Friday, September 19, 2003

Another reason not to delete spam...

As I mentioned before I don't delete the spam immediately because I couldn't come up with greater names for fictional characters than those invented by the whacky witty spamsters...

The Sweazy Parleveccio story is still in the works.

But now I can use spam for baby names! Baby names. It's such a fascinating notion. So arbitrary. If you call your baby 'table' long enough that becomes his/her name. And yet so much power.

I guess the daunting thing is my fear that my baby's future chances of getting laid depend on his name. I think: If it's a boy what name can I give him to make sure he gets lucky? And no one beats his ass? My husband of course is very on board with these priorities.

He has scrawny nerdy parents. The kid already needs help.

Leon. I'm so into Leon. But people look at me with horror. I don't know. Because it's a black name for a non-black baby? and so it's either (a) politically incorrect or (b) too black or (c) just plain weird. Who cares? It's so tough. Leons don't keep their virginity 'til they're in their twenties. Leons don't get beat up. Leons kick ass. Not Leon Spinx but

Still, lots of charming options arrive everyday in Spam. E.g., I got an email today from 'Happiness Bangurrah.' And one from 'Quezada somebody.'

And what about 'Grav'...'Grav' That's cool! I'll bet you've never heard that one before. Still for now I'm stickin' with Leon 'til something more virile comes along.
Kill! Kill!

I'm having one of those strange days where I have no patience for human beings as such. Where their foolishness and bombast and ignorance and ugly ways make me ricochet back and forth between irritation and rage.

And yet I exempt myself...I really do think that I am the exception and everyone else is a nitwit. How did this happen? How did I become the one person capable of complete understand and genuine personal grace? I don't know.

But that's not the hard one to explain. The hard one to explain is those days where I'm sure that I'm the only person on earth and....yeah, solipsism...bla bla bla.

Generally I pretend to be a solipsist to keep from socking someone. If solipsism is true it just isn't worth the effort.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

You can get the New Yorker short stories for free...practically the whole magazine for free each week...

But then life is full of stories--and Craigslist has some freaks that are freakier than fiction freaks...

Cavaliers are for winners...

Man, ya can't make that stuff up. Oh, yeah. You can. I forgot.
What makes a short story great?

I never know...I think if you take the time and trouble you can figure it out in most cases but I'm too lazy.

This story really amazed because it's barely about anything and yet it's excellent.

Whereas this Dave Eggers story a couple of weeks ago was badly written and very boring. More high drama stuff and yet so much more empty.

I'm slowly trying to break my short story addiction. I was reading Yukio Mishima and didn't go crazy and stay up all night or anything. Again, why are Mishima's stories so great? I can't say precisely. Sometimes they are bizarre and not much of anything goes on. Or long, long descriptions of a single action make up most of the story. They are focussed and gemlike and perfect. Although the gossip about him is that he was an egomaniac (and crazy in a number of ways) his ego is absent from his stories. Only the characters come through. They have this...purity.

But that's all metaphor. I think there must be some mechanics involved as well. Clean sentences and so on.


So I never listen to NPR all the way through. But Salam was on Teri Gross's show! You can't help but like that guy Salam. He's just cool.

Another time I was listening to NPR and hearing about torture. Somebody was on there whose name I didn't catch claiming that we aren't torturing 'them' (presumably the poor schmoes at Camp X-Ray for the rest of their life)...Yes, when they are interrogated they might be drenched with water...given a cell where they cannot stretch out...without deprived of sufficient given drugs without threatened with the possibility of pain...

But that's not torture! Torture is actually physically harming someone, according to this guy.

That scared me...I thought: If that doesn't count as torture then it is OK to do this to anyone?

But yes--In American prisons people are put in solitary confinement in conditions that are basically torturous for human beings. So I guess the bar for what counts as torture is already a bit high.

One crucial difference is that people in prison presumably did have a fair trial, etc. This does not mean you can torture them by solitary confinement but it is a difference. It is--in my opinion--a violation of human rights to deprive people of light or to isolate them from human contact for many days at a time. Anything that can cause mental illness is as bad or worse than something that can cause physical harm. I'd personally rather have a bit of physical pain than have someone try and drive me insane.

Being threatened with pain seems very close to torture if it is not actually torture.

This both worries me and sickens me. He said something about the Geneva conventions and how most people don't worry if they aren't followed for terrorists. What about human rights though?

In any case there are many people who are in the camp who were dumb kids going off to fight a holy war and getting caught in the middle. Who don't know jack and are of no use to anyone. The thing is--by this time they are probably so intensely radicalized and if we let them out they will all become the poster children of the terrorists in their respective countries.

So does this mean they stay in prison for the rest of their natural lives? I thought human rights were rights that every human being has. I assume suspected terrorists are still human beings. I assume the idea that everyone has basic human rights is part of the belief system of anyone who supports the institutions of Western democracies.

Of course there is much to say about Iraqis...It is hard to think that human rights are not currently being violated there--even if not on a mass scale. Why isn't there more outrage about this?

God, please don't tell me that human rights are a political thing--only for the left or for liberals. Because if this is true--what is everyone else for? I shudder to think.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Gimme that old time revolution...

I'm kind of missing the old time revolutionary days. Thinking about the grito de delores reminded me of that. There was a time where you could believe that all the old hide bound privileged people would give way to a world of true egalitarian justice.

(Voice like a southern sheriff arresting an innocent black man--or like our current president): You talkin' 'bout cominism! You pinko!

Yes, sort of. It needn't be perfect orthodox Marxism. It could be a peasant revolution--like the Mexican revolution--or some kind of reformist revolt at first (like Cuba and Nicaragua before the cold war got in the way).

Or not a war kind of revolution but a social justice movement--the civil rights movement, the global justice movement that recently fizzled a bit but still simmers slightly (although that one really suffered from this current hopelessness I'm trying to describe).

I don't know what I'm going on and on about--There really was this dream of perfecting the social world. Making life worthwhile for everyone--or nearly everyone. Something happenedto destroy this. It wasn't an accident. But this vision seems well nigh destroyed.

Maybe even without the thousands killed in covert actions by the U.S. and the corrupt populists taking over people's movements for their own benefit in the Third World and the unstoppable force of corporations and their wealth....maybe it never would have worked anyway.

But what we have now is nothing but greater wealth for fewer and fewer as our vision of the future. Almost no vision for liberation or equality or justice that people have faith in--even if they still desire those things. Just perpetual expansion of markets and this war that is supposed to never end. The forces promoting this seem so powerful now. Is it truly hopeless?

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

It's the day of the grito de Delores...

Well, OK it's kinda late and it was really all day today but you won't see this 'til the day after.

Happy (Belated) Mexican Independence Day!

More on el grito
The ultrasound...

Later, we admitted to one another that we found the whole thing rather scary. Him because when the baby was 'waving' he imagined he heard it say Hey there...I'm coming to ruin your life...

Her because she thought it looked like Skeletor and because it's floating around in there...somewhere. You can't see it. You can't feel it. And's in there.

Kinda creepy, huh? Women don't write many screenplays and yet why are there so many scary movies about scary babies and aliens one gives birth to...and aliens bursting out of you, etc.?

These might be the kind of movies pregnant women would write. If we were allowed to admit we are so weirded out.

Monday, September 15, 2003


It's your birthday!
What you probably wanted: 3 large blunts, a quart of Maker's Mark, unlimited room service in a Bangkok hotel and 4 Thai hookers.
What you got: A b-b-q dinner (pint of Guiness), a movie and a swedish massage from a slightly attractive (but very strong) woman in her mid forties.

And me!

Was it worth it giving up all the rest?

Oh well! Too late now! Happy Birthday honey!

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Were you thinking: I wonder what she means by 'trivial'?

Reflectoporn--This is what I mean by trivial.

From running with scissors
Wimping out on politics...

I ranted insanely here about politics for months and months. Almost all about the war in Iraq. And then I turned to the trivial and the daily...

I still rant. But at home...sometimes just in my own head. As lame as it is I have projects to finish and the crazy feeling I get exhausts me in a way....The inability to stop writing and writing and writing...Really, just a way to maintain my own sanity. To say: This is really happening? How could this insane thing be happening? And then spend an hour or two trying to explain it to myself.

Now I realize I have to put my energy elsewhere for the time being.

For example, the fact that--at least according to one source--70% of Americans believe that Iraq, Saddam Hussein, whatever had something to do with the terrorist attack on 9/11.

I'll leave out the fact that this is &^%$#@#$% false! I'm assuming anyone reading this knows that. That I don't actually have to provide linkage or evidence. Right? Right?

And that no one explicitly made this claim--but it was hinted at and allusions were made to Al Qaeda in Iraq, etc. And I suppose people just put 2 and 2 together and got the square root of 497? And so Wolfowitz was on a talk show a few days ago and repeated the same story about pre 9/11 Iraq and Al Qaeda and then retracted it...

This is sort of like when the stories kept coming up that the WMD had been found! There they are! Then a few days later. Whoops! No! They aren't there!

I guess Wolfowitz forgot he already admitted that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.

Anyway, I babble on and on here but like I did before I could write pages and pages trying to explain the bizarre phenomenon of this statistic...That people try to make sense of current events and they go to the best explanation--there is no good explanation for the war in Iraq that does not indict their country so they invent an explanation...and statistics are inaccurate...etc. There are at least 20 factors that might explain it.

Even when others behave crazily the sane person is supposed to seek a reasonable explanation. I'm not sane but I also try.

But this is why I don't write so much anymore even if my thoughts are running around on this over and over. I have to finish some things, keep my job, etc.

Making sense of this criminal absurdity...Even defending oneself from abject despair can be virtually a full time job.

And of course the Iraqi bloggers can tell the story better. Read Riverbend's "A Modern Day Fairy Tale" for one take on the lunacy. I don't always agree with Riverbend's conclusions but on most subjects she says things much better than I can.

More on Johnny

I guess I'm not much of a fan of anyone or anything. I never think of myself that way. But Johnny Cash has this pervasive role in my life and my past. His music has been a part of my life since I was young. I even had a dream about him as a child. My whole family knows the words to lots of his songs and we always sang them on family trips. Of all the pop music I've ever heard I related most strongly to Johnny Cash's music. It's simple, it's basic, it's real. His voice is so evocative you feel you know the man. My husband was telling me about hearing him sing Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus" and it changes completely when Johnny sings it and becomes something meaningful and internal rather than hip and ironic. The same with the U2 song he sings (the title escapes me at the moment). When U2 sang it it sounded melodramatic and forced to me--as catchy as it is. When Johnny sang it it choked me up and I couldn't get it out of my head.

I don't know what he was like as a person--I never bothered to find out anything about him. I have a policy of not researching the lives of poets I like. I like the art to come from some mysterious place--I don't want to think about whether the poet lived by his words or where it came from. (Fiction I will find out more about.) Cash's music was about direct, human values. Often about the very best aspects of Christianity--humility and identification with the outsider, the suffering and the lost person. Native Americans (Ballad of Ira Hayes), prisoners (Folsom Prison Blues, Delia and others), hard scrabble people. This seems a conscious choice of his--as you can see from the lyrics of this song. It seems such a unique thing--to sing these moral and sometimes political songs (among other kinds) and make an impact on people's lives but also to be celebrated for this. I'm not even sure this is possible anymore. It's a very unique phenomenon.

(Johnny Cash)

« © '71 House Of Cash »

Well you wonder why I always dress in black

Why you never see bright colors on my back

And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone

Well there's a reason for the things that I have on

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down

Livin' in the hopeless hungry side of town

I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime

But is there because he's a victim of the times

I wear the black for those who've never read

Or listened to the words that Jesus said

About the road to happiness through love and charity

Why you'd think he's talking straight to you and me

Well we're doin' mighty fine I do suppose

In our streak of lightning cars and fancy clothes

But just so we're reminded of the ones who are held back

Up front there oughta be a man in black

I wear it for the sick and lonely old

For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold

I wear the black in morning for the lives that could have been

Each week we lose a hundred fine young men

And I wear it for the thousands who have died

Believin' that the Lord was on their side

I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died

Believin' that we all were on their side

Well there's things that never will be right I know

And things need changin' everywhere you go

But till we start to make a move to make a few things right

You'll never see me wear a suit of white

Oh I'd love to wear a rainbow every day and tell the world that everything's okay

But I'll try to carry off a little darkness on my back

Till things're brighter I'm the man in black