Monday, October 31, 2005

And keep the details in a jar, and bury them underwater.

If anyone's been itching for some fresh autumn fare, I'm going to suggest All-Time Quarterback. It's a Ben Gibbard side project from 2003, so maybe not that fresh. It has none of the summery confidence of Postal Service or Death Cab-- rather, it's more the sound of a man keeping out the dark. All cold vocals and desperate strumming. Perfect for turning the corner into fall.

The other night, I dreamt of a voice muttering over and over "and now we come to that last pale divide" and I woke up knowing that it meant the river Styx.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Nice kitty.

That's three times that I've seen the damned thing. Once downtown, once by the lake, and now a couple houses away. Looking as ill tempered and creepy as any cat can, green-eyed and black with strange, noose-like markings as if it stepped right out of Poe.

Perhaps it's three different cats, perhaps it's one well-travelled animal, perhaps my demons have finally materialized into feline form and are now very literally trailing me around. The fact is that I can't ignore it as a Sign and the question follows whether or not to pursue. It seems preoccupied and completely unaware of me, but as any student of folklore will tell you, this should not be a deterrent. In fact, some of the greatest adventures are undertaken on the heels of some careless magic thing that fails to cover its tracks (White Rabbit, Sir Orfeo). My (unreliable) gut tells me to chuck everything and follow it--around the blue garbage cans, between the yellow leaves, and into the beyond.

But beyond to where? Towards the next Great Hunt? To a hapless end?
More likely into the back yard one house over and into a prickly and embarassing confrontation with our despicable neighbor. Somehow I doubt she'd think "questing" an acceptable excuse for floundering around in her infested, abandoned pool.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Violent.

Warmongers, suicides, and blashphemers. About what I expected:

Level 7
Guarded by the Minotaur, who snarls in fury, and encircled within the river Phlegethon, filled with boiling blood, is the Seventh Level of Hell. The violent, the assasins, the tyrants, and the war-mongers lament their pitiless mischiefs in the river, while centaurs armed with bows and arrows shoot those who try to escape their punishment. The stench here is overpowering. This level is also home to the wood of the suicides- stunted and gnarled trees with twisting branches and poisoned fruit. At the time of final judgement, their bodies will hang from their branches. In those branches the Harpies, foul birdlike creatures with human faces, make their nests. Beyond the wood is scorching sand where those who committed violence against God and nature are showered with flakes of fire that rain down against their naked bodies. Blasphemers and sodomites writhe in pain, their tongues more loosed to lamentation, and out of their eyes gushes forth their woe. Usurers, who followed neither nature nor art, also share company in the Seventh Level.

Heigh ho.

This began with lofty Unseely plans, but degenerated into a simple Snow White. And I'm glad, seeing as how the first comment on it involved the word "cartoonish". A sure sign to wait to get a better hold of things before tackling the fey.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The stars at night...

My brother and his wife are closing on a house. It's at the base of the mountain range that I used to run in El Paso. Aside from the pesky summer fires and a water reserve that's had ten years to go for the last fifteen, it's a great area with matchless weather. Their back yard is essentially a State Park, complete with twenty foot tall yuccas and abandoned cabins. They get coyotes and desert deer in the morning, and wind scorpions at night. They can see the sunrise over the flats. They have four bedrooms and a garage and a golden retriever that can roll around in the pink gravel that serves as a lawn.

And I get the distinct impression that I'm falling behind.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I recommend Hershey's syrup over Quick.

A: "You freaked the hell out last night about getting milk."
J: "Well, I need it. You know I drank at least three glasses of chocolate milk this morning between the hours of four and six."
A: "What were you doing between four and six?"
J: "Reading."
A: "Maybe you should consider Lunestra."
J: "Maybe I should consider sobriety."
A: "Let's not get radical, here."

Monday, October 24, 2005

City of Light.

The power for our block went out last night. Since I'm fairly confident that the Buffalo grid has not been updated since the World's Fair, it came as no surprise. But as we approached a full day, I started to fret that a century's worth of wiring and rewiring was finally breathing its last. Our food was spoiling, we were going to be thrown into another evening of complete dark, and eventually we'd be forced to move in with my aunt until the boyos at Niagara Mohawk got their shit together. We would live off of pot roast and prune soup for the rest of the winter. Be dragged to nine thirty mass. Have to watch Regis, and Channel 2, and damned Bills games.

The twentieth hour, however, must be the magic hour. Everything has hummed back to life (including numerous house alarms). My fingers are thawing. The Budweiser Select is cooling. I've learned my lesson and finally turned the heat on and am now going to indulge in one more cup of tea.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

I think she stole my pajama pants.

I'd like to say that my cousin's overnight visit was a bit of just payback for last week's in-law-invasion. Unfortunately any vengeful delight was blotted out by the clickety-clack of someone emailing her boyfriend at 8:15 a.m. and the smell of spilt perfume on new dining room furniture.

Also, my toothbrush was soggy this morning. Guh-huh.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Custom concern.

Yesterday afternoon I passed some kid who'd been hit by a car. I wasn't there when it happened, but I did see him sprawled on the ground by his bike. He was surrounded by half a dozen people on cell phones and he was bleeding from the face. Cars had been pulled onto lawns, so at least it wasn't a hit and run. I don't know why I feel for the driver in these situations. Probably because I see a lot of stupid kids on bikes exploding across streets like they're god.

I didn't do anything. I have no cell. I'm not a doctor. I don't know CPR. I'm not even good at pretending concern. And everyone seemed to have it covered. I kept walking, figuring it would all be cleaned up by the time I circled back. Nothing left to blemish the pretty afternoon. Just fresh scrubbed pavement. And I was right.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Young Dozens.

So. damn. worth it. Worth the half an hour standing in the cold. Worth the disintegrating bathrooms and surly bartenders. Worth this morning's headache.

We stood rooted in a row in the back by the bar. Sometimes clapping around our drinks, sometimes whispering. But mostly quiet and still--expressionless, arms crossed, and completely blown away under it all.

Oh, and he was going to be a Classics major. Which means I have to love him, right? Of course I'm right.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Still waters go stagnant, bodies bloat.

Mountain Goats concert tonight. I'm a bit out of the loop. Do we dress up for these things still? I can remember freshman year being dragged in a state of complete fashion oblivion (khakis, light blue turtleneck, jedi coat--and an apparent deathwish) to my first concert. How was I to know that the pretty little blond girl the next dorm over was a goth poser? Marilyn Manson to me was just another rocker chick.

But I'm older now, and need to be more concerned about my image. No doubt, I should right now be surrounded by different piles of clothing (dark and intimidating? cool and unconcerned? I just don't know!) and playing Tallahassee until I'm whipped into a pre-show frenzy. Instead, I find myself attired in something similar to the ensemble of eleven years ago and standing in front of the mirror lipsynching this.

Monday, October 17, 2005

See how they run.

Who knew that burnt sienna was just so orange? I was counting on an umber flavor, or maybe a nice modest saffron, but instead I got something that would look more appropriate on a trick or treater, or in a pumpkin patch. No wonder they made such easy targets.

Perhaps I should take it as a sign to settle into something more seasonal from here out, but I've got a problem with expectations, especially my own, and my store of Halloween ideas is slender at present.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Friday, October 14, 2005

Gross-out quote of the day.


"Babe, the wine is starting to dehydrate me, can you grab me a beer?"

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Outta here.

I'm holding our impending visitors directly responsible for the picture lying in shambles on the table. God knows I'm not to blame. My muse has a very delicate constitution. She packed her bags at around eleven this morning when she saw the guest towels come out.

And I'm left with nada else but the growing desire to see that new Tom Welling movie.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Roughing it.

I passed two neighbors on my walk the other day. One was offloading wood from a pick-up truck. The other was standing by, watching. Both were making friendly conversation.

Neighbor #1: I got this cord from C___. (Puffing out his chest) I'm proud to say that we haven't turned on the thermostat yet. So far, we've done all our heating with wood.
Neighbor #2: (laughing) Well, I've got you out-Jonesed with that one! I haven't even started using my fireplace.
Neighbor #1: Man! I knew I couldn't compete with you!

So that's how it goes.
An image flashed to me of rows of houses huddling in the cold as people peered out their windows. Each refusing to light a match or turn a knob until he saw the telltale stream of smoke creeping from his neighbor's chimney in the signal of defeat. I myself crowed when I heard our landlady's heat whoosh on the other night. "She's caved! We win!". Proving once more that Buffalonians will take things to ridiculous and dangerous levels to out-cheap each other. We're simply slaves to our blue collar demons.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Rotten apples.

I'm a big Fiona fan, but I'm going to argue against her latest. At best, it's a difficult listen with untethered vocals and headachy rhymes. At worst, it's a dissonant, plunky mess.

Or maybe I'm getting harder to please with age.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Thumb screws.

A couple of corrections before someone in blogworld gives me the smackdown:

-Bloody Mary and Mary of Scots were two different women, the nursery rhymes deal with the former. If I had paid attention in that awful class instead of passing notes, I would have known this, but how can a professor with a French last name really be trusted with a course called The British Monarchy?
-"silver bells" and "maids" may instead have been metaphors for church bells and nuns, in keeping with the Catholic theme. But I prefer to give 16th century Brits credit for a more grisly inventiveness, so I'll be sticking with instruments of toture until someone actually does correct me.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Quite contrary.

And that's it for the mice.

Apparently they represent three Protestant clergyman burned at the stake under the reign of (Bloody) Queen Mary (of Scots), an averred Catholic. Mary seems to have been an inspiring sort of figure if you go by the amount of nursery lore that's cropped up around her. Let's just say that if the rumors are correct, "silver bells" aren't flowers, "pretty maids" are a pretty nickname for the guillotine, and "cockle shells"...well, I'll leave that to one's imagination.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Bjork over the speakers.

I've waited long enough. Today is the day I bring out the two staples of my winter wardrobe.

We went to a different Wegmans last night to refill our Octoberfest beer and candy corn stashes. It had orange floors and a contingent of pumpkins standing watch at the doors, but what should have been a pleasant seasonal experience was just a little off. The decorations were losing a battle with chalkboards proclaiming "49 cents per pound of bananas". At least three old men were dying in the bulk candy section, but not of anything interesting or goulish. There was a loose kid whose crying would have been far more convincing if he hadn't been sporting the slightly ridiculous eighties haircut that made me point and laugh. The floors were less construction paper orange and more lifeless sherbet, and the pumpkin guard was rotting into its pallets and smelling up the entire place.

"The suburbs fall short once again."

And we walked out disappointed under an unsettling islamic moonrise and tried to find the Grand Am amongst the flocks and flocks of ghostly grey sedans...

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

And purple...I HATE purple.

In the grand tradition of Grimace, the Purple Pieman, and Prince, I submit to you a sliver of Fee. She was commissioned by some theater dude in Missouri (pronounced Missour-uh, if you know what's good for you) and is destined to be the last piece of mine to be headed for the heartland. This is partly due to my inability to follow directions. Partly because I take criticism very poorly and am unlikely to be approachable for any re-draws. Partly because I don't know lilac from lavender. But largely because I could find no 16X20 inch envelopes and, in a characteristic snit, ended up crushing the whole mess into a smallish tube and cramming what amounted to a "fuck you and your ideas" note into its hole.

Unfortunate, because Right Up Your Alleys don't really fall out of the sky that often.

Monday, October 03, 2005

As right as the mail.

I think I got a little too caught up in last night's viewing of Portrait of a Lady:

"I've decided that I want to suffer from consumption."
"You realize that it's tuberculosis and that people still die of it."
"Yes, which makes it all the easier for me. It's really a very artistic disease."
"All of the great poets did have it."
"And Doc Holiday. Just think, you get to sit around, swaddled in blankets, speaking in a pained voice before falling back into your armchair with a hankie to your lips. Things are always much more profound when said by someone who could swoon at any moment."
"How very romantic. You'd have to wear blousy shirts and walk the moors."
"Only before the fact. Afterwards it's all about scarves, and I've got that covered. Plus, you get to travel a lot."
"It's true. People with consumption are always going to 'the country'."
"Or to the Mediterranean. Or at least Egypt or Araby. Anywhere dry."
"El Paso."
"I wouldn't mind being consumed in El Paso."

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Be gone with you.

Fairly uninspired. I had about a billion interruptions (or just one, in the form of an ginormous purple fairy) and just wanted to get it over with. A revisit is definitely in order. I've made a slightly crazed promise to myself to one day master mice.