Pom nastygram

Just got back from the dentist. I’ve been having some fillings redone, and today was stuff on the back side of my top teeth. I’m totally numbed out, and can’t feel my top lip or the bottom of my nose. It’s very weird. This is a new dentist, which is actually in the building next to ours, which saves a lot of time. He’s also a pretty nice guy, and best of all, he’s in-network for my insurance, so everything is cheaper. While I do not love dentists, this one has been pretty good. My last dentist was a total shithole, and cost me a lot of time and money. Then when I moved and changed dentists, he still called me every day for a month trying to get me to come in for an appointment.

So here I am, a dreary Saturday afternoon, where the sky can’t decide on whether or not to start pouring. I haven’t eaten all day, and I’d love to now, but I’m afraid of chewing off my upper lip and not realizing it. Both Sarah and I have been low-level sick since we got back, probably a cold that was recycled in the plane’s air system, via the 28 unruly toddlers on the flight. I think I’m pulling out of it, though. Maybe I’d drink another orange juice if I wasn’t afraid of spilling it all over my shirt from the lack of drinking skills the novocaine brought on.

Oh yeah, and last night, I woke up at like four in the morning to get a drink. And we have one of those huge family-size jugs of PoM juice, the pomegrante juice that is supposed to miraculously cure your heart, and is overpriced accordingly. So I decide to drink a glass of that in my half-asleep state. And when I try to turn off the factory-sealed cap, my thumb goes through the outside of the shitty plastic jug, and bright red-purple juice explodes everywhere. And my first reaction was ‘duct tape’, but I couldn’t find any, and I also worried that the adhesive would contaminate the juice. So I got a giant glass and poured off the remaining stuff, so the liquid level was below the hole, and then I spent forever wiping up juice from everywhere in the kitchen. So the PoM corporation is getting a nastygram, when I get around to it. I hope at the very least they will send me a coupon, because that shit is expensive. I think it costs ten times as much as gasoline in Manhattan.

I have tickets to two baseball games in the near future. One is the Yankees-Twins game next weekend, and the other is a Mets game about two weeks later, and I forget who they are playing. (Wait, I just looked it up, and it’s the DC Nationals, aka the Montreal Expos revisited.) I don’t know why I’m suddenly so interested in baseball, other than that I enjoyed going to the game last week. I guess I also want to see a game in both stadiums before they get imploded and turned into parking lots for the new billion-dollar stadiums. It’s on the ever-growing-but-it-should-be-shrinking master list of shit we want to do in this city that we never do, even though we’ve lived here howevermany years. Yes, New Yorkers gag and retch at the idea of seeing the statue of liberty, but I don’t want to move away from here someday and never have seen it. There are a lot of things I wish I would have seen in Seattle before I left: a Mariners game in the Kingdome (RIP), the underground tour, about a million restaurants, the Boeing junkyard, and a bunch of other stuff. I can go back to do that, but why didn’t I do it when I lived there, and save me a thousand-dollar trip? So, it’s up to the Bronx to see the bombers, and out to Shea to see the blue, orange, and black.

(BTW, Jesus Christ, tickets are expensive, especially for the Yankees games. You can’t even get seats to the upcoming Red Sox series, unless you want to pay like a grand. The Twins tickets are in the second-to-top tier, and cost $126 for 2, courtesy of an online scalper. I’m fully expecting ten dollar cokes and 12.50 hotdogs when we get there.)

Okay, I need to look into some applesauce or something I can eat, because I’m starving.


Pocket books

Splitting headache. I think it’s from the heat, but it could be something else. I’m about to take some Tylenol PM, crank up the AC, and try to sleep it off. It’s been a slow weekend, which is good. I have a new dentist, and I think I can see his office from my window, so the commute isn’t a problem. He is also pretty laid-back and not all about the lectures, or the insistence that I need to cash out my entire 401K and spend it on veneers, braces, and who knows what else. I do have to go back next month for some work, but just fillings. No titanium post insertions or root canals or anything.

Lulu has a new book size, the “pocket” size, which is something like 4.25×6.875″ or something like that. I was thinking that I would love to make my own version of the pocket ref, which is my absolute favorite book ever, and I think pretty much anyone with a spare twelve bucks should buy it. It contains pretty much every reference table and material stuffed into 768 pages that fit in your pocket. I love to read it when I’m bored, and it’s always good to take on travel. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to glean together all of my most-used useless info and cram it into a little book, and others could buy one too. Like, what to do for a hangover or food poisoning, what presidents have been shot and where, the addresses of Denny’s in many major cities, a list of daily excuses to have a party, whatever. Anyway, it’s a thought.

I’ve been reading Amy Hempel’s Reasons to Live. No, it isn’t a new-age bullshit book, she’s a writer, very minimalist stuff, very good. All of her stories are told in as few sentences as possible, very tight, very deadly. It’s good stuff, except when I read it, I simultaneously want to rewrite everything I’ve ever written so it works like that, and I also just want to give up, because there’s no way I could. But I still read it. She has a hardcover story collection from this spring, I hope it’s not repeats from the book I have.

Nothing else. No writing, it’s been too hot, and my computer room has no AC. I have the laptop, but usually I spend half my time fucking with the WiFi to get it working or not working, and it won’t let me write.




When I lived in Seattle, my studio was on the top floor of the building. Okay, there were only five floors, but with the couple of levels of parking lots underneath there, it gave me a bit of altitude over Pill Hill. Seattle winters aren’t too brutal, and I probably could have survived the whole season without a winter coat, especially given that I drove everywhere. My apartment had a single baseboard heater next to my bed, about four feet of inductive coil inside a metal case, maybe something you could buy for $30 at your local hardware store. I seldom ran the heater, though, because everyone below me ran theirs. I’d often get home from work and find my apartment about the temperature of a bread oven, because the jerkoff below me left his heat on full and then went to work all day or all week. That meant, I opened the window or the patio door, and let the cold and usually rainy Seattle winter battle the apartment until it got comfortable.

I don’t have control of my heat system here either – most apartments in New York have steam radiators that are centrally controlled by who knows what kind of mechanical or manual algorithm. This usually means in mild weather like today – mid-40s or so – my apartment also approaches the temperature resembling a kiln. Unfortunately, the opening the window approach isn’t as pleasant. For one, my crap windows are very difficult to open, and are more binary than linear; you apply way too much pressure to a non-ergonomic handle like you’re trying to open a can of pickles, and after too much time – CREEAK – the window opens about as far as you’ll be able to correct it. Compare this to my Seattle digs, which were only a few years old and had all-new, tight-sealing, perfectly-balanced Andersen windows. And in Seattle, the distant rain and hum of traffic (with no horns or car alarms – I think most people in Western Washington aren’t even aware their cars HAVE horns) sounded so much better than the too-present sound of jocko-homo-italiano guys beating their wives or whatever else I hear outside my window on a regular basis.

I had another round with the dentist today, the last for the year. He finished up a root canal, put in another titanium post, and sealed it all up in temporary crud to await a real crown next year. I’ve burned up all of my insurance for 2004, so I will come back right before my Vegas trip for the porcelain replacement. And I’m doing the flex-spend thing so I will save a little bit of cash and not pay as much in taxes. I am all for any way to pay less tax, although I wouldn’t want to go through all the hoops of considering my writing a “business” so I could write off my computer and stamps and pencils and whatnot. It’s too much work, and I haven’t even bought a new computer in a while. Maybe I should, and deduct the whole deal. Those Tablet PCs look nice…

I finished reading the stock market book I was talking about, and I guess it is good, in the sense that the guy lost like a million dollars and was a total dumbass and admitted it at the end. The whole thing makes me NOT want to invest, to just shovel cash into some kind of blind trust and not look at it, and not buy anything and just read and write and let the money quietly accumulate. I guess that’s what the 401K is for. I have like a dozen choices in the thing, in contrast to old jobs that used Fidelity and offered a bazillion options. All I know is that I max out the thing every year, and I actually made a decent amount of money from my picks last quarter. So that will be there, and if Social Security survives, maybe I can use that money for books each month.

I came to the realization that my biggest fear about retirement now is not getting the money to stop working, but actually living long enough to spend the money. I know that sounds nuts, but 67 is a long way off. I mean, all of my grandparents died at just a few years older than that. Okay, I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, and I don’t sit around eating giant blocks of organ meat doused in lard like my grandfather. But when I get out of bed in the morning, my 33-year-old ass doesn’t exactly feel young. What will it be like when it’s twice as old. Maybe I need to get my ass off the couch and run around the block a few times. I mean, having five million in the bank doesn’t do much if my arteries are 99% clogged and my bad cholesterol is a four-digit number. Of course, maybe in 30 years, I will take a roto-rooter nanotech pill and have my circa 1985 heart back again.

After spending the whole day veering in and out of sleep and hoping the dull pain of the new metal in my mouth would go away, I’m now far too awake, and I don’t feel like writing on this new book. I need to dig through my pile of unread books and find something new…


More dental horror

Now that I have the new book done, things have gone back to normal, and I can get back to my regular routine of dental horror stories. I went in Saturday for a session that ended up being fairly pain-free, except for the fact that the TV set was tuned to the VH1 top 20 video countdown. Maybe I’m getting old, but I guess I am totally out of touch with what kind of music is on the radio these days. It’s bad when you watch a half hour of videos, and the best one is by Velvet Revolver. Anyway, I got my crappy, always-falling-out temporary crown replaced by a nice, new, expensive, firmly adhered crown. When they had to take out the old one and the assistant went after me with a medieval-looking pair of pliers, I got a little freaked out, but then I remembered there are no nerve endings there anymore. A few minutes later, I was on my way, my tongue constantly running over the new, glossy porcelain. The bad news is that I have to go back next week for another root canal and some kind of involved dental cleaning that will probably resemble some kind of North Vietnamese torture technique.

That said, I don’t seem to be creating much of anything these days. Maybe I should end this entry and find something better to do.



I have a blank emacs buffer open for the filename “cover-text.txt” that will become the back cover of Dealer Wins, the Vegas book. I can’t think of what to write. I’ll drink about nine more Cokes and then use whatever appears.

My temporary crown came off this morning when I was flossing, and fell behind the toilet. You’d think that, even with 97 minutes of rinsing with hot water and Listerine, I’d have serious germophobic fears about putting it back in my mouth, but I guess the sheer panic of popping the thing out and the anticipation of a metric fuckload of pain overrode all other senses. The pain didn’t happen, though. And it looks really weird with the thing off; there isn’t just a metal post, but rather what looks like a little, rounded-off tooth under it. I bought some Fixodent at the drug store and all is well. I also got a waterpic, which I might or might not use regularly. Maybe I will just fill it with Coke and use it to drink a steady stream while I’m sitting at the computer.

I am listening to The Fight Club Score by the Dust Brothers for the first time, and I really, really like it. I realize I’m like four years behind the curve, but this has to be the coolest background music ever. I don’t know anything about techno or the Dust Brothers or anything else, but I have a feeling this CD will be on during a lot of the writing of the next book.

I have decided that after this Vegas book goes out the door, I will seriously get on Zombie Fever, the tentative title of the next book. It will be, in a stylistic sense, a sequel to Rumored to Exist, and it will share some of the secondary characters, but it will be a new, start-to-finish fiction piece. I probably have about 20,000 words of notes and snippets, but I need to take a big step back and think through the whole thing again before I get started.

As far as media consumption, I finished reading John Sheppard’s Home is Where You Hang Yourself last night. It’s a pretty tight little book; at 136 pages, it seems like it’s a lot longer. Some of the short stories continue loose threads from his other books, but for many of them, he created new characters a lot different than the punk cast he’s used before. The stories aren’t all the beginning-middle-end typical MFA creative writing workshop format, and tend to spend more time building up characters rather than pushing people through the movements. I like that, at least that it makes you think a lot more about the people rather than the events. Anyway, it’s only $7.75 on Lulu, so check it out.

I also got through 3 of the 4 discs of the Star Wars trilogy. I haven’t watched Jedi yet, but I might do that this afternoon, just to see if Lucas admits that the Ewoks were simply a bad idea. He probably won’t. He’s given little time in the commentaries to mention the obvious about the special edition additions or the stormtrooper hitting his head or anything else. This is outweighed by him spending a ton of time talking about stuff I had no idea about. If you even vaguely like the original trilogy, you should immediately lay down the $42 on Amazon to get a copy of these. I know, everyone thinks there will be some big 6-movie set coming out later, but it’s worth it to buy this now, especially at the cheap price. I have mixed feelings that I spent $100 on the super-ultra boxed edition of the original films on VHS, but at least I can go back and see Greedo shoot first if I really want to.

Okay, I better get to those Ewoks. I was thinking of going into Manhattan and spending some cash, since the tooth debacle ended up being cheaper than I thought, but I have such a huge pile of DVDs to watch and work to do on this back cover, I guess I will stay here for a bit.


emergency root canal

My tooth seems to be better, even though I bitched and moaned a bit about it on the livejournal yesterday. Saturday morning I went in to get a resin filling replaced and ended up instead getting an emergency root canal. It was actually part one of a root canal, and I have to go back in next Friday for the rest of it, and to get a post put in so I can get a crown made. This means that, depending on how much my insurance kicks in, you all are getting donations made to the Human Fund instead of Christmas presents this year. The worst part of a root canal is paying for it. I’m doing fine pain-wise and eating pretty much whatever I want with no problems whatsoever, but my stomach is tied in knots thinking how much I’m going to have to lay out to this guy for the work. I know he said the root canal is about $550, the post is about $250, and the crown is about $850, but the question is how much the insurance will screw me when it comes time to whip out the checkbook. It would be nice if I had to only pay like 30% or 40% of that out-of-pocket, but insurance is such a fucking scam these days, I’m sure they’re going to bend me over the counter on this one.

Now that I’m not spending my evenings dumping tube after tube of Anbesol into my jaw, I’m actually chipping away at the writing a bit. The Vegas book continues to progress. I am putting photos into the layout and fixing the little crap that didn’t transfer over right, like all of the straight quotes that need to be moved to smart quotes and whatever else. I was initially pretty bummed because I pulled in everything but the last little story, and the whole book was only 126 pages. I was really hoping that it would be closer to 160 or so. Granted, I do have the fonts Metal Cursed down to 9 or 10 point, and more pictures will break it up a little. But still, I want this thing to be a book and not a pamphlet. I’m about done with the last story, which was a last-second addition since the piece I wrote about shooting guns in Vegas turned out to be too lame to include. Anyway, still no word on when this will be done, but it’s getting there.

It’s almost turned into fall, but not quite. Fall is always my favorite season, and brings back a lot of strange memories of a lot of different eras in my life. I will be happy when it’s consistently light jacket weather and it’s the kind of weather that makes me want to hide under the covers in bed and read on a brisk Saturday morning, as opposed to “why is it so damn hot at the end of September?” kind of weather.


Dental malady, trinity

Part two of the dental malady will take place in a few hours. I get a real crown and a new filling, plus a bunch of shots in my gumline, a lecture about why I need to floss more, a sore jaw from the rubber block they jam in my mouth to keep it open wide, and hopefully some more nitrous. I will probably start having Frances Farmer flashbacks while I’m in the chair and put a dental explorer through an assistant’s thigh. Think gentle thoughts…

One of the best bits of luck has hit me with regard to my trip across the country. As I may or may not have mentioned, when I leave for New York, I will be spending two weeks in a rental car, exploring the country. My original plan was to go from Seattle to Salt Lake, then Vegas, then LA, then follow Route 66 to St. Louis, skip over to Indiana, see all of my friends, go to see Micheal in Ohio, and then head to the city. This was the plan, with me leaving on the 31st of March. But, get this:

The Trinity Site is opento the public on April 3! What does that mean? This is the place where it all started – July 16, 1945, the first atomic explosion ever. It’s only open two days a year, and I will be in the general vicinity for one of them. This means the whole trips is changing. I will stay in Vegas for one night, then immediately drive east, stay the night in Albequerque, and drive down in the morning to check this out. I’ll also have time to go to Roswell and see all of the fake alien UFO museums.

For a good site on Trinity, check this out. There isn’t much there – it’s not like the NTS tour, where there are huge craters from plowshare explosions and fake cities which were nuked to study structural integrity. But there will be some cool government spook signs, I’m sure – telling people not to pick up radioactive stuff or they will be shot on site or whatever. It will be a very cool photo op.

I just called NTS – they have monthly tours, but they are on March 22 and April 23, or something like that. You can’t take cameras there, either. I also found out from the above site that you can now scuba dive at the Bikini atoll, although the tours are very small and expensive, and you need to be an advanced diver. It almost makes me want to learn how to swim just to check it out. The aircraft carrier USS Saratoga is sitting at the bottom there, and you can swim all over it. Also, the Nagota is there, which is the ship from which the attack on Pearl Harbor was conducted. They hauled all of those old ships out there to see what an H-bomb would do to them.

I’ve gotta check out this guy’s web site. More later…


the rubber block

I’m home today. I won’t go into too much detail about the dental procedure, except to say that I feel pretty odd today. They had to use a rubber block to prop open my mouth, so my jaw feels like I took a shot in a fight or something. My gums were also very torn up and wouldn’t stop bleeding, but it looks like tons of orange juice and a good night of sleep calmed that down.

The best part of the dentist was the nitrous. If I had that whole setup in my apartment, I’d write ten books a year. When I was first going under, I started thinking of this Ginsberg-esque poetry, stuff about apocalyptic priests of terror. Then I started thinking about Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet, and I wanted to laugh so bad, but I had this block in my mouth. After all of my fun, they gave me pure oxygen, which sobered me up almost immediately. I wish my last dentist would’ve given me this stuff.

So today’s a day of those chocolate diet shakes, and maybe some applesauce. I think I can eat solids okay, I just can’t chew. And since it’s been about 24 hours since I ate anything, I feel a little weird. I’m sick of lying in bed though, so I want to try and get some writing done, or at least some shuffling.

I’ve been listening to Chick Corea’s Expressions CD, which is him playing solo piano of assorted standards. He does his own version of the Gershwin “Someone to Watch Over Me” that’s currently on repeat in the player. It really reminds of some era in my past, maybe the spring of 92, maybe the spring of 90. It’s a very eerie, familiar sound, but so is most of Chick’s piano. Anyway, it’s nice sitting home in the rain, recovering from a bad dental procedure kind of music.

It’s either time to write or get some applesauce.


crown, zine, etc

In less than two hours, my dentist will be grinding down one of my molars to fit it with a crown. It sounds excruciating, but the tooth already got a root canal last year, so I shouldn’t be too bad.

I’m itching to work on another zine. I’m not sure it will be Air in the Paragraph Line, just because of the outlay of cash involved. If I had FrameMaker at home, and printing was free, I might put together another issue. But I still have reams of pages from the last issue that I haven’t folded or collated yet, which tells you the level of enthusiasm for the project.

It’s not that I don’t like AITPL – I like it very much, especially when it’s done. When I was creating that zine, I was aiming toward something similar to Frank Zappa’s work ethic – a lot of talent, no attitude, and none of the typical bullshit. You don’t need to review some punk band’s 7″ records to have a zine. I didn’t get the exposure I could have, but I got some very positive reviews and no complaints, and you can’t beat that.

Now I feel a need to work on a zine that’s so warped, that’s it’s hilarious. Something like Orgazmo meets Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Something that 90% of the population will be incredibly offended by, and the remaining 10% will worhip as a work of genius. I don’t know if this will be a paper zine or an ezine or an urban legend spread as chain mail or what.

The weird thing is this – I was talking to Michael about a zine he wrote for years ago, and one I read because I talked to one of the editors a lot. We both wished the zine was around like it used to be, and murmurred about ressurecting it from the dead for a project similar to the one I mentioned. But the editor I mentioned had dropped off the face of the earth about six months ago, so we figured the whole thing was a lost cause.

Then, last night, I had a weird dream that I was the editor for this zine. I was at a college campus, reading submissions and doing the layout for a small book-type binding. It was vivid, and I remembered the whole dream, even on the way to work. And once I got to work, the aforementioned editor that I hadn’t heard from in months wrote me some email, and we got caught up. Very strange.

I have a lot to do before the dentist, so that’s it for now. Bill Perry is in town, too, so we have some belated birthday celebrations to take care of…