Monthly Archives: September 2005

I’m Alive

Yes. I am alive. My book manuscript is due on Monday so I’m a little on the crazy side right now. Got Parts 4 and 5 rewritten. Finished part 3 yesterday. Trying to get parts 1 and 2 put to bed this morning. Had a minor panic yseterday when I realized that my deadline was October 3 (which I knew) and then that Oct 3rd was Monday. Employing my buddy Tara’s help on Saturday to help me polish things up and then I’ll submit things on Sunday. The usual writing bugaboos crop up – even though this is non-fiction – no one will like it, it’ll be out of date by the time it is published, it’ll bomb, no one will read it, everyone has heard it before… the usual crap. But hopefully having a date with Ron this afternoon we will probably have lunch at Big Bowl downtown and the go see Flightplan.

Podcasting is non-existent right now. And I have so much to talk about!

Andy Shoots a Gun

(from this weekend in Nashville)

It is Sunday. I am at the airport in Nashville waiting for the return flight to Chicago Midway. Airports and banks need to hire better lighting designers. Even when I went to Washington Mutual to open my business checking account last week it was still as dark and sterile as the Citibank on Clark. It seems to be that banks look like the way banks think we want them to look than how we actually want them to look. There’s no plants, no sunlight, the air is stuffy. Same thing with hospitals. Surely just opening a door and letting in some fresh air would make things less institutionally opressive.

I learned how to fire a gun on Saturday morning. Last Saturday of every month the county sherriff hosts at the local firing range. My brother-in-law and I drove up to the Nashville prison and then the deputies accompanied us through the prison gates, across the compound and out and to the firing range. It was an outdoor range inset into the ground up to 50 yards with room for 12 targets. We were able to rent guns for the time we were there which was nice. Kinda like bowling shoes.

I’ve never fired a gun before in my life. I always see guns as fear in the form of a solid object. I knew that actually firing a gun would probably be anti-climactic – most things that feel like they should be big deals normally aren’t when they actually happen. My main concern wasn’t firing anyone or even worrying about hitting the target. I just didn’t want to look like a dumb newbie.

Sidebar: This nasty skanky guy is clipping his fingernails. Indoors. At the airport. Oh my God that is so damned disgusting. Almost as bad as when men shave their heads in the lockerroom at the gym. Or shave their nether-regions in the showers. Ugh.

But looking like a newbie is completely unavoidable and I decided not to worry about it: I can only know what I know and be ready to learn more. I was firing a Walther P22 handgun. I was most concerned about the kickback. Raised on a media diet of violence and gunfire in THX surround sound had me convinced it would make my shoulder sore – even from this weenie little gun. My brother-in-law taught me how to fill the magazines with 6 bullets each and load them into the gun, cocking the gun, turning the safety off. It seemed relatively easy. I figured it has to be easy.

Sidebar: Jesus Christ this guy is doing both hands. He might as well take off his shoes and chew the dead skin off his feet.

Like most things that many people have to be able to do, shooting a gun is simple. The sheriff went back behind us and we started at 5 yards – nice and close. He was on a megaphone so I was able to hear him through my earplugs. Load and make ready! On my whistle! His whistle blew and I thought here goes nothin’. I raise my arm and held the gun as instructed – careful not to put my left hand where the thing that slides back would hit or cut it (I still can’t remember all the names of all the parts). I pulled the trigger and realized I probably should have aimed better. The gun went off and there was no kickback – barely any sound – it was as innocuous as tassels on a girl-bike.

(On the plane now – I’m amazed at these chumps that are in the A group and they all queued up a half hour ago. You’re A Group! You get your pick! Sometimes I wonder at the obedience of Americans. LIke when they back up the trucks at the gay bars in Chicago and load us all to transport us to re-education camps – will we all just go willingly like sheep?)

Like how I know most of my history of Argentina from the musical Evita, I know most of what I know about guns from the Stephen Sondheim musical Assassins. After the initial: That’s it? I actually remembered to aim. Then I remember that it wasn’t just the sight at the end of the gun but the two at closer to me that I had to triangulate. I shot five more times. All the others finished their magazines. Then after the all clear we walked up to our targets and marked our shots with chalk. I actually hit the board with the target on it a couple times.

Back to 10 yards. This time I actually remember to take a breath before each shot and was much more relaxed.

Back to 15 yards. Another six rounds. Targets getting better.

Then it was time for the second group to go. So my brother-in-law and I held back and drank soda while the other folks went. Eventually it was our turn at bat (shoot?). This time around we started at 15 yards and took turns on signal, walking towards our repective targets and shooting our guns. I tried to imagine what was going through each shooter’s heads – some of them moved like Clint Eastwood and even stopped to reload and kept walking.

I thought maybe I should scream DIE CRACKER! or something to that effect but figured that might be inappropriate.

I did pretty good walking towards the target. And I have to say the whole thing was very cordial. The deputies on hand were very patient and friendly. Not the scary racist xenophobic banter I was expecting (evidently that is more in the parking lot before we go to the range). Then the sherriff announced we were going to play a game called Surprise Yourself.

We all stood at 50 yards and took our time shooting. I actually got four hits on the target – a couple good enough to maim. Assuming I’m at 50 yards and we are both standing still on a clear bright day. I was pleased with my performance and wondered how easily it would be to do this kind of thing in Chicago. I’m ignorant of Chicago’s gun laws and wondered how drug gangs practiced their target-shooting. Preusambly on real people.

I think Ron would enjoy the precision of it – that’s what I liked – the puzzle and the challenge. The gun had all the force of a fireracker in my hands and seemed so much more mundane than the handgun used to kill rogue creatures from another dimension in Half Life.

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

(from last weekend in Nashville)

It is weird that as much as I love the movie Fight Club, I’d never read the book on which it was based.

There was a copy in my sister’s second bedroom so I was grabbed it and read almost all of it last night and then finished it this morning before I got on the plane. What I really respect is the intense love of the language of the book and how much of that idiom made it into the movie. The ending is different but still as satisfying as Ed Norton and Helen Bonham Carter watching as the buildings of credit card companies collapse. Other differences are the original source of the first soap and how the main character meets Tyler. I was surprised at the complete lack of physical description of Tyler. Most men in this country would love to have Brad Pitt’s body (either as their own or for their very own) so I was surprised Tyler wasn’t more fleshed out phsycially – but it makes sense and the book is surprisingly durable for being written many years ago. FIght CLub is one of those books I wish I’d written. The marriage of violence, crippled masculinity and consumerist rage were right up my alley.

I was also surprised to find that Chuck Palahniuk is an out gay author. He evidently is wary of being ghetto-ized as a gay author but it is refreshing.

I’d still like to adapt it into a stage play.

Dinner at Nashville’s The Mad Platter

For my sister’s birthday dinner, we at at the Mad Platter a slightly upscale restaurant where they had their wedding reception (The one with the endless crab cakes. I think if there is anything close to a horn of plenty it would be endless amounts of crab cakes).

We had a five course meal: I had the chicken cream soupd (they had a cold soup with fruit but I have to admit that cold soup grosses me out completely – shouldn’t it just be a fruit juice?), the crab cake (of course!), the spinach salad with mango, the filet mignon medium well with vegetables and potatoes and the Chocolate Elvis. From hereafter I want every pie I ever eat to have the crust of the Chocolate Elvis – a king among chocolate cheesecakes.

(in the air now on the way home from Nashville)

We are remaining seated due to high winds – I think partially spun off from Rita.

Dinner was great, dessert was great. I wish Ron could have been with us. He is busy scouting out Louis Vuitton knockoffs on the streets of Hong Kong.

Home. Safe. Sound.

(from weekend in Nashville)

I am going to sleep good when I get home. I slept the second night on an air mattress which was fine but not the soft could of slumbrous ecstasy I’m used to being parked on. I’m sure my cat will be all over me when I get home too – escpaillly because I’ll have the scent of two other cats on me when I walk through the door.

Visiting family always gives me a good reset.

The book contract should officially come through next week and my final manuscript is due on October 3rd so I need to clear out my week for the next two weeks to devote to polishing up the book. I haven’t been able to secure a big name to write a foreword which sort of sucks but that is partially from my lack o fnetworking and my editor changing in mid-flight. I’ll be happy to get the book put to bed so I can start working on all the preparation and promotion. I want to have an entire suite of products for readers to choose from and use when they come to my site. I want to do this all the right way.

I’ve fallen behind – way behind – in the Book Yourself Solid program. I feel like I get up and start cleaning out my inbox and then people start calling and beofre I know it, it is 3 o’lock – I haven’t eaten since breakfast and I’ve been at the computer for five hours and haven’t done any billable work.

The guy next to the woman next to me (not me) is snoring lightly. He better keep that crap quiet. How annoying. I am really sensitive (picky, mean, asshole-ish) to space invasion. Maybe it is from working at home – though I used to hate a crowd in my cubicle at my old office job. I just hated all these people turned towards me and I’m walled in like veal. I still think double-wide strollers are a scourge of humanity – the SUVs of teh sidewalks and don’t see why double-deep strollers can’t be more ubiquitous. Worse is when the kids are obviously old enough to walk but are in a stroller or a double-wide stroller where there is a kid in one seat and a bunch of shopping bags in the other. Sometimes Americans fulfill their own stereotypes.

Being in Nashville reminds me of the warnings of James Kunstler that peak oil and the coming (present?) energy crisis is a symptom – that the decentralized, car-worshipping culture and city planning of modern America is going to really put a chokehold on the lifestyles of many people as oil goes up and up. It is the death of sidewalks.

I started reading one of my sister’s self-help books, Self-Nurture – very ‘womyn’-ly and it talked about how women (and men as well) used to have the support of entire generations of close-knit, nearby family as well as many women and men to interact with. So instead of today’s romantic ‘you’re my everything’ and all the expectations and baggage that entails it was a lot more decentralized. So as the communities became decentralized and the communities and families did – so have our relationships. This is the kind of crap I think about all the time. Like in New Orleans with teh combined efforts of big business to create an environment where the poor can never take a foothold – where they’ve exported their poverty to the rest of the country so they don’t have to deal with it.

And I wonder with gentrification – who says you get to live in the same place for your whole life? I know that is a callous statement but if people can’t economically survive in a city then why don’t they move? If your country is full of famine, then maybe humans shouldn’t be living there, right? It was an argument in the book Ishmael that by assisting the hungry we are stopping the inevitable – that they can’t subsist where they are at. But that gets back to the themes I loathe: that by helping the poor we are short-changing their values development that will make them into better (and of course) richer people.

Or with all this coaching stuff I’m involved with sometimes. What if we aren’ta ll supposed to be successful? What if life is ultimately suffering and how to rise above it? What if just changing my outlook doesn’t change the fact that the planet earth’s immune system seems to be trying to get rid of the human race? (I believe Vonnegut said this on The Daily SHow – he maybe be old and verbally a little rusty but you can tell that man is as smart as a whip – may I live old enough to be such a curmudgeon)

Idiot is still snoring. I hate snoring because it is usually with someone I love – whether family vacations or with Ron (who evidently was allergic to my old apartment because he rarely snores now). Snoring is awful because you hate the snoring but love the snorer but still want to get some damned sleep.

I swear Larry David is in front of me. I never could get into Curb Your Enthusiasm. I rented it and it seemed really unfunny and mean. Maybe it has to grow on you.

I look forward to getting back to the city. I think I’m allergic to sunshine and fresh air. Give me urine soaked alleys and that faint sewage scent rising up from Broadway anyday. I’d rather wrinkl;e my nose in bourgeois disgust than have it running.

Ah the plane just slowed down. That usually means something. Maybe we are descending though we have another half hour left. Ron gets back from Singapore and Hong Kong on Tuesday. I’m sure he’ll have lots of stories. I promised him I’d get my passport so I can travel with him sometime.

My eyebrows are out of control. I need to get them waxed or trimmed at least. I need to get my teeth whitened as well before I go to that conference in San Jose.

There’s too much turbulence so we don’t get our peanuts and soda. Ah well.

Mom and dad are probably half way home by now – they left from Nashville about and hour and a half ago. Weather is a constant worry in my family. I think because it is such an reliable source of worry. You can always worry about the weather – whether the weather is hot or whether the weather is cold. It is a foundation anxiety to build a day of worrying around. I do much better about the weather – I realize I can’t control it and that’s about the end of it. Oh, I’ll complain – make no mistake – but I won’t worry about approaching storms. Don’t think I’m that evolved to not worry about everything I can’t control – that’s a hurdle we haven’t jumped just yet.

A few bloggers have written in saying they really like my more personal, journal-y posts and I guess that makes sense. I’m thinking of re-configuring the front page to have two columns – one with the latest ‘journal-y’ entry and then another with the headlines and excerpts of the political stuff. Though I really think the call is to write more personal stuff – not necessarily feature it more.

We slowed down a little more and I can feel us descending.

I think it is so wild that the folks that landed in that plane with the landing gear turned perpendicular where able to watch the plane land on the news on the LCD panels in their seats while they were still on the plane. Does it make it less real if you can see your calamity on television? I was absolutely amazed that the landing gear didn’t break – the upper housing but it looks like it really just gradually wore away (Ron said the tires were all rubber). We had been out eating while it happened and came home to watch it.

1:23pm. We haven’t seen the ground for the whole flight. We must be descending through the bad weather because there is turbulence.

Now is about when I wonder if I’ll take the train into the city and then take a taxi, take a taxi the whole way or take a train the whole way.

I think I need a microwave. I think that would really help my eating – I’d be able to bake on Sundays and then heat up throughout the week.