daily preciousness

Sunday, October 31, 2004

love from Florida

So I decided to get in with the Democracy-to-go crowd and get myself down to Florida.

And you know what? I can feel it... I feel amazing energy and love right here in Miami. It reminds me of San Andreas on Oct. 17th, 1989... Mad, mad love. The past few days have been a blur. It's been as bright and colorful as those old postcards. You know, the ones that have a glimpse of a place in each box letter?

When I breezed in Friday night, sharing the jetblue plane with MacNeil of the PBS MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour, I was giggling and swapping breath strips with a fun young Mary-Kate and Ashley aged duo (circa that last great season of Full House) named Chelsea and Sydney. Chel and Syd, as they called themselves, were 7- and 11-year old sisters who could not disagree more politically. This little pair were diametrically opposed and wore their opinions on their chests. Chel had a cute little "Kids for Kerry" button, with "Kids" playfully written in faux crayon style. And little Syd had a cute little "Hitler Youth for Bush" or some such nonsense. Well, despite this obvious mistake, they were adorable youngins.

After a serious political discussion (or at least as serious as you can get with a 7-year-old), we agreed to disagree. Then we tried to play the "pick the real woman" in a group of crazy drag queens on Gameshow Network's insanely lameshow gameshow, Dog Eat Dog. When the hostess asked, "And will the *real* woman please step forward," I gasped and admitted defeat. The campy opera star was actually a real woman.

Laughing at the sassy opera diva, Chel and I were agreeing to disagree: I haven't been doing that much here in Florida. T Todd is at the top of his game and I've been feeding off that frenetic and hyper energy. This is most definitely not a game. The stakes are real and there's a nation, atmosphere, water supply, marital rights and common sense at stake. And those are all good reasons to be players in the middle of the struggle here in Florida.

"Hurry up -- we've got a country to save." That's the first thing I shouted out when I jumped into Todd's rented Kerry/Edwards van at the airport. We squealed out of that place, too. The rearview mirror was all stern faces of airport security.

Glad we didn't hit that pedestrian at the airport: I think he was a security guard. And those drunken folks who ambled across the dimly lit Collins Street almost got hit, too. But Todd saw them in time. Crazy T Todd. What matters is that they probably hadn't voted yet, so an unfortunate hospital stay for them could've cost valuable votes for us! (Don't mean to sound cold, but remember: eyes on the prize, people....)

As I type these words, I realize that I need to recharge and rehydrate. So let me leave the keyboard and jump into re-energize mode with Todd, so that I can reach that prize better, wresting control of our country from the evil overlords that have overtaken it.


p.s. Love to Henrykins who drove nearly five hours just to give me his support and sweet, sweet love! Kifflom be praised!

Saturday, October 23, 2004


Life is good. And, as usual, I have Henry to thank for that. Henry got Will, Todd and the eternally grumpy roommate, David, to plan a party for me. It was not a surprise party -- except in its initial stage, when they were arranging it.

Sadly, the memory is not that generous when it comes to wild drinking and dancing parties. I didn't have enough food in my stomach to coat against the forgetful juice that I drank down. I have cheerful memories, but nothing that really jumps out.

It was at the relaxed but stylish Local 16, at Todd's request. It was a good choice. I think this review sums it up nicely.
The owners of hip hangouts Eighteenth Street Lounge and Red bring Local 16 to the U Street hood, although local is relative: this is no regular neighbourhood pub. It’s got the sultry red walls and glittering chandeliers of a Parisian bordello and a drinks list that would shame the hippest style bar, including about a dozen fruity martinis made with freshly squeezed watermelon and mango. For all its style quotient though (and those sexy drinks) it is still as laid back and friendly as a local though, those red walls and chandeliers giving it a warm curiosity shop feel, a real gem. Make it your local. "

I parked my car and got there just a few rainy minutes before the start time. A friendly Mexican traveller from Chihuahua stopped me and asked directions to the nearest shelter where he could sleep. I rattled off directions in my best Spanish and gave him enough money for dinner. It was a good reminder for me to be thankful for everything I have and all the friends that I have who were about to come and see me. I left my car smiling that I'd helped someone that night. Soon, we met up on the rooftop terrace. The night's drizzle had stopped.

After a few whiskey sours, I was properly relaxed and making sure everybody had a fun party.

It was a nice mix of new and old friends from various circles. Only a few had met previously. It made for a nice mix of folks.

Here's a little slideshow and album of the fun.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

national Book Festival (part 2)

Neil Gaiman, the most interesting
author who spoke at the festival.

this is an audio post - click to play

Gaiman is probably the only author at the festival who could win the coveted "most stalkable" award by Jblend Enterprises, LTD.

national book festival (part 1)

this is an audio post - click to play

Sunday, October 10, 2004


Egads! My genetically engineered band of giant goranzees has been discovered!

This provides me with an opportunity that only cartoon villains get. Namely, the chance to shout, "And I would've gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for you nosy kids!" Aaaaah. That felt good to get off my shoulders.

Yes, my genetically engineered band of super-gorilla/chimps (or goranzees, as I am want to call them) has been discovered by nosy british scientists. They found my secret breeding grounds in the democratic republic of the Congo.

I suppose I'll have to give up my part-time job as evil super-villain!

street preachers

Those manic street preachers are at it again. You know the ones who stand on street corners with their cheap suits and spread THE WORD? They are just preaching up a storm. They're even doing it electronically, these days. And they inspired me to live differently.

More creatively. More worshipfully. More musically. And so I have to thank them for the inspiration for this...
JUVE, the street preachers rant.

With special thanks to Rob, my preaching coach. (See you at the next prayer meeting Wednesday night.)


Friday, October 08, 2004

a riot

I adore working with kids. One reason why it's so much fun is that you can get away with practically anything.

I've never heard of Rainbow Arch, but it's a riot. It makes me wish we had such daring children's programming here. (Sorry, imported Pocket Monster cartoons just don't cut it!)

We definitely lack that kind of humor here since the untimely demise of the Muppet Show. Now that was good, old-fashioned subversive adult humor disguised as a kids' show! Viva la Henson!

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

gauley 2004: part one

I took just a few droplets home with me. The River Gauley, in exquisite miniature, flows back and forth a little vial as I hold it up to the light. I can see faintly through the plastic.

A happy accident, the little tube of chapstick was not watertight. It collected water... and provided me with an unexpected souvenir of the river.

Is it a magic souvenir? Will the river take on the posture of a vengeful Hawaiian Goddess? Will the River grow angry at the kidnapping of its children, as the Vulcan Goddess does when her rocks are stolen?

I hope not. Truth be told, the river does have a peculiar magic to it.

And I'm not the only one who thinks so.

A river seems a magic thing. A magic, moving, living part of the very earth itself -- for it is from the soil, both from its depth and from its surface, that a river has its beginning."
-Laura Gilpin

From its depths to its surface, the River Gauley called out to me, just like it had a year ago. Who am I to ignore its wild call?

Each time I put that chapstick to my lips, I'm reminded of that call and those wild waters.

I'm reminded of a phone call I made to Bountiful, while I'm trekking up 18th Street. "I hope the river doesn't swallow you up like it did last year," Mom offers.

"Me too," I tell her. It was a wild ride last year, being swallowed up in the churning water. I was nearly a goner when our raft flipped over!

It flipped quite spectacularly. It was a rapid that the guide never expected to get us. But it expelled us quite suddenly and hurled me toward splashdown.

In a flash, there was just blue raft and silver-gray light. Diamond globules of air billowed up like cartoon thought bubbles.

And I feared that Crane was right; I was going to be spent and lost in its spell:

The River, spreading, flows—and spends your dream.
What are you, lost within this tideless spell?
You are your father’s father, and the stream—
A liquid theme...."
-Hart Crane (1899–1932), U.S. poet.

But I made it out of the water just fine. This trip didn't involve a single flip.

I arrived extremely early. The only faces I knew were Marvin's and Phil's. We caught up and talked of his time in Korea, where "you know you're an enemy of the state when the people following you around don't even bother to be stealthy about it," he told me. So it seems that the quality of espionage has hit an all time low when the "bad guys" actually do where black hats and coats.

"I hope that you filled out their 'How am I spying' comment cards accordingly," I told him. Marvin just smiled.

Choosing a baby blue Anywhere Goes team T-shirt, I found myself pleasantly buzzing. Before long, it was time to head out. I'd mixed and mingled a little, but I'd only met about a dozen people out of the group of roughly 55.

Phil's industrial sized smile and Sinatra-like blue eyes seemed to sparkle as he grabbed the mike and welcomed everyone onboard the bus of the mingling waters. (That was my inner nickname for the vehicle, since it was a very social journey last year and I expected more of the same this time. I was right, except it was more social this year since I was in front.)

My position onboard wasn't as Rosa Parks as last year. "Oh, no, I will not be shoved in the back," I remember thinking as I boarded. Strangely, I got on almost dead last because I'd been helping Marvin, Tony and Phil with big boxes of shirts, CDs and giant alcohol-filled coolers.

I sat right behind the coolers, in a seat I like to call the ceremonial bartender. While I was there to socialize and make everyone feel comfortable, I was hardly skilled enough to mix drinks, which is why it was a ceremonial position, only. I wound up mixing a few drinks.

But those that asked once rarely asked a second time. And word spread fast that Jblend wasn't the most talented mixologist onboard.

Marvin introduced me to his best friend, Rob, who absolutely shocked me with his charming Arkansas drawl. I haven't met anybody from that area in ages, so I was pleasantly reminded of how wonderful it sounds. Not only did Rob and I share regional homogeneity, but he's also a journalist. (He was humble, of course. He's actually the DC bureau chief for a wire service.)

We traded disparaging jokes about country hicks in a weirdly white game snaps and come-backs that went along the lines of "Your mama's so country...."

I also met Tom, a friendly, outdoorsy type from New York. While "accidentally" grabbing his backside, I noticed something metallic. I commented that he was either carrying a concealed firearm or a flask. Thankfully, it was the former. We discussed the merits of several varieties of Scotch whiskey while I commented on how handy his rock-hard abdominals would be if we went camping. (With some soap and water, you could use them as a washboard.)

The snarky and always talkative David was there, too. I had met three or four times at various parties. I imagine that a cigarette ad model desperately in need of a smoke would be a lot like him: handsome and always slightly cranky. (Or, perhaps I'm just not accustomed to his caustic humor.)

Chris from Rehoboth and his hyperactive boyfriend, Heinie, were there. They formed the devastatingly funny rear section of the bus. Heinie, especially, kept me laughing with his nonstop air mattress – oops, I mean "stewardess" humor.

At the half-way point, a McDonalds meal stop, we formed a queer flash mob. While the food was beneath me, the Hello Kitty toys in the Happy Meal were definitely not. Chris and I persuaded the smirking waitress to fork over a few windup Kitties. So cute.

In a few hours, we found ourselves at the Summersville motel.

My head hit the pillow ten seconds before I met Jody and his co-workers and pals, Chris and Paul, the crew from Falls Church. We didn't talk too much. The chatter trickled off soon after the lights went out. We went to sleep, spooning a little and dreaming of the river Gauley.

fall 2004

this is an audio post - click to play

Sunday, October 03, 2004

this drug

I haven't uploaded a film in ages, so I thought I should do that this weekend. In the midst of a book report for my linguistics class, I decided it was time to take a break from my studies and relax by putting the finishing touches on this project. It's called This Drug.

It's a little project I've been tinkering on for the past few months. I had a brainstorm one day: "Wouldn't it be fun to try to work in black and white for a change?" So I started looking for a way to use some of my best black and white photographs and a few short films of mine. Chance smiled on me when I ran across an old BBC documentary about the effects of LSD on Royal Army troops. Brilliant stuff. So I added new images, music and sound FX.

The soundtrack I chose is from a great song called chanson de l'arbre by French electronica genius, Autour de Lucie. I think it works perfectly since the best scenes in the film take place in a forest.

My goal was to create a collage of experiences from my own life that successfully conveyed the feeling of being high on a governmentally created drug, known as LSD.

Apparently, this is the formula:

[(H-N) + (N-CH3)] + (O) + (N) + (JBLEND) = this drug.

Turn up the speakers and tell me what you think.

Saturday, October 02, 2004


I was just standing there at the Duplex Diner, where all the boys drink, flirt and kiss one other.

Photographic representation of
boys flirting and then kissing

Anyway, I was talking to Charlie and Brett and new pal Rob. I was reciting my new favorite poem by Dickinson:

The Brain is Wider

The brain is wider than the sky,
For put them side by side,
The one the other will include
With ease, and you beside.
The brain is deeper than the sky,
For, hold them blue to blue,
The one the other will absorb
As sponges, buckets do.
The brain is just the weight of God,
For lift them, pound for pound,
And they will differ, if they do,
As syllable from sound.

And it's such a great piece, too. (Of course, you have to mentally replace the word "brain" with "mind" and try not to spoil the rhyme scheme. Although, I have to admit, it does work better in the initial line.)

But Emmy was a poet who wrote those words decades before psychology was ever thought up, so you have to just let it go.

You gon' make me
lose my mind,
up in here,
up in here!

So I was just standing there, one foot on my barstool, just spouting poetry, when some guy comes over and attempts to scoot the chair away from me. My chair is being burgled. Burgled!

He's dragging it away while my foot is lodged in there. I'm hopping like a drunken Easter Bunny with my drink in my hand. He must have gotten about a meter away before he realized that he was pulling more than what a mere bar stool could weigh.

And I'm like, "Excuse me, but I have a limb stuck in there. Could I remove it before you sprain my ankle?" And California pretty boy with the curly home perm is like, "Ahh, DUDE, I didn't see your foot in there." He smiles a perfect grin and throws his tan hands up in a vaguely apologetic manner.

And I'm like, "Did you just say 'dude'? Do people really say that anymore? That's so Baywatch of you. I'm reading a book on psycholinguistics and I find it very interesting that you'd still use that holophrastic, gender neutral, exclamatory construction."

And he's like, "I've got a Ph.D. in Modern Language Studies from U.C. Berkeley, and in fact people still do say 'Dude.' I can assure you of that. Can I have this chair now?"

And I'm like, madly, madly red-in-the-faced by the quip, the academic letters and the overall sass of it all. And I'm like, "He just totally used me to get a bar stool."

Suddenly, I realize that I cannot -- ABSOLUTELY CANNOT -- reveal that I frame my conversational narrative in the shallow and relentlessly casual manner known as the "And I'm like" rhetorical discursive model.

With a sudden chill and brain-freezing realization, I see that indeed I am guilty of such a thing.

But I promised myself today that I would be true to my voice and write this blog as it came to me. And that is the most painful thing that has happened to me all week. The awful truth that my brain has atrophied and my conversational narrative style is so painfully shallow that it sounds like an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Oh -- and Henry and I both bought a copy for the each other of the same CD, which is annoying but also sweet that we know each other's taste so well.

As you can see, I'm all, "it's been a very painful day!"

country kills

You've got to love the Ig Nobel Awards. They salute the funny side of science every year. The whole thing is an exercise in tipping the hat and grinning a sly grin at modern science. Exploring such deep issues as the five-second germ rule in food science and farting in fish communication, the Annals of Improbable Research do the world a great favor.

And they've also got my back when it comes to country music. In the area of public health, they sent academic air-kisses to a study about country music, which I detest with a passion.

It was a study called "The Effect of Country Music on Suicide" that garnered the prize for Medicine for Steven Stack of Wayne State University and James Gundlach of Auburn University.

According to the study, published in Social Forces, "The results of a multiple regression analysis of 49 metropolitan areas show that the greater the airtime devoted to country music, the greater the white suicide rate."

In keeping with this new research, I demand that country music stations improve public health by only playing country music by crossover divas whose songs are about having sex with cute guys and/or dumping them. This will improve public health and well-being. It will also increase the queer quotient on country stations, because songs like that tend to be so campy. And I can take country, so long as it's campy.

And no one need ever die from country music again.

With any luck, there will be no need to witness tacky coffee mugs like this in the office break room again...

Spare us from this insanity!

Situation solved.