Category Archives: sleepy

Delicate Squint

CAL: Five hours of sleep.

HERA: Four.

CAL: Three hours of sleep.

HERA: Two.

[A cool cat swiffs itself across the linoleum, wiping it clean but leaving a trail of black hairs]

CAL: An hour of sleep.

HERA: I’m changing my major. From philosophy to social justice.

CAL: Social justice is a major?

HERA: What I mean is, I’m dropping out of college to become an activist.

CAL: Why?

HERA: Because reading Henry James all day isn’t helping address income inequality in this country.

CAL: Neither is writing angry blogposts about income inequality. Or standing on the streetcorner arguing with Republicans about income inequality.

HERA: It’s better than nothing. And also you are cynical. Political change in America is possible. People change their minds.

CAL: No they don’t.

HERA: Be serious.

CAL: I am being serious!

HERA: Well, I have to finish cooking and then I need to do some online banking.

CAL: Can I help?

HERA: No.

CAL: OK. Let me know if you need help.

HERA: I will.

CAL: Thanks. OK.

HERA: All right.

CAL: See you soon?

HERA: [Does not answer. Performs several online banking tasks. Cooks an arpeggio of salad. Fantasizes about a field mouse turning on a hot spit. Fantasizes about being Cal’s waitress at a fancy restaurant she also owns and is the head chef for. She hands him the menu, her hair in adorable sweaty strands adorning her face. Cal looks down at the menu and reads, half to himself, “Roasted Field Mouse.” Their eyes meet. This is love. This is scintillation. This is mutual attraction. This is Vermont in the 1980s.]

CAL: [Approaches a donut. Purchases it. Eats it in half-furtive bites from his open jacket pocket. Looks down to see he has paws. Big blue CGI family-friendly bear-paws. He has had five hours of sleep. He is perennially, perpetually “on deadline.” He will tell people he’s “on deadline” even if by that he means he needs to go to the pharmacy by this evening or else he’ll be unable to pick up his prescription without re-ordering it.]

[Cal once helped name a craft beer. It’s called PawPrint Blue Stout. He often orders it when he drinks at the Lathe.]

LATER THAT NIGHT, AT THE LATHE

CAL: [His voice thick with the foamy syrup of a fresh PawPrint Blue Stout]: I got five hours of sleep last night.

Wales

—Here, you don’t have a job?

—No, I’m all alone, on a computer not hooked up to the internet, drinking a craft beer out of a can, composing an email to you.

—It’s almost like we’re having a beer together.

—How romantic.

—How are your studies?

—You mean the life of the mind?

—How is your life?

—My mind hurts.

—How is your salad duty?

—I’ve been making bad salads. Bag salads.

—How is your girlfriend?

—I had a dream that she died.

—But she’s alive?

—She’s working on a new translation of Émile Zola’s Germinal (1885). It’s an experimental translation where she takes liberties with the text. Instead of mineworkers, her version of the novel centers around a group of flowers.

—Anthropomorphic flowers?

—Is there any other kind?

—Yes

—Non-anthropomorphic flowers?

—The flowers take place in an election year and the gummy part of my car’s tyres.

—Huh. I think Uncle’s gone into one of his Tish-rages again, Paulice–

—Right. Grab the corduroy. A wide wale will be wanted for tonight. Oh, hush, Uncle; please don’t. Stop fussing. It’s Auld Hallow’s Ween, for aunt grable’s sake. We musn’t brackish the whoolinancy — I mean the whoolery.

—Genre’s got a beer-boner for stoners tonight, Barbara. Barbara.

—I can’t tell if you want this exclamation mark.

—I don’t want just any exclamation point, Mark. [Pause, applause.] I want yours. [Renewed, sustained applause. A child is born.]

—This boner’s gone free.

—Now that you’re a dad, and a city councilman, you mustn’t post pseudohomoerotic flash fiction on your blog. You must only post outspoken 5 point rejections of Romney’s 5 point plan and so forth.

—You remind me of the news.

—Witch part?

—The fuzzy part with no skin.

—That’s called the Purloined Lettuce. [A mouth.] I am studying Botany with your Aunt.

—My nude aunt?

—I have a newborn baby. A child. I haven’t slept. No longer drink coffee. Go Tigers.

— I expect you’ll want to tell me about your craft beer in a can, now.

—Yes. I bought it at the supermarket with some hummus and the halloween candy. Came in a six pack just like a set of Diet Dr. Pepper, but in fact it’s an intensely hoppy microbrew from Whole Foods, Colorado!

—Durango. That candy’s not vegan

—Let’s get personal. I know writing on your blog makes you miss San Francisco.

—Of course. Who doesn’t? But the thing San Francisco doesn’t know is that I took all my shit with me to Missouri so I still have it so if I want to look at my shit like my books or the only one person I love more than anything

—Hang on, there are trick or treaters at the door. [Inaudible] [Audible] [Inaudible]. Fucker just took my last Krackel. [Pause.] Nice costume… What are you?

—Desert clown.

[Doug Liman, director of Swingers (1996), The Bourne Identity (2002), Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), Jumper (2008), and Fair Game (2010), walks in with Studio Monitors around his neck. Curtain.]

Afternoon Insomnia

(It’s 4:52 p.m.) I have the feeling of panicky middle of the night why can’t I get back to sleep insomnia even though it’s working (and not sleeping) that I should be doing and seemingly cannot do. I blame: Facebook. Facebook is a Crisco-covered pig always ready to run; you just open the gate and it tears out squealing and skronking and it’s at least 45 minutes until it’s back in the pen again. Another persistent feeling I have is that sitting in this chair clicking on you guys over and over again is fine as long as I’m quiet, but the moment I open up this WordPress text editor (Barbara, this just refers to the thing I use to write blogs [who is Barbara?] [She’s my fictional grandmother; all of my nonfictional grandmothers died before I was born;] [my wife has an email subscription to this blog so that even though posts aren’t technically “letters written to her,” in effect they all are, because I post them and then maybe six to twenty seconds later I hear the chime that indicates she’s got new mail (cf, Barbara, the Nora Ephron [not related to Zzac Efron — who is Zac Efron? I just Googled him, he’s something called High School Musical; I’m pretending not to know what that is, and that I didn’t notice the initially accidental second z in his name] (I realize you realize this is an absurd number of nested brackets [which is fun to write because “brackets” is the word the English use to refer to our “parentheses,” so I can maybe elegantly or pseudo-economically refer to both the brackets AND the braces (the English word for brackets) in one simultaneously ambiguous and unambiguous word] and I am simultaneously proud and embarrassed to admit that by about line twenty of all this I pasted us out of the WordPress text editor (Barbara) and into TextMate, a piece of software designed for writing code (HTML; PHP; C++; what have you) I optimistically purchased earlier this year when I was more unemployed than I am now that has the useful-to-programmers feature of making it easy to see which left-facing bracket goes with which right-facing one. So when you type a parenthesis, TextMate automatically (“automagically,” my CS TA said last semester about some dumb feature of Visual Basic, the language we used to learn the basics of Computer Science) prints two facing parens or brackets (it does the same thing with single quotation marks [and all this bracket/parenthesis/brace alternation makes me think of the way the English invert our nested quotation mark conventions, starting with the single quote and then nesting a double within that and then if you’re going double-nested reverting back to a single (to say nothing of which side of the law their commas fall on)] (I imagine if I ever did find myself in an MFA program this is the sort of “piece” that would lose me friends and create long and hateful afternoons of people deriding  and condescending and deploring me in a workshop, when really all I want to do is post this on my blog for my own sake, jazzing around having fun, high fives cool see you later, knowing that my wife will have a nicely formatted version emailed to her for her to read at her leisure only if she wants as a hopefully diverting distraction while she’s on a break from William James or Facebook or some fresh piece of health-care legislation), and sets your cursor in between the two, and if you run your cursor over one bracket it highlights its spouse, sort of the typographical equivalent of the device on many contemporary car keys that makes your car chirp when you’ve lost it in a garage) (though since I have such poor peripheral vision it can be tough to find the tiny flashing brace in this sea of type, and sometimes I can’t tell if running my cursor back and forth over a brace doesn’t result in a spousal highlight because its flashing counterpart is in one of my eyes’ degenerating “dead zones” or because I messed up and it’s a stray bracket whose spouse has been deleted (or it never had a spouse to begin with; it, like you, unmarried reader, was typed into this world as a horrible extra, a soul without a mate, cursed to wander the internet reading the self-satisfied blogs of happily married gradually blinkered midwestern acid casualties until you die, happily, well-sexed and alone, in your loft apartment surrounded by paperbacks), enclosing nothing, adding an unnecessary and syntactically confusing (though to be honest how could things get more syntactically confusing than this, which almost immediately abandoned any attempt at readerly syntactical amnesty) layer of padding, like a package wrapped with an excessive amount of tape and very irritating to open (right about here the student in my MFA workshop, in reference to the “email to my wife” line, might say, with a tea-tree-oil toothpick turning to pulp in her mouth, “I mean, is this how you treat your wife? She likes getting this sort of email from you?” and I try too strenuously (it’s no longer 4:52, we’re now post-dinner and I’ve had a beer, I no longer care about getting work done or the perils of Facebook [though I’m still happy to be here; I’m settling in]) to explain that I’m writing this for me, not for our professor or my wife but it doesn’t matter) [even with the aid of TextMate I’ve now totally lost track of the nests, and can’t bring myself to untangle this right now… Maybe I will start a Kickstarter campaign to hire a freelance copyeditor to iron this out for me, or perhaps announce a reader-contest where I send my almost entirely unread hardcover copy of Steven Moore’s 2010 alternative history of the novel (Continuum) to the third person to offer their professional services to make the syntax of this blog post perfect])) writing it down on the internet brings my thoughts into the realm of “politics,” because, I don’t know. Maybe it only makes me nervous about angry strangers reading this, and my nervousness comes from insecurity, and I’m insecure about “politics.” The ensuing paranoid fantasy usually manifests itself as this text appearing on the screen of some politically “active” sad young literary type who has recently Occupied something and then zestily coupled with another politically active and attractive young person, even though in my experience this sort of person despite their “fearsome” (to me, a Jewish American princess who tries hard to leverage compassion and thoughtful engagement into his life but constantly fails, as I imagine the zesty couplers succeed) political intelligence and engagement still tends to harbor tastes and pleasures that are totally unpolitical. Like what? Like food that’s more delicious than it needs to be (truffle oil), or jokes that don’t strike a fatal blow to the ruling elite, or literature that doesn’t do — and doesn’t try to do — same. Smoking pot, getting drunk? Indie rock. And so saying anything about my aimless click-diverted workless afternoon of privilege and leisure “reifies” (Barbara, meaning it makes real, into an object) the spoiled fermenty gas that is my consciousness and creates a permanent (though many these days argue that the internet and the servers it lives on is impermanence reified, that “digital” is synonymous with “virtual” with “evanescent,” though our [my] experience of it is that something I write on a piece of paper gets seen by no one, not even my deeply beautiful wife in the other room, or if I publish a poem (“How many / little dickless / little sparrows / swallow cocks, / swallowcocks // May I scat for u”) in Pleuperfections, a well-respected university press’s literary journal, then NO ONE WILL SEE IT, whereas this is at least going to end up in my wife’s inbox (which is of course what most Facebook activity is, messages ostensibly sent to one person that are really messages sent to everyone [which is more or less what all writing is, unless you’re really writing something private, under the kind of shadowy dangerous exigent privacy that only politics or illicit sex can create]), and will at least be read by Max Tabackman Fenton, who is my internet guru, who I hope by posting his full name here I’m ensuring that he’ll read this, since I imagine him to be the sort of person who Googles himself at least once a year (or more likely has a Google Alert for himself, or has subscribed to this blog in one of the many ingenious ways he has devised for keeping abreast of everything at once), (which is not to say he’s egotistical, because he’s not, only that he’s savvy) maybe right around the end of the year, which is tomorrow, and so might see this then.) object.

The Long Schoolroom

Is it irresponsible to request books from the library if they’re not checked out and they’re already in the branch where you’ll be picking them up? I got used to this in San Francisco: I’d read about a book online, want to check it out, request it from the library, then forget about it until I got the email notification that it was ready to be picked up at my branch. But now the books I want are already there, usually, not checked out and at the main branch of the University library. But I’m here in stocking feet, 2.5 m away from the closed library, on my second Single-Wide, and I’ll never remember to go pick up these books unless I request them. I guess I could retrain myself and use the library website’s “wish list” function, but I’m disinclined. Any thoughts on this, especially from folks who’ve worked in libraries, would be appreciated. Is this like asking the waiter for hot sauce when there’s a bottle on an empty table within arm’s reach? Or, like, asking the bike mechanic to wash your helmet?

My College Radio Application

Dear mom and dad,

I went to college from 1999-2003, where I lived, ate, breathed, and smoked college radio (WOBC-FM) all day every day. Then, with a year left, I dropped out to move to CA to work for a magazine. I worked there for the next eight years. Then I fell in love with a beautiful woman and she got a job in town, so I decided to follow her here and finish my B.A. To my intense delight and surprise, this makes me eligible for a show on [yr station]. When I dropped out of college, I cryogenically froze my radio show and now, eight years later, [cue music bed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_tVZFZ5PR4] my beloved show is going into the industrial microwave on MEDIUM for 6-8 minutes and dragging itself through the halls of the academy once again!

My show (TITLE TK: “WEIRD OLD GUY?”) will be freeform radio at its finest, pushing into the red w/r/t innovation and FUN. Fun must never be sacrificed to innovation. And vice versa.

Music is the bedrock of the show, and I plan to make the most of [yr station]’s rock library, in addition to my extensive personal vinyl/CD/MPEG collection. The best rock — from oddities, novelties, classics, forgotten b-sides, to brand-new singles and previews of bands coming through town. But sprinkled throughout the music will be the true jewels of the show, the multiple talk-based segments. Possibilities include:

• “Walking the Line”
Each week, a different writer (from creative writing profs, to visiting poets, to MU poetry/fiction PhDs and even undergrads) brings in one line — a line of their own poetry, or their favorite poet’s, or a sentence from a novel, or from a piece of journalism, anything — just has to be one line of “literature” for us to discuss.

(Each of these segments will have its own musical intro. Maybe Grandmaster Flash’s “White Lines” for this first one? Or Johnny Cash, sure)

• “Comics Digest”

A weekly verbal recap of what happened this week in the comics page of the Missourian

ex: “It’s been a tough week for Lois of ‘Hi & Lois’; she’s been home with the measles and her little brother won’t leave her alone!” etc etc

• “Vibin’ with the City Council”

Each week I get a Columbia city councilperson on the phone (pre-recorded, most likely; I have a ZOOM H4N I can produce several of these segs in advance, but I’ll always cue and introduce them live) and ask: what’s the vibe of the city council like this week?

• deranged/brief Self-interviews; fake interviews with pre-recorded interlocutors

• I might try a recurring feature about being a 30 year old dude taking computer science with freshman; I will probably rip lots of samples from my DVD of Rodney Dangerfield’s Back to School for this (maybe rent Happy Madison, too…). Find other old undergrads and ask them about their lives, what it’s like here for them

• I have an MU football-related idea that I’ll only tell you if you give me a show with a legit timeslot

• Reviews (with field recordings) of frat party bands (!!!!!)

• as many opportunities for live call-in segments as possible (TBD)

• Guest singles (a guest — anyone from the dean of grad studies to that girl who works at Sparky’s brings in 5 singles and we play them and talk about them)

• tiny, hilarious 5-minute radio dramas

• even tinier, even more hilarious 2-minute radio dramas in foreign languages feat. students in various MU language departments

• Much, much more

• Seriously, so much more you have no idea

• And, as I mentioned above, all of these segs, some of which may happen every week, some once a month or so, will all be sprinkled like cherries and chopped nuts over the wide swath of whipped-creamy dark-chocolate sets of top-shelf weird/funky/great music. Wire, the Fall, Olivia Tremor Control, Pixies b-sides, Unrest, Big Dipper, Deerhoof, Beefheart, Squeeze, Elvis Costello, Sonic Youth, Truman the Tiger’s Drug-Hell Singers, Is That a Real Band?, That Would Be Amazing If So, Go Betweens, Soft Boys, Soft Machine, Soft Cell, Soft Bulletin, Don Cherry, Destroyer, Cluster, Tyvek, Essential Logic, Glasser, Wreckless Eric, Nick Lowe, Sparks, Magazine, Melvins, Cardigans, Acrylics, Pterodactl, Fela Kuti, R. Stevie Moore, et al!!!!

Please let me know if you have any questions. I love you.

Oye CoMo Va

I’m moving to Columbia, MO this summer without the best idea of what I’ll be doing there. In the meantime, I’m keeping a running list of things to know about, to get excited about moving there. Convincing myself that CoMo will be an all right place to spend some days, probably some years.

This morning I clicked on a press release from the Minneapolis label De Stijl for a band that sounded interesting. I yipped a little as I began to read the text below the track:

Having toured tirelessly and stupidly for many years, I played the unlikely hot spot of Columbia, Missouri no less than three times one summer. Don’t ask me how—logistically the cursed itinerary is still a mystery—but I can probably tell you why. The chance to play a gig with that city’s Jerusalem and the Starbaskets always made it a worthwhile and necessary stop. Basically a duo (although sometimes augmented by other members), Jerusalem and the Starbaskets play unfashionable, unpretentious and completely devastating pop music, and they’re one of my all time favorite live bands. Criminally under-recorded up until now (with only a handful of impossibly rare cassettes and a split LP with Skarkraou Radio to their name), their brand new The Howling LP (Radio Fonico) is a great sampling of their unique vibe, sounding like the third Velvets LP played by The Terminals. Note the righteous guitar tone any stoner rock Chud would envy, and catchy, infectious tunes (with a recent emphasis on country melodies) that will stay in your head for weeks. Completely necessary and great. Album of the month!

~ James Jackson Toth
Your Flesh

Further reading on the press-release proper reveals:

Jeremy Freeze is a Memphis born songwriter who has spent the last few years in Columbia, Missouri playing and recording with Kim Sherman as Jerusalem and the Starbaskets. Before yr preconceived notions of Missouri make things cloudy, consider the Black Artist Group, Screamin’ Mee Mees, Drunks with Guns, Gene Clark and a whole lot of other shit that you don’t know about get in the way. [emphasis mine] Lest there be other confusion, my friend Oliver, this 65 year old dude from Kashmir, told me DOST means “brother man”. So basically, DOST is “friend” but a more familiar way of the word. Just so happens that it’s the phonetic same as “dosed”. One crystalline thing herein is the Jams. Freeze has reached that point where he’s saying more by saying less and that’s a level that many songwriters never reach. After a few yrs of playing gigs with Times New Viking, Wooden Wand and a short list of more or less limited releases, DOST is the bands first readily available release and we’re going to do our best to get it everywhere.

I realize it’s a potentially sad thing for a solid, hip-seeming garage band to make me (so) excited to move to a place. But man doth not live by True/False Film Festival alone, know what I mean?

Also, I hadn’t heard of any of that list of other Missouri heavy hitters, allow me to follow those references up a little. I could use a cup of coffee this morning.

  • Drunks with Guns
    “four sauced, weird-looking guys sitting stupefied atop kegs with beers in hand and countless empties of Milwaukee’s Best and Meister Brau at their feet”

  • Gene Clark
    b. November 17, 1944, Tipton, MO. Co-founder of the Byrds.

  • “a whole lot of other shit that you don’t know about”
    indeed

Vegan Breastmilk for Sale

Editor’s Note: This blog entry contains the personal, journal-entry-style musings of its author. The diaristic mode is a common one on the “blogosphere,” but critics and pundits still find the time to complain about how boring and pointless it is for people to write about themselves if they’re not living through extremity.  If you are likely to be offended by a first-person bourgeois confessional, you are advised to steer clear of this website entirely, and focus on more immediately pressing global concerns.

I am a tiny bit hungover. As I’ve already mentioned “in this space,” after reading Deb Olin Unferth’s interview with Gary Francione in the Believer magazine I couldn’t think of a reason to justify continuing to eat meat or animal products, aside from “it is convenient and delicious,” so I decided to call a temporary cease-fire until I could think it through. So I’ve been vegan for about six weeks. The first weekend in, I snarfed a cookie at a museum and realized later that it almost certainly contained  butter and eggs. I also ate half of a hot and sour soup before remembering that the delicious floaty strands are of course scrambled eggs. I’ve been pretty solidly vegan since then. I didn’t throw away the leather I own. I drank a bloody mary that probably had worcester sauce that probably had anchovies in it. I put tofu in the blender for the first time in my life. Tofutti ersatz cream cheese is excellent. I don’t like the herb flavor in their “herbs n chives” variety but if you chop up some chives and stir them into the plain variety it’s good. All other fake cheese I’ve tried is gross, except for the stuff at Gracias Madre. Tofurella fake cheese is not vegan. Vegan pancakes are just as good as non. Indian food tends to have lotsa butter and yogurt everywhere. Today I went to a chinese restaurant and wanted chicken and scallops and beef and fish and shrimp and eggs. I ate a vegetarian hot and sour soup that had eggs in it. I can feel myself caving further. I want to buy large packages of anchovies and sardines. And grill a big salmon, and skewer some fucking shrimps. That’s mostly what I miss. Cubes of cheddar bobbing in the ocean, they can drown. Since I’ve been vegan I’ve grown a full, womanly bosom, and my penis is now shaped like a little vagina. My teeth have yellowed and when I poop it looks and sounds like this:

I adopted a dog on a semi-lark and the dog is not vegan. I walk around craving sea bass with my breast pocket filled with crumbled up sticks of “Pupperoni” — basically low-grade beef jerky. I’m still overweight. Pizza sounds good. Factory farming practices commit inexcusable crimes every day. Dudes argue that even the most humane dairy farm is still not cool for the cows. Cows only lactate if they are pregnant? What? How do dairy farms work?

Beer is vegan. So is Scotch. So is my loaf of bread, and my jar of peanut butter. Poetry is not vegan. Some poetry is vegan but much of it is not. Reading the back of the book is not always a reliable indicator. Reliable indicators are impossible to find in the United States. You need to travel to Thailand or Guam to find them. People with genitals tend not to stay vegan for very long. People argue that they’re more interested in human rights than animal rights, so they order steak. It’s possible to think about and work for human rights while eating a falafel sandwich with no cheese or yogurt on it. What board games are technically zero-sum games? Does anyone want to play online Go with me? It’s pretty fun. I’m sometimes on Pandanet as “quailty.” Hit me up.

The craigslist m4m/vegan forum is intense.

What about all the rodents and insects that die when you harvest organic skin creme? The answer is, it’s impossible to go through life without inadvertently hurting some other living thing, but if it’s within your power to avoid punishing some sentient being, then one shouldn’t let the rodents that occasionally get shredded by the creme-thresher justify the punishment of the chicken with its beak ripped off, and so on.

bunrelated   Schuyler:

This morning
one of the dogs killed
a barn owl. Bob saw
it happen, tried to
intervene. The airedale
snapped its neck and left
it lying. Now the bird
lies buried by an apple
tree. Last evening
from the table we saw
the owl, huge in the dusk,
circling the field
on owl-silent wings.