July 29th, 2003

flavored with age

Bathroom update

Bathroom ceiling in my apartment: still collapsed.

Landlady has not called; possibly she is still out of town, possibly in Panama. I really, really need to shave and cut my hair, but I'm afraid to spend the amount of time these activities will take in the bathroom.

More updates as they occur. If I am killed by a collapsing hunk of plaster while taking a crap, please promise you will link the News of the Wierd update on your journals.
flavored with age

This comma that

- Today is my mom's birthday. She's 70. She's also notoriously hard to buy presents for. She's one of those people who says "oh, just get me anything, I don't care", and then complains for the next ten years about how what you got her wasn't what she wanted. (Hi mom! I love you! Thank goodness you can't read this journal!)

Last year, for example, I decided that since my mom likes movies, I would bring her out of the dark ages by getting her a DVD player to replace her ancient VCR. I also bought her season one of "The Sopranos", since she's a big fan of sex and violence.

Anyway, here we are, almost to August -- a good eight months since I bought her the DVD player -- and she still hasn't watched it. She continues to rent movies on VHS, and has not used the DVD player to watch "The Sopranos", or anything else. She claims to be 'too busy', which, considering that she is retired, strikes me as improbable. Nonetheless, she maintains that the DVD player, which she has never used, was a 'great present'.

So, anyway, for her birthday this year, I told her to make me a list of things she wanted, and I would buy her stuff off the list. She included lots of jewelry which I can't afford, lots of gift cards which I can, and odd items like postage stamps. Yes, my mom asked for postage stamps for her birthday. Mom, you old romantic smoothie, you! What's next, an iron? A broom? (And did I get her postage stamps for her birthday? You know I did.)

- I don't wish to imply, in my previous post, that our landlady is a bad one. She's usually quite attentive about repairs -- when our sink was leaking recently, she sent a guy over within a few hours of my calling her -- and she's generally friendly and even lets us go without raising the rent every few years. It's just that she's out of town pretty much all the time. Also, I suspect that in addition to being Panamanian, she is a lesbian. She lives with another woman, who is in charge of coordinating all the repairs and improvements on our building while the landlady takes care of the financial end of it; when we first moved in, the landlady said "I'm software, and she's hardware." Ha! (Hi Irma & Olga! You guys rock! I'm glad you don't read this journal either!)

- I've been thinking about country music radio lately, largely because that jackass Toby Keith has the #1 country song with that piece-of-shit pro-lynching anthem "Beer for My Horses". I've also been thinking about how pretty much any great country singer of the past, all the legends I love and admire -- Hank Williams, Flatt & Scruggs, Bill Monroe, Porter Wagoner, the Louvin Brothers, etc. -- would stand zero chance of getting a record contract in Nashville today. (In fact, living country legends -- amazingly talented guys like Johnny Cash and George Jones -- are unable to get contracts today, and have had to sign with non-country or tiny indie labels.) Anyway, this got me to thinking about how country music today is essentially the bad pop music of 10 years ago, and how much country videos resemble the rock videos of the very early 1990s. And I seem to recall someone writing an LJ entry about this. marlysmullen, was this you? And did you happen to save it, by any chance?

- My step-uncle died last week, and I went to the card shop to get a sympathy card for my aunt. I noticed that the sympathy cards are all tucked away, almost hidden; like they live in a sad little ghetto all their own. I think the greeting card industry doesn't want to call attention to the fact that somewhere in there, among the Far Side cards and the wacky birthday cards and the "you're a great secretary" cards are big fat reminders of mortality.

- A conservative friend of mine was lamenting the other day about how, supposedly, liberals are against the war in Iraq (don't call it a quagmire!) not because they have any legitimate quarrel with it, but because they are simply blinded by their hatred of George W. Bush.

Now, I don't completely agree with this. I mean, not to put too fine a point on it, but I hate Bush for a reason. His economic policies are a joke, his cabinet are a bunch of fanatics, the economy is in the shitter, he's systematically destroyed a century of diplomatic relationships, and he got us involved in what is an unjust and unneccesary war no matter how you slice it. That said, I do have a rather negative visceral reaction to the man. I flatter myself that it doesn't overly color my judgment of his abilities (or lack thereof), but I must admit that some things about him drive me absolutely crazy: his faux-folksy speaking voice; his incompetent speechmaking; his PR stunts, dripping with smarmy arrogance; his bad-boss demeanor; his veil of false piety.

But since when is hating the president such a bad thing? Just like with the tactic of stonewalling judicial nominees, Democrats learned from the masters. The GOP -- Orrin Hatch and John Ashcroft, in particular -- invented the stalling techniques that are now being used to great effect by the opposition, and it's fun to watch them choke on their bile as the knife they forged themselves stabs them in the back. Likewise, the Republicans may not have invented the technique of allowing their personal distaste for the president to taint their entire perception of his adminstration, but they certainly perfected it -- under Bill Clinton. They hated him so much, hated every little thing about him, that they were blinded to the fact that under him, the economy thrived and we didn't get involved in any wars. I personally didn't like Clinton; I think he was a mediocre to bad president. But the conservatives </i>loathed</i> him, loathed him like they've loathed no one since Roosevelt -- and they still loathe him. They hate him with a purple passion even though he hasn't been president for 3 years. Every word he utters makes their blood boil, and more than a few pundits have hinted that it will be a glorious day when he finally shuffles off the mortal coil.

I spent 8 years living in a country where the GOP treated a sitting president like he was Satan made flesh and given veto power, and I'm supposed to apologize because it bugs me when Bush says "nuke-yu-lar"? Forget about it.
flavored with age

Prime Minister's Question Time

5 Questions for Leonard:

1) What is your favorite book and why? Are you the kind of person who reads your favorites over and over again, or do you read once and move on?

My favorite book is James Joyce's Ulysses, for a million reasons. It's intelligent, it's sexy, it's funny, it's insightful, it's the founding text of postmodernist literature, it's eminently readable and re-readable, it's brilliantly structured, it has memorable characters, and it's one of the first (and still one of the most successful) attempts to place the whole world and everything in it into a single novel. I definitely re-read my favorite books; I'm a different person when I return to a book, and I always get something new out of them when I re-read them. It's a useful thing to do as a writer, too.

2) What's the strangest thing you've ever eaten? How was it?

Hmmm. The strangest isn't neccessarily the worst. I've eaten a lot of wierd meat, like canned rattlesnake, and jellied lights, and sea cucumber. Probably the strangest single thing I have ever eaten was some clam jerky I got at the San Francisco airport a couple of years ago. I had to really think about this one; I'm sorry the answer isn't more interesting.

3) How would you describe your high school experience?

Nighmarish, overlong, unsatisfying, and punctuated with violence. If I had to use a good word to describe high school, it would be "over".

4) When our robot overlords finally take over the planet, what job function do you see yourself being given?

Well, I'd like to think that they'd look upon me as a kindred spirit, or at least a big fan, and would give me a cushy office job, or better yet, an operation to transplant my brain into a robot body. However, realistically, I probably would be turned into fertilizer or put to work building other robots. Perhaps if they have seen my movie, they will give me a job as their poet laureate.

5) If you could have a superpower, which would you prefer: flight or invisibility? Why?

Wow, another tough one. Whenever I'm selecting superpowers, I tend to pick the one that's most likely to save my ass, since I just naturally assume that I would use my powers for evil and a lot of people would want to kill me. Either of these would be useful, but I tend to think that flight would allow me to live slightly longer, since invisibility can be thwarted in so many ways. Eventually they'd blow me out of the air with a SAM, but I could probably have a pretty good time in the meanwhile.

Thanks, maceball! This is a pretty fun meme.

Here's how the rest of you can participate:

THE RULES!
1 -- Leave a comment, saying you want to be interviewed.
2 -- I'll respond. I'll ask you five questions.
3 -- You'll update your journal with my five questions, and your five answers.
4 -- You'll include this explanation.
5 -- You'll ask other people five questions when they want to be interviewed.