1310

I'm surprised you hadn't read Harry Potter already. My son has read them all, though he is not much of a reader, and of course so have I.

You aren't the only reader who has been surprised. One even offered to send me all of the books. Considering how much money I have spent on them in the past few days, I should've said yes.

I suppose for his generation it is more or less like the Wizard of Oz for yours.

Yes, the comparison to Oz is more apt than to Tolkien.

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The holiday weekend was dominated by Harry Potter, but I did take a break to listen to La Boheme, a touching performance from the Metropolitan Opera. They reported that Puccini wrote after attending a production "I was weeping like a child" at the death of Mimi. He wasn't the only one, but then tears started to flow through most of Act 3.

And on Monday I joined Helen R. to see the new Keanu Reeves movie, Constantine. Alas.

Well, it was certainly good to see Helen, as always.

"Nice clothes!" Tanioka said when I crossed paths with him in the pre-dawn hours. I rather agree, but they could use a wash. I'd just buy new ones as replacements but the store doesn't have them anymore. Dark brown "cargo pants" and a surprisingly close match of dark brown in a cotton flannel shirt. The shirt is from Land's End, the first garment I've owned from them, and I was pleased to find it since they've long been a sponsor of Prairie Home Companion, one of my favorite radio shows. Dark brown is even better than black at not looking dirty.

Many, perhaps most, series novels start off fine and gradually become weaker, repetitive, dull (witness Robert Jordan). The Potter books are the reverse. Each one gets bigger and better. I'd like to survive until July to read the next one.

1311

A reader wrote: No comment on the death of Hunter S. Thompson?

I didn't comment on Arthur Miller, either, although I was much surprised when the BBC World Service opened their evening broadcast with a report of his death. (I do think Death of a Salesman is one of the great American contributions to world theatre.)

Miller waited till he got an invitation to go through the door of the Final Exit. Thompson crashed the party. No blame, no shame, as I see it.

I certainly consider it often, and have all my long life.

Thompson was always an outlaw, a delightfully cynical writer who gave me much pleasure and tried to tell this weird country things many inhabitants of it didn't want to know.

1312

The Waianae Werewolf missed the Full Moon this time but as expected he did arrive on the last day of February. The Sleeptalker, unusually, had a monthly bus pass. He ignored the question when I asked how he'd gotten it, but I thought he'd probably use it one last time for a trip into town. Dame Fortune was kind because I was leaving campus when our paths crossed in a place where we were both surprised to see each other.

I've been quite lucky with books from the dollar-book-shelves at the mall but had gotten a total loser. I can't imagine why any publisher was dumb enough to print the thing and threw it into the trash after about twenty pages. So I was on my way to buy replacements.

At the store, the Sleeptalker suggested many options, most of which I've already read, but I did select a couple of things and then tried to take him to the Mai Tai Bar for a drink. Of course, they wanted ID. Oh well, to the supermarket for two beers and to L&L for take-out meals which we enjoyed in the sunset bench area.

I asked him what he's doing out in the country and he said "just wandering around". He's sleeping under a bridge, complained about the difficulty in getting to the spot which evidently involves climbing over rocks.

Even though it's certainly the most physically uncomfortable place I've found during this phase of my silly life, I do love the luxury of solitude at the Dark Corner. And for the first time since my days of being an office drone, I look forward to weekends. No early wake-up from newspaper deliverers, no checking my watch every quarter hour or so to make sure I'm out of there before the man arrives to open the place. (So far I've only slipped up once and quickly exited when he drove his truck into the place.)

Mad as a March Hare. That's me. And the Sleeptalker.

1313

I know that you don't really care what I think you should do. And, I absolutely respect that.
However, I am sure that there are many readers, besides me, who would like to know how you are feeling.
Would you be so kind as to give us an update on your current state of "well being?" What's going on with your hand and arm?

Another reader wrote:

My kinisithirapeute asked about you. He was glad you could write again, even if not very well, said you had great chances to recover your normal capacities if you had improved so soon.

I think that weird word translates to physiotherapist.

The right arm and hand seem to have regained full strength and dexterity but there is still some lack of fine control. I did manage to write a postcard but I'm afraid it may have been so inelegantly done that Felix will worry. I'll keep trying.

The reason I saw no reason to consult a physician was because I knew what the advice would be. Stop smoking, reduce (or even eliminate) alcohol consumption, possibly take some drug for high blood pressure. The first two I have no intention of doing, the third I don't want to spend money on, as I'd have to as a senior citizen in the United States of America.

Like I said, I don't want to have bits of my body incapacitated, just give me a massive stroke and get me out of here. If it happens while I'm sleeping, all the better. Except, of course, for the nuisance to the proprietors of the Dark Corner. I'd rather die there than at the Black Hole.

I felt like I'd stepped into the Twilight Zone on Thursday evening. I went to the supermarket to buy my sunset beer, a bowl of soup and some buttermilk biscuits. The young man at the check-out tried to charge me $5.99 for the soup, instead of the $2.99 it should have been. He evidently thought I'd had enough beer already and just hid the bottle somewhere, ignored it. I disputed the overcharge on the soup. He corrected it, put the soup and the biscuits in a bag and went to the next customer. I said "what happened to my beer?" and he again just totally ignored me. I wish they'd stop hiring Mormons at that store.

So I went and got another bottle of beer, took it to a different clerk and got my sunset repast.

This is really so stupid:
Beach homeless hit road
3 arrested as police evict campers in Ewa Beach

The Sleeptalker, of course, is familiar with the area and was much surprised when I told him the news.

1314

I talked with Pedro for awhile. Although he has no solid evidence, he thinks Joe Guam is dead. I think either dead or in the hospital. If he'd finally gotten to the point of returning to Guam, I'm sure he would have mentioned it the last time I saw him.

Now the Duchess has disappeared. After seeing her for so many years sitting in the early morning on the same bench outside McD's, it's a strange feeling to see the bench empty.

I don't understand your health system. Why do you have to pay more when you get older ? Because now you have a pension ?

Until you reach 65, poor folks are covered by the national program, Medicaid, and in some states, including Hawaii, by state programs. These permit visits to doctors, optometrists, dentists (although only for extractions in the latter case), and free prescription drugs. At 65, you switch to Medicare. It covers expenses for any health problem which involves hospitalization, but that's about it. I'm still wondering if I should have a sometimes-troublesome molar eliminated this month, while Medicaid will pay for it. I think I am also eligible for some services at the Veterans Hospital, but haven't really investigated it. (I know the Old Guitarist got free eyeglasses from them.) According to the information booklet provided by Medicare, some states do provide additional assistance for the indigent. Perhaps I'll find out details when I have my annual review for foodstamps in July.

I should have maintained my British residency. Then I'd have free service for everything. But then I'd have to put up with the gloomy British winters and would probably die sooner from depression than from limited medical care in the U.S.

Speaking of foodstamps, I'm grateful any unused portion carries over to the next month, else I would have had to do some heavy food shopping. I had more than fifty dollars carryover this cycle, the most ever. (Being silly and treating myself to hot food instead of using the stamps to buy boring sandwiches and other cold stuff.)

I didn't see the film, but Homer Hickham's October Sky (originally published as Rocket Boys) is a wonderful autobiography. Thoroughly recommended.

1315

They had an illustration of an older woman on the TV news the other night. They said that police were seeking the identity of the woman who was found dead at a bus stop near Ala Moana. I immediately thought of "Dutchess." This was about a week ago, maybe less.

I am sure that was the Duchess. How sad. Although her life, or at least the final years of it, seemed to be rather sad, too. Every day, a bit after sunset when it became dark, she would leave the mall and sit on the same bench at the covered bus stop and sleep in a sitting position. Between five and five-thirty in the morning, she would return to the mall and sit on a bench outside McDonald's, although she very rarely went into the place. In fact, I almost never saw her drinking or eating. I never saw her doing anything but sitting on a bench. She was the most consistent enigma of all characters in the Tales. I just don't understand how anyone could live like that. Without books, without radio, without conversation, I would definitely get suicidal.

The Tales have gone on so long its characters are dying.

Covered bus stops. There was one across from the State Library where there were usually three or four men sleeping each night. Despite the police saying "no sleeping at bus stops", I don't think there is (yet) actually a law against it, and certainly not if one is sleeping in a sitting position. Perhaps that is why they suddenly removed the whole covered structure there. (It's also across from Honolulu Hale, the city hall.) So to get rid of a few homeless sleepers, everyone else has to wait in the rain for a bus?

This is a crazy town.

Vog stands for volcanic fog ?

Or volcanic "smog". It is fortunately fairly rare but sometimes the wind blows in such a way as to bring all the stuff the Big Island volcano ejects to smother Oahu. Last week's attack was one of the worst I've seen although it mercifully lasted only one day. There was so much junk in the air, Diamond Head seen from the university was a vague outline and the towers of downtown were almost invisible.

This is a crazy town.

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the tales