February 28, 2003
Mother and daughter team up to mock illustration

My mother sent me this picture from an article in the San Bernardino Sun with the headline A Little Modesty, Please! ("Stylish, in -- skimpy, out: Mothers and daughters team up to advocate clothes that cover at a fashion show in March").

From her note: "Thought you might like this for your 'fridge just in case you or your friends are not sure how to dress if you want to be a BAD girl or a GOOD girl!!"

She's fabulous, my mother, and not just because she never made me attach a scarf to my prom dress.

February 27, 2003
Yes on I-831!

What is so wonderful about this is that it demonstrates exactly how stupid the initiative process has become. At least I-831 isnít regressive and short-sighted.

Iím also voting yes on I-832: Let it be resolved that the Washington State Legislature is full of gutless, ineffectual pansies who would rather let the state infrastructure rot away than risk not getting re-elected.

Early one morning Jane opened the gate and went out into the big, green meadow

I was walking home tonight after dropping my friend off at the bus stop, and I couldnít get a certain bouncy little tune out of my head. Just when I was getting irritated with my inability to place it, I looked up and saw a marquee advertising a matinee of Profkofievís Peter and the Wolf.

Ooh - eerie!

...except that I walked past the theatre this morning. I canít say I specifically noticed the marquee, but that sucker must have been simmering in my brain pan all day.

February 26, 2003
The Wheels on the Bus

The bus driver pulls up to a stop and opens the door. A voice outside says, "How are you doing?" to the driver, who answers, "All right, thanks."

The voice, and itís still just a voice because its owner hasnít stepped into the bus, says, "Whatís your ID number?" The driver rattles off a number, and the voice proceeds to tell the driver that he wasnít supposed to stop there, and didnít he check the re-route list? The driver says he did, but must have missed it. His tone is careful - he knows heís in trouble but there isnít much he can do about it, and is just trying to minimize this particular reaming.

The owner of the voice must have waved the driver on, because he closes the door and heads out. There is a tense and sympathetic silence among the passengers.

Iím wondering what itís like to be the guy whose job it is to stand at a temporarily defunct bus stop and bitch out any driver careless enough to stop, and how youíd fit that on a rťsumť.

February 25, 2003
Lemur Day

Jessica has a lemur purse. Itís a lemur, and itís a purse. Itís not a formerly living and breathing lemur, but a cunning representation of a lemur, with plastic orangey amber eyes and paws and a zipper down its back.

It is, like its owner, incredibly cool. In her honor, I declare this Lemur Day.

I plan to celebrate by spending time in trees, or at least furniture made out of trees, and opening my eyes really wide at strategic times throughout the day.

February 23, 2003
You Give Me Headache

10:30 a.m. on a Saturday is too damn early for Peggy Lee.

February 21, 2003
Confession / Hallelujah / Eternal Damnation / At Least Itís Warm Down Here

Iíve spent maybe two hours tops editing my novel since I finished the first draft on November 30th. Sure, I rewrote the first sentence (now itís "The hall sounds like an oddly festive field of battle, or an especially brutish party, depending on the time of day"), and I added a paragraph here and there, but mostly Iíve been avoiding the whole exercise.

Today I got an e-mail from the good folks at NaNoWriMo bringing this to my attention. It is ideal. I am saved.

And then I thought about the implications of relying on Internet-driven competitions to complete the difficult and/or unpleasant tasks we all put off. Whatís next? NaOiChaMo? NaPaSmeMo?

Okay, actually, that would probably work for me. Where do I register?

February 20, 2003
P'ces of Eight

Yarrr, lads - remember these and yer good tí go!

The Eight Ps of Piracy: Pillaging, Plunder, Plank, Pennant, Patch, Peg leg, Parrot, Pointy thing (a.k.a. "cutlass")

So Many Cs

The Four Cs of Diamonds: Cut, Clarity, Color, Carat

The Five Cs of Cinematography: Camera angles, Continuity, Cutting, Close-ups, Composition

The Six Cs of the Arizona Wing Civil Air Patrol: Calm Down, Climb, Communicate, Confess, Comply, Conserve

The Seven Cs of Bowling: Comfort, Concentration, Control, Consistency, Confidence, Communication

February 19, 2003
Performulator! Composerizer!

You should go play at the San Francisco Symphony Kid's Site.

February 18, 2003
But What Did You Really Think?

I thought I might actually write a review of the aforementioned Daredevil, but it troubled me, because if I was too lazy to write a review of Solaris (which Iíd mentioned months before it came out and was so frothy over), why would I bother to write a review of something as disposable as Daredevil?

Finally I figured out it was because I wanted an excuse to refer to Ben Affleck as The íFleck.

Speaking of flecks, here is something unsettling involving a crab.

February 14, 2003
Okay, Not So Much a Bath as a Sensory Deprivation Chamber

Eric and I have just seen Daredevil.

E: Makes me want to throw things at people.
Me: Makes me want to take painkillers and soak in a bath.
E (in patented Eric Brandô Accusing Tone): Thatís no different from normal!

Heís a kidder, that Eric.

February 13, 2003
Only 315 Shopping Days Left

That Christmas song about Snoopy and the Red Baron was playing at the little convenience-store-type-place in my office building.

Could someone please explain why, because really, you know, itís February.

February 11, 2003
Thistle Crisis

Today I am interested in tumbleweeds.

February 10, 2003
Seven Pounds of Frozen Fruit

Itís Saturday. Iím in line at the grocery store. The top of my basket is covered with bags of frozen fruit, mostly strawberries. The woman in front of me is looking cheerfully at my basket, and at me. I smile back, because Iím not feeling as hey-lady-mind-yer-own-business as usual. Which means conversation is just seconds away. Three...two...one...

HER: You must be making pie!
ME: Uh, no. Nothing that wholesome.

I donít know what makes me tell the truth to total strangers. I could have said, "Yes, pie! Iím making pie." That would have been easiest. Or I could have recovered after the initial, "Uh, no" by quickly claiming the intention to make tarts. I could have been making tarts for an imaginary tart-loviní boyfriend called Sven. "Sven canít get enough of my tarts," I could have said, "and you know Valentineís Day is just around the corner!" But do I? No. I reflexively tell just enough truth to get her interested.

Okay, not so much interested as worried. She looks downright concerned for the strawberries, as if they must be destined for use in something truly unseemly. Clearly by "nothing that wholesome" I am referring to an underground fruit-intensive sex ritual.

Maybe itís not too late to say "Valentineís Day is just around the corner!" after all. But Iím not in the mood to be that wicked, so instead I confess.

ME: Daiquiris. Iím making daiquiris. For a party.
HER: Oh.

She is disappointed. She was obviously expecting something more depraved. I briefly consider adding, "Iím sorry, did I say Ďpartyí? I meant Ďorgyí. Iím making daiquiris for an orgy. Thirsty work, orgies, and strawberry daiquiris are so refreshing, donít you think?", but by now she is having cheerful conversation with the checker, who is much better at it than I am.

February 05, 2003
Itís the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I was not exposed to Les Schwab Tire Centers and their annual Free Beef promotion until I moved to Eugene, Oregon, and then I was exposed a lot. TV, radio, print Ė weíre talking total market saturation here, people.

Itís that time of the year again ("February Is Free Beef Time!"), and I like to celebrate the season by taking a moment to think about the bike shop in Eugene that ran Free Tofu ads. They were funny.

I wish they had a website.

February 04, 2003
I Wouldnít Call It *Obsessing*

Today I am still thinking about this unreliable memory thing.

February 03, 2003
Unpacking Reality

First, a warning in the form of a spoiler: my favorite part of Mulholland Drive is the sequence in Club Silencio. The emcee tells the audience (in the film and of the film), "No hay banda" - there is no band. Then Rebekah Del Rio comes out and sings a capella and in Spanish Roy Orbison's "Crying". Itís beautiful. Itís heart-breaking. Itís completely absorbing. The movieís lead characters, sitting in the audience, cry. I cried, too.

And then Del Rio suddenly collapses, but the recorded music goes on. Itís not real. There is no band. We were warned.

Hereís what I wrote on Saturday afternoon:

On January 28, 1986, I was in a fourth grade classroom.

When I was in fourth grade, if youíd asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up, I would have said, "Go to Cal Tech and work at JPL." I would have given the same answer up through the first semester of eleventh grade, when I discovered that trigonometry and I donít get along.

But in fourth grade, I didnít know that one day even the word "cosine" would give me a headache. I did know that the Voyager space probes had just sent back pictures of Saturn, and they were beautiful, like the stars over our desert suburb. I knew the names of the stars, mostly Arabic-based, and the names of the constellations, with their Greek or Latin.

Columbiaís first landing, the first landing of any space shuttle mission, happened not far from my familyís house, at Edwards Air Force Base, in 1981. I wasnít there, but my brother was, and he came home with a bright green bumper sticker with a line drawing of Columbia and the words I SAW IT LAND! He stuck it to the door to his bedroom, where I saw it nearly every day for ten years. Itís still there. I see it when I go home for Christmas.

On January 28, 1986, when I was in a fourth grade classroom, the school secretary came in and spoke softly to our teacher, who then spoke softly to us. We had a TV in the classroom, and I remember Mrs. Hurd struggling to switch to a broadcast instead of the bulky new VCR, and then trying to get the clearest station. She found one, and we sat in silence as we watched Challenger explode, again and again and again.

Years ago, well before September 11, 2001, I was at party where someone was talking about how nearly everyone of his generation knew exactly where they were when they found out John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and said that he didnít think there was an equivalent for my generation. Three of us looked at each other and said, "Challenger."

Today I woke up late, went into the kitchen to make coffee, and turned on the radio. I didnít hear what I expected - instead, I heard an interview with someone at NASA. The speaker was asking about the culture among the scientists there, whether they still felt or openly expressed the excitement about and fascination with space that brought them to this career, excitement and fascination that usually went back to childhood.

My first thought was that is must be a holiday - the last time I heard programming pre-empted this way was on a holiday. Then the next interview started, and I understood what had happened.

As soon as I re-read what Iíd written, I realized something was wrong. It didnít take much math (arithmetic, not trig) to recognize that I wasnít in fourth grade in 1986 - I was in ninth grade.

No hay banda.

Still, I couldnít shake the vividness of the memory, but I also couldnít make it fit together. Voyager really was sending back pictures of Saturn when I was in fourth grade, but that was 1980-1981.

It was both disappointing and a relief to realize I must have been thinking of how I found out about the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan in 1981, the year Columbia flew its first mission.

I may have been wrong about where I first heard about Challenger - with the interference of the other memory cleared up, I'm reasonably sure it was when I came home from school that afternoon - but I do remember the footage of the explosion, and its relentless repetition.

Generally Iím not someone who participates in displays of mourning about events in the news. Iíd kicked around the idea of starting a weblog the summer of 2001, but I put it off because after 9/11 I knew there would be only one thing to write about. I didnít think I had anything to say that hadnít already been said; I didn't think I felt anything that wasn't already a part of everyone.

So I'm a little surprised that I feel compelled to write about Columbia, to confess that on Saturday I found myself crying in my kitchen when I heard the news, and crying as I wrote about a memory that turned out to be less grounded than I'd imagined.