email from NOLA

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It is rainy and cold and this is a test
- jimlouis 10-24-2004 8:12 pm [link] [6 comments]

Kittens And Squirrels
He was reading the comic Russian novel, Oblomov, in bed, while waiting for her to return from a rock and roll sponsored political meeting. He didn't necessarily find anything laugh out loud funny about a guy who doesn't ever get out of bed but he was thoroughly enjoying the phrasing (even if much of what he liked might be attributed to the translator), and he was in that good space that the well written novel will take you.

He could not help the wandering of his mind which had him speculating if she was at that moment interacting with her ex-boyfriend who was heading up the politcal meeting. Everyone should have their fun was a thing he tried to convince himself of and politics can be fun. Not that this wasn't a serious meeting, because it was, very serious, and during a time in history when when politcal meetings should be taken seriously. But still, in between each scenario which had Oblomov turning down one social invitation after another, he wondered if maybe he himself shouldn't try to be more social.

She came back, not at all too late, but with that level of intoxication that results from meaningful social interaction, and he put his book down, knowing he would not be picking it up again this night.

He didn't want to go out for drinks with people from the meeting to the place that had once overcharged him for a cheeseburger but suggested that she feel free and she responded that she did feel free and would stay in with him. He put Oblomov on the nightstand.

He knew that at this particular point in time if he were an item on the drive-thru menu at a fast food restaurant, she would not order him. He could be, and had been in the past, a really juicy item but he didn't feel that way this evening. And he was beginning to worry about the sequential frequency of his less than upbeat demeanor.

She suggested they tell each other stories and he suggested she bring the two of them a slug of hard liquor. She told her story while they drank and he hoped providence would allow for him to not to tell his. Her story was whimsical and funny and somewhat postmodern and he rooted her on as one of the squirrels in her story burst into flames. He didn't like squirrels and this she knew.

They laughed together even as he plotted the best way not to tell his story and finally when it came time for him he just threw out a crappy, loosely slung together tale that was derivative of hers, with squirrels that have no sense of family even as they lived together on a country estate but none of that matters because as soon as he could phrase it he had them, the squirrels, each obliterated by meteors. The last sentence of his tale was a fragment and she booed him for it.

They talked about other things, under the covers, and he mentioned a news story from the town in which he used to live. A man had been arrested for killing two kittens, there had been a 500 dollar reward for information leading to his arrest, and that was all he could remember. She did not want to be so predictable as to always root against the kitten killer so she suggested extenuating circumstances that may have accounted for the murdering of two kittens.

She was getting sleepy but he had become wide awake, thinking about kitten killers. He had a true story he wanted to tell (he later lied that he had made it up) about a three-year-old boy in a southern town with hundreds (let's hope its only hundreds) of boys just like him, and how the boy had been sytematically torturing a kitten all day and then how he, the man, and his girlfriend (although she mostly hated him by then), had rescued the kitten and cared for it a couple of days, trying not to look too closely at the left eyeball which practically hung from its socket.

The kitten died at the vet but before it died the girlfriend had seen the little boy on the street and the boy asked after the kitten. She explained very gently, but honestly, to the point, that the kitten was very sick, that he, the boy, had almost killed it and that it might very well die. The three-year-old boy in the southern town with we hope only hundreds like him, said--"can I have him back after he dead?"

He was laughing sort of maniacally, or hysterically, when he delivered that punch line. She had, afterall, asked for a story. He was full of them like that.

In the morning she woke up crying, said she had been haunted in her dreams all night. Could not in fact tell when she was dreaming or when she was awake, just feeling bad. That's when he told her he had made it up, and was sorry for making it up.
- jimlouis 10-22-2004 6:07 pm [link] [2 comments]

The Skull Preceding Winter
These sequential days of cold, damp and drizzling make a person want to cry out in angst about how hopelessly winterlike it is getting as that person--clue, its me--gets ready for his first real winterlike climate in twenty years or so.

I lived for ten years but not anymore in New Orleans--I'm east coast--and in New Orleans you didn't really think about winter except on those two really cold days every year. Sometimes you would think about winter after it was already in the past and think how that wasn't much of a winter, if indeed you could even remember what winter was like in places that have real winters.

People talk about early snow this year and I have pinned one predictor down to--by mid November there will be a first snow.

You ever heard that Gil Scott-Heron tune, Winter in America?

I washed the dishes in my sink yesterday. They were props of domesticity. Some were dirty and some were clean. There was some mold. There was a little sludge-water in the bottom of some glasses. They had been acting as props for what is very possibly three months. But as a baby step towards genuine domestic behavior I went ahead and cleaned them up and put them away, yesterday.

I am still holding on to a few elements of suspect behavior regarding the idea of a man taking care of his business. I suspect the doing of those dishes (and the unpacking of some dishes that were wrapped in paper sitting in 30 gallon trash bags in the garage) was an act of self-prodding, which is different, more constructive, than self-flaggelation, and that other one, self-deprecation.

I'm just sitting here, off the clock, doing nothing really, as a caretaker, which is my current station in life (being a caretaker). Being a caretaker is complicated and takes careful consideration. I consider things on my own time though. I don't charge for it. No one could really afford me if I did.

I was in a used bookstore yesterday that priced its books as things of value themselves. Like first editions, even of common crap, were more expensive than reprintings. I bought a used paperback for five dollars even though that is approximately ten times what I would generally spend on a used book. I had touched the novelty skull on the wall and set it off screeching or laughing for a period of time that would be my best example of an interminable length, and as much as anything that was why I spent five dollars at the bookstore. I was being penitent more than I was being supportive of a local bookseller.
- jimlouis 10-21-2004 5:49 pm [link] [add a comment]

Hem And Haw
I'm driving up into the Poconos in the morning, headed for Jim Thorpe, Pa., for lunch.

Then I'll come back to Bucks County, Pa. to paint some more on the outside of this 1812 renovated farmhouse.

It's coming along pretty well although there are a couple of height issues I haven't dealt with. I'm hoping a four inch roller with the frame bent to 45 degrees instead of 90, attached to an extension pole, operated from the top of a 28 foot ladder, will do the trick , for the litlle bit of wood at the two peaks.

My horoscope has me in the super human range of possibility for the next month, as a Taurus.

I should finish painting the house a week or ten days from now and then I'll go back to Rappahannock, Va., where I look after a property on the hem, or outskirt, of a quaint, picturesque, village.
- jimlouis 10-08-2004 5:56 am [link] [1 comment]

Little Missy
The waitress apologized on her third coffee refill trip because she evidently felt she was interrupting me staring intently with furrowed brow into my plate at the mountain of refuse I had piled there. A napkin on top of plastic butter cups on top of a plastic syrup container on top of the silverware and the plastic creamer cups and the sugar packets. I was really thinking hard while the yellow colored sun rays cut a path through the partially shuttered window to heat the back of my head and neck in a warm non-human embrace.

Little Missy was being told if you think I'm going to bend down and pick that up everytime you drop it (and on cue she would drop it and)...

The sun had lit up the old woman's face as she was mis-interpreting my direction towards the diner--thinking I was heading for the post office--while she held the door for me wearing a welcome smile. It was a smile of the class that had me considering total and complete reorientation.

But considering and doing are two different things so focused on my plate I considered the value of company versus isolation as the other diners prattled on in a way that would be perfectly acceptable if I were the one prattling. The waitress was talking baby talk to grown ups.

I'm downstairs at the bighouse avoiding those two bathrooms upstairs, off of which I have stripped the wallpaper prior to at least the idea of painting them. I say the idea of because damn it to hell they are giving me some hellish problems during the prep if your idea of hell is pedestrian and diluted from the full strength of possiblility. What problems you ask? Oh, bore me with your queries why don't you?

Outside is the type of weather (and scenery for that matter) that would tend to make a person happy if happiness were that easily achieved. I could do some outside work but putting those bathrooms off ain't getting it done. Hey boy, you ain't getting paint on those walls just sitting there. Mighty expensive bathroom.

The colder outside air is pushing the smell of fires past down the chimney flue and into the realm of my inclination towards procrastination.

Jimmy came and put the cover on the pool yesterday. I was swimming in it four days ago, in the rain, after a hard day working, although right now I can't imagine I've ever worked or will ever work again. Forget about swimming for now. It might as well be winter.

Honestly, I don't even know what day it is, but it's probably Tuesday.

I'm reading a novel by Murakami in my spare time. It seems as though I will complete it which we ( meaning me me me) hope will signal the beginning of a new passion for reading, a thing dormant for some time now.
- jimlouis 9-21-2004 6:35 pm [link] [4 comments]

Emails From NOLA
Headlines in the metro section of the Washington Post transport me back to my former home city, New Orleans, where the Times Picayune could be counted on to report not every violent crime, god forbid, but a good sampling.

In DC this year the murder rate is down 26% and the District is expecting its lowest total murder count in over 20 years.

Today's Post headline--Four Hit in SE Drive-by Shooting--is testament to at least the pertinent statistic that while perhaps murderous intent is not down by any significant amount, the aiming ability of those now with guns is not what it was in previous years. Those four hit in the SE drive-by shooting, including the 4-year-old boy, can be grateful for this.

I had often complained that a (specially trained, compassionately conservative?) National Guard should have been brought into New Orleans to assist in the curbing of violent crime but it hasn't happened there yet. In DC's tony Dupont Circle neighborhood a waiter was shot dead after a botched robbery recently and the Guard was brought in for a few days after that. That's a NW neighborhood. In the SE (in DC, synonymous with poor urban ethnic neighborhood) the people are still waiting for the Guard to show up.

So, the nerve of that upstart VPresidential wannabe to suggest that there are two Americas, one for the rich and one for everyone else.

Now I would like to share a personal email or two I received yesterday from New Orleans:


i left a message on your cellphone about keys to your house. a kid had them, but they've been returned. so, nothing to worry about. mario is getting better. whoever shot him didn't have much ability to aim. let me know if there's anything you want me to do about your house.


I responded--who shot Mario and why?


mario doesn't know who shot him. he was on his porch in the next block at 3am waiting for kevin (new kid) to bring home popeye's chicken from where they both work. a 4X4 drove up and some guys asked him for cocaine. mario said he didn't use and didn't sell. then somebody in the car started shooting him. he's in ICU about to be moved to a regular room. i've seen him every day. he's grumpy and high on morphine, but he'll live.

- jimlouis 9-01-2004 6:31 pm [link] [2 comments]

Mr. BC's Cartoon Bubble
I've got some music digitally stored on a hard drive and I queued up onto Winamp the jazz folder last night about six, started it playing and this morning it's on song number 46, out of almost 7000 selections, so I don't know who that is playing right now but safe to say, alphabetically, it could not be anyone much beyond (or even up to) Art Blakey.

I have considered putting a couple of small claymore mines outside my bedroom door, which I keep closed as a preventive measure to waking up with a cat wrapped around my face. All the other doors are open, entry door wide open, screenless, come on in, shop around while I sleep. I leave a light on so you can see everything, sparse though it is.

A man who would even consider blowing up to bits a harmless feline is really no man at all, but I don't need an alarm clock, and this is what I would be conveying to Herman in all his puffy grandeur by blowing him to smithereens. Scratching outside my bedroom door every morning to remind me that he likes his breakfast early is not only not cute but damned annoying. I resist yelling at him because that only feeds the awareness of everyone involved. But eventually, every morning, I do say in conversational tone, shut up Herman, and that makes him so happy he flops down on the hardwood hallway and purrs to vibrate the whole house.

A remote control trap door leading down to sharpened bamboo spikes would be effective as well. Although messy. And who would I afterwards play kung-fu warrior with, assuming I'm not into feline-necrophilia?

Waiting for a little bit of this fog to burn off before I get on that fence this morning. No really Mr. BC, I'm not milking that fence job beyond all reasonable proportion. It's just that, in case you weren't aware, I was promoted to chief-assistant pool boy, and gardener's apprentice first class this year, so my responsibilities out here are many layered. As to that little cartoon bubble above your head with the innuendo-laden caption inside I would only remind you that it was at your moderately insistent prodding that I began to socially re-engage with other humans this year and so whatever little time that is taking from my duties, I can only imagine is much to your satisfaction.
- jimlouis 8-26-2004 5:30 pm [link] [4 comments]

Focussed Smashing
I had a stomache ache most of last week and considered the possibility that some of the locals might be poisoning me as part of a larger Munchhausen by Proxy scheme. A fair part of last week I was power sanding old paint off partially rotted fence boards and so I also considered that while a few select locals might be poisoning me, I might too be poisoning myself by breathing funky old powderized shit seeping in under the dust mask.

Some locals said there was something going around effecting people similarly, stomache aches all around, so at that point it came to me that either this local Munchhausen conspiracy is bigger than I thought, or, I just got a run of the mill tummy-ache, which as you well know is caused by the conspiracy between the airlines and the drug companies who are splitting the profit created by all the upset stomache medicine that is sold as a result of the airlines dusting the skies with mild poisons.

These ideas are part of my general day to day brainstorming sessions which occur while I'm working in the hot sun with a stomache ache. If you knew what the gentle breeze on my right shoulder felt like right now you would say--hot?! boy you don't know hot...and you would go on with some tale that would exceed any possibility I could ever experience, but you'd have to be in the deep south to be saying it so, god bless you for surviving all that.

I'm letting details overwhelm me again so I'm trying to get in touch with that, you know, work it out, become all that I can be by eliminating ridiculous bullshit from my path. Pretty obviously the most ridiculous shit in my path is me so get out of my way me.

Yeah I got more senseless prattle, like you had to ask?

Hammering nails with a hammer that moves along arcs parallel to the ground is hard if you forget the primary tenet regarding success for any venture--keep your eye on the ball, or in this case the head of the nail which you are intending to smash into the wood with brute strength and only moderate finesse. Focus, smash. Focus, smash. Focus, smash.

If jealous nearly ex-husbands of persons you are only friendly with drive by--try to look menacing and smash some more, don't forget to focus.
- jimlouis 8-24-2004 9:25 pm [link] [2 comments]

A Love Story
I was talking to the chef last night about New Orleans and he's got a bunch of stuff stuck in his head about it too, remembering kids with guns jacking him outside a nightclub and how they all parted cordially when he admitted to spending all his money at the bar and how when he said he was all fucked up the kids said, yeah, that they were too.

He used to lend his football to this kid in his neighborhood and one day the kid came back with a gash on his cheek from fighting off these other kids who wanted the ball.

I was telling the chef about an email I got this week from my friend still in New Orleans. She said these two murderers we know are back from their exile in California, and one of them has three times this week threatened with a gun one of her boarders, a near college graduate, a young man very close to escaping the street that swallows whole so many others.

The chef told me when he left he bought the kid a new leather football and said encouragingly that he hoped to see the kid on TV playing pro football someday and the kid looked at him first like he a damn fool and then took pity on the chef and his naivete and said sure, maybe that would happen. The chef was trying to describe something that you can't even cry away. That something that sticks. That briefest of moments when you really do see in someone's eyes the soul of them, their very essence of being, and it speaks only of despair past and forward.

I told him of this teenage girl I knew who lived around the corner in the projects and how beautiful and confident and smart she was and how I naively suggested to her one day that she would escape the city that care forgot and she said matter of factly that she would never get out of there. She had a baby last year at sixteen and I'm sure the kid will know, among other things, much love.
- jimlouis 8-13-2004 5:49 pm [link] [1 comment]

Did Jesus Recycle?
You toss down into this 200 foot long rectangular pit all your household garbage and when you're not looking some guys with machinery come and scoop it out and take it somewhere else.

Across from the pit is one big container, like a boxcar without wheels, open at the butt end, and into this big container people stack or throw their newspapers and by looking at those newpapers you sometimes feel the whole weight of it, the folly of printed expression multiplied by all the tons of recycled and mostly unread paper.

Next to the container are dumpsters, one each for plastic, green glass, brown glass, clear glass, and aluminum cans.

Once, a long while back, I had a couple sections of newspaper in the floorboard of my truck and I just tossed them into the trash pit. This local guy admonished me and I felt stupid, not only for my ecological lethargy but for not picking the guy up by his ears and tossing him into the refuse pit. At the time I was just relocated from the heart of a mean city and there in that city such an admonition by a well-intended citizen would have resulted in at least a return admonition such as--mind your own f-ing business, b-tch. (The person was a man but lucky for me the lexicon of my era allows me to use the B word for both sexes, and goddamn it, as well it should).

I'm going to admit now that I cut flowers and put them in vases and then enjoy the way they look and try not to feel too much like a girl because of it even though I'm sure being a girl is a fine thing but if I have to be one I want to be a lesbian. And the truth is I probably could not have picked the guy up by his ears because the guy was not short enough and I'm not sure how strong I am but safe to say I'm stronger than I look, which is to say I don't look all that strong, but the combination of not looking all that strong and picking flowers is a thing I don't want used against me. Or being a sexist pig, I don't want that used against me either.

I'm at this place I eat at a lot and as often as not I'm the only one there, not because the food sucks, but because I eat at off hours, and I'm standing behind this woman who is ordering at the counter but I have left a gap so that people (occasionally there are inexplicable rushes of customers) can pass and look at the prepared sandwiches in the glass counter.

And the guy comes in, only I don't recognize him because it's been months and months since the discarded newspaper incident. He pauses right before the gap, and let me say here I left plenty of room, room enough for a XXL kind of person. I'm up against the chips is what I'm saying, the wire rack is almost piercing my side (if you think I'm coming this far without a Jesus metaphor you are not only wrong for thinking it, you can go straight to hell.)

He pauses in front of me with a querulous look and I back imperceptibly further into the chips. I would have bled if I chose any more of a backward direction.

He speaks to me in a tone both concilliatory and reprimanding and as if he were speaking a foreign tongue I just looked at him, giving him a brief instant in which to consider the possibility that I may be without the sense of hearing, or, an actual foreigner who does not speak a lick of the local dialect, and will soon be pointing at the menu on the wall and hesitantly counting out the funny looking currency in his pocket.

The guy is starting to look--or at least sound--somewhat familiar to me and I finally get what he is saying. I am improperly queued. I should be wrapping towards the glass sandwich case instead of straight behind the one other customer but I'm not sure if this is what he's saying or for that matter why the hell he is talking to me at all.

The only unsolicited words I want to hear from other human beings are these: I love you, would you like another sandwich?, and, save room for dessert.

So I just asked the guy (by now he has occupied my space longer than I like for a guy to), are you asking me if I know what I'm doing, or what? And he says yes more or less and gives me some instructions which I'm simply ignoring and I say yeah mane, I'm just waiting to order, I don't need to look at the sandwiches, I'm having lasagna. He moves on towards the sandwich case finally, looking like a holy roller who has just failed at converting another lost soul (mind your own f-ing soul, bitch) and I say ( Not knowing why I am saying it, I feel like a man who has lost all context) "we can co-exist peacefully,"

But then, and now, I'm not sure if that is true. There's only a few of us living around here. I'll see him again I guess. See how that theorem proves out.
- jimlouis 8-12-2004 5:22 pm [link] [1 comment]

Email Pusher
Ok, first, just a reminder--I am not in New Orleans anymore, I have moved to Virginia. As to why I haven't changed my page, made up a new name, or at least changed that damn picture of the feral New Orleans cat, Shorty, I can't say, or maybe I can, but won't.

With this page I can go to what is called a referer
(<World-Wide Web> A misspelling of "referrer" which somehow made it into the HTTP standard. A given web page's
referer (sic) is the URL of whatever web page contains the
link that the user followed to the current page. Most
browsers pass this information as part of a request.
) log and see how many people have had this page come up on the list that any given search engine might provide for things the searcher is searching for.

I used to write more about some people in the urban New Orleans ghetto and some of these people referred to themselves by using the N word and this I would report. At the same time I used to work with rednecks that used the N word pretty frequently and this I would also sometimes report. I say "sometimes report" because frankly I think there may have been stretches that lasted for weeks where I heard the word everyday and I just could not report this because it was beginning to hurt my feelings in a way that had some of the elements of hopelessness.

One day I got curious what would happen if I googled the word, the word is "nigger," if you didn't know, and my page came up number one (it was a horrifying moment), and from then on I tried to use the word less because, not in all cases, but in many cases, I don't want to mingle with people who search for the N word.

I was going to write about this anal compulsive Virginia dickhead I ran into for the second time but it seems I've gotten sidetracked.

Anyway, I just checked my referer (sic) log and to whomever searched for "email addresses of New Orleans pushers" I can only tell you I don't have any. I mean, I left my email address with some of the lads on the street but I haven't heard from them. With varying frequency I check the Times Picayune online to see if any of the lads have been murdered. That some of them have been on the other side of the gun, this I already know. Which I report to you as warning because I'm getting ready to give you not email addresses but actual street addresses so that you can meet in person that which you seemingly hoped to meet in cyberspace.

Stand on the southeast corner of Dumaine and Rampart. Lean against that building for a minute. Smoke a cigarette. If you don't smoke, you should start. Look in the windows of that building. It is a fancy restaurant, the last bit of fancy you shall see. Walk north, zig-zag easterly north-easterly through Armstrong Park, exit the east side onto St. Philip, continue north into the Treme neighborhood, cross Claiborne (overpass) and continue north for several more blocks. You should roughly be in the 1800 block of St. Philip. Or you can be on one of parallel streets like Ursulines or Dumaine or St. Ann. From there walk north, east, or west for twenty blocks or more and if you don't find the pusher you're looking for then my condolences to your family and may you RIP.
- jimlouis 8-09-2004 5:54 pm [link] [3 comments]

Caretaker's Wave
I am on the verge of missing this wave.

I got some chores to do. Everytime I pause I think of a new one.

Put the masterbedroom back together from last week's painting of it, vacuum a bit, blow off the sidewalks, cut some flowers, do the dishes (let me start that right now), brush my hair (done), move the sprinkler around the tennis court, check the pool, lock the pool fence, pick up dead limbs around the house, take the key out of the jeep, gather up all the different colored beer bottles from both houses and separate them by color for recycling bins at dump, haul trash to dump, vacuum up minute broken glass bits from upstairs bathroom floor, and remove broken picture.

This is starting to seem like a lot, and maybe I won't have enough time to accomplish all this before the owner's show up.

Ok, I just moved the sprinkler, and the pool I already did earlier, so...but...

...have to lay board across hay and seeded entrance to tennis court so no mud tracked on it. Telepathically communicate with approaching children of owner not to walk through wet hay, ha.

By the way, it's 62 degrees and sunny, in August, so it's not like I'm complaining, even though you aren't really inclined to swim when it's this cool, which isn't a complaint, I'm just saying.

So as it turns out I probably should have missed this wave.
- jimlouis 8-07-2004 5:20 pm [link] [add a comment]

The Folly Of Backspin
Yeh-uh, it was on impulse that I drove along the fence line in search of knowledge regarding fences. I was on my way to take a shower and I thought--I'll just drive my truck where I've never driven it before, look at fence, ruminate, and then go back to the house and clean up so I'll be fresh for the evening's beer drinking. I might have thought that I would be wiser for this experience, a wise old beer drinking fool, scratching his chin and chuckling about all the tidbits of wisdom floating around in his skull.

One might occasionally ruminate before doing stupid things, reconsider motivation, and finding none, abort mission.

I however don't always aspire to avoiding stupidity.

Off the path I saw standing water, drove just beyond it and to an elevation lower than it and turned in its direction. This I did to avoid getting stuck in the mud. I drove into a soggy bog to avoid getting stuck in the mud. And what I discovered was something wonderful, a world of untold mystery unfolded before my eyes; it was a magical time encapsulated inside a few ticking seconds; my heart beat wildly as I gazed upon the profile of her fulsome breasts (they say a man has a sexual fantasy every fifteen seconds).

But my fantasy was just a brief prelude to self-degrading, vitriolic, profane self-abuse. I cussed myself. You stupid f-ing d-head.

I walked to the top of the hill where the vaguely eastern-european day helper was sweeping the porch and I said, come on son, we got work to do, and I briefly described the predicament, telling him we would use the little jeep and try to pull the truck from the mud. You will try to use little jeep for this purpose? the vaguely eastern-european day helper said and I just grunted back, yeh-uh.

The little jeep has mostly been considered a toy for ferrying about the property visiting dignataries and it was a long shot to consider that it would have the strength to pull a medium sized truck stuck, or unstuck, in mud. With the broken-english-speaking vaguely eastern-european day helper driving the jeep and me behind the wheel of the truck and a tow rope between us, we conspired to extricate.

This proved to be a successful venture followed by me feeling so much the wiser. I showered but decided not to shave so there would be a few gray beard hairs to scratch that evening while I drank my beers.

The vaguely eastern european day helper said, now we play bocce? Sure kid, I said, and proceeded to school him regarding the folly of affected backspin.
- jimlouis 8-06-2004 5:05 pm [link] [9 comments]

Cute Furry Rodent
It is an ongoing battle in which I climb up this hill imagining every morning the hideous beasts from nightmares caught in the frail store-bought snare only to be confronted with mostly empty traps licked clean of the peanut butter enticement.

And when not empty the captured beast turns out to be a little country mouse. You've seen the cartoons which depict the differences between the smart-talking, wily, city mouse and the barefoot, simple-minded country mouse. I know you have.

Except that the country mice out here are naked. I mean they are not wearing suspendered dungareees, sporting straw hats, or clenching between their dead jaws, a corncob pipe.

The score, not that this is a battle with a clear sense of winner and loser, is something like 14-3, in favor of the mice. Of course the 3 equals dead mice and the 14 is just a dab of licked clean peanut butter from an unsprung store-bought mouse trap. So clearly, the stakes are a little higher for rodents around here.

I have tried two slightly different versions of the standard, snap-your-neck mouse trap with equally unpredictable results. I sense there to be a master mouse who goes as yet untrapped, who may in fact be luring his lesser foot soldiers into scenarios of guaranteed expiration. It is the sense of this master mouse which has me peeking with clenched teeth into this kitchen every morning, expecting something horrific, like one of those modern experiments gone awry. Not just a mouse with a human ear growing from its side but maybe a miniature human head, that looks like Dick Cheney but speaks like George Bush and smokes cigarettes, like Laura.

But no, not yet. The three dead ones have all been cute--grey, furry, petite, non-threatening even in their horrific poses of surprise demise.

Nothing caught this morning. Score 16-3.
- jimlouis 8-02-2004 4:19 pm [link] [5 comments]

Ten Times Better Or Worse
Where you start from is important. I was in a bar for dinner last night and four of us were positioned such that we could have been friends if in fact we were not complete strangers. Three men, one woman. The woman was drinking beer and an occasional novelty drink that disparaged the nationality responsible for most of my favorite alcohol drinks.

The man on my right soon bowed out after the man on my left started making nice with the woman across from me.

The man on my left was the alpha-male and down about the bottom of stout number one I become the fly on the wall instead of a human being. He and she exchanged enthusiasms about the mundane and I thought but for the grace of self-consciousness go I.

After the man and woman came down from the initial exhilaration of "hey, look at us talking like old friends" the man went into an apparently non-exhaustive litany of have you been to this bar or that bar and the woman for the most part, hadn't.

The bartender brought my burger and with apparent sincerity said doesn't that look good, and it did look good, in fact it looked much better than it tasted.

The bartender says Ricky Williams quit football to smoke pot and I said oh give the guy a break, that's too much an over-simplification. I have never been a huge RW fan but I like him for being a quitter, laying on beaches around the world, being nice to his kids, contributing to communities and saying FU to a sport that given its own natural order would have chewed him up and spit him out.

The woman across from me I knew from listening had a kid and when she said don't you think he has a responsibility to sports-loving children not to promote pot-smoking I realized a chance to make points by saying yes but I said no, I don't think he has that responsibility.

The alpha-male was acting all dumb like he didn't know what was going on and I could only suppose he did not follow football so I queried him on this and he got a little snippy, like of course I follow football, I'm a beer drinking alpha-male. I filled him in on the specifics. He got rolling and a little steamy and red in the face and said don't you think maybe he's just looking for press coverage so he can promote his lifestyle and make more money...and I'm like, no I don't think that, and he gets a little more steamed and I say hey chill mane, and he says all Mr. America now, that he doesn't know anything about pot and I say well it ain't nothin, I can school ya if you like. This got a chuckle from the woman and a hand-waving, head-shaking, no, no, no, from the alpha-male.

So Ricky Williams has personality disorders. So he likes pot. So he has personal experience which allows him to compare the prescription anti-depression drug, Paxil, to marijuana, and proclaim that the weed is tens times better for him. Your kids will get over this.

The bartender also thought Ricky had responsiblity to the kids, not to be a pot-smoking drop-out. It's not that every once in awhile you should consider that everything you know is wrong, you should consider it every morning.
- jimlouis 7-30-2004 4:29 pm [link] [2 comments]

BigHouse Mouse
I have set up these gadgets two nights in a row. The way these gadgets work is you spread a little bait, I use peanut butter, on a metallic part that is connected to a metal arm that holds in check this spring mechanized noninvasive guillotine arm that actually works more like a catapult from hell, and when working properly, will snap almost in two the neck of the rodent in your kitchen. Sometimes it gets him by the tail and you have to chase the panicked clacking around the house for awhile before your work is done.

But I come up here in the morning from my mouseless, cat-occupied dwelling down the hill and the metal part is licked clean of peanut butter and the trap is unsprung.

I could bring the cat up here (even though the owners don't really want cats up in here) and set him loose hoping he still has a bit of the hunter spirit. Though it may be that the only thing he is hunting at this point in his life is time. The time when I pour his kibbles into a bowl in the morning. Or the time at night when I play kung fu warrior with him.

Alas, this is the nature of what I now consider travail, the unsprung trap, a mild (frankly non-existent) resentment towards the well-fed mouse, so let it all be considered fine and good.
- jimlouis 7-28-2004 4:36 pm [link] [6 comments]

F Me
I'm down by the road in front of a palatial estate power sanding fence and drinking beer in the early evening and people drive by and wave but I can't see them that well because my goggles are fogged over and paint chips are stuck to the fog so for all I know the people may be shooting me the finger.

The bus driver stopped by earlier and asked me if I was the owner, which was a nice opening because then after he left I imagined myself the owner for a few minutes and it wasn't all bad. I am replacing rotted fence rails (and sanding and painting) and he wanted to know what I was doing with the discarded boards, (rough sawn oak 1X6s), and I told him they go to the burn pile. He wanted some because he thought there was some good wood in there and who am I to argue that? I told him to stop by sometime, he can have all the burn pile fence material he wants. His talking to me on the road was backing up traffic and after realizing this he moseyed on. The one held up car crept behind him. She did not wave but may have shot me the finger.

Some people that pass by know me but I don't always know them. "I saw you out front," people will occasionally say and I stock-response them with, "oh, that was you.?"

Nobody ever extends out to me an ice cold beer on a warm summer night.

The Beatles were a very popular group and many of their songs are very short, and sincere. So this is me being short and sincere. My motivation is not to be popular. I'd just as soon you shot me the finger.
- jimlouis 7-23-2004 3:53 pm [link] [add a comment]