1355

Some twenty thousand young people swarming through the relatively small area of the University of Hawaii's campus in Manoa. Enough to make a dirty old man (of any persuasion) quite dizzy. I tell myself to stop ogling. It's okay to be a dirty old man but at least have enough style not to broadcast the fact.

In that Russian novel, one of the main characters was a victim of the Fantasy Addiction, would get so involved in his fantasy version of what life might be that he sometimes had difficulty escaping and dealing with the much less interesting "real" life version. I can sympathize with that.

One thing is certain. No matter what amusing scenarios I conjure up with the Sleeptalker, the real thing is always more interesting. He arrived at the mall late afternoon on Wednesday. He did get foodstamps but was refused Crazy Money, or so he says. I'm not convinced he even went to see the Qualifying Doc but didn't challenge his version. No bicycle. Someone stole it. And he was much annoyed that someone also stole all the things he had at the Black Hole. Nevertheless, he was in good spirits and looked wonderful.

This primitive Microsoft telnet program is so annoying. It just doesn't interface properly with UNIX programs. Intentional? Wouldn't surprise. Lynx is an unusable mess, Pico not much better (especially with the enter key jumping the cursor down several lines). Pine works okay for mail but can't access Usenet, which may not be such a bad thing. And in the MUDs, the telnet provides no echo so you can't see what you've typed.

Of course, I could write the Tales without ever using the enter key, but it does help to have paragraphs display on screen while writing.

It's always a pleasure to find an Andrew Greeley book I hadn't yet read and so it was with his The Bishop Goes to The University. One of his more improbable plots but with ample opportunity to make his usual witty pokes at the Vatican and, this time, also at the University of Chicago.

But a novel which really amazed me is Yann Martel's Life of Pi. Several critics described it as "extraordinary" and this is one time when I can use the word with no hesitation. One of those few books I wished I'd written myself.

1356

I'll fly away, old glory, I'll fly away
Fly away in the morning
When I die, hallelujah bye and bye
I'll fly away.


One of my favorite gospel tunes and they gave us a decent performance on the weekend's Prairie Home Companion. Of course, it sent the Earworm into overdrive and it hasn't stopped playing the song for days.

All these prolific writers. And many of them confuse things even further with their pseudonyms. Funny, that John Sandford has become so much more marketable a name than his real one that they are now re-printing earlier books written as John Camp under the Sandford label. The Fool's Run, for example. A most enjoyable read, too.

Right now I am wallowing in Maugham's Of Human Bondage which I haven't wallowed in since the Sixties.

Blessed weekend. Those mornings of sleeping a bit later without having to worry about the time, the comparatively deserted and quiet campus. My back-to-school fantasy: I'd have a little device, about the size of a cigarette lighter. And if someone came within ten feet of me, yakking on a cellphone, I'd push a button and that damned phone would be toast, melted circuits. I love the idea of watching someone looking terribly puzzled, wondering what had happened.

1357

September arrived in a very damp and sultry mood but one can hardly complain about a bit of unpleasant weather considering what has happened on the Gulf Coast this week. Poor New Orleans, poor people of New Orleans. One of my favorite cities on the planet, always on the itinerary when I fall into Travel Fantasy mode. But I guess I'll have to change that for quite some time. It's almost more tragic, hearing the news reports about what people are doing to people there than what nature did. How quickly "civilized society" can collapse.

Sad news, too, although hardly on the same scale, is the report that Angelo is yet again back in jail. I think that man has spent more time inside than out this year. So much for prison being a deterrent.

It isn't, for an addict. He steals, buys pipe filling, enjoys his pipe in lonely solitude, steals some more, repeat repeat ... until inevitably he gets caught. And goes back to jail.

As Gertrude Stein reportedly said in her dying words, "what is the answer?"

I looked back at earlier tales, from the third year, when my friendship with Angelo was just beginning and enjoyed the memories. He was very much a different person before crystal meth took over his life.

A holiday weekend. Fortunately, unlike the State Library, the University libraries will only close on Monday. So even though I'll have to endure weekend/holiday bus schedules for three days, I'll have the comfort of library access on Saturday and Sunday and three mornings of unworried sleep until my bony body can no longer bear my tile floor mattress. (Yes, it gets quite painful sometimes but I'm not carrying around a padded sleeping bag.)

I was asked about the Freshman of the Year award. Well, there are many candidates this semester but none who are more noteworthy than the others, so the award is still on hold. Enjoying the competition, though.

1358

Lost and Found

Lost: a little Sony AM/FM radio. How it came to be lost is a mystery. Unlike its predecessors, it's almost impossible someone could have stolen it. The bag is by my side throughout the day, serves as a pillow during the night. I can only guess that when I was taking something out of the bag (perhaps my nightshirt), the radio also escaped. I am puzzled by why I didn't notice it, if so. Anyway, it was gone when I searched the bag for my usual afternoon listen to All Things Considered. I looked in the two other bag compartments, in case I had absent-mindedly put it there instead of its usual place. Oh well, off to shop for a bargain. I found a little Chinese model for just over ten dollars. Not an expense I really wanted in this x equals time, but I couldn't face the idea of having no radio until Third Wednesday.

Found: a Motorola cellphone, one with photo capability. So far as I could discover, the only photo was of a young Japanese couple. I found it on a sidewalk near Hamilton Library. I was sitting outside the library trying to determine how to turn the thing off since I didn't want to be inside if it started playing some stupid tune. While I was doing that, it rang. I answered the call and had a slightly confusing, rather amusing chat with who was probably the young Japanese man in the photo. He was, understandably, amazed that some strange male voice answered his call. After some muddled conversation (his English was not excellent), we agreed that I would leave the cellphone at the main desk at Hamilton.

Of course, my first thought when finding it was to locate a large stone and smash the thing into pieces, reduce the overpopulation of these infernal devices on campus by one. I suppose the resolution of the problem was actually better.

It has been quite a dull time. The weather is tiresome, very frequent drizzles from the sky, often more of a heavy mist, not even worth seeking shelter. But also some brief and heavy downpours.

One morning at about 3:30 I was awakened by someone arriving at the Dark Corner and sprawling on the floor near me. I didn't react for a few minutes, but then dug into my pocket to check the time. He looked around to see what I was doing. The Sleeptalker. "You're a bit late," I said, "the man will be here soon to open." He said nothing. Then perhaps ten minutes later he got up and left. I assume he'd been on the pipe all night and wonder if he'd wanted something from me and, if so, why didn't he say anything?

Hamilton Library will be closed on Saturday to take the final step in restoring full power, eliminating the need for the two huge generators which have been parked outside. Compared to New Orleans, the Manoa Flood was really very minor and it has taken almost a year to restore normal operations. What hope is there for Nawlins?

1359

Mitchell recently wrote about the increased display of female cleavage. Ain't it the truth. Although our motivation for noticing is not the same, I had taken note of it when the new school year began. I was reminded of that wonderful scene in Gone With the Wind where Mammy is scolding Scarlett for wearing a dress which was cut too low to be suitable in the morning. If old Mammy saw what women are wearing on campus this season, in the morning, she wouldn't believe her eyes.

If only the young male students would adopt similar habits. More shirtless, please. More wearing those thin satin-like shorts, preferably without underwear. But then I'd fall into fits of ogling, so perhaps it's better that they don't.

[For some mysterious reason I can't get the link to Mitchell's website properly inserted. Must be ever encroaching Alzheimer's.]

Better a raincoat than shirtless recently, in any case. What miserable weather. Rain, rain, rain and more rain. Twice this week I've abandoned campus much earlier in the day than usual and taken refuge at a sheltered bench at the mall.

Steel Reserve runs an excellent, first-class brewery. No complaints whatever about what has made me the most brand loyal beer drinker since the last time I lived in England where it was always Webster's Yorkshire Bitter. But Steel could use some work on its bottling operation. Too often recently I've gotten twist-off caps which just won't twist off. I have to take my little Swiss army knife and break some of the connections before I can get it open. Not a nice thing to happen when one is trying to be discreet.

It would be good, too, if they could somehow force retailers to stop price gouging. Foodland has set a new record, asking $3.49. It can be found for $2.30 in Chinatown. So, especially in these dread days before Third Wednesday, I've been making more trips than usual to Chinatown. Boring bus trips, but then I certainly have more time at my disposal than money.

It's against my nature to say anything good about Bush2, but I have to admit his speech to the nation from New Orleans was the best he's done in his presidency. If only one could believe he was truly sincere.

1360

At last. A shift in the weather. The weekend was sunny, breezy, with not a drop of water falling from the sky. "Breezy" may be an understatement. Sometimes I had to hold my plastic-bottle-disguised beer to keep it from blowing over. This is not a time to waste a drop.

I'm beginning to enjoy my early morning excursions to Chinatown in order to save a dollar on that beverage. Chinatown is so totally unlike the rest of this city and it's delightful to walk through it while vegetable and fruit vendors are setting out their offerings on the sidewalk and early shoppers are already there looking for bargains. It makes me wish for a kitchen so I could shop, too, and make a nice pot of vegetable soup.

Andrea Chenier is not one of my favorites, so I only had about twenty minutes of opera on Saturday. That was ten minutes more than I'd had the previous week, when Britten's Billy Budd quickly got switched off. I was utterly bored by it at Covent Garden in the Sixties, and haven't changed my mind about it in the least.

This cheap Chinese radio has the disadvantage of an on/off switch which can easily get switched on in the bag. Not so good for battery life. That switch is also the volume control, a little wheel on the side. To turn the sound up, you turn the wheel down. Is this psychological warfare from the Chinese?

It's a pity Oprah gave up on her Book Club. To see "Oprah's Book Club" on the cover of the book was to have the assurance one was in for an interesting read. Not necessarily a "great" book, but always interesting and often offbeat. So it was with Willy Lamb's I Know This Much is True. Splendid title, splendid content. Melancholy, rambling and, yes, a bit depressing, but a fine novel. Oprah and her staff knew how to pick them.

After two weeks of new, live broadcasts, Prairie Home Companion lazed out with a repeat this weekend. The new ones were from the Minnesota State Fair and from the Kansas State Fair. The governor of Kansas appeared on that one, participated in the Guy Noir episode. She called and asked for his help. He was dubious, the governor of Kansas a woman? Next you'll be telling me you're a Democrat, he said. I am a Democrat, she replied. Was that by election or divine edict, he asked. Both, she said. I like her.

1361

Grief! Another storm headed to the Gulf of Mexico, the returnees to New Orleans ordered to evacuate once again. And now two of the things are headed our way. At least so far they remain "tropical storms" rather than hurricanes. The current prediction is that the first will arrive on Friday and dump heavy rain on us for three days. If that happens, I'll be absent from on-line life, will just stay at the mall all day.

The wretched Regular in the sunset area would be most displeased, if so. Phooey, he has the place to himself all day until I arrive in late afternoon.

Speaking of wretched and regular, after a very long absence, Wobbly has returned. When he goes missing for more than two or three weeks, I think he's finally departed this plane of existence. For several years he has looked like he was on the brink of it, looks even worse now, can hardly walk, even with a cane. Like the equally wretched Grubby, he douses himself with cologne, stinks even worse than he probably would without it.

It's unpleasant to be in the mall's mens toilet with either of them.

Last Friday evening was the annual downtown street party and I was a bit concerned that it might spill into the Dark Corner neighborhood. There were more people walking through than usual, but otherwise I only had one man actually come into my space and try to talk to me. He was too drunk to be intelligible and I finally said, "go away! I'm trying to sleep!". He did. Then the Tweaker, also absent for some time, arrived, on his own, smoked his pipe and went away. The next night he again arrived, this time with a male companion who was a real motormouth until he apparently had the first hit of the pipe and then, mercifully, shut up. They, too, only stayed for one pipe.

Early in the Tales I mentioned the idea of finding the right "spot", in the Castaneda sense. Of course, by now I have found several spots, none more treasured than the Dark Corner. I know it can't last, but it's certainly welcome while it does.

Tuesday before Third Wednesday is such an awful day. Just waiting for it to pass, waiting for the night to pass, waiting for postal delivery time and hoping that envelope will be in the box. This time is definitely the worst this year. I know, I think I said that before, but believe me, this really is the worst. I think I'll end up with one dollar bill and a few coins.

It's a very silly thought, but then when have I denied having such things. Rolling cigarettes seems to make the tobacco habit even more sordid than smoking ready-rolled. Not to mention picking up lengthy butts from ashtrays. Oh well, after fifty-one years of being a slave to the habit, I'm not likely the break free now, am I?

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the tales