Friday, April 28, 2006

Coachella Valley And the Unforgiving Sun

If you have a vote for a band that you want me to see in your honor, or in your stead that is appearing at the Coachella Music Festival then you have approximately twelve hours to make that desire known in a post, here.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Part IV, Chapterlet 5

At the exact moment that Tino’s hammer’s claw pierced the crown of Ray Chang’s skull and buried itself in his brains, Ray Chang’s spirit crossed the barrier, and Kennedy finally got her head all the way around her idea.

Part IV, Chapterlet 4

When Tino chickens out and walks back to the car, he sees Kennedy’s skipped. He doesn’t really care. He mostly doesn’t care about much, actually, which is why its interesting that this kid’s got him all riled. He gets in the car and pulls the door shut, sitting in the dark and looking mostly at the apartment complex. The hammer, too. It’s a Vaughan no. 9. Not heavy. Says 10 oz on the side.
Tino’s unsure where he picked up the carrying around a hammer thing. He’s got a bunch of like hammers, now. It’s the kind of thing that mostly just gets carried too far, with everybody having like a signature item. It’s mostly like that, but it’s also like a hammer’s got a use. It’s not just flash. That kid that runs with Billy, Jay something, he uses knuckles. That’s just ignorant. Under the tape, the hammer’s wood is mostly white with the dark parts of the grain running up parallel and evenly spaced.
If the cops find a hammer in your car, it’s not like a big thing. Keep some vise grips and a couple screw drivers and a old ratchet set, too, makes it look like your ride’s a piece of shit and you need to like work on it. Which isn’t stretching it. On the opposite tip, they find knuckles in your car, your going in, just on probable. Suspicion.
His dad’s the one told him how to look for the direction of the grain. He wonders where the Chang kid gets the sheer balls. He remembers picking this one out of a drawer at the hardware store. There was a bunch of the same kind of hammers and he looked through until he found one he liked. And the rest, as they say, is mystery.
He misses Kennedy. She’s good for filling up space, making things less quiet. The radio’s broken or he’d turn that on, and he’s been listening to the same fucking CD for weeks, now, since probably Joey borrowed his cds from the floorboard without checking to see if maybe he wanted to change the CD.
The handles are always curvy in a way that makes him think about them like girls. Not think about them like he thinks about girls, but think about them as if they were girls. Not in a sexual way, he doesn’t think.
Because Chang doesn’t really run with anybody. There’re a couple cars there, now, but that’s like a unique party situation. Chang probably wants to set up a more kind of upscale, people come to him kind of place, instead of having people out on the street pushing. Which to Tino sounds mostly like waiting for cops to kick your door in.
He’s never named one or anything like that, but he mostly thinks of this particular hammer in terms of like how he thinks about a girl, and that freaks him out a little bit. But isn’t it like common to give your item a girl’s name. BB King’s got a guitar with a girl’s name. So it’s not perverted. Billy’s .45’s named Marta, which Tino personally thinks is a stupid name. It’s the lightest hammer he’s got. Maybe he’ll ask the philosopher.
He lights a cigarette, thinks about quitting. Unless, if you buy off the cops. Then it would be way more comfortable.
The thickest part of the hammer is the very end of the handle. Tino thinks of this as the butt. Then it gets a little bit narrower and goes back out in a bulge in the middle that’s not quite as thick as at the very end of the butt, and then it gets really skinny at the neck.
He’s calmer now, seeing the angle. Set up in a more upscale apartment type place in a good neighborhood and give the cops a piece. No more standing out in the cold. No more getting busted for like loitering by cops sure he’s holding as if anybody’s that stupid anymore. The Chang kid used to call him Tin Man in middle school. Like if I only had a.
The neck is so skinny it looks like fragile, like a pencil. On both sides of the tape there’s smut from where the glue of the stickers it came with gets dirt and crap stuck to it. Lighter fluid’d get that smut off. The head has a round sticker still on it that says Proud to Say Made in USA which Tino thinks isn’t very catchy on your scale of one to catchy. He picks at it with his non-smoking hand.
Tino can see the like couple of cars that were probably there to party with the Chang kid are filling with laughing people and about to bounce. He always smokes with the same hand. It was, he’s thinking now, probably not a good idea to yell at the old man.
The front of the handle—Tino knows the front part of the head that he calls the nose is for hitting nails and the back, vee-shaped part that he calls the claw is for pulling them out—the part that’s toward the nose has two places where the grain comes together and makes almost shapes like rings when you skip rocks.
He would’ve known which side of the hammer was forward even if his dad didn’t tell him. You can like feel it when you hold it with the weight all out front. But Tino mostly likes to swing the hammer so that it hits with the claw part. This is good for lots of carnage with little to no work. There’s Chang going back in to his place, alone. It could totally work, but not with two crews running the same game in South Tulsa—too many cops to buy, too many people would know. More people knowing means more people wanting in on the action, more people talking and the like. But more talk means more business.
The weight makes it awkward to hold with the claw forward though, so he always holds it with the nose forward and does like a little spin thing when he pulls back to throw down. No. Better to just have one crew running it. Simple is better. The old man’s mantra.
He looks down. Some ash has fallen on his pants while he’s been picking at the sticker.
Is the old man really out? He shouldn’t have yelled. That’s going to come back to bite his ass. His temper is like his worst enemy. It’s why he hasn’t tried to start his own crew before now. He knows that the temper makes a truly business-like crew difficult to work.
It’s irritating when the hammer slips. That’s why the tape. That and this is like Billy claims no-print tape, but Tino’s not sure he buys it. It’s on all the grips of like Billy’s boys’ guns, but, for real, if the tape worked, wouldn’t cops be out of a job? So it’s mostly for the slipping.
The worst is when the hammer half spins because of the slip, and it comes down sideways like a tee. It goes right up your elbow, and you can feel it in your teeth. Tino throws the cigarette out the window.
“Fuck it,” he says.
He opens the car door and closes it with a creak. His breath puffs out bright in the apartment complex light. He slides the hammer up the sleeve of his coat. The points of the claw poke into his palm, and one cuts him a little making him say fuck as he walks and tries to hold the hammer up his sleeve like he’s not holding anything. The weight makes it difficult.
Sometimes, when he’s pulling back to throw down, the weight makes it feel like the hammer wants to hit him, it comes back so smooth. He dreamed about it once, about the weight shifting in his hand until he lets go, and a little crab like thing with a claw and a cartoon nose jumps at his face, scuttling around on one leg that’s moving too fast to see, kicking little bits of bone into the air that rain down all around with a sound that sounded like hail as it came. He can remember waking up from that one yelling with like sweat all over, absolutely soaked, his head aching and the sheets just stuck to him, and when he looked in the mirror all he could see was that the whites of his eyes were mostly showing, so it looked like his eyes were just loosely hanging there in his head, about to fall out. He had thrown up, shaky and holding onto the toilet with both hands and his face in the bowl making it sound like the ocean.
He holds his coat closed with his smoking hand and adjusts the hammer. Sweat pours into the cut, and it stings like a bitch. He feels adrenaline hit his head so hard it makes his face flush, and that makes it burn and tighten in the cold. His scalp pulls back and he can hear that little tiny creak from his ears being pulled up with the scalp. If you asked him right then, standing there outside Raymond Chang’s apartment about to throw down on him, asked him what he would name the item right then, and said that you would blow his brains out if he didn’t, like if you held a gun to his head, he would probably say to fuck off. But, right then, with his personal blood making little drips on the concrete in front of the door, the name he was thinking was Veruca.

Part IV, Chapterlet 3

“See, it’s like this: I met Star through her uncle, Henry Lee. Henry Lee isn’t—I guess wasn’t really her uncle. He just happened to be a like business acquaintance of her own really real family in Japan. I know I’ll catch hell from my rep, but I figure a little goodwill goes a long way with the Finest. Usually…and so you’ll probably hear it all anyway…As in, like, the kind and level of business that is more like a multi-national corporation than like a bullshit cosa nostra like family kind of business…All I know is, she ran away from there, ended up here, and it wasn’t far enough because Henry Lee found and “adopted” her…No, she’s independent…What do you mean, Reason? We were—I mean we are...he’s my friend. My rep get here, yet?”

Part IV, Chapterlet 2

When they pull up outside of Ray’s apartment—‘the Chang kid’ has a first name that she knows and knows that Tino knows because they played foursquare together for Christ’s sake—when they pull up, Tino turns the car off and just sits there in the dark with the headlights off and Kennedy listens to the engine ticking and rattling in the cold. Her mom said once that that sound was made by a fan or something that was still spinning. Kennedy herself is superstitious about causes and avoids pinning things down with causes. This serves her lateral thinking well, the Sad Man says, but he always says it like there’s something funny about lateral thinking, and then he normally says that with a little focus, she could be a great strategist. Anyway, getting pinned down by causes is a good way to end up playing defense—which is something she pretty much despises in chess, especially the top-level, nationally ranked speed chess that she plays. She’s currently ranked number 12 nationally, in under 16s. It’s something of a riddle to her why speed chess players aren’t as good as regular players, or why the Sad Man can beat her at whatever kind of game easily, even tiddly winks she’s sure, but always takes as much time as he can—there’s never anything left on his clock at the end of the game. A riddle, sure, but the kind of riddle that pins you down, gets you thinking about causes instead of now, and now is definitely when Tino is reaching over her and opening the glove box and pulling out this claw hammer. The hammer is a regular hammer but it has weird, discolored tape on the handle. Tino’s holding it, looking over into the apartment complex. Kennedy thinks about saying something. Then something kind of clicks, and she realizes that her best bet is to let him go and do this completely stupid thing that he’s going to do and also that her best bet is to not be fucking there and witness/ be an accomplice to this incredibly ill-advised action, as Bones would no doubt say. But the idea is much bigger than that. She can’t quite get hold of it, but she can hear that clicking echoing around inside the idea and she doesn’t know what to think.

Part IV Motion Without Cease? Chapterlet I

IV. Motion without Cease

Ginger peach wild honey cedar flavor making her swallow, Kennedy presses her whole face into the darkness of Star’s pushed up skirt and gives a little shake as she hears a voice calling out Star’s other name in the nighttime behind her. This little shake was more to catch her breath, actually, and break the seal, but it seems to have done the trick because Star’s belly is jerking like ah, ooh, ah, and Star—Kennedy can tell without even having to look that Star is making her O face, the one she only makes for big ones, with those weird tapering but plump lips with their smeared lipstick like eating each other up and writhing against her face like snakes mating somewhere up overhead. Then Star’s pubis bumps Kennedy’s upper lip in a really satisfying way like she knows she’s going to have a fat lip from it, but even though it’s satisfying Kennedy’s not sure the gesture was automatic like the spasming belly was and can imagine that it was probably dismissive, like her cue to stop. She lets go of the thong she’s been holding to the side and watches it not quite slide back into place as she rocks back on her heels and then up, aching. Knees, neck, back, lips, fingers, lips. Aching.
Kennedy tries to kiss Star, but Star turns so she only gets her on the cheek and tries not to pout as Star wipes off her kiss. Sometimes she likes to be kissed on the mouth after, sometimes not. Anyway, it’s no skin off Kennedy’s dick as she roots around in the damp at the base of the creepy statue with the slack like O face that statues sometimes have, especially statues of women, or maybe that’s just Kennedy. She thinks of the ecstasy of St. Theresa. She finds her purse and brushes some dew off it before looking in her bag. She checks the time on her phone. No messages. Star’s not even making eye contact, looking over Kennedy’s head. Kennedy knows she’s thinking about Her, so she just leaves. She’s got to meet Henry and Tino anyway. And maybe later play Go with the Sad Man.
She always feels really weird and cramped and generally unpleasant when she thinks about Go and the whole Go situation after she’s just Xed Star, but then she thinks about how amazing Star is and gets all desperately clammy in her head and her thighs get all tense and thinks that there’s no way in hell she’ll give any of it up. She’ll die first. Anyway, she’s gotta get paid and complicating the whole Star, Sad Man, Henry, Tino situation would be bad news for everyone involved so she just shoves everything down and just boxes it and thinks about getting paid and moving product.
Downtown, she gets to Henry’s and takes the freight elevator up the fourth and gets out. She can hear Tino yelling before the elevator even stops. He’s yelling his usual bullshit about turf and expansion, and she can tell that Henry’s not even listening by hysterical Tino’s getting. Sure enough, she turns the corner into the office and the Sad Man’s sitting there, playing Go, and Henry’s kinda watching him play by himself with that sickly smile that makes his lips disappear even further into the burnt parts of the skin around his mouth. Tino’s forehead is bright purple, and if Kennedy couldn’t hear him yelling, she’d probably think that he was choking, she thinks, looking at how the color pushes all the way around the forehead and makes the tips of his ears wildly differently colored before disappearing down the neck of his shirt. Tino’s spitting, he’s so angry. Kennedy can tell this is pretty much it. But, right then, of course, The Sad Man notices her, making some crack about how Tino’s secretary is there and maybe could she take dictation because the Sad Man does not want to feel the sadness of these words being lost in the ceaseless flow of time. That’s pretty much how he always talks.
But then so Tino turns around and tells her to get her shit they’re leaving, and she says “I just got here,” but he doesn’t even slow down, he just grabs her arm and heads out into the hall. His grip hurts Kennedy’s arm, but she doesn’t complain. She has like a cartoon like image of her coming along behind Tino like a balloon on a string as he charges toward the stairs. The echoes in the room are wild with his almost running and her stumbling to not get pulled off her feet. She manages not to fall as he drags her down the stairs and through the parking lot and into the car.
He puts the keys in the ignition but doesn’t start the car. He rolls his window down and lights a cigarette. She can see he’s calmer now. He takes a long drag and talks out the smoke. “Henry’s retiring.”
Kennedy says, “That why you were so pissed?”
“No.” He takes another drag. “He won’t front me the cash to buy in with his supplier. Thinks the business should go to the Chang kid.”
“Well, ‘the Chang kid’ is in the family.” She knows that they went to school together and that calling him kid is just one of Tino’s ways of trying to assert control over a seemingly random universe, is Kennedy’s private take on the whole epithet.
“And I’m not?” He’s working himself back up again.
“Hell, no. You’re not even Chinese.” She shivers a little. It’s getting colder in the car because of the window being down.
“Neither is the philosopher.” The philosopher is what everybody calls the Sad Man. Kennedy only calls him the Sad Man when no one’s listening.
“The philosopher isn’t looking to buy into a Triad franchise while not being a Triad—let alone not being Chinese.” This is, looking back, probably what got Kennedy started thinking about how she could make her own move, really.
“I’m gonna go see that Chang kid.” Tino’s not even listening anymore. Kennedy thinks he probably stopped listening to anyone else a long time ago.
“Whatever,” she says, “drop me at my house.” Kennedy knows what going to see someone normally entails and decides that she’d rather be home reading Tess of the D’Urbervilles for her chapter quiz on Monday. Not to mention that she’s got the Trig/Stat/Functions test review to finish.
“No, you’re coming. You want to be a part of this or not?” He doesn’t even hear her say no, not really, she doesn’t really want to have anything to do with him or his “moves” or his “visits” and most of his not hearing could be put down to not caring, but probably some of it is caused by his diesel Mercedes’s engine waking up.

The Irvine Post Dispatch

I am going to slap up a couple chapterlets, here. Be warned that, since you have read them, some of the previous chapterlets have been changed in significant ways that mostly concern the timeline. These changes are not reflected in the currently available online materials.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Adventure Continues

New links over there to your right. These people are worth your time. I know this because I have evaluated your time.

No, seriously. I get this report, and it tells me how much time you spend looking at this.

Then I run it through a complex set of algorithms that I have loosely designed after a cat's skull, and, in the end, I know what your time is worth.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Some words that don't concern history or class consciousness...

I seem to have passed my MA exam. I am now tentatively Master of Arts. The next step is to get together a list committee and start creating lists which will be used to create my qualifying exam questions.

My advisor turned out to be a good man to have at the exam. He directed things very well. Which I thought was surprising considering that he's pretty--what's the word?--somnolent most of the time.

I translated another movie pitch today, or, rather, last night. I'll put the finishing touches on it tomorrow. I like doing these things. For one, because it gives me a sense how little of an idea it takes to actually get something read. For two, because it takes my mind off of why in the hell I ever thought reading Lukacs ever again would be a good idea.

Don't know if Evil Dave reads this, but, if he doesn't, somebody should tell him just how funny that Secret Wars Reenactment skit was.

I've started futzing around with the novel project from November again. If you guys want to, I can slap another couple chapterlets up. I'll leave it in your hands.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Good news: no lupus and negative for rheumatoid factor. Bad news: I have cysts on the bones of my right wrist and hand that are the apparent cause of my pain in that area. I am being referred to a rheumatologist.

They moved my MA review, again. This time only to Friday. More as it develops.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The formless fears that haunt my flesh

Sorry about the brevity of the last post. It seemed funny at the time; indeed, it still amuses me, but I can recognize how some of you might have found its effect to be the production of a certain amount of anxiety. For that last, I apologize. By way of a larger explanation of that cryptic bit of humor, let me say that I feel modern doctors are not content to treat every problem one has unless they may treat those problems as symptoms of something larger. My evidence is that the last three doctors I have consulted have all found it to be worthwhile to hunt for a far-fetched, single, systemic cause to my various life-long complaints. Because I have recurring apthous ulcers and a mild case of psoriasis (two conditions which I developed simultaneously during the summer before seventh grade), combined with chronic joint pain (that I remember as far back as the age of eleven, then chalked up to "growing pains"), my doctor suggested that these problems could all be caused by lupus which is a genetically inherited systemic auto-immune disease that manifests itself in joint pain and lesions of the skin--apthous ulcers and psoriasis are not major skin diseases, but apparently they are adequate as signs of trouble. Alternately, I could just have recurring apthous ulcers, psoriasis, and joint pain--the cause of which could be tendonitis. The not-so-funny, downer side to the story (from my admittedly unique point of view) is that the joint pain could be the result rheumatoid arthritis, a far more likely condition for me to develop as both types of the disease are present in my parents (Mom has osteo- and dad has rheumatoid). So, they took my blood, screening me for the rheumatoid factor, for lupus, for triglycerides (because of the pancreatitis alert that you might remember from last year), for h. pilori (because of the acid reflux I have been experiencing more often in the last two years), and for lymphoma of the stomach (for the same reason), as well as for gout and one other mysterious test so vague that the answers I received when I asked about the reasoning behind it made me suspect that the Doctor had some arcane reason to get the total number of vials of my blood taken up to the alchemically and cabalistically important total of 7.

The comedy recap is: I could have gout! Only effetely aristocratic males of the 19th century like De Quincey get gout! Oh, how the world would seem gay if I had the gout! What's that? Gout is a horrifyingly painful disease that sometimes results in bony protrusions from the joints that will make me resemble some of Marvel's grittier mutants? Freude! Nay, how glorious it would be to have gout and lymphoma of the stomach!

Christ. So, you can maybe sorta see why I decided to think that it was funnier to sleep uneasily because of the threat of lupus instead of just kind of sob silently while considering cancer.

My doctor's advice was to lose 15 (more) pounds. I have begun that process in earnest.

On an unrelated--except that it is also an update on a previous post--note, my MA review is scheduled for April 19th at 1:00 in the afternoon.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Updates in haiku form

So, my computer

died. Those dicks messed with my car.

I might have lupus.