Friday, December 31, 2004

I felt a resolution coming on in the shower this morning.

I told it to get back into it's hole.

I hate this holiday. It sort of galls me that it treads on the hem of one that I really do like.

It's not the excess, the drinking, the fireworks, and parties that I hate. I could use more of that, though I do see the wisdom of keeping off the roads.

It's this idea that you go into the new year, shiny and fresh and NOT dragging the scarred hulk of your aspirations and responsibilities like you do year after year. I suppose S.A.D. has something to do with this.

I think the fat guy in the red suit is a more real thing to celebrate than aspirations. He is hope and cheer and the idea that maybe you deserve something special out of life. Yes, yes, yes. Jesus, too, if that's your cup of tea.

On the other hand, I will wish my smiley little girl happy new years, every year, with a straight face. Because she has a chance of doing entirely new things all year for a long time to come.

Oh, and Katie Rose, and Meagan and Haley. They all get a happy new year, but especially Katie Rose, because this is will be the first year she's stuck her head outside of her mamma's belly.


So, last night we couldn't sleep, and were up watching a Spider Man cartoon with Venom in it. Now, I love comics, but I've never been that much of a Spidey fan. As I found myself explaining the history of the Venom character to Ruby, and how if differed from the comics, I found it truly eerie how much of his history I could parrot back to her. It's like a strange kind of osmosis, you just absorb it from being around it all the time. I couldn't use this skill for math, or even anthropology, but I have endless amounts of trivia about games and comic books characters that I've never even read at my mental fingertips.

Fans are so weird.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The meatloaf was dry. I believe this is because I used stuffing mix, which required extra liquid.

My family assured me that the meatloaf was excellent. Well, it was good, but not excellent.

I believe this may be a clue as to why I am not published.

Reading: Awake at Work, by Michael Carroll. This is a book of Buddhist meditations about why you should love whatever drudgery that comes with your job because it is part of your truest self. It seemed a little shrill, and more hectoring than other Buddhist influenced stuff that I've read. I would have liked to finish it... but I have so little time to read as it is. I don't do well with hectoring, and when I found that I'd rather read comics more, I gave in to my truest self and returned this to the library.

Elementals, by Bill Willingham. The first four issues in graphic novel format. I recently picked a used copy up on Amazon to round out my collection of the series, which I keep because I found it such a weird blend of capes and fairy tales.

I like Bill's stories unreservedly, although his Elementals letters pages used to make him sound like a bastard of the Harlan Ellison mold. I especially liked the Elementals when he was writing it. I think this is partially because his first story arc used plots and characters from a set of adventures he wrote for the Villains and Vigilantes game: Death Duel with the Destroyers, and I forget the latter one, with Saker. It was a thrilling combination of my life experience up to that point: role playing commingling directly with comics. In a way, because I had run those adventures, I thought of the characters as mine, and seeing somebody write a different story with them was like (but not equivalent to, now: I don't want anybody to misunderstand) watching characters from my own head come to life. It was a pleasure reading his peculiarly bloody minded take on superheroics again.

The Fixer, by Joe Sacco. Another graphic novel about a sort of sad sack character who was in the Chechnyo-watchamacallit war and ends up telling wild tales to influential young journalists like Joe Sacco. I really enjoyed this. It was sharp, and although the author seems to be of the neurotic young writer sub-type, he isn't whiny. The illustrations are just beautiful, especially the panorama on pages 12 and 13 of Sacco arriving in war torn Sarajevo.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Yule be amazed

"I did it." Said Poppy. I'd just offered to help her get her shoe on after the heel slipped off, but no, she managed it herself.

She's been using I statements lately, and I hadn't realized what seemed so strange about it until just now. Mainly, that until the last few days, pronouns were not in her verbal artillery. She mixed them up regularly.

"I did it." Why, yes you did, sweetie.

Also, she can sing good chunks of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, You are my Sunshine, and Jingle Bells. In July, she only had three words of the Telletubbies theme song.


Yesterday, a lady came into the library looking for Pachelbel's Cannon (in D) by the Trans Siberian Orchestra. We didn't have it. She seemed surprised... I guess it's popular, of late. Today my mom brought up an album by them. A schlock opera called The Lost Christmas Eve.

It sounded like Meatloaf was singing a Danny Elfman score performed by the Manheim Steamrollers, accompanied by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It was, like, full of great, throbbing Christmas Spirit. Several degrees of cheese, although I found myself thinking that if it was William Shatner singing, it might have just the right note of self parody to be fun. As it was, I kept thinking that Siegfried and Roy must train tigers for these guys. If there weren't tigers doing the Siegfried and Roy Hoochie Koochie in the stage show, there should have been.

Yes, its crass to make fun of stuff you don't like.


So, for Christmas Eve, Mom asked me to make meatloaf. This is what I did, this time:

2 Pkgs ground Turkey, pound and a quarter each.
2 4 oz. cans of Deviled ham.

Tot: 3 Lbs meat.

Eighth of a cup of Ketchup. Can opener was in the dishwasher, so I couldn't use tomato paste.
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce. 1 Tbsp Lea and Perrins.

Tot: Quarter cup of liquid?

One and a third cup of diced onion, two thirds of a cup of diced green pepper, 1 cup of stove top stuffing mix. I tried to mash it, but had already added it to the egg, so it didn't work very well.

Total: 3 cups filler.

Package of onion soup mix, couple shakes of black pepper. Leaving salt to soup mix and Soy Sauce.

I never make meatloaf the same way twice. What happens is I find a recipe anywhere: I have a book of recipes  but the backs of soup cans and the internet work just as well. Then I just make sure the amounts of meat, filler, and liquid are the same. Oh, and you need egg.

A elemental meatloaf recipe might look something like this:

For each pound of ground whatever, add 1 egg, 1+ Tbsp of Liquid that is not water, vinegar  or soda, and a cup of filler, some of which should probably be bread crumbs. Mix with ingredients at room temperature, 'cause your hands will get cold, otherwise. Grease the pan before you mix. I'm not good with cook times. I always follow the directions on the back of the can, there.

Meatloaf recipes are wildly different: I've seen all kinds of meat recommended, seen milk, ketchup, and Worchester sauce used, and all kind of vegetables and grains. The only thing that's always similar is that it always looks like brains when you're kneading it together in the pan.

I don't cook much, but I've made enough meatloaf to be a kind of meatloaf-savant. I'm thinking of working on crepes next.

Monday, December 20, 2004

One of the funniest things about parenthood is getting used to your child's lack of ability in some area, and going along for months with your child not being able to have a conversation, or not being able to string together more than two words, and then having her completely overturn your expectations out of the middle of nowhere.

It is such a rush of joy. I'm not exactly sure what causes it: empathizing with somebody else's discovery, pride at reasonably shepherding someone to the point where they could learn that ever so valuable skill, awe at the freshly upturned memory of how difficult every little thing is to pick up when you start with nothing.

It is like having a little fountain of illumination go off in the dusty cavity of your chest.

Tomorrow is the solstice. Usually, at this time of the year, I find myself obsessing about light. A couple of years ago, I found myself crying when I accidentally came across Here come the Sun, by the Beatles. I pretty much decided at that point that the winter solstice should be celebrated as itself, however I could.

This year, a co-worker, a very nice lady who has extended me every kindness already, passed me a poem after I bellyached about my seasonal affective disorder, or whatever personality problem it is that I indulge during the winter.

Depression in Winter

Jane Kenyon

There comes a little space between the south
side of a boulder
and the snow that fills the woods around it.
Sun heats the stone, reveals
a crescent of bare ground: brown ferns,
and tufts of needles like red hair,
acorns, a patch of moss, bright green....

I sank with every step up to my knees,
throwing myself forward with a violence
of effort, greedy for unhappiness-
until by accident I found the stone,
with its secret porch of heat and light,
where something small could luxuriate, then
turned back down my path, chastened and calm.


It was very relaxing.

Monday, December 13, 2004

"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."

Clerical error is another matter entirely.

I've been on the phone off and on for two and a half months now, trying to find the mail that should have followed us from Brooklyn. I really try not to be snitty about service people. I am one, and I know how much bureaucracy and circumstance can prevent you from doing. Still and all, I've been directed to Michigan post office officials twice now, when the post office insists I should be dealing with Brooklyn officials.

We got through the move pretty well. I keep meaning to post about it, but it's a sort of trauma, moving. You don't eagerly look back on it. We only lost a few things, most cheap, which is very good considering how brutal the movers were with our stuff, and that it went on through five transfers: New York to truck, truck to storage, storage to truck, truck to storage, storage to home. We lost: A teapot and 4 glasses (several that belonged to my grandma), one lamp, a picture frame, and a set of shelves. And we chipped a gryphon. It ws amazing to me, however, that the cheap plywood filing cabinet I've been carrying around with me since I was a teenager survived. Go figure.

I am very unnerved to find that driving through snow feels homey. Not that I would miss it at all, if we relocated to Arizona.


40 Signs of Rain: Kim Stanly Robinson. I love Kim. He has a great way of making people seem like they are the most important thing in the context of an uncertain future. Which we would all like to think is true. 40 Signs is much more accessible than just about anything else he's written except for his collection of short stories about mountain climbing, although it is almost entirely character driven and leisurely paced. It resembles the Wizard of Oz in a very shallow fashion, if only in that he uses the character of Frank to give the tin woodsman of science a heart via Buddhism.

Orbit: Warren Ellison. A funny little science fiction short story in graphic novel format. It is a funny story, with Ellison's trademark flair for making super-science sound funnily plausible. The cost/benefit ratio of publishing a one-off short in hardcover format seemed a little skewed.

And then Morbid, a bunch of photoshopped graphic novel shorts that were sometimes funny, but very much a labor of love.

The two of them together are making me think that comic books are freighted by their own context, sometimes. One expects a series. On the other hand, maybe the graphic format is so expansive that it demands a series. Maybe telling a story in pictures just swells the narrative up until it can't fit in anything less than a couple hundred pages.

Going Postal and The Truth: Terry Pratchett. They are essentially the same book. Good reads, both but disappointing because of their similarity. And I couldn't tell you why. Um. Because they're good reads.

The last collected volume of Bone. Jeff Smith. As much as I loved the series, I found this a little anti-climactic. So few pages, and the Locust, Grandma's sister, and Mim are dealt with. Just. Like. That. It probably seems more fraught if you're waiting the month between installments.

The 2003 OCLC Environmental Scan... which I would call incisive, except for the haunting feeling that it's about 90% filler.

Come to think of it, my expectations of anything I'm reading lately seem too bleak to allow me to fully enjoy it. So perhaps all these very entertaining works were just grand and I totally missed it.

Wouldn't that suck?

Monday, November 29, 2004


So about a month ago, Bush got re-elected. This was disappointing, but not something I'm inclined to get very anxious about. I think the country will survive, and am not inclined to hyperbole about the issue.

I was truly embarrassed, however, that my state and ten others passed a Jim Crow style law banning gay marriage. A DOMA: A Defense of Marriage Act. Ours is so vaguely worded that it seems to disallow any protections for gay relationships at all, which is a blatant misuse of the state constitution. The Michigan state constitution now says, in so many words, that gay men and women are not created equal: they have no right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as it were. Or more legalization, no right to freedom of expression and association. I will be interested to see if it can hold up under a Supreme Court challenge.

Anybody who voted for this law believes they are denying gay men and women special rights: they see marriage as an artifact of sex. Marriage is a specific right of mixed sex couples, and only a special right granted to same sex couples. It is probably one of the few legal recognitions of sex as a concrete issue. I imagine the same people who voted for this law, or many of them, would be horrified by other legal recognitions of sex, such as laws under which women could not own property.

Ultimately I think that the left should give up on legalizing gay marriage. I think it is one of those issues, like the ERA, that is opposed by a general superstition about sex, that your sex dictates your abilities.

Gays should make an end run around the whole marriage issue. If the public is too ignorant to realize that the marriage the state recognizes is a totally separate thing from what the church recognizes, Gays should do the following:

1. Find and nurture faiths that aren't resistant to the idea of gay marriage. Heck,
freedom of religion is such a powerful idea to Americans they make religions out of whole cloth. I'd start one if I wasn't an atheist.

2. Boycott companies that don't offer some kind of partnership benefits. If McDonalds
doesn't grant partnership rights, I can forgo a Big Mac indefinitely. Are you rich and gay? Or rich and liberal enough to be compassionate about the issue? Don't invest your millions with a company that doesn't have partnership benefits.

3. Watchdog foundations should refocus on protecting individual partnership rights. I should have the right to pass on my property to anyone I wish after I die and have anyone I wish visit me in the hospital. Any fiscal conservative in the country should agree with the former. If, after all, the real issue for a fiscal conservative is individuals having control of their money. And not raw greed. If I can pass my property on to pets, why not to my boyfriend? And why in hell do hospitals have the right to restrict visitors on any grounds besides health?

Such a foundation should challenge anti-gay rights laws right up to the Supreme
Court and break the spine of the DOMA laws over their knee. Eventually, it would be like: I can't get married? So what, I have everything that comes with it. And, indeed, we are heading in that direction anyway.

The DOMA laws are still an embarrassment. The effort to create laws to try and disallow gay marriage is a waste of the money spent on ink for the ballots. DOMAs are dumber than laws that tell you it's illegal to take a lion to the movies, or kiss in public without rubbing your lips with rosewater. I don't care what you're afraid of. If you voted for a DOMA law, you were foolish as well as wrong.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Laser Beams

So I was at a planning meeting for the library's web page and associated technology today.

When people asked me: Kapture, what would you like to see in the library, I said Laser Beams.

HAHAHA, Kapture, what a card. What a funny guy.


I really want more laser beams in the library. We already have them: what library doesn't have a scanner? You could use them for anything. We're talking about stats: we could put electric eyes at the door and information desk, and determine how quickly patrons coming in reach a service point and then get service. We could put them in nametags and measure how many times we stop to talk and for how long, automatically discounting our co-workers faces. We could determine our community's favorite color from the clothes they wear when they come in, and repaint the library to match.

We could probably even use them to dry hands in the bathroom, although it might wreak havoc with one color in your tattoo pigments.

Laser beams are SO cool.

So are double staffing pixies. But laser beams are cooler, because they're real.


How much would it cost? I don't know. I'm not the tech guy. I'm the idea guy.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Yesterday's highlight was lunch with my co-workers and watching my boss accept the library excellence award. The PDL staff worked hard for that award, and she and they deserve the recognition for it. The Top Tech Trends workshop was very interesting, and I'm beginning to think about doing a little futurizing myself. Everything after that was pleasant, but mostly review material.

As far as conventions go, they are not as efficient a learning environment as, say, the classroom.

Today I go to a workshop on blogging in libraries, and then it's all a spectator sport. Keynote speech and author award luncheon. I will blog about anything good, but in truth am looking forward to heading home. It's a nice drive. Traverse City could definitely be a vacation destination for me. I'm thinking "Cherry Festival." Woo Hoo! Cherries! I bought Poppy a toy car.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Fork It

It's been officially a month since I blogged. Good thing nobody reads this.

I am at MLA - the Michigan Library Association conference. It's a little disorienting to actually have to do something at a conference. Science fiction conventions are usually less... structured. I also seem to need to get in with the hip crowd, because there were no room parties that I saw. The keynote speaker was a Mr. Marshall Keys, a sort of library futureologist. His tools for predicting what will happen to libraries are : Environmental Scans (What's happening in the world around you), Historical Studies (What happened the last time something similar happened), Scenario Planning (What should we do if this trend continues), Lessons Learned (After you plan) and Benchmarking (If at first you don't succed, find someone who's doing it better and steal their ideas).

He essentially noted that medium doesn't matter, but access does, and that this is especilly important as formats change and information access becomes more distributed. He mentioned things as varied as a P2P sharer that might (or might not) be in the Palestinian refugee camp, and digital shoplifting, a bizarre practice where people will take camera phones into bookstores and "steal" articles by taking pictures of them, tying them together very neatly into his observations.

"Does the American Medical Association have a center for the stethescope?" He asked, "They way we have a center for the book?"

He seems to think even computers are too cumbersome for the up and coming generation. I was admiring the computer room at Traverse City, but began thinking that maybe we really could skip that and go straight to laptops. I don't think we will be doing text messenging reference any time soon. It sounds like carpal tunnel waiting to happen.

One of the things I disagree with is his assertation that the blogging mentality means that privacy is unimportant while community is very important. I don't think any cultural change can be so simply drawn. I was interested by a article on teen blogging in the Detroit News, where a young said that he didn't care who saw what he wrote, except, of course, his parents. We try draw our boundaries carefully (whether or not we can).

All in all, I thought he was very perceptive.

I also saw a presentation on RFID by the West Bloofield Library. What I thought was most interesting about that was that their patrons check out 90-98% of items through self check out. Equally interesting was that they didn't fire circ staff: they just shifted them to doing other things. It still seems like a lot of work.

Reading: DaVinci Code by Dan Brown - Uh. Okay. For like, a year, every time I put out the Catholic Magazines, it seemed like there was an editorial about how the DaVinici Code was a load of crap. I kept wondering what had the church in such a tizzy about a work of fiction.

After having read the book, I have even less idea what the fuss is about. It's not a bad book. It's largely a fun read. I thought the resolution was clever. But it is a potboiler, with no grace and little soul. The two main characters are ratcheted through a bunch of encounters that center largely around easilly fooled cops and Sunday newspaper brain teasers. The church is not portrayed as a villain. Even Opus Dei, a fairly noxious sounding organization, gets off as well intentioned.

Do some Catholics really think the DaVinici Code is the only thing that will make the world aware of the church's ethical lapses? Or that it will trigger a mass converstion to Goddess worship? It's not like Mr. Brown has secret information that hasn't been out there for the world to make use of before. But, apparently yes. I suppose I should hope that's not a common belief, but I know better than that. I think, really, that the folks most worried about impressionable youths, are too impressionalbe themselves.

Desperation. Stephen King has no right to write a boring book. Unlike Anne Rice, who's just long winded, King is a really gifted writer. I think everything before It will eventually become cannon. You really have to cherry pick at that point.

I think that one of King's problems is that he can't give up on his theater of the mind theme, which really took over his oeuvre with It. It seems false to literalize internal problems, to make one's own neurosis as awful a threat as, say, a man with a gun. In fact, the real crux of personal problems are how they impact the concrete. And after a while, it gets repetetive. His other theme, the horror of the innocuous, is also wearing thin. In this novel, he sort of walks into Andy Warhol territory by fetishizing action figures.

Desperation is a well crafted story with interesting characters that makes the violent toys and television of an autistic child into killers. This might have been a compelling theme (although I personally disagree with the idea that violent media makes for violent children) if he didn't blame it all on an alien vampire in the end. Stick a fork in it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

You have to understand what I live with.

Ruby wakes up and says: "I dreamed we went to Halloween town. It was the first time we'd had fun in years. We dropped the baby off with a claymation baby sitter.

We were in this bar made of candy, and the bartender said: You have to rate my bar, otherwise people will eat it.

I said to you: We have to come back, but you said, "Nah, not enough strippers. And then I looked at the table, and there were all these gingerbread men, and they were peeling off their icing."

So, what role do I play in the private universe in her head, now? Dream interpretation, anybody?

In other news, I am so not feeling like a nice man today.

Poppy can handle a sandwich. I remember when she couldn't. She would pick it apart, but now she can fist it into her face pretty well. That is so cool. She can say Blue instead of Boo. She knows when I'm going to work (shoes and tie give it away, I imagine). "Work?" She says, and then wrinkles her face up in that parody of anxiety. Her brain is like a little octopus, reaching in all directions.

Reading: Hogfather,by Terry Pratchett. Ruby says this isn't her favorite, and I've seen at least one review that said it was pretty bad. But: Santa Clause gets killed, and Death has to take over his rounds. What's not to like? I am enjoying it.

Sunday, September 12, 2004


Ann Coulter is writing another book, titled How to speak to Liberals (If you really must). The title sort of negates itself, doesn't it? The thing is, we really don't want to talk to Ann.

I took a look around the internet, looking for some advanced press. What I found was a column from 2001 with a similar title, wherein she moons over George. "George knows how to talk to liberals." I paraphrase. "You have to talk to them like children."

You have to do this, of course, because liberals don't understand that conservatives aren't mean. She goes on about how cheerful Pat Robertson is with a kind of obtuse literalism that entirely misses the point. I mean, Al Franken smiles, too.

Of the whining conservatives do about what a persecuted minority they are, the lip-trembling "they think we're mean" argument has always been the most obfuscating. It really should be the least thing to come out of the culture wars, but they can't get over it.

The thing is, of course conservatives are mean. It's an easy generalization to make. Ann personally revels in it, along with Rush. O'Reilly bellyaches about being called mean while shouting down guests on his show. They invalidate the statement "conservatives are nice," and by continuing to argue gross generalities, disallow a more precise critique of the issue. Sure, Pat Robertson is jovial. And, he's mean.

If there's someone to fight the stereotype of the mean conservative, it isn't Ann. She doesn't even know what level of rhetoric the conversation is being had on. Someone who thinks that anybody left of Pat Robertson is a traitor is the kind of a person who takes every disagreement personally. It's a kind of Broadway musical martyr complex, sort of like "don't cry for me, liberal media. The truth is, I never liked you." She's drunk on the force of her own conviction and crying in the fermented remains of her persecution complex.

Ann. Your mascara will run.

Reading: Reaper Man. Now, Terry Pratchett is funny, and curiously sweet even when skewering the fatuous. I would pay to hear his comments on politics any day. Reaper Man is the road less taken to Death Takes a Holiday, a story I tend to like however it's redone.

The first four volumes of Lucifer, the Vertigo comic, which take's Neil Gaiman's clever turn on Milton's fallen angel and runs it down the road less taken to Paradise Lost. I preferred Steven Brust's To Reign in Hell. Volume three offers my favorite couple of issues so far, when Lucifer says to the angel who's invaded Lucifer's garden of Eden and corrupted Lucifer's Adam and Eve: "After all, any prototype that can't resist the old celestial party line isn't worth the effort of mass production, is it?" Heh.

Monday, August 23, 2004

I heard a Bowie song on the way to work today that I had never heard before. My library has all these great museum piece classic rock CDs that actually stay in the collection because they are not Brittany Spears, nor are they Usher.

The lyrics made me happy, because they reminded me of when I was young, and brave, because I had to be:

Look at your children/ See their faces in golden rays/ Don’t kid yourself they belong to you/ They’re the start of a coming race/ The earth is a bitch/ We’re finished out news/ Homo Sapiens have outgrown their use/ All the strangers came today/And it looks as though they’re here to stay

The music of the sixties and seventies has that feel to it, I think, because young men and women did not realize that they were merely larval forms, then. Young people these days seem to expect to grow up to be adults, instead of, I don’t know, demiurges or aeons. I think that is a terrible burden. I know I expected to grow up to become a holy Androgyne. It is good that I was shielded from the foreknowledge that I was merely the grub stage of a dumpy librarian.

It really is better to sing about being young and having possibilities than about being old and having had them. I’m sure there is a middle ground, though I don’t know where it is in pop music.

I also decided that if I was hearing voices, I would not mind if David Bowie were one of them. I wondered if most of us read/listen to music/watch movies or TV simply to find other voices to fill up our head for when we are sick of our own.

Then I pulled into the parking lot at work.

So, work is great. The people are nice. The facility is gorgeous. I still feel like I am in freefall. Much of what I am learning is what people here already know, and moreover, have known forever. They are flawless in their execution, and because I cannot even find the rules of engagement I am jealous.

That was a tawdry, bloatedly mixed metaphor, but it is mine, and so I am keeping it.

I would like to be able to give them a gift of something new and complete that will prove to the world how fabulous they are, but the world doesn’t believe in libraries any more than the gods of old, and I think that’s a shame.

Ruby and I have decided that we, like all spiritually displaced southern gentles or British children’s book characters, shall name our house. We christen it Clowderville.

Reading: The one awful thing about coming back to Michigan is that my reading time has been decimated. 2 hours enforced reading time, back and fourth on the subway. This is making me restrict my reading, especially cutting back on “improving” reading, books that I find difficult to read, but do so anyways because I’m interested in the topic. I had to put aside A Plague of Frogs, by William Souder, midway through, not because it was terrible, which it wasn’t, but because I was reading some 20 pages a day. It was interesting, it just wasn’t interesting enough. To prevent myself the vain hope of going back and finishing it, I donated it to the library.

I read the first four volumes of Promethea, a comic book by Alan Moore. Moore is hit and miss with me. When he hits with me, he hits big. I really love Watchmen, Swamp Thing, Top Ten, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. When he misses, I am extraordinarily indifferent to it: V for Vendetta, the rest of ABC. I couldn’t recommend it at all.

I started out thinking Promethea was the former, but it became the latter: the Tarot issue did it in for me. That issue was profoundly dull: no story, no characterization. The art was great, but I would have enjoyed it more without the words. The text implied that I should be applying my interest to somebody else’s burning passion. Unfortunately, I find numerology about as exciting as watching sports, or polishing shoes. In some ways, I find it insulting: why try to cram the entirety of our vast, amazing universe into all these little pigeon holes? I began to dread the expository chunks, so what little story did surface didn’t really interest me. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy magic in stories. But not real magic. Real wizards are a different story. Wizards are interesting. Their magic is a lot of rationalization.

Finished off Fables (vol. 2) and Y: The last man on earth (vol 1). Liked the latter better than the former

Iron Counil, by Mieville. It is entertaining. It is, essentially, 570 odd pages of the same story he’s already spent 1279 pages on in the other two New Croubazon books. The panorama is great, but the people never really change.

Allison Bechdel just convinces me think she is sweeter by poking fun at herself like she does.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

The last time I moved 700 miles to take a job, I was 23. I don’t remember feeling fragile, but I must have been because I got into a screaming fight with the operator who wanted to make me responsible for the phone bill of the guy who skipped out of my apartment before me.

I still feel a little displaced. A black and white Dorothy in a technicolor Oz. Everyone says… really, everyone. Or nearly everyone, says that I must be feeling some culture shock. But that’s not it. There are no surprises for me here. I carried into my exile a box of suburban soil to lay in every night. I ate the Twinkies of the dead, and so was compelled to return once a year.

It’s more a feeling of being lost. It’s not the city I’ve lived in and about. It’s not the suburbs I kept coming back to. It’s a whole ‘nother thing, with the Arby’s on the wrong corner, and a Barne’s and Noble just sitting there by the side of the road. Not even in a proper mall or anything. None of the sounds I make bounce back to me quite right. I am blind.

Even so, it’s a nice place to wander sightless in. That there’s an Arby’s makes it feel familiar. I liked visiting McDonalds in China, for it’s familiarity as well as it’s differences. Red Bean soda!

The 7-11 in Guangzhou just made me sick.

Anyways, it’s nice here. There’s still some green. It seems that they are being careful not to pave it all over immediately. It is such a greedy little pleasure to have a car all to myself. The library isn’t chopped up into 81 pieces, and it’s well cared for, and it doesn’t seem like my job is hopeless. Compared to my dungeon haunt, I keep thinking maidens will bring me silver carafes of chilled wine. Hardly anything at all to Nang-Nang about. I should feel helpless, having my inalienable right to bitch taken away from me in such a brutally efficient manner.


Reading: The last Harry Potter book. I think I liked it best, because Harry was such a prat through all of it, and his response at the end seemed a realistic way to resolve his anger.

My new library has great comics: Y: the last man, vol’s 2 and 3, which I’m liking. Although it strikes some flat notes, it’s an apocalyptic literalization of gender inequity. I’m interested to see where it ends up.

Fables vol 3. I like Bill’s writing. Always have. It’s not deep, but it’s grand.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

My kid wakes up screaming every night when the ice cream man rolls down the street. "Up-A! Up-A!" Some nights he comes the second I lay her down in the crib. Some nights not until 9:30, all the time playing "It's a small world."

What kind of mook runs around the neighborhood trying to sell ice cream in the middle of the night? I picture hoards of middle aged people in boxers and robes and curlers clustered around the ice cream truck, clutching their change and jonesing for an ice cream.

On the fourth, we got ice cream from the ice cream man. I got a cone with strawberry crunch. Mmmm. I had forgotten how good that is. Strawberry and crunchy. Who thought of that?

I think Poppy may have figured the deal out. Funny music comes floating along the street, adults disappear, reappear with ice cream. I'm sure this will only exacerbate the situation.

Anyways: She sleeps through drag racing on our street, white trash screaming fights, firecrackers... But she always wakes up screaming from the ice cream man.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

So I rolled up to the branch, fresh from the 4th Weekend, and there's somebody crashed out on the steps of the staff entrance. Like, all the way across, step over and smash into them when you pull the door open across. Very inconvenient. I asked him to leave, and he wouldn't. So we were stepping over him and smashing his feet every time the door opened.

We called the cops. What else to do? About forty five minutes later, after I had finally pestered our guest into leaving, the cops showed up to say: "Yeah, so there." I thanked them politely, anyway. Good relations with you local police can be important, I'm told.

So, alright, I'm that funny kind of liberal that almost feels guilty about these exchanges. I mean, they really can't help it. I try to be polite to the junkies, no matter how obnoxious they are. I can't really bring myself to be friendly. But I can do polite real well. I'm only ever really sharp when they're leaving needles, or puking on the books, or stealing stuff. But what happens when you say "please leave," and you get back shrieks and belligerence?

You get passive aggressive, really. I suppose I could have offered them a cup of coffee. Maybe when we open later, I'll try it.

The 4th was very nice, thanks to Annie and Anthony and Nick and Margarethe. We were invited out to Annie and Anthony's suburban idyll. The fireworks show was mere blocks away, and the biggest and loudest I've ever had the pleasure of seeing. Everyone was good company, most especially Poppy, who was sweet as frosting until she sacked out in the car at 10:30.

Reading: Finished Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I think it is my favorite in the series. I think she handled the denouement very capably. I can't say I was surprised by the death. It just seemed to... Reasonable.

Eberron campaign setting. I don't usually buy campaign settings. I make my own. There were extenuating circumstances involved in the purchase of this one. Now I'm trying to read it cover to cover.

For those who don't read role playing game sourcebooks, there are rules, which tell you how to play the game, and then there are settings, essentially descriptions of people and places that are meant to give you ideas for the plots for your own games. Reading campaign settings is like reading a particularly vague travel guide. So and so lives here and defeated the frumious bandersnatch or vermicious knid. The blankety forest has monsters in it. So and so belongs to a cult. The people of so and so like cheese.

It isn't quite boring, and isn't quite entertaining. The setting itself is... a setting, built using everybody else's fantasy tropes. It is neither original nor wholly derivative. It is simply a kind of plot-lite pastiche.

Epic fantasy itself is kind of bankrupt. I will happily make the prediction that no new twist on the genre will ever be developed, and just as happily devour it if there is. The only real strength left to fantasy, as I think J.K. Rowling and George R. R. Martin have proved, is it's characters. The whimsy and phantasmagoria are window dressing. But who wants to look at a dull window?

I think in some ways, the fantasy genre hasn't re-invigorated itself with it's recent commercial success, so much as it has been re-invigorated by soap opera. Go figure.

Eberron is "not bad". I prefer the rules sections. They have introduced a few interesting plot elements, like an evil vampire warlord working to keep the peace. I will be interested to see what kind of novels and characters they set in it.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Most exciting news of the weekend: We had our very first conversation ever with Calliope.

I brought her out to breakfast, and after her milk, and during her Cheerios, she asked for company, as she usually does. Mostly it's her tiger. "Ty-Gee." This morning, she asked for a "Dahl."

"Which Doll?" I asked. "Would you like Daphne or Emmaline?"


Ruby figured it out. Troll. "Would you like red hair troll doll or blue hair troll doll?" I asked.

She thought for a moment.


A conversation!

To cross the streams, which I try never to do: If I have minis out on the table in the morning, which I sometimes do, I tell her they are my little mens when she asks. She never, ever fails to waggle her finger at them and proclaim them naughty. No! She jabs her finger at them emphatically. Which hurts my feelings to no end.

They are nice little mens. Despite the weapons and teeth. How come my dolls are naughty?

Friday, June 25, 2004

One of my pet peeves as a librarian is theft.

It always gives me a teeth grinding pause to find an article ripped out of a magazine or a cover ripped off a book and jammed in the stacks higgledy piggledy. Hippie exhortations aside, it is neither progressive or cunning. Libraries are understaffed and underfunded. It's just obtuse. Like picking one's own pockets.

When the library suggested, two or three years ago, that it might circulate laptops, I thought about how easy it would be to steal them. I raised my hand and asked: "It's really easy to steal something that size from the library? Don't you think it's too expensive to circulate?"

I recieved a blank stare and an assurance that the library could afford the losses.

Although, at the time, they still couldn't afford raises.

Now it looks like this will come to pass, and it looks like people are giving my coworkers who ask the same questions the same blank stares. So, instead of stealing hundreds of dollars worth of books or DVDs at a pop, they'll be able to steal a two thousand dollar computer on one go.

I am a cynic by nature. Despite the fact that they officially can't leave the building, and the computers disable themselves, I think people will steal them. I think that the only thing that will prevent it is more staff. And that is an impossibility.

Here's hoping I'm wrong, because it's a good idea.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

So I called the Kalamazoo Honda dealer today, because Hondas are rated tops for safety and customer satisfaction by Consumer Reports. Perhaps this is not a wise move, because they regularly recommend Dell computers. But what other authority is there?

The salesman is a nice guy, and not pushy, but he's chatting me up. I mention that I'm moving to Portage, MI from New York, and he says something like "Oh, you're moving from the biggest to the smallest." I think there was the phrase "biggest time," or something like that.

I've gotten a lot of that during my job hunt. People who ask me why I'm visiting. All four interviews I had around the state have gingerly danced around this topic in one form or another. "Are you sure you want to come here after living in NEW YORK CITY?" I'm sure I'll get more, as I settle in. There is a sense of exoticism about New York that seems to touch its residents, as if by living here I've been forever stretched out of shape.

Don't get me wrong. I don't think anybody's being a rube. There is a qualitative difference to life in New York. The museums are great, the theater is ubiquitous, the restaurant are wonderful. The thing I think I will notice the most is the homogeneity of the population, although I don't think many places in the U.S. are as lilly white as they were when I grew up. Especially not Southeastern Michigan.

But here's the thing: except for the flavor of the landscape, if you are of the middle class EVERY PLACE IN THE COUNTRY IS PRETTY MUCH THE SAME. For one thing, nobody ever visits their own tourist attractions, so they don't count towards defining the reality of a locality. I will get just as much out of New York if I visit for a week every year as I do by living here. I can't afford the theater or the restaurants. Nightclubs are the same everywhere once you've turned thirty. How many times can you visit even a really great museum exhibit?

Having lived in a couple of places, and visited a few more, I don't have a need to live in places just because they are different anymore. Maybe I just don't have the scratch, but money and need are so closely linked as to be a force near like physics, and I'm not going to argue with physics. I couldn't live the high life on a middle class salary in Tampa, New Orleans, or Chicago either. I am much better off visiting the high life from my suburban redoubt. I imagine most of the people living in those places would be, as well.

I am realistic. There are things I will miss. There are also things I will not miss.

Things I will Miss

My Cupola
Built in reading time (what else do you do on a subway?)

Things I will not Miss

Homeless people on my doorstep at work
Having choose between owning a car and anything else
Subway trips to the Bronx
Brooklyn parenting advice

Monday, June 21, 2004

Today I resigned my current position with the New York Public Library to take another in Michigan. After 11 years in the stony bosom of NYPL I am feeling strangely naked inside. There is an effervescent pressure under my rib cage. I feel like a seed pod about to burst. Or some nightmarish horror dredged up from a mid-oceanic trench (about to burst).

That's a pressurization joke.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Of all the goony things I do: Playing Dungeons and Dragons, reading comic books, going to science fiction conventions... by far, the gooniest is collecting Dungeons and Dragons brand pvc miniatures.

It is gooniest because it is the most passive. No interpretation is required from me. I simply open the boxes, and admire. Or not.

As a hobby, it doesn't even have the saving grace of industry, which unpainted lead or pewter miniatures have. If you need to paint your own, you can at least point to effort, and possibly mastery of craft, to somewhat justify the paltriness of your habit. Not me.

DND minis are sometimes pretty little toys, but because they are mass produced, they are sometimes not. Boxes are randomly sorted, and the figurines are divided by rarity, which adds to their collectibility. It is the randomness that interests me: rooting around in a box for god knows what little creatures. Will it be a pretty one? Ruby bought me a mixed case for my birthday. I open them one or two at a time in the mornings, which reminds me of digging around in a cereal box for toys. That was always an event for me because my parents didn't want me coked up on sugared cereals.

Instead, I got coked up on science fiction and caffeine. Hopped up on goofballs, as a friend used to say.

I opened a box with a large red dragon in it - my rare for the box. It was a lovely toy. The next box I opened had a rare Gauth, of which I already owned two. Some people would say: Three Gauth's! What a lucky bastard! While I would welcome a third red dragon, I have so little use for two Gauth's that three was something of a disappointment.

The agony, and the ecstasy. It makes for an exciting morning. The act of discovery is part of the reason I enjoy the minis so much. Probably the passivity is another: I do so much for myself, it is nice to be a pure spectator sometimes.

To my recollection, this particular escapist genre has never been so liberally manufactured and marketed. When I was a kid it was science fiction toys, spurred by the Star Wars figures. Really, except for a little collection of action figures based of the Dungeons and Dragons television show, Epic fantasmagorical fantasy has never had it this good. There are some other sets out there right now, specifically designed for children. But although they look fun, they aren't so pretty as this set, designed primarily for adult collectors. In my heart of hearts, I am a Prospero.

Unlike many of my geek peers, I didn't collect toys until these came about. Although I have seen many super-hero action figures that would have made me drool as a child (how I longed for good superhero action figures as a kid), they've never really captured my attention in the same way that these little toys do. Were I more energetic, I would be inspired to create little dioramas from them. Each little man or creature has implications. They tickle greedy little stories sleeping in my head.

Reading: Raising Your Spirited Child, by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. Because I am a jerk, and analytical by nature, I found that her introduction was a little too avid and self-promoting for my tastes. I tend to think of child care books as being in the same vein as self help books: everybody's got an axe to grind, and if given a format in which to grind it, will grind it to nothing. Unlike self-help books, I feel I need to read child care books. Nothing is as mystifying as deciphering the needs of a pre-logical proto-intellect. I can use all the help I get, and so regularly strip-mine my co-workers for ideas. I feel irresponsible if I do not consult the experts.

After rooting around amongst all the over-generalizations, I am finding Ms. Kurcinka's book is very interesting for a couple of reasons. It discusses individual personality traits in fairly exact chunks, and encourages taking them seriously for what they are rather than what we would like them to be. It looks at concepts like Extroverted and Introverted personalities, and talks about how they work in the world and how you can work with and channel them as opposed to how you can change them.

I actually think Raising Your Spirited Child is a pragmatic way to think about personality types in adults as well as children. Ms. Kurcinka conflates a lot of personality traits that don't necessarily have to be in order to create a pseudo-classification or syndrome: the spirited child. But she does think about each trait in exact ways that allow the reader to mine her thoughts for clues about how to live with people, children and adults, who have those traits, or how to live in the world if you have them.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

I've been back from vacation for exactly a week, now. My brain is in good shape, finishing off one short story quickly and sharply, giving me the beginnings of another. I've had dozens of ideas for mini-essays. Right now, they are gone, but they will come back.

My life is otherwise so full of portent lately that I am unable to write about it. I am just sucking on it like a lozenge, waiting to get to the medicinal tasting center of it all. Then perhaps I can write about it.

Tomorrow is my birthday.

While I was writing this on the reference desk, some guy was actually break-dancing in place while he was asking me for printer paper. Is that a medical thing?

Under the general heading: Poppyhead.

We met an Asian-Anglo couple and their daughter at the airport on the way home (to Michigan). As we were leaving, Poppy waved goodbye. In response, the woman, who was carrying baby, picked up her daughter's arm and puppeteered a good bye from her.

This so impressed Poppy that for the last week, she has been, when she remembers, reaching over with one arm to grasp the other when she waves bye-bye. Waving her own arm as it were. It never fails to impress me how literal her baby-brain is.

This week, Calliope had my cold from last week, and was a little crabby. We had a couple of beastly hot days, and Ruby has been taking her to the park to splash around in the sprinklers. I have missed all of that. When I got her up this morning, she was eye searingly cute, baby Vogue-ing all over the place. Do other people's kids strike a pose? Perhaps VH1 isn't an appropriate influence for her.

She has this dress with blue cornflowers on it in which she is the prettiest little girl in the world. Really. If I had been smart enough to take a picture of it, I would have empirical proof.

Reading: With Friends Like These, a collection of short stories by Alan Dean Foster. Mr. Foster has always been rather hit and miss with me, but I mostly do like these short stories of his.

And an old issue of Parenting, which made me worry about autism (actually, that I might have it), and an old issue of Scientific American.

And this, which is so funny it is unholy. And is filtered from the NYPL due to language content, so do be aware.

Coming out of a meeting Friday morning, I also found out that Donnell has a rocking great graphic novel collection. I got out two volumes of Boneyard, two of 100 Bullets, and The Hiketeia (A Wonder Woman story). I liked the heavily mythology influenced Wonder Woman story. I think it was an interesting example of what a magically enforced moral system might look like concretely, and also of the strange differences between ancient and modern morality. The first issue of 100 Bullets I am less sure about. It seems more like crime soap than crime noir, more melodrama than drama. But comics are easy to read, and I will give it a try. I have yet to get to Boneyard. Ruby is liking it.

Oh, by the by.

I did go see The Day After Tomorrow. It's a perfectly good dumb science fiction movie. I actually thought their kludged-up pop-science explanation for the insti-freeze weather was pretty elegant.

Also saw Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Unlike apparently everybody else, I don't think it was the best of the three. I thought it threw out too much of the character interaction for the sake of the plot. I don't think that was the director's fault: It's hard to stuff one of Ms. Rowling's very busy books into even two and a half hours. It was entertaining, but I think I would have liked it better had I not read the book first. I am on the fence as to whether or not the camera work was precious or engagingly kinetic.

Friday, June 04, 2004

I've been on vacation for just exactly a week now. As much as I love the city for what it is, the 'burbs are where I was born and raised, and thus my spiritual home. My natural habitat, if you will.

I suppose that sounds empty, but there is something transcendent about the choices you have here. Needing a car also means that you can take off whenever you want to, and not have to put another expense into the budget. Mega-stores beat out bodegas by offering so many different products in the same place. No rooting around in a bunch of tiny corner shops for something as simple as potato chip dip.

In fact, there are so many choices in the 'burbs that my resistance to impulse buying is weakened. God knows I won't find "it" so easily in Brooklyn. I get giddy in a Meijers Thrifty Acres. Though it would be an overstatement to say I can find anything there(curiously enough, I couldn't find Dayquil), the sheer number of choices (so many different kinds of frozen foods...) leaves me feeling battered by possibility.

Though I have spent too much time juggling audiences with my friends who remain here, and job hunting, I did get to drive that beautiful green stretch of I-94 between Detroit and Kalamazoo. And I went to a craft fair with my parents (and wife and child. "Oooh," says Poppy. "Flowers." Yes, there are many flowery things at craft fairs). Craft fairs are wonderful examples of the beneficence of capitalism: people actually make their living by making whimsical crap. Really, it's all very unnecessary. But some of it is still very appealing. Even the stuff I find cloying or unimaginative is interesting to me for the simple fact that people can do something so peripheral to the culture at large and survive doing it. That is the very definition of freedom. Without the immense muscle of market forces working on a huge surplus of wealth, whim couldn't carry so much influence. As a wannabe writer, I think it's nice that our culture can support people on the force of their imaginative detritus.

Still reading Galilee. Boy. Some books just aren't good enough to love or bad enough to hate. The only thing you can do is read them until you don't have to anymore (The End), especially if you are a oeuvre completist. Galilee finally got interesting after about page 300 (two thirds of the way through!). Between the pages of my copy I found a note from one of my fellow Books to Remember committee members back in 1998, who shared my general impression of the book:

Galilee: I got as far as page 227 and the story still hadn't truly begun. Very Anne Rice in its approach. Readable if you have plenty of time and nothing else in your book bag, but not a BTR.
By CP? Must be Christopher Platt.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Screaming Disaster.

I've got the lyrics to "There's Got To Be A Morning After" stuck in my head."

It's all the fault of the Times. Damn liberal newspapers. I was reading their review of The Day After Tomorrow, and the reviewer mentioned the song in the process of drawing a comparison between said movie and the disaster movies of the 70's. "Day After" is a sort of disaster movie, although of the more ambitious super-genre "end of the world movie." Strangely, although I adore end of the world movies in all their silly, hysterical splendor, I find disaster movies don't interest me so much. I have never sought out Towering Inferno. I didn't see the volcano movies of a couple years ago (though I was tempted: volcanoes are intrinsically cool).

I did see The Core, in which the world nearly ends after it's molten core stops rotating and the magnetic field of the earth goes away. It was awful, truly. Not a good movie in any sense of the word.

But it was fun, with big stupid science like asteroid-sized geodes in the mantle of the earth. And that scene in the beginning, where a pilot lands a space shuttle in the middle of Los Angeles was just silly-fun. But mostly I liked it because lots of fake people died horribly.

The Times, of course, does not approve of The Day After Tomorrow in which weather goes berserk. Damn liberal newspapers. I will go see it. Reviewers, I often think, are handicapped by thinking what they review is important. This is not so true with books, which sometimes are important. It becomes glaringly clear with movies and television reviewers, who are rarely talking about anything important at all.

The Times reviewer didn't like it because it was schmaltzy and the science is improbable. I will like it, mostly because the science will be bad, but in places wonderfully imagined, and also because lots of fake people will die.

I will have fun, and that's what the Times reviewer misses. Bad movies can be fun. In fact, bad movies can be fun-er, much in the same way that cartoons are better for the soul than homework. Though homework is better, in the long run, for job prospects.

The review over to is obtuse to the point of cluelessness.

Despite snowstorms in New Delhi, tornados destroying Los Angeles, hail the size of baseballs falling on Tokyo, Scotland becoming flash frozen, the royal family evacuating England and New York drowning in a tidal wave, the U.S. government still fails to act. Hall is reduced to pleading with the vice president in a Capitol Hill hallway, where he is dismissed as only one man with an unproved theory.

Which seems to me like a direct jab at the lack of imagination that many conservatives have about global warming. Whether you believe it's happening or not is one matter. Thinking that environmental precautions are liberal hysteria... I dunno. I think that's tunnel vision.

Another CNN article goes so far as to print some blathering quote from a scientist about how "he hopes none of us rubes think the movie's real." Duh. The concern about realness and fakeness is only of passing interest in movies. They're only two hours long, for crying out loud. Three if you're expected to be a real fanboy like for, say, the Lord of the Rings. Or Malcolm X. Realness can only take up so much room in movies.

If you want real, I can recommend, off the top of my head, many realer disaster books. Lucifer's Hammer. Dust (even has footnotes). Mother of Storms. Books are good.

Expecting realness out of movies is like expecting the truth out of your parents. In fact, I think expecting realness out of fiction is a form of cowardice. Every once in a while, when talking to people who don't like science fiction, they tell me that it's because it isn't real. Well... Jeez. Neither is Portnoy's Complaint, or One Life to Live, or Cold Mountain. None of it's real. It's fiction.

My love for the end of the world genre has something to do with scope (not the mouthwash, the sort of totality of scale), and something to do with being a mean person, deep in my heart of hearts. I don't mind seeing my enemies burnt in effigy. I consider it a sign of civilization that I stick to effigies.

Anyways, back to the real disaster. It's not even the regular version of "Morning After" stuck in my head. It's the fake version that Chef and his Succubus fiance sing together in that one episode of South Park.

Damn liberal newspapers.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

myWeek of teaching posts:

I was going to blather on about pop culture today. Maybe I'll do it next week, instead. After a curious series of classes the last week or so, I was completely surprised on the desk this afternoon. The head of the branches, the head of the Manhattan borough office, and the head of the Clickon program (along with the nice new head of training for the library) showed up and personally gave me a thank you note for teaching classes. Apparently, my aggregate rating as a teacher is an 8.07 our of 10.

Well. I am by nature a cynic. But, say what you want about compensation, having three of my bosses come down to say "thank you" made me feel very nice. And I think that's a feeling that will last for a while. Thank you back, Bonnie, Mary K., and Brook.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Ah, from the glorious highs of adult education to the abysmal lows. My class this morning was two people. I was teaching our electronic databases to them. Both were late, neither had strong internet skills, one kept woolgathering even though I was right next to him the whole time.

If it's free, it's worthless. Right?

Reading: Galilee, by Clive Barker, which I actually started reading years ago for Books to Remember, a list NYPL puts out every year. There were more memorable books, so I put it down again. I do like Clive Barker's books, though, and I am just now catching up.

I should say I generally like Clive Barker's books. I think Imajica and Weaveworld were more imaginative, and Sacrament was more thoughtful. I am finding myself alternately drawn in and bored by Galilee . The crushing load of detail reminds me of Anne Rice. The fetishization of the American setting (I mean, really the magicalization, not the abjectification) reminds me of American Gods, which I also think is a better book, because, fatness aside, it didn't dawdle so much. Also, my personal sympathies lie more with Gaiman's generally schlubby, hard pressed, working class gods than Barker's apotheotic gods. We shall see.

I think, however, having to put this down in '98 made me leary of picking up Abarat. Is that my loss?

Saturday, May 22, 2004

This morning I presented my best email class ever. Possibly the best beginner's email class ever given in the history of adult education. I had fifteen inexperienced people registered in an hour, and was able to go over the details of their email for another hour after that.

The last time I gave an email class, I hadn't even finish registering them after two hours. I thought I was being a crap teacher until somebody asked: what do you mean security question? For, like the eighth time in a row. Then I just gave up and rode the class down, like Major T.J. 'King' Kong in Doctor Strangelove.

The real problem with signing up a roomful of people who've barely used the internet for an email account is that some people are have a hard time catching on to the internet environment and some people don't. So a lot of people are sitting around bored and waiting for you to get to the next step, while you are explaining the current one to a few people, over and over.

This time, I had only one real problem case (and mind you, it was a language barrier, not an attitude problem) and two great assistants. We collectively rocked, I think.

Mostly, though, I got through by being kind of a drill sergeant. All said, nobody seemed bent out of shape. In fact, fewer seemed bent out of shape than when I mollycoddled my abortive previous class and ended up with nothing for the effort.

Yesterday we went to the Central Park Zoo with Poppy. This was not nearly as fun as going to the aquarium. I blame the commute: it took us three times as long to get out to Central Park and back than it did to Coney Island. And once there, we felt like we'd invested too much energy to turn right back, even though Poppy was clearly too worked up to enjoy anything. She wanted to wander: we couldn't, really. By the end of the petting zoo, she was hysterically screaming "naughty, naughty" at the goats because they wouldn't come close enough to get petted. Dude. Bad scene.

Bad parents that we are, we fed her hot, warm pretzel and thereby anesthetized her for the trip home. Well, it wasn't Benadryl. She was, unfortunately, much better company asleep yesterday. She did learn a new word: Mon-KEY. Like all words, it is fiendishly cute when exiting her face through her smile.

I changed the title of my blog, today. From Marginalia, to Whole Nother. As in, thing.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

We are now the proud owners of a bottle of Bactine. For knee scrapes on the playground. Not our knees: Calliope's. I don't run on asphalt anymore.

Ruby told me this and I was submerged in a mini-rush of nostalgia, which conflated Mercurochrome (which is now banned, I understand), rich, lurid red stains on my boo-boos (which is part of Calliope's lexicon), Bactine, and of all things Ovaltine, which I used to use as an ice cream topping. I think perhaps the -tine suffix gives words a cheerful, antiseptic quality. Perhaps we could solve the problems of adolescents worldwide just by calling them "tineagers."

My memory is the junk drawer of my life. I think that's why I like dollhouses so much. It is easy to furnish a life from scraps.

I haven't updated my reading: Dear me! I finished the SAMS Javascript book. It didn't improve my abortive javascript skills in any way at all. I seem to have this weird thing about passing values.

Reading: Feet of Clay, by Terry Pratchet. I have been meaning to read Discworld for awhile. My favorite GM in college was very strongly influenced by him. Ruby adores him. Though the Witch books are my favorite, I liked this one. Vimes, Carrot, and Nobbes are a funny little trio in themselves, a little model of all the types of goodness in the human soul: reflexive, studied, and self preserving. I would recommend him to people who don't like fantasy, if only because he tells stories about mundane feelings using comical folkloric images.

Detroit: I do Mind Dying by Dan Georgakas and Marvin Surkin. This is a funny little book I've had sitting on my shelf forever. It's largely about Black union struggles in Detroit in the late sixties and early seventies. A little too serious for my tastes, and I was fully prepared to put it down if it was boring. But it's not: It's casual and engaging. I think what's really interesting me is that it extends my knowledge of Detroit, a city that I grew up around. I also keep imagining how my grandfather must have reacted to the events depicted therein (was he retired, yet?). I'm sure I don't really want to know, but it is strangely stimulating to think about.

ALA. FCC. PC Magazine. Who cares about any of that, though?

Monday, May 17, 2004

This weekend was very manly. Lock gave out in the door, so I had to modify the socket to hold a new one. Baby made our landlord install window guards, so we had to rearrange the bedroom to accommodate the air conditioner this year. Modem gave out on my crap-ass Dell machine, and I reseated the card to no result because I was sure that's the first thing they'd tell me to do. All very Tooltime, with drills and lifting and heavy duty extension cords involved.

So... tired.

In the process of all this hyper-activity, I discovered a nefarious plot to breed ice age dust bunnies under our bed. Nearly lost a toe to one of these atavistic menaces. Whoever is responsible for this dread scheme should be stopped.

Nunnle and Op-O-Zit. They are real words. One is baby-lonian for that thing on the playground climbing equipment that she can crawl through all by herself. The other is a eerily accurate parrot of the word opposite gleaned from her board book spectatorship. Calliope is really making an effort to copy new words that she hears. She talks a lot, often to herself when we are busy. She will recite "Doe-Gee." Over and over to herself on errands. "Doe-Gee, Doe-Gee, Doe-Gee." As if relishing the comradeship that ensues when she meets a new doggie. When she says "W," it sounds as if she is drowning in static, coming out something like dubba-blikt. I expect her to be a walking encyclopedia by summer's end.

I will miss her cheerful bickle-backle, which still comes through in dogged attempts to communicate things neither of us are really able to understand. The best bickle backle seems to copy the form and syntax of English, with no connection to actual words, making it sound like mirror-universe speak.

She is also very much a Cheery-Head lately.

Somebody named Mowgli signed up to use a computer today.


Friday, May 14, 2004

Thing 1:

I don't usually do this kind of thing. Really. But we like Ed in our house.

Go easy on that.
You will drink too much gin. Not the worst way to
die, but you won't remember too much of your
life. Hey, at least you made some people laugh!

What horrible Edward Gorey Death will you die?
brought to you by Quizilla

Thing 2

People make themselves up as they go along. I think that's great. I think authenticity is a highly overrated concept, like natural-ness. If it exists, it's natural. Becoming authentic just means importing somebody's else's aesthetic. By my own definition, however, people reinventing themselves as authentic are performing the same personality chore, and should be applauded. I just wish the word authentic would go out of use. It is so outside of human experience as to be stunting.

Thing 3

I'm a political ignoramus. I freely admit it. I know less about politics the more time goes on, and I generally prefer it that way.

That said: Yesterday on the news, CNN mentioned that the Bush administration is withholding more pictures of the Abu Ghraib abuse because publishing pictures of prisoners in humiliating poses is illegal according to the Geneva conventions. I personally think this is one of the sleazier evasions of the Bush administration. The conventions were drafted to hold countries accountable for their behavior, and the administration is using them to avoid accountability by withholding information from U.S. citizens.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Ruby loves the great Christian fantasy writers: Tolkien, Lewis, L'Engle.

I read the last two, as a teenager. I have yet to get into Tolkien, but I like the movies. Even the cartoons, which I guess are otherwise universally despised.

The only one of them I really share her fascination with is Lewis. I think he was a prude, and he harps on atheists. But he is immensely clever, using beautiful images, and has a very sophisticated way of handling the divide between faith and intention. He is a great writer. He isn't a lazy thinker.

I distrust what I remember of L'Engle, which is admittedly little and supplemented by Ruby's avidity.

"Bounce the ball, Charles Wallace."

Watching the Disney movie of "A Wrinkle In Time" last night, Ms. L'Engle impressed me as a sort of neo-Manichian. People are so dismissive of their bodies.

Ruby says the movie doesn't do the book justice. This interview also goes a long way towards dispelling that impression. She's obviously lived passionately.

I did find this irritating:

"So to you, faith is not a comfort?

Good heavens, no. It's a challenge: I dare you to believe in God. I dare you to think [our existence] wasn't an accident."

Now, come on. Why not a triple dog dare, if she really wanted to emphasize the point?

Reading: I picked up Contacting Aliens, the guide to David Brin's Uplift universe. Usually, I'm not fond of "the world of books." I like series and series authors, but I'm more interested in my own dollhouses. However, Mr. Brin's Uplift universe is very compelling to me: It seems a very logical way to organize a random universe over the very long term. It is also richly detailed, with great cascading uplift linneages.

Several years ago, a friend of mine pointed out that alien and fantastical races are often simply extensions of human character types. The Gruff, independentnt dwarf. The aesthete elf. I think Brin does this one better by making his alien cultures such specific representations of weird personality types that they sort of transcend the limitations of the genre. It is a sort of allegory, which is rare in science fiction.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

So, I am often on the desk and subject to a conversation that goes like this:

Patron: Do you have time on the internet?

Me: I can give you an appointment at 3:30.

Patron: You don't have anything earlier than that?

Me (This is fictional. It has never happened.): Yes, I do, but I really hate that sweater. So I'm not going to give it to you. By 3:30 I'll be off the desk, and I won't have to look at it. Now go away, I'm just about to finish my Hearts game.

Really. What kind of question is that, anyway? Of course I don't have anything earlier than that. If I did, I would say so. What kind of odd little algorithm do they think I'm running in my head?

"If I tell them there's appointment's available one hour after the next available appointment, then there will always be appointments for Beyonce when she comes in. And then, the mice will reward me."

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

I was reading to the kids on Thursday, and I started thinking about sharing children's entertainment with your own children.

"The Experts" say that you should watch television with your kids, and until children learn to read, you pretty much have to read with them. So children's entertainment is obviously a interdependent activity for many years of both a child's and parent's life. On the other hand, it seems that children's entertainment is one of the few things that is universally despised. People bitch and moan about how dumb Barney and the Teletubbies are.

Of course, they are children's television.

Anyway. I really enjoy reading to Calliope, though admittedly not over and over. I like watching Boo-Bah and Teletubbies with her, also. Boo-Bah is my favorite. I find it relaxing, and the colors are pretty. It is vaguely psychedelic, which I imagine appeals to elemental pattern making structures in kids brains: Bright colors, kinetic shapes, simple movements, and broadly mimed facial expressions.

I suspect a certain level of cartooniness really helps children and adults to share entertainment. A coworker passed along a couple of review copies of books by Charles Fugee, and I really enjoy their simple storylines and engagingly kinetic art. So does Poppy. Sometimes I Like to Curl Up In A Ball taught her how to stick out her tongue. With gusto. Sandra Boynton is very similar in character, if simpler in art. The art in Jan Brett's books is lush enough to appeal to me while reading to my kid.

Calliope loves books, even if she doesn't quite get them. She uses them to enhance her store of images, mostly. She's only just beginning to recognize when we deviate from the storyline. I tried to sing her a book to the tune of a Barenaked Ladies song the other day. She was offended that I was trying to pull one over on her. Sometimes, she tries to read back to us... pointing at the lines on the page and reciting: "Ya, ya, ya, ya, ya."

It is especially amusing when she sees graffiti on the construction sites around our home.

Reading: SAMS Teach Yourself JavaScript in 24 Hours, at around two chapters a day. This means I am reading nothing else for a couple of weeks but old magazine articles after I've finished a chapter on the train. Mostly various Poets and Writers articles, and some science articles in Time.

I do this because I will not read the book in my free time at home (that's for watching movies and writing short stories and gaming articles to drop in the black hole of submissions). I cannot read more than a chapter on the way in and a chapter on the way home. If I try to read two chapters on one leg, I will mix them up before I have time to do the exercises. So I have to fill the spare moments with something. Therefore, I catch up on my magazine reading.

I like the SAMS books. I learned HTML from them. I've started the JavaScript once before, but this time it's taking. And two other books have failed to pound it through my thick skull.

I have no idea why I try to read programming books when I am so bad at actually learning from them, but I do. It is a kind of masochism that also drives me to read physics without having the math to really understand it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

My dad made me learn how to type. If I have any chance of becoming a writer, it will be all his fault.

I thought of this today when teaching an internet class. So many older men and women have no typing skills at all. Mind you, I'm quick but probably not all that accurate. But what skill I have certainly helps. I even had one older woman tell me she never learned to type, when I tried to get her to use the internet, and managed to sound affronted.

Ruby suggested that was because many older women see it as menial, secretarial work, and would never have learned as a matter of class consciousness. I imagine that would be a given for most men.

Along came PCs, and it turns out that it's the simplest and most effective way to transfer information. I nearly missed out on that one... one typing class, with a D. But the skill stayed with me and grew over time. Papers in college. Novels as an adult. Chat rooms, whatever. All from QWERTY. More fool all of us.

I guess there are plenty of people who never learn to type, even still, hunting and pecking, or texting,and even getting quite speedy at it.

I suppose when voice recognition software is perfected, typing will go away forever. Eventually.

But in the meantime, thanks Dad.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood. No, I'm not going to make any inappropriate suggestions: your affections are your own. But it is really lovely out. So why am I blogging from my gloomy office that used to be a holding cell, and not drinking my coffee on the stoop, breathing the silky air and watching the people traffic in the West Village?

Because of this: Calliope's own laugh is beautiful. When we are rough housing it bubbles up out of her in tinkley little squeals. But she is trying to laugh like mummy and daddy, so when we are laughing she sometimes join in with a mock laugh, a calculated Ahhh-HA! It sounds a little bit like Mr. Hanky-Poo from South Park.


Also, when she takes a bubble bath, she puts on a little goatee that makes her look like Evil Kirk, from Star Trek. Whenever I see this, I hear the Star Trek fight music, though I'm pretty sure that's from a different episode.

She's such a lovely little fuzztroll, even deep in the throes of two-ness. And I had to share it, even if it's with nobody.

Monday, April 26, 2004

We went to the New York Aquarium yesterday. Poppy blew kisses at the walrus and made jelly-fish faces, puckering up and blowing her cheeks out. It was so cute, I think she burned my retinas. She also mauled every stuffed toy in the gift shop, leaving with an otter that makes shrieking noises.

She has settled into her terrible twos with aplomb, weeping mercurially. Her tantrums are mercifully short (though I'm not there for most of them. I imagine they seem longer and longer as the day does on). What surprises me is that, as crabby as she can be, she always seems to want to please.

Reading: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J.K. Rowling. The new movie is almost out, so of course I must make myself ready. I'm getting a little tired of the formula at the front of the book, where Harry needs to have a reason for a dramatic exit from his grotesque, horse faced, fatty muggle relatives' home. I'm a muggle, after all, and I'm finding all that muggle stereotyping mildly offensive. Otherwise, it's a fine read, although I think the first two built suspense better.

The Bat Poet, by Randall Jarell and illustrated my Maurice Sendak. This is a tender little tragedy about a bat who learns to be a poet and then forgets again. Sort of like Flowers for Algernon, which I apparently always thought was a tragedy for the wrong reason. Really, it's about the struggle we all go through as writers to balance the need for an audience against the need for a place to be. It isn't a book I would give to a child, not because it's awful (I always liked awful books), but because it's maudlin, and I don't remember really enjoying maudlin fiction until junior high, at which point the fuzzy animals might have turned me off.

Friday, April 23, 2004

I normally don't like superhero satire much. Making fun of superheros is like shooting fish in a barrel, and there's already a sort of general humor in the genre that lends it its sweetness.

My review committee, Best of Reference, suggested superheros as a theme this year. We do presentations to our co-workers, which often resemble boy scout skits gone amok, and are generally pretty entertaining. I took advantage of my vast store of geek idioms to create a superhero satire, the Mighty Index, who explored the value of various reference books and websites. He even guested in another skit. A cross-over, if you will.

It was an act of supreme laziness, to take advantage of my acculturation that way. I wore long underwear and a towel as a cape. Hanging out with your co-workers in your underwear is feels queerly suave (though I don't suspect it looks so from the outside).

Reading: Roadmarks, by Roger Zelazny, a time travel novel about a highway that runs up and down through time, and the motley robots, assassins, truckers, villains, and dragons that travel it. It kitchen sinks, borrowing willy nilly from every genre. My favorite bit was the crusader washing windshields at a rest stop. I picked it out of Ruby's pile of books because it had a picture of a pickup truck driving past a green and white highway sign that said "last exit to Babylon." I get a kick out of a well turned-out anachronism. It is a fun read, and I hope it wraps up as neatly as it is promising.

Also, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume 2 by Alan Moore. This is definitely a kill-your-darlings kind of story. It was a fun read, but morbid. I think the first was a better story, but this was more beautiful, especially the first chapter, which is almost entirely set on Mars.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

I walked into work today and was told that all the computers had been upgraded. The most stunningly petty bureaucratic decision in the library's history was to freeze our desktops so that we can't put pictures on them. Uniformity is more professional, apparently. I guess we'll have to go back to the office personalization beta software: pinups and picture frames.

They did, however, put the games back in the programs menu, which I think was a weird sort of trade concerning professionalism.

A co-worker asked if Google could be added to the task bar, but was dismissed by the technician upgrading our computers. "You guys may be technologically savvy." He said, "But other librarians don't even know what Google is. They'll just look at the link, and ask 'What's that for?'"

It's good to know your service population.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Physical Comedy

I am very grateful for the glorious weather today. To whom? Whomever. Walking through midtown was a joy.

I saw Freddy Vs. Jason the night before last. I have aged in and out of slasher flicks. I finally decided that I like the funny ones.

I have a very dry sense of humor. Extremely mechanical in nature. When you come right down to it, the body is just another machine. This means that, to me, slasher movies are a kind of cartooning.

Charles Addams was inarguably the smoothest perpetrator of dark little cartoons. But slasher movies, especially the really crass extensions of the Freddy and Jason franchises, are the same genre. They work cheap little moral equations to desensitize you to the fate of their characters, and then kill them in over the top ways.

I don't really empathize with the characters in action movies, much, anyway. I work hard to not suspend my disbelief. They are actors, after all. They are paid to take pratfalls. And no live animals were hurt during filming.

So I think it's okay when absurd things happen to effigies. Like getting eaten by a house-sized lizard, or having a flaming machete tossed through your ribcage.

Yes, awful things happen to good people. But slasher movies aren't even about the kind of accidents celebrated in the Darwin Awards... shameful tragedies that either could have been avoided with three seconds of thought, or couldn't have been avoided for all the luck in Ireland. They exhibit a kind of surplus death. Like televisions being thrown off buildings, the paper dolls in slasher flicks aren't just killed, they're really killed. I mean a flaming machete? How dead does the guy have to be for the purposes of story?

But in slasher movies, they must get really dead. There is no room for subtlety in the genre. None at all.

Actually, in regards to this, Freddy Vs. Jason was kind of a disappointment. The paper doll deaths were largely lackluster. Seeing the titular characters carve each other up was pretty doofy... they are, even in the half logic of the genre, already dead... and as the ending alludes, they can't die as long as Hollywood cares to resurrect them.

The best example of the genre that I've seen, I think, is Final Destination 2 with its Rube Goldberg deaths. Other notables include Dead Alive, Jurassic Park 3, and Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday.

At the end of the day, I think it is very civilized that we throw our Christians to CGI lions.

Monday, April 19, 2004

I went to the park with Calliope and Ruby yesterday. We chased balls, went on the slide. Well, Calliope did, anyways. I'm too big for the slides anymore.

The first time we put her on a slide in the park, lo these many months ago, we had to tempt her to scooch off the edge at the top, and then she'd hang on, dangling and twitching, until we convinced her to let go and plummet, smiling like a jack o lantern, into our arms.

Now she pushes off as soon as we put her up. She was so quick yesterday she pushed off before I could catch her and ended up on her butt on the rubber mat at the foot of the slide. Which she loved.

She fell and smashed her lip on her ball three times in thirty seconds, protesting "Down, Down" each time we picked her up to blot the blood. The third time she was wiggling to go back and play, but we decided that our nerves couldn't take it anymore and headed home. She is tough. We are fragile.

Still and all, I had a great time. The weather was wonderful. Calliope radiates energy like a little sun when she's having a good time.

What was really soothing was being around a lot of people. There is a point at which a crowd becomes a landscape. The noise and look of different people, both physically and sartorially, surrounds you and begins to blend until you are unaware of them as separate entities. They become a natural body of movement and rhythm, like waves or clouds or the sound of rain on the roof. The spent silly string on the asphalt added a dash of color. It was very pleasant. I worry less about the composition of the crowd, anymore, and just appreciate them for being there.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Coming up with ideas for something to write about everyday is a little bit difficult for me. Ideas, as everybody knows, come from thoughts. And I only have thoughts every week or so.

Perhaps it's just a matter of building up big, fat writing muscles, like I did that summer in college that I wrote gaming supplements for a crappy, fly by night gaming company.

Luckily, tomorrow is Sunday: I am never at work on Sunday, and do not need for scrape the insides of my skull like a dry inkwell because I've only promised myself to blog the days I am at work.

One of the great things about age is that I can really flap my jowls now that the skin has loosened up. This amuses Poppy. It also makes for a pretty good imitation of Lewis Black.

Friday, April 16, 2004


I believe in less and less as I get older. I have gotten comfortable with liking things, and not liking things. I find that refreshing.

Reading: The Wild Ass's Skin, by Balzac. He writes like Anne Rice. Some people may think that I am refuting it's quality, but I don't have the authority to do that. I know what I don't like, though.

Yes, I know that in fact Anne Rice writes like Balzac, using florid, endless descriptions and monologues. I stopped reading Anne Rice when she used a thirty page chapter to describe one character. Balzac's characters often say "In short," but never really mean it. Every page I turn, I feel as if a French midget is shouting "Declaim, declaim."

He was a good writer. It's obvious he thought a lot, and had a great number of opinions. But this novel strikes me as overwritten and directionless, like everything Ms. Rice has written post Vampire Lestat, and as pompous and picayune as any given political commentator. Which will be the pleasure of it for some people.

I am finishing it so that I can truthfully say I read Balzac.

Also the April 2004 American Libraries, which has a lot of pictures of expensive, beautiful new libraries. I recently visited one of the libraries shown, in Southfield, Michigan, and it really is a playground. A beautiful place to be.

As a reference librarian, I often wonder what library service is going to be like in ten years. Reference service is down. People think they can get everything they want from search engines, and it's a powerful perception. Probably, in fact, they don't want much. An uncomfortable amount of public library reference has been Consumer Reports and tax forms.

In any case, there's certainly a lot of money being sunk into library infrastructure, so something will be done with it.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Pop Culture

I believe there is a conspiracy to make television unwatchable.

Let me back up and say that I don't watch television much. I haven't watched a show regularly since Buffy went off the air.

I watch the news in the morning. I channel surf sometimes when I really need to let my brain lie fallow, often ending up on comedy central or VH1.

When CNN started running the ticker tape, I was mildly annoyed. It was like seeing something out of the corner of your eye. I would just catch the tail end of something interesting on the ticker as a segment I wanted to see started to run, or the beginning as the station was going to a commercial break.

But at least they were offering you a choice. Ticker or the TV: Pick your poison. That's sane, right? I mean, it's sort of odd to run competing information on the same channel. But, you know. Their call.

So, it really surprised me when VH1's Top 20 Video Countdown started running clips of commentary over their videos. I had started looking forward to catching up on my cultural literacy Sunday mornings, with the countdown. Only to find one dismal morning that VH1 had decided to deliberately obscure the subject of their show by having people talk over them.

The superimposed commentary is the hipper than thou variety modeled by I Love the 80's, which was the only thing playing on VH1 between approximately June of 2003 and January of 2004. Some small time comedian, media commentator, or whomever tells us what they think about a given topic. For I love the 80's, it was such topics as Dungeons and Dragons (which disappeared sometime after 1989, I guess. I mean, if you don't pay attention to the world around you much) and "Funky Cold Medina," a song which disappeared so completely after it was on the charts that I, who was listening to alternative rock at the time, was never even aware of it until I saw I Love the '80s. Sometimes the commentary is just a soundbite about how the non-star doesn't think about the subject much, after all. Which is actually anti-relevant.

I am so totally disinterested in what people I have never met, never seen perform, and have no reason to admire think about pop cultural ephemera, or anything else, that I Love the 80's often made me feel like my brain was being reformatted. I guess that's the point of channel surfing, right? But how many times can you watch I love the 80's? Apparently, some people can do it all the time, because that's how often VH1 ran it for a while.

And it's really the anything else that's the real problem. 'Cause I did watch I love the 80's. I grew up in the '80's. Sue me. I'm sort of interested. But now the format is spreading everywhere. To every subject.

Nothing can make celebrities less interesting than Starlicious Makeovers. It's almost anti-informative to do five minute spots on a famous person, and throw in random commentary from the peanut gallery.

I guess I figured I could just disown the "I Love The" format by tuning off VH1. Only to turn on Comedy Central last night and find The 100 Greatest Stand Ups proceeding very handily to make stand up comedy excruciatingly dull. Which, for me, is just the ashy butt of a slow burning but all consuming trend. I now cannot comfortably watch television at all, waiting anxiously for the other shoe to drop. I think to myself: "I want to watch Dave Attell... but... what if they replace South Park with 100 best yadda yaddas?"

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

My Life

We read to Poppy. One of the first things that we bought her when we brought her home was a board book. At some point she began reading back to us. When she sees something she recognizes as words, she chants "Ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya." It's an unmistakable droning imitation of a read aloud voice.

So heading up to the agency today for our six month check up, I was surprised to hear her start to read to me as I swung into the back seat of the cab. "Ya, ya, ya." I began to look around, and sure enough, somebody had graffitied on the back of the passenger seat, scrawling "fuck you" in big, square letters. I had to laugh. Good thing she can't read just yet.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

My Life

Poppy now has a tricycle. Her feet can't quite reach the peddles, yet. Ruby gets excited, sometimes.

Poppy loves her tricycle. She likes to sit on it. Even if it's not moving. Yesterday, she watched TV on it.

Monday, April 12, 2004

My Life

Well. Saturday, I won the stress lottery.

In the last two hours of the day, I had four angry patrons. I've had worse patron interactions. Heck, I've caused worse patron interactions. Much to my own distress. We are our own worst enemies.

It's rare that I'll get two in a day. But four... the odds just seem stacked wrong. Boy, was it exhausting. I'm having a hard time writing more, for fear of overstating the obvious.

So I guess I'm sticking with understatement. I suppose this will become a theme.

Upon arriving home, Ruby told me that she said a lot of uncivil things to a man who nearly drove his car over our daughter. Instead of apologizing, he called her other uncivil things. This is what often what passes for manners in Bay Ridge.

Reading: Door into Summer, by Heinlein. It has a piquant, kind of hard-boiled flavor to it. Sort of short, and sharp, and gritty, and witty. It reminds me of a early short story he wrote that was assigned to me in college, something about moving sidewalks, but more personable. It feels nothing like his later, phantasmagorical-allegorical stuff, like Number of the Beast, or Job.