Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Forest

We went for a drive out to Shelby Forest today, a longstanding wish. I love to see creatures and a lot of creatures hang out in the forest. It took about 45 minutes to reach the forest and we passed through urban sprawl, rusted fire escapes, poor neighborhoods, two teenagers wandering along a railway track, broken buildings behind them.

Hannah had been to the forest to take peyote with Indians at one of the Taking Peyote With Indians events. These events feature people taking peyote with Indians, hence the name. I pondered what my heart would do if a real life Indian jumped out of the bushes. I figured my heart would stop beating.

We parked up and started along a trail towards the Indian camp. I could hear weird things buzzing around my US Space & Rocket Center baseball cap, I could hear weird rumbles from the bushes and the trees, I could hear what sounded like BEARS and COUGARS and LIONS. I got scared.

"Can we go back to the car? I hear bears..."
"There are no bears in this part of the world, Jase..."
"Back in Britain, it's safer, the only dangers in the woods are sex perverts..."

Total time spent in the forest - 7 minutes

We drove round some more. Most of the creatures I got to see were dead, squashed in the road.

"Hey, a snake!"

Brrrm, brrrm.

"Hey, a rabbit!"

Brrrm, brrrm.

"Wow! An armadillo!"

Then we saw three wild turkeys. They were alive. They flew off gracefully.

Past a cotton field, we reached a spot where you can park up next to the Mississippi. There were some vans and trucks already parked up, an old red sedan with the windows open.

We got out. There were two Mexicans who seemed to be doing nothing but doing nothing in a sinister way. One kept stroking his shorts. When you are with your wife, in an isolated spot on the Mississippi, you don't want to watch a Mexican stroke his shorts. Actually, wherever you are, you never want to watch a Mexican stroking his shorts. The other Mexican just wandered around, like he was being guided by alien intelligence to follow some unfathomable pattern.

The river was intense, forest on the other side, Arkansas, magnificent water.

A third Mexican stumbled out of the bushes like he'd just killed someone; he was clutching a beer bottle. He headed for the red car. He waved his hand at me. I waved back.

"Hey man! Great day..."

He got a fresh beer out of the car and popped it.

The river was still intense, the feeling was being spoiled by the strange looking chain-drinking Mexican stood 10 metres away. He started wandering over. We made our escape.

Below, I have reproduced his getup visually. I want you to imagine meeting this man on the bank of a mighty river, many miles from civilisation, having told no-one where you were going that day.

Monday, May 30, 2005

David Foster DooDah #2

I sent my David Foster Wallace novel back to Penguin Books with this note. I would encourage anyone else who buys a duff book to do the same. Perhaps write CRAP in big letters across a random page to discourage reselling.

Dear Penguin Books

Please find enclosed my copy of David Foster Wallace's The Broom of the System. This novel is so poor that I have opted to simply return it to the publishing house who were foolish enough to permit its release.

In all my reading life, I have never come across a writer so intent on parading his limited resources of intelligence so relentlessly. The novel is like being stuck in an elevator for a month with a precocious five year old.

Would you please refund the $15.00 US dollars I wasted on this travesty. Would you also place me on any David Foster Wallace mailing or email list, so that I may receive adequate warning of any future offences he plans to commit against the English language.

Yours sincerely,

Jason Kennedy

Sunday, May 29, 2005

A Strange Success

I'm very happy today. I've been hammering away on the exercise bike and doing weights for the last few weeks. I was wondering how much improvement I had made, so I took out my King of the Hill t-shirt, that didn't fit me when I bought it a month ago.

Now it fits beautifully.

It's great to look in the mirror and behold a small success such as this, to know that the changes in my body are not just in my imagination, but real, with real consequences.


Now I'm going to celebrate with catfish dinner, one of my little favorites.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Tiny Theories #1

Here we are. This came to me while watching TV. Have you noticed how loud the commercials are compared to the shows? Sometimes they're twice as loud and it's terrifying, particularly when the ads use Heavy Metal Guitar.

My theory is that it's the companies who make Batteries behind all this, as we sure seem to run down the batteries in the Remote Control in doublequick time catering for this.

Now I'm waiting to see the next ad for batteries - I bet it's the loudest

(Alternatively, the batteries ad may be deliberately quiet, to stop people working out the TRUTH)

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Scrabble and Bo Biceps

I have had a struggle lately with my motivation. I will be able to say why in another month, but it's here and now that the effects are being felt. My blog is being drained of energy as a consequence.

I wish I could forget about everything, like a red cardinal or a salamander, and just go about in the world. Instead, I have wrestled with an addiction to internet scrabble and feelings of ineffectiveness.

Two words people commonly challenge in my scrabble games - ENOW and HISN - aren't they just delightful. It may be no use looking up these words in Websters as the Scrabble Dictionary now contains a number of words that were simply invented by the Scrabble Overseers. Words such as SKLENTS. So, SKLENTS means nothing other than a 50 point bonus when you play it on a scrabble board. On a personal level, I think this is a shoddy way to go, but Scrabble People get bored after learning all the words ever, and the Scrabble Dictionary People want to Update and Revise and Have an Excuse for Selling More Scrabble Dictionaries.


I've gone back to writing my novel, wondering if I should do as the Scrabble people do and add in some non-existent words. I could then publish a small dictionary of JasonSpeak to accompany my novel, two income streams, hell yeah! Maybe not

* American Idol *

We sat and watched Bo lose on American Idol. We kind of love Bo, it's a special man who can carry off strutting around in leather pants. Take myself, for example, I can't strut, with or without leather pants (actually, I can't say WITH, as i've never worn leather pants and have no real wish to). So, more accurately, I can't strut, and I don't think leather pants would help me to strut.

Now I think about it, and have searched on GOOGLE - no-one is offering strutting lessons out there, even though it's an Amazing Skill to have. I guess guys who can strut just won't share their secrets. Damn them.

So Bo is special, anyway, but he lost. A girl with teeth that don't quite fit in her mouth won instead. So it goes.

Monday, May 23, 2005

I can stay in the US!

Home again, home to Memphis, and waiting here, confirmation that I can stay, a plastic card, jampacked with security features, a fingerprint, and a little snapshot of me. Hooray! Now I can hitch myself to the great wheel of Capitalism on U.S. soil.

Friday, May 20, 2005

An All-American piece of tail...

Here I am, with Hannah, and with tail. This particular tail derives from a squirrel foolhardy enough to try entering the backyard.

With one squeeze of the trigger on his 1000ft/per second air rifle, Steve, my father-in-law, sent it straight to heaven.

Thursday, May 19, 2005


Another day, another trip out.

Today, me and wifey went to The US Space & Rocket Center at Huntsville, Alabama. The drive there was interesting in its own right, passing through little outposts of civilisation, beholding all manner of residences; trailer parks, abandoned tar-paper shacks, the odd flock of carports, the country-oriented bumper stickers - "Coon Hunter", the shiny arrangements of lawnmowers and tractors, and beyond it all, the profusion of trees in this lush part of the planet.

On an empty stretch of road, Hannah said, "Here's where I saw a coyote." I looked at the empty stretch of road again.

You can see the top of a Saturn V rocket as you approach the Space Center, you can glimpse a space shuttle (not a genuine one, but a full-scale fiberglass rendition) through the trees. The excitement was palpable. Inside, shifting global realities make themselves felt, you're informed by a crumpled typed notice beside the ticket desk that "due to the events of 9/11 the Marshall Space Center part of the US Space & Rocket Center is no longer open to the public" - this contrasts with the US Army walk-through exhibit that stands to attention at the museum entrance, anxious to demonstrate how being able to Kill People in all manner of environments, using all kinds of exploding devices and delivery methods, is a pretty laudable thing. Inside a cabinet, three military mannekins stand, one in an absurdly seductive futuristic, "Let's Go Out and Kill People Now, with Lasers!" outift. I was sold on it at any rate.

We wandered around, like people at museums do, looking at our map. We started off in the space shop, checking out the space-related goodies they had on offer. These included sew-on patches with various space-insignia on it - I thought these would look great sewn onto my Knight Rider jacket, and Hannah did not come out with the objections of that being the behaviour of a Five Year Old that I had anticipated. I marked them down as purchases for the end of the day. I couldn't fight off the wish to cover my voluminous hair with a cap, so I snagged myself a Space Center baseball cap for 9 bucks, in blue and red, too smart!

We invaded the Food Court next, our hungry bellies singing a song that featured the words "Feed ME!" in pretty much every line. I was worried that they would only serve space-food, you know, powdered chicken broth etc, and you'd be required to eat in zero-gravity. Thankfully, it was simple fast food and we settled down to eat the ubiquitous Burger and Fries at the ubiquitous Circular Table and Uncomfortable Chairs - blissssss.

We toured the exhibits, it was bemusingly amazing stuff, I couldn't get the magnitude of all the sensational sights into my brainbox. We walked past the Saturn V rocket, an immense, 1,000,000 lbs 3-part monster of engineering, that had sent people out there, into space (the new Airbus weighs a similar amount), we saw a replica of the Lunar Module parked in a replica of the Moon's surface - "Here's where it was filmed," I commented, half-expecting my remark to trigger a sensor that would activate a robot voice to say, "That's the 343,235th time someone has made that 'joke', Earthman..." but nothing happened...

Some Buddhist monks were walking around, getting excited and videoing things. I wondered what they were thinking - had they finished their exploration of inner space and were now getting busy with outer space??? Were they here to laugh at the, to their eyes, crude methods of traversing huge distances, while they preferred the more pastoral and economically prudent approach of sitting on a mountain and getting high on nature as a springboard for negotiating the cosmos. Who could say? Nice robes, though.

There was a glass cabinet with Hugo Award winning sci-fi novels on display - there was Brave New World! sitting among all this paraphernalia of American scientific endeavor... and over here, Look! A MIR space station that you can walk into and view the controls, the strange alphabet pulsing over the ancient computer screens, the exercise bike in the ceiling, and the noble "Plant Experiment" - a selection of variously sized carrots behind bulletproof glass.

It was getting late by now, but still the cool stuff kept coming, the EMU, a backpack that allows an astronaut to go for a solo flight in space, the Apollo 16 splashdown module, a rounded pyramidal form, its orignial black scorched by the power of the Sun and the burn on re-entering Earth's atmosphere - there it was, centimetres away behind glass, something that had been to the Moon and back, inspiring.

We returned to the spaceshop and loaded up on T-shirts, patches, mugs, fleeces, etc, and then set off for home.

That evening, in the backyard, I looked up at the half-moon over Sheffield, Alabama, and it did feel different - more magical again.

Celtic music in the South

Tonight we went to see an up-and-coming Irish band, Teada, over in Florence, Alabama, at a venue that used to be a barn and is now a scrubbed-up performance space.

Hannah was concerned that we check in the newspaper that the band was not the same five guys we saw sawing and hacking through Irish tunes at the Memphis in May festival of Irish culture. Praise be, they were not.

The place was full, full of adults, full of people in sensible clothes. The bartender had this strange way of acting, like each time I asked him for a beer it was the first time in all his time on earth that anyone had placed such a strange demand upon him.

The band came out and started up and the night truly began. These guys were excellent - they acknowledged Planxty by playing one of their tunes, and they were spot on with the musicianship and banter. It was fun to see the ancestral memories of many of the audience being stirred and at the interval the dash for the CDs was more intense than the crush for the bar.

The moral of this short post is simple - If you get a chance to see Teada play for yourself, give it a go!

(Still working on the Terri Schiavo presentation...)

Monday, May 16, 2005


The trip away has begun, we're holed up in Alabama once again, for the first time since the wedding.

Hannah moans that she wants a cigarette. I said, "Hannah gets huffy / when she can't have puffy" to widespread acclaim. Someone giving up smoking doesn't tend to appreciate silly rhymes.

We played tennis in a good spot. Hannah made me buy a peanut bar, the implication being that we do not have peanut bars in Europe. I ate it as though I've never eaten a peanut bar before, saying things like, "Wow! What is this?" and "Damn, this is fine!"

Hannah was videoed doing her Terri Schiavo impression and we are now discussing whether this should be released on to the web. It is kind of amusing but obviously walks a dangerous line in its lack of taste. Perhaps I will trail a still from the performance and see what people think.

Steve has shot a few squirrels, he wants to cut off a squirrel tail and pin it to the antenna on Hannah's car. It's a noble aim, but so far the squirrels have been injured but not killed outright, so they keep managing to make it out of the yard. The yard is beautiful, all kinds of plants and a pond, too, with relaxing carp swimming around. Colorful birds land on the fence and use the feeder, butterflies do their flitting, the cats loll in the sun, it's idyllic (when Hannah is not sat nearby, moaning about wanting cigarettes).

I hope everyone else is having a great summer, too!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

A Fire Ant Speaks...

I received an interesting email from a Fire Ant, pictured below, concerning my criticisms earlier this week, both of the fire ant that bit my knee (in an unprovoked attack) and of fire ants in general.

Here is the text of the message, reproduced in full. Any typographical or factual errors are the fire ant's, not mine.

*** Dear Unction

It saddens me to be sat here at my desk in my anthill, tapping the keys of my IBM Thinkpad, it saddens me so much that I am crying like a baby. While fire ants are perhaps new to YOU, and your first meeting with my comrades did not go well, Extreme Unction holds a special place in the heart of all fire ants, being both a source of happy thoughts on dark days (like the time a man poured boiling water on 10,000 of us) and of educational merit (I don't have tonsils, but after reading about tonsils, I was 1) greatly informed by your comments, and 2) greatly relieved NOT to have tonsils.

So, it is against this background of fond regard that I now find myself saddened and angry. Yes, angry. Because in your hurtful comments about fire ants in general, and in your abusive and downright murderous treatment of one of our kind, you have ripped away the veil and revealed yourself as a goddamn Fire Ant Hater! And while we still struggle for the same rights as that of other US citizens, your behavior sets our cause back on its tiny ass. You pander to every stereotype of the vicious fire ant, that, without the slightest provocation, latches on to your person and clamps its jaws upon a fleshy bit. Did you ever stop and think about your own behaviour? That maybe you are not so innocent in this. You say yourself that you were Walking. Hmmm, could your walking have perhaps included treading on and killing a few fire ants? Perhaps you didn't notice, perhaps you don't care, perhaps you don't think it's important to LOOK WHERE YOU ARE GOING. Well, in your arrogance, hear this! It matters a lot to TINY ANTS on the floor where you are going to place your huge killer feet next. It is literally a matter of LIFE OR DEATH!

Without knowing the full facts of your case, I cannot say what motivated a fellow fire ant to clamp to your knee. I certainly don't think your summary execution was justified. Do you go around killing everything smaller than yourself? It seems a queer way to live.

Personally, I am not a killer, I just take the odd sip of blood from larger creatures. Be honest, it's not like you can't afford to spare a few drops. Why be so mean? And there's nothing vicious about myself or my many thousands of fire ant friends, we just want to live. For instance, if I am supposed to be so vicious, then why would I have spent so much of my short life studying Eastern philosophies and pondering the dazzling mystery of creation. I have written a number of meditative and sometimes illuminating essays, on everything, from Sufi mysticism to Celtic tree-worship. Does this sound like the preoccupations of a cold-blooded killer? (although I have to concede that my blood is indeed cold).

I am trying to force the idea into your closed mind that fire ants are more diverse in their interests than you may realise, that biting humans is but a small part of our daily routine, perhaps less than 50% on any given day.

I doubt you'll print this message, it interferes with your demonisation of the Fire Ant, but I shall sleep more soundly in my ant hill tonight knowing that I fought nobly to protect both my own reputation and that of my species.

yours sincerely

Vincent Palatini, Fire Ant

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

David Foster DooDah #2

A few things to mention. One - Hannah has given up smoking on account of the widespread panic caused in our place by The Curious Incident of the Lump in the Mouth. It's now two days without a cigarette, a commendable amount of time.

We went to the Post Office today and we needed some help. There's something about sending packages, etc, maybe it's just the air inside post offices, but the intellectual capacities of anyone who walks into a post office with a package in their arms is severely diminished. By the time we reached the desk we were a pair of dribbling morons.

The Post Office woman treated us to a display of Total Rudeness, speaking to us like criminals. After about 1 minute of this, Hannah said, "Jason, let's go somewhere else, there are plenty more Post Offices." I advised the woman, "You're not being very helpful, ma'am." She looked genuinely shocked, like someone who has had a blue face for their whole life but is only told this strange fact on their deathbed.

"Oh my! A blue face??? Why didn't anyone say?"

Rude People go to Hell.

We went to the BookBank, the BookWorm Woman there is now even thinner. My theory is she wants to become as thin as possible and then market herself as some kind of Human Bookmark. Or maybe she plans to hide inside a pile of rare books and be transported to a glamorous private library. She will then slither out and burn the place down. Not a trace of her remains... a secret story... I bought a copy of Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (I cannot believe I have never made it right the way through this) and Sister Carrie, by Theodore Dreiser. I must be the only person who is NOT an english student reading these things. I'll be wearing a top hat and traveling by horse and carriage at this rate.

I am still reading David Foster Wallace, The Broom of the System - it's, in pathetico reviewerspeak, like "Douglas Coupland with Brain Cells after Metafiction 101" - there is just something so annoying about it. I'm not convinced it's actually all that clever, it's a selection of jokes stitched together and I can see where the jokes came from, for the "Desert in Ohio", why not just go and read Our Gang by Philip Roth. Then there's something left over from Pynchon, and Coupland, like I say. "Oh, look at the turn-taking and fluctuating power-relations among four female students, the economy of desire and desirability transcribed by the looseness/tightness of a bathrobe..." would say the English teacher...

I say - "STOP! Give me better jokes or just tell your story, give me better writing or just tell your story. Because you're really not hitting the funnybone or being inventive with words. William H Gass can kick your Ass with one sentence... so STOP!"

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Fire Ant wants my Blooooood....

It's great, it's amazing, it's fantastic. Once the work is over and there is free time, up jump a load of boring things to do, packages to forward, oil filters and other unmentionables to replace on the car, a pile of socks that have lain their a century or so, now begging to be washed, etc.

Amazing sunshine and the jumble of signs out towards Covington Pike. There's the Sunshine building, the ugliest building on the Pike, supposedly, and I think it's just fine, huge spherical suns wearing shades. Hannah thinks the Honda dealership is cooool, because it has a wavy frontage set against the core of the building, a sombre grey cube. Hard to think that's inspiring... but we're not out in the noonday heat to be inspired. We are guided by higher forces and today that higher force is guiding us to the Ear, Nose & Throat Clinic. Why???

Why??? Because Hannah has revealed that she has had a lump on the roof of her mouth for a few months and this has freaked me out. I've demanded that it is sorted immediately, so here we are (maybe I'm the higher force!)... after a night of no sleep, but not sleepless, lots of trying, the occasional tiny success, but mostly rolling around, mumbling to each other, tensed up.

The conclusion of the doctor's examination is that there's nothing to worry about. Hannah has the romantic sounding phenomenon of a torus palatini, in plainspeak that's an uncalled-for excess of bone stationed on the roof of the mouth. There's no need for any further action. You have to understand this is a huge relief. Hannah spent the last 24 hours staring at tumours and researching her chances of survival. I spent the last 24 hours saying, "Hannah! Cut that out! Don't stare at that stuff, it's not the right attitude..."

We head out to celebrate and get some oil for the car. Two things, we don't celebrate with oil changes I am becoming mixed up. We celebrate with a handsome piglet-feeding session at Bahama Breeze, supertasty. And then to Valveline, where the friendly people fix up the car and I am attacked by a fire ant.

Damn that fire ant. If there are any fire ants reading this, Shame On You!

I thought at first it was nothing, some sharp little pain on my shin. And then! Hello! Something sinking its tiny teeth into my knee. I ran into the rest room, pulled down my pants, tried swatting the fire ant off my kneecap, then grabbed it and slung it to the floor. To put the pain in perspective, this whole operation took approximately 0.111293933 seconds, I haven't moved so fast in my life!

There were ceramic squirrels and toads, a metal butterfly on a stick, red wood chippings in a man-made island, ringed by green plastic, the trucks and cars zipping past, suburban hothead boys zipping past in silver machines, a blue sky, and out there, in both directions, a jumble of cables, turn-offs, signage, and businesses huddled together in strip malls. That's the scene from Valveline. It was time to get away and come home and relax. TV, TV, Johnny Cash at Tennessee State Prison, with Linda Ronstadt wearing a skirt so short, have you ever seen the like? 500 of the worst prisoners, fixating on her shapely legs with their own legs firmly crossed. And then, a show on The Carter Family, the great great recording artists who laid the ground for commercial country music...


Oh no!

Oh no! I dreamed I was at school, completing an exam... the eternal nightmare! That bad place of bullies, home-made catapults, ink-flicking, towel-flicking, dead legs, knuckle rubs, tweaked ears, whispered threats, and after-school kickings from big lads from small homes.

Damn a world that throws everyone together and lets the savages run riot.

They had the nerve to have us read "Lord of the Flies" in our English class. Damn those teachers to hell, we WERE LIVING Lord of the Flies every flaming day.

Okay, time to go outside, try and put this dream behind me.


Hey hey! Another weird search to reach my blog


So some shy guy is going to get a shirt as a gift, isn't it great to see someone caring for someone else so sweetly!

Monday, May 09, 2005

David Foster DooDah

Heiko, yes! Heiko. In the depths of Europe, hear my call! Today we stopped at Borders and I bought David Foster Wallace's The Broom of the System, as you have mentioned this guy enough times. Now, despite the fact that he has committed two sins in a writer, so far as I am concerned:

1) Not Being Dead
2) Being self-consciously clever

But! I will try it and report.

Hey, for anyone interested in 45 minutes or so of fascinating reading, can I recommend the New Yorker article on the Ricky Jay website. Ricky Jay is one of my favorite people on the planet, one of the five or six best magicians with a pack of cards. You may also have seem him in some good movies, such as House of Games, and some crap movies, such as Heist and The Mystery Men!


Lastly, to return to clever fellows, I received via ebay an excellent book today, William H Gass, The World Within the Word. This guy just has "the feel", you read one or two of his sentences and you just know that everything he has to say is going to be worth hearing. So it goes.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Free as a bird...

To Audubon Park for a small celebration of Irish culture. Yippee!

First up, we sat and listened to a band, a band of real Irishmen, from Ireland! They were okay, not up to the kind of acts I'd caught while in Dublin, but in the sunshine it was a treat. One man closed his eyes and did a sweet song called "Little Lost Children." Sweet. It was sad but the Americans at the event were spread as follows throughout the attractions -


While the Irish band played to just a few folks, it looked like the World Fish and Chip Eating Championships was going on fifty meters away.

We checked out the other tents and attractions. There were two performers on a small stage, exposed to the sun, one man in black, one woman in red. They were taking their audience through a history of Ireland, punctuating the proceedings with scenes from plays, poetry set to music, and traditional folksongs (Molly Malone, etc). It was good, really good. Here was W B Yeats with his "golden apples of the sun", here was Oscar Wilde visiting Denver, lovely. I got to put my hand in the air when we were asked who had visited Ireland, I got to nod my head when we were asked who had visited Trinity College. I didn't know quite what to do with m hand when we were asked if we were Irish - I still don't know the answer to that one.

Moving away, there was an Irish prehistoric tent with Celtic items and some notes on how they were constructed. A man in appropriate peasant garb was drinking a Coke and instructing some children.

There was a small enclosure with some Irish breeds of dog, an Irish setter and some wolfhounds. The wolfhounds were causing a stir. In a country that admires Big Stuff, people were gasping that "that's the biggest dog I ever did see..." and such like. The wolfhounds just flopped around and looked shaggy-cute. The Irish setter had a beautiful face, but the person minding her seemed to be busily projecting her own lack of social confidence on to the dog. Each time someone came near the dog, the handler would lurch around and look weird, the dog would take fright, and jumping up, run underneath a chair.

Kids were having a drum workshop while we entered a tent that had an exhibition of famous Irish -Americans. There was John Wayne, Ed Sullivan, James Cagney, Eddie Cochran, Bill Haley, etc, interesting black and white pictures of the past and potted biogs. There was a poster for the "film with the terrible Irish accents..." - Far and Away with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.

Children were waiting patiently for a puppet show to begin. The puppeteer was drinking a pint and looking annoyed. Five minutes till showtime.

We went over for our own fish and chips, now things had calmed down. Some street performers were raising the temperature with some Irish banter. Irish banter is great, and when it comes from someone inside a costume that has transformed them into a 9 feet, drunken granny, with titties the size of spacehoppers, it's better still. There were two more accomplices, one a funny-haired, mad-eyed, village idiot - (refrain: "But Mammy! I'm 45! I'm not a baby, Mammy!") and a menacing old man with a scythe who almost gave a middle-aged woman a heart attack (she didn't think it was funny).

While we ate, young girls and boys came and did some Irish dancing. Sadly, the rhetoric of competition kicked in, and an American women hammered on and on about semi-final this and championship-winning that before each group of little angels kicked their legs in air. A large crowd had assembled, mostly parents, I suppose, who dispersed immediately afterward, when the Irish band returned to entertain chiefly the blades of grass.

And so went home, having sampled in a small way the delights of that lovely nation, Ireland. And so was marked our first day of freedom for many weeks. Amen.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Many thanks...

Thanks for the suggestions on flea markets, swap-meets, etc, much appreciated.

Good news for anyone who reads my blog - law school exams for my wife are over! I will now be able to head out into America, with notebook, and come back with direct goodies, rather than resorting to blogging about my latest ebay purchases or something that caught my eye in the news.

I'm set free!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Suggestions / Questions on American Culture...

Well, here's a dire shortfall in my knowledge.
In Britain, we have gatherings called car-boot sales, where people drive to a field and then set up tables and sell things for the day. At the largest there are 100s of sellers, selling just about everything. Great places to pick up books and old magazines etc.

Is there any kind of US equivalent to this? I am looking to source cheap books etc, for trading purposes, but I don't know where to start. Don't say ebay! as that is the destination, not the start point for what I have planned.

Any helpitude much appreciated!


Election-time. The Times has a story that you will no doubt NOT be seeing in the US media, finally, a govt insider has blown the whistle and revealed that Blair agreed to war when we all know he did, at Camp David visiting Bush. It also shows that Bush was fixed on war, joined together 9/11 and WMD as the phoney reasons, and had the intelligence built around this premise. Here, see for yourself ->>>

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Another Story by Me

Subter #4 is out. I'm in it again.


Next up for my writing are deadmule and tomazi

Oh, this site is good, it explained what a gerund was, not that I need to know. It's actually, in terms of its reason to exist, part of rather dire Marketing-oriented use of the English language. Does it matter? Strip it for spare parts.

For articles on absolutely anything, if you haven't been there, this site is truly great.

For anyone seriously into the books/literature thing and some of my other thoughts connected more to erm, intelligent discussion and working through all sorts of mind-goo, then i started a new blog where i'm not entertaining anyone, it's like the online workbook to accompany my efforts and keep track of the reading - Herereree it IS ->>>

Homo Disappointus

Yes, that's me. Human nature, once again, that inexplicable topic, the actions of others. Let me give you an example from today. I ordered a couple of new books 5 weeks ago from a publisher in England. They arrived today. Wow-ee! I couldn't wait to take them out and admire them. BUT... and here's where I once again find my faith in people shaken - the books had not been packaged with any care and had been damged during transit. So... what person can get a job at a publishing house, but not possess enough sense to add some bubblewrap or choppped-up newspaper or foam or whatever, before sending out a parcel??? I mean, even the most novice ebay seller can manage this.

So, huge disappointment for Jase.

I am now faced with potentially sending back the books (another 5 week delay) and then waiting for the books to be sent to me again (another 5 week wait). That makes 15 weeks from the day I originally ordered the books! That's nearly 4 months!

Okay, I am off to despair some more... please post any bizarre/amusing/heartbreaking stories of packages you have had dealings with in the comments, show me I'm not alone!

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Homo Aquaticus

I wish Mr Caffrey, one of my first teachers, hadn't told us so much great stuff was coming in the next 20 years. He had us all completing projects where we lived in underwater cities, having sprouted gills and acquired flippers, with robots to do all the work, and planning lazy holidays on Jupiter.

To revisit those dreams, here's a picture of an underwater city, where, by God, I wish I was living. And as a follow-up, there's a site called RetroFuture which details all these dreams that failed to materialise.
Other news -> I slept through an earthquake that shook our building this morning. I guess I really was tired!

A light earthquake occurred at 7:37:32 AM (CDT) on Sunday, May 1, 2005 .
The magnitude 4.1 event occurred 6 km (4 miles) SSE of 01 Manila, AR.
The hypocentral depth is 10 km ( 6 miles).

Cataloguing the Inside

Well, my blog is grinding to a halt, but I assure the world it's temporary. Hannah has her law exams and I am confined to quarters, ordering books from ebay and quickly reading them as they arrive. Yesterday I read a 1930's novel by George Milburn, Catalgoue. I was attracted to Mr Milburn for two reasons, firstly, he was mentioned as an interesting guy in the life of Jim Thompson, and secondly, he wrote about one of my favored subjects, hoboes, in the luridly titled Hoboes and Harlots.

This novel is interesting, it is the life of a small town with the binding thread being the mail order catalogues for Montgomery Ward (Monkey Ward as they were nicknamed) and Sears Roebuck (Sears Sawbuck). The novel contains genuine entries from the 1930s catalogues, and the detail from these throws up interesting perspectives. For instance, the sizes for the pimptastic "sizzle pants" run from 28 to 36 inches for men. Obviously not too many fatties around in those days.


They're a WOW! No fooling! these pants have "IT!" They're really trousers and semi-vest combined and are they stylish? Say! they were born in Hollywood and in two weeks they had spread like a conflagration all the way to Fifth Avenue! The double-breasted vest effect is what they're all raving about. Vest is a part of the waistband! Fancy buttoned sidepockets, adjustable strap in back, and 22-inch cuff bottoms carry out the stylish scheme. All wool and silk in a rich brown stripe. Sizes 28 to 36 in. waist and 28 to 34 in. inseam. State measurements

45F8575 ......... $3.65

The details of the plot are really quite intricate, the characters archetypal, the fat banker, the merry widow, the nerdish postmaster, the racist with the ridiculous name, C R Butts, the hypocritical newspaperman, his son who compiles lists and dreams his way through the catalogues. On the way there is small-town political intrigue, conflict with parents, racial tensions, rivalries for love, a murder, a witch-hunt, a bonfire of mail order catalogues, and finally, a huge run on postcard requests for replacement catalogues suggests the cycle is about to begin again. The novelty is how the items bought from the catalogue populate the plot, the bicycle bought without parental consent, the rosebud-studded pantyhose that a father confiscates and uses as an oilrag (with doubly fatal consequences), the unjustly accused and lynched black man, Sylvester, hung with his own Sears clothes line, etc.