Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Today is my one year blogger birthday. In a few years, I'll look back and laugh, did I really keep one of those electric-trend blogs?

Being that I don't have much to say I'll just puke out the stuff in my head.

At the suggestion of a friend I watched Nicholas Nickleby last night. A Charles Dicken's story. It was the best movie I've seen all year.

Today, I went to the theater for the first time in months to see The Brothers Grimm. I was disappointed. I actually fell asleep. I am desperately searching for good storytellers. Hollywood has lost all my respect.

I drove past the Chevron today while the clerk was changing the price on the marquee. $3.07 for regular unleaded. Somebody is getting very very rich at the expense of average Joe.

The most ridiculous thing I have seen in all my life had to be what I saw today at the mall. Abercrombie and Fitch hired a sculpted male model to be a shirtless greeter.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Supermarket Checkstand

I'm waiting my turn in the checkout line at the supermarket, piling my meager dinner ingredients onto the conveyer belt. The man in front of me is an old guy, probably in his sixties. Thick head of white hair, a dwindling muscular build and a dominating posture. The checker, an attractive woman in her early thirties is busy going about her job, scanning the endless river of groceries flowing her way. She glances up and notices the old guy. Even though his back was towards me I could sense a sly smile under his twinkling eyes.

"Weren't you just in here?" She asks in a friendly checker tone.

"Nope, not today." he says.

"I could have sworn you were just in here."

"I visited you in your dreams last night. I know you've been dreaming about me." Man this old dude is totally perving out, I'm thinking and everyone else in line is thinking the same thing. She nervously laughs and goes back to being a scanning machine. He continues on like this and I'm feeling uncomfortable. I'm looking at a little pulp spiritual guide with a picture of sunlight breaking through clouds on the cover, but really I'm dropping eaves all over the floor.

She finally finish ringing the guy up and he winks and flashes a salivating smile that almost drowns everyone in line. "I'll be dreaming about you sweetheart."

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Concerning Some Strains of Feminism: A Porch Conversation

It is challenging sometimes living with feminist. I was on the porch talking to my neighbor tonight, smoking a cigarette, yes, a damn cigarette! She said that she would never get married, that she will never have children. Men are perverts, she said. And having children would only contribute to the over population of the world, not to mention wreck her body. Oh what a sad outlook! I pointed to her ovaries. "Monica, your a baby making machine, and that is a miracle!"

Another neighbor of mine, gave me an essay she had written for her feminist studies class to read last spring. It was titled "The Big Penis". I had to laugh at the title and that academic papers could be title as such but the contents of the essay really broke my heart. Her thesis was that there is a great big abstract penis continually bonking women on the head. As if there was this person called "man" (sometimes I refer to him as "the man") and that his only purpose on earth is to abuse women and take away their goddess powers. It is easy to believe in such a simplistic world-view, and I sometimes borrow such a view to make myself feel good, as if there were a wizard behind the curtain feeding us propaganda over the television with the ultimate goal of turning us into cyborgs, but in reality there are over six billion individuals on this planet. Some individuals are more confused or corrupt than others but compartmentalizing men and women--sexism--is as misguided as racism. Monica, there are good guys out there, you just need to meet them! Life and healthy sexuality is as mysterious, powerful, and wonderful as any deep field Hubble telescope or European holiday! And don't let professors tell you otherwise.

The Coming of Autumn

Once punchy,spring-red poison berries,
droop now, in late summer.
Burnt orange bundles sagging
on bent branches:
Bitter buoy bobbing
on waves of overripened air.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Factory Work

Went out blackberry picking yesterday. It was a great time. We baked pies till midnight. I was kinda wanting to go to bed and listen to the radio when it got late, so I told my friend, who was totally gun-ho (is that a word?) about baking the two remaining uncooked pies, that we would just bake 'em in the morning. We'd sit on the porch eating fresh pies and ice cream and coffee--for breakfast. "Ok, ok, dude! Let's wake up for the sunrise and eat pie and ice cream." "Uh...naw. Just come over around 9. That's plenty early." She got on me for being unadventurous. What she maybe didn't quite get is that dreaming is my favorite hobby. I need my full eight hours in to get maximum dream time. "Why wake up early when I can spend the morning having cool dreams?"

Those words came back to bite me. Last night I dreamt that I was a factory worker at a paint manufacturer. I think I spent all those eight dream hours tending to a mixing machine in a drab corner of the plant. Nothing cool happened at all except I had to work a factory job for free! Next time I'm going to enjoy the sunrise.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Today is just going to be one of those wonderfully lazy autumn like days. I'm going blackberry picking later with a friend and then we are going to bake pies later in the evening. Until then, I thought I would jot down a few thoughts that came to me after reading Ann Spam's post today and Jessi's Don Quixote piece from a few days ago.

There is a big difference between being alone and being lonely. For some the thought of not having people around is terrifying and they assume that people that are alone must also be lonely. It is unhealthy to always be alone and you can tell when people are lacking in fellowship with others. But there is a distinction between being alone and being isolated. These are qualitative differences. If you lock yourself in a high tower and watch TV or continually surf the internet or spend all your time with your eyes in a palantir, then you are not really alone but wrestling with a shadow of real human communion.

I guess to me there is no such thing as being alone alone. There is always the wind, the trees, ideas, good music. These things are like food for the spirit and I refuse to believe post modern cultural critics when they asserts that the individual Subject is dead or illusionary. For all those people running around performing for or worshiping other men I can perhaps understand their terror at coming to grips with their own self. The self can be a scary thing. If your bored your not alone, if your restless, or lusty, or writing on a blog, your not alone. Being alone for me at least is when I clear my mind of all worldly things and look towards the otherworldly. Or God shows me, individually how blessed I really am and how much farther I have to walk to be entirely in Him. People are a gift from God to individuals and I am continually amazed by the people He puts in my life. Even the people that I think are bad at first are blessings. But the most special relationship to me is the one between my soul alone and the Creator of all things. And I am just beginning to revel in that, and that to me is exciting.

My upstairs neighbors got home from a weekend trip last night and Beth knocked on my door. "Matt did you clean the lobby?" She asked. "Yeah I did." "Oh thank you. Thank you. It looks so good." "Yeah, thanks. I went on a cleaning spree this weekend." She looked at me with concern, "Aww, where you lonely?" I smiled and laughed, "No, no, it wasn't anything like that. I cleaned up for company."

I can't really ever remember being lonely. And as hokey as it sounds, the famous poem, Footprints, means a lot to me.


My aunt and uncle, whom I haven't seen in probably ten years, came to visit yesterday along with my parents. My parents moved my brother and me to Washington from California and all of our extended family when I was eleven years old. I am proud of my dad, that he had the foresight to see that southern California was becoming a pit and how much courage it must have taken to move his family away from his own family and my mothers family and come here alone to a place we had never been. Washington, especially Whatcom county, is paradise on earth in my eyes and I was so excited for my aunt and uncle to see what a awesome region we live in. At the same time I was a little nervous about entertaining family I haven't seen in my adult life. I see family so rarely, maybe that is why I long to be a hobbit. All jitters disappeared as soon as they arrived and we greeted each other with hugs. You can always just be yourself around family and that is what I like.

My Uncle and dad look just alike and it was strange seeing this man that grew up with my dad, who shared in the same childhood experiences, the offspring of my grandparents, and I was fascinated by his behavior, comparing it with my dads. We all went out to Mexican food (me and Mexican food have been having a passionate, lusty, sloppy, love affair for the last couple weeks)at one of my favorite Mexican restaurants. We all ordered our food and my aunt laughed harder and louder than I have ever heard a Washingtonian laugh in public, a real honest gut laugh. My family, well the men in my family, my bro, my dad and me, eat kind of like pigs, politely but incessantly. I was amazed at the restraint of my uncle or perhaps it wasn't restraint but a normal appetite unknown to Barry men. He ate about six nachos and boxed the rest! The reason I write about it at all is because of a comment my brother made later when we got home and the family took off.

"Where you totally impressed by how little Uncle David ate at dinner tonight?"

"Yeah, that is probably how normal people eat, we were raised by a disfunctional eater."

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Living Tree

One of my dreams last night was very much more than a dream, it was kind of like while sleeping, I awoke in the real reality, like I was Neo waking up in a test tube. What ever it was, it was the closest thing to break[ing] on through to the other side I have experienced. So, suddenly I became aware that I was in a void. There were people with me in the void, in fact everybody was with me in the void--everyone who has ever been. My brother was next to me and we were as we are now, age twenty five and twenty three, except we were holding on, dangling from our parents feet. I, grasping my fathers ankles, my brother, my mom's. They were hanging from their own parent's feet and their siblings were next to them. My cousins were near my brother and me hanging from my aunt and uncle's feet and my cousin's children below them, haning on. And here is a strange detail. We all had ambilical cords connecting us to our mothers and we were all naked. And this living tree as it were, stretched up for a long long ways and not all family lines stretched as far as we were. Some mothers had no children and entire lines of families ended. But our family was strong indeed stretching back to the very begining of the line of humanity. And as I looked up, I could see that humanity was very much like one living thing, growing. And above it all, high high above it all, was a white light, cold and yet full of color and there was far away music almost to quite to hear. I looked at my brother and we hung in the void and then I woke up.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Doggy Style

It is the little things in life, the mundane adventures of the common man that I think are important. Colors, smells, the bus stop. These little things add up, and when we notice them, when we appreciate them, life is richer.

I was walking home from the gym this morning thinking about Angels and what the world, with all of her people moving around at a such a frantic pace, must look like to them. And an image of a Sharpe puppy filled my mind. The puppy’s name was Koggie and I remember him from childhood. He was the neighbor‘s dog. He was a cute dog, all wrinkled. He had this bad habit though of humping my brother‘s leg. He couldn’t help it really and no one beat him for it, just kind of shooed him away--told him, no, bad dog. He was still a cool creature in his own way. Sniffing, slobbering, chasing my brother’s leg--not exactly things that people do but we forgave him and his owners still took him on walks. I fear that when Angels look down on us (especially the pervs who ruin online gaming!) they probably see a creature that for what ever reason, is focused on dry humping a leg rather than getting in mundane adventures.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005




My favorite sound comes on mornings like this one, when everything is quite except for the wind and a few seagulls. From a porch hidden in the trees on the hill, or through an open kitchen window--the sound of spoons tinging against cereal bowls.

The Scouring of The Shire

Been getting back to the gym, which means I again have access to television. Even though I'm pumping my fist while listening to Flogging Molly on the treadmill, I can still see Katie Couric and the rest of 'em smiling and lauging about nearly everything, except maybe during interviews about woman who have survived attacks from male stalkers, then they have the most serious faces. I'm pretty sure it's all an act anyhow, after all, it is television.

One thing I've noticed while watching The Today Show (sound isn't as important in the experience as you might think)is that they have a list of rules for everything. Fashion do's and don't's, rules for traveling, what your children should and shouldn't watch, where to go to school, what to buy, how to act. Who keeps up with these lists? Do they really shape the way people act? Probably.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Hair Cut

I decided to go get a haircut yesterday. I should probably go to the barber instead of those metro salons like Great Clips. I have nothing against the women folk, but every now and again it is nice just to go to an old style Barber shop and flip through hunting magazines and talk to the old timers. Men need a space purely for men. Anyway, I walked into Great Clips and was greeted by a cute young girl with shiny stylized hair and makeup and bracelets, rings, and just generally looking hip. I followed her to the chair and sat down. She put a bib on me and a band around my neck. "So what are we going to do for you today?" she asked chiperly. For some strange reason I blurted out, "hmm, how about a flattop." I haven't had a flat top since I was six. She looked at me in a panic and then just stared at me nervously. I could tell she didn't know how to give a flattop. She probably only learned a few styles at beauty school. "I should have went to the barber." I was thinking. Then this older woman, probably in her fourties, peeked from around the corner and told the young girl that she could do the flat top for me. She was like a cowboy of a woman and buzzed the shit out of my head. I'm looking forward to my hair growing back but I do get a kick out of the differences between an old style barber shop and the newer unisex beauty salons.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Ray Charles in Charge

I'm off. Going to go buy a pipe and some tobacco and then head out to my buddies property. I'm going to camp under the meteor showers tonight, next to a fire. I've been waiting for this all summer.

Friday, August 12, 2005


He played Grand Theft Auto
He murdered three cops
Therefore, playing Grand Theft Auto caused him to murder cops.

Hmm... Am I missing something?
I played Grand Theft Auto for a month and though Bellingham and the pedestrians walking around kinda looked like toys for a while, I did not murder anyone.

I played Grand Theft Auto
I did not murder anyone
He played Grand Theft Auto
He murdered someone
Conclusion: playing Grand theft auto does not necessarilly lead to murder.

Could it be that there are more than one or two variables in a person's life and that all those countless and unique experiences in one's life are what make one an individual!? And as individuals do we not have to take responsibility for our own actions? Choice, free will: the foundations of self, of soul, and redemption!

PS... Same goes for the story Micheal posted a few days ago about a Korean man who dropped dead of a heart attack after a four day gaming binge. Perhaps he ate one to many Big Macs.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Lip Smackingly Good

I woke up early and went to the gym this morning and the day just got better from there. Here are some highlights:

I. Had coffee on porch with the neighbors. We talked about food. Food is the one topic that everyone on earth can relate to.

II. Went to the library and read. Being around people when it is quite and they are touching things, especially paper, softly, makes my hair stand up. I was getting high on that hair standing up feeling, when I noticed I was surrounded by about eight old men. Every couple seconds one of them made a disgusting old person noise with their mouth or nose: clearing their throat, smacking their lips, sniffing their snot. It was gross but some how pleasurable.

III. My financial aid award letter came. I am getting tons of grant money.

IV. My brother and I went to Izzy's Buffet. We have been going there about three times a month for a while now. At the salad bar, Andy says to me, "Some people are regulars at bars, we are regulars at a buffet restaurant." He looked scared that we might be considered gay. That made me laugh.

V. I saw a pregnant woman walking her dog and was amazed that I haven't been more amazed by pregnant women before.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


Before he pushed through the door to his future, Marcus paused to admire his own reflection in the glass. He looked like a professional: solid navy blue tie around his neck, pressed white dress shirt on his back, and a stiff pair of colorless kakis on his legs--a catalogue model. His only regret was that he didn’t have a falcon perched on his shoulder; a man wearing an animal, especially a live one, trained to hunt and scout, is worth a whole office of men dressed in dead plants. But he was confident that the tie, for this situation at least, was an adequate sign of power. After all, this was only a video store. He entered the store smiling inwardly.

“Well hello there. Welcome to Corporate Chain Video. How can I help you?” sung the boy behind the front counter.

“Hi. I’m Marcus. I’m scheduled for a job interview at noon.”

“Right. I’ll inform my manager of your arrival. He should just be finishing up his eleven thirty interview. Browse through the videos if you like. He’ll be with you shortly.”

Marcus smiled, bowing slightly. He appreciated the boy’s friendly disposition after initial feelings of distrust. Turning calmly, he shuffled off to the science fiction section, pleased with his new quest. Surely videos would be free from then on, one of the benefits of working at a video store. A few titles looked interesting: Altered States, The Lawn Mower Man, The Thirteenth Floor. Hovering over the sci-fi shelf, he rehearsed, in his mind, responses to possible interview questions. Questions such as: What is your favorite movie? Can you hand customers videos across the counter with a smile? When can you start? He blinked and noticed the carpet for the first time--purple, with little golden film reels twirling in splashes of green and red. It made him feel cheerful.

“Marcus, I presume.” The voice was chirpy, campy, hiding some deep insecurity. The person who spoke it was a man-child, eighteen years old, with a hint of fuzz over his upper lip. He was outfitted in a purple polo shirt like the boy at the register. Unlike the boy however, his uniform was decorated with badges--medals--symbols of his rank and valor. There were a variety of badges. Some had portraits of famous movie stars such as Orlando Bloom dressed as an elf, while others had slogans such as, “You’re Right” printed in silly fonts.

“Yes. That’s me.” Marcus answered

As if addressing a toddler, the decorated employee spoke, “A pleasure to meet you. I am Clarence, the general manager here. I‘ll be administering your interview. Follow me please.”

Marcus followed him to the back of the store, past the bathrooms, the water fountain, the storage closet, and finally up a staircase to the second floor office.

“Have a seat Marcus.” Clarence’s cheery attitude, if a little overdone, didn’t seem out of place down stairs, where there were cartoon characters painted on the walls and shelves filled with cotton candy and tubs of colored popcorn, but the same attitude was frightening upstairs, a place filled with paper clips, filing cabinets, and a monitor showing a silent flickering black and white movie of the boy at the front desk, opening and closing video cases.

Marcus’s only fear down stairs was that he wouldn’t get the job because he was over qualified for the position. In the stuffy, confining space of the upstairs office, he began to fear all sorts of things: electronic radiation, spiders, his own inadequacies.

“Marcus, let me frank,” his tone was suddenly serious, “the number one trait that employers in the service industry look for in a potential employee is an unabashed enthusiasm for life. If our employees aren’t happy, our guests aren’t happy. You don’t have any mood disorders or conditions that would prevent you from making our guest happy do you Marcus?”

“Uh, no. No, I am generally a happy person.” Marcus wasn’t sure if his definition of happiness was synonymous with the definition stated in the Corporate Chain Video handbook but he wasn’t about to ask for clarification.

“Good! I could tell.” Clarence’s zest was back.

Marcus relaxed in his seat and crossed his legs, mimicking the power position he had read about in How to Win Friends and Influence People.

“Ok here we go. Are you ready to have some fun?” Clarence jabbed Marcus playfully in the arm. “Imagine this scenario. You’re alone in the middle of a vast desert without food or water. In front of you is a great chasm measuring one thousand miles deep, one thousand miles wide, and hundreds of feet across. On the other side of this divide is a bountiful oasis, over flowing with the most thirst quenching water, the plumpest grapes, the fattest lambs. If you can devise a strategy to cross this chasm you will live the rest of your days in unfathomable bliss, if not, you will surely meet a slow and painful death. After a thorough search of your surroundings, you find only two things that might be useful: four planks of wood and an infinite length of rope. Marcus, tell me, how are you going to cross this barrier?"

A sweat broke out on Marcus’s forehead, a response to the panic that was overwhelming his nervous system. He hadn’t anticipated actually having to think during the interview. He took a breath and built a church steeple out of his fingers. Four boards, infinite length of rope, thousand mile deep pit. His mind was racing. Could the universe contain an infinite length of rope? Should he incorporate videos in his plan? Maybe he should say something moral to show what a good guy he was. He thought about suggesting prayer as a solution but wasn’t sure if there was a separation of church and business so he kept his mouth shut. Awkward silence.

“Marcus, don’t sweat it my friend. That was just a warm up question to get your blood flowing. We have teams of psychologist working on questions like these. Each manager is given a full volume of interview questions. See, here at Corporate Chain Video, we want sharp, fresh minds. Innovative minds. I can’t tell you how many applicants I interview that think all this job entails is operating the cash register. Nothing could be further from the truth. The video rental industry is a competitive field. The mom and pop stores are dead. There are only two competitors left: Commercial Giant Video and us. We want employees with solutions. There isn’t a problem to deep, or to wide when it comes to satisfying our guests . I’m telling you we have underground labs full of psychologists working to bring our guests maximum satisfaction. Let’s move on to the next question for now, but continue thinking about that problem and we’ll come back to it. Think metaphor. Ok? Ok.”

Marcus’s lips were a crew of muscles constructing a smile.

“Tell me about your personal strengths. And if you could, why don’t you tell me about some of your weaknesses and what steps you are taking to better yourself.”

“I am curious, driven, and imaginative. I really enjoy working with people, in fact people are my greatest curiosity. I recently completed my masters degree in anthropology and I’m pretty proud of that. As far as my weaknesses, hmm… I am very ambitious. Sometimes my ambition gets in the way of my personal life. You know, there is just so much to do and so little time to do it in. I am very devoted to my work, and well, I look forward to pouring my energy into Corporate Chain Video Clarence, uh, sir.”

Marcus was lying. His major weakness was day-dreaming, but he dare not admit that to Clarence, not in the confinement of this tower. Lately, he had been feeding his fantasies by submerging himself in a massive online role-playing game called Life Quest. Unlike the real world, Burrowstone, the kingdom in Life Quest, was a place were people did walk around with falcons on their shoulders. People with worldly ambitions scoff at gamers who create fictional self-identities, who play in a simulated world instead of a real one. Marcus wasn’t sure that the world itself wasn’t a simulation. After all, how natural was it for a man to wear a purple polo shirt? It wasn’t that he wasn’t ambitious, only that he was ambitious about very different things than most people; like becoming a level ten sorcerer in Life Quest, or doing the crossword puzzle in the paper each morning.

“Curious? Imaginative? Ok, but would you say you’re a leader--a problem solver?”

This was beginning to feel like a visit to a shrink. Clarence was a pubescent kid; he signed pay checks. What right did he have to dig deep into peoples souls? “Yeah, I would say I’m a leader and a problem solver.”

“Can you give me an example of when you felt proud of your leadership ability. A time when you lead a group of people to a successful outcome.”

Marcus had been the president of the rocket club in seventh grade if that counted for anything. It wasn’t like he was Alexander the Great or the Pope. He wanted to mention how he had banded together a rag tag troop of farmers in Burrowstone, and defeated Gloustar, the wizard tyrant who was drying up crops with his wicked spells. The battle had even been mentioned in the official Life Quest fan blog. Marcus still kept in contact with one of the farmers from that epic battle via email. In real life he lived in Clevland and worked at Starbucks. The dark wizard Gloustar was a real estate agent in Tennessee.

“Hmm, well, I am a Sunday school teacher. I lead the children in prayer and song. I am pretty proud of that. I mean, I was also the president of my rocket club in seventh grade.” The Sunday school bit was a lie. How did that slip out? He went to church occasionally. Christmas eve was the last time.

“Good enough Marcus. Fine. Well things are going well. Wouldn’t you say?” Clarence had that addressing-a-child tone again. “Now we’re going to have some real fun.”
On the monitor behind Clarence, the boy cashier was energetically greeting two new guest with a toothy smile. Marcus shivered.

“Let’s do some role playing. We have a promotion for our guest this month in which, for a flat rate, they can rent unlimited videos. Your job as a guest service specialist, is to make the guests feel like family. You know how people are, they have long days at work, have to haul the kids to soccer practice. Life can be very stressful, Marcus. Our job is not about renting videos, it is about making our guest feel loved. Some guests are friendly, others are grumpy. It is important that we treat everyone like family. Our specialist have written a list of conversation starters that we require each employee to memorize. It is quite useful actually. You can even use them on friends and strangers when your outside of work. So, anyway, I am going to pretend to be a guest and I want you to sell me the Super All-Star promotional deal.

Marcus was reminded of a tribe he had read about in one of his Anthropology text books. In their culture it was customary for strangers to share in silence for at least ten minutes before speaking. Marcus had met Clarence less than ten minutes ago and already he had divulged his strengths, his weaknesses, had lied twice, and was now being forced to act. He still wasn’t totally clear how any of this related to selling videos but he needed to pay his rent; the job market was struggling--if Clarence the man-boy told him to act, he was going to. He had to eat. He had to pay rent. He had to advance to a level ten Mage Guild Master.

He was sweating, blushing, shaking. He tried to recall what the guest service specialists usually said to him when he would check out videos. “Hello sir. Did you find everything ok? I’d like to tell you about our new promotional package called the All-Star deal.”

“Super All-Star deal.” Clarence felt it necessary to break the magical-realism of the moment to correct Marcus.

“Uh, yes, yes sir, the Super All-Star deal. You pay a flat rate…”

“Of fourteen ninety five a month”

“Uh, of fourteen dollars and ninety five cents a month. How can you pass on a deal like that sir? For the price of just three movie rentals, you can watch as many movies as you want. Imagine watching a Hollywood blockbuster every night--for free!” Marcus sold himself. He’d stop by the front counter and sign up for the All-Star package on his way out.

“Not bad Marcus. Could have used a little more enthusiasm but once you read our employee hand book you’ll understand what I mean. Well, we have reached the question comment section of the interview. Do you have any questions you’d like to throw my way?

Marcus had a ton of questions but they were questions he wasn’t sure Clarence could answer, such as, was Clarence a real person or was he a robot built by Corporate Chain Video engineers in an underground lab? What was the significance of the color purple? How would he break into the field of anthropology if he wasn’t even psychologically qualified to work at a video store?

“No Clarence. No questions.”

“Easy enough. I think you would make a wonderful addition to our staff Marcus. Two quick things. First, I am not qualified to hire you,” he spoke hurriedly while fingering the buttons on his shirt, “but I will invite you back for a panel interview tomorrow afternoon if that works for you. Three of our area supervisors will be administering that interview. A little intimidating I know, but you’ll do just fine. Second, we only have one counter shift available, but we can get you a few extra shifts as a sign waver. It is the sign wavers job to dance on the street corner dressed as Fluffy, the Corporate Chain Video mascot. It is a really rewarding job Marcus. The children absolutely adore Fluffy. You would be doing a service to the community. We all have to start out somewhere. What do you think? Should I pencil you in for the interview tomorrow afternoon?”

“Sure. Why not? I can wave a sign.” Marcus: a highly educated man, forced to work the street corners dressed as grape flavored swath of cotton candy until something better turned up.

“Wonderful Marcus. Wonderful.”

They both stood up and shook hands. The interview was over. Marcus walked back down the stair case followed by Clarence. The neon tube lighting flickered above them. The stairway was narrow and the ceiling was low. The walls were unpainted and splintery. Marcus guessed by Clarence’s silence that the writers of the Corporate Chain Video handbook didn’t write a chapter on how to converse in a stairwell. He was all smiles and cheers when their feet touched the noisy purple carpet again.

“Marcus. The chasm problem, did you figure it out?”

“No. Not really. The only thing I could think of is pray to God. That can’t be right though.”

“Ah I didn’t think of that. Better than that though--remember the infinite length of rope--fill the pit with the rope and walk across using the four boards as a movable bridge.” Clarence proudly turned and disappeared into the dark hall.

The boy cashier, lit up as Marcus approached the front door. “Did you steal the sun?”

Clouds had blown in and blocked out the spring sunshine while Marcus had been upstairs. The boy’s question was nonsensical but Marcus appreciated the playfulness of it after an initial reaction of annoyance.

He pushed through the door and found himself in a vast desert. In front of him, spread a great chasm measuring one thousand miles deep, one thousand miles wide, and hundreds of feet across. An old weathered tin road sign covered in dust, marked the edge of the pit. It read Corporate Chain Video. On the other side of the great divide was a bountiful oasis over flowing with food, rent money, and a renewed Life Quest subscription. The only resources Marcus could use to cross the chasm were: an infinite length of his own soul and four wooden planks of self respect.


I want to write about something I saw on TV this weekend that I haven't really ever seen before: A man's foundation crumble from beneath him. Maybe you to saw this show, Dateline or some such program, but on it, they argued a thesis I myself have formulated, mainly that modern art, especially abstract expressionism is a joke spitefully played on the hardworking people of the world by ego maniac nin-com-poops.

Observation: The line between art and tools, between art and ego, has vanished. A toaster is a useful tool for warming and crisping bread, glue an umbrella on it and it suddenly becomes a million dollar art sculpture and yet renders it entirely useless as a tool.

: Average people will not be able to tell the difference between a De Kooning and a preschoolers finger painting.

Experiment: Show eight works of art at a gallery. Four of the painting will be famous works by artist such as Marcel Duchamp and Jackson Pollock. The other four paintings will be finger paintings done by pre schoolers. Let the viewers guess which paintings are famous works worth millions of dollars and which ones were done last week by preschoolers. Also invite art historians, dealers and professors to look at and discuss why these works qualify as art while not revealing that preschoolers painted half of them.

Results: Average people not only could not tell the difference between a Rothko and a five year old's painting, they were upset to learn that a black circle painted on a white canvas was worth over a million dollars. The Art critics praised the preschooler paintings calling them fine compositions.

Now to the bit about a man's world crumbling before my eyes. The reporter, standing in front of a finger painting, asked an expert: Why the hell is this art again? (paraphrased). The expert responded, well it's not a simple matter. See this painting is multi layered. Its not just about the content but form--the emotions it evokes in the individual across time. It is a composition in which the negative spaces have meanings, it is about variation of line and color about the viewers interaction with it, bla bla bla. The reporter looked at the man and said, "A preschooler painted this." (!) A very talented preschooler, the expert shot back looking like a puddle of embarrassed flavored pudding .

Poor guy I thought. And then I was reminded of Sauraman not coming down from the tower of Isengaurd, not heeding the advice of Gandolf the White. My god man, Get out of the tower. Let us create real art! Art that serves as a functional tool for man kind. Put away the garbage that will be the next piece of assemblage sculpture and strive instead to make something beautiful, that does not confuse the masses but lifts them up! Too long have we mistaken the ugly for the beautiful!

Friday, August 05, 2005

I Want To Be Like Mike(al Landon)

Job search time. Being unemployed is like being the ring bearer. Great power comes with free time and yet it is so easy to submit to the eye of slothfulness. Two things I will comment on in this posting. First: Civilazation II: Test of Time is the most addicting thing ever made by the hand of man. I have broken the game disk three times--cleaved the bastard right in half trying to reclaim my life and yet as I type, the game disk is sitting on my desk swinging its legs innocently enough but whispering in an evil hiss: play me, yes precious, play. It has a will of it's own. My great concern surrounds the fact that civ 4, which the makers are actually marketing as lethally addictive, comes out in December. Help me Lord.

The second thing I kind of want to rant about before I drift off to sleep is how ill qualified I am to be a successful middle class American. I looked at over a hundred local jobs this afternoon and I'm not qualified for any of them, well fast food maybe and I'd rather not go there. I love reading and writing, though I'm not sure I can make a living by reading science fiction. I am so willing to start at the bottom. If only the world was like a role playing game where you start out small, perhaps gathering herbs for a master wizard, then you work your way up learning and growing, before you know it your out in the wilderness battling powerful sorcerers as a level 12 mage guild master. I fear that the real world is not at all like the inside of my head. Out there, you don't just have to do piddly little shit for the boss before moving up to bigger things, you have to pretend that the piddly little shit is the most important thing under God's creation and the point of your existence in it. I just want to be Charles Ingels from Little House On The Prarie: work hard and have a ferocious head of hair.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Summer is Getting Thick

Outside earlier, two bees buzzed past my face. They were mating. It was the first time I've seen mating bees. I think I'll spend the rest of the summer watching for amorous birds--that would really be impressive.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Blueberry Pancakes

A society needs it's citizens to be skilled in many trades in order to thrive. We need metal workers, woodworkers, builders, farmers, shoemakers, warriors, merchants, scientist, teachers, etc. It seems to me that sign wavers, those poor kids that dance on the street corner waving Quizno Sub Sandwich signs, are just being made fun of. For the life of me I can't understand how humiliating an awkward teenager in plane view of passing traffic is going to bring in business, or how society possibly benefits.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Where Errands Meet

I decided, as day cooled into evening, that I should probably leave the house after spending the entire afternoon on the couch re-re-reading The Lord of the Rings. This passage was going through my head as I stepped off the porch:

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

And so I headed down to Boulevard Park to see what adventures I could get into. The railroad tracks looked like as good a path as any and so I followed them--trees on my right and the bay on my left, the sun was over the water preparing for breakfast in Asia I guess.

At the park I found a good stone and, laying in the grass, rested my head against it facing the setting sun. I brought my book with me and for a while I wandered off to Middle Earth and battled Caradhras, the spirit of the mountain. Then out of the corner of my eye a man appeared, forcing me to deal with regular ol' earth. He appeared at first glance to be a hard fellow with tattoos covering his arms and a pair of biker glasses covering his eyes. He made me uncomfortable at first, invading my space as he was. I nodded politely and then put my face quickly back into the book hoping to avoid long conversation. He pulled out a guitar and asked if I would mind if he played a little. No, that would be fine, who can refuse free music!? He plucked away, nothing spectacular but it made me happy. I put my book down and enjoyed his music quietly.

There was a family reunion or some such gathering in the middle of the park and two old men from the bbq wandered over near the water, near this man playing guitar and with me, silently listened. This man, who I had taken at first to be hard was obviously very kind and offered the old men his seat. They thanked him but continued to stand. The younger of the two, probably in his sixties, was holding up the older man who was swaying with old age. "This is my father. He is ninety three years old. He loves the guitar." The 93 year old said yes, he loved music and when his fingers weren't so stiff, he loves playin' the banjo. The tattooed man's eyes lit up from behind his glasses and he begged the old man to play a song with his guitar. The old man took the guitar with some trepidation and the two men held his arms and placed him, sitting, on the rock. The ancient man warmed up and played a lick or two of some old time country music.

What a treat to hear such an old timer play a forgotten tune!

Father and son limped away after the song was through and tattoo man and I got into that conversation I was initially trying to avoid. I've heard that we should always be kind to people, that we never know when we may be entertaining angels. This tattooed man, with the bright eyes behind those dark glasses, might have been an angel for all I know.