Sunday, June 3, 2012

Well, this might be a good time and place to try to launder my karma.*


There's a rod at the top of which is a bolt that lives on top of my water heater. I believe it's called an anode rod, or something, and its job is to collect the iron in well water like a magnet. Since my hot water smells of iron oxide and sulphur, I need to replace it with a new rod, which entails removing the old one, which I've deemed impossible, considering I've used WD40, PB blast, a blow torch, and the blood of unbaptized jews and mormons. Nothing works. So I've decided to replace the water heater en masse, which scares me on account of my soldering skills, or the lack thereof. Goddamn immovable bolts.

I understand The Church's concern over freedom of religion and birth control. But I wonder if The Church should consider some concerns many folks have with the freedom of young boys not to get ass-fucked out of bible camp.

Tower Heist wasn't very good. I thought it was going to be more ironical. But for the record, I've been in love with Tea Leoni since The Naked Truth. And I realized just recently that every woman I've been in love with, on screen and off [chortle!], has in some way resembled Parker Posey.

The night my mom died was the same night President Obama held his first televised primetime press conference, during which my family decided to ridicule him and anyone and everyone who ever had the least notion that he was a good man who had the chance to be a good president if not a great one. Now, they did this knowing full well that: 1. I really liked him and was hopeful and optimistic, though in my cups at the time mainlining vodka by the mouthful not-so-secretly out of mom's freezer; 2. mom had liked him very much, had voted for him, had watched the inauguration from her hospital bed; 3. mom thought Sarah Palin was not very smart, that Rush Limbaugh was both ignorant and bad for reasonable discussion and disagreement, and that she liked me best.** That was as alone as I've ever felt, and I was made to feel alone by the other kids my mom had raised. Was it intentional? It's my understanding that many better educated people hold that healing begins with forgiveness. But when your own kin starts blaming their own mother's sociopolitical beliefs with which they disagree on cancer and pain medication, I'll take my chances.

I find it hard to fathom that Roger could be past his prime. I don't really care. What I do care about is that my love of watching him play is interfering with my ability to be a straight non-gay male of the heterosexual persuasion. But I'll just add that to the list of things I need to surrender to my higher power, which, currently, is Roger's backhand.

I'm finding it increasingly hard to have to be rigorously honest with myself and others when others neither have to be rigorously honest with themselves nor choose to be.

Where were you when you heard that Kurt had blown his head off? I was at work, at Studebaker's Nursery Farm, in New Carlisle, Ohio. My supervisor kind of made fun of me for how hard I was taking it. Still, working primarily with Mexicans and ex-cons might do that to you. Still, that job remains one of my favorites, the further I get away from it, which is probably why.

*David Randall/Pigeonhed
**Probably, I should say.


Isonomist said...

Don't give up yet. Did you drain the heater and flush it? That may take a lot of the taste out. The weird thing about it is, all the water that drains out looks fine, then when you let the cold water back in, you get what looks like espresso coming out of the damn thing. For what seems like hours. And you have to at least partially drain it to remove the the sacrificial rod. I'm not sure what the deal is but may be the pressure in the tank? If after that the ratchet wrench still won't budge it, stick a piece of pipe over the end and use that for extra leverage.

I don't remember where I was, probably popping out babies.

Penal-Colony said...

The most treacherous fuckers of all are the professionally pious, and they're everywhere on the make.

The cruelest fuckers of all can be your own family, especially when they think their kinship gives them the right to dice you up for your own good.

Rush Limbaugh is a jumped-up white trash wanker.

Your mom was some lass.

Being 'rigorously honest' with yourself should not hinge on what the other fuckers are saying or doing.

Most likely, I was filling out a tax return. For some reason, I can't separate Kurt from W.S. Burroughs, and the latter remarking on Kurt's 'grey cheeks' and his being 'dead already'. 20/20 'n all that, even for the damn Beat oracle!

switters said...

I hear music differently than most people. I have ever since I was little. My brothers still introduce me as a musical genius, and then tell them I have perfect pitch. I'm not a musical genius, and I don't have perfect pitch. My brothers say these things because: 2. they're kind of dumb; and 2. they don't listen. I just have a good ear.

When I went to music school, I was taught to listen to music differently. Not necessarily a bad thing, but almost always ends up being a bad thing. Long story short: it took me about 13 years to enjoy listening to music again. I still hear it differently than most, and I still have some of the side effects of a rigorous music education, but my kinship with music it seems has never been stronger. And, it turns out, more important.

I don't know if music is as powerful as it's sometimes described; and I don't know if it affects others as powerfully as it does me. I suspect with this crowd, as with so many other things, I'm not alone. It's still hard to describe what music means to me, and what it does to me. My parents weren't what you'd call musical. Neither could sing well or play an instrument really. Yet music was important to them in ways that's hard to explain or really even understand, unless you're presumptuous and immodest like some of my siblings. I'll need to say more about this, but I don't feel like it now.

John knows both that I don't like poetry and that my taste in poetry is pedantic at best, the juxtaposition that I'd like to think keeps him from hitting me in the back of the head with a spade repeatedly. But I was flipping through channels last evening and stumbled upon one of the PBS stations talking about James Wright. Now I thought James was from Minnesota, for some reason. But he was from Martins Ferry, Ohio. And I remembered a book of poetry I stumbled across my first year in New York. One of the poems went, from memory, and I won't get the stanzas right:

"Two athletes
are dancing
in the cathedral
of the wind.

A butterfly lights on the grass
of your green voice.

[something] antelopes
fall asleep
in the ashes of the moon."

There were two others, one began:

"The moon drops one or two feathers
into the field.
The dark wheat listens.

[Be still?].
there they are,
the moon's young
hiding their wings."

Every day is a miracle, and every moment is a blessing, especially with a dog that I'm beginning to realize has a better grasp of that language than I do. I used to think she didn't listen to me; now I know it's the other way around. I'm glad I found out before it was too late.

Alright, gotta go drain the water heater. Damn you, Iso.

switters said...

"Listen, Bub [dad called me bub, but not in any kind of condescending way, but in a term of endearment only he could pull off], it's just hard work, hard work done willingly, done well, and done quietly. Don't draw attention to yourself. Do your best."

Ever miss someone so much that... I know, I know. Who am I talking to, right?

I wake up, I look at my list of chores I wrote on the white board last night, start slow, and just keep moving.

One of my last group counseling sessions was me and 2 heroin addicts, a meth head and a pill popper. My counselors told me about heroin addiction. It's sort of like what I do every morning noon and night with regard to what I want to get done that morning, that afternoon, that evening, crossing off stuff on the done list, though nothing is ever really finished which, right now, works just fine for me. Anyways, heroin addicts do the exact same thing. It's just that their to-do list involves getting smack, getting high, coming down, getting more smack, getting high, &c. It's like looking in a mirror, except they don't have a white board. Apparently there's an unbearable physical pain associated with smack heads when they're not high. I wouldn't know anything about that.

Anyways, I'd call on the phone. Dad would answer if mom wasn't there. Though dad didn't make calls; HE TOOK CALLS!!! Can you hear him laughing? Loved making him laugh. Anyways, "Hey, Bub!" What we wouldn't give to hear those voices, even on the fucking phone. David Gates was a profound song writer. Do not dispute me.

"Hey, Bub! It's just hard work, done willingly, done well, and done without any thought of credit, gratitude, or reward. Just do your best. Dumbass."

switters said...

One morning, one morning, one morning in May,
I overheard a married man to a young girl say,
"Arise you up, pretty Katie, and come go with me,
Across the Blue Mountains to the Allegheny.

"I'll buy you a horse, love, and a saddle to ride.
I'll buy me another'n to ride by your side.
We'll stop at every tavern and drink when we're dry,
Across the Blue Mountains go my Katie and I."

Well, up stepped her mother, and angry was she then.
"Daughter, dear daughter, he's a married man.
And there's young men aplenty is [sic] handsomer than he.
Let him take his own wife to the Allegheny."

"Oh mother, dear mother, he's the man of my heart.
Wouldn't it be a dreadful thing if we should have to part.
I'd envy every woman that ever I did see,
Across the Blue Mountains to the Allegheny."

[Well the last time I seen him, he was saddled to ride.
Katie, his darling, was there by his side,
A-laughing and a-singing and happy to be free,
Across the Blue Mountains to the Allegheny.]

We[*] left before daybreak on the buckskin and the roan,
Past tall shivering pines where mockingbirds moan,
Past dark cabin windows where eyes never see,
Across the Blue Mountains to the Allegheny.

Past dark cabin windows where eyes never see,
Across the Blue Mountains to the Allegheny.

-Goddamn Irish immigrants "settling" in West Virginia, bringing their damn songs and words to leave hanging out there, like Zoolander's wiener, for everyone to see. Dad's mom, whose people came from West Virgina (her own mother had walked with her family from Appalachia to Iowa, led by Skylar Bates), would say, very quietly, "They said West Virginia was a wonderful place to grow up, get drunk and then leave, quietly. You couldn't farm the ridges and the bottoms would flood every spring."

[*] Who the hell is "we"?

Penal-Colony said...

'Spring Images' & 'Beginning'. JW was a true blessing; he had an unused neck like a prop forward's:

"Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom."

You hear music differently. I hear words differently: it's like suddenly seeing the 3-D images embedded in those scrambled magic pictures ... only better.

Your last post reminded me of Cormac McCarthy's Tennessee world in The Orchard Keeper, Outer Dark, and Child of God.

switters said...

Cormac McCarthy scares me. Keifus made me promise not to read The Road nor to watch the movie. Well, at least I didn't read it.

I've never stopped thinking about your neighbor that you were helping with his chores. Any updates?

bright said...

Driving from here to Miami University of (OH) in Oxford (OH) to visit my friend Jessica who had named her house the peachfish. Heard it on the radio. Wound up contracting a stomach bug two days later. Drove back, stopping every 30 miles to throw up and sleep.

rundeep said...

Nice to see you. What I heard today and thought of you, somehow. of course

Penal-Colony said...

The Road is beautifully written. You should read it.

I no longer live in Ireland. I'm in KSA.

Isonomist said...

"It's probably fine"

Schmutzie said...


Hope all is well with you my friend. Can't thank you enough for the nudge toward Chekov. I've been enjoying this site.

And for anyone who might be interested, there's a Transit of Venus that will start in about an hour. It's a very rare astronomical event, and today's will be only the 8th time it's happened since the invention of the telescope. Venus will begin its pass in front of the sun at about 5:04 Chicago time, and can be viewed online HERE

Penal-Colony said...


Things are good, M, thanks. Hope the same for you.

You should check out Alice Munro. Herself and Wm Trevor are two of the finest exponents of the genre. She's really incredible.

Lots of dust over Riyadh these past few days, so no night skies. We recently camped out by the Wahba Crater and were privvy to the greatest show on earth.

Good to see you.


Schmutzie said...

Wow. That is remarkable terrain. Very forbidding looking. Read some of the comments and found Melvin Towndrow talking about rain. Really? Looks pretty arid, like the Arizona desert. I'd have to lean more towards the volcano theory than the impact crater theory, what with those lava fields and all.

Penal-Colony said...

Definitely volcanic. When you're in the crater itself, you can get a real sense of the almighty and cosmic power that must've blown the thing open. It can get up to 60 C at the center during midday, hence the salt [the surface crackles and peels like the burnt skin of something baked], and, yes, a most forbidding terrain. So vast, so lunar in its sheer barrenness. The desert is such a complex and varied ecology. I didn't fully appreciate that till coming here.

Just beyond Riyadh there are huge escarpments that look exactly like the Grand Canyon. These features cause wind tunnels that send sand storms over the city. Right now, it's 44-46 C in the shade. Damn hot for a paleface.

rundeep said...

The Road is one of McCarthy's best books, meaning I only wanted to die for a week or so after reading it, and it totally ruined my vacation. But it's one of those books I've thought about every day since I read it.

Isonomist said...

I got to watch it at the planetarium here in NYC with about 400 of my fellow nerds and their progeny. Never have you heard cuter science questions lisped into a microphone. Never.

Schmutzie said...

I watched the whole thing online. The NASA EDGE people were vodcasting from Mauna Kea, and after 6 hours of talking about planetary orbits while at 14,000 feet those nerds were downright loopy. Fun event. Glad I watched. SDO should have some stunning stuff posted tomorrow.

Penal-Colony said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rundeep said...

I think he's obsessed with death. Said it himself in an interview once, that death was the only thing worth writing about. My husband read Blood Meridian while I was reading The Road. We both drank like fiends that vacation. His description didn't exactly make me want to read it, especially given how devastated I already felt.

Sill, oddly, he's good buddies with the actor Tommy Lee Jones. TLJ isn't exactly a romantic comic lead (though he's great in those MIB movies), but he doesn't strike me as being all about the death either. The relationship between them, however, does explain why No Country for Old Men works so well...

switters said...

I'm sorry, I thought I covered all this in my review of the fun for the whole family laugh out loud riot romcom buddy flik, Old Country For No Man!

Good grief. My speed right now is still Garrison, and it's getting market-timed perfectly.

Dawn Coyote said...

It's time to do a step 4. How do I know you haven't done one yet?

switters said...

Hi Dawn. Or should I say, Helena Bonham Carter!

I used to be a pretty good piano player. I don't say "pianist" because I don't like the way it sounds and no 2 people pronounce it the same. Anyways, I was very good. Never great, but pretty damn good. I've decided that I was at my best when I was 17 years old. I was practicing 6 to 8 hours a day, and I had 2 teachers: 1 for classical and 1 for jazz.

Anyways, when you want to go to one of them fancy music learning schools and learn how to play the piano for real, you have to go to that school and audition. (I.e., you have to play the piano for half a dozen half-dead corpses who are very mean.) And you have to play 4 pieces; at least that was the routine when I wanted to go to music school and learn how to play the piano for real:

1. A prelude and fugue by Bach, Handel, or the other guy. But, come on, they want to hear JaySeb;
2. A sonata by Bethoven, Mozart, or Haydn. But come on, Haydn rarely wrote music that anyone wanted to hear not to mention play;
3. An etude by Chopin. 2 words: Ow;
4. A 20th century piece.

So, given that information, one might play, or attempt, as the case may be, for example:

1. C# Major, a 6-page 4-voice bruiser with a crackin' subject and every counterpoint trick in the book, literally;
2. Beethoven, perhaps that one in Bflat major. Or F; you could play that one;
3. "The Butterfly" I hear is a good old-fashioned knuckle-buster. Ow;
4. Debussy, anyone? Prelude? Bflat minor maybe? The one that musically tells the story of a guitar player wooing his love with song when he's interrupted by another wooer. Like The Bachelorette, but with augmented 4ths and left-handed melody lines, and a lot more testosterone.

At 17, music was my higher power. Now almost 30 years later, it is again, already, yet.