Sunday, December 30, 2007

Architectural wonders




Speaking of Seattle's meta- morphosis from the land of Salmon to the land of Software, not all has been ideal. The building boom has resulted in an amazing array of really ugly real estate. On the last day of my time in Seattle, Pez and I went to the sculpture park recently put in over the highway right between Seattle Center and the water. Overall, I thought most of the pieces were so-so, with some interesting ones set at intervals in the muck. What was most disappointing, though, were the buildings that ruin the background of just about any picture one can take of the art. The building boom Seattle has been undergong has resulted in an extremely wide variety of spectacularly ugly buildings. Considering that the Pacific Northwest is often cold and cloudy, why build a chaotic pile of bleak grey buildings? Architects don’t seem to understand the bit about buildings being part of their surroundings. They also don’t seem to understand that even if you do use color, it doesn’t mean anything if you buy regular aluminum window frames. That seems to turn the building’s statement into “hey, look at this large collection of crap white storm windows I’ve affixed to this building.” At 750K-$1M a condo, I sure as hell wouldn’t want to live in an ugly building. Those that actually do have charm or history are in danger of being torn down like nothing since the late 60s through the seventies. The Moore Hotel where I used to work will soon be surrounded by 20-30 story buildings, robbing it of its water view. A couple of rooms still have a view of the Space Needle, but the rest will have only a view of crap such as the complex pictured above.
I've finally recovered from jet lag, so perhaps I'll be able to be a bit more up-to-date on this blog thingy.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Seattle

What a trip. I'm still recovering from the lag and the red-eye, which was packed to the gills. My connecting flight back went seamlessly this time. It was a rather unplanned trip regarding itinerary, but much happened, it being the holidays and all. I met up with my aunt and her family (Rho & Co.) three times over the course of the week, which was fantastic. I had a lovely dinner my first full day in Washington, then got to go with them to the Seattle Ballet's Nutcracker, and finally got to come to their Christmas Dinner, which was nothing short of wonderful--lambchops, fantastic Cabernet, and salmon with capers. I'm still way way lagged, so I'll throw pix on in lieu of scintillating prose...

Friday, December 21, 2007

Seat Placement and Precipitation Part 2: Stances (Wide and Other)




After my first flight, I get stalled in Minneapolis, as of course the connecting flight has been delayed. Once I got the news, I roamed around the terminal to find that Fox News has a freakin’ store here. They had nice postcards, but I’m not going to buy postcards at a Fox News venue. But then, perhaps I should have, as the extra revenue might work towards making it possible for actual researchers to find facts on which to base their claims. Significantly, the store was within 100 feet or so of the restroom made world famous by that Idaho senator, Mr. Tappy McWidestance (I wish I could claim credit for the nickname, but other bloggers have used it before me). While looking at the wares (in the Fox News store, not the restroom), I found that the illustrious Glenn Beck has a book out. this surprised me, as Mr. Beck has been a standout in exulting in his own stupidity on almost every subject and acting snidely toward intellectuality, sounding all the while like a third grader. It was on the same table as Keith Olbermann’s new book. Over the course of the past 5 years or so I’ve noticed that those who most vocally identify themselves with the Neo-Conservative faction have particular disdain for literateness. Purdue, for some reason, has a more conservative newspaper, the Purdue Review, filled with enough Fox News/DickCheney/O’Reilly parroting to satisfy those who have a hatred of all things liberal, and filled otherwise with enough grammatical hilarity, misspellings, and misinformation (most of you may be unaware that AnnaNicole Smith died of pneumonia this year) to keep actually-intelligent folks howling in their grad offices. Their arguments are frothy, with holes you could drive a Hummer through. I looked at Beck’s book and wondered if he actually wrote it. The cover seemed to credit him as the writer. How much, I thought, does it cost to buy off ghost-writers? Surely if there were other people involved, the book would haveto acknowledge it. What furthered my suspicion was the title page. Sure enough, Beck is shown there to be a co-editor, and the book is written by at least three other people (the publishing info inside the title page even went so far as to put “et. al.” after the other authors). I looked then at Olbermann’s book. Olbermann’s book was written by…Olbermann. Perhaps having the brains to write his own book is considered by Beck to be too snobbish and elitist. After all, the Liberals think themselves better than even the most compassionate of conservatives. Ann Coulter (whose books were noticeably absent even in the Fox News store) may actually write her own books, but her argument gets subsumed by her stupidly inflammatory language. But that is another discussion for another day.

I arrived at Seattle over three hours late, the bus was packed in ways only those who have been in the Moscow or Tokyo subways during rush hour can imagine. It is dark and raining heavily. Pez's directions were quite helpful and soon I was in a seat at the Jolly Roger with a much-appreciated beer. Much appreciated.

Seat Placement and Precipitation


Ok, honestly, traveling by air has gotten to be such a demeaning hassle that I don’t really see why on earth people bother with it. I’m informed that I can’t get through security with a freshly-bought soda still sealed and bought from the machine next to the freakin security line—the limit is 3 ounces. No prob—I’ve got plenty of time before my plane boards, so I go out of the line and drink my soda at a leisurely pace. Once the level of the soda is down to the top of the nubbles at the bottom of the bottle, I show back up at security. It’s a new person. “You can’t bring that through here,” he says. “It’s less than three ounces,” I say. “It don’t matter. It has to be either empty or you throw it away.” Three ounces is different from empty. I bolt the rest of the damned soda and keep the bottle, as one needs to have a bottle when traveling. One just does.

Further along security, I take off my coat, yank out my laptop, put it in a bin, and lug my carry-on onto the stainless-steel table as the people in front of me take off their shoes. I don’t want to take off my shoes. I look at the matted and discolored carpet under the man’s socks. I look around for signage. Evidently, we’re no longer in the “removing shoes is optional” age that we were in the last time I boarded a plane. I take off my shoes, jam them in with my coat. I am directed to the puffer machine. I place my feet on the yellow footprints that no doubt harbor untold varieties of pedal fungus as the authoritative female prerecorded voice directs me to stay put. The jets blow harder than I’d thought, directly and painfully into my ear. The little TV screen’s blue and yellow grapefruit sections rotate, indicating I should continue staying put. The machine decides that bed lint is not a danger and I am allowed through the turnstile. By the time I get back to the conveyor, someone is already calling out for the owner of my bag. I raise my hand. “This needs to get looked at,” she states curtly. Fine. I put on my shoes and wait. And wait. The bag sits there. Another man’s bag gets called out. He’s a highly-strung Corporate type with his four-year-old. “Ridiculous,” he mutters. He fiddles obsessively with his limited-edition Blackberry. Neither bag is even being looked at. Mr. Corporate begins hassling the TSA folks that his bag needs to get looked at now. The TSA mention that someone’s bag is in front of him—namely my bag. “Ridiculous,” he says again, “I’ve been waiting here.” “So have I,” I say. Several minutes further, during which I let Mr. Corporate work himself into as big a lather as he wants (he has things to do), I finally am called over to explain my carryon. Mr. TSA opens up my bag and pulls out my toothpaste. “This is too big. Too much toothpaste.” He continues in a tone that makes it evident he thinks me a dumbshit, “You need to le me know what you want to do. You can either leave security checkpoint and go back to the desk to check your toothpaste and then come back through security, or you can throw it away.” Check my toothpaste. How moronic. Practically a new tube. “You can have the toothpaste,” I say, with an interior flaring up of anger in my skull that, were it a superpower, would have left him a steaming prune underneath his epauletted shirt. At least, now that I’m finally through security, I’ve found a seat next to an outlet so that I might be able to type on their nickel. When I was a kid, air travel still seemed to have some bit of style about it. It’s amazing how things have changed since. No dignity, no privacy, no respect. And no free peanuts.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Pointless Effort No. 54

Woke up and worked on the Great Office/Bedroom Swap of 2007--moving about 600 books; dismantling, transporting, and reassembling the desk; running cable and speaker wire through the basement/ductwork/crawlspace, and reconfiguration of the sound system. All to move the office, though I won't be able to spend much time actually working in it until May.

Once the computer started working again--after several more trips to the basement to twiddle with wires--I found more pix on the Indiana Historical Society website, such as the various buildings that didn't make it past that wrecker-happy year of 1974.

Earliest to go was the Claypool, which was the closest thing Indy had to a large-scale European-styled hotel. It's the place all dignitaries stayed.


The larger suites were pretty large.

I managed to find the key for room 746 at an antique store.




Right next door was the Indiana Theater. It had fallen into disrepair in the years after the demise of the Claypool, but City planners rescued it...sort of. In naming the Indiana the venue for the Indiana Repertory Theater, they moved in with grand plans to renovate. To make a more intimate theater experience, the theater was divided--a floor two-thirds of the way above the main floor, with floor level right around where the top of the curtain is in the photograph. Of the auditorium pictured here, nothing remains but the nonsensical elaborate plaster moldings of the proscenium as backdrop for the stage of the smaller auditorium. In the larger theater, all is black wallboard and orange-and-brown carpet.
The only 20s movie palace in Indy to survive in close to its original state is the Circle Theater, though Indiana Power and Light almost succeeded in getting the real estate to expand their ugly concrete headquarters.

I had a point in typing this when I started it, but hell if I can remember it now. I'm off to take a hot bath in hopes I'll not be so sore in the morning I can't get out of bed.

Friday, December 14, 2007

What isn't any longer



Perhaps it's because of spending my formative years in a house in which well over five people likely died over the past 140 years. Perhaps it's because of growing up on some strange cusp--oldest of the new generation and seen in some ways as the youngest of the older generation; living in a way that was well-removed from the current scene, brought up with the value that looking backward is as valuable (if not more valuable) than looking forward--but I've been fascinated with things that were once but aren't any longer. I'd mentioned a project involving a current city that, in the era I'm writing in, no longer exists. I've found some interesting things, including my old apartment building, seen here in 1929, three years after its construction, back when Meridian south of 38th street was an avenue of luxury homes. The Admiral was quite an address then--a two-story lobby with hand-painted wallpaper intended to make it seem that one had entered a lush forest (which I had a chance to see when the owners updated), a brass elevator with self-closing scissor-grate gate, and parquet oak floors in every apartment. The suites still have separate entrances intended for servants. My old apartment is visible to the immediate right of the main entrance; the hindmost apartment on the second floor. At the time this photo was taken, it was occupied by a Mr. Whipple, who happened to be a big exec with what ended up as Delco, the big car-parts conglomerate. Why he had this apartment rented (for well over a decade--I've checked the city directories of the time) when he had a rather comfortable house (and a wife, etc.) is anyone's guess. I'm sure it was all aboveboard...
I've found other interesting things too--including the little known fact that Broad Ripple park had, for quite some time, the world's largest swimming pool. The amusement park there attracted people from all around this part of the country. Combined with the also-defunct Riverside Amusement park, Indianapolis had two of the premier amusement parks in the region.
There's also the sad fact that much of the decline of downtown had to do with racism. Once black people were allowed to rent rooms at the various addresses in the formerly-fashionable near-northside, all the rich white folks fled northward. To an extent, this momentum continues, with the richest of the Indianapolis area residing now in Carmel, Geist, and Fishers. The wholesale "slum eradication" movements occurred as early as the late '40s, culminating with the radical demolition of most of downtown's landmark buildings between 1970-1974. 1976 brought the Interstate system and the leveling of thousands of properties for the overpass. Before the Crash in 1929, Indianapolis rivaled Detroit for Auto factories and--before Prohibition--rivaled Milwaukee for breweries. I've lucked out so far and found photos of addresses that lost out to the highway. There may be a book in this after all...

You want snow? >WHAP!< Here's yer snow.



Well, the stage is set for the first humongo-snow of the season, and--what bliss--I don't have to worry about doing anything other than reading /writing /dusting /Interweb-surfing in the comfort of my own home. If I find that I need groceries, I'm sure I can stomp through the piling precipitation for the entire block between me and Kroger. We are expecting anything from 6-12 inches here in Indy. To keep myself occcupied when reading tires, when writing isn't happening, and when eyestrain makes the screen hard to focus on, I've decided to swap the back bedroom with the front office, which raises enough logistical issues to match the "chickens and foxes in a single boat trying to cross the river" logic problem we likely all had to work through in Algebra/Math class in high school. It appears my house is currently arranged for maximum book/art/furniture storage. Any other possible arrangement involves sacrificing bookcase/dresser/artwork space. This is a problem, as I've got easily 250 books more than last time I arranged the furniture. I'm afraid it's gonna be time for a cull sometime soon. [Heh--bet none of those I know would have expected me to think of something like that.]
This has indeed been the season for surprises.... Earlier this week, Pez called and offered, as a Christmas gift, to fly me to Seattle for the Holidays, which is quite something, as I've not done much traveling save that between Indy and Purdue for the past 18 months. Thanks, Pez! For some reason, this winter break is shorter and far busier, so I'll likely be working on finalizing my syllabus/scanning necessary poetry for readings/revising/composing/etc while I'm in the Land of the Tall Latte.
In addition to that, my good friend Tina called me out of the blue to offer to take me to the Indy Zoo for their Holiday shindig. Considering that every moment with Tina is an experience, I jumped at the chance. The wind was up, the lights were on, and the animals were more active than I'd ever seen them. Word to the wise--go to the zoo on crappy days. The animals don't care that it's cloudy and like it when there are fewer people around. The seals were happy and vociferous, the walruses were amorous (ahem), and the dolphins wheeled through their routine though it was well after dark. While we waited for the show to start in the dolphin arena--well above the splash zone of course--Tina and I spent our time speaking scandalously and snapping pix. I'd decided a while ago that I wasn't going to trim my hair until my second year was over. I started off looking kinda Hemingway. Considering the grey, I thought I'd end up kinda Whitman by May, but it seems I'm veering off toward looking like Berryman instead, which isn't quite what I'd been hoping for. At any rate, Tina manages to have sharper cheekbones than I do in this shot.

By the way, going back to the oncoming storm, Kroger's latest sale works perfectly...nothing like stocking up on Pizza-flavor Pringles, frozen pre-cooked shrimp, and Chardonnay for those times when you're snowed in. Sheesh.

Monday, December 10, 2007

New Regimen--Day 1...

After yesterday's snit, we have a new day. Here's the results...
2.5 hours reading.
.25 hours writing
.25 hours doing household tasks


Record for RD1 (regimen day 1) not terribly good, Am hoping for 100% compliance for day 2...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

So much for a Lift...

The cloudy weather is taking over.

Just saw this and yeah yeah, considering that it's the holiday season and all, I know this is for the wrong holiday, but it's rather interesting and disturbing all at the same time.



Best viewed full-screen...

Today was the grand opening of the Central Library here in Indy, so, after sleeping far too long, then putzing about on YouTube for far too long, and then reading some Dorothy Richardson (which is what I should've been doing all along), I get in the car and check it all out. Millions and millions over budget and months behind schedule, it's still not quite done, but it's open.
Ever since the thing was only a plastic and cardboard model in the lobby, I wasn't terribly impressed. The model showed a building that was curved and all glass, looking quite a bit like an enormous IMAX Drive-In theater screen or a gigantic billboard, blocking the view of the skyline from the 8-story apartment building that shares the block, as well as other buildings in the area. Now that it's essentially finished, it looks all right, but it still makes a better door than a window, in spite of all the glass. It'll grow on me, I'm sure.


For all the views it has compromised, it has some great panoramic views of the city, which certainly will afford better photographs in less Seattle-like weather.
They were kind enough to consolidate all of the things I would go to the library for onto one floor in the new section (Recordings, Orchestral/Instrumental scores, Poetry and Lit Crit) and all of the general novels into the East big oak-paneled reading room of the old section. In the last ten minutes the place was open, I stumbled upon a five-foot by six-foot city planning map of Indianapolis, showing all of the lots that were slated for demolition back in 1976 for construction of the highway. I've been searching for such a map for the past five or so years, back when I got that idea for a novel where all of the characters had jobs that no longer exist, in buildings that no longer exist, and after clocking out went to homes on streets that no longer exist. As with Andrei Biely's Petersburg, the city itself would be a character, in a way; a city that no longer exists.

Though the library certainly was done with a large (and evidently an impressively expandable) budget, it was certainly odd to see these on the walls--they look exactly like the clocks that were on the walls in the ugly 1970s-era addition to the library that was also torn down. This one is new, but it makes one wonder if this style was selected to match the old ones, salvaged for re-use on the other floors?

Back to reading. I'm starting a new regimen tomorrow. I'd been searching for a Chinese buffet that would turn me off of Chinese buffets for a while, and it appears I found one. Good. No more Chinese buffet food for me. Starting tomorrow I'm eating sensibly, spending a minimum two hours reading and two hours writing. Active avoidance of all things Britney. A brisk walk around the neighborhood in the afternoon. Household chores only every other day and only after all the other above stuff is done. This Shall Be.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

It's the End of the Semester. It's Cold...

...and the sun hasn't shone much lately. What we all need is a lift. Found this on the Interweb this evening. This game show beats Plinko all to hell... The second team appears to have a bit more difficulty.



I'd certainly watch this over some stupid Immunity idol search.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Dreams before Writing


In the dream I started off working in a student union on my portfolio for Mary's poetics class. I had my blue binder and sheets of paper in various colors. Things got a bit muddled after that, like the dream was trying to figure out what it wanted to do, with unrelated things vying for attention, somewhat like having the radio on while driving in the country at the periphery of any station's reception, and bits of all sorts of music compete badly to rasp through the speaker wire. People next to me talking about car grilles. I'm walking, balance-beam-like, on the top of curbs and edgers outside the student union of the in-city campus that wasn't any campus I knew. It was cloudy and sleeting. A dead vacant lot near a strip mall, seen in weak midwinter evening sunlight.
Then, suddenly we are at a private personal party at conductor Raymond Leppard's house. His family is there and I am snacking on finger food from little trays set out on the coffee table. It is late morning, judging by the quality of the sunlight, so the party must've been some sort of informal brunch. I comment on the music coming out of the speakers and walk over to check it out. It appears to be on the last track (number 4) of a CD by Bolcom. I've not heard a note by Bolcomb, (his name appeared on the CDs with an extra ending B), and this music sounded rather proclamatory, with much brass, and angular in a way I didn't immediately understand. Leppard was trying to get things done in a corner of the big living room, where he had his office. The song ended, and I took the liberty to put another Bolcom CD in the player. I meant to ask Leppard questions--many came to mind--what does he think of Bolcom? It's possible that he knows him personally. How much time does Leppard spend writing, spend rehearsing, spend listening to music? He certainly appears focused, and I am hesitant to disturb him, even under these rather easygoing circumstances.

I am distracted by the sound of a movie that Leppard's older grandkids have turned to, starring Julia Roberts, who, over the course of the movie, has been betrayed by all of her friends and by focusing only on that betrayal, has made herself in later life--she's in her early seventies in the final scene--successful, beautiful with surgery, and in a white wedding dress surrounded by well-wishers in the center of a cavernous hunting lodge, where a reception is taking place. As the Bolcom swells on the stereo, overpowering the movie's soundtrack, the camera pulls back in to its location on some balcony overlooking the scene, panning up, following the central chandelier, composed of four beams of wood, stacked crosswise, suspended by a heavy chain. The chandelier is being hoisted up to the top of this huge room, the chain bumping over the topmost beam of the place, the heavy wood frame of the chandelier comes into contact with the beam, tilts slightly, and then the unseen hand lets go. The music swells, the chandelier plummets out of frame, the black iron chain leaping over the beam. The credits fade in and out over the empty view of the upper levels of this lodge--cross-supports, aging wood, railings.

People are outside playing croquet, in spite of the lawn being covered with frost. Several of us pile in a late 40s-early 50s Ford. It's been a nice visit. Leppard is still working busily away at his computer.
The car is the dark green of a billiard ball on the outside and that peculiarly 1950s shade of pistachio on the inside. The springy seats are enormous, expansive, proportioned as if I were rememmbering a childhood car ride, only I can see out the windows. We are taking a different route back home, a road that might lead up to the familiar highway later on. The driver (is it Erik? Is it Eric? Is it someone else?) asks if there's a road atlas in the car. Some of the other passengers start looking. I think I remember seeing we are on highway 72, wherever that is.

I know to be a good post, this needs some sort of rumination, of reflection on what it could mean. This is something I might do if it weren't for 20 student papers, inputting final grades, two revision portfolios, and keeping up with my reading schedule. Perhaps you could ruminate for me.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

YouTube's Tubes

Ok, people, seriously. This YouTube thing has gots ta stop. I'm sure I would be amazingly, blindingly productive if it weren't for the fact that YouTube has taked up all of my mental energy. They've got everything on that thing. Care for a techno song based on clueless politicos? Check:



A video entirely composed of Wonder Woman spinning? Check:



For real acting ability and sets stolen from The Price is Right's Halloween Special circa 1976, we have Electra Woman and Dyna Girl, which I barely remember watching on TV as a kid. Villains modeled after Sunset Boulevard that are out to steal the Golden Spider of Baklava? Check:


I'm sure I'd have a book by now if it weren't for this infernal invention.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Work Harder, Harder, or, The End is Nigh


I've assumed that 38 is too early for a mid-life crisis, but in thinking about it, That's just about mid life after all. For the past couple of years, the main dreams I remember have all been of warning. Or of limited resources. These were most insistent before I quit my job at the office; perhaps my psyche's way of saying that working for retirement isn't really any sort of life at all. By the time my next door neighbor died unexpectedly of blood clots at 31 at the height of a tornadic storm that hit downtown Indy, I finally got the message and had made decisive moves to get the hell out and get on with life. We only have a limited time in order to produce. The clock is ticking and there's much work to do.

Quitting Corporate Hell hasn't stopped these dreams entirely, and, based on my grad-office-mates' conversations, I'm not the only one with these worries and insistent omens. The dreams are different now for me after quitting, but cover similar thematic territory, only without as much urgency--the dream in yesterday's post, for example, or the dream of last night, where I duck into a hospital in order to hit the restroom and find myself in a room that adjoins a bunch of birthing rooms. The toilet is right out in full view, so I look at it, then around, then back at the toilet, and then a troupe of people bust in with a wheeled bed from one of the adjoining rooms. A woman's given birth, but there's been a bad tear and she's bleeding badly. A doctor is trying to cinch the tear, stop the bleeding. A tube is attached to a large squarish bag, filling with blood. To keep her alive, the blood in the bag is being somehow pumped back into her. The bag is the size of a piece of luggage and is almost full, wobbles like a jello-mold. This woman is in trouble. The direness of the situation means that no one has even taken notice of me. I look at the woman's face--it is still ruddy, but it may be due to freckles, as she has reddish hair, or due to blood on her face, but the bag shows she has little blood left. The doctors confer as they work.

I wake to another alarm I'd forgotten to shut off, the phrase "This isn't going to be easy" in my ears.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Things be dead here, folks.


The cold weather has killed pretty much everything. All, save the mouse which crapped all over my dish towels last weekend. I'd thought it had left, as no foodstuffs were mangled, no other issues noted, until I woke up in the wee hours to distinct rustlings. Next to the bed. I turn on the bedside lamp to find it was in one of the glue traps I set in the early Fall when spiders have a tendency to come indoors. After last year's little encounter, I thought I might prepare a bit more for their arrival. I hadn't noticed that the things also can be set for mice. 3am, and I have a completely gummed-up mouse, hanging half out of the trap, trying to drag itself and its new attachment along the floor. The worst part of it was its screams as I reached for it, picked it up, dispatched it. Glue traps. Good for bugs, gruesome for vertebrates. Sleep was pretty much shot at that point.

After driving home from Thanksgiving at the Farm, went to bed and in tryptophan-induced coma, dreamt that I was on an outer-space expedition. I am hovering, lunar-lander-style, over a pockmarked surface, perhaps the moon, perhaps Mars, perhaps something else, but I lower myself to float horizontally right over the surface. Below me, less than six feet, is a pool of water; actual liquid water, set like an irregular rectangle of deep blue glass in the ash grey of the surface. "Water! I've found water!" I say into my headset. This is a big deal. But as I say this, I realize how far I am from home, how far I've got to go yet after this great discovery, and how the cold is coming through the pressure suit.

The alarm clock on my cell phone goes off at this point. I stumble to the kitchen to kill the alarm. It won't turn off. Perhaps this is a peculiarity for all RAZR phones, or mine alone, but if the alarm clock goes off and the display is showing that I've either missed a call and/or have a recent voicemail, there is no way to shut off the alarm. I futzed with the damned thing at 6:30 this morning for well over 10 minutes, trying to get the phone to shut up. [If others know how to get around this very irritating characteristic of RAZR phones, please let me know.] Due to the length of time I had to spend cussing at my phone, this was just about as disturbing a wake-up as the doomed mouse at bedside the night before.

In between episodes of grading term paper drafts, I walked to the grocery store, during which time I've noticed that Central Indiana is now in the Ugly phase of Autumn, with no leaves, no green at all, little daylight, and incessantly overcast skies. It's time for a week of snow and then on to Spring. Shall we have a vote?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Aging and Rock Demographics


Due to a bewildering number of things to do, combined with a collective Dark Night of the Soul shared by almost all of us in Grad Office 210 that lasted a week, I'd completely forgotten that I'd spoken to my friend Tina about going to a gathering at the Murat in downtown Indy. At the time I'd originally spoken to her I didn't hear her properly and thought that it had something to do with the Colts. Hmm, a concert for the Colts. Inconcisely, I'm very much not at all even slightly connected to football, but I thought, hey, free tickets, it'll be good for people watching, expanding horizons, writing material, a gin and tonic, and so forth.
But by the time I'd finished my class yesterday, piled all of my crap in the back of the car, and hightailed it home, any memory of my conversation with Tina had completely evaporated. I Lugged my box of books, papers, notebooks, CD-Rs, dumped the mess on the sofa and did what I now often do after getting home on an early Friday afternoon--I went directly to bed. Sure, I go there with the excuse that I'll stay warm under the covers and read until the house heats up, but I know that I'll be out like a light within ten minutes. After a dream in which I was at the Symphony with my Aunt Paula, I hear my phone. Tina. Wanting to know about the concert.
"The Colts? Really? A concert for them?" I was inclined not to go. After various repronunciations at varying volume, I finally was able to understand that they were free tickets for The Cult, whom many of my older readers might remember as an 80s rock group. Tina had five free tickets, her husband couldn't go. I squinted at the clock and determined that I could get to Tina's house and then downtown in time to find a decent spot. I told Tina I'd be over after a quick clean-up.
The poor Cult folks--as soon as I got in to the Egyptian Room with Tina and company, I was failry certain that this would be a bust of a concert. At the same time the "Kids Bop" even t was being held in the Main Hall--pre-teens could be heard screaming to imitation Britney. Tickets hadn't sold well so the promoters, looking at the general age group of folks who listened to The Cult, comped a bunch of tickets to banks, downtown office buildings, and my former employer, the Big Mutual Fund Company, which is how Tina got ours. The room looked like a slightly goth-tinged Annuities Convention. The whole event was officially titled The Jaegermeister Music Tour--five bands culminating with The Cult. The Jaeger bus, bright orange, was parked outside. The busty Jaeger girls were there, smiling in carefully-prepared poses, took orders and pulled back their shoulders for pictures. Jaeger ads were projected onto the ceiling--the buck with the radiant cross between its antlers twitched to different spots on the ceiling at timed intervals.
I wasn't really in the mood for a rock concert. Evidently, neither were the 50-somethings that were there. The opening bands exhorted the attendees (I won't call it a crowd) to buy independent, to support new bands, and to "ditch all this Corporate bullshit that's killed music." I blinked. Looked up. The Jaeger logo spun slowly--a deer in a dryer. "Coors Light" sailed slowly over the ceiling tiles.
The sedentarily-boozing Managerial faction at the tables weren't impressed. "Fuck you." Their jowls quivered. Most sat in accustomed Barcalounger poses. I ordered a drink. Sipped the Jaeger. It tasted like Vicks Formula 44D. I decided to have it changed to a Jaeger Bomb, which added Red Bull. I sipped. The addition magically transformed the flavor to that of Robitussin.
The Cult came on. One of Tina's kids was face-forward on the table, sleeping in spite of the volume. The lead singer, after three songs, mentioned Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. "Fuck you" said the Barcaloungers. "You do read books, don't you?" said the lead singer. Contempt from the Barcaloungers, who went to get more crap domestic beer. After a few more songs, the lead singer spits. "Kids Bop is next door, people." "Fuck you" said the Barcaloungers. The Jaeger gorls were gone. The tenders broke down the bar, shut off the Jaeger machines. Carts of the awful stuff went by. From my vantage point, I could count no fewer than four Barcaloungers, heads thrown back, mouths open, sleeping. It was less a rock concert than a lounge in a retirement village, shortly after dinnertime.
"Good night, right-wing Christian fuckers," said the singer. Which missed the point, I think.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

waaaay too much to do...


I've not posted much recently, and am not sure when that trend will end, as this weekend is a bit out of control---book reviews, record reviews, term papers to grade, revisions to make, and new stuff to produce, not to mention all those other more mundane things I've been putting off that need to be attended to, such as bills and groceries and laundry and such. I'd had an idea for a thought-provoking post based on something Robert Hass said in an interview, but that thought went away. I hope to regain it at some point but it's not likely to be this weekend.
As a diversion, I went to the Indianapolis Library book sale at ten this morning, after not having been there for several years. The same people run it, the same hoards with their bags, stale tobacco-and-cat smell comb the shelves. I found a volume of Yevtushenko--whose poetry was used by Shostakovich for his 13th symphony--and though he's supposedly an egotistical ass in person, picked it up, along with Oppen's collected poems and another anthology of English Renaissance poetry. CD's were going for 50 cents, but with my main focus on classical stuff that wasn't scratched all to hell, ended up with not particularly much--Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night some Continental Renaissance music for two violas, and a collection of stuff by Taverner. Oh, and Erasure's latest album, which has cover art that it so glittery it makes Barbie's dream album art look like the Stone Temple Pilots. I mean, it's like My Pretty Pony had an acid trip with the Care Bears in Neverland. I remember them from that year before I started at Purdue in Lafayette. They're still going strong, but they should fire their graphic design team.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Brushes with Greatness



Well, here's the gang, there with JCO in the lobby of Loeb, after her grueling book-signing stint. I I thought it a nice touch that we were arranged with the most brightly-colored folks on the outside, with the rest of us somberly-clad writers in the middle. It was not only an aesthetic choice, but perhaps one for public safety. Putting Brian and Tess side by side might have caused the paneling behind us to burst into flame. I was among those who was keeping the line in order. I had my own pad of bright orange Post-its, on which I was writing the name of the person JCO ws to dedicate the book to. Shortly after doing this, word came down the line that there were too many people and that she would only be signing her name. No dedications. Ok. She reads a poem shaped like a kite and now she won't personalize books. I still dutifully place an orange Post-it on the title page, so as to make it easy for JCO to sign the proper page. Here she is with local politician Sheila Klinker. She looks thrilled to be wielding a pen.

The party afterwards was quite nice--Deb and I arrived just in time to say hello to the guest of honor. By the time I put down my bookbag and took off my jacket, we turned around just in time to day goodbye to the guest of honor. Which of course left more onion tarts and cold boiled shrimpies for us poor grad students. And the champers was delightful.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Can I Help You?


The pad switch embedded in the asphalt isn't working. The switch that makes a beep and activates the connection between the microphone in the lit sign and the headset of the woman inside has ceased working correctly. It believes a car is on it when there isn't one. In my walking to the grocery store, the woman's voice could be heard, offering assistance. But there isn't anyone wanting her assistance, as there isn't any car, though the switch insistently tells her this. Inside the grocery store, many people are standing in line. Some are holding bags. Some are carrying babies or pushing carts filled with things. They polish the oil off the displays of their cellphones. It looks as if they are waiting to board a plane, or a bus. They hold their identification ready. Credit cards. Newspaper clippings. The scanners call out their single short note to each other, bat it back and forth under the mercury vapor lights. Someone's plastic pumpkin won't scan. She holds it over the smudged square of glass with both hands, swaying it diligently. A movement filled with uncertainty, ceremony. The scanner will not respond, will not call out to the other scanners that a connection was made, that the pumpkin should be placed on the metal table that knows how much the item weighs before she sets it down. A series of people come, touch the screen with one finger, carry the pumpkin away. I pick up my own items, the weight of which the metal table has successfully predicted. Crossing the dark parking lot, there are people pumping gasoline into their cars. There are patches of oil. Flattened cans. Can I help you? Can I help you? The drive-through sign softly illuminates the empty area of asphalt under which the faulty switch is buried. The woman inside asks again: Can I help you? Makes another offer. Her intonation growing more urgent, more as one would ask it after rushing to someone found lying down on the ground in an unusual spot, like a street, or a sidewalk. She asks again as I climb the steps to my front door. No cars in the lot; the sign shining softly.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

SCORE!

I'm being told it's an illness. I'm being told I should make it stop. That something shoudl be done. But what am I to do when the Humanities library holds its annual book sale, with all hardcovers for $2? What am I to do? Going there to find what there is on offer is a mandatory thing. Unfortunately, all the big area book dealers were also there, well ahead of us poor students, being absolute pigs about it, sweeping stuff off the tables and hoarding them in boxes they stacked in the corners. Aggressively snatching books right in front of you, pushing and hassling--it was like the Cabbage Patch Doll Riots of '82. In spite of all, though, I managed to come out with some great stuff: The hardcover U. of California edition of Charles Olson's poems, four volumes of the Gerhart Hauptmann set I've been looking for over the past 10 years, a lovely edition of one of Haydn's operas in full score, and a good deal of poetry. Pretty soon, I'll have two residences completely full of books, which will put me in a bad way once my MFA time comes to an end...

Joyce Carol Oates, to me, was far less enjoyable at her reading than she was at the more informal Q & A. Her entire reading consisted of reading two poems (one of which was shaped like a kite for godsakes) and a short story. Unfortunately, she felt the need to tell us what the poems were about for approximately 10 minutes before reading each 45-seconds-to-read poem. 119 books published and she decides she's gonna read a poem shaped like a kite. She was quite generous with her answers during the Q & A, which was quite nice. With so many books out, it is unsurprising to hear from her that her "writer self" is introspective, isolative, compulsive and obsessive, but there were times I certainly doubted her sincerity, especially when she mentioned that she writes "very slowly." 119 books out, three of which were put out this year? I don't believe she's a slow writer for a second. More on some of the deeper issues on what she said (along with pictures of me with Greatness) in future posts...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Joyce Carol Oates Day

This evening, I get to sip champagne with Joyce Carol Oates, by which time I will have spent so much time in her company that we'll likely be singing Carpenters tunes at the piano once the salmon canapes have been served. At 4, we MFA folks will have the wonderful honor of chatting with her in person, then I'll be one of the ushers/book table attendees, where she will be signing books before and after the reading. I'll be right there as the waves of adulation crash over the folding table stacked high with the fruit of her endeavors. The checks roll in, which I collect, and I sit there close to the center of the vortex of all that positive energy. Well, as positive as a vortex based on books filled with domestic violence and coercion can be.

I was trying to figure out who she reminds me of, and that person is Shelley Duvall. As in, of The Shining Shelley Duvall. More later. Pix at eleven.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Get Happy--Gouda, Emmenthaler, or Gov't Surplus?


In true manic fashion, I don't type any blog posts for over a week, and then in two days post three. I'm not aiming for consistency folks. Neither qualitative or quantitative. I should sensibly go for both, but I've got Virginia Woolf to read, ya know. I'm finding that one tends to be most profound when one least aims for profundity. Not that those that don't aim for profundity end up being profound.

While spending an exceedingly enjoyable evening with Holly (found I needed a nap to work my way up to it, being the rapidly foxing flyleaf that I am), she called my attention to a few things on YouTube I hadn't seen before, so in closing I bring you three performances of the famed MGM musical tune made a household name by Judy Garland before she curled her toe over the sharp edge of fame, then by Rufus Wainwright, who managed to not embarrass himself by replicating Judy's playlist for her famous Carnegie Hall concert (the recorded evidence being released sometime this month, evidently). I find it interesting that in the current day and age that the only things that really ends up making this a drag performance are the heels and hose--the lipstick dispatched by Robert Smith of the Cure, and the earrings dispatched by just about every heavy metal group since 1985--oh, and by the way, as Holly has mentioned, the Rufus is lip-synched because the dancers are actually his band. Finally, to keep things serious, I include a replay of the immortal Peggy Guy, whose performance ends up being curtailed somewhat due to secretly forseen circumstances.

Dentrifice and the Knight of the Red Crosse


Dream: of being at the dentist, having just rolled out of bed with morning zaggly-mouth. As I am exchanging pleasantries with the hygienist, I duck into the next room and find a gumball machine, into which I insert a dime, twist the ratchet. Another is beside it, one filled with those strange-tasting "hot-dog" gumballs I remember in the Nebraska Hinky Dinky as a kid. My slight regret that I didn't opt for those--they were mintier and would have done the job better. The gumballs rattle down into the hopper. I lift the flap, pop several gumballs in my mouth and chew, hoping to clear my breath a bit before I have to sit down in the chair. I turn to acknowledge what the hygenist is saying. Behind me, the gumballs continue to fall into the chute--I am a winner evidently and the gumballs currency in some feeble slot machine. I wonder why a dentist office would have sugar-based gum in their machines. I chew and chew. Evidently I'm grinding my teeth more than usual in my sleep lately.

Under three blankets was cold all night and so now, on this starkly bleak day, I am sitting in the warmest room in the house with the furnace on, with tea steeping, and wearing flannel. Spenserian stanzaic scansion be on the docket for today, along with the penning of a stanza in some manner of pale imitation, which I will discuss and display in class for Monday, a lovely excuse to pull my Penguin edition of Faerie Queene from the bookshelf--the credit card slip is still inside--evidently I purchased the book on January 6th of 1991 from Von's. I would have been a sophomore then, With a Discover card, the application for which was no doubt filled out in the Memorial Mall so I could have a free 2-liter bottle of Coke or a free highlighter. The acidic newsprint pages have been yellowing like ivory on my shelf ever since. For some reason I have my transcript right here--I'm assuming I bought the book for my English 240 class: English Lit through the 18th Century. I never read the excerpts no doubt assigned for class, which would explain my lackluster grade of C.

Photo of Jewish Holocaust Museum, Berlin

Friday, October 26, 2007

Lame-o Lamenheimer


Yep, I've been pretty damned lame on this blog. I won't make excuses. I've been having what could be categorized as a fairly light semester, but have hed little time for blog entries lately. Perhaps I need a life-coach. Or at least a personal assistant. I've been told to include pix of my three new trees ( story on that event forthcoming) that I now have in my yard, and, if my laptop will agree to talk to my digital camera, you can see the breathtaking arborial documentation in upcoming posts.

Considering my quite-busy upcoming semester, I'm trying to get some reading done ahead of time, and have therefore been limping through Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man which, far be it from me to be presumptuous, really could do without 30 pages of verbatim fireandbrimstone sermons in the middle. I mean, I get the point. At least the last 25 pages of the book have turned out to be interesting. Next on the list--To the Lighthouse and The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf.

From what I've read so far in the latest issue of McSweeney's, Bowl of Cherries, the new book (actually the debut novel) from Millard Kaufman (the man who brought you Mister McGoo) is quite good. It tries a bit too hard in certain spots, but I'd rather something try hard than not try.

Speaking of trying, I should make the attempt to finish the last ten pages of Portrait. It's just about the easiest book to put down that I've run across...

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Descending Chromatics


--Why I'm a sucker for this device, I don't know, but if a piece has this as the motif, I'll play it to death. I still remember the first time I heard Dido's Lament When I Am Laid in Earth--it was in the auditorium of Matthews Hall during Music Appreciation class back in 1992 or so. In fact, it's the only thing I remember about that class. The performance was a bit more industriously-paced than this (the aria proper starts around 1:10)--in fact, it could've been a polka--but there it was...that descending scale that fits in so perfectly with the last thing before Dido descends to the Underworld. And then a song I'm sure I never would have heard had I not been in Russia, the amazing Seven Seconds by Youssou N'Dour, which was one of the reasons I made sure I caught Euro MTV every evening in the hopes this video would be on.

It fell under my radar for a few months once I got back to the States, until I listened to Radiohead and Bossa Nova in the same day--it's good to have things on shuffle occasionally. In the Joao Gilberto performance of Samba de Una Nota So (an amateur performance is here), I noticed a distinct similarity to the main motif of Radiohead's Nice Dream. I was once again down one of those rabbit holes I mentioned earlier--The Cure has their 10-minute epic Watching Me Fall from Bloodflowers (here live, with modified bass line), and then on that new Annie Lennox album I mentioned earlier this week, her song Big Sky, the latter couple of minutes of which are among the most impressive vocals she's laid down in years. There isn't any link to the actual song, but snippets of it can be heard on Itunes. I'd swear I've got about 10 other songs that have this, but can't think of them right off-hand.

There are only two other things that seem to immediately get my attention in pop music--the reasons for which I'm still unsure of: 6/8 time (Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears and, yes, I'll admit, I even temporarily fell for Whitney Houston's Be Your Baby Tonight for the same reason), and then there's one other thing I can't describe and will need to clear through someone with plenty of music theory so I know the term for it.

--pic from http://www.cityofsound.com/photos/swiss_cottage_library/swisscottage_stairs2.html

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Sex, Politics, and Overcast Skies

This morning came early, with me feeling feverish, and with sore throat, and generally feeling crappy, at 2:30 am. Couldn't get to bed until 4:30, over which time I spent writing general notes on a prospective piece concerning an imagined photograph of a hand grenade along with a pomegranate. It made sense at the time, and, not having my notes, I'm hoping it will make sense later. After my class, during which various freshmen succeeded to varying degrees to stay awake whilst talking about Dostoevsky. Once class was finished I spoke to some about their sleepiness and that I will be counting students absent if they sleep whilst in class. I didn't use "whilst" in conversing with them, but they got the point. At least one high point was someone coming up to me afterwards asking whether all of Dostoevsky was like Notes from Underground--his stuff seemed relevant well past the time in which it was written. Hearing that from just one student is making the teaching of this book worthwhile. Next semester I hope to do a better job at setting this book up and discussing it to better effect in class.

Once I was settled down after getting back to my office, I headed to the Lafayette side to get some breakfast at a local diner, where the post-Matins crowd had gathered for eggs and hashbrowns. One of the off-duty priests came in, and asked, in passing, just who they thought was going to be president; whether there was any hope of someone other than Hillary. Conversation was rather reserved, but, as I perked my ears up to get the dirt on local politics, I heard "Evan Bayh--I'd vote for him...He's a heartthrob."

Really. After all this mess, is that still how people are voting--off the ballot and based on looks and personality? I was hoping after all this, with thousands of lives lost and billions and billions of dollars down the pike that the age of voting for someone that seems like a good person to have a beer with was long past. I'll admit I entertained similar thoughts when Perot was running--he was wacky and seemed he'd be someone to add an element of fun to politics. I've grown older and wiser since.
When the "gals" turned the tables and asked the priest what he thought about the upcoming election, he said that he thought hillary would be the next president, but didn't like her. "She strikes me as a very emotional, angry person." Not quite sure where that's coming from. Having listened to her, I'm still trying to figure that out. Angry? I'm trying to figure out how that sizes up with threatening war with Iran and discussions on doubling the size of Guantanamo. I guess it's all a matter of perception.

I found out yesterday that Annie Lennox had a new CD out, and it turns out to have the world's worst title: Songs of Mass Destruction. The title wasn't at all promising, indicating a full-out awful political album, and, much as I like Annie Lennox, I don't want George W. to be the basis for a Lennox album. Thankfully only two songs are preachy, but that is two songs too many unless one is willing to go out and do Baez-style protesting. and even that, inthis day and age, is unlikely to do much. and flagwaving former hippies in this bar playing the Doors on the jukebox aren't helping my view on this much.
I'd be in a better mood, but it's Jane Eyre weather outside. Cloudy, dark, bleak drizzle-piss coldness, with a really shitty waitress to top things off. Honestly. If I'm going so far as to typing most of this blog entry on a laptop at an 8-top table (which is where the outlet is), after waving hello to her and most of the townies sitting at the bar, we've got a problem.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Debt, Thy Name Remains Davo

Well, it's October and I'm hemorrhaging money. After the first brake issue ($600), I had to finally bend to necessity and get a laptop ($650), then there was the second brake issue ($250), then the dental issue ($250) today, and then the other bills. It's a good thing I'm easy on clothes and am not too proud to wear things that occasionally look ridiculous (my sweaters would be a good case in point). This October break was not particularly productive, but I did at least manage to get a few books that I know I'll be needing for next semester's classes. I was hoping to actually get a review or two done, but perhaps that can wait for the coming weekend. I have many reviews to write. Perhaps I'll just work on those in the evenings...get about 5 done and then send them off.

I've been reading through one of the latest issues from McSweeney's Press--the box set of flash fiction, which is generally ok, with some really rather interesting pieces. I'm about halfway through the last volume. In other news, Half Price Books was selling blank books and sketch books for $2 each--woo Hoo!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Unusual talents, Plus, The International Tranvestite Revue

Oh Dear. I could be working on my lesson plans. I could be writing the Great American Novel. But, I started with the recommendation of one of the Chinese Grad students at Purdue, who was completely amazed and mesmerized by someone named Vitas, who has very impressive falsetto. The song is very much what I remember to be typical Russian Pop Music from my time with Kristen in Moscow, but this guy has something special. I looked around for a vid that had the best sound quality and resolution, and this what I was able to find that didn't involve exploding fish. If I could do this, I'd be a professional singer too. By the way, the shrouded musicians are reminiscent of the faceless characters in Man Ray's early film Les Mysteres du Chateau de De.

In unrelated news, I have found various unusual and completely hysterical video clips from around the world that involve people wearing clothes that some would not consider work-appropriate for their gender. I remember at my previous job that some supervisors interviewed someone who showed up to work in drag and all went quite well save for the fact that he had forgotten to shave, leaving quite a bit of stubble showing through the foundation, however thickly it was applied. Earlier yet was a person who was (and perhaps still is, on the City Council for Ft. Wayne Indiana, who on various occasions, showed up at the Southtown Mall branch of Home Loan Savings Bank in full drag, ranging from a Minnie Pearl-type getup (he stepped down from a Monster Truck parked in the lot) to a Klinger-style Nurse's outfit in a shiny red Miata in the drive-thru.

At any rate, we have, of all things, transvestite Russian/Ukranian Ska (wrap your head around that one, folks); he happened to be also the Ukranian entry in the Eurovision Song Contest, whose persona is a disturbing combination of a Christmas tree and my dearly-departed Grandma Irene, his song "Dancing" was quite the hit. At least he got rid of the big star headdress in later days.

But oh, that ain't all. In addition to that, we have Dame Edna, much adored in Britain, whose show is a bit of a twist on the typical talk show. I'll be sure to keep you abreast (ahem) of further developments in this area.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I Hate Vista. I Hate Vista. I Hate Vista.

Okey folks, I know just enough about my laptop to know that I sincerely, truly, honestly, unabashedly hate Microsoft Vista. It's truly the biggest, most bogged-down load of flaming goatshit on toast I've had to deal with. It is running right up there with 1993-era Russian bureaucracy. And that ain't good, folks. Earlier today, Vista decided that it wanted to shut down my computer and restart it. no matter that I was doing research. no matter that I was answering student emails. The overall feel, for those that have been there, is AOL back just before everyone revolted against AOL. Remember? Do not shut down your computer. AOL is installing important updates to your computer. And there you sit, for a half hour, watching Yellow Man Running. It's like that. Infuriating. You don't like settings as they have them? Well, the path to the areas that allow you to adjust said settings is a quest of Hobbit-like scale. Muting the sound also makes it so that you can't close the Volume window. Evidently Vista believes that if you want things muted, you plan on changing your mind soon. I think a strongly-worded letter is in order. Especially since I can't get XP anymore...this is the only operating system I'm able to get from Micro-suckin-soft.
In happier news, the latest book from Alice Notley is out, the one who brought you The Descent of Alette and the one who was weirded out by Dave's starstruck-ness at AWP in Atlanta this year. From what I've seen, it isn't quite as difficult to access as The Mysteries of Small Houses. I've also seen that the latest issue of McSweeney's is out now, with a tribute to Barthelme, and in addition there is a box set of flash fiction out there from the same folks that proves to be interesting.
After spending untold hundreds of dollars on my car, the parking brake refuses to disengage, which left one wheel smoking profusely after a low-speed roll of 5 blocks. I was obscenely and verbosely cussing my fate when I found that the intersection I just passed through had two badly-damaged cars just involved in an accident--I suppose things could be worse. Here's hoping the damned brakes disengage for my drive home tomorrow. I promise never to use the parking brake ever again.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

I'll take you outta this world baby, with a lovin' feelin.


While I get the hang of a perfectly flat laptop keyboard that radiates heat-- certainly something to get used to--I thought I'd mention a singer everyone's likely heard of already--Amy winehouse. The first time I'd ever heard of her was when she got incarcerated due to her addled fight with her boyfriend. I had no idea who this chick was. Now that I got a computer and a bit of free time, I thought I'd see who this person was, expecting to read about another one of those manufactured stars like Britney and Lohan, and instead I find someone who has a wonderful recent album of heroin-meets-Motown combined with a touch of Diamanda Galas--who has quite a few harrowing releases out there, along with this amazing performance with Alan Wilder's (formerly of Depeche Mode) recoil. Winehouse is certainly in trouble, and her family is encouraging people to ignore her recent album, but from what I've heard, her Back in Black album is worth looking into. Of course, I may be writing this about 9-18 months too late, as is my usual M.O. regarding pop music.

Still no new pictures yet--the drivers aren't readily available for my camera and my hard drives have yet to be easily connected to my laptop.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Back to Music and Politics

Bright and early at 7:45 on Friday, my good friend Joe called me up asking if I was coming down to Indy for the weekend--he had tickets for the Symphony for performances he wasn't planning to attend. I of course said I'd be delighted to lighten him of a couple of tickets. Last night saw the return of the most recent winner of the Indianapolis Violin Competition, which is an event that has seen quite a bit of respectable international attention in the past decade. It turned out that it was the opening concert for the Classical series, so there was quite a bit of prefatory shenanigans going on in the discussion that they often have in one of the reception rooms. Mario Venzago, the conductor, mentioned that some might think that Richard Strauss' Death and Transfiguration an odd choice to open the series with, considering its rather grave opening section. He mentioned that he thought it apt.
Many of the usual folks were there, Friday seeming to be the night that those closest to working with the Symphony plan to attend. Marianne Tobias, the musicologist who writes the program notes, was called on to demonstrate augmented fourths on the piano. Her husband was also there who many will likely recognize--Randall Tobias, the Bush-appointed AIDS "czar," who recently has been in a spot of trouble or two. He seemed to be in quite good spirits, in spite of his shady resignation. Wife Marianne was quite bubbly and seemed to not be affected at all by the recent scandal. either that or the medications are working quite well. Considering that her husband was CEO of Lilly company, I'd assume she's getting the best drugs money can buy.
But I digress. Venzago's comment about Death and Transfiguration being an apt season-opener, no doubt, has to do with the recent shake-up in the orchestra recently, with quite a few principal chairs picking now to retire, and this quite soon after what appears to be a Venzago-leveraged replacement of the Concertmaster the season before. There are quite a few fresh faces (and by this I mean young in addition to new) in the current lineup. The new concertmaster is all of 28 years old.
He was featured quite a bit in the pieces yesterday, with the various solos in Death and Transfiguration, which opened the concert, and the following Poem of Ecstasy, otherwise known as the fourth symphony by Alexandr Scriabin, which is about 35 minutes of sex. Yep, that's about the only way I'd be able to describe it--that Scriabin dude was rather preoccupied. His ten piano sonatas are a great overview of what his style is like and how it evolved into the ecstatic metaphysical vision that he had toward his last years. The audience seemed rather bemused/confused by all the sinuous swirling of the massive forces packed on the stage. I was rather distracted by my nose, as the woman next to me had her perfume set on tazer stun mode. I found I only had a tiny little Dairy-Queen napkin in my pocket and I was doing all I could to make it last through the performance.
The last piece was our Violin Competition winner, Augustin Hadelich, performing the Tchaikovsky Concerto. As winner of the competition, he has been given the use of the Gingold Stradivarius made in 1683 for the next four years, so this was also an opportunity to hear the voice of a famed and ancient instrument. He did wonderfully. As most who have been to Classical performances know, there are folks who think the whole piece is over when only the first movement has ended and they'll clap. Tonight was no exception, especially with the barn-burning ending to the first movement of the Tchaikovsky, but a couple of people in the fourth row went so far as to give him a standing ovation, which brought other people springing up who didn't appear to know any better. This went on for some time, with various Others not knowing quite what to do and standing up to clap while the orchestra had a not-particularly well-hidden chuckle.
I have half a mind to go again tonight, but with finances the way they are, I'll think it's best not to. Next week--The Beethoven 9th. There'll be plenty to see with that one. The general public piles in and proceeds to yawn and consult their watches through the first movements of the symphony, but perk right up as soon as the Chorus stands up. They seem to think that that movement is the 9th symphony. And who knows--perhaps I'll be able to corner Randall and ask him a bit about massage therapy...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Debt, thy name is Davo.

Well, folks, Davo now has a new computer. He has finally entered into the laptop age. He has a smokin credit card. He has descended into the depths of Microsoft Vista, which is truly the most godawful piece of crap software since Microsoft ME. In spite of that fact, Microsoft has blocked purchase of Windows XP, so all have to buy the most godawful piece of crap software since Office ME. Still, though, crap software is better than fried motherboard, so I leave this brief bit here to alert all who religiously check out this blog that I appear to be online yet again.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Gloom, Despair, and 'Puter Repair

Hi all. I type with a heavy heart. My home computer bit the green weenie last week and I'm lost at home without it. It's a wonder what one did before one had computers. I have access while I am at school, but back at home, it's back to 1922 regarding home entertainment. I've got books, I've got blank paper, and I've got pens. that's about it. My stereo also is affected, as the computer was the CD player ever since my conventional CD player died 4 years ago. I should probably6 break down and get myself a laptop for my portable computing needs, but before I do, I really need to figure out how to get the files off my now suddenly uncommunicative home PC.

Thankfully, I had the vital stuff--syllabus, assignment sheets, manuscripts and drafts--on a separate drive, but my music (my music! Gasp!), my photos, and many other things are trapped. I'm trying to figure out where to turn.

More on this as things progress.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Previous lives




...I've had several.. we have the uptight undergraduate in Glee club,



the uptight postgraduate just before Russia,




The uptight businessman,


















and other unsorted uptightness.....

Perhaps one sees a recurring theme.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Livestock, Sore Feet, and Fried Pepsi


What a day. After waking up and making breakfast, I found myself having some sort of Celine Dion moment, watching various performances of Lara Fabian blasting her way through Je T'Aime, a song I first heard and couldn't get enough of when I was in Paris. Both Lara and Celine are too pop/Adult Contemporary for me, but I like Lara better. She tears this song up. After watching three other shaky amateur cellphone vids of the same song, I truck outside and mix some mortar and work on tuck-pointing the remaining bits of the foundation that I hadn't gotten to yet. While I am filling a crack in my porch steps, I evidently got too close to a nest of yellowjackets, who reside in my hollow metal porch-railing, which necessitated immediate evasive maneuvers. I managed to keep skin, mortar, trowel, and mortarboard (it ain't just a hat, folks) intact while doing the Daffy Duck dance all around my front lawn. No doubt Doreen the neighbor took note. For the rest of the afternoon, the phrase "I'm covered in BEES" was on endless repeat in the Mental Jukebox.

In spite of assurances that a cold front came through last night, it was still hot as blazes outside, so I spent the rest of the afternoon parked as near to a cold-air vent as possible. From there, Holly and I went to the Indiana State Fair, which is always good for people-watching. This year's models sport neck tattoos of girl- or boyfriend's names. The guys wear boxer shorts under basketball shorts, the waistband of the latter completely under their asses so they have to walk straddle-legged to keep things from falling in the cowshit they're walking over. Regarding the ladies, I swear I saw Britney Spears 15 times today. This is her kinda place. Rascal Flatts was playing to a packed grandstand as Holly and I walked to the Midway. The Fair Food Exhibition Dish this year is Fried Pepsi. You heard it. Fried Pepsi. Under the sign was a list of steps as to how the delicacy was prepared. Essentially, it's fried dough using Pepsi instead of water, with the finished fritter drizzled with undiluted Pepsi syrup, waffle style. If it doesn't slip right out of your hand, it'll surely slip right through your GI tract. I opted for a smoked turkey leg, which ended up being over a pound. I gnawed on it for at least half an hour, feeling like a cross between Henry VIII and a dingo. It was good, but even after flossing, I still feel like I've got at least enough for half a turkey salad sandwich wedged between my molars. Of all the food to buy at the fair, the turkey leg is the most mileage for your buck.

In the Bunny and Poultry pavilion, I did my best to take decent photos of the fauna on display. The fowl were rather difficult to capture, not least due to the fact that their legs appear to be attached to their neck muscles, making each stride a full-body experience. Finally I found a couple that stood still long enough not to be feathered blurs in the limited light. The hen at the top of this post was fully determined to kick my ass. After two shots, I left for tamer fare.

The rabbits were hot. No denying it. It wasn't the walking around that made pix difficult, it was their panting. One proud young owner of a Rex offered to take her entry out of the cage so the wire wouldn't be in the way of the pic. I forgot to get her name, but here she is. She's even got a bunny t-shirt.

Oh, and I almost forgot the sheep in their disturbing protective outfits. And the first sheep Olympic Bobsledding team.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Bye, Bye, Birdie


Last night was my farewell to the Parakeet from the Sky a/k/a Bertie a/k/a Moonbat a/k/a The Bird. School is coming up and my apartment, among other things, would not be able to accommodate the cage, the grad office would not be able to accommodate birds in general, and the house would be empty save for the bird for days at a time, which would be a horrible fate for the poor thing. Transporting wouldn't work due to how cold things get up here in the wintertime. Alice, who was kind enough to loan me a cage to begin with when the bird fluttered down from the neighbor's big oak tree back at the beginning of June, will be taking over custody of the bird. Her daughter looked very excited about getting a bird and I'm sure she will be wonderful in caring for him. After only almost two months it was harder to put the cage in the car and wave as they drove off than I thought. I was thinking that somehow I'd be able to swing having him in the grad office, but I'm sure I would have gotten in major trouble for that...

Rock on, Moonbat, with your 80s-music-lovin, aloud-poetry-readin self. Hope to see you in May back here in the living room...