Monthly Archives: November 2008

And now for one in Spanish

Grandpa was also capable of being morose fluently in Spanish (he had a doctorate in Latin American Lit, if I remember right). Actually, this poem is about me. FYI, the spelling may not be correct on this, I’m doing this the “easy” way and only transcribing ones that have already been typed. Grandpa’s chickenscratch is slightly beyond me.

Mi Nieto

Qué donaire tienes, nieto,
Qué gracia con tu abuelo,
Cómo luces en cualquer día,
Cómo de todo eres fin.

Cómo a mí me instruyes,
Cómo a mí me haces reír,
Qué amable me haces sentir,
Siempre me sabes dirigir.

A tu padre no conocí,
El tiempo no me lo dejó,
Ya que tenemos un poco de él,
Lo vivamas juntos tú y yo.

Honesto has sido conmigo,
Honrado también lo eres,
En extremo, qué coraje;
Anuncias al hombre que fueres.

¿Fue azar o mi destino
Qué me llevó a ti acá?
¿Qué milagro te engendró?
¿Qué dios a mi te envió?

The Sins of our Fathers

So, my grandma died about a year and a half ago, my father’s mother. Grandpa Hank died… I don’t know. Ten years ago? I was in California at the time, I know that much. That’s it, my sister, my father, and I, the last of the Walker bloodline.

After months and months of hemming an hawing and storage units and crap, I finally took some initiative and took all the remnants of their lives to my house.

We’ve been going through it, slowly. I gave away the appliances, I’m trying to sort out the furniture and the boxes of completely random shit: Grandpa’s AA chits, his records, the pencils and crosswords that Grandma filled out obsessively. The strange silver dish that was the centerpiece of every Christmas, filled with plastic holly leaves and a half melted candle. A mint colored monkey statue. A wind up bear who pours himself a soda and then drinks it. Boxes of unlabeled pictures of people… my ancestors? Strangers? Who knows now.

But there was a large stack of poems. Handwritten, on yellow legal pads. The poems of my grandfather, along with the typed copies my grandmother would transcribe so he could submit them to dozens of vanity publications, poetry contests, legitimate press… All there, the madness in his head, spilled out of the page…

I am going to transcribe some, here. So it’ll live forever on the wire, my Grandfather’s horrible, depressing legacy.

And now, for the first time on the internet: Henry Marvin Walker

Bad Dream

I was fourteen and she called
Me her “Golden Boy”. I went
From triumph to triumph: Co-editor
Of the school-paper, swimmer of

Rivers and lakes, hot contender
On the tennis court. I crossed
Bridges and soared beyond without
Touching the handlebars.

I keep having this dream/memory
About a year that never was.
I could never have been that young,
That carefree, that hopeful.

When the dream recurs, I turn aside
And grit my teeth to keep from
Weeping.

The Event

I haven’t blogged about this up until now because I was hoping to give myself some distance from it, but to be honest, distance doesn’t seem to be on the agenda. So, fuck it. Here’s the raw dump.

In the end, I kicked him out. That’s the whole truth. I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t take watching the house fill up with useless crap and watch the abandoned projects drip oil down onto the floor. I couldn’t take hearing about how fucking busy he was. I knew it was over, I just wasn’t sure _how_ over.

I gave him a timeline, I gave him a deadline, ignored, another deadline, missed. I gave him an extension. I had tearful moments of self doubt. I waited, I cajoled, I tried to encourage, I had fucking status update meetings, but in the end, it came down to a bunch of boxes on the porch. Taking back keys, throwing shit out. It came down to three weeks of cleaning the house, countless dumpsters full of broken fax machines and AT keyboards, bins of worthless specialty cables, dozens of disassembled power supplies. It came down to staring in awe at the garbage dump my life had become. To letting my anger overpower my compassion.

And I figured it was over. He had gone back to Arizona, and it was over, right? Nobody sane would become homeless and then go on a vacation. Nobody would take that trip and then come back. Nobody would take a worthless road trip when gas is five bucks a gallon. He had to just be moving back. It made sense, I guess, to go back where he was comfortable, where he hadn’t burned through good will. But then I caught him cleaning himself in my front yard. I had doubted, until then, that he would make it, but I was wrong.

And he brought me a gift. A trinket. He asked to use the bathroom. I stared, in awe. What the fuck are you supposed to say to that? What are you supposed to do? There’s not a self help book for this sort of thing, it’s not the sort of thing people give you advice about, because who the fuck even acts like that?

And it didn’t end there. It’s an ongoing thing. The angry emaills where he insults me and then asks to be my friend all in the same breath. The presents left on the porch. It’s maddening, because I think I’ve been pretty clear in all this. The messages about the status of the house, the emails, the texts. And there’s just no number of ways I can say it to give it meaning. It’s over. Fuck you, it’s over.

Zydrate comes in a little glass vial

So, I went to go see Repo! : The Genetic Opera last night at the Clinton Street Theater.

Let me get this out of the way. Repo! is not good. It’s a bad movie. One of the audience members around me said that it was introduced to him as “Soon to be the worst movie of the year”. This is probably unfair, given the scope of shit that Hollywood produces, but it is not a Little Shop of Horrors. It’s not a Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It’s not even a The Craft. But the director, who was there for the screening, came out and read one review that called it “A movie without an audience”. And that, given that it completely packed the Clinton theater, at 10pm on a Monday, is total bullshit.

Comparisons to The Rocky Horror Picture Show are as inevitable as they are correct. The same crowd that showed up for this could easily have been there for Rocky. Some of them may have been there the previous night FOR Rocky. Drama fags, chunky goth girls, guys with neckbeards and leather dusters, the crowd had them all in droves.

Visually, the movie was 100% on target. It looked like Bladerunner and the video for Closer had a baby and smeared it down with some drippings leftover from a Tokyo Gore Police set. Anthony Head’s Repo Man is a fantastic character concept, executed perfectly. Ditto Sarah Brightman’s “Blind Mag”, stunning concept, amazing makeup. I don’t even really need to go on, sufficed to say – if a movie could make me happy on visuals alone, this one would have done it.

Story. This movie had a linear story. There were no twists, no turns, no detours. Even twists and turns they had options on, they chose not to take. It was like a playground slide. Not the crazy spiral one, just that one made out of stamped tin that goes straight down and deposits you into the credits. The universe was painted very thin, presumably all of humanity only lives in this one town now. The whole setup was laid out in a storyboard (a beautifully drawn comic-book style storyboard I might mention) in the first four minutes. The ending doesn’t make much sense, nor should you particularly care about it. Evil characters stay uniformly evil. You find out that one of the “good” characters is evil about twelve seconds in. The most interesting character (Graverobber, played by Terrance Zdunich, who will win the Academy Award for “least likely name” this year) got panned by the camera three times and largely ignored. He was, of course, absolutely throw away as far as the plot was concerned, but I understand why they were loathe to leave him out, because you immediately wanted to know more. As a matter of fact, I think that the story might have been better had we followed HIM around instead of listening to Rotti Largo (how can you _not_ love Paul Sorvino) sing about his idiot children (I could not make out a single word that Pavi Largo/Nivek Ogre sang/said in the entire film, this will be addressed in the next section).

The singing. OK, I know, this says Opera on the box. I shouldn’t be looking for a musical… but I am, seriously. That’s what people are looking for. They want a Musical. You know why? American english does not work very well in a full operatic setting. Especially when people are singing against an accompaniment of rock music, and also singing “over each other” in traditional Opera style. Fully two thirds of the “big” musical numbers were incomprehensible auditory mash. Every time Anthony Head opened his mouth, there was an electric guitar swell that obscured the first half of the sentence. And, instead of using a traditional operatic method, which breaks conversations from their normal “Hey” “Hey” “Want coffee?” “Sure” staccato into longer expository verses, conversations held with long stanzas, they decided to just have everybody sing everything. So, a conversation like this.

“Hey, dad”
“Hello, Shiloh” (again, I point out, the rock swell caused me to hear her name as Shadow for the first hour… HOUR of the movie)
“I am pretty tired.”
“Yeah, me too”

Would all be sung. No rhyme, no meter, just “Hey, daaaaaad!” “Hellloooooooooo”

There were three notable musical numbers which were very well done. Graverobber’s “Zydrate comes in a little glass vial” was pitch perfect, as was Shiloh’s “I’m 17” song, and then the Repo Man’s “Night Doctor” bit. Everything else was a little mashed together, or just felt kind of pointless. I really can’t say I liked any musical number that had Ogre/Pavi in it, but that might be just because straining to figure out what the fuck he might have just burbled out was annoying.

In the end, I don’t know. I wouldn’t necessarily have picked Rocky to be as long lived as it is, but I think this has cult classic written all over it. The costumes are easy enough to make yourself out of stuff from Hot Topic and Goodwill, it’s got adequate singalong potential. Do I think it’s a movie without an audience? No. Do I think the audience is very big? No. But I do think it’s a crime that this movie can’t get wide distribution when a shit sandwich like Ultraviolet gets put into hundreds of theaters.

In short, if it’s coming to your town, it won’t kill you to go catch a glimpse of what your kids will be throwing toast at in 20 years.

NaNoWriMo Chapter 3

Ch 3.

Now that I’ve scored, tripped, and recovered, the really hard work begins. Interacting with the real world long enough to score again. It didn’t used to be this way. I used to have a job, I used to have insurance and benefits and a retirement plan. I used to have an estate. I used to think all that stuff mattered. I used to think TV was fun. I used to like food. Now it’s all just one big obstacle course, a series of rites and acts I have to perform to get high one more fucking time. All those skills I used to have, they’re all gone, they’re all worthless. The world has moved on and nobody wants a sysadmin anymore. They want something else, a wonderkid, a superman, they want someone who will do it all for them and lap up whatever money spills their way. I did that world once.

I’m done.

I start off at the day labor site. Nobody ever shows up looking for help, but sometimes there’s a guy with a line on some N. It’s always a good idea to be thinking one step ahead. Oddly today there’s someone there looking for a few guys to set up chairs at the convention center. He asks me if I speak spanish, and I say no. He asks me if I speak chinese and I say no. He stares at me like I’m something he flossed out of his molars for a minute, and looks around at the rest of the people there. He asks me if I do drugs and I say no. This is a litany, it’s a rosary prayer. No, I don’t do drugs. No, I don’t have any warrants. No, I don’t have any convictions. No, nobody is gonna come looking for me in the middle of the job. Yes, I will work for ten an hour, yes I will work for ten hours a day, no, I won’t report shit to the government. The guy appraises me one more time and thumbs me toward his truck. I walk to the tailgate and clamber over into the bed. A few minutes later, two other guys get up in the bed with me, one guy I know, Kevin or Peter or some jerkoff name like that. The other guy I’ve seen, but don’t know what kind of jerkoff name he might have. The truck lurches and we all fall off the bench, the whine of the electric motor giving way to a gentle cyclic thud. Hydraulic electric hybrid or something ridiculous like that. Only in America.

Kevinorpeter looks over and asks me if I know what the job is. I shrug. We turn to number three. The other jerkoff shrugs. This whole gig is starting to feel kind of weird. Normally if you don’t speak chinese, the cold call guys won’t take you because they have plenty of people who _can’t_ sell in China. If you can’t speak spanish, the manufacturing guys won’t take you, because you won’t be able to understand the management staff. If you can’t speak either you’re pretty much left to mucking out toilets or delivering take out, because just about everything else is cheaper to do with a couple bots. After all, why have five guys you pay nine thousand bucks a year landscape your property when you can pay fifty thousand for a Malaysian knock off of a Japanese landscaping bot which will last for ten years. The bot never gets hungry, never has a bad fight with a girlfriend and fucks up a hedge, it never breaks into the offices to steal all the TVs and laptops it can find.

We’re stuck with it now, I guess. We all kind of tune out of our shared confusion and feel the cold soak into our bones. Hopefully we’re gonna go hang posters on streetposts somewhere they haven’t standardized enough to automate, or something. I dig my hands into my armpits and shiver to pass the time.

NaNoWriMo Chapter 2

Ch 2.

It’s ending now. Words work again. My brain is capable of doing something other than radiating concentrated joy. It’s bittersweet, but sometimes this is the best part of the trip. I’ve had my fun and now because I can actually articulate stuff, I can enjoy it too. Everything is just fanstastic! I feel like I’m waking up from the best nap in the world, but multiplied by a thousand. There’s no aches in my body, no pains, I can feel each beautiful ray of light as hit hits my skin. I can feel the photons racing to hit my retina from every object in the world. Life is pretty good.

And then it’s over. The aches are there, the place in my knee that pops when it’s cold out, the disk in my spine that’s not quite as elastic as it used to be, the cavity I have been pretending doesn’t exist. Then the smells hit. My armpits, the unknowable horrors that are inside the fridge, the urine, the overfull catbox in the corner, the cold turd which has curled up around my sack. When you can’t move for ten hours, things happen. You get used to it. I waddle like an overgrown toddler to the bathroom and start the shower warming up. I peel down my pants and assess the damage. I barely recognize the person that looks back at me from the mirror. I’ve lost sixty pounds. My hair is a stringy greasy tangle. My penis sags between angular, grotesque hip bones, my balls look huge against my skinny shit stained thighs. Hey there, handsome, what’s your name? It was… a line from a movie, I think. Or a book. I can’t remember anymore. Nano gives and Nano taketh away.

The good news is I haven’t gotten any bedsores yet, that’s when you know N has you down for the count. I check my back and my ass. In really high end N joints, they have beds that massage you, that roll you around so you don’t get any settling. I once saw some Japanese hotel that had a special hyperbaric chamber just for junkies. That would be the life. Instead, I’m scraping some preowned beans and rice off in the yellow orange spray of my shower. Smearing it with my toe to make sure it doesn’t clog the drain. I wonder if they catheterize you when you go in the massage bed. I bet they do. I think idly about what I could use as a catheter around here, but I don’t think it would be safe to stuff anything I have around here into my body. Maybe I should just get a tarp for the chair instead.

NaNoWriMo Chapter 1

Ch1.

Addiction is a tricky thing.

If you’re an addict, you don’t really know. You know, on one level. But on another you’re so deep in your own shit you don’t even know it’s shit anymore. There’s a vague sensation that compels you to perform an act over and over again, but it’s internal, it’s organic. It’s completely you. When you’re a smoker, and you have a cigarette pack in your pocket, you don’t notice anything different, but as soon as it’s not there, you keep thinking of reasons to go to the store, or the gas station, or that bar on the corner, or as the day wears on ANYWHERE THAT SELLS CIGARETTES. And as soon as the pack hits your pocket, and you feel the corners dig into your thigh, or hear the crinkle of the cellophane when you walk, even if you haven’t smoked a cigarette yet, you start feeling more comfortable, less stressed out. The lights are less harsh and traffic doesn’t seem as bad. Everything is gonna be just fine, because your fix is right at hand.

Right now, the lights are harsh and the traffic seems terrible. There’s a haze over everything. Every time something happens it’s like my brain is bouncing off the sides of my skull. Dull ache everywhere, chills. Every interaction is rubbing me raw. Occasionally my brain kicks in and brings things into focus. Sharp, surreal memory moments. Now I’m at the intersection of Fifth and Ash, sliding on the bricks. Now I’m on the waterfront, staring at some graffiti. Now there’s broken glass digging into my palm as I rummage around this glovebox. Now I’m sucking a dick in a a back seat, trying to score. Now I’m shaking, on the bus headed home. Now I’m barely able to open my front door. But same as always, I feel the baggie in my pocket now, and everything is gonna be just fine.

The memory moments come faster now. Now I’m opening up the bag, now I’m crushing the caps, now I’m putting it into the gun. We’re almost ready baby, we’re almost there. Now the cat is looking at me from on top of the armchair, upside down. Contact, cold stainless steel against my forearm. Ceiling cat is watching you penetrate. Oh, god it’s so good, and the giggles are starting. I can feel them creeping over every nerve as they move from the tiny black dot on my skin. Just making it all OK, like I imagine being pet feels like for a dog. It’s completion. It’s so much more than sex or love or hope or God or anything else could ever be. They say you can’t really feel every one individually, but after you hypo, you know they’re all lying.

Nano is as close to religion as I’ve ever had, and if you think you can feel better singing and dancing with the choir… you’re full of shit. For the next ten hours, Nano will be every woman and every man and every food or drink or drug for me. It’ll run it’s course and tomorrow morning I’ll feel just like I did an hour ago, but in the mean time… language can’t do it justice. It’s every cliche, it’s completely beyond words.

The McTaco

Say you are a manager at a McDonalds.

A customer walks in and walks up to the front counter and asks your employee for a McTaco value meal. You think for a moment. The employee says that there is no such thing as a McTaco value meal, looking at you for confirmation. You shrug. The customer becomes irate and asks for you. You walk over and immediately apologize to the customer, and tell them it will be no problem, that employee will head straight to the back and fix up your McTaco.

What have you done? If you take a common understanding of customer relations, you have just served the customer, because they are always right. You just saved the day, because that customer saw how quickly and decisively you put your employee in their place, and got that McTaco made.

In all reality, what you have done is fucked over your only customer. As a manager, your only customer is your employee. They buy their paycheck from you with their work. Much like a Value Meal, there is more to it than just the pay. There is the benefits (the drink) and the support of his decisions (the fries). That employee is now in the back trying to dream up what a McTaco could possibly be, and resenting you, they are no longer going to work as hard for you, because you’ve already demonstrated that you’re not gonna back them up. You, in turn, are a customer of your manager, you buy your paycheck from him with your work, and the extras on your value meal are again, the support of your decision and the resources to do your job (the money you can pay your employees).

Every manager offers a paycheck, every manager offers benefits to whatever degree. What separates OK managers from GREAT managers are the fries. Nothing is a worse feeling than having a manager so desperate to prove themselves that they shit on you in the process.

And that is how I spent my Wednesday – trying to fake up a McTaco, for an irate customer, while my manager defended his actions to me by trying to explain that by making this Taco just this one time, we could prove that we _never_ make Tacos.

Site Updates

I installed MobilePress on here so it should now load all speedy and have better navigation on various smartphones and other mobile devices. It is apparently very ugly. I don’t know what to tell you except I love you all and respect you.

I also installed Lighter Menus which you guys will never see, but it has made the WordPress admin area so very much nicer.

And I finally updated to WP 2.6.3, because I am lazy and slow.