of Yesteryear

If you want to comment, then you can contact me. I will post comments to the journal as soon as possible, unless you ask me not to share them.

This is for all those journal entries I made that are kind of complete, and sort of worthy of keeping, but have no real way of being rewritten besides as another journal article. I am reposting them here, roughly by topic, just for keepsakes. Not many should show up here, hopefully less than a couple dozen when it is all said and done, but this gives me a way of sorting them. When phrases or wording were just too topical to the time of their original posting, I edited them to make them more general.

By Topic


(dickens of a blog).Old School Racism.

I am a fan of the turn of the century (aka the written bastard children of Victorian sensibilities and 20th century expansiveness) adventure novels. Stuff written by Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Bram Stoker, Gaston Leroux. You know the type. Even when it is smart, as Sherlock Holmes stories were (at times), it is still an old school comic books at best. Characters are shallow. The adventure is fun. The writing is carefree. It is all about reaching that inner child that you have that wants to climb some mountain, solve some impossible crime, or fly to the moon.

The problem with such novels, like my current read -- Bram Stoker's Lair of the White Worm -- is how casual racism shows up. The racism of the 1950s (United States) is characterized by a sense of great hatred. This is how American's are taught the face of racism now.

But that is not all. Racism used to be a whole lot more casual, as reading the above type of romances show (many novels simply did not mention people who were not white). Racism was not so much a way of thinking, as an assumed truth for many. Black characters are almost always hideous, deformed, yellow-eyed, slinky. They use strange African poisons, and are incapable of higher emotions besides lust, vanity and hatred. They worship strange objects on a whim, attach to some master (whom they show no real loyalty towards) and corrupt said white master or indicate moral decay in the master, and scare the ladies. I am sure a few honestly good Africans show up in these romances, but I have yet to see them. Those that are good are only so because the story has yet to show how really bad they are (and this almost always happens).

The thing possibly most disturbing is the fact that so many of the authors would write about it without bringing any real attention to it. The word "nigger" just shows up on the lips of all sorts of people. If blacks are treated good, it seems that it is only to show how the hero is above treating anyone (or any animal, as the flavor goes) like trash. The assumption is generally that the negro is trash, but the hero is forgiving in the soul. As I have said elsewhere, you can only truly buy their heroism in such cases if you buy into the world view of the African as a slightly raised-up ape.

Don't get me wrong. I have no intention of censoring this older works. Neither do I buy into their world view. Part of the reason to read such things is that they help you to get inside the mind of a different time. But still, you have to take a break from it sometimes.

It just seems sad to me how, only a century ago, racism was even worse than it is now. The soul was a factor of skin color, and many descendants of the British Isle so no reason why this should not be precisely how it was.

(dickens of a blog). Why Stephenson and Pychon Make Sense.

Sometimes it can be frustrating to look up information on your favorite writer and find that movie stars can have volumes dedicated to them, while novelist sometimes have less than a postage stamp. This can be caused by a number of factors, but in the cases of Thomas Pynchon (writer of such works as Gravity's Rainbow) and Neal Stephenson (probably best known for Snowcrash but Cryptonomicon is better), it is a personal choice. Both of them are pretty strict about not wanting to be in the public spotlight.

And who can blame them? America, and Europe, and South America, and so on are all becoming scarily celeb-obsessed. A washed up pop singer shaves her head and fills dinner conversations for weeks. Princess Di, chased by reporters, become fodder for news after her death. How many news articles were there over the next six weeks about how the press would go to far to get a story, sometimes with pictures of the crash or gruesome details. There was nary a "irony" tag anywhere in any of them, and that is just sad.

When it comes to writers, celebrity is a different ball game. Six digits in sales is considered more than respectable. Favorite musicians get listened to only a daily basis. Favorite movies get watched weekly. Favorite books usually get read once per year. Concerts are packed with screaming kids. The opening to Pirate Movie Trilogy Event of the Summer will have people in custom. A book reading at a local college will probably have about four hundred, and as many as a fourth of them are there because they feel a sense of duty to be there.

There is a "but" here, and it comes back to something I tell applicants at my bookstore. Books are personal in a way that no other media will ever be (though recent forays into discussions on movies seems to show this tide changing). Only 10,000 people will read some nonfiction book, but it tends to stick with them more. Probably because of the relative low numbers. Assuming the average person reads about one book (of quality) a month, then that only puts something like 600 book in their lifetime. Pulp readers often increase this to one book (of not so good quality) a week, but that still only comes out to about 2500 books. Compared to half a dozen television shows, probably 3-5 movies, and about twenty-fifty distinct songs that was heard in that same week, that single book is going to stand out more.

Chuck Palahniuk is a good example of a writer that builds up die hard fans and die hard detractors. The latter camp insult him as being a "scene kid" without really ever giving him a chance. More scarily, the former camp does things like burns their hand with lye, or carve character names into their arm. Ok, not many. But when you have a couple of fans like that, you don't need many.

It brings to mind the very basic fear involved in Stephen King's Misery, the fan that goes too far.

Most of this was inspired by an article I read this morning, in which Gabriel Garcia Marquez is shown to be exhausted by fans, because this brings up another point. Though book lovers can be a bit overzealous, it does not seem likely we can be that much more intense at meetings. Maybe it has very little to do with the fans, and more to do with the authors.

No matter the cause, I find it somewhat comforting that writers who do not want to be made into a spotlight plaything can avoid such fates. Now, if only Britney Spears could be bald in private.

(dickens of a blog. 10/18/07). The Book Titles of Kate Walker.

I know that romance novels are one of those fields that so many exist that many have to distinguish themselves in some way just to get noticed. I never realized to what degree until I ran a bookstore, and would have women ask questions along the lines of "Do you have books where high class women fall in love with Arabian bandits in the middle ages?"

Or, in a similar thing, "Do you have books where a lower class woman gets wooed by an Arabian prince?"

Historical romance, possibly the biggest single sub-category, has dozens of sub-genres. The biggest divisions I have seen would be American history, which usually looks at a war time scenario or the old west, and European history, which usually looks at something like a class struggle. Both play on the idea of unusually strong women who just need to be more vulnerable.

Something I found was funny was taking a look at the titles of Kate Walker's books, which fit into a category all of their own.

If you go to, and search for Kate Walker, you can see what I am talking about (if that link does not work, then you may have to type in the name and search again).

Her titles often share striking similarities, such as these 9: 1) Sicilian Husband, Blackmailed Bride, 2) The Italian's Forced Bride, 3) Fiancee by Mistake, 4) Wife for a Day, 5) Bound by Blackmail, 6) At the Sheik's Command, 7) The Spaniard's Inconvenient Wife, 8) The Married Mistress, 9) The Hostage Bride

Heh. Note that her books have fans who give them high ratings, so there is nothing bad that I can say about them, really, besides the titles. And there are titles that don't fit into the pattern of "woman married against her will, possibly to a man of darker color". I, of course, skipped those.

Just thought I would share that odd discovery.

(dickens of a blog. 6/2/07). Bradbury Told by Class He Was Wrong about His Own Book.

Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury's best known classic, is not about government censorship. He says it is about a form of self-censorship created when political correctness and addiction to drivel on television push out our love of books.

He has apparently even went so far as to walk out of a discussion in a classroom where he was apparently told by students that he is mistaken, and it really is about government censorship.

Having read the book, I remember it being a whole lot less about the government taking away our right to read and more about people not wanting to read, but I also got a censorship vibe as well. Though the people were against books and wanted them gone, it seems simplistic to divide the world into the "government" and the "people". A popular movement to remove books through government agencies seems to be a form of government censorship, but Bradbury apparently never intended this...or at least never intended for people to assume that government forced it on the people, which it never struck me as implying.

Anyhow, here is the article: Fahrenheit 451 Misinterpreted

Best quote out of the article is from Scott Kaufer, a TV producer/writer: "Television is good for books and has gotten more people to read them simply by promoting them,” via shows like This Week and Nightline. [He hopes Bradbury] will be good enough in hindsight to see that instead of killing off literature, [TV] has given it an entire boost.”

As a somewhat TV-hating bibliophile, I would assume this is BS. TV is another medium that helps to promote up and coming books, but seems to me to focus on a relative small set of political books, books with some controversy, and Oprah reading club books. To say that reading is up, today, especially amongst heavy TV watchers, is probably a complete fabrication. The average adult reads less and less every year, and watches more and more TV, especially if you discount "dime store" novel type books.

I just want to say "good job" to Bradbury for attacking that whole Reality TV thing, though. I still chuckle to think he wrote about it 40-50 years before it boomed.

(livejournal. Feb 26, 2007. 8:57pm). A bookseller has to tell lies about books... I've been reading of George Orwell's experiences as a bookseller. It is humorous, mostly for the way that things have so little changed. I don't agree with everything he says, and not everything seems true any more, but is amazing how so very little of these things have changed.

And just think, this was written over 70 years ago. In another country.

Some quotes that might be readily appreciated:

"When I worked in a second-hand bookshop—so easily pictured, if you don’t work in one, as a kind of paradise where charming old gentlemen browse eternally among calf-bound folios—the thing that chiefly struck me was the rarity of really bookish people."

"You start at a great advantage if you know anything about the insides of books. (Most booksellers don’t. You can get their measure by having a look at the trade papers where they advertise their wants. If you don’t see an ad. for Boswell’s DECLINE AND FALL you are pretty sure to see one for THE MILL ON THE FLOSS by T. S. Eliot.)"

"As a rule a bookshop is horribly cold in winter..."

"Books give off more and nastier dust than any other class of objects yet invented."

"At the mere sight of a nineteenth-century novel people say, ‘Oh, but that’s OLD!’ and shy away immediately. Yet it is always fairly easy to SELL Dickens, just as it is always easy to sell Shakespeare. Dickens is one of those authors whom people are ‘always meaning to’ read..."

"Scarcely half the people who ordered books from us ever came back."

"Modern books for children are rather horrible things, especially when you see them in the mass. Personally I would sooner give a child a copy of Petrenius Arbiter than PETER PAN, but even Barrie seems manly and wholesome compared with some of his later imitators."

(livejournal. Feb 13, 2007. 10:18pm). Pen names. Pen names interest me. I used to be convinced that I would use one myself, but have since dropped the idea. I like my name. And, honestly, let me be known for everything I do, good and bad. Screw hiding underneath aliases and false identities.

One of the things that is more intriguing is why some pen names stick and other don't. Some stick so well that you never realize just how stuck they are. They supplant the person behind the mask.

For instance, we know that Don Stuart was John Campbell. In fact, we rarely even talk about Don Stuart besides as a category: John Campbell's Don Stuart stories.

Richard Bachman will always be quickly linked to Stephen King. "Stephen King, writing as Richard Bachman" adorns many of the Bachman books.

Sam Clemens, though? How about Charles Dodgson? What about Mary Anne Evans? I almost guarantee that even if you have heard of the first one and the second one, you might not know who the third is (well, english majors might, but piff). And most people don't even know Joseph Conrad's "real name", much less would they be able to spell it (I had to copy and paste from Wikipedia, because all I could remember was that it was Polish: Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski)...I put real in quotes since it is obvious to see where it comes from. Heck, most people don't know that Robert Jordan is a fake name, either.

What were the "Bell Brothers" called? Currer, Acton E name. We don't even reference the Bells any more. We skip them straight for the Brontes. George Eliot keeps her masculine name, but the Brontes don't?

Agatha Christie's Mary Westmacott stories are linked back to her name. At least in her case (as in the Dick Francis case, and the JD Robb case), the types are stories are different and that is the main reason. But, in the case of Robb and Christie, much like Bachman, the real name is on the cover.

Pablo Neruda, Moliere, George Orwell. Pen names.

And, for the kicker...Stan Lee.

How about that stuff?


(livejournal. Feb 3, 2007. 1:23am). Let me hop up on my soap box for a minute. Viacom Sues Youtube.

In Overclocked, Cory Doctorow makes a statement which roughly paraphrases as this: we spend too much time worrying about how the internet will "negatively impact viability of media enterprises" and how it will hurt the poor little record companies; and not enough time asking ourselves how can we honestly take advantage of this new medium. I forget his comparison, but it is something like the television versus traditional cinemas. On one hand, TV is the biggest threat to cinemas out there. If media companies had stuck die hard to cinemas, and forced bootleggers and independent labels to use the TV, then you would get something like what you have right now. In that case, media eventually embraced TV, and we had a whole new era that was profitable for all.

Before I continue, I do want to take a point that Doctorow is one of them there hippie communist types (ok, not really, but that's how he is portrayed) when it comes to his writing and art. He tends to make it as free and accessible as he can.

One of the reasons I bring this up is because the news-article above covers Viacom's recent actions against YouTube. One quote really stuck out at me: "Viacom and other traditional media groups are eager to distribute their content to audiences of social networking and user-generated websites, which are wildly popular with young consumers. But they are wary of losing commercial and editorial control." Now, don't let the article confuse you. Commercial was meant to be bolded, underlined, linked back to, and blinking. While editorial is included to make it sound a little more decent, what they are really saying is "We don't want to lose any money and we don't want our copyright to be softenend, which would make us lose more money!"

And that is legitimate, by the way. They invested in it, they should have the right to make money back from it. The problem I am noticing is that they are approaching it way too "traditionally". For them, it is clear cut case of making profits off of shows that include commercials, or DVD boxset sales, and how this being available for free cuts into projected profits.

It is a quarter after one in the morning, and I am way too sleepy to offer a real solution to this issue, but I just wanted to point out this one case in favor if the Cory Doctorow statement. You have companies that are trying to tap into a market, but only if that means they do not have to change how they approach the older market in the least. The Daily Show being on Youtube probably doesn't hurt it's viewership, but Viacom makes it sound like it does. Whatever fan awareness it helps to increase is forgotten in favor of a more black and white, straight cut scenario where a fan watching it on any website but their own is a loss for them.

And that is a recipe for definite failure.

PS: As a bonus series of quotes, I want to include another reason why the old system is getting ready to be supplanted, and that is because the executives behind do not listen to themselves. They rag on YouTube for not monitoring the content closely enough, but when YouTube offered a compromise where any infringement of copyright content is removed just as soon as a company alerts them, they "complain that they have to monitor hundreds of thousands of clips." That's right, YouTube should be able to do it, but it is pointless for other companies to try because there are too many. To simplify and repeat: "Youtube should monitor everything. Why don't we do it? Its too hard!"


(livejournal. April 11, 2007. 1:21am). Rather than privacy settings.

[Note, this one is included because it was the first, and one of the only times, I posted something to my journal in encrypted form. It was a complaint about my pay rate at a previous job.]

I was thinking today of a new way of doing "privacy" settings. Rather than rely on server side authentification of a client, why not do it the old fashioned way: cyphers and cryptography? I figure, about once a week or so, I will play around with it. Maybe post some information on various methods, or maybe just be a jerk and post such things.

Today's "angry rant" is disguised underneath the "solitaire" method. You can do some searching online. Here's a hint, it is mentioned in Cryptomonicon, so if that word pops up on a page then use it. I'll leave it up to you as to which script or algorithm you consider best for you.

You have to have a keyphrase (which I put in all lowercase, in case that makes a difference, which I don't think it does). The keyphrase is the person who wrote this famous bit, which you can solve by normal "cryptogram methods". One of the letters is a "gimme", in that it is the letter that it is expected to be, and that letter happens to be the third letter of the fourth word.


Using that keyphrase (which will be my standard keyphrase for any other "solitaire" posts I make, for now), then use the solitaire algorithm on the following codeblock, and I think it all works:



(livejournal. Jan 1, 2007. 11:03am). Idiocracy. The new Mike Judge movie. You might not have heard of it, because it seems they wanted no one to hear of it. Some have speculated that it was driven into limited run (Wii/PS3 anyone?) to build up hype for the long run. Others have stated that a movie that talks about dumb people being in control might be afeared of hitting too close to home. It was more limited in release than A Scanner Darkly, and exceptionall more limited than ASD in the DVD market (most stores get about one at a time, even bigger stores that I talked to said they were only shipped one).

There are two other theories as to why it was a limited release. The first one, and not necessarily a bad one, is that it probably won't appeal to everyone. In fact, a lot of the people that liked Office Space as the "big screen Dilbert" probably won't like a movie that says "faggy" as about 12% of its punch lines. Rather than have the movie get pushed into wide release, and then dropped off into bargain bins, you keep it light and low and the DVD prices stay generally higher than the costs.

The second of the secondary theories, and one I have having trouble finding any sort of official support of, is the fact that its plot is more or less a rip off of C.M. Kornbluth's "The Marching Morons". TMM is a 1950s short story about how the dumb and poor outbreed the smart and rich, so that hundreds of years, and dozens of generations, for now, the lesser have fully taken over society. A man frozen for years and years wakes up to find a future in which the average person around him is, by his definition, pretty insane. At some points reasonable, and other points horribly elitist, it is still a fun story. Not only are cars built with false speedometers to fake out the drivers into thinking they are going faster; but movies have degenerated into random sex and violence and, thanks to the elite, propaganda films meant to show how horrible children and childbirth are. The lower-folk, though, merely enjoy the savage horror of the propaganda films.

TMM is probably a major inspiration for Robocop as well, with its depiction of a violent, meaningless future. It is generally agreed that TMM's "Would you buy that for a quarter?" being a tagline for a popular show led to "I'd buy THAT for a dollar!"

And, of course, TMM seems to be one of the main inspirations for Futurama.

When you watch Idiocracy it is pretty hard to imagine TMM not coming into play. John Barlow in TMM. Joe Bauers in Idiocracy. Similar breakdowns in society from the exact same cause. The main difference is the ending. In the short story, the Poprob (population problem) leads to a strategy employed by Hitler. In the movie, the ending is a lot more happy. Sort of. Depends on where you stand, I suppose.

The thing is, I am not sure if anyone involved in the release of the movie would have really cared, so I don't know if this is why it is kept limited.

On to a review of the movie. It is good. I would give it a C+. My main complaint about it is the fact that it mocks us for our "bad taste" but relies on the bad taste it mocks to propel 90% of the scenes. If you don't like the fart jokes and the sex jokes, you probably won't like the movie. A good number of american movie use this irony (let's mock something for cheap gags but really let's try and make it seem like we are above that at the end) and it somewhat bugs me at how many people buy into it.

Besides that complaint, it has some wonderful visuals of buildings twined together and mounds of trash, and Costco has to be seen to be believed.

Definitely worth watching a couple of times with friends.

I'm just a little down at the fact that my brother Shawn and his friends are going to rule the future (let's just say that I have had pretty much every conversation featured in this movie, and fear showing it to him because he might take it for a call to start "the revolution" and bring it about). Oh well...


(alt livejournal. May 18, 2005. 11:43). Meander. Dissecting Life.

Epistemologically, we have to deal with the question of distinction very carefully. When does "bookcase" mean a shelf full of books and when does it mean just the shelf? When is a car a car? When is it a collection of parts? A building is a good example, the way that we can easily think of the idea of rooms, doors, windows, and floors and, at the same time, conceive of a building as a whole. The dual distinction of a thing of parts and a thing in whole does not wreck our world with buildings, or any large structure. Smaller structures, like cars, are often divided less. We conceive of a doors, of motors. We think of parts that can be put in, taken out.

But it seems that life is somehow protected. People, too, are a collection of parts. Animals the same. With the exception of maybe plants and the ability to think of a tree with leaves, for instance, we tend to try and think of that person as THAT person, entirely, a thing in whole. This person has internal organs that are removable, limbs that could be cut up, cells that are themelves made up of smaller parts. That person will have even clothes that can be removed, hair that can change. Yet, with all of this, we give that person a name, say "Thomas" and we think of Thomas as somehow rise above these parts, a constituted whole, a bridge to something more.

And say Thomas loses his arm, or worse, his mind. And somehow, even then, we are trying to call that person Thomas, though we can physically demonstrate a difference. Mentally, as well.

There is something in our mind that gestalts life naturally. A reasoning tool. Possibly to keep us sane.

And what effect might this have on the sciences? Will it bear good tidings, or bad?

(alt livejournal. Sep 4, 2004. 2:12pm). In and Out.

Where might art be born? Assuming the answer is not upon the canvas, the page, in the bottle of paint or in the grant supplied by whatever government facility then we can reasonably assume that the artistic piece as a concept is born in the mind of the artist and is transferred from its place as a concept to its place as a mode of reality via the artist body and tools. I will use the term mind of the artist and avoid the words "soul" or "heart" or any such words, though I am not necessarily banning them, here, I am just simplifying down to a single word.

Assuming art, then, to be a construct which at its genesis is somehow locked into the experiences and personality of a person, we have to ask...why might that person chose to do that?

Assume I mean something more than financial gain or commision, right now.

We make a lot of assumptions in our life. I don't really know what is behind my head or what happened 100 years ago. Neither do you. Stop lying to yourself.

Assume that we have to decide a mechanism for this why, a color code to fit the answer? In other words, this cannot simply be "everyone is different". I want to come up with something that seems to fit a whole lot of people at the same time.

And I see two basic reasons. I have been caught up in two basic reasons, myself, anyhow, and most any artist seems to fit these two basic reason. Well, actually, there is something of a third reason...make that a fourth...which I will introduce all them now, previous assumptions not withstanding:

03: For the fun and/or hell of it, perhaps no reason.

04: For economic or some other gain

And the two reasons that seem to be right on:

01: Because they love that object and want to capture it

02: Because they are pained and are wanting to get it out

We will call the first SIEZE and the second RELIEF.

An artist endowed with SIEZE will be able to miracously and wonderfully capture the beauty of something, or at least try. They are by their very nature caught up in the act of replicating...of trying to sustain what they experienced through whatever medium is before them. This is the realm of the great, state speeches. This is the realm of pastoral poetry. This is the realm of the religious fervor. And it is somehow flawed because it is essentially a is an image. It is glass in a desert world, baked by the sun.

It might entertain, it might enlighten, it might make you smile all night...but it is part two to a single showing and it feels as such...dead in its very conception.

Those with RELIEF are those which have something inside them that must come out. This is the apotheosis of the the angsty team, the eternal rebel, the pained liberal crying out for the glory of self and expression. These are the ARTISTS of history, as we know them...these are the ones we mock and we embrace. These are the ones we care to discuss.

There work, too, is replication, but it is a personal one. It fits colors we know. It fits words. It is constrained as we are all constrained to follow rules. But it tries to reach something that was not experienced and it tries us to help us to see what we could experience.

Their children are replications of something previously unseen. We inherently respect that, and are inherently driven from it at the same time. We embrace and discard artists so constantly we essentially must recognize them as part of our reality, our society. They are not some disease in our midst we look away from. They are an active part of our discussion.

But what about the rest of us, artists included, who do other things than art? We create relationships every day. We create motion in our actions. We create experiences for other. We work to create the self. All in all, we have numerous things we try and create, work on creating, and sometimes successfully create. Does this division apply? Is this a matter of replicating the already done and replicating the not experienced?

Do we create relationships for the same cause? Is it a matter of we sometimes date someone because we love them, and find them utterly amazing, and sometimes we date someone because we find ourself lonely and wanting something new?

Why is it that we are suddenly reversed in public opinion. If we date someone for a reason of personal lack, then we are using the other. If we date someone because we love them, we are being truly in love...versus us being mere cameras or us being real artists.

We take someone as we are, we embrace them fully...we REPLICATE them in our minds, and we are human. We use someone to represent a lack. We substitute a mother figure. We embrace someone who is willing to make us feel sexy, we CREATE someone in our minds...and find ourselves the object of psychological scorn, a bad person.

If we embrace experiences, we REPLICATE them, we are honest and trying. If we CREATE experiences, we are delusional. Unless we create experiences in a fantasy world with wizards and whatnot, then we are popular children's book writer.

We this abnormal double standard all over the place. If we REPLICATE ourselves, we are sheep and meaningless, we are brainwashed and incomplete. If we CREATE ourselves, we are free men and unbreakable.


It would seem the moral of the story is to create those things which are pouring out, and replicate those things which are pouring in...

Embrace the downward motion, reshape the upward...or vice versa...whichever directions make sense to you...just assuming you are the body at the bottom...gravity dictates thing get closer you get more passive, as they travel active...

And this seems all wrong...and misunderstanding...a something...for what is love but an inner pain, a hole...lacuna...which is immediately filled...what is experience but a personal desire to keep our eyes open? What is art but us replicating what we feel. What is the self but is replicating what we know...



Same. Damned. Thing.

We are tools made of clay shaping pots. We are stone hammers building arroweads. We are metal tongs used to shape swords. We are being of experience being experienced.

We just use different words at different times to mean the same thing...and I don't know why.

That outside world...that riot in a major city...that car bomb...that art show in some old castle...that is all just inner turmoil. All just a moment of being without peace...and something happened. We cook because we are hungry. We cook well because we want to impress.

We are a constantly emptying set of experiences which needs to be filled...we are a constantly rebuilt self that needs to be so desperately hopes there is an end to this regress...somewhere.

Slices of Life

(livejournal. November 30, 2007. 4:31am). It takes a village, or an entire family of weak willed people...apparently?

Sarah and I went out to eat tonight. She was tired. I, at the time, felt drained. Figured we would do something simple and cheap and be done with it.

Ended up at the China Gourmet or whatever it is called, the cheap Chinese buffet near the intersection of Bob Wallace and Triana. It's $5.49 all day long and figured that $12 wouldn't be too much to pay.

While there, we had that classic sitcom situation occur. In the middle of our meal a family composed of a loud female talker, an unruly child, another female talker that didn't seem to do much besides sound annoyingly whiny, and a father (maybe older brother) figure whose function in life seemed to make faint, timid commands that were promptly ignored by whomever he commanded.

The last 10 minutes of our tired meal are punctuated by the seat being punched by the kid, the kid jumping up and down, the kid shouting "eat" and making random loud noises while apparently waving a half-chewed egg roll near my head. And the dad whispering "sit down now" "sit down now" "sit down now" "sit down now" over and over and over to absolute no effect. Had he simply enforced his command, he could have eaten in peace and his family could have eaten in peace and, most importantly, I could have eaten in peace. I do not go to restaurants because I want more stress and tiredness to come with a meal.

But people of good sense and decency realize this. Much like people with good sense and decency don't keep shoving hard into their seat when they know they are sharing a back with the person behind them. And people with at least some decorum don't talk about personal problems as loud as the one person (a daughter or sister?) was. And they don't say things like "Look at the fat people here, eating Chinese must make you fat" out loud because people with some decorum realize that just because you can say something and just because you can think something, doesn't mean the world really gives a flying fuck in any way, shape or form. Especially not, say, the irate overweight guy about four foot from your loud mouth whose quiet evening with his wife you just ruined. Call it a hunch, but I can say that he probably didn't give one measly care to anything you have to say, have said, or ever will say again. The world would probably be a better place if you had taken Silenus' advice. Before ruining his meal, preferably.

I briefly wondered if I was kind of letting it get to me more than I should because I felt tired, but then I looked at the waiter's face while we were leaving and saw how unhappy he seemed to be with having to deal with them and the father did not look happy at all when his eyes crossed mine. The loudmouth, however, was laughing until she couldn't breathe because the kid was pointing out fat people and, though she was "shushing" him, she was also thoroughly amused. I imagine she really, really, really likes Larry the Cable Guy. The father was kind of hefty himself, so I sort of feel bad for him if this is his support network.

I've been thinking about it, off and on. What can you do about such a thing? I mean, there is nothing I can really do to the child. Picking him and and smashing him into the wall is considered rude by even Yankee standards, much less the exacting standards of Southern Hospitality. And stabbing him with a fork is pretty much right out (all I had were chopsticks). Challenging the Captain Whisper Dad to a duel in a Chinese buffet parking lot seems a little too 1894 San Francisco for my tastes.

I suppose I should have given the kid a handful of cookies, lulled him into a diabetic coma, and then called a police office with a Taser to the scene and let nature take its course.

All joking aside, I could have gotten angry (as opposed to irritated) and just screamed at them until the situation either got worse or better; or I could have tried reasoning with them; or I could have taken it upon myself to scold the child. I'm assuming #3 would just end up with them getting irate at me, or irate at the child and taking it out on me. Which pretty much leads to #1.

The sort of milquetoast parents who cannot make their child sit down for 10 minutes to eat a meal are not the kind of people that understand reason in the sense that I use the term so #2 would probably be less effective than necessary. Which pretty much leads to #1.

And getting angry is a very, very dangerous thing for a Bolden to do. We, as a family, tend to escalate things rapidly. Frontline Morale Destroyers in a past life, that sort of thing. That sounds something like a boast or an excuse, but past experience (for instance, I may have once punched through a car's dashboard while angry at the driver) let's me know that there was a fair chance that I might end up hitting someone with a chair while turning red in the face and screaming in what Sarah calls my "scary" voice.

And just think, I'm calm as a rock on a spring day of clear skies compared to my some of my family. My brother Shawn once picked a guy up and ran off the back of stand-alone metal bleachers just so he could come down on top of the guy while punching him. This is before the time an older guy pulled up in his car all threateningly, next to Shawn, and said "Shawn, you mess with my girl again [note: I don't think Shawn had anything to do with the guy's girl] and I am going to kick your ass", and then Shawn proceeded to pull the man out of his car and beat him into the asphalt. I'm a lightweight compared to that.

God help us all if a Bolden becomes president.

God really help if that Bolden happens to be Shawn.

All in all, though, what is a real solution to this? Getting them kicked out? Just move? Demand they move? My principle of NAWF (Never Argue With a Fundamentalist) seems to apply here. These people have given up on their child. My trying to reason against their fundamental belief that they cannot be effective parents would have been a waste of my time. At best, I could have ruined their meal slightly more than they themselves had already accomplished.

This is a lose-lose situation. Any expenditure on my part is not going to correct anything and I would have walked away even angrier, possibly upsetting people who were sitting nearby in the process. Though I "lost" by having to be irritated by their uncouth, annoying asses, I would have lost more if I had actually engaged them more.

This seems like one of those aggravating c'est la vie moments.

(livejournal. June 5, 2007. 8:38pm). Remember the Scrub Episode with the cake?

Hey guys, I just wanted to let you know that my father died this afternoon. He was in his early 70's, and had been in relatively poor health for a few years, so it is not a complete surprise besides the fact that his health rapidly declined in a matter of a couple of hours instead of over a couple of days. This morning he was having trouble breathing. Before my mom could even get him in to see a doctor it was too late.

I am not completely sure what happened, since the people I have talked to have given different stories, besides it looks like the same problems he had about 5-6 years ago came back only much faster this time.

He talked to both of my older brothers earlier today, after he got sick, and he was generally good old dad. He joked with them, said he would be ok, and so both of them are in worse shock than I am in a lot of ways.

Sarah and I are trying to tie up all ends that we can so we can head down either late Wednesday or early Thursday to the funeral. We will stay for at least a night or two down there, and I might stay for longer depending on how things are going.

When the flurry of activity dies down, my mom will be by herself. Since my Dad built the house, I am sure that it itself will be a constant reminder of him. So I want to be sure before I come back that she is ok or is as ok as she can be.

My traditional grieving pattern is going on. Quiet blankness followed by laughter and sadness. Tonight, I say goodbye to my old man with a bottle of gin, some loud Irish music, and some quiet moments. Contrasts tend to be good for me during times like this...

So it goes.

(livejournal. Mar 5, 2007. 6:31pm). Little Stories. In my life as a mall worker, I become a mall walker as well, going back and forth between our store and whatever other point requires me. Sometimes a couple of times a day.

Along the way are kiosks. About half as many as there will be in December, and each of them still there is about half as full as they will be in November. The great machine of consumerism in a definite sigh, at the moment.

The products they push at you range from wigs, to sunglasses, to lotion, to sheer annoyance in a couple of cases. My favorite to look at used to be a stand with some sort of spiralrific swirly suncatchers. They would spin around and shimmer in the light and mesmerize me, but they were gone come January.

Now, my favorite is a kiosk which will remain nameless. For the sake of protecting the innocent. And in it are several workers, from time to time. Shifts come and shifts go, and different combinations crop up when there are two or more there. But one combination in particular holds my eye. There is a guy and a girl. A most basic pair. Each are cute, in different ways. He is all smiles. She is warm.

It must be the happiest place in the world to shop, however briefly.

I do not know when I first noticed them. I think I first noticed her, but I could be mistaken. Just a person to watch as I walked past.

I became enthralled in their story. At first, they barely talked, besides occasionally passing words as I would walk past. After a bit, though, I saw them sitting closer and closer. The amount of words I heard on average became more and more.

Sentences. Paragraphs. They were opening up. I am sure this was the point in time when they really looked forward to working together.

Closer and closer. Less distance separated them by the day.

Then, one day, I saw it happen. She sort of sort of leaning into him. The next day, she was giving him some sort of neck rub. They were right side by side for a week or two. It seems that their month(s?) of flirtation had reached its outcome. I was happy for them. My little drama was a romance, after all.

Alas, it was a romance written by Henry James, for one day, I saw them on opposite sides of the small kiosk space. And now, a month or so later, I never really seen them talk without a third person there talking to two of them. They stand with backs to each other and watch people walk by (yet, never seem to see me watching).

There are lives there, where I cannot see them, and I all I have are those little ten second snippets where I can barely understand them. All I know is that the little story seems to have ended unhappily.

And my little drama has played out and done, and walks around the mall become about advertisements, once again.

Well, its like they say, the dashboard is melted, but at least we have the radio.

(livejournal. Mar 1, 2007. 11:56am). Horoscopes and other Medical Marvels. I, most days, read a horoscope or two in much the same that the average person browses a morning newspaper article about heavy trading in grain. The words impress upon my brain, often in humorous ways, and I neither feel cheated nor enlightened after it is all said and done.

The effect of which, sometimes, is that I get the "corner of the eye" impressions of greater fates yet to come.

This morning, though, I am now sure that I read "Cherish every moment for the end of it comes soon".

Which seems extremely fatalistic for a field of "information" that largely profits by telling people "today you will meet the man of your dreams, and realize you are ten times better than he" or "keep an eye for a penny saved, today is a good day to start a lifetime of super-fancy richness". Horoscopes rarely throw in anything negative, and most of the times the negative is an implied positive: "stay at home today for you are the best company you could ever have."

I am pretty sure that whatever Gemini horoscope I read this morning just declared that 1) the world is coming to an end, today or 2) that Geminis are coming to an end today. Much the same thing, as far as I am concerned (and see, having recently read a Henry James novel, I have the ironic power to endow that sentence with at least two meanings).

In celebration of my last day alive, let me introduce you to two medical marvels, my incredibly aching head and the Hardee's "Monster Burger" fat content!

My incredibly aching head isn't honestly fun at all, but we might as well mock it. It has now hurt since Tuesday night, and might be either some sort of neck tension thing or some sort of sinus thing. Both of which seem to be flaring up right now. Pain killers essentially doesn't work. Holding my head still and keeping my eyes focused at one particular distance DOES seem to help. Caffeine helps a little, as does water. Standing up, sitting down, or getting into bed seem to make it worse to begin with, but it eventually adjusts. In light of this, it could be some sort of blood pressure thing. Also, I was carrying some unexpectedly heavy boxes at work and I noticed that my neck felt pulled by it during one of them, so it might be some sort of slight muscle or joint thing that becomes painful due to prolonged exposure to it.

My plan right now is to cut out salt and pain killers for about a week, to increase liquid consumption, and cut out any source of caffeine not tea. I am going to avoid lifting anything more than a handful of books for a couple of days. I am going to focus on eating plain food for a couple of days, and try and keep my eyes generally closed.

Possibly even at work. tee hee...

Finally, the fat content of the Hardee's Monster Burger. It contains, according to their website, 107g of fat (45 or so which is saturated). Wait for it. A stick of butter, almost entirely composed of fat, contains 98g (with 58 or so saturated)!. That's right, with each and every Monster Burger you eat, you are consuming more than a stick of butter!

Man, if that doesn't make you want to run to your nearest Hardee's, just about nothing will!

Written by W Doug Bolden

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