Friday, August 31, 2007

Event: Once Again, Jeff Danziger is Here to Save the Day.


I have to say, having been busy lately watching episodes of Rome, I really think that this panel does the severed head justice.

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Gloamane 7, 30.

- Ditto yesterday. Saw Rome.

Two captains will sink the ship.


What smells good?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Body: Bizarre Delusions.

Bizarre delusions are false beliefs whose contents are absurd and have no possible basis in fact. An example is a man who believed that when his adenoids were removed in childhood, a box with wires was placed in his head so that the voice he heard was that of the governor.

Doctor, Ronald M., and Ada P. Kahn. "delusions (types)." The Encyclopedia of Phobias, Fears, and Anxieties, Second Edition. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2000. Facts On File, Inc. Health Reference Center. .

A totally implausible idea or belief that is idiosyncratic and would not be believed as true by anyone. For example, a psychotic individual may believe that singer Diana Ross is the "Antichrist" or that singer Madonna is the biblical "Whore of Babylon."

Noll, Richard. "bizarre delusions." The Encyclopedia of Schizophrenia and Other Psychotic Disorders, Second Edition. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2001. Facts On File, Inc. Health Reference Center. .

For example, a psychotic individual may believe that the expression on television newsman Dan Rather's face is a secret message that is intended just for that person.

Noll, Richard. "delusions of reference." The Encyclopedia of Schizophrenia and Other Psychotic Disorders, Second Edition. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2001. Facts On File, Inc. Health Reference Center. .

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Concept: Is Trans-Postmodernism the next "Big Thing"?

This month I'm returning to Baz Luhrman's Red Curtain Trilogy as my original inspiration for Gothic Funk. But I'm really thinking about developing a more proximal and intuitive definition, a clearer sense of to what extent we need to relate justify the project critically, and to decisively differentiate our efforts from what has come before.
Anyway, examples of "gothic funk" have been easy to find in the last few years – Epistle #1 argues this – and occasionally in conversation we have resorted to a specialized (if somewhat improvised) vocabulary to deal with concepts.

For me, the most important example of this occurred in 2006 as part of the discussion that produced the Conversational Manifesto. We referred to the "big thing" as the larger, possibly global, perspective that included and exceeded Gothic Funk (and gothic funk). Gothic Funk, in fact, is simply one possible articulation of the "big thing."

It is interesting to me that, while we were talking about what is (often derisively) called post-postmodernism we intuitively avoided that label ourselves. And while "big thing" is vague and subjective and applicable to anything – completely wanting except to differentiate a larger framework from Gothic Funk – I'm now starting to think that the choice was significant.

Post-Postmodernism is essentially a Postmodern term, and its use implies an inability to escape from Postmodern conceits. This is literally true in the actual composition of the names: both are defined fundamentally by their relation to Modernism. Not simply a striving for objectivity, but even causality is removed by such a terminology. All that remains is the sequence or chronology of perspectives. What separates Post-postmodernism from Postmodernism? By the name, nothing, except order. Post-postmodernism would be similarly meaningless with respect to presumed successors (Post-post-postmodernism anyone?) and the Pomo taste of the implied infinite regression of these figures should be painfully obvious.

More significantly, however, is that Post-Postmodernism is a teleologically Postmodern term. (Of course Postmodernism is confrontationally "non-teleological," but that contradiction is part of the reason the whole ship won't float.) "Postmodern" as a word gives a special status to Modernism/Modernity as the decisive moment of transformation. Within the critical framework of Postmodernism (and not necessarily its most reductive extremes), Modernism was an endpoint. It represented the moment at which language/art/semiotics, in an extreme effort to obtain objectivity through abstraction, failed to achieve objectivity at all. All movements/perspectives which follow this semantic approach therefore have to absolve themselves of such a quest, or at least any hope of its reasonable fulfillment. Terminologies that embrace the split accept, by default, the most fundamental precept of Postmodernism: the irrelevence and impossibility of objectivity.

This is not indended as (yet another) attempt to rip down Postmodernism. I've done that elsewhere. Rather, I wonder what might be a better term for a movement/perspective that does successfully address the issues raised by Postmodernism. What we have called Gothic Funk so far has certainly included many Postmodern techniques, if not a Postmodern philosophy. Iterative art, self-conscious art, art that incorporates its environment and allusions both elastically and irreverantly all come into play. These tricks are so common in our parties/letters/manifestoes that a clean break (which I do not believe is what we seek) is out of the question.

But the model of naming convention by simple succession is equally out of the question.

A major premise of the Gothic Funk project is that Postmodern dilemmas can be addressed; that there are solutions, even if they are not absolute.

Because this is our understanding of the discussion – the opportunity to move beyond or through issues of negation/subjectivity – I'm inclined to use the term "Trans-Postmodern." At least until someone can rigorously argue in favor of an even more descriptive term. "Trans-Postmodern" is obviously more descriptive than the "big thing." It is also more accurate than "Post-Postmodern" because it presents both a struggle with Postmodern conceits, and (at least the partial) resolution of that struggle.

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Concept: Question of the Day #2.

What do you think of Thomas Hirschhorn and his work?


Gloamane 6, 30.

- Last night I watched Strictly Ballroom for wisdom and Gothic Funk, and exercised, and got a lot done. Although I've only been getting six hours of sleep a night since we got back, I'm still not finishing everything that I want to. Dinner was homemade pizzas, though.

If your corn shucks harder than usual, prepare for a cold winter.

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and Katy.


How do you feel about Baz Luhrman's work?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Diary: August 1997.

I started out by turning nineteen years old, but beyond that, this month is very hazy to me. I slogged through the first drafts for Urbantasm, really not knowing exactly what I was getting myself into (ie. now, a decade later...) Although I'd been developing Urbantasm for a rough year at this point. This all meant that I was in the family room about three or four hours a night typing. It was very slow. It's amazing to me how slow my typing was back then. It would take over an hour to turn over a single double-space page.

Still, a few of those chapters haven't been cut, though their content has changed drastically.

I was also running tech for Flint Youth Theatre's production of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown which was an ecstatically fun production, and so I was spending a lot of the time with the cast/crew: Josh, Angie, Demetrius, etc. etc. The production was over near the end of August, though. Likewise, the "major" event of the summer had been my participation in the Young Playwrights Conference in New York City. It was too soon to be in full gear preparing for college (orientation started on September 17th).

So I guess I'm left with the impression that August was kind of a staying period before and after major events.

I do remember sitting on the front porch and eating chicken salad on warm evening's with my family. I also remember a string of very frustrating guitar lessons. I finally remember spending a Saturday following Brandi (who is Lyn) and Melissa around the Renaissance Festival. But I think that most of these things actually happened in September. I can't say for sure.

Where were you in August, 2007?

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Event: Dot Dot Dot.

Image from mosesfreeman.

To Rome said Nero: "If to smoke you turn
I shall not cease to fiddle while you burn."
To Nero Rome replied: "Pray do your worst,
'Tis my excuse that you were fiddling first."
- Orm Pludge

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Event: And Speaking of Katrina...

... if you need to just swim in it for awhile,

here's a nice piece from Daily Kos with links and articles.

The Flint Journal's take.

The New York Times' take.

Colin and Nora live in the Big Easy.

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Event: If it looks like a rat*...

The New York Times Lede: Leaping to Seantor Craig's Defence.

*By "rat" I mean "hypocritical senator."

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Event: Shout Out.

Alberto Gonzales resigned?
There's political tumult in Turkey and Pakistan?
It's the 2nd Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's assault on New Orleans?

Nevermind! Nevermind!

Hilly Kristal is Dead.

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Gloamane 5, 30.

- Yesterday, the wife and I hung out with Marco and Scott after work.

Today in Weather History: Hurricane Katrina devasted the coastal regions of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. More than 1,800 lives were lost, 2005.

Ingrid Bergman.

"Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what's right."
- Isaac Asimov

Assign a name to your home or house. (From One Day at a Time).

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Diary: Michigan Trip, August 2007.

Last Wednesday, almost a week ago, I left work at 5:30 after crushing through a heavy load of caption updates. I took the train to the bus and the bus to the airport, and I got my ticket and a hot dog and a coffee and waited for the plane. My flight left on time and I read Hughes/Honour on the way, sitting next to a very talkative group of interior decorators heading home from a conference in Connecticut and a family in Tigers' caps and jerseys that had gone to three of four Detroit-Yankees games, the Yankee Stadium tour, and the Cyclones. We landed at eleven something in Romulus and I met Cody and Catherine in the baggage claim, and we drove home through Detroit. Michigan was twenty degrees warmer than New York. We listened to hip hop and a storm broke around Waterford, with lightning arcing down like a claw complete with an opposible thumb. It was a huge storm, but it blew over about the time we reached Flint, and the rest of the ride to Flushing went smoothly. We got in around one, and I sat up and talked with my parents for awhile before we all went to bed. I had a strange and compelling dream.

On Thursday, I got up early, and spent most of the morning book spelunking. Meanwhile, in downtown Flint, a large building collapsed. At 11:30, Catherine and Cody were ready to go to Band Camp, so we drove down to Oxford, which is midway between Lapeer and Pontiac. After I dropped them off at about one, the car was mine. I gassed up and drove back into Flint, making runs on the PHs (not home), the Crawfords (not home), and FYT (sleepy and nearly empty). Dejected, I went to the Atlas for a coney, two eggs and hash browns, and a half-dozen cups of coffee to raise my spirits. Flint is the greatest city in the whole wide world, but almost everyone I know there has moved away, so I often end up getting a little lonely while I'm there. My waitress was superlative, so I borrowed some of her energy and decided to think my way into a solution. I knew that I could find people if I was creative. At a little after four I paid my bill, fired up the radio, and took the Corunna road back toward Downtown. I went to Carriage Town to the Good Beans cafe, where I visited with Ken (who I haven't seen in a couple years). It turns out that he'd sent my wife and I a wedding gift but that it had been mislaid in Chicago because we'd already moved. But things seem to be going as well as can be expected in Carriage Town, and the local theaters have formed a consortium called L.O.F.T. – League of Flint Theatres – for mutual promotion. After exchanging information, I set out to find Lyn. I thought that I remembered what street she lived on, and I thought that I could remember the house. I knew that the street was off Fenton Road. But I didn't know where. After touring the whole stretch from Hemphill almost south to Grand Blanc, I arrived. It was good that it had taken so long; she had just gotten home. We spent the rest of the evening at her house, often on the porch, playing with Z and talking about music and friends. I was grateful. She gave me a lot of hip hop to check out. By eight it was starting to cloud over, though, and I had to pick up my wife from the airport. So I headed south on 23, which swung into 96 before looping into 275. I avoided the swollen storm that was making its way from west to east across Livingston and Oakland counties, got to Metro without incident, picked up the wife, and we made a stop at a Taco Bell populated entirely by emo boys. We called it the 'Emo Bell.' Back on 23, though, north of Brighton, we drove right into a second storm that dropped so much rain that I couldn't see anyone before me or behind me, and would've pulled over if I could've clearly seen where the shoulder stopped and started. When we finally got home, we repeated the process of the night before. Stay up, talk, and finally go to bed.

On Friday, I meant to go to a daily mass for St. Bartholomew. But I slept in. Evil, sinful me. I confirmed plans with Katie (who I'd finally reached after several months of trying), and my wife and I headed out to hit the Goodwill on Pierson Road. The Goodwill on Pierson Road was closed down. That's a real shame, because it always was the very best Goodwill. Instead, we hit the Goodwills on Saginaw and Center Roads. There are a lot of Goodwills in Flint, and our quick, efficient sweep netted several quite-cool shirts I saw at K-Mart back in 2003 but was too broke to afford, and a jacket for the wife. We continued on and picked up Cody and Catherine from Oxford; made it home by a bit after five. It was time to go meet Katie. We drove down to Genesee Valley and just as we were pulling off of Lennon Road, I heard something that I've never heard in New York. Tornado Sirens. There were two tornados in Fenton, which is generally considered to be about the most far flung of Flint's suburbs. Global warming schlobal schorming. Actually we'd left a nadir in the sticky!hot New York summer just to arrive for the most eventful weatherful week in the Midwest, since Chicago also got swamped. The storm held up David and Katie, but while they were waiting for it to blow over, my wife and I sat at the Bar Louis and drank martinis and beers. Then our friends arrived, and we visited with them for an hour, sharing information, talking about Flint and kids, and eating the largest appetizer plate of nachos I've ever imagined (seriously, the thing was as big as my head; easily worth two entrees). After an hour Dave and Katie had to take their kids to Katie's brothers wedding, but I did get to see her mom again, and Lily, who's grown so much that it's truly terrifying to me. Simon, on the other hand, was serious and silent. My wife went to get her hair cut, and we picked me up a pair of jeans and khakis, and a hoodie, because I've always worn Sam's, and it's too big for me.

On Saturday, I'd thought of going to the Crim. But I slept in. Evil, sinful me. Also, for the first day of our visit there was no major storm in Michigan. Which was fortunate, because it was also the day of my mom's party, which was outside. There was some mist and rain early in the day, but it cleared up in the early afternoon. First, I made a trip back to Genesee Valley to find my journal, which I'd left at Steve and Barry's the night before. I couldn't resist the opportunity to get a green tinted watch that caught my eye, and a matching silver watch for my wife, and two gothish rings from Hot Topic. Flint is a cheap place to get yourself blinged out. I got back in time to arrange a blitzkreig reunion with John and Carol Crawford at their house, and the wife and I were at home for good around three. Now all day long (and actually, for several days) my mom had been getting ready for the party this Saturday. It was an all-purpose party of sorts: my birthday, as well as my wife's, my brother's and sister's, my grandma's and aunt's, my sister's new job, my graduation, and my brother's pending graduation. When the weather was clear for good, we set up a tent out back and tables and chairs. We also had a plug-in fountain that Cody-the-engineer upgraded with rocks to be more effective. It all took a while to set up, but Peg came over. The work was manageable, and so we were able to go at a steady pace. Around six my grandma and aunt showed up, and so did family friends from Flushing. We ate salmon and chicken, pasta and couscous, brownies and ice-cream cake and a lot of bruschetta. Eventually, the sun went down, but we had light from Tiki torches and rice lights that Cody and I had put on a tree. It was gorgeous, and there weren't too many bugs; a perfect August evening. Late August. Because August is winding down. After the family friends had left, the rest of us went inside to the living room, and drank coffee, read cards and opened presents (mostly cards). I got a set of dice in a bag that Caitlin hand-knitted, and my Aunt gave me the third season of Taxi. The best part, of course, of these events is always the sitting-and-the-talking, and we managed to hold people awake until almost one.

On Sunday, I was supposed to go to mass, but I slept in too late. I did, however, go to the UU Church with Caitlin to see Cody and Catherine perform, and to touch base with Rita and various other ne'er-do-wells from my ancient past. Evil, sinful me! We took our time at the coffee hour, walked through the memorial garden, and finally got home around one. My wife and I went into Flushing to visit with grandma for awhile, and when we got home, my mom took us with Caitlin to see Hairspray in Birch Run. This was fun. The film was colorful and noisy, and set in Baltimore of all places. Afterwards, we took the back roads home to avoid the traffic on 75, and Cody and Catherine prepared us a three-course British meal. Leek soup, a potato stew (I don't remember what it was called), and berries with cream. Finally, Lisa came over and my wife and I went for a ride with her. We ended up at Angelos and ranged over every subject ever. We got home at 1:30, and Lisa drank some coffee and set out on her way.

Monday was crappy for various reasons. Almost all of them had to do with heading east again. But we said goodbye, and my dad gave us a ride to the airport. When my wife got home from class that night, we ate Indian food from Kinara's and watched our Rome DVDs. Next week, Cody and Catherine will be visiting again.

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Gloamane 4, 30.

Just got back from Michigan yesterday. There's too much to write about here. I'll post a separate entry on the trip.

You can replace 1 egg in 3 with a tablespoon of cornstarch.

New York Times: "A bunch of rats throw the flaming rat from their sinking ship."

What do you like to photograph?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Lauras 33, 30.

- I know I said I wasn't going to post until Monday, but I have a couple of birthday shout outs real quick.

Jen (Saturday) and Barb (Sunday)!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Dada. Da?

Five Years Later...

Wow. They finally admitted it.

THE PRESIDENT:      You know, I've heard this theory about everything was just fine until we arrived, and kind of "we're going to stir up the hornet's nest" theory. It just doesn't hold water, as far as I'm concerned. The terrorists attacked us and killed 3,000 of our citizens before we started the freedom agenda in the Middle East.

Q What did Iraq have to do with that?

THE PRESIDENT: What did Iraq have to do with what?

Q The attack on the World Trade Center?


Isn't that remarkable? The little things that just slip out, inexplicably?

THE PRESIDENT:      except for it's part of --

Here it comes.

THE PRESIDENT:      -- and nobody has ever suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack. Iraq was a --

Excuse me? (Note. A Philadelphia lawyer has just informed me that the word "ordered" is operative here. That way Bush can deny earlier attempts to link bin Laden with Hussein, and then point to a technicality if he's called on it).

THE PRESIDENT:      the lesson of September the 11th is, take threats before they fully materialize

To paraphrase Eminem:

THE PRESIDENT:      Rana Rana Rana Rana Rana Rana Rana Rana Rana Rana Terrorism

And so we're back to more of the same old same old. As a well-known Wall Street Journal editorialist recently opined, with some people "progress is always just beyond the horizon."

And yet, for one tiny moment, didn't that just feel great? That

Q What did Iraq have to do with that?

THE PRESIDENT: What did Iraq have to do with what?

Q The attack on the World Trade Center?


It kind of opens the chest up so you can fill your lungs with air!

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Lauras 32, 30.

- Sorry I haven't been posting much this week. I've been caught between the Rats revision and getting ready for my trip to Michigan. I won't be posting until next Tuesday, when things will be back to normal.

Plant new lawns or reseed thin ones now.

Neighborhoods of Youngstown, Ohio.

What should I put in the gift bags that will make this the most memorable party ever?


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

In August, 1986.

Well, I turned eight.

I'm sure that a lot of things happened in August, 1986, but what I remember almost to the exclusion of everything else was the weekend of my birthday. We celebrated a couple days early because of the trip that weekend involved. I got a camera, and my grandparents came over. I got a picture of my step-grandfather sitting on our new couch in front of a quilt that my mother had knitted years before. After the trip, I would climb a rope ladder to a tree house in our front yard, and sit and read. I still played in the back yard on the swing set, and gradually expanded the radius of bike riding to take in everything between Tuscola and Montclare, Commonwealth and Franklin.

The trip itself:

For my birthday, my dad took me up to the Agowa Canyon Tour Train. We drove through Michigan, past Zilwaukee and over the Mackinac Bridge, over the Soo Locks and into Canada. We stayed in motels and ate pasties in the UP, and stopped at Castle Rock and Mackinac Island on the way back. It was one of the first times I recall feeling more adult. After all, these were great and grave landscapes – cliffs and channels – and there were large distances – time in the car – between them. For the first time, travel itself was exciting, and not just time that had to be tolerated between destinations.

Certainly one of the most significant weekends I remember from my childhood, and one which made me thirsty for more. From that point on, a trip with my dad was almost an annual adventure.

Where were you in August 1986?

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Lauras 31, 30.

- I went to work yesterday, and finished the fifth revision of Hungry Rats. That alone was enough to keep me up until 3 AM.

A compress of decocted witch hazel is cooling to sunburned skin.


"It is impossible to be a mathematician without being a poet in soul."
- Sofia Kovalevskaya

Name one incredibly useful or cool person or organization that readers of this blog are presumably unaware of. It ought to be easier than yesterday's.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Lauras 30, 30.

- What a frustrating week. I got almost nothing done. Although Jess did have a nice visit from Dan, who was in from Seattle, and we got a free meal from Pequena's because they closed after making us wait a half-hour for a table. Quesadillas, soup, chips, rice and beans. It was great. On Saturday, we went to the Tigers vs. Yankees. You'll know how that turned out by now. At any rate, it was a gorgeous day, and I did take a cool picture of Derek Jeter getting out on a fly. I'll try to post it this week. Sunday, of course, was church and hanging with Marco and Scott. Later, Jess and I watched Back to the Future III. I was tired all weekend. I'll have to wake myself up soon. This weekend I'm going to Michigan!

Drink warm lemonade to reduce a fever.

New York Times: Caution Over Shuttle Shows Shift at NASA.

Name one dangerous person or organization that readers of this blog are presumably unaware of.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Lauras 27, 30.

- Was very sleepy all day yesterday. Later, I met Dan at Penn Station (which has the dumbest setup of any depot ever; imagine Union Station x 2, with multiple entrances/exits per track, and no information on arrival track more ten minutes to arrival. It's a miracle we met up at all. We came back to the apartment, where we met my wife, who just finished her final. We hung out a bit, and went out to Pequena's to celebrate. Unfortunately, they decided to close early. Fortunately, they offered us a free meal in exchange. So we went fancy: quesadillas and soup and good stuff. We came home and ate. By the time we were finished, I was so stuffed I couldn't move.

For minor cuts, apply crushed geranium leaves to stop the bleeding.


There's _____, and then there's _____.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Lauras 26, 30.

- Yesterday was better, though I still didn't get enough done.

According to the Greek poet Hesiod (c. 800 B.C.), the 16th is an unlucky day for plants.

The Creation Museum. Prepare to Believe.

Well? Do you "Believe?"

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

CONCEPT: What's a better title?

Notes for Students


White Swan


I should say, it will be:
  • Overtly political.

  • Oh so Gothic Funk.

  • Weird.

What title would you use?


Lauras 25, 30.

- I've had a rough couple of days: insomnia, distraction, lack of productivity. There were some good things too, and I'm going to try to hold on to those. Extricate them from the moment. As for the rest, I will seal it up in a bubble running from Monday afternoon until about two hours ago, and move forward unimpeded.

- The answer to yesterday's QotD is Justin Timberlake, Salt-n-Pepper, and Joe Cocker. With a special preference for Joe Coker. No, this is not a joke.

My husband and I live in Virginia about one hour from the North Carolina border. We are in the process of buying the house we are now renting. Someone who lived in the house before us planted bamboo in the backyard. The bamboo is taking over the yard and the fields beside and behind it. We want to cut it back, but we don't want to burn it if we can find something else to do with it. Do you have any ideas?


What magazines do you enjoy reading?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

EVENT: In which Representative Sali shows himself to know very little about the founders of our country, whom he purports to respect.

Unfortunately, my source is the American Family News.

"We have not only a Hindu prayer being offered in the Senate, we have a Muslim member of the House of Representatives now, Keith Ellison from Minnesota. Those are changes -- and they are not what was envisioned by the Founding Fathers," asserts Sali.

Well this is spectacular. For the 900th time one of our Representatives is talking about the Founders' intentions without having bothered to learn who they were or what they believed. Such luminaries as John Adams and Benjamen Franklin were both Unitarians and surely would have scoffed at the idea that earthly prosperity is somehow meted out in a straightfoward Salian way. Thirteen signers were Freemasons, an organization which is open to both Hindus and Muslims and many other faiths, and has heavily incoporated Islamic tradition and cosmology since its conception. Even the Chrisian majority of the Founding Fathers had a practical and flexible vision of their faith which corresponded with a growing democracy. Conservatives are right to assert that the country was more predominantly Christian at its inception than it is now; they are historically wrong in thinking that the era's Christianity was as rigid and unyielding as their own "faith."

According to Congressman Sali, the only way the U.S. can continue to survive is under that protective hand of God. He states when a Hindu prayer is offered, "that's a different god" and that it "creates problems for the longevity of this country."

The most appropriate question is whether the Founders themselves would have felt comfortable in Sali's congress.

If you like, you can write and ask him yourself.

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Lauras 24, 30.

- Yesterday. Profoundly uneventful. Read a book in Thompkins Square Park. Went home. Drank too much coffee to sleep.

For good luck, always remove the left shoe before the right.

"Dealing with backstabbers, there was one thing I learned. They're only powerful when you got your back turned."
- Marshall Mathers

What music is most likely to make sharks mate? (There is a "correct" answer to this one.)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Concept: Cenci Preshow.

This morning I re-rediscovered the Cenci preshow CD that Travis burned me back in 1/2000. Almost every track plays. In fact, I almost jumped right out of my seat the moment that the trumpet blast from the end of the murder scene came on.

Correction: Screeched into existence again.

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Concept: Countdown.

108 days to the Thanksgiving Post.
115 days to the End-of-November Post.


Diary: August, 1985.

I have no memories from August, 1985 that I trust. I know a bit about what was going on then, though. I was no longer attending Valley School, but my parents were home schooling. I turned seven years old. Field trips at this time consisted of going to the Saginaw and Lansing Zoos and the Impressions 5 museum. I didn't wander too far from home, but I think I was usually allowed to go over to the Teslers', the Lameres', and the Punklins' to play.

But I can't pick out any specific memory and say, "ah, yes, I believe that that is from August, 1985."

Where were you in August, 1985?

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Lauras 23, 30.

- Great weekend!
Friday I went to the Met for the first time. It truly is the hugest museum I've ever been, and I'm pretty sure the FIA could fit in maybe two-third of the Egyptian collection. I've planned on returning, so it was never my intention to take in the whole place. I was there from 11 until 5, and spent the first half of the day in the Ancient Egyption (huge!) and Ancient Near East (much smaller) collections, and the second in the Cycladian, Greek, and Roman collections. This is to go along with my general review of world history this year for Urbantasm (I'm up to about 500 A.D.) I picked up Chinese food on the way home, and then waited up for my wife. When she got back, we had dinner, watched Monk, and I entered a writing contest. Then we went out for drinks with a friend and got home around three.
Saturday was more relaxed, and I spent half of the day reading a friend's novel and revising Hungry Rats. That night, though, some friends and I went out to see Laura Cheadle at a bar by Washington Square Park, and then we walked around the Village. At the bar – The Baggot Inn – I drank the best Budweiser I've ever had. I don't know why, but it tasted different, better.
Sunday I went to church, and got some cleaning and work done at home. Later my wife and Marco and I met at the subway and walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and back. We got home at midnight, the earliest we'd been in all weekend. Obviously I'm pretty tired today.

The best investment is in the tools of one's own trade. - Benjamin Franklin

Alfred Hitchcock.

I've already said it, now I'll say it again:
New York Times: Karl Rove, Top Strategist, Is Leaving the White House.

What would be an awesome name for a movie about plumbers?

Good riddance.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Event: The Emphasis? Emphatic.

One of my perennial complaints against the Democratic Party at large is that they play a defensive game. Not in terms of their foreign policy, but in terms of their political strategy. They are too caught up in number crunching and trying to out-tough the Republicans to actually hold their ground against the Republicans in issues in which progressives have the advantage.

Not wanting to make the same mistake, and to be thereby hypocritical, I'm going to deal with something upfront, possibly over-reacting (after all, it seemed like a blogbomb, and I don't know if the guy's even going to come back and hear about how his comment was received), but at least I can make an articulated case for the political agenda that Blue Skies Falling has promoted from the beginning.

Today, on my post Freedom House Rankings I received the following comment from Chris whose blog is here. His comment ran as follows:

United States gets a top ranking. Yet this country continues to be demonized and called the evil empire. If people spent as much time trying to bring about freedom for others as the amount of time they do hating America, perhaps more people in this world would have a chance to live freer lives as they should.

I wrote the following back:

I don't usually delete comments, Chris, but your point only connects with the post by the barest thread. And your point is vague and generalizing and (most likely) simple Republican sloganeering. Though you can correct me if I'm wrong. And you don't offer any evidence to back your claim up.

Sometimes it's hard not to delete comments, but often it's very easy, becase when you post something as carelessly and hastily written as this, you're only making yourself look foolish.

Then I was worried that I might be sticking my foot down my throat. I went to Chris' blog, and after just a few minutes of scanning I found the following directed against that figurehead of irresponsible revolutionary action, Eddie Vedder:

Eddie seems to be of the All Things Bush Are Bad camp, the very same camp who would say, if they found out that they and Bush liked the same music, they'd say he listens to it the wrong way, the moron. This is the group of people who completely shun a Pro-Democracy In Iraq, Let The Troops Win The War point of view. This is the same group that wants a cowardly exit from Iraq, to let the Freedom Fighters win and for the illegally occupying U.S. troops to leave in shame. Shame! When Eddie brings this into a concert then it ruins it and it's dangerous 'cause it poisons the minds of impressionable listeners. Why should the U.S. pack and leave as quickly as possible? If it could happen in three days, wouldn't that be great, Eddie? Allow Iran to take over Iraq. Allow Iraq to become a Free Zone for al Qaida, to live and thrive and train and plan to kill me... and to kill you... and your family.

Now I don't want to be a total prick. To be fair, Chris does link to a large number of (seemingly) non-partisan charities; they're actually his most prominent links. His blog isn't strictly political, and I do think he's well intentioned. But I have to say that I really hate comments like his. I hate them. They're almost as bad as spam. They involve practically no effort to understand or respond to the subject posted, they offer almost nothing by way of a supportable argument or reasonable alternative, and ultimately, they're disrespectful. If I have the audacity to go onto a conservative blog (and I do sometimes) and send up some vibes against its author and readers, you sure as Hell better expect that I

1) understand the argument they're making and how mine applies,
2) have something worthwhile to say, and
3) say it respectfully.

So I don't feel too bad about calling Chris out today. He's basically just supplying me with straw men anyway. As for his comments, both in response to my post and on his own blog, it doesn't even really take much work.

I'd ask Chris first if he thought that Clinton was unreasonably and prejudicially attacked as a result of the Starr investigation. If he doesn't think so, then I think it's easy to prove a level of hypocrisy, since Clinton's tribulations were essentially confined to titillating scandal, whereas Bush has largely subverted the rule of law governing the Executive Branch. After all, Clinton didn't override judicial restraints on wiretaps, didn't flout congressional oversight, and he certainly didn't legalize torture. Which all ought to make Bush problematic to Chris, since he cares about the freedom and civil liberties of Iraqis.

With regards to people "hating America" (and I can only assume that Chris means his fellow Americans' "hate" for America) and the absurd argument supplied for staying in Iraq, I'm going to post, in its entirety, a speech Barack Obama had the foresight to write back in October, 2002. And no, I'm not saying this as a diehard Obama supporter. I haven't haven't decided yet who I support; I have reservations with all of our (nevertheless inordinately qualified (relative to Republican options)) Democratic candidates. Regardless, it's impressive that Obama could say in 2002 what some people are having a difficult time admitting today.

Good afternoon. Let me begin by saying that although this has been billed as an anti-war rally, I stand before you as someone who is not opposed to war in all circumstances. The Civil War was one of the bloodiest in history, and yet it was only through the crucible of the sword, the sacrifice of multitudes, that we could begin to perfect this union, and drive the scourge of slavery from our soil. I don't oppose all wars.

My grandfather signed up for a war the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, fought in Patton's army. He saw the dead and dying across the fields of Europe; he heard the stories of fellow troops who first entered Auschwitz and Treblinka. He fought in the name of a larger freedom, part of that arsenal of democracy that triumphed over evil, and he did not fight in vain. I don't oppose all wars.

After September 11th, after witnessing the carnage and destruction, the dust and the tears, I supported this administration's pledge to hunt down and root out those who would slaughter innocents in the name of intolerance, and I would willingly take up arms myself to prevent such tragedy from happening again. I don't oppose all wars. And I know that in this crowd today, there is no shortage of patriots, or of patriotism.

What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.

What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income - to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression. That's what I'm opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics. Now let me be clear - I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity. He's a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.

But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history. I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the middle east, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of Al Qaeda. I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars.

So for those of us who seek a more just and secure world for our children, let us send a clear message to the President today. You want a fight, President Bush? Let's finish the fight with Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, through effective, coordinated intelligence, and a shutting down of the financial networks that support terrorism, and a homeland security program that involves more than color-coded warnings. You want a fight, President Bush?

Let's fight to make sure that the UN inspectors can do their work, and that we vigorously enforce a non-proliferation treaty, and that former enemies and current allies like Russia safeguard and ultimately eliminate their stores of nuclear material, and that nations like Pakistan and India never use the terrible weapons already in their possession, and that the arms merchants in our own country stop feeding the countless wars that rage across the globe. You want a fight, President Bush?

Let's fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells. You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to wean ourselves off Middle East oil, through an energy policy that doesn't simply serve the interests of Exxon and Mobil. Those are the battles that we need to fight. Those are the battles that we willingly join. The battles against ignorance and intolerance. Corruption and greed. Poverty and despair. The consequences of war are dire, the sacrifices immeasurable. We may have occasion in our lifetime to once again rise up in defense of our freedom, and pay the wages of war.

The consequences of war are dire, the sacrifices immeasurable. We may have occasion in our lifetime to once again rise up in defense of our freedom, and pay the wages of war. But we ought not -- we will not -- travel down that hellish path blindly. Nor should we allow those who would march off and pay the ultimate sacrifice, who would prove the full measure of devotion with their blood, to make such an awful sacrifice in vain.

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Concept: Exploring the South Bronx.

I had my camera, but since I mostly just take street shots anyway, and there are plenty online (for example, through the Bridge and Tunnel Club, I've tried just to walk and take in the scenery. I started out at Yankee Stadium, since the main reason I'd come up here was to exchange last years rained-out Tigers tickets for this years hopefully-sunny Tigers tickets.

I didn't get to see as much of the Bronx as I wanted; my original plan was to follow 161st street to Southern Blvd., take that north and poke around Crotona Park, then follow Third or Boston back to Melrose. But the Bronx is a bit more complicated than Manhattan, and after following 161st for almost two miles, I though I had passed Southern, and turned around and headed back. Most of what I saw on this stretch was, as I understand it, the boundary between Melrose and Morrisania.

The South Bronx was more hilly and craggy than what I've seen of the other burroughs, and this area was split between government buildings (to the west) and public housing (to the east), with some residential and commercial strips intersperced. It was very mysterious... probably a lot like historic parts of Detroit or Chicago where the urban wash has overpowered the gloss we're used to finding in historical plaques. This area developed very quickly in the 1930s, and then declined just as rapidly, and the Bronx has had the most troubled reputation of any of the burroughs. That said, the South Bronx specifically, was where hip hop was born (known by me in the form of Kurtis Blow and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five), and we all know what a driving cultural force that has become.

When I'd gotten back to Grand Concourse, which was just as grandiose as anything in Brooklyn or Manhattan, but on a more intimate scale, I continued onto Jerome street, where I found a tall serpentlike stairway climbing to some apartment buildings above.

I counted about 130 steps. There was a nice view up top.

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Lauras 20, 30.

- Yesterday was a pretty great day. The only down moment was that I've been having bad dreams pretty much every night this week. However, work went well, and afterwards I took the train up to the Bronx to procure tickets for Tigers v. Yankees. I was successful. Having never spent much time in the Bronx (and running out of time in which to do so) I decided to do some exploring.

Finally, I sat down in a Burger King in a beautiful, one story building on Grand Concourse and spent most of the evening there reading through the end of the sixth chapter of The Visual Arts: A History by Hugh Honour and John Fleming. While I know as little about visual art as anything, this is one of my favorite textbooks of all time. The best thing about it are the number of photos and illustrations, and the authors really have a gift for making careful, nuanced observations about visual effect that never would occur to me examining something alone. So far I've read the first 260 pages, which is a bit of an accomplishment, since the book is huge and the text is tiny. This has surveyed art from Paleolithic times through the worldwide migration disturbances of 500-1000 A.D., which should put me in a good place today, when I'll hit the Met for the first time.

At about seven, I got on the B train, and made it home by about eight. I had a nice evening at home with my wife and Mr. Monk.

Fine weather on St. Lawrence Day indicates a good autumn.

The Gambia.

So tell me what you want what you really really want.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Meandering thoughts this Thursday morning.

One of the major reasons I ultimately left the Unitarian Church was because its defined search for truth was so unfocused that it didn't offer me much by way of spiritual nourishment.

That said, looking back at the changes in religion and religious organization over the last millennium, and then considering the present and future, I wonder what changes are ahead. Straightforward syncretism is rarely fruitful. There has to be tension involved (ie. a questing) involved in building any religion with cultural staying power. Religious progress always seems to happen in the context of a struggle to articulate something intangible and difficult, and to reconcile it with different classes, regions, and world views. Formulaic syncretism neither benefits from nor adequately confronts these complexities; it simply aligns correspondant tropes and concepts and equates them with each other. Since this does not force a spiritual reckoning, neither does it engender a fertile field of religious contemplation or inquiry.

I think, however, that religious syncretism has a role to play in the future. I've been struck recently by certain similarities and differences between Buddhism and Christianity as expansive "missionary" religions. By way of similarities, both sprang from ancient, ethnically defined religions, achieved dramatic success far from home, and proved as durable and elastic as their predecessors. Among interesting differences, and those which to me suggest the most fruitful syncretic possibilities, are not overlaps, but in fact points of difference in their resort to elaboration and austerity. For example, in theravada Buddhism, the Buddha abjures any claim to godhood or messianism, defining his precepts as a moral code and an approach to enlightenment. As against this, Christianity, which is epistemologically explicit, could possibly benefit from the very nuanced, and in some ways very different, Buddhist understanding of humility and obligation.

But this is all I can say about this without learning much much more.

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Lauras 19, 30.

- For eventfulness, nothing today is going to top yesterday, so I'm not going to bother trying.

Drape netting over ripening blueberries, help so that the kidnaped birds won't make away with the almanac factory entire crop.

Dayne Walling for Mayor of Flint.

What modern convenience would you be willing to give up for all time?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Concept: Occlusion Neighborhood, Part 1.

If you run a Google search on "occlusion neighborhood" there are actually two results, facsimiles of each others.

They are as follows:

Buyers shifting to a strange infinite metropolitan area may cleanly be doubts really confused over morose the best area decelerate to live Cunard in electricity , unless there is falls a desirable and reasonably priced occlusion neighborhood near their archangel place of work.

A "desirable and reasonably priced occlusion neighborhoods near their archangel place of work." I like that.

I Googled this today, 8/8/2007.

On 12/18/2006 I attempted to define for the GoFuShiLi what exactly an "occlusion neighborhood" is. I described it as follows:

1. 'Tis GhEtTo.
2. Weird mixture of 1920s and 1950s housing stock. Ranches and
wood-frame things.
3. Geographically isolated. Physically by lakes, rivers, train
tracks, expressways, and in combination when possible.
4. Not generally known by people. Tucked away.
5. Only acknowledged in the news *ever* due to crime, though there is
very likely good music here it will never get the credit it deserves.
6. Bright colors... either in the form of murals, lawn decor, gardens,
graffiti, or whatever. Again, in combination when possible.
7. Lots and lots of trees. Seems on the verge of being retaken by nature.
8. Not close to city limits. Buried somewhere well within the boundary lines.
9. Scores of abandoned buildings. Parks are a little loopy.
10. Feels spooky, enchanting, sugar sweet, and a little like winter.

I should have added, for the benefit of the morose, that it is just as likely to be near your work with the archangels.

Do you know of any Occlusion Neighborhoods?

I'm always trying to find them, but by their nature, little is written about them.

I'm listening to Plainsong by The Cure.

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Event: It will be Dayne Walling against Don Williamson.

Some big news here. The Flint Journal writes of yesterday's primary: Williamson vs. Walling: Newcomer shows mayor is vulnerable.

With 12% of the population voting, incumbent Don Williamson took the plurality. However two thirds of the votes were divided among his six challengers. As some predicted, Dayne Walling handily walked off with the challenger's spot, taking 23% of the vote.

In fact, after the decisive tally was completed, mayoral candidate Norm Bryant drove to Walling's HQ at Luigi's Restaurant to formally endorse him. Even if Bryant's votes went to Walling, and all of the other challengers' votes went to Williamson (an unlikely situation, since it was pretty much a pile-on upon the sitting mayor), the challenger would win in a general election of the same distribution.

The wild cards, of course, are in whether the greater turnout of a general election would affect this distribution, and whether Williamson's better funding will make a critical difference.

I'm planning to use this blog to support the Walling campaign, though strictly in an independent capacity. Williamson hasn't been completely ineffective as a mayor, but he's cost the city millions of dollars in expired federal grants. He has been able to paint over graffiti and pave the roads. Still, given the lack of more substantial progress due to his perpetual stalemate with the city council as well as state and federal agencies, he has not earned a second term. On top of this, his autocratic style and high-flown pronouncements are particularly damaging to a city struggling towards innovative solutions and expediencies. These are remedies that can only come about in the context of a vigorous, open dialogue and with the cooperation and oversight of many levels of government.

Dayne Walling may not have the grit between his teeth we expect from a "typical Flint mayor". Maybe we somehow associate GM layoffs with his equally young and well-coiffed predecessor, Matthew Collier. Maybe he seems too new to the scene. Maybe there is something to the suspicion that navigating Americorps is not the same as surviving a political scene so bloodied and angry that it makes Chicago seem tame.

And yet, Walling's background is not of incidental importance. If there is one strand we can draw between his Americorps work and the photos with President Clinton, his association with D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams and his writing for The Uncommon Sense, it is an impulse toward public service and an understanding of political realities. As I've been saying for years, this is, in fact, precisely the combination Flint needs in any effective mayor. It is a combination from which Flint has not recently benefitted, with the possible exception of the sadly trunchated term of Interim Mayor Darnell Earley in 2002.

So I'm officially putting my support behind the Dayne Walling candidacy.

I support it emphatically.

It's worth mentioning from time to time, but I don't live in Flint anymore. I love my hometown, and follow the news there weekly. If I think I have something worthwhile to say about local politics, it's my right and privilege to say it. I won't apologize about posting, even if I end up posting from Pitcairn Island. However, I've gotten comments from Flint residents from time to time, and I always hope to receive more. I ask and encourage Flint locals to either comment on these posts, of if you'd like to approach me about posting something you wrote yourself, I can be contacted here.

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Concept: Proposed: Notes for Students.

PROJECT NAME: Notes for Students

GROUP: Third Family.
FORMAT: Prose Novel.
STRUCTURE: Cups, Part I, Part II, Part III, Platter

ANTECEDENTS: William Burroughs (writer), Italo Calvino (writer), Anne Carson (writer), Cicero (writer), The Cure (band), Depeche Mode (band), Ladytron (band), Orbital (band), Smashing Pumpkins (band), Underworld (band).

CONCEPT: Still largely undefined as of 8/7/2007.
The novel is presented as a series of guides and advice columns recommending methods of study, exploration, experimentation, seduction, and abduction. As case studies, it follows a collection of students (of wide-ranging ages) through their first semester of enrollment at various schools in the neighborhood of West Wickersburg in an anonymous big city.

This project will attempt to address three abstract objectives.
First, to embody as completely as possible the themes and strategies of the Gothic Funk aesthetic. This is specifically a "practice round" for the next revision of Urbantasm.
Second, to push myself toward a greater prosodic experimentation than I've attempted before.
Third, to evoke the essence and appeal of the (inherently?) solipsistic student's life.

SCHEDULE: Draft during 9-10/2007.

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Event: We have plenty to spare; we should give to the needy.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I want to direct you once more to Gemma's political project Balls to Congress. The site has run into some difficulties recently, and this is the perfect time to help. I recommend this service becaue, politically opinionated as we all are, this is a convenient way to be witty and noisy about it.

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Lauras 18, 30.

- Did I know I was in for a rough day when I was woken at 5 AM by the sound of thunder and a torrential downpour? No. Did I know I was in for a rough day when a news reporter at 6 AM explained that radar had picked up a tornado over Staten Island moving toward Brooklyn? No. Did I know that I was in for a rough day at about 8 AM when I heard that all of the subways were flooded out sounth of Canal Street, affecting enough lines to make one hell of a Scrabble combination? No. No, I knew I was in for a rough day at 7 AM, when I was halfway into a bowl of cereal, looked down, and noticed about six little bugs floating in the milk. This has happened to me twice in my life, and oddly enough, it's always happened with Raisin Bran.

Today in weather history: Michigan received 6 inches of snow and slush, 1882.

Amber, and Kennedy too.

The tornado in its natural habitat.

When was the last time you felt filled with visceral and vivid revulsion?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Event: Imagine...

... that some computer was making a note of the fact that you were, today, visiting this blog. That note was archived, backed up, made subject to keyword search. This record of your visit will be available, without your knowledge or consent, to people you don't know, at any given moment, and finally for years to come.

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Event: Freedom House Rankings

The Freedom House has ranked nations as 'Free,' 'Partly Free,' and 'Not Free' according to their measure of political freedom and civil liberty. They are nonprofit and nonpartisan, but the Wikipedia article does note that there is a steady coming-and-going of U.S. government officials within their organization. What do you think?

Here are their 2006 lists. Any surprises?


Andorra, Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus (Greek), Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guyana, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kiribati, Latvia, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Monaco, Mongolia, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Palau, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Serbia, Serbia & Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & Grenadines, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Trinidad & Tobago, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Vanuatu.

Partly Free

Albania, Armenia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Colombia, Comoros, Djibouti, East Timor, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, The, Georgia, Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Honduras, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritania, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Philippines, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Tonga, Turkey, Uganda, Venezuela, Yemen, Zambia.

Not Free

Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bhutan, Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Cameroon, Chad, China, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Kinshasa), Cote d'Ivorie, Cuba, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Guinea, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Laos, Libya, Maldives, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Zimbabwe.

Oh, yeah. Here's what they say about the United States.

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Lauras 17, 30.

- Spaghetti.

Pull up and compost any plants that have stopped producing or prove disappointing.


"Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe."
- Frank Zappa

So you're in a public restroom at a nice restaurant, you're washing your hands, and the stupid faucet jets a ton of water all over your pants. What do you do?

Monday, August 06, 2007

Event: Flint's many possible mayors.

Evidently people were too belligerent to even have a debate. Which is a shame. This is an important election.

Tomorrow, Flint will select the two mayoral candidates who will face off in November. I'm calling Walling and Williamson.

Anyway, if you live in Flint, you should vote.

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Diary: August, 2004.

Once again I was involved in the Ojai Playwrights Festival, and again I worked as a literary assistant to Director Abigail Deser. This time we were developing Susan Miller's project A Map of Doubt and Rescue. As before, I was immensely impressed by the intensity and density of the work involved. It seemed a like a very pressured process – not in the sense of "high pressure" or "stress," but more like the compression of air in a kettle. It helped that the play itself was involted and complex.

I spent a lot of time with the intern students that week – Hallie was very busy – and Scott, Claire, and all of the others were a lot of fun. It was kind of nostalgic, too, since they were going through the same processes as I had in 1996 and 1997: college preparations and extracurricular mayhem. Of course, the landscape of Ojai itself is rich in poetry. One night I went on a solo nightwalk out into the brush. The stars were very bright, and the mountains were bulbous lumps on the horizon, but I was only out for maybe a half-hour before the howling of the coyotes chased me back. Another night, one of the technicians (from Seattle) took Scott and I out for a morning walk into the mountains. We walked for maybe three hours and must have climbed over a thousand feet. As with all mountains, they are much larger than they look from a distance.

After the Conference was over, Hallie and I drove back to L.A. and stayed with her friend in East L.A. The next morning they drove me down to Hollywood and took me to lunch before dropping me off for a day of traditional tourism. It was actually a blast, and Hollywood was much richer in character and poorer in glitz than I had expected. I wouldn't mind living there at some point, actually. I hiked Runyon Canyon and then took the subway to LAX and flew home.

The middle part of the month is a bit of a haze. Before moving to California, I'd finished up the most backbreaking (and soulsucking) assignment I'd ever worked for Advanced Resources. The Nocturnal had finally flamed out and I was starting to receive a surge of hate email in connection with a context page I'd posted for my play Canaryville Blues. This really depressed me, and I wasn't thrilled to be back in Chicago.

Fortunately, most of these frustrating things were behind me. I had a lovely afternoon when I went downtown with Lisa and my fiancee to watch OutFoxed and then we returned to Hyde Park and spent many more hours at the Medici. There is no coffee like Medici coffee, and those who think it is awful are dead wrong. That is all. Actually, I think we went to the Med and then the movie, then we walked through Millennium park.

Just a week after this, my fiancee was getting ready to graduate. Her family and mine came down for the ceremony, and the night before, her dad took a walk with her and I through Millennium Park (again). The next day, after the ceremony, we ate (again) at the Med. I had a chance to stay at a hotel in Hyde Park that I foolishly passed up for a ride back to my non-air-conditioned apartment in McKinley Park.

Just a day later, I had a housecooling party at my McKinley Park apartment. Colin and Nora came, as Hallie and my fiancee, my neighbors Ed and Carmen, and my to-be-roommate, Sam, who had recently graduated from Northern Michigan. We drank beer and played party games (Werewolf and Taboo) and eventually, everyone left but Sam.

The last few days of the month were sticky and sweaty and Sam and I scouted out and leased the perfect perfect bachelor pad in Edgewater Beach. Eighth floor ghetto concrete penthouse suite. But it had carpet. Cockroaches, but the sweet smell of roach poison. Tamales sold on the street, the beach less than a block away. It was hot hot hot that week. We spent days applying for every menial and half-romantic job across downtown and the North Side, and evenings schlepping carloads of my stuff from the South Side to the North. Sam got a job first, of course. He had more self-confidence, and I was holding out for better pay and a more regular schedule. Still, on our first night in Edgewater Beach, we played Worms on the computers in the dark (to keep cool) and we listened to kids throwing bottles on the street below. It was the official beginning of one of the Greatest Years Ever So Far.

Where were you in August 2004?

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Lauras 16, 30.

- This past weekend was all different kinds of visiting, with Cody and Catherine staying with us from Monday until Thursday. On Thursday night, there was a date to a restaurant, on Friday, a party, after a day of boinking around the village. I bought a book on medieval history at the Strand and the Red Curtain Trilogy boxed set at Virgin. Then I went to News Bar and read about art for a couple hours. At the party that night, more people fit into our tiny apartment then has ever happened before. Mojitos were consumed. So were nachos and burritos. On Saturday we met with Marco and Scott for some role-playing set in Roman Syracuse during the reign of Caligula. Then we went for a walk and saw Ratatouille, which was simply tremendously fun. We got ice cream on the long walk home. On Sunday I went to church and met up with Marco and Scott again. Then Barb and Leila. Then home to do dishes and boil cabbage. And today, here we are. Officially married for two years!

If a young woman dreams of macaroni, a stranger will enter her life.

New York Times: Patriarch Teoctist, 92, Romanian Who Held Out Hand to John Paul II, Dies.

What is the shape of the key to your heart?

Friday, August 03, 2007

Lauras 13, 30.

- Yesterday I was at work until three, but that doesn't mean I got any work done during the day. I met Jess after her class and took her out to dinner at the New Orleans Restaurant on Fulton Avenue. Then we had a lovely walk home.

Soak broccoli in cold water to drown (and sink) cabbage loopers.

Yotam, and me! (I am now twenty-nine years old.)


How often do you change your shoelaces?

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Body: A haunted castle

Lauras 12, 30.

- Stayed in last night and watched YouTubes and YTMNDs with Cody and Catherine.

What is it that goes when a wagon goes, stops when a wagon stops, is of no use to the wagon, and yet the wagon cannot go without it?


- LINK OF THE WEEK - Pretend you're buying a house?

Name a song that makes you reliably sad or wistful.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Event: :(

Event: Get the Balance Right.

by Depeche Mode:

There's more besides joyrides,
Bumblebee from Transformers.

a little house in the countryside.
Daily Kos: Wishing for Good, Accepting the Truth.

Understand, learn to demand,
Daily Freeman: Hinchey calls for Bush, Cheney to be Censured.

compromise, sometimes lie.
Daily Kos: Signed, Sealed, & Delivered.


Get the balance right.
New York Times: Violence Rages in Iraq as Sunni Bloc Leaves Cabinet.


Be responsible, respectable,
The Detroit Free Press: Detroit named No. 1 sports city.

Stable but gullible
The Economist: Kazakhstan turns the screw.

Concerned and caring, help the helpless
The Flint Journal: Resource Center's Sybyl Atwood dies at 72.

But always remain ultimately selfish
Andrew Heller: And so goeth the story all over again.


Get the balance right.
MSNBC: Mr. Mayor vs. Mr. Moore.


You think you've got a hold of it all.
The Detroit Free Press: GM sales down, but improves on retail side.

You haven't got a hold at all.
Daily Kos: Just Like Kansas.

When you reach the top, get ready to drop. Bush Approval from 1/1/2005 through 07/18/2007.

Prepare yourself for the fall.
The Onion: There's No Such Thing as Bad Publicity.

You're gonna fall
New York Times: Stocks Are Flat After Sell-Offs in Asia and Europe.

It's almost predictable.
Project Censored Media: The Media Can Legally Lie.


Don't take this way. Don't take that way.
Emperor Valens' legacy.

Straight down the middle until next Thursday.
The Democratic Party.

Push to the left, back to the right.
Daily Kos: Media Narrative: The Mainstream Is Now "The Left".

Twist and turn til you've got it right.
The Economist: China's Chicago.


Get the balance right

Every week is epic.

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Lauras 11, 30.

- Yesterday I met up with Cody and Catherine after work and we went to the Lower East Side for New York style pizza. We discussed painting the town red, how long it would take, and how much paint, and whether people would complain, or interpret it as communistic.

Observe on what day in August the first heavy fog occurs, and expect a hard frost on the same day in October.

The maps at the High Resolution Periodical Atlas of Europe including this map of Europe in 500 AD.

The year is 500 AD. Rome has recently fallen "for good" (to the Ostrogoths). Where on that map would you want to live?