Finate


digital rendering by veach st glines — 2008

People ask me, 'Don't you ever run out of ideas?' In the first place I don't use ideas. Every time I have an idea it's too limiting, and usually turns out to be a disappointment. But I haven't run out of curiosity. — Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008)

Gus 1998 - 2008

Hanging on my studio wall, higher than I can reach without a boost (remember when gimme a boost was followed by someone interlacing their fingers and bending at the waist in anticipation of a dirty foot being placed in their hands?) is a nail—obviously driven there prior to the landlords last paint-job. Suspended from that ivory-painted spike is a slender booklet. The page facing me bears a close-up image of two tanned, well-manicured, and unsoiled sudsy hands under a chrome faucet. I think the hands belong to a woman; but since the unpainted nails are short and no jewelry is visible, my assumption is only based on size and shape and in no way should be construed to mean I think men with svelte hands are effeminate. (The last phrase of that previous sentence is a lie.) Periwinkle words: National Hand Washing Awareness Week 3rd–9th, cross the lower edge of the image, over blurry white porcelain.

Below the image are thirty-one squares. I don’t have to count them to know how many there are because each one has a number in its upper right corner. Using an indigo-blue Bingo Marker, my paramour places a dot of ink in the center of each of the squares. I can always determine when she was away because catch-up dots are lighter, less-round, and a little streaked at the edges.

I’ve seen the new booklet my paramour plans to hang when each of the squares below the washing hands is dotted (I may offer to give her a boost because I love to hear her laugh). The front image shows the inside of an arm—I don’t know if it’s a man or a woman’s arm—where a needle has been inserted into a vein and taped in place. The needle is attached to a short red tube, which leads to a suspended plastic bag half-full of dark blood. I know it’s blood because of the vermilion words at the top: National Blood Donor Month.

Yesterday, when my paramour brought home the booklet that begins with a bag of blood, I thought back to when she hung the current-almost-finished one—now filled with candy-apple red and indigo-blue dots (she ran out of red on the page Prostate Cancer Awareness Week 15th–21st, with a picture of an elderly man hiking in the mountains....sometimes, less-obvious imagery is definitely better).

The worst page was the one with business-suited cyclists parading down a city street wearing: helmets, smiles, and little round mirrors at the top corner of their sunglasses. In muddy-taupe print, Bike to Work Week 12th–16th, tarnished the perfect-blue sky. That was the page Gus died.

Almost ten booklets ago, the very pregnant hausfrau—who reluctantly surrendered his care to me—was concerned that I would not be able to sleep with him in my house because, “this is a wonderful, indoor, red-tip Siamese, but a constant-he-is-yowling.” Her strongest fear, she confided, was Gus suffocating her soon-to-arrive baby.

At that time, he was the age that’s no longer kitten and not yet cat. Gangly. He was content to sit quietly in my apartment window during the day as long as I allowed him to sleep between my legs on hot nights, next to my head on cool nights, and under the covers—in my armpit—on cold nights.

The housfrau’s fear was legitimate: when I laid on my stomach, he would lie on the side of my face; if I turned my head, he would reposition himself in order to stay on my face. (I suspect he liked my warm breath.) Since I need cool air to sleep and have never been able to sleep with my head under a blanket, I slept only on my back or side.

His attention was always focused, his purr louder than fingers tapping on the arm of an overstuffed chair, and his head-butting-show-of-affection was a daily, solid, affirmation of his connection to me—his human.

He loved to play rough—my hands and wrists bore constant scratches (and a few scars) as testament—but he intuitively knew faces were off-limits. If interested in playing rough, I would sniffle, by audibly drawing a short breath in and out of my nose. He was always game. He taught me the sniffle-signal while purring in someone's lap; a few quick sniffles and he attacked the person petting him.

Gus would almost always come when his name was called (indoors). His sigh, exhaling a long-breath that left his nasal passages and lightly strummed his vocal chords, like a weary soldier, just before he fell to sleep was a goodnight I have learned to sorely miss.

Gus had an impressive vocal range and an obsessive-compulsive streak. If a door was closed which he wanted open, he would cry and meow at above normal indoor-voice-conversation level. If his meowling bothered me, I would sometimes shout at him or chase him away from the door. Then, he could—from a distant room—increase his volume until it became an angry-hurt, deep, baying, rapid-fire-howl. This, however, only happened after he taught me to hike with him in the woods.

After leaving Germany, Gus and I traveled through several American southwest states for almost half a booklet. I allowed him out of the tent almost immediately (even though he hadn’t asked) because there were no man-made objects in sight. At first, he wandered and I strolled after him. His explorations—with me always just over his shoulder—got longer; I intervened only when his path looked precarious or his destination was toward man-made objects. After a few weeks, I began to take the lead. If the sun was not too high-hot and the trail I chose was interesting for his nose and ears, he would stay with me until drawn off-path by a gecko, bird, or cooling spot of shade. At times we would switch the lead and he would move ahead (usually because he wanted to ‘break brush’ and walk anywhere but on a path). I soon learned what surfaces his tender foot pads could tolerate and subsequently chose all future hiking locations accordingly.

Once we were settled inside walls, he would yowl to go out when the weather was nice. Whenever I could, I would take him out into the forest and we would just walk together, for miles sometimes—me with a walking staff (to check for snakes in the dark nooks he liked to explore) and him with a bright orange neckband (If I called, he would come about half the time; the other half he just wondered: ‘why are you yelling? Can’t you see I’m right here?’ as his creamy-sandy-rust camouflaged him in some shady spot). Eventually, we hiked together enough that I stopped looking over my shoulder as much. If I got too far ahead (about 20-40 meters, depending on the terrain) he would mewl a high-pitched kitten-cry ‘hey, stop going so fast’.

We communicated—clearly—in a language of our own design. A click of my finger could mean get down, come here, look at me, pay attention to my hand, or stop that (the latter of which he understood but almost always disregarded unless I stood up, or stepped towards him). A closed mouth mewl with no tail movement meant either: I'm coming, I'm jumping up, wake up, or even just hi.

One most memorable occasion, we both climbed a huge flat-topped boulder where I meditated while he lay next to me listening to the birds and bugs ease the late evening into night. We were out there for several hours in the dark. He never left my side.

Four pages before he died, he became diabetic. I learned all about feline diabetes and especially how ignorant veterinarians are when it comes to the disease. I bought a human blood testing kit, pricked his ears several times a day (there were almost always a broken-capillary site, or three, visible from then on) and charted exactly how much insulin he got every day. He was fed only cans of meat and fish intended for humans; never pet food (all cat food is bad for all cats, but diabetic cat food is especially bad for diabetic cats) and I sprinkled an herbal powder on his food twice a day, which significantly lowered the insulin intolerance of his cells.

My paramour and I paid for a vacation a half booklet before he was diagnosed. A half-page before we left, Gus was almost completely weaned off of insulin and I was foolishly optimistic.

The pet-sitter was trained to administer the insulin and knew how, what, and when to feed. In the middle of that vacation I received an e-mail: ‘I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but Gus passed away.’

Of course I wanted to blame the pet-sitter, but I couldn’t. All I could think is: he trusted me more completely than any human has ever trusted me and after nearly ten booklets I let him down. At the moment he needed me, I was not there.

He knew I always insured his safety and even though I was hurting his ear and pricking his skin with shots every day—I was his human, it was OK. If I’d have been there, I would have tested his blood, I would have administered the insulin correctly, I would have fed him properly, and I would have responded immediately at the first signs of an illness. But I was in another country.

In comparison to the remorse I feel from the loss of Gus, I have never cried as fully, nor felt as long-term saddened as heavily by any other loss (human or animal) in my entirety. I can't stop reminding myself that as his fatal sickness intensified and the moment of his death neared, I wonder what he was thinking—and—know what he was thinking. Where’s my human? I need my human. Why isn't he here?

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button



The film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a wondrous feat of storytelling and certainly worth investing three hours of your time and a sawbuck of your savings.

The critical reviews are rife with comparisons of this film with other, less refined films and movies, which span 80+ years of history (and, in this case, the lifetime of the titular individual).

The only reason NOT to see this film is because you have been anxiously awaiting: Yes Man, Bedtime Stories, or Four Christmases...in which case you probably don't read these rants anyway.

The director of Seven, Fight Club, and The Game has topped himself. Don't miss it.

Portland OR — Reasons (#3)


Craftsmanship Pride

A dozen rational reasons to enjoy living in Portland, Oregon: Number three.

I—like everyone—have heard the 'where's the pride in craftsmanship anymore?' complaint for so many years I thought it was a rhetorical question. It's not. Pride in one's craft only comes when your product is appreciated, purchased, admired, and desired. Since the trend toward more inexpensive IKEA products and nicer furniture from China is not reversible, the craftsmen and women of today are making wonderful products in my neck of the woods (and my neighbors and I appreciate them by the mug, plate, glass, bottle, and ticket on a frequent basis):
  • With 47 different brewing facilities within a 30-mile radius of the city (450 beer labels) this is the micro brew center of the world.
  • Over 30 wineries in the northern Oregon area make this a wine-lovers wonderland.
  • A handful of distilleries are catching hold, and besides unique local vodkas and other liquors, absinthe is now locally produced and available for legal consumption.
  • There are two local brothers: Mike and Brian McMenamin, who should be canonized by the Revitalized Congregation of Our Dearly Inebriated. They have brought new life into dozens of wonderful old buildings—including a 1920's-era Art Deco Vaudeville theater, a fully restored 1910's-era Ballroom with its "floating dance floor", and a Masonic retirement home—by turning/returning them into movie houses, brewpubs, hotels, and music venues. McMenamins: true pride in local craftsmanship.
There's a moment for everyone when you fall into your own shadow and the fact is that it's your shadow and you're forced to live in it. And this is nothing to celebrate or not celebrate. It simply is. — Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008)

Happy Festivus



Aluminum pole, Food, Grievances to be aired, Feats of Strength to be tested, Beer (in that order).

I think a painting is more like the real world if it's made out the real world. — Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008)

Solstice Celebration

Today is the shortest day and longest night of the northern hemisphere; the solstice (here on the US western coast) is at exactly 4:04 am.

If one were to pay no attention to man-made calendars, today would be New Year's Eve (which the southern hemisphere would celebrate on June 21st). Sticking with the hypothetical, New Years Day would actually be celebrated on December 23d—Festivus—rather than the 22d, because some years the Winter Solstice is on Dec 22d.

There are only 48 months until the ancient Mayan last day of the long count calendar. How will you spend your last four years on this side of the Milky Way Galaxy? I intend to:
  • Applaud more
  • Blog more
  • Create more
  • Dive more
  • Exercise more
  • Fuck more
  • Golf more
  • Hike more
  • Ignore less
  • Joke more
  • Kiss more
  • Love more
  • Meditate more
  • Neglect less
  • Ogle more
  • Paint more
  • Quibble less
  • Read more
  • Sell more
  • Tank more
  • Understand more
  • View more
  • Walk more
  • Xplore more
  • Yammer less
  • Zig more (Zag less)

I challenge everyone who reads this to treat it as a meme (if you go in for that sort of thing; and if-n you can't figure out the rules, make em up).

Book Selecting & What Not to Read

I read in fits and starts. Fiction can be a wonderful escape and non-fiction is a simple way to learn things; so, I’ll gorge myself by devouring a half-dozen books and then fast a few weeks with nary a page-snack.

I shop in bookstores like this:
  • I scan New Arrivals for authors that’ve proven themselves wordsmiths to my satisfaction.
  • If I find a new Andrew Vachss (let's say). I open it to the copyright page; 1st printing within the last few months?–buy it without scanning a word (back covers and flap jackets have become mini-movie trailers, which should all begin *warning spoiler alert*).
  • If I discover it was previously published (two decades ago, say) but I don’t recall the title, I scan for an introduction or a ‘new afterward by the author,’ and read a bit to determine if this is a previously read novel.
  • Still can’t determine if I’ve read it?–sit and read the first few pages.
  • Then, I scan genre sections that I prefer; presently Sci-Fi, Graphic Novels, Non-fiction, small press. (Here, I actually expect the book to jump up and down and say ‘pick me pick me’).
  • I eventually shop for authors recommended by book-umpires that I trust. (e.g. Chuck Palaniuk not-so-vaguely recommended Katherine Dunne’s Geek Love, in his book fugitives and refugees.)
  • I may resort to reading the first few pages of books that have won awards. (I’ve learned, however, that the Pulitzer is rarely an indicator of reading I’ll enjoy, but the Hugo, Nebula, and Bram Stoker’s almost always are.)
  • Lastly, I hunt and pick. Reading bits of randomly selected books–for reasons I can’t guess at (probably just because the covers are interesting).
Occasionally, I buy books from the internet (when it’s cheap and the weather outside is frightening).

I bought Muffy: a Transmigration of Selves after reading only a few internet blurbs (shame on me). None the less, I applaud the author, S.T. Gulik, for:
  • Teaching me to never buy a book written by an untrusted author without holding it in my hand (this will determine if I’m being fucked at the drive-thru).
  • Seeding interesting reviews on the Internet about her own book–when extremely incompetent in the writing department, be good at marketing.
  • Being an imaginative twelve-year old who accomplished an enviable feat of self-publishing for a junior high school student (a fact, I surmise, solely from the writing).
Real published authors–versus writers who print their own shite–are proofread by editors and publishers; most people can’t edit their own work to save themselves a tarring, feathering, and run-out-of-town-on-a-railing. Gulik is proof of this.

If you can’t hook me by page thirty, you don’t get read. Here are a few examples of Muffy’s totally-terrible first thirty:

...large, doughy breasts. [cliché]
...sweet childlike voice... [cliché]
...you’re pure as the driven snow. [cliché]
...ain’t nuthin worse than an uppity whore. [cliché]
...she saw for the first time the true face of evil. [cliché]
...a tsunami of nausea came crashing down upon her... [cliché]
...that looked more like a horrible train wreck than teeth. [cliché]
...howl of anguish which resembled the sound a cat makes when it’s in heat... [cliché]

...rusty green bench...; ...door soundlessly becomes one with the wall...; ...Muffy awkwardly fell upon the waffles, devouring them...; ...arched as painfully as it had been before. [all very trite adverbs]

...usually sobs and convulses for hours after an encounter...this time had been different. [mixed present and past tense, and use of passive voice]

She squeezed the animal tighter until it began to feel its bones splinter. [mixed point of view inside a sentence]

...she caught a glimpse of a small figure silhouetted in the doorway. It stepped out of the light and shut the door. At first the room was without form and void and darkness was upon the face of the girl. She could hear her captor’s footsteps as they circled her in the darkness... [jarring change in the writer's tone of voice]

“My name’s Sarah, what’s yours?” Muffy tried to speak but her mouth . . . the blue haired one saw the problem and... [misuse of pronoun convention; once a speaker is identified, don't use a pronoun]

She could only stare at the dog that was now licking at a puddle that was developing around the garbage can. Drunken gaiety gave way to anger as the feeling of being insulted grew in his belly. [mixed point of view inside a paragraph; ‘Drunken’ should have begun a new paragraph]

Some of the vastly-various verbs, and horrendously trite adverbs, surrounding almost all of the dialogue: Muffy remarked, Muffy sneered, he demanded, Muffy mused, Muffy nodded gravely, Muffy awed, Muffy squealed, Muffy grunted inquisitively, Muffy said in awe, Muffy whined, Muffy assured, Muffy pouted, Muffy declared, she asked proudly, she said with a giggle, Muffy asked in awe, Muffy cooed, Muffy continued to coo, Muffy nodded happily, Muffy pleaded, Muffy giggled. In fact, Muffy almost never, ever, just said or asked.

Can an average adult not say to them self: hey, this book is full of disgusting clichés and perverse grammatical usage. I won’t read it. And put it back on the shelf? (which is a slightly altered excerpt from Gulik’s own interest generating introduction-disclaimer). Although I would never consider myself average–yes, I can. And I can write about it all over the Internet so others are informed about a very poorly written book.

Stranger than Fiction: True Stories

Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories by Chuck Palahniuk

rating: 4 of 5 stars

[Page 220:] ...brinksmanship, the tendency to leave things until the last moment, to imbue them with more drama and stress and appear the hero by racing the clock.

"Where I was born," Georgia O'Keefe used to say, "and where and how I have lived is unimportant."

She said, "It is what I have done with where I have been that should be of any interest."

[Pages 156-157:] People who come to interview (Marilyn) Manson, his publicist asks that they not publish the fact that he stands whenever a woman enters or leaves the room. After his father was disabled with a back injury, Manson bought his parents a home in California and supports them. When checking into hotels, he uses the name "Patrick Bateman" the serial-killing character from Bret Ellis's novel American Psycho.

[Page 56:] As a white man, you can live your whole life never not fitting in. You never walk into a jewelry store that sees only your black skin. You never walk into a bar that sees only your boobs. To be Whitie is to be wallpaper...

[Pages 31-32:] ...Heidegger pointed out how human beings tend to look at the world as a standing stock of material, ready for us to use. As inventory to be processed into something more valuable...he called this world of raw natural resources bestand. It seems inevitable that people without access to natural bestand, such as oil wells or diamond mines, that they'd turn to the only inventory they do have—their lives.

Snowflake

Make your own at Make A Flake.

I usually work in a direction until I know how to do it, then I stop at the time that I am bored or understand — I use those words interchangeably; another appetite has formed. A lot of people try to think up ideas. I’m not one. I’d rather accept the irresistible possibilities of what I can’t ignore. — Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008)

Snow Portland

Today was the first snowfall, at all elevations, in and around Portland. Nothing better than a warm fireplace, hot toddies, and the ambient sound of cars spinning their tires and crashing into stationary objects to remind one of first snowfall treasures.

Meteor Showers

The Germinid Meteor showers should be in full streak tonight.

I wanted to do something that had no purpose. It didn't have to fit with anything else that I was doing. Something without rules. — Robert Rauschenberg (discussing his multi-media work: 1/4 mile or 2 furlong piece).

Uniquely absorbing

Don't start playing the Demo of Auditorium unless you've got some time to waste.

Jeffery Lewis Video



Sometimes something is just so good, the only thing to do is tell others. Thanks, Bobby!

I think maybe chance works better in a situation like music because music exists over a period of time, and you don't maintain constantly; you can't refer back from one area to another area. — Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008)

wholw


digital rendering by veach st glines — 2008

They think it was a gesture, a protest against abstract expressionism ... or just a pure act of destruction—vandalism ... but, it was poetry. — Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008; discussing his 1953 work: Erased De Kooning Drawing)

The Sacred Book of the Werewolf

The Sacred Book of the Werewolf The Sacred Book of the Werewolf by Victor Pelevin

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
The world works in a mysterious and incomprehensible fashion. Wishing to protect frogs from children's cruelty, adults tell children not to crush them because that will make it rain - and the result is that it rains all summer because the children crush frogs one after another. And sometimes it happens that you try with all your might to explain the truth to someone else, and suddenly you understand it yourself. (pg 316)
...the American film The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen...gathered together all the supermen of the nineteenth century. (There is)...nothing original about it. An economy based on brokerage gives rise to a culture that prefers to resell images and concepts created by others rather than creating new ones. (pgs 11-12)
...if someone says something memorable to us, we almost always repeat it in conversation with other people, regardless of whether what was said was stupid or clever...mind is simply a tennis racket you can use to keep bouncing the conversation from one subject to another for as long as you like. We give people back the ideas and opinions that we have borrowed from them - reflecting them from another angle, giving them a different spin, sending them into a vertical climb.

Let me remark modestly that my simulated thought almost always turns out better than the original... Who serves all these shots? One of the people?...

I'll have to wait until I have a conversation on this subject with some intelligent person. Then we'll see which way I drive the ball. That's the way I've been discovering the truth... (pgs 136-137)

Portland OR — Reasons (#4)

Non-walmartization

A dozen rational reasons to enjoy living in Portland, Oregon: Number four.

There are three Wal-Marts for 2.1 million residents of this city and its two dozen suburbs (the suburbs in Washington don't count because of reason number ten). There are some big-box stores (positioned near the Washington border, again see #10) and of course there are chain stores and chain restaurants and chain fast-food joints...my point is more about the gestalt of the consumer mindset (of which 'only 3 Wal-Marts' is merely the grabber).

The abundance and diversity of: green-grocers, vinyl record shops, cafe's, small businesses, independent stores, boutiques, art galleries, antique malls, vintage/retro-clothing stores, diners, used CD stores, non-franchise restaurants, et cetera — contrasted against the relative paucity of empty store fronts — indicates this consumer mindset is extremely vibrant. The nine-months-out-of-the-year, weekend-craft/art/food/music market is the flagship of this rare but fantastic mindset.


Every time I've moved, my work has changed radically. — Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008)

Review of the working copy: Public Enemies

Got invited to screen a big-budget film scheduled to be released next Spring. It was something I'd never done, so after IMDB'ing keywords on the invitation (1930's gangster film) and coming up with: Public Enemies, directed by Michael Mann, and starring more than a dozen well known actors and actresses (Johnny Depp is Dillinger, Christian Bale is Melvin Purvis), we hastily rsvp'd our acceptance of the invitation.

We arrive 1/2 hour before the time we were told to be there and stood in line for 90 minutes.

It took 30 more minutes to pack the 500+ of us into non-stadium theater seats that were uncomfortable in 1984.

Five more to explain the few things that were yet to be fixed in this working copy (the sound is not finished, some special effects are missing, the sky and colors are not 'punched up' yet, blah blah).

Two hours and fourty minutes later, I'm handed a sheet of paper with questions on it:
  • What was the first thing you thought when the movie was over?
    Fuck, it's hot. I'm glad it's finally over, now all I have to do is get this stupid paper filled out.
  • Did you know before watching this film that Dillinger was shot outside a theater in Chicago?
    Ahh, yeah, This is—like—the fifth movie to re-tread this same ground. But I'm sure there are some sixteen year old fans of Pirates of the Caribbean and The Dark Knight that will learn it next spring.
  • At the beginning of the film did you know that Billy Crudup was J. Edgar Hoover?
    (This makes me think the director knew long before he began filming that Billy wasn't right for the role) I didn't know who he was until someone called him by name; why didn't you get Toby Jones?
  • Rate the following list of actors and the roles they were playing; five is best, one is worst.
    Most got a three. Johnny was sadly, bad, and got a two (I think Robert Downey Jr. would have killed the role). Giovanni Rabisi (only in the film for ten minutes) got the only four.
  • Would you recommend this film to your friends?
    Even if you chop an hour off of this huge turd, I doubt it.
  • What did you think of the ending?
    Besides, "Yay it's finally here?' It was waaay muddled.
  • What were the best things about the film?
    The settings and costumes were accurate and well staged, the shoot-outs and chase scenes were realistic, it hits all the "historically accurate" points that have already been hit before.
  • What were the worst things?
    I saw two earring holes in Dillinger's left earlobe (make-up and continuity both get an F); Stephen Dorff, Leelee Sobieski, Emilie de Ravin, and Lili Taylor, were each in it for about two whole minutes (some didn't even have lines!)—what an amazing waste of talent. The script was awful-terrible: when placing words in people's mouths why not have them say interesting things?
Overall I know that Mr Mann is capable of some good films, like: The Insider, Heat, Manhunter, and Collateral. I also know he's directed some quasi-shite: Miami Vice, Ali and the Keep.

This may be enjoyed by younger viewers who have not seen Warren Oats' Dillinger (1973), or John Tirney's Dillinger (1945), because they adhere to the creed: "if it was made more than ten years ago it's not worth seeing," and they'll be satisfied with mediocre dialog and so-so acting.

There is little to no profanity (weirdly missing), not much blood (just a little), and no nudity in the film (the only sex scene is 15 seconds of Depp and Marion Cotillard, Dillinger's girlfriend, in bed clothed). This must have been intentional in order to get a PG13 rating; the target audience is high schoolers.

I will see it again in 2010, on DVD, because I'm interested to see how much polish that turd gets.

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...dogs begin to smell her...

At times, my mind combines a memory with something happening in the present and I get a mini-eureka moment.

A few nights ago, out with my paramour singing karaoke (yep, guilty pleasure #43) someone with too much of the king of Belgian beers in him, begins a male pop-standard krooner (a song any low-voice can belt out at zero-dark-thirty after driving is no longer an option). He sang as I read the screen over his head:

When the dogs do find her
Got time, time, to wait for tomorrow
To find it - to find it - to find it
When the dogs do find her
Got time, time, to wait for tomorrow
To find it... to find it... to find it

Where ya going for tomorrow?
Where ya going with that mask I found?
And I feel, and I feel
When the dogs begin to smell her
Will she smell alone?

And I recall assisting on a death investigation decades ago, in Georgia, where a husband murdered his wife, drug her body out into a copse of trees behind their housing complex, camouflaged it with a small quantity of leaves and twigs, and then continued his daily routines. He called in-laws (this is pre-cellphones) asked to speak with her, informed them she'd left after an argument and would turn up there soon, '...tell her I apologized and she should come home...'.

Kids found the body after a few days. He confessed. Part of the end of his statement is paraphrased here:
I couldn't leave her in the house anymore...the smell was gettin too bad...the dog was always sniffin at the door to the room. ...figure I'd be able to buy me some time if I put her outside.

What were your plans in regard to the time you were buying by putting her outside? (An effective interrogation technique when a pause gets too long: frame a question using previously stated words.)

I wasn't. ...didn't think bout nothin. I need some time to find a plan.

Did you find a plan?

No, you guys showed up before I had a chance to.

[Name] it's been more than a week since then, (another technique: always avoid saying 'since the murder' or 'killing' or even 'death') you went to work, talked with people, all kinds of things; in all that time you didn't come up with any idea of what you were going to do?

Well. I knew I needed to do somethin soon. But I thought I'd have more time.
I learn from wiki, today, that Scott Wieland of Stone Temple Pilots allegedly wrote the lyrics to Plush after reading a San Diego newspaper article about a woman's body in the woods. The song was recorded in 1992. The crime I reference above occurred in 1990.

Is this just another example of nothing new under the sun, or, every idea that can be thought has already been thought? Or, in this case, acted out and said?

The artist's job is to be a witness to his time in history. — Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008)

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NIGHTMARE

This was a first for me. Although I've had a few memorable nightmares as a child and a couple scary dreams as an adult; never something like this:

I wake up (I'm on my back) and look to my right. There is a short boy, maybe seven years old, standing next to the bed; less than three feet away from me. In the darkness, I can clearly see his outline, darker than the white section of wall which separates the darker closet door and the darkest open bathroom doorway. Someone has entered my house, my room, my sleeping personal space without me hearing them...I scream a no-word holler. He freezes (he may have been walking toward the bathroom). I roar again. Trying for maximum volume, maybe I'll scare him away. He winces a little. I shout, "who are you!?" (I'm beginning to sit up). He moves away maybe an inch or two. Louder, again, "who are you!!?" and lunge with both hands for his throat.

I wake up. My pointing fingers have just hit the wall. My eyes feel like they were already open and I sit back on the bed as the thought: 'I just bellowed awfully loud, everyone must be awake,' is buried by the knowledge my voice feels un-strained, in fact, it feels un-used at all. My heart is racing. Not a creature is stirring, not even the cat. My focus centers on the bathroom, where the familiar dim glow of a nightlight incongruously bumps my now-obvious dream memory of 'the darkest doorway'.

That little ghost almost scared the piss out of me—I'll bet my going for his throat gave him a bit of a pause, though.

Portland OR — Reasons (#5)

Get-around-ability

A dozen rational reasons to enjoy living in Portland, Oregon: Number five.

Many cities have some of these effective, "green", and positive transportation qualities, and some have many of them, but only Portland has all:
  • Fully integrated metropolitan-suburban bus system.
  • Major light-rail system connecting many eastern, western, and northern suburbs (growing to the south).
  • Trolley-cars covering the downtown area.
  • Extensive bicycle paths, lanes, and secure parking areas (some covered). A very "bicycle/alternative transportation (alt-trans) friendly" environment.
  • Bicycle racks on the front of most buses and inside all train cars.
  • Laws permitting/promoting alt-trans on most public streets and sidewalks (skateboards, roller-blades, Segways, scooters, etc.).
  • A convenient international airport connected to every transportation system.
  • A huge fair-less downtown zone where all public transportation is free.
  • No sedan chairs and footmen, which is a shame, but there are always bicycle carts downtown (at all hours).
Ideas of...relaxed symmetry have been something—for years—that I've been concerned with because I think that symmetry is a neutral shape as opposed to a form of design. — Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008)

Altruistic Evil

Altruism is defined as a selfless act of kindness. While saying altruistic kindness is rhetorically redundant (like free gift or rhetorical redundancy), the term altruistic evil is an oxymoron, used in an overt attempt to draw attention to the paradox (e.g. cold fire).

The first step is to determine when an act can be labeled as altruistic. When doing so, there is but one hurdle: identifying the elusive absence of self-benefit.

When searching for a perfect example, invariably, Mother Theresa’s name arises. I posit that although her actions were without material gain, she was motivated by a self-imposed duty to her deity and–like any religious zealot’s–her sights were always on receiving an “ultimate reward,” (which the faithful believe is received after death). Altruism was, consequently, not present.

Ten years ago, when Ted Turner made a magnanimous gift of one billion dollars, the term altruism was used. This wasn't altruism. Besides obvious tax benefits, anyone who blares their own horn (at the time, CNN–his own international media company–touted his largess incessantly) clearly intended to profit socially, politically, and historically.

The best example of altruism is a hypothetical one: A non-suicidal atheist, with no life insurance, dives on a grenade to save the lives of the men in his foxhole. Although the atheist’s death is not a requirement, his belief that the grenade is going to detonate is.

Selfishness, commonly used to define the opposite of altruism, is a bland and ineffective term. The best label for committing selfless acts of unkindness is: Altruistic Evil. At first glance, one may think most acts of unkindness are selfless acts. That's untrue. I suspect almost every act of evil is committed with self-gratification as the primary raison d'être.

Suicide bombers, kamikaze pilots (the 11 Sep 01 pilots have joined their ranks), Nazi concentration-camp soldiers, the reverend Jim Jones, Hitler, Pol Pot, The Son of Sam, Jeffery Dahmer, the dude who tossed the aforementioned hand-grenade; whomever one envisions as the embodiment of the antithesis of the insurance-less atheist in the foxhole–their motivations can almost always be labeled: duty, loyalty, greed, self-aggrandizement, or martyrdom.

I qualify this with the addendum that many evil people (possibly, many of those listed above) were irrational or insane and although it may be argued that killing because ‘your neighbor’s German Shepard told you to’ qualifies as selfless–I contend that any action taken to please one’s inner voices qualifies as the ultimate in selfishness...even if one is too much of a snapperhead to recognize the voices are internal.

The best examples of evil altruism are hypothetical: An apolitical atheist adds a lethal poison to the machinery near the beginning of a food supply; without knowing the destination of the food, with no specifically identified targets, and with no chance of being caught. Then, the poisoner never tells anyone. Or... A wallet is found on the ground (no matter if it's empty or contains someone's life savings) and the person who found it, drops it in a dumpster without opening it.

It could be argued that the ‘thrill factor’ is sufficient personal benefit to disqualify these as selfless acts of unkindness. (Possibly a similar thrill of accomplishment which motivates computer-virus designers and their older hacker-cousins.) But, couldn't the grenade-diver's training or conditioning have influenced his decision to "take the biggest-possible-one for the team" be loyalty? And if the three seconds–between diving and boom–was filled with self-pride, then, was it altruistic? Also, is death a viable measuring stick?

To measure altruistic evil you also have to determine intent. Just like loyalty, duty, honor, and martyrdom disqualify ones actions from being altruistic; carelessness, negligence, apathy, and accidental acts lack sufficient malice to qualify as evil.

I realize there is, really, no conclusion to be made here. In fact, as I typed these paragraphs, I came to the conclusion that I have no real point to make. Except this: a word exists that defines an act that, arguably, can not exist. And its opposite, also, seems impossible.
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Harvest Festival


My paramour Pam
a native of this great land
whom I think is grand

I don't give any thanks today.

For non-North American readers: today is a national holiday called Thanksgiving, which many Red-White-and-Blue (read: Republican-Caucasian-and-Bluecollar) citizens celebrate by giving thanks to an invisible creator-deity for bestowing them with the wonderful land on which they have formed a country. When they give thanks, they blithely fail to recognize the uncounted millions of murders and deaths their ancestors committed and orchestrated to "clear the land" of the indigenous people that previously occupied it. When I attempted to discuss this with my mother, she replied, tersely, "I don't choose to think of it in that manner." Way to go mom; way to stick to your ancestors guns. (There's a joke in there.)

The woman I love is of the Tohono O'Odham nation (pronounced: Toe-OH-no OhOh-dAHme). Although I've never been comfortable celebrating many, or most, holidays—especially those usurped by religious nutters (who I call 'prazy folk')—I find the thought of celebrating North American Thanksgiving (or Columbus Day)...both lovingly referred-to in our house as: indigenous death days...like a Brit celebrating US Independence Day, the French celebrating Cinco de Mayo, or an Aboriginal native celebrating Australia Day.

Bottom line: It isn't always a party when the bully wins.

Teachers of children in the United States of America wrote this date on blackboards again and again, and asked the children to memorize it with pride and joy: 1492. The teachers told the children that this was when their continent was discovered by human beings. Actually, millions of human beings were already living full and imaginative lives on the continent in 1492. That was simply the year in which sea pirates began to cheat and rob and kill them. — Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions (1973)
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fortunate fortnight


digital rendering by veach st glines — 2008

Portland OR — Reasons (#6)

Bookstores

A dozen rational reasons to enjoy living in Portland, Oregon: Number six.

A conducive climate exists here, literally and figuratively, for a proliferation of bookstores. The desire to escape the dreary autumn-thru-winter weather—inside a book—has given rise to a plethora of new and used bookstores. The best and favorite are the Powell's stores, of which there are at least five (the largest of which covers a city block x 4 stories tall). Also, there are dozens of specialty stores (used paperbacks, comics, etc.), a few national chains (Borders, B. Dalton), and a wonderful library system.

Are we foolish to be so elated by books in an age of movies and television? Not in the least, for our ability to read, when combined with libraries...makes us the freest of women and men - and children. — Kurt Vonnegut, Palm Sunday (1999)


Jobs

Following in the footsteps of Mr Allen—of Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons—who enjoys Vonnegut and (accordingly) has, maybe, the best esoteric name for a personal-blog (with Shouting to hear the echoes, still, the best in the non-esoterica category *wink*), I provide my list of jobs:
  • St Johns Elementary - brooms, buffers, mops, toilet brushes, and incinerator duty.
  • Peru Country Club - cart/club rental and cleaning, pro shop sales, spying on the lifeguard in the red one-piece, listening to the radio, stealing orange soda all day and playing in the evening for free.
  • Peru Animal Hospital - assist with surgeries, clean runs and cages, clean everything, learn not to use abrasive cleaner on metal, gain insight into: I may not want to become a veterinarian.
  • Essex Wire (weekend midnight shift) - injection mold presses (hot and boring), cardboard box construction; learn to despise: solely-for-a-paycheck jobs and the zombies who've done them for so-long they hate any spark of intelligence (brains!).
  • Mississinewa Lake State Park - lawn mowers, tractors (learn to drive a stick), garbage truck detail, public-park latrine duty, paint brushes, chain saw, back hoe, weed-eaters, poison ivy; "Lefty" Graf's obsession with road-side cleanup.
  • The Chocolate Factory - sandwich preparation, ice cream cones, robbed by a con artist; learn to despise: retail food service jobs, juvenile employees (all of them) and customers (all of them).
  • Milwaukee Metal Products - brake-press operator (bending metal); erase any doubt about how to become a zombie.
  • McKinley Marina - fee collection boat ramp, gas-jockey on a pier, security guard.
  • infantryman - clean (everything is always dirty), type, drive, run (a lot), exercise, set up/tear down equipment, practice to use large killing machines (some of the machines themselves are large; some are small but the killing is large), practice to use equipment to protect from getting killed (large and small); learn to unequivocally despise every aspect of being a soldier (bar none).
  • militarypoliceman - clean, type, drive (sometimes, really fast), run (less), exercise, give traffic citations, supervise some fucknuts, break-up fights, investigate petty dumbass-soldier crimes, practice using killing machines (one-on-one sized), practice using equipment to protect from getting killed (also small), help a small handful of people who needed it; learn there's too much soldier-stuff in MP-stuff.
  • bodyguard - type, drive (rarely, really fast), run (again, little less), help babysit a couple of overprivilaged grown adults and reinforce their pampered lifestyle; learn to despise snobs and elitists—even while protecting them from harm.
  • criminal investigator - type, drive (mostly slow), run (much less), supervise some good people (and, still, some fucknuts), investigate serious felonies/deaths/thefts, incarcerate hundreds of bad to very-bad people, help thousands of people who needed it; learn "this bed's just right".
  • artist - pens, inks, paper, canvas, brushes, computer screen & mouse, paint, giclee prints; learn peace of mind is blissful and the flow of creating gives me peace of mind.
  • (updated Jun 2012)  newspaper carrier - insert, load, drive (very slow), bag, throw; groundhog day never ends; realize the depths I will go to pay bills/stay with the one I love.  

Synecdoche, New York = must see


Charlie Kaufman has just become one of my favorite directors.

The writer of such wonderfully bizarre films as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (which he also produced) and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind has now accomplished a filmic-feat with very few peers: Synecdoche, New York — a work of existentialist art which transcends all accurate description.

You could read any two-dozen of these articles on MQRE about it and still be unprepared for the complex, phenomenal, accomplishments of Philip Seymour Hoffman (whom I suspect will win an Oscar), Samantha Morton, and Emily Watson.

If you are not highly entertained by films which challenge your thought processes, this film is not for you. Since Kaufman wrote, directed, and produced (his first in the director's chair) it is more complex, more convoluted and more cram-filled with metaphor and allegory than his previous films. Think Adaptation (one of his) meets American Spendor, with the intimacy of Requiem for a Dream and the humor of Being John Malkovich (also, one of his).
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Portland OR — Reasons (#7)

Voting Simplicity

A dozen rational reasons to enjoy living in Portland, Oregon:
Number seven

Step one: register to vote (like in every state).
Step two: receive ballot in the mail along with booklets detailing all propositions (including pro/con arguments)...about two weeks before election day.
Step three: fill ballot out.
Step four: seal ballot in your preprinted security envelope, sign outside of envelope, and place it inside another envelope.
Step three: mail ballot; or drive to polling station and drop it off at a drive-thru (and save the cost of a stamp); or if you have questions or need assistance you can take it inside and vote in a booth. I mailed mine. This is the easiest, most comfortable way to vote. I can't understand why every state doesn't have this capability.

True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country. — Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007)

Why do you live there?

Most people rarely contemplate the place they call HOME—even less question it. Many people move away from someone else, while others move to be with a loved one. We are transferred by our employers (members of the military expect it). We move to attend university and when obtaining a new job. Retirees move to live closer to their children or grandchildren. Elderly move to warmer climates. Recreational vehicle residents pick-up and go because they can do it fast and the weather is nicer in that direction. Gamblers relocate to where it's legal. Farmers flee to get the seeds out of their bones. Victims of cataclysms depart because they've got no homes. Homeless vagrants jump-town because the police don't know them there, yet. Upgrade-moves are made when more elbowroom can be afforded; downgrade-moves, when that space is no longer needed. The world moves to The City because they have a need to be crushed, in a good way; and leave once they realize getting crushed—even voluntarilycan be unpleasant. Porn stars gravitate toward the San Fernando Valley, white supremacists to Idaho, and bicycle enthusiasts move to Portland (platinum rated since 2003 by LAB).

Many people never move. Ever. They were born in the same hospital as their momma, went to school seven blocks over, graduated, got married, and their children were born there too. They still are friends with the same people they pushed down at recess. They drive out of their neighborhood, but only to the nearest market. And they say, "A one-hour drive?..there better be front-row seats."

Why do you live where you do? Do you aspire to move like Catherine? Have you always loved your environs? If not, where do you want to move?


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Portland OR — Reasons (#8)

Art Theaters

A dozen rational reasons to enjoy living in Portland, Oregon: Number eight.

Cinema 21,
Bagdad Theater & pub, Hollywood Theater, Living room Theater, Laurelhurst Theater, Clinton Street Theater, Mission Theater & Pub, St. John's Theater & Pub—that's eight art theaters. There are also several dozen cinemaplexes throughout the greater PDX-metro area (some devote an occasional screen to foreign/art-house films, one seems to dedicate half of it's screens on a constant basis to art & inde films).

...I want to stay as close on the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center ... big, undreamed-of things—the people on the edge see them first. — Kurt Vonnegut, Player Piano (1952)

Portland OR — Reasons (#9)

Urban Boundary Lines (UBL)

A dozen rational reasons to enjoy living in Portland, Oregon: Number nine

Decades ago, urban planners passed laws to control 'urban sprawl' by drawing lines around cities and prohibiting all re-zoning outside the UBL. When communities can't expand, they become denser. The down sides: flag lots and urban row houses. The up sides: when you drive out of the city, the country shows up quickly. Farmers on the outskirts (who would have sold to developers if they could) now sell land to mini-agri-businesses, farm co-ops, and small independent farmers (the direct result of which is almost year-round availability of fresh foods at several fantastic Farmers Markets).

I can't think in terms of boundaries. Those imaginary lines are as unreal to me as elves and pixies. I can't believe that they mark the end or the beginning of anything of real concern to the human soul. Virtues and vices, pleasures and pains cross boundaries at will. — Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night (1961)

Portland OR — Reasons (#10)

No Sales Tax

A dozen rational reasons to enjoy living in Portland, Oregon: Number ten

Oregon is not unique in its lack of a sales tax; other states have none as well. I find it to be a refreshing new-experience to go to the checkout counter and pay exactly the sticker price (especially when the sticker price is large). After living here a while, it may fade into a forgotten bonus, but a quick reminder is always available: shop a few miles north in Washington.

New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become. — Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions (1973)

Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar

Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes by Thomas Cathcart


My review


rating: 4 of 5 stars

Philosophy has interested me for deades, but I—unfortunately—have gotten lost in other authors' need to impress their peers. This book is for the everyman. It makes this esoteric subject readable, and, more importantly, understandable.

As an example of 'inductive logic' (reasoning from specific instances to a general conclusion, that is broader than what can logically inferred from the instances):

A man is driving down the road.
A woman is driving up the same road.
They pass each other.
The woman yells out her window, "Pig!"
The man shouts back, "Bitch!"
The man rounds the next curve, crashes into a huge pig in the middle of the road, and dies.

The "funny" here, is the man used 'inductive logic'. He reasoned that every time a woman has called him a 'pig' in the past, was because she was negatively describing his character; therefore he concluded that this woman must be doing the same, and called her a 'bitch'. His 'crashing into a pig' proves that his logic was faulty and that what has always come before is not proof of what will come in the future.

Previous Reviews

greypopcorn

dig rend
digital rendering by veach st glines — 2008

As you know, it isn't enough for a reader to pick up the little symbols from a page with his eyes ... Once we get those symbols inside our heads and in the proper order, then we must clothe them in gloom or joy or apathy, in love or hate, in anger or peacefulness, or however the author intended them to be clothed. In order to be good readers, we must even recognize irony—which is when a writer says one thing and really means another, contradicting himself in what he believes to be a beguiling cause. — Kurt Vonnegut, Palm Sunday (1981)

Electoral College Opinion

Thank you, veterans. I am one, know many still serving and many more who once served. My thoughts are with you as I write:

I, like most, have been vaguely aware of our Electoral College system since a long-ago High School American History class (about the same time I learned we bought Alaska from the former USSR on the cheap). Since then, I have propped-up my end of several conversations by parroting some long-forgotten opinion-maker who must have decried loud enough for me to take note that: 'our antiquated system smothers the popular vote'. It was an effective way to pretend to have more intelligence than I held title to; everyone sounds more passionate riding a strong negative opinion.

Today I ask: why are so many people (who may not even understand the system, and the reasons behind it) against our electoral college?

The framers of our constitution certainly knew why a nation-wide popular vote was impractical. They were aware that we humans are supremely ignorant people. We (the royal we) are: too easily led; too stupid to be trusted with our own self-preservation; and should never, never, never, be given something as valuable and important as electing a president without oversight. Thus, we elect a group of intelligentsia-esque politicos who, in turn, elect the president and vice president. They provide a much-needed buffer by injecting careful and calm deliberation into the process of selecting the most qualified candidate. (I thank them for their future service every time the phrase 'Palin 2016' leaves the lips of some talking-supermodel-esque-head, whom I watch in HD but hope-dies-a-painful-videotaped-death for even forming the thought.)

The members of the electoral college are nothing more than judges; judging before the new president and vice president take over the Executive Branch of the US government. They are tasked with deciding for us, when we may be too stupid for our own good (please feel free to supplant the word 'stupid' with the word 'religious' as needed).

We (or, at least the Californian-we) needed an 'electoral college buffer' in place, when voting on Proposition 8. If they only had a group of people, smarter than the average stupid-fucknut (feel free: 'stupid-fucknut'/'religious-fucknut') then we would not be witnessing a reversal of civil rights. But...I guess there is a group of intelligentsia in place, isn't there?—and they are called California State Supreme Court Judges. Who will now need to do, after the fact, what the mentally infirm majority of Californian voters were incapable of doing: enforce equality under the law on the majority of stupid-haters who follow without question (the purest definition of 'stupid-belief') a few vaingloriously bigoted stupid-leaders.

Other states, as choc-a-bloc full of stupid-hating fucknuts as they are, will be force-guided away from their bigotry some day too. As will the entire country. Someday we will see a Federal Constitutional Amendment that will force equality in every aspect of 'sexual orientation' including the right of same-sex couples to bind themselves legally in a ceremony (which will last about 50% of the time). And, someday we will elect an openly gay US President.

This prophecy doesn't sound as hollow as it once would; does it?

As a retired member of the US Armed Forces, I served to protect the rights of Americans. Does that sentence require "all" in front of "Americans"? I protected against hatred and bigotry maybe MORE than criminal activity and physical harm. One positive thing: our ever-present 'enemy within' (unforgivably stupid, hate-filled American citizens) are eroding. Slowly. Much too slowly for me at times.

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Non-Required Reading 2008

The Best American Non-required Reading 2008 (Best American Nonrequired Reading) The Best American Non-required Reading 2008 by Dave Eggers


My review


rating: 4 of 5 stars

A wonderful collection of articles, graphic shorts, lists, and blog posts, both fiction and non. Although I did not read everything, I greatly enjoyed: Steven King's short (Ayana - Paris Review); George Saunder's article (Bill Clinton, Public Citizen - GQ) informed me; Gene Weingarten's article (Pearl's Before Breakfast - The Washington Post) made me think about stopping and smelling the roses; and the excerpt from the graphic novel The Three Paradoxes by Paul Hornschemeier made me want to read the rest of it.

Previous Reviews

Portland OR — Reasons (#11)

Full Service Gasoline

A dozen rational reasons to enjoy living in Portland, Oregon: Number eleven

Self-service gasoline stations are illegal. In Oregon, all gasoline stations must either be mini- or full-service. At mini-service, they only pump gas. At full, they clean your windshield, check your fluid(s) and tire pressure, if needed. Mini = no tip. Full = tipping is suggested depending on the amount of added service provided (beyond pumping gas). It's wonderful to stay seated, out of the weather, and never get gas on your hands. This law also prevents environmental accidents (from fluid spills) and results in thousands of minimum-wage jobs (Oregon's minimum wage is $7.95).

We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial. And like so many addicts about to face cold turkey, our leaders are now committing violent crimes to get what little is left of what we are hooked on. — Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country (2005)

Film Review: W.

This inconsequential film would never have been released if it were not our current president's last daze in office. However, I suspect Oliver Stone knows he is our era's D.W. Griffin, and this film will insidiously become the primary way that our future youth (and our future-future great-grandparents) will view G.W. Bush.

A high-school freshman told me, recently, that his history teacher showed the film Good Night, and Good Luck to his class when teaching about McCarthyism (I was off by a few years when I predicted this); one of the episodes of the TV mini-series John Adams (when teaching about the early formation of our government and constitution); and one of the episodes of 30 Days (when teaching about tolerance). Is it too much of a leap to suggest Oliver Stone is aware of this trend? This film may be rooted in some truths, but most of the subdued dialogue is fiction, drawn from supposition. I'll bet this film will be shown to the eighth-grade history classes of 2025 (if not much sooner), when teaching about foolishly ignorant US Presidents.

Portland OR — Reasons (#12)

Strippers

A dozen rational reasons to enjoy living in Portland, Oregon: Number twelve.

In many other states and cities zoning restrictions relegate strip-clubs to industrial areas or push them outside of their city limits. In some places laws prevent either the sale or consumption of alcohol (or both); and most states limit the amount of nudity permitted. None of that is true here. Exotic dance has a attained a ‘protected’ or at least an ‘un-restricted’ status, in Oregon.

Here, there are a large number of venues in most, if not all, suburbs and city neighborhoods. There are no restrictions on alcohol relative to lack-of-undress (full nude + full bar = full house). To top it all off, cover charges are reasonable, and some have excellent restaurants. I feel less like the dirty-old-man-that-I-am when I can walk across a decent parking lot at happy hour, and enter a respectable establishment where a double-sawbuck will get me: dinner, drinks, and a half-dozen disrobed damsels (all of whom get at least a dollar).

A plausible mission of artists is to make people appreciate being alive at least a little bit. — Kurt Vonnegut, Timequake (1997)

Breakfast

Breakfast
digital rendering by veach st glines — 2008

The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something. — Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country (2005)

Thank You, Voters

I want to thank those of you who voted, stood in lines, voted for the first time (or first time in a long time). My opinion of my country has improved today. Thank you, again. I haven't smiled this much on a voting day in . . . maybe never.

1511 Days Until . . .?

           On December 21st, 2012, the entire world is supposed to change in a manner that will come to the attention of every single inhabitant—from the most elegant giant squid jetting thru its December feeding-range off the west coast of Australia, to the world’s lowliest of life forms (e.g. this cum-stain).   Most have heard the murmurings; if not, let these murmurs of mine be your first murmurs.  Whether written: 21-12-12 (like most of the world does) or 12-21-12 (like the US does) the symmetry makes it sound like a different shade of Y2K, which always failed to pass the kindergarten End of World Common-sense Test (The world ends on 1 Jan 2000.  Oh...why?   Because of the three zeros.)

          A while ago, some foolish 2012 information blip-blapped across my bookstore surveillance radar—and then the dust jacket brandished several large and interesting weapons of mass destruction, which thwarted my skepticism shield.  So, after reading 2012 Apocalypse: an Investigation into Civilization's End, my interest became bolstered (in a, sort-of, willing-to-pay-a-NOT-nominal-fee-to-see-a-real-live-monster-in-some favorite locale, kind of way).  So, I delved a little deeper and read 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl.

          I learned (if I may distill over 400 rambling pages of a famously-drug-addicted author's words into a few paragraphs) there is only one reason to believe life on the earth will change (most authors don't use the word 'end', I suspect it to be Al Capone's Vault-effect driven) on the day of the winter solstice in the year 2012.  That reason is the conjunction of two things:  an ancient Mayan calendar's "prediction" (of sorts) and a astronomical alignment "re-discovered" by modern scientists.  (I would have used the words 'coincidental conjunction' in the last sentence, but I didn't want to use two words beginning with the same two letters together; that, and the word 'coincidental' shades things a bit pessimistically...so I didn't use it).

          The Mayan 'prediction':  The ancient Maya were amazing astronomers and mathematicians; and they were calendar-fuckin-superstars. They knew—twenty-five hundred years ago—about the earth's precession.  Without getting too didactic, the Earth wobbles a little, as it spins.  This wobble takes about 26,000 years to complete one full circuit.  Although it's not difficult to see the earth rotate on it's axis by watching one of the pole stars, observing—even today—that the axial-spot in the night sky makes a small, 26,000-year-long circle is complicated and difficult.

          How the ancient Maya measured, observed, and computed this wobble is not knowable.  (Me, I suspect time-travelers from our future cocked-up and left a telescope connected to a solar-powered laptop.)  What is known is that the ancient Mayans incorporated this 26,000 year "cycle" into one of their calendars.  And, they did not start this calendar on a specific date (like...oh...I don't know...the death of some arbitrary fucknut).  Instead, they began their long calendar at some very distant point (relative to humans as a whole, and the Mayan's specifically) in the past and ended it on ... you got it ... 21 December 2012.  I will repeat, here, at the risk of redundancy, the calendar ends; not the world.  The 22nd of December, 2012, is day numbero uno on the next 26,000-year long calendar.

          The 're-discovered' astronomical alignment:  On the winter solstice of 2012, the earth will supposedly cross the center of the Milky Way galaxy's galactic plane.  I delved a bit deeper, read Maya Cosmogenesis 2012: The True Meaning of the Maya Calendar End-Date, got brain-bent stuck, and quit delving.  I was attempting to determine how it was possible to measure the earth's crossing (which is actually the entire solar system's crossing) of the exact center of our galactic plane.  Hell, I would have been happy if I could have learned how the exact center of the galactic plane was determined.  I think it may be like Parisians claiming the spot in front of the Notre Dame is the exact center of the world.

          Here's the gist:  picture our solar system as a speck of dirt about 2/3 of the way out from the center of a massive, sunny-side up, egg.  As the sun spirals around the galaxy-center, it oscillates relative to the galactic plane.  Which means, that every million years or less, our speck of dirt moves in an wobbly-arc from the "bottom" of the egg (nearest the skillet), thru the egg white, to the "top" of the egg (where you can see it, and pick it off).   On the winter solstice of 2012, our solar system ends a long arc and begins another...by crossing the galactic center.

          How did the Mayans know of this million-year oscillation (if they did)?  Maybe they picked (our) 22nd of December, 2012, as the first day of their new 26,000-year calendar, for their own bizarre, heart-felt, reasons.  We can never know.  Maybe we are just guilty of ascribing the first synchronistic anomaly that comes along every once in 800,000 years, to their foresight (because we love a good Armageddon story).  If the entire world is going to 'change' in a little over four years, I'm looking forward to it.  Eagerly.  Here! Here! to the day 0.0.0.0.1!