry layeth the smackdown

Monday, January 27, 2003

i admit it. i have been out of character lately.

in the last two days, i removed a large amount of black gunk out of the trap in the bathroom sink with my bare hands. i changed my special lady-friend's tire. i shopped at autozone. i went to poker night in a smoke-filled apartment...and i used swear words. i watched the superbowl and then i ogled a scantily-clad jennifer garner for unhealthy lengths of time.

i better get back to reading, drinking tea quietly in my apartment, and daydreaming about isobel campbell or else i might have to take up spitting, or punching guys in the arm in that special way most hetero-men do to channel their latent homosexual desires.

last heard: the pacific ocean 'i'm part of everything again'
last seen: was that alias i saw last night jumping the shark?
last read: "He said that he could not understand the Bush administration's attitude on many international issues, including its recent vote against a UN resolution that called on countries involved in the battle against terrorism to respect human rights."

Sunday, January 26, 2003

in the express lane

customer one= 40 oz. of high life
customer two= 1 box of frosted flakes
customer three= 1 heavy whipping cream
me= 2 liter of coke
customer five= 12 pack of frozen chicken legs and a bottle of nyquil

last heard: wham 'careless whisper'

Saturday, January 25, 2003


dude, my sink in the bathroom is wrecked. it started draining slowly about a week ago. i bought some type of chemical to pour down the drain. it was clear for five days and now it is slow again. no, really slowly, like when you are brushing your teeth and leave the water on, the sink gets completely filled in ten seconds, so you go spit in the kitchen sink. after you mess around doing other things for twenty mintues, then maybe the water in the bathroom's gone down. what could possibly be in the drain? it isn't like i prepare meals in bathroom and push cut-off broccoli stems down there.

i stopped by the library to pick up a couple of step-by-step plumbing books, the kind with pictures for half-wits like me. it should be an adventure since i don't own any of the necessary tools. my blue plastic tool box contains one wrench, a hammer, and about ten pounds worth of assorted useless metal objects, such as picture hooks and carpet tacks.

last heard: looper 'burning flies'
last read: twee net poll 2002

Friday, January 24, 2003

nothing brings people together like kraftwerk and a marimba.

i learned this lesson while visiting michael at the main library. rounding the grey, carpeted wall of his cubicle, i heard music emanating from his computer. it was that unmistakable marimba sound, cloth-covered mallets striking wooden slats, banging out something that sounded an awful lot like 'planet rock.' in awe, i asked who was covering afrika bambaataa and mike uttered a confused 'huh?', then explained that it was a band called senor coconut who had recorded an entire album of kraftwerk covers and, by the way, what the hell is 'planet rock?' i explained about bam and we found 'planet rock' online, so he could hear it. he played me the senor coconut. we shared. we wept.

because of my musical evolution, that piece will always be 'the sample from planet rock' and not 'the song trans europe express,' but no matter where you come down in this great debate, go hear what senor coconut did to it.

last seen: american beauty
last heard: the streets 'let's push things forward'
last read: "When media outlets are given a choice of showcasing war makers or highlighting peace makers, the former always win hands down. War, and the threat of war, sells newspapers. Peace does not."

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

it began last thursday as a quiet, internal rumbling about my hatred of shaving. fed by the undertow of my long smoldering passion to sport civil war era facial hair and a convenient four day furlough, the beard growing commenced. i stuck with it through the itchy skirmishes, but, in the end, i was forced to concede the battle.

it's true, operation bearded thunder has come to an abrupt end. this is due in large part to the following equation:

(2 italians + 1 irishman) - 1 filipino = no beard

for the benefit of my aryan readers, i shall explain. while it is true that my lineage includes two italians, a group renowned for their prodigious facial hair, my filipino grandfather is the trump. he is the reason that, on the cusp of thirty, i am able to grow facial hair that is spotty at best, and can only be called a beard in the broadest sense of that word.

last heard: elvis costello 'secondary modern'
last read: "The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.” — Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, Olmstead v. U.S. (1928)

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

i secretly hoped that the visart girl would be mindful of my usual rental habits; the fact that over the past year i'd borrowed repulsion and jules et jim and koyaanisqatsi in addition to many other fine pieces of cinema. still, whether she remembered or not, i was just thankful that she didn't cackle or guffaw as i ambled up to the counter, eyes cast down, head bowed, and passed blue crush and xxx across the counter.

last seen: wet hot american summer, blue crush, xxx, gosford park, the mothman prophecies, the parallax view, raising arizona
last heard: the aislers set 'holiday gone well'
last read: "An invigorated Europe (if it can remain united as it expands toward Russia) will provide the most attractive model for development (one of quasi-socialist democracy), has the strongest ties to its old colonial dominions of the third world, and will soon surpass the United States in all the measures of strength except the military."
look at me: i won best title at this year's everyman.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

all i could hear were a few of his random words: power steering. mister kelly. transmission fluid. cockeyed steering wheel.

joe, a hairy little knot of a man, was trying his best to explain all of the things that were wrong with my vehicle. a routine oil change spun sadly out-of-control and into this, joe and his test-tubes. test-tubes full of what clean fluids looked like alongside test-tubes of what my fluids looked like and, as irrefutable scientific proof, joe would take the test-tubes full of my fluids, grip them between two of his meaty child-like fingers, and hold them up to the light. 'see here. light should pass through that.' maybe if he had been wearing a lab coat, i'd have more confidence in the whole test-tube thing. but i paid for the maintenance like the sucker i am. what do i know from cars?

all i could hear was the sound of my weekend getting flushed. no road trip, no atlanta, no high museum.

last heard: fats waller 'she's tall, she's tan, she's terrific'
last read: adrian tomine's 'sleepwalk and other stories'
reading: tom mcneal's 'goodnight, nebraska'

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

if my face turns ashen or i experience signs of vertigo or should i happen to lose consciousness while driving home in the pitch darkness after book club tonight, then you'll know it is because i forgot to bring a fork with my lunch today and had to use one of the community forks from the break room.

when i ventured to atlanta last year for the belle and sebastian concert, i stayed at the days inn-downtown because it was within walking distance of the tabernacle and they told me that i could get a room for $70. pretty reasonable for a downtown hotel, i thought; plus, they had a neon-filled, 24-hour restaurant off the lobby that featured an exciting array of cakes and pies. naturally, i thought of them first for this weekend's excursion with the jen(n)s. we are going down to see an exhibit at the high museum and to visit a couple of their friends. so imagine my surprise yesterday, when i went to the hotel website and was quoted a price of $140 a night. why the price jump? i'm guessing that they jacked up the prices this weekend for MLK-related activities or there is a magic: the gathering convention in town. either way, i'm really excited for a little vacation especially since today is payday and my wallet's been empty [read: no fun] for over a week.

last heard: stereolab 'puncture in the radax permutation'
last read: "There are currently more than 600 detainees of around 40 nationalities held in Guantánamo."

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

surreal moments at the library, this AM:

-after helping a guy find an article about the forthcoming VW SUV, he palms me a dollar and says, 'thanks, get yourself something cold to drink.' [editor's note for readers in other countries: in america, it is not customary to tip your librarian.]

-a woman asks for any consumer reports reviews of outdoor playground equipment. while searching the index of the most recent buying guide, my eye falls upon the entry for condoms which were reviewed on page 46 of the june '99 issue. instantly, all i can conjure is the image of a consumer reports reviewer in a smoking jacket holding a brandy snifter and winking into the camera.

-a patron approaches the desk and explains that she has recently moved to a neighboring county. my co-worker proceeds to tell her that she now has to pay a non-resident's fee to get a library card. the patron, visibly shaken, then replies, 'i still live here, too.'

last heard: deltron 3030 'madness'
last read: thisbe nissen's 'the good people of new york'
reading: adrian tomine's 'sleepwalk and other stories'

Monday, January 13, 2003

sometime this morning, after i ate a concoction that was equal parts frosted mini wheats and knock-off brand lucky charms, but before i walked into the target store and saw a dad holding a 'for sale' sign and his daughter toting a hockey stick, it hit me. the new girl really doesn't get the whole weblog thing.

it isn't the actual writing that troubles her, which is a relief because i quite enjoy the form. rather, she finds the blogging lifestyle and culture completely alien. would you like a for instance? ok, well, for instance, all of my friends have weblogs. most of the charlotte people are linked at right. she has met most of them. usually when we see one of them, within the first five minutes, they or i will say something like 'that thing you wrote about riding the bus yesterday was very clever' OR 'you are an amazing writer, the way you evoked thoreau during your treatise on adult diapers was pure genius, i tell you' OR 'damn you! carbonated beverage issued forth in dual streams from my nostrils thusly [moving hand away from nose in a repeated, hasty fashion] while i was reading your site yesterday.'

you see, that's the part that she can't understand. why we have to talk about what we've written. the answer, for her and any others with the same question, is very simple. we are social retards and, most of us are, introverts. we can feel comfortable on this tiny, anonymous stage. our weblogs can be the catalyst for conversation in the group and they can always be the default topic if there is a lull in the dialogue. besides, we are...well, at least, i am a complete stat whore. i get all warm when a stranger sends me an email with their two cents wrapped up in a bow.

last heard: wendy carlos 'air on a G string'
last read: "The names of book sizes are based on the old system, still widely used, of considering the size of a page as a fraction of the large sheet of paper on which it was printed."

Sunday, January 12, 2003

during the last 48 hours, i found a biography on george eastman for a third-grader, explained why animals use camouflage, helped a woman with a shiny new cane find medical books about treating her recently-sprained ankle, and listened to indiepopradio while figuring tomorrow's deposit. work is fun sometimes.

last seen: the marky mark planet of the apes
last heard: talulah gosh 'testcard girl'
last read: "It's a brand position thing - "probably the most complex positioning problem of all time," according to marketing bluechippers Steve Silver and Sam Hill, writing in the Journal of Business Strategy. The two men have had a first crack at the American "brand portfolio molecule," which shows America as a meta-brand composed of mega-brands, like a galaxy of galaxies."

Saturday, January 11, 2003

exhibits are nice, but i like museum spaces just as much. they are quiet. i like quiet. i like that you can walk around, slowly, and hear your shoes echo on the wooden floor. i like that stoic-looking guards linger, in their navy blazers with gold buttons, right near the corners of the rooms. i like the chairs and long couches placed at the exact spot where you really should sit down and rest awhile. i like expansive sunlit atriums. i like the curious feeling i get when i wonder what's down those long hallways with the placards that softly announce 'staff only.' i like buying postcards in the gift shops. i like keeping my ticket and using it for a bookmark later.

last seen: sexy beast and about half of gosford park before i fell asleep
last heard: ivy 'these are the things about you'
last read: "The idea for this project came to me while watching -- for the umpteenth time -- one of those outrageous drug war ads the Bush administration has flooded the airwaves with. You know, the ones that try and link using drugs to financing terrorism."

Thursday, January 09, 2003

yeah, you smell that? i've still got the new treasurer funk on me. after a landslide victory in the polls, i am the treasurer for the library's staff organization. what does that mean, you ask, besides scads of fine looking broads and valet parking at all of the branch libraries? it means that everyday i walk up to my tiny mailbox in the workroom to find it crammed with interoffice mail envelopes from across the county; each one containing a little slip of paper and a check with someone's 2003 dues.

the outgoing treasurer tells me that this will be my busiest time of year and that, after the deluge, everything will be cake. that's a relief, because all of this paper shuffling and bank stuff is starting to wear on me. i'm looking forward to the days when my job will be primarily ceremonial. when i get to cut a ribbon with a gigantic pair of gold scissors as the mayor and i stand in front of a shiny new hospital, or when i'll ride on the back of a convertible mustang in the shriner's parade, shaking hands and kissing babies.

last seen: titus
last heard: unkle 'lonely soul'
last read: rules for the everyman contest. the deadline is tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

aw, tom, it ain't so bad. i think it's pretty. sure, i saw them, too, congregated on the quad in front of wilson library on perfect spring days. the girls doe-eyed and practically skipping; the boys playing catch with their weimaraners and everyone looking like a page torn out of the j crew catalog. you must see past all of that. yes, there is the hated gap clothing store, but there are also cool things on franklin street like schoolkids records and pepper's pizza. within walking distance is mama dip's and nice price books and cat's cradle and the lovely little town of carrboro where on wednesdays and saturdays there is a farmers' market. my grad school days at carolina were lovely and i secretly wish that my unborn children go there to matriculate, so's i always have a reason to visit.

last heard: the cure 'the caterpillar'
last read: "One can imagine a delightful scenario: a few bombs fall, the Republican Guards rebel and overthrow Saddam, crowds cheer as US soldiers march in while the band plays "God Bless America," the people of the region hail the liberator who proceeds to turn Iraq into an image of American democracy and a modernizing center for the entire region -- and one that produces just enough oil to keep the price within the range that the US prefers, breaking the OPEC stranglehold. And Santa Claus smiles benignly from his sleigh."

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

the bathroom ceiling is cracked again. lying on the couch, reading, i can hear the pipes groan in the walls as someone upstairs starts a shower. that's when i run to the bathroom and stand beneath the crack. after a few minutes, water seeps from the wall, circumventing the crack, a quiet stream forming where the ceiling meets the wall. it's not the first time. it did this last year and the landlord sent someone to patch the ceiling. they explained that the upstairs neighbor was a messy shower taker and his curtain wasn't all the way against the wall. they posited that when he splashed water, it came out of the shower, pooled there on the cold floor, dripped through the spaces between the tiles, and, eventually, wore away my ceiling.

of course, you and i both know that that's wrong. no one is that messy a shower taker. the pipes are old. they leak. a drip at a time, a huge puddle builds above my bathtub until it eventually wears a hole in my ceiling.

fact: it takes exactly one year for water to wear a hole in my ceiling. that's how long since the last patch job.

when i called donielle at barons company this morning, she said, "i'll send someone to repatch the hole and, by the way, reggie [the loud sexual intercourse upstairs neighbor] is moving out at the end of the month."

last heard: rufus wainwright 'poses'
last read: "To Bloom, reading is a supremely selfish act, in both the literal and the pejorative senses of the word. He is not a believer in dialogue or discussion or any of the nice liberal collectivities; to him, all knowledge must come from within."

Monday, January 06, 2003

how the conversation began i can't remember, but the other night, while the jen(n)s and i were at the penguin, we started talking about things that we don't get. things that other people seem fond of but that we can't understand what all the fuss is about. the list grew. jen even wrote her list out and shared it with folks. it included things like: casablanca, abercrombie and fitch, bleu cheese, and steven king.

it was nice to see that so many of the entries on her list were things that i didn't get either. it felt like we were part of a little resistance movement, instead of how i usually feel which is alone, a mercenary in the war of hating tacky shit. i guess that's why certain people are close; not because they have the same interests, but, rather, because they find the same things uninteresting. here are some other things that i don't understand:

phish, the dead, and jam bands, in general
the poetry of emily dickinson
airbrushed anything
renaissance fairs (except jousting. jousting's cool.)
delivering gifts inside of an inflated, clear balloon with hearts stenciled on it
long hair (on either gender)
glowing neon under cars
leonard cohen and tom waits (i'm sure to get hate mail for this one)
men who take their whole family to eat at hooters

last heard: alpha blondy 'afriki'
last read: a chronology of the government’s restrictions on civil liberties

Sunday, January 05, 2003

i read in book magazine the other night that a woman sold her manuscript to hyperion for $400,000. that wasn't even the highest figure that i saw quoted for a manuscript in that issue. sitting here, trying to survive on my meager, student-loan-strained, librarian's salary, i've decided that it would be nice to have a piece of that action. i'm not greedy...any publishing house reading this right now could purchase my as-yet-unwritten manuscript for the bargain price of $50K. now, that's a damn bargain. that figure would allow me to pay off my accumulated debt and still leave me enough for a cup of coffee and a nice vacation.

last heard: the quintet 'wee'
last seen: rushmore, the professional, & basquiat

Friday, January 03, 2003

elements of a dream i had last night

getting chased around a japanese-themed hotel which had those wood-framed paper walls; two words: reflecting pools; cement stairs that weren't so wide but were about ten feet long; two teenaged girls, one of whom claimed to be the daughter of a fictitous co-worker; a dirty city with tall, peachy-brownish colored, marble buildings; some yakuza guys with pat riley-styled hair; lots of travel (bus riding, driving, walking); two more words: grappling hooks; a couple of greasy-looking men in a circa early-70s white chevy impala who were tailing me, the two girls, and some woman; trying to decide if i wanted to get my library tattoo in the back room of this shop where women were weaving cloth to make horrible artsy sweaters; three of the weavers who worked at the shop kept trying to shake my hand and they were each missing digits

*armchair psychoanalysts can send their interpretations here

last heard: hank williams 'window shopping'
last read: "Watching the movie, it occurred to me how much a little romance can spice up the movie. For one thing, it makes the proceedings more interesting for the members of the audience who do not have pewter dragons at home." [thanks for the link, michael]

Thursday, January 02, 2003

in seventh grade, i entered into a business arrangement with two other boys from the neighborhood. we combined our client lists and were then responsible for most of the lawn-cutting and car-washing in our area. we did ok, amassed a small empire, and each pissed away our share in due time. we spent most non-working hours skating, sneaking nips of canadian club from mike's dad's liquor cabinet ("sorry/thank you, mister williams"), and hanging out in a dilapidated, wooden fort.

one of the boys had actually built the rudimentary structure in the woods behind his house, but together we helped improve and finish it. there was an entrance at one end and two screened windows, one on the east wall and one on the west. we even had shelving on the walls and astroturf on the floor. the fort's dimensions couldn't have been more than five feet across and seven feet long. with two people sleeping there it was crowded, so when it was decided that three of us should camp, it was necessary for a little addition to be built. none of us were skilled in the carpentry arts, so no walls were knocked down. instead, our solution involved cutting a hole into the side of one wall and attaching, what was essentially, a coffin-like three-foot box on stilts. the sleeper could then stick his legs through it and, thus, his torso would be the only part sticking into the fort-proper.

in this way, we managed to fit three of us in there and spend many nights burning circular green mosquito coils, listening to OMD, and talking about girls.

last seen: catch me if you can & an evening with kevin smith
last heard: gillian welch 'good til now'
last read: "Hell, even in Islamic countries, our fanatical Christian missionaries are merely detained and mildly tortured even though they are breaking the law. Hardly a martyr among them. It’s too bad, really, since so many of them are ready to make the ultimate sacrifice." -Ed