Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Put some butter on it. By popular demand.

One thing Wer, Wif, and I have in common is an English professor - whom we've nicknamed T-Unit - who always wore horrible clothing, rusty orange sweaters or woolen suit jackets, and everything with leather elbow patches crusted on. He was fond of saying that they appeared, magically, on everything in his closet, the night he got tenure.

That story has nothing to do with anything [laughter], except that in the days when Wer and Wif were in T-Unit's Beowulf class we would sit to dinner in the dining hall, this with a group of our roommates and friends, and grill him about their relationship, and he would always clam up and get this sheepish grin on his face - a grin similar to what he has right now. [everyone turns to the head table, where he has his head buried in Wif's shoulder.]

Because the truth is that Wer is goofy. [laughter] If anyone here is familiar with the TV show How I Met Your Mother, I think you'll agree with me when I say that he is of the same goofy cast as Marshall, and that Wif fits the bill to be Lily. But Wer, like Marshall, has so many admirable characteristics on top of his goofiness: his loyalty, his passion, and...I knew I would forget one [looking down at my note paper] oh, right, his intelligence. [laughter] I...that came out way more sarcastic than I meant it to be.

And for every compliment I have for Wer, I have three for Wif; the two are a great match for one another. They are the kind of couple, like Marshall and Lily, who, down in DC, would be just as happy to sit on the side of the reflecting pool, rather than visit the Washington Monument or the Lincoln Memorial. [Good-ol-Abe, Wer, and Wif laugh. Everyone else is confused.] Inside joke.

So - and this is where I should raise my glass - congratulations. May your qualities always resonate with one another; may you find happiness with each other, wherever you may be; and may you always love each other, no matter what terrible fashion decisions you may perpetrate.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

And no one was sent to the Underworld.

A while back Ishtar and I went to Sokolniki, an amusement park just outside the city center. What we saw there defies exact description, which is why I must revert to epithets and metaphors...

We saw a most amazing phenomenon of The Walking Dead, a cadre of Ancient Ones dancing in the square. It was marvelous to behold. Half of them were these patrician, refined, elegant specimen; the other half were crazy people. One had a low-slung, blood red muumuu, her cane drooping from one wrist, a silver butterfly matting down her hair, and she was spinning spinning spinning. Ishtar and I danced to Ochi chernye [a famous gypsy song popularized in Soviet times] until we saw the vehemence in the Ancient Ones' gaze. We struck a retreat.

There were more Ancient Ones throughout the park, and they were all so much more striking than their younger counterparts - than the men drinking beers, or the couples shushing squalling children, or the family rollerblading. These were such as had dressed themselves according to daguerreotype standards: the beehives and flowing sundresses of nineteenth century aristocracy, the Virginiae and Septimi who somehow escaped defenestration and riverification.

With such age comes, as the story goes, increased danger. At one point we found ourselves in the woods, Ishtar and I, and the Ancient Ones were bearing down upon us, jealous of our youth, and they were striking their silver hips and chestplates with birchwood staffs and staves. They trapped us in the bathrooms - which were, for once, without a cover charge - and we cowered underneath a sign that said: "Respect the cleaners. Pee in the toilet."

Ishtar called out to the Ancient Ones:
If thou openest not the gate to let me enter,
I will break the door, I will wrench the lock,
I will smash the door-posts, I will force the doors.
I will bring up the dead to eat the living.
And the dead will outnumber the living.
And the Ancient Ones, whose dead acquaintances indeed outnumbered those whom they knew alive, beat a hasty retreat, their muumuus all a'rustling, their canes ne'er touching the ground as they ran, the silver butterflies fluttering like every beat of the wings was taking away another breath from those wrinkled breasts.

And that was how Ishtar saved the day.

Friday, June 18, 2010

I Hate When I have to Show Hometown Pride

This one time a girl asked me where I was from, and I said, "New Hampshire." She got this look on her face like I said I was born in a dumpster, among the pizza boxes and banana peels. All defensive, I said, "Southern New Hampshire, less than an hour outside of Boston. And I've been living out on the seacoast. It's not the boonies you're thinking of."

I'm reading this book, The Wisest Man in America, where the sophistry of a Journalist of Doom™ juxtaposes a granddaughter of that Thoreau transcendentalism personified in a New Hampshire native from the North Country, a man who has successfully predicted every presidential primary since 1960.

I try not to over-identify with the state, cause all, whatever, you know, it's not me and I'm not it, and I might be sad the Old Man fell from the mountain those years back, but that's the extent of it, and I'm trying to be all non-conformist without participating in the herd of independent minds. I still feel the feathers on the Icarus wings start get ruffled every time this Wetherell dude (New Jersey-born) feels the need to make comments about podunk New Hampshire.

I make comments about podunk New Hampshire, but it's different. I speak from experience. This dude describes the North Country like he's only seen it in Transcendentalists' musings, like the closest he's come to standing above the mountaintops is from contemplating Caspar David Friedrich's Wanderer. The Portsmouth of his visions sounds like no Portsmouth I've ever contemplated.

I met some other girl in Moscow, totally by chance, also from New Hampshire. She said, "I want to live in that house up the street from the Walker School in Concord."

I said, "Real funny you should mention that house, my sister, Galinda, used to date the kid who lived there."

"She went out with Murphy?" she exclaimed. "That's so cool!"

I'm fine with self-reflexive mockery or with external criticism. The latter masquerading as the former, though, has to be the perfect act of subterfuge - else it rings false, else it detracts from everything.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

All Hail Your Glorious Machine Lord

There are lots of shiny new phones on the market. Showing here and here.

Now consider this vacuum that cleans your floors, itself.

Good-ol'-Abe, Wer, and I were in a department store, walking off the dry thirst we had from the Bachelor Party of Doom™ that had transpired. Walking, that is, like the old people who get to the mall and power walk in circles like little hamsters in consumerist wheels for days to the thumping sound of techno Cher. That's beside the point (although did you know they call the little sitting areas "Rejuvenation Stations"? That tickled me.) In the department store, we browsed the home appliances section, playing with Martha Stewart's crazy devices, gawking at the beautiful emulsion blenders and their ilk. Good-ol'-Abe mentioned that a friend of his has the Robot Vacuum.

I said, "Oh, man. The one thing a Droid needs to take over the world is mobility."

He looked back and said, "What if you put a Droid on top of one of those?"

I said, "IT'S THE TERMINATOR!" Duh-duh-duh-duh-duh. Duh-duh-duh-duh-duh. (The Terminator [original] theme is 5 amelodic thumps. It varies slightly throughout the series. You can look for it on youtube if you don't trust me.)

This is how the world ends
This is how the world ends
This is how the world ends
Not with a bang but a mobile mobile telephone.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Look for the blue shirts.

Because of the crack squad of monkeys that goes around for the MLB and takes down any unauthorized videos, I can't find a good link on youtube to show you this -- but if you happen to see any recaps of the Sox-Phillies match from Saturday, most particularly Nava's 2nd inning grand slam, you will see the Ol' Hateful* and all his friends, two rows back from where the ball landed in the dugout.

Bachelor Party of Doom™! Mwahaha.

*Lest I be misinterpreted - a Jack Kerouac citation - atop Desolation Mountain he says, "I will come face to face with god or Tathagata and find out once and for all what is the meaning…instead I'd come face to face with myself…face to face with ole Hateful Duluoz Me."

Sunday, June 6, 2010

You Decide Where Story Ends, Fiction Begins

This is important - when I say "Main Street" it means a two-lane small town winding path that turns into suburbia closer to the capitol. The following takes place in the small town section.

I watched a cop car pass me by before I ran onto Main Street. I was running along it, and a car ahead pulled over, hazards flashing, and the cop had pulled a U-Turn to stop beside it.

A car pulled over, hazards flashing, and the cop had pulled a U-turn and stopped behind it. I would have to pass them by, and I didn't want to run in the middle of the road, podunk as Main Street may be -- but I was also aware of how my emergence from behind the SUV might closer resemble a cockroach emerging from its bedroom post metamorphosis than anything else.

I turned all Kafka on the world, and became a shade among the SUV's shadows. When I reached its back bumper Driver!Cop had exited, while Shotgun!Cop hung out. Driver!Cop, a short man with close-cropped blond hair and glasses, visibly startled by my appearance, rested a hand on his weapon.

I tore out my iPod's earpieces. "Yes, do it! Draw your weapon on me! It's the last piece I need to take down the corrupt enterprise that is this legal system. I can see the headlines now: 'Bow Cop Arraigned on Charges of Criminal Threatening of Unarmed Passerby.' Do it! Do it, you won't, do it!"

That was when Shotgun!Cop exited the vehicle.

A couple hours later, when I had become intimately aware with what I can only assume was the small town equivalent of a drunk tank, my parents came to pick me up. Miraculously, the iPod Shuffle of DOOM™, which normally only has about 45 minutes of battery life, was still paused on The Killers (A Crippling Blow). I had one earpiece in when I said to the parents - I think the cops were still in earshot - "It was worth it."

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Oh, and Hemingway does not write chick lit.

As close to a manifesto as I'll get since the last one.
...When they invite you to the party
remember what parties are like
before answering.
Someone telling you in a loud voice
they once wrote a poem.
Greasy sausage balls on a paper plate.
Then reply.

If they say We should get together
say why?

It's not that you don't love them anymore.
You're trying to remember something
too important to forget.
Trees. The monastery bell at twilight.
Tell them you have a new project.
It will never be finished...
-from "The Art of Disappearing" by Naomi Shihab Nye