Friday, July 23, 2004

Owls! is going on a brief hiatus - let's call it one weekish, until Monday 8/2 - while I mull over whether to keep going with it. So, my two readers (hi Drew! hi Kim!), check back then.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

What, if anything, other people think when they wake suddenly during the night: What time is it? Where am I? What day is it? What I think: Are my lips chapped? Do I need lip balm? Which flavor of lip balm is closest at hand?

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

I've got this friend. A surly muddle of a person, mouthy and dissolute, but we get on well. Recently, this person informed me of his fondest wish for his own life. What does he hope for most ardently in this world? To conquer his occasional stammer? Stop trying to bait cops into fistfights? Never again be caught singing "Norwegian Wood" in lilting French in the shower, as I recently caught him doing? No, it's nothing so self-improving. Instead, this fine citizen's most deeply-held dream is apparently to be photographed on holiday in Africa, embracing one of those purportedly tame hyenas tourists can, in some rough and under-legislated parts, pay to be snapped with. Because of his love of the creatures? Oh no. To torture me. To, as he put it to me, "make the envy eat right through your skin". He wants to have his arms around its dear scruffy neck, and he wants to be offering his middle finger to the camera and perhaps be holding a hand-lettered sign further taunting me. His fondest wish. It's nice to have friends.

Monday, July 19, 2004

My recreational consumption of muscle relaxers induced a reckless disregard for consumer restraint yesterday, and I came home from produce shopping with seven types of plum. Apart from the obvious problems I'll face when they (and the half dozen other stone fruit varieties also purchased) all become ripe at once, I've realized I have another problem as well. I don't plan to live in the Bay Area forever. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be an Arizonan eventually. But what's a person spoiled by Bay Area produce to do in, say, Flagstaff? How will I contend with both lousy, never-to-ripen peaches *and* the constant danger of wind scorpions gnashing their preposterously oversized jaws at me?

Thursday, July 15, 2004

[husky with sleep] "H'llo?"

"Hey. I forgot the most important part."


"Of your Sydney funnel-web spider tattoo."

[something unintelligible, likely either a curse or a prayer, muttered into a pillow]

"Hold on, this'll bring it all together. It's rearing up, right, pinwheeling with its pedipalps, and in -"

"What've I said about 'pedipalps'? How do I feel about 'pedipalps'?"

"Hey, I didn't come up with the terminology. Pinwheeling with its . . . grabby things, and in its grasp is not a moth or lizard, but a human heart. Rendered anatomically, not 'heart-shaped'. It's munching this heart, with 'I never meant to hurt you like this' underneath the scene."

[thoughtful silence] "It's . . . a pretty good idea, I have to say."

"You know you're the spider, right?"

"Do we have to reevaluate your phone privileges?"

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

"So y'know the Sydney funnel-web spider, Australia's most venomous to humans?"


"It's a funny-looking little f*cker, kind of looks like what'd happen if a small tarantula mated with a chestnut. Here's its deal, though: its bite's only that super-venomous to its prey, to its insect prey, and to us. Your fluffy white kitten can bat it around the kitchen for 2 hours and get bitten again and again and be fine, but if it nips your toe, oh heavens, hello neurotoxin! Hello agony and potential death!"


"Anyway, I've been thinking about it a lot lately. About that situation with its venom."

"Mmm-hmm. What about it."

"Well, I think you should get a tattoo of it. Of it in this characteristic attack pose it has, where it rears up on its back four legs and waves the front four around all homicidally. It's sort of gorgeous if - "

"Why would I do that?"

"I'm *getting* to that. Because you could get text underneath it saying like 'I never meant to hurt you like this', or 'I never meant for you to die for me', or even -"

"You have one beer and this happens? I really don't think you're a good candidate for drinking."

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Funny how one can not attend a county fair for many years, then find nothing changed on his or her return. A decade since I visited one, and no discernible difference: same number of Harley guys wearing t-shirts whose backs are emblazoned with "IF YOU CAN READ THIS, THE BITCH FELL OFF". Same dazzling profusion of livestock to be judged, each example of which I must peer into the pen of, no matter how identical they all are (sorry about the half hour in the sheep tent, friends). Same irrefutable parade of evidence that this country's alleged obesity epidemic is not merely the dreamchild of the weight-loss industry. Same "Haunted House" ride in a state of richly shocking disrepair. But have there always been *deep-fried cheeseburgers on a stick*?

Monday, July 12, 2004

The three of us thought we'd hit upon a cute and self-affirming way to chatter away a quarter-hour or so: what single adjective, ostensibly intended as praise, is in fact the most damning when applied to a rock and roll band? E.g. "ornate", "lush", etc.? But then Amok came up with the untoppable answer almost immediately, spoiling the fun with "cerebral". What else could the answer be? Cerebral. No more deflating description than that.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

My subscription to National Review expires on August 8, and not a moment too soon. A normal person could simply not read magazines that he or she did not wish to read, but I suffer from a condition that forces me to read every word of every periodical that I subscribe to or purchase, regardless of lack of interest or even revulsion. Thus, I've been auto-forced, over the last several months, to slog through hundreds of pages of political commentary that I no longer relate to in any way. Tough condition, that magazine-reading one. However, had I been able not to read these unwanted NR issues, I'd've missed the ad for the apparently real, apparently non-parodical W ketchup. Yeah. So that conservatives can purchase this beloved condiment without further swelling the coffers of the Heinz family. John Kerry's wife being Teresa Heinz. I . . . I'm not even quite sure what to say about that. It's . . . it's a real product, I'm saying.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Lazy post today, I know, but it's difficult for me to re-read any Martin Amis and not share some of it. This time it's from "The Information", which is, as I could have predicted, making me bark with laughter at regular intervals on my train.
The boys in the next room - they heard his savage cries but hardly registered them, so familiar was their timbre. Perhaps Daddy had misplaced his pencil sharpener, or dropped a paper clip? Because Richard's relationship with the physical world of things, always very poor, had deteriorated sharply. Christ, the dumb insolence of inanimate objects! He could never understand what was *in it* for inanimate objects, behaving as they did. What was *in it* for the doorknob that hooked your jacket pocket as you passed? What was *in it* for the jacket pocket?
That's sweetly mild Amis, of course, but I, err, rather relate to it.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

I assume that my sophomore English teacher, like most teachers, wanted to leave a lasting impact on his students' lives. And as teachers at my rural high school went, Mr. Keller was good: aware of the world beyond our wee town, quite willing to view his students as nascent adults rather than kiddies, etc. Yet the impact Mr. Keller left on me personally was less than desirable. Whenever we students balked at an assignment, he would assure us that, since we were the honors class, whatever task was currently being kvetched at would be "nice and easy soft and squeezy". This phrase was directed at us at least a couple of times per week. And I shuddered every time. The phrase evoked images of piled diapers, kitten sweatshirts, poorly designed teddy bears with little outfits on, those faintly diabolical salt-water taffy machines. As a result, it to this day comets into my consciousness whenever I hear the phrase "nice and easy" or any use of the word "squeeze" in any form or context at all. Thanks for the enduring revulsion, Mr. K!

Friday, July 02, 2004

Progress with Mel, my therapy spider, continues to advance at a speedy clip. I now worry about his welfare: can there really be enough for him to eat in the truck? Should I create a canned hunt for him, import some flying insects into his territory? I almost miss him on days I don't see him. Sometimes I even call plaintively his name. (I've anthropomorphized him into a curmudgeonly, almost-elderly man, see, partial to tweed caps and betting on the ponies.) When he's behaving extra bashfully, I playfuly call him "Melanie". We have fun with each other like that.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

The retail/commercial space beneath my apartment has briefly housed many endeavors during the time I've lived here: cannabis club; erotic clothier; purveyor of odd, hooded, cape-like fleece outerwear; Mexico-only "travel agency" that was clearly a front for less legal enterprises. Now, it's a Jamaican restaurant. Do me a favor? Take a look at its website.