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Wednesday, September 1, 2004
(10:36 am)

Today is the first day of the new month. It's the 245th day of 2004 with 121 remaining. The moon is waning. The morning stars are Mercury, Venus and Saturn. The evening stars are Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune, Mars and Pluto. This month is "Be kind to editors and writers month." It is also "Banned Books Month" "Jazz Month," and "Library Card Signup Month." The only holiday in September is next Monday, September 6, Labor Day. However, I'm sure the eleventh will be observed in various ways by many people in this country. This month we celebrate "Granparents Day" on September 12.

Quote of the Day: "To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." -- Theodore Roosevelt, 26th US President (1858-1919) A Republican!

Related to the above quote is the following excerpt from the book I just finished reading, A Reporter's Life, by Walter Cronkite:

In a misguided attempt to convince the administration leadership of the impartiality of CBS News, company president Arthur Taylor invited then Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger (Carter administration) to a private luncheon with me in his office. The love feast collapsed before we had our first martini when Schlessinger invoked the need for patriotism on all fronts and I was unable to resist a probably too vociferous attack on the whole philosophy.

"It is not the journalist's job to be patriotic," I recall saying. "How can patriotism be determined anyway? Is patriotism simply agreeing unquestioningly with every action of one's government? Or might we define patriotism as having the courage to speak and act on those principles one thinks are best for the country, whether they are in accordance with the wishes of the government or not?

"It is everyone's duty to obey the laws of the land, but I think your definition of patriotism, Mr. Secretary, would preclude our listening to and reporting upon the opinions of those who believe your policies are inimical to the best interests of our nation. Perhaps these dissidents are the patriotic ones. At least the have the right to believe that their love of country is as sincere as yours, and that they have a right under our Constitution to speak their beliefs. And it is no breach of patriotism when we report on their behalf of a historic dialogue."

I thought Mr. Cronkite's book was very interesting, well-written, and a lot more amusing than I'd expected. His stories of his early years in journalism are particularly enjoyable. If you like biographical books, I thoroughly recommend this one.

In other news, This coming Monday, Labor Day, beginning with the opening ceremony at noon, the Re-invest in America rally will be held on Kanawha Boulevard near the Levee in Charleston, WV. The music will include a Gospel Celebration at 12:30 pm, The Bob Thompson Unit at 1:45 pm, The Carpenter Ants with Larry Groce and Don Dixon at 2:30 pm, Nancy Griffith at 3:45 pm, The Indigo Girls at 4:45 pm, Asleep at the Wheel at 6:00 pm, Judy Collins at 7:30 pm, and Willie Nelson at 9:00 pm. National labor leaders will speak at 7:00 pm and the Rev. Jesse Jackson and UMW President Cecil Roberts will have their say at 8:00 pm. The speakers and entertainment will be followed by fireworks at 10:30 pm.

We get to have fireworks two days in a row! Sunday is the traditional symphony performance and fireworks display to conclude the Charleston Sternwheel Regatta. Friday night at the Regatta will be good, too, as far as entertainment -- 8 Days Gone, Shine Down, and Collective Soul. There are free concerts, too, tomorrow night and Saturday, but nothing quite as notable as Friday night at the Regatta and the Labor Day bash. Liz Nichols will perform on Saturday night with her band and again with the West Virginia Symphony on Sunday.

It looks like I'm still running off at the mouth (fingertips?). I had not planned such an extensive entry here, but I never really plan much of anything here; I just let it happen.

The month of August was a record-breaker for this site. There were nearly 27,000 hits (26,935) from viewers in 49 countries, including another set of islands I'd never heard of -- Cocos (Keeling) Islands. This surpasses last month's previous record of 23,937 hits. It is still quite amazing to me that so many people from so many places in the world every month read what I write and look at the other materials I provide here. Even more amazing is that I rarely get any feedback from anyone (see my guestbook), and when I do it's usually someone I know personally. I just don't get it. Maybe I should adopt a motto for my web endeavors -- The Whole World is Lurking.

(2:14 pm)

I've been trying to re-work my front page into something roughly XHTML compliant. No such luck. If I squeeze it into that mold, a bunch of things break, like the arrangement on the page of the main links. The way browsers interpret concatenated <p> tags with and without closing tags is subtly different. The original code I obtained to base my design on from the W3C left off the ending tags and it worked fine. To comply with the XHTML standard the </p> tags are required. When I put them on, the placement on the page became skewed and not all the links worked. I have got the page as close to XHTML 1.0 as I can without breaking multiple things that work just fine as written.


Thursday, September 2, 2004
(4:07 pm)

I just got back from Columbus, Ohio a short while ago. It was just a trip up and straight back. I picked up a car at the Ohio Automobile Auction outside of Columbus as a favor for a friend. I enjoyed the trip. It's not every day you can be in two state capitals. It's not every day you'd want to be.

Quote of the Day: "Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea." -- Robert A. Heinlein

The Regatta starts tonight. My daughter just called to see if her brother wanted to go down to the levee for the music with her tonight. He has to work. Tomorrow night is the big show. I'd like to see it but I have no intention of contending with a crowd of over 100,000 people, half of whose eyeballs are floating in beer.

I'd love to see the Labor Day festivities and the West Virginia Symphony and fireworks on Sunday night, but I can't walk very far without a great deal of pain and discomfort, and there's no place to park that's close, so I'll miss it again this year. We used to go every year for the Fourth of July and Regatta fireworks, but since I broke my leg, it's just too difficult.


Friday, September 3, 2004
(9:42 am)

I got this in my e-mail this morning (thanks, Em):
As an American, you have an obligation to support your presidential candidate (Bush or Kerry). So, every day until Election Day, when you drive, show who you will vote for:
If you support John Kerry, please drive with your headlights on during the day.
If you support George W. Bush, please drive with your headlights off at night.

Quote of the Day: "A day, an hour, of virtuous liberty is worth a whole eternity in bondage." -- Joseph Addison

I can see the slow inexorable turn of the tide in Bush's favor. I feel like wailing, ripping my clothes and beating my breast. Ralph Nader made it on the ballot in this state. Remember folks, a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush. Kerry's campaign seems to be imploding. He's a virtuous man and probably a capable leader, but people want decisive, unwavering, and non-intellectual. People don't trust intellectuals. People mostly don't understand vascillation in service to reason. People admire the ability to make even horrifically erroneous decisions quickly. People get what they deserve. But what about me and the rest of the people who comprise about half of this country? What do we get? We get the shaft, people! Thomas Jefferson warned us -- in order for a democracy to work the people must be educated. That's educated, not indoctrinated by Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and the bullies of the GOP.

I want to know what's really going on with the protests in New York. I want to know how to get the hell out of Dodge should the worst come to pass in November.


Saturday, September 4, 2004
(1:27 pm)

Today is the beginning of Mountaineer Football season. The game with East Carolina kicks off at 6:00 pm today. It won't be on television. Can you picture that? The pre-season number 10 team in the country and their initial game is not on TV? I don't get it. I don't understand especially in light of the fact that ESPN's Lee Corso has picked WVU to eventually play in the BCS National title game at the conclusion of the season. That may be a bit far-fetched, but still shouldn't the entire top 10 rate a TV appearance on week one of the season? Go Mountaineers!

Quote of the Day:
"As I was going up the stair
I met a man who wasn't there
He wasn't there again today
I wish, I wish he'd stay away."
--Hughes Mearns, The "Psychoed"

A long-distance friend and fellow artist told me of an interesting site today: -- it's a place where you can dispose of things you no longer want and find things you might want that others have no more use for -- a living tribute to "One person's trash is another's treasure."

Zell Miller introduced Bill Clinton at the Democratic Convention, praised him lavishly. Now, Zell Miller, still a democrat (DINO -- Democrat In Name Only) gave the keynote sermon, er, I mean, tirade, uh, speech, yeah that's it, at the Republican Convention, ripping John Kerry to shreds and exalted George W. (W is for wanker) Bush. People don't get it. "Why," they say, "would he praise and support Clinton, then turn around and support Bush. I don't get it." People. You're not paying attention. Zell Miller is a rabid conservative from Georgia. He switched from supporting the democratic candidate because John Kerry is not a Southerner. I really believe it's that simple. I listened to Miller's appearance on Chris Matthew's Hardball on MSNBC. If I had a dog that acted like that, I'd have him put down, 'cause I'd be assured he had rabies.

(9:10 pm)

Well, I guess all the whining and wailing about the team not being any good, even though they were ranked 10th in the country was Rich Rodrigez's joke on us. Right now the Mountaineers are ahead of East Carolina by 40 points. K. J. Harris broke a rushing record that had stood for 33 years. It's also a single game Big East rushing record.

And the game next week isn't on television either. Can you believe it?

Bonus Quote of the Day: "Though her mien carries much more invitation than command, to behold her is an immediate check to loose behaviour; to love her was a liberal education." -- Sir Richard Steele

(9:49 pm)

Okay, the final score is 56-23. I suppose that will keep WVU solidly in the top 10 nationally. Fantastic!


Sunday, September 5, 2004
(3:15 pm)

I think K.J. Harris broke every rushing record in the books for West Virginia and the most yards gained in a game Big East Record. And he didn't even start!!!

I've talked to most of my friends in Florida now. Everyone is safe and sound and their property intact. Still they're worried about Ivan, coming on strong for next weekend. West Virginia may have to postpone or relocate next Saturday's game with Central Florida. Florida, Florida State, and Miami didn't play this weekend because of Frances.

I'm of the opinion that anyone living in Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, or Nebraska who lives in a mobile home is a total idiot.

Quote of the Day: "It is in changing that things find purpose." -- Heraclitus

My energy went somewhere. Yesterday I was feeling charged up and ready to go. Today I'm down again, but not quite the same way. Something has changed and I feel I'm better off for it, but I need a little more of a continuing charge to get me to the place where it's self-sustaining, and the power got cut off. I need to get out of town again, and I was only out of town three days ago.


Monday, September 6, 2004
(9:41 am)

Happy Labor day everyone! For those in other countries, Labor Day in the United States (État Unis) is a holiday that celebrates the labor component of our economy, as opposed to the other 364 days (365 in leap years) of the year that celebrate Capital. Labor Day's origins are obscured by the fog of time. The U. S. Department of Labor has a site on the Internet with the History of Labor Day.

Quote of the Day: "Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could not have existed had not labor first existed. Labor is superior to capital and deserves the much higher consideration." -- Abraham Lincoln

I guess Republicans were different back then. Teddy Roosevelt was a Republican, too. He was most likely the first environmentalist. Today Republican's exalt capital over all else, and think that the providers of it should reap reward vastly higher than those who labor. Today Republicans think that environmenalists are "domestic terrorists." With the advent of efficient mass communication and the more liberal and moderate members of society trusting in the eventual goodwill of the American public, we've allowed ourselves to be hijacked by a radical right-wing agenda.

There are parallels to be drawn here between the United States in the late 70's and Germany in the early 30's when Hitler came to power. In 1932 inflation was rampant, there were shortages of vital commodities. People were fed up with the Weimar government, well-meaning, but timid and inept. This allowed Hitler to step into the leadership void and inexorably over the next few years, sink his tentacles into the heart of power so deeply that only a World War could extract them.

In 1980 in the United States, inflation was running high, there were gas shortages with long lines at the pump and even-odd day rationing. The people were weary of affable, but ineffective Jimmy Carter. They elected Ronald Reagan. Thus began the "Conservative Revolution," culminating with the oppressive fascist regime of G. W. Bush.

I look at the map of the states solidly in one camp or another or leaning one way or another or up for grabs in the coming (s)election and I really wonder how so much of this country can embrace the ideals of the NeoConservative elitist hard-liners. I'm not sure they do. I think they've bought the package, not the rotting meat in its center. They latch onto one or two "sin-based" planks in the Republican platform and swallow the thing whole without looking to see or understanding what else they are endorsing. People listen to venomous, opportunistic, irrational tirades on the EIB radio network and because the arguments and opinions are simple and easy to follow, decisive, and distilled to an "Us vs. Them" situation, they nod their heads and say, "Ditto," and vote their gut instead of their mind or conscience. There's too much red on the map. It needs to change. I don't know how to do it now that the media is all owned by corporate interests, and as Mussolini said, "Fascism is corporatism." Eisenhower warned us against the Military-Industrial complex. Another Republican who would be consigned to the silenced fringes of today's GOP. Little good the warning did.


Tuesday, September 7, 2004
(11:38 am)

Frances is coming! Frances is coming! Looking at the regional radar, the edge of the system that was Frances is slowy moving into this area. It's been overcast all morning. Looks like we're in for nasty weather.

Quote of the Day: "The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't." -- Douglas Adams

I completely missed out on the rally at the Levee yesterday. From what they said in the paper, I'm not sure if John Kerry stopped by or not. I know he spoke to a gathering in Racine, but if he made it to Charleston I have no real idea. I'm fairly sure that the other "rumored" participants didn't make it (i.e., Michael Moore and Bill Maher). Danny Glover and Jesse Jackson were here along with the entertainers and labor union figures. I hope they made some new converts to the cause of real democracy, but I suspect they were preaching to the choir.

Here's something I did six years ago, and somehow never saw fit to put it up on any of my web pages. It's a seriously altered photograph from a porn spam:

If you look real close. . .
"Plastic, Fantastic"

(8:11 pm)

There's a thing I've been doing for several years now. I've put some of the ones done on the computer up here from time to time. Today I did one in a sketch book. I scanned it in and I'm trying to figure out the best way to present it. To really appreciate it, you should view it full size. Here's a 600 pixel wide thumbnail:

Putting Dali in reverse
"Paranoiac Critical Method #81"

Here's a link to a full-size image. I'd advise downloading this by right clicking and choosing "Save target as" because the image file is nearly half a megabyte in size.

This is a detail out of the full-size image:

Big but not bulky

These two are the full image at two different reductions:


Look at it from different angles, distances. The texture changes with each change in viewpoint. I'm not sure what the point in this kind of drawing (in this case, in pigmented ink), but I am fascinated to watch the texture emerge from a quasi-random piling on of curvalinear marks.


Wednesday, September 8, 2004
(11:05 am)

The colors in yesterday's posting aren't quite right. I don't know what it is about that kind of ink drawing, but it always comes out duller looking than it actually is, and all my efforts to tweak it up seem to be to no avail.

Quote of the Day: "Neither charm nor patience nor endurance has ever wrested power from those who hold it." -- Frederick Douglass

We have mice. Time to fire the cat. Glue traps are in order.

All this rain has me achy and feeling low. I've been in a pretty good mood, other than the pain I have with every step I take, for the past several days. I've actually been sketching again. Nothing noteworthy, but output nonetheless.

Vote for Kerry!!!

Thursday, September 9, 2004
(9:55 am)

New slogan for a Bush-Cheney bumpersticker: "We've got your goat! And we ain't givin' it back."

Quote of the Day: "The greatest danger before you is this: You live in an age when people would package and standardize your life for you -- steal it from you and sell it back to you at a price. That price is very high." -- Granny D., activist, The Progressive Populist (June 15, 2001)

Think of things like the new disposable toilet brushes, Crock-Pot helper, pre-packaged salad, all the so-called "convenience" items. So much is being taken from us and sold back as time-savers. What they are doing is depriving the next generation of skills that previous generations took for granted; removing activities from daily life that our forbears accepted as a matter of course. How many of you have ever canned your own food? Cleaned a fish? Butchered an animal? Planted a garden that would actually sustain your needs? Made your own clothing? Built anything? Emerson preached self-reliance. Today, we don't have time for that. Our dependence on others has been extended to the point that if China would disappear tomorrow, we be left in such a lurch as to everyday necessities that there would be rioting in the street. And the cause of all this? Pre-packaged, pre-formed, pre-washed, pre-shrunk, pre-pre-pre whatever. Do yourself a favor. Learn to do something difficult for yourself. Not only is it rewarding, but with the corporate evil sweeping the world, you never know when you might need that additional skill.

I'm a bit on the groggy side this morning. Yesterday, with the dampness, my leg was hurting a lot. I took a couple Norco early in the day, and a couple more around seven last night. I also had two large glasses of Reunite Lambrusco. I know, I know -- they say don't take narcotics and drink at the same time. Well, I'm not going to either take enough hydrocodone or drink enough alcohol to do any damage, other than being grog the next morning.

One Norco is the equivalent of two Vicodin, but with only 325 mg. of Acetominophen instead of the 1000 mg. you'd get with the two Vicodin. My doctor prescribed those for me instead of the Lortab generics I'd been taking because I do occasionally have to take two of them to get the relief I desire, and the lower dose of acetominophen is easier on my liver. Isn't it odd that the powers-that-be would rather take a chance on someone destroying their liver with acetominophen than to risk them maybe taking three or four of the hydrocodone and getting a buzz, or even getting addicted. Last I checked, you could get treatment for addiction, but a ruined liver is pretty much a death sentence. Ah, our priorities in this country! Gotta love 'em.


Friday, September 10, 2004
(1:59 pm)

MSNBC had a couple of articles over the past few days about ADHD in both children and in adults. Some are speculating that television may have something to do with it. Duh! With the current MTV, slash/cut/zip style of editing everything from sitcoms to the news, with Max Headroom prophesied "zip verts" advertising spots of 10 to 15 seconds, with our political campaigns based around sound bites and photo ops, it's no wonder people can't pay attention, and with the fear and frustration spread by those who use such things to control the rabble, is it any wonder we can't sit still?

Quote of the Day: "All paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind." -- Aristotle (384 BCE - 322 BC)

I see a few campaign signs here and there, and bumperstickers on vehicles, but nothing like what the designation of West Virginia as a "battleground state" would make one surmise. You think maybe it's because neighbors don't want to piss off neighbors over something as contentious as this? There is a rift in this country as deep and wide as there was in the late 1850's. If we are to survive as a country, we will have to go back to the liberal roots on which the United States was founded. Yes I said liberal. This country was born as a response to a tyrannical conservative regime.

It's time we got away from letting one group of people pretend they're better than the rest of us because they've had their cronies in power long enough to amass great wealth, power, and influence. People, might does not make right. Might makes for oppression of the less mighty, and that my good friends is us. Unless you have a net worth over $10 Million, you're not one of the elite and you're not going to be. Inherited wealth is the basis for the current aristocracy in this country, and now they've eliminated the mechanism that prevents excessive passing of wealth from one generation to the next in the name of family farms and businesses. Well, folks, the Bush fortune is not a small business. Take a look: two presidents, two governors. Not to mention all the accumulated wealth from Prescott Bush and others in the family. They are a family of privilege, for whom the inheritance tax was intended, and now they, and their ilk in congress have eliminated it. We're in for a rough ride. Fasten your seat belts (if you can afford them).

(9:11 pm)

This one thing, from Molly Ivins, should convince anyone to vote for John Kerry. In a column talking about the people Bush has around him and the things they've done, she comes up with a few suggestions. This is one paragraph of that column:

"When the country endures a hideous terrorist attack, is it actually useful for the White House to oppose the commission assigned to find out how it happened? To first deny it adequate funding, then refuse to provide it with critical documents, then oppose an extension of its deadline, then refuse to allow the commission access to prisoners who played key roles in the attack, then try to stop Condoleezza Rice from testifying, then refuse to have the president testify under oath?"

Shouldn't that say it all? Isn't that enough to make anyone realize what a bunch of dastardly criminals these people are? Isn't that enough to make everyone want them out of power and possibly in prison for a very long time?


Saturday, September 11, 2004
(8:46 am)


Sunday, September 12, 2004
(4:21 pm)

Ann's upstairs cleaning and organizing the attic. I don't dare open the door! We went out shopping earlier, with the intent of getting mints and mums and visiting the new Chinese Place at Trace Fork. We got the mints, and a leaf blower to try to get the leaves out of the juniper bushes and off the sidewalk. Whatever idiot put the sidewalk in this place put landscaping boarders along the area between the steps that come down from the street and the steps that go up to the stoop. Makes a great little wading pond every time it rains, and makes it nearly impossible to sweep up the leaves and grass clippings that end up on the sidewalk. I don't understand the first thing about the way this whole place i s built. No, I take that back. The governing principles seem to be lazy, stupid, and cheap.

We ate at the new Chinese place -- China Gormet. It was really good. Great sushi bar with California rolls and sashimi, crab legs, frog legs, baked salmon, the usual Chinese fare, plus a Mongolian barbecue bar. Nice.

We didn't get the mums. We plan on going back Wednesday to do that. Everyone has tons of mums and they're all blooming like mad. Driving by Home Depot, Kroger, Wal-Mart, Lowes or the Garden shop is a delight -- all yellows and whites, purples and rusts.

Quote of the Day: "The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of childhood into maturity." -- Thomas Henry Huxley

September is hot so far, and considerable damp. My mom's family never used the -ly ending on adjectives and adverbs that contained the syllables -able- or -ible-. Things were "tolerable good" or "terrible mean." So, this month, things have been considerable damp.

The Elizabethan influences on Appalachian speech are quite strong. I grew up with a lot of archaic expressions, pronunciations, and syntax. One that stands out for me, for some reason, is that the people around where I lived pronounced "prescription" per-scrip-shun, not pre-scrip-shun. Why, I have no ideal (that's another one -- ideal for idea). Of course "creek" was crick and "get" came out git. To this day, despite all the speech training I've had and all the practice at doing things right, some of these old, ingrained speech patterns come out. Most notably, "Time for me to git."


Monday, September 13, 2004
(3:05 pm)

Wouldn't you think that Monday the 13th would be the unlucky one instead of Friday? I mean, think about it. What day of the week is already the worst? See!

Quote of the Day: "Some people think only intellect counts: knowing how to solve problems, knowing how to get by, knowing how to identify an advantage and seize it. But the functions of intellect are insufficient without courage, love, friendship, compassion and empathy." -- Dean Koontz

I bought a guitar Saturday. I was looking over the collection of vintage instruments this British fellow has for sale at the flea market. He has some nice ones, including several Gibson acoustic models, Taylors, Martins, Guilds, Takamines. There are several I wouldn't mind having at all, but for the price. Further down the aisle is this little hole in the wall run by a pair of religious nuts who play bluegrass music. They usually have a selection of Johnson guitars and other off-brand instruments starting at about a hundred dollars. Saturday they had a Lauren brand guitar sitting in a stand up near the front, priced at $69.00; not bad looking, but I mean for 70 bucks, how good could it be?

I slipped the restraint off of it and pulled the post-it note with the price off from under the strings. O.M.G. It sounded great. Nice throaty sound, clean, crisp trebles. And some amount of power. I looked it over. The action wasn't the best in the world, but it was very playable. It has an adustable truss rod in the neck. It has the new high-tech non-varnish finish first pioneered by Lys and Seagull. It played nice, sounded nice, had the features I'd expect only on a much more expensive guitar. The machine heads are open, but they work nicely and have large, easy to grip keys. It strings like a Martin, using the plastic pegs to hold the strings in place. Well, after about five minutes with the intstrument, out came my wallet. I got the guitar and a cheap gig bag for $79.00, including tax. The guitar included a hex wrench to adjust the neck too. I think I'll hold off on doing that until I get some good strings to put on it. These are okay, but they aren't top quality, so I'll probably swap them out at first opportunity.

So far I've been encouraged to learn two new songs with it. I wonder if my Ovation 12-string is jealous?


Tuesday, September 14, 2004
(12:52 pm)

It's a bright, sunny day. I'm bright and sunny myself. I'm wearing my Naples yellow tee-shirt. I really like my Naples yellow tee-shirt except for the fact it has no pocket. I never bought pocketless tee-shirts for years because I smoked cigarettes and needed a place to stash them on my body. I got used to having the pocket, so that even after I quit smoking, I still found uses for them. Now that I've bought several new tee-shirts without pockets, I miss them.

Grafitti of the Day: "Rehab is for quitters."

Where is my job writing things like this. I write here nearly every day. I make extensive comments on other people's blogs. I write lengthy e-mails to several friends. I write in paper journals occasionally. I write the equivalent of several books a year, yet nothing makes me any money, nor provides me with what I could call a vocation. I wonder what I could do to break that barrier?

I know my poetry isn't that good, or I would have probably pursued it more diligently, or at least the "educated" people who've read my poems tell me they aren't any good.


Wednesday, September 15, 2004
(10:25 am)

I wasn't going to make an entry here today, and then I saw this:

Quote of the Day: "Life is like a jar of jalapeños. What you do today may burn your ass tomorrow." -- Anonymous

Personally, I've always agreed with Forrest Gump's mom: Life is like a box of chocolates. (And here's where we diverge) If it's not all gooey in the middle, it's nuts.

The cable connection was out from last night until right before ten this morning. I have no idea what caused it, or if they got the problem fixed or just patched it up for the time being, only to have it come back and bite them (and us) later. That's the problem with corporate ownership of everything. Most times you can't talk to a human being anymore about the problems you're having; most of the techs don't have the information available to them to adequately do their jobs. Techs are usually just someone they've hired with little or no experience in the field before, but they have the proper credentials if not the experience and knowledge. You can never find out exactly what is wrong, and you get no follow-up information about anything. I kind of like to know why things happen. The tight-lipped corporate culture won't allow this. It's the mushroom syndrome -- keep 'em in the dark and feed 'em bullshit.

Well, I just tried to FTP this entry to my web page. The connection is down again. I guess I spoke too soon. Damn, this is irritating.

(11:05 am)

Since I wrote something here already, I might as well continue.

I've been collecting movies about artists for some time now. I think the first one I taped was "Pollack". I now have "Frida," "Surviving Picasso," "Vincent & Theo," "Paradise Found" (about Gauguin), "Basquiat," and probably a couple others I'm forgetting at the moment. Last night I watched "Vincent & Theo" again. Tim Burton's portrayal of the tortured artist was excellent. However, I've always thought the director was a little over the top with his editorializing about the cause(s) of van Gogh's mental aberrations. Of course, Robert Altman has always painted his strokes with a little too exaggerated flourish.

After "Vincent & Theo" went off, another film came on that I'd seen small bits of previously. I'd not watched it in toto because it's in French, with subtitles. This always confuses me unless I pay very close attention. My knowledge of spoken vernacular French is not good enough for me to ignore the subtitles, but it is good enough to see that the subtitles are sometime not so subtly different than the dialogue. In spite of this, I decided to watch it in its entirety. The film, "Camille Claudet." is about the title character, long-time lover of August Rodin, the major French sculptor. The part of Camille was played to absolute perfection by Isabelle Adjani. She is not well-known in this country, probably because she acts primarily in French language films. This is our loss. The woman is probably the greatest living actress. Not only is she visibly French from her tête to her toes, but she is stunningly beautiful. However by the end of the film she has transformed herself from a beautiful, passionate young artist to a paranoid caricature of her former self, more like Cha-U-Kao than La Goulue. While her acting (and Gerard Depardu's) was a little toward the melodramatic, I thought it emphasized exactly the right points about the character and the story. The story is an old one: a beautiful, capable woman driven to drink and insanity by a man, unable to provide her with the emotional support she needed. It is also an indictment of society's tendency at the time to lock up women who did not fit the stereotype of a happily married woman, content to be an ancillary to her man. Camille Claudet died after spending 30 years in an insane asylum. Her work is scarcely known, yet probably surpasses Rodin's in its intensity, honesty, and vision. To have lost her to an ill-conceived commitment by a possibly jealous sibling is unforgivable. Adjani's performance was stupefying. Her beauty is enchanting, but her ability as an actor is incredible. This film broke my heart. In Camille, Frida has a soulmate.


Thursday, September 16, 2004
(1:56 pm)

I've been thinking about Camille Claudet, Frida Kahlo, Vincent van Gogh, Jackson Pollack, and Paul Gaugin today. I've been thinking about their passions, their diseases, their injuries, their pain, their mental aberrations. Is it an absolute necessity for artists to be tortured souls, deficient in many other parts of their lives other than their talent and passion? I look deeper than that, though. I see Camille's problems arising from her independent spirit in a time and situation where her individuality and talent were not allowed by the societal standards of the time. I see a lot of van Gogh's problems coming from a strict religious upbringing and a nature too passionate and tender for him to survive. Other components of his madness may well have been an inherited schizophrenia or manic-depression, syphilis, and/or heavy metal poisoning. Gaugin had syphilis and parts of his mental problems were certainly due to that. Frida Kahlo was in pain most of her life from the bus accident she was in as a young woman. Diego Rivera's cavalier attitude toward their relationship didn't help either. Pollack was an alcoholic. I suspect Lee Krasner's attempts to make him fit a particular mold had some effect on him as well.

Artists have to have a sensitivity and openness to the world that is beyond the capability of most people in order to have the vision and the passion necessary to create as they do. The world, however, has little if any appreciation for this sensitivity and vulnerability. Society, loved ones, agents, clients all try to bend artists to fit their own idea of what they should be. This never works. It only intensifies the artist's angst.

Many artist suffer at least periods of deep depression. Some are depressed their whole lives. Nowadays it's standard policy to give depressed people Prozac, Effexor, or some other seratonin uptake inhibitor. Medical professional seem to think that a deficit or surplus of certain chemicals in the brain is the cause of depression. I think not. The chemical imbalance is the mechanism of depression, not the cause. In a lot of cases the cause is situational. Sure, in a very few people, the cause is merely the brain chemistry going haywire, but mostly, I suspect, the brain chemistry is merely adjusting to situations. Never give an artist Prozac.

Quote of the Day: "If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn't part of ourselves doesn't disturb us." -- Hermann Hesse (1877 - 1962)

Hesse is one of my favorite writers. I started reading him in the 70's when it was the trendy thing to read Steppenwolf because of the band by the same name. I eventually read all of his works that have been translated into English, and even read a small selection in the original German. His attitude and outlook are more oriental than German or Christian. I admired him for that and, because of my admiration of him, I embarked on a lifelong study of oriental religions and philosophy.


Friday, September 17, 2004
(12:24 pm)

Ivan is arrivin'. The rain and wind started last night just as Ivan was downgraded from a tropical storm to a tropical depression. I've been down for the past two days, no doubt due to the rain and damp. Rain always makes me ache anymore, in spite of my taking two Celebrex a day. I guess I could pop a Norco, but it wouldn't do much good, and I really don't like to drive after I've taken narcotics, and I do have a couple errands to run this afternoon.

Quote of the Day: "Everyone is a genius at least once a year; a real genius has his original ideas closer together." -- Georg Lichtenberg (1742-1799)

I get more discouraged and disheartened. Natalie Tennant got kicked out of George Washington High School's Young Democrats meeting, where she was speaking in her husband's stead. Her spouse, Erik Wells is running against incumbent Republican Shelly Moore Capito for the House of Representatives. The principal of the school, a Republican and staunch supporter of and campaign contributor to Ms. Capito had Ms. Tennant removed for talking to the Young Democrats about, of all things, her husband, a Democrat, and his campaign for Congress. ELITISM! ELITISM! ELITISM! One of the cornerstones of the Bush fascism.

I'm trying to not be depressed, disenchanted, disheartened, disillusioned, disgusted, and depraved, I really am. Wait, scratch that last one. It's only a hobby. . . really. It's really difficult in this social climate. I think I'd do a lot better in Europe. Unfortunately, since the advent of the European Union, I understand it's more difficult for someone from another "first world" nation to establish residency. Like everything else in this world now, it takes money. Money is something I do not have in abundance.

Here's a little something to help cheer me (and anyone reading this) up. Someone has taken the childhood party activity of making Balloon hats and turned it into an art project. It's light and whimsical and a lot of fun. My friend, Pat, who showed me this site queried, "How does someone get the idea, and the funding to do such a thing?" Cynically, I said, "An MFA, some really good pot, and a grant application." She said, sadly, that she thinks I nailed the combination required. See, with the skepticism, cynicism, and sense of hopelessness foisted upon us in this country, even something light-hearted turns toward the cynical. It's a shame. I wish I could escape it.


Saturday, September 18, 2004
(5:25 pm)

Well, West Virginia beat Maryland 19-16 in overtime a little while ago. That's the first time in four games that WVU has won against the Terps (did someone leave out the 'w'?). The game was ugly. Adam "Pac-Man" Jones had a great day. K. J. Harris was back and ran for 138 yards. If Coach Rodriquez can tighten the play and players up a little, the team will be awesome. Personally, I think the only possible impediments to an undefeated season and a shot at the national title are Virginia Tech and Pitt. We handily beat both of those teams last year. This year shouldn't be any different, but you never know. Good luck guys! Tighten up.

Quote of the Day: "But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown." -- Carl Sagan (1934 - 1996)

In addition to the Mountaineers beating Maryland, today has been a beautiful day. It's just now topping out at seventy degrees, sunny, light wind. Unfortunately this has been a bad day for me physically. I woke up with my ankle hurting badly. I held off until after two o'clock, but finally had to take a couple pain pills. Still they didn't eliminate even most of the pain. I wouldn't mind the pain so much if I just had something besides housework to take my mind off of it.

I got something interesting in a SPAM e-mail the other day:

Sleeping around is not unlike in a crackers or also cucumber it could fly up in the air and hit your nose. No one knows somewhere near a dirt or also bread. You could start on top of a map or just a hot pepper ah but thats silly.

Can't argue with that!


Monday, September 20, 2004
(12:24 pm)

It's always interesting to me to see "under the hood" of things. The Internet is no exception. There is a site that lets you take a look at the way things were. It's, or as they put it, The Wayback Machine. Let's go, Mr. Peabody!

It's interesting to see how web sites have evolved. The archive is neither complete nor totally accurate, but it is a resource that can prove both useful and interesting.

Quote of the Day: "I did not decide to become a painter, any more than I decided to breathe." -- George Braque

According to the polls, W has as much as a 12 point lead in some states. Women are going over to his side in increasing numbers. West Virginia is still a toss-up. I honestly do not understand how people can continue to support this man. His incursion into Iraq, while ignoring the situation at home and in Afghanistan, may well be the beginnings of the downfall of Western Civilization. The NeoCon outlook on things is destroying what was once a beautiful democratic system. I see more vile Republican attacks on decent office seekers. I see Republicans taking over the media, all the while crying publicly and loudly about the bias of the "liberal media". I see Republicans using technology to their advantage with no thought of fairness, equity, decency, or morality. They scream about morals and family values, while standing on their parents' and wives' oxygen hoses in the hospital. Only a conservative asshole would serve his wife with divorce papers while she was bedridden in the hospital with whether she might live or die still undetermined. Newt Gingrich did exactly this. Ronald Reagan was the modern day equivalent of Caligula. W must be Nero. Fiddle, W, Fiddle.


Tuesday, September 21, 2004
(11:27 pm)

George W. Bush has lost touch with reality completely. The man doesn't understand what an asshat he is. Never will.

Quote of the Day: "The people can always be brought to the bidding of their leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country." -- Hermann Goering, speaking during the Nuremberg war crimes trials.

Green Day is back. I saw them on Letterman last night, and man! are they politicized. Their new CD is American Idiot. Support your local seditionists.

My son and I have been playing a little acoustic music together. Once we get in sync and learn a few lyrics maybe we'll hit the open mic circuit.


Wednesday, September 22, 2004
(1:12 pm)

I get a number of things at our local flea market for considerably less than I can get them elsewhere. Two things I regularly purchase there are razor cartridges and ink cartridges for my printer. Normally the Gillette Mach 3 razor cartridges cost more than two dollars each in packs of four, slightly less in eight or 12 unit packages. At the flea market I can get the 12-pack for $10.00, less than half what I'd pay at the drug store or even Wal-Mart. Likewise with the printer cartridges -- at Staples the black cartridge is $29.45 and the color is $31.95 each, with a small discount for buying the 2-pack -- $56.09 for two black ($28.05 each, a savings of a buck forty), $59.15 for two color ($30.28 each, saving you a whopping $1.67). Now here's a funny part. Two cartridges, one each color and black runs $59.99, which is 84 cents more than two color which cost more than the black. Wouldn't you think it would be slightly less? Don't ask me. It's like Burger King where you can get a combo meal with a milkshake cheaper by buying à la carte than you can buying the combo and upgrading to the milkshake from the soft drink. But I digress from my digression. . .

The point that got lost in all that price comparison verbiage is that at the flea market I can get the black or the color Lexmark cartridges for $12 each, in single packs, duo packs or combination packs. That's way less than anywhere else. I've paid up to $36.00 for one of the color cartridges. Wouldn't you think that the economies of scale would have kicked in for these items? Anyway, the original thought behind all this is: "Where do the people at the flea market get these products (with expiry dates well into the future) at a price that they can sell them so much cheaper than they can at the retail stores?" I wonder how many of them originally "fell off a truck" somewhere in New Jersey?

Quote of the Day: "'Martyrdom' is the only way a person can become famous without ability" -- George Bernard Shaw

Obviously Professor Shaw never saw any of the current spate of reality television shows.


Thursday, September 23, 2004
(11:39 am)

In years past Charleston had a lot of nice music stores. Downtown on one street there were Galperin's, Guthrie & Beane, and Herbert music. I seem to recall others as well. On Summers Street, there was B&B Loans, which also sold new instruments and equipment. In Kanawha City there was Michaux Music and I think another store. In South Charleston the place to go was Gorby's. As the older owners died off, the sons took over the businesses. At Gorby's that wasn't a problem for a while. One of the sons took over and was doing a great job of running the business. Then he was killed in an airplane accident and since his death the store has steadily declined. Guthrie & Beane is no more; nor is Galperin's. Herbert Music has moved from two downtown locations to somewhere in the hinterlands and then back to a hole-in-the-wall in Kanawha City. There's inadequate parking and it's really hard to even spot driving by. Michaux went out years ago. B&B moved to a smaller space and now only deals in jewelry.

Some new stores have come into being to fill the void: Music Mania in the Kanawha Mall, House of Music in Spring Hill, and the Pied Piper up in strip mall city. None of these remaining and new stores carry much in the way of quality instruments. You see Les Paul copies all over, but no real Les Pauls. You see Fender Squier guitars, but very few of the standard line. I can't tell you the last time I saw a Marshall stack in a local music store. The stores used to be packed to the rafters with interesting things to look at, play with, and consider. Now the stores have really wide aisles and scant merchandise. Are there music stores out there that I'm not aware of where people are getting their Vox AC-15's and Hamer Standards? Or is everyone calling Musician's Friend to order their gear? Or are they driving to Columbus or Pittsburgh? Whatever the cause, the result is a lessening of Charleston.

Charleston has become less and less since I moved here. This leads me to belive it may be my fault. Am I running everyone out of town? Are they moving to Cross Lanes and Teays Valley to get away from me? Nah, I'm not really that paranoid. There is something going on, though. Ever since I can remember, there have been "Charleston haters", both in the city and outside it who have done everything they can to draw what they can away from the city. It's like they think the capital city is inherently evil and must be destroyed. Well, they seem to be doing a pretty good job of it. Then there are the Gentry and the developers doing their best to make Charleston over in their image. That has the net effect of decimating the population, reducing the available goods and services, and now even the artificially-created yuppie institutions like the Clay Center and the new, as-yet-not-completed ball park are having trouble securing the necessary funding to operate as they want them to. Cities are organic, vital places, not to be planned and gentrified to death. I've said this for years and no one listens. Well, folks, when Charleston, West Virginia, once headed toward 100,000 population falls below 50,000 in the next census and the federal funds dry up, what we will have is a nice State Capitol, a nice ballpark no one goes to, and the Clay Center, open on weekends. The symphony will disband, and even more people will move to Cross Lanes, or if they can't afford that, either Lincoln County or North Carolina. They're killing Charleston. Now even I am in the mood to leave.

Quote of the Day: "The art of Frida Kahlo is a ribbon around a bomb. " -- Andre Breton

I hadn't played my Hamer electric guitar since the first of May, before we moved. Sean was supposed to set up a music room in one of the basement rooms, but never quite "got around to it.". Turns out it was just as well. The mildew takes over almost everything down there. It's a monster. I don't know how to control it. The basement is so dank. We run the dehumidifer constantly and it still doesn't take enough mositure out of the air. We can't afford to purchase another, much less run it. I hate to think what this winter is going to be like here. I hate this house.


Friday, September 24, 2004
(11:11 am)

I went to sleep last night with poems and bits of fiction swirling in my head. Today I can recall none of it. I wanted to become a writer at one point in my life, but now it just seems tedious.

Quote of the Day: "Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe. " -- H. G. Wells (1866-1946)

I got to play my Hamer guitar a little bit yesterday. The action on the neck of that instrument is incredible. I've got it down now to where the first one I ever played was. The smoothness of it is why I wanted one in the first place. It's a beautiful thing. I usually stand near the computer and play along with MIDI files of songs I know. Well, the Altec-Lansing speakers I used to have died on me and I replaced them with the MLI ones that came with the computer. They've about had it, too. I need new speakers to play along with my MIDI files. That will have to wait. I can't afford lunch right now.

I saw a great looking (and sounding) pedal box on the Musician's Friend web site yesterday. It's the Korg ToneWorks AX10G Guitar Modeling Effects Processor. It sounds great. It has an expression pedal, which my Zoom 2020 pedal doesn't, and it has twice as many presets and user-definable patches. I bought my Zoom pedal in the early 90's and I've been relatively happy with it combined with my old Gallen-Kruger 2000cpl pre-amp. I'm seriously considering getting the ToneWorks pedal though. I really should update my rig. I was thinking of getting an A/B stomp switch and creating two separate circuits, one with the ToneWorks for my Hamer, and another with the Zoom for acoustic guitars. I'd also like to get a Fishman pickup for the new 6-string I bought, and some decent heads for it. I'd like to replace my old Peavey power amp and my speakers, too. I doubt very seriously if any of this will ever happen, unless of course I win the lottery or someone discovers my art work or music style and wants to pay me a lot of money to do one or the other or both. Hey, a fellow can still dream after he's over the hill, right? Right? RIGHT?


Saturday, September 25, 2004
(12:43 pm)

The Mountaineers play James Madison today at 4:00. It's not on television. . . again! What's up with that? WVU is the sixth-ranked team in the country and they aren't televising their games. One game out of the first four on TV and that's one most of the pundits expected them to lose. I suppose the Virginia Tech game next week will be on. They're expected to lose that one too.

Quote of the Day: "They are so damn 'intellectual' and rotten that I can't stand them anymore....I [would] rather sit on the floor in the market of Toluca and sell tortillas, than have anything to do with those 'artistic' bitches of Paris. " -- Frida Kahlo (1907 - 1954), on her contempt for André Breton and the European Surrealists in a letter to photographer Nickolas Muray (1892 - 1965), February 16, 1939.

I think the European surrealists probably deserved her contempt. I think for the most part they were arrogant assholes intent on creating a new "art" not accessible but to an elite cadre of snobs. They were attempting to elevate their own particular brand of psychotherapy-based creation to some new academic standard and install themselves as the sole arbiters of what is and is not art. Such attempts will almost always fail.

I have so little use for academicians, so how come so many of my friends have Ph.D.'s?

(7:12 pm)

My team won today! WVU 45 -- James Madison 10.


Monday, September 27, 2004
(3:15 pm)

The computer problems around here are getting worse. Now my computer just reboots whenever it feels like it without consulting me first. I see no pattern in it either. It's happened when I was recording music, writing with a word processor, viewing a powerpoint presentation, browsing online, and a time or two, just sitting here. Lovely.

Quote of the Day: "He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lampposts ... for support rather than illumination." -- Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

Any of my readers in European Countries care to sponsor my move to your city? I despair of getting rid of the fascists here.


Tuesday, September 28, 2004
(3:40 pm)

Okay, here's my nominee for the stupidest question of all time (coming from e-mails I get on a daily basis):
Are you tired of being broke?

I mean, really, how many ways are there to answer that question? There's "yes", and there's "I'm not broke." Wouldn't anything else be either facetious or psychotic? "No man, I enjoy being broke."

Quote of the Day: "The only kinds of fights worth fighting are those you are going to lose, because somebody has to fight them and lose and lose and lose until someday, somebody who believes as you do wins. In order for somebody to win an important major fight 100 years hence, a lot of other people have got to be willing -- for the sheer joy of it -- to go right ahead and fight, knowing you're going to lose. You mustn't feel like martyr. You've got to enjoy it!" -- I. F. Stone

Maybe this explains Ralph Nader.


Wednesday, September 29, 2004
(1:39 pm)

I really miss my graphics tablet. I'd buy a new one but hanging a bigger, better tablet on this computer seems a waste. I can't afford a new machine just yet. My PC has been acting very strange of late. Random reboots, total screw-ups. I keep losing things I've written. That doesn't bother me so much, as many times in both writing poetry and prose and writing computer code, I'll throw out what I initially write, leaving no remnant of it but in my mind, and rewrite it from scratch. Particularly with computer code, I often see a totally different and maybe better way of doing it. Same with the literary stuff.

Quote of the Day: "When you do nothing, you feel overwhelmed and powerless. But when you get involved, you feel the sense of hope and accomplishment that comes from knowing you are working to make things better. " -- Pauline R. Kezer

What a dreary day. "Dreary" -- what a great word. Ranks right up there with "awkward."


Thursday, September 30, 2004
(3:24 pm)

Michael Moore is coming! I'm so pleased. I really wish he'd made it for the Labor Day rally, but he'll be here and in Fairmont sometime in October. Fantastic! I can almost feel a slight stirring of hope in the air. Almost.

Quote of the Day: "You do not become a 'dissident' just because you decide one day to take up this most unusual career. You are thrown into it by your personal sense of responsibility, combined with a complex set of external circumstances. You are cast out of the existing structures and placed in a position of conflict with them. It begins as an attempt to do your work well, and ends with being branded an enemy of society. " -- Vaclav Havel, writer, visual and concrete poet, philosopher, politician

I'm holding my breath to see what the total number of hits on this web site this month will be. Already it's over the previous record. More than fifty countries heard from. Hey, I even got a couple comments during the month of September.

I'd hoped I'd be able to go to New Hampshire this year, but it doesn't look like that will happen now. I'll have to put it off at least until spring. Spring in New Hampshire -- that's July, right? What is it they say up there? We have four seasons, just like everyone else: almost winter, winter, still winter, and August.


Total Hits for September 2004: 30,084
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