Sunday, December 31, 2006

Hard time in Cafe Roca (paca)

Well, I just made that title up. I think it's because N got some cashew roca candy from work for Christmas. Anyway, bunnygirl made the mistake of reading and commenting productively on my little James Brown writing bit below. Due to this deranged behavior, I am now going to type up another scene from my old play. At this point, I've converted to play format with names on the left and their dialogue. So we have Vanessa, Holly, and Jessie, who have gone out to a bar / club at Holly's instigation. Two guys approach - Caleb and John - to hit on them, and the women give them a pretty nasty time of it, hopefully in an amusing way. In real life, I have a habit of teasing, which I try to control. I think in this play, I just let it all hang out. Everyone is pretty merciless. In my head, I always have the pace something like a 30s Cary Grant comedy. Think My Girl Friday if you know it. To save space: Vanessa is V, Holly is H, Jessie is J, Caleb is C, and John is... John.

Two men approach - CALEB and JOHN. Both are in upper 20s, attractive, and know it. When Caleb isn't watching it, he can become arrogant in his own appeal. John is the simpler, nice guy who hangs with Caleb for adventure. Caleb might be the better of the two in the long run, but he has a way of making that hard to see.

C: You girls don't have any drinks yet. What can we get you?
V: Depends on whether you are going to stay or not while we drink them.
C: Why wouldn't we stay? This is the table with the prettiest girls in the room.
V: In that case, I'd like something very small. H kicks V under table
H: I'll have a margarita, frozen, or one of those berry ones - something like that.
V: Margarita here and don't get her like a double hurricane and pretend it's the smallest size they have.
John: And you?
J: Oh, don't worry about me. I'm gay. H kicks J this time Ow! Ok, fine, I'm not gay and very intrigued. Please sit down and hit on me.
H: It's just a drink, Jessie.
J: Well, then, water.
C: Anything more?
J: You can go crazy and get a lemon slice?
John: I'll be right back with drinks.
H: Thank you, John! It was John, right?
C: (to Jessie) Are you designated driver tonight?
V: No, she's designated prude.
J: At least I'm not designated skank.
H: No, that's me tonight. I am sooo putting out.
V: Holly!
J: You're not supposed to say that when the guy is right there.
H: It's OK; he doesn't think I'm serious.
V: You're not serious.
H: I could be.
C: I don't know if you are serious or not. Can we change the subject before I get blamed for it?
J: Oh, blame. See, he'd do you in a heartbeat, Holly.
H: Would you?
C: (whistles) No way I'm touching that one.
J: You wouldn't?
H: I knew he wouldn't.
C: Not answering, not answering.
H: Why won't you answer? John returns with drinks, handing them out
C: Because there's no good answer. I'm not that dumb. If I-
J: Thank you, John.
C: -if I say yes, then I'm a jerk who only wants one thing. If I go with no, I'm saying she's unattrative. Lose-lose for me.
V: Well, that was the point of the situation.
John: May I sit next to you? Jessie, right?
J: Sure, I'm easy.
John: I thought you were gay.
J: That too, and the combination doesn't really help you much, does it?
V: I'm her lover.
H: No, you're not.
V: You weren't supposed to find out.
C: I have lots of jokes here, but I have a feeling they won't help.
J: You two are doing amazingly well. We're giving you a hard time for no good reason. It's motly us being lazy and being willing to stereotype instead of think.
V: (raising hand) Willing to stereotype here!
H: I'm very willing, too. Not the stereotype part.
C: Damn, this is a hard table.
J: It wouldn't be a hard table if- Nevermind.
V: It wouldn't be a hard table if you weren't obvously trying to work it. And what's up with calling us girls over and over? That's what she was going to say.
J: Yes, it was, though not the girl part. But I decided we'd given them a hard enough time. If people jumped on me every time I screwed up....
John: I just want to get to know you, Jessie.
J: Thank you, John. What would you like to know?
C: Bring your survey?
John: Yes, it'll only take about an hour.
J: Is the first question, 'what are the names of the other beautiful women at this table'?
John: It certainly is now.
H: Gloria.
V: Wendy.
C: Wasn't one of you named Holly?
Silence
C: Caleb.
John: John.

And then it moves into a section I know is bad- or even worse, so I won't type it up.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Say it loud (paca)

Warning: I am about to give a lot of background before I simply post some old writing of mine. If you just want to read the writings without the build-up, skip to after the videos.

And now:

I happened to be browsing James Brown videos a couple weeks back looking for some to post here for all of you. Then, as you all surely know, the Godfather passed away about 5 days ago. I also dug up some of my old writings last night and remembered that I have a scene with my main characters dancing around a room as they sing James Brown tunes. It's not great stuff, but posting this here will be my little tribute.

This is an excerpt from in many ways my first serious attempt at writing. Before this, I had only written a few scenes, scattered through different styles and genres. Nothing was ever revised or connected up to anything else. Then I started writing up this story here of Vanessa, Holly, and Jessie. (OK, Jessie has never been her name, but I want to rename her as of right now, and that's the first name that popped into my head that didn't nauseate me.) For people with an absolutely stunning memory, those names have appeared (other than Jessie) before on this blog when I posted an old character study of Vanessa here. Anyway, this was a pseudo-novel I started about the three of them, which I then turned into a play about one third of the way through, since I realized I was writing almost exclusively dialogue. I call this my first serious attempt merely because I actually continued working on it for several weeks until it's full play length and has a mild story arc. It also sucks, but that's neither here nor there.

To know what our heroines are doing, you have to know James Brown tunes pretty decently, as the character seg through lyrics from at least three different songs within one page or so. So for those of you who are not lords of funk, here's a YouTube primer.

Here's Hot Pants. If you listen to the first 45 seconds or so, you will get the idea.



Hot Pants in concert





You might want about 30-40 seconds of Say It Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud



Say It Loud





To get a feel for call and response, let this next video load, then listen to James and Bobby Byrd open Sex Machine. Then skip to about 2:15 and listen to about 3:30.



Sex Machine and Soul Power





This scene, starting in the next paragraph I promise, is pretty close to the beginning. Holly and Jessie have come over to Vanessa's apartment because of a sort of emotional crisis V is having. Jessie is in the kitchen cooking dinner for the three of them, while Holly is talking to her family on the phone in another room to tell them she might be staying at V's place tonight. We already know that Jessie has a reputation for being an awful cook, miraculously ruining the simplest dishes. They also all admire Jessie tremendously. She seems to have her life together. V and Jessie are talking with V starting off.

"I want to be like you, Jess."
"30?"
"Look at you. Legs up to your chin. You enjoy your work. Beautiful home. Love...."
"Swimming."
"What?"
"That's what I do for slender legs. And as of today I wear short shorts."
"They do seem a little uhh racy for you, Jessie."
"I know! Just trying it out. I have two pair. I liked the person selling them, so why not?"
"Why not what?" asked Holly returning to the kitchen.
"Jessie's decided to try out the slutty look for a while," Vanessa informed her.
Jessie spun around with the spatula, and a ravioli went flying across the room again, this time hitting Holly in the side of the head.
"It's hot! What the-?" yelled Holly.
"Oh my god!" Jessie joined in, running to her. Vanessa started laughing out loud for the first time. "I'm so sorry! I'm so sorry!" Jessie said. She pulled the ravioli from Holly's head, leaving a mass of gravy where it had been.
"Why are you throwing food at me?" Holly asked.
"I didn't."
"My hair begs to differ."
"It was just stuck to the spatula when I turned around."
"They will cook better in the pot, Jess." Vanessa commented.
"You!" said Jessie turning to Vanessa. "You are the cause of this! Calling me slutty because of my pants."
"Hot pants! Smokin'!" laughed Vanessa. Jessie just stood glaring at Vanessa. "You're dripping sauce on the floor, Jessie."
"Hot sauce! Smokin'!" exclaimed Holly.
"What is this? James Brown revival day?" asked Jessie.
"See the girl with the hot pant on? She can do the MacNasty all night long," sang Vanessa.
"Hot pants!"
Jessie glared at them and then without warning broke into the James Brown dance, gliding the feet, up on toes, spinning around. This brought an even louder peal of laughter.
"Oh, c'mon, Jess." said Vanessa, standing up. "It's lighter." She stood to Jessie's side. "Light, light. So you really seem to glide on the shuffle." She began to demonstrate as Jessie tried to follow.
"Ooh, ooh, wait for me." Holly jumped up so that all three were dancing in the little kitchen.
"Say it loud!" began Jessie.
"I'm black and I'm proud!" the two said in chorus.
"Say it loud!"
"I'm black and I'm proud!"
"You know you need it."
"Soul power."
"Got to have it."
"Soul power."
"Spin!" yelled Vanessa sending all three around. "Follow," Vanessa continued and they formed a dancing train. "Thinking of losing that funky feeling? Don't. You got to use just what you got to get just what you want. Jessie!"
"Huh? What?"
"Dance!" Vanessa explained. Jessie stood there with a blank expression on her face.
"Hot pants!" Vanessa sang again restarting the rhythm.
"Smokin'," Holly joined.
"The girl over there with the hot pants on. She can do the funky broadway all night long. Holly!" They spun to watch Holly's moves. Holly simply threw her ams in the air and shimmied her heart out. "Smokin," concluded Vanessa.
The train formed again. "Hot pants. Smokin. Hot pants. Won't make you dance. Slick as you are, you make the pants."
"Ness!" yelled Holly and Jessie at once. Vanessa just continued her perfect groove that she already held. "Go V, Go V," they chanted as Vanessa never lost a beat.
"You know we need it!" Jessie started singing again.
"Soul Power."
"Got to have it."
"Soul power."
"You know we want it."
"Soul power."
"Got to have it."
"Soul power."
"Give it to me."
"Soul power."
"Take me to the bridge!" Vanessa exclaimed, keeping her tight silent groove. Jessie tried.
"Love me tender. Love me slow."
The music froze.
"Who's got response?"
"Holly," said Vanessa.
"I can't remember."
"Help me, Bobby," Jessie said to Vanessa.
"If that don't get it-"
"Come back for more!" Holly finished.
"Love me tender, love me slow," Jessie sang again as the rhythm retook them.
"That don't get it, come back for more," the other two sang together.
"Love me tender, love me slow."
"That don't get it, come back for more."
"Love me tender, love me slow,"
"Turn off the stove, 'fore it all goes," sang Holly in rhythm.
"What?"
"Look at the stuff, on the stove." Holly answered in song.
"Huh?"
"Burning dinner, Ms. Yamamoto."
"Oh, crap!" Jessie yelled running to the scorching food.
"Keep dancing, Nessie," Holly requested. All was silent except for the sizzles and two pair of feet shuffling on beat.
"I'm still on the case. And my rap is strong." Jessie sang to herself as she flipped. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see that her two friends has shifted to a swing of some sort. Kind of a half-lindy. "Dinner's ready. You two dance on into the living room."
Vanessa spun Holly around but kept her hands, so that they ended up facing the same direction, and the two danced on out of the room. Jessie served the plates and followed them out.



And there you go. If I ever revise that play / novella, I'll almost certainly cut the entire scene, but I think it serves as a nice tribute to Mr. Brown. I also need new names. Jessie and Nessie? No way I'm keeping that.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Some numbers (paca)

27:40 - That was my 3-mile time last night. I was pleased with it as I've been sick with a cold / cough / flu / bronchitis thing and have only run / walked / had coughing fits once since early November. I don't usually worry too much about time, since I almost always run with B in his stroller. You can run pretty fast with the stroller, but you have to stop and go around so many obstacles that time is meaningless. However, I ran without B Wednesday night (with the Nike Running Club as always) and that was my time. I'm happy any time I beat my regular 10 minute per mile pace. I am thinking of setting some new running goals over the next few weeks but I haven't decided on them yet. I've always wanted to get back to a 7 minute mile, as that was my best time in a race in high school**. We'll see. Check back for updates.

53 to 51. Those are the points for the Nashville Predators and Detroit Red Wings (hockey) at this point in the season. Nashville, for the first time ever, has been leading the division much of the season, but 2 points is a single win. That's tight. But as last year's playoffs showed, it's all pretty meaningless in the end. As long as you get in the room, you've got a shot. 2 points.

5 down, 5 to go. 5 items for February's issue of the journal have been edited and 5 are still to go. If I'm a good boy, it will switch to 6 and 4 by the end of tonight. The better news is that the long ones have all been done.

648. That's the number of different resolutions I've thought of for this coming year. OK, maybe I haven't actually counted them, but it's long. Maybe I should be on one of those life makeover shows. I'd get some new clothes from that, right? And they'd show me how to not have such a huge bleeping forehead. I also sometimes think my ears are gigantic. But they're not. Or are they? or here or here .

Minus 10 - How many hours I am back from GMT. We were using some of the Santa trackers on Christmas Eve and we are so far in the middle of nowhere that on some web sites, Santa had already delivered all his presents and gone back to the North Pole not long after we finished dinner. The good folks at NORAD, however, didn't forget us and according to them Santa came all the way out to Wahiawa. That was nice of him.

2.5, 3.5, 4, 5, and 7. Those are the five sizes of dumplings that my new dumping maker from N for Xmas makes for me. I have not used it yet and will have to report back.

3. The number of Christmases in a row now spent at some beach. This is becoming a tradition. Seasons largely don't change in Hawaii temperature wise, and one forgets that our weather is unusual. You have to hear tale of some snowstorm somewhere to be reminded that going to the beach for Christmas isn't what everyone does. It will be hard to keep this tradition alive going forward I think. Will Northwestern Valley Community College of Southeastern Iowa, where I expect to get my only job offer, have ready access to a beach? One of my favorite stats when going to college in Minnesota was that the closest saltwater to us was Hudson Bay. One of my favorite stats about Nashville that I picked up was that it had both the highest number of churches per capita in the U.S. and the highest number of strip clubs per capita. Make of that what you will. It could be a complete fabrication from a co-worker of mine who was once a Nashville journalist, but that won't stop me from repeating it.

Finally, I will just take this opportunity to say: "mmmm, Mac nuts!* yummy!"

*Macadamia nuts.

** "Ahhh! So he's always been a runner!" Someone is thinking. Not really. My school required sports for everyone. Most of the time I participated in intramural house sports. (I will regail you with stories of innertube water polo one day.) But it became known that there was a pseudo-cheat. Everyone was allowed to join the cross-country team. Since you very frequently met with the team for stretches and then ran off to do your run with no check back, you could go, stretch, and then run back to your dorm to eat cookies and drink soda. Brilliant! That was the sport for me. It worked one year until the coach started making the deliquents run around the track over and over so that we couldn't get away with skipping out. I participated in two races of some large number that existed. I don't remember if I was just skipping races or if only a certain number were required. Anyway, on the second race, I ended up somehow next to one of the other school's athletic delinquents, and suddenly the competitive fire was lit! Off I went and pulled in some 21 or 22 minute time. I did learn two things from Cross-Country. One was how to breathe and reduce effort when running (in a good way). The other was just how amazing the serious marathoners are. Our team also fielded Wolfgang who was the New Jersey state cross-country champ. He fielded miles in the low to mid 5 minute mark, which was enough to make him the best. The elite runners in a marathon achieve 5 minute miles not for 3.3 miles but for 26.2 of them. It's insane.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Looks like we're all geeks (paca)

You know how people always say that sci-fi, fantasy, and superheroes (sffsh) are all for geeks and nerds and people living in their parents basement when they are 35? I just took a look at the top box office movies of all time, and it looks like the whole world is made up of geeks. Here's the list (with comments):

Release
Date
1 Titanic $600,788,188 12/19/1997 (not really sffsh)
2 Star Wars $460,998,007 05/25/1977 (sci-fi)
3 Shrek 2 $441,226,247 05/19/2004 (animated fantasy for kids and adults)
4 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial $435,110,554 (sci-fi) 06/11/1982
5 Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace $431,088,301 (sci-fi) 05/19/1999
6 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest $423,315,812 07/07/2006 (not elves and dragons, but people with octopus heads, sword fighting, curses, and takes place in a mythical version of human history - this is basically fantasy)
7 Spider-Man $403,706,375 05/03/2002 (super hero)
8 Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith $380,270,577 05/19/2005 (sci-fi)
9 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King $377,027,325 12/17/2003 (fantasy)
10 Spider-Man 2 $373,585,825 06/30/2004 (superhero)
11 The Passion of the Christ $370,782,930 02/25/2004 (ok, not)
12 Jurassic Park $357,067,947 06/11/1993 (sci-fi premise, but I'll give it a pass)
13 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers $341,786,758 12/18/2002 (fantasy)
14 Finding Nemo $339,714,978 05/30/2003 (not)
15 Forrest Gump $329,694,499 07/06/1994 (fantastical and mythical version of reality, but we'll say not for our purposes here)
16 The Lion King $328,541,776 06/15/1994 (not)
17 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone $317,575,550 11/16/2001 (fantasy)
18 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring $314,776,170 12/19/2001 (fantasy)
19 Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones $310,676,740 05/16/2002 (sci-fi)
20 Return of the Jedi $309,306,177 05/25/1983 (sci-fi)

By my count then 14 of the top 20 grossing films of all time are sci-fi, fantasy, or superheroes. But maybe this isn't a fair list, since things like Attack of the Clones kind of suck and are there clearly because of a huge fan base. That may not really work as a criticism, but let's drop out all sequels from the list. We end up with:

Titanic (no)
Star Wars (yep)
E.T. (yep)
Pirates of the Caribbean (yep)
Spider Man (yep)
Lord of the Rings (yep)
The Passion of the Christ (no)
Jurassic Park (yes)
Finding Nemo (no)
Forrest Gump (no)
The Lion King (no)
Harry Potter (yep)

That gives us seven yes and five no still.

You could say that the geek fan base is still small but rabid, and that a small number of people are just seeing the sci-fi fantasy ones over and over. However, I remember reports about teen girls seeing Titanic a whole bunch of times. (I saw it three times myself, I think.) No reports on the others, but I have a feeling that kids saw Finding Nemo more than once. I'm someone who really like Forrest Gump and saw it around four times. So that doesn't really work. And, final question, do any of these 12 movies above occur in the real world as it truly is?

...

I don't think any of them do. You could make a case for the Passion or Gump, but those are doubtful. I guess Titanic is the real world. Maybe larger than life and unrealistic and over-simplified, but still basically reality. So one of 12.

No, my conclusion is that as far as spending money on movie tickets goes, most people like to explore the mythical and impossible. The supposed geeks are the norm.

--To show how much of a geek I am, however, I was interested in just how much higher Titanic is from everyone else, so to get the big picture, I graphed it. (Which took 3 minutes.) Here you go.


All data from: http://movies.yahoo.com/mv/boxoffice/alltime/

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Quick Hits 634-5789

1) It looks like I have a new continuation over at EE. Again, I'm doing the continuation, not the original.

2) Here's the 634-5789 reference in case it's not immediate for you. And because it's me and I can't help myself. Here's Mustang Sally, Everybody needs somebody, In the Midnight Hour, a studio version of Land of 1000 Dances, and a looser live version. All sung by Mr. Wilson Pickett.

3) We got our first nativity set for B and it was opened up today. I don't think B quite has the story down yet. Right now apparently the Nativity Story involves B grabbing the two boxes of presents from the three kings and taking off into the other room. We are then supposed to grab another character - Mary, a camel, a wise man - and chase after B saying, "Give them back! Those presents are for the baby!" He finds this hysterical. I was doing different characters chasing after the stolen presents and (perhaps with Evil Editor inspiration) found myself making Joseph into a zombie going after B. That was a little over the top for me, so I toned it back down. Later as N was cooking dinner B had the baby Jesus and an angel going down the stable roof as a slide. I kept thinking we were going to end up doing the Nativity X-Games. The Wise Kings doing some dune surfing. You get the idea.

We didn't.

4) Nina Simone started doing this Gershwin tune from Porgy and Bess in the 50s. Her live version transforms the song into something you didn't know it could be. Here she is again in 1962. The main part of the song starts about 1:00 in.
Nina Simone - I Love You Porgy - 1962

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Window shopping Waikiki (paca)

Back on November 24, the family went to the annual Christmas parade down Kalakaua Ave. in Waikiki. Our camera's batteries largely died so I will only give you a pic of our Santa. If you can tell, he's dressed in shorts and an aloha shirt, which is the normal Hawaiian Santa. After that, there is a series of pics we took while waiting for the parade to start. These are the stores on a three block strip from Kalaimoku to Lewers (all on the main drag Kalakaua) right near our place. It's basically the window displays of about 10 stores, so you can imagine yourself walking Waikiki and window shopping. (After seeing the quality of the pictures, you can also imagine yourself drunk and window shopping.) Captions are under the pictures this time.





Mele Kalikimaka - it's the thing to say.





This is one of the high-end blocks. So here we have a Tiffany's display.





We think this is Gucci. Oh, and that's B.





Chanel, we think. Insert your own thoughts on what this image conveys.





After this the high-end strip, things become a lot more mixed, as you will see. Here's one of the million cheap shirt stores.





A ramen / noodle shop.





If you walk down Lewers from our place, around this three block strip and back, you will pass 4 ABC stores. That's Waikiki.





There are a lot of these gun clubs catering to Japanese tourist. I am assuming that handguns and such are illegal in Japan, but that's just a guess.





I like how the adult video store has their own window fashion display to go with everyone else. Along with Tiffany's, Coach, Gucci, etc. you can pass three XXX adult video stores in the same three blocks. They seem to cater to all tourists. OK, mostly all male tourists.





No Waikiki street would be complete without an opportunity to wear an Aloha shirt. For the record, aloha shirts are kind of like formal wear. You won't catch your generic person in them, but they are worn for occasions like weddings and graduations. The bank manager will also greet you in one.





Diesel





Puma. Supposedly, our travel industry discovered that Japanese tourists like to shop when on vacation and Mainland tourists like to lay on the beach and get sunburned. Most of the expensive stores are designed for our Japanese guests. Max Mara at the end of the street will carry fur-lined boots at this time of year. It's 75 out here. Locals aren't the targets.





B looking into the future at Louis Vuitton. Just a couple days earlier they had some clothing in the window with actual prices. Things like: handkerchief: $350. It's just these sun-light things now.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Tito Puente

Timbale Party

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Get up with your get down (paca)

I've been told that my music essays are just too long. And so, I'm going to try something else, namely just posting one video - Paca's Daily Music Burst or some such thing. And so here we have Kool & the Gang performing / lipsyncing to Jungle Boogie on Soul Train. Because of the other song they seem to do, I'm guessing this is 1975 or 1976. For those who don't know the people in the band, Kool is not the guy doing the lead vocals who looks pretty much like a pimp. Kool is actually the bass player. Pimp-looking guy is Donald Boyce and according to one of my albums was originally in the road crew or something like that. After Jungle Boogie was a big hit, he does appear on a couple other tracks to do the same sort of thing. He is also not, therefore, the lead singer who came in for Ladies Night and Celebration and such. That guy's name is James Taylor. You'll see him some other day when I post one of those videos.

Kool & the gang - Jungle boogie


But since its me and I always write more than anyone wants, here are links to videos of Warcraft, stick figures, and guinea pigs all dancing to Jungle Boogie.

Warcraft boogie


Stick figure boogie


Guinea pig boogie

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Belfast Cowboy

Here I am sharing music again. This time we have Van the Man - Van Morrison. I'm not going to attempt to write a bio or review his entire body of work. Instead, I am just going to post links to some of my favorite Van tunes, if YouTube has a decent version. I do forget just how long he has been around, however. To see that, here we have Van as the lead singer of Them performing Mystic Eyes and then Gloria - garage rock song bar none. 1964 and wow does he look young. I'd forgotten he ever was like this:

Mystic Eyes - Gloria



Old school. Next up we have two of my favorite songs, period. Like it was for many, the effect of Into the Mystic was immediate. I still just don't comprehend how he gets this feel from the music. I've strummed the chords and they don't produce the feeling he captured here. This link is someone else showing shots of sea life with Into the Mystic in the background.

Into the Mystic



Next up is Angelou. What to say about this one. The llama and I roomed together for a year or so in 97 or something like that. For people who know the llama in person, they know that he is an admirer of Prince's music. He and I used to have endless discussions about connections between Prince and Van. One of the connections is that both like to explore connections between earthly love and spiritual love. For many Prince tunes, you think he is singing about sex, but he's actually (or also) talking about God. For Van, it's not so directly sexual, but instead focuses on the romantic relationship and mines it for spiritual qualities. Here in Angeliou, Van sings of meeting someone in Paris that he feels an instant and deeply soulful connection to. The real meat starts around 2:50. He hears Angelou's story (a story of feeling really) and is so moved that he can only burst out with "Will you be my baby?" Around 5:00 or so, Van says he's gonna tell his story only his story ain't got no words, and he can only moan it. It's the same story, I think. (The video quality here is quite poor.)

Angeliou



In a similar vein but with a much faster tempo we have Cleaning Windows from the early 80s, I believe. This one tells of a Van living his life cleaning windows, blowing saxophone on the weekend in a down joint, and reading Kerouac and Christmas Humphries. Along with Leadbelly, Blind Lemon, Muddy Waters, and Hank Williams. It can come off as a list, but again its the juxtaposition of these things which make them interesting. Reading Humphries' take on Buddhism is part of a spiritual search, but so is Hank Williams and window cleaning.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QiZgl7jQxo

Next up we have Days Like This from the mid 90s. Each decade or so he puts out a live album and his A Night in San Francisco is in top form. I can recommend it. This is the rough band, but they do nail it more consistently on the album than in this video. Still good though.

Days Like This



Van and John Lee Hooker have worked together periodically since the 70s when they did a duet on a Hooker album. Their I Cover the Waterfront from one of Hooker's last albums is brilliant. You can't really hear John Lee well here, but I like seeing the interplay between the two. Hooker passed away a year or two back.

Don't Look Back



Here's a concert performance of In the Garden. I'll just give some words:

"No guru, no method, no teacher
just you and I in nature
and the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost
in the garden all misty wet with rain."

In the Garden



And just for the fun of it. Here's a video of Van and John Lee going back in time and re-doing Gloria. I think this is from the 1990 Too Long in Exile LP.

Gloria 2

Monday, December 11, 2006

Them's a lotta mammals (paca)

There was a fun review of a recent survey of marine life on Yahoo's AP news feed this evening. Here's the link

Unfortunately, they have this one sentence in the article which makes me question everything else there.

"Ausubel said there are nearly 16,000 known species of marine fish and 70,000 kinds of marine mammals. A couple of thousand have been discovered during the census."

Granted, I'm not a biologist but I do play one on my blog and 70,000 mammals? In the ocean? First, that's more different types of mammals than there are fish in the sea by a factor of 4. We need to switch the saying about "There's always another fish in the sea" to something about the great marine mongoose. Second, let's name some marine mammals, shall we? Whale. Porpoise. Dolphin.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

Manatees are fresh water.

Seal, sea lion, walrus.

That's 6. I have to come up with 69,994 more? I'll give them that there are several species of each of those items. Anyway, since I'm beating a dead seahorse with this joke, I'll assume that they just meant 70,000 animals. But then that doesn't seem enough? 70,000 Eukaryotes?

Assuming they didn't mess up the rest (and if someone knows that there are in fact more mammals in the sea than fish, please ridicule me in the comments), there are some very cool discoveries in the survey (with comments (and stereoypes), of course added):

Highlights of the 2006 research included:

_Shrimp, clams and mussels living near the super-hot thermal vent in the Atlantic, where they face pulses of water that is near-boiling despite shooting into the frigid sea. (Oh, so some fish live in a jacuzzi. I'm supposed to be impressed with that? "Look at me, ma! I'm in a jacuzzi!" "I'll tell your father so he can call Ripley's."

_In the sea surrounding the Antarctic, a community of marine life shrouded in darkness beneath more than 1,600 feet of ice. Sampling of this remote ocean yielded more new species than familiar ones. ("Honey, the striped zebra fish next door is moving to Argentina. She says we're in for a cold front." "No problem, there's only two minutes left in this game. How long could it go on? We'll have plenty of time before we are encased in 1600 feet of ice." On the other hand, property taxes are very low. Or... ticket to Antartica $2000. Passage on an icebreaker $300. Hush money to the mafia $1200. Seeing your obnoxious brother-in-law encased under 1600 feet of ice. Priceless.)

_Off the coast of New Jersey, 20 million fish swarming in a school the size of Manhattan. (That was actually only one fish that was born near Three Mile Island. The fish also makes a mean bagel."

_Finding alive and well, in the Coral Sea, the type of shrimp called Neoglyphea neocaledonica, thought to have disappeared millions of years ago. Researchers nicknamed it the Jurassic shrimp. (I think they should have used Neoglyphea neocaledonica in Lost World II. Would have improved the movie.)

_Satellite tracking of tagged sooty shearwaters, small birds, that mapped the birds' 43,500-mile search for food in a giant figure eight over the Pacific Ocean, from New Zealand via Polynesia to foraging grounds in Japan, Alaska and California and then back. The birds averaged a surprising 217 miles daily. In some cases, a breeding pair made the entire journey together. ("The sooty shearwater travels 217 miles a day with his wife and I can't even get you to walk around the block after dinner!" BTW, isn't the "sooty shearwater" the lamest name ever for a bird that can travel 217 miles a day, all the way from New Zealand to Californa to Japan and back? And doesn't that name make you want to accidentally curse? Try saying it 3 times fast. Now try saying "I am a mother pheasant plucker. I pluck mother pheasants. I am the best mother pheasant ever to pluck a mother pheasant.")

_A new find, a 4-pound rock lobster discovered off Madagascar. (Aaaahh! Aaaahhh! Aaaahhh! Aaaaaahhhhhh! Rock Lobster! Cue B52s here.)

_A single-cell creature big enough to see, in the Nazare Canyon off Portugal. The fragile new species was found 14,000 feet deep. It is enclosed within a plate-like shell, four-tenths of an inch in diameter, composed of mineral grains. (Sounds like it would be good for my South Beach diet.)

_A new type of crab with a furry appearance, near Easter Island. It was so unusual it warranted a whole new family designation, Kiwaidae, named for Kiwa, the Polynesian goddess of shellfish. Its furry appearance justified its species name, hirsuta, meaning hairy. (The Goddess of Shellfish. That's awesome. With the hair, I wonder if this crab is one of those 70,000 mammals out there. I can't wait to get some hairy crab milk in the stores here. I'm going to go drop a suggestion in my Safeway's comment box for hairy crab creamer. Here's a commercial:

Man hands his wife a cup of coffee. Wife drinks but looks disappointed.

"Honey, this coffee is missing something."

"I know! But what?"

"It needs to taste more fishy!"

"Fishy? Yes, fishy coffee is exactly what I want!

"But how do we find that one of a kind fishy creamy taste?"

Cartoon hairy crab descends from the sky.

Couple look at each other with big smiles and nod, knowing what to do. They each reach up and milk the hairy crab's teats, shooting a little jet of milk into their coffee cup.

"Mmmmm!!"

"Now, that's what I needed!"

Jingle starts.

Crabby creamer! Crabby creamer!
Oooohhhh! The creamy crab!


Man reaches hand up for one last shot of cream into his coffee, but Crabby looks down and snaps him with a claw so hard a finger is chopped off and blood spurts around the table,

Woman shakes her head knowingly. "Oh, crabby!")

pacapaca

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Llama saves us all!!(paca)

We haven't heard much from the llama recently of course. And now I know why. Apparently he's been developing tiny antibodies to use as bioweapon detectors.

Good work, llama.

But you know if camels and llamas both have these antibodies, then guess what other animal probably does as well.

That's right.

But do I get any credit? No, of course not. It's always llama this and llama that in the world of camelids. "llama, carry my water for me." "llama, carry my packs over the Andes." "llama, use your blood to warn me of biological weapons." "Oh, llama, you are such a useful and wonderful animal. I love you, llama."

But do you ever hear about the alpaca? No.

I mean, ok, ok, we're a little bit shorter.

And llamas are a bit stronger.

But they freaking spit, people! You walk up, give them your little candy apple, and if the llama was in the mood for a Fuji and you gave him Granny Smith, well, you're going to be wiping a big llama loogie out of your eye.

Disgusting.

But alpacas don't spit. Oh no, we are accomodating and will eat whatever old rotten apple you throw at us (since you're saving the juicy Pacific Rose for the stupid llama anyway). You can even toss something icky like a Red Delicious and we'll eat it. Ok, ok, we might pee on your shoe to make a point, but that's better than a llama loogie.

And, ladies, who would you rather cuddle up to at night, huh? Some sweaty llama who just hiked across Bolivia with a pair of 100 pound saddle bags? Can we say stinky and fly infested? No, you want to lie by the campfire with your body nestled against the walking breathing blankie known as the alpaca. Just give my fur a little squeeze.

mmm

nice, isn't it?

that's what I thought.

you likey.

paca likey

let me just toss some water on the fire to make it a little darker....




"Run, bio weapon attack!"

Oh yeah, your real life significant might be cuddly, but can he do that? I didn't think so.

So, take a number. Paca's line of love starts at the door.

Random Fact 1 (paca)

Random fact about paca that I just realized:

I haven't had cable TV in my home in 12 years. In fact, I've never had cable as an adult.

Isn't that weird for a 33 year old?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Quick Hits OU812 (paca)

1) You learn a lot more about pants made of the skin of various animals than you want to know when you name your blog goatskin pants. My little statcounter logs search engine keywords and virtually every day someone is searching for skin from goats, skin from llamas, cow skin, etc. In the same vein, llama once did a post about Lindsey Lohan being too skinny, but he typoed it and wrote "Lindsy". Now, everyone else who does the same typo about "Lindsy" ends up here. You find out a lot about people's interests in Lindsy as well. You get the predictable "Lindsy pics" and "Lindsy nude". Today we got "Lindsy Lohan shaven."

2) I got in trouble with B (For my new reader, bunny, B is my 3 year old son) today. Last night I cooked up a trout for the two of us and for some reason I made a point of showing him the process. It was a whole trout, so I showed it to him in all its full glory. Then he watched me cutting the tail and head off. I later made the point that I was eating the trout at dinner. Today B asked (for the 10th time) what happened to the catfish. I told him that I ate it (for the 10th time). Today, as we were driving, he said something like. "What happened to the catfish? You cut the tail off. That's not nice. Time out!"

3) Why did I only cook dinner for the two of us? N is in Chicago as of this morning for another conference. She will be back on Monday.

4) OK, I guess I should mention this now, since it is sort of coming up. N's stepfather died about two weeks ago. N's mom remarried when N and I were in Mississippi together when I was doing the last bout of grad school (M.A. in philosophy). They were married for 11 years. N's mom has been handling the funeral in the last couple days, and then she's traveling to Chicago to spend a few extra days with N once the conference is over. So they will have about 4 days together.

5) I'm spending my life working on my final project in the Matlab programming language. It's the project both for my Acoustic Phonetics course and Machine Learning Algorithms course. I've never really programmed (I did some web stuff a few years back), so I am teaching myself the language and how to program at the same time. The huge breakthrough today was "mat2str" which converts a matrix value to a string. Took me hours to find that function. OK, I first had to convert the cell array to a regular array and then to a string. It's actually kind of fun if there wasn't this deadline of Friday looming on the horizon. In other school news I have my French Phonetics final exam tomorrow morning, which I will do a quick review for after B is in bed (which should be about 15 minutes). I have something like a 97 or 98 average, so I'm not stressing about this one.

Rock of Ages (paca)

Earlier tonight I heard a neighbor's car go squealing out of their driveway blasting The Scorpions' Rock You Like a Hurricane. "Man, that's a guy living in the past," I thought. It made me think about the Pontiac Fiero. That's the car llama wanted when we were 9. I wanted the Toyota MR2, as I recall. That's if I couldn't have the uber cool Chevy Z28 Camaro. Then I thought, "hey, you can't make fun of him. You're posting videos from the 60s and getting all nostalgic." Then I said to myself, "But it's not MY past I'm reliving. I wasn't even alive in the 60s." Then the men in whitecoats came.

If you too would like to relive middle school or high school or elementary school (or your children's school), here are some YouTube links to early 80s glam rock.

Rock You Like A Hurricane - Scorpions



This next one I really liked when I was a kid. Def Leppard - Rock of Ages. That was always the quintessential Def Leppard song. Pour Some Sugar on Me** was nothing. There's a long family history with this tune. My older brother - coolest guy on earth - formed a band in high school called Trent and the Magnum Flash. My brother was Trent the lead singer. The Flash was his still best friend who played the guitar. And Magnum played the drums, better known as two pencils on the table next to the cassette player. They recorded a parody of Rock of Ages called "Latin" with lyrics like:

"I love Cicero
You bet ya
Long live Cicero

...

We've got the cases
got the endings
just take the courses
and you can learn it too!

You too!"

Well, how amazing is that, no?

So the llama and I had our own band. Joe and the Bad People. We had llama on mouth guitar, me with pencils (I think), and we took turns singing. I was Joe. Llama was "Ugly" and one of us was Ugly Jr., but I'm blanking on who. We sung "Bandin' Bait" which was our version of Latin. I can't remember the lyrics at all anymore, but it was only four lines. You can guess their high quality from the fact that "bandin" isn't even a word.

Anyway, the video.

Deff Leppard - Rock of Ages



And here are just some more videos from the era.

Ratt-Round and Round



Quiet Riot - Bang Your Head



Poison - I want action



Actually, even at that age, I thought Poison looked pretty dumb. The videos (other than Rock of Ages) that I did love were all the ZZ Top ones. I still listen to the little old band from Texas on a pretty regular basis. Being me, it's mostly the 70s stuff. However, my addiction to 80s MTV would not be complete without some ZZ videos. I once went to visit my uncle in Austin around 11 or so and he kept wanting to take me out to, you know, do things. Go swimming at Barton Springs (cold!!), see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at UT, eat ice cream. I only wanted to stay inside and watch videos like these:

ZZ Top - Sharp Dressed Man



ZZ Top - Legs



ZZ Top - Gimme All Your Lovin



ZZ Top - TV Dinners



By the way, if you ever work for a computer company in the late 90s and there's a ZZ Top concert in town, don't send an email to your 22-23 year old co-workers asking if anyone would like to go. Apparently, that's a huge fashion faux pas. ZZ Top is not cool to such a group. I guess Nine Inch Nails or something would've been alright, but apparently not ZZ. However, if you are ever getting beat up on as a typical liberal on a conservative southern blog, that is the time to mention you have every ZZ album. Instant creds right there. I was immediately switched from crazy wacko to guy who's alright despite mistaken beliefs. Works kind of like football but better.

**OK, this cracks me up. The last memory I have of seeing the Pour Some Sugar on Me video is on my dorm TV in 10th grade or so in 1987. But I knew, knew!, that there was something that made the video worthwhile even if you didn't like the rest of it - the girl with the Eyes.... So I was just watching it, and it kept going and going and there was no girl with the Eyes. And then, there she is. For two seconds right at 3:51 or so. The Eyes. Those must have been some affecting eyes that they stick with me 19 years later.

***Last bit of nostalgia. The Eyes remind me of Bruce Springsteen. I was never a Bruce fan at the time, even though he was huge. But I liked Dancing in the Dark alright. And the reason was the woman who is pulled up on stage with him at the end to dance. I think most people know now that that actress, as it turns out, is Courtney Cox.

Mental health at Ft. Carson (paca)

There was a killer report on NPR in the last couple days about mental health treatment in the army. On the one hand, you have all of the official procedures which say everything you'd want to hear - training for officers to recognize problems, especially post-combat issues, programs in place to treat members of the military, help being provided to those who have put their lives on the line for their country. On the other hand, those policies are running up against the very common "real man" attitude, further enhanced in the military, that things like post-traumatic stress (old shell shock) and depression are phantom diseases, and the person just needs to either stop making up crap because he's afraid to go back on another tour of duty or just get over it and straighten themselves out. They need to act like a man. Here's the link:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6575431

For some reason, the entire story as it ran yesterday on All Things Considered is not in the write-up here. It may or may not be part of the "Listen to the story" link. The basic problem is summed up at the end (not in the write-up) when they interview a sergeant who talks about how these guys with their stupid mental health problems are betraying their fellow soldiers. They fought together and would die to save another on the battlefield, and then they come home and these cowards can't keep their lives together. They are emotionally weak and are turning their backs on their fellow soldiers with these made-up diseases. It never occurs to the sarge that he is turning his back on a fellow soldier who is falling apart.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Nesmith videos

A few posts back I did my imitation of a teen girl gushing over her rock band crush when I talked about my purchase of the new Mike Nesmith and Lambchop albums. I always like sharing things I like with people I like, so I'd really love (make that like) to post a few of my favorite Mike Nesmith songs and then you could judge for yourselves. Unfortunately, that's illegal. So I am going to turn instead to our friends at YouTube and use links to stuff that's there. The main drawback to this is that I can only link to whatever they happen to have instead of what I most like, which isn't always the same. Also, since YouTube is a video site, what's there is the Nesmith videos from when he was inventing music video in 1982 and Monkees videos. Still, it's a start.

For lack of a better idea, I'm going to start as far back in time as I can go, which means I'm starting with the Monkees. As most of you are well aware, the Monkees were not a real band for a long time. They were actors hired to play a band on a comedy show. This normally would be fine, but 1) the songs were so immensely popular that they outsold the Beatles (the Monkees outsold Sergeant Pepper in '67, and if you are putting up numbers like that people want some artistic merit, and 2) they happened to be envisioned in 1965 when it was common place for pop bands to sing other people's songs on top of studio musicians, but they actually came out when the rock world was changing to the politically charged psychedelic world of the singer-songwriter and the summer of love. If you look at enough of the videos I will link to, you will see this transition. This all meant that they had one incredibly successful year, then one mediocre year, then the show was done. Despite the fact that the Monkees were hired as actors, they always sang their songs, which of course is how most pop musicians now do things again, and somehow Nesmith, who was always a guitarist and songwriter, got a couple of his tracks on every album from the first all the way up.

Here is a YouTube video of one of Nez' songs on the very first album called Papa Gene's Blues.

Monkees - Papa Gene's Blues



The format for the first two Monkees albums was that the albums were filled with (often quite good) tracks from other songwriters with Mickey or Davy singing - and two Nez tracks. Except for Daydream Believer, all the big hits were Mickey sung and he did have a fine pop voice. Nez had some success as a songwriter while a Monkee. He actually penned Linda Ronstadt's first big hit - Different Drum. Here's a live version of it, since that's all YouTube has. I would guess 1966 or so still.

Stone Pony's Different Drum



And in case you don't really believe that Ronstadt tunes were penned by a Monkee, here is a comedy version of the song on the show performed by Mike.

Monkees - Different Drum bit



I've found a fair list of Nez Monkees tunes on YouTube. Here are some links if you wanna go crazy. These are all Nez tunes and usually Nez sung, but a couple are Mickey sung as well. My favorites are closer to the top. Oh, wait, What Am I Doing Hangin' Round is Nez sung, selected, and produced, but not written. (The sound doesn't always sync in these.)

What Am I Doin' Hanging Round?
The Girl That I Knew SomewhereA sprightly Nez rocker as it is always called. Sound's not quite right.
You Just May Be The One
Sunny Girlfriend
Mary Mary(If this sound vaguely familiar, RunDMC covered it in the 80s.)
Sweet Young Thing. Another Nez sort of rocker
Daily Nightly Supposedly one of the first uses of the Moog syntheizer in a commerical context. Nez's lyrics are going off into word poems (and drugs).
Listen To The BandStarts with the Monkees playing a nice country rock number. Turns into.... no idea. Nothing good.

One notable song of Nez' which all hardcore Monkees / Nez fans know is Circle Sky. In '67, the Monkees decided to go on tour, which meant that everyone else had to play instruments suddenly. They did a decent job learning all the Monkees hits (but not a great one if you hear the '67 Live album). One contribution Nez made to the project was writing a classic garage band song that would be incredibly easy to play. The verses only have one real chord and the refrain three. In watching this video, you can see why the Monkees died within 3 years of outdoing the Beatles in popularity. On the one hand, we have a nonsense garage song as the music. But then this is 67 or 68 when you had to have a political position and you will see this rock number interspersed with shots from the Vietnam war, including an execution. And yet, watch the girls in the audience screaming during the tune. They aren't there for anti-war expressions. They are there to scream at their adorable Monkees. The Monkees didn't know how to make the transition and they went away. You stay bubblegum, and you are trivial and meaningless. You go political, and you lose your fans. Anyway, the video:

Monkees - Circle Sky



If you want to see more Monkees stuff such as I'm a Believer and Daydream Believer, there's a good bit on YouTube that you can get nostalgic with.

Peter Tork (who incidentally went to my and N's college) left the Monkees first and Nez followed soon after. He recorded a bunch of country rock albums in the early 70s that will be his claim to musical history, as he was exploring the world of country rock just on the cusp of its birth. Graham Parsons and the Eagles and such will all start recording a year or two later. There are really no Nez solo songs from the early 70s on YouTube. However, I did find this Monkees clip which is a song only released on one of Nez' solo albums and is exactly the right sort of material. I think this is an appearance on Johnny Cash' show.

Monkees - Nine Times Blue



Here are two more tunes from Nez' early solo period. The first is a beautiful song called "propinquity" which someone set to his own drawings.

Nez - Propinquity



And then here, we've got a couple guys doing a cover of Nez' Crippled Lion. They really do a bang-up job, though they are missing a couple instruments.

Sorta Nez - Crippled Lion



In the late 70s Nez re-discovered video just as home video was starting to take-off. It's rather difficult to see these videos today as they were seen in 1980-82, but these are all, I believe, from Nez' video Elephant Parts, which won the first ever Grammy for music video. Nez' role is not exactly clear, but he seems to have been one of the first people tagged to create MTV, due to this and other video work, but he backed out. Here is probably his best tune from this period, called Rio, and you will see that the comedy is back.

Nez - Rio



Pretty hard to see what Nez is up to on this one (Cruisin'), but if you are unclear about his seriousness on this one, just skip to about 3:15, and he makes it clear how seriously he's taking this.

Nez - Cruisin'



Along the same vein, Nez was a movie producer at this time and produced RepoMan (a cult movie I've never really liked) and Tapeheads. Tapeheads stars an early John Cusack and Tim Robbins as slimy music video producers who produce the stupidest junk they can think of - which looks exactly like early 80s music videos which everyone thought were amazing. I can recommend it.

Elephant Parts was the 45 minute video which won the Grammy and it is a combination of videos like the above and comedy skits. Some excerpts of the comedy bits can be seen here.

Nez - Elephant Parts - Excerpts



There was a network TV show that followed called Television Parts - that was cancelled before the first season ended.

And, unfortunately, this is where I have to end. YouTube has no Nesmith after the early 80s, even though probably his best album "Tropical Campfires" is yet to come. Perhaps the best place to get a sampling of Nez is on the Live at the Britt Festival live CDs in the mid 90s. CD 1 is the 70s stuff. CD 2 is Tropical Campfires. You can get snippets here.

You can hear a streaming version of the latest album here.

And just for old times sake, here is the great Monkees reunion concert from 1996 when they finally talked Nez into joining them. He only made it for one concert and took off again, but you can see them doing Circle Sky yet again.

Monkees - Circle Sky

Saturday, December 02, 2006

A little cat people (paca)

Anyone who has stopped by Evil Editor will have noticed that my little opening did not meet with critical acclaim. (The consensus seems to be that the idea is good; the writing bad.) It sent me off looking through my old writings to put something here to show that, no, really, I can write OK! Really!

Anyway, one of my biggest and incomplete projects that I have lying around is - ahem:

"Journey to the North:
How the Pinandam were Discovered and Returned to Seauni by the Most Holy Kibin in the Year 725.

Based upon the Kalabinabeso of Sonodanne as well as the Holy Tradition of Seauni.

Translated into Anspik by Joseph Hayd."

Actually, that's the short version. The title is accompanied by a fair amount of world-building - mostly working on the religion, as well as my invented language for the Seauni with its written script.

In the world building, I have several things that I still understand. (Oh, I should have said that I did this work about 10-11 years ago. I had found a Teach Yourself Sanskrit book, and I found the writing system so cool that the Seauni script got created in its image. Remember this was about 7 years before it occurred to me to study linguistics.) One set of creatures is the angel, who are anything but. Essentially, they are 20 foot long dragon flies (skeeter hawks still, Sammy) with gorgeous shimmering wings that make them look like angels. Unfortunately, they like to scoop up people and eat them. Then on one page in a top margin I have scrawled:

little cat people

huh.

I have no idea what that is. People are welcome to tell me in Comments just what a little cat people would be like. Have at it.

Ooh, I just found the "beetlemen" who are "scholars of a sort". I wonder what the heck that was.

Kalabinabeso snippet (paca)

If it isn't obvious enough from the "Journey to the North" title, the story is a rip-off of three things: 1) The classic Chinese novel "Journey to the West" which is the fictional telling of the Buddhist Monk Hsuan-tsang's (also called Tripitaka sometimes, or Xuan Zang, I believe, in pinyin) journey to India to retrieve the sutras. The character that most people know from this work is the Monkey King (Sun Wu-Kong), who was the great warrior with his gold clothes and staff with which he fought the gods. Only the Buddha himself was able to corral Monkey. The story is full of the fantastical. 2) The real account by the real Hsuan-tsang who really travelled to India to bring sutras back to Chang-An (modern Xian where the Qin Emperor's tomb is) during the Tang dynasty (7th to 9th centuries). 3) The Travels of Marco Polo. What I am grabbing from the Marco Polo thing is his own use of the fantastical. You've got some amazing real details about life all across Asia from his account, and then you've got weird places where he refers to the blue-skinned two-headed people. WTF?

Anyway, I too developed 4 main characters just like Journey to the West - the monk known as the Kibin in this world, a young male scholar who is along for the ride, Xara who is a type of goddess made of the rolling white water of a river, and "barbarian woman" who it looks like I never got around to naming. Originally, young male scholar was to be the main character and author of the Kalabinabeso. Later I got more interested in barbarian woman and started writing from her point of view.

She's "barbarian woman" because that's how her culture is perceived by the Seauni. She is from the land of snow and fighting, sort of Viking-ish. She's also a giantess. I mean, she's a normal human, but she's close to eight feet, while a typical woman's height is 5'5" or something. She looks normal; she's just big and strong. She's our fighter. Here's the opening draft as I wrote it in 1996 or 7.

====
My father was a huge man. He was vast in both size and will. It was said that he wanted a child more than the sun wants to go across the sky. Since I was to be the only one, he put everything he had into me. And so when I was born I almost killed my mother. She did not walk for a month. By the age of 9 I was as tall as her and at 12 I was as tall as him. Three years later, I look down at my massive father's head and it's clear he overdid it.

Of course, I am not married yet. I have already decided to just live with this fact. "The cria fall where the mother drops them," as they say, so why complain? I don't think I am considered ugly for one of my people. Men just don't like looking up.

I went to see my friend Garsena yesterday. I hadn't gotten word about her since I ran into her husband in town about two weeks ago, so I knew it was time for a hike. My mother said not to go since it's so rude to pay a visit without an invitation. I told her that people already thought I was weird for still living with parents at the age of 17 - long after I should have been on my own. Her eyes dropped at my remark, so I think she took my jibe a little too seriously. I kneeled for her to kiss my ears and then left.

It took a while to collect the dogs. Father had gone out hunting for yaga beasts three night earlier and had just returned. He had lost one dog, ripped open on the underside, on the trip, and the rest were still exhausted in their cave. I am not sure Father actually like naga meat, but he always goes off to the cave region anyway. I think he does it just to terrify my mother. It's amusing really. She won't eat the stuff, even though I know she loves it, just so he'll stop going. I eat it up myself. It's the best meat in the world.

After a lot of searching and prodding, I got the dogs all roped together and the board attached to the back. Sitting up front, which seems easiest on the dogs, I yelled, "An!" and the hairy beasts were off.

We slid over the snow easily as the trail to Garsena's place is flat or slightly down most of the way. It was a perfect day for traveling with the snow just right. Firm enough for speed but soft enough for control. We were almost there when I remembered that Garlena's husband still kept the Zarlonian habit of engaging in observances early in the day instead of at noon, so I switched our course to take the longer route through town. This took me to the main road from Ragar. We slid along so easily that my head soon began to nod. As I was falling into a daze, I noticed that the road had seen even more use than normal lately. There were many proper marks of other boards, but there were also several deep grooves as if a board had been turned on edge and dragged up the road. Several of these occured in parallel lines, two by two.

I think I slept for half an hour. When I woke up, we were within a mile of town. The traffic was so heavy here that the normal snow was packed into ice. Before my senses came around, we hit the final steep hill into town. It was already too late.

We picked up speed very quickly and the dogs were beginning to sprint to keep ahead of the board which was gaining on their feet. I tried to put my hands softly on the snow to gain some traction, but it wasn't enough. I was going to break a dog's leg if I didn't regain control. At a thought, I spread my legs to either side of the board and planted my spiked boots down. With a pop, though, I hit something hard and I was ripped right off the board, flipping end over end down the hill, smashing into the icy snow.
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Well, that's something from 1997. Unfortunately, I think this is sort of like my EE entry. Some interesting things going on here, but the writing is off. There's some weird tense problems that I can't quite get a handle on, as well. Still, there's sharing for you.