Friday, December 15, 2006

Parenthood (Ongoing) Part 8

There's nothing more boring and sentimental than hearing some guy blather on about his kid, but I'm doing it anyway.

Aside from the more generalized anticipation of watching your own child slowly mature into, well, a kind of 'you', I have to find the entire process of this stay-home-dad gig to be incredible.

After Painter began walking, which seemed to have occurred instantly, and quite young, the amount of time I spent interacting with him escalated dramatically. He was mobile, which meant I had to be all the more so. He approaches his second birthday, in February, and at this point has already consumed so much information it's a little boggling. He's got a variety of words and little questions he asks, though hasn't made much ground in the talking department until very recently. Physically, however, he just keeps excelling. Large at birth, he is equally large now, but much more defined, and pictures of him don't relay his age well.

He seems to outrun and outmaneuver just about everyone anywhere near his own age, which poses problems because the parents of these other kids think he's older than he is. When he gets into a skirmish with another kid over the taking of a toy or whatnot (usually not instigated by Painter, as he's pretty laid back until you mess with him), the parents always look at me as if I should do something because my kid's older and should know better, but what they don't understand is that, usually, their own kid is the older one. Whenever we go out to play with other kids at the park or local play palace, he tends to single out the two and three year-olds to play with, as they can keep up with him better and are around the same size. His dexterity is extremely surprising, as is his balance (he's constantly wanting to stand on high things that move, as if to improve his balance purposely). His throwing arm has been gaining in accuracy (where it is already, at this point, quite accurate), and he can scale just about anything (usually to jump off, which is horribly dangerous because, as I've said, he can scale anything). None of this is out of whack, really, as he's been doing it all for over a year now, but the level at which he seems to do all of this is pretty advanced. He has begun to understand questions and answers with much more insight, as well. It's interesting that he has become so ahead-of-the-curve physically, yet is still behind a bit in the talking department.

Man, a child's ability to associate is baffling to me. For instance, Painter will see a flashlight putting out a beam of light, then notice a lamp also puts out light, and he'll see my putting batteries in the flashlight, and then he'll go and look for the slot to put batteries in the lamp. This isn't very intriguing, but what happens next is: He discovers the lamp is plugged into the wall, turns it off and on a few times, unplugs it and tries again, and then decides that the wall is much like the batteries. He then scours the house looking for anything plugged into the wall, trying to see if any of these things have lights on them, and, after this exploratory adventure, begins tracing wires throughout the house to find the items he can interact with. He has discovered that things requiring electrical power usually do interesting things. He had no idea he could turn the stereo on until realizing there was a wire connecting it to the wall. Now, he can pick the track he wants to hear. Not especially interesting, but when you think he got all of this from watching me put batteries in a flashlight... Well, that's just impressive. And all kids do it on some level, all day long. Association. It shouldn't be too surprising, really, because adults do it constantly, but on a more broad level.

BEGIN TEXTBOOKISH DESCRIPTION: Associative thinking drives many facets of the human mind, from metaphors and comparisons, to the ideas behind most inventions.

RETURN TO GUSHY JOURNAL MUSINGS: The human mind is an oddball, creature-wise, but useful to our scheme of things. Looking up at the Moon and Sun, realizing they're both somewhat round and seem to rotate in the sky, are prime details for associating that, shit, if they're round and rotating, maybe this world we're on is, too. We all know how this particular association turned out, historically, and it seems old hat to us, but it's still a fascinating way to reach a conclusion, nonetheless. It is one of the greatest separators between us and else.

Right now, though Painter isn't quite at two years-old yet, he is most definitely going through the customary 'terrible twos', and has been for months. I do wish there was another name for this, as 'terrible twos' is so bland and overused, however, you can't really tell people "Our baby is now two, so naturally, he's being a real douche". Painter is really pushing his space and behavior, which can be both cute and frightening, as part of this 'testing his boundaries' involves doing things you tell him not to. Most parental advice is for good reason, i.e., "No no, that's hot." and "Stop! No no! Sharp!", so it can be a bit nerve-wracking to see him make a beeline for something just because you told him to leave it be.

Anyway, I'm keenly into it. The best part of watching him grow is, by far, just hanging out, which we can now do to some extent, without any stress. We'll just sit around hanging out sometimes. That's just cool as hell.

Since he's larger than the other kids his age, I've been keeping an eye out for any bully behavior I might notice on his part, though he's been pretty mellow, thus far. I have no doubt he's going to go nuts over sports, especially once school begins. This would be a boon to most dads (take a look at boy clothing at any department store and you'll be hard-pressed to find something without footballs or baseballs on it), but I'm not that dad. I did some solo sports back in the day, sure: Gymnastics, diving, pole vaulting... But I was never into team sports, and, having been a colossal and radically undermatured geek, had the usual trouble with the guys that were. So, I'm foolishly predisposed to a natural dislike of jock mentality. However, the other day, Painter picked several peas from his dinner and, estimating his shot, lobbed them one by one, up and over his high-chair, into the kitchen, and down into the trashbin. Whenever he made a shot, he'd throw a fist in the air and yell out, "Yah!", so all of my sad little attempts to keep the sportster in him from coming to fruition have failed, and are pointless anyway. I'm simply going to have to accept I've got a baby jock on my hands.

Well, my dad liked sports and I ended up writing poetry, so, I guess I've got it coming. I'm going to have to learn how to play that cliched father-son game of catch, now. Trippy.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Heroes from Hackland

Occasionally, I run across a magazine that hasn’t much fanfare or presence online, or that has a very small circulation and so isn’t all that prevalent around ‘town’. These magazines range from excruciating, badly xeroxed zines with fuzzed-out text, to glossy covered journals with loads of fresh content and a unique yet accessible format. Over the last year, I’ve had a bit of contact with a magazine that I adore: Heroes from Hackland, edited by Mike Grogan, out of Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

I’d like to note that this post of mine shouldn’t be taken as a review, as I find myself only wanting to praise this excellent little magazine.

A Google search of this publication will turn up half a dozen pages, none of which describe or attribute much to it, other than listing its name as being in existence, or in someone’s publishing credits, etc... You won’t find it mentioned in many magazines, and you won’t find ads for it in accessible places. If it weren’t for a lonely, isolated entry in the Directory of Poetry Publishers a couple of years ago, I would have never run across it. Heroes from Hackland is a mid-sized magazine with very nice, full color covers. You’ll find between these covers a huge allotment of fetching material. There are poems, yes, many of which I have found captivating, as well as stories and some artwork. The overall theme of this publication seems to revolve around a nostalgia for previous realms of americana: The Lone Ranger, singing cowboys, early television and radio broadcasts... Reading it brings to mind a way things were portrayed long ago, a more familial, friendly, and serial way. I can’t help but hear the sounds of Arch Obeler’s ‘Lights Out Everybody’ and Gene Autry’s surreal, smooth tones in songs like ‘Tumbling Tumbleweeds’, while reading through this magazine. Even a touch of early MAD magazine. The latter pages usually contain stories and vignettes by the editor, which can take the form of rampantly odd, fast, round-the-bend commentary with vivid language, or clearly felt, ringing pieces that describe some of the facets of American life. There are occasional reviews of movies, new and old, as well.

Grogan, I’d like to add, is a friendly and absorbing guy (he calls his Wal-Mart pharmacy and sings to them regularly). He also has a kind and generous view of poetry and the 20th century that both accords and replenishes would-be contributors. This editor is one of the very few that have actually called me on the phone to ask what I thought of an issue, which is both rare and touching. Anyone out there submitting poetry to magazines knows what I mean by this.

For anyone interested in a uniquely brandished read, and subscribing to a small magazine (circulation 300) with great potential, an intriguing style, and a long history, I’d highly recommend checking out Heroes from Hackland. It’s one of the few magazines I’ve come across for which I’ve thought: Why is there not more of this?

So, Christmas is coming and you’ve got a few bucks set aside for somebody. Send a neat mag to that drunken uncle instead of socks.

Subscription information:

Single copies $3.50 ppd, subs. $10.50, three issues
Contact M. Grogan, 1225 Evans, Arkadelphia, AR 71923

Friday, November 17, 2006

What the F**k is the Deal with Nigeria?

So, I get around five hits a day from Nigeria [UPDATE 11-24-06: Only a week from posting this, I am now getting 22-30 hits a day from Nigeria], all different IP addresses, all having dropped onto my journal via google, yahoo, msn, etc... by searching for things like: "R" and "@hotmail.com", or "M" and "@yahoo.com", things like that, in order to harvest email addresses for their shitty scams. Strangely, a majority of the scams I get in my email originate in Nigeria. You know the drill. BANK OF AMERICA NEEDS YOUR VERIFICATION, or PLEASE HELP ME I AM RICH I NEED AN AMERICAN, or even COME AND MANAGE OUR COMPANY! These are scams that keep circulating, being reworded over and over again. I get these various scams perpetually, as do most people. The most annoying part of it is that Hotmail, over the last few months, seems to be letting more and more of these through. I was getting one or two of these a day in my junkmail folder, and now I'm getting around ten a day, in my inbox, and three or four in my junkmail. The best are the ones that pretend to be from some poor widow in Africa who's husband died tragically, but they have 65 million U.S. dollars (I've even received several that claim to have billions) that their government wants to take, or an estranged, problematic family member, or whoever, so they need you're bank account information and a copy of your passport, etc... Wow. Most of these don't say so right away, but that's the end result. They want your shit. The things they could do with information like that is frightening. I take a strange sort of glee, as well as guilt, in knowing that the rather large lists of publications and editors on my main page are most likely getting ads for sex pills and fraudulent paypal.com scams because I and many others have listed their contact info. A shame. Or not. [UPDATE 11-23-06: I have removed the email addresses of all publications on my main page, due to several editors asking me to, and common sense. It was easier to remove all of them, rather than a few, and anyway, if you're wanting to submit to one of those magazines, you should familiarize yourself with them and follow their guidelines.] Anyway, you scammers over in Nigeria with your computers and spider-software, all your obnoxiously transparent scams, I just wanted to make sure you know you're human parasites and big bags of ratshit. Choke on beancurd. Or better yet, put away your keyboards, go to Yankari, and get jumped by one of these:






Here's an interesting link to someone who had a little fun with these troublemakers:

http://spl.haxial.net/nigerian-fraud/

I'm still not certain why, but I've been saving these scams in a folder. Again, I don't know why. Perhaps when my children have children and I'm seventy, I'll tell my great grandkids about all these scams and they won't believe me, so I'll be able to whip out this folder, if folders still exist, and prove that it was all real. People were this shitty to each other. Sort of like if someone were to show you one of those old sham contracts from the 1920's indicating the sale of the Brooklyn Bridge to some random person.

Here's a partial screenshot:

__________________________________________________________

UPDATE 12-10-06: Just received a hit from a very specific Nigerian scammer, who reached my site via this Google search: "EMAIL CONTACT ADDRESSES OF CATHEDRAL CHURCHES IN CHESTERFIELD". So, due to the rather large number of churches in the news lately as falling prey to Nigerian scammers, I thought I'd give a 'heads up' to Chesterfield:

Hey holy guys in Chesterfield, specifically, you guys that work in the cathedral churches, watch out for this guy:






Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Loser (Ongoing) Part 2: License to Drive

In an earlier post (Work and Wage (Ongoing) part 3), I gave a somewhat long list of the jobs I’ve occupied in my short time on this planet, and have now received quite a number of emails regarding it. The list circulated the internet to a very small degree, but enough people seemed to have enjoyed it that I’ve decided to continue this, by creating an ongoing segment entitled, The Loser, in which I will offer another list, each post. This particular entry you’re reading is a sad little list of vehicles I’ve owned, and what happened to them.


Type of Vehicle: Big Wheel
Model: Tonka - Unknown
Length of Ownership: One year
Manner of Loss: This was my first vehicle, and more than likely, the second best I’ve ever managed to drive. I rode this wonderful artifact around my neighborhood for a year when I was two/three years old and generally thought I was the shit when on it. The outcome of this vehicle is a bold foreshadow of what I could expect of future vehicles. I parked it in the driveway improperly, left it there for a bit, and when I returned, found a large blue van parked atop it. The van belonged to a musician friend of my father’s. Having destroyed my youth in such a crushing manner, the man was duly apologetic and felt quite bad about the whole thing, even offering to purchase me a new one. This is proper driver etiquette, yes, and we exchanged our information, as is correct, but nothing could replace a loss of this magnitude. I railed at the gods over the death of my big wheel.


Type of Vehicle: Dirt bike
Model: Schwinn Stingray
Length of Ownership: Seven years
Manner of Loss: This represents the longest span of time, by a very wide margin, that I ever maintained a single vehicle. My parents had me pick this bike, my first, right off the lot, in preparation for my fourth birthday. I received the bike beneath a busted pinata in a park in Santa Rosa, California, while wearing a conical birthday hat. Getting on it for the first time completely overran any annoyance I was then experiencing over some other kid having been the one to bust open my pinata. It was a blue Schwinn Stingray, became my best friend, and would see me through many adventures. For instance, the adventure of riding through glass, which I did whenever possible, the adventure of getting knocked off the bike by a little girl smashing a glass coke bottle into my forehead and causing me to get strangely sleepy for a while, the adventure of screaming as I pedaled harder than any boy has ever pedaled, a Rottweiler behind me by twenty feet, bearing down on me with a vicious snarl, having left his dead rat behind in favor of eating a small boy... the adventures go on. This bike was also a chick magnet, as every little girl in the neighborhood chased me whenever I drew near on it, for reasons similar to that of the above-mentioned Rottweiler. I stopped riding this bike when I grew too large for it, at around seven years old, though did manage to keep it safe and sound in the garage until I was eleven, when it was exhumed to show some other ten-year-olds, then left in the driveway, and run over by a red Toyota pickup then driven by my father.


Type of Vehicle: Dirt bike
Model: Huffy Lightning
Length of Ownership: Eight days
Manner of Loss: Theft. My father had moved us to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, in Golden, Colorado. I didn’t know what to expect of this place in the world, other than it would supposedly be quite different from the places I’d lived previous: San Jose, Petaluma, a trailer park outside Fort Benning in Georgia, and a few cities in Washington. So, we moved into this tiny suburb in the mountains. As a treat, when we first moved there, I was bought a new bike. This was ideal, as our strange suburban neighborhood (I’d never seen, nor lived in the suburbs before), was sprawled out for what seemed like half a mile or more, and there were side streets everywhere that wound around to other side streets. I was stoked. This turned out to be the most violent place I ever lived as well. Gangsta rap had just started hitting the airwaves and a lot of the neighborhood kids spent their days beating the shit out of each other in small groups. After eight days of owning it, my bike was stolen in the wee hours of the night. It was depressing. I’d lived in areas that you could rightfully call ghettos before, and in trailer parks, but no one had ever stolen from me. Two years later, the day my family loaded up a U-haul to move to Oregon, I was informed by a friend I’d made, Ben, about who stole my bike, as he had found out. The thief was this fat kid I’d actually befriended while living in that neighborhood. He’d stolen my bike and then kept it from me for two straight years. For anyone interested, and for him, if that thief ever reads this: Go to hell, Corey Brown. I want my fucking bike back.


Type of Vehicle: Mountain bike
Model: Huffy Thunder
Length of Ownership: One year
Manner of Loss: I rode this poor thing to its death. It was a Christmas gift when my family relocated to Eugene, Oregon. It was always breaking, the gears ceased being useable one by one, until I was stuck in the most difficult gear perpetually, with brakes that did nothing but look like brakes, and pedals that would occasional lock up, meaning that I couldn’t keep my feet flat on them as they’d rotate over with every pedal. Obnoxious. I had started my freshman year at Willamette High School and rode my bike to school and back. There was a day near winter break when I was stuck by a car while riding through a crosswalk. The woman driving hadn’t been watching the road, but turned around nearly backwards in her driver’s seat beating her kids in the back seat. WHAM! Me up against the windshield. The car slid to a stop, I climbed off her hood, got my bike. She asked if I was okay, I said I didn’t know, but seemed all right, and hen she drove off. I limped home and, to this day, my shins still hurt if I press on them, sixteen years later. There was also a day toward the end of the year when I pulled a wheelie out in front of the school, on my way home. Less than a second into it, the front wheel simply fell off (this was before most bikes came with lock-nuts), and I came down on the bare forks, flipped over the handlebars and ground the side of my face into hamburger for about twenty feet. I wasn’t fond of this bike, though it was far less fond of me.


Type of Vehicle: Dirt bike
Model: Mongoose FS1
Length of Ownership: Five years
Manner of Loss: I bought this at a garage sale one afternoon, for $50, and it was the most reliable and excellent piece of machinery I have ever owned, even to this day (although the Kitchen-aid ranks up there pretty close). I rode this nonstop for years. I was into trick, so learned a plethora of neat little things. I could megaspin, footplant, all that, and I even own a video of me backflipping on it for the first time. I was into bikes, rode hard, was constantly speeding into dangerous environments and ill-conceived jump setups, and this was the best one for it. It weighed in heavy, which was just what I needed. Eventually, I got a license, lived on my own, had a job, was going to community college, and had no time for it, so I gave it away, drunkenly, to a friend of mine who was a genius at putting together new sorts of bikes. Ten years later, I ran into him and he gave me the frame back. One day, I’ll rebuild this amazing machine and apes will dance and kill one another before it like the monolith in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.


Type of Vehicle: Automobile
Model: 1979 Plymouth Volare
Length of Ownership: Nine months
Manner of Loss: This was my first car. It cost $300 and was a big hunk of awful shit. It was a station wagon and I basically obliterated it over a period of nine months. It didn’t run well, had leaks everywhere, was beat up, and not aligned at all. At one point, while pulling down toward the highway in it, some rednecks ran up to my car and wanted to attack me. I don’t know why. But I told them it’d be more fun to beat up my car, so they did. One of them broke his hand punching my door. But, thanks to that car, I didn’t get punched, myself. Later, I slid off an embankment and down into someone’s yard, nearly putting the grill of this station wagon through the wall of their recreation room. I had it pulled out with a towtruck and got in quite a bit of trouble with law-enforcement for leaving the scene of the crime (though I only left for five minutes to find a phone and report the situation (this was a time before cell phones)). The house I nearly took out appeared to have furniture and belongings in it, but looked unlived in. It was later discovered to be a summer home for some guy, and he most likely never found out about any of it. This vehicle finally faced it’s end when the transmission went out while pulling into the parking lot of the DMV. I left it there overnight and when I returned, it had been towed away. I had no money (making about $320 a month in the fast food industry), and the days piled up, as well as the towing fee, until I owed more than I’d paid for the car, then twice as much, then quadruple... Eventually, I jokingly gave the title to a young Elijah Brubaker, and told him if he ever wanted a car, he could go and claim it.


Type of Vehicle: Automobile
Model: 1978 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
Length of Ownership: Eight months
Manner of Loss: I drove this vehicle well. It cost me $700 and was a dark blue. It had a V8, which meant lesser gas mileage, though it was extremely responsive and I drove it up to Portland and parts beyond many times in the eight months I drove it. It had a stigma attached to it, however, as Monte Carlos tended to be the new meth-mobiles in town. All the dealers and tweakers had Monte Carlos, I don’t know why. I lost this vehicle when, driving out to the beach one night, I lost control of the vehicle, spun around, almost had control returned, but then just spun the other way and then I wrapped it backwards around a tree after launching from a curvy road into the woods. A friend of mine gutted the interior and installed the seats in his truck, which was odd, in exchange for taking the wreckage off my hands. Amazingly, the car still started and drove after this, but not for me. I had the friend remove it. This was probably my favorite of the cars I’ve owned. Until I destroyed it, it was extremely reliable.


Type of Vehicle: Automobile
Model: 1976 Ford Thunderbird
Length of Ownership: Four months
Manner of Loss: This is the most annoying of the situations I ended up in concerning vehicles. I bought this car after finding a job in Coos Bay (no small feat), and parked it in front of my apartment. It was maroon, gigantic, and had a kind of roving look to it I enjoyed. I didn't have a license at this point, having not renewed it, and was not insured, so the car was going to stay with me, at my apartment, until I had a license and insurance. I paid $400 for it, which was a great deal, as it was in excellent condition and ran superbly. So good a deal, I bought it without even being able to use it, yet. Eventually, enough shit had hit enough fans and I joined the U.S. Military, leaving the vehicle with my parents while I went off to basic training. Two weeks later, I was back in my little town again, having 'failed to adjust'. I went to pick up my car to discover that my dad had sold it while I was gone. Not two weeks, and he'd sold it, though he was supposed to be holding on to it for me. Well, it sucked for me, and it ended up sucking for him, as the guy he sold it to never paid him, and then, finally, it sucked for that guy, too, because he drove it into the back of a police cruiser on the highway. So, it seemed everyone involved had taken a bite from the shit sandwich at some point, concerning this vehicle. Still, it was $400 bucks I was out, not to mention I had no car to drive when I got my license back, which, it turned out was only a few weeks away.
Type of Vehicle: Automobile
Model: 1981 Chevrolet Chevette
Length of Ownership: One year
Manner of Loss: I bought this car from a friend of my little brother for $30, total. I think he was trying to score a bag of weed, so only asked $30 for the car. It only ran on two of it’s four cylinders, had a hole in the floor so large that when it rained, if I drove through a puddle, it would splash water up into the car and soak my crotch as I drove. The windows wouldn’t roll down anymore though I managed to rig up a system for lowering the driver’s window, the AC was home to a colony of spiders and, I suspected, a mouse, and virtually nothing regarding this vehicle was correct when it came to proper function. I couldn’t even adjust the seats, as the splashing of water through the floorboards had rusted the mechanism in place. To my utter amazement, I was hired to deliver pizzas in this vehicle, which couldn’t have possibly passed the inspection they gave it. I delivered pizzas in this heap for months, wet-crotched, freezing, slowly crawling along, unable to take any route that involved going up a hill, no matter how slight. The wipers didn’t work either, and when it rained (Oregon always rains), I had to just keep driving until the water all pooled together on the windshield and created a complete, single sheen across it, so I could see. Until this occurred, however, or on misty nights, I had to drive with my head out the window. Once, during a particularly windy night while on delivery, my hood flew up and completely obfuscated my view. I thrust down the window and stuck my head outside to discover I was then between two semis, with a car in front of me and two motorcycles tailgating me, which made it so I actually had to drive in this manner, with the hood up against my windshield, at 45 mph in tight conditions, for around twenty seconds before someone finally let me pull off the road. What happened to this little, vibrating nightmare of a car? I got a hundred bucks trade-in on it, which was over three times what I paid for it, when I bought my Pontiac 6000, of which you'll read shortly.

Type of Vehicle: Borrowed Automobile
Model: Geo Metro
Length of Ownership: N/A
Manner of Loss: I didn't actually own this vehicle, but I certainly destroyed it. While on a trip to Portland with my friend John Densmore, to see his band perform at La Luna, John's mom (the owner of the Geo Metro we were in) asked me to drive everyone to a Denny's, as I'd lived in Portland before. I didn't think it was a good idea, as I wasn't insured and had such bad luck with vehicles. Everyone agreed it would be fine, and that we weren't going anywhere difficult or anything. Reluctantly, I agreed. While driving through the Chinatown area of downtown Portland, I noticed hundreds of pairs of feet sticking out in the street. The rose parade was going to occur in the morning, and there were people and cars parked and camping alongside all of the downtown streets. This was odd and difficult to manage driving through. We reached an intersection that had no stopsign or light, so I continued through and was immediately struck by a very large and brand-new Dodge Ram. We spun around and around, stopped, and were generally screwed. After the wreck, I tried to figure out what had happened, who was at fault, etc. It was me. There was no stoplight overhead, true, and no stopsign either. What there was, however, was a stoplight on a pole on the LEFT side of the street, which was blocked by a truck, hence why I didn't see it. Also, I'd never seen a sign or light on the left side of the street before. Either way, I screwed up and destroyed mama Densmore's car. And worse, we certainly didn't make it to Denny's.


Type of Vehicle: Automobile
Model: 1988 Pontiac 6000
Length of Ownership: Eight months
Manner of Loss: Having done so well with the $30 car, and having not wrecked or destroyed anything that was mine in the last year or so, I felt I’d passed some sort of driver basic training. I was a hardened driver, at this point, and had seen or handled just about everything a car could throw at me. So, I finally saved up enough to buy a newer car. Not very new, but newer. I bought a used Pontiac 6000, which, by the time I purchased it, was the next of the meth-mobiles in town. All the dealers had Pontiac 6000s and Ford Taurus’. A few Crown Victorias and molester vans, too. So, as with previous cars, I was pulled over constantly. This vehicle handled itself well and got me where I needed to go. After eight months, the engine burned up in the middle of nowhere (Also referred to as Gold Beach, Oregon), and left me, as well as three friends, including the ever-present Elijah Brubaker, hitch-hiking. We were picked up by a softball coach in a mini-van, dropped off in Gold Beach, and I then tried to find some sort of transportation for us. There was none. No busses ran through there, no taxis, nothing. It was the fourth of July, as well, so everything was closed. In the end, I bought a car from a hideous and strange man that lived in the woods outside Gold Beach, for $400. The man told us his name was ‘Cokehead Rick’, and he was frightening, indeed. He also had Rottweilers on his ‘ranch’ that killed deer for him and drug the carcasses back, so he didn’t have to go hunting himself, his dogs did all the killing for him. We got away from this man as soon as possible.


Type of Vehicle: Automobile
Model: 1979 Dodge Colt
Length of Ownership: Five months
Manner of Loss: The excellent vehicle I purchased from ‘Cokehead Rick’ on his mutilation and death ranch. This vehicle broke down and refused to run exactly one mile from the above-mentioned ranch, where I bought the vehicle. Not five minutes had passed and it was broken down. Cokehead Rick drove by in his molester van and waved at us, then disappeared down the road to town. We managed to get it running after awhile (not a one of us knew anything about fixing cars or diagnosing their problems), and we finished our roadtrip. The passenger window was gone, as was a huge chunk of that door, and so it was cardboarded up with duct tape. The car turned out to be stolen, but I had possession of it, and the original owner was in prison anyway, so eventually, I was awarded the right to register it in my name and whatnot. This vehicle ran all right, but I had to learn to drive a stick-shift in about ten minutes with no instruction. Surprisingly, I just sort of knew how to do it, somehow. This car had leaks and filled with water easily, but I tried to take care of it as well I could. It broke down, though with no major condition, and I had to park it in front of my apartment until I could pay to get it fixed. Eventually, due to lost employment and an apartment I had only days to vacate due to my inability to pay, I had to leave the car behind. The landlord kept it, as well as most of my belongings in the apartment (it’s pretty humbling having to move out of your living space and only being able to take what you can, literally, carry. It also enlightens you as to what’s actually important to you. I left with a duffel bag of filled writing folders and a guitar).


Type of Vehicle: Dirt bike
Model: Mongoose, though with no model apparent
Length of Ownership: three years
No Manner of Loss: After the loss of the stolen Dodge Colt that Cokehead Rick sold me in the middle of nowhere near his museum of homicidal animals, I didn’t drive for quite some time. Eh, indefinitely, actually, as I still don’t drive. It’s just not in me anymore. For me, cars are bad luck, which is why my current vehicle is perfect for me. I went back to my roots and found the only vehicle that had been good to me. A green mongoose bike. It’s not my old FS1, though I do have that frame if I ever get around to it, but this bike is fine, and gets me around my little town quickly and expertly. It’s getting a bit rusted (Again, Oregon is always raining), so I have some parts I want to replace. For now, however, this is all the transportation this loser wants or needs.

So there it is. My life in vehicles. If in the future, you find yourself driving along and see me in your rear-view mirror, my advice is to just let me pass. You don’t want to end up as a sub-character in one of these entries, unless you're Elijah Brubaker, himself, as he and I seem to be the only people to have come through all of this car-wrecking and breakdowns unscathed. Hope you all enjoyed. As for the next list, prepare your eyes now. It’s going to be a long, long read, when I get it written and posted. It’s a list of the schools I’ve attended. Oh, I know. Big deal. Everybody goes to school, right? So what if I went to a few of them. That doesn’t necessarily make for an interesting list to read, right?

I went through 19 of them before junior high.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Good, The Bad, and the Clerically Ill (Ongoing) Part 5


All right, it's been some time since my last three, and for good reasons: A complete computer crash (motherboard shorted out) in my new laptop, a long spell of return-to-senders, my general life became more exciting, and I've been growing a rather large backlog of things that could easily fit in with 'The Bad'. But, as usual, I did create a new three, and here they are:

The Good: Andy Robson @ Krax
This is probably the most pleasant and personal rejection I've received in the last year, possibly ever. A completely handwritten rejection spanning a very large paragraph. Signed and whatnot. Basically, they thanked me and mentioned their backlog, that they weren't going to be able to use what I'd written, as it didn't fit their usual style well, and best of luck to me, whatever. This rejection was written interestingly and was not the usual carbon-copy one-off that I'm used to. This was a thoughtful rejection and a rarity, and most definitely deserves a place in 'The Good'.


The Bad: J.M. Freiermuth @ Timber Creek Review
This editor returned my full submission, which is common, with no rejection at all, scrappy or otherwise. I have recently begun using a 'Manuscript Disposable' red stamp on my cover letters to solve a problem I've been having with publications returning my entire submission plus their ads and flyers, which usually ends up not fitting within the constraints of a .39 cent SASE, so my post office has me come down, and I have to pay more money to pick up a rejection. I used to put, in bold, Manuscript Disposable' on my cover letters, but too many editors didn't notice it, so I have initiated the red stamp, which seems to be working wondrously. This editor, however, circled my 'Manuscript Disposable' stamp and wrote a note about it, though didn't bother to send anything else, much less a rejection. I can only assume this is a rejection. He circled the red stamp and wrote: "Lose this loud and preachy statement. If you don't ask for the poems to be returned, they are disposed of." That was it. This is an odd response. Preachy? How is a stamp of 'Manuscript Disposable' preachy? I'm not trying to sway him into some kind of diatribe or way of life, so that term doesn't really make any sense. I agree that the stamp is loud, which is its purpose, and I'd rather not use it at all, if it weren't for necessity. The funniest part is, while 'Manuscript Disposable' certainly seems to have gotten his attention, and while he did write that if I didn't want the poems back, they'd dispose of them (which is why I have that stamp, to tell them exactly that), this editor STILL sent back all the poems, despite everything my rebellious stamp and his irritated note seemed to have been about. Here's my take on it: WE DON'T LIKE YOU TELLING US YOU DON'T REQUIRE THESE COPIES OF POEMS BACK. ALSO, IF YOU DON'T WANT THEM BACK, JUST TELL US. NOW, IT SEEMS YOU'VE TOLD US YOU DON'T WANT THEM BACK, WHICH IS WHAT WE WANT, AND ALSO DON'T LIKE, AND HERE ARE YOUR POEMS BACK.
The Clerically Ill: Editors @ Carus Publishing
This is a long one in coming, and involves a rather large publishing house that prints material for children, Carus Publishing, responsible for putting out Cricket Magazine, Spider, Ladybug, Cicada, and others. I've been fond of these magazines since I was a wee spider, myself. I have now sent to this publishing house three times, to three separate magazines, Cricket, Ladybug, and Spider. I'm fairly certain my last, Spider, will also end in rescinsion, like the other two. Basically, I sent, waited an extended and undue amount of time, finally sent them an email asking the status of my work with them, and waited some more. When they did finally get back to me, it was only to explain I'd waited for nothing. Now, you may be wondering, Why would I send to this house if it has already burned me in the past? Well see, I expected that since each of these publications is edited by a different person, the incident with Cricket, my first submission (of which you're about to read) would be an isolated occurrence. Not so, my friend. Here are my results:
1. First submission, to Marianne Carus @ Cricket Magazine: After ten months, I ended up rescinding my poems from this publication. In response to the rescinsion notice I sent, I received a letter explaining that they have no idea where their submissions go. They get sent out to test readers, and the test readers, themselves, are supposed to contact the submitters, and not the editor (I wonder what the editor actually does, then, if test readers yay or neigh the work, and even inform the submitter about it-- maybe they go over the final group of accepted poems and remove one, or even two?). So, sorry, no records are kept of who your poems would have gone out to and it's possible they lost them, who knows, we don't. But, the editor did explain I could send again sometime, since they hadn't technically rejected the work. The response was brief, and then tapered into a form-letter that was the word-for-word cut and paste from their website submission guidelines, which I had followed. Cricket had a response time listed at six months, max. I sent to this magazine on July 1st of 2004, and rescinded in late April of 2005, about ten months later. Ten months is exorbitant, though I allow it if a publication at least states that's how long it's going to be. Even more ridiculous was that this publication did, eventually, get to my submission and send me a rejection based on it, 17 MONTHS AFTER I RESCINDED. That's right, a whopping 26 months after I sent these poems to them. The amount of time it took them to read the five short poems I sent was just over two years.
2. Second submission, to Paula Morrow @ Ladybug: I rescinded this, again, after nearly 10 months with no response, contrary to the maximum of 6 months their guidelines read. In response to my submission, as above, I was told they had no record of my poems. If history repeats, despite that I've now rescinded, I can expect to receive an actual rejection from this magazine somewhere around April of 2008.

3. Third submission, to Heather Delabre @ Spider: I sent this out in September of 2006, unaware that I was going to rescind from Ladybug shortly after, and am currently waiting to hear back. This will most likely be the last time I attempt submitting to this publishing house. Hopefully, this one will at least get back to me before 2009. Of note is that the email address for submissions to Spider is the exact same email address as the one listed for Ladybug.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Undue Process

As both the life of this man, me, and also of my prolix compatriot, Jahul, reach their wondrous pinnacles of online favor, something must go wrong.

Yes, it has. My processor burned out. I've only had my new laptop for two-and-a-half months, but yet, my ill luck with machines has tendriled again into my speeding life, and like the plantation in Gone with the Wind, burned the fuck down. Dell is going to fix it, as it was under warranty, but this leaves me in a distended position, having to use my old laptop (at 64 megs of ram, no joke) to do my daily business. Of course, I can check email and peruse the web, though very, very slowly, I can't chart any submission response I receive, nor can I do anything regarding my current projects, as they are all stuck on a somewhat specific model of hard drive in a machine that is dead, for the time being. So, it's back to the more Shakespearean format of recording your progress in the world: Paper and ink.

This is fine, as I carved my poetic teeth on paper and still do, everything by hand, I just can't revise anything or work with anything already typed or on my new machine. I know, I know... backups. You have to have backups. Backup everything. Yes yes. I have backups. That is no problem. I just don't have a machine that can access the backups. Fun.

Jahul is remiss as well, as he can't post his new feature. It's a trailer. Jahul, I should explain, has been courting a major motion picture studio and a very well known producer as regards his feature length movie, Jahul: Beast of Time. He has struck a deal, I'll tell you. Not only has this movie been greenlit, but they filmed it immediately with name-brand actors. Such is the power of Jahul. Even the simplicity of his generous form persuades the elite of the world to his favor. So the movie has been filmed, and he would very much like to post the trailer. Of course, he is upset as the trailer is on my new laptop, which will shortly be repaired. Jahul must wait. Patience is a virtue, even for beings such as he.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Jahul Unleashed

What's the Deal with Jahul?

It's official. I haven't a single strand of dignity left.

I've heard Jahul was being discussed favorably on KFLY, out of Eugene, Oregon, on the ever popular Donkey Show, from 2-6 each day. I didn't hear it myself, but relatives did and promptly called me. So, you write thousands of poems, publish as much as you can, and then get your 15 minutes from dancing in underwear and a ghoul mask.

Just kidding, Jahul is real. He'd be upset and most likely cause my Descension if I were to indicate anything regarding his spiritual journey as being untrue.

He will ascend further. He must.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Vacation and My Dead Ass Career

A long time. Yes. Since last post.

I have this gigantic and very regimental schedule I try to keep, that usually gets distracted easily and generally perturbed by random incidents, but the first thing to go when my schedule becomes busy is the internet. No time. Check the email. That's it. But I've a little time tonight so I thought I'd post an update on my well being.

Strange that I have one.

Painter's little baby body is no more. He becomes more towering and huge each week. His appetite is on par with this rate, and he has grown adept at opening doors, throwing things for the sound of it, and basically fouling up anything electronic in the house (including this laptop I'm currently typing on). He still hasn't found an interest in much speech yet, but does say a few things.

Marriage is good. Summer is good. Publishing career is a dead horse I can't stop kicking. I've had a strong bout of 'We have ceased publication' responses, all year long. I used the Dustbooks directory for a good portion of the magazines in my last campaign and got screwed. I like the Dustbooks directory, but how often do they check their sources? I've recieved submission response letters all year explaining that the magazine I sent to has been out of publication for 3+ years, or that the editor has been dead for quite awhile. These responses make me feel like a heel. Thanks, Directory of Poetry Publishers. The sad thing is that there are quite a few editors and/or magazines that die out without updating their website or removing their ads from circulation. Obviously, no one gets much of a chance to tidy up their magazine if they suddenly die, but the major poetry market books should check their sources more often, to uncover these magazines that, considering they've closed up shop, probably don't need masses of poets sending work their way.

Eh, two cents.

Just over halfway through my new book, Malus Conditus. It's difficult to write, as it is an intensely negative and cruel book. I've wanted to write a sort of cruel poetry for some time, and now I'm in the waistwater of it. It can be a little draining, however, and after a short time, these newer poems actually start to make my stomach hurt. I only hope prospective readers don't misjudge it as juvenile or amateurish (because really, who typically writes the angry, mean poems? Yep, teenagers). I'll be thirty in three days. The 14th. Bastille day, in France. I've been wanting to go to France on my birthday for some time. It's also their independence day. Imagine waking up on your birthday, looking out into the street, and seeing half the town running around cheering and having parades and drinking booze, lighting shit on fire... What a birthday that could be.

And, on the subject of independence days, some recent images from our 4th of July vacation up into Washington.




See Above

Here's one of myself taken by Elijah Brubaker, who we visited (and no, I'm not posing here, I was telling an animated story and he caught me between exaggerations. I was half drunk. Maybe more than half). A barbecue, a hot metropolitan day, a baby with a burned hand, booze... A great pit-stop in our vacation.



And here's another from when I was Painter's age. About 16 months old. The hairy man to the right is my father.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Out of Coffee

Well, there were, at one point, four coffee shops in our downtown area, which is two too many. You should have two within walking distance, really. One for getting coffee, and the other for when you get pissed off at some laptop jerkoff chatting it up on his cellphone about how Starbucks is better or whatever in the first coffee shop.

Unfortunately, now there's one. The worst one, I might add. Mainly because the idiot that owns the place is arrogant as hell and rude to anyone under the age of 40. I'm 30, so I'm no kid, but when I go in this place she starts lecturing me about 'your music', which only baffles me. She somehow believes any person younger than she is a spokesperson for EVERYONE younger than she is. It's agitating and she makes shitty coffee anyway.

There were three others. One was immensely successful, but the owners of the property kicked the business out and opened their own coffee shop. They retired a year later leaving 3 coffee shops in town. One decided to relocate to southern California. So that left 2. Then, the one that was kicked out, and which relocated nearby, closed down to become a christian book store instead. This pisses me off. They had the best coffee in town and were the only thing between me and that other shitty, judgemental coffee shop. It seems so dim to take an exceptionally successful coffee shop (busy busy busy and making a ton of cash), and take it down so you can instead use the space to sell books barely sold at the other christian bookstores. There is no demand.

Note to local Christians: Order your books online. We've already got 2 christian bookstores in our town. We don't need a third one. They all sell the same list of books anyway. The sad thing is that, for the now 3 christian bookstores in my town, there are only 2 normal bookstores. One carries used books only. One carries new books only. None have poetry, which is why I have to travel to get new books, or order online.

What possible need could there be to open a shop that sells christian books in a town that is already saturated with them? I've seen four others open and shut down as well. They don't do well. Why? Again: They sell the same lists of books. I don't see why there should be an entire store dedicated to books on or dealing with Christianity, in the first place. Isn't there supposed to be the one book? I know more fat people than christians, why aren't there 3 fat bookstores, or better, diet bookstores? I know more minimum-wage making individuals than christians. Why not a poor bookstore, you know, where poor people can get new books that aren't $30 bucks a pop. In a large area, where there are more people, these ideas aren't so original. They've been done. The thing is that I live in a tiny town. A population of which is somewhere around 15,000 people. Why we have 15 churches and 3 christian bookstores is beyond me. I suppose there are enough christians wanting to purchase christian books to make a christian bookstore enough christian money to stay open, and I guess they need special books because normal books aren't always about their views. Maybe that's an idea someone could invest some money in: Rewriting classics and modern books to fit various religious themes. You know, at the end of Harry Potter IV, instead of the usual, until-next-book closing, he instead climbs a mosque. Or at the end of 'The Shining', the survivors sit down and make a prayer-quilt and talk about Jesus. Or at the end of 'Lord of the Flies', the rescue team makes the surviving children talk about Bahai.

I'm just aggravated. I'll be making my own coffee now.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Some photos of the road to my grandmother's house...

In the house, near the kitchen...

Saturday, January 07, 2006

This post is a temporary housing of my grandmother's home, which was recently flooded and made unlivable...






Floodwater

This post is a temporary housing for images of my grandmother's home, which was flooded after Christmas.