Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Goodbye, Kitty
Five months ago today, on March 31, we pumped Sammy full of poison, putting my precious kitty out of his aged misery. This month, August, he would have turned nineteen years old, though we don't know the exact date of his birth. He was only six weeks old when we got him in October of 1986; he was so tiny as his little claws dug into my mom's old puffy gray parka, the first time I ever saw him. He was communal property of the whole family, but I named him Sam on the ride back to our house in our now long-gone 1979 Oldsmobile stationwagon. Later, his full name would be determined as Samuel Bubbles Sink Cat Wilson. In my youth, I named most of my possessions after myself, the most notable and hilarious example being a large hard plastic shark I named Michael Patrick Donut Shark.

Until I left for college, feeding Sam as one of my chores, but we weren't especially close. He was a bastard. I loved him, but he wasn't a cuddly kind of cat. My brother and sister and I always said that the blackness of Sammy's heart was revealed by the fact that he only liked to snuggle on our father's lap. Sam, whose fur was white with gray patches, was the great white hunter. When he first started going outside, we had rabbits living under our deck. Shortly thereafter, we didn't have rabbits. We had mice behind the garage. Then we didn't have mice. He killed shrews and birds and brought them to the back door as offerings. He always liked to eat grass, though he would inevitably throw up later, leaving the undigested blades in a puddle of liquid on the kitchen floor or the family room carpet. He was so aggressive that as soon as he was old enough he had him declawed, even his rear paws. Even so he picked fights with every cat in the neighborhood, almost all of whom were bigger than him (he was incredibly slender, no matter how much we fed him), and almost always won. They'd limp away and he'd return to the house with a fully intact coat of fur. The Mountain was the youngest and for a very long time the smallest of us kids; so, Sam bit him the most. Visitors always tried to pet the cute kitty and many got bit for their trouble; we tried to warn people, but they wouldn't believe us until after Sam struck.

He was neutered as soon as he was old enough, but that didn't stop him from having a long-time romance with the Mountain's fuzzy slippers. I learned about sex by asking why he was always mounting the slippers and ramming his pelvis into them.

By the time I returned home, Sammy was an old, old kitty. He still wanted to go outside all the time, but eventually we realized that though his spirit was willing, his flesh was too weak to cut it out there in the rough-and-tumble world of the backyard. He and I spent a lot of time together and it soon became the most natural feeling I the world for him to jump up on my lap and try to steal my cheese. Aftyer I'd quickly devour it, he's settle down on my legs and fall asleep. It was a good relationship. I didn't want to disturb him and he didn't want me to leave the plush green chair in front of the living room TV. Slowly but surely his advanced years started to wear on him; first he developed a heart murmur and then his kidneys started to shut down. His muscle mass disappeared, making his slender frame seem gaunt, despite a diet of veterinarian-recommended diet of high-calorie kitten food and medicinal food for his kidneys. One day he just laid down and didn't get back up again, not really. He could stand, but he was unable to raise his head. His neck muscles were too weak. He'd always hated his carrier; so, I gently laid him in an open-topped cardboard box lined with towels and Mom and I drove him to the vet's. He died as soon as the poison hit his veins, a sign of how close to death he'd already been, the doctor told us. Three of my four grandparents are dead, but I haven't cried like that any other time in my life. Water flowed from my eyes as if from a hose and my whole body shuddered. Thank Bog Mom drove, because I never would have gotten home alive; I couldn't see through the tears. April 2005 was the worst month of my entire life.

I loved Sammy more than I've loved all but a handful of people in my whole life, my family included. Goodbye, Sammy, I love you.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Great White Hype
A moment ago I was attempting to access my Yahoo! email account and an advertisement caught my eye. It was an American Express ad featuring the text "Have you seen Andy's mojo?" next to Andy Roddick's mug. You mean the Andy Roddick whose ass I watched get kicked on television tonight? The very same. Roddick lost to a chump no one has even heard of (no offense, Gilles Muller, and congratulations on your well-earned victory), and he's American Express's poster boy. Roger Federer is the undisputed master of men's tennis and yet he's nowhere to be seen. Yes, he's Swiss and Lord knows I hate the Swiss, but let's give the man his due. Thinking about Andy "All Show and No Go" Roddick and Roger "I Have a Stupid Haircut" Federer, I'm reminded of the moment in the pilot episode of Sports Night in which Natalie explains the inspirational story of fictional African marathon runner Intizaki Nelson to a suit from the network who responds, "Isn't there a twenty-two year-old American we can talk about?" (Paraphrased.)

I hate Roger Federer for the simple fact that he's Swiss and I hate Switzerland, but he is the best player in the world in his sport. Isn't that what sports is supposed to be about, who's the bext player, not who's the best looking American who used to date teenie-bopper singer/actresses?
Mmmmm, Hommus
I drove down to Ann Arbor this morning and had lunch with the Sardine at Jerusalem Garden. Our waitress had a mustache, or at least she had more hair between her upper lip and nose than do most women and non-mustachioed men. After she had taken our order, Sardine remarked that she was cute; I replied, "Nah, she has a mustache." The Sardine then chastised me for being mean. How does that work? The waitress had a mustache! Sardine didn't deny that the waitress had a mustache; so, what exactly did I do that was mean? I didn't call her Mustache Girl to her face, I merely remarked, in response to the Sardine's appraisal of the waitress's physical appearance, that she had a mustache. I called a spade a spade. If someone called me fat I wouldn't accuss them of being mean, I'd say that they have a masterful command of the obvious. I am fat. Our waitress at Jerusalem Garden had a mustache. When did speaking the truth about someone become mean?

Also, I really have to commend the Michigan Department of Transportation for their fine efforts at rendering US-23 completely impassable between Flint and Ann Arbor. Well done!
Science! Fucking awesome.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Vote For Kodos - Back Into the Fray
There are many reasonable people of good conscience would vehemently oppose the war in Iraq. Bereaved mother Cindy Sheehan is not among them. A pair of choice quotes from "Mother Sheehan": "We have no constitution. We're the only country with no checks and balances. We want our country back if we have to impeach George Bush down to the person who picks up the dog shit in Washington. Let George Bush send his two little party animals to die in Iraq." Sheehan is so distressed by the death of her son that the only way for her to find a little peace is for Barbara and Jenna Buch to die, too? Something about that sentiment seems quite odd and more than a little bloodthirsty to me.

And: "America has been killing people on this continent since is was started. This country is not worth dying for." I would humbly submit that her late son, may he rest in peace, who volunteered for the Army, disagreed with the last part.

Nixon in China
Hyperlink. In Israeli politics, most of the prime ministers are former generals, from the late Yitzhak Rabin (Labour), may he rest in peace, to Ehud Barak (Labour) to the current PM Ariel Sharon (Likud). But even so, just as only Nixon, the consumate Red-baiter, could go to China, only Sharon, architect of the settler movement, could dismantle the Gaza and West Bank settlements.

The Peacemakers
Anwar Sadat was assassinated by Egyptian Islamic Jihad (today, EIJ has been folded into al Qaeda; Dr. Zawahiri, al Qaeda's no. 2 man, was the leader of EIJ). Was he killed because of internal repression within Egypt or because he'd signed the Camp David Accoreds with Israel? Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a right-wing Israeli terrorist because of the farcical Olso Accords with the Palestine Liberation Organization (subsuquently reorganized as the astoundingly corrupt and inept Palestinan Authority). One begins to wonder is Arafat was unwilling to make peace with the Israelis, the thus keep his own people poor and benighted, because or a fanatical hatred of all Jews or simply because he didn't want Hamas and/or Hizbollah to kill him. Hmmm. In either case, let us hope that Abu Mazan is made of sterner stuff.
Advice for Living
If you are a twenty-six year-old virgin, avoid reading Paul Feig's brutal and brilliant Superstud: Or How I Became a 24-Year-Old Virgin. If you're a normal, well-adjusted person, by all means read Superstud as Paul Feig is a splendid and discerning writer. Hi, my name is Mike and I'm a eunuch.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Steeze just sent me mp3s of two RCY songs, "The Cowboy, the Indian, and the Cyborg" and "Teddy's First Night in the Drunk Tank." Awesome! I cannot wait until we record CODENAME: Koala.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Death of a Thousand Cuts
The message from the staff has been received loud and clear: they hate "Summer Reading" issues of The Newsletter and are entirely unwilling to participate them. Not one of them came out and told me that, no one objected when I informed them of the suymmer schedule, including two "Summer Reading" issues, they just failed to submit any material for "SR." Okedoke, there will NEVER be another "Summer Reading" issue of The Newsletter, not as long as I live and breath. I don't care if Zooey Deschanel asked me to bring it back*, that ship has sailed. The reasonable thing to do would be to accept the failure of "Summer Reading," allow myself to feel both disappointment and regret, and move on to the next issue.

Instead, I decided to kill The Newsletter. I put more time and energy (and yes, as long as we're talking about it, money) into The Newsletter than the rest of the staff combined. They don't have the right to be disinterested in "Summer Reading." "SR" has been a part of The Newsletter since Volume III, the summer of 2002, our first summer; "SR" isn't just another occasional feature, to my mind it is an integral part of The Newsletter. I do 90% of the work for The Newsletter: I send out the submission schedule, I gather the submissions, I mock up the issues, I produce the Xeroxes, I address the envelopes, I seal and stamp the envelopes, I do all of the grunt work... and I write at least as much if not more than anyone else. If I'm going to do all that work, is it really too much to ask to set the parameters for the blasted thing? Apparently so, because those ungrateful bastards hate "Summer Reading." Who are they to decide what will and won't constitute The Newsletter?

But I know myself well enough to know I don't have the chuzpah to kill The Newsletter, not in one fell swoop. My dedication to spite is not that strong, and I hate myself for it. My only redemption lies in that my heart is black enough to kill The Newsletter by inches. I will end it through a concerted policy of malign neglect. It is not my intention to boast (too late?), but The Newsletter cannot long survive without me, without my enthusiasm. Now someone else can be the cheerleader. Someone else can be the idea man. I'm done trying to improve The Newsletter. I'm on autopilot, just like everyone else. I care exactly as little as they do.

I wonder how long The Newsletter will last without a heart. I'm going to be devastated when it finally ends, but no one ever said being spiteful would be easy.

*This is clearly a lie, since we all know that if I ever actually met Zooey Deschanel I'd be putty in her hands.
Hi, gang. This has not been the best summer for the Secret Base, mostly my fault as I attribute the lack of a burning desire to write to my own laziness, but in my defense I believe I have traveled more this summer than in any other similar period. My third trip to upstate New York was put together on the fly, but we must remember that it was preceeded by two distinct trips to upstate New York and only my second ever journey to the Left Coast. On Sunday, I spend a unexpected three horus in Virginia (at Dulles); so, if effect it's almost as if I went to visit The L.A.W., too. The summer will close as it began, with me on the road, helping Cap'n Malice move from one apartment to another in the same complex. (How do I get myself into these things?) On Memorial Day I remembered the previous year's nearly identical trip and on Labor Day I will work as a pack mule. The Last Summer of Star Wars has not been what I expected, but that is not all bad. Now that I'm going to be home on a consistent basis for the first time in a month and a half, I'll finally bloggy blog like I used to. First up, the last two and a half days of "L.A. Story," followed by "Team Bachelor: Reed's Wedding" and "Team Bachelor: Booth's Wedding."

The Mountain of Love left for Ann Arbor about an hour ago, going back "home" after his third and probably last summer at the Seagle Music Colony. Next summer: Glimmerglass? My thoughts are jumping all over the place, I should wrap this up. Today was a good day. I didn't see Skeeter before she left for New York, but I spent the whole day with the Mountain, some time this afternoon with The Guy, and my brother and I saw Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith for my thirteenth time and his third. A good day indeed.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Soon, I shall be departing for this summer's third trip to the wilds of upstate New York. I really, really don't feel like going back, but the Mountain needs my help. What choice do I have? At least I'll get to drive all the way from fucking Cooperstown, New York to good ol' Ann Arbor, Michigan by myself, and you know I've been itching for a long solo drive. It won't be strictly solo since I (piloting The Last Angry Van) will be caravaning with the Mountain of Love in his new car (tentative name: the Senator's Daughter), but still, I'll be alone in the car for hours and hours and hours.

Wish me luck as I contemplate whether or not to kill The Newsletter through the death of a thousand cuts.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Despite all my complaining, the news is awesome!
"Will you please hold my hand?
I can't, I'm independent!
I want to be your man
You can't, I'm independent!

I'll call you the phone
You can't, I'm independent!
Let me know when you're home
I can't, I'm independent!"
--The Forces of Evil, "Independent" from Friend or Foe?

My Time Among the Vampires
This afternoon, proving that television advertisements really are quite effective, I donated blood at the American Red Cross downtown. It's been far too long since I last donated; Wednesday evening, I saw an ARC ad warning of a grave blood shortage and, damn it, I did my duty as a semi-concerned citizen and dialed 1-800-GIVE-LIFE.

The health questionaire asked about the possibility of having contracted Creuzfeldt-Jakob Disease, the human form of mad cow, from spending time in Europe between 1980 and 1996. I just really like looking at the word Creuzfeldt.

Above my head were ceiling tiles painted by local high school students. One bore a large peace sign and the words "Peace Ya'll." I had never before encountered a misspelling of the word y'all. Fascinating. Another bore a lovely American flag (with fifty-five stars) and the words "God Bless America" in letters of alternating red, white, and blue. From little kids, okay, I'll accept any old number of stars; I suppose I should just be happy there were the proper thirteen stripes. I found myself wondering what those five states of a future United States might be. Cuba? Manitoba? England?

Mid-donation, the lady who had inserted the needle into my arm swapped jobs with a ham-handed guy sporting a mustache. Ham-handed, you ask? When he was withdrawing the needle from my arm, I heard him say "Whoops," which is among the last things you desire to hear when a needle is being extracted from one of your veins. And the needle hole seemed to bleed more profusely than usual. Thus, ham-handed. But, my arm has yet to turn black; so, I think I'll be okay.

Holy Mother Church and the Twelve Tribes
I've very glad that His Holiness Pope Benedict has visited the synagogue in Cologne. Hyperlink. The Catholic Church has centuries of official anti-Semitism for which to atone, and I'm not sure God will ever be able to forgive us for our collective inaction during the Holocaust. But, since while most Poles hated the Nazi occupation they were more than willing to aid in the extermination of their Jewish countrymen, it is fitting that a Polish pope was the first to even visit a synagogue. And it is most appropriate for a German pope, in his youth a reluctant inductee into the Hitler Youth, to be the second.

A Pole and a German: symbolic dynamite. May God forgive us both for what we did and, perhaps more importantly, for what we failed to do.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Feel free to light my pants on fire, becuase there isn't going to be an "L.A. Story" post today. I know, I know, I'm a big fat fucking liar mere days after complaining about being labeled a big fat fucking liar. But, as I said in that very post, I have told my fair share of tall tales. "Come on, liar man, weave your web."

I shan't bore you with the details, but it is a damn shame that today is the only time in the history of the universe that it will ever be August 18, A.D. 2005. Something so precious and unique shouldn't have been marred by so much crumminess.

But, at least I did see Revenge of the Sith as planned. The Guy is absolutely right, it does get better each time, amazingly enough. Wow. Again, from the very depths of my soul, thank you so much, Mr. Lucas.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Tomorrow, I'm going to the cheapy theater to see Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith! At only two bucks a pop, I may go see it every day as long as it's there! Hooray for the Last Summer of Star Wars!

More "L.A. Story" tomorrow, I promise. I've got to get that monkey off my back.

Monday, August 15, 2005

So, I've decided to finally get the BTW logo tattooed on my left forearm in October. I decided to get the tattoo years ago, and have now completed the mandatory "six months of certainty" waiting period several times over, I've just never committed to a date. I still haven't pinned down a specific date, but it will happen sometime between October 1st and All Saints Day. In theory, you should try to expose a tattoo to as little light as possible; solar radiation breaks down the inks, leading to fading. This isn't really an issue with the skull-and-crossbones on my right forearm since it is a pretty simple design and only one color, black. Even if it fades, it won't be a big deal to have someone go over it with more black. The BTW monkey logo isn't terribly complicated, but it's still more intricate and more colorful than the skull-and-crossbones. My hope is that by having it done in October it won't be exposed to nearly as much sun in its first few months as was the skull, which I got on May 10, 2002. Now, do I want to have it done at the same parlour as the skull-and-crossbones or find a new place? As I've said, I'm very happy with my first tattoo; so, in all probability I'll return to S & C Tattooing in Ann Arbor for the second.

Deception and Deceivers
On the last day of July, I drove to Jackson to see the Michigan Shakespeare Festival's production of Twelfth Night, a play revolving around a woman disguised as a man and her unrequited love for her master, a nobleman. The woman acts as an intermediary between her master and a local lady, to whom the master is a suitor. It's both funny and quite touching. I was accompanied by an online acquaintance, the Friendster Girl; knowing she is a theatrical actor, I invited her on a whim. It was the first time we had actually met, but we'd been exchanging emails for several months and we able to maintain a lively conversation about a number of topics. And then the oddest thing happen: she called me a liar.

Now, make no mistake, I have told my fair share of tall tales; so, in certain contexts I might rightly be called a liar. And I have, in a phrase of which I am perhaps overly fond, an adversarial relationship with the truth. But for all that, it's not like I walk around with my pants perpetually on fire. I had given the Friendster Girl no reason to call me a liar, yet that's what she did. Not in so many words, but I told her of my nigh-legendary resistance to inebriation, and she said flat out that she did not believe me. If she does not believe to be true that which I insist to be true, she is calling me a liar, yes? Now, just wait one cotton-pickin' second, lady, where do you get off calling me a liar? Were you there on any of the nights when I gave inebriation the old college try? Have you seen the lists of what I imbibed? Have you even seen me take a single drink, let alone down eight Guinnesses in three hours? In answer to the last three questions, no, no, and no.

So, I'm done with her. My time is too precious to squander it trying to convince virtual strangers of the veracity of the facts of my life. I've deleted all the emails we exchanged and removed her from my list of friends at both Friendster and MySpace. This was not a romantic angle I was working, this was just someone who had initiated contact with me out of the blue. If nothing else, I suppose this incident has reaffirmed my suspicions about the sort of people who contact strangers online. Call me a liar, will you?

Sunday, August 14, 2005

VJ Day
Sixty years ago today (because Japan is on the far side of the International Date Line and therefore half a day ahead of us here in the Eastern Time Zone; so, there it is already August 15), the air, sea, and land forces of the Empire of Japan unconditionally surrendered to the Allies. The surrender ended a war that had been going on in one form or another since 1931, had engulfed large swaths of Asia and the entire Pacific Ocean, and had cost untold millions of lives. The swastika had been torn down months earlier, but only in August was the war finally, finally over.

The Second World War claimed more lives than any other conflict in history. That truly global slaughter ended sixty years ago today. The very least we owe our honored dead is to remember.
Condi Rice sez, "You're a loser!"
So, for the second consecutive year my score on the Foreign Service Written Examination was insuffcient to allow me to advance to the Foreign Service Oral Assessment. The principle frustration is that the results are only presented in pass/fail format. I have no idea how I did relative to last year, nor if I am on the cusp of advancing or just embarrassing myself.

Worse, though, has been my mother's reaction. She is acting like my life is over, as if my worth in this world is determined solely by my inability to pass the FSWE. Judging by her demeanor, I might as well taking up drinking as a serious hobby and register for food stamps. Thanks a lot, Mom, and fuck you. She sez she has confidence in me, but the lie of this is betrayed whenever there is the slightest set-back. If you think I'm a loser, just say it to my face. Don't pretend that you're proud of me and then act as if the world is ending every time any little thing goes wrong. Thanks for having such faith in me, Mother.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Friday, August 12, 2005

L.A. Story
Thursday, July 21
On Thursday morning, I awoke to find the Professor preparing to leave for his lab. The important thing here is, the Professor has a lab! (And I got to see it on Saturday!) Around noon, Steeze, the Belle, and I drove to Santa Monica. We dropped her off at the aquarium where she has an internship and got the nickel tour. it's a tiny littel aqaurium right on the beach that pimarily caters to school groups. Man, kids have to love that place. Science! Because she only had to work for a few hours, Steeze and I decided to tool around instead of returning to BTWest.

We stopped of lunch at El Cholo and our waitress freaked out over my T-shirt (it reads: "The Aquabats! The Last Great American Band"). Apparently, she was herself a fan of The Aquabats!, though oddly enough she didn't know that they are still together. Truly a shame, since they do more touring in SoCal than anywhere else and had she applied herself she probably could have seen a quite a few times over the past few years. We continued driving around Santa Monica and Steeze pointed out all the post-production and editing service companies located there. Yeah, based on the exteriors they all could have housed accounts and loan adjusters. We drove around Hollywood, and as we passed Paramount, the only movie studio still in Hollywood proper, I mourned the recent death of Star Trek.

Fun fact about Hollywood: if you want to use the w.c. in any of the fast food restaurants, you first have to buy something. The doors all sport elaborate locks and only paying customers receive the magic token to gain entrance. Despite these precaustions, the walls are still covered in grafitti. The only difference from Michigan? The grafitti is in Spanish!

We picked up the Belle and drove to the house where she is officially staying this summer, though in practice she lives at BTWest. She picked up a few items and told her sponsors she'd be back after the weekend and then we returned to BTWest. The only thing I truly hated about LA was the traffic on the freeways. And not even really the traffic, but the resignation with which everyone faces it. I am well aware of the blood pressure-raising futility of getting angry at traffic congestion, but fucking come on, people! Going 35 miles per hour on an expressway is unacceptable, yet my compaions all seemed grateful that we weren't at a complete standstill. Yes, traveling at 35 mph is much better than not moving at all, but what the fuck ever happened to standards?

Steeze and I did some brainstorming about Serma 6, a comic book idea he's been working on for a year or so, and the Belle did an admirable job concealing her boredom and bemusement at two grown men trying to figure out the motivations of fictional teenagers on an alien planet. After the Professor returing home (from the lab!), he and I discovered Kofi Annan's blog. The secretary-general's quite a weird guy.

We ordered pizza for dinner (I keep mentioning where we ate not because I'm obsessed with food, but because we really didn't do many touristy things; so, restaurants are the prinicple places I went outside of BTWest) and spent most of the night playing Risk. I rolled very poorly; so, I don't want to talk about it.

Friday, July 22
The day of The Island! I journeyed to California so that I could see the Professor and K. Steeze, but the timing of the trip was determined by the premiere of the movie The Island, on which Steeze worked as a post-production assistant. Still, we had plenty of day to utilitze before the evening's festivities.

Again, I woke up when the Professor was going off to work, but this morning that did not mean I was up before Steeze and the Belle of Texas. The left to drop Steeze's car, the Pirate Boat 2000, off at the shop to have it's air conditioning system repaired. As I was still groggy, I decided to stay home. It was kind of weird beign on a completely foreign apratment all by myself, but I took the opportunity to take a shower, shoot some pictures, and write in my journal.

Shortly after they returned (all the driving we had done to this point had been in the Belle's as yet unnamed car), we headed off to Home Despot to commence a new art project, Three Doors Down: Circle, Stripe, Sock. Originally, it was titled Three Doors Down. When Steeze showed me the design, three separate illustrations to be hung side by side by side, I instictively labeled them "Circle", "Stripe", and "Sock" just so I would know about which one we were speaking at a given time. Steeze found this hilarious, so Circle, Stripe, Sock was added to the title.

BTWest is a sadly stereotypical adult apartment; I won't lie, I'm disappointed in Kevin and Jon. Neither one has a single decoration in his bedroom, and precious little light. It's a loft and so there are only four rooms: foyer/kitchen/main room; two bedrooms, one of which they built themselves (quite impressive, that); and a water closet. They've painted the main room quite a fetching shade of maroonish red and it has adequate light (though more would be better), but their bedrooms? I go back and forth between creepy and just plain sad. The one decoration in the main room is a series of twelve small canvases arranged four across and three high, painted in the pattern of a gray rectangle surrounded by a white border. In typically glorious BTW fashion, it is titled The Deconstruction of Western Civilization as We Don't Know It and I am rather fond of it.

But now I am off to eat dinner, and after that it's Sci Fi Friday; so, Friday shall be concluded another time. Next time on "L.A. Story": the Triumph of the Narwhal!
Rest in Peace, Mr. Jennings
I am a frequent if monotonous critic of American journalism; so, my sentimental reaction to Peter Jennings's death may catch a few of you off guard. But I loved the man. Yes, in recent years I've rolled my eyes at many of his turns of phrase, but I never, ever stopped watching. I grew up watching Peter Jennings, and ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings has been a nightly ritual in my house as far back as I can remember. Even when he made his, as it turned out, goodbye speech a few months ago and told the world he had the cancer, I always believed he'd be back. I can't believe I'll never watch Peter Jennings anchor another newscast. Jim Lehrer and his creepy eyes may appeal to my intellectual thirst for news, but it was Peter Jennings with whom I felt truly comfortable, and though I am loath to repeat such an inarticulate phrase, I just can't believe he's gone.

Thank you for a lovely half hour every night, sir, you will be greatly and genuinely missed.

Perchance to Dream
All the Holocaust movies I've been watching are starting to get to me. This morning, I had a dream in which I was a Jewish European during the Second World War. I think I was in one of the wartime ghettos, not one of the death camps, but you know how dreams are, details are always sketchy. Nothing really happened, but I felt a profound desire to be anywhere but where I was. Not a dream I wish to repeat.

The Power of $hazam!
I did something very odd on Wednesday. I bought Shazam! no. 1, a comic book from 1973. I own a few other random comics from the '70s, but they are all torn and tattered and were bought on a whim for $1 each. This book was in reasonably good shape and I paid significantly more than $1, approximately $19 in fact. I'm very disturbed with what this might mean. I am not now nor do I ever wish to be "a collector." (No offense, Neutral Man, but your obsessions frighten me.) I don't want to pay outrageous sums for rare comics or other flotsam. I don't want to painstakingly preserve my books for posterity. I buy comics to read the stories! I have been reading comics for five years and to this point, and Bog help me, forever more, I still do not bag and board my books. They just sit naked in their boxes, smushed together, each already being corroded by the oils from my hands when I, Heaven forbid, read the damn things. And I don't want that to change!

For all the inherent danger of becoming that lowest of creatures, the collector, I think Wednesday's purchase was okay. a) I really like Captain Marvel, the star of Shazam! b) Perhaps more importantly, I bought the book on a whim. I was staring at "Flint's #1 Wall of #1's" in Comic Relief waiting for the proprietor to hand me this week's pulls, when I saw it. Wow, Shazam! no. 1, Captain Marvel's first appearance in the DC Universe and first official publication since 1953. Neat. Then, like Homer Simpson when he realized he could afford Tom Landry's hat, I realized that if it wasn't too unreasonably priced, I might be able to afford it. So, I asked the friendly proprietor how much for that puppy in the window, found the deal to my liking, and engaged in a little of the old capitalism. And c) I think the fact that I even bothered to enumberate reasons a and b is a good sign that I'm still quite a ways from acquiring a climate-controlled safe and referring to its contents as my Precious.

Keep an eye on my, though, okay? Wilsons go crazy as they age; so, be vigilant.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

On the Road
Traverse City, Michigan - camping, Memorial Day weekend
Schroon Lake, New York - the Mountain of Love at the Seagle Music Colony
Los Angeles, California - BTWest
Syracuse, New York - Reed's wedding

Bay City, Michigan - Booth's wedding

Plus, to Ann Arbor for Neutral Man's farewell and to Jackson for Twelfth Night. No wonder I've fallen behind in giving my comics a second read before filing them away.

Also, while I still like Sarah Vowell, the next time she mentions Indians in one of her essays, I'm going to scream.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

L.A. Story
Wednesday, July 20
Man, I really really really hope Northwest Airlines goes out of business. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. If anyone wanted to kill me, it would be extraordinarily easy as I am extreme creature of habit. After a pleasant drive to Metro, I parked, as is my custom, at U.S. Park and took the shuttle to the fancy pants Northwest Terminal. Normally, I fly Orange County Air; so, woo hoo, this was the big leagues. I felt bad that I didn't tip the driver, but I didn't have naything smaller than a ten. Sorry, ma'am.

I breezed through security and that's when all my troubles began. My boarding pass very clearly read "Gate A66." Okedoke, I hopped ont he tram and rode up to the north station. As soon as I stepped off the tram, a voice came over the loudspeakers, "Attention Northwest... blah blah blah." My gate had been changed from A66 to A12. Okay, I can handle that. I'm not happy about it, but into every life a little rain must fall. But then the voice said, "Check your boarding pass." Lisaten, motherfuckers, I checked my Bog damned boarding pass, I'm looking at it right fucking now, and it very clearly fucking reads Gate A66, not Gate motherfucking A12. I can deal with the gate change, but to then say that I should check my boarding pass is to imply that I've made a mistake, which at that point I hadn't. Northwest decided to blame me and my fellow passengers for their mistake. Shiteaters.

Injury added to insult, once I finally got on the plane I was in the middle "bitch" seat, not the window I'd booked. Fortunately, there was only one other person with me in the very last row; so, she took the window, her assigned seat, and I sat on the aisle. And of course we lifted off exactly sixty-five minutes after our scheduled departure. And of course airlines don't serve food anymore, nto even on transcontinental flights, though they will sell you a crummy snack pack for a king's ransom. Next time, I'm flying El Al. I hear they still take service seriously.

We had to have made fairly good time, because we landed only forty minutes behind schedule and to have made up twenty-five minutes on a four and a half hour flight isn't bad. At LAX, I walked right past K. Steeze, the Professor, and the Belle of Texas. I vaguely registered a cute brunette off to my left, but had to do a double take before I realized I'd seen that face before and, man alive, she was flanked by my fellow Blue Tree Whackers. We had a nice laugh about my obliviousness and then went gentle into that good night. (The lady at the Detroit check-in counter had made fun of my old, battered bags, but once in LAX I had zero trouble spotting them on the conveyor belt. As always. Fuck you, lady, and have a nice day.)

We drove past a neat, ultramodern restaurant that the Professor had for the past several years assumed was the control tower (even thought it is flanked by taller structures) and made a bee line for the In & Out Burger. Let me say first that the In & Out Burger is my kind of place; the portions are large and greasy, the decor and employee uniforms are delightfully retro, and best of all it's cheap. That said, the name In & Out Burger is wickedly misleading. In last 2oth/early 21st century American English, the phrase "in & out" implies celerity. Like, you pull up to the bank and say, "I'm just need to use the ATM. I'll be in and out." Quick. Technically, every time you use a building you're emabarking upon an "in & out" transaction, otherwise you'd still be inside that building. So, I'm not out of line saying that the name In & Out Burger clearly implies that you'll get in and out with relative speed. Such is not actually the case.

Still, like I always said, it is my kind of place and I had enough fries to make my feel slightly sick. We drove to BTWest, a loft in a converted factory, the boys showed me the Risk board they had stuck to the the underside of their glass dining table with putty, and as both the Professor and the Belle had work in the morning (he had work, her job is a volunteer internship) we all went to bed. Or rather, I went to couch. Or rather, I went to love seat. Being taller than the love seat was long, I slept in a mostly upright position with my feet sticky up into the air off the other end. Hardly comfortable, but such are the thrills of travel.

The Professor offered me his bed, but even I am not so boorish a guest as to turn my host out of his own bed.

[I also wrote up the events of Thursday, July 21, but as I tried to post them, the fine fuckers at Blogger informed my that the service was unavailable due to "scheduled maintenance." Nice of them to let the rest of us in on their schedule. As always, I hope every single motherfucker at the Blogger division of Google bleeds from his eyes every day of his wretched life from now until death.]

Next time on "L.A. Story": Thursday. (Before Blogger fucked us all over, that would have read, "The Triumph of the Narwhal.")

Monday, August 8, 2005

The Return of the Secret Base
On the one hand, in the last month I have done, by my standards, quite a bit of traveling. I've driven through the fabled Canadas to the boondocks of upstate New York, taken advantage of Wilber and Orville Wright's hard work all the way to and from the Left Coast, and then traversed anew the Great White North on the way to a thriving metropolis in upstate New York. In my travels, I have seen a goodly percentage of my friends, all of whom I do not see as often as I might prefer. I've also taken a few daytrips throughout my beloved Great Lakes State. These treks have had a negative influence on this blog, the Secret Base of the Rebel Black Dot Society, of which I remain the sole member. Or perhaps the travel is just an excuse (the Syracuse excuse?). I tend to think not, but truly that is neither here nor there. In the recent past, this blog has not been all I have wished it to be, and I dedicate myself to righting the course. Coming attractions:

"L.A. Story" - a full recounting of my second journey to the Bear Republic.

"The Adventures of Team Bachelor" - all the festivities and misadventures of the wedding in Syracuse

The best is yet to come. Or at least I hope so. If what came before was the best... wow. And not the good kind of wow. No, not at all.

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

"You told me no,
Said you loved me, though,
You have to go your own way.
You change your mind,
You know where to find... me,
I'll be around."
--Duvall, "I'll Be Around" from Volume & Density
Live on TV, I'm watching a man walk in space. What a time to be alive.

Pug Uglies
The most efficient means of luring the Pug Uglies back into their cage is baiting. For half a bone-shaped biscuit, they'll run - not walk - to their cage and stand just inside the threshold. I give each his treat and then close and seal the cage, where they will remain for the next several hours. The last few visits, they seem to have lost most interest in running around the house for a few minutes and instead want to cut straight to the chase. Okay, fine by me, but you guys to realize this means you have to spend even more time inthe cage, right? Alas, I'm not sure their little canine minds are capable of delaying gratification for even a few moments. They want a biscuit and they want it now! Consequences (what's a consequence?) be damned.

And now back to bed for an hour!

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Is there any movie that couldn't be improved by the presence of Sean Bean?

Pug Uglies
The key to caring for small dogs is bribery. Tyson and Patrick don't like their cage, but bribe them with half a Milkbone each and they run into their box with the celerity of bats flying out of Hell. I'm also taking care of Mac, a Cairn terrier. (Like Toto!) Those three little dog-monsters have done much to overcome my prejudice against filthy dog-monsters, but I remain convinced that I shall never myself own a dog-monster. Back in the day, when we took weekend trips we'd leave out two or three bowls of dry food and three or four bowls of water and lo and behold, three days later Sam would be just as fit and unhospitable as he was at our departure. The dog-monsters require almost constant care. Like old people. And boy howdy do I hate old people. Nevertheless, I forgive the dog-monsters this transgression because they are so monstrously adorable. Especially Tyson, whose eyes point in different directions. He's googly-eyed!

L.A. Story
The first and most important thing to know about my trip is that I traveled 2,000 miles to play five games of Risk and help teach the Belle of Texas to play euchre. I saw neither the Hollywood sign nor the LaBrea Tar Pits. But I did assist in the purchase and transport of a 32" x 80" door, which was subsuquently nicknamed "Sock" and painted with an argyle pattern to resemble a pair of Steeze's boxer shorts. And thus was the first third of Three Doors Down completed. And jumpin' Jack Pratt, am I glad I'm not going to be around for the painting of "Circle." "Stripe" should be easy, but there's no way "Circle" won't be an arduous ordeal. Then again, an ordeal that isn't arduous isn't really an ordeal at all, but rather some kind of inconvenience. "Circle" won't be an inconvenience, it will be a nightmare. I really dodged that bullet.

Victory for ZIM!