I hate doing research.

Actually, and here’s the thing, I don’t hate doing research. I think I just hate the idea of doing it. The idea of sitting with thousands of books trying to fill in some little gap.

Actually, and this is weird, I do like that idea but I don’t have the time to spend on that. I want to write – now. I don’t want to have to wait before I’m educated enough to write about something. I want do dive in and have the words pour from me freely already endowed with the knowledge.

It’s my muses fault. It must be. I remember a time when my muse was wide awake and every little thing triggered something deep within me that begged to be written down. I carried a pen with me everywhere and poetry found its way from that pen and onto everything from the College Rule Notebook I tried to keep handy to bar napkins and coasters that were within reach.

Then, somewhere along the lines, my muse died – or, maybe, fell asleep. The question would be: how do you wake up or resuscitate a muse?

At one point, the oppression of the military and the newness of alcohol (with, possibly, the faraway mentality of Southeast Asia) were enough to turn the typewriter over and pluck out a few noteworthy ideas. Sometimes it was poetry and other times it was prose.

There’s really only so much patience I have for my typewriter. It’s ancient and lacks the ability of “Shift” which means no capital letters. I became e.e. cummings.

Then, I found drugs. I don’t know if they helped or hurt the muse but I’m pretty sure I cranked out a steady stream of bad writing around the time I was groovy. Let’s see… this would’ve been 1999 mostly but especially one crazy summer.

It was the summer of ’99.

I think I actually started with Ecstasy which is weird if you think about it. My roommate had just discovered it and you know how those kids can be. I lied and said that I’d done it before and that I’d love to do it with him. I don’t even think I’d really smoked pot or anything. I’d gotten drunk a few times and it was fun but I’d never really thought of myself as someone who would willingly eat something with heroin in it. But I did. I have a small notebook full of bizarre illustrations and the hazy memories to prove it. Buy me a drink, give me a smoke and I’ll tell you all about it.

Sometime, after the drugs, after the military discharge but before the long, drawn out working stiff years, is when the muse shriveled up and left. I don’t know where it went but it’s gone. It’s been replaced with a sort of nagging yearn to create but without the vivid voice that told me what to say. Instead, I’m left with the memory of writing, a pen in each pocket and track marks, a grim reminder that any smarts I was credited with have since exploded into a red ribbon of blood before the plunger pushes the tainted cocktail back into me for a rush of epic bliss.

Followed by a writer’s block that God couldn’t cure.

And so I sit, my fingers poised above the Home Row, my eyes staring at those hands. I see faded scars from early stabbing and the tattoos, a cliché attempt to hide them. I see the two watches that I’ve always worn but still don’t have a reason why and I see the ring.

She picked it out and married me, knowing what I was and loving me anyway. Her hands are the ones that trace the scars and feeble tattoos and her voice is the one I hear. Even though she’s at work, while our baby sleeps soundly in the next room, it’s her voice that I hear, telling me to keep trying.

To just type.

As I watch my hands, poised over the Home Row, I see that I’ve been typing; I’ve been writing. And I think I might have just found my hiding muse. She wasn’t sleeping or dead, she’s just at work – but she’ll be home soon.

warning: another april is almost gone, so before it does leave us, I wanted to express the bitterness of it having come at all... smile, it's short :)
if april were a drug, I'd shoot it
In my blood each spring. Alone,
Afterwards, this opiatic month makes my soul:

Grow old.
Grow cold...


...Perhaps Life, after all,
is a problem
better left...


...unsolved?

I have been without a TV for upwards of 4 years. Recently, with my new living accomodations, I was not only provided 'net access, but cable TV came knocking on my doorstep. I pulled my old WinTV card out of mothballs and installed it back into my computer system. The reimmersion back into TV-topia has been somewhat painful- news, schedules, sit-coms, edited movies, commercials... everything I once hated about TV is not only still there, it has gotten worse. It's an ugly thing to remind one's self exactly why they were so happy to be without a certain thing in life.

Luckily, there is still Comedy Central to bail me out when times get tough. Alas, not tonight. Tonight Comedy Central slapped me in the face with the first pilot episode of The Critic, the one I've never seen before. I dunno if anyone remembers that show, but I certainly do. Film critic Jay Sherman (voice acted by Jon Lovitz) stumbles through life, love and horrible movies while desperately trying to bring down his wall of cynicism, one brick at a time... and consistently fails. Within the heart of Jay Sherman is a romantic, trying to get out, but the romantic within just can't seem to get past the layers of fat.

Anyway... the pilot episode... Jay meets a new starlet, Valerie Fox. Ms. Fox, who has just wrapped on her first movie "The Kiss of Death", has taken a surprising interest in our Mr. Sherman and sets herself to the task of wooing him, quite successfully I might add. Meanwhile, Jay has not yet seen his new girlfriend's soon-to-be-released film. He does his best to avoid it, knowing that his integrity as a film critic may move him to give nothing less than an honest and absolutely brutal review. To no avail, though. He sees the movie and, true to form, shoots it full of holes- along with a pretty scathing review of his One True Love's (tm) performance. Needless to say, Ms. Fox flies the coop ASAP.

I don't know why this particular show struck such a chord within me. It just did. I mean, I've seen lots of episodes of The Critic in the past- I knew that Sherman would somehow end up alone by the end of the show. It's just that... something within me groaned right along with the character, when his Miss Wonderful left him. I felt cheated, alone, betrayed and forlorn. Cast aside and forgotten. I actually empathized with a frickin' cartoon character. How far have the mighty fallen?

I've been thinking a lot, lately, about the state of Things in my life. Getting older. Getting grayer. Falling apart slowly, as people tend to do over the years. Wanting to share the remaining years of my life with someone and finding empty air, mostly.

Of course, I am mostly to blame for my loneliness. I know this. I don't go out. I don't socialize. I don't make an effort. I'm not particularly charming. I don't like being in crowds of people. I sure as hell don't go to parties- never have. I don't push myself forward with ambition or vigor- never have done that, either. I smoke. I tell the truth. I look as lost as I feel. These things I know and I do nothing to change them.

But it still sucks, being lonely. Having the want for something, or someone, and not being able to satisfy that desire.

Last night she called me, asked me if I was going to the cafe. I told her that I hadn't been to the cafe for weeks and that I was probably going to stay home. Every other time she's called, I jumped and would be only too glad to go meet her somewhere. Last night I didn't. It was a conscious effort. I actually thought about going out, but decided, definitively, not to. Certainly, I wished her a good time with her friends, but I just wasn't up for it. I called her up tonight, left a message on her voicemail. Told her that I was going out to a movie, which would be starting at 9:30, 10:00 and 10:30. The Punisher. She called back shortly afterwards and begged off, she had a college paper to work on. She asked if she could call me back at 9:30, in case she could get done in time. Sure, I said, I can hold off 'till 10.

She never called back. So I went to the movie alone. The movie wasn't as good as I'd hoped. The experience of it was like a massive underpinning of my current love life: when I say that I saw the move alone, I mean that the entire theater was empty- I saw it alone. When I got home and saw The Critic, in the hopes of getting a few laughs, things just got worse... the show got to me, showed me what loneliness really is.

There are days, mi amigos, when I want to cry.

One of the last things you gave me (and one of the things I cherish most) was a copy of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. At the time I thought I was a Buddhist, just as young people all over America do when they're in high school and fancy themselves more wise than their peers. If I'd actually taken that book to heart then I'd not have behaved like such a fucker.

When I was an asshole, I spake as an asshole, I understood as an asshole, I thought as an asshole. When I became a man I tried to put away asshole-ish things.

It wasn't until I graduated college and was living on my own that I was forced to do some very deep thinking. Thinking about who I was and what I really wanted and needed out of life. Thinking about what life was, in itself. I haven't really come to any serious conclusions on this, and I expect I probably never will. One thing I have come to understand, though, is that we're all in this together. We're responsible for everything that we do, and we should feel responsible for the things that happen that we don't try to stop.

And I do. I recall one of the things I thought (if not said; I don't remember every word I ever uttered) before I left for college was that I couldn't feel responsible for you. That I had to worry about my own future over yours, which is of course common-sensical and practical. It's also quite cruel. You guessed right in that there was something I wanted to tell you, and it was this: I'm sorry, and I don't expect forgiveness.

I'm sorry for seeing you as little more than easy sex.

I'm sorry for not wanting to have sex with you.

I'm sorry for ignoring you for going on 5 years now.

I'm sorry for abusing your trust so many times.

I'm sorry for that "I love you like a sister" bullshit.

I'm sorry for making you listen to me drone endlessly on about myself over the phone, through IMs, and earlier in this email.

Most of all, I'm sorry for not returning the love you gave to me.

In one of the break-up letters you wrote me, you said that one day I would realize that I'd lost someone who would love me no matter what, and that I would regret it. Your clairvoyance is formidable.

Lap Steel Guitar - Ultra-Ironic Commentary on Sexism - Tiny Reference to 'How to Constrict Anus Etc' / Elizabeth Bathory / 'Immoral Tales' / Palomo(a) Picasso - Marianne Faithfull - Hate and Fear - Dire Straits - The Unsayable

In my quest to own one of every type of instrument - except for those which require the player to drain out surplus phlegm - I have ordered a lap steel guitar from an online music shop which I will not name. There are a surprising dearth of online musical instrument shops in the UK. Christ, Google have just done their IPO, four years late, although with a more plausible figure of two point seven billion dollars, which is nothing. I want to stress as a British person that the word 'billion' means 'thousand million' in the UK. It never, ever means 'million million', despite what is written elsewhere. 100,000,000. When The Times and The Daily Telegraph write about something being worth or consisting of billions of things, they mean 'thousand million'. I did not know the word 'milliard' until I read Erich The Viking Von Braun Daniken Skywalker's 'Chariots of the Gods?', admittedly I was six at the time but I was reading books before then. Billion has nine zeroes. It has nine zeroes. It has nine zeroes. If you visit the UK and write out a billion with twelve zeroes people will think you are writing about hundreds of billions.

Right now the top headline on Yahoo.com is "9/11 panel quizzes Bush, Cheney for hours", a phrase which I find surprisingly erotic entirely for the phrase 'for hours'. It is the extended and inescapable suffering of individuals that excites me.

Lap steel guitar, but in blue:
http://www.musiccorner.co.uk/acatalog/Lap_steel_Guitars.html

Lap steel guitars impress me because they can be rested on a table. Growing up as both a computer user and a frequent eater of food from plates, I am naturally drawn to things which sit on a table. Lap top computers for example; as with lap steel guitars they are supposed to sit on one's lap, but make more sense on the table. I find lap top computers extremely hard to use whilst sitting in my lap, especially given that I am prone to involuntary erection of the penis.

If I was really crude and/or drunk I might add that women are, however, equally fine whether on the lap or on the table but I can't say that, I can't, because it's terrible. Before you write in saying that I'm being sexist - I'm not. For a start, I've just bought a lap steel guitar, a guitar unlikely to attract women. Women flock to guitar players because guitars are like big cocks, whereas lap steel guitars are like big baguettes or stools or salami, and women prefer human flesh to that of the animal. Flesh flows from the organs of woman, and in turn they consume flesh. This explains the female desire to be penetrated, an activity which would otherwise be as horrific as the naked lunch which so disgusted William Burroughs. But how to explain the lesbian, that bathes in blood? Homo-superior, or effective way?

I know very little about the history of lap steel guitar. The instrument is used a lot in both country and western, to produce the twangy, 'eeewww-wahhh-eeewww' sound that precedes tales of brides dumped at the altar and/or the bad man who rode into town and/or realising that one will never be driven through Paris in an open-topped sports car, with one's hair streaming in the wind...

Because of course there is no Paris. Not the Paris of the imagination. Even if one were to hire a Triumph Herald convertable and drive down 1 Rue Paris through the gate that's in those photographs with the Nazis, it would not be Paris. City of urine and subways and rain and the echoes of Stuart Wyatt's digital delay unit. Modern city of Hondas and mobile telephones and People Who Are Relatively Atypical. Ernest Hemingway is dead. Killed himself. No-one like him today, not writing great works of literature at any rate. The dragons that made men heroes have all been slain, and we have slain the heroes ourselves.

I plan to use the guitar to create ambient music, perhaps even ambient C&W, as in the case of the KLF's 'Chill Out'. I will fail. But it will be more exciting than playing 'Close Combat : Invasion Normandy' over and over and over again, playing on the side of the Nazis, who have appeared once before in this message.

In the UK from about 1936 to the mid-80s the Nazis were essentially comical figures, on account of the UK's distance from Nazi occupation, and from the works of Giles, the cartoonist for the Daily Express. The death and destruction of the 'blitz' was terrible, but impersonal; the bombers did not have faces, the bombs came from the black night sky and the damage was only visible in the morning. And of course we won, it's hard to hate somebody who you've smashed. It is hard to have hate without fear, and who feared the Nazis in 1946? I count 'loathing' as something separate from 'hate', it's closer to nose-wrinkling 'disgust' than the active will-to-kill of 'hate'. I speak as someone who is filled with hate, someone who identified too much with 'Seul Contre Tous' and the first half of 'Full Metal Jacket' - I hated Private Pyle - and for that matter 'Taxi Driver'. By 1946 we had other fish to fear, but even then the fear was not so much of the Soviets but of their bombs.

My slogan for today is therefore 'it's not the man, its the megaton'.

Lap steel guitar, etc. There is such a thing as a pedal steel guitar about which I know little - another WW2 reference there - and also there is just 'steel guitar'. There is one of the cover of Dire Straits' 'Brothers in Arms'. The thing that dates that album cover is not the picture, which has a 'Tubular Bells'-esque timelessness to it, but the pink border around it:
http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B00004Y6NP.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

Also, whilst we're on the subject of Dire Straits, has anybody else here considered suicide? No, I'm joking. I mean to say 'has anybody else here wondered exactly how a photograph of a steel guitar in front of some sunlit clouds illustrates the phrase/concept/song 'Brothers in Arms''? It's striking that the one thing you'd expect to see holding a guitar - arms - are absent, insofar as 'the one thing' can be 'are' rather than 'is'. Although I think at the time that Mark Knopfler's brother was in the band. He must be so bitter and hate-filled right now, for his own brother, too. I don't have a brother, but to be so angry that you'd consider torturing and strangling your own brother must be very angry indeed.

I find myself opening many of my writings with 'In my quest to X'. Dearth, phlegm, diverse, precedes, surplus, all of these words are signs of a large and diverse vocabulary, or at least one which is slightly above-average.

I have discovered Television, the band. They used guitars - two of them, and a third doing the bass. I believe my next writeup will be a more accurate, more forceful translation of 'The Horst Wessel Song'. Oh, to have been a part of it. Even if it was doomed, and evil. To have been there, to have been a hero, if only for one day and in one's own mind and the mind of others similarly deluded, and with the dread fear of the biggest hangover in history after the party.

I left Virginia College night class early, to go ask out this chick. On my way home I'm listening to the radio, and they're having a contest to win concert tickets. The hitch? The song's played backwards. So I listened to the clip, and I had no idea. And they played it again, when I realized what it was.

Fly Away, by Lenny Kravitz.

So I called. And called. And called and called. Until I finally got through. And I spoke the words.

And y'know what? I won two tickets! Didn't necessarly like the band P.O.D, but still. Fate smiled upon me. For once.

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