Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Dorky McHappy Fun

You choose a band, then answer questions using song titles. The questions are nerdy, but it's kind of fun and I'm cutting-and-pasting. Shut up, jerks.

band: The Beatles

Are you female or male: I Wanna Be Your Man

Describe yourself: Your Mother Should Know (aww, snap!)

How do some people feel about you: Free as a Bird

How do you feel about yourself: I Feel Fine

Describe your ex girlfriend/boyfriend: If You've Got Trouble

Describe your current girlfriend/boyfriend: I've Got A Feeling

Describe where you want to be: Strawberry Fields Forever

Describe what you want to be: Here, There, and Everywhere

Describe how you live: I've Got A Feeling

Describe how you love: Dig It

Share a few words of wisdom: Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Steps

There was once a railing, but I've long since lost it. The air is dark and stale and thick, like the inside of something and I can't remember what; and then yes, I think, it's the earth, or my mother. The steps are rock, or the rock is carved into steps, and when I first ascended it was an incline, as steps are meant to be. That was when the light was on, seconds ago or hours, but the light it went out again and now I don't know what to call them. They stopped stepping and started crawling and I don't know what to call them now. They're hard and rocky and silty and my hands are dirty and cracked and bleeding. It's never a climb, never quite straight up, and I do the best I can. The steps become smaller, or where I'm stepping becomes smaller, and maybe it's wider out to the sides but I can't tell because it's dark. It's dark and black and I can't tell. I could test it, sliding to the side and reaching out with my toes in time, but I don't have the time, and if there's nothing, if there's a hole or if the steps end and there is no railing, I will fall.

I'm not entirely alone. There is me and the steps and the dark, and there is the wind. It's cold and stale, blowing from I don't know where, and I can feel it now and again dancing across my forehead. When it blows I feel the wetness, the slickness, the sweatness on my brow, and in spite of the cold I'm hot from the inside, and I'm a calorie burner, and just try and stop me, just try and stop me now.

The wind blows from the dark, or from the sea perhaps, a great sea to either side. I cannot see it and I cannot hear it, but I know it and I feel it. Steps are a tool when made by man, but when forged by earth, from within the earth, they are tricksy and tempting, and I do not trust them. They rise from the sea, from cave to earth to sky, but they do not say where they will lead, and maybe they curve and spike and deceive, and maybe they lead back to the beginning, back into the past, where I come from and do not want to go.
The lightbulb lights, once again. It buzzes with sound but the sound is far off, and the light it is near, and the heat it is near, and the light and the heat, they are near. I can see it and I can hear it, but I do not know it and I do not feel it. Encased by wire, but I don't know how I know. It shines and it curses and the steps grow from mystery and are wide and safe again. I can sit on them, could lay on them if I wished, without fear of falling. The incline lessens and they are steps again and safe and I walk them, I step them, and the buzzing is there but not dangerous. It is comforting, but I push it out all the same, the buzzing, and I reach out to stop it and to hide my eyes from it. The wind it blows and it bites and it hurts, and it's hot and dizzy and hurty. I'm far from cool, I'm nearing the heat and the hot and the wet.

It's easy. It's easy so fuckit, I walkit. I don't hop it. I don't hurry. There is no hurry. There's no reason to. Except the light bulb. I can hear it. The buzz. And I can squint it but it hurts to look. The wind has stopped. The air is still again. Warm. Hot. Hotter than it was. The air felt good on my sweat before. Now it's just sweat. I'm just hot. I keep walking. More of a stumble. Up the stairs.

The buzzing goes out and the light goes out and the heat goes out and it's dark. I can feel the air again, and the windit blows, and it's cool. But I'm scared because the incline is back. It's never straight up but it curves and I don't know where it stops or where I started from.

My Second and Third Groups

The kids who responded to my comic shop ad were cats I knew from school, Leon and John. John was a pothead who drifted around wherever Leon went. Leon was a heavy metal kid who t-shirts with dragons on them and talked about the Ren Fair a lot. To them I added my friend Adrian, who I stayed in a group with until we both stopped playing altogether.

Leon and John stopped playing when Leon got a regular job. Adrian and I pulled Comstock back into the fold and the three of us played for awhile. My third group was the two of them, plus Eddie and Bug Boy. Eddie was a new kid at school and the biggest social misfit I'd ever seen. He was overweight and had a bizarre baby talk kind of lisp Adrian and I imitate to this day. He once told a girl he liked that if she were a D&D character, she would have a Charisma of 16. We picked on Ed a lot and hit him on the head with empty two-liter bottles. He wore sandals, even in the winter, and the big toe on his right foot was enormous. When we talked about Ed we mentioned his Big Toe as if it were a separate being. It was.

Bug Boy I knew from sight. He was a year younger than me and had ridden my bus since he was in kindergarten, but I'd never paid him much mind except to notice that his glasses were bigger than his face. And he had a weak chin. And he wore hooded sweatshirts all the time. And his brother drove a van. But other than that, I ignored him. He was a quiet kid, and he was only around because Ed was around.

Ed's parents didn't know he played D&D. They were religious, more religious than the average bear, and Ed told them that when we convened in my parents' dining room we played cards for hours and hours. But God was plotting against young Eddie and his parents found his D&D books one day. They questioned Ed and he broke like a puppy under the tires of a dump truck. I don't know what he told them exactly, but his parents called mine on Friday night to inform them that I was the leader of a black magick cult and that I was bewitching their little boy and their little boy's friend and leading them into a life of devilry and wickedness.

I was out with Adrian and some other friends at the time, being unsuccessfully set up with a girl who came to be known in our mythology as Lockjaw. When I got home my folks told me Eddie's parents had called several times, at first to inform them of my wicked ways, and when my parents blew them off, to accuse them of bad parenting. My folks were annoyed more with the repeated calls than by the accusations themselves. At that point I don't think they wanted to be bothered with parenting minutiae like other people's angry parents. When I wrecked my car a few years later, I'm fairly certain my dad was more upset with the inconvenience of leaving the house after midnight than by the fact that my bumper was screwed up.

Our D&D game the following week was again down to Adrian, Comstock and myself. It remained the three of us through the rest of my sophomore year. I saw Ed and Bug Boy in the halls at school after that, and sometimes I would shout hellos to them the way we used to when they showed up for a game. But they never said anything in return, or even made eye contact. Maybe they were fearful of retribution, or just embarrassed over what happened, but no one was mad at them. But we didn't especially miss them, either. We just wanted to keep playing. Comstock left for college over the summer, and the group fell apart again.

holy effing ess!

Methane has been found in the Martian atmosphere which scientists say could be a sign that life exists today on Mars.

Methane lives for a short time in the Martian atmosphere so it must be being constantly replenished.

There are two possible sources: either active volcanoes, none of which have been found yet on Mars, or microbes.

(found on diepunyhumans)

Monday, March 29, 2004

It's That Time Of Year Again!

Ahh, springtime in Uptown Chicago . . . when the fat ladies in their motorized wheelchairs put on their skimpiest outfits and the kids hit the sidewalks to look for the first used condom of the season.

Nerd up!

I Am A: True Neutral Elf Bard Ranger


Alignment:
True Neutral characters are very rare. They believe that balance is the most important thing, and will not side with any other force. They will do whatever is necessary to preserve that balance, even if it means switching allegiances suddenly.


Race:
Elves are the eldest of all races, although they are generally a bit smaller than humans. They are generally well-cultured, artistic, easy-going, and because of their long lives, unconcerned with day-to-day activities that other races frequently concern themselves with. Elves are, effectively, immortal, although they can be killed. After a thousand years or so, they simply pass on to the next plane of existance.


Primary Class:
Bards are the entertainers. They sing, dance, and play instruments to make other people happy, and, frequently, make money. They also tend to dabble in magic a bit.


Secondary Class:
Rangers are the defenders of nature and the elements. They are in tune with the Earth, and work to keep it safe and healthy.


Deity:
Gond is the True Neutral god of artifice, craft, and construction. He is also known as Gond Wonderbringer. His followers believe that 'actions count' - that is, that what is accomplished in the end is what is truly important. They wear saffron clothing, with red sashes containing all manner of mechanical devices. Their preferred weapons are firearms, since the followers of Gond had a large hand in their making and invention. They also wear plate mail (no shield), but generally prefer to have bodyguards, instead. Gond's symbol is a toothed wheel, made of ivory, bone, or metal.


Find out What D&D Character Are You?, courtesy ofNeppyMan (e-mail)


Sunday, March 28, 2004

My First Group

Levi was in charge. He was older, a senior, and had the most stuff. And he worked for his parents so he had the most flexible schedule. The first time he called me himself to invite me to a game I did a little dance around my room--I was IN. He had another group of friends, other seniors that only played with us from time to time. They were Zach, Levi's best friend, who years later dropped out of college, grew a beard, and walked the country; Jesus, whose real name was Matt Smith and who worked at Taco Bell (when he was on drive-thru you could order a Matt Smith Soft Taco that would be so loaded with Grade D meat that it was bigger than your fist); Fred Paul, who shaved in the morning and had a full beard by midnight; Tim, who was always on speed; and Nate, who generally had other, shadier things going on.

The next guy in our group was Comstock. Comstock and I stuck together the longest, after the other cats moved off to college or quit playing altogether. He liked Pink Floyd and would honestly listen to nothing else. He also drank Diet Mountain Dew (caffeine free) and carried cans around in the duffel he called a book bag. He was diabetic and gave himself insulin shots in the stomach while we played, not even bothering to stop talking while he did it. Later he worked at Subway and gave us free sandwiches.

James rounded out our group of four at the beginning. He was my friend from 5th Grade, the one that had always been cooler than me. I saw him change in high school, adapt himself to please the other people around him. When he got a job for the first time he used to shout that his set of dice had cost him an hour's worth of work.

Robin and Amy and Melanie were the girlfriends. They played when they were dating someone in the group, and stayed friendly even when they weren't. After Levi graduated the group fell apart, even Comstock for a time. I found my second group by posting an ad at my local ratty comics shop.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Where's your badge?

Things have been busy, but I'll be able to offer plenty of AWP anecdotes soon. My favorite--the old man at the censorship panel who, instead of asking a question, talked about his difficulty in finding an agent who would read his book, which was about how there are too many Hispanics in this country. "Now I don't have anything against Hispanics or anything," he said, "there's just too many of them."

America needs more confused white old men. They are obviously on to something.

Also, no one seems to know who Pitfall Harry is. And by "no one" I mean both of you.

Monday, March 22, 2004

As you can see, my eyes are dilated.

Washington is one of the stations where folks set up and play music, asking for tips while people wait for the train. Two men were there, both singing, one of them playing keyboard. There was a simple drum beat playing, preprogrammed and soft. They were improvising, but they worked well together. "It's a brand new day," they sang, and, "Na-na-na, na-na-na, na-na-na na na-na-na."

I had a quarter in my pocket and I knew it; I had spent my last dollar earlier in the pop machine, and I always wait for the change. I didn't give them the quarter because it seemed too daunting, digging it from my pocket, pushing past people to reach them, dropping it in the styrofoam container attached to the keyboard. And I could see the train, and it was close. I felt better and worse and the same time as the train pulled close and they said, "Thank you folks for listening, and y'all have a safe trip."

On the train, Blind Man came through. I saw him on the red line once or twice a week, but I'd never given him any money. A man closer to him than me dug the change out of his pocket, counted it in his hand, and stepped forward to drop it in Blind Man's cup. "God bless you," Blind Man told him.

I got my quarter out and stood ready. As Blind Man passed I reached forward and dropped my quarter in his cup. Just as I dropped it Blind Man stopped to shake his cup. I don't think he heard my quarter hit because he didn't say, "God bless you." I hadn't been waiting to hear that, and I don't give out change to make myself feel good--or, I don't think I do--but I wonder if if still matters to him that I gave him a quarter if he didn't hear it drop.

The quarter might disappear if he doesn't hear it, or it might turn into wood. God might not bless me, and Blind Man might think resentfully of the people he passes who don't give.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Plague

It's Wednesday and I've got a pocket full of cash and I want to go buy new comics. But I've slept too long and the sun is going to set and the store will be closed if I don't leave now now now. I wobble into my shoes and hustle downstairs, realizing I've left my glasses on the bathroom sink. But that's fine, I can see well enough without them, and there's no time to go back.

I head out the front door of my building and the Deaf Guy is on the sidewalk. Well, I don't know if he's deaf, but his is mute, and he sees me and he rubs his fingers together to indicate "change." I've got change, sure, jingling and jangling in my pocket, but I can't dig it out without also pulling out my wad of cash. I shake my head NO and say SORRY really loud and my voice roars like a blowhorn, like a lion, like Jesus, and it tears at his skin, blows the Deaf Guy's clothes off, and shatters his bones. There's a box in my throat, a tiny metal box, but it's getting bigger. It's a square and it's growing, it's pushing against my skin and you can see it. I can't breathe around it. I open my mouth and another ROAR is loosed, knocking cars into the street, destroying old women and atomizing children. I want to close my mouth, to stop the destruction, but I'm afraid that if I do my teeth will break away and die. The sound keeps growing and the metal box keeps growing, pushing itself up into my throat and into my mouth. My jaw opens wide, too wide, and flips backwards on hinges. The box breaks free and skin and skull fall away, and it's my new head.

It's steely and shiny and I keep walking. Buildings are leveled and the Deaf Guy is dust, but the train station is fine. I wait for the train, and when it arrives the car is full. I open my robot mouth and my voice box of death incinerates the passengers. The train rocks on the tracks and I step inside, dust off a seat, and sit down. The comic shop is open when I arrive, and the comics, they are good.

Illinois Primary

Well, at least DEAN beat Lieberman. But damn you, Mosley-Braun!

Howard Dean, 43,994 - 4 percent

John Edwards, 122,497 - 11 percent

John Kerry, 809,752 - 72 percent

Dennis Kucinich, 25,660 - 2 percent

Carol Moseley Braun, 50,440 - 4 percent

Al Sharpton, 34,205 - 3 percent

Wesley Clark, 17,896 - 2 percent

Joe Lieberman, 21,969 - 2 percent

Monday, March 15, 2004

freeeeeeezer burn

I'm substitute-blogging over at Annie's site. I suggested that we trade blogs for a day or two, but she was more into the idea of me writing for her blog and her writing for no blogs, so there you go.

I'm craving a fake hamburger right now, but the box in my freezer has been there for some time now. I'm not sure how deadly the freezer burn gets in this part of the world, and I don't know if I want to find out.

It's Tuesday!



If you're in Illinois, get out there and vote!

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Sometimes I Remember I'm On The Interweb

There are six or seven people who stop by this blog on any given day, and every once in awhile it hits me that I really only know who three of them are. Once or a week or so I check in on my stat counter because I get to see how many people visited the site on any given days, how many return visitors there were, that sort of thing. And it's fun to try to decipher who's been looking by the information I have. That lady from Columbus, for example. I can also see when people found the site from googling something. Meredith has found that folks looking for Bachelor Bob porn seem to be drawn to her site, for example; Annie had some weird Boudi-stalker checking out her blog several times.

Me, I just stuff like "juggernaut pictures." Unfortunately for them, I don't think there pictures of any actual juggernauts on the site--the site IS the juggernaut, kids. You're looking at the fun! Once, I posted to an Achewood strip that had the punchline, "It's homosexuals!" I used that as my headline, and someone found the site by searching for "homosexuals" on Google. Today I noticed someone found me via the San Valentino & the Melancholy Kid post I did last weekend. But! I also saw that someone found the site by searching for my name. It's just one of those weird things that makes you realize more than just the two people who post comments are reading this jazz.

I'm an internet phenomenon! Say hello when you stop by, kids!

P.S. Does everybody know who Pitfall Harry is?

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Things I Learned at the Kerry Rally

Dudes will hit on people absolutely anywhere.

Prayers are apparantly acceptable at political gatherings.

Soul music is inspiring and revolutionary, but at the same time, safe and non-threatening.

John Kerry is a tall man.

John Kerry seems to have Secret Service protection.

Rod the Bod's wife is a hottie.

Mayor Daley's wife looks like a generic midwestern wife.

All of those signs? They pass them out at the rally.

All of those signs that look homemade? They pass them out at the rally.

Wait, even the ones that say "Cubbies for Kerry?" Yes. Those too.

Chicago is the greatest city on Earth.

This is the story . . .

(From March 10th)

Riding the train to see John Kerry, I was already making excuses. Sure, I had a hot and sexy affair with Howard Dean; but he couldn't go the distance, and our love was not enough to hold us together when society wanted to tear us apart. So there I was, on my way to a first date with a new candidate (the kind of date Howard never took me on, let me tell you--he exhausted himself long before the primaries brought him to Illinois).

I remember watching the first season of the Real Word in 1992/3, and two things really stand out for me: one, I wanted a sport jacket like Andre wore, and two, watching the Real Worlders attend a Harry Brown rally. They made signs, bundled up for a day in the cold, and went out to support the candidate they believed would change Washington and take back the White House from a 1-term Republican Bush.

The episode aired long after the primary season was over, maybe even after the general election itself. Either way, Bill Clinton was already riding high, swatting aside rumors of infidelity, and giving the finger to Bush and Perot both. I remember wondering what it was like for the Real World kids to have supported a candidate so fervently only to see him pushed aside. I was glad I had signed up for the Winning Team already, thanks to the election coverage brought to my homeroom by the informative folks over at Channel One. But what about the Brown people? Did they just switch gears and fall in line behind Clinton, in the hopes that he could take on Bush? Or did his most ardent supporters lose interest in the election and stay home in November? What about their first love? What about Howard De--um, that is, Harry Brown?

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Buy My Birdfeeder

Computer trouble lately--hopefully I'll be updated WIRELESSLY from my new computer that will rest ON MY LAP by this time tomorrow. We'll see. In the meantime, go check out Atrios, as he's usually good for the info-tainment. And someone who reads his blog bought him a Tivo recently. Not that I would ever ask of such a thing, especially when all I need is a chair with an actual back on it.

Question: do Presidential nominees get Secret Service protection? Because if so I was standing next to one tonight. Will report fully on my First Date With Rimjob when an internet connection is secure.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Spacegasm

The Hubble is taking pictures of things like this . . .



. . . and NASA wants to retire it years ahead of schedule?

Remember Truth and Trust

From the chapter, "The Art of Conversation," from Mary Elizabeth's book Painless Speaking:

"Getting to know someone you think you might feel romantic about (or already do) is not the same as flirting. Flirting is acting romantic without being serious about the other person--in other words, tricking another person into thinking you're more interested, or interested in a deeper way, than you really are. Flirting is sometimes thought to be cool, but the fact is, it's lying, and it can really hurt people. Remember truth and trust, and don't flirt."

Inward Singing

What happens if you're losing the cultural war? What if the media and the people in power don't support your ideals, and even actively try to squash them? What if they go out of their way to bury those who say things they don't agree with? What if the only voices heard on the radio or on the television are mouthpieces of the establishment?

Do you fight even harder than before, or do you pack up and go somewhere where your art can flourish? Is it better to fight and lose, or to go into exile and let your voice be heard?

Whatever you think of his sense of humor, I think it would be a bad thing if Howard Stern is pulled off the air. Stern said he thinks it will happen next week. It might be bullshit, and it might be his way of getting some attention to prevent that very thing from happening--but if Michael Powell and the FCC are allowed to silence him, I don't think it bodes well for the rest of us.

Dead Zone

Found via DPH.

I travel a lot and one of my favorite destination lead through poisoned with radiation, so called Chernobyl "dead zone" It is 130kms from my home. Why favourite? because one can ride there for hours and not meet any single car and not to see any single soul.



Friday, March 05, 2004

San Valentino and the Melancholy Kid

I just caught San Valentino & The Melancholy Kid at The House. It's written by Nathan Allen and directed by Dennis Watkins, with music by the Trick Hearts. It's pretty much everything it's supposed to be--it's got cowboys (who, I swear, are the next pirates--and if this isn't proof, I don't know what is), a live rockabilly band (fronted by Nathan Allen, the Melancholy Kid himself {which, in case you didn't know, means sad--but a special kind}, who reminds me of Grant-lee Philips), special effects, interesting facial hair, a really good violinist, and bicycles playing horses.

I can't tell you how big a fan I am of The House. Their last show was Death and Harry Houdini, written and directed by Nathan Allen. Dennis Watkins played Harry and performed many of his tricks on stage during the show. The Melancholy Kid featured knife juggling, a man snapping a cigarette in half with a whip (as it dangled from the Kid's mouth), an Indian attack and plenty of musical interludes.

Stephen Taylor stands out as Ollie, the King of the Quick Draw, who sold his soul to the Devil for a gun that can't miss, and the making of beef stroganoff at the hands of Cubby is something to behold. The play itself is comedic, mythic, and tragic. It's also part one of the Valentine Tragedy, which is set to continue next year.

San Valentino and the Melancholy Kid wraps up on Saturday; The House's next show is The Rocket Man, written by Phillip C. Klapperich (inspired by the works of Ray Bradbury) and directed by Nathan Allen.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Why Frank Is Awesome

Frank writes all of his friend's phone numbers in a copy of Naked Lunch.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

God bless you, Sticks of Chick

I found a convenience store downtown near school that sells Chick-O-Sticks. So I'm sitting at home working, drinking Red Bull and eating the best candy known to man. The only thing that could make this night perfect would be the DEAN cardboard cutout. Get on the case, Meredith. The DEAN campaign probably has a warehouse full of them.

I like the newscaster's hair

Juan Navarro is posting some of his work in his livejournal. Go look.

Flim-flam

Yesterday was a happy, happy news day. First!


Mars may once have been a wet place where life could flourish, according to NASA scientists who say a robot rover has found evidence that rocks on the Red Planet "were once soaked with liquid water."

And!

DEAN SMASH VERMONT PRIMARY!

Plus:



Honest to god, the only thing I want for my birthday is one of these cut-outs.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

24 Hours In A Year

So, I thought of a project. I've been working on it for three weeks or so. I have a futurephone that I use to take pictures, and for this project I'm taking one picture every day for a year. At the beginning of the project I took a picture at midnight; every 15 and a quarter days I'm moving the time ahead one hour. I'm not super specific about it, so long as I get the picture taken sometime within that hour.

The picture is whatever I happen to be around at that time. We're in the one-to-two in the morning block right now, so it's often pictures of me working or watching West Wing reruns on television, but it will be interesting to see how the pictures evolve over the course of 366 days. If anyone is interested in watching it progress, the pictures are at 24HrsInAYear. I'll post the link in the sidebar, too. And if my math is faulty, let me know. Numbers are hard.