1329

The good Father Greeley got it wrong. In his speculative essay about who would be the new Pope, he was quite certain it wouldn't be the man who is now known as Benedict XVI. Oh well, I'm sure Andrew Greeley wasn't very high on the "most popular priest" list at the Vatican already, so no matter. And it does seem a rather strange choice. I can't imagine a major corporation selecting a 78-year-old man as chief executive. Maybe it's a "Lifetime Achievement Award"?

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The author says you are a "postmodernist homeless man" (can you believe it !).

Perhaps I should get a tee-shirt with that on it.

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But would I have the nerve to wear it?

I saw Angelo who was sitting with a man I don't know on steps near the 7-Eleven Crossroads. We exchanged waves, but I didn't stop to talk. A few minutes later, Tanioka walked past, totally ignoring me. I'm still puzzled by the Sleeptalker's similar act but in this case, I think it was just Tanioka being embarrassed because he owes me money. No need for him to be bothered. I figure that if he doesn't manage to repay a loan by the tenth of the month, I won't see it until the following month. He was carrying a metal crutch but wasn't using it, didn't seem to be limping.

How do these people dream up such strange plots? In Sandra Brown's Exclusive there is a man who had a vasectomy but didn't tell his wife who spends years feeling guilty for not producing a child. She then has an affair and gets pregnant. Husband smothers the baby in its crib. Oh, by the way, the man was the President of the United States.

1330

"I have a cold sore in my eye."
"It's called a sty."
"What should I do about it?"
"Nothing. Try not to rub it. It'll go away in a week or so."

I think concern about that was the main reason for the Sleeptalker arriving at the sunset area on Third Wednesday, but he also wanted to boast about having found the Dark Corner.

"You're sleeping down there with all the mosquitos!" That, I assume, means he has himself stayed there at one time. It's true, they really are a menace and without chemical repellent, I couldn't be there. Maybe that explains why there is so little competition for the space. A bit eerie, thinking of the Sleeptalker being there while I was asleep. He must have been so curious that he spent time exploring the area, since I'd only given a vague clue about its location.

He evidently has yet another patron, a "crackhead". He thinks the man is gay (surprise, surprise!) but he has a computer.

He looked in my plate-lunch box. By that time there was nothing left but porkchop bones and macaroni salad, since I'd already eaten the pork and given the rice to the birds. I asked if he wanted something to eat, but he said no, only later said he'd really like some ice cream. So I gave him money to buy some. And off he went.

He did, as expected, know who I meant with that long-absent returnee, so now I remember his real name but not his Tales name.

I've given up the morning coffee habit. Wasn't intentional. I used to buy the cup of "senior coffee", drink it all and most of the free re-fill. Then I gradually started drinking less and less of the first cup. When it got to the point where I was drinking only about a quarter of it, seemed sensible just to skip it. Poor McDonald's, out about fifteen dollars a month.

If only the process would work with tobacco.

1331

The high point of the weekend, no contest, was Renée Fleming and Garrison Keillor singing Stephen Foster's "Hard Times Come Again No More". Those few minutes were far more touching than the lengthy Die Walkure from the Met.

I didn't care much for the two jazz-flavored songs Fleming sang on the show. The performance was fine but the songs were really too insignificant, didn't deserve her time. But she was totally delightful in the, as always, slightly surreal Guy Noir episode, perfect as a haughty diva named Renata Flambeau.

The Cat Lady found me in Grove Two on Sunday morning. Evidently there is a batch of new kittens near George Hall so she has expanded her feeding range. We talked about Lady Grey and her family and agree that it's undoubtedly a woman who brings food every morning to a nearby area who has replaced me as their main provider. I assured the Cat Lady that I am keeping an eye on them.

Grove Two is a circular area dominated by two large trees and on one side there are a number of large rocks (boulders, almost) stacked in stylish fashion. On Saturday morning what appeared to be a fairly young mongoose romped over and around the boulders for quite some time. Most unusual, because those shy creatures are usually only briefly glimpsed as they rush from one hiding place to another. A complete delight to watch.

Warmer weather seems here to stay, so I dumped the cashmere pullover. Time to look for a lighter weight long-sleeve shirt, too, and abandon this heavy brown flannel one. Even if it has been very good to me for months. Must keep long-sleeves for nighttime, as much because of the mosquitos as the temperature.

The Dark Corner wasn't quite so dark this weekend with that big fool moon shining down on me.

1332

"I am trying to listen to THE PRESIDENT!"

I was bad on Thursday, have vowed not to grumble at impolite cellphone people (well, except for a nasty look or two). It's all George's fault. I was listening to the Bush2 press conference and a man kept pacing back and forth in front of me ranting on his cellphone for half an hour. I was so annoyed by Bush2 that I waved my hands at the cellphone person, the way I do when shooing away those fat spotted doves, and grumbled the above. He grumbled something back, but went away.

A shame Bush2 can't be shooed away so easily.

I had to overcome the phobia about breaking routine to get my old folks bus pass. Long bus ride to get there but a very efficient operation, only a short application form to complete, sit in a chair and have a (ghastly) photograph taken, hand over thirty dollars and a minute later get a plastic-covered bus pass good for not just a year, but thirteen months. A nice bonus. Won't have to undertake that routine again until late May 2006.

A $490 annual increase in income.

That will help with the wretched supermarket which has now raised the price on all brands of beer. (I'm probably one of the few old age pensioners who put up with it instead of making the effort to shop elsewhere, but then I've never denied being lazy.)

So much hoopla on campus, protesting the possibility of military-financed research. Even a "sit-in" at Bachman Hall. Not an issue I can get very excited about, but it's good to see the usually apathetic UH-Manoa students show some interest in the world around them.

1333

Gounod's Faust from the Met on Saturday. Curious history, that opera. As I mentioned in a recent tale, it was first presented in English (since it was commissioned by an English opera company). It was the first opera at the Met when it opened in the 1880's, sung in Italian. The Germans are so irked by what Gounod did with their Grand Old Man Goethe's masterpiece that they even refuse to call it Faust. Marguerite instead, no doubt sung in German. Saturday's performance was in French. Whether it was the performance or just my mood, I don't know, but I got quite bored and bailed out after act three.

It's a mad, mad world.

A live sex performance at the Dark Corner. A young couple arrived and settled across the area from me. I went back to sleep but later noises woke me and I saw that they were busy doing what young couples tend to do. They kept their clothes on (poor mosquitoes would have had a feast otherwise and the show would have been more interesting for me). I suspect they had been indulging in the glass pipe to be so uninhibited and because it took him so long to reach a conclusion. So long I got bored and went back to sleep instead of just pretending to be.

A timely article about Getting mosquitoes to buzz off. I use the OFF stuff mentioned, in a solid form, like a stick deodorant. I wouldn't mind if it were more potent because if one little bit of exposed skin is missed, those wretched tiny vampires will zero in on it despite the surrounding areas of keep-away cautions.

I saw Tanioka on the last Friday of April and he asked to borrow twenty dollars. "TWENTY DOLLARS!" I said. "Why, are you broke?" No, I wasn't but I did remind him that he is still in the hole for fifteen and I'm not taking it that much further, don't want him to turn into an Angelo who doesn't know the meaning of the word "loan".

My book on Sunday morning was finished too quickly and I didn't want to go to the mall to buy something so, rare event, paid full price for Jonathan Kellerman's latest paperback, Therapy. Not bad. Likewise with Richard North Patterson's The Man Outside and Voodoo River by Robert Crais, both of which I more happily got for a dollar each.

The protesting students have erected dome tents on the lawn in front of Bachman Hall, as well as camping out inside the place. They are dragging it on too long, since the President of the university has refused to sign a letter disavowing military-funded research but has promised not to present a proposal to the Board of Regents until October. So what's the point of staying now? And it's Finals Week. Silly critters should be spending the time studying instead of gloating over how much media attention they've gotten.

1334

I had to decline a movie invitation on May Day, told Helen my clothes were too dirty for polite society and that I didn't have the energy to go shopping plus get to the theatre. I finally forced myself to make the shopping expedition a few days later (I do hate shopping for clothes).

For the first time, I visited the large Wal-Mart store. They certainly don't waste any of their huge profits on atmosphere. The offerings in the men's department reminded me of Sears, circa 1955, although the prices were certainly appealing. I didn't buy anything, instead went across the street to Ross and got trousers, a tee shirt and a long-sleeved "night shirt". I thought, feeling the fabric, that it was thin cotton, but when checking the label later to see where it had been made I was surprised to see 100% silk. Made in China, of course. An old homeless man sleeping in Chinese silk. Is this what postmodernist homeless means?

I got three letters from the social worker persons. One was straightforward and expected, the end of the State health insurance coverage. But I was surprised to learn from the more murky other two letters that I still have Medicaid. The "emergency dental service" is free, so I can get a tooth pulled if necessary, but the rest of it is "pay-for-service" medical coverage. I suppose that means I can get it cheap (or relatively so). Their web site isn't any more helpful than the letters. So, since I am a pauper, I have both Medicaid and Medicare. What a bewildering system.

We don't want anyone retiring into poverty, Bush2 said. Hmmmmm ....

The Tweaker Couple made another visit to the Dark Corner. I don't think they are homeless, just use the place to smoke the glass pipe and frolic sexually. They are clumsy smokers, dropped the pipe twice (I know well the sound of the glass pipe hitting concrete). They settled as distant from me as they could get, propped their bicycle and draped something over it to provide a screen. A fairly brief visit. They went away and some time later returned, no doubt having gone off to get fresh smoking supplies. Repeated that one more time. At sixty dollars a night, perhaps their visits won't be too frequent. I hope so.

The student protest at the University finally ended. I admire the administration for having dealt with it so well, am not at all sure I agree with the students. $50 million dollars to conduct military-related research is an opportunity I think UH should accept.

Speaking of UH, the next two weekends will probably be off-line time since the libraries will be closed during the interim between the end of the spring session and the start of the summer session.

I hope the radio has better consolation than this week's Met production of Mozart's Clemenza di Tito which was pretty awful. Prairie Home Companion was better, though, and I especially enjoyed the amusing participation of George McGovern.

And I guess I'll have to hit the bookstores even more often.

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the tales