Thursday, March 29, 2012

What is this strange feeling?

What's it called when something good happens to you because somebody decides that the work you do is pretty good and they want to give you the opportunity to do something you've been wanting to do for a long time?  Is that hope?  Guys, I think I'm feeling hope.
A couple weeks ago I got acceptance letters from St. Mary's in San Fransisco and the University of New Orleans.  My excitement has been on a bit of a slow boil, but I think I'm headed for a full on joy rampage.
I just declined my spot for fiction at St. Mary's which came with an assistantship, due to lack of funding and the school's high expense (I'm sorry but you forced my hand St. Mary's, why can't make your decision deadline be April 15th like almost every other school in existence). I'm trying to dwell on the poetic justice of getting to reject a school after being rejected by so many other schools last year, but I'm mostly gripped with an irrational fear that UNO will rescind my acceptance for mysterious reasons or simply to satisfy their lifelong goal to recreate the eternal struggle between Lucy and Charlie Brown only instead of a football, they're using my hopes and dreams.  
This fear exists because when I applied back in December I got an email from UNO's graduate school letting me know that my application would not be processed.  My snail mail writing samples, however, still made their way to the creative writing department and they liked me enough to want me in their program.  I was recently notified that I somehow failed to submit my online application at all and was told to fill it out again to tie up that loose end.  I'm not one to throw around the term "miracle" but I am convinced that with strong writing samples and divine intervention, dreams really do come true.
That being said, I'm probably moving to Louisiana this summer to become a famous writer and teacher.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

fArt Show

This weekend marks the end of the month wherein sculptures and things I have made have been on display at Sue's Java Cafe.  I was offered this opportunity about four months ago but I didn't really tell anybody until I had put stuff on the walls as I am a professional self-saboteur.  I spent two months halfassedly working on some sculptures and then a month hoping that the owner had forgotten her promise and had already given the area to somebody else.  I then spent five days working eighteen hours a day in an attempt to finish enough stuff to fill Sue's.  I found this hilarious because this time occurred shortly after my one year anniversary of being fired, and one of my eighteen hour days was Labor Day.

Each time I've gone into Sue's I've been told that many patrons have commented fondly regarding my sculptures, which makes me feel pretty good.  Also, I've sold more than $50 in small sculptures and have received three requests for commissioned pieces.

That's me in the picture.  I'm the one sitting next to the cardboard box.  I've been making those trees for a while now.  They are my take on the Celtic Tree of Life and I started making them because I've always like the symbol and I saw at least three really crappy examples of Tree of Life sculptures within the same week and decided to attempt a decent one.  I also enjoy the challenge of manipulating metal wire to mimic an organic form.

I don't feel I can call this type of thing a sculpture (Hell, I don't feel like I should call anything I do a sculpture, or art for that matter.  Take a wild guess at how many times I use the word "art" in this post?).  I usually call it a 2-D wire sketch.

I'm pretty sure that normal people would be able to easily draw something as simple as this.  While I am incapable of drawing any part of this, it turns out I can bend wire to make a picture of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza if I so desire.

This is Daphne (see Greek mythology).  While I cannot sketch any of my sculpture plans, I usually have a very clear picture of how I want something to look and am pleasantly surprised that the wire ends up looking like my brain picture.  I was not pleasantly surprised with Daphne.  I've been wanting to make a Daphne sculpture for a while and this is not what I have in mind.  Jen likes it though, so I framed it and put it behind glass so it seems extra fancy.
While I am terrible at drawing, I was once a student and thus have many pages of notes that are filled with doodles.  These are some of my favorite bits from all of my doodles (the ones that would be acceptable on a coffee shop wall, at least).  The bird usually looks a lot more like a deranged flying dolphin in my doodles, but I am certain that I have increased awareness about how awesome it would be to carry around a bunch of bees tied to strings.
This is the part that I am most proud of.  Sue's has zero shelf space.  This is a problem for someone who wants to include a ceramic bust and metal stand that weighs about thirty pounds.  I had to come up with some sort of shelving apparatus that could hold the weight, but did not attach to, damage, or mark up the wall.  I feel I overcame that challenge with much aplomb.  Also, better than a third of the stuff on this shelf has sold as of last week. 

All of this comes down Sunday night, or Monday, or whenever Sara forces me to take it down.  This will be loads of fun as I recently rode my body down a spot of rapids, dislocating my left knee and turning my right leg into a bruise from knee to ankle and giving myself a lovely bruise on my spine that stretches from four inches above my buttcrack down three inches inside my buttcrack.  I didn't even know that was possible.  I'll spare you the pictures.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Don't Write Like This

A Taste of Redding:  Part 3

If I see somebody reading in public, I always try to catch the title so that I can pass judgment on them and their reading habits.  I assume all people do this, so I am wary about the books I choose to read in public.  When I am reading an impressive book I proudly hold it out in front of me, careful not to cover up too much of the title, so that people can view my erudite sophistication.  I often read what I call escapist fiction, though.  I disappear when I read these stories, able to forget that I have a paper due or an upcoming assessment at work or that the girl who competed with me and lost to be the top student in AP English in high school is about to start her residency and I am just getting around to finishing my undergraduate work.  I hunch over these books, reading from my lap, because, more often than not, escapist fiction is my euphemism for a Star Wars novel.

I was in the midst of finals week and needed to escape from campus and reality, so I sat on a couch at Starbucks hiding my novel.

“Star Wars, eh?” said the man seated on the couch across from me.

I had lost myself in the book for the last hour and forgot to cover the title.  I hadn’t even seen the man sit down.

“I’ve always liked the idea of Jedi,” he continued.  “You know, some people like the philosophy so much that there is an actual Jedi religion.”

“I’ve heard that,” I replied as I studied this enigma I was conversing with.

He was a black man in his mid-thirties.  I judged him to be about three hundred pounds and I estimated that when he stood up he would be a couple inches taller than me.  He was wearing a sports coat with a sweater and tie and had a large, round, bald head and bookish glasses.  I discovered that his name was Cornelius and was shocked at the depth of his knowledge surrounding the Star Wars universe.

I tend to keep this passion secret because even people who love the movies and take the time to know all the details surrounding them, call me a nerd when I open up my library of Star Wars knowledge.  Once, when I was taking some science credits at a community college, I was forced to reveal my nerdy nature. 

It was an astronomy course and I was sure I had everyone fooled that I was actually a cool guy.  At the time, I had dreadlocks and a pierced nose and ears.  I always asked good questions and had interesting things to say.  The professor, however, decided to utilize the last half hour of one of her classes to air her frustration with how Hollywood constantly gets science wrong.  Her ultimate complaint was Han Solo’s boast that he had made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs.

“Parsecs are a measurement of distance,” she railed.  “That’s like saying ‘I made it from Portland to Seattle in one hundred and fifty miles.’  It makes no sense.  I just wish Hollywood writers would have five minute conversations with a scientist or anybody who has the even the smallest grasp of scientific terms so they wouldn’t make these kind of mistakes.”

She was in error.  Her righteous anger was uninformed by truth.  My hand was raised and I was speaking before I had time to think.

“Actually, a measurement of distance is both accurate and intentional in Han’s boast about the Kessel Run.  Kessel is a planet on which the illegal drug, gliterstim spice, is mined.  This planet is surrounded by the ‘Maw’ which is a vast series of black holes that protects the planet from blockades by the Imperial fleet but also makes the journey extremely challenging to the smugglers who ship the spice.  Though speed does play a part in it, Han Solo’s boast truly is about distance.  The Millennium Falcon has upgraded engines that allow it to fly at a velocity that is fifty percent greater than average hyperdrive engines.  This allowed Han to navigate a course much closer to the black holes than anyone had previously attempted, shortening the distance and possibly even bending space due to his proximity to multiple event horizons, causing the regularly eighteen parsec Kessel Run to be completed in less than twelve.”

I had revealed my nature and the class stared at me as the odd beast I truly am.  I gathered my bag and sheepishly admitted to the silent class, “Sorry, I’m a huge nerd,” as I slunk out the door.

I didn’t have to hide any of this as I geeked out over Star Wars with Cornelius.  We were speaking about more than lightsabers and spaceships, though; we discussed the philosophy behind the fictional universe with both its literary and philosophical implications.

“Recently, a lot of the books in the Expanded Universe have spent a significant amount of time on the subject of philosophy,” I continued.  “They’ve introduced a new enemy race who worships pain and death which is inimical to most philosophies held by the inhabitants of the Star Wars universe.”

“Really?” he replied with honest enthusiasm.

“Yeah, and they do it in a manner that never seams preachy or loses the story like the Dune series did.”

We managed to continue on like this for quite some time—making it the longest serious conversation I expect to have about Star Wars—until Cornelius interjected with a seeming non-sequitur.

“Have you ever heard of the Baha’i faith?”

“Never,” I admitted.

“It’s a belief system that credits all faiths as steps towards truth and human enlightenment.”

“Oh, an ‘all truth is God’s truth’ sort of thing,” I respond.

“Exactly,” he said excitedly.  “Each religion speaks to the truth of God and it is only by studying all beliefs that we can find enlightenment and unify humanity as a whole.”

I hadn’t expected this well dressed stranger to proselytize, and I had never imagined that any conversation about Star Wars could segue into a religious debate, but I enjoyed the discussion’s odd unfolding.

“But most religions claim that they possess the only means to heaven.  How can both Christianity and Islam be correct when they each blatantly state that the other is wrong?”

“Well that’s a matter of human misinterpretation,” he responded quickly.  “Moses, Mohamed, Jesus, even the fictional character of Obi-Wan Kenobi are great prophets that all preach peace, unity, and enlightenment.  It was their followers who twisted the messages into exclusive religions.  That’s why I subscribe to the Baha’i faith; it seeks to unify rather than exclude.”

If this conversation had occurred a couple years previously, I would have been offended by the casual comparison of the Son of God to a fictional Jedi.  Before I could respond, though, we were interrupted.  

An unkempt young man about my age entered, shrugged off his backpack, and flopped bonelessly on the couch next to Cornelius before exchanging an intricate handshake that included slaps and fist bumps that bespoke of familiarity. 

“Yeah,” slurred the stranger, “the world would be better if people were more together, you know?  More unity.”

I assumed that this guy was the reason Cornelius was waiting in the coffee shop but he continued to look at me expectantly so I replied, “Unity is good and all, but it sounds to me like Baha’i strips the interesting mystery from religion and simply brings it to the level of philosophy.  How is there room for God or faith when humans hold the key to their own salvation?”

“That’s just it,” he replied.  “Religions have to lie that we need God, because that lie is what gives them power.  Humans only use something like ten percent of their brain.  Just imagine what we could do if we used our minds to their full potential.”

“Yeah,” interrupted the stranger, “this guy knows some stuff.  I just met him but he’s the shit.  And you,” he pointed at me nearly falling off the couch, “you’re a fuckerhead.”

“Buddy,” Cornelius said holding out a hand to stop the newcomer or perhaps to keep him from falling to the floor, “I don’t know you but we were having a nice conversation before you arrived, so please stop interrupting.”

“I’m Hamilton,” the young man stated.

“That’s a name I don’t hear too often,” I offered, in a friendly attempt to overcome his obvious animosity.

“Named after the president, fuckerhead” he responded proudly.

“You mean the Secretary of State,” Cornelius corrected.

“No, I’m on the ten, see,” Hamilton replied as he patted his pockets looking for his wallet briefly before giving up.  “Think I forgot my wallet.”

“Listen kid,” Cornelius said, raising his voice, “you’re obviously high on something, your pupils are saucers, so sit quietly and calm down while we continue our discussion.”

I noticed for the first time that his eyes were all pupil.  I admired Cornelius for his observation and worldly wisdom and was glad that he considered me a worthy conversationalist.

“Where were we?” Cornelius considered.

“I’m twenty-two,” Hamilton spurted, a step behind, “and I just had a drink or two this morning.”

“Whatever you say,” Cornelius responded dubiously.

“You’re gonna give me a ride home,” Hamilton demanded.

“No, I’m going to pick up my kids from school.  In fact, I better get going,” Cornelius said to me as he got up to leave.

“Pick em up on the way,” Hamilton stated as he retrieved his backpack.

“I don’t want you anywhere near me,” he responded with disgust.  “What makes you think I would allow you to be near my kids?”  To me he said, “It was nice meeting you, Andrew.”

“Thanks for the conversation, Cornelius,” I responded and shook his hand.

Hamilton was getting worked up and I thought I’d save the Starbucks employees the hassle of dealing with him.  I had five inches and about a hundred pounds on him and I figured that if he got too out of hand I could always sit on him so I said, “I can give you a ride.”

“Fine,” he replied and stomped out the door.

“My car is the white one over there,” I pointed, directing Hamilton through the patio where people sat enjoying the afternoon sun.

An older man sat at a table along our route.  He was reading the paper and smoking a cigar.  One of the chairs at his table obstructed our path slightly and Hamilton stopped to push it out of the way.  His actions were slow and normal at first, but then it was if he had a muscle spasm and flung the chair the last few inches.  The table rocked and the man’s drink fell on the ground.  His hands began shaking the paper with surprise or rage and the cigar fell from his mouth as he slowly repeated “What?  What?” 

Hamilton continued walking to my car as if nothing had happened.

“Uh, I’m really sorry sir,” I stammered.  “I just met this guy and I think he’s sick or something so I am taking him home so he doesn’t cause a scene here.  I’m sure if you explain what happened to the baristas inside they’ll give you another drink.”

“What?  What?” was all I heard as I quickly followed Hamilton.

“Aw man, did you just apologize for me?  I don’t need you apologizing for me” he shouted angrily.  “Did I spill that Grandpa’s drink?” he reversed abruptly.  “I should go back and apologize.”

The older man was no longer on the patio.  I assumed he had gone inside to clean up and call the police.  Hamilton may have been an idiot but I didn’t think he was a criminal, so I hurried him into my car and said, “Don’t worry, I explained everything to him.  We need to go.”

“So, where do you live?” I asked as we pulled onto the street.

“Let’s go to the mall!” Hamilton exclaimed.

“No, we can’t go to the mall.  You don’t have your wallet and I don’t have any money.”

“Why don’t you have any money?”

“I’m a poor college student.”

“Oh, you go to Simpson?  I live right by there.”

I was glad to have a direction, but was a little concerned that someone who was on potentially dangerous drugs lived close to the conservative Christian campus.

“Hey, drive up next to that car,” he said pointing to a small yellow truck.  “I know those fuckers.” 

I obliged him as he rolled down the window.  As we drew alongside the truck he leaned out the window, waving both arms and flipping off the truck as he laughed and yelled senselessly.  The elderly couple looked shocked and took the first available right turn.

“Oh shit!  I didn’t know them, but they sure got a kick out of me,” he shouted as he continued to flip off the roadway.

“Mind if I smoke?”

“Knock yourself out,” I responded. 

I was beginning to question the wisdom of giving Hamilton a ride home, but I figured that even if he got us pulled over, the truth would get me out of it and my passenger would sober up in a jail cell.

“You do drugs?” he asked abruptly.

“No, I’m clean.”

“Good, good . . . ever do meth?”

This question seemed unnecessary in light of my previous response but I clarified anyway, “No way, meth is a seriously bad drug.”

“Good, if you liked meth I woulda been pissed.  I woulda, I woulda beat you up if you liked meth.  Meth is bad, it’ll fuck you up.  It’s bad, but sometimes . . . sometimes it’s so good,” he concluded in an enraptured sigh. 

“Ah,” I thought sanguinely, never truly realizing the implication of this revelation, “he must be high on meth.”

“I had this roommate once, found out he was making meth in his room.  I beat the shit outa him before kicking him out but . . . but man we did have some good parties back then.”

He swung his face next to mine and blurted, “You know, I’m about five seconds away from ripping that nose ring outa your face.”

I had lied to him before.  I had done plenty of drugs in the past and felt like I could understand the fluid reality of his thoughts.  I hoped that if I confidently put forth the reality that what he said was a joke, he would believe that he had been joking, so I chuckled and said, “Gee, I sure hope you don’t do that.”

He continued to stare at my nose as he growled “No seriously, man.”

I finally began to admit to myself that giving this guy a ride had been a bad idea. 

“Don’t worry,” I continued with a nervous chuckle.  I reached up a quickly flipped my crescent septum ring up into my nose.  “See, it’s gone, no problem.”

He was quiet and motionless for the first time since he had stumbled into my life.  This lasted for about twenty seconds before he erupted.  “You better tell me where the fuck that thing went before I go looking for it.”

I realized that my size advantage meant very little in the confines of my car.  “It folds up into my nose, see,” I stammered as I revealed my nose ring.  “Out, in, out, in.  Not everyone wants to see my nose ring so sometimes I hide it.”  I left the nose ring hidden hoping he would forget about it.

“Here’s the school, so where do you live?” I asked to distract him.

“Right there,” he said as he pointed to a shack on the edge of campus.

I pulled into the driveway and he got out.  Holding the door open he turned and said, “When I first met you, I thought you were a fuckerhead.  That black guy, he was cool, but you gave me a ride and you know what?  You’re still a fuckerhead, but thanks for the ride.”

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Something is better than nothing, right?

I recommend Jodorowski films to most people with the knowledge that they will be disturbed and possibly hate me forever for the recommendation. He is a Polish Mexican filmmaker who cannot be easily described and must be experienced.  I first discovered Jodowroski through Holy Mountain, a conceptual kaleidoscope that symbolgasmically inseminated my dreams with more wonder and confusion than a thousand bastard brain babies.  El Topo, the second Jodowroski film I watched, is a bit harder to describe.  I watched Santa Sangre while writing up a plot synopsis and would like to share it with the internet.  Whereas, with most films, a plot synopsis would be a severe spoiler and discourage later viewings, I posit that any person should be able to read this plot synopsis, immediately watch Santa Sangre, and be constantly surprised.

Santa Sangre

A man is insane and thinks he is an eagle. 

Enter Circo Del Gringo.   A boy magician, whose best friend is a midget touted as the worlds smallest elephant trainer, falls in love with the mute girl who walks a flaiming tight rope.  His father (the ringleader who looks like a wicked overweight Brett Micheals) is a drunk who killed a woman in America and cannot return, but falls in love with the tattooed lady. 

Some nuns are rioting because their church (Santa Sangre) is going to get bulldozed.  Just when it looks like they will defeat the bulldozers through the power of music the Monseignor arives to hear the history of the church:  Their patron saint and martyr, Lidio, was a little girl who was attacked by some street thugs who cut off her arms then raped her and left her to die in a pool of blood which miraculously still exists in the foyer of the church.  The Monseignor says she is no saint and that the pool of blood is actually a pool of paint.  He rejects the head nun as a heretic and encourages the bulldozers to tear it down.  The head nun is the magician boy's mother, but luckily, some clowns are there to chear him up.

The tatooed lady is very flexible.  Head nun does not approve.  But she is powerless when confronted with the Ringleader's spandexed body.  Scary sex scene culminates with an elephant spewing blood from his trunk.  Clown band plays it out.  Huge coffin goes over the cliff while the mudmen pay tribute. . . and then eat it.  Everyone dances.

Ringleader gives (forces upon) Magician boy his first tattoo, and passes him his mantel.  Mute girl doesn't know the sign for eagle so does the sign for dove instead.

Clown show.  Magic show.

Ex-head nun burns off Ringleader's genitals with acid so he cuts her arms off then slits his own throat.  Mute girl watches in horror then gets kidnapped by the tattooed lady while the boy magician watches impotently from his trailer.

Hey, guess what?  The crazy guy from the beginning is the boy magician all grown up.  His doctors try a revolutionary new therapy that consists of hugging kids with down syndrome while circus music plays and then eating a lot of fruit.

Crazy eagle guy and the downies are sent to the movies while doctor and nurse make out in the car, but instead of seeing a movie, some guy gives them cocaine, takes them out dancing with transvestite hookers, then gets them all a deal on cheap blowies.  Crazy eagle guy wanders off and finds the Tatooed lady. . . flash forward to the next morning and mommy-no-arms gets magician manboy to jailbreak himself  by utilizing her crazy crazy eyes. . . Tatooed lady is hooking the mute girl to a mute, giant, Mexican Lenny but she escapes via Transvestite-hooker-conga line, though she narowly escapes a creepy dude who tries to feed her his ear.

Tattooed lady gets hacked to bits by a mysterious stranger with a dagger.

Crazy man/magician boy reunites with his midget friend and then acts as his Mother's hands while she gives a creation and fall sermon with mariachi accompaniment followed by cancan girls and striptease.
Magician Manboy in ringleader costume meets with stripper but his mom takes control of his arms and throws a knife into her and she dies. They hide her in a donkey costume and bury her in their backyard after painting her white.  She turns into a goose and flies away.

(At this time I wandered outside and discovered a phospho-luminescent worm crawling around my backyard.  I watched it for nearly twenty minutes wondering if I was sane or not and then trapped it in a matchbox.  The matchbox was empty when I checked it in the morning.)

Magician Manboy is his mom's hands for breakfast and then she uses him to practice the piano.  Chickens and Jesus figure.

Magician Manboy fantasizes about being the invisible man and a mad scientist but is disappointed about his obvious lack of invisibility, anyway, his mom needs his hands to finish knitting stockings.  He goes to the apothecary and pulls a giant python out of his pants. . . but only in his mind.

Luchador fight with the world's strongest woman, nobody can overcome her.  (shower scene with world's strongest woman and magician manboy that I would like to forget forever)  Magician manboy seduces world's strongest woman in an attempt to find a woman who can overpower his mom's control over his arms, but mom is far too strong and has a samurai sword at her disposal.

Magician Manboy's victims' become bridal looking zombies and rise from their graves. . . don't worry, I'm sure it's just a metaphor.

Mute girl and Magician are reunited at last!  They may or may not have floated when they kissed.  But Mom enters and commands her son's hands to cut off mute girl's arms.  EPIC STRUGGLE!  He defeats his mom and she  becomes a ghost of some sort, and the clowns are now back to comfort him.

Pigeons, puppets, more clowns, a musical number, a fire hazard, some mannequin violence, a burning in effigy, a midget kiss, and then everyone goes to jail.

The End.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

17 was bad, but 27 was far worse.

  I have discovered that I am under a 10 year curse that requires every year that ends with a 7 to be absolutely miserable.  I don't exactly remember what 7 was like but I know that if I reach 38, I will either be invincible or brain-dead. 

17 may have marked the first time I got to spend an entire year in a state of near debilitating depression, but 27 included getting fired, redacted , being rejected by grad schools 6 times (7 if you count the letter I got from Louisiana last week that informed me of "recent changes to my enrollment status" only to be told that I was still rejected), and a few bouts of depression that were about as bad as I can imagine ever surviving.  Luckily, I'm good at multitasking* so I made sure that 3 or 4 of these things would occur at the same time throughout the year.

28 hasn't been much better than a punch in the crotch:  The morning of my birthday found me in the woods, waking up to discover that all our food, beverages, and many other supplies had been stolen.  Later that day, one of the guys in our group almost drove off the mountain and another car was attacked by deer.  A couple days later a highly inebriated bum named Floyd stumbled into our camp at three in the morning demanding beer and pork or he was going to rape and kill us all.  It was probably the second best birthday I have survived yet.

I've known for the last few months that I have failed at all of the most important of my year's goals.  Sure I read 28 books by June and shat from the branches of a few trees, but all the biking, grad school, and leaving Redding business is out for 2011.  So fuck my previous list and fuck all new year's resolutions that coincide with the calendar year.

Andrew's List 28

Read 52 books
Write up book reviews for them all
Quit smoking
Fix both mopeds
Learn Tai Chi
Learn to play 'Happy Birthday' on the banjo
Learn to solve a Rubik's cube
Learn to love Redding/burn Redding to the ground
Apply to Grad School
Get within spitting distance of 200 lbs
Learn to spit farther

*no I am not.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A study of the effects of reading a book a day for a full week.

It was raining heavily on Sunday but my house had been invaded by teenage girls, so I slogged out to the leaky shed in the far corner of my backyard with a water bottle, some cigarettes, a martini, and Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s Sirens of Titan. I planned to spend an hour reading in the relative peace of a thunderstorm and remained four hours til I was finished with my book.  My butt was sore from sitting on a milk crate and my feet were wet from the two-inch puddle that had accumulated while I sat, but I was quite pleased with my afternoon.  Vonnegut always gives me a feeling of mildly pleasant insanity.  It had been some years since I had read an entire book in one day;  I was happy to find that a great story can still force me to consume it in one sitting.

Monday was sunny and warm so I hung up my hammock and grabbed The Sun Also Rises.  I do not recommend following Vonnegut with Hemingway because the colorful absurdity of the former makes the terse style of the latter feel soulless.  I was almost two thirds of the way through the book before I realized that I was enjoying the story, but it is a quick read anyway, so you never feel as if you are burdened with getting through the slow parts to get to the exciting part of the story.

On Tuesday I decided to pick up another short book to see if I wanted to continue this pattern of literary consumption.  I want to say that I've always loved Steinbeck but that is a stupid thing to say.  Several years ago, I had never read Steinbeck and a few years before that, I couldn't even read.  I do believe I might safely posit that I've always enjoyed playing in mud and boobs but that is about as far as I am willing to go right now with my hyperbolic statements.  Cannery Row was fantastic and I couldn't help but decimate it in one sitting.  I started to feel literarily gluttonous and a bit ridiculous, but it wasn't as if I had anything else going on.

After reading three very different authors, each with a unique style, I decided to go in a strange direction and read a book on style.  Strunk and White's Elements of Style is a great little handbook for anybody who desires to communicate with the written word in the English language.  Nevertheless, reading the whole book is a silly endeavor on any given Wednesday.

One might consider Thursday's read as being a cheat on the formula of starting and finishing a book in a day, but I don't know if it is possible to read Moby Dick that quickly.  I had been reading Moby Dick off and on for about a month and decided it was time to be done with the last third of the book.  This was an easy task because this is a wonderful book.  I felt like it ended a bit too abruptly, but I'm sure many others complain that it drags on far too long.

I debated what to pick up on Friday, and after staring at my shelves of unread books for several minutes, settled on Douglas Coupland's Polaroids from the Dead.  Coupland always puts me in a reflective mood that forces me to write, so when I finished the book, I was forced to sit down and write up reviews for the books I had read so far that week.

On Saturday, I woke up from a nightmare into which parts from each book I've read were integrated.  The part that was inspired by Moby Dick was the most disturbing and vivid.  In my dream, a twelve-year-old boy tied up his six-year-old brother, made an incision from armpit to wrist, and then used a water pick to peal the skin back and see what was inside (This reflects the story told by the captain of the Rachel of how he lost his arm the only time he met the white whale.).  The dream was absurd because there were all sorts of organs inside the arm as if the boy had cut open his brother's torso.  The dream was frightening because the older brother was calm and unemotional while the little brother never cried but never ceased screaming in pain.  The EMT s decided not to untie the child even though he was pleading to be released because they were afraid he'd hurt himself.

I decided to pick up The Crying of Lot 49, a strange book by Thomas Pynchon I had once read twenty pages of and then gave up out of confusion, for my Saturday read.  It wasn't nearly as confusing as I had remembered it. 

I hadn't left the house all week and I felt ridiculous and self-destructive.  One of my friends was in town for a visit and called to invite me to a free beer tasting he said he could get me into.  I debated whether or not to go, which is silly because both free beer and friends are rareities in Redding.  I had an absurd goal to complete though, didn't I?  I decided to stay home and finish my book and then reversed my decision, drank free beer, and hung out with friends, leaving my book unfinished until the following day because reading a book a day for a week is a bad idea.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The best ideas come after midnight.

Buzz Kill
An original Screenplay Concept by Andrew Kooy

Spring break turns deadly when part-time bee keeper, full time madman, Belvidere Bosmoton (played by Crispin Glover) swears deadly vengeance against local marine biologist, Henry Gills (played by Scott Baio) after his daughter, Nancy (played by Miley Cirus) is stung to death by jelly fish and then eaten by sharks. The pristine hamlet of Townville is brought to the brink of destruction when Belvidere discovers that he can control local bees by playing ancient, apiary hymns on the church’s pipe organ and Henry gives his fish a taste for human blood. The town’s only hope lies in Mary Stockworth (played by Megan Fox wearing glasses), social outcast and three year debate team champion, but she is deathly allergic to bee stings and doesn’t know how to swim.

Rated NC-17 for graphic bee violence and anthropomorphic rape

Monday, February 28, 2011

If I don't get into Grad school, I'm blaming it on brain damage.

I have always been a huge nerd. Being known as a nerd is popular these days and my nerdiness still seems a bit odd, so it might be better to call me a dweeb.

I loved school. I suppose I took to heart the public service announcements that "knowledge is power" and figured that school may turn me into a superhero. In high school, I felt lucky that I was allowed my education for free and attempted to take every advantage of it. Through AP courses and extracurricular activities, I only had four classes I needed to take my senior year, yet I filled my schedule with electives like botany and advanced Spanish grammar. Expensive college was around the corner but high school would teach me these things absolutely free. Perhaps I was simply thrifty.

Illness was a nuisance I ignored as much as possible. If my brain was at least somewhat functional and I wasn't throwing up, I would drag myself to school. This would often result in my sickness escalating into some sort of super bug and once, nearly killed me.

I went to school for nearly a week with a pretty severe case of strep throat. I couldn't talk and I felt like crap, but I was taking notes! Eventually the strep throat turned into something much worse (I remember the Doctor saying it turned into a type of scarlet fever but I was hallucinating by then so who could say?).

I was pretty sure I wouldn't be making it to school the next day when it took me three hours to crawl up stairs to the bathroom to take out my contacts. I didn't even make it to the bathroom. My sister noticed me when I finally reached the top step and after I pointed to my eyes she brought me my contact case. She even offered me a thermometer, but I was cognizant enough to know that the only thermometer we had in the house was a rectal one; I was far too fascinated with mercury during my childhood for thermometers to survive long. Descending the stairs didn't take much time, gravity did most of the work.

My brother alerted my parents to the fact that I was having a seizure in the middle of the night. I was hallucinating (more on that later) and woke him up by shouting that I had hit my head and my brains were leaking out. Dad came down and pinned me to the bed so I wouldn't damage myself or my room while Mom called the hospital to let them know I'd be coming in.

Dad dragged me to the front door and went to his room to put some clothes on. Everything was far too hot, so I crawled outside and laid down in a snowdrift in my underwear. When my parents were finally ready, they chided me for going outside. I think they were upset that I had left the door open. Mom wanted me to put clothes on to go to the hospital, but the snow had eased the heat in my brain enough to allow me to threaten that I would vomit all over her if she tried to put clothes on me. Even though I insisted that that was where the heat lived, she forced me to at least wear a hat which I threw under the car before we left.

It is a fifteen minute drive to the hospital from my house, and I decided that the trip would be best spent with my head outside the window. My parents didn't enjoy the refreshing winter breeze like I did, so they forced my window shut. The car was stifling, so I opened my door to get at the breeze until they allowed me to roll my window down again.

Even though I had spent some minutes in a snowbank and fifteen more with my head lolling in the ten degree winter air of a sixty miles-per-hour car ride, my temperature was 103.9 at the hospital. Looking back, I wish I had taken the offered thermometer when I had the chance, for the sake of science.

I find my hallucination fascinating because, though my shouting that I had hit my head and my brains were leaking out implies that it was violent or frightening, the hallucination was, in fact, quite peaceful.

I dreamed I was riding a bicycle along a winding, hilly, tree-shrouded road (I encountered this road again later in a nightmare where I watched my dream son get hit by a car and twitch and jump in paroxysms of death, reminding me of the time I was following Dad home from church and he hit two of Aunt Sherri's cats. That frighteningly violent death-dance illuminated by my headlights is still easy to recall. I would find this road in the waking world too, as that which runs by the Morris' driveway in Maple Valley, WA.). In the reality of this dream, human life had been seeded on earth by aliens and they had secreted some of their alien genes into human DNA. Only recently had these genes made themselves known and then, only in a small percentage of people. If a person had the alien gene, when they hit puberty, they would undergo a change wherein they would develop spots on their neck and the sides of their face and their brain would advance beyond that of a normal human. In my dream, puberty was right around the corner and I hoped that I would end up having the alien gene even though many people hated and feared the part alien people.

I was riding down a very steep hill when puberty hit. I started to spasm because my body was transforming into a partial alien and I crashed my bike. I continued to tumble down the hill with no control over my body, entwined with my bicycle as it jabbed and bruised and bent about my body as I fell. Parts were very hard and painful while others were warm and soft and then the light came on in my room.

I couldn't move or feel but watched as my leg went up and kicked the shelf above my bed. Several books were dislodged and I saw my hand rise and smack them across the room as they fell. My dad ran in and sat on my chest and pinned my arms down. I still couldn't feel anything except a slight pressure on my chest that made it hard to breathe. My head turned toward the hallway and I saw my mom (though she was, in fact, still upstairs) wringing her hands, a perfect caricature of worry. Next to her stood a giant, muscular angel in a white robe. The angel started counting down from five, and when he reached one, my seizure stopped.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I will always hate you.

Enough time has passed to allow me to believe I can talk about this. It started out so well before turning to shit. That is the nature of things though, if they started poorly to begin with, you wouldn't invest your dreams in them enough to taste the blatant nuances of the shit they inevitably turn into. Nevertheless, if I ever see that thundercunt of a year again, I am going to stab her in the face. Yes, I believe that 2010 was a woman and no, I did not enjoy her.

I have always noted my seventeenth year of life as one of the worst I have yet survived. It was my last year in high school and my first year of real depression. I can't name anything specific that happened anymore, but everything was tinged with awfulness. This year was somewhat similar with fantastic bouts of depression punctuated by the stress of things like getting fired and applying to Graduate programs. Now that I think about it, maybe I shouldn't blame 2010 but 27 for this crap. Perhaps I have entered a ten year cycle of notably shitty years, perhaps my depression is triggered by the apprehension of transitions. Remind me of this theory in ten years and I'll let you know.

I'm going to leave the blame on 2010 for now seeing as this is my year-end recap because that would make more sense. I made a list last year. I forgot to do a bunch of it and some things I did accidentally. Anyway, here it is:

Finish Don Quixote sculpture
Finish Baby Chandalier
make at least 10 trees
do some other sculptures like the picture colage idea or give the sexiest lamp ever a lamp
Do 100 consecutive pushups
do 100 consecutive situps
Get to 1000 miles before lauren has her baby
ride to Jen's parent's house for easter
ride a century
lose 50 pounds
Give up smoking, drinking, and meat for lent
fix at least one moped
get rid of crap car
have a kick-ass garden
read your height in books
read a large portion of my to-read books (currently a little more than two shelves=60 books)
read through the bible again
Make whiskey
Make Gin
Brew 5 beers
finish "taste of redding" stories
finish the ballad of Taylor and Quiznos
learn to play the banjo
save $10k
gorilla suit (life goal)
apply to grad school

I did a good job with the sculpture goals, though I did not make the baby chandelier because I have nowhere to put it now that my sister has moved to a small apartment. And it's a good thing I didn't put a lamp on the sexiest lamp ever because I now use her for my "making friends" project. I completed all of my bicycling goals and ended up riding five centuries and succeeded at Lent but I did not do the sit-ups and push-ups. I lost about 40 pounds but ended up finding them again. No moped runs, but I ended up actually getting money for Obi-wan Carnobi and my garden was awesome. I did not keep good track of my reading habits after the first three months of the year, but the stack of books I can remember only measures about 32 inches and at least 10 of those inches were classics so I feel okay about that, though I neglected to read through the Bible again. I met all my brewing goals, and even though two of my beers were cosmic abortions, I feel that I made up for it by brewing about 5 batches of cider and a couple of gallons of honey mead.

I finished more of the Taste of Redding stories but I've come to the conclusion that I will not be able to be completely done with them until I have quit the town completely (Just the other day a man came up to me in a thrift store and quickly explained how he had mated with a praying mantis and begged her to abort the monstrosity their coupling would create but she refused, gave birth, and then ate the child. One of the employees came up at that time and asked if he was bothering me. "No" he replied "We are all just looking for Gameboy cartridges," he stated before running from the store. . . I don't think this is a Taste of Redding story though, this could have happened anywhere). I did not even remember that I was supposed to write the Ballad of Taylor and Quiznos until I looked at this list. I am sad because I don't know if I remember enough to tell the tale and of all my notes I could only find these two paragraphs:

"You are fucking retarded. You know, all I want is for you to apologize and admit that you are the biggest asshole I have ever known." It wasn't the first thing she shouted, but stories must begin somewhere, and it is nice to know the terms of surrender at the beginning of a conflict. If I was to start at the beginning it would have to be before I ever even saw her.

He was the setter of the scene like the director of a Shakespeare play placing Juliet on the balcony just so and ordering a pillar or a bush or something to be placed on the stage so that Romeo will have something to stand by as he confesses his love. Our director introduced the scene by stumbling out of the back door and, with a flourish and a bow, vomited in a wide arc. The contents of his stomach hit the ground in wet plops that were not unlike the smattering of awkward applause from an audience who isn't sure what it is they are watching or when to clap, so a few individuals have decided to clap at various points in the play because it is important to show support for the arts. He sipped his miraculously unspilt drink as he stumbled back inside, secure in the knowledge that he had fulfilled his duty by directing our attentions to the stage upon which drama was about to unfold.

I'm pretty sure I was reading Terry Pratchet when I wrote that. The rest of the list are all successes though, except the banjo, that is moving to my 2011 list. Speaking of which, here it is:

Learn to play the banjo
Loose 50 pounds
Read a fuckload of books
Learn to meditate
Get a Moped running
Fix up the bikes
Make Daphne
Sell some sculptures
Attempt to practice normal people hygiene
Get to 1000 miles sooner than last year
Bike to Paradise for Easter, Chico century, Redding century, STP
Get into Grad School
Leave Redding forever
Climb a tree and shit from the branches (at least 3x)

I've started on some of these, others are out of my hands completely, and at least one of these is nearly impossible. 2011 may still turn out to be a shit year, but I figure any year that trades the traditional kiss and champagne toasts for a slap and violently painful flu has some promise. At the very least, it's all uphill from there. Right?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A title? Whatever, nevermind.

According to my nephew's chalkboard and my math, between the three times I've taken the GRE and the 6 schools I applied to I've spent $992 applying to Graduate school. Couple that with the four months I've spent unemployed and this may very well be the single greatest monetary mistake I've made to date. Everything is in the mail or already received so it is all out of my hands.

I discovered a few things about myself in this process, the foremost thing being that I hate my wife's laptop (every time I go to hit backspace I get backslash and I keep moving everything thanks to the touchpad mouse). I learned that I don't get writer's block. I have plenty of things to write about and I am only stymied when I try to write in a manner that is untrue to my voice. I think there were a couple of other things but I forgot them so the other thing I learned is that applying to graduate school is the worst experience ever. It is very slightly similar to any job application but all your dreams about the future are tied up in the process. Very few of the schools do anything to help because they make their websites so poorly organized that it is much easier to make a mistake than apply correctly and they give you three different ways in which you are required to submit your materials. I'm sorry but I haven't yet sired any children so I don't have the blood of my innocent progeny to sign my name with (sure it dangles but that's how I likez my participles).

While I edited and re-read all my writing samples several dozen or thousand times, I have lost all confidence in my submissions. I have to fend off panick attacks twenty to fifty times a day as I rethink every word. I am not allowing myself to read any of the stories I submitted but luckily I have up to five months to wait to hear back about my dreams.

I think I had a point to all this but I guess I just better get back to learning the banjo so my street performance career can take off.