Friday, May 30, 2008
My friendship with Michael Drolet had ended abruptly after I had written a letter on notebook paper to him. I don’t remember the exact contents but I know it was way too poetic and way too focused on feelings to be considered appropriate communication between two “normal” 13 year old boys.
On a barely-acknowledged level I was starting to have amorous feelings for him and thought he might be inclined likewise.
Needless to say, he wasn’t.
He ridiculed me from there on after in front of other classmates and when that got boring he eventually ignored me as if I didn’t exist.
Now the hunches other kids had about me were confirmed. I was a boy who liked to wear nice clothes everyday including suede shoes, at a time when the de facto dress standard for kids our age was confined basically to iron-on decal t-shirts, faded flare-legged jeans and Converse-style canvas top sneakers. I despised gym class and didn’t get along well with the other boys since I lacked an interest in all boyish things like sports and talking about girls.
I found 8th grade tougher too. The curriculum was stepping up to a pre-high school level in my honors-level courses and expectations were higher.
Home life had become more stressed as well. Though my parents wouldn’t have discussed their financial situation to us kids in any detail, in hindsight, I can see that our standard-of-living was starting to press heavily on their (my parents’) pocketbook. They were in debt up to their eyeballs. They had just bought our house on Pearl Street two years earlier and in that short time, to this year of 1977, they had managed to tear down a couple walls, one interior and one exterior, remodeled the dining room and living room, put in first an above ground swimming pool, then a year later, an inground pool to replace it, a new patio, new vinyl siding and a new roof. Whew! My mom and dad never saw a loan or line-of-credit they could pass up.
So I think it was a perfect time in my life to have found someone who would become my new best friend.
During one of the late afternoon study hall classes, I noticed another kid in class who was drawing in a notebook. I approached him and saw he was drawing elaborate imaginary spaceships, like you’d see in the recent movie “Star Wars”. I showed him some of my drawings and we both started talking about drawing and stuff. We hit it off right away. I noticed one thing about this kid that was very unusual: He seemed even shier and a little nerdier than I was. And I was very shy and nerdy, let me tell you.
His name was John and he was a small kid, short for our age. He was very skinny and had tight curly hair.
That kinky hair would, over the next couple of years grow into a full blown afro, and would earn him the nickname Richard Simmons. Perhaps he was called that for other reasons as well, like a certain "swishiness" in the way he carried himself, eh? Not too overt, but just enough to make you wonder.
It’s funny how a little detail that no one else would likely pick up on sticks in your head when you are attracted to someone…
…a little, mundane physical trait.
In this case, it was John’s hands. They were so slim and fragile-looking. But when he was drawing, they expressed such poetic dexterity and grace. They looked so soft and smooth and his fingernails were mere nubs and looked so cute. (A result as I would subsequently learn, like I would learn all his habits and mannerisms, of constant nail biting.)
(Note: As I sit here typing this post now over 30 years after the timeframe of this flashback, my eyes are slightly glazing over, welling up with a little melancholy tear. Oh how I loved those hands.)
Seated next to John was his best friend, a boy named Camille. We 3 would become close friends that fall.
Camille would not acknowledge it, but with him, there was no question about it...
This boy was queer as a three dollar bill!
I mean, even his name, coincidentally, was totally gay sounding: Camille Saint Onge. Sounds like a drag queen name.
Camille made John and I look practically butch by comparison.
Yet he was reluctant to come to terms with it, and even in later years, would vehemently deny he was gay.
And in these early puberty years, he like John and I was probably just as confused as all gay boys growing up “different”, so to be “out and proud” was both pre-mature developmentally as well as way too ahead of the times. Even most gay adults were mainly in the closet, except for the big cities, in the 70s. There were no support groups or LBGT student organizations like there are today. It was strictly “Don’t Tell, Don’t Tell”.
Camille hung out mainly with his posse of “girlfriends”. The girls all loved to hang with him, especially the few black girls in school. He was sensitive, into fashion, disco and movie stars, and had a razor sharp wit. Camille was the only guy in junior high bold enough to regularly wear platform shoes and rose-colored sunglasses, ala, Elton John.
(Note: Years later, when I first saw the TV sitcom “That 70’s Show” and saw the Fez character…I thought, “OMG…It’s Camille! To a tee.” The only difference was that Fez was a little odd because he was foreign, not that he was gay. Although I think for a while they may have hinted at some homosexual tendencies, eh? I don’t know for sure, I never watched the show regularly.)
Tensions would elevate over the course of that school year between Camille and I over the allegiance of John. John and I were hanging out exclusive of Camille more and more, and before long, we were best friends and Camille relegated to a mere acquaintance.
Over the next summer and the start of the 9th grade a year later, John became practically my shadow. He followed me where ever I went and we became inseparable. I realized I probably had become a surrogate brother figure to him. John was a foster child, and his foster mom was terrible. He was a totally turnkey kid, and since he would have been alone anyway, I had him over my house more and more.
This was still many years before any sexual activity between us, but I also knew I had a certain power over John. He looked up to me and would do anything I asked him. I also, sought to protect him from anything, or, anyone that would get between us.
By Fall of 1978, Camille had become my nemesis. I subconsciously saw him as potential competition in my quest to win the heart and soul of John.
One day, in the school cafeteria, I heard Camille and his “girl power” posse giggling amongst themselves, and when I looked over, I was sure they were pointing at me.
I waited 'til Camille was finished with his lunch and bringing his tray up to the tray deposit station.
Then I walked briskly up to him and as he turned to face me I swung at his face with my right fist.
I caught him square on the nose and heard a loud “SNAP”.
Then I just turned and calmly walked out of the cafeteria as members of his posse screamed and ran to Camille’s side as he fell to the floor.
I walked upstairs and reported to my next class on time and sat at my desk. The news of what I had done had not yet circulated up to this floor. I noticed I was shaking. I wasn’t really sure why I had done what I had just done, other than that I had suddenly felt blind rage towards Camille and reacted to that intense feeling without thinking anything through. To this day, I’m not entirely sure why I did it. Did I think he was laughing at me? Mocking me? Or was it simply I was starting to inwardly realize that I was slowly becoming like him, what I would then, in homophobic denial label "a mincing fag".
After a couple minutes of sitting there waiting for class to start, one of Camille’s posse, a black girl named Crystal, walked into the class (which she was not assigned to) and from behind me up to my desk. As I looked up when she reached me, she punched me square in the face. She hit me just above my left eye. Almost immediately, I developed a bruise that swelled to massive proportions.
“That’s for braking Camille’s nose!”, she screamed, and then she walked out.
The whole class stood frozen in shock, including the teacher.
I just put my head down in my folded arms on my desk and started to cry. Not so much as a result of the pain (though it did indeed sting) but because it was just confirmed that I had broken my friend Camille’s nose. I realized I didn’t hate him after all. But I did hate the monster I had become.
I was sent to the nurse, who checked me out…no major damage (yet from then on my left eyelid would be slightly lazier than my right for the rest of my life). I was sent home. The next day my father and I had to meet with the principal. I was suspended for one day. I had never so much as been in detention before this.
Camille’s nose eventually healed, but, of course, we never spoke again. John and I would become even closer. Aside from me admitting to John I felt sorry for it, we never talked about the assault.
John and I would, years later, have our own parting of the ways, of course.
But not in these halcyon days of sprouting emotional development and self-realization upheaval. Not yet.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Computer: Warning! Coolant Level Dropping...
Computer: Warning! Coolant Level Dropping...
Banner: NO!!!! Let Me out of here! (Screaming)
Third world locales notwithstanding, I hardly think in this day and age it would be too much to ask for a consistent, uninterrupted supply of electricity for one’s home.
Ugh! Again, this morning, just before I had to leave for work, the power went out in my house.
Last time, it was some car wreck elsewhere in Lake Mary which cut out power all along Lake Mary Blvd., the main drag in town…and the way to work. So it not only affected my house, but police had to man every intersection since all the traffic lights were out too. And during morning “rush hour”. (I was impressed with how quickly the police got to those intersections though. Power went out, 10 minutes later I had to drive to work, and the cops were already there, at each intersection along the 2 mile strip of LMB I had to drive. Wow.)
So this time, I listened on the car radio for any news of accidents…none. And the traffic lights…all working. Homes and businesses along the way seem also to have not been affected.
I hope it’s not my house alone. Like some kinda electrical issue like wiring or fuses. That sucks.
My landlord lives in the house right next door, but I haven’t seen him around lately. Not unusual, he’s hardly ever around. But what if he’s gone? And left without paying the electric bill?
I worry about the stupidest things.
The video clip is not the best one out there of the Hulk coaster, but it was one of the only ones I could find that included the recorded dialog at the start of the ride.
Great idea of the designers of this ride. What better way to build anxiety at the start of a rollercoaster ride than to have sirens blaring and a computer voice saying WARNING!...WARNING!
The Incredible Hulk ride was the first “big” rollercoaster I allowed myself to get on since Magic Mountain in California oh so many eons ago.
The link above will take you to the post in this blog that references that experience. I think I’ll start to do that more from now on, since, we’re coming up on the 3 year anniversary of this blog, and since IMHO there are some gems of posts from the past, if they pertain to a current topic of discussion, then they can be linked to provide a more robust, interconnected experience.
Well, the “coolant level” part of the dialog is so pertinent, since I will be dealing with it’s effects when I get home around 5:30.
The house will be an Easy Bake oven.
Forecast is a normal-for-us 90 degrees with escalating humidity throughout the day. So even IF the power is back when I get home, it will take hours to get the temp down.
One fact of living in Central Florida, air conditioning is not optional. Life sucks without it. And in a little cracker box of a house like mine, with no insulation and only 3 windows, it’s really bothersome.
And it’s actually freezing here at work. It will make the house’s temperature seem even more oppressive by comparison.
Yay, looking forward to it…NOT!
BTW, here's a bit-o-trivia about the Incredible Hulk coaster and it's unique "blasted launch" from IOA Central:
The launch is powered by a 2 megawatt generator. If the attraction were to be powered off of Orlando’s power grid, a single launch would black out the city.
So that's what happened this morning!
Damn tourists! ;)
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Well, lets see, what else about my life in these past few days is also categorized as ephemeral?
For one...remember the jubilation at hitting 299, people? Just a couple weeks ago! And it had continued to drop to 295 a day or two later! How about that! (I'm talking about my weight, folks!)
So what's it at now?...
"Show us the tote board, Ed!"*
*Okay, kiddies...This is a reference to the periodic updates of the giant totals readout of the amount of money donated thus far during the annual Jerry Lewis Labor Day MDA Telethons, the classic ones of the 70s.
Jerry, sweaty, greasy-haired and bloated from exhaustedly hosting the show non-stop for hours, would turn to Ed McMahon while dragging on his cigarette and ask for the update to the numbers. And the tote board would flip dramatically through digits and flash, as the orchestra played a snippet of Burt Bacharach's "What The World Needs Now Is Love" accompanied by a building tymphani and drum roll. Then popping of lights and crescendo of music and symbols clashing as the board displayed the gains of countless more millions of dollars, lovingly pledged in by telethon viewers across the country.
Oh the drama, as Jerry would practically fall over in emotional upheaval as he expressed his gratitude, crying into his scotch-on-the-rocks and looking bleary-eyed into the cameras in thanks...for the kids.
BTW, don't get me wrong by this remembrance of classic Jerry Lewis Telethon days of yesteryear, I fully support his cause and feel for those afflicted with MD as anyone would, but c'mon, can you say "Yessir, I would like some more cheese with my wine!"
Okay, back to reality. And the tote board says: 305
Yup, 305 people. I gained 10 pounds back in the last 2 weeks. Boo, freakin' hoo!
Why? One word: Ric. He's the devil.
No I can't put the blame totally on him, but seriously, he's not really the best influence in the world, folks.
Couple his lack of support (more like outright mockery at times) with his eat, drink and, well, drink some more, attitude, and, well, it's just impossible to maintain a healthy frame-of-mind. (Or avoid having a sentence with way too many commas, it appears.)
Suffice it to say, I am getting back on track today, folks!
Last week my Sansa Clip mp3 player bit the dust. (From just a little sweat folks...so do not place an mp3 player anywhere on your body that you sweat when you work out...for me that's really hard since I am a sweating machine when working out.) So I went to Target and bought an iPod Shuffle.
Oh, that reminds me, I gotta cancel that Rhapsody account. And you can't just click on a link to do it either, they make you call in to customer service. Hrumph!
The Shuffle came with ear buds, but they suck. Really, I was surprised. Luckily the ones from my now dead Sansa were still good, so I use them instead.
I am dragging butt today since I didn't get that much sleep last night. I have a favorites folder filled with links to various blogs I like to visit. And reading written blogs and viewing video blogs is what I was doin' to the wee hours, folks! It's like my own personal reality show since you are watching all these strangers and getting to know the daily (or whatever frequency they post) goings-on in their lives.
Kinda like you are doing now.
If you ain't just me, that is.
But I think that's all there is since there's an endless void of comments goin' on here folks. Had a few spam comments a year or two ago, but since I put the "anti-bot" requirement on the comments, there has just been....nothing.
Maybe I have a lot of robots reading my blog, and because they lack the ability to "see" the disfigured letters, they can't post their comments.
Well, it's just as well since their comments would likely be in binary language:
011100100 100 001100 1010 1000100 10100 10 0011 11100 00101001 0010 00 01
Faded dreams, widening butts, childhood TV addict memories, fizzled digital music players and now, fake machine code conversations with mechanical men.
People, I need a life!
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Browsing around on YouTube today, I found some prime examples of what I’m talking about. I’ve selected a few from the comments section of just one sample video.
Of course, to get the juiciest of the juicy watermelon patch that is YouTube comment idiocy, you have to pick a controversial video. Hmmm, how about videos exposing supposed 9/11 conspiracies? Gee, I hope there is a variety to choose from. Oh, yup. There are thousands of them!
We begin with chronik24’s “well-phrased” opinion, albeit with a total lack of even glancing at the “spellcheck” button, of course:
it was not bomb stop thinking that you see clearly the dame planes fly into the too towers and that was the coz of the collaps not no f...ing bombs if canada and the usa stops letting foren ppl in are countrys then we would not have this problem anymore
So now iconoclast911 responds to this with the following statement. And, at first, I’m thinking…”Oh good, someone criticizing chronik24 for his anti-immigrant rant.”…but his criticism is not about that, it’s about the fact chronik24 doesn’t believe it was a pre-planned conspiracy:
you are practically illiterate. The fact that huge explosions went off in the basement levels of both towers and 7WTC is a known fact beyond dispute. Go watch some 9/11 videos. Mini, upward directed hydrogen bombs turned the concrete, office furniture, computers, telephones, etc. to a fine dust. The pools of molten steel found under all three buildings were the result of a nuclear reaction. "scalar weaponry" that liquified the core steel collums instantly, just prior to each collapse.
Well, that’s a new one…nuclear bombs, eh? Hydrogen bombs, no less. And did they have a "Magic Sponge" that absorbed all the radiation? Hmmm. Okie Dokie.
Here, mickdee06 mentions that he has “done research” on the equipment that was used in the buildings. Hmm. So he was one of the scientists analyzing the “equipment”? (And doesn’t he mean “materials”?) Yes, I’m sure structural engineers or chemical researchers are roving YouTube all the time, looking to add their two cents to all kinds of videos:
the heat generated by the fire could not have created enough heat to melt the steel structure i have done research on the equipment that was used in these buildings and the steel that was used could well withstand the fire im not saying it was bombs but it could have been even though there was no residue plus the speed the buildings fell at was way faster than possible if it was just the plane that did the damage
Here’s what sounds a little bit more like a rational person:
What a boring and utterly lame argument you pose--I mean really. Has there been any physical evidence (forensics showing plastic explosives or bomb residue) from the rubble? They picked through that stuff with a fine-tooth comb. Those planes were going nearly 400 MPH, loaded with 10,000+ gallons of fuel. Makes perfect sense to me that the impact plus incredible prolonged heat weakens structures, structures crumble. Go back and hit that bong again, and try to be more creative next time.
Oh oh, though. He insulted potheads! On YouTube? Can you say “Flamewar”?
it was not search through with a fine tooth comb they were loading the ruble up within days of the colapse selling the steel to scrap yards in china and dumping the shit they couldn't sell. oh and btw maybe you sould hit the bong once... don't knock it untill you try it.
Oh yes, mwhfucker…let’s get China in there. Maybe they were in on it. That’s it! They wanted to buy the steel from the towers so they orchestrated the whole thing!
Well, at least these ravings are not as bad as the BS on this blog:
According to this site, there were no planes. It was all smoke and mirrors.
I guess when it comes right down to it, we all see what we want to see.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
I had a little bit of heartburn from the remains of the previous evening's sumptuous "last supper": broiled ribeye, rosemary roasted potatoes and a dessert of cherry cheesecake all washed down with a bottle of Augey bordeaux.
But the real reason for the slight nausea was apprehension and nervousness.
I was well aware of my fate and prepared as much as I could be, but in a situation such as this, who wouldn't be a little scared?
The gavel had been dropped...
I had just been judged guilty and sentenced to jail.
A month earlier, I had met with a high-priced lawyer in Winter Park to see if I had any viable defense in my DUI case. But with the facts as they were, it didn't look good: video of my failure of the sidewalk sobriety test, competent and trained breathalyser personnel, and a reading of .20, more than double the legal limit of .08, I had no leg to stand on.
So I opted to go with the public defender and planned to have him enter my plea of "no contest" during the pre-trial in February.
I had already found out what I was looking at on an internet search of Florida laws. Since it was my second DUI within 5 years of the first one, the penalties were ramped up through the roof:
* Revocation of driver's license for 5 years
* One year supervised probation
* Fine of no less than $1000
* Impound of vehicle for 30 days
* Mandatory attendance in DUI classes
* Mandatory 6 months drug and alcohol counselling
* Mandatory 10 days in jail
The first penalty was bad, but after some sweaty and nerve-wracked searching of the transportation alternatives I had, I discovered that I could still keep my job...but it would be tough. It meant using the public buses and for my Altamonte site, it meant 2 hours on a bus, each way.
The other penalties, except the last on the list, were all money. Thankfully, I had it. And what I didn't immediately have, I could borrow. Ironically, just a week or so before my conviction, I had just been issued a credit card with a $5,000 credit limit. Whew!
But that last one. That was the kicker.
Jail! The Big House! The Pen! Up The River!
And the scary thing was it was 10 days MINIMUM, but up to 6 months if the judge warranted it. What if the judge had a bug up his butt that day, or, he was a hardcore advocate of Mothers Against Drunk Driving? Or, simply because I was intoxicated at twice the legal limit, he'd give me a stiffer sentence for that? All these uncertainties played in my head. And the butterflies had turned into hornets in my stomach.
I had taken a cab to insure I'd get to my pre-trail on time at the newly-built Orange County Courthouse skyscraper in downtown Orlando. Ric had promised he would be at the courthouse to provide support for me. At first I was against this. I wanted to "walk to the gallows" on my own. But after I thought about it a bit, it seemed like a comforting idea that he would be there for me during this scary morning.
Ric was a little late, but within a few minutes of the proceedings getting underway he entered the courtroom, saw me, and sat by me. Oddly, he shook my hand upon greeting me. He was dressed in a shirt and tie (like me) and it dawned on me that he was as nervous about this as I was. During the first few years of our friendship, I had kinda regarded Ric as not much more than a drinking buddy, really. (And former roommate, of course.) But on this day, I came to regard him as a genuine friend.
We waited a while (like a couple hours) for our docket to be called. The courtroom was jammed with all manner of misdemeanor cases. Since it was a pre-trail, most were like this: defendant's name is called, defendant and lawyer go up to the podium, they're sworn in, judge reads off the charges, lawyer enters "not guilty" and a date is set for trial...then it's the next case...and so on, and so on.
My designated public defender was not there this day. I had already met with him and told him I'd be pleading out, which he agreed would be best. Instead, when my name was called, this other PD came to me and said he'd be handling my case. After swear in and summary of charges, this guy said "not guilty" and was preparing to set a date for trial. HUH! No, I didn't want this to go to trial, I told him. He covered the podium's microphone and asked me if I knew that meant I would be sentenced immediately. Oh yes, I knew.
So we entered a plea of "No Contest", and when asked if I had a statement in my defense, I knew it wasn't going to "get me off" but thought it may inspire the judge to give me the minimums rather than throw the book at me. I told him that I have since completed the DUI classes and Victim's Impact class (True, you can complete these prior to conviction in Florida...it still is out of your pocket but it looks better during trial, as if you have come to terms with your disease and are tackling it), signed up for counseling (Also true, but also something I knew I'd need to do anyway when convicted) and have not had a drink since that night of my arrest (Um, false. Oh well, 2 outta 3...hey, I swore on the Bible to tell the truth...and you know how much I respect that piece of crap:)).
Well, relief! Minimum penalties were what I got. But the minimums were the whole shopping list written out above. Including the jail time. When the judge read "10 days", I nudged my pinhead lawyer and told him to remind the court that I should get 2 days off for "time served". (An overnight jailing counts as 2 days served, and since I was arrested and booked before midnight, I was indeed only released the next day on a form of personal recog.) So the judge amended it to "8 days".
I had planned well for this of course. In Florida, you can't opt to take the jail time in segments, on the weekends or whenever you wanted to. You had to begin your incarceration at the time of conviction and remain in jail until your sentence was completed. (I suppose with longer sentences there may be the opportunity for parole or something, but not with an 8 day sentence. I am not Paris Hilton! LOL) I arranged to have the next week off on vacation time from work. My manager knew where I was really going, but to any other co-worker, it was simply vacation time.
As the judge read the sentence the 2 sheriff's deputies standing guard moved towards me. They knew the drill. As the judge finished, the deputies guided me over to a table with a prepared ink blotter (it's really a greasy paste though, not ink), rolled my fingers and thumbs of both hands into the paste and pressed onto the paper near it, and then allowed me to use the hand washing gel and paper towels to clean my hands. They then politely asked me to turn around and place my hands behind my back. As the cold, hard steel of the handcuffs clicked into place around my wrists, I saw the people in the courtroom staring intently at the spectacle in front of them. What a great show! They get to see someone taken away to the slammer! Ric sat there looking very grave and I had to fight to hold back the urge to both cry and giggle. It was all so surreal.
They took me to a small elevator designed specifically for this purpose and we went down to the basement of the courthouse. There, after removing the cuffs, the officers politely requested I remove my belt, necktie and even my shoelaces. They put these in a large manila envelope along with my other personal effects like my wallet, watch and the pair of sunglasses I had in my pocket. As they placed each item in the envelope, the guy doing the placing would read out what the item was to the other guy who would check it off on his clipboard. It was fascinating watching the well-practiced manner they conducted this all in. I was then placed in a small holding cell, and remained sitting on the cold, aluminum bench for several hours.
The holding cells eventually began filling up as cases were tried and convicted throughout the assumable average day of court throughout the 40-story building.
At the end of the workday (5pm? I dunno, didn't have my watch anymore) we were all lined up arms length from one another. Females must have had another holding area since we were all guys. Then we were chained by the ankle two-by-two.
Like a chain gang in the movies!
By this point my fear had slowly lapsed into acceptance and I was actually beginning to enjoy the uniqueness of this experience. My thought was, as long as it's only 8 days, I should be able to handle anything...so I hoped.
We were then loaded into a paddy wagon...well, not the olde fashioned kind that would roll up to the speakeasys to load up all the Prohibition-era gangsters and illegal liquor-guzzlers in the movies...it was just a specially outfitted van. As we cruised through the streets of Orlando towards the county jail, I gazed out the window at the sun setting on all the people enjoying their freedom.
At "33rd", the nickname for the Orange County Correction Facility on 33rd Street, Orlando, we were rounded up into another holding area and processed. This took more hours of time and involved photographing, more fingerprinting, surrender of clothes, strip search (including "cheek spread" but, thankfully NOT including any "penetration with rubber gloved hands", yikes), showers, issue of jumpsuit and sandals, wristband and nurse's assessment.
The first 3 days were grueling. Those of us newbies to the jail were placed in "orientation". This was the austere cell block intake prisoners were housed in over the course of the first 3 days. During this time there were no activities, books, games, TV, nothing. Just the four walls, the group cells containing the bunks, a common shower and a day room. And it was noisy. Some of the "young buck" inmates were just rowdy by nature and the boredom made them ornery. They kept yelling and yuckin' it up all night long! On day 3, there was a "born-again" preacher that was allowed to come in and tell us all how he found Jesus and that we too could be saved if we accepted Him as our Lord and Savior. Isn't there supposed to be a separation of church and state? Oh, this is part of George W. Bush's "Faith-based Initiative", I thought. Funny how only a Christian proselytiser came to visit, no other "faith". Can you say - BIASED? Eh, at least he handed out little New Testaments so it was something to read to cut the boredom.
At the end of orientation, we were placed into "population". 33rd is made up of many housing units. Some more restrictive than others. Depending on your charges and/or your behavior during orientation, the COs (correction officers) decided where you would be placed. I got a placement I think it was called Horizon. (They all had such "inspirational" names evoking a re-conditioning goal like "Phoenix", "New Beginnings", "Genesis", and shit like that.)
The CO's were decent. Some of them would be purposely "punky" though. During intake, one of the officers validating my personal property as they took it over from the courthouse deputies took inventory of the items inside my wallet, counted out $300 cash and 7 credit cards. He rolled his eyes and made a big deal about it to his buddy. "Yeah, that's right, guy, I guess you don't get too many middle-class folk here", I thought.
Once in population, life got much easier. More space, smaller cells of 2 or 3 inmates each, books, TVs and games in the carpeted day room filled with cushioned chairs and sofas, outdoor area with basketball court...ya, I know. What with 3 square meals, free toiletries, clean bedding and clothing and plenty of people to get to know...you could see why some opt to come back if you're options on the "outside" aren't so great. And, I suspect, quite a few of the guys were just that, otherwise homeless people who committed a crime just to get to stay in jail.
There was this one inmate who was in there because he failed to stop on his bicycle for a cop who wanted to question him. What about? He was operating a bicycle less than one hour after sunset without any headlight. Huh! WTF! (Well, it turns out when they ran his ID in order to issue him a ticket, he had a warrant out for his arrest. But still!)
This other guy was what I would guess a "frequent customer". He had been there many times and he knew all the COs by name and they all knew him. He was really smart too, and only sounded just a little bit crazy. He was elusive as to his charges, but, of course, he was innocent like everyone else in there. I would guess drugs, though. He looked like he was treating his incarceration like it was rehab time.
There was this one guy who, like me, was a rarity in there: educated, employed, professional, financially-stable and white. Ya, like 85% of the population was black. And most were all there for the same offense: VOP, Violation of Probation. You know that's because the system is set up for the poor or under-educated to fail. Probation entails a few very difficult requirements for these guys: verifiable full-time employment and the ability to pay probation costs (around $40/month at that time...a lot if you're poor). And, for all the "baby daddys", they have to keep up child support payments. Add to that any restitution payments due to their crime, lawyer fees, drug counseling fees, court costs and penalties...and they have to have a place to stay and clothes to wear and food to eat, or else they might get sick, miss work, lose their low-paying job, and, well you know...it's a viscous cycle.
Let's dispel a few myths, BTW. At least during the short stay I had, I saw no discernible gangs, no major fights (there was one shouting scuffle between one of the young buck black guys and this grumpy white guy, but it was very quickly broken up by the COs), of course no "shiv stabbings" and, no rapes. (Well, in a tiny way I was kinda looking forward to that...NO! LOL!)
Oh, there was this cell up on the second tier though. The inmates had quasi-de facto "permission" to set up sheets over the glassed wall of their cell in order to block visibility of what was going on inside. This was strictly forbidden for everyone else. These two inmates though, were special. They were pre-op trannies. Oh, and they got a lot of cat-calls and derisive remarks from many of the other guys when they rarely came out of their cell for chow (mealtime) in the chow hall. But, I think I saw a twinkle in some of the guys eyes...and maybe they got a "gentleman visitor" or two...who knows what goes on behind "closed cell doors"?
But come that 8th day, let me tell you, I was ready...oh so ready...to be released. I sprung right up and was all like "Yes Sir!" in getting my mattress, blanket, towel and such all rolled up and ready to go. I happily carried it back to the laundry area, made my way to releasing, got my street clothes, my personal effects and set on outta there. (Odd little factoid...you don't get your cash back. They took it and replaced it with a check...which I later had to cash...I guess that avoids any impropriety with all that inmate cash floating around. But it brings up a more interesting point...what happens to inmates locked up for months and/or years...do they get a check representing not only the amount on booking, but all that interest that accrued as well?Hmm. Interesting.)
Conveniently, by coincidence, I lived only a few blocks from jail so I walked home. It was a cloudy and drizzly day, but that was the most glorious walk I have ever had!
Monday, May 19, 2008
Here are the reviews:
From Kyron Dazeley
|This was really well done, especially the ending. The only suggestion I would make is to maybe add a bit of suspense leading up to the ending, something that would throw the audience off even more before revealing the ending. Otherwise, well done.|
From David Chase
I liked it, at first I thought hmm maybe the psycho is coming to get her when she got on the phone but then me thinking the way i think i was like no she's the psycho. I think what would have made it all the more better is if there was a mother present in the childhood that didnt do anything so that can justify her killing the both of them and like maybe them having a daughter that she feels she's possibly saving that is why she kills them, just a thought. But overall good kept me interested!!!
Well, a lot better than the Rotten Tomatoes reviews of the recent mega-flop "88 Minutes" with Al Pacino. Here's what some of them had to say about that:
When they were counting down the 88 minutes, I just kept saying to myself, "oh man, this movie still has 72 minutes left?" "Oh man, this movie has 17 minutes left?" I just couldn't wait to get out of the theatre.WJFK-FM (CBS Radio)
An enjoyable thriller for those who don't worry about plots...
It's usually fun when a murder-mystery offers several suspects, but this goes beyond serving up a few red herrings; here, we get trout, tilapia and mahi mahi as well.
IMDB probably can't legitimately claim this is a flop since I didn't see any posted film budget and without a starting point, how do you know if it made a profit or not. But folks, c'mon. It's Pacino. You know he took at least $15 mil minimum, likely more. And the movie, in it's 4th week, has only made a total of $16 million. Tisk, tisk, tisk.
I think someone should buy my script. It'd be cheap to make, featuring only 2 actors and 2 extras, minimal sets, and short story (45 min. MAX, and that's with a lot of directorial extrapolation to my script!).
So c'mon Warner Brothers, gimme a shot.
Friday, May 16, 2008
The iconic Universal globe.
The Islands of Adventure lighthouse.
Back in the day, the gang and I would wile away many an afternoon and evening at this favorite watering hole...The Backwater Bar at Confisco.
The Mythos Restaurant faux waterfall.
Drum beats and horn blasts. To war! To war!
Rockin' The Casbah...
Where's Merlin? (Or by this time next year or so, it'll be "Where's Dumbledore?", eh?)
Choose Thy Fate...Fire or Ice?
The Hulk in all it's loopy glory.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Friday, May 09, 2008
"No. What is it?"
"This is sex."
My best friend John C. and I were practically inseparable. We had become fast friends a year or two earlier, and hung out together at school and home. He was my first best friend.
One day, while we were playing in the woods near his house, John found a tattered copy of an adult magazine. In it were pictures of women in assorted poses. Most were fully naked but some had pantyhose and high heels. All had huge breasts with saucer-sized nipples, big round butts and gaping red vaginas surrounded by a jungle of hair. I was immediately disgusted and felt as if I were going to puke. But some of the shots revealed men as well. They too were naked...and they all had big dicks. This didn't cause that much revulsion...
It's funny how some of the most exciting or seemingly-monumental moments of your life happen without one spoken word.
Within a few minutes of leafing through this porn rag, John and I looked at each other and, wordlessly, we knew we were going to try it. With each other.
We made our way quickly back to John's house, trying to hide our little budding boy boners that were tenting our pants. His mom and dad were both out and so we were alone. (Funny how, back then, you could leave your 9-year-old kid home alone and it wasn't the "child neglect" it would be perceived as today.) But, shoot, now I remember! I was wondering why I was recalling we had to be quiet...we weren't alone...his 18-year-old big brother was up in his room. That's right. (Now all you conservatives can stop harking about how John's parents left him home alone at his age...nothin' you could do about it now anyway, being 35 years later!)
We quickly stripped and got behind the couch which was positioned kitty-corner so there was room back there, but it would be outta sight if his brother happened to come downstairs. We examined each others smooth hairless crotches and fondled each others boy cock. (Wow, this is turning into outright kiddie-porn! Yikes!) We laid down on the floor and took turns being "on top", but never got farther than humping our dicks together. We had no clue what to do. It just felt good.
We repeated this "sex" a couple or three more times that summer. We treated this as just another game, just something else to pass the time.
One day, towards the end of summer, we played our dry hump game, then decided to go for a swim in his pool. I had forgotten to bring my swim trunks, so John let me borrow a pair of his. They were just a bit tight on me though and I had to squeeze into them. They clearly showed off my little dick and balls. After we were done swimming, I walked home, but for some reason I wore his swim suit rather than change back into my clothes. I think I got off on the tightness, and the fact that these trunks also, at one time, held John's dick and balls. When I got home, my mother saw what I was wearing and asked who's they were. I told her I had to borrow John's suit to go swimming. My mother paused a beat or two, then looked me in the eye and said, "Are you two playing with your pee-pees?"
Still to this day, I have no clue how she picked that up from me wearing a buddy's spare swim trunks.
I immediately bawled and told her everything. She, of course, commanded I never see him again.
"It was a sin."
And when you're 9, your mother's commandments are law...especially when backed by the dogma of the Church.
After many days of avoiding John, he finally called and asked what was up. I told him I couldn't see him again and why.
I told him my mother said it was a sin.
The new school year started, and, because his last name also began with C, he was seated right next to me in the alphabetically arranged classroom desks we were assigned to. But I couldn't speak to him. Though I wanted to, though I loved him, I had to ignore his very existence. It was my mother's commandment.
It was a sin.
Our mutual friends asked why weren't speaking to one another. Neither of us supplied any info to them. Because of my mother's commandment, I eventually fell out of friendship with the others in our group since they still hung out with John. And I couldn't. It was forbidden.
It was a sin.
My family eventually moved away to another part of town. Another school district. But when it came time for me to enter Junior High, I saw John again. We got together and talked. He forgave me. We became good friends again and hung out frequently like we did years earlier. It wasn't as close a friendship as it had been though...too much time apart had taken it's toll. We never talked about sex or what we did back then. Later that year, John's family moved to Shrewsbury, Mass. Before the move, we promised each other that we'd keep in touch. We never did. I never saw him again.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
As my hero Andy Warhol was noted for saying, "One day, in the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes of their lives", or something like that; I say, "One day, really soon, everyone will have to get a MySpace page".
(BTW, wouldn't Andy have LOVED the Internet and especially sites like MySpace!! Ah, taken too soon, alas!)
I want to do a parody site spoofing the vast number of MySpace profiles that seem to want to cram as much code on one page as humanly (or "computer-ly", in this case) possible.
I mean, you see some of these sites people (assumably teenagers) have created and you are struck by several common issues:
1. Unless you have a very good broadband connection, your browser, or indeed, your whole system will crash trying to open the massive quantity of data being downloaded: music players, high-res photos, animated gifs, Flash animation, widgets, unique icons and pointers, etc, etc, etc.
2. When the page is finally loaded, what you have before you is a lesson in Uber-Gawdyness! POW! BOOM! FLASH! SIZZLE! These kids think that if you have as many bells and whistles as possible, your site will be "cooler" than any of your friends. No, it will just be tackier! Have they ever heard of the term "Less Is More"?
3. Why have just a few friends that you can keep in touch with and actually grow a relationship with, when you can have thousands of "friends" with whom you know diddly squat except for a brief comment and glitzy clipart photo, usually animated, but always HILARIOUSLY FUNNY?
4. Ghetto is Good. Tacky ghetto design and layout, blaring rap and hip-hop featuring lyrics like: "...get your booty in my face, bitch, I gots to hit me some of that up in here! You gots to lick it 'fore we kick it, oooooh, yah...", and, of course, tons of gangsta homies and bitches leaving pointless "Wazzup?" messages in your comments section.
Notice my "under construction" MySpace profile page. (If you click on it, you can see details better...what little there are of them.)
Notice I have no comments.
Because I have only one friend: Tom, the friend everyone gets when you create your account.
But, you can see by the photo I added that I am a very hot guy. Just like so many others on MySpace, my personal photo is just a tad different from the real me.
Just a little bit.
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
As the 'puter boots up, I gets me my free Flavia coffee...usually just pure Colombia but today 1/2 Colombia and 1/2 Breakfast Blend. (I was choosing Decaf for a while shortly after the first hospital visit in December...but my medications practically require me to get the full octane stuff...lest I be declared narcoleptic!)
I've laid out my lunch bag contents for your analysis:
My precious Dynamic Duo of the early A.M.: My cup of java and single Nonni's biscotti...today's biscotti choice: Originali. I have all the Nonni flavors in stock at home. Now, biscotti is not exactly "diet" food, but it is one of the simple pleasures I allow. For it's flavor content and the sweet satisfaction it provides, it doesn't go over the top. It's a treasured morning ritual that is even noticed by my co-workers...they know that first, before all else, I must have my biscotti and coffee time! This one biscotti contains 110 calories. (The coffee, with no cream or sugar, is zero!:)
I usually have my biscotti and coffee first thing...around 7:50 - 8:00. Either I've drunk all the coffee by 8:30, or I've only had half. That's how it goes. I either crave it and need several cups to get going, or just enough to dunk my biscotti. Today, it's all the way, Baby! I'll be headin' to the ol' Flavia machine again before long. I took 2 Benedryls last night so I need to smack down the lingering effects.
Now it's time for Breakfast, Part 2: The packet of Quaker Lower-Sugar instant oatmeal. Today's variety: Maple and brown sugar. Oatmeal lowers bad cholesterol, and has a lot of fiber. I throw the contents of the pouch into a paper cup, add hot water and about 4 Splenda packets and wha la...a filling and nutritious 135 sin-lessly sweet calorie tummy treat!
The plastic Mobil "On the Run" cup once held convenience store fountain-service Diet Coke but I kept it and now, each day, it holds my ubiquitous ice water. See the quantity? - 64 ounces. I'll finish this whole cup and probably another before the day is out. I refill it from the water/ice dispenser in the breakroom. This is an essential key to my weight loss...lots of water!
For lunch, at 11:30 (it's a little early, but that's what I got so I live with it) I have my Glad container-full of salad. I usually have this every day and it is usually composed of the following: organic Romaine lettuce, sliced Vidalia onion, Claussen pickle slices, organic broccoli florettes, vine-ripe tomato wedges and Hannover chickpeas. Dressing is usually "light" (lower fat) and varies day to day. I have on hand in my fridge about 10 different kinds to keep it interesting. Today's dressing: Kraft Light Three Cheese Ranch. Note the reddish-orange tint? That's a healthy sprinkling of Zatarain's Creole Seasoning...Yum! Gotta have me some 'Nawlins up in there! Calorie count: 252.
Most days, I have a Michelina's Lean Gourmet frozen entree, but today, I have this: Tuna salad made with Bumble Bee Albacore white tuna in water, chopped celery, green pepper and onion, chopped hard-boiled egg, a splash of Crystal Louisiana hot sauce, Kraft Mayo with Olive Oil (reduced fat) and a sprinkle or two of Zatarain's seasoning. Yummy! I'll probably eat this right out of the container I put it in, but I could put it on one of the Quaker rice cakes you see wrapped in Saran Wrap. (Am I hoping to get some swag for all this obvious brand-name dropping?) The other rice cake will be for the little Mix O' Toppings I put in a virtually empty container of Philadelphia fat-free cream cheese. There's a teaspoon of that, a teaspoon of Smart Balance creamy peanut butter and 2 teaspoons of Polaner sugar-free grape jelly. Total calories for lunch: 317
Since lunch is so early, by 2:30 - 3:00 or so, I need a bit more of something...here's where the Lipton Cup-O-Soup comes in. Today's flavor: Classic Chicken Noodle. Sadly, due to high sodium concerns, I am such a salt freak now (though trying to wean off of it) I have to aggrandize my cup of soup with a teaspoon of Maggi chicken broth powder. Now my "healthy" cup of warm mid-day goodness is still low in calories...only 75...but is suddenly a hypertension bomb: Sodium: 1670mg...that's 76% USDA recommended DAILY value...in one 8 ounce cup! Zikes!
So, all totaled, today's lunch bag contains a smidge over 900 calories to carry me through 5:00. Usually this breakfast/lunch totals no more than 800. This gives me a balance of 700 to 800 left for the remainder of the day. Depending on the day, I can usually stay within budget.
Okay, so here's the scoop on my cubicle shelf menagerie: There's a plastic touristy snow globe from the Grand Canyon, a rainbow colored origami wheel given to me by Marshall before he decided to "Go West", a ceramic mini-vase that used to hold a little bamboo plant that lasted a surprisingly long time despite never watering it...then I decided to water it and it died soon after. The "award certificates". All the members of the O.C. (original crew) got them a few months after the start up of the department here, so they're nothing extraordinary. There's the seashells and seaweed thermometer, in water and encased in Lucite, from Buzzard's Bay, Massachusetts. A miniature BMW convertible and a Holland America cruise lines mint case from Cruises-n-More. (No longer any mints, just contains some emergency Benedryls and a glipizide pill given to me by Jim, who used to work here, if my sugar ever got too high). Also, some origami Star Wars ship models (also by Marshall), some assorted fridge magnets with a Coke theme and a couple, again, from the Grand Canyon (the most notable trip, other than New Orleans, of the past few years...New Orleans, BTW, is represented by a Voodoo doll refrigerator magnet off-camera further to the left of this shot). All surrounding the plastic figurines of that villain kid from "The Incredibles", General Grievous and, of course, Jar Jar Binks. He's my favorite, so I greet him, not the others.
So this is my routine, played out in my "cell" each workday. Such is my life...Welcome!
Sunday, May 04, 2008
That's right kiddies! It's time for a first-hand review of the new Simpsons-themed simulator ride (replacement for the "Back to the Future Ride") at Universal Studios Orlando. Presented by none other than the one and only Cap'n Bloetox and his new flunky: Monkey-Boy-Wannabe.