Witness a machine turn coffee into pointless ramblings...
31 March, 2004
A New Mantra
Scientists are funny. I'm watching a documentary examining the brains of teenagers. A neuroscientist is being interviewed and he has a teenage son. The kid is in an MRI machine having his brain scanned. Once the image of the brain appears on the screen, the father looks at it and remarks, "He's got a normal hippocampus - then how come he forgets to take out the garbage?"
Despite arguing with a moving company rep, I am still stuck here until Saturday. I'm having them hold the stuff for a week so I won't actually have to drive to Chicago until next Saturday. An end is in sight.
I had my first hot meal in what feels like ages. It was crappy fast food because I was desperate and in the part of town that's all malls and crap. I did learn today that late afternoon is the time to be at the coffeehouse. Holy fuck where there hotties there today! Unfortunately, I couldn't stay but tomorrow is another day. Also, Chris, the realtor, said that there's fresh strawberries to be had just down the road apiece.
I know I can do this. Just gotta stay sane for a few more days. If the movers are in and outta here early enough, I think I'll hit the road Saturday evening. Otherwise, I'll just get an early start on Sunday. It's about a 17 or 18 hour drive (rougly 1200 miles)and I don't think I'll be able to do it in one go alone. The longest I've driven in one haul is 15 hours. But I had the old man with me for company. If I can get 500 miles in the first day, I'll be happy.
Strawberries, coffee, and coeds...strawberries, coffee, and coeds - my new mantra!
The Fun Just Never Stops
Well, I finally got some confirmation of something. The movers will be here on Saturday afternoon - over a week later than originally scheduled. Unfucking real. Even if they arrive between 2-4 when I was told they would, that means the latest I can get outta here is Saturday evening. The death certificates and ashes are still who-the-fuck-knows where. It's been 13 days since my father died. Almost 2 bloody weeks and no one can get me paperwork on it.
The fun just never stops.
What a horrid day for news. First I read about more US soldiers being killed and then about 4 Westerners being attacked, their bodies hung from a bridge, and their corpses mutiliated and dragged through the streets. I got this from a South African news site:"As the flames died down men pulled one of the bodies out, laid it on the ground and mutilated it with shovels, hacking off parts and shouting 'long live Islam'."
I mean, I can understand that the people who shot at and launced the RPGs were probably not your average Joe Muslims. They were probably extremists - insurgents. But the mob that dragged the bodies out - it sounds like they were just area residents. I guess that's what Allah wanted. Allah's on one side and God on another - it just sickens me. As Richard Dawkins wrote in the aftermath of 9/11:"To label people as death-deserving enemies because of disagreements about real world politics is bad enough. To do the same for disagreements about a delusional world inhabited by archangels, demons and imaginary friends is ludicrously tragic."
Then I read this dreadful story:"The 19 year-old mother of a 20 month-old baby girl was visiting friends at the Olievenhoutbos informal settlement near Pretoria, when her 30 year-old boyfriend came to pick the baby up.
He later brought the crying baby back to her and left. Paramedics were called when the mother and neighbours discovered the baby's genitals were bleeding. The district surgeon confirmed that the baby had been raped.
The 30-year-old Pretoria man has now been found and arrested and will appear before the Pretoria Regional Court on Tuesday."
What kind of person would do anything sexual with a 20 month-old infant?!? That guy is one diseased, perverted fucker.
Oh, for some good news...
Why?? Part Deux
In my last entry, I decried the casting of Keanu Reeves as Bob Arctor in the film version of Philip K. Dick's novel A Scanner Darkly
. The news was revealed to me via email by Old Man Standiford. In classic film-geek mode, I replied:"*voice of officer in Lawrence of Arabia* OUTRAGEOUS"
This is from the scene when the officer walks into the Turkish hospital and finds the foul conditions there. Later, Dogger replied:"*voice of Vizzini* INCONTHIEVABLE!"
Vizzini, as you may recall, is the rogue from The Princess Bride
Ahhh, the joys of being a geek...
30 March, 2004
From the Sci-Fi Channel website:Keanu Reeves will star in A Scanner Darkly, based on a Philip K. Dick novel, for Warner Independent Pictures, Variety reported. Richard Linklater (School of Rock) is in talks to direct, the trade paper reported. George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh's Section 8 will produce.
A Scanner Darkly will employ the same technology Linklater used in Waking Life: It will be shot live-action, then animated, the trade paper reported.
The story takes place in the future, where undercover agents change their faces along with their identities. Reeves plays one such officer, and his liberal ingestion of the drug Substance D causes him to develop a split personality, the trade paper reported.
Christ! Why would anyone take a perfectly good PKD story and add that slush-pumping buttnuggett Keanu Reeves?!? Well, you can't blame Linklater as he's not even attached to the project yet. I blame Clooney and Soderbergh. Well, we'll see...
Look What ARAPANET Became
Checking out the news, I see that Dubya is in my home state today - up in Appleton. I wonder if Tommy came with him. (Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson, is our former governor.)
And there's the big hubbub about Condy Rice testifying. Outside of her actions regarding 9/11, I have to say that I think it's great that there's a black woman in the Cabinet. There was, perhaps, a bit of "tokenness" to her appointment but, still, I think it's wonderful. Women have been fucked over in this country for far too long by half and black women doubly so. I hope to be alive when a woman is elected President but I think a black woman being elected won't happen until I'm long gone, unfortunately.
I found a newsgroup that has mp3s of various people's testimonies before the 9/11 Commission. There really is some wonderful, enriching, as well as important stuff to be found on the Net. Sometime you just have to know where to look. Thinking about this made me laugh as it seems that history has repeated itself.
When radio came along, many people had this utopian vision that it could be used for the common good. High culture like opera could be available to everyone who had a radio. Educational programs could be broadcast and lisened to by those unable to afford formal schooling. But these ideas went down the shitter in favor of Lux Theater and so on. (Not to say that there weren't some great programs like Hear It Now.) Then TV comes along and these same ideas return. But it too became a vaste wasteland. PBS was created here in the States in an attempt to stave off vulgarity. Nowadays, it has to beg for funding and is seemingly always under attack from some group in Congress that wants to cut its funding or privatize it. Then, in the late 70s, the promise of cable TV appeared. More utopian bleatings. Benjamin Barber even wrote a book espousing the technology as a way to achieve a true democracy. But, after the lessons of radio and broadcast TV, did anyone really believe that cable would be any different?
Then in the 90s, the Internet became a phenomenon. Again, utopian rhetoric flourished. While there are definite differences between radio & television on the one hand, and the Net on the other, it still seems like the latter has fallen prey to commercialization. But it may be too early to tell what will happen in the long run. The Internet is decentralized and anyone with a connection and an ISP can present themselves to the world. Unfortunately, it seems like the Net is more known as a haven of pornography, shopping, and music theft more than anything resembling a decentralized forum for average Janes and Joes. Instead of getting our news from CNN on the TV, we go to their web page. Instead of going down to the convenience store to pick up the latest issue of Hustler, we just find porn on the Net. It's like the medium has changed but the content remains the same.
But there are the equivalents of C-SPAN, NPR, and PBS on the Internet. (Apologies to all you non-Americans out there.) Access to smaller publications whose views are outside of the mainstream media is now available to those that never had it previously. A wealth of classic literature is available for free at the Project Gutenberg web site. The Internet also serves as encyclopedia and dictionary. Hell, nearly a whole reference library. Governments from all levels have a presence on the Net and, in my opinion, it is easier to navigate their web sites than their phone systems. Instead of having to call and request a form be mailed to you, one can just download it. Many people can avoid the long lines and waits at the DMV by using the Internet. Geneological research has become easier as well. And, right now I'm downloading Richard Clarke's testimony he gave to the 9/11 Commission to help me understand what the hell is going on with my government. The one of, by, and for the people. And let's not forget email and chatting - keeping in touch with friends and family is easier.
Of course, there's the dark side. That is, illegal stuff. Music can be downloaded as well as movies, books, etc. Don't wanna pay $25 for the new Dan Brown novel? Don't worry - it'll be downloadable for free shortly after its publication. Do you like just one song on the new Evanescence album and don't feel like paying $15 for it? It can be had (and probably even before the album is released.) One flipside to all the porn that is readily available is that erotica is also easily obtainable. As is Viagra. And so too is absinthe. Just about everything is out there waiting for you - if you know where to look.
There's just so much of it. Sure, there are tons and tons of crappy blogs but there are some interesting and insightful ones as well. You can download an audiobook of a Danille Steele novel easily enough but you can also snag mp3s of public lectures given by physicist Richard Feynman. You can watch a stream of celebrities showing up at an awards ceremony but you can also watch independent movies and documentaries. Of course, you wouldn't want to make a life out of this. You should still see movies on the big screen as they were meant to be seen. And nothing beats connecting with people face-to-face. Still, there's a lot out there to help enrich your life. But, in the end, that's still something you have to do.
Rich Are the Rooms And the Comforts There
Last night I got to speak on the phone a bit. First a friend of my father's, Ray, called. I had called him over a week ago but got his answering machine. Though I felt like a dunce, I left a message for him - it just seemed hyper-impersonal. He and his wife had been vacationing in Florida and had just returned home to South Dakota. We chatted for a bit and he, like the rest of my dad's old friends said something like, "I haven't seen you since you were a boy." He asked about my brother and mother as well as giving an explanation of who he was. My dad had been his boss for a while and Ray said he was a great manager - no bullshit. Yep, that was my pa. After we hung up, the tears welled in my eyes and I started crying. I don't know what it is, but speaking with my father's old friends alwasys does it to me. Maybe it's because they are the ones who usually reminisce about days gone by the most.
And then Tryone, my business partner, called. He needed the company checkbook which is sitting in my bedroom at home. So I told him that I'd make sure someone was home this afternoon and that they know he's coming. He told me that he had made his first appearance for the company on TV. Aside from being a bit nervous, it went well. He demonstrated a digital camera and photo printer. For some dumb reason only known to the producer, they wouldn't provide some AC so he could actually print a picture. And they want to continue with the gadget angle. Must be the hip thing to do. That station wants nothing more than hipness - they don't give a shit about actually informing anyone about anything. Maybe we'll start getting calls from people needing help with their iPods and the like.
Afterwards, I called Stevie and let him know about Tyrone's visit. The weather sounds nice at home and most of the trim has been hung. He even got the raised panels done in the downstairs bathroom. Taking a hank will now take on an aesthetic pleasure as well as a biological one.
One thing I am really looking forward to is a nice, homecooked meal. For the past week, my diet has consisted of sandwiches. However, I did buy some pico de gallo which was very tasty as they had put just the right amount of jalapenos in it. When I get home, I am making a huge hoolie of sausage jambalaya. I suppose I can reconnect the stove and empty the coffee can and use it for a pot. A warm meal is going to be so tasty when I have one again. And my bed! Oh fuck, I can't wait to sleep on a matress again. One of mankind's best inventions! If I get home by Friday morning, I can get a kick in the shin from Miss Vickie too!
Well, since the dispatcher hasn't called me back, I presume the moving company hasn't contacted her. The funeral home hasn't called either. Well, it really looks like I'll be here for a while yet...
Oh praise be to Allah!! I got the coffeemaker working again!! Please, please let this be the first of many good things today...
*Smeagol voice* precious coffee...
Oh how I love coffee - let me count the ways. Luscious elixir of morning, giver of life. I don't need evil women when I have you in my life.
I am impressed with the new line-up of Metallica. Robert Trujillo is a worthy addition on bass. I have listened to some Infectious Grooves before and he was in a video for that acoustic/bluegrass band. (The video is pretty amusing in that the band walks into a music store, picks up some instruments and starts playing. So you got these totally white bread-looking people on mandolin, fiddle, and guitar while Trujillo is Native American, I think, and decked out with tattoos everywhere playing the upright bass. The song is really good but I don't know if he actually plays on the album or not.) Anyway, the contrast of their voices and singing styles really adds some energy to their performances. His demonic laughter is really creepy on "Sad But True". And "Creeping Death" here is just great! Ride the Lightning
is my favorite album of theirs but I've been wanting to hear a couple songs from ...And Justice For All
. Heavy metal just sounds so good now. I was never a huge metal fan but lived with a guy for a while who was so I enjoy a smattering of it. Metllica, some Megadeth, Sepultura, et al
. (Did you know that Les Claypool of Primus auditioned for Metallica after original bassist Cliff Burton died?)
29 March, 2004
THE COFFEE MAKER BROKE!! I am going to kill my old man. Wait...nevermind.
It won't take in any water. I am prepared to take the bloody thing apart if need be. This could be the straw that breaks the camel's back.
Still no movers. I am downloading the Star Wars radio drama from 1981. I also found another audiobook newsgroup that has Will Durant's Story of Civilization
I just got an email from Miss Vickie. Things seem to be going well with her. Can't wait to see her again and get my shin kicked.
What Is It With Rock Stars?
First there was that assnugget in Madison, now there's this from the AP:VILNIUS, Lithuania - A Lithuanian court found French rock star Bertrand Cantat guilty on Monday of manslaughter for the beating death of his movie-star girlfriend and sentenced him to eight years in prison in a case that has horrified many in France.
Cantat's lawyer, Olivier Metzner, said he would appeal the verdict, calling it "absolutely excessive."
The multimillionaire singer, held in the Czarist-era Lukiskes Prison since his arrest eight months ago, told judges he slapped Trintignant four times in a drunken stupor — contradicting prosecutors who said he fatally punched her at least 19 times in a jealous rage.
"Everything happened very fast," he said during the trial. "Never, never did I want things to happen that way. This hand should never have risen. And I do not accept myself having raised this hand."
An ambulance was called to the hotel at around 7:30 a.m., by which time Trintignant had already been in a coma for two hours. While still in a coma and on life support, she was flown by private jet days later to France — where she died Aug. 1.
Alright, now maybe the English translations are off-kilter here or something. I interpret his statements as admissions of guilt. "Well, I just meant to beat the living shit out of her, not actually kill her, Your Honor." The woman was in a coma for 2 fucking hours before an ambulance was called! And, in typical lawyer fashion, 8 years in jail for taking someone's life is "excessive". His brutality towards his girlfriend was apparently just the right amount for that shitknocker. How the fuck can a lawyer call the sentence excessive when your client admits to beating someone which eventually causes her death? It's too fucking lenient, if you ask me.
This kind of shit gets in my craw. Not only do rich people get off easier than they should, but it makes all men look like a bunch of savage barbarians. I've seen the look of women who feared that I was going to rape them. It happened to me a few times in college. That look on their faces was chilling. And it made me feel horrible because I never had any such intentions. Sure, I wanted to get laid, but I wasn't going to force them into anything. But guys like Howie Day and this buttnugget put the fear of God into women. Men need to rally in these cases and string guys like that up by their balls.
Some Ideas Are Totally Fugazi"Santa Monica-based Mantra has produced 104 saucy videos of exuberant college girls who gladly flash the cameras for "Girls Gone Wild" t-shirts and other trinkets. It is also developing a feature film at MGM, a restaurant chain and an apparel line."
So what exactly happens at a Girls Gone Wild restaurant? The waitresses flash their tits at you? I kinda like the sounds of that. The feature film sounds retarded, however.
A Letter From JeffreyHi P,
How are you?
Are you going to be in Lousiana for awhile yet??
How far from New Orleans are you??
I went to the gogo bars this weekend and met a pretty girl that I am obsessing over. Then I met a girl at the hostel that was very opinionated and thought that girls enjoyed porno as much as men and would be just as promiscuous if given the chance. She also said that Hostels are notorious fuck dens.
I asked her to stay overnight with me and she said I was being too forward!! Explain this to me!!
Hurry back. With no moral compass in the vicinity i find myself in a moral wilderness.
Things are going to pieces while I'm down here. I'm neglected my duties as Jeffrey's moral compass. Home beckons.
Theoretically, the movers will be here soonish. So, if that goes well, it all boils down to me getting the death certificates. After Friday's fuck-up, I wouldn't be surprised if they aren't ready til Friday.
Our Governor Blogs!
From the same source:Want to know what Gov. Jim Doyle is up to in China? Read his blog.
He left Wisconsin last week for trade mission to China, along with dozens of Wisconsin businesspeople who are reportedly paying for the trip.
On Wedneday, Doyle spent the day in the highly populated city of Shanghai.
"I have never seen so much housing in such a small area," Doyle wrote. "As we drove around, we saw apartment high-rise after high-rise. They were enormous. In about a quarter mile, I think I saw enough housing for the entire population of Milwaukee. And no wonder -- with a population of more than 20 million, the city of Shanghai alone has almost four times as many people as the entire state of Wisconsin."
The blog includes video and audio clips, including an audio clip from Tuesday when the Doyle had a conference call with reporters in Wisconsin.
Doyle said he decided to keep a blog for this trip for schoolchildren to learn more about China.
Next, Doyle will be visiting Nanjing and then Hong Kong before he returns March 31. His office says this is the largest trade delegation in Wisconsin history and the second largest state trade delegation ever to visit China. Last year, Wisconsin's exports to China increased by more than 50 percent and included everything from Wisconsin ginseng to manufactured goods to high-tech medical supplies.
Doyle said Wisconsin had barely begun to tap China's full potential and that could provide high-paying jobs here.
I Can Taste Home
From the website of a Madison TV station:MADISON, Wis. -- Next to Nevada and New Hampshire, Wisconsin consumes more beer per person than the rest of the country. Last year, state producers rolled out more than 8.5 million barrels of beer -- an increase of 7.6 percent or 500,000 barrels.
Surprisingly, nationwide beer production dropped 1.4 percent, but beer connoisseurs say Wisconsin's success is no surprise. They believe many people would choose a local brew over a national chain.
"It's just the creativity and the originality that goes into it, the thought process versus something that's just a chain," said Billie Ruden of Muscatine, Iowa. Billie and her husband, Andrew, are spending their honeymoon visiting local breweries in Wisconsin.
"Wisconsin makes the best beer around," said Jim Campbell, a bartender at Baumgartner Cheese Store and Tavern. "They have great tasting beer, not just at the Huber Brewery, but New Glarus, City Brewery, they make great beer."
Gary Olson, a plant manager at the Joseph Huber Brewing Company, agrees and says the state's reputation helped boost its own brew.
"Because of contracts, we have increased our production significantly last year and expect bigger gains this year," said Olson.
Three days a week, the Huber plant cranks out more than 1,000 barrels or about 347,000 glasses of beer. Olson says production increased from about 48,000 barrels in 2002 to nearly 80,000 barrels last year.
"Even a year ago, we brewed one day a week so three times a week is quite an increase," said Olson.
Based on current trends, Olson figures Huber brewing will produce about 140,000 barrels this year. He says specialty brews, such as Huber's Summer Solstice Wit, will help keep local breweries busy and fuel production.
Monday morning and it don't look fine. And I've got travelin on my mind. (Sorry Mr. Buckingham.) It's raining and good. I've got "Equinox" by John Coltrane playing. The moving company opens in about 2 and a half hours. Hopefully the death certificates will be moving from the funeral home to the coroner around the same time. While I'm hoping against hope that this is the home stretch, I also have this sinking feeling that I'm going to be here for a few more days yet. It really sucks being at the mercy of beauracracies.
28 March, 2004
Lloyd Could Have Said This
Young people are too busy trying to figure out what they want to be to figure out who they are.
Night Has Fallen
I ran a couple quick errands and now I'm downloading the BBC radio drama of Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy. It should make for some amusing listening. I went on a big Asimov kick about 10 years ago and read all of the Foundation books consecutively. After finishing, I vowed to never read his fiction again. He is soooo white bread. But I never said a word about dramatic interpretation of his work for radio. Right now, I really wish I had my collection of Doctor Who audio dramas with me. (As if they are any less dorkier...)
I bought some decent coffee and am enjoying a pot right now as I try to plan tomorrow. I need to call the moving company. I also must find a service that will mow the lawn occasionally until the place is sold. Joe might come over tomorrow to get an entertainment center and, hopefully, bring word that he's found someone to buy the dryer. And hell, maybe I'll get lucky and get those darn death certificates. Places will be open for business and I can at least feel like I'm making progress even if my phone calls are for naught.
News From Home
From the Associated Press:MADISON, Wis. - Singer Howie Day was arrested for apparently locking a woman in a bathroom and breaking another woman's cell phone after one of the women allegedly refused his sexual advances.
Day, 23, who opened for the band Barenaked Ladies at a concert Wednesday, was charged Friday with misdemeanor counts of criminal damage to property and disorderly conduct in connection with the post-concert incident on his tour bus.
Day was released from jail after posting $850 bail Thursday. He is scheduled for a court appearance on April 1.
According to a criminal complaint, Day allegedly locked a woman in a bathroom on the tour bus after she refused his sexual advance. He then broke the cell phone of another woman trying to call police.
"That was probably wrong of me," Day told police of breaking the phone. "But I felt violated."
The singer-songwriter has received critical acclaim with his 2003 album "Stop All the World Now."He
felt violated?!? What kind of fucked-up, stupid-ass comment is that? Nevermind the woman locked in the bathroom because she won't put out for a dickhead like you.
Like A Kid In A Candy Store
Downloading right now is a version of "Gold Dust Woman" by Stevie Nicks from Austin, TX in 1989. This group also has an REM show from 1987 that I wanna snag too. Ah, the joy of bootlegs. Does anyone here like Heather Nova?
I got an email from my cousin Guy who is on the USS John C. Stennis somewhere in the Pacific. In it, he gave me the Cliff Notes version of what's happening in his life. He offered to let me crash at his place in Minneapolis and also sent a photo from the Stennis.
This version of "Gold Dust Woman" is too 80s for my taste. So I'm going to try a 1994 performance of it instead. Still, her voice sounds great here. I've always like Stevie Nicks. Her witchy persona, the flowing dresses - I always imagine that she's got several cats as her familiars at home. And her voice has this commanding presence to it that I really love.Did she make you cry
Make you break down
Shatter your illusions of love
Is it over now - do you know how
Pickup the pieces and go home.
This REM show from 1987 is really good from the one song I've downloaded so far - "Disturbance at the Heron House". Ooh! "Begin the Begin" is part of the set. Cool!
I just finished reading an interview with Terry Jones of Monty Python fame. In it, he talked about a new TV show of his called "Terry Jones' Medieval Lives" that he's making with the BBC. Having seen that mini-series he did about The Crusades from several years back, I was pleased to read that he is continuing his exploration of the time period as it is also a favorite of mine. Unfortunately, it started airing last month so it probably won't make it to these shores for a while yet. Here's an excerpt from the interview:So the aim of the show and why I wanted to make it was really to get away from the stereotypes about the Middle Ages. Also to get away from the misconceptions that surround the Middle Ages. Of course, it isn't really a period at all it's just sort of an emotional group of centuries. But to get away from the idea that this was all darkness in England and then the Renaissance comes along and everything is light and the modern world begins. That’s total fiction. A lot of the superstition in England is actually Renaissance not Medieval. For example, the idea of witchcraft and then the burning of witches, which people would say, “Oh, Medieval” is not Medieval at all! That's totally Renaissance. In the Middle Ages people didn't really believe in witchcraft. Before then the authorities and people didn't take it seriously. But then in 1484, when you're really into the Renaissance by then, the Pope suddenly declares that witchcraft was a real thing and really sort of announced open season on women. It was all part of the deterioration in the condition of women that happened after the 14th century from the 15th century onward until the 20th century. In the Middle Ages women had rights and had individuality. By the 14th century, women were sort of getting quite a lot of equality in terms of actually what they could do, in terms of jobs, in terms of how they were regarded in society. This was all kind of turned back with the Reformation and the Renaissance and women were de-sexualized as part of the way for men to keep them under control.
One of the curious things we came across was that in the images of St. George and the Dragon in the 15th century the dragon begins to acquire female genitalia, which is really quite weird, you know what I mean? The woman, Samantha Richards, who has been doing research on it, thinks that it's all to do with the men demonizing female sexuality. So St. George comes and delivers the damsel from the demon of her sexuality. I mean, we see this happening until the 19th century, when women are regarded as not having any sexuality. If a woman shows an interest in sex she's led off to be put off into a lunacy asylum. The Victorian concept of women was totally desexualized. That would have been very kind of surprising to anybody in the Middle Ages. One of the nice things we come up with in the Damsel is that if a woman felt that her man was under performing, wasn't any good in bed. She was quite at liberty to go public about it and we have various legal cases, in which a jury of 12 maidens, or 12 trusted women were gathered to look at a certain man's member to see whether he gets an erection or not. There was one man whose wife complained that his member was underperforming, so he was examined by 12 good women. One of them got rather carried away and according to the legal record, exposed her naked breasts to William, and with her hands warmed from the fire rubbed his part, still he couldn't get an erection. Whereby everybody sort of cursed him and told him he was no good. Terrible way to enter history, really.
Thank Aphrodite that the last bit is no longer being practiced! Ahem...Can you imagine if it were? Holy fuck, if the sales of Viagra are anything to go on, women probably wouldn't have any time for anything else excepting have to judge men's members. Makes me wonder how Victorians could have ever thought women to be asexual. It's pretty obvious that frauleins are more sexual than men. Remember what Tiresias said? If some of my female friends are right, there's a lot of bang-bang-squirt and then falling asleep going on out there on the part of men.
I Gotta Get Outta Dodge
Ye gods - I cannot wait to get home! Ya know, if this shit keeps up, I'm going to miss the first day or two of the Wisconsin Film Festival.
De Mortuis Nil Nisi Bonum
I've been trying to construct an entry in my head about my father but nothing seems right. Would I write an encomium or a philippic? I don't know. It feels like I've come to terms with his death but I have not yet...integrated it into my being. Seeing those pictures he took of himself last week, my brain doesn't use the past tense, it still uses the present. As if I could call him up and give him shit for looking like a goofball.
I remember when my father's father died - I was about 12 at the time. For me, it wasn't a big deal as I'd never met the guy nor even seen a picture of him. My dad hated his father, Calvin, so, after my mom's dad passed when I was 5, the concept of a grandfather was pretty foreign to me. The only contact I ever had with Calvin was a card containing money at Xmas. My never spoke of him in front of me and he was very matter-of-fact about his death. I recall no mourning of any kind - it was just another cold, heartless fact without a context. And, from what I recall, he was the same way when his mother died. Just this stoic indifference. On the drive down here, I was hoping to find things relating to my grandparents. Just something - anything - about them. I found 1 or 2 pictures with my grandmother but absolutely nothing concerning my grandfather. My dad gave me a picture of him a couple years ago and it hangs on my bedroom wall at home. But I guess that was it. Two pictures of an aunt but none of his father.
It irritates me a bit. I mean, my uncle probably has some, but I'm the curious type and my selfish side feels like my father let his hatred overcome any sense of letting his children in on their past, their heritage. When I talk to Gene, my uncle, again, I'll have to ask him some questions.
If I ever find a woman crazy enough to bear my children, what can I tell them and give them to understand their father's heritage? Kelly wanted that meat grinder because it was her grandmother's and her family would make Swedish sausage when everyone was together. I can understand her wanting it. It's a symbol of something. She used it, she watched her family use it - it makes sense to me. But, never having had much contact with most of my grandparents, there are no objects like that which have meaning to me in that way. Nothing shared that would give a sense of connection.
Well, dealing with my kids is a bridge I'll have to cross if/when I come to it. At the moment, I really just wanna get back home and be with friends. I can unpack too and put some of my newly-acquired things in my room to provoke memories, to give a hint at where I came from.
Like That Mike Bloomfield Quote
If your life was a movie...
1) What song would be playing in the opening credits?
"Also Sprach Zarathustra" - Strauss
2) Hot sex Scene?
"Catwoman" - Reptile Palace Orchestra
2A) Goofy Sex Scene?
"La Gazza Ladra" - Rossini
3) Driving Scene that mostly consists of flashbacks and lost love?
"Lavender" - Marillion
4) Hissy Fit Scene?
"I Know What Boys Like" -The Waitresses
5) Unjustified Violence Scene?
"Sparks" (Live) - The Who
6) Leaving Family and/or Loved Ones Behind On a Journey Scene?
"We Said Hello, Goodbye" - Phil Collins
7) Restless Sleep/Eerie Dreams Scene?
"Requiem for Soprano, Mezzo Soprano, Two Mixed Choirs & Orchestra" - Ligeti
8) Quiet Romantic Cuddling Scene?
"Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats" - Genesis
9) Random Melodramatic Realization Scene?
The music from Monty Python's Spanish Inquisition sketch.
10) Car Chase Scene?
"Murder For the Money" - Morphine
11) Death Of A Loved One Scene?
"Down There By the Train" - Johnny Cash
12) Unnecessary Big-Budget Square-Dancing Scene?
"Hoedown" - Emerson, Lake and Palmer (Copeland)
13) The Me-Kicking-The-Crap-Out-Of-People-I-Don't-Like Scene?
"B'Boom" - King Crimson
14) Closing Credits?
"Windfall" - Son Volt
Will Nur Kon-TaktAnd if your luck is in
You might have kids at play
To make you laugh and sing
When you're old and grey
Gotta love Pete Townshend.
Right now I'm downloading a live version of "James and the Cold Gun" by Kate Bush. I have been thinking about various neo-pagan folk I've known. Several years ago I did some pre-production work for a documentary on neo-paganism - I even shot a small amount of footage which is somewhere in my basement. It was a pleasure to talk with all of them. When I was going around looking for people who would agree to be interviewed on camera, I approached a group called the Reformed Congregation of the Goddess. Knowing nothing about it, I called them one day and met with a woman who was the head of the organization. I found my interlocutur to be cold and fairly suspicious and, at the time, I didn't understand why. I mean, I knew that pagans had to be on the look out for zealous Xtians who think they are Satan worshipers but the people whom I had spoken with previously were very pleasant. I would go on to learn that the RCotG was an all-woman group. So I had the double-whammy against me of being an outsider and having a penis. But I guess I passed muster and was labeled "harmless" so my request for interviewees was passed onto members.
When I get home, I think I shall start getting into photography more. I mean, I have a decent camera. But what to shoot? A portrait of the city? The baristas of Madison? How about a calendar featuring all the hottie baristas of Madison? Yeah, I like that one.
I really shouldn't be playing Ozric Tentacles this early. "The Throbbe" is one of my favorite songs but it's disturbing my train of thought. Damn psychedelic music! Speaking of music, I got an email from my editor with the next round of albums that I'll be reviewing:
Magnolia Sisters - Chers Amis
Magnolia Sisters - Prends Courage
Cowboy Junkies - In the Time Before Llamas
Zar - Tusind Tankar
Annie Grace - Take Me Out Drinking Tonight
Ukranians - Istoriya
Hotpoint String Band - Hotpoint Special
So that oughta keep me stocked with new music for a while, at least. The CDs will probably be waiting for me when I get home. Also, I'm sure that the bootlegs I was in the middle of downloading when I left will be finished. One was a Warren Zevon show from 1988 courtesy of the BBC. I've heard the version of "Detox Mansion" from this boot and it's rockin' like Dokken!! My car's suspension will be really happy once all of those tools are outta my trunk as will Stevie since I'm giving them to him. I've got some pictures to give to my stepsister, Kelly. She told me last week that her grandmother's meat grinder was here but, after talking with her aunt, Sara, I found that Kelly's uncle has it. I really don't wanna get involved in a mess with Kelly wanting this thing or that thing that my dad had of Joni's. When Joni died, Kelly and 2 of my stepbrothers raided my dad's house and took tons of their mother's stuff. It's like, you had the chance to take what you wanted then and over the succeeding 3 years so please don't start bitching at me about wanting stuff.
Lo! I downloaded a Slapp Happy song called "The Office". SH are a progressive rock band from the RIO (Rock In Opposition) school. Very liberal politics and very much influenced by avant garde classical music. This song has operatic vocals and the music is only cello and violins. It's weird to hear a woman singing in an operatic voice about modern beauracracy. A cool song, nonetheless. Next up is a cover of the Genesis song "The Day the Light Went Out" by a pagan band called Legend. They have a female singer and it's cool to hear a woman singing it instead of Phil Collins as she has a silky smooth voice. And now some more Peter Gabriel.Fass ans Kinn, streich mein Haar, putz die Nase, drueck mein Knie
Mach's mit Suff, Stoff, Nikotin - verlier die Spannung nie
Schnipp die Finger, press die Arme, atme tief, Beine quer
Zuck die Schultern, halt mich oben: Alles keinen Zweck
27 March, 2004
One Down, ? To Go
Listening to this Y'Alternative Internet radio station is now becoming a tease. I find that I really want to listen to some Whiskeytown. Everyone once in a while it plays a song of theirs and, more frequently, some Ryan Adams but I wanna hear Strangers Almanac
I was toying with this camera but I can't get it to focus when the wide-angle lense is mounted. D'oh! I finally shaved today with one of these egregiously cheap disposable razors. It did a crappy job on my jawline and tore apart my poor, sensitive neck. My cheeks, however, are nice'n'smooth. I find this odd considering I've been using cheap little bar soap - the kind you find in hotels. (My dad had boxes of the stuff.) I took a picture of myself freshly shorn and wearing my t-shirt with Edvard Munch's The Cry
on it. My hair is appalling in it so I can't post it. hehe Seriously, though, since I haven't had my hair out this long in several years yet I am still applying the same attitude I had when it was a quarter inch long - wash'n'go. Again, considering I'm washing my hair with bar soap, it's surprisingly soft. And I'm getting readjusted to having to brush it out of my eyes again.
I sold the refrigerator today and now my paltry stash of food is sitting in a cooler. But it's one of those funky ones that plugs into a wall outlet or a car's cigarette lighter.
Oooh! Here's some Whiskeytown!
And now some Neko Case!!
I think I'm going to download some mp3s from Usenet. It humors me how the RIAA goes after 13 year-old girls for using Kazaa yet there's copyrighted stuff in newsgroups galore as well as on the Undernet. And not just music, but movies as well. I downloaded The Matrix Reloaded
, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
, 28 Days
, et al. Plus I found a guy who had that short-lived X-Files spinoff, The Lone Gunmen. And there's lots of software too. Need a copy of AutoCAD 2004 like Stevie did? Rather than pay a couple thousand dollars for it, he just downloaded it. The djinn is out of the bottle and corporate America had better get used to it.
I have snagged a Pete Townshend tune and 1 by Ian Anderson. As I type, a live Ozric Tentacles song is downloading.
I am thinking about a lot of things. I should try to finish my essay on Jethro Tull soon. Having traded a couple notes with a reader as well as looked at some of her photos, I am anxious to take some snaps with my new camera. And I'm also thinking about neo-paganism and how an ex-girlfriend never returned my copy of Drawing Down the Moon
- beotch! I'm also thinking about the dark-haired woman so beautiful behind the register at the grocery store. She's no college co-ed and she has some wonderful curves...
Last For Now
While I have no comment on this woman's identity, I will say that the 80s mullet and that ultra-maxi thin tie are classic! It never fails to bring a smile to my face.
Another Picture of Home
This is a nice shot of Lake Mendota and the Memorial Union Terrace on campus. You can go sit out there and drink suds while soaking in the sights of Lake Mendota or watching a band on weekends. It's also nice if you are out boating as you can make port if need be or just ogle the coeds.
Pictures of Home
I guess I'm posting these more for myself than anyone but some of you might find them amusing.
This one is of the Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison. I am looking forward to wandering around the rose garden again soon.
This photo shows the construction of the Overture Center set to open in September. A philanthropist gave the city $100 million to build an arts center and make an arts district downtown. I'm looking forward to its completion and seeing what events it hosts.
26 March, 2004
A Meal Fit For Jehovah
That was my dinner. And I just have to tell you - holy f*ck was it great!! Ever since I learned of my father's death, I haven't really been hungry. I've eaten once a day with at least 12 hours between meals. I didn't feel hungry yet I scarfed it down. Fantastic!
After he gave me the package, I sat it down on the table and turned to get a fork when I realized that there wasn't a utensil in the house except a pocketknife. So I started out with my hands and stripped a bone of its meat and voila! - instant utensil!
The meat was smoked to perfection. It was falling off the bone and, once it got into my mouth, it melted. At first, the flavors seemed simple - not that that's a bad thing - but I let it sit on my palette and I began to taste all the subtlties. The way the smoky flavor of the meat mixed with the sauce which had a nice tang to it. (I love vinegar!) How the hint of chili powder in the sauce was balanced by the tomato flavor. The potato salad was good too. It was of a style I've only had once or twice previously - like mashed potatoes with large chunks. They had added just the right amount of lemon juice to it - you could taste the sourness but only just. Baked beans and a couple slices of white bread rounded it out. The beans were good but nothing special. Two 16oz cans of Natural Light topped it off. I haven't drank that since Pete and I vacationed south of here about 2 years ago. Although it's a cheap, crappy beer, it was cold and really hit the spot.
It was a meal fit for Jehovah.
New Music At Last
I've been listening to some prog Internet radio stations buy they play too much progressive metal for my taste. So I went in search of something different. I found an alt.country station but it wouldn't play. So I updated Windows Media Player and DirectX and it's now crankin' like a charm. First some Son Volt and now Emmylou Harris. She has such a beautiful voice. So tender, so delicate.
Did You Get Your Precious Pictures?
Poking around my dad's computer, I found a cache of photos. Checking out the camera, I found that the memory card had a few pictures on it. The last 3 were taken a couple days before he died and just after he had the rest of his teeth pulled so he's got that goofy, toothless redneck look going on. I transferred the photos to the computer and now I feel like Deckard in Blade Runner
with the Esper machine examing them. I was thinking of posting one but it just doesn't feel right at this point. So I took a few of my own.
Here's my to-do list for today.
This has been my bed for the past 3 nights and will be for the next few:
Finally, here's my mug. I can't remember the last time my hair was this long. Must be going on 5 years now. Despite having Photoshop CS, I still can't make my nose look smaller.
Every Garbage Bin...
...has a lining.
By mid-morning, I had had enough coffee and was motivated enough to clean. So I pulled the vaccum cleaner out of the closet, attached the rug attachment hoolie, and set out. It took me a little while before I noticed that it wasn't doing squat. Turning it over, I found that the agitator wasn't turning. Belt was intact and the shaft was spinning but it wasn't catching. Fan-bloody-tastic. So I grabbed the next best attachment and vacuumed two of the bedrooms. Done. Setting out to mop the floor, I opened a new thingy of disposable mop pads and gave it a go. No dice. They kept rubbing off. So I look at the directions and find that there are little slits in which to tuck the pad. I do so and try again. Although it took longer, it still slipped off. And so I found myself on my hands and knees scrubbing the floor. When that was done, I took a little coffee break and vacuumed the living room. It was shortly after this that I felt my frist bit of anger towards my father as part of my grieving process. It was triggered when I was scouring his bathtub. The thing was filthy! Having been alone for a couple days, I have started talking to myself and, as I scrubbed, some weird words were uttered from my lips. Something like: "Dad, I hope your keeping your bathroom down there in hell clean cuz I don't wanna have to scrub it." A moment later, I find a hair on the side of the tub and I immediately start thinking Jurassic Dave - I could save the hair and clone a new father. The technology is coming along nicely and we should be able to do so soon. (I dunno if that little bit of skin from the follicle was on it or not.) After my little Crichton-esque episode, I vacuumed a bit more and laid down for a short stretch.
Soon enough, it was time for me to shower as I had a two o'clock appointment with the lawyer. As I was combing my hair, I noticed that I really needed to shave as my face is getting scruffy. I also noticed that I had forgotten my razor. So I stopped and bought some cheapo disposables with which I shall cut up my face later. Also, I stopped at the coffeehouse and got me an iced mocha since it was 82F outside. There was one hottie there - a woman in her mid-to-late 30s but she was preparing to leave when I arrived.
My visit to the lawyer merely involved droping off some paperwork and asking a couple simple questions so I thought it would take 15 minutes, tops. It wasn't until around 4 that I left. However, I was correct in that the actual time we talked business lasted about 15 minutes while the other hour and 45 was spent chatting.
I think we started off with the Civil War. He claimed to have 400 books on the topic and proudly proclaimed that history was his avocation. He talked about various battles and described Antietam meticulously. Exactly which direction how many soldiers came, from what battleground they had marched, etc. The guy knew his Civil War. And I loved how he bandied about the term "Yankee". The Confederacy was comprised of "Southerners" while the Union was made up of "Yankees". At one point, he described how he recently got a new PC and bought a Civil War game. During one battle, his Confederate troops routed Union soldiers and the game announced something like, "The Confederacy has won. The North is brokering a peace deal." He told me that, when he heard the computer spout these sentences, it warmed his heart right up. He next talked about various Southern generals and the Confederate victory at Chacellorsville. I steered the conversation towards Sherman to remind him of what happened to Atlanta and that we Yanks won the war. He conceded this and told me of a particular brigade composed mostly of men from Wisconsin. Since they were a bunch of rednecks who actaully knew how to shoot a gun, the Southerners hated them. (I couldn't help but think of my roommate Pete, a redneck at heart, all decked out in blue.) We then talked about Islam and its relation to the West, various books on why the West is the dominant force in the world today. He referenced Guns, Germs, and Steel
while I told him about The Wealth and Poverty of Nations
. From there, it was a free-for-all. The Vikings, the Celts, the various ethnic groups in his home state of Missouri, the segregation here in Natchitoches, the influence of Roman Empire, Scotland's role in the Industrial Revolution, Latin, et al
. I had a blast. It had been several days since I'd had so much intellectual stimulation. My brother and I have such conversations but we were too busy with the house when he was here. And I think he was pleasantly surprised to find a Yankee kid who knew some history. I could see the surprise on his face when I started naming some lesser-known Civil War battles like Chickamauga Creek. I told him that I had several years of Latin in school and we listed off as many Roman emperors as we could and talked about Julius Caesar as I mentioned that I had read his Gallic Wars in the original language.
His son, daughter-in-law, and grandson then came in and we were all introduced. They didn't stay long but long enough for me to eye-up the duaghter-in-law. She was a gorgeous brunette! (I thought of you, Ms. Happy Life, as she was married to a lawyer. Dunno if he's a heavy drinker or not.) After they left, the conversation about food continued. we both raked on English cuisine with its penchant for organ meats as well as the novelty of bratwurst down here. He gave me directions to a pecan plantation about 20 miles from here where I can get more culinary souvenirs. (The odds of me being able to actually save any chocolate-covered pecans over the course of a 17 hour drive over 2 days are not good, lemme tell ya.) Finally, he talked about his youth including wartime rationing and the various things you could get by sending in cereal box tops. As our conversation wound down, my cell rang but I let it ring through as he was in the middle of telling me about his family getting their first TV.
I left feeling happy to have had such wonderful conversation but also a bit sad as my dad would have loved to shoot the bull with this guy. (My dad reckoned himself an amateur historian.)
Once outside, I looked and found that whoever had called did not leave voice mail. So I just called the number back. I was thrilled to see it was the funeral home. I was highly unthrilled when I found out that someone has mistyped the entry in the field for my dad's highest level of education as this would require this person to retype them and resubmit them to the coroner. He would not get them until Monday and I probably won't get them until Tuesday. So I'm stuck here until Tuesday or Wednesday. While I am desperate to get home, see my friends, and sleep in my own bed (well, any bed at this point), my irritation wore off quickly, though, as I figured there was nothing I could do about it. My father is dead and four more days here is, in the larger scheme of things, not a big deal. So I resigned myself to a few more nights of sleeping on the floor and to try and check out the sights. I do, after all, have a new camera and there are some nice antebellum homes around here. I laughed that bit of bad luck off and drove back to the house.
Shortly after I arrived, there was a knock at the door. Opening it revealed Joe. He was here to get the rest of the stuff from the garage. I have noticed that when he comes to the door, he knocks and then goes back down the stairs to stand on the sidewalk. Must be a Southern thing - not to be right in someone's face as they open their door. Anyway, I helped him load his truck and then we chatted for a bit. I asked him about a good place to get crawfish as well as barbeque. Freddy's Cafe, he assured me, serves the best BBQ I will ever eat. But he warned me that it's in a black neighborhood. (Joe is black.) I jokingly asked if I would get my ass kicked for being white or for being a Yankee. At the end, he said he would bring me some food later tonight and took my order. He then asked what I wanted to drink: "A coke? Beer?"
"Do you want something to drink?" he asked. "A Coke or a beer...?"
Mmmm...beer. My ears pricked up after hearing that magical word. Some barley pop would really hit the spot. And so he left me looking forward to his catering expedition. I'll have me some ribs, potato salad, and bread with a beer which I hope shall be ice cold. If not, I shall make it so (number one).
And that's where I stand. Oh, I also stopped at the coffeehouse on the way back to get some joe and find out their hours. So, the plan is to spend some time there reading as well as going out to the pecan plantation and to see some old homes. I do have a new funkadelic camera so I will try to get it knocked in. Anyone here like the movie Steel Magnolias
? It was shot here and I go by "The Steel Magnolia" house when I drive downtown so maybe I'll take some snaps of it. Natchitoches is a pretty town - I just wish I were here under more pleasant circumstances. However much I wish I weren't here alone, I will make do as best I can.
The End May Be Nigh
Once again, I awoke at 4:30 this morning. After making coffee, I then drafted a to-do list for the day. It filled up quickly but has since been whittled down to just 2 things and both have left me waiting for people to call me back.
I called the funeral home but they still haven't received the ashes nor have the death certificates been, um, certified. And the moving company has still not called. So I did laundry and did some more cleaning. And Peanut is supposed to stop by soon to snag the freezer and the rest of the tools in the garage. I then need to go drop off some stuff at the lawyer's office and ask him a couple questions. I also drew up a list of things to make sure are done when I'm ready to leave like cancelling utilities, turning off the pump for the sewage treatment unit, and taking the license plaste off of the truck. I've gone over everything 8 million times and made lists. Other than cleaning, there's nothing for me to do at this point. Anything that requires me to go to town will be down in a while so I can do everything at once. I even called the IRS. Holy shit, what an ordeal!! I got lost in their labyrinthine automated phone hoolie. And, if you go to the wrong spot, you're not given the ability to retrace your steps to the previous menu. So I had to call back a couple times.
I don't know that I've ever been so anxious for a phone call.
25 March, 2004
Today was not the most productive day here in Louisiana. I felt very lazy and so I didn't do any cleaning. I did, however, forge my brother's signature on the moving contract and faxed it back to the company. I also managed to earn $150 by pawning off a TV and the chest freezer. This is also nice as it means that I'll have less to haul back to Madison from Chicago. Joe's son is going to come back tomorrow morning to snag the freezer and the rest of the tools in the garage.
I received a few emails today from friends and family which helped cheer me up. My cousin Sue sent me a nice note and The Pollack's message was quite humorous. We are planning on getting together next week to drink some Basil Hayden. Unexpectedly, I received an email from The Caffeinatrix:Hey Palmer,
Just wanted to drop you a note and let you know I'm thinking of you. I hope the details of the estate are quickly resolved and that you're finding the support you need. Crossword puzzles taunt me daily, I have no astrological direction and I'm surrounded by "Heart Healthy" (a.k.a. no cardiac specials) "Karen Carpenter" customers! Help! Attached are a few pics to give you at least a momentary smile. One is Jimmy Downtown before he knew there was a downtown, one is my impressive (not) 80's mullet and one is me with my rocker duuuuuude friends when I worked at the record store. Hang in there and know upon your return there'll be a piping hot cup of coffee, fine chocolates and good friends awaiting you.
Do you remember how Aristotle defined happiness? It wasn't a sunny disposition and laughter. He wouldn't necessarily look at one of those perpetually cheerful folks who always sees the bright side in every situation and label them happy. No, for Aristotle, felicity was about contemplation and about having meaningful conversation. So, I guess in the Aristotelean I am happy. I contemplate everything and am extraordinarily lucky to have people in my life with whom I can have sincere, passionate conversations. While I am lacking in conversation at the moment, that will change when I get home. So I am left with contemplation. For the past hour or so, I've been watching interviews with psychologists, physicists, computer scientists, and the like. Absolutely fascinating! The interview which really caught my attention was with a psychologist who talked about affective forecasting which is how we predict future emotional states. He talked about how we tend to overestimate the duration of our reactions, about how we have built-in psychological immune systems which help us mentally recover from potent events in our lives. It got me thinking about my dad.
He died a little over 3 years after Joni. Did he ever really
recover after that trauma? Well, he wasn't putting a gun in his mouth anymore. I think he was drinking less. His house was slowly coming together. So, yeah, there were definitely signs that he had turned the corner. But, to me, he had very prominent pessimistic and morbid aspects to him. Hell, maybe it's me that's the pessimist. But I didn't really see life in him, if that makes sense. In a way, he died of a broken heart. (He may have even literally.) While he had found a new home, he didn't find a life. Even though he could drive again, he never went anywhere for pleasure - always for utilitarian reasons like the grocery store or the lumber yard. To me it seemed like he just continued being the misanthrope I'd always known. He never tried to go out and involve himself in the community to meet people. When describing people here, it always seemed like he was talking about test subjects or animals in a zoo. They were clearly kept at an arm's distance. And, while he certainly had some health problems, he was only 66 yet he talked as if he was 90. He was old only in the sense that he thought himself to be old, he made himself feel old. For instance, he always complained about how bad his eyes were. He said he couldn't read anymore because they were so bad. This saddened me as he used to be a voracious reader. So I sent him some books on tape. Asking him what he thought of them, I'd get a "I haven't listened to it yet" each and every time. Then he'd proceed to tell me how he had seen an author speak on BookTV and gone out and bought the guy's book. After he'd read it, he would tell me how much he enjoyed it. On top of all this, he had vision insurance which would cover an examination and a pair of glasses per year at no expense to him. Yet he never seemed to take advantage of this.
Despite the pleas of my uncles to move to Florida, my dad chose to move to Natchitoches, LA. I have been asked why by friends and family but I've never told any of them my theory - I just said I didn't have any clue. Maybe someday I'll tell someone but, for now, it just seems like a kind of betrayal of my father. If he never told anyone else what he told me, I want some more time to pass before I reveal anything.
He moved south to be free of snow. But he moved here, in my opinion, because it was close to Leesville. (About 50 miles from here, I'd say.) Shortly after Joni died, I was with my dad while he was in a drunken, teary-eyed stupor. He was like that for some time after her death and was constantly reminiscing. During these times, I learned a lot about him that I didn't know as well as about others including his father, about whom he had never spoken to me. On this particular occasion, he said that he'd loved 3 women in his life and all of their names began with J. He then proceeded to tell me about how he had met my mother, Joyce, about how he fell in love with Joni, and about Jeanne.
Back in the early 1960s, my UncleD, with whom my father was very good friends, was in the army. He was stationed at the base in Leesville and used to hang out in a particular tavern and had gotten to know Jeanne. Flash forward 30 years and my dad is working a job installing automated mail sorters in post offices around the country. Lo and behold, he is to install one in Leesville. So my uncle tells him about the bar he used to hang out at and about Jeanne. Joni and my dad were there for a couple weeks and they hung out with Jeanne and her husband during that time. And so, in between his bouts of sobbing on that sad day, my dad revealed his love for Jeanne to me. This is why I think he moved here - to be close to her. (He didn't move to Leesville because of the Army base there.) It sounds far-fetched, I know, but it's the only explanation I can come up with to explain why he moved to Louisiana instead of Florida where his brother and brother-in-law had both tried to persuade him to move to. He was desperately lonely and needed a serious change of venue so why not move near a close friend and family member?
In early February, UncleD came down here to visit my dad. While he was here, they drove down to Leesville to visit Jeanne. Unfortunately, they could not find her house and returned here disappointed. Maybe I'm reading more into that event than I should but, to me, it stands as the ultimate symbol of or the culmination of the last couple years of my dad's life. Like the Holy Grail, sought but never found. When I called to tell her of my father's death, she seemed almost uninterested. All she could say was that she hadn't seen him in years. I felt like she wanted to say, "Why are you telling me this? I barely knew him." Yet he had said that he loved her. Whatever the truth may be, it is lost forever and I'm stuck theorizing Citizen Kane
-style. I wonder...I wonder if, as he laid there in that parking lot staring at that hooded scythe-bearing figure, he muttered his own version of "Rosebud".
I think that, if I ever find myself in that situation, I hope that I can die knowing that I've touched some people. Given them some ideas to contemplate and had meaningful conversations with them. I just want to die knowing that I've done my part in helping someone reach eudaemonia.
This Folgers Has Gotta Go
A couple nights ago as my mother, brother, and I were returning from dinner, the cell phone rang. I answered and found that it was my dad's brother, Gene. I hadn't spoken to him since my dad's death - only to his wife. Now, I've always gotten along with my uncle well but never had a lot of contact with him. My dad has told me various things about him including that he's gotten a bit weird over the past few years. A bit reclusive, paranoid about his health, and very afraid of death. Still, when we've spoken, I've found him to be the same ol' Uncle Gene - friggin' hilarious. He used to make me laugh constantly when I was a kid. When my brother and I were going through my dad's pictures, we found one of Gene and we agreed that it was the perfect picture of him as it was the pose that he and I both remembered most: standing there with a baseball cap on, his shrit unbuttoned so his guy was hanging out, and a Pabst Blue Ribbon in his hand. Cuhhhhhlassic.
Anyway, he calls and asks how things are going. Then he starts asking about the fate of my dad's ashes. I didn't have them and just assumed that we'd scatter them here in the backyard. My dad was an atheist, my brother is an atheist, I'm an atheist - my dad only ever expressed his wish to be cremated. And, as my uncle and I agreed, he didn't care what happened to his ashes. Or, if he did, he never told anyone. So, since I was being asked, I knew something was up. Well, Gene wanted the ashes. He's got a plot in which to bury them and will spring for a headstone. In his words, "we can have to visit your dad." It was a bit weird but also very touching. By this summer, I'll have 2 uncles in Florida and a gravesite to visit. It's an odd thought for me to have a gravesite to visit. But I suppose that it will be nice to be able to catch some sun, visit the old man's grave, and see family. And there will, no doubt, also be golfing involved.
I talked to my UncaD yesterday who will be moving to Florida in July. I asked him and his wife to sign an affidavit that the lawyer needs. We chatted for a while and he said that he and his wife, Betty, would be up by Madison in June as Betty was going to be in a golf tournament. (Their condo in Florida is on a golf course.) He also told me that some small airline has flights from Milwaukee to Clearwater, where he'll be moving to. So that would make getting down there a breeze.
It is cloudy out today. We'll probably get some rain. I must do some cleaning, get some good coffee, and wait for phone calls. Other than friends, I miss music. I think I'm going to have to get the PC speakers out of the car and reattach them so I can listen to some Internet radio. I received some more bad news yesterday - I didn't get the job I interview for recently. I was told that I again made the short list but was passed over in favor of someone with real estate experience. So, going home will bring back all of my old problems once again. But, if I ever get back to Madison, I can start playing Dungeons & Dragons once more, I can go visit my friends at Toad Hill, cook up a big batch of jambalaya with some authentic andouille, get a hug, maybe start getting into photography, get a video together with Old Man Standiford - just have a life again.
And another thing - I am going to have tons of unpacking to do. My car is about 1" (2.42cm) off the ground. I snagged a bunch of tools for Stevie as well as a couple for myself. I got a few Japanese woodcuts that date back to the late 19th century which look really cool. Found the photo album from my parents' wedding too. I'll have a new PC and digital camera. Plus I kept a fair number of pictures, some old slides, and knick-knack stuff - just little items that I remember from my childhood like a tuning pipe. I am also taking back some kitchen items like a big cabbage shredder so I can make sauerkraut, a spaetzle maker, an ice cream maker, et al. I also got some fine crystal and some German bar glasses. One thing I took which I have no idea what I'll do with is an old pitcher and wash basin like those people used to keep by their beds. I guess it could make a nice decoration in the bathroom.
I just talked to my mom. She can take care of a joint credit card and has agreed to sign paperwork renouncing any right to claim anything from my dad's estate. She'll also be sending the lawyer some bills which shall count as a debt against the estate. Right now, what I need are death certificates and for my brother to get his ass to work so I can fax him the moving contract. But that won't be until three o'clock or so.
Well, I can say that I've learned a lot about this whole death thing. My advice to all of you is to make sure your parents have wills and that they give someone power of attorney. Also make sure they keep their house clean. hehe
Paging Dr. Groening
Once again I woke up at 4:30 and laid on the floor for about half an hour trying to fall back asleep and failing miserably. And, just as last night, I awoke to find that I had turned myself widdershins 90 degrees. The dream from which I awoke was blatantly odd too.
I cannot recall the beginning but I think it involved me hanging around with various women - friends and past girlfriends. Then I'm at a King Crimson concert. The hall was kind of like a high school gymnasium sectioned off with red curtains suspended from the ceiling. The band started with "Dinosaur". For my part, I was sitting off to the left by the wall. There was a man who was a midget recording the show while another man who was not a midget turned out to be the sound guy. The band's sound was very low so Adrian Belew motioned to the guy to crank it up. In his hand, he held what looked to be a Walkman CD player and he slid a small thingy and the volume rose. After "Dinosaur finished, they launched into another song. I then caught a glimpse of Miss Pamela up in front of the state sitting on the floor. She turned around and glanced at me.
Then I find myself with a couple women walking down the hallway of a hotel. We enter a room. I jump over the bed and squat on the far side of it while my companions sit on it. At one end, I am talking with one of the women whose identity I can't recall and don't think I knew in the dream. On the other end of the bed sits my ex-girlfriend, Heather. She is wearing a cream-colored sun dress with small red flowers on it. When I look over at her, I see that the dress is pulled up and that she is playing with her pubic hair.
The final part of the dream was lengthy but I can only recall a small part of it - the end. I am on this big, open street. One side is a tall hill and on the hill is a mansion of some sort. All at once, a mass of small figures about a foot high comes streaming down the hill and out into the street. They then rush at me and I noticed that they are all kids from The Simpsons. So I'm standing there with a horde of cartoon characters rushing at me screaming. As they move closer, I noticed that they have fangs and presume that they are vampires. Bart is the first one to get to me so I kick him away. But Milhouse was right behind him. I quickly realize that I am going to be mobbed and wake up.
Now, you tell me what that was all about. I can understand the pubic hair bit considering the picture I was looking at last night but the rest...?
24 March, 2004
I Miss Toad Hill
My mom and brother took off this morning. Luckily, I got to eat the past couple nights at a fairly nice place. I must say, the shrimp and scallops last night were mighty tasty! There was a couple sitting next to us who noticed that my brother was wearing a Leinenkugel's t-shirt. (Leine's is a beer brewed in Wisconsin.) I found out that they were from Fort Atkinson. Nice to be among some fellow Cheeseheads again. As dinner progressed, the 3 of us talked about movies. I tried to explain why Secretary
was a great flick but my mother would have nothing to do with it. Overall, it was a light-hearted affair. At one point, I reached across the table to give my brother a scallop. Because I am stupid, I found my hand hovering about the candle and it started to burn. My brother then said, "A hand held over a candle in angst-fueled bravado" - a quote from a Marillion song. That made me laugh. I havnen't had someone make a Marillion pun like that to me in ages. The topic of conversation then turned to vision. My mom told us that, after our grandmother had cataract surgery last year, she said that my mom looked old as she could finally see the wrinkles on her face. Oh, I got a good laugh outta that tale.
I got up at 0-dark-early because I couldn't sleep. All I could think about what all the stuff I had yet to do before I could go home. That and I am sleeping on the floor with a blanket that doesn't cover my feet and a small pillow which I think was meant for a doll house. The pillow was made by my grandmother so I shall have to tell her how handy it came in. However, I will recommend she use more stuffing next time. So I got up, made coffee, and started doing stuff that needed to be done. First things I tackled was unloading the gun. It's just a .22 revolver and unloading is a snap, right? Push the button, pull out the rod hoolie, open the little flap thingy that lets you look into the chambers, and push out the round cylinder dealie. It took me 5 minutes to figure it out. I've decided that, unless Pete's around, I will no longer handle loaded guns in the pre-dawn hours before I've had at least 3 cups of coffee.
With that being done, I loaded up the pickup with junk and headed to the dump. While I was there I found an employee who is a pack rat and have managed to pawn off most of my dad's tools. He even agreed to buy the truck! From there it was off to a Mailboxes, Etc. to see if I could receive a fax but I failed. So I came back here to pick up some forms and whatnot. I decided to call a couple of my dad's friends about whom I had forgotten. One guy, Bill, is an interesting character from Wisconsin. He is a really hardcore ham radio operator. I mean, he buys old 1940s vacuum tubes from Russian surplus web sites. Anyway, he gave me tons of advice as well as his sympathies. Then I called a friend of the old man's who lives in Indiana and someone I hadn't seen or talked to in ages - Walt. Really cool guy - a big hunter and fisherman. As a kid up north, he'd drive the boat to a spot and tell me exactly where to cast for what fish and I'd catch exactly what he said I would. He really talked my ear off. He knew my dad from the late 1950s when they were in the Army together. He described my dad as a "realist" and then told me how intelligent my dad was. Humorously, he said - I quote here as I wrote it down after he said it - "If he had an idea, no matter how crazy, you'd hear about it." That made me laugh out loud. He went on to tell a few more stories and I had a mystery solved.
You see, I found some pictures of some German folks from when my dad was in the service. One was of a family with a hottie for a daughter. Then, going through my dad's slides (a real frggin' chore), I found a couple of just her. So I found out that this woman was my dad's girlfriend in Germany (Elizabeth) and got the whole story. Of all the people I've had to call, my dad's old friends are the best and the worst to talk to. They're the ones that tell story after story that usually have comic endings. But they're also the ones that get all teary-eyed and say how much they loved my dad and will miss him too.
Once I was done with that, I went to see the realtor. She gave me some info and called up a lawyer she knew and got me an appointment in 2 minutes. So I walk down the street to his office. The door gave me a hard time. I was pulling when it needed to be pushed. It was just like that Far Side cartoon with the kid doing that at the gifted school. I go inside only to find a hot young blonde at the reception desk who was, no doubt, laughing to herself. The lawyer would see me right away...
He was a friendly guy. Sitting behind this huge desk, he chewed on one end of a cigar and spat tobacco into the garbage can he had underneath his desk. I gave him some info and he lectured me on Louisiana probate law. He's telling me that it'll take about a month and cost around $750. I was expecting something more like a grand or more so I was pleased. But, then again, I haven't been given a bill. During the course of our conversation, he disparaged Wisconsin probate law but, not knowing jack about it, who was I to argue? Then we talked about gardening and computers. When I left, I was able to use the door correctly.
Then it was off to the bank. I informed a woman there of the deceased and that was it. Back to the fax place - still no fax for me. Came back here and started calling insurance companies and what not. Holy bejeezus! Bad hold music and more bad hold music. At one point, I had the cell in one ear and the landline in the other. Then each of them gave me the call waiting beep. I tried to catch one as I was on hold but only managed to hang up on both of them and lose my place in line. Excepting the IRS, I think I've got everyone notified and everything cancelled. If I ever get home, I shall have tons of paperwork to do.
Which leaves me here. Still no ashes and no death certificates. The pony express must run between here and Shreveport or something. My car is full of crap including a smattering of souvenirs for friends at home that are entirely in the form of foodstuffs. I've got some andouille sausage, some boudin, cracklin, jelly made from the sap of some tree or the juice of a fruit which has escaped the attention of taxonomists, something with pecans in it, hot sauce, and probably a couple other things. I've got 3 different brands of salt & vinegar chips and hope to grab at least a couple more on the drive back to the Land of Cheese. If this waiting keeps up, I am thinking about going to Goodwill and buying one of my dad's pots back because fresh crawfish is on sale!
In spite of losing my dad and the endless amounts of paperwork, there are some nice things to have come about in all of this. And they have come in the form of the nice little poop chutes on the coeds here at the university. It was in the 70s today and I saw several nice young coeds out in thight-fitting shorts and tank tops. And such women seemed to be at all the places I went to as well. Their tight butts and cute accents...Most of the women I've seen here so far fall into one of two categories: either they have big butts like women in Wisconsin do or they have no hips at all and are completely waiflike. Whatever the size of their posteriors, they all seem to wear very tight-fitting pants/shorts. I brought my camera with me but forgot the memory card. Luckily I have inherited a digital camera so I will try to get some snaps of the aforementioned arses.
It feels like my mind has 2 levels right now. The top level is grief, frustration, impatience, sadness, and all the mixed feelings about my dad's death. Everyday I cry less and I think that running around town and whatnot helps to keep my mind focused on things I can do to, in a sense, make things better as opposed to just sitting around dwelling on my dad's death. Underneath all of that are the usual bits of me. Worry about work, my business, etc. There is also that part of me that is at least somewhat impervious to things, namely, my libido. When I see a beautiful woman walking down the street, it does something to me. Sure, I always do that but now, being alone in a foreign land in light of my father's death, the sight of these women makes me genuinely aroused. It's the funniest thing. I guess the procreative urges can trump grief about death. So tonight I decided to check out a sex blog that I read. It's not just pictures of nekkid chicks but commentary, humorous anecdotes, and the like as well. Well, it featured a picture that humored me - it was of a woman's naughty bits covered with shaving cream and a Kermit the Frog doll holding a razor standing ready to shave. Amused, I went to the site from which the picture originated. They were humorous but the novelty of Muppets doing things between a woman's legs wears out after a few pictures. Besides, most of the dozen or so photos were post-shaving. But the first picture in the set - with the woman as yet unshorn - was just beautiful. Perhaps because of my state of mind, I just stared at it for a little while. (In case you haven't been reading here for a while, I am not a fan of women shaving their naughty bits.) I would go to another web page and check my email or something but then I'd come back to the picture and look at it for a while longer. I just find pubic hair to be inherently sexy. And I suppose there's some kind of Freudian thing lurking in my brain as well.
Tomorrow looks to be a slow day. At least in comparison to the last couple. I'll go get those faxes as I now know that they are there waiting for me. Joe will be coming back to get the rest of the tools in the afternoon. I suppose while I'm waiting to hear from my brother, mother, and the funeral home, I will clean. Maybe I'll rake the yard too. Hopefully Guy will call back - he's a cousin of mine that I saw briefly about 3 years ago and before that, it had been a decade or more since I'd seen him. He called yesterday afternoon while I was on hold with some insurance company. Currently, he's out in the Pacific Ocean on an aircraft carrier, the USS Stennis. He fixes helicopters for a living in the Navy. I believe that he will be retiring later this year after a quarter century of service. It's funny because his dad (my dad's brother) fixed trucks for a living and he fixes helicopters. My dad fixed mainframe computers for a living and I fix PCs.
One thing I'd really like to do is get a decent cup of coffee. I haven't had one since Saturday. However, I did spy a cafe down on campus so I will probably head over there. (I do have chocolate, however.) Still, it won't be the same. Will there be an intelligent, funny, charming, and beautiful woman there to chat and do the crossword puzzle with? Does this town have a Caffeinatrix? I think not.
23 March, 2004
The Saga Continues
A new day has dawned.
Yesterday was clean-up day. We went through everything in the house and there are now bags and boxes everywhere. Goodwill is sending a truck over in a few hours to grab tons and tons of stuff. Then I'll take the food over to the pantry. My brother and I have divied up the stuff that we're going to keep. Since he works for a transportation company, he thinks he can arrange to have a company truck come here and snag all of the big items. Not that there are many, but enough.
We went to the funeral home yesterday to retrieve the items the old man had on him when he died. We also outlayed $2800. Sheesh! Death is an expensive proposition, lemme tell ya. So, at the moment I'm waiting on his ashes to arrive from the crematorium up in Shreveport and for the death certificate to be issued. Once I have those, I can start cancelling everything, notifying beauracracies, and pay bills. And I'll need to get a dumpster. I hope to be able to leave here on Thursday or Friday but want the house empty, the utilities shut off, and the pipes drained.
We weren't able to find a will so I'm looking at the prospect of a long, arduous trek in probate court. My dad's brother called last night. He kept prodding me about the fate of my dad's ashes so I knew something was up. Well, he wants the ashes and has a plot in which to bury them. On top of this, he said he'd spring for a tombstone so "we could all have a place to visit him". Very oddly but also very touching. When I spoke to my aunt, she said that my dad and uncle talked to each other weekly and had gotten "pretty close". It's a weird prospect to me of having a burial site to go visit in Florida but I suppose I'll get around to going there eventually.
Well, I am off to sort through the stuff in the garage...
21 March, 2004
Fun With My Dad's Scanner
Here's a decent one of me as a kid. An ex-girlfriend of mine from a couple years ago loved this picture. I presume she burned the copy I gave her when we broke up.
Now here's one of my brother, the old man, and me. For my part, the picture is humorous because my dad didn't have a beard for very long. The humor value lay in the fact that I, unsurprisingly, have pretty much the same beard. Just lighter. For any readers, you may get a chuckle out out of the Star Trek shirt I am wearing. See, I was a geek even at that age.
The 70s Were Good For Facial Hair
Alright. This is my Uncle D. Just look at those sideburns! A young, suave, debonair Italian gent opening the box to reveal a new hoolie. I remember that thing hanging in his old house. It's a thingy with 3 dials - one is a thermometer, one is a barometer, and one measures something else.
Here, the guy on the far right is my uncle Gene, my dad's brother. Notice the wonderful mutton chop kinda thing he's got going on.
Sorry about the crappy cropping here. I didn't feel like tweaking the rotation too much and I'm using a trackball instead of a normal mouse. It's going to Goodwill.
In My New House
I approached Natchitoches from an unfamiliar route. The other times I've driven down here, I've always taken I-49 but, since I took I-55 this time, I took a couple state highways and ended up on the other side of town. But I found my way to College Avenue. Once I did that, I knew how to get to my old man's place. As I turned onto Monroe Road, tears welled in my eyes as memories of moving him down here flooded back to me. All that hope for a new life he had. New house, new people, and no snow. As his house or, rather, my new house, came into view, the tears abated a bit. I parked, grabbed the mail, and went up to the door.
I had left my key at home but my dad has lived in the country since 1987 and hasn't locked his front door since. Walking in, I heard the television blaring. His hearing was going and he watched TV with the volume on 11. It felt just like a visit. I expected him to be sitting at the kitchen table. Instead there was just a History Channel program playing itself to no one. There was shit everywhere. It looked like my dad would poke his head around the corner any second or walk in the door. But I realized that it would never happen and I just started crying.
Taking a break from the water works, I started poking around. His answering machine and cell phone each had 3 messages awaiting. There was a half gallon jug of milk in the sink that he had pulled from the freezer to thaw. It was nothing but chunks now. On the plus side, he left a bag of chocolate chip cookies sitting on the counter. Kinda like he knew I was gonna be there and need a chocolate fix.
I spent a couple hours alternately crying and poking through stuff looking for relevant paperwork. Along the way, I of course found all kinds of stuff - pictures, enough towels for a family of 7, the pistol he kept next to his bed...he had recycled a calendar from 2003 and just wrote this year's dates in with a black marker. There were clothes in the washer so I threw them into the dryer. As I did so, I started crying again with a few tears falling onto his shirts. Considering he filled 2 or 3 dumpsters before he moved here, he sure had a lot of stuff. I figure that the canned and dry goods can be donated to a food pantry. Clothes, kitchen stuff, and beds can be donated to Goodwill or whatever it is they have down here. He didn't have a lot of furniture, thankfully. But he has 3 entertainment centers that are enormous. I remember putting one together last January - a right royal pain in the ass!
I went through some stashes of pictures and found a few from probably the early 70s. I had to laugh out loud at the sideburns my uncles had! They are gonna get shit about them from me next time I talk to them. I also found a picture of myself from 1987 or so and it should be burned along with my father's remains. If he's already been cremated, I will have to burn it myself as no one should be allowed to see it. Ever.
It's getting dark out. My brother and mom will be here in the morning. Since my bro decided he'd rather drive than fly, I just said fuck it and drove down myself. Stuck in a van for 17 hours with my mother is not my idea of fun and I just wanted to be by myself anyway. They couldn't leave til today and I couldn't bear the thought of futzing around another day. I just wanted to get here and start. On top of it, I can take the scenic route home now, if I like since I probably will not have anything resembling a vacation this year. And I've always been one to do most of my grieving alone. So tonight I do that but will have the rest of the week to be with family.
I checked the voice mail. An uncle and an aunt called. Not really ready to talk to them yet. Maybe tomorrow. Or maybe just later tonight.
19 March, 2004
While I had a hard time sleeping last night, I feel pretty good today. It got pretty warm today so I've got a window open. The weather for northern Louisiana looks pretty nice - 80s for the next day or 2 and then highs in the 60s/70s early next week with no precipitation in the forecast. It'll be odd to be able to enjoy such nice weather.
I did my usual routine down at Toad Hill this morning. When I finally told The Caffeintrix of my father's death, her mouth dropped and her eyes widened in shock. I think she took it harder than I did! She and I did our usual - coffee, chatted, and did the crossword puzzle. I joking remarked to her that, if I got a large life insurance benefit, that I'd buy a 50.1% share of Toad Hill. Can you imagine me co-owning a coffeehouse? I'd be drinking all the profits up in mocha breves! Seriously though, I'd love to be able to do something for her considering all of the free coffee, chat, smiles, and the wonderful friendship she's given me the past year. When I had to leave, she told me to wait as she was steaming some milk. When the latte was done, she came around and put her arms around me, her head on my shoulder giving me a hug. I wasn't prepared so I turned round and put my arms around her and we gave each other a nice, big hug.
A Genesis fan by the name of Meek has started a radio show which he does every Friday afternoon/evening. It's all Genesis and related stuff. He plays some official stuff but I think most of it comes from his extensive bootleg collection. Right now, he's webcasting a live version of "Watcher of the Skies" which is probably from 1973 and I think it's the February gig at De Montfort Hall, Leicester, UK. Please don't ask how I know this...I think I'm going to email in a request. Ooh! Now he's playing "Squonk" from a 1977 gig which I don't recognize off the top of my head. OK, my request is going to be "Home By the Sea" from Globenannexet, Stockholm, Sweden - 3 April 1998. Oh great. Now he's playing "No Son of Mine" - d'oh!
I keep wondering what I'm going to find at my dad's house. There's this vision in my head of finding his digital camera (which he barely got to use as he had it for only a month or 2) and seeing the picture he told me of featuring him sans
teeth. Instead of a toothy grin, he'll have a gummy one. I keep hearing his voice from our phone call yesterday. That humble, meek voice - that makes me tear up the most.
Pete took me out to lunch this afternoon. We sat there joking about my old man. We tried to figure out which circle of Hades he's at. Then Pete said that he'd called his dad last night. You see, I know Pete's family pretty well so I guess he wanted to tell them and, perhaps, just talk to his dad.
I picked up a copy of the new Onion today. Has anyone seen it? The picture of Donald Rumsfeld in that Ming the Merciless outfit is hilarious!
Jeepers! Meek just came on and apologized for not speaking much. He too lost a family member this week. It's not been a good one for Genesis geeks.
Stickin' It To the Man
CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. regulators and Wisconsin are sparring over the state's aggressive efforts to encourage its citizens to buy cheaper pharmaceuticals across the border in Canada, a battle which escalated this week.
Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, a Democrat, blasted a letter he received late Thursday from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (news - web sites), warning the state that its Web site threatens the public health by advocating citizens to buy illegal drugs.
"All we've done is try to find a vehicle for Wisconsin citizens to get cheaper prescription drugs, and the FDA is turning a deaf ear to the needs of citizens," Marc Marotta, a top aide to Doyle, told Reuters.
Doyle believes 40,000 citizens in Wisconsin have ordered pharmaceuticals through the state's site, which links to three Canadian pharmacies inspected by state advisors.
A growing number of people are buying drugs from Canada, where they can cost up to 70 percent less than in the United States, mostly owing to greater government regulation there.
Federal regulators say the practice is illegal and risky, but cash-strapped states and cities like Wisconsin are increasingly helping individual efforts.
"The drugs that your citizens will purchase from the Canadian pharmacies to which you refer them will clearly be illegal under federal law," the FDA wrote in the letter to Doyle, dated March 18.
The FDA operates under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (news - web sites), run by former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson.
At least 25 states and 15 localities are looking into buying drugs from Canada as they wrestle with double-digit health inflation.
"It is disappointing that the FDA continues to try to scare people," Doyle said in a statement.
"If the federal government continues to do nothing to help our citizens with the high price of prescription drugs, Wisconsin will continue to act on its own," he said.
Washington, D.C.'s official Web site now links to the Wisconsin site, and Minnesota also set up a similar site recently.
The pharmaceutical industry opposes importation from Canada, and the United States remains the sector's most lucrative market.
18 March, 2004
Your Feeble Light
My dad called me early this afternoon and he was in surprisingly good spiritsconsidering he'd had his remaining teeth pulled and was preparing himself for a 6 week stretch of no teeth at all until his gums healed and dentures could be made. He told me that he'd been having headaches and had not been attending his classes. (Those classes one takes after having been in jail for multiple DWIs in order to get one's drivers license back.) Life was going on as he looked forward to having teeth again.
My mom called a little while ago and told me that my dad died earlier - probably not long after I spoke with him - in only the most ironic of ways. He apparently collapsed in the parking lot of his doctor's office.
There are supposed to be various stages of grief and I guess I'm still in shock. Or denial or whatever that first stage is. So many things run through my mind. I remember when my stepmother was in the hospital about 3 years ago and my dad's brother drove up from Florida. The three of us sat around the kitchen table and I listened as my father and uncle reminisced about their father, a man I never met. There were some humorous tales but mostly stories of what a jerk my grandfather was and how my father never forgave him. The two of them sat there across the small table from one another saying, "Remember when the summers we spent on the farm with the old man? And how he'd hit us when he caught us slacking off?" Now my brother and I can do that. He and I can sit around talking about when our
old man got our asses up early in the morning to chop wood or help with some other work around the house. If I ever have kids, they can never know their paternal grandfather.
What would I tell them when they wanna know about their other grandpa? How do you explain to a child that a son loved his father but, at the same time, couldn't stand to be around him for more than an hour? How do you explain to your son or daughter that their daddy spent most of his life trying not to be like his daddy? Well, I suppose if I ever have to cross that bridge, I'll do so when I come to it.
I have this picture in my head of my father next to his pickup truck and falling to the pavement. Was he in pain when he died? What were his last thoughts? Did he see the oft-mentioned tunnel with the light at the end of it? Did his life flash before his eyes? Or just parts of it? Did he know what was happening? Did he think of his sons? Did he think of me?
I have emailed a buncha people, called a couple friends as well as my stepsister. She was the only stepsibling of mine that my dad cared for and kept in contact with when he moved. I remember her walking into my dad's house up north when her mother died. Her eyes were red, her cheeks tear-stained, and she made good use of kleenex. I hadn't talked to her in a while and it was quite nice to do so.
It's a curious feeling to be needing to cry but not knowing why. Does everyone feel this way when a parent dies?
Today is Miss Pamela's birthday and I was preparing to send her some electronic well-wishes when I got the call. Looking back, I feel bad to have told her about it when she was, no doubt, having a couple drinks and toasting another natal anniversary. I should have waited til tomorrow.
So the plan for a day in the near future is to sit around with friends and drink a cocktail named after my father - the "Dave". It is a dreadful blend of cheap-ass vodka (preferably Siberian Ice) and Diet Dr. Pepper. Having been an atheist, my dad will, no doubt, be looking up from below. I wonder if he'll be pissed. I wonder what regrets I'll have, how much guilt I'll feel. He did, in essence, die alone. But he's the one who decided to move far away from his kin. And I suppose he could have been even more alone. Still, these are not excuses for having kept him at an arm's distance. He once told me that he never wanted kids. He died
in a parking lot
his sons over a thousand miles away
I can hear his voice from earlier today. I can hear him telling me what he was going to do when he got those dentures. Immediately after they were fitted, he was going to go to a Burger King or some such place and eat some solid food. And once they were worn in enough, he was going to eat a nice filet mignon. Such simple plans. Such simple plans that went egregiously awry.Ye golden lamps of heav'n farewell,
With all your feeble light
Farewell thou ever changing moon,
Pale empress of the night.
And thou refulgent orb of day,
In brighter flames arrayed
My soul which springs beyond thy sphere,
No more demands thy aid.