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...

Monday, August 06, 2007

Parakeets and Internets and Heatstroke

It appears I have found a stopgap happy pill for the parakeet, whose droopy, sullen presence here in the house was getting to be almost more than I could bear. It wouldn't sing, wouldn't sit on my finger, and would only move either to the top of the cage to eat, or to the dining room curtain rod to look down on his hopeless, halflit domain.

This morning, as a last resort, found a website that had example soundfiles of Arizona songbirds. I played them. Found another on the songbirds of New York. Played those too. I swiped them off the interweb and combined them on a CD with soundtracks from various Youtube parakeet videos. Result--instantaneously happy parakeet, flying around the room, chatting back at the speakers, perching on my finger and eating foxtails pulled from the weeds in the garden. Considering that meteorologists are predicting the longest string of 90+ degree days since 1988, it's a good thing that I found at least this. The A/C is not likely to be off for some time. Let's just see how long I can handle hearing badly-edited birdsong sound files...Davo may end up being the sullen one.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Burden of Memory

One thing that has weighed heavily on my mind over the past few years has been the idea of memory and how it is valued. Some of the other first year poets can likely remember my 4 or 5 page series of notes regarding a novel/long poem sequence. The notes were tremendously overburdened with detail and were overmuch by even those likely to write a large novel. Those involved in the reading were quite diplomatic regarding my glut of material and structural thoughts. Most of the bits in my notes had to do with my upbringing and the importance of keeping a historical context on things, as well as experiences of my family with Alzheimer's and how it affects memory.
I was concerned at the time primarily with the personal aspect of memory and how it is vilified or valued, but in the current political climate, memory also happens to be on center stage regarding various hearings. Memory of the people that are testifying--if they actually show up to testify--is rather consistently faulty. Gonzalez had his famous "I don't recall" testimony not terribly long ago which has morphed, in later testimonies to "I can't answer that question" now that the President is the Big Block to Governmental memory. Phrases of the past year tend to orbit around "I'm not aware" and "I don't know." But memory and its forms are a major obsession at present and the governmental problems of late are only a small part of that.

In bed at my grandparents' house some years back, I was reading a book before falling asleep when my grandmother opened the door. The room had been, over thirty years ago, the room she shared with her husband.
"Where's Gilbert?" she asked.
"He's in the room across the hall, gramma." She blinked and thought a second, hand still on the doorknob, then looked back at me. "Well, good night, then."
"Good night," I said.
She had no idea who I was. She had walked from the bathroom to go to bed and in her bed, in the place of where she thought her husband was, a stranger was reading, a book held under the shade of the lamp. Based on what the stranger said, she closed the door and said goodnight and went to a different room. I'm not sure how many of us would have done the same thing and not caused a ruckus. And in the eye of newborns I can't help but see the same expression of newness and wonder that I kept seeing in her eyes during that and subsequent visits.

Forms of memory are seen everywhere. Hugo's thesis in Notre Dame that architecture is literature, and literature is seen as a form of memory, that same architecture as a backdrop to the interplay of Esmeralda and Quasimodo and the evil Frollo. Literature is, in its own right, memory. Any form of repetition as a form of memory, from the repeated arches or triangulations of a bridge or building to the repeated arches of wires between posts along the highway, to the fact that so many people have been named David or Michael or Frederick or Alice or Theodore before us; the fact that the names we ourselves carry are a form of memory. And in looking forward in the moving car one sees in the same field of vision the receding perspective of the countryside in the oblong mirror glued to the glass.

Memory is, currently, worth both everything and nothing. Politicians wish they could forget, and dear relatives either wish desperately they could remember or live in a present that no longer is, with surrogate sons and husbands, and acquaintances that no longer exist. The past and near-present are the current battleground of society. If one has the power to control history, one has great power. Without that, it's a frightening place to be. Its a frightening place to be nonetheless.

picture adapted from a still from The Life and Death of 9413, A Hollywood Extra

I've done my part...A Rationalization

I kinda like our ozone layer. I don't drive much, took Indy public transport (arguably the worst for how large the city is in the nation--even Lafayette has better busing) for over five years before getting my car. Had a non-engine-driven lawn mower. The usual. I've spent all but three days this summer not using my air conditioning, but after yesterday's weather, and with today expected to be five degrees hotter with more humidity, I'm in hunker-down mode with the curtains closed and the A/C on. This is the first house I've lived in that has had central air, and for a substantial part of my formative years, I've been of the school that A/C simply makes you wimpy. One can be hot, even with the A/C on, and going outside simply becomes intolerable. So, then, why have it? For days like this, when it's gonna be over 95, with humidity in the over 80s category.

The parakeet can't cling to the screen, can't hear the birds singing, can't respond to the outside, and so today sulks on the curtain rod. But at least isn't panting due to the temperature.

In the half light the curtains admit, I've got plenty to do--books to read, much to write, and a semester to plan, pondering questions such as whether I should make the freshies read French Futurist/Cubists and Dostoevsky, or should I do something else.... Plus, the huge amount of Haydn I've been putting off for months is still hanging over my head. The lawn can wait, the weeds can wait, the windows can continue to cook in the garage.