End of November

While sitting here eating an apple, I realize I must read a novel. I’ve been more in the mood for novels than anything else lately.

I’ll read Bleak House again. It’s a good one well worth rereading.
Let’s see.

London. Michaelmas term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln’s Inn Hall. Implacable November weather. As much mud in the streets, as …

Published in: on November 29, 2007 at 3:39 pm  Comments (2)  

Summer of ’69: booze, drugs, chess, and sex

I was stationed at the Camp Pendleton Brig during the summer 1969. I was marking time until I was discharged from the Marine Corps in 1970. My job that summer, at the exalted rank of sergeant, was to take care of the linen loft amongst other menial mind numbing chores. The linen loft was a small dark second story room in the corner of the Brig supply shed. My job was to hand out pillow cases, sheets, and blankets to incoming prisoners. Once a week, I would take two prisoners and load up all the dirty linen and take it to the base laundry.

I had plenty of time on my hands. I filled it with Ron Rico 151 rum and Coca Cola, drugs, and lots of reading. I had a friend, whose last name was Prince, but whose first name eludes me, who had a chess set. He reintroduced me to the game. We would play for hours after work.

Prince was discharged from the service that summer. He bequeathed his chess set and his copy of Jose Capablanca’s book, A Primer of Chess, to me. I filled my idle hours in the linen loft by pouring over the book and trying to get better at the game. I was living off base at a house a block away from the beach in California. My friend with whom I shared the house liked to play chess, so at night we would play a few games. He would beat me all the time with his unorthodox moves, which you could not find in Capablanca. When he was not around, I would drive all over the place looking for games and play until late at night. It curbed my drink and drug habit. It’s hard to win unless your opponent is at least as stoned as you.

That summer I received a very unexpected letter from the sister of my best friend in high school. Let’s call her Susan. She and I got together when I went home on leave to Iowa that summer. She was about to begin college. She was absolutely beautiful and spectacularly put together. I had had a crush on her since she was 14. All of sudden she was my girlfriend. I really lucked out.

My chess addiction continued until I was released from the service in March 1970. I went back to Iowa and enrolled in college. Susan and I spent every available moment we had together that summer. Then she went to her college and I went to mine. And we drifted apart even though I loved her. She had another boyfriend at her college. I didn’t lack for women friends, so it softened the blow.

I did not play much chess my first two years of college. Then the notorious Fischer/Spassky world chess championship in Iceland made the scene in 1972. Everybody started playing chess. Each morning I combed the papers to find out the latest status of the Fischer/Spassky games. I started playing lots of chess to the detriment of my studies. Let’s call it the second phase of my chess addiction.

Now, I’m sitting here writing, recollecting, playing ten simultaneous chess games on the Internet, reading a chess book off and on, and making moves on my little magnetic travel chess set sitting by by the computer. I am addicted again. I wish I had not dropped chess for so many years. I’d like to think that if I had played occasionally and regularly I would be a decent player now.

However, with the Internet and the ability to play correspondence like chess with opponents, I might keep at it this time. It is a honey of a game. Unlike love, I even win sometimes.

Published in: on November 28, 2007 at 12:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

Lightning fast again

Dear diary,

I got my new computer back tonight. They replaced my display screen. And now I am working at lightning fast speed again.

Damn, I love this computer.

I need a hot computer, for me and my computer are one and the same.



Published in: on November 28, 2007 at 2:51 am  Leave a Comment  


Dear Diary,

Went to Iowa with a sore back and a cold for the Thanksgiving holiday. I had a good time anyway.

My new computer, not even four months out of the box, broke on Saturday. The display screen died. This beats my previous record for quickly breaking a computer by a country mile. The thing that chaps my ass raw is that I didn’t spill beer on the keyboard or anything.

I spent a fair amount of time on Saturday getting my dinosaur computer in working order so I could use it. It has only crashed on me once so far.



Published in: on November 26, 2007 at 4:25 pm  Comments (1)  

The whole weekend

I cannot believe I spent almost the whole weekend playing Internet chess except for taking a break this afternoon to watch the Bears game at Pippin’s with the guys.  Keeping ten simultaneous games going will occupy the mind if the mind becomes addicted to that kind of thing.

It’s off to Iowa for Thanksgiving this weekend.  After that, who knows?

The Philadelphia Story is starting on TCM.  Even though I have seen it a kazillion times, I must watch it again.  Bye for now.

Published in: on November 18, 2007 at 10:05 pm  Comments (1)  

I’m gonna turn my life around

The sun is coming up
Just goin’ to bed
I combed my hair with my pillow
Still got some dreams left
Tomorrow is a new day
Gonna make these dreams come true
I’m gonna believe in myself
I’ll tell you what I’m gonna do
I’m gonna stop puttin’ myself down
I’m gonna turn my life around
I’ll be ridin’ high
With my feet kicked up in the rumbleseat
Yeah we’ll go for a drive
And we’ll be singin’ shotgun from that rumbleseat
Yes I’ll blow you a kiss
And we’ll be ridin’ big time in my rumbleseat

From Rumbleseat by John Couger Mellenkamp

The problem, simply put, is this. No matter how I change my life I’m going to wind up being who I think I ain’t.

Published in: on November 17, 2007 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Click. Publish.

When you want to post on your blog with WordPress, you click on a button called publish. That’s mighty decent of them to call the button that.

Click, I’m published

I’m bad; I’m nation wide.

ZZ Top

Published in: on November 17, 2007 at 10:13 am  Leave a Comment  

Gotta be bad just to have a good time

I don’t know. What do you want to do?

Let’s bet on the football games, play chess, read ponderous tomes of philosophy, pretend we are poets, get drunk, drift, dream, and fall in love for the moment.

Small Town Saturday Night

There’s an Elvis movie on the marquee sign
We’ve all seen at least three times
Everybody’s broke, Bobby’s got a buck
Put a dollars worth of gas in his pickup truck
We’re going’ ninety miles an hour down a dead end road
What’s the hurry, son… where you gonna go?
We’re gonna howl at the moon, shoot out the light
It’s a small town Saturday night
It’s a small town Saturday night

Lucy’s got her lipstick on a little too bright
Bobby’s gettin’ drunk and lookin’ for a fight
Liquor on his breath and trouble on his mind
And Lucy’s just a kid along for the ride
Got a six-pack of beer and a bottle of wine
Gotta be bad just to have a good time
They’re gonna howl at the moon, shoot out the light
It’s a small town Saturday night
It’s a small town Saturday night

Bobby told Lucy, “The world ain’t round…
Drops off sharp at the edge of town
Lucy, you know the world must be flat
‘Cause when people leave town, they never come back”
They go ninety miles an hour to the city limits sign
Put the pedal to the metal ‘fore they change their mind
They howl at the moon, shoot out the light
It’s a small town Saturday night

They howl at the moon, shoot out the light
Yeah, it’s a small town Saturday night
It’s a small town Saturday night
It’s a small town Saturday night

Hank Ketchum

You really have to hear the music to get this one. It kicks ass.

Published in: on November 17, 2007 at 10:08 am  Leave a Comment  

Crushes again: why don’t we get drunk and …

I was writing a blog post early this morning, but the darned thing was not coming together as well as I wished. So I went to the book shelf at first light, pulled the collected poems of Emily Dickinson from it, opened the book, and found these three dated around 1864.

Too little way the house must lie
From every Human Heart
That holds in undisputed Lease
A white inhabitant –

Too narrow is the Right between –
Too imminent the chance –
Each Consciousness must emigrate
And lose its neighbor once –

The poem after that goes like this.

Peace is a fiction of our Faith –
The Bells a Winter Night
Bearing the Neighbor out of Sound
That never did alight.

And then she gives us this one.

And this of all my Hopes
This, is the silent end
Bountiful colored, my Morning rose
Early and sere, its end

Never Bud from a Stem
Stepped with so gay a Foot
Never a Worm so confident
Bored at so brave a Root

Since I cannot go out tonight with either of the two women I adore (yes, I’m into the crush thing again, which I swore off), I’d like to go out with Emily, get her drunk, and see what happens.

Apparently, there is no finish line when it comes to crushes.

Published in: on November 17, 2007 at 9:51 am  Leave a Comment  

Schul runs ’em down in the 5,000 meters

Bob Schul is the only American runner to win the 5,000 meters in the Olympic games. He did it at Tokyo in 1964. Here’s the way I remember it, for I watched it on TV back then.

Many Americans probably remember that American Billy Mills came out of nowhere to win the 10,000 meters at the 1964 games. That was big time news because Mills was a relative unknown and Europeans owned the distance races from 5,000 and up. Schul held about the same status in the American mind as Mills before the 5,000 meter final was run.

Schul was not the favorite in the race although he was given an outside shot. Schul’s normal race strategy was to hang back far off the front runners’ pace and then kick hard during the last 200 meters. He deployed that strategy in the 5,000 meter final. With 200 meters to go in the race, Frenchman Michel Jazy and race favorite was far enough ahead of Schul to make you believe Schul had no chance. But Schul started his kick and ran him down at about the 50 meter mark to win the race. I hope I haven’t gotten the facts too far wrong.

I still get totally stoked each time I recall that race. I have no idea why I recollect it now.

Published in: on November 16, 2007 at 10:04 am  Leave a Comment  


All I want for Christmas is you.


Published in: on November 15, 2007 at 3:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Iraq: just because you were fooled doesn’t mean I was

The Daily Show showed an interesting pair of film clips last night. They showed President Bush during his first term stating that the Middle East would immediately be safer and more stable once Saddam was toppled from power. During his second term he justified the Iraq occupation as an operation to stabilize Iraq and the region due to the vacuum of power left by the toppling of Saddam.

We also have the interesting new estimate coming from the Democrats about the hidden costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. The Republicans charge that the Democrats are playing politics. First of all, politicians are playing politics. Golly, that’s not fair But that’s not the main point.

We continue hear the tired and inaccurate lament that everyone–yes, some people say everyone– was fooled about WMD, the political aftermath of the invasion, and the costs of the war. No, everyone was not fooled. Weapons inspectors found no evidence of WMD in Iraq. They were not fooled. Many intelligence experts doubted the claims made by the the Bush Administration, yet their voices were stifled by the Bush Administration. No, they were not fooled. Highly respected economists, including at least one Nobel Laureate, estimated, both before and after the invasion, the costs of the Iraq conflict would be over $1 trillion if the war turned into a protracted conflict. No, they were not fooled. Many experts on the region predicted the destabilization of the region in the absence of a strong effective Iraqi government. No, they were not fooled.

To those of you who say everyone was fooled about Iraq, I say, no, you were fooled. Not everyone.

Published in: on November 14, 2007 at 9:23 am  Comments (2)  

Blogger jogger

Millions of us blog. I find that strange in a way, for many times I find writing difficult and sometimes unpleasant unless I at least arrive at a catharsis through my anguish. I wonder if blogging will reach the stage where it has become a long distance jog that has run its course. I think of Forest Gump’s run across the country. One day he just stops and goes home.

For many joggers though, there is no finish line. How many bloggers will be like them?

Published in: on November 13, 2007 at 7:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

Classic Comics

When I was a boy, I spent several years enjoying comic books. This included the usual such as Superman, Batman, and Sergeant Rock in Our Army at War. There was another interesting series called Classic Comics. They told the stories from classic literature. These tended toward stories with some adventure in them such as Mutiny on the Bounty or Treasure Island. I recall Jane Eyre was part of the series. Who does not like a good tale about a crazy woman hidden in the attic? I don’t recall War and Peace or The Brothers Karamazov as part of the series.


Published in: on November 13, 2007 at 7:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

Aliens invade The History Channel

You would expect to see documentary shows about alien space invaders and their various doings on earth throughout history or documentary shows on the occult running on the Sci-Fi Channel, but as far as I can tell there are far more on The History Channel.

“I want to believe.” Thus it is so.


Published in: on November 13, 2007 at 7:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

When to stop

If many scenes in a novel are set in a garden or in the woods, is it OK to sketchily describe the details? That is, does the author name the flowers, shrubs, and trees during the narrative? It depends upon what the author is up to. If the details are secondary to the matter at hand, then it is acceptable even though a close reading may show the omission as a careless lack. The author may hope the reader won’t mind for she has given the reader other fish to fry.

One of the challenges of writing is deciding what to put in and what to leave out. The writer must eventually end the decision process if she desires a readership for her work.

Our emotions play an important role in our decision making processes. If we were never attached emotionally to our goals, we would analyze our options forever. People whose emotions are detached from their decision making ability suffer a severe mental handicap.

This might indicate that a writer must always be emotionally attached to a work if she ever hopes to complete it. I think George Orwell said he did his best writing when he was angry about something. It may have attuned his sense of what to put in, what to leave out, and when to stop.

So, when to stop? How about now?

Published in: on November 13, 2007 at 1:29 pm  Leave a Comment  


Another day of forced immobility. I tried to write at the computer, but I could not hold a proper back posture as I hovered above the keyboard. So I read while sitting in the easy chair, enjoyed the warm air and the relative quiet of the city on Veteran’s Day, and pondered the Constitution of the United States as a work in progress or a dead letter.

Now that it has grown dark I feel melancholy. It will pass as one more fleeting moment before I turn wasteful and foolish again.

Published in: on November 12, 2007 at 8:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

Road Kill

I got a love tap by an SUV yesterday morning while walking across the street to the grocery store. It sprawled me in the street. The driver said she did not see me while she inched around the corner. I’m glad she was inching. After gathering my wits, I went about my grocery shopping.

I went out shopping at noon to pick up a few things. My lower back tightened up on me while walking around. By nightfall, I had muscle spasms in my lower back that left me shuffling short distances–my longest range maneuver. I dozed off and on all night sitting straight up in the easy chair that being the only comfortable position for my back. Other parts of me hurt this morning such as the abdomen muscle I pulled last week.

Advil and ice packs help my back. I figure this will go on for another two or three days before I begin to walk normally again.

I was hit by an SUV about two years ago. I spent an excruciating couple of days after that one. Such is life in the big city where the SUV’s roam and their drivers talk on their cell phones looking for oncoming traffic rather than pedestrians.

Published in: on November 11, 2007 at 11:12 am  Comments (2)  

No Country for Old Men

I started reading No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy on Saturday. I liked it right from the first few pages. Sunday afternoon, I saw a trailer on TV that said the Coen Brothers have adapted the book into a movie. Wow, the best of both worlds: McCarthy and the Coen brothers.

My good friend Steve is an avid McCarthy reader. He thought the book was good, yet not up to McCarthy standards. I don’t know about that. On the surface it is a good crime novel, but that is like saying Blood Meridian is a good western tale. As crime novels go, McCarthy proves once again he is a genius.

At any rate, I have another book that I wished I would have written: No Country for Old Men. That’s my highest praise for a book.

Published in: on November 7, 2007 at 2:58 pm  Comments (2)  

Romance and lost time

I met this woman again in Las Vegas. She was once the love of my life. During the past year and a half I had been getting more correspondence from her than normal. Some of it was even conciliatory in ways I did not expect. It was nice seeing her even though the time was too short for a proper reunion.

Since Las Vegas, she has deluged me with postcards and e-mails and interest. I knew the last year I was seeing her, she was also seeing someone else even though she insisted it was not a romantic attachment. She mentioned in passing this week that she had a long distance romance with someone for six years. He broke up with her because he wanted to find a Christian woman to settle down with. He dropped dead a month later. That is very sad. I am sorry that happened to her.

We have agreed to get together again. We are even talking about buying property together in Mexico. I am going to meet her down there sometime to see what it is like. I wonder if it is odd that I feel I still love her. Whether I really do is an open question.

Her and chess have occupied my mind this week. Life is strange.

It’s my move in a couple of Internet games. I have to go.

Published in: on November 4, 2007 at 1:19 pm  Comments (1)  

Catching up

I can hardly believe how far I have fallen behind writing this blog. OK, I resolve to catchup. Later.

Published in: on November 4, 2007 at 12:46 pm  Leave a Comment