Friday, February 29, 2008

My New Guitar

I’ve been reading Ed Cray’s Ramblin’ Man: The Life and Times of Woody Guthrie the past couple of days. Somewhere in the house is another Woody biography that I read a few years back when I “discovered” Arlo. Having neurological problems that cause psychiatric problems and problems with fine motor skills, I’m drawn to his plight. His time and place on this earth didn’t help any. It’s a good read. I may finally read The Grapes of Wrath, which I was supposed to read in high school. Instead, I got my mom, who was then the bookkeeper at my high school (mortifying, but it had its perks) to get me the Cliff’s Notes, and I copied them in the teachers’ lounge for everyone in my class. Fortunately, we were a special GT class, so I only needed seven copies.

Yesterday, I was seized by an insane desire – no, desperation – to buy a twelve-string guitar, having seen Arlo, read about Woody, playing around on my other guitars (classical, acoustic, electric and now twelve-string). I will be paying for this whim for the next four months or so. Ah, well. There are worse things to throw money at. And I’m working on building up calluses. So far all I’ve got are near-blisters. The problem is that the only lessons I had were in classical guitar, but that’s not what I want to play. I want to play folk music. So what I know now is how to read music and play it on the guitar. Unfortunately, most folk music is written in tablature or chords, which I have yet to learn. I understand the concept; it’s just that I can’t understand why tablature was necessary when we already had a perfectly good musical notation system in place. So I guess I’ll be keeping myself motivated. Oh, I’m left-handed, too.

I’ll be off of the Guthries and onto something else soon enough, in case you’re sick of it. I get hell-bent on something and then get distracted by something else. Wonder why I haven’t achieved what I’d hoped to in life?

New Clues for my Movies

Apparently I was too obscure. That, and nobody much reads my blog. So I've added a few more clues that I hope will be helpful. When these things start to rot, I'll just fill in the blanks.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Fun with BabelFish

Since I live with a French teacher, many of my acquaintances know as many as five languages and can puzzle out others, so I feel a little out of the loop when they start speaking French. It's particularly disturbing when my name is the only word I can understand. What are they saying about me? I must learn French, Spanish and Italian (to read Dante, mainly) before I die. Anyway, I decided to take a leaf from Mark Twain's book and translate the "Alice's Restaurant" chorus into several different languages and back into English via BabelFish. I found the results amusing:


You can get anything you want at Alice’s restaurant. You can get anything you want at Alice’s restaurant. Walk right in, it’s around the back, just a half a mile from the railroad track, and you can get anything you want at Alice’s restaurant.

English to Spanish:

Usted puede conseguir cualquier cosa que usted desea en el restaurante de Alicia. Usted puede conseguir cualquier cosa que usted desea en el restaurante de Alicia. La derecha de la caminata adentro, está alrededor del trasero, apenas una mitad de la milla de la pista del ferrocarril, y usted puede conseguir cualquier cosa que usted desea en el restaurante de Alicia.

Spanish to French:

Vous pouvez obtenir toute chose que vous souhaitez dans le restaurant d'Alicia. Vous pouvez obtenir toute chose que vous souhaitez dans le restaurant d'Alicia. La droite de la randonnée à l'intérieur, est autour de ce qui est arrière, dès qu'une moitié du mille de la piste de du chemin de fer, et vous pouvez obtenir toute chose que vous souhaitez dans le restaurant d'Alicia.

French to Greek:

Μπορείτε να αποκτήσετε όλο πράγμα που επιθυμείτε μέσα στο εστιατόριο alicia. Μπορείτε να αποκτήσετε όλο πράγμα που επιθυμείτε μέσα στο εστιατόριο alicia. Η δεξιά της εξόρμησης εσωτερικό, είναι γύρω από το οποίο είναι πίσω, μόλις ένα μισό χιλίων της διαδρομής ενός δρόμου του σιδερώματος, και μπορείτε να αποκτήσετε όλο πράγμα που επιθυμείτε μέσα στο εστιατόριο alicia.

Greek to English:

Can acquire all thing that you in wish in the restaurant Alicia. Can acquire all thing that you in wish in the restaurant Alicia. Right the campaign interior, he is round which he is behind, hardly one of half thousand way of street of ironing, and can acquire all thing that you in wish in the restaurant Alicia.

Loses something, n'est çe pas?

The Movie Game

Okay, here are the answers. I gave an obscure list because I am drawn to the obscure. The more obscure it is, the more it belongs to me, I guess.

I got this game from Qalmlea and decided to join in. Briefly, the idea is this:

1. Pick fifteen of your favorite movies.
2. Go to and find a quote from each movie.
3. Post them here for everyone to guess.
4. Fill in the film once it's guessed.
5. NO GOOGLING/using IMDb search functions. Totally cheating, you dirty cheaters.

I decided to add some hints, since these might be obscure to normal people. Among the remaining 13 movies, actors include

So here are my quotations:

Hints: Both Hepburns are featured (in the movies, if not the quotations). Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, Judi Dench, Jennifer Ehle, Ian Holm, Anthony Hopkins, Peter O’Toole, Vanessa Redgrave and Tom Wilkinson are featured more than once.

1. I don't know. I only know goodness... and anger... and revenge and evil and desire. These seem to me far better words then 'neurosis' and 'psychology' and 'paranoia'. These old words, these good old words have a sort of... conviction... which all this modern apparatus of language now lacks. We bury these words, these simple feelings. We bury them deep. And all the building over that constitutes this century will not wish these feelings away.

This movie came out in the '80s: Wetherby, starring Vanessa Redgrave

2. A: I am sick of fighting! And, I am sick to death of this whole center of the universe, holier than thou, nothing is ever enough. Oh, how I've suffered, nobody understands me. Somebody fix me a drink and hand me a Nembutol, worn out Scarlett O'Hara . . . thing!
B: Well, she's got her pegged, all right.

This movie
came out in the 2000s: Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, starring Maggie Smith, Ellen Burstyn, Sandra Bullock, Ashley Judd and James Garner

3. When she was born, that's when things went wrong for us.

This movie came out in the 2000s
: Whale Rider, starring no one I've heard of.

4. I do believe in anything, provided it is incredible. That's why I intend to die a Catholic, though I never could live as one.

This movie came out in the '90s
: Wilde, starring Vanessa Redgrave, Stephen Fry, Jude Law, Jennifer Ehle, Gemma Jones, Judy Parfitt and Tom Wilkinson.

5. To be born, or at any rate bred in a handbag, whether it have handles or not, seems to me to display a contempt for the ordinary decencies of family life which reminds one of the worst excesses of the French revolution, and I presume you know what that unfortunate movement led to?

This movie came out in the 2000s: The Importance of Being Earnest, starring Colin Firth, Rupert Everett, Judi Dench and Tom Wilkinson.

6. I already know an awful lot of people and until one of them dies I couldn't possibly meet anyone else.

This movie came out in the '60s
: Charade, starring Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant and Walter Matthau.

7. You know you don't have to act with me, Steve. You don't have to say anything, and you don't have to do anything. Not a thing. Oh, maybe just whistle. You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.
I thought this one might be too obvious, so I left out the name. Qalmlea recognized it from being quoted in other movies. It is from To Have and Have Not, still with Bogie and Bacall.

8. Expanded quotation:
: Speaking of horses, I like to play them myself. But I like to see them workout a little first, see if they're front runners or comefrom behind, find out what their whole card is, what makes them run.
B: Find out mine?
A: I think so.
B: Go ahead.
A: I'd say you don't like to be rated. You like to get out in front, open up a little lead, take a little breather in the backstretch, and then come home free.
B: You don't like to be rated yourself.
A: I haven't met anyone yet that can do it. Any suggestions?
B: Well, I can't tell till I've seen you over a distance of ground. You've got a touch of class, but I don't know how, how far you can go.
A: A lot depends on who's in the saddle.

This movie came out in the '40s
: The Big Sleep, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

9. A: I marvel at you after all these years. Still like a democratic drawbridge: going down for everybody.
B: At my age, there's not much traffic anymore.

This movie came out in the '60s: The Lion in Winter, starring Katharine Hepburn, Peter O'Toole, Anthony Hopkins and Timothy Dalton.
10. A: How do you know you're God?
B: Simple. When I pray to Him, I find I am talking to myself.

This movie came out in the '70s: The Ruling Class, starring Peter O'Toole.
11. That's not why I pray, Harry. I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God, it changes me.

This movie came out in the '90s
: Shadowlands, starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger.

12. To be Prince of Wales is not a position - it is a predicament.

This movie came out in the '90s
: The Madness of King George, starring Nigel Hawthorne, Helen Mirren, Ian Holm and Rupert Everett.

13. A: I can't make out whether you're a bloody madman or just half-witted.
B: I have the same problem, sir.
Correctly identified by John as being from Lawrence of Arabia!

14. A: I hope you appreciate the sacrifice I'm making.
B: You have no choice.
A: I know . . . that's why I'm making it.

This movie came out in the '60s: The Sound of Music, starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.

15. People don't always say what they're thinking . . . they just see to it that you don't advance in life.

This movie came out in the 2000s: Hannibal, starring Anthony Hopkins and Julianne Moore.

Good luck!

Monday, February 25, 2008

You Made Me a Pallet on the Floor

My conscience has been bugging me lately. My mother and her husband, a Lutheran minister, just had someone neither of them knew spend the night at the parsonage because he was going to speak to the congregation Sunday about some Christian something-or-other. I said, “Mom, you cannot let total strangers spend the night in your house just because they’ve heard of Jesus!” I mean, who knows, he could still be a lunatic. I know a lot of lunatic Christians. Fortunately, everything turned out fine, and my mother promised never to do that again. I think there must be a Motel 6 or something in the vicinity. The church could pay for the room. That way, the probably nice person could have a place to stay without being inside my mother’s house while everybody’s asleep. I was flashing back to when Memaw let some people stay with her because they were from Panama. Memaw and Gran-Gran were in the Panama Canal Zone during World War II, as my grandfather was blind in one eye and therefore not eligible for military duty. He was in the Civil Service, teaching ESL to the Panamanians while Memaw worked as a nurse and then had my mother. Anyway, the fact that these people were from Panama was enough for Memaw. She let them in. They stayed forever. We weren’t sure that they were actually taking anything (except food), but they were starting to make even Memaw uncomfortable, so my uncle Carl had to show them the door. I e-mailed my brother, Chris, suggesting he do the same for Mom. He’s more dangerous than I am. I would never let strangers spend the night in my house, yet . . . it goes against my principles. One of my favorite songs is by the Weavers, and it goes like this:

You made me a pallet on the floor.
Oh, yes, you made me a pallet on the floor.
When I had no place to go, you opened up your door,
And you made me a pallet on the floor.

I was broke and so dissatisfied.
I was broke and so dissatisfied.
I was broke and dissatisfied and I nearly died,
And then you made me a pallet on the floor.

Oh, yes, you made me a pallet on the floor.
You made me a pallet on the floor.
When I had no place to go, you opened up your door,
And you made me a pallet on the floor.

I don’t want to see this town no more.
Don’t ever want to see this town no more.
But if I ever do, it’ll be on account of you
Because you made me a pallet on your floor.

Oh, yes, you made me a pallet on the floor.
You made me a pallet on the floor.
When I had no place to go, you opened up your door,
And you made me a pallet on the floor.

So don’t turn a stranger from your home.
Don’t you ever turn a stranger from your home, oh no.
Don’t turn a stranger from your home.
The day may come when you’ll be roamin’
Looking for a pallet on the floor.

You may be looking for a pallet on the floor.
You may be looking for a pallet on the floor.
When I had no place to go, you opened up your door,
And you made me a pallet on the floor.

When I had no place to go, you opened up your door,
And you made me a pallet on the floor.

Apparently, my humanity flies out the window when it threatens not merely my safety but my privacy. The fact that Kaye also thinks we shouldn’t let total strangers stay here overnight lets me tell myself that even if I were the kind of person I wish I were, it wouldn’t do any good to the poor people with no place to stay. But it is nagging at my conscience. What kind of person am I? I don’t much like the evidence. Seems I just want to make myself look like a nicer person.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Existence of God

I got a response from the writer of the piece I cited in my last blog entry, which is posted under “The Illusion of Free Will,” and I would urge people to read it in its entirety. But here are some of my responses:

****I hope my blog entry didn't stereotype all Christians as "idiotic, bigoted, closed-minded [people]." ***

You didn’t say that Christians per se were stupid, but it felt a little like I was on the dumb end of the spectrum just because I chose to believe in God, something that’s necessary to Christianity. Incidentally, I’m more interested in Christ as a role model than as the purported “Son of God” – in the broader scheme of the Bible, he’s an essential part of the mythology; setting aside the issue of his divinity (especially as his being more divine than the rest of us), he’s a pretty good role model with a few questionable actions. It’s too bad I can’t ask him, for example, why he mouthed off at his mother when he was just twelve (“How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?” Luke 2:49 KJV). My answer is that he was a twelve-year-old boy in a patriarchal society that thought adulthood came on at age thirteen.

***Your experience with [Kaye] covers many years of daily contact - sight, touch, communication. She [is] a physical reality in your life. God, if such a being exists, is an invisible, supernatural entity. Could you explain what your experience with [Kaye] and your experience with God have in common and how you can reason God into existence?***

What do we know about reality? We are limited by our experiences. I’ve had some experiences that no one else has had – some of these are labeled “hallucinations.” If I had the same kind of contact with God that I have with Kaye, you’d write me off as a lunatic. So it’s a no-win situation for me. Some things can be proven through reason. Faith is what you have when you can’t prove something through reason. You choose to have it or you choose not to. I choose to believe that there are things out there that I don’t know about. Although I don’t think it much matters which philosophy or religion you have, as long as you don’t use it to excuse your bad behavior, I chose Christianity because I understand the mythology, having been brought up with it. Yes, I consider it a mythology – but the ties between mythology and history can be delicate.

The thing that frustrates me is atheists' unwillingness to acknowledge that atheism is itself a belief system. It’s the agnostics who honestly say they don’t know. You can’t prove God does or doesn’t exist, so whether you opt for atheism or some religion, you’re making a leap of faith. Atheists have faith that God doesn’t exist. They don’t know.

Ultimately, though, to answer your question, I don’t think you can reason God into existence. Once, I had to have reasons for everything. I still want them. But I accept the fact that some things just are. So I didn’t and can’t reason God into existence. I just chose to take a leap of faith. I still know I might be wrong.

***Atheism isn't a belief system. It is an absence of belief in any kind of god. And it doesn't take faith, because faith is the choice to actively believe something without any verifiable proof of its reality.***

Sure it is. It’s not a lack of belief. It’s a belief that God doesn’t exist. I suppose what I am is not so much a believer as a hopeful agnostic. Agnostics are the ones who don’t believe in something because they don’t know it exists. Atheists are sure it doesn’t exist. That’s a belief.

***You can't prove that the Flying Spaghetti Monster does or doesn't exist. But do you have to exercise faith not to believe in its existence? No, because there's no reason to believe. So it is with atheism. No faith is needed because atheists don't think there's any good reason for belief in God.***

When there is scientific evidence about something, such as evolution, I believe it’s true. It’s hard for me to know it’s true, because English and Computer Science don’t really give me the tools to understand the raw data. I have to have faith that the experts in the relevant fields know what they’re talking about and are telling us the truth; for example, I don’t think “Creationism” should be taught in schools because I think it’s nuts, whereas evolution makes sense. I don’t think evolution and the existence of God are mutually exclusive. I just don’t think I see the whole picture. I’m pretty smart, but I don’t know as much as I once thought I did. When I was eight, I was an atheist because there were no dinosaurs mentioned in the Bible.

No sensible person can believe in the Bible – the first two chapters of Genesis are mutually exclusive. The Bible is not evidence of God; it’s a story of a culture. It’s a pretty good story, and it’s important because it has, for good or ill, influenced Western culture and continues to do so.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Illusion of Free Will

I happened across an interesting piece on the illusion of free will the other day. It doesn’t give any arguments I haven’t heard – or made – before, but it does make you stop and think. It makes me think I should read Erasmus and Luther instead of just thinking about it. But I guess that would require, well, maybe not entirely free will – if I had free will, I certainly never would have a migraine – but some will.

This type of argument annoys me with its smug dismissal of people who believe in one thing or another that hasn’t been proven (some things could be proven but just haven’t yet). A good friend of mine thinks I am completely bonkers for believing in God, just because I am reasonably well-educated, in two very different fields (neither of them religion). I even go the Christian route, a choice I made based on the fact that I understand the mythology, having been brought up in Baptist and Methodist churches (mind you, I stopped going as soon as I was too big for them to drag to church, unless I had ulterior social motives, and I don’t go as an adult).

Yes, I consider the whole Bible a myth. That doesn’t make it less powerful or less real in any important sense. And it doesn’t mean that some of it isn’t historically accurate. Neither does the fact that some of it is historically accurate prove that Jesus rose from the dead or that Mary was inseminated via a dove, or any of the other crucial (sometimes literally so) points in the Bible.

Hamlet is very real to me, more so than many people who have lived and breathed, or are even living in very close proximity to me. I know Hamlet a lot better and have seen him at his best and at his worst. Yet, as with my neighbors, I don’t know what goes on offstage. That part’s on me and my struggle between reason and imagination (note that I am not saying that either is more important than the other). But I could carry that much further. Do I really know the person I’ve lived with for nearly twenty-three years? She’s not here now. And she had a good deal of her life before we met. The fact that I know, as well as I know anything, what she’s capable of and what she would never do is based solely on my experience with her. It still boils down to faith. I have faith in Kaye, and I have faith in God’s existence. Both are based on the same kind of experience and reason.

I don’t begrudge atheists their belief system. I do think it takes as much of a leap of faith not to believe in God as it does to believe in God, since neither position can be proven. Given those options, I’ll choose the more hopeful one. I am not afraid of God, because I don’t believe that any omniscient, benevolent entity would be as petty as the Bible often claims. I know lots of people who would; it’s just that none of them have the kind of power that God would have. That’s a combination of reason and faith. That God is omniscient and benevolent is part of my definition of God.

I just get tired of being stereotyped as an idiotic, bigoted, closed-minded person because I have decided that I believe in God. So now I’m going to prove, to myself, anyway, that I have at least limited free will and take control of my life to the degree of clearing up my study, which, as my mother would say, looks like a hurricane swept through it.

I respect other people’s rights to think what they think. I don’t think I’m always right. But I do think.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Technical Difficulties . . .

It has been brought to my attention that my posts suddenly wouldn't allow comments. I didn't mean for this to happen, but this blog isn't quite a week old, and every day there's something new going haywire. So I think I have fixed this problem. If anything else stupid shows up, please let me know at, and I will try to track it down and fix it.

This Land Is Your Land

I’m afraid to allow myself to think it in any coherent manner, as in words, let alone commit it to writing, but what the hell. Right now, my migraine is just a little bruised-feeling patch above my left eyeball. Usually, though, the day starts out looking promising enough. It takes about half an hour for the migraine to wake up and jump back in. This is why I generally try not to think a lot if my head isn’t hurting. I don’t want to wake it up.

But I’ve been having thoughts, not just about migraines. All the Arlo-mania in my brain, even the lizard part of my brain, has had me listening to “This Land Is Your Land” to the point that it’s number two on my iPod. You’ve got to understand that I have about 8,000 songs on the thing. Most of them are just there because I’ve got so many CDs and so much room on the iPod that it seems criminal not to put them there, even if I never actually listen to them. But I would’ve thought I was too cool to have “This Land Is Your Land” at the top of the chart. See, I’ve always considered my iPod a barometer for my psychological state. Last February, it was Dylan’s “Ain’t Talkin’” from Modern Times. Last February sucked. Maybe sometime I’ll go into that. But my point is that it occurred to me that, you know, for a tiny, poor, honest-to-God hobo, Woody Guthrie must’ve had some kind of high self-esteem. I don’t know any of his songs that put other people down, accusing anyone of anything, but somehow they are all declarations of his right to be in this world, and probably none of his songs comes right out and says it any better than “This Land Is Your Land.” Because it’s not just that he’s telling me, or whoever’s listening, “Hey, kid, you’re okay. Your existence is not a crime, no matter how many people are annoyed by your way of life.” He’s also giving me a manifesto of my own, so I can walk up and down the street singing “This Land Is Your Land,” staking my own claim, marking this as communal territory, while inviting the neighbors to do the same. I don’t actually do this outside. Just once, right after the Arlo concert.

I guess what I’m saying is that if one crazy little hobo can be so audacious, maybe I can, too. Thanks, Woody.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I Don’t Have Time to Do That

I have just blown the whole day, pretty much, sleeping in and trying to shake the migraine I’ve been semi-ignoring for seven entire days now. It’s not working, so I’m still pretending it’s not there. I suppose there’s the off chance that I have a brain tumor or something real, but that never occurs to me with these headaches. Those things just live for people like me. I don’t know what “like me” means, exactly, but what I’m saying is that I have decided that they are sentient beings and they hate me. Maybe because in the past I have successfully killed them off with one narcotic or another and they see me as genocidal. But my migraine’s probably not why you stopped by.

I called my mother this afternoon. Whenever I mention something that I think is interesting or that she should do because no one should go without it, about 99 percent of the time, she puts on her exasperated mother voice and says, “I don’t have time for that!” You know, when people say this to me, somehow I take it personally. It’s like she’s saying it must be wonderful to be me because “most people just don’t have time to do things like that.” She has time. I checked, and, sure enough, she has the same twenty-four hours a day that I do. And she’s retired! She just thinks I do stupid things, it sounds like to me.

She does some weird things herself, but somehow I don’t say, “Mom, I don’t have time for that” nearly as much to her as she says it to me. I mean, she’s retired and does these sorts of things: go to Lutheran Women’s meetings, go tape next week’s children’s sermon that her husband does for the children, cook, clean, watch news constantly, and, most annoying of all, she substitutes in the schools. To do this, she has to keep up her teaching certificate and go to dumb Mickey-Mouse education workshops (trust me, I’ve been in them and they are pointless). She actually seems to like this. So she doesn’t have time to do whatever I mention.

To be fair, she did give me a hint as to what I could do to get the paragraphs back in the “Here’s to Bill” piece. That’s what was wrong with the layout of my blog today. It was one big chunk of prose, and I had included paragraph breaks. So I went in the html and surrounded the paragraphs with paragraph tags, and that fixed it. I understand those tags. What I don’t understand is why they suddenly became necessary.

So between the migraine and the format issues, this being a new blog and all, I’m haven’t had much time to have a life worth writing about. I hope this trend turns around soon.

I mean, I don’t have time for that.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Exasperating Simplicity of Layout Mode

I was on the verge of becoming fairly pleased with my accomplishment with this blog. Here I had written two somewhat coherent entries, if longish. My teachers in college were always telling me there had to be a paragraph break before the page ended, surely, and that sentences didn’t need to span four lines. That was when I was a Computer Science major. The day I became an English major, I started getting comments about how terse my style was. So I don’t know. But anyway, I have distracted myself from my point at hand. Partly that was because there are screaming kids in the yard next door and it’s only not even ten in the morning. At least some of these kids are old enough to be in school is what I’m thinking. I’m racking my brain, thinking, is it still Christmas break? Did somebody die a while back and now we have a holiday for it? I even got up to ask Kaye whether kids ought to be in school now or what? I mean, one of these kids has got to be what they used to call junior high. Kaye said she didn’t know. Meanwhile there’re kids I don’t even know behind the back yard, down a little cliff, in the parking lot of some apartments running around screaming. And next door on the other side, where grandparents live and their grandchildren used to be little like a meatloaf or two, now they’re up to screaming age and so what we have now is like Dolby digital surround sound screaming kids. They’ve all quieted up just now. I’m getting a little paranoid about my powers as a writer. Maybe I ought to blog a lot more. No, they just started up again.

Well my point was going to be that I spent yesterday mostly trying to make my blog sexier in a boring way, in that I was just copying everybody else, but still. I had successfully copied this insane guy’s code for the thought of the day generator and put in some new thoughts. It worked. Really. If you’d logged on between a certain time and when all hell broke loose, you could’ve seen my thoughts. But now you just see a little button below nothing saying, “Random Thought” with just a couple of blank lines above it before it moves on to the next part of my blog. The reason is that the new helpful “layout” version strips out all my thoughts. I put them in. Repeatedly. They just get taken out again.

Why, oh why did I switch to “layout” when everything was going so well? Because of the damn thought cloud or whatever you call it. You have to be in layout version to copy the code. Then it turns out the code doesn’t work, and the thing says if it doesn’t work that it’s probably because I did something wrong, like that’s useful or surprising to me. Gets them off the hook, though, I guess, and they did do all the work.

So for now, get used to a random blank thought because I have had it. Unless you have any suggestions, because at this point, I will try anything.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Arlo, Migraines and Balconies

Last night, we did an amazing thing. We left the house, drove twenty-five miles, and got to see Arlo Guthrie on his Solo Reunion Tour: Together at Last. I must’ve snagged the last two tickets, because we were in the balcony, Row K, seats 1 and 3, which, oddly, were adjacent. That was all right, since I was expecting to have a total stranger sitting in between us, but that’s what we got. There is no Row L. Now I have not been to many concerts in my life, generally figuring staying at home and getting to act however I want and not worry about my hair or losing my stuff or whatever is preferable to being out among a bunch of people where I have to blend in or be a spectacle. The latter is easier for me. Well, sure enough, I made a spectacle of myself by not looking like an aging hippie or biker, mainly because I am only forty-one. That’s the first time I used the word only in front of forty-one, I think, at least as applied to me. But when Arlo did eventually get to “Alice’s Restaurant” song, he said, “Now it all started forty-three Thanksgivings ago, it was on, forty-three years ago on Thanksgiving.” I thought, damn, that’s a long time ago. Then I thought, wow, I sure am young. So it was fun. I had to use the bird glasses that Memaw gave me maybe twenty-five years ago for Christmas or maybe just for no reason, because Memaw was like that, giving you stuff, but, anyway, it was a long time ago, because I used them at the James Taylor concert in 1986, I think it was. Since I don’t watch a lot of birds or spy on the neighbors to the point of using special equipment, the bird glasses are practically like new. Anyhow, I could see Arlo. The thing was, I wasn’t convinced it was Arlo unless he started talking or singing. I mean, he had the same long wild hair in a ponytail, but he had a mustache and some glasses, and, well, he didn’t look much like the kid in the movie, which we had just re-watched to get into the Arlo spirit. Fortunately, he talked and sang a lot, and we sang a good bit, and it was great. I am still on an Arlo high. Which is good, because I have had the same damn migraine for about six days now, and I’m getting tired of it. I have thrown every controlled substance in my possession at it, and it’s not going away. I am just resigned to living this one out and being miserable if I stop and let myself. I have just adopted the very new attitude for me toward migraines, which is, well, fine, migraine. Make yourself comfortable. I am going to pretend you’re not here until you get bored and go torture an easier target. I have decided that I have been such an easy mark for so many years that the word gets out among migraines and they move in on me first. I am not going to be so hospitable any more. They want to follow me around, that’s their business. I’m not real hopeful about this strategy, but I figure it’s cheap and doesn’t require me to go out of the house, convince someone who can dispense narcotics (legally, that is) that I am, in fact, in this much pain, and, yes, I am drug-seeking, because only massive amounts of narcotics could kill this freakin’ thing. But at home, meanwhile, I can do any damn thing I want because it is my house, and, well, I don’t do anything illegal, that I know of. Weird and worrisome to the neighbors with impressionable youngsters, perhaps, but not illegal.

It’s a good thing we saw Arlo last night, though, because apparently he’s going to be in Berlin on Thursday, which is a lot further away than twenty-five miles, and you can’t drive there from here.

Also, a word on balconies. I had never been in a theatre with balconies before, and had only heard about them from my parents, namely, that they were where “the colored people” had to sit and even if you wanted to, you couldn’t sit there if you were white because that would be unnatural or ungodly or something. I might mention that I live in the South. I called my mom today and asked her whether black people used to be really small. Because I am not an especially tall person, and my knees were in the ears of the guy in front of me. I was sorry about it, but what was I going to do? They only bend at one place. And if my rear end had been two inches wider, which is actually not terribly unusual, I would have been sitting on the armrests.

But, that’s America. And this land was made for you and me.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Here's to Bill

My great uncle Bill has been saying I should start a blog for, well, I didn't mark it down on my calendar, but for a long time now. I'm pretty sure that his suggestion was a defense mechanism to keep him from being the target of my every thought, but he put up with my e-mail for a good long time. Now he is eighty and cites that as an excuse for every little teensy thing, like not answering my e-mails every twenty minutes. I don't know that that's a good excuse, but I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt, never having been eighty myself. When he doesn't answer my e-mails, I really get annoying and call him. Usually he's doing something like scraping scrambled eggs off the ceiling. How they got there in the first place is something I never even bothered to ask. I mean, I try to give the man some space. I figure if you've got scrambled eggs on the ceiling, you don't need an inquisition on top of it. Now when I call, I often get an answering machine that's set not to take messages. I try not to take this personally. I just never heard of an answering machine that didn't take messages. So with tears in my eyes, I set off to think of someone else to bug with my new problem, that Bill won't even take a message from me because he has set his answering machine against me. I still have things to say. My cat, James, sleeps through half of what I say to him and my imaginary friends go play with someone else when I start to talk to them. So you can see my problem.

Hence, this blog. Someone besides me will benefit from my pontifications. I will notify Bill of its existence so that he can continue to experience my every thought.

Tomorrow night at 8:00, I will be seeing Arlo Guthrie in concert. Solo. No Pete, no Oklahoma Swing Band, just Arlo. Pete's great, but I figure he's probably scraping scrambled eggs off the ceiling and can't come make everybody sing. It's up to me and Arlo. People who haven't experienced Arlo past the "City of New Orleans" have really missed the boat. That's a great song, but not his strongest suit. He is an interactive act, like Pete, and, more important, he's smart and funny. Funny is important when your imaginary friends start forming cliques that you aren't part of. And this is a big deal, because I am actually paying to leave my house, whereas normally you have to drag me away from my desk. In all my life, I have gone to two concerts, both in the 80s: James Taylor and Joan Baez. They are major events for me, unlike my brother, Chris, who I swear went to a different concert every other weekend from seventeen to thirty, often driving hundreds of miles for the privilege.

So good morning America, how are ya? I'll be trying to learn HTML and JavaScript and all that kind of stuff that makes blogs sexy, but right now, I'm just saying hello.

And you can get anything you want at Alice's restaurant.