sniffle, sniffle...

AHHHH-CHOOOOOO!

Habink a cole really, really thucks.

So now that I'm back in NC, I not only got sick, but I get to deal with the fact that my dad is now a complete religious nutcase. My dad is, to say the least, a very 'rough around the edges' individual. Well, he broke up with a woman, wrecked his truck, and then found Jesus (in the form of the Southern Baptist church). Normally, I'm very cool and supportive of this type of thing, but he isn't acting out his newfound spiritual conviction in very healthy ways, and his preacher isn't much better. I have a new saying since I met him. "Never trust a preacher who wears a gold watch."

Now... My dad is, at this point, doing such things as telling his exgirlfriend that she's "Satan's wife", and telling his boss that he "Rebukes him in the name of Jesus Christ!", among other colorful stories. But, I still have to be supportive, because religion is really important to him now. It doesn't really do to tell one's family members that "Hey, the Jesus thing is really cool and all, but the running around acting like a fuckwit isn't." That type of thing makes for some uncomfortable holidays, if you know what I mean. So I keep my mouth shut. I tried going to church with him, but Southern Baptist services seriously strike me as an easy listening concert with a hate speech tucked somewhere in it. It sickens me.

Since I try to be the tolerant type, I find some of his new beliefs to be a bit offensive, to say the least. Sometimes it's just sad. We were watching this show about this huge ice storm in Canada, when he turns to me and says, "Jacob, do you know what caused that ice storm?"

I responded with some sardonic comment about weather patterns and precipitation, but there was no stopping the Jesus angle at this point.

"Jacob, do you believe in the Wrath of God?"

"Sure, Dad."

"Did you know that my preacher would have been arrested in Canada for his sermon today, because it's illegal there to say that homosexuality is wrong? And look right there on that screen."

"Dad, are you seriously suggesting that Canada (and parts of the Northern US) was hit with an ice storm, delivered personally by God, because they have anti-hate speech laws?!"

He just shrugged, and chuckled, smug in his joy in seeing his fellow man's pain. Real Christ-like...

Then he called me with one the other day, and told me something that still makes me angry when I think about it.

"Jacob," he says to me in that 'I'm about to tell you a universal truth' tone of voice. "I've been thinking about that whole tsunami thing that happened in Asia. And I was thinking, you know, a lot of babies got killed over there, but it's good that they did, because they were killed before the age of accountability, so they're in Heaven now. If they had grown up to be adults, they would have been raised into other religions, and so they would have gone to Hell, but since they were killed in the tsunami before then, they're with Jesus now. So it's really a blessing. PRAISE GOD!"

Quote-unmotherfucking-quote.

I have never, in my life, ever, EVER heard something so fucking stupid and hateful as this. He's glad, GLAD, that children died, so they wouldn't have a chance to grow up to be nonchristian.

I'm thinking that maybe it's time to stop being supportive of his 'newfound religious awakening'. There is no amount of personal good that can be done in his life that would justify this. None.

That's my rant for the day. To those people that I promised mix cds to, give me a bit to get paid again, and I'll send them out. If anyone else, would like one, send me a note. Here's a tracklist:

Default Consciousness: Mixed by Myrkabah

  1. Analog Pussy - 2B
  2. Sesto Sento - Smart Move
  3. Psyside - Crazy Space Lab (Remix)
  4. Sesto Sento - Dive to Drive
  5. Kindzadza - Dasty Ho
  6. Neuromotor - The Brain Forest
  7. Wizzy Noise - Adrenaline Drum (Pt 2.)?
  8. Distortion Orchestra - Quantum Mechanic
  9. Kindzadza - Furiya Kruchinya
  10. Miranda - Phenomenon 2004
  11. Sesto Sento - Cookie Stealer
  12. Analog Pussy - Future
  13. Alien Project - One Ring
  14. Miranda - Rainforest 2004
  15. Analog Pussy - Psycho Punko
It's a live mix, so there's some rough edges. I'm taking a copy down to Durham to have a friend of mine do some mastering to it, but I know from experience that if I wait around perfectionating it, I'll never get it out. I have an Mp3 available too, but be forewarned: My encoder clipped the shit out of some of it.
This excessively long daylog has been brought to you by fatigue, the cold virus, DXM, and THC. Fnord.
Update: I talked to my dad about the whole issue, and let him know that I was extremely offended by that whole tsunami thing. He apparently finds my defending homosexual rights to be just as offensive. Blech.
The check seems lighter than a feather between my fingertips. It's not that much, enough to take a girl to dinner, no more. But on the memo line she wrote the words "for one story".

I have sold my first story. I have been paid for my words. I am now, if not quite a professional, at least something more than a rank amateur. That little check means somebody thought my words were good enough to spend money on.

Robert Heinlein once wrote that 90% of the people who say they write never finish anything. Ninety percent of those who finish never submit. Ninety percent of those never find publication. Ninety percent of them never get paid. So I have joined the top one hundreth of one percent of all writers.

Three cheers for me. But that check does not make me the second coming of Gene Wolfe. Connie Willis will not find her agent leaving messages on my answering machine. My sordid little tale will not win a single award. The chasm between myself and those great writers seems wider than it did the day I first picked up pen and paper.

But i have this check, and I'll aways have it, whether I cash it or not. Writing involves lots of nights when words will not come. Days when your work all seems awful. Days when you don't want to work at all. A check, however small, is important when the words come out hard or wrong. It's proof that if I try, they will eventually come out right.

When I was a kid I had the pleasure of saying my grandpa was Johnny Carson. It was the kind of things that kids delight in throwing around to widen the eyes of their peers and inspire a chorus of nuh-uhs, only to announce that it was, in fact, technically true. Of course, he was only John on paper and nobody called him Johnny; they called him Ted, actually, which is a story for another time.

It wasn't such a stretch to compare the two anyway. My grandfather was likely who Johnny Carson would have been if he'd stayed on the farm. They looked alike (at least to my rather subjective memory). And they were both gentlemen, in the sense of the word that emerges when you break it apart: a mix of heartland reserve and courtesy belied by a consistent twinkling, smile-wrinkled irreverence. You knew, if you got into a jam, he'd get in his pickup truck and get you out of it, and take you out for a slice of pie afterwards. (To this day, he is the reason I never turn down the offer of pie.)

And of course, I did not think my grandfather would ever die, anymore than I believed Johnny Carson would really retire or that I wouldn't be coming home to the family farm on holiday weekends. But he did die -- not long, in fact, after everybody else's John Carson said goodbye to the public. I'd be the first to argue the dangers of clinging to the notion of an idealized past. But understand that I grew up believing we -- or at least the vast numbers of Americans -- all came from the same place. It was a world in which everybody read the paper in the morning and toiled the fields until sundown and watched Carson before bedtime -- because, let's face it, my parents weren't farmers, and I'm not one now -- even if it wasn't your reality, it was capital-R Reality. It was The Way It Was Done.

You know what? I've been wandering in the wilderness ever since, which is not to say I'm unhappy here. I just don't know where I am.

Last week one of the sugar plants that processed my grandfather's beets shut its doors. Several French Fry plants run by the company that for so many year bought his potatoes, too, have closed in the last year. And goddamn but it's hard to find a good slice of truck stop pie these days.

All of this is to say that Sunday I felt like I lost my grandfather all over again. I'm no closer to believing in a literal afterlife than I was 10 years ago -- in fact, I'm probably a great deal further.

But between you and me, I don't mind indulging a goofy, private vision of two John Carsons in heaven, getting robes and wings mixed up in some impossibly hokey old-school comedy routine -- and then wandering down to Denny's (because they have Denny's everywhere) for a slice of lemon pie. I don't mind that at all.

July 13, 2004 | index | February 7, 2005

In the mornings, I drive up to Uni and, if I haven't got anything urgent to do, I get a newspaper, some fags and a coffee and then sit around reading one, drinking one and smoking the other. This morning, this comfortable setup was disturbed by an article about Michael Howard's new direction for his Tory party in the run up to the general election.

To be honest, I find Michael Howard unsettling for so many reasons. There's the obvious point that he's a Tory. This is intensified by the fact that he's not just any Tory - he was actually part of Thatcher's cabinet. Then there's the less-serious point that he looks evil, and the, altogether more personal point, that he has my Dad's first name and my Mother's maiden name*. For some reason, this makes it feel like he's trying to invade my family. Actually, for very similar reasons, so does Howard Hughes, but he's less dangerous because he's dead. And he was insane. And he was kind-of cool. And rich (so he'd be perfectly welcome to join my family).

Anyway, now he's using the anti-immigration thingy again. Y'know - stop them bleedin' scroungers comin' in 'ere, stealin' our jobs and our wimin' etc. etc. etc.etc.. Which I find quite odd for a Jewish second-generation immigrant himself. Anyway, read the article at http://politics.guardian.co.uk/columnist/story/0,9321,1397903,00.html 'cos I want you to. It's clever and makes a bloody good point.


So there's been a big gap in time between my daylogs. This is for several reasons:

  1. I had a weblog, so I posted inanities on there
  2. I've had work to do
  3. I haven't really visited e2 for quite some time
  4. Nothing has happened to me

However, I have since decided to kill my weblog. I kept a backup on my own pc for reference but I find it's just a big wate of time. I end up spending so much time fiddling with css and stuff to get it all looking cool, but noone actually reads it. And the really stupid thing is: when someone does read it, it makes me feel unconfortable.

I have now, therefore, just a really simple moblog. I like having a moblog, cos I can just send piccies to it from my phone, but otherwise forget about it, and It's actually quite cool looking back through it. I'm not writing anything; just posting photos. Whenever I feel like writing something, I'll node it instead. If it doesn't fit anywhere else, I'll daylog it, but the point is: if it's not interesting, I won't daylog it, so I'll only write the good stuff**..... maybe.

Anyway. Life update. I'm now in my final year at University. I've also got a new job. I'm a casual sub-editor* for a local newspaper. My brother's Assistant Sports Editor there, and I turn up on a Saturday night to help with all the sport reports that come in sometime around 6.00-8.30 and need to be in the paper for the 9.30 deadline. The people there are interesting and cool and the job makes a change from things like writing Needleman Wunsch Algorithm implementations in perl.

By the way. I just want to agree with Myrkabah's post on the sniffley, sneezy bit. I'm currently sat in the linux workshop at Uni surrounded by tissues with nasty green lumpy stuff squidged into them. Poor me :-( Altogether now: Aaaaaaah.


* Oh God! Everyone can break into my bank accounts now... oh well.... help yourselves to my cancelled overdraft.
**This inane daylog post is, presumably, my last.

July 13, 2004 | index | February 7, 2005

THE SOCIETY OF THREE - A SKETCH

For a thing like a crypsid, thirteen years is longer than it seems. Thirteen years, thirteen winters of bitter cold, one famine, one fire and three floods. And five emperors - five Golden Dragons with crimson claws, absolute rulers corrupted absolutely, and each one lesser than the one before him, down to the newest and youngest and most terrible, he of the dreadful name and the cloth of red that no one else is allowed to wear. One hundred and eighteen days into his reign, seventy six new edicts have been issued, and twenty two of them carry penalties of death or worse, and human tongues whisper condemnations more forceful and more hushed by the day. But none of these laws mean anything to a crypsid.

Laws are for humans and other things close to human hearts. Laws are for pets, for houses, for townships. Calico is none of those things. She is not even part of the crypsid world. She lives in a society of three, an impenetrable trinity. Everyone and everything else is outside forever.

There is her, and Whisper, and Hush. There was one other before Hush came along, but Jezi was old and frail, and now he is dead. There were only two of them for a long time, Calico and Whisper slipping in and out of shadows in the Ruined Quarter, finding things that had been lost or abandoned (or left unguarded, which was much the same thing to them) and selling them for whatever they could get from Suriya, the only fence who would deal with their kind. It was a lonely time, harder than most, and not only for Calico and Whisper but for all of Shaltan, for it was a time of famine.

And one day Whisper found someone even more alone than them, a rat child living in a ruined house on crumbs and ferocity. And something passed between them, some moment of private understanding linking cat to rat forever.

And Calico came back to find what had happened to Whisper, and found him talking quietly to the little ratling.

Whisper looked up with pitiful expectation in his face, and said with whiskers trembling, “he’s got nowhere to go, Cali.”

And she saw immediately how it was between the two of them, and said only, “that little thing? He’ll slow us down. He’s not Jezi, you know.”

“I know he’s not Jezi, Cali. Don’t be stupid.”

He had never called her stupid before. No one had ever called her stupid before. People had called Whisper stupid, and worse, and she had made every one of them pay for insulting the cat who thought he was her brother. She looked at him, and considered, and said, “he’d better pull his own weight. I’m not slowing down for him, or making any allowances.”

And that was Hush. The name was Whisper’s idea, of course, a derivation of his own epithet. Calico knew that the ratling had another name, but he understood Whisper better than any outsider ever had, and he took the name with pride and love. And soon she found that her worries had been unfounded, for Hush was as quick as a candle flame and as quiet as a shadow, and he had a nose for valuable artifacts. He was a natural thief, and if he had known about the underground society they lived on the outskirts of, he would never have needed their help to survive. But he did need them for one thing - one rare treasure, lesser imitations of which were often traded as a commodity but were never worth half as much as the genuine article. He needed them for love.

Whisper’s love was as important to him as food and warmth. He had a need for it that only those who have been utterly unloved could understand. And Whisper gave it to him unconditionally, endlessly, and in every other manner perfectly, so he stayed with them even after he had made the contacts and learned the rendezvous points and the going rates for trinkets and luxuries.

And their trinity was complete once more, and no outsider could ever infiltrate it, nor did any want to.

Until Charcoal came.

The closest I ever got to having a porn star friend happened during my freshman year in engineering school at University of Miami. One of the women who did work study with me in the computer lab wound up in Playboy. "College Women, 1977" I think was the title of the article in which she was naked and posing in various positions of simulated ecstasy with a surf board.

She used a fake name for the article. In real life her name was Chris, or maybe Mary, but in naked titty life it was Starr. I learned that inventing smarmy fake names was the way those women negotiated the whole naked picture maze of -- "Is it really you?" looks when they were trying to buy cake mix and margarine at the grocery store.

They could always say, "People say I look like someone named Starr who posed for Playboy. Heh. Imagine that."

It turned out to be quite convenient to be photographed naked at University of Miami. The photographer had come to campus so there were no worries about missing a homework assignment or a quiz. In fact, lots of women had been photographed, but only Starr wound up in the November issue.

For one whole month she was the buzz of the campus. I remember Juan coming up to me one night we were covering the remote terminal room. He asked if I'd seen her photos, and I hadn't.

It was the first issue of Playboy I ever bought. To the horror of the clerk who took my money, I paged right to the "College Women, 1977" article at the cash register and there she was. It was the face and hair I remembered joking with during those long Friday night spells, when the upper classmen were at frat parties and we freshmen had to teach BASIC to the geeks and grad students who had nothing better to do than homework. I told the cashier, "I work with her," but she gave me one of those female smirks that assures you your genes have not been selected, and then moved on to the next customer.

There in front of me was the parts of her not usually seen in polite company, and I could see them at will. I walked back to my dorm oblivious of my surroundings, paging through Playboy like a skid-row bum on the prowl for another quart of Night Train.

I kept that issue of Playboy for several years. It was a treasured possession until during my senior year at Rutgers University I returned to my apartment one day to find one of my roomates had left my magazine wrinkled and distorted in the bathroom. It was goodbye forever to Starr or Mary or whatever her name was. That thing was over.

*

I was on the frontage road that goes around SJC heading to work in the morning. Yesterday, behind the runway blast deflector, next to the highway, driving after the rain, I noticed the the sun was rising in a brilliant smear.

In a sky like the ocean you could fall into if you lost yourself
And forgot to stay down.
Azure, I think, they say to be poetic. Ok. Prussian or cerulean or cobalt or Grover.
Cyan and they say you can see through to orange pink of the day before.
Spiderwebbed in bright white cirrus and 747 contrails.
Angel-winged in steam from the coffee truck vent
And the dots of breath of the airport mechanics remind me of sleigh-bound horses,
From the TV commercials that sell the Christmas they say I wanted to have.

This is the last dandelion standing. They've made wine of the rest.

Somewhere below all of this bacterial humanity,
Somewhere beyond linear equations and rigor,
Bills turned over to collection agencies
In a place I know from books and frostnip,

Live my friends on the ice,
As if it was a story I once heard.

I could say it was someone else. A man who never lived.
Double the dosage and he'll go away for good.

*

There are many ways to live your life. I've met people with no homes, who live day to day. Their mail goes to post office boxes. Their stuff is in storage in Phoenix and they were only there the one time.

I've met people who live on ships. Researching the ocean. And there are mothers and fathers of children who grow up disbelieving there's any world beyond the county line. People who climb tall mountains. Traverse continents for the hell of it, living in tents in grocery store parking lots and vast unplowed fields. Live in ski lodges, teaching city people how to snowplow. Scrape together every cent, every day.

And it doesn't matter for them, because it always works out. They're not afraid of anything unless it stops them from moving.

I've known people who worked hard and hated every minute of the daily grind. Broken hearts that gave out on crowded highways. People who loved every second of their careers and climbed the ladders until they were everyone's boss.

And it never works out for them unless they power through things. They're afraid of anything that might rock the foundation they worked so hard to build.

There are many ways to live your life.

You don't have to do this. You're not trapped.

You can live, if you want. Any way you want.

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