and the painted ponies go up and down
the lion of the rabbit
the wheel spins
last month of the second year
The Sleeptalker posted a public message in Seventh Circle suggesting he
had decided to stop playing altogether, and thanking me for having
been one of the few people in there who has been kind to him. I was
deeply touched by it, and extremely annoyed that the Bosses removed the
message from the public bulletin board within hours.
But he didn't stick with his decision and was back in again the next day.
Although I have absolutely no idea what, and neither Cainer nor the I
Ching are suggesting such a thing, I have the strongest presentiment
that something major is going to happen in my life soon. I'm really not
sure I want something major to happen ...
But then, I hadn't asked the I Ching about it. I did, and almost
wished I hadn't.
It's a time to either be very very careful or to say to hell with it and
get my tail wet.
Egbert's birthday. I spent some time the evening before searching the Web
to see if any trace of him might be found, without success (although I was
greatly surprised to see my own Tale about him turn up on two search
machines). It has been more than twenty years since I've heard any news
of him, so have no idea even if he's still alive. But with Harley turning
up after a long absence, who knows, anything could happen.
I was greatly relieved to finish Crime and Punishment. Although I
read it in my teens, I think it must have gone right over my head because
I certainly wasn't touched deeply by it then. Now, though, it easily
qualifies as one of the most difficult books I've ever read. I think I'll
give the Russians a rest.
It's Finals Week on campus, a time of parties for the end of school and
high stress over the upcoming tests. Hamilton Library will be open until
midnight every night. And then we'll have a week of drought and famine, a
deserted campus, the libraries closing at five every night and perhaps not
open at all on the weekends, little tobacco and food. No problem. All I
have to do to prepare for it is to make sure I acquire enough creamer
packets to keep my treasured morning tea available until the summer
session starts on the 24th (sugar I can always get at McD's).
Life goes on, within and without you, within and without the University
being in full swing.
I must admit, the Sleeptalker does now and then manage to completely
astound me, sometimes in a positive sense but, alas, far more often the
opposite. As I was leaving campus just after ten-thirty on Thursday
night, I saw him and a man I'd never seen before arriving. "Don't even
talk to him," the Sleeptalker said with a grin and they kept walking.
Weird, I thought, but then he had been weird in the game all day, starting
out quite surly and then becoming very friendly later in the day.
He had tried to pretend Wacky and I had some quarrel, but I told him I
never had any problem with Wacky on his own and was later standing in the
game chatting with Wacky when the Sleeptalker came across us, listened for
a moment, said nothing and went on his way.
So I had no idea what the story was with the brief encounter Thursday
night, but slept in a different-than-usual spot at the cloisters in case
he arrived down there later, not wanting to be awakened. On Friday
morning I was sitting on the sheltered ledge reading when the Sleeptalker
walked up, alone, in his most charming mode, and he stayed that way all
day. But as I told Kory K later in the morning, I had the feeling this
might be a kind of finale to the Tale of the Reting and Lolo. I know I
should just ignore everything else and enjoy the moments when it is fun to
be with him, but even though I'm doing that more than I've ever managed to
do it with a friendship before, it still can't be entirely rid of
superfluous junk I don't want my mind to be bothered with. I'm willing to
give it up altogether at this point and would, if he didn't keep seeking
But since he did, I borrowed five dollars so we could have a lunchtime
beer, spent more time than I otherwise would have searching for smokes and
food, and then went downhill for a second beer in time for the live music
at Manoa Garden in the evening. As before, he wasn't really interested in
the music, wanted to get back to the game, so when the beer was finished,
we went back to Hamilton and the game. Soon Wacky joined us, a grand
gesture on his part, I suppose, ending an unusually long break between
them. And around nine-thirty, I saw them get up and leave, neither saying
a word. Now that, of course, is just the kind of thing which I shouldn't
give a second thought, should get on with my life again until the
Sleeptalker makes his next appearance. And about an hour later, back they
both came, saying not a word again.
No, it's just too ... what's the word I'm looking for? I don't know, but
I do know I don't want my mind to be wasting its time looking for it.
Earlier this week I read a few of the Tales from this time last year. I
said about the interim week coming up "the off-line weekend, the short
library hours during the week, and the even longer off-line weekend ahead,
plus the comparatively deserted campus, makes for a time quite unlike
anything in these almost-eight months of nomadic life", but I don't see an
indication of the strange, slightly depressing melancholy (or is it
nostalgia) which marks the end of this academic year. I wonder if the
students, especially the Seniors, feel it, too?
This week they're too worried about those final tests to pay much
attention to it, if they do.
The cleaning army are running around in a frenzy, constantly emptying cans
and ashtrays, giving the place the empty wasteland aspect not expected
until that week after the Finals. Not sure what their problem is.
And by mid-afternoon on the first day of tests, some of the students
looked like they had just lost everything they owned and others were
beaming and smiling. Not hard to tell who thought they'd done well and
who was feeling very worried about the results. Another group were being
constantly silly and near hysteria, probably with a tough test coming up
early the next day.
A strange time in academia ...
The Philosophy Department threw out a box of books last week. I was
tempted to take Sartre's Being and Nothingness but didn't want to
lug it around or go back to stash it in my hiding place, thought I'd pick
it up the next day. It was gone. I did get a small volume called Why
India Lives which began as an exposition of Vedic philosophy but
evolved into a comparative study of all the major religions. The author
has a definite knack for throwing the spotlight on unusual points, as in
the case of discussing the Old Testament vs Koran versions of The
Creation. Whereas the O.T. has God "resting" at the end of it, the Koran
makes the specific point that he was not tired and had no need to rest.
Indeed, why should an omnipotent god have to rest?
So that has provided my predawn tea-time reading since the departure of
Dostoyevsky and as I told a friend, only partly in jest, is "light
reading" by comparison. And a little closer, perhaps, to genuine "light"
reading, Dame Fortune left a copy of Tom Wolf's Bonfire of Vanities
in my path on Friday, so I'm set for a few days.
She'll have to rev herself up to provide such finds more often. Both of
the libraries on campus are going to be closed on Saturday throughout the
summer, and Hamilton will only be open during the afternoon on Sunday.
I don't mind. Spending less time on-line isn't at all a bad idea.
Fickle. That's the word I was seeking (as though my mind would stop
pondering it even if told to).
Many men are fond of the Sleeptalker. As I've said, and told him, he has
more "best friends" than anyone I've ever known. Most of them don't want
his body, or don't realize they do, but I'm not the only one who does.
And they all, or perhaps I should say, we all, eventually get exasperated
with him and abandon him for a time. In every instance, he manages to
interpret it as him doing the abandoning and is secure in the experienced
knowledge that, in time, they will return to his flock.
I think only Rocky and I do not eventually seek him out, but wait until he
looks for us or until circumstances cause our paths to cross
I'm not sure why this time I feel more exasperated than before. Perhaps
it was the set and setting of our recent encounters, that odd "ships that
pass in the night" meeting on Thursday or, sitting in the dawn quiet
reading on Friday and hearing his familiar voice ask, "what are you
"A book about God," I said.
"Jesus?" he asked. "No, God." "Oh. God."
An odd beginning to a day with the Sleeptalker, indeed, even more odd than
its peculiar ending. The return of Wacky to the fold, the Sleeptalker
knowing he had walked to the University from downtown (a heartwarming
sensation I understand completely), freed him from needing me, so he
flitted to Wacky as if our day together was already ancient history.
Now the better part of me understands that is exactly as it should be, but
there is still a part that raises an eyebrow and says, with scorn, "fickle
Mister Wolfe writes: "He liked to walk across to Central Park West on
Seventy-Seventh Street and then walk up to Eighty-First, because that took
him past the Museum of Natural History. It was a beautiful block, the
most beautiful block on the West Side ..."
Having been fortunate enough to live on that block for two and a half
years, I couldn't agree more.
I left the Sleeptalker and Wacky at Hamilton on Saturday morning and went
to the mall. Tobacco is in such short supply on campus, as is food, and I
only needed three shopping carts for a bottle of beer. Tobacco was in
short supply at the mall, too, thanks to energetic cleaning persons and
nomadic competitors, but I did find a salad and some curly fries for
lunch, four shopping carts, with no problem. The supermarket there still
sells Hurricane, so I got myself a bottle of that and returned to the
secluded grove to enjoy it and Wolfe.
Back at Hamilton, the poor Sleeptalker was all on his own (his most
dreaded circumstance) because Wacky had gone off "home" to shower. News
to me that he has a "home", but I didn't ask and the Sleeptalker may have
meant IHS. Wacky was supposed to return afterwards, though.
Yes, I can survive Hamilton being closed on Saturday during the summer, no
Incredible. The I Ching once again gave the oracle Possession in
Great Measure for the new week, even more favorably configured. I don't
recall ever before having gotten that oracle in such quick succession. It
made a beautiful Sunday morning even more beautiful.
"Finale"? No. End of Act 2, methinks. A shift, perhaps best symbolized
by having obtained five dollars instead of twenty, by having hunted carts
for a beer and drinking it on my own. The Sleeptalker, I think, sensed a
shift had taken place and no doubt completely unconsciously resumed his
once-upon-a-time so sweetly flirtatious mode. It worked even better
because I didn't take it seriously.
Wacky did not return to the library from "home" (which was indeed IHS) as
expected, but did go to the State Library and tried to persuade the
Sleeptalker to join him at "home" for dinner. It didn't work, even though
I'd told the Sleeptalker I was planning to leave around nine and go to
Waikiki. He had complained bitterly, again, about Wacky and I told him
how they reminded me of two gay lovers, constantly squabbling. He thought
that very funny and said, "oh yes, Wacky's my bitch". I'm not sure which
would be the biggest "bitch" if it really were a love affair, but I do
think it would be good for them both if they just got on with it. Not
going to happen, I fear.
So we played the game, taking occasional breaks together, and I found some
sandwiches someone had discarded so we didn't go hungry, But the
cumulative effect of the strange recent dance with him did have me feeling
really very tired and I took a few long breaks by myself, just to sit and
watch the birds and later the stars, and then decided I just didn't have
the energy to tackle an expedition into Waikiki. So we stayed until
almost midnight, walked downhill to the cloisters and he went over the
fence to his spot, climbing back again in the morning just as I was
preparing to leave. Since the library wasn't opening until noon, he had
already decided to walk down to IHS for a shower and lunch, so we parted
outside the cloisters.
I was happy he went on his way, was looking forward to the morning on the
quiet, deserted campus, and to continuing Tom Wolfe's highly amusing
Possession in Great Measure, Act 2. Reting and Lolo, Act 3.
I hope His Majesty the King of Nepal is enjoying good health. I dreamed
on Monday night that he had died and, in yet another bizarre
advisor-to-a-prince dream, I had been appointed as consultant to the Crown
Prince and future King. This time it was not the Prince's love life I was
asked to advise upon, but the actual running of the Kingdom! In a speech
to the citizens gathered at a Kathmandu bazaar, I used a deck of cards as
a prop. Some of the cards had been replaced with hand-drawn replicas,
makeshift replacements for lost cards, and I was trying to explain how
that represented Nepal at this point in time, that it was imperative in
this modern world to "play with a full deck".
How very odd.
Bonfire of the Vanities is certainly a good read and often very
amusing but it also has a decidedly depressing side for me. I know, or
knew, too many of those people, participated in too many of the scenarios.
I wonder how Arthur and Catharine, Bob and Abby regard the book. Arthur
undoubtedly didn't read it at all, Catharine just as undoubtedly did. I'd
bet for sure that she saw "friends" in some of the characters but not
herself. Bob, being a writer himself, would probably have regarded it
much as I do, a rather too facilely plotted divertissement, not sharp
enough to really qualify as satire, but clever enough to make lots of
money and ... it must be admitted ... provide some hours of entertainment.
Abby? I'm not sure. I remember with a smile the first evening I was
invited to dinner at their sumptuous new (old) mansion-like apartment on
Sutton Place and gasping when shown the kitchen. "It's as big as the one
at Hampton Court Palace," I said, and she took it well.
One of those dinner party scenes in the novel reminded me, not of that
evening, but of one at a not quite so high-level mansion in Great Neck,
the same kind of party, where commercially successful tycoons and their
spoiled wives gathered to lionize artists, musicians (opera and concert,
only, please) and poets. It was the only time in my life I have hit a
woman. She was such a bitch I hauled off and slapped her without
thinking. It made me a hero. I felt like a louse.
Meanwhile, back to Act 2 of Possession in Great Measure. I stayed at the
mall and beach for most of Sunday. Not having spent much time at the mall
recently, I quite enjoyed wandering around and looking at the people. The
fellow I said sometime ago definitely was a match for the Sleeptalker in
the lust department was sitting outside McD's eating lunch, reading a very
thick book. He works somewhere at the mall in a place which is not on the
casual level but also not at the black-suit Nieman-Marcus/Armani level
either. Long sleeved white shirt, starched and uncreased, nice trousers,
expensive shoes. Handsome devil he is. I'm sure most of my friends would
consider him a "suitable lover" (because he is assuredly gay). Speaking
purely on a physical level, I would agree completely, but reserve further
judgment until I actually speak to him. It seems inevitable, but
there's no hurry.
With the library open 24 hours a day until Friday there is the temptation
to spend far too much time on-line, assisted by some adjustments to
Seventh Circle making it more fun to play again. The Sleeptalker
was playing for most of Monday (from the State Library) and muttered that
he really should walk to UH. I said nothing. Wacky wasn't playing.
Someone asked where he was and the Sleeptalker said he had no idea.
Squabble again, I suppose.
The game is most amusing in the late evening, the State Library closed and
most mainland American players going off to bed, leaving it to me, some
Australians and a few Brits. Then it takes on more of the atmosphere of
Bartle's MUD2, even including one player who played the version of that
game known in America as "British Legends". Oddly enough, he's from
Mililani, but is going to school somewhere in Colorado, has already
suggested having a party when he returns home for the summer soon. I
warned him that gathering all the State Library Brats together at one time
could be quite a hand-full but he assured me his Samoan "cuzzes" could
handle it with no problem.
And oh dear, oh dear, when was the last time I had a beer? It seems like
Must give credit where credit is due. Tom Wolfe is a rather affected
young man (well, young only from my viewpoint now, I guess) who used to
wear white suits and hats, seemed to have picked Truman Capote as his role
model. Not such a bad one to pick, all things considered, since Audrey
Hepburn was well beyond his reach, but even so, it made him somewhat
And then he wrote a book about LSD without having a clue.
The arrest and holding pen scenes from Vanities are delicious, even
brilliant. I wonder how he managed to research it.
I am deeply grateful to Karma that I managed never to get arrested in
Manhattan. I probably should have been, but was so close to dying they
had to take me to Saint Luke's Hospital instead.
It seems to be the norm lately, feeling happy to be finished with a book,
and I felt that way about Vanities, too, when reaching the final
page on Wednesday morning.
Tuesday was an awful day, just plain awful, with little I can say to
explain how that was so. I found myself annoyed with just about
everything and everyone, with or without a real reason for it. The
Sleeptalker was, in a way, quite silly but sweet, trying to make me
jealous of Wacky (as if I'd believe their on-again buddydom would last
more than a few hours). But I wasn't in the mood to play that game,
either, or Seventh Circle for that matter, and when he said publicly,
"hey, Reting, I'll be back in a few minutes, have to go smoke a joint with
Wacky", I left and headed to the beach. The last thing I wanted at that
point was to listen to the two of them stoned in the game. I gather it
was something of the usual disaster and for the rest of the day, all
access to the game from all Hawaii ISPs was blocked.
That appears to have been the Boss's demonstration that he did mean what
he said about blocking access, but he opened it up again on Wednesday
morning, with a whole new set of files dealing with the "laws" of the
game with set punishments for violations, including total deletion of
characters. As the more sensible (?) of us have told him all along, stop
diddling around and just zap the troublemakers. It's no good trying to
get the rest of us to put pressure on them, under threat of banishment.
They tinkered around some more with the game structure, too, which irked
all the "deadly" characters (those who choose to play in the mode where
they attack other "deadly" players) and the game was almost empty on
Wednesday evening. They'll all be back.
Two nights this week I've had a wooden bench at the cloisters, the first
time that has happened in a very long time. Possession in Great Measure.
An offline weekend, from late Friday afternoon until early Monday morning,
was an ironically amusing setting for seeing "The Matrix". Helen R
suggested going into Waikiki on Saturday evening to see it, my first time
in Waikiki in two weeks. I'm definitely a Keanu Reeves fan so would have
enjoyed the film regardless, but in fact I enjoyed it much more than I had
expected. I only wish they had dealt more seriously with the basic
concept, the may-be-battle-to-come between AI creations and "real" people.
If the battle comes, I don't think it will be won with karate and
"The One". The Mahdi. Keanu is getting some strange opportunities in his
career. I'd like to see his Buddha film again, and I wonder if someone
will eventually cast him as Jesus ...
The I Ching is doing a better job of weekly forecasting than
Jonathan Cainer, which is no surprise. The week of Possession in Great
Measure was aptly predicted. As the final days of the school term
arrived, many books were abandoned after the campus resellers refused to
buy them, and I made several trips to my stash box to add more to the
collection. The weekend's reading was an odd mixture of Conan Doyle's
Hound of the Baskervilles, a collection of short stories by Kate
Chopin, Wharton's Ethan Frome, and the as-told-to Narrative of
Sojourner Truth, with in-between perusing of a too-generalized survey
called A Narrative History of the United States.
And on Friday it was also moving-out-of-dorms day so the bonanza of books
was joined by lots of clothes (tee shirts, especially) and assorted
dorm-type "munchies" ... Power Bars, Pop Tarts, microwave popcorn and
such. The oddest find in that category was a large bag of shelled
walnuts. Yummy (and expensive!), a strange thing to abandon. I declined
all the available clothing, have no need of any (and was, in fact, rather
appalled recently when organizing my box of "bail-out" clothes to see how
many things have been added to it since this trip began).
Someone has finally discovered my campus stash box after all this time,
didn't take anything from it but left the box open as well as the plastic
bag containing books. Stupid of them, but fortunately it's in a sheltered
enough place that the rain didn't get to it. There's nothing in the box
I'd be much bothered to lose, but it's annoying that someone finally found
Had it not been so sheltered, the book collection would have been rather
soggy because it was not a dry weekend. It had rained much of the night
on Friday, was still drizzling Saturday morning, then cleared and was a
beautiful, sunny day. But Sunday morning was a soggy mess and I used my
cardboard "mattress" as an umbrella for the walk uphill to campus. Then
there was a period of clear skies and sunshine, but by early afternoon the
clouds had returned and it rained quite steadily for the rest of the day
and evening. This provided a most auspicious time for cart-hunting and
was especially amusing in mid-evening when the light rain turned to
absolutely torrential downpour and people seemed to panic, abandoned carts
all over the place to jump into their cars and escape home. I'd already
found enough for a 40oz bottle of brew but in just a few minutes found
enough for an unexpected smaller nightcap to follow.
I suppose they thought we wouldn't notice but the Red Dog/MGD "dollar
special" has shrunk from 20oz to 16oz. Humbug. After the film on
Saturday, Helen went on to a second feature, so I had a nice late supper
of a Jumbo Jack and a "dollar special" Red Dog, the first time I'd noticed
And so the Week of Famine is here, the interim week on campus before the
Summer Session begins, the library open only from eight-to-five and closed
again next weekend. It certainly didn't begin as "famine" because there
was more than ample food available at the mall, including a quite
delicious four-course Mexican dinner from Cactus Jack's. It looked like
some Japanese visitor had tasted the "Mexican rice", decided it was an
outrage and left everything else untouched. Earlier someone had left a
box of bread and stuff from Love's Bakery and I grabbed a dozen
doughnuts. They weren't especially good doughnuts but went nicely with a
senior coffee from McD's and the birds liked them very much. Another
untouched plate lunch box was left on a ledge. Although it said "cooked
vegetables (baked)", that was only a small portion of the contents, most
of the space occupied by three large pieces of fried chicken and rice. So
I guess Dame Fortune decided to fatten me up on Sunday in preparation for
the campus ghost-town the rest of the week.
I interpret the I Ching's outlook for the week as suggesting it
will begin somewhat murky but will clear and become more fortunate later
in the week. It isn't a week I expect much from, all things considered,
and I'm sure I'll be thoroughly weary of the mall by the time it is over.
As for those loves of my life, not a word or sign has been heard of them
since last Wednesday. None of them showed up in the game on Thursday or
Friday, nor did they appear at the mall over the weekend. I hope they
haven't killed each other or gotten locked up.
Variety may be the spice of life but, for me, one of the greatest joys of
life is synchronicity, "meaningful" coincidence. It needn't be meaningful
in any profound sense, although those are certainly the most impressive.
Sometimes they are merely interesting or amusing.
The former slave, Sojourner Truth, was unable to read. She was keen to
ponder the words of the Bible on her own, without the interpretations of
others, and discovered that young children were the best readers for her.
They would happily repeat a sentence or passage as many times as she
wanted to hear it, whereas an adult reader would be prone to "help her"
understand something she didn't grasp on first hearing. Having so
recently read that erudite tome on comparative religion, it was most
interesting to learn that Sojourner Truth, without ever having heard of
the Koran, came to the same conclusion over the Creation story. Why would
God need to rest, she wondered.
Monday morning on campus I found a murder mystery, Lamb to the
Slaughter, by Elizabeth Quinn and was happy to add it to my collection
since Descartes can only be taken in small doses in the predawn quiet
hour. One of the greatest pitfalls, perhaps the greatest, of keeping an
online journal is the tendency to think of everything that happens in
terms of whether it shall be written about and how. Even my favorite
journal-keepers sometimes adopt an air of casual cynicism, affected wit,
the Critic. So when I thought, "this is a good read but Agatha Christie
she is not", I scolded myself for having turned Critic. Dame Fortune must
have chuckled because not more than an hour later I found a massive
paperback containing seven of Dame Agatha's splendid plays.
It was a cloudy, often wet day and I stayed in one or the other of the
libraries much of the time. Wacky turned up in the game and a brief
appearance by one of the other lads provided the evidence for what has
been going on. That one, "Stoker" as he calls himself in there, has long
been one of my least favorite local players, a patently spoiled brat who
still lives at home and appears to have done little else with his life for
more than a year except play the game. Anyone who has played one of these
multi-player online games for a few months soon recognizes most of the
"types" of players and Stoker is an utter cliche, the type who is
constantly there and blames everything that has gone wrong with his life
on his "addiction" to the game. From the start, the subject of Stoker
has been one I have shunned when talking with the Sleeptalker after
discovering his unwavering intention to defend Stoker. This was partly
the result of Stoker, for a time, putting online his own (pirated) version
of the software, making all of his friends instant high-level players
and constantly nagging people in "Seventh Circle" to play his site
instead. I steadfastly refused.
Stoker is one of the players who was permanently banned after the recent
cheating episode, and in classic Sleeptalker style, he has managed to
interpret that as having given up playing by choice! That alone, though,
is not good enough. He pops into the game from time to time with
differently-named, newly created characters and preaches about the evils
of playing MUD (and particularly, of course, Seventh Circle). And I
gather from what was said yesterday that he has even taken the
extraordinary measure of leaving his bedroom and computer, traveling to
the State Library to convince the lads in person of their folly. The
Sleeptalker would fall hook, line and sinker for that act. Yesterday's
sermonette from Stoker included hosannahs for the "life" they've found
since "giving up MUD", they've got girlfriends now and MUD is no longer of
any interest. All this since Thursday?! And all, of course, said while
actually online in the MUD. Laughable, but pathetic. Wacky seems to have
escaped but, alas, remains silenced in the game so only the fact that he
played most of the afternoon provided evidence.
So I assume the Sleeptalker's "best friend" of the moment is Stoker, Wacky
has been abandoned along with Seventh Circle, and I was left to recall
what I said months ago, that the game itself would provide the release
from my passion for the Sleeptalker.
Meanwhile, man does not live by rice or bean sprouts alone, perhaps, but
in sufficient quantity I suppose those two would keep a man from
starving. They were the diet on the Monday of Famine Week (more widely
known on campus as "Interim Week"). And they were available in
abundance. Three of the staff members appeared to have gotten off-campus
plate lunches, large boxes, each with at least "two scoops" rice, a green
vegetable and bean sprouts instead of the usual macaroni salad. Crumbs
suggested that chicken may also have been part of the contents but none
was left, just a pound or so of rice, the sprouts and the strange
greenery. One had a spinach-like vegetable I thought repulsive, another
some tiny green beans, and the third some chewy green stalks I'd not
encountered before. Still, there was more than enough to eat and when I
went to the mall later I had no desire to look for anything further.
I had a quarter left from Sunday's cart bonanza plus a few pennies, and
had found two dimes and more pennies on campus. With fifty-seven cents in
hand and an evening with nothing better to do, I thought it quite certain
I'd find the two carts necessary to buy a small Red Dog brew for a
nightcap. One turned up fairly soon. Sitting outside the supermarket, I
spotted two women with small children and a heavy-laden cart head into the
parking lot, saw them reach their car. One of my competitors noticed at
that point, and began to move. Oh no, you don't, thought I, and moved
even more quickly. Just before we both reached the car, one of the women
started to wheel the cart back. I was so amused by the disappointed look
on my competitor's face that I didn't mind the lost opportunity.
Later I'd just about given up, was heading over to the bus stop when I saw
another cart sitting in the parking lot. A young black man was headed in
the same direction so I again speeded up, getting there before him.
Someone had put a note on the handle of the cart, "broken coin box". An
understatement, the entire guts of the thing had been ripped out. Ah
well, I give up, I thought, and walked on toward the bus stop. A voice
called "hey!". I ignored it, then again it called from nearer, "hey!". I
turned around, it was the young black man. He said "take this" and handed
me a dollar bill.
The kindness of strangers ...
Walking back to the supermarket for that little Red Dog, I saw an older
man heading to the bus stop with a cart. Ha! One more quarter and,
thanks to that kind young man, financing for a 40oz Red Dog instead. Oh
lucky man. With that in my backpack, I returned to campus and very much
enjoyed the rest of the evening with the brew and the murder mystery.
At the cloisters later, I settled down to sleep and was soon immersed in a
dream-filled night, the best of which was being on a film set, part of an
audience watching a director who looked rather like Peter Weir set up a
scene. The cameras started to roll, the rear door of the set opened, and
the Sleeptalker walked in, all neat and tidy in an Lauren-like casual
outfit. I and the other members of the audience broke into applause. My
star, the Sleeptalker.
Absolute bedlam on campus Wednesday morning. The grounds people seemed in
a frenzy, every possible grass-cutting or weed-whacking device in
simultaneous operation, the Hamilton Annex construction (resumed after a
lay-off during Finals Week) in full roar. So I postponed further
ponderings with Descartes and enjoyed Christie's "The Mouse Trap" instead.
Absurdly enough, I saw the play at least three or four times in London but
still didn't remember whodunit.
Her plays read so well that it feels like I've spent several evenings at
the theatre this week, and most enjoyable ones.
In that "real" life drama, this personal version of "All My Children", the
lads all returned to the game on Tuesday. So much for the grandiose
"we've found a life, no need for MUD" subplot. The Sleeptalker and Wacky
still seem to be on the outs, a supposition further supported when on a
bus later and spotting Wacky walking into Aala Park with two strangers.
And the Sleeptalker was in full rage in the game, getting into an extended
quarrel with the Mililani fellow, awkward for me since I've become quite
good friends with him and didn't want to offend him by providing any
obvious assistance to the Sleeptalker. I was quite happy to
get an invitation from Helen R to meet up at HCC in the late afternoon,
and to escape the game.
And then I realized at lunchtime on Wednesday, sitting in the secluded
grove, greatly enjoying Dame Agatha's "Witness for the Prosecution", that
there really is only one option for me right now, and a damned difficult
I should give very, very serious consideration to eliminating "Seventh
Circle" from my life.
I sympathize with and admire the youthful Descartes when he realizes the
only way to a path of self-knowledge is to consider invalid everything he
knows and has been taught up to that point, start from scratch, accepting
nothing. I admire his basic points for embarking on that path and, of
course, his most famous utterance, "I think, therefore I am".
But his lengthy and elegant attempt to persuade himself that "God" exists
leaves me cold. I do not believe in "God" and Descartes does nothing to
suggest I should reconsider. I believe in Tao, "the Way". I believe in
it so naturally I cannot understand how anyone could not, but that in no
way implies the existence of some "supreme intelligence". The waffling of
Descartes on the subject seems to me as much a futile attempt to convince
himself as it is a futile attempt to convince his readers.
I'm too old to start from scratch. I don't know if I could discard
"belief" (and it is more "acceptance" than "faith") in the Tao even if I
wanted to. I have far lowlier goals to achieve right now.
Compassion for all living beings is a good place to start. I'm a long,
long way from that goal.
And from the sublime to the ridiculous, I want to abstain from that game,
"Seventh Circle", even though that means abstaining from communication
with that sweet young man I have loved all these months. It's not easy.
I stopped in briefly twice on Thursday, told him I was looking for another
game to play and that's why I wasn't in there much. True, I do much enjoy
these multi-player online fantasy worlds and I compiled a
those based on the same basic premise as "Seventh Circle", spent some time
on Thursday beginning to check them out, see if any look worth pursuing.
If I find one, will I tell the Sleeptalker about it?
Now there's a question.
On Wednesday evening, I met Mme de Crécy and Helen R at the Dole Cannery
Complex (which I hadn't known until Tuesday no longer does any "canning"
at all) and we saw the new film of "Midsummer Night's Dream". It was
handsome to look at but a pathetic interpretation of that wonderful play,
with some truly awful acting. I can't imagine how anyone could, as a
director, obtain financing for the project, put it together, and yet be
unable to see how inept his cast was. Dreadful. It should quickly
disappear into the trash bin of Bad Movies.
Later a young man I'd never seen before at the cloisters was quite
hostile, complained of a huge (judging by his a-fish-this-big exaggerated
pose) centipede. I said I was from Texas, wasn't worried about
centipedes. "Why don't you go back there," he snarled. "Why don't you go
back where you came from?" I asked. He informed me he was from here. I
told him I certainly wouldn't have thought so, given his attitude, and he
suddenly melted, switched to a very gentle tone and said he was sorry,
wished me a good night. I wished him pleasant dreams, and he went around
Love is strange, sang Mickey and Sylvia. Indeed, it is. Life is even
What a strange day Monday was, the first day of the Summer Session, inside
and out, online and off. Cainer's bizarre omens for the week and the
first two days of it suggested I was going to set off some avalanche with
a "casual" remark, so I babbled my head off trying to get it over with.
The I Ching, on the other hand, predicted an advantageous week so
long as excessive regulations or restrictions were not applied. Me?! The
epitome of no-self-discipline enforce excessive restrictions?
I spent most of the off-line weekend soaking up sun and immersed in
American History. It had started, of course, with The Narrative of
Sojourner Truth, then continued with the history textbook I'd found
which covers the centuries from pre-colonization through the Civil War.
This broad survey is being supplemented by an anthology of non-fiction
writing which includes many essays directly relevant to the subject,
providing more in-depth looks at certain moments of the country's history.
Certainly from as early as my pre-teen days I have been interested in
American history and that interest continued through the years, reaching a
kind of peak with the Dada News, where my contributions to that
attempted Glass Bead Game took the life of George Washington as one main
theme, and the preceding experiments with "performance art" at Washington,
D.C. landmarks. That was my most eccentric period, I think, walking
around dressed all in white with a little bronze bell on a chain around my
neck, prepared to perform "exorcisms" at all necessary sites, whether art
museums, presidential memorials or, of course, Watergate.
But returning to the present, I began each morning with the ritual of tea
and reading on my sheltered ledge at Bilger Hall, and shortly after
sunrise I left for the beach. After leaving campus on Friday evening, I
had, much to my surprise, encountered Auntie Maria, in town for the Na
Hoku Hanohano awards ceremony, and Helen R. at the mall. I was told Maria
later said what a pleasure it had been to meet me when I was sober.
Indeed, I was stone cold sober, but hey, I think it's the first time I've
ever seen Maria outside a bar. Well, it was good to see her, too, drunk
or sober, and I was glad Dame Fortune had guided my steps on what was not
my usual path through the mall.
"Famine Week" had lived up to its name on Friday. There was absolutely
nothing to eat all day but a bit of plain white rice (and much of that
went to the birds). So Helen's invitation to dinner was most welcome and
we had yummy (but far too expensive) sandwiches at the Food Court. She
said she had decided to see something else on Saturday afternoon and asked
if I'd like her ticket to the Star Wars film. Most certainly. Although
I've found all the hype thoroughly repellent, I did want to see it.
So following a delightful Saturday morning on the beach, I set out for
Waikiki after enjoying a bottle of Colt 45 while gazing fondly at the
slender, brown lad who had sprawled on the sand a few feet away from me.
What a tiny waist he had, and his body was so well proportioned and
flawless it was a definite delight that he picked such a nearby spot. My
intention to just enjoy the view, pushing lust into the background,
suffered somewhat, though, when he went into the water and came walking
back to his spot, the wet shorts making it very clear that he was
exceptionally well endowed. Just as well it was time to go to the movies
I was thoroughly, utterly bored by the film, had to struggle to stay
awake, and was several times tempted to just get up and leave. But I
stayed to the end. I don't know why, but I had the feeling if I had
actually paid for the ticket myself, I would have left. Somehow being
given the ticket as a gift made me feel obligated to stick it out. Or
since this has not always been the case (as was pointed out to me in later
conversation about it), maybe I did have a little hope that something
would happen in the film to redeem it, make it a worthy addition to the
dazzling original Trilogy. Didn't happen. It was a bore.
I strolled along the beach, stopping to watch the dancers by the Duke's
statue, checked to see if there was music at the Hawaiian Regent but there
wasn't, so took a bus back to the mall, got another bottle of Colt and
returned to the campus and my history lessons.
Sunday was a repeat of the early tea, soaking up sun on the beach,
drinking a Colt and then a completely splendid encounter with a young man,
probably mostly Filipino, who wanted an audience while he "spanked the
monkey". He didn't want anything but an audience, and I was happy to
oblige. It confirmed my long-held opinion that such a game is my favorite
form of sexual play, just watching while a young man gives himself
pleasure. Perhaps I should have, very early in my life, made it a point to
absolutely limit my sex life to that pleasure. I would, admittedly, have
missed some fine times, but I would also have missed a lot of
self-torture, jealousy and heartaches.
The evening was dominated by the telecast of the Na Hoku Hanohano awards
ceremony which was mostly tedious but more than justified by the delight
of Pure Heart winning and their touchingly emotional acceptance of the
awards plus Willie K's brief but delicious moments on stage accepting the
award, with Amy H., for "Group of the Year". He seemed to think it as
absurd as I did that he and Amy won it instead of Pure Heart, but since
that was the only one they'd been nominated for and failed to win, any
complaints are minor.
And so to Monday. The campus was full of little kids, or so it seemed,
fresh from high school, many of them seemingly dazzled by having reached
university. Many of them also seemed to have slept through their
orientation sessions during the Interim Week and had little knowledge of
map-reading, since I was frequently consulted. One young lady was
standing by the Art Building, pondering the map in her hand, said, "excuse
me, sir, can you tell me where the Art Building is?" Well, okay, in
fairness to her, there is no sign on the building, but a glance up at the
second floor windows with all the easels and canvases does provide
something of a clue, even if one cannot read a map.
The weather switched rapidly between periods of drizzle to sunshine and I
had to shift locations several times to avoid getting drenched. It's that
time again in the secluded grove, the dropping of the berries. Every day
I've taken a branch and swept one area clean only to find it thoroughly
littered again the next morning. Prolific seed-producers, those trees. I
was sitting there enjoying a Colt and my reading when Keali`i (whom I'd
seen earlier in Kory K's office) came walking through, evidently
delivering an envelope to the building at the end of the grove. When he
came back through again, I put down my book and teased him by saying,
"this is better than any book", and so it was. I wish he had to
run errands through there more often.
It had already occurred to me, reading A Narrative History of the
United States, that the study of "history" appeared to be almost
synonymous with "economics" as a scholastic discipline. My peripheral,
but related, reading initially led me into more telescopic focus on
certain aspects of the nation's history, but then I found the current
issue of the magazine, The Economist. I don't recall having seen
that publication before, but there's no doubt now, if someone asked if I'd
like a magazine subscription as a gift, I'd say yes, and without
hesitation ask for that one. Thanks to it, my study of "history" has been
brought right up into the last week, and on a global basis.
Into that atmosphere of mind strolled the Sleeptalker.
On Tuesday, I'd spent almost two hours mid-day at Campus Center. I was
sitting in the secluded grove reading when Kory K shouted at me from up by
the Post Office, and I went to join him and on to Campus Center for a
lengthy Pure Heart gig. Kory was being unusually twitchy, constantly
worried that I was going to be "too loud", picking a seat in the peanut
gallery. I put up with it for about half an hour and then moved down
front and center on my own. If, in my enthusiasm for musicians, I get
"too loud" at one of their gigs, let them tell me ... otherwise, put on
the CD of the Waimea Music Festival and hear what a real audience sounds
Anyway, the gig was wonderful, and there was no indication from the lads
of Pure Heart that I was being "too loud". They even took my suggestion
(when asking what they should sing next) to do "Island Style". Since
they'd done several John Cruz numbers already, seemed silly to leave out
his best song. And they did a fine job of it, as with everything else they
Afterwards, in the game, Wacky was being quite obnoxious to me, I've no
idea why, except that (and this is perhaps a case of takes one to know
one), all these lads are incredibly schizoid. (Helping to prove my point,
he was entirely pleasant the next day.) Puzzled on Wednesday, though, and
in no mood to put up with it, I went off-line and continued my reading.
Once I knew the State Library was closed, I went back to the game and had
an enjoyable hour there, mostly chatting with Australians and helping out
some new players.
I'd already decided the notion of "giving up" Seventh Circle was a red
herring I'd painted for myself, a dead fish which was absurd for me to
have created, much less spend any time contemplating. If I enjoy it, I'll
play it. If I really cease to enjoy it, I won't. It's so simple I
don't know why I make these things into matters to contemplate.
As I was leaving campus, headed for the cloisters, around ten, I ran into
the Sleeptalker and Eazy. Eazy I only knew as a player in the game, had
never met before. If it weren't an obsolete and generally unavailable
substance these days, I would have thought he was on Mandrax. He makes
"laidback" seem like "frenetic". The next day, the Sleeptalker told me
he's just that way, he actually wasn't on drugs at all. They were under
the impression Hamilton Library would be open until midnight, but I
explained (yet again, at least for the Sleeptalker) that such late opening
was only a Finals Week event at Hamilton, that it had closed at nine and
would all summer. I did tell him the computer lab was open until
midnight, that they could go there, and tried to explain to him how to use
the set-up there. He wanted me to join them, I declined. I was tired and
wanted to go to sleep.
Next morning I was sitting on my sheltered ledge reading just before dawn
and the Sleeptalker walked up, alone. He'd already gotten impatient with
Eazy who "walked too slow" and had parted company with him.
The times alone with the Sleeptalker are time out of time. I
understood, after this latest episode, that it's most sensible of me to
simply enjoy it when it happens, use whatever resources I have available
or can muster to make it more luxurious for both of us, and to resist any
effort to make it happen, prolong it when it does or, even more
importantly, to integrate it into my "real life". Those times are no more
"real" than the game, even if they may actually be the most "real"
hours of my existence.
And certainly the sweetest.
So we spent Thursday together, he climbed over the fence to sleep in his
secret spot, we stayed together again Friday morning on campus, much of
the time in the game, but the best of it just talking, bantering, and
yes, in my case, even lusting. He's such a sweetheart.
"My trouble is," said the Sleeptalker, "I want things but I don't want to
work for them." One thing he wants is a high school diploma and I was
encouraging him to try the GED again. He didn't pass it on his first
attempt but thought he could if he studied for it and I offered my help.
But that falls into the "working for it" category.
Friday was such a see-saw day. Despite a rather restless night filled
with annoying dreams, I woke up in a good mood largely the result of
feeling pleased with the adjustments in thinking about the Sleeptalker,
the Game, and life in general. It was an especially good time with the
Sleeptalker. Times alone with him are always a pleasure, but the latest
episode was particularly valuable and productive for me. Later in the
day, though, my mood shifted into gloom because I wish I could be a better
influence on him, find some way to help him, even though I know he really
can only help himself if he wants his life to be different. And neither
he nor I am sure there's any reason to want it to be different. He's
young, healthy, has many friends, and is enjoying life ... what's to worry
about? An evening beer and several fascinating essays in the anthology of
non-fiction raised my mood again. If you can't do something about it,
don't even think about it.
There was a very special treat on Saturday. Pure Heart did a wonderful
gig at the mall, made even more wonderful when Lopaka Colon's daddy sat in
for a couple of numbers. After having heard Augie Colon for more than
thirty years on those wonderful Martin Denny recordings, it was a great
pleasure indeed to see him and even more of one to watch him and his son
playing together. I shook his hand after the gig, told him I've long been
a fan of his and told him he was a lucky man to have such a fine son.
Later I thought how odd it is Pure Heart never does "Quiet Village".
I returned to campus, played the game for awhile. All the lads had been
absent on Friday and weren't in on Saturday either, making me wonder what
they were up to. Then I went downhill to Rainbow and bought Ayn Rand's
Atlas Shrugged. Oh my.
When I first read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged I thought its main
weakness was the impossibility that things could ever get as bad in the
United States as they do in her epic. Now I'm not so sure.
I put aside any attempt to write about this week, dominated as it has been
by the book. But the end will be reached today and maybe then I'll add
Oh, this is gay.
At the laundromat one evening this week, someone had left a stack of New
Yorker magazines. I browsed the Table of Contents pages and decided to
stick two of them in my backpack, returned to Ayn Rand.
One of those issues brings me the belated news that Dick Bellamy died in
New York. He was one of the few art dealers I truly liked as a man and he
was always very kind to me even if he wouldn't include me in any of his
exhibitions ... until the Dada News.
In that same issue is an article about recent research avenues re: AIDS
and the highly amusing notion that frequent oral sex may have provided
some of us with the "milkmaids who never got smallpox" antidote.
I always did think of it as the Fountain of Youth.
The first week of June was dominated by Ayn Rand, more films than usual,
and a strange, somewhat unsettling Friday with the Sleeptalker. He had
asked in the game on Thursday afternoon if he should walk to campus and I
said nothing. I didn't leave until a little after ten and he
hadn't shown up, but as I was sitting with my morning tea on Friday, he
walked in. He was wearing more clothes than I've ever seen him in, shoes
instead of slippers, Levi's, a long-sleeved dark pullover. He didn't look
at all comfortable and complained several times during the day of being
too warm. I think that probably contributed to his odd and always on the
verge of quarrelsome frame of mind.
As usual, we had extraordinarily wide-ranging conversations during breaks
from playing the game. He had acquired a Bible and was planning to read
it all, had gotten through Genesis and Exodus (the first question being
what did "exodus" mean). He was greatly surprised I had read the Bible.
"All the way through?" "Yes, more than once." I warned him that
Leviticus was mainly a book of laws and he might find it a little harder
going but would learn what to do if his neighbor's goat fell into his
He is very proud of his Cherokee blood (and I don't blame him, I would be,
too) and was, in another conversation, fuming about someone who had told
him the American Indians migrated from Asia. "Asian" is, for him, a
thoroughly derogatory term, despite being part Filipino, and I saw that he
in fact did not understand that Asia is a continent, that China, Japan,
India, etc., and yes, even the Philippines, are "Asian". I think that was
more difficult for him to grasp than his dismay when I said many people
do, indeed, think the American Indians originated in Asia, but in the very
distant past. He has no real sense of historic time. Noah could have
been as recent as George Washington, the Cherokees' "migration"
contemporary with the plantation workers' arrival in Hawaii.
It is extraordinary that someone could go through ten years of "education"
in an American public school and emerge with such a strangle muddle of
misinformation. And through it all, the Sleeptalker's perhaps most
dominant character trait remains untouched: he is always right.
And that is never more certain than in the game. He has gotten involved in
a continuing feud with a high level player who calls himself Morgueant. I
don't agree with the way either side is acting and Morgueant's methods
often make the game less pleasant and more hazardous, even deadly, for all
the players. I've tried to play peacemaker, or at least get them to call
a truce, give it a rest. No joy. And I made the mistake of bringing up
the subject in my last chat of the day with the Sleeptalker. He flew into
a rage about it, was shouting away with "fucking" every three words. I
told him I just wasn't going to have that kind of exchange with him on
campus, he said "I don't care what you do". "Okay, then," I said,
"goodnight." And left. Leaving him on his own is, of course, the
cardinal sin but I'm sure he managed to convince himself, in his usual
fashion, that he abandoned me, not vice versa.
He was in the game on Saturday, presumably playing from the State Library,
but said nothing to me at all. The feud again flared up and he was
ranting away, so I quit for the day. What a very strange dance it is,
this treasured but often puzzling and disturbing friendship.
There has been a 75th Anniversary festival of films from Columbia Pictures
providing the chance to see some films I never thought I'd see again on a
large screen. "Easy Rider", "Dr. Strangelove", "Bridge on the River Kwai"
(in a beautifully restored print) and, best of all, "Close Encounters".
But even better than those re-visits of long-time favorites was seeing the
new Zeffirelli film, "Tea With Mussolini". That treat was followed by
another first: a sandwich from Subway. Nope, I'd never eaten anything
from there before. A most decent sandwich it was, too.
After the usual pension-check binge, the week turned dry and I put myself
on a bottle-a-day ration until the Sleeptalker arrived on the scene and I
spent the last of the money on two beers for us. The most noticeable
affect of drinking less is decreased patience, both online and off.
Friday would probably have been much different had the Sleeptalker been
wearing shorts and slippers and had there been four beers instead of two.
Tale 340, and the oracle from the I Ching for the second week of
June was Number 40. Deliverance. To the subject of the fourth line it
is said, 'Remove your toes. Friends will then come, between you and whom
there will be mutual confidence.' I know other translations say 'your
Great Toe', rather than toes, but I have not seen an interpretation which
suggests that what is lowest in one's life is the subject of that obscure
statement. Most interpretations seem to regard it, though, as something
unsuitable which must be removed, or as an obstruction since once it is
removed, more suitable influences or attachments will come. A mysterious
Of course, given the circumstances of the moment it was impossible not to
consider the Sleeptalker as a possible subject of the message, but there
are many alternatives, including walking. Much of the time I spend
walking, indeed most of it, is in pursuit of things which cannot be
considered necessary or admirable.
Continuing my reading of American history on a frequently drizzling
Monday, I realized how difficult it is, in a way, for any American to have
an accurate grasp of historical time. The events I am reading about
happened barely more than a hundred years ago but it was such a different
world, the country was still so undeveloped, even still not totally
explored or mapped. To the Sleeptalker and his cherished Cherokee
heritage, the Trail of Tears would no doubt be of greater impact than the
Book of Exodus but both so remote from our present existence that any
placement in historical time is almost irrelevant.
Wacky was the only one of the State Library Boys who showed up in the game
on Monday but silly young Stoker returned. Evidently the wonderful "life
without MUD" he found turned out to be a rather brief one. He begged for
reinstatement and the Boss gave him another chance. The Sleeptalker will
As unreal as the game, perhaps even more so, Usenet storms rumbled on in
their neverending fashion.
If the I Ching had advised getting rid of my fingers instead of my
toes, I'd have no trouble at all understanding its message.
A reader wrote: "Lately I've been grieved by several friends with very
long toes. No matter what a person does, can't help stepping on them."
Now that suggests an approach to the I Ching's message that hadn't
occurred to me.
The Ching has certainly been more on track than Jonathan Cainer recently.
I know that an individual birth chart can produce wide variances from the
"average" conditions for a particular sun sign, but the variance is wider
now than it has been at any time since I began reading Cainer. He speaks
of an urgency about deciding my "next major move" but I have no thought of
making any kind of a major move and see no reason to consider it, not at
least until winter approaches.
The lads remained absent from the game on Tuesday and in a rather ironic
mirror of the current situation in the newsgroup alt.music.hawaiian,
people couldn't stop talking about the Sleeptalker. Even his nemesis,
Morgueant, asked if I had seen him. Can't live with him, can't live
Except for a brief late morning trip to the beach for a shower, I stayed
on campus all day and evening, much of the time either reading or in the
game. Food was in unusually scarce supply, only a few scraps of leftover
scrambled egg. There seems to be no pattern to it. Friday has generally
been the most sparse weekday but Tuesdays are ordinarily abundant ones,
and welcome especially since there isn't the "bail-out" of the Krishna
truck. I'm really very reluctant to resort to IHS and its free meals, not
only because it is so unpleasant there but also because it would mean
contact with the entire Social Horror Club, so I just reconciled myself to
a fast day and drank cups of tea.
No food, no beer, fifty-six cents in found coins. Oh lucky man.
And it was on that day all those years ago I first saw the Ganges at
Rishikesh. I only had tea and two hard-boiled eggs to eat that day, too.
And on the Fourth Day, Dame Fortune said, "let there be Beer." And there
was beer, and it was good. I'd found almost half the price of a 40oz
bottle, abandoned coins in campus vending machines, but hadn't the
inclination to hunt quarters at the mall to make up the difference so had
a teetotalling week (only in my American history reading this week did I
learn the origin of "teetotaller"). Friday, though, was Kamehameha Day, a
State holiday, and everything was closed at the University, so I spent the
day at the beach and mall. Without actively hunting for it, I soon had
financing for a bottle of Colt 45 in my pocket.
I had begun with a shower and washing some clothes, then sat at a picnic
table in the park while they dried. Two young Japanese ladies sat at a
nearby table and when they left, one of them discarded a white bag with a
small plate-lunch box inside it. It was full of big chunks of fruit
including some yummy watermelon, a splendid late breakfast. When the
clothes were dry I returned to the mall and enjoyed the performances at
CenterStage, part of the annual Pan-Pacific Festival, including a rousing
performance by Japanese drummers and some lovely Japanese ladies "of a
certain age" doing the hula.
In the early afternoon I bought the bottle of Colt and returned to campus
to enjoy it in the secluded grove, continuing the history lessons.
Stripped of all its "romantic" aspects, as it is in this text, the Civil
War emerges as a nightmare of the first order.
In between chapters, I stopped to ponder the online events of the week.
All the lads had shown up in the game on Thursday and the Sleeptalker had
forgiven me, was quite sweet. Both he and Wacky tried to get me to join
them downtown for a smoke but I declined with thanks. Even the little
brat Dafoe was behaving himself and was actually quite helpful in cooling
down the feud between the Sleeptalker and Morgueant. It was an amusing
and entertaining day in there and except for a brief trip to the beach for
a shower, I stayed on campus and online for much of the day.
I ran into Rocky after the shower, making the day a total reunion of sorts
except for Mondo whom no one has seen recently. Rocky was disappointed
that I had no money for beer. For his sake, I was, too. It's ironic and
quite amusing that the lad I would have thought the most unattainable
sexually may in fact be the one who wouldn't object. He's still teasing
me about the Sleeptalker but did it in a way that seemed to suggest I'd
picked the wrong one for fun and games. He's no doubt right, but the
"picking" isn't voluntary.
When I finished the beer on Friday and returned to the mall, I thought I'd
be too late for the Krishna truck but they were still there getting ready
to leave so I had a heaping plate of food from them, the most I'd had to
eat all week. I had a ticket for a film in my pocket but wasn't really in
the mood for one so just spent the evening wandering around the mall and
sitting to watch the people pass by.
It was an odd week, more remarkable in dream life than waking life, a week
without the Boys except on Thursday, a week of moving toward greater
self-sufficiency on an inner level perhaps most evidenced by the lack of
concern throughout the week about food or drink. All in all, not a bad
"I can't eat plain rice," said the Sleeptalker one afternoon when that's
all there was to eat. It's a sentiment I sympathize with. Plain
white boiled rice is such a boring remedy for hunger. But he has been
spoiled by all the years of soup kitchen dining. Always in my mind is the
memory of those final weeks of my first journey to India when a
twenty-cent cup of tea and bowl of plain rice was the means to stay alive.
So when a day comes along like Saturday and (extraordinarily, for a
weekend) there was nothing to eat but plain rice, I ate it without
Of course, the choice was mine. Dame Fortune was again most kind and
there was sufficient money to supplement my supply of teabags and to buy a
bottle of Hurricane, money which certainly could have been used for cheap
burgers. The addition to the tea-chest was most important since on
beer-less days I tend to drink more tea than usual and the supply in hand
wouldn't have lasted for the rest of the month (and still may
After a brief time online in the early morning Saturday, I left for the
beach and spent the rest of the day alternating between it and the mall.
The Japanese festival was again thoroughly delightful and I saved that
beer money until the sunset hour to precede the highlight of the day, a
splendid Bon Dance on Magic Island. If there's anything I love more about
the Japanese than their delightful young men, it's the Bon Dance.
But there were ample reasons to renew my delight in their young men, too,
because the Japanese navy training ship is in port. Sweet!
The weather was wonderful throughout the three-day weekend and I woke
very early on Sunday morning, walked up to campus and finished the
American history text with my morning tea. I wished the student who
abandoned the book had left the second volume as well. Volume one ends
with Reconstruction. The book made the Civil War more horrendous than any
account I've read of it but in contrast made the Reconstruction period
sound considerably less awful than the Southern legends claim.
While pondering that I finally took needle-and-thread in hand and started
the much-needed and postponed repairs to my backpack. This poor old
backpack was with me when I set out on the walk from New York City and
it has been around the world twice. Little surprise it finally started to
come apart at the seams. My needlework wouldn't win any prizes but it
does appear to have given the backpack a second lease on life.
Then I once again headed down to the beach, had a shower with a handsome
Filipino fellow who was most generously endowed, then went over to the
mall to listen to Kanilau who had just started singing "Makee Ailana" when
I arrived, ensuring that song a place on the internal jukebox's playlist
for the rest of the day. They were followed by another three hours of
Japanese dancers and drummers, both traditional Japanese dancing and a
rather absurd modern, almost-disco group which sent me off on a cart hunt,
and more hula. Best of all, those Taiko drummers.
Dame Fortune, or the Goddess Lakshmi, smiled yet again and financing for a
Hurricane was soon in hand. I had noticed a statue of Lakshmi earlier and
thought she certainly is the Hindu version of Dame Fortune, so had her in
mind throughout the day, thus give her equal credit with her Western
counterpart for the abundance of food and the money for beer. Unlike
Saturday, there was a continual supply of food. And a new addition to the
mall, strollers for children, make the Dames' task much easier. They are
rented for three dollars and a fifty-cent refund is given when returned to
their corrals. People tend to abandon them in the parking lot when
returning to their cars, and four strollers are much easier to find than
eight shopping carts.
I had planned to go to Waikiki for the evening's parade but I'd had enough
of crowds, decided instead to buy a Hurricane and return to campus for a
quiet evening on my own. At the end of the last school term, I found a
study guide for Hawaiian Studies, a xeroxed collection of chapters from
various books, some magazine articles and a few otherwise unpublished
items. It seems to give a broad history of the islands, the language and
culture, and began with a chapter on the currently accepted ideas of
Pacific island settlement followed by an account of the second Hokulea
voyage from Tahiti to Hawaii written by the young navigator. Engrossing
reading, and after very nearly ten years in these islands, about time.
When I first arrived here I bought a book on the gods and mythology of the
islands, and that ended any formal attempt to learn more about the history
and language. Yes, about time.
While Cainer continues to speak of some major change yet to be made, the
I Ching grumbled at me in its outlook for this week. The 16th
Hexagram, Enthusiasm, is one of my favorites, but emphasis on the third
line "shows one looking up (for favours), while he indulges the feeling of
pleasure and satisfaction," not viewed as appropriate behavior. Ooops.
And there I had been on Sunday strolling around with an impromptu mantra
to Lakshmi before taking her bounty and buying tea and beer.
She and/or Dame Fortune didn't seem to be offended since they went
overboard on Monday with food, cigarettes and a lighter, and coins for
more tea and beer, the most bountiful day in a long time. As on the
weekend, I'd walked to campus in the pre-dawn hour, continued reading the
Hawaiian Studies workbook with my morning tea, spent a couple of hours
on-line and then headed to the beach. It was another beautiful morning,
so I washed my trousers (the most ambitious shower-laundry project of them
all) and a tee shirt, then sat in a half-shaded area reading while they
dried, enjoying a pint-flask full of Budweiser which had been left by a
park bench and a plate-lunch box half-full with spaghetti found at
I had planned to return to campus once the clothes were dry, but noticed
the stroller corral was almost empty meaning there were a lot of quarters
floating around the mall somewhere. Although relatively few Japanese
tourists come here with small children, it appears that all who do rent
those strollers and they aren't in the least concerned with getting their
fifty cent refund. With shopping carts there are a few general areas
where they are most often abandoned. The exceptions are so rare it isn't
worth hunting for them. But the strollers can be found just about
anywhere. Fortunately, they are designed with a high metal pole at the
back (probably to discourage people from walking off with them) and thus
can be spotted at some distance. A walk through the parking lots quickly
yielded enough money for a beer, but I decided I might as well stay for
the Krishna feast in the late afternoon and consequently ended up with
enough additional quarters to buy another packet of tea bags as well as
The Krishna plate was, as usual, loaded with food and about half an hour
later I found an untouched large plate lunch box with chicken katsu, rice
and macaroni salad, stashed it away for Tuesday's lunch.
I spotted Myra sitting at a table in the Food Court so surprised her by
walking up and taking the chair across from her. I hadn't seen her for an
unusually long time and she explained that her part-time job has been
expanded so she is working much longer hours, less time to hang out at the
mall. She looked very tired and I encouraged her to go home and get some
sleep. Such a sweetheart, that lady.
The Hawaiian Studies workbook is fascinating stuff and leaps about from
topic to topic in a somewhat dazzling way. Much of the otherwise
unpublished material is designed to debunk established "authorities" and
to present the latest consensus of scholars, particularly those at the
Center for Hawaiian Studies at UH. Consequently an overview of the
arrival of Cook and the early missionary period was interrupted with a
lengthy essay casting serious doubt on the claimed infanticidal practices
of pre-contact Hawaiians. It made me think of Usenet: repeat a lie often
enough and people start to believe it.
A detailed account of the terraced, irrigated method of agriculture and
construction of the fish ponds was especially interesting, sitting as I
was on campus where no doubt in ages past a low-walled patch of taro had
grown, irrigated by the Manoa Stream. Certainly that essay leaves no
doubt that the pre-contact Hawaiians were far wiser in matters of food
production than the population today, flying in most of its food from
distant places and leaving much of the land barren and unused.
While I realize at least part of this workbook is "reverse propaganda"
and perhaps goes too far in glorifying pre-contact life in the islands, it
nonetheless certainly raises considerable question as to just whether or
not "progress" has been made which equals the loss.
Tuesday was cloudy, gray and dreary with frequent light drizzle turning to
heavier showers in the evening. When I'd told Myra I only needed one
quarter to complete my shopping the day before, she'd said "and start all
over again tomorrow". No. I'd had enough of mall-hunting. A beer would
have been a pleasure but I wasn't willing to hunt for it so spent the day
on campus, much of it reading in quiet, sheltered places since the
secluded grove was too damp for most of the day.
The most effective writers in the Hawaiian Studies workbook are female
even though they tend toward a more strident tone than the male writers.
The essay on the hula would have been much more effective had its author
allowed the facts to speak without the unnecessary, almost militant
personal embellishment. Surprisingly, Haunani Kay-Trask's contribution
was, unlike her speaking style and what I have seen of her contributions
(mostly correspondence) to newspapers, very level-headed and objective.
She compared the standard of living in England at the time of Cook's
arrival in the islands to that of the Hawaiians. It took no
editorializing for any sensible, sensitive reader to grasp which society
had the better understanding of what life and living is really
It seems a perfectly natural progression to move from American history to
the history and culture of the Hawaiian Islands to reading about that
major "Pacific island", Japan, and from what I have read thus far, it
seems Frank Gibney's Japan, the Fragile Super Power is going to be
a very interesting encounter.
Wednesday was the Sleeptalker's 24th birthday. I told him on Tuesday he'd
have to wait, I'd throw a huge party for him on his 27th. "That's a long
way off," he said. "We'll make it," I replied. "Yep," he said.
He's had occasional work recently on a fishing boat which he seems to
greatly enjoy and we both wish the work were more steady and frequent. He
said he'd probably be going out on his birthday so when he didn't show up
in the game, I abandoned plans to have lunch at IHS to wish him happiness
in person and instead went to the beach for a shower. As I was walking
back through the mall, I ran into Rocky and several young friends of his I
hadn't met before. He's still the champion Pied Piper of the Oahu nomads,
no doubt about it. They had enough money for a 40oz bottle of beer, but
none of them had ID, so Rocky asked me to get it for them. I did,
and took a sip from the cup to toast the Sleeptalker. Rocky followed it
up and made me promise to invite him to that 27th year party.
Will I make it to June 2002? I've no idea, but it won't surprise me if
Thursday was a thoroughly unsatisfactory day. The weather was again on
the verge of dismal all day, inside and out, and most annoying of all, I
was plagued by dissatisfaction at having no money. This is not something
which ordinarily bothers me at all and when the feeling began on
Wednesday, I told myself it was just a reaction caused by its being the
Sleeptalker's birthday. But it got worse on Thursday, with no reasonable
excuse whatsoever. Extremely annoying.
It wasn't so much that I wanted to buy anything in particular, it seemed
to be more a situation of wanting to be able to buy. Knowing it
was utter nonsense didn't help in the least, indeed even intensified the
inner war over it.
What a piece of work is man ...
So I went to the mall and hunted until I had the price of a bottle of Colt
45, told myself that was quite enough reward for the stupid exercise. The
competition was almost hilariously active. Tugboat Annie, a newcomer on
the scene, has staked out one bus stop and anything which can be seen from
it and is so greedy I have seen her rolling back as many as three linked
carts at one time rather than risk losing out on any while returning one.
A waddling chubby young man who seems to have been absent on the day they
were passing out brains is perhaps the most irksome. He stays outside the
supermarket and follows right behind someone with a cart. I watched him
follow one poor lady to her car and then stand within inches of her while
she transferred the contents from cart to car, felt like cheering "right
on, lady!" when she then returned the cart herself, leaving Dumbo staring
after her with open-mouthed bewilderment.
The only competitor I enjoy is my long-time nodding buddy, Bla, who always
gives me a subtle shaka or a wink when we first see each other and shows
no resentment at all when he spots me returning a cart, an attitude I
return when I see him having captured a prize. Our relationship was
neatly established one evening when I had the money I needed for a beer,
we were both headed toward the same cart and I told him to take it, I had
my beer money already and he laughed, thanked me.
Having bought the beer, I was about to leave the mall when a lady left a
shopping cart right in my path. Cool. An extra quarter in my pocket.
Maybe that will suffice to put an end to the absurd concern about whether
or not there is anything in the pocket. (To say I was close to being
angry with myself is an understatement.)
As happened once before, my reading has again been brought right up to
date by finding a recent copy of The Economist magazine. That's an
extraordinarily literate and interesting publication, even if it does
leave a person with the feeling that mankind is rapidly going to hell in a
basket, or perhaps even without the comfort of a basket. If I ever get
myself organized enough to have sufficient funds, I'm going to subscribe.
Sufficient funds .... arrrrghhhhh. Write on the blackboard one thousand
times: it does NOT matter, it does NOT matter. I was so irked with
myself and this bizarre scenario I didn't even really enjoy the beer.
The only thing certain is change. And in the biggest change in my life
since the hacienda was made off-limits, the public library system
eliminated internet access on Thursday. While this doesn't affect me
personally, it does mean that the Boys will have to travel to UH if they
want to play Seventh Circle and it removes the almost-daily pleasure of
contact with them on-line. Both changes, of course, are most important
because of the Sleeptalker and I have to wonder if Dame Fortune is on the
side of those who think our friendship "unsuitable". Hmmmph.
That absurd obsession with money continued on Friday and I said, all
right, you silly man, go hunt. Hunt until your legs are tired. Hunt
until your feet are sore. Hunt until you are so bored with it you won't
give a damn whether you have money or not. And with twenty-nine cents in
pocket, just how likely is it, during a Friday day-time, you'll find
enough to even buy a beer?
As it turned out, very likely. In direct contrast to Thursday, there was
absolutely no competition at all until very late afternoon and I had
financing for a Colt 45 in hand by late morning. One part of me was, of
course, quite willing to stop at that point and drink a beer, but the
ruling part said no way, you're not getting off that easily. Just keep on
hunting until it's time for the Krishna truck.
The scheme backfired, though. It was fun. I saw the lads I'd met with
Rocky and they walked over to shake my hand and thank me again for having
bought them beer, lamented the fact they had no money for another bottle.
I didn't volunteer. Buying beer for teenagers isn't ordinarily my style
and I only did it for Rocky the first time. One of the lads is such a
An elderly local lady had left her purse in a shopping cart, it hadn't
been turned in at the supermarket, so I helped her search through the
corrals to see if we could find it. Some louse had apparently made off
with it. I wondered what I would have done had I found it, without
knowing it belonged to such a sweet old lady, and I thought, to my shame,
that I probably would have kept any money and then would have given the
purse to the customer service desk in the store. But I'm not sure. I am
glad, though, I wasn't presented with the need to decide.
It was a sunny, warm day so I did take one break to have a shower and then
continued strolling around the mall and parking lot. The Japanese more
than make up for their annoying habit of hanging around ashtrays like
vultures around a dying cow by abandoning those strollers all over the
place. One was left only a few feet from a return station. Maybe it's a
prestige thing, not bothering to collect the fifty cents?
There was a larger crowd than usual for the Krishna feast, including the
Gypsy Boy and Cat. I've been sleeping in a different area at the
cloisters so haven't had the chance to chat with him recently or to greet
Cat. The Gypsy Boy walks around in a long black raincoat all the time,
don't know how he can stand it in such warm weather.
As it drew near time for sunset I finally let myself off the hook, said
okay, you can buy that beer now. I was one penny short for the tax money,
didn't want to break into a quarter for it, so asked the Old Guitarist if
he had a penny. "You'll have to write out an IOU," he teased. "I spend
so much time on computers I've forgotten how to write," I said. "What do
you plan to invest it in," he asked. "Tax!"
So I got my bottle of Colt, returned to campus and enjoyed it while
finishing reading The Economist, puzzling over an article about the latest
particle accelerators in the US and Japan and the bewildering details
scientists hope to clarify with them. I do enjoy that magazine, but at
$53 for a 30-week subscription fear it will be up to Dame Fortune to
supply me with copies, at least for the immediate future.
The night was full of unusually extended dream scenarios, the most
striking of which had to do with "points of convergence" as they were
called. These seemed to be arranged by some extraterrestrials and
provided unique opportunities for inner advancement. I was gifted with
one such "point" when my childhood stuffed bunny was suddenly returned to
me, having evidently been snatched out of past time. Acid dreams, indeed.
Body all aching and wracked with pain ...
My health, aside from a few minor chronic nags like the heel problem, the
decaying molar and the mercifully absent-for-some-time chest pain, tends
to be much better in this life style than it was as a householder. Colds
are rare and very short-lived. Consequently when there is a variation it
tends to hit rather hard. If I'd eaten anything suspect recently, I'd
attribute the current condition to food poisoning but I am always extra
cautious during the warm summer months and don't think that's the problem.
Intestinal flu, more likely, although it's certainly an odd time of year
to acquire such a nuisance. It made Sunday quite unpleasant, especially
as evening arrived. Chills and fever, diarrhea, vomiting in the night.
Bleugh. It certainly makes one appreciate a generally satisfactory
state of health.
Aside from an enjoyable time at the Summer Onliners Picnic on Saturday,
the weekend was not a good one and not just for reasons of physical
discomfort. The Anti-Game League, not content with shutting out the lads
at the State Library, put up signs in the quasi-computer-lab on campus
announcing "NO GAME PLAYING". Without the Boys in the game, I am less
bothered by it personally, but it annoys me greatly to see such
short-sightedness. These text-only multiplayer games are far more
valuable, I think, than the pointless bang-bang arcade diversions. They
lead to improved reading and keyboard skills and, by being text-only,
stimulate the powers of imagination. Certainly my nephew would not have
the data-entry job he has now were it not for those years playing Richard
Bartle's MUD2. He had never touched a keyboard, but to stay alive in the
game, it's necessary to quickly find your way around and often to move
those fingers faster than many secretaries would do.
Of course, it is partly the fault of the game players for dominating
public facilities. On campus, I would not consider playing games if most
terminals were occupied. But damned if I see why it matters late at night
when most of the machines are not being used. It depresses me. Libraries
are not for "having fun", computers can be used to spend time in the
sexually repressive "chat lines" but not to play a "game". Humbug.
All week I had an odd craving for ice cream but I wouldn't spend my
quarters to get it, so when some McD's certificates arrived I headed
directly to the mall and ate one of their chocolate sundaes. A light in
the gloom. Now if these microscopic life forms which are making me sweat
and shiver would kindly go on their way ...
Despite its very nasty beginnings, this ailment now appears to be just a
common cold, complete with constantly dripping nose. The internal
plumbing got itself back in order on Monday. Thanks to a little melon
falling from heaven, I was able to buy a yogurt cup which relieved a
slight hunger without overtaxing the system and later ate a few pieces of
chicken katsu and some rice. Appetite was low but even if it hadn't been
I would have forced myself to go very lightly on the food intake.
The aches and pains which returned toward the end of each
aspirin-every-four-hours cycle gave way to an immense physical weariness
and it was an effort just to walk from one place on campus to another, no
desire whatsoever to go to the mall or beach, even if spending the day in
the sunshine and ocean probably would have been a wise move. By nine
o'clock in the evening I was really dragging so headed to the cloisters,
hoping there would be no meetings underway. Fortunately there weren't, so
I quickly settled down to sleep, waking only once when some wretched bug
decided to bite me on the ear. It was probably one of those nasty little
black ants. They are so tiny but have a powerfully stinging bite,
something which is even more inexplicable than a mosquito which is at
least getting something to eat. Those little ants will walk all over you
and then for no apparent reason attack. Bastids, never mind compassion
for all living beings.
Much of the day was spent continuing the book on Japan, truly a
fascinating account of its history and analysis of the cultural
differences between, particularly, Japan and the United States. But I did
do some exploring on one of the old data terminals and discovered a way,
details which I shall certainly not mention, to get a straight telnet
prompt, thus restoring the ability to play Seventh Circle without
violating "no game playing" injunctions. Much to my surprise, the
Sleeptalker was playing, so he too appears to have found a way around the
State Library's attempts to block it.
He said he needed a "resume" and wanted it put on a web page. "Applying
for some executive job?" I teased. No further details were forthcoming
but he added, "I'm getting out of IHS!" I suppose I'll have to wait for
him to make the trek to UH to find out what this latest brainstorm is
about, but will certainly put up a web resume for him if that's what he
wants. A few months at a Taco Bell, a month or so in the kitchen at
Gordon Biersch, a sometime job helping on a fishing boat. Hmmmm.
So far as I can remember, this is the first time I ever "celebrated" the
Summer Solstice by getting a cold. No complaint whatsoever if it's the
As I wrote on a mail-list Tuesday, I embarked upon a study of World
History after completing the book on Japan:
Seems one accepted text at UH is "Traditions and Encounters: A Global
Perspective on the Past" by Messrs. Bentley and Ziegler (both of whom have
"University of Hawai'i" after their names on the McGraw-Hill title
They did make me laugh out loud on page 21 (already) by saying:
"Anthropologists calculate that modern-day hunters and gatherers spend
about four hours per day in providing themselves with food and the other
necessities of life. They spend the remainder of their time in games,
rest, leisure, and various social actitivities."
That definitely qualifies as a BAD day.
I'd estimate that I spend about an hour a day providing myself with "food
and the other necessities of life", probably even less. Even if the very
non-necessary item, tobacco, is added, hunting time rarely exceeds two
hours daily unless I'm in one of those periodic quarter-hunting crazes.
On the rare days when it appears to be taking longer than that to find
food, I just don't eat. No one ever died from going a day without food.
Although the cold was less unpleasant on Tuesday than it had been, there
was still the nuisance of frequent sneezing and an almost constantly
dripping nose and a slight physical weariness which increased as evening
arrived. So once again I spent the entire day on campus, with one trip
downhill to acquire a bottle of beer which was enjoyed with the sagas of
the Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations, and headed off to
the cloisters fairly early.
Still celebrating the discovery of the MUD-playing loophole, I spent more
time in Seventh Circle than I have for awhile. The player who had
been mainly responsible for the Morgueant/Sleeptalker feud was in and
continually badmouthing the Sleeptalker (who didn't play all day), so I
did a little badmouthing myself, shocking a few people who are used to me
playing a more quiet, genteel role. Such funny social interaction in
these entertainments ... and so many brats. Only Usenet has more
on-line misfits than Muds.
As Wednesday went on, the sneezing and sniffling steadily decreased and by
midday I was even feeling a little hungry. It seems to have been a day
for strong appetites on campus, though. Never have I found so many
abandoned plate lunch boxes which were totally empty. So I decided I'd
just forget about it and go to the Krishna feast later although I had
planned to forego the mall for one more day.
When I got there and crossed into the park, I heard a voice shout,
"Albert!" The Sleeptalker. With Rocky and the Snorer. The Sleeptalker
on his own I would have been happy to see, but that core gathering of the
Rocky Horror Club was not really what I would have chosen for a day when I
was still feeling well below par and had just planned to slip down there,
eat a bit of Krishna food, and disappear back to campus.
The Sleeptalker was wearing just shorts and slippers, the most I have seen
of his body since that evening sometime ago at the cloisters when he
sprawled beside me to speak of India. Maybe it's just the aftermath of
this wretched cold, (I don't think so since I was just as interested
earlier as I have been in weeks in a handsome young black man who has
recently become a regular on campus), but I really didn't feel any
particular attraction. Wow. About time, after more than a year of
lusting for that lad's body. I love him, and always shall, but it's him,
not his body that I love. And I've known that all along and have been
greatly irked by how much lust has occasionally interfered. If it's just
the result of being physically depleted by the cold, then fine, give me a
cold every week.
A lady, of a certain age, standing near us in line for the food, was
eavesdropping on our conversation about the campaign to ban game players
and said she was studying for a degree via some on-line arrangement. I
said I had considered, if someone did challenge me about game playing, I'd
say I was working on my doctoral thesis dealing with the effect on Western
adolescents of multi-player computer games. She cheered and said she was
sure it would fly. I suspect she is right.
If, when I woke on Friday morning, I had sat down and made a list of all
the things I was not going to do on the Full Moon weekend, the list
would have included just about everything I did do and quite a few other
things it never would have occurred to me to list. And they were all
things my better judgment tells me I'd be better off not doing.
I did do laundry first thing on Friday, the one sensible choice of the
day. Then I went downtown to join other online folks for lunch at the
Indigo restaurant. I had at first declined the invitation because that
place is really too expensive but yielded to persuasion and then
compounded my guilt by quaffing two mint juleps and an after-lunch Pernod.
Off and running ...
When I got back to campus, checked email and popped into Seventh Circle,
the Sleeptalker was playing and said he really wanted to talk to me but it
was too late to walk to campus. So I told him to wait for me at the State
Library and I'd meet him there. When I arrived he was poring over a copy
of "DOS For Dummies". Someone had convinced him he should learn more
about computers, starting with DOS. He had gotten no further than
studying the Table of Contents which had apparently been daunting enough
for him to want reassurance that the effort was worthwhile. I didn't want
to discourage him but could hardly endorse a study of DOS with much
More important, and probably more relevant to why he really wanted to see
me, was his feeling more upset and distressed than I've ever seen him over
being "a loser". He wished he could just get a gun and blow away all the
people who think he's a loser. I told him not to go down that road even
in thoughts, tried to reassure him that I'm not the only person in his
life who doesn't think he is a "loser", and then had the ill-fated
brainstorm of taking him to Waikiki to hear some music. I had thought it
was a BB Shawn gig, but it was actually Guy Cruz's gig, with Shawn on
drums. The Sleeptalker and I sat at a table near the front, which was a
mistake since it made him feel people were looking at him ... and (sigh)
thinking he was a "loser". Nancy Ishimoto joined us and was very kind to
the Sleeptalker, said he was "adorable". So he is.
But not the music, nor Nancy's kindness, meeting the musicians or any of
the rest of it pulled him out of his funk, even seemed to make it worse.
Shawn would no doubt be an inspiration to most young people but I think
made the Sleeptalker more acutely aware of his lack of success, as did the
whole ambience of the hotel and bar. And there was probably also in his
mind, as there was in mine, that such evenings could be a regular part of
our lives if I'd give up this lifestyle and return to working life and if
he'd provide the incentive, which he could.
He picked up his backpack and dashed out, I followed, and we had such a
weird conversation at the bus stop with him getting more and more strange.
When he started to rant about gay guys, how he "wouldn't even speak to
them", I gave up, said "I'm taking the next bus to Ala Moana". I'd given
him bus fare so he could bail out at any point during the evening, but he
didn't join me when I got on the bus. What a strange, strange dance.
I went on to the Pier Bar to see Willie K. which helped get my own mood
back on base. I'd had enough to drink by then so only had one beer,
danced with a woman I know from somewhere but couldn't place, and shortly
before midnight went to the hacienda and slept on an outside bench
Walking from there to the mall early on the beautiful Saturday morning
brought back memories of the days when that walk was a regular part of my
life after nights sleeping on benches next to Rocky, the Sleeptalker,
Mondo ... and I had occasion to think of those days again many times
during the day since I ended up spending most of it alone with Rocky.
But that's another Tale ...
Much to my surprise, I found out from separate second-hand sources that
the Sleeptalker evidently enjoyed himself very much on Friday and our
expedition to Waikiki was the "talk of the 'hood". One of the more
difficult things about the friendship with the Sleeptalker is the almost
total lack of direct feedback. I never know whether he has had a good
time or an awful time. Even this second-hand information is a rarity.
For me, the evening had been a very difficult one and I was still feeling
somewhat wrecked from it on Saturday morning. So after coffee at McD's, I
crossed over to the beach, planning to just lay on the sand for a couple
of hours and doze. I ran into the Snorer on the way through the park and
in addition to chatting about the Sleeptalker, he said he was expecting
Rocky to stop down later. I'd already decided I'd make it an offline day
and not travel to campus so after listening to Dylan's "Not Dark Yet" and
some off-and-on dozing I headed to the far other end of the beach,
hopefully out of range of the Social Horror Club.
I crossed over to get a beer and as I was walking along the canal on the
park side, there came Rocky strutting his strut along the other side. He
spotted me, jumped down into the canal and came straight across to me.
All through the day I kept remembering those early Tales, Rocky the
silent, sullen guy who so intimidated me I was careful not to even look at
him unless I was sure he was soundly asleep.
The Sleeptalker had been puzzled, Rocky said, by why I'd left on Friday
evening. When I told him it was because my patience ran out when the
Sleeptalker started ranting about gay people, he laughed and said, "he
didn't mean you," but added, "we told you he's crazy."
All through the day he kept returning to the fact that I think the
Sleeptalker is cuter than he is. And Mondo? No, Mondo is not cute, I
said, he's handsome. To give the poor lad at least a little ego stroke, I
told him he had the best body and is definitely the best hung. "You want
to see it?" he asked. Sure. So he pulled out the waistband of his shorts
and let me have a look. Nope, I never would have expected it a year
Unlike the Sleeptalker, who freely admits he has let men have his body in
the past, Rocky is quite proud of never having done so but he promised I
could be the first if he changes his mind. He talked a lot about his lady
and his four-year-old son who are living in Hilo but otherwise very little
about his past despite my subtle efforts to get him to.
BB Shawn was scheduled to play at a "Festival for Fathers" in McCoy
Pavilion and I wanted to stop by to thank Nancy for having been so kind to
the Sleeptalker on Friday. Poor Nancy! The Sleeptalker one day and Rocky
the next. We didn't stay long and after leaving Rocky was fuming away
because he thought he'd heard Nancy say "he's not cute at all"! I assured
him I'd heard no such thing, that it just wasn't the kind of thing Nancy
would do, and that if she had said someone wasn't cute she wouldn't have
been referring to him. That started the whole thing going again about
what I think, although why it matters to the young man is a mystery to me.
He seems so much more worldly and experienced than the Sleeptalker it's
difficult to keep in mind that he's even younger and I have almost nothing
in common with him which makes communication very much a hit-and-miss
gamble. I'm not physically attracted to him despite his fine body and
impressive equipment but teased him a little just to reassure him I do
like him. Each time I'd pat him he'd go into a mock karate routine which
was really quite funny since it was so clear he liked the attention, and
all in all, it was an amusing day and somewhat easier than a similar
session would have been with the Sleeptalker. He was heading down to IHS
for dinner but I said I was going to campus, planned an early night. As
one final demonstration of his physical prowess, he smashed an upright can
flat with his fist. "Wow," I said, "I am definitely out of here!". "Just
joking, just joking," he said. Sweet guy.
The Snorer and Rocky certainly had me feeling somewhat better about the
evening with the Sleeptalker but only from the perspective of thinking
about him and his reactions. For me it remained a muddle in my head and
pretty much stayed that way despite hiding away on campus all day Sunday
to think about it, about the extreme contradictions between my life with
the Boys and what's left of the life I led before this trip began. I was
so discouraged by it on Friday I felt like burning bridges to all of
it, even leaving for somewhere else, starting over. But that's not really
the answer I want.
"Gawd, I'm sick of seeing these people," I thought at the mall on Monday.
The same dreary faces, overweight and often dirty bodies. They stay at
the mall all the time, the same people. That's one of the reasons
the Sleeptalker has his "loser" attacks, I think. Because he bases
himself at IHS where the habitual crowd is even worse than the one at the
mall, he's surrounded by many people who genuinely are losers. If you
live with crazy people, you eventually start to doubt your own sanity
(with or without their help). If you live with losers, you start to feel
like a loser.
When strangers ask me what I "do", I say I'm retired. I'm old enough for
that to be a legitimate explanation to everyone but my friends. The
Sleeptalker doesn't have that advantage, poor fellow.
Monday was a terribly sane, sensible, no-beer day and consequently rather
boring. But after the strangely challenging weekend (and especially,
Friday) and with the arrival of the Fabled Pension Check on the near
horizon, perhaps a routine, "boring" day wasn't such a bad idea.
I've continued my world history reading in the early morning hours,
working through the Greek, Roman and Byzantine empires, the rise of the
Islamic Empire, and then returning to the progress of China from disarray
to re-unification and the Tang Dynasty. Thus far, I've thought the
earlier period of Chinese history would be the time I'd most like to
explore in greater detail, but I was also struck with an urge to read more
about the Emperor Justinian. Overall, though, this kind of massive sweep
through mankind's history is a little depressing. Rise, decline, and fall
... rise, decline, and fall.
Some lighter weight diversion fell in my path. A volume in a
Harlequin Books series called "Avenging Angels" was amusing. It was so
inconsequential I don't remember the exact title or the author's name, but
the series is based on the notion that angels take human form temporarily
and return to earth to correct injustices. Of course they are hunks and
there are the scenes of passion obligatory to the romance genre, although
this particular one was pretty tame in that respect. Perhaps one of the
participants being an angel requires a little more discretion in this
series. I found myself thinking I could write one of them if I
really tried to.
But, hmmm, that would be peanuts compared to finding the secret of Harold
Robbins and writing a potboiler like his The Piranhas, the next
diversion to come my way. Despite the fact that it is blatantly an awful
book, it's totally engrossing and quite carries the mind away from
"reality", is as effective in that regard as Dostoyevsky but, please,
don't anyone say I mentioned Dostoyevsky and Robbins in the same breath.
I spent little time online Monday, only looked in briefly at the two games
I've been playing. None of the Boys were in and they weren't in the park
when I crossed over later to eat Krishna food. I was happy about that,
needed a break. But I reminded myself it's really quite easy to "get away
from it all" for awhile anytime I feel like it. Stay out of the games,
stay out of the mall, stay away from Ala Moana Beach, if necessary stay
off-line altogether and hang out in Waikiki if I want familiar territory
or even in another part of the island. When life with the Boys gets too
heavy and the crowd at the mall too depressing, take a break. That's
closer to the answer I want than burning bridges and starting over, I
The Fabled Pension Check came and went, its speedy departure helped by
half of it being in hock (and having been in hock for an extra month since
I hadn't redeemed the loan at the beginning of June). Unlike the past
couple of months, I didn't even do the responsible shopping expedition
which was needed and planned. A few days of living like a "normal" person
and then back to the life of a hunter/gatherer.
Those interludes of normality inevitably revive the debate, ask again the
question, "can I really live like this for another two and a half years?"
I don't know.
I did manage a stop at Rainbow Books to get Aldous Huxley's Eyeless in
Gaza which has long been on my intended reading list. It's a
depressingly wonderful book which almost immediately had me wondering if I
could ever read cheap fiction again but knowing that I could and would.
Returning to the scene of the last time I saw the Sleeptalker, I went to
BB Shawn's gig at the Regent's Ocean Terrace on Thursday evening, wished
he were there again with me but was also happy he wasn't. None of the
boys appeared in the game all week and I didn't see any of them at the
mall. The sweet young man who is such a MUD addict and sits for hours at
the Hamilton terminals filled the void, being unusually open and friendly.
He's like a teddy bear and I'd love to hug him but limited it to pats on
the shoulder and smiles.
Sometimes I really do wish physical desire would go away and bother me no
The highlight of the long holiday weekend came on Saturday evening. After
joining Helen R for pizza from the newly-opened Papa John's I was feeling
just too tired to tackle an expedition to Waikiki despite an invitation
from mainland visitors, so I spent a quiet evening on campus reading.
Earlier than usual, I walked through the lower campus complex (mostly
devoted to sports) on my way to the cloisters. One of the studios has
large windows on one side and a hula class was in session, the scene so
fascinating I stopped to watch. In the foreground, sprawled on the floor,
were four young men, two of them wearing only shorts and sitting very
close to each other so their slim brown bodies were constantly brushing
together. One of their companions was even more actively patting and
stroking, at one point held down the young fellow next to him and put his
hand over his victim's mouth. I wondered what the lad had been saying.
Charming as that tableau was, the scene really came to life when another
young man walked over and began to dance. He wasn't exceptionally
handsome, wouldn't particularly have attracted my attention elsewhere, but
what an extraordinary dancer! One of the musicians, and I assume the
instructor, then had him and a young lady do a delightful dance, unlike
any hula I've seen before, a touching courtship ritual. The combination
of the dancing and those young men sprawled in the foreground made it seem
almost as though a time machine had transported me to the pre-missionary
islands, despite the very modern architectural environment.
Another highlight of the long weekend, although certainly on an entirely
different plane took place late on the night of July 4th. I'd gone to the
concert which was being held at the mall, heard Pure Heart, and then
wandered around awhile before crossing over to the beach for the
fireworks. Public fireworks displays here are always very well executed
but this was the best I've seen yet. I'd waited to let the
huge crowd disperse somewhat, missed the last campus-bound bus from the
mall, so had to walk up to catch a different one that runs later. An
older man was staggering down the sidewalk, barely managing to make it
from one pole to another, drunk as the proverbial skunk. He grinned at me
as he only just managed to grab a pole, and I congratulated him on his
success. "You're a nice guy," he said, "I want to buy you a beer." I
told him it was very unlikely a bar would serve him and asked if I could
help him make his way home instead. No, he wasn't ready to go home and he
was sure he'd find a bar or club to serve us. So I walked along with him,
trying to keep him from wobbling out into the street, and he was very
jolly, kept stopping to give me a hug and "accidentally" letting his hand
brush against my crotch. I wasn't sure if he was really trying to work up
the nerve to make a pass but thought it more likely he was just drunk
enough to override repression. The first club we walked into did, indeed,
refuse to serve him. A doorman at the second one (Saigon Passion III)
wouldn't even let us in, but the third try was successful, a Korean
hostess took him in hand and led us to a table, brought two Budweisers.
He handed her a twenty dollar bill. No change was volunteered. I told
him he should ask for it but he refused. Oh well, no fool like an old
fool, especially a drunk one. After the beer I again offered to help him
get home but he wanted to stay and I left him, feeling fairly certain he'd
be leaving the place with totally empty pockets.
The day set a new record for income from shopping carts and strollers. A
large part of the mall parking structure was closed for the concert and
the mall itself was as crowded with shoppers as it is during the
pre-Christmas week. Many people were buying food to take over to the
beach for the evening fireworks and abandoned their carts as they left the
mall. Incredibly, there was no competition at all. That's no doubt
partly because the first of the month brings welfare or social
security checks, making quarters less alluring. Some of the most active
competitors also often give up the hunt to watch entertainment at the
mall's Center Stage and there was something going on there throughout the
day. That factor also turned the following Tuesday into a unexpected
two-Colt bonanza, but the Fourth set the record with seven dollars.
Since I had spent the last of my money on a belated purchase of tea bags,
that was a most welcome surprise and let me at least partly keep up my
tradition of getting plastered on the Fourth. Three Colts spread
throughout the day was a fairly weak version of past celebrations, but a
lot better than I had expected. Food was in abundant supply, too, on both
the Fourth and the following day, also observed as a holiday, but then
oddly was almost totally missing on Tuesday.
That flu bug, or whatever it was, went on its way very quickly but left a
nasty legacy behind in the form of aggravated bronchitis (I suspect).
That's usually not a problem in the summer, but it went into full swing on
the morning of the Fourth and each morning starts with an hour or more of
clearing the accumulated congestion from the night. It's a thoroughly
unpleasant condition and causes a constant drain on overall energy levels.
It's always something ...
As I wrote elsewhere:
Methinks I made a mis-diagnosis. Although highly unusual for such
a thing to follow so close on the heels of that seeming flu-bug
recently, this is just a common old ordinary cold in da head,
complete with a running faucet of a nose.
Weird stuff for High Summer.
But then this is the Seventh Month of 1999, when Nostradamus
said fire would rain from the sky, the War to End War would
begin, and the Anti-Christ would arise.
Well, I suppose if India and Pakistan start lobbing nukes at
each other, old Nostradamus's sales will skyrocket, too.
Meanwhile, I'll sniffle and snuffle ....
Wednesday was the worst. I walked around muttering "oh gawd" all day, not
entirely sure which deity I was muttering to. In the days when I had jobs
with an allowance of "sick days", I almost never used them except when
feeling fine and just wanting to goof off. If I wasn't feeling well it
seemed more sensible to just go ahead and work since I wasn't going to
enjoy the time anyway. That philosophy held for the second half of this
week. The overly chilled buildings on campus aggravated the physical
discomfort, so aside from very brief on-line moments, I spent the days at
the beach and the mall, much of it "working" at the Quarter Hunt game.
The game was quite successful except for Thursday. Wednesday and Friday
were 2-Colt Days; on Thursday I was beginning to wonder if there'd even be
one, was looking for one last quarter before retiring from the game for
the day. I don't usually check coin return boxes on payphones unless the
Dowser tingles. It did. I checked. $1.35. Wheee. That bettered
Wednesday's major find, four quarters left in a stroller return station.
Friday's version of the Dollar Miracle was the most weird, though. I
hadn't noticed when retrieving it from a shopping cart, but when I was
double-checking the stack of eight quarters I was about to spend on a
Colt, I could feel one of the coins was slightly larger, thought it was
probably some Asian coin and quite involuntarily said to Kiko, "what the
hell is that?!" It was an Anthony dollar! That thing must have been
wandering around mistaken as a quarter for quite some time now.
Kiko is the new local lad at the 7-Eleven. Local boys no ka oi.
As for the other boys ... well, Friday marked two weeks without seeing or
hearing from the Sleeptalker. I saw the Snorer a couple of times but
didn't stop to talk and spotted Rocky from a distance on Thursday when I
was still not in the mood at all for company so took a long detour to
avoid encountering him.
People talk too much. That's a conclusion I've been coming to for a long
time. And urban nomads are probably the worst. Some of them simply never
stop talking, even if there is no one for them to talk to (no one visible,
in any case). A couple of the buddy teams can be seen endlessly yakking
to each other all day and then they get to the cloisters and keep on
yakking. One dreary man at the beach park never shuts up despite never
having anyone to talk to. On Thursday I had washed a tee shirt and was
waiting for it to dry, reading the book on the history of Asia which was
the major find from the end of first Summer Session. He settled across
the little canal from me. I shifted position slightly so a bush blocked
him from view. I could hear him grumbling away to himself as usual but he
gradually got louder and louder. Finally I shouted, "shut up! who's
listening to you anyway?!" He shouted back something like "what's it to
you" but went on his way. Yes, I think I could cope very well with a
monastic order which observed strict silence.
Competition in the Quarter Hunt game remained unusually light all week,
much to my surprise. Tubby was on the hunt Friday, though. His method so
annoys me that I give him no mercy whatever, was delighted once again to
watch him waddle along behind some poor old lady and stand there gaping at
her while she unloaded her cart into the trunk of her car. Delighted,
because after taking quite some time at it, she then started to wheel the
cart back herself, him waddling along behind her with his usual bewildered
look. To complete the delight, as she passed by me with the cart, I gave
her a big smile even if she couldn't have known why. "Would you like some
oranges?" she asked, offering me a plastic bag. "I'd love some," I said,
"thanks very much." "I bought too many," she explained. Four big
oranges. Delicious, and given the state of my health, a welcome addition
to the backpack, not to mention the added pleasure of the look on Tubby's
face as he witnessed the exchange.
There was one more wickedly delightful episode with Tubby that day when I
saw him go waddling off after yet another old lady. Ha! I knew her from
past experience. She very, very slowly wheels her cart way off to the
furtherest point of the parking lot, then crosses the street to a large
apartment building, and takes the cart inside with her. Poor Tubby.
The Whore is another competitor I actively enjoy defeating. He's a
grubby, bearded fellow with a potbelly who always carries a little clutch
purse in one hand. He's never around in the mornings, but from late
afternoon until mid-evening can be seen constantly prowling back and forth
between the supermarket and the two bus stops where carts are often
abandoned. It was the perfect topper for Saturday's game when I happened
across a cart just as he was turning to explore that bus stop and wheeled
it past him toward the return corral.
Saturday was a successful day. I've been retiring when reaching the Two
Colt stage and got there by three on Saturday afternoon. No Dollar
Miracle that day, but there was one of those special treats when all it
takes is an extra shove on the line-up of returned strollers to push the
last one past the trigger mechanism that returns two quarters. My guess
is, a lot of the Japanese tourists simply don't understand two quarters
are refunded when the strollers are returned. The lack of instructions in
Japanese is a blessing.
I was especially happy to end the game early on Saturday because Gaelic
Storm's concert in the evening at Andrews Amphitheatre promised the usual
afternoon soundcheck rehearsal and so it happened. A bottle of Colt and
that wonderful Irish music made the late afternoon in the secluded grove
very special, as did a second bottle with the actual concert in the
evening. There may have been conflict in some people's minds about the
choice of entertainment on Saturday evening ... Gaelic Storm on campus or
the annual Blue Hawaiian Moonlight concert at the Waikiki Shell ... but
for me there was no conflict at all. I love Hawaiian music, but love
traditional Irish music even more and the chances to hear it are too rare
in these islands. Listening to Gaelic Storm once again reminded me how
much I miss hearing Arthur Davey and the Fureys. If they came here, I'd
spend the whole pension check on a ticket if necessary.
I found a copy of Irving Wallace's The Three Sirens so put aside
the Asian history book to enjoy this yarn about a Polynesian island
unknown to the modern world since an Englishman had cast up there in the
eighteenth century. Amusing fluff.
I had been feeling somewhat puzzled by the fuss Jonathan Cainer has
been making about the Jupiter/Mars opposition, then realized the last such
event coincided with the start of this particular stage of my life. Yes,
1.8 years is about right, I think. Maybe not such a long trip, yet, but
certainly often a strange one.
"You got beer?" I heard from behind me as someone gave me a pat on the
back. I had spotted Rocky again on Saturday, once again had avoided
meeting him, but on Sunday afternoon he came across me sitting on a
planter ledge without my having seen him approach. I told him, no, I
didn't have beer. I didn't mention that I had the financing for one
already in place. Although in a way I admire his candor and sometimes
enjoy his company sufficiently to put up with it, I'm just not willing to
invest time in a relationship with someone who is only interested in me as
the supplier of beer. I had been thinking about it, after deliberately
avoiding him twice during the week, and considered saying, "Sorry, I'm
tired of playing saint, not buying beer for some young dude again unless
he's willing to put out." Trouble with that approach is, Rocky just might
do it ... and I don't want it.
He asked, as always, if I'd seen the Sleeptalker. Not for two weeks, I
told him. Rocky hadn't seen him either, wondered what has happened to
him. I wonder, too. None of the boys have been in the online games, but
then I have spent very little time in them as well, with about half an
hour in Seventh Circle early on Monday morning the longest stay in over a
The Mall Game has replaced the online games. To call it the Quarter Hunt
game is misleading, since the hunt for quarters is only one part of it.
Finding enough quarters to finance a $2.07 40-ounce bottle of malt liquor
is a fine prize, those rare days when two bottles are possible equal a
most successful game, but there are many other aspects to it which make
for a good, indifferent, or unsatisfactory game session. Food and tobacco
are, of course, welcome prizes. Amusing encounters with strangers,
interludes of observing the less transient occupants of the mall, the
challenge of competitors ... all combine to make it a frequently amusing
Two new players have recently appeared. One I call the Zombie. He's a
handsome young man, much in the Mondo style, who has an utterly blank look
on his face which reads, though, as contentment. He walks with his arms
at his side, motionless. He hunts cigarette butts and cups with Coke or
Pepsi, never seems to take an interest in quarters. He speaks to no one.
The other, also a darkly attractive young man, I call the Fool. I mean
that in the classic reine Tor sense, the Joker, the happy genius.
Always smiling, with such a happy look on his face I wondered what drug he
was on when I first saw him. He sits for hours beside an
ashtray/trashcan, usually near the Disney Store, and thus supplied with a
steady harvest of snipes, appears to happily smoke and watch the people.
I've never seen him speak to anyone, either, nor does he take any interest
in hunting for whatever isn't deposited in his immediate disposal unit.
I like both of them very much and admire their apparently contented
adjustment, their mastery of the Mall Game. Like Mondo, they are better
players than I am.
The Whore was frantic on Monday, rushing around in a frenzy trying not to
lose any quarters. Fortunately the other major competitors were not
playing and since he seemed so desperate I concentrated on other than the
main hunting grounds, still managed to have the Colt financing in place by
early afternoon. Sunday's most odd find: I noticed a young nomad sitting
near a bus stop with one of those huge plastic jugs of milk and a box of
cereal, thought the milk especially a sad waste of foodstamp buying power.
A little later I again passed by the spot and saw he had abandoned both
the milk and the cereal, so enjoyed some myself. Milk is a rarity, one of
the things I wish I had more of, so it was a most welcome, and unusual,
Almost every day there is a plate lunch box from Patti's Chinese Kitchen.
By far, most of my off-campus food comes from that place. That so much of
it is abandoned doesn't speak very highly of it, I fear. Part of the
reason, I think, is that they so lightly cook the vegetables they mix with
their fried noodles and the mix is always heavy on broccoli. Cooked so
briefly, it is always very tough. So the abandoned boxes usually contain
a generous supply of vegetables and noodles, with only a few remnants of
whatever the meat dish may have been. There was one most unusual plate
lunch box from Zippy's on Monday, though. Someone had eaten all the rice
and macaroni salad, left just enough to provide evidence of its one-time
existence, but there were three large pieces of fried chicken untouched!
It's important not to play the game seriously or for too long a time, not
to get greedy, not to let the number of found quarters determine the
overall mood of the play. Que sera, sera. The fun comes from the
playing, not the rewards.
The biggest pitfall in the Mall Game is eating too much. There are so
many people who kindly leave their leftovers and unwanted purchases on
benches or ledges and it's difficult not to peek inside a heavy plate
lunch box or to taste it when the contents look interesting or to finish
them when they're good. There's not much around in the morning (I
should've won the recent McDonald's prize of "free breakfast for a year"
and then I'd really be set), but from around eleven or eleven-thirty, food
starts to appear and usually in over-abundance.
The Mall Game relates more to Bartle's MUD2 than to games like Seventh
Circle. MUD2 "resets" periodically. You lose everything you have and
must start over. Although you keep your rank and any skills or credits for
special quests, objects have to be re-acquired. Echo Myra's "and start
all over again in the morning." I should have had a fifty-cent start,
though, on Thursday's game. Didn't, because a return mechanism for
strollers cheated me and failed to produce the two quarters it was
supposed to. I was rather annoyed because I was in a hurry, had to leave
to get to a theatre, but couldn't resist
returning the stroller which I
found on a level above the return point and thus had to take down in an
elevator. I was somewhat compensated the next morning when I shoved the
line of strollers in a return-corral and the first one unexpectedly popped
out. Returning it gave me two quarters. Victory!
One amusing aspect of the game, and of finding things anywhere, is
speculating on the reason something has been abandoned. This week
included a major mystery in that category. On Monday I noticed a
discarded small brown paper bag. It was sufficiently open for me to see a
Virginia Slims cigarette box inside. I needed a new stash box, so got it.
The thing was almost a full pack, missing perhaps one or two smokes.
Okay, I assumed someone bought it and decided they didn't like them, threw
it away. Tuesday morning, same trash bin, another small brown paper bag.
I got it out, looked inside. TWO packs of Virginia Slims, both opened,
both missing only one or two smokes. Now if it had been just one such
pack, I'd have thought, well, maybe someone is trying to quit smoking,
can't resist, buys a pack, smokes two and throws the rest away. But TWO
packs? No, I couldn't come up with any reasonable hypothesis. Wednesday
morning, naturally I went to check that trashbin. Yet again, a pack of
Virginia Slims with two smokes missing. Definitely a major mystery.
Alas, the magic didn't continue on Thursday ...
Dame Fortune seems to have thought I should get more Vitamin C,
followed-up the gift of oranges with an odd little plastic dispenser full
of tiny yellow triangles containing the vitamin. Although smaller, they
instantly reminded me of valium. Now that would be THE find of the year,
a little tub of diazepam tablets.
358 insert: Perestroika
Subject: Manoa Valley Theatre's new production
"Angels in America: Perestroika", by Tony Kushner
Okay. My young intellectual student friend who saw the original NYC
production was in some ways too kind about the play when we talked about
it a week or so ago, in other ways too harsh. He said, as I recall, that
it has all the "worst excesses of Beckett and Genet", which as I see it,
puts the play into far too exalted a domain, even at the domain's "worst".
He said it was one "long, gay cocktease". Long, indeed, terribly terribly
gay, but methinks a Venus All-Male Revue would do a far better job of
The play won the Tony Award in NYC. As I said to Liz Kane (a member of
the stage crew) later, it must have been a bad season on Broadway.
It is far too long, has segments which could so easily be cut that no one
(except the pretentious faggot who wrote it) would miss. It desperately
wants to shock, to be blasphemous, and no doubt succeeds with some folks,
especially Mormons who get especially crude handling.
Do Mormon men really wear such absurd underwear? (Today's Star-Bulletin
article about them stashing a YEAR's supply of food added to my raised
eyebrow about that religious group, never mind growing up in Utah and
having once wanted to become a member).
The best part of the play is the wicked, yet very funny, death of the
infamous Roy Cohn with the spectre of Ethel Rosenberg in attendance,
beautifully played by Martha Walstrum. She also plays two other
characters in the spasmodically operatic play and gets full credit for
keeping me awake and for keeping me from walking out.
It's pretentious trash, arch and affected as only American
pseudo-intellectual faggots can accomplish, but certainly the cast and
crew of the Manoa Valley Theatre did the best, the very best, any group
could be asked to do with it.
I wasn't shocked, although I'm sure many people would be. I was mostly
bored, occasionally amused. But since my record with "local theatre"
mainly consists of falling asleep or walking out after the first act, I
guess it qualifies as a success in its own way.
Re: Manoa Valley Theatre's new production
: [Moderator's Comment: "Language"...]
I told some friends I sent the post to that I wasn't sure if the SCH
moderators would accept it because of "Language", but believe me,
my "language" was nothing compared to what is used in the play under
The review of the production in today's Star-Bulletin was, by contrast,
very tame and rather boring. The cast and crew from MVT will, though,
no doubt be pleased by the well-deserved praise they got and the
suggestion that they'll be seeing awards for their efforts. If the
award-deciders have a long enough memory, I'm sure that's right (the
production just missed the Oscar/Tony equivalent's latest round and
has to wait almost a year).
I had an email about the post which accused me of being a "homophobe".
HA! Perhaps I am. But "faggot" is like "nigger". One is only
allowed to use the terms if within the community they refer to.
The Star-Bulletin reviewer sidestepped what I think is a major point.
Why on earth did the Manoa Valley Theatre group decide to do this
awful play? Never mind they do a beautiful job with it, but the
thing just isn't worth the massive effort they've put into it.
I know MVT loves doing offbeat, "kinky" works, but there must be
better plays from young American writers out there, if they don't
want to do classics. There must be.
[exit muttering something about surely hoping so ... ]
You simply must stop eating so much, I told myself on Saturday evening.
Not more than three minutes later I encountered a big muffin sitting on a
table, beckoning at me through its transparent plastic wrapping.
Blueberry. Freshly baked and delicious. Oh well, I said as I finished
it, you will now ignore any plate lunch boxes for the rest of the day. I
had to ignore three of them but this wasn't a great exercise in
self-discipline. It was almost eight o'clock and I'd been eating
frequently for twelve hours, since some McD's certificates had started the
day off with the luxury of hotcakes. On both Saturday and Sunday there
was an almost constant supply of food and even though I held it more in
check on Monday that day, too, ended with a big blueberry muffin.
On Friday there was yet again one of those Virginia Slim cigarette packs
in the usual trash bin. This time I could tell three were missing since
there were three lengthy butts under a nearby bench. Okay, so a person
buys a pack of cigarettes, takes a couple of puffs off three of them, and
then throws the rest away. Exceedingly weird. But maybe I was on the
right track. On Sunday, the packaging from a "beginner's kit" of a
nicotine gum treatment was in that trash bin. I thought there was
actually some gum in the box but it turned out to be a cassette tape
explaining the routine. I didn't listen to it, but I would have given the
gum a try had there been any. The treatment program lasts twelve
weeks. I won't mind if the person keeps on throwing away a
pack of cigarettes every day while chewing the gum.
Certainly as strange as someone discarding a pack of cigarettes every day
is someone buying a 12-pack of Budweiser, drinking two and leaving the
rest. But so it was on Monday morning and my backpack was exceedingly
heavy with ten cans of Budweiser in it.
Saturday would have been a 3-Colt day but I bought a 24oz can of Bud for
Rocky. He was strutting around shirtless in the park, most unusual since
he almost always wears a tanktop. I told him it had been so long since
I'd seen his chest I'd forgotten what a beautiful body he has. He was
pleased with the compliment and even though faking protest, let me
rub my hand down to his flat belly. Such smooth, soft skin over firm
muscles ... indeed, a fine body. So later I took him the beer as a thank
you gift. "What, no 40?" he asked. You'll have to let me stroke
something else to get a 40, I teased, and he told me I am "terrible".
True. I'm not sure which of us is the bigger slut.
The Snorer said the Sleeptalker has returned to Waianae. The Sleeptalker
said a couple of weeks ago he might be doing that since his father thought
they could work together (doing what was never mentioned). Considering
what the Sleeptalker has told me about his father, I wouldn't expect it to
be a long-term solution but for as long as it lasts, the Sleeptalker is
out of my life. And I miss him.
Funny, the Games People Play. Perhaps none more amusing than the games we
create and play by ourselves, between our schizoid selves. A little melon
fell from heaven. I pledged that none of it would go for "consumables".
No cigarettes, no beer, no (alas) teabags. Instead it provided the
sensible shopping expedition I had failed to do with the Fabled Pension
Check. New slippers, toothbrush, razors, etc. The disposable razor I had
been using had gotten so dull I was beginning to wonder if I'd have to
grow a beard until the first of August. But the most wicked part of the
game was the ban on teabags, a self-inflicted punishment. I know those
early morning moments with a cup of tea on the quiet campus are a favorite
part of my day, but I hadn't bought the month's stash. Okay, so suffer,
see if you get the message this time. Yep, weird games.
Dame Fortune seemed to approve of my "discipline", though, because the
harvest was bountiful from the Mall Game's Quarter Hunt. Not only was
Saturday a 3-Colt day (or could have been), but so was Sunday. Monday
fell short by two quarters, but it hardly mattered with 120oz of Budweiser
in my backpack and there were even a couple of cans left from that bonanza
Yes, I realize some of those quarters could have gone for teabags ...
The Whore was the only active competitor all weekend. He never arrives
before about one-thirty and since I don't see him elsewhere, I suspect he
hangs out at IHS until after the free lunch. Every day he was in his
frantically greedy mode, rushing around clutching that silly little purse.
I was astounded when I saw on Monday one way he spends his treasure,
buying a Coke for 85 cents from the crackseed store! With gallons of the
stuff discarded and available for free all over the mall, it's just too
silly to spend money on it. But then he never seems to hunt for food or
cigarette butts, either, so I guess he's the finicky type. Silly
A new player arrived on the scene, the Roadrunner, so called for his habit
of dashing around like a whirlwind. He only appears in the very early
morning, almost sprints up to the top level to get coins from the new
fountain up there, runs quickly back down to the toilets where he brushes
his teeth so animatedly it looks like one of those speeded-up films, and
then seems to make an equally hurried round of the entire mall before
disappearing. He's probably in his late twenties, only slightly grubby,
and certainly seems to have energy to spare. I'm glad he doesn't
stick around to play the cart game.
Monday's odd finds included a pair of earrings which look like little
gold bars. Since they were still on a card with the price tag, $16.95
suggests fool's gold, and anyone who would spend that much on costume
jewelry and just throw it away qualifies as a fool. A little bracelet
which may really be gold was lost, not thrown away, I think. And I began
to wonder at one point if I was subconsciously casting a spell on people
because there have never been so many cases of people dropping coins in my
presence. They all picked them up, and I even helped one woman collect
her spill, but it happened so often it got to be quite funny.
Silly Rocky, though, just doesn't get the message. Once again he strutted
up, in company with two dull, older guys. "You got beer?" Yes, I surely
did but I just said with a smile, "get outta here." You want beer, boy?
Then take off your shirt and leave your boring buddies behind. No, I
won't say that, but he should by now have figured it out.
His reputation as Pied Piper is slipping. The young lads who were
following him around a couple of weeks ago haven't reappeared and he's
hanging out with some very uninteresting people. Still, he was
responsible for Mondo and the Sleeptalker entering my life, so I won't
give up hope. Mondo has "a place of his own" now, Rocky told me, so I
assume he has reconciled with his family and moved into one of the
apartments he inherited. I'm happy for him, but do miss seeing him,
almost as much as I miss the Sleeptalker.
The weekend was dominated, though, by that name which has played so great
a role in my adult life. Kennedy. I loved his father, I adored his
mother. I didn't pay much attention to him as an adult, saw photos from
time to time and wasn't surprised at all to see that sweet little boy who
had been such a delight in his all-too-brief White House life grow into an
elegantly handsome man. With such parents, how could it have been
otherwise. But he stayed "John John" for me and the first image which
came to mind when hearing of his disappearance was, of course, that
poignant one of him saluting, quickly followed by remembering my favorite
of them all, him peering out from under that massive desk where his father
sat working. That one was printed in the Sunday paper.
In one of the first interviews I heard, a friend of the family said her
first reaction was "this can't be, it's asking too much." Yes, I agree.
I was going to call this section of the Tales last month of the ninth
year but when I checked my passport I saw I was mistaken and the "last
month" is almost over. It was not on August 20th but August 2nd
that I flew from Bangkok to Tokyo to Honolulu. 1989.
Odd, since I've often contributed to it, but I'd forgotten a potential
source of free books. The trash bin outside Rainbow Books. Several times
I've taken books there to sell and when they weren't wanted, thrown them
into that trash bin. I went to Rainbow to get a copy of Candide
but they didn't have one for less than three dollars, so that project was
postponed. When leaving, I glanced in that trash bin and retrieved four
books. The first I read was Susie Moloney's A Dry Spell, an
engrossing, spooky tale of a Rainman in the Stephen King mode.
The acquisition of a new supply of light reading added emphasis to the
missing stash of teabags, but the nice thing about creating games to play
by yourself is that you can change the rules at any time. So I changed
them, negotiated a ten dollar loan and bought teabags. 48 teabags. That
stash will last well into the August pension check period, so it's just
starting on it a little early, ran the justification. Inconsequential
fiction, a cup of tea, dawn over the campus ... the stuff that makes life
Once again on Wednesday morning, there it was. A pack of Virginia Slims.
I almost begin to feel sorry for that person.
The three lads Rocky had introduced me to were at the mall on Tuesday and
Wednesday after a long absence. The cutest of the three echoed The
Master: "you got beer?" These silly boys. Are they naive or just plain
dumb? If the lad had approached me on his own, I'd have been happy to
share a beer with him, just to enjoy some time in his company and to hear
a little of his story. But to split a beer four ways, I think not. I
patted the coinbox on the cart I was returning and said, "working on the
third bottle." He should have tagged along, but didn't. Silly boys.
Aside from cigarette butts, quarters and food, the most commonly found
objects are tee shirts. If I'd saved all the tee shirts I've found, I'd
have a huge collection. This week's finds include a 1993 Merrie Monarch
Festival shirt which I stowed in my campus stash box and a Greatland
Trading Co. one in a nice shade of dusty violet which I'm wearing as I
write. I prefer carrying only two tee shirts in my bag but am reluctant
to put either of the current two (Kamehameha Schools and Kingdom of Tonga)
in the stash box because I don't want to lose them. They're too much fun
to wear, always get reactions from people who'd probably never speak to me
otherwise. Kam grads and Tongans.
So the current in-pack wardrobe consists of three tee shirts, one pair
surfer shorts, one pair long pants, one long-sleeved denim shirt, one pair
black Nike socks, Ralph Lauren briefs, and a floppy little hat that only
gets worn when it's raining. The long-sleeved shirt and socks are for
sleeping, the pants likewise and for very early morning. Too much
A decade on this mountaintop in the middle of the Pacific. As the
anniversary approaches, my thoughts frequently stray to an examination of
those ten years, never ceasing to feel continued surprise that it
happened, that the longest continuous time I've stayed anywhere in my life
should be on this island where I had planned a two-week break in my
journey to San Diego.
It was obvious, very early on Thursday morning, that it was going to be a
prime day for the Mall Game. The place was unusually crowded for a
weekday and there were frequent periods of gray skies and drizzle,
conditions which always suggest good hunting. The impression was
reinforced by having financing for two Colts in hand before noon. By
mid-afternoon two of the three stroller corrals were totally empty; lots
of quarters circulating out there.
Clink-clink, clink-clink. I had noticed the Japanese couple and their two
small children and the two strollers they had rented. I was sitting near
a return corral looking at a newspaper when the couple walked up,
returned the strollers and went on their way leaving me the task of
retrieving the four quarters.
That kind of incident has no doubt happened to the Whore as well, and he
seems to have become obsessed with the strollers. Considering how many
were in circulation and that easy dollar I made, I didn't much blame the
Whore when I noticed him settle on a bench near a corral. But he made
several mistakes. It was too early in the day to expect many returns, he
couldn't see the bus stop where many Japanese abandon the strollers rather
than returning them and, poor fellow, he fell asleep. I retrieved two
quarters almost literally from under his nose while he dozed on. And, of
course, he left the shopping cart field open for me. It turned out to be
a four-Colt day, setting a new record.
One thing the Mall Game has in common with the online games, and no doubt
with all games, is how difficult it is to quit playing when you know you
are approaching a new record. When the last stroller finally put me over
the eight dollar mark, I was sufficiently tired to just sit and watch the
people until it was late enough to head for the cloisters, buy the Colt
reward for my efforts and enjoy it with Wilbur Smith's The Seventh
Scroll, the next in the line of escapist fiction. I'd had the first
Colt at lunchtime, got sufficiently engrossed in the book that the
one-bottle nightcap turned into two-bottles, leaving enough in my pocket
for Friday's lunch. Yes, a successful day of game playing.
Rocky caught me in the early evening, tried to get me to buy a beer then
and share it but I told him I was waiting till later. Poor boy. If only
I was as smitten with him as I am with the Sleeptalker, he'd get a lot
more beer. I knew if it had been the Sleeptalker, I would have been off
to the shop for two bottles immediately. Rocky remembers how I so often
arrived at the hacienda with my bottle-of-beer nightcap, knew that
was what I meant by later, and asked again if I was still sleeping at the
cloisters. I said yes, but answered his follow-up questions carefully,
not wanting to encourage him to show up there. I remember those Rocky
Horror Social Club gatherings with great fondness but have no desire to
see them revived at the cloisters, and especially without Mondo and the
Sleeptalker as part of them. Poor Rocky.
In complete contrast to Thursday, Friday provided a really lousy game.
The first coins, two quarters from a returned stroller, didn't appear
until almost eleven in the morning. No Virginia Slims. They may have
been taken by the Bicycle Man, a mousie fellow in his early thirties who
rides a bicycle around and around the mall all day, checking curbside
trashbins. He was making his first rounds unusually early and had passed
by the tobacco mine just before my arrival. But there was an unusual
breakfast of French toast strips from Burger King, a huge lunch of beef
and rice from Yummy Korean Barbecue and a strange but tastey dinner from
Mama Mia's Spaghetti House, cold spaghetti and large meatballs in a
chilled cream sauce. There were vouchers for free sandwiches from McD's,
both the morning and the afternoon newspapers, and a National Geographic
with an article on the Mustang region of Nepal.
Any game, though, becomes dull when too long a time passes without
something interesting happening and by noon I'd had enough, took the
surplus from Thursday, bought a Colt and went to the park for a shower,
then sat and enjoyed the brew and the article and pictures about Nepal.
The brief summary the author gave of the Powers he had to persuade to let
him enter that forbidden region made me smile over my far less impressive
arsenal in the 1973 attempt. Little wonder I didn't succeed.
I would have stayed in the park or on the beach for the rest of the
afternoon but the drizzle which had obscured the mountains for most of the
day finally spread south. The beach was out, the campus was out (as it
had been all week because of continuing drizzle), so it was back to the
mall. By early evening I still had only $1.56, groaned when I returned a
stroller to find the corral had once again run out of quarters, my
annoyance only leavened by the wicked satisfaction of knowing the Whore,
still obsessed with strollers, would get ripped-off by that corral, too. I
was reconciled to a much smaller nightcap, probably a 16oz Budweiser.
Then I noticed a child's small plastic notebook cover left in an ashtray.
When I picked it up and examined it, I found a dollar bill tucked inside
the slot which had probably once held a pad of paper. Now that was a fine
ending to an otherwise rather dull day and I went off to the cloisters
with my bottle of Colt.
As I was getting my cardboard from the usual dumpster, a young man
strolled over and asked me for a smoke. "Don't have any," I said, "just
got butts." "I'll take one," he said, unzipping his pants and pulling it
out to have a piss on the side of the dumpster. I held out my box of
snipes and told him to take the longest one, so one hand still busy with
aiming, he used the other to grab the snipe and thanked me. Local boys no
The dawn hour with tea, the final hour of the waking day with a beer.
Something at least reasonably interesting to read with them (and The
Seventh Scroll qualifies). Anchors in a strange life which young men
often make even more strange. And amusing.
The best find in the weekend's treasure hunt was a bar of soap. Ivory,
just out of its wrapper which was left on the shower bench, too. I've
very rarely had to buy soap so it's not an automatic part of my "sensible
shopping" expeditions. But this time I was beginning to think the little
sliver I had left wasn't going to last until the arrival of the Fabled
Pension Check and no one had left any in the shower. No problem, a soap
bar fell from heaven.
Dame Fortune played a wicked hand on Saturday, kept me in suspense until
early evening. Will there or will there not be a nightcap? Finally she
relented just after seven when the needed one-more-quarter showed up.
Then she added three more in the half hour before the last bus was due and
as if to chide me for my lack of faith, put three bottles of Budweiser in
my path to the cloisters. A Colt, three Buds and The Seventh
Scroll ... nice finale to a bountiful week.
All the Sunday Amateurs came out to play the next day, alas. Even Tugboat
Annie was in action. The Whore strangely made a brief appearance in
mid-afternoon but was otherwise missing. The Amateurs concentrate on the
bus-stops near the supermarket and consequently miss out on the big game,
those strollers. Thanks to them it was a 2-Colt day with yet again three
quarters to hold over for the next day. The advantage of the Dame's
Saturday technique was being spared the need to decide, do I drink it now
or wait until nightcap financing is also in hand? With the active
Amateurs and not knowing the Whore was going to remain absent, I decided
to play it safe, so it was the sunset hour before I went over to the beach
to enjoy some brew, knowing the nightcap money was in reserve.
I spotted Rocky a couple of times but managed to dodge him. On Saturday,
waiting for the bus, I got caught by an old guy who spends most of his
time messing around with whatever it is he keeps in the two plastic
shopping bags he always carries. He launched into his life story, told me
he and some other guys have a safe sleeping place in Waikiki and invited
me to join them. Poor old man was talking a mile a minute, so happy with
a new audience, I suppose. I was relieved when my bus finally arrived,
shook his hand and wished him a good night. He was lurking at the
bus-stop again on Sunday and I noticed a couple of the other regulars
making an effort to avoid getting into conversation with him. I did, too.
The new McDonald's game features little bits of paper with letters on
them. The grand prize is a million dollars, handed out fifty grand a
year. Three letters are necessary to win and I have two of them. So do,
I am sure, millions of other people, but it nevertheless invokes some
fantasy on what winning would mean. Unlike the reader-inspired thoughts
on suddenly receiving five thousand dollars, fifty grand a year for the
rest of my life is the proverbial different horse. So I was sitting there
watching the ocean and the big round moon, watching as the stars began to
appear, and wondered what I'd do if I won that game. I couldn't make up
my mind so settled it by saying I'd just sit in Duke's for a couple of
weeks thinking about it.
Maybe the couple of weeks would turn out to be like the couple of weeks I
intended to spend in Honolulu and I'd still be sitting in Duke's spending
my annual fifty grand when August 2, 2009 arrived.
Rocky came up from behind me on Monday. Caught. "You got beer?" he
asked, as usual. I told him I was working on my second bottle, reminded
him that he knows from the Hacienda Days how I love that bedtime brew. He
nailed me. "If [the Sleeptalker] were here, you'd buy one now," he said.
I didn't deny it, sidestepped it by promising to buy him a 40 from the
Fabled Pension Check.
A lunchtime or sunset brew is certainly a pleasant thing to have, but
it's that nightcap which is most treasured. So an ideal game begins with
eight quarters in pocket before the Whore arrives on the scene. I was one
short when he turned up on Monday. He has a very bad memory, I think,
because he doesn't seem to remember the habitual Leavers. A Leaver who
just takes the cart over one block to a different bus line is worth
following, one who toddles off down the road to some apartment building is
not. But he once again set off following the woman who takes the cart
inside the building with her and just as he was trudging back a woman came
out of the supermarket, got in a taxi and said to the driver, "forget it",
waving at the cart. I grabbed it before the Whore could get there.
A reader asked why I call him the Whore. It's the main insult the Boys
use with each other, although with them there's an affection in the usage
which certainly doesn't apply in this case. The Whore has thick wavy hair
that looks like a bad Thirties perm and frequently takes out a large comb
to run through it. His potbelly makes him look considerably pregnant.
But it's that purse he constantly clutches which really earned him the
title of The Whore.
He was his usual frantically greedy self on Monday. I had followed an old
man who shops two or three times a week and always leaves his cart at the
bus stop just a few yards from a return corral. He was messing around
even longer than usual rearranging the contents of his two bags, so I was
standing nearby waiting for him to finish. The Whore spotted the cart
(and me) but started walking toward us anyway. I moved a few steps
closer. He gave up and waddled on his way. Silly man.
He seems to have had a falling out with his usual yakking buddy because
they totally ignored each other all day. But luckily he acquired another
one and was busy gabbing away with him when I hit an amazing bonanza.
I've gotten pretty good at detecting when a Japanese couple is getting
ready to leave the mall, leaving their stroller, spotted a likely target
and grabbed the stroller when they left it. At the return corral I not
only got my two quarters, but there were already two abandoned quarters in
the machine. At the moment I collected those, someone left a cart at the
taxi stand across the street. I grabbed it, wheeled it to the return
corral and found someone had pushed a cart in there without retrieving the
quarter, then spotted another cart lurking behind a van nearby. $1.75 in
about fifteen minutes. Never would have happened if the Whore hadn't been
As the sunset hour approached, I was short three cents. I headed to the
Food Court to see if Myra was there, knowing I could get three pennies
from her, and found one penny on the way. Two cents needed for a sunset
brew. Myra wasn't there. I thought it quite certain I'd find those two
cents before the end of the evening, could go ahead and put the nightcap
at risk, but decided that might be inviting a jinx. So I patiently waited
until another cart was abandoned, then bought a Colt and went to the very,
very windy beach to enjoy the full-ish moon and the wispy white clouds
speeding across it.
The Food Supply Angel went very upscale. Both Sunday's dinner and
Monday's lunch came from the Mariposa, a very posh restaurant at
Neiman-Marcus. Dinner was a delicious salad of Romaine lettuce, chunks of
white turkey meat and lightly garlic-flavored croutons in a subtle
dressing, a delightful contrast to the usual heavy Chinese meals.
Monday's lunch was half of a club sandwich ... turkey, bacon, lettuce,
tomato, avocado. Yummy. The Mariposa's "doggie bags" are clear plastic
boxes which seal tightly. I won't complain at all if they appear more
There are some things more important than games, online or off. More
important than quarters or beer or food, even. One of them is the perfect
Hawaiian beach day, especially in a summer when they are so rare, with
more cloud cover and more frequent periods of drizzle than usual. Tuesday
was such a day although it would have been hard to predict it from the
hideous dawn hour on campus. The wind was so strong the drizzle came down
horizontally and I had to move from cloisters to sheltered tea-drinking
spot to computer center in dashes between the heavier wetness. Once at
the mall, though, the wind had reduced to a pleasant breeze and the skies
were clear. Far too beautiful to waste by hanging out in a shopping mall,
even one as open-air as Ala Moana, so most of the morning and early
afternoon was spent at the beach and in the park.
The price for this indulgence was, of course, substantially reduced income
and it was a nightcap-only day with just a few pennies leftover. Shrug.
Like I said, some things are more important.
In the mall, there is continual Hawaiian recorded music playing from
ceiling speakers over the walkways. When out of hearing range, I've been
emulating the routine of Buddhist monks walking the paths of Himalayan
foothills, murmuring a mantra and spinning a prayer wheel. An actual
wheel would be a bit too eccentric an image, I think, but I have one
spinning in my head and repeat a mantra made of variations using om
in its short form with a long oh, the multi-toned aum, and
Ganesh with its almost silent final A. om Ganesha aum is a
frequently used variation, as is om Ganesha aum aum aum. Even when
I am not consciously and deliberately repeating it, the variant seems to
be repeating itself just below the level of consciousness. The most
notable effect of the exercise has been the absence of the internal
"Where's the money?" I asked Myra when I ran into her early in the day.
"What money?" she asked. I said the horoscope in the morning newspaper
had said someone would give me money, surely it meant her. She laughed
and said she didn't need to do any food shopping, else she'd abandon the
cart for me afterwards. Fair enough, and that brash astrologer was
justified, I guess, by the seven people who indirectly gave me quarters.
Weird for a mass astrologer to make such a blunt unqualified prediction.
Did someone give money on Tuesday to everyone born in Aries? I doubt it.
I went back to the beach to watch the sunset. After it sank into the sea
the huge, full moon came into view and a most magical flight of cloud
dragons paraded across the mountains. The sky was clear except for that
band of fast-moving clouds with their wispy edges taking on mythic shape
so clearly that one battle when two dragons collided could have been a
deliberately animated film sequence. Maybe I lost out on a few quarters
while watching that show, too, but it was more than worth it.
Beautiful moon, beautiful evening. Just before leaving the mall, I found
a recent copy of Forbes magazine. It's twice as thick as any issue of the
Economist I've seen but doesn't come close to that standard of writing and
in-depth analysis. Still, it made for amusing reading with my nightcap
bottle of Colt, even more amusing to be reading these journals about high
finance, given my basic daily goal of $2.07 profit.
Tomita-san. Such a long time since I last saw him. He didn't notice me
as he walked past, talking with an older woman who may have been his
mother. He has shaved off that little goatee which grew with such glacial
slowness, has gained weight. If not for the Kublai connection and his
saying something in his typical lilt as he passed, I might not have
recognized him. Kublai? The inimitable Felix believes paintings or
photographs can provide intuitive clues to who someone was in previous
lives, not as I understand it that someone necessarily shares the exact
facial features but that a sympathetic chord is struck, so to speak. In
the book on Asian history there was a drawing of Kublai Khan and when I
turned the page and saw that picture, I laughed aloud. Tomita-san!
I didn't interrupt his conversation to say hello, was happy just to have
seen him and amused that he passed while I was in the midst of a
McD's-inspired spin-off fantasy. A silent slave auction. How much would
I bid to spend a night with a man? The benchmark was set by the
Sleeptalker at a thousand dollars. It was a bad hunk day at the mall, no
one came close. There were some I'd bid one hundred for but just for an
hour, wouldn't want to spend an entire night with them. Then a local
hairy sea dwarf tipped the scale at five hundred.
[That book on Asian history also informed me that the early Chinese in
their first encounter with the Japanese dubbed them "hairy sea dwarves", a
fact I'll never manage to get out of my mind.]
There was one other five hundred bid, Dark Eyes. Such a sweet-looking
young man, such beautiful eyes. I see him almost every day at the mall
although he doesn't seem to work there. Yes, definitely a $500 bid.
Travis at the supermarket evidently had the day off; he might have pushed
the bidding even higher.
Dame Fortune seems to think I need more calcium, and I can't disagree. A
couple of days earlier I'd come across a large plastic cup almost full of
white liquid, thought it was probably some kind of shake. It wasn't.
Just plain, cold, delicious milk. That was topped on Wednesday by a whole
quart of the stuff. I could happily drink one of those every morning.
But the Food Supply Angel jumped the gun. Wednesday's lunch should have
been saved for Monday and the Tenth Anniversary. Lau lau, poke, Kalua
pig, chicken long rice, a mini-luau in a white box. All of the long rice
and most of the poke was left for someone else, though.
The day began with, yet again, a pack of Virginia Slims. It had been so
long since finding one I was wondering if the person had finally managed
to beat that early morning temptation to take a few puffs or had just
given up and gone on smoking the whole pack. But no, there it was, and in
the evening I came across yet another pack of the things with only one
missing, and that one in a nearby ashtray, barely smoked. Undoubtedly the
same donor. I'm tempted to go down earlier one morning and wait to have a
look at this strange phenomenon.
It was a two Colt day, but I had only the one as a nightcap. As the
sunset hour approached, I was still three quarters short. The usual
debate took place, one voice saying go ahead, you're sure to get those
three quarters for the nightcap. But another voice said, no, don't chance
it. I would have been nervous had I taken the risk because the last two
quarters didn't turn up until only minutes before time for the last bus to
The end of the month, Social Security and welfare checks gone, foodstamps
running low, quarters evidently become important to people who usually
ignore them. Charlie Chan, who ordinarily spends his days sitting outside
McD's drinking coffee, reading newspapers and yakking with the other
SocSec crowd, was on the hunt. The SocSec crowd should be banned from the
game but then I suppose if I reach the point of getting those checks, I'll
still be hunting quarters in the last week of the month, too. Knowing me,
I'll probably be starting the hunt by the middle of the month.
"What kind of stupid game is this," I grumbled on Thursday morning. No
Virginia Slims. Almost eleven o'clock and only twenty-six cents profit.
Humbug. I could see the hills around the campus were free of the drizzle
which had plagued the area all week, so took my bounty from the day
before, bought a Colt and sat happily in the secluded grove with the brew
and Patricia McKillip's The Riddlemaster of Hed. A
pseudo-medieval fantasy, the first volume in a trilogy. Tolkien certainly
established the trilogy as a fixture of fantasy fiction and in this
particular case a rather annoying one since the book was so short all
three could surely have been published in a single volume. The plot was
sufficiently amusing that I'll keep an eye out for the other two,
I stopped up to see Kory K but he wasn't in his office. Someone had
written "where are you?" on the blackboard by his desk. Keali'i came in.
"Where is he?" he asked. No idea, I said and asked if he'd written the
message on the board. He had, but several days ago, picked up the eraser
and scrubbed the message. He went on his way, I waited for a few minutes.
Still no Kory, so I wrote the equation T equals the square root of [symbol
for] infinity times pi squared on the board and left. As good a
definition of time as any I've seen. So it doesn't make sense,
neither does time.
The Whore spoke to me! When I went back to the mall in the late afternoon
there was a cart sitting at the bus stop. How odd it hadn't been spotted.
The Whore was standing by the main corral when I returned it, warned me to
be careful. He said a security guard had told him to leave the carts
alone or he'd be banned from the mall. How stupid, I said, why should
they care if someone returns the carts. He agreed, said he had talked
with one of the supermarket managers and they were quite happy to have the
carts returned since they didn't have to send one of their employees out
to do the job. I went over to the park to shower, wondering if the Whore
was just trying to discourage competition. Why was he still hanging
around outside the supermarket entrance if he couldn't return carts?
Since no one had officially cautioned me, I rounded up a few more carts,
then spotted one in the corral with its quarter still there. It was one
of the occasional tough ones, didn't want to give up the coin. The
fingernail file on my little Swiss Army knife is perfect for nudging the
coin out, and I had just gotten it loose when the Whore walked up, said
it's okay, he had talked to one of the sergeants in the security army who
told him to ignore what the other one had said, there was no policy
against people returning the carts. "And I was standing around all day
without returning carts," he lamented. "Ha!" I replied, "wish I'd known,
because I wasn't here all day." He said he'd noticed my absence. I guess
Charlie Chan and Bla must have had a very good day with the cart hunt.
The Virginia Slims benefactor was well upstaged on Saturday morning.
Walking through the secluded grove, I noticed a plastic shopping bag,
could see a Marboro carton box inside and thought it must be trash. No
trash, eight packs of Marboros! There was also a dollar bill and
thirty-one cents in coins and a new, still-sealed Degree deodorant stick.
How very odd. Someone must have gotten so drunk they wandered off without
realizing they'd left the bag behind. The Snipe Hunt is suspended for
I'd spent Friday in something of an aimless daze, stayed on campus until
late morning and then headed to the beach. I was feeling bored with the
Mall Game, only returned carts and strollers if they happened to be in my
path while collecting snipes. Finding two strollers abandoned together
was most fortunate although I had a few moments of nervousness taking them
down in an elevator. Someone had gotten stuck in there for at least an
hour earlier in the week. The car had reached the ground level but the
doors wouldn't open and the fire department was called, managed after what
seemed an extraordinarily long time to wedge one door open. I wondered
what they would have done had there actually been a fire.
I found a copy of Allen Drury's The Hill of Summer, spent some time
in the park with a bottle of Colt and the book. It's such a Cold War
Time doesn't make sense and our awareness of its passing utterly
subjective. July slipped by so quickly, in my perception, that it was
more like a week than a month.
It was one of those odd synchronicities which are my favorite things in
life. When I retrieved the second McKillip book I had stashed, I
discovered it was the final volume of the trilogy. I was sorry not to
find the second volume at Rainbow Books, but went ahead and read the third
one, able to fill in the gaps in knowledge without too much difficulty.
She is an excellent weaver of tales and the third book altered my plans by
dominating my attention. In the book, some of the characters are able to
assume the form of animals, or birds ... or trees.
Then an email arrived from a reader who had discovered the Tales while
searching for references to Hesse's Piktor's Metamorphosis and
included in his mail an illustration, a painting
he had done thirty years ago as a copy of Hesse's original. Piktor, of
course, transformed himself into a tree.
The "coincidence" added to my usual pleasure in sitting under that
beautiful old tree in the secluded grove on a weekend which Cainer had
said would contain "slow progress or no progress". Yes, he had that
right, and I could sense it was that kind of time even without his
warning, did nothing to combat or resist it.
The Fabled Pension Check was very tardy, as it had been last August, too,
but friends kindly sent a generous contribution toward the Tenth
Anniversary celebration so the party didn't have to be postponed. I grow
old, I grow old. I think the time has come to abandon any thought of such
ambitious partying. I was totally wasted the following day and even with
a longer than usual sleep, still dragging somewhat on the second day after
I had considered various possibilities, settled upon the notion of having
one drink in each of my favorite bars. I started at Manoa Garden where
Bryant, hearing my plan, said he was grateful I'd decided to start rather
than end the party there. After a large Budweiser, I went downtown to the
Pier Bar. Jimbo is such a fine bartender, such a nice man, and the
atmosphere there on the harbor so delightful that the "one drink" plan
fell by the wayside and there were not only two Budweisers and a shot of
Cuervo 1800, but an extra shot of that fine liquid he gave me as "one for
the road". A fine time, possibly the best part of the whole party. The
biggest mistake was including Gordon Biersch on my schedule. It was once
my very favorite bar. It is no longer. Still, their brew is good stuff
so despite the lousy service and the dreadful plate of calamari I ordered,
(thinking it wise to add at least a little something solid to the intake),
it was still pleasant to remember better times (and better cooking)
there. I should have skipped it, though.
House Without a Key at the Halekulani. As I told friends, the word for
that hotel is impeccable. A Bloody Mary at sunset there is quite
possibly the most gracious and civilized experience one can have in
Duke's was next on the list and, as I had suspected, once there I went no
further. I love that bar, most of the bartenders are superb, and there
are always interesting people to talk with or just to watch. Two young
men from the mainland revived memories of the "slave auction" ... one
tipped the scale at a thousand, matching the Sleeptalker benchmark. A
salesman on his way to Japan and Korea bought me a beer for telling him
about "hairy sea dwarf" which he thought extremely funny. A man from the
Sudan who lives in Qatar was very impressed that I'd not only heard of his
country of residence but knew how to spell it, and bought me another beer.
I have no idea how many I had but knew I'd never make it to the Regent's
Ocean Terrace to hear Jerry Santos. That's okay. Duke's is number one on
my list of reasons to be grateful for the ten years here, at least so far
as watering holes are concerned.
I bought a bottle of Colt on my way to the cloisters which was a bit silly
since I certainly couldn't drink any of it and consequently had it warm
for the next day's lunch, even though I could barely drink it then, too.
Yes, getting too old for such ambitious partying.
I wish I could sometimes transform myself into a tree.
When I first encountered Tolkien's masterwork, time stopped. My life
stopped. I cancelled all plans, sent my regrets to all invitations. I
did almost nothing while I followed Frodo & Company on their adventurous
path to Mordor. Edward was, as he usually was, most understanding, would
bring me cups of tea, an occasional tray of food, but otherwise left me
alone with my reading.
Robert Jordan's massive, multi-volume epic, The Wheel of Time, is
having the same effect on me.
All I want is a room somewhere, far away from the cold night air
It isn't cold, though a little damp. But yes, a room somewhere, with
one enormous chair, oh, wouldn't it be luverly.
I'll make do with what's available. Work with available materials. And
I'm fortunate enough to have the green paper to buy the entire epic,
fortunate enough to have the campus at UH-Manoa with its wonderful little
nooks, its secluded grove, to sit and read.
And that's what I'll do.
During intermissions, I began a little tribute to
The Sleeptalker, on the occasion of the First
Anniversary of our meeting. My cut-and-paste ability is severely limited,
so it will be awhile before that tribute includes all the most memorable
moments of knowing that young man, but it will be found in the
Possessions in Great Measure section of the Tales.
For him, Tolkien, Robert Jordan, and the artist who sent me the tree, I am
"Albert!" I heard, walking from the secluded grove.
Gregory, my Tadzio.
Encounters with Gregory seem to be a special omen, as one would expect of
a Tadzio. Like all of them, this one was a complete surprise. I
was so lost in Jordan's universe, meeting Gregory was like waking from a
dream. Indeed, he asked, "did you just wake up?"
No, dear man, I have not yet awakened. I shall probably sleep right
through this life.
Almost became a tree the first week of August. Certainly became rooted,
gripped by Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time saga, most of the time in
the secluded grove when it was not too wet to stay there.
The Whore must have been a very happy man. I never went near the mall.
Sometimes, when you come across one of these multi-volume epics, in
whatever genre, the first volume is almost brilliant and then it steadily
gets to be more and more routine.
Not so with Robert Jordan. Volume Three was a total spellweaver.
"... a solar eclipse will anchor an unprecedented astrological array that
some are calling a Cosmic Crucifixion. Mars in Scorpio will oppose Saturn
in Taurus, creating one arm of the cross, while Sun and Moon in Leo will
counter Uranus in Aquarius to form the other arm."
On Monday morning, approaching noon, I finally left campus for the first
time in a week and went to the beach to have a shower. I didn't see
Rocky, looked for him enough to be able to honestly say, next time I see
him, that I tried to find him to buy that beer I'd promised. He'll have
to wait for September. The Snorer was just coming out of the shower house
and, as reliably as Rocky's usual first greeting, asked, "you have a
cigarette?" "No," I lied. I had three, actually, but it irks me that
someone who has two jobs tries to bum smokes off of me. "Any butts?"
"No," I said, "just came down from campus and haven't swung through the
mall yet." Let the lazy bugger walk across the street and hunt his own
My kind of mood on Monday, not one of my favorites, either.
I had the shower, made a partial walk through the mall to collect a few
snipes and returned to campus with a Colt, back to my reading.
A few months ago, a newcomer arrived on campus, bearded man probably in
his late forties. He's a relatively affluent nomad, carries a laptop
computer around in his backpack. The Frenchman. His affluence extends to
having his favorite shag tobacco sent to him for rolling, but sometimes he
seems to smoke too much and his next supply doesn't arrive in time. The
first time he asked me for a smoke, he explained that, offered to return
my favor with some of his leaf when arrived and show me how to roll it. I
assured him I knew how to roll a smoke [understatement], told him not to
worry about it. I try to avoid him. He almost constantly whistles.
Aimlessly, tunelessly, even in the pre-dawn hour. I have no idea where he
sleeps but am deeply grateful it isn't the cloisters.
Now he has started competing for the campus ashtray bounty. Arrrghhh.
And he competed successfully enough I had to make a Tuesday morning trip
to the mall, too, just to hunt snipes. On neither trip to the mall did I
return a single cart, but I noticed on Tuesday that one of the usual
Sunday Amateurs was busy at the game. I guess with my absence the reward
has encouraged him to go professional. The Whore will not be pleased.
Me, neither, when and if I return to the game. And that, I suppose, will
be fairly soon since my pockets are almost empty. I didn't feel the least
bit of urge to do it on those two mall visits, though. Just wanted to get
done what I went there to do and get back to campus and Jordan's
The campus was so busy and crowded on Tuesday it made me doubly aware the
"summer idyll" is almost over. Much of the crowd came from incoming
students, on campus for this and that, and after the ghost-town week of
the interim between Summer Session 2 and the start of the new academic
year in little more than ten days, it will be back to a swarming anthill
and I'll have to re-train myself not to move from one place to another at
certain crucial times of the day, to overcome annoyance because students
cluster around ashtrays (even more so than the hairy sea dwarfs at the
mall), reconcile myself to the secluded grove not always being so
But, of course, first I have to survive that week when bodies, food and
tobacco will be in very short supply. Not a smart time to lose interest
in the Mall Game.
Cainer said the Eclipse, accentuated by its role in the Cosmic Diamond,
had a great cleansing effect. Make the outer as the inner, in that case,
I told myself, and went on the morning after the Eclipse to have a shower.
At the start, I had the place to myself. Much as I sometimes enjoy a
shower companion, I was more in the get-it-done-and-get-out mood I'd been
in all week. A young man, seemingly Polynesian came in. He wasn't
especially attractive. But he was obviously interested in me, stood there
looking intently. Strange. I was about to give him a show when an older
man, silvery white hair and hung like a horse, walked in, said something
to the young man in a language I couldn't identify. Uh-oh. Playing a
game with someone's toyboy. The older man took over his friend's shower,
almost pushing him out, and they left together. Then I was sitting at a
picnic table enjoying a smoke after the shower and the young man walked
over to the table and around me, looking all the time. I ignored him,
felt like saying, "baby, stick with the sugar daddy you've got, he's
better able to take care of you."
Very early in the Tales of life at the cloisters, I mentioned a Filipino
man who was shivering, rubbing his arms and bare chest with his hands to
warm them, spoke of my guilt at not having given him at least a tee shirt.
He has returned and seems to have gone slightly mad during his absence.
He walks quickly round and round the cloisters, muttering to himself,
sometimes for an hour or more before finally settling onto bare concrete
and sleeping. Twice he asked me for a cigarette. Both times I refused,
both times he just stood there and stared at me for some minutes before
resuming his striding and muttering. On the night of the Full Moon his
mutterings were almost rants and he seemed to spend the entire night with
his endless walk around and around the courtyard. The night of the
Eclipse was almost as bad, but at least he had found cigarettes somewhere
so didn't bother me except to ask once for a light. I think he's well on
the road to total madness but too far gone for me to be of any assistance.
I stayed at the mall for an hour or so after the shower and halfheartedly
played the game, encouraged by encountering some tourists abandoning a
stroller just as I crossed over from the park. An hour yielded $1.75 and
half a pepperoni pizza from the newly opened California Pizza Kitchen
which was filling but quite dull. That Sunday Amateur is indeed an
amateur, was sitting within noticing range of an abandoned stroller but
was too busy gabbing with another old guy to see it.
I wondered if my lack of enthusiasm was simply not needing the money, not
urgently anyway, since I had enough money left for two Colts, but I think
it's more complex than that.
Part of it is the season. The increased air temperature within the mall
is most welcome in the winter months, far less so in August. Then, too,
I've been spoiled by a week of sitting around reading, not walking around
with that wretched backpack as a burden. And, too, there are a few people
at the mall I'm genuinely weary of seeing, welcomed their absence from my
But I have a suspicion there are other reasons I don't particularly want
to identify and think about right now.
Betka sent a provocatively perceptive commentary on the month of August
from the astrologer Erick Francis. "You are finally seeking your freedom,
but remember that this takes a highly advanced sense that life is about
play more than it's about work," he writes. Indeed. Some of what he
wrote is tougher to digest, though, requires some mulling over.
An incident on Wednesday night made me keenly aware of how differently I
regard men and women. The idea of a gay man out cruising young homeless
guys doesn't strike me as anything at all strange or, especially after
hearing some of the Lads talk, unusual. A woman out doing it ... well,
that does raise my eyebrow, so to speak. One came to the cloisters,
walked around looking at people sleeping. I thought she was searching for
one particular person. As she passed me she said, "good evening." I
looked up from my book and returned the greeting. She was probably in her
forties, not in the least attractive although she acted as if she used
Dietrich or Swanson as her role models. I wasn't impressed, certainly not
interested, and when she made to settle down for a chat, told her I was
busy reading. "Don't you want to have a little fun?" she asked. I
assured her I wanted only to be left alone with my book. She flew into a
rage, called me a "sewer rat" and worse. "Disappear!" I said as strongly
as I could, well matching her fury if not surpassing it. That stopped her
but she didn't move, so I repeated it. She scurried off, left the
cloisters altogether, muttering about "sewer rats".
Life is, indeed, strange.
Play. Well, now, do we play the Mall Game or not? Does having empty
pockets make a difference? A question to be answered on the twelfth day
of August ...
When I woke on Thursday morning, it seemed the right time to wake up but
it was as dark as the middle of the night. I looked at my watch, checked
again to be sure it had said six o'clock. There were such dense, dark
clouds over Manoa that all signs of the coming dawn were blocked. Then a
cloud parked in Manoa. Not over it, in it. It was rather gothic
and romantic but very damp.
That played the decisive role in the debate over whether or not to play
the Mall Game. There were two voices of intuition in active conversation.
One said it just didn't feel like a lucky day, the other kept urging me
not to return to campus every time I considered it. A look in the
direction of Manoa Valley revealed nothing but a gray blur with the
silhouettes of the mountains barely visible, making it none too difficult
to listen to the second voice. And, of course, once it was a matter of
only three more quarters for a nightcap, the second voice won. But the
first voice hadn't been wrong, either. It was not a very lucky day.
My main purpose in playing, though, was not to win but more to carefully
observe my own game play and that of others. Bla was hunting with a
hectic intensity quite unlike him; I wondered if perhaps he was among the
latest group of people to be denied further welfare checks. Then, when he
vanished in the afternoon, I thought perhaps his new strategy was to get
as much as he could in the morning and then abandon the field to the
Whore. Without Bla's determined hunting and Charlie Chan happening to
walk past just as a Japanese couple abandoned their stroller, acquiring
that nightcap financing would have taken much less time.
I realized that most of my own finds in the hunt came from following a
"hunch" about which way to walk and that those hunches were most accurate
when I was letting a mantra dominate my thinking, probably because active
cogitating about other stuff wasn't distracting the inner atmosphere or
questioning which direction to take. Two strollers turned up in places
I'd never found them before, both well off my normal hunting circuit.
The Whore didn't arrive until early afternoon and he was still
concentrating on strollers. Considering how many of the corrals were
almost empty, I couldn't blame him, but I couldn't do as he did and just
sit waiting near the bus stop where they are sometimes abandoned. That's
far too boring a hunt.
The Whore finally got rid of that purse! Now he wears a belt pouch,
twisted so it hangs by his side. Even when he left his stalking grounds,
he spent more time yakking with people than actively hunting, but there
wasn't much to hunt anyway. Like I said, not a lucky day.
I decided I might as well stay around for the scheduled concert by the UH
Band, see what the musical talent looked like for the new year.
Considering how large a band it is, I was surprised to see only one young
man I recognized from campus. Large and most excellent; they did a
splendid medley of Gershwin tunes which sent a chill up my spine and
brought a tear to the eye. There's a someone that I'm longing to see,
I hope that he turns out to be ...
I was tired by then, my feet were tired, my left ankle hurt and my right
knee kept doing a strange routine which felt like it wasn't quite going to
complete a bend without locking in place. Out of practice or time to
become a gardener instead of a hunter? Thoughts of Candide, again.
Time, certainly, to face the fact that if I am not actively enjoying the
Game, I should definitely not play it for the reward sake alone.
The day after I wrote about the mantra-stilled mind allowing intuition to
better function, the daily "Merging with Siva" lessons moved into a series
on just that subject. Hmmm ...
Friday and Saturday mornings and much of Sunday were spent on campus,
working on the Cave, checking links, changing addresses and trimming the
deadwood. Albert Hoffman's "LSD: My Problem Child" appears and disappears
with almost cyclic regularity; I shall have to search to see if it has a
new life somewhere else. The owners of "paranoia.com" lived up to the
domain name, took down the site and left a message saying one would have
to use search machines to find out where it went. In that case, I won't
bother. With the hundreds of thousands of web sites out there, it's
colossal egotism to think anyone will care enough about yours to spend
time hunting it down. I have the same sentiment regarding some local
politicans whose sites are no longer at their original addresses, with no
pointers to new ones.
Bla continues his routine of fervent morning hunting, disappearing in the
afternoon and not returning until mid-evening. I'm sure he was grateful
for my absence in the mornings. The Whore's obsession with strollers went
so far that on Saturday he spent quite some time sitting right on a
return-corral box. It gave me even more pleasure than usual to find a
stroller and return it to that box. It was the nearest return point, but
okay, I admit, I might have wheeled it there anyway. Rivals always add a
little spice to a game.
As usual, he got involved in watching Saturday's entertainment. Most
fortunate. As I walked past that box, I could see a quarter in the slot,
bent down to get it and discovered it was a dollar's worth of quarters,
not just one. A man I hadn't noticed before asked, "did you find a
quarter?" "No," I said, "four of them." He said he'd been away (and from
his tone and the rest of what he said, I'd guess "away" was prison), was
surprised to find the hunt for quarters going on at the mall. He added
that he had always used the airport for the hunt, so I told him they were
not giving back the quarters anymore there. It turns out that he knows
the Whore, so I found out his real name. Didn't surprise me, I've never
known anyone with that name I much liked. The Whore primarily uses his
quarters for cigarettes. So his basic minimum daily target is almost
twice mine, poor fellow. Silly fellow, rather ... too finicky to smoke
those lengthy Japanese-left butts.
When I started the Robert Jordan epic I thought I'd be able to sell the
first four volumes back to Rainbow and buy the next, but they didn't hold
up that well in the backpack and all the covers came loose at the spine.
So much for that plan. Saturday could have been a two-Colt day, but I
only bought the nightcap and finished the fourth volume. Jordan really
made it difficult on himself with that one, splitting the group up and
dealing with each separate adventure one after another in segments. There
were times when I found it rather annoying, wanting to get on with the
story (often quite gripping) of one but being switched back to another.
And then wanting to stay with that one, but being switched again. It
worked, but was perhaps a little overly ambitious. I'm itching to get my
hands on the fifth volume.
I didn't get to the mall until early evening on Sunday, wasn't especially
concerned about the hunt for quarters since I still had nightcap financing
in hand. Competition, as always on Sundays, was ferocious and I was glad
I hadn't bothered to go down there earlier, soon told myself to forget
about quarters, just battle for tobacco. But as it happened, I ended up
with $2.50, all from strollers left abandoned in out-of-the-way
Perhaps the Whore has sensed that I have "a nose" for strollers, because
he gave up his watch outside the supermarket at one point and followed
me upstairs. Silly man dashed ahead of me, as though I were headed to
some target and he had to get there first. I slowed down even more. And
yep, after he had dashed by and I meandered on, someone abandoned a
stroller just as I reached that corner. What a shame he didn't see me
"Intuition day by day occurs spasmodically, but it does occur. And
systematically one can gear his observation of his own intuitional
faculties and find out exactly when these intuitive functions occur
Interim Week. Although few students are on campus, the grounds keepers
and cleaning army are in hyperactive motion, leaving few places quiet and
undisturbed. Even the secluded grove was invaded by machinery doing
something at one end ("something" because it isn't yet clear just what
they are doing). But the weather continued to be unpleasant as well, so
there was little reason to remain on campus. After working for awhile on
the Cave, I left for the mall.
Nightcap financing already in hand, a cart waiting at the bus stop when I
arrived, a stroller someone hadn't fully pushed into the corral, a fine
start. So fine I broke the precedent of recent days and had a lunchtime
brew at the beach park while resuming my reading of Asian history. (I had
left off at the point of first major direct contact with the West, as the
Portuguese rounded Africa and reached India.)
Brew finished, I returned to the mall and ran into Rocky for the first
time this month. "Where's the brewski?" he asked. I didn't tell him I'd
just drunk it, but did tell him I'd tried to find him during the first
week of the month, reminded him that's the only time I'm not broke. I
told him about the Sleeptalker's message from Waianae. "You miss him?" he
asked, with a grin. "Yes," I said, and he laughed. "He'll be back soon."
"Not too soon, I hope. It would be good to see him for a day but
otherwise I hope it works out for him out there." "He'll be back soon,"
Rocky repeated, giving me the feeling he's been through this before, and
that wouldn't at all surprise me.
I went over to get a plate from the Krishna truck. They don't have much
of a crowd on Mondays now, because an hour later the River of Life Mission
also serves a free meal in the park and most people seem to be waiting for
that. Despite having to sit through a sermon beforehand, the presence of
meat on the menu gives them the edge. The Old Guitarist told me later it
had been a fine meal, with especially good chicken. The Krishna offering
was the worst I've yet seen from them, looked as if they had dumped four
or five different leftovers into one pot, stirred and dished it out.
Spaghetti and rice don't make a very good combo, methinks. Not
complaining, mind you, just commenting.
There were very few shopping carts in use and not many strollers, but I
did manage to get the nightcap money plus an extra fifty cents, mainly
because the Whore sat yakking for hours. The weather looked dire, dense
threatening dark clouds rolling in from the mountains, so I left soon
after sunset, got the brew, and arrived at the cloisters much earlier than
usual. Excellent timing, since it started to rain shortly after I'd
Dreams have been chaotic recently. Although I'm sure that's not really
the case, it feels as if every sleeping moment has been filled with a
kaleidoscope of dream events, all so jumbled and helter skelter few
details are remembered when I wake. Maybe spending so much time during
the day with the mind mantra-leashed encourages it to break loose and go
wild in the dreamworld.
If not enjoying the play, it isn't worth doing it for the reward, I said.
But I also noted that Interim Week isn't a very smart time to lose
interest in the Mall Game, not unless I'm willing to give up smoking and
eating. Nonetheless, I had no inclination to play on Tuesday of Interim
Week, the weather was ... at last ... very pleasant and the choice between
sitting in the secluded grove and reading versus slogging around the hot
and steamy mall was an easy one, never mind the beer. Or lack of it.
That "something" at one end of the grove turned out to be clearing the
ground under the largest tree and spreading a thick mulch of chopped wood
and stuff under it, a project which had been completed on Monday so grove
life had returned to its usual quiet state. There had apparently been
some kind of reception for incoming students and a box with about a
quarter of an apple pie had been left on a bench along with a dozen or so
empty cups. The pie made a decent lunch, with a cup of tea, and the birds
enjoyed the crumbs of the crust so much it occasioned a few squabbles and
sent some feathers flying.
Finally, in the late afternoon, I yielded to the disgruntlement over the
severe rationing of tobacco which had gone on all day and set out for the
mall and a snipe hunt. Too many hunters, too little game, whether snipes
or quarters or food. There's a fellow who has stayed at the cloisters for
months but I've never seen him elsewhere. Now he has suddenly discovered
shopping carts, shows up in the early evening and rushes around the mall
like a whirlwind looking for quarters. I've only seen him score one cart,
for all his hyperactivity. The Whore, of course, was stationed right
outside the supermarket for much of the evening, and Bla returned to the
scene around seven o'clock and started his extensive wandering search.
And, of course, there were the usual scattered amateurs, most of whom are
more of a nuisance in the snipe hunt than the one for quarters.
I was walking past the stroller corral which is usually a fine source of
quarters when some people returned a stroller and got no refund. Uh-oh,
it had run out of quarters again. I warned Bla when I saw him, but let
the Whore find out for himself, as I'm sure he did eventually. I did find
a dollar in quarters from the other two corrals, but didn't return any
carts or strollers myself, spent much of the evening just watching the
crowds at the bus stop where there was a cool breeze and a view of the
So for the first time in August, the nightcap was only a 16oz Budweiser, a
meagre treat to accompany the chapter on the beginnings of British rule in
India. Memories of that beautiful Golden Eagle brew which was such a
treat on the first trip to India, such a regular nightcap during the
And in Wednesday's mailbox:
Subject: Nandinatha Sutra Verse 126
All strong and intoxicating distilled alcohols are forbidden to
ardent souls. They may moderately partake of the family of
wines and beers, including honey mead. These are wholesome when
Ain't it the truth ...
Friday was a State holiday, Admission Day, and everything was closed at
the University. I went to the beach, had a shower and washed some
clothes, then sat reading while they dried. Yes, a melon fell from
heaven, and I had gone immediately to Rainbow Books to get The Fires of
Heaven, the fifth volume in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time epic.
In the late morning, I joined Helen R to see the movie, "Trick", at the
Dole multiplex. A sweet little film and John Paul Pitoc is so adorable I
could have sat through the film twice just to keep on watching
We got on a bus to Waikiki, having first waited at Dole and then, the
first bus arriving being packed to the doors, walked over to Dillingham
to get one there. Again, the first bus that arrived was crowded so we
waited for the second one. At the next stop, the Sleeptalker entered the
bus. "The Sleeptalker," I said to Helen, and went up the aisle to meet
him. He had been waiting for a bus to Waianae but one had passed by
without stopping, so he was going in the opposite direction to get one at
Ala Moana. Given all those could-have-beens, the odds on us meeting on
that particular bus must have been astronomic.
He looked fresh, rested and even though his hair was shorter than its
best, as adorable in his way as John Paul. No matter what I may tell
myself in the interim, all it takes is one of his smiles and I have to
say, yep, still in love with the guy and, after a year of knowing him, I
guess I might just as well reconcile myself to his permanent residence in
the number one slot.
Things are going well in Waianae, he said, and he is living in his
mother's house. She has been traveling a lot, so he has to take care of
the animals and plants. We talked about Seventh Circle and he sighed
deeply when I said the University would be getting back to normal on
Monday, with the libraries open until eleven at night. He said he was
going to try and get a week off soon, spend it in town. I told him what
Rocky had said about him being back soon, and he laughed. "Maybe," he
Helen and I were changing buses at the State Library, so I rubbed my hand
through The Sleeptalker's hair and told him to take care of himself. He
So we went on to Waikiki and saw "Mickey Blue Eyes" which was
disappointing. I'd been wanting to see Hugh Grant, since I missed
"Notting Hill". His accent and mannerisms are so like my last English
lover it stirs a lot of memories, but I don't find him all that desireable
and the film was a mess. It would have been better to see "Trick" twice,
but then I would've missed the Sleeptalker.
I clipped out a photo of
John Paul Pitoc from the newspaper and keep it in
Fact is, he and The Sleeptalker look very much alike, even if The
Sleeptalker has a much thinner muscular body.
I must get a photo of that young man, the Sleeptalker, preferably
Maybe Monday will be my good news day ...
I had begun to wonder if my luck had run out. Was I doomed to go on
meeting slim, brown local lads who are delicious flirts but adhere
strictly to a "you can look but you cannot touch" code of honor?
No, I just had to wait until Dame Fortune decided it was time for a
different such lad to cross my path, or me to cross his.
Monday was the first day back at school at the University of Hawai'i, a
day I know from experience is rather hectic, lots of lost newbies
wandering around, the whole place a bit like a disturbed anthill. So I
had decided I would spend the day away after my early morning hot beverage
and reading, a quick check of email.
The teabag supply ran out, a week early, alas. I should have bought some,
but got so engrossed with my reading on the weekend, I spent the money on
a pack of cigarettes instead of going to the mall long enough to collect
some snipes. Buying cigarettes is a really rare event for me, further
evidence how engrossed I am in Robert Jordan's wonderful universe, further
evidence what a devoted disciple I am of Shinran Shonin and his edict to
live every day as if it were your last.
Fortunately, the Angel of the Leftovers supplied four packets of instant
coffee, so I wasn't completely without a morning beverage.
When I got to the mall on Monday morning, though, I went first to use a
McD's certificate for senior coffee since that Angel packet had been
decaff. As the morning went on, I thought several times I should go over
to the park and have a shower, wash a tee shirt, but kept putting it off.
Procrastination is sometimes a virtue.
When I finally did go over to the shower house and walked in, I heard a
shower running and saw a small bag on the bench outside the shower room.
Oh well, at least it was small enough to suggest it was not a nomad, and
for that I was grateful. When I got to the room, I suppose my jaw must
have dropped, metaphorically if not physically. His back turned to me,
the young man could certainly have been the Sleeptalker. If I can't have
him, what better than someone with the same body, and the young man in the
shower could have been his identical twin, even with a similar haircut,
"frosted" with bleached blonde at the ends. When he turned around, I saw
that he was probably a few years younger than the Sleeptalker and no less
Oh well, another one. At least it's likely to make for an interesting
view while showering, I thought.
A flirt, too. While I was busy washing the tee shirt, he showered,
occasionally brushing the interesting bits (and quite ample "bits" they
were) with his elbow, never looking directly at me but frequently turning
so he faced me. I finished with the tee shirt, and he got a little more
bold, washing it sufficiently to bring it to a half-aroused condition. I
looked at it, looked in his eyes which by then returned my look, and
smiled, walked over to help him with the washing.
No objection. He returned the favor.
I nudged him under the shower to rinse it off, and knelt to give him my
best. The lad was ready and primed, I guess, because not much more than
two minutes later, he gave a tender gasp and exploded. Sweet!
I continued my shower while he went to dry off, pulled on his long
brown shorts, picked up his bag and smiled, said "thank you", as he left.
It was one of those very, very rare times in this almost-two years when I
wished I had an apartment, a nice large bed, and a telephone. I certainly
would have given him the number and urged him to call me.
Local boys, indeed, no ka oi.
In a dream, leaving a house on an errand, getting the wrong bus, feeling
annoyed because I was going so far out of my way and wasn't sure how to
get back. Then suddenly I realized, "This is a dream. Just imagine the
room in the house you left and be there." It worked. Thank you, Robert
I haven't adjusted to the return of campus life to "normal". In fact, I
haven't even tried to adjust to it, have fled the place after the quiet
time just before and after the dawn, not returning until after sunset.
I'll let all these youngsters adjust and settle down a bit first before I
try to do it myself. It will soon be time for the "vacation" from the
Mall Game, the holiday provided by the Fabled Pension Check, and I'll
think about adjusting then.
Actually, I had planned to return to campus on Tuesday for a lunchtime gig
with Del Beazley but I was still short two quarters for a beer so decided
to continue the hunt and forget about the music. I had them by one
o'clock, bought a Colt and sat in the park, just watching and thinking,
not even getting the book out of my backpack.
After suggesting and hinting, Jordan finally said outright that the Aes
Sedai, the women who can touch and use the "One Power" (akin concept
to The Force), consider there are infinite realities simultaneously
existing and that the whole thing makes up a Pattern.
One of his three heroes steps through a magic portal, expecting it to have
the power to grant three wishes, as another had been able to answer three
Storybook heroes so often screw up these things and Matrim was no
exception. I often wondered why someone releasing a Genie and being
granted three wishes didn't make the third wish one for three more wishes,
but never read of anyone trying it. Usually they waste at least two of
the wishes with nonsense they hadn't meant to express as a wish.
Matrim had suffered lapses in memory after contact with an artifact
tainted by the Dark Power, so he wished to have his memory restored. It
was. His memory from every life he had lived. Ugh, what a curse. Of
course, as with our limited set of memories, for the most part only the
very recent ones are strong and vivid. With the exception of rare or
special events, the further back in our past we look, the fainter the
memories. So it was in his case, but still, that's a lot of memory to
regain at one time and if one looks at the infinite realities concept in
combination with the total memory, the man would remember everything that
happened to him in every weave of the pattern and all its variations.
Good thing he was a relatively simple country blacksmith's apprentice
before setting out on this grand epic. Instead of being just one element
in this massive work, the story of Matrim and his memory could certainly
have been a book all on its own.
I think Jordan realized the deep water he was getting into with infinite
realities, though, and didn't pursue it, or hasn't yet.
Time has broken into a gallop, Goethe wrote. If it seemed to be galloping
then, I suppose it must be warp speed now. The eve of a Full Moon again,
already. Time to watch for the Fabled Pension Check again, already. The
last four months of the 1900's almost beginning, already.
Time has broken into a gallop.
But as if to remind me how subjective our sense of time is, it slowed to a
stately walk on Wednesday, a long, slow day. Cainer had said: "Your
finances need to be improved and, if you put in a little effort over the
next few days, you'll accomplish most of what's needed." But if he's
going to hand out such advice, he should do it on a day when "the stars
say" it's a lucky day. Well, he does say "next few days", so maybe the
luck will improve.
On the other hand, I suppose $2.85 did accomplish most of what was needed,
a bottle of Colt for a nightcap. Another couple of dollars would have
added some teabags, but let's not be greedy.
I had been thinking the Fabled Pension Check might arrive for the weekend.
Not very likely, though. Maybe that's another reason time seemed to slow
I was sitting on a planter ledge watching the boys pass by. An older
lady, probably local-born, wearing an eccentric straw hat, strolled over
to me, Coke can in hand. "Would you like this Coke?" she asked. I
said "sure", even though I didn't particularly want it, just liked her and
didn't want to decline. She said she didn't know why she'd bought it
because she didn't really want it, giving me a big grin which showed two
remaining teeth, one upper and the other lower. She sat for awhile and
talked steadily. I couldn't understand much of what she said and was
grateful she asked no questions until the end, when just before departing,
she asked my name. "Albert," she said, "that's a good name."
Tale 380 seems a little muddled, but that's a reflection of my thinking in
the afternoon at the park. I thought at the time I should have a little
tape recorder so I could make a verbal note of the thoughts to be written
about later, but quickly said no, yikes, I don't want to sit and
transcribe tapes and the Tales are already lengthy enough as it is.
I think I got it. Steppenwolf didn't get kicked out of the Magick
Theatre. He never left it. Price of admission: your mind. And no exit,
as Sarte said.
In a dream. I had finished drinks from a tall, slim bottle of yellow
liquid. Don't know what it was, not beer, not Pernod. Very, very
pleasant, though. I asked the bartender, "do any of you know how to make
a Mind Eraser?"
Alas, I woke up before getting an answer, or the drink. Interesting
I fell into unconsciousness so often on Full Moon Thursday. Not that I
passed out cold, although I might as well have. The Artlines shop at the
mall put a very large, beautiful bronze statue of Ganesh in the window.
It's one of the finest I've ever seen. In the London days, I would have
owned it even if I'd had to get the Boss to finance the purchase by
persuading him the business would prosper if we had that in the office. I
could have done it, too, and if we'd both believed it, probably would have
Twice I walked past that beautiful image without being aware of it. Even
worse, the second time I had told myself as I headed in that direction
that I would not repeat the earlier impoliteness, but I did. The minute I
realized I had done it, I marched myself back there and stood in front of
the window carefully examining the image and its many occult details, gave
a more obvious bow than my usual subtle nod while passing it, and at least
didn't pass it again without that nod.
Part of the problem was reeling through the thoughts of implications of
infinite realities. Infinite, eh? Well, then, if I can imagine a
reality, it must exist. Let us say there is a reality exactly like this
one ... except, in that one an elegant black wallet is on the pavement
between two cars in a parking lot. It contains a sheaf of high
denomination Yen notes. I find it. Having imagined it, it exists, so the
only task is discovering how to step from this reality to that
Of course, if I now find such a wallet (not at all impossible in this
place), I'll probably freak out and try to extend the idea to bigger and
bolder goals. Burn myself out or go insane, like the folk in Jordan's
universe who have an innate ability to channel the One Power but no
guidance or training.
Perhaps it's as well I don't find that wallet ...
I did find $3.39, a slight improvement over Wednesday. I probably could
have carried on until I had four dollars but I was weary of the mall,
wanted to return to campus to watch the Fool Moon rise, then get my
nightcap and go to the cloisters to spend some time in Jordan's universe
before entering the one of my own dreams.
As if there's really any difference between them ... or "waking" life.
All Magick Theatre. A mirage in the desert.
Pussycat, pussycat, where have you been?
I've been to London to see the Queen.
In my dreams. Her Majesty had consented to an interview about a
mysterious distant relative named Crawford (whose name, I learned to my
embarrassment was pronounced "cray-ford"). Everyone thought he was dead,
but she told me he was still alive and wished to remain hidden. He was
the richest man in the world, she said. I didn't mention Bill Gates.
As we walked through the halls of the private area of Buckingham Palace, I
noticed she had many artifacts in glass cases which were clearly from
Jordan's universe. Queen Elizabeth an Aes Sedai ...
No sooner did I tell a reader that Jordan's reality was not having much
direct influence on my dreams, than it began to do just that, each and
Earlier, at the mall, I'd muttered, "For crying out loud, give me two
quarters and I'm quitting this silly game." Perhaps I should get cross
more often, because four quarters showed up in rapid succession. Quitting
was an empty threat, though. There are meetings at the cloisters on
Friday evenings until almost ten o'clock and the first "All-Nighter" of
the year was being held on campus, music and dancing at various places
until three in the morning. No place to run, no place to hide.
It had been an unusually sparse Friday at the mall, despite Bla's
absence in the afternoon and the Whore starting much later than usual.
Fortunately, that silly television show, "Hawaii Stars", was being taped
in the evening and that captured the Whore's attention, allowing me to get
those four quarters and end up with nightcap financing plus $1.35 to start
the next day's hunt. Bring on the Fabled Pension Check, please, I'm ready
for a vacation.
I did manage to score two packs of Virginia Slims. Yes, that
mystery continues, although it has become a more difficult puzzle since
they aren't always in the same spot. I had begun to think the mystery had
finally ended, but on Monday spotted three barely smoked VS butts under a
bench and, sure enough, the pack was in the nearest trash bin. On
Tuesday, it was oddly in a trash bin in the lower parking lot, spotted
again only because of a long VS butt in the ashtray. Whoever that person
is, she (probably) is both crazy and has no shortage of cash. I already
had two packs tucked away when I found the two on Friday.
I saw Myra and Rocky, told Rocky about seeing the Sleeptalker. And I
heard someone say, "hey!" as they passed me, turned around and it was
Lopaka Colon. I was amazed I had walked right by him without noticing.
Such a sweet young man, he is, so soft-spoken and polite. He's sitting
this semester out, he said. If I were in a band as successful as Pure
Heart, I'm not sure I'd bother going back to school at all.
As I was going down the escalator at one point, a deliciously cute young
fellow was upward bound. Without meaning to say it aloud, I said "cute!"
after he'd passed. A young lady several steps behind him said, "he is,
isn't he, but he's a brat". I turned to look at her as she passed and she
smiled, said, "he's my brother". Later I saw him again, alone, and he
gave me a big grin, so I guess he must have overheard the exchange.
The lack of game in the field and the always annoying presence of a few
regulars at the mall, Charlie Chan and the filthy fat young man who
constantly twists his grubby hair between his fingers especially, got me
so irked at one point I even growled at the mantra machine. "Oh, shut up,
let's have the sound of silence."
Fat chance. Stop the mantra and get well mocked when the internal jukebox
starts up with "Silent Night". Joker.
The kindness of Dame Fortune combined with being immersed in the ways of
Jordan's universe leads to amusing and sometimes almost scarey incidents.
On Saturday morning the computer lab doesn't open until eight and I was
lamenting the fact I'd have to wait that long before heading to the mall
and the much-desired cup of coffee. I went into the kiosk of vending
machines and there was a cup of hot, black coffee sitting on the counter.
I suppose someone had pushed the wrong button, getting black coffee when
they wanted cream and sugar. No, I thought, I did NOT channel the One
Power to get myself a cup of coffee (although I'm sure I would if I knew
how). Or did I?
In the late afternoon at the mall, I thought it would be really good to
have an ice cream cone from McD's, squashed the notion, reminding myself
the McD's certificates are for early morning only when food is often
impossible to find. Just a few minutes later I saw one of the little game
prize stamps on the sidewalk. A free ice cream cone. The Wheel weaves
Ryan wrote in his journal: "Fellow escribitionist and urban nomad
extraordinaire Panther was a centerpiece of the discussion. Like myself
when I first visited his site a couple of years ago, Burt was amazed at
the insight it gave into a stranger's life; how it opened his eyes to a
completely foreign perspective, another lifestyle."
I told Ryan "escribitionist" sounds terribly dirty, but I like it. And
that's what I like about online journal-keepers, too, that view into
another life, watching it unfold from day to day. No novel or even a
formal autobiography can provide quite the same intimate sharing. Where
else could I experience vicariously a young man's thoughts and feelings as
he balances a continuing effort to get a "college education", the struggle
to make some money, and the joy of becoming a father?
Ryan came to mind immediately at one point on Saturday. I walk through
the mall very slowly, always yielding if someone wants to occupy space I
had intended to with my next step. I'm especially cautious near the
Disney and Warner Bros. stores, Thinker Toys and Jungle Fun. The sight of
those stores often sends little children careening in their direction with
no thought of anything that might be in their way, including an old man
slowly strolling by. I was caught unaware, though, still somewhat stunned
by the change in the Artlines shop window, and a little fellow, perhaps
five or six, made a dash for Jungle Fun and crashed right into me. I
automatically reached down to steady him and keep him from falling, one
hand on his shoulder and the other on his chest. His mother was weaving a
ball of confusion, trying to scold him and apologize to me at the same
time. I assured her it didn't matter at all, not to worry. I was
so touched by the sensation of that tender young body, that little
skeleton I could feel under its skin, the feeling that this must be part
of the joy of fatherhood, sensing how easy it would be for a man to yield
his own life to protect such a treasure. Yes, Ryan is a fortunate
Another fortunate person bought that beautiful image of Ganesh. They have
put a smaller one in the window, to one side, but the centerpiece now is a
large bronze of the dancing Siva in a ring of fire. I was reminded of
Kathmandu. If one were to nod in respect to every image of a deity in
that town, it would be like turning into one of those bobbling-headed
dolls. At the mall, a nod to Siva and Ganesh, a nod to the happy stone
Buddha, a nod to the three bronze Buddhas. I love it, keeps me on my
toes, so to speak, keeps me awake. Or sharply awakens me when I forget.
There is something addictive in tea aside from caffeine. I get plenty of
caffeine, probably more than I should. Gloria Jean's coffee shop at the
mall sells really large iced coffee drinks in many variations. I like
them all except the mocha mint version which is too heavily minty for my
taste. Many people seem to buy the largest size, abandon half or more
of them. Sometimes I fill my (20 oz) flask four or five times a day with
But that doesn't stop the yearning for tea, and when a little melon fell
from heaven, I went immediately to buy teabags. Ah, the joy of returning
to my pre-dawn routine of sipping tea and reading. Once again I vow not
to let my teabag supply run out.
I didn't go to the mall on Sunday at all, after having spent little time
there on Saturday. With four packs of Virginia Slims and teabags tucked
in my backpack, there was no need to play the Mall Game and I could just
relax and enjoy wandering in Jordan's universe.
No Virginia Slims on Monday, no sign she had been around. Perhaps she had
the day off. But I did have $4.50 in hand before noon, quite
extraordinary. Bla seemed somewhat distracted, hadn't even noticed one
stroller wasn't properly pushed into the corral. When I corrected
the mistake, a dollar in quarters was refunded instead of the usual fifty
cents. There was an odd shortage of tobacco, though. The current crop of
Japanese tourists must be stressed out for some reason, all smoking their
cigarettes almost down to the filters. I had to postpone having a
celebratory lunchtime brew until I had enough tobacco in hand, since my VS
stash had been used up on the weekend.
Then I went to check mail and the Fabled Pension Check was there. Off to
Waikiki to cash it, back briefly to the mall where the continuing tobacco
shortage had the hunters swarming. Phooey on this, I grumbled,
I'm gonna buy a pack of cigarettes.
I don't mind the tea addiction at all, but it would be nice to get rid of
that damned tobacco ball-and-chain.
A reader wrote:
Infinite realities - you cannot comprehend them, only fragments.
Turing proved that, in order to enumerate the states of an n-state
machine, you must have an (n+1)-state machine. Hence, with a
finite mind capable of n states, you can only enumerate (comprehend)
n-1 states. By definition of finiteness, n is less than infinity.
n = "nonsense"?
Surely not, nonsense is definitely eternal and infinite.
When I was growing up, no blockheaded fool had yet put forth the idea that
the Universe was finite. It was infinite. As a child, I would lay in bed
at night and try to imagine how I could follow the universe out into its
limitless infinity. When I got a bit older, I still tried to do it, and
gave myself a headache.
Well, of course you can't "comprehend". We can't even comprehend the
tiny, tiny view we have, day-to-day, of the one we try to live in.
I overdid it on Thursday. 160 ounces of malt liquor, even spread through
the day and a long evening of reading, makes for a vile hangover.
A week on campus, rarely going to the mall, the "vacation" I'd been
looking forward to. Walking uphill just before dawn, brewing a cup of
tea, reading the increasingly annoying campus newspaper, checking mail,
looking in on the squabbles of Usenet, then settling down in the secluded
grove to continue with Jordan's seventh volume. Every day the same and
every day different in a hundred little ways.
None more so than Wednesday evening. I was sitting at the cloisters,
finishing off a bottle of Colt and reading, saw someone approach my little
corner, looked up. The Cherub. It's been a long time. I don't
understand that young man at all, hardly know what to say about him. But
I was happy his long withdrawal had come to an end, or that he had taken a
break from it, whichever it turns out to be. I don't seek the Young
Fool, the Young Fool seeks me. But the Cherub's no fool, not really,
except perhaps in seeking my company again when he had broken free for so
The Korean shop next to Rainbow now has Ecstacy cigarettes. "Ingredients:
Damiana, Wild Lettuce, Catnip, Passion Flower, Love and Light". Several
months ago I found a pack of them, thought them interesting enough to buy
one this time. Strange smokes. I couldn't possibly smoke as many of them
as I can tobacco, lighting one up too often makes me dizzy. Smoking them
also flavors my thinking, my awareness of being, and remains for a long
time, almost like the lingering smell of incense in a church. I'm not
really sure I like it but, yes, certainly find it interesting.
My biggest mistake on Thursday was eating a bowl of chili. Marriott
I'm often amused by the roommate-wanted announcements seen on campus
bulletin boards, by the conditions and restrictions. No pets, no smoking,
no drugs, no alcohol are routine, but one spotted on Saturday morning was
a new one on me. "No candles or incense."
Friday morning was one of those times, familiar to anyone who indulges in
that inferior drug, alcohol, when a voice in my head kept moaning, "I'll
never drink again." I'm not sure why four bottles of Colt (and one
regular-sized bottle of Bud) had packed such a whallop. The small amount
of food consumed along with them probably had something to do with it (and
that horrendous bowl of chili from Manoa Garden hardly counts as "food").
For whatever reason, I felt awful until early afternoon when I said, look
there's only one remedy for this condition. A bottle of beer.
I had been cheered-up a little in the morning by the Tales being mentioned
in Burt Lum's Bytemarks column in the Advertiser, especially by
his "the infamous Albert the Panther" tag. Look, ma, I'm infamous! (Ma,
were she around to read the Tales would no doubt easily find a string of
It's good to see public diary-keepers getting some attention, though.
We're a brave (or stupid) (or both) bunch.
I finished the seventh volume of Robert Jordan's epic with that early
afternoon beer and, later, having nothing to read, had a look at the NY
Times crossword puzzle on the back of the page with Lum's column. During
my last stay in Manhattan it was a weekly ritual, picking up the Sunday
Times late on Saturday night and setting to work on the huge Sunday
crossword puzzle. Once I discovered Hesse's Magister Ludi, it was
no longer possible to look at a crossword puzzle or at someone working on
one without thinking of his sneer, but it was a highlight of the week
during those Manhattan years. I am sadly out of practice, I fear, had an
awful time with this relatively puny daily version and didn't manage to
fill in more than a quarter of the squares.
So far I haven't been able to find volume eight. I went to the mall in
the evening to see if the bookstore there had it. They didn't, and a
planned walk down to Border's was cancelled when it started pouring rain.
Bla was on the hunt but the Whore wasn't there, most unusual. I didn't
bother, but picked up three quarters returning carts which were in my
snipe-hunting path. No Virginia Slims, alas. No Path of Daggers,
deep alas. And someone bought the largest bronze Buddha.
The best thing about the beginning of the football season at UH was the
huge bonfire on campus the night before the first game. I haven't seen a
fire that large since leaving the land of Guy Fawkes and wish they had
allowed it to burn longer.
The worst thing about the beginning of the football season at UH was the
first game. Ouch.
After debating for awhile about where to watch the game, I settled on the
Cove Bar at Ala Moana where there were some students gathered to
watch, along with a few Japanese tourists who seemed puzzled over not only
the game, but the rather rowdy attention it was getting. Enjoyable
company, crazy to have spent so much money on three-dollar beers.
Despite my Unauthorized Biographer on Usenet's frequently repeated
nonsense about eating from trashcans, it is in fact not necessary. Some
nomads do it, of course. The dirty fat young man who twists his hair is a
walking garbage disposal unit, will stand and rummage through a trashcan,
eating everything he can find while standing over the can. Gross, but to
each his own method. But there are so many people who kindly leave
leftover food on planter ledges or benches that actually digging in the
trash isn't necessary if you're willing to walk around. One such bag,
from Zippy's, was left on a planter ledge shortly before the football game
was to begin. I lifted it to test the weight, was promisingly heavy, so I
took it. A man I hadn't noticed came up from behind me and asked, "what
did you find?" "Looks like some food," I said, and he handed me a five
dollar bill. The kindness of strangers ...
I suppose he wouldn't have given it to me if he'd known I was about to
head to the bar and drink Budweiser while watching a football game.
Via those miraculous little DVD discs, I got to see Kubrick's Clockwork
Orange on Sunday night. Fifteen years or so since I last saw it, and
it's still as grimly shocking as ever.
I was thinking about it on Monday evening while enjoying my nightcap,
taking a break from my resumed reading of The History of Asia,
grimly shocking enough, too, since it has reached this century. And I was
making a list in my head of the ten films I'd most like to see again.
When I made written note of them it expanded into twenty. Ten is just not
This isn't the same as a list of my twenty all-time favorites. "Wizard of
Oz" would still have the number one slot on such a list, but I've seen it
recently enough that it doesn't appear on this one.
Juliet of the Spirits
Death in Venice
Rebel Without a Cause
Meet Joe Black
Last Year at
Cat on a Hot Tin
Desire Under the Elms
The Boy Friend
La Dolce Vita
Jules et Jim
A Night at the Opera
Gods and Monsters
An eccentric list. Hmmm, there's a new tag to aspire to: infamous
The Labor Day weekend came and went. Beer and football on Saturday night
(how extraordinarily American of me), hanging out on campus Sunday reading
until "Clockwork Orange" in the evening, hanging out at the mall on Monday
because everything on campus was closed and the beach was too crowded.
I watched the Jerry Lewis Telethon festivities at the mall's stage now and
then. When Na Leo launched their set with the song asking what they will
do with the rest of their life, I grumbled as usual, "keep on singing and
recording saccharine songs like that, no doubt", and fled. I made a brief
visit to the beach to shower, had a lunchtime beer, did the crossword from
a Friday issue of Wall Street Journal (reassuring me that my knack hasn't
totally been lost ... it was difficult, but not anything like the
horrendous NY Times version these days). A routine day, nothing special,
four dollars profit.
Labor Day morning was unique, though. For the first time in these almost
two years of living on Dame Fortune's bounty, I woke up without a crumb of
tobacco to smoke, not even a two-or-three-puff snipe. I'd had two of the
herbal smokes with my nightcap on Sunday, but I can't take those first
thing in the morning. Odd, even through my Army years, I couldn't take an
ordinary cigarette first thing in the morning, either, always waited until
after having breakfast.
When I got to the mall, a pack of Misty cigarettes was waiting, minus one.
Probably a Japanese tourist had bought them, decided she didn't like them
and threw them away. Awhile later an almost full pack of Salems was in
the parking lot, those most likely inadvertently discarded. Dame Fortune
certainly isn't prejudiced against tobacco.
Assinine and absurd as it usually is, Usenet does provide some inspiration
for pondering things. One that I suppose justifies the "infamous" tag is
the question of sex in public places. I thought about that on the
weekend, along with more innocent subjects like movies I'd like to
It surprises me that such activity is more prevalent in Honolulu than in
any other city I've lived in. For homosexuals, this may be partly because
of the scarcity of saunas, steam baths, and other such usual places for
I regret to say I do not participate very often and then only when very
pointedly invited to do so.
Despite allegations to the contrary, sex fun under a toilet stall wall is
not, and never has been, one of my hobbies. Communal showers are another
matter. I'm sure the shower houses at Honolulu's beaches have witnessed
sexual encounters for as long as they have existed. As one local boy told
me, "I don't go body-boarding anymore, it makes me too horny." I can
believe it (even while wishing he'd make an exception one day when I'm at
I'm really surprised, though, by how the largest male "restroom" at the
mall has become such a cruising spot. There definitely are enthusiasts of
the "under the stall wall" variety. One only has to look down and see the
back of the feet of someone kneeling toward the other direction to realize
that. Then there are the ones who simply stand at the urinals for lengthy
times, displaying what they have to offer. There is one man who certainly
has a great deal, one of the largest I've ever seen on a white man, and
who manages to keep it erect for amazingly extended (no pun intended)
times. One day on the weekend, I went in, saw him standing there, and IT
standing there, smiled in admiration, did what I went to do and left. I
had eaten some French fries with ketchup, went back in to wash my hands,
perhaps twenty minutes later, and he was still standing there, same
condition. Admirable, indeed. That's all he apparently wants to do, be
And why not? Not harming anyone. If you don't want to see it, don't
And it's the same all over town. For years, one men's room on the
University campus was so notorious, it even got mentioned in the campus
newspaper. Alas, the missionary types slammed big metal plates over all
the holes in the stall walls. Foolish, I think. Better to have all that
activity concentrated in one location, so young male students who don't
wish to witness or participate in such activity know to use another
For a time, there was even a toilet at the Sheraton Waikiki with a
sizeable hole in the stall wall. I only regret I didn't discover it
sooner and had so little time to enjoy the view before they replaced the
And it's not just gay trash, either. I've no idea what goes on in the
women's toilets (and would just as soon remain ignorant), but even the
hookers have taken to using the new "family" toilets as places to make a
Like I said, never saw the like anywhere else.
The almost elderly Japanese tourist lady asked me a question, entirely in
Japanese, pointing to a brochure also entirely in Japanese. She tried a
technique I have seen Americans use in countries where English isn't
understood, repeating a word over and over as if that will somehow make it
comprehensible. It didn't work, I hadn't the faintest idea what she was
talking about. Finally she said, "Waikiki". Ah! "The bus?" I asked, and
she nodded, repeating one more time the word which I assume means "bus" in
Japanese. I gave her directions with gestures.
Tuesday was one of those odd days when there was absolutely no food to be
found on campus. The Marriott-operated food concessions have started
giving smaller portions? The students this year are all voraciously
hungry? The food has gotten so delicious everyone eats it to the last
crumb? (The latter is about as likely as a snowstorm on July 4th.)
Whatever the reason, there just wasn't anything to eat. S'okay, a fast
day now and then is good for the body, and probably the soul. I had my
nightcap money in pocket, but wasn't about to spend that on food, and I
didn't feel like wandering the mall. I did want some tras ... errrr,
something undemanding and lightweight, to read, so I made a quick trip
downtown to the State Library and selected a couple of paperbacks from
their "honor" section, books you can just take and, if honorable, return.
The one I began first is Kathleen Sinclair's Far Horizons which
turned out to have such a gripping plot that I was awake past midnight
reading it, after joining Helen R. for a delightful musical comedy revue
called "The 1940s Radio Hour" at Manoa
While at the State Library, I checked their Robert Jordan selection, was
pleased to see that three of his early Conan novels have been published
in one volume and shall no doubt acquire it when available in paperback.
I read all of those slightly silly Conan books at one time, so probably
have read those three, too, without knowing who Robert Jordan was. And
another of his novels, originally published under another nom-de-plume has
been reissued with the Jordan nom-de-plume instead, thanks to the success
of the Wheel saga. If they have volume eight of that, it was checked out,
which wouldn't surprise me.
The "Church of Christ", which meets on the lower campus on Sundays, has
the right idea when it comes to recruiting strategy. Two of the cutest
young men I've seen on campus this semester stopped me to encourage my
presence at their Bible study group. I don't care much for their
technique, though, which is to greet you as if you should know them. Of
course, it worked. I returned the greeting, trying to remember where on
earth I had met them and why I didn't remember them. And I'm afraid they
totally, or almost totally (they were VERY cute), sank their ship when
they told me they try to live by the book of Acts. If they had said the
Gospels, would have been much better. I am not a fan of Pauline
Christianity. But I never mind the opportunity to chat with cute
young men, especially one with such dazzling blue eyes.
Cainer wrote: "You are on one train and someone else is on another. Soon
though, they will both pull into the same station. You can and will meet
up after all."
I told Kory K about it and he said, "head-on collision?"
The 1940s Radio Hour
The time is December, 1942, a year after the Japanese attack on
Pearl Harbor. The war is new enough to the Americans that a
young man in uniform, on the eve of his departure to join the
forces overseas ("I can't say where") is confident it will all
be over in time for everyone to be home by the next Christmas.
The place is the live broadcast studio of a New York radio
station, one half hour before the "On Air" sign lights up.
Posters ("loose lips sink ships") adorn the walls, there's a
Coca-Cola icebox of suitable vintage, and a dozen other little
touches to set the mood.
Your mission, should you accept it, is to play the role of
audience for the live broadcast of a musical comedy revue. It's
a mission highly recommended.
I once collected transcriptions of very similar radio shows of
the time and this superb production at the Manoa Valley Theatre
authentically captures the sound of those shows. It has the
advantage of my love for American popular music of that decade
and likewise, perhaps, the handicap of my love for the original
versions of most songs used in the show.
The ultimate test of that comes with the toe-tapping, spirited
rendition of "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" which does more than
ample justice to the Andrews Sisters.
Kevin Yamada's "You Go to My Head", too, justified the immediate
switch of one young lady from playing her side of their lovers'
spat to melting in her chair, and Jolene Becker's "Have Yourself
a Merry Little Christmas" is as fine as any, Judy Garland's
There are as many subplots in the show as there are characters
and combinations of characters, but those stories are only
hinted at, in dialogue and in physical gesture and interaction.
The show is the show, and it's a delightful one.
Aside from being the first day of the last month of the second year of
this strange trip, and the first day of the month when I had zero dollars
in my pocket, 9/9/99 was not particularly memorable, certainly didn't come
remotely close to 8/8/88 in being special.
Flashback, from Tales of the past: Even though they do not officially
use the Gregorian calendar, the Nepalese considered 8/8/88 an auspicious
day. I had postponed a visit to Swayambunath, the huge Buddhist stupa on
a hill overlooking the valley, until that day. We set out early, agreeing
to make the journey on foot. After walking through central Kathmandu and
crossing the river, we stopped for an early lunch at a beautiful small
hotel near the base of the hill and then dodged monkeys playing on the
long, steep staircase to the beautiful complex of shrines and temples
surrounding the large stupa. We agreed to walk around it eight times, with
each circling dedicated to a person who had been important in our lives.
There were many people making that circuit under the huge eyes that look
out in the four directions, amid the sounds of temple bells, the smell of
incense. It certainly made 8/8/88 a forever memorable day.
Nope, 9/9/99 didn't come remotely close, as I said.
I did better than usual this month with stretching the Fabled Pension
Check, helped by only ten dollars of it being in hock, and would have done
even better if not for that extravagant Saturday night of bar, beer and
football. Friday's Ka Leo says "Pound the Panthers" on its front
page. Hmmmmph. I don't think I'll bother to watch this week's
The weather was mostly dismal on 9/9/99 so I decided I might as well
devote the day all-out to the Mall Game, further incentive added by
needing nightcap money and having only one teabag left. It wasn't a
terribly successful day but the basic objectives were met and there were a
few amusing encounters and some wonderful Japanese drummers on-stage
during the afternoon. I didn't pursue the Quarter Hunt, really, just
grabbed whatever happened to be in my path, so I can't complain about not
having done better.
I saw the Roadrunner for the first time in a couple of weeks. I guess he
thought it was finally safe to return to the mall. He had gotten busted
very early one morning, probably for his habit of climbing into a fountain
to retrieve the coins. He must have given the security staff some
backtalk because they (unusually) had called in the police, but I later
saw the police returning to their cars and the Roadrunner leaving the
mall, heading for the park. Exile.
And I overheard a security guard scold the Hair Twister. "You can't go
digging in our trash," he said. The City tried and failed to pass
a law which would have made looking in trash cans illegal. Is the mall
adopting a strategy which makes the trash their property, so taking
anything from it would be stealing? Interesting slant, but I don't think
it would work. If they really wanted to cut down on the "ragpickers", I
could give them some ideas, but I won't, anymore than I'd point out the
too-effective methods used by one downtown office building to reduce snipe
hunting. I know whose side I'm on.
My Unauthorized Biographer said on Usenet that I wouldn't give beer to
young men who wouldn't let me have their bodies. That would certainly
come as a surprise to the Sleeptalker.
Oh. Ow. Ouch. As is often the case, I don't know how or when it happened
but I threw my back out for the first time in months. I began to notice a
slight discomfort mid-morning on Saturday and by early afternoon it was
beyond discomfort, by evening downright painful. This lower back nuisance
has plagued me since my early twenties but has mercifully happened far
less frequently in these two years of street living. Maybe a
cardboard-on-concrete mattress is good preventive therapy.
If so, it's not perfect. And I know from long experience there's nothing
to be done but wait until it sorts itself out and it's no longer painful
to walk and downright agony to go from a sitting to a standing position.
It's certainly not a condition conducive to playing the Mall Game, but on
Saturday it hardly mattered. The mall was quite crowded earlier in the
day but almost deserted, for a weekend, in the evening. A new record
was set: a total of three quarters. Wow.
Friday must have been a really hard day for the Virginia Slims Mystery
Woman. I hadn't seen any evidence of her all week but there they were on
Friday, two barely-smoked VS butts in an ashtray. And yep, there was the
discarded pack. With THREE cigarettes in it! Major backsliding.
The Snorer told me the Sleeptalker had been in town on Friday, had stopped
by the beach park. I wish I'd seen him but on the other hand really do
prefer to have some money in my pocket when that happens so I can buy him
a few beers, run my hand through his hair, across his flat brown belly ...
oops, I've gotta go easy on the Romance novels. No matter how the author
describes the hero, he's the Sleeptalker for me.
I went again to the State Library on Saturday to get some more reading
material, went slightly upscale this time with Colleen McCullough's A
Creed for the Third Millennium. Although I saw the television
version twice, I didn't read her Thorn Birds. This one is off to
an intriguing start.
Kathleen Sinclair is actually a fine writer, I think, and she should
probably settle down, take a little longer, and write a major novel.
Far Horizons could easily have been twice as long, with much more
detail. Just the section set in Hawai'i at the time of the forcible
relocation of leprosy patients to Molokai could have been expanded to
increase the book's size by at least a quarter. After finishing, and
greatly enjoying, her book, I went on to Jude Deveraux's Knight in
Shining Armor, a bizarre fantasy where a tall, handsome Earl from
Elizabethan England jumps forward in time to the 20th century and the
woman of today he falls in love with jumps back to his time when he
returns ... uh-huh, bizarre. But nicely researched and quite
I went over to have a shower late on Saturday afternoon, wishing it had
been steaming hot water pounding against my back. Just as I was about to
leave, Louis from Rio came in. Like every man from South America I've
seen naked, he is very well equipped. He said, "at last, we share a house
together." ???!!! I didn't know quite what to make of that. We're both
too strangely eccentric to share a house, I fear, but an overnight visit
now and then might be fun. He had lost the address for the Tales again.
I told him that was fine, I could make up exciting stories about him and
he'd never know. After seeing him standing there under the shower
grinning at me, it wouldn't be difficult to make up some of those stories.
Not difficult at all.
All's the same ... pleasure, pain. Hmmmm. One thing to ponder those
lofty Himalayan thoughts when all is well, the body behaving itself.
Quite another when each step renews the awareness of a pocket of intense
pain in the lower back, zapping down the legs in rivulets of sensation.
One voice in my head says, "what utter nonsense". Another says, "sure,
you old gits, you can self-hypnotize yourself into anything, including
ignoring pain" to which another replies, "well, get on with it, do it."
But there's also a part of me which actually enjoys the pain. It's a
novel sensation, after all, in my fortunate life. And unlike that
mysterious chest pain which has happily been rare in recent months, this
is a pain I know well, nothing to be overly nervous or frightened about, a
nuisance but also an aid to maintaining constant self awareness.
It was the absence of that self-awareness at the birth of the pain which
irks the hell out of me. How could I not have noticed? It's like the
scratch on the back of my hand. I don't know how I got it, didn't notice
it happening. The scratch doesn't bother me, not noticing myself get it
I am a simple man and I sing a simple tune ... wish that I could see
you once again across the room ...
I joked about drinking a beer "for medicinal purposes" but in fact,
alcohol is about the only thing that does work in alleviating this irksome
back pain. (The novelty wears off soon, I just want it to go away).
Fortunately, a helping hand made Monday a three-Colt day and I would even
have had a fourth as a nightcap if I could've gotten up the stamina to
stand from my cardboard and stagger to the shop. Didn't make it.
Went to sleep.
Oddly enough, and I don't understand at all why that should be, aspirin
does nothing. I tried it, as I have many, many times before. Zilch.
Another odd thing. With the heel pain (a minor discomfort compared to
this back crap), I can apply pressure and ... ouch ... locate the exact
source of the problem. Not so with the back pain. No matter how much I
feel and poke in the general area of the source, I cannot locate it.
Also oddly, the herbal cigarettes help. I'm glad I bought another pack of
them and that I've smoked so few.
Creed for the Third Millenium I finished on Monday afternoon. When
I began reading it, I was reminded of Atlas Shrugged but
Creed is a far more grim book, thoroughly depressing in its way. I
think it was exceptionally bold of McCollough to postulate a "mini ice
age" at a time when the global gossip is so centered on warming. I can
well believe a time will come when ALL the nations of the world will stop,
get together, stare at the United States of America and say, hey, isn't it
time you woke up, stopped trashing the planet and put an end to your
conspicuous consumption, your throwaway society? Yep, easy to see how
that might come to pass. Even fairly easy to accept an American
government trying to locate a visionary who would help restore confidence
in a nation cringing under disdain. But it's still not a very pleasant
future to contemplate, or read about.
I had a Crichton book stashed in my campus lode, but then spotted a Piers
Anthony book in Hamilton Library's fifty-cent offerings. I've read most
of Anthony's work, enjoyed it despite getting annoyed at his sometimes
tiresome fetish for puns. This one is different. Tatham Mound, a
very imaginative and engrossing tale of life in central Florida before the
Europeans arrived. Extraordinary book for Piers Anthony, but probably
more worth his talented efforts than anything else he has written.
I only made a brief visit to the mall on Monday evening to hunt snipes,
found not a single quarter. The Quarter Hunt, to be successful, requires
at least four or five hours and the ability to wander the mall as Dame
Fortune directs the steps. With each step a painful one, wandering is not
an enterprise to be welcomed at this time. I went again on Tuesday
morning, mainly to avoid the hullabaloo on campus created by the visit of
the Japanese Princess, watched the red carpet being (literally) rolled
out, and left to enjoy a senior coffee and find one quarter.
And lo! I saw her! The Virginia Slims Mystery Woman. She's younger than
I would have expected, maybe in her late twenties or early thirties. She
was sitting on a bench, reading a book printed in the Japanese language.
Under the bench were three tell-tale long VS butts. Before she left, a
fourth had joined them. But alas, she seems to have wised-up and there
was no discarded pack.
Extraordinary. For me, at least, it is definitely extraordinary. For
years and years, I have dreaded the whole idea of the Christmas season. I
hate the idea of feeling obligated to buy presents for people I don't want
to buy presents for (sorry about that, Mama), I hate the holly jolly fake
togetherness, I hate the hideous commercial orgy it all brings on.
But there is something at work. It began with "The 1940s Radio Hour" and
a splendid woman singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" as well
as Judy Garland ever did, transporting me back in time to Decembers when I
heard her singing it. I resisted. I would not let a tear roll down my
Then a "chance" meeting on Wednesday. Jon of Pure Heart came over to say
hello. He had a fancy set of headphones around his neck. I asked if it
was a radio. He pulled the tape player out of his pocket to show me it
was more than that. "What were you listening to?" I asked.
"Pure Heart's Christmas album," he said, with that sly grin of his.
"You must be joking!"
Nope, he wasn't. "And what," I asked, "are some of the tracks on it?"
"Have yourself a merry little Christmas," he said, first.
Okay. I surrender. I shall allow myself to positively wallow in the
spirit of the last Christmas of the 1900's.
Piers Anthony writes, in the Author's Note at the end of his splendid
"Indeed, I believe that a significant aspect of man's nature derives from
tale-telling, because this is where the human mind appreciates not only
what is but what might be. It is man's art that sets him
apart from the animals: his imaginative vision. Tale-telling is perhaps
the first art."
I forgive him all his dreadful puns. Even the one he couldn't resist
slipping into the Author's Note.
Dame Fortune has been in such a jovial mood this week. Maybe she felt
sorry for me because of the back pain, even if she gave it to me, so to
speak? It was finally better by Thursday, although I still had to be
careful about sitting still for too long a time and, when forgetting, be
very careful about getting up again.
I went to the beach to have a shower. A shopping cart was waiting at the
bus stop when I arrived. I returned it, saw the Whore standing vigil
outside the supermarket, wondered how he had missed seeing that one rolled
away. He looked a total wreck, never saw him looking so shattered. I
walked over to pay my respects to Ganesh and just as I reached the
stroller corral, a young woman pushed one in and walked off, leaving the
two quarters for me. Nodding to Ganesh, I continued on my way toward the
beach and spotted PAPER money, just sitting there in the middle of the
sidewalk. Well, was only two one-dollar bills, neatly folded, but even so
... I thought I should share such a gift and looked for Rocky in the park
to offer him a beer. Not there, and the Snorer said he hadn't seen him
all day. I had my shower, returned to the mall to do a quick round for
snipes and immediately spotted an abandoned stroller. Best Mall Game all
week, and I wasn't even playing.
Rocky stayed at the cloisters one night but I didn't know it until the
next morning when he called out a greeting as I was leaving. The Snorer,
though, knows my two nearest neighbors, two deaf fellows who chat away
animatedly in sign language. I told Helen R about them, that they had
gotten very drunk on Saturday, and she wondered if the sign language
became slurred. Ha! Wouldn't surprise me, because they surely were
drunk. But ordinarily they're very nice neighbors and their sign language
doesn't interfere at all with my reading.
I finished Anthony's most excellent book on Thursday morning, after having
stayed up past midnight with it the night before. Still not in the mood
for the stashed Crichton book, I picked up another one from the fifty-cent
cart at Hamilton Library. The Dancing Floor by Barbara Michaels.
Judging by the info in the front of the book, she has written over twenty
novels, but I've never heard of her. This one's not a bad yarn, so far.
I've wasted too much time on Usenet this week but have been in generally
good spirits so felt more like playing than usual. Most folks there take
everything SO SERIOUSLY, though, and eventually it becomes depressing. I
won't continue until it reaches that point this time, methinks.
Barbara Michaels is a very witty writer. She made me laugh aloud once,
and that's a very rare thing for me, sitting quietly on my own, reading,
something I particularly treasure in a writer, and she has made me chuckle
softly quite a few times. I'm glad I discovered her.
That fifty-cent collection at Hamilton is proving to be something of a
Both Cainer and Francis are talking about some significant progress
recently made. Cainer suggests the coming week will have magical
opportunities, Francis says the nature of the progress will be more clear
after the Equinox.
The Equinox almost here already. Tempus fugit, gallops.
I don't notice any sense of having made progress except perhaps a greater
relaxation than has often been the case. A little nag asked why I was
"wasting" my time reading such inconsequential books. I said to it,
you're enjoying yourself aren't you, so shut up, stop disturbing my
reading. I finished The Dancing Floor before the nightcap flask
was empty on Friday night, so I started writing my own "occult romance"
novel in my head. Alicia, the aging heroine who looks in the mirror and
is grateful she doesn't feel that old inside. Arcadia, the dashing young
hero from Waianae. Heh.
Then I had bizarre dreams about a Chinese community somewhere in this
country and I kept switching back and forth between being one of the
Chinese and being an American.
After spending the day on campus, I made a brief early evening trip to the
mall to hunt snipes, used some McD's certs to get a McChicken sandwich,
small fries, and coffee. Didn't look for or find any quarters, but did
find a box from the Virginia Slims mystery woman. Totally empty. Looks
like she will be good only for very long snipes unless she starts feeling
guilty enough to resume her strange routine.
They were taping "Hawaii Stars" which is basically a karaoke bar on stage,
but one woman did a good enough job with the love song from "Titanic" that
I stopped to listen. Carole Kai, who co-hosts the show, manages to keep a
smiling mask on her face so constantly it made mine hurt just watching
her. And it was fun at one point when the teleprompter went whacko and
you could see several minutes ahead into what was going to be said. The
Whore was, as usual, captivated by the show so it would have been a good
time to hunt carts but I wasn't in the mood for it and left as soon as my
snipes supply was sufficient. I needn't have bothered, since there was a
pack of Marlboro's, missing only a couple, on the sidewalk outside a club
in the morning.
"They [the Japanese] say Americans are too eager to make theories. They
say we don't spend enough time observing the world, and so we don't know
how things really are." Crichton: Rising Sun.
I didn't really like Crichton's Rising Sun but finished it. I've
not read anything else of his except Andromeda Strain and won't go
out of my way to seek more. Too preachy by far.
Someone seems to be going through a phase of reading novels about American
Indians and leaving them for Hamilton's fifty-cent cart. Frank Waters'
The Man Who Killed the Deer is the latest to enter my backpack,
mainly because Stephen Vincent Benet is quoted as saying it's "perhaps the
best book that has yet been written about the American Indian." Maybe
in 1942, it was. The writing style is somewhat awkward, doesn't engross
you in the way Piers Anthony's book does, but the details of life on a
mid-century reservation are certainly nicely painted.
I had just finished the Crichton book and was sitting at the cloisters
thinking about it when Spot came over to chat. I haven't encouraged him
lately because I do enjoy that time on my own, with a book and the
nightcap, but I guess putting down the book was invitation enough.
There's a very nice young black man who came looking for Spot several
nights, finally asked me if I'd seen him. I said, no, he hadn't been
there yet, seemed to be arriving later than usual. The third night he
came over to ask, I asked him what his name was, told him I sometimes see
Spot at the mall and would let him know he was being looked for. He said,
"just tell him his African friend," started to walk away, and then turned
back, asked if I had a pen and paper so he could leave his phone number
for Spot. I got some out for him, he wrote his message, folded it, handed
it to me and left. Extraordinary, that parents in Zimbabwe (as Spot told
me) would name a son after a French emperor.
Spot and I talked a bit about him, but since much of what Spot said is
destined for a courtroom in November, I think I'll refrain from repeating
it. An odd young man, Spot, one I feel absolutely no physical
attraction to and very little sympathy toward.
I had spent most of Saturday on campus, made a quick trip downtown and
then a stroll through the mall for snipe hunting before returning again to
campus. I was sorry to see the window had been changed, Siva and Ganesh
Tale Four Hundred. Only 601 to go before I catch up with Scheherazade.
Thought I should do something special for the occasion, but couldn't think
of anything I particularly wanted to do that would make 400 stand out from
Waited until I got to the mall to have my first jolt of caffeine on
Monday, so it was almost 9:30 before I slugged down a cup of McD's senior
coffee, went back for a refill. I was feeling quite dozey and
light-headed by then. Maybe I should try a whole day without the stuff,
might be interesting (if I managed to stay awake to experience it).
Between the cleaning army, the competition, and a brief shower of rain,
the snipes hunting was really slow going, took over an hour to almost fill
I went over to the beach to have a shower. Rabid fans of the Tale's dirty
bits will be disappointed, I fear, but I thought it quite entertaining.
When I went in, a Filipino fellow was busy pumping away. He stopped, but
after a bit, resumed, with his back turned to me. He gave a little grunt
when finished, turned to me, smiled and said, "that's better". I do
admire men who are so self-confident they can pick their nose or
masturbate or whatever without worrying about it.
This isn't intended as a clever seque from one staying hard to another:
Spunker wrote: "The really cool part is how they stay hard for approximately one minute on dry surfaces
so I was catching my thrills throwing Boo Bubble Gum at all those homeless dregs sitting on the benches
Wonder if I was there at the time? Don't remember anyone holding a cup of
Dippin' Dots throwing them in my direction, so maybe not. And anyway, I
rarely sit on benches at the mall, except for the ones in the walkway to
the bus stop with all the potted orchids on the wall.
That Dippin' Dots stuff truly sucks. The "ice cream of the future", they
claim. I'll stick to the past, if so, will never bother to pick up
another discarded cup of the stuff again. Goes right there on the list
with Surge and Diet Pepsi.
I talked briefly with the Snorer and his gang. One of Rocky's lads I've
never given a name said he had seen Mondo on the weekend at the Pearlridge
Mall, and Mondo had told him to say hello to me. Evidently the
Sleeptalker hangs out there once in awhile, too. Maybe I should take that
wonderful express bus out to Pearlridge one Saturday.
Then Rocky came strutting over. He had stayed at the cloisters again on
Sunday night, but hadn't noticed me when I left on Monday morning. I
waited for a chance to ask him out of hearing of the others, who were
playing at tossing horseshoes, if he wanted a beer. Silly question. I
said we'd have to go down to the other end of the park to get it, so we
left the Snorer's now-regular gathering, I got two bottles of Colt and we
sat at a picnic bench to drink them. I told Rocky some guy had said on
the Internet that I wouldn't buy beer for young dudes unless they gave me
their bodies. He looked at the beer, looked at me, said "do you really
want it?" Heh. Smart young man, Rocky is.
Finished the quite fine novel about the Pueblo Indians, moved on to Wilbur
Smith's Men of Men. I hadn't intended to. I picked up what I
thought was the book evidently next to it on the fifty-cent cart at
Hamilton, only noticed when I got to the desk to pay that I had the
"wrong" book. Such are the moments which test our faith in "no
accidents". I handed the lady my two quarters and put the book in my
backpack. Africa in the time of Cecil Rhodes, the "diamond rushes".
I haven't read much about Africa, fiction or otherwise, and except for
Egypt have little interest in the continent. Maybe my "accidentally"
"wrong" purchase was reminding me that just because Jung freaked out there
doesn't mean I should totally ignore the place. Or maybe it was just
putting a good read in my paws, which it certainly seems to be thus far.
It was amusing to look up from reading it later at the cloisters, and see
that tall, rather handsome fellow from Zimbabwe walking over to say hello.
The Usenet nonsense continued to occupy too much of my time. Someone
wrote to ask me to "step aside". I replied that if I had been living in
Salem at the time, I probably would have been on the side of the witches.
If they hadn't burned me for one, of course.
A reader said she thought Tale 400's style had been influenced by Aaron.
Could be, although I wasn't aware of it either when writing or reading
that "landmark" Tale. But I've always been a sponge when it comes to
parroting other writers' style. My well-read friend Frances once told me
she could often tell who I was reading from my letters, even if I didn't
mention it. And I've avoided "Regencies" in my light reading because I am
(or was, anyway) very susceptible to that lush style.
"Style" in writing isn't something I've really thought about in writing
the Tales, although I'm sure I'd fret over it if I sat myself down to
write a novel. The Tales get told as if I were chatting to myself (and
much of what does get written was originally just that, an internal chat).
The weather was very unsettled on Tuesday morning. For the second day in
a row, I got showered on as I was walking uphill from the cloisters to
campus. Considering how frequently it rains in Manoa, it's surprising
that doesn't happen more often. Later in the morning I got caught again
at some distance from shelter when an unexpected sprinkle began, but
luckily was within feet of an overhang when a real downpour erupted. I
decided it was perhaps time to spend the morning at the mall, but then I
needed some snipes anyway.
And once again they were scarce. Where is Ms. Virginia Slims when I need
her? Food was in short supply, too, and that always seems to happen on a
day when the Krishna folks don't supply any. I did find a yummy round
loaf of newly-baked bread and wondered why someone walked off and left it
on a bench. It brought back memories of those wheat loaves from the
"breadbasket" in the hacienda days. It seems a long, long time ago, those
nights at the hacienda and the walk through Kakaako in the predawn hour.
I was about to leave for campus when I spotted a stroller abandoned just
across the road from a return corral. That corral has robbed me twice by
being out of quarters for the refund so I tend not to use it (even if that
doesn't really make sense ... any of the three could be out of quarters).
But since it was right there, I pushed the stroller in and the thing spit
out EIGHT quarters. It was like winning on a slot machine.
So I decided I could have a lunchtime brew after all, bought it and
returned to campus with my bread and beer and two Marvel comic books I'd
found at the mall. Comic books aren't much like they were when I was a
kid. The birds and I enjoyed the bread, I enjoyed the beer, and I left
the comic books at Campus Center since maybe someone else would enjoy
them. Can't say I did.
Then back to the computer ...
The reader also said: "Yep, usenet is nonsense. I keep telling you
that, and you keep playing. A glutton for punishment, aren't you?"
It's a sad thing. Usenet, with all its misnamed "newsgroups" ("discussion
groups" would be far better), should be a miracle of the McLuhan Global
Village. People from all cultures, from all points on the globe, free to
gather together and share ideas. Instead, it's a battleground. Our local
group, alt.culture.hawaii, is dominated by half a dozen egomaniacs who
spend sizeable chunks of time every day pouring out venom, repeating the
same lies over and over again, picking the currently fashionable victim(s)
and heaping scorn upon him (or her). Of course, it's small time nonsense
compared to champs like soc.culture.indian. Scanning through posts in
that place leaves one wondering how India ever managed to reach such
heights of civilization and culture.
I was in a foul mood the morning of the last day of summer, made even
worse because there was no reason for it and I had no idea why.
Being in a "bad mood" for no reason has become a rare thing for me and I'm
very happy that is so.
Perhaps part of it was the start of the day. There is a somewhat crazy
black man who stays at the cloisters now and then. He has spoken to me a
few times, once went on about how "distinguished" I look (like I said,
somewhat crazy). During the night he had shifted sleeping spots and was
closer to me than I prefer, one of the reasons I pick a spot with
the nearest reasonable site about eight feet away. And he was making some
noise which I assume he thought was singing. Not a wonderful way to wake
up and greet a new day.
At least it wasn't raining, else my foul mood would have blackened even
I thought I'd definitely best stay out of Usenet, probably best to stay
clear of a computer altogether, so went early to the mall. If you can't
pull yourself out of it, I said, just walk around the mall and mutter your
mantra. So I did. Quarters turned up now and then, I had two boxes
almost full of lengthy snipes, was taking a break smoking one of them and
a taxi driver walked over, said "would you like these?" and handed me a
pack of Marlboros. I guess some passenger must've left them in the taxi.
Oddly enough, that broke the mood.
Wilbur Smith is the best "macho" writer I've encountered (sorry about
that, Papa H) and I'm thoroughly enjoying his quasi-historical novel about
Africa, was amused when the action moved to what is now Zimbabwe. I
wouldn't mind at all reading a History of Africa that matches the one on
Asia I still haven't completed. So when the mood lightened, I bought a
bottle of Colt and went back to Smith's epic, repeated the prescription
until time to head to the cloisters and sleep. My dawn-singing neighbor
wasn't there, to my relief.
One of the deaf fellows is a lunatic. Like the Shirtless One, the
Filipino, he always gets wacky when a full moon approaches and he was off
and running early for this one. He arrived after his friend, there was
the usual animated exchange with sign talk between them, then his friend
resumed reading, rolling over to turn his back toward the still "chatting"
one. That one then walked down near me and proceeded to undress down to
his boxer shorts and stood there vigorously scratching his crotch, hand
inside his shorts. I kept my eyes, more or less, on my book, wondering
what on earth the man was up to. Finally he walked back over to his
friend's spot and stood there scratching his crotch. Full moon horny?
Dunno, but he repeated the routine the next night. Neither his friend nor
I showed any interest in his exhibition, and I wondered how he'd top it on
the evening when the moon really is full.
I ain't had no lovin' since January, February, June or July ...
Weird lyric. I have a vague memory of some MGM musical with "Harvest
Moon" being sung, but it gets mixed up with Debbie Reynolds and maybe
Donald O'Connor singing "Abba Dabba Honeymoon" which was a different
movie. There's a whole section of my brain which is a Hollywood jumble.
And so the last Equinox of the nineteen hundreds arrived, summertime gone,
no more living it easy. There's so little difference here between summer
and fall it means not much aside from a day on the calendar, a knot in the
string of a passing life. I stayed on campus most of the morning, spent a
little time snipe hunting at the mall and found four quarters without
actively hunting for them, made a quick trip downtown when intuition told
me (rightly) there was some mail waiting, and then returned to campus with
a bottle of Colt and went back to Africa. (I'd forgotten Dinesen when I
said I hadn't read much about the continent, and wouldn't mind
re-reading her, either).
Bruce H is in town and I was going to meet up with him and Kory K but got
tired of waiting around for Kory to show up and left five minutes before
he arrived, so I didn't, after all, go to Waikiki but spent the evening
with the book.
And the moon moved into Aries ...
I didn't get the chance to see the wacky deaf guy's Fool Moon act. He
didn't come "home". It's the first time I've seen his friend spend the
night at the cloisters without the other one. The Shirtless One took this
Moon fairly calmly, although he did pace a bit, stopped and stood in front
of me at one point. I waited a few moments, then looked up from my book.
"Are you homeless?" he asked, "you have no house?"
"Why do you think I'm sleeping here?" I asked, and muttered, "weird
question," as he walked off without saying anything else. Weird is an
understatement, considering both of us have been staying there, off and
on, for almost two years.
They moved one of the long wooden, backed benches into the spot where it
originally was before an end of it started to crack and it was taken away
for apparent repair. It used to be my favorite bed, so I reclaimed it on
the night of the Full Moon, the first time in weeks I've slept on wood
instead of cardboard-upon-concrete. Trouble is, I always have to carry
cardboard over just in case someone has already taken that bench, and it
really isn't all that much better a bed. It did feel strange to sleep so
far off the ground, though.
It's good to have the Full Moon in Aries out of the way so early in Libra.
There's more than enough action in my personal chart during Libra anyway,
the Sun opposing my natal Sun, Mars and Venus in rapid succession. Such
fireworks always make the mass astrologers' reports a little less
pertinent for me. Or so I speculate.
This has been a week of moods, and the Full Moon day brought on one of
those lost, dunno-what-to-do-and-don't-much-care days. As I have in
recent months, I react to those with a shrug and say, "might as well
stroll the mall." I also woke up feeling very tired, so used some newly
arrived McD's certs for not only senior coffee but a McChicken sandwich
and fries. Buying food is almost as rare as buying cigarettes. It did
perk me up a little, but not much.
Bla was absent until mid-evening and the Whore wasn't on the scene at all.
It's a shame the mall was so deserted. But I did add financing for
another brew to the nightcap change already in pocket. For awhile,
though, the pickings were so slim I was slightly regretting having been so
"responsible" on my recent Responsible Shopping Expedition. On the other
hand, I wasn't responsible enough, because I yet again ran out of teabags
and I guess I have to break down and buy a bar of soap because none have
been abandoned in the showers. It's always something ...
Eric Francis wrote: Humans so rarely see things as they are; we see
things as we are. For you, this time of year can have a sense of placing
a big mirror in front of your life, or noticing that the world is an
emotional reflecting pool, which is, at the moment, more akin to a very
A very hot bath. Ummmmmm, that would be a fine thing, indeed.
A fellow writing in "Odyssey", the local gay guide, mentioned some of the
places he has lived and said he thought the concentration of "beautiful
men" was greater on this island than anywhere else in the world. I agree.
I was sitting on a bench in the orchid-wall walk early on Monday morning,
enjoying an Ecstacy smoke and my coffee refill, looking in the other
direction, when I turned and saw a First Class, stunning example of that.
Slim, beautifully brown and muscular body, shirtless with tee shirt slung
rolled around his neck. No hair on the chest but, like the Sleeptalker, a
sweet furry line from his navel down to disappearing behind his briefs,
two inches of which were showing above his low-slung trousers. Very
thick, short dark hair in his armpits. Standing right in front of me.
"You got buds? Can I have a hit?"
"I wish," I said, "just a herbal cigarette." He offered to trade me a
regular cigarette for one of them. I only had three left in the box I
have been trying to stretch until the Fabled Pension Check arrives, but I
could have denied him nothing, made the trade.
He said it really smelled like "buds" and I told him I kept the box with
me to display in case anyone questioned. A security guard walked by and
said, "you guys smoking something you shouldn't?" We both laughed. I
showed the guard the box. He said they had been getting a lot of calls
lately, people complaining that marijuana was being smoked. Then he told
us some tales of his youth, including one I'd never heard before, about
putting the stalks between the wringers of an old-fashioned washing
machine, gathering the liquid, spreading it on a cookie sheet and baking
it, to get THC.
All the time I was listening to the exchange, my eyes were glued on that
beautiful chest, that fuzzy line of fur, occasionally looking up into
gleaming, smiling dark eyes. I wished for a camera. I knew I wouldn't be
able to properly glue the image into my memory.
He's nineteen. After the guard left, he asked me how long I have been
"stuck" here. I told him I didn't think of it as being "stuck". He does,
after seven years here. Ah, so he came here at the age of twelve, from
Texas. He doesn't know better.
I asked him why he was at the mall so early and he said he was just
waiting until it was time to go to his P.O. ("parole officer", for the
uninitiated). He complained that they were treating him like a hardened
criminal, community service and five years of parole. I didn't ask what
he had done to merit this reward but from the rest of his conversation,
I'd guess a drug bust. Anyone who supposedly knows people who smuggled in
twenty pounds of the weed from the Big Island in one go ...
An absolute sweetheart, as delightful a personality as a body. The I
Ching said about this week, "Fellowship with Men". It could not
possibly have gotten off to a better start.
Looks like I'll make it. I vowed not to borrow against the Fabled Pension
Check this month unless the Sleeptalker showed up on campus. I would
rather have borrowed and spent a day with him, but no joy. Of course,
there was assistance from the Heavenly Melon Vine, so I can't really
claim some great disciplinary victory.
The final week of September is turning out to be as moody as its
predecessor. Cainer wrote on Tuesday: WHAT are you trying to conjure
up out of thin air? Reason, meaning, purpose? Something like that.
I found a copy of Guy Gavriel Kay's The Lions of Al-Rassan so am
following up the quasi-historical tale of Africa with one (perhaps a
little more quasi) of Medieval Spain. It's the first I've read by Kay,
although had heard of him since he was one of the editors of Tolkien's
posthumously published Silmarillion. Lions is nicely
written although a little confusing because it has such a huge cast of
characters and also because he mixes fantasy with history in a strange
way. Two moons?
I've spent little time at the mall. A couple of hours on Tuesday evening
showed me how fine it would be to have the Quarter Hunt to myself. The
Whore was absent and Bla didn't arrive until quite late, so picking up
$2.75 was as easy as walking around and returning one cart after another,
assisted by one stroller corral having four quarters in it. If only the
Whore would move to another mall.
Moody and lazy. I can't even get up the ambition to do laundry. Moody
and lazy and slightly bored. Libra.
As I was settling down to sleep on Tuesday night, I thought what a waste
it is that we have to sleep. Bad design. But then let's not even talk
about teeth if we want to talk bad design.
On Sunday evening yet another deaf fellow had joined the two regulars. He
brought a cooler full of beer. I should have just gotten up and moved
somewhere else immediately, having already experienced those two when
drunk. The younger, wacky one and his chihuahua-like yips is bad enough,
but the older one, when he gets drunk and excited, chatters away in some
unrecognizeable language, punctuated with loud laughs and his usual
raucous coughing (between drags on a cigarette). So I went back to the
other building and slept where I'd been on that most memorable night with
the Sleeptalker, the two of us huddled under one cover against the cold of
It's an okay spot, sweet memories, so I stayed there for three nights.
The light isn't as good, though, so it's more difficult to read
awhile with my nightcap before sleeping. And like I said, I grumble about
the need to sleep, anyway. Or to eat. Tuesday was grim on that score, so
little food around. A bit of rice, three malasadas (and the birds got
part of one of those). It wasn't a great day, despite that $2.75 I so
easily picked up at the mall.
And then even worse, I woke up on Wednesday and realized I wasn't, as I
said in the last Tale, "slightly bored", I was thoroughly and utterly
For me, getting bored always goes hand in hand with getting depressed. I
think boredom comes first and then I get depressed because I'm bored and
none of it makes any sense. It falls on me, or I fall into it, without
reason or warning and nothing matters, not music, books, birds, even
beautiful young men. Not even beer.
But beer I had and a book and I sat in the secluded grove, feeding the
birds another stale malasada I found, and reading just because there was
nothing else I wanted to do and even though I didn't really want to
do that, I knew it would pass the time. The passage of time is the
only thing I can count on to bring a change of mood. All things must
pass, even intense boredom.
The book really wasn't that good, I thought when finishing it. Far too
often he gave way to the device of having something happen and then making
the reader go on for pages before finding out just what had. Two men
fight, one survives. Ten pages before finding out which one. A woman is
married and has two children. Ten pages more before finding out who she
married. Clever, once or twice, but tedious when constantly repeated.
Already in the backpack was a romance epic called Shanna which got
off to such an improbable beginning it actually made the nightcap hour at
the cloisters more amusing than the rest of the day had been. I moved
back to the place I've occupied all summer and slept more soundly there,
didn't awaken until the (for me) very late hour of 6:45.
The end of the last September of the nineteen hundreds. It has not been
what I could in any way call a memorable month. Except for that meeting
with The Texan.
What a dancer! I had, of course, not been in the Islands long before
discovering the hula was much, much more than I'd ever realized. And I've
been fortunate to see many excellent practitioners of that art. But on
Thursday evening it was almost as if I were seeing it for the first time.
Really seeing it.
She was tall, long straight hair in a generous swath reaching below her
waist. When she turned toward me, I could see her face clearly for the
first time and realized she was not a beautiful woman in the conventional
sense, but there was something monumental, epic about her. The first song
she danced to was a fast tempo one and she moved and swirled with
intoxicating grace. I joined in the loud "hana hou" encore calls. There
was a brief conference with the musicians. Genoa said, "this is a very
old song" and the old Chocolate Man sitting next me muttered, "a
very old song."
I didn't recognize it. Slow and beautiful and sensuous. And the dance!
Never have I seen such a hula. It seemed to sum up the history of the
islands, in a way. I could feel what it must have been for the early
European visitors, seeing these beautiful people and watching a dance
which, with less grace, could have been called lewd. It was so beautiful
I had to wipe the tears from my eyes before they spilled down my cheeks.
Since I'd been so faithful to my vow, when the Fabled Pension Check
arrived, I gave myself a reward. An afternoon and evening in Waikiki, the
way it used to be. The afternoon at Duke's, Michael and Aimee behind the
bar. Michael's pride and joy, his two and a half year old daughter, has
been joined by a nine week old brother, and I dutifully looked through his
ever-present photo album. He boasted of the little boy's equipment. Heh.
Never heard a daddy brag like that, and nine weeks old! "Like father,
like son," I said, and he beamed. Aimee was, as always, a joy to be with.
I told her, quite truthfully, she didn't seem to have aged at all in the
years I have been following her from one bar to another. "You must want
another free drink," she said. Sweetheart.
I felt a little sadness, sitting there. Such a beautiful location, with
its view of the ocean, the little flock of surfers waiting out in the
water for the next wave, the catamarans and outriggers coming and going
from the beach. It was a very good time, those many months I spent almost
every afternoon there. I hope it, and I, last long enough for those
Social Security checks to start rolling in. It will be every afternoon
there again for a time, if we survive.
I had begun my treat by buying a pack of Pall Malls. Ahhh, virgin
cigarettes and my favorites. Beer, Pall Malls, Duke's ... a fine
When it came time for the shift to the evening bartenders, I used my
upside-down shot glass for one more brew, then walked slowly along the
beach to the Hawaiian Regent Hotel. Genoa and crew had just begun
playing. She saw me, gave me a smile and a nod, and then Gary Aiko
spotted me, did likewise. At last! He broke free and was barechested,
with a fake leopard-skin vest, instead of the long-sleeved white shirt he
usually (and with obvious discomfort) wears for the gigs with his mama.
Paul Kim was standing in for Alan Akaka and, alas, sang only one song.
His steel guitar playing is wonderful, but so is his singing which he
undervalues, I think.
I spotted Myra in the audience, got a beer and a chilled glass and took it
over to her. The special for the night was Hinano from Tahiti, a decent
brew, and I suppose increasing the "special" of the night to three dollars
isn't bad for Waikiki. Later I took Myra another one, teased her by
saying next time I saw her and needed just one more quarter, she'd better
remember it. Such a sweet lady, she is.
A fine afternoon and evening, not nearly as costly as it would have been
had every beer gone on the bill. And worth every penny for that dance
I only know when he ... began to dance with me ... I could have danced,
danced, danced all night ...
He was so cute and a completely amazing dancer. My companion who I
have, after a conference on the subject, agreed to call "Scarlett" and I
watched the young man dancing earlier, on his own, and when he got up
again as we were dancing, I moved so he was between us and the three of us
danced together until his antics got me so amused I just sat on a ledge by
the dance floor and watched the two of them, congratulated Scarlett
afterwards for managing to keep up with him.
It was a Suddenly Last Summer evening at Pier Bar. Willie K was in
top form, rocked the house as only he can do when at his best. Aimee
behind the bar, lots of folks I hadn't seen since the last time I was at a
Willie gig. Scarlett I've never seen anywhere but at Willie's gigs and
she came over to me early in the evening and stayed with me until the bar
closed after midnight. We discussed all the beautiful young men who
surrounded us, agreed on most of them. One of the best came and stood
right in front of us and on a signal, we both reached down to pat his
butt. He thought it was just her, or at least pretended to think so.
There's a handsome local Asian fellow I've always admired, also never seen
except at Willie gigs, and Scarlett agreed he is a fine specimen. Some
really silly little blonde lady was trying to get him interested.
Scarlett and I thought he definitely deserved better than that and she
went over to break it up, completely captured his attention, winking to
me. The young lady gave up, but did catch on to our game and gave me a
knowing smile as she left our area.
Scarlett had never met Willie, so during the break I introduced her to
him, told him she has been a long-time admirer, got a laugh out of him
when I said, "I know the last thing you need in your life right now is
another woman." Later he gave us a little bow as he started "Bottle of
Wine", my favorite Willie song and one he doesn't always include in his
gigs. As I said on alt.music.hawaiian, Willie is The Man.
We kept up our banter all evening as young men passed by and when the
lights went on and the bar was closing, we walked together toward the
Aloha Tower and encountered the best one yet. A quick unspoken
conference, we agreed. So I told him we both thought he was the champ of
the evening. Amazing how beautiful young men are so relaxed about being
admired when there's a woman as part of it. Yep, Suddenly Last
But, as I told a friend, I escaped without getting eaten.
And much to my delight, the hacienda was no longer chained off so instead
of sleeping, as planned, on an outside bench there, I returned to that
magical, occult space and slept where I'd so often been with the
Sleeptalker on one side of me and Mondo on the other. They, alas, were
not there, but the memory certainly was.
A most excellent evening.
My Unauthorized Biographer on Usenet reminded me of that sweet night, so
long ago, at the hacienda when the Sleeptalker, blonde bear fur hair as he
had then, turned over on his bench and, lying on his flat brown belly,
raised his head and said, "hi Barney".
Ah yes, I was a "Barney" in those days. Two years ago, come Thursday
night, I shall remember that it was exactly that night two years ago I
last spent a night under my own roof in my own bed (actually, my rented
roof and my rented bed).
Learned a bit in these two years. Not nearly enough, but a bit. But then
that was the whole idea. Just as when I walked out of Manhattan and set
out on foot across New Jersey, the idea was to end stagnation, to give up
"peace" and "comfort" and "security" in exchange for making life more
interesting. It worked then, it has worked now.
Je regrette rien ...
Except ... maybe ... falling love with the Sleeptalker.
No way, no how.
That young man from Waianae has given me some of the most treasured,
sweet moments of my long life.
Je regrette rien ...
Five days of "normal" living. Buying food, cigarettes, beer, not going
near the mall or carts or strollers. Sometimes I wonder if it would be
better not to have that monthly check, but I have to admit I do indeed
enjoy the interlude of green-paper-in-pocket.
Most of the weekend was spent with John Grisham's A Time to Kill,
the first of his books I've encountered and certainly a fine one. The
weather was beautiful, the campus quiet and fairly deserted, so I sat with
an occasional bottle of beer and the book and the birds and memories.
There is not a day that passes without thinking of the Sleeptalker, but he
absolutely dominated my thoughts on Sunday, to such a degree that it began
to worry me. I hope he's okay.
I hope I am, too, although I do sometimes wonder ...
There must have been something in the air, or in the "stars". Never saw
so many young couples having spats on campus as I did on the first Monday
of October. I suspected none of their arguments were really serious, and
hoped I was right about my guess, felt like saying, oh stop it, enjoy
"love" while it lasts, but behaved myself.
Hello young lovers, wherever you are ...
Read this in an on-line journal:
"Keeping an on-line journal is a balancing act. Each step you take has to
be weighed. What are the consequences? Are they worth the risk? Sometimes
yes. Sometimes no. And sometimes you just throw caution to the wind and
things are a little off kilter for a while. And sometimes it's worth it
and sometimes not."
True words, true words.
I have the advantage (?) over many of the school in being single, no
spouse or "significant other" to read what I say, although the Sleeptalker
could and knows how to, if he wanted. I doubt I would have written
anything about him differently. I also have the advantage of being old
enough to not really give a damn what other people think about me and
that's important in writing these things. Without that, I probably would
have written some things differently or not mentioned them at all,
especially given the twits who gleefully take and twist stuff from here to
use in their beloved Usenet flamefests.
I don't read many of the on-line journals regularly. Right now Ryan,
Aaron, and Spunker (the local emag with journal-like content) are the only
ones I follow consistently. There are others I check now and then, some
which were more regular reading until they began to lag and write less
frequently. Without regular entries, it turns into a different kind of
writing, is no longer really a journal and, unless they are very good
writers, not as interesting. I get more than enough "essays" in the daily
campus newspaper. Occasionally, I look at diarist.net and browse around,
which is how I came across the above quote.
It would be interesting to come across one from a fellow roofless
man, but I haven't yet found any.
The money runs out. Nightcap funds in hand for Monday and then it's
either back to the mall game or give up beer. And with the money gone,
there's no more masking boredom by spending. How very tiresome.
My maybe-cousin (x-times removed?) has established vanderburg.org. My branch of the
family has never been very "org"anized, so he must spring from some other
batch than my Grandmother and Grandfather's thirteen offspring. Since
he's in Dallas, though, and my lot stem from Chicota, near Paris, not far
from that metropolis, chances are, we are related. As I told him, I quite
like the idea of "vanderburg.org" but do think the Tales should be linked
from it. A Black Sheep of the Family section? (I'm sure I'm not
the only one.)
Dame Fortune smiled and decided I didn't have to endure a beer-less day on
Tuesday, whether I played the Mall Game or not. So many coins left in
the vending machines on campus. Maybe whatever it was which caused all
those lovers' squabbles also made the students extra absent-minded,
because they left quite a horde behind and I gathered it all up in the
I did go to the mall, though, because I wanted to cross over to the beach
and have a shower. Since I was also washing a tee shirt, I was in there
long enough to have three different companions, none of them particularly
interesting. Just as well, I don't like being distracted while doing
One of the regulars told me to be careful in the mall. They have hired a
lot of new security-army folks since the expansion, and seem to be trying
to crack down on the more grotesque of the nomads. I thanked him for the
warning but said that unless I spotted a magazine or something I wanted, I
never went trash-digging. Ah, some of the newbies regard the ashtrays as
part of the trash, he told me. Yikes, a Game Sanctuary for Snipes?! That
would be bad news. He described the worst of the new over-enthusiasts and
when I went back to the mall, I spotted him at once (younger than most,
wears glasses), so I left his area. It would seem the emphasis is on
keeping us lowlifes on the ground level and away from the super-affluent
shops upstairs. No problem. I can't really blame them. But I thought,
if that fellow who reportedly gets upset over a cigarette butt being taken
from an ashtray ever sees Twisted Hair with his gross routine, he'll go
ballistic. Maybe he did. Twisted Hair was nowhere to be seen.
Ever-changing rules. When I woke up on Tuesday morning, after moving to
an unaccustomed spot at the cloisters, someone said, "you guys aren't
supposed to be sleeping on this side." ???? There's never been any rule
about that area not being used and the security man had said nothing to me
the night before. I dunno. But the mosquitoes seem worse there than
anywhere else, so I don't mind if it's off-limits.
The Powers That Be versus the No Powers That Be. The History of Earth.
I ran into the Cherub as he was scurrying to his meteorology lab. No,
he's not particularly interested in the subject but seems to enjoy his lab
partner's company. I told him he was looking pale and he said it was
because he'd been sweating a presentation he'd just finished making for
his economics class. (No, he's not particularly interested in that
subject either, but needs it for his stash of required credits.)
We agreed that despite all the reports of decreased enrollment this
semester, the campus certainly shows no evidence of it, was like a
disturbed anthill all morning. Even the secluded grove was full of
The Cherub gave me a few cigarettes, the sweetie. He's wisely staying on
the periphery of my weird life, but it's always a welcome occasion when he
strays into orbit.
The long, long two-month record of nightcaps came to an end on Tuesday. I
suspected it was going to be a case of either/or, but went ahead and had a
brew in the mid-afternoon and wasn't particularly bothered when I went to
the mall in the evening and it was a dead loss, not so much as one quarter
flew into my paw. Despite the increased difficulty in getting to sleep,
once I eventually got there, it was a pleasant enough night despite the
lack of brew circulating in my veins.
They've started leaving the toilet open all night again, alas. I can
understand their "kindness" is probably not really kindness at all, just a
desire to stop people from pissing in the bushes. Doesn't work. I
noticed several who were too lazy to make the walk instead of using the
nearest bush. About all it does accomplish is make that area
uninhabitable because people are in there off-and-on all night and then
there is a horrendous racket from the place in the early morning. I hope
some of those men never had a wife. It's awful to contemplate the torture
of spending every morning listening to all that hacking, grunting,
spluttering noise. No zoo could sound more unpleasant. After making the
mistake of sleeping too near it on Monday, I went back to my usual spot
once the deaf guys finally settled down. They're as bad as the toilet
until they do.
Every once in awhile, in a moment of boredom, I use one of the Web search
machines to see what it reveals for "Vanderburg". Years ago, there was
nothing. Then Glenn showed up, author of a couple of books on Java, and
now owner of vanderburg.org. When I tried it again on Tuesday, I was
amazed at how the list had grown ... over 700 references. As with all the
search machines, a lot of them were duplicates and Glenn does occur in
many references because of his Java work. But The Vanderburg Page at
http://www.thescenicroute.com/cmterrell/vanderburg/index.htm did come as a
And in the Guestbook there, I noted a Tanya who said she was from Paris,
Texas, so I sent her an email and had a reply. Turns out her grandfather
was my uncle. It's the first contact I've had with my father's family
since childhood except for one in my first year in New York City. A
cousin wanted to run away from home and asked if he could stay with me for
awhile. Weirdly, I can't remember if he ever actually showed up or not.
I don't think so.
I also had a reply from Glenn and he said if he started to organize links
on his page with a Black Sheep section, it would probably be the largest
one there. But he promised me a link and eventually a virtual address at
The most touching site, though, was a listing of all the tombstones in the
little Mt. Joy Cemetery, Delta County, Texas, many of which are
Vanderburg's, and a very handsome site about a branch of the family which
appears to have gone off to Oregon. Added to that, the Social Security
Death Register with its 378 Vanderburg's (including father, aunts and
uncles) and there is already enough material to spend hours entering it
into a database. Good thing I have no db program available, but an
interesting diversion on an otherwise dull afternoon.
I did make a quick trip down to the State Library, since there was nothing
of interest on the fifty-cent cart at Hamilton, and found Paul Rudnick's
I'll Take It, a funny book about a mother and son who are both
shopping addicts (and shoplifting, if the desired object is too costly).
Gave me several chuckles, but without beer's assistance I really needed
something more boring to put me to sleep.
I stayed on campus until mid-afternoon Wednesday, then went to the mall
since I was meeting Ryan at four-thirty in the park. He has a project for
his ethics-in-journalism studies. How to report on a community without
exploiting it or taking advantage of it, more or less. And the community?
The homeless. HA!
Unfortunately, his assigned sub-group is going to be families and
children, so I (Gott sei dank, wouldn't want to live this life with even
one child as a responsibility) cannot be of direct help to him, but can
probably better assist some of his classmates, especially the poor young
lady who has the "African Americans" sub-group. She hasn't got many
guinea pigs to pick from in this town, but at least I could introduce her
to the Snorer and he just loves to talk. That black woman who
dresses all in white and has wandered the streets, mostly of Waikiki, for
over seven years now might be a more difficult interview subject.
But it was fun seeing Ryan, as always, and if his interviews with his
homeless subjects don't stick closer to the point than our chat did, he's
gonna be in trouble in that class.
Before meeting him, Dame Fortune had smiled, leaving a dollar bill on the
sidewalk under a phone kiosk and quickly providing the other four quarters
for nightcap financing. But sitting in McD's with Ryan, Myra came in and
asked if I had a quarter. For Myra, sure. Another woman I'd never seen
before asked us for a dollar. No way. I knew Dame Fortune would replace
the quarter to Myra, but replacing a dollar given to a stranger might have
been pushing my luck. Sure enough, later after saying goodbye to Ryan, a
cart was waiting at the bus stop and my Colt money was in hand again.
I decided on a new routine, since the Deaf Guys Club has made the
cloisters a less than perfect late evening reading venue: get the brew
and have it elsewhere, go to the cloisters only when ready to jam in the
earplugs and sleep. It worked out fine. I continued that very funny
Rudnick book, drank my beer, got to the cloisters and sure enough, the
D.G.C. was still in swing at eleven o'clock. But the glow from the beer
and the earplugs and the late hour made for a rapid descent into sleep
And then I woke up and it was the Last Day of the Second Year.