Thursday, May 24, 2007

House Painting

Okay, I think I've gotten the "In Which Our Boy" titles out of my system, but, they could resurface at any time.

Don't expect to hear from me this holiday weekend, as I and the Monkey will be at Monkey House Nebraska, putting some new pigment on the interior walls. Prepare for before/after pictures. The color palette will run from enigma to marigold, and if that actually tells you what colors the rooms will be, step away from the paint chips.

We have five rooms to paint, the two of us, primer and multiple coats, but I suspect we will get it all done over the weekend. We have less than a month before the movers come and take all of our stuff, so this will be one more palpable moment that reminds us that our days beside the Big Muddy are numbered.

Every day, I feel different about it. Some days, I feel like: let's hurry the hell up and get out of here, already. Some days I feel like chaining myself to the nearest radiator and screaming, "You'll never take me alive!" But they will take me alive. Most days, anyway, it's something in between. I will depart willingly, if a little melancholically (which I really have always been good at, melancholy, I just haven't practiced it as much as I used to).

This chapter is soon to close. Bring on the next location.

By the way, my contract for my new school arrived in the mail, today. They have the wrong school listed. An omen? No, just a mistake. So, I guess I have to call them and have them send me a new one. Plus, they say they want more transcripts for their files. What's wrong with the ones I sent them in January? Don't they know this screwy university here turns me out for ten bucks every time I request a transcript?

Monday, May 21, 2007

In Which Our Boy Feels Betrayed by Jimmy Carter's Back-pedaling and Lifted by a Hitman With a Conscience

Give it to me straight from the heart
Tell me we can make one more start
You know I'll never go
As long as I know
It's coming straight from the heart
--Bryan Adams, "Straight from the Heart"

I am always a little disappointed when a politician, or anyone in the public eye of any worth (not that politicians are naturally of any worth, but anyway...), says something real, something unrehearsed, something that I think is pretty right on, and then, when some dust up occurs, they soft-sell it, back-pedal, claim they were "misinterpreted." It happens all the time (except in one glaring case, which I will get to in a minute). But, Jimmy Carter's recent "misinterpretation," in which he may have called the current administration the "worst in history," is a big blow to me, since I am an unabashed Jimmy Carter admirer from way back (I'm talking even before I could vote--like 1980 (not a good time for Jimmy, you know)). It hurts me to see a man whom I admire, a man who has single-handedly done more good in his life in the world than every rat-bastard in the halls of the White House today put together, have to kowtow to the Head Honcho. Especially when he's fucking-A right.

And for the White House to call Jimmy Carter "increasingly irrelevant"? They must have been talking about themselves, but then, we know they've been right about so many things in our world, that must be true, too.

By the way, the glaring case of someone who never back-pedals, never soft-sells, who always moves full steam ahead? That's right, the worst president we may have ever had: George W. Bush. January 2009 can not come soon enough, brothers and sisters.

Of course, all of my ire was washed away, as I surfed the virtual pages of to find this little tidbit. There is NOTHING more heart-warming than a "hitman with a heart of gold" story. It makes you think, "Gee, at least some of the people who will kill for money have something good about them." But, doesn't this make you wonder how reliable this hitman is? I mean, sure, he won't shoot a seven-year-old girl in the chest for $2000, but I wouldn't make a deal to buy a car from him. He might not deliver the goods, you know? Then again, maybe he would go through with the car deal, if we can keep his mother out of it.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

In Which Our Boy Returns to Earth and Finds it Populated With Zombies

I'm helpless
I'm flawless
I'm a machine
Give me
I need my toys
--Faith No More, "Zombie Eaters"

This past week in Central Standard was Walk, Bike , and Wheel Week, in which, all citizens of our happy burg were encouraged to use human-propelled modes of transportation in order to move themselves from one point in space to another. It is a celebration with two objectives. The first being to promote healthier lifestyles. After all, it's hard not to be more healthy when you have to depend on your legs and your heart to get you to work to make some money. The second objective is to promote planet-friendlier habits among the citizenry. Fewer cars means fewer emissions. Fewer emissions means healthier air. And so on.

I did participate, and I plan to keep walking and riding for the remainder of the school year (and beyond). Of course, this is a habit I have been trying to instill in myself, off and on, for the last several years, but I hope to make it stick this time. And, with a biking trail conveniently located near my new house and school in Lincoln (which are a mere 4.5 miles apart), I hope to bike daily to and from my new digs in the land of cornhuskers.

I bring this up, because it got me to thinking (again), about the things that cause us, as a nation and a species, to be in the state that we are in. Some of my ideas, which I can only assume are applicable only to these United States, since I have little real knowledge of the economic or sociological constructs of foreign nations, are as follows.

Wal-Mart: Kudos to the Evil Empire for their attempts to green their practices, what with the use of flourescent lightbulbs and such, but, ultimately, they, and the long ago advent of the mall and supermarket (natural progressions of an automoblile-loving society), have made it nearly impossible to even go buy a quart of milk without taking a drive. Consolidating all these sale items (food, clothes, haircuts, etc.) into one place is a boon for the pocketbook, since it makes the items cheaper for the consumer, but, by eliminating the small, neighborhood stores that once handled all of these specialties (the grocery, the barbers, the haberdashery, the record store, etc.), they ensured that we must burn some carbon-based fuel in order to obtain them (and God forbid that we actually ride the bus, or something--not that that eliminates the burning of the fuels, but it lightens the load when twenty-five people get one place on the same molecules, rather than all of them burning their own).

Suburbs: Of course, it has been oft-argued that the suburbs suck the life out of everyone who sets foot in them (see Dawn of the Dead). It has been proposed that they may be responsible for the corruption of the modern youth (see Suburbia). But one thing they certainly did was take us farther away from our places of life and livelihood (unless your idea of life and livelihood is Applebee's (see above)). By the way, in the previous link, note the comment at the end of the linked article, at least : "Applebee's becomes a cultural piece of the community." What? Really? Are we doomed, if Applebee's is a cultural piece of anything? Even Hays, Kansas? Anyway, my point is, when we live away from where we go, we have to go farther--obvious, I know, but, an important part of the argument here; and, as I always remind my kiddos, one should never overlook the obvious.

Audacity/Ignorance/False Pride/Laziness: Insert any of a number of first-hand examples that you, reader, may have of an ugly American, ending in empty-headed statements such as, "We fought for the right to drive wherever we want." Or something equally pig-headed.

Of course, I am proposing, in my last vestiges of Liberalism (which I am tenaciously trying to hold onto as I age--like Churchill may or may not have said, "Anyone under thirty who is not a liberal has no heart. Anyone over thirty who is, has no brain.") that we somehow try to re-engineer the blueprints of our cities, turning them into collective enclaves of community, rather than these concentric rings of commerce with burned-out centers. Of course, in this example, I am thinking of my old hometown, Baltimore, but the metaphor, with some adjustment probably fits anywhere (even Hays, Kansas). Here in Central Standard, while the downtown is relatively active, the outskirts of town are, each day, becoming a wall of box stores and commercial pollution: Wal-Marts, Kohls, Applebees, etc., squeezing the lifeblood out of the character of this little town.

At the current rate, in the current state, in the end, I can only forsee a scenario very similar to the forementioned Dawn of the Dead, in which we fine citizens wander slew-footed and slack-jawed, looking for anyone who is still alive, so we can eat her brains, and make her one of us.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

In Which Our Boy Contemplates Colonizing Mars

We're a fun bunch of guys
And we come from outer space
On the planet where we're from
War is even fun
We're a fun bunch of guys
--Sparks, "A Fun Bunch of Guys from Outer Space"

Last week was a busy one, what with Speak Your Mind Forums, Hickman Review coffeehouses, Battles of the Bands, etc. But, we've managed to navigate the last super committed week before the end of school. Only finals loom large on the horizon, unless you notice that impending move that is standing hairy and large just behind it. But, that's a story for later.

You may recall my participation with National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November. Next month brings a new writing adventure from the same crew at the Office of Letters and Light: Script Frenzy (ScriFre?). The idea is to write a playscript or screenplay during the month of June. I really want to play along, but June is going to have enough going on, so I may take a rain check this year. Writing a script has slightly less appeal for me, since I have previously written a few. I never had written a novel, and I really needed the made up motivation of something like NaNoWriMo to help me accomplish that goal. But, I still might give it a shot. I'll let you know.

I rode my bike to work this morning (and barely missed getting rained on, on the way home). I took a break on the sofa when I arrived back home, and spent part of an hour watching the remainder of a Science Channel documentary on Dr. Robert Zubrin, the aerospace engineer advocate-guru of manned missions to Mars. The show outlined how we might get there and what we might do when we do get there. It was fascinating, but disappointing.

Disappointing on one level because of the indignation it engenders in anyone who grew up during the era of manned missions to the Moon (okay, I more came to consciousness rather than age during this period, but I was breathing when Aldrin, Armstrong, and Collins finally made that "one small step"). After 1973, NASA seemed to have lost any sense of direction, launching experimental missions to study a million different things that may or may not be useful in the future. Without a goal, it seems that NASA is simply just another government program that politicians can use to pork up their districts. But, I digress.

It was mostly disappointing because, even if the directors decided to go full on toward landing men and women on Mars, the potential of human colonization (something I think we ought to do for several reasons which I will not get into here--but, rest assured one of them isn't because we are soon going to make life untenable here--that's not going to happen...nor is it any reason to hop ourselves on to another unsuspecting planet) isn't even close to happening for about two hundred years. I'm talking serious colonization, successful colonization (which includes a Mars that looks nothing like the Mars we know today--I'm talking about a place where Dr. Spaceman can talk a stroll around the outside of the compound without a pressure suit or an oxygen mask).

Why is that disppointing? Because I want to go! And, as much as I think I am going to live forever, my human brain does not really believe that that forever will last two hundred years. Sure, any future me may be able to go, but I am bummed for present me. (I will spare you any detailed discussion of my concept of the nature of being, viz. life/death/next life/death/next life/so on (by the way, I am not of the Shirley McLaine school here, but there are some similarities, I guess (is anyone still following this?)).

Of course, I am also left with a host of questions, not the least of which is: since space travel is by nature cost prohibitive, will colonists be limited only to those ridiculously wealthy who can afford it? Or will it be more akin to 17th and 18th century sea-faring colonization, in which one might purchase one's passage as a deck hand or an indentured servant? I could see that happening. After all, those rich bastards have to have somebody to fetch their water and protein shakes.

I know I will be around when all this actually occurs (it will, believe me--as soon as somebody figures out how to make some money off of it), I just won't be around as the me that I am today. At any rate, I'll see you on Mars, baby!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

In Which Our Boy Sums Up the Ledger (and the Levee)

Get down, river
Get down
--The Bottle Rockets, "Get Down River"

The Ledger has quite a few things on it that haven't been summed up. Let's look at it, shall we?

On the positive side of the ledger: I got a plaque last night recognizing my contributions to my school's Speak Your Mind Forums over the past few years.
On the negative side of the ledger: We watched a brutal film about the Montgomery Bus Boycott in class yesterday, and the speaker at the SYM forum last night was a Holocaust survivor. No doubt, I was not too high on the human race as a whole, yesterday.

On the positive side of the ledger: It did not rain yesterday.
On the negative side of the ledger: The forecasters are predicting rain the next couple of days and a flood crest from the Big Muddy that might reach 1993 proportions (Flood of the Century, sure...LAST Century, sucker).

On the positive side of the ledger: Last week's Blood Drive collected 150 units of blood.
On the negative side of the ledger: Someone had an allergic reaction to latex, two kids threw up, and the nurse made it sound like her office was so full of swooning children that it looked like the "Burning Atlanta" scene from Gone With the Wind. Later reports found a total of two students lying down. Nevertheless, the blood drive may be a thing of the past. Administrators cite "liability" as the cause.

On the positive side of the ledger: Ice Planet Hoth a distant memory is.
On the negative side of the ledger: Swamp Planet Dagoba upon us soon will be.

On the positive side of the ledger: Today's chicken nuggets were exquisite.
On the negative side of the ledger: It is T-minus 4 Tuesdays before it's "No more nuggets for you."

I am sure I am leaving many things off of both sides, but one can easily see that, as always, I am just breaking even. Who could ask for anything more?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

In Which Our Boy Wonders Why It Gots To Rain Every Wednesday and Sunday

You know, cuz softball always gets cancelled. Boooooo!

I'm gonna go eat pizza, now.

[This entry rated -3 on the 10-point LitBlogCrit Scale of Blog Literary Quality.]

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

In Which Our Boy is Disappointed

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah were supposed to play the Blue Note tonight, but due to "scheduling conflicts" the show was postponed. Bummer. Wonder what "scheduling conflicts" means? Were they on their way to LA when they realized there was no way the bus could make it all the way here in time for the show? Did they notice that they had already committed to playing in Lawrence today? Did somebody in the band get invited to an all-you-can-eat Bull and Oyster Roast that they couldn't refuse? Whatever it was, I hope it was worth it. The show will be rescheduled.

In other music news, The Hold Steady AND Bobby Bare Jr play this town on the same day (6/12) at different venues (let's see THAT happen in Lincoln). Fortunately, I won't have to decide which show to see, since I will be back East for the nuptials of La Fashionista (Do you SEE the sacrifices I make for you, Jersey Girl?).

Tomorrow is the Spring Blood Drive at school tomorrow. I'll be setting up tables and "pass out here" signs at 6:30 AM. Woo Hoo! I love phlebotomy.