Fearful Symmetries

Witness a machine turn coffee into pointless ramblings...

31 December, 2004

Zupans on the Go!

My trivia team won Bucky's Trivia hoolie this spring and now there are pictures of them on the web. (I was unable to participate.)



Here we have the boys out on the field of Camp Randall being honored. Notice Kias has his fist in the air and the team barstool cover hoolie on his head. Damn drunken blue-faced Finns!



Here they are with Barry Alvarez. From l. to r. we have Karl, Zeke, Chuck, Bob, Willa, Barry Alvarez, Dumb Donald, and Chet. Christ, I can't wait for that Cambridge rag to have that feature on the Zupan's 30th Anniversary. Kias sent me an email saying something about a feature on a "Living Zupan". I shudder to think what the hell that could be.
|| Palmer, 10:02 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
Sexy New Year's Resolutions

Courtesy of Anne Seamans. hehe I wrote "Seamans".

* Masturbate more - this one should be pretty easy

* Write an erotic letter or email (even if to yourself) - to myself? No problema!

* Compliment your lover on some element of his/her sexual technique - "Oh right hand, you sure can stroke like nobody's bidness!"

* Discover a new erogenous zone - now this one will take some looking into...

* Experiment with different condoms and pick a new favorite - Bummer. You don't need condoms when you make love with yourself.

* Try a different kind of vibrator (or at least a different speed!) - OK, I don't use vibrators. BUT(T), I can get an EverReady.

* Write down your erotic dreams - this I can handle.

* Look in the mirror and compliment your favorite physical traits - "My what a big tongue you have!"

* Pay attention to your sexual health - Good idea. Must get checked for STDs.

* Seek out more music and art, watch TV less - This is no problem as I don't watch TV much anyway.

* Masturbate in a different way (change positions, use fantasy material, etc) - Although I've been masturbating for over 20 years, it shouldn't be (gasp!) hard to find something new.

* Have sex somewhere new - Does masturbating somewhere new count?

* Share a favorite fantasy with your partner - I can only talk to my hands so much.

* Rent an erotic movie - Roger dat!

* Leave naughty voice mail for your partner - My hands don't have voice mail.

* Look for sex in nature (or architecture!) - National Geographic Channel, here I, um, come!

* Answer your kids' sex questions; buy them a book - No kids.

* Discover one new sex-related web site - You mean they have sex on the Internet?!

* Try a chat room, a dating service or a personal ad - Chat room? w/m/32 Um, I'll pass on the chat room thing but perhaps I'll put up a personal ad again.

* Wear something sexy to the office - I'm thinking that me in chaps would not go over well at work.

* Be naked - I hope Stevie and Becca won't mind if I resolve this one.
|| Palmer, 9:47 AM || link || (1) comments | links to this post

30 December, 2004

I Know

I was given some information this morning which made me really sad. It was told to me in confidence so I cannot share it here. Hopefully the information will be eventuated soon because I’d like to write about some of the implications. A lot of things in the air but they’ll land soon enough, I suppose.

I met up with The Dulcinea at lunchtime. I left work a little bit earlier than I had intended owing to the fact that it’s incredibly slow today and I just wanted to get out of there and speak my piece. So I got to J.T. Whitney’s a bit early. Looking around I didn’t see her so I took a seat at the bar and ordered some coffee. I was reading the new Isthmus when The Dulcinea came up from behind. I think I said “Hi. Thanks for agreeing to meet me.” I paid for my coffee and we moved to a deserted table by the pool table. (Table…table…table…) At the moment, I prefer to keep the details of the conversation in my head alone. But I will say a few things. Firstly, she was incredibly nice - much moreso than I deserved. Secondly, it was good to tell her face-to-face "I'm sorry". Not only did was I able to assuage my guilt but I was also able to do the right thing for the first time in a long time. We ended up talking for over an hour. It felt so good to (finally!) tell her things that I should have told her months ago. Questions asked and answered. I think it was good for both of us. We each walked out with a copy of the latest Onion in hand and laughing as we went. Looking up ready to part, I see that she extended her arms and so we hugged. It was the best hug I've had in ages. Maybe I'm not forgiven and may never will be but the hug gave me hope. Hope that perhaps she will be able to forgive me someday. Hope that I can be a better person. I think we both wanted to cry as we said our final parting words - I know I did. (Later...later...) I've never been any good at saying goodbye. I wasn't able to tell my dad goodbye so it felt comforting to be able to say it to someone whom I care about.

I got in my car, started it, and turned on the tapedeck. "Up Over Yonder" came on. I turned it up nice and loud. A little air drumming and I was off.

Heading out walking
Nobody by my side
If you see me
allow me to pass on by
|| Palmer, 7:16 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
”That’s Cool”

This morning it was “Single Girl” by 16 Horsepower. Granted, I have a Yankee accent but that just made the moments when I tried to sound Southern all the more humorous.

I read a piece saying that the death toll from the tsunami has reached 114,000. So I’m sitting here reading and thinking how dreadful the loss of life and destruction is when there a quote from Dubya: “"We will prevail over this destruction”. It just seems so…so…warlike. Yeah, there ‘s a bias on my part but I wondered why it didn’t read something like, “We will send food, aid, and medicine” blah blah blah. Where are words like “help” and “rebuild”? We Americans are not prevailing over any destruction because no tsunamis hit our coast. The object here is to help people who have had tragedy befall them, not fight a war. The only thing we Americans have to prevail over is our niggardliness. Do I buy the TiVo or give that money to Oxfam? Not a very tough decision for most of us, I’m afraid.

I’ve noticed something about myself recently. I think that it’s always been the case but I’m not always conscious of it. I’m referring to how I pick up other people’s phrases and ideas and use them. We all do it to an extent, I think. For instance, take the phrase “that’s cool”. It’s rather innocuous, isn’t it? Becca uses it all the time and now I’ve begun to use it. And so has Stevie. It is this generic phrase of approval.

Becca: “How was work today, Tim?”
Tim: “Well, I managed to get this stupid fucking NetMeeting to finally work after 2 days.”
Becca: “That’s cool.”

A variation including emphasis:
Becca: “How was your day, Tim?”
Tim: “Well, I helped a little old lady across the street and fed everyone in Sumatra.”
Becca: “That’s so cool!”

From The Dulcinea I got “not so much”. As in:

Becca: “Did you have a good day at work?”
Tim: “Mmm…not so much.”

The most recent addition to my vocabulary is “exsmurfly”, which I got from Marv and means “exactly”. This word (and its variations) has the added bonus of really annoying Pete. Exempli gratia:

Tim: “Since the orc is moving through my square, I get an attack of opportunity, right?”
Marv: “Exsmurfly!”

The only variation that I can recall at the moment is “absosmurfinlutely” but there are more.

I spent a lot of time reading Singer’s book last night. I don’t necessarily agree with all of it. He is a Preference Utilitarian whereas I am not. Still, we arrive at a lot of the same conclusions despite traveling to them along different paths. Much of what makes his writing interesting is that he relates his ideas & arguments to the real world instead of staying in a world of abstraction. And so, if he’s talking about the morality of how to treat non-human animals, then he also talks about how non-human animals are currently being treated.

The greatest challenge he poses, at least so far, is that he denies the existence of supererogatory actions. (It’s fun to be reacquainted with all these terms from college philosophy courses that I’d forgotten.) “Supererogatory” actions are those that, if performed, are good but that it is not wrong not to do them. For Singer, we are obligated to be morally good and we are obligated to be as good as possible. By this he means not only the frequency of good actions we perform but also that we carry out our moral obligations to fullest extent possible. E.g. - he would say that we are morally obliged to help feed those suffering from starvation. But giving $5 to Oxfam if you are not destitute is not fulfilling your obligation because you are not giving enough. Singer thinks that one should give as much as you can - as much as makes your life as austere as possible but that you don’t slide into poverty yourself.

Of course, this sounds mighty extreme and quixotic to us (comparatively) well-heeled Americans. This position can be attacked on several fronts from whether or not we are obliged to give to the poor in the first place to whether giving until we can give no more to famine relief and neglecting other charities will really bring about the greatest good. Regardless, he makes a good point about the general nature of being charitable. As he remarked, a person is lauded for giving to charity but not castigated for not giving to charity. I think this is the rub. Wherever you fall in the debate on how much to give, I believe that the most immediate issue is whether you give or not. That’s what struck me the most. That we – I – should be giving.

Another thing that reading Singer’s book has brought to the fore of my mind (and hinted at above) is simply obligations themselves. So far, I’ve only read sections on treatment of non-human animals and the sanctity of human life. Later in the book are bits on living an ethical life more generally but I’ve been thinking of them all along.
|| Palmer, 10:24 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

29 December, 2004

I Am Not A Rake

But am I progressing?

When you list all the qualities that you despise
And you realize
You're describing yourself

And breaking someone up inside
Is your only source of pride

I spent most of today setting up a couple PCs for 2 users who start Monday. After I got the networking issues sussed, the imaging process took forever and a day. The second required installation of Websphere which took about 45 minutes in itself. And this was version 5.0 – 5.1 takes even longer.

Tomorrow afternoon I’ll be meeting up with The Dulcinea so I can eat some humble pie and right what I can. I’ve thought about what I’m going to say but I’ve decided I’ll just wing it. Since she agreed to see me, I think I can say that I’m not completely reviled.

TiVo has a high novelty factor but I haven’t used it. Not much of interest on TV. Well, excepting some stuff on BookTV this weekend. I’d rather write or read. I got a fair amount of reading done and am now halfway done with Singer’s book. It’s quite excellent. A lot of food for thought, lemme tell ya. Contemplating his essay on how people should be giving a helluva lot more to feed the hungry worldwide makes TiVo a non-starter. It was a plea for us to give of ourselves to near poverty. Now I’m reading about the sanctity of life and abortion.

Regardless of the topic, Singer is thought-provoking but his words are also lucid, easy reading. I find my own morals to be nearly always challenged. I’m constantly thinking and rethinking my own positions on issues, my justifications for my views. It’s a challenge and a pleasure.

It’s weird to feel so low yet receive praise. For instance a musician wrote me today: “…you are ‘for the record’ an interesting writer with a viewpoint just enough off kilter to keep one engaged with your thought…”. From Laura: “I want to respond to your last long letter, but I'm at work now and busy tonight so it might be a couple of days. I wish that you lived closer. I'd really enjoy meeting you face to face. I'm sure we'd talk for hours. The phone just doesn't do justice to the impression you get when talking with someone in person.”

Indeed it doesn’t. How lucky for the both of us.
|| Palmer, 6:18 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
Yeah, People Come Up

I wish I could sing but, since I can’t, I’m thankful that no one heard me doing a bad imitation thereof in my car this morning. “People of the Sun” by Rage Against the Machine was crankin’. I haven’t got those guttural “uh!s” down yet. For instance, my favorite part of that song is: “Ya spine cracked for tobacco, oh I'm the Marlboro man, uh”. But my “uh” comes out sounding like I have Down’s Syndrome – you know, like Corky from Life Goes On. It makes me feel like I should be singing “Ob La Di, Ob La Da” instead. No Zack de La Rocha am I. But, hey, it’s all good. No one has to hear my awful attempt at singing and I get all fired up for work.

Last night I was reading my usual coterie of blogs which included The Dulcinea’s. I read something – don’t remember exactly what – and then something clicked in my head. A sudden sense of guilt, of shame lodged itself firmly in my head and heart. You try reading & writing about philosophy, about acting morally and such. It’s like I’d close my eyes and I’d see the Categorical Imperative in big, bold stern letters floating around the insides of my eyelids with this authoritative voice echoing, “Treat people as ends in themselves and never as means to ends…ends in themselves…ends in themselves…” I kinda feel like Rick in that episode of The Young Ones when he kills Neil and his conscience plagues him while he’s trying to sleep. “Rick…Rick…this is your conscience. You killed Neil…”

I was also being tired of feeling how I do. Tired of acting in opposition to what I really want. I keep having flashbacks to certain things my father did and find myself making the same mistakes he did. I should know better and I’ve spent a good chunk of my life trying to avoid making those same mistakes – trying to be unlike him. Didn’t Santayana have something addressing this?

It felt imperative that I not end 2004 in the ASSHOLE category. I was going to leave a comment on her blog but that wouldn’t be right. Then it was going to be an email but it too felt highly inappropriate. So I ended up writing her a letter. Better. But it occurs to me that saying what I’ve got say would be best done in person. So I emailed her asking if she could stand to be in my presence for a minute. I expect not so I’ve kept the letter ready for mailing. If you fuck up, you try to set things right. I fucked up and I have to try to set things right. I’ll meet you down there by the train…

Ooh! D20 for listen check! I just overheard a conversation in which a co-worker of mine revealed that he grew up with Gary Gygax’s kids and knows the guy. (Gygax is one of the co-creators of Dungeons & Dragons.)
|| Palmer, 8:57 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

28 December, 2004

Some Tunes

Some new tunes! Firstly, there's Hill County Revue by North Mississippi All-Stars. I read about a progressive rock band called Kopecky from Milwaukee that I wanna check out. They don't have any gigs listed but something will happen eventually. Right now I'm just psyched for the new PT album and to see them again.

OK, I'm off to read some more Singer and get all depressed about veal.
|| Palmer, 8:37 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
The Pr0n Revolution Will Be Televised

The Pr0n Revolution is here! We've got the 2 TiVos hooked up to our network. This means that they can download schedule info rather quickly. It also means we can transfer programs between the 2 very quickly. But the real bonus is that we can access media files on our computers via the TiVos and see/hear them on our TVs. For instance, as I type, Stevie is perusing some of his collection of nudie pictures that he stores on his PC on the TV in the den. In the near future we'll be able to access our blue movies and I can jack off while watching Au Pair Teenies on my big screen TV.
|| Palmer, 7:36 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
My Moral Capcity or Lack Thereof

Two and a half more hours of boredom.

I read some more of Singer’s book at lunch today. I must admit that I’m an old softy and that reading the part about calves raised for veal made my eyes water. I must also admit that I had no idea that it was a Wisconsin company that introduced modern veal-raising methods to this country in the early 1960s. Provimi, Inc. was headquartered in Watertown. As near as I can tell, they are no longer in business but there is a Provimi Road and the American Veal Association has an address on it. Singer makes a good case that the treatment of animals in factory farms is unethical and that eating products composed in part or in whole from animals from these farms is immoral. According to him, it’s a matter of speciesism, that is, humans tend to view humans as being inherently superior to non-human animals.

The thing that ran through my mind was this: Let’s grant Singer that factory farms are unethical and that eating food products from them is immoral. Let us also grant Singer that most people, at least in industrialized societies, are speciesists. What then are the effects? Well, besides the pain, suffering, and death of non-humans. What are the effects on us? Does eating Spam™ without regard to the plight of the animals whose flesh gets packed into the tins somehow degrade me, degrade my moral capacity?
|| Palmer, 2:31 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
Translation Complete

I’ve finished translating the Latin directions for the letterbox in Monona. It’s a bit rachitic but here it is:

”It begins by walking down the first footpath to the fish pond. Follow the path between two ponds. As the path splits, walk on the right. In a little while the path will again split. Stay on the right side of the path. Down 20 steps from the fork, look on the right for 5 large shagbark hickory trees in a worked field. It is near the fallen tree. The box is at the base.”

There’s at least a couple errors here but I think I’ve got it good enough to find the box.
|| Palmer, 11:20 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
A Real Paine

Firstly I want to say that this chocolate croissant from TH is fucking tasty. I haven’t had one in a few days. While I bought one Friday for my drive down to Chicago, I got too lost in thought and forgot to eat it. Then I found myself on the exit ramp at Keeler with a homeless guy wandering from car to car. Since I covet chocolate so, I was going to give him some money but relaized that I had none as I’d forgotten to hit an ATM. So I gave my precious pastry to him. It was the Xmas season, after all.

I found a tape in my car that I hadn’t listened to in a while. It starts with a little White Stripes and then proceeds with some Rage Against the Machine. By the time I got to work, I was crankin’ some Porcupine Tree. A fun song about an insane guy who killed his family, no less. Perfect music to start my workday if there ever was any. This Tull gig – October 3, 1995 Stockholm – is, not unlike the croissant, really good. One site I saw listed it as an audience recording but it’s a soundboard.

I found the little metal hoolie for my pin so I can wear it again. I got me a nice Thomas Paine pin on my shirt today. We’ll see if anyone asks who he is.
|| Palmer, 8:48 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

27 December, 2004

I Just Watched Oprah

Amy came over this evening and she and I traipsed around the neighborhood knocking on doors to solicit signatures. At the end of the day, we collecxted enough to boost her total to 22. Twenty are needed to get on the ballot. One house was occupied by a 75 year-old womyn who lived alone. Lemme tell ya, she talked our fucking ears off. People were friendly for the most part and Amy chatted with Jason across the street for a while. He and his wife are both police officers and he had some concerns and he expressed his desire to have Brenda Konkel out of office. After leaving his house, we came back here and chatted for a while before Amy went home.

Becca, Stevie, and I just finished watching today's episode of Oprah that Becca TiVo'd. I got not one, but 2 Tull shows today in the mail. The one from Stockholm is really great. The drums sound nice and raw.

I see that Tempest is coming to town! Well, Stoughton, actually, but close enough. I saw them last in 1996 at The Chamber and it was a fantastic show. Any band with a guy that plays a doubleneck electric mandolin is alright by me.

Crystal and I are going to catch cocktails this week. By the sound of her email, it sounds like she really could use a couple. And Lola has agreed to contribute to my zine. Finally, Miss Pamela and I are signed up for the Bondage for Beginners class. I am sooo gonna bring my camera for that.
|| Palmer, 9:58 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
I’m Gonna Meet My Neighbors

I saw a hoolie in the Chicago Reader about a show of Tim Vermeulen’s art based on Dante’s Inferno. The one painting show, The Pit, was really cool. Instead of Virgil & Dante, we get 2 boys. Check his work out.

Tonight I get to help Amy canvas my neighborhood for signatures so she can get her swarvy ass on the ballot. But before that, I have to endure another 2 and a half hours of boredom here. I emailed Lola asking if she’d be willing to contribute to my (now purely theoretical) zine. I enjoy her writing immensely so I hope she is amenable to it. I was going to ask The Dulcinea to write something for it but, at this point, I’m not overly keen on publishing a character assassination of myself. Then again, who knows? It could make for entertaining reading.

On my way home, I must stop at A Woman’s Touch to register for that class and perhaps buy me something. I should probably also grab some milk too for hot chocolate. As per my desire to add less coffee to my life, I drank 2 cups of tea last night instead of brewing a pot of java. A small step but doesn’t every journey begin with but a single one?

The Weather Channel is forecasting a high of 52 on Thursday. Holy biscuits! I’m seriously thinking of going to the Art Institute on Friday morning. I could catch the medieval exhibit and then get home in time for any New Year’s cheer. Perhaps I can convince Marv to come with me.
|| Palmer, 2:20 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
Damn TiVo

Stevie, Becca, and I hung out together last night. Those 2 tried to figure out the TiVos and succeeded, for the most part. Honestly, I still don’t know fuck about it. I do see that there’s a few things on BookTV next weekend that I’d like to TiVo. That Richard Dawkins reading is going to be replayed, a Cornel West speech is gonna be broadcast, and there’s part deux of a roundtable discussion about the Founding Fathers and the American Revolution. Ooooh! And there’s a debate featuring William Dembski v. Niall Shanks about intelligent design – go Niall!!! Crush Dembski, see him driven before you, and hear the lamentations of his women!

I sent Laura a much overdue email yesterday. In my last missive to her, I revealed some personal information which has sent us tacking the windy seas of sociology and metaphysics. I related to her the events of 1996/97 and explained their effects on me. Well, tried to, at any rate. In her reply she said that various bits of what I had written about are paramount in her mind and asked several questions. Since my little epiphany involved Immanual Kant’s moral philosophy & tradition, she asked about these things. And so I spent way too much space writing about my conception of the importance of tradition and my relationship to the 2nd Formulation of the Categorical Imperative yesterday. But, hey, she asked.

It was in this spirit that decided that I was just bored with The Life of Pi and decided to move onto something else. (If anyone wants a free copy of it, lemme know.) This something else happened to be Writings on an Ethical Life by Peter Singer. My autographed copy, to boot. Although I only got about 30 pages in, it was fascinating. I need to go back and re-read the bit about defaulting to a form of utilitarianism. He stated that any morality based on the concept of universalization, such as Kant’s, does not rest on a solid rational foundation. This captured my attention because that is part of what happened to me back in ’96/’97 – I began to feel the basis for an ethical life was underpinned by the notion of universalization.

Writing and reading about philosophy really jump started my mind. Have I been acting ethically? How can I act more ethically? I think that Singer would begin by advising me to become a vegetarian. The odds of this are highly unlikely so I’ll have to find alternate methods of achieving a higher level of morality. But I don’t think he’d find a fault with me acting all Kantian’n’stuff, at least not generally.

In other news, Here’s the video shot by those goofballs I met backstage at the Jethro Tull concert last month. There’s some concert footage and an interview with drummer, Big Boy Doane Perry. I see that drug companies have issued an amber alert for Michael Moore. Uh oh! Amy wants to know what I’m doing tonight. It looks like I won’t be going to the cinema after all.
|| Palmer, 11:43 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

26 December, 2004

Keeping Up

If I had any worry that our household wasn’t keeping up with the Joneses, they have officially been laid to rest. Becca got the Tivo that Stevie and I bought for her on Thursday night and Stevie went and bought another one this afternoon. In fact, he bought a high-capacity one with a built-in DVD writer. And soon it’ll be hooked up to our network which will allow us to snag pictures, videos, and mp3s from our computers and play/view them on our TVs. We are now the stylin’ bachelor/bachelorette pad. Big screen TV, Tivo, wireless network, and a newly painted kitchen. Add in one pontoon boat and we’re in like Flynn.

I got home Thursday night to find Stevie and Becca in media res of cooking our Xmas dinner. I took over and saved the Hollandaise sauce which freed Stevie to light a fire. We busted out a couple bottles of vino and had dinner. Afterwards we opened our presents and continued drinking. Stevie got pretty loaded and began to tell us how much he loved us and that we were the best roommates he ever had. He proceeded to ask us for input on what to do to the house next. It’s been his thing the past few years to take his tax return and remodel some part of the house. For his next trick, he’s been contemplating redoing the basement or putting new siding on the house. Becca suggested putting a bidet in the master bath and Stevie was quite amenable to the idea. Since the return comes in February, we still have a month or more to decide.

As Becca started putting food away, Stevie and I talked about Pete. He felt bad for having kicked him out but it had to be done for his sanity. But he also wanted to reestablish ties with him and asked me if I knew Pete’s feelings on the matter. I told him that I didn’t think that would be a problem. The conversation turned round corners and I found myself telling him about my dad and some of the things I’ve written about him. I told him of my plans to go visit my grandmother and aunt’s graves and Stevie said that, if I were up for it, he’d be happy to accompany me on a wee roadtrip. Some real manly bonding. Or something.

The phone rang and it was for me. Pete was on the other end. After establishing that it was me, he handed it over to someone else who introduced himself as a deputy sheriff. Pete had gotten a DUI and needed a ride home or else spend the night in the pokey. I agreed to fetch his ass and lied to the officer by saying that I was sober as a judge. Luckily, the officer’s shift was ending and, since he lived on this side of town, he offered to drop Pete’s drunk ass over here. While waiting for them to arrive, Stevie disappeared out the back door. Becca and I thought he was just stepping out to get some more wood for the fire but, after several minutes, he hadn’t yet returned. I wandered around outside to see where the hell he’d gone off to but found no trace of him. He hadn’t worn a jacket and I wasn’t sure just how thick the ice was on the pond. Coming back inside, it wasn’t long before Officer Friendly arrived with Pete. I signed some paperwork and had him released into my custody. Part of this Faustian bargain was that Pete was my responsibility for the next 12 hours. I referred to him as “Detainee” the rest of the night as per the paperwork bearing my signature.

Pete and I then went out to look for Stevie again and eventually found him across the pond at a neighbor’s house. Once he returned, he shared a bowl with Pete and offered him some food. The two of them got along fine as I knew they would. I drank some more liqueur-laced coffee and then gave Pete a ride to the towing company where his house keys awaited. After dropping him off at home, I came back to my own and futzed around a bit before heading to bed.

I got a late start Xmas Eve but I made it to my brother’s place on time. Andy, Carl, and I hung out and watched the first half of the Packers game at their place. Carl and I then headed off to Elkie’s to watch the 2nd half. The place was populated with a few regulars but was otherwise empty. One guy at the corner of the bar was shitfaced. While watching the game, I heard a few thumps from his area. I looked over and found that he had knocked over his bottle 4 times in a row. After the last time, there was still just a bit left in it and the exasperated bartender, a hot Polish lass, poured the rest out on him. The guy started calling her a “fucking cunt” and the like. He was a regular and they knew one another well so nothing was made of his vulgarity. Andy joined us and the Packers proceeded to win. Then it was off to my mom’s.

Xmas Eve was pretty uneventful excepting the argument. My cousin, Sue, started talking to Rusty and asked if true love were possible. The whole thing took a tangent off to separation of church & state. This got Barb dragged in as she was a judge. Fortunately, she was adamant that the wall stand. Then things wound back to relationships. Sue has been dating a guy and their relationship recently became a long-distance one. Having been “burned” by her last boyfriend, I guess she’d become a little gun-shy, so to speak. She then asked me if I ever wanted to have kids. “Nope.” Did I ever want to get married? “Nope.” She then said that the only way she’d ever get married was to have kids and she seemed ambivalent about that, at best. And so it looks like my generation on my mom’s is to be the end of the line.

Xmas Day I went out to Cary to hang with The Don and Betty and her family. It was fun. There were younger children there and it was nice to watch then get all excited when they opened their gifts. Plus I got to shoot the shit with The Don. He told me a story about my dad. The two of them were watching my brother and cousin at my old house in Chicago while my mom & aunt went shopping. They went to visit the neighbor down the street and began drinking. Then they came back to my house and drank some more. Soon they were out on the lawn throwing a ball around. At the end of the day, my dad broke his clavicle and my uncle passed out on our front lawn. He concluded the story by saying, “It took me a long time to live that one down.” I stayed out there too long and ended up driving home that night.

Driving can be alright. I get some time to myself to think things over. On the way down, I thought myself into a depression but got out of it by playing “Up Over Yonder” by the North Mississippi All-Stars really loudly and singing. On the drive back I realized that I need to make some changes in my life, need to do some things to set my mind right. The proof won’t arrive until a year from now but I’ve got some plans.

First of all, there’s my health. I want to cut down on coffee and rehydrate myself. Drink more water. Second, I want to get myself tested for STDs. I kinda got into the habit of that after dating Miss M.D. but have fallen off the wagon. And now that I know that The Dulcinea was seeing other men while we were dating and having severely unprotected sex, it seems like a really good time to get tested. Finally, I could stand to lose some weight. 50-60lbs. Must eat better and exercise.

On the intellectual front, I need to finish The Life of Pi and get on to other books that have been in the pipeline for a while now. I want to read books about things that occupy my mind. There’s a couple classes I’d like to take too.

In the large miscellaneous category, there’s a host of things. I wanna do a show on WORT, do some travel, make a documentary, publish a zine, put up a web page, continue absorbing culture, and, perhaps, move. I’ll be a literacy volunteer too. Of course, I also need a new womyn. The Dulcinea thought I slept with everything that moved and another womyn told me that she thought I could get laid at will. While neither of these are true, they are also not true now.
|| Palmer, 5:55 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

25 December, 2004

Everybody Needs One

I have all this great new music in my collection and thought that I ought to make a mix CD for you. It didn’t take long for my brain box to realize that you’d never hear it. I stacked all those Doctor Who CDs up neatly in my room wondering how it was that I’d never given them to you.

Stevie mentioned you on Thursday night (more of which I’ll write about later) and I told him that whatever bonds we may have had had been riven in twain by me. He remarked that it was too bad as he liked you a lot. Becca then chimed in with her own, “Awww…yeah, that is too bad. She was really cool.” Stevie then asked if you could come over anyway to hang out.

This scene then mysteriously replayed itself yesterday at my brother’s apartment. I was talking with Andy as we were looking at some stuff he had downloaded. (His dad gave him a copy of the OED on CD-ROM. The whole shebang, not the Concise OED that I have.) and he asked about you. I told him what had transpired between us and he said that it was a shame because, even though he met you only the one time, he thought you were cool. My brother was in the other room but had overheard the conversation and asked, “You broke up with her? That’s too bad – she was really nice.”

OK, OK – I’ll have a scarlet A affixed to my coat and then hang out in the stocks on Sunday.
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24 December, 2004

25 Years and Counting

Only 25 years left. Maybe it could hit Texas.
|| Palmer, 10:10 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

23 December, 2004

Dear Dad

Dear Dad,

I’ve been thinking of you lately. I’ll be heading down to Chicago for Xmas and will be seeing Don & Betty and no doubt you’ll be part of the conversation at some point. And with the end of 2004 just around the corner, I’ve been in a retrospective mood. I feel sad that my only memories of you from this year were your voice coming through a telephone and your ashes in a plastic bag.. I have to go back several years to find a happy memory of you. 1998, maybe. The problem is that my mind just can’t jump to particular memory like a CD player can skip to a track. Instead it fast-forwards through everything with all those memories in-between rearing their heads. One very irksome memory came to mind that I’d forgotten about. It happened shortly after Joni died. I went to visit you one weekend and, upon walking in the door, you were nowhere to be seen. I figured you were sleeping so I just grabbed something to drink and watched some TV until you awoke from your drunken stupor. After a while, you walked out of your bedroom. You were surprised to see me as you had forgotten that I’d told you I would be visiting. For my part, I was surprised that you were naked and that you refused to put on any clothes. To complete the amazing trifecta, you shit on the floor before you went back to bed. I suppose it’s only fair that I had to clean it up as you changed my diapers when I was young, right? Why it is that my mind is adamant on bringing this and like memories up from storage is beyond me. Being Christmas time, I’m trying to recall a happy Xmas memory but I can’t. Maybe something will come back to me but, for the moment, I have absolutely no memories of you from the holiday season happy or otherwise. Granted, we haven’t spent a Xmas together since 1985 but you’d think I’d be able to resurrect something from the corners of my cranium. What is wrong with me?

I don’t think I ever told you (why would I have?), but I wrote a poem about Grandpa B. Well, not really about him, more about his absence. It’s difficult to write about someone you’ve never met nor heard much about. So why exactly did you hate him so much? I know about the beatings…why was Gene able to make his peace with him while you weren’t? I’ve been thinking that I should make a trek to Iowa next year and visit Grandma B.’s grave. I don’t know exactly why. When was the last time I saw her? I think she died in 1985 and I probably saw her last in – what? – 1983? It might be a nice way to welcome in the spring – go on a little roadtrip and do some navel gazing upon a woman I barely knew. Put death in perspective and in its place to welcome the rebirth of life and all that stuff. Does that make any sense? OK. Onto other matters…

It’s a balmy 45 down in Natchitoches now. Cold for you, I know, but better than the single digits we have here. Colder than a witch’s tit in a brass brassiere! The woman I told you about in my last letter and I are no longer seeing one another. She sent me an email in which she relayed her desire to be let further into my circle of sympathies but I didn’t want her there. Quite honestly, I have no idea why she wanted to be let in. What did she want from someone whom she thought of as a childish, selfish, asshole who repeatedly told her that he didn’t want any emotional intimacy (or whatever you wanna call it) – why in the name of Jehovah did she persist? Every time I open myself up to a woman, I invariably am told how dark and ugly it is in there. It gets old quickly and it’s gotten so old that it’s become completely predictable. This woman is really smart and she figured it all out early on, which makes the whole ordeal even more perplexing.

Carl is doing OK. I’ll be heading over to his place tomorrow to watch the Vikings play the Packers. He’s currently seeking out a Vikings bar at which to watch it before we head over to mom’s. I presume he means me harm as, no doubt, a lone Packer fan wouldn’t stand a chance against a bar full of those crazy big city folks. On Saturday, we’re going to Ted’s house over in the old neighborhood and then Sue and I will go to Betty’s son’s place to meet up with her and Don. The first Xmas I can recall where I won’t be going out to Barrington. I can understand Carol not wanting to host anything with Harry gone, though. Then on Sunday my friends and I are going to play Dungeons & Dragons over at Chris’ place and wind down from the holiday. Another short work week follows and then it’s New Years. At the moment, I’m planning on spending it at a friend’s house out in the country and cooking up a bunch of soul food along with cocktailing.

Next year I become a volunteer adult literacy tutor – kinda sorta following in mom’s footsteps. I also need to do some job hunting as the position I’m at now looks to end by April. I hope to do some travel come summer, see some concerts, and the like. You know how I am – I take things as they come, for the most part. Ya know, maybe I’ll go visit grandma’s grave on the anniversary of your death. Kind of wrap all this family stuff together in one roadtrip. And isn’t Dorene buried there too? Actually, there’s a country ton of things I wanna do. Host a radio program, write a story – so many things. I’ve also decided to get more involved in politics. I’m helping a friend who’s running for a city council seat here in Madison but I’d also like to get involved with politics on the state level. I met a fellow atheist who is an active member of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and he was quite inspirational. A lot of Christians in the country are really creeping me out, Dad. I’ve always been fascinated with Thomas Jefferson (BTW, thanks again for that 6 volume biography of him) and his conception of a Wall of Separation between church & state is sorely needed now. Part of it is to keep religion out of my life but I’m also firmly convinced that mixing the two leads to tyranny of some kind. It soils both. I mean, the Founding Fathers were well-aware of the bloodshed borne from their intermingling. I think the point of the First Amendment was to declare a Treaty of Westphalia before decades of war instead of after. I hope I find the motivation because it’s getting sadder all the time just sitting here on the sidelines watching it all happen. Anyway, 2005 should be an interesting year.

I’ll end by saying that it’s so strange to think you’ve been gone for 9 months now. Those weeks I spent in Louisiana this spring by myself stretched on forever, it seemed. My mantra was “This too shall pass” and shove a spoon up my ass sideways if it didn’t. I got home to Madison despite The Teamsters’ best efforts. And, while I think I’ve come to grips with your death for the most part, I’ve got a lot of learning to do. I figure that, if I learn about you, I’ll learn about myself. I spent some time last night looking at a picture of grandpa. Well, the only one I have. It’s the one with him and one of his 5 or 6 wives standing outside of a tent. So, he had half a dozen and you had 2, do you suppose I could handle even 1?

Alright Old Man, I’m outta here. I’ve got a lunch date with a couch & a fireplace. Until next year…

Much love,
Tim
|| Palmer, 11:38 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
Jigsaw Pieces

Work is deader than a doornail. The queue hasn’t changed since about 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon. But I’ve got some music and a couple episodes of The Next Life here along with some magazines.

I just sent an email to Ralston telling him that I’d received his CD. I gave it a couple cursory spins yesterday while I was here at work and found “What Kind of Friend” to be an especially moving song. I definitely like what I hear so far and it will be a pleasure to actually be able to tell a musician directly, albeit via e-mail, how much I enjoyed his work and how much it means to me. When a song really moves me, when it gets under my skin, and becomes part of me, I often get this desire to thank the musician for having created the song. A lot of these musicians are, unfortunately, dead. For instance, I’ll never be able to thank Blind Willie Johnson for “Dark Was the Night (Cold Was the Ground)” or “Praise God I’m Satisfied”. And I’ll probably never meet the guys in Genesis to thank (or curse, as the case may be) for having given me an obsession that’s lasted about 22 years and who knows how much money – so far. “What Kind of Friend” is just one of those great songs. Even if I were to find the rest of the album to be for shite, I’d still keep the CD for just that one song and it’ll be fulfilling to be able to tell that song’s creator just what a fantastic job he did.

Last night I hit the sack early so I could settle underneath the covers and listen to the last two parts of The Next Life. That Rassilon guy is a real bastard! I made it through the penultimate episode and found myself getting excited about hearing the super finale whopper hoolie. So I go and fall asleep in the middle of it but I swear that I woke up and heard the end before falling asleep again. And I’d swear that the Daleks were involved. But that doesn’t make sense so I’ve got this theory that it was a dream. But I can’t be sure. Well, until I listen to it here shortly, that is. When I pulled it out of the CD player this morning, I looked at the big pile of CDs sitting atop it. All these Doctor Who episodes that I’ve listened to at night over the past several months have just been left there to gather dust. I can’t just throw them away. I suppose I’ll have to find a good home for the precious shiny dics.

Tonight Stevie, Becca, and I are going to eat dinner together and open gifts. Unsurprisingly I haven’t gotten Stevie anything yet. Maybe when I run out to East Towne tonight I’ll grab his something. He’s gonna paint the kitchen today – chianti or some such metrosexual color. Becca remarked to him that the kitchen should be painted brown and apparently he took the comment to heart. I whipped up a glaze for a ham last night. Stevie has a hardon for one and neither he nor Becca have to work today so it was my responsibility to throw together a glaze and give explicit cooking instructions. I basically told him, “Get some cloves and stick them in the ham then spread the jizz in the Pyrex measuring cup on top. From there, follow the directions on the ham’s label.”

Miss Pamela e-mailed me asking for some Latin to be translated for her next tattoo. I ended up giving her a little Latin lesson. But hey, I wanted to give her options so she could have the freshest tattoo around.

I listened to a mix CD that The Dulcinea gave me. Holy Christ is there a lot from Wilco’s AM on here! I’m glad I never gave her a copy of Anodyne, otherwise I’d be in deep shite. I’d been meaning to give her a copy of March 16-20 1992 but can’t remember if I ever did. Now I’ve put on another one and there’s more Wilco! Now I find myself wanting to hear that demo of “No Depression” with Jeff Tweedy doing backing vocals when he was all of 18 or 19.

I’m going to try to finish a letter to my dad that I started a couple of days ago. I began writing it while listening to, ironically enough, “Goldfish & Clowns” and will hopefully finish it listening to…”That’s Not the Issue”?

”There are vampires in the park, Mawgojzeta”
|| Palmer, 9:50 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

22 December, 2004

A New Career?

Walking outside this morning, my warm breath clouded in the sharp and frosty morning. Having a smoky treat a little while ago, I just stood and watched the water vapor swirl atop Lake Monona. It was such a calm, peaceful scene that stood in contrast to all the traffic noise I heard behind me. Work is slow, as it to be expected.

Just I as proved my lack of ability with our new oven a couple days ago, I now find out that my proficiency with the calendar in Windows is lacking as of late. Miss Pamela wrote back to me about the Bondage for Beginners class saying that it was a Saturday and not during the middle of the week as I had surmised. Apparently I adjusted for the month but didn’t go to 2005. Ooops. I ended up doing my best (worst, probably) imitation of sex advice columnist. I can only guess at how to get a guy to become open to a little kink. Part of my response – and don’t ask how I mixed this in – concerned how I got to like “Ooops! I Did It Again” by Britney Spears. Well, how I got to like the song as done by Dick Thompson. So I use it as an analogy and now I can’t get the fucking chorus out of my head!

I put on this new album by Raslton, Carwreck Conversations, and I’m enjoying it. The first song, “What Kind of Friend”, is chilling. The sparse instrumentation, his lone, mournful voice – a really great song.

What kind of friend could I become
When the heart says kill and the soul says love?
What kind of friend could I become?
What kind of friend am I?


Steveie and I did some Xmas shopping yesterday and got Becca a TiVO. *Golem voice* Precious TiVO…. Personally, I don’t foresee me using it too much other than to record all the good speeches on BookTV that they show at two o’clock in the morning on Mondays.

OK, I’ve gotta go as NetMeeting is calling my name...
|| Palmer, 3:04 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

21 December, 2004

When In Doubt, Turn To A Knot

He feels she is eating him
by her demand to be eaten by him

Two people who originally
wished to devour and be devoured
are devouring and being devoured

She is devoured, by him being devoured by
her devouring desire to be devoured
He is devoured by her being devoured
by him not devouring her

He is being devoured
by his dread of being devoured
She is being devoured
by her desire to be devoured

His dread of being devoured
arises from his dread of being devoured by his devouring
her desire to be devoured
arises from her dread of her desire to devour
|| Palmer, 9:32 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
|| Palmer, 9:20 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
Tidbits

I deleted 3 blogs of mine so now I’m down to one. I still have a diary elsewhere but the site is annoying me. I sue Firefox at home but Internet Exploder at work and the site harbors all manner of spyware. I’m sick and fucking tired of making a quick post only having to spend the next half hour removing Bargain Buddy, 2nd Search, etc. from my PC. And so I’m seeking out a new online journaling community. Perhaps I ought just get back to writing on paper.

Next spring, Madison will be hosting CTHULU ONE. I shall try to convince my brother, Don, Andy, and Ted to make a trek up from Chicago for this. Reading about it has made me want to resurrect my CoC adventure. It takes place here in Madison in the late 1920s. The Caffeinatrix lent me some books of hers on the history of Madison and Monona so I could get photographs and a feel for the city 80 years ago. Like every Cthulu story, it begins with a murder. And, as is my wont, it takes place in a library. The victim is a professor and he’s been carved up good. The incision runs along those energy lines whose names I cannot recall from traditional Chinese medicine. (For those, I must thank Jolene for lending me a book.) This leads to an apothecary on State Street. Someone has a copy of the Necronomicon and is trying to summon the Old Ones, doncha know. I found out that Charles Lindbergh flew into Monona in 1927 after his trans-Atlantic flight – he’s a UW alumnus so he had some roots here – so the book will escape on his plane when he leaves. I’ve tied the Majestic Theater into it as well. Maybe we’ll play it in 2005.

I did not like Friends but would have watched it had Joey been a rapist.

I got the new issue of The Progressive today and it’s sitting here on a pile of magazine including last month’s Progressive that lie unread. I really oughta get on them.

Son Seals has died. And so have a score of U.S. soldiers along with some Haliburton contractors.
|| Palmer, 8:53 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
I Am Looking For Information

Happy Solstice everyone! Today the sun rose at 7:25 and will be setting at 16:25. Starting on Thursday, the refulgent orb goes to sleep later – at 16:46 that day. For anyone who’s inclined, head over to the Sunrise-Sunset Calendar and you can chart the course towards spring yourself. Also of note weatherwise is the fact that we got our first snow of the season that actually accumulated. Not that there’s much of it but the whiteness of the scene was a joy to behold. Much better than the dingy grays and browns that have dominated things as of late.

Through the stinging of the system
Wandering lonely as a cloud
Talking only in the open
Congregation is even now disallowed

I wonder if Wordsworth ever thought his poem would end up in rock music. This second IQ mix is pretty good so far. Not only do I get to hear “No Love Lost” but also all 20 minutes of “The Last Human Gateway”. A baby cries, another ghost…

I’m listening to a song from IQ’s Subterranea and pondering the storyline. I found a blurb from IQ’s keyboard player that helps: ”The story of the album is about a man who has been confined for an experiment and has therefore been isolated from our society. He gets his food provided but has no contact with the outside world (Provider).

At a certain point in time he is released by his capturer and emerges in our society, where he experiences things which are completely normal to us for the first time (Subterranea). He has to digest all these things (cars, buildings, television, etc) in one overwelming sensation. After some hard times among homeless and hobo's (Sleepless Incidental) he is taken in by a religious cult but refuses to be converted by them (Failsafe).

He meets a girl - this is probably 'Maya', who is mentioned several times at the end of the album - who gives him a name. He has a deep friendship/romance with this person (Speak My Name) but in the end she is taken away from him (Tunnel Vision).

Then he notices that he is being followed by henchman of the man who held him imprisoned for all these years. He captures one of them, forces him to reveal the name of the man who is responsible for his misery (Mockenrue) and kills his follower (Infernal Chorus).

The part of the album which starts with King of Fools and ends with The Other Side is rather vague and I haven't really got a clue what's happening here. All I know is that State of Mine is supposed to represent the protagonist on the run and during the second half of the album he tries to find this Mockenrue and take revenge. Along the way he realises that life in the outside world is much harder than his earlier, controled live (Unsolid Ground).

At a certain point he takes on a 'disguise' to be able to find out what's happening (Capricorn). Then he notices that he's not the only one with this experience; he sees other people who show the same mark/symbol he's been tagged with. Seemingly there are more subjects for Mockenrue's experiment (Somewhere in Time). The mark is the square IQ logo which can be found in various places in the CD booklet.

Mockenrue's victims decide to team up and take revenge (High Waters). The group ends up in a large building to which Mockenrue sets fire (The Narrow Margin). In the end the protagonist manages to get out of there alive (he's the only one) and realizes that he's just a menace to himself and everybody else and decides to go back into his confinement.

The story line is based upon Kaspar Hauser...a boy that showed up in Germany that seemed to be -wild- and never been in contact with people.”


You have got to find it humorous when a band releases a 2CD concept album and most of the band is in the dark about the story. Then again, no one ever accused Peter Nicholls of being normal.



At least he gets to dress up in leather masks and manhandle people as part of his job. I think this illustrates part of the problem.



The plan is for Stevie and I to brave the mall this evening to finish our gift buying. I realized as I was walking through the parking ramp this morning that I’d gotten so caught up in that stupid shit that I’d forgotten the giving that I really need to do: to charity. As always, I’ll give some $$ to WORT and the usual coterie of worthy causes but I also want to find an organization that I’ve never given to before. I don’t have the resources of a George Soros but, since our government is going to be fucking over lots of people in the coming 4 years, I thought I’d better find a new way to help. Right now I’m thinking I’ll give some money to Planned Parenthood. I just remembered – last year or perhaps 2 years ago, I can’t recall – I was donating food to the pantry at the Wil-Mar Center on a weekly basis for a while. I can’t remember why I stopped doing this. Was it money? Was it laziness? Or did I just get caught up in more “fun” things? Probably the last.

Part of me thinks I should write a 2004 retrospective to help map out 2005. But I really have to be in the right frame of mind to come up with something that makes any sense. Otherwise it’ll all be superficial blathering about the new jobs, the deaths in my family, Mel’s stroke, dating The Dulcinea, and blah blah blah. While these events are surely important, I’ve written about them before and would want any recap to give a different or fresh view as well as discuss other lesser things that happened over the past year. Or would having all the old thoughts compiled in one spot be handy? I do have another letter to my dad in progress, have more to say about Mel, and had a conversation last night that involved The Dulcinea that I’d like to expound upon.

hehe In a bit of irony, I was going to start writing about how The Dulcinea had once quoted The Tao of Steve: “We pursue that which retreats from us” when I check my email and find one from Laura. I haven’t yet replied to her lengthy missive, which she sent 2 or 3 days ago. So today she writes, “I hope I didn't scare you away with my rantings the other day.” Does 2 or 3 days of no email from a new online friend count as a strategic advance to the rear?
|| Palmer, 3:36 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
High Comedy

If you’ve never seen Alien, here’s the Cliff Notes version of it. As long as you’re watching videos online, go see what I want for Xmas.

Ooh! I've found someone to go to the AWT Bondage for Beginners workshop - Miss Pamela. Well, she's willing - we haven't figured out if she'll be free on that day or not yet. Now that will be high comedy.
|| Palmer, 1:10 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
New Harry Potter This Summer

LONDON (Reuters) - Christmas came early for fans of the fictional boy wizard Harry Potter on Tuesday, with news that author J.K. Rowling has finished the sixth book in series, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince."

The book, set to be published on July 16, 2005 in Britain, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, picks up the story of Harry Potter's sixth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as his evil enemy Lord Voldemort's "power and followers are increasing day by day," Rowling's publishers Bloomsbury and Scholastic said.

"I know you all expected this to happen on Christmas Day, but I was sure that those of you who celebrate Christmas have better things to do on the day itself than fight your way into my study, whereas those of you who don't celebrate Christmas would definitely prefer not to wait until the 25th," Rowling said in a message on her Web site (http://www.jkrowling.com/).

Shares of her UK publisher Bloomsbury surged on the news, up 7.5 percent to 294 pence at 1204 GMT. Scholastic, which holds the U.S. publishing rights, said the book will retail for $29.99.

The fifth book in the series, published after a three-year gap in 2003, made publishing history by selling 5 million copies within 24 hours. More than a quarter of a billion Harry Potter books have been sold worldwide in 60 languages ranging from Gujarati to Ancient Greek.
|| Palmer, 6:46 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
Ring Out Solstice Bells

Now is the solstice of the year,
winter is the glad song that you hear.
Seven maids move in seven time.
Have the lads up ready in a line.
Ring out these bells.
Ring out, ring solstice bells.
Ring solstice bells.

Join together beneath the mistletoe.
By the holy oak whereon it grows.
Seven druids dance in seven time.
Sing the song the bells call, loudly chiming.
Ring out these bells.
Ring out, ring solstice bells.
Ring solstice bells.

Praise be to the distant sister sun,
joyful as the silver planets run.
Seven maids move in seven time.
Sing the song the bells call, loudly chiming.
Ring out those bells.
Ring out, ring solstice bells.
Ring solstice bells.
Ring on, ring out.
Ring on, ring out.


~~~Ian Anderson
|| Palmer, 6:33 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

20 December, 2004

Internal Exile

In the spirit of our D&D adventure, which, if you’ve read my last couple of entries, you’d know concern a twisted individual linking man and machine, I present this article entitled “DNA For Information Processing and Data Storage”. Perhaps one day we’ll be able to put a DNA hard drive in our computers. If so, I would just have to have Giger do me a casemod.

It’s a bit nipply outside! Hopefully Stevie will have a fire going by the time I get home. God daily! I just checked out the calendar for A Woman’s Touch and there’s a couple I’d like to attend but have no partner to go with. Let’s see here...we have Sex Toys 101. I could learn all about the EverReady. Then there’s Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the G-spot, T-zone & Prostate. Yes, tell me all about my prostate and the stimulation thereof. Finally, there’s Learning the Ropes: A Guide to Bondage for Beginners. Tying myself up just doesn’t seem like it would work. Kind of like trying to get that last nail in when you crucify yourself.

And as you cross the wilderness,
spinning in your emptiness;
you feel you have to pray.
Looking for a sign that the Universal Mind has written you into the Passion Play.
Skating away on the thin ice of the New Day.

In my last e-mail to Laura, I described to her some rather important events in my life that happened in 1997 or thereabouts and failed trying to describe their impact on me. In addition, I wrote about some of the ideas in A Deeper Freedom which I felt important. She replied, in part:

”Another part of the collaboration/competition concept that I’ve been pondering relates to relationships and the roles that we play in modern day society. I’ve wondered if we as a culture are trying to find solace in tradition, especially the tradition of religion and how the roles of men and women are defined. Is the majority of society going back 30 years or more and living out a life that is more predictable, more “accepted”. It could be that I have been blinded over the years into thinking that society is moving forward, becoming more accepting and open to alternatives and individuality. Maybe we were, but current events might be affecting us in ways that are only now becoming evident (especially after exit polling in the last election).

A line from Fiddler on the Roof: ‘Because of tradition we know who we are and what god expects of us.’ It seems to me that people are seeking this out in record numbers. Is it because this culture is lazy? Willing to acquiesce to ancient traditions originally established to control the masses, because it’s easy not to contemplate alternatives? I just saw ‘Funny Girl’ for the first time, and was taken aback by Omar’s character leaving the relationship because his wife was more successful than him. I could have it all wrong, since I was in and out while it was on, but that seemed to be the gist of it. I’m wondering how much of that plays out in romantic relationships today? How much is competition a factor? Questions I wish I had the answers for.

I feel a little lost in my place in the world at the moment. What path I should take to be most fulfilled as a person? Or is self-actualization an indulgence?”


I think I get the gist of what she’s saying/asking but I’ve not really thought much about tradition in this narrow a manner all that much. I suppose I shall have to. I’ve generally been more inclined to think of tradition in a broader sense and what need it may or may not fulfill in people as opposed to the legacy of gender roles that history has bequeathed to us. I wrote quite a bit about the lyrics of a certain band that, in my view, argues that Western Civilization has lost much tradition and, consequently, is in trouble. Not only of people being personally dislocated but also of society at-large facing environmental catastrophe because of the loss of the concept of stewardship. Instead of seeing the environment as being in our care, we see it as something to be exploited. I tend to think that the proverbial God-shaped hole is, in fact, tradition-shaped.

Tradition is such a nebulous thing. I mean there’s just so much of it that we are forced to sift and winnow through it to find things that we can incorporate into our own lives. Much of it we wouldn’t want, say, like traditions that discriminate upon race or gender. But others can genuinely make our lives richer. I guess I’m not sure exactly what she’s thinking in terms of a reversion in gender roles. Is she seeing things differently than I? Or is my sight not acute enough to see the changes? As for people “seeking out what God expects of them”, I suspect this is more PR than anything. I don’t think there are more people turning to religion now. In fact, the poll numbers show the opposite. A good night’s sleep is needed before I make even the slightest bit of sense of this.

Tonight I start The Next Life and I’m really looking forward to it. 3 CDs worth of Doctor Whoy goodness. I’ve got cabbage rolls in the oven but they won’t be done for a while yet as I mistook the new oven’s ON button for an on button. Apparently I forgot step #2 so they sat in there for a while sans heat.

I’m really in a Paul Menel mood. I love how he sings “A baby cries, another ghost/A different side to claim the most”. And the opening synth part that sounds like a flute – it reminds me of “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun”. There’s just something so delicate, so fragile about it all. As if it could break at any moment. I just made me another IQ mix CD. There’s already one in my PC at work and it hasn’t left the CD-ROM drive in over a week. But I really wanted to hear “The Last Human Gateway”. I never did make that mix CD that I threatened a week or 2 ago but I’ve got some ideas. I wonder how listening to bits of Cyborgasm would do at work. Truth be told, I feel like making a really introspective and melancholy mix. It's like there's this part of me that feels guilty inside for not feeling particularly sad. As if I were overdue. Harumph.
|| Palmer, 8:44 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
Laid to Waste

I heard from the guy who’s supposed to be sending me that ’96 Tull show from Santiago, Chile. He’s been out of town on business so he’ll post it soon. I’m looking forward to hearing it. I’m still hung up on IQ. The Wake is such a killer album! I should really get the super-hoolie remastered version of it. Ralston is going to send me his new CD for review and I’ve got those two Celtic folk albums to review as well. Is it possible to have too much music? Ooh! Some details on Porcupine Tree’s new album, Deadwing have been released. Here’s the tracklist:

1. Deadwing
2. Shallow
3. Lazarus
4. Halo
5. Arriving Somewhere But Not Here
6. Mellotron Scratch
7. Open Car
8. The Start of Something Beautiful
9. Glass Arm Shattering

”Mellotron Scratch” intrigues me even if I’ve never heard a note of it. Perhaps it’s an extension of “Gravity Eyelids” in that it uses the old prog warhorse but also new, funkadelic elements as well. Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth and Adrian Belew of King Crimson make guest appearances. hehe I had this weird idea pop in my head involving Belew adding some elephantosity to a PT song. It would at least make the proceedings light-hearted. I mean, if you’ve got a guy from a Swedish death metal band playing a bit on the album, you know it ain’t gonna be all fun & games. There’s a smattering of tour dates listed but none for the States. Oh, I am anxious to see if they come to Milwaukee again. Preferably Shank Hall but I’ll take what I can get as the show in ’02 was just an incredible experience for me.

Have you read about that sick womyn down in Kansas City, Jesusland who killed a pregnant womyn and removed the child from her womb? This Lisa Montgomery is charged with strangling Bobbie Jo Stinnett and then slicing her open and removing the fetus. It happened in a small town and there was a quote from a resident about how he expected such things to happen in New York or Los Angeles but not their precious haven of good Jesusland values. I don’t know what the fuck he was thinking. I lived in a rural community long enough to feel comfortable extrapolating from my experiences into more general statements like: all manner of inbred fucked-up shit happens pretty regularly in small towns. Underneath all that neighborly cheer is a dark side. Often “small town values” is stained with xenophobia. Red staters break their marital vows and get divorced like people around the globe. There’s theft, fighting, and bloody murder too. Take Mayberry RFD out of your mind and envision Winesburg, Ohio. At least the little girl, Victoria Jo Stinnett, is doing well. OK, what the fuck is up with this “Jo” thing? (No offense, Billy Jo!) At least we urbanites have a little variety to our naming schemes.



The room was dark but smelled rank. Jander brought a torch nearer and I beheld the full horror. Along both sides of the wall were piles of corpses - some two dozen of them. They were the bodies of the Keep’s soldiers – barely men at age 18. The floor was covered in pools of blood and littered with entrails. Some of the men had been eviscerated while others were mere stumps missing as they were any combination of appendages. These men had been despoiled of not only their lives, but also their human dignity. No doubt their bodies were plundered for more heinous experimentation like that which befell that man in the other room. What foul creature could perpetrate such deeds which run so contrary to nature? And for what purpose? Despite the grotesque scene borne from the hands of one without conscience, I was determined to learn as much as I could about these infernal contraptions and their abominable maker.

My fellow adventurers fled the repugnance which left me to look about the room alone. I found no secret doors – only more death. As I turned to leave, I heard movement behind me. Looking over my shoulder, I saw 6 men crawling up from beneath the piles of corpses wielding swords. There was something about them that drew my attention. They seemed mindless and groaned as if they were one of the dead come back to haunt the living but their appearance was more normal. My attempt at turning them failed and I ran out to alert my companions. It took us a while but they were finally put down. I examined them afterwards and found that there were holes in the backs of each of their heads about 2” in diameter. My suspicion had been correct – they were not of the undead but human still, though barely. The holes must have been drilled to gain access to the brain whereupon some device was surely employed to sap the men of their essences turning them into yet more mindless apparati in the service of evil.

My mind could barely grasp the full horror of it all. Someone was violating the laws of Nature by marrying man and machine in the most unholy of unions.



I’m about half done with my Xmas shopping. Becca revealed that she wants a TiVO for Xmas and Stevie is keen on having me pitch in with him to buy her one. Not only will Becca’s desire be fulfilled but it would also contribute to the commonweal as all of us would partake in its use. I completely forgot to consult with Heidi on Friday night about buying Dogger & Mel a new dishwasher. I told Dogger back in September that, if need be, I’d make a house payment for him so he & Mel may well get two Xmas gifts. Little Miss Regan needs a nice home until she turns 18 at which time she’ll have to make do in Dormland. Fortunately, it hasn’t come down to that yet as Dogger hasn’t given any indications of being in dire financial straits.

Hey! Less than a month til Spamalot! I’m off to push the pram a lot.
|| Palmer, 3:35 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
Desecration and Blasphemy

Back in the arms of work. Ugh! Man, it’s really quiet here. Lots of people must be burning vacation time.

'Twas the day before Solstice,
when all through the office
Not a drone was stirring,
not even a something-or-other


It actually feels like winter now. Today is supposed to be relatively warm but it will cool down as the week progresses. Highs in the single digits, lows that are below zero. Luckily I have my Doctor Who scarf to keep back the cold. Thirteen feet of hand-knitted, warm, colorful goodness.

Holy bejeezus is ConsoleOne slow today! I mean, normally it’s a lumbering leviathan but today she’s even worse. Hey! Looking through my bag here, I see my Xmas present from Pete. He threatened to punch me if I didn’t say, “Thank you baby Jesus” before opening it. What I have here is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Deluxe 25th Anniversary Edition. The Illustrated Edition and in hardback, no less. The first third or so is dedicated to pictures and anecdotes about the series while the rest of the book consists of the novel. Marv too was given his gift: a copy of Complete Warrior. It was wholly appropriate as A) Marv hoards D&D accessories and B) our party can use the new info to kill, Kill, KILL! Speaking of which, we finally came up with a name for our band of merry adventurers. (We have 2 males and 2 females.) It’s only taken us a year but we did it. Ready for this? We are:

Crimson
Killbox
Consortium
& Concern

I think Pete may have gotten all fancy and used K’s instead of C’s but I cannot recall.

Yesterday’s adventure was quite eldritch in a very sick way. We’d cleared Darlan’s Keep of those brutish ogres and found a trap door in the jail which revealed stairs leading downwards. We were told before we took back the Keep that the leader of the band of ogre brigands who’d taken over the joint, Grimulak, spoke of “the ones below” and visited with them. Ergo this had to be the profane passage he used to go visit creatures unknown. We rested overnight and descended the stairs…

I got secrets then you know that.
You've got secrets I want to know about.
But if you want to know what I know
That you know then, we got to start talking

I have a few secrets and I dearly wish I could blather on about them here but, alas, I cannot. Nothing life-or-death, fortunately, just a bit of fear & anger along with a lot of sadness. One should be a secret no longer fairly soon, thankfully. As for the others, they’ll probably find there way onto these pages somehow. Perhaps not stated directly but they’ll be there. Kinda like a Da Vinci code – but different.

As we traversed the stairs, things grew immeasurably darker. At the bottom of the stairs was a short hallway. Following it, we came to a room whose inhabitants gave us the merest hint of what we would soon encounter. Unfortunately, none of us understood the clue. However, even if we had, it still would not have prepared us for obscenities that laid before us.

The room was occupied by six vaguely humanoid…contraptions. These…these…mechanical men, shall we say, were mishmashes of wood and metal. Broken pieces of floorboard, scraps of iron, cooking pans, and the like were conjoined and animated! I’d seen many an undead creature but never anything like this. Someone, a man or god I could not know, had somehow breathed “life” into debris from the keep. They did not speak but we heard the squeaking of metal on metal as they lumbered towards us. While we dispatched with them soon enough, I was left wondering if they had some form of intelligence for how would they know of our presence. They had not eyes or ears. More likely there was magic afoot. Their creator must have been alerted to our presence or perhaps we triggered something as we descended the stairs.

To one side of the room was a door. Juris and I listened carefully but could only make out a faint, rhythmic throbbing. It was too muffled by the thick oaken door to discern what it was. The door was unlocked so I made my way inside. My eyes were ill-prepared for the blasphemy that awaited. In the center of the room was a table upon which lay a young man – one of the soldiers of the Keep, no doubt. His eyes were wide open and staring blankly at the ceiling. His torso had been cut wide open and his entrails removed. They sat in a large bowl atop another table against the wall. In their stead was this hideous machine with valves that let out puff of steam opening and closing in rhythm. Cogs and springs moved in dark symmetry to keep this man alive against the will of Nature. He fell off the table with arms outstretched as if he were lunging at me. I helped him back to the table and started to investigate the foul machine in his chest when the rest of the party entered. Mystina, seeing the man’s condition immediately severed his head thusly ending his horror and also rendering his corpse unusable for any further experimentation by the devil behind this. I, however, had hoped to investigate the machine more fully and found myself irritated by Mystina’s action. There was so much to be learned amidst the depravation. Looking at the entrails in the bowl, I found them to be in rather good condition – the man had been eviscerated rather recently.

Two doors led away from this chamber of horrors. We listened at one and heard nothing so we entered and beheld a sight of such desecration and blasphemy that words almost fail me...
|| Palmer, 11:44 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

19 December, 2004

I'm Not Begging For Love, I'm Empty As I Am

It's colder than a well digger's ass outside tonight! I got home from gaming at Dogger's a little while ago and I'm preparing to cozy up in bed and the last episode of Doctor Who and the Pirates. I set a few downloads in motion before I left: the first 2 episodes of The Mysterious Planet, a later Colin Baker TV installment as well as The Next Life, an 8th Doctor audio drama. It completes the series of his trials in the Zone and will conclude the events surrounding Charley's extraction from time by The Doctor which has caused so many troubles. It all started back with Storm Warning released nearly four years ago.

Last night was a hoot over at The Pollack's. We cooked up a billion pierogi of 4 different flavas, bigos, and cabbage rolls. I also brought over a bottle of Chopin vodka. I'm not big on vodka but that was some tasty potable. Mr. Z and I kept our snifters good and lubed and he passed out before dinner was done. Even JZ had a little bit of it.

Tonight was a blast as well. The dungeon we crawled through was very interesting in only the most sick & grotesque way. Miss Regan was a boisterous little toddler. And thirsty too. For a while there, it seemed like she was pissing her pants every 10 minutes. You know, I find that everytime I go over there, the worse I feel for Mel. The shock of her stroke dissipated a long time ago. After that came the hoping against hope that Regan wouldn't lose her mother. And she pulled through. But now, after all the trauma, comes the realization that things will never be back to where they were...more later.

Also noteworthy this weekend was seeing Amy again. She came over today to get me and Stevie to sign her hoolie for getting on April's ballot for the city council seat in District 3. I volunteered to help her out in other ways, if I could, as well and I'm sure she'll take me up on it. if there are any other folks in the Third District who'd be keen on signing to get her on the ballot, please drop me a line and I can get some info about her to you and, hopefully, the sign-up sheet.

Finally, I got an e-mail from Laura today which included some interesting tidbits:

"I’m feeling a little uneducated, but I love that you are turning me on to these new concepts and music! Thanks, this is really great!"

"Another part of the collaboration/competition concept that I’ve been pondering relates to relationships and the roles that we play in modern day society. I’ve wondered if we as a culture are trying to find solace in tradition, especially the tradition of religion and how the roles of men and women are defined."

"I feel a little lost in my place in the world at the moment. What path I should take to be most fulfilled as a person? Or is self-actualization an indulgence?"

I'll try to answer her as best I can but that last one...not so much. It is odd that she brings up tradition considering it is something that I think about it a lot and was a theme of an essay I wrote.

We listened to Colassal Head while gaming tonight.

I get happy 'cause my life is good
I get laughin' 'cause I know I should
I get all happy 'cause my life is good, so good


Old Man Standiford is in town all week so I'm sure I'll spend some time at his place editing video and hanging out. Plus I've got to do some baking for a clutch of very important womyn in my life. And it's a short work week! Too much on my mind right now...
|| Palmer, 10:06 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

18 December, 2004

Gilbert and Doctor…?

I settled into bed this morning at around 2:30. I’d been over at Dogger’s celebrating Miss Regan’s first natal anniversary and we watched the Special Edition of The Return of the King into the wee hours. So I get into bed and put on episode 3 of Doctor Who and the Pirates. Now, when episode 2 ended, The Doctor was about to launch into song. Yes, into song. And so episode 3 begins with The Doctor doing a Timelord parody of a song from Pirates of Penzance:

I'm very well acquainted too with matters of the Capitol
I'll give you verse and chapter on Panopticon protocol
I've been to the Death Zone and played the Game of Rasillon
With pestilential monsters I got a lot of hassle from

And then the pirates sing the last line as a chorus. Oh fuck, did I laugh hard. As it went on, everyone got into the singing act. I couldn’t fall asleep as there was just too much mirth. I just laid there smiling. As the episode came to halt, though, things took a sobering turn. You see, the show is about Evelyn and The Doctor telling the pirate tale to a student of Evelyn’s, Sally, who is really grumpy and doesn’t want them in her apartment. We find out that Sally was in a car accident with her boyfriend and that he was killed in it. And thusly Evelyn and The Doctor are trying to cheer her up and make her realize that the man’s death was not her fault. An interesting touch to contrast the extremely happy with the extremely sad.

As I said, last night was Miss Regan’s first birthday. It was a small gathering and, unfortunately, Jennifer didn’t show. But the Noyds did and I had a fun time chatting with John about music and bootleg collecting. Marv, Pete, and Heidi were there, however, and, after Regan had her bath and went to bed, the lot of us watched The Return of the King. I loved the theatrical version and, unsurprisingly, loved the extra footage as well. Also unsurprising was that I found myself still wanting to fuck Cate Blanchett. Aragorn can have Arwen, gimme Galadriel any time. The battle for Minas Tirith was freaking awesome! I had such a blast watching it on the big screen and a lot of that excitement transferred over to the small.

Owing to Regan’s food allergies, Mel baked a cake sans eggs & milk and, honestly, it was pretty good. Regan got a jillion toys and whatnot for her birthday. Lots of Dr. Suess stuff and this music/reading hoolie that was a little table with buttons on it that made sounds. Marv and I assembled it and proceeded to play with it by ourselves for quite some time. And it was fun to see Heidi again. She a hoot and, being a nurse, is happy to explain any and everything medical to us dummies in layman’s terms.

Well, time to get my stuff ready and head over to The Pollack’s for PollackFest ’05.
|| Palmer, 2:11 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

17 December, 2004

Raving And Drooling

TGIF! Only 9 hours in this joint and then the weekend. Marv called me last night. One of Mel's friends, Heidi, approached him about some folks pitching in and buying Dogger & Mel a new dishwasher for Xmas. Of course I agreed and, since I acn afford to, said I could contribute more than the $50-100 that he was thinking as a per person contribution. As we were speaking, it occurred to me that today was Miss Regan's birthday - her first - and that there was to be a gathering at Dogger's. What do you get a one year-old girl for her birthday? Beats me. I suppose she'll have to suffer with some cash. But it should be fun. There will probably be around a dozen people there including Jennifer. I haven't seen her in months and she always has a funky nickname for me. Plus the Noyds will be there. John loves music as much as I do and writes for Maximum Ink so we always have a lot to bullshit about when we see one another.

A former co-worker of mine emailed me a little while ago asking me to call her and, being the obedient boy that I am, I did so. Much to my surprise, she told me that she will be running for our district's seat on the city council this spring. Warren Onken, a Republican, has been the district's alderman since the days when Pauly Shore was an MTV VJ and is stepping down. Time for a fresh, young lefty face. It'd be so cool if she were elected as I'd then know someone in government and could live my dream of being involved in payoffs, scandals, and the like. Stu Levitan could take my name in vain on the radio and Bill Leuders could do so in print. If I got drunk and crashed at her place, would that be cronyism? The Madison version of sleeping in the Lincoln Bedroom? She met with Brenda Konkel the other night so, if she runs, she'd have the backing of Progressive Dane.

I poked around an IQ website yesterday and one had the results of fan polls. What flummoxed me was how many people voted for "Corners" as their least favorite song as it's not only one of my favorite IQ songs but also one of my favorite songs ever. The catchy rhythm, the way the keyboards and sitar twist around one another - what's not to like?

And if we can still believe in tomorrow
Yesterday will disappear soon enough
When it seems impossible to remember
How the world could be so proud of itself?

I used to get really stoned in college and listen to the live version of it on Living Proof more times than I can recall. During those listening sessions, it was almost as if I could reach out and touch the sound.

Now I'm listening to "War Heroes".

For we are soldiers
King for a day
Mountains to molehills
Peasants for pay
People would cry
If they'd seen what we've done
But we'll be war heroes
When we get home

How timely considering the press about the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and reports of torture at Gitmo. And, unlike Al Jezeera, TV here in the states rarely shows the civilian casualties over in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The women were screaming
As we came through the door
But like people used to tell me
All's fair in love and war

Hell, we rarely get to see our own casualties - the men & womyn whose asses are in the crossfire. And now that Xmas is right around the corner, I get this feeling that most of us have all but forgotten them. As I was driving home last night, my car's radio blared with the news. There was nothing about our troops abroad and how they'd be spending the holidays as strangers in a strange land. In fact, all the Xmas-related banter was about shopping days left and Wal-mart's sales. The spirit of Xmas has a distinct green hue to it.

Hearing this, I had to wonder why there's such a lack of empathy in this country for our soldiers and the people we're trying to "liberate". Don't people ever stop and think about what sheer hell war is? Watching Control Room really got to me in many ways. One was just the visceral heartache I felt watching Iraqi mothers cursing the US of A after a stray bomb or bullet killed their child or children. To be sure, it plays on the emotions, but it also is part of the truth about what's happening in Iraq now and war generally.

Even if it's beyond your pale to have any empathy for the Iraqi people, how difficult is it to find some for our soldiers? I mean, don't folks ever meet veterans and hear what they have to say? I have a couple friends whose fathers were in Vietnam and those guys are absolutely adamant in not talking about their combat experiences there. Fortunately, there are other guys that will talk about the horrors that they survived. I had dinner with a friend's dad and his roommate, both of whom fought in Korea. At one point, Luigi broke down and cried as he told us of having held several of his friends in his arms as they died. Then he looked straight at me, the youngest of us, and said through his sobbing, "I went...we fought for you! We fought so you wouldn't have to!" His tone wasn't accusatory but rather one of disgust. What do you say to this? I think I solemnly said, "Thank you." School kids should be forced as part of their civics education to not only study The Constitution in-depth but also to go the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. Go see grown men breaking down and crying as their fingers shakily reach out towards a name inscribed on a black wall. Going to the wall was a very moving experience for me. It really drove home a lot of the history that I'd only read about in class.

I once met a Vietname vet at the Paradise. He was drunk and proceed, as drunks are often wont to do, introduced himself to me every minute. Each time he did so, he included that he was a veteran. Thinking that, if he kept reminding me of it, it must be alright to talk about the subject so I asked him questions. Rather perfunctorily, he said that he didn't see any combat but rather was a supply officer or something similar but that he had friends who were injured and died in combat. I then asked him if he's ever been to the Wall. "No," he said, "and I don't want to." The last part was said a bit forcefully. After I told him of my experience there, he started crying. By the end of the conversation, he had resolved to get together with some old Army buddies and go to D.C. and see the Wall.

This is not some Aesopian fable with an aphoristic lesson like "War is bad" attached to it. War is bad. It's really, really, really bad. So bad, that you cannot even comprehend just how bad it is unless you've been in it. I once asked a guy I worked with who was a Vietnam vet which movies he thought most accurately captured the experience. He said Hamburger Hill and Platoon were probably the closest. "But one thing that can't capture," he told me as if his mind were drifting back, "is the smell. The smell of the jungle, of napalm, of rotting flesh. A movie can barely scratch the surface of what it was like over there." And I believe him.

I feel stupid right now because I've written this before. Lurking somewhere in my archives is an entry about my father's quest to find a World War II veteran who'd served in the Pacific. My dad was an amateur WWII historian with a keen interest in the Pacific Theater. And Iwo Jima was the most intriguing to him of all battles. He tried for many years to talk to a veteran who had taken part in that battle but failed. He ran into one guy who claimed to have been there and told stories but my father never believed him because he was just too willing to talk about it. Too boastful. He ran into a few other guys who claimed to have been there but they were reticent about the matter. He believed that they had been there.

I just find it disgusting that it's the Christmas season - you know, that time when Christians celebrate the birth of the guy who got nailed to a cross for telling people to love one another - yet millions of Americans prefaced this time of year by voting for a man who harbors warmongers in his cabinet and says that this same guy with the love-thy-neighbor message also told him to go to war. You don't have to be a Xtian to indulge in peace on earth and goodwill towards men.

Once in a royal David's city
stood a lonely cattle shed,
where a mother held her baby,
you'd do well to remember the things He later said.
When you're stuffing yourselves at the Christmas parties,
You just laugh when I tell you to take a running jump;
you're missing the point I'm sure does not need making,
that Christmas spirit is not what you drink.

And I'm getting tired of seeing all these fucking yellow ribbons on the back of peoples' vehicles. Does a $5 magnet really assuage one's conscience that much? Do these people really feel like they're "supporting" the troops? Or are they merely imploring other to do so as they won't themselves? Perhaps they're just trying to be hip. You know, that post-modern irony thing. They don't like the war but put their sign of thanks to those fighting for oil on an SUV which is part of the reason for the war. Heck, maybe these people are genuinely thankful that our troops are dying so they can afford to drive gas guzzlers. If so, is $5 thanks enough? I realize that we're all part of the problem (& solution) but some people want to have their cake and eat it too. Conservatives are fond of chiding liberals for being overly idealistic. Yet they maintain that we can be at war, have cheap fuel, lower taxes, help the elderly with prescription drug payments, etc. all at the same time. This isn't idealism? I suppose not - it's the rich getting richer.

Through long December nights we talk in words of rain or snow,
while you, through chattering teeth, reply and curse us as you go.
Why not spare a thought this day for those who have no flame
to warm their bones at Christmas time?
Say Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow.

I'm so fucking tired of hearing about people whose greatest worry is getting their goddamn Xmas shopping done on time. There's this elephant standing in the middle of the American room that most people politely ignore: the fact that people are dying and no one really seems to know for what exactly. This is a picture of Army Pfc Rachel Bosveld:



Rachel was from Waupun, Wisconsin and was killed last fall in a mortar attack. She was 19 years old. And now her life is gone. And no amount of magnets or carepackages or flags waving from cars or military pomp & cirumstance is ever going to bring her back. No more boyfriends. She'll never watch another sunrise. It says that she loved to play the violin and draw. That's all gone. There will never be another drawing of a forest by her hand nor another sweet melody played by them. Her family and friends are no doubt devasted still. Whatever happiness she could have and bring to others, whatever contibutions she could make to society are forever lost.

So far there are over a thousand Rachels. Just because about 50 times more Americans were killed during the Vietnam War doesn't mean a thing. Aside from the remains of the dead coming back in bags, we have people returning home suffering from wounds and missing limbs. Let's not forget the Homer Parish's of this day and age either.

I've short-changed the Iraqi people here. Nobody really knows how many of them have died or been wounded since our invasion. Add to those numbers people who've emerged unscathed (so far) but have had loved ones killed or hurt and homes destroyed. Is it hyperbole to say that Iraq is now an engine of grief? Can we just write it all off as an act of tough love? It must be incredibly difficult to tell Iraqis who've lost their homes and seen their loved ones killed about geopolitics and engage them in a rational discussion of the realpolitik. Powell lied to the U.N. Bush lied to us. And it wasn't about blowjobs which led to marriage problems for the Clintons. It was about the existence of weapons of mass destruction and ties to Al Quaeda that turned out to be imaginary and invisible. These lies, in turn, led to lots of people dying. Bush probably didn't lie when he said that he turned to a "higher power" for guidance about the war. His delusions led him away from reality. This is exactly why I posted the link to John Erskine's essay over to the right. We are morally obligated to NOT listen to weird voices in our head when making life & death decisions that affect millions of people. This is certainly not say that Saddam Hussein's removal was a bad thing. Quite the contrary. Being against the war doesn't make you unpatriotic or anti-American. It's disheartening to read David Horowitz, who makes a lot of hay bandying those terms around. Here's something he wrote:

“When you are eighteen or nineteen years old and you are in Fallujah surrounded by terrorists who want to kill you, and you hear the leader of the Democratic Party who is within a hair of the presidency say you shouldn’t be there in the first place -- that does more than simply ‘confuse’ you. It demoralizes you; it saps your will to fight, and it gets you killed.”

Does he or anyone else believe the corollary:

“When you are eighteen or nineteen years old and you are in Fallujah surrounded by terrorists who want to kill you, and you hear the President say that there was faulty intelligence and change the reason why you're there -- that does more than simply ‘explain things’ to you. It energizes you; it magnifies your will to fight, and it helps keep you from getting killed.”

. Does Horowitz really believe that telling people to go fight because an evil person has WMDs and ties to terrorism and finding that the evil person has no WMDs or ties to terrorism is a nice morale booster? If you're going to be critical of the Left for its anti-war stance on the grounds that a malicious dictator was removed from power, then you must be equally vicious in your attacks (slander?) on Bush the First and the UN for not having deposed Hussein in the Gulf War.

To be continued…?
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