This is Zach's personal blog. If you're looking for his movies, please click here. Otherwise, have fun!

Sunday, December 29, 2002

Access of evil. Hey everyone. We've been having technical difficulties here at Rooster Spice Studios; in fact it'll be a miracle if the DSL stays up long enough to post this message. Anyway, that, and not anything nasty like suicide or nervous breakdowns, is why I haven't posted in a while.

Thursday, December 26, 2002

I coulda been a contender day. For those of you who returned to work today: welcome back. For those who continued their vacation: lucky you. And for those who never had a real day off in the first place: grab a beer, and let's commiserate.

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

Oh, no, I don't do that sort of thing. Mike has already mentioned the Amazon clothes horses in his blog, but to add to his account: while looking for the Spider-Man link in the last entry, I noticed that Amazon has started to promote its new Apparel store with this bit of deathless prose:
Customers who wear clothes also shop for:

It's good to know they're being specific, so as not to alientate the nudist demographic.

Chestnuts thrown halfway across the room...

D did NOT have a good Christmas this year. The poor kid's sick and had a runny nose all morning--plus he hadn't had an afternoon nap in five days. (He took one today, thank goodness.)

In fact, he didn't wake up 'til 8 A.M., and he demanded to eat breakfast before he finished opening his presents. He must be really sick--or maybe he's not really my son.

E, on the other hand, seems to grasp Christmas even at the tender age of five months, since she woke us up at 4 A.M. Always the overachiever, that one.

D got the most mileage out of the magic markers and crayons my folks gave him; kid loves to draw, or to be precise, loves to make us draw. Shapes, usually (you haven't lived until you've heard a three year old ask for a "parallelogram"), which he then colors in, if he's so inclined.

The stuff we got for him--a wooden train and a toy workbench--didn't go over quite as well. But as K said, "At least he's not materialistic."

The same could not be said for K and me, as we enjoyed my gifts to her (an eyemodule and a keyboard for her PDA, as well as the new Fellowship of the Ring box set) and her gifts to me (the aforementioned digital camera and the Spider-Man collector's gift set). Oh well, somebody's got to be a typical American.

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Gadgets are good. We open some of our presents on Christmas Eve, in keeping with K's family's tradition (I come from the "wait-till-morning" school). And so it came to pass that I'm now the proud owner of a digital camera.

Okay, fine, that's what everyone gets this year. But you need a little history to understand how remarkable this gift is.

The cameras I have owned have met the following fates (from most recent):
  • Chewed up and left for dead by our dog, Buddy;
  • Stolen while on a trip to London in college;
  • Been run over by a school bus at my high school;
  • Left behind at the end of summer camp. (This last was my first real camera; a genuine single-lens-reflex from Pentax, and I took black-and-white photos with it and developed them myself and everything. Man, losing that one was a heartbreaker.)

So you see, it's a leap of faith to give me a camera--any kind of camera, let alone a digital one. But on the whole, maybe I should think of it as a computer gadget. Those, I can make last remarkably well (says the proud owner of a Macintosh 128K).
I'm dreaming of a multi-hued, non-denominational solstice... It's snowing in Greenbelt on Christmas Eve!

Monday, December 23, 2002

I shoulda been a copy editor. The local shops around here give out free calendars every year, as I suppose shops have done since time immemorial. Today I got one which was a joint veture between two of them: CENTERWAY MINI-MART and GREENBELT VARIEYT.
ZAP. Does anyone else find themselves strangely fascinated by the "Currently" entries--i.e. currently reading, listening to, watching, etc.--that's found on some blogs?

Yeah, me neither.

I mean, sure, it's nice to find out what people are exploring, but sometimes it seems like self-aggrandizement. For instance, I could mention that I'm reading Oliver Sacks' The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Herodotus' Histories, and Theories on the Curvature of Space-Time and Multiple Dimensions by Stephen Hawking. But wouldn't that seem, I don't know, slightly condescending?

Saturday, December 21, 2002

OK, what the hell does this mean and why am I number four on the list?

Friday, December 20, 2002

In the style of 'Tis. It's not a faux pas to buy a gift at a used CD store. It may or may not be a faux pas to listen to the gift before wrapping it, especially if the CD was opened when purchased. However, it's a definite faux pas to wrap the case by itself because you forgot the CD was still in your player. And of course, to mail the gift before this is discovered, goes past faux pas all the way to stupidissimo.

Fortunately, there's an easy solution. Will someone tell me what it is?
Obligatory politics. You know, I'm not gonna say whether I'm for or against war with Iraq, mostly 'cause I don't know yet myself. But I will say that it's a little disturbing to continually read in the op-ed pages about plans for a "post-Hussein Iraq." Hello? We haven't even fought the damn war, yet alone won it!

Thursday, December 19, 2002

As seen on Jackass.

The bulk of the Christmas shopping is finally done, and the Christmas lights are finally up on the oak tree in the front yard. Boy, that was a sight to see. E was in her little chair on the front porch, and D, het-up and overtired from pre-school (from whence we had just come), was running around, throwing the mystery magazine as far as he could while singing "A Hard Day's Night" at the top of his lungs. And, not to be outdone, there I was, on a rickety 6 foot ladder, hugging the tree while trying to throw the lights over a branch just out of my reach.

We wrap the Christmas lights around rolled-up newspapers to store them, and I've taken to writing messages to the future on the paper, to be read the following year. As a measure of how much the world has changed, I opened one string of lights where the paper was dated Jan. 1, 2001 (we must not have used it last year) and my message was "How's George W. doing?" The next string had the paper from Jan. 1, 2002, and I had written "Are we still alive?" Ah, the boundless optimism of late 2001...
To be honest, the bulk of this post will be written at 5:42 PM, not when the time stamp says, because when I first wrote this post, I only wrote the first two words: "To be." I must have been answering Hamlet.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

And you must go here: 'Tis the Season
They took the sky from me. Firefly's been canned, according to the Post. What a shame... it seemed to have real potential.

No, Lord Halliwell... the butler's the one who's dead!

Recently I did something rather quaint and pre-Information Age... I subscribed to a magazine. Yes, you can still do that! There's still stuff to be read that isn't on a computer screen.

It was all part of a fundraiser for D's preschool; some percentage of the money went to the school. (Yeah... it will be a glorious day when our schools get the money they need and the air force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber, I know.) We got a toddler-age nature mag called Your Big Backyard for D, MacAddict for me, and then we had one left... so with some reservations, we took out an interest in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. We're Sherlock Holmes fans, but not huge mystery buffs. I personally have always found the mystery novel in general somewhat tired. (And don't even get me started on series characters--I had really hoped Murder, She Wrote would end with Jessica Fletcher finally getting nailed for all those killings that seemed to follow her around.)

But the mystery short story! Oh, what a joy to discover! Typically, I take in a story's title and style to determine whether it might interest me. There were more than a few to which I said, "Oh, I won't bother with this one, it's not my bag," and then my eyes strayed along a paragraph and next thing I knew I was hooked. Uncanny, the power of PLOT!

Makes me want to try to write one. Alas, I'd probably wind up aping Shear Madness, given the time I've spent backstage for them. And the last thing the world needs is another Shear Madness...
All right, our objectives have been achieved, and I can stop posting again.
Addendum. I should point out that a couple people wrote and said they were glad I was back. That was definitely good to hear.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

I'm better now... want to buy this bridge? My recent vacation was not taken in the most elegant way, hm? I suppose I should have hung a sign that said, "Gone Chopin--Back in a Minuet."

I stopped blogging because, frankly, too many people were caring about me. This seems like an odd thing, I know (an odd thing... can't you tell I think myself a writer, with word-choices like that?), but on bad days I look on this as less entertainment than therapy, and somehow therapy seems more useful if it's screamed to the world rather than stuck in a dark corner of a hard drive. Hell, once I remember I typed out (this was in eighth grade, and I had a computer, but I liked to use an actual manual typewriter) a missive against my Awful Life, including some choice insults of my dad's then-girlfriend, and I left it sitting on my desk where I knew full well my dad would see it. He thought it was really funny and clever, which was not precisely my intention.

Anyway, I clearly have always enjoyed airing out the dirty linen of my addled brain in public. And it may sound ingenuous, but I really don't care about the "come on Squelch, get together, you're a good man" school of replies. I mean, they're appreciated, sure; and I'm glad that people care about me. But I'd far rather hear people's reactions to, say, my memoir experiment or a really clever story (although that last one was linked to, I must admit). When people write to me trying to cheer me up, it just seems like pity.

Of course, whenever someone compliments me, it seems like pity.

So where were you while I was gone?

-- with annotations by Squelch, Esq.

  • New Year Clearouts and Amnesties have begun. Now we have five in the Real Blogs of Note section. I aim to reduce the Ghoul Club list, so that I don't spend so much of my working day catching up with people.

    I've already been removed from the Ghoul Club (justifiably), so I can finally say what I really think: a) she should have left her twit of a husband weeks ago, and b) she shouldn't insult Americans so often; we can't read that fast.

  • The machine which I was going to put into my MAME cabinet died last night. It won't boot; it gets partway through the POST routines and freezes. Fortunately, the motherboard has a series of LEDs that indicate where the trouble lies. Unfortunately, it indicates a different problem every time I try to boot it.


  • 23 minutes. Yes, I was in Rome 23 minutes before being pickpocketed, setting a new record for involuntary donations to the Eternal City's underground economy. I wrote to my manager, telling him, and he responded, "How boring." That's so true it is painful--it seems that every 4th person into Rome gets taken for a ride, and my number was simply up. It is no wonder that sexy designer fashion wallets are a big sales item here.

    Since this interesting set of entries, Mike's been back to his usual fare--simple hyperlinks with minimal comment. Ah well, at least that way he doesn't need to worry about my envy attacks.

  • The sky. Glorious, even more than last Monday: huge, blazing coral and orange and gold, below layers and layers of thick dark smoky-blue clouds going all the way up. I kept wondering if the other drivers noticed. How could they not? Every time I saw it from another angle, I involuntarily gasped under my breath, "Oh my God." There was so much of it, like a gift. I wanted my camera, so badly. Fast fast roads, wonderful, smooth, magnificent soaring music to match--"Oh Sister," "Knockin' On Heaven's Door"... I sped home, watching, watching, racing, ran in and grabbed my camera. I knew there was little hope of it staying for so long, but I turned back around and drove Route 9 over again, just on the chance. It was too late; the sun was low; no more colours. Just pale gold and black tree outlines and blearing smearing lights, beautiful too, but not glorious. Wasted time? NO.

    She still writes beautifully, although too much about The Band and Dylan for my taste. At least she's no longer sending me subliminal messages--the Pope and George W. Bush have taken up that mantle.

  • New York City is a dog town. Us wacky New Yorkers love our dogs, and there's more amenities and perks for pooches per square mile in Manhattan than probably any other place on Earth... I learned over the weekend, though, that Boston does one thing for dogs that New York City does not: let them ride on the subway.

    I just like this guy's writing. Not to mention his common sense. And when I heard about this, I knew he'd have an elegant riposte.

  • LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD IN ACTION: Does this surprise anybody? From Butler in Hoboken.

    Possibly the only one on the list who's written even less than me lately.

  • Me (with a big customer service sincere smile): "Hello, sir, may I ask; are you an actor?"
    Random relaxed & cocky audience member on the first row: "No"
    Me (smile shifted slightly into snarl....): "Then get your feet off the damn stage. Sir."
    "Thank you. Sir"

    I wish I read her more often, and I love the new design, which suits the funniest dramaturg in Glasgow.

  • I had a bad day at school a few days ago. Some students were unprepared, late, disruptive - the usual teacher annoyances. The night was dark and cold as I walked to my car, and I would have to scrape the frost from the windows. But as I leaned against the handle of the ice scraper, I thought about how nice it would be to get home, see The Wife, and listen to The Girl's quiet sleep movements through the monitor. ... There are those who hate going home. I don't know how they do it.

    Try never leaving home for a change.

  • The New York Times is running a series on the Ten Commandments that makes the God Squad seem scholarly. The ostensible reason for the series is that the Commandments "resonate in a season when many take time to carve out sacred space in their lives," and each installment purports to showcase a "personal struggle to comply" with one of the Commandments. ... The Second Commandment -- forbidding the worship of graven images -- is examined in an installment about a "tour rat," or groupie, of the band Phish. Although the Commandment "calls on believers to worship the mystery of the divine" and "cautions them against paying homage to objects created by humankind," young Beth Senturia has dropped out of college to follow the band around and believes that the band's lead singer, Trey, is God. But isn't that more of a violation of the First Commandment? Trey is not an object created by mankind, but a false god. And I'm not sure why any of this is Beth's personal struggle, since she doesn't appear to care about the Commandments in the first place.

    I won't comment on this except to note that my brother followed Phish around for a time, and he also goes to church every Sunday. So I guess he's deluded twice over.

  • And though I love my current job, I saw this and thought, hey, that would be cool. Working for Yahoo, moving to California ... then I noticed the location, and who wants to live on top of the Hellmouth?

    Welcome to the newest Seal of Approval blog. We look forward to many more Buffy references in the future.

Monday, December 16, 2002

When we last left our hero... Ain't that always the way? My first post in ten days and Blogger dumps it. Ah, well, after that long (not to mention at least fifteen days since Real Content) I can at least be sure no one's listening anymore.

Wait, is this really Squelch, the Audience Whore, talking? Hmmm...

Got lots to do: must fix the archive page, get rid of the NaNoWriMoProMe, rejigger a few of the Seal of Approval links, and, oh yes, write. Mustn't forget that. Did I mention that, despite the initial euphoria, I haven't written a word of The Novel since reality crashed my party? I did, however, join an informal writing group; I'll be doing one short story per month. We'll see if it's easier doing 5000 words than 50,000.

I still believe that Getting a Schedule is the secret. What that schedule will be... ah, there's the rub. (Reaches for ointment.)

Thursday, December 05, 2002

I'm losing my mind. This is troublesome.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

I hate myself. Why?
I could say to check back often for when I Get My Blog Back On, but what's the point, really?

It was a bad day. Again...

Who cares?
what is the sound of one finger blogging?

Sunday, December 01, 2002

Well, we did it. And it went spectacularly well. The Gonnas had their full-band debut on Friday night; we even snagged some folks who we didn't know personally, and we gave away half of our CDs (the band members themselves gobbled up the rest). Giving them away was a choice, since it was National Buy Nothing Day, as previously mentioned.

I will share the whole story (good, bad, and ugly) soon. For now, why not click on what will eventually be our website?

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Rooster Ghost. No, Gentle Readers, I haven't vanished. Just been getting ready for the big show at Art-O-Matic. Change of time: 8 PM, Nov. 29, Cabaret stage. As of this writing, we're billed as a comedy improv group. This is a problem.

Attempting to mix a crappy 4-track casette to digital has proved to be a challenge. But with luck, we'll be able to give away a 3-song CD at the performance.

Tell your friends, tell your enemas...

Friday, November 22, 2002

Well, there is Al Gore. There's an InstaPundit and a Daily Pundit. There's a Shi'a Pundit, a MuslimPundit, and even a VodkaPundit.

But what I want to see? A ChiaPundit.

Thursday, November 21, 2002

Maybe mediation would help.

Nimüe, our cat, pees on the couch regularly. Today K pointed out that she always pees in the same spot: the place where D, our resident cat-chaser, likes to sit.

I guess the verdict is in...
Mention Rooster Spice and get 25% off! Did a little research into anti-consumerism yesterday. It turns out there's a National Buy Nothing Day, and that's what we're supposed to celebrate on our performance (Nov. 29, Art-O-Matic, Cabaret Stage, 10 PM, be there or else), since anti-consumerism is the Theme of the Evening.

Now, the problem with encouraging people to buy nothing is that most bands promote themselves by selling CDs. But if people can't buy them on that day...?

An elegant solution: we'll be cutting a special 3-song EP and will give it away for FREE at the concert! So come on down and get it!

Just don't tell anyone that this 3-song EP will in fact be our first and ONLY compact disc...

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

I'm so tired.

"It's time I had some time alone..." -- R.E.M.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Today's KidsPost (yes, I get my news from a paper designed for 13-year-olds) asks the following question at its masthead:

What does an English person mean when she says, "Put the bag in the boot"?

The answer they gave was, of course, "Put the suitcase in the trunk." Personally, though, I thought a more accurate translation was, "Put the ugly old woman in the trunk."

Maybe they'll save that for the Mafia KidsPost.

Sincerely, your favorite GBA Yank...

Sunday, November 17, 2002

Whiners never quit. Well, I guess I have to admit that I'm probably not going to finish NaNoWriMo on time; the last week just took too much out of me. Sigh.

I'm still writing and will keep updating the meter, at least as long as Jeff keeps it going.

Aside: I've always wanted to fill a post with so many hyperlinks that the entry is rendered completely unreadable. I think this one comes pretty close.
I've got it! I've got it! Anti-Consumerism.... and Uncle Commercialism!

Saturday, November 16, 2002

I feel improvocated. My friend Stephanie, who was the heart and soul of RATS, the improv group of which I was a founding member (and which disbanded about a year ago), has started a new one: Improvocation. They had their first performance last night at Art-O-Matic, a D.C. arts festival.

I'm not going to write about how well they did, both because A) I didn't see it; and B) it's not part of my Blog Mandate. Rather, I'm going to tell you how I feel that Stephanie started a new improv group and didn't ask me to join.

Aw, screw that. I'm too happy. You see, the Gonnas are performing at Art-O-Matic, too!

Rex, our lead singer and another former RATS'er, went to see the show, and managed to con the Art-O-Matic folks into giving us a gig. We'll be performing Nov. 29, the day after Turkey Day, on the Cabaret stage at 10 P.M. So, if you're in the area, come on by.

The theme for the evening is anti-consumerism. So I guess I'll have to stifle my neo-conservative leanings. (Well, no, I'm not a neo-conservative, except in comparison to the socialists who run Art-O-Matic.) We also don't have any songs about anti-consumerism. But hey, who's counting?

[Edit: Stephanie did not, in fact, start the Improvocation group--my mistake.]

Friday, November 15, 2002

Slowly. This entry, the one that said "get over it," is probably a little too flip. I do appreciate the hordes--well, okay, the many--well, okay, the three, one of whom was my mother--people who have written in concern and sympathy. It's helped. Not as much as it should, but it has.

Anyway, things are a little better. Not solved, but better. I wish I could have made it clearer--I'm not worried about myself, per se. I'm worried about what I might do to my children. That's what put my undershorts in a twist.

Every day that E smiles, and every day that D sings a Beatles song (gosh, that kid has a great ear!), I feel better about being a father. And I feel more like I'm a good father.

I guess that's progress...
To quote the folks from IKEA: Maybe you feel sorry for this blog? That is because you are crazy! Blogs do not have feelings. And The Raving Atheist is much better!

Thursday, November 14, 2002

Because it is stupid. I'm approximately 5,500 words behind. This of course doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things, except that I think I was writing a damn good story.

What if it's NaNoWriMo that is killing me? How odd would that be? Write a story on one hand--remain sane on the other. Isn't it supposed to be the other way around--telling stories keeps you sane?

Yes, I am seeing a psychiatrist. On a regular basis. And I have an emergency appointment tomorrow, in fact.
Those of you who are worried about me:

Get over it.

(It is appreciated, though.)

This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This two shell pas. This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass.
I have to admit, it's getting better
It's getting better all the time
(Can't get no worse)

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

I know everyone has bad days.

I know I didn't actually hurt anyone.

I know taking care of a toddler and an infant is a difficult job.

I know all these things, and yet I'm still helpless in the face of all my knowledge.

I lost it again today--not violently, but I had to abdicate all the same. K has to stay up late tonight, in fact, making up work hours, because I made her take care of D and E.

And so I could go to bed on time, I skipped out on band rehearsal. And of course I haven't written a word of the novel. I'd simply quit, but then I'd hate myself even more.

How can I do this? How can I survive? I'm not strong enough.

What will I do if things REALLY get tough, as opposed to the ersatz tough that I find myself enveloped in?

Fuck myself. Fuck the world. Fuck everybody except my family, 'cause they're the only people I really love...
I can't leave that entry festering like a sore. So, things were a little better today. Wa hoo.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

There's a dent in the drywall from the chair, too.
My first full-length play was about, in part, a man who was terrified he was an abuser. Today I found out I was writing about myself.

I was tired. I can keep telling myself that; I was tired, so was D, and E is sick and had been screaming all morning. I can keep telling myself that over and over but it will make no difference.

The first thing I did was whack myself upside the head, repeatedly, with a children's book. Just to hurt myself so I wouldn't hurt anyone else.

Then about an hour later, I put E down (she was screaming), curled into a ball, and screamed myself.

When I fixed D lunch (we had to hurry, because K had just called; she's sick, too, and asked to be picked up from work), I gave him milk, which he pushed away. A tiny bit of it spilled. A tiny bit! Nonetheless I screamed at him. "HEY!" A long, drawn out HEY right at his face. I breathed. Caught hold of myself. Apologized and kissed his forehead and told him I loved him.

This is just a minute later, now. E is screaming again. I asked D to please eat his lunch. He refused. And something snapped inside me.

I grabbed the chair next to his and pulled it out from under the table. The table swiveled a bit. It may have actually hit him in the chest or it may have simply stopped as it reached him. . . I'm not sure how much force it had. I didn't notice, I was too busy screaming "SON OF A BITCH! DUMB SHIT!" I don't know who I was addressing this to. Not D. Maybe myself. I threw the chair into the corner, where it hit the closet door and knocked it off its hinges.

I got a hold of myself. D was crying and looking at me with abject terror. Like I was a monster. I was a monster. I am a monster.

My hands were shaking. I pulled the table away from him. There was a little red mark under his shirt, but it didn't look like a bruise. He was okay. E was quiet, fascinated.

I don't think I will ever forget D's face. And he will probably never forget mine. This is one of the moments that defines a child's worldview, like when my own father smashed a dinner plate directly in front of me simply because he couldn't cook the french fries correctly. That image has come back to me again and again and I'm sure today will come back to D, unless, of course, I do something even worse.

I felt like turning myself in to the police or getting myself committed. I'm sick. I'm wrong. I will hurt someone unless someone stops me. I feel like I need to leave them all because I don't want to hurt them, ever; I love them too much.

What am I?

Those of you who have heard my self-loathing before: now do you believe me? Do you understand that I wasn't full of shit when I called myself evil, twisted, and (more prosaically) a putz? I can't stand what I've done. I can barely live with it. How will I survive this? I have to. I have to work it out. But how will I ever regain their trust?

I wish this were a scene out of my stupid novel.

Monday, November 11, 2002

Zzzz. Good night.

And please send all your good karma Erzsebel-way. How about that--I think I spelled it correctly.

Sunday, November 10, 2002

Phew. I made it. 12,150 words. Boy, is it terrible. Here's an actual quote:

I thought maybe I was getting scurvy, which I had learned about in social studies class. I started eating oranges to ward it off.

That came straight out of Dave Barry's column for today. Oh well, it'll never see publication anyway, right?

I jinxed myself.

Now it's like pulling teeth. I'm super tired and seem to be in the middle of a depressed phase which may have something to do with it. I still managed to get to 10K words yesterday, but I have no idea how I'll get to 12K today. My eyes are falling out of their sockets and my jaw is scraping the keyboard. But I've gotta do it, right? No matter how crappy it comes out. That's the point of the exercise.

Meanwhile, real life goes on: D went poo-poo in the potty for the first time today, and those of you who aren't parents can just imagine the most impressive thing you've ever heard of--the rest of us know what I'm talking about. The rest of the day he was a little temper demon.

Days when I feel like this, even a walk around the lake doesn't clear my head, and I start thinking horrible thoughts and get ready, in my head, for the end of my marriage (well, we'd have to get a sitter before I left, that sort of thing) and what I would do to eat if I had no one to freeload off of, suddenly. None of this is even a remote possibility, and K certainly hasn't done anything to trigger it, but it's how my mind works.

I suppose at least that I wasn't thinking about suicide, so that's a step forward. These moods are so debilitating; no matter how many times I try to remember how good I've got it, these feelings of despondency, worthlessness, despair come on like a ten-ton truck and run me over.

Now I'm sitting here at the iMac, and writing a blog instead of a novel. But it has to be done; gotta exercise the muscles somehow.

Saturday, November 09, 2002

Well, thanks to K, there are now new photos of Da Progeny, including a quiz where you determine Who's Who. Check it all out at
There were too many numerals in that post, weren't there?
Grrr. I only managed 1200 words yesterday. Grr.

Fortunately I was 500 words ahead of schedule, so I only have to do 2300 to hit 10,000, which is where I need to be today to hit 50K by Nov. 30.

Friday, November 08, 2002

Wake up, America, you're dreaming.

All four Gonnas meet tonight for the first time since Tony's wedding (one of the nice things about middle-aged folks in a rock band is that you don't break up when the bass player gets married). He's just back from a nice honeymoon in Italy. That's one of the nice things about getting married late, I guess; ours was spent at the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and it was before the wedding, since I had to start a job two days after.

'Course, Tony's not getting married all that late, since he and Leslie are both 28 (I think).

Anyway, we'll just have to see if a husband can play as funky as a single guy.

The entire day I've been suffering from spending late nights on The Novel. Twice I got kid's stuff to eat lunch on (the first time D's plate, the second, a sippee cup), and then when making dinner, I poured the uncooked pasta into the pan that was supposed to be for the sauce. The strange this [edit: that should have been "thing"; see what I mean?] is I don't feel sleepy at all. Whether this is because of the writing or my new low-cholesterol regimen, I don't know.

And that novel? Couldn't get on the computer today, so I don't know the word count, but I still managed to get a lot written in longhand. I love this shit!

Thursday, November 07, 2002

Clarence: you're damn straight gonna get a copy.
And another thing: my Dad was right. Sure, it's another father-son story like thousands of Arthur Miller plays, and sure the writing style owes a lot to Rick Russo and Steven King circa "The Body." But you know what? No one could have written it but Squelch, thirty year old father of two. And damn it, that's great.

(I was SO hoping I could get to bed before ten. I almost made it, too...)
Knock on wood, for God's sake, KNOCK ON WOOD! I can't believe how well it's going. Was this all I needed? To sit down and write, with a daily quota? The characters are spinning away in ways I couldn't have imagined. All those cliches that happy writers use, you know? They're all true. The characters really do tell the story.

And what's most liberating is that I don't know exactly what's coming next and I don't care. I mean, I believe in writing stories, not moods, and I certainly have a general arc and at least one scene that I know I want to write, but the rest. . . it's just gravy, man. And 2200 words came out today at ONE SITTING where I just plain didn't know what to do next.

I can't believe it, and I'm so afraid it's just a fluke.

Meanwhile, as Jeff puts it, "All over the Web, people are reading the blogs of NaNoWriMo participants and saying 'I don't care about your stupid novel! Entertain me in your usual fashion!' Fortunately, I doubt anyone is normally entertained by my blog, so I don't have to worry about that."

Sorry, folks. I hope you don't have to wait 'til December before I talk about anything else.
Nothing written, nothing gained. Now is when it gets shitty.

On another topic, I like Tom Toles' take on the midterm elections.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

"Nano" means "tiny," doesn't it? I'm into chapter three and holding steady at over 2000 words a day. If you want to read an excerpt, feel free to go here. That's all you're gonna get until it's done, though. And maybe all, ever. Depends on whether or not I'm proud of it at the end of things.

Perversely, if I'm not proud of it, you will see it.

Oh, and there's an in-joke for you there, Laura... but just a little one.
I said, AUGH! Once again I had a poignant, trenchant, witty entry, and the evil combination of Blogger and iCab ate it.

So all you get is my observation that National Novel Writing Month sounds really good in song, especially when combined with the Progress Meter:

(to the tune of Pretty Woman)
NaNoWriMo, NaNoWriMoProMe,
NaNoWriMo, the kind I like to see,

The Republicans own the world now, by the way, so we can finally march unimpeded to the Promised Land, where everyone owns a gun and sings patriotic, Christian songs while walking over the asphalt which covers the world. After all, you can't drive your SUV through a forest, can you?

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

First chapter done. Up to 2200 words. Now, bedtime.
Well, thanks for the link to it, Godfrey--I have now officially begun my very own NaNoWriMo odyssey.

So why am I writing this?

I did my civic duty today. Did you vote? You shoulda! I wonder who our next Governor is?
If every idea is a novel, then why am I afraid to try this?

Monday, November 04, 2002

Every idea is a novel these days. You'll forgive me, of course, for not writing recently, but I've been writing. No, really! Okay, not in the actual "putting pen to paper" sense, but I have been THINKING about a story--a short story, to be precise, for a contest sponsored by Flashquake, a literary e-zine in which my buddy Rex has been published.

The contest (for those too lazy to follow the link) is to write a 500 word story that takes place, at least in part, at midnight New Years Eve. So something is forming in my head, coalescing around that concept.

At the moment, it's coalescing at about 5000 words, alas. So time to cut the coalesced fat.

Saturday, November 02, 2002

I'm not a Satanist, but I play one on TV. Well, I missed it, though since I found out only yesterday, I guess I have an excuse. Still, I wish I could have marched.

Wonder if the Post will mention it. It'll probably be squeezed into "News In Brief."

You know, I hate to ask for sympathy in general, and I'm not quite as vociferous as some, but nonetheless I do feel that atheists are the last minority group that it's OK to discriminate against.

To put it in perspective, of course, no one is trying to burn us at the proverbial stake or anything--I'd wager most folks don't even care. That's why I don't bother getting angry about it.

Still, I remember when I found out about the George H. W. Bush quote back in college, I was stunned at the collective yawn it engendered in my classmates--as though it was OK to say that atheists weren't American citizens. I mean, come on--what if he had said "I don't think Jews should be considered citizens"? Yet because he said "atheists," no one cared.

Hug An Unbeliever Today!

And on another religious topic: I was listening to WPFW, the local jazz/left-wing radio station, briefly on Halloween, and the deejays were saying they were having a Halloween show--but they were at pains to say again and again, "Now, we're not devil-worshippers, we're just having a little fun, we certainly don't believe in witchcraft or anything like that," and went on to explain that in fact they weren't even saying the kids should go out trick-or-treating, their kids certainly weren't, they were going to a little indoor festival sponsored by the town, but in this day and age they would never suggest going door-to-door--

--and I wanted to slap them.

For our part, D and E did go door-to-door, and loved every minute of it. D was Eeyore, and E was a puppy. I wanted to don a wife-beater undershirt and boxers, and carry a beer and a TV remote, so when people asked "What are you dressed as?" I could belch and say, "A dad."

Thursday, October 31, 2002

Happy All Hallows Eve, as oh-so-clevah folks like me are wont to say.

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Mark my words, we're short on turds. When I was in London for a theater program in college, we saw many plays at the National Theatre; one of them was Square Rounds by Tony Harrison (funny how you can remember the bad ones best). It was a play in rhymed couplets about World War One, or to be precise, about the weaponry of World War One and how England's mastery of the water closet may have made it difficult to harvest a prime component of explosives and gas--i.e. solid excrement. Yes, it was literally a play about shit.

I could not for the life of me figure out why on earth anyone would produce, perform, or attend a play about shit.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to clean up after the dog, refill the cat litter, and change some diapers before I go to bed.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

I wonder if the percentage of misanthropes is higher in the blogging community than the world at large?
Plbt, somebody wrote about 24 before I did. Ah well. Can't scoop 'em every day.

And I love Enterprise.
High drama! Fox TV's show "24" had its season premiere tonight. I've never watched it--and didn't tonight, either--but I've always thought it was a cool concept. Every episode unfolds in real time, one hour after the other, until by the end of 24 episodes you've been through a full 24 hours. Last year was the first season, and I'm told the crises were so severe that most of the characters stayed awake for the whole day.

I wonder if they picked up exactly where they left off, and filmed a bunch of episodes of Kiefer Sutherland sleeping, getting up to use the john, cursing himself for working too hard, sleeping again...
Those people who say "It's so much easier with two kids than one" should be sent to the special hell right alongside folks who drive too slow in the fast lane.

Monday, October 28, 2002

Remember about those jobs I hated? Periodically I get calls from theaters wondering if I'm available to hang a light, build a set, et cetera, et cetera.

It is so satisfying to say, "I'm retired."

It isn't quite so satisfying to stop myself from saying, "And I wouldn't work in tech theater again for a thousand dollars an hour, so don't ever call me again unless you want to pay me more than that."

But I do manage to stop myself, even if they call at ten o'clock at night, when my kids and wife are trying to sleep.

(I shoulda said it...)
That entry would be a lot more interesting without the final word of the fourth sentence.
Be Your Own Boss! Yeah, I long ago reconciled myself to not being the breadwinner. And, yeah, all the paying jobs I've had were only "paying" in the broadest sense of the word. And, yeah, I hated most of them, even the ones that weren't legal temping. And, yeah, taking care of the kids is the most rewarding job I've ever had.

Still, it's kind of depressing when the first check you've seen in months with your own name on it is only forty dollars... and it's just a rebate check for some software you bought a while back.

Sunday, October 27, 2002

Oh, yeah, and the clever boldfaced title was supposed to be: About a Book.
A summation of my last post that didn't happen because of VBScript errors:

My mother, when she visited last weekend to look after the kids, brought along a copy of Nick Hornby's How to be Good. I read it this afternoon and it was very good but I didn't understand the last sentence. Help, please.

(The post was a little better written than that originally.)
I had a post, but Blogger lost it.

Saturday, October 26, 2002

Breathe. I suppose at some point I should write about the arrest of the alleged snipers, being that I was right here at the center of the mess and all.

I'd love to be full of bravado and say "Oh, I was never frightened, I knew they'd be caught" but the truth is, I was pretty well terrified. I knew, certainly, that many more people died from other causes in those 22 days... but the sheer randomness of the shootings, and how unusual they were, really did a number on my rational side.

Naturally, it wasn't a white van or truck. Nor were the killers shooting from where I was looking out for them (the top of a building, behind a tree, et cetera). So all the "preventive" measures I took were for naught anyway, except possibly the one about not gassing up near the interstate.

I think I'm most glad that Halloween will happen as usual.

"Walk in the sun, Washington..."

Friday, October 25, 2002

More adventures in parenting. So today we went straight from picking K up at work to eating dinner at Applebees (sorry, Constant Readers who have better taste in restaurants, that's the best we can do). Throughout the ride there--it was a spur-of-the-moment thing, understand--I'm getting the nagging feeling that I've forgotten something.

When we arrive, and sit down in the booth, the aroma we smell is not that of food--and that's when it hits me: the diaper bag.

Yes, they both took advantage of the situation. So off I walked to the CVS next door (where I found only JUMBO packages of diapers) and then back into the bathroom. Incidentally, why are all changing tables in restaurants (at least those few that are in the men's rooms) designed for midgets? How am I supposed to change a baby that hangs out at knee-height?
Narapoia... the fear that you're following someone. Now I know someone's talking about me.

It must be well-hidden, though, because if I told my friends I was egocentric, they'd all fall down laughing. Self-piteous, yes. Fishing for compliments, sure. Egocentric? That's like saying Mike Tyson teaches anger-management classes.

If only they knew.

And on another note, E HAS THE BEST SMILE!!!! :):):) Ahem.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

This was good for a chuckle:


My thought was correct. It had nothing to do with me.

I think narcissism is a hell of a lot better than what I have, which is... what would you call it... grandiosity? The thought that when anyone makes an elliptical comment, they're referring to me? It's not paranoia, because it applies to complimentary statements as well. It's a hellish delusion to have, running around convinced that the whole world has an opinion about you.

They don't... do they?

Anyway, my curiosity is satisfied. And I also feel very small. And there's no one to blame but me, so don't feel guilty. (Not that anyone would, anyway.)

Could I be more unclear...?

This is kind of an apology, by the way. I should mind my own damn business.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

About nothing, really. Forget I mentioned it. I'm always curious when people delete things.
Thanks to Molly for turning us here at Rooster Spice on to The Raving Atheist.

Still and all, I have to disagree with one of his Basic Assumptions, namely the proposition that atheism is a "provable" religious theory. (In fairness, this isn't an Assumption per se, but a sentence within an explication of an Assumption--say that five times fast.) If you can prove that atheism is true, I'd love to see that proof. It would make my life much easier when the Jehovah's Witnesses come knocking at my door.

I mean, come on, I'm an atheist myself, but I would never argue that atheism is "provable"; just that there is no evidence that there is a God. (Potatoes shaped like the Virgin Mary are not evidence.)

Monday, October 21, 2002

I guess there's no surreptitious conversation happening after all. Pity.
Computer terms get my motor runnin'. I found out today that you can use an NSData object as a wrapper for any C byte buffer, and I also made closer strides to understanding the NSTask architechture, where you can run another program from within your application. The question is, do I use NSTask, or re-write to cut out "main(argc, argv)" entirely and use the NSData wrapper around both the .txt and .pdb file buffers? And as for parsing the Users file to get at the appropriate folder names... the mind boggles. It depends on whether I go straight MVC or document based, I guess.

Wait a minute... didn't you major in Performing Arts?

Sunday, October 20, 2002

Remember that the fantasy is always better than the truth...

I wish I wish I knew what it meant.

(oh, shut up, Squelch, it's got nothing to do with you...)
The Map Turned Upside Down. We went to a wedding yesterday. The groom was a friend of ours--I'll call him "Tony," because that's his name--and what with him and his now-wife both being Catholic, the ceremony was well over an hour long. Full Mass and everything.

It was somewhat more lengthy than my own wedding, where K's uncle's rendition of "Ave Maria" was longer than the entire rest of the ceremony and some of my friends missed the whole thing because they arrived ten minutes late. (I guess they were Catholic, too.) I think our ceremony was so short because the minister was late for a bingo game or something.

As an atheist (please don't take out a fatwa on me, Jerry Falwell!) it was simultaneously unnerving and liberating to not join in on the "Thanks be to God"s and "And also with you"s. It was also discouraging to find out that the only way to love is by loving God. (Man, if I had known that I woulda gotten a cheaper engagement ring!)

God was not with whoever wrote the directions from the church to the reception--they said to go north on a certain route when they meant south. The newlyweds arrived before many of the guests. Not quite the welcome they were hoping for, I think.

Friday, October 18, 2002

All politics is local. Bang! Okay, what's he really trying to say?

And on another political note, I fully expect to hear the war drums start beating against North Korea, since they're on the Axis of Really Really Evil and they have nukes. Well? Anyone? Bueller?

Oh, right... our president won't bother North Korea, because it was one of the few countries Poppy didn't invade...
Okay, now the permalinks are really fixed. Argh!

Thursday, October 17, 2002

Argh! Just found out my permalinks were all mucked up--no wonder no one's been using them. They should be fixed now, and no longer pointing to September and only September.
Thanks for cheering me up. There is a lovely philosophical entry on Anti-Linear Brain at the moment about the concept of being thrilled. (Tuesday October 15th entry, with the fortune cookie... not archived yet so I can't do much better.)

I remember the best thrill in my entire life happened eleven years to the day of that entry, coincidentally enough. That was K's and my first kiss. It still thrills, thinking about it...

There is nothing like that first flush of love: the jumpy, queasy feeling in your stomach; the wondering what will happen next; the joy of knowing someone feels the same way about you.

And another thrill happened that same date, but just this year, two days ago: I got E to laugh for the first time. I picked her up and bounced her while K drew her bath, and for some reason she thought that was funnier than Sid Caesar. It was great, that little newborn laugh. Still not the same kind of thrill, I grant you.

I like knowing that someone who loves me is always there for me, will always want to hug or kiss me, will smile at me when I come home, or will always want to cuddle. But is there a way to recapture that old thrill, when everything was new and unknown? Even if I don't want it, I have to admit--not knowing what to expect was thrilling. Alongside the new puppy love was the angst, self-doubt, worry--it all fits together. Can you have the thrill without the worry?

We will never leave each other--I know that like some folks know that Jesus saves (Satan spends). But we'll also never be nineteen and twenty, living in the same dorm, discovering ourselves and each other day by day... what a beautiful time.
Tense... maybe it's the tetanus booster. Does anyone else feel the need for personal alone time? Where if one more person clings to you, you'll scream? Where a few moments before bed away from the family are, despite the seeming callousness of it, a necessity in order to keep your sanity, even if it robs your spouse of cuddle time?

And then what if cuddle time is what your spouse needs to stay sane?

Note to self: advise your friend, whose wedding is this weekend, that the key to a successful marriage is negotiation.

Then remind yourself of the same thing...
Area Residents Showing Signs of Stress

And once again, the Post scoops the competition and reports on what OTHER papers would deride as "too obvious"!

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

The Umbrella Stand has dropped me from the REAL Blogs of Note but put me in the "smallprint." I wonder what it means. Maybe I'll write and ask... naaaahh...

Serial driver.

I had a big scare today. I took E and D to Target to get a few things. It was only nine or so in the morning and the shopping center was pretty deserted. You have to understand, of course, that even for supremely rational folks like me, getting gas or going to a shopping center is a somewhat uneasy experience. Not because of the likelihood of getting shot by this workaday sniper, but because of the sheer randomness.

Anyway, when we got there, I saw neither a solitary white cargo van nor a white box truck, both of which have been described as leaving the scenes of the murders.

I saw a white cargo van with a box-truck-like trailer attached. It even had pale lettering on the side of the box, just as described.

Big deal, you say. But wait a minute. This would be a somewhat likely explanation for the conflicting reports. Either the sniper is using two different vehicles, or the witnesses saw an unfamiliar thing and fixed it in their minds as something more familiar--say, a box truck if they saw it from behind, or a van if they saw it from the front. Before you throw up your hands (and why were you eating your hands to begin with?), remember that in the heat of a moment, memory becomes very unreliable. That's why eyewitness testimony is never as damning as forensic evidence.

In any case, being the good, cautious citizen that I am, I circled the vehicles and committed both their tags to memory, then went and found a parking spot. (I looked for a pen with which to write the numbers on my hand in case I was taken out--damn it, if I had to die at least I could help the cops--but I couldn't find one, so my posthumous heroism would not be.) I took D and E out and put them in the stroller as quickly as I could, then went into the store, never more conscious of the steep, high, tree-filled embankment next to the store and directly behind me, where the van and the trailer were parked.

That wasn't the scary experience, though.

That was when we were on our way home. I was in the left lane, preparing to turn onto my street and going maybe fifty miles per hour. When suddenly, the prototypical Old Man in a Buick decides to turn into my lane from another street. Except he's going only twenty miles an hour, and OK, he's just stopping at the divided highway, he'll let me go, oh no he won't, he's continuing to drive like I'M NOT EVEN HERE, OH SHIT, LEAN ON THE BRAKE AND THE HORN, THERE'S PEOPLE BEHIND ME, PLEASE PLEASE DON'T REAR-END--

It was then I was forcefully reminded how much more likely a traffic accident is than a shot in the back. (We didn't get hit, but The Old Man in the Buick never noticed the human drama playing out behind him. Or my horn, for that matter.)

Monday, October 14, 2002


Worry not, gentle reader, everything is fine. No one in my family has been shot by the sniper, and no one I know has been shipped to Iraq, either. Things have been quiet simply because I've discovered a new hobby.

Yes, Squelch the lapsed computer science minor has re-discovered programming! And it's so much easier in Mac OS X. I love it! I'm currently, as an exercise, working on an implementation of John Conway's Game of Life. Remember that one from computer camp? (Yes, I went to computer camp.)

Excuse me, Squelch, your geek is showing. Whoops! How embarassing.

Friday, October 11, 2002

This actually happened to me. K doesn't believe me, though.

Thursday, October 10, 2002

I'm glad, don't get me wrong. But I wonder why Rooster Spice is cool. (Check the left side of the page.)

Hey, I'll take it! Thanks for noticing.
Why don't they love me? There was another shooting last night in Northern Virginia. That's where I was for band practice. Technically, I was in a different place altogether, but when the police are looking for a white minivan that the shooters allegedly drove, and you're driving a white minivan, Northern Virginia suddenly seems like a very tiny area.

Several cops passed as I was driving home, most slowing down to examine my Chevy Venture closer. I saw one white van pulled over. But they never stopped me.

I was slightly hurt.

Monday, October 07, 2002

Heard at the library.

Squelch: Hi, I'd like to renew a book, please.
Clerk: Do you have it with you?
Squelch: I'm afraid not. I was just passing by.
Clerk: We need the book in order to renew it. Sorry.
Squelch: Ah. That's okay. (Starts to go.)
Clerk: You can renew them over the internet.
Squelch: Yes, I know. That's why I figured you wouldn't need the book--
Clerk: If you renew it over the internet you don't need the book.
Squelch: But you do if you bring it to the counter?
Clerk: Yes.
Squelch: (Pause.) You know that there are internet terminals right here in the library, right?
Clerk: Yes.
Squelch: And, in fact, you don't even have a card catalog anymore, just computers that access the catalog online?
Clerk: Yes.
Squelch: And I could log into one of those computers and renew my books myself, right here?
Clerk: Yes...
Squelch: But you can't do it at the counter unless I have the book with me.
Clerk: No.
Squelch: (Nods.) Well. Glad we cleared that up.
Clerk: Have a nice day, sir.
Squelch: You too.

Screw the statistics!

I pride myself on having rational responses to crises--or at least knowing when my responses aren't rational. For instance (though it didn't stop me from running to Silver Spring to rescue K), I knew that even after 9/11, the chances of being killed by terrorists was far less than being killed in a car accident.

Nevertheless, with these shootings happening in my proverbial backyard, a little paranoia is probably healthy.

I'm scared. There are no leads on this bastard. How can we get any? I hope, at least, it's just one nut. If it's two, as some of the early reports had it, then it's a conspiracy, and anyone who could convince someone else to join him in shooting innocent people is twice as dangerous.

D's afternoon preschool is cancelled. I hope we're safe in our home.

Sunday, October 06, 2002

Out Parading.

K and I watched A Hard Day's Night last night in a "very clean" DVD copy (I had bought it on Friday--there was no way I could resist once I saw it). K had never seen it before, and I was a little nervous that maybe she wouldn't like it, or wouldn't get it... she likes the Beatles, but not nearly as much as me. (My admiration of the Beatles is about on par with my lack of admiration of myself, so you get the idea.)

To my surprise, she was laughing out loud, and more often than I was the first time I saw it. So I guess I'll keep her.

It's somewhat embarrassing for such a rabid Beatles fan as myself, but I actually didn't see the movie 'til last year when it was re-released. I got a lot of grief about that from an old friend (you know who you are). But that does mean I'm one of the few people of my generation who saw it first in a theater.

Beatles trivia question for the day: what is the last Beatles song that features harmonica? (Turn this blog upside down for the answer.)
How the tree got into outer space is left as an exercise for the reader.
I'm happy! What the hell happened? It's such a strange, unnerving feeling. I don't quite know what to do when I'm actually in a Good Mood. Suggestions?

Saturday, October 05, 2002

No one can hear you scream... or laugh, or hiccup, or...

Usually on Friday nights I have band practice (rock 'n' marching, baby!) but yesterday it was a no-go, and so K sucked me into the new show from Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Firefly. It's a science fiction adventure story, in a far future where people zip from planet to planet, kind of an anti-Star Trek.

It has potential as a series, but for me, the most interesting and satisfying thing about it is that when you're out in space there are no sound effects. This is the only television series I've seen that handles the lack of sound in outer space accurately! Sound waves cannot be transmitted through the vacuum of space. If something explodes you wouldn't hear a bang. (If a tree falls in outer space, it doesn't make a sound.)

It was somewhat disconcerting at first, but boy, was it refreshing. I can only think of one other work of science fiction that did this, and that's 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Friday, October 04, 2002

Oh, shit! Someone went searching on Google for my father's name and wound up here. I'm suddenly hoping I never wrote about those parties I threw when he was away on business.
Everyone should use the word "Ahoy" in normal conversation. Did you know that Alexander Graham Bell suggested "Ahoy" as the preferred word with which to answer the telephone?

Thursday, October 03, 2002

Why do only the entries where I lay bare my depression in the worst possible way get responses from people?

(Nonetheless, thank you, Jen.)

I'd institute a comment system, but facing the zeros every day would be even more depressing than my entries.
The horror, the horror! (Laugh track.) Ahoy. So today there was a major tragedy here at chez Squelch. It sent us into paroxysms of fear, pain, weeping and wailing and so forth and so on. In fact, it may destroy our marriage, drive K to suicide, and send me to the loony bin (I hear St. Elizabeth's has nice beds and damn could I use a new pillow).

The tragedy? The new baby in the television show Friends is named "E."

But please know that we thought of the name before this fictional baby was born! And we don't even watch Friends! K had simply turned it on while I was out buying diapers! I mean, sure, back when we lived in Hyattsville with Doug our life seemed like a sitcom (and we would joke that people who came to visit were "crossovers" to boost our ratings), but today, we're strictly a costume drama on Masterpiece Theatre! (Excuse me, that's Exxon-Mobil Masterpiece Theatre now.)

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Today my adventures included fixing the dryer hose, cleaning dog shit off my shoes, figuring out whether to give D lunch or trust that he had a huge snack at nursery school. Not necessarily in that order.

And now, I sit here with a very awake E in my arms, typing this blog.

Wouldn't it be neat if I could use this blog to describe everything that I'm doing in real time? Of course, I don't have a laptop, so it would go something like this: "I'm sitting at my desk, typing this blog. Now, I'm sitting at my desk typing this blog. I wonder why nothing interesting is happening? Now I'm still sitting at my desk, typing this blog..."

E smiles far more than D did at this age. I wonder if D would have smiled more if he had been able to see. Or maybe it's just temperament. She has a wonderful smile, though. D has K's smile, and while that's a wonderful smile, too, I think E has mine. Which is nice. Of all the physical things about me, my smile may be the only thing I actually like.
Wow! A blog on the Supreme Court of the United States. I may well be checking there a bit.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

About twenty minutes ago.

So, I'm watering K's plants in the back yard, one of which is a hanging spider plant type thing in a pot about six inches in diameter. I'm about to pour when I notice something furry inside the plant.

Being a coward, I call K over. We gawk for a moment, and K tips the plant toward her for a better look.

The furball moves. "Oh, shit!" I cry.

"Hello, little guy," says K; the furball was in fact a featherball, a small bird who is now poking his head up, blinking like an infant awoken from a pleasant nap.

Suddenly present of mind, I say, "Camera." And immediately (I guess it was shutter-shy) the bird disappears, flapping away into the trees.

God, that would have been a beautiful shot. What a great way to end the day.
Clarence, you're a very wise man, you fucker. :)
Ack, it's time to cry again. What a worthless, talentless, piece-of-junk asshole I am. What a motherfucking dickhead I have become and what an incredible number of dreams have wound up discarded around me on the trash heap of life. What is wrong with me that I need this affirmation? Why am I so envious? When will I love myself as much as (I assume, I hope) others love me, and indeed I love others? No, screw all that; why haven't I achieved what I set out to do in life? What happened to the eighth grader who, the night after he acted in his first play, lay in bed and said "This is what I want to do with my life."

(Are you wondering what brought all this on? Take a guess.)

Happy October, if there are any of you left reading.

Yesterday was a bad day, but then Mondays always are. As I've explained before, D goes to two different schools on Mondays, and is usually pretty grumpy by the time he gets home. Yesterday, however, E was, too, so for at least an hour (I think) life was screaming and whining and throwing things...

Today was better. D's napping now (not a surprise since he awoke at 5 A.M.) and E napped most of the day. Now I just have to make dinner.

What a bore this must be to all of you. Sorry. If you want entertainment, go watch Buffy tonight.

This blog is just therapy for me anyway, but at the moment, the therapist is yawning and dropping its notebook, saying "I don't have time for you; take two Zoloft and call me in the morning."

Saturday, September 28, 2002

Depression is only mildly amusing. Had another nervous breakdown today. Well, maybe it wasn't quite a nervous breakdown, just a mildly trepidatious breakdown. Scream scream scream scream. I apologize that my blogs haven't been very entertaining lately (or, indeed, existent for the last couple days). As Anna would say, "I seem to have misplaced my funny."

Tired. I know, if you're tired you should include details so at least your exhaustion is entertaining. Well, sorry, the most trenchant adjective I can come up with at this level of sleep-deprivation is "ybliewwgbugwa." And that won't get me very far in the self-publishing community.


Wednesday, September 25, 2002

So much to do...
What is the threshold of betrayal beyond which forgiveness and reconciliation is impossible?

Just wondering.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Make an outline!

I don't know if it's just lack of sleep. I don't know if it's stress. I don't know a lot of things, including the proof to Fermat's Last Theorem, but that's not here nor there.

I do know that this afternoon I wanted to just put E in her crib and leave her there to cry.

I didn't, of course; I held her and soothed her and fed her. And she did stop crying at long last.

I had such great expectations for D's time at his pre-schools, and she comes along with her "I'm a seven week old but I don't take naps" attitude... Well, she does take naps, but only if someone is holding her.

At least I got a shower in today. Didn't get one of those last Friday. And I got lunch, too, which I didn't get yesterday.

I was probably too tired to write about it last night, but Mondays are the days that D goes to two schools--one in the morning and one in the afternoon, with only a forty-five minute break in between. If he refuses to eat what I've given him, he just doesn't eat. There isn't any time for second chances. He has generous snacks at both schools, at least, or so I assume, since he also refused to eat dinner.

The rest of the week, it's only one school per day--afternoons on Tuesdays and Thursdays, mornings on Wednesdays and Fridays.

I am very ambivalent about this. He loves the morning school (and I like it 'cause it's walking distance), but he has to go to the afternoon school (they're supposed to help his developmental delays). Is it too much, especially Mondays? We're paying for the morning school, and the county pays for the afternoon. So we could end the morning and save a bunch of dough. But is he better served by a developmental school where he's among the highest-functioning individuals, or a normal school where he can look up to kids who are at normal developmental rates?

And, while I agree that he's delayed, I really don't think he's as bad as he tests. He takes a while to get warmed up to situations, but is energetic and happy once he does so. And there's always the question: would he have been delayed at all if his eyesight wasn't so bad, and does that mean that, now that he has glasses, he shouldn't really be in a special school anymore?

I love the kid so much. I hope I don't screw him up. That's what fathers tend to do, don't they?

E, I think, will not be a problem. She's already gurgling and cooing in a way D wasn't doing at this age. If anything, she'll probably grow up too fast and start seeing men who are even worse than me. That's what daughters tend to do, don't they?

Monday, September 23, 2002

Irrational Exuberance.

E is growing by leaps and bounds (though her sleep schedule is erratic, as evidenced by the timestamp on this entry). You want proof? Damn you, just take it on faith, it's good enough for organized religion! There is no Baby but E and K is her Feeder!

Ahem. Okay, proof number one: She's already moved on to size 3 diapers. Proof number two: She's all snug in pajamas that are sized 3-6 months.

Big deal, you say. Oh, but did I mention she's only seven weeks old?

Even D didn't get this big this fast. I don't know what sort of steroids K has in her milk, but I want some.

Sunday, September 22, 2002

There are ENTIRE WORLDS hidden in the clutter on my desk.

Saturday, September 21, 2002

Oh, would anyone like to shoot me a copy of Final Cut Pro? My dumb-ass editing suite doesn't work under Mac OS X (and even for OS 9, you have to stretch the definition of "works").
Fix It In Post. A long, long time ago, Rex and I started a film called "The Biggest" based on a short story of his. Today was the final shooting day.

It had been over a year since the most recent shooting day. We're not doing this for our day jobs, obviously.

One of the characters drives a BMW, and one drives an 80s-era Honda Civic. The shots we needed were of each car driving (separately) into a parking garage, dramatizing therefore each character's arrival at work. For something so simple, it sure took a long long time to get around to.

I already have a rough cut, mind you, but without those two shots, the film wasn't done. Now it is, except for post-production details like the music.

About the Honda, which belonged to Rex's ex-fiance back in the day and was affectionately christed "Blue Rhonda": the last time it was run was during the last filming session, i.e. over a year ago. So there was some worry that she wouldn't start. Well, she did (with a little jumper cable help). I'm told the clouds of blue smoke were visible from the Space Shuttle.

But she made it to the parking garage and back to Rex's, though we were prepared to abandon her if need be. "That was her last hurrah," said Rex.

Wouldn't it just be poetic justice that the BMW was the one that broke down?

(It would be a better story if that actually had happened...)

Thursday, September 19, 2002

If you can't think, link. I am now addicted to Ms. Pac-Man all over again. Ah, the days in Norwalk's Lums restaurant, popping quarters into a cocktail-table version of the game!

I could of course go down the street to Beltway Plaza, where in the hallways are some of the most ancient video games known to man, including the Ms. and her husband.

And another thing in the world of video games: that old classic Mac game Crystal Quest is now available for the Palm OS. It's pretty good, too, according to K.
My wife has now had red hair for a week and a day.

It's looking better all the time.

(She told me to write the first sentence. I added the second.)

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

I really should blog at 6 in the morning when my mind is fresh. Fresh? Well, actually jumbled--jumbled with ideas, questions, etc. etc. If I wrote them down, maybe I wouldn't lose them so easily.

Alas! I spend all that time on silly things like, oh, breakfast.
Speaks Volumes. From the colophon to David Pogue's Mac OS X: The Missing Manual:
Due to an annoying and permanent wrist ailment, the author wrote this book by voice, using Dragon Naturally Speaking on a generic Windows PC.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Dweeb Marries Swede.

On this date in 1994, I got married. To my wife. K! Haven't you been listening? My beautiful, tall, formerly light-brown but now red-haired Swede of a wife. And after eight years and two kids, she's sexier than ever.

She's especially sexy when she empties the dishwasher before I wake up, as she did this morning. Ah, bliss!

If you're reading this, K (and shouldn't you really be working?), I love you with all my heart, and my heart keeps growing to make room.

I just can't believe you found your way to a dweeb like me...

Monday, September 16, 2002

D-Day. (K-Day?)

Today was K's first day at work and my first day alone with the kids. (Non-sequitur: D has fallen asleep on top of a pink flamingo. We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.) It went surprisingly well. First of all, E slept seven hours last night (WAAAHOOO!!!) and woke up just in time for K to feed her before she had to catch the bus (K, not E). D woke up, naturally, around six-thirty when E was crying, but after I changed her diaper, she fell asleep 'til 9:15. So for nearly three hours it was just me and D, territory I know well.

Oh, did I mention that I'm coming down with the fever and cold that K and D both had a few days ago? That did make things interesting, I admit, but on the whole, it wasn't too bad. Fortunately, K's taking it easy for the next couple weeks and only working part-time, so we picked her up at 12:30 from work. But even by then, I expected to be a nervous wreck. I was happy when my expectations weren't met.

My goodness, he's actually writing about a good day! Am I reading the right blog?

Now, we've just put E to bed, and I've got that weird, floating, dizzy feeling I always get when I have a slight fever. I hope I'll be able to sleep and wake up RESTED and REFRESHED and READY TO CONQUER IRAQ--I mean, THE NEW DAY!

On a wholly unrelated note (and I'm sorry to harp about my statistics again, but it's been a while), I've been getting over a hundred hits per week on average, which I'm quite psyched about. And what I'm even more psyched about is most of those hits are listed as "unknown" referrals--that is, someone didn't follow a link, they actually typed my name in their browser, so they're probably a regular reader. Well, if you're a regular, welcome to you! I'm happy to have you here. And the rest of you (except possibly the guy searching--twice--for Topless Boylan Studio ) are welcome to stick around as well.
Phew. We just got the phone bill from when E was born. I didn't expect to have to dip into her college fund quite so early.

Sunday, September 15, 2002

Self-esteem is an important quality. If anyone has some that they're not using, could I borrow it?
School shootings. My first play was a skit I wrote for the eighth grade play... the call went out for students to write comedy sketches, and I was the only one to respond. I wrote an adaptation of a friend's story as well as my own sketch and the teacher/director liked mine and used it alongside such greats as A. A. Milne, Eric Bentley, and Abbot and Costello.

My point is not to point out how wunderful my first play was, but to consider whether it would have been produced at all today. I can't remember what it was called--maybe "The Pearly Gates Association"?--but it was set in heaven, where a recently-killed individual confronts the Secretary of Heaven, who comes from New Yawk and has an attitude. It got a reasonable number of laughs, I think. Anyway, the lead-in showed the actual Death scene--the conceit was that the two guys who did "Who's on First" at the beginning were feuding throughout the show, and one of them shoots the other (offstage, but we did see the gun and hear the shots), which segued nicely into my skit. Now, in today's America, I doubt showing one eighth grader shooting another would fly.

But should it have, even then? I don't pretend to know the answer to that, or to even have an opinion. It's just something to wonder about.

Incidentally, I seem to have been fascinated with death in those days. Also in eighth grade, I wrote a short story called "Established A.D. 1" which dealt with the death of the main character. (This time he took a train to the afterlife.) What was going on back then, and how did I get past it?

Saturday, September 14, 2002

Why I'm a failure.

My first job out of college was at Syracuse Stage as an apprentice electrician. A theatrical electrician requires a bit less skill than a household electrician. Basically, I played with lights. I hung them from the ceiling ("grid"), pointed them at the actors ("focused"), and during shows I ran the light board ("light board").

I did not fit in well. This was less because I considered myself an actor and playwright, not a technician (I had got along in the tech world before, and would do so again), than because I didn't really like most of the people at this particular theater. It was the first Large Regional Theater I ever worked at, and it was also the year that the National Endowment for the Arts was under attack. The theater had budgeted in anticipation of an NEA grant that never materialized. So Money was on everyone's mind, not Art.

I took the job because I felt that I needed to a) make money and b) make contacts. I succeeded reasonably well on a), at least for someone used to salaries from theaters in central Maine. As for contacts, well... I was a beginning playwright trying to make contacts at a Big Regional Theater that was an island, basically... there was no theatrical "world" outside Syracuse Stage, and no like-minded peers that I could find. I didn't know, at the time, that I would have been better served going to a city and plunging into the fringe theater scene, building a reputation, and staging my own productions. Instead, I sucked up to half-rate professors at Syracuse U. and the occasional playwright who had a show on our main stage.

I took two people to lunch: one was Vittorio Rossi, who was a Canadian playwright whose play The Last Adam was on in January. It was, basically, an Arthur Miller show. At least we had something to talk about (I'm a huge Miller fan) but he didn't write the kind of plays that I wanted to. We had a good lunch and conversation. I gave him a copy of my full-length play I had written in college and never heard from him again.

Here I was doing exactly what I was supposed to do... getting in people's faces, picking their brains, then showing my stuff. And it was getting nowhere.

The second person was the director of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, a sentimental, tuneless musical based on Robert Fulghum's writings that the audience inexplicably loved. Again, lunch was great, and again he was happy to read my work--"Give it to me at opening, when I'll have time to relax." So, I did. And you could tell by the look on his face that it was just a brush-off, that he had hoped I forgot. I never heard from him, either.

I learned several lessons from that year. First, don't bother sharing your best work with people in power, because they will ignore you even if you write Hamlet. Second, don't try to do tech and be creative at the same time (unless you're a designer). People look at you and see a techie--only a techie. Third, contacts do no good if the people you've contacted are immediately going to another city while you have to stick around to run their show.

Aw, who am I kidding? There's only one lesson I took away from that year: I have no talent so I may as well give up. Sad, but true. So, the answer to the boldfaced question above: Why am I a failure? Me. I made the choice to go to Syracuse. I inferred the lessons learned there. And I sat on my hands for the next four years, getting more and more bitter about theater, and I'm the one who hunt-and-pecks to write this blog instead of a play, or novel, or screenplay.

What I should have done? Gone to a city. Before Syracuse, K and I were living near Boston--that would have done nicely. Maybe then I could have accumulated what I'm only starting to get now--a group of peers who respect me and appreciate what I'm good at, and who I could see commandeering a corner of the park to put on a show or grabbing a videocamera and making a film. Now I've got that, but it's too late. My creativity has been squeezed out of me, and I'm another failed playwright, like the rest of 'em.

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Hey, Clarence: if E doesn't go to sleep soon, I'll be opening that card. So stay tuned...
That's why he's a Beatle, and I'm just a f--ing blogger. John Lennon once sang:
I'm so tired, I haven't slept a wink
I'm so tired, my mind is on the blink
I wonder, should I get up and fix myself a drink?
No, no, no.

If I had written that song, here's how it would have been:
I'm so tired

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

The one that got away. I wrote a really witty blog entry last night, and then the browser crashed. Here's a facsimile of what I wrote.

Molly linked to me again. I'm starting to get a little anxious about all this attention. Maybe it's just that back and forth about affairs that got me thinking this way: Are we stealing furtive glances over the blog-o-sphere? Will her husband find out and punch me in the Blog of Nose? Will my wife get suspicious and hire a private inblogstivator?

Still, I'm grateful that I made "The REAL Blogs of Note," even if it's just a fling. Once I roll off 'em, I'll lose half my traffic.

Still (to address the actual CONTENT), A Kitchen in Brabant is indeed an excellent read.

I still haven't found what I'm looking for (to quote U2 quoting a cliche), though, which is a blog by another stay-at-home Dad. After all, I need someone to commiserate with about diapers, kids, and my imminent heart attack.

It was better last night.
PTSD? The tears started--where else?--reading the comics. Just the stupid tributes were enough to set me off. And then I did what I swore I wouldn't do--turned on the television. ABC, at least, was somewhat tasteful and laid off the mournful, manipulative music and human-interest stories.

To hell with the rest of the world's opinion. I'm an individual, and it still hurts.
My friend Mike sent me this response to my entry about the 11th:
"All of my friends are radical pacifists who say that we didn't respond
appropriately afterward."

Not quite all. ;)

True enough, and he's one of the few folks who has a right--well, not a right, everyone has a right, but let's say a perspective--to comment on those events.
And at this moment one year ago, I was probably remarking "What a gorgeous day! Really should get D outside..."

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Still thinking about it. I guess at some point every blogger has to do a commemorative post about September 11, so this is mine. I just don't feel honest enough to do it justice, though I suppose I'm more morally clean than all the television producers who are making a buck on 3,000 deaths.

All of my friends are radical pacifists who say that we didn't respond appropriately afterward. Well, they're entitled to their opinion. But I think that attitude is as stupid as saying "Well, we should continue negotiating with the Japanese" on December 8, 1941.

I can't stand George Bush and most of his policymakers, and I think the concept of a war with Iraq is fundamentally flawed. But I still, a year later, want our military to hunt down the organization that did the attack and kill them. If that makes me a warmonger, so be it. It's good enough for al-Quaeda.

I still believe the attacks weren't just an act of terror, but an act of war. I'm too tired to be articulate and, as I said, I didn't lose anyone in the attacks, nor was I near the Trade Center or the Pentagon, so I don't even have a right to an opinion in some sense. But every time I hear some radical leftist (and I used to be one myself!) say that WE'RE to blame for the attack, or get worked up over innocent deaths in Afganistan...

Why the fuck didn't you get worked up over the innocent deaths in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania? Is it only bad to kill innocents outside the U.S.? Or is it only bad for Westerners to kill innocent people--everyone else gets a pass? And maybe, just maybe, 9/11 wasn't the fault of shortsighted policy, but the fault of the 19 (or more) twisted people out to kill us for no other reason than our nationality?

Monday, September 09, 2002

Sunday, September 08, 2002

GO TO BED. I will say that my mood seems to clearly depend on sleep. Yesterday (at least until the walk) I was a wreck, and this evening (until my snack of MAC N CHEESE!) I was in despair over a visit from the ***deleted-in-case-they-read-this***. So perhaps, it's more accurate to say my mood depends on food and exercise...

I'm gonna write about the Gonnas' performance on Friday. I just can't do it right now.

Tell me I'm a good man.
I haven't been getting to sleep early enough lately. So I apologize that I have little bloggage to provide today.

I will say, though, that I have recently enjoyed reading blogs from other stay-at-home parents:

Inane Comments
Froggie's This and That

And that's all the rolling I'm doing today, except for the joints of course. (Joke.)

Saturday, September 07, 2002

I'm not making this up. Took a hike through Greenbelt Park t'day, with both kids and the dog. D was running along the trail with great abandon.

Squelch: It must be nice for him to hike, now that he can see.

K: Yeah, I can't imagine how it would be without his glasses.

Squelch: Yeah.

K: He'd be tripping over every tree trunk in sight.

(Cue D, who trips over a tree trunk as K says "sight.")

Friday, September 06, 2002

It's open mic night tonight at the New Deal Cafe, and three of the four Gonnas are gonna be there. How a rock-n-roll band will go over at a folky restaurant remains to be seen.

Thursday, September 05, 2002

I wrote this in a text editor at 10 A.M. today, but my DSL connection has been nostalgic for the days of 300 baud modems, so I haven't posted it until now. (Even now it's creeping along at a few hundred bytes per second.)

Oh, my gosh, what happened to our beautiful little boy?

Right now, after throwing toys (that's one) and hitting our dog twice (that's two and three) he's in his room screaming at the top of his lungs.

He was the perfect kid (well, mostly) until he got a sister.

Please, is there anyone out there who's lived through this and can tell me that it will end?

Things got better after I wrote that... but not much.

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

There, that's much better.
Hm. I found a problem. The date header shows only one date--today's. Wonder how that happened?
Whew! Always keep a backup of your template, kids. While changing my Seal of Approval blogs, I somehow deleted my template entirely. (I still don't know HOW or WHY that happened.) I rebuilt it and it appears to work, but if there are any problems, do let me know.

Next week: in the style of Jerry Springer.

Golly, I've never been involved in a blog back-and-forth before. It's actually quite invigorating, if difficult to keep civil.

"Issue One!" says John McLaughlin, "The One About Affairs. Mor-ton, is Squelch A) judgemental, or B) completely misunderstood, when he takes Molly to task for her handling of her failed marriage?"

"Completely misunderstood, John. Squelch wasn't talking about her situation, but that of his best friend, where the spouse left after meeting an old flame she hadn't seen in twenty-five years, and when, by her own admission, she had been happy in the marriage until this 'gentleman' who she knew at fifteen called her out of the blue."

"Eleanor! Judgemental ass, or misunderstood poet?"

"Judgemental ass, John. Of course he has every right to leap to his friend's defense, but he has no idea what was going through the spouse's mind, and that, I think, is the point Molly is trying to make. The spouse may have said she was happy, but how can Squelch enter into her mind and know the truth--or even enter into their relationship and know the truth?"

"Answer," says McLaughlin, "Squelch is a misunderstood judgemental ass. He was talking about an individual case, but by unfairly comparing that case with Molly's story, he gave the impression that All Vows Are Created Equal, a ridiculous assertion for which he deserves to be censured. Issue Two! Has Squelch gone too long without being self-piteous? After our break."


In English, for those of you who aren't familiar with The McLaughlin Group. Molly said:

[Squelch's] argument will of course be that I made the vows, and I should have been prepared to live up to them. My excuse that I was young and stupid when I made the vows holds no water.

Ouch. Well, I guess I deserve that. But no, that wasn't my argument. After all, I don't know Molly from a hole in the wall (though she's a far better writer than your average hole in the wall). But I do know my friend, and I can't think of any justification for what he's been through. (They weren't young and stupid when they got married, after all.) But I apologize for the comparison; it was unfair, as John said. And I acknowledge that there's no way I can peek into anyone's relationship and know the Whole Truth.

K and I were young and stupid when we made our vows (though I think K would disagree). Fortunately for us, we both got smart at the same rate and in complementary ways. We still have our troubles, but we're doing the happily ever after thing. Nonetheless, I'm the first to recognize how lucky we are, and how that isn't the case for many folks. So, sorry, Molly; I didn't intend to judge you.

Astute readers will note that I've removed Fauxhemian from my Seal of Approval list and replaced it with The Umbrella Stand. I love people who aren't afraid to tell me when they think I'm full of it.