The Daily Routine

Every morning after I awake, I sit down to read my morning's news and comics.

I use Firefox, and build all of my bookmarks into my Bookmarks toolbar folder, so all of my stuff is sorted in subfolders that are drop-down clickable right there at the top of my screen.
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So each morning, I use the 'open in tabs' command to simultaneously pull all the links out of three folders in a row. Even if it's not an update day for half of the links in that category, this saves me time and allows to me check for any breaking news.

I read comics, artistic collections, and blogs this way. Among the list of daily victims are blogs, photoblogs, web comics, print comics and even a satire site or two. And each day, my computer diligently pings all of these pages, pulls the cover page from each, and displays it for me.

Now, it occurs to me (since I run sitemeter here to track my own traffic) that there must be several websites where my daily visit is dutifully recorded by some tracking software package and I show up as a visitor to that site, even though I knew it wasn't a day for an update and only opened it because I was opening everything else in that subfolder.

Now, the tracking software I use shows time-on-page between loads, but of course if you only access the first page and then close the window the software can't record the amount of time you spent reading. So it makes me wonder if my daily visits are falsely or accurately increasing someone's page logs? Making up for those people using ghosting re-routers or just taking up extra space?

Who knows. It also makes me wonder about my own visitors. Makes me want to delve just a little bit deeper than tracking how many visit, to tracking who visits. That user that spent 5 minutes reading from a student account in Japan? Who was s/he? What about that 45 minute browsing session from someone in Pacific Time? Do I know them? I once had friends and contacts on the West Coast; it is possible.

Do my updates leave an impression or do most of the people who got here by random browsing merely shrug and skip it for the next blog? What is their reasoning? Are there not enough pictures or is the layout too spartan?

Does traffic reporting make me a better writer, by giving me a feedback loop to my readership, or does it do what I always feared comments would do--give my readers control over my voice and my writing, leaving me little more than a people-pleaser again?

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Goonies and Geeks.

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I have a theory about the movie The Goonies.

I say that for any sufficiently sized group of people (more than 4, less than 12) that have known each other for a while, each person worth something can be modeled by a hybrid of no more than two Goonies characters when they find themselves in an 'adventure' sort of situation.

For example, I am Mikey, with a little bit of Data thrown in. I used to be Chunks. I have a friend who is exactly like Brand. I have another friend who is Steph, and another who is Andy. I imagine that if you thought about your core group of friends, and the big things you've done together, you'd start to see which were Goonies, and which goonies at that. Some people aren't cut out to be Goonies. They don't have the constitution for it. But the ones that do are easy to identify in the face of difficulties--Goonies never say die.

Of course, it's possible you haven't seen the Goonies, or not recently: Go hunt it up. It's a great movie from my generation's childhood, and we grew up on it. While our babysitters were watching the Breakfast Club and identifying with the Princess, the Brain, the Jock, The Criminal, and the Psycho, we were in the next room watching the Goonies. Each generation has movies that define them. Movies that speak to their most stereotypical and elemental members.

I got to thinking a few months ago about a movie I haven't seen in a long time, that I nearly wore out the VHS tape for in our old VCR. It's called Space Camp. It was The Goonies for Geeks.

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There are five kids. The incredibly-young Star-Wars geek, the "I'm too cool for this" geek, the earnest and hard worker, the photographic-memory bubblegum girl, and the Geek-with-a-Dream. On a weekend drill mission where a group of space camp kids actually run through a launch simulation, a technical error forced by a robot named Jinx puts them in orbit.

Growing up, I was Max, the smart but immature kid with the big imagination. But just like with the goonies, each of these archetypes can be applied to most members of a geek gathering. Maybe you'll have to combine two of the characters, but normally not more than that. Of course, if your friends are not all geeks, some of them won't fit into these molds. Fact of life. Just like those with weak convictions can't be Goonies, it takes a certain kind of person to fit the space camp mold.

Each of us has a movie that helped us realize who we were. We let the movies reveal to us who we could be, and sometimes we use the movies as guides for our lives. What role models have you chosen because you thought they reflected who you were, instead of who you wanted to be? Have you sold yourself short? I hope not.

I'm not Max from Space Camp anymore. I don't ramble on about Jedi Knights and The Force these days. I'm not the brain from the Breakfast Club anymore either. These days I see different films and recognize myself in different faces. But a trip down memory lane opened my eyes to some interesting habits of mine, and the movies that spawned them. What will you realize when you take your own journey?

Monday, May 30, 2005

Smart People and Bad Ideas.

Scott Berkun, pundit, software project management specialist and all-around wiz-kid of leadership and communication, has written a little essay called "Why smart people defend bad ideas" over at his website.

It's a good article that I skimmed through this morning. It doesn't just cover why those of us with intellectual power abuse it, but also how to defuse such situations and how to bring the discussion back to a point on your own turf where the idea can be isolated from its proponent and even talked down.

It's a good little article, and if you find yourself often arguing with intelligent people about genuinely bad ideas, I recommend a glance over it.

The information would have been a lot more useful to me three years ago. Now, since I rarely engage in debate on any topic, it serves little purpose. These days it appears I prefer to merely hear the other person's point of view and then nod and smile and file their thoughts away for future reference.

Some other unrelated links and news.

First, Blue, over at DeepBlueSee, has posted an awesome entry about the effects of summer and other things. It's insightful, smart, and hits home for me, and not just because Blue is my little brother. Many blog entries by college students are just snapshots. This one is a photograph.

Second, Incidents and Accidents, one of my favorite melodramatic "life hurts" blogs, has updated again, and today's "Arrivederci ... magari" update is outstanding.

And for local news: Another installment in the Pellicio fiction serial is coming soon. Maybe later today. If you're into seduction, betrayal, mentorship and--oh yes, blood drinking lords of the night--it might be right up your alley. Heads up: I take it back. I won't be able to post the second Pellicio update for another week or so. Sorry. It's a work in progress and it needs more editing.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Moving On.

When I was young, I once thought of myself as a rock of permanence in a world of change.

Now that I have grown, and found my stride, I have discovered that it is as a shifting specter of change in a world of stasis. And the next change is coming. I can almost taste it on the breeze. It whispers to me in the summer stillness of mid-morning "soon."

Lord, I was born a ramblin' man
Trying to make a living and doing the best I can
When it's time for leaving, I hope you'll understand
That I was born a rambling man[1]

As a child there was a phrase I read once in a book that changed my life, "Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky." It was phrase for me. My title. I knew it. It etched itself deep into my conscious and remained there through years in which I became more serious. More dramatic. Years during which my annoying banter and cocky attitude only served to cover up my inward attempts at rooting myself to something more permanent than me.

Why did I struggle against my very nature? I don't know.

Take it easy, take it easy
Don'’t let the sound of your own wheels
Drive you crazy
Lighten up while you still can
Don'’t even try to understand
Just find a place to make your stand
And take it easy[2]

I have learned much since those early days. I have traveled far and met many. There have been cities that welcomed me as if they would be my homes, but they were temporary resting places for me. There have been women who loved me as if they would have been my wives, and I loved them in my way, but each became only a temporary respite from a longer journey. There have been employments and titles and positions that I have held, but each has proved but a method of moving from one step to the next.

And I find myself writing as a method of expression. I am searching for gold. I am panning out my life and letting the answers glint in the sunlight among the questions and confusion.

So that is how I learned the lesson that everyone is alone.
And your eyes must do some raining if you are ever going to grow.
But when crying don't help and you can't compose yourself.
It is best to compose a poem, an honest verse of longing or simple song of hope.[3]

And so each new stage in my life has become a moment in a long passageway full of riddles and puzzles. At each stopping point I occupy my time with discovering the next doorway, and the next key that will open it. What lies beyond the next door, and the next key? Another door, another key, perhaps.

And as I exit each room I leave behind a phase and a friendship and a lover and a dream that I could have been happy in that room--that my restlessness would pass in time. And in each new room there is a new set of faces, a new girl that will catch my eye, and a new dream of mine that maybe this is the end of my journey.

But it is never so. The journey will continue.

Am I traveling forward or merely fleeing what is behind me?

How fast will it go?
Can it get me
over her quickly?
Zero to sixty.
Can it outrun her memory?
Yeah, what I really need
is an open road,
and a whole lot of speed.[4]

And some days when my wandering soul gathers depression about it like a cloak against the cold of being unknown, I am challenged by my new aquaintances. Cheer up, they say. Smile.

They don't understand that I cannot combat injustice with happiness for my own sake. I can only put on the smiling face and play the fool when others need it, not when I am choosing my own path. I mourn because it is honest to do so. Leave me be.

Ah, I'd love to wear a rainbow every day,
And tell the world that everything's OK,
But I'll try to carry off a little darkness on my back,
'Till things are brighter, I'm the Man In Black.[5]

And there are days when I find my salvation as I am swept along, only in the destruction of what I once believed more sacred than anything else. There are days when my unique talents and abilities bloom and I can barely keep myself from reaching out, though I know I will not make lives better perhaps I can ease both our burdens. Perhaps touch is not a demon but a magic, that can be either good or evil as it is willed.

And we danced, and we drank,
and I've seen some things you probably never got the chance to see.
Don't worry, Mary,
Cause I'm taking care of Danny
and he's taking care of me.[6]

But at the end of the day when the doors have closed behind me and the new room spreads before my feet. And I can hear the voice I have left behind calling out in muffled tones for my return, I know then where my world lies, here between my shoulders. My existence defined by the edges of my fingertips and nothing more. My universe is my own, and I doubt that I will ever bring another into it.

'Cause I'm a one man guy in the morning
Same in the afternoon.
One man guy when the sun goes down
I whistle me a one man tune.
One man guy a one man guy
Only kind of guy to be.
I'm a one man guy.
I'm a one man guy.
And that one man guy is me.[7]

Song List:
[1] Allman Brothers - Rambling Man
[2] The Eagles - Take it Easy
[3] Bright Eyes - Bowl of Oranges
[4] Montgomery Gentry - Speed
[5] Johnny Cash - Man in Black
[6] Dido - Mary's in India
[7] Rufus Wainright - One Man Guy

Saturday, May 28, 2005

A little bit of history.

As you remember, I talked yesterday about being a Star Wars geek.

As some of you might remember, the first of this new trilogy was released on May 19th, 1999.

Back in high school, a couple of months before some friends of mine and I attended E1 in costume (yes, we were geeks) I tossed my theories about the plot (based on my watching the trailer and some technical reports--I hadn't read the spoilers) in a text file.

6 years , three computer systems and four hard disks later, I ran across that text file today. The "modified" date is still Wednesday, March 17, 1999, 12:29:12 PM.

So here you go. My speculations, at the age of 16, about the possible plot of Episode I, and the movies that follow (they're kindof tossed in together).

For the record, no-one knew Darth Sidious' name yet, and the SW community of the time had simply called him "Darth Saul" to make clear that he was Sith and was Maul's master.

Anakin Skywalker:
Must leave home planet and travel along with two Jedi lords, one, Obi-wan-kenobi the other, I don't know. Will eventually submit and train under Darth Saul. . . After DS has defeated the other Jedi. . . probably to the death.

Obi-wan. Must teach and bring up Anakin, will eventually fight against him, though this supposedly occurs on Tatooine, I think it might be changed in location for the movie.

Jedi #2, will council that Obi Wan takes Anakin to train under Yoda, but will be brushed off. Will help with the princess whats-her-name's war. . . Will probably die a grisly death at the hands of Darth Maul.

Princess (I forgot her name): will probably (at a guess) be the eventual object of Anakins Affection. For the first movie though, her part is limited to that of graceful if naive politician, fighting to keep her home planet of something or other from being attacked and invaded by who? Good question, but I think I know the answer >:-)

and thus comes the plot.

Darth Maul and the emperor. Darth Maul (killed by the emperor, at a guess) is on a mission for Palpatine, (but of course, quietly, to the public eye, Darth Maul is the evil invader, and palpatine is just another senator.) of course Palpatine's reason for having Darth Saul under his control is to have this one planet become the center of focus for the galaxy, and the evil and slow way in which the republic handles it will open a way for Palpatine to take control. He will assume military dictatorship while claiming to "help" whatever this planet is. The only thing standing in his way are the Jedi. My Question is really what happens to the rest of the Jedi? He must in this movie, do something to get rid of them. . . force them to scatter. Also, where does Maul meet his end? I would imagine at the hands of the emperor, but perhaps one of the Jedi offs him.

Part of the plan is to kill off the princess, thus causing an uproar that allows the Republic to take military action against the invaders. The uproar allows Palpatine to figurehead the movement, and moves him to power.
I imagine that Anakin plays a remarkably small part in it, perhaps flying for the 'good guys' but I doubt, really doing a lot. that part comes in the second or third movies. After he has married and had two children. Also a conundrum. . . who is the mother? I will not speculate here, suffice it to say Anakin is sufficiently young that he will not be turned in this movie. The next will hold the beginnings of that.

aside from those comments, I have others, but I don't think they will all turn out.

I'm not sure why that matters to any of you readers, but maybe you'll at least find it moderately entertaining which speculations I got right (and which I got wrong) all these years later.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Revenge of the Sith

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So with all the talk about lately, now that I've seen it, I suppose I should weigh in.

For the record, I don't intend to drop any spoilers on you guys, but I might do so inadvertently, and if I do, I apologize.

First though: Anakin becomes Darth Vader. Lets just get that out of the way right now. Because, well. . . if you don't know it, you've been living under a rock since 1983, and deserve to be slapped with the cold hard herring of popular culture. Welcome to the year 2005.

For the record, I'm planning to do another editorial, in a few days maybe, on piracy, ROTS floating around as a Torrent, information in the digital age, and my personal opinions about the MPAA and the RIAA. But that comes later.

For today, let's establish my credentials.

I grew up on the Star Wars movies. I got into the extended Universe at a young age. I own the box sets of both the THX remastered and the Special Edition VHS cassettes. I own a significant portion of the book collection produced up until about 1999, when I started getting out after seeing Episode 1 and getting over it.

I'm the kind of person who, when asked to do word association and given "Darth Vader" comes up with an answer like "redemption" and when given Boba Fett comes up with "Bad Ass." I covet the T-shirt that just says "Han Shot First" in block print. I still chuckle when people use lines from the trilogy in everyday conversation.

I grew up asthmatic, and so Darth Vader always held a special place in my heart, as a character who suffered every moment with an affliction that I feared, hated, and had learned was a part of my life. He was a sort of odd hero to me. Here was a man who in spite of an obvious disability (with which I can relate) manages to rise to power and still possess great physical ability in spite of his illness. For a kid who occasionally had to sit down before reaching the top of a single flight of stairs during attacks, that's an impressive role model and occasionally an inspiration. I'll admit I always felt I had more in common with Darth Vader than I ever did with Luke Skywalker.

Now, the film.

At its beginnings the movie drips cheese. It oscillates from inspired to horrid in moments. One second, Anakin is expressing profound joy at discovering that Padme is pregnant, then in the next moment there is wooden acting, wretched dialogue (how Miss Portman or Mister Christensen forced some of those lines from between their lips I'll never know) and mediocre concept work.

It is frustrating to say the least. Is this a children's film, or a dramatic production? Is it funny and uplifting, or dark and sad? Is it crap, or genius? The film can't quite seem to decide whether to be a masterpiece or a direct-to-TV quality after-school special, and you find yourself caught in the film's identity crises and it keeps you from enjoying the story. And so help me, when I hear names like "Naboo" "Padme" and "Count Dooku" it makes me want to laugh, moreso in the tense 'dramatic' scenes near the middle. Where the hell did they come up with these names?

Ignoring the film's occasional technical idiocy (robots != cyborgs, George) and silliness (dammit, if you're going to be dropping your lightsaber every time you take a fall, put a motherf*cking tether on that shit!), the story drives itself quickly towards its visually gorgeous and logical end. Along the way we come to see justifications for Anakin's decisions but never really understand them or identify with him. He's merely given excuses for his behaviour, the way a mother who is too soft on her son might explain that "well, he's just a very headstrong boy" when he flips her the bird and refuses to follow her teachings. That disappointed me, because I was hoping to get more inside the mind of the Dark Lord and see what drove him towards the efficient, brutal methods of leadership he has adopted by the time we meet him in Episodes IV, V, and VI.

On the acting front, Hayden and Ewan both manage to act their parts well. Ewan manages to actually pull off a character that could be seen as a recognizable landmark on the path between the young Obi-Wan of the first two movies, and the character Sir Alec Guinness created back in 1977. Hayden does 'brooding' very well, which is of course his primary job in the film.

For the rest of the cast, life hums along ok. Frank Oz lends a credible voice to Yoda, and even Natalie Portman, who at times seems distracted and out of place in the film, turns out a scene or two that make you feel she at least read most of her lines before she arrived on the set.

Ian McDarmid makes a wonderful Chancellor Palpatine, and plays his role to the hilt. It is amazing to see the man who played the original Palpatine return to the character's younger years and guide the evolution of what will have become (egads, that tense is awkward!) the wheezing, cackling ball of pure evil portrayed so rivetingly in Return of the Jedi. My only disappointment with Palpatine was that at one point they let the makeup and mask crew go overboard on him, and the result looks a bit ridiculous.

Most of the other characters acting ability is uninspired but unimportant, with the exception of Samuel Jackson. Now, I love Samuel Jackson. His performance in Pulp Fiction includes some of the best monologue and dialogue acting I have ever seen in any movie. His character acting breaks all limits in Changing Lanes. I even liked The Negotiator and Mister Glass from Unbreakable. But WHAT THE HELL is he doing in this movie? He manages to give an incredibly out-of-place feel to every single one of his scenes except the final one, where he finally seems to get it all right. For the rest of the time though, I just find myself wondering what the casting directors were thinking.

The fights are ok. A bit too much flipping about, but a generally cohesive style and a fast pace make them feel exciting and even add a bit of swash and a touch of buckle to scenes that would otherwise be heavyhanded, or just boring.

The final fight scene goes from "awesome" to "tense" to "dramatic" to "melodramatic" to "silly" to "where the F*CK did that come from?!" and all the way back to "dramatic", but the final transition is so fast that it is easy to miss and leaves with you with an odd feeling of anticlimax and silliness.

As far as filmmaking, it varies. Some of the early scenes are static and awkward. For the first half hour I was wondering if they had actually built any real sets for the movie or if it had all been filmed in one big blue room. But they do start using more real sets near the middle and that feeling subsides by the end of the film. There is a fantastic contrast between two medical scenes later on that almost brought a tear to my eye. The introduction of the Darth Vader suit and mask is both inspired and visually stunning. And to top it all off, subtle references and nods are given not just to Episode VI's characters and scenery, but also to plenty of other stuff from the other films, including Peter Cushing, mouse droids, and the far-reaching effects of the ship design work done by Lucasfilm's concept labs.

There are also hidden bits of wit and wisdom in some of the choices of casting and location, which earned my approval and even a wry grin. For example, when the scenery of politically neutral-but-still-influential Alderaan is shown, Switzerland is used for the backdrop. We see early versions of the Imperial Guard (though they disappointingly don't get a chance to show their skills). McCallum's and Lucas' children both have bit parts, and there's even a character credited to one of the design studios as "Javva the Hutt."

Thankfully the outpouring of fan disapproval of Jar Jar obviously had an effect (good job George! Way to listen up, 6 years too late!). Because he doesn't even get a speaking part in this film. In fact, when we see him, it's almost a surprise, and it makes you realize just how completely useless his character really was.

So yes, some concessions were made, but such is always the cost of spinning a cohesive visual reality from the boundless imaginations of a multitude.

In short, am I disappointed? Nah. Was the movie the best thing since sliced bread? No.

But deep down, did I want to throw the devil horns up and shout "ALL HAIL LORD VADER!" when the mask clicked down and all you could hear was that first solitary and ominous breath?

Hell Yes.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Testing a Concept.

So, I found this 'tag tracker' a few months ago called .

That's a test link of their "tag" System. I want to see what it does and how it actually works. The theory is that you can tag posts as you go and their system uses an intelligent grouping and listing system to allow people to check for recent posts on a given tag topic from all over the blogverse. This sort of system allows for the tracking of a specific topic for personal reasons, or just to track blogstorms or the publishing public's opinions on a topic. Pretty sweet, if it works.

Link straight to their main page can be found here.

I've been tossing around the idea of how public I'm going to go with this place, and I'm actually getting to the point where I'm tempted to push it to a consistent post-a-day with several public points of entry and let the crowds in. Right now the daily readership is low (and I don't blame them, following two months of near-silence during my travels in Europe).

I'm hitting a stride in my writing (a lot of it isn't landing here) and I'm starting to hit a point where I enjoy the writing enough that I might actually toss it out here to be mangled by the critics in a comment system. Thas' right kiddos, you might be able to talk back in this space soon! I'm sure you're already drooling for a piece of the action.

Well, in any case, here goes a test of the Technocrati tag system. Lets all go see if the post pops up?

[Hindsight-O-Matic: I'll be damned! It worked!]

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


Bloom Posted by Hello

There is music and laughter lately
and there's prayers and praise there
are reasons to be so happy and beliefs to embrace
there are times to be so angry I'd rather lie in the sun
It's the summer of my lifetime
I've been blessed with some fun

I'm a season past springtime
and my life has gone boom
keep my eyes on the Father
everything is in bloom
- "Memoir" by Audio Adrenaline

Sometimes I still get this stirring feeling, that despite all the weirdness and cynicism and honesty and hate and rage and pain, there might be something out there for me on the other side of the ridge. Not love, and not happiness, those aren't things I'm searching for or things I trust. But there are other things that might be on the other side of the ridge for me. A plan, perhaps, or maybe just a destiny?

Perhaps Lady Luck will defeat Murphy's current streak and things will change?

Tools, Machines, Computers, and Robots.

A trip inside the mind of another.

"A computer computes, it crunches numbers. At its heart is just puts ones and zeros together in a logical manner.

A tool and a machine are similar. Typically we use them both to describe an object that assists in solving a physical problem. For a tool it is an object with few moving parts, while a machine has many.

Robots are the hybrids of machines and computers, but why are they what they are? What makes a robot a robot and not just a machine?

I think I am starting to realize why.

It is tied up in what frightens humans so much about robots. They are capable of doing what we do.

Well, what do we do? We are problem solvers. If there is some physical task of any kind that needs doing, involves much dexterity and flexibility, simply train a man to do it. No new machine is needed that must be created to do the task.

Example: We don't need a machine that distributes road cones. A man in the back of a pickup truck can do that job, quickly and easily. But when the cones are all out and we need a man to run chalk lines for a cutting crew, we can grab that same man and assign him to a new task.

Men can be modeled as a machine that can address an infinite number of needs.

The problem with robots (and their stationary brethren--computers) that makes them such a threat to us is that increasingly each one becomes capable of more and more tasks.

At the moment, there are two robots available from iRobot corp for floor cleaning. The Roomba vacuums, while the brand new Scooba does hardwood floors.

But someday a robot will be created that has a set of attachments it can choose through itself, and can recharge alone, and it will clean the floors in your home without prompting or maintenance. At that time, any attempt on your part to improve the cleanliness of your floors will be futile.

That is where the threat to mankind lies in robotics. Not smart machines that are capable of expertly performing a single task, but in resourceful and creative machines that could be put to any use we ask of them.

Computers have made this move slowly and gracefully, and we've allowed them. We've allowed them to supplant the publisher and the copy editor, sometimes the artist and the musician lose work to them. But when they began the technology was so behind the potential that we didn't realize how flexible the machines would one day become, and as they assimilated each new trick into their repertoire we allowed them to have more and more control because they were so useful!

Thus robots are percieved as a threat to us because now we can imagine that we see what in the last fifty years computers have done without any physical movement: become more and more capable of more and more tasks in a single unit. As robots approach the state of being machines capable of performing an infinite number of tasks, we run the risk of becoming obsolete!"

Technology is not a threat. But perhaps, just maybe. . . if you let yourself get inside the mind of a Luddite for long enough. . . flexible and creative machines could be.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Come Near To Me

I just watched In America.

It is. . . many things.

If you have seen the movie, you understand how a word ("true") or even a string of nouns ("Encompassing. Enchanting. Amazing. Stunning. Painful.") cannot hope to convey the experience.

But I'm not here to write about the movie as a whole. I recommend you see it and there are plenty of things I could say about its superb acting, outstanding visuals, and thought-provoking script. . . but that's not my focus.

The main character, Johnny, is a young Irish actor trying to keep his sanity as he and his family adapt to life in Hell's Kitchen. He has an expression that he uses throughout the film, which struck me with it's simplicity: "Come here to me."

It's a funny phrase, but delivered with a convincing Irish brogue and a pleading lilte it conveys its own sense of urgency and integrity in a very striking manner. And it occured to me that as I heard him I could not make out if he were saying "come here to me" or "come near to me", and I began to marvel at the subtle difference.

If I were to adopt such a phrase and add it to my vocabulary as I have added other phrases ove the years, I would add "come near to me" because that is all I would have the bravery to ask. I may draw people close, but I will not bring them to where I am. Nor would I want them to come willingly to this place, to find me here. It would be humiliating for me, and I think both life-changing and ultimately destructive for them.

But if this curse I have drawn around me like a cloak against my fears is ever broken, and the mantel of solidarity rent in two by the love of one I cannot resist, ignore, or taunt into running from me. . .then that phrase becomes everything. Those four words would become, to me, a sort of surreal verbal lifeline. "Come here to me."

"Let me let you in." I would be admitting both defeat and rebirth, as a new being, no longer one of the untouchables.

Funny, isn't it? So often what we fear most is also what we long for most deeply.


When I was young, I expected that my friendships would continue in their steady pattern unabated.

Not, per se, that every friendship I had would hold throughout life, or even through the next phase of school, but I had faith that though friendships would come and go, kindness and honesty would remain a part of them all.

After all, that was how I thought.

I remember a once-dear friend of mine telling me of a proverb, which I more recently discovered is actually a snippet of writing from 19th century poet Dinah Craik.

When I was first given the quote, it was presented as a definition of friendship.

But in its original form, it is written thus:

"Oh, the comfort— the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person— having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away."

From A Life for a Life (1859).

Now, I am older, and I know more of my world than I did then.

I know, for example, that I am no longer familiar with that comfort described in the passage above.

There is one man with whom I grew up, and for as long as I have known him I have trusted him, but he is an odd sort. In the world but not of it, and his advice, always wise, is sparse and rightly so--for his wisdom shouldn't be wasted. I do not drag my stories to him because he doesn't express a desire to be entangled and I would not foist upon him what he would not willingly request. As such I admire him more than almost any man I have met. For the result is that while he remains outside the dirt and dust and dramatics of my social circle he maintains the ability to comment on it with integrity, grace, and truth.

All others, from the beginning of my life until the present, have failed to live up to that standard.

Most wish to offer advice. Some would act as a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on because their ear is empty and their shoulder needs weight upon it. They desire my attention and would be sympathetic so that they might come by it. Some begin genuinely wanting nothing more than to listen and be heard, but quickly flare up in anger when my words go against the grain of their opinions. Others start out by attempting to subject my will to their own.

Even the dear friend who first presented me the quote on kindness broke down last year, and finally expressed to me that he was uninterested in maintaining any communication with me because I do not accept his every piece of advice as the mandate of heaven. Amazement flooded me when I realized that for him, friendship was conditional, and the condition was that he be respected as the foremost authority on everything on which he decided he was an authority.

It became clear to me then that when we were young our friendship had remained untroubled because while young I thought him to be my better and he was informed far beyond the limited bounds of my experiences. As I grew and matured and learned, our spheres of knowledge began to differ (and mine to expand to new ground), and he began to make assertions in fields which my sphere of knowledge contained, and which I knew were incorrect. Yet each time I contradicted him wounded his pride and his ability to interact with me comfortably. And so our friendship fell apart slowly, like a ship shattering in deep space and tumbling apart. Each new difference of opinion a meteorite ripping through another structural support.

The first lady I ever loved, I once believed would be a comfort of the type described above, but I disappointed her many times over many years while we struggled in the dark places of young life, trying to discover who we would grow into. Eventually we fell out of contact and life is better this way. I have no concern daily for a hearth 150 miles from my own, and she has no love lost on a man incapable of being there for her in her times of need.

My second love was little more than an attempt at escape and rebellion against my cynicism. I had chosen a girl that I felt I could help, but I failed to help her and only succeeding in teaching myself a fundemental truth: you can't help people who don't want to change, even if they like to talk about changing.

The man I call my brother has his own problems and doesn't need my burdens cast upon his shoulders. He willingly takes on the burdens of too many others as it is. The woman I call my other sister is desperate to control each friendship and connection and possess it, and my spirit is both too free and too wild to be possessed by any of her ilk. My mentors and teachers have had their own worries and priorities, and besides they are behind me now, lost in the mist and shroud that graduation generates among those of us mature enough to leave the nest of school willingly. My colleagues and peers had their own concerns and rarely wanted more from me than that I followed the litany of my family.

These are (or were) a few of the men and women in my life who I would call my friends. I would make sacrifices for them without hope of reward. But I do not trust them. I will not pour out my words unguarded for them and establish a connection. All fail equally in providing for me the comfort I now realize I have been searching since the late 1990s.

And so I find myself wondering: now that I maintain my cynicism, am I beyond the bounds of that comfort forever? Now that my motto is "I entertain the hope that people can change, and maintain the belief that they won't" and my theme song is Rufus Wainright's One Man Guy, I am starting to fall into a place where I will gather friendships, but never experience intimacy.

And I guess I'm ok with that, because really, what other choice do I have?

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Swimming in Blue Jeans.

Last night.

Long day.

Caps thrown. Banners flown.

Diploma on the kitchen table with a sign book next to it. Paper cups now half empty. Dusk has come and gone, as have the 'just dropped by' guests.

Meet her instructor. Meet her dad.

Shake hands. Firm grip, guarded smile.

She's left the cap and gown for a swimsuit. Soaked me with water. One last prank? What to do?

Same as always, sit still. Came prepared, change of clothes in my bag. Along with the letter telling her to have a good life.

My internal monologue doesn't need a sensor. "Fuck it" Boots off. Wallet. Watch. Keys. Tighten the belt.

Into the pool.

Head first.

Roll over, underwater, feel like a seal.


Swimming in Blue Jeans.

Pivot, feel the grip of denim against skin. Say hello. Make a few jokes.

Get in a few imaginary fights. Dunk a few people under.

The normal games. Get tag-teamed by the girls. Grin and bear it, bite my tongue and don't make any sarcastic comments.

Play nice.

Pivot. Lap. Kick off the far wall and let myself be consumed by the tiny pool. As if I were just another droplet in the ocean. Drifting, sinking, rising. Never sitting still.

But all things must end, even swimming in Blue Jeans.

Climb out, dry off. Change, awkwardly.

Play a few games. Teach them a new one--Taxi!

Quick goodbyes. Others leaving too. Easy drop. Step out into the hall. Lean into her room. Drop the letter on her dresser.

Hug goodbye. Forget to tell her Dad that he should be proud.

Remember as you start up the cycle. Ohwell.

Helmet on. Long drive home, and the temperature dropping.

Let the chill permeate me as I permeated the pool.


Night air clings to my skin. Whistles past my helmet. After midnight, mist springs up, kisses me and slides away.

Swimming in Blue Jeans.

Darth Vader's Blog.

I found Darth Vader's Blog today.

Brilliant. Before I found it, I would have declared it impossible to blend honesty, wit, kindness and humour into a blog written by the Dark Lord of the Sith, but it has been done.

Impressive. Most impressive.

Friday, May 20, 2005

A Few Good Books.

This is a sort of rewrite of a post I think I put up far earlier. But here it is again, in any case. If I were to start a weekly get-together based around modern science fiction and fantasy, these books would be on the required reading list.

Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card
Snowcrash - Neal Stephenson
Watership Down - Richard Adams
I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun, and Robots of Dawn - Isaac Asimov
Heiland by Franlin Sanders
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
Animal Farm or 1984 by George Orwell
Microserfs by Douglas Copeland

There are more, but this is the first handful that automatically comes to mind.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Branch.

There was a windstorm here a few months ago. I went out into the yard while I was home and began helping my father move limbs away from our large, ancient cedar.

Cedars are great trees, as long as they stay outside, where the colonies of ants that seem to live for no other purpose than to travel up and down the trunks, and the faint smell of unwashed cat that never quite leaves the bark are unnoticeable and only the majesty and grandeur of the tree are impressed upon your vision from a distance.

He cut away with the chainsaw, pulling out damaged and dead lower limbs, and I put my packmule mentality to work, and began silently hauling branches to the road. We worked without complaint or commentary for maybe 45 minutes. Doing and being and not minding much that our muscles had begun to warm up, and the sun was beginning to remind us that winter was coming to a close soon.

Our dog hovered about. Wanting the attention but respecting the work. Slowly the lower branches cleared, and Dad got out a ladder and propped it against the trunk to reach a few feet higher. Soon these too were cleared until just one branch remained.

One large old limb, once proud, now broken off 18 or 20 feet up, maybe 4 feet from the trunk. Its tip now extended to the lowest level of limbs and so we grabbed hold and tried to pull it free, but it was still firmly attached, just cracked, at that break.

I frowned and suggested that I could climb the tree and knock the branch down from above. My father consented and I sent him to get a handsaw. I would need one hand to cling to the trunk, and would rather not try and weild a chainsaw one-handed even in perfect condition, at ground level.

He returned and handed the saw up to me, then I continued my climb. I was enjoying myself. Climbing is second nature to Alabama boys, and it had been too long since I'd worked my way up a tree like an explorer. It had been years since I had requested that the ancient limbs support me and let me use them to find a view far better than the one on the ground. Hooking a leg here, scrabbling for purchase against the soft, stringy bark there, I made my way up. Finally I wrapped my legs around available branches on the trunk, and sawed in my precarious position until I finally felt and heard and saw the snap and seperation and the branch slid away from the tree, and fell to earth.

I climbed down, dusted myself off, and we continued cutting until the branch was dissassembled, and the yard clear again.

Then, two weeks ago, I went with my father and we visited my grandfather in St. Louis. His 80th birthday was three months ago. He's still active, and he and my grandmother still tend to their small lot carefully. They have a beautiful yard, and it keeps them healthy.

Along their property runs a drain-field for the St. Louis water company, so no-one can build there, and between this field and their house is a small incline and a thin forest of trees. Tall oaks of maybe thirty to fifty feet. At the foot of these oaks is a dense, heavy thicket of honeysuckle bush and other wild shrubs that creates a rough 8 foot high hedge, maybe 12 or 15 feet thick. The wind had recently snapped a limb out of one of the oaks. 30 feet long, perhaps, and 25 feet up, it connects to the tree. It's resting now in the hedge. The diffusion of its weight allowing the hedge to crouch just a bit and support all its weight. It's a clean break at the top, but the tip is wedged between another limb and the trunk, keeping it from falling clear of the tree where we can get to it.

Between the three of us, we are going to try and pull out this limb safely, so it doesn't come loose some other time and damage the house or hurt one of them while they work in the yard.

I carefully remove my outer shirt and fold it before wading into the thicket in an Athletic T and jeans, worn combat boots leaving sharp shapes in the cool, moist loam. I pop up near the base of the tree, and dad tosses me the rope. We loop it around one of the larger Ys in the branch, and try to pull it down where we can get to it, but the hedge resists and the branche is still wedged tightly at the top. Our rope, worn from other endeavours decades earlier, snaps.

I head back into the hedge. I tell Dad and my Grandfather that I'm going to try to clear away some of the hedge, so that we can pull more easily, because the bushey end of the branch is trapped and suspended in the upper level of the hedge.

I climb up, resting my feet on fragile branches that would never support my weight if there weren't such a network of them, and work my way out across the hedge until I'm in among the bushey end of the branch. Until it looks like I'm inside it, like it's a hand reaching down over me, with the long branch serving as the arm.

I know what I'm about to do, but I can't explain it to my ancestors because they'd say I was crazy and it wasn't safe, so I simply start. I grab hold of the branch just beneath a Y for balance, and begin kicking the bush tops of the hedge out from under the edge of the branches with hard, sharp stomps of my boots. The hedge begins to give way, and I can feel the branch shifting around me. Trying to find spaces in the hedge that still support it's weight. I grip the branch tighter and begin to lift myself, adding my weight to the weight of the branch, and continuing the strike out at the bushes below me.

Finally there is the snap and the final shift, and I can feel that the hand in which I am clasped is driving down, towards the ground below me. The branch is free. In one smooth motion everything I know about sacrifice-falls comes into play. I'm letting my feet kick free, and up, in front of me. I've pivoted so my back is towards the ground and I'm gripping the branch, bringing it with me, welcoming it downwards to the soft earth. As I'm rushing towards the dirt, I'm dimly aware of the exclamations of my father and grandfather outside the hedge, but I know it doesn't matter. It'll all be fine and they'll think it was a lucky accident.

The roaring descent of the branch through the hedge is halted as it's weight settles into lower limbs, with it's upper portion now free of the trunk. I continue for a moment longer, to the floor of the thicket, resting there without a scratch on me.

I clamber from the wreckage of the thicket and smile. "Well. The branch is down."

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

I know, I know, I'm a bad person.

So I left off writing for a day. Shame on me. Yeah yeah yeah.

I was reading a few articles this morning on some conflict surrounding a few local high school graduations.

The articles can be found here, and here.

The first article is an intriguing look kindof double standards the dominant religious mindset of the south will sometimes project. The girl in question was pregnant and finished her last few months of course work at home due to safety concerns. No problem there. I can understand the school requesting her to stay home. Maybe they have lots of stairs and are terrified of a lawsuit if she fell. Who knows.

But denying her the right to walk at graduation? When her baby's daddy is publically being allowed to walk? That sends an absurdely negative statement about the student, and betrays something of the legalistic mentality of the school officials in charge.

The second article concerns a different issue. Punishment for a senior prank (which, when described, sounds pretty lame, and abhorrent) includes denying the Valedictorian the right to speak at her graduation.

Now, I don't blame them for making this decision. If they had made the decision up front, there would be no complaint from me. I think the school should have the right to put any punishment on these kids that they see fit. I thought the other punishments were quite appropriate and very intentional and wise on the part of the principle. It is the information below that concerns me.


Excerpt from the Montgomery Advertiser Article, reprinted without permission.

"I spoke to her (McLaurine) last week at the parents meeting and I specifically asked her that if Ashley were to be named valedictorian, if she would be allowed to give her speech as valedictorian," Joe Isaac [Father of the Valedictorian] said Tuesday. "She told me I had nothing to worry about. I don't know why she lied to me."

[. . .]

"They have gone too far with this," Joe Isaac said. "All of the parents were told that the punishment for these kids would end today (Tuesday) and that graduation would go on as planned. And then they go ahead and do this to my daughter. It's not fair."

[. . .] Mary Louise Briers, a school board member who represents District 4, said she thought the action taken was unfair.

"The consequences for the children ended today (Tuesday)," she said. "Why her (Ashley) punishment is being extended another day is grossly unfair. It was not part of the agreement signed by the parents and I don't think it's right. She has worked 12 long, hard years to get where she is and deserves to speak to her classmates."

This implies that in the initial agreement and declaration of punishments, no mention was made of this restriction being placed on Ashley, and that all indications were given that once the punishment was completed, graduation would go on undisturbed. To then turn around and go back on your word as an administrator and educator is poor form on the part of the principal, and I think that she would be wise to admit to her mistake and allow Ashley to go ahead and speak as planned.

If any of you out there reading are interested in the speech Ashley would have given, it can be found here. It's nothing special, but it's worth noting that the internet has made possible what her principal is too shortsighted to allow.

Drinking? Who, Me?

Surely not!

[sarcasm] Certainly in celebration of the end of my mother's school term and her birthday combined, we would not, as a family, have consumed enough alcohol to float a small armada of ships and currently be not only hysterically exhausted from our long last day, but also wired up from the joy of knowing that it's over, and laughing almost maniacally from all the funny things that happened today.

Quote of the evening: "Alright, it's set to a quarter past 'til."

Now that is funny.

G'night world. When I awake at 6:10 tomorrow to help prepare for the day, I'll probably be pissed at you. Shrug it off please, I'll be ok later.

Bleary Eyed Update and commentary

(6:50 AM)

Now here's an interesting little something. Other people get drunk, get hold of their cell phones, and call old girlfriends and profess their never-ending love for them, and explain how much they miss them by weeping into their voice mail.

Me? In a fit of stupid, last night I allowed myself near my e-mail account (what am I, retarded? I know better than that), and the message (which I just pulled up and read) was actually relatively normal. It was written to a friend reminding her of some past adventures now over and gone. Atraveling buddy, An ex-fling-flame, etc, and the worst line, just before my own name?

"Guess I miss you a little bit, [nickname]. Dream a dream for me.

- Patrick"

Amazing. I get blazed enough to think it's safe to write e-mail to a friend and flirt I knew back-in-the-day, and instead of some huge painful soul-bearing, I admit to just a tiny, nostalgic, twinge of feeling.


Guess I don't have to worry about slurred professions of undying affection left in some girl's Verizon voicemail box ever coming back to haunt me.

That's a relief.

Monday, May 16, 2005

My Outlook. . .

Posted by Hello

Late this afternoon, on a drive back towards my parents house, my mother told me how proud she was of me for getting to know girls so well as friends without getting into deep relationship quagmires.

She went on, praising the virtues of my habit of staying out of relationships, since it keeps me from getting 'sucked in' and becoming too involved in these relationships at such a young age.

Oh heaven's. . . if she had any idea. Thankfully, she doesn't, so she sees me as a responsible young man who keeps his distance because he's wise. Which is good, because it means there is a way to spin positively the ugly truth: that I'm a bitter, cynical bastard who got himself so twisted last time that he is no longer willing to attempt to function properly in a relationship, and as a result doesn't come near anything that implies any level of commitment or even caring.

The fact that I am incapable of trusting a woman enough to actually open up to one is a fact that has escaped her attention. I'm grateful. If she even got a hint of how much I've changed from what she once knew, I think she'd probably snap and begin shoving available "nice girls" under my nose in an attempt to get me to come back from the brink of what she considers madness.

If she heard word-one about the flings, experiments or seductions, she'd probably have a nervous breakdown, and as it is I'm positive she's going to feel betrayed when she starts to realize that I don't plan to ever settle down and start manufacturing her grandchildren.

At the very least, she'd have some choice words for me. As usual, with my mother as with others, I'm working against banked reputation. Like the friends I talked about here, she is so used to how I was that she's incapable of perceiving how I've become.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Graduation, Redux

I went to graduation yesterday.

Not mine, though many of the graduating class asked me if I was there for that reason, with a confused glance. When I was there last year it all seemed a little surreal. A little official. A little magical. Now it seems a little transparent. A little rigorous. A little tiny bit forced.

But it works, and it is a good system. The speaker this year was far better than the speaker for my class. The students beamed and nobody tripped. And my Dean even helped a guy in a wheelchair make the ramp, which was pretty awesome of him.

I got to see PFK, my 'brother', if ever I have one, recieve two awards and a diploma this year. An amazing guy treated to an almost ridiculous level of recognition by the ceremonies held. I'm glad I was there. He only flew back for all of this, so in three days he'll be back at Oxford. But the trip allowed him to see family, both real and (like me) imagined. So I hope it was good for him.

I'm going to be gone for over a year if I can help it. So I won't get to see graduation next year. Which is dissapointing. I won't get to see my roommates walk. QW and Blue will both cross the stage without my supervision, and I find myself almost sad about that. They're both my boys, and I'll miss seeing them walk.

I'm torn about the year following, and not sure if I'll try to return to Macon to watch. There are reasons. Kid. Zig. Mac. A few others. But what would be my reason? Why would I go. Not for them? Would it be for me? For something I claim to believe in? I can't really put my finger on it.

"You need who I used to be."

She curls up on the couch, while we talk. She doesn't play with her hair or act too nervous or excited or scared. At times, you can't even see the fatigue.

But her word choice is slow, and her vocabulary is limited. She isn't sleeping. Neither, I note as the clock ticks past 2:30, am I. But she hasn't been sleeping for days. She got some dramatic news, the kind of news that has a major impact on her life, a few days ago.

My modern self wants to toss out the usual string of platitudes that boil down to "please don't expect me to act like I care about this" and then leave it be. But we have a history, a long one. One that stretches back into the time when I was a boy with a heart and a purpose who thought he could help by listening and being kind.

And she needs that boy now. She wants aid. Shelter. Kindness. Things I no longer provide except by illusion and deceipt. If only she knew half the stories of my life, she'd recoil in either horror or fright. How could the person she once knew turn into the person I became?

Yet I joke about our history, and we tell stories about the people who were seniors when we were sophomores and freshman. Recalling legends and myths about the crew that we consider to be "old" Mercerians. And I point out that now that we are graduated, there are sophomores and juniors who will speak one day of us as "the old crew" and stories will be told of us as we tell them of others.

It's an odd moment, and it almost--almost!--gives me a twinge of regret, to think of the stories I left behind, good and bad, ensembles as a legend of a person no longer present, who can no longer influence the stories that others tell about me.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Neal? You're scaring us now.

First Halo Labs.

And now this.

Girls, you're already either grimacing or maybe grinning. Guys, if it doesn't make any sense to you. . . click the "English" link at the bottom of the page.

It's not packed with drugs yet. . .but the day will come.

[voice type="Sarcasm" Weight="Heavy"]Bow before Stephenson, the oracle of Mankind's dark future![/voice]

Friday, May 13, 2005

Dearest Pellicio

Three years ago, I traveled briefly to visit an old and revered Great-Uncle, who lived in Florida. He's the typical Yankee who moved south for his health, and lives like an expatriate in a foreign country.

During my visit we discussed family history, and Uncle Ted, who was always a bit of a geneologist, began to tell me all about our family tree on my mother's mother's side, full of welsh blood with (quite unbeknownst to me) some aristocratic English mixed in, including some of the explorers who traveled the far east more than a century ago.

Also to my surprise, Ted didn't just have modern, printed records, he had original manuscripts: Organized books of family history, flowering correspondences between lieutenants serving in India and their lovesick brides awaiting their word in Kent and Dover, and brisque telegrams announcing recent family additions.

At the end of the visit, he sent me packing with a box of older manuscripts, things that he had laughingly told me were of no use to him, because they were only ancillary documents he'd collected while searching out things about our family, and he couldn't override his historian's instinct to destroy them.

I was fascinated by them, despite no real training of depth in history, I leafed carefully through musty volumes of battle logs from world war I, news clippings from the gold rush, and other such treasures. While flipping idly through a rather dull treatise on the principles of modern man, a packet of letters slid from between two pages that appeared bound carefully along their edges with a dark brown seal, almost like glue or dried honey. Apparently the entire book had been used as a storage space, and these two sealed together pages merely as the way of holding the books real purpose.

I have typed up the first letter but am not quite sure what to make of it. Perhaps my readership has a better idea than I. In a neat, block print on the back of the envelope was written "NOVEMBER 1873".

Dearest Pellicio,           September 3rd, 1873,

I know you probably do not know me, yet I must presume that even now you are searching eagerly for some knowledge of me and the reasons for our encounter. I must admit with some chagrin that during my long journey to India I forgot entirely for more than a month that I had met you that night before my train departed for the coast. Thus I apologize that the letter that would have soothed your fears is so late in coming.

Still, the process is not yet fresh upon you (it takes more than a full revolution of the cycle of the moons for the blood to begin to turn with the venom of my--excuse me, our--kind) and so you have not yet begun to suffer any of the effects that later you will recognize merely as inconvenient modifications to your schedule and habits.

No doubt you have read this far with some confusion, because you are wondering about my choice of names for you. Of course, I know your real name to be Johnathan Tindale, and that your friends call you Tanner. Moreover I know that you are the son of a longshoreman from Dublin, and you moved to England to seek out a little a little adventure at a young age. Bravo for you!

Overmore I know of a single, fleeting encounter between you and a cloaked stranger that occurred on the docks in London more than a month and a half before this was penned. Do not fear that your dark secret shame has been discovered by a third party--I was the stranger. I realize that you have probably attempted to block the incident from your mind, having been raised in a good Catholic home. I assume you have heard rumours of evil and perverted men that engage in sexual acts with one another, "tainting the will of God" and other such religious nay-saying. Don't fret! What you experienced in the mouth of that alleyway was not a sexual encounter. It was the first step of what is called--in the ancient tongue that I will one day teach you--Ifké Giröshke. Loosely translated: "The Sacred Turning".

You were not assaulted, rather, you were 'kissed'. Not the Pax, the holy kiss of peace with which you are familiar, certainly, something different. But not a sexual kiss either. Rather think of it as the kiss one brother in a monastery might bestow upon a new acolyte, to welcome him into the fold.

I admit that I was somewhat forgetful that evening because circumstances (including my travel arrangements and the celebrations in which I had engaged previous to my departure) clouded my judgment and made me impulsive, and you did look so very young and energetic and promising. I knew you would make a fine addition to our order, which is why I was so hasty and inconsiderate as to begin the process without first even giving you my name.

Now, allow me to explain.

I am one of the order of Sangue Amantes. We are an ancient line stretching out of the early history of Portugal. We are a wandering, nomadic people, yet each of us has three gifts which are fuelled by our thirst. My encounter with you has presented you with that thirst: the appreciation for the smell and taste of human blood in very small quantities. Of all the various houses and races, Sangue Amantes has the least desire for blood, and rarely will you find yourself with an overwhelming need to drink the sweet elixir of your fellow man.

The first gift will begin to come upon you as your blood turns--sometime in the next 6 months, if my calculations are correct--and will give you an fresh outlook on life. Truly you are about to embark on a great and marvelous voyage. I'll explain in more detail about that gift in my next letter.

I know that you are still in shock at receiving this letter, and I do not expect for you to fully appreciate the opportunity that has been laid before you. Let me say this: If you have no interest in the three gifts, merely resist the new thirst within you for an additional half year, and you will find it that it lessens. After a few additional years, all will return to normal.

One word of warning: I recommend that you take up a position on a sailing ship or in a mine during those months. Any exposure to a young and vulnerable female of your own age would likely present too easy an opportunity for you.

Another letter will arrive within a month of this one, I hope, with further instructions. You are about to embark on a glorious new education.

Warmest regards and well wishes,
- Alexandre Viajante

Truer words. . .

"[She] needed to do more than just sparkle.

Sparkle works for teenagers falling in love. They flirt by charming themselves in each other's vicinity. Sadly, that's what most of the scenes between [Him] and [Her] are like: he falls in love with her, and so does she." - The Casting Broad

That's smart writing.

The author has hit on a lovely little point about teenagers and growing up.

Something that is important before I explore this idea further: I flirt.

I imagine very few of you who know me are surprised. I get it from my father, who is incorrigible. He can talk about anything, smile about everything, and make almost any woman laugh.

I wouldn't say I'm that good, but I have certainly proven to myself that I can catch the eye and attention of most women, and even coax a smile and a sparkle from many of them.

But how do I go about it? As TCB puts it above, the youthful and immature do it simply by engaging in a bit of narcissism and letting the magic of popularity do the work for them. As teenagers we are pack animals. If other people love someone, we must love them too. Whether they are the person that loves themselves is irrelevant, as long as they are charming and trustworthy enough, we'll buy it.

I swung into a tenuous (and in the end, very futile) relationship on these grounds, I think. She was a great girl, don't get me wrong, but she was charming and lovely with everyone, and guys were constantly falling for her. I, on the other hand, thought I had what it took to win most girls and set my sights on her--in hindsight--almost arbitrarily. We charmed ourselves in each other's vicinity.

Now, I think I am learning to move beyond that. In the wake of the tragic pitfalls and romantic pratfalls of the last three years of my life, I no longer want to "have what it takes" and don't advertise those facets. Instead, I attempt to put up a blind around them, sharpening my tongue and wit until many can only get so close to me before they resist coming any nearer for fear of getting hurt. I have created a porcupine's defense system, the warnings of pain are enough to keep most people out of reach--which is where I want them.

As I told a friend on the phone once "Few people willingly hug a cactus." But in making such a defense I am moving (albeit in a strange and probably artificial manner) out of the teenage methods of romance. I no longer am in love with my ability to woo, or my qualities that make me prince charming come to rescue the poor helpless lady that no-one loves. I have grown tired of those who love themselves and are looking for someone with whom they can entrust the rest of their lives, as if their lives were the most precious of treasures.

Instead, I seek for someone who seeks for me. Someone who looks into life as an adventure, and a relationship as a way of learning to love someone else, not of charming someone with how wonderful she could be. No more self-centric mentalities full of sad monologues about how wonderful everyone would think she was lovely if they would just get to know her, and how she doesn't want to be hurt anymore.

No! Stop moping about within the confines of your self-obsessed mindset! Rejoice in life! Cast off your mantle of doubt and selfish fear. Turn your mind's eye outwards. I am not here to make enemies, but friends! I have no need of those who feel their lives an endless drama of romance missed because people didn't understand poor little them. If you can't survive on your own, then I certainly don't want to lend you any of my life, for it will only make me that much weaker!

But, my instinctive and naturally flirtatious self attracts these sorts of women, still wrapped deeply in their childhood fantasies, like moths to a flame. It is only with my character's sharper points that I can hope to hold them at a constant distance, where they realize that they are not yet ready to challenge my defenses and slip within the boundaries of my carefully built illusion.

So I have created a wall of barbs. Sharp criticisms of those without patience. A distaste for children (except as appetizers. . . they make a lovely flambé). A disdain for romantic ideas about sunsets and gondolas. A harsh word for any who criticizes her own beauty or intelligence (if you are doing so to appear humble than it is likely a lie, if it is truth then there is no need, dear, to advertise the fact.)

In short, I have attempted to build a wall of the sort of things that drive away women who think they are looking for the perfect man. Rather I want a woman who looks and sees what is before her and chooses whether she can appreciate it for what it is, or must leave it be, in search of something better.

That, my friends, is the woman for whom I search.

If you see her, tell her that I'm lying about the children.

Really. I love children. That bit about appetizers was total rubbish. They're much better as a main course.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Stars and Scars.

I'm back.

I guess I should say "I'm home" but it doesn't really feel like home. It feels like "a house".

So I'm just back, instead.

I've been in it for two days now though, and that's good. The Road is basically completed, content wise, and it's just editing and moderate updates now.

I've got about 40,000 words of text to edit and one more update to make though.

And in this space? Expect to see some more fiction, more essays, and less about me. I'm tossing around the idea of really putting some effort into the writing angle, and I'm still very unsure. So this will probably become my playground for short stories and so on.

Some of it, I'll hope you enjoy. Some of it, I'll hope you don't. It should be an interesting couple months, anyway we look at it.

P.s. I know it is sad and sick and depressing, but to me this is just fucking hysterical.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Moving Fast.

I'm back again. Been back for about 18 hours now. Trying to sort some things out and prep for all the work I'll be doing this month. It'll be a busy one, that is for sure.

I'm going to Macon this weekend. People to see, faces to recall from the depths of memory. Only a handful though. Most of the Mercerians are already gone and the rest will follow soon, because their finals end tomorrow. I'm going for graduation. Should be interesting.

Then I've got to run down a highschooler and attempt to salve the wounds my mother inadvertently caused by quoting me at the wrong time. Shit.

It's a nice guy instinct that I suppose I could surpress. Let them think I don't like them. Let her think I despise her. What do I care? But I'm not quite that heartless yet I guess. Perhaps I need to go back to work on my heartlessness, and stamp out these last few kindhearted impulses.

It certainly would be less risky. . .

Monday, May 09, 2005


I snapped at my sister tonight.

No real reason for it. I was just out of sorts.

I guess I've been building it up because I've been keeping myself from snapping at my mother for a week now, and (Sis) was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

(sigh). It's not her fault, and I apologized, but I still feel like shit about it.

And I still refuse to take on my mother. It'll have to be done by text, later. After I've left. I can't play games on her turf, they make me ill.

And on a completely unrelated note, because I just followed a link I promised myself and others I wouldn't, I now want to shoot myself in the head and put the world out of its misery.

Sunday, May 08, 2005


My e-mail server is down.

It is a profound irony that this means more to me than a potential crash of CNN or the Wire services. More than the possible collapse of a stock market or the sudden rise of a new world leader. More than the new destination list for U2's next tour or the posters that are pimping the next Gene Wilder remake.

All this information is at my fingertips. All of it hesitates there, at the edge of my conciousness and interest and yet none of it concerns me.

None of it matters. I don't go to each of those places every 2 minutes and check to see if they are still online, or obsess about the details of which news articles are most important.

My e-mail matters, because it is entirely wrapped up around me. It is my connection to my friends, my family, and my world. When it simply isn't, I find myself adrift. Certainly there is a sea of information there that I could peruse, yet I do not because the only information that will truely impact me has traveled out of my reach.

I am beyond reach, and beyond reaching. It intrigues me that this has such an effect on my behaviour. Even though there is likely no important message contained by my inbox, and if the server were to spring to life I could probably check my mail and shut down the window in 30 seconds time with no change whatsoever, the potential for news from my little world is far more influential than the real news is likely to be.

Is this the irony of Schroedinger's cat? That his state matters so much more while the lid of the box is closed? To end the test will reveal at worst, one less cat in the world--and that would be a pity but not a profound impact on anyone. But the fact that he is neither alive of dead but rather suspended between realities, allows him to controls the minds and cares of every physicist who considers his case.

The potential for information has so much more power, sometimes, than the information itself ever could.

How we fret while we wait for news of a delivery 1000 miles away, or the latest score at a football game, or the latest stock market price change, though none will elicit any behaviourial change in our selves. We hover, suspended between our own realities, waiting for outcomes that, once received are relegated to little more than trivial nonsense.

If we could harness the power of potential information, it might resolve into something far more valuable than cold hard facts or money.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

It must have been great. . .

The three questions, and their respective answers:

"What was your favorite place?"

"I couldn't say. Each was wonderful for different reasons. Greece, Dublin, Spain and Venice were all new. Venice was the most magical. Dublin and Greece more welcoming. Spain soaked in sunshine. Each had its moments of loveliness."

"Did you have a plan?"

"Not really. 3 or 4 days in advance, sometimes. But reservations for only 4 nights out of the first 24."

"It must have been great, having someone to travel with without all that pressure, no need to worry about girlfriend/boyfriend status, that would have been so awkward."

"Yes, yes it was."