Wherefore Art Thou, Donovan?

Some days a girl just needs to hear "Season of the Witch" and not some crappy attempt by Robert Plant, which is so non-creepy that I bet it embarrassed Jimmy Page just to think about it.

And yet, I’ve wasted my whole lunch hour looking for a free version to download.  No such luck.

Still, now I wonder how Hole’s version is.  

I can’t help it.  I know the woman is crazy.  I still love her…

…from far, far away. 

Tiny is Not So Tiny!

Speaking of very young U.S. citizens, I just got word that Tiny made his grand entrance on Saturday at just over nine pounds (which, as the Shill points out, is not so tiny).

For reasons not quite understood by me, he’s been named after our twelfth president.

Aw! Look at that hat! Look at that nose! Can you believe the Shill baked something so cute up in her uterus? It’s weird and amazing.


Anchor Babies?

A bunch of us got together last night to talk about immigration and to listen to Claudia Nunez* and her lawyer talk about her case.  Some of the guys who were there have already blogged about it and I imagine that the rest of them will get around to it soon enough.

Objectively, the situation sucks.  Nunez is from El Salvador originally, a country that has now become overrun by maurading gangs of thugs who prey on the recently deported, because it’s assumed that they have money or connections back in the U.S. to money.  She didn’t apply for whatever she needed to apply for when she needed to apply for it and now she’s living here illegally.  Her husband is here legally and her two children are U.S. citizens.

She got a traffic ticket for driving without a licence and had to appear in court.  For whatever reason, they ran her through some database and her status was discovered.  She has no real recourse, it doesn’t sound like.

And that sucks.  Not to be flip about it, but she fucked up by not navigating the bureaucracy correctly and she got caught.

I have a lot of sympathy for her, because bureaucracies are hard to navigate and I’m sure it’s hard to keep track of what you’re supposed to fill out and when.  As Sarcastro points out, sending her back home is probably a death sentence.  That just seems crazy.  We’ll send you to your death because you suck at filling out paperwork.

And there doesn’t seem to be any mechanism to insert some measure of mercy into the system.

All that sucks.

But what’s really appalling to me is that her daughters are U.S. citizens.  They were born here.  They go to school here.  They live in this community.  They are us.

Don’t U.S. children have a right to their parents?

God, can you see where this just grosses me out?  The U.S. government is either going to send these girls’ mother to a living hell (and imagine that, if you will, the government sending your mom away) or the whole family will go together to a country our own government describes thusly:

The U.S. Embassy considers El Salvador a critical crime-threat country.  The homicide rate in the country increased 25 percent from 2004 to 2005, and El Salvador has one of the highest homicide rates in the world.  Both violent and petty crimes are prevalent throughout El Salvador, and U.S. citizens have been among the victims.  Travelers should avoid carrying valuables in public places.  Passports and other important documents should not be left in private vehicles.  Armed assaults and carjacking take place both in San Salvador and in the interior of the country, but are especially frequent on roads outside the capital where police patrols are scarce.  Criminals have been known to follow travelers from the international airport to private residences or secluded stretches of road where they carry out assaults and robberies.  Armed robbers are known to shoot if the vehicle does not come to a stop.  Criminals often become violent quickly, especially when victims fail to cooperate immediately in surrendering valuables.  Frequently, victims who argue with assailants or refuse to give up their valuables are shot.  Kidnapping for ransom continues to occur, but have decreased in frequency since 2001.  U.S. citizens in El Salvador should exercise caution at all times and practice good personal security procedures throughout their stay.

The U.S. Embassy warns its personnel to drive with their doors locked and windows raised, to avoid travel outside of major metropolitan areas after dark, and to avoid travel on unpaved roads at all times because of criminal assaults and lack of police and road service facilities.  Travelers with conspicuous amounts of luggage, late-model cars or foreign license plates are particularly vulnerable to crime, even in the capital.

Travel on public transportation, especially buses, both within and outside the capital, is risky and not recommended.  The Embassy advises official visitors to use radio-dispatched taxis or those stationed in front of major hotels.

U.S. citizens using banking services should be vigilant while conducting their financial exchanges either inside local banks or at automated teller machines.  There have been several reports of armed robberies in which victims appear to have been followed from the bank after completing their transactions.

This is a place we want to send very young U.S. citizens to?

This is the part that kept me up last night–trying to imagine what I would do if I were Nunez.  Would I go back to a country where I no longer knew anyone and where I would face grave peril by myself?  Wouldn’t I want my husband there with me?  Isn’t that the point of having a spouse, so that you have someone to do the most difficult things you have to do with you?  And if my husband comes with me, do we bring the children with us or leave them here?  We might never get back into the country.  If you knew you were never going to see your kids again, who would you trust to raise them?  Or do you take them with you because, no matter what, you’re a family first?

I just can’t imagine.

It seems to me that those girls have a right to the guardianship of their mother until they are 18 and that there ought to be some way to work the system so that we’re not tearing families apart or sending young U.S. citizens to live in dangerous countries that even their parents are afraid of.

I have to say that until last night, I really thought there was something to this “anchor baby” nonsense.  I hadn’t really looked into it, but it just seemed like a way people here illegally might game the system.  Have some kids who are U.S. citizens and get to stay here for humanitarian reasons–not because of our great compassion for you, but because of our great compassion for our own countrymen.

So much for that bullshit.



*It would be nice if Squarespace let me put a t~ over the n, but it won’t so you’re just going to have to imagine it there.

Happy Birthday, Bubbles!

The recalcitrant brother and I wanted to name the youngest in our family “Bubbles.”  For some reason, even though the tie should obviously go to the cutest, we were not allowed to pick out the Butcher’s name, and instead, he got an enormous name that only Biblical scholars can spell right on the first try.

It’s funny.  I have an easy enough time complaining about him when it’s warranted, but when I sit down to try to say nice things about him, it’s really hard for me.  What can you say about a man who left his home so that you could follow your dream?  Where do you even start?

I owe him, in part, for all of my success. 

I love that guy.

Happy Birthday. 

The Art of War

I bought The Art of War to read on the airplane, but I’m looking at the translation available from Project Gutenberg and think I got ripped off.  The free version is much better, it seems.

I go back and forth about education standards.  I really do think that every kid in the United States ought to come out of high school with a certain level of knowledge.  I don’t know exactly what that level should be, but I have some ideas.

I think that if you have a high school diploma, that means that you should have read and know the Constitution, Hamlet, and Huckleberry Finn.  You should have a basic knowledge of home ec–how to balance a check book, how credit cards work and how to understand interest rates, how to cook some basic meals and how to sew on a button and fix a hem.  You should have some level of mathematics proficiency and a basic understanding of biology and chemistry.  You should be able to type and to write basic logical sentences and paragraphs.  You should have some basic skills in a language other than English.

And now I’m pretty convinced that you should be familiar with The Art of War

I keep thinking about Maya Angelou on Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous talking about how people don’t really want change; they want exchange.  How they don’t want to dismantle racism or sexism or whatever other -ism; they just want to be the folks on top.

That has stuck with me eleven years.  I don’t really know if I think Angelou is that great a thinker or a writer, for that matter, but that’s got to be some of the wisest stuff I’ve ever heard.

Because the temptation is always there–to be hurt and angry all the time, to say "you’ve dicked me over as hard as you can and now I’m going to fuck you up in return."

Let’s just think about this in terms of sexism.  Men, in general, have an expectation of being heard and responded to when they speak.  And, frankly, it’s annoying when you’re trying to have a good discussion and over wanders someone with a penis who just butts in like he’s due an audience and starts talking like whatever you were talking about was not that important and anyway, he’s got an opinion on it that will clarify the whole situation and he’s going to spout it.

And the temptation is great–I occasionally succumb to it–to just meet that with an attitude of "It is not your place to speak about my experience so shut the fuck up."  See?  "You continually silence me with your fucktarded behavior, therefore I will, when I get the opportunity, relish in being able to silence you."  Woo, it feels good.

But it’s not fixing anything.

I don’t think.

I don’t know.  I’m not that far in The Art of War.  Maybe revenge does serve some purpose.

But I don’t think so.

No, I take that back.  I think revenge helps perpetuate certain structures.  I think it helps strengthen and codify how things are.  Revenge is not revolutionary, because revenge–hurting you as bad or worse as you hurt me–can only be understood under the current paradigm.

If you broke my brother’s arm and, to get even, I made you a chocolate cake, that would be weird.  Revenge, in order to be meaningful, must call on the current understanding of how things work.  You break my brother’s arm; I run over your mom.  Violence is met with escalating violence.  Hegemony is reinforced.

But if you’re really looking to change things, I think the first thing you have to do is to refrain, if at all possible, from taking revenge.  If you’re working towards some other way of relating to people and being related to, you have to be willing to do that work, right there.

Do you see what I’m saying?

If you want men and women to see each other as equally human, if you want sexism to come to an end, if you want the patriarchy to crumble at your feet, you have to live in the world like you want the world to be, like you’ve already shifted paradigms.

You have to be willing to let go of the immediate reward of revenge in order to work towards the goal of real change.

I don’t know that that’s always possible.

Maybe most of the time it’s not.

And, to tell you the truth, I’m not sure what real change will look like.  I’m not sure anyone does.

Which is also probably why revenge is such an easy temptation to give into.  We all know what getting even will look like.  We all can imagine how good that will feel.  It’s easy to be motivated by the thought of having revenge.

Being motivated by the thought of working towards some future so vastly different than what we have now?  That’s a lot more difficult.

Carole Maso?  Would you take us through to the end?

The future is all the people who’ve ever been kept out, singing.

In the future everything will be allowed.

So the future is for you, too. Not to worry. But not only for you.

For you, but not only for you.

Not to discard the canon, but to enlarge it.

No more monoliths. No more Mick Jaggers. No more 0. J. Simpsons. No more James Joyces. No more heroes.

Everything threatens you. Hacks, hackers, slacks, slackers, cybergirls with their cybercurls and wiles, poets of every sort. Rock bands with girls.

You believe your (disappearing) time represents some last golden age of enlightenment, to be guarded, protected, reproduced against the approaching mindlessness, depravity, electronic states of America.

But maybe as you become more and more threatened, you’ll take a few more risks yourself. Who knows? Anything is possible in the future.

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggidy Jig

I am home and I smell like my own dog, who seemed delighted to see me, as was the Butcher, which I believe is more than a girl can ask for in this world.

Family who’s got your back and a dog that misses you.

That’s worth coming home to, I’ll tell you what.

“That’s The America I Came Home To. That’s It.”

I just finished Scott Reynolds Nelson’s Steel Driving Man–John Henry: The Untold Story of an American Legend.

It’s good, but in one of those ways that nags at you.  He doesn’t address the Alabama evidence.  Instead, he just goes to the Big Bend Tunnel, discovers there weren’t men and steam drills working side by side, looks for another tunnel on that same line where the did, and then looks for who was working on that tunnel–prisoners–and finds one named John Henry.

It seems straight enough forward.

So does John Garst’s evidence

I guess I just wanted to see it addressed, especially because I come to trust Nelson’s take on things and want to believe that his take considers all the evidence.  If Garst’s evidence is shoddy, I’d like to know why.

Still, the book does a wonderful job of really getting at how rough digging these railroad tunnels was and how it could be a death sentence.

The other task the book sets out to do is to show how the legend of John Henry (and the song) have been appropriated by different groups for their own purposes.

Some of these assertions need better back up.  He comes pretty damn close to saying that Superman is just a white version of John Henry based on the fact that Superman’s creators grew up very near where a famous lithographer who made John Henry lithographs lived, so “Steel Drivin’ Man” of course equals “Man of Steel.”

I wanted him to tease that out a little more.

But his section on Sinclair Lewis (“That’s the America I came home to.”) and Carl Sandburg?

It made me start to wonder about who I consider to be my intellectual family.  I think of Walt Whitman like some eccentric uncle who doesn’t love me half as much as I love him.  And there’s Stephen King, the older cousin who should not have spent so much time in our grandma’s basement telling me scary stories.

But I wonder about Lewis and Sandburg.  Reading about Sandburg’s performances of John Henry… God, these folks are so familiar to me.  Sandburg is the kind of Midwesterner I think I was raised to be.  

I don’t think I’d ever really understood that before reading this book, as no one articulated that–but there it all is, the great deep love of America, the socialism, the feeling that the kinds of things Americans do are of value and should be shared with other Americans, the love of history and music and folklore and stories, etc.

I need to remember to ask my parents about Sandburg.

We went to his house in Galesburg, once, which I was thrilled about but remember thinking was strange.

I don’t know.  The past leaves you bits and pieces of things.  It’s hard to tell which are clues and which are not. 

UC Irvine Can Suck My Butt!

I could not hate UC Irvine more if it were made of angry stinging bees.  Who the fuck designs a campus like that?  If he’s still alive, I have half a mind to hunt him down and run him over, though, I suppose, he could just hide in one of his many terrible buildings and be quite safe from me as I have no plans to ever return there.

First, the parking garage.  The elevator is connected to the parking garage by a thin strip of concrete surrounded on three sides by a “guard rail” of four flimsy metal bars.

Then, the fucking campus map looks like fucking Rorschach came up with it.  I got lost and was late to my first appointment (and was late because I was not about to get on that elevator and so had to walk down the whole fucking parking garage) which was in some other kind of monstrous monstrosity with a fucking “open air” hallway way four stories up.

Do you know what it’s like to come off the elevator and feel like you’re going to pass out and throw up and fall over all because fucking architecture and your own fucked up-ness conspire against you?

I hope not, but it fucking sucks.  And so I got there and I was all discombobulated because I didn’t have my equilibrium back yet.

Fine.  Whatever.

Then to get to my next appointment, I would have had to cross this tiny pedestrian bridge two stories up over a busy street and so finally I get to my building after taking the long-cut and the fucking elevator there is also in its own fucking tower way off away from the actual building connected to it by another open air platform.

So, I just took the stairs.

Fuck it.

But I did make the fucking mistake of taking the elevator back up to the top of the parking garage to get my car and I’ll be damned if I wasn’t fucking stuck in it.  Just stuck there like some fucking crazy person and I was all “Okay, get out of the damn elevator.  Move.” and then it started.  The dizzy feeling like the whole world was about to fall away.

So I took off my shoes.

See, this is crazy.  This is what crazy people do.  They do whacked out shit that makes no sense but for some reason feels like some kind of ritualized behavior that allows them to do whatever it is they need to do.

Well, so there you go.  I did it.  I took off my shoes in the grungy shitty elevator and stepped out onto the open platform between me and the fucking parking garage.  And I couldn’t hear and I thought I was going to throw up and the whole world started to tilt away from me and my head was filled with the sounds of crows cawing and I just really wanted more than anything to lay down and maybe roll to the car.

But I walked.  Somehow.  I was shaking so bad I nearly dropped my keys.

And now I’m sitting here crying to tell you about it.

I feel like a freak.  I am completely embarrassed and feel a little crazy about this.  I know it’s crazy.  It makes no sense and yet there it is.

Anyway, I hate that place.  Between that and the San Diego Convention Center, I do believe I’ve been through the landscape of my own personal hell.

It was cool to see crows up that close, though.

So there’s that. 

Time, See What’s Become of Me

I’m really glad I have the computer here with me, as it’s been a real boon in terms of doing what I’m out here to do.  But it’s also weird the way that it’s made me homesick.

I really like L.A. and I have a lot to do and so I’m not yet homesick for Nashville as a place.  But it hurts me to be two hours behind Nashville as an intellectual space.  I feel like I’m trapped in the past.  Like right now, it’s 9:18 in the morning Nashville time.  The folks at WKRN are getting settled in at their desks.  Folks at my office are already an hour into their day.  The Butcher only has three hours left in his shift.

And the sun isn’t even up here.

I feel like I’m sending you this message from a time you’ve already been through. 

I find that disconcerting.

Sometimes the Funny is There. Sometimes it’s Not.

I have been trying for days now to come up with some funny way to blame Say Uncle for the fatalities in the Civil War.  All the pieces are there.  He reports that PETA is blaming hunters for school shootings.  He is a gun nut.  If gun nuts can be blamed for everything other gun nuts do… well, then, why can’t we blame Say Uncle for the Civil War?

See, all the elements of funny are there, but just not congealing in some way that satisfies me, so I’ve not bothered to make the joke, even though it nags at me that the joke is sitting there ready to be made.

Which is why I must congratulate Roger Abramson on the funniest thing I’ve read in some time.

Here’s what you need to appreciate Abramson’s genius.

First, Brittney makes this post.  Then Abramson makes this post.  Then Brittney makes this post.  And apparently almost everyone thinks that Abramson is seriously calling Brittney a racist.

There’s a point to be made here about how powerful humor is, but I’ll let you reach it yourselves.

Roger, I bow humbly before you. 

Sometimes, I Wish I Spoke Spanish

Last night we went to this fabulous Spanish restaurant and I ate something I’d never had before that has a name I can’t even begin to figure out how to spell even enough to look it up on the internet, but my god, it was fabulous–rice, peas, meat, some sauce–and I had this salad with tomatoes so good that it made every other tomato I’ve had in my life suddenly better in retrospect.

And as we left, the guy who took our money at the garage spoke English until the driver spoke Spanish to him and then he smiled sheepishly in that way men do when they suspect you’ve overheard them talking about you when they thought you wouldn’t know.

As I was laying in the tub, trying to coax my ankle into bending again–hot, cold, wiggle, wiggle, hot, cold, wiggle, wiggle–I thought about how much I appreciate that my parents traveled with us when we were growing up.  We learned by experience that the whole nation was much larger and much different than the small towns we were growing up in, and that our experience was not the only kind of experience one could have in this country, that on down the road there’s always something new to try–new foods, new smells, new people–and it’s all open to you if you’re willing to search it out.

I sometimes think of how people complain about how homogenized our culture is, how no matter where you go, there’s a McDonald’s and a Tiger Mart and a Hilton and a Walmart; how all the songs on all the radio stations are all the same.  And I have to tell you, I wonder if they ever actually get out and about in the places they accuse of being all the same, because these places all seem amazingly different to me.

Which makes me wonder what we mean when we talk about preserving “American” culture.  We talk about losing it like we’d be losing something distinct and uniform, when really, what is distinct about us is how many different experiences can be encompassed by the idea of the “American Experience.”

I mean, yes, things are changing and it’s a different nation than the one you grew up in, but all you had to do was drive a hundred miles from where you lived and it was a different nation even then.

Is our culture really threatened or is it just your understanding of our culture, which was already too small to begin with? 

Does Representation Ruin the Experience of the Original?

So, I was laying by the pool when my phone rang and my afternoon suddenly emptied.  I decided to head on over to Melrose to see this Necromance place and to look for a birthday present for the Butcher.

I love to drive, as you know, and so it’s as if this city is made just for me, with the having to drive everywhere and all of the stuff there is to look at as you drive.

So, Necromance.  It was cool, but it was not what I thought it would be.  However, they have freeze-dried mice for $40, so if you have some mice to freeze dry, perhaps you could sell them on the internet and make some money.  Just saying.

Oh my god.  I’m sorry.  Can we take a moment just to imagine the look on Mrs. Sarcastro’s face when Sarcastro announces that he’s going to support their family by making an army of freeze-dried mice in various poses to sell to freaks and goths over the internet?





Whew, good times.

Anyway, where was I?  Yes, so I bought some coyote finger bones, which look to be a better size for tossing and reading and two tiny glass skulls.  I will give one to the Butcher if he wants it and keep the other one because it’s cute and weird as hell.

I got the Butcher a nice present at a shop a couple of doors down from Necromance, which shall remain nameless and undescribed, but I’m sure you libertarians and hippies can give it a good guess.  Anyway, I got him a very useful glass turtle.  I was so delighted by the turtle that, when turned over, can be repurposed, that I’m sure the proprietor thought I was very at home in his shop, because I laughed and laughed at that.

Then I turned on to Gower and there was the Hollywood sign.

Just up there on the hill looking right how it looks.

And at that minute, I realized that Freud was wrong.  Something can be both heimlich and unheimlich at the same time.  It was both weird as hell and perfectly ordinary.  Does that make sense?  I mean, I was both seeing it for the first time and seeing it for the billionth time at the same time.  And so I felt both ways.

And so I turned on Sunset and headed west.  I saw the Whiskey a Go-Go and the Rainbow Room and all these places I used to imagine I’d someday be bad-ass enough to hang out in when I was 13 and listening to Motley Crue and Guns and Roses.  And there they were, both just like I knew they looked and not at all like I expected.

I drove Sunset clear to… I don’t know.  Some place.  I could see the entrance to Topenga something or other on my right and Highway 1 on my left.  I went to the ocean and then turned up on 10 and came back here.

I still don’t know what to think.

Driving around these unfamiliar places that are so familiar is almost like being in a dream.  Have I been here before?  

Of course I have (not). 

A Sonnet

Oh, Santa Monica Freeway you shine

Like a silvery river a-glitter

With busy folks with so little free time.

But my only task is not to litter.

And to think of things that rhyme with Bridgett

or Jebbo. That’s a name best left at the

beginning of sentences. I’ll fidget

with word order so the end’s Jebbo-free.

A sonnet that celebrates the I-10

And brings Bridgett and Jebbo fame again!

Now that I look at it, that’s not a sonnet is it? Ha, well, tough shit.  That’s what I’ve got for you.

What Does It Mean to Be a Reader?

So, last night I had dinner with KF from Planned Obsolescence and since she is a big media guru we spent a lot of time talking about blogging and other online dohickies.  

I think she and I are both struck by how, if done well, how we do what we do online has the ability to draw together groups of people who share common interests and who can benefit from all of the mutual intellectual energy, but who otherwise wouldn’t ever be on each other’s radars. 

We were talking specifically about Television Without Pity, which is an enormous well of people who love television (or hate it, in some way) and who can speak articulately and critically about what they’re seeing and how media scholars, who also love television and can speak articulately and critically about it, have readerships in the low 1000s, if that. 

Plus, Television Without Pity is current.  The shows under discussion are on the air.  The big Buffy conference they had down at MTSU, though, for instance, even thought it got a lot of attention, happened long after the show was off the air.

Scholarship, as is usually done, has a certain model that doesn’t necessarily map well onto the ways people experience the things under study* and feels out of date to a large portion of the population who otherwise has a vested interest in what scholars are doing.

And so we talked with optimism about the internet’s potential for increasing the speed and shape of scholarship and for bridging the gaps between the academy and the real world (in the sense that any world is real).

And KP is considering writing a book about blogging, because she has all these exciting questions about what it means to be an author, what it means to be a reader, etc.  Are the people that lurk readers in the same way as people who comment?  I’d say that both are extremely valuable, but to me they feel like two different groups that share a population.  Lurkers can become commenters.  Commenters can go back to lurking.  But each activity, to me, seems very different.

Anyway, I’m excited about her enthusiasm.

My day was filled with talking to really energetic and interesting people.  I was exhausted when I came home, but I felt like I didn’t have enough time with any of them.

Which, I think is a good sign. 




*This had been a topic all day in various ways, about the tension between traditional scholarship as a useful framework for disseminating knowledge and traditional scholarship as a way of keeping really radical (in the pleasurable sense of the word) work from having any real power.  I really cherish my ability to be the place where a lot of usually disparate trains of thought must come together.  There’s a lot about my job that drives me nuts, but I am constantly shook (in a good way) by the privilege I have of seeing how things connect behind the scenes.  Sometimes, I’m in the high seat, just like the volva, seeing what is normally invisible.  My work is, in the grand scheme of things, not that important, but I’m honored to do it, nonetheless. 

The Santa Monica Freeway Sometimes Makes a Country Girl Blue ooo ooo

I have had fucking "You’re the Reason God Made Oklahoma" stuck in my head now for two days.  At this point, I will pay money to forget I ever heard that song. 

I have a confession to make.  I kind of love the Santa Monica Freeway.  I might feel differently by the end of the week, but driving in tonight from Claremont* I was stunned by how the interstates do look like rivers of light, some currents faster than others.

I must say that the traffic is not any worse than driving I-80 between Morris and Michigan City, it’s just that the highways seem to go on forever.  Tonight, just when I thought I must have missed my turn and must be about to plunge into the ocean, I was just at the Los Angeles city limits.

I’m totally digging this whole valet parking thing, too.

But god, the interstates are just beautiful.  I can’t get over it.

Anyway, I had a good day.  To say more would probably be inappropriate, except to say that I met a reader and she kicked so much ass and gave me so much to think about.  I feel lucky to have y’all.  I know you know that, but I just thought I’d say it anyway.

 I want to go to this store–Necromance.  Have any of y’all ever heard of it?  Cool or not?

I never did write Bridgett and Jebbo their award poem.

I need to get on that soon.

But for now, sleep is calling.

Can you hear it?

"B.  Oh, B.  Come rest your head on this pillow right here.  B.  Oh, B.  Sleep woman, sleep."

Who am I to fight with Morpheus? 



*I got there early, which was good, because I somehow got off the 10 and took highway 60 out to Pomona, which, you’ll be shocked to learn, is not the same city as Claremont, though, luckily, they are close by each other.  It was beautiful.  This whole place is beautiful.  I should have brought the camera.

Brief Morning Notes

1.  I woke up at 4:30 this morning and felt so decadent.  Then I realized that it was only 6:30 in my head.  I tried to sleep longer, but now I have a headache.  Though the coffee seems to have helped some.  Anyway, my point is that I got to watch the sun rise over the interstate and even in the pitch dark of early morning, there was a bright river of cars coming up from the south.

2.  I have to be in Pomona at noon.  I’m going to leave by nine.  I hope that’s enough time.

3.  I am totally tempted to steal this mirror.  Every time I look up in it, I think, "gosh, what pretty blue eyes I have" which is a complete 180 from the usual "Oh, dear god, what can I do to fix that?" that I usually have when sitting in front of a mirror. 

Just Lovely

I took a brief detour through the lovely city of Inglewood on my way to the hotel, but managed to remember that I need to stay this side of the 110 if I don’t want to also take a lovely tour of South Central.

Needless to say, after realizing what a lovely part of town I’m staying it, I decided to treat myself to a slightly larger car and valet parking.

Yes, Sarcastro, I am being a tad petulant.

On the other hand, right where I am is very beautiful and I am actually excited to get to explore some this week.

I’m a little frazzled from all the flying.  Both planes were packed and I had to break down and buy a book in Dallas because I got through everything I’d brought to read on the plane.

I picked up The Prestige, which is really good so far, if a little too conflicted about whether it’s a book about a trick or a character study.  Coble, I think you’d like it, if you haven’t read it.  It’s like Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell but with less whimsy and more Nikoli Tesla.

Okay, I must go find something to eat and unpack. 

L.A. Woman

Well, I just had to go ahead and get that little joke out of the way.  I’ve got to get in the shower so that I can be out of the shower by the time the Professor gets here.  I slept eleven hours straight yesterday and then took an hour nap during the world series.

It was as if I briefly hibernated, but I’m feeling better than I have in days, so I guess it was needed.

Speaking of hibernation, did I ever tell you the story about hibernation that Dr. J’s father-in-law told me?  I hope I don’t fuck this up, but if I do, I’m sure she can come by and give you the true details.

Anyway, Dr. J’s father-in-law is the school superintendent in Alaska.  He and his wife live in a small but close-knit community and one summer some guy from down here moved up there.  He seemed normal enough, if a little keep to himself, but come along this time of year, they realized that no one in town had seen him for a while and that they’d had a couple of good snows, so someone should go out and check on him.

So, Dr. J’s father-in-law and a couple of other men from town go out to this dude’s trailer and they knock.  No answer.  Knock again, no answer.  Look in the windows, see no sign of life.  So, they decide that they should break in.  What if he’s dead in there?  You don’t want to find that in the spring.

So, they hit the door hard enough to open in and in they go.  It’s dark and cold and the whole trailer seems to be covered either in full bags of Oreos or empty bags of Oreos–the full bags stacked neatly, the empty bags strewn about the trailer.

And, in one end of the trailer is an enormous pile of blankets and clothing.  They start to dig through it and there’s the dude, who wakes up enough to explain to them his glorious plan for hibernating all winter waking up occasionally only to eat a few Oreos.

I wonder what ever happened to that guy.

Anyway, I’m off on my L.A. adventure.

More later.

Damn You, Tennessee

Since when did I become a Tennessee fan?  But here I am sitting on the edge of my seat wondering if they’re going to be able to pull this off against Alabama.

I blame Plimco’s family, who must have, through all those years of cheering, infected me with their fandom.


The Ghost of Jim Morrison

I blog about the Doors, Sarcastro blogs about the Doors, and what should the Butcher and I see this… morning… afternoon* but some show in which the worst "ghost hunters" on tv tried to communicate with the ghost of Jim Morrison.

At the end of the show, they finally found a tarot reader who seemed to be able to contact ole Jim and, in a moment so awesome I wish I had it on Youtube to show you, Jim Morrison basically told them that what they’re doing is stupid and trite.

And then he made the psychic cry.

It made me love the ghost of Jim Morrison just a little bit. 



*Honestly, I have no idea what time it is.  I went to bed at 11 last night and got up at ten and still feel wiped out.  The guilt trip I’m getting from the dog for not taking her to the park is enormous.  I’d feel worse if I were not about to take a nap. 

If I Were Fancier…

The Playwright is in a play, which you should go see, (which I need to remember to go see), but which is not actually the point of this post.

Look at her hair!

Y’all, I wish I had cool hair.  I kind of wish I had blue hair that matched my eyes.

But I’m afraid to dye it because I love how soft and curly it is and I’m afraid that it wouldn’t be soft and curly any more if I dyed it blue.

But, I could settle for strikingly silver, which seems to be the color it’s considering turning, except that my silver hairs aren’t curly, nor are they particularly soft.

When you’re twenty, you can have blue hair.  And when you hit 65, I guess you can have blue hair again.  But being neither, I guess I’m stuck with brown.

Speaking of Ghosts…

On Wednesday, on Ghost Hunters, a comforter moved mysteriously on Grant.  Or, I should say “mysteriously” because the trouble with spooky shit is that it relies a great deal on “Is this happening?” for its spookiness.

Let’s just say that I was sitting here and out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw the orange cat float by about four feet off the ground.  That would shock the shit out of me.  I’d be screaming and carrying on and trying to figure out who I could call to have them come over here and hunt down the orange cat.

But let’s say that I was sitting here and all of a sudden the tiny cat leeped into the air and floated by me at about four feet off the ground.  I could follow him around.  I could check for strings.  I could rub his belly and he could bite me, as usual.  That would be weird, but it wouldn’t be spooky.

I think that’s one of the things that The Blair Witch Project, for all its enormous problems*, got right was that it’s much scarier when you don’t quite know what’s going on, when there are things, but you don’t know if they’re clues.  Spooky is when you don’t know how to attribute meaning, or even what to attribute meaning to.

Once you know those things, spooky kind of loses its edge.

If meaning can be attributed in some unexpected way, like in The Sixth Sense, that can be satisfying.  But usually, once you see what you’re dealing with head-on, it’s not spooky any more**.

And so we return to that cutie Grant and his mysterious moving bed cover.  Everything about the shot was so perfect.  The camera was right where it should be.  The bed cover moved just how it was supposed to move.  And you could see exactly what was going on. 

It wasn’t spooky.

Sure, it was weird, but not spooky.

And so, as a viewer, even though it seemed like some of the most compellingly weird footage they’d ever shot, my first reaction was, “Well, okay, that was weird.  I wonder how that happened.”  Because, clearly, it did happen, so I immediately started searching for rational explanations.

Sometimes, I think these shows work best when you’re not even sure what’s happening.  If you can’t be sure of what you’re experiencing, you can’t begin to search for explanations of why it’s happening.  And it’s in that tension, I think, that the drama is created***.



*One of them being that it just seemed like a snipe hunt gone bad.

**With maybe the exception of the Buffy episode where there wasn’t any speaking and those weird men kind of floated around.  Those men were spooky even when you saw them head on.

***Speaking of unnecessary drama, Sci-Fi’s got this new show that follows right after Ghost Hunters.   A week ago, they set out to “debunk” voodoo, which would be like me setting out to debunk Unitarianism.  What do you even mean by “debunk” when you’re talking about a religion in the first place?

But anyway, here are all of these “experts” and Rob from Survivor, who, for some reason, all the voodoo folks loved and they’re down in New Orleans and they meet up with two different people who interact with Marie LaVeau.  One gets messages from her at her tomb, the other channels her during a ritual.

Well, shoot, if you want to “debunk” something, if both women really are getting information from the same place, shouldn’t you be able to tell Marie something in the afternoon and pick back up on that conversation in the evening?

If I sat here advertising interactions with the Professor and you came to me and said, “What does the Professor think of blueberry pie?” and you heard me holler, “Hey, Professor, what do you think of blueberry pie?” and then I turned and said to you, “She likes it and she wants me to tell you that she knows how much your aunt liked it, too.” that might be proof that I guessed something right about your aunt.  It might even be proof, as it is, that I got my information from someone in the spirit realm.  But is it proof I got that information from the Professor?

And say later on you run into Bridgett and Bridgett says, “I can channel the Professor for you” and you say, “Hell yes.” and Bridgett says, “Oh, yes, my child.  I am the Professor and I am here with you.  What is your question?”  and your question is “Does my aunt like blueberry pie?” shouldn’t “The Professor” remember you talked about it that afternoon?

Shoot, if the Professor and I had spent all day talking about blueberry pie, by the end of the night, we’d have ended up with some.  She wouldn’t have forgotten that it came up twice in conversation with me.

And yet our “experts” never tried to establish that they were talking to the same entity on both occasions.  So much for debunking.

I tend to believe in that shit and I would have wanted to test that.