Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Rotten Luck

Jim, my brother Bob's best friend, who had hoped to join the SEALS but whose ambitions in that regard were quashed by his ex-hippie parents [who were horrified that their son might want to learn to be a covert military operations specialist], has suffered an unexpected setback on his way to becoming a Naval Medical Officer (to which profession his parents reluctantly gave their consent after much campaigning on his part).

He's guilty of a Federal Crime.

Last year on a camping trip to Yellowstone, he left a snackfood wrapper exposed where a ranger could see it and was cited for "improper food storage." Since Yellowstone's a national park, the citation counts as a Federal Offence, and people who have such blemishes on their records are not allowed to join the Navy.

So Jim's got to find out how that issue can be cleared up before he can be sworn in. Just think, an entire military/medical career could be derailed because of an errant candywrapper.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Wonderful News!

I just got an email from a dear friend now living in Iowa that she is engaged to be married! She's been on my prayer list for this reason for a couple of years, ever since we became friends when we were both living in St. Petersburg, Russia. She's a kindred spirit, always an encouragement, and I am delighted that she's met the right guy--she knew she was supposed to move to Iowa after she'd returned from Russia to her parents' home in Colorado and a job and a housing situation opened up in Des Moines. Although she's got no great love for the midwest, she prayed about it, and the pieces just fell into place. She'd gotten to know this fellow in her church almost as soon as she moved to town, but they didn't start dating until recently, and then, again, things "clicked." I am looking forward to meeting him--thus far, all of my friends have married really goodhearted, solid guys, and so instead of losing a friend to matrimony, I have actually gained another.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Legal Conundrum

Since it is against the law to deface federal property, and particularly federal property which is part of the Capitol Hill complex, and the Ten Commandments were inscribed on the wall of the Supreme Court courtroom when the building was constructed in the early 1900s, and since the Supreme Court has today made the utterly idiotic and frankly criminal decision that the Ten Commandments (which do not endorse any particular religion, in accordance with the non-establishment clause in the Bill of Rights, which is constitutional, not the so-called "separation of church and state" notion which is not in any of the public founding documents of our nation) are not allowed to be displayed inside federal courthouses, what on earth are they going to do about the aforementioned "illegal" commandments in their own courthouse, which they can in no way legally remove?

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Belated Post--Success and Setbacks

OK, I haven't posted in a week. It's been a hectic six days. I was up all night Thursday, slept for two hours before finished packing and flying back to DC, having UPS'ed the 38 face tiles that I'd spent the whole night glazing since they didn't fit in my already overstuffed luggage. I've cleaned my room, trashed a bunch of things I was keeping for no good reason, and consigned my old desk. I went shopping and got some cute Sunday dresses (on sale!) at Talbots--thanks Mums and Daddy!! I found my brother an apartment and helped him get all the paperwork in order for it, and resolved to lose 10 pounds or make the extra ten I have count in terms of muscle rather than flab. Yesterday, I got yet another "rejection because of insufficient paperwork" letter from the Feds--and yes, I did email them the form they were talking about, they'd just lost it! (My sister says that these repeated rejections are God telling me, don't work for the government!) And today I sold more than I ever have at the Georgetown Market, and was promoted to permanent vendor, with a reserved spot. Sweet. It was awfully hot out there today, but I had my tent up, and so it was bearable. I sold 2 face tiles, a lizard pot, and some necklaces that had almost started to gather dust, they'd been on display for so long--boy was I glad to see those go! And of course I sold pair after pair of earrings. People gushed about my stuff--"Now that I know you're here, I'll be back! I can only buy one pair today, but I'm going to bring more money next Saturday!" etc. I like it when people buy and gush. People who just gush aren't good for the pocketbook, but people who rave over my stuff and buy oftentimes become repeat customers.

Personal interaction is a big part of my enjoyment of being a vendor. I met some neat folks today--a writer who is working on her second book and trying to find an agent; a federal worker whose Jewish maternal grandfather came from a village 25 miles northwest of Moscow and used to confuse "v" and "w" sounds--he was 87 when he died in 1980; a woman from New Jersey who is decorating her bathroom in faces (she bought the two face tiles); an independent consultant who sells matted advertisements from old magazines on the weekends, who got involved in the market because he wanted to find something his mother-in-law (who is from Colombia) could participate in. Of course, the income is another benefit!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Sculpture and Charleston Excursion

The mirror may have had two, Eve three, and Lon Chaney a thousand, but at present I have about 26 faces, excluding the one I was born with. This is a sort of Pygmalionamania, I think, since the faces are in the form of small tile sculptures I've made of clay. Some are grotesque, some handsome, and all are designed to be saleable--for between $20 and $25 apiece. I have had specific requests for blue faces, so I plan to glaze some that color. It's taken me about 11 hours to make all of them.

Last night, after some research among our fellow customers by the bouncy waitress, I settled on merlot as the perfect complement to my ham, pineapple and cheese pizza. While waiting for our meal, Bob lounged silently on the green vinyl seat across from me, and I scribbled down notes about the day's doings on the back of a furniture consignment receipt I dug out of my overloaded purse. The two of us were in a Greek restaurant in Columbia, SC, where we'd stopped for dinner on our way back from Charleston, where Bob's to be posted in August. We'd taken a day-trip over from GA in order to scout out the Goose Creek area and to find a place for him to live. Despite a cold that made me feel (and my voice sound) like hot asphalt had been poured down my throat and solidified into rough chunks somewhere south of my vocal cords, I decided to read Dicken's David Copperfield aloud while Bob drove the three hours from Augusta--he'd been exposed to the worst of Dickens (Great Expectations), and I wanted to give him a sample of the best.

We parked on King Street, near Saks Fifth Avenue, and loaded the meter while clusters of gilded girls in short flirty skirts and expensive sandals strolled past, shopping. We lunched at an uninspired seafood place where the men's and women's bathrooms were labeled "He Crabs" and "She Crabs" (which I hoped did not refer to the germs on the toilet seats), and a lethargic waiter stumped over to lay our drinks and food on the sticky table and then vanished for the duration. Pooling our change after the meal, we treated ourselves to mint chocolate chip ice cream in waffle cones at a nearby sweetery and made it back to the truck with one minute to spare on the meter. Then it was time to head to the Visitor's Center for apartment brochures and thence westward toward the naval base and the presumed numerous rental housing options in that neighborhood.

Hanahan, North Charleston, and Goose Creek proper are not on the beaten path of the tourists who enjoy the coast. Bad Boy'z Bail Bonds was but one vivid establishment we passed on our rounds--we'd turned at the Home for Aged Presbyterians on our way out of Charleston proper. In one neighborhood, the predominant form of decoration seemed to be large ceramic figurines in bay windows: one house had a gigantic pair of plaster Dobermans perched on the sill. In another, a pokey little dwelling with wooden steps leading from the ground to the second floor in a misguided attempt to appear palacial added to its front yard architectural offenses a pair of freestanding monumental iron gates coupled with a baronial castle-sized concrete fountain. A dozen houses down the same street, another homeowner indulged his passion for giraffes in the form of four-foot-high bronze abstract conceptions of that animal stuck by his driveway. The man who was being handcuffed by a motorcycle cop at the entrance to the subdivision just added to the ambiance.

We eventually found a couple of apartment complexes well away from the "Shady Lady Lounge" and close to a Target and T.J. Maxx. The slightly higher rent seemed worthwhile, given the upscale development in the area. Bob and I were much relieved.

Getting gas between Charleston and Columbia proved to be an experience in and of itself. About ten miles east of Holly Hill, SC, we pulled into a lone service station where we also decided to use the facilities. Inside, about seven unkempt-looking white guys were seated, smoking and drinking beer at two cafeteria-style tables--but there was no restaurant. In the women's restroom, which was a single room with one toilet, there was a full-sized old-fashioned padded doctor's examining table, a cigarette-burned piece of furniture a good six by three feet and three high--I suppose it was meant as a changing table, but given its dimensions a person could have changed two incontinent grownups on it, in addition to an infant. Bob reported that in the men's restroom, the plumbing was chained to the wall. It was a decidedly wierd place.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Batman Begins--Finally!

Saw Batman Begins this afternoon. Best movie I've seen all year, hands down, bar none. Good acting, snappy and quotable dialogue, excellent visuals, clear understanding of the dynamics of justice and revenge, exciting action sequences, and of course, cool gizmos. The Batmobile alone was worth the price of admission.

Christian Bale did an super job switching back and forth between his dual personas, Michael Caine as the butler was delicious, and Morgan Freeman matched villany with technological tinkering and a nice sense of understated irony--and this talented trio was joined onscreen by Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman and Rutger Hauer, among others. And shock of shocks, there is no bad language and no sex, just solid references to the value of redemption and the importance of good men doing something to stem the tide of evil.

Many of the outstanding movies--that is, the most morally and spiritually solid, with a good, engrossing story, fine acting, and solid integration of special effects--of late have been adaptations of fifty and seventy-five year old comic book fare (X-Men, Spiderman, Batman, etc.). What's up with this?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Add another to my father's astounding litany of lifetime injuries:

Broken neck (twice)
Fractured collarbone
Broken arm
Broken wrist
Fractured hip
Collapsed lung (both, each within a day of the other)
Cut side (three-inch slash)
Broken finger
Sliced finger(s)

--Needle puncture. Last night, while juggling three syringes in the OB ward, my father drove one all the way through the small finger on his left hand. Thankfully, the needle was clean, and he didn't hit the pinkie nerve. My brother reports that this is actually the second of two spectacular punctures Daddy has accidentally inflicted on himself. A few years ago, he was shoving a syringe into his breast pocket when the cap came off and he pushed the needle straight into his chest, up to the hilt. Again, thank God the needle was clean.

Punctures of a less radical nature are commonplace in health care work, and quite a few are not so sanguine--AIDS can be transmitted from infected patient to caring provider by a tiny pin-prick from a used syringe, and it's just one of many serious viral risks on the job. Please express your gratitude to the doctors you know for their persisting in their much-needed profession, needles and all! [And yes, my father does give good intentional (!) injections to his patients--when he's given me inoculations, they were almost wholly painless, which if you have to have a needle shoved into your anatomy, is how you want them to be.]

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Sore Toe

Returned from Pensacola via Atlanta Friday afternoon and yesterday. Newly-commissioned brother Bob (second in his honor class, so his role in the graduation parade involved him shouting out orders to three platoons and striding around masterfully carrying a sword) and I spent Friday night with our Atlanta brother and sister-in-law. They have wrought impressive transformations in their formerly disastrous-looking old house. The bathroom now has a slate floor, an expanded sink and cabinet area, and nice fixtures, a dramatic difference from the rotten floor and cramped environs of the original.

Bob and I went to see Cinderella Man last night. A good movie, as Ron Howard's almost always are. Only objection was the repeated use of the name "Jesus" as a expression of frustration, amazement and so forth by Braddock's otherwise thoroughly likeable promoter.

I plan to sell my old desk, and in the process of moving it out of my room before church this morning, I dropped the heavy end on my right big toe. More than 40 pounds of wood squashed it. It still throbs, and the skin is turning black underneath the nail. Sore thumbs ain't got anything on sore toes.

Thursday, June 09, 2005


I covet the pervasive sense of order and purpose embodied by the U.S. Navy. We went onto the Air Station in Pensacola this afternoon to watch the change of command responsibility ceremony between the OCS classes, and then this afternoon for the "Hi Moms" reception at the Naval Aviation Museum. Granddaddy is just thrilled that my little brother has "followed in his footsteps" and become a sailor--Granddaddy served in the Navy from 1936-1947, and saw action in the Battles of Coral Sea and Midway, helped land Marines on Guadacanal, and had many more wartime adventures in the Pacific and North Atlantic.

Please pray that I sense where God wants me--months ago, I talked to Bob about his decision to sign up, and it was pretty clear that the Navy was where he was supposed to go--and I would love to have similar confidence in my own career. And I would love to serve my country in a public capacity--none of this undercover sneaking around for me!--either as a public servant or a military person. I want, however, whatever I do, to have a sense of purpose in my undertakings, of discipline and dedication. Spiritually, I have a firm end in mind--I aim to (as the Westminster Catchecism so neatly puts it) "Glorify God and enjoy Him forever"--but secularly, I am flopping around like a fish out of water. And as yet, despite my going forward (to declare my willingness to serve) at the recent missionary conference at my home church, I do not have any clear sense of being called as a formal missionary to "furrin parts."

Can one be a missionary in the Marines?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

As Long As Old Women Sit and Talk...

I’m here at my maternal great aunt’s in Florida, spending one night prior to driving a final two hours to Pensacola Naval Air Station to watch my sweet brother Bob yell at other members of his Officer Candidate Class during their graduation ceremony.

An acquaintance of my aunt’s came over about an hour after the four of us (my mother, my grandparents and me) swam into her carport during a torrential thunderstorm. She was a half-bald old woman with a strident voice and brightly-painted claws. When she seized my arm at the end of her visit, I winced and thought, “The eagle has landed!”

My aunt puts up with this woman only because she owes her her life—a year ago, when she was a breast-cancer stricken widow of 86, my aunt half-fell out of her car in her driveway and was caught in her seatbelt and dragged. Her left arm was ripped to shreds, three ribs were broken, and her right foot was broken. Over the course of an hour, she managed to crawl into her house (which is out in the country—there aren’t any neighbors within shouting distance) and hit the speed-dial for this woman, who rushed over and called 911, an action that saved my aunt from bleeding to death. But still they are not what you would call close.

This woman is the sort who knows everybody, and is known by everybody, but is friends with nobody because of her generally grating personality. She's a good-hearted person, but not a kindred spirit. This afternoon, after harassing my longsuffering grandmother about the quilts that she had not brought to show off, she told us about her disappointing grandchildren, about bossing around her first husband, her nightly ritual of barricading herself in her house, and her fully-loaded .38 which she keeps in case of burglars. She lamented that one of her granddaughters will probably never marry, that she is “an old maid”—of 33! This and other close-to-home remarks made me squirm, and I escaped outdoors when the rain slowed, and then when it picked up again and I was forced back indoors, I deliberately steered the conversation into the safe waters of describing my siblings and their doings. The woman kept harping on Grandmommy’s quilts, and before she left she made us swear, painfully, that we would bring more to show her the next time we came.

After a plain old-fashioned supper this evening, my grandmother and her sister fell to reminiscing about their youth, particularly their experiences versus those of the young people of today: “They don’t know what “choppin’ cotton” means!” said my aunt. “Back then, if grass was growin’ in your yard, you got a hoe and dug it up!” noted Grandmommy, who described sweeping the yard with a brush broom and making attractive “wave” patterns in the dust.

The trials of childhood were also recounted by my aunt: “I was just four years old. Mama had me watch my baby sister and she kept cryin’ and cryin’ and I kept rockin’ and rockin’ and finally I got fed up and turned the cradle over, with the baby on the floor and the cradle over the top. Then I ran outside and hid under the front porch steps. Mama called me out and whipped me with a peach tree limb.”

My grandmother seemed to have suffered no ill effects from being so unceremoniously dumped out of her bed, and in fact retained somewhat pleasanter memories: “Mama could copy dresses just by looking at ‘em. We used to choose what we wanted out of the Sears Roebuck catalog, and Mama would make ‘em.”

“First time I ever had a store-bought dress was when I graduated from high school,” my aunt said, fondly remembering the lace at the neck and the purple of the cloth. “The dress was four dollars. Mama shook her head and said she just couldn’t afford it. Aunt Lois bought that dress for me.”

I said that each of them ought to tape-record these details for her family, since these were the stories that children wanted to hear, but they weren’t interested. But this reluctance didn’t dissuade my aunt from wading once more into the past when I seemed curious: “When I was in fourth grade I had to walk four miles to school, except when it was raining. A lot of time it was during ‘mad dog time’ and so Daddy made us carry a stick.”

Then she and my grandmother, sitting site-by-side in easy chairs while my grandfather dozed in a third and my mother read David McCullough’s 1776 on a nearby sofa, launched into swapping the current family news—marriages, infidelities, divorces and children to the third and fourth generation (they’d begun their visit sharing pictures of their new-minted great-grandchildren).

My aunt was wont to dwell on past hurts when present sins were mentioned, though, recalling the coldness with which her mother-in-law treated her: “His daddy gave me a hug, but even though we were married for 58 years, his mother never even touched me! His mother was an old maid when she got married. She was an old maid schoolteacher.”

Here I butted in—it was the second time in so many hours that one irksome phrase “an old maid” had cropped up, and I wanted clarification: “How old was that back then? 25?”

“She was in her 30s then.”


“Cause Jimmy Mathison was the oldest in his family and the first to get married—his mother hated me!” my aunt squawked, still irritated more than sixty years after the fact.

“She probably didn’t have it in for you so much as she didn’t want Jimmy to marry at all,” put in Grandmommy, the voice of reason.

Mind you that all of this complaint and comment and countercomment was being conducted in unmarred early-1900s Alabama accents, where “aunt” is “ain’t,” all “ings” turn to “in’s” and there is a rise and fall of emphasis throughout a phrase, not a single emphatic crescendo. It’s soothing to hear—an exchange as “down-home” as men sitting on the front porch of a general store in the middle of a hot Georgia day [yes, this can be seen in 2005—I saw such a person in such a place this morning], miles and miles of pecan [pronounced “pee-CAN” in this part of the country] orchards, weathered wooden shacks with rusty tin roofs sheltering farm equipment, and acres planted in rows of hardy little pinetrees—and particularly comforting to me, since it’s family talking about family.

I wonder whether I’ll live as long as they—my great-aunt is 87, my grandmother 82, and my granddaddy 88 (four times the age of his officer-candidate grandson)—and in 55 years whether I’ll be sitting beside my younger sister discussing how I’m one of the oldest people in my church, how so many of my friends have died, and how many years since this or that one passed, and what I’m not able to do anymore because of the encroachments of my advanced age. I certainly hope I’ll be in as good humor—and able to remember good times and rejoice in them—as Grandmommy now.

Monday, June 06, 2005

It's Not the Heat...

This morning's DC weather was an excellent example of the old saw "It's not the heat, it's the humidity." In an absolute measure, the temperature was not excessively high--perhaps in the mid-70s to low 80s. The atmosphere, however, was so heavy with moisture that everyone was sticky and covered with sweat within seconds of stepping outdoors. Visibility was down to some half a mile, and breathing required an effort--and gills. Buildings melted away in the haze, and entering an air conditioning building imparted a supernatural chill to the skin, like you had suddenly stepped into another world. [Susanna, who is sitting at my elbow as I type, suggests that I incorporate a reference to the York Peppermint Patty "feel the sensation!" slogan here]

I flew down to SC at midday, and was picked up by my mother in her new Toyota Highlander. Smooth, silent ride. We went directly to Target from the airport, where the temperature was 99 in the parking lot. It felt great. I was surprised when I read the themometer, it was so much more comfortable than the swamp up north.

Tomorrow, we're supposed to drive to middle GA to pick up my Grandparents, then continue on Wednesday via tiny two-lane roads down to the FL panhandle, to spend the night with my grandmother's widowed elder sister. Thursday, we're to arrive in Pensacola in sufficient time to check into our hotel and freshen up before going to the "Mothers' Evening" where we'll get to see Bob--all hoarse and skinny now, after twelve weeks of screaming (and being screamed at) and suffering from abbreviated mealtimes--for the first time since February. Early Friday morning, we attend his official graduation. Hopefully, Granddaddy's pinning the bars on his dress-whites-clad grandson will go off without a hitch.

In other news, rugby players are beginning to edge out soccer players in the cute bod contest. Details to come soon...

Friday, June 03, 2005

Construction, Conversation and Caffienation

Today I walked from home to Georgetown. Two grades—one from each of the year’s two semesters—have not yet been posted, and I wanted to see what was delaying this at the same time I requested (free!!!) copies of my official transcript for my job applications.

I stopped first at the Arlington post office—another book sold on Amazon needed to be dispatched—and then continued down towards Rosslyn and thence across the Key Bridge and to campus. Just past the dentist’s office, with its classic tooth-shaped wooden sign, the swift sigh and snap of nail guns, like the muffled popping of corn kernels in a covered skillet, became audible. Across the street, between masonry-block elevator shafts, blond floors were rising, the wood structure being assembled atop a poured concrete basement and parking garage.

Until about five years ago, most construction sites I’d walked past in my Georgia neighborhood were characterized by a number of common sights and sounds: sunburnt Anglo-Saxons seasoned with sawdust on their shoulders and hair, sweaty black men with bits of concrete and spackle stuck to their pants and old t-shirts, fat and skinny fellows carrying lumber and laying bricks, occasional bursts of conversation in English, two or three battered trucks pulled up along the curb, their windows down and buckets and orange power-cords jumbled in the backs. Usually, a small radio would be perched somewhere on a sawhorse or hung from a wall stud, loudly playing a popular rock or country station while the workers triple-tapped nails into on-site built frames with a hammer: two tentative strikes and then a final decisive blow which drove the head flush with the wood.

Now, in Virginia, most construction workers are Hispanic, short stocky men from many South American countries, all brisk business, rapidly assembling large buildings from pre-engineered pieces with quiet mechanized equipment. Though occasionally there will be a shout in Spanish, no loud music accompanies their labor, and the American flag on each giant crane flutters in the breeze as the machine swings silently around over their heads, bringing flats of composite floor joists or large slabs of facing stone into the center of the action.

On the Key Bridge two Secret Service Suburbans, their black grills twinkling with red and blue lights, zipped out of the District. This was less exciting than being overflown by the presidential helicopters on the way home from church Sunday, since I had no idea who was behind the heavily-tinted windows of the SUVs.

The Georgetown registrar’s office claimed ignorance of both grades, referring me to the professor in one case, and to the Dean of the Graduate School in the other. I called on both. The Dean I ended up emailing to explain my predicament. The professor claimed that she had submitted all the grades electronically “weeks and weeks ago” and seemed quite put-out that I would question this. I returned to the registrar’s. Further investigation found that not only did I not have a grade for the class in question, neither did anyone else. An irritated registrar’s associate dispatched an email to the professor.

On the Georgetown shuttle from the main campus to the Law Center (which is three blocks from Capital Hill, and so taking the shuttle and walking a bit saves me metro fare when I’m going over there on a weekday), I was the only passenger, and so I took the opportunity to get to know the bus driver, a gold-beringed black lady named Paula. She’s allergic to roses, but when she and her husband moved into their present house, she planted six rosebushes, since she loves flowers so. She used to get allergy shots, but had a nasty reaction to a dose once (she broke out in all-over hives in an elevator at the Library of Congress and had to run to the nurse’s station) and so hasn’t had an injection since. She has a large-screen TV in her bedroom, where she watches movies on cable. She likes thrift stores, flea markets and miscellany bazaars, and has a good eye for quality. And she inherited a malachite and sterling bracelet from her mother which she prizes (a friend said she saw an identical one on Antiques Roadshow which was valued at $2000), but doesn’t wear much, because the clasp is uncertain. A nice lady, Paula.

At the Library of Congress, a cadaverous fellow-patron waved angrily at me as I was setting up my computer—apparently the Main Reading Room has switched its laptop-permitted areas around again, and so I was ten feet out of the permitted space. I dutifully moved over the requisite amount and set up. I hoped, spitefully, that the sight of me comfortably typing just a stone’s throw away irritated the old Luddite turkey to no end.

Nate has acquired a Krups coffee machine, and offered to fix me an espresso this morning. “Hey—if you’re offering…” I drank it, and I didn’t get a headache! (I almost always get headaches from coffee; even though I do love it, I often avoid it for this reason.) Nate’s a coffee fiend. He noted, professionally, that the coffee grounds he used weren’t ideal for espresso, since they weren’t powder—“like cocaine—so fine you could snort it.” I remarked that it sounded as if he spoke from personal experience. This led to a story about his sole experience snorting anything—snuff. Well, he did go to the University of Virginia, so that’s appropriate to a Jeffersonian gentleman, I suppose. But now I have a vision of Sir Percy Blakeney tapping his little gold snuffbox and offering the unsuspecting Chauvelin a generous pinch of pepper.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Tom Cruise—the Next Michael Jackson?

Anyone who pays even fleeting attention to Hollywood notices pretty quickly that conventional behavior—as it is practiced by Americans (who knows what is normal elsewhere?)—is the exception rather than the rule in that rarified atmosphere of outsize egos, paychecks and breakdowns. Michael Jackson, with his forever-young cravings, is but one of the most flagrant examples of the common peculiarity. Whatever happens to that pale and surgically-mutilated creature, his place as the poster child for celebrity oddity will eventually be taken by yet another once-wildly-popular fallen star, who—though he may not be accompanied by umbrella-wielding flunkies like the sometimes-Masked-and-Gloved-One—will exhibit a whole range of behaviors which in a person less wealthy and photogenic (even in the horrific “Thriller Night” way of Jackson) would be considered grounds for social avoidance, if not outright ostracism.

I think now we are seeing an audition for Jackson’s role in the person and work of Tom Cruise. Putting it kindly, he’s a dangerous lunatic. Of late, he has been literally bouncing (on couches on Oprah) around like an excited gnome, shrieking about his affections for a girl a head taller than he and twenty years his junior (what are her parents thinking??), and his allegiance to the science fiction religion Scientology. This last mania puts all those much-derided character-dressing Star Wars fans in a most flattering light by comparison; they, at least, are not infamously insulting other public figures about their legitimate appreciation for modern medicine. Cruise is becoming pathetic, turning into a grinning, chattering simalcrum of his former talent, and if he continues in this vein much longer, his mask and glove will be handed to him from the anonymous crowd while paparazzi continue to click thousands of frames of his frantic mugging.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


I am absolutely sick. I spent hours writing little essays for job applications yesterday, and sent the apps off, only to discover I hadn't saved the essays on my computer. They were good, too, and I wrote them carefully so that I wouldn't have to write them over and over for successive applications that asked the same questions.

I also spent $40 on transcripts. I hope the idiot(s) who decided that the University of South Carolina would charge $8 a pop for transcripts suffer from ulcers, corns and parking tickets. I applied for five jobs, each required a transcript copy as part of the preliminary application. So it's probably $40 up a wild hogs whatsit, with no guarantee that the transcripts will even arrive in time (they say to expect "processing delays" at the USC registrar's office!). I am really upset. But there's not a bloody thing I can do about this or the vanished essays.

Bible Study was good last night--we finished up Phillipians. On to Colossians. One lady there told a couple of hysterical vignettes about disastrous dates--from one guy who timed their meal and wouldn't go over an hour (concurrent with the time in the parking meter outside), to another who presented her with a neat oral list of the physical and behavioral characteristics of women he was attracted to--none of which she fit. I wish she would write a book--we were all in stitches.