War Pigs weather, New Years past

When I was driving to work this morning, the Black Sabbath song War Pigs was on the radio, and it summarized the emotions of the current weather in Seattle almost perfectly. I think I’m suffering from seasonal disorder. Or maybe it’s normal to never want to leave your house and sleep 10 hours a day and still be tired. It’s not like I’m ready to go shoot a bus driver or anything like that, but I really do miss those long July nights. Even if my apartment was 110 degrees and I had to sleep naked in the bathtub with the cold water running.

Today has been a real seige with my account on speakeasy. They changed to a new server, and it’s faster, but everything is broken. I couldn’t use my mail program at all – and still can’t. Ok, after 15 minutes of mid-journal-entry screwing with it, I can read my email. But it will take some time to get everything going to 100% again. I guess I have something to do on my day off tomorrow.

And it’s the new year. Since I haven’t taken any extra time off (except for one day that I got to spend with Marie, this Monday), I haven’t been thinking in terms of holidays like I did when I was a little kid. I don’t have a three week break anymore, and I don’t sleep an hour on the night of the 24th because I know cool stuff is waiting under the tree. Things have become pretty lax, which is both good and bad. I feel like having a full-time job kills a lot of the seasonal aspect of life. When you’re in school, you know what time of year it is because you get breaks and you are working to finish the semester or the summer session or whatever. It makes you more closely grounded to the calendar. Now that I work, I tend to forget what season it is. I think that’s why people have kids and take up seasonal hobbies – it reminds them that summer is summer and winter is winter.

I don’t have new year’s plans tonight, except that I’ll finish the pizza in the fridge, go to the corner store for some junk food, watch Conan, and try to stay up late and get some writing finished. I don’t like to go out for the new year, because it’s always a bunch of amateurs getting drunk as fast as possible – it’s the same reason I don’t pull pranks on people on April 1. Let the amateurs have their day. I’ll be inside, enjoying the three-day weekend without the hangover and massive cash outlay.

I used to celebrate New Year’s with my friend Tom Sample, back when we were in high school and college and had nothing better to do. It was one of our rituals, and must’ve started in my sophomore year of high school. Tom and I didn’t drink back then, so we made the small parties a complete orgy of junk food and horror movies. We’d go to the grocery store and spend 40, 60 bucks on frozen pizzas, candy bars, popcorn, chips, sodas, punch, and other sinful garbage. This was back when I had an ultra-high metabolism – I was six feet tall and weighed about 110 pounds. I could eat two Pizza Hut pizzas and still lose weight. Anyway, the shopping trips were the most fun of the whole evening. For the longest time, I saved one of the receipts in my wallet – it was a foot long and read like the inventory of a convenience store. After that, we’d go to the video place and try to find the worst B-movies imaginable. It usually meant stuff like the Faces of Death series, but we also got some music stuff like Decline of Western Civilization or Rock and Roll High school or whatever.

The parties were always at my mom’s house, and were pretty informal. Sometimes a few other friends would be there – Derik Rinehart, Matt Wanke, Joe Gellert, Larry Falli – and we’d watch movies and eat like Atilla the Hun. Sometimes we’d flip the channel at 12 to watch Dick Clark and the ball, but sometimes we’d say ‘fuck it’ and keep watching Hellraiser.

I remember bits and pieces of each year that made it unique. One year, our mutual sometimes-friend Roger Eppich was on leave from a psychiatric hospital and invited himself to the party. Roger was locked up for trying to blow up Tom’s house, so Tom wasn’t exactly nice to him, making covert references to Roger’s insanity every 2 minutes. Another year, Tom and Matt both spent the night. The three of us sat on the couches down in the family room, rating every single girl in our high school from 1 to 10, and getting into these long discussions about our ratings. (I wish I would’ve recorded that). In 1988, our band Nuclear Winter had a New Year’s day gig at this battle of the bands, so most of the people in the band were also at the party. In 1989, I was home from college and my girlfriend came to visit on a Greyhound bus. We fought most of the time, but me and Tom bought a bunch of mixed drink stuff and put together rasberry margarita mix with Hi-C and rootbeer and whatever else was around, making vile concoctions for everyone. He also hooked up with one of my sister’s friends, something that lasted for another five months. I don’t remember much of 1990 or 1991, although we were there for both years and probably cleaned out the snack food aisle of the local Martin’s supermarket both years.

1992 was the first year that the tradition stopped. I was in Bloomington, and Tom was in Elkhart. Since it was dead week and absolutely nobody was around, I didn’t have anything to do. I spent a lot of that break in seclusion – I was still getting over this woman named Cheryl who was very sexy yet very psychotic. And I wasn’t exactly calm and stable either. That day, my friend Cayte Huesman came into Bloomington and hauled me around town for a bit, because I was in the dumps, without a car, and hadn’t talked to another human in almost a week. We ate Chinese food, and I bought a bunch of stuff: a bookcase from Target, CDs from Pungent Stench and Entombed, and the Flight of the Intruder video game. Cayte went back to Indianapolis, and I built the bookcase. I listened to Entombed – Left Hand Path – over and over, while I tried to learn all of the controls of the F-4 and A-6 Navy planes. I had this big map of Vietnam and I was going on all of these missions, dive bombing bridges and fighting MiGs and getting killed every other minute. The CD was on repeat, and was incredible. Before I knew it, I looked at my watch, and it was about 20 after midnight. I missed the whole thing – the song, the kissing, the resolutions, the big ball, Dick Clark counting down… It was surreal, but it didn’t bother me much, and I went back to the game.

So I’ve had a couple of good new year’s parties since then, and I’ve spent a couple doing nothing more than watching the countdown. It doesn’t bother me much, but like everything else, it makes me think of the past.

Anyway, I’ve rambled on enough. Have a good New Year’s, and please don’t play that Prince song.


not awake today

I’m really not awake today. I had to drop off Marie at the airport for a 7:20 flight, which involved waking up at 5:30, which is about 5 hours earlier than my typical schedule. She also had to deal with a bunch of shit from Continental, which has this problem with forgetting about e-ticket bookings. I just spent too much of my time writing them a pissy email, and now I need to stop thinking about it.

It was nice to have Marie here, although it wasn’t nearly enough time, and it was hellish here during her whole stay. Now she knows I’m not kidding about the permanently gray skies, pissing rain, and high winds that pummel the building. Seattle is a very beautiful city, for about 15 minutes a year. Anyway, we didn’t do much of interest or get out too much, based on the traffic and weather. I wanted to go to a movie, but there’s such a poor crop of films out there this holiday. If I had free passes to go to a movie, I don’t think I could pick one. We rented a few movies though, and I got to see Fear and Loathing again. I might watch it again – I have the tapes until Friday. It’s a great film, and usually gets me going about writing and living. In a world where all of the inspirational films are about sports and overcoming odds and whatever, it’s nice to see something new.

Now that the holidays are over, I need to get back to writing as much as possible. I’m still trying to figure out which book to work on, and I don’t think I’ll know, even when I’ve got pieces and chapters on the screen in front of me. I might end up going back and forth a bit. I think that the Star Wars: Rogue Squadron game for the Nintendo might slow down my writing output, at least until I finish all of the levels.

Lunch is over. More later.



I hope you survived this year’s day of Christian celebration without too much hair-pulling.

It wasn’t too bad of a day for me. I woke up “early” (8am) and drove to SeaTac airport to pick up Marie. The snow and ice turned into rain and fog by xmas morning, but the roads were completely empty, making it the easiest drive to the airport I’ve ever encountered, even easier than a 3am on Sunday night drive I had to do once. Parking was really bad, though, and I heard that a water main broke on the rental car level, creating a small lake down there. I got there an hour early, which turned into an hour and a half early because of delays. I forgot my gameboy, and didn’t have anything else to do, so I sat down in a crappy airport chair and fell asleep sitting up for almost an hour. I wish I could do that all the time.

So Marie got here, and it’s good to have her here again. We exchanged gifts and I got the Beat Generation CD set and the Burroughs set from Giorno poetry systems, and a ton of cool books. We spent the rest of the dark and rainy day around the house, playing with the new Nintendo and eventually getting to the IHOP for dinner.

We’re getting ready to leave and do some post-xmas shopping for Nintendo games, so I’ve got to find my teargas and rubber bullets for the uzi to make the trip to the mall a little more pleasant. Later.


Previous xmases

Due to the +3hr screwup on the time, I get to write my happy christmas holiday special (or whatever) even though my watch says it’s the 24th. There’s not a whole lot to write on the day-to-day, since my day was pretty boring. I went to work, and I did a lot of cleaning tonight. It’s pretty uneventful here, just counting down the hours until 11 tomorrow, when I pick up Marie at the airport.

I think that people have kids to remind them of the holidays and the seasons, because sometimes it seems oblivious to me. It’s christmas, but I’m still wondering what happened to summer. I was cleaning out my fridge and poured out some beer that I bought back when I had to start drinking at midnight every night to fall asleep, because the apartment was hotter than hell all night long. Now the wall heater ticks away constantly, and the longest minutes of the day are the ones before my car heater kicks in.

I was trying to think of what significant events happened during various Christmases – I have a habit of remembering anniversaries, what happened 5 years ago or 10 years ago far too well. Last January, I did a pretty good job of remembering what happened on my last ten birthdays. Instead of a linear list, maybe it would be easier to think about random years.

Ten years ago is easy. First, the Camaro sat immovable, parked on the street in front of my mom’s house in Elkhart. It was under a blanket of snow, with a dead starter. I spent the few days after the holiday underneath the beast, melting snow dripping in my face with a salamander heater (which looks like a small jet engine on a stand and sounds like the same), wrenching off the starter motor(s) and having my friend Matt Wanke haul me back and forth to car places while we listened to the new Ozzy album 100 times. I had to change the started three times, but that’s another story. On Christmas, I went to the usual maternal gathering in Chicago, with my grandma and grandpa, several aunts and uncles, and the roughly 2^10*17 cousins I have on that side of the family. We stayed the night in Chicago with my aunt Terry, who has two sons Aaron and Matt, who were a couple years older and younger than me, respectively. After the gathering, we all had money burning a hole in our pocket, so we went to the movies with a couple of friends of Matt’s. We decided to go see Naked Gun, although I hadn’t heard of the movie yet. I’d heard of the original Police Squad show – I saw all of the episodes – but I thought we were going to see some kind of Die Hard movie. The total surprise of it and the great audience put it over the top. And I remember on the way home, I drove back with Aaron in his brand new Mustang, and I was telling him about some girl I liked at work or something, and told me to stop being so passive with her, which I didn’t, and the whole thing blew up about 3 days later, but that’s high school. And on the way back, we were listening to KROK and they played the Metallica song Fade to Black, which fit the mood almost perfectly.

I’m listening to some sappy CD of hippy-trippy solstice songs right now that remind me of 12/25/92. I always consider 1992 my golden year, in that so many people passed through my life, and it was a major transitional point (although almost every hour of 1989-1995 was a major transitional point.) I dated and/or messed around with a beautiful and psychotic woman named Cheryl from roughly thanksgiving to roughly the week before finals, and we had a pretty gruesome split. The fighting left me scarred and reclusive for most of December. I was sort of interested in a person I’d never met; we traded some email and were both going to our respective homes for the break. It was understood that when we returned, we’d meet and see if the letters carried over into real life. They didn’t, but it wasn’t traumatic, and there was still a certain odd magic involved. Also, I was at a very strange spiritual point, where I was going to Catholic church and trying to reconcile a relationship with God, or at least find some nice little Catholic girl to shack up with. Either way, it was the first and possibly only Christmas where I was thinking about the christ part, except for when I was a little kid and it was beaten into me. Since I didn’t have a car, I hitched a ride with a roommate and pulled into Elkhart on the 22nd, and headed back on the 26th. I don’t remember much else about this holiday, except that I was fluctuating between a calm inner peace and a sheer, detox-like depression. Cheryl was a hard habit to kick.

The Christmas before that, 1991, was a little weird, but interesting. I returned to school in Bloomington in 1991, so I actually had to come home for the holiday, in my Rabbit. Getting out of Bloomington was like when all of the X-wing fighters pull out of the death star right before it blew up, for a few reasons. First, I was at the end of my rope with Jo, my girlfriend at the time. We were fighting constantly, the kind of drop-dead fights that end with someone locking someone out of a car in the mall or throwing everything someone owns out of a window. I also had some very heavy classwork, and the last few weeks of the semester consisted of 18 hour programming days, then 8 hour physics study sessions. Anyway, the day after finals, a Saturday, I had to wake up way before dawn, maybe 2 hours after I went to bed, miss a shower and any chance at food, and drive Jo to the airport in Indianapolis. I was already packed and ready to go, so after I said goodbye, I pointed the car north, set at course for Elkhart, and drove in the dark and cold with no tape in the player, quietly laughing and thinking that I finally had some fucking peace and quiet for the next two weeks.

My big Christmas present that year was that one of my best friends in the world, Tom Sample, was returning from a semester in China. We exchanged a few airmails back and forth, but it was still good to see him. The summer before, we were very close, working at the same factory and spending a lot of free time driving around in the Rabbit, listening to the Sex Pistols or Anthrax or King Diamond or whatver we listened to in the summer of 1991. He showed up looking like a POW that spent time in the Hanoi Hilton. Tom’s not a big guy, but the diet and walking made him lose some serious weight. We worked on reversing that with pizzas and Hot and Now hamburgers, and he gave me a watercolor painting from China that’s still on my wall.

Reunion #2 was with Jim Manges, a friend of mine since childhood, who had just been paroled from prison. Jim and I were very much alike as kids, and we still think very much alike, but we followed very different paths. While I chained myself to the Apple II computers in junior high, Jim started drinking and doping and stealing and everything else. Then, in 1988, he was high and beat the shit out of a guy and his wife with a 2×4, which eventually got him an attempted murder conviction, and a 4 year sentence. After about 2.5 years, he was back, and I can’t say our first encounter was incredible. He went from a reckless youth to a drunken skeptic in only a few years. We met back up in 1995, after he spent another year or so in prison for a parole violation, and he was a lot more positive then. But, that was Jim – you’d run into him and he’d be in AA, working, living with his folks, buying a car, thinking about trade school, and then a few months later, he’d be living in a shithole with a 14 year old speed addict, selling bad dope and spending all of his cash on tattoos.

Reunion #3 was with my ex, Becky. We had what could be considered a bad breakup in the spring of that year, when I told her I didn’t want to settle down and I wanted to go back to school. She took the news okay at first, and then she destroyed everything I owned while I was at work. So, to say the reunion was dicey was an understatement. I think she knew that Jo and I were almost history, and maybe… hell, I better not speculate, since if there is one thing I know, I cannot predict these things. Anyway, we spent a little time together, and she gave me a leather diary to replace one she destroyed, since I didn’t give a fuck about anything except my journal. I didn’t write much in that journal, except everything that happened over the break.

Which was… well, I had my first PC with me, which was a total frankenstein machine with which I dialed up to Bloomington, and edited some letters on a floppy disk which I still have. I had a possible interest while the Jo thing was dissolving, someone that looked a lot like Molly Ringwald and seemed interested in me when I wasn’t interested in her and vice versa. I bought a new keyboard in South Bend, and Tom bought me a cheesy porno mag one night we were out running around Mishawaka. I bought the new guns and roses albums on tape and spent a lot of time listening to them. I also spent the bulk of my cash on a very expensive Aiwa walkman, which didn’t leave my side for about the next ten months, until I lost it. On the day of Christmas, we were in Chicago, and I remember my cousin Matt had his daughter there with him – she was only a few months old. He kept telling me that the new Skid Row album was almost thrash, and I ignored him. Jo and I fought on the phone a few times, and I knew we were at like Defcon 1, if that. The six-month relationship ended when we both got back into town.

My mom married her second husband, Tom, when I was a Freshman in high school, but they’d been together for a few years before that. I spent a lot of holidays with his family, and a lot of my memories of the 25th and especially the 24th center around them. His parents were both around, and so was his grandmother. She was married on the 24th, so it was a family gathering day, mostly to have a drink or two, take pictures, and maybe eat a dinner. I typically loathe family gatherings, because people always struggle to ask me the stupidest possible questions about computers or whatever. Since I don’t have a wife or kids or medical problems I’m willing to discuss or any of the other traditional things that people talk about at these gatherings, my best strategy was to bring a good book and sit away from the football game on TV. Although I wasn’t keen on their choice of food or the discussion (this was like Johnny Carson’s ideal demographic) I still remember going there a lot.

The gatherings at my grandma and grandpa’s in Chicago (maternal) was much more jovial. First, I don’t even know how many aunts and uncles I have on my mom’s side. I think it’s like 7 or 8 or 11, but I don’t even know. It’s a lot. And when you figure that my mom is toward the bottom of the tree, and my oldest aunts and uncles and kids that were as old as my youngest aunts and uncles, you’re basically talking about so many cousins that you need some kind of software package to keep track of them. My grandparents lives in the typical Chicago three-story apartment building, and the first floor flat was filled every year for the holidays. I got to see all of my favorite cousins, all of the ones that were just about the age of me and my sisters, and we all had toys with us. My grandfather didn’t give us toys – it was cards with money, in amounts that conformed to this mysterious yet systematic formula based on number of kids, age, and marital status. To us kids, it meant a ten-spot every year, which was fine. And the food – my grandma would cook all day, beautiful roast beef and gravy, real mashed potatoes, beautiful rolls – they had a huge wooden table in the dining room, and it would be filled with hot food that was better than anything you could get in any restaurant. If you were old enough, you got the real plates – the ones with the blue china pattern, and cloth napkins. And after dinner, there were these incredible cookies with powdered sugar. It was impossible not to eat when you visited their house, and Christmas was the pinnacle of this philosophy. There were hard candies, cookies, cakes, salads, breads – the best pumpernickel bread that you could get outside of New York City or maybe Poland itself. And when I got older and the toys got boring, all of my other cousins got older too, and we’d have fun listening to my Grandpa’s crazy stories about the depression or the Cubs or how he worked on O’Hare airport.

Great Christmas memories. It’s weird how I’ve seen so many eras in such a short time. I remember at my Grandma’s funeral, in 1989, when I was in the funeral home with a bunch of my cousins and my cousin Joey say “This means no more Christmases at grandma and grandpa’s. No more of those cookies with the powdered sugar. This is the end of an era.”

But hey, eras begin and end. This is the second Christmas I will spend away from my family, but it doesn’t freak me out too much. It’s the first Christmas I will spend with Marie, and even if we spend the whole day playing Diddy Kong Racing, it will still be cool.

Speaking of which, I need to fold one more load of laundry, and then try to sleep. I don’t know if I will get to update anything over break, so have a good one.


Nintendo 64

Last night, I bought a Nintendo-64, a second controller, Diddy Kong Racing, and the South Park game. It’s a present for Marie, sort of like when Homer got Marge a bowling ball. No, really, she used to have one, and I thought it would be fun. I already told her about it, so I’m not outing myself by posting this. Of course, I set all of the stuff up last night, and stayed up way too late playing it.

First impressions: I’ve spent almost zero time with the Playstation or N64, so I was going into this as a complete novice. First, I like the way the console looks – it reminds me of a piece of Sun hardware, or maybe an SGI. It’s also very simple, with few switches, buttons, or jacks. I’m fortunate in that my video/audio setup at home is very generous in facilitating the video/audio setups. People with older TVs would probably have much more trouble dealing with the composite video out and stereo audio out. The controllers are a bit weird, and I still get screwed up on how to hold them and use the 90,000 assorted buttons. They are pretty comfortable after a while, though.

I first started with the South Park game. I expected more realism than other 8 and 16 bit games, but this totally blew me away. It has the whole introduction to the show, and the graphics look almost exactly like the TV show. Although you can tell the shapes are computer generated, it is not blocky or pixelated at all – it is very smooth and shadowed correctly, and looks truly amazing for something on a TV. The sound is even better – it’s stereo, and I ran it through my receiver, which added even more to the effect.

The South Park game is fun – you play one of the four kids, and then you meet up with the other 3 and do various things in the town, trying to finish each level. I haven’t played games that much, and I usually play very specific ones, so I was getting my ass kicked over and over. It is funny to hear Cartman die – all of the characters talk, and even swear (it is beeped out, mostly). But I wanted to see the whole game. So, I got on dejanews, did a search, and found a page of cheat codes. The codenames are funny, and let you enable different characters and other stuff. I think ASSMAN gives you invulterability. If you have the game and are trying to find the codes, email me and I will send them to you. I found a code that turned on everything, and started kicking ass. There’s one weapon which is a terrance and phillip doll, which is like a grenade of flatulence. You can throw a whole bunch of them and leave a path of deadly landmines which produce giant mushroom clouds of green gas. I also had a lot of fun with the cow launcher, and the chicken sniper weapon. At the start of each round, there is a little cartoon that tells you your mission, usually with Chef talking to the kids. It’s very cool – I need to get in there and start going through all of the levels.

I played Diddy Kong Racing a few times, although I spent so much time on South Park that I couldn’t do much more than run a few races. It’s very cool, the graphics look like a Disney cartoon and the sounds are very cute. If I had a kid, I would get them a N-64 just because so many of the games are like this. I couldn’t figure out the controls, but I will mess with it a bit more. Marie likes the game a lot, so we will play it more when she gets here.

Writing, of course, is at a dead stop. Maybe tonight I’ll get a few lines done, but now I need to clean the house and shop for Marie’s visit. I think my sleep schedule is about up to date now, so that’s cool. I also go to the dentist in a couple of hours, and find out how much heavy construction they’ll be doing over the next few months.

I found an odd page on the technology of Star Wars at


The smell of a VW

I wish I could describe the way a VW Rabbit smells. I was thinking about this last night, while writing the book. One time I was watching an episode of Wings (the airplane show, not the sitcom) or some other Discover channel documentary on the B-52 and one of the pilots mentioned that all of the planes had a distinct smell, of old wiring, new electronics, jet fuel, spilled Cokes, and everything else. You’d think any military hardware would be sterile inside, but it’s usually much worse than an old car. My old VW is about the same vintage as a MiG-25, and similar in many ways – the silver color, the boxy construction, the minimalist instruments and controls, and the mix of comfort and discomfort that makes it a unique piece of machinery. You can reach every piece of the engine on a VW and easily strip the whole thing apart with five wrenches, but there’s no good place to rest your left foot when it’s off the clutch. The MiG-25 can fly over Mach 3 and high enough so you can see the curve of the earth, but it uses only vacuum tubes in its circuitry, and it’s far too easy to push an engine to failure.

The smell – I think of this because I spent so much time in my car this weekend, stuck in traffic. It snowed about 4 microns on Saturday, which meant every fucking soccer mom and Microsoft yuppie with a 4×4 SUV ended up in a ditch or shutting down a floating bridge because they thought they paid $60,000 so they could drive and brake at highway speeds on glare ice. Anyway, this meant the car got nice and toasty inside, and while I was strapped into my minimalist little seat in my aluminum-silver cockpit, the odor of a 20 year old VW made me think of my history with these little cars.

First, the West Germans made great little cars that were fun to drive and still got 30 or 40 MPG, but they had horrible wiring systems. My current VW has about 10 wiring problems, ranging from an intermittent rear defogger to no horn or reverse gear lights. For a while, my front turn signals wouldn’t blink when the headlights were on, and then they miraculously healed. Same with the dome light, although it comes and goes. On my last VW, all of the dash warning lights would turn on when it was raining, and on the one before, a buzzer would sound if it got too wet out. The substandard wiring gave the car one of its smells – a mix of old rubber insulation and ozone that increased when the temp went up. This mixed with the paper and cardboard used under the dash, which gives off the aroma of old books – not the paper and dust mite smell, but the thin cardboard cover of a 1960’s owner’s manual. All of this mixes with the smell of a rich gas engine, or the unique odor of the thin, black dust given off by a tiny diesel powerplant. Add the slight smell of oil and an aging plastic dashboard, and you start to get the idea.

It’s odd how unique the VW aroma is, yet how standard it is among the make. A couple of years ago, I was in Snoqualmie at a company picnic and saw two Rabbits that had been tricked out for some kind of racing – they had no doors, one seat, some NASCAR-esque netting, and so forth. I looked at the cars for a while, feeling some nostalgia for my old VW. When I climbed in, it smelled just like the interior of my old VW. And it’s not like what my old Camaro smelled like, the rich smell of 8 cylinders rumbling, with Armor-All, carpet cleaner and Turtle Wax all over the interior.

Maybe I’m nuts – I have a sensitive nose, but I can’t describe smell that good. It reminds me of different times, eras. When I spray Lysol, it reminds me of the summer of 1992, when I used to spray the shit constantly in my tiny roominghouse apartment on Mitchell Street. Every cologne I own is a time machine going back to when I first started using it – same with every shampoo, cleaning product, and candle. If I knew anything at all about differentiating this stuff verbally, I could probably get a job designing perfumes or something. Maybe not…

Speaking of time machines, I am vageuly starting to study them a bit more, so maybe I will go from Summer Rain tight into working on the third book again. I haven’t written in here all weekend, but I spent a lot of time reorganizing and moving around stuff in Summer Rain‘s third book so it fell into a logical order. I think I had about 7 or 8 weekends in August, and that didn’t work out. The shuffle went without a major hitch, but now I’m almost out of energy to continue with it. I think I’ll plow away until Marie gets here in 4 days, and then start something else after she leaves – maybe Rumored, maybe the yet-unnamed time travel book.

I better go. It’s snowing again and I’m worried about making it home. The Rabbit drives excellent on the ice – it’s such a light car, and front wheel drive. The Rabbit’s weight is distributed just right so when your wheels don’t let you turn anymore, you can swing the weight of the car around and aim it almost perfectly. But the fucking idiots out there are probably causing 200 car pileups on the freeway, and if my 3000 pound Rabbit got hit by a 9000 pound Suburban that didn’t know what the fuck they were doing, well, you could guess who wouldn’t be updating his journal for a while.


hit the 500 CD mark

Last night I unofficially hit the 500 CD mark. I say unofficially because I have two pending orders on the way (now 3) and they will put me over the mark. Last night was a huge shopping night, and I got some great stuff. I finished my collection of easily-attainable Dream Theater albums, meaning I have to start hitting the bootleggers and/or track down all of their various import singles.

Side note: Dream Theater’s drummer collects bootlegs – of his own band. And when you’re talking about a progrock band so exact with their sound, and a listening demographic of a bunch of people with cool toys like portable DAT players, that means a lot of bootlegs.

I need to cut this short today, because I have a meeting right after lunch, and I need to get about a million other things done first.


9 CDs away from 500

I’ve been listening to this new live Dream Theater CD so much, I want to go out and buy a guitar or a drum set or something. But I know I’ll end up spending $400 on a guitar and within a week I’ll realize I don’t have the persistence to learn how to play the damn thing, and then I’ll sell it for $200. So I’d rather just cut to the chase and spend the $200 on CDs tonight.

(BTW, after two orders show up on my doorstep, I will only be 9 CDs away from 500. And I have enough silver certificates to get a free one tonight. And if I shop around, that could be a free double album. So I might sneak in by my self-imposed 12/31 deadline.)

I should mention that there is a new Andrew Dice Clay website at Not much there yet, but you can order his latest 2-CD set and get a bonus CD. I think it is a mail-order only thing – he probably lost his record deal when American went under and got bought out by Sony. Clay was on Politically Incorrect the other night, and made me realize two things: he is a genius and Kennedy is an idiot.

Yesterday was a wash for any productive work. I tried to stay awake long enough to get some writing done, but I fell asleep for a couple of hours and awoke to find that my heater had been on full blast the whole time, and the apartment felt like a pottery kiln. I had to open all the windows to get it back to a reasonable temperature, and I spent the rest of the evening babbling in a half-daze.

I did do some reading – I’m trying to get through this Thomas Pynchon book of short stories. He’s very critical of his early work, and that helps me – it’s cool to see the mistakes that a good writer did early in their career. I’m on this big kick about trying to reinvent my writing style. I know that’a big cop-out, but I have some ideas floating around and once I get my shit together, I’ll start with some smaller practice stories or something.

I have to go eat now.


rain, no caffeine

I’m tired today. And I’m trying to stay off caffeine, which is a bad combination. Last night, when I was falling asleep, I came up with an entirely new idea for a book, and even outlined most of it in my head. I barely remember it – it’s like a strange dream sequence, with events spinning and changing in my head for no reason. I’d like to write a whole book like that, progressing like a dream instead of a linear story. I’ll add it to my list of stuff I want to do when I get the time.

It rained continually this weekend, like I was in some kind of southeast asian monsoon or something. Even worse, it was cold, and the rain was heavy. This whole description sounds very cliche, but the whole thing was demoralizing. Today, the sun is almost out and it looks okay, but it will be darker than midnight by four o’clock, and it will probably start raining before I drive home. Driving is the worst – it took me an hour to make the ten minute drive home from the mall on Saturday. When it rains, the roads fill with people and then slow to a crawl. I-5 becomes a parking lot of people, and there are never any good, alternate routes. Staying inside all weekend is the only option.

Despite the fact that I only left the house three times all weekend, I didn’t get a lot done writing-wise. I did put in more than a few hours of work, but I’m starting to get bored of Summer Rain. I don’t want to keep plodding through chapters like I do now, but I don’t have the focus or attention span to start working on Rumored again. I figure if I continue at my current rate, I will be more or less done with this draft by the end of January.

I got the new Dream Theater live album. It’s 2 CDs and both of them are completely full of stuff, which is cool. I’m sick of buying a 2 CD set and the second one has like 20 minutes of stuff on it. I saw Dream Theater on this tour, although I didn’t have their newest album with I saw them, so I didn’t know what to expect of the new stuff. I’ve since bought Falling Into Infinity and I love it, so hearing the stuff live is incredible. I’ve been a Dream Theater fan since before their first album – a guy at a record store in Elkhart gave me the advance tape, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

I’ve got a sandwich to eat, so I better split.


New CD club bounty

I’ve been listening to the G3 live album all day, and I’ve realized that I really need to see Steve Vai live again. His albums are incredible, but his live guitar is mind-boggling. Everything is twice as complex and four times as fast. And it’s all incredibly exact. He only has three tracks on the CD, but the stuff he did at G3 really blew me away. I went on November 8, 1996 at sat in about the 10th row. I think his sound is perfectly engineered for people in the first few rows who are wearing earplugs. The low end bass sounded completely alien – it was totally undistorted, but felt like it was ripping through my chest and rumbling my bones. And he was all over the place, holding his guitar to the side, high, low, above his head, not even looking at it and playing things inhumanly fast yet hitting every note perfectly. The way he bent notes, wrapped them up and down and used the whammy at the same time, it felt like he was talking to me telepathically, through his guitar. His face would like like he was in a conversation, but the sound wasn’t coming from his mouth. Sure, Satriani was good both times I saw him, but Vai – it must’ve felt like this when people saw Hendrix for the first time 30 years ago. I wish he’d come out with a 3-CD live album for his last tour. He’s allegedly working on some huge 8-CD boxed set, so maybe it will have some cool stuff.

I got a bunch of CDs yesterday. Well, 7 – new CD club. I’m trying to clear out their AC/DC and Ozzy back-catalog. I’m about 18 CDs short of 500, which was my goal for the year. My next goal is to find a place to put all of them, since they are currently stacked on top of every piece of A/V gear I own.

I’m not in the journaling mood today. I’m going to go eat my sandwich.

12/11/98 20:45

I guess it’s a day to talk about what’s in the CD player. Now it’s Rush again, and I’m listening to all of these old Rush songs that remind me of spending an entire summer on a ten-speed bike, or in the basement putting together model airplanes. It’s really amazing how much scope my career with Rush really covers. One summer, I’m listening to the brand-spanking-new Grace Under Pressure and mowing lawns to save up for a drum set, and only a couple albums later, I’m listening to Presto in my walkman as I trod around the Indiana University campus. It’s pretty eerie when you think about it.

For the longest time, I thought that the last line of Rush’s song “The Trees” was “And the trees were all kept equal by magic acts and song.” It’s really “hatchet, axe, and saw.” And there’s still this Dokken song where I swear the guy is saying “your cufflinks are gold” but I know it has to be something else. Speaking of Dokken, I watched almost all of one of those greatest hits of the 80’s infomercials and almost ordered all 125 dollars’ worth of CDs. Several observations: First, the girl doing the commercial is the model who was in the Cherry Pie video. She is allegedly two years older than me, which is about right. So, while I was mixing paint at Monkey Wards for $3.50 an hour, she was only two years older and probably driving a pink Ferrari or something. Also, have you noticed the large number of vaguely metal-based songs that were popular back then? I don’t even remember that much of a bias, even from the middle of Indiana, but I guess it was true. About every third time I talk to Ray, we have a huge disussion about this. Right now, part of the country’s default musical taste is R&B-type stuff, and the rest is “alternative”, meaning almost nobody listens to metal anymore. Ray wouldn’t listen to Poison if they were the equivalent of, say, Green Day, but it would mean a lot of people would be willing to make the transition from Poison to Motley Crue to Metallica to Motorhead to Rotting Christ. Somebody listening to the Backstreet Boys isn’t going to follow the same path.

I don’t care too much, since I don’t listen to the radio much, and selling metal CDs is not my livelihood. But I’ve noticed that I don’t have a default preference for music anymore. I liked it back in high school when I was into bands like Anthrax and Megadeth, and there were tons of other similar bands. I’d buy a tape or two every week, and when I got to the store, the people there would point me to new stuff or cool bands. I didn’t make much money back then and couldn’t afford CD binges like now, so my biggest problem was that there were hundreds of new things I wanted, and I could only buy a few a month. Now I seem to drift, and I buy a lot of old stuff. I feel somewhat cheated when buying something old – it’s like watching an old Seinfeld rerun vs. going to see a new, really good movie. The Seinfeld rerun is great, but there’s a certain something in seeing something new. Sometimes I wish I was into rap or techno or jazz or punk or industrial just so I could go to the store and say “I’m into this scene” and have the guy behind the counter hand me some new stuff that I’d like. But now I pick through the racks and come up with some really disjointed selections.

I have almost 500 CDs, but sometimes spend 15 minutes trying to find something to listen to. Is that pathetic?