Thursday, July 28, 2005

Almost Worse Than School Shootings

Teen who threw up on teacher sentenced

By Associated Press
Published July 27, 2005, 5:14 PM CDT

OLATHE, Kan. -- A high school student convicted of battery for vomiting on his Spanish teacher has been ordered to spend the next four months cleaning up after people who throw up in police cars.

Johnson County Magistrate Judge Michael Farley said during the sentencing Tuesday that he considered the boy's actions "an assault upon the dignity of all teachers."

The teen, now 17, vomited on teacher David Young as he turned in his textbook on the last day of classes at Olathe Northwest High School. His attorney, Brian Costello, said the student vomited because he was nervous about his final exams.

But two other students testified that the teen said he threw up intentionally. One girl said he told her in advance that he planned to throw up on Young on the last day of school. The girl wasn't in class when the teen threw up, but she testified that the boy later told her, "You missed it. I did it."

Young said the student, who was failing his class, made no effort to avoid throwing up on him. "I was just sort of stunned," he said.

Thanks be to Lo for sending me this bit of nastiness.

Winterson Interview by me

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Speaking of Harry Potter, I saw the last film, Prisoner of Azkaban, on cable the other day. I had already seen it in the theatre and was happier with it than I had been with the previous two movies. This is largely due to the darkness of the film, thanks given to director Alfonso Cuarón, but I like to think the series of wizard books gets darker with each extensive edition. Knowing that characters are starting to get plunked off like Agatha Christie’s ten little Indians, and that the power of magic has its price, it seems logical that the story would become less like Return of the Jedi and more like The Empire Strikes Back.

But really I think the reason the last movie was so good was because David Thewlis was involved.

I have seen Mike Leigh’s Naked over 50 times. It just keeps getting better. Thewlis gives what has become my favorite performance by any actor in any film. He’s incredible. I realize there are perhaps more famous performances (Brando in On the Waterfront, Brando in The Godfather, Jean Paul Belmondo in Breathless) but the following are my favorites and, well, I like cult movies. My other nominees in no order:

John Turturro in Miller’s Crossing

He only has a handful of appearances but each one is dynamite, especially the famous walking through the woods/pleading for his life scene. His work with the Cohen brothers is always interesting (Jesus in The Big Lebowski being especially crazed) but for my money, this is his finest work with Barton Fink being second.

John Mahoney in Barton Fink

Speaking of the Cohen brothers. Channeling William Faulkner, Mahoney adopts the drunken southern writer persona and runs with it to a great place. His dialogue could have been plucked from Go Down, Moses and when he chastises Judy Davis by saying, “The truth is, my honey is a tart who does not bear scrutiny” it’s pure gold. And he sings a great version of “Old Black Joe”.

Willem Dafoe in Wild at Heart

Bobby Peru is the slimmest, sleaziest, most menacing fuck ever in any movie. I am not too fond of this film overall, but Dafoe makes it worth seeing.

Harvey Keitel in Bad Lieutenant

Over the top? A bit. Intense? Extremely. A lot of people love this movie, but I think more hate it. I love it and I think Harvey does something here few actors would have the guts or ability to do. Outstanding.

Zbigniew Zamachowski in Three Colors: White

Combining humor and pathos to create a truly great character, Zamachowski makes my list. This may be the weakest of the trilogy but this performance is of serious note. Zamachowski carries this film as the put upon loser who transforms himself, gaining that oh-so-important equality. By the way, the weakest of Krzysztof Kieslowski’s films is probably better than anyone else’s best work.

Joseph Cotten in The Third Man

Dime store writer, Holly Martins comes to Vienna to meet an old friend (and get a job) and gets involved in a mystery. A classic and Cotten knew exactly how to play it. Nothing makes me laugh quite like a writer of pulp westerns having to address a European crowd of intellectuals on the subject of the modern novel.

Orson Welles in The Third Man

Brief appearances in this film, but Welles manages to (almost) steal the picture as Harry Lime. Worth it for the famous “cuckoo clock” speech.

Orson Welles in Lady From Shanghai

Just because of the Irish brogue.

Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove

All three performances are great, but especially the title role. Bizarre like only Sellers could pull off. A lot has been said of Sellers and his wacky roles, but none was ever as strange and hilarious as this.

Roman Polanski in The Tenant

“You filthy little brat!”

Béatrice Dalle in 37°2 le matin AKA, Beatty Blue

A mad mad mad mad woman. It’s hard to pick who's better in this otherwise tiring film, her or Jean Hugues-Anglade. Both are outstanding and intense but she manages to capture a rare kind of madness and passion that is kind of breathtaking. Still, I’ve seen this movie three times and feel as though I am changed as a result. It was truly taxing the third time around despite the amazing moments and, great acting aside, I'm done with this film.

Jack Nicholson in Five Easy Pieces

I love Jack and will sit through Wolf or As Good As it Gets just to see him do what he does, which is basically play Jack. But it all begins here for me. Some will cite Cuckoo’s Nest or Easy Rider, but this is Jack at his best.

Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hudsucker Proxy

Mostly just serving the audience a pastiche of Bettie Davis and Katherine Hepburn, Leigh still hits every line and every look perfectly. I wish she would do more of these roles and quit playing a goddamn hooker with a heart of gold.

Helen Mirren in The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover

A unique movie with some astonishingly bizarre moments. I love everything about this film and that includes Helen “I was in Caligula” Mirren as the abused wife. She plays it cool, with class and hot hot passion in the kitchen. It is difficult to imagine anyone else in the role. Similarly…

Michael Gambon in The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover

I can’t see anyone else playing Albert Spica. He is everything Mirren isn’t: rude, crass, violent, destructive, and utterly without class or reason. In other words, he’s the perfect villain.

Ray Milland in The Lost Weekend

My favorite drunk in a film.

Okay, more soon, but that’s enough for now.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Everyone's favorite wizard outside of a Black Sabbath song

I am not reading the new Harry Potter book, but I know the secrets of the story and am dying to reveal them to some wizard-worshipping devotee. So, if anyone wants to know the shocking plot twists, let me know and I’ll drop you a private email

For the record, even though I feel fantasy novels are uniformly rotten piles of crap, I can understand the appeal of Harry Potter and wish to god that Rowling was writing these books when I was a wee lad. I’d have been on the bandwagon. At this point in my life, well, I have not got the time. People consistently tell me I NEED to read them anyway. If I like them, I tell them they NEED to read Bulgakov; if I don’t like them I say they NEED to leave me alone.

There is something about Harry Potter that kids of all ages love. Maybe after all eight or however many books are written, long after I get done with Musil, Dostoyevsky and grad school—long after I retire from whatever position I find myself in— I will want to sit back and enjoy the saga of a boy who is learning to be a wizard and gets treated like royalty even though he is a novice conjurer. For now, I’ll wait for the movies.

I cannot, by the way, condone the attack on the Harry Potter series launched by many of the literati. I like to read and think my tastes are pretty damn good. I’ll defend anything on my bookshelf. I do not need to lambaste any kid’s book—or any book really—simply to prove to the world that I have read “serious” literature. I do not need to pretend that I know the difference between real literature and junk.

I do know the difference, by the way. Glancing through the latest Harry Potter book, I would hesitate to put it with Orson Scott Card or any of that Sci-Fi/Fantasy gibberish. Still, this probably means that the publishing industry will only be interested in skulls, snakes and wizards and stories of magic and fanciful British characters. There goes my chance of ever getting published.

Friday, July 22, 2005

$50 to get to work?

Not quite "Shut Up, Little Man!" but in the continuing series of man's inhumanity to man (or in this case, mother to son) I present this odd little piece of flotsam which just washed up on the Hungry Inferno shores.


She says we are building our longing
With days at rest and nights
Full of crybaby tears.
She has arms of pure sunlight
And my tongue feels heavy and incomplete
Outside of her mouth.

I would pluck every star from the night sky
And drown them in the ocean;
I would gladly slaughter every tree,
Smother the polar caps in black tar,
Choke the life from angles,
Stab the true savior in the back
If it granted me another night of tasting her body.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Like everyone, I have mine. Like everyone, mine is often foolish.

I don’t care to romanticize the more lackluster days of my past, suffice it to say that I was once in a worse place than I am currently (which is not saying much).

10 years ago I was unemployed, from June to January—fat, lazy and stupid. The summer was the worst Chicago has seen. Record heat indexes and hundreds of related fatalities. People were dropping dead in their stuffy apartments. Cooling centers were opening up to allow the elderly and feeble denizens a respite from the weather. During this time I lived in a few different apartments, none of them with air conditioning. It would have been nice to have a job to go to so I could’ve cooled off for 8 hours.

I did some odd jobs, I sweat, I labored, I ached, I felt sick. I nearly passed out a few times on the streets, the heat coming out of the asphalt like a goddamn oven. It was a rough time. During all of this, I vowed I would not ask my family for money. I had my pride.

I could have gotten a job but my pride always seemed to get in the way. I was a host at Bakers Square for a week when the manager made a mistake with the schedule and I told them to forget it, I wasn’t coming back. I worked in a telemarketing office for a little while, long enough to make one sale, netting me a heavily taxed paltry amount. I cashed the check and never went back. I did this a few times at a few places. I went to interviews, bringing my resume and my attitude. I didn’t get any of these jobs. The worst night was as a busboy in a pizza place where I was on “audition” for the job. I did my best but the other bus boys were faster and I didn’t clean many tables. I was not asked back. They paid me in cash and I spent it on two slices of their pizza, a pack of smokes and a 40 of malt liquor. That left me with a cool 3 bucks to live on.

I suppose we all think we are better than something, meant for greater things and on the verge of our own version of success. I had no reason to think such things. I was a college drop out, a bum who might have been homeless were it not for patient roommates—a fool suffering from absurd delusions. Pride makes us think we are better than we are. There is nothing wrong with washing dishes and scrubbing floors. Pride tells us we should be something more.

Pride wears thin in the face of adversity. By summer’s end I swallowed mine, picked up the phone and called my father. Thanks again, old man.

Monday, July 18, 2005


I need to lose about 10 pounds, and that is going easy on myself. I could do this; I know how. Eat less, exercise more. But I know I won’t. I like eating. I love a big meal, even though it makes me feel like shit. Italian food is my favorite, second is Japanese and third is Mexican. Polish food was always a favorite as well, but those all-you-can-eat perogis and potato pancakes are death. I have no control around a pizza and will eat it until it is mere memory, despite the bloated stomach and urge to vomit.

I just had a salad for lunch, which was good and I wasn’t really hungry so it seemed fitting. In the lobby of my office building, the landlord’s staff had set up free ice cream sundaes for all the tenants. I pushed through the crowd and got mine, despite not having a claim ticket. Someone recognized me and gave me my sundae anyway.

It was frozen yogurt but that is hardly justification for gobbling a sugar filled treat the very day I decide I must shed some weight. I only ate it because it was there and I am weak. And I ate the whole thing at my desk, where the actual ticket was waiting. Seeing it I thought, I could go and get another! I wrote this instead. I’m trying…

Saturday, July 16, 2005


I have so many ambitions and I spend so much of the time it would take to see them through on the couch, watching VH1, drinking Jack Daniels and thinking, “As soon as this episode of Seinfeld is over, I’m going to work out, start writing, finish one of the three books I’m reading, go for a walk, find meaning in this void of an existence."

I’m no different from the rest of you, and I’ll see you in Purgatory.


I was hurt and I struck back. I shot an arrow through your heart. It didn’t make me feel any better.

Paolo burns in Hell with Francesca, forever clinging together in the storm. Their fate is damnation, but they are together.

Thursday, July 14, 2005


I just confirmed with someone I barely know that I will be able to buy approximately one hundred books for one hundred dollars. The person in question is moving to London and selling their library, most of which has already been bought. I get the remains, but having looked at a list of titles, they are good leftovers. I will do this in a day or so, even though I don’t really have the money to spend. God knows I will not read any of them for a long, long time. I have to finish Musil’s The Man Without Qualities and Dubravka Ugresic’s Thank You For Not Reading before the summer is over, so I can start the fall semester of full time classes without being in the middle of other texts.

I don’t need these books but a deal like this is rare. I’m jumping on it, feeling fully justified in my actions. After all, these books would cost considerably more at a new bookstore. Then again, I wouldn’t have thought to buy them. It’s like the joke about a sale: “Look how much I saved by buying this on sale!” says the person holding the superfluous widget.

I know the truth. I am only buying these books because I don’t want someone else to have them. It burns me that someone already bought a part of this library. Someone beat me to it! How dare they! The titles are unimportant (even if I don’t like some I can always sell them, I tell myself, which, of course, I won’t ever do), what matters is that I will be surrounded by 100 more books that I can look at and say, “Mine, Mine MINE!” This greed for books is starting to make me broke, not to mention worried. I want these because someone else might get them if I don’t. I am the child who will break a toy rather than share it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


Beginning today is a series of posts about my committing the seven deadly sins. This coincides with rereading some of Dante’s Purgatorio as well as my ongoing internal debate over my fate in the coming afterlife. I must say that since I do not believe in eternal damnation or hell (other than the human manufactured version), I do not worry much about sinning. I have, to be sure, broken all the commandments, save for 2 very important ones, but the seven deadly sins seem to carry more weight with me. Anyway, I hope you (all 3 of you) enjoy.

I see him every week. He is a little taller than I, far thinner and has more defined features. His eyes are sharp and quite attractive, like mine might be were they not hidden behind glasses and constantly turning red due to allergies. His hair is as wild and curly as mine, only he wears it better—slicked with gel but not like a helmet. And he doesn’t cut those curls, he lets them grow messy and long and do as they please. Somehow it works. Mine grow messy and wild and do as they please and it makes me look like a clown.

He wears dress shirts, nicely pressed and rarely white, favoring subtle colors that match his slacks, lingering gracefully over polished leather shoes. My shirts wrinkle in the wind and my shoes seem to develop scuffs like children contract chicken pox—effortlessly and spreading with startling rapidity. He looks Greek.

I like to think I look just like him. I see him walking through city hall or with a cigarette (his teeth are dazzlingly white) making his way to his office, as I make my way to mine (with a headache, longing for coffee and fumbling for a match, feeling as neat and tidy as a hurricane ravaged city along the Gulf of Mexico). I see him and think, damn, that guy looks like me, but after a moment passes I realize he looks a lot better. Is it possible to be a would-be doppelganger?

Friday, July 08, 2005

Buy this CD

Maritime Rites by Alvin Curran.

Strange. Dark. Ambient. Lulling. Truly odd. My kind of thing.

Review here in case you don't trust me:

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

World's Ugliest Dog

Hairless Pooch Wins Ugly Dog Contest

Fri Jul 1,11:32 AM ET

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The owners of the other contestants in this year's World's Ugliest Dog Contest may have thought their pooches had a chance — until they saw Sam.

The 14-year-old pedigreed Chinese crested recently won the Sonoma-Marin Fair contest for the third consecutive time, and it's no surprise.

The tiny dog has no hair, if you don't count the yellowish-white tuft erupting from his head. His wrinkled brown skin is covered with splotches, a line of warts marches down his snout, his blind eyes are an alien, milky white and a fleshy flap of skin hangs from his withered neck. And then there's the Austin Powers teeth that jut at odd angles from his mouth.

He's so ugly even the judges recoiled when he was placed on the judging table, said his proud owner, Susie Lockheed, of Santa Barbara.

"People are always horrified when I kiss him. He may turn into a prince yet. He's definitely a toad," she said. "I always thought he'd be great on greeting cards or on a commercial for Rogaine."

Sam, who's pushing 15, has something of a cult following after winning the contest — and fans' hearts — for three years running. Last year, huge crowds gathered around Sam and Lockheed at a local parade and Lockheed said she received letters and calls about her pup for weeks.

"So many people have told me they've got his picture on their refrigerator. He certainly has a little cult following," she said. "I did years of professional musical theater and never achieved the fame Sam has."

Sam will appear in this weekend's Fourth of July parade in Santa Barbara, but the recent events may be the cap on a long, ugly career. Lockheed says Sam's now suffering from congestive heart failure, lung and kidney problems and has definitely slowed down in his twilight years.

Still, he enjoys regular gourmet meals of sirloin steak, cheese balls, roasted chicken and flan (so he'll swallow his multiple pills). He also passes occasional weekends at the Gaviota ranch of Lockheed's boyfriend, where the World's Ugliest Dog rides in the back of an ATV with his few remaining hairs wafting in the wind.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


Published on Thursday, June 30, 2005 by Go there for story in full.

To this day, the real 'firewall feed ban' necessary to stop mad cow disease in the United State has not been constructed. Officials of the United States Department of Agriculture simply lie to the press and public when they say, as USDA veterinarian John Clifford did on June 29, that a "ruminant to ruminant feed ban" prevents cattle protein from being fed to cattle in the US, cutting off the spread of the [mad cow] disease. In reality, as Clifford well knows, US animal feed regulations allow hundreds of millions of pounds of cattle blood and fat to be fed back to cattle each year, including the widespread weaning of calves on cattle blood protein in calf milk replacer and milk formula. In addition, one million tons a year of "poultry litter" is shoveled from barn floors at chicken factories and fed to cattle, although the spilled and defecated chicken feed in the litter can contain up to 30% mammalian meat and bone meal.

Far be it for me to preach, and just because I choose not to eat meat doesn’t mean everyone should (even though I think it disgusting to be a carnivore), but why not liven up this blog with some gory stories of the meat industry? If this seems too biased, read Fast Food Nation and think of that book every time you bite into a juicy, shit filled burger.

Movies Yet Again

Reversal of Fortune

It’s been a few years since I last saw this and I have been wanting to rent it again if only to see Jeremy Irons. Our Lady of the Assassins has become one of my ten favorite films, so the career of Barbet Schroeder is of sudden interest to me. To think he did that film as well as Reversal and Barfly and Single White Female… yeah, a checkered career.

Anyway, this is one of the few legal dramas I endorse. This and Witness for the Prosecution and The Verdict. And I only endorse these three films because of one of the actors involved. If Jeremy Irons made a film with Charles Laughton and Paul Newman it might just be the best thing the genre has ever produced. Sadly, these films are minorities cast out into a heartless world of mediocre legal thrillers all seemingly plucked from the pulp pages of John Grisham.


Having read the book earlier this year, I was interested to see what the story would become on celluloid. Not bad in the beginning, but it seems to loose steam once Billy Zane enters the picture. He is something of a virus, isn’t he? But Tilda was quite good as the androgynous Orlando and the Russian Princess was pretty hot. Her and Orlando would have made a cute couple… if only they could have worked it all out… [sniff].

Anyway, a nice looking film; the director certainly has an eye. Two, even.

Dawn of the Dead

Still the best zombie film, still Romero’s best effort, still makes me laugh and cringe.

Batman Begins

Finally, someone got it right. Chicago never looked better. Katie “cute as a button” Holmes was really a bad choice, all things considered. She does not possess the maturity to be believable as a DA and seems considerably younger than Christian “American psycho who could stab me any day” Bale. They were supposed to have grown up together, but I am splitting hairs here. She was, essentially, the bit-of-tail for this comic fantasy. But I really liked this film and thought it was better than that. It didn’t need a damsel in distress.

So this was quite good. Lots of action but not at the cost of a good story. Between this and the Spiderman films, and even that last X-Men movie, the comic book movies have never looked so good. Sadly, Fantastic Four looks like ass.

On a semi-relevant note, I got into a movie discussion with some man at a bar who I believe was attempting to pick me up. Perhaps I flatter myself. So anyway, this gentleman intruded on my conversation and, in a truly drunken manner, asked me some bizarre questions, one of which had to do with movies and why anyone even bothered to go when no good ones have been made since the 40’s. I mentioned the ‘70s and referred to it as the last great decade of American filmmaking, which resulted in laughter and him questioning my age. I told the old queen I was and am 34, which he didn’t seem to believe.

“Why would you want to be a filmmaker anyway?” he asked. I told him I don’t, never have and never will want any such thing. Making films seems to be a slow and agonizing process. I have not the patience for such folly.

“So what are you interested in?”


“Okay, then why is that interesting? What’s your favorite book?”

I walked away. When someone asks me what my favorite book, or favorite movie, is I usually say something smart-assed as there are no good answers to such questions. There are too many to name, despite trying on this web site profile. I would prefer to be asked, “What are you reading right now?” or “What was the last good book you read?” or “Seen any good movies lately?” So I walked away and risked offending the drunken gentleman. Later, at home, I realized I should have quoted Oscar Wilde to him, that line from the Dorian Grey intro about all art being useless, but that would be taking Wilde’s point out of context and bringing up Oscar to a man trying to pick me up might just be too encouraging.

I lay on the futon, turned on the TV and saw a little of Tommy Boy on TBS. Useless indeed.

Questions And All That Cal

So I got to meet and interview Winterson a little over three months ago. She reiterated something she wrote about in Art Objects, the idea that a novel should adhere to the 19th century tradition of omniscient narrator and linear story lines is dead, killed off by the advent of moving pictures and television. She compared it to photography freeing up painting so that artists were no longer obliged to create realism in their work. The same should work for literature, or so she says. If movies and TV are so good at straight forward storytelling, and able to do it with so much more engagement in less time (it takes a few sentences to describe someone walking down the street and into a building while this mundane action can be expressed in a few seconds of screen time) then why not allow fiction to flow into different territories? Modernism embraced this and it is to that school of thought that she has molded herself as a writer. I’m with her. I like a good story as much as the next guy, but why be slavishly bound to that approach? Think of Calvino, Borges, Alfau or any of that crew of inventive writers whose work charted new, exciting ground.

Rereading anything I have written suddenly makes me depressed. I offer nothing new or interesting, only recycled ideas and none of them very fresh to begin with. I am starting to think I am a better reader than writer, which I (and everyone) always knew anyway, but still…

It makes me wonder what the point is of continuing this blog. I could use it as an outlet for my boredom and frustration, or I could use it as a place to post half-assed writings (such as this). I could post pictures, if I knew how. I could tell the 4 people who come here about my day or some annoying thing that happened. My brother is better at this in his blog. His rants are always fun to read, more so than mine. And besides, who gives a rat’s ass about what I or anyone on the internet thinks?

On the internet, everyone will be famous for fifteen people.

Is there unlimited space on the internet? Is there room for all of these blogs? Do they eat up too much territory and if so, should we limit the number? Is this arena so vast? The universe is expanding, but does the internet work in a similar fashion? I wonder.

Perhaps this blog constitutes a frivolous boutique that could have been an outpatient clinic or 24-hour suicide prevention center. Maybe I ought to shut it down. Anyone want to give me a compelling reason not to?

Never mind, don’t. I am not fishing for compliments and I really don’t need the validation. I’m just wondering what purpose these things serve aside from the ego stroking, which is nice, of course. What can I do to make mine more interesting anyway?

Never mind. I’m not in the mood to debate the anonymous folk who will post rude comments. Fuck you ahead of time.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Another Future Scam to Ponder

Teacher accused of giving passing grades to students for burning her car

Wed Jun 29, 5:27 PM ET

HOUSTON (AP) - A chemistry teacher who was at least three months behind on her car payments gave passing grades to two failing students who stole and burned her car so she could collect insurance money, a fire investigator said.

Aldine Senior High School teacher Tramesha Lashon Fox, 32, was charged with insurance fraud and arson, and the two students were charged with arson.

Roger Luna, 18, and Darwin Arias, 17, had been failing Fox's class up to their final exam. But Arias received a 90 and Luna an 80, grades high enough for them to pass the semester, said senior fire investigator Dustin Deutsch of the Harris County Fire Marshal's Office.

Luna was arrested Tuesday. Bail was set at $10,000 and he was expected to be arraigned on Thursday, said Lieut. John Martin, spokeswoman for the Harris County Sheriff's Department.

Neither Fox nor Arias was in custody early Wednesday afternoon, and they could not immediately be reached for comment. No phone listings could be found.

The teens initially thought her scheme was a joke, but Fox continued to pursue them, Deutsch said. On May 27, the last day of school, the students took the unlocked 2003 Chevrolet Malibu from a shopping mall, drove it to a wooded area and set it on fire, he said.

Fox reported the theft that day, after already having bought a 2005 Toyota Corolla, investigators said. She owed about $20,000 on the Chevrolet and had been facing repossession, Deutsch said.

Aldine Independent School District officials said Fox remained employed while they waited to see the fire marshal's report. The students will probably be placed in an alternative school when they return, depending on what happens to them in court, school officials said.