Fearful Symmetries

Witness a machine turn coffee into pointless ramblings...

25 October, 2003

Thank the Gods

Thank the gods I am done dogsitting. OK, I did agree to a little overnight stint on November 4th but, after that, I am retired. I've been doing it for 1.33 years now and I'm just plain tired of it. Sure, not every single minute has been horrible but, overall, it drove me nuts and I need what little sanity I have left.

Miss Rosie stopped by Wednesday evening after a bad day of work to call together a brief meeting of Drunken Dogsitters, Ltd. It turned into a 6-hour binge which left an empty 1.75 liter bourbon bottle in its wake.

The evening proceeded in the now-standard way: Rosie arrives and gives me the lowdown on her day of work with particular attention paid to the trials and tribulations she encounters with her boss. As the truth serum flowed, she gave me the usual compliments about how much she likes my eyes and her obligatory incredulity that I am single. Following this was more tales of her abusive husband and the circumstances surrounding her divorce. Jerry's infidelities and his drunken bouts of verbal abuse which have left scars on Rosie's soul that supplement the ones on her chest. People give me shit all the time but I can't imagine having a spouse brow beat me with the ruthless candor that he slung at Rosie. A breast cancer survivor of some 10 years, she's one of the strongest people I've ever known. In addition, she is kind and fun-loving and I'm proud to be able to call her a friend. My heart sinks when she tells me these stories. She's free of Jerry but she's also incredibly lonely. Rosie is very affectionate, very touchy-feely and her now ex-husband refused to touch her the last few years of their marriage. Can it be any wonder that she wants to seek therapy because of her inability to undress in front of a man with the light on?

How do I console her? I patiently listen and offer sympathy but these things seem pretty meaningless - to me, at least. All she wants is what every human being desires - nay, needs - the simple consolation of human touch. It must be a bit forboding to be in your 50s and facing a life of intimate solitude.

I do my best to be a good listener and a good friend but it's hard to convincingly wear a mask of optimism when I am in a similar boat. Rosie is seeking a companion with whom to live out the rest of her life whereas I'm just looking for partner in crime. Now that I've moved into my 30s and several of my friends have become parents, the more I realize that I don't want that kind of life - I don't want it because I don't deserve it. I'm not looking for someone to traipse the primrose path but someone to simply take the back roads with me for a while.

I found a couple potential travel companions these past few months but neither were keen on my offer. So once I get me a new job, I am off on my own again.
|| Palmer, 12:29 PM || link || (0) comments |
Encomium for Jay Farrar

The older I get, the harder it is to surprise me. The windswept waves of CNN deliver man's inhumanity towards man everyday in nice, discreet 30-second bundles. Hearing news of the exploits of genocidal maniacs has become old hat. Still, there are things that surprise me and Jay Farrar's music is one of them.

During my last stint of dogsitting, I threw in his Terroir Blues and became entranced with "Out on the Road". Sparse acoustic guitar and flute create a fragile hand that cradles his ragged voice intoning loneliness and weary despair. He sings "You're gonna to find pain" and the flute flutters past your ears like a butterfly as it offers just a hint of a palliative.

It's something he does so incredibly well. Several of his songs are studies in melancholy but they all have hints of hope. "Tear-Stained Eye" is one of my favorite songs of all time. There's just something about how he sings "Sainte Genevieve can hold back the water/But saints don't bother with a tear stained eye" that sends a shiver down my spine. I get a certain sense of knowing exactly what he means, of knowing exactly how he feels without really knowing him at all. A town may be able to keep itself from being flooded by the Mississippi, but lonely people's hearts are always flooded by the River of Constant Change. Still, he offers hope:

If learning is living, and the truth is a state of mind
You'll find it's better at the end of the line

And that's what I keep wondering. When is the end of this line gonna come? When will it get better?
|| Palmer, 11:48 AM || link || (0) comments |
We Know You Know

For those of you not herpetologically inclined, an introduction: Reptile Palace Orchestra hail from Madison, Wisconsin and have been infecting listeners with Balkan lounge funk for roughly a decade. The Reptiles return after a four-year recording absence to follow up 1999's Iguana Iguana with We Know You Know, their third album for Omnium. It continues their tradition of blending Balkan folk music, rock, humor, weirdness, and whatever else comes to their minds.

A good example of this tradition is "Apo Laouto". The melody hails from Crete but the performance is all RPO. Layers of sound are piled on top of a plaintive rhythm. Some sitar guitar courtesy of Biff Blumfumgagnge dances around Timm Gould's clarinet as well as cello. As the songs slowly meanders along, we get a dash of flute and even didgeridoo making for a hypnotizing song.

The album begins, however, with Anna Purnell's sultry voice cuing Robert Schoville's manic drumming on the opening "Kochari". Although Assyrian in origin, there's plenty of sax and droning guitar to go along with the butt-shaking rhythm. The Reptiles can also make you dance using more conventional means. A cover of the Ides of March's "Vehicle" really moves with Purnell belting out the lyrics while new member Ed Feeny justifies the addition of a bassist to the band.

The rest of the album is equally varied. Purnell and cellist Seth Blair wrote the vaguely country-inflected "What Do You See?". Imagine Ozric Tentacles doing "Far Away Eyes" by the Rolling Stones and you have an idea of what it sounds like. Blair's cello takes over for steel guitar while a cosmic fiddle solo is thrown in for good measure. "Bert's Mandotation" is a beautiful, shimmering bit of mandolin written by Blumfumgagnge in tribute to his dying father while "Uranus Sirtez" finds the band in klezmer territory.

On Iguana Iguana the band covered Brian Eno's "Sombre Reptiles" so it is not too surprising that they've included a few minimalist tidbits of their own on We Know You Know. Interspersed among the songs are bite-sized bits of weirdness. Samples of former drummer Siggi Baldursson pounding on the skins are looped while guitarist Bill Feeny and Blumfumgagnge add swirls of feedback and violin. "Earth Lee Julie", a tribute to the actresses who played Catwoman on the old Batman TV series, has a bit of humor with some samples from the show.

"Tune for Ibn Khaldun Part 2" closes the album in Arabic fashion though it begins in a humorous one. A toy cash register begins chiming in parody of Pink Floyd's "Money" before the didgeridoo returns and then percussion. As the song progresses, everything but the kitchen sink is thrown in including pennywhistle and some Archie Shepp-like sax bursts. With its melange of instruments and rhythms, the song resembles a rave at a Middle Eastern abattoir.

As a bonus, there are 14 mp3s on the CD. "Devil Went Down to Georgia" is transplanted to Plovdiv and there a couple selections from the band's previous Omnium recordings. The bulk of the material, however, is live which is the best way to hear the band. You too can dance as Purnell slithers onstage playing trumpet in a gypsy cocek and Biff culls unearthly noises from his homemade therolin donning a fez all the while.
|| Palmer, 11:14 AM || link || (0) comments |

15 October, 2003

Canine Flatulence

Honestly, I never thought that a dog's farts could be so fucking rancid but Buddy has proven me wrong. The Nazis could have saved on their Zyklon B bills by hooking his ass up to a pipe. I suspect that, being 12 or 13, he needs senior canine citizen food and I highly doubt that the shit I feed him is of that ilk. Last night I made the mistake of letting him sleep in the bedroom instead of his normal spot in the utility room and the fucker just let - em rip until the place stank to high hell.

I had to zip home this morning to grab a couple things that I'd forgotten in my pre-partum haste yesterday. While I could have done without the book, my toiletries kit was on the necessary side. So now I can brush my teeth, slap on some deodorant, and, in general, be fresh and clean. While I was at home, I checked my e-, snail, and voice mail. Email consisted of a lot of spam, a plea for computer help from a friend who is in Plano, TX for a while, and a request for clarification from one of my editors. I deleted, replied, and repeated as necessary. The postman had brought news that my retirement fund earned me $111 last quarter. And I had a couple messages from headhunters. One of them has eluded contact so far this morning while the other basically said that I was not a match for the position that I had applied for. So I'm back to square one. I also did a spot of job searching on the Net and applied for a (very) temporary gig installing PCs. The job market is tight, I tells ya.

I returned to the hounds only to find them in rather frisky moods. Perhaps this is what I get in return for the rather quiet day yesterday. Buddy has been pacing and whining and yelping - I don't know what his problem could be. He's got water, has been fed, and has been outside. I gave both of the hounds a chew thingy and Buddy gobbled it up inside of five minutes. Right now, though, I am in no mood to diagnose canine mental disorders. So far this morning, I've been rejected for a job, not had sex, been reminded that my car needs work, not had sex, and not had sex. That optimistic little flame of hope inside me has been extinguished and I have to wait for re-ignition.

Until then, I am stuck out here. To be sure, it's really pretty out here in the country. I enjoy the scenery and the quiet that peeks through when the dogs aren't yapping. But this also means that I am helpless. The Pollack has no land line so normally I would be sans phone. Luckily I have my business cell phone here. Another thing: I can't get onto the Internet so I don't have access to job sites nor my resume/cover letter. And I just plain don't know anyone around here. Besides, most people are at work. I miss being around people. Hey, if being alone out in the country is your gig, that's fine. It's just that I'm not a misanthrope. I need to be around and interacting with people. At home, I could at least fake it by chatting with someone or futzing around a forum. Thanks the gods that Rosie is stopping by tonight. I might go insane otherwise.

I'm beginning to regret having brought that fucking porno with me. Yeah, it did help provide some inspiration yesterday but I have watched bits and pieces of it today and it's done nothing but make me all frisky with nowhere to go.

I have an idea for a little essay that I'd like to write but my head is too cloudy right now to really do anything remotely interesting. Right now I'm going to do some reading as I feel too lost for words.
|| Palmer, 1:07 PM || link || (0) comments |

14 October, 2003

Cognitive Dissonance Reduction?

I've been writing on paper a lot lately. Now, I've gained the use of Stevie's 'puter to do email and post here. It also gives me access to his sizeable collection of porn. he he

Right now I have a video called "Au Pair Teenies" playing. It is a German production and thusly has a built-in element of humor to it in addition to a plethora of Teutonic beauties. I can't help it but I just find it kind of amusing to hear people on the verge of the Big O moaning, "Ja! Ja!"

"Ja, baybee! Rite him for der Fahtterlahnt!!"

And considering it is German, it's pretty tame. No scat at all. There's this one blonde woman with cornbraid hoolies that looked very attractive and very familiar. It took me a minute but I finally realized that she looked like Jessica Corbin. It's actually refreshing to see a porno vid with women that don't have implants.

Oh, this one is just rich. Two women having fun on the beach. But instead of the usual thumping electronic music, there's classical. Some piece of chamber music - Mozart, maybe?

I have to fucking dogsit again this week. And next. Fucking Christ. Well, tomorrow, Miss Rosie is gonna stop by and keep me company. I'll cook dinner and we'll have a few cocktails. Still no word on any of the jobs I applied for in the past week other than a couple "We have received your resume..." kinda things.

Rosie's housewarming party is this Saturday and then on Sunday I am gonna go visit Pam in the morning and then off to my aunt's place in Chicago for the afternoon. I hope to see Geno that evening too. Otherwise I'll go see Bubba Ho-Tep.

OK. I gotta get ready to head out...
|| Palmer, 10:52 AM || link || (0) comments |

06 October, 2003

Change of Venue

Today I come to you all from Mother Fool's Coffee House. Not really a new venue as I've been here many times but it has been a long time. It's smack dab in the middle of Madison's hippie community. The clientele tends to be a mix of students and neighborhood folk. The place has a lot of character which is one reason I really like it here. The walls are painted in not-so very subtle colors and it's adorned with vintage (i.e. Goodwill) furniture. Everything about the place just says "different". I just love the ortgeist of this joint. My lone gripe is that all of the bakery goods are vegan-friendly. I suppose that this isn't a bad thing in-and-of-itself but take the scone I'm eating, for example. It doesn't taste bad but the flavor isn't rich, it has little depth. The blueberry and the lemon flavors are distinct and tasty. The dough tastes OK but the marriage of the flavors wasn't consummated.

I have written Gene a letter this morning and must remember to mail it this afternoon. In it, I tried to blend some positive words to address his situation with a update on mine that wasn't overly depressing. I have a sneaking suspicion that I failed but I don't think that it'll exacerbate his predicament.

There is one sure-fire way to gauge what's going on inside my cranium and that's by the music I listen to. I have Anekdoten's first album in my car. How to describe their music? Take the loud dissonance of Lark's Tongue in Aspic-era King Crimson and add a bit of the melodic sense of Genesis around the same time and you have Anekdoten.

Yesterday was almost all Porcupine Tree. I went to Toad Hill in the afternoon and listened to my new PT bootleg from 2000. Last night I decided to do some writing and, at first, I played some Fish that featured Steve Wilson of PT. Then I decided that I wanted the real that and was gonna put on Lightbulb Sun but instead opted for Signify. I hadn't heard it in a while and enjoyed the songs from it on the bootleg so I thought I'd give it a go. "Idiot Prayer" is a favorite but I reacquainted myself with "Sever".

The best way I can think of to describe The Tree is that they're what Pink Floyd would sound like if they cared to sound modern. In Absentia, their latest, took a turn towards the heavy with lots of loud, distorted guitar work but there were still plenty of spacey bits and Steve Wilson's voice remained mired in melancholy.

I'd hate to think that all I've been nothing more than a wayfarer to despair lately so I'm struggling to remember any other music that I've been listening to lately. Well, I did spin the first disc of that Other Ones show I got last week. Christ, am I really that despondent? I don't really feel that way but maybe I really am and just don't know it. Is this what being in two minds is about - some kind of perverse ambivalence?

Ya know, I just thought of something. This is where I met Briana for the first time and she lives in the neighborhood. So here's a question: how would I feel if she stopped in? I suppose I'd be in two minds about this too. Half of my brain would start schemingways to win her back while the other half would wish to half a world away. It's noon and I'm sure she's on campus somewhere so I think I'm safe.

My mind feels blank right now. It was bursting with things to write about right up until I started writing.

I had an email exchange with Pam last week in which we tried to find a time for me to visit her in Milwaukee. She suggested a particular weekend but it was one for which I had plans. There was Rosie's housewarming party and Auntie M's soiree. Pam's replay was something akin to: "You're sure popular. So, why no girlfriend again? You must be not be able to find an intelligent woman."

Please believe me, I wish that I could stop thinking about women so much but, hey, genes are selfish. They are bound and determined to replicate so I gawk at pretty girls and I become preoccupied with wooing them into the bonds of marriage and having kids and the like.
|| Palmer, 12:14 PM || link || (0) comments |

05 October, 2003

Thinking Around Corners

It is quite fortuitous that I have this here laptop at my disposal because my desktop has taken a digger. At this point, I have bought a new stick of RAM to no avail; I put the hard drive on the other IDE channel - nothin'; I swapped out the hard drive; I put in a new IDE cable; I got rid of all expansion cards excepting the video card; I changed video cards - from an AGP to a PCI card; I've disabled USB and RAID controllers; thinking that perhaps a driver was to blame, I installed Win9x instead of an NT-based OS but got nowhere; I got a "CMOS Checksum Error" after having put in a new battery. How the fuck could the CMOS get corrupted? Did I beat the odds and buy a faulty battery?

I thought it was the RAM for sure. Windows would die and the system wouldn't restart correctly. Shit, I figured that the RAM just wasn't discharging fully cuz it's fucked. I'm down to the CPU, the power supply, or the mobo. I highly doubt that the power supply is shot. The usual symptom of a bad power supply is that your PC won't even turn on. Mine powers up like a champ. The CPU is also unlikely as it is utilized starting right after the POST so you'd think that, if it were bad, it'd kill booting - any and everything. DOS seems to run fine though I did have a format hang on me. I rebooted and it worked after giving it another go.

It has to be the mobo. What the hell else could screw up the CMOS? But seriously, the mobo going bad? Sure anything is possible but how the fuck would that happen? Power surge? You'd think that it would have really toasted the board and not just made it all goofy. If a spike had come in via the network, then the NIC would have been toasted too but it's fine. A boot sector virus? No, can't be because I swapped drives. I wonder if, since the problems started small and grew, if there's just a short somewhere. Like a piece of dust closing a switch somewhere. I blew it out a couple weeks ago but there could be something on the backside of the mobo. You know, I found a couple sheets of paper in there when I was cleaning it. Maybe I should take the whole fucking thing apart and reassemble it. Remove any dust behind it. The parts are old but not that old - only three years. The parts were of good quality. Why would an install go smoothly and problems only manifest themselves once Windows is running? Let me amend this. Reinstalls went smoothly at first and then hung until I removed NIC. Then they went OK again. I had no problems with any 9x installs - just NT. The NIC works fine under 9x and NT installs its own driver so it's not like I am throwing a spanner in the works with an unsigned driver.

You know it's a sad day when a computer tech is at a loss for a solution and contributes it to dust build-up. Then again, you didn't see what the mobo looked like when I dusted it. Finding a new socket 370 mobo is gonna be a chore and finding a new (to me, anyway) VP6 is asking a lot from Hercules. Plus I don't wanna spend the money. Dusting is cheaper. Now that I think of it, I do have a vague recollection of feeling that it had taken a turn for the worse after having blown out the case. I did it at The Pollack's as he had a can of compressed air for some reason. And when I got it home, I thought that something had gone wrong. I wondered if something hadn't gotten mucked about during the drive home. A particularly nasty bump or something. Maybe I dislodged a really nasty ball of dust and sent it somewhere where, as I postulated above, it is closing a circuit and causing mayhem. Causing a capacitor to discharge in an untimely manner? I am so desperate not to have shell out anymore money and completely incredulous of the notion that there is actually hardware failure. Dust, it's dust goddammit!!

I stopped in at Toad Hill this afternoon and was most happy to see that The Caffeinatrix had returned after an appendectomy earlier in the week. She wasn't her usual perky self, though. In a bit of pain and just generally on the lethargic end of the scale. Still, I hadn't seen her in a week or more so it was good to have her back. And I got to meet Billie! (Hope I spelled that correctly...)

The Caffeinatrix and I were talking when her beau, Henry, came in. They chatted briefly and then announced to me that Billie was here. Billie is her hound, you see. I had introduced her to Buddy a couple weeks previously and she promised me at that time to let me meet her hound. So I went outside and saw a four-legged figure in the back of her car. I pressed my face up to the rear window and saw her. Billie had big, floppy ears and droppy jowls - cute is a sloppy kinda way. The Caffeinatrix made her way outside and I felt comfortable trying to pet her. She was very friendly. I put my nose up to the crack in the window and Billy attacked it with her tongue and licked it without mercy. he he

But The Caffeinatrix needed to go home and was intent on bringing Billie with her. So I told her, "It's good to have you back - take care" and bid them both adieu.

My new Porcupine Tree bootleg is now playing. It's from 2000 so I figured that it wouldn't have any songs post-Stupid Dream on it but I find that I was pleasantly mistaken. First I heard "Shesmovedon" and figured, well, OK, one or two new songs. But there was more. Fuck, "Russia on Ice" is on here! I cranked up the really loud bit and had my now customary flashbacks to the PT show last fall. What a fucking great song.

Marv had to bust outta town for some reason so we didn't game today. My playing time last weekend was abbreviated due to housesitting duties so I was quite disappointed to not be able to assume the role of Severus Jones today. Yes, my cleric is named Severus Jones. And yes the forename was horked from Harry Potter. I figured "Jones" was good and generic so I thought it would be a nice contrast.

Anyway, I've decided to hang out here for a while this afternoon. Truth be told, the place closes in about 15 minutes so I am either going to have to find a coffee joint that is open longer or just head home. On the one hand I feel a bit goofy and anxious, ergo, like going out and doing something. On the other, I really need to not spend money. Well, I've got several minutes yet before a final decision is necessary.
|| Palmer, 6:34 PM || link || (0) comments |

04 October, 2003

Held My Baby Last Night

Trying to give a description of the confluence of all the things of import in one's life is a tremendously difficult task. I have just attempted such a task in a letter to a friend and I cannot help feel that I failed miserably. Nothing is really adequate, I suppose, but some things are more adequate than others.

I awoke this morning to find that a very pleasant autumn day was upon me. The sky was clear and the rays of the refulgent orb had blasted away the night's chill. I had a bit of insomnia yesterday and I took corrective measures involving pancakes and chocolate syrup at about 10:30. This combined with a chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring did the trick.

In a rare moment, I remembered part of a dream that I had last night. The past year or so I've had very little oneiric recollection. It's like I know that I had dreamt something but can't remember what happened in it. The bit from last night involved me titty-fucking a woman. I have this feeling that she was black and that she was a prostitute, but don't quote me on that. Embarrassingly enough, I also seem to recollect that it didn't take me long to come either. A Freudian's delight. If anyone out there has a predilection for dream interpretation, I will add that I don't think that I watched my semen splatter on her face. I dunno - could be significant. Could be meaningless.

Shaking off the early-morning prurience, I got up and went downstairs. As the elixir of morning brewed, I turned on the television to catch Zatoichi. IFC (Independent Film Channel) must be giving the Ichi series a break because Samurai Rebellion was playing. I suspect that something is up as last night was Akira Kurosawa night - Yojimbo and Seven Samurai. It was a good flick despite a dearth of fighting. The plot involved the attempted repatriation of a scorned women by her father. In place of killin' was lots of dialogue about family, honor, and shame. It's hard to imagine many American filmmakers cogitating upon such themes (or any American equivalents) on celluloid for two hours.

After a while, Pete made his way downstairs with Stevie not far behind him. Three pots of coffee later, I felt motivated enough to shower and run some errands. While a shower is a relatively simple endeavor that would seem to be free of any grand metaphors, this morning's seemed somehow different.

Returning to the Freudian thing, there's the water. Ensuring that it was hot, I just let the streams fall upon my head and down my body as a warm mist enshrouded me. It just felt hyper-refreshing for whatever reason. It was that kind of feeling normally reserved for showers involving onanism but I was restrained this morning.

For a guy who has not even the slightest hint of fashion sense, I spent nearly a minute trying to decide what to wear. There were two considerations: 1) I wanted to wear something that would get food all over it as I am going to be doing a bunch of cooking this afternoon and 2) how geeky I wanted to look. The patchwork result is earth tones around my colorful Periodic Table of the Elements t-shirt. Once my poor excuse for haberdashery was finished, I was out the door and on the way to the credit union where only bad news awaited me.

As it turned out, my venture there went better than expected. My fiscal situation wasn't as bad as I had led myself to believe and the teller was inordinately friendly. After this, I went back home to gather a couple things that needed mailing. I also had to snag someone's snail mail address from an email. In one of my inboxes I discovered an email from an "Elizabeth". Hm. I don't have any friends named Elizabeth. I didn't recall having done anything to elicit the ire of an Elizabeth. I figured it was a piece of spam that had gotten by Yahoo's filters but I read it anyway.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was from a woman with whom I had a brief correspondence months ago. At that time, I thought her to be an interesting person and was disappointed that I she stopped emailing me. Hell, maybe it was me - I don't recall exactly. Whatever had happened, it was just nice to have received a "Hello, how are you?" from her. Perhaps "nice" is too diminutive a word because it really cheered me up. A small, seemingly insignificant thing such as an email from a stranger really had amazing effects. I wrote a fairly brief reply to her as I had to get going and run a couple errands before landing here to do some writing. I hope that she doesn't take offense at my brevity and sends me some more poetry.

I grabbed the stuff and a few CDs and zipped out the door.

I went to the post office to mail a couple CDs and an article about Uma Thurman from Time. The CDs were of a Genesis concert - April 10th, 1976, I believe. I owed it to a guy in California as part of a weed. The article was for my Pam, a friend from high school who lives in Milwaukee. I've had the hots for Uma Thurman for ages - probably since the early 90s - and Pam is my only friend that finds her attractive. Yes, Pam is female. She just seems to have some homoerotic desires, I guess. Her husband, Bill, has granted her permission to violate their marital vows with Uma (and only Uma) should the occasion arise. While I can't speak for Pam, I can only say that I'm not really sure why I find Uma to be so attractive. Terry Gilliam obviously saw something when he made her Venus in The Adventures of Baron von Munchhausen. She has the face of a supermodel and of your average woman at the same time. And the supermodel element doesn't have even a hint of dumb blonde to it. (For reasons that I suspect are anaclitic, I have a penchant for brunettes.) All I know is that Uma is awesome. Nothing more need be said.

The post office was pretty empty and I got the really cheery, funny guy. He has this avuncular look to him which has always made him stand out in my head. It isn't so much that he really looks avuncular, honestly, as much as that he looks like an uncle of mine. The wavy black hair, the nose - he looks Italian like my uncle does. Anyway, he is a really friendly guy always with a smile. You can tell he's an extrovert just by looking at him. He's the only person there that wears suspenders. I joked around with him a bit and he gave me my change as he said, "Keep that smile on your face." I did my best to heed his words and came here.

In addition to the pulchritudinous clerks, my motivation for coming here was to escape helping Pete prep dinner and to write. I just felt the need to write. I have been wanting to write a few people letters since I read some of Ronald Reagan's in Time that were excerpted from a newly printed collection. This and I have been putting off starting a new blog for far too long by half. When the urge swells, you gotta do something about it. I'm not saying that The Muse is here - it's more like she sent me a postcard.

So I threw on some music and wrote Rachel. During my stop at home, I knew that I had wanted to bring some tunes but wasn't really sure what I wanted to listen to. I looked at the stacks of CDs in my room and then it came to me - some blues. I had watched the first episode of the PBS series on the blues and wanted to have some of that healing music for myself. So I cranked up Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers' eponymous album and took up my pen.

The result was not an in-depth examination of my psyche like it really should have been but it was honest. Confiding in Rachel is a bit like taking a prescription drug - most of the time it is salutary but it can trigger the occasional adverse effect, namely that I should drive to Ohio to see her. Rachel is under the mistaken impression that I'm this ├╝berdude. She thinks I'm cute and loves that I have some intelligence and can write at above an eighth grade level. I have a streak of Romanticism in me too. What it comes down to is that she is almost 25, lives at home, and has little direction in life. I don't state this as a criticism or to make fun of her but rather to give some hint of an explanation as to why she would be so desirous of someone she's never met. We've emailed each other, talked on the phone, and sent pictures of ourselves. We're cyberfriends. I like her very, very much and enjoy our contact but I don't pretend that there's anything more.

She and I disagree wholeheartedly on relationships. I personally don't feel that it is possible for a human being to really love another if they've never met. Part of love is physical and I don't just mean sex. Being in the company of another human being is so drastically different than talking on the phone or chatting or email that it's not even funny. How can you love someone if you've never held their hand or looked in their eyes? Love is all-consuming. I can't love a woman if I've never even been in the same room to feel how her presence affects me. Our friendship rests on our notions and perceptions of one another. I think that they're very good notions and perceptions but, never having been within less than 100 miles of one another they are still what they are.

I have this dreadful feeling that I've over-simplified everything here. Rachel is an exceedingly complex person and I'm eternally grateful that she's let me into her life, in whatever manner, and has been extremely honest and open with me. Her father died when she was a child, she is overweight, and is, in many ways, ill-suited to live in a very small city as she does. Rachel is very intelligent but needs direction, needs motivation on occasion. I feel as if I am her older brother, not a potential lover. I do care for her and try to do things in my power to help her but pretending that I want to be a long-distance boyfriend is not one of them. It would do more harm than good in the long run.

The music then became Lightnin' Hopkins. I had this hankering to hear "Walkin' Blues" and "Baby Please Don't Go". Those songs have a lot of memories attached to them and it feels like the right time to revisit them.

This afternoon I go to The Pollack's house for Pollack Fest '03. For the past 8 years or so, my friend and I have gotten together at least once a year for this event. I believe it all started one Christmas when we both found ourselves alone. It went so well that we decided to have it on days other than holidays. We cook up a shitload of Polish food while drinking nearly as much bourbon. On average, we roll about 7 dozen pierogi and import some fresh Polish sausage from Milwaukee or Chicago. We then throw whatever comes to mind on the side. A couple years ago, we started having it on weekends when his son, Jason, was around. The Pollack is attempting to instill some family tradition in him. (The Pollack and Jason's mom are divorced. Jason lives with his mother in suburban Milwaukee while The Pollack lives outside of Edgerton. And Edgerton is about 25 miles south of Madison where your humble narrator resides.)

This time around we're gonna do the usual 3 flavas of pierogi (beef, potato and cheese, kruat/sour cream/bacon), fresh sausage, and, for the first time, kolacky for dessert. I have also whipped up a huge batch of cucumber salad and am gonna bring a jar of pickled vegetable salatka.

I'm getting hungry.
|| Palmer, 10:00 PM || link || (0) comments |

01 October, 2003

Look at me, I'm in tatters

Today started in a most inauspicious manner. I can't remember a day starting this poorly in nearly ages. There can be little doubt that it's gonna get worse. I've obviously offended some deity somewhere but have no idea which one. So I can't sacrifice anyone or anything. Maybe there's a generic sacrifice you can make - kinda like putting that puncture filler goop in your flat tire until you can get a new tire. Just a stop-gap measure, ya know?

Upon waking, I wandered downstairs and was reminded of a dire situation: that we have no coffee in the house. The cupboard has two depleted Folgers cans that used to have grounds aplenty but now have mere traces of coffee. How can I start my day correctly without fucking coffee?!? FUCK!!

After putzing about for a little while, I decide to go to where there's lots of coffee - a cafe. So I shave, shower, and head out to my car. I walk up to the door with key in hand only to discover that the little window of the back door has been shattered. There's a little hole maybe 3/16" wide towards the bottom. Did someone fucking shoot it with a pellet gun or something? A stray rock? You'd think I would have noticed it during the day so I figure that it happened either while I was parked at a mall or overnight on the street. Fuck me. Is there a god of cars? What do you sacrifice to such a god? A Yugo?

Well, Jolene's smile was a palliative and things improved further when I actually dumped some luscious black elixir of morning down my throat. Right now, I've had enough to overcome my torpor and am rather perky. I've found that cranking up music helps the cause. I had The Bears' first album on earlier but now have Porcupine Tree blaring. Headphones are nice in that I can damage my eardrums without annoying those around me. Well, not too much.

I spoke with The Pollack earlier. It looks as if I'm gonna have to go to the airport tomorrow to get those files from his laptop. The jagoff couldn't bother to just forward the email containing said files to me in the past couple weeks for reasons unfathomable to any normal person. I had better at least get a free mocha latte out of this. And the fucker didn't bring me back any expensive bourbon from Kentucky. Maybe some bourbon balls await me in Edgerton. Fucking something for the two weeks worth of favors I did for him. I can't imagine how much it would have cost him to kennel Pesto and Mr. Buddy for that time. That bastard owes me and Miss Rosie. Speaking of which, I oughta email her when I get home.

Man, "The Creator Has a Mastertape" is on, I am stoned on caffeine, and I'm having flashbacks to last fall when I saw PT in concert. (What the fuck is Steve Wilson's preoccupation with chloroform?) It's been almost a year since that show - fuck me! How times flies.

Yesterday I drove Marv over to CompUSA so he could price parts for the PC he's going to build. As we were driving down Gorham, he spotted Christopher, his brother, walking. We turned around to go back to see what was up with him. Well, it wasn't really that easy. All of the side streets are torn up along East Johnson so I had to drive down 4 or 5 blocks before I could actually make a turn. Finally we got on track and saw him walking along oblivious to the traffic which was backed-up due to a lane closure. I turned onto Paterson as Marv hailed him.

He was on his way to Marv's house so he took up our offer to cruise over to the west side. I went up the street to traverse the U-shaped pattern of the streets there only to find a whole block torn up. It's some small street that's only a block long and of course it had to be under construction. While I could have just done a Y maneuver and gone back the way we came, I had wanted to drive by the apartment I used to live in with Heather.

I just get into this odd mood every once in a while and decide to take a brief detour to drive by it. Honestly, I'm not sure why. It's been 8 years since I lived there but there's just something about that place. The memories, I guess. It had flashed back to me a couple days ago when I was at Marv's and now I found myself just a block away.

I suppose that if Alain Renais had ever made a science fiction film, it would have been Blade Runner."Memories. You're talking about memories." There's just something about Heather and the time we dated because I never have any desire to cruise down the memory lane that is Cimarron Trail. My brain tells me that I have special feelings for Heather because she was the first love of my life and the first woman with whom I ever shacked up. My heart, however, says something different but what it's saying is so nebulous and incoherent that I have no idea what it is.

I don't think I really get anything out of driving by that house other than some warm fuzzies. But that's what Blade Runner is all about. Memories aren't just rectangular bits of celluloid, they're things that reside within your cranium too. Remember how Leon had to go back to that apartment to retrieve his stash of pictures? It was those symbols, those memories which helped him define himself as human instead of the android that he really was. And it's probably not too far off the mark to say that my driving down Washburn Place every once in a while is equivalent to getting those pictures. Somehow the remembering just does something for me though I'm not quite sure what it is. Maybe a reminder of what to avoid in the future. Or maybe a reminder that no one is really destined to be alone. What once was can be again. Whatever the case, those memories say something to me. Something that I seem to forget over the course of several months and so a reminding mechanism gets triggered in my head and I go for a drive.

It was rather fun and depressing at the same time to wander around and check out all cool toys that I can't afford. I got a chance to play with OS X for the first time - pretty neat. Plus there were some funky-looking games that I'd like to give a spin. When I saw Baldur's Gate, I couldn't help but think that I should give it a try again. I like computers; I like D&D - you'd think it would be a match made in heaven.

After leaving behind all the cool stuff beyond my price range, we headed over to Loredo's and ate dinner. From there, it was off to Pegasus Games. Walking in, we found the place was full. There were tables strewn about with kids everywhere. Obviously they were hosting games this evening. It was rather funny to be surrounded by kids whose age ranged anywhere from 10-16. I started role-playing when I was 10 or 11 so I suppose that I saw a bit of me in them. We spent nearly an hour there pouring over rulebooks and perusing miniatures. Marv was keen on finding figures for everyone in the current campaign as well as some of townsfolk and creatures we'd encounter in our adventures.

In addition to a couple books of supplemental material, one thing that really caught my attention was the Munchkin Monster Manual. It was a parody of the D&D Monster Manual aimed at kids. I thought it was fucking hilarious! The picture of the Snot Elemental was quite humorous and it seemed like every creature had at least 100 hit points. Kobalds had 18, for Christ's sake. There was also this card game involving being a manager, specifically, an IT manager. One of the cards on the box showed a woman sitting in front of a computer with a look of enormous frustration on her face. The action was something about a virus having been unleashed into the network.

By the time we left, it was dark outside. The winter solstice can't come soon enough. I then proceeded to drive Marv home. Not having cruised around downtown much lately, I was unaware of all the goddamn road construction. I'd find one street closed and head down the remaining route only to find that it was a one-way going the wrong way. I mean, it was a real Blair Witch Project affair. I couldn't get onto Johnson from Orchard or whatever street that is so I had to take Old University to Regent. Then I found that I still couldn't get onto Johnson from Park Street. So I go down Langdon and finally bypass the section of Johnson that's torn up. Of course, every side street on East Johnson is being worked on as well.

I suppose I can't really complain too much as these streets really needed to be repaved. The whole fucking Isthmus does.
|| Palmer, 8:30 AM || link || (0) comments |