Sunday, January 30, 2005

I noticed that Paul Collins is again updating his website, in blog form, this time. I haven't completely dug through the archives, but I found a few interesting posts or links: why authors become recluses; some notable literary misjudgements of 2004 (Tom Wolfe's use of the word "otorhinolaryngological" in a sexual context gets my vote for #1); Old Bailey court records dating back to 1674 now available on-line; Mary Wollstonecraft's smuggling adventure.
Tom Wolfe, eat your heart out.
In the spirit of Bob Newhart, here's "Ladies and Gentlement, This is Your Captain Speaking."

Speaking of Newhart, I was listening to his skit, "The Uncle Freddie Show," last night. "Today we're adding the name of a new sponsor to our blacklist. We're adding the name of Pops, a new breakfast cereal. And, of course, all the members and boys and girls in good standing in the Uncle Freddie Club, that of course means you can't have Pops for breakfast in the morning, or play with any little boys or girls who do eat Pops." That cracks me up every time. Though it's all in the delivery, I suppose.

I suppose I could just let you catch up on reading McSweeney's yourself, if you were interested, rather than posting every other article I read here, but in any event, here's Welcome to Cancun.
A sestina to Thrasher magazine.
The Fabulous Friends: Conservative Christian Groups' least-favorite all-star cartoon.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Poor Tanner's condition keeps getting better and worse. He was doing fine until Wednesday night. He got up around one, and threw up twice in short order. While I was cleaning that up, he went outside, where it was sprinkling a bit. When I went to let him in, he slowly started moving towards the door, like he was in slow motion. It probably took a whole minute just to put one foot forward. After a few steps like that, he just sat down in the rain and wouldn't move. I thought maybe he felt he was going to be sick again, so I didn't want to force him inside, so I got a book, and gave him about fifteen minutes to come in on his own, but he never budged. And during all this, he was trembling something fierce. Finally, I carried him in to bed, but he was still trembling, though that seemed to subside a bit when I turned him on his side. But in the morning, he was fine, so we decided just to stop giving him the pain pill he was taking, and figured that it was just a reaction to the drug. But then Thursday night, he wouldn't eat, and was trembling again, and later started moving real slow, just looking drugged out. So we called the vet Friday morning, but that morning he seemed fine, and woke up hungry. So the vet made us a late appointment Friday, and said if we decided he was okay, we could cancel it. He semeed fine, so we did. He started trembling a bit Friday night, but it was a tad cold, so maybe that was all that was. Now he seems fine, except we haven't been able to find anywhere in the back yard where he's gone number two. So that is unsettling. But we have our fingers crossed that Tanner is well along the road to recovery. At the very least, whatever was causing him pain last week seems no longer to be an issue.

Not much going on around here besides Tanner. Mom's birthday was yesterday, I got her Everybody Loves Raymond on DVD, my sister got her a collection of DVDs about the Boston Celtics, and some books. We were going to go to happy hour at Claim Jumpers on Thursday, but with the dog's health issues, decided against it. I saw The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou last week. I enjoyed it well enough, though I didn't connect with it like I have some of his previous films. I would go on, but I watched The Good, the Bad and the Ugly the other night, and that tends to wipe all other films from my mind. My fitness resolutions for the new year are going along at a reasonable pace. Lost five pounds this month, and am gradually increasing my milage running. But I have been having trouble sleeping, which leads to a decrease in energy, which is holding me back a bit. But that seems to have improved just over the last few nights, so hopefully, especially as I get more exercise, my sleep habits will improve. I've had insomnia most my life, but have made great strides in eliminating it; I'd hate to have that monkey on my back again.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

I think Tanner is doing better now, after his condition got worse Thursday night and Friday morning. They gave him a shot Friday morning, and that seemed to help a lot, and the pain pills they gave us also seem to be doing the trick. I don't know what's wrong with him, though, and I just hope that he is getting better, and that the pain pills aren't just masking the pain. But he hasn't cried out once today.

So mostly I've just been keeping an eye on Tanner, and hanging around the house. We did have some excitement this morning, though. Turns out my sister is pregnant. So I'm soon to be Uncle Mike. Apparently they've been trying for a little while, just wanted to surprise us.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Tanner is not well. Yesterday, he started crying out in pain, but we couldn't see anything wrong with him. But that evening, he seemed to be okay. So we planned to take him to the vet to have her check him out, since he was due for a check-up anyway. During the night, he seemed okay, until I was awoke at 2:15 by his cries, and found that he got his toenail caught on the bedspread. It was snagged pretty good, and I eventually had to get some scissors and cut him lose. His nails were getting pretty long, I actually intended to call his groomer today and schedule an appointment. So I was hopeful that perhaps it was just a broken nail or something similar causing his pain. Then this morning, he threw up. But according to my mother (I was at work), Tanner was fine all the rest of the day, and this afternoon, the vet couldn't see anything wrong with him, and while his nails looked fine, suggested that that could be the cause. So I was hopeful that was indeed all. But now again this evening, he is crying out in pain again. I think we've determined it always happens when he tries to roll over or turn around, and I suspect that means that it is his hip that's bothering him (that or some internal organ is twisted or something). Don't know why he vomited, but it could just be stress from the pain. The vet is calling in the morning, and at least now I can tell her some specific information (he's cried out twice just while I wrote this, and watching him, it seems to definately hurt when he turns to the right, and he seems to have developed a slight limp, as well). So hopefully the vet can give us a better course of treatment now. I just hope he doesn't have to go in for observation (especially tomorrow, being a Friday, as I don't think they're open weekends). He's being a brave little trooper, though.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

So, I have become yet another proud iPod user. I'd been looking at them for some time, and in the last week or two began really seriously considering the purchase. I was at the point where I planned to worry over the matter for a month or two, and then buy one. But I was asking around about people's experiences, and a co-worker reminded me of Apple's educational discount, and that it applies to iPods (with their myriad educational uses). So with all other factors still the same, a $40 discount was enough incentive to go ahead and make the purchase immediately. I got the 20-gig version. I'm very happy with it so far (it did freeze up on me today, though it was easy enough to reset), and the FM transmitter I purchased for the car works reasonably well. It is strange that I will receive interference on the same frequency while driving the same roads where it played perfectly the day before. But having been made aware of the limitations in the technology, I actually expected much worse results than I have heretofor experienced. And so far, no real complains about the iPod. I've uploaded 750 songs or so, and have barely made a dent in the available space. I've only ripped a small portion of my CD library, but even after just moving a small number of CDs into storage, my remaining collection is beginning to look more managable. With skipping not an issue, it gives me a better choice of music at the gym than the NBA Jams CDs or whatever it is they play down there. I felt a bit unseemly sitting down and making a "work-out playlist," something very Yuppie about the situation (perhaps its a continuation of the emasculation I feel purching my favorite cereal, now packaged in a pink box with a huge picture of Courtney Thorne-Smith on the cover). But it does make running on the treadmill a lot more enjoyable, and I like to think mine is the first work-out playlist to include both Hanson's "MMMBop" and "Ecstasy of Gold" from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, the latter being an ideal song to run by. I thought I was Tuco.

So that's my new toy at the moment. I am ripping CDs at a decent clip. I've been watching season one of Gilmore Girls while I copy the songs, and was disturbed to see one of the discs was badly scratched in transit, apparently. Since I got it a few months ago, I don't think I can return it, but this screws up my intention of selling it on when I was done watching it. Because while I find the show amusing enough, it isn't something I needed to own for all time. Perhaps I'll buy one of those scratch repair kits. But if you have never seen Gilmore Girls, you might want to give it a try sometime. It amuses me, though, watching the whole season in a short period of time, realizing just how many episodes involve one of the girls oversleeping something. You'd think they'd come up with some other device. Can't they miss a bus or have car troubles to cause some crisis? But I digress. The iPod's cool.

Friday, January 14, 2005

I just checked in at MoPA's web site, to see what movies are coming up, and I see Takeshi Kitano's Dolls will be playing January 27th. It never got an American distributor, that I know of, so if you're in San Diego, this is probably your only shot to see it.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

How to hook up your iPod to your car stereo. Just a link so I can find this later...I am considering buying an iPod, though I hardly use my current mp3 player, with it's amazing 32 megs of memory. But the options to connect to my car radio seem limited. I guess I'd have to go with the FM transmitter, but those don't seem to get a lot of kudos.
The theory of relativity expressed with words of four letters or less.
A reflection on Nellie McKay by way of Randy Newman.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Sunset Bowl is closing. I always had trouble getting a lane there. I imagine that is partly due to the closing of other alleys and consolidation of demand. Now the bowling community of San Diego will have even fewer options.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Now that school has started, I find myself complaining about the lack of free time which I wasted away when I had it over the vacation. I did get a bit of reading done, though. I read The State Boys Rebellion, about foster children of normal mental faculties who, due to poor showing on IQ tests, were imprisoned in mental institutions. The story of the children of Fernald State School is interesting enough, but it was more the background information on eugenics in America and the history of the IQ test that interested me. There are books specifically about eugenics (the recent War Against the Weak has been well-recieved), but The State Boys Rebellion covered the material adequately in survey form, while the main story of the institutionalized children keeps a concrete example of the harm done by the movement always in the forefront. The rebellion of the title is a bit anti-climactic, and the book lags a bit once some of the children (men, now) are finally released. But the look at life inside a twentieth-century home for the "feebleminded," as a concrete example of America's embrace of a philosophy generally associated with Nazi Germany, is quite memorable. Incidentally, Spielberg recently acquired the movie rights, I'm sure that will turn out great.

I also read Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison: The Making of a Masterpiece. I must say it was a bit disappointing; the subject matter is interesting enough to make the shortcomings of the book forgivable, but the prose is at times painful, and the biographical background on Cash has been handled better elsewhere (and he at times misrepresents what Cash's autobiography says, for instance, regarding his drug use post '68). The description of the actual concert is interesting, but for the most part just confirms what could be easily inferred from the actual record. The background information on Folsom Prison itself is interesting, but could have been more developed; it often turns into a laundry-list of names and crimes. But if for nothing else, the book is worthwhile in telling the story of Glen Sherley, a prisoner at Folsom who wrote a song performed by Johnny Cash that night. He proved prescient in thinking that Johnny Cash would be his ticket out of Folsom, but much like some of the boys profiled in The State Boys Rebellion, institutional living left him ill-suited to freedom. The story of Johnny Cash's Folsom prison engagement brings together a lot of social issues and a lot of interesting aspects of Cash's life and career, but one will probably find a few listens of the album more rewarding than reading this book.

So a new quarter of school is now underway. I cannot exactly say that my classes are absolutely riveting, but they are probably a bit more engaging than last quarter (not saying much). I have an evening class Mondays and Wednesdays, which I hate. Though, of course, when the subject matter is as absolutely riveting as the history of literary criticism, the hour and a half just flies by. Actually, considering it is a class I haven't been looking forward to taking, it's not as bad as I feared. The amount of reading I'll have this quarter is a bit daunting, though I'm actually more dismayed about having to carry the two heavy readers around more than actually reading them. If there was parking available within two miles of my first class, I'd be okay, but there isn't, so I'm not. But I suppose what does not kill me makes me stronger. Or leads to a lifetime of lower back pain.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

My aunt and uncle apparently suggested to my mother that I should buy their cemetery plot from them. They are moving to Colorado, and apparently will be buried in God's country. My aunt is being cremated; she will be buried in her husband's casket. If she dies first, that's fine, but I do not envy the man whose job is to reunite her with her husband should he go first.

I think the offer to sell me the plot is a face-saving mood, should family members show outrage after learning they sold their plot, located next to my mother's parents. I personally don't care. And I won't be buying the plot; I intend to be cremated in a frigidaire box. After reading Jessica Mitford's The American Way of Death, I'd be reluctant to make any pre-paid arrangements (though I suppose since the plot has been purchased already, the damage has been done). And if I was concerned about my final resting place, I doubt I'd want to be next to by grandparents (no offence). Besides, as I just recently discovered, there's isn't the best neighborhood. The neighborhood kids steal stuff right off your porch, as it were.

Of course, this is all academic, as I have no intention of ever dying. Death is just something that happens in the movies. And TV, I suppose. Which reminds me, watching the Twilight Zone marathon on the Sci-Fi Channel, I saw "I Sing the Body Electric" for the upteenth time, and realized that is a really fucked up story. Basically, the girl doesn't like the robot mother, because she's afraid it will die like her real mother. But the robot mother gets hit by a car and is unhurt, and so the girl loves her, because she will never die. So the moral, as I see it, is, "Feel free to love someone, as long as they will never, ever die." Words to live by. A somwhat darker philosophy by which to view Small Wonder reruns.