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April 1st, 2015
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September 18th, 2009
March 12th, 2009
February 21st, 2009
January 10th, 2009
"Write about a wound":
Writer's Book of Days
January 10th, 2009 "Write about a wound"
The first thing that comes to mind is usually the worst one, but that's no fun to talk about. Broken hearts are not pleasant at all. But I've had plenty more wounds in my life so there should be no shortage of material for this topic.
One of the earliest serious wounds I can remember happened at Kadoka Lake near Kadoka, South Dakota. Throughout my entire childhood it was family tradition for us to travel out to my father's hometown to visit my grandparents & other family during the two weeks his factory was shutdown every summer. It's a 700 mile drive & we often made the trip out there in one day. It takes something like 12 hours & if you are a pre-adolescent back in the days before the Game Boy was invented, who was also too impatient to read for long periods of time it was the longest trip in the world. Sure, there's the beautiful countryside in north-central Wisconsin & parts of Minnesota but once you get into the plains there is nothing of interest out the window for hundreds of miles except for the advertisements for roadside attractions. It's about here that you can begin counting Wall-Drug billboards
I think these early trips out west seeded in me the animosity I still hold toward flat, featureless countryside & dry, arid climates. South Dakota in the peak of summer is not fun. It seemed like it never rained, all the grass & the grains in the fields were yellow & there were never enough clouds to shield your eyes from the blinding, bright summer sun. (It was a shock to travel out during the spring one year for my Grandmother's birthday & see everything lush & green.) Some of the stores along the town's 3-block main street had air conditioning but you can only hang out in there for so long when you're a kid with little-to-no money on you. There's not much you can do in a town of 800 people.
Like I said, Dad grew up there. Until he was five he lived out on a ranch with his parents & little brother until arthritis forced Grandpa to sell everything & move into town. From there Dad stayed until he was a teenager where he joined the Army to travel Europe. So as boring a town as it was he had been there long enough to find out all the neat places to go & fun things for a kid to do & thusly shared them with me, as well as my cousin who was about the same age & always came to Grandpa & Grandma's when we were out there.
Swimming is fun when you're a kid. I'm kind of indifferent to it now but back then I loved it. I'd use the high school pool in the summer time or go down to the mud hole at Mandt Park. There weren't as many opportunities in Kadoka. I remember at one point we started going to a pool at a hotel that had one & would let non-customers swim for a fee. In later years they built a municipal swimming pool but that never seemed to be able to stay open on a consistent basis. It may not even be in operation any more.
I don't even remember how far it was from town but there was also Kadoka Lake. (Not to be confused with "Turd Lake" which was on the opposite end of town out in the country & had an entirely different function.) If it weren't after two in the morning I might get a hold of my dad & find out what it's actual purpose was but to kids like me & my cousin it was just a body of water to play in on a hot summer day. Dad took us out there one such hot summer day & we had some fun splashing around in the shallow area near shore. I don't think any of us was comfortable going out too far because we didn't know what the condition of the bottom was like & the water was all murky. I wouldn't set one foot in it now but I was a kid & didn't care. I had fun going out & submerging myself, then slowly rising out of the water & stomping toward shore like Godzilla on a bad day heading toward Tokyo. RAAAARRRR!!!!! RAAAARR ROOOOARRR!!!!!! And then I'd splash whoever was nearest just before I stepped out of the water. It was good fun.
It was on one of these monstrous appearances where I took a step & suddenly felt a sharp pain in my right leg. At first I thought something bit me because every kid knows about snapping turtles & that all snapping turtles could bite off your finger just like that. It's why you have to be really careful about swimming in rivers & ponds & places like that. Well, I dropped the theatrics & hurried out of the water. My howling & hollering -- as opposed to my roaring -- had attracted the attention of my father who rushed over to see what was the matter. I was standing there bawling, soaking wet & trying to limp to someplace that wouldn't hurt. I was able to convey to him that I was hurt, somewhere on the leg. I then looked down to indicate the gash & watched in horror as a squirt of blood literally arced out of my leg & onto the ground.
I panicked. Through kids' eyes that looked like a full pint of blood shooting out of an opened artery. Fortunately my father was on it in an instant & had rolled & tied his handkerchief around my calf in a quick, makeshift bandage. The blood slowed & I was quickly driven back to town, whimpering & sopping wet.
I don't remember seeing a doctor. I know one was called but I think he was unavailable for one reason or another. The small town doesn't have an actual hospital, but there are supposed to be people available for emergencies. It's another detail I'll have to ask my parents about. I do remember being uncomfortable & scared about the whole ordeal mostly because I didn't get to see an actual doctor.
So my parents were able to stop the bleeding & put some proper bandages on my leg. It wasn't as bad as we had feared & I healed up just fine. I had a scar there for many years but as I search my leg all over for it tonite & can't find it any more. It may have moved as I grew, healed over completely or is just hidden by leg hair. Or it could be one of any number of nicks, scratches or blemishes I currently have. It's hard to say. All I have left is the memory, & an unsettling aversion to swimming in any sort of natural body of water.
What bothers me the most about the whole incident is that we never found out what it was that poked the hole in me. I thought it was a bite but it just looked like a half-inch vertical cut. I never did find out if there were turtles of any sort out there. Dad suggested it was broken glass, dislodged from the bottom by the stomping around but nobody else received any cuts or scrapes while out there. It could have been a piece of metal from something discarded out there but I probably would have tripped on the rest of it. As it is I don't believe we ever went back to Kadoka Lake. Not to swim anyway. And I, for one, don't miss it one bit.
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January 6th, 2009
I'll try this again for 2009:
Writer's Book of days
Jan 6th 2009 "Write about Bathing"
I can't remember the last time I took a bath. This isn't to say that I don't bathe - I shower daily - I just don't remember the last time I filled the tub with hot, sudsy water, sank back & had a proper rubber ducky, soap-in-the-toes, shampoo-horn bath.
They're too small. Not the baths, but the tubs themselves. Imagine your standard bathtub. Now remember how tall I am. If I sit in a bath only my legs get wet. My hips are at one end & my feet are pressed up against the other. Sure, I can bend my knees & sink down to my neck in the water but that still leaves most of my legs exposed to the cold, cold air. Bathtubs just aren't suited to my stature.
Even if I did have a tub of proper size I probably wouldn't take as many baths. They take up quite a bit of water & that's one thing I don't like to waste. Each month my water bill shows an average of how many gallons per day I've used. I've taken it upon myself to keep that number as low as possible. I've had it down to 27-28 before but usually I'm just over thirty. Compare that to the 80-100 gallons per person per day as estimated by the US Geological Survey's Water Science website. It's easy enough if you make sure you don't have leaky fixtures & keep your showers short. In fact, sometimes I have the water on only long enough to get wet. Then I turn it off & suds up with the soap & turn it on just long enough to rinse off again. Yes, it's just that easy.
Of course, this is going to change somewhat in the near future. My new place has a deck out behind the house with a weird "L" shaped cut into one of the corners. This "L" shape was designed specifically to enclose a hot tub. The previous owners had one & the pipes & connections necessary are already there. So once I've moved in & settled down I will set a task to fill that gap once again for some hot times in a new tub. Now, it may seem hypocritical to want a hot tub after all this talk about water conservation. But once it's filled you can leave the water in there for 3-4 months before refilling, & that's if it gets heavy usage. So I think I'll be in pretty good shape. Especially when I'm already using 70 gallons per day less than the average schmo-on-the-street.
Bathing: Done daily; done well.
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Current Location: Michelangelo's Coffee house
Current Mood: calm
December 15th, 2008
Honestly, who throws his shoe??:
I don't know which is funnier. The fact that an Iraqui journalist recently threw his shoes at George Bush or the fact that there is already a commemorative flash game immortalizing the event.
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December 9th, 2008
November 14th, 2008
November 3rd, 2008
Dead Last - Red River:
I've been talking about the band Dead Last for a while now. They've been through some setbacks but they've still been working hard to release a new song before the election. The time is now. You can watch & listen below. Enjoy.
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Tags: dead last, music
Current Music: Red River ~ Dead Last
October 13th, 2008
City of Ember:
I just got back from a showing of the City of Ember at Eastgate. The story had intrigued me ever since I saw the first teaser some months ago & last month just before I left for Portland I bought a book called The Books of Ember, compiling the first three novels into one cover. I read the first couple hundred pages yesterday & had hoped to complete it before seeing the movie but I was just too anxious. I made it to the last 30 pages of the first book before the lights dimmed in the theater.
Overall it's a decent movie. The sets were believable & the acting was fine enough. Unfortunately the film seems to be impatient with itself & continually rushes from scene to scene, either trying to keep a quick pace or cram as much story into 90 minutes as possible. I might feel a bit differently if I hadn't read most of the book just yesterday but I have a feeling that if I hadn't I might have enjoyed it a little less as the general world setting & character motivations are not as clear.
I'm really enjoying the books. The setting fascinates me & more than anything I am curious about how their world became the way it is. Stories that are post-dramatic-event-in-world-history don't always reveal what the great change was but after City of Ember there are at least three more books in which to piece together the history, if any. I'm looking forward to them.
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Current Music: Dweezil Zappa
October 12th, 2008
War of the Worlds in Madison!:
I've just returned from an evening downtown having just seen the University Theatre's presentation of Orson Welles' 1938 radio version of The War of the Worlds adapted from Howard Koch's script. Most of you know that this is one of my favourite books, radio presentations & event in human history so it shouldn't surprise anyone how excited I was to attend.
The excitement however, didn't last long. When you have a story told in radio like the original broadcast the events unfold in the listener's mind. Presenting an original radio drama as a stage play about a radio program makes it as awkward & confusing as this sentence describing it. They began with a live broadcast of an adaptation of W.W. Jacob's classic story The Monkey's Paw, just as you might hear back in the '30s with audience & foley men & all. Several minutes into the story a stage manager comes in with an urgent bulletin, stopping the program & announcing strange phenomena of jets of gas visibly erupting from the planet Mars. The story resumes as normal until another bulletin comes in with more news. This continues until The Monkey's Paw is given up in favour of the more exciting news about Mars & the sudden impact of a "meteorite" near Black Earth, Wisconsin. From then on the play jumps back & forth from newsroom announcements to live portrayal of the havoc wrought upon Black Earth. So is it a radio broadcast? Is it a stage play? Is it really happening outside the theater? Why yes! All three apparently.
But still, this in itself wasn't so bad. They did well in switching back & forth between the three & I could have lived with it, but the performance itself was so laughable that I nearly found it difficult to remain to the end. The actors knew their lines that's for certain, for I know them all myself having studied the original broadcast for so long. However, one could say they knew them too well. A number of the actors spoke every line as if to say "Look at me! I remembered every line, I am so proud of myself." It was over rehearsed. Every shred of spontaneity in the dialogue was lost. The woman portraying Carl Phillips was so over the top I couldn't wait for her to die at the first flash of the heat ray. To contrast, Mercury Theater actor Frank Readick who played Phillips in '38 intently studied Herb Morrison's account of the Hindenburg disaster the year before. Playing the broadcast over & over again to get a sense of the urgency in Morrison's strained voice, Readick prepared to make his role as the doomed reporter Carl Phillips as realistic as possible.
Perhaps none of them had ever actually heard the original broadcast which they were aping. Except for Norman Gilliland all of the players were kids at the university. That at least would account for why everyone's lines were off or were spoken with a grinning cheesiness usually found in musicals. Or delivered with an air of "This is a fun play, I don't have to be serious." And also why all the lines were done at 2/3 the normal speed, dragging the production out to 90 minutes. It was irritating, like when you hear someone singing your favourite song except they're using all the wrong notes. This broadcast would never have been mistaken for an actual Martian invasion.
I do have to make an exception for Mr. Gilliland tho'. He was the most professional of the crew & had the best radio voice, which is expected since he's been working in the business for over 30 years. The rest however, need some work.
This being October I am on my annual War of the Worlds kick & this year is one of the biggest so far. It is the 70th anniversary of the original radio broadcast, the 110th anniversary of the novel's publication, Jeff Wayne is currently touring the UK for the third year running with his famous musical production of the story & here in Madison there are two live state presentations. Yes, two. The second being on October 21st at the Capitol Theater presented by L.A. Theater Works. I'll be there too. And if Jeff Wayne brings his tour to America, or if I can get to England sometime soon you can bet I'll be in the good seats. I already know that will be the best of the bunch.
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If you want to listen to the program I attended tonite, it was broadcast live on October 4th. You can download it from the NPR archives here & listenable on RealPlayer.
Current Mood: optimistic
Current Music: C60 stuff