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

:malicious user:

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

obsessive behavior over there has been updated.

so far amy's getting a two-song cd.
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Tuesday, March 30, 2004

beg. borrow. steal. repeat.
with apologies to scott-san for borrowing his idea, i've got a project stuck in my head. the idea of a 'spring' themed mix cd intrigues me, with the only problem being that i'm not a particularly springy guy. i'm much more the autumny/wintery guy. at best, i can be a spring-stormy, thunder-and-lightning-on-the-horizon kind of guy, but not so much the flowers blooming and easter bunny coming stuff.

still, i think i'd like to make a spring mix disc. i have a total of one songs in mind - birdland, as covered by bela fleck.

so help me out, if you would?

what song or songs would you include on a spring mix disc? if i get enough responses to actually fill a cd, i'll send a copy to everyone who contributes. if you're feeling particularly gregarious, mention this project on your own site, and i'll name my next-born after you.

thanks for coming through. i knew you would.
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Friday, March 26, 2004

surreallife
how i love this woman: ignoring the alarm to spend another half-hour snuggling.
why i love this woman: discovering that the coffee fairy came while i was in the shower and left a steaming cup of java on the bathroom sink.

concern: the big dirty garbage-trucky-looking truck in front of me labelled "connelly catering."
relief: realizing the truck is actually labelled "connelly carting."
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Wednesday, March 24, 2004

talkin' (mailbox) baseball
i have a theory about kids that play mailbox baseball, at least in areas of the country where we have real winter. i believe a large percentage of these bat-wielding sociopaths graduate from a life of drive-by whackings to a career in snow-removal. specifically, they become snow-plow drivers.

stay with me here.

if mailboxes have a natural (?) enemy, it is the snow plow. the wall of snow borne up by the plows as they clear the streets is nothing short of the slushy hand of god for the rural mailbox - the outcome is inevitable every time: the road is clear, the post remains at a sickening angle, and the container is gone, buried under several feet of dirty snow and ice. the postal carrier whizzes by in her truck, along newly cleared streets, with no need to stop. the hardware store owner goes to orbitz.com and reserves another weekend in the caribbean, ensured of a wave of suburbanites shelling out for replacement boxes.

i've moved three times in the last five years. all three abodes have had rural mailboxes. the first mailbox was decapitated five times in two years. after the last time, the town threw away the post and nailed the container to the wooden post-and-rail fence separating our yard from the neighbor's.

the second mailbox was safe only because it was set an illegal distance from the street. but the plow tracks paid witness to the fact that those plow drivers tried their best.

in our current home, in which we've lived since this past december, we've had the mailbox knocked off its feet three times. the most recent was this past weekend, after what i'm hoping was the last snow of the season. it took until late afternoon for the plowman to reap his harvest, and at that point the snow had mostly turned to melted mush, so you know that man had an agenda.

the nice thing about renting this house is that we have a fairly attentive landlord. his business is located on the property directly behind the house, so he's here almost daily, and he addresses our concerns in a fairly timely manner. thus our mailbox has been repaired three times this year within a day of its injury.

there is a certain ironic justice to our landlord repeatedly needing to resurrect the mailbox. his business, which as i have mentioned is based behind our house, is landscaping. this keeps him and his crew busy during the spring, summer, and fall months.

in the winter he drives a snow plow.
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songs from my funeral, part 1
rush - available light
alan parsons - old & wise
warren zevon - don't let us get sick
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Sunday, March 21, 2004

57 channels . . .
this weekend i've discovered that moving the flat-screen tv and 5.1 surround-sound system from the livingroom to the bedroom may have the effect of protecting said AV system from the inquisitive hands of an 11-month old.

it does not, however, make any improvement whatsoever in the quality of the available programs.
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Wednesday, March 17, 2004

sea change i
in part, this space exists as a record for my children, so that they may know me better through my opinions and my accounts of events. so that's one reason for the telling of this experience. there are other reasons, i'm sure, reasons that have to do with healing or exorcising, but those reasons keep escaping out the corners. i do know that this one will take time to tell.

there are souvenirs from the experience, evidence, aftershocks. they are there every day. the paperwork sits in a worn folder: scraps of hotel-room pads with names and numbers. photocopies of summons with gross errors in the details.

there is the paradigm shift that has occurred as well. i prefer not to travel. i have lost the desire to visit greece, ireland, and the southwest.

but the most obvious remnants exist across the topography of angel's body. the gills. the zipper.

after an extended long-distance relationship, angel relocated from virginia to new york to be with me. only a week or so after moving, we returned to virginia to collect the dog, and more importantly, to attend mouse's marriage by a justice of the peace. the next day, a sunny june afternoon, we packed up the dog and started back home.

for four years i had driven past the vfw bbq in delaware every other weekend, and imagined how good the fire-grilled chicken must taste, eaten at a picnic table by the highway. but i had always passed the stand after closing time. this time, the last trip this way for a long time, i knew, and the first time i had angel with me during the stand's open hours, we stopped for an early dinner. the dog, angel, and i sat and ate home-cooked chicken in the late summer afternoon, watching the lazy traffic. idyllic. dessert was already in the car: huge chocolate and marshmallow confections called star pies from a virginia bakery that was known for its delicious goods as well as its active employment of learning and developmentally disabled persons. i mention this meal because i still wonder how differently events would have unfolded if we hadn't stopped.

back on the road, we continued north out of delaware into new jersey, taking the turnpike up headed for new york. there had apparently been heavy storms earlier; the air was moist and the road was dotted with puddles. but now, just after 6 at night, the sun was closing on the horizon and the sky was almost cornflower blue.

somewhere around cherry hill, the turnpike dips down into a valley.

as we headed into the valley, the lone car a few hundred yards ahead of us disappeared in a cloud of water spray, and angel said to me, 'he's losing control.' the car reemerged a split second later, spiraling as it continued down the road. already braking, we hit the water as the station wagon came to a halt, straddling the two lanes of the turnpike.

hydroplaning now, we hurtled forward in space as time slowed down. i glimpsed down at the core of the steering wheel and incomplete thoughts about air bags started to surface. i looked over at angel as she pushed herself back in the seat, then back at the side of the station wagon rushing up to us. angel said to me matter-of-factly, 'we're going to hit him.'

and then we did.
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malodorous
it's wednesday night, and that means more excitement with "drug discovery" class. we sit at a large u-shaped conference table, while the professor sits in a tv at the end of the classroom. one of the students here was thoughtful enough to make popcorn and distribute it on three paper plates around the table. she placed one plate right next to me.

unfortunately, the smell of popcorn outside a movie theatre makes me sick. i politely thanked the popcorn-provider and moved the offending platter a few seats down, quietly explaining my aversion.

right before class commenced, a student arrived and took her customary seat next to me. she had apparently just bathed in perfume. a lot of it. the popcorn didn't stand a chance.

there is no polite way to pick up a student and relocate her.
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subliminal dissuasion
when i have a meeting in my office including people with whom i'd rather not be meeting, i play avant-garde jazz just above the threshold of hearing, making sure that the subwoofer is on.

the meeting is usually over within 5 minutes.
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Friday, March 12, 2004

life lessons
expensive vodka and cheap wine don't mix well.
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Sunday, March 07, 2004

sweet and sickening
first of all, yesterday was a fantastic day because dan's package came! the man's pastries are indescribably good, but the phrase "getawayfromthosethey'remine!" comes to mind.

and in other news...

this weekend i participated in the dumbing down of america. the first quiz of my drug development class was appropriately challenging. the second quiz evoked such an uprising of objections from the students that the instructor discounted it from the grading process. (in truth, although i did poorly, i didn't think it was unfairly difficult.) the third quiz was cancelled altogether. and this past wednesday we received the take-home midterm exam.

i was tempted to complete it in crayon. the professor himself assured us that he had had his wife - an elementary school teacher - review the exam, and she declared it "simple enough" to ensure the professor shouldn't get any death threats as a result.

the first 10 questions were multiple choice, taken directly from the class notes. the second half was a choice of two out of four essay questions, none of which were exceptionally challenging beyond requiring the ability to regurgitate class notes or magazine articles. only the last section required any real analysis. it was a "what's wrong with this picture" type question in which we were presented with an informed consent form that contained errors and omissions, which we had to identify and/or correct.

while i'm grateful for anything that isn't dishonest assisting me in maintaining the b average necessary to get my tuition reimbursed, i can't help feeling that the professor is caving in to the least common denominator. this is a graduate-level class, and even he expressed the opinion that there is a certain level of academic quality and rigor expected of himself and of us in return. i guess there is another lesson here, one that was the subject of one of the essay questions. sometimes, no matter the extent of the formal guidelines, laws, regulations, or rules laid out, written down, memorized, and repeated daily to ingrain principles into our heads and our lives, we capitulate.

we give in. we cave. we say, f*ck it. our morals and ethics take a back seat so we can be rid of the morons besieging us, or the obstacles in our way, or to circumvent delays and expenses.

if it's an individual choice that affects only that individual, that's one thing. but when it affects others who are relying on those responsible to hold up those principles, that's a different situation altogether. pressure causes us to surrender sometimes - it's almost inevitable. if you end up ashamed for yourself, or just feeling uneasy, you scold yourself in the mirror, and you move on. but when you let others down, others who had no say in the matter, that is reprehensible. that borders on unethical behavior.

my professor let me down, on a certain level, by failing to meet the quality standards that he told us he would maintain. the essay on the test (i'll print it here next week, after the tests are due), references accounts of today's clinical researchers who fail to maintain the ethical prinicples of medical behavior set forth by the nuremberg code, the declaration of helsinki, and the belmont report. the consequences of failing to maintain these standards are that sometimes people die.

and why do i rant about this now?

it's election year, people. what promises will be broken? and how will we react to those breaches of trust? and what will our reactions say about ourselves? and who in our lives will be watching how we react?
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Thursday, March 04, 2004

i hate you

planes collide. perhaps it was angel remarking the other evening that this song reminded her of my would-be ex. perhaps it was the ex calling with three days' notice that she needed $500. i don't know.

i'm not an athlete. i'm not an artisan of any sort. i barely write. collecting music is my hobby - what i do to relax. and so it is that someone recently described my obsession by saying, mel gibson on stick, bob, that is one muthah of a collection. (and "mel gibson on a stick" has had me smiling for days.)

yet no matter the extent of my collection, there have always been, and will alway be, four corners of my musical pantheon: pink floyd, peter gabriel, blue oyster cult, and the alan parsons project.

which pretty much makes me a prog-rock fool. so be it; i grew up in the 70's with five older brothers, listening to ELP and ELO, discovering Genesis, King Crimson, and all those other mellotron slaves. bombast. pomposity. i love it.

but app will always have a special place in my heart.

i am about to seriously date myself: i attended high school in a time and a place when it was fashionable to paint the back of your denim jacket in homage to your favorite band. there were guys with ramones jackets and def leppard jackets and bruce springsteen jackets. there was a fantastic tarkus jacket worn by one of my classmates. my friend lorraine, who wore the the nickname 'bo' (for 'burnout') like a badge, offered to paint my jacket for me. and while i might have chosen animals or e.t.l. (which my mother forbade), i instead elected this. and wore it proudly for three years.

today the jacket no longer fits. but it hangs honorably in my closet, still pierced with pins bearing logos by ultravox and kate bush and pg. the paint is cracked but bright. i don't know where lorraine lives today, but her artwork survives, bearing her signature of "bo '82".

jonatha brook has just released back in the circus, which contains a cover of a classic progressive rock song. i caught her version the other morning on city folk, on my way to work. the arrangement is sparse and acoustic, the polar opposite of the original overproduced version. but the lyrics were almost untouched. and once again, like a scent that reminds you of a certain day at an unexpected place where things were finally, incredibly, right, so right that years can't steal the memory away, i was reminded of why that band meant so much to me. why that song epitomized how a person could smile and tear your heart out while she smiled. how you could crush a person down to dust while shaking his hand. how much more powerful it is to be subtle than to be strong.

alan parsons and eric woolfson wrote the world's most beautiful hate songs. like a deceitful lover, they sound so reassuring, until you pay close attention. and you find yourself left naked, barren, exposed.

it was the best education i ever got during those years.

Don't think sorry's easily said.
Don't try turning tables instead.
You've taken lots of chances before,
But I'm not gonna give anymore.
Don't ask me.
That's how it goes,
Cause part of me knows what you're thinkin'.

Don't say words you're gonna regret.
Don't let the fire rush to your head.
I've heard the accusation before,
And I ain't gonna take any more.
Believe me,
The sun in your eyes
Made some of the lies worth believing.

I am the eye in the sky
Looking at you;
I can read your mind.
I am the maker of rules
Dealing with fools;
I can cheat you blind.
And I don't need to see any more
To know that
I can read your mind, I can read your mind.

Don't leave false illusions behind.
Don't cry cause I ain't changing my mind.
So find another fool like before
Cause I ain't gonna live anymore believing
Some of the lies while all of the signs are deceiving.

I am the eye in the sky
Looking at you;
I can read your mind.
I am the maker of rules
Dealing with fools;
I can cheat you blind.
And I don't need to see any more
To know that
I can read your mind, I can read your mind.

copyright 1982 alan parsons/eric woolfson
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Wednesday, March 03, 2004

swf seeks fmquvonm
i don't have aol in my house, because, despite my many failings, i still have some standards of behavior. one of the features that angel misses is the surplus of chat rooms for when you just feel like yapping. now that she spends her days caring for mouse-spawn, she misses adult conversation even more. so, if anyone can recommend a mature chat room that won't easily offend or shock, kindly lemme know.

thanks. all y'all are the best.
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i used to be disgusted. now i try to be amused.
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