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So a few days ago I finished up work on a commission to write the "book" for a musical, and boy, am I ever glad it's over. The idea for the musical (which at the moment, I won't share, 'cuz the producers would probably consider it proprietary) is pretty great, but the preexisting book and score they gave us to "improve" were dismal; and while they wanted changes, they did not want a complete start from scratch, so now we're left with a damnable compromise between great potential and preexisting mediocrity. Anyhow, I'm out of it, as I said, (Yippee!), And now I'm simply waiting for my final check, which may or may not come— such is show biz.

The upshot is that I can start applying the same discipline I've been using to complete the musical book on a more interesting-- though also probably more pointless project-- my efforts to write an hour-long 'spec' TV show pilot. Being the primary caregiver for my year-old son doesn"t give me much time for writing, or anything else. (Even as I type this, I'm cheating a bit. I assume he's playing quietly in the living room, but he could very well be enacting elaborate plans to hurl himself out the window. Bad Daddy for not knowing. Dammit! Now I gotta go check. . . . Nope. Playing quietly, spinning the wheels on his overturned stroller— by far his favorite thing to do.)

Anyway, as for my discipline, it ain't anything groundbreaking. I make myself write an hour a day. Those of you who've never stayed at home with a baby are wondering, "So what?"; while those of you who've done it effuse: "My god, an hour a day?! How does he do it? He must be the Tiger Woods of self-discipline. He must duct tape the kid to the TV!" Well, it's not that extreme, though I have been known to strategically employ a little Baby Mozart and/or Elmo to get a quarter of an hour or so at the keyboard. Plus, I'm fairly lucky in that my kid's a regular napper. Still, it's a challenge every day to rack up that hour of writing, and when I do, no matter what I've produced, I feel like I've accomplished something.

I've never been the sort of writer than can write all day and into the night. Even when I was single and blissfully unemployed, more than four hours a day was pushing it, and I found that if I went over six, I had trouble coming back to the real world, and usually had to spend another hour stalking city block after block just to get back in touch.

So, time being, an hour a day will have to get me where I'm trying to go. When I was writing the musical, if I had any extra time after my required hour, I'd work on the TV pilot. Now I might be tempted use that gravy time to tinker a little bit more here in E2. Vruba thinks I should node more of my plays. I'm of a mixed mind on this. My plays don't get great reps, and I'm not convinced floating them out on the electronic ether is an entirely good idea, though I really couldn't tell you why not. I don't imagine anyone's going to do some pirate production of one of my scripts. And shoot, if they did, I'd get the double satisfaction of both publicity and monetary damages when I sued them. These days, publishers aren't necessarily breaking down doors to publish plays, even if they have had off-Broadway productions and won awards. And I've always been notoriously bad about promoting my own work. Maybe noding my plays is a perfectly acceptable 21st Century way of getting them to people who otherwise wouldn't know about my work. I honestly haven't decided. If you have thoughts on this, please message me. I'd love to hear what you think, pro or con on this idea of posting plays, before I start doing it again.

It's friday today, and recently friday means "dad day". I have the privilege to be your dad sophia; I have the privilege to watch you fall asleep, to change your diapers and feed you. Thank god it's friday, little one.

You're a little over four months old now, and you've changed so much already. I see your control of your hands develop so quickly. You're in the middle of discovering the world right now, mostly by putting everything in your mouth (including my hands, my shirt or even my nose). You smile the world to me every morning, and I'm so unbelievably thankfull for that.

I think I found my purpose in life, I never cared much for a career and now I even couldn't care less. It's impossible to express what I'm feeling right now (and have been feeling for the past 4 months), but I'm trying anyway because I have to. I am your father Sophia and I have never been so proud in my whole life.

You go and have your little baby nap now, daddy will watch over you.

The elephant was once a formidable weapon of war, although in the last few centuries its use has declined. However, it has not entirely disappeared from the battlefield, and rather like the bayonet, the tank and the human-piloted warplane, I believe that the prophets who argue that the elephant is an outdated weapon are wrong.

Therefore I propose seven missions with which elephants could be tasked. I have also invented some new words.

1. Flame projector. Teach the elephant to drink pyrogel - but not swallow - and attach a fragile glass of white phosphorus to the tip of its trunk. At the appropriate moment, spray tear gas into its eyes! Voila! It will sneeze and our enemies will die. Mesmastic!

2. Cannon. Teach the elephant to suck up lead pellets - but not swallow - and feed it own-brand cream soda whilst jiggling it on a wobbling tray. Voila! The elephant will burp with the power of a shotgun. Facegasm!

3. Giant thrashing ball-bearing flame confusion bomb. Teach the elephant to drink petrol and ball bearings - and swallow, this time - and then inject it with half a kilogramme of LSD! Voila! It will run around, crushing our enemies, before collapsing to the ground and exploding with a massive 'crump' noise like in comics and that experiment where they injected the elephant with LSD and it died in a distressing way although other people say that it was killed by the tranqulisers used to subdue it in any case they were wicked wicked men for doing that and I would like to wish them into the cornfield. Awemongering!

4. Giant phallic symbol. Simply spray its trunk with a pepper solution to ensure erection - or tie off the end with rubber bands, it works for me - and voila! The result will be deeply traumatic and highly symbolic and will result in ideological victory for our cause. Formista!

5. Alien terror. Exterminate all elephants and erase them from history. Then, after a thousand years have passed, generate one from stored DNA. Voila! Our enemies will be convinced that aliens have landed, and will become subject to Carl Sagan-esque 'culture shock', and will go into terminal decline. Violas are lower in pitch than violins and are typically played by failed violinists. Effervescenent!

6. Plague-spreader. Paint them pink, cover them in glue, fire candyfloss at them! They will then look like giant sheep BUT the sugary coating will attracted FLIES! Who spread disease! We let the elephant approach our enemies, and as they try to eat it - whether mistaking it for a sweet or lamb - they will eat the FLIES and DIE because my EYES are PIES and yours are LIES! Hoola! Compelling!

7. Anti-missile shield. Simply dig your tank into a sand berm, camouflage it, and then - the master stroke - surround it with elephants. Vo! Coalition forces will be unable to use their air superiority against you. Knavist!

Nature has a way of circumventing everything man puts in her path. If determined enough, an animal will do anything possible, especially for food. Mice will travel through mazes, dogs will do stupid tricks and cats, well, cats will bug their owner until they're fed.

My family has four bird feeders outside our kitchen window. They're near the edge of the backyard, and hung off of two thin, black poles which have two branches on either side. This is the fourth incarnation of bird feeders we've had. We've strung them from trees, hung them off of the house, done just about anything to keep the damn squirrels away.

Yeap, grey squirrels. Fat bastards who will bully the birds out of the way to get to the bird feeders. These guys are truly determined to get on the bird feeder. I've seen a squirrel make a flying leap of doom from a 12 foot high branch four times before finally hitting the feeder and holding on to his precarious perch. With the current setup, the squirrels can just run up the poles and lean back until they grasp onto the feeder, then pull themselves up.

It is not unusual to see one of these fatties gorging on birdseed, however, while washing my plate this morning, I noticed something really strange. I saw a chipmunk in the feeder. Well, not exactly inside the feeder, where the birdseed is, but between an outer grating and the bird feeder. Chipmuonks are not a rare sight around here. There are plenty of holes all over our two acres where these small rodents run around and hide. They can often be seen on the ground near the bird feeders, next to the morning doves, feasting on fallen seed. Needless to say, I was surprised to see one off of the ground and in the feeder. It couldn't have hopped across the pole like the squirrel did, could it? I can't really say I know much about chipmunk physiology, especially their leaping ability, but I'd imagine it would be quite difficult to backflip onto the feeder like they'd need to. I highly doubt a grey squirrel would allow one to piggy back up ot the feeder. Sure, it's not as puzzling as to where Jimmy Hoffa is buried, or even who's buried in Grant's tomb, but it still boggles me. Especially how the little guy is gonna get down from there.

It’s been a very, very long time since I’ve written. Mostly, because I haven’t felt up to it. I’m exhausted beyond words and totally dejected after my long (and fruitless) job hunt. There is a grind to sending out dozens of resumes, of getting initial calls. The excitement of the call, but the immediate disappointment when you learn that people want to pay you less than a fast food worker to edit a national magazine, to do graphic design, to work on the web.

Right now I have the ability to say “no,” but time is short -- March is just around the corner, and with it the demise of my job. Nine months may seem like a long time, but it really isn’t. Not when you consider that I’ve been looking since this past March, with little result.

I hate the feeling of desperation this brings -- the raw need to prove myself to strangers, to try to convince them to hire me not just because I’m ready to move on, but also because I need that job. And the feeling that the interview I’m on is my last chance, that no one else will bother to call. I sat and suffered subtle racial jokes about people who live in Southeast Washington and insinuations about my sexuality (based on the fact that I live in a “gay” neighborhood) by two women at a Defense Department contractor. Not only was the experience humiliating, but they asked to take my portfolio with them -- it wasn’t exactly irreplaceable, but it wasn’t cheap, either. Weeks passed, and I finally emailed them to check on the status of the job, learning that they’d already made an offer to another candidate. So why did they bother to take the portfolio if they didn’t like me? Why waste it? There’s no feeling worse than waiting, hoping that someone -- even someone you don’t like -- is going to hire you. If I’m ever in the position to hire someone, I’ll make sure to give him or her a prompt letter of rejection.

Yesterday, I went on a second interview for a content development job at an organization I’ve loved since I was three years old. I know that it’s an honor to have even gotten that second interview -- to make it as a finalist candidate at a prestigious organization. But I have this dreadful feeling that I’m not going to get it. And it makes even the interview seem like a waste of time, a nasty tease by fate. A further humiliation. I keep going over what I said, how I said it -- highlighting my mistakes, the slips that will cost me the job. “They’re not going to hire you,” I tell myself. “Why do you even bother?”

They say it takes six months to find a job in this market. I’ve been looking since March, which brings me up to three. I can’t help but remember the bubble years, the giddiness of being able to walk into any company and get a job. Now you have to fight tooth and nail just to get an interview. And what you’re fighting for is a paycut, hoping that it won’t be bigger than say 10%, because how the hell are you going to be able to pay the bills on that?

This is precisely why I haven’t been writing.

I'm down in the dumps, crouched right next to the corpse of my halcyon days. Been that way for some time now. No holiday, livin' in a city that is emphatically landlocked, short on dough, I work my ass off for what seems like a busker's pension, and I seem to be running short on female companionship at a time when my hormones are dancing 'round their respective Sombreros. To boot, I'm starting to feel the bite of inadequacy around the younger crowd e.g. "Linkin' Park is actually Lincoln Park you know". They stare at me "like a dog that's just been shown a card trick" (B. Hicks).

I find music to be quite therapeutic during these times when my neurotransmitters decide to head for the hills. So here's a little playlist for those who need a boost.

Just to give it a name:

Summer Fits

There you have it. Please keep in mind, my musical taste is not a parched pendulum flailing between kitsch 80's ballads and things.

I do not remember the exact date that I became a vegetarian, but I do remember approximately when: It was sometime during the 1993, maybe near the middle. This then, the middle of 2003, is the date that I have chosen as the decade mark.

I'm usually quite vague when asked why I became a vegetarian. If I feel relaxed and I am pressed, I will tell the story of the cow dream.

In 1993 I was in my early 20s, living at home and not cooking my own food. My lifestyle was changing though. I had a job, and wheels, and a new circle of friends. May of them were into that whole holistic thing, and many did not eat meat. I absorbed many reasons why vegetarianism is a good idea: just because we can does not mean we should. What is good practice for a small Neolithic population is not wise for a large urbanised population. We are short of land on this small planet, and meat production takes up ten times as much land. An animal is not a machine part, and its death should not be an industry. Buying a shrink-wrapped chop in the supermarket is as serious denial of the reality of what you are causing by so doing.

I knew all this, but I had not changed myself. These were the real reasons. The cow dream was just the catalyst.

I dreamed that I was talking to some of my meat-eating friends. Not just talking but declaiming, belting out all the reasons why vegetarianism was a good idea. I was even waving my finger at them like P.W. Botha, very self-righteously. As I was doing this, a large black-and-white spotted dairy cow walked behind them. It turned and those big sad cow eyes looked at me. Right at me. It met my eyes. I stopped in mid sentence, mortified, shamed, exposed as a hypocrite.

This was my mind reminding me of the untenable disjunction between what I was feeling and what I was still doing. I stopped eating meat the next day.

We were talking in the Christians usergroup about some of the difficulties we encounter when a question is asked of the group, and the answers we give are based on different assumptions that not all Christians share in common. Tiefling suggested--I don't know how seriously--that we all make our basic assumptions clear before we go any further with a given topic. Frankly I think my Message Inbox couldn't stand the strain; but maybe it would be helpful if we all know where each of us is coming from. Mainly though it gives me an excuse to rattle on about myself. Hooray!

I am a born again Christian whose conversion was fairly sudden and dramatic, and followed a life of agnosticism. I am a baptized member of the Episcopal Church USA. My exposure to Christianity up until my conversion was mostly through the Southern Baptist denomination, to which much of my family belongs.

I believe the affirmations in the Nicene Creed are true, not only spiritually but factually and universally. I believe the Bible is divinely inspired and contains everything necessary to salvation. I also believe it is a collection of books of many types: histories, legends, folk tales, sermons, wisdom texts, poems, songs, written in different times and places by different people for different reasons and for different audiences. I believe that the Gospels provide a substantially accurate account of Jesus' words and deeds (inluding his miracles and the resurrection). The authors were likely not eyewitnesses and may have been limited by incomplete knowledge of some of the places and events described by their sources. (For example, one Gospel describes a miracle taking place as Jesus enters a city, while another describes it as taking place as he leaves the same city. Obviously--to me--both authors received accounts of Jesus performing this act somewhere in or around the city, and wove it into their narratives in different ways.) Also, they chose their material and presented it the way they did in order to convey to us that Jesus was the Son of God and the Christ. The Gospels aren't history texts, biographies, or newspaper reports; but this does not make them fiction, either.

I believe that some of the things in the Epistles are intended for the whole Church at all times, and some for a particular church at a particular time. We don't always know which is which, but then again I don't expect Truth to be handed to us on a paper plate with a side of cole slaw and a slice of Wonder bread.

I believe that Christians of different stripes must make an effort to trust one another, and treat each other with kindness. I would say "love", but Christian love has so often been twisted to include cruelties supposedly done to help the sufferer see the error of his ways that I feel another word is necessary to make my meaning clear. "Charity" also works.

I believe that the Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, and Unitarians are not, strictly speaking, Christian because they deny the existence of the Trinity. I believe that this doesn't mean that there are no saved people among them. (How could one possibly be saved, then? I think Jesus' words to Peter after He rose made his priorities pretty clear: he asked, "Do you love me?". For many reasons a person may have some strange ideas in his head about Christ, but may still love Him in his heart. As much as I might care about intellectual assent to what I believe are sound doctrines, I suspect God cares more about that, and expects us to just do the best we can with what we're given regarding the rest.)

I believe Satan exists as an objectively real supernatural being who wishes pain and death on all living things in God's creation, and works in this world by temptation and corruption. He cannot be reasoned with, bargained with, or prayed to. We can offer him nothing he desires except our own misery. However, I feel that his existence is not necessary in the Christian scheme, so it's not one of the Big Issues for me.

I kneel in church. I cross myself when I need to feel grounded in God. I prefer worship services with candles, bells, stained glass, robes, organ music, chalices, hymns, and all the other elements of ritual that briefly transport us out of this world and into the Heavenly kingdom. I believe laughter and good cheer, creativity, healthy sexuality, and an awake and searching mind are gifts of God. An occasional irreverent joke, a drink with friends, some good-natured cussing and admiration of the human body are not bad things. I believe that ease and prosperity are not by-products of faith; the Apostles went to cruel deaths as penniless outcasts, yet who of us is more blessed than they?

I don't know for certain that any given person is going to Hell. When people say that someone is going to Hell, or is there now, it implies a God-like knowledge that we don't possess. I think it's more than enough to say that each and every one of us is in danger of that eternal separation from God, and that only Jesus offers an assurance of salvation. If my choice in the face of drowning in the mid-Atlantic is to grab the life ring of the rescue boat or strike out swimming on my own, dude, I'm taking the life ring. If someone else wants to swim, I highly discourage it but I wish them the best of luck if they feel they must try.

I believe I need forgiveness, and saving. I believe the human race needs forgiveness and saving, and that in the end only God can manage it.

Why do I still allow him to hurt me? I should know better by now, I shouldn't expect any different. Why do I expect him to behave like a rational human being? Obviously, I'm a slow learner. Even a flatworm that runs up against an electric shock learns to avoid it - outclassed by a flatworm, that's sad.

I know I'm going to have to deal with him for the rest of my life - after all, he's the father of my children (using the term "father" in its strictest biological sense). Why can't he come to the same conclusion and cease the open warfare - in front of my children, no less - that he is single-handedly waging against me?

He was gone, on leave to Washington State to get his motorcycle, for two weeks. The children were with me. He did not attempt to contact them even once. He was gone over Father's Day. My sense of fairness compelled me to help (suggest, even) the kids get a present for him and to make a card. We searched around, found a book about the wilderness (he likes hunting) and some really cute glass tool ornaments (he likes tools). He was to sign back in to Ft. Campbell Wednesday June 18, 2003. The kids and I waited to hear when he wanted me to return them - no call. Thursday, no call. Friday, no call.

Friday afternoon I told the kids we should stop by to see if he was there and to let them at least give him his Father's Day presents. We drove up, his doors were open, his motorcycle was there, so I parked the car at the end of the driveway, where he was working on repairing the holes he had cut in the tires of my car when he took it away (iirc, April 20, 2003). I got the kids out of the car and walked up to him. He turned, looked at me and said "You're trespassing, get off my fucking property or I'll call the cops". I saw that the trunk of the car was open, and said "you know, that's still my stuff in there. Can I have it back?" He said "Get the fuck off my property now or I will call the cops", and kept yelling this at me while I tried to talk to him. I gathered the kids up and put them back in the car, with him saying "The kids are welcome to stay, it's you I want off my property, after all they live here". As I was leaving he yelled at me to stay the fuck off his property. As I was reversing down the driveway I threw the bag with his gifts out the car window.

Why do I let this hurt me? I wish I could just shrug it off as more evidence of him being an asshole, but on the way home I started to cry silently, trying not to let the kids see it. I try to be a decent person when I deal with him - why?

Less intelligence than God gave a flatworm.

  • Seen on the marquee of a small movie theatre: "Coming Soon: Terminator 2". This is rather humorous considering that this is the "Harkin's Art Theatre".
  • There's nothing like coming home to notice that the pool's water has become a dark shade of green. First time I've even looked in the backyard in two weeks, and I think the pool went without chlorine for at least three. Simultaneously, I caught some teenager next door sitting on my side of the dividing wall, possibly with the intent to trespass. Scared the shit out of him, too. It was pretty funny seeing him notice me, jump in surprise, and nearly fall off the wall.
  • I took home an old computer that someone left behind in one of my parents' storage units a month or two ago. Judging by the case, the keyboard port (XT, I believe - I actually have a keyboard or two that fit it), and the fact that the only PS/2 port is available through some weird expansion that connects directly to some pins on the motherboard, I'd guess it's no better than a 386, probably not even that new. Still, if I can get it working, I may be able to use it for a DOS box or something. At the very least, the content of the hard drives may provide some amusement, assuming they haven't been damaged or reformatted.
  • As I'm sure everyone is aware by now, tomorrow is the release date for the newest Harry Potter book. The Postal Service has an exclusive contract with Amazon.com, and they send all of their packages Delivery Confirmation, so tomorrow will be a day of hectic frustration for mail carriers and clerks throughout the United States. Except for me, that is. See, I'm working at the Mill office tomorrow. We only have about 3000 P.O. Boxes: about half of those are closed; of those being used, a significant minority are various businesses (Among them Sears National Bank and Rockford-Fosgate) and organizations (e.g. ASU Foundation and the entire City Government of Tempe); of the rest, many are rented either by college students or by senior citizens. So chances are, I'm not going to have to deal with too many of those. Excelsior, or something.
  • I know I've said it before, but I love this mentality that something being 'natural' automatically makes it good or safe. And by 'love', I mean it makes me want to retch. Some girl came in around closing today, wanting to send some hairspray air-mail (don't ask me why). Several times, she made a point to say that it was "all-natural". Then when the clerk pointed out that it says on the bottle that it's flammable, she says, "Are you sure it says it's flammable? I mean, it's all-natural." (Gee, I wonder if wood is all-natural?)

    But hey, I'll bet this is how Socrates really died. That whole trial and execution thing? Never happened. It was just Polonius and Euthyphro badgering him. "C'mon, Soc, this hemlock won't hurt you. Dude, It's all-natural. Don't be such a square." Et cetera.

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