the year of the horse

out all over
939-941
942-944
945-948

cotton jumpin', fishes high
949-962
963-973
974-977

finale of the fifth
978-985
986-989
990-993

939

Zu hilfe! Zu hilfe!

That little radio more than paid for itself Saturday afternoon. I had no idea what the weekly opera broadcast was going to be, spread my beachtowel in the shade of the huge banyan tree at the beach park and tuned in just after the overture had begun. "Ohmygawd," I said to myself, and went into that other, more special world to which only Mozart at his best can supply the ticket. The most magical Magic Flute.

I'd make a fool of myself if I ever have the chance to again see it in an opera house since I can't stop the tears from falling. Joyous tears, for the most part, but also, this time, some tears that have been wanting to fall for several weeks now.

If I were forced to spend the rest of my life hearing only one piece of music, that would be it. And that made me think that perhaps I actually deserved to lose two CD players, since I'd never made the best use of either.

The Fabled Pension Check arrived on Friday. It's almost all gone already, as I knew it would be. Half for the mailbox, some for essential shopping which can't be postponed, the rest for beer and food and Top. I did grin when I realized that, for a little time, the Sleeptalker will have more money than I do since he'll undoubtedly sell his foodstamps when they arrive on Monday.

I saw that most admirable young man briefly Saturday morning. I was waiting for a bus after a visit to the State Library and he came walking along with another young man who, as he told me with obvious delight, is a long time veteran of Seventh Circle, although also one who has been driven away by the arrogant Boss Lady there. He didn't look at all like I would have guessed, seemed very shy. We didn't talk for long because the Sleeptalker was headed to the Black Hole for lunch. He's finally gotten a haircut, a sort of long crewcut. Adorable. I wanted to run my hand over it and shall eventually, but didn't want to embarrass him in front of the other fellow.

I'd finished the available reading material, James Patterson's When the Wind Blows and Thunder House by Dean Koontz. Despite Patterson's brief introduction claiming the book is not really far-fetched, I think he's crossed over from murder mystery to science fiction in this one. As with all his books, it was nonetheless thoroughly engrossing. The Koontz book was originally published under a pseudonym and he would have been wiser, methinks, to have left it that way instead of allowing it to be reprinted with his real name.

Most happily, there was an Anne Rivers Siddons book at the library which is new to me, Low Country. Splendid.

The first thing I did when I got to campus on Sunday morning was to lay claim to one of those lockers. I can't afford to get a smaller bag right now, but at least I was able to put some of the stuff I don't need daily in there and it's a pleasure to have less weight on my back all the time.

A reader asked me to clarify what I wrote about be here now and I shall do that. It has been much on my mind, but I'll wait a bit for the thoughts themselves to become clarified. Just now I feel as if my mind is in something of a whirl, almost as if I've taken an extended acid trip which clears out cobwebs, takes out long-stored notions and re-examines them ... and throws out a lot of stuff.

At one point in the opera, that extraordinarily beautiful male aria which follows the Queen of the Night's extravagant opportunity, I opened my eyes and the bits of bright sky showing through the banyan leaves seemed to be in the foreground, the comparative darkness of the leaves in distant, dark realms of space. A fine moment.

940

Three times magic. On Sunday I took the less usual route from campus, to the end of the valley, since I needed to get a few things from the drugstore there. On the bus were two teenage lads, fourteen or fifteen I'd guess. One of them so reminded me of my prison buddy, Joe D, that I couldn't help almost staring at him. They were deaf, speaking with their hands. Later, as I was waiting for the bus back to campus, they rode past, shirtless, on bicycles. And several hours later, at the 7-Eleven near the mall, I once again encountered them. One was still browsing in the store, the other was in front of me in the line, and the salesclerk asked if he wanted a bag for his purchases, was puzzled when he ignored her. "He's deaf," I explained, "and so is his shirtless young friend." She thanked me, then asked him with gestures whether he wanted the bag.

Strange, never having seen them before and then crossing paths with them three times. I shouldn't be so damned lazy, ought to learn that sign language.

On Monday more path-crossing. Tanioka has his hair cut short, too, and I almost didn't recognize him when he came walking toward me. He was hurrying to meet a friend so we only talked briefly. He said he had helped the Sleeptalker cut his hair ... I wondered where the money had come from for a haircut. If Tanioka's that good at it, he should be at least a part-time barber. Then later in the beach park, Rocky came along. He really does have a short haircut, almost shaved, and he said Angelo has his very short now, too. Does this mean it's going to be a long, hot summer?

Rocky didn't stay for more than a few minutes since he was meeting his uncle at the mall, and the talk was mostly about Plato. "He tweaked out on the ice," Rocky said, a theory foremost in my mind, too.

And, of course, each day there was the usual chat with Joe Guam. On Monday he didn't have beer money so spent more time with me than usual, almost all of it centered on the subject of alcohol. They don't have any breweries on Guam of any kind, or at least didn't when he was last living there, but the local folk make a strong brew from coconuts. He described the way it is done and I found a web page which shows the method is also used in Africa.

I sat with him on Monday to eat the Krishna food. Once again I'd had little to eat the day before but even so that food was pretty awful. I told Joe not to expect me at the Krishna truck on Wednesday, no way I'm eating that stuff on the day foodstamp money arrives. As it turned out, he wasn't likely to be there on Wednesday either. After a final chat on Tuesday, he went on his way to his sleeping place. A few minutes later he came back. He had to show me. He'd found a wallet with almost a hundred dollars in it!

940a

Well now, well now ... a lawyer/novelist who is a real writer. I enjoyed William Lashner's first book, Hostile Witness but his second, Veritas (nothing to do with Harvard), is better than just enjoyable. My habit is to dog-ear these paperbacks to mark my place, although in earlier days I used to have a fetish about having a bookmarker available before I could settle down to read a book. And I dog-ear at the bottom of a page if I want to quote something. Veritas now has three bottom dog-ears, a record (except for Hesse).

I tried to meditate but I kept thinking of all the things I needed to buy. Maybe it was because my mantra was MasterCard.

...

I am a randomly formed strand of DNA no more significant than random strands of DNA that define the leaf of grass upon which I tread or the cow whose charred muscle I gnaw. I eat Chinese food and crap corn and sweat through my socks and stink and the same DNA that gave me this nose or this chin and my ten fingers and ten toes has also sentenced me to oblivion.

...

I looked around and twisted the doorknob and stepped into another year: 1968 to be exact. Incense, Jerry Garcia, the warm nutty smell of a vegetarian casserole baking in the oven, posters of India and Tibet, earnest conversations, bad haircuts, the thick clinging smell of body odor.


Yes, I like Mister Lashner.

And lest I forget, I also need to say once again how much I admire Anne Rivers Siddons. Her Low Country is a thoroughly admirable addition to the sizeable collection of Southern Literature, right there with Mitchell, McCullers, O'Connor, Williams and Capote (not to mention Faulkner).

Life has gotten rather surreal. Well, more than it always is. The kindness of strangers, the kindness of readers. Anticipation. Surreal.

940b

More generally, how do you select what you'll say in a Tale and what you'll keep to yourself ? Is it according to the importance it has for you when you live it ? Or do you have some kind of idea of the general balance of a Tale, and write only what gives a sense of unity ?

It is intuitive for the most part. As I am living things, I write a tale about it in my mind (a certain defeat to any notion of "be here now", isn't it?). But I don't always end up actually writing it.

Some things are not written about because I'd be too embarrassed to admit them, a very few because I've been asked not to write about it, and some because I'd feel like I was betraying trust. The last makes the Tale of the Sleeptalker much less complete than it could be. And it may even make it harder for some people to understand why I love the man.

Balance? Come now, there are surely enough unbalanced Tales to eliminate any such idea.

I'm the Grandma Moses of on-line journal writing.

941

I went to check the mailbox on Friday after a visit to the State Library. Mailbox empty, so I walked over to the Ward theatres to see what time "The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" was showing on its opening day. There was about an hour and a half until the next show, so I bought a beer and a sandwich, went to the beach park and started reading Susan Howatch's Glittering Prizes, the first book in her Church of England series which I'm reading in topsy-turvy order.

I got so engrossed I then had to make a dash back to the theatre. What a splendid treat it is, that film, and I was more than pleased I'd been lured to it by my admiration for Maggie Smith. Laughs and tears and a musical soundtrack that will make it the first such recording I've bought since getting "Little Mermaid" for Jonathan.

Bob Dylan has written and recorded a new song, "Waitin' For You" for the new movie "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood", opening nationwide on June 7. "Waitin' For You" is the first original song Bob Dylan has written for a motion picture since his Academy Award-winning "Things Have Changed" was featured in "Wonder Boys."

And it's much better than that one, too. He'll be performing in London next week and I wish I could be there.

So that settled one question. Yes, I will get a CD player and that will be the first new CD.

I walked back to the 7-Eleven to get a sunset brew and just as I got there Tanioka came out. He'd been to see Ya-Ya as well. I got a beer for him, too, and we sat talking in the park until it was Black Hole time. Talk of the Sleeptalker, Angelo and Okinawa, Plato. He said Okinawa and Angelo had stolen from him, too, but I guess he's reached the conclusion that friendship is more important. I can shrug off the loss but "friends" like that I can live without.

It surely was good to spend some time with Tanioka, though. And to see such a fine film.

941a

The retrospect has much in it that is humiliating and that calls for repentance; but Christ, in His limitless mercy, has endured me all these long years, and I cannot doubt that He will be with me to the end.

How sweet it must be to have such faith.

I wrote to someone early on Sunday that I feel like a child the week before Christmas, wishing somehow the days would pass more quickly. Yes, I can finally say "next week".

With so much anticipation, a state of mind I am not much fond of, perhaps it's a little balanced by some retrospective thought, and research. The astounding Internet Archive really is making all this into something like the Great Library of Alexandria. They must have prodigious storage space at that site. I was looking at some early version of the Cave there and found a 1997 version of what was then called my Ohana page. Ohana means family in Hawaiian, and after the Kaneohe Debacle I decided it really wasn't much of a family at all, or not one I wanted to be part of (the original version being more than enough any one man should wish to endure), and renamed that page to "Locals". Well, on that antique version I discovered a link to an equally antique panther.html, and on that one the earliest beginning of the Tales. Nestled in there somewhere is the photo of me and Auntie Maria from a party at the Halekulani.



All the photos of Chloe are there, too. A pity they are such lousy scans.

They've also got that sweet photo of the sleepy Jay T. once kept on my page of links to my favorite online journal writers. Not to mention the entire collection of drawings ... who needs a back-up if strangers are keeping everything anyway ...

They don't seem to have the photo of KM2, although it might be buried somewhere I haven't yet discovered. Just as well, he'd probably write them, as he did me, to demand a monthly fee for displaying it.

The retrospect has much in it that is humiliating and that calls for repentance ...

Uh-huh. But some sweet moments, too.

942

New Moon in Gemini, Solar Eclipse. Some astrologers thought this was an especially significant event. Who knows what Cainer thought? He took off for a week, then extended the absence by two days so he said nothing about it. In Honolulu the sun was supposedly about one-half shadowed. I can't say, tried to find something to use as a viewer but they were too opaque (frosted plastic lids from soda cups) or too transparent. I should have tried a Mickey's bottle, but was drinking Olde English in its clear glass bottle at the time of maximum eclipse. The odd thing was, it had been a pleasant, mostly sunny day but shortly after the sun emerged from the partial darkening, a fierce little storm blew through, gusting wind and rain. An enormous branch fell from a tree in the beach park. Fortunately no one was under it at the time. And the campus was littered with debris the next morning. A welcome side-effect is getting rid of most of the berries at the secluded grove where the dropping had already slowed enough to make lunchtime there possible again.

Even more peculiar than the post-eclipse stormlet (which was over quickly, even if did evidently later rain heavily during the night): the day after the eclipse. It was like an intense bout of full moon madness everywhere. People were pushy, hurried and many of them downright angry. It started immediately for me in the bus from the Black Hole to the mall. Despite a number of empty seats, a grotesquely overweight woman demanded to share my seat. I should have gotten up and given it to her, moved to one of the vacant ones, but since I only had a few stops left to go, I suffered. Lesson learned, though, and later in the beach park when I was sitting at a picnic table with four empty ones nearby, a local family walked over and started setting up their barbecue grill at "my" table. I just got up and moved to another.

Lord and Lady Moana and their courtiers were dominating their whole area of the park later in the day with lots of yelling and one rather nasty fight which started just after a taxi zoomed out of the mall against the light and was crashed into by another car. As a finale to the day of madness, at the Black Hole they announced a new dress code. No one is allowed to sleep shirtless, must wear a tee shirt! I grumbled, "you should get air-conditioning, then", a mild protest compared to some that were made.

Meanwhile, after the little storm on the day of the eclipse, I walked over to the park with my sunset brew. Tanioka and Okinawa were there. The first thing Okinawa said was that after "the incident", he had decided he'd never get into someone's backpack again. Well, that would be, I suppose, an admirable addition to his personal moral code. But I doubt he can keep it, doubt that if he knows there is something he wants in a backpack and he has the chance to grab it, he'd be able to resist, especially if smoking the glass pipe. In any case, it's irrelevant as far as I am concerned because I don't intend to be in a situation with him where it's possible. As I had decided to do, I treated him with friendliness but without any feigned warmth (and it would had to have been feigned).

Tanioka was all excited because he'd bought his ticket for the Vegas jaunt in August. He spent almost twice as much as the package tour I'd found on the web, but is confident he'll win thousands so the price of the journey is unimportant. I hope he's right.

He offered to sell me a shiney-red Sony CD player for a $25 IOU. I declined, saying I didn't want to start spending the money even before I've gotten it. I had looked at that (new) model in the shops, knew it was selling for about twice his offer so it would have been a bargain. But I think it is wiser for me to adopt a hands-off policy with stolen merchandise, no matter how much of a savings it would be. (I am just assuming it was stolen, probably by Angelo, but it's not impossible Tanioka had bought it and the offer was a way of solidifying what seemed an effort on his part to play peacemaker.)

A trip to the State Library earlier was a surprise because they had an abundance of new additions to the "honor collection", all of them with Borders price tags making me wonder if perhaps Borders had donated them. In The House Next Door, Anne Rivers Siddons steps into Stephen King territory and although it's a decent enough attempt, I think she'd do better to stay in the Southern realism mode where she truly excels. Next on tap (and about half finished) is Saul Bellow's Something to Remember Me By, three "tales" which are either "lengthy short stories" or "short novels" (definitely lengthy by my standard for a "tale").

Given my well-proven lack of prudence where money is concerned, it's not in the least surprising that there's now a time of empty pockets to endure while the countdown proceeds. No regrets, I have truly enjoyed this unexpected two weeks of living almost a "normal" life, buying cigarettes, drinking as much beer as I wanted, eating hot meals rather than the usual diet of foodstamps-eligible cold stuff. If I can summon up just a little of that missing "prudence", such luxury can soon become the usual way of things. I wouldn't take any bets, though, on whether or not there will be just such a spell of empty pockets before the July SocSec check arrives. Nope, not a chance of taking a bet on that.

942a

Yeah, this is the start of a new tradition, being broke in the middle of the month. Musing upon the subject, though, I realized how fortunate I am with what will be the new rhythm, financially speaking, of life. The SocSec check on the third Wednesday, the Fabled Pension Check on or about the first of the month (which can be tucked away and not cashed until needed), the foodstamps largesse on the fifth. Nicely spaced, especially for someone as loony about money as I am.

Temps perdu. She had been there too long. Staying at the Chelsea was like renting at the scene of the crime. The only crimes I committed at the Chelsea were dropping acid, smoking the weed, and skipping out leaving three months rent unpaid. The latter was really more of a tradition than a crime, though.

It's amusing how publishers frame the paperback of a debut novel with loads of praiseful quotes. The handsomely packaged one, Bless Me, Father by Mark Kriegel, has quite a few raves, pages of them, and all deserved. It's a fine follow-up to the Bellow volume. Saul Bellow writes too well, really. Admiration for his style gets in the way of his stories, especially when they're the tales of old age remembering. A fine collection of shorter pieces, that book, but not at all what I seek at this particular time. Kriegel's book is more like it, especially with its way of taking me back to scenes of my younger days, someone else's memories of the place making it sound like somewhere I never knew.

I'll take Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island, too. And the Village, which in some ways never seemed like Manhattan, probably still doesn't.

I must write to Ed Meneeley, see if he might have some photos of my early paintings stuck away somewhere. Wouldn't surprise me, and it would be interesting to see them again. That led to wondering if the technology now exists to turn 35mm color slides into jpg's. That it does wouldn't surprise me either.

The nice thing about the new set-up at Hamilton Library is that it restores my ability to write on-screen, then print it out. Costs a little money, but then I'll soon have a little money. Too damned little, I've already decided. Well, I can earn up to $950 a month and still get SocSec. I wonder if that means $950 gross or after taxes? And then I thought, yikes, if I did earn that, I'd end up owing tax every year because the SocSec doesn't automatically have tax deducted from it.

Are these ridiculous thoughts for an old homeless man to be having? Quite possibly.

Regulars, regulars. The Mongoose is back again, has turned into a trashpicker, poor fellow. His hair is long and shaggy, no longer dyed in his former Death in Venice fake black, and he looks awful. Still rushes around as he did in the Quarter Hunt days, as if someone else is going to get the treasures from the trashcan before he digs in it. A pathetic loser. (Panther mutters something about compassion for all living beings ... )

In the park, Lord and Lady Moana's new establishment seems to have attracted a whole crowd of pathetic losers and it's impossible to sit anywhere in the area without a steady stream of cigarette-beggars. I fled out after about fifteen minutes on Wednesday. (An echo from Bartle's MUD2, where running away from a losing battle produces the message, you flee out, dropping everything). I didn't drop everything, fortunately, although I felt like dropping that backpack several times during the hot afternoon when bands of sweat form in the teeshirt where the straps cross the shoulders and in a damp patch on the back. Since this Saturday is clean-out time at the campus locker, I put all my so-called treasures back in my burden, which now feels twice as heavy as the lighter version even if that's not really so. Maybe I will get one of those commercial lockers after all, although I might better consider whether anything I put in a locker couldn't just as easily be thrown away? (There would go the notion of a CD player, to begin with.)

Paulo is set to go on a fishing expedition next Wednesday. Some church ladies gave him a bag of clothes and he turns up every day in a totally new outfit. He must be quite unhappy with the Moanas taking over his long-time area, but says nothing about it. A wise move, no doubt, because it wouldn't be too smart to cross the Moanas. I remind myself of that frequently.

Wobbly has disappeared, though, and it's widely assumed he's departed permanently although no one knows for sure and no one knows what his name was so the newspaper obituary entries can't be searched. He reportedly had advanced AIDS and was certainly in dreadful physical shape, his departure obviously imminent. Like the old reader who recently died, Wobbly won't be missed by anyone in the park, especially the cleaning people who hated the way he trashed his area every day.

There's a new regular at Hamilton Library, possibly not homeless. Maybe he just can't afford a computer and a net connection. He's waiting every morning for the library to open, sits with his shoes off, a briefcase and a few tote bags on the floor at his side. I haven't glimpsed his screen yet, have no idea what he does. Droopy is also waiting every morning, as he has for years, and still spends hours and hours at the microfilm readers. Heaven only knows what his project is. Virginia now keeps all his belongings in a baby stroller which he wheels right into Hamilton. He spends hours at the computer, too, doing I know not what. These are the kind of people who are likely to get us all locked into a sign-in routine (already in place at Sinclair Library). They've already posted user guidelines which include the notion that "community users" (i.e., not students or university employees) are granted one hour of computer usage per day and that only for educational, instructional, and research needs. I need to brush-up my alibi about writing my doctoral thesis on the effect of computer games on homeless youth. Uh-huh.

Ramblings in these penniless, beerless days of countdown ...

943

Jonathan Cainer said about Thursday, Don't be unrealistically hopeful today. Quite unnecessary, my dear Jonathan. By the time I got to campus and read that warning, I hadn't found a single coin, not even a penny. I am not superstitious in the ordinary sense of the word, but I do tend to pay attention (usually with a half-serious grin) to "omens". And the number of coins I find in the early morning has almost always been an indication of how "lucky" a day it was going to be.

So Thursday wasn't a lucky day and that was no surprise. But it was decent enough, certainly could have been much worse.

Young people need to make some fashion statement, generally one which will seem incomprehensible to older generations. They are succeeding admirably with the latest incarnation even if it does, to my considerable amusement, imitate the exact opposite end of the age scale. Despite the fact that it's so warm I walk around in shorts and sweat-dampened tee shirt, some young men are wearing heavy jackets, one or two sizes too large, looking like they just arrived from the ski slopes. The fancier and more expensive the jacket, the better. They got style, man.

That the oldest generation also sits bundled up in jackets and coats despite the heat apparently escapes their notice.

One of these stylish youngsters has taken up residence at the Black Hole. It was, of course, inevitable that an obscure object of desire would eventually appear there. After all, the Bad Boys were at one time or another residents. Well, it has happened. A slim young black man, late teens or early twenties, somewhat reminiscent of Mondo ... in fact, something of a combination of Mondo and the Sleeptalker. I did have a brief exchange with him on Wednesday evening when we were standing together in line waiting for a mat. He was fretting about where "Gramps" was going to settle. I don't blame him, said "I don't care where he sleeps as long as it's not next to me." Gramps flails around in his sleep and if you're unlucky enough to be next to him, you're assured of waking several times in the night to push his arm off you, even his leg. Evidently my stylish young companion had undergone the experience and we laughed about the memories.

I'll have to think of a name for him since none has yet come clearly to mind. And I'll have to hope we don't end up on side-by-side mats, too. I don't really need a new Bad Boy and I'm sure he doesn't need me either. Maybe he was the inspiration for the internal jukebox immediately starting up with Billie Holiday on Friday morning. God bless the child ...

Actually, Thursday was a day of obscure object abundance. The new Freshman of the Year was on the bus from campus to downtown. Filipino, late teens, thoroughly adorable. That was the third time I've seen him, and he's the third FotY to start with the summer session. Like his predecessors, he's very likely to go on to Sophomore of the Year, etc. And then, when I went to the far end of the beach park for a shower and some laundry chores, yet another obscure object. That time I might actually have reached a less obscure viewpoint but the place was too crowded. No, not a lucky day. Or maybe it was.

Sitting at a picnic table, my laundry dangling from the edges to dry in the brisk, warm tradewinds, eating a chef salad and drinking a large (23.5oz) can of iced tea ... Paulo comes by on his bicycle asking to borrow two dollars. "Would I be sitting here drinking iced tea if I had two dollars?!" He didn't believe me, thought I was using the tea can as disguise, only accepted the sad reality when I offered him a taste.

In the mall later, plodding around harvesting the ashtrays, I spotted Angelo and the Pathetic Lady, quickly ducked out of sight. Later still, I saw Rocky, strutting along in a purple Jordan tanktop. Funny, that little fellow wearing a Michael Jordan shirt. He didn't see me, which was just the way I wanted it. When this dreadful waiting game is finally over, I won't be seen in that mall for days, maybe even weeks. I'll even change my early morning coffee habit to a different venue. I'm sick of the place.

Pretty fed-up with the waiting game, too.

(By the way, that dress code at the Black Hole only lasted one night. Up the Revolution.)

944

"That crazy fucker." Joe Guam's welcome-back sentiment was probably a unanimous reaction among park regulars to the return of Wobbly. Amusing that the day after I wrote about Wobbly, he was back on his bus-stop bench, more wobbly than ever, throwing trash around as always, not dead yet but surely on the brink.

... you are due to have a surprisingly splendid weekend.

Yeh, sure, I thought when I read Cainer's message. Well, he had some help in making that prediction come true. Readers will recall from long ago, pre-Crazy Money days, how I was shocked, as were the Boys, by the person who would quietly come up behind me in the mall, say "here you go", and hand me some green paper. It was quite a long time before I discovered she was also a reader of the Tales. Our paths haven't crossed in months. When I got to the mall on Friday, I immediately found two strollers. With a dollar in pocket so early in the day, I thought maybe, just maybe, there was a chance for a beer to end the drought. Often people who are parked in the upper garage levels just leave a stroller rather than bothering to return it, so I took the elevator to the top level, then worked my way down, alas without success. The timing, though, was perfect since I returned to the post office area just as my one-time-mysterious benefactor was approaching. Yes, Mister Cainer had help.

Then what a sweet surprise when I checked the postbox on Saturday morning. My benefactor had left an additional melon from heaven there after seeing me in the mall. It's so depressing when opening that box and seeing nothing in it, especially during times when something is expected.

Nothing too exciting, aside from the surprise in the mailbox, on Saturday. But Sunday afternoon I was sitting at the far end of the beach park after having a shower and washing a tee shirt. A shirtless young man stopped by my table, asked if anyone was sitting there. He had an elaborate tattoo on his right arm with some Japanese characters inside a circle. I asked what it meant. "Wake up!" he said. Wacht auf, okay. That's the best such exchange about a tattoo since Mondo telling me the Japanese characters on his arm mean "time".

This young man was from Oregon, has four brothers, one of which is a twin, although not identical. He has been here several years, most of them spent working on inter-island cruise ships. Alas, the main company involved went bankrupt not long ago and he is still waiting for a final payment from them. Then he plans to visit the mainland before trying to get a job either at some resort or on a Norwegian cruise ship. A very pleasant young man and a delightful conversation.

At the State Library on Saturday I found a first novel by an English lawyer, Paul Redmond. Something Dangerous is not a legal-fantasy yarn, though, but a nasty tale about English "public" schoolboys. It was strange to follow that with James Hilton's Goodbye Mr. Chips, as different a book set in similar surroundings as one could imagine and certainly not new to me, although it has been many years since I last read it.

Sunday was also, of course, the Sleeptalker's birthday. I celebrated it with three bottles of Olde English, but couldn't finish the third one. Wimp.

Meanwhile, the waiting game drags on and I hope it will soon be over even if I do realize that my reaction when it ends will inevitably be, "so it's here, now what?"

945

In preface, I do apologize to readers of the Tales for the rather desultory nature of recent efforts. Every morning I pondered the idea of putting up a "suspended for the duration" notice, probably should have done so. But then this is supposed to be a more or less accurate reflection of the state of my mind and the events (or lack of same) in my life, so I plugged on and won't now take the also-pondered option of deleting 942-944.

And with the apology, I must also once again thank those readers who helped make this long-dreaded time pass more comfortably.

What creatures of habit we are. Pavlov could just as easily have used humans in his experiments. It is so strange to be walking around without a backpack. I normally stop in the small stand-up computer lab in the early morning before the library opens, put my backpack on a shelf below the computer, get my glasses out, then return them to the backpack when I've finished. So on Thursday morning, after putting the backpack in a locker, I went to the lab. When I finished, I reached down to put my glasses in the backpack. Which wasn't, of course, there. Good grief.

Sneaky buggers, those SocSec people. The magic envelope had probably been at the post office for a couple of days, but in very large type on the front of the thing it gives a DELIVERY DATE. So, okay, novice that I am, the first lesson learned is to not waste my time checking the mailbox a few days before the due date. Of course, the confounded thing could still be late. At least there are no third-Wednesday holidays for the rest of this year.

The friendly young woman at the mailbox place cheerfully greeted me when I walked in on Wednesday. I was earlier than usual because I'd been to the State Library, was crossing the street to the bus stop intending to return to the mall, thinking it was too early to check the mailbox. I spotted Angelo and the Pathetic Lady, did a quick turn and changed plans. I knew from the greeting that there must be good news in the box, and there it was. "I know you've been waiting for it," she said. Ain't that the truth.

Off to cash the thing, paying $11 for the privilege. With ordinary checks they charge five percent but are "kind" with SocSec checks, only two percent. Only. Yeh, okay, I know, I've got to get the banking thing sorted out somehow.

I had already drilled myself in preparation, telling myself over and over that I would NOT go crazy, I'd do nothing more than I ordinarily would when the Fabled Pension Check arrives. So naturally the first thing was to buy a bottle of Olde English and cigarettes, head to the beach park to enjoy them while beginning James Patterson's Jack and Jill which I'd found at the library.

The first more permanent item on my shopping list was a pair of shorts, the kind they call "cargo shorts", with lots of pockets. The discount clothing place never has much in the way of shorts so I'd expected to buy trousers and cut them off. But when I went to have a look at Sears, much to my surprise they had exactly what I wanted, and at a forty-percent-off sale price. Cool. The patch pockets on the side are so large I can carry a paperback book in them. Ergo, no backpack. But I will get a smaller bag, mainly to disguise a beer bottle. That task I decided could wait until the following day.

So I changed into my new shorts, bought another bottle of beer (just Mickey's that time) and an early dinner from Lahaina Chicken. That was the one mistake of the day. I think my digestive system must be somewhat in the state it was when I returned from the first journey to the east. I'm used to eating such small amounts that a full dinner makes me sick. And I didn't even eat all of that one, left one piece of chicken and some baked beans for a needier person. It still gave me severe indigestion relieved only slightly by one of those nasty vomiting bouts where part of the spew goes through the nose. Yeeee-ukh.

Thus to my great surprise, the Magic Day of SocSec was a two-beer day!

As I was waiting for the bus to the Black Hole, I saw Helen R. She had been to the newly opened Costco branch, had some DVD's she'd bought there (including the rather baffling choice of Pearl Harbor). She asked if I'd had dinner. Ugh, had I ever. We agreed on seeing a movie during the weekend, later decided upon the talk-of-the-town, Disney's "Hawaiian" thing, since I planned to see one of the early options for "Minority Report" on its opening day, Friday.

Off to the Black Hole for a decent sleep although suffering the monthly affliction usually experienced the day after the Fabled Pension Check arrives, waking too early in the morning and waiting for the day to begin. A weird affliction but a welcome one indeed. I gave up at about four-thirty, walked over to Chinatown and got a bus to Waikiki for "French toast sticks" and a cup of tea from Jack in the Box. As Grace said, "it's a new dawn."

946

What a treasure, the soundtrack from Ya-Ya. I must have listened to the Dylan track about thirty times on Friday. I like it better than anything he's done since Time Out of Mind.

On the second day of the SocSec era, I made a brief visit to campus, then went to Chinatown where I found the small bag I had in mind. A bit silly to buy a tan one since it will soon look dirty, but maybe it's a way of forcing myself to do laundry more often. Then [gasp] I got a haircut. It's the first time in years I've actually gone to a barbershop, but my self-chopped version was pretty ragged and I figured I'd do better to get it cut very short so it can grow in more evenly. It should look halfway decent in about three weeks.

I spent some time looking at CD players, comparing prices, but put off the purchase until Friday although I decided on a Radio Shack CD/FM/AM model, a bit more than fifty dollars. Maybe being Radio Shack will make it less of a lure for thieves than a fancy Sony? I'd been at the far end of the beach park for a shower and a beer, so stopped in Borders to get Ya-Ya and then to the mall for the player. I just wasn't in the mood for opening day crowds so postponed seeing Minority Report, spent the rest of the day in the park reading and listening to the CD, very pleased with the quality of the sound.

At the used bookshop I found Elspeth Huxley's autobiography, Flame Trees of Thika and The Mottled Lizard, quite a change from recent reading and new to me, intriguing and highly enjoyable even to someone, like me, who has little interest in Africa (aside from Egypt).

In the morning, the Sleeptalker was in Seventh Circle, later sent me an email which began: Hope your doing ok. Id like to thank you on everything youve done for me. cause nobody helps me out with computers as much as you do. my family is really suprised at all the things that you flash and stoker has tought me.

And at the bus stop that evening along he came, headed back to Waianae. I gave him a portrait of Ulysses S. Grant for his birthday.

946a

I wouldn't go quite so far as to term it "all's well that ends well", but I really am most pleased with this new CD/radio. The FM tuner is splendid, the best I've had in any of my various radio-equipped phases, better reception than any portable model I've owned. At least I know if this one vanishes exactly what to get as a replacement.

After a brief visit to campus on Saturday morning I went to the beach park with a lunchtime brew, no need for lunch because I'd had a "mini loco moco" at the L&L for breakfast. I would have been happier with a "mini mini", felt guilty for wasting so much rice. Did I explain once before that a "loco moco" is a beef patty nestled in a bed of rice, a fried egg on top, all covered with brown gravy? At L&L one gets the obligatory scoop of macaroni salad, too, which I could certainly have done without.

I turned on the radio, was surprised the weekly opera broadcast was already on, much earlier than usual. Ah, but it was Parsifal. Odd time of the year to schedule it. I only heard about an hour's worth since I had to leave to meet Helen R. and see Lilo and Stitch. I'm not as enthusiastic as many people writing about the film on the net but it was amusing enough, better than any animated film from the Disney Studios since Little Mermaid, and of course had increased interest for those of us who live here since it almost all takes place on Kauai. Animated hula dancers were definitely a new sight.

We ate at the new Costco's "Food Court" after the film and I surprisingly got away with eating a foot-long thing called a "Chicken Bake", large bits of chicken in a firm pastry shell. Given the delicacy of my digestive system recently I was expecting later problems but escaped. I wonder if the problems have more to do with adjusting to eating hot food rather than being purely a question of quantity?

Back to the beach park for a sunset brew, listening to Prairie Home Companion which I'd missed for a sufficiently long time to find it amusing. If I hear that program every week I start to grumble about some of the humor, although almost always enjoying the music. Alas, I have to head for the Black Hole before it's time for the hour of theatre music (and I'm certainly not tempting fate by pulling out the machine in that place).

There is a certain "shell shocked" feeling to life right now and I thought at one point on Saturday that maybe I should just go ahead and spend all the money, return to the more familiar way of things. No need to even think of it since without trying that will happen soon enough anyway.

947

To deceive gracefully is the very essence of social life. One must start by deceiving oneself, and make a lifelong practice of deceiving others; if one does it well enough, in time one might even become an artist, the greatest illusionists of all.

The second volume of Elspeth Huxley's memoirs of life in Africa, The Mottled Lizard, is delightful, as was the first volume. They make me think I should probably spend more time reading autobiographies. She kept me happily occupied through much of Sunday, a day which was otherwise a very restless one. Full Moon, perhaps? Or more likely, just the continuing slightly bumpy road of adjusting to this "new life". A reader writes: All changes of this kind are difficult, no wonder you are disturbed. You would be supra-human if you weren't. You wouldn't leave your fellow humans and become super-Panther, would you ? Most likely, in a little time you'll have perfectly adjusted and wonder what was worrying you (like your first days in India ?).

Is it a plane, is it a bird, nooooooo, it's SuperPanther!

But yes, it will most likely settle down fairly quickly once the novelty has worn off, although I realize this month is in a way just a rehearsal. The full impact won't hit until July since this month I had already spent forty dollars via a loan, had the mailbox rent to pay, and paid for two months at LavaNet, in addition to "unique" expenses such as the CD player and the Sleeptalker's birthday gift. Consequently, July will find me with the maximum available income, something which won't happen that often, I suspect.

Being broke is such a good excuse, but I'll eventually learn to live without it, I suppose, at least for a few weeks each month. Another good line from the Huxley book: The great point about money was to convert it as quickly as possible into something you could use or enjoy. Quite so.

The snag with that is the trap of feeling one should be doing it.

One effort on Monday to convert a few dollars into something I could enjoy was a dismal failure. "Star Wars Episode Two" was okay, "Lilo and Stitch" better than just okay ... but I'm afraid Spielberg strikes out in my book with "Minority Report". Tedious, pretentious. I should have followed an early impulse to get up and leave.

A much more successful effort on Tuesday, though, when I finally restored Dylan's Time Out of Mind to my collection. I'd only had it on cassette before so hadn't heard it since abandoning tape. A true masterpiece.

Tuesday was also a day of unexpected encounters, first with Pedro. He is still working at the Waikiki restaurant, still renting his cousin's sofa as a bed and plans to make the long-delayed journey home to the Philippines in November. Then an even more unexpected encounter in the mall: Kevin Murphy. Ultra-short hair surely is the style this summer. He's such a sweetheart and it was a true pleasure to see him. He's still at Gordon Biersch but working evenings only, alas. (On the other hand, I've thus far managed to avoid returning to life as a bar rat, although I did stop by Manoa Garden one afternoon, so perhaps it's just as well I can't spend afternoons with Kevin.)

On my way to Borders to check prices before buying the Dylan (eventually at Sam Goody, saving the grand sum of one dollar), I stopped at 7-Eleven for a chef salad and a bottle of Mickey's Ice. None of the 7-Elevens are managing to keep Olde English in stock and the manager there told me the distributor can't keep up with the demand. The word about how strong the stuff is must have spread quickly. It was amusing in the recent book I read set in New York City that streetfolk there had already cottoned onto Olde English, but then this sleepy provincial town will undoubtedly always lag behind the Big Apple, at all levels of society.

I had already started to cross the street when I spotted Tanioka and Okinawa with yet another long-time-not-seen Bad Boy, introduced in Tale 775 as the Ice Cream Lad since he was at that time walking around with a cooler, selling ice cream cones to tourists in the park. At one point Tanioka and Okinawa went over to the 7-Eleven to get food, so I had a little time alone with IC, most of it spent talking about Plato. When the other two returned, Tanioka asked me again if I wanted to buy the CD player. Too late, I said, already got one. He wanted to see it. I said I really shouldn't take it from the bag because Okinawa might steal it, too. And Okinawa then claimed it was Angelo who had taken the Sony! How this links with his remark the last time I saw him about never getting into someone's backpack again is open to question. Okinawa and Angelo seem to have had a falling out, probably because Angelo spends so much time with the Pathetic Lady. Eventually they decided to go smoke the pipe. "You don't want to smoke?!" Okinawa asked. Not with you, I didn't say.

Back to the mall then to buy the CD and to get slightly drunk spending the rest of the day drinking and listening. Time out of mind.

948

Jonathan Cainer's message for this final weekend of June begins: Next week you will get your opportunity to let rip. Next week you will get your freedom, your licence, and your big shot at the prize. First though, you have to get through this weekend. Hmmmmm. There's a rather dull sameness about this time, so I suppose "getting through" the weekend will be no great task although perhaps a bit of a (continued) yawn, one which began on Wednesday morning with the always boring task of sitting in a laundromat. I made a trip out to the discount clothing store but didn't find anything I liked better than the things I already have, so a wash-and-dry session was in order. Then I spent the rest of the day at the far end of the beach park, alternating listening to music with reading Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, a routine which continued on Thursday afternoon in Waikiki.

So much fuss and nonsense over the Pledge of Allegiance. I always hated saying the thing in school, didn't care one way or the other when the "under God" phrase was added. Peculiar it has taken so long for someone to (successfully, thus far) challenge it in the courts. What next, will they have to redesign all the currency to omit "in God we trust"?

A reader discovered that the library of the Museum of Modern Art in New York has copies of the earliest issues of Dada News. There was a time when that would have been a most prestigious honor but now it's just a surprise. Nice they spelled my name correctly, though.

A tiny tale which will probably get (a) and (b) amendments if anything happens worth writing about.

948a

Getting through the weekend ...

After traversing once again the arch heights of Ms Austen's epic, I thought I deserved some lighterweight diversion, so on Friday I went to the State Library, took a promising Maigret/Poirot double feature. I'm sure I've read Christie's Dead Man's Folly before but in these cases lousy memory is a blessing and it's always fun to watch her masterful Poirot exercise his brain cells. I'm less sure I've read Simenon's Maigret and the Spinster but it, too, provided a few enjoyable hours. It's odd Simenon was able to write and get published such a droll tale (in the original, Cecile est morte) in the Paris of 1942.

So, much of Friday and early Saturday was whiled away in the company of those two delightful detectives. Then I went to the used bookshop and was most happy to find Maeve Binchy's latest, Scarlet Feather, in the dollar/per/volume selection. I had been tempted to pay the full price for it ... and it would have been worth it.

I stayed on campus most of the day Friday, although not spending much time online. Seventh Circle has yet again been down for several days and I hoped the Sleeptalker hadn't made the long journey in from the country in order to play, although I would have been pleased to see him.

On Saturday I made the mistake of leaving campus too early since the beach park was very crowded and there was the all-afternoon raucous party to culminate this peculiar annual event, Gay Pride Week. Dreadful music from the party could be heard for too great a distance. I shrugged, oh well, you didn't want to hear Hansel and Gretel from the Chicago Lyric Opera anyway. As I tend to grumble every year, I see no reason whatsoever to be proud about one's sexual preferences, whatever they are. Or to throw such tacky parties. I'm inclined to think the "gay community" here is about as tasteless a group as can be imagined. No offense intended, just an observation.

At sunset time Okinawa came along, on his own, looking for Tanioka. They have been evicted from GovSanc2, told they'll be charged with trespassing if caught sleeping there again. I was surprised it had lasted so long as a sanctuary, especially given the climate of terrorist paranoia. Okinawa has shifted to the tennis courts in the park where he's sure to be ousted eventually by the cops. He said he thought Angelo would eventually succeed in getting the Pathetic Lady interested in sharing the glass pipe, an idea which can definitely be labeled horrific. She's so unstable, that stuff would undoubtedly be the end of her.

I was just finishing my sunset brew, so left after a few minutes and went earlier than usual to the Black Hole. I wonder if they'll all end up back there again eventually?

949

happiness is but a state of mind
anytime you want you can cross the state line
bob dylan: waitin' for you

-----

When Jonathan Cainer takes some time off I feel like one of those neurotic ladies in fiction who dread their psychoanalysts taking vacations. None of the people Cainer brings in as replacements come close to filling the void left by his absence. Absurd, given the fact that I'm not all that sure I believe in astrology anyway.

Several of them are acting a bit dizzy about Wednesday's conjunction of Mars and Jupiter. Jeff Jawer at StarIQ says Passion overcomes reason, except when a good plan or solid instincts are in place. That's okay, I could use a little passion ... and heaven knows there's no good plan in effect.

Thursday will, of course, be an offline day and computer time on the weekend will also be limited since the libraries will be closed. "Interim time", already, between the two summer sessions. Enrollment for the fall is reportedly more than twenty percent higher than it was last year. A good thing they've gotten so many new computers since even now, with the much smaller summer population, all computers are frequently occupied by mid-morning. This doesn't much bother me since I am usually at the library when it opens and ready to leave by about ten.

That's the time of the day I've come to find most difficult. What to do, what to do, until it's time to drink a beer. Nonsense, of course. Likewise is the bizarre reluctance I have to spend actual cash money on food. It will be a relief to get the July foodstamps allowance.

Absurd, silly, nonsense. Yes, apt words for this holiday week.

Reviewers of novels often say something like "you'll be sorry to see this one end" and one did about Maeve Binchy's Scarlet Feather, quite accurately too. Fortunately some of the characters are likely to appear in her next book, due in the fall, since she's finally making Quentin's the subject of an entire novel. That's the posh Dublin restaurant (fictional, I assume) which is often mentioned in the current one. I followed her with an also excellent one by P.D. James, A Taste for Death, and then found myself with nothing to read with my morning coffee. The only available option was buying a newspaper. I didn't.

949a

It is amusing, watching the incredulous reactions of glass-pipe aficionados when an invitation to share is declined, and so it was with Paulo when he made the offer on Monday. Kind of him to do so, of course, and I just said I was laying off the stuff for awhile. Another glass-pipe incident was rather less amusing. I was sitting at the far end of the beach park finishing my Tuesday sunset brew when Angelo and RedEye appeared. I asked Angelo where his lady friend was, was surprised when he said "working." She's gotten a job at a suburban supermarket. Most peculiar. He said they'd be back and the two of them walked off toward the showerhouse. Angelo pulled a tissue-wrapped pipe out of his pocket so I'd be sure to see it. A deliberate snub or expecting me to drool? Well, I suppose it was amusing in its own way.

I quickly left the park, ducked into Borders to avoid seeing them again. Helen R was there, browsing through the soundtrack section. That's one store which does thoroughly arouse what acquisitive tendencies I still have left and top of the list was a Boheme with Callas and di Stefano. I suspect it is not the one I have on cassette, probably a different live "bootleg" presumably cleaned up for its CD release. I'd certainly love to hear it but think the $32 pricetag excessive. (I discovered later on the web that it is a studio recording, so I undoubtedly have heard it before.) They didn't have a Magic Flute I particularly wanted, although I suppose the von Karajan one must still be available.

Earlier I'd gone to the State Library, then to check the mailbox where the Fabled Pension Check was waiting, just in time too. It's certainly not going to bridge the two-week gap ahead but at least it postpones ashtray harvesting for a little while. I really must get this riches-to-rags cycle under better control (I tell myself for the zillionth time).

I shall be glad when tomorrow's celebration of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is in the past.

950

I got through the jingoistic bacchanal in relative comfort via the simple expedient of ignoring it as much as possible and avoiding the beach park where crowds had already begun to arrive the evening before to stake out territory. The only party I was even slightly tempted to attend was the "Fuck the Fourth" one but I figured the anti-Bush crowd would be in its way as tedious as the flag-wavers, so for most of the day I just stayed alone on the almost-deserted campus. I would have stayed right through until time for the Black Hole but was forced to make an expedition into more crowded territory to get tobacco, so went on to Waikiki for sunset, escaping just as people started setting off fireworks, and I was already settled in for the night by the time the bigger parties started. The Black Hole had extended curfew until midnight but I didn't know that until I got there and it wouldn't have mattered to me anyway.

Now and then during the day I alternated reading with listening to the radio which was in an expected "patriotic" mode all day. PBS played all the things one expected to hear, Copland, Gershwin, Gould, Bernstein. If they played Thomson, I missed it. One rock station seemed to be playing a version of "America the Beautiful" (Ray Charles maybe?) at least once an hour. I would rather have heard Springsteen's "Independence Day".

I finished A Test of Wills, a first novel from Charles Todd, one of those Americans who write so convincingly as an Englishman that it's a surprise to discover they are American. So on one of my trips downhill for brew I stopped in the used bookshop and found Susan Howatch's Mystical Paths which I'd wanted to re-read after having encountered earlier books in her Church of England series. Someday perhaps I'll tackle them all again in proper order.

An unusually lengthy run of pleasant weather ended the day before the holiday which was more cloudy than sunny and with constantly threatening showers, as was the holiday weather. Except in the early morning it didn't actually rain much but it was always difficult to decide whether to just sit out a brief sprinkle or move to shelter. It's cool for this time of year, too.

Except for the usual brief exchanges with shopclerks, I spoke to no one on the holiday but a woman who came strolling into the secluded grove. I've seen her on campus before, feeding the cats, and she came over to talk, told me her name is Barbara. "Have you seen ...," she started to ask, then said, "oh!" I turned around just in time to see a delightful looking kitten go bounding up the stone wall which forms one side of the grove. Barbara had evidently spotted them earlier and was trying to find out where the mother is keeping them. Barbara is one of the people who round up the cats and their offspring, have them neutered and then return them. Most campus cats have the telltale notch in one ear as proof they've been through Barbara's processing but since that's the second new batch of kittens on campus within a few weeks it's obvious some have escaped her.

At one point while listening to the radio I did pull out the work-in-progress file, as usual first got lost in the new photos of the Sleeptalker which are much more interesting than any of the new drawings. I do miss seeing that man, I surely do. There is a new set of cards in work, probably to be called "Mappa Mundi", but it was too windy to work on those so I put the packet back into my bag after another lengthy stare at the photos. I had half expected to see him the day before the holiday since I thought he might come into town to sell his foodstamps. But if so, he didn't appear in Seventh Circle, at least not in the morning. (It finally returned after being down for days and as always happens after a disappearance was very sparsely populated whenever I looked in.)

So now that I can stop wishing for the dreaded holiday to be over, I can devote full attention to wishing the seventeenth would hurry up and get here. Go ahead, call me a silly old man, I won't argue with you.

951

I was thinking of a sentence which began "anyone who knows me ...", but that's an absurdity since no one does nor have they ever. Including, of course, myself. There's a very good chance, probably better than with people who have actually met me, that readers of the Tales know me best, especially those who are able to read between the lines, as they say. Nevertheless, within its limitations, I'll say that for anyone who knows me, it won't be difficult to understand why Mystical Paths is a special book for me, one of the few contemporary novels I have read more than once (as opposed to earlier works from folks like Hesse and Mann which I find I can re-read again and again).

Howatch's Church of England novels are a special and unique contribution to contemporary literature, I think. Simply as good, engrossing stories they are unsurpassed. But they also have such a splendid collection of truly memorable characters, beautifully delineated. And no doubt of even greater significance, they manage to set forth the widely divergent ideas which have dominated one of the great religious corporations of the world in our times. And those ideas cannot fail to interest anyone who agrees, if not altogether with the theology but, certainly, with the inner urges to achieve self-understanding. Or at least come as close to it as one can.

It was a distinct pleasure to read the book a second time. Little wonder Andrew Greeley admires this series of novels. The good Father Greeley himself has been concentrating his recent newspaper commentaries, with understandable ferocity, on the subject of child-molesting priests. I don't think breaking any of the Ten Commandments is nearly as vile as an adult sexually molesting a child and for a priest (or any "man of God") to do it is truly appalling. Greeley is quite right to growl at the leaders of the Church and the pretty inept way they've been dealing with the problem, too.

Meanwhile, my so-called life chugs along in more or less the same pattern. The unsettled weather continues and I had to abandon lunch in the secluded grove on Saturday to seek shelter from persistent showers. Since I am so obviously susceptible to habit-formed conditioning, I decided I'd try to start a new one. Having to clear out the locker on the first and third Saturday mornings of the month provides a good excuse for a laundromat session, so I launched the "habit" even if I suspect it will be a far more likely victim of procrastination than some of my less useful habits.

Although I very much like the new shorts I am somewhat irked by the shoddy quality. With each laundering, a button falls off. And then the tab on the zipper broke off. When I was a kid, clothing from Sears seemed indestructible (too much so for my liking in many cases). No more, no more. (Add tan thread to the shopping list ... )

That list is already beginning to take shape as I wonder how many things will run out before the shopping can be done ...

951a

The unsettled weather settled on Sunday, unfortunately on the gray, windy and wet side, especially in the university area. The day itself got off to an unsettled start. It is surprising how few of the ever-yakking loonies turn up at the Black Hole. Maybe folks who constantly talk to themselves or imaginary companions are just too crazy to cope with that place (although it's debatable whether people who can cope with it are not the truly crazy ones). But I woke during the night and noticed a young fellow I've not seen before had settled next to me, then at about four o'clock he started jabbering away to himself, once giving a plaintive, loud sigh of exasperation. I looked around, couldn't see any vacant spot I could move to, so gave up about four-thirty and left. I surely am grateful for the open-24-hours 7-Eleven stores, even more so since they accept the foodstamps card.

The young babbler was already there when I arrived Sunday evening and I was grateful my more usual companion had the place next to him, giving me a buffer. For a couple of weeks now I've almost always had a spot next to that fellow, a slim, very pale twenty-something man who reminds me of my English lover from the 80s, fortunately not enough like him to inspire lustful yearnings. He sleeps shirtless, though, and with provocatively thin shorts, a much better vision when waking than the majority of the residents. He's one of the regulars who disappear for a few days each month, so he must be getting Crazy Money and his last name probably from M-Z. I hope the babbler doesn't drive him to another area since I do like sleeping near the whirring sound of the big floor fan.

The new black lad (who does indeed inspire lustful thoughts) was standing at the top of the stairs when I arrived and there was a peculiar moment when we looked directly into each other's eyes. Some kind of recognition without recognizing what it was, so to speak.

It was a quiet weekend, spent mostly on campus reading, with not much online time. I followed the splendid Howatch book with a surprisingly mediocre one from P.D. James, Cover Her Face. From a less admirable writer, it would have been okay. Then a truly weird novel, The Ninth Buddha by Daniel Easterman, intrigue and mysteries in Tibet and India, early twenties. Very nicely written but certainly one of the more bizarre plots I've come across.

On both Saturday and Sunday evenings I went to the beach park for a sunset brew. The Moanas were missing so I stayed at a table in their area, consequently had chats with Joe Guam as he walked past on his way to his sleeping sanctuary. He was fuming about "the fucking Japanese" on Sunday night since a large group of them had set up a picnic in his area of the park (and presumably hadn't offered to share any food with him). He hates the Japanese, he said. "You've picked the wrong place to live in that case," I pointed out, but I can understand how he feels. I sometimes think of that successful best-seller of the late 50s, The Ugly American, and think how someone could no doubt do as well these days with The Ugly Japanese, thoughts inspired (despite my overall admiration for Japanese culture) by how crass and pushy they are when in the small armies of tourists which trample through this place.

Joe had missed seeing his benefactor on Friday (although funnily enough I had seen the man for the first time, making a delivery at 7-Eleven from his Heineken truck). So Joe was down to his last two dollars. No help from me, alas. My only task now is to decide whether it's best to just go ahead and spend the last ten dollars or to decide which of the next eight days will be beer-free ones and limit it to one on the others.

The monumental questions of life ...

952

There are three "family restrooms" at the mall, each a private room with toilet, basin, bench and a table presumably meant for changing diapers. One of them is beginning to become quite a memorable spot in my life for various reasons including sex and the glass-pipe. But useful and appreciated as it is, I do not recommend rolling around on the floor wearing light tan shorts, even if it's a small price to pay for a delightful time with a charming young stranger who thinks I am "sexy". I think he is, too, and wonder if I'll ever see him again. I know, I said I don't need any new Bad Boys, but there must be exceptions and he's the first.

I also wonder what his name is.

As for that other question I recently asked, well, I guess I am a natural born follower of Shinran Shonin and need no convincing to live each day as if it's my last so, yes, I went ahead with only a slight touch of the brakes on spending money and now am sentenced to six days of utter poverty. There is no need whatever to ask "and whose fault is that?", no need at all.

My final purchase (for the duration) from the used bookshop was an amusing murder mystery set in Hollywood in the late forties, Diane Shah's As Crime Goes By, and then it was back to the State Library's freebie collection. I've somehow missed Lilian Jackson Braun's The Cat Who ... books so was pleased to see The Cat Who Said Cheese and greatly enjoyed it, laughing several times at her very accurate descriptions of cat behavior. And her setting, four hundred miles north of anywhere, seems to have much in common with the Lake Woebegone from Prairie Home Companion and is portrayed with the same kind of droll humor. I look forward to reading more of the series (about 24 of them now, I think). Now on to M.M. Kaye's Death in Zanzibar which I think I read a long time ago even if no memory chords are struck.

I decided to avoid Olde English malt liquor in "normal" times (which is to say when I have money in pocket which might more accurately be called "abnormal" times). I don't drink to get drunk. If I did, I'd just buy those enormous plastic bottles of cheap vodka. But I like to have a beer at hand through most of an afternoon even if that means buying three bottles of Mickey's or Colt. If I do that with Olde English, I am plastered by sunset. So better to leave those potent bottles on the shelf except, of course, in these near-penniless times when one O.E. replaces two or three weaker brews. It's very difficult to stretch it out, though. I don't know how Old Joe manages to keep one bottle going all day.

After the visit to the State Library I checked the mailbox and there was a welcome letter from Felix. He continues to plough through the printed edition of the Tales, is now into the third volume. He grumbled about my mis-use of "moreso" and that web page agrees: it's two words. Live and learn. I really didn't know that. So I went through all the Tales and corrected it (unless I missed any). Praise be to pico and its search facility. Felix also complained about my mis-use of "like I" but I'm less clear about his meaning. Surely it is not always "like me", could it not be "like I" if an unstated but implied verb follows? Grammar is a bore. But in any event, as I shall tell him, if he can wade through all this stuff and have no greater complaints than those I feel both satisfied and flattered.

Another reader discovered I am listed in Who Was Who in American Art, 1564-1975 (Falk, Peter H. and Lewis, Audrey M.), so I went looking for it at Hamilton Library. Evidently the original version of this epic was in 36 volumes [!]. There is a one-volume edition which I didn't make but also a three-volume edition which states merely that I am (or Was) a sculptor, address: NYC, and only one exhibition listed, the Whitney Annual of 1996. Oh well, at least it proves, more or less, that I haven't made it all up.

I'm not making up the story that begins this Tale, either, but I will admit it almost seems like a dream the morning after.

953

The weather guessers got it all wrong on Wednesday. Instead of the predicted sunny day it remained mostly cloudy and uncomfortably humid. After staying on campus for most of the morning it was time for another visit to the State Library where, bad timing, the selection is pretty sparse right now. Another bit of bad timing is the return of the younger half of the one-time Airport Couple. He's staying at the Black Hole but also visits campus almost every day. Neither particularly bothers me, but he does raid the ashtrays on campus. Okay, that will only bother me for a few more days, but I wouldn't have minded if he'd postponed his re-appearance.

Speaking of timing, the "watch" I have is dying. It isn't really a watch but a small digital clock which I carry like a pocket watch. Helen R bought it for me quite a long time ago and it has been very useful since it has large numerals and a light. The button to set the thing, though, is right on the front and frequently got pressed without intending to, especially during the night, so I put a drop of superglue on it and have since then been stuck with the time even though it has long been about seven minutes fast. Now I guess the battery is failing and it is losing about an hour a day. By Thursday morning it was seven hours behind, so at this rate it will soon be giving relatively accurate time ... for a day anyway. One more item for that shopping list.

Earplugs, too. I didn't buy new ones last month and so they are used to the point where they become quite ineffective. A dreadful behemoth of a man has started sleeping in my usual area of the Black Hole and he has the irksome habit of giggling in his sleep (but totally lacking any of the Sleeptalker's charm). First a babbler, now a sleepgiggler. Weird time in the Black Hole. But there is another obscure object newly arrived. I wish he'd taken up space in my area instead of that behemoth, although I'd probably lose more sleep if the young one were there than I would from awakening giggles.

After the State Library I went to the beach park and had a shower, washed my tee shirt and then spot-washed the worst smudges on the shorts since I don't have another pair in my bag and can't do a complete wash without sitting around in them wet, not a good idea on a humid, cloudy day. Then miracle, a stroller at the mall! So the expected drought got postponed for one day since I had a small stash of quarters (intended for use with the locker) and that find pushed the hoard into the beer-buying range. Now I'm stuck. If I want anything from the locker, I'll have to carry it all around until payday. I don't think there's anything I'll be wanting that badly.

So back to the beach park with the brew and then to eat the Krishna food which was a little better than it has been in recent weeks. Even Joe Guam agreed.

One thing slid further down a possible shopping list, although it was not ever really on one (just an occasional thought). The Younger Half has a Game Boy Advance. He looks so silly sitting there intently pushing buttons that it has put me off the idea. I'd have to play with the thing in a toilet stall or something because I wouldn't want to be seen looking that moronic.

953a

How on earth did I manage to survive those years before the hospital episode introduced foodstamps and Crazy Money into my life?

A dominating thought on Thursday, the first day of the dreaded drought and, as the Oracle of the Coins predicted, not an especially lucky one. Maybe Friday will be better ... twenty-six cents before seven o'clock in the morning! (And another one about an hour later.) Only eight pennies on Thursday.

I hate Thursdays at the Black Hole, having to stand in line outside waiting for the A.A. meeting to end and then having to endure an hour-plus of the WWF wrestling extravaganza which must be the most inane thing on this inane thing called American Television. But at least I did get there early enough to grab one of the thicker black-covered mats and get my favorite spot right next to the big floor fan with "Reg" beside me. "Reg" not because of Reginald (although the name would suit his very English appearance), but because he's my Regular sleeping companion. Gott sei dank, the sleepgiggling Behemoth evidently decided he'd rather be in the path of the fan's breeze than beside it, and the Babbler wasn't in residence, at least not until after I fell asleep. I had hoarded a few tabs of Remeron, not for a rainy day but for a beer-less one, so getting to sleep was no problem despite "The Rock" raving away on teevee. Another missing one was Jude ... Jude the obscure ... object of desire, the young black lad.

As usual, I started the day on campus, was delighted to discover that I can use MSIE on the iMacs at the little computer lab to see young Cheyne's page properly. It refuses to display on the antique Netscape version they have all over UH. So I was able to catch up on the photos he has been adding recently although I still like the one best which I added to my Reading Room page. One of these days I must meet that fellow, but we'll leave it in the hands of Dame Fortune unless I finally work up the nerve to invite him to dinner.

I worked a little on my Hawaiian Islands page, too, even added a small "gay" section. Speaking of getting up the nerve, when will I finally do so enough to attend one of the Long Yang Club's picnics? Not this Saturday for sure. I'd have to use foodstamps to buy something to take along and they've already dwindled too much. Sixty-six dollars just doesn't go very far, especially when you spend about three each day on morning coffee and a snack.

The Ferret was on campus and I talked with him briefly. He's found a place in Chinatown, the same sort of set-up Mondo had, one room with a basin and a small fridge, shared toilet and bath with other units. Three hundred a month. I could, I could ... but yeukh, that's a ridiculous amount to be spending for such an arrangement. Shared, it would make sense. I'm not sure how well it would work out with the Ferret (or even if he'd be interested). With Tanioka, certainly. Send that thought up to Dame Fortune and let her play with it awhile ...

The Ferret asked a lot of questions about the Black Hole, so I think he must be tempted to quit spending so much on rent and give the place a try. He seems most worried about the possibility of physical violence. Not with those hefty guards they have there. And the automatic sentence of permanent expulsion helps to prevent it, too. Even so, it is surprising to have been there a year and only once seeing a fight almost occur. If they'd just assign us permanent floor positions I'd really have little to complain about.

I'm so out of practice at playing Mall Rat that I got quite tired and bored by it on Thursday. But the tobacco hunt was as unlucky as the coin one so I had to keep trudging on. It's that Younger Half's fault because I usually have a full box of lengthy snipes just from campus alone. I saw Rocky in the mall, but he didn't see me. He's so busy maintaining his cocky strut that I don't think he notices anything unless he runs into it. And after dodging Joe Guam once, I ran into him again, had to listen to him brag about someone who had just given him eight dollars, not the kind of story I really want to hear when my own pockets can't even finance a cheap bottle of beer.

Well, I wonder if this would work? Postpone all "luxury" purchases until the next SocSec check arrives, presumably thereby having sufficient funds for entertainment throughout the interim. Okay, I might try that. Except for the Springsteen CD.

954

The Oracle of the Coins was a bit over-enthusiastic on Friday, I think. Not that it was an unlucky day, not at all, but it wasn't so lucky as to justify that 27-cent omen. The tobacco hunt was somewhat easier than it had been the day before and abandoned food was so plentiful there was no need to partake of the Krishna handout. Then as I was on my way to catch the "home" bound bus, I found an abandoned stroller, making the total financial haul of the day seventy-seven cents. At least that restored (temporarily, as it turned out next day) my ability to access the locker if I felt the need to switch tee shirts.

It wouldn't be because the current one is dirty, since I yet again washed it during my Friday beach shower. In the summertime, a tee shirt is likely to wear out just from the necessary washing (even if the tee's right shoulder doesn't wear out first from the bag strap rubbing over it).

The reading entertainment for the day was Richard North Patterson's Protect and Defend which could be called legal/political fantasy but may be close enough to reality for "fantasy" not to apply. By the time I finished it at sunrise on Sunday, I thought the only people who could regard it as fantasy are those who believe American politics couldn't be that dirty. I'm not one.

On both Thursday and Friday nights there was a brief exchange with Reg before settling down to sleep. The place is once again so crowded it is wise to be there when it opens to sleepers at 7:30, meaning I have to take the 6:45 bus from the mall, a ridiculously early end to the day. Reg does what many do, grab a mat, put something on it as a marker, and then leave until the ten o'clock curfew. I'd do the same (at least when I once again have money) but wouldn't know what to do once outside. Someone should open a bar at the nearby Dole Cannery complex. If a movie started at just the right time, I suppose I could see it and dash back in time for curfew. Otherwise, there's no bar nearer than Chinatown which is a little further than a walk to and fro would leave much time for a drink. And I certainly have no desire to wander around K-Mart for a couple of hours.

So I take the easier way out, drape a corner of my beachtowel over my eyes and go to sleep. On Friday night the background sound was some weird-sounding film about Moses in Egypt with some Arabian-influenced music. Strange, but infinitely better than WWF wrestling and the second-worst horror, a comedy show with laugh track. Saturday night's offering was Romeo Must Die with a soundtrack much worse than the voice of God intoning "I am that I am."

And on Saturday, Mars moved into Leo. Ta-da! Rick Levine said: This is a change of pace for you and indicates an abundance of energy in your life. You'll be able to accomplish many things. Have fun with it, but try not to use this energy only for partying. Party pooper. Why ever not? A month-long party in the summertime sounds like just what I'd order for myself if I were my chief advisor. Hmmm, wait a minute. I am.

Leo is going to be a busy slice of the Zodiac. Mercury arrives there on Sunday the 21st, the Sun on Monday the 22nd. Then Jupiter on Thursday, August 1st, for a year's stay. My old friend Felix will be hopping.

I would happily have remained on campus all day Saturday if I'd had a pack of cigarettes in my pocket. That, alas, not being the case, I went to the mall, made a round of ashtrays and then went to check the mailbox. Two letters from the social worker, the first, expected, telling me my foodstamps authorization ends after August and they will be sending me an application for renewal. Once again I wonder why these people waste so much money on postage, why not just send the damned application to begin with?

The second letter gets the Monty Python Prize for Silly Mails: "You have not taken any money out of your EBT cash account since 5/25/2002. If you do not begin using your balance of $.04, the money will be returned to the state on 8/23/2002."

955

Oh brother, I'm on the precipice of falling in love again. Never wanted to, can't help it ... and etc. That new sweetie at the Black Hole has me hooked. I've thunk and I've thunk but can't come up with a name for him yet. I got there early on Sunday night. Reg was a few places ahead of me in line, grabbed his usual place and I quickly took mine, in between him and the fan. "Haven't I seen you somewhere before?" he joked. I was going to say something about how we're becoming roommates but thought that was too bold, so just said something lame like "it's getting to be a habit." Eventually I'll get nervy and tell him he's a nice sleeping companion, which he is.

The new sweetie settled directly across the room from me and I watched him go through his routine of settling down. He's a little guy, reminds me of Plato (Plato2 was one thought for a name). He has dark, short and slightly curly hair, wears glasses and is a reader. I wished I could tell what the title of his book was but rejected the ploy of making a trip to the bathroom so I could walk past him, although I enjoyed that walk next morning, seeing him looking so angelically still asleep.

Well, it was inevitable, as I've said. If all the Bad Boys were one-time residents, the Black Hole was sure to produce worthy successors. This one is actually cuter than any of them, Sleeptalker included. Even the almost as desireable Jude got little attention when there was the option of the new one to watch. Heaven help me.

Cainer had said the weekend would be more pleasant than I expected. Since I hadn't expected it to be pleasant at all, I suppose he was accurate. As has happened with uncanny consistence, these beer droughts tend to end on the third day and so it was this time. With the stroller found on Friday was added the proceeds from two found on Saturday. Not enough for one of my beloved forty zones of malt liquor, but I did have 24oz of Budweiser for sunset on Saturday, and it surely was welcome.

Otherwise, it was a weekend of the usual routine. Mornings on campus, spending more time online than I would have in more affluent times. I got my new warrior, Groat, to level 39 in Seventh Circle, considered for the first time actually playing him all the way to the top. I worked on checking links on the various Cave sections, added a few new items here and there, and I caught up with all the journal keepers I regularly read. I even went back and read Cheyne's archived entries, chuckled over his rant about the homeless, thinking honey, if you knew some of the homeless dudes I know, I bet you'd change your tune.

Next in line for reading material was Norman Bogner's 7th Avenue, a rags to riches saga in Manhattan in the thirties. I'm a pushover for books about Manhattan, so it's fine entertainment especially in my current mood which won't tolerate anything too profound. Too busy thinking about myself, tedious though that may be.

Each morning, in my best Pollyanna mode I ignore the current day and the half-day at the end of this mess and say "only [x] more days". How sweet it was to wake on Monday morning when [x] = 1.

956

Groan. Hangover. A person who goes some days with little or no alcohol shouldn't leap back into the swing with more than two bottles.

The lovely piece of paper from SocSec was in the mailbox and after cashing it I went, of course, to buy a beer and cigarettes, spent the rest of the day at the beach park. Sears still had the shorts on sale so I figured it was better to spend another $14 on new ones rather than fiddle about sewing a new zipper in the old ones. If this pair start falling apart as quickly as the others did I'll never again buy anything made by Canyon River Blues. (Maybe they don't know how to make brown clothes properly?)

There is one of the pushcart things at the mall which sells watches for $10 so I bought one of those, not expecting it to last much longer than the shorts. But it's nice to know what time it is without having to make a mathematical calculation. And I bought a chain from the Silver Rhino so I can wear the Dutchman's opium holder again. So much for not buying any "luxury" items.

I stopped at the State Library before checking the mail since the used bookshop always has special discounts on the weekend, so I figured I'd get something free to last until then. Steve Thayer's Saint Mudd is, so far as I can recall, the first book I've read which is set in St. Paul, Minnesota. It doesn't sound like my kind of town, to say the least, but it's a fairly amusing book.

So I made it to New Dawn, Act 2, without anything seriously running out except my patience. The foodstamps did bite the dust, though, and the batteries are too weak to power the CD player but the radio still works. There's a new "Classic Rock" format on one of the stations which brings back many memories. They don't play enough Stones.

Joe Guam stopped to chat twice, asked if I'd eaten Krishna food. I told him no, but I should have instead of wasting six bucks on a "Mexican" meal from the mall. That's the worst so-called Mexican food I've eaten since Tijuana.

Jonathan Cainer's messages this week have me puzzled.

956a

I made the unusual trip further into the valley from campus, did almost all of the essential shopping which was left to do. The store was sold out of Mickey's, so I had a "Cobra" for my pre-lunch drink, then followed that up with a Heineken at Manoa Garden to celebrate once again wearing the Dutchman's opium holder on the chain around my neck. Along with a bowl of watercress and chicken soup.

Every now and then I check google.com to see if any of my old friends have surfaced on the net. I was astonished, truly, to see:
Egbert Switters
Managing Director
ING Trust (Nederland) BV


Can it really be???

I sent an email to ING to enquire. Oh yes, after all these years the torch still burns. The Dutchman and the Sleeptalker. Life has been good to me.

956b

If the rest of Bruce Springsteen's The Rising CD is as good as the title track it's likely to replace Nebraska as my favorite. I bought my very first "CD single", muttering something about how they can sell a "single" CD for two dollars when it must cost as much to manufacture as a "full" CD. There are two songs on it, The Rising and Land of Hope and Dreams from the Live in New York City CD which I haven't heard. I'm not too crazy about that one, but played The Rising numerous times.

Thursday was a day of minor disasters. Cainer had it all wrong for this Aries person anyway. I discovered I've lost my mailbox key. How embarrassing. Then I thought I'd listen to Four Saints in Three Acts only to find the disc has gotten so dirty it won't play. I bought a "fix-it" kit from Sam Goody and will try to play disk doctor on Saturday. Carrying CDs in a plastic bag, sandwiched between the original cover sleeves, doesn't seem to be a very good idea. But I certainly don't want to carry around those plastic boxes they come in.

Dinner from the pseudo-Cajun place, Orleans Express, was another minor disaster. I think maybe I should just stick to salads and sandwiches (even if I do have a slight yen for a plate of spaghetti).

And of course, the Black Hole was its usual Thursday night disaster. If the weather hadn't been so unsettled, I would have taken my chances and slept in the park. I was glad I hadn't when I woke up Friday morning and saw evidence of how hard it had rained during the night. I got my favorite space between the fan and Reg, stuck my (new) earplugs in and fell asleep despite the hideous sounds of WWF wrestling, then was awakened by the equally hideous sound of a laugh track show which followed it. They must give those people nitrous oxide.

The Babbler was on the other side of Reg but if he indulged in his one-sided conversation it was quiet enough not to disturb me. But when I made a get-rid-of-beer run during the night I was intrigued, to say the least, by the front of his shorts. That boy surely is well equipped for such a little fellow. I saw Jude only briefly when he dashed in, grabbed a mat, and dashed out again. And the other sweetie, whom I've decided to call Luke, wasn't there. Smart man. I should investigate the hostels, see if I could get a dorm bed in one on Thursday nights. Or maybe just make Thursdays a stay-up-all-night event?

957

The more I think about it, the more I appreciate the psychologist's wise advice at our final meeting. "Relax and enjoy your retirement."

I am amused, and slightly amazed, at how different life is without psychoactive drugs. The ups and downs are far sharper but can change within hours, if not minutes. The urge is there to swallow another pill, but what the hell, all things must pass. And I certainly don't intend to spend real cash money on prescription-type dope. Other kinds, maybe.

But withdrawal, if that's what it is, from Neurontin is quite odd. Kory K asked me on Monday if I was drunk already or on drugs. Nope, just in withdrawal, although I felt slightly drunk or doped, 'tis true.

I finished that rather sordid novel about St. Paul, Minnesota, and went on to an elegant English murder mystery, Colin Dexter's The Wench is Dead. He starts each chapter with splendid quotes. Thus far, my favorite is from Voltaire: Thought depends absolutely on the stomach; but, in spite of that, those who have the best stomaches are not the best thinkers. I suppose I can take some comfort from that, given the current apparent weakness of my digestive system.

Or is that part of withdrawal too?

I sent an email to the Sleeptalker, telling him I wished he came into town more often because I really miss seeing him. And I'd like to share my good fortune with him, too. Nobody else in this world I'd rather share it with. Then I have to grin, remembering Mme. DeCrecy's description of him as a "plat de jour". Surely is one LONG day.

(I think I probably need to go through the Tales and correct inconsistencies on how I spell "Mme. DeCrecy", but then I'd have to check Proust again to see how he spelled it.)

Well, I really should read those confounded books from start to finish. I always start again from the beginning, must have read the first two at least four or five times.

I gave Joe Guam my radio on Thursday, with a brief lecture on how to use the thing. He seemed very happy with the gift but it wouldn't surprise me at all if he eventually trades it to someone for a bottle of beer. Wouldn't blame him, would do the same myself.

I checked into the hostel situation, discover there are a couple where a bed in a "dorm" can be had for $14-15 a night. Yes, that might well be the solution for my Thursday night nightmare.

-----

My erudite French reader informs me it should be Mme de Crecy. No '.' after Mme or Mlle, only after M.

-----

958

Jonathan Cainer has been quite unusually off-track in recent days. Of course, if one goes to StarIQ, enters personal birth data, one receives periodic emails explaining what is happening in the heavens in relation to what the picture was at the time of one's birth (signing up for the monthly "New Moon Report" is also advised, although it is on the site as well). Since emails from that service have informed me about some of the particular things astrologers view as significant, it suggests that Cainer's necessarily general comments are not at this time as relevant to this Aries person as they sometimes are. (At this rate, I may eventually persuade myself that I do, after all, take astrology seriously.)

At that last memorable interview with the psychologist, he asked me why I stay here. "The weather," was my first response, soon followed by "UH". Yes, this is a most agreeable climate, especially for one born in southern climes, and the University of Hawaii campus is a wonderful addition to the life of an old man. This weekend both excelled. Absolutely delightful weather, a mostly quiet and peaceful time on campus.

I decided to treat myself to a Lilian Jackson Braun weekend (yeukh, isn't Geocities an annoying place to have a website?). So on Saturday I had The Cat Who Lived High followed by The Cat Who Knew a Cardinal, finished on Sunday morning, then into The Cat Who Came to Breakfast, with The Cat Who Blew the Whistle still to come. The most money I've spent on books in a long time and worth every penny. Few writers can make me laugh aloud as often as this splendid lady.

And as delightful as Koko and Yum Yum's funny exploits was the good fortune of Tanioka's company at sunset on Saturday. I had gone to a (relatively) new net cafe in the morning because it offered free scanning in addition to its $4.20/hour tariff. So I finally was able to add those new photographs of the Sleeptalker to the Picture Gallery, along with a couple of drawings. Thus it was most apt to see Tanioka, for the first time in too long a one, when I walked over to the beach park from the mall. He'd been with Okinawa but had lost him somehow, was sitting there on his own, unusually without a baseball cap and wearing a tanktop. He said Angelo and the Pathetic Lady are contemplating getting a place together (which would make sense, especially since she can afford the rent) and that Okinawa wants to get a place with him after he returns from the Vegas trip. Hmmmmm. Tanioka is quite agreeable to sharing a place with me but seems to be leaving it up me to actually find the place and sort out the details.

I'd followed-up on that yen for spaghetti by parting with the cold cash for a plate-lunch-box of the stuff, with large meatballs, from Mamma Mia's. The cook preparing it was quite handsome and I enjoyed watching him flip the stuff around in a wok, not what I would've thought was the thing for making spaghetti. The pasta wasn't well-boiled enough for my taste and the sauce was insipid. I'm about to give up on the "Food Court" at the mall (a huge space with long communal tables, lined by little eateries catering to all sorts of international culinary styles, none of which seem to have much relation with the real food of the styles they claim to be). Perhaps I'll give it one more chance with the Hawaiian option, but for "cajun", "mexican", "italian", "chinese", no thanks.

So I nibbled a bit on the raw-ish pasta while talking to Tanioka, then gave more than half of the stuff to Joe Guam when he wandered over. Since there's no free food at the beach park on Saturdays, Joe was well pleased. He had missed seeing his benefactor on Friday, so had spent half an hour crying about having no beer that evening. I took no pity. When the man found that stuffed wallet, he could have at least offered to buy me a beer. Some folks just don't understand the concept of what goes around, comes around. Nevertheless, I did give him the rest of the bottle I was drinking, after he finished the spaghetti, and he went away happy, returned later on his way to his sleeping place when Tanioka gave him the rest of the bottle he was drinking.

The fix-it kit from Sam Goody worked quite well on my scarred CDs so I was able to listen to Four Saints in Three Acts on Sunday morning with it only skipping twice (the instructions suggest trying the procedure twice if the first time doesn't do the trick, so I'll do that). That's such a bizarre work, it truly is. And I love it. Tanioka listened to the new Springsteen cut on Saturday, with no particular comment, and then to a track from Dylan's Time Out of Mind after he asked what other CDs I had. (I didn't think he'd be much impressed by Thomson/Stein.) And I was grateful for the radio on Sunday when there were an unusual number of yakky students in Hamilton Library. I'd rather play on the computer to the sound of "classic rock" than the inane pseudo-Valley-Girl babble of certain young women who seem stuck perpetually in My So-Called Life.

Big wheel keeps on turning, Proud Mary keeps on burning ...

959

Individuals who are attracted to islands, I have observed, are all a little odd, and if they spend enough of their lives completely surrounded by water, they become completely odd.
Lillian Jackson Braun: The Cat Who Came to Breakfast

Having spent by far the most years of my life living on islands, I cannot disagree with that, although when living on the island of Manhattan, one really has little sense of it being one. Likewise with Britain, far too large an island to regard as surrounded by water when actually there rather than seeing it on a mappa mundi. Now this island, Oahu, is a different case altogether since one is rarely without a view of the ocean on the horizon. The Frankenthaler Island, Mountains and Sea.

A man probably in his forties was sitting at the bus stop taking hefty swigs from his bag-camouflaged forty zones of Colt. Not an unusual sight, but it was only 6:15 in the morning. Yikes. He must have been waiting at the store for the legal beer-selling time to arrive. (It's an oddity here that stores cannot sell alcohol between midnight and six a.m. although some bars can serve until 4 a.m.) It was my former custom to wait until noon (or very close to it) before allowing myself to have the first beer of the day, but since my days necessarily end at such an early hour when staying at the Black Hole, I've pushed the limit back to 10:30. Spare me ever reaching the point where I start at 6:15, though!

As often happens with the Sunday bus schedules, the Black Hole bus was late and I didn't get there until a little after eight o'clock. The Babbler had taken my favorite spot between the fan and Reg, another person had the other side of Reg. Rats, I had to sleep in a not-often-used area, a necessity not made any more desirable when some jerk woke me and the man next to me, asking us to move our mats further over. There was ample space available for him, but why bother to argue. I wished I'd been able to move even further over during the night when the jerk turned out to be a Gramps-style sprawler and his feet ended up on my mat several times. Neither Jude nor Luke were in residence.

I left the campus earlier than I should have on Sunday afternoon and went to the beach park. It was swarming with weekend picnickers. The Moanas weren't around, so I grabbed a surprisingly empty table in their area. Joe Guam eventually spotted me. That man really is such a crashing bore. I begin to have sympathy for the Sleeptalker's frequent rudeness to him. Within the space of about fifteen minutes, Joe twice told me the story of a Filipino woman who had given him five dollars that morning ("five singles", he stressed in both tellings). And twice-told, too, was the fact that someone at one of the picnics had given him a barbecued pork chop. Yawn.

He finally rambled off just as I was about to lose patience and abandon the place myself. Later, after a trip to the mall for another beer and a sandwich, I saw him sitting at a table with some picnickers but he soon got up and joined me instead, alas. He had been mooching food from those people, too. After listening to his boring boasts for a few minutes, I just picked up my book and started reading again. That seemed to miff him, since he returned to the picnickers and ignored me when he later left for his sleeping place. Sometimes I wish I'd never been friendly to the man to begin with.

960

From a reader: One of my colleagues wrote once : "Life on the streets is indexed to a moral code that manifests itself most clearly in a widely and frequently articulated phrase : 'what goes around, comes around'. It is the street version of the karmic principle that one reaps what one sows."

"I don't remember having been aware of the phrase until I began to encounter it amongst the Boys, so I think your colleague hit the target," I replied.

He took it from one of the nomads he interviewed, together with the karma line. Another one told him that there were two kinds of homeless people, the "what goes around, comes around", and the "take all that you can get". Joe Guam seems to be in the second category...

Indeed, a paragon of the second type and one who endlessly brags about it. I managed to avoid him on Monday and Tuesday but he was in the mall very early Wednesday morning to buy beer (another six o'clock type customer) and had to tell me about the taxi driver who had given him three dollars. Maybe I should report him to the IRS.

Firmly in the "what goes around, comes around" category, I thought I should repay the favor, took my The Cat Who ... books to the State Library as donations to the honor collection rather than re-selling them to the used bookshop. I was much surprised to find E.M. Forster's Maurice there. I remember placing an advance order with a bookstore when it was first published (after having existed only in manuscript for almost sixty years). I was disappointed then, am even moreso now, although understanding Forster's afterword when he notes that it must now seem like a "period piece". It does but, alas, not an especially interesting one. That kind of sexual repression is one of the more unappealing things about Britain even now. I am sure I would have found it utterly stifling at the time Maurice was written. Perhaps I did in my former life.

Also there was a horse of a different color, so to speak, John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany. I could easily supply those quotable kind of raves publishers slap on paperback editions, easily and with complete sincerity. "One of the great novels of the twentieth century", for starters. And one of the most enjoyable.

Perhaps inspired partly by it, the internal jukebox was stuck all day Tuesday on gospel music, that old-time-religion kind typified in my memory by the Chuck Wagon Gang. I finally surrendered and went to Border's. They didn't have anything by them, but they did have an irresistable collection by the original Carter Family, twenty tracks from 1935-1940, re-issued (somewhat improbably) by Sony Nashville. I sat in the far end of the beach park with a bottle of Colt and the music but just my body was there, my mind was in Grandmother Preston's house, Grandfather Preston's immense wooden rocker with its wide flat armrests beside the tall cabinet housing the Victrola with its door-covered lower compartment filled with round, black treasures. Including many by the Carter Family. I don't think Mr. Preston ever really used that chair as a rocker, can't remember him ever having done so. He must have found the exact angle of reclination he preferred and managed somehow to make it permanent. No one else sat in that chair, although I was allowed to sit in his lap sometimes and be shown his huge gold pocketwatch. He left that to me and I don't remember what eventually happened to it. Probably one more thing that vanished in the Chelsea Hotel fire.

Despite such unplanned "luxuries", the CD purchase didn't throw off the budget I've been trying to maintain, nor did a trip earlier to the discount clothing store in quest of a shirt for next week's party. I bought a silk one in a local-kine pattern although not really what I'd call an "aloha shirt" even if it was considered one by the store's sorters. No, the budget is on track. I wonder if it will stay that way? (Not if I go into Border's again except to get the Springsteen CD.) I did examine all the CD carriers they have and will probably get one eventually. Rather pointless to spend money on CDs if I'm not going to protect them from life in a backpack.

I've had a yearning for plain grilled cheese sandwiches, asked on the newsgroup hawaii.test if anyone knew where they can be found in this town. None of the places at the mall that I've checked, although one person did mention the possibility that something like that is on the "kiddie menu" at California Pizza. Another suggested LikeLike Drive-In, which I've yet to investigate, but I did follow up on a web article which included grilled cheese sandwiches in a report about how Denny's had become a home away from home for the writer, homesick for mainland type food. Maybe she was just using grilled cheese sandwiches as a kind of generic reference to such food. In any case, I checked at one of the Denny's in Waikiki on Tuesday, no such item on the menu posted outside. Oh well, I enjoyed a bottle of Mickey's Ice and a Sourdough Jack instead, sitting in Kapiolani Park where I noticed several people who used to hang out at the beach park, none of them mercifully anyone I've ever spoken with (or have any desire to).

The wretched Younger Half has grabbed my favorite spot at the Black Hole. I think it's probably deliberate. I retaliated on Tuesday by harvesting all the best campus ashtrays before leaving for Waikiki. What goes around .... etc.

960a

I wonder if, as a child, I noted the oddity of a man singing "I'm thinking tonight of my blue eyes and I wonder if he ever thinks of me"? (I change it to brown eyes as I quietly sing along.) Although I haven't heard some of the tracks on this Carter Family CD for decades, all the words are still in my memory banks.

The quest for a grilled cheese sandwich ended successfully on Wednesday. The LikeLike Drive-In (which isn't a drive-in) does a splendid specimen of that mainland cuisine staple. A pity they don't serve beer but they do brew a nice glass of iced tea. $4.27 for a sandwich and tea, plus a dollar tip. I like it that they have a counter, too, since I prefer that to taking up a table when on my own. But it is difficult to go there and pass on their scrumptious hot roast beef sandwich with mashed potatoes and gravy. Maybe I'll become a LikeLike regular.

I'm less pleased with one of the finds at the discount clothing store, though. The silk shirt is fine but for the second time in a row I bought a tee shirt which I immediately decide I don't like once I actually wear it. Last visit's find was too small despite supposedly being a "large". I like my tee shirts long and baggy. The newest flop turns out to be that shade of tan with a slight pink tone which I've always disliked. Under artificial light it isn't noticeable. Oh well, I'll put up with it until it's dirty and then toss it. Can't really complain about a two dollar mistake, especially when made on a Tuesday with the twenty percent senior discount.

Can't complain in the slightest, either, about this wonderful Irving novel. Owen Meany truly is one of American literature's most delightful characters.

961

The dreaded Thursday night at the Black Hole wasn't quite as bad as it sometimes has been. I realized earlier in the day that my always-precarious budgeting effort has been thrown off a little because of, ridiculously enough, spending so much on food. So investigating the hostel-dorm option isn't on during this SocSec cycle. The Younger Half has evidently changed his mind, no longer stays in Reg's area, but my favorite spot there had been grabbed by the Babbler. At least the two I did end up between were not snorers or thrashers, but they certainly weren't anything pleasant to look at either. Still, that pleasure had been thoroughly provided in the time before settling down since both Luke and Jude were in residence. I must be bold one of these days and sleep next to Luke (although I suspect I wouldn't get that much sleep).

The day began with an email from the Sleeptalker. Im busy trying to get my life together and my welfare as usual but someday I will come and visit you with hopefully [Tanioka] there if hes in a good mood. I really miss having fun out there but its just that I have alot of things to do and think about so maybe one day I'll renew my disabled bus pass and fly down and visit you guys. Poor Tanioka! If he's in a good mood? Tanioka told me he thought the Sleeptalker's suspension from Crazy Money would end in August and so it would appear from that mail. He didn't say whether he was using a friend's computer in Waianae or had come into town, probably the former. It's a pity they don't use bus tokens here since I'd buy him some to make trips into town easier, but then he should indeed get a new "disabled" pass. And I suspect his sojourn in the country getting his "life together" will end as soon as Crazy Money begins again.

I made the trip further into the valley for some final essential shopping. At least this cycle I won't have to worry about any of the essentials running out, especially after finding a new cigarette lighter in the secluded grove. Later I found a watch. It appears to be an el-cheapo version like the one I bought so I'll keep it, doubt anyone would bother checking with the campus lost-and-found service (assuming they have one ... I've never investigated). I bought new pens so when I returned to campus experimented with them in a black, red and blue drawing. There's already a set in work using just black, but I like one of the three so much more than the other two that I may leave it as a solo. It has been too breezy to work further on "Mappa mundi"; collage and tradewinds are a tricky couple.

I've been staying on campus until late morning. Then, if I have no particular reason to go anywhere I just sit at the bus stop and let Dame Fortune decide: one bus goes to the mall and beach park, another to Waikiki. On Thursday it was Waikiki, so I got a beer and a Jumbo Jack, sat in Kapiolani Park continuing the splendid Irving novel. There is a gathering of some sort in the park area where I usually sit, beginning in the late afternoon, so I left as those people began to arrive. At the bus stop a local teenage girl asked me for a dollar, was quite shocked when I said no. I should have told her she would have been smarter to send her brother, if she has one. Then she asked for a cigarette and I again said no. "Why not?" she asked. "Because you're too young, you shouldn't be smoking that stuff." Well, since I never ask a stranger for a dollar or a cigarette, I don't have to worry about my ungenerosity "coming around", do I? And seriously, I don't think local young people should be playing the begging game in Waikiki (she probably makes at least fifty bucks on a good day).

Delhi is the only place I've lived in my life where there are more beggars than there are in Honolulu.

962

I couldn't let the buses decide on Friday when I was ready to leave campus because I needed to visit the State Library to return the Irving masterpiece and look for something fairly frivolous to read next. No point in subjecting any serious author to immediate comparison with Owen Meany because they'd lose, even Irving himself (although I did look to see what works of his the library has). And I had to go to the cheap tobacco store, a trip that works well (campus-library-tobacco).

(I'm still avoiding the mailbox place because I dread telling them I've lost the key, not to mention finding out how much that silly mistake is going to cost me. Maybe on Monday ... )

Since the above trip ends at the Moanas end of the beach park, I took my second brew of the day there, had a shower and sat on the far side of the pond reading and waiting for the Krishna truck. Their handout was not particularly good, as usual, but the price is right. I'm lucky to care so little for food, except for occasional cravings like grilled cheese sandwiches or mashed potatoes and gravy. After finishing about half of that stuff (and throwing the rest to the birds, even if it is against the law to feed them at the beach park), I went over to my usual area where I was, of course, soon joined by Joe Guam. I didn't even put my book down, a possible reason his visit was a brief one. He'd missed his benefactor again, was already moaning because he only had money for beer through Sunday. He'd found a large abandoned meal from one of the Chinese places in the mall so hadn't gone to the Krishna truck. Better than Wednesday when he'd said he hadn't been hungry but went to Krishna "just to see what they had" and then threw it away.

He wandered off to the mall and when I later saw him approaching again I moved down to the Moanas area. They weren't there, else I'd have relocated to an even more remote area from Joe. But they soon came along, with Lady Moana in full rant. You could probably hear her half a mile away. When they walked past my table, he waved and continued on, but she stopped to cry on my shoulder. She was about as hysterical as I've ever seen her and the story was a wild mishmash but apparently they got busted for something serious enough that she faces a Federal prison. The only clue to what they'd done was that she "took the packet" from Lord Moana, thus taking the rap for him. And after having done so, he didn't even bail her out! (Little wonder she was raving.) Her children didn't bail her out either, so I guess she just sat in jail until the judge set a trial date and let her out in the interim. Who knows how serious it all is, can't tell when she's in full rant like that. And I'm puzzled by how any crime involving a "packet" could be a federal offense (unless they were robbing a bank which seems quite unlikely).

I gave up at the first chance to get away gracefully and left the park.

962a

A postcard to Felix (web enhanced):

-----

Ugh. To suffer through Arabella just to hear again Renee Fleming. Not since Renata and Maria ...

Renee is doing Traviata in Houston next April. I am tempted to go back to Texas one more time.

More _ so has been corrected in the Tales. Thank you. I didn't know, just as I didn't know about much _ less (which you surely didn't see anywhere). I'm the output of Texas/Arkansas hillbillies, a high school dropout, don't know about grammar Miz Scarlett.

"Like I"??? You mean I should have written "as I" or "like me"?

I see from the web that ESM has twice gotten grants from the Krasner/Pollock Foundation. I took one look at their application form and told myself I'd be wasting time even trying.

SocSec largesse makes life easier ... if only I'd fall out of love* (Arabella is distracting me) with [the Sleeptalker] (5 years and counting) and would grow up. But I guess it's kinda hopeless hoping for that?

-----

* I messed-up writing "love", it looks like "voe" with the "lo" tucked in up higher.

(Decades ago, Felix scolded me for writing "muchless" as one word.)

963

The internal jukebox has gone even more loony than usual, started off Sunday morning with "yes, we have no bananas" and Monday with Romberg's "Gaudeamus Igitur". [Look around again to find out how to pull the plug ... ].

A quiet Saturday spent mostly on campus. I didn't actually "suffer" through all of Arabella, only the first act. When I got the tube of Duco cement from the bag to work on "Mappa mundi" I discovered it had sprung a couple of leaks, always a problem with metal tube containers carried in a bag or backpack. I need to find some kind of protective box to carry Duco in. But I did finish, I think, with the drawing/collage which is probably going to be a one-card work, as are "Scorpio" and the red-blue-black one, "Tanglewood". Three solos in a row, does this mean it's time to consider a slightly larger format?

A Bird in the Hand by Ann Cleeves and Until Proven Guilty by Christine McGuire provided the inconsequential reading material for Friday, Saturday and early Sunday. I wouldn't particularly recommend either unless to a devoted fan of gruesome serial killer tales in which case McGuire's unpleasant anti-hero is a suitable addition to such a collection. A trip to the used bookshop on Sunday yielded a more promising find, Elizabeth George's Well-Schooled in Murder.

Saturday, the Bus Oracle chose Waikiki which, when getting there, I thought not such a wonderful idea although the beach park would probably have been even more crowded. In Waikiki there was a large group of people milling around the "Sunset on the Beach" pavilions, and that odd collection of people who assemble in the park (apparently every day) were gathering early. I think they must be some kind of church group ... The Church of the Kapiolani Banyan? They bring quite a few large coolers of liquid refreshment each day and some food, gather in a semi-circle under the tree and later one person at a time gets up and talks, not loudly enough for me to hear. At first I thought they might be an A.A. group but church seems more likely. Whatever it is, it certainly is a very odd collection.

After an early visit to campus on Sunday I again went to Waikiki for the 32nd Annual Ukulele Festival. There was a very large crowd which filled the area around the Kapiolani Bandstand. An abundance of obscure objects, indeed, but the music was unusually dull, dominated by Japanese, many of whom sound so regimented and mechanical. In about an hour and a half I only heard two or three Hawaiian songs, one of them a dreadful cocktail-lounge-jazz version of "Sophisticated Hula". After the third number by that tedious group I gave up and left, returned to campus for lunch in the secluded grove. Cheese and crackers and beer, a perfect midsummer Sunday lunch. The birds are very fond of crumbled saltine crackers and using them has the advantage of preventing the greedy bulbuls from grabbing everything and flying away, as they do with any piece of bread small enough for them to carry (and for those rascals, half a slice of bread is small enough).

Then it was time for the cheap tobacco store again, so I had my sunset brew in the beach park, as far at the Moanas end as it is possible to get, thus saving me from anything but a brief goodnight chat with Joe Guam. The Moanas were absent when I got there, arrived later with two other people and just waved as they passed by, but Paulo came over to ask me if I'd buy him a beer. I offered him the money but, no, he wanted me to go to the mall to get it for him! I put the money back in my pocket.

I was able on both Saturday and Sunday nights to get the place next to Reg, but not the one between him and the fan which the Younger Half has reclaimed. And on Sunday, Luke was sitting about six feet away from me watching television. He was unshaven and looked unusually grubby although it didn't make him any less desireable. He noticed me looking at him at one point so I told myself to knock it off and go to the safer option of sleep. But I surely would welcome some spontaneous, uncontrived opening to talk to him. Are you listening, Dame Fortune?

964

A reader teased: "I need to find some kind of protective box to carry Duco in." should read: I need to find a protective box in which to transport Duco. A sentence should not a preposition end with. Ha! A perfect example of the way I deliberately disregard rules of grammar even when I know them. I'm just yakking here, not writing a novel. (Lordy, if I were I hope I could come up with a more exciting plot.)

This budgeting game is such a bore. Even if I do manage to be successful at it for a month or two, the sheer tedium of it will probably cause me at some point to go wild and spend all the money within days of its arrival. There is something to be said for the Bad Boys system. Once I realized the plan was slipping a bit, I put on the brakes (at least with food, if not tobacco and beer), and it's back on track now. Well, at this moment anyway. But I'm already tired of thinking about it and there are still three more weeks to go. Then I'll have to start thinking about it all over again. Yes, the Bad Boys may be right.

Very weak tradewinds on Monday made for an unpleasantly warm day and an even less comfortable night at the Black Hole. When it gets hot there is much competition in the supposedly forbidden redirecting of the large floor fans (all of which have 'do not touch' cautions). The place does have overhead fans but one or more of them frequently aren't working, so the three large floor fans provide most of the relief on a steamy night. The one nearest my spot had its direction shifted time and again throughout the night, once causing someone to start cursing about the "focking punk" who had done so, a loud muttering that went on for about fifteen minutes. Summer in the city.

The Babbler had slept downstairs the night before but on Monday had again grabbed the place between Reg and the fan. It's odd that has become such a popular spot. Maybe I caused it by sleeping there so consistently, gave people the idea it was a choice place? In any case, I'll leave the Babbler and the Younger Half to compete for it. I'm not going down there any earlier trying to grab it.

After the morning on campus, I went to the far end of the beach park to have a shower. I remember writing once that the thing I most dislike about "homeless" life is the lack of privacy, and that holds true. But a close second is the seeming inability to stay clean. No matter how often I shower, it seems that within hours I can rub off dirt (or dying skin?) from my body. Spending time in the ocean would no doubt be helpful but I just haven't been in the mood for that routine. Maybe I should get one of those abrasive sponges, scrub myself raw ... or take advantage of the hot showers at the Black Hole, see if hot water makes a difference. (I think I'd rather stay dirty than go for that option.)

The Elizabeth George book is, as usual, an elegant and absorbing tale of murder, in classic British style. She does a wonderful job of painting word portraits of her characters. I thought when I looked at it in the bookshop that it was her first work, but not so. The collection of praise on the opening pages were for her first novel, not for this one, a confusing practice. No matter, I'd be happy to read all of them.

Next up is Joanna Trollope's A Village Affair. I wondered, if I keep reading half a dozen novels every week will I eventually run out of things to read? Probably not. Some of these people seem capable of producing an endless stream of work.

After the shower and a beer, I walked along the beach to where the Krishna truck parks, pretended I didn't see Joe Guam sitting further down the walk, grabbed a plate and went off to eat it (ah, for my grammarian readers, I didn't actually eat the plate, but some of the things which had been placed upon it). Joe, of course, came looking for me, but not until I had almost finished, so I quickly went on my way back to the mall before he could settle down and start boring me. Odd meal. Spaghetti, a few bits of boiled potatoes, plain white rice and a rather stale chunk of wheat bread. The birds got as much as I did, and seemed to appreciate it more. Budget, I told myself, remember budget.

Humbug.

965

Never mind budgetary concerns, I need to slow down a little. Of course, that thought occurred to me while drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette.

My body seems to be rebelling against excessive sleep and I find myself waking between 3:30 and 4 in the morning with nothing to do but think for an hour or so. Not such a bad idea, I suppose, and certainly that's the quietest time at the Black Hole. I just have to get used to it. And I'd rather have that quiet hour in the morning than work from the opposite side and stay up later, become a television watcher.

After the usual early hours on campus Tuesday it was off to Tower Records for Bruce Springsteen's The Rising. It is to his career what Time Out of Mind is to Dylan's, I think, and to say it was worth the long wait is a major understatement. It took me quite a long time (and a set of batteries plus two beers) to hear it all because I kept repeating tracks, especially Into the Fire. Fortunately, before I went through yet another set of batteries, Tanioka arrived.

It is generally assumed that Okinawa is back in prison since no one has seen him for over a week. It gave me a slight shiver to hear the news because it had seemed to me that some of Cainer's more mystifying messages recently might be referring to either Okinawa or Angelo. But then with Okinawa it was almost inevitable. He just pushed his luck too often and too greedily. Given his parole status, it may well be a year and a half before he's seen again, poor fellow.

Tanioka was more twitchy than I've ever seen him, couldn't sit still. Ice craving. Once again I thanked fate for letting me escape a deeper flirtation with that stuff. Eventually Tanioka went off to look for Paulo but I saw him ending up with Lady Moana and one of their friends, an expensive way to get that glass pipe. When he returned awhile later (craving obviously having been relieved), Angelo was with him. He was being his most charming and as I've said before, when he turns on the charm he's a real master at it. It was good to see him in such good form, though, has been too long a time. After a round of beer they went on their way, probably to fill the pipe yet again.

I went back to Springsteen.

The "affair" in Joanna Trollope's A Village Affair was a considerable surprise. I think I was almost as shocked as folks in a small English village would have been. I finished it in the secluded grove on Wednesday morning, then took it as a donation to the State Library where I was delighted to find Cry to Heaven, the only one of Anne Rice's earlier novels I hadn't yet been able to find. No witches or vampires in this one, but the Venetian castrati are perhaps just as weird. I took it and another beer to the beach park since it was Krishna day, but instead of reading very much went back to Springsteen.

Tanioka came along again with a plate lunch box. He said if he'd remembered it was Krishna day he would've saved the money, but after eating (half of) the Krishna hand-out I thought he'd been the smart one. An entire plate of macaroni with a spicey but oddly dull sauce, a stale piece of bread and one of the driest peanut butter cookies I've ever tried to eat. Once again the birds seemed much happier with the so-called feast than I was, and they were welcome to it.

Tanioka had borrowed ten dollars on Tuesday, gave it back to me when he arrived on Wednesday, and then borrowed it again when the ice craving struck and he went in search of Paulo, successfully this time. Maybe this is just summer madness or a reaction to pressure about the upcoming Vegas trip. I hope so, would hate to see him return to heavy use of the stuff ... and the paranoia it inspires.

And Jupiter moved into Leo.

966

Friday was pretty much given over to the social event of the season, Kory K and Sheri's party at Willows. It was my first visit to that venerable restaurant which opened in the early 40s and almost vanished a couple of years ago but was fortunately rescued, renovated, and judging by Friday evening is a grand success. The large room where the party was held reminded me of a private luau I went to years ago, much the same one-big-family atmosphere. Of course, then I was somewhat shocked by how everyone kept on yakking away, seemingly ignoring the music so I wasn't surprised when the Willows diners did the same, at least until everyone had made several trips to the buffet table. Some of the guest dancers (including Sheri) then grabbed everyone's attention and there was finally some applause (long overdue for the band, Kilinahe, which I think is one of the best on the local scene).

As I had the one other time I've seen them, I had to stop myself from staring too long and obviously at Jeff, the steel guitar player. Odd how often I seem to get a crush on steel players.

It has been quite some time since there were that many local on-line people together, some I haven't seen in years. Very reminiscent of the old alt.culture.hawaii Lynch Mob parties at Gordon Biersch (and naturally, the silly "Doc" who inspired those parties was mentioned at this one).

Kory K was much surprised when he saw me filling a plate at his special ahi poke table. "You eating raw fish?!" Uh-huh, Angelo finally converted me. He would have been in heaven at Willows, such fine poke one doesn't find at a supermarket fish counter.

The main reason for the party was to celebrate Uncle Bob and Auntie Maria's permanent relocation from California to Kauai. Maria said a couple of times how sweet it was to be able to just walk down to the beach. It's a reason to believe in the basic justice of life when two such good people can make their dream come true.

I've never been much of a fan of large parties and did have a few moments of dread about this one beforehand but it was indeed a delightful evening, even if I did feel now and then rather idiotic when people asked me what I've "been up to" and the only answer was basically "nothing".

Then it was First Saturday. As I told a reader recently, it seems almost religious. First Saturday, Third Saturday, Third Wednesday. So I had to spend the morning with the full backpack. I'd done laundry already on Friday in anticipation of the party, so I lugged the thing around, went down to cash the Fabled Pension Check, then back to campus. The FPC had arrived on Thursday and ... unprecedented ... I hadn't rushed to cash it. Actually, I shouldn't have cashed it until next Tuesday if the budget is to stay on track, but at least it's not too far off. Yet.

At the State Library on Thursday, I found another 1940 Simenon work, Liberty Bar (translated title, Maigret on the Riviera) and Amy Tan's truly wonderful The Kitchen God's Wife, enough to make a person very very grateful not to have been born in China in the last century. By late Sunday morning there was nothing more to read, but a trip to the used bookshop yielded John Irving's A Widow for One Year which more than admirably fills the void. What have I been up to? Reading, reading, reading ...

Tanioka came to the beach park on Saturday afternoon so we sat drinking beer and talking. There has been a fairly regular exchange of email with the Sleeptalker recently, most of it technical stuff about computers since his mother plans to buy one and he is trying to act as advisor. I'm very pleased for him that he's back in touch with his mother because I know how important she is to him. But he also sent me one very personal, very touching email about the difficulties he has with our friendship, one of those things I can't share because I'd see it as a violation of trust. I did talk to Tanioka a little about it.

A man and a woman walked over to our table. I recognized him as one of the figures from those Lynch Mob days but had never seen her before. Fans of the Tales. So I got to introduce one of the most notable characters to them.

I wish the other one had been there, too.

967

In his flirtatious mood, Angelo always teased me about liking "sausage and cream". I thought about that on Monday when there was not only Krishna food but sausage and cream. The two were linked in a peculiar way because as I was carrying away the plate from the Krishna truck, some of the sauce dribbled over the edge and onto my shorts. So after I'd nibbled a little of the food and thrown the rest to the birds, I went into the shower house, wet a paper towel and sat in the changing room trying to eliminate the sauce stains. There were three naked Japanese men in there. One of them dressed and left but the other two seemed to be taking much longer than necessary to complete their drying off. One was quite old, the other young and standing very close to where I was sitting, with his back turned to me. Then he turned toward me, displayed his small but very perpendicular "sausage". So I took care of him while the old man watched with obvious pleasure. How very odd. Cainer promised an "adventure" this week. I hope that wasn't the one he meant, but it was fun.

Foodstamps Monday. Add the "Fifth Day" to the litany. It was a wet morning on campus but I could see the sky was blue over Waikiki so I left, initiated the new foodstamps supply with a chef salad and further depleted the dwindling cash supply with a beer and cigarettes. The park was almost deserted, a nice quiet midday finishing Irving's A Widow for One Year, a fine novel if not as touching as Owen Meany. I must read his Garp again. Next up was David Baldacci's Wish You Well, another example of a legal-fantasy writer stepping out of that territory and writing an "ordinary" book. Interesting how they often choose rural American settings when they do widen their horizons.

When I was ready for another beer, I went to the beach park, anticipating the Krishna hand-out. Joe Guam wouldn't leave me alone all afternoon. The first time he came looking for me some people had recently thrown food to the birds and several pigeons were struggling with a large shrimp. Joe took it from them, brushed it off and ate it! He said he wasn't going for the "fucking Krishna food" because he had half a chicken he'd gotten from the supermarket. I didn't ask why he was stealing food from the pigeons then. But when I did go for the Krishna food, naturally Joe was sitting there shoveling food into his mouth. He can't resist any hand-out, needed or not.

After that and the "adventure" I moved down to the Moanas end of the park. Joe eventually came there, too, but fortunately had to make a mall run for tobacco (needless to say I didn't offer any of mine). Then he returned and a little later Tanioka arrived with a pizza, gave Joe a slice. Tanioka has given up his locker and moved his stuff back to his stepfather's house, was out there doing laundry, all an effort to cut expenses. I told him when he arrived I was surprised to see him, thought he and Angelo would be off somewhere with the glass pipe since it was Angelo's payday, but he said the Pathetic Lady has stopped complaining about Angelo and the pipe so he can be with her and smoke, too. I figured she'd lose that "me or the pipe, but not both" battle she tried to wage. Tanioka has to abstain until after the Vegas trip, said he had to watch out or he'd be there and have nothing to gamble.

The Black Hole was surprisingly crowded for a Crazy Money day, after having been delightfully empty since the first of the month. I guess the Bad Boys method of running through largesse quickly is used by quite a few Black Hole inmates, too.

And on Tuesday there was another email from the Sleeptalker, ending with:

so do me a favor and live long
cause you mean alot to me
your one of my best friends even if we get drunk and
fight sometimes
but youll alwayz be close to me somewhere in my heart

theres a space for you there always


968

Amusing, the two main weekly newsmagazines, one with a rock star on the cover, the other with a film director. I think Springsteen deserved the Time cover but am less sure about Newsweek and Shyamalan, especially "the new Spielberg" bit. Helen R and I went to see his "Signs" on Tuesday. Crop circles are fascinating but this film was downright silly. I can't say much in detail about why I thought so without giving away too much of the plot, such as it is, but let's just say give those visitors the all-time award for the most stupid extraterrestrials in sci-fi history.

Oh well, it at least had Mel Gibson, and he's always a pleasure to look at. Always.

We went for an ice cream sundae after the film and Helen advanced several theories which could have made a little more sense of the film. Unfortunately, of course, none of them were included in the film itself. We separated at the beach park and a few moments later I saw Tanioka coming out of the 7-Eleven, so we drank beer together in the park and talked about the film which he'd seen on opening day (as usual). He's a devoted fan of the Honolulu Weekly since it often includes coupons for special previews, had one for the new "XXX" so went off for that, although I discovered the next day he didn't actually get to see it because they'd given out more tickets than they had seats. I declined the offer to join him, saying "Signs" was more than enough of movies for me for the day (or week, month ... ).

The population was down again at the Black Hole Tuesday night. I don't understand why it had jumped the night before, unusual during payday week. I got Reg's usual place since he was missing. No sign of Luke or Jude, either, but Luke did show up the next night carrying an enormous bag, about the size of an Army duffel bag. I've noticed that he seems to have quite an extensive wardrobe, by street standards, but certainly don't envy him lugging that bag around. I wondered, not for the first time, where he goes during the day.

Since Tanioka and I had stayed at the far end of the beach park, I missed seeing Joe Guam on Tuesday but he was in the mall very early on Wednesday while I was having my morning coffee. Evidently they've hired a new security man for the area where he sleeps and he'd been thrown out, told he couldn't sleep there. I'm surprised he has gotten away with it as long as he has.

I finished the Baldacci book, agree with one critic who said it's his best, so I took it as a donation to the State Library's collection where I found a quite extraordinary novel, Sophie's World by the Norwegian writer, Jostein Gaarder. It's not just a novel, it's also a concise history of philosophy set forth in beautifully perceptive terms. What goes around, comes around went a little overboard ... Gaarder for Baldacci was a more than even trade.

So I took it and a beer to the far end of the beach park, deciding to squander foodstamps on sandwiches rather than waiting for the Krishna hand-out, then had a shower and washed my tee shirt and went for another beer. I had almost finished that when Tanioka arrived, just past Neoplatonism. I said I couldn't drink another beer but offered to share one with him so he went over to get it and we talked until near sunset when he decided to go "read magazines" at Border's. Fortunately that store doesn't have the "this is not a library" attitude and people are often in there reading magazines or books or listening to the many CDs available for sampling.

I got to the arrival of Christianity before heading to the Black Hole where I had a ridiculous batch of dreams about dirty clothes.

969

I failed to mention that the Willows Party was also the fourteenth anniversary of my arrival in these islands. The longest time I have stayed continuously in any one place in my long life.

Is there such a thing as a double-seven-year-itch?

-----

"He who lives at the aesthetic stage lives for the moment and grasps every opportunity of enjoyment. Good is whatever is beautiful, satisfying, or pleasant. This person lives wholly in the world of the senses, and is a slave to his own desires and mood. Everything that is boring is bad."

Okay, Kierkegaard got my number. I'm not convinced progression to his ethic stage or religious stage is all that better a way to live a life, but then I guess I would feel that way existing firmly in the aesthetic stage. (It's possible I have a slight toehold in the ethic stage).

It's unfortunate that so little of Kierkegaard is yet on the web. By now, all of Either/Or should be there, but then by now I should finally have finished the thing, having first attempted it at about age sixteen. In addition to my numerous other acquaintances I have still one more intimate friend to me, calls me aside, even though I remain present bodily. My melancholy is the most faithful sweetheart I have had, no wonder that I return the love!

Meanwhile, it's that time again. Time to wake in the morning and say "only [x] more days", time to harvest ashtrays (unless I'm willing to endure some future days without beer in order to buy cigarettes that day), etc. etc. Boring, bad. Uh-huh.

Thursday was a pleasant day, pleasant and uneventful. If that little "adventure" on Monday wasn't what Cainer was promising for this week, then perhaps finding Sophie's World is. Having been scorned through the Kierkegaard chapter, it was a relief to go on to Marx, Darwin and Freud. (Gaarder is generous with his composition of the Pantheon of the Philosophers.)

How to tell you how much I cherish this amazing book? Well, I thought I'd resort to one of the favorite devices of our times, the "top ten list". Now this is not what I would call the ten best or most important books ever written, just the ten which have meant most to me:

1) Hesse: Steppenwolf
2) Hesse: Magister Ludi
3) Mann: Magic Mountain
4) Gaarder: Sophie's World
5) Baum: Wizard of Oz
6) Irving: A Prayer for Owen Meany
7) Mitchell: Gone With the Wind
8) Tolkien: Lord of the Rings
9) Forster: A Passage to India
10) Heinlein: Stranger in a Strange Land


"I do not know where Kansas is, for I have never heard that country mentioned before. But tell me, is it a civilized country?"
"Oh, yes," replied Dorothy.
"Then that accounts for it. In the civilized countries I believe there are no witches left, nor wizards, nor sorceresses, nor magicians.


970

Although I scrawled that top ten list without much forethought, in thinking about it since I have to admit, it's a goofy list. It should probably be defined as the top ten I've read or re-read in recent years, although then GWTW would have to go. I suspect that if I did re-read it now, it wouldn't make the top ten anymore. Sentimental reasons ...

My favorite book as a child was, no contest, Swiss Family Robinson which I never tired of re-reading. The Oz books, for sure, would have been on a top ten list then, too. Huckleberry Finn (I didn't like Tom Sawyer but Finn was another one I read many times). The tales of Uncle Remus, too.

Then there were years when other books would have dominated such a list. Kerouac's On the Road, Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, Rand's Atlas Shrugged, Huxley's Island.

Meanwhile, I finished Sophie's World on Friday, thought the somewhat unexpected ending as delightful as the rest of the surrealistic little novel within the novel. After all, he did give us a major clue early on with the Chuang-Tzu story. Chuang-Tzu dreamed he was a butterfly. "Now I don't know if I am Chuang-Tzu dreaming I'm a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming I am Chuang-Tzu."

Gaarder stomped pretty hard on "new age" stuff when his survey of philosophy progressed to current times, would no doubt find my Underground page thoroughly repellent. I've added the more interesting crop circle sites to that collection, still like the idea of a tee shirt with one of the better circle designs and under it: Save the Planet, Piss on an Alien. (You have to have seen "Signs".)

I stayed on campus until mid-afternoon Friday, then went to the beach park for the Krishna hand-out. I think the people who work in that truck really hate the duty so they give out masses of food since when it's all gone, they can leave. The plate they gave me would have been enough for three. Alas, as usual, it was not particularly pleasant dining, but I'm not really complaining. Budget, budget ...

Then I went to the other end of the beach park for my sunset brew. Tanioka was in the 7-Eleven so joined me in the park. Lately he has always asked if I mind him joining me. I said, "your name's not Joe Guam!" And reminded him he's not heard me complaining about him in the Tales. Well, at least not since those very early "Rossini" days when I blamed him for providing the batu to the Sleeptalker.

One of those totally weird cigarette-beggars came along carrying a bag with a tennis racquet sticking out from it. "Totally weird", because he was one of these awful people who get angry when refused. It's a mystery to me how people can react that way, especially over a cigarette.

Then one of the hazards of near-tropical life, a sudden downpour, drove us from the park, getting thoroughly damp just crossing the street. The dreadful cigarette-beggar was sitting at the bus stop, so I went on into the Border's area, dried off a bit in the men's room there and then walked to a bus stop further down rather than enduring that guy's company for another minute.

Not much better at the Black Hole. A young man I usually think of as "Happy" must have run out of his meds or something. He's usually a big joker, not as funny or clever as he thinks but at least with some sense of humor which he directs mostly at the guards. But Friday night he was jabbering away to himself at full speed with "bullshit" sprinkled through every sentence numerous times. I glared at him but made no impression so moved to another spot, grateful the place wasn't crowded enough to make that impossible.

Sun conjunct Mars in Leo. A season of madness?

971

Busted again, silly popo's. They must have fallen short of their daily quota of tickets on Sunday since they usually do nothing in the park but make you pour out the beer. Instead they went to the trouble to give me a ticket. In the offense box it says "open display", which sounds like I dropped my shorts or something. When they were leaving, the one who'd written the ticket said, "I guess you won't go to court." "Why should I bother?" I asked. "Then they'll issue a bench warrant and we'll arrest you." Yeh, sure, with 75,000 outstanding bench warrants, they're going to worry about an old man drinking beer in the park. They seemed a little puzzled throughout the exchange, probably because they expect the threat of "arrest" to mean something. Shrug. I'd miss beer in jail but otherwise don't have the slightest fear. It couldn't be worse than the Black Hole, and with the overcrowded jails in this place they could hardly lock someone up for long over such a minor offense.

The only thing that irked me was them keeping my green plastic tea bottle, buggers. I found an empty water bottle (clear plastic, alas), moved to another table and finished the beer which was in my bag, then bought another just for the hell of it. Bad me, it should be limited to one a day until payday.

After a brief time on campus Saturday morning I went to the State Library, was much pleased to find Anne Rice's The Feast of All Saints. Now there's only Violin and the newest one, not yet in paperback, and I'll have read her complete works except for the supposedly erotic fables she wrote under an assumed name and which don't much interest me. Feast is a densely romantic, very very Southern novel with New Orleans as much a major presence as any of the exotic characters. I'd followed up Sophie's World with Paul McAuley's The Secret of Life, a convincing sci-fi yarn about biotech intrigue, enjoyable despite the heavy science which was for the most part over my head. A strange jump from Mars expeditions to 19th century New Orleans.

The fans of the Tales who had been in the park the week before came again, this time bearing a large box with yummy grilled cheese sandwiches and a delicious salad, intended for me and Tanioka. He missed out. They sat and talked for awhile, mostly about some of the more notorious local street people. I wonder what people say about me, or even if they notice. I'm very dull compared to some of the eccentrics in this town.

I stayed on campus for most of Sunday, should have stayed until Black Hole time and missed the popo's. But then I'd also have missed an interesting sunset chat with Tanioka, about him, his family and, inevitably, the Sleeptalker.

971a

Sultry, muggy Monday, steaming, uncomfortable night at the Black Hole. Hurricanes excepted, the worst island weather, tradewinds dead, humidity higher than man can endure except in Bangkok or New Orleans. Maybe the weather gods decided to help out with appropriate conditions for Rice's The Feast of All Saints but no need, she more than adequately sets up the atmosphere. If anyone hasn't read Anne Rice and wonders why I admire her so much, I recommend this one, never mind her wonderful vampires and delightful witches.

The State Library is being very good to me. Even if the weather gods aren't.

By sunrise on Tuesday it was apparent we were in for another hideous day (expected to last until at least Thursday) and my mood wasn't in the least improved by it also being the day for my (Gott sei dank) only annual dance with bureaucracy. Time to re-apply for foodstamps, time to finally meet this social worker who keeps sending me so many silly letters. Grief, he was an OLD man, long past due to claim his SocSec and find something more interesting to do with whatever time he has left. Anyway, renewed foodstamps is assured and, surprise, I get the State medical coverage back. He'd made a mistake, thought I was getting Social Security disability payments, not retirement ("early retirement" he stressed several times). Hey, I get free drugs again ... if I want them ... starting in September.

I'd rather have a room with air-conditioning.

971b

So, Tanioka is on airplane bound for Las Vegas. I wish I were on it with him. Not that I am particularly keen to see Vegas again but it would be an adventure ... and I'd escape this horrendous spell of weather we're stuck in.

I shall quietly chant om Lakshmi, om Ganesh each day for Tanioka, hoping the gods of fortune smile on him. Better say it a few times for myself as well, since the grand budgetary effort is a failure. Of course, if I hadn't made the effort I suppose it would have been a much longer time of empty pockets. The thing that always defeats me is when the cash-in-pocket reaches a certain low point, I feel it's easier to just go ahead and spend it rather than pondering when to do so. (I am not making any claim whatsover that this is sensible thinking.)

I'll be crying in my iced tea, especially on Friday which will be an off-line day, the university closed to celebrate Admission Day.

After the dreaded but not too awful date with bureaucracy I wanted a beer, budget or no budget. Then I stayed in Hamilton Library longer than usual just to escape the oppressive heat and humidity outside. Groat has made it to level 46 in Seventh Circle, a tedious stage when there's little to do but kill the same things over and over until more rewarding areas, restricted to higher levels, finally become available.

Someone on Usenet mentioned a site which has State judiciary information on it. I looked for Okinawa, found his original court appearance in 1996 (for breaking and entering) and the latest on July 26th for "theft 2". Bail at $15,000, little wonder he's back in jail. The Sleeptalker's brother gets five listings, the Sleeptalker himself only one (when his mother got a restraining order). Oddly, despite his many appearances in court, Angelo isn't listed at all.

Ryan's Hawaii Stories was featured in Bert Lum's Bytemarks column. Cool. I wish the weather would cool, too. Well, it did a little bit on Wednesday morning, since the sky was solid gray and there was frequent light drizzle. Nary a breath of breeze. Sigh.

972

Faced with the prospect of a dreaded Thursday evening at the Black Hole while being totally sober, I wimped out and borrowed twenty dollars. Then I managed to spend it all by Saturday morning so still won't escape the beer-free-days sentence. I must be a masochist.

At least it worked for Thursday and I was very late getting there so missed most of the wrestling. Even if I do have to sleep on just my beachtowel, since all mats are gone, it's probably better to make it a policy of going late on Thursdays. It might even be a wise policy to do it every night. Sleeping on just the towel doesn't bother me in the least, but there is sometimes a problem of finding decent floorspace (and not too awful neighbors).

I was sitting in the beach park for sunset on Thursday evening when Angelo and the Pathetic Lady arrived. She's already given up on that supermarket job, which didn't much surprise me, but she seemed in better shape than usual. They had been "shopping" (Okinawa's fate seems to have been no deterrent) and were headed down to the fencing operation in Chinatown to convert the loot into cash. Angelo asked to borrow two dollars for the bus fare. Ha! Might as well take two dollars and set it on fire, would be just as likely to get it back as I would if I "loaned" it to that guy. But as usual, I took pity on him and bought the remainder of his beer (almost a full bottle which, on top of what I'd already had, was too much so I ended up with my new 20oz green plastic bottle ... Mountain Dew ... tucked away full in the pack for Friday's breakfast).

Further research on that judicial website yielded the news that Okinawa is set for a jury trial [!] on October 10th. Despite all the many such things I've read about, I've never actually seen a jury trial. So I think I'll go.

The sky finally cleared on Friday, the Admission Day holiday, and the tradewinds picked up a little but it was still uncomfortably warm and humid. If I'd had the money I think I would have spent the entire day sitting in an airconditioned bar getting drunk. Since I didn't, I spent most of it in the secluded grove reading Anne Perry's The Sins of the Wolf, one of her slight but entertaining Victorian murder mysteries.

The birds were nagging for something to eat so I checked the trashcans to see if there was anything for them. Found part of a roll for them and was astonished to find a bottle of Mickey's, about three-quarters full. I should, of course, have rested content with that plus the leftovers from Angelo but went ahead and bought a sunset bottle later in the park.

Silly fellow. Now it's Third Saturday so I have to lug around the backpack all morning and only have enough money for one more beer until Wednesday. I really should keep in mind things like having to empty the locker and sit around until I can put stuff back in it ... a welcome time for a brew.

Not to mention Interim Week, the main one before the fall session begins, when the libraries are closed on the weekends and a couple of hours in the net cafe would be welcome, too.

Ah well, I shall try to pretend I'm a Stoic for a few days.

973

No, I fear I have no talent for even pretending to be a Stoic but I suppose it does no man harm to read the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, even if the various editions and translations suggest there's a lot of confusion about which is the most authentic version. Rather stuffy old bugger regardless of version, but no doubt well-intentioned.

Tuesday, Black Tuesday. For the rest of my life the third Tuesday of the month shall be Black Tuesday. Since I have to empty my locker each month on the Third Saturday, I thought I should buy an all-black outfit (cheaply, of course, from the discount clothing place) and on that Saturday change into all-black, wear it until the Magic Third Wednesday when I could again visit the locker and change into all-white. Never let it be said my mind is incapable of coming up with silly fantasies.

The campus libraries were closed on the weekend but I did spend some time at the stand-up computer lab each morning, then sat in the secluded grove reading and trying not to wish I had a beer. The reading was successful enough. Forget about the rest.

Dame Fortune just didn't smile on me all weekend although, true, food was plentiful as was tobacco. I'd run out of things to read by Friday evening but when I got to the Black Hole someone had left a copy of No Safe Place by Richard North Patterson so that was the weekend reading. It probably would have been more interesting had I not already read the sequel to the book and consequently some of the suspense was missing since I knew some of what was going to happen. These writers should follow the convention in sci-fi multi-volume epics, clearly labeled by volume. I'd never pick up a "volume two" of such a work, would wait to find the first. Never mind, it more or less occupied my mind and helped the time pass. I did make a trip to the State Library on Saturday afternoon to guarantee enough reading material for the waiting-for-Wednesday duration.

Joe Guam had again missed seeing his benefactor on Friday, said someone else was driving the truck. I thought perhaps his benefactor had asked for a change of route but didn't say so. It's one thing to occasionally run into someone who lends a helping hand, quite another to expect it regularly twice a week. So Joe was crying about having no beer but got no sympathy from me.

There was a choice on Sunday of going to the annual Slack Key Festival or attending the second Hawaii Stories picnic on Magic Island. The festival books too many people, each performer or group only just begins to warm up a little and they're pushed off for the next. And then there's always the awful finale with the once-a-year "Native Hawaiian Band", an meant-to-be informal jam session which drives me nuts with their routine of playing a few riffs and then "it's your turn", "it's your turn", "it's your turn". So without much hesitation I opted for the picnic. A small gathering, but amusing even though it was somewhat irksome that everyone except me, the infants and the fluffy rabbit had digital cameras which they constantly used. At least we were spared a live cam. I retaliated (without saying so) by taping a half hour of the conversation, but no matter, I'm probably too lazy to transcribe it.

Before he left for Vegas, Tanioka gave me a little Sony microcassette recorder. It had a tape in it, a most interesting tape. There's a brief conversation between Tanioka and ICL discussing, guess what, the Sleeptalker. I'm glad it's not just when with me that they talk about him. Then there's a hilarious sequence with Tanioka alone which I won't describe although I'll surely give him a good teasing about it when I next see him. And one entire side of the tape seemed to be just the sound of him sleeping. Maybe he wanted to find out if he snores? I used that side to record the picnic.

I ran out of snipes, was the only person at the picnic who smoked so there was no one to bum from even if I'd worked up the nerve to do so, and Cheyne was running very late, communicating by cellphone which suggested it would be at least another half hour before he arrived, so I went on my way. One of these days, one of these days.

Monday was such a boring day that when I woke on Tuesday feeling happy it was finally Black Tuesday I had a moment's panic when I wasn't sure it was Tuesday. I couldn't remember anything I'd done on Monday, understandably since it was such an unmemorable day. I was greatly relieved when I looked at the newspaper cover and saw TUESDAY.

Alleluiah. My brief career as a Stoic comes to an end.

974

The day of the Full Moon got off to a most interesting start. I woke, looked at my watch, saw it was about 4:15 so settled back to doze a little longer but realized a trip to the bathroom wasn't to be postponed. Fortunate timing! Just as I walked in, Jude was dropping his shorts preparing to shower. Yes, an excellent way to start the day. I wonder if he habitually showers at such an early hour ...

Luke, alas, has not been seen for some time. I'm not much surprised, didn't think such a cute guy would end up at the Black Hole for long. Tanioka, too, has not yet been seen. Maybe he won so much money he decided to extend the visit?

After having been so unkind all weekend, Dame Fortune relented on Black Tuesday. Since Helen R lives very near the mall and I'm there so often, it's odd how rarely we run into each other, but it did happen late Tuesday morning and she kindly bought me lunch at Arby's and even more kindly a bottle of Mickey's. No question about it, to a beer lover there is nothing finer than a taste of the brew after two days without. (No, I very much doubt I could maintain a discipline of drinking only every third day in order to enjoy that special taste.)

Then, these days almost a miracle: five baby strollers! So I was able to have a sunset brew as well, enjoyed it too, even if Joe Guam did his best to make me feel guilty for not sharing. He had waited for his benefactor, saw the usual truck but with a different driver so asked what happened to his benefactor. On vacation for a week. Joe was fuming, why hadn't he been told, etc. etc. That poor truckdriver surely must regret now and then ever having given Joe money to begin with.

By mid-afternoon I thought I must be in for an attack of bronchitis but the next morning it was clearly not just bronchitis but a very nasty cold, unusually severe for a summer one. Yeukh. Oh well, at least it was .... at last .... Magic Third Wednesday. To the mailbox for the check, then to cash it, buy cigarettes and beer and cashew nuts and sit in the beach park reading Andrew Greeley's The Search for Maggie Ward.

What goes around, comes around. Yes, I think that's a very important philosophical observation and pondering it I realized it has, of course, nothing to do with acting deliberately in hope of a return reward. The comes around part may be from a totally different source. Joe Guam and Paulo were beneficiaries of my benevolent ponderings since I gave them both money for beer, made Joe earn his by going to the mall and bringing one back for me, too.

The Krishna hand-out was a little better than usual, especially since they had cottage cheese. Then I sniffed and sneezed my way through half of another bottle of beer with sunset, tucked the rest away in my backpack, reminding myself not to add the discomfort of a hangover to that of this wretched virus attack.

975

Date: Fri, 23 Aug 2002 08:22:16 -1000 (HST)
To: [The Sleeptalker]

: you know hes a tweeker
I don't really know what you mean by "tweeker" although I hear the word used a lot.

: i dont know why you even bother with him
Partly because I feel sorry for him. He can't help himself, can't resist stealing or smoking the pipe and he's older than the rest of you guys, too old to be facing a year or more in Halawa, poor man.

-----

The subject, of course, being Okinawa. The Sleeptalker is such a slippery "friend".

The wretched cold dominated life for three days and nights, finally settled by Sunday into the usual aftermath of coughing up gook from my poor lungs for the first half hour of the day. Yeukh, I say again.

The weather didn't help much on Thursday and Friday, either. Both days I got chased from my lunchtime in the secluded grove by persistent drizzle and when there wasn't water falling from the sky it was steamy and muggy. Not one of the more pleasant summers in my memories of this island.

Richard North Patterson's Escape the Night is one of those well-written books about such unpleasant people that there's little pleasure in reading them. I should have followed up an early impulse to dump the thing. Instead I ploughed on to the end and then got the nasty taste out of my brain with a Cat Who feast. The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern, The Cat Who Sniffed Glue [!], The Cat Who Robbed a Bank. Such delightful books. They make me wish a little that I did have a place to live and a Siamese cat to share it with.

I took a break from reading on Saturday afternoon to hear Puccini's Manon Lescaut, a fine performance from the Bavarian State Theatre, and that provided the background inspiration for my favorite new work in some time, a collage (with the unwitting assistance of Tanioka and Maryse) which I'll call "Prince of Memphis". As soon as I finish another one in work (not sure yet whether it will be a three or four panel one), I'll make a visit to the scanner.

And yes, Jude does make a habit of four a.m. showers.

976

Cainer had predicted unexpected and challenging happenings on the weekend, advised to "embrace it", advice he repeats for the entire last week of August. By Sunday afternoon I was beginning to wonder if he'd fallen short of the mark again, but no, no, he was right on target. Whether I have the energy to do much more "embracing" this week is up to question, though.

The day was off to a dull enough start, made more pleasant by the used bookshop having a 25%-off sale. So I added The Cat Who Sang to the Birds and The Cat Who Saw Stars to my monthly Cat Who feast, then went to the laundromat since everything was getting rather grubby, especially the little bag. Once again I told myself how silly it had been to buy a light tan one instead of black. Then I bought cheese, rolls and beer and enjoyed lunch in the secluded grove. But what had been a nagging suspicion on Saturday was confirmed. The fact is, I'm getting increasingly bored with 40oz. bottles of malt liquor. This may sound odd coming so close on the heels of my praise for the taste of a beer after a two-day deprivation, and of course maintaining that kind of pattern would no doubt eliminate the surprising new boredom factor. But I think a better solution would be to buy other beers, less quantity no doubt because of the added expense, but with more interesting variety. Nevertheless, when I left for the beach park to continue reading the ever-delightful antics of Koko and Yum Yum, I eventually went to the mall for a sunset brew, a 40oz-er.

As I was about to cross the road back to the park I heard someone calling me from an automobile, was astonished to see Angelo behind the wheel. The silly fellow's mother works in the evening. Angelo had driven her to work on Friday and then just kept the car, hadn't even called to tell her he was okay and had it! A little later he very solemnly asked my advice about how to handle it. I told him that since I'd never met his mother and had never witnessed what kind of interaction they have, I just didn't know. He did have a somewhat plausible excuse, or it would have been had he called his mother on Saturday. The Pathetic Lady overdosed, was in the hospital recovering after a brief coma. (Angelo didn't bother to call and check on her until Monday, either.)

He wanted to share the pipe so we ended up driving around all night with several re-fills acquired at (too-short) intervals, twice making the trip around the island to the Windward Side, with a return to Chinatown in between. Madness. But we ended up at a small beach near Waimanolo at around three in the morning and he got in the back seat, slept a couple of hours. I very much enjoyed that quiet interval by the seaside and of course after the long abstention, the ice was having a very potent effect.

Tanioka is back, Angelo had seen him, so one of the first things we did on Monday morning was return to the mall where he called Tanioka's pager and waited some time for a reply which didn't happen. He said Tanioka had lost about three hundred dollars in Vegas, so maybe he's just trying to avoid expensive gatherings until payday. And it was an expensive one, as they always are. One novel addition to the expenses, though, was Angelo's suggestion that we go to one of those private viewing booths showing porno movies! A most peculiar feeling, walking into such a place in Waikiki before ten in the morning. Watching him was much more fun than any of the film clips, a welcome conclusion to the inevitable effect the ice has on increasing desire while diminishing ability to do anything about it. Well, with the right "inspiration" that much-disliked effect can be overridden.

Naturally, he was ready for another pipe after that interlude, so we went to Chinatown and Mondo was at the place where the dealers gather. I was shocked to see him. He's gained so much weight it blurs the "dark, handsome, sexy" label which has been his for such a long time, but it was good to see him and definitely qualified as "unexpected". He has a room in Kalihi, a one-time suburb beyond Chinatown which has been thoroughly merged with the city but still has a special atmosphere created by so many wooden dwellings from decades ago. His new place, though, is awful, a very tiny room with just space enough for a small bed, a little table, a six-drawer chest with a television set on top of it. The toilet and shower is shared with everyone else on the floor. At least the similar place he had before included a small washbasin and refrigerator, and the room was larger. He's paying $340 a month for it, I think he said, far more than it's worth. He had to have it, he said, because he couldn't give up his television. (After he watched it all night, I believed him.)

He joined us, we went to get beer and drove to the waterfront park to share the pipe. I began my experiment with a bottle of English Bass Ale which used to be one of my favorites when I lived there. Now it seems incredibly bitter. I wonder what I'd think about my favorite of all English brews, Webster's Yorkshire Bitter, if I could get my hands on a can. Then they wanted to fill the pipe yet again and I abstained from contributing (at last) since it seemed overboard (it was still very early afternoon). Mondo came up with half of the price and Angelo promised the dealer the rest the next day. Maybe he treats loans from his dealers differently than those from his friends, because the man agreed. Mondo then asked us to his place and I made up for the withheld contribution by getting another round of beer for us, this time getting a Steinlager for me. Those two 25oz. bottles of beer were all I had to drink on Monday, but heaven knows there was plenty of other refreshments, since we made yet another trip to Chinatown for pipe-filling. I was by then getting very weary of automobile travel. I don't think I've spent that much consecutive time in a car since the early Sixties.

Once that pipe was finished, Angelo just disappeared, not saying he was going or whether he would be returning. He had decided to take the car back that evening, so I didn't expect to see him again even if Mondo kept saying he was sure Angelo would return. Mondo then lamented the fact that we hadn't bought some weed to smooth out the ice landing and I had to agree it would have been a sensible option. So he volunteered to make the trip back to Chinatown by bus to buy the greenery and I enjoyed the first hour of silence I'd had all afternoon since he kept the radio on constantly (cable television also supplies local radio). After the first smoke he switched to television and, as I said, watched it all night. After my total lack of sleep the night before, I managed to eventually snatch little naps in between his channel-hopping and comments to the box or me.

Although I feel certain it is not conscious or deliberately contrived, Mondo is a cockteaser, no doubt about it. He told me with some excitement that he'd met a "real gay", explained when I suggested surprise that he doesn't consider me gay, but a friend. I didn't follow very far with that thread of conversation or with many other grass-inspired flights of fantasy he occasionally went off on. It's just impossible to know with Mondo what is true and what isn't because he doesn't himself know the difference. But being in his company would be more enjoyable if he didn't carry on his continual teasing poses and innuendo. I would have enjoyed it more, even so, had I not by then reached the point where I just wanted to quietly collapse (especially after that very strong weed he found). I was grateful he'd suggested I stay over, but I did wonder a few times during the night if it wouldn't have been a more sensible thing to have returned to the Black Hole.

He wanted me to spend the day with him on Tuesday but I said, no, I couldn't, I had to go to the university ... and that I needed a couple of quiet days to recover from the party. Days. Or weeks.

977

Nulla dies sine linea.

"Apelles the artist said he never passed a day without doing at least one line, and to this steady industry he owed his great success."

-----

One of the Dutchman's favorite phrases. A work in progress will probably be called that since one card is being created a line a day, Wednesday's addition inspired by the Carter Family. Since acquiring the new Springsteen CD I'd left all the others in the locker but finally retrieved the Carters (and Dylan's Time Out of Mind). No new CD this month, since the Follies punched too big a hole in the budget already.

And I guess I can't expect to be a great success like Apelles since I forgot to add a line on Thursday.

I got those quiet days I wanted and nights of very solid sleep, began by Thursday morning to feel rebalanced. It's odd that one of the most-used terms for ice or batu is the clear. Odd, because there's really nothing clear about it. The powder is opaque white and its effect could more accurately be described as muddy rather than clear. Maybe some people experience the stuff the way I was affected by the pharmaceutical version which would make the clear reference understandable (although I suspect even then the "clarity" was an illusion).

At least this time the hangover wasn't as ghastly as it sometimes has been, but there was still the pattern of the first day after being not too unpleasant and the second being unpleasant enough to understand why so many rush to fill the pipe again, a sure road to hell. And there was the usual reflection on what happened and how my thoughts about my companions shifted as a result. The time alone with Angelo was splendid, one of the best interludes I've spent with him.

I read the Tales from last August and September, smiled when I noted that the last time I spent the night with Mondo was almost exactly a year go, that extraordinary evening when I gave him an almost-all-over massage. This time certainly wasn't as interesting as that one but otherwise was not much different ... and not really a very wise or comfortable way to spend a night. I think Mondo is just utterly repressed, probably really wants sex in one form or another but can't let it happen. And I don't just think, I know he lives in another reality, one where fact and fantasy are everchanging, real history almost nonexistent. I also know, alas, that after awhile he gets to be very boring.

So, was it all worth it? Yes, especially the first half of the adventure, the time alone with Angelo. At one point in Chinatown on Sunday morning when there was some delay about the intended purchase I was tempted to leave and return to the park. It would have been smarter to have followed that intuitive nudge.

As always, the campus seems incredibly crowded when the fall term starts. Even if I hadn't been frolicking in a Follies, I would have skipped the first day back at school and I haven't spent more than a few early morning hours there each day. The weather is one reason, too. Despite a cheery prediction of a solid run of clear, sunny days there were frequent showers on Tuesday, squallish ones on Wednesday which spread all the way to Waikiki and the beach park and, after an unusually dry Thursday, showers again early on Friday morning. In between falling water, it remains horrendously muggy and steamy. Now they're predicting three days of showery weather starting on Sunday, so maybe by reverse forecast we'll get some sunny ones.

I returned to the let-the-bus-decide routine to determine where I'd spend the afternoons, ended up in Waikiki on two of them and discovered that group which meets under the Kapiolani banyan is Alcoholics Anonymous, not a church group. Most of them look like the A.A. program is failing.

One advantage of the new academic year is the return of the fifty-cent book cart at Hamilton Library and I found an amusing book by Robert van Gulik, The Chinese Bell Murders, one of a series of Chinese magistrate/detective multiple-murder mysteries he wrote in the fifties, this one reprinted by the University of Chicago Press. I didn't know such works were popular in ancient China and van Gulik's books are modeled on the originals. I wouldn't mind reading a translation of one of the originals. Another find on the cart is Alice Borchardt's The Silver Wolf, a very Anne Rice type book about a "shapeshifter" (female werewolf) in ancient Rome. It wasn't surprising to see Rice quoted in the excerpts of praise for the book. There's another in the series on the cart but I'm not sure I want to have two in a row of them (Borchardt is good, but not yet at least really in a class with Rice).

And now to get through the three-day holiday weekend. The university libraries will only be closed on Monday, but the parks will no doubt be packed all three days. It's always something ...

977a

An interesting interview in the back of Silver Wolf. I had no idea Alice Borchardt is Anne Rice's sister. What an extraordinary pair of literary siblings, one with witches and vampires, the other with werewolves. I changed my mind about three-quarters of the way through the book, decided I did want to read the sequel. Alas, someone had already grabbed it. I'd forgotten how rapid the turnover is on that fifty-cent cart.

Friday was another steamy day making the frigid air-conditioning at Hamilton Library most welcome and I lingered longer than usual to enjoy it. Then I made the trip out to the discount clothing store to get a couple of cheap tee shirts, bored with wearing the same two for months. Back to campus to put the extras in the locker and have lunch with my feathered friends in the secluded grove. One of the Brazilian cardinals had two babies to feed, one of which has disappeared and the other is at last getting the idea that it's possible to pick up crumbs directly rather than having mama stick them in your mouth. About time, the silly bird is as big as mama even if its headfeathers haven't yet changed from the adolescent rusty color to the mature brilliant red.

Then to the State Library where I found a hefty novel called The Bestseller by Olivia Goldsmith, an amusing yarn of publishers and authors with the fun of working out what real author the fictional one is based on. As usual when there's a Monday holiday, the State Library closes all weekend. Nothing like a soft government job ...

To the Moanas end of the beach park for the first time this week although once there I decided I didn't really want the Krishna food, just have almost no appetite in this sultry weather. I was planning to have just the second beer but then Tanioka arrived so I went to get a round for us both, much enjoyed talking with him after so long an absence. He'd talked to Angelo so knew about the Follies. Angelo still has his mother's car! Tanioka said he thinks Angelo will keep it until he gets busted (more likely because of driving around without a license than his mother calling in the law). Angelo had spent the night at Mondo's place, so I guess he must have had some successful shopping expeditions and they were continuing the Follies. (I hope Angelo isn't crazy enough to sell the car.) Tanioka asked if I wanted to smoke. "Too soon for me," I said.

To say the least.

978

Recall also that the old must make much of their experience.
It is all they have left.
Trevanian: Shibumi

-----

No chance to test the reverse forecast theory because they revised the forecast from three rainy days (beginning with Sunday) to a partly cloudy Sunday and then back to supposedly totally sunny days. Not quite, but the weather was at least pleasant for most of the holiday weekend. As I told Helen R on Sunday, though, I won't be at all unhappy to see the end of summer. I'm weary of the steaminess.

The beach park wasn't as crowded as I thought it would be except for a huge picnic on Sunday which took up all the section where Joe Guam parks all day. I didn't see him to hear what would surely have been his complaints, but I did see him on Monday evening when the moans were about the number of cops who had swarmed through the park all weekend. There were at least three sedans parked beside the shower house every time I went to the Moanas end of the park, but oddly none of the cops came through that area. I kept my bottle discreetly tucked away in my bag anyway, scanned the area each time I took it out for a drink.

Since the police presence was definitely expected, I spent most of the weekend on campus, especially enjoyed the holiday Monday when there was hardly anyone around. I've added two members to my family, those delightful kittens. They've taken to sitting at the edge of the wall by the secluded grove, peeking down at me and the birds. The birds eye them nervously now and then but surprisingly, the mynahs don't sound their usual "cat!" alarm call. I shared some Vienna sausage with the kittens one day, then bought them a can of cat food on Monday. I don't know how they're surviving in that area, not one which is served by any of the campus cat-feeders.

The last time I'd seen Helen, I asked if she'd eaten at the fairly new Wolfgang Puck place at the Ward cinema complex. I was curious about their "tortilla soup", tried to imagine how they'd go about creating such a thing. So Helen asked me to a late lunch there on Sunday and I tried it. Yeukh. Awful stuff, overwhelmed by oregano, not even a hint of a tortilla taste. She gave me one slice of the pizza she'd more wisely ordered and it was decent enough, even though everything there (including the 12oz Budweiser) is ridiculously overpriced. Amusing adventure, though.

The State Library surely does turn up the occasional treasure and such was the case with Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes, a charming and touching memoir of an Irish Catholic childhood. I'd like to read the next volume ... and see the film.

Otherwise, it was a routine holiday weekend to mark the beginning of the last month of the Fifth Year.

979

New Moon in Virgo. A Day of Resistance on campus, with music, films and lectures all day in protest against the so-called War on Terrorism. Nice to see this dozey campus make the effort, but I'm sure Bush & Co. will not be much impressed (if they even hear about it).

A trip to the mailbox on post-holiday Tuesday was a true winner: the Fabled Pension Check, the longest letter I've had from Felix in decades, and the new Bel Canto CD by Renée Fleming, a treasure of the first order. [Ah, so it's ampersand-pound-233 which makes an "é", a fact discovered on her web site.]

Lengthy scenes, not just the isolated main aria, from Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia and Maria Padilla, Rossini's Armida and Semiramide and Bellini's La Sonnambula and Il Pirata. There's a moment in Borgia where I've involuntarily said "oh shit" each time I've heard it, told myself I'd better stay out of opera houses, at least when this amazing woman is singing. Curious that such a crude phrase is an expression of high praise, but so it is.

Felix agreed with me on the subject of Fleming. If she's captured these two old Callas fanatics, she's probably captured all of them.

A quiet week, days on campus, evenings at the beach park, a few books too unimportant to mention until finally spotting Amy Tan's debut novel, The Joy Luck Club, at the used bookshop. I've been checking every time I go there, hoping it would turn up.

On Thursday evening at the beach park, Paulo joined me and added a few marks to a card I was working on. I sent him to the mall to get a beer for us to share and a little later "Tarzan" rode up on his bicycle. He's a tall, very muscular fellow probably in his mid-thirties, looks very local but was actually born in California, as he told me later. I've never seen him wearing anything but surfer shorts, always shirtless and very brown. He is often with Lord and Lady Moana but this was the first time he's come to my table. Sexy man, but I think a bit dopey. He tends to stand with his mouth partly open, gazing into the distance with a totally blank look. A statue. Handsome one, though.

I'm re-reading the Tales from this fifth year, amused to watch myself and the dance with the Bad Boys. Maybe Tarzan is Okinawa's replacement.

979a

I wondered how you could have sex with others when you're in love with [the Sleeptalker] wrote Felix.

Cue up Tina Turner: what's love got to do with it ...

But my dear Felix, I must tell him, sex has really very little to do with love. And even if they must be linked, well, I love all the Bad Boys, despite the ups and downs (which I continue to read about during the history of this past year). Why would I decline an opportunity for a little sexual entertainment with any of them simply because I love the Sleeptalker most? Poor hopelessly romantic Felix. And perhaps I should remind him of the time we had a (not terribly successful) encounter while I was still in love with Edward?

Lady Moana was in full rant in the park. Someone stole their stuff. They set up a kind of permanent camp (everything but a tent), then wander off for hours leaving everything unattended, little wonder someone comes along and helps themselves. "Why did they want my panties?" she wailed (I thought it a very good question but didn't say so, although I later teased Paulo for stealing them). Paulo tried to get me to spend the night with him [!?], offered to give me a blanket. I was tired, went on to the Black Hole instead, where, strangely, there's no drop in population during this month's welfare-payments cycle. I'll never understand the rhythm there. At least they have acquired more mats so the only problem is finding floor space (and, as always, the least objectionable neighbors).

First Saturday. Time to clean out the locker and head to the laundromat. Some routines of life are so incredibly boring.

980

A quiet weekend on campus except for a sunset brew in the beach park each day. There seems to have been an odd shift of characters from there to the area downhill from the university. On Saturday I saw Bikku there, haven't seen him in a long time. As usual, his first question was had I seen Tanioka? He complained that it's getting more and more difficult to drink in the parks, said he'd gotten a citation at the beach park and then another one in a small park nearby where they're even using undercover cops as patrols. I told him the only solution was for us to get more money so we could drink in bars.

The Old Guitar Player, also not seen for weeks, didn't seem much concerned about getting caught drinking in public, was sitting at a bus stop near the 7-Eleven obviously very drunk and with a brown-bagged bottle in his hand. And another missing character, Dewey, was outside the 7-Eleven. He looked awful and was quite filthy. I nodded to him but don't know if he even recognized me. Then inside the 7-Eleven I was much surprised to see the Mongoose, have never seen him in the neighborhood before. He looked pretty awful, too.

I hope they all stay downhill.

I've been feeding those kittens every day and they seem to have gotten used to my presence in the secluded grove, usually peek over the wall soon after I've arrived, no doubt waiting for their lunch. Barbara came by on Sunday, so I showed her where they are staying, told her how odd (and sweet) it is that the mother cat never comes down from their sheltered hideaway to eat but leaves it all to the kittens even though she keeps an eye on them. "A good mother," Barbara said. She gave me three packets of food and left a large helping of dried stuff for them, so Sunday was a kitty feast day. Barbara's eager to catch the three of them and take them to the vet, explained how she has some kind of trap which she baits with sardines. When a cat goes in for the food, the door shuts. Sounds like a rather nasty way for a poor cat to spend the night, but I guess there's no better way to capture them. I don't know how she's going to manage the trick with these three, though. What if she catches the same cat over and over again? Or do they wise up after getting trapped once and stay away from the food? Whatever, I didn't take her hint to volunteer in helping with the capture. I know they should be "de-sexed", but I don't want to have a part in it.

I was amused to read myself describing Joe Guam as a "sweet old man" in the Tales of the past year. I should have said sweet boring old man, would be more accurate. I saw him coming on Saturday and ducked over to the mall until he'd passed on his way, but got caught on Sunday and had to listen to his usual routine for longer than I wanted to. It's really quite incredible how the man complains so about other people when he's exactly like them.

And I've continued to enjoy reading about the ups-and-downs with the Bad Boys during the Fifth Year, was reminded of how much I miss seeing the Cherub. No sign of Tanioka or Angelo all weekend, no word from the Sleeptalker in over a week. Angelo really should learn the value of investing, acquiring good will. I don't know if I would have accepted or not, but it would have been smarter had he come around offering to share a pipe or two from his Crazy Money. Even if I'd declined, he would have earned some points for the upcoming Third Wednesday time. He probably relies on the value of his company (when he's in good form) as sufficient, and isn't wrong, of course.

I worked some more on the card started with Paulo, decided it doesn't go with the three similar (but not enough so) cards already near completion, so it's the start of a different work instead.

More inconsequential reading, although The Stargazey by Martha Grimes is enjoyable, as are all of her classic British mysteries. Either she or her editors goofed one time in this one because she calls it "Nottinghill Gate" and it's always written as Notting Hill, not one word. Unusual for Grimes who is usually so authentic one would never know she's an American.

A reader wrote: You don't seem to be writing much these days. I hope it is because life is more fun in the park and on the campus than online.

No, I replied, it's more a case of not much happening that wants to be written about.
(That's bad English grammar, but the truth).

981

[Names changed to those used in the Tales]:

To: The Sleeptalker
Subject: Re: looks like ur still ok

Yeh, ok, just a bit bored.

ive seen Angelo around in waianae too
just once with his girlfriend
driving around in someones car


His mother's, no doubt. She must be as crazy as he is, letting him drive her car when he's drunk, stoned and has no license. He is a good driver, though.

i see his brother once in awhile
but i dont think we seem to like each other


I don't think Little Brother much likes any of us. I haven't seen him in a long time.

i dont think i like there company as much as i did before

Angelo is really schizoid, sometimes is great fun to be with and other times is a pain in the ass. But then that's true of all of us, I guess. I get along much better with Angelo on his own than when there are other people with us.

i think i like it too much hanging out alone trying to figure how im gonna get in her pants :)

Yeukh, just what you need, a whacko girlfriend. She OD-ed again, was in the hospital in a coma but recovered. One of these days she's gonna take that OD crap too far.

Well, when Angelo was in OCCC for two weeks she fucked two other guys (and told him about it), so just wait till he gets busted again and you might get your chance. I think you can do better than that, though.

Seventh has been down for almost a week, just when I was about to get my warrior to 50. Sigh.

-----


A gray and wet 9-11 morning, at least in the campus area. Aside from listening to a bit of the Verdi Requiem later in the day, I avoided all the one-year-after stuff, took special care to avoid being anywhere near a television set.

Since it was too wet for the secluded grove I left campus earlier than usual, bought beer, crackers and cream cheese and sat at the Moanas end of the beach park, bothered only by Paulo begging for a dollar (too broke, I said, too broke). Well, broke enough to harvest ashtrays and/or roll 'em myself from Top tobacco, but for a change with enough money in pocket to avoid any totally penniless days, if nothing unforeseen occurs or I don't indulge in some fit of extravagance.

In mid-afternoon I moved to the far end of the beach, bought another beer and had a shower. Angelo and the Pathetic Lady arrived. They'd just been "shopping". "Tell Okinawa hello for me," I said to Angelo. He laughed and said, "I won't get caught." History doesn't exactly prove him right, of course. I told them I should rename them Bonnie and Clyde. When I mentioned the Sleeptalker's remark about Little Brother and my response, Angelo said, "he doesn't even like me!" Then added, "he doesn't like himself." They went off to a pawn shop to convert their spoils to cash, said they'd be back later. Not long after they left, Tanioka arrived. We talked for awhile and he went over to Border's, came back a bit later and said he'd spoken to Angelo who was returning. We moved to a table nearer the 7-Eleven and I was about to go for another beer when Angelo returned, without the Pathetic Lady, said he didn't know what had happened to her. Then I.C. came walking by, carrying a book called something like How to Make a Fortune Quickly. I said the best way was to write a book with that kind of title, but he was convinced it was a valuable book. Hmmmm.

I did the beer run, paying only for Angelo's and mine, and luckily no cops went cruising by while we were sitting there, brown bags on table. RedEye arrived, making it the largest gathering of Bad Boys in quite some time. Eventually Tanioka asked, "how much money do you have?" "None of your business," I said, and he laughed. Pipe time. Not for me, thanks, I said, smiling at the memory of what I wrote about Angelo making the investment by at least offering. He and Tanioka went off to fill the pipe and I talked with the other two for a little while before going on to the Black Hole where fortunately they had some film on the television and I fell asleep before the ten o'clock news. I'd heard just a few moments of The Bush speaking on the radio and that was more than enough.

Appropriate for the times, I suppose, I came across two end-of-the-world type novels in a row. Carolyn See's witty Golden Days is set in California just before and after some unspecified enemy nuked L.A. (and other cities). And one of the weirdest books I've ever read, Left Behind by Tim LaHayes and Jerry Jenkins is the first of a series of novels based on the Biblical Last Days prophecies, the "Rapture" and all that. Strange reading.

Strange times.

982

Whenever I see the Boys, I ask if anyone has seen Rocky. Someone usually had and they all agreed he's lost weight, has gotten "skinny". Well, I finally saw him myself on Saturday, didn't think he looked that much thinner but was reminded that he certainly does have a beautiful body. Unfortunately I only saw him at a distance, we were headed in opposite directions, only exchanged waves. If I'd had the funds, I'd have stopped him and offered a beer. That brief, remote encounter was the only sign of the Bad Boys on the weekend, although there was a lengthy email from the Sleeptalker on Friday.

He's clearly growing restless and unhappy out there in the country, but at least he's going to some kind of classes (aiming at finally getting his high school diploma) and working on getting a driver's license. He tells me he misses seeing us, I tell him we miss seeing him ... maybe we should get up a party and go out to visit him.

A quiet weekend, mostly on campus. Seventh Circle continues to be unavailable so, as usual, I've returned to my original MUD love, Bartle's MUD2. It's now pay-to-play but I was given 100 hours as a gift, still have about 90 left. I've forgotten so much about the game that it frustrates me although more and more comes back as I play ... and make some really dumb mistakes. I had two fairly high-level players, managed to get them both killed, one on Friday and the other on Saturday, but since the library was fairly deserted on Sunday, I played a new one up to Hero level in two sets, would have done much better if I hadn't goofed on transforming directions. Idiot! There's one place where you read a chart to get sea directions, then reverse those to get from the Dragon Island back to safety. I messed up, drowned, so didn't get credit for killing the dragon. Sigh. I was amused, and a little abashed, by how much more seriously I take the game than I do Seventh. Of course part of the reason is dying altogether when you get killed, not just losing a few points. Luckily, you don't really "drown" and die, just lose all your stuff and those dragon-killing points.

This thing called the web is a puzzlement. I'm not sure I really like the way it uncovers so much stuff, stuff either never known and other stuff perhaps better left forgotten. One such case is this forty-year-old controversy over Rauschenberg's Short Circuit. I really had totally forgotten the letter from Jasper Johns (first mentioned in Tale 856). Of course, Johns is absolutely right in what he says about an artist's rights, but I think he was being a little coy with the "aesthetic" part of the disagreement. As I recall, it was far more the other part of what he admits, "economic", and undoubtedly also part of the inevitable "disagreements" which follow the end of any intimate relationship. I was a little surprised to see how explicitly Jonathan Katz writes about all that in his The Art of Code. I was also surprised by how much the entire tempest-in-a-teacup has floated around in my thoughts the past few days.

The incident was definitely a mistake. I wasn't as appalled by my own phrasing as I would have expected but the "political maneuvering" bit was as coy as Johns. Castelli was probably on target when he called me a "beetch". It was also a rather arrogant bit of writing for a twenty-two-year-old relative newbie to the intricacies of the New York world. Edward Meneeley should have stopped me, but as I recall, he actually encouraged it. Silly for both of us, certainly did our personal careers no good and aside from the brief flair of publicity likewise did the business no good. I rate it as one of the most serious mistakes I made in NYC, along with leaving the Bertha Schaefer Gallery and locking horns with Lee Krasner Pollock. Never mind, I tell myself, I would eventually have become unhappy with that life anyway, no matter how much more successful it might have become.

And had I been more discreet and careful, I probably wouldn't be sitting here in my so-called golden years enjoying the sight of all these beautiful, slim, brown boys, would I?

983

At last, a Black Tuesday which isn't all that black. An extra couple of dollars for one last box of Top would be nice, but not worth sacrificing one of the two beers allotted for the day. So, I had to resort to the ashtrays/Top method for tobacco and hold the daily consumption at two 40-zone bottles, but that's the best budget attempt yet. (No, no need at all to remind me that had I been a little less generous during the Follies, even these minor nuisances wouldn't exist.)

A most peculiar email arrived from the Sleeptalker, ranting about Angelo. I think the poor man is being driven round the bend by all the pressures of country living and, no doubt especially, family contact. I wish I had some alternative to offer.

-----

To: The Sleeptalker
Subject: Say what?!

so ill never hang with him again

Never say never.

he brings me to many logical emotions
(hate, fear, worry, trust, anger, ect.)


Any friend does.

god i want him dead
oh so dead!


Like I said, say what?!

Nonsense, get a grip.

What any of us does, including you, is our own business. Maybe we can try to influence our friends, try to get them to live healthier, happier lives but we can't lay down rules or expect them to live the way we think they should. The best way is just to show them an example by doing it yourself.

I could still hang out with Tanioka or Angelo even if I never smoke the pipe again, even be with them when they are (and that has often happened). You seem to have this idea that because, right now, you don't want to do drugs, everyone else should stop too. Not going to happen.

Friendship is more important.

-----

I went to google.com and searched for Bertha Schaefer. Most of the links are to artists who once exhibited at her gallery, names I haven't thought of in years. No superstars, but good solid painters, which was Bertha's style. I see that all the documents related to her gallery are in the Archive of American Art at the Smithsonian and was amused to see her listed next to Betty Parsons. Talk about contrast! Bertha was a warm, comfortable woman, easy to be with, never giving any reason to feel in awe of her (considerable) power in that little pond called the NYC Art World. Parsons was the opposite, one of the most formidable women I've ever known.

In the late seventies I was working on an extensive series of large watercolor drawings. Pondering one of them (always viewed up close while working on them), I propped it on a chair across the room and was amazed to see how much different it looked from a distance, how much more successful it was than I had thought. That proved true of most of those drawings. I liked them enough to for the first time ever make the rounds of a few galleries, hoping for a positive reaction. I went first to Tibor de Nagy since his assistant was a fan of the Dada News. He liked the drawings but didn't think Tibor would be interested, suggested showing them to Betty Parsons. Erk! Oh well, I guess I was in a brave mood that day because I went on to the Parsons Gallery, was somewhat astonished when she actually agreed to look at them. Alas, neither she nor Tibor's assistant could be manipulated into seeing them from a distance, so they missed the strange optical effect that created. Parsons suggested taking them to Jill Kornblee. Well, I'd been on friendly terms with Jill since the early sixties so had no problem showing them to her. I even tried to persuade her to view them from a distance, but she was so near-sighted she said she'd see nothing but a blur! (Odd situation for an art dealer.)

So my one attempt at "cold turkey" visits was a dismal flop but then I guess I fared better than writers who try submitting a manuscript cold to a publisher. At least people did look at the drawings, even if they didn't see them at their most effective.

Memories, memories. Ah well, as Trevanian says in Shibumi: "Recall also that the old must make much of their experience. It is all they have left."

983a

Felix complained about Dame Fortune being mentioned too often, although admitting there have been times in his life when it seemed uncanny that just what he needed and had no means to obtain nonetheless suddenly turned up. He associated my use of "Dame Fortune" with luck, which he doesn't believe in, and an alternative might be chance, which I don't believe in. So, Dame Fortune will have to do.

And she did, in fine style on not-so-Black Tuesday. Some poor soul forgot a little bag on the bus. In it was a book, a military memoir by some American General about Vietnam in the early seventies, when America's part in that ludicrous war was almost over. That, I quickly decided, I could do without, never mind my usual habit of reading whatever falls in my path. BUT ... also in the bag was an unopened packet of Samson rolling tobacco! Lordy, the good Dame was outdoing herself with that, not only the tobacco I needed but the finest rolling tobacco I've ever sampled and, at least here, the most expensive, at almost five dollars a packet.

I am impressed. And grateful, of course.

A reader asked, how is it I never took work around to the galleries but ended up being represented by Bertha Schaefer? Ah. Bertha was one of the NY dealers who now and then kindly visited studios and looked at work, whether she had any intention of representing the artists or not. I doubt that, not knowing me at all, she would have done so for me, but she did come to our studio to see Edward Meneeley's work. I stayed out of sight until after she'd visited his area of the studio and had been shown his work, then joined them for a drink in the "living" area. A very large blue-black-and-white painting of mine was hanging there and after awhile Bertha said, "that's a very handsome painting." Kazaam, I was in her gallery.

Dame Bertha, Dame Fortune ... cue up Rodgers & Hammerstein, there is nothing like a dame .....

984

The reader who uncovered it wrote: I am sorry if my sending you the Johns letter has given you distressing thoughts about the past. Not at all, not at all, au contraire I have been under the thumb of be here now too long, most excellent to wander through temps perdu. I might even finally tackle another tale in the Possession in Great Measure series, a tale about Edward Meneeley. Of course it must be completely honest, thus would have to be prefaced with the same disclaimer which opens the tale of Hyde Park Gate. But then, that disclaimer applies to all the Tales. I am quite sure the Sleeptalker, Rocky, Tanioka, Angelo, et al. would tell these tales in very different ways than I have done.

The Magic Third Wednesday got off to a strange beginning. As always, I was plagued by a bizarre, rather stupid anticipation. I know that about eleven o'clock is the earliest I can expect to actually have that SocSec check in hand, often later. Nonetheless, I first woke at two-thirty wondering if it was time to get up! Then again, about every hour, I checked my watch, finally gave up just before five. In the toilet/shower room, a young man wearing nothing but a tee shirt walked toward me, his handsome equipment standing straight out. I admired both his equipment and his nonchalance, but then perhaps he's an exhibitionist. If so, we could use more of them at the Black Hole.

It's most unfortunate there how the interesting (at least, visually) inhabitants disappear, while the boring, ugly, tiresome specimens linger on and on.

As almost always, I got the bus, had to stop at 7-Eleven to get coffee with foodstamps since I didn't have the fifty-two cents for McD's "senior coffee" (and I congratulate myself for budgeting?!). In the toilet afterwards, a young man was obviously having a very good time in the next booth, legs jiggling accompanied by slight moans and a huge sigh when he'd finished his self-attentions. Peculiar how often that happens there at such an early hour.

Once on the computer, I checked email, a few favorite spots on the web and then returned to MUD2, mainly to pass the time until it was sensible to check the mailbox. I'd gotten Coronado, my new player, to Champion, a treacherous point in that game where, to transform into a "magic user" once must touch the dreaded Touchstone. At that moment, preferably with the lucky rabbit's foot in hand, one either becomes a Sorcerer .... or dies, dead dead. Welcome, Coronado the Sorcerer. Someone asked me how long I've been playing, and I could almost hear the gasp when I said "about fifteen years".

Another email from the Sleeptalker, lamenting the fact that he'd written "a good mail" and then somehow erased it before sending it. He was sorry, so was I. It's splendid to be hearing from him so often, though. I assume he must be using a computer where it is he's going to classes.

The evening before Magic Third Wednesday, I was walking through the mall, checking ashtrays. Yes, I had the lovely Samson tobacco, but what I usually do with these "roll-ups" is use a lengthy treasure from the ashtray as filter, fill the rest of the paper with loose tobacco and roll it. Sitting outside the largest department store was Angelo, the Pathetic Lady just emerging from the store. They had a large shopping bag and had apparently been taking turns going into the store adding stuff to the bag. Bonnie and Clyde, indeed. The headline in one of the newspapers said the next morning, "Hawaii thefts rise 3.6%". I think I know part of the reason for that.

I had picked up three lengthy snipes at the ashtray near where they were sitting, said "you must be rich if you can ignore these". Angelo gave me two cigarettes! Okay, so I was wrong about him not having the sense to invest in good will. He said they had to have a shower in the park. "Together?! Are you going to use the men's side or the women's side?" They laughed, then went off in the direction of the pawn shop. I wonder if they ever got around to having showers, together or separately?

As I wrote not long ago, I'm not really a fan of the international intrigue genre, what might once have been called simply "spy novels". But Trevanian is such an elegant writer he could tackle any genre whatsoever and be assured of my attention. His Shibumi is magnificent.

So is Amy Tan's The Hundred Secret Senses.

985

The check-cashing place gives you a card. Each time you cash a check, they stamp the card and when you've cashed nine, the next one is free. Naturally I made sure it would be the SocSec check which was the freebie. Hoopla, an extra eleven dollars! (Just as well, since forty-two-dollars was coming out for the mailbox.)

I went back to campus for awhile after cashing it, mainly to feed the kittens. They'd had human food for three days since you can't buy pet food with foodstamps. No matter, one day we shared a can of Alaska pink salmon (I wonder why red salmon is so much more expensive than pink?). Then the supermarket put cans of chunk white tuna on sale for less than the cat version. The only thing that flopped was Oscar Meyer wieners. The kittens weren't pleased at all, sat staring at me as if asking "where's the real lunch?" The wieners were all gone next morning, though. They must be keeping an eye out for me now since I'm rarely there for more than a minute or two before I see their little heads peering over the edge of the wall.

Then to the discount tobacco store, picking up another bottle of Mickey's Ice on the way, and to the beach park. I could see someone was sprawled on the table I was headed for, grumbled to myself about bums who sleep on the tables, then as I got closer saw it was Tanioka! He didn't stay very long since he wanted to have dinner at the Black Hole, even if he had already eaten the Krishna food. Hearty appetite. I couldn't think of eating anything else on a day when I'd indulged in the Krishna handout. He told me the night before he'd been on his bench when a woman stopped in a car, asked if he was homeless, and then asked if he wanted to go home with her. He didn't. First time I've heard of a woman trying to pick up a homeless man, although it happens often enough with gay men. Of course, maybe she was just being kind, was going to feed him ... but I doubt it. He should have said yes, what the hell, an adventure. Unless she was a Lizzie Borden type.

I went over to Sears, thinking I'd buy another pair of cargo shorts, but they're revamping the entire store and have now gotten to the men's department which is a shambles. No more Canyon River Blue clothes, either. (So far only one button has fallen off the current pair.)

Not a very successful expedition to the used bookshop next day, either, since they had only one unread Cat Who book, The Cat Who Smelled a Rat. Still, an amusing lightweight read after the not at all lightweight Amy Tan book. Now that I've read all of her books, except for the two works for children, I definitely vote for The Hundred Secret Senses as the best, but they're all quite wonderful. It was six years between her most recent and the previous one. I hope it's not that long before another one.

More emails from the Sleeptalker. I have to wonder if he isn't going totally nuts out there in the country.

I suppose I'd best not write any details about the amazing thing that happened on Friday. Who knows, the idiot involved might stumble upon the Tales.

Finders keepers, losers weepers ...

985a

Third Saturday, time to clear out the locker for the morning. But hurrah, no laundry session. Buying new clothes is so much less boring than sitting in a laundromat. A new pair of shorts, first time I've bought something at Macy's (well, at least in a Honolulu Macy's), in a wonderful shade of gray. Slate gray, perhaps? It looks like a stone color. And a fancy tee shirt from Crazy Shirts, supposedly dyed with lava dust, with "House of Smoke" in English and Japanese on the front, two splendid dragons on the back with a list in small letters of all the good things one can smoke (run mouse over the back button or click on zoom).

Shopping accomplished, I went to the beach park with a beer. Some absolutely dreary, very drunk person came and sat at the table, rambled on about how he looks like a mainlander but was actually born on the North Shore, how he's been homeless for eleven years, how he only knows two people very well (no, I didn't know them, I replied to the question), how he's really a good person, blah, blah, blah. I kept reading my book but he didn't take the hint so I gave up, said "take care" and walked to a distant table.

A little later I saw him go off to the mall so I returned to the original table, was soon joined by Joe Guam on his way "home". He'd seen his benefactor so was in a happy mood for a change. Then Angelo and the Pathetic Lady arrived. Angelo looked totally stressed and frazzled. I asked if they'd eaten. No, so we bid Joe farewell and went to Bubba Gump's. After one of their "boilers" (glass of beer and shot of tequila), Angelo loosened up. That place does serve the best cheeseburger in town. I'm sure Angelo would have been happier if I'd spent the money on the pipe instead of food, but I think I may skip a Follies this month, and the Pathetic Lady seemed delighted with the unusual outing.

I tried to get Angelo to talk about the Sleeptalker, wanted to see if I could find out why the Sleeptalker has been ranting about him so much lately. But all Angelo would say is, "he's gay."

Fool moon in Hawaii, keep on shining.

986

"So, I knelt down for a few moments of prayer. In those days, the churches were always open so that people who paid for them could pray in them, a profoundly radical concept as far as the clergy of the present are concerned."

No problem guessing who wrote that. And ain't it the truth. I went to the used bookshop on Saturday, saw they were having their occasional weekend discount of 25% on all books, so bought the first two volumes of Andrew Greeley's three-book decades-spanning account of a Chicago Irish family, beginning with A Midwinter's Tale, continuing with Younger Than Springtime. I'll be back for the third volume, never mind not having the discount. Worth far more than the full $3.45 tag, anyway.

Incredibly, there are suddenly three new young'uns at the Black Hole. Even more incredibly, I've already gotten a hug from one of them! Well, a reader did suggest recently that perhaps it was time to find some new Bad Boys. The hugger I met at the beach park on Sunday. He was wrapped up in a blanket, asleep, under a tree near my table, and I enjoyed looking up from my book now and then to watch as he shifted positions. Young, on the borderline between cute and handsome, with a struggling short beard and, as I eventually discovered, a delightful smile. He also has a fine, lightly hairy chest. Eventually he woke, walked over to ask for a cigarette, then sat and talked for awhile, told me he was staying at the Black Hole (sleeping downstairs, thank heaven). He was scheduled to get his foodstamps card on Monday, but asked if I knew where free food was available on Sundays. I wasn't sure, except of course, for the Black Hole. I told him I'd wondered how long he'd sleep once his shady spot was invaded by the hot sunlight. He said it wasn't that which awakened him but those nasty little black ants. They are bastids, those bugs, walk around on you for ages and then suddenly, for no discernable reason, bite. That's when he took off his tee shirt, ostensibly to check it for stray ants although I have a suspicion he was also flirting. No complaints, nary a one. I had to leave, alas, but gave him five dollars, told him to buy himself some food. He was touchingly grateful and gave me a hug. Instant admission to the Bad Boys club. His name is Brandon. I can't think of anything I like better for him, so I'll use his real name.

Had to leave, because I wanted to shower before meeting Helen R and Mme de Crécy to see "Four Feathers". A handsome film, well crafted and for the most part, well acted, but it just didn't really touch me, not nearly as much as the black-and-white version from the late thirties. Afterwards I treated them to dinner at the Likelike Drive-In, a week-delayed celebration of Helen's birthday, and listened as they both complained bitterly about their jobs. "I'm glad that's all behind me," I said.

At the Black Hole, I grabbed one of the few empty spots left, sighing because it was out of the paths of the few fans still functioning. One of the big floor fans must have died, only two left now, and of the six overhead fans only one works regularly, another now and then. They definitely need a volunteer fan-repairman. I wonder if the director has the sense to appeal for such things? Well, next to me, as I discovered when he came out from under a tee shirt blocking the light, was a quite adorable young man, dark tousled curls and a nice, slim chest (even if his feet were oddly unattractive). He looked much cuter with his glasses than without, as I discovered later. He also suffered from insomnia, kept getting up during the night and disappearing for lengthy times. Insomnia seemed to be contagious down there on the Equinox night and I had a little problem with it, too, not helped by having such a distractingly interesting neighbor.

And not helped, either, when an even cuter, even younger slim brown fellow settled two mats on the other side of my immediate neighbor.

Dunno if it's Dame Fortune or my Guardian Angel or what, but whoever/whatever surely outdid themselves on Monday morning. I've long been very cautious about that locker key since if lost it would cost twenty-five dollars to replace. But on the bus headed to campus, I discovered it was missing from my pocket. Ouch! Fortunately I knew I'd only gotten into that pocket once on the weekend, and that at the secluded grove. So I went immediately there, was nothing short of astonished to see the key on the ground under my usual bench.

Oh lucky man.

986a

Make that four new young'uns at the Black Hole. And who woulda thunk it, romance at the Black Hole! Well, sex anyway. Okay, I confess, I have "thunk" about it a few times, have heard that it happens, but it seemed so impossible. There's not a moment of privacy there and after staying there for over a year I've seen some fellows amusing themselves but never a hint of a couple doing interesting things together.

After the restless sleep the night before I was ready to hit the mat early on Monday evening, got there in time to pick a spot within a fan's breeze path and fell asleep very quickly. As often happens, when the lights go out and the television goes off, the transition wakes me. I noticed a young man had settled beside me, unusually close, and that he was one of the fellows who don't like the mats, had his own grass mats and a towel as a mattress. He looked Filipino, mid-twenties, shirtless, a nice but not exceptional body. And before I went back to sleep he shifted his leg so his foot was touching mine. I didn't move. Then he rolled on his side, facing me, and his crotch was right by my hand. I could feel the outline of an obviously firm cylinder. Gulp. Proceeding with extreme caution, since the very last thing I'd want to do in that place is make a move on the wrong person, I moved my hand gently. No objection, but he returned to his original position on his back. Then he reached behind his head, got his tee shirt and spread it over the lower part of his chest and crotch, shifted a little closer to me. I took that as an invitation so slid my hand under the tee shirt and rubbed his chest and belly, then went down the front of his shorts. Very nice indeed, very nice. But after a minute or so he pushed my hand away. Peculiar, I thought, but gave it up and went back to sleep.

At about three o'clock I woke to feel his foot firmly pressing mine, again and again. He had put an even bigger shirt over him as cover and when I moved my hand into position he rather brusquely pushed it down to the target area. He had lowered his shorts, giving me full access. Well, that was much too nice an object, deserved more than a hand job, so I gave it to him, the shirt providing concealment although anyone who noticed would surely have known what was going on. Why would they complain if so? Maybe I haven't noticed it happening before because I don't spend much time awake at that hour watching what people are doing. Once he finished, quite lustily, he again quite abruptly pushed me away. Macho man. That's okay, my boy, any time you're in need, you know where to seek assistance.

As usual, I'd spent the morning on campus, puzzled over another email from the Sleeptalker:

well life here gets pretty difficult
people keep trashing my camp
and there liitle teenagers and preteens to just kids
i really felt the need to hurt one real bad :P
but there just kids
i feel like getting revenge

I assume that means he is living "in the rough", no longer at his brother's place. It must be a very lonely time for him.

At the beach park, a rather handsome local Japanese man asked for a cigarette, then asked about the Greeley book. When I told him it was a family story, Irish American, he asked if I'd seen the film, Joy Luck Club. No, but I'd read the book. "Reading is probably better," he said, "make your own pictures." Quite so.

Four young people, three male, one female, were doing some kind of martial arts exercises nearby, the lads all shirtless and a most enjoyable sight. Eventually one of them walked over and asked for a cigarette, sat on the table and smiled sweetly as payment. I said if he wanted to be a fighter, he shouldn't be smoking. He laughed and said, "I don't smoke very much." Usually I refuse people that young, but he was too charming to resist.

As was my most surprising sleeping neighbor.

986b

gone fishing was a really nice one
but i shouldnt have written, 'fuck you i hate you!'
that just made all the things worse in my little life


[the Sleeptalker didn't write it, I did, but he
had been saying it all day]

i think the king of memphis is really bad!
[okinawa]! (giggle) i missed that dude when i saw his pix


[Prince, not King, but I'm glad one of my favorite critics
is pleased.]

And yeh, I miss him too when I see his pix.

987

Monday night's grand adventure (well, actually Tuesday morning's) had a strangely disorienting effect on me throughout the day. It was simply so much fun, can't deny it. But I also can't deny this weird schizophrenic approach to sex which has been a part of my thinking for a decade now. Yes, I like it, want it, enjoy it, but there's another part of me which thinks it would be far nobler to give it up altogether.

I recently told a reader I was feeling a little guilty about that astonishing melon from heaven I found, how it would have been "more noble" to have returned it all to the owner.

What's up with this noble stuff?

Anyway, having enjoyed the adventure so much I wanted more fun, silly man that I am, and just about every man I saw seemed a desirable playmate (with the solid exception of Joe Guam!). Even when not in such a lustful mood the campus this year is filled with exceptionally attractive young men, the best crop in all the years I've been hanging out here. When in that mood, it's outrageous and I had to force myself to concentrate on my book. Naturally I went to the bookshop for that third Greeley volume, Christmas Wedding. I don't think this O'Malley family saga is one of Father Greeley's better efforts but even his second-best is superior to most writers at their very best. And, of course, letting the tale span half the twentieth century provides ample framework for Greeley's often acidic comments on the events of those decades, sometimes expected, now and then surprising. His take on the Korean War was one surprise, but then I grew up in a household where Douglas MacArthur was forever a hero and Truman a jackass. And I suspect there are plenty of people even now who think MacArthur was right, that we should have tackled China directly then. Maybe so, if we could have won a war with China in the fifties which seems doubtful. And what would we have done with it even if we had won? (That same question certainly needs to be asked about The Bush's desired war against Iraq.)

So I fed the kittens and the birds and did my best not to leer at every cute guy who walked through the grove, especially one very cute one who sat for a time at a nearby bench, nodding and smiling when he arrived.

Then I went off to the beach park. Kimo, that "handsome statue" was with Lord and Lady Moana but none of them came over to ask for a cigarette, surprisingly, although Lord Moana waved each time he passed by, as did Paulo. The local Japanese fellow who had been in the park the day before was with the guy I call Spammer since for years he's never worn any tee shirts but ones with "SPAM" on the front, sitting at the bus stop drinking from forties. Eventually I moved to my usual table near the stop and Tim, the Japanese, came over to ask for a cigarette. I scolded him, said he should at least hit the ashtrays if he's going to sit in the park drinking beer. He's a sweet man, though, so I gave him a couple of lengthy snipes, later yielded and gave him a virgin smoke as well. Unfortunately he sat down so Spammer wandered over, too. He's always been very friendly to me but we've spent little time together. Little, but enough to know he's a crashing bore, an evaluation which was reinforced with this encounter. Joe Guam stopped to chat, as usual, thought Tim was Tanioka. Except for their shared Japanese ancestry, not much resemblance.

I would have been far happier to have had the time alone with Tim, but then undoubtedly would have made a pass at him given my all-day state of mind. He probably wouldn't mind. Who knows, he might even accept.

That, my friend, I tell myself, is not an attitude you should encourage in yourself.

988

No matter how many times or in how many different ways I experience it, I am often geniunely amazed by Angelo's monumental greed. I'd rather be over-generous, even allow myself to be taken advantage of, than to suffer from such a condition. Of course, I shouldn't be in the least surprised, much less amazed. That's the way he is and will no doubt always be.

I almost made it through the month without a Follies but fell victim to Angelo's charm on Wednesday. It was a minor Follies though, partly because of his greed and also due to the assistance of the Pathetic Lady. Unknowing assistance, possibly. (I don't entirely discount the possibility that they set the whole thing up.)

I spent the afternoon in the beach park, was just about to return to the mall to get my sunset brew when Angelo and the Pathetic Lady arrived. I offered to buy them beer. She's not drinking, asked for milk instead. Angelo asked for some of his beloved raw tuna and when I agreed then wanted me to buy something else for her. I declined, feeling she could either share the fish or buy something herself. After all, she gets as much money monthly as I do, perhaps a bit more. And despite that recent dinner treat, I've no intention of taking on the Pathetic Lady as a regular expense.

Angelo, on the other hand, had to see the Qualifying Doc. Having heard that the one we both saw had gotten stricter, he went to a different doc. Application denied. He'll have to wait a month before he can try again. I have suggested to them all that this Crazy Money game is not going to be perpetual, especially for young, able-bodied men.

I'm not quite sure how he did it, but he made her angry in the mall and she went off on her own. I have been adamant about not sharing the pipe with him when she's along and I suspect he deliberately set it up to eliminate that barrier. I suspected so even more when she eventually joined us in the park. Angelo accused her of having tried to pick up a guy who had followed her over from the mall and was sitting at the nearby bus stop. I suggested that the man might just be waiting for a bus, a suggestion which proved accurate when a bus came along. But he was insistent, got her thoroughly annoyed that time and she left. Clever Angelo.

Then the charm machine went on full force with the ultimate prize (or what he sees as the ultimate prize, anyway) being part of the pipe deal. Given my mood this week, that was quite persuasive.

So we went to get pipe filling. Maybe he's forgotten that I've bought twenty-dollar bags from the honest Paulo, know what the approximate amount of white powder should be in such a bag. He either bought two ten-dollar bags and tucked one away or, more likely, bought one and pocketed the extra ten. He no doubt thinks I'm a total pushover and, of course, he's not entirely wrong. But it was a mistake since it put the damper on an extended party. He did at least twice provide access to the ultimate prize.

[Disclaimer added a week later: I think I was wrong. The vendors at that "drugstore" don't give generous measure.]

After another bag and a few more rounds of the pipe, he got worried about the Pathetic Lady, said he was going to check on her and would be right back. After half an hour or so he returned, said she was on a bench outside The Garage. Yeukh.

I have a suspicion she probably very quietly opened the door to the stairwell and heard us talking, but he said he lied to her, told her he had left me at the mall. We smoked some more, then he went to check on her again. That time I began to wonder if he was ever coming back, but eventually he did, said he wanted to wait until she had fallen asleep and then we'd continue the party. I was stoned enough by then to not care very much what happened but wasn't ready yet to undertake the walk to the 7-Eleven, so I just lingered in the dark parking area until about one o'clock, then went to get two large cans of chilled green tea and spent the rest of the night sitting at a picnic table, two zonked even to read. And I pondered the question of whether or not it had been a mistake to relax the friendly-but-distant approach I'd adopted with both Okinawa and Angelo after the CD incident.

Most peculiar. The morning-after crash was much harder than it has been when far larger quantities were smoked. Perhaps the reduced amount skips the still-high effect of the first day and zaps right into the awful second day hangover?

My condition on this sunny Thursday morning can best be described as fragile.

988a

Ha! Ms. Virginia Slims is trying to quit smoking again. A pack of the things missing only two. Lousy cigarettes but I can use them for the endless hordes of tobacco-beggars.

I am firmly committed to my vow, I shall not fall into the batu-hangover cliché, "never again". (Of course, that's also a classic alcohol-hangover cliché.) But I must admit the thought did pass through my mind several times on this day after. I think my theory is correct about the quantity smoked. If sufficient, the high lingers the first day after, the crash not coming until the second day. With this smaller quantity experience, the day after was the hideous one. But I also wonder if we didn't perhaps get a dicey batch, because this hangover was worse than any I've experienced before. After all, we're dealing with kitchen lab produce here, much like bathtub gin in the Prohibition Era or some of those strange LSD-based concoctions from the late sixties when wacky California amateur chemists spiced up the lysergic acid (even if, heaven knows, that stuff needed no extra punch).

Fortunately the weather was fine, which helped, and I was careful to eat small quantities of food since my stomach seemed constantly on the verge of rebellion. And slow consumption of beer helped ease the physical tension which is always part of the ice aftermath. I had forgotten how dirty The Garage is, spent a long time scrubbing myself in the shower and washing that new tee shirt. I suspected anything dyed with volcanic dust was likely to fade, so wanted to give it several cold-water washes before trusting it to a machine. It did fade slightly, but to an even more pleasant shade of gray.

And there was the usual process of pondering what had gone on during the trip and what I think about this particular drug. I know one reason I enjoy these Follies is because the drug provides an excuse to be outrageous. That's nonsense, of course. If I want to be outrageous, I can do so without the excuse. And as for it being a seduction tool, it would be less trouble and far less expensive to just buy the young man a beer and give him twenty dollars to drop his shorts. No shortage of likely prospects on those terms, I suspect.

That reminds me, I wonder what has happened to Chico?

989

Nothing happening in the sky to suggest it and we're a long way from a Full Moon, but there certainly are a lot of people in a lunar condition. Crazy Annie was in McD's, along with Paulo (whom I've never seen in that place before). Annie must have picked up a rough one, because she looked pretty battered, her bottom lip almost one solid scab. And she was ranting away, going to everyone in the place and trying to get them to listen. No one wanted to, including me. I just got my coffee and fled out to a distant bench. Eventually Paulo came out on his own and when he stopped at my bench I said "too early for that stuff". Then Annie came out, still ranting, so I quickly got up, told Paulo, "I'm going into hiding."

Later, walking through the mall on the way to the beach park, a fellow I think of as Hans stopped me. "Can I talk to you? I've got a handicap that only God knows about." I said I was in a hurry, would see him later in the park. Okay, I felt a little guilty for not giving the madman a bit of my time. He has always been friendly to me although we've never spent time together. But I really wasn't at all in the mood for his distress (and was careful not to return to his usual area of the park until I was certain he wasn't around).

Then at the Black Hole one of the security guys who periodically suffers from some kind of control-freak attacks insisted that everyone had to sleep in the spot he designated. What a terrible idea. One reason there are so few problems there is because the regulars all know who they don't want to sleep next to (and usually with good cause). I was lucky, neither of my (first-time) neighbors were snorers or thrashers, but if he'd placed me next to a few of the people there I would have left instead. I hope he doesn't make a habit of that routine, else I will for the first time send a written complaint to the director.

And in the morning a young man who usually only has his particular fits at Full Moon time was ranting away in his usual monotonous drone, every third word being fock or focking. Focking punk, fock you, etc. etc. Fortunately he didn't start until about five o'clock, sometimes gets going as early as four with lots of "shut the fuck up" responses from his neighbors.

After I escaped from Hans I went to the far end of the beach park, stopped in at Borders. Oh my, oh my, does that place ever fire up my desire machine. I was hoping they had one of Fleming's other recordings on a listening station but they didn't. Looking through the titles on her various compilation CDs I saw that I could certainly put together one I'd love to own but none of them were compelling enough, by themselves, to want (they didn't have her Mozart selection, nor the complete Giovanni she has recorded). As usual, I checked to see what they had by Virgil Thomson and was much tempted by a CD with the three symphonies and a shorter work I've never heard. A New Zealand orchestra! (Prophets in their own country, etc.) I resisted the temptation. The internal jukebox protested by playing "Symphony on a Hymn Tune" for much of the evening and the next morning. I'd love to hear the CD but doubt I'd want to listen to it often enough to justify owning it.

I felt the same way about the new Jackson Browne CD. I really liked the second track very much and the brief samples I made of the other tracks, but if I bought it I'd probably listen to it often for a couple of weeks and then stick it in my locker. Deciding I'd better get out of there before I messed up the budget, just before reaching the exit I spotted the new boxed set of 4 CDs which include everything Cat Stevens recorded, along with a number of previously unreleased tracks including a duet with Elton John. Oh, I want it, I want it. Forget about it. Eighty dollars is out of the question.

Earlier I'd followed an intuitive urge to visit the State Library. The freebie collection was as sparse as I've ever seen it, but there was one I've been trying to find, Susan Howatch's Absolute Truths, the only one of her Church of England novels not yet read. Although early in the book I scoffed "how corny", it eventually won me over.

On both Thursday and Friday evenings I spotted Joe Guam getting ready to head home and ducked over to the mall to avoid him.

Sometimes I'd really like to be invisible.

990

I amused Barbara on Sunday morning when I told her, "the dark one needs to be taught some manners." The kittens are tiger tabbies, almost certainly one male, one female. The male, slightly larger, is the classic dark brown with darker, almost black, stripes. The female is an unusual light beige, rather like sealpoint Siamese, with only slightly darker stripes and with a very tiny, totally irresistable face. The male has finally broken the silence but instead of a pleasant meow, he hisses at me when I get up to give them their food! I hissed back at him on Sunday, which obviously surprised him. As Barbara said, "they're just scared." But after two weeks of getting their daily handout, he's also a very silly cat. I've had to start dividing the food because he's a pig, tries to eat most of it before letting her get near.

I stayed in the secluded grove for most of the morning, engrossed in Absolute Truths. It's the least successful of the six Church of England books, I think, but fascinating reading nonetheless. After a brief time on-line once Hamilton Library opened, I went downhill to get lunch. There was a light sprinkle of rain when I returned to campus, so my feathered friends at the secluded grove missed out on sharing since I had to sit in a sheltered spot. The drizzle didn't continue for long. After another visit to Hamilton and a little while playing Seventh Circle, finally back again, I left campus, got a beer and went to the beach park. Tanioka was there so we spent the rest of the afternoon and the early evening together. He's keen on us getting a studio apartment in Waikiki, hopes to swing it by December. Since there's no lease involved, why not, worth a try. I've no qualms about sharing with him, am just not sure I'll find the convenience of private shelter worth giving up almost half my income each month. But it would be an interesting experience, for sure and quite odd to end up living in Waikiki again, five years later.

Can an old gay guy in his early sixties successfully set up housekeeping with a straight young man in his late twenties?

The control-freak had been missing at the Black Hole on Saturday night so we could sleep where we pleased, but he was back on Sunday with the assigned space routine. People are already adjusting by switching places in the line to avoid being next to someone they don't want to sleep by, but that doesn't solve the problem of being forced to sleep in one of the less desireable areas (like just outside the bathroom, which would be a real nightmare). I do hope this stupid exercise is short lived.

Then, to greet the last day of September, at last! that wobbly tooth fell out. Good riddance, even if it will take awhile to adjust to that gap which looks so much larger. Panther as a jack-o-lantern, just in time for Halloween.

991

Tale 988 amended with this disclaimer:

[Disclaimer added a week later: I think I was wrong. The vendors at that "drugstore" don't give generous measure.]

I witnessed directly the exchange of a twenty dollar bill for a bag. The quantity was noticeably less than is usually provided via Paulo's sources and some bags I have seen from Chinatown vendors. I'm happy to know it, would certainly prefer to be cheated by a drug-dealing stranger than by a friend.

The October Ice Follies (part one?) followed more closely on the heels of the late September one than I would have preferred. October first was Tanioka's payday and I found him in the beach park in the late afternoon drinking vodka and orange juice, having already indulged in the pipe. Angelo and the Pathetic Lady were supposedly in a Waikiki hotel room. No, I didn't want to mix vodka with my beer intake and no, I definitely didn't want to visit the hotel, but yes, I agreed to share the price of a bag with him. A novel experience, passing the pipe with Tanioka on his own. It didn't last long, though, because Angelo arrived at The Garage. They had only stayed in the hotel one night. Unfortunately he didn't manage to ditch the PL but the party continued after a walk to the drugstore. The Tales Jinx again. If I say I won't do something, I inevitably do. At least the PL was non-intrusive for the most part. And his monumental greed aside, Angelo is often touchingly sweet during a Follies. I am not at all sure if the situation were reversed, I'd put up with iced-crazy me in order to get the pipe filled, but he does it and most kindly. We had an hour or so alone in the early morning which made the difference between it being an amusing Follies or a dull one, and we finally finished off the last pipe at about four o'clock.

I left, walked to 7-Eleven and got chilled green tea and cigarettes, sat in the park watching the day begin. The hangover effect was not pleasant, it never is, but certainly wasn't as severe as the last time leading me to think I was correct about having had a bum batch. I was feeling the usual tenseness though, so despite being somewhat embarrassed at buying beer that early, I went back to the 7-Eleven at eight o'clock. "That's some breakfast," said the cashier. "A hangover cure," I said.

Back in the park I continued to just sit watching the actions and interactions of the other people, enjoying the beer and deciding I wouldn't travel to campus, would spend the day in the park instead. After finishing the beer I spread my beachtowel on the grass and rested for about an hour, still not ready for sleep but welcoming the rest. Then a nice long shower to get rid of the dirt from The Garage. I didn't go for another beer until early afternoon, had absolutely no desire for food but managed to eat a large bran muffin which I hoped might counteract the usual unsettled stomache. I think I smoke too much tobacco during a Follies and that aggravates not only the frustrating inability to satisfy what is only a mental, not really physical, sexual desire but also contributes to the general discomfort of the hangover.

That sexual frustration aspect is the thing I dislike most about this drug (and about the only thing it has in common with my experience of the pharmaceutical version).

I had talked a little with Tanioka about the apartment project, telling him I thought it was perhaps too ambitious finding a place in Waikiki (other areas would surely be a bit cheaper), but that my main concern was not wanting him to settle into a place when I might find after the first month that I preferred having the money in my pocket more than the roof over my head. Well, we have some time to think about it all, so no need for an immediate decision.

Back in the park, I was pleased to see Jimmy the Singing Filipino there again. I'd spoken to him the day before as I was leaving with Tanioka, reminded him how much I had enjoyed his singing (that surely was a long time ago). He's so like Mondo in being utterly spaced-out but I don't know if it's drugs or just his usual, gentle madness.

But I stayed on my own except for a brief exchange with Lord Moana and a sunset chat with Joe Guam. I'd talked with Lady Moana for awhile recently, congratulating her on the news that she's just become a grandmother for the fifth time. How odd it is to think of a little kid knowing his granny lives in a park. She told me one of the regulars who sleeps in the area on the other side of the pond had killed himself, jumping off a nine-storey building.

I'd whiled away time with a Rosamunde Pilcher double-feature, Under Gemini and Snow in April, had moved on to an unusual novel, Asta's Book by Ruth Rendell, writing under her pen-name Barbara Vine. It's an ingenious mixture of a diary from the early 1900s and a contemporary account of how the diary writer's daughter, and eventually grandaughter, came to publish them, solving a number of family mysteries along the way.

All quite remote, indeed, from tales of an old man frolicking in all-night parties with some bad boys.

992

The Exhibitionist was at it again on Saturday morning at the Black Hole, this time without even a tee shirt as partial cover. Well, I have no complaints against waking up in the morning, walking into the bathroom and seeing a naked young man with a firmly erect dingaling (as the Sleeptalker calls it). One night last week there were two firsts at the Black Hole. The upstairs is divided into the main, large room which probably sleeps about 75-80 people and a smaller one, perhaps 30 people, with the glassed-in security office in between. I'd never slept in the smaller area but when I arrived the security fellow said the main one was full-up, I'd have to go to the other one. No problem, except they put mats so close together in there it's difficult to get out to make a noctural bathroom visit, especially when some goofballs put their shoes in the tiny walk-space between mats. And although spared the television racket in there, the noise from the downstairs courtyard is possibly even more irksome. So that was a first, sleeping in there, and the second first-time event came when I did get up for a noctural visit and was somewhat amazed to see one man sleeping totally naked. It wasn't an especially interesting body, but I did admire him for being so brave.

I had an unusually lengthy email from the Sleeptalker and he asked me to print it, pass it on to Tanioka. Some time ago I did buy one of the plastic cards one needs to print at Hamilton Library and put ten dollars credit on it (seven cents a page), but had never used it, so that was a chance to learn the procedure. Once learned, I finally finished a letter to Felix which had been in progress for a week and printed that, too. Tanioka and his new buddy came along to the beach park that evening so I was able to pass on the Sleeptalker's rather touching email.

The new buddy I met for the first time before the Follies. I'll call him Taiwan, since he was born there. Born in Taiwan, then lived some time in Japan, and then to Mississippi. Mississippi?! Talk about culture shock. What an extraordinary childhood. He's fortunately not an object of obscure, or otherwise, desire. So we drank beer through the sunset, Joe Guam not joining us as he went by. As I told Tanioka, I wish he'd do that more often, just wave as he walks past.

No such luck on Friday since Joe stopped for a fairly long chat, interrupted when Angelo and the PL arrived. After the Follies, Angelo had begged for ten dollars, despite all I'd spent on the party. I'd declined, saying I'd already gone over budget. But he hadn't given up, was trying again on Friday to persuade me to go half on a bag. No, no, no. They went on their way. (Paulo had earlier tried to get me to go half on a bag, too. Just can't convince these guys I don't want to indulge that often.)

Angelo's strategy is to come up with half for the first bag, knowing I'll want at least one, maybe two, more after smoking the stuff, and of course if he has any more money it will never leave his pocket. In one of his mails, the Sleeptalker said, "i dont want you guys to think that im just a user." He should teach Angelo that (not to mention RedEye!).

Since it was First Saturday, time to clear out the locker, as always reminding me that if those lockers disappeared, I'd certainly have a session of throwing stuff away. Not a chance I'd walk around carrying all that every day. So I went to the laundromat and washed everything, pleased the new shorts appear considerably more durable than the others with their buttons and zipper tabs falling off.

I certainly hope there's nothing prophetic about yet another Armageddon novel turning up. Eric L. Harry's first novel, Arc Light, is possibly the worst yet, an all-out nuclear war between, first, Russia and China, and then Russia and the USA. It stops just short of global destruction, but not very short. Then to a far more pleasant historical novel, Ruddlemoor, by E.V. Thompson, a writer I've not encountered before, and on to another Ruth Rendell work, No Night is Too Long, this one, again, being written as Barbara Vine. Although I don't know Rendell's books, a profile on the web says she's a prolific writer of detective yarns, usually in a series involving the same detective, and that she began using the Barbara Vine pseudonym to distinguish these individual novels from her series works, and that all the Vine novels are deeply involved with the past. This one is quite melancholy but admirably well written.

The Sleeptalker also said he has been working on some new cards. I really do want to see that young man in person, yes, I do.

993

Commencing October 8th, 1997 ...

I left the apartment at about 5:30, slipping an envelope with the keys under the resident manager's door, and walked over to Magic Island to await the sunrise. Early fishermen were already out and soon a touching older couple made the rounds of all the cats, giving each a spoonful of something from a bucket. The cats all know them and went running, not surprisingly.


Tale 001.

Fifth Anniversary.

Five years of being Homeless in Honolulu. By choice, by choice! I get a little annoyed with Kevin, the Homeless Guy, because he's on the verge of becoming a "professional homeless person", not helped by his weblog getting pick of the day on Yahoo and then an article in USA Today. But even before all that, he seems to have been involved with committees, blah blah. Never says a word about people who deliberately decide to become homeless, who decide with considerable thought that it's just no longer worth going on living if so much of life has to be sitting in a damned office doing crap that is utterly meaningless, to pay a sizeable amount of one's meagre earnings to the Federal Government to pursue all kinds of shit one doesn't want to contribute to, etc. etc., and to hand over about half of those earnings to a landlord (in my case, a wealthy absentee Korean who sucked dollars out of my pocket for more than five years)

No regrets, no regrets.

No desires to join committees, either. Or to pay taxes to assist a madman with his megalomania.

993a

The dark kitten was missing on Monday so little sister got to eat the whole can of food. I wonder if Barbara managed to nab the dark one, or if he just went exploring? I've been wishing they would begin to explore, find the places on campus where people provide food every day. I enjoy feeding them, certainly don't mind the expense, but I hate to feel responsible for them going hungry if I miss a day.

I was in a somewhat disgruntled frame of mind for most of the day, with no particular reason aside from continued disgust with The Bush's march to war which I'd be better off ignoring altogether since there's nothing I can do about it anyway. I did, of course, manage to avoid actually hearing his grand speech but glanced through the Washington Post article about it. They don't seem too convinced. I'm not at all.

More often than not, I mention what I've read because that way I can use the search facility to check, see if I've read something and forgotten it. Such was recently the case with Anne Rice's Violin. Once I read my remarks in the Tales, I clearly remembered the book, but until then was under the impression it was the only book I've missed (aside from the most recent one, still not in paperback). But sometimes a book is so silly I don't want to even mention it, as with the one I finished on Monday morning. So I went to the used bookshop where the bargain table selection wasn't too interesting, but I got Sharyn McCrumb's The Songcatcher because I like the title. Along with the unusual abundance of apocalyptic novels recently, I seem to also be finding more of these books which weave together yarns from the distant past with present times. In this one, the Revolutionary War era with contemporary Appalachia. Gets a bit confusing jumping back and forth between only dimly related story lines.

I stayed on campus until early afternoon, played Seventh Circle for awhile, getting Groat to level 52 and being reminded again how unbalanced the game is at certain levels. The early fifties and the final late nineties are particularly uninteresting since there's nothing to do but slog away killing the same things over and over just to make points. Don't ask me why I bother because I wouldn't know what to answer.

Then off to the beach park, picking up a second beer on the way. When I saw the Krishna truck arrive, I decided I might as well stroll over and see what was on offer since I wasn't keen on walking to the 7-Eleven for a foodstamps dinner. The Krishna handout was pretty awful, just a plate full of rice and vegetables cooked to a bland mush. Even the birds weren't much interested. Joe Guam was there, of course, but I grabbed my plate and went off to an area where he was unlikely to spot and follow me.

When I returned from getting my sunset brew in the mall I wondered if the two people sitting at a distant table were someone I knew but stayed at my usual spot since I'd discovered the day before that the mosquitos were very bad at that other one. In fact, they're bad everywhere just now, especially on campus. I guess I'll have to add some of that wretched repellent to the required shopping list. As it turned out, I did know those two, Tanioka and Taiwan. The Double-T Team. They soon joined me and talked for awhile before heading off to the supermarket. Tanioka had sent an email to the Sleeptalker which will surely please him. I got Tanioka's pager number so I can call him if the Sleeptalker does make a promised visit to town. I hope he doesn't do it until after next Wednesday, but will certainly be pleased to see him whenever it happens.

I was surprised when Tanioka mentioned that he's looking for the second volume in the apocalyptic Left Behind series, wouldn't have thought the first one was his kind of book. I wouldn't mind reading the second one myself, but am in no hurry.

Some people disappear and I wonder what has happened to them, miss seeing them. Others vanish for a time and, alas, return. So it is with the Mongoose who re-appeared early on Tuesday morning. Wobbly, though, has again gone missing, hasn't been seen for about two weeks and, as always, I wonder if he's gone for good. The usual gang remains on campus every day, Virginia having graduated from a baby stroller to a shopping cart. Thankfully, he doesn't try to wheel that into Hamilton Library.

Five years on, with so many of the same characters in the cast.

-----

the collected tales