"Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself. I am vast. I contain multitudes." -Walt Whitman

:malicious user:

Sunday, February 29, 2004


i've mentioned before that the felon occasionally stays with us. this is one of those occasions. he's working here in ny while he awaits a court date next month back in va. he's also looking for his own place, because he knows i won't let him stay here more than a few weeks.

mouse is a more long-term resident, although i hope no less temporary than her brother the felon. she and her son are staying here while she recovers from a bad marriage and an unexpected pregnancy. she has found work and companionship; now i'd like her to find lodgings elsewhere.

saturday i spent with my own kids, whom i am sure will one day give me (a) agita, (b) heart failure, and/or (c) grounds for homicide. for the time being, however, they are still innocent enough that we had a good day together at the park and walking through a nature reserve.

saturday morning i dropped the felon off at work. saturday evening he had not yet called for a ride. saturday night came and went without a word. at 2am sunday morning i said the hell with it and went to sleep.

sunday morning i called around at the hospitals and police stations. it nearly gave angel a heart attack when we learned that someone with his last name had been admitted to the ER the night before. luckily it turned out to be a woman named thelma. i was getting ready to drive around randomly looking for him when, at 10am sunday morning, he phoned for a ride. he'd gone to a coworker's house, had a bit to drink, and slept there. he'd forgotten to call.

i picked him up and drove him home in silence. he didn't seem to get the drift of the situation. for myself, i wasn't particularly upset with him. after all, he's an adult who is responsible and accountable for his own actions. but he had his mother worried sick this morning, and to me that was simply disrespectful. i'm big on respecting one's elders, whether they're right or wrong.

in the midst of this, i noticed that mouse had gotten a temporary tattoo on the back of her neck. (her beau is a fledgling tattoo artist.) the design was a symbol which was extremely offensive to my religious beliefs, and i told her so. she assured me it was temporary, and that it would be removed soon. still, the idea that she would bring such symbolism under my roof when i am providing shelter for her and her offspring was extremely insulting. it set my mood for the remainder of the day, which was one of resentment for the lack of appreciation these two siblings had demonstrated.

i took angel out later to run some errands with me. i took a walk alone through the woods behind our house. i made dinner for angel and myself. we went to bed.

the word of the day is, "offended."

Friday, February 27, 2004


Piles of albums callously void of shots
of first steps, birthdays, vacations,
amid montages of geriatric cases and wailing tots.
Absent, or invisible, among the generations.
A denial of existence, the thickest of plots.
Now, one last carousel projector. The screen, erected,
with the sound of robes tearing, is drawn: a casting of lots.

For years, this silent search, through the pitted
landscapes of unremembered past,
through recently gained memories of counterfeited
happiness; of sorrow and sadness buried fast
below the surface. O to be acquitted
of this proof, of too many years aloof,
tricked by emotions trained never never never to be admitted.

The room grows light, as gently laughing Ashtoreth
spreads palms from which no seeds are spilled.
The photographic record, the modern Shibboleth,
has failed. Now, a sound like a vacuum being filled,
a drop in the air pressure, a sudden sharp breath
drawn to fill a wasteland, leaving just a sour lingering taste
like the memory of a miscarriage, or the haunting of a crib death.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

freedom of choice?

this monthly observation from angel: on any given day, pick up women's day and family circle and compare the cover stories. it seems likely that both magazines are the same articles, merely recycled. for example, this month we have:

family circle
Giant Issue
Walk Off Fat!
Desserts Like Grandma Used to Bake
Save $100s at the Checkout
cover art: tulips

women's day
Giant Issue
Walk Off Weight
Our Most Popular Desserts
Moneysaving Tips
cover art: tulips

seems double-plus ungood, almost, doesn't it?

Sunday, February 22, 2004

shameless begging

so the very short version of the story is i'm currently housing an eight-week-old female kitten whose would- be owner bailed out, for which, as we all know, they are damned forever. since i am already housing (1) max, (2) falcor, and (3) mouse-spawn, i cannot afford to house anything else that exhibits routine physical metabolic functions. so i implore you, my single-digit readership, to help find a good home for the newbe. see here, here, and here for three good reasons to do so. mouse works at an animal shelter (which cannot take the cat due to overcrowding), so we can arrange spaying, shots, and feline leukemia/feline HIV testing for around $60. i'm in central long island. i can ship the cat fed-ex overnight if necessary.

email me at bmaddock[at]optonline[.]net.

and yes, i'm joking about the fed ex.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

in the company of men, part 2

he is a father, a husband, and, for many decades now, a software developer. it is my job to ensure that the software he and his coworkers create is developed using adequate methods, and is the appropriate product for the customer (did we make the right thing in the right way?). his methods are organized, well documented, and dignified. of his entire team, his processes most closely follow industry quality standards. you can tell he's been doing this for a while.

he's dying.

surrounded by cutting edge technology in a company that develops some truly wonderous drugs, his body is slowly being consumed by a relentless enemy. the disease has taken pieces of him already, has hidden quietly just long enough to let hope take root, only to attack again. he works as often as he can, arriving before anyone else, when the quiet office makes it easier to concentrate through the constant ache. he laughs bitterly at the mention of oxycontin addicts - the drug does nothing to abate his pain.

and bizarrely, i've watched him become the target of a warped discrimination. since he has made his situation known, some people treat him as if his condition were contageous. he has become leper outcast unclean. he is reprimanded disproportionately for small errors; he is a scapegoat.

he weathers the storms outside and within with a tired sigh and a slow shaking head. then he pushes on. i would have cursed the world by now and surrendered, defeated, and gone down in a pathetic cloud of bravado. but this ex-greaser, ex-hotrodder pushes on like a spartan.

this afternoon, at closing time, he was down on his knees in the parking lot changing a flat tire on his car. as he cranked the jack, i offered my assistance. he politely declined, even as he drew short of breath, turning the black handle around in the chilling air. i repeated my offer, reaching for the jack handle. the deflated man with the deflated tire stopped, and he half-smiled, half-grimaced.

and he very quietly said, "i have to do this."

i nodded. i gave a wave as i rose. i couldn't think of any other reply. i couldn't put it into words then, and i can't now, but i understood what he meant. he had no choice. he had to.

i left the man to his battleground.

Friday, February 20, 2004

in the company of men, part 1

i am not a sports guy. i have little interest in spectator sports. i am vaguely aware of my local teams' standings in their respective leagues/divisions, and only because it is part and parcel of the local news. i do not actively dislike sports, but, as a crappy athelete, sports have never been something i associate with a lot of pleasure.

you get the point.

i am also not a huge megamedia fan. beyonce or justin could walk into my house and i'd probably attack either one as a burgler before knowing or caring about their celebrity.

these two attitudes connect every morning during the newscast's sports segment. inevitably there are soundbites from the coach/manager/captain of the local team about the previous days' performance, and the soundbite is always a variation on one of two themes: "we did the best we could and we won," or "we did the best we could and the other guys won." (note that the speaker's team never loses - it's just that the other team wins.) it is the unrepenting sameness of these soundbites that draws my contempt for interviewing atheletes. were i the news director, i'd excise these segments and make room for 8 more seconds of daniel schorr. unless someone opened up with an ak-47 on the playing field, just tell me who won, tell me who lost, and shut the hell up.

today was no exception. the morning news blippit mentioned that the two local hockey teams had played the previous evening, that there had been 'some fighting,' and then the requisite soundbite from the losing team's captain. this is not exhilarating broadcasting.

late this afternoon, i received an email from my priceless friend drew. drew and i have much in common, but he is my polar opposite regarding sports. he will watch anything involving a score except opera. his email, with a subject line of "You Probably Don't Care About This," dove to the true heart of the previous evening's competition. it took me about the same amount of time to read as two or three soundbites. drew was typically gracious, and granted me permission to reprint it here:

Last night I watched the hockey game. It was the NY Islanders vs. the NY Rangers. Those of us who follow hockey on a regular basis know that even though these are two NY teams, they do not like each other. In fact, they have a deep hatred for each other. The Islanders will probably make the playoffs this year. The Rangers will not. Again. This does not sit well with them. With that said, last night's game started off rather uneventful. Then towards the end of the 1st period there was a little pushing and shoving and exchanges of pleasantries. The second period there was more of the same, including a couple of fights. Then came the last period. It was 5-2 in favor of the Rangers with less than 10 minutes left. Then, the Rangers scored again. One of them decided to celebrate a little too much and rub the impending victory into the Islanders' faces. This did not sit well.

Players started pairing off with players from the other team and fights started breaking out. Even the goalies got into it. Players were ejected.

There will proabably be suspensions handed out to a handful. Usually the way penalties are handed out are 2 minutes for a minor penalty, 5 minutes for fighting, game misconducts (in which the player is ejected) along with 10 minute game misconduct penalties. Last night there were a total of 118 penalty minutes handed out between the two teams. And most of this occurred in the last ten minutes. Very ugly. And to top it off, the two teams get to play each other one more time this year. Should be VERY interesting.

Sportscasters, take heed. There is a story behind the game. Don't interview people whose job is to compete, not communicate. Don't tell us the points, tell us the score. That's your real job.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004


i write this live from my graduate class in drug development. tonight's class began with a morale-crushing quiz. it's going downhill from there. because we are viewing the professor remotely through a projector hooked up to a videoconference setup, our room is fairly dark - so dark that the professor sees only a blackened room from his end.

the subject matter is so incredibly fascinating that, half an hour into the lecture, two students have slipped out under cover of darkness. there is also a second faculty member in the professor's room who is supposed to be observing the professor; he's doing much more interjecting than observing. unfortunately, the microphones at their end are nowhere near this second teacher. the result is a droning mumble that no one can hear. alas, no one is interested enough to inform the professor of this situation either.

i for one am writing this. and in the course of doing so, two more students have slipped out.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

surreal life

steve hackett - spectral mornings
norah jones - feels like home
mindy smith - one moment more
tortoise - it's all around you

it's been a busy bunch o' days, folks. the last two posts were, i confess, recycled bits intended soley to keep the bloggin' muscles from becoming completely atrophied. in the meantime . . .

the felon is back in town, and in the guest room. he's working to pay off everyone who posted his bail this last time, and looking for a place of his own. it's been almost a week, and he's been well behaved.

the cold from hell has receded back into gehenna, leaving me with slightly clogged sinuses and an affinity for homemade ginger tea.

i've gotten a new cell phone, which causes me some grief because i hate cell phones. i used to try to 'forget' my old one as often as possible. this one comes with that stupid batman utility belt clip that, next to my clip-on employee id card and vpn token, pretty much completes my image transformation from pseusogeek to heezageek. the only cool thing about it is that the seven digit phone number is a palindrome. it has about 30 ringtones, all of which suck, because i just want my phone to sound like an old fashioned phone ringing. i've already learned to loath beethoven's fur elise, thanks to nextel and suncom. i feel like an alternate version of alex from a clockwork orange, being conditioned to associate dreadful things with ludwig's genius. the sugar v has a phone which rings to mussorgsky's ballet of the chicks in their shells, one of my favorite pieces of classical music. given the wrong set of circumstances, i may throw his phone onto the LIE one day.

this needs saying: i am self-admittedly fashion blind. nevertheless, i have eyes, and i can declare this with a fair sense of certainty: women's low rise jeans - you know, the ones that fall below the hips in the front and way the hell below the hips in the back - should not be manufactured (much less worn) above size 7. there are way too many ladies out there bearing very little resemblance to, say, natalia vodianova, and much moreso rob the plumber. there is truly nothing sexy about seeing a full 14 inches of phosphorescent yellow buttfloss thong material poking up your coxis like a colorform tv antenna.

disclaimer: this does not mean that i think large(r) women are by definition unattractive or unsexy. don't even bother with comments to that effect, please.

so friday the 13th i'm getting dressed for work and i drop my comb. as i bend to pick it up, angel (who is much wiser than i) warns me to step on it, then pick it up and kiss it, lest i invite foul luck. 'ha!' i mock her folky wisdom, and unceremoniously stuff my comb into my back pocket, unstepped upon and most definitely not kissed. and off to work i go.

oh, at least wait for it.

i arrive at my office at my routine appointed time. i plop down the laptop case in its appointed plopping spot. i hang my coat on its appointed hook. then i unload the laptop into its docking station, fire it up as usual, and procure the java necessary for any human/human contact that i might be forced to endure.

returning to my office, i position my fingers in that cruel hand-yoga ctl-alt-del position necessary to launch the novell login screen, only to notice that the routinely present novell prelogin screen is not in its appointed location on my laptop screen. instead there is a very unfriendly black field with the very unfriendly message:

Failure of primary hard drive

even the font was unfriendly.

i rebooted. same unfriendly message.

i rerebooted. the message rereturned.

i undocked the computer, redocked it, fired it up again. ehhhnnn.

i placed a bravado-filled phone call to our support center and reported my situation. after the laughing subsided, they assured me a tech would be dispatched to assist me "soon."

a brief bit of leftover good karma surfaced when the manager of desktop services made a chance appearance in the hallway. we haggled. we bargained. we struck a deal. by the end of the day, i had my laptop back with a new hard drive. in return, i provided a copy of luther wright and the wrong's bluegrass cover of pink floyd's 'the wall.'

everyone has their price.*

saturday i went to jersey to see my kids. we had a great time spending hours and hours at an indoor playground full of climbing nets and big tubes and three-story-high corkscrew slides. the 'play structures' (as they are so imaginatively called) are verboten to adults, but i was overcome by the urge to recreate dallas's ventilation shaft scene from alien. i crawled up one of the tube slides and hid around a corner until my kids came through. it was cramped, but the screams and laughter were worth it. then i slid down the tube slide on my butt and contented myself with staying outside the play structure for the rest of the afternoon.

a few years back i got a palm vx palmpilot. i'm a terribly disorganized person - the kind who routinely loses his daily planner. the palm, mysteriously, actually suceeded where other organizers failed. it maintained my contacts, my schedules, a gazillion notes, birthdays, social security numbers, birthday gift ideas past and future, recipes(!), and a host of other obscure data. i carry it everywhere. it's even my morning alarm clock.

it was in my back pocket when i went bump bump bump down the tube slide. i suppose admist all the laughter and screams, i didn't here the palm's touch screen go crack-crack-crinkley-pop. but i discovered it later that evening. saturday the 14th.

sunday i got the new phone. i can't afford one with a built in pda, so i just got a plain old phone. it hasn't broken yet.

today, monday the 15th, i arrive at my office at my routine appointed time. it is like 15 friggin' degrees outside.

my id badge is broken. i can't get into the building.

stupid comb. stupid folk wisdom.

* in all honesty, there was no actual bribery performed. the manager was just doing his job. but he really did ask me for the luther wright stuff. and i really did have it.

Friday, February 13, 2004

hope chest

A cottage garden full in sunlight, full of pinks and reds and yellows and a thousand different greens; painted with birdsong in orchestral complexity and delicacy; everywhere a bouquet of sweetness and pungencies.

She is here amidst it all, in a white and cornflower blue dress that reaches almost to the grass and flagstones. She is smiling, surrounded by the garden and myriad reasons in it to smile. She appreciates every gift here, she sees, smells, tastes, and she knows there are more at every step.

She holds a ball.

Sometimes the ball is glass, mirror in silver or blue or green. Sometimes it is porcelain. Sometimes it is wood, inlaid or plain, mahogany, walnut, pine, oak. When she was younger it was often rubber or plastic, with yellow and blue stripes. Sometimes it is the size of an orange, sometimes a plum, sometimes - again, especially when she was younger - it is the size of a child's toy.

Today it is crystal, the size of her fist. It reflects rainbows in its facets, and the brilliance of the ball rivals the wildflowers cascading down the terraced slope before her.

Still smiling, she holds up the ball at arm's length in front of her face. Slowly, she looks around at the wondrous beauty, the calming, flowing richness of the scene. The ball rests in her palm.

There is a pinprick hole in the sphere, barely perceptible. And into this hole the garden is quickly and thoroughly taken. Absorbed.

It takes only a moment.

The garden remains. The flowers, plants, trees, statues, fountains, birds, squirrels, the sun, are still there. But something of them is gone now, stolen into the orb in her hand. The birdsong is somehow less exuberant; the sunlight somehow greyer; the arrangement of flowers and pathways and fountains somehow no longer quite fitting as seamlessly and aesthetically as they had a moment ago.

She turns and leaves the garden, carrying the ball, and in it everything of the garden that was idyllic.

She has done this many times. The ball holds within itself great masterpieces of art, the curves and angles of incredible sculptures, the brilliant lines and colors of countless galleries, the heart-breaking sounds of centuries of song; behind her trail dusty contraptions of mineral and mud, framed pictures that leave no lasting impressions, noises that fail to stir emotions.

And keeping company there in the sphere, ideas and philosophies, stories and convictions, once held by persons now forgotten or considered - even by themselves - to be dullards at heart.

She cannot say what the ball takes. She does not think wrong of her doings. She is collecting these qualities, these characteristics. She will have a home one day, somewhere that will be at the end of these many years of travel. When she arrives, she will place the ball at the center of her world, and let it release its contents. She will thus furnish her days with endless moments and spaces of beauty, charm, of all she has ever desired or found pleasurable.

In the meantime, the sun sets into a sapphire ocean, turning the sky fiery crimson, gold, orange, and, higher, a velvet amethyst. The rays reach from the horizon across the waters, riding the waves heaving themselves exhausted onto the shore, and reflect off the smooth marble sphere in her lap.

Saturday, February 07, 2004


the night
the rain
the staccato tattoo of water on glass

the night
the rain
your skin
ghost white
fluorescent spotlight through broken glass

the night
the rain
has soaked your
second skin
shivering taunt flesh

the night
the rain
the heat
the shelter of the greenhouse
was your idea first,
it seems

it seems
your skin
like an invitation
that i cannot refuse

the night
the rain
the sussuration
of your breath
all i hear

my lips
on your skin
the heat
your skin
the steam
on your skin
in the rain
in the night

copyright 1998 rjmaddock

Thursday, February 05, 2004

get behind the mule . . .

work has become so incredibly hellish that i have started answering the phone with 'third circle of hell, beelzebub speaking, how may i direct your soul?' the fact that my throat is now so completely beaten by this cold-that-will-not-die kinda helps with the demon voice. i sorta sound like a hungover tom waites.

if i could only speak more than four words without collapsing into a fit of coughing, i'd slay 'em at karaoke night. is heartattack and vine even available at those places?

btw, i finished above the mean on last night's quiz. seems the high score was 150 (3 students nailed that extra credit), and the low score was 30 (3 students nailed the bottle, apparently). one suspects these are the students behind the prof's email requesting that we refrain from 'communicating in less than professional tones' with him. rowr.

that's all she wrote.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

live from ny, it's night school.

741pm. first quiz of the semester over. 90. sh*t. there goes the A. i am learning (?) about combinatorial chemistry. not because i want to help you live better lives through drug discovery. not because i am so thoroughly geeky that this actually interests me. i'm learning about it because i want a bigger raise. i want to help me live a better life through enhanced income.

looks like bryan is having a similar night.

Monday, February 02, 2004

i do not care about miz jackson's breast
i do not care about the pat's victory
i do not care about the bird flu
i do not care about martha's trial

what is important to me right now is that i finally have a box spring again. i can sleep the sleep of the chiropractically well supported.

good night.

i used to be disgusted. now i try to be amused.
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