daily preciousness

Tuesday, June 29, 2004


That's Japanese for "nostalgia." And I'm all about adjust-your-seat-to-the-full-upright-position nostalgia right now. That's because the boys at the ol' Mainichi Yomiyuri have graced us with a visual buffet of comedy.

Me and the all the guys from the "My Yummy" want you to know that summertime is the right time for ice cream. Yes, I said ice cream. Don't worry if you're a lactose hater. Don't worry if you only drink Silk soy. Don't worry if the last time you ate ice cream became so completely dejected by the froo-froo la-la choice that you stabbed yourself with a pink plastic spoon. Just sink your tongue into a big scoop of this.

And you can thank me later.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004


Last year, I didn't have my pride. I was prideless.... I know, I know. It's tragic beyond words that I would be without pride, but it happened. Here's how.

We flashback to one year ago on a blustery Thursday night. I realized that I had to work that Saturday. But wait... Saturday was the day of the big 'mo pride parade! I felt like Michael): I was stuck doing inventory at the Q-Mart on the one big gay day of the year. (All of gay Pittsburgh will be out having fun while I'm stuck stacking toilet tissue rolls into a pyramid display!)

Should I risk my job (and steady income) at the Q-Mart by calling in sick and attending pride, or should I (gulp) just swallow my pride and dutifully stack that Charmin?

I sat and thought about what I should do, waiting for a sign -- some hint I could carve out of happenstance -- to justify my urge to dump the Charmin and go squeeze something more interesting.

What to do? A zephyr in the sky that night was calling to me... Saturday was the day of big parade and pride party. Now, just to give you some background, with my old job, I only had to work a few weekends a year. But it just so happened that my weekend to work fell on the same day as pride. Which is totally unfair....

I mean, if you think about it, it was like asking a black person to work on MLK day. Or a Muslim to work on a Holy Night during Ramadan! I really felt like calling in sick. But I swallowed my pride -- every last salty ounce of it -- and went to work, head held low. I had to work it, from noon 'til dusk. Alas, the music of my soul was silenced that afternoon. I made a silent promise, though, the day the music died, to never EVER work on pride again.

This year, I was fine! Home free. I was relieved. My spirit was ripe with fruity expectation (which actually tastes like peach/white cranberry juice, in case you were curious). I felt... like I just got home. This year, I felt... pride.

To start it all off, I even went to a pre-pride parade party. There, I met Matthew and Doug, a sweet and cheerful couple.

They took me in, ever so generously. They fed me and they plied me with drink. They showed me their rainbow pride lamp of laughter and forgetting.

Most importantly, Matthew and Doug didn't mind it at all when I asked a tough question: Should pride really be considered one of the seven deadlies?

Why should it? Come on, is it really so bad that it should be characterized as a sin? I hedged the question a bit.... No. I framed it: Is it a sin? No -- not if it's only once a year, right? I mean, if God really loves us, then shouldn't He be pleased that we're joyful for being ourselves? What is the point of being a fully realized human being if you cannot be proud of yourself? What kind of screwy paradigm would not allow being pleased with yourself?

I don't know. So I resolve to find out. I'm gonna find the answer to the question. I'm gonna avoid the cliche'; I'm gonna suspend my senses. I'm gonna shake up the system. I'm gonna destroy my ego. I'm going to close my body by opening my mind. There's so much more to know. Vanilla coke and vanilla vodka coats the lining of my stomach, is absorbed into my bloodstream and blocks the synapses of the brain while I interview folks with this ridiculous, pseudo-intellectual poser line of questioning.

The answers vary from ignorance to indifference: "Pride is a sin? I didn't know that," said one guy with big knuckles and a bright blue cocktail. Another dude with a tighty whitey T-shirt and blue-green eyes retorted, "Why do you ask, you gonna report me to your priest?"

When I broadened the topic to all the deadly sins, one guy told me that he had no idea that sloth was a sin. He thought it was just an animal. I acted completely outdone with him and exclaimed, "Duh... who do you think gave sloths that brand name? Of course it's a sin. Every morning I sleep in 'til 10, I say to myself, 'Now it's time to wake up ... slothfulness is a sin!'" He asked me if it worked. "Well, am I in bed now?" He just smiled nervously.

The party was fun and friendly. I'm glad I found it. I got some help on the way....

On the way there, I happened to notice some red, white and blue balloon toting types walking down the street. One looked distinctly familiar as he puffed out his cheeks, puckered up and blew, whitey Louis Armstrong-style. Quicker than a ray of light, I asked him if he needed some help. "Look -- that's my Jeffrey," Todd replied, greeting me with a kiss and a smile. A few more steps and he had rapidly and neatly applied the requisite political stickers and buttons to my person.

After just a dozen or so drinks, some vegetable nibbling and a whole lot of tongue wagging, we found ourselves perched on a rail watching the parade go by.

Every bit the spectacle, the parade didn't disappoint. Let's keep it together:
- Dykes vroomed their bikes and had fun wagging their little leather handlebar tassles.
- Married couples with top hats and bridal trains chugged along on top of convertibles.
- A famous local drag queen threw out bananas, as is her shtick.
- Rainbow queers hoofed along on horseback (saddle and bareback).
- There were political types handing out bumper stickers and buttons.
- I liked the dykes for visibility, with a pink carnation and a pickup truck.
- Some cute cowboys even danced around back of a flatbed. (I just had to shake my head and worry for them... I mean, after all, you know what they say: friends don't let friends line dance.)
- The mayor (whom I met years before at the marathon) threw out necklaces and candy.
- I also spied the famously friendly Cornelius, the head of the Whitman-Walker Clinic (whom Emmy and I call "Urkle" because of his manner).

They all paraded past, wanting, needing, waiting for the crowd to justify their love. For the most part, the crowd responded. It wasn't the outdated party that people complain about. It wasn't the display of wild hedonism that cynics reject. It was simply a local street party for the neighborhood. It reminded me of the wonderful Baton Rouge tradition of the Spanish Town parade, with its delightful blend of ridiculousness and ridicule.

At one point, a friendly group of out-of-towners walked over and asked about my headphones. (I almost always wear them around my neck after I listen to them on the metro into town.)

Before I could answer, Todd chimes in. "Didn't you know? Where's your head? This is one half of Internationally renowned Music group Thunderpuss. This is the man who will be spinning tonight at Nation. Fellas, meet your DJ."

The guys were suitably impressed. One felt as though he was impressed. (That's what I felt, anyway.)

Ribbon rained down, along with a few showers of candy and beads. The views were nice and the company was excellent. Except for some bitch that tried to steal Todd's attention away. He held her and whispered into her ears until she was resting in the arms of unconsciousness....

That, in a nutshell, was pride. It had a quaint, "this used to be my playground" quality. The entire atmosphere was that of a relaxed, neighborhood parade: a simple gathering of like minds (or, for the cynical reader, like mindlessness). All in all, the three men I admire the most, the father the son and the holy ghost didn't seem to mind the pride.

And that's the story of how I got my pride back. 2004 was the year of prideful reclamation... of laughter and forgetting. I took to the streets and took back my pride. Silently and conscious livingly, I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that I'd kept the promise I made the year before. (Right thoughts lead to right words lead to right actions... you know the drill.) Pride, this year, was like a dream to me.

Little did I know, as the last floats rolled away, that the pride was just the beginning of fun for June. The memories I made surrounding that pride weekend are far sweeter than I could've imagined.

More to come.... like a muse, a dream and a prayer....

Friday, June 18, 2004


I have to pause and ponder the concept of distance. It’s an idea whose time has gone. I live in a time and a place that renders distance to within inches of meaninglessness. My thoughts, words and deeds travel at light speeds. They fly along the eight-fold wavicle path to the receiver’s ear, eye, mind. (FYI: Particles and waves belong in the dustbin along with flat-earth theory, kids.)

My thoughts are anytime, anywhere, unlimited night and weekend thoughts. I can rollover my thoughts to the next emotional cycle. And, God, have I ever been emotional lately. The tears just burst in, unwelcome, like Immigration at a Mexican restaurant. They stun me like a fly in my soup.

I’m doing housework and then the crying fits start. I don’t pretend to understand it. All I know is that my heart is flying at half-mast. And my meme playground has been vandalized. Somebody broke in and bashed my jungle gym. Ripped up the swings. Wiped out the climbing wall. Unhinged the sandbox. Tore down the sandcastles that I'd built at low thought tide.

I have to smile at the thought of sandcastles. I'm driving. City lights blur by and I have "Papa don't Preach" on the radio, playing quietly. Meanwhile, I hear half of a phone conversation...

"Hello? Oh -- Sorry. Can’t take your call right now. I’ve got the press on the other line -- Vanity Fair is demanding a statement from Mr. Brady…”

That’s what Todd, my valued social secretary, said when my phone rang in the car last night. He knows I hate to drive and I absolutely can’t talk on the phone in the car. (I can hardly talk to the passenger without getting lost or running a light.)

Thank God for his frivolity. I never knew I’d need his Baptist punch-drunk sense of zany so much. But I need levity like air these days. I guess it’s just the war on terror, the lightening storms of rush, the midterms and the end-of-year paperwork that have gotten me stressed out.

These are the days when my thoughts are not my own. And I want to/need to/have to/ share them so that I won’t feel so alone. Sometimes, when it’s storming outside and in, when the weather channel announces a severe thunderstorm warning for my synapses… that is when I think that distance does matter. And my thoughts, words and deeds need to take shape in the form of a listener’s smiles.

Or frowns.

Or even tears, that flow in sympathy with the memes that bind.

The George Jetson videophones inhabit kitchen countertops and computer monitors. But you know what? They just don’t do us justice. We are creatures that require the added touch and smell with our palette of sight and sound.

And so far, the dance of electrons cannot do justice to us. Presence cannot be replicated. I need that presence to remind me of the Big Ideas, the definitions that matter: Hands are for holding and earlobes for nibbling. Foreheads are for furrowing. Temples are for butterfly kisses. Eyes are for sparkling... not tearing up, despite the distance that divides.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

dedicated to naughty children everywhere

Agent provocateur, Todd, is in effect. Once again, he's got the goods. He's snagged tickets to see Madge at MCI.

I can smell exhaust fumes, acrid and noxious, through the air conditioning vent, as we speed from the waterfront to Chinatown. The bump-and-divit potholes don't slow us. We speed along at a steady and insistent pace.

My mood is giddy, carefree and extravagant. Of course, the presence of glitter only adds to this. So we glittered ourselves. (I'd brought a can of my roommate's gold spray glitter to add to Todd's lavender, yes, lavender colored powder puff glitter. We have two methods of application: patting and spraying. We look like Jem and the Holograms: truly outrageous.)

Princess parking status is achieved with a remarkable example of carma. Quick-change artist me, I slip out of my pants only to realize that I'd forgotten my other pair. Sitting in my backseat, parked on a quiet street, I am quietly thankful that nobody passes by to spy my upturned legs in "Horton Hears a 'Ho" boxers.

Todd stands in front of me, shielding my shame. So, lacking more appropriate pants, I settle on the dress slacks (which now have more sparkle than a rural drag queen). At least I have my fun-fun party shirt. It's a loud, brassy and Escher-like pattern, evoking blood orange food fights.

Thank god the parking spot -- we only have to walk across the street to enter the arena. We pass under a garish MCI Center sign that is spiked like a medieval torture device, although I suspect it's only to keep the pigeons away.

Just a few steps down into the arena and we find ourselves a mere three rows from the floor. We've got great seats.

First off, we started with a wholesome Sunday School Lesson. Not. It was the oh-so familiar thump and high tat from "justify my love," accompanied by queasy, stacatto edited videos.
"And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.

And they worshipped the beast, saying, who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?

And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.

If any man have an ear, let him hear. He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars , shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."

The Marilyn Manson style video editing featured all kinds of furry fun. I remember a fox mask and a colorful Mardi Gras style mask on our glamorous Sunday School teacher. She rolled around on a divan and looked like she was having awful menstruation cramps. It was truly very difficult to watch... but intoxicating, all the same. More than any other song, that night, she brought me back to the original appreciation I had for the song, which I still have the Japanese single for.

I'm not sure what made it so distressing about the video. Maybe it was the skillful combination of the hypnotic B-side Revelations 13 remix and this completely new imagery. Whatever it was, it was electrifying and very effective. This material girl made it clear from the get-go that she was not yet out of material.

And she's matured. Her music -- indeed her overall ability -- to express herself has ripened and grown. It was total nonstop music video action. But it wasn't just a melange of her greatest hits. It wasn't a singles album made live. It was a variety of old and new, filmic and rhythmic, political and war critical.

The highlight for me? The video clips.

Impressive. Not just the first set. Nearly every song had an elaborate backdrop of visuals. The large-scale screens actually moved around, providing a textured, collage-like effect. It was a kinetic, pulsing painting of sex. What's not to love?

The next highlight for me was a faithful adaptation to "Vogue." Again, the background imagery was perfect. This time, the august, aesthetic lines of classical paintings in a museum popped up. Like a kalaidoscope, the paintings randomly curved and sloped in on themselves, like an act of curator cannibalism. And isn't that the whole point of (vogue) fashion? Does it not feed on itself?

Oddly unfoody, the dancers were not as scrumptious as in our lady's previous tours. I remember watching them in Truth or Dare, licking my chops, and thinking, "Those dancer men are amazing. I would lick the sweat off of every square inch of them, toe to head -- and pay for it!"

Admittedly, I was just a teen at the time, all rhinestone nails, scrunchies in my hair and a My Little Pony lunchbox.... so I've changed a lot. (Now I have a Power Puff Girls lunchbox.)

But the dancers on this tour were decidedly less sexy. I don't go for the tattoos, kids. And these dancers had more religious writing on them than the Wailing Wall.

I guess she hired them so that they could actually dance, which they did. They danced very athletically. In military garb, throwing bayonets around, then in kilts, pounding marching drums and one even skated gymnastically on a half pipe. What they lacked in sex appeal they made up for in ability to shake their henna-dyed, Aramaic tattooed bodies. Their costumes were great; I loved how they actually had people come out in burkas at one point during "Holiday." That was a highpoint. The world needs more women shaking their bad Islamic self like Kelis on that milkshake video.

(Didn't John Lennon mention that in his classic "Imagine" song: "Imagine all the baby dolls in burkas, shakin' like a polaroid picsha"? Or maybe that was Outkast....)

During one of the slower numbers, Todd slipped out to get some cocktails. As he left, the latino next to me offered his opera glasses in a very neighborly way, adding, "She's still hot -- she may be old, but her legs look great!" I thanked him, peeped Madge and had to agree -- she had her some toned and firm gams. To return the favor, I offered him a hit of Todd's glitter powder puff. He demurred, but his tiny wife accepted. She gingerly patted her nose and forehead with the lavender sparkle. "Don't forget your cheeks," I reminded her. "Now why don't you join us," I asked the husband, who was again admiring Madge's legs. "No, no," he resisted, waving his hands at me in shocked disbelief, as if I'd offered him tofu tamale. After pointing out to him that "everybody's doing it," gesturing at the sparkling faces of everybody north, south and east of us, he relented. And then failed miserably.

As if to prove his complete ineptitude at applying makeup, the guy dropped the powder puff into his beer cup. His full beer cup. His little swarthy complexion quickly turned the color of a red pepper as he apologized. His wife quickly grabbed the puff and frantically attempted to dry it by rubbing it up and down her arms. Juanita was as hyper as a Chihuahua at a soccer match! I laughed and told her not to worry about it -- we could just freebase the glitter (like 1980s Boy George) or simply sprinkle it on, Elton John 1970s style.

By the time she'd dried it off and worked up a fierce glitter on her right arm, Todd had arrived. She'd forgotten to dry the powder puff bilaterally, though, and her left appendage was dull and lackluster by comparison. I whispered to her,
"¿Me excusa, señora, pero usted fue labrado por una reina de la fricción del amputee? ¡Usted parece verdaderamente espantosa!"

(Excuse me, ma'am, but were you styled by an amputee drag queen? You are truly frightening!") She just smiled and clapped along to "Holiday."

Just then, I realized that the vicious comment was fueled by the cocktail. I was shocked and embarrassed by my candor. (Luckily, she didn't understand a word. My slurred Spanish sounded like a drunken Japanese salaryman with a Louisiana accent! So I was in the clear. Her husband didn't bludgeon me with his opera glasses. On the contrary, he continued to let me borrow them throughout the show.)

In between glimpses through the binoculars, Todd and I danced like Deiter on Sprockets.
We jumped and jived like floozies at a juke joint.
We hooped and hollered like Pentecostals.

Of course, all the true Madonna fans around us appreciated our devotion. A few of our neighbors, like the tall, impassive straight boy to our left, ignored the love and feigned acute boredom. We actively pitied him and danced some more, as penance for his aural indifference.

The twenty foot high image of Dubya hugging Saddam Hussein brought a huge round of applause to this Sunday night crowd. You have to admit, ours was arguably the most politico-centric crowd she'd see on her world tour. And this audience probably applauded for that visual treat at least as much as her British and French audiences will.

Before we knew it, the show was ending. No curtain call... Just a final confetti cannon blowout, dance-around-the-big-catwalk number. "Holiday" got everyone on their feet and jumping. Flags of every nation morphed together. It was an act of unapologetic optimism:
"You can turn this world around
And bring back all of those happy days
Put your troubles down
It's time to celebrate
Let love shine
And we will find
A way to come together
And make things better
We need a holiday"

That song was an unlikely but telling ending song for the show. I think her ultimate act of rebelliousness on this tour was to be -- *gasp* -- optimistic.

She left us -- liberated us -- to experience the ultimate guilty pleasure of a culture of fear: feeling joy.

The happiness of the holiday she spoke of -- she brought it. She brought us back.

For a few moments, the bad guy wasn't Dubya, but Darth Vader.
Reese's Pieces, not yellow cake.
E.T., not WMD.
It wasn't fighting in Fallujah, it was Fast times at Ridgemont High.

With the simple act of singing this song, she recalled the carefree 80s. That was her bravest song choice of the evening, if you ask me, kids. And she brought us back with this joyous song. Hearing it gave me pause to close my eyes, take a mental snapshot, (*click*) and just experience the total bliss of being alive. You don't have to be a Kabbalahist to get that. You just have to be alive. So thanks, Madge, for that undiluted optimism and the little slice of hope in an threat-elevated, terror-fied world.

It's no wonder she dedicated her latest book to naughty children everywhere. Just like Yakov of the traditional folktale, she proved that good things can happen with faith and optimism. Even if you're naughty.

Thanks, Madge, for that important reminder. And thanks, Todd, for experiencing that with me.

Monday, June 14, 2004


Do you remember playing Monopoly as a child? My favorite moment was when I got a "Chance" card. Some unexpected windfall would land in your lap. It might have been a "get out of jail" card or a "heir to a fortune" card. Whatever it was, it was great.

Well, I got one of those earlier today when Todd called and said that he'd snagged some great front section tickets to see Madonna's Reinvention tour. Let's see if she's still got it in her!

Should be a fun evening out.

Thursday, June 10, 2004


Today is "dress up like a profession" day and the kids get to show off their precocious little plans for their future vocation. My favorite was one little girl who was dressed in khakis. "What are you today?" I asked and she responded, straight-faced, "I'm a BREEDER!" "Um, Okay," I struggled at composure, smoothing the folds of my Armani sleeve out, "What does a breeder do?"

(I was already thinking to myself, "Oh, Lord, not ANOTHER BREEDER! And this one is going to be a PROFESSIONAL breeder. I guess that means she'll be working for some conservative thinktank organization or something! Great!")

"A breeder takes care of animals in the jungle," she told me. "And I like the jungle and I want to take care of baboons and leopards. That's why I want to be a breeder."

"And do you want to help the animals have babies?" I inquired.

"No, I don't care about that."

"Um. Well, that's usually what breeders specialize in doing: helping animals breed so they can have babies."

"I've never heard of that," she told me, looking slightly upset at the thought. And we went on to a reading of "What are the Olympics?" and talked about sportsmanship and fair play....

Aaaaaaaah, yes, another dream shattered at the old library! Well, my work was accomplished today!

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

the gipper vs. pet shop boys

I refuse to watch the news these days. I can't stand to be bombarded with the orgasmic eulogies that are going on. Yes, Reagan did some great things. I agree with that. His administration did some good things.

But I swear, people are acting like he freaking invented individually sliced cheese.

Well you know what? He didn't.

He was a capable leader and a great -- THE great -- communicator. But so much of what I've heard is just making him out to be a saint when, frankly, he was not.

Like one piece I heard on NPR said that Reagan brought an end to the cold war with his "Tear down this wall" speech. Well, I'm sure the speech didn't hurt matters. But what you might want to consider is what was going on in the Kremlin during that time. What was being said and what was being heard.

One of the things that Gorby heard a lot of was his daughter's music, apparently, according to this article in the Telegraph (registration required).

In it, Neil Tennant explains about what he learned upon accepting the Russian World Arts Award last year:

[Mikhail Gorbachev's] daughter told us, 'When I was a teenager I used to listen to your records all the time.' And we had this great image of It's a Sin playing in the Kremlin, during glasnost.

If Gorby's daughter is anything like I was at that age (by that, I mean a little czarina), then I suspect she played her psb so much that the tape wore thin! It is a pretty safe bet to say that her Dad's world view was subtly but irrevocably altered by Behaviour and probably Actually. He probably got a little Introspection, as well.

And I posit that our boys' fine music helped bring about an end to Communism. It's just a theory. I'd have to talk with Gorby to hash it all out. (He did give Neil and Chris that award last year, after all.)

So... maybe it was a little less Gipper and a little more Pet that thawed out relations. Yes, a smiling cowboy can do a lot for world peace. But don't ever forget what two boys from suburbia can do.

I'll leave you with a few words from thier October symphony:

Shall I rewrite or revise
my October symphony?
Or as an indication
change the dedication
from revolution to revelation?
So we're all drinking
as leaves fall to the ground
because we've been thinking
how October's let us down
then and now...

My October Symphony

Monday, June 07, 2004

"Thank you, Mr. B!"

Okay, I'll admit it. I'm easy.

By that, I simply mean that once I'm upset about something, I'm easy to calm down. It usually takes a few well timed words to sort it all out. I rarely stew over things. (Brooding isn't for me -- it's for poets and cicadas.)

I spent a few extra hours at home last week writing little inscriptions in books for the children. Each of my 5th graders gets five books to take home for the summer and keep for themselves. I spent about three or four hours writing little notes in their books. It brought me back, doing it. Back in "the day," I remember penning similar inscriptions in yearbooks.

Dear Jamie,
I hope that you have as much fun reading this book as I did. Remember: if your belly aches from laughing too much, you can always bookmark it and come back later.
Have a great summer and good luck at McKinley Middle next year!

Mr. B

It's really not a Petrarchan sonnet or anything difficult, but it did take considerable time and effort to jot down a personalized note for 50+ young ones. Then, as an added extry special bonus, I thought we'd have an ice cream party to celebrate the end of the year. So I ran to the store and picked up plenty of ice cream -- but not those old and busted flavors that we got in school. No.

I refuse to serve second-rate flavors in my library. Only flava-luscious flavors: Butterfinger swirl, cherry almond fudge, chocolate chunk and Hershey's Crunch. Let's face it... my flava choices rocked hard. While other teachers were dishing out stale old has-been flavors like vanilla and chocolate, I was offering the premium stuff.

And it took some running around to get them and set everything up for the classes. But I didn't mind, because I thought, "They'll really appreciate this. I'm going the extra mile for them -- they're sure to realize that."

To top it all off, I wore my especially new badness Harry Potter baseball cap, cocked to the side, East Coast gangsta style. Just 'cause I'm like that. And also, I wore it to celebrate the opening of the new film. I had seen the film the night before at a special sneak preview. Some of the kids were impressed by this (which was the whole point). Other kids were completely confused as to what a "sneak preview" was, asking, "So... it doesn't open until tonight. So how did you see it last night? How is that possible?"

So it was an all-around fun day at the library. And the thanks would just be effusive, right? It would be pouring down on me like rain from "Hurricane Marianne the Librarian". Alas, the only pouring was when somebody overturned their melted ice cream and it poured all over the rug. And they didn't bother to tell me. And it soaked in and formed a sugary, creamy stain -- the embodiment of my dashed hopes at any sign of appreciation.

The kids grabbed their five free books, ate the ice cream, ignored their personalized inscriptions and left. Not a single one showed any signs -- however faint -- of gratitude.

My hopes were dashed completely. And I muttered to myself, "Well, we'll see if I ever do something as misguidedly generous as this again!"

And so it remained. For the weekend. I was an embittered old soul the whole time.

Until today. Until this morning at 8:50 AM, when I walked up the steps to school and a bright-eyed fifth grader who is a very good reader said, "Mr. B! Thank you! I started reading the book that you gave me last week. And you were right! I love it. It's so funny that my belly ached from laughing. Thank you, Mr. B!"

And that's all it took. I forgive them. And all wrongs are forgotten.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

great jog

My favorite purveyor of 'tude, that sassy little penguin Batzu-Maru was smiling from somebody's bumper during my jog down Four-Mile Run. He egged me on and filled me with hyperactive glee just by being there.

The weather was perfect, too. And I got lost in my thoughts, as I sometimes do when the weather's perfect (upper 70s with a breeze). Furthermore, my recent stresses (piles and piles of schoolwork and the generic emotional isolation) seem utterly surmountable and I am in a very happy place right now. I can manage everything. It's all... sorted.

I uttered the phrase "No se puede ponerse la bicicleta aqui" to a girl who had parked her bike smack dab in the middle of the busy trail. She understood immediately what I meant and yanked the offending bike off of the path. Communicating that felt great -- I haven't used my Spanish very much with this job... except every now and then, when a kid will inquire, "What does 'Esperanza' mean?"

"It's the name of the main character of the novel," I explained, adding that it means "she who waits" in Spanish.

The Batzu-Maru sighting, the great weather and the effective use of Spanish in oral communication, plus the ever-present endorphine rush at the end of the run... they all added up to a great mood. And even a silly mood.

I was in such a silly mood, in fact, after the run, that I played a little joke. A happy young couple were walking out of a rowhouse behind ours, just around the corner. The house was for sale and it was an open house weekend for potential buyers. So, as they were walking back to their car, I stopped and said, with a super earnest look on my face, "It's a nice place, isn't it? You'd never guess that the house -- the whole neighborhood -- is built on an old Indian burial ground! {Pause} You folks have a good day!" They paused for a second and just froze. The look on their face -- of shock and confusion -- were priceless and so photographable. Wish I'd had my camera. I would've posted it.

Um. I think the endorphines made me do it.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

there for you when you need it

It's nice to know that when I need something, the internet is always there for me. A book, a CD, a video of Paris Hilton... It's all there.

And now, I just found out that if I need a little human comfort -- a little warmth and companionship -- well, I can buy that on the internet, too. It's simple. And I can get it in my choice of colors.

Japanese advert for the patented "comfort pillow"

Yep, it's all there. People come and go. But the net is there for me. And it can be there for you, too.

So, the next time you need a hug, just remember: the internet is there for you when you need it.

Laura is Bene Gesserit

A terrifying sight greeted my drowsy eyes over chocolate milk this morning. Still a little bleary eyed, I spied this photo:

Do you see anything in common with this image? (Other than the vacuousness of a certain space?)

Yes, that's right. She's wearing the same uniform as Reverend Mother Ramallo on David Lynch's Dune. Needless to say, this little discovery was a painful and difficult way to start off my day. And it brings up some very thorny questions...

1. What are my responsibilities in this matter?
2. Must I expose one of the most influential librarians for what she really is?
3. What kind of wacky skull and bones breeding scheme is this?
4. Did somebody forget to carry a one and accidentally mate her up with Dubya?
5. Has she used Voice on my roommate?

These questions remain, as of yet, woefully unanswered. But there are some facts to consider:

It's a well-established fact that Laura Bush has killed and she could kill again at any moment. She earned the taste for blood a long time ago and it is clear that she still hungers for like a Voldemortian Death-eater after a pot-smoking binge.

Furthermore, I suspect that Laura instigated her husband's switch from cocaine and alcohol to more socially acceptable snacks like pretzels.

Or maybe I've just been unduly influenced by my current reading material.

Moran on way toward beatification

You have to wonder about this guy. Does he realize that he might just have an impulse control problem? I mean, attacking a kid on the street is one thing (he did that a while back). But calling people names?

That's just not right. Even if they are Christ killers.

Mr. M: Didn't you learn anything in elementary school? I have K kids who behave much better than you do.

I wonder how this will play into the hands of his dem challenger, Andrew Rosenberg.

Well, if present trends continue, Moran may be on his way toward beatification for being such a tough fighting Irish.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Howie and the Voice

Howie is my roommate:

Our Lady of Murderous Intent

His character sketch is something like this:

Taking a smoke from his Virginia Slim, Howie takes an order for chili cheese fries from a rowdy table of folks at the Crystal City location of Chili's.

He orders them to stop making demands for extra ketchup, instructing that "You see, it's like this: This is not how it works, folks. Maybe this is how it works where you people come from. But here in the U.S., you have to think about what you need and you tell me all at once. You don't catch me every thirty seconds and ask for something else. Got it?"

The shocked Pakistani family looks at him in wide-eyed shock. And they comply unquestioningly.

Howie's got a knack for telling it like it is. And I think he's got to be one of the most entertaining characters that I've ever met. You know that evil vixen on the soap operas? The one who will lie, cheat, steal and commit triple homicide to get what she wants? Well, that's our Howie. (He and my other roommate, David, always seem to be plotting murder. In fact, it's probably their most frequent topic of conversation. Coffee, tea or MURDER? Those are the typical breakfast menu options at the Sorority brunches! David even refers to Howie as "Our Lady of Homicidal Intent.")

This archetype is just a slightly more mature version of the cheerleaders from Heathers. (Howie's official sorority name is Heather because of this.)

Yep. He's like that. Howie's like an adult version of a Mean Girl. And let me tellya, you don't want to be in her burn book. 'Cause he will plot his way to destroy you if he needs to. But that's a subject for another post.

Despite his minor flaws (the inhumane psychological cruelty, the penchant for murder and his power-hungry plotting), Howie is a great guy.

And I enjoy his company.

Just yesterday when he and his parents were treating me to dinner, he told me the story of his experience with First Lady Laura Bush.

As a producer of large scale live events in and around the DC metro area, Howie rubs elbows (not to mention the egos) of the rich and powerful. He handles stage management for rallies, parties, conventions and the like. So it's no surprise that he would find himself assisting the First Lady at one such event.

Just moments before Laura had to go out on stage, Howie was preparing her for the schedule of the show. In his most pleasant and professional tone, Howie let her know how the event was structured and what to expect. The First Lady didn't seem to be paying attention. She didn't look at him. Instead, she stared blankly into space.

"Mrs. Bush, Mrs. Bush, are you listening?" Howie asked.

She didn't respond. So he tried again, in a louder tone.

No response.

So this time, with the Secret Service all around her, he reached up, grabbed her shoulder and gently shook it. Eyebrows on all the guards raised and their muscles tightened.

"I'm just trying to get her to listen," Howie explained, nervously eyeing their bulging muscles.

"Ma'am," one of them asked in a husky tone.

Finally, she awoke out of her odd revery. And that's when she used the Voice.

"I am ready. I don't need your help," she responded, using a strangely powerful tone. Her guards relaxed. Howie stepped back, amid the realizations that she was powerfully capable and capably powerful enough to handle this little stage manager all by herself.

Howie ends his retelling of the story with a Farah Fawcett kick back of his head, adding, "It was outrageous! Here I was trying to help this lady, making a concerted effort to make her look good. And not only does she not listen to me, but she cuts me off and doesn't let me do my job! I completely detest her. She is a loathesome and vile person."

way cool phones

I arrived a little early Friday afternoon to a party. Since the food wasn't ready and the host was out searching for Hawaiian music, I browsed the cover article to Newsweek. It made me immediately want to jump up, tear off my necklace of orchid flowers and grab a new "way cool phone."

What's so swell about one of these way cool phones, you ask? Well, not only are they named Pet Frog, but they have cute colors and do just about everything a laptop does -- but in a way cool way and with style and attitude. And I think they might dry clean clothes, too. I love the idea of a DV phone/camera/mp3 player/calendar/blackberry emailer. Nice combo. It's like you can't really even ask if somebody would want fries with that, because it freakin' comes with the fries! Hello!

kiss my Azkaban

The new Harry Potter movie was an entertaining and visually stunning show. It is not, however, a movie for the casual Potter fan. No muggles should see this film. If you haven't read the book, then don't bother. You won't get much enjoyment out of it. And the Potter fans in the theater will resent having to hear you mutter that you don't understand the rather complicated plot.

Much darker and moodier than the previous movies, this one foreshadows the true darkness to come. John Williams music is never intrusive and does a good job providing texture for the film.

The most wonderful cameo was by French of "French and Saunders" fame. She plays the singing painting lady who guards Griffindorf tower. It's especially funny to see her in this campy, over-the-top context since she parodied the movie so wickedly.

I missed spending time with some of the characters that I love so much. But I enjoyed getting to know Professor Trelawney. She has the best bitchy line of any Harry Potter film so far when she scolds Hermoine by saying, "Your heart is as dried and shrivled up as an old crone's. It's as bitter and brittle as the pages of the old books that you so desperately cling to!" Ouch. I know you didn't, Professor Tre'! Oh, but she did. (As an afterthought, I should mention that I had absolutely no idea that the frizzle-haired Trelawney is actually the gorgeous Emma Thompson. They had to lay that ugly makeup on thick to hide her! I only read it was Thompson after I saw the movie.)

The actress who plays Hermoine is turning into a lovely young woman. Ron's face is stretched out like a horse's, though. Sorry about that. The actor who plays Harry is aging quite nicely. He has the most perfectly manscaped eyebrows. I'm going to have to aim for Harryier (not hairier) eyebrow shaping.

Oh -- the special effects were grand... Seeing a hippogriff for the first time was amazing. The creature was absolutely beautiful. It moved very realistically and actually managed to have some character. I don't think I've ever felt like a CGI creature in a movie has had a sense of character before. They managed to in this one. One of the CGI characters is a very moody tree. The Womping Willow really sets the mood for the piece. It is dark, moody and a little bit quirky. Just like the tone of the film.

I'm so glad that I got to see the sneak preview. It was totally worth it. Lying about wanting to buy a house has never been so profitable. If the realtors who put on the show ever harass me about seeing a new house, I'll just laugh and tell 'em to kiss my Azkaban!


As Harry says, "Mischief managed."

Sample of John Williams' soundtrack:

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Thursday, June 03, 2004

neckin', kissin', makin' out

One of the nicest people at work is Dora. Here she is in a nutshell:

-Grey bouffant hairdo with a purple tint.
-Smiles at everybody in the hall.
-Bakes cookies and shares them with us.
-Calls me things like "honey-pie" and "sweety."

Dora's great... and so full of life. She's an elderly lady who works with a special education kid, Chris. (Chris is a huge handful and frankly more trouble than he's worth. I think he's gonna go Columnbine on us one day. Hope he passes up the library.

Anyway, Dora was talking about her time in Arkansas, where she grew up. When she was a young secretary at the governor's mansion, she worked with an infamous politician who had an eye for the ladies.

She said she got a picture of him later on in his career, when he came back to canvas for presidential votes. This is what I hear as I'm grabbing some water from the fridge this afternoon:

"Yeah, I've got a picture of me and him. I asked him what his favorite kind of pictures were and he said, 'you know, pictures of neckin', kissin', makin' out... that sort of thing."

I love non-sequitors that you hear in the teacher's lounge. They're the best kind. Who knew this shrivled up (but adorable) prune of a woman flirted with the frisky devil himself way back when?

Now I do. And so do you.

Go, Dora!

Bril 404

This is an absolutely brilliant 404 message. Appropriate for techy types like me.

...And probably you, if you're reading this at 3 a.m.!

Omaha Penalty

Yesterday I found out about my co-worker, Maria... She and her husband, who is in the air force, will move to Omaha. To some airbase there... to defend the homeland.

The alternative, she told me, was to risk his deployment to the middle east. So Omaha was the only way to get out of getting sent abroad. "So Omaha is like a penalty for not wanting to relocate to Iraq?" I asked her. No, she explained. It's just the alternative.

"But it's... it's Nebraska!" I exclaimed. "The only entertainment will be Mutual Of Omaha Wildlife specials. And people don't even get mauled on those shows... it's the most dull and lifeless wildlife ever!" I argued. But she told me she was "just going to be brave for the homeland." I had to give her a little Heil Bush salute for that bit of wordwork.

She gave me a slightly defeated look. I immediately went red from embarassment. She hardly had a choice. The excitement of Omaha was certainly less risky than life in Iraq. And she hardly had a choice. Poor Maria. How do you solve a problem like Maria's? The Omaha penalty is a fierce one. But it's the best choice in a world so quickly running dry of choices.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

net joy

When you think about the net amount of joy that the web has brought to you, you should probably be thinking about the following things:

Fat kids with light sabers, the sound of woo-woo in the morning, lightning bolt action and the ever-present tourist guy atop the world trade center.

Without these things, would life really have any meaning?

Um, no, I didn't think so.

Now stop chillaxin' and go fix some breafast! (Love to Bubb Rubb and Christian, who first introduced us.)