1294

In the early days of television, the programming was often interrupted with a static screen which said "technical difficulties, please stand by". That's pretty much the story of my computer life since the Manoa Flood in October, complicated even further by the upcoming move of nahenahe.net to a different ISP. I'm trying to persuade the Internet Archive to tell me where they are saving stuff from the past, just in case anything gets lost in the move.

But does it really matter?

A glimmer of hope, since the Hamilton Library Annex re-opened when the current school term began. (The main building still has no electricity.) But the computers in the Annex are extremely flakey, many "out of order", one with a space bar on the keyboard which doesn't work. Oh well, just write everything without spaces and let people figure it out?

"Cultural" life, without computers, goes on more or less. I haven't read anything recently worth mentioning. I told Felix that Handel makes me "want to powder my wig but it's a joy to hear Fleming." So it was with Rodelinda in its Met broadcast premiere (whatever Fleming wants, Fleming gets, I gathered from the intermission discussion, and so it should be). The production of Verdi's Othello was also fine. Now the Met is taking a mid-season break, something I don't remember having happened before, so we'll have recordings from past broadcasts for two weeks.

You keep coming back like a song ...

As with some Earworm performances, not all songs are really welcome. The Airport Couple, after a few months absence, has come back. The Fatman is even more fat. He takes off his shirt to sleep at the Black Hole and it is really grotesque to see that "beached white whale" on the mat when I awake in the morning. Mercifully, I have not yet been stuck with him right next to me during the night.

One would think that a person getting older would merit more, rather than less, medical benefits. But no, I got a communication about Medicare which told me that beginning April Fool's Day, I will only be covered if I get seriously ill enough to go in hospital. No more free doctor's visits paid for by the State ... unless I want to have $66 per month deducted from my Social Security to provide additional coverage. No thanks.

1295

Internet Archive, the art critic. But it seems to have changed its mind. Yesterday, when I went to the Picture Gallery page and looked at "Dame Edith", the Archive briefly displayed it and then switched to the classic icon of a broken image. Isn't doing it today.

But I don't disagree with the original verdict. I was honored to have that work included in a museum exhibition, very much pleased when it was purchased, but looking at it from this distance in time, I'm not much satisfied with it as a tribute to that formidable woman.

Still falls the rain ...

Speaking of coming back like a song, Grubby is back in the mall but apparently doesn't dare set foot in McD's, sits on a nearby bench in the early mornings. It is essential to take a bench some distance away so as to enjoy morning coffee without the delicious aroma of dried piss.

Another old-timer seems to be permanently gone, however. Gramps Thrasher has now been absent from the Black Hole for several months. I think he, and his plastic garbage bag full of stuff, have finally departed this plane of existence.

The Queen Mum and the Duchess are still around, though. Me, too, although I do sometimes wonder why.

1296

Felix wrote: we fall in love because otherwise we would wash our hands of such difficult people.

I thanked him for so perfectly defining the core of my relationship with the Sleeptalker.

There is one odd thing about the computers in the Hamilton Annex. When I created the Tales, I specified the Arial font. Of course, for that to work, the viewer's computer has to have that font installed. From what I've seen, not many do. But Hamilton Annex does. It's touchingly nostalgic to see them in the way I first created them.

The used bookshop which has been supplying much of my reading material has, alas, closed. So it's back to the State Library or to the one-dollar selection at the mall's Japanese department store. At the latter I found a fine treat, a Jonathan Kellerman Alex Delaware yarn I've somehow missed before, Private Eyes. I especially liked his description of Los Angeles as "ceaseless motion masquerading as freedom". But it isn't one of Kellerman's best. The plot is almost absurdly gothic.

I am much impressed by mankind's landing on Titan, embarrassed it wasn't the Americans who did it. Memories of Sputnik.

1296a

An indignant reader commented on my remark about the Titan landing and wrote:

Albert, how do you think Huygens GOT to Titan?! Give us some credit - were it not for NASA and the Cassini orbiter, Huygens would be only a good idea. It's called teamwork.

NASA doesn't get nearly enough credit for the things they do RIGHT as blame for the things that go WRONG.


1297

The theme of Michael Lasser's show this week was well-known songs by little-known black composers. Yes, I knew every song he played but couldn't have guessed who had written it. "Dark Town Strutter's Ball", "Sweet Georgia Brown", etc. My favorite was Bessie Smith's naughty "I Need Some Sugar in My Bowl", which I heard on the Sunday afternoon repeat broadcast. Then I saw the Sleeptalker at the Black Hole and we exchanged smiles. (From another song, "and not a word was spoken".) Sugar in my bowl.

It was a dull holiday weekend, though, not helped by dreary Kona Wind weather. Gray and gloomy, hideously humid, constantly threatening rain. It waited for that until late afternoon on Martin Luther King Jr. Day when it just poured for hours, often whipped up by strong breezes. Even the sunset bench wasn't totally dry, but I would have gotten drenched had I tried to move to a more sheltered spot. So I sat it out and appealed to the weather gods to please calm down a bit before I had to leave for the Black Hole. Most kindly, they did, although they resumed their temper tantrum the next morning when I had to cower on a campus bench, unable to feed the furry ones until after ten-thirty.

Offenbach's Hoffman literally put me to sleep. I had to turn it off before the end of the first act, afraid I'd fall off the bench and crack my head (not for the first time). But the Guy Noir segment of Prairie Home Companion was so deliciously surreal I listened to it on Saturday and again on the Sunday repeat.

The dollar bookshelves yielded another "thought-I'd-read-them-all" treasure with A Taste of Death by the incomparable P.D. James. Not one of her best, but her less-than-best is better than most writers in this genre. Then there was Smiley's People by le Carre. I'm not much of a fan of these Cold War spy epics, but le Carre surely is the master. (I'm too lazy to do the code to add the accent over the final E).

I am not really a fan of Martin Luther King, Jr. but I did cringe when hearing excerpts of Bush2's appallingly insincere tribute speech on the holiday.

1298

Somehow I can't take St. Paul. Seems to me he was a bit of a troublemaker. There were these little groups of Christians all minding their own business and getting along all right, by and large. No one's perfect. And then St. Paul arrives unexpectedly and starts bossing and criticizing. Or he'd send them one of his fierce letters. Not the kind of letter I'd care to receive ...
P.D. James: Death in Holy Orders

Yes, definitely the Baroness in top form.

Okay, okay, I removed the black Inaugural mourning backcloth from the main page of the Tales. I haven't paid much attention to the pundits commenting on the speech, but as I interpreted it, Bush2 was saying that every country on earth must adopt the American system of government and, if they don't do so willingly, we will force them to do so.

I do think the American system (when it works as it was intended to do) is the best system. But I don't think Americans have the right to insist upon it globally. Bush2 only barely managed to be elected as President ... who anointed him as Emperor of the World?

1299

Johnny Carson.

For many years, he was the last person I saw before drifting off into dreamland, as they say.

Makes it sound like we were lovers.

Well, I guess in a way we were. Me, and millions of other American television viewers, especially those who stayed up late at night.

So long, Johnny. Was good to have your company.

1300

Full Moon in Leo. I hope Felix is not howling too loudly.
And where is the Sleeptalker?

So I got an increase in pay from $577/month to $594/month. The big increase in income will come in May when I can finally get an old-person bus pass and not have to pay $40/month to ride around town.

It's all so irrelevant.

They made a big deal on the Saturday Met broadcast about the recording of the '67 Aida not having been altered. I think Bergonzi would have been happy to have had a re-take of the "Celeste Aida" inserted, because it was the worst I can remember hearing. Leontyne Price and Robert Merrill were splendid, though.

The weather gods are being giddy. The tradewinds returned on Saturday morning, went away again on Sunday morning.

Dilemma. If you read a book which is so awful, you throw it in the trash unfinished, do you mention it warning readers not to buy the thing or do you just ignore it?

I decided not to mention it.

Strange time, these days before the Rooster arrives.

1301

Grubby and Joe Guam have gone missing, haven't been seen for a week. Odd that two such long-time regulars would vanish at the same time. And Joe has long given up talking about "going home" to Guam, so I doubt that's the explanation.

A stranger came to the Secluded Grove, a beautiful, very dark tortoise-shell cat. She greeted me with a meow, then sat looking up at the family eating their breakfast on the top of the wall. Eventually, when most of them had finished, she went up the wall to investigate. Lady Grey got ferocious, her fur standing on end, tail all puffed up, making deep growling sounds. Never saw her like that before. The visitor got the hint and quickly went back down the wall. I guess that explains why there have been so few cats in the area aside from Lady Grey and her family.

The Sleeptalker missed this Full Moon. I am trying not to broadcast "I want to see you" messages.

1302

I do not often have a chance to use that old-fashioned word "flabbergasted". But I did on Saturday morning.

I gave the family their breakfast, was sitting in the Secluded Grove reading a book. The sky, which had been rather pleasant, suddenly became extremely threatening. So I relocated to my usual weekend sheltered bench.

A man walked over. I thought he was going to complain about me smoking a cigarette in an area where one is not supposed to smoke. "I've seen you sitting here before," he said. "It's a nice place to sit on a wet day," I replied.

He introduced himself, added, "I'm the President. You're always welcome here."

Okay, he's really only the "Acting President", but my flabber was gasted.

The Sleeptalker came to look for me at the mall. He was in his most charming mode, and when that man is being his most charming, he beats any man I have ever known at being charming.

I was, of course, totally charmed, even more than I was flabbergasted.

And that threatening sky produced hours and hours of rain, flash flood warnings, and all that stuff.

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the tales