Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Freedom Is Free

I really like the new Devendra Banhart album. The sun has been too bright for me these past two mornings and evenings, but the residual glare has been assuaged by Cripple Crow. He looks real scary and he sings real quiet. He uses his background vocalists, alternate languages, and obscure instruments to perfect effect. I picture Devendra holed up with cider and notebooks in a mountain cabin. He keeps a dog named Jack and a cat named Esmerelda. It’s quiet at night except for the wolves at the door. And there’s a caravan of simpletons and geniuses coming up the hill for a visit.

Back in the mid-late-nineties, I had a daily routine that I liked very much. Wake up late. Not with the sun but with the body. I’d fill my body with rich baked goods and a medium-strength medium-size latte in a warm room in a cold city. Then I’d stroll around the campus, reporting for duty at my appointed time. I’d learn or I’d teach and or both or neither. I’d come home, shuffle off my shoes in the mud room, and there would be conversation or cable TV or dinner in cold restaurants. Maybe I'd run in circles. Who am I kidding? I never had a mud room. Not in the nineties.

Why do I bring this up today, seven or eight years later, in the far distant land of Los Angeles? I don’t know. It was just a thought.

I liked the Dylan documentary, despite its sixties focus (Jokerman!). But I have something to say to Bob: Bob, I lived in Minnesota. Minnesota is a friend of mine. And maybe post-war Hibbing or Dinkytown in '59 are a little more muse-crushing than Eden Prairie in the 80s or Minneapolis during the turn of the century but dude! It’s not that desolate. It’s not a soulless wasteland of deathfaces, sad fisherman, and stunted-growth charlatans. There’s a spring and a summer and a short fall. Winter can be nice sometimes. There are rainbows and nightingales and waterfalls. And icicles and leafless trees. And shut-ins. It’s more complex than you make it out to be. So, while you recline in the comfort of your Encino manse ordering your valets to fetch you some Baja Fresh, remember that though one should never look back, especially when there’s no direction home, one can still have one’s eyes open in all directions – sad lowlands, joyous highlands, craggy crags, and rangy nethers. I’m not making any sense. I’ll stop.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Release The Doves

The new headphones (birthday present) have changed my life. I'm in another place at work. Not necessarily a more productive place. But not a less productive place either. But it's clearly a different place.

The headphones are not exactly soothing though. The music (or erudite NPR talk) enters my brain directly, no longer conduiting via the outside world which no longer exists. I get dizzy easily. My hair is kinkier.

But I will remain in the new place I find myself in. Presently, Clem Snide is singing a gentle la-la-la-la song. I feel a phantom fever in my phantom head. I am possessed by something delightful and jarring. And whole and empty. There's a sun squeezing out through the 22nd floor windows, splitting downtown into thirds.

I'm going back to the screenplay about the poet on the mountain. It needs a 7th and final draft.

I'm hungry but not for cheese. There's been enough cheese this week. Too much chocolate and salt too. It's time for something more refined. More delicate. But only for today. Tomorrow, back to the basics.

Monday, September 26, 2005

It Will Come Back To You

I have once again changed my blog's name. Incarnation of Mango? What the hell was I thinking? I've decided to return to the original name, minus an s. It will not change again.

Some reviews:

Film review: Thumbsucker. Nice but nothing happens. Fluffier than goose down. Lots of funny haircuts.

TV review: Curb Your Enthusiasm season premiere. Brilliant as always. But the "phone next to the bed that rings during sex" plot device needs to be put to bed. Has anyone in the history of phones and beds ever had a phone next to their bed? Still, I like how Larry feels exhiliration at the news that he's adopted.

TV preview: I can't wait to watch the Bob Dylan documentary, though I'd have to agree with this article bemoaning how Dylan's post-60s output gets ignored. Jokerman! Has anyone heard Jokerman?!

College football review: Minnesota Golden Gophers. 3-0. They beat Purdue on the road. Inspiring. Do I see a championship game matchup with USC? Maroon and Gold vs. Gold and Maroon.

Music review: Prefab Sprout's 1988 album From Langley Park to Memphis. 17 years later, it still brings a smile to my pushing-40 ears - the swells of Nightingales, the thrust of Enchanted, the solemnity of Venus of the Soup Kitchen... the way Paddy Macaloon makes up for a lifetime's worth of bad song titles with a career's worth of perfect songs. It all makes me hope for a new Sprout album. But I'm afraid that bird may have flown across the river of forgiveness, bound for the aerie of solemnity, 'neath - nay o'er - the perch of chagrin.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Rhetorical Questions In Pairs

1. Is it possible to eat too much watermelon? Will I become sick?

2. Is My Name Is Earl really as good as the first episode? Or am I crazy?

3. Is regret a bad thing? Is it distinguishable from fear?

4. Why aren't there more Indian restaurants? Is it poor marketing?

5. Will my life change drastically in October? Or will it be just so?

6. Do the Timberwolves really think Marko Jaric is a starting point guard? Do they?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

We Will Not Rock You (a poem)

(note: I wrote this a couple of years ago as a sort of manifesto for a non-existent movement. It still rings true, even if the movement never manifested itself)

We will not rock you
We will not spike your slipstream
We will not sanctify your porn
We will roll and we will grow
We will spank and we will swirl
Dogs and puppies, kiss the girl

We will not rock you
We will not trim your hedgerow
We will not atrophy your angst
We will steam and we will spew
We will rage and we will growl
Cats and kittens, fist the prowl

We will not rock
No, we are not for rockers
Art is amplified
Turned to twelve, the bearded scruff
Shady ancients slimmed and tough
I've heard the road is rougher stuff
We will not rock
Rock is dead but so is death
Bless the baby one more breath


We will not rock you
We will not spill your teenflesh
We will not squirrel your seabed
We will not rabbit your jetpulse
We will not grovel your guesswork

We will not rock
We will not forage your sweetbread
We will not baby your breakneck
We will not holler your oatsack
We will not ruckus your backtrack

We will not rock
We have no rocking instructions
We only rock for destruction
And we've already been destroyed
Art is null and null is void
We will not your sully your sweatsuit
We will not canvass your slutfeet
We will not hover your hoarfrost
We will not rock you at all costs

Monday, September 19, 2005


Sometimes you have to shock the system a little. This is why I put myself into my car early Saturday morning, drove 6 hours north, and visited my cousin in San Francisco, only to drive back late last night so I'd be fresh and ready for my work day today. That's 800 miles in 40 hours. In between the drives, I got to help my cousin try to locate 2 of his 3 (newly) lost cats. One came back quickly. A second one waited a day. The third is still unaccounted for but he doesn't really count because he was never my cousin's cat in the first place (mistaken identity). I think I watched some TV and ate some meals but my weekend was pretty much just driving and cats.

Today, I'm back in the cubicle, strategizing my future and pining for sleep.

I did have the following thoughts during my 12 hours of driving alone:

1. More saxophones
2. What's up with cows?
3. Could there have been more perfect weather than what I experienced Saturday afternoon in San Francisco?
4. Weeds is a good show

Thursday, September 15, 2005

A Gentle Artifice

Sorry for the sporadic postings lately. I have no excuses. None.

I'm at a loss for what to talk about. Let's see... there's the weather. Today, downtown Los Angeles is overcast and cool - my kind of morning. I hope it lasts into my lunch break during which I intend to once again go "beyond teriyaki."

The John Roberts hearings make for fascinating radio. On my new Bose headphones, I'm alternating between well-chosen music and the Senate committee's well-rehearsed speeches-disguised-as-questions followed by Roberts' well-reasoned non-answers. He's either the creepiest lawyer alive. Or he's Jesus. I'm leaning toward the former.

Speaking of my new headphones (birthday present from Laurel. Thanks!), I'm amazed at how well they block out all the office noise. To say I was in the "zone" yesterday would be an understatement.

I was watching Boogie Nights on HBO the other night (on their "all-Boogie Nights" channel). Eight years later, it's still the best film ever made. Every moment is infused with a comedy-tragedy tension (or, if you prefer, a laughter-pathos give-and-take). The acting is tremendous. And yes, I too prefer sunrises to sunsets.

Monday, September 12, 2005


I don't want to go to the meeting today. I don't want to go. Don't make me go.

Sure, now that I'm at an "advanced age," I should see opportunities such as today's meeting as a way to improve my standing in the larger governmental entity that I find myself working in, that I should script a "shining moment" during the meeting when I irrefutably demonstrate my indispensability and "thinking outside the box" go-gettedness. No more sitting in the background waiting for the world to come to you, Colonel F.!

But still... I don't want to go. If I get there early, maybe I can find a corner seat where I can write some dialogue for the screenplay without anyone noticing.

Friday, September 09, 2005


Three birthday wishes:

1. That Kanye West and Mike Myers immediately begin filming a series of buddy movies. Their on-screen chemistry rivals that of Hope/Crosby, Gibson/Glover, Belushi/Aykroyd, Eckhart/Malloy, or Chan/O. Wilson. In fact, I'll start writing the script today.

2. That the lovingly nostalgic and ubiquitous phrase "back in the day" be replaced with something new. It's time. I suggest "before it went awry" or "in my harvest years."

3. Peace in the world, recovery on the Gulf Coast, and cool breezes through window screens everywhere.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

So As Not To Carry Over My Sick Days Into Year Two

I'm home sick today. It's just me and Seymour and the laptop. Laurel's in Minnesota until tomorrow night, likely eating wild rice soup and talking about the weather (that's what people do there). Oh, Lily's here too, staring out the window at the birds, challenging them to come anywhere near her. Lucky for them there's a screen between them and certain death.

Okay okay, a one-week moratorium on cat talk.

But what else is there to write about? There's a big life event coming in two days. How about some NFL predictions? I haven't talked football in a while.

I'll save myself the trouble of writing too much and just pick the playoff teams.

AFC East: Patriots
AFC North: I don't know... the Bengals?
AFC South: Titans
AFC West: Chargers of course
AFC Wild cards: Colts, Raiders

NFC East: Giants
NFC North: Vikings
NFC South: Falcons
NFC West: 49ers (don't laugh; it'll happen)
NFC Wild cards: Seahawks, Eagles

AFC Playoffs: Bengals over Colts, Titans over Raiders, Patriots over Raiders, Chargers over Bengals, Chargers over Patriots

NFC Playoffs : 49ers over Eagles (sorry T.O.), Giants over Seahawks, Falcons over 49ers, Vikings over Giants, and... to break my 10-year streak of picking the Vikings for the Super Bowl,
Falcons over Vikings

Super Bowl: Chargers 24 Falcons 21

No, I've never been right before.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Coldest Turkey

On Friday I decided that it would be a good time to begin my third attempt at ending my 33-year long caffeine habit. Coke and Pepsi as a child and adolescent. Mountain Dew (aka The Dew) as a young adult. Coffee and Diet Coke as an older adult - the scourge of the world's safest addictive drug is a fierce one.

My reason for kicking (I love that word) caffeine is that it may be responsible for the jumpy nature of my mind. To those who don't know me well, I seem like a pleasantly mellow fellow, with a calm demeanor and a quiet old soul. But, on the inside, I'm often a tangled mess of tangential thought. Swirls of ideas and eddies of affect play puncuated games of ping pong with external stimuli. Sometimes, I conduct my own seminars in there. It gets to be too much.

So no more caffeine. Will this result in a tamer, less fascinating blog? Maybe. But it could just as well lead to clearer blog entries, with beginnings and ends and taut middles. Or it may have no effect.

Am I having withdrawal effects? I had a headache for a few hours on Friday, a sleepy-good aura on Saturday and Sunday, and a sluggish Monday. Today, I'm back at work and I could really use the pick-me-up. But I will not stray.

And... I went back to Minnesota over the weekend. A recap: Lush trees, thunderstorm, rainbow, State Fair, milkshakes, hot sun, cool breeze, goats.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Lake Street Is For Lovers

Tomorrow I leave for Minnesota, for a long weekend in the heartland. There will be a trip to the State Fair. And an early celebration of an upcoming birthday (mine). And an airline on strike. And a rental car. And quaint accents.

I like my trips back to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, as well as their cousin city Rochester. The familiar streets comfort my shaky shoulders. The green fields and thick trees soothe my ocean-kissed/smog-shrouded pysche. I entertain thoughts of moving back. This especially happens during visits that don't coincide with that crazy winter thing. September is especially beautiful (the early fall colors on the trees high above the Mississippi, the cool breezes, the threat of frost, the Vikings and my early season hope). I feel almost giddy writing about it.

Then, inevitably, on the flight back to LAX, somewhere between Las Vegas and Fontana, it hits me. I'm glad to be back home. I look out on the massive infrastructure of Los Angeles and say "yo, this is it."

Then, invariably, the next morning, as I lurch toward downtown L.A. on the 10 freeway, I long for something smaller.

I'm never satisfied.

Book update: I gave up on William Vollman's Europe Central. Maybe next year. I'm amused by Saul Bellow, but I'm procrastinating. I like Wesley Stace's Misfortune but I'm not feeling Victorian these days. So I'm on to Salvador Plascencia's The People of Paper and that's what makes me happy.