<= 2004.04

2004.06 =>

[MAY 2004.]

a bridge burnt

You all are very nice. Thank you.

Leaving for New Mexico tomorrow. As for the person whom I shall refer to by the initial π, for she is an irrational number—I don't pretend to understand what she really thinks or feels, and I still believe that she at least meant well. But it has become clear that our pretense at friendship is pretense and nothing more. You do not live fifteen blocks from your friends and never see them. You do not have to schedule appointments with your friends a week in advance. I really don't know what she does with her time now—this is how tenuous our connection has become—but I no longer figure in it. So let's call things by their names.

I do not think I'm to blame for this one. I don't claim sainthood, but I have always tried to conduct these awkward post-relationship periods with as much consideration as I could muster, and in general it's worked. My best friends are my exes. You can ask them. Those of you who know me also know that I really do hate interpersonal conflict, that I will bend over backward to make allowances if at all feasible, but this once I will come out and say it: she has been, if not malicious, incredibly thoughtless, and this is without even considering that if she had told me the truth about her feelings a little earlier, I never would have moved here. I think the friendship is torpedoed, and I think it's her fault.

I have brewed myself a bitter draught with this entry. Tonight I will have to drink it—after that, God willing, I will begin to look forward. Back on Tuesday.


eyes with nothing to gaze on

I'm sorry—I too hoped that I would find reasons to live during the vacation, but in fact everything is worse than before. I am not half as well as I thought, and every time I'm on an airplane part of me hopes that it will crash.

This site may still be on vacation, or not. I don't know. I have to go to New Mexico in a couple of days. The beginning of June should bring a return to form, anyway, if you miss it.


the happy valley

The dude in Bombay is, of course, blatantly ripping off an annual contest that Canadians have been doing for several decades now. Notably, the Canadians would actually *publish* their favorite 72-hour novel every year...

Indeed! Though some of their literary scholarship is a bit suspect.

Ernest Hemingway wrote The Torrents of Spring in a fit of inspiration that kept him going from the 20th to the 26th of November 1925. Just to show that it wasn't a fluke he wrote Rasselas in 7 days in 1951. This time, however, it was the need to pay for his mother's funeral rather than the touch of the muse which kept him going.

The second part of that paragraph is true enough, assuming you replace "Ernest Hemingway" with "Samuel Johnson" and "1951" with "1759." I can't speak for their other claims—though I have no doubt that Stephen King could dash off a novel in 72 hours, once upon a time. I can't find any bits of 3-day novels online, which is a shame. I was hoping they would all read like Rasselas.


surveiller et punir

It has emerged that two of the MPs implicated in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal have worked as corrections officers in the United States. One hopes and prays that nothing like the horrors of Abu Ghraib happened on their watches at home. Nevertheless, the very fact that American prison guards were involved in such barbarism abroad raises a question that ought to disturb all of us: Is what happened in Iraq in any way typical of what happens in domestic American punishment?


the belletristic sausage grinder

Some dude in Bombay has gone NaNoWriMo one better with The Great Mahakali Write-A-Thalon.

Quite simply, you need to finish your own novel or screenplay within 58 hours, sleep included. And to register, send an email to Rohit Gupta. Time starts 14th May 0900 AM and ends 16th May 0700 PM.


Scripts must be minimum 80 standard-formatted pages in length and novels must exceed 35,000 words. (subject to change with prior notification).

There's a certain imbalance here. I mean no disrespect to the dramatic art when I say that an 80-page script can be written an awful lot faster than a 35,000-word novel; that's not saying it would be any good. But having to write things like descriptions and scene transitions really slows down the old gears. The mere physical act of typing that many words in 58 hours would be deathly exhausting. Which isn't to say I wouldn't try, if I lived in Bombay, New York, Dublin, or Ahmedabad.


thin ice

World-famous guitar wanker Joe Satriani has apparently come down in the world; according to the color xerox pasted to the door of the guitar store around the corner from my apartment (of the potentiometer scandal), he's playing a free show there in a couple of weeks. Afterwords he will hang around to sign his album. Or maybe this is just his way of giving something back.

Joy, in the form of recording equipment, continues to arrive in the mail; microphones and tube preamps and digital audio converter boxes. I only half know what I'm going to with all of it.


32.1 ft/sec², brick wall

what word count is your novel actually approaching?

If only I knew. Originally "about 100,000" was the number I was giving people, but I think it wants to be longer. I don't know exactly how far it's going to push me but I really hope to keep it under 150,000, cause I ain't trying to sell anyone a doorstop.

One of Portland's thousand-odd startup bands has started practicing in the house across the street. Their singer/screamer is female and I think is being tuneless on purpose; at least that would fit with the general aesthetic around here. I'm not making any sense. I have to eat something.


a cry for kelp

Fought the laptop for a while last night, and played the organ through it for about a half hour without anything crashing. Encouraged! Then I dreamt of taking it into the computer store for an upgrade, and discovering that it contained a big hairy repulsive spider that made all the important processing decisions. "This surprises you?" asked the computer guy. "Think about it: how could a laptop run without a spider?"

This game theory of dating website, or whatever it is, says it will calculate the number of American singles you must meet before finding your soulmate. I was intrigued, but then I found myself unable to fill it out. I really, really, really don't want to know. They seem to have it all figured out, though.

Tactics To Reduce Your Risk of Being Dumped

1. Make sure lover's net benefit with you is larger than competing love.
2. Keep lover's search cost for another love high by limiting his/her social network size.
3. Lower lover's attractiveness by undermining his/her financial success.
4. Keep lover's maintenance cost with you lower than competing love.
5. Lower lover's risk of being dumped by confessing your love often.
6. Show commitment using a promise or engagement ring.
7. Become jaded. Grow thick skin and get a heart of stone. Become immune to being dumped.
8. Pursue people who are shy, unattractive, or unwanted.


fatal beauty

The other day Erik and I dropped by the club that we're playing next weekend in order to drop off some flyers; and we confirmed that, yup, it is a strip club most of the time. The lady behind the bar, who I had talked to on the phone a couple of times, was awfully nice. "Don't worry," she said, "the pole comes off the stage." Typical acts include the fire dancers and the reverse stripper performance artist who clothes herself in duct tape and trash bags over the course of her act. Presumably such imaginative fare is why Exotic Online only just named it the best strip club in Portland. Anyway, we'll do what we can. Even without the pole.



Continue. Walk through the damp gray air. It's not overly cold; it's a pleasure.

Quota has been raised to a thousand words daily. Occasionally I recall that at some point I'm supposed to move to California and restart an academic career, but this knowledge is usually eclipsed by the incidentals. I would really be a happy monkey if I could finish this bastard by July.

Video card has been brought back to life. Tentatively. But the new Hammond organ emulator I got is crashing my laptop, which is tragic, because it sounds so cool for the thirty seconds or so before it dies. Time to wipe and reformat again, I suppose; maybe try a different operating system. Maybe sell everything and record twelve songs with just a ukelele.


Got an apologetic email back from Berkeley this morning, saying that unfortunately the department didn't get the travel funds they expected and hence will be unable to reimburse my airfare. Right. Also my car stereo was stolen two days ago and my cheap-ass video card is crapping out after a couple minutes of the computer being turned on, and hey presto! the text is barely legible.

I guess this is why I have to go write some more. Last night I was asked over the phone what I wanted my writing to be, and I was as surprised as anyone when I responded, "Something that I can live off." It was barely two years ago that I was still thinking about forging in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race, and all that; but since leaving the program I have sunk, by my own estimation, about $40,000 into these damn books, and it would be nice to see some return. Pragmatism doesn't take long to assert itself, not when you're trying to pay the rent.


benefit as willingness to pay

Here's another legal shocker: if you are in Milam County, Texas, and some cheap hussy smokes all your crack cocaine and takes off without performing the agreed-upon sexual favors, the police will not help you find her.


the lake bed

May Day! May Day! Workers of the world unite!

No water out west. I can see Phoenix and Las Vegas in 150 years: suburban ghost towns, block after block of identical pale houses empty and open to the dust and wind. At that point maybe the U.S. government would just give Mexico its land back.


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