Friday, December 31, 2004

Jen has been writing some beautiful stuff about her family vacation and the growth of her children. You should go read it if you haven’t already.

I was thinking about my own family in that context of how we grow together and define each other, having spent so much time with them over the holidays. Last Monday we were at my sister Sandy’s in Imperial for her forty-second birthday. She just had her second child. At forty-two she is young, I am young at thirty-one. I look young. Without the beard I look very young indeed. If you read this blog regularly you will know I act fairly young and dumb too.

I was stunned a few years ago to meet a childhood playmate who had already gone bald. I see the signs of aging on my peers and I wonder about us as a family. On both sides my grandparents lived into their late nineties, my parents in their mid seventies are more fit than people half their age.

My great uncle George was downhill skiing into his late eighties. At one hundred and ten my great, great uncle Elder was at that point the oldest man in Wisconsin. Sometimes I think that there is something about us that is somehow outside the “normal” flow of time. It’s not lifestyle at least as regards the common wisdom; many of the longest-lived were smokers and drinkers much of their lives.

Maybe humor is part of it. I come from a very funny family. I was worn out from laughing by the time they left, literally exhausted from how funny they are and how much of a pleasure it is to be with them. On their last visit it was my father who had me in hysterics, this time the best punch lines all belonged to my mother. Her timing and wit were off the chart.

Don’t get me wrong, we have our arguments about Iraq and abortion, religion and any number of other things – but all those arguments happen in a context of love and laughter with an edge of sarcasm such that ultimately none of us can take ourselves too seriously.

My father and I were going out of Sandy’s to warm up the cars as it was time to leave. Everyone else was in my sister’s house saying their goodbyes. We stood for a moment looking at the full moon through the trees and my father said, “That’s the sort of moon that painters paint. You could wait a lifetime to see a moon like that.” So we stood there in the cold and watched the moon with its halo.

From the hill that they live on you can see the Mississippi valley in the distance – the area is not so developed that the city lights would compete with the reflection of the moon off the far away water. Perhaps those pauses are a key to our youthful family – we are always on the look out for moons that you’ll never see again. These pauses somehow slow us down and keep our hearts light, even when there are so many reasons to be sad.

My ex girlfriend Mary was killed in a car accident when she was thirty. Thirty is all she gets. Her bookends are set. Her father is still alive in his nineties and if it weren’t for the car accident that took her life I’m sure she could have had a good run too. She told me once that she knew what I was going to do with my life, but she reserved the right not to tell me. “You’ll have to figure it out on your own, but I can see it plain as day.” We broke up in our mid twenties when she transferred colleges. The distance thing didn’t work, as it rarely does, so that was it. When we were still together she asked me once what I saw in her and I told her, “No one has ever made me laugh like you do.”

Happy New Year everyone – glad I know ya.


Zoinks Scooby, I’m getting a reputation as the airport guy – which is fine. Last night I drove Angela out to the airport and dropped her off at the Southwest terminal where she met a friend who was flying in for the weekend. They jumped a rental car and were gone; off to make linguini with clams.

A few hours later I went back to the airport to pick up Mary flying in from California. We shared a glass of Makers Mark to celebrate her return. I spent the gas money she gave me on a trip to White Castle (ha).

Then around six a.m. I took Mary Beth to the airport to fly out to Virginia – she wishes everyone at the party well and the case of Rolling Rock is from her. So, I need to clean and do a little shopping to get ready for the main event.

“Do you just want to take me to the metro station?”


“If I make coffee you’re taking me all the way to the airport.”


“I’m making coffee.”

I bet I’ve been to that airport fifty times this year. To save you a little time on your next visit let me warn you that they have closed off the lower entrance to the main parking garage. So if you’re meeting someone at the baggage claim, or flying off yourself to parts unknown, you’ll need to enter the garage from the top floor and slowly spiral downward. I got the full van search from click and clack at the barricade.

The house is not dirty, with all of our time to clean of late we have restored the under surfaces to a nice sheen, unfortunately clutter abounds and I need to do laundry.

“How are you going to fit thirty or forty people into this space?”

“We’ve done it before, I don’t recall there being a problem. Besides, they won’t all be here at the same time.”

The lease is up at the end of February and M.B. is moving to Virginia so unless I get a new roommate this will probably be my last New Year’s here, and possibly the second to the last party that we have at circle K. Time has almost caught us my friends.


Thursday, December 30, 2004

I was just surfing over at dark horizon and I found this - I think this looks great!


Jesus Christ, could Window’s service pack 2 be any more of a pain in my ass? It is taking forever to download and install this thing. I have decided to be pissed off for part of today. I rarely let myself get really angry, it’s best to let it out in small volleys. I don’t have any scheduled interactions today so why not be a grump. Damn it, now I am chuckling. How can a person sustain any kind of anger when they are always laughing at themselves?

I have been chastised by an online journalist for treating my computer like a toaster. I should think of it instead like a pet that needs regular maintenance – it’s more like a tamogochi. So if we extend this metaphor we could say that I had a bad pet that wouldn’t behave, I subjected it to intense shock therapy destroying the problematic personality traits and virus-laden willfulness and now I have the poor bastard in Mirosoft’s re-education camp. No. My computer is more like Steve Austin who was nearly killed in a virus related crappy operating system accident (that was rushed out and foisted off on unsuspecting dell buyers in 2000), but now we can rebuild him, faster, stronger, better. We have the technology.

Mary just called from the runway in Sacramento – she suspects she’ll be in around four. She suggests that the Columbia offer of disembodied leg management might not be good, nor is the returns counter at Sears a good idea (even though that’s where Salt-n-pepa met producer Hurby 'Luv Bug' Azor).

She does think that a haircut would alter my consciousness in useful ways. Perhaps I’ll soon endure the knife. I’ll be like all those sophomore women in college after that first big breakup – well, perhaps I shouldn’t condescend. Oh what the hell, I condescend to you – you silly hair cutting sophomores. Your radical break with prevalent style as an outward display of your personal wound is instead the playing out of a universal trope that makes a mockery of free will and keys us into Shakespeare’s observation that you are playing out a prewritten drama (as are we all).

Chuang Tzu made a similar observation several thousand of years earlier in China. His advice was simple. Once you realize that your life is a pre-written drama you are then free to embellish the part. Unfortunately Chuang Tzu was only a butterfly who was dreaming that he was an important an insightful philosopher, in reality he was a colias occidentalis chrysomelas.

Ok. What part am I playing? My last successful disguise was that of an English Professor. Now I’m more the half-hearted intellectual who can’t quite sell out cause nobody is buying what he’s got. The New Age wants me, but I don’t want it.

I could be a “self styled humorist”. I could impersonate the literary styling of David Sedaris, or the humorous daring of Eddie Izzard. Angela asked how I defined success. If I knew the answer to that one I’d at least have something to shoot for. Until then I guess I’ll go this way really fast, and if something gets in my way I’ll turn.


Wednesday, December 29, 2004

I wouldn’t call this drunken blogging. I think lubricated blogging will suffice. We went down to The City Museum tonight and found it mostly closed. I say mostly because there is an external bar that was open. Who would be drinking in an external bar at said facility but employees? Once the employees decided they liked us they let us in through a side door and we had the first floor virtually to ourselves – there were only a few other employees and their girlfriends roaming around. How fucking cool is that? I’ll post pictures when Vick gets them developed. It’s like a fantasy to have a museum to your self. Camilla was in seventh heaven and she climbed through the ceiling and under the floor. They are going back on Friday to see the rest.

So we had an impromptue party here tonight. I was supposed to pick Mary up at the airport at eleven-thirty, but her flight was cancelled because of heavy rain in Phoenix. Who cancels a flight because of rain? That must be a serious fucking weather system. My nephews are skiing in Tahoe, but cut their runs short because of the blizzard – poor babies. They had to ski right up to their front door and go in for hot chocolate. I was going to ski up to my door today, but without heath insurance I didn’t want to risk the fall. Oh, there is also no snow here and I don’t have skis; a flawed plan all around.

I was going to ski down to Mike’s for some gin but I never went in much for cross country events, and there is no snow… and it’s like sixty degrees. That’s Missouri for you, four degrees one day and seventy the next.

I was on someone’s blog and she was taking questions from the comments field. Do you have questions? I can pretend to have answers.


So, we have a new neighbor. Her name is Katie and she works for the landlord (which means things will get fixed around here – that explains the roofers). She had been the company owner’s nanny, raising his children, but now he has brought her into the office where she buys and sells houses, among other things, “I’m sort of a Jack of all trades.”

She seems very nice and may join us for part of New Year’s Eve, or perhaps not. She’s friendly, but also a little shy. Her former apartment had three backyard dogs that were barking all the time, so last Sunday she decided she’d had enough. The realtor’s maintenance men moved her and one of them is even helping her unpack. She’s setting up one of the bedrooms of her place as an office and the other as a sewing room. Her half of the building is a mirror of this one, so it’s a lot of space for one person.

If I don’t win the lottery and buy this building and live here forever, then BJ is sure he can get me on at Sears; that is if I want to move down to Springfield. Paul can get me on at the hospital if I want to move to Columbia and don’t mind body parts. I don’t really know if I’d mind parts, as I like them when assembled but don’t have much experience with them when they are out of the context of personhood. The manager at The Chase told me they were hiring waiters. Blah.

Believe it or not I am actually quite good with numbers and have a fair amount of experience keeping the books for various businesses, so perhaps that’s an idea now that it’s tax season and all.

Drunk John wanted us to move to New York together, so that’s a thought.

Pandora has left her box wide open and all things are possible.

Sorry to sound so drastic the other post, I was just feeling a little defeated in the frustrating world of a crashed computer. I also can’t go skiing because I have no health insurance and that makes me sad. Ah well. I’ll sort it out. I always do. Thanks for all of your suggestions.

I’m going to The City Museum tonight with Vick, Camilla, and Angela. I went out last night with John. I can’t really afford all this going out business, but ah well. At least last night John was buying drinks. I had covered Indian food in exchange for all his computer help. I might catch a nap before we go. Night.


The latest from the BBC and the Red Cross on the Tsunami.


It’s taken hours and hours. From six thirty until ten-thirty last night and then again for about four hours today, there’s still a little more fine-tuning to go, but basically I have what feels like a brand new computer. It’s sooooooooooooooo fast. We fire bombed my hard drive last night and then started over building systems from the ground up.

Millennium is no longer my operating system. I now am using windows XP home edition. I installed MS office this a.m. and my new and improved Windows is running fine. I have Word back and all my data seems to have made the transfer to John’s hard drive and back again.

I installed new Ram – doubling what I had. I had to reinstall my printer and scanner drivers as well as my SBC DSL software – all of which had to be updated. I reinstalled Firefox and the new weapon in my arsenal: Avast anti-virus, which is a great FREE program that I highly recommend. I am using the networking router that I had gotten for M.B. to use, before her computer tanked, as a hardware firewall backed up by a software firewall from Zone Alarm.

I feel like I am driving a Ferrari dressed in the latest Kevlar.

Now that I have Word back I have access to my resume and vita which means I can get up on Monster and other related sites and get back into the working world. And I can get back to work on the book.

Revamping my computer was a big domino from which lots of other dominos can spread out across the gym floor like they would on those special episodes of Real People.

We are getting new neighbors today so I hope they like New Year’s parties. I haven’t met them yet as they are busy doing the furniture lifting thing, but I imagine I’ll make their acquaintance before too long. Eek.

The roofers were also here today and we are getting a new roof, so here’s hoping I’m not pulling nails out of my tires for the next six months.

Karl, “How’s the roof look?”

Guy, “There really isn’t much of a roof to speak of. It’s pretty much rotted away.”


Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The ground does seem to be rapidly approaching. Unless I learn how to fly soon, this could get ugly.


I need a job yesterday - suggestions?


I wrote a long post yesterday and then the computer froze - ate the whole thing. I'm going to John's tonight with my tower to wipe my hard drive out after we transfer my data to his hard drive. Then it's goodbye windows millenium. Hello XP. So hopefully this time tomorrow I'll be back in the land of the computer living.


Sunday, December 26, 2004

We are heading into a full computer crash - I may be offline for a few days as we reinvent the wheel. Grrrrrrrrrrrr


Saturday, December 25, 2004

Christmas day 2004:

Time to lay around the shanty mama and put a good buzz on. I have spent much of the day arm wrestling the digital world. I have uninstalled and reinstalled word twice and tried to do system restores all they way back to July to no avail. Virus scans and adaware are getting me nowhere. The long and the short of it is that some kind of virus has a toe hold in my Word program and we may have to resort to nukes to kill it. John has offered to upload my files onto his hard drive and then rain genocide on my infected PC. We will follow the napalm with a new OS as millennium is fucked. We are going XP corporate friends. With firewalls the likes of which God has never seen Usal (That's a Dune reference).

So Christmas Eve is my family's thing - we do the gifts at night. This year a wrench was thrown in that my folks are not getting into town until tonight so I thought we were doing gifts tonight. Which means last night I showed up giftless at my sister's - except for the futon which we could call a very big gift. So we gave church a miss since the folks will want to go tomorrow and instead played poker for several hours. After which we lit a fire and watched The Wedding Singer.

I've been teaching V, Camilla, Trev, and Taylor all the basics of poker over the past few days so last night we moved into more advanced games - low Chicago, night baseball, etc. This was made all the more entertaining by Vick and Camilla gifting Taylor with a chip wheel, a card shuffler, a Texas holdum gift set, and one of those eight person table covers with chip slots and drink holders.

Camilla got me sunglasses, as I am always losing mine. Taylor got me two kids books about Carl the dog, the kind with the pull tabs that make the characters move. Trev got me a dashboard Jesus and a new keyboard for this computer, and Vick gave me gourmet coffee and a scarf that was woven several years ago by the lepers in New Guinea where we grew up. That last one was a major gift and I am very touched by it.

Surreal is term that originated by the combination of super with real - intended to indicate a hyper reality that cuts through the glaze of habit that we ordinarily see with. Getting a plastic dashboard Jesus and a scarf woven by lepers who were in part converted to Christianity by my father, all the while teaching my nephews how to play poker qualifies as a surreal misadventure does it not? Merry X-mas from my odd life.


Friday, December 24, 2004

Creaking and popping to consciousness I can only remember the first dream, not much of the second or beyond. Gene Hackman was the captain of a submarine. A window broke and everyone got sucked out into the ocean as though they were in deep space. Two people survived, Gene and a young sailor with black curly hair. They returned to port with the sub and were hailed as great heroes and given lots of money. Gene, as a older man, didn't have foolish desires so he faired well, but the newfound wealth ruined the younger man.

Moral: Karl wealth will come to you later in life when you're not such an idiot. Ok, I can live with that.

Dream two was about a farmer in Mongolia who was raising a huge field of sage plants. From a Native American perspective I suppose it's auspicious to dream of growing sage as sage is used in blessings and purification rituals. So to quote Bill in Caddy Shack, "I got that going for me, which is nice."

The rest of that dream is lost for now. Sometimes I remember more of them later in the day. Often I'll see an object that will remind me of an important part of a dream that I had forgotten. What if the objects show up to remind us of the dream message? Nah, you're a strict materialist and would never buy that new age crap.

Yesterday was a good day. Erica came over around three and we slid through a six pack of Pacifica getting caught up on her county woes. She is living in bland suburbia and her lesbian roommate is most generally off with her girlfriend, leaving Erica to do homework and go to movies by herself. Her man (hi Justin) is living in Chicago, but will be back around for Christmas and New Years, so we'll see him at the party.

Erica and I made a pact to go see more live music together as I seem to recall having enjoyed that once upon a time. She also talked up Fred's Music Lounge quite a bit as a great bar to watch Six Feet Under in - so I'm sold on that. We had intended to go to a movie, but when show time came we were having more fun simply talking and so we gave it a miss.

She had to leave for work around six thirty and soon after Angela and then Vick, Camilla, Trev, and Taylor came over. Angela brought mulling spices so we hoofed it up to Mike's for some Yellowtail Merlot. So, one table spoon mulling spices in an infuser together with one third of a cup of sugar, three cinnamon sticks, a sliced lemon, and a cored apple equals a damn fine mulled wine. I know your recipe calls for Burgundy, but really that's too sweet and I know you like Cabernets more than Merlot now that you're all growds up, but trust me - the Merlot mulls better.

We watched an Eddie Izzard DVD late into the night and sent all off with much laughter and warmth.

I am gifting Vick my old Futon, ten plus years I slept on that thing. She'll have more sleeping space for the kids when my folks come down on Saturday. So, my first order of business is to break that thing down and load it into the van. Then we have a family Christmas tradition of going junk shopping together and buying each other the weird crap that catches the eye. Later we'll brag about how little we spent in relation to the coolness of the item. So off I go, Merry Christmas or whatever your tradition is. If you disdain all habituated holiday then I wish you simply a good weekend.


I guess I better go Christmas shopping if I am going to. Junk shops or bust!


Wednesday, December 22, 2004

I'm a little bored and surfing a mostly silent blog land - so I thought I would try a meme. I've never done one of these - I don't think - Becky C and I used to do the cosmo quizzes - is that similar?

I stole this from Jay

1. Your name spelled backwards: Lrak
2. Where were your parents born? Wisconsin
3. What is the last thing you downloaded onto your computer? The Fugs song Kill for Peace
4. What’s your favorite restaurant? Minn's Cuisine - or Mai Lee
5. Last time you swam in a pool? When Jen and Derek had a hotel in Clayton
6. Have you ever been in a school play? Yes - I even wrote a few
7. How many kids do you want? That's still an open question - let's start with "if"
8. Type of music you dislike most? Hmmmmm - crappy pop boyband top 40 shit
9. Are you registered to vote? Yes
10. Do you have cable? No - strictly a rental household
11. Have you ever ridden on a moped? Yes
12. Ever prank call anybody? Yes - but not since grade school
13. Ever get a parking ticket? Yes
14. Would you go bungee jumping or sky diving? I have done the sky diving so that means bungee jumping is next - does that sling shot thing at Six Flaggs count?
15. Farthest place you ever traveled: born in New Guinea so if that's the starting point then St. Louis would be the furthest. Recently would be Hawaii and London
16. Do you have a garden? I have lots of house plants and some of them end up in the cooking - a garden of pots
17. What’s your favorite comic strip? Doonesbury
18. Do you really know all the words to your national anthem? Yes
19. Bath or Shower, morning or night? Shower in the morning and sometimes again at night - depending on what the day entailed
20. Best movie you’ve seen in the past month? Sideways or Saved
21. Favorite pizza toppings? Hawaiian
22. Chips or popcorn? Either - I don't snack much - popcorn I guess
23. What color lipstick do you usually wear? Lip color
24. Have you ever smoked peanut shells? I don't have a smoke house
25. Have you ever been in a beauty pageant? Does the best ass contest in a random New Orleans bar in 1994 count?
26. Orange Juice or apple? Grapefruit (with Gin)
27. Who was the last person you went out to dinner with and where did you dine? My nephew Trevor and I had Jack in the Box late Monday night - a more formal dinner would be with Bob and Mary at Il Spazio in Kirksville MO on Sunday last - I had the shepherd's pie and it was quite good
28. Favorite type chocolate bar? Hershey with almonds
29. When was the last time you voted at the polls? Fairly recently, for all the good it did
30. Last time you ate a homegrown tomato? Summer - I made salsa from Deby's tomatoes and peppers
31. Have you ever won a trophy? Yes - bowling
32. Are you a good cook? Come over, what can I make you?
33. Do you know how to pump your own gas? Yes, and change the oil, and charge the battery, fill the tires, jump it, pop it in second on a hill, get out and push, etc.
34. Ever order an article from an infomercial? It's a wonderful life gift set (as a gift)
35. Sprite or 7-up? Tonic (with Gin)
36. Have you ever had to wear a uniform to work? Yes - various bar shirts - tuxedos
37. Last thing you bought at a pharmacy? Fish food
38. Ever throw up in public? Yes, but not in a very long time.
39. Would you prefer being a millionaire or find true love? Preference equals a loving millionaire, but that "or" would naively lead me to love over money, but then all love ends in death, right? But the leading cause of death is life... so go figure, laid or paid you'll think the grass is greener on the other side cause humans are all nuts. I prefer to blaithe which everyone knows means to bluff.
40. Do you believe in love at first sight? Yes - it's happened to me several times in an electrostatic pop
41. Ever call a 1-900 number? Nope
42. Can ex’s be friends? Yes - Steph's regular drunk dials stand in testament
43. Who was the last person you visited in a hospital? My sister Sandy at the birth of my Nephew Henry
44. Did you have a lot of hair when you were a baby? No idea - sixth child=few pictures
45. What message is on your answering machine? Boring give me a job pap
46. What'’s your all time favorite Saturday Night Live Character? The sandwich samurai
47. What was the name of your first pet? Yannah (Enga for Dog)
48. What is in your wallet? No Plastic - that's for sure - cut up and buried
49. Favorite thing to do before bedtime? When is that? Gin thirty?
50. What is one thing you are grateful for today? To be alive, to be loved, and to get to love so many dear friends (sap) - I'm grateful to have a home - a car - a chance at something new - none of that hurts


Bob, Mary & I watched the Packer game on Sunday after dinner at Il Spazio and I wanted to post a follow up on one of the ugliest hits I have ever seen in a football game. As Darius ran off the field we were all thinking that they better get that guy out of the stadium and the state if they want him to survive the night. Sitting there in front of the big screen, we ate part of Bob's gift set of Usinger's sausage while we watched. The Milwaukee boy karma was amping out the media room like gama rays off a sweating Hulk.

I'd spent the morning on Sunday working with Joseph and Lynn and then in the afternoon Bob, Mary & I toured the fine junk shops of the ville scoring several sets of Warhol dishes at The Wooden Rail for next to nothing. A person could open a business where all they did was shop up there and sell down here.

I got the rocks glasses that go with my green Greek girls of philosophy glasses (I had the Collins glasses and the ice bucket in a brass service that I got at a swapmeet with Paul a couple of years ago). They are sort of a 30's wedgewood take on the Ode To The Grecian Urn done in classic barware.

Mary got several choice gifts for her family - which I was about to describe, but it has occurred to me that they might drop by here from time to time. So, best to be vague about Vargus. The deal on the Warhol stuff was so good that we went back the next day and nearly bought them out. Glad to know the van can handle that much merchandise. I came home to a call that a booth is open over at my local junking haunt, it might be time to reconvert my impulse buys to currency. It's hard to say as often I see the same stuff. The people who do well are the ones that move furniture.


You never know what you'll find here at the old fulcrum monkey - perfectionism does not hang its hat in this neck of the woods. I don't expect to be good, but I hope to be at least a little interesting - like slowing down at a traffic accident or an appetizer that you're just not sure about.

I guess I am going to give writing a post in blogger a try. Since my Word has crashed I've not wanted to write the "long post" only to have it vanish when blogger fucks up for some reason.

Stories from my weekend in the ville could be long and involved, but I'm not so much in the mood to write them. For as much fun as I had, it was really a working trip for me. Joseph brought in a woman named Lynn from California who has managed creative consultants for Disney. She helped us triangulate an effective basis for the contract that Tyler has agreed to write up - milestones linked to payments - that sort of thing. We also developed seed ideas or pole stars for several important chapters. I'm learning the business side of the freelance gig from her.

We added an out clause that I am considering - after I complete some promotional work - a press kit, that sort of thing - I could just ditch. I am having difficulty with some of the new age premises and I have to have it out with my conscience. I noticed in the short bio of Rexroth that he carpet bagged the country on constipation cures - I feel like I may have adopted a similar line of self support.

Evelyn is AWOL - so that 2nd book deal is up in the air. The long and the short of my budget contemplation is that it is time to get a job. I've had a nice break though, essentially I've taken November and December off. I know, you've been working a long time without a vacation, but I was an academic for ten years. I was used to that long summer break and lots of three day weekends. On the job for the HAC, my former employer, I worked three years straight with only three weeks vacation - one per year. Remind me not to get into a working situation like that ever again.

St. Louis schools are currently hiring what they are calling subs - these subs will instead be scabs for the coming strike. I would never be a scab or cross any form of picket - my middle management jobs have been complicated by my tendency to side with labor - still I was remembering how good it felt to affect lives and spark minds - what could be more satisfying - especially in an inner city context where a little bit of passion can go a long way. Deep ressions are often served well by selfless stints.

The painful reality is that I couldn't make rent on what they are paying. Blah. Pedagogically I am replaying over and over a bell hooks video in which she compares her Harvard students with her Harlem students - the talent is the same, but the sense of entitlement and agency are very different. To wake and shake those inner city kids would be quite satisfying. There's a paternalistic narrative for you - Paulo Freire would have me shot.

I really miss passion. I've gotten off on this pseudo Taoist side road where the highs and lows have been evened out into the middle path blahs and I'm not sure it's such a good thing. What's that line from Wonderboys, "A heart, once capable of inspiring so many could now hardly inspire itself" (paraphrased). I went to a new age healing session over the weekend where dead relatives supposedly appeared to impart wisdom and explain my current stuckness - certainly qualifies as an odd experience - but again I am only in the mood to mention it right now. Perhaps I'll weave a narrative later but methinks some mulling time is required. I need to digest my deceased grandmother's apology or fathom the psychic's bizarre impression of her (as though the impression in such a situation were the bizarre part).

Last night we had a boys Risk night over at Brad's, John won, followed by an odd wander that took us from The Famous Bar, to the nameless cop dive bar that Jackie works at, to Nick's Irish Pub under Hampton for a game of Cricket, to John's estranged wife's house, to The Dorchester hotel bar, and finally to the Cheshire.

I spent much of my time at the Cheshire with a mother daughter uncle team - the daughter and I got on quite well, but her eighteen year old visage left me feeling Lost in Translation - she claimed twenty-two but I doubt it. I used to wonder why some of my male friends who were over thirty used to lie about their age - Brian and Mitchel were both perpetually 27. Ah vanity, would that thou were number numb.

To continue with a thematic - the mother was concerned because her psychic told her that she was going to have a grandchild soon. Scarlet, the Miss Johansen character in my story, kept assuring her that she was not knocked up nor would she be anytime soon.

The gay uncle and the milf bimbo he picked up earlier at Barcelona, probably to throw his sister off the track, were of the opinion that the non present son was more likely to reproduce in the short term. The group found me to be a charming conversationalist and took my phone number down - so these odd folks could show up again, but I doubt it - a bar promise is a bar promise after all and, while cute, Miss Johansen couldn't clear my age hurdle (nor I her limbo bar - no doubt).

Oh God, I just remembered Rebecca's conversational starter at the Dorchester. She read something in The New York Times about vaginal cosmetic surgery.

I told her, "Boy, you just go right for the center of the chess board with that kind of an opener. No bringing out the horses, no cloy castle, no developing the queen too early - just good looking vaginas through the miracle of modern surgery."

"Well I just want to know who the market for this is. Lots of women watching their husband's porn thinking, "I don't look like that"."

"Why is the porn the husbands?" etc.

I got back to Brad's around four a.m. where I slept it off. I got up early and had breakfast at Uncle Bill's Pancake House with Mary and then I took her to the airport for her California Holiday Jag.

My folks are coming down Christmas Day with some magical fruit cake that somehow managed to soak up two cups of brandy (double the usual amount). So I imagine Christmas Manhattans are in my future.

Bob was in rare form over the weekend and turned Mary and I onto all sorts of bizarre music and cultural artifacts - The Fugs are especially worth mention. I should also tell you about the Warhol dishes, the Friday night wander, the cardboard connection, kid cowboy,(this is all prewriting for when I get my precious Word back), Dr. Benway's visitations, the mask of the red devil, the boob fetishist, consciousness drifting and the odd timeline of the soul. Mary's themes also deserve some rumination, first P-Funk's and then the Fugg's. Each of those hooks deserves to be hung with a coat of many colors.


From The Writer's Almanac:

It's the birthday of the bohemian poet Kenneth Rexroth, (books by this author) born in South Bend, Indiana (1905). His father was a wholesale drug salesman, and Rexroth was offered a position in the business and that would have eventually made him one of the top executives. He spent a couple days thinking about that job offer and finally decided that he'd rather try to go off and become some kind of artist.

He wasn't sure what kind of artist he wanted to be, but in the 1920's he was drawn to the artistic community in Chicago's West Side, where speakeasies called the Dill Pickle Club and the Wind Blew Inn were full of politics, theater, jazz and poetry. It was there that Kenneth Rexroth became one of the first poets to try reading his poetry to the accompaniment of jazz music.

Then he got involved in left-wing politics and traveled around the country, speaking from soapboxes for the International Workers of the World, supporting himself by horse-wrangling, sheep-herding, and selling pamphlets that promised a cure for constipation.

He eventually settled in San Francisco, and California changed the way he wrote poetry. His early poems had been full of references to Greek mythology and philosophy, but after his arrival in California, he began to write poems about camping trips and fly fishing and love affairs, in addition to politics.

In the 1950's, San Francisco became the destination for lots of young poets and Rexroth invited them all over to his house, including Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Gary Snyder. He became a mentor to them, and it was he who helped organize the famous 1955 Six Gallery reading where many of the original Beat Poets first read their work to the public. Rexroth became known as the godfather of the Beat Generation.

Kenneth Rexroth published more than fifty more books of poetry and criticism in his lifetime, including The Signature of All Things (1950) and Saucy Limericks and Christmas Cheer (1980). The Complete Poems of Kenneth Rexroth came out in 2002.

Kenneth Rexroth said, "I've never understood why I'm [considered] a member of the avant-garde...I [just] try to say, as simply as I can, the simplest and most profound experiences of my life."

And, "Man thrives where angels would die of ecstasy and where pigs would die of disgust."


Tuesday, December 21, 2004

From The Writer's Almanac:

In the northern hemisphere, today is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year and the longest night. It's officially the first day of winter and one of the oldest known holidays in human history. Anthropologists believe that solstice celebrations go back at least 30,000 years, before humans even began farming on a large scale. Many of the most ancient stone structures made by human beings were designed to pinpoint the precise date of the solstice. The stone circles of Stonehenge were arranged to receive the first rays of midwinter sun.

Ancient peoples believed that because daylight was waning, it might go away forever, so they lit huge bonfire to tempt the sun to come back. The tradition of decorating our houses and our trees with lights at this time of year is passed down from those ancient bonfires.

In ancient Egypt and Syria, people celebrated the winter solstice as the sun's birthday. In Ancient Rome, the winter solstice was celebrated with the festival of Saturnalia, during which all business transactions and even war were suspended, and slaves were waited upon by their masters.

Henry David Thoreau said, "In winter we lead a more inward life. Our hearts are warm and cheery, like cottages under drifts, whose windows and doors are half concealed, but from whose chimneys the smoke cheerfully ascends.


I read comic books as a kid. I liked ROM, Alpha Flight and the X-men. I found an x-men #1 at a garage sale and got six hundred for it (it was in rough shape). My brother Phil got me into the original Elfquest and Dreadstar. Later on I discovered Sandman, Preacher, and others. BJ and I met when he managed the local comic book shop in Kirksville: Splash Page (You left your Superman hat here after the last poker game). I haven't read any comic books in a very long time, but like any shlep I get excited when they make good stuff into good movies. So for all you Sin City fans - I think we can get a little excited over this.


Monday, December 20, 2004

Home again - more later. Must sleep.


Friday, December 17, 2004

12.10 a.m. and I am drinking a gin and tonic at the Dukum with B.J., Bob, Mary and several hundred others - there is really only one place that I belong on this whole wide planet - and it's here with these people -k-


Morning -

Logistics: I am going out of town for a few days. I may post from the road, but I wouldn't count on it - so I'll see all of you virtual visitors again next Tuesday or there abouts.

I am having reality problems. Word 2000 has crashed on my computer as has my CD ROM drive so I can't do a reinstall. I can't access any of my word files including the book I am working on - for which there is no hard copy. I got up early to work on this and the light bulbs in my room burnt out when I turned the switch on. Big flash - darkness. We are out of light bulbs. I am sitting here in the dark wondering what is next.

Despite my melancholic tendencies I am not defeatist. My magic eight ball may advise that nothing furthers, but I am practical enough to simply change course when met by the forces of chaos. So, it's off to do laundry in prep for my trip. I am going to the laundry mat as the dryer is also broken. M.B. has devised this system by which she fluffs her clothing in the cool dryer with a strip of fabric softener and then lets it air dry - I've done some clothing that way but in order to pack and get gone I need actually dry clothing - so it's off to the 24 hour mat for me.

Why is there this little patch of entropy? I suppose this is constant in all lives and we are all sweeping up broken dishes all the time. I honestly don't mind.

So anyway we should do some party planning. Jason and Tif are coming over from K.C. on January 15th and would like gumbo to be awaiting them, so I am having the Cajun party then. Vegetarian gumbo will also be provided. Backing up a little bit to New Year's Eve the votes are in for fondu and drunkenness. Festivities begin at 8:00 for people who want to be social and have cheese, but get home before the roads get weird. Sleeping space will be provided for the non-drivers.

Wish me luck out in the world as my at home karma is kinda ugly right now.

I could be so much more than I am. How do I get there from here? The book that I can't access right now - the one I am writing - is actually showing promise. It's telling me that this book is just the first of many. Perhaps I should take the metaphorical advice of my moniker - brachiating gets easier when you have forward momentum. Tarzan doesn't plan for that next vine, in his ocean of motion that next wave is guaranteed.


Thursday, December 16, 2004

Yesterday was my dog Sebastian’s eleventh birthday. When I got him in January of 1994 he was just a few weeks old. Here we both are as puppies:

We were a high-energy pair:

He was cute, crazy, and a little destructive:

He gets along well with cats and has raised several into uber dog/cats. Here he is with Jake. I need to get some shots of he and Bozo.

He plays well with most dogs – here he is with Paul’s dog Zoe and Bastian’s favorite toy.

He’s crazy for this toy:

He’s my dog, my best friend, and the protector of our home from mailmen and all passers by.

Happy birthday Sebastian, we’re working on that cow femur.


Brad and Bill came over last night with a bottle of gin and this morning I paged through my call log to make sure no one got an impressive drunk dial. I hurt. Apparently technology has caught up with human nature in this arena (thanks to death for the lowdown).

Yes the cell phone is working again. Ten minutes in the hands of my nephew T and the sim card was beating its technological wings like a humming bird of spring ready to dip its’ beak into the nectar of your consciousness. Well, if I had your phone number it would be ready to. I spent an hour fashioning tools from pen caps in an attempt to get that phone open – silly me, I am become my uncle of old who used to hand young me the gizmo to get it to work.

I finally got some more ornaments for the tree so we’re looking more up to speed there. Sorry, no digital camera. So until Beth or Vanessa drop by you’ll just have to imagine the tree.

Brad, “How is it that you don’t have many ornaments?”

Karl, “I’m not really sure, I must have lost them when R moved out. But if I recall our last tree together we did lights and only used little drink umbrellas as ornaments, so maybe they never made it out of the ville.”

I’ve been in a getting rid of things mood so I gave Bill the ten-gallon fish tank that was just sitting in the basement. Earlier yesterday I took an old piece of luggage stuffed with linens and clothing up to Goodwill. It feels good to just get some of that stuff out. I guess I am literally getting rid of baggage. I’m on a waiting list to have a booth at an antique mall, but I wonder if it’s worth the trouble. I’ve decided that I don’t really have the patience for ebay.

I got an email from a teach-abroad program that I am chewing on. My grad school applications are floundering and I seem to have little interest in giving them the attention they deserve. Do I really want to take years of tests and write hundreds of mostly meaningless papers so that I can give tests and grade papers? Factor in running myself another eighty thousand in debt so I can make forty thousand a year. It all weighs on me and I’m just not sure if it’s the best course of action. The whole world is in a certain sense open to me. Maybe I should be more ambitious; though finishing the Ph.D. for its own sake is quite ambitious. The hook on the teach-abroad email was “find yourself.” I am certainly the target market for that little barb.

It’s been a drop by catch up week. Karen stopped by on Monday night and we talked about her impending marriage to John at the Unitarian church near here – August twentieth I believe. R’s ex Steve is also getting married there. Jason, getting married soon himself, is agitating for Karen to start a blog. I don’t see that fitting into her schedule all that well. Her conceptual construction cells are all occupied on class planning for the kids and I think she’s rounding an identity corner into perceiving herself as a full adult. Getting what you’ve always wanted is a tricky thing because it’s rarely what you had in mind.

So Tuesday night I got a call from Glenn who wanted to check out this new Sushi place over off Lindberg, just past Watson and the Home Depot. I met him out there for dinner and I guess it’s been awhile as he didn’t know I’d left my old job and he hadn’t seen the van.

With the exception of the mildly annoying digital Christmas music emanating from a cheap plastic toy carnival sitting by the front door, it was quite a nice place experientially. They served our sushi on this tray designed to look like a wooden bridge in a traditional Japanese garden, each piece of the roll got its own step. The nigiri hung off one side and the wasabi and ginger sat on the other.

It’s a much further drive for me than I Love Mr. Sushi or Tachibana, but worth it for a slightly different ambiance and an excellent selection of rolls. The nigiri come two to an order so that’s an added bonus and they covered the edamame in a heavy coating of sea salt – odd, but quite tasty.

Yesterday was Sebastian’s (my dog) eleventh birthday. I should post some pictures. Eleven years ago Brad and I wandered up to the kville pound, just to look of course, and these puppies had come in that morning. They’d only been there a few hours. Sebastian was just waking up from a nap and he looked like the calmest dog in the bunch, an insight that proved erroneous when he ate my couch and my parent’s gazebo – he turned the balsa wood lattice work into toothpicks. It’s sort of appropriate that Brad and I went and picked out his dog just the other day. Yup, time to sort through some pictures to give you a little “boy and his dog” retrospective.


From The Writer's Almanac:

It's the birthday of the philosopher and poet George Santayana, (books by this author) born in Madrid (1863). He was the man who coined the famous phrase, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Santayana's father was Spanish and his mother was Scottish. He spent almost his entire life in the United States, though he never wanted to become a citizen. For many years he taught philosophy at Harvard, and his students included T.S. Eliot, Gertrude Stein, Conrad Aiken, Robert Frost and Wallace Stevens.

Santayana wrote a great deal about art and the importance of creative thinking. He once said, "Cultivate imagination, love it, give it endless forms, but do not let it deceive you. Enjoy the world, travel over it and learn its ways, but do not let it hold you." As he grew older, he became tired of teaching and what he called the "thistles of trivial and narrow scholarship," so he left Harvard and spent the rest of his life writing. His books include many philosophical works, as well as collections of poetry. He also spent about 20 years working on a novel, The Last Puritan (1935), about a young man's struggles in Boston high society just before World War I.

He said, "The lover knows much more about absolute good and universal beauty than the logician or theologian, unless the latter, too, be lovers in disguise."

And, "There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval."


Tuesday, December 14, 2004

I had a teacher in graduate school named Dennis. Our round of graduate students had gotten in the habit of calling him The Buddha. I think the term of endearment was meant to signify his inscrutable nature. He’s a semi scruffy, Birkenstock wearing, Wallace Stephens loving guy.

After I was long out of the program I heard that one of his classes went south with learning style tension to such a degree that the students staged a mid class fire drill to change seats without explanation. I see this as a comment on the quality of student rather than instruction. Dennis is one of the most brilliant people I have ever had the honor of knowing and it saddens me immensely to think of him as being so under appreciated.

The Buddha was fond of exploring the Greek and Latin roots of words to unpack hidden meanings. I took a seminar with him on Joyce and contemporaries in which he gave five or maybe six lectures, the rest of the class was student presentations. If I had it to do over I would have tape recorded each of those lectures when the mostly quiet man gave up the façade of letting the students make their own connections and really held forth with his own scholarship. His lecture on the evolving depictions of hell in the Western artistic tradition is still bouncing around inside my cranium.

He was fond of talking about Techne – the Greek word for art – or for thing made. “Relate that,” he would say, “to the Greek word poiein, which becomes the modern poet or maker.” He had an innate sense for the metaphorical richness of language. “Understanding is a combination of two words used to refer to bridge construction, the arches underneath that support the span above are the understanding, that which stands under. The obvious associations of crossing the chasm from confusion to knowledge, or innocence to experience come later and the earlier structural meaning falls away.”

I wanted to write a little about Techne and technology, but let’s leave that for another day – today let’s just think fondly of Dennis sitting inscrutably in his office awash with the pleasures of reading for a living.


Monday, December 13, 2004

I am very sleepy tonight and I’m not sure why. Perhaps I didn’t do enough today to get my juices flowing. I might be fighting the rampant cold that has lain waste to many a compatriot. The weather has turned nasty here and tonight we’ll have a very hard frost. According to the radio it will be our first true frost of the year- whatever that means. I guess the other frosts were just half assed in their bitterness. Out buying groceries today the wind made me wish that I had gloves on. Regardless of fashion value, I am glad my beard has come in full and my long hair tucks nicely into the back of the coat.

For reasons not entirely apparent to me my page loads are way the hell up, I had 165 hits today, which seams like a lot compared to the daily average of 80, and honestly even that seems like a lot. To be clear that number represents 69 people checking back in to see if I’d posted something new later on in the day. Again, that still seems like a lot of people.

I read a good quote today about blogging at The House of Smoke and Mirrors, “I've been a bad blogger lately, sparse on the introspective rambling and heavy on the artwork. But hey, if you want introspective rambling you can read any one of the billion or so other blogs out there.” It seems like I have no shortage of introspective rambling and that does seem to me to be what the majority of us are doing, some sort of technologically savvy form of group work.

I started blogging as a way to force myself to write everyday and I was specifically writing to the only other blogger I knew: my grad school office mate and friend Jen. Since February this blog has evolved. Jason and BJ have both described blogging as a good way to stay in touch and “observe your friends as the proverbial fly on the wall.”

With the recent expansion of my sidebar to include the blogs of many of the people who had heretofore appeared as characters in my St. Louis life, and the burgeoning correspondences I am having with regular readers, I see the possibility of widening the tribe. I like the tribal metaphor of the chosen family, as the youngest of six kids I like to have a lot of people through the mental house.

I’ve gone back and reread early entries and I wince at the amount of energy it would take to revise that backlog. Early on I assumed no one was reading. It’s quite odd to have regular readers in Spain, the U.K., Taiwan, Canada, and other places and I’m not the best at putting out the good stylistic dishes.

But hell, parties tend to dirty the place up a bit anyway so why shouldn’t this blog have a lived in feel. I might undermine my own credibility from time to time with linguistic missteps, but as an unreliable narrator I think it’s important that you have regular warnings about my human shortcomings so that you don’t make the mistake of taking me too seriously.

To me stream of consciousness writing, which is how I needed to write at first to get anything personal out at all, meant forgetting paragraphs etc. in order to get something blogged quickly before my lunch break was over. I find those early entries to be almost unreadable text blocks.

R has suggested that I use my free time to try and turn some of what is here into a book. I think there are some things that could be revised for publication someday, but mostly what I am trying to do is simply get a better process.

Why are you saying all of this Karl? Because I am looking for a “something more.”

I was on Madeline L’Engle’s homepage early today, you remember her she wrote that Wrinkle in Time book that you loved so much as a kid.

She has a book on the writing life in which she says:

"I have never served a work as I would like to, but I do try, with each book, to serve to the best of my ability, and this attempt at serving is the greatest privilege and the greatest joy that I know."

I like immensely the idea of serving a work and serving your abilities. I think that in cultivating an attitude of service to others we undermine the selfishness that causes us to either hide our talents or to over esteem them. I just want to do the best I can with what I’ve got and that means striving. As I attempt to move toward a better version of myself I am in the market for ideological polestars of the service variety. I’ve had some writer’s block on Joe’s book and perhaps this is my way out.


It's a wonderful life!


All my life I’ve had this thing where strangers tell me the oddest things about themselves. Perhaps I should have gone into psychology. I might be a little better adjusted myself. Though, everyone I’ve known that has gone into the field, or practices within it, seems to have a few screws loose. (Does it go without saying that everyone has a few screws loose?)

I briefly dated a psych graduate student who lived exclusively on diet coke and cigarettes. We were cooking breakfast in her kitchen once and she wanted to point out that all eggs still had umbilical cords linking yoke with white, even in the frying pan. She jostled the little sizzling cord with her spoon. There’s an apt metaphor for the walking wounded, playing out the traumas of birth and youth in unrelated circumstance.

She had a police scanner that she would use to eavesdrop on her neighbor’s phone calls. Her last boyfriend had been a cop and she picked up the habit from him. “It’s really odd knowing all the intimate details of their lives when you don’t actually know them. It’s hard not to ask questions when we pass on the stairs because I’m not supposed to know what I do.”

Several months after we dated I got a call that she had been admitted to a psych ward and had listed me as her only friend. The not eating combined with her meds and the stress of school had pushed her over the edge. I knew she had a mother that she was close to and puzzled about why I got that call when her family wasn’t far and we were never close. Perhaps I wanted to see her family as the nourishing white part of her egg, when really they were either the frying pan or the fire. Perhaps she hoped I’d be an anchor for her ship adrift.

Foucault talks extensively in Madness and Civilization about how reason had long been perceived as something that you could lose and if you lost it you were encouraged to find it by seeking for it. Hence the phrase “ship of fools.” At one point it was common practice to place the insane on ships that drifted around the rivers and oceans of Europe so that they could seek out their missing reason on the wind. I was no anchor for that girl. My own shifting sands brook no tethers. I don’t know where she’s drifted now.


Good morning world. Is there really any point typing before I get my coffee? I have actually significantly reduced my coffee consumption since I have been unemployed and yesterday I didn’t have any at all. According to NPR this is not a good thing as caffiene is apparently a powerful antioxidant that is also an anti-inflammatory as well as an anti-depressant. Who knew? Well, I did get caffeine yesterday as I worked Bingo with Hannah and had a coke. Attendance was off by about 25% because of the impending Christmas season. So, they were much less busy than the last time I worked, but they still managed to raise several thousand for the foundation.

I sold a woman a winning pull-tab that paid out $1,100 and there were several large bingo payouts, but the odds always rest with the house.

Near the end of the bingo day we start selling these five-dollar packs of pull-tabs that are rubber-banded assortments of dollar, fifty, and quarter tickets.

Karl, “Why do they go crazy for the bundles?”

Hannah, “Cause they all think they are going to win 1,100.”

Karl, “I won power ball yesterday, I matched the power ball (23) so that’s a three dollar pay out. I guess that’s no less crazy. Actually much more so given the odds.”

Hannah, “Hell, you can’t even buy a drink with that, can you.”

After Bingo I went home for a bit and I then went to the lair of the sick people (Brad and Beth’s house) and watched Saved – which is a fabulous movie if you haven’t seen it. On my way home I stopped off at Cicero’s, which is fast becoming my new hang out, to play a little Galaga. The back room was having open mike night so there was no cover charge. The Jam band de jure was playing fabulous blues for the first half hour and then these twenty somthings got up and started playing their own horrible compositions.

I was going to leave right then but a woman who had been dancing to the blues with an elderly gentleman came and sat with me. “Why are you sitting here all by yourself…” etc. We talked, such as we were able to above the noise, about her current SLU law school experience, a fight she’d had with her mother about not being able to support herself, and her elderly dance partner who had been her high school biology professor.

That dynamic seemed more than a little creepy, they’d been kissing as they danced. Dancing is also not the correct term as he seemed drunk enough to topple over so that as they circled the floor together she was leaning into him as a moveable prop, a wedge to keep the large man upright.

Despite my probably obvious lack of interest given her large & pickled companion, we did seem to be conversing well, until she looked over at the table next to us and said, “What’s wrong with him?” I responded, “She is falling asleep on her lover’s shoulder.” Her reaction of disgust at the snuggling of our neighboring lesbians ended our brief encounter. So as the evening closed I escaped out the back door and she returned to fetch her tottering ward from the bar.


I Am A: Lawful Good Half-Elf Ranger Fighter

Lawful Good characters are the epitome of all that is just and good. They believe in order and governments that work for the benefit of all, and generally do not mind doing direct work to further their beliefs.

Half-Elves are a cross between a human and an elf. They are smaller, like their elven ancestors, but have a much shorter lifespan. They are sometimes looked down upon as half-breeds, but this is rare. They have both the curious drive of humans and the patience of elves.

Primary Class:
Rangers are the defenders of nature and the elements. They are in tune with the Earth, and work to keep it safe and healthy.

Secondary Class:
Fighters are the warriors. They use weapons to accomplish their goals. This isn't to say that they aren't intelligent, but that they do, in fact, believe that violence is frequently the answer.

Mielikki is the Neutral Good goddess of the forest and autumn. She is also known as the Lady of the Forest, and is the Patron of Rangers. Her followers are devoted to nature, and believe in the positive and outreaching elements of it. They use light armor, and a variety of weapons suitable for hunting, which they are quite skilled at. Mielikki's symbol is a unicorn head.

Find out What D&D Character Are You?, courtesy ofNeppyMan (e-mail)


Saturday, December 11, 2004

My cell phone is not working - somthing to do with the sim card - so I have lost everyone's phone numbers and am only available through the land line. Brad and I went junking today. We got him a jacket, a golf bag, and a year and a half old boxer lab mix named Rosco. Not kidding - we went to an adoption fair and got him a dog. I am going back to sleep now - night!


Friday, December 10, 2004

I noticed tonight that almost all the comments posted to my early have disappeared. I was a little surprised, as I never thought of Haloscan as an etch-n-sketch writing pad.


So it’s cold and rainy here in St. Louis. Many of my friends in the ville are at a party that I could have gone to, but I’ve been riding the nostalgia wave a bit too hard so there are times when its best not to push it. Besides, that drive costs money that I don’t really have. I was there so long on my last visit that it almost felt like I lived there again and that’s not what I want. I love the ville and all my friends who live there, but I want new horizons.

So it’s cold and raining and Brad, Beth, & Mary are all sick. Angela is doing life stuff, as is Vick. I was thinking of having the healthy over tomorrow for dinner to see the tree and such. So if you’re a healthy regular contact me for details or I’ll contact you. I could go out in the Delmar Loop tonight, but after two uneventful evenings in one week I must say the purpose eludes me. I don’t think I am going to find much adventure in repeating those misadventures.

This mood calls for comfort food:

I walked down to Mike’s and had the butcher cut a few pork chops for me. It’s always interesting to rejoin the process of preparation and watch him pull the side from the cooler and set the width on the saw. I remember being a squeamish kid and having to bone a chicken for the first time, learning from my mom how to find the joints and all as bone-on chicken used to be the cheapest way to buy it. Custodians and cooks give up the Brahmin’s pretensions quite quickly.

I got three one-inch thick chops and browned them in olive oil on each side with a sea salt rub and fresh black pepper. I removed them from the heat and cooked carrots and potato wedges in the left over oil flavored by the chops. When the carrots started to brown I added three quarters of a cup of water and reduced the heat, I then placed the chops on top of the veggies and left the whole thing simmer with the top on for twenty minutes. I pulled the works from the pan, keeping it hot in a covered dish, and made gravy out of the remaining juice by whisking in a tablespoon of cornstarch.

I watched a classic film noir on DVD – Suddenly with Frank Sinatra and I read a few chapters in Sophie’s World by Justein Gaarder– maybe I should offer a taste of this wonderful book:

“To children, the world and everything in it is new, something that gives rise to astonishment. It is not like that for adults. Most adults accept the world as a matter of course. This is precisely where philosophers are a notable exception. A philosopher never gets quite used to the world. To him or her, the world continues to seem a bit unreasonable - bewildering, even enigmatic. Philosophers and small children thus have an important faculty in common. You might say that throughout his life a philosopher remains as thin-skinned as a child. So now you must choose, Sophie. Are you a child who has yet to become world-weary? Or are you a philosopher who will vow never to become so? … I will not allow you, of all people, to join the ranks of the apathetic and the indifferent. I want you to have an inquiring mind.” (18).

“It is like dividing a deck of cards into two piles, Sophie. You lay the black cards in one pile and the red in the other. But from time to time a joker turns up that is neither heart nor club, neither diamond nor spade. Socrates was this joker in Athens. He was neither certain nor indifferent [about the big questions of life and death that concern us all]. All he knew was that he knew nothing – and it troubled him. So he became a philosopher – someone who does not give up but tirelessly pursues his quest for truth.” (68)


To tell the roof story I need to give you a few facts. I own a nice bar that I removed from a condemned building at three in the morning during an intense rainstorm several years ago. I currently keep said bar in my dining room:

The above is a very old picture, there is much more art on the walls now and those flowers have been dead for several years, but it basically still looks like this.

I used to live in Kirksville and when I did I had (in one of my houses anyway) a back deck with a roof over it. We turned that back deck into a tiki bar:

In the fall we would have a move-the-bar party where we would move the bar into the garage for the winter and there it would be the site of many garage parties:

In the above shot we have Jean’s boy-for-the-night, Jean, TJ, Erica, and Beth.

If you’ll notice the outdoor bar is on a deck with a railing. The night of the roof party the distilled remnants of a much larger party climbed up on that railing, across the overhang, and onto the roof proper where we sang many songs and generally encouraged the neighbors to hate us.

Jason thought he would take a picture of all of us:

But unfortunately it was clear that his arms were not long enough so BJ had to take one instead:

I wanted a shot that conveyed the slope of the roof and so I wandered close to the edge for this fine shot:

From left to right we have Beth, Jeanie, Jason, BJ, and Karen.

There is much more to the story as that night none of us went to sleep.

Soon after the cop arrived we walked up to the Dukum Inn. Jeanie was the bar manager and had the keys – we had stayed up all night in part because the opening bartender Will had forgotten to get the keys from her and would have no way to open up for the second shift drinkers. Second shift is the factory shift that puts drinkers in bars when they get off from work at dawn. So we thought it best to shoot pool, tease Will, and have a bloody Mary or two with the dawn drinkers since we were obviously on a roll.


It's the birthday of Emily Dickinson:

According to The Writer's Almanac:

Of all American poets, Dickinson ranks third behind Longfellow and Whitman in the number of poems that have been set to music. Dickinson died of what would today be called nephritis, or an inflammation of the kidneys. Her last words were, "I must go in, for the fog is rising."

According to graduate studies with Bob, most can be sung to the tune of The Yellow Rose of Texas (he then demonstrated).


Well, I broke the new sleeping pattern last night. Vick called and wanted me to bring Angela some scarves that she’s knitted so she could sell them at work (this is already an established practice for the two of them). Instead of bringing the scarves to Angela I decided to take Angela to the scarves. We showed up at Vick'’s and surprised her with a bottle of Pino Grigio, which we drank while Vick played us songs on her newly restrung guitar. We all sang along to Me and Bobby Mcgee and I told the story of the infamous roof party.

Cop, “"What are you doing on the roof at five thirty in the morning?"”

Background chorus of drunks singing Me and Bobby Mcgee from roof.

Neighbor, "“That’'s my bedroom window right there!!"”

Me, "“My friend BJ just graduated from…(pause) I honestly don’'t know where he went to school. Somewhere up in Iowa. We were just celebrating his graduation, but it’'s late, I’ll send everybody home.”"

Kirksville Cop, “"Well you don’t have to break up the party, just get off the roof."”

Should I post pictures of the infamous roof party? I have plenty.

I also spent some time playing Halo 2 with my nephew (I can'’t get a handle on that X Box controller- my guy is always looking at the ground – I only killed T once to his nine tags) and generally just hanging out with the family. When I was growing up our family evenings often consisted of singing along to the guitar playing of my sister Vick and my brother Kris, occasionally we would play Pong on the black and white TV. The similarities took me back to my Milwaukee childhood, that Pong controller was a bitch at first too.

So after I took Angela home I went over to John’'s, who was interested in repeating the wander of our previous Thursday. I parked at John'’s and watered his nearly dead plants while he finished up a fence mending conversation online with our old friend Larry. I never really knew Larry all that well. When John, Brad, and I lived together in college Brad and I were replacing Larry and Michael in the house that John already lived in. I knew Larry more through his fiancé Jessica, who was a friend of my girlfriend Melinda at the time and whom I also had several classes with. It would be an exercise in understatement to describe Larry as antisocial, we got along fine but it never occurred to me to stay in touch.

I told John that I found it odd that he and Larry had both married the women they’'d been involved with at the time, while I have had something like fifteen significant relationships since then. It’s just a contrast of choices.

So we decided to walk to the bars. Now if you’ll recall I had already run around five or six miles yesterday so in walking to the bars I was deciding to walk an additional five miles, since the bar we were going to is on the far side of the West End which is at least two and a half miles from John'’s front door. So I woke up today with some bodily experiences. I think I have a mild bruise on the inside of my left heel, my right knee is slightly swollen, and I also have shin splints in both legs. Really not too bad considering. I guess I am supposed to rest today and then hit it hard again tomorrow. The hot bath helped, but I suppose a salt bath would have worked better.

Ah well, back to the grind, I mean the coffee grinder of course. Oh, our night out was uneventful. I spent much of it talking to Robert, who liked my coat and my shirt, but he felt my pants were too white to be wearing after Labor Day. The pants were Khaki, but in the blue light of Sub Zero they did look white. Robert is the Llywellen's Chef who was very into Cronenberg from a few stories back.


Thursday, December 09, 2004

My bizarre horoscope for today:

No matter what the weather is like today, go outside -- at least for a while. You need some fresh air and an unobstructed view of the sky. Stretch your legs, exercise your heart and take deep breaths. Don't get too involved in sedentary pursuits -- learn how to balance the physical and the mental. You'll be amazed at how even a brief reconnection with the fundamental life force recharges your batteries. Send this page to a friend.


Oh my God. I am going to be in traction. I haven’t been happy with the results of my walks with Sebastian so today we went running. It was sixty degrees out and sunny so I hunted down my tennis shoes (I bought them when the recreation center opened in the ville), I had a little trouble finding socks that weren’t black, I strapped on my armband radio tuned to NPR, got some shorts and a pullover out of the depths of my closet and off we went. We started at the golf clubhouse, ran (yes ran) up to Wash U, over to the corner of the park, up to the History Museum, across to the boathouse, back past the fountains and the Art Museum, and finally to the car. It took a little over an hour. So that’s a good start right?

During my run I got to hear the entire interview with Jimmy Carter where he backhanded the Bush administration on the environment (they have attempted to undo nearly every piece of pro environment legislation passed by Nixon, Reagan, myself, and Clinton in the name of big business), the Israeli peace process (they are the first American administration since the founding of Israel not attempt to broker a peace), North Korea (their lack of involvement in the biggest threat to the world is astonishing), and personal religious faith contrasting Carter’s perception of the pacifism of Christ in contrast to the unnecessary war in Iraq. Much fun was had by all.


It occurs to me after telling that “Riding Around in Cars With Trees” story that perhaps I am not a Fulcrum Monkey after all, maybe I am a Trunk Monkey! Watch the video.

Stolen from Cheers in the Wirehouse


Kirksvillian Blog readers – if you have not yet read Jane Smiley’s book Moo about life in Kirksville (I mean some random Midwestern college town) I suggest you do so. It’s a spot on laugh riot.



King Tut never saw a Christmas tree, but he would have understood the tradition which traces back long before the first Christmas, says David Robson, Extension Educator, Horticulture with the Springfield Extension Center.

The Egyptians were part of a long line of cultures that treasured and worshipped evergreens. When the winter solstice arrive, they brought green date palm leaves into their homes to symbolize life's triumph over death.

The Romans celebrated the winter solstice with a fest called Saturnalia in honor of Saturnus, the god of agriculture. They decorated their houses with greens and lights and exchanged gifts. They gave coins for prosperity, pastries for happiness, and
lamps to light one's journey through life.

Centuries ago in Great Britain, woods priests called Druids used evergreens during mysterious winter solstice rituals. The Druids used holly and mistletoe as symbols of eternal life, and place evergreen branches over doors to keep away evil spirits.
Late in the Middle Ages, Germans and Scandinavians placed evergreen trees inside their homes or just outside their doors to show their hope in the forthcoming spring. Our modern Christmas tree evolved from these early traditions.

Legend has it that Martin Luther began the tradition of decorating trees to celebrate Christmas. One crisp Christmas Eve, about the year 1500, he was walking through snow-covered woods and was struck by the beauty of a group of small evergreens. Their branches, dusted with snow, shimmered in the moonlight. When he got home, he set up a little fir tree indoors so he could share this story with his children. He decorated it with candles, which he lighted in honor of Christ's birth.

The Christmas tree tradition most likely came to the United States with Hessian troops during the American Revolution, or with German immigrants to Pennsylvania and Ohio, adds Robson.

But the custom spread slowly. The Puritans banned Christmas in New England. Even as late as 1851, a Cleveland minister nearly lost his job because he allowed a tree in his church. Schools in Boston stayed open on Christmas Day through 1870, and sometimes expelled students who stayed home.

The Christmas tree market was born in 1851 when Catskill farmer Mark Carr hauled two ox sleds of evergreens into New York City and sold them all. By 1900, one in five American families had a Christmas tree, and 20 years later, the custom was nearly universal.

Christmas tree farms sprang up during the depression. Nurserymen couldn't sell their evergreens for landscaping, so they cut them for Christmas trees. Cultivated trees were preferred because they have a more symmetrical shape then wild ones.
Six species account for about 90 percent of the nation's Christmas tree trade. Scotch pine ranks first, comprising about 40 percent of the market, followed by Douglas fir which accounts for about 35 percent. The other big sellers are noble fir, white pine, balsam fir and white spruce.

Premission was granted for Internet use by --- Written by: David Robson, Extension Educator, Horticulture; Springfield Extension Center


We have established a new sleep schedule! I go to bed around ten on the couch watching crap (50 First Dates last night), wake up around four with some dream inspired half thought, write personal stuff for a few hours, big breakfast, nap, walk, lunch out, consulting work, dinner is whatever is left over from lunch and breakfast, rent movie, rinse, repeat. The pets are uncertain how to respond to these changes. Bozo is on my lap right now and is learning to tolerate the typing, as I am the only one awake to give the loving.

I got the tree two days ago from the VFW and we decorated last night, after the branches had had a chance to settle. I think it looks very classy. It’s a large tree, actually similar to the one we cut down two years ago Brad, except that it’s not quite that tall and the lower branches are more filled in. I put it in the same corner. I don’t think I have a picture of that huge tree from the Eureka trip. I have fourteen-foot ceilings and that one nearly touched. We had somehow managed to get this monster into, not on top of, Brad’s Cavalier and I got to ride the half hour back to St. Louis curled up on top of the tree.

Origami Christmas Tree Instructions: fold down back seat of Cavalier and thread tree top from the passenger side door through hatch into trunk, bending as much as possible to the opposing back corner of vehicle so tree forms the letter C, fold down front seat and wedge base of tree above glove box, slam door repeatedly until closure is achieved, instruct passenger Karl to climb onto tree from driver’s side access and sleep on top of tree all the way home, spend next six months with pine needles and forest fresh scented car.

I remember Erica taking a shot of us in front of it. I’ll have to ask her if I can scan a copy. We didn’t do a tree last year right?

M.B. has this extra nice cast iron tree stand that is very heavy, very stable and very deep. Stable allows the cat to climb the tree, which is inevitable, and deep means less frequent watering; avoiding the danger of having an eight-foot high, six foot wide, dry, dead, combustible health hazard in the living room.

So I just did two strings of soft white lights and minimal ornaments. Angela suggested that people could bring ornaments to our Christmas party, whenever that is. Oh, we are hosting the New Year’s Eve bash. It’s sounding like a Cajun Christmas party with a big ass vat of my gumbo for M.B.’s delectation and then a separate New Year’s Eve party with lots of melted cheese and hangover inducing Champaign followed by a hair of the dog brunch and a possible poker afternoon. There will be no show tunes at this year’s brunch owing to the disappearance of both the piano and whatever that young blond guys name was. Did he have a name?

We spent a few hours last night with the overhead lights off, drinking wine and chatting while we watched the tree glow. There’s something very good about that. I wonder how this custom began? What part of consciousness does it speaks to? The very ancient religious traditions often view the tree as an allegory for the human central nervous system, the trunk equates with the spine and the branches with our limbs. On the Christmas tree the lights and ornaments could stand in for Chakras and the traditional star might be the thousand-lotus petal crown. We have a yoga tree enlivened with the soft glow of consciousness.


Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Time to talk up the fam just for fun as part of the personal mythology tour:

So my brother Phil is an engineer and when I was little he was always getting in trouble for taking things apart. I remember this box in the kitchen with half assembled electric can openers and what not. He must have been sixteen or seventeen then. People were always bringing him things to fix and then he give them back fixed, except after fixing something he often had parts left over. He’d say, “Well, it’ll work better now. Those parts weren’t really important.” And he was generally right.

So he grew up and joined the Navy and went to Navy Nuke school and got to watch diodes on an aircraft carrier for six years while touring the world. We went to the commissioning of the ship in Norfolk as a family and caught Indian Jones and The Raiders of The Lost Art in a local theater on that visit (just to give you a time code). When he got out of the Navy he went to engineering school in Oklahoma. During his second semester of college he was hired to teach the classes that he took his first semester. He let me play with the campus’ electron microscope when we went for his wedding. Now he integrates software and hardware in manufacturing for a subsidiary of G.E. He has worked for Boeing, Rockwell, and even at N.A.S.A. where he was part of a design team for early concepts of the current space station.

So anyway I want to show you something I had forgotten about that is kind of cool. He’s always got these projects, and one of them was designing a board game. They actually used to sell them here in St. Louis at the Science Center (when the center was less corporate). He was in town visiting and we just took a box of the games up to the center, asked for the manager, he liked them and sold them for a while. I think he still has some to sell if you’re looking for weird Christmas gifts for kids.


James Thurber said, "There is no substitute for the delight of writing...If I couldn't write, I couldn't breathe."

And, "The wit makes fun of other persons; the satirist makes fun of the world; the humorist makes fun of himself."


Here's a toy cause I loves ya.


I’ve just dreamt I was a spy. This is not an uncommon dream for me made all the more predictable by my evening’s entertainment: The Bourne Supremacy. I’ve always been attracted to the spy mythos beginning with Bond films and The Avengers. What is an agent after all but someone who has secretly realized their potential and is now able to act in the world from that realized strength. In a certain sense they are embodiments of the Buddhist ideal: the Bodhisattva. http://web.presby.edu/~gramsey/bodhisattva.html

I was watching all the little extras on the DVD and in an interview the director makes the point that unlike Bond, who survives in the end by his use of gadgets, Jason Bourne survives through intelligence and timing. That sounds nice doesn’t it, to have both intelligence and an impeccable sense of timing. To be able to plan and to act, I have something of Hamlet’s curse – the failure to act when prompted to by the universe.

The spy is first a seeker and then an actor. I think I might start to tell myself stories about being a spy. You see I’m not happy with my personal mythology. I think there are some key problems with the stories about myself that I’ve used to motivate me. I am need of new, better, or modified stories. As a “wordsmith” it seems readily plausible that I have the skill set to alter my personal narrative and trajectory in radical ways, to re-imagine who I am, who I’ve been, and what I am becoming. The question then becomes am I discovering stories that more truly reflect who I really am or am a I shaping stories that we be the guide for who I want to become, and if the result is the same either way, does it really matter? (I feel like William Hurt interviewing himself in The Big Chill – “And what are you evolving into?”)

What would it be like, I wonder, to live in the world with a body and a mind that had been mastered and perfected? That seems like a worthwhile goal, not as an end in itself but as a means to help others. The spy is after all out to save the world. So if a person were going to start on that path they might get up tomorrow, when the world is fresh, and go running in the cold air.

In my recent haphazard quest to leave the house I have been thinking about Joseph Campbell again, The Power of Myth guy. I’ve been thinking about the call to adventure that takes the hero from the familiar into the unknown. By leaving the house I make myself available to unplanned experience, albeit mostly in bars of late, but bars are after all crossroads where people come together without clear purpose and where anything can happen. Or you have a few drinks, spend too much money and go home. That seems fairly predictable. It’s not enough to leave the house; you have to be open to the new when you’ve crossed your threshold and you have to be ready to act.

Carlos Castaneda talks about making yourself available to the spirit. I should reread The Fire From Within to help get my head back around the concept of being open and available for the new. For Castaneda some of the energy for acting comes from not wasting your finite supply of energy on unnecessary things. In The Power of Silence he talks about how much energy we waste by talking… more on this later. I am going back to bed.


Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Ok, I have slept, and slept, and slept some more – cause that’s what unemployed people who don’t come home until 2:30 a.m. do. I was all set for a quiet night alone, enjoying the chill in the air and the December thunderstorm soaking all the area Christmas tree lots when I remembered that it was Monday. Sometimes on Mondays after bowling, when we still did bowling, I would stop off at Cicero’s on my way home. It’s just up the street from me. There is generally a good crowd for a Monday, a good band that is cheap to see, and good beer- they have hundreds of beers on tap. I called John to see if he was up for it, he was, and I also called Dano.

I haven’t seen Dano for a while, as he was working on a republican campaign; I forget for whom as I’ve blocked it all out. Dano is not a republican or a democrat; he’s an opportunist libertarian. In a classic example of opportunity not being a lengthy visitor, his candidate lost and now all the staff are like me: unemployed. Dan is like that: he is always in motion, always changing jobs, always upbeat. He did the first year of law school with the lawyer boys, which is how we met, but found it not to his liking. Since I’ve known him he’s been a broker, a waiter, a campaign worker. He is a career drifter like me. It turns out that Sunday was his twenty eighth birthday. He’d done the family thing and was ready for more festivities.

Despite the downpour, Cicero’s did have a large crowd, but not too large, and a good band. We watched the end of the football game that puts the Rams undeservedly at the top of our division, had a pint of Guinness and went in back where the bands are. We saw either Madahoochi or The Greyhounds, play until the close of the bar and then we went up to The Delmar for a nightcap. All in all a very normal night, a bunch of guys out at bars drinking beer.

I suppose for me the band was the best part. They were a sort of jam band ala Derek and the Dominoes, lots of high-energy guitar and keyboard with a very full sound. The kind of band where you just stand in place dancing absorbed by how much fun they are having. The energy transfers from their cohesion, up through the floor and bouncing off of every right angle in the room such that it just might be possible that you are enjoying yourself too.

There were lots of early twenty something girls with the psuedo dreads and long flowing skirts marinated in patchouli. Their outlines are always fuzzy like willow trees reflected in water. A tall slender one washed up on my shoulder and whispered something in my ear. I asked her to repeat it, but it turns out that the volume was not the problem; she was speaking an unbreakable code. The euphemistic cycle has turned a few gyres since last I spoke that language. I had the strong impression that she was not flirting, but trying to sell me something. Once upon a time I might have been buying, but I am ten years plus out of that market.

Dan is a full head taller than everyone you know and as a consequence women can spot him easily as the possible May pole of their May Day. When left alone in a bar for any amount of time short girls with craning necks will begin to circle him with ribbons of giggles. Such was his fate last night. I’ve never known him to have a girlfriend – I assume he maintains the same level of motion in his private life that he exhibits professionally. I am ten plus years out of that market as well.

Ah well, today the rain continues and I am well rested to face the bleakness of the daytime world in this my latest phase of self re-definition.


Monday, December 06, 2004

Disturbing little factoid on NPR today. Most of the money that goes to “pork” projects comes from blue state taxes and is spent on red state appropriations. Yeah, that makes sense, all the more reason for the blue states to say sayonara. Fuckers.


Did you hear about the Yale prank? Good Stuff.


Sunday, December 05, 2004

In my left hand (when I am not typing) there is a gin and tonic. On my lap there is a cat, there was a cat, named Bozo. My pose of drink in hand cat on lap has been all messed up by this typing. Bozo just went to check on M.B. The pets are now snuggling with the more inert reader. This writing business is too busy. I will begin my day tomorrow with a cold nose from Sebastian, which will cause me to roll over onto Bozo. In pet world I am second shift.

Two days ago I took two frozen swordfish steaks out of the freezer and left them in the fridge to defrost. Tonight I drizzled them with olive oil and lemon juice, sea salt and cracked pepper, and I baked them at three hundred and fifty degrees in Pyrex until they looked almost done. Then I finished them up by pan searing them in cast iron. I know, you’re supposed to reverse that order to seal in the juices, but they turned out great all the same. Searing last can actually give you more control over texture.

I fixed a box of Uncle Ben’s wild rice and had Angela over for said meal. After dinner we went to the Tivoli and watched What The Bleep Do We Know. I cannot say that I would recommend the film. You might still want to see it though. It’s a film that will result in conversations that are far more interesting than the movie that provoked them.

If you’ve taken either a philosophy101 or a physics101 class in the last ten years I think you could safely skip it. If you’re enamered with psychology you should definitely go pop that balloon on one of the films many pins. Alternately, if you’ve been out of that loop on these topics it might be a good primer.

This is the part that will sound obnoxious to people who really liked the film – Angela and I both found the film to be both sophomoric and repetitive. Neither of us thought that the narrative portion of the film was effective, however, for people unfamiliar with contemporary physics and its implications for identity, addiction, conceptions of God, etc. I can imagine it might be fresher than either of us found it.

I did like the explination of the hypothalamus in the context of how emotion functions chemically and the analysis of the connection between negative thought patterns and aging. I just don’t buy the Messages from Water argument – sorry.

If you liked it, let me recommed a better film: Mindwalk. It pitches a little bit higher and is well worth multiple viewings.

Angela’s solid review quote, “I didn’t get anything out of the film that I hadn’t already gleaned from Harold and the Purple Crayon. We create our reality, got it.”

Excerpted from Roger Ebert's home page:

Q. Regarding your Answer Man item about "What the #$*! Do We Know" being a hoax perpetrated by the Ramtha School of Enlightenment: Did you or your readers go out and sign up for Ramtha's school? No, and neither did I. Instead I walked away absolutely astounded by the insights into my own life experience and the direction that I needed to go in order to affect my life in a positive way.

Whether the scientists in the film are "experts" or not (who defines these terms, anyway?), I found their insights and perspectives extremely helpful. The filmmakers encourage us to begin to understand the theory of quantum physics and start to ask ourselves questions that will lead us to a mindful life.

Kiara Lee, Berkeley, Calif.

A. I also received a sharply worded letter from Mark Vicente, Betsy Chasse and William Arntz, the co-directors, defending the stature of their experts and the integrity of the film.

"What the #$*@!" has turned into a sleeper hit around the country, drawing repeat audiences and generating strong word of mouth. I felt a certain affection for the film, although as my original review indicated, the "movie that attempts to explain quantum physics in terms anyone can understand. It succeeds, up to a point. I understood every single term. Only the explanation eluded me."

Among the experts on the screen, I wrote, "only one seemed to make perfect sense to me. This was a pretty, plumpish blond woman with clear blue eyes, who looked the camera straight in the eye, seemed wise and sane, and said that although the questions might be physical, the answers were likely to be metaphysical. Since we can't by definition understand life and the world, we might as well choose a useful way of pretending to."

This woman, I later learned, was the psychic JZ Knight, who channels a 35,000-year-old mystical sage from the lost continent of Atlantis. Still later, a letter to the Answer Man from an actual physicist, Rubin Safaya, informed me: "The individuals who are quoted are pretty far from qualified experts on the field of quantum mechanics."

The film is what it is, a group of people trying to explain the nature of reality. The confusion comes if you think they are discussing physics, when in fact they are discussing metaphysics. There is nothing wrong with having a belief system and using it to fashion your worldview; the error comes in ascribing scientific truth to what is by definition a matter of faith.

The argument between Darwinians and Creationists is similar: Darwinians use science, Creationists use faith. "Creationist science" is laughed at by reputable scientists because it tries to use its easily refuted "science" to explain a belief that grows from and depends entirely on faith. By the same token, although the Ramtha School may indeed have valuable insights into the nature of reality, it is misleading to present them as science.