The ghost of Thanksgiving past

Happy Thanksgiving. I give thanks that my heat is now working, and I celebrated by staying up until four in the morning working on a short story. Now I’m eating breakfast/lunch before I go to my friend Julie’s house for a thanksgiving dinner later in the day.

This is the eighth year I didn’t spend Thanksgiving back in Indiana with my folks. In Bloomington, I managed to get back north every year, even though some years were a total bitch, especially when I didn’t have a car. And when I made it back, I spent most of the time watching TV and getting slow, not really talking to anyone except maybe my sisters and of course my friend Ray. On the way back each time, I felt ripped off that I put so much time, money, and effort on the line to make the trip, and there wasn’t anything for me.

Once I got to Seattle in 95, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t spend a thousand bucks and two full days on planes just to eat a turkey dinner and then watch TV on a couch for 48 hours. So I laid down the law, and said I wouldn’t come back anymore, which caused some hysterics on the parent front. But even the stock Thanksgiving dinners went away; my mom’s parents were both dead, so the classic trip to grandma’s in Chicago was now just a memory. And the backup, dinner with my stepdad’s family, was also nixed, because my mom divorced him. Even if I did come back, I don’t know what would have been there for me.

In 95, I had dinner with Bill Perry, his wife Jen, and the then-infant Liam. They were also stranded from family back in Indiana, so they cooked a great dinner and we ate in Mountlake Terrace. Nice, small, comfy, and not a bad transition from family to friends.

In 96, I just started dating Karena a month before, so that dinner in Southwest Washington was of the meet-the-parents variety. What she didn’t tell me was that her parents were moving the next day, and needed some manpower to help them dig a few decades of still-unpacked stuff into vans. This was the worst possible move imaginable; every appliance had to move, and her parents were collectors of everything imaginable, all of it still unboxed. It’s hard to pack and move someone else’s stuff, when you don’t know what’s trash and what’s treasure. And it’s even harder when the apartment is a second-floor walkup, and it’s 38 degrees outside. We made at least three or four trips with a caravan of trucks and cars, and the capper was that her dad drove the truck into some grass and broke a water main for the whole subdivision on a Thanksgiving weekend. But after that complete hell, her family had a good respect for me. We had 97 thanksgiving at their new place, and had another great dinner of home cooked food and joking around with her brothers.

By 98, I was dating Marie, and she flew in to Seattle the night of Thanksgiving. We couldn’t find any place to eat, and ended up at IHOP. I think that was her second visit to Seattle, and after I went to her place for Halloween. I was well on my way to moving to New York at that point, and I did in the spring. In 99, we went to her brother’s in DC for thanksgiving, and ate dinner at a fancy Indian restaurant. Turkey Vindaloo – it’s pretty awesome.

In 2000, there was no girlfriend, but me and my friend Rob Reynolds went to the Neptune for dinner. And in 2001, Michael and Marie came into town, and we also hit the Neptune. And now, it’s 2002. That’s the history of the post-family thanksgiving, and I’m surprised I can remember all of that.

Crap, I need to get a move on and haul out of here. Have a good holiday, and don’t eat too much.


Log analysis

I am home. Half-day, holiday, not too bad of a deal. I went to two different wine stores and had a minor breakdown when faced with all of the choices. I bought a German Riesling and a California Merlot. I hope that works.

Larry asked in comments how many people read this journal. Out of curiousity, I will post a quick log analysis. From 9/25 to 11/26/02:

  • 105,354 hits for (a hit being a single HTTP transaction or attempt.)
  • 6015 hits on any journal page or the journal directory
  • 965 unique domains hitting journal pages or the journal directory

If you’re wondering how I did that last one, I put the logs in a directory and did a grep journal * | cut -f2 -d':' | cut -f1 -d' ' | sort -u | wc

Note that people on the same proxy have the same IP; also people from AOL or other dialups potentially have a different IP each time they dial in. Also, search engine robots scanning for text are in there. That’s not a ton of people, but it’s higher than I would’ve guessed.

Not much else going on. Still no heat, but I saw that the department of housing was here earlier today and gave the landlord a citation, so he’s going to be charged something like $250 a day at a minimum of $1000 until the problem is fixed. There is a truck right outside my window, and I’d imagine they are working on it, but I also wouldn’t doubt it a damn bit if the workers are either asleep in the truck or at the Athens Cafe, getting drunk of their gourds. If the landlord hired them, I’m a bit suspicious of their work ethic. (Not that I should talk. But then shoddy tech writing is different than no heat when it is 30 out.)

I’m reading John Sheppard’s book Bad Men Driving right now, and it’s pretty cool. He has a giveaway going on where if you send him his address, he’ll send you one, and you probably should. I think I’m going to dig out the heating pad and spend an afternoon under my sleeping bag, and finish this book.


No heat, no Danzig

No heat. No hot water this morning, but I’ve got the bathing in the kitchen sink thing pretty down, and the water is back. Allegedly, the heat will be back tomorrow, and this will be the last round of repairs. But saying that ten times doesn’t have the same effect as a nice hot shower at six in the morning.

I have decided to do another issue of Air in the Paragraph Line, after reading the Cometbus Omnibus all weekend. I need a good solid project in my life, even if it involves collating and toner dust. I made PDFs of all of the old issues and you should really check them out – they are at Reading the old zines really surprised me at how good they were. They really bring back a lot of memories of my time from Seattle, and it’s also weird to see how they document the time I was writing both Rumored and Summer Rain. So I’m excited to begin working on issue 10.

Britta filters do not filter out all impurities. I mention this because a lot of people don’t realize this, and at some point, people are going to try to drink water with West Nile and Anthrax and think a pass through a $4 charcoal filter will make the shit into Evian. It won’t. Boil it.

I was going to write this huge diatribe about the Danzig album I am listening to, but I’m too tired and I really need to start positioning heaters and humidifiers, and I have to call in Ray and rub in the fact that Roddy Piper was signing books in New York and I didn’t go.


star wars toys

I’m enjoying having a five year-old nephew. I mean, I’ve always thought he was a great guy; what I mean is that I enjoy buying Christmas presents for him. Between all of the Star Wars stuff and Lego technology available, it’s a good time to be a kid. I bought him this Jenga Fett doll action figure that has a removable helmet, working rocket pack, laser rifle, incredible details, and he talks, makes laser sounds, has battle-sensitive noise electronics, and I think he can also do taxes. When I was a couple of years older than Phillip, I got the same size Boba Fett action figure, and while he did have Six Million Dollar Man-esque eye lens that enabled you to look in the back of his head and see out his eyehole, it didn’t have any of the electronics. And my Millenium Falcon had two C-cell batteries in a side door with a button that you pressed to get a “BZZZZZT” sound that didn’t resemble the sound of lasers and thrusters, but rather the old-school doorbell on my Grandma Mamola’s house in St. Louis. NOW, the Millenium Falcon made from the same molds has incredible battle damaged paint, plus I think the sound chip plays every single second of Millenium Falcon footage in actual 5.1 THX Dolby Digital sound. (Oh well, that battery compartment made a handy storage space for Yoda and other small shit cargo.)

Okay, just had a phone call with my sister (not Phillip’s mom, the other one) and I don’t have much more to say other than the fact that my kitchen smells like something died in there, so I’m going to fill it with Lysol to a depth of about three feet and see if that helps.


Peter Gabriel at MSG

I saw Peter Gabriel last night at MSG, and it was… interesting. It was excellent in many ways but also really depressing in many other ways, and the whole thing really threw me by the time I got out of there. It’s strange to say that going to a show full of people and energy and music that I essentially enjoy would make me leave in a deep depression, but there were a few nerves to be pinched.

To first get this out of the way: I like Peter Gabriel’s music, but I don’t think I like people who like his music. I think it’s a very personal thing to me, and the songs of his that mean the most to me aren’t the ones that have supported his livelihood. So to go and have the guy sitting next to me yell “SHOCK THE MONKEY! SHOCK THE MONKEY!” after every other song really made me want to sell everything I own, put a unabomber-style shack on my property, and never talk to another human again.

The other thing that bothered me is that although I go to a lot of shows alone, I really don’t like doing it. And this is probably the first non-metal show I’ve ever attended. So not only was there no chance for me to talk to some other dude about the band, like I did when I went to see Rush or Fozzy or whatever else, but pretty much every guy there was with a woman, because this is the kind of show you bring your girlfriend to and hope they play “in your eyes” or whatever. And, not that I haven’t noticed this before, but I’m getting extremely depressed about being alone. Sometimes it doesn’t bother me, but then there are these breakthrough points where I suddenly realize that it’s been months and months since I’ve dated, and I’m currently sustaining no relationships, and I have nothing going on where I’d potentially meet people, and I have no energy to seek out people, and things won’t change themselves, and I have no energy to try to change things. And I can push this stuff away enough to get up every day, and go to my job every day, and maybe put in a little bit of writing on my books or whatever, but when I really think about it, it completely fucking demolishes me. And that happened.

So I’m sitting there for this whole show, essentially spending the whole thing not thinking “wow, I have all of his albums, he’s great,” but rather “I wish this show was over so I could go home and completely reinvent my horrible life.” And the thing is that a lot of Peter Gabriel songs mix happiness and depression in such a strange way that they totally pulled me further into this. When I’m alone, when I’m depressed, I listen to his music, and that helps me write and create. And that means I’m not a fan of “Sledgehammer,” but if you’re depressed and you listen to “Mercy Street” or “Red Rain,” it’s not going to snap you out of it. And my whole career of depression has bookmarks in it via his songs. Even the happy songs remind me of failed relationships, like when they played “Secret World” and it reminded me of the girl I dated back when that album was out, the girl that put “In Your Eyes” on a mix tape for me and now even the first two notes of that song practially exorcise her to me again.

The concert “ended” in a very strange way. They played the song “Signal to Noise” from the new album, and it’s very heavy and deep and dark and forbearing, but absolutely incredible. It’s primarily a more tribal drum sound and some symphonic synth. As the song approached the end, each instrument would finish playing their part and the person would just put down their stuff and walk off the stage, until finally it was just the drummer and a synth playing a sample on its own. Then he got to the end, and the lights went off, and that was it. It was such a heavy and strange ending, watching everyone just walk away, and it struck such a strong impression on me that it completely blew me away.

(Of course, they came out and played a couple of radio-friendly singles as an encore, which sort of ruined it for me, but still…)

So there it is. I have a lot of thoughts and a lot of plans, but mostly I just want to go home and sleep and sit in bed and read and just try to figure out what to do next. I have a hot idea for a new book and I’ve been letting it fester in my head. I think getting onto something real in the writing department would help, but it’s also one of those times where I know that writing isn’t the answer for me and I need to figure out what is.

On that note, I better go home.


a lot, nothing

A lot has been up. Nothing has been up. My heat was out for a weekend, and I was sick, which meant pure misery and I was about a double-shot of vodka away from going to my landlord’s house and beating his power meter into a non-functional state until his heat went off. The heat is back on, and my mood has improved immensely. My cold is almost gone, no sniffles or aches, but the post-Nyquil dream and sleep cycle has gone completely fucking David Lynch on me. Also, although I have no sniffles, about every hour, my sinuses exude about a cubic liter of thick snot that immediately blows out of my nose in a very satisfactory manner, yet not as satisfactory as absolutely nothing. My appetite is also messed up, as I can now taste food, yet I realize that everything that a) I can cook or b) I can order for delivery tastes like total shit. My last two dinners and today’s lunch were horrid and I did not finish them. I am hoping to segue this into some kind of diet where something that is low-fat/low-calorie or whatever will suddenly taste better to me than horrible Greek food as cooked by Mexican workers in a Chinese restaurant in Queens. Or maybe not.

I am working on The NecroKonicon nonstop now. The goal is to have something to give the publisher by the end of the year. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE go read it, find mistakes, point out my horrrible speling errors and everything else, and give me ideas for new stuff so I can turn this fucker out. I am adding stuff every day, so please take a look.

I had a lot of other things to say, but mostly I need to get some work done. So I must go enjoy the heat and write some damn glossary entries.


IMU, cold

I just got a call from my friend Lisa from the parking lot of the IMU. She’s from up here (Stamford, actually) but visited to see the Lilly Library and needed directions to find it. It’s pretty weird to consider someone I think of as a “New York” person to be in the place where I lived ten years ago. It’s even more weird to give directions by phone, and mentally imagine what it would be like to be there. I was actually reading a few pages from Summer Rain last night, so I’m really in the mood to be back there. Maybe I can put some of this nostalgia into the stories I’m trying to finish.

I’ll still sick, although the cold has moved from the throat to the nose. I’m not fond of blowing my nose constantly, but it sure beats that back-of-throat post-nasal drip, or the throat-suddenly-dry, must-cough-violently thing I’ve had going for the last few days.

I finished rereading The Fuck Up by Arthur Nersessian, and it wasn’t bad. It reminds me of a modern-day Down and Out in Paris and London by Orwell, and I was able to mentally figure out more of the geography now that I work in the Village. It’s a slightly depressing book, and sometimes the writing is a bit jumpy or inaccurate, but it’s not bad. It makes me wish I could write a book similar to it, but I’m not as verbose in my prose as he is.

Okay, I need to go to Duane Reade and stock up on cold supplies (Dayquil, Nyquil, Kleenex, etc.)


Disturbing things

Vague things I find disturbing:

First, I watched this entire TV show about Al Roker getting his stomach stapled shut. Since I am like 30 pounds overweight, I often think about this, but you need to be like 100 pounds overweight to get it done. Also, my problem is not eating large volumes of stuff; I actually don’t eat a lot in any given sitting, it’s just what I eat that got me here. It’s also amazing that he got this invasive surgery done to get down to my current weight. That doesn’t make me feel as bad.

Second, during this Dateline NBC or whatever it was, they had an ad for another Dateline show in which some parents were deemed unfit parents and had their kids taken away, then went out at gunpoint and stole them back from foster homes. The commercial depicted it as “the system has screwed us, and since we’re such strong people, we would do anything…” This is total bullshit. If a court takes away your kids, you’re given a list of stuff you have to do to get them back. The list is not unreasonable for a normal person: get a job, get off drugs, take a course on parenting, etc. The real story is probably that these folks couldn’t do any of this, but they could get a guy and go take their kids back. This is stupid, and this kind of thing will make tons of dumb parents who had their kids taken away that they could do the same thing. It’s amazing how American culture has propogated this belief that everyone is always right, and that anyone can do anything on their own terms. It’s probably Reader’s Digest’s fault for publishing all of those little amazing profiles of courage or whatever the hell they are called. People are wrong. People fuck up. Deal with it.

Third, I will probably watch the above show.

Fourth, if you download an entire first-run movie because you don’t see yourself giving the MPAA ten bucks, you are an idiot. I actually saw a LiveJournal where someone said they were going to see 8 Mile but didn’t because they didn’t want to give the MPAA the money. This is stupid. I mean, wanting to see 8 Mile is also stupid, but that’s not the point. I don’t feel that I need to justify this any further, but rather I will issue a decree making it true.

It seems like I had a fifth thing, but I can’t remember. I’m still sick and pretty much reduced to watching TV, and not much is on. I did finally sign another lease, which is always good.

Now, I must eat my soup.


Earwax removal tool

When I was in Vegas, I went to a Walgreen’s across the street from the Stardust on a pretty constant basis, since bottled water cost about $87 in the hotel. I always like big drugstores because they remind me of the ones in the Midwest, like the huge Osco in the Concord Mall that has recently vanished (along with everything else in the mall.) New York drug stores suck; they have almost no selection in the medical-oriented things, and no variety in the non-medical stuff. I bet you could buy a snowblower at a CVS or Hook’s back in Indiana, whereas you might have to go to seven different places to find a 4×4-inch bandage and some gauze in Manhattan. (And when you do, it will cost more than an emergency room visit.) It’s the same gripe about lack of real estate, cost of real estate, and the fact that we don’t have a Target in Manhattan and that would make my life much better, even though all of you in the Midwest are saying, “why would he want a Target? They suck ass.”

Anyway, I was in this Walgreen’s, and saw something I’d never seen before: an earwax removal tool. It looked like a little plastic plunger, except it had a ring on the end of it. The idea was that you shoved it in your ear and scraped out a thing of wax, and it wouldn’t push the wax further back because of the shape, or something. Since I have constant ear problems, I bought this thing, ran back to the hotel (okay, I didn’t RUN) and jammed it into my ear, carefully following the instructions to make sure that it didn’t puncture my eardrum. After all of this anticipation, it removed a piece of wax about as big as the amount of wax a crayon leaves on a piece of paper when writing a period or comma. I felt ripped off, expecting it to remove something about as big as a BB, or maybe a small kidney bean. No dice.

At first, I thought that this was just another ripoff from the health and beauty industry, like magnet-point shoe inserts, anything with the word “Igea” in it, or the ab-exercise belt. But later, I thought that maybe this was some kind of pea-under-seven-mattresses sort of perception problem. Maybe the “huge” amount of wax in my ear that bothered me was just microscopic. Maybe this was like some larger metaphor for my life, and all of the things bothering me – money, acceptance, dating, writing – were all microscopic bits of wax that weren’t that big of a deal.

Okay, this is getting stupid. I shouldn’t come up with journal ideas on the subway anymore.


Dee Snider

Dee Snider wasn’t bad on Friday. The only problem was we had to sit through a lot of BAD bands before that, one of which looked like a U2 cover band that didn’t play U2 songs, another that consisted of a woman that looked like she took Chrissy Hynde far too seriously. (After the show, she went around with a book to get people to put down their email addresses for their list, so I put down Ray’s address.) The show was at L’Amour, which is a pretty big name in some circles for heavy metal. It was closed for years and now reopened, but has the same smell of piss and death. It’s also rumored that this was the same club where they shot Saturday Night Fever back in the disco days.

Finally, I thought we were ready to roll, since it was like 11:30 and we had sat through a half-dozen bands, including one that had a big fat guy singing and a skinny little guy playing bass and alternately singing, playing stuff with way too much bass like you’d expect some 17-year-olds to play in a jacked-out Honda Civic with a 74″ subwoofer. So after them, instead of Dee, we got Dee’s son, who looked like a Calvin Klein underwear ad (which probably isn’t that bad, given A) his dad’s looks and B) the looks of the woman he had on his arm after the set.) He jerked around spastically (this was his first time on stage, ever, so maybe that was why) and one song made me laugh hysterically, because it contained a really stupid lyric like “if you hear me now, you won’t hear me later/if you don’t hear me now, you’ll hear me later” or something. When people booed him, I thought he was going to start crying. Hey, imagine what your dad went through when he used to go onstage in biker bars wearing Tammy Faye makeup and spandex.

After we sat through an unending setup period, which pissed me off to no end (it’s not like these guys are staging the chariot race out of Ben Hur, it’s just four amps and a fucking drum set) they finally came out and opened with “Stay Hungry.” In fact, they did almost every song from this album, which made me happy because Stay Hungry was one of the first tapes I ever bought back in junior high school, and I played it so many times I still have every note memorized. They did a couple of other songs that I didn’t know, and then they did a bunch of covers, some of them pretty odd. They did “Anarchy in the UK” by the Sex Pistols; “Hell Bent For Leather” by Judas Priest; “Search and Destroy” by Iggy Pop; a weird medley that ended up finishing with “Rock and Roll” by Led Zeppelin; and AC/DC’s “Whole Lotta Rosie”. Dee talked a lot between songs, and still had long hair although not as poofy as back in the day. A.J. Pero from back in the Twisted Sister days was on drums and played a solo; there were two guitar players, and the current bass player for Overkill was in the band. Overall it was a fun time, and they played until two.

Next show: Peter Gabriel at MSG, next Thursday. I was reluctant to buy the tickets because I love his music, but I wasn’t sure how it would work outside of the studio. Also, everyone I know who likes Peter Gabriel only likes “Sledgehammer” or whatever, and his “greatest hits” are the least favorite songs for me. But since he averages about ten years between albums, I felt that it was important that I check it out. So I got a $65 ticket way the hell up in section 305. It should be interesting, though.

I think I gave myself food poisoning yesterday with some taco salad I made. When I woke up this morning, it felt like someone threw a medicine ball right into my gut. I think I’ll finish on that note.