Thursday, October 31, 2002

Everybody wander on over to Sex McGinty's eulogy to Jam Master Jay on "Coral Calcium" -- its the straight troof. If I may say a few words myself on the subject, albeit with less eloquence, Run DMC was the first rap I ever heard. Along with the Beasty Boys who hit the mainstream at the same time, Run DMC's tough but ultimately accesible music (to a suburban white kid in a ghetto school in Long Beach) really opened my eyes. Conspiracy theorists may speculate that Tupac's shade blew out Jay's brains, but I won't hear it. Besides, it was Jay who blew my mind when I was in seventh grade and that's how I'll remember him. R.I.P. (I'm pouring out a sip of Dasani right now).

Monday, October 28, 2002

Library of Congress, 3:09 p.m.

Radio newsflash: Russian gas killed over 100.

Radio newsflash: diplomat gunned down in Jordan.

Radio newsflash: maniac opens fire at Arizona hospital. Kills two then self.

Radio newsflash: anthrax scare across town. Somebody put powdery substance in air ventillation system.
[me glancing nervously across my office to where an ancient 1930s air vent blows lustily. It can be rotated in any direction I desire but cannot be turned off...]

(Holding breath...holding...holding...strapping on emergency gas mask...almost there...ok...ready and...)
*deep sigh*

Sunday, October 27, 2002

Granted, its 2:00 in the, wait 1:00 in the morning (daylight savings) but sometimes that's the best time for...

Clay Sails' Foolproof Recipe For A Happy Life

1. Find an evening sometime soon. Grab someone you love. Light candles. Crack open a bottle of wine. Find something you both enjoy talking about. Talk. Repeat for several hours.
2. Announce to the world that you are indisposed. Retreat into a nearby bathroom. Fill a bathtub with bubbles and warm, soapy water. Soak. Read a good book if so inclined.
3. Laugh five times a day. If nothing seems funny, try to imagine what a sea sponge would find funny. Laugh at that.
4. If all else fails, eat almonds.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Enquiring minds wanted to know what was the third food group I alluded to today on "Days of Silent Radio" but did not specify. At first I thought "huh?" but then I realized that I was the one who was confused. Very confused, apparently, because everybody knows there are only two food groups.
Rather than wait for the inevitable email asking what these two are, and my inevitable scolding reply that somebody should have paid attention in high-school nutrition, I will elaborate.
There are only two food groups: meat and rocks.

Rocks encompass every distilled, crystalized or synthetic substance produced from the mixture of basic elements. Commonly this catagory is represented by salt and sugar, but can be expanded to include such things as ice cubes and stale bagels.

Meat includes everything that is or was alive. The arbitrary distinction between meat and plants is rediculous and counterintuitive. The thickness of a cell wall or the existance of photosynthesis hardly makes plant cells so drastically different from animal cells as to be considered an entirely different food catagory. Besides, who examines their food at a cellular level to make sure it actually contains the appropriate structures before eating it? Answer: no one. We toss both "plants" and "animals" with equal aforethought onto burgers, and grind them up into edible mush (for "meat" we call this food "sausage" and for "plants" we call it "smoothies" and "V-8" juice). Anyway, I lose myself with the forcibleness of my logic.
Another distinction between plants and animals is the so-called "photosynthesis" thingy. Plants apparently produce photosynthesis, and animals don't. Well, what about mushrooms? And what about all the unwashed hippies out there with funky green stuff clinging to their bodies (and no I'm not talking about Henna tattoos)? Another false argument used to create the unfair meat/plant divide is the advanced nervous-system issue. Apparently animals have advanced nervous systems and plants don't. All I can say to that is: cows. (You know, those big beefy dog-looking things with pink boobies and horns.) Cows obviously do not have any sort of advanced nervous system. If they did they wouldn't walk around eating only grass and saying "moo". Cows are, for all intents and purposes, walking plants. And sure, they might *eat* plants, but that doesn't mean anything -- I'm meat that eats meat. There's no reason there can't be plant-eating plants. But my point is that plants are really just a sub-catagory of meat, and my cow illustration somehow proves that. Either that or I just think cows are stupid.

So there are obviously only two food groups. And don't get me started on "herbs". What the fuck are "herbs"? Aren't they just dried up vegitables that we use in very...tiny...quantities? "They're a seasoning" you say. What about bacon bits? I use bacon bits as a seasoning. Are bacon bits an "herb"? We grind up pigs and put them on our salad for seasoning. What about sugar? I use sugar to sweeten my yams. Is sugar an "herb"? It is a vegitable (sugarcane) byproduct we sprinkle on our food for flavoring...

And so...

And still I...

Oh, never mind.
Hooray. My threatening message to the Snipers seems to have paid off. They went running scared toward Ohio or somewhere and got nabbed along the highway.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

I'm feeling...prolific today. Either that or the combination of drinking a gallon of juice (aka coffee) and reading about the Kurt Cobain "Journals" has galvanized me. Yah, the latter. Nothing like coffee and lame, dead pop icons to get the blog rolling. Here's the thing, ready for this?
Fuck Kurt Cobain.
Oh yeah. Maybe I didn't say it loud enough. Here you go again in case you missed it the first time. I said...
I know, the guy's dead, so give him a break, right? Sure. Ok. Actually, I do give him a break. I didn't much care for his music when he was alive but after he died -- yes in fact the very moment he died and we got to hear lots and lots of Nirvana -- I re-evaluated his music and decided that it was really great, and probably the purest, most "important" musical contribution of the 90s. I decided I was stupid for holding the band responsible for "Smells Like Teen Spirit" when it was clearly just a boring throwaway song with a decent hook. But fuck Cobain and his bullshit diary anyway. I mean that in the nicest way possible.
See, we like our icons dead. Yup, that's right. Cold, stinky-meat dead with worms crawling out of their eyes. They're better preserved that way. [Insert the usual litany: Hendrix, Joplin, Aliyah, Morrison, Dylan Thomas, etc.] We get to keep more of them for ourselves -- for our image of what they should represent -- that way. They don't get all old and fuddy-duddy like Elton John, or scary like Keith Richards. They don't mushroom out like Jerry Garcia or get busted sucking off teenagers in public bathrooms like Pee Wee Herman or catch fire like Richard Pryor or catch fire and turn white like Michael Jackson. So ol' Kurt we love him because he fought life all the way and in the end, when he was rich and famous and hat a hot, slutty wife and a dozen hot rods, he decided life sucked and he had to go.
So he did the right thing by us by getting out of our hair before his own hair fell out, or he had to go to rehab a billion times like whats-his-fucking face Loser Downey Jr. (yeah I know -- addiction is a disease...whine whine) oh, but back to my rant...
We shouldn't pay Curt Cobain any mind. He could play music, so what. He lived fast and furious and had the grace to snuff himself out before we got bored with him, so what. He wasn't wise. Just because everybody listened to him didn't mean he was deep. Give me Curt Cobain when he's 55, maybe then I'd listen. But not now. Not after he blew his stupid, messed up head all over the kitchen. Nobody gets props for that. Does he think he's so fucking special that he gets my sympathy for that? Fuck that. We don't need icons who cop out -- we need survivors. Let Cobain be a hero to those who actually do kill themselves (they need Rock n' Roll in heaven, I'd venture. All that harp music must get obnoxious.) For the rest of us who fight the urge -- who struggle through the pain and down-periods of life -- we need the old living rockers with swollen prostates and loose gums. We need more George Harrison type deaths: sad, lingering, affairs with loving families and friends hovering by. So no, Kurt, I'm not going to read your book. Maybe I'll catch the next one when you're 55.

Today's Vocab Lesson

blogsores: raw patches one gets upon ones posterior after lengthy hours reading and writing blogs.
In the following Wired article some self-styled blog watchdog (a "blogdog" perhaps?) maintains that we bloggers blog for theraputic reasons. We write about issues like the sniper because it is "a release valve for shock, fear, and rage" etc. etc. It somehow gives us an illusion of "control" over our environment. As an equally uncredentialed and similarly self-styled "Blog Elder" myself, I say if it makes people feel better to think that we bloggers have productive motives behind our actions, fine. If somebody needs blogging to seem like a project of self-improvement rather than an extreme waste of otherwise perfectly useless time, ok. I say blogging is an act of self-conscious anti-existentialism: we blog knowing full well that in an age of electronic surveilance and databases, self -expression has become gratuitous. We blog full well knowing that no amount of wealth or attention will increase our ability to be satisfied. We blog despite people's desire to patronize us with their "understanding" of why we do what we do. Do they really understand me? If so, they'd better come up with a better description of why I do what I do, because I can't recognize myself in what they're saying. And an unrecognizable me might as well just be a big ol' lump of Clay for all the good it does anyone...

Congratulations to my sister L. who had a baby boy this morning. He's five pounds something ounces and he's healthy. People say he's "beautiful" although he seems to be mostly bald. I assume she's noticed that but I won't say anything about it until she does (we'll love him anyway).

Its my sister's first child and my fifth nephew. No nieces yet. I'll have to get on her case about that when I call her in a few minutes.

Congrats to Sex McGinty, who was uncle-ized last week.

Monday, October 21, 2002

Well, it seems that a Church of the Subgenius sympathizer has produced for me the evidence I was lacking regarding the Church of the Subgenius. In evealuating the evidence I will presently lay before you, I submit that my previous rant was undertaken in the throes of a most appalling and emotionalistic ignorence (i.e. ideal rant-mode). Rather than apologize to the good members of the Church (who will undoubtedly keep an eye on me from now on) I will submit to the forgiveness of Bob, who seems like a swell dude. As a result of the following I have seen the light:

[Dear Clay Sails,]
I once went to a CoftheSG Devival in SF. That shit was hilarious. The
guy "preaching" was really goddamn funny. I don't remember most of what he
said but I do remember a bit about Jesus being more badass that Bob cause he
could forgive your sins. Bob, though, was happy to find an excuse for your
sins. Clearly the first option is a little bit better. But it requires a lifetime of BS
whereas Bob only requires a one time payment of $39 or
something. Anyway, the shit was funny. I didn't buy their book or make a
donation cause that would have made me a chucklehead, but they
clearly didn't really care if I did or not. They also had a very cool
anti-spam group called SPUTUM (SubGenius Police UseNet Tactical Unit Mobile).
Those guys put spammers pictures, addresses, phone #'s etc on the web, made fun of them
and generally did things I applaud. They had cool names like "Southern
Justice". They, in conjunction with some other anti Spam groups succeeded in
bringing UUNET (now WorldCom) to its knees by essentially blocking their access to
UseNet until they agreed to stop coddling spammers using their network.
Reading the groveling letter from the chief of UUNet to "Unit Zero" asking
them to please leave them alone and how they had changed and were newly
anti-Spam was priceless. This after getting a "communique" from "Unit Zero"
calling UUNet "a nest of spamming vipers".

[please note that although the above was *not* expressly written as poetry and is simply a victim of klunky blog formatting, I encourage you to read it however is most comfortable. I happen to know that the author -- whom I will arbitrarily refer to as "Jack" -- is a huge fan of poetry and would likely be very interested in reading yours. Especially if its doggerel poetry. I will be happy to forward any material you might have to him for evaluation.]

Friday, October 18, 2002

Today's Rant: The Church of the Subgenius

At the risk of exposing myself to ridicule by adherants to this snyde and irritating dogma, I must confess that I have very little understanding of what this "religion" is or why I should care about it. From what little I understand, as both a Gen Xer and a cynic (boy there's an original combo) I am a prime candidate for membership. All I need to do is grease some dork's pocketbook until he lets me in on his little joke. I probably get some pamphlets and further instruction in how cool it is to be a member of a religion that sneers at religion. Wee. Oh the irony. Somebody tape my ribs before they bust. But seriously why should I pay for it? If I do that the joke's on me. I can turn on the evening news and get in all my ironical sneering for free. I can watch a bit of Must See TV and relish the meaninglessness of the human condition. Maybe the COTSG has certain rituals I'm unaware of. Do I get to eat spam from a Cthulu Pez dispenser and whip myself with a Snapple(TM)-drenched serial modem cable until Buffy comes on? I might be able to get into that for a good fifteen seconds or so. Tell you what, y'all. I'll just sit here and slack and chuckle at my own obviously underdeveloped sense of irony until one of you churchmembers comes and illuminates me about this whole silly self-referential cult thingy. I obviously need saving.

Um, excuse me. I'm waiting...

So I'm sitting here at work, looking out at my placid little view of the Capitol Dome, my window that I'm so proud of, my own office that I finally earned, that I can scribble away emails in all day on taxpayer $, and it hits me. Can I really sit here writing emails all day for the rest of my life and get paid? Well, no because I have recently been asked to leave my job, but irrespective of that (which isn't related to the emails I'm certain), can I? Could I get away with it? I wonder. Is there some other government mole, sequestered in some tidy little office with his happy little view of the capitol watching every word that I write through some kind of snooper program? Its the curse of the partially informed: I suspect that such a program exists, and there would be no liklier place to find Big Brother than in government itself, right? But still. I wonder...
My mind drifts to the Capitol Dome. It doesn't have to drift far, maybe a quarter mile. How far can a mushroom cloud travel? If somebody nuked the Capitol building, would the thick granite edifice of the Library protect me? I always wondered as a kid if I would get to see a mushroom cloud for real someday. There's something so entrancing about them. I'd definitely want to see the one that got me. Of course if somebody did destroy the capitol but I somehow lived I'd head for the tunnels in the basement that criscross the Hill and wait out the ensuing atomic winter. The combination of radiation and Vitamin E defficiency would probably render me pale and strange and moody. My glands would swell and bulge with unnatural fluids. I'd emerge an atomic monster ten stories high and eat what was left of the capitol. Then I'd pick my teeth with the Washington Monument and duck into the bay.

Meanwhile America would re-erect its ruined capitol and elect new politicians. TV would eventually cease running endless sappy commemorations, astrologers would predict gloomy things again. In short, life would return to normal and all the horror would be forgotten.

But I'd still be there at the bottom of the sea, snacking on the occasional passing ship, waiting for the right moment to reclaim my tidy little office overlooking the capitol.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

The other day local Washington D.C. area news here assured us, the extremely killable public, that HE was undoubtedly watching newscasts, taking cues from the media etc. By "he" I mean, of course, God (eponymously known as "the Beltway Sniper"). Since OF COURSE a homicidal maniac doesn't have anything better to do imbetween killing people than watch TV, and since news analysts somehow know the inner workings of this killer's soul despite actually knowing his or her gender, race, name, age, location, or ANYTHING ELSE, I figured the news must be right. Since the Internet has become a very big part of the media, there is a very good chance this individual is reading this very blog this very instant. And so, I address the following quick message to you, Mr. or Mrs. Beltway Sniper.

Dear Sniper,

Nice gun. It works really well. You're a good shot with it. Too bad the kid didn't die, but you can't depend on those little solid body bullets -- they get good bounce if they hit bone, but through the gut they sometimes just slip out the other side and are gone. Speaking of slipping out and being gone, you're falling out of the media spotlight again, but you probably know that already. Its been two whole days since you wasted that analyst at Home Depot. That was a good one. She didn't have a chance against you. Except I'm curious about one thing: why did you move up on her like that? You were only 25 yards away this time. That's practically pistol range. I hope your hands weren't shaking. But that wouldn't be like you. I bet you were giving her a sporting chance. One slash from her paint brush or a fistful of drywall in the eyes might have done you in. She *was* FBI after all. She was probably tougher competition than all the 5000 cops on your ass with their predator dones and computer profiles.

I admit, I've been playing against you, too. Haven't you seen me through those crosshairs? I was the one at the gas station defiantly standing beside my car with my arms folded, looking mean. Okay okay, you're right, I can't lie to you. I was probably looking less mean than apprehensive and I'd already calculated your best angle of fire and placed a gas pump between us. And that other time I "went inside for gum" I'll confess -- I already had some. So I'm a bit of a pansy. You've rooted me out. Without your random bullets I would have gone through life thinking I was brave. What a dreadful misconception that would have been. When I get home tonight, if I make it home tonight, if you let me make it home and some other citizen with a beef and a rifle doesn't take me out, I'm going to tear down every photograph of myself from the wall and scrawl "C-O-W-A-R-D" across the middle and spit in my eyes and weep bitterly over the ruins of my formerly badass self.

There are folks out there who say they know your pain. They can *feel* it. Someone who shoots people mowing their lawns and sitting on park benches must be wracked by pain. Me, I don't care much for sympathizing with your pain. We all got pain. Why, when I was 16 I got mugged in L.A. by a bunch of hooligans in a van. They were out gay bashing most likely and although I'm not gay, they couldn't have know that. I had a guitar with me and people who walk around at night in the summer with guitars must look like faggots. At least thats how they saw it. I got over it of course -- I got over it by recognizing that it wasn't a problem in me that caused me to be a victim, but a problem in my attackers. They were out to cause pain because they were in pain themselves, and they succeeded. The end. They won. You won. After I got over it I won, too. Everybody's a winner. Except of course all the homosexuals maimed and killed in the meantime, and all the junior high students with their guts blown out. As for me, I hope you being so smart and all are able to find the one person causing you the most pain and shoot him for a change. My guess is you won't be able to do that one long range.

In the meantime I thought I'd play a little game of my own, maybe issue a challenge worthy of your talents. I figure that since I'm using the anonyminity of the web as a shield and you're an expert at hiding, we're on equal footing. Here it is: come get me. I'll be out looking for you, too. Me and all 4,000,000 other people you've made uneasy. Here's your newspaper headline so far: "Angry Man Makes City Uneasy for a Few Weeks". Wee. Write that on your tombstone.
But better write it quick...
'cuz we're comin...

Words of Wisdom From Clay Sails-san:

When a boy chooses no particular path but his own, they call him lost.
When a man chooses no particular path but his own, they call him selfish.
When an old man chooses no particular path but his own, they call him wise.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Big Issue Blog #1

I've wondered aloud in previous postings at the etiquette required for thanking folks when they hold two sets of doors for you, one after the other. In sum: are you supposed to thank them immediately after some kind soul holds the *first* door for you, hoping that your initial "thanks" has some sort of grace period before it expires so that it extends to include the second door? Or are you supposed to say "thanks" only after the second door and hope that the several seconds of lag time imbetween your unacknowledged passing through the first door and the second don't earn you a slammed door in your face for being so rude. Likewise, thanking them for each one seems overthankful (it *is* only a door after all) while thanking them for neither is obviously not an option (unless you are Larry Ellison, who will not only not thank you for holding doors for him, but will actually convince himself that he's such a genius he must have figured out how to hold doors open first and will demand a royalty for the idea). I myself have resolved the issue by combining one "thanks" with one grunt that might be "thanks" or it might be "I'd rather be crushing buildings w/my pink cookies."

The point of this is not to bore you with my drear Beckettesque (or Beckettesquian, ala "Sam", "the Big Samuel", "Sammy Boy") ruminations. Rather it is to inform you that I am not the only one preoccupied with such important yet understudied concerns. Just two days ago at Riverside Coffee in Columbia I walked in on a conversation between a high-school age hipster and a fat barrista named Peg regarding an unpleasant occurance at the doors at Borders books. Apparently the hipster opted for a "walk now, thank later" approach and was just getting clear of the second door ("thank you" of derision upon his lips) when he was assaulted by a look of sheer opprobium by the door holder.It seems that his failure to acknowledge the first held door was too much to bear and the door-holder stomped away muttering.

For my next Big Issue Blog: When is a big cement bridge with a road on it called an "overpass" and when is it called an "underpass"?
I've been catching up on my blog reading. Good stuff. People falling in and out of love with telephones, indignant spats with cranky ol' bicycles, 6-year old capitalists hawking meat through the mail... I gotta keep from laughing out loud b/c the office next door contains a no-nonsense office marm with a frown bigger than Area 51. I guess it doesn't matter much if I laugh: I just found out I'll be discontinued at the Library of Congress in November anyway, unless I ratchet up my hours to twenty a week. I doubt thats going to happen. School + teaching + commuting is quite enough already, though the job market is fairly bleak at the moment. Still, fuckem. I may not have a roof over my head in three months but lately I've been less than impressed with my place. Aside from the annoying insect problem that I've been bemoaning endlessly about for months (quick aside: last night at dinner we sat down to a nice meal, only to have a hungry little hornet drift down toward my head. My wife shrieked, I jumped up, spilling the pepper and tipping a chair) our pink walls are driving me a little crazy. But enough domestic talk. Domesticity is so dull. Novels about domesticity are dull (typical plot: some family is living a seemingly ordinary life, something comes to make them realize that life isn't perfect after all, people bemoan thier fates, either death or love intervenes to bring an ambiguous message of hope and endurance, the end). Movies about domesticity are duller (typical plot: someone's wife may have big breasts but she's either boring or bored, someone seeks a more fulfilling life with someone with either larger or smaller breasts but finds the new situation fraught with similar problems, screaming ensues, either death or love intervenes to bring an ambiguous message of hope and endurance, the end). Paintings about domesticity are by far the dullest (typical image: Kincaidian tudor cottage neslted among a dark forest, trailing rainbow colored smoke from fifteen chimneys, the end).

But back to my prospective unemployment... There will always be lentils and collard greens to eat if the cash becomes scarce (total meal cost: $.87).

Monday, October 14, 2002

Days of Silent Radio updated
So I'm blasting up 95 Friday in the rain, going too fast for sure, behind on homework, manic, full of ennui, feeling sorry about the tragic life of puppies and all the girls I never danced with, evading snipers left and right ("Journey" looped, skipping from bad pirate burning, nobody to hear it), heading home to a quiet house and the usual clutter and clouds of yellowjackets banging against the window.

I did what anyone should do at such times. I blew off responsibility and went shopping for an electric guitar. Damn, I need to play in a band again.

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

Ancorwoman: Welcome back from California, Clay.
Clay Sails: Thanks.
Anchorwoman: How was your trip?
Clay Sails: Ok, thanks. And yours?
Anchorwoman: I didn't go anywhere...I'm the anchor.
Clay Sails: Har har.

Thursday, October 03, 2002

The enigmatic and improbably named "Ramsey" on Glass Maze ( posted commentary today regarding the disconnect between our associating a minor scourge like Mad Cow Disease with death against our relatively blase attitude toward commuting on highways that are essentially rivers of hurtling metal (no doubt piloted by all manner of madmen, drug addicts, teenagers, and politicians late for rubber stamping presidential war plans). This turned out to be a highly auspicious moment for this topic. Consider the following message in my email inbox today from the President of American University:

Dear Students:
A series of random shootings have occurred in Montgomery County, MD last night and this morning at sites along major traffic routes
such as Connecticut Ave., Georgia Ave., Rockville Pike and others. Five deaths have been reported to date...At this time, University operations have not been directly affected. All AU students, faculty, and staff commuting through those areas
should be aware of this situation.

Pushing aside for the moment the question of "What am I supposed to do with this information?" (since the only obvious answer is "avoid getting randomly shot"), this adds a whole new dimension of danger to my commute, which happens to basically follow this route. Hell, the combination of ongoing D.C. area sprawl, smog and random killings on the road, I feel like I'm back in L.A. again. Maybe this is all an extravagent effort to keep me from getting homesick and leaving the region. Thanks guys (or gals).

Seriously though, "Ramsey" also said that if he subscribed to the "Many Worlds Theory" of all life possibilities actually coming to pass in alternate universes he'd have to light a candle for each one before bed. I highly discourage this. The millions of candles he'd undoubtedly have to light would be a serious fire hazard and could potentially lead to yet another unfortunate and tragic (if ironic) demise.
Number of yellowjackets killed in the house yesterday: 4
Number of yellowjackets that died of old age in the house yesterday: 1
Number of scheduled exterminators who showed up at the house yesterday: 0
Number of scheduled exterminators denying I'd made an appointment but graciously agreeing to come on Friday: 1

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Clay Sail's book review of Homi Bhabha's The Location of Culture:

The Location of Smack
If liminal stairwells are at all interesting to you, and you don't mind reading a secret language of scholarship that relates to precisely nothing that can be touched, heard, or smelled then Homi Bhabha is your kind of hack. If you're impressed by university credentials and names like Derrida, Said, Foucoult and the like, then Homi Bhabha is your kind of genius. If you think identity formation is a simple process, then Homi Bhabha is your kind of foil. The "Location of Culture" 's needless density obscures what is essentially a simple idea: cultural identity is not stable but is formed by a hightly nuanced negotiation between external pressure and internal sense of self. The end. Next overhyped, elitist poststructural/postmodern/postcolonial posterboy please...
I know it is annoying to hear people talking about their stupid web formats but I needed to adapt my trusty ole blog to accomodate links to my fellow bloggers. Hope you like the new look. Be sure to check out my fellow bloggers for devastating and hilarious insights I might miss.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Tonight on a break from class at American University I came across this important message scrawled across the bathroom wall:

I'd rather be crushing buildings w/my pink cookies.

(I couldn't agree more.)

Tonight on the way home I was listening to the Canadian Broadcasting Company's excellent "As it Happens" (a bit like Canadian "All Things Considered" but quirkier). They interviewed a guy in North Dakota who was the 'Chairman of the Wheat Board.' Well I'll be damned. Here I thought all this time I could only grow up to be a doctor or a lawyer or a teacher and then -- after its far too late -- I discover that I could have positioned myself to become Chairman of the Wheat Board, whatever that is. Granted it probably controlls millions if not billions of dollars worth of grain commodities in the Midwest, but can you imagine how far you'd get at a cocktail party whipping out your card and telling some toasted floozy what you did for a living? Worse, when you got home from work at night all you'd have to talk about with your spouse was...wheat.

I bet the suicide rate is high in that position.
Yellowjackets killed in house Sunday: 9
Yellowjackets killed in house Monday: 5
Exterminators coming over Wednesday: 1

Howdy all. Good thing I didn't write last night 'cause I got all gloomy on my ride home. Sat across from a girl on the bus crying quietly to herself: a beautiful, fragile looking Chinese foreign exchange student. I wanted to reach out to her and have an anonymous conversation with her over coffee, tell her sometime its ok to talk to strangers. (Nothing sordid, I promise, just the old motherly instincts inherited from a well-balanced childhood). I didn't say anything, though. I just let her cry and I slunk off the bus and wandered heavy of heart to my empty car in faraway Nebraska [parking lot] and drove through a sea of slow red lights listening to sad music.

You all ever listen to U2's Unforgettable Fire? That's what I was listening to. The song "Wire" is just unbeatable. Feels like good drugs surging through the veins. And the song "Elvis Presley in America" has always been an odd favorite of mine. Its got a relentless 12 string guitar and totally incomprehensible lyrics and Larry Mullen Jr.'s brilliant drumming. It seems to say different things every time I hear it. Once I looked it up in a U2 book and it turns out to be a sound check that they accidentally recorded. Somehow it made it on the album though I think it was just a one-time song. It sounds like total hell the first time you hear it, it might grow on you after five or six years of ignoring it (like it did for me). My own music lately follows an idea I call the "non-repeatable": basically a piece of music that has no prospect of ever being replicated, that only exists in one moment of time (when I make it) and needs to have no grounding in anything formal either rythmically or lyrically. Part of it has developed as I've gradually become more and more used to playing music in isolation, and partly it has developed as a true recognition that the professionalization of music -- the recording of it by "experts" and our general scorn of amateur music -- has pushed the real joy of music (the playing) out of reach for the rest of us.

Before I forget, I encourage all of you to post-hastily cease your voyeristic peerings into my vapid and unecessarily cluttered musings and head to the vapid and unecessarily cluttered musings of the dread pirate English Jo, the world's only Oklahoma-born Englishwoman with a bona fide English drawl (and brand-new blogaholic). She's at (not exactly sure what "odge" is but I suspect it is some sort of rank Pirate torture consisting of force-feeding victims a mixture of bilge water and wormy salt-crackers unto death). A note for those of you who see her jolly roger gaining upon you or hear her throaty song upon the wind: fly, FLY. Her song goes like this: "Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest, Yo Ho Ho and a bottle of piss." Or so I'm told, never having heard it myself. (She doesn't drink rum. Rum is for wussies.)

[Clay Sails can be found cowering in fear at]