Long before I actually really truthfully played the accordion as a member of the band Marianas, I was a moron in college who liked to sometimes pose for the camera. During my sophomore year of college, I lived on the floor of a dorm that was completely inhabited by other males, and as seems to be par for the course, several of them were into playing guitar.

One night, Mike (left), myself (middle), and Evan (right) all got together and formed an impromptu “band.” Of course, both Mike and Evan could actually play their respective guitars when they were plugged in, but for one moment, we posed like we were the most bad-ass finger-tapping, guitar-soloing, accordion-wheezing klezmer rock band around. Or something like that.

Actually, I just think the picture is kind of funny.

Mike, Aaron and Evan Rawk

(oh, and speaking of photos, thanks to Mouser for providing all these hilarious pictures of yore on a disc)

The Thin Blue Line directed by Errol Morris Last year sometime, TG and I ordered the box set of Errol Morris’ first three films. In order, they were Vernon, Florida, Gates Of Heaven, and The Thin Blue Line, and it’s interesting to watch the progression of Morris as a director and storyteller through these three documentaries.

I’d already seen The Thin Blue Line a couple years back, but TG never had and I wanted to see how it held up to a repeat viewing. Although it’s an easy film to digest just by watching it once, I felt like there were a lot of little things in it that I was able to pick up on the second time through, especially in the body language and in the odd wording of some of the interviews that Morris does with the different subjects of the film. Perhaps because it’s a bit older, and perhaps just because of the plain unique people in the film, it almost feels like a fictitious film at times, which makes it all the more haunting.

If you feel strongly one way or another about the death penalty, this is a movie that might just make you think about things in a different way or reinforce your beliefs. It shines a light on just how massively wrong a large criminal justice system (in Texas, interestingly enough) can get something and the consequences for one man because of that.

I’ve seen a lot of documentaries in my day, but this one is easily in the top five (like The Fog Of War, the score by Philip Glass is great). As a greedy film watcher, I wish that Morris would put out even more documentaries.

“I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. They did anticipate a serious storm. But these levees got breached. And as a result, much of New Orleans is flooded. And now we are having to deal with it and will.” – President George W. Bush on Good Morning America, Thursday Sep 1, three days after Katrina made landfall

Like just about anyone who follows politics and doesn’t get their news from a propaganda network, I realize that I shouldn’t put anything past this current administration. They’ve lied so many times in the past and I have a feeling that they’re just going to keep on pushing the lies until finally people wake up and realize that they’ve had enough.

The beautiful thing about the quote above and the linked video is that yet once again the president is completely caught in his lie. Unless he wants to argue that the video is edited, there is no getting out of this one and I for one hope that it plays (alongside his quote) on every single major news outlet for the next couple days.

It’s just one example, of course, and there are some people who still say that he’s doing the best he can and he’s a good Christian man so we should stand behind him because he’s our president that was elected by the majority of people, but this is a guy who on the above video heard dire warnings from a whole room of people (including the much-maligned Mike Brown) and then seemingly ignored them and went on literally three days of campaign stops (including this gem).

So yeah, I took a break from posting about politics on here, but this is something I read and think about too much to not write about. I want the Dems to collectively grow a backbone, I want GW’s approval ratings at sub 20%, and I want people to finally see what a complete debacle this administration has been. If I can help in that even a little bit, I’ll be happy man.

Over the course of the past nearly 2 months, I’ve managed to get myself back into serious fighting shape by exercising 4-5 times a week. I haven’t lost or gained any weight, but I can see a lot more definition and my cardiovascular limits have made huge strides.

So I’m at a work party on Thursday evening and for some reason the topic of being sick comes up. I mention to a friend that it’s been a long time since I’ve been sick, and how the last time I threw up was probably when I was in my teens.

Yeah, you probably know where this one is going.

Last night before bed, I wasn’t feeling too great, but figured a good night of sleep would help me shrug off whatever was bothering me. In the middle of the night, I woke up several times, sweating and having a hard time getting comfortable. At six, I realized there was no fighting it and went to the bathroom to get it all over with.

Over twelve hours later I’m gaining back a little of my strength, but still incredibly weak and generally not feeling so hot. After an accomplished day off on Friday and getting some stuff done on Saturday, I was thinking that I’d manage to get ahead on a few projects today by spending a large part of the day writing and reading. Alas, I spent large portions of the day sleeping and feeling completely beat down. In between naps, I still managed to get a few things accomplished, but as a whole my day was completely sidetracked.

It’ll be awhile before I start talking crap about not getting sick again.

the panapetFor some reason or another, some people are very surprised to find out that I’m secretly a sports fan. I don’t follow every sport, and I don’t get into professional teams at all, but for some reason I’ve become a big fan of both college baseball and football since I graduated from college.

Being from Nebraska, I suppose that the college football part of the equation was bound to happen, but I’ve also gotten so I really like having a baseball game on during the spring and early summer. It’s relaxing to me, and for some reason all the numerical components of the game really appeal to me (whether its batting averages, pitcher ERAs, or even how a double play was turned).

While thrift shopping a couple years back, I found a little AM radio from the early 70s that was made by Panasonic called the Panapet 70 (pictured). If one were to stretch, they could say that it was the ultimate precursor to portable audio, as it’s not only stylish, but it has a headphone jack and is even attached to a metal keychain. I can’t imagine anyone actually attaching the radio to their belt, but it does add a fun element to the little radio. For the next couple months, the Panapet and I will be good buddies.

Sadly, my goth and my “act like a ham for the camera” phase seemed to coincide during my first two years of college or so. There are many, many photos from this period, including some that make me cringe a little bit when I see them. It was during this time that I dyed my hair jet black and let it grow out to about shoulder-length, resulting in some minor questioning from my family and some odd looks (and rather vicious rumors) from people in my small town when I visited home during the holidays and summers.

I can’t seem to recall who took this particular picture, but for some reason it’s my favorite. It’s mainly because of the odd perspective, but partially because I’m not smiling at all, despite the cheesy finger-pointing pose. I was so, so, serious. Oh yeah, and to top it all off, I’m wearing a Nine Inch Nails t-shirt. Head like a hole, dudes!

a goth just floated by

During my junior year of college, there was a lip-sync contest held by some student organization or another. When it was first announced, I didn’t give it much of a thought, but as the deadline approached, my roomate Mouser and I decided that we should go ahead and enter. Instead of rehearsing or trying to set up any sort of choreography, we just decided to pick up some weird clothes from the local thrift store and wing it from there. At the time, Paul’s Boutique by the Beastie Boys seemed to be a popular favorite, and given the outfits that we found, we figured that “Hey Ladies” would be the best choice.

In order to not completely blow our cover, we actually wore bulkier outfits comprised of sweatshirts and jeans over the top of our tight polyester pants and shirts. When our names were announced and it was time to go, we stripped down to the sweet duds and jumped up on stage. As mentioned above, we didn’t really rehearse for it, but I remember that our act involved a lot of finger-pointing, pelvic-thrusting, and exaggerated movements in general. When the song was over, we went zig-zagging through the crowd as “5 Piece Chicken Dinner” played and then stopped by the drink counter to rehydrate.

We ended up getting 2nd place.

Hey Ladies

I have this problem during the winter months in that certain places on my hands get small cracks in them and then bleed. For the most part, this only happens when we have a particulary dry winter (as we are this year), and so I end up going a couple months with the hands of an old man. It doesn’t seem to matter how much expensive Norwegian Formula Neutrogena cream I put on my hands, they just soak it up and then get dry and crack and bleed again. For this reason alone, I’m hoping that the cold will soon be over and we’ll have spring and rain and butterflies again. The bare-knuckle boxing excuse is getting old and unfunny.

A Year Of Magical Thinking by Joan DidionIn addition to reading numerous positive reviews and it showing up on several year-end lists for 2005, TG had recommended a couple other Joan Didion books that we already own (Slouching Towards Bethlehem and Play It As It Lays), so I decided to check out A Year Of Magical Thinking. The title of the book states the time frame that passes in the book, but it’s hard to imagine many more tragic events taking place in 365 days than what happens to Didion.

Around the beginning of the book, her daughter falls into a coma induced by septic shock. Two weeks after that happens (and two days after Christmas, coincidentally), her husband of almost 40 years dies of a massive heart attack right before they sit down to dinner. A couple weeks later, her daughter is out of the coma and is told the bad news, then only a couple weeks later has a massive edema on the brain and almost dies.

All this is stated on the book cover, so I knew that I wasn’t exactly going to be reading an uplifting sunshiney book. The first 50 pages of A Year Of Magical Thinking are like successive punches in the gut as all the major events described unfold. Didion has a somewhat dramatic flair that seems a bit much at times, but during the first part of the book, she draws you in and really makes you think about how you would feel if some of the same things happened to you. Major life events that she’d never had to worry about are thrown at her rapid fire and the book gives a good account of the range of emotions that she goes through, from self-pity to near complete irrationality.

It’s around the middle of the book that things seem to go a bit off course, though. As her daughter is going through therapy, Didion starts to simply churn out memory after memory of life with her husband as she ferries herself about her everyday life. Many of these memories are repeated several times during the course of the book, and while some of them are interesting, at times the page after page after page of exposition feels almost like random name dropping (whether she’s making note of staying at the Beverly Wilshire, that Donald Rumsfeld was a classmate of her husbands, or that her husband has an autographed copy of a book from Julia Childs). Some of the facts seem to tell a story, but many feel barely relevant at all.

In some ways, I can see how this huge diversion (which takes up nearly half the book it seems) fits in with her at times incoherent behavior after her husband dies. The random thoughts and fleeing memories do seem like they’re coming from someone who is grasping and reaching and remembering to retain every little detail. The problem is that they just don’t add up to very compelling storytelling for the casual reader.

In the last section of the book, Didion again seems to pull things together as she recounts different events and how she is progressing, but by then the story of her daughter is oddly lost. After investing so much into her story throughout the book, that thread simply unravels a bit as the book reaches the conclusion (although through some reading on the web, I found out that her daughter never quite recovered fully, finding herself in a wheelchair before finally dying last summer).

Having said the above, I feel a bit odd being critical at all of such a personal work, but as a reader the book padded out for me in places. I’ll have to plan on reading some of her earlier work at some point.

As a quick sidenote, I must say that I love the simple design of the book cover and the very subtle use of color on the type to spell out her husbands name.

Zoey was feeling a little bit left out that I’d posted a picture of her sister Elsa and not her, so here’s one of Zoey and I chilling earlier this week after playing outside in the sun.

Zoey and Me

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