Monday, October 28, 2002

Since I seem to have a lot of friends who are either Aimee Mann or Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans, or both, I figured I'd pass this little bit of news on that came to me from an Aimee Mann newsgroup:

"Aimee Mann and the band will be apearing on Buffy the Vampire Slayer Tuesday November 19th. They play a couple of of songs at the Bronze when all hell breaks loose at the club, literally. Tune into the UPN at 8pm EST and watch Aimee knock 'em dead on Buffy."

How cool is that? I wonder if Aimee gets to kick some vampire ass or if she'll just get a little musical cameo like Macy Gray did in Spider Man. Maybe she could like smash her guitar over the heads of vampires, and just lose it generally. It'd be cool to see her rage back to back with Buffy.

If you haven't gone and read Barb's post about learning to drive yet, by God, go and read it. It'll make you laugh for a least an hour.

As a new non-driver, hearing a former non-driver's experience with learning to drive brought back all the memories of why I hated to drive in the first place. Those instructors, too, can be pretty annoying.

All best wishes, Bahb!

Sunday, October 27, 2002

So I've been thinking this: There are lots of things in our lives that add up to who you are, even if you don't realize what some of those things are until enough time and distance has been put between the you you are and the one you were, the one who is endlessly calling your name from the other side of the bridge you've crossed over.

I don't know much more than that at the moment.

Saturday, October 26, 2002

Ever hear the one about the guy who likes the girl who casually dates a personal trainer?

Or the one about the guy who gets a little too friendly with a girl who likes him, whose boyfriend is bouncer?

Or the one about the guy who should really wait to dance with a student of his until after the semester is over.

No. No punchlines. But there will be someday, I'm sure.

Friday, October 25, 2002

Went to a poetry reading last night by H.L. Hix. He was very good, and his book of essays, As Easy as Lying, is good too. Afterwards, went to the after-reading party and mingled with others. Guess who was old freshman writing instructor with the knee-high black boots. We caught up. She's writing young adult novels now. I don't think she's published any yet, though. If anyone can hook me up with a young adult editor, ahem, I would owe you BIG.

Going to a ghost walk tonight--not a haunted house. It's put on in the next town over, Warren, in the historic district. You're led around by a guide who takes you to historic sites, and at each one an actor plays the part of a local famous ghost and tells you their story. I used to go to this in high school and thought it was awesome. I hope it isn't like reading a book I really liked at fourteen, and then try to reread it and think, What the hell did I like about this?

Then we're off to Cancun, best Mexican in Y-town, and then to Cedars to hear a friend's band play. Everyone have a good weekend. Less than a week till World Fantasy. Counting down the minutes.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

I've been in a minor funk the past two days. Nothing spectacular. Really, I think, some of that autumnal sadness I've mentioned my mom and I have. Change of the seasons, the end of something, so to speak. Winter riding at your heels.

I gave a presentation this evening in my writing workshop about genre-bending fiction, interstitial fiction, slipstream writing--take your pick, there are some minor differences, but they all seem to have some things in common. Before it was time for me to present on this subject, though, we got into this discussion on Modernist writers and Postmodernist writers. The professor asked the class how many of us had studied Modernism in literature. I raised my hand. He asked how many have studied Postmodernism in literature. I raised my hand. No one else had--or if they had read and studied either, they weren't aware of it. I know for sure some of them have read Modernist writers, as I had a class on James Joyce with a couple of them last spring. They just didn't have an awareness of literary historical contexts. That's fine, but the prof ended up asking me to describe these isms to the rest of the class, and I ended up talking for about forty minutes, and then gave my presentation on top of that, which was about twenty minutes long, so I felt like I'd pretty much lectured for most of the class period. A couple of students came up to me after class and said something to the effect of, "All those writers and books you referred to, did you read them all?" I said, "Yes." They said, "Wow, how literary." I kind of laughed. Kind of.

It depressed me a little. That's all. I mean, it felt good to be able to talk at length about things I know a bit about, and make sense, and feel like I was communicating at a reasonably effective level, but I was also a bit disappointed.

Oh well--I'm good at studying these things on my own. I'm used to not having a peer group, although I love it when I do have one, even if for fleeting periods of time, or through the internet.

I'm gonna make a late dinner and take a bath and drink some tea and read something that doesn't have anything to do with school readings, then try sleeping. Lately it's either been, I can't fall asleep for hours on end, or else I wake up four hours into sleep, and am then up for four hours, until I fall asleep again, usually for four or five more hours. Very disjointed. I try to fill the awake time in between with school work, so I get lots done that way. Hopefully this will sort itself out over time.

Hope everyone out there is well and good.

Monday, October 21, 2002

The church that sits beside my house is ringing its bells. Every hour on the hour, until ten o'clock at night, then they quiet them to keep the neighborhood peaceful for early sleepers. But I'm not an early to bed sort of guy, and I miss the bells when they stop ringing them at night. Their ringing is soft and muted, hollow and echoing--the ringing hangs over the trees in the park across the street and hang there, suspended, an absence, for the rest of the night. Come morning, they ring life back into the city. Get up! Get up again!

I'm not a religious person, but I have a soft spot for ritual.

If you haven't visited Ursula Leguin's website yet, do so. There's lots of great stuff to explore, just like in her stories and novels and poetry. I often wonder why we've had an Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine for so many years, but no Leguin's Science Fiction Magazine. Or no Leguin's Fiction. Or no Leguin's Magazine, simple as that. I would love to edit that magazine's content. Alas, I've never had the chance to meet the great lady. If I do, I'll ask her for permission to make that magazine. She's been a guiding spirit in my life and writing for years now. The range of voice and tone and genre and concern and geography and philosophical quandary and form exemplified in her career is staggering, and what I use as a compass for direction in my own writing.

To LeGuin, and churchbells.

Sunday, October 20, 2002

Went to hear Jackie's brother's band, Running on Empty, play tonight at Irish Bob's, a very blue collar homey bar on the South Side. They're somewhere between Radiohead, Rush, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers, which is to say, they're wonderful. Then we scooted over to the Mixx, the gay/bi/straight bar in the Uptown, where we shook our asses for an hour or so. I haven't been out dancing for a good month or so, and was glad to move myself around a little.

I graded essays in the afternoon.

I wrote a little in the thesis introduction, not enough though.

I also got the print version of The Vestal Review in the mail, where I've recently published a story.

I also got a copy of Megan Linholm's Wizard of the Pigeons in the mail too. Megan (or should I say, Robin Hobb)! Go back to writing books like this!

Love and more love.

Saturday, October 19, 2002

So I was up with insomnia tonight. Took a bath, wrote a little, read a little, listened to Neko Case a little, talked to Kristin Livdahl a little, made Carribean Jerk chicken, and ate a little, then searched the web a little. Something of interest I found. My name apparently has deeply important religious meaning. Here is what someone posted on a spirituality board:

"With every human being God creates, he assigns a Qareen. The Qareen is the Jinn mate or companion of the human being and that is what you refer to as higher self. The Qareen is made of Jinn and since the creation of Jinn is different from that of the human beings, their actions are also different. They are also of different kinds just as the human beings are of different races. When we die, we do not go to the light, we go to a place called Barzak where we wait till the Day of Judgement. I hope the above information will shed some LIGHT on your knowledge of the soul."

Hmmph! Who would have thunk it??!!

I have this friend who works in a porn store. I visited her one night and she had a camera with her. She works at the porn store ironically. This is the picture of me that she took, which we have named, "So much porn, so little time". I think it would be a hit in the photography world, don't you?

Friday, October 18, 2002

My mother is one of the biggest worriers in the world. My mother is like Mrs. Wilcox, in E.M. Forster's, Howard's End, who says that there would be no war if all the mother's of all the nations were allowed to conference together. What mother wants to see their child go off to war and be killed, or kill others?

My mother's imagination engages her worrying as well. All of us in my family have had good laughs at her expense in the past. Some of the things she comes up with to worry about are quite fantastical. But then, often sometimes it seems that at some level she's worrying about things that no one else quite notices, or sees that they should be worried about. I can see the look in her eyes when talk of the recent sniper killings arises. She's thinking it could happen here. She's always on the defense when it comes to her family.

I had a favorite story that both my mother and father would tell when I was a child. My mother tells the story better, but my father's rendition has its own wonderful grace notes. This is the story:

When my mother and father were first married, and they'd already had my oldest brother, my father went out to hunt one late afternoon, and my mother was doing things around the house. She had the television on to keep her company. She always feels a bit lonely in autumn, but in a good way, and I've inherited this from her. We also have always had a scanner in our house. My father worked for the roads department in our county, starting off as a crewman and working his way up to a supervisory position before he retired. We had the scanner so he could keep track of what his department was up to throughout the night. Often he would leave for work before they even called him out of the house, because he'd heard them say over the scanner, "Call Donnie Barzak in to get the plows out here." Or whatever the problem of the season presented. That afternoon, my mother heard on the television that a man in a Pennsylvania prison had escaped and headed towards Ohio. We live on the Pennsylvania/Ohio border. My mother went to the scanner and tuned it to the police channel, because she knew there would be more up to date information passing through it than on television. As soon as she heard this man had escaped, and was considered dangerous (he was a murderer, they emphasized), she thought for sure it would affect our family somehow. Crazy, right? I mean, what are the chances?

My father arrived home later with a strange look on his face. He looked confused, and told my mother that he'd come across a stranger in the woods. The man wasn't hunting. He had odd clothes on that looked more like a uniform, and when my father called out to him to see if he needed help, he bolted into a thicket and ran away. On the television, the escapee's picture was constantly being flashed. My father said, "While I'll be. That's that crazy guy in the woods." My parents called the police and the man was found within a couple of days.

My mother always uses this story to defend her worries. She has other validating stories as well. I try not to hassle her about worrying much anymore, because she's usually keying into something, like she has this ability to see all the threads factoring into a potential tragedy.

This is the closest my family has come to Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find", for which I am very grateful.

TGIF, you know? I'm with Bond, Gwenda Bond. This week took entirely too long. I am thinking it might even have something to do with having a web log. Hmm? If such time dilation continues, I will post less.

They found a Dinosaur with meat and skin and a full stomach, mummified!

So I skipped out on class yesterday, then ran into one of my classmates after the class was over. I missed a crazy presentation, I guess, and the professor asking another student why he was giving her a dirty look. Drama drama drama. The classmate who stopped to talk to me, I don't really know him. He's a new grad student this year. He asked if I wanted to go back to his house and have a few beers. "Um, ok," I said. He drives us there and this house is huge in a really nice area of the city (nice, considering, of course). I say, "Wow, this is a wonderful house," and he says, "Yeah, I married into it."

He's intelligent but we're always butting heads in class. He has this Platonic idea that Truth exists somewhere out there, above us. He asks what I think about that. I say, "Um, sure. But I don't think it has a capitol "T", and that maybe it isn't without us, but within us." That pretty much is the opposite of what he's saying, and we both know it, but we go on talking about other things.

I'm always hesitant to "talk shop" outside of school. I mean, I will, but it's not the first thing I gravitate to. But I've seen him getting frustrated with the predominance of relativity as a worldview in the classroom, which is kind of scary to see someone getting upset about, and so I figured I'd hear his story and see what was up. Nice guy. But the whole Platonic ideal broke my heart.

Later I had wings with other grad students, and we talked about comic books. This was much fun.

Not sure what I'm doing with myself this weekend, other than grading a stack of essays, writing a critical introduction to my Master's thesis collection of stories, and generally catching up with other smaller school projects.

I'm feeling heavy with current events lately. I'm going to go back to reading fiction and no television. Bleah. It's bleak out there.

Group hug.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

I'm writing an essay on Raymond Carver and the recovering male figure in his mid-career stories, as opposed to the reckless drunks of his earlier fiction. The other night I gave a presentation on my research and analyses so far, and my prof, who is a gorgeous Oregonian (wanted to put those words together suddenly) said she wants me to present at this Working Class Fiction Conference this spring. I haven't even read my fiction publicly, which I've had a little success and good fortune with publishing. I told her I didn't think the essay was all that earth shaking and she crooked her head to the side and said, "Oh no, I think you should present it. It's strong and intelligent." Her hair keeps swaying as she tells me this. Of course I find myself mesmerised, crooking my head in the same way she is and saying, "Ok, yeah, um sure, that--that sounds great," and feel the same butterflies she called up in me when I was twenty years old instead of twenty-seven, and she first walked into my Intro to Literary Theory class with those black knee-length boots and a short skirt on. Ouch. Help me. She and my freshman writing intructor (also a knee length boot wearer--ladies, take notice) totally rearranged my world when I got to college. My freshman writing instructor wrote stories and poetry and read them at a seedy little bohemian bar (Cedars! Yay!) on Friday nights. I curled up like a cat for her when she invited me to the place when I was still only 18.

She got me into the bar. She let me share her wine. Obviously you can imagine the fantasies a small town boy began having at this point. Knee length black boots, bars, poetry, wine. I had a friend with me who was still in high school who totally thought she was hot too, and when she asked him if he wrote, he said, "Yes, poetry." She said, "Oh what do you write about?" He said, "Really deep stuff". And I burst out laughing uncontrollably. He was mad at me for days, but eventually laughed a little (just a little) at himself too.

We argued a little about which one of us she liked better. I had the piece of evidence that made this absolutely unarguable. She had shared her wine with me. Not him. So there.

Nostalgia is a terrible thing to waste.

An early post. I haven't been to sleep yet. Was up all night with my ex-girlfriend. She came over and we cooked lots of food and watched a documentary on William Gibson on the Independent Film Channel (yes, I have good television options again, but I'm not hooked like I had been in Michigan with Cable) and we sang Bessie Smith songs.

If you've never listened to Bessie Smith, you absolutely must do so. She's the empress of blues. Absolutely sad and funny and rowdy all at once. I suggest these songs, if you are of a mind to download: "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out", "A Good Man is Hard to Find", "Me and My Gin", "Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl", and "Mean Old Bedbug Blues".

Not Bessie--try to find the Bob Marley/Fugees remake of "No Woman, No Cry". It's wonderful.

Hmm, Tori Amos has a great cover of Stevie Nicks's "Landslide" you should find also. I played this song day and night for about five days straight several weeks ago. I would leave the apartment in the morning for school, and come home to it still playing. I clench up to the lines in that song.

Well, it's time for me to find a pillow.

Morning all. Goodnight.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

So. I spoke too soon. Not an emergency, really, but sad bad news. I received a phone call from my stalker today telling me that an old friend of ours died yesterday. Rich, the old friend with whom I graduated high school, like many of the people I know in this deranged corner of America, had a really twisted life. We used to play Dungeons and Dragons together (yes, that was one of my many many sordid past pastimes). He was a wonderful artist. When we graduated high school, he received a full ride to the Pittsburgh Institute of Art. While he was living in Pitt, though, about five years ago or thereabouts, he was forced off of an overpass by a crazed driver. He almost died then, but didn't, and when he woke up in the hospital, he had a metal plate in his head. He didn't know how to draw or paint anymore. He once told me he still saw the images in his head, but he didn't know how to make his hands make them anymore. He was always a little off center after this. I haven't talked to him in years now.

He died in his own house last night. I asked my stalker if he thought there was foul play. "No," said my stalker. "I think he probably killed himself."

So now I guess it'll be a waiting game until that information is released.

I was really hoping to keep this log playful, but my life is pretty equitable with that guy in "To Build a Fire", by Jack London. Every time I get the damned fired going, snow falls from a tree limb above me, and puts the fire out.

In the interest of keeping the fire going, I suggest you click on some of the websites listed on your left. Imagine me showcasing them like one of the showgirls on The Price is Right, sliding my fingers down the list from top to bottom. Hmm? Which shall you choose? Ptarmigan? Or That Damned Bond Girl? Maybe Little Monster. Or visit Mr. Butner and visit the potter's link. Very interesting.

It's raining here. Rain has always made me sleepy, and since I live in an attic apartment, and sleep under a slanted roof, the rain kept me mesmerized for most of the morning. I woke to the door buzzer and received a package from my good friend Elad, in San Fran, who has sent me stories and a novel he has written. This cheers me immensely!

I'm off to teach now, then to my own classes.

Everyone be good now.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

In the tradition of keeping an online journal, like oh so many of my friends do, I'll begin with this--a link to the Frank O'Hara poem for which this web log is named. Thanks to the ever omnijovial Alan DeNiro for introducing me to this poem in the beautifully nostalgic summer of 1998.

Meditations in an Emergency

The next test will be to see just how many meditations correlate with emergencies. As I have recently retired from drama, this log will most likely be pretty vanilla.