28 September 2006


Last night was a whirr of words. Armed with only a composition book – the kind with the black and white mottled cover – and a number two pencil, the words piled up one behind another in my head in anticipation of ending up on the page, page after page. I should probably hold back this writing until I have a more polished version, or at least until I actually complete it; it is as yet quite unsure exactly how long this writing will end up being – short story, novella, some other descriptive term with which I am not yet familiar? It would probably be prudent to wait, but today I do not feel particularly prudent, so I shall simply blurt out last night’s writing, unedited for you, dear reader, to read.

It should be noted, though, that “The Process” is merely a working title.


The words don’t matter sometimes, when you’re two-thirds the way through your drink on your corner stool at whatever bar it is you happen to be in tonight. They could be an overheard snippet floated from across the room, a partial score of a game played in some distant city broadcast on one of the innumerable televisions, or an actual “Hello” from a newcomer near or far – the distance doesn’t really matter. They, for that moment, are your words. Though just a simple vocal manifestation, at that moment they are yours; they matter, and for that instant, perhaps, so do you. You briefly perk, listen for what might be an accompanying phrase, a second occurrence to string together into something more, some form of meaning to which you might attach yourself, an entrée, a way in. That is what you look for, you know, a way in. Every time you come here, wherever it is, you know that is what you are looking for. That literal way in through which you make your way every time before the sun even sets is easy to find; Its that other one that seems to elude you tonight, as on those other nights before.

So you look up again, look up and out around the bar, pressing your eyes the few or the many who are there with you on this particular evening. They may or may not notice it; they may sense the pressure of your gaze, that sad little exertion you effort as though by the force of your will to make more of the accidental co-occupation. They may or they may not, but if they do they make an excellent show of not letting on. It is not that they turn away, avert their eyes just as you do when you encounter the teenage girl asking for spare change on the street corner. No, they simply go about their business of social enjoyment or their own isolation that so closely parallels your own. Once again your eyes have failed at their task, have fallen short of reaching across that space, so you, once more, look back down at that drink you’re two-thirds the way through and wait to begin the cycle anew.

It isn’t very hard to stop coming here; of course – to borrow from some public service announcement or another – you could stop any day, right now, in fact. You could get up right now, walk back out through the entranceway, and go home, but you came here for something, and, anyway, that drink is only two-thirds the way through. So you sit there, feigning indifference, or at least solitude, while every moment that goes by you are keenly aware of your surroundings, of each body in the place, and, most especially, of your own and how you fit – or don’t – within the whole.

That is the problem, after all, your perpetual awareness of the whole. You see it; at times you are pretty sure you understand it; at some point, a while back, you were quite sure you were part of it – of course you still are, but that is an eventuality you would rather not ponder at the moment. But still it sits out there around you at this very moment, in the booths and on the stools, people outwardly and inwardly – whatever that might mean – just like you, but you simply cannot find your way in. In your more nostalgic moments you fancy yourself one of the Pevensies at the tail end of C.S. Lewis’ masterwork. But when you fall along that thought-path you know the night’s search is futile and it is time to pack the expedition up, but it is not yet that time tonight, and that drink still remains only two-thirds the way through.

You have your book – you always have a book – and somehow that is a comfort. You always have something to do, or at least look at, or at the very least appear to look at, and isn’t that, in the end, what matters about your quest, not appear to be looking for anything, least of all a way in. And tonight, as always, as I have already said, you have your book. It is not that you don’t read; these evenings don’t go for nothing. You probably read more than anyone you know – and you travel in a circle of readers. And it isn’t that you just mail it in; you really do read during those times when that book hasn’t been reduced to a prop. You get your fair share of scholarly work done here on your corner stool, but, in the end, you know why that book is there, why you are there – or should I say here – and perhaps tonight’s selection will be just the key you are looking for. Perhaps, but you don’t really expect it. Thus, for the moment, you keep your eyes fixed upon that particular run of words beneath you while, of course, the rest of your body remains closely attuned to the movements of the constellations around you in case your eyes should be needed, once more, to be pressed into action.

At some point, obviously, you drink. The glasses must not remain perpetually two-thirds emptied – that would be a dead give-away. But, it should be know, two-thirds through is the optimal equilibrium for a beverage in this context: more and you ought to be drinking, less and you are obviously nursing, and, as we all know, the guy at the corner of the bar nursing his drink is just pathetic, and that is a label you are not yet willing to accept this early in the course of events. Nonetheless, it is a challenge, one of great intellectual difficulty, to maintain a drink at this optimal level without being too obvious. Certainly you have been known to order a drink, take it with you to the men’s room, tip off a bit into the sink or urinal, and return to your corner stool once again supplied with the ideal cover. But, inevitably, throughout the night, you must drink. Since it has been a while since any significant movement on the behalf of your current companion, you are obliged to partake, and as you fear the label of “nurser” more than just about anything else, you finish one off with a minimum of fuss and set it back down slightly closer to the back edge of the counter top signaling to the expertise of tonight’s bartender that you are ready for another, and along with it another round of consideration as to how to best bring this fresh drink to the golden mean of two-thirds through.

So you read; you’re good at that; you’ve always been good at that, that and math, but that is a skill that fell away – along with other things – in high school. But, for now, you read. It isn’t just that somehow the words come easily to you, though they do; there is something more to the relationship. You would never be so crass as to suppose literary pretensions, nor do you offer yourself the out of a specific sensitivity; it is just that you read. Always have. You conscientiously deny the stereotype of books as a retreat, or worse an escape, but then here you are tonight, reading once more. It is just what you do, so, as the evening’s bartender returns with your recently refilled glass – the same one reused, you notice – you defer the question of why and read.

Unfortunately, you are not a sipper, never have been, probably never will be. In your more Freudian moments you trace it back to the size of your mother’s breasts, but then you know you are indulging yourself in an unhealthy dose of intellectual irony to make yourself feel better. Occasionally you wonder if sippy-cups had been invented by the time of your toddler-hood, but the Google search just seems silly, especially since you know you only drink to get to that point of being two-thirds through, the sooner the better.

It is probably not a coincidence that that is your favorite place in a book. You often have pretensions of telling people that you have several stacks of novels at home all two-thirds finished, but as you cannot leave a book in that state, and to lie about such a thing seems a sacrilege, you never do. But there is something about two-thirds through that holds your interest at some peculiar peak that you are reluctant to let go. Like the drink that was before you a few minutes ago, that novel hovers on the edge of determination, you full of expectancy, which, also like that now replaced beverage, you inevitably polish it off in a single gulp.

You are in the infancy of your relationship with tonight’s book, which you, in a self-consciously reflective moment, equate to your fresh drink, only to chastise yourself for such a sophomoric parallelism, which, of course, induces a bout of outward discomfort in fear that someone else around the bar may have sensed this figurative transgression. You snap the book shut, perhaps drawing too much attention to yourself in the relative calm of the moment transpiring around you. Thus, to cover up the uncertainty of this moment, you finally lift the drink to your lips and attempt to hide behind the anonymity of a beverage.

You know it doesn’t work; you know that that snap will cost you for the rest of this night, at least until the congregation changes significantly. You know that you have, by means of that unthinking moment, violated a pact you already exist only at the edge of. Behind your glass you fume at yourself for the lack of restraint. Behind your glass you know you have condemned yourself to at least several more hours in your corner before any of the words will make their way over to your well established partition. You look at the drink in your hand and bemoan its status far from two-thirds through, but realizing the time you shall have to put into this night, now, you hold back and return it to its bar coaster cradle barely altered and go back, once more, to the source of your newly re-enforced position. At least, no matter the state of your drink or your night, you read.

For a while, though you can’t exactly remember when, you thought this was something to be sad about, this process you go through – and it is a process. Others, those few who know about it, have tried to convince you it is some form of ritual, but you know better. This process is important, it must be leading somewhere, otherwise why would you be so dedicated to it. You learned some time ago that it is not sad, is not something to be pitied – you hate when they pity you. It is important. It is leading you somewhere important – again those Pevensies come to mind. It is here on your stool at the corner of the bar – whichever one it is – that you will find the way in. You don’t know why you know this to be true, but you just do. At times you think there is something important about the vantage point, other times you are convinced it is simply a matter of your being in this here at this now that will make the difference, but you know that what you are doing, this process, is important. The details don’t matter so much, which here, what when, but you know that at some time that synchronicity of being two-thirds the way through some evening’s novel will come together with a certain drink two-thirds complete to bring this process to fruition. That is why you are here. Each time you remind yourself that it has nothing to do with any individual member of the set at hand – you are not awaiting the right person, whatever that might mean – you are involved in a larger process, one which will lead, once more, to that elusive whole.

You remind yourself that you are not so deluded that you are looking to make yourself whole with this process, not awaiting some deus ex machina. You are well read enough in post-modern literature and theory to know that that is a myth. You certainly could not live with yourself if that was what you were looking for. There is something larger than a twentieth century ego quest going on here; why else would you expend so much effort in pursuit of the drink two-thirds through? You obviously realize that you have a tendency to verge upon the metaphysical, but that is the risk of the process. You are here for something far more concrete, something, carefully, not to be confused with looking for someone else, but you are, in fact, looking for something. Unfortunately, at this precise moment, both the newly started book and the recently poured drink stand in the way of such considerations and demand some form of attention, one way or another, but, as usual, you are confronted by the problem of which way to direct your efforts.

This, as should be obvious, is a continual problem, straddling a fine equilibrium between what you do here and what they, the rest of them, are doing here. If you could simply sit on your corner stool, perched at attention for it to happen, and ignore the basic necessity of the drink, you would. But that, as any field researcher could tell you, would blow your cover. Thus you spend your time divided, precariously attempting to induce that ideal balance of things two-thirds through.

[To be continued…]

27 September 2006


They just keep on coming...

George W. Bush: The Radio Address Mad Libs.

25 September 2006


Part of the reason, dear reader, I have not been writing here much as of late is that I have been writing other things, in other languages, for other purposes. Along with the impending closing on the new house, a potential move of another sort – more on that later, I am quite sure – this renewed drive toward fluency in multiple programming, scripting, and mark-up languages, may have made it seems that my dedication to you, dear reader, has seemingly waned.

But do not be fooled, you are in my mind – whatever that may be – as much as ever – however much that may have been. Thus, today I offer to you an early fruit of my recent labors of a different sort. Today I give to you the first of a new series – George W. Bush: The Radio Address Mad Libs.

22 September 2006


Sometimes it is difficult to tell just what one ought to write when writing publicly. Does one discuss the remarkable difference that can be made in one’s life by ceasing to see a bad doctor and encountering, on a rainy afternoon, one who actually engages you and then, better yet, helps to develop a meaningful course of action? Does one write about the novelty of whistling in the morning on the way to a computer science class? Or would this be crossing a line to the personal? Should I wonder if there is someone out there who should not know such things?

These questions, I must admit, are difficult for me. As an artist I have spent much of my career mining through my experiences to find points of departure for larger dialogues, but in the scope of the art world that is somehow safe, and at times expected – ah for all those essays I have read over the years declaring some distillation of Self as the essence of art. Here though, in this form that awkwardly straddles that fuzzy demarcation between the public and the private, I am uncertain. Here I strain for the ambiguous phrasing and veiled implication, forms that are not natural to me in my artistic practice where I tend to bury the subtleties beneath an avalanche of overloaded signification.

There are so many parts of one’s life that venture forth into wider circumstances, that allow, foster, or even demand broader consideration and/or speculation, that may attempt to divest themselves of their originary conditions to become part of a more general discourse, but yet they perpetually remain themselves, and, as such, must carefully approach that public/private barrier and come to a self-determination as to where they shall forever reside.

But how does one decide what to say, what to hint at, what to leave unsaid, simply between the lines, and what to omit entirely? Indeed, how does one discuss events later that same day that draw one to sit on a couch and placate oneself with a plate of Hob Nobs and a mug full of Irish Breakfast tea? Is this a condition of writing that it must be either public or private in order to speak of these things, in order to speak at all? But I want to speak of these things, to you dear reader, but do not know how. Our relationship still remains so uncertain – can I trust you? Are you really listening? Do you actually care? Or, perhaps more to the point, do I care if you do, in fact, care?

We do not know each other, yet I am writing for you and you have taken these moments to read of me, or, better yet, to read me. I do not want to tell you about my day – you are a stranger to me – but I wish to speak to you of the ebb and flow of comfort and trepidation. The problem is that I do not yet know how to do so in this liminal space that we, together, occupy.

Hence, I must perhaps reconcile myself to leave these things unsaid, to let them settle into irresolution. If only I could trust you, dear unknown reader, or if I could, indeed, trust myself, today would find its way to one side or another, reconcile itself to be shared or closely embraced, but for the moment neither set of language seems adequate, and today – like this writing – shall have to [for the time being ] remain, like myself, in between.

19 September 2006


September 7, 2006
President Bush Discusses Progress in the Global War on Terror

(Applause.) (Applause.)


(Applause.) (Applause.) (Applause.)

(Applause.) (Applause.) (Applause.) (Applause.)


(Applause.) (Applause.)

At my direction, the National Security Agency created the Terrorist Surveillance Program. (Applause.)


By the summer of 2001, intelligence about a possible terrorist attack was increasing. The top priority is to protect the American people from terrorist attack. (Applause.) The Terrorist Prevention Act, called the Patriot Act.




We've killed al Qaeda's most visible and aggressive leader to emerge after 9/11, the terrorist Zarqawi in Iraq. (Applause.) The terrorists disagree. (Applause.)

** Text generated by the Microsoft Word Auto-Summarize tool from the transcript at www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/09/20060907-2.html


September 4, 2006
President Bush Honors American Work Force on Labor Day

(Laughter.) (Applause.)

Michael, thanks for inviting family members. We want people working. (Applause.)

I like it when people are working for a living, have more after-tax money in their pocket. (Laughter.) (Laughter.) It means people are working here in the United States. (Applause.)

(Laughter.) (Laughter.) (Applause.)

Nuclear power is safe; nuclear power is clean; and nuclear power is renewable. See, we got 5 percent of the world's people here in the United States, which means 95 percent are potential customers. (Applause.) (Applause.)


** Text generated by the Microsoft Word Auto-Summarize tool from the transcript at www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/09/20060904.html


August 28, 2006
President Bush Discusses Gulf Coast Recovery

(Applause.) (Applause.) (Applause.) (Applause.) (Applause.) Thanks for coming (Applause.) (Applause.) (Applause.)

Thank you for your work. People opened their homes to help the suffering. I said we have a duty to help the local people recover and rebuild. (Applause.)

We understand people hear about help and wonder where it is. (Applause.)

The people in Mississippi are prepared. (Applause.)

We'll help you. (Applause.)

(Applause.) We want to help. The people want to succeed. (Applause.)

The people of Mississippi understood that well. (Applause.)





Father Roberts is working -- working hard. (Applause.)

(Applause.) (Applause.)


(Applause.) (Applause.)

** Text generated by the Microsoft Word Auto-Summarize tool from the transcript at

August 3, 2006
President Bush Discusses Comprehensive Immigration Reform in Texas

(Applause.) (Applause.)

(Applause.) I also recognized we needed more people to help the Guard and to help the Border Patrol do its job. (Applause.)





(Applause.) (Applause.) (Applause.) First, we've got to secure the border. People are working hard. The job of arresting people is up to the Border Patrol. I know the Border Patrol agents would rather not have people try to sneak across the border. It means, help people learn English, to help people understand the traditions and history of the United States of America.

** Text generated by the Microsoft Word Auto-Summarize tool from the transcript at www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/08/20060803-8.html

18 September 2006


I grow weary of being so disturbed by the world around me, though, to be honest, it is not necessarily the world in its entirety that distresses me so. There is a singular component of that totality that stands out on its own and rarely fails to produce an abiding sense of displeasure somewhere deep inside me, a presence that possesses that certain je ne sais quoi which causes the tiny hairs on the back of my neck to bristle. If you have not guessed already – based perhaps on your past experiences here, dear reader – I am speaking of us, homo sapiens, humanity, that is, people.

You may well wonder what has caused me to finally reach this point of exhaustion; surely the species provides endless fodder for dismay. Heck, didn’t I just write of my outrage over Devo 2.0? What now?

This distress I feel is of a distinctly different nature than the outrage over what we produce. I have come to terms with the fact that we, as a species, have a remarkable knack for outputting crap – just look around, perhaps go to a mall or look at the paintings on the local coffee shoppe’s walls. No, this is of a different order. This fatigue I feel is attached to the fact that I keep hoping for evidence that the species is not entirely prone to stupidity. I do not wish to impugn you dear reader – that is the problem of talking of a species, one must risk generalizations that are quite untrue. I assume you, along with many of the people I know and consider my friends, are among the bright ones, those that are capable of cogent thought and meaningful communication. Unfortunately, you are not running the show, or, more to the immediate point, you are not a candidate for the United States Senate in Virginia.

Yes, dear reader, I am beginning, admittedly slowly, a political rant, a tirade, if you will, predicated upon yesterday’s airing of Meet the Press:

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Allen, you, too, have gotten in trouble with words that you’ve uttered. Let me bring you back to August 11th. You were at a campaign stop, and a young man who was videotaping it for the Webb campaign was there also. Let’s watch.

RUSSERT: Critics say that “macaca” is a racist slur, and that you used it because he was dark-skinned. What did you specifically mean when you said, “Welcome to America and the real Virginia”? Why did you use those words toward a dark-skinned American?

SEN. ALLEN: Tim, I made a mistake. I said things thoughtlessly. I’ve apologized for it, as well I should. But there was no racial or ethnic intent to slur anyone. If I had any idea that, that that word, and to some people in some parts of the world, world, was an insult, I would never do it, because it’s contrary to what I believe and who I am.

MR. RUSSERT: Well, where’d the word come from? It must’ve been in your consciousness.

SEN. ALLEN: Oh, it’s just made up.

MR. RUSSERT: Made up?

SEN. ALLEN: Just made up. Made-up word.

MR. RUSSERT: You’d never heard it before?

SEN. ALLEN: Never heard it before.

I do not mean to rehash old ground here; the whole macaca thing speaks for itself. George Allen is an ass; I already knew that [for evidence of this please observe his political career]. It is not the original infraction that causes my current distress, but his explanation. Let us put aside the implausibility of his claim that his “made-up word” just happened to be an established racial slur. My own personal hackles were set off by Senator Allen’s attempt at a linguistic defense, his assertion that since he just made the word up it obviously could not have been meant in any derogatory way, that since his purportedly new creation did not have any natural or intrinsic relationship to negativity, his overt attempt to other the young man as foreign, different, and somehow less than a part of his “real Virginia” was not racist, that since his word – unlike every other word in human language? – was made-up it had no meaning whatsoever, that it was a purely phonic utterance with – despite the context of a political rally, a bastion of hyper-signification – no meaning at all. This is what has sparked this deep and abiding dismay, this abuse of logic and reason, this assault upon meaning itself. I understand the need for the good Senator – please observe the irony dripping in heavy globules – to distance himself from his gaff, but please, didn’t we all learn that made-up words have meaning the first time we encountered Dr. Seuss?

But, though I am perfectly happy to spend hours outlining the manifold ways in which George Allen is a rat-bastard, this current horror is not limited to the Republican senator. No, unfortunately his Democratic opponent is equally guilty of linguistic violations, or at least significant breaches of locutionary decency:
MR. RUSSERT: Bottom line, do you now believe that women can, in fact, provide men with combat leadership?

MR. WEBB: Absolutely. Other than that they’re...

MR. RUSSERT: So that’s a change.

MR. WEBB: Well, no, no. What I’m saying is, right now, I believe the situation is where a lot of people wanted it to be back in 1970, 19--9--1980 when people—social experimentation was in place rather than allowing the military to make these decisions.

MR. RUSSERT: But it is 2006. You have not changed your mind at all about women’s ability to lead men?

MR. WEBB: No. I did not say that. I—I’m fully comfortable with women’s ability to lead men.

MR. RUSSERT: So you have changed your mind?

MR. WEBB: What, what, what I’m saying is, in areas like the infantry and the artillery, where—which now remain all-male, I’m comfortable with that, too. And Senator Allen has his own issues on this, by the way. As recently as 2000, saying women didn’t belong in foxholes, and maybe you should ask him about that.

This on top of his previous apology for his comments about women in the military, an apology that consisted of the statement that he was sorry “to the extent my writing caused hardship.” The classic “I am sorry to the extent that you were upset by me shooting you [never mind the bullet lodged in your chest]” defense. So Mr. Webb has changed his mind about being sexist to the extent that he has changed his mind, but has not to the extent that he has not.

The problem is, you see, that the alien or robot overlords have not yet come to save us from ourselves. Or perhaps it is just that we aren’t demanding enough of ourselves. The Senate race in Virginia is, sadly, all too typical. The voters must choose between the racist candidate and a sexist one – and that is just based on what has come out in the press. If that were not enough to cause distress, Sunday’s performance shows that each man is either a moron lacking the basic grasp of how words, sentences, and propositions work, or that both assume that every one of us is a moron lacking the basic grasp of how words, sentences, and propositions work [somehow, my inclination is that both of these conditions is true].

Thus, dear reader, I am distressed; I scan the new awaiting something to spark a glimmer of hope, but oh, wait, what did the Pope just say?

Alas, more dismay…

14 September 2006


Having endured the entirety of Tristan & Isolde in a single sitting, having actually watched each and every one of George W Bush’s State of the Union Addresses including the post-peroration commentary, having actually seen Warrant in concert without resorting to gnawing off one of my own appendages, having actually grown up in the state of New Jersey, having survived a night in a Days Inn in Ocala, Florida while awaiting the repair of my broken down Caddie, having seen all of these things and worse in my relatively short lifetime I thought I knew the visage of evil, but no, I was wrong. I can now say with a reasonable degree of confidence that I have looked into the eyes of evil itself, that I have stared down the worst that the devil himself can bring forth; I have been to the Devo2.0 website.

One might ask, at first, what could be wrong with that? Devo was and still is one of the greatest bands of all time; they are legends of Punk, the progenitors of popular devolution. One could perhaps feel a little trepidation at the “2.0” component of this moniker, but when starting with Devo, how bad could things get? One might go into such an experience with just such a mindset, but that would be wrong. I advise you, dear reader, to feel fear, great and tremendous fear.

Normally I would advise you to simply avoid such an experience altogether, but in this case I cannot do so. I must instead suggest you gird up your loins and venture once more into the breach, dear reader, once more, to then go forward and issue forth your venom – to be joined with mine – against our common foe, the creators of this evil: Disney.

While one might forgive many of the sins perpetrated upon the populous by the Disney Corp over the years – think Pocahontas – this most recent monstrosity is unforgivable, is indeed a horror beyond all others, is a perversion reaching beyond unholy, is, well, just plain wrong.

What I must wonder is who in the world thought a bunch of untalented adolescents doing ill-advised and sanitized versions of Devo songs would be a good idea. Did some mentally defective junior executive watch one too many Target or Swiffer ads – both companies used Devo songs in commercials, carefully attempting to avoid the songs’ condemnations of consumer culture – and exclaim, “Let’s do more of that!”

As I said before, I thought I knew fear, but the first time I heard “Beautiful World” with the new tag line of “It’s a beautiful world for you, and me too,” [breaking from the original alienation of “But not for me”] I saw that something sinister was, indeed, slouching towards Bethlehem.

The temptation is great, dear reader, to vent endless spleen over this, but I shall attempt restraint and beg you to judge this horror for yourself, to face this evil incarnate and then go forth and rain vengeance upon our adversary – or at least join me in great and mighty scorn and mockery, those dual weapons against the perpetrators of such cultural misdeeds.

The only thing I can hope is that Mark Mothersbaugh and the gang all received copious quantities of money in recompense – I’m talking more money than one could shake a stick at – otherwise my fear must turn to shame and the great peril in encountering this foul demon, Devo2.0, was for naught.

10 September 2006


Now that Froggie has been completed – just in time for the wife's birthday tommorrow [everybody wish the wife a happy birthday] – I shall be able to resume writing, but not right now; my eyes are blurry from all of the tiny stitches.

06 September 2006


You may not know this about me yet, dear reader, but I sew. Not the repairing of a torn hem, or the reaffixing of a dislocated button kind of sewing – I am prone to postponing those labors infinitely – nor do I possess the masterful expertise of a fine quilter, but I do sew, an impulse which seems to solely manifest itself in the creation of stuffed animals for the wife’s birthdays.

Meet Oli and Blum [Elephant and Stegosaurus, if you could not tell.]

And now, as the wife’s birthday draws near, I have begun work on this year's offering, a frog, which may or may not include my first foray into appliqué, but, at the moment, that is beside the current point.

As I said, I sew, or better yet, perhaps, I sew badly, or poorly, or whatever the appropriate adverb and/or adjective would be to describe my enjoyment of these moderately effective efforts at using needle and thread to bind bits of fabric to each other. I have never learned to use a sewing machine; no one has ever taught me proper stitching techniques; I am generally unsure whether I am using the proper needle, thread, or fabric to make whatever it is that I am making, but, nonetheless, I sew.

I am not quite sure why I sew; the only other memory I have of sewing comes from an eighth grade home economics class in which I believe I made a pillow of some sort that may or may not have hung together for a week or so. At least I did not have to spend another semester in woodworking with the stereotypically injury-prone shop instructor. And I think learning to sew, to bake a cake, and to produce macaroni and cheese from scratch may have also allowed me to opt out of yet another semester of humiliating attempts to draw anything that remotely resembled the thing it was meant to resemble. Somehow, though, this class also seems to have exempted me from actually learning to sew, which returns me once again to the fact that I sew.

My stitches are inconsistent; they range in scale and often take odd turns at the most inopportune moments. Occasionally the knots I inexpertly tie at the end of my bits of thread come undone causing a half-dozen or so stitches to come unraveled, which leads to a spate of grumbling while pulling out enough of my handiwork to refashion a new knot thus insuring at least a semblance of fixity. At least once a project I attach the wrong side of one thing to the backwards side of another requiring me to start all over from the beginning – which, I must admit dear reader, is probably for the best as it allows me to finally scrap all of the previous minor glitches that had quite invariably come before this final, fatal error.

But, despite all of my shortcomings, I sew – badly, poorly, or however it ought to be classified. I don’t expect to ever grow better at my craft, which I take as a blessing for I fear that if I ever became expert I would somehow no longer wish to continue, that perhaps my awkward color combinations and anatomically inaccurate designs would no longer befit the perfection of my nimble fingers. Thus this sewing remains a rare pleasure for me, intentionally made scarce to ward off the improbable possibility that some day, decades from now, I might, quite by accident I am sure, form an elegant string of stitches.

05 September 2006


You may have noticed, dear reader, that over the past month or so I have not been writing very much. Amidst the relative chaos of the world around me – my immediate surroundings that is, not the larger world in general [don’t even get me started about the world in general (I mean seriously, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, the Republicans, mid-term elections, etc, etc.)] – and the quasi-depression that it has been causing, I seem to have lost my words. Seriously, I seemed to have forgotten how to write. I would try but sentences would not occur; I might come across a jumble of adverbs or a gaggle of participles now and then, but sentences, never. Please don’t ask me to think about the dearth of paragraphs that befell me; in fact I am considering composing a funeral dirge entitled “Alas for the Missing Paragraphs in 3/4 Time” complete with cymbals, tympani, and the wailing of widows in five part harmony.

There seems to have been what I can only describe as an inaudible buzzing in my brain obscuring my attempts to form sentences, paragraphs, and narratives to be transferred to the page, electronic or otherwise. Now I do not wish you to get the wrong idea here; I have not gone crazy or anything remotely close to that. I have not been swatting at the invisible insects that presumedly caused this inaudible buzzing; let us regard this soundless sound as more of a metaphor, a figurative something that stands in for the a certain buffering that seems to have been blocking the flow of words.

As you can see, I struggle to describe this loss of words within which I have been mired. It hasn’t been at all like a writer's block, or at least it has been unlike any incarnation of such a phenomenon that I have previously endured – and I have had many on both verbal and visual fronts. That inaudible buzz is the best way I can represent my inability to write, dear reader, and it has not so much been in my head, but around it, or perhaps just under the surface, interfering with the inward and outward flow of words, not entirely, but just enough of a signal disruption to render sentences – such as this one – unable to form. But that has changed, there is no longer the need for dirges and I may finally let the timpanists, cymbal crashers, and professional wailers return to their normal lives, because I have found my words.

Now, whether this is a good thing or not shall remain to be seen. Now that I have reclaimed my capacity to write I feel free to unleash ungodly grammars upon the world once again, to allow my sentences free range to compensate for the undue imprisonment they have suffered for well nigh a month, to allow my modifiers access to new relationships, to stretch new clauses across unfathomable spaces in galloping rhythms, avalanches of alliterative annunciations, and cavalcades of literary devices too numerous to, well, enumerate.

Thus, perhaps I had ought to pity you dear reader, or at least to have mercy and reign in my newly regained capacity, but only time will tell.*

*Apparently cliché too has returned.

04 September 2006


Sometimes the world is exceedingly dull.

I recognize that this is not a particularly original observation, nor, perhaps, a terribly interesting one, but it is, nonetheless, one that one cannot help but confront when one finds oneself watching the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Association Labor Day Telethon. In fact this may be one of those bellwether moments in one’s life when a person simply must decide between two possible, though not necessarily mutually exclusive, realizations: 1] “I am exceptionally old.” or 2] “I really need to rethink my existence.”

[I am not quite sure why I correlate the watching of the MDA Labor Day Telethon – in fact all telethons – with being extremely old, but since I do not think I have ever observed anyone other than my great-aunts watch a telethon, I am rather sure there is some statistical correlation to be found.]

Anyway. Seeing that I am not, in actuality, extraordinarily old – except, perhaps, to a toddler – I might need to rethink my existence. I am not quite sure what I should be thinking about, seeing that my life, in general, is really quite lovely [see: wife, home, culinary activities, etc…]. But, nonetheless, here I am, sitting in front of the television with eyes obediently following the gesticulations of a man who has failed to be funny since well before I was born. I could chalk it up to some form of ironic mesmerization, but to be honest – if I am indeed capable of such a thing through this identity I seem to be composing here – I cannot invoke that hipster loophole.

No, I am simply sitting here watching Jerry in his tuxedo with his requisite untied bowtie hanging limply in a gesture invoking those long past Rat Pack glory days. I can’t understand why I am watching, in fact it is hurting my poor little head, but still I sit here. I can’t even tell you when it was that while flipping through the channels I made the decision to stop here. It was sometime after lunch, but other than that time has ceased to have any particular relevance. I have become trapped in telethon time, that seemingly eternal temporality that is only marked by the repeated calls for pledges incentivized through gifts designed to appeal to some population I cannot actually imagine existing.

Yet I do not change the channel. [Robert Goulet is currently belting out “The Impossible Dream.”] It hurts – and not that good kind of hurt – but I can’t get away from it. My thumb just won’t flick that button on the remote to make it go away. I can swivel to face the computer and write this, but I cannot let it go from the background; I cannot make it stop. It somehow fills the space of my day, reliably, unchangingly, perhaps a bit oppressively, and that, dear reader, brings me full circle to the proposition that I perhaps need to rethink my existence.

Suggestions are currently being accepted.

03 September 2006


This morning, the wife and I were watching a bit of television – the Sunday morning news shows, as usual. Anyway, as one would expect, one of those nearly perpetual commercials flashed upon the screen. This time it was for Life Alert; you know, the people who brought us that dear old lady who exclaimed those immortal words “Help, I've fallen and I can't get up!” You remember, the half-sister of the “Where’s the Beef” lady, or something like that.

But this morning I learned that I can no longer leave that much-repeated sentence unqualified. In fact I may indeed owe the Life Alert Corporation some fraction of a penny in royalties for using their well-worn slogan. All those years when I heard dear old Selma – or whatever her name was – cry out “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” she was in actuality proffering a subtle variant, one properly designated “Help, I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up®”!

You see, this utterance has also joined the growing panoply of words and phrases to be registered in the service of corporate, commercial, or political practice. Who could ever forget Real® brand products? The wonderful brand that single-handedly rendered all of my purchases – needed or not – unreal and thus a part of a fantasy world which requires no justification [“I bought those blue shoes because they were there, and anyway, they weren’t Real® so it doesn’t really matter!”]

Though perhaps I needn’t worry too much. I must keep in mind – when it comes to fears of dear old Selma, broken hip and all, coming after me for her royalty check – the immeasurable Mental Anguish© and Pain and Suffering™ Fox News went through over Fair and Balanced™. [See Al Franken’s book Lies And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right and the lawsuit Fox News attempted to bring regarding the title of the book.] Maybe the Life Alert Corporation’s grip on this essential human utterance is not quite so strong.

So, perhaps I can still make something real – though that is perhaps a dubious proposition now-a-days [You post-modernists! You blew it up! God… Damn you all to Hell!©] And, if I am lucky, some day I shall indeed be able to fall down somewhere and cry out to an unlistening and uncaring public “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” leaving off the unwanted “®” that I never can figure out quite how to fit into either polite conversation or my hastily constructed cries for help.