Friday, July 29, 2005

'Life would be a ding-a-derry'

I had this great idea for a ranting essay while walking to the Tesoro this morning to buy a map. Now, unfortunately, I can't remember what it was or even remotely what the subject was. I know it was something to do with petty authority--maybe. Human conciousness is a fascinating thing--we claim to be so aware of ourselves and of our surroundings, but one must wonder how aware we really are. Moment by moment things just seem to slip in and out with ease. It is a pretty poor data retrieval system if you ask me.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


I think Middlebrow and I were discussing broken bones over pints Guiness at the newish Irish Pub-like restaurant thing here in good old SLC. He recounted his benign-tumor caused basketball break, and friend Jeff told his tale of woe and intrigue of breaking his arm twice. I then recounted my strange little story of breaking my arm, but refusing to tell anyone for fear of punishment.

"You know we should have a zine devoted to broken bone stories," Mid-B concluded. I was going to mention the ill-fated WASH (at one time a would-be real-life 'zine that more into a would-be online 'zine--neither really took off) at that point, but decided to let it pass. I'm still interested in making a 'zine such as WASH (and maybe even call it that still), but perhaps it is better just to have you, gentle reader, recount a story of broken bone(s) on your own blogilatination.

Post your URL in the comments. Remember it should be a tale of bones broken--bones.

But why all the bells?

It is July 27th and I'm wearing a jacket

Some Son of the Utah Pioneers [TM] I am: I didn't even link you to the Days of 47 Samba this year in time for the holiday. I guess it was that the proper holiday was on a Sunday this year, and, therefore, not celebrated until Monday. Of course now I can't find the file. I know its there somewhere, along with tickle-me Brigham. Ah well: I've been lackadaisical about documenting the whole weekend. Meh.

Friday, July 22, 2005

What to do? What to do!

I was gearing up for another hot day (this time not at work, so therefore unless I stay in the basement or turn on costly A/C, I would have to find some place else to go) but now it seems like it is going to be far cooler than the past few days: it is just in the low 70's at 8:14 and it is cloudy. It is kind of balmy cool out--not exceedingly humid like other places have it, but humid enough that you notice the difference in SLC. So now I need to change plans since being inside if it is remotely non-life-threating seems like such a waste.

I think I'll go for a hike. Dog Lake sounds kind of nice.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Funny that I used to dislike these interactive blogging moments

Ok--here's one for the kids at home: if you were a singer in a rock band--a really good rock band (insert your favorite here)--and you had a 3-5 minute hole on your next CD, which pop song would you choose to cover to fill up the CD and why?

Now no arguing that really good rock bands do not play covers. I don't want to hear that. Just name your damn song and tell us all why.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Rocky Mountain Review or sports re-cap is just another genre

Middlebrow and I took in the rookie Jazz team at the Rocky Mountain Review. The Jazz have some great potential in their draft picks: Miles, though young, has some great moves and court presence; Whaley has moves that remind me a lot of a young (but less violent) Karl Malone. Whaley snagged a passel of rebounds (both offensive and defensive) and scored a fair amount in the paint. He lacks an outside game, but they might have just been trying him out in the inside. Middlebrow things he had a double double. I have no access to stats to say if he did or not.

Other notable walk-ons in the review are 7 footer Forth who doesn't look 7 foot and ran circles around Dallas 7'5 Podkolzin. Disappointing performances came from Wisconsin hopeful Wilkinson who although trying, lacked any game at all, and 1-year-veterans Snyder and Humphries looked like they were completely uninterested in being there. Humphries was a ball hog in the worst sense, and Snyder, although he seemed to be trying on defense, lacked any shooting ability and quickly gave up even trying to take wide-open shots.

The young Jazz came close, but couldn't match Dallas's defensive intesity lead by Congan rookie Mbenga.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Indecisiveness is one of my strengths

I've decided to say "screw it" and connect my real self to this thing again. That last entry about music has brought back my petulance. If people don't like it, screw 'em. I am using my don't mess with me picture too, although in its thumnail size it makes me look stoned or at least cross-eyed. Hah.

Sonic Death Monkey or a Musical History

One of the folks at work (I would use the word "kid" but I don't think I can use the word "kid" any more without it showing some sort of generation gap) is hopelessly into 80s music. Now I think I've written about this here before and I certainly know I've commented on it elsewhere, but a few years back when the 80s stuff was hot again, I went through a retro phrase of hating 80s music all over again. This, of course, was a reflection of my 80s petulance where I basically rejected the music of that era as pedestrian at best and/or a synthesized means of exploiting kids to become a part of the MTV generation.

So to rebel against this I took up classical music with all the energy that a pop-music-aficionado-gone-terribly-off-track could give to it. It was smugness that originally drove this, of course--smugness that masked a huge amount of insecurity and fears. I was saying, in effect, "all you people think you are so cool because of the music you listen to? Well fuck you. I know the difference between a toccata and a fugue and and name a composer by only listening to 5 seconds of a piece." I knew I was on top of my game when I could get snobby even about the classics: Tchaikovsky is a sycophantic quasi-Romantic, masking internal conflict with syrupy melodies; Rossini was a musical hack with a talent to smooze the right people; Vivaldi wrote one tune...etc. etc. etc. I even had my top five composers and top five tunes. So you see the transference. I also got to feel a bit superior to others since the music I was listening to was obviously better than some pop crap that whoever else was into. This was a convenient cover for my embarrassment at having grown up on a farm and my somewhat desperate need to make absolutely certain that people understood I was in absolutely no-way a hick. Ultimately I was just setting out my own musical space that rejected everything that was playing on MTV or on the radio. It was my own version of SLC Punk where I was angrily opposed to pop culture and created my very own by reaching way back into the musical past to give it life.

This odd little musical world I'd made for myself was, like most things any of us do, something to prop up a lot of self doubt and, oddly enough, fear of being perceived of as weird by others. I guess I figured that even though my musical tastes were odd for my age, at least I had musical taste and could talk about them with force and verve.

All this knowledge did get me a couple of classical musician girlfriends who, unlike me, could actually participate in recreating the music that I admired so much. I'm not really sure what that means, but I think it kind of stirred up even more self doubt in me since I suspected they had a better sense of what was going on in the music than I did.

My classical music is still there and I can be uber snobby about it even to this day (I often wince, for example, at what they play on the local classical station and go on diatribes about how the other channel that used to play better classical music quit doing it in favor of a generic NPR feed), but gradually I began to accept that there really is some good music which although perhaps not "pop" is at least written by people still living. This all started in college and blossomed in grad school when I got heavily involved in the college radio scene. What this has left me with, however, is a huge blank spot in my musical history: I really know nothing of the sensibility of the music that was around when I was just forming a musical sense. Oh don't get me wrong--I know of it, but aside from a few key select tunes that are tied to certain teenage romantic interludes, I don't really have an emotional tie to it all. I guess it is kind of weird to have such feelings tied to Die Kunst der Fugue, eh?

Monday, July 18, 2005


Oh the reason I removed my picture from this thing and took on a nick name is that I've become manically paranoid about what I write here due to certain professional commitments I have made over the last year. It is not that I am ashamed of anything I write here (well I am a bit ashamed of my propensity to swear like a Croatian sailor) but I somehow don't really want this representation of me connected with a professional representation of me. I know that is goofy, very unmodern, and very unhip, but I guess I'm not being paranoid, just rhetorically sensitive.

So for now I will be theorris of the angry sun and leave it at that. It gives me a bit of peace of mind, somehow.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Dah dah dee dee dee dee

In general my housemate's cat barely tolerates me. Most times he actively avoids me or just sits there giving me the "what the fuck do you want" eye. I was surprised, therefore, when I came home yesterday that he actually showed some middling interest in my pressence. It was almost as if he was saying "What? You're not dead?" as he inquisitively peered over the couch at me. He had been in the middle of a particularly strenuous fur-licking, and had that surprised look in his eyes. He then actually climbed up onto the back of the couch and let me pet him for a while.

Now that's fine homecoming.

literary species

Something needs to change.

I hate to say I am a little annoyed by the trip I just took, but I must (that's a neat rhetorical trick, isn't it?). Don't get me wrong--it was a fine experience and I am honored to be a part of it, and we did have a great Institute, but it fronted some niggling urge in me to make some big changes at work and/or perhaps at non-work.

I know that's not terribly specific, but I'm not really in a mood to tell people about my odd feelings of anger and frustration.


Saturday, July 16, 2005

Seven at noon

I) Kansas City Airport has wireless, so I can blog my existence here on this fine muggy Saturday noontide.
I a.) The gates at KC are seperated from the rest of concourse by glass walls. People stand on the otherside of the glass looking in at we travelers like we are some zoo exhibit. I feel like I should be doing tricks or flpis or whatnot--like that gibon at whatever zoo you happen to visit. You know him--he's at every zoo. He gets up on his pole or his rock or his junked car (I saw that in a zoo in Kansas a long time ago), stares at his human gawkers and then goes into a routine of leaps and howls and, if your lucky, masculine posturing meant to intimidate or perhaps excite. My feel zoo inmates would no doubt think it very odd if I started to hoot and howl at the people on the other side of the glass, but I can amuse myself by the thought.

II) I don't really look like Nixon at all, I've decided.

III) I want to go to Orions when I get home and buy some CDs. I'm looking for some more R&B, I think. Maybe Rockabilly like Charlie Feathers. There was this record store in Lawrence that I kept passing by and could never go in because we got out of sessions later than its hours.

IV) The kids in the "Peotry Club" (as they now stylishly taken on their own dyslexic spelling as a badge of honor) at the College are funny. Their chief instagator is an unabashed Harry Potter fan and organized the group to go (in costume I gather) down to the Gateway Wind Tunnel[TM] to buy the book at midnight last night.

V) My iShuffle in iTunes is iUnstable. In the course of a few minutes it has played Rockabilly (thus the Charlie Feather's reference) Post Rock (Kinky "My God Is So Quiet") Classical (Tchaikovsky--how the hell did he get on there?) Sonic Youth and Beck (which I would probably classify in the same 90s Rock/Post Rock category.

VI) Frontier Airline has animals on their airplanes. On ours is an owl. If you know my work you might find that amusing.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Noah Tall

So Lawrence is actually a pretty cool town, in all. I didn't really have that much time to really be here since I was busy 7:30 am 9:00 pm most days with my Institute commitments. It is what it is. We had some time today, however, to just hang out. There are, of course, "departmental politics" even among our little group of "leaders" and the young folks (as it were) were definitely at odds with the older folks amongst the leaders (just as among the SI participants).

I'm looking at myself in the mirror above my fancy desk in my fancy if-not-icebox-like room and think I look more like Nixon by the day.

God I hate haircuts.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

We've been busy.

Here's a picture of me on the bed in the rooms. Judge for yourself on its opulance:

Sunday, July 10, 2005

It has facial cleaning pads in the bathroom

Holy hell, this Eldridge place is bigger than my last appartment. If you just removed all the furniture, marble floors, fancy berber carpet, and added a grotty little stove and put mother carcasses on the wall it could be my appartment. Well no, my apartment wasn't on the third floor either. Ok it is nothing like my old apartment other than it is probably bigger.

Secret pleasures in the heartland

As usual whenever I go to a town where there isn't that much to do and I am waiting, I spend entirely too much time watching Cartoon Network and wondering exactly when I entered second childhood. I'm sure that one of the side benefits of having kids is that you get to watch cartoons with them, and pretend that you are only doing it to bond rather than for one's own pleasure.

Now, of course, watching cartoons is not exactly childish these days, but I remember distinctly that day as a teenager when I gave them up as "childish." I'm sure it had something to do with my older brother (8 years my senior) who still watched them at 22, and the fact that I wanted to be absolutely nothing like him, and saw the whole of cartoondom as peurile. So I gave up my beloved Superfriends, and my old Warner Bros. pals. I suppose a side benefit is that I took up reading more seriously then, but, man I was a snobby brat in those days.

Stay hungry

The flight was uneventful. I used to be openly hostile to the question "how was the flight?" since I see that as a pretty dumb question. I mean obviously I made it because I am talking to whomever it is I'm talking to and pretty much the only thing that would be worth commenting on would be either 1) fiery death or 2) near fiery death. I mean commenting on the state of the snack seems a little mundane, and turbulence halfway through the flight is pretty obvious, so I guess it is a fair answer to say "The bottom of the aircraft did not fall out, not causing me to plummet 30,000 feet to sure death." It my smart-ass days I would have said just that. Now I just usually shrug and say "Fine." I shrug a lot and say "fine" to a variety of things these days.

My limousine service (in KC limousine means white Econoline van) reeks of B.O. We're talking Seinfeld-level here. When the driver mentioned that he had someone else to pick up, I had a queasy/funny thought that I would be spending the next week being a "summer institute leader" with someone who suspects me of having poor hygiene. Lucky for me the other passenger was coming to Lawrence for a conference devoted to health care on reservations, and had nothing to do with the thing I'm here for at all.

I'm staying at the Holiday Inn for one night and then will move to the previously mentioned haunted hotel. I don't know if it will have wireless access, but I'm sure I can get hooked up on KU campus.

By the way, I'm hungry and there is not a scrap of food in the hotel.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

I need a money belt

Moments like this make me think of Rick Steves as he Lutherans his way through Europe. You never see Mr. Steves facing flight delays or having to worry that his luggage was not properly removed from one airline and transferred to another. You never see him having a security search (although his over-midwesterness and propensity to travel in Turkey makes him very suspicious). He never has to deal with children running him down on the concourse. You never see him trying to remain calm while talking with officiously surly airlline personell. You never see the Rickster anywhere an airport for that matter.

Ah Rick and his happy-go-lucky travels through Europe! I'm sure tucked away somewhere in his money belt are horse-pill-sized Xanax.

Advice to Passengers

So my flight is delayed. Well, it is more than delayed; it was basically cancelled. My airline, however, did the right thing and put me on a non-stop flight from another airline. I get into Kansas City later, so it does mess me up a bit, but what the hell. This gives me the opportunity to enjoy the great airport bar prices. I should have purchased a mixed-drink--maybe a gin and tonic so I can feel more like some sophisticated traveler with the excellent view of downtown salt lake from Concourse B, but I have chosen good old honest Uintah Cut Throat. So much for sophistication, even with my new hair cut that I've decided makes me look old. Perhaps it is time for a wardrobe change. I foresee a very tweedy future and lots of elbow patches. Elbow patches rock. Rock hard.

Eldridge Hotel - Lawrence Kansas - History and Hauntings

The hotel I'm staying in while in Lawrence, KS is apparently haunted. Most of the action, so says the article, is on the fifth floor. I suppose my chances of getting on the 5th floor are rather slim since it appears to be the top floor (unless I have miscounted the building's stories.)

'The Call of Kansas'

The Call of Kansas

Surfeited here with beauty, and the sensuous-sweet perfume,
Borne in from a thousand gardens and orchards of orange-bloom
Awed by the silent mountains; stunned by the breakers roar,__
The restless ocean pounding and tugging away at the shore,__
I lie on the warm sand beach and hear, above the crys of the sea,
The voice of the prairie calling,
Funny, I thought it was just indigestion.

Friday, July 08, 2005

AMC TV Monsterfest Classic Horror Trailers

Not to get all nostalgic, but I kind of miss movies like this on regular commercial TV (usually UHF or close to it) on a hot July childhood afternoon, when you were better off hiding inside under the fan watching TV than outside in the blazing sun. I think I have seen all of those movies except for Dr. Phibes Rises Again. Does any other Utard remember Big Money Movie? Sci Fi Theater? Nightmare Theater?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

"All I want is a God damned waldorf salad!"

On the surface it would seem that choosing Hornby's A Long Way Down to get out of the previously mentioned reading funk developed out of Ha Jin's good but depressing works was quite silly. The book is about four folks whose lives have lead them to the top of a well-known suicide spot in Hornby's London to ostensibly end their lives on New Year's Eve. The narration (which is the troublesome key to this novel) is carried on through these four narrators and they take you through not only what lead them to this ultimate moment, but also through the aftermath of coming down--not killing themselves.

The strength of the novel is that it allows its narrators to explore what lead them to the moment of desperation in a real, unmasked fashion. At first, however, the narration seems forced in that the author is so intent on making sure that you know these are different people that he over-nuances the language. For example, when JJ, the sole American narrator takes over the story, Hornby throws as many Americanisms as he can and the whole thing comes across as fake. This is much like watching a British TV show and a British actor comes on playing an American*: the flat accent is one thing, but the over-loudness, predominance of saying "god damn!"--which Hornby doesn't do, by the way--and other uses of specific Americanisms just grate on the nerves. (I am sure it is much like a British person must think of American actors faking British accents.)

That over-done Americanism is an early slip, however, and the rest of the narration smoothes out and it is easy to ignore any problems in narration. However, one must admire Hornby's choice of hard people to narrate: a vacuous TV personality who has destroyed his life through sexual thrill-seeking; a woman forced to be a shut-in because of her completely disabled son; a "confused" 18-year-old girl who acts erratically and seems to want nothing but ill for others; and a lost American musician who faces a life of not having success in his career (or life.) These aren't exactly the easiest characters to let take over a narration, and at times I don't think Hornby gets it, although he tries like hell to get it right. I would say it is mostly successful, but like his American accent, holes do exist in each of the narrator's masks, and one can see Hornby's face behind it.

*A notable example of a British actor's rendition of an American can be seen in the episode of Fawlty Towers "Waldorf Salad" where a brash American comes to stay in Basil Fawlty's craptastic hotel. Although the actor is Canadian, he still plays his American in a most British fashion.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Optometrics--the career of choice!

Visits to the optometrist are fairly mundane events, in general--you go in (if you have broken or lost your glasses or contacts) and wander about like Mr. McGoo and hope you don't trip over anything, fill out some forms and wait. Nothing exciting. There is not even much action when you actually start the process of getting your eye exam, but these days machines do most of the work for optometrists (although they still keep their fancy eye devices, I suppose, to keep themselves in a job.) Put your head in the device and watch it do its stuff. Put your head in a device and let it blow a puff of air on your eye to test for glaucoma. That's it. You're done, really, but you still have to go in and visit with the optometrist where he can fiddle with dials etc. to double check that the machine is right.

I wonder, of course, if the machine is ever wrong. I think the optometrist who examined me realized this because he was quite lackadaisical in his approach. "Oh both are about the same; gas permeable are probably more economical in the long run," he drawled in response to my question about the benefits of soft or hard contacts. He was pretty non-committal throughout the examination, and wasn't pushing me one way or another. He was also very uninterested in answering my questions about different contact lenses. His only peppy moment, I think, was when he talked about Lasik surgery, which I instantly disparaged. Even his "which looks better one or two" while using his optometric device to determine my prescription was uninspired--he never switched from numbers and ended up, in fact, at "10" before heading back to one. Most optometrists switch it up between numbers and letters and things like "prefer" and "appears." That is "Which do you prefer, A or B?" or "Which appears clearer, lense one or lense two?" A good old fashioned optometrist does this with grace as he clicks the lenses in place--usually in some singsongy way that preserves the magic of the moment. This guy had not grace at all, and clumsilly flipped the dials.

Ultimately the guy knows the days of his job are numbered; there will be no need for him much longer, since the machines really have it down pat these days. All it will take is some legislator with lots of kids who need glasses to pass the legislation necessary to get rid of real live human optomitrists altogether.

Prognosis: my vision has worsened slightly since last year and my spiffy new soft contacts can last for a month (so says the optometrist who didn't give a crap about selling contacts), and all for about the price of the money I won in Las Vegas.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Viva Las Vegas: part one of one

I had a hedonist's adventure to El Dorado this weekend. I intented to write about the experiences and post them here daily if possible (which it wasn't) or post them after the fact while writing on the time (which I didn't).

I think I will at some point write on the Odyssean journey across town on the "Strip" to go see aquatic life (talk about a Steve Zissou moment), but not now. I have too much stuff to get done. Here is what I wrote on the first day within minutes of leaving:

July 2, 2005

If I believed in omens, I probably would have bagged the whole trip. I sat at the kitchen table, my broken glasses in front of me, wondering at the efficacy of wandering around Las Vegas in a near-sighted haze. I had already run through all the possible scenarios for fixing the glasses—tape, solder, mega-bond super glue, but I knew none of them would work on the metal. The bridge has snapped because I had inadvertently stepped on them while packing.

There really isn’t that much to plan for when you are planning a three-day trip to las vegas: 2 pairs of cargo shorts, 3 tee shirts with clever graphics, Tevas, 4 pair of underwear (just in case), 2 pair of socks, dependable shoes, necessary toiletries, and your wookie mascot complete with rubber Uncle Sam hat with a jauntily-turned brim. Since most of the time in Vegas is spent wandering around various casinos, sitting down and gambling, sitting down and drinking, or sitting down and sleeping in the hotel room, you don’t need all that much to get by.

One thing you do need, however, is the ability to see clearly—not so much for the sites of Las Vegas which are probably better off seen blurry, but more to be able to see your cards at the table, and whether anyone is intent on harming you. So there I sat, looking at the broken glasses, and knowing full well that even those one hour eye glass places in general take 5 to 6 hours by the time you are out the door with an ill-fitting pair of glasses. I had found my prescription, but of course it was out of date and they would require me to be reexamined (that’s what would take the most time and most of the money which would be better spent playing black jack. Depressing.

But no. No. I must go. It was imperative, even if the broken glasses were ominous and the problem of being unable to see properly, so I grabbed up the glasses, swore at them and shoved them in my pocket.

While collecting previously mentioned toiletries, I was happy to find that I had one of my old contacts that I thought I had lost, so I wet it down and popped it in my right eye, resting assured that vision in one eye is better than vision in none.

And that is all I wrote the entire trip. So much for travelogues.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Snow ticking

Lots of ideas racing around in my head as I sit here on my porch at 1:00 am:
  1. Way of the Puck (no The): brilliant movie. I was most interested in Mark, a man who seems to equate air hockey with everything in life, and the brilliant analysis of what it all means by the psychologist guy (sorry I am at a loss for name right now, and he has a blog--find it at Sleepy E's). Analysis of what it all means. Even though it is a rough cut, Sleepy has spun together an interesting cast of people, and the narrative flow, although not dirrect, carries one through to some great conversation about what it is to be 1) human 2) male 3) alive.
  2. Theodore Roethke. I really want to write about him. I proclaimed him the best poet of the 20th century, afterall.
  3. Unity.
  4. Purpose.

It is quiet and cool here on the porch. I hear traffic far off on the highway. It is a lot like the sound of a freight train moving through a sedate green valley at midnight: the sound of movement over there, but not here. Never here. I like that.