Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sharp Shot, Slim Story - Today

In which a picture says considerably more than than a few hundred words.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Diamonds: Why Must You Ruin My Sundays?! - Today

So I am watching football, which is how I like to spend my Sundays. Everyone jokes about the Viagra ads, but they are negligible blips on the media landscape, vaporous. The mind goes naturally elsewhere. The diamond ads, on the other hand, with their insistence on narrative? Sicklysweet retrograde narratives of slicklysweet men and ickilysweet, diamond-needy women: Scarring! And the flopsweat efforts to create new "occasions" for diamonds? Well, I consider these a full-on challenge to check out the latest on the evil, evil world of diamond mining. Wish I could link to the latest from Zales, but this will do just fine.

Oh, and check back soon for news on my Forever Gimp line of camp-created commitment bracelets.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

This is How to Dance - Today

Also how to get a tan, shoot a video, and wear clothes. You can learn everything from Acid House Kings.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"In Which He Punched a Latin Teacher" - Today

Now, this is a life: read about it here.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Robert - Unsent Letter - December 1983

Dear JP,

I am in the mood to type to you, but the typewriter, like the yellow VW bug, is broken this Christmas. The dishwasher door must be left open so that the pipes do not freeze. The puppy must be locked in the kitchen at night so that she will not chew things; this measure has been only partially successful. The puppy's casualties this Christmas include a calculator, a scarlet-and-glitter Christmas-tree bird, the corner of the kitchen hutch, and one of my new shoes -- slightly injured.

"Slightly injured" is the phrase used on the radio here to describe the condition of Gene and Tim Kelly after the fire that destroyed many cherished mementos of a long and laudible and legendary show business career, and made Gene cry... As neighbors like Carl Reiner (and possibly you?) rushed to the scene to help/console/talk shop. Celebrity tragedies, minor and major, like celebrity weddings and celebrity funerals, are not immune to media name-dropping.

I have spent the past week in Akron recovering from a cold, Christmas shopping, trying to quit smoking, recording in painstaking detail every tremor in my little mind, and considering every possible variation on the theme of What Robert Will Do the Rest of the Vacation. I have, in short, been thinking too much and doing precious little.

Now I sit on the dining rooom floor near the heating vent, by the Christmas tree, and this is where things stand:

I am disheartened by my efforts to quit smoking; I feel weak.

I have determined that home is NOT the place to rest and relax and become strong again -- Florida is.

I would like to go to Florida with Eric, but I doubt that my father will pay to send me. My father is not among the ranks of those who believe in Florida vacations or the need for the sun's replenishing warmth or the value of a nice tan in January.

I might go to New York, but New York is cold like Akron, and involves anxiety and too much planning. If I do go to New York, however, I will get to spend time with Alice and also my mother and her boyfriend, who have invited us to spend New Year's Eve "loft-hopping" with them -- pleasant prospects both.

I may just return to Washington, because while Washington is also cold, it demands little effort and allows me a lot of money to spend. I can work a little and buy a bureau and learn my lines. "Queen Eleanor -- Your Grace." The play seems silly to me now, as does school.

I need Florida and I need more vacation time and I need a second window blind, and a calendar for 1984 and a new pair of tennis shoes and many other things. I make lists.

Here is a list of things I no longer need because I received them for Christmas:

1. A watch
2. A bathrobe
3. A sweater
4. A portable bookshelf
5. Gloves
6. A work of art
7. Socks
8. The 1983-1984 edition of Fiction Writer's Market
9. Two records
10. A white turtleneck
11. Money from my grandfather

To tell the truth, I know that need and rest and strength are all states of mind, and that Christmas vacations are no more capable of supplying them than any other arbitrary block of time. I just want everything restored to schooltime order -- I want to do and not to think about doing; I want continuation or ending for things left unfinished.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Job Market - Today


QUALIFICATIONS: Graduation from high school; or any equivalent combination of education and experience that would provide the following knowledge, abilities, and skills: Knowledge of student behavior as applied to children; of the language, culture, and other characteristics of the families whose children are enrolled in Loudoun County Public Schools. Ability to work effectively with children; to supervise student behavior, maintain discipline, and to perform general lunch room duties. Good human relations and communications skills.

JOB DESCRIPTION: This is a part-time employee working in the school lunchroom in an elementary school. An employee in this class is responsible for overseeing students from the time they enter the lunchroom until the time they leave. Work is performed under the supervision of the School Principal/Assistant Principal

Friday, November 20, 2009

Jenny Allen - December, 2008

Did someone say something last night about playing bridge today if it rained? I seem to remember the husband in that nice couple who came for dinner suggesting it — it moved me how you could tell that even though he was talking about playing bridge as if he thought it was a campy idea, something our parents might do, he really wanted to do it. And did I say something like “Oh, I don’t know how to play bridge, but I’d love to learn!”? If I did, that’s because I felt sorry for him. Also, I think I was kind of drunk at the time.

I would not love to learn. I would hate to learn. Bridge is unlearnable by me. You have to have a partner and strategy and write things down on little pads of paper and somehow store the previous moves of others in your memory, like a squirrel storing nuts, for use later. It sounds like a job. A job I would get fired from on the first day, before lunch.

The New Yorker

Friday, November 13, 2009

Susan Sontag - September, 2001

The disconnect between last Tuesday's monstrous dose of reality and the self-righteous drivel and outright deceptions being peddled by public figures and TV commentators is startling, depressing. The voices licensed to follow the event seem to have joined together in a campaign to infantilize the public. Where is the acknowledgment that this was not a "cowardly" attack on "civilization" or "liberty" or "humanity" or "the free world" but an attack on the world's self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions? How many citizens are aware of the ongoing American bombing of Iraq? And if the word "cowardly" is to be used, it might be more aptly applied to those who kill from beyond the range of retaliation, high in the sky, than to those willing to die themselves in order to kill others. In the matter of courage (a morally neutral virtue): whatever may be said of the perpetrators of Tuesday's slaughter, they were not cowards.

The New Yorker

Wallace Stevens - 1922 - Let Be Be Finale of Seem

Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month's newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Take from the dresser of deal,
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
On which she embroidered fantails once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

The Emperor of Ice-Cream

Robert - April, 1992

Another wacky night doing things I had no intention doing. Mark took me to a party at a woman named Bettina's loft. Big, bright-colored art. Good booze. No people. Except Gianluigi the gadabout and (not surprising for some reason) Victor. He stands too close and gets too earnest. I was looking cute (almost as cute as the Dalmatian puppy with a fondness for crumpled black cocktail napkins). As I said goodbye, Bettina introduced me as "actor" to a boy that looked younger than me, and yet "producer." He started talking about paying his dues, so I had to go...

Zack took Mark and me to Lucky Strike and got progressively odder (about spiritual matters, sex, love, and life) and freer with his hands as the evening wore on. By the end, he was insisting repeatedly that Mark and I acknowledge his love for us. He also kissed me all over my face and gave me his (only okay) tie when I complimented it as a diversionary tactic. I will compliment a Bruce Weber photograph if I'm ever in his apartment again.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Robert - Today - Needless Hugging

There’s the shake and lean; the hug from behind; and, the newest addition, the triple — any combination of three girls and boys hugging at once.

“We’re not afraid, we just get in and hug,” said Danny Schneider, a junior at the school, where hallway hugging began shortly after 7 a.m. on a recent morning as students arrived. “The guy friends, we don’t care. You just get right in there and jump in.”

“If somebody were to not hug someone, to never hug anybody, people might be just a little wary of them and think they are weird or peculiar,” said Gabrielle Brown, a freshman at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School in Manhattan.

Comforting as the hug may be, principals across the country have clamped down. “Touching and physical contact is very dangerous territory,” said Noreen Hajinlian, the principal of George G. White School, a junior high school in Hillsdale, N.J., who banned hugging two years ago. “It was needless hugging — they are in the hallways before they go to class. It wasn’t a greeting. It was happening all day.”
For this and much, much more, see the paper of record.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Edward Gorey - November 1992

N is for Neville who died of ennui

We all have periods when we're shining very brightly and people are calling us up and wanting to do things and so forth, and then somehow the phases of the moon change and we're hardly visible at all and the phone doesn't ring for days. I just go along with that. I wait for the phone to ring, usually.

-- The New Yorker

Robert - Today

This is one of my dreams: To live in a renovated gas station

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Izzy - March 1990

It is sooo big. And how fortunate that there was a photographer on hand the one day of the year you can actually see the mountains.

I still don't like it here (not even a little) -- it's big, dirty, crowded, hostile -- but I've decided to perservere nonetheless. You see, I have an agenda. I have a possible job selling movies to video stores (movies with titles like Cobra II and stars like William Katt) and an interview with an actors' studio this afternoon. This is either just the beginning or the beginning of the end. Either way, I'm terrified, but determined.

Adulation and acclaim -- both in the same semester? I'm impressed, as I am with your TA-ship. Finally, you can mold people in your image. Crew cuts for everyone!

Let's make a deal -- Whoever gets famous first has to take the other along for the ride.

The Return of the Native - 1878/1978

He had been a lad of whom something was expected. Beyond this all had been chaos. That he would be successful in an original way, or that he would go to the dogs in an original way, seemed equally probable. The only absolute certainty about him was that he would not stand still in the circumstances amid which he was born.

1878 - Written by Thomas Hardy; 1978 - First read by Robert

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Georgetown Graduation - May 1984

That was a very white shirt, apparently.

Phil - October 1987

I have recently taken up two new hobbies that may interest you. The first one is darts. I purchased a set of good British throwing darts at the Quonset Hut with the help of my employee discount. A friend has since lent me his old dartboard, which I put in my room. I learned that darts were invented by knights in the Middle Ages to kill time between jousting, saving fair maidens, slaying dragons, and other general knightly tasks. The ideas of chivalry and courtesy still exist in the game today and the people who play in the bars around Akron are a fairly amiable group.

My second hobby is Oriental cooking. With the help of my birthday money, I bought a wok from Pier One. Now I can cook bland food in two cultures, instead of just one.

Good Legs - Spring 1982

New York City Wild Posting - 2009

A tourist vainly attempts to shield herself from the horrific power of Lucky cover wild postings

Wild Postings are temporary highly engaging forms of street-level advertising media. Wild Posting initiatives consist of various forms of media such as street posters, sidewalk chalkings, static-cling wild postings, sidewalk decals, magnet wild postings, metro door hangers, and other non-traditional "guerilla media" advertising vehicles.

Laura - May 1985

Monday 29 April 1985 - I received 3 cacti (rather large) from my friend because they were "getting into everything, especially the stereo."

Saturday 4 May 1985 - My housemate had a party.

Sunday 5 May 1985 - #1 cactus in my room where I left it. #2 cactus downstairs by an open window. #3 where? Jumping to conclusions, I decided someone took him because he was so "odd." I hoped whoever got pricked thousand X's. And then inevitably I became disillusioned about this entire world.

One and a half hours later Mary found #3 lying outside the window, having survived the toss incredibly well. I was able to continue with the day.

You may be pleased to know the cactus is resting safely under the bench on which I sit. The bench is white. The sky is blue.

while on the street sometime
watch people swing their arms as they go by
seems as if people can't move without swinging their arms
You'll get such a kick out of it. I just
know you'll start laughing

Robert - May 1989

Behind me, the local agricultural club is discussing the length of the flight. There are various versions of what the French(Belgian?)-accented pilot said. No one has yet attempted the math. What I'm noticing most are smells: fresh moist towlette and stale upholstery and cigarette smoke on people's clothes. Also the man next to me in a lousy light blue suit. Where is the glamor in international travel? The film is Pathfinder -- the English-language version. What?

I am still waiting for excitement to overtake me. Perhaps I am too tired. I am also sitting next to the toilet. Will I look retarded working in my French grammar book? Pathfinder, it turns out, is the story of a boy on "the frozen planes" of Lapland 1000 years ago. It stars Mikkel Gaup and Ingvald Guttorm. I do want to go north. At least as far as Amsterdam. (Okay, I'm getting excited.)

The Sundays - 1990+

The anthem band for thems that don't like anthems. So, on this Sunday:

People I see, weary of me showing my good side
I could see how people look down -- I'm on the outside

Some days he's more than humble. Some days he's cold and mad, mad as hell

As the heavens shudder baby I belong to you
Oh they said you get what you deserve and all they said was true

Oh sometimes, get up a voice inside says, there's no time for breaking down

Saturday, October 31, 2009

My Brain is Like a Sieve - 1988

I first heard this in a car on the way to Jersey City, which I still get confused with Hoboken. I bought the cassette, never the CD, and haven't found it on iTunes. You can listen to it here.

Margo - December 1983

I am in class right now but this man is a dreadful bore and his speech is imprecise and sloppy. I pass. This is one of those irritating, time-consuming, trivial education courses. I only came to hand something in. And you know what bugs me? He is using the overhead projector but the transparencies are permanent and he doesn't need to write anything but the asshole has his pen uncapped. That just bugs the heck out of me.

I'm not going to Istanbul. I'm too tired. I'm just gonna stay here in Akron. That way I won't have to pack or discard anything. I can just sit here.

I read Valley of the Dolls again Sunday but I got to the part where Anne decides to use her money to get Lyon to stay in New York and I just couldn't go on. It's too sad and I've already been through it once. I want to see the movie.

I read Homer's Odyssey last night before I went to sleep and all night I had dreams about gods in the modern world. It was really fun.


Bill - February 1997

For an education in swindles, stop by Summit Bank. There, a mother of a couple of your Firestone classmates will try to sucker you as soon as you sit down.

Always ask for literature and rates before, not after, opening an account. Regardless of age, dress or demeanor, employees of banks and S&L's are underpaid products of high school. Most mean well. Some are cynical. Not all can be trusted.