Thursday, January 31, 2008

Of Writing & Introspection

All writing is therapy.

And therapy, sometimes, is torture.

But I lift my pen with a sigh

And write, all the same.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

No Direction

I have been experimenting with direction lately.

Taking trips alone; and to nowhere.

Turning down unfamiliar streets, never entirely concerned with where they may lead.

Or, for that matter, wherever I may go.

It's quite a feeling, really: this placelessness.

This... realization

That I have never been so unafraid

To find myself lost.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

You Say Neurotic; I Say Good Hygiene

So I was giving away chocolate at my desk today when a co-worker dropped a couple pieces on the floor near my trash can and intimated he wanted to put them back in the bag.

"Oh, no," I said. "You keep those."

I was told I was "nuts" and was sent this video in response.

The Lord of the Rings: UNCUT (Movie Review)

Though I've watched the theatrical release of this trilogy multiple times, I'd never seen the "extended" version of any of the three installments. Not to mention, I'd never watched the entire series in the same month, much less within 24 hours.

Rest assured I can now scratch this life goal off of my Bucket List. In which case: here are a few passing thoughts.

  • Many points of confusion I previously had were cleared up, as scenes cut from the theatrical release did in many cases help to clarify subsequent scenes in the released version.
  • This newfound understanding comes at a cost, with each unedited movie running upwards of four hours.
  • Is it just me, or does Gandalf use surprisingly little magic for a fully-certified wizard?
  • Christian and historical allegory are both more obvious in the extended release.
  • Despite not generally enjoying SCI-FI/Fantasy, I'm remarkably in awe of Lord of the Rings and — as everyone here knows — Harry Potter (now, please, stop laughing).
  • This really is a great story (not to mention, beautifully shot), with a few weak points — some scenes and plots a bit overdone for the big screen as a means of securing a wider audience.
  • I wish people were more like hobbits... sans the hairy feet. Because let's face it: hobbits are cool and people suck, but feet don't need help being any more unattractive.
That is all.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Party & The Animal

Not that I'm much of a party animal — rather dislike loud crowds and packed rooms, actually — but I found this kid's attitude to be as amusing as it is alarming.

In other pop culture news, the world's hairiest man has broken up with his girlfriend of three years. Why do we know this? Because he recently published his profile on an online dating site, pictures and all.

When I first saw his photograph on the morning news, I thought about reposting it here. But then I went online searching for the picture (thanks, Google images!) and actually felt sorry for the guy once I read more about his story. I can't make fun of him, even if he does play along by purportedly listing "brushing my back hair" as one of his favorite hobbies.

That said, I have decided in a moment of absolute selflessness that I will not pursue this tantalizing beast, and will instead let my good friend, XOXO, have first dibs.

No need to thank me, XOXO.

No need to thank me.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

It's Not Delivery, It's Degrading

No longer afraid of people, Maude stood in front of the open doorway, staring up at the pizza delivery guy.

"Wow, that's a big cat," he said. "A really big cat."

"Yeah, she's big-boned," I explained.

"Oh, really?" he said, obviously not buying my lame excuse for Maude's recent obesity.

"OK," I admitted. "Maybe she's had a little too much pizza."

"You feed that cat pizza?" His face turned serious. Concerned, even.

"No," I said. "I was kidding. She's fat. She's on light food now -- promise."

I turned to Maude, sighing. She glared up at the pizza guy, her feelings obviously hurt by his disparaging remarks.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Shake the Ghost

As I pulled into the gym parking lot tonight — circling the rows for a spot, moving further and further from my destination — it occurred to me:

I am so very tired.

So I reclined my seat and sat there fighting for sleep, watching snowflakes fall against my windshield

Melting like memories.

I slept then, but only for a moment, soon forced out of my car (and into a fit of sweat) not only by a persistent fear of time

But also by a half-hearted effort

To shake off the ghost of you.

News Snooze

I realize Martin Luther King Jr. Day was Monday, but it's never too late to poke fun of our shining political stars and the manner in which they observed the occasion.

Take, for example, former President Clinton's (and possibly our future First Man) response to a related sermon (I'm including the link in case the embed video below doesn't work).

Or this little girl's reaction to a pep talk by our current fearless leader.

I feel the same way, kid. I really do.

And as if that weren't enough, Huck Norris has put out a hit on John McCain. And by that I mean, if John McCain dies of natural causes, we'll know that the "natural cause" is a Chuck-style judo chop.

And what, pray tell, do you think Obama was referring to in Monday night's debates when asked about Bill Clinton's status as our first black president (so-called by author Tony Morrison). Here's the exchange between Obama and Hillary, as quoted on Dallas News:

When asked whether Bill Clinton was the nation's first black president, as some African-Americans contend, Mr. Obama said he would have to study the evidence.

"I would have to, you know, investigate more of Bill's dancing abilities and some other stuff before I accurately judge whether he was in fact a brother," Mr. Obama said.

Mrs. Clinton added: "Well, I'm sure that can be arranged."

"Other stuff," Barack? Methinks a "wink, wink, nudge, nudge" was in order.

And lastly, for those of you still searching for the one, true religion, your prayers have been answered.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Superbad (Movie Review)

Why on earth does everyone think it's so funny to objectify women, talking about them and treating them as though they serve one purpose, and one purpose only?

Seriously. I'm asking you a question.

Because once again Judd Apatow has produced (but not directed) another film that does just that, with a tacked on (and so somewhat tacky) "coming of age" denouement in which the 18-year-old boys realize girls aren't just physical conquests.

But as with Knocked Up, the thing I most hate about Superbad (2007) isn't so much what it says about about women (particularly in the first 45 minutes, when the lines are most offensive), but the fact that in many instances I found it to be funny.

That is to say, I enjoyed the film — once again as disgusted with myself as I was with Apatow. Think my primary fear is that when humans of the male persuasion watch this film, the younger ones will be especially likely to pick up the exaggerated humor and perpetuate it as fact. Because even though there's a valuable moral to many of your stories — including this one — I'm worried that for many viewers it gets lost in the immature behavior that precedes it.

Forget the ending where this poor behavior is explained (and so discredited) — it's not until the last 10 minutes that women get even a modicum of respect. And let's not forget the good guy in this film (the ever-charming Michael Cera, also of Juno) clearly respects women, but his one run-in with the girl of his dreams reveals her to be more than a little "willing," shall we say.

So what's the lesson? The one good guy who respects women and tries to keep his offensive friend in check actually turns out to be wrong about the girl he likes. That is to say: though she has her good points, she's willing to submit herself to degrading behavior whilst imbibing.

I'm not giving away any points about the movie here, so never fear. I'm just disappointed to see another otherwise good film with all the right elements rely almost entirely on humor that relegates women to such an unfortunate status.

Darn it, Judd. You're good at making movies, and great at making me hate myself for enjoying your movies. But how about if next time you produce something just as funny without teaching adolescent boys new euphemisms for the female anatomy?


It's Madness, I Tell You

Normally hooligans just change the "FREE // Red Eye" lettering to simply say "PEE."

This one required a little more effort.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Best Boy (Movie Review)

He'd been in the hospital for days, recovering from surgery.

When he returned home to his wife of 60 years and his adult (but mentally challenged) son, he hunched over in his favorite chair, his light scowl -- a nearly constant feature -- fading in an instant.

"I missed you," he said to his wife with unmistakable surprise.

"Well, I'm glad you missed me," she said, mixing her tears with a smile. "I missed you too."

She leaned over and kissed his wrinkled cheek, moving up to the bald spot of his head, kissing him again.

But you don't understand, his eyes seemed to say.

"I dreamed about you every night," he said. "I dreamed I was home with you."

Best Boy (1979) may be presented as a documentary about a mentally challenged man learning to become more self-sufficient, but in actuality it's a lot more than that.

It's about a family: the mother, the father, the sister and the brother who passed away long before the director (Ira Wohl, also the man's cousin) let his cameras start to roll. It's about how time has impacted all of the above, the sacrifices the parents made to keep their son at home in an era when most mentally challenged children were shoved into asylums, never to be seen or heard from again.

It's about how the parents who are ashamed to admit mild resentment for all the time they lost by caring for their son, are conversely so enamored with their sweet-but-slow "best boy" that they struggle to ever spend time away from him. And yet: they care about him enough that they try to let him go all the same.

This film could've exploited Philly, and people like him. It could've focused only on him, the camera never lingering on his mother's gray hair, or her stiff walk down the stairs. Or his father's eyes turning down when Philly belts out "As Time Goes By."

But Wohl seems to have appreciated these moments in a way that so many others might've over looked (or dwelled upon — ultimately just as harmful as the reverse). The end result is a beautiful, touching documentary whose biggest shortcoming is the director's own attire (traditional swinger 70s garb, and the mustache to go with it).

It was also a bit too long, but I'm pretty forgiving when the material is compelling.


Those Who Think It's an Honor Just to be Nominated Clearly Don't Know How Good It Feels to Win

After years of scribbling into notebooks and sacrificing nights out with friends in order to stay home and write, my hard work, hermit-like behavior and penchant for idiosyncratic photography has finally paid off.

That is to say: I have received the prestigious and much-coveted Blog of Steel Award.

Thank you to M@ for the nomination (which he admits came mostly out of pity) and to the friends and family who stood by me all these years.

I would like to pass this honor along to =) whose humor — though fairly new to blogger — is worthy of an increased readership.

The Only Thing More Difficult than Being a Genius is Trying to Reason with One

I used to know a guy who received an all-expenses paid pass into a Ivy League graduate program when he was only 20.

He had previously earned a perfect score on his SATs, as well as perfect marks on his GREs.

He seldom left his apartment, never listened to music, and had a difficult time relating to people and animals.


Bobby Fischer was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1943, the son of a Jewish immigrant. He taught himself to play chess when he was 6 years-old, was a chess champion by the age of 13, and in 1972 he became the first American to win the world championship in over a century.

He died yesterday in Iceland, where he lived in a sort of self-imposed exile: emerging only to occasionally offer anti-American and anti-semitic remarks, even responding to the September 11 attacks in New York City by terming the event "wonderful news."

His IQ was purported to be upwards of 180. That is to say: off the charts.

My five-year-old nephew enjoys reading, writing stories, playing cowboys and Indians, and watching Sponge Bob.

He's a well-rounded little boy with an active imagination: acting out stories he makes up as he goes along, and insisting that he be referred to only by that day's alter ego (Lone Ranger, Flash, Mr. Incredible, Deerslayer, etc.) whenever it's play time.

He cracks jokes with his grandparents, leans down to button up his little step sister's winter coat, and kisses his baby cousin on the head, asking to hold him.

Necessity all but forced him to learn to pronounce "Afghanistan" when he was two-years-old, and by the age of four he was taking on his Papaw in Bobby Fischer's sport.

And my nephew always won: but then again, he was playing by his rules, moving every piece in whichever direction — and for however many spaces he saw fit.

"Hey, T, do you want to play chest?" he asks me just about every time I visit home.

[He thinks "chess" is actually called "chest."]

"Sure," I say. "But how 'bout if this time you let me win?"

He laughs, running towards the hand-carved board my parents keep near the bay window of their small, Midwestern home.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Ellie Mossy Nary

el·ee·mo·sy·nary, adj.
(e-li-ˈmä-sə-ˌner-ē, -ˈmō-; -ˈmä-zə-)
of, relating to, or supported by charity

For the past few years, most of my charitable donations have been directly to people: whether friends or co-workers raising money for a cause, or firemen and Misericordia volunteers at busy intersections.

But a couple months ago another charity — which addresses an illness that most commonly afflicts children, but is also increasingly common in adults — sent me some lovely address labels. I couldn't use them and not pay for them; couple this with the fact that I had long wanted to do something for this particular non-profit, and I decided to go ahead and cut them a check.

It wasn't a huge amount by any means: more than enough to cover the costs of the labels and kick a little fundage into their research.

I wish I could say my story ends there but, alas, this is just the beginning.

Now before I proceed, allow me to say that I understand non-profits send out "gifts" like that precisely because it guilts people into a donation, thereby increasing the likelihood of a response.

But I had no idea what was in store for me.

In the past 12 weeks, I have received at least one new set of address labels every week. And though I would like to report that each set comes from a different charity, in fact the vast majority (though not all) of them have been sent by the original charity to which I donated. In which case, I'm pretty sure they've essentially spent all of the money I sent to them by sending me more labels — and thus more pleas for donations.

I'm terribly conflicted about this, as I do feel an inclination to donate again. And again. And I feel like I can't use the labels in good conscience unless I pay for them. But if they keep sending to me, and I keep paying...

Here's the thing: I don't need this many labels. Heck, I bought a whole bunch when I moved last spring, and I've not even used half of that lot. And now I have hundreds more! Some Halloween themed, general fall themed, winter themed, Christmas themed (three sets from three different charities), underwater themed, rose themed and now — spring themed!

So here's my question: when is enough enough? Do I buy into their gimmick by donating every time they send me something I didn't ask for? Or do I put away my checkbook now, refusing to support a charity — no matter how good its cause or its intentions — that clearly wastes a great deal of money?

Bear in mind, I'm not a wealthy person. And I do volunteer my time, so I "give" to charities in other ways.

But on this issue, I'm torn. Feel like a jerk if I don't donate each time. And a sucker if I do.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Zen and the Art of Butt Dialing

Who dialed You was me indeed
And me Wireless with one flaw
Tho' Yuppies, blue in tooth and claw
With chagrin, phoned despite no need. ~Alfred Lord Tennyson***

A few months ago I went to call (who I thought was) the last person in my call history, which I can quickly do from my mobile phone by simply hitting "send."

But the name that popped up wasn't someone I had ever called before. In fact, it was the friend of a friend who called me once when he was in town visiting — several weeks prior to this — trying to talk me into hanging out with them. I stored his number just in case I needed to call him later that evening.

I didn't.

So imagine my surprise when I see his name there and — thinking I'll need to call my friend to make sure everything was all right (my immediate response was that something was wrong, as the call had come through around 7 a.m. that morning) — I press further into the matter only to realize I had called him.

For four minutes.

It's called "butt dialing" — and it's an epidemic that's infecting gym bags, book bags and tight pockets nationwide.


But it's rare I accidentally call someone I seldom and/or have never called. Generally, my blasted Blue Tooth headset — squeezed tightly into the corners of my shoulder bag — will automatically turn on if pressed. And then automatically dial the last person in my call history with one additional short press of the button.

This, I am sorry to say, happens far more often than I care to admit. In fact, I'd estimate I "butt dial" at least once every couple of weeks, thanks in part to the fact that there's no convenient way to store these tiny headsets (how about a compact case, for crying out loud!), and in part to the fact that Motorola decided it was wise to activate these beasts by simply exerting a modest amount of pressure (I'd prefer a small switch, though I realize those could break off).

Now, I don't mean to blame technology for my own shortcomings. It's true I can turn off the Blue Tooth feature on my phone, but that means if I want to use my Blue Tooth headset (which I only use when I need to make a call while driving, or when multi-tasking from home), it takes four more steps to fire it up each time I want to call someone — which pretty much defeats the purpose of hands-free dialing.

So, anyway, I've long had a reputation among friends and family for not revealing too much by way of my personal life, or for participating in community gossip.

I decided fairly early in life that I should carry on private conversations as though they were being overheard. In other words: be wary of saying anything that could hurt someone's feelings (even if they're nowhere to be seen) or leaking any details about my life that I wouldn't openly share with Mom and Dad.

And as I sat at the Swedish restaurant Saturday morning and got out my phone to set the ringtone to silent — and realized I was unwittingly "involved" in a five minute conversation with someone's answering machine —

I decided that — now more than ever — it's best to be careful what you say (or do) aloud.

***Just kidding. That's me revisiting the original Tennyson. In 2008.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Like That. Like That.

You can't touch this

Can't touch this

Break it down!



***A special thank you to M.C. Hammer for grooves that defy space and time, local businesses with their wacky signs, and a random hooligan for the unifying theme.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Haiku/Gesundheit (Volume XLXIII)

so this is what it's like to be amish

no kitchen outlets
means no cooking or coffee
more cereal please

thoughts concerning bathroom etiquette

why do you people
keep peeing on the toilet
there are seat covers

if i were goldilocks i wouldn't have this problem

it's thirty outside
but ninety where i'm sitting
this can't be healthy

i believe this is what they play at gitmo bay

chuck mangione
is killing me so slowly
let's speed it up please

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Seven Reviews for Seven Movies

So I'm way behind in movie reviews. So far behind, in fact, that there's no hope of catching up if I don't summarize my opinions of each in one paragraph or less.

And now, without further ado, in order of preference...

No Country for Old Men (2007)
As a fan of Coen Brothers films, I'm well-accustomed to their dark sense of humor. Even still, I couldn't for the life of me imagine what they'd do with the very serious, very dramatic book by Cormac McCarthy. And while there is a (very subdued) sense of humor to this film, it's delivered in traditional Coen Brothers style without sacrificing the nature of the book. The end result: a decent storyline with a little too much gore and some inconsistencies that didn't quite add up... and yet, it's an altogether compelling film that captures the goings-on of the creepiest villain since Hannibal Lectar. FINAL GRADE: A-

Juno (2007)
This movie is funny and touching — even if the lead character's precocious demeanor isn't entirely believable. Ellen Page stars as Juno MacGuff, a two-smart-by-half high school junior impregnated by her best friend — a boy who's smitten with her, even if she refuses to acknowledge the same. Unable to follow through with an abortion, Juno scours the classifieds for couples looking to adopt. An altogether lovely story that'll make you laugh — and think twice about love, family and relationships. Think of it as this year's Little Miss Sunshine... with a soundtrack you'll want to download the moment you get home. FINAL GRADE: A-

Kite Runner (2007)
I saw this one by chance when my preferred film (The Savages) was sold out. What a pleasant surprise — light-hearted in some scenes and all-out traumatizing in others, this film chronicles the life of a Afghani boy whose father brought him to America after the Soviet invasion. Said boy grows up to become a writer still grappling with his past — a battle that culminates in a return to his home-country just weeks before September 11. FINAL GRADE: A-

I Am Legend (2007)
I enjoyed about the first 2/3 of this movie. It was, up until a point, well-written and fairly compelling. But then the storyline completely falls apart in an attempt to tack a "happy" ending onto an unhappy film about humans infected with a rabies-like virus that virtually kills and/or infects everyone on the planet. Deus ex machina is put to despicable use here, and I walked away thinking a decent film had been ruined by its final 25 minutes. However you look at it, though, Will Smith's performance is pretty dern impressive. FINAL GRADE: C+

Strings (2004)
This is a fairly serious war-time drama wherein the people are entirely played by puppets, in which case I had a difficult taking it seriously because — I'm sorry to say — comedic scenes from Team America (a far more sarcastic/humorous "puppet" movie from the creators of South Park) kept popping into my head. Still, the film itself was interesting and rife with metaphor — though sometimes a bit overdone. FINAL GRADE: C+

This Film is Not Yet Rated (2006)
Critics loved this documentary. I didn't. I mean, director Kirby Dick makes a compelling point insofar as the MPAA — which decides which films get which ratings — is clearly unjustly influenced by big name production companies. But beyond that, he didn't really make me care about the issue at hand. FINAL GRADE: C-

Hairspray (2007)
I seldom fall asleep while watching movies, but I certainly did in this one. To be fair, I've never been fond of musicals, but with all the hoopla surrounding this one, I'd hoped it be an exception. It wasn't. FINAL GRADE: D

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Big in Japan

I'm world famous.

OK, so maybe not world famous. But at least pretty highly-respected in this city.

Or, I mean, I soon will be.

I take that back. Most people in this city won't even know that the photos they see up in a popular establishment were taken by yours truly.

And, yeah, maybe I don't get any credit for them. Or even any additional pay.

But at least *I* know they're my photographs.

And somehow, in someway, that's actually enough.

But here's the sad part: they're going up in one location first, and then a few others city-wide over the next few months. I was all "excited" about this debut — even planned on showing up and taking pictures of my pictures (yeah, I'm that lame) — and then I found out the address of the first location.

"You kidding me?" I said. "I wouldn't feel safe in an armored vehicle on that street corner."

I then made a very inappropriate comment about maybe doing a "drive by" (but not that kind), and actually felt kind of ashamed of myself.

But, hey, I'm famous! We famous people get away with all sorts of things. Just ask Michael Richards.

Oh, wait...

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Seven Wonders of Me

So I was tagged by Beth, the game being to list seven things y'all don't already know about me. While some of you may, in fact, know one or two of these things (that means you, XOXO), most of these will be new to the majority.

  1. My first celebrity crush as a kid was Erik Estrada (of CHiPS fame). My second was Hulk Hogan.
  2. I've seen every episode of Full House. Twice.
  3. I was gifted Highlights and Ranger Rick subscriptions when I was 7. I enjoyed both immensely, but by the age of 10, I requested to instead have a subscription to Time.
  4. I created, organized and orchestrated martial art lessons during recess back in my elementary school days. Sometimes more than half of the playground would join me in what I called "Ancient Retarded Karate" (or "ARK" for short).
  5. I can balance coins on my elbow and then catch them mid-air.
  6. With the proper brand of chewing gum, I can blow a bubble within a bubble within a bubble.
  7. Y'all know how much I hate driving in the city, and all the rudeness that entails. But here's a driving pet peeve that knows no boundaries: smokers who throw their cigarettes out of the window. If ever I feel a genuine sense of road rage, it's then.


OK, so thanks to everyone for your comments and e-mails expressing concern that perhaps I've taken this "Cat Lady" thing a bit too far.

In which case I feel compelled to tell you that I was (mostly) just playing around. I mean, sure, many of those bullets applied to me. And, yeah, maybe I need to get out a little more. But, c'mon, if there's one coping mechanism I've learned from life, it's that it's best to make fun of yourself before someone else does.

Even if you have to exaggerate and self-deprecate a little.

Speaking of hyperbole and self-defecation: the 2008 primaries are in full swing, and if you haven't been paying attention you're, like, the only one.

Here's a nifty little tool that helps you figure out at-a-glance which candidate's beliefs are most aligned with your own. Consider it the Cliffs Notes version of doing your political homework. Oh, and if that doesn't work for you... click on this cheat-sheet:

It's a little outdated — some of those candidates have long since dropped out — but you get the idea.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

You Know You're (Going to Become)
a Crazy Cat Lady If...

  1. Whenever co-workers tell stories about their children, you interrupt with a comparable anecdote regarding your cat.
  2. Whenever someone says you "live alone," you get offended and promptly remind them of your kitties/kiddies.
  3. You have pictures of your cat(s) up at work and/or in your wallet.
  4. You think it's terrible that your health insurance doesn't include "cat coverage."
  5. You tried (this Saturday) to put a harness/leash on your cat so you could take her for a walk.
  6. Whenever life hands you lemons, you go to the shelter and get another cat to boost your spirits.
  7. You're terrified that when you die, no one will discover your body until after your cats have picked your skeleton clean.
  8. You're willing to stay in the same awful apartment for decades out of fear that a "move" would be too traumatizing for your cat(s).
  9. Seeing your cat(s) is the one and only thing you look forward to in your day.
  10. You spend your Fridays by putting your cat(s) in unusual headgear.

  11. You're a bit of a cat whisperer in that you're certain you can tell what your cat is "saying" to you based on the sound and duration of her meows.
  12. Your eyes well with tears of happiness when you think about something cute your cat(s) did — like, say, waiting for you at the front door when you come home.
  13. You don't mind so much when the cat(s) jump on the kitchen counter.
  14. Finding cat hair in your food no longer grosses you out.
  15. When people say your cat is "fat" you hastily jump to her defense, claiming she is just "big boned."
  16. You speak to your cat(s) using "baby talk."
  17. You send out a "family newsletter" at Christmas time, bringing people up to speed on your cat's health (not to mention, her various hijinks).
  18. You avoid dating because you don't want your cat(s) to become confused by men coming into (and then leaving) their lives.
  19. You list "playing laser tag with my cat(s)" among your hobbies.
  20. You celebrate your cat's birthday.
  21. With a party.
  22. There's cake.
This list is a work in progress. Feel free to add your own in the comments section, and/or shoot me an e-mail.

In Case You Missed It

Or as I'm calling the combined team, "Huck Norris."

Anyway. If Huckabee wins, you know he's going to appoint Chuck to secretary of something. My guess is Secretary of Defense (which he'll promptly rename, "Secretary of Whoop A$$").

Somewhere in a cave in Pakistan, bin Laden is afraid.

You should be, Osama.

You should be.

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Naming of Things

For the past few years, I've cycled through countless snails in my little two-gallon aquarium.

While I have no reason to believe I'm doing anything wrong in procuring the longevity of these creatures, I'm always a wee bit disheartened when I realize another critter has met its demise while in my care.

But this hasn't prevented me from continuing to rely on the golden apple snail as a companion for my fancy tail goldfish, Jude.

Suffice it to say I grew tired of coming up with new names for my snails (they didn't come to me regardless of what I called them), so I always referred to them simply as Bartleby (because snails prefer to not do much) and Billybudd (because I imagine that — much like their form of locomotion — they'd stutter if they could talk).

That is to say, every time I acquired two new snails, they acquired those two old names.

But my aquarium has been snail-less the past few weeks, an isolation I remedied last night by adding two new, smaller species to the mix.

Driving home and considering what to name them, I decided it was time for a change of tune, if you will.

I'm calling the bigger one Eleanor. The smaller one: Prudence.

Saturday, January 05, 2008


Friday, January 04, 2008

Never by Zero

Some days the worst part of living is the hope that comes with knowing precisely where you want to go —

or better yet, finding yourself with the means to get there.

And then doing nothing.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Thought of War

And then, suddenly, the news becomes your obsession.

The roadside bombs, the body counts — these things cease to be passing blurbs (background noise to a busy day). Rather, they become the silhouette of a man who — often, when a boy — took his little sister out at midnight in search of night crawlers (bait for the next day's fishing trip).

Of the man who — once, when in high school — took a screaming, crying mouse (caught in a glue trap) out behind the house and told his parents (despite being a hunter) to never use those again.

[And then tried to comfort his sisters by claiming he was able to set the struggling creature free.]

Of a soldier who — often, when in Afghanistan — grew bored with base life and volunteered his time at a village hospital (himself trained in emergency medical care).

Of a father who — with one five-year-old son and one step-daughter — will be oceans away when his twins (four months in the making) are born.

"I wish I wasn't doing convoy security," he says. "I don't want to get blown up."

Everyone gets quiet. You chuckle to break the silence.

"Yeah, um," you begin. "Try to not do that."

And you know it's unlikely. You know that most of the men and women who serve in Iraq come home safe.

But then again: you also know that many of them don't. But you try to not think about that, telling him goodbye.

Instead, you take that eerie, macabre fear — the understanding that when you send a man away to war, your goodbye could very well be your last — and shove it to the back of your head.

"So, listen, I'll see you later," you say.

"Yeah," he says.

"See you later."

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Poor photography is an underappreciated art.

That is to say: sometimes I wonder if we're not so obsessed with freezing a moment in time that we forget -- or perhaps try our hardest to deny -- that the world doesn't wait for us or our tripods.

Rather, it just... goes.

Snowflakes hitting your lens and melting like rain drops.

People walking steps ahead of themselves, making time -- that old spectre -- visible in a way that even the finest watch struggles to articulate.

And tree limbs forced out of focus (and so brought into focus) by a photographer's impatient hands.

But, listen, there's more to every story. Look closer: there's a person here, walking away. Do you see them?

And, here, there's a phone line lost among tree limbs.

There's so much of this world that goes undiscovered, I fear, and if there's one thing I'm searching for, it's the company of people -- of someone -- who sees me point my camera at this scene:

And has no need to ask why.

Auld Lang Syne