Sunday, October 18, 2009
Anyways, my best friend and co-conspirator Spencer Tweedy came over and, along with my brother, we mingled and frolicked. Here are some of my favorite pictures from the day:
Monday, February 16, 2009
Monday, February 2, 2009
Imagine that you are watching a movie. The first shot is of the moon, then the camera pulls back and the moon gets smaller, and soon you are looking at a bright urban skyline, with the lights in the windows like uneven clusters of paralyzed fireflies. The camera starts zooming in, closer, closer, until it goes through one of these bright windows. You see two men struggling with each other-- one is holding the other’s collar. He is holding a knife.
"Where's the money, Mondale?" growls the man with the knife, through a thick Eastern European accent.
" I told ya so, I don't got it, Petrovich," replies the other, with frightened eyes.
This is exactly what 498 people were watching, rapt with attention. The other two in the movie theater, who were not paying attention at all, went by the names of Julie and Mark Replin. They were married and arguing. Mark had forgotten to pick up the children after school two days ago. Julie said he was irresponsible. Mark got fed up, and left. Their arguments had been getting longer and worse over the past few weeks. He stalked outside of the movie theater into the gray, rainy spring day. Once outside in the fresh air, he started to calm down. He took out his Blackberry and started calling his girlfriend. He walked across the street, not noticing the “Don't Walk” signal, and a taxi nearly hit him. He raised his middle finger and yelled, "F*** you."
Haiter, the Middle Eastern man driving the taxi, swore back in Arabic. His passengers did not understand him, nor were they listening. They were a group of four young folks, all chattering about their stay in Chicago. Haiter was taking them to O'Hare, where they would catch a plane going back to San Francisco.
Haiter thought about his home for the first time in two years. He had been away for so long, he barely remembered anything. Baghdad was far away from him now. He thought of his mother, who had taken him in the dead of night when he was six, taken him out of the house and to America. She wanted to get away from her husband, Haiter's father. He had been a war veteran, and suffered severe post-traumatic stress disorder. On one occasion, he had become angry at Haiter's mother, and stabbed her three times in the leg. The next day, in the hospital, Haiter's father didn't remember any of it, and sobbed in regret and sorrow. He loved his wife and son very much, and they had no doubt of that. But they needed to get away. It was too dangerous. But this was all when he was a young boy. And as he got older, his memory got weaker.
"Hey you!" shouted one of the young people in the back. Haiter looked in the rearview mirror. She was pretty, but not sexy or beautiful. She was tall, and had blonde hair and fierce blue eyes.
"Yes, what is the problem?" asked Haiter absentmindedly.
"You missed our turnoff," growled the young woman.
Haiter looked around him. Indeed, they had passed O'Hare and were approaching the suburbs. "I'm so very sorry. We will only have 2 minute delay," apologized Haiter. He got off the highway, turned around, and two minutes later, they were at the American Airlines terminal at O'Hare Airport. Haiter let them out, without another thought to Baghdad.
Angela got out of the taxi and waved goodbye and thank you to the friendly Arab who had driven them there. At first she had been angry that he missed their stop, but she could never stay angry for very long, at anyone.
"Rotten camel jockey," spat Brandon. "Could barely understand English." Well, there was one person at whom she could stay mad, and that person was Brandon. She really hated Brandon. It was hard not to; the other two, Rory and Andy, hated him, too. Rory thought he was a numbskull; Andy thought he was a jock; Angela thought he was an asshole. They all had their reasons, but the feeling was the same. He went to their school, and had gotten word of their trip to Chicago. He had tagged along with them, literally followed them to the airport and onto the plane. At that point, it was no use trying to get rid of him. He followed them everywhere they went, and they were to goodhearted to totally get rid of him. And now he was following them back to San Francisco, where they hoped, after they graduated, they could get rid of him once and for all.
The group moved through security, and over the loudspeaker they heard that their flight was about to leave. They quickened their pace. After a minute they realized that Brandon was no longer running with them.
"Huh? Where'd Brandon go?" inquired Andy. Angela searched above the heads of the crowd; she was exceptionally tall-- and spotted him in line at McDonald's. She groaned, ran up to him, grabbed him by the collar, and dragged him until they were walking in the jet-way. They hurried into the plane, but found that their seats were taken.
"I'm sorry, I think you have our seats," said Angela politely. Before anyone could respond, the flight attendant apologized, "I'm awfully sorry, this plane's full... you'll have to catch the next flight." The posse looked dejected. One of the men sitting in the aisle felt bad.
"I don't have to take this flight. One of you can have my seat." he smiled. The three looked at Brandon.
Back in the terminal, Angela, Rory and Andy conversed with Michael, the kind man who had relieved them of their burden. They talked for a little while, but soon they had to part ways, and they waved kind goodbyes to each other.
Michael Lesser did, in fact, have to take that flight. He just hated to see such young people so sad. Michael was 60 years old, although he looked more like 35. He worked very hard on his physical appearance. He found that children thought he was less threatening if he looked like a movie star.
Once he was out of the airport, Michael Lesser stopped to greet an old friend on the street. His friend was Molly Brown, who was fourteen years old. They talked for a few minutes, making her late for her ballet rehearsal. Her ballet teacher had been having a particularly bad day, and got so fed up that she walked out of the rehearsal. She went to a restaurant where she had an emergency brunch with her psychiatrist, Gwyneth. The ballet teacher told Gwyneth all about her troubles for an hour. Gwyneth left, and having nothing better to do, she decided that she would call her chauffeur early; she was quite well off and got driven around in a limo. He arrived and she jumped in. The driver, who had forgotten about Gwyneth’s appointment and was late for a social arrangement with a fellow driver named Haiter, was going especially fast.
And it just so happened that at that exact moment, the movie was ending, and a crying Julie Replin was stumbling out of the theater, not paying attention to the crossing signals. Gwyneth was on the phone. The driver was looking at his watch. Julie was looking at the ground. The light was green.
And at the precise second that the limousine smashed into Julie, and as her bones crushed and her skull cracked, leaving a trail of blood smeared across the road, Mark Replin, Haiter, Brandon, Angela, Andy, Rory, Michael Lesser, Molly Brown, and the ballet teacher all sneezed.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Monday, December 15, 2008
The chain of events is as follows: Norwood’s sister gets married to a guy who he dislikes; Norwood meets a con man who gives him a car and tells him to drive his annoying lady to New York, where he will receive money; Norwood figures he’s been duped and leaves the stolen cars and Yvonne in the middle of the desert (actually, Yvonne drives away); He hops a train, on which a hobo steals his boots while Norwood is sleeping; Norwood jumps off train, buys shoes from two wanderers; Gets on a bus where he sorta--and that is a key word-- falls in love with this girl; they stop in a town so the girl (Rita Lee) can go break up with her boyfriend; Meanwhile, Norwood meets the world’s second smallest perfect man; He tags along with them; Norwood also takes along a “college educated” chicken from an amusement park booth; On the way back, they stop at an old Marine Corps buddy of Norwood’s and get back the 70 dollars he owes him; He returns home, runs into guy that gave him the stolen cars, beats him up; He goes home. See, that is the most abridged way of summarizing it as I could muster. No doubt Norwood will have other similar adventures, but Charles Portis purposefully doesn’t delve into them. I think he did this because he only wanted to illustrate one period of this man’s life, and he does so with such great characters and wry humor that he, somehow, pulls it off.
My only qualm with Norwood is that once I finished it it left me with a sort of empty feeling. It’s difficult to explain, but it made my life, and everyone’s life, extremely, painfully mundane. And truthfully. Rather than making you think your life is mundane, he makes you realize your life is mundane. And that is a feat on it’s own.
And Charles Portis does all this while remaining extremely humble and unassuming, I think. Whatever you think, I highly recommend this book, even if it was written in ‘66. You will not be sorry.
Friday, December 5, 2008
The Organic Grower's Guide to Vegetable Production
Vol. 1: Getting Started
By Hayden Holbert, senior country correspondent.
Vegetable growers do much more than produce vegetables. They also manage money, people, and natural resources. In fact, the growing is often the easy part. It's the part of adding the existing wealth of the soil in an attempt to adress the systems that comprise a vegetable farm. Marketing, soil, cover crops, compost, and pest management are all things incorporated into a succesful farm.
With sufficient experience under your belt, the next thing to do is locate a piece of land suitable for vegetable production and marketing. A piece of land at least three acres is plenty, and a good water source is recommended. It is also important not to go into debt. The organics business is a business unknown to many wealthy undertakers and can be unpredictable.
Soil fertility is of primary importance to vegetable production. Deep, well drained loamy soild are the most productive and responsive in terms of weather management. Nonetheless, soils of lesser quality can be improved, but this will be a long term task. Soils with sandy texture that excessively drain water can be useful for early season production. It will thrive on regular inputs of organic matter and frequent irrigation. Heavy textured soils that contain a lot of clay and drain poorly can also be improved with frequent organic matter additions and subsoil tillage. It is best to have a soil in the middle of these, but in my opinion it is better to have a soil on the heavier side. Availability is critical to vegetable growing. High quality soil might be able to produce good vegetable yields for some years without irrigation, but in a dry spell they will suffer considerable yield reduction.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Everyone knows that to get to the top, you have to start at the bottom. So your first step is, of course, becoming a peasant. All you have to do is pick a country to inhabit (particularly one with a broken economy) and invest most of your money into the broken economy. Or you can give it away. Once you have done that, you will have no choice but to start working for a living (this will come in handy later on). Eventually you will get mad at the terrible government and you will become a revolutionary. This is an important step. You must hold many rallies and protests (getting arrested if necessary) and capture the attention of the party leader. If he likes what you have done, he will appoint you a position in the party. After this, you must do all you can to help the party achieve a coup and take control of the government. Continue working your way up the power chain and making a name for yourself. A few ways to do this are making lots of public appearances, making a lot of friends within the party, and or begin writing for a hip magazine. Once you have made a name for yourself and gathered a considerable amount of followers, you can start accusing those under you of being dissidents from the party and having them exiled. This will greatly aid your climb upwards, which leads us to our next chapter,
Eliminating All Enemies
Continue exiling your underlings until you are just about at the top. Then, have a large group of people attack the leader and burn his house down. This will force him to leave the country, as he will believe it is no longer safe. Once you have done that, you are now the de-facto dictator. Eliminate every single other person in the government except for people who you absolutely trust. Even if they have been loyal all the way, it will still lower the probability of a revolution. Now that you are the official dictator, it’s time to start
Building Your Dictatorship
This is perhaps the most involved step of this whole bonanza. First things first: You must create an identifiable logo/color that is easily recognizable as the insignia of your empire (i.e. Hitler’s swastika or Mao’s red). Next put the insignia on the uniforms of all armed forces. After this, take the elite out of the armed forces and make a police force that will root out any dissidents and scare others from becoming dissidents. A secret police force is very important. They will enforce the censorship of the media and literature, they will get rid of all the intellectuals and put them to work, they will make sure everyone is saying your Oath of Loyalty (be creative-- they’ll have to say it no matter what!) This is the time when your dictatorship is booming-- almost everyone still believes that you are amazing, and industrial and agricultural production should be good, too, since everyone is working on farms and in factories. Meanwhile, you can bask in your own personal wealth and power. In your downtime, fashion a name for your dictatorship. Now that you have built your dictatorship, you are going to have to start working on
Maintaining Your Dictatorship
Around this time, people are going to start questioning you. At this point, production has gone down because people are tired of working so much, and since you gave the police force so much power, they are starting to get out of control. What’s more, your close friends are going to start realizing how old and unhealthy you look, and they will begin jockeying for power. But don’t lose faith! You can still make best with what years you still have left. It is now time to launch vigorous propaganda campaigns. You will have to work double time on convincing everyone that everything is a-okay. Make posters of healthy men and women working hard and being loyal to you. Also, keep exporting resources to keep other countries disillusioned on your success. Just because there’s a nationwide famine doesn’t mean you have to ruin foreign relations. This is also a good time to launch a Youth Education Program. The adults have already started heavily questioning you, so it’s time to start tapping in on those young, fresh, stupid minds. Take the manipulation as far as you can go. Make them say the oath of loyalty 4, maybe even 5 times a day. Make sure that your ideals are drilled in to their heads until they are practically vomiting it. Make yourself an icon of fear if you have to, anything to keep the passion alive after you are dead and gone. Which brings us to are last, but certainly not least, chapter:
Making An Exit
You’re old. You’re sickly. It’s time to go, and you know it. Now you have two choices: 1) Select a successor and leave with a decent amount of peace and tranquility, or 2) Launch a major, violent purge against a single group of people (religion or race, it doesn’t matter) and exile/execute them. This will leave the country in shambles, and while you are resting quietly in your grave, they will be left with no choice but to piece the country back together, bit by bit. W
The first choice is obviously the more reasonable one, but the second is much more fun. It doesn’t matter, you’re the dictator, you can do whatever the heck you want! Which is one great thing about being a dictator.
Well, I hope you enjoyed your lesson. Join us next time, when you will learn more about how to have a revolution and a military coup! Thanks, and have a lovely empire!