Thursday, July 31, 2003

if you stand directly in front of the windows, you can see thin strips of pale yellow light through the hairline cracks around the frame. if you lean in close and stare at those cracks, you can see the green grass and the bus stop in front of my apartment. the sound of ten thousand chainsaws, well really it's only three, is coming in through those cracks around the windows. i don't have to go into work until five o'clock. i decided to sleep in, then watch a couple of movies. the chainsaw people arrived at 8:30 to start removing dead limbs from the large trees around my building.

the sawing occurs in ten minute bursts, at which point i assume the workers' hands begin to get numb and they have to stop. during the downtime, i can hear them talk with thick southern drawls about the heat and their lunch hours. since a couple of the men are dangling from ropes fifty feet off of the ground, these conversations are often yelled with necks craned while staring up a tree. no one wants to leave the dangling guys out of the loop, that would be rude.

when the branches, tethered in places by lengths of white rope, slowly make their way down, i am granted a rare moment of silence and the usual sounds of my block begin to filter back in. things like cars coming to a stop at the light and bus doors opening, a robot voice announcing the route number and welcoming people on board.

last seen: road to utopia, aberdeen
last heard: northern state 'dying in stereo'
last read: Enrique "Don't Touch the Braces! Not the Braces!" Hernandez

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

where is my new bed, man? when i ordered it, they said someone will contact you to schedule an appointment for delivery and set up. they also told me that the bed would be in my house no later than july 31st. the calendar says that's tomorrow, chief. three weeks have passed, still no call.

my old bed is very soft. it isn't the mattress, so much as the springs. they are ancient. i must be getting old, too. where once i looked forward to coming home and falling into the velvety softness of this bed, even if it was just for a nap, now i think about how much my back is going to hurt when i wake up. the entire set up was inherited from a generous person in my former life, so i've no right to complain, but...where is my new bed, man?

last heard: the polyphonic spree 'have a day'
last read: I am no stranger to organ replacement, and I always find it refreshing, always a happy improvement over Pain.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

i was kind of hunched over, grabbing my wet clothes from the bottom of a pushcart and transferring them to the industrial-sized dryer. that's when i heard, excuse me...excuse me. i stood up and, while fishing quarters out of my right pocket, i turned toward the woman's voice. you look like that guy..., she said. her finger was on her lip and her eyes went toward the ceiling, she was trying to remember a name. i smiled, patiently waiting for her to remember, and pictured a cartoon hamster running on a wheel right above her head.

you look like the can you hear me now guy. it was a new one for me, so i chuckled. i cashed in our little moment ten minutes later. she spotted me wheeling more wet clothes from busy dryer to busy dryer and offered me her own which was almost finished. who says that looking like the chubby, bald version of a guy from a cell phone commercial doesn't have its privileges?

in undergrad, i used to get you look like robert downey, jr every couple of months, but that was in my when-i-used-to-have-hair days.

if an actor's popularity begins to wane and he is forced from the big screen to commercials, it is usually the start of something bad. it marks that part on e! true hollywood story, right before the break, where the music gets dark and foreboding. you know when they come back from commercial, there will be a conviction for some type of misdemeanor.

let me tell you, it feels just as terrible if you used to be told that you look like a big screen actor and now you are told that you look like someone from a commerical. maybe my star power is waning. maybe the music is getting dark and foreboding. maybe that hollow sound was a little piece of me dying at the laundromat last night.

last heard: cymande 'bra'
last read: The drastic cuts being made in basic social and human service programs will exact painful and immediate social and human costs, and they will also appear as direct financial costs – in terms of illiteracy, incarceration, and ill-health, among others – at future times in different ledgers.

Monday, July 28, 2003

do you remember the moment when you first discovered your superpower? maybe you were in the yard and realized, quite by accident, that you could bend large pieces of steel, or perhaps, after repeating a word silently to yourself, you found that you could get a stranger to say it, but only if you stared directly at their head. that moment of realization must remain a lucid one long after the gift becomes just something you do.

if your power can be used to bring about good, then it would seem to me that it is automatically a superpower; especially since you don't associate the word with anything diabolical. what, then, is a person to do when they figure out that their superpower can only be used for evil? that's kind of where i'm at these days.

you see, i rented woman of the year several weeks ago and, before i could return it, katharine hepburn was dead. then, last friday, i rented road to utopia. the bob hope classic sits, unwatched, on top of my television and the actor, as you well know, just met his maker. this is a burden i do not want. the power to kill frail actors simply by renting their films is not something i am proud of, nor is it in any way super.

last seen: ben hur
last heard: cub 'my chinchilla'
Satan sucks, but you're the best!/
Holy smokes, you passed the test/
When I'm with you, I feel blessed/
My chinchilla

last read: At the time I did not see the irony of making an ashtray for my father at Camp Asthma.

Saturday, July 26, 2003

jenn and i walked across the street to STAR UCKS COFF after dinner this evening. it's true. the B and the Es had been stolen from the sign. we were in a pretty decent neighborhood, so the theft was a bit surprising. i like to believe that some kleptomaniacal apiarist needed them for his own sign, given the particular letters that were missing...but i digress.

the sun was falling just behind the trees when we first sat down. as the next two hours passed and the sky turned from purple to pink to black, we nursed our drinks and talked about her upcoming journey to grad school. we also discussed tomorrow evening's going-away party. i fear that it will be a unicorns and monster trucks theme party in spirit only since we, her friends, were not able to procure even one unicorn or monster truck. i am hoping that if she drinks enough, we can convince her that the cat is a unicorn. it might take some not-harmful-to-cats super glue and we'll all need to agree to tell jenn that it is a shetland unicorn. yes, she just might buy it.

aside from the great conversation, we also got to watch a teenaged girl lean back in her chair, tip too far, and then fall down a flight of stairs. we didn't even laugh at her. she up-ended a metal trash can on her way down, which subsequently went tumbling noisily down a second flight of stairs. she stood up embarrassed, giggling nervously, and without any gushing wounds. it is just the type of mortifying act that she will mention in therapy a few years from now or, if she is particularly clever, turn into an interesting anecdote in her as-yet-unnamed weblog.

last seen: city lights, harry potter and the chamber of secrets
last heard: the aislers set 'the walk'
last read: But my step-father has no interest in even finding out what saag paneer is when he knows what a batch of crispy chicken fingers and mustard in a tissue-lined plastic green basket taste like.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

the last 150 pages of kavalier and clay trumped my movie plans last night. i parked it at a coffeeshop and, when i shut that joint down, i read at home until about 1:30am. i turned the last page shortly after waking today. there were times during the past two weeks that i forsook drinks with friends, pushed mealtimes ahead or back, and watched the minutehand on the office clock count the last few moments of my workday, just so i could get back to that book. the last time that happened was with white teeth. this is my way of saying that i really enjoyed the novel. now i only hope i remember all of the details when book club rolls around in three weeks. tom finished it a few days ago, too, and it was the catalyst for monday's great post. he knows way more about comics than i do, so take his endorsement as the professional's and my endorsement as the layman's. that should cover just about all of you. now, go read it.

in other book news and this is, to quote frank black, so hush-hush...the library's programming person contacted me today. she let me in on a little secret. turns out she is trying to get sarah vowell, david rakoff, and ira glass for next year's festival. apparently, she thought of me because i mentioned this american life in something she read. i told her if she gets them, i'll host (pick them up from the airport, have dinner, help with the event, etc.). she told me i was at the top of her list.

go on, touch me. i know you want to.

last heard: ulan bator 'hemisphere'
last read: michael chabon the amazing adventures of kavalier and clay
reading: jim fricke & charlie ahearn yes yes y'all: oral history of hip-hop's first decade [thanks for the tip, mark]

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

there is this guy i work with, he really knows how to tell a story. he does the voices and uses his hands. he's even been known to get up from his chair and do a funny little walk, if the story calls for it. by far, my favorite stories are the ones he tells about the summer jobs he held as a kid and on up through college.

the other day he told us about the summer that he worked in a paper mill in rural mississippi. there were these big loud machines that had sheets of paper on gigantic rolls. they stretched all the way across the mill, almost the length of a football field. he had this one boss and, like most bosses, this guy loved to stand behind the workers and bark about how they were doing it all wrong. he would know, too, because he only had one arm and the other one had been ripped off by this very machine.

whenever the paper would jam, and it did quite frequently, the workers would have to crawl up under the machine, avoiding all manner of spinning, hot, metal gadgets and yank the offending piece of paper out. they then had to pull the gigantic sheets smooth for the machine to operate, all the while the boss would crouch down and bark things at them while they were under the machine. things like, come on, college boy!!! OR hey, smith, i got a daughter at home can pull better 'an that!!! OR i bet you want to stay in school now, huh!!!. the best part of the story, though, was when i learned that this boss used to like to sneak up behind guys and pinch them on the ass with his hook hand.

last heard: blossom dearie 'i'm old fashioned'
last read: There's me. My uncle that made the newspaper when he put his Pontiac through the barber shop. That's pretty impressive. And my uncle who killed his wife. And got away with it. Killed a second one and didn't.
bonus: want to buy a cool house for $1,500? you just have to move it somewheres else by next friday.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

suggested names for my 40s film series
courtesy of ed

-Here's looking at you, bitch.
-It's a whacky, whacky, whacky black and white comedy festival.
-Jesus Christ, everything is all gray! Comedies of the 40's.
-No titties! No swearing! Lotsa Yucks!

several of our patrons suggested that we host sunday afternoon film screenings here at the library, maybe put together the occasional series. great idea, right? well we finally secured public performance rights from a number of studios. this means that we can show films to the public without violating copyright. in preparation for our first series, a few of us were reading the fine print. it turns out that we can offer a monthly film series but, we can't publicize the titles of the films, not in the local paper, not even at other branches within our system. we also can't make fliers with the titles on them. the only bit of publicity that is allowed to have the titles on it is a poster of our own design to hang in the branch. any outside publicity is limited to the name of the series, dates, and times, but no titles. how much sense does that make?

the silver lining in this dark cloud is that i got tapped to go first. my series runs from september-december and, since you are about to swear that you won't tell the movie honchos or their lawyers, [go on, swear!] here are the details-- american comedies of the 1940s; though, i haven't thought of a snappy sounding name for my theme, yet. the three selections i've made so far are: his girl friday, sullivan's travels, and woman of the year. any ideas for a theme name or, more importantly, a fourth film? i thought about easter parade, but showing that film in december just seemed wrong.

last seen: meet me in st. louis
last heard: future pilot aka 'darshan'
last read: james sturm the golem's mighty swing

Monday, July 21, 2003

i just read that the pacific ocean will be playing at go! studios next wednesday. everyone reading this should email michael and tell him to go to the show with me and knock it off with all of the i-just-bought-a-house-and-i'm-saving-up-for-a-wedding nonsense. remind him of the fun we had on the way home from the elvis costello show when we pulled into that truckstop just north of salisbury, the one that sold ninja stars and pie and had a gigantic paul bunyan statue out front. tell him that we'll stop there again if he wants and, this time, we'll take pictures of the truckstop whores with his snazzy digital camera.

don't remind him that the men's room had those horrible, cloth handtowels-on-a-roll where the dirty part loops down then gets pulled back up into the machine. we both hate those.

last seen: it happened one night
last heard: death by chocolate
last read: They were in town all last week protesting abortion, homosexuality, Islam, and anything else they don't like or understand.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

we stopped for the night in california or new mexico. i can't remember which because on this trip i was very small. the motor lodge had individual cabins, white bungalows with brown shutters, lots of things accented in that same shade of green as the felt on pool tables. the cabins formed a semi-circle along the road. the office was in the middle. tiny islands of dark brown leaves floated in the corners of the swimming pool. i could see to the bottom. there were leaves there, too. it may have been after labor day, sweater weather, the cold days slowly starting to outnumber the warm.

this was the same trip that i cashed in all of my skee-ball tickets for a birdcall. it was in the shape of a bird and made of clear pink plastic. you filled the bottom with water and blew into one of the tail-feathers which had been artfully-crafted into a kind of whistle. the air from my lips passed along the top of the water and tweeted just like a real bird. large stretches of the rest of this trip were spent tweeting.

you might wonder when this was; i do, too. i also wonder whether this memory is one single vacation or several trips that i've patched together. maybe, i'll ask my mom. it was a long time ago. that bit i'm sure of because the hotel gave us keys on a giant plastic key ring instead of the electronic cards you get now. those key rings always had the address of the hotel printed on them and a kind request. i could tell it was kind because it was printed in italics. if found, please drop in mailbox. when i was a kid, i always wondered how often that happened.

last seen: the third man
last heard: desmond dekker 'rude boy train'
last read: The interesting question, the important question, is whether you want to be a part of the debate about what kind of empire it is, or whether you prefer your useless histrionics well behind the barricades.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

sadly, colin farrell doesn't get shot in the face at the end of the 75-minute house-of-fun that is joel schumacher's phone booth. there were no bloopers at the end either; no forest whitaker suddenly breaking character, with that crazy eye of his, and doing a little soft-shoe in the middle of NYC. still, it was enjoyable friday evening fare. if you've had a little too much stan brakhage lately and need to cleanse the palate, then phone booth is your film...

the really interesting part of the night came after the movie. a few of us were gathered there; i heard our conversation evolve from scattered musings on the current disarray of our library system into contrasts between theory and practice in librarianship. [ps- theory gets me hott!] the panel was a nice cross-section of library workers. each of us works in a different location and has a different stake in the way that management handles things. as the sole librarian in the group, there were several points at which i, honestly, felt a little cornered but, in the interest of perspective, it was a great conversation.

on the ride home, i thought about this quote from rory litwin that i have tacked on a bulletin board in my kitchen. i've had it there for a couple of years and it is the best articulation of why i decided to do what i do. it is handy to reflect on it when i've had a bad day or i find myself worked up over some petty thing. here it is:

Libraries are special because they are at once communitarian, libertarian, and models for sustainability. They are communitarian in the economic sense because they are built on solidarity. A community pools its resources in order to share them. Libraries are libertarian in the social/intellectual sense because of the ethic of intellectual freedom, which says that all ideas should be included and nothing censored. This combination of economic communitarianism and social/intellectual libertarianism creates the ideal support system for a democratic society, because the library provides everyone with access to ideas and provides access to every idea. In addition, libraries are models for sustainable systems. By following the "borrow, don't buy" ethic, libraries provide an alternative to consumerism, an alternative to environmentally unsound overproduction and spiritually unsound overconsumption.


last seen: phone booth
last heard: zapp 'computer love'
last read: I'm not sure what it says about you if you're making out with someone and you say "We should probably stop," and they say, "OR, not! And tomorrow let's go out for pizza!" and this sounds like a good plan.
bonus: if i'm ever in baltimore...

Friday, July 18, 2003

twelve things i've done since yesterday

-slept in
-cleaned taffy off of the wall with a warm dishtowel
-read 70 more pages of Kavalier and Clay
-took a long walk
-chai. mmmm.
-felt like a proud papa (the seeds i planted a week ago just broke through the soil)
-ordered $2,500 worth of movies at work
-watched humphrey bogart
-showered at 1:30pm
-started some laundry
-bought $140 worth of Italian textbooks for my $55 Italian class
-um, did i mention cleaning taffy off of the wall with a warm dishtowel?

last seen: treasure of the sierra madre [me vs. afi= 77/100]
last heard: neutral milk hotel 'holland, 1945'
last read: James has done so much for Michaelpella, but his pride kept him behind the camera for this one. Luckily Dutch and I weren't similarly afflicted.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

that's just wrong
a short story by young james kelly, professional librarian

so, about half an hour ago, there is this college-aged couple using the online catalog near my desk. they look puzzled. they ask me a few questions. they seem nice. they get the books they need and walk upstairs to check out. a few moments later, an old woman comes up and hands me some money, someone left two dollars next to that computer. my eyes shoot upstairs, lightning-fast like, where i spot the college-aged couple at the circulation desk. i grab the money, thank the old woman, and bound the stairs two-at-a-time to return the money to its rightful owner. i'm nice like that. i tap the man on the shoulder and say you left this money by the computer downstairs. he smiles. his girlfriend leans forward, she smiles. i can almost hear the TINK...TINK, as they flash their simultaneous winning smiles. thanks!, they say in unison. i walk back downstairs and continue working on the desk.

five minutes later...

a little boy walks up to the desk. did you find two dollars? i think i left it by that computer.

my cheap plastic lawn chair kept making strange sounds on the cement floor; kind of a creak-tap-crack everytime i shifted my weight or crossed my legs to the other side. there were several rows of these shoddy chairs put out for the show. between sets there isn't so much to do, unless you care to study the technique of the guys moving guitars and mics around. i sat there thinking about how cool it would be if i lived in an old movie; not because i'd get to dress up as a pool boy and serve veronica lake a drink but, rather, because my phone number would have a word at the beginning of it. yeah, that's SUnrise7-4932. how cool is that?

the place had emptied and, through the large plate glass window, i could see the other show-goers shuffling around on the sidewalk, smoking. that's when it hit me...the last three shows that i've been to have been non-smoking shows. i suspected that the evening muse was always non-smoking. it was my first time there so i can't be sure. the white stripes show at grady cole last month? same deal. the trachtenburg show in chapel hill? yep, there, too, but i'm pretty sure this last one was because the drummer was a little girl. does three constitute some kind of trend or is it all chance, some weird coincidence that i picked three venues that forced patrons out into the steamy north carolina night to quell their addictions? curious, but really who cares, since the only cigarettes rolled up in the sleeve of my undershirt are the candy kind.

last seen: guess who's coming to dinner
last heard: heavenly 'me and my madness'
last read: Isaac Green, formerly responsible for ‘steps and shouts’ with St. Louis third-wavers Isaac Green and the Skalars, knows how to make a great mix tape. [editor's note for michael and troy: he's alive. all this time, i suspected witness protection.]

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

visitors pull in and out of the five-car parking lot behind our building at all hours-- 6pm, 11:48, just after sunrise. they take the incline too fast or at the wrong angle. they announce their visitorness in the inexperienced way that the bottoms of their cars scrape the drive. later, i will walk by and read the deep gouges in the concrete and a line of paint or rubber like a catalog of arrivals and departures.

warm tires crunch the gravel under my bathroom window. i reread the same line in my book three times and lie there, waiting for it, the heavy footsteps on the metal stairs, the knock on one of the other doors. there are only four of us in the building; no such thing as sneaking someone in, not with the crunchy, scrapey drive, pipes that talk, irregular hours and, because it's summer, the sounds of love. adapting to all of it is easier than you might think. it isn't the occasional repetitive bed spring or the muffled sounds of adult sports emanating from my ceilings and walls that troubles me. i've learned to concentrate on my reading or bill-writing in spite of it. no, what troubles me is the constant reminder of how much sex i'm not having.

last heard: stereolab 'sadistic'
last read: birds of prey- book one

Monday, July 14, 2003

the community college catalogs arrive in two bundles, tightly bound with a yellow plastic cord which whirls around and slaps the counter when i cut it. i place a few copies out for the public and pick one from the top of the stack to carry back to the desk. my fingers turn inky black after the first few pages. these catalogs are always printed on the same low-grade newsprint.

i think it would be swell to take a class at the community college; you know, in the interest of lifelong learning. i miss school. every year, i pore through the catalog, spending hours trying to figure out what will fit into my work schedule. sadly, few things do. the history of architecture class that i want is only offered in the morning. so, this year, i've whittled my choices down to two. i could take italian. it meets on monday nights in a high school near my house. the other option is this class where you build a log cabin using traditional tools. i picture myself wearing a harness and dragging huge logs through the woods. in this daydream, i feel really manly, so maybe i spit or punch someone in the arm. the log cabin building sounds really fun, but it meets every saturday from 9-4 in the fall. i might call for details. the class is listed as a community project and registration doesn't cost a dime, so maybe you aren't required to go every saturday.

last seen: gerry, donnie darko, adam's rib
last heard: sly and the family stone 'everybody is a star'
last read: Who were these mysterious guests? The solution, it turned out, was obvious. "My dear, we've overlooked the most glaring clue," Peter announced. "Our mysterious visitors rang the doorbell at 8 AM. Only one sort of person would do that: an asshole. Identity discovered. Mystery solved. Case closed."

Friday, July 11, 2003

[editor's note: warning! very boring library rant ahead]

i think i may be turning into some kind of book snob. people who know me well, probably think i am late in coming to this self-realization.

you see, like most libraries, we break the fiction collection into sections. each librarian is then assigned a section which they are responsible for weeding. i have authors K through P. there are about a million rules for determining whether we should keep a title or pitch it. there are space issues to consider, usage statistics, number of duplicate copies at our library and at other branches. we also check to see whether the title is listed in the fiction catalog, a giant list of suggested titles that even the smallest library should own. the whole art of deselection is complicated by the fact that i had to take an entire semester in library school learning the tools and methods for choosing books, and i don't remember spending even one week on how to get rid of anything, but i digress.

the K through P section includes such book-writing machines as stephen king, tim lahaye, judith michael, janette oke, judith pella, ad nauseam. these authors not only produce countless titles, but the library purchases mulitple copies of each one, until, as is the case with king, we have an entire range (several shelves worth) of his books. still, they circulate like mad. almost every title has gone out at least once in the past three months. the last thing you want to do is get rid of books that people are using but space forces you to make difficult decisions.

getting back to the book snob thing, when i want to pick a title for my book club, i try to select something that we have several copies of in the library. even if they are at other branches, i can have them sent over. what i find though is that we have very few copies of books that i think would be great to discuss. it is getting to the point where, here comes the book snob, i'm starting to believe that any book the library owns more than ten copies of must inherently be crap. would you like a for instance from our online catalog?

aimee bender's an invisible sign of my own= 10 copies
john grisham's king of torts= 596 copies [note: this is not a misprint]

come on folks. try something new. read something different. still i can't help wondering, is it really fair to judge folks for reading fluff or should i focus on the silver lining, the fact that only a very small percentage of americans actually read books on a regular basis; therefore, even the fluff-readers should be praised?

last seen: roger dodger
last heard: hank williams 'i can't help it (if i'm still in love with you)'
last read: I'll call the TV show "Ghetto House" and it will feature household tips, as well as entertainment ideas.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

excerpts from:
42short- the tigerbeat interview
by jen and jenn

vital stats
height: five feet, five inches
weight: 185 (but he wears it so well)
eye color: brown
hair color: brown
astrological sign: taurus
siblings: one sister, lisa
fave colors: green, brown, blue
celebrity crush: audrey hepburn

where were you born?
frankfurt, germany. in an army hospital.

do you like dolphins or kittens better?
kittens, even though they make me sneeze.

rock steady or steady rock?
when i first wake up, i begin to rock...steady, but then i'm steady rockin' all night long.

pirates or cowboys?
you might check this out for yourselves, but i heard from a pretty reliable source that pirates spend their workdays passing syphilis around to each other like a bottle of cheap rot gut; so, naturally, i like cowboys. plus, they have spurs that jingle, jangle, jingle.

cake or ice cream?
red velvet or chocolate cake, but only because i see no pie option. if the judges will include pie on the ballot, i would vote for it. preferably, pecan or sweet potato.

tell us about your first kiss
you can read about that on my site.

do you like your fans?
let me tell you a story. the other day, it was terrible. work was hard. indeed, life was hard. i get home and sitting there in the vestibule is one of those giant clear balloons with a teddy bear inside. the damned thing was holding a rose in one paw and a felt-covered heart in the other. it was from one of my fans; i felt better instantly. they are the best. they keep me going. word.

what is your idea of the perfect date?
i would just break it down like smoove b.

who's your fave disney villain?
animated: cruella de vil
live action: the gogans from pete's dragon

if you had to be one of the coreys for a day, which one would you be and why?
few people know that lucas was actually a bio-pic based loosely on my life. even fewer know that i was a technical advisor on the set and spent many hours coaching the young master haim. he is actually a very lonely man despite his outward jocularity. therefore, i would choose to live 24 glorious hours in the shoes of corey feldman. ideally, it would be during the filming of goonies and on a day that they were shooting the sloth/chunk dungeon scene. that way, i could sneak into martha plimpton's trailer and coyly ask her those two magic questions--do you like pina coladas? gettin' caught in the rain?

biggest pet peeve?
people who are compulsively late.

desert island disc?
the cure- staring at the sea

if macaulay AND kieran culkin were both drowning but you could only save one of them, who would you save and why?
i would save kieran, because when he got mauled by that cougar, it spoke to something deep within me. it was like he was getting mauled for all of us, like, for our sins. after i pulled kieran to safety, we would stick around to watch macaulay flail about helplessly and succumb to the cold and unforgiving waters, then we'd laugh.

if you couldn't make your living as a librarian, what would you be instead?
i would be a ballboy for the knicks.

last seen: the hours
last heard: swingle singers 'clair de lune'
last read: [Privatized military firms] are profit-driven organizations that trade in professional services intricately linked to warfare.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

the first time i saw a plane crash, i was in fifth grade. a fighter jet took off from a runway on our left. it burst into a white ball, lighting the night sky as it passed over the row of gridlocked cars ahead of ours. it came to rest, twisted and glowing, in a field on our right. the pilots ejected too close to the ground for their chutes to open, but they lived.

the second time i saw a plane crash was a couple of years later. it was actually not a plane, but a helicopter, one of those sightseeing ones. we were lying on the beach with our eyes closed, our ears numb to the drone of the helicopter. it lifted off several times an hour from a helipad just west of the beach. the last time, though, we heard a loud pop and sat up in time to watch it sail into the water like a shot bird.

i have also seen a man get hit by a car, a girl get clotheslined when she ran into a tent rope, and a boy scream for his mother during our wrestling practice when his elbow got dislocated.

i don't know why i am remembering all of these horrible things today. who wants to remember them? instead, let's think about that poster with the pink background, the one with the kitten holding onto a tree branch and above him it says HANG IN THERE. ahhhhh.

last seen: woman of the year
last heard: the white stripes 'rated x'
last read: mrs. dalloway
reading: the amazing adventures of kavalier and clay

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

i was involved with my first real girlfriend for about three years. we met in a class called the american left. neither of us spoke much during the seventy-five minutes that the class was in session, but we'd sometimes walk across campus together and talk about the readings. we read all kinds of great stuff like huey long and emma goldman and herbert marcuse. little by little, bits of our personal lives would crop up in these business-only conversations until finally we were sharing meals and free time.

during one conversation, i learned that she had undergone a series of sleep studies and had recently been diagnosed with narcolepsy and cataplexy. her doctors were testing different meds in order to find some cocktail that might control both disorders. the former is a sleep condition you probably know about; the latter causes patients to loose muscle control and is sometimes triggered by a strong, sudden emotion. in her case, it was laughter.

getting to know her during this time was probably more fun for me than it was for her. i judged the caliber of my comedy by whether her cataplexy acted up. sitting on park benches, i'd throw out some off-hand joke. the next thing i would hear from her would be a giggle or guffaw followed by the soon-familiar, whispered uh oh. i'd turn to see her arms gently falling to her sides and her head tilting slowly to her shoulder like she was going to sleep; all the while, uncontrollable muffled giggles would issue forth from under her breath. she explained that there was no real danger and we quickly established a triage routine for these little episodes. i have to admit i kind of enjoyed them, because i never had to wonder whether, like some girls, she was laughing at my jokes just to humor me. there is no faking the loss of muscle control.

last seen: the lost honor of katharina blum
last heard: general public 'tenderness' [editor's note: come on, hand claps and bassoon-like sounds, what's not to love?]
last read: Last night one of the members of the Virginia Woolf Society came to dinner dressed as Sally Seton from Mrs. Dalloway. Her iridescent mauve dress was fabulous, but I wasn’t sure if the gigantic pink ribbon bowed around her head was for décor or nursing a head wound. Nonetheless she’s a potential delegate for WoolfCon 2004!

Monday, July 07, 2003

the smithsonian folklife festival was one of this weekend's highlights. after a particularly hellish (read: crowded) metro experience among thousands of sweaty tourists, we emerged on the mall. this year, they were celebrating the cultures of scotland, mali, and appalachia. there was music and food from each culture and tents which highlighted the crafts of each region.

the heat was incredible. they sold hunks of watermelon for two dollars to help keep folks hydrated. there were all these tiny kids milling about, each toting their own piece. it was adorable. if a little kid was walking in front of you, their head would appear about yea-big [holding hands up to show approximate kid-head size] and then extending out about six inches on both sides of each kid-head would be this gigantic piece of watermelon that they had to hold with both hands. the only thing cuter was watching them randomly team up and spit seeds at each other.

my dad and i each had our own slabs of watermelon. since neither of us has ever really grown up, i'm sure we could easily have talked each other into running out from the music tent to join the seed-spitting fun. it was just too hot. well, the heat, plus we were pretty sure that parents wouldn't look too kindly upon a thirty-year-old-boy and his father chasing, then spitting on, their kids.

last seen: frida, moonlight mile, the godfather
last heard: the coup 'fat cats, bigga fish'
last read: I like watching people skate; I think it makes everyone look nicer. I also think that wearing scarves makes everyone look nicer as well.

Friday, July 04, 2003

the aunt and i made it to DC safely. she brought a six-pound bag of candy for the van. it was a sample pack from tootsie roll industries. lots of vanilla-flavored tootsie rolls and little boxes of dots. i like the red dots best and green dots the least.

the today show was on while we were eating breakfast this morning. two bites into my corn muffin, i decided that i hate the sign-wielding fans of morning news shows. everytime the camera panned the crowd, the people would randomly scream or go WHOO!!! like ric flair. i wish every news fan would use their inside voice, but maybe that's because i work in the library and i like quiet.

last seen: whale rider, old school
last heard: belle and sebastian 'i don't love anyone'
last read: seriously, would someone please tackle donald rumsfeld and lock his ass up until our 'counries-destroyed-to-contries-rebuilt' ratio is closer to 1? [via ed]

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

if you begin a day at work, as i just did, by recounting and trading your favorite foghorn leghorn episodes with your boss and then, not five minutes later, join a sing-along to psycho killer with a co-worker, then chances are it will be a good workday, but i digress...

tomorrow is roadtrip time. if my aunt decides to travel with me, we are taking her gigantic ford econoline van. it comfortably seats seven adults. i would bet that it uncomfortably accommodates at least seventeen adults, especially if you let people crouch down in the way-back. since she acquired the van several years after i ended my canadian cross-border human trafficking business, i never tested this theory. judging by the size of the van, my best guess on filling the gas tank is thirteen-hundred and eleven dollars. my aunt is apprehensive about travelling in the heavy rain which continues to pass in bands through the carolinas, remnants of tropical storm bill. i have assured her that the rain will pass by this evening, but she is playing the wait-and-see game. i've never taken a long trip in the comfortable, but oh-so-wastefully-american, mega-van, so i'm hoping that she'll decide to travel with me. i bet it feels like riding to washington DC on a couch.

if she chooses the no-travel option, then i will be heading up to mom and dad's by myself in my lowly escort (cost to fill tank= $13). i have control of the music in this second scenario, so it isn't all bad. used to be on long trips, i'd take a shoebox full of cassette tapes. whenever i needed to hear a particular song, i would lean over to the passenger floor boards and fisharound in the tape box. i had about 15 seconds until i'd hear that familiar RUMP-RUMP-RUMP which meant that i'd drifted onto the shoulder of the highway. i'm lucky enough to have a cd player now (yes, in a crappy ford escort) which means finding songs is much easier. i can quickly get back to the business of eating my ten-piece mcnuggets, a food that i only seem to eat on long roadtrips.

last seen: gangs of new york
last heard: talulah gosh 'do you remember'
last read: Between a recent Supreme Court ruling on Internet filters and several provisions of the Patriot Act, many librarians see themselves on the front line of a battle that pits public safety against intellectual freedom.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

a list of things that little boy won't do again
next time he visits the library


-stick his fingers between the closing elevator doors
-stick his fingers between the closing elevator doors
-stick his fingers between the closing elevator doors

last heard: yo la tengo 'how to make a baby elephant float'
last read: Ginger and I strategized so that all our cattle would drown and our family members would die of horrible diseases. We would spend all our money on wagon wheels or bearskins, and our children would start dropping pretty quickly after the third or fourth day...
bonus: Why don’t we just put your Star of David on top of the Christmas tree?