Thursday, July 19, 2007

Arrival/Departure

We arrived yesterday morning in Germany without too many travel scars despite the simply lovely family that not only tried to take over our seats before we settled on the plane for the next 8 1/2 hours but also proceeded to talk throughout the entire flight. And by talk I mean whine incessantly, slap one another (mostly a mother-daughter ritual), and--as we from the hills say--holler up a storm. When I logged on to the Internet today I saw a headline about some mother arrested for beating her child on a flight in the US. I followed the link just to see if it was Indira Slapsalotta travelling on to the Gulf States (as in Persian and not "of Mexico"). I felt like hollering myself, "If you don't fuggin behave, I'll turn this plane around. So help me, Allah!" But then I'm not too sure if I'd be able to blog from Guantanamo.

Wiesbaden is even more wonderful and relaxing than it was in December. After a painfully short nap, Stephen and I walked the pedestrian mall, eating a hefty sandwhich at Perfect Day. I also stopped at a couple of bookstores just to see what kinds of gift purchases I could make for my professors who made it possible for me to be here for the next six weeks (by writing letters and suggesting I apply to this program). When Chris and Mary returned from work, we walked back into town for Italian. Last night I slept from 11:00pm until about 5:45am. It was a recent record!

Today we plan more cups of coffee, more casual strolling, perhaps some sweets, and maybe a short visit to one of the old thermal baths--a mainstay of Wiesbaden. (The "bad" in Wiesbaden means bath; it was known as a Roman spa town a couple of thousand years ago.) Tonight we head to Barcelona, where our all-too-short vacation goes to a whole 'nother level.

Monday, July 16, 2007

People Unclear

Over the past few days I've been completely surrounded by people unclear on the concept of how to be adult human beings. For example, when I dropped off my recycling Saturday morning, another man pulled up to drop off his recycling as well. The only problem was that he left his car running while he made several trips from his trunk to the bins. He probably would've done less harm to the world if he would've thrown everything out with the trash and left his car off and in the driveway. Never again will I be concerned that the 25-minute commute to the recycling plant is a waste.

Later that day, after we got out of the free showing of Todo sobre mi madre at the Latino Cultural Center's Pedro Almodóvar film festival, Crazy Bitch #1 started throwing soda cans out her car window as she was driving up North Central Expressway. We took her license and car model, and I'm happy to say this morning I passed that information on the Don't Mess with Texas office. My small vigilante work here is done. (But if someone would like to find out her address and slap the shit out of her, go nuts: 122 JVW (Texas) - Blue Kia Spectra.)

And speaking of nuts, what is going on in the world these days to produce a jock shortage?!?! I was in search of a jock for several days before I finally found one in my size. I wear large, and it's not that I'm a unique shape. Most sports/athletic shops didn't carry a single one; some carried only youth sizes; and a couple had only smalls or XXLs. What's a boy gotta do to get a jock around here? Thank you, Target for carrying the one single large jock in all of Dallas. Now restock so I can buy a second one.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Sky Is (Still) Falling

For those of you who are relatively new to this eight-year-old blog, today is the twenty-eighth anniversary of Skylab's descent. I began my own Crash Course shortly before the twentieth anniversary while I was living in Shimonoseki, Japan. (And I chose the Polish/Slavic spelling of the space station for my moniker because I figured it would be easier to consolidate my various online personalities under something a bit more foreign-spelled.)
On July 11, 1979, the abandoned United States space station Skylab made a spectacular return to Earth, burning up in the atmosphere and showering debris over the Indian Ocean and Australia.

That summer I thought the world was ending, and I obsessively collected every article about and photograph of what was then the largest (hu)man-made satellite ever. I still have that yellow scrapbook I made at my grandmother's house in Arkansas. (And I assume Skylab is the reason I love Wim Wenders' film Until the End of the World as much as I do. Skylab is also probably the reason I'm wary of (or at least ironic about) technojunk.) With a healthy dose of realism/cynicism about the (dis)abilities of humankind since that time, I'm even better "prepared" to face the next American/(hu)man-made cataclysm that falls from the sky.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Burnt Out

Cameron Diaz
Cameron Diaz using her eco-friendly (and edible) hair gel.

Nothing makes Skajlab wish the whole world would burn to smithereens than the incessant and insipid Cameron Diaz talking about the environment. Yes, I bought those damned expensive light bulbs several months ago. Yes, I gradually grew accustomed to the bizarre glow that emanates from them. (Even my neighbors commented on the strange light coming from my windows!) And one of them has already burned out! So much for saving me money in the long run. So much for saving the world one light bulb at a time. So much for eco-spokesperson Cameron making a real difference: I’m sure now in the post-Live Earth fantasy she’ll refuse to be a part of any production that is not entirely green and utterly significant. I wonder just how many of those st00perstars are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for the world and give up their careers and celebrity lifestyles. My light bulbs are not going to make the least little impact if Al Gore himself is still jetting around the globe presenting his fancy slideshow. Jets don’t run on rainbows. PA systems don’t run on love. Stop preaching (and “raising awareness”) and actually conserve energy (and my patience) by sitting your sorry ass at home in the ethereal glow of an enviro-friendly light bulb that’s about to burn out long before the world. And I’ll gladly keep my TV turned off for good measure.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Personal Daemons

I respectfully ask those of you who know me--or at least think you know me--to take the short quiz below to determine if my daemon is an accurate representation of my real self.

We have twelve days before my daemon is set in stone. Thank you for your help.

Required Reading (definitely though with love)

This Independence Day it's important for us Americans to finally get it through our thick heads that there is a fundamental, essential difference between nationalism and patriotism. And that neither of those has anything to do with hegemonic warmongering. Just to keep us straight on those points, here is one of my favorite poems from patriot Nikki Giovanni:

I Laughed When I Wrote It
(Don’t You Think It’s Funny?)

the f.b.i came by my house three weeks ago
one white agent one black (or i guess negro would be
more appropriate) with two three-button suits on (one to
a man)
thin ties—cuffs in the bottoms—belts at their waists
they said in unison:
ms. giovanni you are getting to be quite important
people listen to what you have to say
i said nothing
we would like to have to give a different message
i said: gee are all you guys really shorter than hoover
they said:
it would be a patriotic gesture if you’d quit saying
you love rap brown and if you’d maybe give us some
leads
on what some of your friends are doing
i said: fuck you
a week later the c.i.a came by two unisexes one blond afro
one darker one three bulges on each showing lovely bell-
bottoms and boots
they said in rounds:
sister why not loosen up and turn on
fuck the system up from the inside
we can turn you on to some groovy
trips and you don’t have to worry
about money or nothing take the commune
way and a few drugs it’ll be good for you
and the little one
after i finished a long loud stinky fart i said serenely
definitely though with love
fuck you
yesturday a representative from interpol stopped me in the
park
tall, neat afro, striped hip huggers bulging only in the right
place
i really dig you, he said, i want to do something for you
and you alone
i asked what he would like to do for me
need a trip around the world a car bigger apartment
are you lonely i mean we need to get you comfortable
cause a lot of people listen to you and you
need to be comfortable to put forth a positive image
and digging the scene i said listen i would sell
out but i need to make it worth my while you understand
you just name it and i’ll give it to you, he assured me
well, i pondered, i want aretha franklin and her piano
reduced to fit next to my electric
typewriter on my desk and i’ll do anything you want
he lowered his long black eyelashes and smiled a whimsical
smile
fuck you, nikki, he said

And below some more worthwhile reading this holiday: first, an op-ed about immigration hysteria, and secondly, an interview with probably the most intelligent conservative thinker I've ever heard on what's wrong with the current administration.

  • The Founding Immigrants
    By Kenneth C. Davis
    Published: July 3, 2007
    Disdain for what is foreign is, sad to say, as American as apple pie, slavery and lynching.

  • Interview with Victor Gold
    By Bill Moyers
    Aired: June 29, 2007
    The impact of the sound bite mentality which you find in both parties...is there's been a debasing of the system. Because if you listen to these — I call them the Stepford candidates — on both sides in these debates the only two candidates that speak clearly are the ones they call the kooks.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Biomap

Since we'll be losing our home in the next few months, I've been thinking a lot about the places I've called home for the past (almost) 40 years. Here's a little map of where I hung my hat. I'll update it when I get more information organized or feel like expanding some of the stories ... which probably won't be for a while since we're leaving for Europe in 2 weeks. We'll fly to Frankfurt to meet up with our friends, then fly to Barcelona for a week before returning to Germany. Afterwards, Stephen comes homes and I settle in Marburg until the end of August. When I get back, we have the pleasure of finding a new home for the next 2 years ... because I swear on a stack of Bibles that I won't live in Texas after I finish the Ph.D.