THE SEVENTH YEAR

fall of the ram, continued
1147-1155
1156-1165
1166-1172

the ram's tail
1173-1175
1176-1179
1180-1183

the monkey arrives
1184-1186
1187-1192

second moon of the monkey
1193-1199
1200-1206

spring has sprung
1207-1214
1215-1222

1147

The Sleeptalker didn't go home to mama. I saw him across the room at the Black Hole engaged in an animated conversation with someone I didn't recognize. I thought back to a recent conversation with him, when I said I only go there, get my mat, lay myself down and go to sleep, don't interact with anyone. He claimed he couldn't do that, people wouldn't leave him alone. He didn't look to me like he was trying to be "left alone". He's always an actor, a comedian, and even with an audience of one, he can't resist taking the stage. Then, naughty boy, he seemed to be pilfering something from a nearby mat whose owner wasn't there. Stealing from someone at the Black Hole is decidedly off-limits for me and I will not accept it from any of my friends, either. Okay, evidently it was, so far as I could see, only a rolling paper and some tobacco. If someone was dumb enough to leave his tobacco stash out in the open, he deserved to lose a little of it. (It does happen. I've even seen people stupid enough to take off their watch and leave it beside the mat.) Even so, I disapprove, not that it will matter much to the Sleeptalker.

The Sleeptalker and the stranger went out, presumably to smoke the pilfered tobacco. The stranger returned after awhile, the Sleeptalker evidently staying downstairs. Then I realized who the "stranger" was. Mondo!

Not long ago, the Sleeptalker told me Mondo had a new place, much nicer than the last one. Mondo, who even though we all agree is the "craziest" of us all, does have a definite talent for finding living quarters. But he, of all of them, has most drastically changed from the early Hacienda days. His hair is too long, forms a kind of "afro", not in the least flattering. The Sleeptalker, even when he looks as wrecked as he did when I last saw him, is still attractive and highly desireable. Mondo has slipped right off that scale. Little wonder I didn't recognize him.

Meanwhile, my feline friends at the secluded grove are once again having to suffer a period of "human" food. On Wednesday, I used foodstamps to buy them cans of herring "fish steaks", thought I'd try them myself so bought an extra can. They weren't pleased, I was even less so. What hideously bland fish. On Thursday I took them Alaskan pink salmon. Her Ladyship turned up her nose, went to sit on the wall directly above me, little paws hanging slightly over the wall, and gave me a reproachful look. One of her children ate the salmon, the other didn't appear. Lady Grey is better with the reproachful look than I am with the "beggars can't be choosers" look, but she eventually yielded, condescended to eat a bit of the salmon.

Veron hasn't appeared since Monday so I assume he is connected with other food providers on campus.

All my children .....

1148

I was surprised when Veron didn't come to the secluded grove all week, thought once he'd discovered a source of free lunch he'd be a regular. But then I found where his usual turf seems to be. A university employee leaves food there every morning, Monday-Friday. So, okay, Veron is a weekend visitor, and did visit on both Saturday and Sunday.

Having a difficult time with my feline friends. For the first time ever, I arrived after the day of Alaskan pink salmon to find substantial scraps left uneaten. Ungrateful wretches! I suspect Lady Grey has found alternative sources of food (possibly even from Veron's benefactor), otherwise she couldn't be so finicky. I considered giving them up altogether, but how could I ignore the plaintive meows from one of her children when I arrive in the secluded grove and he (or she, not sure yet) awaits food?

Irritation and annoyance. The "keywords" for the season of the Aries Full Moon. I had to constantly discipline myself not to react too strongly to things which really weren't that important but were just irritating or annoying, or both.

There was at least a little blessing on Saturday night at the Black Hole. It started with "annoying", when some old man collapsed on the floor next to my mat, not even having gotten a mat for himself, and turned out to be a thrasher. First his arm over me. I reacted indignantly, he said "sorry, sorry", but not long after I had his foot over my leg. I moved. Thank you, Dame Fortune. The mat next to where I moved was empty but when I woke in the early morning hours and looked over there ..... ah, an angel. I've never seen such a sweet young man in the Black Hole before (and I am not forgetting you-know-who). He had taken off his shirt and jeans, was sleeping in rather flambouyant boxer shorts. Such a nice body. Late teens, I'd guess. Well, that is a rarity at the Black Hole, and I was duly grateful.

Alas, one night Mondo got up from his mat and walked out shirtless. No, he is definitely off the desirable list. A shame to see such a young man deteriorate physically the way he has. Unbelievable I once thought him even more attractive than the Sleeptalker (although, granted, that was only for a very short time, even then.)

The question about pre-strike, post-strike routine turns out to be neither. One reason is the erratic weather we've had. Periods of delightful, breezy sunshine interrupted by squallish rain. Twice I had to seek shelter from the secluded grove at mid-day, and then take up residence at the Rainy Day Bench in the mall when threatening weather arrived again before sunset. So neither the beach park nor the Sunset Bench have prevailed.

The nice thing about the Rainy Day Bench is that no one knows about me being there. And in an "irritating, annoying" time, it is far better to just be alone.

1149

... and may you stay forever young.

That syrupy tune came to mind when a reader asked: Do you feel sad when you see the Bad Boys growing older? Especially if not harmoniously? No, on the contrary, it has been a pleasure to watch them mature, not only the Bad Boys but some of the lads on campus. And then, too, they will always seem young to me by comparison with myself. Even in the unlikely event I share the longevity karma of my grandmother and mother, live to celebrate the Sleeptalker's 40th birthday, I'm sure I will still love him and wouldn't be at all surprised to still desire him. Of course, he'll probably look to be about 30.

What is sad, though, is to see a once very attractive young man deteriorate into a sloppy fat guy even before reaching 30.

This has been a not too unpleasant x equals time, money in hand for books and beer and tobacco (although the roll-it-yourself variety). I even treated Lady Grey and family to their favorite cheap catfood on Monday. I decided to call the smaller of the children Thimble and her big brother, Andrew. There's certainly no longer any difficulty in telling them apart. Andrew is so much larger, will soon be the size of his mother at the rate he's going.

Feathers flew on Monday. Lady Grey came the closest yet to getting one of the big spotted-neck doves. It did only just escape, but left quite a few feathers behind. If that bird has any sense at all, it will move to another area.

Despite the relative comfort of the pre-Third-Wednesday days, there's still some lingering annoyance and irritation in the air. Some of it is from online life. I'm fairly pissed off with Cheyne who can be such a snotty queen, considered dropping the link to his journal. I don't know how someone writing these things can say "you don't know me" (unless they've been writing fiction all the time). The game, too, has been annoying, with that miserable Englishwoman throwing power fits and the Sleeptalker absent. I did try another mud for a time but there's no way to turn off color in there and I find it very distracting, being an old-fashioned b+w mudder. So I tried the alternative of starting a new character in Seventh Circle, can play without all the baggage of my history there.

The beautiful lad in the boxer shorts hasn't appeared again at the Black Hole. Perhaps he'd just come into town for the weekend and was taking advantage of a free place to stay. Mondo must get there very early because he's been in the same spot every night, but no sign of the Sleeptalker who may have, after all, gone home to mama. The place is filling up again already. SocSec doesn't make as much difference as the welfare payments. I guess we old folks are less likely to splurge on hotel rooms.

Jonathan Cainer said: You will soon be freed from a restriction. That doesn't mean though, that you ought to go wild! I'll try not to.

1149a

... she said she'd been watching, and there were far too many overbites on local television to be accounted for by simple jaw problems.
"Why is that?", she'd asked. She seemed really interested.
Lucas said, "You don't know?"
"No. I don't," she said. She looked at him skeptically. "You're gonna tell me it's something dirty?"
"It's because it makes guys think about blow jobs," Lucas said.
"You're lying to me," Weather said, one hand on her hip.
"Honest to God," Lucas said. "That's what it is."
"This society is out of luck," Weather said. "I'm sorry, but we're going down the tubes. Blow jobs."

John Sandford: Night Prey

That certainly got a laugh. I was born with an overbite. (Did I mention "karma" recently?) As a child I would put my upper front teeth on a direct line with my lower front teeth and wish I could somehow get them to stay that way permanently. Of course, that would have meant that my molars never touched, so chewing would have been a significant problem.

But, then, with Sandford's explanation, I guess I'd have to rethink it as a blessing.

1150

"Nice tee-shirt," I said to Angelo. "I stole it for him," said the PL, proudly. As I said in a newsgroup today, I met two of my young ice-smoking friends yesterday and have to confess that I think it rather charming how they live such an almost stereotyped "middle class" life, while stealing to get the daily fix(es), getting new clothes, eating cookies from a shop in the mall ...

My own little Bonnie and Clyde.

Angelo asked if I'd seen Tanioka. I told him how surprised I'd been one day last week when I'd gone downhill from campus to get my lunchtime beer and had seen Tanioka asleep on a bus-stop bench. Tanioka so rarely comes into campus territory. I had wondered if he'd walk uphill to campus, perhaps to borrow money, but he didn't appear.

On the bus to the check-cashing place, after (om Ganesh) Third Wednesday's mailbox proved to be Magic, the Snorer's lady got on the bus, sat next to me after a warm greeting. She had just come from her "anger management session". Evidently the Snorer is also going to such sessions, but separately. Indirectly she told me they've lost custody of their child, hope to regain it next year, are now allowed three-times-a-week visitations, apparently conditioned on attending these management sessions. The Snorer also has kidney stones, the second time in his life he has been plagued by this hideous physical affliction, so they've been spending time with doctors.

Rocky got on the bus, said nothing to either of us.

Rocky and Angelo are going the opposite direction, losing weight. They both look quite thin, especially Rocky.

But for those heading otherwise ..... it was inevitable. I got to the Black Hole a bit later than I should have in the second half of the month, saw only one vacant bit of floor between two empty mats, picked up a mat and headed to it. I was asleep when I felt a hand touching mine. Even in the Black Hole, that's enough to wake me up. The hand belonged to Mondo, who appeared to be asleep on the mat next to me.

The thrill is over, but the melody lingers on ...

Meanwhile, can someone please tell Andrew not to bite the hand that feeds him. He bit me! He gets so excited about food arriving. On Tuesday he leaped off the wall into the secluded grove. (It's about an eight-foot wall.) And then he incredibly scampered straight back up the wall, clinging into crevices with his claws. On Wednesday when I arrived with food, Lady Grey was absent but the children were eagerly awaiting me. And while I was trying to empty out the first can of (catfood) "turkey and giblets", Andrew, overeagerly nipped at my hand.

Same hand that Mondo touched.

1151

What are you doing here so early, I asked the Sleeptalker, who arrived on campus about 9:30.
I came to get my dick sucked, he said.

He was sitting at the computer next to me, read that. "I was just joking," he said. Maybe so. It was strange, I'd been thinking a lot about him in the past few days, even more than usual, and was really wanting him. When you wish upon a star ... and the wish was fulfilled. Twice.

"Was that your son with you yesterday?" asked the cashier the next morning at the cafe by Hamilton. Please, I don't need incest added to my list of sins.

The Sleeptalker had been in Waianae, briefly had a job working for someone building a house. But he had a squabble with the boss and walked out. I told him that when you work for someone, you just have to put up with bullshit now and then.

He looked absolutely wonderful, the best in a long time, and was in a very good mood, laughing often and being flirtatious in the delightful way he can be. The game was down, so I bought him breakfast, then walked downhill to get beer and catfood. When we finished the beer we checked to see if the game was back up. It was, so we played for awhile, then I left to feed the cats and the Sleeptalker joined me in the grove a little later. A young man was sitting on a nearby bench eating a sandwich from the Subway shop which recently opened on campus. The Sleeptalker said that sandwich really looked good, so I bought him one and we went to the Garden, shared a couple of beers (he didn't have his ID with him so had to drink from mine).

I should have joined him in eating a sandwich. Too much beer, too little food = horrendous hangover the next morning.

I know you don't understand but I do love you.
I love you, too.
Thank you.

1151a

I love thee to the breadth and height my soul can reach ...

I don't think there's any more beautiful phrase about this funny thing called love. There's a big problem about a magical day like Thursday with the Sleeptalker. Life is so fucking boring after it.

Okay, okay, I know, I can't have every day in the rest of my life that special. Not a chance.

And I guess that even if I die and go to "heaven", the days there wouldn't always be that special either?

1152

Heaven.

The Black Hole (as far from that concept as one can get) was, as is often the case, unusually rowdy on Saturday night. I suppose it was my comment on "heaven" in the last Tale that inspired my thoughts when I got my mat and collapsed into as much isolation as I could (not too successfully) achieve.

I was still in my teens when I met my first true "non-believer". His idea was, probably still is, that we are born, live this life, and then utterly cease to exist. Period.

At the time I thought it rather horrifying, and I can understand why our distant ancestors would have tried to replace that idea with something else. If that's the model, why bother to worry about such stuff as the Ten Commandments?

But the older I get, the more I find the Judeo-Christian model almost as horrifying. Heaven/Hell, for eternity. Either way it has always sounded extremely boring to me. The Roman Catholic addition of "purgatory" is a nice refinement. At least you get a slightly better option of suffering a bit before you go on to eternal bliss. That thought made me wonder if I'm trying to get through my purgatory time already, staying at the Black Hole.

Not totally a crazy idea.

But I certainly do prefer the Eastern model of one life after another, our curses and blessings dependent upon karma, what we have done and left undone in the previous life. Yes, that one makes the most sense to me.

With the decided advantage of getting to meet the Sleeptalker next time, as maybe I have before.

When I got to the secluded grove on Saturday, both Lady Grey and Andrew were busily stalking the birds, the first time I have seen Andrew down in the grove. She went the lazy way, to the end of the wall where it's not so high, to rush to the feeding place. He, once again, went directly up the wall. Amazing how he can climb that. And he did it again on Sunday when he was sitting up there, spotted me walking toward the grove and excitedly rushed down to meet me, then straight back up the wall.

He certainly has become the dominant member of the family. One of the cans of food is his until he has eaten as much of it as he wants. Then mama and sibling can partake of his leftovers, after they've shared the other one.

It's a delicate balance, sometimes. On Sunday, when Lady Grey was, after lunch, sneaking up on the little zebra doves sitting around me (often on the bench beside me), I made a subtle warning sign, just in case they hadn't noticed her. I don't want her to get mad at me for spoiling her fun, but I also don't want her committing murder at my feet, so to speak. Veron was there stalking on Sunday, too, but he's more interested in the fat spotted-neck doves.

Even though the tradewinds are yet again blocked, the weather has been quite pleasant, with gentle winds from the west. I went to the beach park on Friday, was entertained by a fight between Lady Moana and another homeless woman. Grab hair, give a few elbow punches to the face, mixed with a number of slaps. I told Lady M afterwards that it was better than the so-called "wrestling" on television. No idea what the squabble was about. Lord Moana just grinned and shrugged as he walked by after the fracas. On Saturday there was a more serious fight over in Joe Guam's area, police and ambulance called. Too far away for me to see what happened, but Joe stopped briefly to tell me it had been a fight, with one man beating another with a large stick.

I still wonder, if the Christians are right, if I'm not already in hell. I guess that would make the Sleeptalker a Fallen Angel.

1153

I do love synchronicity. Just after I wrote about purgatory in the last Tale, I found one of those little comic books published by fundamentalist Christian groups. This one explored the question "Are Catholics Christians?" Naturally, its conclusion was negative and one of the arguments for the "no" answer was purgatory. If it's not in the Bible, it's not "Christian" and if you believe it, you're not Christian, either. Purgatory isn't. Well, I agree it's a mystery but then I don't recall ever having learned just how the notion came into existence, and this comic provided no enlightenment on the question. It rather foolishly weakened its argument, overall, by including Papal infallibility as another example of why RC's aren't Christian, making it appear that the infallibility idea applies to everything. I know, it's pretty lame even in its applicability only to spiritual matters and I've never believed it. Never believed in transubstantiation, either, another one of the arguments against RC's.

I guess I'm a lousy Roman Catholic, but by these people's definition, a better Christian.

At the Black Hole that evening, a young blonde fellow settled next to me quite late in the evening. He was shouting across to a friend about how excited he'd gotten earlier when he realized we said merry Christmas when Mary was the mother of Jesus. I considered further exciting him by asking him to marry me, but he was too busy continuing his rant with a bunch of stuff not far removed from that comic book. Lord, spare me your enthusiasts.

The Cat Lady had another grand success, captured Andrew on Sunday evening. So I missed his enthusiastic greeting on Monday, was grateful she'd emailed me to explain his absence. But there he was on Tuesday, a bit subdued but with a good appetite. Can't blame him for being subdued, must have been very traumatic to have been captured, taken off to the hospital and had unmentionable things done to his body before being returned to his usual habitat. With a notch in his little ear.

Certainly nothing subdued about his ability to communicate with facial expressions, a talent he has no doubt inherited from his mama. He was munching away on his can of food. Her Ladyship arrived a bit late for lunch, was sharing Thimble's portion, then cast an eye on Andrew's. He clearly said, with appropriate sarcasm, "Yes, Madame?" She backed off. Now why couldn't I have had that successful a time with my own Mama?

I woke in a fairly good mood, then cast my eye over the October calendar. Oooops, I have spent far too much money already, considering how long it is until the next Third Wednesday. I foresee an unpleasant x equals time in November. So the mood went down a bit, then improved when the Sleeptalker appeared in the game. He didn't say where he was playing from, but I assume it wasn't on campus since he didn't appear later. Nonetheless, we had a few amusing exchanges which was more than I could have expected after our last encounter, intimate enough to usually send him running for weeks.

Speaking of Mamas and Gods, a tiny zebra dove appeared in the secluded grove, just barely beyond the point where it should not have left the nest. It was evidently looking for its Mama, but its Mama wasn't looking for it. One of its possible-cousins yanked it up by the back of the neck to fling it away! It cowered, stumbled over under a bench. When another one of the fat little bastids, fat from my frequent feeding, attacked it, I interrupted with outrage. I fear that little bird hasn't long to live, though. And the rest of the buggers are banned from free food for a week. At least.

So excuse me, dear All-Merciful and All-Loving "God", if I spit in your eye should I have the occasion to meet You. Why "create" a living being if that is to be its fate?

1154

Who needs tv soaps? In this little town, in this age of "blogging", we get it all. We have
Cheyne and his ex-lover sniping at each other. Well, okay, Cheyne does most of the bitchy sniping. The ex is more the sentimentally nostalgic type. Then we have, yet again (for the umpteenth time) young Cheyne finding a new dreamboat. Dreamboat, alas, needs some time to discover whether he really wants Cheyne or not. (At that point I would have told "Hairy Arms", take all the time you need, honey, don't call us, we'll call you. When hell freezes over.) But no, Cheyne lingers on, fills his little Palm-gadget with pictures of Hairy Arms instead of getting a teddy bear. Now we have another very cute, even younger fellow who seems to have captured the Dreamboat. Unless Hairy Arms decides to tell this one, too, he needs more time to decide whether he really wants him?

Stay tuned to these channels. And where is Erica when we need her?

Meanwhile, back at the ranch ... (hmmm, can't remember where that phrase came from, but I think it's from a late-50's hit song) ... or, I mean, secluded grove. The ladies must have had a Female Empowerment Meeting. When I arrived with food on Wednesday, Thimble spotted me first and made a dash for the usual feeding place, Andrew close on her heels, Lady Grey not far behind. Andrew, as usual, started his wonderfully touching serenade of plaintive meows. Mama gave him a big slap on the head. I scolded her, got an expression like, "whose brat is this anyway?" I emptied the first can and Thimble took it over, gave poor Andrew another slap when he tried to share! So Andrew had to gently creep around and share Mama's lunch until Thimble decided she'd had enough and left the rest to him. What unsympathetic female felines, considering what poor Andrew has been through in recent days.

The zebra doves got zilch, nada, nothing.

Bush2 may be coming to campus tomorrow. I shall try to keep myself at a considerable distance.

1155

A reader, confessing to being one of those who think death is the end of our existence, wrote: But if I don't believe in it, I like the idea of reincarnation, the idea that a game can be played over several lifes, with, of course, improving results. Like the Panther/Sleeptalker dance, for example. (as to myself, I'm afraid I'd be reincarnated in a chocolate bar, to pay for my sins).

If we came back as inanimate objects, I said, I would probably be a large green (malt liquor) bottle, Angelo would definitely be a glass pipe, but I wasn't sure what the Sleeptalker would be.

Oh no, you would be a book. One of those we call in France the "usuels", that are in the main room of the libraries and are handled by most people. Wouldn't you like that ? Think of all these young students needing to read something in you. (of course, there would be some fat elderly women, too... That's for the sinful part of your present life)

I like that. Even better, the Sleeptalker: I know what the Sleeptalker evokes to me. Not the real person, whom I do not know, but the Sleeptalker as he appears in the Tales. He makes me think of a kaleidoscope. You know, these things where you look at small fragments of glass and other things through a special tube. The pain of having one's soul broken into pieces, and the beauty it can show, if looked at the right way, like through your eyes.

That's wonderful.

As often happens, that kaleidoscopic fellow was the star of Seventh Circle on Wednesday even though he wasn't playing. As I reported awhile ago, after his most recent suicidal tantrum someone stole his name, a character he has played for all the years we've been in there. I've been trying to get it back for him and in a very complex and amusing set of negotiations, finally managed to get it.

There is an auctioneer in the game and last weekend there was a flurry of people auctioning things, the selection getting more and more bizarre as people showed off some of their unusual and exotic items. Most of them were offered with a deliberately outrageous opening minimum bid, just boasting of owning the thing instead of really intending to sell it. A player offered a "fat greasy mullet" (which in Monty Python style, was to be worn on the head). He forgot to put a minimum on it and so I bought it for about two million. He immediately tried to buy it back from me but I teased and said I wanted to walk around for awhile with a fish on my head.

So when the player who stole the Sleeptalker's name appeared, I again tried to persuade him to give it to me so I could return it. When he asked what I'd give for it, I said I know you don't need gold, how about a fat greasy mullet? "No, that's my mullet!" the original owner protested. The Boss Lady, who can be quite amusing when she's in a good mood, got into the act. It seems the name-stealer recently tried to sell some of his characters on eBay [?!]. This violates the rules and all those characters were deleted from the game. So she offered to return one of those names to him if he would give me the Sleeptalker's character and if I gave her the mullet. After some general discussion by most people playing (including a couple of replies she forced people to make urging the exchange), the deal was done. And she returned the mullet to its original owner.

I ask you, is all this something a sane man of my age should be spending his time on? Well, why not ...

I hope I don't came back as a fat greasy mullet.

1156

Tanioka is back in prison.
The PL is again in hospital, in a coma after yet another suicide attempt.

Angelo will make it, I hope, to the 27-year-mark on Monday
[yes, he's one year behind the Sleeptalker]
and that most admirable young man and I gave Angelo, prematurely, quite a birthday party.

In the early days at the Hacienda, if anyone had told me what would happen
on the penultimate Thursday of October 2003,
I would have thought them totally insane.

-----

Despite the tight circumstances of this budget cycle, I had earmarked forty dollars for Angelo's birthday. In one of those "chance" encounters Dame Fortune loves to arrange, Angelo saw me at the mall late afternoon on Thursday. He was thirsty and hungry, so of course, I took care of that, but as always refused to agree to a "loan" of money. Eventually he went on his way. But when I was walking from the bus stop to the Black Hole, along came Angelo and the Sleeptalker (Dame Fortune is such a clown).

So we had Angelo's birthday party a few days early. I supplied two "papers", the Sleeptalker one. And Angelo, of course, managed to get an extra ten out of me by returning from a shopping trip claiming he could only buy a thirty-dollar bag. Oh well, it wouldn't be Angelo if he didn't manage to pull some kind of scam. I accept that now, but I love the young man and know that's just how he is (and was grateful to get away from the adventure with so small a loss, not that he didn't try to make it greater).

He also had his strange sexual voyeur fantasy fulfilled, at last. I was astounded the Sleeptalker agreed. He even went first, but I think he was so nervous about having a witness that he couldn't fully perform. Nor could Angelo. But it was most amusing and, when Angelo went on the second shopping expedition, the Sleeptalker did indeed "perform". Did he ever. I think that was the best yet. No, I don't just think it, it was.

To the breadth and height my soul can reach ... As Taylor Caldwell writes in the splendid Testimony of Two Men: "Desire was the least part of love, though it was its foundation, its earth."

Alas, the Garage may be finished as a party place. The Sleeptalker fell into one of his compulsive writing trips, went further upstairs leaving me and Angelo alone. Then two gentlemen from the Sheriff's department arrived. "What are you doing here?" one asked. "Just talking," I said (which, fortunately, was all we were doing at the time). The Sleeptalker no doubt heard the encounter and escaped, because we didn't see him when we left. Angelo wanted more, so I left him to whatever plans he had to get it and went to sit in the small park where I often escaped when the Hacienda was too rowdy with one of the Rocky Social Horror Club parties. Quite a few people sleeping there, but no hassle from the police who have a sub-station across the street from the park. At about four in the morning it began to rain so I went to GovSanc2 and sat on a bench reading until the buses starting running.

I don't know whether the lads really enjoyed the party. I think they did, but no doubt about it, I certainly did. Happy birthday, Angelo. And thank you for helping to make me a very lucky man.

1157

tell me I'm crazy, maybe I know ...

No maybe about it, though. Is it this hideous steamy Kona weather or the solar storm driving us to excess? More likely, in my case, it's just that the more I get the Sleeptalker, the more I want him. Four times within a two-week period is unprecedented so I should be more than content. Should be.

As always with the Follies, the day after the early birthday party for Angelo was a total wash-out, nothing to do but stay slightly drunk all day and wait until it was late enough to collapse in the Black Hole and sleep it off. The weekend wasn't much better, this sweaty weather not helping. On Sunday, the Sleeptalker appeared in the game, complaining about how bad the Follies hangover had been and also complaining about his host, as usual. Poor man lets the Sleeptalker sit there for hours using his computer while the Sleeptalker is thinking nasty things about him. I wonder if the Patron eventually gets a reward. Probably.

I gave the Sleeptalker the password for his recovered character, played for about an hour and then left. He was in the game again very early on Monday morning but disappeared for awhile since, as I later discovered, he was walking to campus. We played for awhile, sitting at computers next to each other, and then I took him to lunch at the Garden. Back to the game for a couple of hours, much longer than I ordinarily play, and then to the beach park for beer and snacks. I was surprised Angelo didn't come looking for us since he could have used it being his actual birthday to wheedle. Maybe the PL is out of hospital and was treating him somewhere.

Then the Sleeptalker offered the ultimate prize for sharing a pipe. Too soon, too soon. Well, for the pipe, certainly not for the prize. But I agreed anyway. He really has changed about sexual encounters, is far more mellow and relaxed which makes it even more of a pleasure, especially since he so obviously enjoys it, and he seems not to be suffering such angst afterwards like he used to (or maybe it's just buried in the overall ice hangover).

There's just no question about it, that man's body is the most desireable I have ever known.

That he's also a sweetheart, overall, can't be discounted either.

We separated, I spent much of night in the little park reading, then went to GovSanc2 to continue the book and wait for the buses to start running. He arrived at about 4:30 in the morning, said "I'm sorry I didn't come back."

I was sorry, too, wouldn't have minded spending the night in his company, but then we'd been together all day and most of the evening. Can I find a way to tell myself not to be greedy?

1158

On the surface he showed an adolescent fretfulness, but he yearned now to settle in some permanent fashion, at the first possible moment, the few remaining years left to him. He had no further inclination for repairs, rebuilding, modifications in the blueprints, or recasting of plans. His mind and flesh were incapable now of enduring any uncertainties. Quivering like a piece of fruit inside a dish of jello, he waited impatiently for the moment when the gelatine would kindly harden.
Yukio Mishima: After the Banquet

The high point of the week's reading. Such an elegant novel. I wish I could read it in the original language, but I'm too old and too lazy to learn another language.

Too old and too lazy, the theme of this Week of Solitude. Except for the usual exchanges with shop clerks, I've spoken with no one for a week, since that last party with the Sleeptalker. I think he's gone back to the country, since he hasn't been in the game, and I'm happy for him that he has someplace to escape when life becomes too heavy.

The game has been amusing, even with his absence. There was a fine party there on Halloween, the Boss Lady setting up a special quest with critters so difficult to kill it often took three or four of the most powerful players in the game to defeat them. I only died once, only got one "treat", a "Halloween mask", which isn't as good a piece of armor as it should have been, given the difficulty of getting it. But amusing ... as were several hairy-legged young men wearing dresses on campus. They all went for "clown drag". I guess it would have been asking too much for one to do a stylish drag number, might call into question things young men on campus don't want to risk. Otherwise, Halloween was nothing special, although it was nice that the Black Hole was about half-full that night (as much explained, no doubt, by the first-of-the-month welfare payments as by the holiday).

Lorenzo Carvaterra's Sleepers is such a brutal book. I'd like to see the film version sometime, but doubt it could match the book. My childhood was far from perfect, but a book like this makes me realize just how lucky I have been in this weird life.

This weird life. Uh-huh. I pondered on Thursday and came to the conclusion that I am not happy with this life. I saw three answers: 1) commit suicide. 2) change it. 3) reconcile myself to being "unhappy". After all, no one said the object of life is to "be happy".

(1) would be absurd, after all this time. (2), I have no idea. So I'll stick with (3) for the moment and see what happens, like a piece of fruit in a dish of jello.

1159



... like a piece of fruit inside a dish of jello

My mother was really very good at baking. Her pies were especially fine. Chocolate, lemon meringue, coconut cream, and most ambrosius (if there is such a word) pecan. But in the hot summer months her habit of having a dessert with every evening meal was usually fulfilled with pudding-from-a-box-mix or Jell-O, more often than not with a can of "fruit salad" tossed in when the stuff was half-gelled. Not very exciting stuff, but better than that over-processed mushy fruit salad on its own. Memory circuits activated by a phrase in a novel. I wonder if my life-long disinterest in fruit is related to eating that so-called fruit salad? The only fresh fruit we had: bananas and apples, the bananas being sliced upon dry cereal and the apples I never much liked.

Proust's cookie.

The fifty-cent cart at Hamilton is once again serving up unusual treats. That splendid Mishima novel was followed by Siamese White by Maurice Collis, a history of European traders in India and Thailand in the late 1600's, with a concentration on the Englishman, Samuel White and his fellow scoundrels. Then Paul Theroux's bizarre novel, Chicago Loop.

And now Kipling's magnificent Kim, certainly one of the long-ago influences on my desire to visit India and still capable of making me homesick for the place.

Kipling is underrated in these times.

In less profound, but occasionally amusing, reading, the local bloggers soap opera continues. I almost feel sorry for
Cheyne. If he weren't such a silly boy so much of the time, I would feel sorry for him. His most recent heart-throb, Shigeru97 and that one's possible new love interest, Tin Foil Hat, both write about their meetings, although so discreetly "possible new love interest" is justified. Perish the thought that a Sleeptalker patron writes one of these things and if it did happen I surely hope I never hear of it because like Cheyne, I would know I shouldn't read it but probably couldn't resist. (And the Sleeptalker, of course, would no doubt be sure to let me know of it.)

It's bad enough putting up with him in the game sometimes when, as on Thursday, he's in make-Albert-jealous mode. "I hate charging someone when I really don't want to have sex with them," he said publicly, later boasted that it was the first day in the week when he hadn't smoked ice. He had also been in the game on Wednesday, in a very sullen, mostly-silent mood. I made the mistake of giving him some things when it would have been better just to have ignored him, so I did that for a time on Thursday. After I returned from feeding the felines and drinking my lunchtime brew, he started in again with his taunting so we ended up having one of those verbal tennis matches he so enjoys. They leave me with a dirty taste in my mind.

It is possible to deeply love someone and not like them very much at all sometimes.

1160

Once, a man exposed himself, right in front of me, at eye level. (I'd made the mistake of sitting on a secluded bench, on the grounds of the university.) He wasn't a tramp either, he was quite well dressed. "I'm sorry," I said to him. "I'm just not interested." He looked so disappointed.
Margaret Atwood: The Blind Assassin

"Can I ask you for a favor?" No, I said, but it didn't stop him. "Can you spare two or three dollars so I can get something to eat?" "Definitely not!" (Whatever happened to the "loose change" line?) Two mornings later, "Can I ask you for a favor?" Again, saying no didn't stop him. "I've been looking an hour and a half for a cigarette." "This one came from an ashtray. Help yourself." "If I find one in an ashtray, can I get a light from you?" "Go away," I said. "Are you all right?" he asked. Then he shuffled over to the next bench at the bus stop and repeated his hour-and-a-half yarn, actually got a cigarette and a light. I wish people wouldn't give money, or cigarettes, to beggars like that. Shouldn't encourage them.

The population of trashpickers and beggars has again increased at the mall, even in the early morning hours. I see several regulars who get off a bus and immediately start making the rounds of the trash cans. It must really annoy the security people.

Grubby has evidently been banned entirely from McDonald's. For some time they've allowed him to buy coffee in the morning but not to stay inside drinking it. Too many complaints about his horrible stink. Now he sits outside every morning but doesn't go in. Maybe he's hoping someone will take pity on him and give him coffee. Won't be me.

One major advantage of the rainy day bench, where I've been sitting most days at sunset time, is that not many of the trashpickers come that way and none of the beggars. There's one man who seems to sit in the area all day but wanders off once I get there, replaced at about seven o'clock by a woman who has arrived every day at that time, sits on a nearby bench, doing nothing (how do they survive without at least a book to read?). I wonder if she stays there all night. One of the funnier trashpickers walks by at least once, funny because he tries so hard to pretend he isn't trashpicking ... and ends up being more obvious than he'd probably be without the pretense.

I was reading some of the Tales from this time last year and was reminded of that delightful movie, "Groundhog Day". Only it's the year repeating itself, not just a day. Same ups and downs with the Sleeptalker, sweet intimate times followed by snarling ones, Tanioka in jail, the PL attempting suicide. About the only difference is that I spent more time with Angelo last year than I do now. I haven't seen him since the pre-birthday party.

The Sleeptalker has been in the game every day, playing for hours. On Friday and Saturday he stayed utterly silent, didn't seem to be really playing very much, just staying in a clan hall. He foolishly changed his highest-level character into a "pkiller", effectively ruining yet again a good chance at making it to the top. Aside from some remarks about how cowardly it was to hide in the clan all the time, no one said much to him and I said nothing to him or about him. On Sunday he was in a sillier mood, did say a few things after entering with "I've discovered I'm gay so I've just stopped in to say goodbye before I kill myself." I continued to ignore him.

The next day, when he appeared, I said I thought he was going to kill himself. "I was just pulling your leg," he said.

I'm most curious to see how he'll behave after Third Wednesday.

1161

If I took the bus each day to the little shopping center not far from the University, I could save at least 32 cents a day on catfood. Frequently even more, since they often have special sales on pet food. I'm sure that's the kind of thing most pensioners think of.

So be it. I am obviously not a "typical" pensioner.

1161a

Sun Nov 16 17:28:27 2003

To: I care

Well its been a pretty long time since ive been here.
Mudding and all, but its time for me to star getting serious again.
I need to get with my real life.
And matbe visit my familys new home. :P
See my brotyher that iI havent seen in awahile.
I will try to see you guys later.
just give me l;ike a month or so.
To get myself started off with my Real Life. :P
I will miss you alot cuz Ill be aweay .
But will always think aboout here. I will be back so dont jump on a plane,
and look for me :P.

wrote the Sleeptalker on the public noticeboard in 7th Circle

1161b

The decorations are up, carols are playing, winter weather has arrived. Ho, ho, ho. 'Tis the season to ... well, I don't know about jolliness but it is time to put long pants and a long-sleeved shirt on the shopping list. Once x no longer = 1, of course. This was the usual x equals time with its boring emphasis on dwindling cash. It didn't get as bad this round as it sometimes does, mainly because the Bad Boys were absent and I stayed out of the beach park. Paulo did find me at the Rainy Day Bench one afternoon but got negative replies to requests for beer and cigarettes.

The Sleeptalker's notice is rather bizarre in saying it had been a pretty long time since he'd been there because he played almost every day for hours. Maybe his meaning is that he has been mudding for a pretty long time (thanks of course to having found that very patient patron with computer). But the real story behind the notice he revealed the day before when he said publicly something like "my friend has asked me to leave because he's gay and he's worried people will think I'm gay." The Chinatown Patron is kind of late in arriving at that concern and most of the people who knew about their arrangement already think the Sleeptalker is gay, anyway. I didn't say anything. It's certainly the first time I've ever heard that line as a brush-off. I can't really blame the man, though. It is a one-room apartment and it must have been very boring to have the Sleeptalker sitting on the computer for hours, not to mention coping with his many moods when at the pipe.

Speaking of games (and addiction), Peter of Naked Blog mentioned an elegant French site for Mah Jonng Solitaire, a game I was very fond of years ago. Nice to have it back. I think. I've been playing it so much that when I close my eyes to sleep I see the tiles.

1162

It was almost worthwhile being angry with Comus for the sake of experiencing the pleasure of being coaxed into friendliness again with the charm which he knew so well how to exert.
Hector Hugh Munro: The Complete Stories of Saki

-----

Said Jonathan Cainer: Don't go mad but do go just a little crazy. Extraordinary opportunities really are within reach now.

Would a "little crazy" have included jumping on the Sleeptalker when I saw him at the Black Hole as I was leaving Tuesday morning? He looked so incredibly beautiful. (The photos really don't do that man justice.)

I just gave him the American Indian "how" gesture.

-----

I've got the flu, feel sicker than I have since the pneumonia adventure. Body all aching and wracked with pain, etc.etc.
Yeukh.

-----

I like you as you are, just a nice-looking boy to flatter and spoil and pretend to be fond of.
You've got a charming young body and you've no soul, and that's such a fascinating combination.
Hector Hugh Munro: The Complete Stories of Saki

1163

The worst is over. The chills and fever have subsided. I hated that uncontrollable shaking, followed by sweating. Almost as bad was the pain in the joints. I woke up several times during the night with pain in the knees.

I bought some "multi-symptom night-time" medicine because I'd had a difficult time sleeping (not just the joint pains but also being unable to breathe through my nose). Then I made the mistake of taking two of the enormous capsules before getting on the bus to the Black Hole. Fell asleep on the bus, most fortunately woke up just a couple of stops too far, so was able to walk back. The "decongestant" aspect of this multi-drug is so effective I could just lean over the bench the next morning at the mall and let drops fall from my nose. (Sorry about that, a bit gross.)

My early morning playmate, whom I haven't seen in quite awhile, was there. Oh well, I ignored the rather awful fog that drug gave me and enjoyed him, and I suspect he enjoyed me enjoying him. Maybe the Fountain of Youth is also a cure for influenza?

No, I doubt anyone has ever suggested that "sausage and cream" is a cure for a virus-inflicted ailment.

It's berry-dropping time in the secluded grove. There are a few young men on campus who are quite obviously homosexual. Even though I am not usually attracted to that sort of man, there is one who has such a fine body I can't help but admire him. As he walked through the grove and I was admiring, a berry hit me right on top of my head. Will the campus trees kindly refrain from making editorial comments?

I saw Rocky in the mall. He has gotten alarmingly thin, looked almost as bad as Michael Jackson's arrest photo. Well, no, not even close to that horrendous image, but still worrying.

1164

I accept the concept of karma. What goes around, comes around, no matter whether within just one life or within a series of lives.

So I look at my current, miserable condition, examine the past, know I couldn't possibly discover the reasons, but ponder the possibilities anyway. It was at this time of the year, not long after I had joined the Army, when I got influenza which morphed into pneumonia. It was at this time of the year when I once again got pneumonia and spent months in the hospital. Were it not for my "pneumonia shot" supposedly still being effective, I would already have sought medical advice.

Wonder what it is about my karma which brings this nonsense along at this time of the year?

This time of the year.

I diligently avoided most of the 40th anniversary stuff, but listening to Prairie Home Companion on Saturday, when Garison did an elegant, brief elegy for John Fitzgerald Kennedy, I couldn't stop myself from crying. A reader asked me to read some book about "decades" and tell her which of the events in the book had been meaningful to me. But I don't want to do it. The truly meaningful ones are the ones you really don't want to remember, the ones you wish you had never experienced.

I could tell you all the details about how hideously uncomfortable the past few days have been, but I'll spare you.

There was one bright moment in an otherwise lost weekend. I spent very little time on-line but did look in on the game on Sunday and the Sleeptalker was there, playing from the country. He said his nine-year-old brother was watching him play. How very odd. I don't remember him ever mentioning a second brother.

1165

A dietary chart of progress?

On Saturday I ate nothing at all. Even the thought of it was nauseating. I drank a cup of tea, a can of vegetable juice, one and a half beers, all of which came back up not long after it went down. I assumed it was a process of flushing the body. On Sunday, a cup of coffee and almost all of a cup of yoghurt in the morning, a baked potato in the late afternoon, one and a half beers (once again, I couldn't finish the sunset brew). On Monday, a cup of coffee, dried cereal and milk. A beer and a bowl of minestrone for lunch, a Subway BLT and a beer for dinner.

Yes, I guess that's progress. Of course, I'm as bad at convalescing as I am at being sick, maybe even worse, so happy days are certainly not yet here again. Brighter, though.

I was amused by an article in the student newspaper by a young woman suffering from a bad cold and her observations about the many "symptom relief" options. Quite agree with her, they make you feel "different" but not really better, maybe even worse. I gave up on that night-time stuff after three nights. It had me waking often during the night feeling almost painfully thirsty from severe dry-mouth and then stumbling groggily to the water fountain. Everyone probably thought I was staggering drunk. Somewhat better results from a cough syrup which combines a "suppressant" and an "expectorant". It did stop most of the night-time coughing attacks. The expectorant part of it is really unnecessary, though. Two cigarettes first thing in the morning work quite efficiently on that score. Now to endure a time of that ghastly first-hour-awake routine of hacking up the accumulation from the night. Oddly, and happily, it seems to be less from this attack of viral terrorists than it usually is from a routine bronchitis flare-up.

I saw the wretched RedEye in the supermarket on Tuesday. He isn't sure, but he thinks Angelo is back in jail. If so, it's the usual misdemeanor gig because he isn't listed on the judiciary page. Oddly, there's also no mention of Tanioka there, but if he had gotten arrested on a misdemeanor it would have cancelled his probation on the prior arrest and they may not make note of such things.

It was a relief to see that Cheyne found somewhere to live. We definitely don't need any more bodies at the Black Hole, especially at this time of the month. They were already making announcements by about nine on Tuesday night that if you didn't have a mat, you had to stay outside. Interesting contrast to the fellow who said on soc.culture.hawaii that the solution to the housing problem here is more "condominiums and townhouses". Yeh, sure. How about a bigger warehouse with more floor space for mats?

There was a wonderful dream about the Sleeptalker. We were cuddled together naked in bed, no sex involved, just being close together. (The chance of that dream coming true is about the same as odds on Lady Grey curling up in my lap and purring.) Nice dream, though.

Oh well, one thing I will be feeling thankful for on our national day of giving thanks is that he'll be spending it with his family.

1166

Money.

June 9th, 1973:
Never have I seen such a morning. The rain falling in torrents, thunder and lightning. But the storm is not above. We sit in the clouds.

Monsoon in the Himalayan foothills had much in common with the first day of December on the island of Oahu, although the lightning was missing. Did have thunder, though, most unusual here. In all the years I have been coming to the campus of UH-Manoa, I have never seen it so flooded. Not surprising, after three days of torrential downpours. The Lake District.

But money? Well, if I'd had as much in my pocket on June 9th, 1973 as I do now, I would have been a very happy man, would have kicked back and enjoyed the rain falling.

That stuff shouldn't make so much difference, but it does.

I had a very traditional Thanksgiving dinner, although in two parts. Someone left, I suspect for the old man who is camping almost every day at the Art Building on campus, a large plate-lunch box. He wasn't there, so of course I investigated. Mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, stuffing, yams, pumpkin pie. Everything but cranberry sauce and ... turkey!? There were two thickly-sliced slabs of ham which I gave to the furry ones as a bonus after their cat-type turkey and giblets. Wasn't sure if they'd eat it, but yes, was all gone the next morning. Next day I bought some roasted turkey and gravy. (The veggies were better.)

The
weather is just ghastly. Three days of ghastly. Luckily, I fed the critters earlier than usual on Saturday, then had to dash for shelter when it started raining. On Sunday, there was just enough of a break in the downpour to feed them again before fleeing for shelter. Monday, I actually got to sit there for half an hour (plastic bag under my butt on the wet bench) and watch them squabble over the food. (Did I say I was not going to buy three cans a day?) Then I had to rush to shelter when a truly incredible downpour began. I haven't seen anything like that since 1973.

It's December.

(Deck the halls with boughs of holly .... and etc.)

1167

On Wed, 3 Dec 2003, Judy wrote:

I just got word that Gino Lancette passed away early this morning at Queen's Medical Center. He was 50. His son, the West Point graduate of whom he was so proud, is here to make arrangements, but services will be delayed until January, when the Waikiki beachboys he was so close to will give him full honors.

To: sch@lava.net
Subject: Gino

I first met Gino not long after the Aloha Tower Marketplace opened. I was working at an insurance broker in what was then the Amfac Center, would go over at lunchtime to either Gordon Biersch or the Pier Bar.

It was at the, alas defunct, Pier Bar where Gino came along one day and introduced himself. It was, of course, also early days of the Internet here in these islands, and much of our conversation centered around this new thing called Usenet.

Gino was totally schizoid about Usenet. He could write the most vile, horrible stuff about you on Usenet in the morning, then stroll along to a bar and buy you a drink as if he was your best friend in the world. He just didn't think the insanity of Usenet had anything to do with "real life" and he enjoyed the verbal battles immensely, couldn't understand why a "friend" would take that stuff seriously.

I never managed to quite adjust myself to that way of thinking.

I saw him almost daily during the recent bus strike, waiting for the "City Van" to UH-Manoa when Gino would come along on his bicycle, camera gear attached, on his way to Waikiki for a day of snapping photos.

He looked in pretty bad shape, but I didn't realize it was as bad as it evidently was. I don't blame him, though, for ignoring the doc's advice to stop drinking.

If you went only by the evidence of Usenet archives, you'd think Gino and I were implacable enemies.

Not true, not true at all.

I shall miss him.


-----

The parallel hadn't occurred to me before between Gino's approach to Usenet and the Sleeptalker's fondness for occasional bitching sessions in the game, often followed the same day by a very friendly personal encounter. I just can't divorce the on-line me from the so-called real life me, or at least not as easily.

Meanwhile in this so-called real life:

Do not swat the hand that feeds you, either.

Lady Grey, evidently impatient with how long it took me to dislodge Whiskas "Seafood Supper" from its can, gave me a swat. Good thing she kept her claws in, because otherwise it would have been a three-day suspension of largesse.

The drugstore had the cans on sale, three for a dollar, so okay, they got three cans. Andrew, who absolutely refuses to share, gobbled his down as quickly as he could and then tried to butt in on Mama's. She glared, then reached out a paw to the back of his neck and held his head down to the wall. I didn't blame her. Eventually he tried to grab some from Thimble's can, but she wasn't putting up with it either, so he had to hang around and wait for leftovers. Greedy little bugger, Andrew.

Those dreadful winds from the west finally got replaced by tradewinds on Tuesday and the downpours stopped. Three days of torrential, almost-constant, rain is quite tedious, especially when you aren't reclining on a bed watching it outside a window. Don't misunderstand what I said about money in pocket. Hardly rich here, but then during that long ago monsoon I was fretting over having enough pennies to buy a matchbox. Surely was good training.

1168

What he could not explain was why the infatuation had endured for what was now years. It had become an incurable addiction. She had intoxicated him the first instant, and she still did.
Michael Kilian: Dance on a Sinking Ship

The Sleeptalker was outside the Black Hole on Thursday night. I was later than usual, even for a Thursday when I am deliberately late to avoid the Alcoholics gathering. So we clasped hands, he said "good to see you, man!" and I went on upstairs to find a space. "Nice pants!" he also said, giving me the Sleeptalker seal of approval for my winter wardrobe. Well, half of it, although he gave the approval to the upper portion when I complained the next day that it was too heavy and I planned to replace it. "Give it to me."

He arrived on campus Friday morning. He was charming and delightful, it was a wonderful day with him. We played the game for awhile, then I took him to lunch at Paradise Palms, after another time in the game shared a beer with him at Manoa Garden. I would, of course, have bought him his own beer but as usual he wasn't carrying his ID.

Back to the game. When I said I'd had enough, was wanting another beer, he told me to meet him at Sinclair Library (where he oddly prefers to play). After waiting a bit for the [sigh] rain to slow down at least, I met him there, we went to the mall. I told him in the supermarket he could have anything he wanted with foodstamps money. I had more than $12 roll-over on foodstamps this month (if you don't spend it, gets pushed over to the next month), so no problem. Silly boy stole some food instead of letting me buy it for him. "I saved you five dollars," he said.

When he is delightful, I just can't stop myself from lusting after him. It must get so boring for him, us old queens wanting to get into his pants. He said he'd be on campus the next day, but he wasn't. Too bad, I did want to apologize.

1169

"What date is it?" asked the Sleeptalker on Tuesday. "The ninth?"
I had to count forward from Foodstamps Day and said, yes, the ninth.
"I have to go to court tomorrow."
"What for?"
"Assault and battery."
"Assault and battery?!"

His re-enactment of the incident suggested that, at least from his viewpoint, it hardly merited bringing charges. I wait to see what the outcome was.

My dark mood of the weekend was lifted on Sunday evening when I saw the Sleeptalker doing one of his animated, flirting conversations with a large black man at the Black Hole. He flirts with everyone, but when I mentioned it to him on Monday he was quite irate. I told him he didn't understand how I meant it, nothing sexual, just a smiling desire to be liked.

Well, okay, I guess that's not a very acceptable way to put it either.

I was operating under a handicap since he arrived on campus Monday morning in a very bad temper. He'd scored some 'drugs' (ice, I guessed, which he later confirmed) for someone who then didn't offer to share it with the Sleeptalker, but bought him breakfast and gave him the bus fare to UH. Seems fair to me. He didn't think so. Any attempt to calm him down just turned his anger toward me instead so I sat and let him rant until he finally went off to Sinclair to play the game. Later he got mad in there, too, so we had another session sitting outside Hamilton while he ranted. Full Moon in Gemini. Seems to affect Gemini folk differently than the Aries Full Moon hits rams.

I bought him lunch, shared a beer with him in the Garden, then bought him more food and beer at the mall, patted his butt when he was standing outside the Black Hole when I arrived later.

Tuesday morning he again arrived on campus. Both days he was wearing a black tank-top (a sleeveless tee-shirt) which he rarely wears. So rarely, his shoulders are very white and you can see the tan-mark where a tee-shirt's sleeves are. But then you can also see the two tiny moles on his left shoulder and the birthmark under his right armpit. And much of his chest. Sigh.

When I told him how much I'd enjoyed our recent day together and had felt guilty about lust intruding, he grinned and said, "yes, you spoiled it all." Like I said, he must get bored with old men trying to get into his pants, but on the other hand, he'd feel neglected if we didn't.

On Tuesday evening, before we left for the Black Hole, he tried to get me to fill the pipe for him, offering anything I wanted in exchange.

1170

I do recommend Jeffery Deaver's The Blue Nowhere to anyone interested in computers, hacking, MUDs, etc. etc. Most entertaining. With some a-little-close-to-home takes on MUDders, especially.

I was reminded several times of the Sleeptalker. Gott sei dank he hasn't gone that far in failing to distinguish between MUD and so-called real life. Nor, with thanks to the same source (whether it exists or not), have I. Let us all count our blessings.

The Sleeptalker didn't appear on campus or at the Black Hole on Wednesday, nor did he appear on campus on Thursday. "I don't want to go to jail," he had said, but, I wondered, perhaps he did go there. He does need to understand the difference between this so-called "real" life and MUD, and maybe, if that's what happened, it would help him understand it?

But no, he did appear in the game on Friday morning. He was in the mood for one of those insult matches. I wasn't. So I quit, spent longer than usual in the secluded grove. When I finally returned to the game he wasn't there, although he eventually did appear again. No idea if he was on campus or not.

The Blue Nowhere is another phrase for "cyberspace". An alternate reality. Indeed, it is often so much more interesting than "real" life.

It was a Deaver double-feature because I also got his more recent, The Stone Monkey. Not as personally relevant and interesting as Nowhere, but a good yarn. Good enough to add him to my list of favorite living writers in the Reading Room.

I've swept that place out recently, got rid of most of the young local homosexual bloggers. I still check them out, but I can't recommend them. Either they are moaning because no one loves them or else they are being nauseatingly gushing about their latest "soul mate".

The internal jukebox is especially tiresome at this time of the year. It hears a few bars of a Christmas song and repeats it until it hears another one. I wish I knew where the "off" switch was for that wretched infestation, but I think "off" in this case probably means "death".

Oh well, deck the halls with boughs of holly, fa-la-la-la, and etc.

And x = 3.

1171

The Sleeptalker has the flu, poor man. Same as me, vomiting through the first day. Both the Black Hole and Hamilton Library sound like the respiratory disease ward of a hospital. Flu in Hawaii. I guess I was lucky to get through my turn early.

I was, as usual, brushing my teeth in the men's room at the mall on Monday morning when I felt a tap on my shoulder. Tanioka! "Hey!" I said. He asked for a cigarette. Sorry, I didn't have any. He asked for a "snipe". Errrr, we're in the mall, the Mother Lode of Snipes, go look for ashtrays. I didn't say that, just said no. A little later I was walking to the supermarket to get the furry ones some foodstamps food. Tanioka came out of it, tapping a pack of Kools on his wrist. He had enough money to pay premium price for premium cigarettes and he was begging from me??? And totally ignored me as he walked past.

When I mentioned it to the Sleeptalker, he went into a rant. "He's a punk," he said, "he's always been like that about cigarettes. He's a total punk, you shouldn't hang out with him."

Well, since I hadn't seen Tanioka in weeks and only spent about two minutes with him, didn't quite qualify as "hanging out with".

I saw him again early on Tuesday morning in the mall. Once again he walked right past me, ignoring me. He definitely looked like he was in post-pipe-hangover that morning. Oh well.

I've seen the Sleeptalker every day, felt very badly on Tuesday when I had to decide between giving him bus fare or buying my sunset beer. "I love you," I said, "but I don't love you that much." Just teasing. If he'd even tried, he would have had his bus fare. But then the eve of succumbing to the flu is not a time when charm is at your disposal.

I asked him what had happened at Court. He first said, "none of your business." Then amended it to, "buy me a sandwich and I'll tell you." Well, on campus, nowhere to use foodstamps but, sure, later, would have been happy to buy him a sandwich. He did show up there later, but wanted ice cream. I would have used foodstamps to get that for him, too, but he got impatient and went off to steal it, came back and sat with me while he ate it. Strawberry.

Well, when he told me he was going to Court, I asked who his lawyer was. It's an American right to have a lawyer with you before you see the judge. No lawyer. What??? So when he got to Court with no lawyer, the thing was postponed until he met with a "public defender" (which he is, I hope, doing at this moment I am writing) and then he goes back to Court on the 30th. I gave him the bus fare to the lawyer's office.

If I had a lot more money than I got on Magic Third Wednesday, I would hire the best lawyer in town to get the Sleeptalker off this absurd charge.

The furry ones coped much better with that nasty, expensive, foodstamps human food this cycle than I did. I spoiled myself with too many hot meals, was quite bored with cold, foodstamps stuff.

But at least I only had to roll my own cigarettes for two days.

1172

She had been walking along Fourteenth Street when, out of the corner of her eye, on the far fringe of defensive awareness, she sensed one of the ubiquitous urban nomads.
Ken Gross: A High Pressure System

1994. I was impressed. I certainly wouldn't have claimed to have coined the phrase, "urban nomad", but I hadn't seen it in print before.

From the same source: The men on the street who spoke of their hunger, begging for spare change to buy something to eat -- he didn't believe them either. Food was such an easy thing to find.

Indeed.

A look at the calendar for the next thirty-odd days is really quite depressing. This is the Final Day of Finals Week on campus. The next academic cycle begins on January 12th. Until then, the library will be closed on weekends (as well as on the next two Thursdays). Thank you, Jesus, thank you Gregory. And then ... Third Wednesday in January 2004 is as late as it can ever be.

Nowhere.

So, the "Blue Nowhere" is cyberspace, on-line life. One reader didn't believe me when I said it was more interesting than the "Grey Nowhere", waking off-line life. I told him his "life" must be more interesting than mine.

But I'm stuck when trying to find a color for the most interesting life of all, "The [indeterminate-color] Nowhere". I very rarely dream about color in a strong enough way to remember it when I wake, but I suspect my dreams are in color.

It's said that the older you get, the less sleep you require. I don't find that true in my case. Of course, it's partly the restrictions imposed by the Black Hole. I have to get there earlier than I might otherwise seek the comfort of sleep. And once there, I'd far rather escape into dreamland than deal with the reality of the place. But it's also because "the [indeterminate-color] nowhere" is by far the most interesting "life".

Last night I was in Nepal and Tibet, helping to set up an office for a "Minister of Art and Antiquities". Is there anything in "real life" which compares?

Not hardly.

As I immediately thought when first hearing about it, I suspect the Sleeptalker has not been entirely candid about the adventure which has landed him in Court. The Public Defender seems to think he has absolutely no possibility of getting off, will face either a fine (which he can't afford to pay), jail time, or community service. I advised him to go for community service. "You do the work, then at least you can come down in the evening and I'll buy you a beer," I said.

Well, at least until the middle of January 2004.

He told me he'd seen Angelo the night before, but had nothing good to say about him. Oh well, at least at this moment, all my favorite Bad Boys are out of jail.

We wish you a merry Christmas, we wish you a merry Christmas ....

1173

The Blue Nowhere.

A reader wrote:

BTW, the Upanishads seem to indicate that dream life *is* at the top of the "brain chain" - consider that Vishnu is portrayed as floating upon the sacred lake, asleep. A lotus grows out of his navel, and a new Brahma emerges from the lotus. Brahma opens his eyes, and a world comes into being - he closes his eyes, and another world goes out of existence. This happens for many thousands of years, then the lotus dies and shrinks into the belly of Vishnu, from whose navel emerges a new lotus...and a new Brahma.

Reminds me of the Psalmist's verse: "Send forth Your Spirit, and they shall be created, and You shall renew the face of the Earth."

Also, in a schema I am developing for human belief systems, one of the modalities (Humanistic) has as its objective that we develop our capabilities so that we can meet, implement, and extend our dreams. In a sense, this is an act of creation - abstract directly, but possibly concretized indirectly as a result of corollary action.

So I await your thoughts... :)


Nothing that profound.

Another reader wrote:

I ABSOLUTELY agree with you when you say the "Blue Nowhere" is far more interesting than the "Grey Nowhere."

We can be free to be whoever we are (or want to be) in the "Blue Nowhere." On line, no one can tell if we're rich or poor, homeless or otherwise, male or female, attractive or homely, tall or short, whatever. Of course, an individual's education - or lack of it - is discernable. Nevertheless, for the most part, the playing field in the "Blue Nowhere" is even and the opportunity to express oneself without regard to "appearances" is a gift that the "Grey Nowhere" could never offer.


I should just retire and let my readers write these things.

But ..... there is another "Nowhere". I've thought about it and decided to call it the "Lavender Nowhere". This is an echo from the distant past when I sent a rather precious short story to the Provincetown Review with "lavender" in the title. I got a scathingly sarcastic rejection letter. Oh well, at least it wasn't the standard printed form saying "thank you for your submission, but no thanks."

The Lavender Nowhere is fantasy life.

I said to another reader in an email that I'd really rather go to sleep for the next two weeks. The reply:

Play the Sleeping Beauty and have the Sleeptalker wake you ? ;-)

Cue up the Lavender Nowhere ...

1174

Sitting on a bench in the mall early on Christmas Eve morning, waiting for McD's to open. Reading a book. Someone walked near, paused. I was expecting a request for a cigarette. With reason, since it came a little later. Angelo. I first asked, "what are you doing up so early?" but then realized he probably hadn't been to sleep at all, no doubt spent the night with the pipe. But he looked fine, despite a too-short haircut.

It has been so long since I've spent time with him that I had difficulty in understanding much of what he said, partly because his hesitant manner of speaking was heavier than usual but also just because I'm out of practice. The PL is staying at some kind of crisis center, a place for homeless people with severe mental problems, and they won't let him contact her. He hadn't seen her for about two weeks, he said, and grumbled because the staff at that place is trying to persuade her that dope addicts are not the way to go when picking boyfriends. "They're right," I observed, but I hope not too unkindly.

He went down the list, asking who I'd seen. I told him about the Sleeptalker's upcoming court date and about Tanioka's bizarre begging for a cigarette and then appearing with a full premium-priced pack. "He's always been that way," Angelo said, echoing the Sleeptalker. But, no, I hadn't seen Rocky or Okinawa.

"You going to buy me breakfast?" he asked. "No, why should I?"

Okay, not a very nice attitude on Christmas Eve morning, but that man, much as I like him, has just kicked me too many times and there is always the instant feeling when he appears that I should hide my money.

Love sucks.

The Sleeptalker, meanwhile, appears to have reconciled with one of his patrons since he was in the game for hours on Tuesday morning, but was not playing on campus.

I won't write one of the too-prevalent "lonely old man at Christmas" essays which scatter the Web.

Bah, humbug.

1175

Those who so often erroneously try to tell us what weather we'll be having said the last weekend of 2003 was going to be stormy and very wet. Very. Flood warnings, etc. Evidently the storm system dropped most of its water over the ocean. Fine with me, and I'm sure the fish didn't mind. Now those "forecasters" are telling us we'll have heavy rain from Wednesday through at least Friday. Oh well, The Drudge Report featured an item on Monday saying "snow and hail in Hawaii". I assume the snow was at the volcano summits. We certainly didn't see any in Honolulu.

The headlined newspaper reports were enough to ensure the Black Hole being filled to capacity although, of course, in the days just before welfare money arrives, that place doesn't need any help in getting itself filled to the max.

Everything in the mall was closed on Christmas Day so I stayed on the bus in the morning as it rolled through the deserted place. In Waikiki, you'd hardly have known it was Christmas. Business as usual. So I had breakfast at Jack-in-the-Box, then strolled along the beach as the sun was rising, some hardy souls already splashing in the ocean. Well, they didn't have to be too hardy because the temperature suddenly got much warmer than it had been for two weeks, making me think I should switch back to tee-shirt and shorts. Changed my mind the day after Christmas when it got much cooler again.

I went to campus, fed the little furry ones. Lady Grey is missing again, hasn't been seen now for five days. I hope she's not off producing another batch. But perhaps if she is, she's decided to set up the nursery elsewhere. In mid-afternoon I returned to Waikiki, sat in the park at the base of Diamond Head having a second beer and continuing with another of John Sandford's Prey series. Hardly topical for the supposed spirit of the day, but then neither were the news reports I heard later on the radio.

Helen R invited me for a meal/and-or/movie but I declined, taking
Peter's position that it is better just to spend that loaded day alone (and be grateful when it's over and done with for another year). But I did join her for a late lunch on Sunday. "Hungarian Oxtail Soup" at Cuisine Tony. Tasty, but not up to my fond memories of that broth in Germany years and years ago. Delightful though, as always, to see Helen even though I had to confess that I've really had a very difficult time with her latest epic of science-fiction, just can't keep track of who is who and what they are doing.

And so we can put away the pretty lights and the tired decorations (those in the mall are really looking very tired after so many years) and soon, I hope, the damned music loops. The mall finally stopped their hideous collection of so-called Christmas music on Sunday but McD's was still drenched in that damned red-nosed reindeer on Monday morning.

1176

To: [a local mail-list]
Subject: The slipper that went to sea

The gutter at the crossing from Sinclair Library to the bus stop was a raging river yesterday afternoon, too wide to jump. When I waded into it the current knocked off one of my slippers and it went sailing rapidly down to a storm drain where it vanished, presumably off to the ocean.

Felt like a total idiot hobbling through Ala Moana wearing only one slipper and was grateful Long's has them very near the entrance (and doesn't ban barefoot shoppers).

-----

The highlight (or is that "lowlight") of the second day in the new year. The first day was gloomy and wet but the second was just plain awful. There were several heavy downpours in the morning but near mid-day it started to pour again and didn't stop for hours, not even slowing occasionally. I gave up around four o'clock, improvised a poncho from a garbage bag and headed for the bus stop. The sidewalks were ankle-deep in water but I had rolled up my pant legs and aside from becoming half barefoot managed to get to the mall only slightly soggy. Even the ordinarily sheltered "rainy day bench" wasn't, so I had to join refugees from the park who were sitting in Philo Walk, sharing a bench with the Duchess who wasn't happy about it, turned her back and went into her stooped sleeping position.

In the morning one of the large trees beside Hamilton Library evidently lost its grip in the drenched soil and fell into the street. Had there been stronger wind I'm sure there would have been more trees down, but that one was the only permanent damage on campus from the storm.

It was supposed to continue all weekend but mercifully went on its way more quickly than predicted. I hadn't been able to feed the kittens on Friday so gave them a double helping on Saturday. Lady Grey is still missing. Either something has happened to her or she's gone off to another location to produce a second litter. We were joined by a stranger on Saturday who looks very much like the kittens and has no notch-in-ear. I wonder if it's the father. He waited until they finished eating before going for the leftovers. When Andrew saw that, he returned to eat more as well. The stranger didn't return on Sunday.

I spent the final hours of 2003 and the first hours of 2004 sleeping a few inches from Mondo, wished him a happy new year when I arrived, the first time we've spoken since his return to the Black Hole. I told myself to stop wishing he'd get a haircut. Being less attractive makes him a better sleeping companion, after all.

1177

Elizabeth Hardwick is quoted as having said about Doris Lessing's The Golden Notebook: "The Golden Notebook is Doris Lessing's most important work and has left its mark upon the ideas and feelings of a whole generation of women."

Amazing it didn't turn them into a bunch of lemmings, rushing off to find the nearest seaside cliff.

Rather stupidly, I still now and then feel slightly guilty for reading so much light fiction, so I always seize something a little more substantial which appears on the bargain shelves. No problem here, the Lessing book is very definitely heavyweight.

A few times I've thought while reading it, or should I say whilst, "much ado about nothing", but perhaps more apt is the way the Pink Floyd summed it up in one phrase: hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way.

It's NSO Week on campus. New Student Orientation. So we get guided groups of the young people who will be arriving next week to launch their "college education". I've spotted one handsome prince already. Just as well, since the original Freshman of the Year hasn't been seen at all. Either he's a Business Admin student, a vicinity of campus I don't visit, or he dropped out.

The
Freshman/Sophomore/Junior/Senior of the Year (in years gone past) continues his brilliant career (although that's not a photo which explains his long-held title).

The rains have gone. The weather has been sunny and warm, beautiful, without a doubt the main reason I am grateful to live in these islands, especially in January.

The daily soap opera provided by Mother Nature in the Secluded Grove is often frustrating. Andrew and Thimble arrive, a chorus of plaintive meows begging for their lunch. They like to eat almost all of it, then take a break and return awhile later to finish it. But these wretched fat spotted-neck doves have discovered their leftovers as a prime source. They hang about like vultures, even venture rather dangerously close while waiting for the felines to depart. Eventually the furry ones do and then those stupid birds move in. The frantic way they go about eating the leftovers sprays it around, so if I continue to sit on my favorite bench I am apt to be rained with bits of cat food. Considering how much time the felines spend lusting after those birds down in the grove, I think they could at least defend their food.

Fool Moon in Hawaii, keep on shinin' ....

1178

I was relieved when someone told me in the game that the Sleeptalker had been in when I wasn't there. He disappeared for so long after his second court date that I feared he was in jail. But no, he's evidently back with his Chinatown Patron, came into the game on Wednesday. Mostly silent, very sullen when not, but on Thursday he was in a more lively mood. He said he was going away again, might be away for "a couple of months". Back to Waianae? Who knows.

I was likewise relieved to finish that Lessing book, almost gave up on it several times. Then, perusing the bargain shelves, I decided to re-read Tom Wolfe's A Man in Full and much enjoyed it. As I've said before, a lousy memory is a blessing when it comes to reading because I'd forgotten most of the details, had entirely forgotten one sub-plot. But then, memory or not, Wolfe is a man whose books are worth reading twice.

I've been in one of those "what a boring routine" moods when just shaving and brushing teeth each morning seems such a useless chore. Shall I become one of these old men who are so stinky and dirty that no one wants to get near them?

1179

'Tis the season to raise prices. Although nothing like the jump in transportation costs last year, the mailbox fee went up, beer jumped by eleven cents a bottle (even more at some stores) and now the discount store has raised the price of a pack of cigarettes. Meanwhile, the annual "Cost of Living Adjustment" to Social Security is 2.1 percent. So foodstamps dropped two dollars. Thanks a lot.

I continue to wallow in a state of just not wanting to do much of anything, but it was a pleasant enough weekend spent reading, drinking beer and listening to the radio.

I tuned in late to Saturday's broadcast from the Metropolitan Opera, at first had no idea what I was hearing. Obviously French (although the tenor's accent might have raised questions about even that). I finally guessed Massenet and was pleased to discover after Act One that I'd guessed right. "Werther". I don't think I've heard it before. Interesting enough, but that tenor annoyed me more and more and I gave up after the second act.

Of course the high point of the weekend was arriving in the secluded grove to find Lady Grey peering down at me from the wall. She even greeted me with a soft meow instead of a hiss so I suppose she was happy to see me, too, or at least happy to see the cans of food in my hand. Now to see if she shows up in a couple of weeks with more children.

All the supposed excitement of Mars moving into Aries seems to be hiding from me. Will life get more lively when the Monkey arrives?

1180

"I'm never coming back there again," vowed the Sleeptalker.
"Oh well, it was good to know you," I said, echoing a 50s song.

Even though it's only mid-January, I suspect that might well qualify for an award: Understatement of the Year.

He appeared in the game very briefly on Tuesday and minutes after saying that, said "they are chasing me out of here" and left. A library, a store? In any case, I assume he is back in Waianae. But experience tells us that his "never" is not too serious because he'll soon get bored out there in the country and show up at UH-Manoa.

I suspect he had yet another explosive conflict with his Chinatown Patron. He amended his in-game story about the Patron wanting him to leave because he didn't want people to think the Sleeptalker was gay, later telling me the Patron had said, "take your damned glass pipe and get out of here." That makes a lot more sense to me.

Tuesday was a pleasant, but boring (aside from his appearance) day. It had been predicted that we'd have solid rain on Wednesday. It was very gray and there was one heavy downpour but the biggest problem was the wind, which was
fierce. It was rather amusing to watch the little zebra doves struggling to stay on their feet as the wind pushed them along, even at the Rainy Day Bench at the mall.

I didn't go to Campus Center to hear Bush2's speech but as I said elsewhere, I have to wonder if there's a point where he can be declared "certifiably insane"?

1181

Synchronicity.

A lady of a certain age walked through the secluded grove and said, "Good to see you reading. I wish I had time for it."
"You have plenty of time."
"None," she said, rushing on to whatever she had to do that was more important than reading a book.

And Mitchell Dwyer, in his spendid "Chalkdust", wrote in his January 15th entry: Reading. As much as his many exploits interest me in a wide-variety of ways, what I most look forward to when I read his journal is an update on what he's reading.

Okay. Right now it's William Coughlin's The Court. I know Grisham is generally considered The Master of legal fantasy, but I think Coughlin is even better at it. My only problem is that I am coming very close to having read all of their books and, unlike Tom Wolfe, I'm not sure either of them deserve a second reading. But then, that goes for Patricia Cornwell and so many other contemporary writers.

I usually consume a book a day unless it's very large with small print when it might take two or three days. Not many of those found on the bargain shelves.

I don't remember when or how I learned to read, but I certainly knew how before I started school. And one of the nuisances of school was being assigned to read books I'd already long since read, sometimes more than once. (As a child I was more apt to repeat readings with a patience and interest I no longer have, with some exceptions.) Couldn't begin to count the number of times I've read and re-read Swiss Family Robinson. Or in later years, Steppenwolf.

Speaking of re-reading, as this Year of the Ram draws to a close I have been re-reading the Tales from it.

Yes, life was more interesting when the Bad Boys were more constant cast members.

1182

Well, after having praised Coughlin I have to admit that The Court is definitely not one of his best books. It just fizzles about three-quarters of the way through, like some of Danielle Steel's books. Maybe they just lose interest and rapidly finish it up to meet a nagging publisher's request (or to restore a positive balance on their credit cards)?

John Case's The Genesis Code is more engrossing with a praiseful quote from no less than Norman Mailer, but I'm only halfway through it so don't know if it will "fizzle" or not.

There has been, unusually, a drop in population at the Black Hole after the first half of SocSec retirees got their hand-out on Second Wednesday. Lucky people. But it has been sufficiently full that I've had to sleep in the smaller area for a couple of nights when the only bus that goes there in the evening has been very late in arriving at the mall. The arrival of that bus, where I find a spot on the floor for my mat, and the mystery of the campus locker .... the things in my life which need Valium to counteract the anxiety, such as it is. (I know, I know, I constantly tell myself it "doesn't matter".)

That requirement about emptying the locker on the first and third Saturdays of the month seems to be nonsense. For two months now, I've sat on one of the comfortable chairs at Campus Center with a view of the lockers and no one has arrived to do anything about collecting money, much less emptying out the lockers. That, of course, is fine with me. But the strange thing is, since this academic year began, those lockers have all been taken and yet no one is ever seen getting into one of them, not even on first and third Saturdays. I suspect the company that supplied the lockers is not making much, if any, money and hope they don't just abandon the project, take the lockers away. Yes, once again, I know, I know, I should just get a commercial locker and rid myself of this twice-monthly fret.

But do I really want to add to my monthly overhead? Okay, one more time, I know, I know, I could just throw all that stuff away and wouldn't be much worse off without it.

Saturday's "opera" from the Met was "The Merry Widow". No thanks. Of course, had it starred Fleming, I would have listened.

Thanks to a couple of kind folks who played Santa during the holidays and more especially the continued absence of Bad Boys in my life, this x equals time is more comfortable than usual, although still very tight. The felines will have to endure human food for three days, poor dears.

And me? Would I rather have had parties with Bad Boys during the past month and a penniless week before Third Wednesday? I don't suppose I need to answer that question.

1183

"Never" in the Sleeptalker's dictionary evidently means a couple of weeks, or less. After (finally) making a trip to the laundromat on Sunday morning and having lunch with the pussy cats in the secluded grove, I timed my arrival at the Rainy Day Bench so I'd be able to listen to Lasser's show. Didn't work out that way since the Sleeptalker and Tanioka were sitting there. When I teased the Sleeptalker about his "never coming back" vow, he said he had to see Tanioka. I translate that as "I wanted to smoke the pipe" which they had been doing during the night. Tanioka looked thoroughly wrecked but the Sleeptalker had managed to get some sleep so wasn't in his usual dour hangover mode.

He was all excited about an idea he has for a new area in the game and we spent some time talking about the details and the problems, a conversation he's eager to continue. No idea if it will go anywhere, especially since we're both too lazy to learn the technical details to produce a finished module, would have to rely on the Boss Lady to put in that stuff. Well, maybe I'll print the manual and see if I have the mental energy to learn at least some of the basics. Amusing exercise, anyway, talking about it.

The Sleeptalker had managed to bag a bottle of cologne and Tanioka had an expensive set of CDs so they eventually went off to sell the stuff, after the Sleeptalker had eaten most of the bread and cheese I'd bought for dinner.

I spent several hours on the holiday Monday with Helen R as we roamed from Manoa to the mall to the Black Hole and back to the mall via the Immigration building while she took photographs of the main places which were important in the early tales, part of a project I can't write about yet. Amusing, but made somewhat tedious by the holiday bus schedules which involved several lengthy waits. She kindly bought lunch when we finished, more than welcome since both cash and foodstamps were running on empty.

They were even more empty the next day when the Sleeptalker arrived on campus. He was just about to get on a bus to leave when he spotted me, also waiting for a bus across the street from where he was. He ran over and joined me on the trip to Chinatown. He was hungry but it was still a couple of hours before River of Life's free meal, so I bought him chips and a soda with foodstamps (plus a can of mackerel for the cats) taking the balance down to a little over two dollars, the lowest it has gotten in months.

I'd gone down there to get the cheapest cigarettes in town, told him it was unusual because in the week before Third Wednesday I'm usually limited to the roll-it-yourself variety. "That's because I wasn't around," he said. Yes, I confessed I had written about credit due to the absence of Bad Boys. No need, of course, in his presence to question which I'd prefer, a week of being broke because of his being around or having money because of him being missing.

Third Wednesday. I wonder if that brown envelope will be in the mailbox. Let us pray ...

1184

Let us pray ...

We didn't pray hard enough or long enough, or perhaps more importantly, early enough. One can hardly expect the gods to listen to us on the morning of Third Wednesday and miraculously make that envelope appear in the mailbox. My fault. I should have realized that if the Monday in the week of Third Wednesday is a Federal holiday, post office closed, mail is likely to be delayed.

And it was. I always carry a pouch of rolling tobacco with me in case I run out of cigarettes, so I was able to roll my own and smoke. And I had just enough money to buy a bottle of Japanese beer which was on sale. Luckily, I also found an abandoned plate lunch box with cabbage, rice and macaroni salad in it. Not a very nice day, though.

The "Earworm" played prophet on Thursday morning, was stuck on "we're in the money, we're in the money ...". Funny, when I had exactly five pennies in my pocket.

The Sleeptalker arrived on campus, we played the game for awhile and then I gave him the bus fare so we could go to the mall. "What's this for?" he asked. "I believe the bus fare is two dollars." He added it to some other bills he had in his pocket (I don't want to know how he got them.)

We went to the discount cigarette store where I bought my own supply and a pack of premium-priced ones for him. I, alas, said, "let's get some beer and go to the park."

Lady Moana came along, asked for "loose change" and told us His Lordship is in jail, probably for six months, although she didn't tell us why. I gave her, I think, about four dollars I had in my pocket.

The Sleeptalker fell asleep, with his arm stretched over the table. So I held his hand and stroked the soft hair on his arm. Sweet.

Then two young policemen arrived. Like I said, "alas". The usual situation in the park is that they make you pour out the beer, at the very worst give you something like a parking ticket. Not those two. They arrested us, put handcuffs on us. The skin on my arms apprears to be tissue-paper thin. I've mentioned the easy bruising before. Well, within minutes blood was pouring down my wrists. The policemen got quite disturbed by that, of course, called an ambulance. The medics put some bandages on me and we were driven on to jail.

"Are you HIV positive?" one of the cops asked. "I'm just concerned about your friend." (Like I was going to rub my blood on him?)

There's a new, very tacky police headquarters downtown and that's where they took us, to "holding cells". So cold in there, I was grateful for the thick wool blanket they gave us. We were separated, the Sleeptalker into a different cell. When I arrived there was a young man in there. We exchanged hello's, he asked if I'd ever been married. I said no, and settled onto my mat, pulled the blanket over my face. Next morning I heard he was in there for "domestic abuse".

Later they brought two more men in, one who snored so loudly it was impossible to sleep. I re-designed my "dream house", decided against a dining room and made it into a library instead.

In the morning, they gave us two tiny doughnuts for breakfast.

Then we were driven off to the courthouse, chained together with handcuffs, I think five people to the chain. Police persons kept asking me if I wanted to go to the hospital, seeing my bloody wrists. Well, since we had been given a little speech when let out of the cells telling us if we were ill or injured, we could go to the hospital and then they would deal with us afterwards "at our convenience", I certainly said no.

The Sleeptalker was brilliant before the judge. He's such an actor. Used perfect English, not a trace of his Waianae accent. When the judge asked if he was looking for work, he said "yes". I didn't laugh, but probably smiled. She fined him twenty-five dollars. He said he didn't have it. I was ready to jump up and say I'd pay it, but she just waved him off and let him go.

I have to go to court in mid-March. This isn't my first offense for drinking in the park and there's a little matter of having taken a dare and trying to steal a bottle of rum from a supermarket almost two years ago.

The Year of the Monkey is not off to an auspicious start.

1185

My dislike for telephones seems to be getting worse. A full-out phobia? Nevertheless I did manage (with some difficulty since the coins refused to fall into place the first two tries) to speak with someone at the Public Defender office. Appointment at one in the afternoon next Wednesday. Needless to say, I did seriously consider just ignoring the whole thing but then when/if I get busted again they'd probably throw the book at me.

On the afternoon after we were released, the Sleeptalker seemed to be coping with it all better than I was. But he had what I guess was a delayed reaction on Saturday. He was waiting for me at the Rainy Day Bench, ate most of the dinner I'd bought and shared my beer. After about an hour, for no reason that I could determine, he got up and walked off with the soda bottle half full of beer. He poured it out and kicked the bottle across the parking lot as he walked away. He is so prone to blaming other people for what happens to him, maybe that was the underlying reason for the brat attack.

Oh well, I bought another soda bottle (since I still had most of the beer in my bag) and enjoyed "Prairie Home Companion".

He was in the game on Sunday in his insult-match mood, said he didn't want friends who were "sexually confused". I said I wasn't in the least confused, knew exactly what I liked, suggested he look in the mirror. But I wasn't at all interested in prolonging the match so quit playing. He didn't appear on Monday, at least during the brief time I spent in the game.

Although the frazzled, slightly hysterical mood I was in on the day of release faded, it slowly shifted to depression on the weekend, aided, of course, by the Sleeptalker's tantrum. Heavy rain had been predicted but fortunately hit the other islands somehow bypassing us, so it was very pleasant weather and that helped keep the balance. Once I got past the nuisance of making that phone call everything had settled back to its usual state of somewhere between happiness and unhappiness without reaching either extreme.

Life is just a bowl of cherries ... or bananas, I guess, in honor of the Monkey.

1185a

I've neglected to mention two things. Mondo has short hair again. The Sleeptalker cut it.

In the holding cell before our appearance with the judge, Wobbly was there. Trespassing. He talks so much like Truman Capote.

The Sleeptalker arrived on campus Tuesday morning. The game was down, perhaps crashed by that cute new "worm" attacking networks everywhere.

He acted as if nothing had happened. Yes, I know by now, I take the "brat attacks" too seriously but even so, they do slightly mystify me, these Bad Boys. Part of their attraction, of course.

The Sleeptalker has gotten very interested in graffiti. He stops to examine every example we find (and there are oddly few here), and he has collected quite a number of pens, none of them equal to what he wants to do. He's also carrying two notebooks. In one he is writing "stories" (I haven't been invited to read any yet) and in the other he is doing drawings for what he'd like to do on a wall somewhere. He showed me some of them which were very good. Okay, even if I am obviously prejudiced in his favor, no matter what he does, they are indeed quite striking.

He said he's trying to get into a drug program which is associated with the Black Hole. In order to be accepted, he has to telephone them every day for a week to prove he's serious. (No way, no how, I'd make it into that group.) I said joining such a program certainly wouldn't do any harm but if he really wants to give up the pipe, why not just do it? He seems to think that being in the group is the way out of the Black Hole, into his own apartment, with his own computer, etc. Sigh. Go for it, my son.

Have I told you lately ....

1186

"You took a bath," said the Sleeptalker.
"What?!"
"You look sharp. You took a bath."

I guess if it's that obvious, I'd better make a point of having a shower at the Black Hole more often. It's not one of the most wonderful experiences one can have in life. More often than not, even if doing it in the early hours of the morning, one is stuck naked with an incredibly horrible example of mankind, equally naked. Some of them are not only visually grotesque, they make dreadful noises. Easy to understand why some men are alone and homeless.

Is it worth the price of looking "sharp"?

On Friday evening, waiting for the bus to the Black Hole, someone plopped down a bag on the bench, started removing his sweatshirt. Well, if a young man is going to start taking his clothes off so near to me, I am certainly going to look. When the sweatshirt got over his head, I saw it was Rocky, then wearing a tanktop. I told him he looked really good, specifically complimented his arms. (He does have an incredibly beautiful body, and has obviously been working on it.) He was pleased. He asked if we should smoke together but I declined, fool and coward that I am.

Hardly a Pulitzer, much less a Nobel, but I have added Greg Iles to my list of favorite living authors after his thoroughly enjoyable The Quiet Game. Totally Grisham territory, but Iles has a certain style which I find more intriguing ... that Southern decadence thing that makes so much American writing "intriguing".

I think Robert Crais will soon join him on the list. His L.A. noir style is just delightful. L.A. Requiem was a pleasure to read. On Saturday I finished it, thought I'd buy another book or two from the bargain shelves at the Japanese department store at the mall. Alas, they are renovating that section of the store and the bargain shelf is (I hope, only temporarily) gone. So I had to either take a long bus trip to buy cheap books or buy a premium priced one. Crais joined the select company of Anne Rice and Maeve Binchey when I paid eight dollars for his Hostage. Worth it. [Judging by the cover photos, Crais is also a class-a hunk, in addition to being a talented writer.]

Now to something quite strange. I had no idea the daughter of Harold Robbins is also a writer. Adréana Robbins. From her Paris Never Leaves You:

The homeless gathered around him while he opened the top of the box, setting it on a chair. Slices of pizza were passed around to eagerly awaiting hands. These odd characters were not a manifestation of a rebellious youth culture, like what had transpired in the sixties, but a random collection of a dozen people, ranging in age from their late teens to their late sixties, who didn't fit in anywhere else. Meanwhile, these vagrants shared their loneliness and their lunacy with each other. There was safety in numbers, in their mutual vulnerabilities, in their humility, and most of all, from surrendering their materialistic desires. They accepted their impoverished fate, taking what was offered to them, which must have given them a certain independence from society.

This, in the Luxembourg gardens. I like it, a certain independence.

Of course, I also like hearing the Sleeptalker tell me I am "looking sharp". He hadn't seen the photograph from Saturday's luncheon with Florida Mark, Helen R and the Dolphin.

A bit alarming that the Museum of Modern Art is going to "clean and restore" Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. I assume (and hope) they are going at it with extreme caution, else future generations will hate them forever.

Me, too, if for a shorter time.

1187

"There is no question of jail time," said the young man at the Public Defenders Office.

I am not at all sure whether I should have felt happy about that or not, but I did.

The Public Defenders Office is, oddly, not anywhere near the courthouse district of Honolulu, but further down the route of the Black Hole bus. (I so hate taking that bus more than I have to, I've made it clear to Helen R that I'd rather not see films at the Dole complex, just beyond the Black Hole.)

While I was sitting in the waiting area with a bunch of people who weren't much above the "dregs of society" I see every night at the Black Hole, I twice saw the very cute young lawyer who appeared with me and the Sleeptalker in Court after the night we spent in jail. He's not local Japanese, as I thought, but Vietnamese.

Can someone please send me a ticket to Saigon?

Well, I'll see him again because it appears he will be there with me at the appearance before the Judge in March. The other young man told me, aside from assuring me there would be no jail time, that if the Judge is in a "good mood" I'll be let off with "time served". Otherwise, I'll be given a choice between a fine or "community service". [= chain gang].

If that is the case, which would I choose? I said the fine.

[shrug]. He said "less than a hundred dollars", so no worse punishment than an Ice Follies, although not nearly as much fun.

Unless that P.D. wants to play ....

I'm so bad.

I'm also annoyed with the Sleeptalker. After that "you look sharp" exchange early on Sunday morning at the mall, he has just disappeared (again). He said about the Black Hole, "I'm not going back there", which I assume means the drug-rehab program is down the tubes. I had seen him rushing out of the place on the previous Friday, but didn't mention it.

I wish he'd tell me more honestly what is going on in his life, but then I can't really do anything about it, so why should he?

When I heard the news about Massachusetts, I thought, if I were twenty years younger, I'd ask him to go with me to Provincetown and get married.

1188

"What a horrible haircut!" I said, and wished later I had been more diplomatic.
"My sister cut it," the Sleeptalker explained, thus telling me he had been out in the country.

She did quite a job, hardly any hair left.

He came to look for me at the Rainy Day Bench. I gave him most of my dinner, chili and rice I'd just bought, and told him about my adventure at the Public Defenders Office. He asked if people had been talking about him in the game and I said, "yes, we were just talking about you yesterday." My title in the game said I was going to forget about Valentine's Day and the Boss Lady asked why. I said because [the Sleeptalker] wasn't going to be my Valentine. Then added, "unless I get a bane". (Bane = elvenbane, a very special sword.) "You'd bribe him?" asked another player. "Of course. It wouldn't be the first time."

He enjoyed hearing about the exchange, and I was surprised he didn't appear on campus the next day. But after he finished my dinner, he gave me the closed fist "handshake" (an easy one, by local standards, where you just make a fist and touch it to the other one) and said he had to go "earn" some money. Earn, in this case, via the Angelo method. I hope he doesn't end up in jail, but people who steal inevitably, eventually, get caught.

Oh well.

I got a letter from Felix. He's had pneumonia but is recovering. He was smarter than I was and got intervention early enough to be spared hospital time. He sent me a photograph of his current bad boys. (He works at some kind of anthroposophical centre where they get four young European "interns" each year.) None of them as dazzling as the one he fell for last year, but there is one who is quite fascinating. Felix's interest in Rudolf Steiner is paying off in his old age.

The Cat Lady made an unusual appearance in the secluded grove early on Thursday morning. She normally only visits in the evenings or on weekends when there is no parking fee. She told me the latest news from the "anti-cat faction" on campus, people who want to see all the cats vanish. Their latest claim is that "cats attract rats". [!] "Must be suicidal rats," I said, adding that I've never seen a rat on this campus. Lots of cats, birds, and the occasional mongoose, but never a rat.

Kory K tells me that
Harold Kama and John Feary have jobs as truckers, delivering beer to retail establishments. It's a job I certainly want someone to do, but it seems a shame that two of the most talented young musicians in these islands have to do it.

1189

Does anyone know where I can buy a bomb? One big enough to blow up the Metropolitan Opera House in NYC. (Honest, I would try to use it when no one was there.)

What an extraordinarily vulgar production of Verdi's wonderful "Rigoletto" they gave us on Saturday afternoon. If they do that to "Traviata" next month, I will want to bomb the place, but maybe Fleming will save it all, despite inadequate support. (Is there a decent tenor alive these days?).

If so, certainly wasn't in that production. I was feeling a little, just a little, more kindly about the soprano until she shrilled "Caro nome" and then I put the radio back in my bag.

Once again, the weather guessers predicted several days of storms and heavy rains and it didn't happen. A few light showers now and then but, all in all, a pleasant weekend. It was so warm on Sunday I was tempted to return to shorts and tee shirt. This week they are again predicting stormy weather at the end of the week. It's fine with me if they are mistaken one more time.

Excitement at the Rainy Day Bench on Friday evening when a large local man went running by. A few minutes later he returned with another large local man, some poor bugger in handcuffs being escorted between them back into the Sears store. I was grateful I didn't know the culprit; it would be quite upsetting to see them hauling Angelo, Tanioka or the Sleeptalker along the sidewalk like that.

None of those culprits made an appearance, with or without handcuffs. Considering how enthusiastically interested in the game the Sleeptalker was during our last conversation, I assume he has gone back to the country. Otherwise, he would surely by now have appeared on campus.

The game was especially amusing on Saturday morning. Then I took a break to listen to the broadcast of "Rigoletto", inspiring the above rant. Ham-it-up tenors certainly seem to be in vogue at the Metropolitan Opera this season.

Prairie Home Companion provided much better listening later, a live broadcast from Hot Springs, Arkansas (with ample opportunities for pokes at Bill Clinton). But I deliberately skipped Lasser's show on Sunday. The last thing I need is an hour of songs about "embracing".

Embrace me, my sweet embraceable you ...

1190

"I guess I'm getting too old for you," said the Sleeptalker.
"I don't think you will ever get too old for me, you sweet man," I assured him.

He arrived at the Rainy Day Bench on Tuesday evening with one goal in mind, getting me to fill the glass pipe, to share it with him, and be rewarded with his ever-desirable body. I just couldn't do it. Life is in one of those times when the balance seems more than usually precarious and I knew that smoking that drug, staying up all night and suffering through the next day would do absolutely nothing to make things better, no matter how much I would have treasured the prize.

At first he was ranting about the problems "the courts" were giving him, but even though I tried several times during the conversation to get him to tell me what he'd been talking about, I still don't know. He'll undoubtedly eventually tell me.

He said he'd given up on the rehab project. Even though it offers a private room and a computer, it's "too much like being in jail." So he's staying out in the country, probably at his sister's place, traveling into town only to replenish his cash supply. I told him about seeing the man in handcuffs being led back into the department store, said if you end up running from the security guards, go in the other direction because I don't want to see you being led by here like that.

When he finally gave up, after an extended and touching effort to get me to change my mind about the pipe, said he was going "home", I told him it was always good to see him. And so it is.

I'm not at all sure I made the right decision in rejecting the opportunity he offered.

"It's so kind of you to feed those kitties," said a young lady walking through the secluded grove the next morning. "Every day," I said. How could I not feed those sweethearts?

1191

"Are you going to sleep next to me tonight?" the Sleeptalker asked flirtatiously, reminding me of that night half-a-decade ago at the hacienda when he asked, "are you ready to make love tonight?". I smiled and shook my head no. (I am convinced it is better for both of us to keep a distance at the Black Hole.)

The Sleeptalker has Weekly Resolutions instead of New Year Resolutions. "Never going back there again" applied to the Black Hole lasted little more than a week, since he was there on Thursday night. He also seems to have returned to his Chinatown Patron, playing the game on both Wednesday and Thursday afternoons.

A verbatim conversation there Wednesday (on a public channel):

'i made a big mistake at court too.'
'not that big, if you aren't in jail already'
'for some reason i couldnt talk to the judge'
'(probably why he's not in jail)'
'i tried to ask the judge what the meaning of double jepardy'
'your lawyer kicked you and said shut up?'
'i want a different lawyer and a different judge'
'you don't have any choice in these things, so live with it'
'i already did community service for those charges, on the same day, and now ive got it all over again, im sorry i wasnt aware of, never had to fight in court before. the fifth amendment'
'that's totally different, where you don't have to testify if it incriminates you'

I assume what has happened is that the Sleeptalker thinks he is being tried in court twice for the same offense, one for which he has already done the punishment of "community service". Even given the unreliability of our "justice" system applied to poor people, that seems highly unlikely to me. But if I can't get him to talk about the details, there's no way I can help him adjust his misperception.

1192

"That cat has beautiful eyes," said the Sleeptalker during his most recent visit to the secluded grove. Indeed she does. I'm grateful her children inherited Lady Grey's eyes, even though otherwise they far more resemble what I am sure is their father. He came to visit on the weekend and I noticed again how closely the kittens match his color and markings. But he's missing those Cleopatra eyes.

Lucky felines didn't have to endure nasty human food at all this cycle.

Every week has begun with the weather guessers telling us we could expect wet and stormy days at the end of it, but once again they were wrong. It did get much cooler (enough to send me to my locker to get the winter shirt I bought in November but haven't worn because it has been too mild for heavy flannel). It stayed pleasant, mostly sunny, and got sufficiently warmer that I finally abandoned that shirt, admitting that my "winter wardrobe" shopping this season has not been very successful.

The holiday weekend was rather dull. "Queen of Spades" is not one of my favorite operas. Ironically, the Met did a fine job of presenting it. Naughty of them to mess up one I like most and then do a decent job with a less favored one. At least they will be free of my carping next Saturday because I have no desire to participate in their Stravinsky triple-feature. (Not that I don't respect and admire him, I just don't want to listen to his music.)

Michael Lasser's show was unprecedented, the first time I have listened to his hour without ever having heard a single song he presented. Nor had I heard of the songwriter, John Wallowitch. Rather a Manhattan Noel Coward, with a very similar manner of singing his own material (and it was mostly recordings he'd done himself). Interesting, but I think there are other songwriters who perhaps more deserve an hour devoted to their work.

A fan of what is generally called "medical thrillers" has evidently sold a batch of them to the used bookshop because I've had quite a run of them. Rich people have clones made of themselves so they can harvest the poor things for organs once their own start to deteriorate; a mad scientist making clones from DNA found on religious relics (eventually coming up with You-Know-Who); a miracle drug that cures cancer, AIDS, Altzheimer's, etc., which big drug companies kill to keep secret; stuff I was grumbling about as being too far fetched on the very day I heard on the news that South Koreans have successfully cloned human foetuses. It's a brave new world ... well, a strange one, in any case.

The champ of the batch, though, was Bentley Little with his Dominion, and I'll join Stephen King in saying how much I enjoyed it, silly and improbable though it is. The "old gods", weakened through declining faith, take refuge in DNA and then with the right mating, get re-born. Dionysus, the first to return. Sexy god.

Speaking of sexy, The One hasn't been seen, in or out of the game, since that night at the Black Hole. I did see Angelo, though. Looks like he and the PL are reconciled since they were in the mall together one evening. They didn't see me. Angelo looked extremely stressed, which is not unusual when he's with the PL.

Meanwhile, the major debate raging right now is whether or not I buy a recording device for the Fleming Traviata, or do I just listen to it once and forget about "collecting". Collecting, after all, has been one of the silliest banes of my life.

1193

Digging through the bargain bookshelves, now and then a treasure is found. Such is Caleb Carr's splendid The Alienist. I have a fondness for "Victorian mysteries" (usually with little-old-lady Miss Marple types solving the dilemma), but I'm sure the writers of those would all agree that Carr sets a new standard with his fascinating novel set in the late 1800's in New York City.

I've neglected to mention a couple of unusual recent events. Kory K made one of his very rare visits to the secluded grove. He's so "wholesome" compared to most young men I talk with. (Take that as a compliment, Kory, not an insult.) And Mme de Crécy is being forced to vacate her long-time residence, so I made a brief visit there to reduce the stuff she has kindly been storing for me. There's hardly any reason to continue keeping an "office-suitable" wardrobe, so it all went into the trash. Not much was kept. The Willie K tee-shirt which Harold gave me (off his back) and a small wooden box with the India Notebooks and other little treasures. (I didn't open that at all, didn't want to have to decide if the contents were worth saving or not.)

$2.07 in December, $2.18 in January, now $3.12!! The supermarket at the mall has lost a beer-buying customer. (Those bottles can still be found for $2.07 in Chinatown and at my favorite cheap tobacco store.) On the other side of the economic scale, the baby strollers now only reward one quarter if they are returned, not two as they formerly did. Not surprisingly, there are many more of them seen abandoned. Unless they are very close to a return corral, I don't bother.

Another letter came from Felix, pushing the "recorder debate" over the edge when he wrote about enjoying some tapes he's made from past Met broadcasts (including a Mozart with Fleming). That one is available in a commercial recording, too, although I haven't yet found it. Well, I am sure I'd kick myself on Sunday, March 7th, if I hadn't recorded "La Traviata" the day before, and then Sears pushed it further over the edge by getting a Panasonic FM stereo/cassette recorder for about sixty dollars.

The Collector returns.

1194

She belonged to the type in which speech is an unaided emission of sound, in which the secret of being is impenetrably and incorruptibly kept.
Henry James: The Spoils of Poynton

Homeless men, especially those plus-forty, seem to generally fall into two categories. The absolute loners who never speak to anyone, except perhaps to say 'thank you' to a salesclerk, and those who just won't stop talking. If there is no one for them to talk to, they invent an invisible companion, or just talk to themselves.

We have a new absolute loner in the Rainy Day Bench area. I think he probably sleeps in the park because he heads off in that direction not long after sunset. Why he sits there the rest of the time doing nothing (like the old man whose exclusive area that was before I discovered it), I don't know. Like I've said, maybe they are more spiritually advanced than I. Not a chance I could sit for hours doing nothing, no book, no radio.

The ones who talk all the time have nothing interesting to say. It's either nostalgia for their (dubiously glorious) past, complaints about how the world is treating them, or schemes to "succeed". See
Kevin for a really typical homeless man, plus-forty.

We have far too many of them at the Black Hole, and they never stop talking. All with an "unaided emission of sound."

The Henry James enthusiast who has been unloading books on the Hamilton cart has dumped some more. The three volume collection of letters to his family don't interest me because they are in French. Okay, okay, one of the (few) regrets in my life is that I didn't learn that elegant language, so much finer than this thing we call "English".

Curious, because this James book is something of a complete indictment against "collecting". Sorry, Henry, I'm going to ignore that aspect of your elegant novel, never mind synchronicity.

I had settled on my mat at the Black Hole on Friday night, was drifting toward sleep, when someone kicked my mat several times. I was ready, of course, to say "what the hell!", sat up and saw the Sleeptalker walking away. I waved to him.

1195

I wonder who's kissing her now.
Wonder who's teaching her how.
Wonder who's looking into her eyes
Breathing sighs, telling lies;
I wonder who's buying the wine,
For lips that I used to call mine.
Wonder if she ever tells him of me,
I wonder who's kissing her now.

HA! Michael Lasser played it in his wonderful hour of American songs on the weekend. I'm sure I know the song from the 50's, although I don't remember the specific recording, but evidently it dates from 1902 so maybe I know it from a previous life. It is without any contest the most popular selection of the Internal Jukebox. I've mentioned before in the Tales how I told that wretched earworm one morning, "shut up! no one is kissing him, he's having breakfast at the Black Hole."

If the Sleeptalker had arrived at the mall while it was playing I might have gone hysterical.

I bought the radio/cassette recorder on Saturday. The tape seems to be decent enough but the tuner isn't nearly as good as the little Sony I have. This may be a blessing since it puts the damper on casual recording. One thing I told myself when agreeing to the purchase was that I would not record the Lasser shows. Good thing it was tucked away in my locker because I couldn't have resisted on Sunday. I'll get a connecting cord, see if I can get better results using the Sony tuner linked to the Panasonic recorder but I have an idea I am in for lo-fi results either way. Never mind, it will do until her stupid record company records Fleming in a complete Traviata, not just the excerpt on her newest CD.

Strange book, The Spoils of Poynton. I'm not sure if I read it a long time ago, but I did anticipate the ending long before it arrived. Then I was most happy to find Caleb Carr's The Angel of Darkness on the bargain shelves, more tales of NYC in the late 1800's with the same cast of characters. I think Carr is definitely destined to join my list of "favorite living writers".

No Bad Boys all weekend, although I did see Mondo sprawled on a bus stop bench at the mall early on Monday morning. He has been missing from the Black Hole for awhile. No game all weekend, either. Maybe that bizarre Englishwoman is having another temper tantrum. Recently some foolishly undiplomatic player accused her of "doing nothing". She flew into a fit, explained that the automatic re-boot facility isn't working so the game shuts down at midnight its time and doesn't, as it should, re-start. So she has to do it. To prove her point she said she wouldn't bother the next day. And didn't. I don't really care that much except for its being a main point of contact with the Sleeptalker.

I wonder who's kissing him now ...

1196

A reader, with a unique reason to ask, wrote: "did you need glasses at 16?"

Yes. In my younger years I was "near-sighted", which is to say, anything at a distance was blurred and indistinct. My parents didn't realize that until I was seven or eight years old when they took me to see a Ringling Brothers & Barnum Bailey circus and noticed I was squinting through the whole thing (trying to see).

So I got tested and was one of those unfortunate children who had to wear pieces of glass over my eyes in order to see the blackboard in the classroom. (Little wonder I'd had a problem with the first year or two of school.)

By my thirties it steadily ceased to be a problem, I only wore the glasses when I was going to the theatre or to see a film (and I remember sometimes going to the cinema and forgetting to take them.)

Now it has completely reversed itself. I only need those pieces of glass before my eyes for "close-up" things, like reading a book or a computer screen.

Caleb Carr is quite shameless. In his (obviously wonderfully researched) tales of late-1800's NYC, he now and then introduces historical characters into his fiction. Theodore Roosevelt in The Alienist, now Clarence Darrow in The Angel of Darkness.

Knowing at the time nothing of the infamous "Monkey trial", my first encounter with Darrow was that film, "Compulsion", which touched me deeply. Leopold and Loeb. [Hideous photograph on that web page, not much like the film, although obviously the photo must be closer to historical reality.]

Oh well, I did have a HUGE crush on Dean Stockwell.

With or without my glasses.

1197

As I've noted before, I get off the bus one stop before the Black Hole so I can have a little walk and the last cigarette of the day. Sometimes the bus driver, obviously knowing what my final destination is, just ignores that stop. Very annoying. But on Tuesday evening, the driver did stop there and on my walk to the Black Hole, who should come strolling along but the Sleeptalker.

He was high on something, could tell it from his eyes. Probably the glass pipe. But he was lively and talkative, most of it about the game. Did I know he had suicided all his characters? Yes, I said, "yawn". "I don't have a character called Yawn," he said. Of course, I meant that it was nothing new, no one is anymore much excited by him suiciding his characters. I did tell him about the young (supposedly female) player who had said she was in love with him. (I just replied to her in the game saying, "good luck to you.")

And I told him the game hasn't been available since Friday of last week, explained the problem with the automatic re-boot. He thought he should send an email to the Mad Englishwoman, persuade her to keep it going. Well, she does like him, so maybe it might work, but he didn't show up on campus next day to try it.

Amongst the email which did show up was a photograph I haven't seen in many years. Oh yes, once we were young.

I chuckled at the news report that Bush2 stood in front of a painting of Theodore Roosevelt to announce his backing of a Constitutional Amendment to restrict "marriage" to a man and a woman. Cute of him to pick one of the, if not the, most macho presidents. Every weekday evening I put away my book and listen to NPR's "Marketplace", a half hour of news which is primarily based on economics, but of course these days, just about any news story is related to economics, so I get more or less a summary of what has happened during the day. Then I listen to the half-hour which follows, different each day. My favorite of those is definitely "Left Right and Center", a discussion group (made much more lively by Arianna Huffington) and one of their topics was this "gay marriage" nonsense.

I agreed with the speaker who said it was a "civil rights" issue and we'd just have to learn to live with it, like folks have been forced to live with black people sitting on the bus next to them, etc. I also agreed with the speaker who said government should get out of the "marriage" business. Let two people, of any sex, go to a government official and register a formal "civil union" with all the protections and benefits of the current "heterosexual marriage". But if they want "marriage", then they should seek some religious authority to grant them that "sacrament". Such an attitude would be far too sensible for Bush2.

But then, what isn't? I think I really must stir myself this time and register to vote.

1198

The headline on Thursday morning's newspaper telling us a severe storm was "marching" toward the islands wasn't really necessary. There was a most ominous feeling in the atmosphere. I made my usual early visit to the secluded grove, fed the furry ones, went online for awhile and then returned to the grove. But by then that ominous feeling was getting more and more obvious so I decided I'd best get myself to the mall, much earlier than is my habit. Good timing, since I got there just before rain started to fall. And then I had a front-row seat for the most impressive display of thunder and lightning I have seen in years. Streak lightning is rare here but I did see one dazzling example amidst the more usual flashes, and the thunder was awesome.

By late afternoon the storm had passed, and the Sleeptalker arrived, to my surprise. He had his post-pipe cough but was in a good mood and I much enjoyed the time with him. I told him I'd seen Angelo (on his own) in the mall earlier. The Sleeptalker showed me his new notebook and let me read what he's recently written.

And he kissed me. That's only the second time he has done that in these six years I've known him. He's keenly aware how it shocks me, the rascal.

We went off to the Black Hole where he stayed downstairs. The next morning he arrived in the secluded grove very early. The sky was gray but rain hadn't yet started to fall. I had a breakfast beer, a decadent indulgence I usually restrict to Sunday mornings, so he shared that and then we went on to Hamilton Library. Seventh Circle was still down. He emailed the crazy Englishwoman and got what I assume was an automatic response saying she was not answering her email. So we both created new characters in the grand-daddy of SMAUG MUDs, Realms of Despair and played for hours. We took a break to have breakfast at Paradise Palms and had just finished when the rain began.

And it rained ... and rained ... and rained.

Finally, at about three in the afternoon I said we might as well head to the mall since the rain obviously wasn't going to even slow down enough to allow a visit to Manoa Garden. He grabbed a garbage bag from a Hamilton toilet, I had an "emergency poncho" I'd bought after that last massive downpour (really just a thin plastic bag with a hood). At least this time I managed to cross the raging river in the street across from the bus stop without losing a slipper.

I sat in the front of the bus, he sat in the back. A few stops later, Rocky got on the bus, ignored me and walked to the back. Despite the fact that the Sleeptalker had vowed earlier he was not going to smoke the pipe again ("I wish I had ten dollars for every time you've said that"), I assume Rocky made the offer and they didn't leave the bus when we got to the mall. Oh well. It had been a delightful day with him, in one of his best moods, often chuckling over whatever had come into his mind, despite having a toothache from a troublesome wisdom tooth.

The storm absolutely raged for the rest of the day. There was one moment when it was as close to frightening as I have ever seen. Ferocious wind and rain so heavy it was like being in some gray fog, couldn't even see the apartment building across from the mall. I had to put my poncho back on, even on that sheltered bench. The birds all flew up to the top of the wall and cowered right under the overhang.

No getting off the bus one stop early, opted for the one closest to the Black Hole and was much relieved to get in there without being drenched. As I was getting my mat, Rocky was there. Good sign of just how bad the weather was when even he sought shelter, the first time I've seen him at the Black Hole.

I'd wondered why recently some of the newer security people had asked me what my first name is. There is another Vanderburg on the list! Good grief, what has this family come to.

1199



The care with which the rain is wrong and the green is wrong and the white is wrong, the care with which there is a chair and plenty of breathing.
from Gertrude Stein's Tender Buttons

Illustrations for Tender Buttons. New York City: Teuscher Editions . Ten original xerographs by Edward Meneeley; Folio designed by Wayne Adams. Copy signed by Meneeley.
Says the Yale catalogue from their Virgil Thomson Collection..

For the larger version of that photo see: Once We Were Young.

1965. Meneeley did a limited edition of prints. "Xerographs" in art-talk, Xerox copies in ordinary language, although on better quality paper than is the norm. He arranged objects (including, of course, buttons) on the glass plate of a Xerox machine. It surely must be one of the most successful things he ever did, has gotten him into many museum collections.

Wayne Adams, at his Teuscher Gallery in New York City, staged an exhibition for the work and in the smaller room of his gallery placed other works, including the one of mine you see in the background of that photo. It was a very large black-white-and-gray painting (probably the largest canvas I did, except for the Tolkien room), and included my variation on Picasso's portrait of Stein.

And we had, as you can tell from the photograph, a black-tie opening.

On the left in the photograph is Edward Meneeley, in the middle is Addison Metcalfe who bought the painting and eventually gave it, with the rest of his large Stein collection, to some college in Southern California. And I, of course, am on the right with my wine glass and cigarette.

Meneeley has kept the photo all these years and sent it to my French reader who kindly scanned it for me. I was quite touched by it and it certainly has gotten reaction from my readers. I printed it for the Sleeptalker on Friday, later told him he didn't have to keep it. "I want it," he said.

1200

Murder in the Secluded Grove.

I was (fortunately) engrossed in Caleb Carr's Killing Time so didn't notice it was indeed killing time. I looked up, after the vile deed had been done, and saw Veron playing with a "toy". I said to myself, "I hope that isn't what I think it is". But it was. After a particularly vigorous swat of his paw, I saw the wing. One of the little zebra doves. He swatted it around some more, then took the back of its neck in his mouth and carried it away.

Mother Nature, you really are not a very nice person, are you?

1201

Seventh Circle returned on Sunday. As suspected, that Crazy Englishwoman had let it stay crashed for a week, trying to force the Owner into doing something about the inoperative re-boot facility. The Owner probably hadn't even noticed, he hasn't taken any interest in the game for years. This, of course, has the C.E. in an absolutely foul mood, which has left a cloud of stink over the game all week. She is without any question the worst "administrator" I've ever encountered in a MUD. (In case anyone again searches the Tales for "Darkana", as they have done in the past, that's who I am talking about.)

Nevertheless, when I saw the Sleeptalker at the Black Hole on Monday evening, I told him the game was back. He was settled on a mat downstairs, but followed me up to the second floor, said he wanted to play the next day but had no bus fare. "You poor baby," I said, but gave him two dollars and said "get your eyes off it" when he looked longingly at the five I put back in my pocket.

So he showed up early on Tuesday morning, wearing all new clothes including a bright yellow tee shirt. Physically, he looked splendid but he has been going at that damned pipe too heavily. His brains are scrambled. He began in one of his best flirtatious moods (and he is indeed a master at flirting). We played the game and he started ranting about someone who was writing things about him on the walls in a "gay park toilet". [?] I asked what he was doing in a "gay park toilet" anyway, but got no reply (nor did I when I asked the question again later out of the game). But his ranting got on the Crazy Englishwoman's nerves and she first said "take it to tells" (i.e., off the public channel). Didn't seem to make much difference as I saw it because it was only the two of us and her. (When the game goes down for an extended time, people naturally find other things to do and don't always return.)

I don't know exactly what happened, because he didn't admit to it, but I assume he must have said something privately to her and she deleted the character. He re-created it, and she put a "site ban" on Hamilton Library, so no one could play from there. Didn't affect me since I was playing via LavaNet, but was certainly an extreme over-reaction on her part.

He was, of course, irate and I don't much blame him. He wanted beer, so we walked downhill to get beer where he wasn't content with the one I was buying him but also pocketed another can of the stuff. [sigh] Then his pipe-inspired paranoia went right off the scale when he accused his Chinatown patron of being "Darkana", said the patron didn't want him playing "his MUD". No point in any logical argument, the fact that we both know the game is based in California and Darkana is an Englishwoman, has absolutely nothing to do with his Chinatown patron. (Who may or may not be the person being accused of writing things about the Sleeptalker on bathroom walls, I couldn't get an intelligible explanation of that.)

Even though he has had nothing good to say about Angelo for weeks, he eventually said he had to go look for Angelo. Meaning the pipe, of course. Okay, let him look for Angelo or Tanioka or Rocky or whoever will share the pipe with him. I give up.

1202

A reader wrote: I hope he won't have slaughtered the Chinatown patron.

Well, if after all these years, the Sleeptalker hasn't yet killed me, I think the C.P. is safe. During the Sleeptalker's rant I said, "I suppose you say all this crap about me to other people," and judging by the sheepish grin on his face, I think I was on target. The Sleeptalker is, after all and alas, a "Fundamentalist Christian". He may be able to ignore the fact that homosexual sex is a "sin" but I don't think he'd be able to go so far as to ignore "thou shalt not kill."

Let us be grateful for small blessings ... in whatever form they come.

Not that I have ever cared if he did kill me. As I've told him, just do it in a way that you don't get caught. (But, of course, his conscience would catch him worse than any prison system could possibly do.)

We had a novelty on campus Wednesday morning, an exceptional break in routine. I walked up to the door at Hamilton Library and nothing happened, the door remained closed. I looked at my watch. A bit after eight in the morning. Ah, well, I had wondered why so many people were sitting around outside. The Great Honolulu Black-Out of 2004. No electricity, anywhere in the area. 40,000 people were supposedly affected by the (still mysterious) power failure.

I shrugged, went to buy a beer. On the bus to the shopping center I thought, uh-oh, the store may be closed, too. But apparently they had an emergency generator and it was open. So I bought beer and catfood, returned to the secluded grove (even though rain was threatening, as it has done almost constantly for days).

A new resident there. A very large cat who is a mix of dark gray striped patches and white. Alas, no notch in the ear. I immediately decided to call him "Bluto". So if I named PapaCat "PopEye", I guess I'd have to give Lady Grey the nickname, "Olive Oyl". Bluto, happily, waits until the youngsters have eaten before finishing up the leftovers. Then he sits and stares down at me as if to say, "haven't you got more?" Sorry, I am not buying cat food by the case.

On "Super Tuesday" evening my regular radio listening was not available, replaced by coverage of the day's many "primary" elections. I listened to that, heard Kerry's victory speech and the elegant, if a bit ass-kissing, surrender by Edwards, smirked at the news that Bush2 had called Kerry to congratulate him and had said he hoped the campaign would "focus on issues". Uh-huh, let's not talk about Bush2's military record (or lack of same) or his monumental lies.

And although I knew Bush2 is tasteless, I had no idea he would go so far as to include 9-11 scenes in his first television campaign commercials. Little wonder there is a protest, although in recent years one has to wonder whether the American public any more cares enough to protest anything .... or even to ask questions. Like just exactly what was the USA role in the Haiti mess?

Oh well, what do I really know or care about these things?

1203

I must have looked really "sharp" on Thursday, not that anyone I cared about noticed. I had a very early morning shower and then went to the laundromat. That's my most-procrastinated chore.

Peter, in my favorite (disgusting word)
"blog", initiated a discussion about "freedom". When I hear that word, my first thought is always Janis Joplin belting out "freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose." But to me, it also means spending as little time doing things you don't really want to do as you can possibly manage. When you arrange your life to satisfy that requirement, you have as much "freedom" as you are going to have this side of death.

Laundromat is very near the top of the list of things which don't spell "freedom".

But then, I spend every night doing what I don't want to be doing, sleeping at the Black Hole, so it's not too surprising I get really really picky about my waking hours.

Most peculiar at the Black Hole on Sunday night, something I've never seen before. I settled on my mat, draped a corner of my beach towel over my eyes, thought I might go to sleep if the internal jukebox would ever stop swinging away on "libiamo, libiamo ...". I heard a voice which was like some comedian playing a severely swish homosexual. "It's my first night here, love," the creature said. Well, I hope it's your last, I thought. This person was apparently annoyed because the man on the mat next to it was too close, explained that the one on the other side was "my friend". Eventually security people got involved to sort out the problem. Later I awoke needing to make (what has become an annoyingly frequent need) a visit to the toilet. Okay, okay, if I drink 40 ounces of beer at sunset, I really should not be too surprised that some of it will want to leave my body during the night. Well, "Miss Thing" was busily bobbing its head up and down on its "friend's" crotch! Without even the cover of a towel or sheet.

Oh well, to each their own. Let the good times roll.

The weekend was dominated by Giuseppe Verdi. I was quite right. I would have been very annoyed with myself if I hadn't screwed up this cycle's finances by acquiring a tape recorder.

So I listened to Verdi's "La Traviata" three times on the weekend. I'd listen to it again right now if I hadn't locked up both the machine and the tapes in my campus locker.

No matter, the internal jukebox has been stuck on it.

Di quelle amor ... or something like that. The only Italian I know is from opera. The internal jukebox knows it better than I do.

1204

"It's good to see you," I said, and meant it. A major surprise, too. Okinawa appeared in Hamilton Library on Thursday. He was with "a friend" who he mentioned several times, but I don't know who he meant (not someone I know, evidently). He and his friend had gotten banned from the Hawaii State Library, although the exact explanation about why that happened wasn't too clear.

He has lost his "prison fat" and looks again much the same as he did in



He was somewhat distressed about Tanioka who, judging from his description, has deteriorated back to his unshaven, not-too-clean pipe-shambled state. He'd also seen the Sleeptalker since that one got his "buzz cut" hairdo, and I wondered why the Sleeptalker hadn't mentioned to me that he'd seen Okinawa.

As I told Okinawa, I assume the Sleeptalker has gone back to his sister in the country since he hasn't been seen. Just as well, considering how heavily he'd been going at that damned pipe.

Reading. An unusual, rather melancholy novel by the Argentinian, William Gill, Unforgettable, about a very foolish young man who fell in love with a grande dame whom his father had also been in love with. Then some inconsequential American rubbish and, right now, a little detour into very grand French literature, Gaston Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera.

Go ahead, decide where sarcasm is being employed in this Tale.

[And my thanks to Maryse for her assistance in the above collage.]

1205

Dame Fortune went outrageous on the Monday morning before Spring officially arrives. But then so has the weather. With Spring only days away, we are getting the coldest weather we've had all winter.

But what she did was well beyond the nonsense the Weather Gods are giving us. I, as requested, went to the "7-D" location in the District Court, said "good morning" to what I later realized was my Opposition, the person representing the Law, and smiled at my cute lawyer (i.e., Public Defender). He wears too much greasy stuff in his hair and shouldn't be clogged in scuffed brown shoes, but otherwise is delicious. They checked me off their lists and I sat down, waited for almost two hours listening to other folks being chastised before it became my turn.

Later the Cutie came over, took me just outside the courtroom and muttered some stuff about "deferrence". I hadn't the least idea what he was talking about, told him to do whatever he thought best. Later it seemed this "deferrence" hinged on my going for "substance abuse evaluation". Screw that. I know I'm an alcoholic, but a relatively mild one, and I don't need anyone to "evaluate" me to determine that. So forget "deferrence", just get me out of here. I ended up with two fines which total $150, plus $50 "court costs", all to be paid by May 14th.

If I'd had a bit more money in my pocket, say, if the "trial" had been next Friday, I probably would have opted for jail time since I could have used the money to buy smokes while in jail.

But, as for Dame Fortune's outrageous trick, I had to listen while I was waiting as the Judge issued a warrant for the Sleeptalker's arrest, with bail set at $500, since the Sleeptalker failed to show up in court.

I assume this was in connection with his "double jeopardy" situation, whatever that is. Yes, quite outrageous. Dame Fortune must be an Aries person.

The Judge told me next time I am drinking in a public place I will probably go to jail, so I immediately went and bought a beer and drank it. In a public place. They can't seriously think the idea of "jail" is going to be a major deterrent to someone who lives at the Black Hole?!

As I was breaking the law, yet again, RobRoy came along, looking even cuter than the lawyer. I told him I was surprised not to have seen him this semester, wondered if he had dropped out. Well, yes, he said, he "surfed" through his first semester, "surfed" in this case meaning "flunked", and his family wisely decided he should earn the money himself if he wants a second try.

The Judge asked me if I was satisfied with my Public Defender. I said, "yes, completely", resisting the temptation to say "I could fall in love with him."

1206

Readers have written to protest that the "punishment doesn't fit the crime". I don't disagree, needless to say, but I could have "played the game" and made it easier. If I'd gone along with the "substance abuse evaluation", maybe have attended some "counseling sessions", I am sure the (blatantly anti-alcohol) judge would have reduced the penalties, maybe even have eliminated them altogether.

I didn't want to dance that dance. So I pay the price.

[Note what I said in a recent tale about "freedom".]

And then I thought later in the day, after I'd broken the law yet again by drinking beer in a public place, I should have asked the Judge for permission to speak after the Prosecutor said, "these offenses are all alcohol-related". I could have said, "no, Your Honor, they were all sex-related."

I'm such a wimp.

1207

Sniffle, sniffle. Charming way to greet Spring. Although I feel absolutely rotten, I think it will actually be a fairly mild headcold. And it certainly isn't a surprise to get one, given the number of people sneezing, snuffling, coughing in both Hamilton Library and the Black Hole. The worst thing is a fierce headache which neither aspirin nor sinus medication is fully relieving, so I assume it's as much to do with sinuses as an ordinary cold.

The last week of winter was, of course, dominated by the Courtroom drama. I've one more thing to say about that. I'm not at all complaining about the fine (and costs) for that shoplifting offense. It was a totally stupid thing to have done, trying to steal a bottle of rum (and I don't even like rum!). Of course, I was trying to get it to please a rather sexy young man I'd met in the park. For the first time, and I haven't seen him since. Yes, quite stupid. I do think the punishment for drinking a beer in the park was well overboard, however.

Anyway ... I spent very little time online on the preceding Saturday because it rained heavily for much of the day and I didn't even attempt to get to Hamilton Library. Ordinarily sheltered benches weren't, because of the combination of wind and rain. But I did find a fairly dry place to listen to the Met broadcast of "Don Giovanni". A decent production, if not magic. No temptation at all to tape it, since first of all, it isn't one of my favorite Mozart works and secondly, because I know there is the Solti/Fleming recording which eventually I shall hear.

The rest of the week wasn't exceptional. I haven't read Kate Wilhelm before, but gather she sometimes writes science fiction. Her Fault Lines was said by the paperback publisher to be science fiction (something I didn't notice until after I bought it), but it wasn't at all. Not an easy book to read, especially because it shifted so much between past and present, but quite impressive. So, too, was J.F. Freedman's Above the Law, although it was a much more "ordinary" novel, complete with courtroom drama. (I must say, the reality of a courtroom wasn't nearly as interesting as fictional accounts.)

Freedman said in the book, "sometimes simple pleasures are the best." I don't agree. They are always the best, not just sometimes.

After the courtroom drama, the most compelling aspect of the week was, of course, the suspense, waiting to see if Third Wednesday would be magic. Fortunately, it was, especially fortunate since I had less than a dollar in my pocket ... and the idea of spending Saint Patrick's Day without beer is totally blasphemous. The furry ones had to endure nasty human food for three days and I had to roll my cigarettes for those three days, too. I saw the Cat Lady on Sunday and told her about how my furry dependents were "suffering". She laughed and offered me some packets of food for them. No, I said, let them eat Alaskan salmon.

I fear my family of dependents may once again increase, because Lady Grey is showing noticeable signs of weight gain.

I felt very certain on Thursday that I would see the Sleeptalker, but my radar was malfunctioning ... unless he was the stranger in the game who said good morning to me. Maybe.

No game this coming weekend, and limited online time. The libraries will be closed for the beginning of Spring Break. I wonder if I'll make it through "Das Rheingold" without a libretto in hand?

1208

"I wonder if I'll make it through "Das Rheingold" without a libretto in hand?"

In a word: no. I kept thinking what beautiful music, if only they'd shut up. And after about an hour, I admitted to myself that I really didn't want to be listening. I'll obviously never make it through this new Ring Cycle the Met is offering.

Michael Lasser's hour of theatre music wasn't any more successful, even if I did listen to it all. Love songs of World War One was the theme, but it was almost all modern recordings. I can't believe he had to use Michael Feinstein for "Tipperary". He must be in love with Feinstein, in which case I'll try to forgive him. Wonderful early Garland recording, though, and a Jolson I've never heard. But then, even worse than his obsession with Feinstein, he spoke over the introduction to a Nora Bayes recording!!! Unforgiveable.

Barbarian.

[Look who's talking, turning off Rheingold.]

The tourism promoters will obviously hate me, but I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Spring in Hawaii sucks. DON'T come here in the spring.

And this Aries 2004 is surely proof, so far.

1209

I grow old, I grow old, I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled ...

Definitely my favorite phrase from Eliot. And very true on Tuesday. I do indeed grow old and because it was so wet I rolled up my trousers to keep them from getting soaked in the many puddles everywhere. The rain (which began on Saturday and rarely ceased) was so constant on Tuesday morning I feared I wouldn't be able to feed my feline friends. So I took a bus to the mall to have lunch on the Rainy Day Bench, upsetting the constant occupant who doesn't expect to see me until late afternoon. Too bad. But then the rain became more sporadic so I took a bus back to campus to feed the furry ones. I was so much later than usual that I was greeted with a chorus of meows.

Bluto was still absent but he did arrive early on Wednesday morning. One day recently he tried to get in before the little ones had eaten and I shooed him away. He must have been quite insulted because he stayed away for almost a week. Too bad for him, too. The little ones and their mama obviously don't like him and I have to admit there isn't much appealing about him. Still, he's welcome to their leftovers.

In the room women come and go, speaking of Michelangelo ...

Another favorite Eliot phrase. In my life the young men come and go, although none have ever spoken of Michelangelo. Travis at the supermarket appears to have moved on permanently and I surely do miss seeing him. But Angelo got on the morning bus at the "drug store" stop. Shopping for drugs at five in the morning. What a life. I just waved, he said hello and went to the back of the bus. In the mall I saw him walking toward the McDonald's area so I didn't go for my usual morning coffee, went on to campus instead. I didn't need to hear him ask for money or a free breakfast.

Since it's toward the end of the month, and with the awful weather, the Black Hole has been filled to the max. On Wednesday morning, standing at the bus stop, a young man came over and asked how to get to the YMCA. Perhaps he was a tourist who had tried one night at the Black Hole and decided it was too awful, couldn't blame him for that. He was horrified at having seen one of the enormous "B-52" roaches, wondered what they eat. I said I didn't know, but at least they don't bite. "They sure are ugly, though," he said. He wasn't.

The young men come and go ... even if I do grow old.

1210

I thought this was a practice which left the American publishing business decades ago. But "Warner Books" has had the unmitigated gall to publish an "abridged" version of the hardcover version of a novel in "paperback". How James Patterson, such an enormously successful author, allowed them to do this is a mystery to me. His most atypical novel, The Jester, written in collaboration with Andrew Gross, is such a departure from his usual offerings. I am NOT going to buy the hardcover version to see what I've missed. But I am impressed by the book and hope Patterson has the balls to refuse any such travesty in the future.

Book report time. I have a bunch of slips in my pocket about recent reading.

The bargain book section at Shirokiya, the Japanese department store at the mall, is now much larger than it was before their renovation. This is splendid, since the similar section at the used bookshop near campus has reduced its selection of books at one dollar or less. However, before I discovered that, I rummaged through the bookshop and came up with three books by Nora Roberts which were fairly entertaining. Local Hero and Dual Image were re-printed in one volume, Yesterday was the other. I skimmed over the descriptions of sexual intercourse, but otherwise enjoyed her amusing plots.

I also found there a delightful collection of short stories by Jeffrey Archer, a writer whose novels I much enjoy. A Quiver Full of Arrows. I rarely opt for short stories rather than a novel which can let me escape from reality for a longer time, but these are indeed elegant.

And I puzzled for a little while before buying Lawrence Sanders' McNally's Risk because I thought I'd read all of that delightful series. Oh well, it was only fifty cents, so I took my own "risk" and was pleased to realize I hadn't read it. That series is one of the most entertaining in modern American fiction. (Although not to be read if you are feeling in the least bit hungry.)

Judith Rossner, who I gather is most known for Looking for Mr. Goodbar (I only saw the film), thoroughly entertained me with her Perfidia, as did John Lescroart with his The 13th Juror.

Keep on writing, folks, but resist that nonsense of Patterson by letting them "abridge" your work. Tell them to print every word or else shove it.

1211

A homeless man is sprawled in a chair in Hamilton Library on Saturday afternoon, snoring loudly. I'm grateful he doesn't stay at the Black Hole. I wondered how Hamilton would deal with their generous new 24-hour policy three days a week, how they'd keep it from becoming an alternative to the Black Hole. Simple. From midnight until the usual opening time of 7:30, a UH ID is required to be in the library.

No one was in the library on Friday, of course. A reader asked how I'd spent the offline day and I replied, truthfully, "I smoked too much, I drank too much, I ate too much." The first two are not that unusual, the third almost never occurs except when I am in the company of Helen R. So it was on Kuhio Day, when Helen invited me to a holiday lunch. We agreed that if it happened to be pouring rain, we'd postpone the event until a brighter day. Well, it was certainly gray and gloomy all day but stayed dry until late afternoon. So we went to LikeLike Drive-In and tested a "special of the day", baked meatloaf. That included a cup of clam chowder to start, also two scoops of mashed potatoes (quite possibly the powdered version) and corn (quite possibly from a can). There was a light brown gravy over the meatloaf which was as bland as the meat itself. Brought back memories of the U.S. Army.

Archy McNally always seems to have exceptional food at his meals. Not fair.

Maybe I should be a fictional character, after all.

I hadn't noticed before on the menu that they offer "canned soup" (!) for $2.30. One of the options was "chicken noodle". Quite often one can buy cans of chicken noodle soup, three for a dollar, so it seems an awfully high mark-up, even considering they have to pay someone to carry the bowl to a table and someone to wash the bowl and spoon afterwards. But as I told Helen, at least they were honest about admitting it was from a can.

Helen showed me her cute little new toy, a digital camera which not only takes individual photos but can also do motion pictures with sound! It can accommodate a 512mb storage card. This essentially means a person could make a film for less than five hundred dollars. Oh this modern age ...

1212

There is a couple, a man and woman whom I'd guess are in their early forties. Since they carry backbacks, I'd also guess they are homeless. Very gaunt. If one wanted to do a variation on Grant Woods' "American Gothic", they'd be perfect models. They spend a lot of time at Hamilton Library (even more than I do). He has a serious problem with intestinal gas, if that's what it's called. In other words, he bombards the entire area with a very nasty aroma. Certainly not unused to that at the Black Hole, but it's annoying to suffer it every day in a library.

Spring Break meant a relatively deserted campus, especially welcome in a very wet week since the limited number of sheltered areas were available without competition. But I have to admit, it was not at all displeasing on the Monday after the break to once again walk amidst so many fine examples of young manhood.

Sunday before that was, amazingly enough, a pleasant sunny day. I'd been waiting for just such a day to listen to the CD my French Reader kindly sent me, a collection of Mozart arias sung by the inimitable Renée Fleming. As I told my reader, I don't really need ever again to hear anyone else sing that magical music (even if I did find it jarring now and then to have a selection so abruptly end when my mind was ready to hear the following notes). I'm out of practice at listening to collections of snippets from opera.

(I didn't particularly want to hear "Salome" on Saturday and certainly didn't want to listen to it with the interrupting begging bowl routine from KHPR, so the radio stayed in the bag. I did check on Sunday evening, heard they still need over $100,000 before they meet their "goal" so I guess the radio will remain in the bag for awhile.)

That enlarged section of one-dollar books at the Japanese department store is a real treasure trove. (They are dangling War and Peace at me right now but I haven't yet bitten, would prefer Dostoevsky.) The most delightful recent find was Andrew Greeley's
The Bishop and the Beggar Girl of St. Germain. Father Greeley's Blackie Ryan and Lawrence Sander's Archy McNally are definitely my two favorite contemporary fictional males.

My furry friends are shameless. As usual on the weekend, I went to the secluded grove very early in the morning. Andrew is always waiting, so I give him a can of food. Lady Grey and Thimble usually don't show up until later, sometimes not even until I return at lunchtime. If they do arrive before I end my early visit, I give them the second can of food. Then when I return at lunchtime they all sit at the top of the wall and beg for more. Well, I know she is soon going into seclusion for a few days to produce her next batch (it's clearly obvious now that event is coming), so I buy more food for them, muttering "I just can't afford this." On Saturday I once again had to chase Bluto away when he tried to budge in before the little ones. I must tell the Cat Lady that if she manages to catch him and take him off for neutering, to please return him somewhere else on campus (although I'm sure he'd soon find his way back). I do hope he's not the father of the next little ones.

On Sunday I had an email enquiry about the Sleeptalker from the other side of the planet, later got on the bus to the Black Hole. Tanioka was sitting there, asked about the Sleeptalker. I don't know, I don't know.

1213

If my grandmother was right, that when it is raining and the sun is shining at the same time it means the devil is beating his wife, then Mrs. Devil must have been in pretty bad shape on Tuesday. The rain this week is a more gentle one, unlike the heavy downpours in recent times, but oddly, I tend to get more wet. I mean, one doesn't go strolling in a heavy downpour (unless one is Gene Kelly and dances through it), but these lighter rains (showers) seem to suggest it is possible to walk for some distance without getting soaked. Not true, not true at all.

How wonderful the welfare cycle is almost here. Perhaps, despite the damp weather, it will reduce the population at the Black Hole. I agreed, and disagreed, with Ms. Maunakea, the director of the Black Hole, in the newspaper article Plans sought for homeless project. I disagree with her when she says a larger shelter isn't the answer. A larger shelter would be very welcome. But, of course, I agree with her that it is certainly not the final solution (if there is one). A larger shelter with decent plumbing, I might add. Yet again, one of the toilet/shower rooms upstairs at the Black Hole is out of commission. Maunakea really does need to make contact with the plumbers' union.

Amusing synchronicity with reading material suppliers. I don't think I have encountered Bernard Cornwell before although he has evidently written a number of "historical novels". At the Japanese department store, I found his Gallows Thief (London, a few years after Waterloo). Enjoyed it. My knowledge of history is far too limited to know if his book provides an authentic picture of London at that time, but I have a strong suspicion it does. Two days after I had finished it, looking at the Hamilton Library fifty-cent cart, his The Archer's Tale was there (called Harlequin except in the USA). I've only just begun it, but am impressed.

Now and then, I dip into past Tales, just randomly select something and read it. Funny, funny, Lord of Coincidence, that I picked tales from three years ago, beginning with the moment when my relationship with the Sleeptalker went from amusing flirtation to what I guess we could call "physical consummation". Oh, what a tortured time that was, probably more for me than for him.

Again, funny. I wasn't sure whether or not "consummation" had two m's, so I checked an online dictionary which said:

1 : the act of consummating ; specifically : the consummating of a marriage
2 : the ultimate end : FINISH


Nope, wasn't the FINISH at all. And certainly not marriage, at least for him.

Jonathan Cainer wrote: The trouble with being a perpetual teenager, is that the older you get, the less other people feel inclined to believe that, somewhere, deep down within, you are still just 17. They mistake your mixture of petulant excitability for cantankerous authoritarianism. You, meanwhile, continue to see yourself as a rebel even whilst performing extremely responsible tasks. Mars and Saturn now require you to make a sensible move. You would far prefer to do something rash or wild.

I (half jokingly said): "or just drink more beer to suppress the Aries manic swing ... "

Bluto is evidently sufficiently insulted, after me shooing him away, to remain away. But then on Wednesday morning, I was busy "suppressing" early in the morning. Andrew arrived to beg for breakfast. I ignored him. I just cannot afford two meals a day for those cats. I guess he must have gone exploring to find sustinence elsewhere because when I returned at lunchtime, only Lady Grey and Thimble were there to share the two cans of food I'd had in my bag when Andrew had earlier been begging.

Terrible, how easy it is to establish and maintain "bad" habits, when it's so much more difficult to maintain "good" ones.

1214

I grow old, I grow old ...

How to grow old gracefully? I suppose the first thing on the agenda is to give up sex. Just forget about it. You've had numerous wonderful experiences in your long life, but now ... just forget about it.

"You miss me, but I don't miss you."

The Sleeptalker, in the game on Wednesday, wanting to play verbal tennis. As I said in Tale 1207: ... unless he was the stranger in the game who said good morning to me. Maybe.

It was.

I smoked him out on Wednesday but without letting him know I'd done it, so then he brought in one of his known characters and made that remark. Don't you think I now have the right to slap the brat?

1215

Well, if one has to give up sex to grow old gracefully, then I guess I'm just faced with an ungraceful old age. Oh, I could give up sex ... with one exception.

And that exception arrived on campus Friday.

I told him he had once again been the star of a Tale with his recent remark in the game. "I say stupid things," he said. "It's always getting me into trouble."

Whenever I haven't seen him for awhile, I'm truly amazed by how absolutely desirable the Sleeptalker is for me. Even though he'd been "hanging out" with Tanioka and was obviously in a severe post-pipe condition, he was still adorable. Something was troubling him beyond the post-pipe depression but I couldn't get him to talk about it, although I sensed he actually wanted to. I also couldn't persuade him to tell me what he has been doing, out in Waianae all this time, but he still hasn't done anything about getting himself back on welfare, or even getting foodstamps. And he needs those because he's looking very thin, sunken cheeks and all.

I tried to do my bit, bought a large plate lunch and urged him to eat most of it. And I bought him cigarettes, shared beer with him. Eventually he complained about how "boring" life is. "You have food, beer, tobacco," I said, "what more do you need?"

Pipe-filling, of course. He got it, but I declined his invitation to go to The Garage and share it with him.

1216

Make an old man cry.

I hadn't heard the voice of Maria Callas in almost twenty years. But my French Reader sent me a tape cassette.

Within minutes after putting it in the machine and turning it on, tears were running down my cheeks. Good thing the campus was relatively deserted on Saturday afternoon.

I feel so honoured to have touched her hand when I gave her the rose.

-----

Ah, correction. It has been that long (and longer) since I've heard studio recordings of Callas, but I do have the bootleg tapes of the Mexico City Boheme which I've heard more recently, albeit not for a few years. Now that I have a tape machine again, I should probably get those tapes from Mme de Crécy.

Speaking of Crécy, I have to admit I got rather bored during Bernard Cornwell's lengthy description of that battle in The Archer's Tale. Amazing, the kings of both France and England actually on the battlefield. But a fine historical novel, and I shall no doubt buy the sequel, Vagabond.

In the meantime, I read Steve Martini's atypical novel, Critical Mass, not one of his best. And I tend to agree with Stephen King who is quoted as saying "brilliant writing" about Michael Marshall's The Straw Men.

Confucius reportedly said that if he had another fifty years to live, he would spend them all reading the I Ching. I could easily spend such a time listening to everything Maria Callas recorded.

1217

Oh these boys, these Bad Boys. Angelo arrived in the mall a little before 5:30 on Wednesday morning, offered me his body. I would have been happy to oblige but there's just no place to go at that hour of the morning. "Next time?" he asked, as he shook my hand and went on his way.

I really am struggling to keep the lid on Aries mania, the worst this year since 1972, but incidents like that are not helping.

The welfare cycle and, no doubt, the pleasant weather, meant an even larger than usual drop in the population at the Black Hole. Quite luxurious, to be able to arrive later than normally and to still have a selection of sleeping spots.

The pleasant weather began on the weekend when, except for a few brief, light showers, it remained sunny, dry and delightful. NPR has mercifully finished its fund-raising campaign so I had the radio back but I actually spent more time listening to tapes. Considering how satisfactory the tape mechanism performance, it's a shame Panasonic didn't put a better FM tuner in it. (I noted a Sony unit at the Japanese department store which would no doubt be far better, but am not at all sure I should sacrifice $199 to acquire it.)

I'm not too sure about radio anyway. Maybe I should just avoid the "news". I was appalled by a half-hour report on the Great Wall of Israel. How incredibly stupid of them. And, of course, there has not been one encouraging item about Bush2's insane war in Iraq for weeks, and it seems to be getting even worse.

Helen R has asked me a couple of times in recent months if I wanted to see a play at a tiny theatre she is involved with and each time I've said thanks, but no thanks. But when it is a play by Horton Foote, a wonderful writer, and set in Texas, 1947, I had to say yes. "The Trip to Bountiful". Splendid play, splendid production. Jo Pruden, in the lead role, gave the best performance I have yet seen on a Honolulu stage, brought to mind Gladys Cooper.

Helen didn't warn me that Mme de Crécy was going to be there. I would have gone to the laundromat to remove the smell of tobacco smoke from my clothes if I'd known. I was thinking about it on Tuesday evening, after listening to Left Right and Center, was walking through the mall muttering to myself when I ran into Helen. She asked if I'd had dinner. I said yes, although actually I'd only had lunch. I don't eat more than one meal a day anymore. But I told Helen she must abandon this attempt to get me and de Crécy together. I just don't think Madame much likes me anymore.

Can't blame her for that, am none too fond of myself these days. Oh well, all things must pass, and Taurus will eventually arrive.

1218

It's good to see the Boys, but I'm really not too crazy about encounters in the pre-dawn hour. They, of course, have been up all night puffing on that pipe, but I've been asleep, usually (especially in recent weeks) besieged with bizarre dreams, and just woke up. Not feeling at all sociable.

On Maundy Thursday morning it was Tanioka, who came walking by the bus stop near the Black Hole. I asked what he was doing way out there so early and he said, "looking for a date". I don't think he had me in mind, although Angelo did (again) when he, too, arrived at that bus stop on Saturday morning.

Tanioka was heavily laden with three black canvas bags. One bag, he said, was just books, including his dictionary. He asked if I had ever written a screenplay. I had to think for a moment before saying no, not quite sure whether or not the scenario I did for Four Saints in Three Acts would qualify. Tanioka thinks I should write a screenplay based on the Tales. This notion was recently, more jokingly, discussed in an email exchange where the emphasis was on deciding who should play the characters. But thinking about it, after Tanioka's remarks, the only sensible way would be to get Helen R to use her sweet new digital toy to do the "filming" and for everyone to play themselves. So all we need is a screenplay. And to get the cast together at one time, preferably not at five in the morning.

On Good Friday I went to see The Passion. It's a magnificent film, a true cinema masterwork, but it certainly was difficult to watch at times and I had to close my eyes during the most brutal minutes.

It dominated my thoughts for the rest of the day. The film must be even more difficult for "true believers" than for someone who has just now and then pretended to believe in the hope that the pretense might come true. On that score, the film didn't help at all, made me even more dubious about a "God" who would produce a son and let him go through that torture.

Great set-up for the Easter weekend, no?

Saturday was dull, partly relieved by Silly Giuseppe and his "Nabucco", quite nicely done by the Met even if it is such an outrageously overblown melodrama, and a fairly amusing Prairie Home Companion. And, of course, Angelo offering his body in the pre-dawn hour (not that, again, there was anywhere to take advantage of the offer).

Easter lunch with Helen R at the East Side Grill. We had agreed to have an Indian meal but the two India restaurants near the university were both closed. So instead of a fiery curry (India House does a great vindaloo), I had baked breaded oysters and an Absolut Bloody Mary. First time I've eaten oysters in years, first time I've had a Bloody Mary since I took the Sleeptalker to that place, also quite awhile ago.

And then the birthday which was totally unexceptional and, for much of the time, damp.

So, the Full Moon of Aries has been survived, as has Easter, and the birthday. What else can you show me, wacky ram?

1219

It's hardly a surprise when a politican gives evasive answers at a press conference.
It's just that Bush is so terrible at it ...
wrote
Tom Tomorrow.

The planets speak of an imminent 'rising of consciousness and conscience', all over the globe.
That should soon reduce the number of idiots holding high office!

says Jonathan Cainer

Let us hope he is right.

1220

The Met audience went quite wild after the second act of "Siegfried". Understandably so, since it was brilliant. Had I the good fortune to have been a friend of Richard Wagner, I would have tried to gently suggest Act Two was a little long (even before the contemporary "attention span" deficit). Nevertheless, a most impressive production.

Good news and bad news from the campus.

Good news: the Cat Lady confirmed my suspicions. The False Prophet has been banned. Someone finally made a complaint against him to the security people. I don't know what the exact details are, but evidently that dreadful man had complained so often to security about other people they were no doubt much pleased when they finally got a chance to get rid of him.

Good news, too, that they are finally working on Andrews Amphitheatre with the goal of re-opening it in the Fall. It is the most under-used resource of UH-Manoa, an outdoor "Greek theatre" which should be in constant use. If Bob Dylan had the good sense to select it as his Honolulu venue, it's long overdue the powers-that-be at the University woke up.

BAD news: a notice appeared saying "these lockers will be permanently removed on Friday, May 14th." Oh dear. I've been expecting it for some time, now. Nice of them to give such advance notice. So I shall have to go shopping for a commercial storage locker. Just what I needed, another addition to my monthly overhead.

Good or bad news? Not sure, but I think Lady Grey has given birth to her second batch. She was very large. I told the Cat Lady I thought this time it must be more than two. Now I wait for a couple of weeks to see her bring three (or four?) little sweethearts with her to lunch. As if it isn't bad enough with her first two. I give them their two cans of food, they gobble it down, then sit at the top of the wall and look down at me wanting more. I should probably stop feeding them altogether, force them to go elsewhere and look for provisions. If they are joined by several siblings, I might have to abandon the secluded grove for awhile.

I went totally nuts in April, financially (as well as other ways which we won't discuss). I really don't know how it happened because I only had the mailbox fee as an unusual expense in this SocSec cycle. But I ended up being faced with a penniless week. Wimp that I am, that made me feel quite suicidal, so I appealed to The Banker for the first time in many months.

When you're down and lonely, and you need a helping hand .... Yes, no doubt about it, James Taylor is as important to me as Richard Wagner.

1221

Poverty is so sordid. I see, though, how it is much worse when one knows it is just a temporary situation. Well, no, "relative poverty" will apparently be a part of my life for the rest of the time it continues, but being almost penniless is, of course, different, and entirely my fault. It's difficult to remember how I managed those years from the time this homeless adventure began and the interruption of the hospital episode which eventually resulted in extra income. I somehow survived on less than one hundred dollars a month. But that involved a lot of time and energy "scavenging". It's much more difficult to scavenge when you know you have money coming soon. Shouldn't be, but is.

And money being so scarce in these end-days of Aries 2004, I've returned to my former habit of relying on the State Library for reading material. Historical fiction continues its dominance. I'm engrossed now in the massive Homeland by John Jakes. It makes me feel very old because what he describes as almost ancient devices are things which were part of my childhood. Those "peep show machines" where you saw "moving pictures" from a series of cards with still photos (still available in the amusement park of my early youth), the "upright telephone" where the thing you spoke into was a little cone on a column and the earpiece was separate, which you placed back on some holding brackets on the pole after you'd finished the (often static-ridden) conversation.

As compelling as the Jakes novel was Tokyo Bay by Anthony Grey, a fictional account of Perry's "invasion" of Japan. Although Grey doesn't directly say so, he implies that arrogant visit laid the groundwork for Pearl Harbor. If his novel is historically accurate, quite understandable.

Thanks to the State Library, I also discovered a new series of the "little old lady" genre, Dorothy Gilman's Mrs. Pollifax heroine. Utterly, madly improbable plots but quite amusing diversion.

And James Ellroy's Suicide Hill. No one writes better about that "utterly, madly improbable" city of Los Angeles than Ellroy.

I spent some time on the web researching the various options for a storage locker, would have preferred one near a laundromat, but those are the 24-hour access places which are understandably more expensive. I shall investigate one, oddly enough, near The Garage even though it will mean a bus trip to a laundromat and back again. I don't need 24-hour access or a very big space and they have 2x4x4-feet lockers for less than $30 a month. Let us also hope they have a vacancy.

Given the wretched fines to pay, acquiring a storage locker, and maybe even a LavaNet bill (I never remember when it is next due), I have a nasty suspicion this "sordid poverty" will continue until mid-June.

1222

Quite simple, really. I got tired of being poor. Poor is disgusting. Poor means no one takes you seriously.
John Jakes: Homeland

Synchronicity, reading that about an hour after I'd written the previous Tale.

I didn't know who originally said carpe diem, but thanks to the web, I discovered (with a little more effort than I would have expected) that it was Horace. Sapias, vina liques, et spatio brevi spem longam reseces. dum loquimur, fugerit invida aetas: carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero.

"Strain the wine"?

Lords and Ladies ...

Lord Moana is out of prison. I saw him and Lady M in the mall. They didn't see me, and I ducked, went the other direction because I didn't want to hear "loose change?" He must have had a difficult time inside because he looked terrible, five years older.

Lord Stinkbomb and Lady Gaunt marched through the secluded grove on their way to make nasty odors in Hamilton Library. And yes, they do "march", her carrying a large Bible in her left hand, as usual.

Poor means no one takes you seriously.

That absurd supermarket at the mall has increased the price of beer yet again! This time they have raised the price of all forty-ounce bottles. "To hell with that," I said on the Tuesday before Third Wednesday, took the bus to Chinatown where I bought the same bottle with more than a $1.50 saving. Necessary on that Tuesday because I only had enough cash left for two bottles, had to give up my morning McD's coffee to save the fifty-two cents. But then I've been thinking about dropping that daily habit, anyway.

And, of course, being poor means your time is worth nothing, so you can spend almost an hour reading a book while riding on a bus, just to save a few pennies.

I begin to sound almost as awful as James Christian, the "homeless guy in NYC" who really annoys me with his constant reports of going to a "run" where he gets free clothes and bags and toiletries, etc. Not that I blame him for doing it, but he does it so often.

The Jakes novel was splendid. I much enjoyed and admire it.

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the tales