Monday, December 29, 2003

Spent some time over the break teaching myself Photoshop. Didn't get all that far, but you can check out my workbook here.

And now Janine and I might be getting married in Virginia in late June. That's the plan this week, anyway.

Friday, December 19, 2003

My dog's sick. Just like 2 years ago, he ate something that didn't agree with him, and since yesterday he's had pretty bad diarrhea and he's been barfing up everything he's been eating. Yesterday, I thought it might be a temporary bug, although last night he kept whining to go outside and the result was pretty nasty when he got there. It hit a crescendo this morning when I woke up to find he'd been getting up throughout the night and taking emergency measures in our computer room, which he would never do unless it was absolutely necessary. It looked like some kind of shit golem had exploded all over my carpet. Just got done steam cleaning the whole place, and it's still not fully out -- probably have to pick up one of those exorbitantly expensive pet stain removers and try again tomorrow while my Rug Doctor time is still in effect. We'll be taking Carter to the vet if he's not dramatically better in the morning. Right now, all he's eating is ice cubes (per phone vet's orders), but he's actually looking a bit more chipper. Might be because we're letting him sit on the sofa for the first time in months.

And FrankenMetro is registered and back on the road as of yesterday. Only one hitch so far -- as I was approaching an intersection, the gas pedal seized up and I couldn't stop accelerating except by standing on the brakes and applying the emergency brake. I slowed down enough to pull into a parking lot and free up the gas pedal, but... man, that couldn't have helped much. It's like my car almost resents having been brought back from the dead, and is trying to kill us both so it can return to its oblivious slumber. No no, like Amanda Plummer to Christopher Walken's fallen angel in Prophesy, it must serve me as a soul-less reanimated ghoul for a little longer, only then will I release it to its natural sleep. In Jack's Auto Salvage. For $50.

That's it.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Not a bad weekend -- just picked up our Christmas tree, although we can't find most of the ornaments, lights, and whatnot we must have lying around the place. Fired up the Bing Crosby and Andrews Sisters tunes, cracked open the 7th or 8th gallon of nog this season, and played with the dog. And earlier, I took FrankenMetro for a spin, and it didn't even leave me stranded in the turning lane like it did last time.

And we got our first DVD player, at long last. And we went to Sullivan's and ate a nice New York strip three tables away from Arizona basketball coach Lute Olsen. And fixed my computer and maybe somebody else's computer and both of my cars and went Christmas shopping and toured a military junkyard (with Vietnam-era transport chopper -- Janine was seeing it as a refurbished playhouse for our eventual kids. I was too -- tie some swings to the rotors and make a really cool carnival ride out of it. Lots of fun until it reaches full speed and slings your kids into the next county).

Tomorrow is Begging Day -- must call around to find out if anyone needs a research assistant, so I can afford to take Pre-Med classes at the U next semester. I think this whole process is going to be somewhat like becoming a parent. No one in their right mind would actually undertake such a thing if they knew what they were getting into.

I'm sleepy. I'm going to sleep. Kudos to the L-K's on their new place. May your neighbors be as interesting as they really should be.

Monday, December 08, 2003

Got a few minutes before I must dash away once again to pick up Janine, drive her home, then I'm off to my next assignment. The phrase "next assignment" might actually be interesting coming from a CIA operative or international spy or something, but for a home health aide not quite so much. The driving difficulty stems from the fact that the alternator I picked up in the aforementioned salvage yard ain't so good as I'd hoped, so I'm going to have to wait until probably Friday before I can return it and look into a better option. And get a new battery, and a host of other Metro components I'm learning about. Like belts. I've been hearing the things wear out in a steady stream of ear-pearcing sqeals for a while, and now I know how to fix those, too. I could charge myself a fortune for all of this auto service...

Meanwhile, I am more active lately -- mostly due to a change in career direction to the medical field. I'm currently looking into what an MD or DO might entail -- I'll be speaking to a pre-med advisor on Thursday, and getting a better idea of whether or not I might be able to apply for the 2005 school year. To do so, I'd have to take about 8 classes between now and then, and I don't know if I'd qualify for residency (yes, I know I've been here for 5 years; don't get me started), don't know if I absolutely need to get these credits from a big-time school, or if an eminantly more flexbile and less expensive community college might suffice, whether I'll be able to get an assistantship to help defer the costs, whether some of my undergrad credits might transfer, etc.

Yes, it's a bit of a departure from my archaeological aspirations, but the archaeology market seems to be enduringly unfriendly to me at the moment, so back to school I go (possibly. I'm still actively applying for archaeology positions at the moment). But a medical degree sounds like a very cool thing, and I like the idea of doing what I'm doing now (helping the truly helpless) with a more significant paycheck added to the mix.

And just think: free oxycontin for all!

Watch this space for updates and tearful disappointments!

Saturday, November 29, 2003

And here's the next collection of Bockhorst Fields scented candles (see Series 1 here). I heard some joker actually made a few wacky candles in New York or somewhere (Gin & Tonic was his most interesting, although gin kind of smells like puke to me. Or maybe it's just hard for me to separate the two), but I have yet to see these:

Pitcher Plant
Ripe Meat
Urinal Cake
Muffin Stuffer
Steaming Patty
Boone's Farm
Marion Berry
Gun Oil
Silky Mushroom
Luscious Melons
Fresh Clipped Fingernails
Broken Home
Teen Spirit
Hair Pie
Candle Scent #82
Mary Jane
New Car
It's alive! ALIVE!

Not to pat myself on the back too much, but I've just successfully completed my first go at major automotive surgery. My Metro died suddenly in the Safeway parking lot some months ago, and while an electrical transfusion kept it alive long enough for it to stagger home to our apartment complex, it finally expired for good shortly thereafter.

But we'd just replaced the battery, which led me to tap my wading-pool-deep knowledge base of cars and conlude that something called an "alternator" might be at fault. So I bought one of those comprehensive Metro fix-it manuals from E-Bay for $9 and found out how to find and remove the alternator. Then yesterday, I drove to South Tucson, to a compact car graveyard run by some good-natured but blatantly shady salvage merchants. They got me another Metro alternator, which cost me an arbitrary $45 (more if I wanted a reciept!). And so this morning, I reattached it, and it seems to work. FrankenMetro is once again squealing with life!

Next operation: brake pads! Ivan, dig me up some fresh pads! Hahahahahahahahahahaha!

And thanks for the job recommendations. And despite the above, I think I've ruled out mechanic. I'm not sure I'm ruthless enough.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

As I was saying...

Very glad about the reported upswing in the economy, even though I know full well that if it continues, the chances of having a Democrat in the White House starting 2005 are somewhere between 0% and 0.00000% (rounded). It may be good for me, though -- I spoke with an inside source in the archaeology field last Friday, who confirmed my hopes that the archaeology market is currently as depressed as a lot of other markets ("hopes" in the sense that I was beginning to think it was just me). I had begun to contemplate other avenues to a career that allowed me to actually make payments on the student loans that led to the degree, but now I've semi-renewed hope for the digging life.

So I'm re-doubling my job search (again), and in the meantime, I'm taking suggestions for new career paths. Medicine? (I've already got one thumbs down from Heather on this one. Counterpoint?) Law? (I can just imagine what Dan "In Ten Years We'll Have One Million Lawyers" LK would say about this idea.) Computer Tech? (They are such fun, aren't they?) Only serious and non-serious replies will be considered.

And I'm sorry to hear of the passing of Caren's aunt -- I haven't met Caren yet, but I do know how it is to lose a relative.

One last thing -- I never realized how cool Terry Gross from NPR's Fresh Air was. Not only does she work over Bill O'Reilly on air, but gets him to lose his cool and make himself look worse than she was making him look. And she has obscure guests who wax eloquent (if obvious) about the Smiths! And last Friday? Stephen King! The geeky girls are the coolest!
"I can't put my finger on this Thumbelina-sized town on a Wednesday..."

There was more here a few minutes ago, but something cybery swallowed it unsaved. I now have a few new frustration bruises. More soon.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Alright, I'm back. Sorry for the three-week silence -- just not a particularly eventful three weeks. I did, however, try to pump out 50,000 words for the National Novel Writing Month and so far have generated about 6%. Which I'm not tremendously disappointed with, as I was anticipating strong opposition from my GDMFSOB quality filter that has to have its say in every word that makes the trip from my subconscious through my conscious, on its way to my fingertips. I'm making it yield slowly, but I tell you, it's not like when I was a kid. Back then, I didn't care a bit what I wrote. When you're writing similies such as, "like a cowpoke eating a spraycan on a Tuesday" (short story ca. 1986), your narrative inhibitions are minimal.

Anyway, it's making itself into a story of sorts. All interested parties should click here. I think I'm up to about 10 pages. Apologies in advance to devout Christians.

Oh yes, and Liz Phair was really, really great. How could she not be?

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Argh -- the NaNoWriMo thing has begun, and the first day was revealing. Actually, right now is pretty revealing. I'm sitting with an empty beer bottle, and empty can of generic Diet Coke, and an empty mug with a sodden tea bag at the bottom of it arrayed on my desk. And I've been staring at a stark white Word screen, wondering what's going to materialize story-wise on it. There's a corner to be turned here -- I haven't done any real writing in so long, it's hard to knock that little insty-editor off my shoulder and getting the keys flying. And the banana Yankee candle that's been burning for the past several hours isn't doing much but make me wish I had some pie.

I've heard that Stephen King's muse takes the form of a fat guy in a tee shirt, who apparently whispers evil storylines in his ear or something. I've yet to have my muse really take any real form. When it does, I'm kind of hoping it looks something more like Mia Sara, and is much more clever than I am with its fiction. I'm definitely going to have to crank it up tomorrow -- going to see Liz Phair Monday night at a very small venue (same one I saw Dave Wakeling at) -- maybe I can get the issue of whether or not her new album is a shot at a wholesale sell-out or an insidious backdoor subversion of adolescent girls (listen to "HWC" from her latest album for a good "omigod!" moment).

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Well, I did say tomorrow-ish...

Anyway, although it severely wounds me to say it, there's no way in the sight of God or whoever's watching that I'll be able to make opening night -- believe me, I threw together enough scenarios and schemes that I probably could've beaten Rommel in North Africa in half an hour, but the stars were out of alignment for this one. I hope to have them realigned along with my Geo this week. I'm really going to miss seeing/meeting everyone there, but I when I do come up, I hope to actually make a business trip out of the time as well, set up a couple of interviews, and maybe mock up something long-term. And see the play. Anyway, pick up a bottle of apple Pucker for me, put a poofy blond wig on it, and I'll be there in spirit (rimshot).

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Watch this space for an announcement (tomorrow-ish), re. whether or not I'll be making it to opening weekend. Damn, boy, I thought closing weekend would be the big she-bang! Or is shebang one word? Schibang? Xi Bang? Anyway, more soon one way or another.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Finished Al Franken's new book at Borders last night over a paper cup full of spiced apple cider -- both very good. Good god, do we need an entertaining antidote to the staggering number of right-wing scumbags with their own shows (TV, radio, or otherwise) -- Franken would be a welcome first. I think the problem is that liberals just haven't been all that funny. Wait for what passes for humor on NPR (which I don't really consider all that liberal, just more objective than anything else on the radio) -- Michael Feldman? Lame, self-conscious witticisms from the mincing guest novelists they trot out? Those goddamn CAR GUYS?!

And forget about an Al Gore Show -- I love that guy, but the only time he amuses me is when he's making fun of himself, and I don't think he can carry a whole show doing that. Who knows -- he was killing me on SNL! McCain was funnier, though, dammit. "The poodle is the black man of the dog world!" (Not his line, but his show.)

Until then, we always have the Daily Show. That'll have to do until James Carville gets his own gig...

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Not a whole hell of a lot going on at the moment, except that I narrowly survived an attempt on my life over the weekend by a bottle of green apple Pucker. And oooooo, Tucson to BWI for $213. That's not bad.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Fuck it, I'm in. I've been meaning to sleep less anyway. Thanks to Dan for the heads up. If a hardcore writing schedule's going to turn me into an alcoholic drug fiend like Stephen King used to be, now's probably a good time to find out anyway.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

These are dark, DARK times -- the misery continued in front of my eyes up in Phoenix last night. God owes me for this one!

Friday, September 26, 2003

I am heartbroken! I've got Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley in my car cd rotation right now! Part of my childhood has died!

Who's next, Billy Idol?!

Monday, September 22, 2003

Good news! Both Clark and Kerry beat Bush in a CNN poll out today! Looks like Bush II is going the way of Bush I -- pretty predictable sequel, I guess. All we need now is an independant nutcase to throw his/her hat into the ring to suck away a few million conservative/reactionary votes from Bush.

Anne Coulter (McCarthy Party) for President!

Saturday, September 20, 2003


They were in my running shorts.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Not to sound repetitive, but this week has been one for the Week of Shit recordbooks, so much so that I plan to mark it down in my Clie for next year that I should avoid it altogether. It all started (cue wavey lines) on Monday, appropriately enough, when Janine was informed that she'd been selected for jury duty for the rest of the week. This wouldn't have been bad at all, seeing as she plans to apply for law school, and sitting on a jury is certainly more germane to her ambitions than answering phones and doing whatever she does at her job. But we soon found that jury duty pays about $12 per day in Arizona, and the company she works for isn't obliged to assist her while she's performing her civic duty. Or to even allow her use sick days to make up for lost hours. Basically, they told her she can go piss up a rope.

Actually, that's not fair. They did allow her to come in early in the morning and at night after the jury's dismissed to try to cram in as much of an 8-hour day as she can stay awake for. So actually, I guess they're real swell.

Meanwhile, her ex-boss and friend quit suddenly, and while Janine's saddened by the loss of a friend to work with, I'm saddened by the unfortunate passing of her carpool. The Metro blew an alternator, and until we get around to replacing that, she has the Jetta and I'm riding a bike from appointment to appointment. And, oh yeah, I lost my keys over last weekend, so my bike is stapled to our front porch with one of those U-locks. I'm actually riding an ersatz bike I borrowed from friends -- one where you have to take a wrench to the front wheel to get it off (the only way it fits into the car when I meet Janine at the end of the day, so I don't have to make the 8-mile journey home through poorly-lit streets and positively shitty Tucson drivers). *Sharp inhale*

So basically, I've concluded that there is actually a God, and he's sending me signs mistakeable only by the thickest pieces of cheese that I should get the hell out of Arizona. Or perhaps that I should go to med school and get a job that earns more damn money. God wouldn't say that, would He?

Thursday, September 11, 2003

I've been listening to a lot of talk radio while driving around town, and I've been hearing a lot about needing to remember 9/11, that we should never forget, that doing so would be dishonoring the dead. I don't know where the hell these windbags have been for the past two years, but I can do pretty much anything but forget -- it's in my mind in some form or another pretty much every single day. I've changed, most people I know have changed, the whole world's changed. We've got a level of global antagonism, tension, and anxiety that wasn't around before then. We've got images of jumbo jets flying into buildings that don't get any less surreal as time goes by, burned into our heads. How is it conceivable that, after two years, that we'd suddenly be saying, "September 11... isn't that somebody's birthday?" Go ask a WWII vet if he recalls what December 7th's all about, and if he needs his memory jogged.

I've got a pretty thick skin, but I kept the TV off today, and listened to a lot of sports. I certainly don't need anyone reminding me about 9/11 -- seeing the fucking date on my cell phone makes me very sad.

Anyway, my longtime friend Donn Erik has done something absolutely remarkable with his grief after losing his wife in the Pentagon. Check out the Shelley A. Marshall foundation here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Today was pretty nifty -- nifty for a 12-hour work day, anyway. Spent the last 5 hours or so running errands for a woman with multiple sclerosis, who reminded me of my mom in more ways than just that. Actually sort of a crabby, stressed-out version of my mom, with a deep love for blues -- played a slide guitar before her hands crapped out. See? Sad, sad job when you're hanging out with people so disabled that they can't even play the blues anymore. Something's just too damn freakin' existentially cruel about that. She was pretty cool though, which is great, because five hours with a jerk starting at 3:30 is much too much.

Anyway, I'll actually have a few hours tomorrow to throw together a few more job applications -- 2 for positions here in Arizona, and probably a few back East. I've given myself only a few more weeks to find something from here -- after that, I'm broadening my horizons as far as getting the hell out of Tucson. If I have to have a shit job, I can do that anywhere...

Meanwhile, I got a heads up from Josh about the recent doings of fave of my youth, Adam Ant -- he's re-recorded Andy's #1 favorite hit of ca. 1983, "Stand and Deliver" (mistaken by me to be "Stand in the Liver" until my fourth or fifth hearing) as "Save the Gorilla" for the Dian Fossey people. That, and he'll be dressing up in a gorilla suit and running a 7K on the 21st. Hear a snippet of his gorilla song (with Morrissey guitarist Boz Boorer on axe) and donate a few pounds to the cause here. And at very least, don't kill any gorillas. Yeah, I'm talkin' to you!

Monday, September 08, 2003

All right -- the main reason I haven't updated this in a week or so is mostly because the past week or so has royally sucked. It's actually taken work dis-satisfaction to a whoooole new level. I'm not sure I've mentioned this on this blog or not, but I've been working for almost the past year as a "Home Health Aide," basically a rented pair of hands for those who don't have use of their own. I've been helping a 21-year-old with muscular dystrophy with his daily necessities, and because he's also a college student and aspiring counselor to similarly-disadvantaged kids, I've also been acting as tutor, advisor, and all-around factotum. It's been a pretty good gig all along -- he's pretty cool, and it's worked out well. He reads his books, I read mine, and we're both happy. At least until I find a job that a trained monkey can't do.

Anyway, with the passing of my graduate assistantship and the 10 well-paid hours per week that I've also been depending on for income, I thought I'd ask the nurse staffing agency I work through for more hours working other cases. This has proven to be a very bad idea. In the past seven days, I have accomplished the following:

1. Cleaned the apartment of a 60-year-old HIV+ multiple stroke patient, which looked like it hadn't been cleaned since the Johnson administration. I'd go into more detail, but you don't wanna know and I don't wanna remember. There were flies...

2. Hefted a 200+ pound old guy from the floor where he'd wound up when his knees gave out on him, onto a bed. In the process, I pulled each and every muscle in my lower back. This weekend has involved hundreds of thin layers of Theragesic and Janine's fingertips, which I appreciate now more than ever.

3. Tended to another, much more destroyed stroke patient. The saddest thing about this was that his wife had a lot of pre-stroke photos hanging around, of them looking very happy together. Now he looks about as present as a goldfish.

All this has me both hating the fact that I don't have a job that doesn't require me to wipe up mucus and urine, as well as loathing myself for being reluctant to subject myself to a very real section of the American population that makes me so gaddamn sad. Sad for them and alarming to me that I and everyone I know are just one errant blood clot or metastisis away from being in a similar condition.

So I am, once again, re-evaluating my options. Clarifications soon. And hopefully no more morose Andy. All I know is that I'll be eating much better from now on, and getting more exercise -- I intend to be in good health and fully in control of my limbs up until my heart explodes. Which will be right after the gas tank of my Porsche ruptures on a rock below a hairpin turn off the Big Sur. Age 106. Left my glasses on the nightstand. Shit yeah.

Monday, September 01, 2003

I've been feeling impossibly upbeat over the past week or so -- not that I've been habitually dour over the past long time, although I'd have every right to be considering the hatchet job Bush has made of the economy, which has made my latest job hunt a study in ego crucifixion like nothing I've known. I've got a Master's degree, dammit -- my diploma says "Master of Arts!" How can you not want to hire a Master?! Igor and Renfield sure seemed to think quite a lot of the title!

Anyway, the last week has found me in very good spirits, although I have yet to figure out why. Had a visit from a friend of mine from Seattle, which reminded me that there are both cool people and places out beyond Tucson's metaphorical presidio walls. And 28 Days Later may have also had something to do with it -- however bad my job prospects may be, at least I'm not being chased by crazy, red-eyed, infected zombies with track shoes. Or maybe just that summer's finally over, and I have the hope of going outside without having to thumb the over-anxious, well-sunned melanomas back into my neck. And I've been listening to a lot of ridiculously, desperately optimistic Depression-era tunes like, "Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries" (which is quite Buddhist, really), "Sunny Side of the Street," and "Happy Days are Here Again." Then I watched The Grapes of Wrath, and thought that all Henry Fonda really needed was a crystal set and a clear signal from Los Angeles and everything would have been great! Some '30s humor for y'all.

Anyway, watch this space for new developments.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Happy birthday, Stacy DLM-F'nK! I trust you lived up the weekend appropriately with Meesta Lovva Man (that would be Dan. Or Shabba Ranks). Hell, keep up the partying all this week, and then you guys can keep going in Fiji. When and if you get back, you'll both have that very mod, cool heroin chic thing going.

And we just saw Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later yesterday -- a must see for fans of zombie athletes everywhere!

Friday, August 22, 2003

Woooow, after a good cigar and a couple of glasses of wine, anything is possible! You know it!

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Happy 113th, HPL! We all love ya, dead guy!

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Yay! Some may accuse me of doing nothing at all today, but do something I did! I sat around and thought of stories to write, then I started writing them! While this may be seemingly prosaic news to some, to me it's quite cool -- I haven't actually written anything in the way of fiction for years, and finally getting around to exercising my right hemisphere is, well, good. See, I've quite a way to go, but a journey of a thousand miles blah blah blah.

So now I'm writing a rousing tale of artifact variability in southern Arizona Chinese settlements around the turn of the century. Or maybe something else. Damn that left brain!

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Mocked up an application for a position in Albuquerque today, which will go in the mail tomorrow, and I'm still waiting to hear about some of the other positions I've already applied for. All I can say about Albuquerque off the top of my head (having spent a summer there) is they have some remarkable barbeque. I mean some F***IN' GREAT barbeque (oh, the memory haunts and torments me. One of those gastronomical moments where you let out little sqeaks of joy as you eat) -- that's an incentive by itself. We are trying to get back a little further east, but... man, I may never find barbeque like this again, and I hate to find myself in the position of gazing longingly at the western horizon from Virginia or something and thinking, "oh, what meat was that! I shall never again taste its like!" But then I'd think, "they ship!"

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Ooooo, just found a job posting for a cool position in Alaska. Just got my first "no, thanks" letter back from a potential employer, the first, I'm sure, of many before I find something more than temporary digging around town. One idea has crossed my mind recently: stick all of our accumulated furniture and assorted crap in storage for a while and set off, shovel in hand, across America, wandering from dig to advertised dig as I gain valuable experience and archaeological insight into the cultures of the past. I'll grow grizzled in the withering sun, my skin leathery and callused. I'll start appreciating Lynard Skynard (or however the hell you spell it) and regale my digging fellows with tales of my outdoor exploits -- getting shot at by ornery ranchers on whose land I'm trespassing, and wrestling mule deer. Or whatever.

I think I'll send off a few more resumes for actual jobs, first, but I'll keep it in mind.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Sigh. Just found out my old junior high school geography teacher, Bill Gallagher, died. I wasn't as close to him as a lot of others were, but I do remember him trying to get me to try out for the football team. How different my life may have been: lots of broken bones, lots of jock friends, cheerleader girlfriends. I coulda been somebody! I shoulda listened to ya, Bill! Sad to see you go.
Janine's been away for a few days, visiting friends and family in Boston, and I've realized that I've become so completely unaccustomed to the single life that I'm kind of weirding myself out. I'm definitely sleeping a lot better (HAR HAR!) -- no, I mean that I'm not having to share the bed with another person and a dog and a cat -- just the dog and the cat now -- and rolling-around room is abundant. As I noticed the last time she was gone, my diet reverts to beer and whatever else strays into my line of sight (Ramen, burritos, and last night it was some kind of generic Chex mix sprinkled with nacho dust). That part's getting better, though. I had a salad today, and some more nacho Chex for dinner. I told myself earlier that I'm going to lose some weight, so now that the Chex bag is empty, I'm not buying another one.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

WE'RE getting into the monsoon season (ofiicially -- it's supposed to start sometime in June, but the rains haven't come until recently), hauling the temperatures back down into the 90s, although the humidity isn't making that as much of a blessing as it should be. The change has had a strange effect on my moods as well -- two days ago, I was feeling like I wanted to take a hot bath with a razor blade and a toaster, but yesterday and today I've been feeling like a million bucks. So the job hunt continues, and I'm just wrapping up the immense application for the position in Louisiana, and preparing cover letters for other positions around the country. Meanwhile, I'm still in the hunt for a few local positions to keep me occupied and in the archaeological ballpark while I'm looking for jobs out of state. Wish me luck. Back to work.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Below, I offer tomorrow's Toastmasters speech in its entirety. Revel, please.

"Snobbery on a Budget" To be delivered with a wine glass full of Welch's, and with tongue lodged in cheek.

Let’s talk about snobbery. A bad word? No. A good word with a bad rap. Somehow, it’s gotten all wrapped up with those negative connotations of treating people badly, of condescension, of believing oneself to be fundamentally better than others based on education or upbringing or social standing or just maybe divine appointment – you are rabble, I am cultured. Me one, you zero. I win.

And, of course, that’s not what I’m here to talk about. This isn’t that kind of snobbery. The kind of snobbery I’m referring to is a refusal to compromise one’s tastes – an insistence on the fine things in life, no matter how pervasive the low-brow in our society. The inane sit-com, the hard rock concert, the intelligence-insulting commercial, the monster truck rally. A denial of those mediums as acceptable forms of entertainment and social discourse, a steadfast demand for intellectual gratification, for heartfelt, engaging art, for cuisine prepared by talented hands – this is the real snobbery. And it is open and available for all to revel in.

Yes, I speak of a snobbery of the cheap, the destitute student, and the hopelessly underpaid. As with God Himself, Tucson as a city believes in the sanctity of free will and provides the opportunity and resources to make one’s own decisions regarding the cultivation of character and the establishment of an identity. Money is closely identified, but finally incidental to, the pursuit of high culture and a lifestyle awash in the niceties that the Old Pueblo has to offer. Those wealthy citizens that hemorrhage money in exclusive resorts and overpriced restaurants only prove their true shortcomings as wastrels and chumps.

First, the adage that “the clothes make the man” is nonsense. The man chooses the clothes as an accessory, an accentuating veneer. The frugal snob finds fashion at TJ Maxx in the form of $10 Perry Ellis khakis and Ralph Lauren oxfords. Finish with a 99 cent tie from the Salvation Army – cycles in fashion almost ensure a width and pattern commensurate with contemporary styles.

Next, the classic libation of the true snob: wine. I’ve heard that sophisticated palates, when in a rare mood of candor, are unable to distinguish a $20 bottle of wine from a $200 bottle. I’d advise the discerning, economical connoisseur to find a quality $20 merlot (and thus a virtual $200 bottle) in the form of a $2.99 French table wine from Trader Joe’s. Granted, this takes some extensive investigation and much patience when sampling the prodigious variety there – indeed, some Trader Joe selections taste like concoctions using only grape skins and alum. But at $3 a bottle, you can afford to experiment!

Or pay the $5 to participate in the Beverage House’s bi-weekly wine tastings, complete with informally catered offerings from fine restaurants like Johnathan’s Cork. On such occasions, one can sample (and perhaps even make a light meal of) the well-seasoned chicken and prime rib, appreciate and become euphoric on the generous libations, and promptly depart without committing any further funds to the occasion.

Classic cinema lies no farther away than the shelves of the public library, and costs nothing more than the toleration of the librarian’s supercilious air. Also on Thursdays, La Placita Village presents celebrated films on a medium-sized screen, with acceptable sound, and offers popcorn free of charge. Suggested donation is $3, but that is merely a suggestion, and the viewer is free to use his or her own discretion.

Other inexpensive luxuries abound in Tucson. Shop at Anthony’s or Head East Smoke Shop for cheap seconds – tasty cigars that contained insignificant defects which prevented them from bearing the names of their well-known manufacturers, and are marked down to salvage the fine tobacco. Well-acted theater can be enjoyed at Randolph Park for the aforementioned price of “donation.” Ladies, cruise the Macy’s cosmetics counter to schedule a free make-over, but leave your sense of obligation at home. Or ask at Gadabout to act as a guinea pig for their masseurs-in-training, who practice their craft at a fraction of the price that they will soon command once their training is complete. Or if your mind feels starved, bask in the bottomless wisdom of the university professors at one of their free lectures, and converse at your next luncheon about the basket-weaving techniques of the Sedentary-period Hohokam.

The key is to refuse to succumb to the lure of the mediocre in Tucson – no Denny’s, no Riunite, no summer movie blockbuster, no Must-See TV that has you saying, “oh, I won’t be needing this (mimes lifting head off neck and putting it aside).” Enjoy your life as a snob, especially a budget-conscious snob. Keep the green in your wallet, and out of the hands of the overpaid restaurateurs and resort mavens. And remember to keep that nose in the air.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Janine and I are getting restless. We grow weary of being slow-roasted by the desert sun, and besides, I don't live anywhere for more than 5 years. Never have, never will. Nearly 5 years ago, I threw everything I had in the back of a Chevy Celebrity and left my nifty beach house in Florida for Tucson. Now I'm looking for jobs all across the country, and hope to up stakes and mosey along before the September 17th anniversary. Except I have to think of a similarly cool, possibly less Kerouacian way of moving. U-Hauls are lame, and my accumulated stuff won't fit in the back of a Chevy anymore, let alone a Jetta. One of the positions I'm aiming for is in Baton Rouge, and I think the idea of having a cajun accent is freakin' great! Of course, considering I got out of West Virginia without picking up the twang, I should count my blessings that my inflexions are pretty stable.

Friday, July 18, 2003

Spent last night browsing through a freakin' library of possible wedding invitations, and concluded that the people who design these things must be soul-less denizens of a sterile room in the basement of a Lisa Frank building. So Janine and I are going to try our hands at designing our own this weekend, and I'm wide, wide open to suggestions. Actually, if I use anyone's idea in the final invitation, I'll send that person the ear of the first person at our wedding to say anything snide, inappropriate, or confrontational. In which case, the contributor may be receiving a human ear necklace.

Anyway, the birthday was a blast -- Janine drove me out to Temecula, California for some wine tasting and some driving around, and we ate the first night at a turn-of-the-century-bank-turned-restaurant in the historical district, renamed from "Bank" to "Bank of Mexican Food." And I quickly realized after visiting a few wineries that the narrow, windy road linking the vineyards was filled with hundreds of other driving wine tasters, and thus was probably one of the most dangerous roads in the state to be driving on.

Afterwards, we drove through LA to Santa Barbara to see my friend Tracey, who I hadn't seen since I left Taiwan in '96. She looked great, her fiance was a really nice guy, and my long, lost shitzu (Dogmeat) was fat and happy. We caught up, went to a drag show, and I didn't even see the words kareoke the whole time I was there.

And on the way back from LA to Phoenix, we swung through the Joshua Tree National Park and Janine and I took black and white U2 shots of each other looking pensive and way cool with the Joshua trees in the background. Made up for a day of ass-numbing driving marathon and losing a damn hubcap somewhere west of Blythe, California (2003 prize for Most Ridiculous Misnomer, Small Town Category).

Good birthday. Next year: surfing the Ganges.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Good God, I can't seem to get the Halo Benders' "Don't Touch My Bikini" out of my head!

Anyway, had the best birthday in years (thanks for asking!), much better than last year, when I was roundly scolded at a seedy kareoke bar for causing too much feedback while belting out Bowie's "China Girl" for a hostile crowd that almost certainly wanted me to stop. Actually, I believe that to be the nadir of my entire birthday-having career.

This year took a dizzying, Clinton-era-stock-market shot upwards. But that'll have to wait. Got work to do.

Monday, July 07, 2003

Updated my website over the weekend, mostly with particulars about my wedding plans. Also had one of those transcendent moments on my balcony this evening, with a cigar, a glass of wine, and a book of 20th century history. Ahhh, the simple pleasures of the intellectual snob.

Also ate a big honkin' half-pound cheeseburger at a local hayseed bar. On holiday weekends, anything goes! Hope you all had a good one!

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

My resolutions are coming along nicely (see 2 posts ago for details) -- I've lost 2 pounds on an experimentally excessive naturalistic diet based on the Harvard Med revised food pyramid. What's great about the Harvard guys is that they don't appear to be writing pop-jargon-laced 85-step, spoon-fed for the lowest common denominator, health fad best seller bullshit. Lots of whole grains. And beer is made from grain, so I'm set. Janine was looking into the Atkins guy's diet a while back, and that guy's made me fearful of any diet book writer that stands to gain anything from their work besides plaudits from nutritionists. Breakfast: coffee, pork chop, cigarette. Lunch: 72 oz steak, fries, chocolate malt, no vegetables. Dinner: 2 rocks crack, 8 hot dogs, live gerbil.

And I'm still working on seeing Sunseri -- apparently Sofia cancelled her latest show due to a bout of vertigo. Too bad -- sounds like it'd be a fun show. It'd be like Janice Joplin's last show, over and over again. "Some say looove -- thud -- it iiiiis a riiiver -- thud" And as for Dan's show, I've taken steps to ensure my presence. I signed up for Travelocity's e-mail service, where you enter up to five destinations, and they e-mail you when tickets there drop below a certain price. I'll be there with money left over for toast and squirt guns. Wait, what show are you doing again, Dan?

Must sleep. Morpheus beckons. The Greek one, not Larry Fishburne.

Sunday, June 29, 2003

Went to see Calvin Johnson Friday night at a little hole-in-the-wall club that I'd never heard of. We saved quite a bit of money on beer, mostly because they didn't serve any. I think it was somebody's house, actually. Calvin Johnson is, of course, one half of the singing duties in the Halo Benders (see previous posts), the frontman for Dub Narcotic Sound System and formerly of the Beat Happening. Great show, especially because of the warm-up act, Sugarbush, which consisted of a pair of very tall young twins, who dressed in their best homeless chic and had haircuts that suggested 19th century Chinese in the front (ie, bald) and "hair cut with sharp rock" in back. Very interesting. Their music was alright, too -- kind of like early Oingo Boingo ala Danny Elfman's insane kid sister. Anyway, Calvin was great -- opened with "Banana Meltdown" and closed with a sarcastic/wistful beat poem.

And I got his autograph. Now gotta work on Fiona. At least I have Calista Flockhart's to console me until then.

Friday, June 27, 2003

All right, folks -- sat down earlier today and drafted a bevy of resolutions that I intend to see through to completion. Among these are losing 10 pounds, writing a lot more, moving, seeing Sunseri in concert, and, of course, seeing the Layman-Kennedy Tempest, all by the end of the year. Call it mid-year crisis, if you will, but I've been feeling lately that a change is coming soon, and readiness is all. I'll let you know how that goes.

"I've turned over enough leaves to fill an autumn..." -- Beautiful South

Meanwhile, Texas is now officially gay-friendly! (cue stifled, derisive laughter) This is probably a very temporary thing, of course -- Ari Fleischer went way out of his way today to emphasize that the President had no public comment on this issue, and I'm sure this will come up again in the Supreme Court after it's been stacked with archconservatives of the same flavor as Scalia in Bush's second term. The rough beast slouching toward Bethlehem is the Religious Right.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Kudos for Dan -- back in the directorial saddle again! It'll be like Clint in Unforgiven, where the grizzled gunslinger picks up his old guns once again to do what he does best. Kill cowboys! Go kill some of them cowboys, Dan!

And this link's for Caren, just so you know what to look for. Study these well. You must not fail! I've wired the funds to the appropriate accounts. Let me know what else will make this worth your while.

Boy, if my mom happens to log on today, how the hell do I explain that one?

Otherwise, not a whole hell of a lot going on -- smoked a cigar, looked into jobs, walked the dog, got depressed by a kid I met. Get this, for the "you think you got it bad" sermon of the month: I met a 15-year-old kid with muscular dystrophy (which basically means completely disabled by maybe 17 or 18, dead soon thereafter), his father is a 71-year-old Korean War vet with emphysema and heart disease who basically can't do anything and probably has another 6 months to live, his mother is a 40-some-odd-year-old vegetable, having burnt out on drugs. After the dad dies, he'll be a totally disabled teenager in foster care until he, himself, dies. Soon. Sad yet? Nice kid, though. Oh yeah, and his friends steal from him. Neil LaBute meets Dickens.

Friday, June 20, 2003

Hey, everybody, we're on the news! Well, our disaster area mountain community is, anyway.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

And for those of you in DC -- Fiona Freakin' Ritchie's going to be at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival sometime during its run from next Wednesday to the following Sunday (25th through the 29th). She's freakin' Scottish! Who'da thought that? If anyone goes, please get me an autograph and an audiotape of her making lewd cooing noises and sighing my name. Thanks!

Fiona Ritchie (Perthshire/Matthews, NC)
—Host/producer "The Thistle & Shamrock®" from National Public Radio. Broadcasting weekly across the United States, Ms. Ritchie is one of the best known Scottish voices on American media. She will be hosting concerts and presenting and interviewing Scottish performers at the Festival.
Attended my second writing group meeting last night, my first being about six weeks ago. I think I shied away from the group after the first time due to the fact that I seem to be the only one there under 50, which wouldn't bother me overmuch except that my writing style tends to be the kind of thing I wouldn't really want to read to someone as old as my dad. For example, the only thing I'd brought to the meeting last night was a rambling 8-or-so-page dialgoue between myself and a potential leading character in a prospective story. And somewhere in that dialogue, we were attempting to decide the basic personality of this character. The character threw out the idea of possibly being gay. I told him it wasn't a bad idea, but that I may well want to include a few sex scenes, and that I don't know how interested I'd be about writing at length about two men making love in semi-graphic detail. My character began chiding me with possible scenarios that would've embarrassed me if I hadn't been the one actually imagining them (something about being pleasured by pulsing hemorrhoids). Either way, it wasn't really something I was going to read in front of a group of polite geriatrics.

But at the end of the last meeting, I was assigned the task of tacking on the next chapter of their relay fiction -- I haven't read all of the preceding chapters yet, but it's something about a man who awakes to find a dead body that's the spitting image of himself. I think he finds that the body's his clone (or vice versa), and he's made to chop up and bury his own body. I did read the last chapter, which was written by a woman in her seventies and read like a Hardy Boys meet Tom Swift mystery. Didn't give me much to work with, and if I get really mired, I might have to throw in one of Donn Erik's old all-purpose man-with-sniper-rifle elements to help it along a bit. Hell, I might have lots of different snipers, all unconnected and with various bizarre agendas -- the only thing they have in common: sniper rifles and the will to shoot people. I call this "character purge!"

Monday, June 16, 2003

I guess it's about time I updated this. I've been fairly busy for the past while, although I'd be hard-pressed to give any details. The weekend was swell -- Janine and I drive around looking at houses in the area, as an alternative to forking over handfulls of cash each month for a rental when we could be bulding equity. Or something like that -- I need to have someone explain it to me.

Meanwhile, I'm on my way to speak with one of my committee members -- the last one I asked for professional advise was quite helpful, so we'll see how this one goes. Here I go!

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Man, I've been reading my little geek ass off the past few days -- satisfied my curiosity about Sue Grafton by reading (well, listening to) A is for Alibi, her first book from 1981 or so. Eloquent, but pretty dull. Then finished off Robert B. Parker's latest, Shrink Rap -- of course, Parker's the greatest mystery writer working, and although this wasn't his best work, I'll take him over a weenie like Patricia Cornwell anyday. Today, I whipped through Alan Moore's From Hell, which I liked quite a bit, even though I thought his choice to make Jack the Ripper into a possible celestial creature was puzzling. And now I'm on Steve Martin's brief Shopgirl, and it's strange to see Martin being straight-faced in his fiction. Promising so far, apparently a tale of a mopey, depressed, lonely girl who forms a relationship with a fifty-something businessman, and they help each other out emotionally, I predict. Kind of an odd read, though, if for no other reason than as I'm reading, I'm envisioning Steve Martin as the older man, and Christina Ricci as the shopgirl. That's just weird.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Janine upped the ante last night with a sort of crumbly blueberry pie and turkey salad sandwiches. She's got me beat anyway -- she can make all of this great stuff from sheer creativity, where I am still handcuffed to the stupid cookbooks and increasingly disgusting-with-splattered-food pages of Bon Appetit, which is either unjustifiably full of itself as a culinary authority, or abides by a definition of "spicy" approved by Barry Manilow. That jalapeno-covered roasted chicken mentioned below tasted a hell of a lot like roasted chicken NOT covered in jalapenos. I'm gonna have to start jerkin' some shit, just to make sure it tastes like something.

Meanwhile, my job hunt begins. Sigh. I do so hate job hunts.

On the plus side, I did manage to make it a zen weekend by floating down the Salt River on an innertube while drinking Sapporo and... well, no and, I guess. That's about it. Nice central-Arizona scenery, quiet and peaceful except for all the folks there in various stages of one-ness (some of them in the early, louder stages). And a rare appearance by the overt pornographer -- every now and then on the Salt River college-aged girls get so zen (or drunk) that they start taking off their clothes, to the amusement of all nearby, non-scandalized tubers. At a couple of points in the four-hour float, middle-aged piles of goo with cameras were standing on the banks and looking encouraging and hopeful that the svelt, college-aged girls would consider them more of a naughty dare-type prop than just icky, dirty idiots with no lives. It really got pathetic right at the end, as we were nearing the final checkpoint -- a pale, doughy guy in red shorts and a tee-shirt was squatting on the bank, holding a cardboard sign reading, "Show Tits, Free Beer." Of course, by then, everyone was tired, and the ones that had been drunk were probably just feeling ill now, and the feeling of playful lawlessness was gone as soon as we saw the exit staging area. You'd think at least he'd have the address of his porn website, so girls could see pictures of themselves flashing their friends. It'd kind of be like Splash Mountain (I would have made the obligatory Flash Mountain joke, but I believe there's already a site called that, with Splash Mountain photos showing people doing what you'd expect).

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Oh yess, and I just removed from the oven a roasted chicken with jalapeno slivers inserted under its skin, its abdominal cavity stuffed with lemon wedges and onions soaked in olive oil and soy sauce. And seeing as it was already past my bedtime, I promptly wrapped it in foil and shoved it in the fridge. Tonight I shall dream of very tasty flying chicken sandwiches.
Boy, I had far and away the weirdest dream (and the strangest waking-up experience) in recent memory last night. I dreamt I lived in a humongous, ramshackle yellow house, which was filled with people, tables, and junk to the point that it looked like a giant flea market. To emphasize the weirdness, students were racing each other around the perimeter of the grounds, which was lined with a high wooden fence, on levitating pillows while solving math problems. Meanwhile, there was a white rap star there who could fly (I think his name was Aaron Boone, although upon waking, I remembered that Boone's the shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds). In this dream, I recalled being able to fly in previous dreams, which is true -- I usually fling myself to the ground and find myself floating like I'm being repelled by a magnet. In this case, though, it wasn't working. I was getting jealous of the flying rap star and really wanted to fly again.
So I finally found a piece of paper in the house that outlined the steps to being able to fly again, although it listed a catalog of sacrifices I'd have to make in order to make this happen. I only remember one -- I'd have to cut off the tip of my elbow. Regardless, I became wildly excited at the prospect of flight, and began keening in a falsetto howl until I woke up gasping for breath. And if you want to know what it all sounded like, listen to the last few seconds of PJ Harvey's "The Whores Hustle and the Hustlers Whore," cranked up as far as your stereo cranks.
I've never woken up gasping for breath -- it was like some sort of apnea attack. And I haven't been exhilerated by a dream like that in years -- I felt charged all day, especially to and from work, with PJ Harvey blasting through my moon roof. I'm not sure what my subconscious is trying to tell me, really -- I was able to "fly" once, and will again if I give up... something? Part of my elbow? All material concerns? Is Eminem guarding a bizarre secret? Is Reds shortstop Aaron Boone? And at another point in the dream, I was trying to kill someone with a flamethrower, but I couldn't get the thing to work right. What the hell's that about? Or maybe my cat's just stealing my breath as I sleep. Jesus.

Monday, May 19, 2003

Back on track with the food ambition, if not the actual cooking talent. Attempted a recipe from Bon Appetit tonight that was supposed to produce gnocchi and instead gave me little clumps of potato that tasted like cheap pancake batter. You're supposed to smother the whole mess with a couple of pounds of gorgonzola cheese melted into lots of heavy cream, which I'm not going to do out of concern for the quality of life of my later years, but I aim to try it out with a good marinara and see what happens. Maybe I reproduced the recipe perfectly and it's supposed to taste like it does, but what difference does it make what it tastes like under all that creamy cheese? That's my perspective at the moment. But now, if you go to Chez Andre's anytime soon, don't get the gnocchi. It's not so good tonight. Try the cereal -- it's delish.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Janine's away in Denver since Sunday, and I've found I eat like crap when she's not around. Not necessarily bad food, just food that doesn't take any preparation, concentration, or anything else food really should have before it's eaten. For dinner last night, I had three beers, two bowls of cereal, and a can of Chunky. I'm doing slightly better tonight -- I had two beers, one bowl of cereal, an apple, and an attempt at cooking a chicken breast in BBQ sauce. I stuck it in the oven on a sheet, set the thing to 350, and waited. Fifteen minutes later, it was only lukewarm (and the BBQ sauce on the sheet was smoking and setting off the fire alarm), so I jacked up the oven as far as it would go and waited some more. That just made the smoke worse, so I took it out of the oven, stuck it on a plate and put it in the microwave for a long time. Which worked out fine.

It's not really that I can't cook -- I've made some really killer Tequila Lime Chicken, and some fantastic chicken vindaloo with half the ingredients the recipe called for -- but it's more like I can't be bothered when I don't have an audience. I don't have the zen consciousness yet to construct a truly beautiful creation (or the talent yet, I guess), then destroy it like a Tibetan sand painting. Especially if I'm the only one around to enjoy it. I get all gastronomically nihilistic and reflect on how cereal and roast game hen with pineapple glaze all wind up looking the same in the end. Shit is the great leveler of food.

Monday, May 12, 2003

Yo -- Andrew Bishop Bockhorst, M.A., M.F. Badass, DIG! Anybody wanna anthropologist, you send 'em to me! FO SHEEZEE!

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Alright, folks, tomorrow's the day I actually turn in my thesis. I actually tried turning it in yesterday to the... well, the thesis office, whatever the hell their official title is. They made me fill out some forms, and obviously jump through a few hoops, evidenced by the fact that I still have the goddamn thing -- one line on the title page had to be struck, and the margins in Appendix C were off. The nice woman at the office who gives a shit about these things had a freakin' ruler, the kind I hadn't seen since grade school when they were standard issue along with glue, pencils, and glitter. So I fixed all that today, and I give the 100-page behemoth away tomorrow afternoon. Then I call my committee director and take him up on an offer for a pint of IPA at Gentle Ben's -- I'll miss that crazy South Carolina accent, and his take on the Battle of Little Bighorn as the glorious last days of the "ho-ase wo-ias" (i.e., horse warriors).

Meanwhile, I attended a meeting of the only writer's group in town that I've been able to find -- they've advertised for a while in the local papers, and I think I may have been the only new face in the very small group (four others) in quite some time. Nice folks, but being as it is way the hell across town, I might have to start a group of my own, maybe even with people this side of fifty.

Monday, May 05, 2003

I have been here all day and I am tired. There is no bottom to this thesis -- I have found that I can continue writing it, like Michael Douglas in Wonder Boys, until the end of time. Each time I sit down with it, I add ten pages and it remains essentially the same paper. It is uncanny.

Sunday, May 04, 2003

Ok, I cheated a little bit -- I was tweaking the paper on Friday, feel a little bit rushed with the whole thing, called the graduate college and asked them to give me until Monday. They said fine. See how easy things can be when you ask. Seems to actually work fairly seldom, but can't hurt. So tomorrow's another day of tweaking. Fun fun.

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Things are pretty cool, except that I'd really like for it to be Thursday night instead of tonight. Tomorrow, all I have to do is spend time tweaking the paper and waiting for the day to be over. I know that's just a bad way to live, but for tomorrow, I'm afraid that's what's going down. Burning a day. Waiting for the night to come and go, and I'll probably go to bed really early so I can turn in the paper and go catch a matinee of X2.

And I have to comment on the freakin' American Idol thing -- if nothing else, just because Janine's watching it in the other room, and they've trotted out Burt Bacharac and now they've got all the remaining monkeys skipping through the aisles and chirping like a GD 60s variety show, the kind you can gawk at in mixed horror and disbelief on PBS every now and then. And it seems like the Holy Grail of these shows is to produce the next Celine, the next Whitney, the next Mariah. Why in god's name to do need more of those neurotic, plastic narcissists? Is there really a clamoring mass demanding a new singer who can get up into the dog whistle range? Does it bother anyone that Kelly Clarkson has zero artistic freedom in probably anything she'll ever do? Or that she probably couldn't actually create anything remotely interesting anyway? Kelly Clarkson and Saudi Arabia: two things that really don't need to be rich.

And Reuben's in the bottom two? What hath God wrought?! That guy rocks!

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

It's the eve what's sort of the final d-day for the thesis -- I submitted the final draft to the two hold-outs of my committee last Friday, and I'll be hearing from them as to what needs to be changed before I hand it in to the graduate college this Friday. When I do that, it's all over, and presumably I get my degree and ponder the next phase. But the rub is: will the changes be of a cosmetic enough nature that I'll be able to incorporate them into the paper before 3 pm on Friday? And even if they're too extensive to handle this week, will I be able to pass it off to my committee chair, who thought it was peachy weeks ago, and get my degree anyway behind the other committee members' backs? Would I even contemplate such a thing? Bet your ass I would. Especially when I got the White Stripes playing on my computer, "In the Cold, Cold Night," and everything's feeling surrealistically amoral at the moment anyway.

Hope it doesn't come to that, though -- I have no idea how extensive these changes might turn out to be, and god knows I can throw down a boatload of research in one week while parlaying two jobs and dishes and laundry and whatever else, but I've been smelling the end of the road -- the life without the thesis or schoolwork or objects limiting the transition to something beyond crappy research assistantships with clinically insane directors. I'll put my name to a Collected Works of Barney if it means this thesis goes away at the end of the week.

Happily, my committee chair called tonight and asked me to stop by tomorrow with that page of the thesis that gets signed by the committee chair and the committee chair alone, which validates it for submission to the graduate college. And, as Harry Connick once said, I'll be there with bells on.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

The end is near. So tired. Must carry metric shotload of books back to car. Sleep, wake up, read more. What kind of people are these academicians? Animals!

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Actually, not so bad a week -- not yet, anyway. True to form, the final paper's due to the committee (well, to two of them anyway -- I get the distinct impression that two really want to see some significant changes, one wants to see some minor revisions, and one probably hasn't done more than skim the first draft I gave him two weeks ago. Fortunately, the latter prof's the chair, and the one signing the final copy), and I still have quite a way to go tomorrow. Which suits me fine -- got the day off, so here's what happens:

Get up, go running for the first time in days and try to work off all the freakin' nervous food I've been pounding over the past few days.
Go to a coffee shop -- maybe Bentley's, maybe Ground Floor, maybe Coffee Xchange -- and irrigate my bloodstream with enough nerve juice to keep me in a rictus grin until lunch. Do work.
Go to the library. Do work. Eat another pack of Starburst and hope I don't become diabetic before my paper's done.
Carry 80-lb milk crate full of books back and forth from car to third floor of library. Develop hernia in last good inguinal canal.
Call committee member and ask him what the hell that reference he gave me has to do with my paper.
Become annoyed with punk-ass 20-year-old at table next to me for breathing too loud.
Try to ignore siren song of Cardinals' internet broadcast for three hours. Try to get it through my head that listening to the play-by-play will not affect the outcome of the game.
Curse myself for not having written more the night before. Which, I guess, is tonight.

Song in my head at the moment: "Lonesome Sundown" by the Halo Benders. Like a cowboy ballad sung by Matt Turley with a cold. Great stuff!

And I never snorted coke off a runaway's ass (re: comments from a few days ago). It's those things we never dared to do that we regret.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

Very bad week for me, I can feel it. During the defense, it seemed as if everything was winding down -- the director of the anthro department assured me that I did fine, everything was going very well. Then I met with two other commitee members yesterday, and it became all too clear how much more I have to do with my thesis. This week. Then give the penultimate product back to the committee on Friday, they read it and respond, then hand in the finished copy to the graduate college on May 2. And I have a long, long way to go before any of that happens.

But all's still Jake. If nothing else, I got that kick in the ass that we all get, and understand eventually that we're better off for having received, even if we're temporarily dismayed while it's occurring. So I spent all day today at the library, got some new sources, stressed out, ate a whole pack of Starburst, drank some Pepsi, swallowed my pride after a professional editorial working-over was performed on my paper... And that's the tough part -- it's very easy to be pleased with myself after pumping out something I feel is exceedingly witty and melodic. Then someone who's been doing hardcore editing work gets ahold of what's meant to be a very serious piece of work and shoots down all my witticisms as too colloquial. What the hell's wrong with colloquial?! It means "conversational!" What are they afraid of? The goddamn post-processualists are reducing the academic literature to an undecipherable verbal equivalent of a Jackson Pollack painting, I'd think conversational language would be an appropriate reaction against deliberately obfuscationist Ivory Tower jargon. Academia ala Garrison Kiellor -- mark my words: it's the new trend of the ego-suppressing intellectually curious!

Had a lot of wine. Listening to goofy music. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Friday, April 18, 2003

Oooooh my, very sleepy. I've actually been staying up for hours tweaking the hell outta my thesis like it was some kinda kinky S&M chick with a bruise fetish. I'm off to bed, but I want to wish Dan & Stacy bon voyage, and I hope they actually make it off of that flying steel death-trap known as an airplane. Have fun!

And be sure to check out the Halo Benders. It's like cool kareoke with a guy who tries to sing but can't really, and a guy who really knows he can't sing but does anyway. Sorry, that's the best I can do. Good group. I can say with confidence that all of you will like "Don't Touch My Bikini," as long as you're not expecting "good." If not, download their cover of the Smiths' "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want." Good times gone insane.

And there's heavy stuff going on in the world we should all be concerned about. God, I feel lame.

And I got a friend with a link none of you can beat -- a slick, articulate travelogue outlining her adventures in Australia and SE Asia, complete with maps, slideshows, and Ayn Rand. Boo-yah! And no, I'm not just making her up -- she is my friend.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Nail me up, boys -- it is finished! The defense is, anyway -- I was given a multitude of suggestions (and in the mouths of thesis committee members, that's read demands) for improvement of my paper, which is going to take quite a lot of time to implement, but the end's in sight! Very congenial, very helpful, not a one of 'em actively wishing me a total crushing failure. All over in under two hours. How to celebrate? Maybe a long line of Harvey Wallbangers, all the way down the bar...

Thanks again for the encouragement -- it did actually register through all that panicking this morning!
The day is upon me, ladies and gentlemen -- less than three hours to go before a panel of seemingly well-meaning and beneficent professors sits me down and asks me any questions they want, weighing my answers against the profundity of the discipline and the integrity of the anthropology department. No easy pass for you, not from this school. How does your thesis bear out the intellectual legacy of Franz Boas? Do you believe your interpretation of archaeological praxis sides more with the philosophies of Max Ernst or Anton LaVey? Who the hell do you think you are? ARE YOU LOOKIN' AT ME?!

Anyway, thanks for the well-wishing from those of you who wished me well. I'll be back in a few hours to let you know how it went. Until then, I'll be sitting here, wide-eyed, whistling "Toot-Toot-Tootsie" to myself through my clenched teeth.

Sunday, April 13, 2003

Two days left until the defense -- I spent most of today at work, not working, but reading over all-too-familiar texts that went into my big-ass paper, making corrections suggested by another one of my committee members (also the head of the anthro department), and trying very hard not to get distracted and download the new Matrix trailer and a clip from the new X-Men movie. And, of course, I downloaded both. But I still got quite a bit of work done. Damn, they both look fiiiine -- if this stuff had have come out when I was a kid, I'd probably be completely freakin' unsufferable to most of society nowadays. We're breeding a whole new generation of uber-geeks, God bless 'em.

And in reaction to Stacy's posting a new blog link every hour and a half, here's one from me: Heather Reddig. Dan met her long ago and chatted about Othello or Lear or some such. Pretty soon, we're not going to need -- we're going to be able to follow links to everyone we've ever known and read about their up-to-the-minute doings and thoughts on existence. Wanna know what Vicki Stump's up to? She just ate a burger. It was good.

And I must say that Dan's put a bug in my head -- I've been thinking a lot about writing fiction, having taken a boatload of time to write my first non-fiction work (my thesis). I'm still in the idea stage, but I've been mulling the process over in my head. And giving into the nagging possibility that others might know more about it than I, I sent off for a trial subscription to Writer's Digest, and I'll be attending a local writer's group as soon as my defense is finished with. If hacks like John Saul can get published, I sure as hell better be able to!

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Don't have all that much to say today, except that I'm quite pleased that the war seems to be over, so we as a world power can get on with our science lab project of rebuilding another society from the ground up. This is, of course, at the same time that we're doing pretty much the same thing with Afghanistan, which you don't hear much about anymore. The last news I heard from that place was that Hamid Karzai was having to tug on our national sports jacket to remind us that his country's still there and still needs to be rebuilt. But it is nifty to see a bunch of happy people in the streets of Baghdad, even if I am a bit chagrined to hear some of the folks there saying, "Thank you, Bush!" Screw you, Bush, you still suck. The war's over, now people get to watch the economy tank; you should've dragged it on for another year and a half.

Anything else? Nope, not really -- just a conversation with Janine about quadriplegic sex that devolved into an unbearable Fear Factor level of discomfort. Some things you never think would make you squirm, until you find yourself saying them aloud...

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Good things have been happening since I started this thing -- just scheduled my thesis defense date: a week from today (the 15th, 1 pm). Handed out copies of my thesis to my committee members (not entirely polished, but they didn't seem to mind), got back 2 edited drafts, and I'm in the process of incoporating the suggested amendments. Not many! Of course, I was expecting not assorted changes in language and detail. I expected booes. I expected Simon-esque "that was dreadful" naked disapproval. Not that I thought my paper was crap. I just thought, well, they'd think it was crap. The pessimist's x-factor. Seems to be working out fairly well, though -- all I have to do is wow them with my presentation and question-answering. Wonder where I can get some neon.

And now it seems like everyone I tell about this actually wants to attend my defense. What the fuck? I don't want anyone there. I don't want my committee members there. I want to stand in front of an official mirror and give a presentation to a darkened room and evaluate my damn self. Don't come!

And is someone reading this from Ohio Valley College? If you are, let me know --

Sunday, April 06, 2003

Special treat for all today -- a comprehensive listing of scented candle names I thought up and wrote into my Handspring Visor while hopelessly bored, authored sometime between October and January (roughly). Enjoy.

Spiced Tirade
Fir Burger
Winged Death
Beached Whale
Suckling Pig
Durian Fruit
Cigar Breeze
Squeezed Meat
Low Tide
Cotton Panties
Peppermint Bismol
Blue Bogman
Crimson Crowbar
Boiled Poppy
Funerary Bouquet
White Powder
Breakfast Disposal
Unsalted Butter
Old Spice
Mown Weeds
Spring Water
Prom Night
French Whore
Locker Room
Sommes Landscape
Grandma's Wake
Wax Apple
Fried Chicken
Dirt Nap
Pushin' Up Daisies
Rum 'N' Vodka
Buttered Missionary
Whole Grain Alcohol
Yellow Mist
Morning Breath
Musk Ox
Whale Oil
Divine Wind
Golden Shower
Hand of Glory
Betel Nut

Thursday, April 03, 2003

Holy God, that day sucked. I won't get too far into the blood and guts of it, but for #$@^'s sake I hope tomorrow's at least a tiny bit better -- just waiting for my apartment to cave in and my skin to be infested with boils so I can change my name to Job.

First off, I think I may have what's known as a dry socket, the most repulsive name in medicine this side of "vaginal fistula" -- it's when the clotted blood that seals a tooth socket after an extraction comes off, exposing the surface of bone and screamingly sensitive nerve endings to open air, pissing the whole works off no end. It causes a ceaseless sharp, throbbing pain in the jaw and in the freakin' ear, and generally all around the head area. So that starts and accompanies me through my day.

And I don't know if the shooting pains in my face had anything to do with it, but the day was filled with appaling annoyances, not just the everyday, laugh-offable obnoxiousness that we all deal with. The pains in the asses were exponentially more ass-painful. Janine and I changed our minds about our wedding location, and the guy who owns the place we had in mind -- the guy who said anything we wanted to do for our wedding was JUST GREAT with him -- got real ugly real quick over the phone when I said we'd reconsidered.

And the freakin' ISP, which is always quite reliable, wouldn't connect while I'm trying to hook up to the Cardinals internet broadcast, when all I wanna do is splay myself out on the couch and listen to the game and "make myself well" like Eric Stoltz in the movie Mask right before he freakin' dies!

So pity me, dear people -- at least until tomorrow, when I go back to the dentist and have my GD socket packed with pain killers and gauze. Who does a guy have to have sex with to get some morphine in this town?!

Ah, don't mind me.

Monday, March 31, 2003

Wow, unexpectedly cool weekend -- my thesis is, for all intents and purposes, finished. There are a few sections that may require tightening, extending, etc., but it's in a form that I feel ok handing out to my committee members for approval. Which is pretty much what finished means -- whatever suggestions they have will bring changes anyway, and it's certainly easier thorwing in new bits that they want than it is trying to second guess them. So, it's finished. Bring it on, eggheads!

And I found a Japanese restaurant that serves tuna onigiri, just like they make 'em in convenience stores in Takamatsu. Mmmmm -- tuna, rice, and seaweed. After completing the thesis, I guess simple pleasures sort of blow themselves out of proportion.

And today was the opener of the baseball season, as two teams I could care less about (Anaheim and Texas) battled before me as I scarfed down a spinach and artichoke calzone and a pint of Red Hook ESB at Old Chicago. And, eventually (a very applicable word in baseball), Texas, a team that sucks, trounced Anaheim, a team that won the World Series last year. When the Cardinals open their own season tomorrow afternoon, I'll start caring.

And I satisfied my curiosity about the Church of the Subgenious, an organization I'd heard something about over the years, had seen their half-sinister, half-ridiculous insignia (a fifties-era smiling male head smoking a pipe) here and there, and thought they might be interesting to investigate. I'd gotten the impression that they were an absurdist pseudo-religion pandering to those too intelligent for low-brow religious convention, and too hip to be Unitarians. I was wrong. What I saw was a George Carlin rant minus the humor, philosophizing endlessly, in much the same vein as those crazy Christian freaks that shout at students on university campuses until they find someone who'll shout back at them. Except the Subgenius guys didn't invite debate. Actually, they just didn't make any sense and said "bullshit" a lot. Being absurdist and low-brow is not endearing.

And got a call from Heather this evening, which is always good. Except when she's trying to convince me that the car I felt very clever for buying (a VW Jetta), what that's it's a VW and so well built and reliable and all, is a piece of crap and is just waiting to fall to pieces at any moment. She's got one (a model 2 years older, natch!), and it's the bane of her existence. Obviously, she did something very wrong to make it rebel as it has. I treat mine like a son. It's my Metro that I treat like crap, and it still loves me. Go get one o' those, I say.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Just got a supremely cool graduation gift from my Dad (arrived yesterday, actually, and I spent most of the rest of the day playing with it and bending it to my will) -- a Sony Clie PEG-NX70V handheld computer. Organizer, digital camera, voice recorder, datebook, address keeper, etc etc etc, plus (with additional memory) an MP3 player and video camera. And probably gobs of other functions that I haven't discovered yet. The only thing I'm worried about is junking the thing up, as most of my earthly possessions tend to get. My old Visor still works well, and has been a faithful companion for over a year, but part of the nifty blue plastic molding has snapped, and is hanging off one side of the screen. The ersatz vinyl screen covering I fashioned (in lieu of the $25 kevlar space fabric or whatever the hell it is) is looking ratty, and the whole deal looks like some grizzled bum should be tapping "8:00 am: drink self into oblivion" into the datebook.

So now everything's jake. Especially with the Vicodin. Ahhhh.

Monday, March 24, 2003

Wow, hey, the vicodin's kicking in. Just had my wisdom teeth -- all of 'em -- torn free from my mouth a couple of hours ago, and I'm feelin' noooo pain. Yet. I was told by the jocular oral surgeon (who was humming "It's Now or Never" while prying my teeth out of my gums) that when the anesthetic wears off in another couple of hours or so, I'll be feeling all the pain I should have been feeling during the operation. Which is why, I guess, he started me off with 2 vicodin, and more as needed. Which may turn into a kind of Ben Affleck-in-Daredevil kind of thing when I'm chewing them like Tic-Tacs while spitting blood in the shower. Still, not too bad an experience overall -- aside from the sounds and vague sensations (reminiscent of the sounds of de-boning a chicken), it was alright. And it was kind of fun hearing the attendant/nurse/whatever-she-was go into hysterics when I tried to talk. Wonder if she laughed at Kirk Douglas last night on the Oscars. Janine thinks I sound like Christopher Walken after a stroke.

Meanwhile, since I can't do much else than sit here in a drug-induced bemusement, I've been goofing around with my new website, which contains, among other things, a copy of my thesis. Good resource for those looking for information on Chinese archaeological sites in Arizona. Not good for those interested in anything else. Such is academe.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Well, too bad -- not really in the mood to emote about the war and all. I've been listening to the news all day (both actively and passively), from waking up to hearing that the Iraqis had drunkenly lobbed a few Scuds over the Kuwaiti border, bouncing them off the desert surface like they were trying to win a tennis match, to now, with Ted Koppel posing next to a line of M1 Abram tanks trekking across the border into Iraq, the drivers no doubt whistling "Over There" with their sardine-esque buddies. Definitely was surreal watching the initial bombings this morning -- very odd seeing live, static views of a city bombing. Sort of like a Jerry Bruckheimer film directed by Aleksandr Sokurov (film geeks: cue laughter).
Guess I'll have to spew out a few thoughts about the impending war tomorrow -- just finished up a three-paragraph musing on the current situation (as of Hussein possibly being buried under a few tons of concrete and missile debris), pressed the wrong button and erased it all before publishing. BLOGGER ADMINS! Hotmail is set up so that if you accidentally navigate away from your typed message, it'll still be there when you think, "oh shit!" and navigate back. PLEASE SET UP BLOGGER TO EMULATE THIS LITTLE TRAIT!!! For some reason, my typing has gone to shit over the last few years, and my fingers hit all the right keys in all the wrong order, and typing has become a pain in the ass. Let alone thinking.

Here I go -- better hit the right BUTTON!

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Well, I think we may have aced the "modicum-of-style" quandry -- on a pessimistic mission to (ostensibly) review a 1898 mansion in the heart of Tucson for our wedding site, and (realistically) score a free hour-long tour of an otherwise off-limits mother lode of restored antique Americana, we kept an appointment with the owners of the Zellweger mansion. The experience was almost surreal. Regardless of the fact that we were offered an impossibly "reasonable" (read: downright freakin' cheap) deal on the use of the mansion for our wedding, we were treated to the the company of a creature perhaps more rare than a panda with antlers: the selfless businessman.

Saturday, March 15, 2003

The weekend's here, and nowadays that can only mean one thing: trying to get the work done that I didn't quite over the course of the week while touring the town looking for cool, cheap ways to get married with a modicum of style. So far we've checked out Feast, a hole-in-the-wall gourmet lunch counter with a menu that will make you forget to ask for a reuben. And they cater, and they're actually pretty reasonable, price-wise. So, if we do have the wedding in Tucson, I may actually be able to set a table that will make eyes pop out, with elitist delicacies the ingredients of which I am neither familiar with nor can pronounce.

Of course, this is probably all just a reaction against a high school friend's mother's wedding. With a different kind of eye-popping spread. Ham spread. And Wonder bread. I don't know how to spell that sound that Homer makes when he shivers in revulsion, but I'm making that now...

Friday, March 14, 2003

Hmmm... there are just some things you don't want to get into at 10:22 at night, right before you have to go to bed because you have to get up at whatever freakin' hour of the morning that would make roosters shake their head in pity and compassion. OK, so we'll just leave it at the funniest thing I've seen today -- this involves my basset hound, as it often does (sickeningly, acknowledged). My dog is being fay and swooning in the arms of Janine, who sits cradling him. And, of course, the one word that comes automatically into my head is "Pieta." Janine is the Virgin Mary and my basset hound is Jesus Christ with floppy ears, whining and sighing, as I'm sure Jesus himself did, having just been crucified. Then he (sorry: He) looks up at me with those huge, "I got mine" eyes and I feel sublime.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Damn, boy. I know it sounds like some kind of Oprah "Livin' Well & Feelin' Right" segment, but I took to riding my bike around town for the first time in a while, and I feel like a million pesos. Actually, since I live about 8 miles from campus and I have to be where I'm going at 6 in the morning, I'm driving my bike to work, then riding around campus and wherever else I have to go. It's how I got svelt in China (I can't remember how I got svelt in Taiwan -- probably something about walking everywhere, which really doesn't work when you're out in the suburbs/sticks as I am). Actually, the only time I can remember being in really knock-out shape in the States was when I graduated from college and went through a concurrent traumatic romantic experience, and I got so pissed off I worked out to the point where I woke up one morning and my muscles didn't work. So now, I'm thinking back to my overseas regimen.

And now I weigh 171 stark naked. I'm waiting for Janine to start sleeping around so I can get down to 150.

Monday, March 10, 2003

Alright -- I have just enough time to add some time depth to this fledgling exercise in verbal exhibitionism. At this point, of course, nobody knows this thing is here, so this is somewhat like a flasher wondering the streets of a small town at 3 in the morning. Anyway, this week promises to be a bang-up one -- much more free time than usual, which will enable me to administer the coup-de-grace to my thesis, which is hanging on to its incompleteness like a narc having his fingers stomped on a fifty-story ledge. And from there, I can go onto the assault and murder of a variety of other projects on the horizon -- more on this in the days ahead. For now, the sweet strains of the siren coffee pot waft in from the kitchen, and I must heed...

Sunday, March 09, 2003

Looks like the first entry of my uncertain blog will be a test. I wrote a nice intro a bit ago, and it was summarily swallowed up by some sort of connection error or server lapse or something else I don't quite grasp. Oh well, as Tom Lehrer said, what the hell. It's my blog. And I love it.