A truly evil drug, that crystal methamphetamine.

The Sleeptalker came to campus on Sunday morning. He told me a completely absurd story about a fight with Angelo. (His bruised lip did suggest that at least there was a fight, with someone, although when I asked him pointblank who had punched him in the face, I didn't get an answer.) Anyway, according to the ice-headed way he sees it, Angelo killed a child, chopped up the body into pieces and burned it. Consequently, the Sleeptalker went after Angelo and "pounded him".

Who needs novels?

The conversation was bizarre, ranged from me telling the story of Narcissus to an explanation of the stock market (which the Sleeptalker had never heard of), why there was the crash in the late Twenties (I admit I was a bit fuzzy on the "why"). I showed him a photograph Felix recently sent me of his current five boys. "Why are they holding hands?" he asked. A more difficult question to answer was, "who is Felix?" I even, by request, sang a bit of "Stormy Weather".

Dunno why, there's no sun up in the sky,
stormy weather, since my man and I ain't together

As always, the Sleeptalker yielded very few details about what he has been doing with himself. He did have cigarettes so was obviously not destitute, but said he didn't have the money to get "home". "Where is home?" was another ignored question. I usually keep dollar bills in one of the pockets of my shorts, so gave him the current supply, however many that was.

Felix recently told me a funny story about a conversation with one of his boys who was very impressed that Felix knew Andy Warhol. The name meant nothing to the Sleeptalker.

Little wonder I love him. (The Sleeptalker, not Andy.)


Hmmmm, I thought I had a batch of informed readers. Oh well, let me explain.

During the discussion about the stock market (you just try sometime to explain all that to someone who has never heard of it), I mentioned to the Sleeptalker that I listen every day, Monday-Friday, to the NPR program "Marketplace".

If the market has gone up that day, they play "I'm in the money, I'm in the money". If it goes down, they play "Stormy Weather".


Although the hours with the Sleeptalker certainly highlighted the first weekend of the Eighth Year, it was, all in all, an interesting few days. I listened to the Second Presidential Debate on Friday. As I said on hawaiithreads.com, "Since he was so awful on the first one, it's not much of a compliment to say Bush did better in this one." Indeed. And, "Sadly, I still don't think either man deserves to be President of the United States of America." Indeed, indeed.

There was a broadcast of La Traviata on Saturday afternoon from the Washington National Opera. Hei Kyung Hong has a fine voice but I found some of her mannerisms (especially the "trills") rather annoying. Nevertheless, it's such beautiful music it can survive that stuff, and she was brave to tackle the role at a time when it is clearly owned by Fleming.

Prairie Home Companion was delightful and I would have listened to the repeat on Sunday evening, but NPR is now presenting a series of broadcasts, Leonard Bernstein: An Anerican Life, so I had to hear that instead of repeating the pleasure of PHC. Someone interviewed said Bernstein loved charming [verb, not adjective] people, loved charming young men even more than women. Well, this is one person who as a young man was thoroughly charmed. I hope the series focuses more on the music in future installments than on people praising Bernstein. The first chapter was a bit too much like that other weekly broadcast Sinatra: The Man and the Music which features so many people telling us how wonderful Sinatra was as a man, it should be called Saint Sinatra


The Sleeptalker has been at the Black Hole every night for a week now. We usually just exchange waves as I arrive. He sleeps downstairs (I think I am grateful for that), but one evening he did go upstairs to retrieve his storage box. Changing tee-shirts, was standing there shirtless talking to some black man. The black guy noticed me looking, probably too lustfully, at the Sleeptalker and said something about it which I didn't hear. But I did hear the Sleeptalker say, "oh, that's Albert". Then he walked over and talked for a few minutes, as if letting the black guy know we are friends and I wasn't just another old queen entranced by a charming young man. Sweet.

It does make me slightly nervous having him at the Black Hole in this x equals time of empty pockets.

It's rather bizarre that I eat more, and with more variety, when I'm low on cash than I do when I have money. If there's money I ignore abandoned food, leave it for those more in need, and wander through a supermarket or an area like the mall's "food court" wondering what to eat, usually not buying very much. But when it gets down to having just beer money, I check those abandoned plate-lunch boxes and usually eat whatever I find in them. I even ate some poi this week ... and still can't understand why anyone actually likes that stuff.

But then I can't understand why anyone actually likes either Bush2 or Kerry, and the Third, mercifully final, Debate did nothing to help me understand. They both have repeated and repeated the same tired phrases over and over again, they both sound totally insincere and often unbelievable, and neither seems to me to be worthy of the office (or any office, for that matter). Prairie Home Companion was delightfully funny about both of them the following Saturday. So, yes, they do get credit for providing great material for comic writers.

Maria Guleghina is no Callas, but I did enjoy her in Tosca from the Houston Grand Opera. She needs to be braver, learn how to growl and sound ugly when it's called for ... and it's never more called for than in Tosca.

Someone sold a huge collection of John D. MacDonald's books to the used bookshop which put them into the ten-cent selection, and I've been steadily cleaning them out. Reading MacDonald, especially his Travis McGee books, is like hearing an extended version of the Guy Noir spoofs on Prairie Home Companion but in addition to the somewhat-corny noir writing style, MacDonald does now and then throw in some wonderfully acidic, and accurate, comments about contemporary American society. Every book definitely worth ten cents, no doubt about it.

The little ones and Thimble are enduring human food with no obvious complaint but Lady Grey and Andrew are still very haughty about it. Lady Grey takes a bite or two of sardines or mackerel, then sits there giving me dirty looks. Ungrateful beast.

I splashed some spaghetti sauce on my shorts. I hate walking around wearing what I had for lunch.


I hate Tuesdays before Third Wednesdays, I hate them, I hate them. And it didn't help at all when the Sleeptalker arrived at the mall a few minutes before six in the morning. He had been awake all night with that wretched pipe (I do not ask how it is he comes to have access to the thing). Batu hangover, of course, but not looking as wrecked as he sometimes does. Wearing camouflage fatigue pants which is really so unfair.

The kindness of strangers ...

The morning before, I had, as usual, been sitting near McDonald's drinking my cheap "senior coffee" and reading another MacDonald book, when a woman said, "excuse me, could you use these?" and handed me a little booklet of McD's gift certificates, five dollars worth. I gave three of them to the Sleeptalker, keeping one for my Tuesday coffee and one for my Wednesday coffee. With the change from those purchases, I'd have enough cash for one more beer.

As I said on the main page of the Tales, I do recommend this National Public Radio series, Leonard Bernstein: An American Life. Although they are being very discreet, I will admit to having been slightly shocked during the second episode.

Woe is me! The used bookshop is closed for the rest of this month, so no more ten-cent selections. They are combining their bookshop with their record shop which I suppose will mean less selection in both categories, and I won't be surprised if the ten-cent shelves disappear altogether. Time to make a trip to the State Library.

"I'm sorry I can't take you with me," I said to the Sleeptalker, apologizing for not being able to provide bus fare to and from the UH campus.

But it may have been just as well. Batu hangover is not a very sociable condition.


Seven happy cats on Third Wednesday, including myself in my furry family. They happily gobbled their cherished cans of Whiskas. I moved over to a shaded bench and continued reading Alley Kat Blues by Karen Kijweski, one of my favorite writers of inconsequential novels. A little later I looked up and there were Lady Grey, Thimble and Nod all staring down at me. They see me take the cans of food from my bag, no doubt think the bag is filled with catfood, wanted more.

Sorry, my dears, you know there has to be a forty-ounce bottle of malt liquor and at least a book or two in that bag.

There is a little store beside the check-cashing place, run, I think, by Vietnamese. They charge an outrageous price for their catfood but their beer price is much lower than elsewhere .... so it all works out.

Somehow I acquired an ugly blood blister on the large toe of my right foot. I have absolutely no memory of having acquired it. I did the routine of sterilizing a needle with my cigarette lighter and drained the thing of blood. Then it filled up twice with clear liquid. Then on Wednesday morning it split, so I wait to see if it gets infected and I have a repeat of that other foot episode. To play it safe, unless they force me, I'll avoid the shower at the Black Hole until it heals.

Life goes on, within and without you ...

NPR is doing their twice-annual fundraising campaign. Woe is me, no radio for a few days, although I will suffer through the interruptions for episode three of the Bernstein saga on Sunday.


Felix wrote about one of his boys: "I guess I just want to tell him he's swell."

When I next see the Sleeptalker, I am going to tell him I think he's swell. Then I'll have to do a mini-lecture about this weird English language and how "swell" doesn't mean a swollen wrist or ankle, whatever, but, as I am reminded by John O'Hara's first novel, swell was quite a complimentary remark some decades ago.

Appointment in Samarra is a swell novel. The King of Torts by John Grisham is not.

If, as he said, the Sleeptalker can sometimes feel me calling him, he must be feeling it now. I am very unhappy about our last encounter. When will I learn to keep an emergency twenty-dollar bill tucked away for just such moments?


the tales