Thursday, June 30, 2005

How can it be the end of June already?

I figure it's because June has 30 days, which in turn is because of that rhyme, you know the one, April showers bring May flowers, but what do May flowers bring? No, that's not the one. It's the one that goes "A, B, C, D, E,..." No, it's not that one, either.

I think it's the end of June already because I've spent the last three weeks with a hematoma, and haven't done as much hiking or otherwise moving about as I'd intended. Nor have I done as much reading and philosophizing. We've been reading together, just nothing in the philosophy genre.

I've been playing Maggie, my Seagull 12-string guitar, a great deal. Lauren continues on her home beautification quest, and is, as of present writing, organizing a closet. She has already hung a wall with drapes, and we've put up a couple shelves, one of which I regard as precariously lashed to the living room wall with anchor bolts. I don't trust those things.

In all, then, I'd characterize my state of being as in a holding pattern. This must be incredibly thrilling and insightful for the throngs who have begun now to - well, to throng, I suppose - to my blog from the Modesto Bee web site.

I don't subscribe to the Bee. I used to. I started every morning with the miserable habit of drinking my first cup of ridiculously strong coffee while reading the Bee and listening to music. The reason this was a miserable habit had a lot to do with my life in general at the time, but also had something to do with the Bee. Like many newspapers of the day, the Bee is a cut-and-paste job composed of wire service reports and press releases from various official sources. There is scarce little actual journalism going on in the US any more. Very few papers maintain a staff of reporters who go out and track down stories, content instead to let the news come to them, in the form of whatever official line someone wants the public to swallow. (By "line" here I mean, mainly, lies.)

On the few occasions something has actually happened on Stan State's campus, for instance, I've found the Bee's coverage profoundly lacking, often in facts, but always in substance. I don't blame the reporters covering the university specifically, because they've always simply done their jobs - and their jobs, like most in the newz industry, are not to investigate and report what's going on.

But the predominant reason I came to loathe the Bee so much is the editorial page, especially the letters to the editor. It's been a while, and I'm out of the habit, so I might as well tell this story, which some people have found amusing. I got so fed up with the Bee's habit of printing the worst-argued letters that I decided to send them a few gag letters. The first one I wrote under the name "Donald Anatidae." I forget what Donald was upset about - I think it was the right-wing slant of most of what gets printed in the editorial page (and that's true, by the way - the whole "liberal media bias" charge is in fact nonsense, carefully crafted and effective nonsense). They printed the letter despite the fact - or perhaps because of the fact - that it was poorly written, just one step above gibberish. Plus, anatidae is the scientific name for ducks.

So after they printed Donald Duck raving incoherently about right-wing media bias, I decided to get bolder. I wrote a letter complaining about the damage done throughout history, and in the present day, by Christians and Christianity. I signed the letter "Fred Nietzsche." This should probably have been a give-away: someone somewhere at the Bee should have noticed the name, connected the dots, and realized I was using the name of the notable anti-Christian German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.

After that, I became more emboldened, but they never printed another letter from me, whether I was writing sensibly or not, under any name, even my own. And now, I'm on their list of bloggers in the area. I get the sneaking feeling they identified me without checking out what was in my blog, and now the first stuff anybody could read is all about my vasectomy, my hematoma, my guitar, my apartment, and my brief stint spoofing the Bee.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Haven't blogged in a while

The Modesto Bee emailed me today to ask permission to link from their site to my blog. I can't imagine why.

I've been out of commission to varying degrees for three weeks now, because I'm suffering complications from a vasectomy. I've got a hematoma. It hurts, it's uncomfortable, and it has put what is sometimes known as a cramp in my style, or a wrench in my works, or a kink in my armor, or some other such phrase (pick yer favorite, or collect the whole set!).

I did buy a 12-string guitar, a lovely pink-twany Seagull, who so far is called Maggie. I even brought it down to Harbor City this weekend, where we were for Lauren's mom Allison's party celebrating getting her teaching credential.

Life goes on, in short. And while I have a screed in the works, I think I'll wait, it being 6 o'clock, my loveliest Lauren about to sew, the evening crawling in. I'm working on a tune I'll probably call "As the Dust Settles" or "Once the Dust Settles," something like that.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Guitar and medical news

I've pretty much decided to buy a 12-string guitar. Today we went out briefly, looking for a game (failing at that), Augustine blacks for the Takamine (which we found), and to play a couple 12-strings at a local music shop, just for the sheer hell of it, and to relax and get my mind off my post-op condition (of which more below).

At the local music shop, where we did find my beloved Augustine blacks, there were a handful of 12-strings, including a battered, somewhat repaired Alvarez, a trio of Greg Bennett specials, and a Takamine. The Bennetts had a brassy, big sound, but not a warm and sweet sound, which I'm a sucker for, especially in 12-strings, ever since college, when I would swoon to my pal Jim ("The Most Optimistic 12-String Player in America") Williams' old Seagull. The Alvarez had that, and so, to an extent, had the Tak. But the Alvarez had been glued together after who-knows-what had befallen the poor thing. Lauren adored it. I played a couple of the songs I've written for her, and the one I wrote for Lance, and they just sounded lovely. They sounded plenty good, and a great deal crisper, on the Tak. But I didn't like the cut-away body or the pickup on the Tak, and the Alvarez... well, I just felt foolish about plunking down good money on a wreck of a machine. But I am now officially on the market.

I did get the strings home and restrung the old Tak. The key for the G-string tuning machine broke in my fingers as I tightened it. So I'm bereft of guitars at the moment, which is a shame. As has been unreported, playing music has become much more important to me again since Lauren has been in my life. I miss it when I can't play every day.

All this, really, by way of getting my mind off my pain. I had an outpatient procedure a week ago, and was not advised, I swear, that it would be over a week that walking, sitting, standing, bending, or in any way moving from one long-fought-for comfortable position would be so strongly contraindicated. (It's a common outpatient procedure. It causes discomfort.)

So who knows? Tomorrow night I may be reporting I've brought home an instrument. We should at least (if we remember) bring home strings for the violin.

Monday, June 06, 2005

The Bad Plus

Last night, we got a chance to hear the contemporary jazz trio The Bad Plus, on a double-bill with a classical pianist named Christopher O'Riley, whose claim to fame in the not-so-classical world is his transcriptions of Radiohead for solo piano. Whoever put the show together obviously thought that since The Bad Plus plays hot jazz versions of rock tunes (notably Iron Man, Heart of Glass, Smells Like Teen Spirit, and a song by the Pixies called Velouria - none of which did they perform), that it would work together on that basis. Eh. O'Riley is a classical pianist in style and performance, and never mind that he was playing Radiohead. It was transcribed for solo piano, and it wasn't, in that regard, anything like what The Bad Plus was up to. So the crowd was sparser than it might have been, and less hip than it might have been.

We had a blast, especially during The Bad Plus. Because of the light audience, we moved from our $20 nosebleed seats into gallery seats (I think they wanted $45 for them) right above the stage, above drummer Dave King. That was the right choice, because we got to see King toy (literally) with his drums all night. He used a penguin jangly toy, a cooking pot, and for their cover of Radiohead (from an upcoming Brit anthology of others doing Radiohead), E.T. dolls that made electronic whining sounds.

One thing had bothered me about The Bad Plus, which last night I decided was a reason to like them all the more. I was imagining jazz critics trying to write about them, and wondering if they're charlatans or serious. What I mean is that they choose music, and perform in a style, that is more like a rock band, and since jazz critics and audiences tend to be snooty (it's America's Classical Music [TM] after all), I wondered how they take to the raucous beat-down performances of Iverson, Anderson, and King. When King pets the side of his drums with a cooking pot, is he just screwing around, or is he doing something musically important? Last night, I decided, whether or not he's screwing around, he and the rest of the band are playing music they are enormously passionate about, and that's what counts. King attacks furiously, Iverson moves between what looks like deep self-critical introspection and effusion, and, as Lauren observed, Anderson looks like he's in love with his bass.

We got home before midnight from San Francisco, and today we've handled some basic work and school fiddly bits, before a planned trek to Yosemite tomorrow for a day trip, tromping around up there. The rest of the week promises - absolutely promises - lack of movement.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Difficulty relaxing

So this is Wednesday, June 1, 2005. I see; I get the picture.

I've been having the most bizarre difficulty getting out of the mindset and posture of the semester, specifically of the end of the semester, specifically of the stress and strain of the end of the semester. It reached a culmination point last night, I hope, when I scrubbed the living beejeezus out of the reflectors from the stove burners. This after spending the largest measure of the afternoon baking and cooking.

Meanwhile, Lauren was sewing. Her attempt to relax is being organized around taking up new projects, and to that end we've bought the stuff for her to make a dress and a shirt (both for herself), a duvet cover for both of us, and a scarf for me.

Why it should be hard to relax is easy to figure. It has been the longest, strangest, most delightful year of our lives. We're tired, and we're tired of the creeping feeling of being watched - that is, by people we haven't specifically invited to watch - and that means precisely what I mean it to mean, and nothing else, and put that right back where you found it, mister! Bad dog! Bad, bad dog! No no no!

In other news,
Every time I see him explain away the actions of the Admin with that stupid goddamned smirk on his face, it becomes more apparent that he is, at heart, a four-year-old who enjoys saying "poopy."

So says my pal Jim ("The Most Optimistic Man in America") Williams, and he's on to something. Occasionally, Imj (as I call him sometimes) can be quite eloquent, can give voice to the unspoken, can impose order in the chaos of contemporary social life.

My other friend (yes! I have at least 2 friends!) Bob has started a blog, which I haven't explored in depth as yet.