Witness a machine turn coffee into pointless ramblings...
31 July, 2005
And Then It Was Over
The Dulcinea asked me to be blunt and tell her that there was no chance of reconciliation, etc. Camping and the party in Chicago kept me from doing so until tonight. I wasn't comfortable e-mailing such a missive so I instead wrote her a letter. While I certainly don't mean to keep her waiting or any such thing, I wanted the words to be delivered in a more personal manner than with a generic plain text font in a browser window. Afterwards I balled my eyes out while listening to Onkel Fish:Sunsets on Empire
And then it was over and we took our applause.
We passed the peace pipe and thought no more
About the scenes that were missing, about the lines we had crossed.
And we smiled at each other and knew that the moment was lost.
I let you snuff out the candles, I let you blow out the flame,
And I knew that this time it would never be the same.
The smiles you had wavered, tears welled in your eyes
And I looked and I knew that this magic it was only a sign
For Sunsets on Empire it was only a dream.
I knew that it was broken when I heard you scream
I know you can't believe it. It meant nothing at all.
And we looked at each other and we smiled and the moment was gone.
Sunsets on Empire is this really the end
Sunsets on Empire left with a friend
Could have been a lover, could have been a wife
But when it comes right down to it all I want is a life,
Just a life.
You said it never mattered. You said it's just a thrill.
You couldn't beat it. Another bitter pill.
It never was a habit. A one off just for sure.
You never really thought it out but I hoped that one time
That you'd come back for more.
Sunsets on Empire that's where I am
Sunsets on Empire that's all we have.
To face a new beginning when you're so close to the end
And you looked at me gently and smiled,
Would you still be my friend?
You started to smile
Is this really the end?
Is this really the end?
Sunsets on Empire
The sun sets on Empire
Christ, did I ball like a little baby. It felt good, though. I think we all need to be hunched foetal and cry sometimes. It really says something about me that I waited until today to shed any tears over The Dulcinea though I'm not sure exactly what. There will be more at some point, I suppose, but for now I want to start looking ahead more than behind. Sure, there are some not-so good memories but there are lots of fantastic ones. Eventually my brain will get over this; it will put the memories, good and bad, in their proper places.
For anyone who hasn't read some of the previous entries, today was my grandmother's 90th birthday. I asked her, with her years of wisdom, what advice she had for me. Her reply had two parts: 1) live a healthy lifestyle and 2) find a wife and be happy.
The Motorway's Stretching Right Out to Me
Camping was fun, if short. Got hang out with Don, Jean, Michelle, Al, Holly, Elaine, Sue, Munch, Lucas, Madison, and a few others. It was nice to meet some folks about whom I've heard stories but have never taken their presence. Munch, for example, was explained to me at previous camping outings. And Elaine was the person who had busted Ted the Vegetarian at an Italian beef joint. Don, whom I've known in some capacity for many years, gave me the skinny on GenCon and got me all fired up for some Call of Cthulu action. Plus I got a new pocketknife to boot, courtesy of the next-door neighbor. Spent Friday night around the campfire with a beer perpetually in-hand and occasionally a bottle of Maker's Mark. In my drunken stupor, I was able to pitch my tent. This made me so happy, I took pictures for the naysayer, Ed. Yesterday we went out on Mirror Lake. My pale skin caught some sun and I took the services of a noodle which allowed me to easily float in the water with a can of Pig's Eye. There were many stories told including one by Jean to the kids. She told them a ghost story and returned to the fire and explained how she had appropriated Alfred Hitchcock in her attempt to scare them. To top things off, the drives up and back gave me some valuable time alone for road navel gazing.
There will be plenty more of that, I suspect, as I'm heading to Chicago anon.
The Internets has gone down. Presumably Charter is diligently working to bring it back up. Oh well - I guess I'll have to post this later.
29 July, 2005
I'm not sure if this bodes well for the day or not: I walked into work, sat down at my desk, and almost immediately had something thrown at me. I heard, "Palmer! Here's some lotion for you!" and, next thing I know, a little sampler packet hoolie was making its way towards my head. This, coupled with the ongoing routine about Ed's nuts (in this case, chipotle almonds & steakhouse cashews), made for an abrupt start of my work day. I never knew just how much homoeroticism pervaded this joint until I moved to my current desk a couple weeks ago.
I received an email from The Dulcinea yesterday. No words, just a song attached. For a Mac user, I found it odd that she would send me a .wma file. I highly suspect that it was intentionally done as a minor act of revenge. She obviously knew that I mistaken have WinAmp as my default player for wma files but don't have the codecs installed. So I have to play it with WMP which conventiently tells me that I don't have the proper license. Sooo I got to try and download it using my trusty Firefox browser which, of course, doesn't have some fucking Active X control installed which allows me to grab licenses from Microsoft. So I finally use IE to get the license and play it in WMP. Sheesh! All this trouble just to have a guilt trip laid on me. Why do I beg for such punishment?
The song she sent me was "Blue Light" by Bloc Party. I'd never heard of them. This isn't particularly surprising as she is a thousand times more hip than I could ever hope to be. (For instance, I'm listening to "Deadwing" by Porcupine Tree and trying to mime the guitar solo by Adrian Belew. Lots of air tremelo. And I presume I look very silly tapping imaginary strings ahead of the nut while making funny faces.) I looked up the lyrics to try to decipher her message. The first line to catch my attention was, "if that’s the way it is, then that’s the way it is”. Resignation? Then I read a part of the next verse: "I still feel you and the taste of cigarettes." Longing? In return I sent her an mp3 - a nice cross-platform, license-free file. While the song didn't perfectly sum up things between us, I felt it addressed a couple of them in addition to sort of expressing the zeitgeist
of my mind. Luckily her next e-mail explained "Blue Light". We exchanged a few more messages about matters of heart and matters avian. Sometimes I suspect that I express myself better via mix CDs than verbally.
As an aside on music, has anyone else noticed that some restaurant now has commercials featuring "Eat Steak" by the Reverend Horton Heat. Yeah, yeah, it's an appropriate song and all, but I wanna see a Viagra commercial featuring "Love Whip".
Last night was fun despite having a fuck of a time finding Sussie's place. Street names, people!! After much cursing and aimless driving around Janesville, I found it. Miss Rosie, The Pollack, Sussie, and his son, Tony, were out in the backyard chillin' over c-tails. We drank, ate, and shot the bull. Sussie made some quesadillas on the grill followed by some croppie. All very tasty. And Tony did a superb job as our Padawan bartender. The minute an empty glass hit the table, he grabbed it and was off to pour a refill. That little bastard started taking it easy on the sour with only the second drink. The convo was lively and not 5 minutes after I had arrived, the conversation turned towards toes. The Pollack has this thing about toes, apparently. He can't sleep with a woman whose big toes are shorter than the ones next to them. He looked to me for an amen but couldn only say, "Who gives a fuck? If the toes freak you out, then move up." He replied in typical food service-speak, "If the appetizer's no good, why would you wanna order a main course?" We then theorized about methods to get a woman with such feet to just wear socks - in the bathtub. Then somehow the conversation got to the point where I made the determination that The Pollack is a metrosexual. He explained that trusted the skin around his eyes to Oil of Olay and used the SPF15 version for when he knows he'll be outside for an extended period of time. Tony and I were the only ones who knew what a metrosexual is so it was up to him and me to explain it. And explain it we did.
Soon enough, dinner was served. The smoked chicken quesadillas were very tasty as was the blackened croppie. It's rather nice having friends that are or were cooks. The bourbon continued to flow and I decided to try to fix The Pollack's laptop. Outlook Express kept crashing as it downloaded the second message. Basically, msimn.exe died and nary a trace of its demise was recorded in the Event Log. I did the usual OE troubleshooting - .dbx files, the identity - yet nothing. Since I didn't have a Winders CD with me, I couldn't run the System File Checker. My plan is to meet up with him again next week and just hack the registry so I can reinstall OE over the slowest Internet connection ever. Fucking computers.
My little bout of computing over, I returned to the conversation which had migrated to The Pollack holding court and pontificating on how to land chickies.
IF YOU ARE A MADISON-AREA WOMEN BETWEEN THE AGES OF
20-50 AND GROCERY SHOP, PLEASE STOP READING NOW
He sang the praises of the produce aisle. "I'll take a produce aisle over a bar anyday," he proclaimed. He went on to explain, "See, you look for the hottie with the basket instead of the cart. She's got her quart of milk, her one banana, a can of soup - then you know she's single. So you go up to her, 'Excuse me, are these grapes good? How can I tell if this cantaloupe is ripe?' You've gotta play the stupid bachelor." This sent me into fits of laughter as The Pollack was a produce broker and head chef of the restaurant he used to own to boot. Apparently he had great success at the Piggly Wiggly in Sun Prairie using this method. And so I'm thinking of giving it a go. The problem is that I'm a terrible liar. I usually go with the basket and zoom around the store because I know what I'm getting and I used to be The Pollack's (and Kias') assistant so I too know about produce. I don't have cause to ask about the ripeness of something.
*Neil from The Young Ones voice* Guys...Guys! I think I'm gonna have to lie!
So I've got my work cut out for me: must practice prevarication.
The Pollack is heading to Lexington next month and I got him to agree to bring me back a bottle of Blanton's
. He said that it has supplanted Basil Hayden as his bourbon of choice.
Ooh! Lunch time! I'm off to buy a tent and look at canoes!
28 July, 2005
Kias Graduated From High School in 1979
If I can get through the next hour and a half, I think I'll be set. A bit after 11, I'm off to the offices of my contracting company for some training hoolie and then I'm going to run a couple quick errands afterwards. That'll get me back here close to 2 at which point I'm off like a prom dress to DOA for a unit meeting. After that, my day will be close to an end and I can bust outta here and get my arse to Janesville for Thirsty Thursday where I will be hanging out with The Pollack, Miss Rosie, and Sussie. Unsurprisingly, The Pollack's laptop has a problem so I've been called in to fix it. (It is probably more correct to say that The Pollack broke his laptop.) In return I am getting a snifter of Russian cognac which he acquired via barter and a cigar. Sussie has a bunch of bluegill that he caught so we're gonna do the fish fry gig. I talked to The Pollack a little while ago for the first time in ages. He was in San Francisco for nearly a month and got back yesterday. We spent quite a bit of time shooting the shit and catching up. I was pleased to hear that his dad is doing really well and has found a buyer for his condo outside of Milwaukee. Ergo, he'll be moving into The Pollack's place shortly. JZ is also doing well and enjoying his summer by camping, boating, and the like. And I haven't seen Sussie in many months nor ever been to his house so tonight will be fun. It feels good to have emerged from my early summer hermetic phase.
Ya know, I'm hungover, tired but working yet the guy across my cube wall is sleeping. I can hear his snoring as it's wafting over the wall.
I really didn't want to come to work today. It's not that my hangover is that bad but rather, as I was drinking coffee this morning, Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures
was on and I really, really wanted to hang out in that chair and watch the whole thing and then go rent Barry Lyndon
. I miss Uncle Stan. Dogger emailed me this morning saying that he thinks he retarded himself last night. While I was trashed, he was drunker than 3 barrels of shit. We went out for a smoke at one point and I hit a wall or two but he bounced off of every doorframe, wall, gumball machine, or what have you.
One hour left! The meeting was, well, a meeting. The training was boring as all references to the old process went right over my head. I've only been in their employ for a few months so any previous practices and issues are all a mystery to me.
Last night was fun and quite a few people showed up considering it was all last-minute. We met at the Great Dane to start things off. This location was Kias' idea and it must have never occurred to him that there was a Concert on the Square happening. Needless to say, parking was a bitch. But I found me a spot and got to the Dane to find Pete, Marv, Dogger, and Old Man Standiford there. I handed Pete the missive from my brother which gave instructions for him to give me noogies for each year of my life which he duly applied. Pete's present for me was The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead
. So if I ever chance upon any zombies, I will be able to suss out what to do. I've only glanced at the book but there seem to be many pictures of humanoid outlines with crosshairs over the head. The pitchers started flowing. Kias showed up and, while I was outside with Dogger and Marv, so did Claire and her friend Megan. As the night wore on, my co-worker, Steve, put in an appearance for a spell. Around 9, another co-worker and fellow GenCon roadtripper, Charles, showed up with his inamorata, Anastasia. She was a cutie and quite friendly. Honestly, I don't remember a whole lot except that I got about 50 noogies, various people who've known me for 15+ years telling sordid stories about me to Charles, and laughing myself hoarse. And I also recall raising a toast to Kias' recently departed mother. At some time after 9:30 or thereabouts, we mosied over to the Come Back Inn. I recall that Kias and I found the flavor of Fauerbach on tap there to be quite tasty. We split two or three pitchers before Standiford bought me a stein. I recall eating peanuts, going out for the aforementioned smoke with Dogger, and talking to Miss Hottie Nurse outside. I'd gone outside for a root and was standing there looking at the moon or something when this blonde woman talking on a cell phone walked up to me and then away talking. Then up to me again and then away talking again. Finally she hung up and asked for a smoke. We began chatting as we puffed. Much to my chagrin, Kias and Marv walked out after a while, "There you are!". They too bummed squares. So the four of us carried on. Nursie Dear proceeded to tell us that she had just called in sick for work the next day and felt guilty about it. She reiterated dozens of times that she had worked there for 8 years and had never taken a sick day and blah blah blah. Also thrown in was the fact that she had three kids and had recently turned 30 and thought herself over the hill, ugly, and the like. So of course we offered comforting words. I mean, she was hot. (And I think her name was Sarah.) I caught her staring at my chest a few times but am not sure if she was trying to read my button or simply amazed at how manly it is. She then proceeded to ask a few questions like where we were from and when we graduated from high school. For some reason, she asked Kias this last question about twice as often as either Marv or myself and it was firmly established that Kias graduated from high school in 1979. And so it went for fuck knows how long. She went in this circle of saying how guilty she was for having called in to work, talking about how awful it is to be 30, about her kids, about her brother with whom she was there and who was in town from Arizona or somewhere and then she'd start asking us when we graduated from high school, where we lived or were from and blah blah blah. She eventually wandered in and we weren't far behind.
I remember drinking more beer and eventually leaving. When I got to my car, I found something on the windshield. Removing it, I found it to be a copy of the new Onion. "How fortuitous," I thought. "Now I won't have to grab a copy from work." Well, this morning I looked at it and discovered that a headline had been modified to include my name scribbled in writing that looked suspiciously like Pete's. Another birthday done and gone. Only 364 days until the next one when perhaps I may take the Chili Princess' up on her offer of spankings.
Almost outta here. While I'm not looking forward to fucking with The Pollack's laptop, I am very much looking forward to that cognac. I can't drink too much tonight or stay out too late. I wanna have some time at home to get some shite together for camping tomorrow. And I'd really like to get another podcast up before the weekend as well. Plus I need to buy a buncha tickets. I hope to see The Living Canvas next weekend and hit the Ren Faire the weekend after that. The comes GenCon. Ooh! And I must get tickets for the More Drama affair.
I feel...I feel a mix CD coming on...All the king's horses and all the King's men
Could never put a smile on that face
27 July, 2005
Word of the Week
(kal-uh-pij'-ee-un) adj. having shapely buttocks
26 July, 2005
It nears 10 and I'm about ready to hit the rack after a hearty dinner and some great conversation. I made the Polish pot roast and had Marv's company. It was good to see him again as it had been a few weeks. He gave blood today and had a few beers after work so he arrived with an appetite. To tide him over, I busted out some of that strawberry jalapeno jam and spread it on crackers with cream cheese. Marv took to it like flies to fecal matter. Curiously enough, he knows the guy who made the jam they are both denizens of the Paradise Lounge. Marv and I shot the shit and caught up on things as I made dinner AND brandied those cherries. Yes, I stopped in at a store and snagged a few jars after work. Hopefully Lyle will have the rest of the jars for me tomorrow so I can polish off that last bag. I managed to pack 4 pints with 3 of them having brandy while the 4th was bourbonized. Good bourbon too. I'm gonna reserve that jar for special occasions. I have pictures buy am too lethargic right now to offload them from my camera. I also got a call from Pete tonight as he was wondering what was happening tomorrow night which happens to be my birthday. I guess we're going to head out for a few brews and perhaps cause some trouble. Finally, I think I've got a hotel room lined-up for GenCon. My friend Don is going to speak with his contingency's hotel reserver about a spare room. Plus it looks like I'll be doing some camping this weekend up by the Dells with some folks from Chicago. I hope to be able to get together with Miss Rosie before the weekend as it looks like I'll be out of town the whole time. And I've gotten a hold of Kias - he wants me to mess around with his new computer. So I'll be making a trek out to Cambridge next week to see The Finn. In addition, I emailed a bunch of friends to direct them to my podcast. I haven't seen or spoken to some of them in a while so it's time to get reacquainted. Overall, it was a productive day. I felt a burst of motivation and regained contact with friends, had the company of one, did some shopping, did some things I enjoy doing, and laid plans for a vacation and a camping trip.
I must admit that life slowed down a bit last month. At some point, I felt like I needed space; some time alone. I think that this feeling came to me shortly before The Dulcinea and I parted ways. I've had my time alone and I feel more gregarious now. I'm not sure why my brain needed some solitude but it did. I now feel ready to be out there again. The Dulcinea complained that her social circle was incredibly small. This was true enough and I think I felt burdened with being her social director or, at least, being the main component of social life. Such a role was not something I wanted but, in hindsight, I'm not sure that I ever had it so I don't mean my comments in an insulting way. Looking back, I think the great lesson to be culled from my time dating The Dulcinea is to accept things at face value. I think that I went into the relationship with a lot of preconceived notions and self-imposed parameters for dealing with a divorced woman with children. I don't really regret our parting and don't want to delve very far into speculation because it's fairly pointless to do so and all I know is that my heart wasn't into it nearly as much as my cock. But from where I sit right here and right now, I think that many of the insecurities I felt, many of the misgivings I had about the situation were the result of me consulting a chimerical guidebook on how to act without actually looking at the situation first. It was as if I took the advice of the book and molded reality around it rather than looking at reality and finding out what the book had to say about it.
I recalled earlier today some advice that my father gave me several years ago. I'd gone up to visit him and my stepmother and was preparing to head back home. My dad was drunk. While I don't remember the whole scenario and what precipitated his comment, he told me something to the effect that the only constant in life is change. Or that we are always changing. Something like that, at any rate. I think of this as the only paternal sagely advice he ever gave to me. Life changes whether you do anything or not, whether you notice it or not. When we feel lonely or when we are taking some time in solitude for ourselves, we don't notice the changes. But when we see that we're not really alone or we emerge from solitude, we can see all the changes that have occurred around us. Some are good and some are bad. Some minor while some more profound.
Each day this week has been very significant for me. I'll explain later but I will say that this week has been one of anamnesis so far. Yesterday was horrible as feelings I haven't felt in a while returned. And today was a great day as other different feelings returned. Right now, my mind is doing its thing to place the year or so that we spent together in the proper spot. But the mind works slowly, too slowly perhaps, so things still sometimes cut close to the bone. As time goes on, however, all those experiences and memories will be put in their proper places, their homes in my Memory Bank. Tonight I feel incredibly thankful that she chose to spend a year of her life with me.
On the Gramophone
This week we have some rap music all about computers.
Go listen to MC Plus+
. I think "Blunt Code" is a classic:I got mad hos and I got mad bitches
I'm coding in C
and I branch with switches
Java programming and C++
"Hi, homey - pass the Dutch"
Hey, any tune that name checks Alan Turing can't be bad.
I watched Cube Zero
last night. It's a prequel to the first two Cube
flicks which were good, especially the first one. For anyone who is unfamiliar with the series, they involve people who wake up trapped in a square room with hatches in the center of the walls, floor, and ceiling that all lead to similar square rooms. As the folks struggle to escape, they find that some of the rooms are booby-trapped and that the the rooms move periodically. The first flick was good. It was about the relationships and conflicts amongst people stuck in the Cube and portrayed their attempts to escape. Plus the ending was very open. The second film was very similar but had a bigger budget so the booby traps were all funky CGI and the ending a bit more conclusive but not particularly happy. Cube Zero
deviates from the formula and had a plotline about some of the people who control the cube. We see two men who sit at computers in a room doing menial jobs to ensure that the people in the Cube are awakened and that the "experiment" goes according to plan. I don't think it unfair to say that the formula had started to get stale so the producers mixed things up by taking the original concept and adding Brazil
. The office the two cogs work in is a mix of high and low tech. There are these supercomputers controlling the monolithic piece of technology that is the Cube yet records of people put into it are maintained on paper and stored in filing cabinets. Plus we have the whole office-drone-out-to-find-the-hottie routine from Brazil
as well. Thusly, the hook of the first two films is lost - we know why the people are trapped in the Cube and we also get a good idea of who runs the Cube. They traded the McGuffin away for a love story, is what it basically comes down to, and the film is all the worse off for it. It was just blase. With the mystery all but gone and half of it being a cheap Terry Gilliam/Marc Caro-Jean Pierre Jeunet knockoff, there's not really much to recommend it. If you've never seen any of the Cube
films, stick with the first one
Speaking of Marc Caro & Jean Pierre Jeunet, I watched part of Wimbledon
this morning. Sorry - the link is that Darius Khondji was the cinematographer for Wimbledon
and City of Lost Children
by Caro and Jeunet. Anyway, I love Khondji's work but I know he's gotta eat too. Now, I'll grant you I didn't see the whole thing but the cinematography was nothing special. In fact, the movie didn't appear to be anything special. It's a shame because directory Richard Loncraine did Richard III
which was awesome. Well, he's gotta put food on the table too, I suppose. And speaking of food, tonight is the night for Polish pot roast. Plus I think that Marv is gonna stop by for chow and to discuss coming along with me and Charles on a roadtrip - to GenCon
. Yes, Charles and I decided this morning to just do it. GenCon, for those non-gamers out there, is the super-mega-maxi-ultra gaming convention. There will be oodles and oodles of Dungeons & Dragons-playing, dice-rolling, sci-fi/fantasy-loving, H.P. Lovecraft-raeding dorks, freaks, and geeks having free rein over the city of Indianapolis for 4 days!! Plus there will be hot chicks wearing chain mail skirts and tops! All I really plan on is playing some CoC. I'll figure the rest out when I get there.
Back from lunch...Of course the rain holds off until my lunch hour when I go running about downtown. I got me some scented oil from The Soap Opera and then grabbed a Metro pass on my way back. I'm tired of paying the price of a barrel of crude oil everytime I fill up my car's gas tank. I might as well buy the shit wholesale and refine it myself in my basement. Plus I'll be contributing less air pollution and putting less wear'n'tear on the Cabalmobile. And so I'll be smelling all good as I take advantage of public transportation.
Bloody Lyle! He forgot my canning jars today! Sheesh! I'll have to go grab some after work. I've got a million pounds of Bing cherries in my refrigerator that need to be given the brandy douche and thrown into jars. I wonder if the Co-op has any...? Speaking of which, I've gotta get a hold of Downtown. And I saw Beth, Ronaldo's wife, there a few days ago. I must remember to email his swarvy ass.
Next month the Doctor Who audio drama Terror Firma
will be released. It's the first adventure with the 8th Doctor since The Next Life
from last December and I'm getting fired up for its release. So I've decided to start listening to all of the 8th Doctor programs again and am in media res
of Storm Warning
, which was very appropriate last night. The upshot is that I've got that Edwardian clothing bug up my ass again. And so I'm dedicating myself to a frock coat. A co-worker's mother-in-law is a seamstress and he said that she might be able to make it for me, time permitting. I've scanned the Yeller Pages for haberdashers and found a couple joints to approach. Next up are spatterdashes.
I bought some strawberry-jalapeno jam from a guy here at work and it is tasty! I think it's got the maximum amount of jalapeno in it that you can have before it starts taking over from the strawberry. Good stuff that lured Stevie away from his Adkins dieting.
Two hours left.
25 July, 2005
Here is a smattering of the search terms which have led people here:
"liz goldwyn +boobs"
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Now, I've run some of these searches and find that most of the time my humble blog comes up on like the 24th page. As if some joker can't find a picture of Kiera Knightly's tits anywhere in the preceeding 200+ pages. Now, "pussy bonspiel ash" has me totally flummoxed.
Right now I've got the song "Take a Pebble" by Emerson, Lake and Palmer playing on repeat along with a version of "Sheep" by Mostly Autumn. They're two completely different pieces of music. I've been listening to "Take a Pebble" a lot at work lately as well but tonight it just seems appropriate. As part of ELP's oeuvre, it's kind of unique. There's no synthesizers or manic organ runs. There's no electric guitar and there's no attempts to fit 40 drum fills in every bar. And it's very jazzy. Some great piano work alongside very melodic bass and understated drums. Carl Palmer uses brushes for much of it. The jazzy sections bookend an acoustic guitar solo in the middle which starts off most delicately but then speeds up to become a bouncy little tune that always gives me visions of sitting around a campfire. There's just something about the way the song starts off with some pizzicato work on the piano and slowly moves ahead over twelve and a half minutes. Unlike much of their later music, there are no ripping jams – things just sort of float along.
I've been sitting here futzing on the 'puter and occasionally playing air piano like that character on Sesame Street that would always mess up the song and bang his head against the piano's keyboard. In addition, I'm trying to figure out how to respond to a letter that a friend of mine sent me and which I received today. She's several years younger than me, lives in Ohio and we've never met. Still, I tend to think of her as a little sister. In her letter she ponders relationships, love, and marriage. "Maybe that's why I am afraid of marriage. I'm afraid of being bored and stagnant." She also asks me some very difficult questions: "Do you think that there are people that are married who actually are happier because of it? Do we just talk ourselves into commitment because of social and religious pressures?" Never having walked the Primrose Path, it is difficult for me to respond to her queries. Still, I suspect that there are many married people who are happy because they walked down the Path while there are others for whom wedlock has proven to be the antidote to bliss. And I suppose that some people talk themselves into commitment for reasons other than love. My friend is ever sentimental and I think she tends to see relationships as strictly falling into one of two categories: either they are the acme of passion & romance or they find one partner to be 0 and the other 10
equaling nothing at all. Of course, very little in life is so clear-cut, so black & white. Life is mostly an ever-changing gray, a hue in constant flux that shifts with the vagaries of life. I feel bad sometimes when she asks such questions and I have no definitive answers to offer her in return. Instead I give your-mileage-may-vary responses and do my best to explain why, to explain the infinite number of variables involved. This is especially frustrating when she asks me about a man she's dating as I've never met her, let alone met any of them. How shall I pass judgment upon such men? How could I ever reach fair and valid conclusions?
Her letters are also frustrating, at times. She claims to know the "real" and "true" me. While she has made astute observations about me and I've been open and honest with her, I don't think she knows all. For me, one cannot really, truly "know" someone unless you've have met the person mano a mano
. To be sure, one can know a lot about another person that one has never met but genuine knowledge of a person requires spending lots of time with him or her - by hearing their voice, seeing facial expressions - feeling their presence as well as being able to communicate spontaneously. Erasmus observed several centuries ago that we all wear masks. ( Now what else is the whole life of mortals but a sort of comedy, in which the various actors, disguised by various costumes and masks, walk on and each play their part, until the manager waves them off the stage?
) On some people, the mask is rather thin and translucent while others have a thicker, more opaque façade. In each case, though, one must have face-to-face contact in order to see behind the mask. For the former, such contact allows the details to be seen through the diaphanous veil while the latter case requires more work, more contact. Either way, though, getting through the guise to what lies underneath takes time and contact in the flesh.
There was a time in my life when penetrating those veils and peeking behind people's masks was very important to me and something I actively sought. I think I came to view people as palimpsests with layers upon layers behind each mask with a bit of the previous faintly visible behind each one. Eliot's hollow men make for good metaphor but we are all stuffed. While I'm not positive, I think this disposition left me in the middle of a relationship I had with a woman whom I dated for two and a half years or so. I'm not sure why but my best theory is that it made our relationship easier. Of all the people to try to get to know really and truly, a significant other is a prime candidate, no? She resisted and, as our relationship fell apart, I fell under the notion that it was best to disengage from her in order to ameliorate the situation. Trying to see behind the mask is difficult enough but, when there's active resistance, it becomes a Sisyphean task. And I don't think I've ever really tried since.
"Sheep" is wonderful too. I've always admired how Pink Floyd threw in a little punk here – made some of the stuff on Animals
a bit harder-edged. It's not punk by any means, though. The song is nearly 10 minutes long and has slower, more moody sections contrasting with the faster bits that have the pounding drums and slashing chords. Compared to this, most of their next album, The Wall
, seems positively anemic. The gloominess and aggression of the song also appeals to me this night.
There were several times when The Dulcinea and I were having sex that she told me that I was thrusting too hard. There was also one time which, she later revealed, that she actually felt a bit scared of me as I towered over her mindlessly fucking. She said that we should talk about that night but we never got around to doing so. To my recollection it was just me getting caught up in a moment, lost in a routine of harder-faster but, to her, it was something quite different and frightening. Looking back on the incident, I am reminded of "Digging in the Dirt" by Peter Gabriel – "Something in me, dark and sticky". Something I feel in my sex. The thing is, I don't recall ever having felt anger at The Dulcinea.
Of course my manic thrusting could have been due to something wholly unrelated to her. But what? Perhaps I am too distanced from the events to ever figure it out. Or perhaps for time and thought is required for me to be wise after the event. Only time will tell but I still ponder whether there is really, truly is something dark and sticky inside of me that manifested itself that night.
This comes to mind because someone asked me about what happened between The Dulcinea and me. There was no prying – it was just a general question: "What happened?" And I gave a general answer. Unfortunately, it set my mind off on various tangents that I'd rather it hadn't. There is a saying that goes, "Divorce is a mere continuation of marriage by other means". While our relationship certainly was not on par with marriage, the afterimage remains. When I combined the aforementioned conversation with the email I received from her last week in the blender of my cranium, I began pondering what it was that she wanted to communicate to me. While I'm reasonably certain about some things, others remain pure speculation. I know that she longs to tell me what a cold bastard I am, for instance. It's a familiar refrain and is now the je ne sais quoi
of the end my relationships with women. It makes me wonder if that was a mask I wore specifically for her or whether that's what is behind the mask. It seems impossible to have a lasting relationship with such a disposition. If I don't drive the woman away, then of what worth could a woman be if she were willing to accept it indefinitely? Another hallmark of the end my relationships with women is that I never seem to say what I really want to say. This is probably why I replied to The Dulcinea's email. It was my way of saying to her, "I held my peace but feel free say your piece". It's enormously frustrating being this way and I never seem to get used to it. While I'm not sure what I would have said (hindsight is not perfect), I wish I had said something. Maybe if I'd have extemporized then I would know more about that dark and sticky something inside or whether it was all a mask or not.
As you can see, my friend is turning to the wrong person when inquiring about life and how to live it. I have no words of wisdom for her, and judging by many of her reactions, very few words indeed which can be of much consolation. Yet asks she does.
Holy fuck-shit! Old people fuck quicker than the rate at which this day is going by. At least I'm past the midpoint on this journey.
I had a conversation a little while ago with a co-worker, Lyle, and he's willing to part with a few pint jars, much to my delight. Why? Because my newly-acquired book on canning includes a section on preserving fruits in spirits and the Jenifer Street Market has a hoolie on Bing cherries so I'm gonna preserve their little pit-laden essences in some bourbon. Or brandy. Or rum. I'm not quite sure which flava I'm going with yet. The process is easy enough for even a wretch like me: take clean jars and fill them with cherries, sugar, and hooch. Seal and store in cellar. Then in a couple months - BAM! We'll have cherries to kick some ice cream up a notch. In addition I must procure a respirator or gas mask or an aqualung in preparation for making hot sauce. Last time I did so, I sent capsacin-laced clouds of steam through the house driving my roommies into fits of crying and coughing. You can imagine the damage it did to me as I hovered over the stovetop chanting:"Cayenne of pepper
and vinegar of white, hot sauce I make this night
Double, double toil and trouble
Fire burn and saucepan bubble"
Also in a culinary vein, I plan on making that Polish pot roast at some point this week but I dunno when. It was to have been cooked yesterday but Becca got off of work early so we headed out on Lake Mendota where we dropped anchor out in front of the Governor's Mansion and promptly inflated the Party Island. We didn't have a whole lotta time but there was enough to enjoy a few cocktails and catch some sun. To get back from whence I started this paragraph, I had planned to make it tonight but Becca and Stevie are apparently extending their weekend away from dieting so as to enjoy pizza imported from Portage tonight. So perhaps tomorrow.
This week I intend to finally get my ass around to letterboxing. I'm fearful that the one I chose to find has been found already as someone Googled the directions to it which were in Latin and were posted here on my blog conveniently pre-translated. I suppose that my trek and cooking venture will depend upon whether or not I do any tutoring this week. My student has been worked like a dog at his job and has been too tired for lessons. Plus, last week a friend of his fell ill and he drove the guy to the emergency room. Hopefully Thunderbirds are go for tonight as I've got my new & improved flashcards decorated as they are with funky clip art courtesy of Microsoft. It was a bit of a struggle to get the cards made as I found that, when I tried to open the Clip Art gallery, I'd get an error. I figured out the solution fairly quickly (needed an MDAC upgrade) but was reluctant to execute the necessary reboot as I had a precious download in progress. (For anyone who may be wondering, yes, this was the first time I'd attempted to use the Clip Art in the nearly 2 years I've had this incarnation of Office.) But the gods of IT were on my side and I was able to get the cards made and printed.
Curiously enough, I received an e-mail from The Dulcinea a few days ago. It reads:Hi Palmer [there are so many names for you in my life, you are like the proverbial 'snow' for Eskimos],
Trying to exorcise a demon with this email, I think.
Forbidden fruit is always so sweet.
Not writing to say anything, really, just writing to have done it.
A lot I'd like to say, but now isn't the time. Later, maybe, next month, next year.
And so begins the long, tense period of waiting for her next missive. I am rather hoping that she will wait until next year so that she'll have something other than a littany of complaints. Presumably by then she'll have another boyfriend who is a much better person than I am, be happily in love, and write much less nasty things.
Ooh! This bit from a review of Adrian Belew's new album, Side Two
, makes me want to run out and buy it:And finally, the CD winds up with Sunlight, easily the best thing I’ve heard from Mr Belew so far in his Side series. Imagine a rave backbeat version of Tomorrow Never Knows accented with Oriental strings, percolating keyboard runs, Lennon-McCartneyesque quarter-tone background harmonies (circa Revolver) and that acidy trademark par excellence, the backwards loop! Somehow, it all hits you like sunlight itself: it’s a golden bouncy shiny foot tapper.
Dave down at Mad City had better get this album in soon cuz I'm gonna be heading down there at lunch one day this week.
Alright. I'd swear there was something else upon which I had intended to blather but I cannot recall what the hell it is. Oh well. It's probably a good thing as the super-climax of "Russia on Ice" is about to start. You too can hear it by going here
, downloading the show, and fast forwarding. Or you can listen to the whole nine yards.
Prost Gotvins Geometri – Part 8This is Prost Gotvins geometri by Gert Nygårdshaug. The translation was done by Roy Johansen. Nygårdshaug is a Norwegian author and the text has not yet been published in English. Roy is a friend of mine who recently moved back to his native Norway. He has translated a good part of the novel and I'm trying to convince him to finish it.
Here’s Part 7.Father Gotvin's First Journey (continued)
This role felt foreign to me, but now, long afterwards, thinking back to all this, I cannot but admit that I also felt free. Strangely liberated, this feeling of freedom was what would carry me on, what would give me the strength to see it through, this, my first journey. But this new role did feel foreign and I did not recognize myself. I had never been what one would call a rebel, an insurgent. My views on certain religious matters night have been liberal, but in no way controversial or offensive. In the interpretation of God’s word, as it spoke to us and encountered us in the Holy Scriptures, I have always advocated the immediate
as an instrument for the kind of preaching that is intended to reach people. For me, the Scriptures have had the function of bearing testimony inspired by God about the Word of Life, the totality of Jesus Christ, head and body. I had always considered the Scriptures to be what they purported to be, and in my faith, as in many others’, this had come to mean this: understanding the texts as testimonies from the Holy Spirit delivered through people about Yahweh’s bond with his chosen People of the Covenant. And, in the highest sense, about the fulfillment of this covenant in the divine-human co-immanence in the person Jesus Christ, although I wouldn’t have minded seeing the Israelites of our day squeezed out of the occupied Palestinian territories. In that sense I had been, and am, in staunch opposition to the views held by most men and women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Norway, but in this matter I had never fallen into the same trap as the Alexandrines, who had rejected the dual nature of Christ. For only through his dual nature were his miracles, the Catholic miracles, possible, and only because of this was I, still with a certain dignity and with a feeling of being on safe ground, able to assume the role of investigator.
I found a park.
I sat down on a bench in the shade of a big tree.
Until now, I hadn’t taken the time to study the town, the people, and the nature. Santiago de Compostela was a beautiful town, that had to be admitted. But why were so many people wearing black? Around the town were vineyards and fertile fields. Everywhere there were stands offering the most delectable fruits and vegetables, but it was the smells, all the unfamiliar smells that made the strongest impression. Despite not being well-traveled, I had read quite a bit, seen films and pictures, but the fragrances were totally new to me. Some places were pungent and strong of varieties of citrus, while others heavy and sweet of the olive family. The houses were white and there were flowers everywhere. The Fields of Stars – the description struck me as appropriate – but didn’t it rain often in this area? I had read somewhere that the area was also called El Orinal de España
, the Urinal of Spain. What did it look like when the apostle James brought the gospel here? The Holy Iago, he was a fisherman who devoted his life to evangelizing, but the Spaniards had known how to employ his strength and commitment in fighting their own enemies. Time and again throughout history, James had materialized, descended to Earth, and helped the Spaniards. He had been observed riding alongside the Spanish army in the heat of battle and King Ramiro I swore that Holy James had played an active part in the battle of Cavijo in the year 844 where the saint single-handedly had butchered about sixty thousand Moors and, over the next six centuries, the fisherman apostle from Galiliee is supposed to have participated, armor clad, in more than forty battles earning him the name Matamoros
, the Moor Killer. That’s how it was. He was even supposed to have made appearances in the New World where he assisted the conquistadors in the slaughter of a handful of Indians. Thus had James evangelized his way through history as a virtual Rambo. This fact was unfortunately impossible to overlook. I had already seen several statues in town depicting the Holy Apostle in full knight’s attire. This was the Catholic faith and conviction and the Catholic Church represented a significant portion of Christendom.
I felt shivers and murmurs under my breastbone thinking these thoughts under the tree in the park, a few hundred yards from the cathedral and the undercroft where the apostle’s osseous remains were kept as the third greatest sanctum of all those administered by The Vatican. “Dear God,” said the voice inside of me, “let not this darken my soul. Let it not create obstacles. Are Catholicism and my faith really two substances fighting each other?” St. Augustine came to my assistance: "Let them no longer assert that, when they perceive two wills to be contending with each other in the same man, the contest is between two opposing minds, of two opposing substances, from two opposing principles, the one good and the other bad."
You are right, venerable Augustine, it’s not like that, it cannot be as simple as that. We are one flesh, one blood. We are one big family with different views on God the Almighty Creator’s complex modes of manifestation, but perhaps you were right, Magnus Stormarkbråten, I should have not started this journey.
The tree above me.
The green branches reaching out.
High up there, the top.
I suddenly felt like climbing it.
I took hold of a branch right above the bench and easily pulled myself up to the trunk, then I started climbing cautiously, intently. What kind of tree was this? The smell was unfamiliar, the leaves small and heart-shaped, but the tree was tall – very tall. It made me think of a primitive tribe of New Guinea, the Korowai people. I had just read about this tribe – in a book? A magazine? Exotic cultures have always fascinated me. The Korowai live in houses built high up in the tallest trees they can find to get as close as possible to their gods and their gods are the airplanes of modern civilization. Planes that from time to time pass overhead. Over the last fifty years the Korowai have regularly seen airplanes, gods that hey started to worship and eventually they moved their houses up into the trees. In earlier times they used to live on the ground like everybody else, but now it had become imperative to get as close to their gods as possible.
I was climbing. Was I climbing to get closer to my god? Had I become like the Korowai during my short meditation on the bench below? Unlikely. I was propelled by an indeterminate power and the skills from childhood were still there in my body. Innumerous were the crows’ nests I had looted for eggs as an eight year old. I had even found a crow chick. I adopted it and baptized it in a solemn ceremony, to my father’s deep despair. Andersen the Quack was the name of the chick and it died after a week because it refused to take nourishment. The branches were getting thinner. Hadn’t I reached the top and the grand view? The view of this town, the view of Catholicism, the miracle-fields of Christianity. I, the investigator, would go all the way to the top, would feel freedom like I never had before. "Careful now, Gotvin," I whispered to myself. Korowai, Andersen the Quack – two will contending within the same substance. The tree was swinging. I was almost there. Two more twigs. I stopped and looked down. A not insignificant number of people had gathered in the park below and they were all staring up at me, pointing.
I lifted my eyes and looked around.
Toward the mountains on the horizon.
The I shouted as loudly as my voice was capable of, out across the Field of Stars: "Lucienne Lopez! Lucienne Lopez!"
24 July, 2005
Muriel Gray Lays It Down
Muriel Gray lays the smackdown on religion in an op-ed
in today's Sunday Herald. The key bits, for me anyway, are:The defence of any attacked faith is always to say: “You don’t understand our religion.” It’s considerably more likely that those defenders of their rrational beliefs have failed to understand Montesquieu, Hume, Rousseau and Diderot. The tattooed drunken morons attending an Orange walk are hardly theologians.
Since these are dark days, it’s time to stop all this polite tiptoeing around religion and harden up accordingly. Our elected leaders constantly bleating their respect for religion is not political correctness but a public declaration that intellect, tolerance, democracy, reason and enlightenment are of less value than dogma and delusion. Now’s the moment for a clear, definite, distinct line to be drawn between state and religion, one that defends the individual’s right to follow whatever ideology he or she wishes within the law, but also firmly declares and vigorously defends our collective ideals of gender equality, respect for differing sexual orientations and reinforces the message that there is no room whatsoever for the supernatural and the irrational. No bishops, mullahs, Presbyterian ministers, rabbis, or Scientologists should be gifted special hearings at Downing Street, but should confine themselves to wielding their power and freedom as the rest of us do, namely as ordinary voters, and the state-funded faith schools that shame us all with their manipulation of young minds must cease.
Denouement of a Day and a Look Ahead
When I got home, Stevie, Becca, Cheryl, and Brian were hanging out in the den. The weather hadn't allowed for boating so they were chillin' with some cocktails. I joined them and we basically shot the shit and drank for a few hours. Brian and I chatted about multimedia and computers for a while and then I found out he, Cheryl, and some friends were going to be hitting the Bristol Ren Faire next month so I may meet up with them. They are both really into Renaissance history. In fact, their wedding had a Renaissance theme. At some point, I got tired of sitting on the floor because there were no seats left and the pills were wearing off while the rum & cokes I was drinking were kicking in so I hit the rack.
Today is supposed to be a scorcher. It is to hit 97°F with a heat index of something like 112°. I think I picked the wrong day to cook inside. I am planning on making Pieze? Wo?owa Duszona
, which is Polish for beef pot roast. I am also planning on doing the variation with sour cream and pickles. We'll see if I decide to grill something or just eat a salad. Regardless of what I actually prepare today, I really do need to go shopping. It seems like my diet the past week has consisted of little more than Indian sweets and I'm out of barfi and down to a few of these peanut ball hoolies the name of which escapes me. There are also a couple other things on my to-do list which I didn't have time for yesterday so I should get on those. That means I have a letter to write, must call my mum, get laundry squared away, do some reading, listen to some CDs to review, and who knows what else.
Why the hell am I up so early? At least I don't really have a hangover.
Yesterday was productive and fun. I spent most of my morning putzing around and pondering whether or not we'd be able to go out on the lakes with the impending weather. It was cloudy and there were green and yellow bits all around us on the Doppler radar. I got some laundry going and a bit before noon I headed out to run errands. First I stopped at a bookstore (bad idea) to grab a new Polish cookbook. The one I own is fine but it's a thin volume and I wanted something with more recipes and perhaps even some culinary history. Having found a suitable volume, I figured, "What the hell – why not get a book on canning?" So I snagged one of those as well. Walking to the cash register, I looked at the precariously placed cheapie shelves and found that they had a buy 3-get the 4th free sale going on so I started perusing. Unsurprisingly, I came up with four books:Master and CommanderRise of the VulcansBush at WarIBM and the Holocaust
And so I walked away about $70 poorer. From there it was off to get some shirts for work. I had bought three not too long ago but ruined two of them. While I suspect the spots were from coffee stains, I cannot be sure. What I do know is that they seemed fine one day and the next thing I know I'm pulling them from the dryer and the fronts are littered with enough spots to them looks like they were made for cheetahs. I just don't know what the hell happened to them. So I tacked the aisles at Target until I got to the men's clothing section. Wandering around, a couple signs caught my eye: 30% Off and 50% Off. I found some completely nerdy looking plaid shirts and quickly snatched them up. Some of the items just were so ugly that even I wouldn't wear them and I pondered what guy in his right mind would. I mean, I'm not fashionable, to be sure, but I just don't understand how any 21st century man could find ochre an attractive color. The 1970s are gone and best left that way. Realizing that most of my tube socks resembled Swiss cheese, I also bought a pack of those. In addition, I snagged a couple pillows as well seeing as how mine are old, unfluffy, and stained. After blowing another $70, it was off to get a haircut.
Paul seemed to be in a good mood. There was a guy getting a trim so I had to wait a little while so we BSd. I noticed that Paul had moved stuff around so now the chairs for folks waiting are all on one side and there a coffee table with magazines. Plus he had put up some framed posters which detailed the working of the mechanisms of the AK-47 and a couple other assault rifles. Paul, you see, is a champion of libertarianism and guns. He collects them and seemingly always has one disassembled in his shop that he's cleaning or one whose stock he's staining. When it came time for me to get into the chair, he put on the first episode of Space: Above and Beyond
. Paul is a bit sci-fi fan and downloads such TV shows constantly. It was bad. Really bad. Like a poor knockoff of Starship Troopers
. But I suffered through it and through Paul virtually eliminating my sideburns. Why he insists on shearing them so short is beyond me. When I walked in, I really had no idea as to how I wanted my hair to look so I basically gave him carte blanche to do whatever he felt like as long as it was short. It came out reasonably well, I suppose. I must admit that I really don't give a flying fuck how my hair looks as long as I don't have to mess around with it. With my new hairdo, I took off for home.
Arriving with my hands full, I found that Stevie's friend Brian was there with his wife Cheryl. It was nice to see them again as they're both really cool. We made some small talk and then I prepared a spot of lunch. Still having leftover pork, I made a sandwich. I toasted a couple pieces of rye bread and slathered some garlic jelly on one. Then I layered some pork onto which I put some sour cream and jalapeno slices. Oh man! It was tasty! I mowed it down and had a piece of chocolate-covered barfi for dessert. It was nearing 4ish and I wanted to get to the Club Majestic for the burlesque show a bit early as to not be left standing in back. But first I had to rinse whatever gunk Paul had put in my hair.
I got downtown a bit after 4 and thought I'd stop in at a coffeehouse before going in but, to my surprise, there was a line already so I jumped in at the back. The doors opened soon after and I hustled inside. It was the first time I'd been in there since it became a dance club. The Majestic was built in the first decade of the 20th century and hosted vaudeville shows and the like before becoming a movie theater. A few years back it closed but was reopened fairly recently as a club where people can take X, listen to techno, and shake their bums. Walking in, I was handed a program by one of two fine-looking ladies. Taking in the theater, I immediately thought of A Clockwork Orange
and expected Billy and his boys to drag a naked woman kicking and screaming onto the stage. The place looked OK. It had retained much of the old look while acquiring a bar, spot for a DJ, and various lights and such that clubs have. The seats right in front of the stage were reserved so I grabbed a seat in the middle. I proceeded to pop a few truck driver pills and get a gin & tonic. The audience seemed to be mostly women. There were several groups of 3 or 4 them scattered about the place. There were also a lot of couples. While I won't hazard a guess as to the median age, I was definitely younger. It was the early show so perhaps it is to be expected to have the more middle aged crowd attend and the younger folk go to the 9 o'clock show.
The show started at 5 with the house band, The Cherry Cordials, coming out and playing a bit of music to warm us up. Then the host, Lonnie Tiburon, came out and did an introduction. He was followed by Jewels of Denile, a member of the Mad Rollin' Dolls
, who would be swapping out the placards with the names of each routine from an easel at the side of the stage. The first bit was a rendition of "Fever" by Cherie D'Amour with her two boys, Ricky O'Toole and Boy. It was quite humorous. Shiva's Gifts was next and involved three women dancing to "From Rusholme With Love". They did the whole bit where they stood in a row and held their arms out. Strip Fu was a funny routine. It involved Lola Martinet and Pixie Valentine going at it. They wore karate outfits and they moved their mouths while dialogue completely out of sync with their lips was piped through the PA. There were ropes dangling from above the stage and they wore harnesses so there was some really hilarious mock-Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
kung fu action going on. When there were at opposite sides of the stage, one of them did a bunch of hand motions and a Jedi Force push hoolie and the other woman's outfit flew off. So the near-naked fighter did the same to her opponent. More kung fu ensued.
In addition to the Cherry Pop Tarts, there were a few guests. The Hot Pink Feathers
brought their samba-cabaret mix from San Francisco.
They were excellent! I have never seen butts shake so fast in my entire life! They performed three times throughout the night, if I recall correctly. During one of them, the woman on the right in the picture above shuffled front and center and shook her thang. Then another got all jealous and hip-checked her out of the spotlight and jiggled her boobs like nobodies bidness. Then the third pushed her away and undulated her entire body in ways I never thought possible. Great stuff. Also appearing was Mona N'wal, a local who teaches and performances Middle Eastern dancing. It was my first exposure to live belly dancing and it was marvelous! The Caffeinatrix had taken belly dancing lessons and described it to me but seeing it performed before my eyes was a whole different matter. While the performances up to this point were drenched in gleeful abandon, N'wal's dance was more subtle and more graceful yet erotic. Just beautiful. Another local, delicate MICH
, performed a fan dance with video accompaniment. A white sheet acted as a screen which had a rather abstract image of vertical lines projected upon it while MICH did a wonderful fan dance. The part where she ensconced herself in the feather fans and removed her top was just entrancing. And then she turned and faced the screen with her fans behind her, enveloping her torso. Then she opened and closed the fans like a clam shell. I really dug this part too – must have something to do with my appreciation of Botticelli's Venus. The last of the guests was a couple from Chicago who call themselves Tightly Bound. They were simply unfucking real. They do aerial dance with straps. Two of them hung from the ceiling and they were put to good use. They began doing some steps on the floor but soon ascended. The guy bound his wrists with the straps and then did summersaults to hoist himself up to the rafters. He then grabbed another strap from the balcony and let it down so his partner could grab it. Once she had, he hauled her up to him whereupon she gracefully stood on him, flipped around him, and just all manner of acrobatics. Truly amazing. If you ever get a chance to witness them, by all means take it.
Another bit by a Cherry Pop that I want to mention is a solo routine by Lola Martinet. Attached to a rope was a sheet folded and tied in such a way as to create this triangular tent that one could lie in. Her dance was called Illusions and was tremendous – I really loved it. She would do some dancing with, say, one foot dangling from the sheet, and then she'd jump into it so that the curves of her body stood out in relief from the sheet. In a Barbarella
-like moment, she was lying down inside of it with a light behind so we the audience could only see a dark outline taking off her stockings. What really sewed up my crush on Lola was the final routine involving the entire Cherry Pop cast. It involved Chastity Dickums being all domineering and Lola ran out onto stage with her hands bound and a ball gag in her mouth. All I could think of was spanking…Ahem.
Here’s a smattering of pictures from their website to give you hint of what it was all about.
Needless to say, the show was fantastic! I have never gotten so frisky from just watching a woman remove gloves. The gin & tonics went down like water, the pills gave me a good buzz, and, with women wearing very little onstage, my mind just fell into a good place. Every so often I could feel that
feeling between my legs. The show is not about crassness or vulgarity, it's about fun and exuberance laced with sexuality. I really enjoyed how the low-brow humor and the exposure of flesh were set side-by-side with routines that were more "arty". I don't think it totally unfair to say that the core of the show was the human body. One minute women were shaking their boobs at high velocity and the next there'd be people doing this graceful act dangling from straps high above the stage. While most of it was about the body portrayed in a prurient light, there were also times when it was about the body as being art in and of itself. And the Cherry Pop Tarts are not a bunch of waifs. Pussy Divine is a big girl while Chastity Dickums is much smaller. The rest of them fall somewhere in between. And they range from, I'd guess, late 20s to early 40s. My only complaint was that they were all white. I'd love to see some women of color up there next time. We'll see.
As I headed to my car, I was high, horny, a bit drunk, and just full of life. I felt like I could do anything and was ready to please any woman that dared get close to me. It was just a wonderful feeling – that sense that everything in life is mine for the taking, that everything is ripe for the picking.
22 July, 2005
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Check out Virtual Street Reality
, the product of artist Julian Beever.
Pretend that you actually use your SUV for something other than driving to work or to the salon. Spray on some mud
I thought labiaplasty
was stupid but now women (and men) can bleach their anuses
. It's supposed to make your butthole look "younger". What does it say about a person who is concerned with the aesthietic qualities of the area where her/his shit comes out?
Out, dammed spot!
The Mad Rollin' Dolls
will be doing a car wash this weekend out at Irish Waters at Whitney Way and University.
Out I say!
CGT @ Shank Hall
My ass is dragging today because A) I've only had a couple cups of coffee and B) I got to bed late last night. The occasion was the California Guitar Trio
show in Milwaukee. I arrived at Shank Hall shortly before the doors opened at 7. While waiting in line, Tony Levin, who would be playing with CGT, walked out the door and past us an shattered all my illisions. Having seen him play a few times, I always figured he was like 6'5". This illusion must have been created by the fact that he's very thin and often times plays a Chapman stick which is generally held fairly vertically. My image of him had always been a vertical one. But I discovered that he is of average height. Whoda thunk it?
Anyway, I met a guy standing in line and we shot the shit for a while. When the doors opened, I plowed inside and found a seat right up front. Another guy, Dave, grabbed a couple seats at the table for himself and a friend. He was a middle-aged semi-hippie kind of guy and we chatted. Just before the show, I stepped outside for a root and saw Hideyo from CGT approaching - he too with a cigarette in hand. This drew the attention of a guy standing a bit to my left who approached him for some autographs. I ended up shooting the shit with this guy for a short time but cannot recall his name. But I do have his email address.
Once back inside, it wasn't long before the show started. Not only was it great to see the boys again after nearly 3 years, but it was also really cool to be able to see a show involving Tony Levin where I was 12 feet from him instead of 1200. I don't recall the setlist in its entirety but I do remember various bits. For instance, they did Bach's “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” which was memorable because it rocked and, well, it was Bach! They also did "Miserlou" (yes, the song Dick Dale popularized), Yes' "heart of the Sunrise", and many an original composition. From their new albu, Whitewater
, they did "Mee-Woo", "Cosmo Calypso" (a rather neat tune featuring a calypso beat laced with pscyhedelia), a medley of "Ghost Riders in the Sky" and "Riders on the Storm" by the Doors, and "The Marsh". The last one was dedicated to Les Collins who was Robert Fripp's gardener and had passed away shortly before the recording of the album. During the intro to the song, Paul Richards told a humorous little story which involved the time he and the rest of CGT spent at Fripp's Guitar Craft
. Richards humorously detailed how he was the first student allowed to drive Robert Fripp's car and how another student evnetually did so as well but got into an accident thusly ending the use of the car. OK, I thought it was funny but, it's probably meaningless if you aren't familiar with Fripp's eccentricities. (All you Crimso fans know what I'm talking about.) They also played a part of a concerto for guitar that they've been writing with Jon Anderson of Yes. Personally, I thought it was fantastic and wish very much to have heard more. Another song which I really enjoyed (again) was one whose name I cannot recall. It took a Japanese folk song, threw in a couple bits of King Crimson ("21st Century Schizoid Man"), and put it to acoustic surf guitar. They closed the set out with the aforementioned "Heart of the Sunrise". The first encore was Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" for which Hideyo turned the lone mic around to get the audience singing. And sing we did.
My only gripe about the show was that they didn't do "Train to Lamy Suite" which is just a fucking great song. It's got dynamics and some fuzzy acoustic guitar gone electric and, well, it just rocks. On the other hand, the show was fantastic and it was cool to be able to be so close and see how these guys do their thing. Yeah, they're all hyper-talented but watching how 3 hyper-talented guitar players stay together when they're playing the same notes or completely different parts is really a sight to behold. Watching each of them play something completely different and hearing the gestalt which was a wonderful melody was just awesome! Plus I got to see Levin ply his trade close up. And he used those finger-extender hoolies that he has to slap the strings.
Here's a couple pictures. I took many but either my camera needs a couple more CCDs, it can't take very good low-light pictures, or I just don't know what the fuck I'm doing. (Probably the last one.) For this first one, keep in mind that the picture was very dark. Then add into the equation that I don't have Photoshop on this PC and the monitor is going bad so it can't display a very bright picture. So here's Paul:
Here's the band saying goodbye:
Geeky Dream Job
According to Lucasfilm, they're hiring:Lucasfilm is hiring. With Lucas Animation and LucasArts ramping up to produce new Star Wars and non-Star Wars series, features and games, now is the time to prepare that resumé and send it over. The next generation of talented digital artists is needed, and fans that have the skills are invited to apply at lucasfilm.com.
So head on over to Lucasfilm
with resume in hand. Maybe you can create the next Jar Jar Binks!
20 July, 2005
Hi, my name is Palmer and I'm a betrayer, rapist, and/or exploiter
Amanda over at Pandagon
agrees with Andrea Dworkin that I will be rapist or exploiter of a woman. Christ, no wonder many women are loathe to describe themselves as "feminists"
. In her screed, Amanda critiques a piece by Phyllis Schalafly entitled, "Time to dispose of radical feminist pork"
. While there's no love lost between me and Ms. Schalafly, I think Ms. Marcotte, who is most definitely not stupid, should be taken to task for sneaking into her criticism a bit of misandrous stupidity.
Marcotte quotes Schalafly:The Violence Against Women Act comes out of Andrea Dworkin's tirades of hate such as, "Under patriarchy, every woman's son is her betrayer and also the inevitable rapist or exploiter of another woman."
And then comments that, "[It is] a lament that is actually pretty accurate and sad if you think about the history of women raising sons they love in a system where they were married off as if they were property only to turn those sons over to be woman-dominators themselves." Now, many a feminist commentator has gone to great pains to show how Dworkin's more extreme quotes are taken out of context, that she was really a sweet woman in pursuit of equality for women. Thusly the statement, "Heterosexual intercourse is the pure, formalized expression of contempt for women's bodies", lacks supporting statements which would...which would...which would apparently dispel the notion that heterosexual intercourse is the pure, formalized expression of contempt for women's bodies. Or something. I'm not quite sure what context is needed for a clearer understanding of that statement. Did Dworkin play some semantic game and define "heterosexual intercourse", "contempt", or "bodies" in a new and novel way which even now eludes the editors of dictionaries thusly rendering her statement a wonderful and insightful observation about an act that came into existence via evolution quite before and apart from men? Alas, Ms. Dworkin is dead so let us return to Ms. Marcotte.
To repeat, she contends that the statement, "Under patriarchy, every woman's son is her betrayer and also the inevitable rapist or exploiter of another woman" is "pretty accurate". Now, I'm a bit confused. The word "accurate" means correct in every detail so what is she saying? Perhaps only that 99.44% of women's sons betray their mothers and go on to rape and/or exploit women? Ms. Marcotte abstains from critcizing Schalafly for taking Dworkin's quote out of context so I'm going to assume that the statement ought to be taken as-is. I also assume that by "pretty accurate" she means that, while 99%+ of men don't go on to lead heinous lives, at the very least a majority of men do go on to betray their mothers, rape, exploit, and, in general, commit egregious sins against womankind. To quote Penn Gillette, bullshit!!
To lend even the slightest hint of veracity to Dworkin's statement is an act of sheer stupidity. Marcotte seems to put her reason in abeyance and takes some perverse feminist script as read that men are the most horrible of creatures. Either that or we're born little lumps of clay and molded by the evil patriarchal factory line into rapists/exploiters thusly making us victims as well as perpetrators. Have I created a false dichotomy or is there something in Marcotte's statements that allows for a third possibility which doesn't villify nearly 3 million human beings or merely relegate them to victimhood?
OK, Pete has followed up Holy Diver
with The Last in Line
and I'm at my desk singing and waving my arm in the air giving the horns...We'll know for the first time
If we're evil or divine
We're the last in line
Word of the Week
\Ci`cis*be"o\, n.; pl. It. Cicisbei. [It.] 1. A professed admirer of a married woman; a dangler about women.
Rockin' Like Dokken
This morning has gone amusingly so far. Round 1 with EXTRA 6.5 goes to EXTRA. Stupid software. It crashes every third time the user tries to print. Stupid software. So I get back down to my desk and Pete has got Holy Diver
by Dio playing.
Holy diver you've been down too long in the midnight sea
oh what's becoming of me
Ride the tiger you can see his stripes
but you know he's clean oh don't you see what I mean
Gotta get away
19 July, 2005
"This guys says some biblical library is on fire"
I just read an interesting piece by Chalmers Johnson about the loss of historical artifacts
in Iraq due to looting, theft, and the indifference of U.S. authorities there. I knew of the looting of the National Museum in Baghdad but was ignorant of the burnings of National Library and Archives & the Library of Korans. Johnson recounts how Robert Fisk of the London Independent
saw the fires and immediately went to the U.S. Marines' Civil Affairs Bureau to alert authorities. He reported the fires to an officer there who turned around and yelled to a colleague, "This guy says some biblical library is on fire."
The thrust of the article is that, while Bush paid lip service to preserving the cultural and historical legacy of Iraq, the Cradle of Civilization, not much, if indeed anything was done in this regard. Instead it was the liquefied dinosaurs that got all the attention.Moreover, on March 26, 2003, the Pentagon's Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA), headed by Lt. Gen. (ret.) Jay Garner -- the civil authority the U.S. had set up for the moment hostilities ceased -- sent to all senior U.S. commanders a list of sixteen institutions that "merit securing as soon as possible to prevent further damage, destruction, and/or pilferage of records and assets." The five-page memo dispatched two weeks before the fall of Baghdad also said, "Coalition forces must secure these facilities in order to prevent looting and the resulting irreparable loss of cultural treasures" and that "looters should be arrested/detained." First on Gen. Garner's list of places to protect was the Iraqi Central Bank, which is now a ruin; second was the Museum of Antiquities. Sixteenth was the Oil Ministry, the only place that U.S. forces occupying Baghdad actually defended.
The U.S. commanders maintain that they just didn't have the troops to guard the museums and libraries to which Johnson retorts:However, this seems to be an unlikely explanation. During the battle for Baghdad, the U.S. military was perfectly willing to dispatch some 2,000 troops to secure northern Iraq's oilfields, and their record on antiquities did not improve when the fighting subsided.
This is the weakest part of Johnson's argument and I wish it were elaborated upon more. What were the troop levels both on April 13th, when Baghdad fell as well as after fighting subsided? Insufficient troops is a legitimate reason for failing to defend museums but Johnson's riposte is not lengthy or detailed enough to refute the claim of the military brass. I’d like to see some numbers and locations of troop assignments. Still, he give examples of the carelessness of the military long after George Bush landed on that aircraft carrier and announced that major combat operations had ended. For example, the Tallil Air Base was built near the remains of the ancient city of Ur and has rendered the area useless for archaeological exploration and future tourism. In addition:At Babylon, American and Polish forces built a military depot, despite objections from archaeologists. John Curtis, the British Museum's authority on Iraq's many archaeological sites, reported on a visit in December 2004 that he saw "cracks and gaps where somebody had tried to gouge out the decorated bricks forming the famous dragons of the Ishtar Gate" and a "2,600-year-old brick pavement crushed by military vehicles." Other observers say that the dust stirred up by U.S. helicopters has sandblasted the fragile brick façade of the palace of Nebuchadnezzar II, king of Babylon from 605 to 562 B.C. The archaeologist Zainab Bahrani reports, "Between May and August 2004, the wall of the Temple of Nabu and the roof of the Temple of Ninmah, both of the sixth century B.C., collapsed as a result of the movement of helicopters. Nearby, heavy machines and vehicles stand parked on the remains of a Greek theater from the era of Alexander of Macedon [Alexander the Great]."
I can certainly understand that, in a war, shit will get blown up but it is doubly sad that such carelessness caused such destruction after the war was done. Why was the airbase put where it was? Is the area of such strategic importance that putting it somewhere else would have put our troops at a distinct disadvantage and/or needlessly in harm’s way? Johnson concludes his piece by saying:Before our invasion of Afghanistan, we condemned the Taliban for their dynamiting of the monumental third century A.D. Buddhist statues at Bamiyan in March, 2001. Those were two gigantic statues of remarkable historical value and the barbarism involved in their destruction blazed in headlines and horrified commentaries in our country. Today, our own government is guilty of far greater crimes when it comes to the destruction of a whole universe of antiquity, and few here, when they consider Iraqi attitudes toward the American occupation, even take that into consideration.
Prior to reading this article, I was unaware of most of the destruction that Johnson detailed. Most of the thoughts I had while reading the litany of demolitions were about what a shame the losses are. Now that I’ve had some time to consider what Johnson said, I tend to wonder why Iraq will be like once we’ve left (well, as much as we’re going to leave) and the Iraqis build their country up once more. By this I mean more than just what kind of society they will have in light of a great part of their cultural heritage having been destroyed. I wonder what is being done to help rebuild aside from ensuring that oil flows. What are we doing to help the Iraqis help themselves? I certainly believe that some things are being done but I’m having a hard time finding out exactly what’s going on. Now we have revelations that the Bush administration tried to influence the vote earlier this year
. I don’t want to be a naysayer because I honestly do think that there’s positive things to be found in Iraq. It’s just that it’s difficult to feel positive about the venture as a whole when I hear that people blow up a car and themselves next to a group of children receiving candy from American GIs; when I hear about the destruction that we
caused which Johnson detailed. All of this makes me hungry to know more, to know what’s going right over there. I’d like to hear tales of Iraqis rebuilding their own country and protecting their own people. Instead all I hear about is America doing the vast majority of work and putting its fingers in the pie. What about those billions of dollars that cannot be accounted for? Those cement factories that lie dormant while we pay Haliburton to make and transport the stuff? Johnson describes how a second(!) Burger King was built at the Tallil airbase (to go along with a Pizza Hut) so our men & women could get a whiff of home. Imagine Iraq invading this country and building a mosque over the remains of the Smithsonian or Jefferson’s home at Monitcello. While I certainly want the best for our men and women in uniform, could this not be provided by doing something other than putting a fast food joint up among ancient ruins? That Burger King just stands out in my mind as a metaphor for the situation over there generally, namely, that events seems to be centered around our interests and not the interests of the Iraqi people. Trying to influence the election, lining the pockets of Haliburton, etc. While I have a difficult time imagining most Iraqis pining for the rule of Saddam Hussein, I can easily conceive of most Iraqis wanting something other than Hussein or American occupation.
Portrait of the Filmmaker As A Young Woman
As I sit here looking forward to seeing a performance this weekend by Cherry Pop Burlesque
, I've come across an article up at Slate about a new documentary
to appear on HBO about this very topic. It's called Pretty Things
and premieres tonight, apparently. The author of the piece, Rachel Shteir, attempts to deconstruct the motives of the film's director, Liz Goldwyn.Front and center is Goldwyn's Third Wave feminist point of view, which projects onto the octogenarian burlesque strippers a glamorous sheen: For Goldwyn, who is in her late 20s or early 30s, burlesque is "liberating." And then there is the often hilarious, politically incorrect, and anti-psychological point of view of the octogenarian strippers themselves, who are baffled by Goldwyn's naiveté and her, er, naked, interest in their lives. Their outlook exposes how dramatically our ideas about sex have changed since the 1960s, and not all for the best.
The interviews with the former burlesque performers "...are interspersed with Goldwyn's own attempts to perform a striptease." It seems that the director has gone the Ross McElwee
route and created a confessional of her own. According to Shtier, the confession is that "striptease transformed her from ugly duckling to sexually confident swan" and she seems to have a problem with this, Goldwyn's "true" aim. Not having seen the film, it's difficult for me to comment. I will say, however, that, if Shtier's problem is that the documentary is too personal, then I find myself at odds with her. Her critique of Goldwyn's viewing of the glory days of burlesque through the lense of Third Wave Feminism is fair enough but to say that the film fails because it should
be about the glory days and not about its author is ridiculous. Is it a film about burlesque 50 years ago or is it a film about a young woman's transformation? Or does it attempt to do both? It's impossible for me to read a film I've never seen but it sure seems to be the case that Shtier's critique on the whole was constructed by looking at the film through a lense that only allows a limited view of what a documentary is or can be.
On the Gramophone
This week we have some black gospel steel. It's a fantastic breed of music played in Southern Pentecostal House of God churches. Think bluesy gospel with lead steel guitar. The track today is by Katie Jackson and the Campbell Brothers and appears on Sacred Steel, Live!
Listen to "God Is A Good God"
18 July, 2005
Today was fairly blasé. Work was uninteresting excepting for my conversations with my co-workers. I approached Mary and she said that she'd finished the new Harry Potter book yesterday. She patently refused to give away any details. John and I discussed food a bit after I brought him some of the snack mix I bought from Ambala in Chicago. And there's always Charles. We talked a bit about books and ended up going on about Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion cycle for a while. Returning to my desk, I had this overwhelming urge to listen to Blue Oyster Cult and Hawkwind.
I found out today that a friend's mother died last week. I feel terrible, not only because a friend has lost his mother, but because I've been so out of touch with him. I really must get my ass in gear and do a better job of staying in touch with friends. Speaking of them, a couple people whose blogs I read have written about this topic recently. One wrote:The only family I knew, the step family that I had. They're all out of my life. The friends I knew as children, they're all gone too. They've moved on.
I've got friends in the here and now. But very of them, excluding GD and Sierra, and my other friends here, chose to stick beside me. Out of all the people I count as 'people I can count on' emotionally, I have known only Rabbit for more than 10 years.
I live in a throwaway world. I never meant to live here.
I hope that the friends I have now, I keep.
The other wrote:i rarely see them
[college friends] and when i do see them i feel that i don't connect with them on any level. sure, we have fun together... as long as it's just mindless banter, eating, drinking, etc... but that's about as deep as it gets these days. we have no common ground politically, spiritually, culturally. i'm on a totally different planet from them... or at least i feel like i am. it's time to start stepping away; this seems to happen to me every ten years or so. who do i keep in contact with from high school?? one person. john (i could go into a whole separate entry of reasons why). who do i keep in touch with from college... in all honesty, one person. sandy -- and actually she tends to cause me a lot of anxiety each and every time i see her. in fact, she is really the one that i'm feeling most disillusioned with right now. i've actually begun to look at our relationship as a test to my spiritual practice -- to see if i can be in her presence without becoming reactive, angry, stressed and judgemental. quite the challenge, let me tell ya...who else is there? bill. my bill. plus a handful of others that i've become friends with in the last ten years. i supposed in another decade i'll be re-evaluating them.
the moral of the story. the only constant in life is change and the best way to deal with change is to let it come without clinging to the past or present. let it come without happiness or sorrow and just accept it all.
I tend to cling to the past quite tightly for a while before letting go. But let go I do – eventually. I don't mean to imply that I'm readying myself to let go of the friends with whom I maintain spotty contact; it's just that I've been thinking of them a lot lately and reading these bits have really kept up the pressure.
On a brighter note, tomorrow I'll be continuing my year-long Polish cooking experiment with Schab Pieczony
, which is Roast Loin of Pork. It's not an especial dish, by any means, but it sounded tasty. It differs from how I'd normally cook a loin of pork in the seasoning and a topping of applesauce and more spices. For the occasion, I bought some blackberry-infused applesauce. I think that much-neglected jar of garlic jelly I have in the frig with have to be busted out for this.
Prost Gotvins Geometri – Part 7This is Prost Gotvins geometri by Gert Nygårdshaug. The translation was done by Roy Johansen. Nygårdshaug is a Norwegian author and the text has not yet been published in English. Roy is a friend of mine who recently moved back to his native Norway. He has translated a good part of the novel and I'm trying to convince him to finish it.
Here’s Part 6.Father Gotvin's First Journey (continued)
I felt exhausted. The impressions, the splendor, God’s presence made my bones ache. I bought a bag of oranges, peeled two at once, and pushed the juice in between my dry lips. They would have mass tonight and I looked forward to it but how would I find her again? Lucienne Lopez? I knew I had to meet this woman again, she who had perhaps seen the miracle. She might be able to tell me. Wasn’t I here precisely for that reason – to investigate the circumstances around this miracle? Wasn’t that the reason I so abruptly had decided to make this trip? Despite the church council’s reluctance to have their minister make pilgrimages to catholic sancta, I never revealed my innermost motive to going: I wanted to examine the circumstances around this miracle.
My fingers squeezed the orange in my hand.
Yellow juice ran down on the pavement.
Didn’t I know this until now?
All the while I had been pondering on my motives for this trip without daring to supply the answer. The answer that had been there all along, ever since I read about the miracle in the newspapers. I had suppressed it. This was the cause of my unease, the shivering. I, an insignificant minister from a remote valley in eastern Norway, I was going to investigate one of God’s wonder. I would rise high enough to examine a sign from the Lord and, as investigator, I would also have the freedom to interpret, to doubt – to doubt
! Had I become Thomas? Was I questioning God’s inscrutability? I kept squeezing the orange until there was no juice left to squeeze. A woman stopped and looked at me and stared down into the yellow puddle on the sidewalk. Her gaze rested a moment on my hand and the orange pulp, and hurried along, apparently relieved when she realized what was the source of the yellow liquid. “My sin is greater than I can bear
,” Lord help me, take me away from this place! I heard voices from inside of me. I was standing there being small while something else grew.
And with doubt, anxiety was certain to follow.
But I was not afraid, not then, as I was standing there paralyzed, bewildered, for a moment, because I suddenly knew why I was here and what I must do. I had known all along, but had not dared letting that certainty surface. And suddenly I grew firm, determined, the Lord would grant me strength to complete this journey. This was His will. I was new, I had burned my old clothes. In Spain, in Galicia, Gotvin Soleng had, without batting an eye, thrown his relatively new jeans and t-shirt into the fire. Renewed, I would return to Vanndal and my dear congregation strengthened in my faith in God, my Holy Father. However, first I had to look into this miracle. That’s how it was.
I left. With determination I directed my steps toward the nearest sidewalk café, where I, in Spanish, ordered an ensalada de esparragos
plus a beer and, in my mind, I drank a toast with Stormarkbråten, the entrepreneur, the factory owner, the chairman of the church council, and who owned the only business of any size in Vanndal, a factory manufacturing floughs, but in whose opinion beer was the origin of most sins committed by mankind. I drank to him without a trace of guilt or regret. This was a wholly new and strong sensation that immediately brought a smile to my face – the first one that day.
After the meal, the waiter gave me directions to the telegraph station. I had to call Margit Nederstuen, the wife on the neighboring farm. She had promised to look after my father while I was gone. After considerable effort to understand how to order, receive, and pay for international phone calls – why didn’t they have plastic cards here? – I could finally hear Margit’s voice in the receiver. Everything was just fine, but there were some problems with Kastor, my father, at night. He didn’t want to go to bed. He wouldn’t let go of this contraption, the metal detector, which he apparently was using from morning until late night. He was possessed by the idea that there was an old car buried in the field behind the barn; a green Hillman delivery truck, model 1934, he contended, which of course is pure nonsense. Margit Nederstuen could not remember anyone having buried any truck in any field. It was out of the question, no one had even heard of a vehicle of this type, but what was she to do? Kastor was stubbornly walking around with the metal detector for hours at a time and talking incessantly with himself. Wasn’t it time to put him in a nursing home? Yes, Gotvin had been thinking about that possibility, but as he was in Spain at the moment, there was nothing he could do. Margit just had to be patient with Kastor and, if he insisted on taking the metal detector to bed, by all means, let him. Otherwise there was no news. I hung up shaking my head. A 1934 Hillman delivery truck? Where was my father? In a totally different and strange world. I hesitated for a while then dialed a new number in Silkeborg, a town in Jutland in Denmark, to a Danish colleague of mine, Niels Ingeby, who every summer came to Vanndal to fish grayling. Luckily Niels aws in his office. Did the names Trellebor, Eskeholm, Fyrkat,
mean anything to him? What about the name Preben Hansson
? They were Viking fortresses
? Fortresses from the Viking era surrounded by circular mounds? Trelleborg was a Danish national monument, didn’t I know? No, I didn’t. Trelleborg, Eskeholm, Fyrkat, and Aggersborg were all great forresses from ancient times. Niels could tell me that the archaeologists did not exclude the possibility of them having been built on top of monuments from even older cultures, possibly cult sites from the Bronze Age. But he didn’t know Preben Hansson. Was he Danish? Possibly, I answered. I thanked him for the information and told him he was welcome to Vanndal in a month or so – he had it in for the Giant Grayling. So that’s how it was. Lucienne Lopez had drawn him Viking fortresses. Amusing. She probably considered him a Viking. Maybe she didn’t’ know much else about Norway and Scandinavia except that’s where the Vikings once lived. But why had she drawn it with such care? And why had she said what she did just before she left the compartment? ”If you decipher this drawing, you shall learn what truly is concealed in Heaven.”
What might she have meant by this?
Back out on the street I again wiped sweat from my forehead. I had turned three o’clock; mysteries and miracles. I felt slightly excited but the time had come for some moments of devotion. I took out my prayer book and bowed my head for the Creator hidden from view behind a garbage container reeking with rotten fish and rancid oil
I was no pilgrim.
I was a snooping voyeur.
I was a doubter.