Thursday, July 28, 2005

FLASHBACK: Christmas 1978

My sister got a guitar. It was a nice acoustic complete with needleworked shoulder strap. I remember my parents bright look of anticipation as my sister was unwrapping her largest gift, which was saved for last. I could tell they thought it was special. And my sister didn't disappoint...she just about broke into tears once it was revealed.

My parents were not rich and I now know that especially in those late '70's years, they were very much in debt having in just 3 years bought a house, furnished it with new furniture, remodeled the interior, in some cases taking out walls, installed a new back door (again, taking out walls), a new brick patio and first an above-ground pool and 2 years later replaced it with an inground pool. Oh, and new vinyl siding and roofing as well. All between 1975 and 1978.

We were all given very nice gifts each Christmas. My mother especially loved to go all out. I estimate they probably spent an average of $300 per kid. That's 3 kids. $900.

My father probably took home from his textile factory job about $300 a week then (actually pretty decent in 1978...yeah the powerful '70's unions!), my mother worked in a circuit-board manufacturing plant, don't know what income she made but it was piecework so if it meant rapidly soldering them capacitors in mass-quantities equaled more money for Christmas for her kids, my mom, no doubt, worked her fuckin' ass off.

We are primarily French-Canadian but, on my mother's side, are a bit Polish too so our Christmas traditions melded the two cultures perfectly. My mother would prepare days in advance for the Christams Eve dinner. Extended members of the family all came to our house because it was so popular. She and my father, and by '78 all us kids too, would help prepare the (phonetically spelled) Kapusta (pork, cabbage, sauerkraut and barley stew), Gowumpkies (rice and pork stuffed cabbage rolls), and especially labor intensive Pierogies (potato and cheese stuffed pasta turnovers). Regarding this dish, these were NOT the frozen things in the supermarket. They were pasta dough from scratch, filling from scratch, assembled, boiled and covered in sauteed onions from scratch. Hours of work, but the taste....totally worth it! For the French-Canadian portion, my father's mother, my Memere (there should be an accent above the last E in that French word for grandmother but I don't know what ALT-key combo produces it and don't care to try to find out, ;P) brought over the Pork Pies (cinnamon and clove spiced ground pork and potatoes in a pastry pie shell).

Like so many of the numerous parties my parents threw (they were party animals!), lots of beer and liquor would be quaffed by all the adult, and admittedly, some of the under-aged partiers. We kids, though not given free-reign to suck down as much as we could, were allowed at these occasions to have a "couple". That "couple" could all too easily be increased to "several" if we wanted, we each discovered.

Yes Christmas times in the late '70's were grand and I'll write more FLASHBACKs of X-Mas memories as this blog trods along in time, but for now, let me get back to that guitar.

The guitar brought about a new Cindy (my sister). She spent hours in her room studying instruction manuals on playing the guitar and tried to teach herself to play. It dominated her free time for the next several months. She did pick quite a bit from her self-tutoring, though she never became really well versed in it. With the skill of stroking out a chord here and there she then started turning her attention to song writing. Eventually her playing practice times waned as her her time devoted to writing songs increased. This shift occured progressively throughout the winter of '78/''79. By Spring of 1979 with the onset of pleasant weather, my sister pretty much abandoned her musical career aspirations in favor of outdoor activities.

But in those short months of my 13-year old sister's musically-creative burst, my sister did write and perform a few songs which, oddly enough, to this day so many years later are still remembered by me. She used a lot of gibberish words to compose her songs (perhaps she was saving the real words for another audience? More on those assumptions later). She liked folk-style songs and each of these tunes have a folk kinda' melody. I don't know music notation so I can't write down the melody but for each but think 19th century folk classics like "I've Been Working On The Railroad", mixed with John Denver and The Osmonds and that's the sound!

Song 1:

Colenegay Kalala Chum Chum Chum Chum,
Colenegay Kalala Chum Chum Chum Chum.

Song 2:

You and I,
We have been through much together,
You are Black and I am White...
Well Baby,
We Can Make It Together!
We Can Make It Together!
Like I Planned!

(And finally the ditty I was humming on the way to work this morning which inspired this post)
Song 3:

Saraspunda Saraspunda Saraspunda Ret-Set-Set,
Saraspunda Saraspunda Saraspunda Ret-Set-Set,

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

FLASHBACK: Summer 1981

I had met Kathleen at a party earlier in the summer at the Providence home of one of the executive officers of the Rhode Island Chapter of Junior Achievement. The celebration was for the winners of the annual NAJAC awards. These awards were given out at the annual banquet at the oh-so-posh Biltmore Hotel L'Apogee Ballroom about a month earlier. Categories were in areas of business accomplishments such as Most Profitable Company, Top Salesperson, Most Innovative Product and Best Speaker, etc. I won for Best Speaker, I think (it was a long time ago and a whole different mindset:) Kathleen had been on one of the more profitable companies, I think, I really don't remember.

At the time I was still confused about my sexuality. I had already had a pretty hot fling with my best friend earlier that year but my love for him went unrequieted. He just wanted an easy blow job every now and again. I'll mention more of him in his own FLASHBACK some other time though. There are pages and pages of memories about him. Most of it sad and pathetic, I'm afraid.

Kathleen and I struck up a conversation and her attraction for me was very evident. Being shy and not one to come on strongly, I nearly missed the flirt but I caught it in time before the end of the party and arranged to go on a date with her.

On our first date we chose to go sailing. Her family had a house on the Kickamuit Estuary a body of water opening up towards the south into the larger Mount Hope Bay (itself eventually opening to the even greater Narragansett Bay) on the east coast of Bristol, Rhode Island, bordering Massachusetts.

The boat was a little fiberglass Sunfish. If you've never seen one, it's like a plastic rowboat with a sail on it. I had never been sailing before so Kathleen literally showed me the ropes. It was very easy and the boat was very manuverable since it was a warm and clear but gusty summer day.

We had decided at first to only sail to the head of the "river" where it meets the bay but since we were having such fun we decided to sail right into the bay. Once in the bay proper it really got exciting. Sailing a tiny boat which gets tossed around very handily by the smallest of waves into a broad expanse of salt water with deeper swells and choppy waters...let me tell you is quite invigorating and a little bit frightening.

Kathleen knew of a small sand spar in the middle of Mount Hope Bay called, plainly enough, simply Spar Island. It was just a spit of rocky/sandy land about 15 feet wide and 50 feet long and encrusted with empty and cracked shells of all kinds and lots of bird guano. I think she had the idea it would be a great little make-out spot, and from the empty and broken beer bottles and remains of crude campfires, so did other couples think that (...don't know where these past visitors had gotten the wood, of course there wasn't a tree, bush or even a notable sized patch of grass anywhere, maybe they brought it with them). I made no "move" on her, though (big surprise, huh?) and after some brief sunbathing decided to head back to the house.

On the trip back, I took the ropes in-hand and now that we were heading into the wind we had to tack back and forth along our general course to catch the head-on wind and fill our sail to move our boat in diagonals against the wind. I got a little too rambunctious and suddenly lost control of the sail. It filled with a strong gust of air and since we were not prepared properly to "go about" (shift weight on the boat by moving to one side to compensate for the pull of the sail to the other side), our boat promptly capsized.

As we were flipping over for some weird reason I wasn't the least bit concerned. I was thrilled and the unexpected plunge into the deep dark grey waters of the bay was welcomed. I even have a feeling in all honesty, hindsight being 20/20 and all, that I probably intentionally caused the "accident". This too despite being a couple miles at least from shore, and, being teenagers too cool to look pathetic wearing bright orange lifejackets, we were sans floatation vests.

Luckily, the water was relatively warm for New England sea water (nothing like the steamy piss water of Florida, of course) and Kathleen and I were very good swimmers. (Back then I had a tight swimmers build and powerful legs from biking). Also in our favor the Sunfish is really lightweight and watertight so it was a cinch righting it and bailing out the few gallons left in order to set her quickly on course again.

My big regret though was that my Sperry Top-Siders sank speedily to the bottom of Mount Hope Bay. Gee, they were so lightweight I would have thought they could float, but they didn't. Back in 1981 for us college-bound New England middle-class kids, it was "so the rage" to emulate the Preppy lifestyle, and a nice well-worn pair of Top-Siders were essential to the well-dressed preppy.

Kathleen and I would continue dating for the rest of that year and on up to the Spring of 1982. Our breakup at my insistance is a whole other episode though. We never had sex, yet we did make out and had some light petting. Really tame stuff. She was a pretty timid Catholic school girl and I probably came off to her as very respectful and pretty pious, but we know that wasn't why I was abstaining from making attempts at anything more than first base...she just didn't have the right junk down there, of course. Perhaps she even suspected I was gay but she never complained and never asked if I were or not.

Ask me no questions, and I'll tell you no lies.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall

This time of year in Florida reminds me of deep winter in Rhode Island. It's a time when weather plays a big role in your psychological health. If you haven't visited here or lived here in central Florida, let me tell is HOT! I understand that for much of the country that is the case right now, but if you are in a northern state (North of say, Maryland), you know you will cool down by late August. Here, it may not be as intense or unexpected or unprepared, but it lasts a long time....October at least. And, as you should know, it's a humid heat...very uncomfortable!

Well, that's my little bitching about the weather, because I walk to work 3 miles each day. But, at least it's good exercise.

The past couple weeks have been very introspective. Odd dreams about my extant but incommunicato family, ups and downs in my tolerance of Ric and his ideosyncracies, and of course, the ever-present dynamic duo of late: dissatisfaction and regret about my employment and subsequent opportunities for improvement (ie. mo' money) available and my chronic and persistent nagging health issues.

I'll fill you in on these more thoroughly as time goes by, dear reader, but for now I must adjourn...for the laundry doth not launder itself; the dinner doth not cook itself, and finally; the phone, which is ringing, and I think it must be Ric calling with some boring details of his workday, doth not answer itself.

'Till morrow? Or whenever, dude! Later!

Friday, July 15, 2005

An Original-Movie Style Oompa-Loompa "Morality" Song For You:

Oompa. Loompa. Oompa-de-doo!
I've got another puzzle for you...

What do you get when you cannot create,
A better sequel to a film that was already great!

Depp's Wonka gives you the out right creeps,
Like Michael Jackson's little friends playin' Hide and Go **bleep**.

You get what you would expect...medicore crap.

I'm admittedly not a Johnny Depp fan. In every role I've seen him in, it seems too apparent he is acting his part. A good actor should make you feel that sense of suspension of disbelief and you should see the character as more real than the actor portraying him/her.

In Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, Depp seems too disconnected from the quirky character of Willy Wonka as if he him self were rolling his eyes when reading the script and saying "Who would believe this crap?"

In one scene this problem of never quite getting immersed into the sense that this was anything but a movie was hightened in fact by Wonka excusing his dazed behavior after a cut away to a flashback scene of his childhood by saying to Mr. Salt: "Oh sorry, I was having a flashback." I'm sure the writers thought that might be cute but especially in a fantasy film where the audience is being asked to let down their guard and believe the unbelievable, lines like this hurt that sense of disassociation with reality.

The original 1971 film aside from being more magical because I was a kid when I first saw it at the baroque-decorated old Stadium Theater on Main Street in Woonsocket, RI, it was also one of the best musicals ever. The current film has a few Oompa-Loompa sung songs as well as Danny Elfman's score and they seemed okay but it was not a musical. Bad choice I think. Re-tooling all the original songs might have been interesting buit perhaps they thought they shouldn't mess with greatness. (Although that didn't stop Direct TV from using that comedian from Curb Your Enthusiasm and murdering the Golden Ticket song in thier commercials)

Another thing was the special effects. Those that were CGI were very apparently CGI and scene for scene, despite the advance of 34 years in FX technology, the original was BETTER.

Take the scene where Violet Beauregarde turns into a giant blueberry. Despite the use of CGI, not much more astounding than the original. In fact, the skin turns blue in a very fiberous way, as if her veins and capillaries are filling with blue fluid, a bit more gross than the original. (I sit close to the screen to be able to see details like that, once it's released to video you probably won't notice that on a TV).

The scene with the trained squirrels "rejecting" Veruca Salt and tossing her in the garbage funnel seemed oh so fake and, again, a bit darker than the original. Those hundreds of squirrels pouncing on here en masse seemed scary. And what was wrong with the original's golden goose room...I mean Veruca's whining to her father demanding a special gold egg-laying goose does seem much more the epitomy of the brat who wants the most opulent of things...a trained squirrel doesn't compare. And her rejection at the end of her musical tirade as the result of being designated a Bad Egg in the original was much more effective than a CGI animated squirrel knocking on her head and declaring her a Bad Nut. What gives?

And last but not least, in the original there was the underlying core of the tale, Charlie's pure heart and goodness. Don't get me wrong, this Charlie was great, Freddie Highmore looks great in the part and he played his role fantastically. The writer's did well in showcasing his good morals and values and loyalty. But it was done more with lines and deeds in assisting Willy with repatriating a relationship with his father...all well and good and I liked the difference in this end story. But, if you remember, in the original, there was the underlying temptation of Slugworth's offer: a large sum of money for an Ever-Lasting Gobstopper. You knew that each of the other kids were going to run, not walk, to Slugworth with the Ever-Lasting Gobstopper the second they were out of the factory. And the overwhelming poverty of Charlie's family would lend one to think, would he too, out of absolute nessessity need to go that route as well. When Wonka declares that Charlie has forfeited the Grand Prize because he broke the rules and sampled the Floating Fizz with Grandpa Joe, it looks like Charlie will be dismissed and will return to his family's hovel dejected. I remember thinking that I would show Mr. Wonka up and sell the candy to Slugworth in a heartbeat out of spite. But what does Charlie do? Charlie calmly places the Ever-lasting Gobstopper, worth thousands of dollars, on Mr. Wonka's desk.

Even as a kid, and to this day, whenever I see this scene it tears me up. Charlie would rather keep his honor and principles of fair play and standing by one's word rather than accept a gift worth a fortune from a man who could not keep his word.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Shall We Play A Game?

I was at the Mobil On-The-Run store on my way home from work this afternoon and as i was buying some refreshements, I glanced at the glass top counter and saw a selection of scratch-off lottery tickets. I am not much of a "gambler", but I thought: "Gee, it's been a while since I bought a lottery ticket, why don't I get one." I was preparing to pull out another dollar bill to buy one ticket when I looked down at the price of the ticket under the glass. It was the kind you see in the image below, "Gold Rush". Then I checked out the price. TWENTY DOLLARS FOR ONE SCRATCH-OFF TICKET!!! How much of a total f'ing loser do you have to be to be stupid enough to put down that for these shitty odds:

*Odds of Winning
$500,000 1-in-2,500,000
$10,000 1-in-75,000
$1,000 1-in-6,000
$500 1-in-175.95
$100 1-in-30
$50 1-in-30
$40 1-in-15
$20 1-in-5

*Direct copy n' paste from the Florida Lottery web site.

I immediately rethought my impulse and was reminded of the famous quote (though stated for a very different game indeed) that the computer program named Joshua, controlling NORAD's W.O.P.R. super-computer, stated in a moment of silicon-chip epiphany in the film "War Games": "The only way to win the game is not to play at all."

What The F***!!!

Top Ten Stupid Things People Say When Calling Cingular Customer Service

(ie: you will not get good customer service if you say these things)

10. Hi, I don't know my wireless number or account number.
9. Am I speaking with a live person?
8. My phone keeps dropping calls but I am calling you on it.
7. I have been with AT&T Wireless but ever since Cingular took over things have been terrible.
6. I need to speak with a supervisor!
5. I just saw a great deal for a free V3 Razr on the web...what can you do for me?
4. I was in the Bahamas and didn't know I was racking up $2.29 a minute in international roaming charges. Can't you lower this 'cause the Bahamas are just 16 miles off the coast of Florida?
3. You are the 8th rep I have been transfered to, I hope you can help me...
2. I hope you don't hang up on me like the last person!
1. If we get disconnected, can you call me back?

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Hurricane Haiku

my cousin dennis,
troubled and twirling. to. fro.
bother us no more.

All Quiet On The Western Front

All Quiet On The Western least here. Dennis has grazed our western front but so far out as to not make any appreciable fuss. Not the case for our fellow Floridians in the western panhandle. My heart goes out to them...may they be safe.

All Quiet Here

Ric got in around 2:30am or so I guess, I only heard the door shut. He must have been pretty quiet since I didn't fully wake up. Checking out the scene in the kitchen this morning, doesn't look too bad...a couple dried up french fries in the sink and a crumpled Steak N' Shake bag in the trash...he obviously had the taxi stop there on the way home.

I know he makes good money and all but he does have high overhead. Credit card debt, court costs and upcoming anticipated penalties and fees due to the DUI, and now the costs of owning this condo. Of course I know my rent reduces his effective expenses regarding monthly mortgage and association fees, but I fear he would not be able to maintain his payments with out my $500 per month.

When you add in the costs of just one of these binge nights, and the fact they occur at least once or twice a week, it gets expensive indeed.

I estimate yesterday cost the following for him:
*Wings, tomato caprasi and beers at Uno's....................$30
*Tucher beers at Thirsty Whale.....................................$40
*Taxi to Parlaiment House in Orlando, 30 miles away....$35
*Drinks at P-House, cover charge, dancer tips, etc........$60
*Taxi back home, and stop at Steak N' Shake...............$45
Total for nite................................................................$210

He realizes, I think, that this lifestyle will need to change once the judges gavel is rapped down on his bench in a month or so, we expect (although this pre-trail date has been pushed back strategically by multiple docket hearings and motion hearings put forth by his lawyers for almost a year now). Although Martha and I reassure him that the case is weak and will likely be dismissed, I really don't believe that. Ric's story of the events of the night of his arrest morph slighly each time he tells it. And, ultimately, I can see in his eyes he knows he was guilty. But if he is charged, he'll likely get the minimums as prescribed by the request of the prosecutors and state law. Bitch is, state law is precise in it's constrictions placed on individual judges. The conservatives were successful a few years back in creating mandatory minimum fines and jail sentences for DUI convicts. Ric is looking at 30 days minimum in jail, 10 years revocation of driver's licence, probation, mandatory monthly drug testing, group counseling, DUI classes, etc. But the worst is it would go down not as a misdemeanor, but a felony. This could be very bad for his future with his employer. Insurance companies frown on their agents having felonies, I'm sure.

Time will tell. I do hope for the best though, yet I think he should have gotten the DUI classes and Victim's Impact out of the way before entering a plea IF he is going to plea out. But his lawyers want him to stick with it. They think they can get it reduced to Wreckless Driving. A misdemeanor and far less penalties. Also, no state law required minimum sentencing restrictions imposed on the judge.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Fasten Your Seatbelts, Boys...It's Gonna Be A Bumpy Night!

Well, Ric just got in, and, as predicted, he is totally wasted. But does he call it a night and go to bed? Noooo. Does he decide to play it safe now and sip a few of his Coors Lights he has in the fridge? Noooo. He has a cab waiting for him downstairs since he is gonna continuing the Party Of One ('cause he's so fucked up that's all it will be) at the Parlaiment House.

As long as I've known Ric (about 8 years now?), he has fostered quite a reputation at the Orlando area gay bars. P-House is one of the few remaining that will tolerate him. He's been banned by more than a couple gay and "straight" bars. When I first went clubbing with him a few years back one of my friends scooted up to me when Ric was in the restroom and told me he's known as a trouble maker in the community. Just a few years ago, a friend from my then workplace who was gay, after meeting Ric told me he had once seen him at a leather/Levi bar get into a heated argument with another patron. The guy got so pissed at Ric, he walked up to the dart board, pulled out a dart and threw it at Ric while Ric's back was turned. Ric was apparantly so drunk he didn't even feel the dart which had logged in the back of his neck. It stayed stuck there for a few minutes until it finally fell out on it's own, all the while several other patron's, who had witnessed how much of a jerk Ric was being, laughed at him behind his back.

To keep the reader up to speed, Ric is not my boyfriend, we have never had an attraction for each other sexually, and I have no desire to ever attempt a move in that direction. Up until 2003, in fact, I had a lot of reservations about even being close friends with him. But a lot has happened to both of us in the past few years, for myself, I regard my situation as that of a state of koyaanisquatsi, life out of balance. For Ric, I don't think he really has ever been in anything but a state of koyaanisquatsi. For Ric, his tool of choice to "clear the cobwebs" of his state of being, kinda like the degauss button clears the built up misaligned magnetic fields in a CRT monitor, is booze. For me it has been the same as well but I feel the days are numbered for that self-destructive path and I'm hoping other means of escapism or expression, like this blog, can help achieve results to that desired effect, yet a hell of a lot more healthy.

At times I feel sorry for Ric, but other times feel he does look for it and thus gets what he deserves.

I expect in a few hours, after the bar closes (or earlier if he gets thrown out), he'll come stumbling in. I'll be assleep by then hopefully and the condo is big enough end soundproofed enough so I shouldn't be too bothered by his moaning and wailing while soaking the wee morning hours away upstairs in his bathtub. It's very nice to have bedrooms and adjoining baths on different floors. I will be thankful for it tonight.

I Am Stuffed!

Just got back a short time ago from having an early dinner at our fav restaurant/bar Uno's. Had the small Chicago Classic deep dish pizza, all by myself as, of course, Ric had to order the usual...buffalo wings. I can eat well, thus my weight of course, but this "small" pizza is just a bit much for 1 person (it's designed for 2 or 3...tee, hee!)

I'm still a bit pissed at Ric for last weekend's rant of his. He had come home drunk at the early hour of just 6pm (you know that's not good) last Friday and started whaling in on me for no reason. Granted the guy has gone through more than his share of stresses of late, but so have I, and when he does this unexpected attack, it just reminds me so vividly of my father when I was growing up.

All week I've not been leaving messages on the white board, purposely keeping him on edge. He called me Tues. evening from work and asked if I were mad at him. I told him "I'll get over it." This morning, I enjoyed sleeping in late, very late for me (I usually wake for work for 6am). When I finally got up at 11:30am, Ric was in his bathroom just finishing his shower. I made a small bowl of Post Cranberry Almond Crunch with Silk and took it to my room while I went online. Though my bedroom door was open, Ric came down stairs and then took his bike out for a ride. He came back about 45min later, and sat in the living room watching Robo Cop or some dumb shit movie like that. Finally about 3:30pm he appears in my door and gives his usual little Sqiggy-like "Hullo..." Like the world's all honkey-dory.

I was still hungry so when he asked if I wanted to go to Uno's I agreed. We sat at our usual places at the bar...well, actually a seat or two to the right as we didn't have to worry about sitting too close to Shalom...for some reason Ric hates her. I think it's cause she drinks iced teas or diet cokes and yes, she does give a school marm-ish look if patron seem a bit under the influence. I do agree with Ric that this is ironic behavior for someone to be a prude about drinking while at a bar. I mean, what does she expect?

I only stayed to play 3 games of NTN since, 1. I was not in a mood for drinking and being around Ric while he's getting smashed and you stay sober really sucks. 2. I really did only go out for the pizza. 3. It was too early for sittin' around a bar, with hardly anyone there. 4. I really want him to think about the hateful things he said last weekend and how continued trash talk could potentially impact my feelings towards him negatively.

If we were characters in The Sims, we need some good gibberish sounds and icon balloons which will create green plus signs over both our heads soon.

Our Favorite Neighborhood Hangout

As I look out my window, it appears the sky has taken on an eerie glow. Posted by Picasa

The storm is southwest of here but it's feeder bands are likely causing some distortion in the colors of the sky during sunset. It's been pretty cloudy all day and though rainless today (a rare thing lately) I would expect they sky to open up later as the east edge of the storms bands move over here.

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Hurricane Dennis is making his way into the Gulf of Mexico. The projected paths take it well west of Central Florida but this area is still very shell shocked from last year. The news media, the co-worker and the stranger you see on the street go about their business with a palpable undercurrent of caution.

Last summer I was in New Orleans, of course, so I can't quite appreciate the experiences of the folks who survived the 3 storms that hit here in CF and their untrusting glances up into the cloudy sky. New Orleans had it's own brush with potential doom when Hurricane Ivan made a beeline for NOLA and caused the evauation of the entire city. I stayed put even though the house I was in was in a lower level area of the city (that's really low since the city is below sea level anyway) and less than a mile south of the shore of Lake Pontchartrain. The anticipation of the "worst case scenario" (massive flooding killing thousands) was far worse than the effects of the storm itself. In the end Ivan made an eastward bolt just before it greeted the southeast tip of Terrebone Parish and decided to skip the Big Easy and headed to Mobile instead. There was hardly a twig out of place in the sunshiny wake of that overpuffed pussy.

So after my experience I tend to lean to the side of the underestimator I guess. I'll be the one this season, continually saying: "Oh you're worrying about nothing. It won't do a thing!"

We'll see if my bold defiance will be met by a resounding bellow from above: "OH, REALLY??!!"

Friday, July 08, 2005

"Our trek begins..." Posted by Picasa

Time Reports in the 21st Century

Remember those really boring study hall periods in junior high school? Since we weren't allowed to talk to each other, each student had to create an activity to do at their desks to look as if they were working on school assignments. I don't remember anyone who actually DID school work, instead we invented things to do to whittle away the time until the next class.

I alternately doodled, sketched, created to-do lists, day-dreamed, composed plans to smuggle a gun into school and blow away as many people as I could...(JUST KIDDING! Man, that was not an issue in my day, thankfully!)

One of the really interesting things I did though was making maps of fantasy worlds made up of interconnected continents and archipelagos. I would start with a clean sheet of notebook paper...the kind from a spiral-bound notebook. When you tore a page from one of those notebooks, the perforated edge would always end up with these snippets of paper, I guess they would be similar to the oh-so-famous "dangling chads" of the 2000 election ballots here in Florida...just jagged little bits of paper with fuzzy edges from the ripped fibers that make up the paper.

I would take one of those "chads" and from a height of about 2 feet off the surface of the paper lying on the desktop and drop it. Because of the fuzzy edges, and its relative light weight, it would gently but erratically flutter to the paper surface in a pretty much random way each time it was dropped. When it landed on the paper, I would use my trusty freshly-sharpened No. 2 pencil (Eberhard-Faber were favored) and trace the outline of it on the paper.

Sometimes it would snag one of the errant fibers sticking out of the edge of the chad and that was added to the random-ness of the outline as it dragged the paper bit across the blank sheet.

After multiple drops, the blobs of pencil "islands" would tend to merge and I would need to erase the boundaries at the connected parts to build up an ever-evolving "world" of continents and islands, resplendent with jagged fjords, inviting bays and harbors, gnarled peninsulas and twisting isthmuses. Once I felt my world was aesthetically complete, I would start to imagine countries on this map scape.

Now, the allocation of land to these imaginary countries would have its own rules, regulations and ritual as well. I had another sheet of paper on which I drew a grid of as many as 20 to 25 squares. Each square was numbered. I would, again using my trusty (though now a little smudgy with graphite dust from the pencil rubbing up against it's edges) chad, drop it from the same relative height as before onto the grid in order to select a number for each fake nation. The number would correspond to the number of island pieces (either individual islands or the congealed segments making up the continents) each country got as it's territory.

I would fathom all sorts of outrageous names for the lands like "Confederacy of Aeotinia", "Chastenkean Republic" and the "Crotherian Empire". Some of these names I got from the SF books I read, other were anagrams or reconfigurations of the names of friends and family.

From this pastime I eventually developed a few of the maps into a more rounded picture of a planet rich in a history of the rise and fall of civilizations over a span of thousands of years. This developed into the saga of the Nastralian world...a fantasy realm in which I imagined myself the Supreme Leader...the Riothamus Clovis the Great.

Geography, history and fantasy/SF were and still are favorites of mine so this somewhat geeky and quirky pastime oh so enjoyably filled my otherwise boring study periods.

Another study hall practice of mine was keeping a log of the passing snigglets of thought...random rants and raves or solemn reflections on anything and everything. Expressions of a teen aged boy trying to make sense of things out-of-whack or the perfectly-sensible.

These entries were called Time Reports and they were designed to be messages from the young me to the older me, to be read many years in the "future" (perhaps, I imagined, in THE YEAR 2000 (cue Conan O'Brien and his band member La Bamba, please)).

Well, let me tell you, I've never been good at keeping things over the years...not one survived past 1982. So much for that. I do remember though they were at times quite insightful and I remember pretty well written (at least I thought so, of course, no one but me had ever read them). Some had drawings, others quotes and many had short poems or one of my favorite things to compose, haiku.

Well, consider this blog the 21st century comeback of the Time Reports...this time created for whomever wants to read them...take from them what you will. But just like those old logs, they should aid the confused mind and build resolve for the "Mot De Guere" (I'll define Chausseisms like that phrase as time goes on), at least for me anyway.