Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bret Easton Ellis: Less Than Zero

Bret Easton Ellis wrote this book twice. Unfortunately I read them in the wrong order. If I had read this before "American Psycho", I would have loved it, but this is the warm-up for "American Psycho," or "American Psycho"-junior. Not quite as startling, not quite as scary, not quite as mind-altering, not quite as horrific. The characters are teenagers and their vices haven't aged, yet. You can see where they're going, and shudder. And so very LA, which I abhorred before reading the book, and abhor even more now. If you haven't read either book, you should read both, which much time in between to get grounded first. Only, definitely read "Less Than Zer0" first.

My favorite part, worth retyping in full:

I am sitting in my psychiatrist's office the next day coming off from coke, sneezing blood. My psychiatrist's wearing a red V-neck sweater with nothing on underneath and a pair of cut-off jeans. I start to cry really hard. He looks at me and fingers the gold necklace that hangs from his tan neck. I stop crying for a minute and he looks at me some more and then writes something down on his pad. He asks me something. I tell him I don't know what's wrong; that maybe it has something to do with my parents but not really or maybe my friends or that I drive soemtimes and get lost; maybe it's the drugs.
"At least you realize these things. But that's not what I'm talking about, that's not really what I'm asking you, not really."
He gets up and walks across the room and straightens a framed cover of a Rolling Stone with Elvis Costello on the cover and the words "Elvis Costello REpents" in large white letters. I wait for him to ask me the question.
"Like him? Did you see him at the Amphitheater? Yeah? He's in Europe now, I guess. At least that's what I heard on MTV. Like the last album?"
"What about me?"
"What about you?"
"What about me?"
"You'll be fine."
"I don't know, I say. "I don't think so."
"Let's talk about something else."
"What about me?" I scream, choking.
"Come on, Clay," the psychiatrist says. "Don't be so... mundane."

Monday, September 22, 2008

On Second Thought,

Mac asked me to set the record straight.

The last post describing Mac's mousecapades made it sound like Mac was a stereotypical Vicious Pit Bull Killing Machine. Mac correctly points out that the evidence is against him.

1. The flies: Mac chases flies whenever he gets the chance. Approximately one time for every 50 does the fly actually enter his mouth. And when it does, he actually lets it go, and the fly, without fail, flies away. (No pun intended- Mac is dictating, themacinator apologizes for lack of stylish prose.) Mac reminds me that I have always been fascinated with catch and release fishing, and perhaps his actions are just a different form- "catch and release flying", as it were. Once in a blue moon, a fly will die due to the activities of Mac, but never in Mac's mouth. One could blame exhaustion, sogginess (spit kills!), or a broken leg- Mac never claimed to be gentle- but definitely not "the chomp of death".

2. The mouse: The mouse was found under the bed, in the corner, almost 24 hours after the chase began. Mac could not access the mouse, as his head and shoulders are too big to fit under the bed. Trust me, he tried, he says. And tried, and tried, and tried again. Upon retrieval of the mouse, by themacinator, the mouse was found to be bloodless, and intact. Again, the mouse may have died due to the activities of Mac, but did not die due to direct mouth-to-mouse contact. Mac suggests heart attack, exhaustion (wus!), old age, or broken something-or-other. Once again, killer pit bull not at fault. (Mice are not supposed to be game animals, themacinator reminds Mac. That's his job.)

So Mac's record is clean, he hopes. He is not a zookeeper, and cannot stretch the longevity of the animals who happen into his care. He also cannot vouch for their health prior to his arrival on the scene. He apologizes for any misconceptions about him, but wants you to know that a dog this dorky could not possibly be deadly:


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Mac- The Pit Bull vs the Intruder

I posted previously that Mac was not a dog. I lied. Not only is Mac a dog, he is now convincing me (after 6+ years) that he is probably mostly pit bull. Mac's background is unknown- he came from the Berkeley animal Shelter in 2002, I've always known he was a pit bull mix, but appearance-wise, he is mostly a BYB-special, and temperament-wise, he fits this part of PBRC's description to the T:

Pit bulls are very adaptable and will even do well in urban living provided they have enough exercise or other positive outlets for their energy. Many pit bulls are easygoing couch-potatoes but can also be somewhat rambunctious until they mature. Maturity can come pretty late with this breed (2 to 3 years old in some cases). Pit bulls remain playful all their life and have a great sense of humor. Real clowns at heart, these dogs will make you laugh like no other. (see PBRC Breed Info)

That fits Mac- couch potato is a nice way of saying lazy or sleeps all day, he matured early, after about 10 months of themacinator (me) figuring out what to do with him, and totally a clown. The part that I never really saw in him was the part that bulldog aficionados call "gameness" or tenacity. I've seen his prey drive come out in force- there was that time he chased the seal out in the bay half way to San Francisco- and he'll chase a ball with gusto for, oh, ten minutes, and when he really really wants to kill a toy, there's no stopping him.

oakland booty
(This picture is Mac attempting to drag me back to the car to kill that turquoise ball. He can hold that pose for 10+ minutes till I give in.)

Basically, I had never really seen this part of the pit bull personality in action before:

They are also very resourceful and driven. Determination is one of their most notable traits. Whatever they set out to do, they put their heart and soul into it...

Determination, gameness, perseverance: I believe pit bulls have it, I just wasn't sure Mac had it. Until last night. At about 11pm, I woke up to Mac running around the room like someone was throwing the ball for him. No one was throwing the ball for him, as I was asleep, and as Bill Withers says, it was just the two of us. Mac was running around the room then freezing, like he saw something to chase. Run run run, stop. Run, stop Run, stop run stop run run run stop continue. I figured there was a bug he was chasing, though it was strange that he could see this in the dark. I fell back asleep, even though he didn't. I woke up at about 1am. Mac was still at it. I'm not sure if he paused in his run stop wag run stop chase action, but he was at it again. Now he was focused on the closet. He would stand and stare at it, his tail wagging like he was so happy, then pointing up straight, like he was about to pounce, then he would freeze. I turned on the light. There was nothing there. Mac continued, I tried to go back to sleep. He started running again. This continued for so long that I couldn't go back to sleep. I turned the light back on and poked around in the closet. Nothing there. He was so focused on the closet that I decided that one of use was crazy: Mac for thinking there was something in the closet or themacinator for not believing that there was something in the closet. I took every single article of clothing off of the shelves in the closet. I was a little frightened, I admit, so I also held a broom in one hand. There was nothing there. Mac eagerly watched. Nothing. Then I picked up the blanket that was on the floor and a tiny. little. mouse. ran across the floor.

Mac started running and chasing again. I encouraged him for a minute, hoping his success with the mouse would end this nightmare. It did not. My roommate called from upstairs to ask me if someone was breaking in. I informed her someone small and four legged already had and that my terrier was failing in catching it. She offered to help shoo him out, I declined because I had NO IDEA what I was in for. The pit bull perserverence had yet to rear its ugly head. Mac chased that mouse all night long. I slept intermittently until the alarm went off at 7am. I am not convinced that Mac slept at all. The mouse, I am SURE, slept even less. I woke up approximately every 15 minutes to my dog chasing and playing with a mouse. He did not catch the mouse. I did not sleep. The mouse did not die. My dog proved himself to be very tenacious.

I went to work today, and came home, thankfully, to my dog acting normal. Oh good, I said to myself, I can sleep tonight! After our little normal routine, we returned to my bedroom. And Mac started hunting again. Apparently, tenacity can last more than 8 hours- we are now up to something like 20! Mac started to climb under my bed. I fished out a mouse. Mercifully, for everyone involved, deceased. I threw the deceased mouse out the back door. Mac did not understand, and continued to check under the bed, in the direction of the door, and everywhere else. He is sleeping now, for the minute.

Mac is a dog. A pit bull dog. A pit bull terrier. 6 years later... we're at peace with tenacity.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Eldridge Cleaver: Soul On Ice

Why haven't I read this book before? Eldridge Cleaver is hilarious and cutting in his portrayal or race issues in mid-60's America. Some of his essays deal with prison, some deal with sex, and they all deal with being black in the era of the struggle for Civil Rights. In some places, Cleaver is downright poetic: "The price of hating other human beings is loving oneself less," while in others, he is almost pornographic in his metaphors of white men as the Mind and black men as the Body. Cleaver discusses why he left the Black Muslims, and apologizes to black women for 400 years of mistreatment.

This is a must read for anyone interested in race, gender, and class issues- even though I say I never want to discuss this stuff again, Cleaver is too good to pass by.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Last Game of the Year

(that I will attend) It was really pretty typical- the A's lost, F$cking Foulke gave up 3 homeruns on 3 pitches (some kind of feat), the starting pitcher (Mr Best Name in Baseball Outman) got no run support and threw too many pitches, the A's had a 9th inning rally which consisted of walks, hit batters, and an infield hit, and I was cold, because it's Oakland in September. The A's "proudly" announced that prices will not rise next year, so I may attend more games (especially if my dad continues to take me) and sit through them in stoic and bleakly amused semi-humor. Ok, I know I will attend them. I suppose they won't be exponentially worse, and now that I know what to expect (Donorfia, Cunningham, Blevins, and Patterson (are these major leaguers???)), I won't feel let down.

On to hibernation.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I don't do a lot of reminiscing. I'm not particularly nostalgic, or patriotic, so it seems particularly odd to write about 9/11. But I was thinking today about "where I was" when it happened, as people do seem to do that. I was in Mexico on September 11, 2001. I remember watching video footage of planes crashing into the twin towers on a small, black and white TV, and wondering what would happen to my study-abroad status. Our group was made up of people from all over the country and it was almost impossible to call home to find out what was happening to their families. I was ok, my family was in California, and though my family was scheduled to travel, they weren't traveling that day. It was all surreal. I remember standing at a payphone, crying, the day that I heard that Bush had decided to bomb Afghanistan. Even then, this seemed so futile to me, as it was clear to me that the Taliban had not hijacked any planes, and that so much was wrong with that government that had been ignored (or funded) for so long. And so much happened immediately after the 9/11 that I will never understand, because I missed it, while studying away in Mexico. My boyfriend at the time spent a night in jail for a peaceful protest he attended in Hartford, where he marched in the street. Marching in the street was a civil liberty no longer to be taken for granted. 13 students were in jail and faced huge, unaffordable to starving students, fines. My school was close to New York, and so many kids had ties or once-away-ties from people who lost relatives that day. And most of them rose to the occasion, and decided that war was not the answer. And apparently, for the majority of the country, while I was gone, love for the US became patriotism or nationalism in the form of the American flag: when I came home I was shocked and a little dismayed to see the red, white, and blue everywhere. On the drive home from the airport my parents had to stop me from pointing out every flag on every car, as there were just too many- flying a mini (or fullsized) flag from your car was the Thing To Do after 9/11. Slowly these have gone away, and so has the pain. The war is still here. And so is George Bush.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What We did this Summer

My family had an exciting vacation. So I prepared this report to share with the class.

My mom went on a cruise. She saw all kinds of cool things. She went to Norway (that's really far north, and cold, and they eat moose there). She went to Oslo and Stockholm and Russia. She even went to Germany. That's a lot of countries!




My dad and my sister went to China, to see the Olympics. That's only one country, but it's really far away. They saw people run real fast, jump real high, and hit balls real hard.

They saw weird buildings,

They ate weird food,

And they danced with cheerleaders.

So what did I do while my family was on this exciting vacation? I did not go far away, not to another country or even to another city. I stayed in Oakland. I did not even go on vacation at all! I went to work, class. And not only that, I didn't even get to try any new foods or watch anybody jump over anything or run anywhere. But I did catch 65 pigeons. Some with my bare hands.

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Friday, September 05, 2008

Who's On First

I know you've probably heard this. But if you haven't, or if you haven't heard it in awhile, please, listen to it again. It's the story of my life.


Dang Thuy Tram: Last Night I Dreamed of Peace

Thuy Tram was a young female doctor in Vietnam who kept a detailed diary of her emotional life during her work in the South. Raised as an educated, upper-middle class Northern student, she goes South to work as a medic and becomes part of the Communist struggle until her death. The book is interesting, and different than the norm, but that's about as much as I can say about it. Not a very compelling read, and quite repetitive. Unusual subject matter: otherwise a total dud.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

A's Team Photo Day

I have to laugh. I have to wonder. September 19th is A's "Team Photo" Giveaway day. The first 10,000 fans will get a photo of the A's. But *which* A's?

Some combination of the following players have been with the team this year (forget Sept 1 and the 40 man roster, I maintain that very few of these 50 players have anything to do with the 15 additional players). I don't even remember them all by name, let alone their faces. That's a lot of combos for the team picture. I'm not good at math, or factorials, I'll let someone else do it. Here's the names, have a fun trip down memory lane:

Position players:
Florentino (currently in AAA)
M. Sweeney
R. Sweeney
Petit (currently in AAA)
Thomas (60 Day DL- season over)
Denorifa (currently in AAA)
E. Brown
Chavez (60 Day DL)
C. Gonzalez (currently in AAA)
Ellis (not playing, but not on DL)
Bankston (DFA)
Murphy (DFA)
Buck (AAA)
Conrad (AAA)
Murton (AAA)
Johnson (DFA)


Harden (traded to the Cubs- i.e. the beginning of the end)
Duchscherer (15 day DL)
Calero (released)
Gaudin (traded to the cubs: middle of the end)
Blanton (traded to the Phillies- the end of the end)
A. Brown (60 day DL)
Gallagher (acquired mid-season from the Cubs, now on 15-day DL)
G. Gonzalez
DiNardo (AAA)
Hernandez (returned to White Sox- who is this guy??)