Spent most of the day switching between March Madness and Congressional coverage. I was sorry to see Maryland lose, which was the very last team in which I had some vested emotional interest. My parents both hail from Glen Burnie, MD. (Dad, an Air Force brat, less so, having been born in my Grandma’s hometown of Brooklyn – he lived everwhere).

Hope loves politics so the big health care debate was great theater. I was hoping the Republicans would pull their guns on the House floor and try to take over on national TV. Or at least a fistfight. They really should have proxy battles in a steel cage match. The proceedings bored even me. I usually can find something interesting. When the most exciting thing to see is protesters yelling names (or Congressmen doing the same), you get the feeling that a playground fight would be more exciting.

She and I have determined that one of our retirement activities will be making craft clocks. You can get the movements from Ben Franklin. It would be fun to make interesting clocks. She loves clocks. She’s out of work now and has been trying to rejuvenate her collection (that I’ve been meticulously ignoring – though I used to humor her and try to keep up with them all during the yearly hour change). Batteries are now in short supply as we have fifty-five clocks that all needed them.

Anyway, I make these little colorful horizontally striped paintings that would be a nice sales item at some craft shows along with the clocks. I even thought I could take a few of the paintings (I work on small canvases) and makes clocks out of them.

Just an idea. I could be doing book tours, music tours, something like that by then. It’s not like it’s right around the corner. Then again, do we need to wait for retirement?

Answer: not really. I guess sitting around all day at a craft show is just something I imagine would be more enjoyable when retired.

Journal Post – September 11, 2006

Mere Notes

It was a surreal day when I heard about Grandma passing.  Mondays tend to be.  September 11th immeasurably so.  I wrote these words in my journal that morning:  “I probably don’t realize the extent to which she has had an impact on my way of being.  I was one of many in her presence.  So many grandchildren and great grandchildren and even great great grandchildren.  She was grand matriarch to so many.  My memories:  antique toys, National Geographic, her small kitchen unchanged from the 50’s (40’s?), her encyclopedic mind when it came to the family history and so many other subjects, Ginger snaps (Granddad’s voice calling her from the other room – ‘Ginger!’).  Thanksgivings and Christmases and an occasional summer visit.  Picking steamed crabs in Glen Burnie.  I still have Grandma’s spirit, even if a bit of it.  She had so much to share and so many to share it with.  The disjoint thoughts expressed here serve only as mere notes to what she really meant.  So much world.  A world traveler she was, and an aficionado of so many things.  She never tired of learning, reading, and of giving of herself, until her body, her shell finally could no longer contain her adventuresome spirit.  She broke free from it on this day and now she has no bonds with the physical world that tie her.”

Grandma, along with so many things, represented, for me, a love of the printed word and of imagination.  She loved a good, clean joke and an honest laugh.  She inherited a thriftiness necessitated during the era of the Great Depression, days we can hardly even imagine in my generation.  She always made do and she always had something to share.  She has been one of the great constants of my life and I am happy that she no longer has to make do, to suffer in this life, but has such an abundance of eternal love to share in the next.

Journal Post – July 16, 2006

Sunday Out

Saw ‘A Scanner Darkly’, a Rotoscoped film by the King of Rotoscope, Richard Linklater, based on a short story by Philip K. Dick.  His first film using this method was ‘Waking Life’ which was sort of a hit parade of various ordinary people talking about their own personal philosophy, the world, life, and other matters in that vein.  The technique, though, is basically taking filmed material, running it through a computer and doing some animation work to make the whole thing take on a cartooned aspect.

‘A Scanner Darkly’ is about the war on drugs and corporate contracting of government services run amok.  The corporation with the government contract to incarcerate drug users and dealers is growing the plants that make the drugs.  The corporation called ‘New Path’ creates the supply of criminals (via the government criminalization of non-sanctioned narcotics) and, all too conveniently, provides the solution.  The highly addictive and brain-rotting drugs that New Path trickles down to street level get in the hands of every bored, depressed, over-worked, over-tired, and sleep-deprived lower middle-class citizen.

After the film, hit the Galaxy Café.  It’s a version of a world I love so much, that vision from the 50’s of what the future would look like, with the sleek surfaces, the overt outer space references.  Out of seven classic sci-fi film posters on the wall, I own three of the films on VHS.  Yes, I am a complete geek. You haven’t figured that out yet?  They are:

Forbidden Planet (featuring Robbie the Robot from the ‘Lost in Space’ TV show).

The Day The Earth Stood Still (repeat after me – ‘Klaatu barada nikto’)

War of the Worlds

Then it was birthday shopping, splurging on myself with some help from a $20 Barnes & Nobles gift certificate from the Chaz Man.

Some stuff I picked up:

Mojo – July Issue

Big focus on Thom Yorke of Radiohead.  Interview on Radiohead, plus an extensive review of his new solo album plus reviews of all their new live songs that have yet to be recorded and may never will be.  (They currently have no record contract).  Includes CD compiled with material by and like soul-funk great James Brown.

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

The Man in the High Castle

Two novels by Philip K. Dick.  This adds to my collection, which consists of ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’ (Blade Runner was adapted from this novel) and ‘Radio Free Albemuth’, which I read for a Freshman year college class called ‘Colloquium:  Grokking the Bug-Eyed Monster, Speculative and Science Fiction’.  My own story, ‘Why to Buy the 3521 Plymouth Sun-Hopper’ was born out of an assignment from that class.

Global Underground 10: (Various Artists – Special Edition 4-CD Compilation of Dance Music)

Comes in a velvet red box that reminds me of the type that old vinyl compilations came in back in the day.  Dance music akin to electronica.

Loony Tunes:  Golden Collection Volume 3.

Four DVD’s filled with my favorite Saturday Morning cartoon.  Could anything be better?

A bunch of other CDs, which I got used from Plan 9:

Queen’s Greatest Hits

A find.  This is essentially the same Greatest Hits album that my brother bought when I was in Middle School on vinyl.  There a few songs added, but the original album and this one has the song ‘Flash’ on it (my least favorite as a kid), but it’s a rare version that only existed on the single version of the song, which is likely, deservedly out of print.  But it’s funny when you can’t find something how much you want it.  In this case, it wasn’t the actual song I wanted, but to complete that particular collection since for the longest time it was out of print.  I actually bought the ‘Flash’ soundtrack (awful, awful) to recreate the set prior to finding this gem.  There was a rumor going around in college that I was a big Queen fan.  No more so than anyone else who grew up listening to classic rock.  I mean, who doesn’t like ‘Another Bites the Dust’ or ‘Under Pressure’ (prior to Vanilla Ice stealing the bass line).

Journal Post – July 15, 2006


July 15.  Hot and humid.  I turned 29 again for the 8th time just the day before so we had a party.  An outdoor, cook-out-esque party without the grilling. Fried chicken catered by Wal-Mart.  Swimming pools.  Two five-foot kid style pools complete with rubber ducks and absorbent, miniature footballs.  Squirt guns.  We used the kiddy pools to soak our feet and shot each other with the squirt guns.  I shot myself.  Seems like I dried out instantly.

Most of the party was held on the deck.  “Nobody’s done anything on bureaucracy,”  Pasquale said, talking about The Office and Office Space, comically dystopian views on corporate cubical life.  He suggested I write something in that vein on government employment.  I have rare insight.

It seems like everyone has childhood memories of croquet.  The croquet course I set up had kids in mind.  Wickets out of the natural paths around the house so kids didn’t trip and knock their front teeth out.  Speaking of which, I learned the importance of wearing a helmet.

Kicking Up The Dust

Spring cleaning entails a trip through my writing archives to find forgotten bits of encapsulated memories, snapshots of past events.  For the next entries, I will be posting what I find worth remembering, which, in retrospect, turned out to be some of my favorite memories of the past decade.

Back To The Future

Lately, I have dedicated a lot of this space to goofing around with ideas about the future, alternate dimensions and the like… it’s funny how people who can’t grasp certain concepts will simply relegate everything of such into the dust bin called ‘science fiction’.

That term, and its abbreviation ‘sci-fi’ is such a pejorative that even the ‘sci-fi’ cable channel, despite being wildly popular, decided it was too geeky so they changed their name to ‘Syfy’.  Of course, ‘Syfy’ is simply a homonym and intentional misspelling.  But that’s ‘branding’ for you – push the envelope until you have something so original, so fresh, so unique that perhaps it just really isn’t unique at all and, is, in fact – infinitely stupid.

Literature that becomes labeled ‘Science Fiction’, whether or not it is intentionally written for that ‘genre’, is writing for the kids who studied in class.  But, the fact that it is considered ‘geeky’ is simply a symptom of how the American cultural media machine glorifies stupidity.  Of course, the media machine bases it’s entire existence on superficialities, so  it shouldn’t be surprising that the socially promoted gems of our media world elite, who have flashy smiles and really nice hair really can’t understand the  fascination with life on other planets or beings that do not have physical form or time travel or … [insert list of typical ‘science fiction’ topics here].

Fiction is literature is writing is art.  Some of it is ‘better’, from a myriad of critical perspectives, than others, but like anything else, what you like to read, watch, etc. is more a matter of exposure than taste.  Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, George Orwell, Philip K. Dick and Edgar Allen Poe are some of the best known of the genre, but what about Stanislaw Lem, Harlan Ellison, Anthony Burgess, Frederick Pohl, Douglas Adams, and Frank Herbert?  Some names are familiar, some not.  Why?  The books are out there.  You just have to go out there and find them.

Our Quote for Today from the Future

“Back then, they called it ‘business efficiency’ and at first that was true, but by the early 21st Century, what it really turned out to be was a bunch of sadistic assholes who got their rocks off watching people squirm and suffer.”
–Rognalt Q. Timbuckner, Management Guru and Corporate Strategist (2132-?), virtual lecture to business class of 2176

Today’s Post from the Future

“It seems to me that the demise of the conservative movement in America happened due to the fact that they came across as ‘the missionary-position party’ and great swaths of Americans were quite bored with that social ideology. Some were outright offended by the affront on their basic social liberty while others were just yawning uncontrollably in the dark nest of the voting booth.” -Jo Jo Yin Draught-Henderclein (2134-2201)