orange county

I think all of the FBI business calmed down by Friday or so, and I spent most of the weekend moping around, trying to make some progress on things, but mostly just passing the hours from when I got out of bed to when I got into bed, and then making sure that I was sufficiently passed out for the in-bed hours, which always seems to be a trick, except when I take a mid-day nap that demolishes my sleep cycle. I didn’t have any grand Memorial Day plans, other than to not do anything. That always seems to be the plan on most weekends, and it never really seems like it happens.

I don’t know. I watched the movie Orange County this weekend. It’s not that incredible or mind-blowing of a flick, although Jack Black’s character is pretty good in it. It’s mostly the sort of build-up-tension-with-fakeouts sort of plot that would make a Julia Roberts movie look sophisticated. But the one thing is that it’s got a main character, a kid who wants to become a writer, and becomes obsessed with writing almost constantly. It’s similar to one of the things I took from the movie Almost Famous, the Lester Bangs character that talked about how on some nights, he just sat at the typewriter and wrote and wrote for hours. And both of those made me wish I was spending all of my free time writing for hours, just scribbling in notebooks until every blank page turned filled, or chipping away at some mystic novel and before I turn back to look, I’ve got a quarter-million words behind me.

But I don’t do those things, and I almost never write anymore, and that depresses me. And part of it is the lack of projects on my horizon, the lack of any concrete thing that I should be filling with words. And part of it is this general apathy because so many things around me are eating away at me, each one taking a tiny part of my energy. When it comes down to it, I sometimes have the hours to write, but I simply don’t have the motivation to sit in the chair and put my hands on the keyboard and make the cursor spit out words as it coasts from left to right in my document buffer.

I spent part of the weekend trying to think about reorganizing media in my apartment, trying to find places to put new shelves, trying to find new ways to stack books or hide boxes of magazines under other furniture or whatever else. I’m not saying I DID any of these things, I just thought about it, and then I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond to look at shelves and other storage solutions meant to provide my life with more completeness. I didn’t find anything that worked that I wanted to buy that second, but I did see many things that I would buy at some point if I had money burning a hole in my pocket and wasn’t going on vacation in 19 days. Instead, I spent twenty bucks on a zen rock garden fountain for my desk, and rearranged the piles of bills and papers and other crap to get the thing assembled. It looks nice sitting next to the black-framed ViewSonic flatscreen LCD, since the bigger slate pieces are also black, and although the most frequent complaint about these things is the sound of the pump, it’s more quiet than the Athlon power supply under the desk, so no worries there.

Actually, I’ve always wondered about combining the two technologies: a water-cooled manifold on a CPU, with hoses that run out of a case and are connected to a display fountain up on the desk. The fountain would cool down the water, and it would cycle back into the case. Has anyone done this? It’s a thought.

Okay, awaiting food so I can eat so I can write…


Fun and profit when one of your zine writers joins Al-Quaeda

Okay, things have been weird here lately. Let me explain, although this story doesn’t have much of an ending.

I got home from work on Wednesday and had a message on my machine, which was from a reporter at Knight-Ridder. He wanted to ask me how I felt about “having one of my writers be a member of a known terror group”. My initial reaction to this was “what the fuck is he talking about?” Then he mentioned the name Adam Gadahn, and I hit the computer, firing up google in one browser window, CNN in the other.

John Ashcroft and crew had released a new terror warning that afternoon, and that included a list of seven people wanted or wanted for questioning, along with a group of seven headshots that were immediately glued all over the usual news sites. I didn’t recognize any of them, but the newest addition to the list was a US citizen by the name of Adam Gadahn, and I knew where the reporter’s call came from, and why I was associated with the guy. I immediately checked to see how bad the damage would be and exactly where I might have mentioned his name.

Here’s the deal: I used to run a music fanzine called Xenocide. It was a photocopied pile of pages stapled together, filled with music reviews, interviews, and other news about underground heavy metal bands, particularly Death Metal bands, which were big at that time. In addition to trading and selling these zines through the mail, I also posted ASCII copies to various heavy metal newsgroups on the internet, in hopes of meeting new people, and mostly to get more free stuff from bands are record labels.

Back in 1993, as I was preparing for the fifth issue of the zine, I started to get mail from this guy named Adam. I don’t remember much of the exchanges, and I don’t have copies of anything but two paper letters, but he did send me some record reviews for some of his favorite stuff, and I folded them into the rest of my other writing. He seemed like a cool enough guy, not overtly into the whole campy Satanism thing, not too weird, and he always sent me artwork, like little scribbled or doodled zombies or demons or whatnot.

We traded mails a few times, and I printed about six of his reviews in Xenocide 5. I also mentioned his name there, and used some of his artwork. The copy went out to usenet (but not the art), and I didn’t hear much more from him. I never did another issue of the zine, out of general lack of momentum, and two years later I graduated and moved to Seattle. I actually heard from Adam again in November of 1995 at my new job and new email address, except he was calling himself Yahiye then. (He’d always signed his artwork “yagadahn”, but I figured he had dumb hippy parents that named him “Yellowsun” or something, so he just went by Adam.) I exchanged a couple of emails with him then, mostly on the “hey, what’s been up” level, but they didn’t mention terror camps or Islam conversion.

And that’s it. He didn’t seem like a nutjob, he didn’t send me a giant diatribe on the teachings of Muhammed, and I never met him in person or talked to him. But, that issue of Xenocide lingered in Google, and when the story broke on Wednesday, I was the only search result in Google that wasn’t some Islam web resource.

So, in the last few days, I’ve heard from Time, Fox News, AP, and a couple of independent reporters. I also got a call from the FBI, following up on the whole thing. There’s not much to say about it though: we traded some mails, he wrote some reviews, but I could not vouch for his personality, explain his motives, or give any details on his whereabouts.

Normally, I’d be much more sarcastic about this, or try to twist the story a bit to get a laugh or two, but it’s hard to be anything but serious when you come home from work and you have a message from the FBI on your answering machine. Do I think Adam is a terrorist? I don’t know. Do I think that the evils of heavy metal caused him to pick up an AK-47 and praise Allah? Probably not. Most people who fall out of heavy metal when they end their teen rebellion years usually cut their hair and go back to a Christian lifestyle, so it’s weird to hear of someone who turned to Islam, especially since most headbangers are white and conservative and would probably just call Muslims towelheads or worse.

If anything, I am relieved that the FBI did call. That means at least they are checking leads and doing work and not just sitting around with their thumbs up their butts, which is what most people think they do. It shows that federal law enforcement is trying to do something to find out more about these seven, and stop them if they are involved in criminal activities.

Okay, I am at work and get out of here early today, and I will hopefull get in a weekend of no distractions, other than the DVD-related ones I create for myself…


busch gardens

I just tried to clean off my desk in some fit of productivity, and threw out a metric assload of paper. It’s amazing that one of the big sells of the whole online billpay thing is a lack of paper, but all of my billers still send me a paper duplicate, and of course for every paper of important information, there are about five pages of crap about credit card insurance, discount travel offers that are more expensive than just going to the airline and buying the ticket, and offers for free magazine subscriptions (postage and handling not included, $20 per issue.) I have some paranoia for keeping old statements, so I went through and excised them from all of the other paperwork and threw that shit out. Yeah, it’s been an exciting Saturday.

I’m still working on short stories for this next Bloomington book, and I posted the rough start of one in my livejournal (look below and to the left for the link.) I don’t usually post to livejournal, but I know that absolutely nobody reads this journal, so whatever. Anyway, the stories are going okay, but it’s the kind of thing where I am pretty much sure nobody will ever read them, and I am simply writing them for the sake of writing them, and I hope that the work will eventually get me in the right mood to do something else.

I’m still excited about going on vacation next month, and slowly picking at google to figure out what to do when I have the time, which is almost never. I am vaguely thinking about taking another glider lesson when I’m down there, because there’s a gliderport around Orlando and they have reasonable prices, but it all depends on time and money. The last time I was there for two weeks and with more money in my pocket, I vowed to drive to the Space Coast or at least to Orlando to check everything out over there, but every day I slept in or decided to do something else. Maybe some other time I might go out there exclusively, although I wonder how morose all of the tours of the space facilities are since the Columbia accident.

Another vague thought of mine was whether or not to go to Busch Gardens. I went as a kid, but I wonder if now it’s tiny and busted compared to my memories of it. I know there are a few rollercoasters, and I’m always a big fan of those, but I’m wondering if $50 and the drive to Tampa is worth it or not.

Food’s here. I haven’t ordered delivery for a while, but I was bored so I called up the Thai place. Now I need to find a movie to watch and eat.


bored of rants

I haven’t written just to write in a while. Getting bored of writing rants, but I’ve also been too busy working on other stuff. I am still working on a book of short stories about my time in Bloomington. It’s at a good length now, but still needs a lot of work. It’s a good waste of time, anyway. I still feel like I should be writing something else, something new, but nothing’s come to me yet.

I decided to take a vacation next month, and I’ll be heading back to Treasure Island, Florida. I went there in 2001 for two weeks and had a good time, so I’ll be going back and staying at the same place. A one-bedroom apartment with a full kitchen right across the street from the white sand beach of the Gulf only costs $240 a WEEK. You gotta love the off-season. It’ll be hotter than hell, but the room has real AC, unlike my apartment, and so will the car. And I get to drive, which I miss. Plus the pool’s right there, and the place is almost abandoned during June. John Sheppard lives down there now, so I’ll drop in on him, and I’m making my list of things I missed last time I was there. It should be fun.

Weather’s finally decent here in New York, although it has been a bit weird. The temps drop then rise then look beautiful then get a bit crummy, and it’s always a coin toss on whether or not to bring a jacket. I went for a long walk tonight to maybe see about taking photos of Rikers Island as the sun set, but I missed that golden bit of time and ended up circling around the northernmost tip of Astoria, before it falls into the water. There’s a huge ConEd power plant that takes up some serious real estate. It’s got all of these fences and guards and whatnot, but it’s also surrounded by acres and acres of green grass, which always looks out of place in the middle of New York. It looks like some kind of sanitarium, like what you’d find on Wards Island, but no triple tiers of razor wire like the psych center out there has. Anyway, the walk took me through a lot of little areas I’d never seen before, and even though I didn’t find any new stores or places that would be useful later, I do like to see something other than the same usual shit, even if it is different brick buildings and fire escapes than the usual ones.

I got a power antenna for the TV for $30, which was a waste of money. I can barely get in 5 channels, very fuzzy. Now I can watch ER, at least. I watched all of the Must See lineup on Thursday, and after however many weeks of no TV, it all looked alien to me. Nothing was funny, and I couldn’t even understand the point of any of the sitcoms. Everything in ER was extremely predictable, and I spent most of that hour playing solitaire on my PocketPC, occasionally looking up to watch snippets of the show. I don’t see TV coming back to my life full-strength, at least like it was before.

I replaced the battery in my iPod, which was pretty untraumatic and simple. I bought a new one on eBay for about $40, and it’s been sitting on my desk for a few weeks. Opening the case was a bit of a trick, and I had to use two screwdrivers to carefully pry it apart. Aside from that, everything was a snap: unplug the old, plug the new, close the case, put it on a charger. It was very anticlimactic and so easy, I wanted to write a shitty letter to that whiner that created the anti-Apple site bitching about how his battery went out.

I can’t believe it’s past two already. I should think about sleep.