more tales from the year of the monkey


the monkey bull
1223-1226
1227-1230

twins of the monkey
1231-1235
1236-1239

monkey summer
1240-1247
1248-1256
1257-1265
1266-1270

tale end of the seventh
1271-1275

1223

Put a cellphone in a psychotic's hand and he could fake normalcy.
Jonathan Kellerman: Monster

I realized quite some time ago that these people who speak and rant at invisible companions should get a cellphone. Even if it's just a realistic toy, or a real cellphone that no longer works. They could sit there using their "cellphone" and no one would think it was anything strange.

There was a man walking back and forth around the Rainy Day Bench on Tuesday, ranting away into (what might have been) a cellphone. "I'm going to fire him, he's a shit!" he said.

Next day, without a cellphone, I said, "knock it off! just forget about it!". I was speaking to Lady Grey who came late to lunch on Third Wednesday and had nothing to eat but the scraps from her children. So she sat at the top of the wall and used her wonderful Cleopatra eyes trying to mesmerize me into going to buy more food.

No doubt about it. One reason I ran into financial difficulties in April was those cats, buying them extra rations almost every day. I must adjust my thinking, stop seeing them as adorable feline creatures, instead see them as homeless bums. No way I would spend as much money daily as I do on them for some human bum.

I took it right down to the line this time. Despite The Banker's help, I had eleven cents in cash, about seven dollars in foodstamps. (Oh well, neither I nor the felines would have starved had the SocSec check been late, but I might have died from thirst.) Mercifully, it wasn't.

But evidently, I had my last $1.99 beer on Tuesday's trip to Chinatown. Now even there the price has risen to $2.29. Overnight.

There has been a ranter, without enough sense to get a cellphone, who has recently come to the Rainy Day Beach area each evening. He lectures the setting sun. One evening I'd had a third beer (NOT a good idea) and made fun of him, jeered, in other words. He was apparently offended because he has since maintained quite some distance between me and my usual bench. Gott sei dank, his rantings can't be heard from there, especially if (as usual) I am listening to late afternoon radio.

If Arianna is off promoting a new book, NPR should just cancel Left Right and Center. Without her, it's dull.

Without the Sleeptalker, Seventh Circle is dull.

Maybe I should buy cellphones for me and the Sleeptalker, we could rant away at each other from a distance.

1224

"Now I can kill myself," I told The Banker when repaying his loan on Friday morning. Well, I could hardly purposely exit this plane of existence when owing him money, could I, especially after all these years of his kindness?

I had attempted to meet and repay him the day before at the Earth Day festivities on campus, at the newly christened "Sustainability Courtyard", but we failed to meet and I stomped out of the place after an excruciating hour of dreadful speeches which included a lot of hype about that "courtyard". Matt Swalinkovich (aka Makana) was supposed to have performed at 11:30. He was there, wearing a really ugly knit cap which seems to be something of a current fashion statement by young local men, but at 12:35 he still hadn't sung or played a note. This courtyard is a rather dull area between The Banker's building (I consoled him for having to work in the most ugly building on campus) and another building with a name that starts with a K (I won't attempt to spell it). Some months ago the little food/drink booth there changed to all-vegetarian and they have put in some wooden tables with benches, but it certainly isn't anything to justify the grandiose speeches I suffered through.

Missing persons.

The old couple who visited campus almost every day for years has been missing. She was looking increasingly frail. When I say "old", I am talking OLD ... like eighties, maybe even nineties. I would not have expected the survivor to have lasted much after the other one departed, as I once told the Psychologist in one of our conversations. I miss seeing them. Sweet old folks.

And Joe Guam has not been seen for weeks. When I took the bus to the mailbox on Third Wednesday, it was the first time in ages I've seen the beach park during daylight. The police seem to have loosened up a bit, because there were quite a few little "encampments" suggesting more people are living there again. But no glimpse of Joe. Of course, if he did get busted for drinking in the park, which he does (or did) every day, he'd no doubt be in jail because he wouldn't have been able to pay a fine.

In a nice contrast to the ever increasing prices of my daily needs, the used bookshop near campus has a ten-cent sale. Unfortunately, the selection is not too enticing. Either I've read them already or else they don't look like they are worth reading (no doubt explaining the bargain offer). In the latter category was a novel by Michael Korda about JFK and Marilyn. By page 28 I said, I don't need to read this, and threw it in the trash. But Stephen Coulter's The Chateau was entertaining, an historical novel about an American woman who married a Frenchman and went off to live in the Bordeaux area of France, among some very unpleasant French persons. (And the French are surely world champions at being unpleasant.) (Don't take that personally, French readers, or else take it as a compliment.)

Meanwhile, back on the ranch ... errr, the campus ... when I see one of them, I think "adorable!". When I see the two of them together, I think "ADORABLE!" But then people have no doubt been thinking that from the day they were born. We have identical twins on campus, Japanese lads. Indeed, adorable.

Sigh. As Gertrude Stein said, "my life, my long life ..."

1225

Missing persons. Amusing, that on the morning after I had written about the missing Joe Guam, I saw him early in the mall. He looked even more bedraggled than usual.

And that other missing person, the most important one, was, I am 99 percent sure, in the game on Saturday, incognito. I tried numerous gambits to remove his mask but failed. Two other players said publicly it was the Sleeptalker, with no admission from him either. Unless he plays absolutely silently, he has such a unique style he really can't hide. But even though he so coyly remained anonymous, it was good to know he's okay.

I listened to the first act of "Die Gotterdammerung" on Saturday, but that was enough Wagner for me. Seemed like a decent performance. Later I wrote to Felix on one of the five postcards I sent him on the weekend, Richard Wagner was a shameless hussy.

On other cards I said: I've gone manic (as if you couldn't guess) and I'm too old for this. True, too true.

(That was on the other side of the cards, with the main side being some stuff the Sleeptalker and I did together beginning last year, to which I invited Felix's contribution.)

One thing I'll really miss about not having the campus locker is the ability, when I can spare four quarters, to get the CD player or the tape machine out on a whim to listen to something from my small, but choice, selection of recorded music. I did that on Sunday, listening to "Four Saints in Three Acts". What a work of genius that is.

1226

I inhaled Danny's scent while I still held him close, the musky odor that comes when your last shower and dose of deodorant have worn off and you start to smell human again. It was wildly intoxicating, better than any cologne.
John Morgan Wilson: Revision of Justice

Synchronicity. I was thinking at the Black Hole, the night before reading that, when a man came out of the showers reeking of artificial scent, I'd rather smell good old-fashioned B.O. than these chemicals. Although it would be much better if I didn't feel wild intoxication at the Black Hole, for any reason.

Unless you suffer from homophobia, I thoroughly recommend Wilson's novel. Off-beat, but admirable.

It's strange. As I grow older, all the senses deteriorate except smell.

manic depressive

I don't much like the term but I suppose it's a fairly accurate description. When you are younger, if you are a manic depressive type, you can go with a manic swing, let yourself get somewhat crazy, lose friends, screw up your life, at least temporarily. When you get older, it is just exhausting. You have to be careful every moment. Like I recently said, "I'm too old for this."

1227

Erratic weather, during the transition from April to May. For several days during the last week of April it was amazingly cool for this time of year, downright cold in the pre-dawn hour. I had already discarded my winter shirts (sick of wearing them) but had to go to the discount clothing store and buy a cheap long-sleeved shirt. That visit reminded me, yet again, that I really could give up laundromats for the rest of my life and just buy cheap new clothes, throw the dirty ones away.

But then, that had been a large part of the debate about undertaking the overhead of a storage locker. The clothes wouldn't matter in the least, could throw them all away. But there are a lot of "drawings" there, including ones done with the Sleeptalker, and the music collection, on both CD and cassette. Even some photographs from my earlier life.

My body seems to be protesting about too much sleep, which is not really a surprise. I wake up between 3:30 and four in the morning, can't go back to sleep and there's nothing to do but lie there and think until it's time for the first bus at 5:10 (during the week, on the weekends it doesn't come until 5:25). So I debate this and that, chastise myself for some of the things I'd written the day before online, worry about the locker, wonder if I should pay those damned fines or just go to jail for awhile.

Odd, that both the locker deadline and the fines deadline is May 14th.

The Met broadcast season is over, so now we have tapes from performances at various opera houses in Europe, beginning with Gassman's "Opera Seria" from the Theatre Champs-Elsysees [sic, from the PBS website], Paris. I have never heard it before, in fact, I've never heard of the composer before. I thought, as I told Felix on my usual Saturday afternoon postcard, that it was very "silly". But then, in the introductory remarks we were told that the thing was actually a satire, an opera within an opera, commenting on how silly opera at that time was. There was one very handsome aria for tenor, though.

Alison Krauss, on Prairie Home Companion that evening, touched me deeply.

That April-to-May transition has been much accented by India. As is usually the case at this time of the year, I have been re-reading the India Notebooks. Extraordinary, of all the things I have created in my long life, all the things I have owned, I've managed to keep those two little books for thirty-one years.

And I think those two little books are among the best things I've ever done.

As well, I was reading Paul Scott's A Division of the Spoils. Re-reading, since I read his entire Taj Quartet decades ago, soon after they were first published. He does a splendid job of describing the British during the last days of the Raj but the book totally fails to capture any sense of the real India. That was no doubt deliberate, since the British never understood it when they were there.

Then to top it off, Helen R. invited me to lunch at India House. Lamb vindaloo curry which was as good as I've ever had, anywhere in the world. But SO expensive! Reading in the Notebooks, I was amused to note that I had arranged to have all three daily meals at the Mussoorie YWCA ... and for about three dollars a week! That vindaloo curry would have fed me for a month in 1973 Mussoorie.

Someone important in my life has died. I've only had this experience three times in my long life, but it is eerie and unmistakeable. I even think I know who, but I shall pretend I don't, because I've always hoped I would meet him yet one more time.

Next life, then. I hope I can dance better with you than I did this time, I really do hope so.

1228

Did financial calculations which are dire to say the least, already owe 320 rupees here.

The India Notebooks, again. About forty-five dollars. My life, my long life.

We get by with a little help from our friends ...
So one cloud is lifted from above my head. I paid those wretched fines on Monday. They maintain the "make you feel like a lousy criminal" to the very last minute. You go to the third floor, hand over the papers you were given after the Judge was such an asshole. It's all on the computers, but they have to "do the paperwork" and write down stuff on multi-carbon forms. Then the man gave me one of the copies and told me I had to go to the fourth floor to hand over the money. (This, after having had to go through an airport-type security arrangement to even get into the building.)

Seeing such a multitude of files in that place, I did wonder if I hadn't paid the fine, they'd ever realize it and come looking for me, but maybe the computer rules ... eventually.

In any case, my career as a criminal is now spotless, they have no reason to look for me. I'll just have to find some other way to go to jail and hang out with cute young local boys.

1229

Dear Senator Clinton: I have nothing against you. In fact, I rather admire you. But I'd prefer it if you stay out of my dreams. I really don't care that you had "two children" before Bill and Chelsea, although I was amused by the way you put it.

If I am going to have a celebrity in my dreams, why can't it be Brad Pitt? He's on the cover of two magazines right now and I have to gird my loins so as not to fall on my side when I go into a 7-Eleven. What a gorgeous man. I'd sell my soul, if there were any market for it, just for one hour alone with the naked him. I had planned to see "Troy" on its opening day (a week from Friday) but I'll wait and see it with Helen R on the weekend after.

Judging from what I've seen of it so far, it's another one of those films where he looks ugly. He seems to really like that, and yet allows himself to look beautiful on magazine covers.

Strange boy. But no movie actor since James Dean has so fascinated me.

Speaking of J.D., I do get some odd emails. Someone asked me "which deaths of public figures most affected you?" An easy question to answer: James Dean, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, John Lennon.

Another correspondent asked "who were the most important women in your life?" That's a little more difficult. I know, most men would probably begin the list with their mother. But for me, it was my maternal grandmother who was the first important woman. Cleo Ruth Preston (as she called herself then, changing last names with each husband). After that ... well, Jonnie Mae Rogers, a Texas girl whose brassiere I threw into a tree outside her window. No, it wasn't the one she was wearing and refused to remove for me. Then Betty Mathis, who was replaced by Sally Ann Leight. Betty was the first woman who let me feel her tits and I realized, even then, it wasn't as exciting as it was supposed to be. Sally didn't. Never mind, then Frances Dickenson, certainly one of the most important people in my life. After that ... Anne Winchester, who first refused to marry me, and then later asked me to marry her so she could get American citizenship. The Black Lawyer adamantly opposed the notion.

What a strange life this has been, or as the Dead said so perfectly, what a long, strange trip it's been.

Happy birthday, Egbert.

1230

The Boys seem to see me as a mobile supply station. The most usual request is, of course, for a cigarette. But I've had requests for toothpaste, deodorant, Vaseline, and, especially from Angelo, for a "Q-tip". He uses them to clean his glass pipe, I use them to clean out the residue from using "cotton and wax" earplugs. And that was what Tanioka asked me for on the Friday evening bus to the Black Hole. Did I have any extra earplugs? Fortunately, I had two which had never been used, gave them to him.

He didn't get off the bus at the GovSanc2 stop so must be sleeping somewhere else. When I was sleeping outside, I wouldn't use the earplugs except at the Hacienda. There I knew I was relatively safe, since Rocky or the Big Local Dude would stomp on any troublemakers, so I could block my hearing and sleep. At the Black Hole, they are a blessing because they subdue the snores and other noises. Sometimes I think I should stick two in my nose. But every Third Wednesday, a box of six of those earplugs is on my "essential shopping list".

If the Sleeptalker was telling the truth when he said "sometimes I think I can hear you calling me", he must be feeling quite a tug these days. I'd really like to see him.

After a fierce and extended internal debate, I have decided not to get a locker. I'll send off the things which are in it that I think other people might enjoy having and throw the rest away.

I should probably throw away my radio, too. It's not a good time to listen to news reports, a time to feel embarrassed to be an "American".

1231

It should be against the law for cute young men to stroll on campus with an erection clearly noticeable in the front of their shorts. I saw such a thing the day before Gemini arrived. On the other hand, maybe there should be a law forbidding them to stroll on campus unless they are in that condition. Wouldn't do much for my peace of mind, but would be interesting.

Not much peace of mind lately, anyway, and that would definitely be a better reason not to have it than the ones which have contributed to my recent imbalance.

I am oddly discomforted by having no clothing except what I am wearing, a result of the disappearing locker. If I don't adjust, sensibly, then I'll just have to get a backpack and carry a second clothing option or get a locker after all. The more reasonable thing would be to just keep a twenty dollar bill tucked away at all times in case I am in some kind of urgent need for replacement clothes. But then I should do that at all times, anyway.

And as I have repeatedly told myself in this week since the locker disappeared, it really doesn't matter.

The Sleeptalker appeared in the game. He was calling himself "Ciro", but he quickly let me know who he was. I told him I didn't believe it, that the Sleeptalker wouldn't pick a name which sounded like a perfume or a nightclub. "We slept together next to a high school one night," he said. Sweet, to pick that example, the night before the morning of "I don't believe it happened, I was all drunk and everything." Very much sweeter than saying "we were dragged out of the beach park in handcuffs together."

He didn't have two dollars for the bus fare into town (being out in the country, again). "Don't you have anyone who would loan you two dollars?" I asked, since I certainly would have given him the money to re-pay it, and to get home again (wherever home may be). He said maybe his sister, but I suspect his sister hears the word "loan" from him the same way I hear it from Angelo. In any case, he hasn't yet been seen, nor has he again been in the game.

And now it's Gemini, the Season of the Sleeptalker.

1232

Murder in the Secluded Grove ... again.

I am sorry, Your Honour, didn't actually witness the deed. I was engrossed in my book, didn't notice that a certain black-and-white cat was stalking. I don't know what the unfortunate bird's excuse was for not paying attention, but the consequences were dire. I heard a frantic flapping of wings, looked up and saw feathers scattering. Then that certain black-and-white cat went running out of the grove with a body in its mouth.

Veron, the Serial Killer.

I've stopped feeding birds there because it's just too dangerous for them.

But happier news, much happier news from the grove. Lady Grey will not be producing more offspring. The Cat Lady managed to catch her, took her off to the vet to ensure her future infertility. I think Lady Grey's last batch must not have survived because they surely would have appeared by now. So I may be fortunately limited to providing only three cans of food a day.

It was Interim Week on campus, the libraries closed on the weekend preceding and the weekend following. On the first Sunday, though, I had the distraction of seeing "Troy" with Helen R. I wrote about it on
hawaiithreads.com. I told Felix in my usual Saturday postcard that I was more fascinated by Brad's lips than his naked butt, but I did envy the photographer. I also complained in the postcard that I was "opera-bereft" for the week because I couldn't get through more than fifteen minutes of Carlisle Floyd's "Of Mice and Men".

After a time of relatively light, but entertaining reading, I found Margaret Atwood's The Robber Bride, which certainly wasn't light but impressive, if not really entertaining. Then in that same ten-cent collection appeared The French Lieutenant's Woman, that beautiful, melancholic, philosophic novel by John Fowles which I read for the second time. That prompted me to search for a copy of his The Magus. One of the great novels of the twentieth century, in a revised version with a "foreword" discussing the revisions. Also a book which often causes something close to vertigo so while reading it I actually spent more time not reading than usual.

1233

... the rules demanded that anyone who hid his hands under the blanket be awakened and forced to take them out.
Solzhenitsyn: The First Circle

Oh, a nice new gimmick for the Black Hole (not that we have much need for blankets at this time of the year). What, of course, we do want at the Black Hole is routine, routine, routine. Make the rules, enforce the rules, don't do silly variations now and then.

As I've noted before, they have bottles of some evil-smelling "disinfectant" and a supply of rags. Some people, every night, spray their mats and diligently wipe them off with the rags. I figure that if I'm going to get nasty germs at the Black Hole, I'm far more likely to get them from the stairway rail than from a mat someone else slept on the night before. But one night last week the person who takes name and mat number insisted upon spraying the mat. One side only. When I said it didn't matter, I just spread my beachtowel over the mat, he threatened to throw me out if I didn't co-operate. Bit of an over-reaction, that, but I suppose he had been listening to similar protests for some time. So when he wasn't looking, I put the wet side of the mat down on the floor, spread my towel over the dry side, and went to sleep. Fortunately, that silly variation only lasted one night.

In the last days of a month, the place is bad enough without that kind of nonsense.

I read, with some amusement, the website CUHP: Researching Homelessness and Homeless Populations, where the phrase "unfit for human habitation" was used a number of times. Guess which place came to mind.

One recent evening, as usual, I got off at the bus stop before the Black Hole to enjoy a final smoke of the day and heard "can I have a cigarette?" I automatically said "no", then turned to see who had asked. Tanioka. Of course, I gave him one, but was saddened to see him arriving at the Black Hole. Has it gotten that much worse for those who sleep independently?

The end of an era. The "drugstore" has closed. This was a 24-hour videogame arcade (where I never saw anyone playing a game) and the main source of provisions for the Follies. I wonder where the Boys are shopping now?

I spoke too soon. I was sitting in the Secluded Grove on the morning of the last Tuesday in May, was watching my three children eating their breakfast. A tiny feline head appeared above the wall, looked at me with shock and disappeared. Then it reappeared to take a second look. Lady Grey has outdone herself. All kittens are adorable, but her last child is very special indeed. I don't know yet if it has siblings. Thus far, I've only seen it (can't yet guess which sex it is) and only on that morning. It's evidently still too young for solid food. But oh, I did instantly fall in love.

1234

1-2-3-4.

A long-time character in this saga is about to disappear from the stage. His benefactor, at last, managed to get Joe Guam to the Social Security office and Joe has gotten a check for the time he has been eligible. So he is flying home to Guam next week. I'm very happy for him and hope he doesn't discover that "you can't go home again". (I didn't say anything about the possibility he might want to buy some new clothes before showing up at the airport, assume his benefactor will have all that under control)

Auf wiedersehen, Joe Guam.

The newest character in this saga made its second appearance on the last Saturday of May, for the first time ate a little solid food. It's much too soon to think of a name.

The Cat Lady came along, alas an hour too late, complained that she hasn't yet seen this sweetheart. But she has been bringing down some special milk-formula for Lady Grey, having felt awful for snatching mama for her vital operation without knowing there was a little baby who must have spent a terrifying night when mama was absent. The vet had assured the Cat Lady that the operation would not interfere with Lady Grey's ability to nurse the child, and that seems to be true (although I also shuddered when thinking about that little furry one without its mama for a night).

The Cat Lady may have been too late for the newest member of the family, but both Lady Grey and Andrew appeared at the top of the wall. They recognize her, too. I said, "greedy! you just had breakfast about an hour ago!" But, of course, they got a bonus.

She told me about some new "quadruplets" on campus. "No! I don't want to see them!" I said. Have enough to cope with already.

Silly Giuseppe made me cry with the finale of "La Battaglia di Legnano", so I wasn't opera-bereft this week. And next month they are going to broadcast "The Pearlfishers" so I will definitely be unavailable that Saturday afternoon. I heard some brief moments from Andre Previn's "Streetcar Named Desire" sung by the inimitable Fleming. From those moments, I doubt I shall much like the opera but would like to hear it at least once.

As for Solzhenitsyn's The First Circle, what can I say but "hard words, hard words."

1235

The holiday weekend, which despite the Solstice being still some days away tends to begin Summer in America, was pleasant. I went on Sunday with Helen R to see "Young Adam", a truly boring film, and on the holiday Monday to see "The Day After Tomorrow". Both films are discussed (by me and others) in the Big Picture section of hawaiithreads.com. Helen's report on the dreadful "Young Adam" is especially amusing.

The Black Hole was pretty awful, as it always is in the last few days of the month. One night I even had to sleep in the "early wake-up area". The wake-up isn't the problem, I'm always out of there before their idea of "early" but there is one obnoxious person who sleeps in that area most of the time and although I was fortunate, managed to leave a space between him and me, I still had to listen to him for over an hour. People who have the least to say talk the most.

There are two! Yes, Lady Grey's other new child made its first appearance. Very people-shy, ducked back down behind the wall even if someone was just walking through the grove. The other one certainly has a hearty appetite, will no doubt eventually be quite a rival to Andrew who is very greedy. He gobbles down his can of food quickly and then nudges in on mama's. She's very patient, lets him get away with it. But happy family though they seem to be, I wonder if that small area can really support five cats, even if a crazy old man is bringing food every day.

A reader asked me to write more about the early Sixties NYC art world, so I sat for some time having thoughts about de Kooning and his wonderfully ugly paintings of women and .... decided not to write about it. Well, mostly, as Garrison Keillor says.

1236

Those of us who are what some folks call "manic-depressive" realize that life, or at least inner life, is like a pendulum. Not quite as grim as Mister Poe's version (well, at least not most of the time), but like an old clock. Sometimes it doesn't get winding. That's the worst, when the pendulum just hangs there, straight down. B.O.R.I.N.G.

Then it swings all the way to the UP side and sticks there for awhile. After a few decades of experience, we know it is going to eventually swing to the opposite side and stick there. As I mentioned not long ago, the DOWN side is actually easier to cope with once you get older.

The most difficult part of this weird way of living a life is when it swings back-and-forth rapidly, UP/DOWN within an hour, or even from minute to minute.

I saw most, perhaps all, of Ronald Reagan's films. I was indifferent to him as a movie star, he wasn't Gable, Dean, Brando, Gibson, Pitt. I did not vote for him and I was not much of a fan when he was President, either. But in retrospect, he seems to me one of the best American Presidents of my lifetime.

And I am grateful he was finally released from that wretched thing called Altzheimer's. I'll be even more grateful if the gods just give me some fast-killing cancer instead.

1237

The English may not dress well by continental standards, but the way they dress badly is of enormous importance.
Iaian Pears: Giotto's Hand

Witty. As was David Handler's The Man Who Would be F. Scott Fitzgerald.

I was reading some "light" modern novels, then dipped into the classics again and re-read Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles. Said a jacket blurb, "it shocked its Victorian audience". Not surprising at all. It's still a bit shocking .... and grim.

Adorable!

No, not Thomas Hardy, but the event which greeted me on the morning after the famous Venus Transit. The entire family came at one time, for the first time, to eat breakfast. All six of the family came to eat. Yes, I said SIX. Lady Grey's last production. Three little kittens who have lost their mittens ...

I was, still am a bit, concerned for the little ones. Andrew is SO greedy. And the little ones kept waiting until Andrew and Thimble finished their breakfast before coming down. But they soon got wise, realized if they wanted to eat they had better get there right at the start. They seem to be sorting themselves out okay, but I guess I'll have to increase my cat food budget as they mature. (Andrew really should have the decency his Uncle Killer had, move elsewhere when a new batch arrives).

Every time I get some physical problem and I look on the web, it tells me modern medical science doesn't know the answer. Okay, I accept that they can't cure the common cold or cancer, but couldn't they find a poison for the "earworm"? And what about dandruff? I had some difficulty with that in my early twenties, thought it was probably that hideous steam heat New Yorkers endure in winter. But why now, when I spend most of my time outdoors? Back then, "Head and Shoulders" shampoo was the solution, even if it does incredibly dry out your hair (amazing I am not entirely bald), but in my "Golden Years" it doesn't seem to be working as well.

Oh well, in my "Golden Years" that's not the only thing not working as well. (If a grammar teacher scolds me for using a double negative, I shall scowl.)

1238

I was scolded for my remarks about Ronald Reagan. Compared to what we heard during the week after he died, I thought my "eulogy" wasn't really all that kind. I considered writing about all the Presidents of my lifetime to justify what I did say, but have decided against it, especially since there is one I much loved and don't want to publicly re-evaluate after all these years. Let's just say we started at a high point with Franklin Delano Roosevelt and have now reached the other extreme with that squatter who is presently in the White House.

While waxing nasty about the Executive Branch, let me not leave out the Judicial Branch. What weasels, the Supreme Court! Dodging a judgement on the Pledge for such a petty reason instead of tackling the substance of the thing. Weasels.

A skunk in the White House, weasels in the Supreme Court building .... let us not consider what insult to the animal world could be applied to the members of Congress.

A holiday weekend, one of those awful off-line days on Friday. I did have a nice long chat that morning with the Cat Lady who slightly alarmed me by saying she has been trying to get an "official statement" from the office of the President (the campus one, not the White House) about the status of campus cats. Since the campus president seems to be in some danger of losing his job due to sloppy accounting practices, he is not likely to be much interested in homeless cats. But I think it's probably wiser to let the status quo continue without seeking some direct ruling. (I didn't tell her so.)

"Are you going to have a shower?" I heard one man ask another at the Black Hole. "I only shower once a month," was the reply. "Once a month?!" Oh well, I sympathized, but then I am slowly sinking into a "socially non-acceptable" position anyway. Rotting teeth (the few that are left), too much tobacco and beer, must make my breath as fragrant as a pigsty. A little more frequent than once-a-month showers, true, but not much. And being too lazy to buy a new tee shirt as often as I probably should (especially in the current sweaty weather).

Exit, muttering it doesn't matter.

And wishing the Sleeptalker a very, very happy birthday on Third Wednesday.

1239

Jonathan Cainer wrote: This is due to be an action-packed week. If life already appears to be as busy as it can get, prepare for an interesting discovery. It CAN get busier. If you think things are already as intense and exciting as they could ever be, think again.

Not so sure about the "intense and exciting", but I have to agree with the general prediction. My French Reader has been in Honolulu for a conference and came to campus early on Monday morning to join me and my six children in our usual Kitty Breakfast Time. Then she plied me with Bloody Mary's at the mall's Mai Tai Bar on Tuesday. Then she provided lunch at the Indigo restaurant on Thursday for me, Ryan Ozawa, Helen R, and .... the Sleeptalker.

Yes, he arrived at the mall while I was having my coffee, the morning after his 29th birthday.

Despite some pretty grubby clothes, he was clean-shaven, has a Brad Pitt type short haircut, and is as adorable as he always has been for me. I replaced the clothes by taking him shopping after we'd spent a couple of hours in Seventh Circle and I'd bought him breakfast. Then we went to Chinatown where I bought him cigarettes before going to the luncheon meeting. After the lunch, he said, "I didn't know you have such intelligent friends." He was no doubt intimidated by the company, but needs more experience of such ordinary social occasions.

He had no identification so they wouldn't serve him a beer at the restaurant. As I told him, he'll probably still be asked for his ID when he's forty because he looks so much younger than his real age. So after lunch I bought beer and we went to sit somewhere I won't mention to drink it, fortunately didn't get arrested this time.

And, of course, he wanted the glass pipe filling. Idiot that I am, I bought it for him. Well, I thought I was buying it for us, but he vanished. Such a silly, sweet, silly silly boy.

1240

I need to clarify what I wrote in the last Tale. Given the assembled company, that Thursday luncheon was hardly an "ordinary social occasion", much more an "extraordinary" one. But what I meant was, the Sleeptalker needs more experience of sitting in a restaurant with intelligent people having conversation. At his age, I was doing that three or four times a week in London.

The morning of the Summer Solstice was marked by the final meeting with my French Reader before she undertook the long journey back to Paris. It has been most welcome to have someone sympathetic to hear me talk about the Sleeptalker ("he's a lovely young man," she wrote, after meeting him). Heaven knows, of course, I spend enough time talking about him in these Tales. The aftermath of that day with him is somewhat depressing. I know he'll have to wait until his guilt subsides, and until what he probably imagines as me being angry has weakened, before appearing again. The guilt, I am sure, is there (and should be) but there was certainly no anger on my part. I just feel sorry for him and saddened by what seems to be his increasing addiction to that wretched drug. And I wish he had been honest and asked me, please, to fill the pipe for him. I am sure I would have said yes, especially given the birthday. But on the other hand, it's probably foolish of me to fill it for him, or for us, no matter what the season or excuse.

I was walking toward the discount tobacco shop on Sunday when Rocky came along on a bicycle, the first time I've seen him in weeks. He gave me a big grin as he whizzed past, looking very good. So now the main missing person is Angelo (if he's in jail, it's not for anything serious enough to make the felony database). Joe Guam is not missing, at least not yet. He's still in the beach park. I wonder if he has weakened in his resolve to return to Guam.

My memory seems to be failing more and more rapidly. (I wish my sense of smell would do likewise.) My French Reader gave me a book written by a young Englishman novelizing his experience of working in Paris, so recently that Bush/Blair's Iraq war played a role. It was amusing but would have been moreso had he not tried so hard to be clever. I can't remember his name. She gave me another book and I wouldn't have remembered the author's name either, but made a note of it: Mikhail Bulgakov, a Russian author who died in 1940. The Master and Margarita. Extraordinary novel, much reminded me of Hesse's Steppenwolf.

After all those Bloody Mary's and Long Island Iced Teas my French Reader kindly provided, beer is rather boring. I wonder if I could get a job as a bartender?

1241

"It's always something."

I don't know if Gilda Radnor has a tombstone or not but if she does, those immortal words from her Roseanne Rosannadanna should be carved on it.

These clip-on-ear headphones cope with life in a bag better than the headband type but my four-or-five month old set finally perished. Well, at least the left ear one did, evidently wiring stressed to the breaking point. I might have just listened with one ear for a few weeks except for the Saturday broadcast of "The Pearlfishers". Instead, I bought a replacement. Not a welcome addition to a cycle which has already included the mailbox fee and the Sleeptalker birthday extravagance. I think those
Cats of the Secluded Grove will be enduring some wretched human food before July's Third Wednesday arrives, especially since, once again, it is as late as it can be, and I'll probably be rolling my own cigarettes for awhile.

Live and not learn, that's my motto, just after it's always something.

1242

It's odd that a composer whose music I don't much like nevertheless composed my favorite musical moments. Not even Callas could persuade me to admire "Carmen", but "Au fond du temple saint" from Bizet's "Pearlfishers" will forever be Number One on my personal jukebox. If Someone-Up-There told me I could only listen to one recording for the rest of my days, I'd ask for the Bjoerling-Merrill version, please. The performers on the Saturday broadcast didn't come close, but even so, I took myself to the most secluded place I know on campus to listen to it, knowing I'd be a silly old man with tears rolling down his cheeks. But then, I've cried buckets of tears over that music.

When I was in the Army, late seventeens, I met a young man named Charles Floyd in a gay bar in Columbus, Georgia. A couple of years later, I met him again in Atlanta. His long-time lover was Cornelius Bonner, better known as Corky. Oh, my, I did fall for that one in a very big way. And the florist, Buddy Jones, who so kindly introduced me to Judy Garland, sat back and watched the drama unfold. Until, finally, one evening when I had been sobbing, yet again, over "Au fond du temple saint", Buddy slapped me hard against the head and broke my eardrum. And then kindly took me to the hospital to have it repaired.

Apologies to those who have written emails which I haven't responded to individually. I thought I'd wait and get the consensus and then write about it here. There was one dissenter, who wrote "he's a lovely young man", but most of the mails were on the subject "he's just using you" which I have been hearing for years.

Well, of course he is using me! To do otherwise would be stupid, and the Sleeptalker is definitely not stupid. Yes, as one reader pointed out, he knows your payday is Third Wednesday, so he showed up the Thursday afterwards, knowing you'd be happy to see him after his absence and knowing he'd have the birthday as extra leverage.

Well, of course.

I'm almost insulted that you think I could be so unaware, although I am grateful for your concern for my welfare.

Don't worry about it. I told him, earlier in the day, "everything I have is yours", and I meant it, even if he didn't understand the musical reference. As I told my French Reader, communication with the Sleeptalker is so hindered by the age/cultural gap. If I say to him, "you're no angel", he doesn't think of Mae West. Even with my French Reader, despite the language problems and the differences in our culture while children, there are more common cultural intersections than I have with the Sleeptalker.

Nonetheless, I love the man. Je ne regrette rien.

1243

According to the Sleeptalker, talking in the game, he stopped on the way to where we were to meet that Thursday and lit up the pipe, no doubt hoping to have a good portion of the goodies to himself. He got caught in the act, was forced to break the pipe and was arrested, has an upcoming date in court which may even result in 60-90 days in the county jail. I would have thought a first drug offense would merit community service or enforced attendance at some rehab program, but maybe not ... I don't actually know the drug laws in this State.

My first thought was "serves you right for being so greedy" but didn't say it. And don't really mean it. Poor fellow.

Poor me, too, if I have to go without seeing him for three months.

So much for the month of June. July gets off to a rather grim start with the three-day holiday weekend which will mean limited on-line time Saturday, none on Sunday and Monday. The Pollyanna side of the view is that it means having the secluded grove mostly to myself for those three days. Well, shared with six cats, of course. Those little ones are so sassy, have no hesitation in slapping their elder siblings for trying to nudge in on the food. One of them even slaps Mama. I'm amazed she doesn't slap it back, since she still does it to Thimble for meowing while I'm opening the cans.

It also means I'll definitely have to find a different Sunday evening spot to sit and read since the rainy day bench area at the mall will be awash in thousands of people for the pre-fireworks concert.

Oh well, I bitch if things are too routine and then I bitch if the routine gets disturbed. It's always something.

1243a

The Sleeptalker's story is, alas, true. (I may not have been the only one to have some doubts.) He arrived at the mall late afternoon on Wednesday, showed me his too-familiar papers. Court on the afternoon of August 16th. I shall have to go, see what happens, because if he does go to prison I shall have to send him money to make life in there a little more comfortable. Fifty dollars in prison is like five hundred outside.

If I had a bank account with a few thousand dollars in it, I would whisk him away to the mainland, even to foreign climes.

I do so hate this country's drug laws.

1244

Ringolevio by Emmett Grogan is the best book I have read about the Sixties, no contest. I'm only surprised it has taken me so long to discover it.

And then there were four ... Someone has apparently abducted two of the kittens. This often happens on campus when a student grabs a kitten, keeps it until it's beyond being a kitten or until the school term ends, then dumps it back on campus. I'm sad they took my favorite but hope it has a happy life, however temporarily.

A new law came into effect on July first, although neither local newspaper reports it. But according to a radio report I heard, the new law provides compulsory "re-hab" programs for first time, non-violent drug offenders. I hope this will benefit the Sleeptalker.

I seem to collect "old couples". The Very Old Couple has been back on campus. They must be in their nineties. He is so bent over that it's amazing he can still push her wheelchair, equally amazing they can manage the journey from the Marco Polo condo where I know they live to the UH-Manoa campus. Another one of my old couples walks their little white dog through the Secluded Grove every weekend morning. She ignores me, as does the dog, but the man always waves to me. They are fascinated by the cats, and the cats are fascinated by their dog. So we all look at each other. Another old couple, local Japanese, walk by the Rainy Day Bench at the mall every evening. He ignores me, she always says a few words in greeting, sometimes gives me little candies.

Someone offered me a bag of food at the mall on Friday morning so I must be looking destitute again.

1245

As I wrote on HawaiiThreads, about Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11:

I admire his good taste and style for leaving the screen black during the actual attack on the World Trade Center.

I admire his most convincing portrayal of Bush2 by just letting us watch that dreadful man, the worst president of my lifetime, before things went "live". A new visual definition of "shifty-eyed".

I thought he overdid the grieving mother and the stunt asking Congressmen if their children would enlist in the military.

All in all, as I told Helen after we'd seen the film, Moore was "preaching to the converted" in my case. But it was a mostly brilliant sermon.


Seeing Moore's film was the highlight of the three-day holiday, our annual patriotic orgy, in celebration of that wondrous man who wrote "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". The present government is doing its best to deny us the latter two of that phrase, but nevertheless we set off fireworks, had picnics, and pretended all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds.

Well, some of us did. Naughty Arianna Huffington, at the "Take America Back" conference, reminded us she was born in Greece, said something like "we gave you democracy and you've screwed it up." ["naughty" is just teasing, I couldn't agree more}

One more attractive aspect of the patriotic orgy was the chance to hear lots of American music on the radio. I am very, very sure Virgil T. would not be annoyed with me when I say Stephen Foster is my favorite American composer, and I was delighted to hear his music. I was annoyed by a "jazz arrangement" of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" (and I think the NPR announcer was not much pleased either, considering what he said after it had painfully played). But then Gershwin really got me later when they played that wonderful song with the line "to my heart you carry the key".

And I read an extraordinary novel, Galilee by Clive Barker.

1246

I failed to mention in the last Tale that the missing kittens returned, after a two-day absence. Puzzling, what might have happened in those two days. The Cat Lady stopped to chat the next morning, annoyed that she still hasn't yet seen the little ones, and giving me a (non-progress) report on her crusade to get an "official policy" about campus cats. The powers are, of course, giving her the run-around, "talk to the Chancellor", even "talk to the Governor". We shared some chuckles over the absurd stance of Governor Lingle in proclaiming her innocence in the dismissal of ex-President Dobelle. (Amazing how American politicians think they can blatantly lie and be believed, but I guess it does work sometimes or else Bush2 wouldn't have in excess of a hundred million dollars in his campaign-fund chest.)

Two novels I've recently read, I note, I called "extraordinary". Well, they were. I might have to use the term again for William Styron's Sophie's Choice, the current book-in-bag which I have somehow managed to miss all these years. The Fates in charge of cheap-book-shelves have had a fondness for Thomas Hardy this summer, and I went along with it, re-read Return of the Native. Pardon the language, but Hardy's characters are such fucked-up people. I am so far resisting the bait of Jude the Obscure.

Lasser's wonderful show this week included the classic Crosby recording of "Brother, can you spare a dime?". I did spare one, to read, yet again, Kipling's Kim, last mentioned in Tale 1159 which is certain proof of how often I enjoy re-reading that book.

1247

Time for my annual lecture to myself. It came very close to failing this time. "Albert, you are going to spend about 15-20 minutes being subservient, tugging your forelock (even if there isn't much of one), and acting very humble. Never mind you also have to fill out pages and pages of an idiotic government form, printing your name at least a dozen times. That will mean $66 a month in food for the next year. Okay, cold food, some that even cats will eat. Plus limited medical insurance."

I managed to convince myself, made it worse this time by deliberately not checking the mailbox until the 8th of July. An attempt to make the Fabled Pension Check last a little longer in this worst-of-all-possible x equals time. Oh woe! My interview with the Fabled Social Worker had been scheduled for June 30th. So I had to listen to a lecture about how I should check my mailbox more often. "It's the only way we have to get in touch with you," she said. (I didn't mention that space on their voluminous forms where it asked for my email address.)

But okay, I have foodstamps for another year.

Murder in the Secluded Grove, yet again. This time, Lady Grey, who killed one of the little zebra doves right beside the bench I was sitting on, then went rushing up the wall with the corpse in her mouth, Andrew gleefully chasing after her.

I was so annoyed I considered abandoning the whole family, eradicating the Secluded Grove from my life.

I won't be using "extraordinary" for Sophie's Choice. Styron is a direct descendant, speaking in literary terms, of Hardy.

1248

Angelo made his ill-timed reappearance early Sunday morning, timing off not only because it was such an unsociably early hour (if one hadn't been up all night smoking the pipe) and, of course, in the dread x equals time when resources were far too scarce to extend any generosity. He has been in jail, a sixty-day residency this time. He's such a sweet young man and I do love him but these encounters leave me feeling somewhat depressed. He seems destined to spend the rest of his life in and out of jail, with the in time growing increasingly longer. He is just so amorally determined to get something for nothing in any way he can and regardless of the consequences.

He said he was hungry. I suggested the Black Hole which would have soon started serving breakfast. But no, he is banned from there, having gone to lunch the day before. He got into an argument with an older man and ended up punching the guy, bizarrely enough because of disagreeing with the man's stance on homelessness.

A pleasant enough weekend with an emphasis Saturday on France in anticipation of the upcoming Bastille Day holiday. One hour of French music interspersed with some wicked English comic skits featured an arrangement of the national anthem by Berlioz which I'd not heard before and found most impressive. It also included a thoroughly delightful recording of "Peter and the Wolf" narrated by Jacques Brel, the most charming version I know even if I couldn't understand most of the words. Unfortunately, the performance of "Faust" from Covent Garden in the afternoon was so lacklustre I abandoned it.

I almost abandoned that Tryon novel, too, and was relieved to finish it, pleased to then discover a P.D. James book which I've missed before, Devices and Desires. Good to have some nice solid prose to read after all that highbrow nattering.

Old Grubby from the beach park has been missing all week and I wonder if he's in the hospital or dead, although I didn't see any newspaper reports about a homeless body being found. It's odd not to see him early every morning outside McDonald's but I can't say I really miss the experience. Joe Guam still shuffles over every morning to get his bottle of Steel Reserve so I assume he has decided to continue his present lifestyle with the added luxury of the SocSec money each month, the Duchess still sits on the same bench every day doing nothing, the Regular does the same in the Rainy Day Bench area, and the Queen Mum still wanders around muttering to herself. Everybody just waiting to die, I guess.

1248a

It was, as is so often happening this summer, raining for a little while (it's doing it about every three hours, remaining pleasant in between). Consequently, I was sitting on a sheltered campus bench, reading a quite delightful example of that sub-genre of fiction called, more or less, "charming little British murder mysteries", Colin Watson's Coffin Scarcely Used, what, if I recall correctly my French reader designated a "400-word book". But nevertheless charming, and I was very near the conclusion (the solution to which I had not, as is usually the case with these books, guessed).

A Japanese student reclined himself on a nearby bench. Such nice hairy legs. Baggy shorts, too, so if I'd had a light source I could have seen all the way to the Promised Land. He was also reading but could have been more kind and situated himself on the bench in the opposite direction. But I am not really complaining, just wanting a powerful flashlight.

I'd been thinking, while reading the Watson book, that I could write one of these things. I think I'd make Angelo the victim, poor fellow. And through most of the novel it would seem that the Sleeptalker was the murderer, but it would in the end turn out to be Tanioka or, even more shocking, the Sleeptalker's mother!

I didn't mention Michael Lasser's wonderful show this past weekend. The songs of Arthur Johnston. Never heard of him, but I surely did know his songs, many of them written for Bing Crosby, including Crosby's first "hit", "Just One More Chance". And "Thanks", "Pennies From Heaven", etc. There was the original romantic version by a singer I don't know of "Cocktails for Two", impossible to hear without remembering the zany Spike Jones version, and a few tracks by Dick Powell. Amazing for Lasser, it was an hour of all vintage recordings. Splendid. Especially the Crosby tracks and Sophie Tucker's touchingly absurd version of "My Old Flame".

In my case, I remember the name all too well.

All this month, Prairie Home Companion will be repeats of past shows. I hadn't heard the one re-broadcast this week, but tuned in again on Sunday to hear Odetta a second time after having heard her on Saturday. I'd forgotten what a wonderful singer she is.

1249

Bastille Day 2004. A shame they abandoned the guillotine. Seems a very kind way to kill someone, much better than hanging or electrocution.

On the day before, the Sleeptalker arrived in the secluded grove, to my surprise. He has very obviously been hitting that wretched pipe far too regularly since I last saw him, and he was high as a kite on the fourth of July, as the song says. I've never seem him look so thin and gaunt. For some time he said almost nothing, just kept jerking his head from one side to the other, once in awhile would look at me with those beautiful brown eyes. So we sat there for over an hour saying nothing.

Eventually we went to the library. The game had been down since Saturday and still wasn't up earlier in the day but it returned while we were there so we played for about an hour, then walked downhill to get beer, him complaining about how boring the game has become.

He said nothing about what he has been doing or how he managed to have cigarettes, a new watch, a new pipe and (presumably) filling for it. And he wouldn't say whether or not he plans to keep the court date next month. I suspect he won't. At this point, I'd be happy to know he had been sent to a re-hab center or even to jail.

I've never known any drug as awful as crystal methamphetamine in destroying people but I'm sure others, like heroin, even alcohol, have been as destructive, just never knew that many people whose lives were trashed in this way.

But how to offer some alternative?

1250

You're worrying a lot about him, aren't you ?

Yes, I am. Tanioka and Angelo, even when going very heavy with that pipe, continue to eat. The Sleeptalker has my reaction, a total lack of appetite. (After all, amphetamines were used as a legitimate, and successful, diet drug for years.) Even though I did use foodstamps to buy him lunch, he only ate about half of it.

The time when you had problems with speed yourself, and decided to seek medical help, what made you take this decision ? Could he have the same kind of motive, sooner or later ?

Unlike many members of my generation, I had never experienced "speed" until the mid-Sixties. Although purists were very annoyed by the (mostly Californian) "adulteration" of LSD with speed, I was quite fond of it. "White Lightning", etc. Then an American friend sent me a bag of a hundred methamphetamine tablets, the pharmaceutical version. I am so deeply grateful that this smoked crystal version doesn't affect me in the way those little pills did, else I'd be lost for sure.

It was the "medical help" which, who, had first introduced me to those little pills, as an anti-depressant. But then the doc decided not to prescribe anymore and my illegal sources vanished. At that time, in London, it was difficult to find the stuff on the underground market. And I was beginning to feel disillusioned, realized that the promise of the drug, that the "ultimate answer" was just around the corner, lacked veracity, shall we say. I was also concerned about the physical effects, the drastic weight loss and things like cuts or scratches not healing for weeks and weeks, the extremely annoying way it made you want sex desperately but at the same time making you physically incapable of "doing it" (something it shares with the crystal version).

So I went back to the doc, and he put me on Valium.

[sigh deeply, and wish I could find some]

1251

Oh, I do hate these x equals times, not so much, really, because of having no money but for being so repetitively stupid. About $650 is not much for a month but, even so, any sensible man could at least discipline himself to make it last more or less equally throughout a month. Even Joe Guam, who now gets more money each month than I do, still walks for about half an hour each morning to buy cheaper beer and cigarettes. Only saves about a dollar, but do I do that? No.

I am so lazy. Always have been.

So the furry ones are enduring human food (and even that is in jeopardy since foodstamps are running on empty, so empty that they will get food and I shall rely upon abandoned food until Third Wednesday).

This is, indeed, a disastrous x equals time. Oh well, on Saturday I shall be able to say x equals = 3 and we should all be able to survive that (after all, on Sunday the Cat Lady will give them food so if necessary I can skip that day). I could just email her and ask her to feed them until Wednesday, but what am I going to say ... I spent too much money on my boyfriend for his birthday?

At least so far, the Goddess of Abandoned Food has been generous.

The Black Hole, not helping at all, has been pretty awful this week. On Wednesday night they announced at about 8:30 that they had run out of mats. "If you want to sleep here tonight, you will have to sleep on the floor." Since it was pouring rain outside, quite a few people slept on the floor. On Thursday night, that Alcoholics Anonymous meeting ran late, as often happens. It's so stupid to have that there on Thursday nights from 7-8. Lots of people standing outside waiting to get in, and then the poor alcoholics have to run the gauntlet when they (finally) depart, listening to snide comments. Fortunately I did get there early enough both nights so that on Wednesday I did get a mat and on Thursday just had to stand in line for awhile to get one and sleep in the "early wake-up" area. For only the second time, I mis-read my watch, thought it said ten after five so got up and left, didn't discover until I got on a bus that I had actually left at ten after four. Early wake-up, indeed.

Jonathan Cainer promises: This weekend, as the opposition of Mars and Neptune's opposition begins to lose its intensity, clarity will return.

1252

I don't make much use of that interesting verb "excoriate", but Andrew was thoroughly excoriated on Saturday morning. Silently by me, very vocally by a flock of mynah birds swooping over him. I am sure they used every nasty word in the mynah vocabulary. He actually managed to catch one of them! They are such savvy, punk birds I never thought one of them would be dumb enough to get caught by the most clever cat, never mind a stalker as silly and impatient as Andrew.

Oh well, time to take some action here, before I have to re-label the secluded grove the Killing Ground. So I lectured Lady Grey and Andrew sternly on Sunday morning. (Anyone who knows cats also knows just how successful "lecturing" them is.) But I also took a more involved role by alarming either the birds or the cats or both when a stalker was approaching. Lady Grey gave me a very dirty look. Tough, lady, you want this old man to keep bringing you food every day, you restrict your murderous activities to when he isn't sitting there.

Makes it rather difficult to enjoy reading a book if I have to keep one eye on three or more cats in order to save stupid birds who should be more wary.

A long dormant routine had to be revived. I went to the beach park early on Saturday morning to wash my tee shirt which was beyond being endurable until Third Wednesday, and then sat there until it dried. I didn't pick a very good laundry morning because there was little breeze and too many clouds, so the drying process took longer than it would have on a better day. But then, I certainly wasn't in a hurry.

Grubby was in the park, so I assume he has been banned from the mall. It's surprising it hasn't happened sooner since he's such an unpleasant looking person with a decidedly foul aroma, and he is a blatant trash digger. The latter is no doubt the reason for the mall's apparent one-year no-trespass edict.

John Barth's The End of the Road was a very interesting uninteresting novel, to adopt the style of its main character. I'm surprised I haven't encountered it before, having long been a Barth fan. It's not one of his best and I can't recommend it even though I could easily use an entire Tale to quote interesting sentences or paragraphs from it. Ken Follett is not someone I usually read or, perhaps more accurately, the genre he specializes in is not one I usually read, but I was intrigued by the setting of Cairo in the early 40s so did read, and enjoy, The Key to Rebecca. This kind of yarn set in WW2 is certainly preferable to similar productions during the so-called Cold War era. And during a visit to the State Library on Saturday I was delighted to find a volume containing two Ellery Queen novels. Haven't read him in decades even though he was once one of my favorites. So many contemporary best-sellers in the same style owe him a lot.

And x=2, Gott sei dank.

1253

Halfway House (1936) and The Four of Hearts (1938) by Ellery Queen. Delightful, both of them. And really, that favored fictional character of mine, Archie McNally, is so directly connected. Has anyone written a book discussing the history of American "detective stories"? (Hmmm, what else could it be called, that genre?) Whatever, re-reading these two makes me want to find all of Ellery Queen's books and enjoy them again. I say "re-reading" although I'm not sure, certainly remember nothing of them, but there was a time when I tried to find and read all of his books, so I am fairly sure this is not the first time.

I'm very sure it's not the first time I've read the Tales from the Fourth Year but I have been re-reading some from the late 600's. I am happy that I've recently written much shorter Tales. Some of those are far too verbose, especially the ones wrestling over my feelings about the Sleeptalker. But re-reading them did remind me how sweet it was to have the Cherub as a character in those days.

And how sweet it was to have somewhere to sleep other than the wretched Black Hole. I got one of those "you have to have a shower" young men on Sunday night when I just wanted to lie down and sleep. I think that's part of the secret. These workers, no doubt getting lousy paychecks, resent people who arrive and just want to sleep, when they have to (supposedly) stay awake all night to keep watch. So after I had settled down to sleep, he told me I had to have a shower before I could sleep. There are, I read, shelters on the mainland which make it a condition, everyone must shower first. But at least they hand out soap and a towel. I am, of course, grateful the Black Hole doesn't go to that extreme, but it does at least eliminate discrimination, everyone has to do it. So far as I noticed, I was the only victim of this silly young man's need to exert his "power". Oh well, a shower didn't kill me. Unfortunately.

The weekend was rather dull, as weekends before Third Wednesday tend to be. I didn't especially want to hear Weber's "Oberon", so didn't, the Prairie Home Companion was a repeat which I've already complained about in the Tales a few years ago, and Lasser's hour of theatre music was devoted to songs about dancing. As he said, there are "thousands" of such songs, so why he picked so many dull examples, I don't know, nor do I know why it was almost all lame contemporary recordings. But at least there was one track by Noel Coward and one by Crosby ("Dancing in the Dark") which left the contest open as to which of them was the most camp entertainer of the twentieth century.

One reason I just wanted to go to sleep was because dream life has been so much more interesting than waking life in recent weeks. Life goes on, within and without you ...

1254

I was waiting for the bus to the Black Hole when a lady of a certain age asked, "are you homeless?" I admitted that I was and she gave me five dollars. Since it was the day after Third Wednesday, I really didn't need it, but assumed she'd feel better for having been charitable and so put it into the feed-the-furry-ones budget.

The evening before Third Wednesday was Bad Boys night at the Black Hole. The Sleeptalker was sitting on a bench in the outside courtyard. I hope that meant he had kept his appointment with the Public Defender earlier. I just waved to him in passing. Tanioka was on his mat in his oddly-preferred spot right by the entrance (far too busy a place for me to want it), reading a book. Upstairs, Mondo was settling on his mat in front of the television.

And Third Wednesday, praise all the gods, found that brown envelope in the mailbox. I had $1.44 in cash and $1.25 in foodstamps. If that check had been late, I would have cried and six cats would have gone hungry.

1255

intermission

"What does that mean?" asked the Sleeptalker.

I thought it endearing that he didn't know what the word meant
and was honest enough to admit it.

He's had a job, working outdoors, as one could see from his
handsome tan.
A dirty one, as one could see from his grubby clothes.
"Digging holes," he said.

"How have you been?" he asked.
I, too, had to be honest and say, not very well.
I've been a bit depressed.

He showed me his current notebook, but from a distance so I could see the drawings but not read the words. Two spheres, delicately shaded to suggest three-dimensions, and a striking drawing of his hand holding a pencil. Instantly brought Durer to mind.

-----

Good reading:

Walker Percy: Love in the Ruins
John O'Hara: The Lockwood Concern
Barbara Pym: Glass of Blessings
Nancy Mitford: Madame de Pompadour

Good listening:

The splendid performance of "Rigoletto" from the Houston Grand Opera.
Michael Lasser's hour of songs from the "Great Depression"
and, almost as good, his hour of songs the following week about "love letters".

-----

Homeless encouraged to vote

I certainly would NOT vote for Bush2, but I cannot vote for Kerry, either
so, no thanks, not this time.

I went to the Mai Tai Bar to watch the acceptance speech from the Democratic National Convention and constantly thought while watching, "I can't vote for this man." Sufficiently depressed by that, I drank more Bloody Mary's than I should have.

-----

August surely did get off to a WET beginning as the remnants of "Hurricane Darby" swept slowly over the islands, drenching us in non-stop rain, especially on the morning of August fourth. Joe Guam complained the morning before about how heavy the rain had been during the night. Fortunately I was already inside the Black Hole before that began in earnest and it wasn't until Wednesday morning when I had to sit for hours on a sheltered campus bench and experience strong deja vu ... back to the '73 India monsoon.

Joe's new routine is to stumble by my bench in the pre-dawn hour and ask if the supermarket is open yet. It opens at six in the morning, Monday-Friday, at seven on weekends. But Joe doesn't know what day it is ...

-----

Cartier-Bresson

-----

On the second of August, Tanioka asked me for a cigarette when I arrived at the Black Hole. "But yesterday was your payday," I said. "No more," he replied. Uh-oh, he's run into the welfare time-limit rule? I saw him again on the sixth at the bus stop, he again asked for a cigarette. "You're a mess," I said impolitely, "need a haircut, a shave, a job." "Can't do," he said. "Well, the Sleeptalker has a job and if he can get one, anyone can." Tanioka said he'd seen the Sleeptalker. "He was looking good." He was, indeed.

-----

Christmas in August

Many thanks from me
and from my furry friends
for the box which arrived from
"A. Reader"

They loved the Nine Lives "Super Supper"
(now I have to find somewhere to buy the stuff)

And I am loving
Ken Bruen's The Guards

Now I know at least some of my readers are as crazy as I am.
Have to be crazy to mail catfood from Hilo to Honolulu.


-----

1256

A new Bad Boy?

A young man I have not before seen on campus asked me as I left Hamilton Library if he could "bum a cigarette". Very bad form, on campus, where one is supposed to at least offer to buy one. Nevertheless, my tobacco-bum policy is, if it's a friend, of course, I give him one, if I have any. If it's a young man, even if not that cute, I give him one. Anyone else need not apply.

"Would you do me a favor?" he asked, telling me his name (one of the Apostles). He wanted me to buy him alcohol, he would pay for it. I said, "I'll buy you a beer at the Garden." No, he wanted me to walk downhill with him and buy a bottle of whiskey! (Shades of the Cherub.)

No, sorry, I was not walking downhill. But I won't be at all surprised if I see this young Apostle again.

I was looking forward to the broadcast of Handel's "Orlando" but when it arrived I was bored after half an hour. I'm too old, not that much time left in this life, and I'm not going to spend any of it being bored if I can evade it. So I went back to the (yes, not exaggerating) extraordinary book I was reading, Patrick Carey's True History of the Kelly Gang.

Now that Ned was a Bad Boy I no doubt would have loved, indeed.

1257

"Good morning, sir," a young man wearing a black baseball cap said when passing me on campus.

Rascal! The Sleeptalker. He's still working but had Monday off so arrived on campus, said he had looked for me and was just about to leave when he saw me get off a bus. "I went to get food for the cats." He wanted some of their foodstamps mackerel and then ate most of my own lunch as well. Lady Grey stared at him, with her beautiful eyes.

I wish I could see these drawings from the Sleeptalker.
wrote my French Reader.

I replied:
I wish I could afford to buy the one of the hand, especially.
Far better use of money than buying a Gameboy.
(I might get it, yet, if he doesn't throw it away.)


"I threw it away," he said.

1258

The difficulty of writing these things, especially when one tries to write as honestly as possible, is that there are sometimes such gross, embarrassing moments in life that are almost impossible to "confess". (Oh yes, I have been aware of the connection between these enterprises and confession, all along, lapsed Roman Catholic that I am).

And that's all I'm going to say about Thursday morning in this x equals time of August.

The week began in an unusual fashion, since Helen R kindly gave me a ticket to see a local production of Samuel Beckett's "Endgame". As I wrote in an email afterwards:

This was the third time I've seen a performance of Beckett's strange creation. The first, in NYC (oddly, also directed by a friend) was done almost as slapstick comedy. I wanted to grumble about pretentious crap but was deterred by Beckett's formidable reputation and my own cultural insecurity.

Some years later I saw it again in London where it was done in the absolute reverse style, a Greek tragedy.

I suspect your production is closer to what Beckett had in mind.


I am still not convinced Beckett was as great a writer as some folks think. And as I said further in that email, I was somewhat disconcerted when realizing I hear this kind of monologue/dialogue every night at [the Black Hole].

This means Beckett was a supreme realist or else I greatly under-value the words I hear?

Monday was, of course, made special by the appearance of the Sleeptalker on campus and the pleasure of spending several hours talking with him. Then he went away, but arrived again later at the mall at sunset time. I told him a little about the play, said I would have taken him had I seen him on Sunday, mentioned that the main character kept his parents in trash cans. "Why?" he asked. (I wouldn't mind hearing Beckett's response, but that alas is no longer possible.)

The largesse of my Christmas in August parcel continued with A Stranger in the Kingdom by Howard Frank Mosher, a rather grim but beautifully written novel about small-town America (in Vermont). And even though I have little interest in horses or in racing, I always enjoy the elegant little novels by Dick Francis and got a double-feature with Nerve and Enquiry. Then off to the ten-cent collection at the used bookshop where I found Go to the Widow-Maker by James Jones. Jones, like O'Hara, seems to be a bit under-rated now. Can't agree.

In the it's always something category, I seem to be developing a lactose intolerant condition in my old age, getting increasingly worse. A pity. Cheese has always been one of my favorite foods.

1259

A fortunate visit on Friday to the Hawaii State Library. Yes, the pockets are rather empty in this x equals time but I could've managed twenty cents for a couple of books from the used bookshop. But I thought I'd donate that strange Jones novel and at the same time save a few pennies by getting a freebie or two. They had A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George, her first published work and the beginning of her wonderful series with Inspector Lynley. After having read, I am pretty sure, all the others, it was most interesting to get the more detailed version of the background threads of these characters.

Fortunate Friday for the furry ones, too, because I received a ten-dollar donation for their feeding. They won't have to endure any more nasty human food this cycle. They sit waiting and watching for me every morning. Thimble dashes down the wall to meet me, escorts me to my bench, meowing all the way, sometimes gets so excited she goes back up the wall and then down again. I think she's actually a "lap cat" but won't let herself go that far. Still, she does often come down again after eating and settles herself on the bench next to me.

The little ones are so greedy and one of them is adamant about not sharing so usually gets most of a can of food all to what I think is herself. I considered ways of dealing with the situation, like maybe putting only one can of food down to begin with, so she'd be forced to share. But then decided, forget it, let them sort it out themselves.

They have already acquired a number of admirers from the incoming new students, so will probably have more than enough to eat during this fall semester.

Which begins after the upcoming "Interim Week", a woe is me week for any Hamilton Library user since it will be closed on the opening Sunday and then, since Friday is a state holiday, it will be closed for three days! Woe is me, indeed. But at least, except for Friday, the little stand-up computer lab will remain open.

And then comes the deluge of more students than have enrolled for a semester since I have been spending time on campus.

I just want to say about "I am a gay American" ... well, so am I, but I wasn't dumb enough to get married, have two children, undertake a political career and then fall in love with a man to the extent I had to throw the rest of it away. No sympathy from me, Governor.

1260

I neglected to mention a major anniversary. Simple reason. I forgot about it. I knew it was in August, but didn't remember the exact date. When I looked in my long-expired American passport, I saw I had arrived in Honolulu on August the second. So I have now been here fifteen years. Definitely the longest continuous time I have spent in any one place in my life and most probably the longest time I've lived anywhere, since I think it has now surpassed the overall total for New York City.

The Sleeptalker was in the courtyard of the Black Hole when I arrived on the evening of his court date. He asked for a cigarette and said, with great enthusiasm, "I won my case!" "No rehab, nothing?" I asked. "No, I WON MY CASE!" I patted him on the shoulder and said "well done", although I suspect the credit goes to a clever public defender. I am relieved. I debated about going to court, worried he might be embarrassed to have me there so didn't go, was very happy to hear so quickly about the outcome and that it was so favorable.

1261

Alberto Moravia: Time of Desecration (original, and better, title: La Vita Interiore).

Extraord ..... ooops, promised myself not to use that word in connection with a novel for at least six months. So, okay, a most unusual work of fiction, written entirely as an interview. What an awful woman, the main character. Well, not just her, what awful people.

Paula Fox: The Widow's Children

Exquisitely written, exquisitely boring. What awful people. I'm grateful I wasn't at that dinner party.

Leaving those two aside, I have a great fondness for these contemporary writers who create wonderful characters and then continue writing books about them. I suppose one model must be the Sherlock Holmes books, but then as a child I had Nancy Drew and the Bobbsy Twins. The story in the latest book may be more or less interesting, but even better is continuing to spend time with people one cares about, even likes.

I especially enjoy the novels of
"Amanda Cross" who is actually Carolyn Gold Heilbrun. That website says "her career as writer has only been moderately successful generating a niche audience". Damn, I'm in a niche!

1262

On the road to Mandalay ...

I went to the discount clothing store to get a new teeshirt, found a black one with a Mandalay Beach logo, smaller print saying resort and casino under it. Didn't think it came from Burma. Tanioka confirmed that by telling me it's in Vegas.

Tanioka is such a sweetheart and so wonderfully crazy. He made a very rare visit to campus, found me in the secluded grove. A totally delightful time talking with him. I asked how it has happened that he lost his Federal welfare money and he told me a complex, highly improbable story involving a cellphone and a major Filipino drug ring, etc. etc. I did once prompt "what does this have to do with losing your SSI?" Well, I still have no idea why he lost the SSI but certainly enjoyed the story.

He thinks it very odd that the Sleeptalker got off but agreed that the security man who caught him was stupid to make the Sleeptalker break the pipe. Hello, what about "evidence"? (Maybe someday I'll hear the details from the Sleeptalker himself, but I wouldn't count on it.)

Speaking of sweethearts, RobRoy was outside Hamilton Library on Thursday. Shirtless. Sigh. "You're back?!" I said. Yes, he's trying again in this upcoming fall semester. A pleasure to have him back on campus, but I can't make him the Freshman of the Year, can I? "Repeat Freshman of the Year?"

My life, my long life ...

1263

Saturday, which began with that pleasantly bizarre conversation with Tanioka, continued to be quite pleasant with a rather burlesque performance of Leonard Bernstein's masterwork, "Candide". "Silly and burlesque," I wrote to Felix, but even so, the New York Philharmonic is one of the world's truly great orchestras, so no complaints, just a raised eyebrow at the person who took "comic opera" too seriously ... or not seriously enough.

Prairie Home Companion, lazy sluts that they are, was yet another repeat but I hadn't heard it the first time. Even though it wasn't as good as the new, live broadcast they did the preceding Saturday, I did enjoy it.

And then I saw the Sleeptalker at the Black Hole.

Yes, not at all a bad Saturday.

On Sunday I met Helen R to see "Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle". As I said on hawaiithreads.com, "It's very silly and thoroughly enjoyable, mainly because of the charming actors who play the title characters. My favorite scene was definitely the cheetah exhaling."

Interspersed with all this was Daphne du Maurier's Rule Britannia, quite unlike anything else I've read from her, light years away from Rebecca. Then I had William Goldman's Magic, and now I have a truly weird novel by that truly weird writer, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams.

The performance of "Candide" was too contrived to get a tear from me, but Michael Lasser's show of "cowboy songs" or "songs of the prairie", whatever he called it, surely did. Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, you buggers, made me cry.

The competition for "Freshman of the Year" is fierce in Anno Domini 2004. And I shall try to get over sighing for the quiet days of summer when the campus wasn't swarming with all these young bodies.

1264

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver is a splendid work, if somewhat depressing. At the moment, that's fine, because the pendulum is jumping back and forth like crazy so a little ballast on the down side is not unwelcome.

Except for Egypt, I've never had much interest in Africa. I did for a brief time in the early seventies think of visiting Morocco. Then a young English friend of mine got stabbed to death there, the only person I have actually known who got murdered. Whatever Morocco's tourist bureau may have done by way of promotion, that was quite enough to put me off the idea of going there. (Most fortunately, I never directly knew someone who was murdered in India or Nepal. Or Hawaii.)

But the Kingsolver book is as close as one can get to having experienced Africa firsthand, belongs right on the shelf beside the Dinesen books.

For two successive nights at the Black Hole, I've been burdened with thrashers, men who can't stay on their own mat. Then I had to smile when I left on Thursday morning to see Tanioka, who had thrashed himself off onto the floor, at right angles to his mat, arms straight out. Spare me sleeping next to Tanioka, please!

Several readers are puzzled about my attitude toward John Kerry. (I did have a letter from Felix recently in which he also said, "I just can't vote for Kerry.") My own reason is that the man is just so utterly, totally insincere. His acceptance speech at the Convention absolutely reeked of insincerity. Bush2 is misguided, possibly even certifiably insane, and I can't vote for him either, but I think he's actually a more honest man than Kerry.

My French Reader wondered if we weren't talking about voting for a "team", not necessarily the lead character. What team? All Kerry has is his "pretty boy" VP candidate. (I actually got a laugh at the bar after the acceptance speech when Kerry brought out his proposed VP and I said, "oh, there's his pretty boy"). Tanioka felt the same way, he told me in our recent conversation.

My country 'tis of thee .....

1265

"I don't smoke that stuff," the Sleeptalker said he told the judge. Claimed he was just holding the pipe until a friend who owned it returned. Nice judge. Perhaps a bit gullible, but nice.

The Sleeptalker arrived on campus early on Sunday morning, said he had to check on me now and then to make sure I was still alive. "Don't die on me."

I told him the stand-up computer lab we've been able to use is no longer available, now requires a UH-ID, and that Hamilton Library didn't open until noon, also mentioned that I was meeting Helen R at eleven for a movie. "Can I come?" Yes, of course.

So we talked until it was time to go near the cinema and share a beer beforehand, then met Helen and saw "Hero", as reported in hawaiithreads.com.

I took him to have something to eat afterwards and then we returned to campus. He went to Hamilton to play Seventh Circle, lingered so long I ran out of cigarettes (especially after supplying him all morning). I left, bought more tobacco and went to the sunset bench at the mall where he eventually arrived.

An entire day with that young man is wonderful but somewhat exhausting.

The next day RobRoy stopped to chat. I discovered during the conversation that he's 21, is concentrating this semester on geology and mathematics, has no idea what he wants to do with his life so far as a profession is concerned. I didn't discover, since I already knew it, that he's just adorable.

Well, there's nothing at all impossible about having two adorable men in one's life, is there?

1266

As always, when one of the Boys arrive, I put down my book. And, as always, if it's Tanioka, he picks up the book and examines it. (One Hundred Years of Solitude). "You read so many books," he said, "you should write one." Not a good suggestion, when I'm reading Garcia Marquez. No chance of getting into that pantheon.

Tanioka made a brief visit to campus on the morning after the holiday weekend to re-pay the five dollars he had borrowed the last time I saw him. Thinking about it later, I had to smile at the idea that Angelo would make such an effort to re-pay a "loan". Uh-huh, about as much chance as me writing as beautifully as Garcia Marquez (even in translation).

I was strangely restless on the holiday weekend, had a difficult time settling down to do anything. But I did finish Great Expectations which I found at the State Library on Thursday. Poor old Havisham.

Then a Christmas in September box arrived. It included a number of cans of Fancy Feast for the furry ones! Yikes. They seemed to love the things but I hope it didn't give them ideas above their station. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the feeding of cats, Fancy Feast comes in cans about half the size of ordinary catfood and costs twice as much as I usually pay to feed the critters. They can't expect those in their diet very often.

Greedy Andrew is trying to counteract his younger siblings by grabbing as much as he can and running off with it. He almost managed to carry an entire can's worth of Fancy Feast, so I took care to split it up after his first attempt. Can't really blame him since the little ones are so fierce about not sharing.

Also in that overly-generous box was Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections, another beautifully written novel but not easy reading, especially since one of the main characters was dying, had Parkinson's, was incontinent and wore adult diapers. Errrr ....

When I saw Rocky on Sunday morning, he said "haven't seen you in so long I was afraid you had died!" Errrr ...

"You're shaking again," said the Sleeptalker.

And in the box was Dave Eggers' You Shall Know Our Velocity, a surreal novel about two young men, a bit like the film Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle but on a global scale.

There was a lengthy, amusing letter from Felix in the mailbox, too. He disliked the Candide even more than I did, and didn't like the performance of Norma from the Washington National Opera which I found quite touching. But then he has a huge library of recorded music, so hearing Bellini isn't as special to him as it is to me. I missed the opera on Saturday this week because I just wasn't in the mood for flying mice.

I wasn't much in the mood for anything on the holiday weekend, despite the good reading, and a pleasant lunch provided by Helen R on Labor Day. Where I felt so "shakey" I had some trouble getting the food from the shared Chinese "family-style" dishes to my plate and the glass of iced tea seemed extraordinarily heavy. No, I don't need to read books like The Corrections because I'm living it.

Oh well, better than being
Havisham.

1267

"'Make sure things is right at home first,' I told him. 'If things ain't right at home, you won't make them right anywhere else. You're like to do more harm than good.'"
Gail Godwin: A Mother and Two Daughters

A shame no one told Bush2 that.

Felix apologized in his letter for complaining so much about money matters. No need whatever for apologies. Such thoughts play far too big a role for all us old folks. I was puzzled when I got a bill for the postbox due in September and also one for LavaNet. I pay each three months at a time. How had they become synchronized? Well, evidently I'd had an email invoice from LavaNet in August. I didn't see it, or maybe I deleted it in a fit of getting rid of junkmail. So now I have to pay both in the same month. The same month in which I must buy a new bag because the current one is literally falling apart, despite my continued repairs with needle and thread. The same month in which I must buy new shorts because the ones I'm wearing are two months old and I am sick of them.

Speaking of those shorts, which are dark gray or grey. What is the difference between "gray" and "grey"? Well, I bought a dark gray/grey tee shirt which seemed okay with the shorts under the lights of the department store. But in daylight they just didn't go well together at all. When I told Helen R I was depressed by the combination, she looked at me as if I were crazy (which I probably am). So I quickly said, "if that's the worst thing in my life, I can't complain." But I did go to the discount clothing store on the following Tuesday (old folks discount day) and bought a black tee shirt for $1.97. Nevertheless, the shorts must be replaced.

This is the second Godwin book I've read. She's really very good.

1268

Most of the time, it really isn't that bad at the Black Hole. I've no objection at all to sleeping on a three-inch-thick mat, or even on the concrete floor if that should happen. But sometimes it really is awful. It began to rain off and on Saturday, the eleventh of September, although fortunately not until after the annual Aloha Floral Parade had completed its journey (no, I didn't go watch it). But late afternoon, early evening, yes, quite wet. So of course the Black Hole was filled to capacity.

I was far too engrossed in Prairie Home Companion and arrived later than I should have. Had not much choice of places to park for the night. As it turned out, between TWO thrashers, one of whom also snored. Oh boy, what a lovely night. I kept looking for someplace to move to, didn't find one until about four in the morning. One of the thrashers threw his feet and arm over me, the other dumped his rather large knees on me ... and he was the kind who gets mad because he ends up on top of you. (He was also the one who snored.)

Even more annoying, because it has been the season of truly strange dreams, and I was looking forward to more of them without undesirable creatures throwing their body parts on me.. There was the woman who had some very serious problem with one eye, the eyeball more or less hanging out of her face, dangling from some white thread-like things (yeukh). There was the man who grabbed a little zebra dove, put it in his mouth, chewed a couple of times and swallowed (yeukh!!). And there were two glass rabbits, a big one and a baby, in the bed with me. The big one turned into a white cat, lept off the bed and made a puddle on the floor, then jumped back into bed with me. The puddle kept expanding and expanding. My roommate, in a bed on the other side of the room, woke up. I said, "don't you notice anything strange about the room?" He didn't ... until he stepped into the lake.

Poor non-dream-life pussycats are enduring human food in this x equals time but didn't seem to be too unhappy with their sardines on Sunday morning.

1269



A really interesting book could be compiled from my omissions and I think I could promise that it would prove a Best Seller.
I know I can promise that it will never be written.


Graham Robertson: Life Was Worth Living

-----

A raccoon was presumed to have witnessed a murder. Some law enforcement types were spreading out photographs of the possible perpetrator, attempting to get the raccoon to identify the murderer by putting its paw on the appropriate photo.

(Whether I am crazy or not in waking life is up to debate, but I've gone totally loony in dream life.)

And, crazy or not, I guess I must be looking as old and fragile as I've felt recently because the Sleeptalker was once again concerned about my mortality. "I don't want you to die," he said on Thursday evening when he arrived at the mall and talked with me for awhile. Well, I'm sorry, dear boy, but it's going to happen and I surely do hope it happens to me before it happens to you.

To consult the I Ching, one method uses three coins. Perhaps I've found another coin method. Count the coins in your pocket. On the morning of Third Wednesday, it was fourteen pennies. I stopped worrying about whether the SocSec check would be in the mailbox.

1270

I've long admired Frederick Forsythe and his ability to write hugely successful, engrossing novels about Nazis and Cold War machinations, etc., even though his material wasn't really stuff I cared much about, but it wasn't until I found his collection of short stories, No Comebacks, that I admired him as a writer.

I also recommend John Cheever's Falconer, don't know how it has escaped my attention all this time, since I do think Cheever is one of our greatest American writers. This book confirms my opinion.

Helen R. and I went to see Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow at its first showing in Honolulu on the last Friday of summer. As usual, it is discussed on hawaiithreads.com.

Yes, the Summer of the Monkey has ended, or is about to, as I write. Of course, I am a ghostwriter. deathclock.com tells me I died in December, 1990.

So there can only be one question. Is this heaven or is this hell?

1271

But Albert. Speaking as an addicted reader of The Tales, people who read your online journal want even to hear just that: that today was routine, just like any other day, and that you have no new thoughts that you haven't uttered in that space a hundred other times.
... wrote
Mitchell Dwyer on hawaiistories.com

Oh dear, oh dear. My French reader offered to send me her children to make life more interesting, but her son is still too young for me, so I suggested she send me her daughter's ex-boyfriend instead. A French Bad Boy would surely make life more interesting.

Okay. It was a very dull week, the beginning of Autumn 2004. No bad boys, French or otherwise. I endured only one act of Rossini's version of Cinderella, would have preferred the Disney one. On the next Saturday it was Andre Previn's Streetcar Named Desire. The first half hour was so boring I almost gave up, was happy later I hadn't when the encounter between Blanche and the newspaper boy was quite endearing. Even so, why are composers of modern opera so afraid of writing an aria? I don't want to hear it again, despite Fleming having done a recording (although I wouldn't mind hearing just that scene).

"What day is it?" asked old Joe Guam. "Saturday," I said. Sorry, the supermarket not open until seven, so he had to wait to get his new morning addiction, a breakfast of watermelon slices. Then on Wednesday morning, I wondered "is it Tuesday or Wednesday?" Ah, but I remembered hearing Left Right and Center the previous evening (alas, without Arianna), so of course it was Wednesday. If I didn't have online life and radio, I'd be like Joe, always wondering what day it is.

Triumphant moments of boring-life phases: I got my favorite spot at the Black Hole on Monday evening. There is a non-functioning big screen television set in the main upstairs room, with an (alas) functioning television set on top of it. In front there is one of the huge floor fans. I love it when I can put my mat down right beside that assemblage. No one on my left side, no one to wake me and say move closer because my mat is already touching the defunct box. The television, no matter how loud it is, I find I can easily block out of my mind and sleep, the hum of the big fan after they turn the damned television off is a childhood comfort I've mentioned before.

1272

A little poem from the Fool Moon in Aries:

Ugly planter box, toilet type tiles around it
Some chipped on the bottom
Poor little tree managing somehow to survive
within it
No. I am not the French Minister of the Interior.


Otherwise, I survived the Aries moon with only one other outburst when I shouted "NO!" to a young bum who repeatedly asked to use my cigarette lighter to ignite the butts he kept finding from ashtrays (it was the fourth time when I shouted). I know, I should have been more kind. After all, he didn't ask for a cigarette.

But he was a shopping cart bum. There is a definite caste system among homeless people. At the very bottom are the dirty ones like Grubby from the Beach Park, too far gone to unzip his pants to take a piss. Just above that miserable level are the shopping cart losers who lug around masses of garbage ... but can't manage to keep a book of matches or a found cigarette lighter.

Amanda Matetsky is a very witty writer and her second novel, Murderers Prefer Blondes, is a delight.

Tenth Commandment by Lawrence Sanders was also entertaining. I love the knack Sanders has for writing a brief paragraph which perfectly sums up the physical description of a character, would dread to have him write one about me.

"Skoy was a boy who ran lots of stupidity."

A touching quote from what will probably be the only visual work of 2004, an unprecedented collaboration between the Sleeptalker, Felix and the Panther. Five postcard-sized objects from the venerable French paper manufacturer, Arches. But what a strange language English is. "Ran", of course, is the past tense of "run", meaning to move one's legs and pass rapidly from one place to another. But it is also used in the sense of conducting a business. Bill Gates runs Microsoft. (Or so one assumes.) But "ran lots of stupidity" is ... well, as I said, touching.

1273

I wrote on a local mail-list about the First Debate:

I am very disappointed to hear that the rules for the debate forbid "making faces" at each other.

I wanted Bush2 to put his thumbs in his ears, waggle his fingers, stick out his tongue and say "nyah, nyah, nyah."

Kerry would then stand up, turn around, drop his pants and moon Bush2.

(It would be quite consistent with the discourse thus far ... )

and from hawaiithreads.com:

I listened on the radio, so don't know if they violated the rule against "making faces".

In style, I think Kerry was the clear winner. (Is there anyone without a life who has counted the number of times Bush2 said "uh" ... )

At one point Bush2 sounded so distressed I wondered if he would cry.

In substance .... well, I did have to agree with Bush2 (a VERY rare event) when he opposed Kerry's notion that the USA should conduct direct discussions with North Korea, instead of including China and Japan. I'd be more in favor of leaving the entire thing to China and Japan. It's in their backyard, and they probably have far more influence than we do.

And I really doubt that Kerry has the ability to form a worldwide "alliance" to deal with the mess we've made in Iraq. Would France and Germany be more likely to get involved with Kerry in control? Most doubtful.

Outside Hamilton Library this morning there were people shouting at me "register to vote!" I shouted back, "give me someone worth voting for!"

1274

Before singing his wonderful new song, "Tupelo", Mark Knopfler said about Elvis Presley, "he was a beautiful young person". Indeed he was, indeed he was. Prairie Home Companion was splendid this weekend. We are blessed in Hawaii with two National Public Radio stations, so I was able to hear the program on Saturday, then listen to the repeat on Sunday.

Garrison Keillor is a national treasure.

And once upon a time, Knopfler changed my life, so it was really, really good to hear him again.

I also heard a handsome performance of Puccini's Manon Lescaut from the Washington National Opera. Puccini scattered melodies in that opera like snowflakes in a blizzard, and I'm sure I heard the main theme from "Star Wars" in Act 3. (Well, if you're going to borrow, why not borrow from Puccini?)

Good reading, too, on the weekend. Mister le Carré's The Honourable Schoolboy and Percy Walker's The Last Gentleman. Couldn't ask for a better double-feature.

A little bonus on Sunday morning. Never heard Poulenc's Organ Concerto before. As the kids say, "awesome".

I got a raise! The annual COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) pushed my foodstamps allowance from $63 to $75. Of course, it will shrink in January when the SocSec COLA arrives, but that big an increase looks optimistic for the SocSec allowance. (Did Bush2 manipulate this to make us old folks think more kindly of him?)

1275

Mondo may be the craziest of the Bad Boys, but he does seem to have a special knack for finding places to live and has been absent from the Black Hole for weeks now. Tanioka has also been missing. But the Sleeptalker was there on Monday night. I don't think he saw me, I was watching him from across the room. He looked fine but seemed to be in something of a trance. He keeps one of the storage boxes there and spent quite some time looking into the box without doing anything, eventually just took everything out of it and stuffed it into a backback, put the empty box back into the storage room.

The Cat Lady made one of her rare weekday morning visits to campus. I was delighted to see her, since I wanted to congratulate her. I call the three little ones Wynken, Blynken and Nod. Wynken and Blynken are so identical, I can't tell one from the other. But now I can, since Wynken has a notch in his ear, as does Nod. The Cat Lady has managed to, with only one remaining, eliminate the chances of my furry family growing. I told her I hope Blynken is a male ... and doesn't bring his lady friend home if he finds one before she can grab him as well.

Felix rather apologetically admitted to reading an Anne Rice book, the Armand one, instead of more esoteric options. I tried to console him by telling him I've been in love with Rice's Lestat for years.

Another fine Anne: Anne Tyler, whose Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant is a splendid American family saga.

1275a

At the end of the last Tale, you mean that Soc sec will get a rise, and that as a consequence the foodstamps will be lower, but all in all you'll have a little more money ?

It is a rather absurd and quite wasteful system. The Federal government provides the cash for the foodstamps program (entirely dependent on what income the recipients receive), but the States are responsible for its administration. For some reason, the annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) is determined and the increase is applied in October each year. Thus, the State has to send out a letter to all foodstamps recipients informing them of the increase.

The annual COLA is not applied to Social Security retirement benefits, or to welfare payments, until the following January.

Then the State has to send out letters again informing people that their foodstamps benefit has gone down, since their cash benefit has gone up.

So, yes, foodstamps will be larger in Oct, Nov and Dec, but then it will decrease and the money-in-pocket will increase.

As the Caterpillar said, one side will make you smaller, the other will make you larger.

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the tales