more tales from the year of the ram

the season of the sleeptalker
1085-1087
1088-1092
1093-1095
1096-1100

be kind to your web-footed friends
1101-1104
1105-1109
1110-1114
1115-1118

dear old golden rule days
1119-1126
1127-1130
1131-1134
1135-1137

fall of the ram
1138-1141
1142-1146

1085

Good news, bad news. Definitely in the good category was finding the check in the box on Magic Third Wednesday. Nice of them to get it there on time for a change, especially in a month when Third Wednesday was as late as it can ever be. Likewise in the good category was the news that, unlike last year, Hamilton Library will be open on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons during the Summer Session (even if it is closing for the entire three-day holiday weekend coming up).

And definitely in the bad news column is the almost-certain increase in bus fares starting July 1st. Okay, a jump in the monthly pass from $27 to $30 isn't a big deal but any increase in basic overhead is, yep, bad news.

So was the announcement from Chevron-Texaco that next season at the Metropolitan Opera will be the last time they'll sponsor live broadcasts. Texaco has sponsored them since I was a child and it's sad to see them abandon such a grand tradition.

Neither good nor bad, just weird, is a new loony at the Black Hole. He's local Japanese, probably in his mid-thirties and not unattractive. I thought I'd seen every masturbation technique there is, but he's provided a new one. He uses the fingertips of both hands to play with his rather short, stubby equipment. How do I know this? Because he seems to get very little sleep, continues his unusual activity for hours, or so it would seem. And he makes no effort at all to conceal it, either. Fascinating for awhile, but not enough to keep me awake. If I do wake up later, he's still at it, and was going at it when I got up just before five on Wednesday morning. Maybe another icehead.

Aside from buying cigarettes (after a week of smoking roll-it-yourself) and a baked potato for dinner, Third Wednesday wasn't much changed by the arrival of the SocSec largesse. Thanks to the Cherub, the x equals period was the most comfortable since this new income routine began, incentive to try once again to keep it that way without extra assistance. Never mind the voice in the back of my mind somewhere saying "fat chance".

1086

Marc in his latest entry at
Kill Your Boyfriend writes: I'm not depressed or stressed or even sick. I'm not quite sure what exactly is going on, but I'm exhausted and haven't the energy to do some of my daily activities, and at work, I'd feel run down, having difficulty in standing up for too long. I know the feeling, although my vague aches and pains seem to have subsided and the sinus nuisance has returned to its usual backburner status. I don't think that will ever cease, sleeping in the constant drafts of the Black Hole's fans.

But sometimes it seems really a major task just to do all the little morning chores like shaving, brushing teeth, moving from one place to another. Marc's search for a solution includes stopping smoking (not a chance, in my case) and joining a gym. I wouldn't go that far, but did wonder if perhaps insufficient exercise was part of the problem, spending too much time sitting at a computer, or reading, or listening to the radio. So I've forced myself to walk more. Part of the cure, or was it just something that passed with time? Like Marc, I thought it was too vague to justify consulting a doctor.

My digestive system, however, seems to be getting increasingly fragile, or is it just a case of feeding it such a sparse diet for half the month, then inundating it with luscious things like lasagna once SocSec arrives? The lasagna on Thursday afternoon tasted fine, the after-effects proved (not for the first time) that it's an unwise choice. I should stay away from Sbarro's, either directly or via found plate-lunch boxes.

Despite the unwise purchase of lasagna, I did manage more sensible shopping on the First Day after Third Wednesday, the usual essential items, although I did balk at getting a better radio. This very cheap Sony has quite poor reception sensitivity, can't even get the weaker NPR station on campus so I missed Lasser's show last weekend. Spend more on a replacement or make sure I'm at the beach park by four p.m. on Sunday?

Life does get so silly sometimes.

Like TIME magazine putting that sleaze NY TIMES reporter on their cover.

Wobbly appears to have won the battle of the bus stop bench, and I guess the Beadman has moved his shop elsewhere since he's been missing for two days and Wobbly is once again sprawled on the bench all day, throwing his trash around. I'm sure the workmen at the park much preferred the Beadman, as did I. And we're no doubt joined by the Trashpicker who is back to his routine of constantly walking back and forth between the mall and the park.

The Bad Boys continue to be absent, no appearance by the Sleeptalker in the game all week.

I miss them, and him most of all.

1087

When a guru is needed ...

Men named William have always played a significant role in my life and they haven't appeared very often. But there is a new one. Last week he came walking through the beach park with a white plastic bag, asked if I wanted something to eat. As is most often the case, I thanked him for his kindness but said no. On Sunday, he came along again, with the same offer. "You don't eat much?" he asked, and I said, yes, that was the case. Then he sat and talked for about an hour, eventually answering my question about why he was hanging out in the park talking to me with "I'm trying to practise compassion."

He probably picked the wrong target because while he's busy being compassionate, I'm even more busy being lustful. Well ... c'mon, he's a very handsome, sexy man, mid-thirties, an engineer (he told me) .... and most important of all, his name is William.

Falling in love again, never wanted to, what am I to do, can't help it ....

No, no, but yes, certain fantasies do intrude into my mind and have done since his second appearance.

High point of the three-day Memorial Day weekend, although meeting Helen on Monday to see "Down With Love" (appropriate title?) was also good fun. The movie is an amusing, gentle satire on films of the late 50s, early 60s, and on life in NYC in those early 60s. Right from the start it was clear they were going to, as the English say, "take the mickey", because our Doris Day clone heroine stepped out of a train station and the United Nations building was across the street. Not a chance, but thanks for the instant clue. The sexual innuendo was far more blatant than any heard in a Doris/Rock movie and the dancing gestures more outrageous than anything in "Funny Face", but all part of the fun, and the sets and costumes were hilariously perfect. Think pink, indeed.

Otherwise ... hmmm, listened to a bit of Puccini's Edgar from French Radio on the afternoon opera broadcast. I'd forgotten how many hints to Turandot are in that opera, but I wasn't interested enough to refrain from going back to the book I was reading. Listened to Prairie Home Companion, broadcast from Atlanta, and late Sunday afternoon to Michael Lasser's show which, for the holiday, featured songs from World War One. Yet again he used too damned many modern recordings. Okay, okay, I admire Michael Feinstein, but why would I want to hear his version of a song which I know for a fact has a far better, vintage the time? And he used Feinstein three times. Grrrrrr.

The Cat Lady stopped and talked for awhile on Sunday morning. She'd had an email from another cat lover on campus concerning the False Prophet which she forwarded to me later:

Subject: RED ALERT!! - UH Cat Caretakers - 2-legged predator

I am so outraged that I can hardly see straight...!!!

A predator by the name of [*****] is Caucasian, tall, thin, with a long grey beard.

For some time, at one of my colony sites that I've had for 15+ years, he decided to take the food I leave for the cats and dole it out, mornings and evenings. This was okay with me (I ran into him accidentally one evening)--until yesterday.

The cats of course are used to him since he doesn't seem to have a job, and has a lot of time to spend with them. So when he put a carrier down, my youngest and sole survivor of 3 siblings, walked trustingly into his carrier. ***** said in his email to me, "i had a cat carrier that i set down with the door open and boots walked right in. "it were no trebble at all", as scotty would say."

He then took her to the HHS and left her there to be destroyed. She was young, pretty, healthy and tho' not yet spayed, was not pregnant. Apparently, I didn't have her spayed quick enough to suit him. Why he didn't have her spayed is what I will ask him when I next see him. Nothing, however, will justify this heinous, unwarranted act.

If he comes after my two, I will kill him.

1088

"What have you been up to?" asked the Sleeptalker.
"Nothing very exciting. What about you, been having fun?
"No, not really," he said. "I need a friend."
I assured him I know for certain he has at least two, me and Tanioka.

When he first appeared in the game on Wednesday morning he was very subdued and quiet aside from a general "good morning", but later was more his usual lively self even if his private comments sounded a bit down. I know he doesn't have many friends in Waianae and it must get very boring for him compared to life in town, even if it probably is better for him, certainly better than glass pipe parties.

No doubt better, too, than life at the Black Hole or in the beach park where the night population is once again increasing at a surprising rate. Judging by the view from the bus passing there in the pre-dawn hour it's as heavily populated with sleepers now as it has ever been, perhaps even more so. The police must have given up on the attempt to clear it at night. Hasn't helped reduce the population at the Black Hole which is, as always in the final days of the month, packed to the limit. And it has been so hot during the day this week, with almost no tradewinds, that the Black Hole is a real sweatbox for most of the night, doesn't cool off until almost time to get up and leave.

The news of Hamilton opening on Saturday afternoons this summer was even more appreciated when signs went up in the little computer lab. After Friday it will close until September, "due to construction work". So no weekend mornings online for the next three months unless I resort to a net-cafe.

Sandwiched in that slice of bad news about Texaco and the Metropolitan Opera is the very good news that even if NPR doesn't broadcast the Houston Opera version, Fleming will be doing "Traviata" at the Met next season and it will be broadcast on March 6th. Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is a combination FM stereo/minidisc recorder.

1089

After our exchange in the game on Wednesday, fragments of which I quoted in the last Tale, I was not much surprised when the Sleeptalker arrived in town on Thursday. He entered the game, asked me where I was playing from. Hamilton. He was on River Street [Chinatown], evidently at one of the other local Seventh Circle player's place. He wanted a beer. I said I'd be happy to buy him one and he said he would walk to the beach park. "It's too hot to walk that far," I said, and offered to meet him at the State Library, pay his bus fare from there to the park.

He looks awful, the worst I've ever seen him. Very, very long shaggy hair, scraggly hairs on his chin, even more scraggly "moustache", dirty tee shirt. I said I was going to get my scissors out. He admitted that with the hot weather right now the hair got "greasy". Indeed.

For the first hour or so he was in full "Waianae Punk" mode, although most amusing on the bus ride from the library to the cheap tobacco store. There was a bleached-blonde lady sitting across from me on the bus, only her hands revealing the secret that she was about my age, and she was as amused by his animated antics as I was. But it was all "focking" this and "focking" that, and how much he hates everyone, especially in the game.

I was not at all surprised somewhat later with the news that he has yet another Sugar Daddy out in the country, but I did twitch an eyebrow when he said he wanted me to meet the man. Why on earth would I want to meet one of the Sleeptalker's patrons? I said I wasn't keen on the hour-or-so trip to Makaha to meet a stranger and left it at that.

Not content with the pack of cigarettes I bought him and the beer, he wanted the glass pipe. I told him I really wasn't happy about filling the pipe for him, but he persevered until I yielded. Only on the condition that Paulo had to be the source, the only one I can trust.

So, the Sleeptalker, Paulo and I shared a pipe. It was, I think, the best I've ever had. I actually felt quite high.

Not long after we'd smoked, the Sleeptalker said he was going back to Waianae (or Makaha?) and I gave him the bus fare. He said he is planning to very soon move back into town because he's, yet again, fed up with living at his mother's house (and I assume the Sugar Daddy isn't offering shelter).

So he went on his way. Paulo came over and said we should smoke another pipe, just the two of us. Okay. But no doubt fortunately, he couldn't find anyone with a "paper". While I was waiting for him to return from his fruitless quest, Lord and Lady Moana plus two of their courtiers joined me, obviously hoping to leech. I said, "when Paulo comes back, tell him I'll be down there" and walked on to my usual sunset area. Paulo had assured me that Crazy Annie wasn't around because I'd made it very clear I would not smoke with her. But once he returned and gave me back the money (honest man), she showed up. I greeted her, waved to him and went on my way.

Interesting, spending the night in the beach park. The police came through at about 3:30 in the morning, woke everyone up and drove on. Everyone went back to sleep again.

Except me. I wasn't sleepy. So I read a P.D. James novel all night ....

1090

JESUS RULES
DARWIN
IS IN HELL
said the graffiti on a bus stop bench. I added:

BETTER COMPANY THERE
LUCKY CHARLES

Amusing synchronicity later when William said he'd tried to buy me a copy of the Beagle book, but Border's was sold out. [?!] Instead he brought me the Edgar Cayce Reader.

At our third meeting I was struck by how he has certain facial characteristics in common with Gertrude Stein. [Felix would be doing backflips if he weren't too old and dignified to do such things.]

A pleasant weekend, the end of May and the beginning of June, although I surely was in a peculiar, restless mood on Sunday morning. Couldn't even bring myself to sit still long enough to make a needed visit to the laundromat, postponed it until Monday morning. With the libraries closed until noon on Saturday and Sunday, there's a tendency to go overboard because of starting with beer earlier in the day than usual. But I was reminded of a recent book I'd read, one of those murder mysteries set in medieval England. It was commonplace to serve ale with breakfast. Even in convents. So if nuns were drinking beer for breakfast, I'm not decadent, I'm just medieval.

Such a bizarre reader I am, jumping from a Kellerman "Alex Delaware" novel (I think the only one I hadn't yet read) to Jane Austen to a non-fiction book about a serial killer. Not surprisingly, Emma was the winner, although all were, in their own ways, enjoyable reading.

The Sleeptalker was a brat in the game on Sunday, said absolutely nothing, privately or publicly, even when I gave him a choice piece of equipment he was lacking. Then on Monday he went in the opposite direction and was even more of a brat publicly. That man really is a mess right now, and not just in physical appearance. He has such a severe case of canine Bite the Hand Syndrome. I can't say I don't know better, though, not just from my own experience with him but from his rants about Angelo being responsible for him getting stoned on the pipe or Tanioka blamed for getting him drunk. So I should have expected to get the treatment for having filled that pipe, no matter how reluctantly I did it and no matter that nothing else we did together that day was any reason for him to feel guilty. Maybe it was what he did after we separated.

Don't even bother to tell me to give up on him, if I won't listen to myself, I won't listen to you.

I grumbled to myself about him for the rest of the day. Next morning the internal jukebox was stuck on Nilsson's can't live if living is without you ... and I told it to shut up.

William arrived about halfway through Lasser's show on Sunday, so I gave up listening to songs about the Mississippi River and the cities along it from Saint Louis to New Orleans and listened to William instead. He seems to have pretty thoroughly researched the local homeless community, talked about a number of figures I instantly recognized from his descriptions. A new, young trashpicker had appeared in the park earlier in the week, very much in the Sleeptalker style, and William was curious about him, eventually called him over and offered a sandwich. Since the fellow has two tattoos of foxes on his chest, plus one of a cobra, I'll call him the Fox. Seen close up I was struck even more by an idea I'd had earlier that if he were cleaned up, got a decent haircut and something better than the grubby tee shirt and shorts he wears, he'd actually be a very good-looking young man. He said he'd be getting money the next day, so is obviously on welfare. Since he was walking around totally barefoot, I teased William later that he should have given the Fox his slippers. "If he's getting money, he can buy his own," said William, and indeed, the Fox did just that on Monday.

I suppose in case I got the wrong idea, William went rather sweetly out of his way to make it clear his sexual interest is in women, young Asian women in particular, it would seem.

Probably an easier path than falling for wacky young men from Waianae.

1091

If Wine Interferes with Your Job,
Quit Your Job.

A Night of Good Drinking
Is Worth a Year's Thinking.

The Worst Thing in the World Is a Drinking
Companion with a Memory.

If You Are Drinking to Forget
Pleae Pay Before You Begin.

He Who Eats Well at This Table
And Drinks Well at This Bar
Dies of a Terrible Disease: Old Age.

Reported by James Michener in The Drifters. Wise sayings supposedly gracing a bar in rural Spain. Although I've read most of his books (aside from his Alaska epic which I gave up on), and I've enjoyed them, I can't really say I am a Michener fan. But The Drifters is one of the best novels about my generation, especially those of it, from the USA and Western Europe, who "dropped out" and went wandering to exotic places like rural Spain, Morocco, Mozambique. Alas, the main characters didn't go to Nepal, although one almost escaped her more conservative friends and started out for Kathmandu (overland) before being "rescued" and dragged back.

Of course, I got a late start. Spending the first five years of the Sixties being settled and slightly ambitious in Manhattan left me with some catching up to do on the drop-out game, but all in all, I managed to catch up. Now all I need to do is to find as successful a way to write about it as Michener has done.

Or just forget about it and pay attention to the wisdom of rural Spanish bars.

1092

At this point, Theodora sometimes said, I should begin to read Gibbon, or find religion, instead of speaking to myself in my own room.

Rudolf Steiner much too often said, "as I've often said" (and I bitched to Felix about that), but as I have sometimes said, like Theodora, there's nothing I like better than a book which makes me spontaneously laugh aloud, and that sentence from Patrick White's The Aunt's Story did it.

The little 50-cent cart of used books at Hamilton Library does not often have anything worth considering, but recently a partial collection of works by Patrick White miraculously appeared there and I bought them all. I read him in London in the late sixties, but whatever you admired in your thirties you should re-encounter, whether to discover what a silly young thing you were or to find more subtle reasons why you admired it to begin with.

So it is with Patrick White. The admiring part.

The Living and the Dead, his second novel from 1941, I do not think I read then. It seems to me very influenced by Proust, Firbank, Huxley. I thought White was Australian but technically, he is English, born in England from Australian parents, lived his childhood in Australia, was then sent to school in England and remained there (even if his most compelling works are set in that wonderful island continent I have not, alas, seen).

Patrick White, of course, was given the Nobel Prize for Literature, which inspired some email exchanges and even some in-person conversation in the past week.

After the Living and the Dead, I read Voss which I did vaguely remember. An epic story of exploration in the days when we still didn't know how big that "island" of Australia was, still with some echoes of Proust, but more than well on the way to establishing the writer as a unique and major force in modern fiction.

I did remember how tragically it all turned out.

I'm quite sure I also read The Aunt's Story, but as I have sometimes said, lousy memory is a blessing.

The Lost Week, when there were no Tales, contained some of the highest and lowest moments of this cycle of my life, a cycle defined by the telling of the Tales and one which I think may be nearing its natural end. My life has always been a series of 5-7 year cycles, and I see no reason why that should change at this late time.

It may be soon over, and that would not bother me in the least, Or it may go on to another chunk. Not given us to know, as some old scriptural author wrote.

It is very strange and rather daunting to finally meet, person-to-person, someone you consider to be a "friend" from on-line contact. Such a unique event happened in the past week, and the friend turned out to be even more charming and delightful than she was expected to be.

On the other side of the coin, I had some truly awful on-line encounters with the Sleeptalker. Eventually I told him I thought he was being so weird because he's feeling the pressure of his fast-approaching birthday and standing on the edge of "pushing 30". He shut up and hasn't said anything since.

1093

The infirmities of old age. Mental ones, like increasingly erratic memory, are bad enough but physical ones are even more annoying. For about a year now there has been a steadily increasing tendency to acquire ugly little
bruises on the arms between the wrist and elbow. It often happens during the night, I assume because I fall into some sleeping position where my watch puts pressure on the other arm. No pain at all, either when the bruise is caused or afterwards, but they certainly are unsightly enough and usually take two or three weeks to fade, by which time there's often a new patch. There are even worse physical ailments of old age I decline to discuss.

If anyone seeks a clear definition of melancholy, don't bother with a dictionary. Just read anything by Patrick White. Despite many delightfully amusing passages, The Aunt's Story is thoroughly drenched in melancholy, Riders in the Chariot even more so. A wonderful writer, though. Just don't even think about picking up one of his books if you're already on the edge of being depressed.

I'm not, or at least no more so than usual, but such a marathon dose of White does put a damper on overall mood. Masochist that I am, I continued by starting The Vivisector on Friday morning.

The Sleeptalker has been in the game every day, spending much more time there than I think he's ever done. He has created several new characters but has almost instantly, if probably not deliberately, given clues that it is him, and in one case even used his real name for a new character. I wonder if that will be the first of the new batch to commit virtual suicide? He has tossed a few sneers in my direction but I've gone back to ignoring them, so there have not been any real exchanges. I remain baffled by his overall attitude, though, since I see nothing in our last in-person meeting to justify his animosity. So I assume it, in fact, actually has nothing to do with me personally. As Anna sang, "it's a puzzlement." That, of course, is nothing new in the long dance with the Sleeptalker.

With the Full Moon on Saturday and his 28th birthday on Monday, it's extremely unlikely to become less of a "puzzlement" in the immediate future.

1094

Nobody is responsible for me: least of all those I love -- or worship.
Patrick White: The Vivisector

There are two distinctions in communicating in the game, privately, so that only the person you are speaking to hears it (unless there is a snooping administrator), and the public channels.

The Sleeptalker's first volley on Friday was private, when he said to me, "you worship me."
"Always, always," I replied.

Then he went public, with his usual order of insulting barrage. "Faggot." "You should know," I responded. "Old," he said. Okay, that round to him. Then he said "homeless" as an insult and there was nothing to do but laugh. The Sleeptalker, who has been homeless most of his life, using "homeless" as an insult!? I said, "I'd rather be homeless than drop my pants to pay the rent." And I won that round even if it was dramatic license, not really true.

I should not have failed to realize that he actually enjoys these verbal tennis games. That one continued for so long that one player said, "I can't take this" and left, but most of them formed a little cheering gallery, applauding each score.

With the Sleeptalker, it is nonsense to expect anything but the unexpected.

As when he arrived later in the beach park. He looked much better than the last time I saw him, although he'd still benefit greatly from a haircut. And he is just incredibly white. He must be sitting at that computer all day, every day, never venturing outside. How he is managing this, he won't, of course, say, although he did refer to his "roommate" at one point. (See above remark about dropping pants.).

His first words were to ask me why I am being so hard on him in the game! Me being hard on him??!! But he did laugh, too, when I told him I'd laughed over the absurdity of the "homeless" insult.

He was wearing something close to a tank-top, so I could see his armpit and the little hairs around his nipple. Absurd, after six years, but he's still the most desirable man I've ever met.

[If the Nobel people hadn't given Patrick White the prize after "The Vivisector" it would have been awfully embarrassing for them.]

1095

An unexceptional weekend, still somewhat unbalanced by the lack of online access in the mornings. Prairie Home Companion was so enjoyable I was, as often happens, later than usual getting to the Black Hole, but Lasser's show concentrated on songs sung by women about men, either glorifying or deriding, and I couldn't take the whole hour, gave up about halfway through. And I ended the Patrick White marathon with his short story collection, The Burnt Ones, although I shall see if I can find a copy of The Solid Mandala, the one major novel I missed.

I found a folder with about ten CDs left on a table. A Canadian group called Skinny Puppy dominates the collection but I resisted the temptation to buy batteries, get my CD player out of the locker and have a listen. It can wait. But the find significantly increased my collection of those silvery discs.

I knew the Sleeptalker would be in town on Monday, or at least that he should be, since he had an appointment again with the Qualifying Doc, but I was still surprised when he arrived at Hamilton Library in the early afternoon since he has always disappeared on his birthday. He went into the game for awhile and got wished happy birthday since my characters' titles all had, as always on that day, best wishes for him. When I went outside to smoke, he joined me. He was approved by the doc, so will be getting Crazy Money again, a nice birthday gift for him.

We went to Manoa Garden and drank a beer. He was in a very good mood and quite talkative, remained so all afternoon, and he'd been to the beach with his sister on Sunday so looked a little less pale. I apologized for being unable to take him somewhere nice for a meal, told him he would get a delayed celebration if he came into town later this week. Since he should get his first Crazy Money on Friday, that's not likely to happen. But we did go to the mall and got some foodstamps food from the supermarket and more beer, then sat in the beach park.

He talked a lot about his mother, lamenting the fact that she listens only to "classic rock", and about his brother who is still in prison. And even though during a conversation with him not too long ago he complained because I talked so much about the other Bad Boys, he raised the subject of each of them. He seemed a little disappointed that Tanioka didn't appear, but even if Tanioka had remembered it was the Sleeptalker's birthday he couldn't have been expected to look in town for him. He made some of the same grumbles about Rocky that Angelo has been making, and I made my usual "that's just the way he is" speech. (Early the next morning I saw Rocky in the mall and he asked if I wanted to smoke. Too early for me. Then he wanted some money to buy breakfast and I told him I'd spent all mine on the Sleeptalker since it was his birthday. "How much he made?," he asked, meaning how old was he, not how much money. "28." "28," he said with a slight sneer.) The Sleeptalker said he sometimes saw Angelo out in the country but hadn't talked to him.

He seems to be dividing his time between staying at his mother's house and staying with his new friends. One is a gay forty-something man whom the Sleeptalker claims not to be having sex with, and a twenty-year-old whose sexual preferences weren't mentioned nor was their relationship defined. They have three computers, which explains the Sleeptalker's lengthy time in the game, but evidently don't have much ready cash since he said he'd used the five dollars I'd given him last week to buy a can of coffee which they'd been doing without. He continues to be extremely vague about the entire set-up. It was sweet of him to say the older man "isn't handsome like you."

It was even more sweet of him to shake my hand when leaving and say, "I love you."

1096

A propitious week, all in all, as predicted by Jonathan Cainer. That delightfully enjoyable afternoon with the Sleeptalker on his birthday, Third Wednesday in fact being Magic, and Killer for the very first time greeting me with a meow instead of a hiss!

A reader sent me three art-related magazine articles, one of them about the Hispanic Society of America's museum in NYC. Yes, of course, I visited it. Could I live within visiting distance of an El Greco without seeing it? But I was struck by the bizarre idea that the article might be an omen of the reappearance of Angelo, since his surname is that of a notable Spanish painter. Not so bizarre, as it turned out. I was sitting at a table in the beach park on Thursday afternoon, so engrossed in my book that I didn't notice when Angelo arrived and sat at a nearby table, on his own, drinking beer poorly disguised in a bag. He might have thought I was deliberately ignoring him, but I just hadn't noticed. He stayed until he finished his beer and went on his way, only Lord Moana and one of their courtiers having stopped to briefly chat with him. Had he come to my table, he would have gotten a warm greeting, but I didn't think it was my place to bridge the gap by walking over to him. After he left, I wondered if I'd made the right decision and felt rather depressed by having been forced to consider it at all.

Another of the articles was about an abstract painter (I refuse to use the niche-name given to the group in which critics place Frankenthaler, Louis and Noland, because I think the niche-name is repulsive and irrelevant). Odd phrasing, not unusual with art critics, since it said this woman "worked with Frankenthaler"? What does that mean? She studied with her? (I can't imagine Frankenthaler simply sharing studio space with someone.) Even more irksome, the writer paired Frankenthaler and Olitski as equals. Jules Olitski made some very handsome paintings but was hardly in a class with Helen Frankenthaler. A reminder of why I so rarely read art critics or art magazines.

The third article discussed painters who have been "neglected" or "overlooked". Lee Krasner and Joan Mitchell were mentioned in the opening paragraphs, although there was concentration on Dong Kingman. I don't think any of them has been "neglected". Their work has garnered the level of attention it deserved, even generously so.

Speaking of reading, I see that if I want to continue my exploration of
Patrick White, I have a long way to go. I hadn't the slightest idea that he was homosexual.

Third Wednesday's mailbox also contained the annual summons to justify receiving foodstamps, with an appointment on the morning of July 3rd. Oh well, I suppose filling out the papers and talking to that old gentleman for a few minutes isn't too strenuous an effort for $66 a month, but I am crazy enough to have briefly considered just dropping it.

And crazy enough that I probably would have partied with Angelo had he gotten up the nerve to suggest it.

1097

Expect the unexpected, yes, but sometimes expect the expected. So it wasn't any surprise that the Sleeptalker got his money and ran straight for the glass pipe, no matter how much he's said recently about staying away from it. Pitiful that the State provides financial assistance for those with "mental disabilities" and in fact is providing subsidy for a drug that aggravates any such "disabilities".

Sigh deeply.

I left campus mid-afternoon on Friday, stopped at the discount tobacco store for cigarettes, picked up a bottle of Steel Reserve at 7-Eleven and walked over to the beach park, arriving at the same time as the Sleeptalker and sigh again the wretched RedEye. They all bitch about what a moocher RedEye is, but they won't dump him. A mystery. They walked on to sit under a tree in a spot where I know there are too many ants. Ants or no ants, I sat by myself and continued another admirable Australian novel, George Johnston's My Brother Jack. (The fifty-cent cart at Hamilton Library is certainly producing some treasures this summer.)

They disappeared at some point which I didn't notice (am I missing out on too much by having my nose in a book all the time?), but later I returned to the mall for another beer and a lousy chicken burger from McD's and once again, there they were waiting to cross the street. So I sat with them, even let RedEye beg two cigarettes since the Sleeptalker wanted to work on some cards. My French Reader had given me some pens which I'd tested by starting some new cards, so I gave those to the Sleeptalker to continue and he wrote a lot of stuff on them which I'm not entirely sure I've yet absorbed after several inspections.

There was no suggestion of further pipe smoking which at least saved me from having to make a decision about that. And when it was time for the Black Hole, I just got up, waved to the Sleeptalker and left.

Third Saturday, so I grabbed my backpack from the locker and stuck new batteries into the CD player. I wasn't much surprised to discover that Skinny Puppy is not at all my kind of music. But then I wasn't much in the mood for music anyway, didn't listen to my own collection while I waited until it was late enough to put it all back in the locker.

Lady Grey has disappeared, did not come to lunch on Friday or Saturday. Worrying.

Summertime, and the living is easy ....... more or less.

1098

What if I try this?

To the Sleeptalker, I will say: God created cannibas sativa, aka marijuana, the weed. Man created batu, ice, crystal meth. Now which do you want to smoke, a GOD-made substance or a MAN-made one?

I wonder if it would work?

Dame Fortune seems to be concentrating her always welcome attentions on reading this summer. The Hamilton cart has been an absolute treasure house, continued with Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon Days. Wonderful, after all these years of listening to "News from Lake Wobegon" on Prairie Home Companion, to get the history, the background. I think it's one of the most important books ever written in the United States of America, and if you have any wish to understand this weird country and its people, you can't go far wrong beginning your research with that one.

So many childhood memories the bastid evoked, I don't know why I even bothered to tune in my radio to Prairie Home Companion on Saturday evening, but of course I did and laughed several times. I laughed once or twice during the book, too, but it is more the kind of book that gives you a gentle chuckle every page or two.

Did I mention that I highly recommend it?

And then just a free find: Tetsuko Kuroyanagi's Totto-Chan. Yes, someone threw out a load of books about Japan and I looked through it, sorry not to find more translations of Japanese novels, just critical studies of them. With that exception.

And what a splendid exception it is.

Dreadful RedEye had placed much emphasis on the Sleeptalker meeting him in the beach park at 3 p.m. on Saturday. I knew that was the way to ensure the Sleeptalker WOULDN'T be there, but said nothing. As it happened, neither of them came to the park on Saturday or Sunday. No, matter, I was either reading or listening to the radio.

The Snorer and his lady did walk by on Sunday evening, had some Big Island greenery to sell. I contributed to the benefit of agriculture in these islands and was very happy I'd done so.

But even better than some splendid inhales, Lady Grey returned on Sunday for lunchtime and gobbled down her food, did so again on Monday.

1099

It's been a hard day's night ...

And I, rather stupidly, was sleeping like a log. Not in the relative safety of the Black Hole, but at the beach park. Amazing it hasn't happened more often, but when I woke and put my hand into my pocket to get my cigarette lighter, there was just a big hole there. Someone came along during the night and slashed my shorts, removing everything from the pockets including, alas, two hundred dollars.

Miraculously, they missed my little wallet, bus pass, etc., and about seventy dollars, thirty of which is needed for next month's bus pass.

And they missed my locker key. So I could travel to campus next morning, get my trousers out of the box and put them on, throw the shredded shorts away.

Like I said, amazing it hasn't happened more often.

I had indulged in that greenery I bought from the Snorer (wonderful stuff!), decided to get my CD player out of the locker, the Stones and the Fleetwood Mac 2-CD sets, and head to the beach park to smoke some more and kick back to the music.

But Tanioka was there.

Smoking a cigarette.

At his final court appearance, he was given five years probation, so is a free man if he more or less behaves himself, or doesn't get caught doing otherwise.

I don't remember the details of the evening ... and night. Angelo told me the next morning (yes, he spoke to me!) that Tanioka had been at the Garage and that he'd seen the Sleeptalker in Chinatown. I remember smoking some more of the weed with Lord Moana, meeting a new man I quite fancied but Lord and Lady M wouldn't leave us alone so I could pursue it. Who knows, maybe he was the slasher? Could be.

Lord Moana came along around midnight, on his own, and shared a pipe, huddled under a blanket together, and I touched his bare chest and said, "you're so warm." Yes, I do remember that.

I fell asleep on my beach towel on the grass but it started to sprinkle rain so I moved to the bus stop, between Wobbly and the Duchess, and didn't surface until nearly six in the morning.

With almost empty pockets.

1100

The heat at night is worse than the heat in the daytime. Even with the fan on, nothing moves, and the walls store up warmth, give it out like a used oven.
Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid's Tale

So it is at the Black Hole, where I reverse the direction of my beach towel during the night so the bit soaked with sweat is down by my knees and my head has a dry surface for a little while. I wonder if I should take salt pills to compensate for the all-night sweat? I had an especially restless night there on Tuesday, partly because of the heat and also because for some strange reason, my dreams got all involved in weird ways with Harry Potter. This is absurd, because I haven't read the books or seen the film (films?), although as soon as the new book which appeared to so much hoopla last week is released in paperback, I plan to read them all.

I want to write to Margaret Atwood and thank her very much for a horrible novel. I think she's a brilliant enough woman that she would understand how I use the word. Before Bush the Second, I would have said her book was an outlandish fantasy. Now I am not so sure, and can only hope to die before it gets that bad, preferably to be reborn in some other solar system, far far away.

It was another found treasure. As sometimes happens, a box of books had been left near the used bookshop, no doubt things which had been rejected by the store. Happened again the next day. Splendid, saved me a trip to the State Library.

Summer tradewind weather is a nuisance, not just because of the steamy Black Hole. It tends to rain briefly every two or three hours, not heavily, just enough to get everything wet (including clothes). Most of the time it isn't heavy enough to even bother heading to shelter and it rarely lasts more than 5-10 minutes. But not only is it irksome, it also seems to create thriving conditions for mosquitos because they are indeed thriving on campus. I was even attacked by one in the beach park, which is more unusual. I'm sorry, but there's just no way the wretched mosquito will ever make it into my "compassion for all living beings" category.

Lady Moana walked over to me in the beach park on Wednesday afternoon, asked if I wanted to buy a black canvas bag she had. "No money," I said. "Me neither," she replied. "They ripped me right down to my panties." Either another victim of the Slashers or else a cover story to deny involvement. One of the more unpleasant things about this kind of an incident is that it places everyone usually in the area under suspicion. I find it almost impossible to believe Lord and Lady M would participate, and she has always been especially scornful of people who steal from the homeless, but as she said, "people get drunk and stoned and do crazy things." I think the most likely culprits are the three strangers who were there during the evening, including the one who captured my attention.

In any case, I am still somewhat astounded by my relative good fortune because it would have been so much more complicated had they gotten my bus pass case or if they'd slashed my bag. Surprising they didn't. And, of course, if people are walking around with blades sharp enough to cut cloth without waking the wearer, there are far worse might-have-beens than getting robbed.

Sweat or no sweat, the Black Hole seems clearly the best option during the night hours.

1101

I rarely listen to the University of Hawaii radio station, not, alas, anything like the wonderful WKCR from Columbia University which provided many hours of listening when I was living in Manhattan. But there was trouble getting the main NPR station on Saturday morning (later I heard the announcement about maintenance work possibly affecting signal strength), so I tuned to KTUH and very much liked
Michael Franti and Spearhead. You can bomb the world to pieces, but you can't bomb it into peace. Should be the theme song of the next Democrat Convention, since it's hardly likely to get airtime at the Republican one.

The Snorer and his lady gave me a sample of greenery which I saved for the weekend and sampling the sample no doubt increased my enjoyment of Spearhead, as well as the evening broadcast of Prairie Home Companion, the last of the current season. Repeats now until September. So much of my habitual routine goes into mothballs in the summer.

I avoided all the "Gay Pride" stuff on the weekend, of course, even though both Carrier and Cheyne performed at the festival in the park. As I think, and usually say, every year, I just don't see any reason to feel "proud" of one's sexual preferences, whatever they are.

No sign of the Sleeptalker all week, in or out of the game, so I guess his Crazy Money binge is continuing. He'll be getting the next installment in three days time, so isn't likely to re-appear any time soon. I've continued working on that new set of cards, though, and hope to eventually catch him in the right mood to add more to them. See, I think that's what artists do. We're injured people. We paint, sculpt, whatever -- to try and heal our wounds. At least a little bit. (William Bayer's Mirror Maze, another Hamilton cart find.)

I've said before how unfair it has been, in a way, to the Sleeptalker that I've been so discreet and reticent about writing details of our strange, long friendship. And I've acknowledged that in doing so I've probably made it more difficult for people to understand how special that friendship is to me. Well, rather lose some of that comprehension than do anything which would seem, to me at least, to betray trust.

At our last meeting, when he was so engrossed in talking about his mother and her love for "classic rock", he kept singing bits of songs to me. When I responded at one point with Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love", it became a duet. Now that is classic, the song itself, the recording, and the Sleeptalker singing it with me. I confess, I also sang a verse of "fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly" to him and he just grinned.

You can bomb the world to pieces, but you can't bomb it into peace.

I think every American young man of my generation, and quite probably the women too although I can't say for sure, fell in love with what they called "images on the silver screen". At least in my case it wasn't limited to males or females, no matter how my eventual preferences turned out.

One of them I've loved through all of my life. I know all the standard things to say about how she had a long, a very long, wonderful life ... but I was still saddened by her passing.

Thank you so much, Katharine Hepburn.

1102

As I think I reported, the Sleeptalker once told me he sometimes thought he could hear me calling him. And it does, indeed, sometimes seem that I think so hard about him I conjure him up. So it was on Monday, when just a couple of hours after I'd finished the previous Tale, he appeared in the game. His title recently has been "Master of Disaster" but he changed it to "Little Dragon".

I said "the pipe must be empty" and he claimed to be only smoking the weed. Good news, if true, but I have serious doubts it will be true on Crazy Money Thursday.

When I take the bus to the Black Hole, I get off one stop too early so I have a little final walk and smoke to end the day. And there came the Sleeptalker, walking toward Chinatown. He was drunk, stoned, or both, but seemed in a very happy mood. I should stop wishing he'd get a haircut. Why on earth do I want the man to look more desirable? He said he hadn't been coming to the beach park because he didn't want to see Lord Moana. Peculiar, but I know better than to ask why. He staggered on his way and I went to collapse on my mat, happy that we're coming to that time of the month when there will be more choice of where to park in that place.

A newspaper reported on Tuesday morning that lawmakers were briefed on the "ice" problem and included the absurd statement that "an average user tends to use 1/16 of an ounce daily, spending about $170 a day." The heaviest users I know couldn't handle 8-9 "papers" a day on a regular basis, not a chance. And I certainly hope I never ever meet anyone who does. I think it would be far more accurate to say the "average user" is one who does 2-3 papers a day, and even then not every day.

The Sleeptalker again appeared in the game on Tuesday, this time titled "the Mysterious One" and I suppose as part of that persona, he said nothing publicly to anyone, even when people specifically spoke to him.

Procrastination rules. Here it is the day before my foodstamps interview and I still haven't filled out the damned form.

1102a

Reprieve!

I thought I'd better just have a look at the "damned form" and discovered I'd somehow misread the covering letter. The interview isn't until July 9th.

So after The Holiday ....

Lasser's weekend programme was featuring "songs about cheering". I thought that meant an hour of patriotic music in honour of the Glorious Fourth, but he made it wider than that. Yes, he did open with a classic "patriotic" song, but also included songs about cheering for Hollywood ...... and love.

After dropping the habit for a little while, I've gone back to listening to radio news. It's going to be quite difficult, consequently, to get too excited this year about the Fourth of July.

Or maybe even to cheer for love, but who knows, stranger things have happened.

1103

"Oh, I am so bored."

I had no answer or solution to offer the Sleeptalker, could hardly have suggested he join me in listening to Simon Boccanegra which had been boring me for about an hour before he arrived in the beach park on Saturday afternoon. For me, his company is a certain antidote to boredom but, alas, the magic doesn't work both ways. It did at least provide him with a little relief as he, in his best animated fashion, talked about recent triumphs in the game. But one problem, of course, is having money in pocket. When you have little or no money, it's easy to blame poverty for your boredom. When you have it, you're stuck with the knowledge that you can do this or that to relieve boredom but don't have any interest in doing this or that.

The Sleeptalker was, as always, extremely vague about what he's been doing with himself, although he did say he hasn't gone out to the country and is evidently sleeping in one of the downtown places since he'd seen Angelo and the PL there one night. Yes, the PL is out of jail. I saw them in the mall on Thursday, but they didn't see me. Angelo had that strangely stressed look on his face he often gets when with the PL.

Lord Moana stopped with cheery greetings and after he left I asked the Sleeptalker why he'd said he hadn't wanted to see Lord M. He denied having said it. His "who's in/who's out" list changes so frequently, it's not surprising he can't keep track of it. When I said I'd also seen Rocky and Mondo in Chinatown on Thursday, it was clear that both of them are on the "out list" at the moment. (I only spotted them from a bus. It was likely they were headed to the Black Hole for the free lunch and I was tempted to join them but decided against it.)

After his moan about how bored he is, the Sleeptalker went on his way and I went back to being bored by Verdi.

Of all the holidays which disrupt a homeless man's life, the Fourth of July is certainly one of the most severe disruptors. The beach park is impossible. Some people had set up camp the night before in order to secure their preferred spot for the day and the evening's big fireworks display. Others had arrived and were staking their claims when I passed by on the way for my morning coffee at the mall. And by mid-day, the park is wall-to-wall people, every spot of shade occupied. It stays that way until late evening, after the fireworks at 8:30, and once the sun sets the entire park is in a fog of smoke from private fireworks.

I was on campus for the morning, then met Helen for a holiday lunch at Likelike, a very typical American lunch for me of turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, iced tea, with a cup of clam chowder to start. I was so stuffed I couldn't finish it all, wished I could have filled a ziplok bag with the leftovers for the cats. Helen went off to check a DVD sale and I went briefly to the mall which was as packed as it is in the Christmas-shopping frenzy. A quick look at the park confirmed my suspicion that it would be impossible so I went to Waikiki and found a fairly quiet spot in the shade at Fort DeRussy. The military police came swooping through so often it was essential to be extremely discreet in drinking a beer. Although NPR did broadcast "All Things Considered" as usual, the main station otherwise played American music all day and every time I checked it the music was just awful. The weaker station abandoned its regular programming for an hours-long Playboy Jazz Festival broadcast, so I stayed with reading for most of the day. Reading and watching the constant parade of barechested young men which always makes afternoons in Waikiki amusing.

Everything on campus was closed throughout the weekend, but I did spend each morning there, again mostly reading. Saturday was First Saturday so I had to clear the locker and it was also Foodstamps Day so on Sunday the cats and I had a "luxury luncheon". Faced with the choice between pate de fois gras and Alaskan pink salmon, Her Ladyship properly ate some of the pate first, then went on to the salmon. Since she was late for lunch, she had the salmon leftover from her brother and the pate leftover from me. I'm sure they had the most expensive lunch of any cats on campus.

Speaking of cats, it is unusual, to say the least, to find a book which is praised by both Andrew Greeley and Garfield [!], but so it was with Catnap by Carole Nelson Douglas and with those recommendations, no hesitation in buying it, no surprise it deserved the praise. I also found the good Father Greeley's own The Final Planet, witty and amusing as his books always are. I wish I could persuade the Sleeptalker to try reading again. He seems to have no interest right now in books, films, music, any of the standard antidotes to boredom.

What to do, what to do. Like I said, I had no answer or solution.

1104

Despite the rather unsatisfactory options offered by radio on the holiday weekend (Simon Boccanegra is surely the most boring opera Verdi ever wrote), there was one bright and shining exception. Michael Lasser's hour featured songs by the three Tobias brothers. Unusual, to say the least, that three brothers all turned out to be songwriters, and they evidently wrote quite a lot of them during the 20s, 30s and 40s. Most, I'd say, could be called "wonderfully awful", like "Don't Sit Under the Appletree", a huge hit for the Andrews Sisters which was, of course, included in the programme. There were two very early tracks by Crosby which showed the influence of Eddie Cantor more than I'd ever noticed before, plus a couple of tracks from Maestro Cantor himself, as well as a delicious one by Helen Kane with an odd "scat" ending presaging Ella many years later. And the especially delightful "Tall and Dark and Handsome" from Sophie Tucker.

It annoys me that NPR devotes an hour each week to Frank Sinatra. Not that they do it, but that they bill him as the "greatest entertainer of the twentieth century". I don't think any one entertainer can be given that title, but certainly Eddie Cantor and Bing Crosby have as much right to the title as Sinatra, not to mention Judy Garland.

For such a relatively small, provincial town, Honolulu certainly does get its share of eccentrics. There's a new one, a man of a certain age (fifties, maybe) who walks around carrying an antelope (?) horn. Well, some kind of an animal. It is a curved thing, about four feet long, and as I discovered on Tuesday, it can actually be blown like a horn. I've seen him around for several days now, both on campus and on buses. He demonstrated the horn in the secluded grove. This was after he had walked over and asked me if the berries could be eaten. (Yes, it's coming up to berry-dropping time in the grove again.) I told him that not even the birds would eat them, so I'd had no inclination to test them myself, but I agreed they seemed to be sweet, having licked off the juice from my fingers a time or two after picking one up to throw at the greedy fat doves which I refuse to feed because they bully the little ones. The man-with-the-antelope-horn then walked off to sit at a nearby bench and a little later engaged a young lady in conversation and blew his horn for her.

Let us all praise eccentricity.

1105

Jonathan Cainer's prediction for the second week of July 2003 wasn't so much inaccurate as it was irrelevant. It has been, in too many ways, such an unpleasant week that I don't want to think about it, remember it, so I won't write about the details because with my ever more unreliable memory, I'll soon forget it. And good riddance.

The Hamilton bookcart continues to sock it to me. [That being a term made popular by the 70s television show, Laugh-In, which has recently been immortalized in a 4-DVD set.] "Sock it to me" usually meant getting hit over the head by an old lady wielding a large handbag. And that's pretty much what that 50-cent bookcart has done.

The Stranger, as the title of the classic by Camus is translated. William Golding's Lord of the Flies, which made me feel suicidal the first time I read it and has done so with each successive reading. Fortunately, the perfect antidote was in hand, Hesse's wonderful Siddhartha, which I read twice just to make sure the antidote had taken effect. I'd have to put that book on a list of most-often-reread books, for sure, but then most of Hesse's books would be on such a list.

The good news, I guess, of the week is that foodstamps and medical coverage are assured for another year. The kindly old fellow even reminded me that in May of 2005 I will lose Medicaid coverage, but be eligible for Medicare. Optimistic of him to think that I will still be around in May 2005 to give a damn. Optimistic, or sadistic.

1106

The Make July Ghastly campaign got a further boost when the annual summer cold-in-the-head arrived on the weekend. Sneeze, sniffle, cough. Yeukh. A fairly heavy-duty one, this year, and I hope it proves as short-lived as summer colds usually are here.

Sunday afternoon was at least brightened by the return of the Sleeptalker to the game, after having been absent all week. He's doing remarkably well with the current incarnation, better than he's done with any character up to now, and he even has better equipment than my characters do, a first. He was in a lively and amusing mood but eventually complained of being bored. I'm afraid being bored is too much a part of the x equals time for me, too, so I can't offer much sympathy. (See how I blame it on empty pockets?)

In the neverending change-partners-dance the Boys do, Angelo and Rocky are back together again. I was much surprised to see them get on the early morning bus in Chinatown. They got off near The Garage, so I assume they'd been partying all night and had gone to pick up the breakfast boost. Risky of them to be smoking in that area on a weekday morning. Although they said hi when they boarded the bus, they sat some distance away and spared me having to consider joining them by not asking.

It seemed to be a strong Full Moon this time, with all the loonies in full rant, including Crazy Annie who was rushing around the beach park babbling incoherently to anyone she could grab. One man eventually shouted, "oh be quiet, Annie!". When she stomped over to me, she seemed to be asking a question but I couldn't understand what it was, just took a chance and said "no". She went on to the next target. And Sister Mercy was wheeling her heavily laden shopping cart through the mall, shouting away non-stop. She has three kittens in a carrier box perched atop the other junk in her cart and I do feel sorry for the poor things.

There's a major increase in the number of shopping cart people in the mall and the beach park. As always, I am baffled by why these people go to so much trouble to wheel all that junk around, especially since none of them change clothes very often (if at all). There's one old man, new to the scene, who wheels his cart right into McD's in the morning, parks it just inside the door before going to the counter to order. Then he wheels it back and forth between the park and the mall all day but never touches any of the stacked bags that are in or hanging on the cart. Why on earth does he bother?

Wondering, reading, sniffling ... waiting for Third Wednesday.

1107

The Sleeptalker arrived at Hamilton Library on the morning of Third Wednesday, patted me on the shoulder and sat at the computer across from me. We played until it was late enough to check my mailbox. I suggested that he just continue playing while I made the trip, but he preferred to go with me. Fortunately the check was in the box so we went on to the check-cashing place. "Where you cut your hair?" he asked me during the bus ride, meaning "where do you get your hair cut?" So when we passed the Chinatown shop where I'd gotten my only non-self-activated haircut in years, I pointed out the place. He decided he'd take the plunge. At last!

It was hot and steamy so I sat inside the shop waiting while the Vietnamese lady cut off most of that long, thick, shaggy hair. A thoroughly amusing half hour watching his expressions change during the operation. She did a fine job, not too short, and taking years off his appearance. I was reminded of asking myself recently why I wanted him to look even more desirable. Easy answer, I enjoy lusting after him whether it does me any good or not.

I suggested having a beer in one of the better Chinatown bars but he didn't have his ID with him and despite being 28, he's still more likely than not to be asked for proof of age. He said we should just go to the park and drink beer, so off we went to the mall. I bought the beer and a burger and fries from L&L for him, just a little tub of cottage cheese for me because with the humid heat I had zero appetite, ended up eating nothing else all day.

Most of his talk was about the game, but he did tell me the big problem with his new patron is that patron lives in an ultra-secure apartment building where guests have to sign in and out, so in order to spend the night there the Sleeptalker has to sneak in. Bizarre. I asked how he had met the man but he said "it's a long and boring story" and grinned but refused to tell it.

Alas, the wretched RedEye came along. Lord Moana stopped by to chat for awhile and we talked about the outrageous recent event when a visiting Marine saved some drowning teenager at the beach and while doing so, the Marine's girlfriend's backpack was stolen.

Thieves who come in the night (and afternoon). At the Black Hole, if you have to make a nocturnal toilet visit, it's customary to leave your bag on your mat. Well, was customary. Now we have some lowlife thief raiding the place within, I'd guess, the hours of one and three. I returned from the toilet to see him boldly sitting there going through my bag. "Excuse me," I said, "you should be ashamed of yourself, stealing from the poor." He jumped up and ran for the stairs. I don't think my morality lecture had much effect because a week later someone, probably him, managed to get my watch off my wrist without waking me. Smooth operator. But a pretty useless thief. A nine-dollar radio he'd grabbed from the bag and a ten-dollar watch isn't exactly grand larceny. Of course, I was once again lucky. It would have been a major nuisance if he'd just taken the bag.

"Thank you for talking with me," said the Sleeptalker when he departed.

What a tender thing to say.

1108

I celebrated the Summer Solstice on Saturday in classic old hippie fashion, getting stoned with the Stones. No better way to do it.

They are calling this particular agricultural product Red and I've never experienced any better. Shine on, harvest moon. That two-CD collection from the Stones, Forty Licks, undoubtedly evokes more memories than any other two CDs could. Sweet, bitter, bittersweet.

When I got up from the bench to throw away my empty Pepsi can, I discovered I could hardly walk. Shine on, indeed.

The Sleeptalker has been in the game every day. He pensively said on Friday that he wished he could come into town and spend some time with me but he hated so much "sneaking into" the cage he is staying in. Then on Saturday he said, "I feel like I'm in jail." I didn't go online on Sunday, but on Monday his title said he "is not made of Money". I said sure you're made of money, give me twenty bucks. "Some people seem to think I am," he replied. Sounds like he isn't having too great a time in his new gay-owned sanctuary, but that was to be expected eventually.

Instead of online life on Sunday, I joined Helen to see Whale Rider. A beautiful, touching film.

Killer has disappeared. I do hope that creepy False Prophet didn't capture him, although I think that unlikely. It's far more plausible that he was hit by a moving vehicle, since he'd taken to spending too much time in the parking lots. Whatever his fate, I shall certainly miss his delightful hisses.

All things must pass ...

1109

The Sleeptalker arrived in the beach park Tuesday afternoon, having come into town with his friend/patron/lover/whatever whom he'd left in the mall. He launched into a lengthy, amusing rant about the man, much of which was classic domestic stuff like complaining that the guy spends too long brushing his teeth. I don't know why the Sleeptalker continues to pretend it's not a sexual relationship when so much of what he said sounded too intimate for it to be anything else. I said at one point that I didn't understand why, if the man cares so much about the Sleeptalker, he doesn't move to a building which wouldn't present the security problems of the current place. "He says he's going to," said the Sleeptalker, "but then he doesn't do anything about it."

Meanwhile, the Sleeptalker has already gotten himself suspended from Crazy Money after missing the first appointment with the treating doc. He'll have to wait three months before he can re-apply. That will, of course, make him even more dependent on and resentful of his friend, so it doesn't look like a very promising summer for him (or them).

He said he'd seen Angelo who told him that Tanioka has gone back to the pipe. That isn't much of a surprise but may explain why Tanioka hasn't appeared in an unusually long time, probably because he'd be embarrassed about admitting it to me. Unnecessary, of course.

The Sleeptalker was hoping The Snorer would appear with some weed to sell, but I'd seen the Snorer the day before and he hadn't had any. I guess he didn't find any, either, since he didn't show up. Paulo has, at last, gone off on a fishing boat and Lord and Lady Moana were missing, so the park seemed strangely empty. Eventually the Sleeptalker said he was feeling "too restless" to sit anymore and went off to the mall.

The unsettling news next morning was that there may be a bus strike. Yikes. If so, I certainly hope it doesn't last very long because having to spend life downtown will be a major drag, but it's far too hot right now to think of taking long walks to get from the Black Hole to the University and back. It's always something ...

1110

An alert reader asked about my delayed Solstice celebration: Were you just being (fashionably, no doubt) late, or did you lose a month somewhere? Very fashionably, cosmically late. For the first time in decades I simply forgot that it was the Solstice on the actual day. Oh well, at least I had suitable refreshments a month later.

Angelo is in jail. I saw the PL in the mall and she gave me the news more cheerfully than seemed appropriate. "We're taking turns," she said, then sneered slightly that he's only in for a misdemeanor and should be out on Sunday. She seems quite proud of herself, making it into the big league felony club. Strange woman.

Paulo was evidently also in jail, not off on a fishing boat as the Sleeptalker had thought. No details from Paulo but he told another fellow who stopped by that "I just got out yesterday". Another misdemeanor case, I suppose. He was drunk and stoned and so incoherent that, as is often the case, I could understand very little of what he said.

An amusing time in the game on Thursday, Rubella finally making it to level 90. At one point the Sleeptalker said he was going AFK [away from keyboard] because he had to wash some rice. When he returned, I said "what a nice little housewife you are." He spluttered and protested, "I like girls." Hmmmm. Later I asked what time Big Daddy gets home from the office (although I don't actually know what kind of work the man does). The Sleeptalker answered, "he usually stops at a strip club after work." Hmmmm, again. I'm almost getting curious enough to want to meet this person, after all.

That wretched cold has sent my sinuses into overdrive so it's almost as bad as the cold was itself. And the hot, steamy weather certainly does nothing to make life more comfortable.

No doubt about it, except for the moments with the Sleeptalker, July 2003 is not going to get on my "memorable months I have lived" list.

1111

The last weekend of July had me muttering much of the time about my beautiful wickedness and how I was melting, melting. Friday night was without contest the worst ever at the Black Hole. One of the few overhead fans still functioning began making an odd noise, they turned on the lights to look at it and, playing it safe I guess, they turned all the fans off. So much for my presumed good fortune in having gotten a spot under one. It was so hot and steamy I considered leaving since it certainly wouldn't have been worse to spend the night awake than to try and sleep in that hell. Good thing I didn't, though, because in the early morning hours a series of what sounded like ferocious thunderstorms began, the windows of the Black Hole flashing from lightning.

It stayed dark and gloomy throughout Saturday, with thunder in the morning but little rain although there were small lakes everywhere from what must have been quite heavy rain during the night. I stayed on campus all day in a sheltered spot, didn't go to the beach park. The used bookshop is having one of their four-for-a-dollar sales and I was especially happy to find two more of the McNally series by Lawrence Sanders, including the first one, McNally's Secret. Just the kind of cheerful reading matter needed in such dreary weather.

There was so little wind all day that the slightest breeze was a treasure, and it remained that way on Sunday. After doing my laundromat chores in the morning, I got a beer for me and a can of food for Lady Grey, returned to campus. When I got up on the bench to put her food in the usual place on the wall, she appeared. Not alone, but with what is undoubtedly one of the sweetest kittens I have ever seen, so tiny and still a bit wobbly when walking. They both hissed at me! I moved to a more distant bench so I could watch them without causing further alarm. The kitten evidently isn't ready for solid food yet but remained by mama's side while she ate. So the loss of Killer has been balanced by the arrival of a palm-sized hisser to take his place.

The Sleeptalker appeared in the game very briefly on Saturday, not at all on Sunday. I assume he doesn't get as much computer time on the weekends.

So much for the final weekend of July 2003. A reader said: Not that you're writing a lot, are you ? Count your blessings. In this Summer of My Discontent, you're far better off that way.

At least they did have the fans back on at the Black Hole.

1112

... like Webster's Dictionary, we're Morocco bound.

The internal jukebox has been stuck on that song since hearing the news of Bob Hope's death. "Road to Morocco" is definitely my favorite Hope film. I wish one of the smaller theatres would put on a tribute festival, including it, but I guess television's numerous offerings make it too unattractive financially. A hundred years. Can't say I agreed with Hope's political philosophy but I surely did enjoy him as an entertainer. Another one who could justifiably be given NPR's Sinatra accolade.

The baby kitten is eating solid food, as I saw on Monday. But Lady Grey isn't as kind a mama as her own was, lets the baby eat her leftovers instead of going second. Seeing that sweet little thing hiss at me makes my day.

Also making my day, the
hideous weather finally ended when the tradewinds returned on Tuesday. What a pleasure it was to spend time without dripping sweat.

It's NSO time on campus. New Student Orientation, with groups of youngsters being escorted around. The incoming Freshman of the Year was an instant winner. Love at first sight. Well, lust, anyway.

No Bad Boys, in or out of the game. I wonder what they're up to.

1113

"You want to hang out together later, or are you tired of me?" asked the Sleeptalker. When I saw him, I told him that even if I lived as long as Bob Hope, I am very sure I would never get "tired" of him.

When he still didn't appear in the game by Wednesday, I assumed something had gone amiss with his current domestic situation and it was a correct assumption. He was at the Black Hole that evening. We just exchanged greetings and didn't talk further until he entered the game on Thursday morning, probably playing from his friend's place in Chinatown. A very lively and amusing session it was, too, and Rubella made it to level 92. In response to the above suggestion, I agreed to meet him in the park at about three in the afternoon and he was waiting for me when I got there.

I bought beer and some food for him and slowly got the details out of him about what had happened with his patron. It seems to be a combination of increasing sexual desire (for which I blame the patron not in the least) and the Sleeptalker's return to a penniless state. His patron evidently smokes a lot of the weed and the Sleeptalker had been helping to keep the supply replenished. Without that combination, the patron no doubt felt justified in asking for the Sleeptalker's participation in what, I must say, I think rather tame but delightful sexual scenarios. The Sleeptalker, of course, doesn't see how being provided with room and board and 24-hour computer access might reasonably be rewarded with a little cooperation. On the other hand, the patron would no doubt continually increase his demands, so I guess the Sleeptalker is well out of it. If he is. It remains to be seen whether he ends up returning to what he said, "doesn't feel like home anymore." And I am fairly certain the patron would welcome such a return eventually, if not already.

The Sleeptalker said he'd seen Rocky earlier and that Rocky was boasting about the number of fights he's gotten into lately, including one with Tanioka! Really, these guys are too old for such nonsense, but I think the glass pipe is much to blame.

It was a delightful time with the Sleeptalker and especially amusing when I reminded him of the night at the hacienda when he'd been on the bench next to me, wearing nothing but surfer shorts, and said, "You see something you like? Me." A most accurate observation and it still holds true almost six years later. So even though finances are going to be dismal for the next three weeks, when he continued his flirting with that most treasured proposal to earn twenty dollars, not a chance I would refuse.

We first went to the Shower, but I guess Angelo has abused the place too much because they've installed a big security gate now, blocking access. So we went to the Garage. Sweet. Very sweet.

He went off to buy pipe-filling, alas, but then he earned the money so it was his business how he spent it. He returned to the Garage briefly but then went away again. A little later Rocky arrived and went further upstairs to sleep after a brief chat. It was difficult to sleep with all the strange noises during the night and being on my own so I really only lightly dozed, felt almost as awful the next morning as if I'd indulged in the pipe myself.

A surprise in the secluded grove, though. Lady Grey has two children, both adorable. She seems quite fiercely protective of them and sat there glaring at me while the little ones nibbled a bit on her leftovers.

"What are you going to do now?" I asked the Sleeptalker.
"I don't know."

1114

The weekend was dominated by David Halberstam's What Fools These Mortals Be. Well, okay, the real title of the book is The Best and the Brightest, but the other title would have been just as apt. A continuing domination, since it's a very thick book with fairly small print. Rather nicely symbolic, it's also falling apart as I read it, which is, yes, nice symbolism for a detailed political history of the involvement of the United States of America with that little Asian nation known as Vietnam.

It has only taken me about three decades to get up the noive to read the book.

[wave to the Cowardly Lion]

[A reader puzzled by the "beautiful wickedness" reference recently must see that most favorite of all films, "The Wizard of Oz". Not sure if the book will do, since it's been awhile since I compared the original book to the screenplay.]

As alluded to in the last tale, the Sleeptalker has returned to The Patron. Now dignified with his own moniker in the Tales.

I was more disturbed by that than I should have been. No, it is not jealousy. If I wanted to go to the effort to get shelter and, most importantly, offer 24-hour computer access, I know the Sleeptalker would be there in a flash. He's made that clear. But I wouldn't have any more success than all his other sugar daddies. It won't last.

And if each time they have a lover's spat, the Sleeptalker returns to me, I am not complaining.

More seriously, at least there he is safe and away from the glass pipe.

1115

Some homeless people are so tacky. There's a grubby old bearded man who occasionally prowls the campus, reads magazines at Hamilton Library. On Wednesday someone had left a plate, covered in foil, on a bench. He looked under the foil, evidently decided he didn't want it and threw it in the trash. Why didn't he just leave it where it was in case some other more hungry person wanted it?

Didn't bother me, the day after foodstamps arrived, time for a luxury lunch. Quiche Lorraine, oddly flown in from Canada. A bit of a dud, far too much salt. I left about a quarter of it for the birds. Odd that birds eat cooked egg, seems almost cannibalistic. I would have supplemented the mackerel supplied Lady Grey and Family with the egg dish but figured it was too spicey for them. The kittens didn't seem too keen on the mackerel either, but they're far too young to be picky.

The Sleeptalker was in a good mood in the game on the weekend, but then turned somewhat sulky and argumentative on Monday, even worse on Tuesday. At least it was aimed at everyone in general, not specifically at me, and I just kept quiet. Unlike all my other characters who plodded along very, very slowly in the 90s, Rubella is climbing very fast, made it to 96 on Wednesday (when the Sleeptalker was absent).

Speaking of plodding, still immersed in the Vietnam Debacle. It truly is incredible how blindly stupid some of the major players were, especially since by all indications they were actually well-educated, perceptive men. Except on the subject of Vietnam. It's not pleasant to be reminded of how much I despised Lyndon Johnson. I thought he'd be the worst man in the presidency in my lifetime, but then I hadn't foreseen the nightmare of Bush2.

And speaking of politics, I enjoyed Arianna Huffington on Left Right and Center Tuesday night, was amused by her continuing indecision about entering the madhouse political scramble in California, even more amused when I saw that she announced on the Today show Wednesday morning that she will run. Probably not a chance in hell she'll make it, but she's sure to make the debates more intelligent and lively. I suppose that will mean she'll be absent from the NPR programme between now and the October election and I'll miss her.

See something you like? Me. Some of these charming local young men may not be as verbal about it as the Sleeptalker was but they surely do send the message via eyes and facial expression. Delightful.

1116

My French Reader, commenting on Lady Grey and family's less than enthusiastic reaction to human food, asked: Do you have several kinds of fish-for-humans like we have here, the "natural" one without any seasoning (better for cats) and the one with oil, vinegar or whatever ?

Oh yes. With sardines, there is quite a choice, ranging from "spring water" to some hot sauce. Of course, I give them the water version. Killer liked them, I suspect more because he could grab one in his jaws and run off with it, no doubt pretending he'd caught a mouse. Lady Grey was less enthusiastic and her children also seem to be not too enthused with sardines.

But in the case of canned, or as the British say tinned, tuna, usually a choice between water and oil. They actually prefer the oil. Mackerel is the least expensive (and it's in water), but it doesn't seem to matter much to them whether it's mackerel or Alaskan pink salmon. They prefer catfood. Bizarre. Especially with the little ones who haven't had that much experience between "human" fish and "cat" fish.

On Saturday, I used one of my dwindling dollars to buy a large can of Figaro (catfood) tuna (which seems to have other stuff, including bits of carrot, mixed in with it) and for only the second time, the entire family came to dine. I don't know if cats actually have "identical twins" but certainly Lady Grey's children are as close to identical as they can be. I doubt I'll ever be able to tell one from the other.

In the neverending Bad Boys Soap Opera, the Sleeptalker is apparently back in town. When I left the Black Hole at about 5:30 on Saturday morning, Angelo was outside. He asked if I'd seen the Sleeptalker inside, said that Tanioka had told him the Sleeptalker would be sleeping there. Well, if he was, he would have been downstairs and I wouldn't have seen him unless he'd been sleeping very near the exit. (I've no idea why Angelo hadn't just walked in and looked for the Sleeptalker.)

The Sleeptalker had been in the game for hours on Friday but had said nothing, privately or publicly, didn't even join in the congratulations when Rubella made it to level 97. According to Angelo, the Sleeptalker had been at his Chinatown friend's place, where he can evidently visit and use the computer but not stay overnight. (His patrons are certainly a bizarre crowd.)

Angelo has his hair cut so short it's almost like being bald, not very flattering. He said he hadn't been angry with me (well, why the hell should he have been?) but that he thought I'd been mad at him (with more reason). I didn't make any comment. He wanted a tee shirt. I said I only had the one I was wearing, only later realized he'd probably thought I had clothes stored at the Black Hole. And he said Rocky and Tanioka were at The Garage. Why he was there looking for the Sleeptalker is another mystery, unless maybe he didn't know the Sleeptalker no longer has Crazy Money.

Oh yes, it is a soap opera.

After finally finishing that slog through the Vietnam Era, I found an unusual first novel, Monkeys in the Dark, by Blanche d'Alpuget, an Australian who lived some time in Indonesia where the novel was set. And then another one of Jonathan Kellerman's always-enjoyable Alex Delaware novels, Flesh and Blood, followed by an also unusual one, Lawrence Durrell's Bitter Lemons, an impressionistic account of his years in Cyprus.

What would I do without books? Or Bad Boys ....

1117

In fine schizoid style, after having been totally silent in the game on Friday the Sleeptalker was quite the chatterbox on Saturday. I told him Angelo had been looking for him and he wanted all the details, seemed amused to hear Tanioka and Rocky were staying at The Garage. He calls it "The Plantation", an alias which never would have occurred to me for that dreary concrete structure.

He also talked (publicly) about his family, how they're in an uproar because his sister is pregnant again. The Sleeptalker as twice-uncle. Not surprisingly, the family would be more enthusiastic if sister would get married. The Sleeptalker said his brother was going to whip the guy's ass when he got out of jail. I wondered, before or after he beats his own wife again, but didn't say it.

On Sunday he was missing from the game, but Angelo arrived at the beach park at the same time I did. I'm a little puzzled. Is he trying to edge back into my life? I suspect he had been at the Black Hole more to find me than the Sleeptalker, since they'd never connected and Angelo knew about the Sleeptalker losing Crazy Money. He sat and talked for a little while, told me Tanioka hasn't shaved for a long time and is all hairy, said you just saw his eyes in a mass of hair. But it was painfully clear Angelo had his mind only on one thing, that damned pipe, and he eventually jumped up to get on a Waikiki-bound bus, no doubt for a shopping expedition. It is depressing to see how much he has deteriorated, how utterly sunk in addiction he has become. I wondered where the PL was but didn't ask, and he didn't mention her.

There's another Bad Boy wannabe on the scene, one of Lord and Lady Moana's courtiers. He has been stopping to chat every day and on Saturday said we should get a hotel room and party, smoke the pipe and have sex [!]. He looks Filipino, early thirties, but says he was born in Zimbabwe, brought here as a child. I didn't tell him there is only one person who is worth that expensive a party.

The little computer lab has finally re-opened so I have online access on weekend mornings again, most welcome. On Friday, though, everything will be closed for the silly Admission Day holiday, but at least the lab will provide some online time when the libraries are closed the following weekend, preceding the beginning of the fall term.

The KFC near the mall has been closed for months undergoing renovation and it also finally re-opened. Helen suggested having a meal there to celebrate, so I met her late Saturday afternoon. The first topic of conversation, which is rapidly becoming the norm here, is the looming bus strike. If no agreement is reached, the strike will begin on the 26th. That's at least better for me than the original suggestion of mid-month. I wasn't looking forward to all the trekking which would have been necessary on Third Wednesday. If the strike does go forward, I'll still have an hour online each day at the State Library (except for Sunday and Monday when it's closed), so the biggest concern will be Lady Grey and her babies. I don't think I'm up to that hike from the Black Hole to campus and back, so I guess I'll ask the Cat Lady if she and her friends can take on the task for the duration of the strike.

Our usual daily routine in the secluded grove is going to be in some turmoil for a week or two because they are putting in a sprinkler system. I'll have to find out when the workmen take their lunch break and feed the cats then since the little ones are so shy they won't come out if anyone is in the grove but me (and Lady Grey takes up a position to keep a suspicious eye on me while the babies eat). They've quickly learned, though, not to hold back until mama has finished eating, are there waiting for the handout and start right in. Such incredibly sweet little animals.

Rubella made it to 98 on Sunday. I wonder if I can get her to the top before the threatened strike?

1118

Rubella made it to the top on Tuesday. Happily, the Sleeptalker was playing at the time and joined in the chorus of congratulations. "I wonder if giving up 158 hours of my life to make it again to the top in 7th was worth it?" I asked. Two of the veteran players immediately said "no".

The Sleeptalker said he was thinking of going into a rehab center, was seeing a doctor on Wednesday. I don't see why he thinks he needs to but didn't say so, did tell him he should take Angelo with him. If anyone needs a rehab, it's Angelo. The Sleeptalker is more optimistic than I am about Angelo's chances of eventually pulling out of the nasty spiral he's in.

I was sitting in Philo Walk reading when a hand grasped my shoulder and gave it a gentle squeeze. With a soft 'ho-ho", the Handsome Statue noted what I was reading. William Prochnau's Trinity's Child. Although he looks like a brainless beach boy, the Handsome Statue is actually an avid reader, and he obviously knew this one. I thought, well, maybe there's more than one man who would be worth that expensive hotel/pipe party. But I suspect having sex with the Handsome Statue would be like ... having sex with a handsome statue. Sweet man, though, and he has a new haircut which makes him even more alluring.

The Prochnau book is an alternate history type yarn where the Soviets and the Americans almost obliterate each other with nukes. It made me realize that for most of my life, the Russians have been the enemy and yet these days we hear almost nothing about them.

As expected, Arianna Huffington has withdrawn from Left Right and Center until after the California election and, also as expected, the program isn't half as interesting without her. I won't be setting aside an interesting book in order to listen to it until she returns. (I'd rather see her not return and become the new
Governor of California, but that seems highly unlikely.)

I'm as bad as the cats. Someone had left a sealed plastic bag with about a dozen pieces of California Roll sushi in the mall. I ate one and said, "no thanks", left the rest for some less picky cat. Not surprisingly, the bag had vanished when I walked past there about five minutes later. I suppose if I didn't have foodstamps I would have been less choosey. The cats aren't getting a choice until next Wednesday. Sorry, guys, it's foodstamps food or nothing. Of course, even if they initially turn up their noses, whatever I leave is gone by the next morning.

The workers in the secluded grove take their lunch break at eleven which works out fine, since that's about the time I usually feed the cats and have my lunchtime beer. Two cans of "fishsteaks" (herring in soybean oil) already in my bag for the cats today. Poor things. But x = 6.

1119

My mother often accused me of being "a pain in the neck". These days we tend to use another part of the body for the phrase (the one I used in grumbling about the Sleeptalker on Sunday), but I was certainly reminded of mama's version when a major manifestation arrived Saturday morning. I was sitting on campus reading when I became aware of a slight discomfort in my neck, rather like what happens when you sleep too long in an awkward position. Unlike that version, this one got worse and worse as the day progressed, aspirin having almost no effect on it. By evening I couldn't turn my head from side-to-side, had to turn my whole body to look both ways before crossing a street. The pain was only on the left side of the neck and eventually spread to the upper left shoulder. I was eager to find myself on that mat at the Black Hole but once there discovered it wasn't any relief. It was impossible to find a comfortable sleeping position, only to settle for the least painful and to wake each time I shifted. At about two-thirty I decided to try a hot shower and that did help a little so I stayed in it for about half an hour and was able to sleep fitfully until about five.

The first thing I did next morning when the computer lab opened was to search Google for "neck pain" and discovered it isn't at all uncommon with us old folks. Oh wonderful, my youth plagued by lower back pain (for which aspirin also did nothing) and my old age by mysterious neck pain. What a (lousy) piece of work is man.

In any case, it did slowly get better on Sunday and by Monday morning was only a hint of the discomfort it had been. If this was Dame Fortune's way of combatting the boredom of x equals time, I'd prefer boredom.

My cheap and/or free reading sources have certainly handed me a mixed bag this summer, and that nuclear war fable was followed by a jump back to France in the 1700s and Les Trois Mousquetaires. I've encountered numerous adaptations (probably the first a Classics Comics version) but I think this is the first time I've read a translation of the complete work. Oddly, this translation was first published in 1888 but there is no record of who actually wrote it. A shame someone did so much work, and quite delightfully, but ends up getting no credit for it. That "Milady" must be one of the very nastiest females in all fiction.

That kept me occupied for several days and then I went back to some inconsequential murder tales found at the State Library on Saturday.

Friday being Admission Day meant no online access and it was a routine day of reading in the secluded grove in the morning, joining Helen R for a holiday lunch at KFC and then sitting in the beach park saying no to all the pleas for cigarettes or beer. Paulo keeps claiming I "owe" him a beer. It's actually more like he owes me ten or so.

The neck pain left me in no mood for computer games on Saturday, but when I went into Seventh Circle on Sunday the talk of the place was ... sigh ... the Sleeptalker. He'd lost a fight with someone, threw a tantrum and committed suicide. Yet again. I had warned him a few days before not to fight that fellow. He's a long-time veteran with the best possible equipment in the game. The Sleeptalker had no chance whatsoever going up against him. But even so, why give the guy the added satisfaction of killing off the character and losing all the stuff the Sleeptalker had been given by friends?

Yes, a pain in the butt, that man. Sometimes.

1120

The News from the Secluded Grove just can't be as amusingly droll as Garison's News from Lake Woebegone. First, because I can't do droll as well as Mister Keilor and, second, because the Grove doesn't have as many occupants. And Gott sei dank for that.

It seemed at first that the herring "fish steaks" were a success with Lady Grey and her babies. The first two times. By the third time, they'd obviously gotten bored with that option. Okay, Alaskan pink salmon then. A success the first time, more or less, but I seemed to get vibes asking why I hadn't brought an 88-cent can of catfood tuna instead of 3-dollar human stuff. Sorry, my dears, take it or leave it. They took it. Eventually.

Bizarre that the more broke I get, the more expensive food they get. And do they appreciate this? In one word, NO.

The irrigation system has been installed. Thus it only remained to see what the schedule would be and how much of the place got drenched as a result. Answer: they seem to turn it on in the morning on Tuesday. Like most irrigation systems at UH-Manoa, it thoroughly wettens the sidewalks but fortunately doesn't drench the benches. (So much for all the appeals in the newspapers about conserving water in this summer of drought.)

I have not encountered the English author, Frances Paige, before, but she gave me many hours of pleasure in the Grove with her The Confetti Bed and continued to do so with The Swimming Pool. A film based on the latter is playing at the cinema downhill from campus (or at least I assume the
film is based on this book, can't tell from its over-fancy website). [Later discovered there is no connection.]

News from the Secluded Grove

1121

When I got to the mall on Tuesday afternoon I heard someone calling me. Angelo. Would I loan him five dollars? Is it too much to suggest that young man is out of touch with reality? I think he might have more success if he were straightforward and honest, just asked me to give him five dollars. But no matter what approach he had used on Tuesday, it wouldn't have worked because I didn't have five dollars. He was with Tanioka who has removed the reported facial hair except for a moustache and looks to have gained some weight. I only chatted with them briefly, patted Tanioka on the shoulder and told him it was good to see him. Which it was.

Later I was on the down-side of an escalator and passed Rocky heading up. He had his hair thoroughly greased and plastered to his head, a touch of style [?] I'm relieved I wasn't asked to comment on.

As for that other one, no sign of him in the game, not surprisingly. He always vows to never play again after one of his suicidal tantrums. He had been hesitating over the plans to enter the rehab place because he didn't want to give up the game for a month, but if he's in a "never again" state of mind, he might well have gone to the rehab. No harm in living a substance-free life for a month, but he surely will get bored and go right back to it all when released, so why bother? Of course, I didn't say that in the last chat we had about it in the game. I wish he'd escape from his endless search for someone to take care of him.

My recent exploration of modern American history continued when I found Hunter Thompson's Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72, fitting, since the Halberstam epic ended with the departure of Lyndon Johnson. Thompson's book is, for the most part, originally articles written for Rolling Stone and reads like a blog (albeit a far more brilliant one than most). It also made me feel quite lucky to have been out of the country at the time.

The fifty-cent cart at Hamilton is temporarily a 25-cent cart and when I returned from a successful visit to the mailbox on Third Wednesday, I got extravagant and bought nine books, eight of them by Henry James. So when I finish this American nightmare and then Edmund Wilson's The Twenties, I shall immerse myself in James for awhile and he will no doubt influence the tone of the Tales. There could be worse influences.

An extravagance I'm not quite ready to undertake yet is nonetheless very tempting. Just what I have been wanting appeared: a mini-disc recorder with FM radio. Two hundred dollars. I shall own one in time to record the Fleming Traviata in March.

Meanwhile, Lady Grey and family are delighted to have catfood again.

1122

I am a sick, crazy man. I dreamed I had a mantelpiece and on the left side of it was a stuffed bald eagle.

What more evidence is needed?

Edmund Wilson's The Twenties is such an awful book I gave up on it after a couple of hours and threw it in a trashcan. It's rare for me to give up on a book, pretty much unprecedented to discard one rather than leaving it for someone else to find, but it was an act of kindness, believe me. What a pretentious asshole.

Since my newly-acquired Henry James collection was in my campus locker, I went to the mall and searched the used-book selection at the Japanese department store, found Man of Destiny by Martin Gross which made a lot more sense than reading that obnoxious thing by Wilson. After my recent more-or-less factual reading about American politics, what better than a convincing fictional account of a Presidential campaign?

I am worried that Lady Grey's children may come to view human beings as more benevolent than they (generally) are, especially with that wretched False Prophet haunting the campus. The kittens rush to mama's side when I arrive with provisions but they've given up the hissing routine (she still does it at first, and then gives me her plaintive meow while I'm opening the cans). But I don't want the little ones to trust human beings.

I don't. Especially politician human beings, if that's not an oxymoron.

1123

I'm as corny as Kansas in August
High as a kite on the Fourth of July
If you'll excuse an expression I use
I'm in love with a wonderful guy.


"Cool shorts!" said the Sleeptalker, ending a week-long debate I'd had with myself. They are impractical, being such a light color (very pale tan or cream) and they were far too expensive. But I saw them, liked them very much, went in the shop to check the price, didn't scream, but left and continued debating. So when the Sleeptalker arrived in the beach park on Friday afternoon, finished the rest of my beer I'd offered him, and we walked to the mall to get further provisions, I asked his opinion on the debated shorts. "You can buy them for me," he added with a laugh. I bought them for myself.

Yes, he arrived. Arrived wearing camouflage fatigue trousers. Now that's downright unfair. He doesn't need to tweak my fetishes. Unfair, unfair.

He paid the price by having me gaze longingly at him for hours. Kindly didn't even growl at me for "staring".

He's decided not to go into the rehab, has already left his "never again" mood about the game and now is eager to create a character which he'll keep totally anonymous, not even letting me know who it is. Alas, the game was down all weekend so his ambitions were stymied. But if that's the way he wants to play it, I'm all for him and even if I do recognize him (which is highly likely), I'll do nothing in or out of the game to say so.

It's difficult to go from a rat-a-tat-tat contemporary American novel to The Ambassadors but after about a hundred pages I gratefully sank into it.

1124

I used sometimes to propose to him to take a walk; but he had a morbid horror of pedestrianism, and regarded my own taste for it as a morbid form of activity. "You'll kill yourself, if you don't look out," he said, "walking all over the country. I don't want to walk round that way; I ain't a postman!"
Henry James: The Pension Beaurepas

Well, I "ain't a postman" either, but looks like I might be doing some extensive walking in the immediate future, since it appears the bus strike is inevitable.

If I "kill myself" ... not the least reason for concern. Trust me, I shall not regret it.

I read The Ambassadors in a "Norton Critical Edition" which had very generous, too generous, footnotes. If the little numbers refer to some section after the book is finished, I can ignore them. But if they are on the same page with the text, I find it almost impossible not to glance down and see what I am being pointed to. The "editor" in this case was somewhat over-ambitious. He gave us the translation of every French phrase. Even cul-de-sac. And if a person is capable of reading one of the late-period novels of Henry James, does that person really need to be told that "St. Peter's" refers to "the cathedral in Rome". [sic, and I do mean sic].

On the other hand, I could have used a little assistance with The Pension Beaurepas, since I haven't the faintest idea what some of French phrases are saying. But I was amused by the opening line of Part Four: "Mr. Ruck distinguished me, as the French say."

Well, they may have said that in 1879, but do they still say it? And could I, then, say I have "distinguished" the Sleeptalker? I hope so.

That "wonderful guy" didn't appear on the weekend, but the damned song so dominated the internal jukebox I was really annoyed. "Shut up! Shut up!".

1125

What it had come to was that he wore a mask painted with the social simper, out of the eye-holes of which there looked eyes of an expression not in the least matching the other features.
Henry James: The Beast in the Jungle

If I were to yield to those who urge me to write more about "The Sixties", I could use that as an intro.

In the critical essays appended to the "Norton Critical Edition" of The Ambassadors there is quite some debate about whether or not James is a "difficult" writer to read. I really don't think there is any question, especially with the late James, post-1900. A contemporary reader, one who admires, say, Stephen King, John Grisham, Danielle Steele, is going to find post-1900 James quite difficult indeed. Perhaps not so much as Joyce and Stein, who are formidably difficult, but even so, not easy reading.

I put The Ambassadors back in my locker with the thought that I should, perhaps, tackle it one more time, went on to some volumes in this handsome Penguin Classics edition of the Tales. The first volume was pre-1900 and thus not so difficult. An International Episode [1878] with its amusing ending, The Pension Beaurepas [1879] where, as I said, I could have used some more footnotes, and Lady Barberina. Charming stories.

Roger Gard, the editor of the next volume of tales, all 1900 or later, agrees with me about footnotes, wrote in the introduction to his very selective collection of such, admirably placed at the end of the book rather than at the bottom of the individual pages: James addressed his stories at first to an educated audience, and I think it patronizing to modern readers to assume they know much less or much differently from their forebears. And ... An interruption is felt, whether the attention is directed to the small print at the foot of the page or to the back of the book. Quite so.

His sensibility is even more appreciated in a collection of such .... weird .... tales. The Third Person is bizarre. Broken Wings almost as much so. The Beast in the Jungle [1903] constantly sent my mind off reeling into things so unrelated to the story that I often found myself re-reading a page simply because I'd wandered so far off from it that I forgot my "place", as they say.

I think it is easier for me to appreciate Henry James for having been an expatriate myself. And he makes me very grateful I was, perhaps even more so than the commentators on not-so-long-ago American history have done.

Meanwhile, back here wearing this mask, the anticipated strike has happened. This little metropolis no longer has any form of public transportation. It is an almost two-hour walk from the Black Hole to the campus of the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

BUT .... can I possibly ignore those two adorable little kittens who wait for me in the late morning to bring their lunch?

1126

I briefly saw the "wonderful guy" on the evening of the First Day of the Bus Strike. He was staying at the Black Hole, greeted me as he walked by with something which sounded like a message from an official employee (clever rascal) and when I saw it was the "wonderful guy", I just gave a weak wave as he continued on.

After all the walking I did on the First Day of the Bus Strike, a weak wave was all I could manage.

The two-hour walk in the early morning hours is not really a problem. The cool pre-dawn and first dawn hours are the best time for walking and, then, I ordinarily do nothing much during those hours anyway. (Even if I have to admit I prefer sitting on a bench in the mall sipping coffee and reading.) I had planned to leave the Black Hole earlier than usual on the morning of the Second Day but they, with not much sensitivity to the events of the day, had one of their infamous fire alarm drills at three in the morning. By the time I got back to my mat, it took awhile to return to sleep and I continued in that state, once reached, until my usual waking time of about five, dreaming twice of Rocky. Oh, well.

My morning walk on the Second Day was interrupted by a shower of rain, forcing me to take shelter for about ten minutes. That, of course, is another factor in how difficult these enforced walks will be, the weather. I am very sure that if it were only Lady Grey, I'd not make the effort every day, because she's big enough and clever enough to find food elsewhere. Naughty of her to have babies at a time like this.

But then, what else do I have to do anyway?

The afternoon walk back toward the Black Hole is far more difficult than the morning one away from it. The very warm afternoon sunshine is lovely, but not when one is plodding down the crowded sidewalks. I took that return walk in much smaller stages, sitting to rest far more often, even went to the beach park because where else is there to go in mid-afternoon to discreetly drink a beer? They've removed almost all the benches from the downtown area to discourage the wretched homeless people (another reason why I wouldn't know what to do down there in the 5-7 a.m. time slot). Even when I left the beach park for my final expedition toward the Black Hole, I ended up at the old GovSanc, the most reasonable place to quietly enjoy the sunset hour.

And continued with Henry James. I am puzzled by his supernatural tales ... ghost stories, if you like. The Third Person was peculiar, The Jolly Corner downright absurd.

Well, I have absolutely no right to talk about people writing absurd things, so I'll yield to the number of students, in this busy first week back on campus, waiting for computer access, and get out of here.

1127

Day Four of the infamous bus strike, no end in sight. At least on Day Three I got a ride in the afternoon. The city is running a van service which I understood required reservations in advance, but that's only for service to destinations outside town. In town, they run from Chinatown to UH to Waikiki to the mall and back to Chinatown, no reservations required. So if I sat around somewhere downtown in the morning until the service begins, I could also get a free ride to campus (although I'd bet the earliest runs are well crowded). I certainly did think about it during the Fourth Long March, asking myself how long I could keep up the routine.

At least I'll get a day off on Monday since everything at UH will be closed for the holiday and the cats will have to make do with dried food which I'll leave for them on Sunday. Just what I'm going to do with an offline day when the parks will all be jammed with end-of-summer picnickers, I have no idea. Get extravagant and use a net cafe?

The Sleeptalker was sitting outside the Black Hole when I arrived on Wednesday. He was surprised I was making the walk to UH each day. Earlier in the month I'd found a bus pass, gave it to him, but he told me he'd given it to Angelo. "He really needed it." Hmmm, for what, an expansion of territory to steal from? I was more irked than was reasonable but didn't say anything. It's certainly not doing Angelo much good now, anyway.

The Henry James marathon continues with the novel, The Sacred Fount, a not very interesting soap-opera in fancy language, and Italian Hours, a collection of essays about traveling in that country. Whoever is unloading their James collection left more on the Hamilton cart, including two massive volumes of a biography by Leon Edel, but I think I'll resist (if for no other reason than not wanting my little bag any heavier than necessary during this time of pedestrianism).

At least one very welcome development this week: they finally installed an automatic closer on the bathroom door at the Black Hole. An odd cause for happiness. Little things mean a lot?

1127a

Bad Boys sightings on Friday. Well, okay, Kory K isn't really a Bad Boy but certainly has the potential to be one if he weren't so conservative. Very rare to have a "chance encounter" with him on campus, but it happened mid-day. And then, as has become my habit in this Era of Pedestrianism, I was spending the sunset hour sitting at GovSanc when Tanioka appeared.

He really is the most susceptible of them all to the negative mental effects of the glass pipe and the phrase which sprang to mind was "scrambled brains". He got fired from his job but his explanation for why it happened was too incoherent to translate. He has regained his Federal disability pay, however, and wanted me to "loan" him twenty dollars. A reader did point out that the form should be "lend", but never mind grammar, at least with Tanioka I know I'd get the money back. Unlike Angelo, Tanioka does understand the basic concept. If Tanioka had been a little more conniving, he would have gotten it. In fact, we came perilously close to having an August Follies because I wouldn't at all mind sharing a pipe or two with him. But his mental state was too close to alarming. I just couldn't do it, either fill the pipe or provide the means for doing so.

No, I resisted, said "I'd better go", patted him on the shoulder and walked on to the Black Hole.

I finally finished the collection of latter-day James tales. I almost gave up with The Velvet Glove but returned to it the next day and trudged on. Crapy Cornelia puzzled me by title alone since modern readers surely see it as "crappy", but the online 1913 edition of Webster's defines "crapy" as "resembling crape". Of them all, I most liked the final selection, The Bench of Desolation. But these tales, combined with still crawling through The Sacred Fount makes me wonder whether the question is not "is late James difficult to read?", but "is late James extraordinarily boring?" No question whatsoever for me that The Sacred Fount is one of the most boring works by a major novelist I've ever encountered. He evidently said in a letter that the novel is a "joke". The longest, most verbose, most unfunny joke in history, if so.

1128

Printed by S.I.P, Montreuil, France, in July 1959

The Traveller's Companion Series, No. 76 and No. 77.

Can you guess the titles?

Incredible, to find them on that cart at Hamilton Library, still only twenty-five cents per volume. The very same editions I bought when I was nineteen years old. (In that long-ago time, for Francs: 1.500.)

You still haven't guessed?

No. 76 = The Naked Lunch by William Burroughs.
No. 77 = The Black Book by Lawrence Durrell.

Since I was so close to the end of that dismal The Sacred Fount, I finished it, left it and the Italian essays by Henry James for some other poor soul to encounter and went directly to Durrell. As Hesse's Steppenwolf was the most important book for me in my late twenties, so was The Black Book the key work for my late teens.

Well, I am older now, much older, and I do see how it was an immature, almost adolescent work, especially compared to Durrell's later output, but even so, I think it's a splendid novel and I am very happy to again encounter it, understand totally why I so loved it.

I gave up on Sunday of the holiday weekend and did not make the two-hour trek to campus. The feline family will have to depend upon the generosity of the Cat Lady who visits on Sundays and holidays (when there is no charge for parking her car). My body just cannot cope with such continuous, extravagant exercise, especially when I have to make the trek both there and back again. Saturday's return trek proved to me that I'm not up to it. I'll have to wait until that "City Van" service is again available for at least one part of the journey.

Meanwhile, I am ruined, I am ruined, I am undone. A rather charming little net-cafe has opened near the mall, with a more-than-rather charming young fellow working there, at least in the afternoon. Four dollars per hour. And [gulp] it is open until four o'clock in the morning.

Oh dear, oh dear. You can easily imagine what will happen the next time the Sleeptalker appears in the beach park. If you can't, I can.

1129

Oh, oh, oh, woe is me, never again .... ooops, scratch that last phrase even if I have to admit it has entered my mind several times in the past five or six hours. Tanioka kept nibbling away at my defenses, stopping by GovSanc almost every day. At first it was a repeat of the request for twenty dollars, then he had some and wanted only ten, this despite the fact that he had told me was definitely not stealing to fill the pipe. How then, I wonder, did he acquire an expensive box of Rogaine which he tried to sell me, asking "aren't you worried about your hair?" "No," I said. And how did he acquire a package of zipdisks (he didn't even know what they were) which I saw him sell for five dollars? Things must fly into his pockets.

But the reduced financial requests left me still declining. Then he brought in his WMD, the Sleeptalker.

Maybe it wasn't pre-arranged, but the combination of the two of them and their earnest brown eyes was too much to resist. So I loaned Tanioka the five he needed to buy a paper, and threw in twenty for a second. Thus, the Labor Day Follies, held in the Garage which was an absolute sweatbox. As has become his habit, once the pipe had been passed to completion, the Sleeptalker disappeared, wasn't seen again throughout the night. Tanioka also went off but re-appeared several times, usually to ask for a cigarette or try to get just one more puff from the depleted pipe.

I felt rather irked by the Sleeptalker. If he's not able to share the expense of a Follies, he could at least share a little more of his company.

I began the holiday by walking to the mall, sat in the park reading The Naked Lunch until it was time to meet Helen R and Mme de Crécy for a clothed lunch. Then I spent an hour in the net-cafe which was not as pleasant as previous visits because of a rowdy group of young people who evidently make it their afternoon hangout even though they don't use the computers. Back to reading The Naked Lunch while drinking a beer, still doing both when first Tanioka and then the Sleeptalker arrived at GovSanc.

Burroughs was such a loony, and it was quite appropriate to finish the book during the early morning hours feeling slightly spaced out and already a bit wasted from that equally loony glass pipe.

1129a

Unreported items from the holiday weekend:

I went into the restaurant with Sean Connery. He said to the headwaiter, "the name is Bond, James Bond." We were immediately escorted to a table where the married (?) couple from "Gilligan's Island" were sitting. They quietly discussed our mission which was to go to Los Angeles and kill Sammy Davis, Jr. But ... the couple told us that Davis had changed plans, they'd just heard, and he was staying in Las Vegas. So off we went to Vegas in some sort of motorcar, but just as we saw, in nighttime, the glittering city ahead of us, broad flashes of light came shooting down from the heavens and much tinier flashes of light went shooting back up. Vegas was under missile attack! And our "Star Wars anti-missile defense shield" didn't seem to be having much effect.

There is a small area at the Black Hole which is for "EARLY WAKE-UPS ONLY". They change the rules there frequently. For a time, one had to take a small bit of paper, sticky tape attached, write one's name on the paper and the desired time for awakening, and put it on the floor at the end of one's mat. The current method is that, if one sleeps there, one is awakened at five in the morning. Most of the gorillas, I mean, staff members, just kick one's mat and shout "FIVE O'CLOCK", but a kinder one tapped my foot and told me more gently it was that time. How embarrassing, I am usually out of that area by 4:45 at the latest.

Blame it on James Bond and watching the destruction of Las Vegas.

And who needs crystal methamphetamine anyway? I can just go to sleep.

I had a longer chat than usual, these days, with Pedro in the beach park on Sunday. He told me Paulo was part of that group using razor blades to slash pockets, that it's a favored method in the Philippines. I'd really like NOT to believe that, but then considering I've witnessed Paulo running away with a Japanese tourist's belongings, well .... not at all impossible.

This free van service the city is running has extended its hours, now begins in Chinatown before six in the morning to carry people from there to the mall to Waikiki to the University. It's certainly a long way around, but equally certainly beats walking for two hours. Alas, it does not function on weekends, and next Saturday is the First Saturday when the locker has to be cleared from 9 - 10 a.m. Oh well, if James Bond doesn't enlist me in another adventure, I should be able to wake up early on that Saturday and get to UH by the simple, but difficult, act of placing one foot in front of the other.

As I told Helen R and Mme de Crécy, the most annoying thing is finding the company of nothing but my own mind for two hours quite a boring exercise.

1130

Maybe just my imagination, but it seemed when I arrived in the secluded grove on Tuesday bearing cans of catfood, Lady Grey looked at me with an expression which very clearly said, "where the hell have you been?!"

The Labor Day Follies began at an earlier time than usual, I'd guess around eight o'clock in the evening. When I later looked at my watch, I was surprised by how early it was, and then a bit later when Tanioka asked the time, I said, "not as late as you'd think" and it was just before midnight. Maybe that's one reason the worst part of the aftermath was between three and six the next morning. And maybe because of that ample meal I'd had at midday, the aftermath wasn't as prolonged as it has sometimes been.

I saw the Sleeptalker the next day. I was crossing from the beach park to the mall, about to begin my sunset trek to GovSanc and then to the Black Hole. He was crossing from the mall to the park. So we exchanged waves. Tanioka didn't come to GovSanc but a rather handsome, young policeman did, asked me if I was waiting for someone. I explained it was just an effect of the bus strike, stopping to rest awhile before continuing my walk from the mall to Chinatown. "Have a nice evening, sir," he said.

Maybe I'd better find another place somewhere downtown for my sunset beer, if they're going to get nervous about me sitting at GovSanc. And then that would also eliminate Tanioka nagging me about my "bowl" (his term for the glass pipe).

As has so often happened, one thing about the Labor Day Follies that strongly registered is the sense of greed and the lack of manners dopers used to pride themselves on in the "good old days", never mind songs like "don't bogart that joint, my friend." In those days, the person who financed the party would be given first go. Not with these guys. Tanioka went first, passed the pipe to the Sleeptalker, and then I got my turn. Damned rude, by Sixties standards, but then this is not the Sixties, is it ...

And they weren't all that great, either, never mind the nostalgic propaganda which seems to be more and more circulating. "Don't bogart that joint, my friend."

Drugs = greed. Seems to me an indisputable statement.

When I do next talk with the Sleeptalker, I intend to tell him, "Look, I'd be much more sensible to just buy a paper and smoke it all by myself. I'd get higher for less money, end up spending the night by myself, but what's different when I let you join my party except that I wouldn't get as high?"

I know, I know, I shouldn't let myself continue to fret about it. Got off fairly lightly, as economic damage goes, and didn't have too hideous an aftermath.

Would you like to swing on a star, be much better off than you are, or would you rather be a mule ...

1131

I saw the Mongoose in the mall at about six-thirty on Thursday morning, was shocked by how he is deteriorating. One thing can be said for the Bad Boys: they "keep up appearances." They get haircuts, keep their clothes clean (and somehow constantly get new ones), and also somehow manage to shower. The Sleeptalker occasionally wanders closer to the edge than the others, appears with dirty feet or a dirty teeshirt (as recently mentioned), but all in all, they keep themselves looking so respectable that most people probably have no idea they are homeless. If I didn't know them, I certainly wouldn't guess. Very unlike the Mongoose (where there is now no doubt whatsoever), Paulo, Grubby (who still stinks so much of dried piss that you have to breathe through your mouth if he walks into McD's while you're there), and perhaps 75 percent of the men who stay at the Black Hole.

I was at the mall at that early hour because I got on one of the free vans in Chinatown, realized I was going to be stuck with just me and the driver on the final part of the run to the university. I'm no good at all with conversation before I've had a cup of coffee, or at least have been awake for an hour, so I got off at the mall to drink a "senior coffee" from McDonald's, then got on another van to campus.

And while drinking my coffee, I smoked cigarettes and read John Sandford.

Sandford is to William Burroughs what Kory K is to the Bad Boys. The potential is there, if they weren't so conservative. Nonetheless, in his "Prey" series, Sandford certainly does conjure up some lowlifes almost as gruesome as those of Burroughs. I found two more of that series at the used bookstore, started with Rules of Prey. Interesting, how "serial killers" have become such a dominant theme in contemporary American fiction. Oh well, it passes the time, as they say.

I could take up knitting instead, but I'd look pretty silly in the secluded grove knitting a scarf which I'd never have any use for.

Or I could watch television, but I only do that for a few minutes each night when I get to the Black Hole. I've not yet seen anything which compelled me to continue watching instead of getting out my beach towel, spreading it on the mat, putting earplugs in my ears, collapsing, with one corner of the towel over my eyes to block the light, and falling into sleep. Dreams are so much more interesting than anything on television. Or, alas, for that matter, than most of waking life. Or contemporary novels about serial killers.

I think Lady Grey and I have developed quite an effective method of communicating by expression. She is just not as kind as her own mother. When one of the children arrived a bit late for lunch on Thursday, Lady Grey returned to the leftovers she had left which the latecomer was trying quickly to eat. When Lady Grey started in as well, I gave her my nastiest "stop being greedy!" look and she backed off. Who needs words?

1132

No matter how much I vary my routine or territory, I still cross paths with the hacienda crowd. Not that Friday's variations were voluntary, just more hassle because of the continuing bus strike. I did get a ride in one of the vans from campus to Chinatown, then had to walk for about twenty minutes to cash the Fabled Pension Check which I'd picked up the day before on my walk from the mall to downtown. On my way back to Chinatown I ran into the Snorer and his lady. They were as surprised to see me in that area as I was to see them.

I sat in the grounds of the State Capitol Building for awhile, reading and discreetly drinking a beer, then walked over to one of the few areas where there are still benches and enough light to read even after sunset. Along came Angelo. The PL is in the hospital again, in a coma, the result of another overdose. She is either going to eventually succeed in killing herself or turn herself into a vegetable. Angelo had heard about the Labor Day Follies so I gave him my view of the party even though I was sure he'd repeat it all to the Sleeptalker. Maybe he already had by Sunday because I was sitting in the beach park and the Sleeptalker walked by, totally ignoring me.

I had to be on campus Saturday for the obligatory locker clean-out so I left the Black Hole earlier than usual for the two-hour trek. To avoid making the walk downhill and back a second time, I bought beer and catfood on my way, a mistake since I naturally started drinking the beer much earlier than I ordinarily would. There's no end to the little nuisances this damned strike is causing, including playing havoc with my budget since I end up spending more than I usually would for things, especially cigarettes. It's difficult to make that extra walk from the mall to the discount cigarette store and back just to save a little money.

Fortunately, I discovered online that a free bus service was being offered for Saturday only, using schoolbuses, so I did get a ride from campus to the mall. I probably should have stayed on the bus until it reached downtown but I am really not very fond of sitting anywhere down there, or at least anywhere I've yet found. Unfortunately, I'm also less fond of the Moanas area of the beach park just now, too. There are a number of new people who have set up more-or-less permanent encampments, one with a radio playing all the time making my usual shady spot impossible. The newcomers are all such packrats that they seem to be almost inviting the police to hassle them and I have to admit I wouldn't mind at all if they did get evicted.

I'd exchanged emails with the Cat Lady and she'd agreed to feed Lady Grey and family on Sunday so I spent the day at the mall and in the beach park. Aside from being ignored by the passing Sleeptalker and pestered for money (unsuccessfully) by Paulo it was a quiet, rather dull day reading, smoking, drinking.

Tobacco, books, beer. The three necessities of my crazy life, in that order. It surely would be nice to put a bus pass back on that list.

1132a

A reader asked: I wonder what makes a Bad Boy for you. Are there some of your young homeless friends that you do not include in this category, and why ? Some who are "borderline" ? etc ?

Well, course, a "Bad Boy" must be a young man, to begin with. In fact, most of the current "Bad Boys" are getting close to the retirement age (and some of them, the Sleeptalker especially, are very well aware of that).

There have been some things in the general media recently about "Bad Boys". The classics, James Dean, Brando, Brad Pitt ...

For my group of Bad Boys, first that they are young men, that they are either quite sexually attractive themselves or they are part of a group (the hacienda crowd) which includes a number of sexually attractive young men. That they have a, shall we say, casual attitude about sex. They won't, perhaps, actually participate but they won't frown on unorthodox sexual activity, and they don't have the usual young homosexual prejudice against older men. Yes, one could say their moral sense, overall, is somewhat loose. Bad Boy.

They do drugs.

They steal.

They are sweethearts and I love them all.

Yes, there are some young homeless people who just don't get the "Bad Boy" label, but no borderline cases. They either make it, or they don't. The Sleeptalker is the epitome of my "Bad Boy" concept, the sine qua non. Angelo is right behind him, his Little Brother probably next in line. Chico ... I wonder what has happened to him ... Tanioka and Okinawa only by association. The Cherub, on the other hand, is not a "Bad Boy" even though he meets some of the qualifications.

Maybe it's not really something which can be rigidly defined. If you meet a Bad Boy, you'll know it.

1133

"Are you waiting for someone?" I thought of saying, "yes, I'm waiting for Mister Godot," but the surly old Filipino security guard probably wouldn't have gotten it at all, would more likely have asked me what company Godot works for. So I said, "I'm just sitting here reading." "You can't sit here," he said, "it's private property."

Backless concrete benches outside one of the tall office towers downtown, in fact just across the street from the similar tower in which I spent five years doing irrelevant "work". I've been sitting on that bench from sunset until time for the walk to the Black Hole because the bright "GMAC Mortgage" sign provides good light for reading. Oh well, I moved about eight feet away to a public bench which no doubt irked the guard but there was nothing he could do about it.

Such nonsense.

Despite my lack of fondness for downtown Honolulu, which is about as hospitable as Manhattan or Phoenix, I was getting weary of the sunset walk from the mall to Chinatown, so have been staying on the van until it gets downtown. Then I sit in the Capitol grounds, on a bench near the Vietnam Memorial. On two of the days the long-absent Roadrunner appeared and went to sleep on the grass nearby. It has been a very long time since I last saw him but he seems to still be running around at top speed when not asleep. Although there is a security guard who walks slowly around the building he ignores people on the grounds, and I suppose it is "public" rather than "private" property.

[Paragraph later deleted, because I do not wish to be associated in any way with the obnoxious book I mentioned, not even if someone searches Google and finds the Tales included way down the list of references.]

The afternoon routine was disturbed on Wednesday by rain, and that's when it is really difficult to find a place downtown to sit and read. It was raining too hard to head to the library for refuge, so I just stood in an overhang at a church until the worst of the rain ended, then went to that "private" bench until getting evicted. Fortunately, by then the rain had passed.

Lady Grey and family are back on foodstamps-provided human food in this x = 5 time and will just have to make do. At least on Sunday they'll get catfood from the Cat Lady who provided the alarming news that the head of the grounds workers on campus told them to trap any cats missing the ear notch which marks them as incapable of reproducing. Lady Grey and children may be doomed unless the Cat Lady manages to capture them first. But there's only one worker in the secluded grove and he has been there for years, is very lazy and slow. I doubt he'll make any effort, so as long as none of the other workers get ambitious and come hunting, they may be okay.

Why can't they just leave us homeless critters alone?

1134

I know, like the Steppenwolf, I bitch when things become too routine, but lately there's been a little more daily variation than I'd prefer. The continuing bus strike (the neverending bus strike?) is mostly to blame, of course, but the weather has also played a role. Although mostly very pleasant, there were rain showers in the late afternoons recently which sent me in search of another sunset reading sanctuary. I've settled on a sheltered bench in a State office building where, so far at least, no one has asked me if I am waiting for someone. On the first day there, Tanioka arrived, to my surprise, said he was once again sleeping at that building, so if they aren't bothering sleepers, I suppose they won't care much about readers.

Tanioka originally told me he was already getting federal disability benefits, no doubt to bolster his request for a loan, but he must have forgotten he'd said that because he told me he had the qualifying interview the next day. I hope he gets it, both because he'll then stop greeting me with requests for a loan and he won't have to continue his current "shopping" routine. Given his lengthy probation period, he's crazy to risk it, but when he first arrived he was on the way to a downtown store with a suggested list of items he'd been given by the ladies in the bar. Stealing to order seems very decadent to me, somehow. He stopped by again on his way from the store, a successful expedition. Even though I told him, yet again, that I couldn't afford to lend him money right now, when I saw him the next two mornings, in the mall, each time he again asked. Did I mention scrambled brains?

The Sleeptalker has been in an erratic mood in the game, going from chatty and friendly one day to utter silence the next. I wonder if it depends on whether or not his Chinatown Patron is on the premises, maybe looking over his shoulder?

I edited the previous tale because, as I wrote, I just don't want to be associated, however indirectly, with that awful book I'd written about and certainly don't want to provide any publicity for the woman who wrote it.

1134a

Flirt

Flirt (?), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Flirted; p. pr. & vb. n. Flirting.] [Cf. AS. fleard trifle, folly, fleardian to trifle.]
1. To throw with a jerk or quick effort; to fling suddenly; as, they flirt water in each other's faces; he flirted a glove, or a handkerchief.
2. To toss or throw about; to move playfully to and fro; as, to flirt a fan.
3. To jeer at; to treat with contempt; to mock. [Obs.]
I am ashamed; I am scorned; I am flirted. Beau. & Fl.

Well, that's what Webster's Dictionary in 1913 thought about the definition of the word. As Dylan sang, "the times they are a-changing." and I don't think that definition fits at all these days.

But it is one of the qualifications for a Bad Boy which I neglected to mention. They flirt, in a 21st Century manner, never mind Webster.

And so, when I encountered a new Bad Boy for the first time on Monday, Helen R's birthday, I knew instantly I had met a new one, whether I ever see him again or not. He's a flirt. We'll call him RobRoy.

1135

I have never in my long life felt so much like a mirror as I did on the day before Magic (I hope) Third Wednesday, sitting in the secluded grove listening to the Sleeptalker direct every imaginable complaint at me which he was, in fact, directing to himself.

The day before, we'd had one of those real knockdown, drag-out verbal tennis matches in the game. He finally surrendered, turned off the public channel we'd been squabbling on. One veteran player observed, "sounds like a lovers quarrel." When the Sleeptalker appeared, much to my surprise, in the grove the next day, I asked, "what are you doing here?" He said, "I've come to kick your ass and steal all your money." I told him he was a day too early, at least for the latter.

He has quarreled with his Chinatown Patron, has "left the house". "All he does is get high and jag off." (Another mirror?)

He said all kinds of dumb things about Tanioka and Angelo, then accused me of doing nothing but "talking shit" about people. He also said he is never going to play the game again. Uh-huh.

I said I wished my new boyfriend would walk by but was worried about what he might think seeing me sitting with a "fag from Waianae". (Hey, I can be a bitch, too.)

"You have a new boyfriend?"
"Yes, he's very cute and very young, too," I said.
"Have you sucked his dick?"
"No, not yet."

As I've said in the game frequently recently, using his game names, the Sleeptalker is gay.

He's also a loony ... and a sweetheart.

Of course, he jumped up on the bench and scared away the kittens who were eating the mackerel (from Thailand, no less) I'd offered, receiving a sneer from Her Ladyship. In another one of the recent unwelcome variations in routine, the EBT system (foodstamps) had gone down at the supermarket. I've been buying human fish for Lady Grey and family there each morning, but on Monday they had to make do with Vienna sausages which I could get from the smaller store downhill from campus. The little ones seemed quite happy with them. Her Ladyship was not. How do I develop an expression which clearly says "beggars cannot be choosers"?

And what on earth do I do with this silly young man from Waianae?

1136

Magic Third Wednesday was magic, but I could have used a bit more magic ... like a flying broomstick. Mad dogs and Englishmen may well go out in the mid-day sun, but so do crazy old men searching for their pension checks. What a hot, long walk it was, but at least the check was there.

The first award for my striving was Maeve Binchy's Quentins, recently issued in paperback. The young lady at the bookshop said, "I like the books better than the movies." They've made films of Binchy's books??? I just said something like "the books are almost always better than the films."

The biggest park in downtown Honolulu is called A'ala Park. Some years ago it was infamous for being the site of a huge tent community of the homeless. They cleared all those people out, shut the park for many months while they "refurbished" it (which included getting rid of almost all the benches, where even the possibly not-homeless people might have enjoyed sitting in the shade). I never go there. But after my long, long, and hot walk, I did stop there and even took the chance of drinking some beer, though that's very risky, because I imagine the park is considered part of the "neighborhood" of the Black Hole. If you get in trouble drinking in the neighborhood of that place, you're in trouble with the Black Hole.

I was too exhausted to give a damn.

The Sleeptalker came along, with two punk-looking young guys. I had the most vivid premonition (?), vision, whatever, that the Sleeptalker is going to grow up to be a dirty old man. It made me very happy, to think he will actually have a long life, and also amused me greatly. He was doing his best to do the Waianae Strut. It wasn't as good as Rocky does it, but I'll certainly not tell the Sleeptalker that. He said, "don't mess with my characters," as they walked by.

In the game, they've invited players to enter a contest to become an "Immortal". The Sleeptalker and I talked about that during our bizarre conversation on Tuesday. He declined any interest in entering the contest, as did I, but said that if he did become an Immortal, he would delete my characters. I told him I'd make all his characters "avatars" (top level, 100) so he'd have nothing else to do. He obviously remembered that part of our conversation.

A little later, I'd bought a new bag in Chinatown because the old one was looking pretty derelict. So while I was sitting in the Maunakea Marketplace transferring things from the old one to the new one, the Sleeptalker and his little buddies came along again. The Sleeptalker was still strutting. I tried not to smirk. (His boys aren't very cute, just in case you wondered.)

At our recent luncheon, I told Helen R and Mme de Crécy that I thought the University campus was unusually crowded at this beginning of the fall term. Mme said, "you always say that", and, true, it always seems that way after the relative quiet of the summer session. But I was right. The official figures have been released and there are almost five percent more enrollees this year than ever before.

And a great many of them are absolutely adorable.

1137

A reader pointed me to
this place which not only told me some of Maeve Binchy's books have been made into movies, but also provided the alarming news that she was thinking of retiring from writing. Why??? She's such a fine writer. The report was written after her splendid Scarlet Feather, but before Quentins so I hope that means she changed her mind.

Quentins made me laugh and cry. What more can a person ask from a work of fiction?

I didn't lie to the Sleeptalker. RobRoy is both very young and very cute. He was so intent on peeling an orange when I walked past him on Friday, he didn't look up and notice me. Fine, since I got to inspect him very closely and very close-up. Although he isn't at all physically similar, he does remind me of the Sleeptalker in those wonderful early days of knowing him. The bouncy, flirtatious manner which I find totally irresistable. And the curly hair is delightful.

I've always been a bit puzzled by the secluded grove and why it isn't used more often. But we do this term have another regular user, and quite a fascinating one, as well. Darkish-blonde tousled hair, nice hairy legs, too. Sits and does the crossword puzzle from the student newspaper, Ka Leo, and then reads a book. Catches me looking at him once in awhile but seems unconcerned by it.

Lady Grey was such a beautiful kitten, but I have to admit her wonderful children have surpassed her. One of them is growing larger far more quickly than the other, another puzzle. He (I suspect it's a "he") eats on his own, while the smaller one joins Mama (not that Mama is very generous about sharing, possibly the reason the little thing isn't growing as quickly?). No, I will NOT buy three cans of catfood each day.

Jonathan Cainer tells me: Your challenge this weekend, is to accept a situation for what it is, not what you wish it was. If you can only do that, all will be fine.

The story of my life, not just this weekend.

1138

And however one might sentimentalise it, this sex business was one of the most ancient, sordid connections and subjections.
D.H. Lawrence: Lady Chatterley's Lover

"Hello, you old douchebag."
"Hello, you young whore."

Despite the opening exchange of affectionate insults, the Sleeptalker was in a more mellow mood on Sunday than he has been for awhile. Tanioka hadn't told him about my new sunset spot so he hadn't expected to see me there and we had a most enjoyable chat for almost two hours before I had to leave for the Black Hole. Some of the talk was about his current situation and I do sympathize, knowing how difficult it is to have no money, but there's little practical help I can give except urge him to at least try for Federal disability and to apply for foodstamps. There's no point in saying the obvious: "get a job."

Much of the talk was, as always, about the game, his "never play again" vow already fallen by the wayside. And since he was so keen on news of what had been happening, it wasn't much of a surprise to see him appear in the game the next morning. When I said it was time for a beer, he asked where I was going, said he was playing at Sinclair Library. So I took him to lunch at Manoa Garden. Both there and later at a store in Chinatown he was asked to show his ID. Bizarre a twenty-eight-year-old man has to prove he's 21, but there's no doubt he does look much younger than his age.

On the City Van from campus to Chinatown, the driver had the radio tuned to an "oldies" station. The Sleeptalker and I were the only ones who laughed when it started to play the Four Tops. Sugar pie, honey bunch .... can't help myself, love you and nobody else.

And so into the Last Follies of Summer 2003.

[You do realize, I hope, that I didn't lightly choose this term "Follies" for these events, never mind the annual ice-skating extravaganzas in years gone by.]

I don't remember exactly how the idea originated. We had talked about smoking the pipe together and I made it clear I wasn't interested in sharing with him if he was just going to smoke and then disappear for the rest of the night. But however the notion came into my mind, I suggested a little scenario as part of sharing a pipe later and he agreed. I think I'll discreetly omit the details but it was actually quite innocent. Well, relatively so anyway, and he played his role so perfectly I treated him to another pipe as a reward. Even though he did stay around for several hours, he was constantly writing things, on a newspaper, on cards, even on the walls. When he first asked for a card to write on, I gave him one I'd already begun for what looks like being the only work of 2003. After he added some stuff to that, he asked for another card, one that he could keep. I gave it to him, of course, and after filling it with words, he burned it! Arches to the flames. It smoked up the place so much we had to relocate to the other stairwell.

Eventually he went further upstairs in the Garage. Tanioka arrived and moved downstairs from where I was. Later I offered to share a pipe with him if he went to get the filling but he declined, said he needed his "privacy". [!] I can only assume he must have started getting his Crazy Money. So I left him alone and returned to the opposite stairwell, as eventually did the Sleeptalker. Angelo arrived in an almost hysterical condition, wanted to know if the PL had been there looking for him. I said I hadn't seen her and we'd been there all evening. He gave me a generous hit from his pipe and asked if I'd go half on another one. I agreed and he went shopping.

Shortly after Angelo returned, Rocky arrived. After a few minutes clowning around, he also went somewhere further upstairs. I shall again be discreet and not detail the request Angelo then made (or was it an offer?), but of course, I obliged. I suggested some way through it, though, that he might prefer to smoke another pipe before we took the process to completion. So I gave him twenty dollars, he said, "back in fifteen minutes", and wasn't seen again. My boy Angelo.

Maybe he thought he'd already earned the twenty, but since he was the one who asked, not me, I cannot agree. Obviously, the only way to deal with him is to make him front the twenty, return with the goods, and then give him money. Fat chance.

I should, of course, have ended the Follies when the Sleeptalker retired and I was utterly stupid to ignore a blatant oracle telling me so ... when I dropped the pipe and it shattered.

Shattered, shattered ... yes, that Stones song must refer to methamphetamine.

1139

The Equinox arrived on the hot, steamy wings of Kona winds. Never welcome weather, it is most especially unwelcome in a time of batu-hangover. I always sweat profusely when smoking the stuff and continue to do so the next day. With the added effect of Kona humidity, I was constantly dripping.

I certainly didn't feel like doing it, but I didn't feel like doing much of anything anyway, so went off to the laundromat after enjoying the chill air of Hamilton Library while a torrential downpour flooded the campus for about half an hour, making it even more steamy afterwards. Discovering that my lazy habit of buying new clothes instead of more frequently doing laundry had reached the point where it might require more than one washer, I discarded two tee shirts and last winter's long pants. By the time I finished the chores, the tee shirt I was wearing was totally soaked in sweat so it went into the trash as well.

Back in the secluded grove, some woman was sitting on my bench. What nerve. So Lady Grey and family and I all had to wait for her to leave before they could have their lunch and I could slowly sip beer and continue the saga of Lady Chatterley. Then back to the so-welcome cool Hamilton air until mid-afternoon. The final vans depart UH at 4:30 but I try to leave by four to avoid the last-minute rush.

I'd been at the Sunset Bench for about half an hour when Rocky strutted by, not stopping. Then the Sleeptalker arrived. "I've been sweating all day," he complained.

I thanked him for the fine party and he agreed it was fun but was bothered by his compulsive writing, apologized for "spoiling" my card. I told him he couldn't "spoil" one of the cards. I can, but he can't.

I'd bought two pieces of chicken and mashed potatoes since I'd had nothing to eat all day, but discovered I didn't want the second piece so offered it to him and shared the beer I was drinking. He was fascinated by his reflection in the window across from the bench, reminding me of his other ice-obsession, mirrors (none in the garage, of course). "My hair is still brown," he said. Yes, I agreed, very dark brown. He was wondering if he'd go gray. His father has, so I told him it was likely but there's not a single gray hair to be seen yet. By his age I already had a few strands in the sideburns.

He said he wished I didn't have to go to the Black Hole, something he'd said on Sunday, too. I guess in this time between sugar daddies, he'd welcome me as more constant company. He'll have to come up with somewhere for us to sleep, though, and he was vague about where he has been sleeping although he said he never sleeps in the Garage. Can't blame him for that, it's so hot in that place ... and so dirty (main reason for the laundromat trip).

It wasn't much cooler in the Black Hole, either, especially when they turned off the overheard fans for awhile. The police have renewed their efforts to clear the parks. I noticed on Sunday that all those packrat encampments at the beach park are gone, and early one morning I saw a police car cruising through the area. Maybe partly because of that, but also because it's the final week of the month, the Black Hole is at capacity. One night they said at ten, "if you don't have a mat, you'll have to depart the building," so they are evidently enforcing the maximum limit by an exact count of mats. Bring on the welfare payments.

A reader wrote: Sorcery recipe number 17 : When you want to get rid of something which is on your mind, write it and burn the sheet of paper. Preferably, disperse the ashes in a running stream, but in a garage, even in Honolulu, I suppose you do not have that facility.

Arches seems perfect for the purpose, as things must be solemn. I hope it worked on the Sleeptalker.


I shall pass that on him, perhaps it will at least alleviate his annoyance with his attack of compulsive writing.

1140

RobRoy walked through the secluded grove with a young lady but nevertheless saluted me with a wave and I called out a greeting to him, using his name which he probably hadn't expected me to remember. Silly boy, if so.

It looks like the bus strike will finally end this weekend. And it will now cost me forty dollars a month for a bus pass, compared to twenty-seven when this Gregorian year began. I somehow doubt the annual "Cost of Living Adjustment" to SocSec will agree with such a jump.

My visitor at the Sunset Bench on Wednesday was Tanioka. No, he hasn't yet received his Crazy Money but is supporting what is now again a daily habit with illicit activity, as with Angelo. When I last talked with the Sleeptalker he said, "I'll steal for food but I won't steal for drugs." I hope he stays with that position.

Tanioka noticed what I was reading and begged me to give it to him, first offered a hit on his pipe in exchange and then upped the ante to two hits. I assured him that, despite its reputation, Lady Chatterley's Lover is NOT a "jag-off" book. [For readers who may have forgotten, because I'm sure I have explained it before, "jag-off" is the local term for masturbation.] Well, at least it never has been such a book for me. Still isn't.

I agree with Lawrence Durrell in his preface to this (of course, unexpurgated) edition that Chatterley is not one of D.H. Lawrence's best books, and I have always been, still am, a fan of Lawrence. But it is a fine novel, indeed, and even now a rather shocking one. Oh, not at all because he wrote fuck and shit and cunt. And his descriptions of sexual intercourse are tame stuff compared to any of the Throbbing Erection School epics which you can buy at any supermarket or drugstore selection of current best-sellers. No, Lawrence's book is shocking because of its assault on conventional morals and the stilted society of England (and, by extension, the United States), and its pessimism about the future of mankind.

Okay, there are, I admit, some ... stirring moments. "Even when he's soft and little I feel my heart simply tied to him. And how lovely your hair is here! quite, quite different!" Oh, that soft, silky hair .... of you-know-who.

But hardly any stimulation to bring out the lubricant. Tanioka begged for that, too. Damn. Oh well, I gave him my little tube of Vaseline which was almost empty after the Follies when the Sleeptalker, Tanioka and I all resorted to it.

What a piece of work is man.

1141

The casually-cut, tousled, just-got-out-of-bed hairstyle seems to be increasingly fashionable on campus. It is one I approve of, find far more attractive than the severely-cut, arranged, gelled look which still dominates with most young men of Asian descent. No, I like the other best, just want them to go back to bed ... and take me with them. Or at least let me run my hand through their tousled hair.

I thought the new, daily visitor to the secluded grove was one of the best of this new style until I went to Paradise Palms (the early morning campus cafe) to eat a bowl of breakfast cereal on Friday and encountered a blonde, blue-eyed lad with that tousled look. As Jarvin Parks would have said, "I fell on my side."

This really is a most excellent year for the campus of the University of Hawaii at Manoa. At least, if we're talking about beautiful young men.

A reader said about 1140: I feel compelled to point out that sometimes you tell me more than I need to know. But wait a minute! I was so discreet in 1138, especially considering I was reading Lady Chatterley's Lover at the time. That's okay, long ago when the Sleeptalker and I were visiting Kory K and were speaking too specifically about certain aspects of our friendship, Kory protested, "too much information! too much information!"

I finished Chatterley at lunchtime on Thursday, ordinarily would have left it somewhere on campus for another reader to find. But since Tanioka had so wanted it, I kept it with me in case he stopped by that evening. He did walk past, on the sidewalk behind the bench. I called his name, asked "do you want this book?" He kept on walking. Maybe he thought it was just another one of his "voices". Oh well, I left the book on the bench.

No sign of the Sleeptalker, in or out of the game and, as always, the game isn't nearly as interesting without him. That's true of life in general, of course, but at least the tradewinds have returned and it seems fairly certain the buses will be running again on Monday.

1142

The bus strike has at last ended, after one final weekend of long walks. Well, on Sunday anyway. I decided to wait downtown on Saturday morning until the first schoolbus left for the University, but on Sunday I once again made the long trek from Chinatown to the mall and back again. Now that life, so far as transport is concerned, has returned to "normal", do I go back to my prior habits (and habitats) or do I continue the strike-inspired routine?

It's a bit of a puzzle, this debate between "routine" and "different".

Routine can become boring, different can be threatening. A puzzle.

I think I do prefer the Sunset Bench to the beach park. Fewer pests asking for money, cigarettes or beer, and more chance of seeing non-pests, even if they often ask for the same things. I realized when thinking about my most recent chat with the Sleeptalker that I probably shouldn't complain to him about the beach park pests because he is too likely to apply the complaints to himself.

Believe me, my only regrets about the Sleeptalker and his requests come from when I haven't the ability to satisfy them.

Much as I love the man and usually enjoy his company, I have to admit the Sleeptalker's hunger for the glass pipe does get to be depressing. He isn't as constantly obsessed as Angelo and Tanioka have become, but it is worryingly possible he may eventually fall into the trap as deeply as they have. I think it's more seeking an alleviation of boredom for him than a real love of or craving for the drug itself and I, of course, sympathize with that. But I also realize that to become as regular a user as Angelo would invalidate the drug as an antidote to boredom (it has been very clear in recent times sharing a pipe with Angelo that he is prone to attacks of boredom when smoking and that smoking even more does nothing to ease the attacks). Boredom seems to be the main enemy for us all.

And it loomed over me all through the last weekend of September 2003. The broadcast of "Aida" on Saturday afternoon left me wondering if the participants just wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible so they could go off and do whatever it is people do in Chicago on a Saturday afternoon. I turned it off and put the radio back in my bag. Prairie Home Companion, at last, stopped their season of repeat broadcasts and did a new one. It was, to put it kindly, not very good. I don't understand why they were so nasty to Simon and Garfunkel. I mean, really, we have a "concert" coming up here, even in the provinces, with Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and Chuck Berry (lawdy, I wish I could be there). So why nag at S&G for being old folks doing a concert tour? Garison Keilor ain't exactly a young chicken himself.

Tacky.

There was supposed to be an hour with Fleming on the radio Sunday afternoon, but they changed the schedule and offered an hour of guitar music. I turned it off and went back to John Sandford. Some time ago, Tanioka told me that the YWCA had a selection of free books, a "book swap" collection. One day recently I was afraid I'd be too late to get to the State Library before it closed, so I stopped in at the YW and found a couple of books I wanted to read. Now it's a regular stop, fast turnover, and I keep things in my bag to leave there in exchange. The Sandford book, Mortal Prey, is maybe his most recent Prey epic (2002 anyway), the first one of these things I've read where I really felt saddened by the killer being killed. No matter, Sandford's tough hero-detective, Lucas Davenport, was a bit saddened, too.

So my usual routine was much upset by the bus strike, but I still had constant encounters with the main players in this silly drama of my life. And Sunday was no exception for bizarre "coincidences". The Sleeptalker came along while I was sitting on the Sunset Bench. We finished the beer I was drinking and he wanted more. He also wanted to sell me his body for pipe filling. That's a very difficult offer to reject. Pondering it, I did agree to buy him a beer so we walked over to Chinatown and in the shop: Angelo and the PL! Did I mention something about a "small town"? The Sleeptalker, of course, knew his chances for a puff on the pipe were better with Angelo than with me, so I got the message and split off, hid in an alcove until they'd gone on their way. I went back to the Sunset Bench, drank my beer, or most of it, and started on my way to the Black Hole.

"Albert!" said a voice.

Okinawa.

And on Monday, at last able to walk downhill for a beer and catfood, then take a bus back up to campus, on the bus were Angelo and the PL. Of course, he asked me to loan him money.

1143

S tells you 'i dont like being around much people, specially the ones that HAVE a job'
S tells you 'i hate the park more because everyones trying to get in shape and i dont'
S tells you 'where are you going after or later?'
You tell S 'just told you, I am still trying to decide what to do'
S tells you 'what time is it?'
You tell S 'still early, only one o'clock'
You tell S 'is why I was thinking of a grilled cheese sandwich :)'
S tells you 'a grilled cheese sandwich sounds good'
You tell S 'they've never had grilled cheese sandwiches at the cafe by Hamilton before'
S tells you 'they never did?'
You tell S 'nope ... a shame they didn't make it at the Garden so you could have beer as well :)'

Verbatim conversation with the Sleeptalker in the game on Tuesday. He has evidently reconciled with his Chinatown Patron since he was playing for hours. After I returned from lunch, he was still there. He said he felt like he was in prison, exactly echoing what he said when he was staying with the Country Patron. I pointed out that with the free buses this week he was able to go anywhere on the island (including, of course, the University where he could still have played the game without being "in prison", but I suppose that would be "being around much people").

He said he didn't want to hang out with Angelo anymore, warned me "there's love there but he's really just after your money." Hardly news to me, although "there's love there" was rather touching. The Sleeptalker still hasn't seen Okinawa and I haven't seen him since that brief encounter earlier in the week. Okinawa has gotten amazingly fat. They obviously provide plenty of fattening food at the state prison.

I was at least partly cheered out of my slight depression still lingering from that last meeting with the Sleeptalker by his chat in the game, cheered too when I got to the secluded grove and saw Lady Grey and her youngsters. The Cat Lady had tried to trap Lady Grey on Sunday evening, caught one of the kittens instead, the smaller one. She was worried the kitten might be too young for neutering, so it was a relief to see the notch in its ear on Tuesday. One down, two to go. I think it's going to be quite a task capturing Lady Grey, though.

So now I have at least one kitten to feed for the rest of my life if no dire accident befalls it. I guess it's about time to give it a name.

1144

"You have to be careful. You can't say you think they have wrinkles." Angelo, the diplomatic thief. He and the PL came to the Sunset Bench on Saturday. Angelo showed me a small box. It had a tiny jar of "anti-wrinkle cream" inside it, with a price tag of fifty-five dollars. "Some women are stupid," I said, but even before that suggested the Ladies at the Bar were the perfect target for selling the overpriced item. (Some shops are stupid, too, if they put so small an item with such a high price out where people can put it into their pockets.)

"We have a room," said Angelo (compliments of, no doubt, the PL's welfare money), "you want to stay with us?"

"You don't want an old man around," I said, "kick back and enjoy it." I think he actually did want me to join them, add some variety to their routine, but of course he even more wanted to get his paws on one of the twenties still in my pocket.

They interrupted Prairie Home Companion. The second show of the current season was so wonderful it fully compensated for the first one's lack of charm. As I said not long ago about a book, I laughed, I cried, what more can one ask from entertainment in any form.

Angelo first asked about the Sleeptalker, had I seen him? I said no, but I had talked to him on the computer, thought he was probably at his Chinatown friend's place. "The gay one?" "Does he have any other kind?"

Then he asked about Okinawa and we all talked about how fat Okinawa has become. "Nothing to do there but eat and sleep," said Angelo.

The Sleeptalker was absent from the game for several days but did make a brief appearance on Saturday, didn't say much. I scolded him for not having taken advantage of the free buses, not even making the trip to campus to have lunch. No response. Maybe I should have issued a specific invitation.

Welfare time, the Black Hole's population is down by, I'd guess, at least a quarter. And every day of the free bus, half a dozen or more men were waiting for the bus in the morning. On Saturday, the first day when either the two-dollar fare or a pass became necessary, I was all alone waiting for the bus.

Finance, finance. Each October the government re-calculates the amount of foodstamps for the next year based upon some arcane, esoteric formulae. Usually it has gone up a dollar or two. This year it went down by two dollars! They obviously didn't include the cost of public transport in Honolulu in their calculations.

1145

Count your blessings, little though they may be in some instances. A story in Monday's newspaper,
Rise in homeless women pushes shelter to the limit, gave me a shudder. If I had to go to the Black Hole for the dinner hour and wait for a drawing of numbers to see if I could sleep there that night, I'd definitely go back to relying on alternative sleeping options. The next day's paper had a much happier homeless story.

Blessing or not, though, I must admit I have been greatly tempted several nights recently to get up and leave the Black Hole, take my chances outside. In an odd way, the smaller population makes for rowdier conditions (not helped by the choice of entertainment, as is frequently the case).

Life outside the Black Hole has been more pleasant (as is also frequently the case). We have a new friend in the secluded grove. His name is Veron, I decided immediately. He is mostly white but has a black tail and black ears, one of which happily has the significant notch. He also has a rather odd splotch of black on his back, and a most amusing little black "cap" between his black ears and down to where his eyebrows would be if cats had eyebrows. One side of the cap droops down over his right eye, making me think of Veronica Lake, and of Felix and his feline family in the 70's.

He made his debut appearance on Sunday, not quite as shy of human beings as Lady Grey and family, but still wary enough to keep a distance of at least three feet. He does seem to listen when being spoken to. On Monday, clever Veron discovered where the food is being placed. For the first time since the bus strike, I went to a supermarket I hadn't visited during the transport difficulties. Thinking Lady Grey and children would appreciate a little variety in their luncheon choice, I bought something called "Kitty Stew" by the Whiskas company. Lady Grey has enjoyed it in the past, don't recall if it has been offered to the children or not. It wasn't a success, and they left about half of the offering.

Once Veron discovered it and started munching, though, Lady Grey promptly returned and went to work on the second batch of leftovers.

Good for Veron, teach these pampered, spoiled homeless friends of mine a lesson.

Speaking of new friends, I was walking from the secluded grove back to Hamilton on Monday when someone touched my arm and cheerfully asked, "how'ya doing?" RobRoy. I greeted him by name which caused him to confess he'd forgotten mine. I teased, made him ask three times before I finally told him, first diverting the question by asking where he was going. To Hamilton, to return a book on "Hawaiian medicine". He'd acquired an "itchy rash" on one arm, was seeking a remedy. I suggested that costly ointment from a non-Hawaiian drugstore, Lotrimin, which has always worked for me on any kind of rash. Too expensive. Then steal it, I said, you look so innocent they'd never suspect it.

What was it a reader said recently about my connection with a certain Dickens character?

My second diversion was to ask if he was then headed to a class, but no, he has arranged his schedule so he has all his classes in the morning this term. He said his friends thought he was crazy, better to have classes in the afternoon so you could party late the night before and still get to them. I agreed with his philosophy: best to get them over with in the morning and have the rest of the day for yourself.

Both Veron and RobRoy are first class cuties.

1146

RETROSPECTIVE: THE SIXTH YEAR

The Sleeptalker talks funny. That was the first thing I noticed. The Waianae influence, leaning more toward pidgin. Appropriate that the second Tale of the Sixth Year would mention the Sleeptalker, because he was, once again, despite having been declared years ago by Mme de Crécy a plat du jour, very much in evidence throughout the year. And Gott sei dank for that.

all hell just broke lose in my family !
now im back out on the streets again !
but im happy to be gone !

... said the Sleeptalker.

And now we enter the period of two-week-long poverty, yet again a chance to learn the lesson that it's crazy to blow a lot of money on a few parties, especially that blown up in smoke, and then suffer the deprivation of almost-empty pockets for weeks. I wonder if I'll eventually get the message?
Didn't happen in the Sixth Year.

Subject: ur my only e-mail buddy
fag


The big news. "Angelo is pregnant." An odd way of putting it. I expressed my doubts about the feasibility of such a thing, but of course, Tanioka meant the PL is pregnant. I guess she's the PPL now. Evidently she wants the baby and plans to have it, but marriage is not being considered. Poor child.
The PL, as readers know, had an abortion, then later tried to kill herself during this Sixth Year. What can I do?

It's worrying that Angelo seems thoroughly locked into daily use of that confounded glass pipe. He's either going to get busted for all the stealing to fill the thing or go off the tracks mentally from such constant use. Abuse. But not much to be done about it.
Like I said, what can I do?

And the first of those, certainly, is: DO I GO BACK TO INDIA ONE MORE TIME?
This is a question which has been hovering over me for quite some time now, I'm almost used to it. But I still haven't seen a firm answer.

A question that continues into the Seventh Year.

Changed my mind about the little kitten's name. Lady Grey.
Who blessed the Sixth Year with two of the most adorable kittens I've seen in my long life.

Horror of horrors, I ended up next to the Airport Couple, with the Fatman beside me. Oh well, at least he doesn't snore, and if I am careful not to open my eyes when looking in his shirtless direction, it's not so awful.
First the Fatman disappeared, then the Younger Half. Two of the more notable vanishers during the Sixth Year, a category which also includes Wobbly from the beach park and Gramps the Thrasher from the Black Hole. I cannot say I regret their absence.

We had agreed to share the cost of getting a hotel room in Waikiki for one night and by the time we got into that room I was more than happy to be there, away from the nasty weather and with no further chores to accomplish. It was an odd feeling to be there with just Tanioka as company and even though I later told the Sleeptalker he should have been along it would no doubt have been a much different experience and probably less enjoyable had any of the others been there.
That definitely rates as one of the most memorable nights of the Sixth Year.

"What are you going to do today," he asked me in the morning. "Go back to living my ordinary, boring life," I said.

And there's no question that my usual routine is pretty dull. Up in the morning at about five, take the bus to the mall for coffee (already reading on the bus). Take the bus to campus and spend an hour or two online. Get beer and read until the beer is gone. Back on the bus to the mall and, when pockets are reaching empty, a tobacco hunt before heading to the Sunset Table with another beer, sometimes adding one more before getting the bus again to the Black Hole. Repeat, repeat, repeat ... Little wonder the Follies are such a temptation.
The Duchess has commandeered the Sunset Table in recent weeks, but otherwise the basic facts remain.

And thinking, thinking, even if, as the Jefferson Airplane said, "thinking ain't doing me no good".
And that, of course, hasn't changed not only in this Sixth Year but in all which preceded it.

1146a

Appropriate that the second Tale of the Sixth Year would mention the Sleeptalker ... And appropriate, too, that the final evening of the Sixth Year included some time with him at the Sunset Bench.

He looked awful. He said he'd been going at the pipe too heavily, but it wasn't necessary for him to say it. As I wrote not long ago in talking about maintaining appearances, the Sleeptalker sometimes walks closer to the edge than the others and he certainly was right on the edge Tuesday evening, dirty, unshaven, even with a noticeable unwashed aroma. I told him he should at least take a break from the pipe long enough to get himself cleaned up. If he doesn't want to walk to the beach park, he could always go to the Black Hole or River of Life to shower, and he was clearly unhappy about his condition.

He was thinking of going home to mama, although he said he hadn't been in contact with her at all since he's been in town, hasn't even telephoned. I wasn't too sure mama would appreciate him suddenly showing up in late evening looking so wrecked, but didn't say so. He was also worried his brother might be there since his release from prison is coming up if it hasn't already happened. "I don't like him," he said, the first time he's ever said anything negative about his brother.

He wanted to borrow money but I declined. Cash is in short supply but more importantly, I don't want to be in a situation with him where he owes me money. Then he offered to sell me his pipe. I agreed, mainly to get it away from him, but he looked at it, decided it had too much "frost" to part with. (Smoking leaves a residue on the glass which can be scraped, providing another hit or two.)

And he complained about how boring life is with no money. I went so far as to mention that dirty word "job". He not only had the pipe, had obviously been smoking it earlier, but he also had cigarettes, so I assume he is using the Angelo method of "earning" money. Even if I'd had cash to spare, it wouldn't have made any sense to give him some because I know it would have gone straight into that wretched pipe. So when it came time to depart for the Black Hole, I just patted him on the shoulder, said "take care of yourself" and went on my way. This kind of encounter is such a downer.

I wonder if there is any hope that his situation, and that of all the Bad Boys, will improve in the Seventh Year?

1146b

Tanioka has almost always been generous but I was indeed touched by Angelo's generosity during the evening and on until the early hours of the next morning.
I do need to remember these moments, however rare they may be.

I went to the State Library, grabbed three books and went to the beach park with my first bottle of a new malt liquor called "Steel Reserve". Brewed in Texas, another one of these "high gravity" brews which is supposedly 8.1, topping Olde English High Gravity slightly. Not bad, not bad.
Another new element in my life which entered in the Sixth Year and has become the standard.

A reader puzzled over why the x equals time is so difficult. I think it's because that time combines so many things I dislike having in my mind or in my life. Waiting. Empty pockets. Coming perilously close to regretting, scolding myself for having been so dumb. It's all very tedious and made even more irksome by knowing it doesn't really matter.
Hard sayings, my friends, but very true.

Tanioka is in jail, will appear in court on Thursday for arraignment and plea.
And consequently vanished from too much of the Sixth Year. Then he came out on a purity drive from which he all too soon detoured, alas.

"I'm sorry about the other night," said Angelo.
"You should be."
"I am, really."

Sigh.

Nonsense. Any thinking person is likely to investigate all the "sacred books" whether a believer or not.
And the Talmud has certainly been translated into English.

One of the more bizarre episodes on "Usenet" in the Sixth Year.

I went to Campus Center to watch the Ultimatum Speech on the big television screen there. About fifty people were gathered. At the end of the speech, two of them applauded. On my way there I found a keychain, a little American flag made of beads. I clipped it onto my bag. After the speech, I removed it.
[from the why-I-detest-George-Bush2 file]

I think I'll refrain from commenting on world events, except to light a candle for the "ordinary" people of Iraq.
[same file]

The Sleeptalker earned his twenty in what was one of the sweetest, most tender times I've spent with him.
Another of the most memorable nights of the Sixth Year.

What is love?
Is it stuck in the tree somewhere?
Or is it buried underground or under the grass?

wrote the Sleeptalker

Without the Sleeptalker, that game is really not as interesting.
Without the Sleeptalker, life is not as interesting.

I think I said that more than once. How tiresome of me, to be repetitive.

Angelo is one of the sweetest young men I've ever had the privilege and honor to meet and when he's in top "sweet form", he's just unbeatable. And he was. Never before has the piper played so well. We made a rather astonishing discovery. There's a small office building not far from The Garage. The parking lot is chained-off, so no danger of someone unexpectedly pulling into it. There's a dark outside area safe for lighting up the pipe and at the end of it was a door. Angelo opened it. A shower room! Quite spacious shower, too, with a drying space. We took turns having lovely hot showers (although watching him have his was much lovelier than the shower itself). It was a delight to have a puff on the glass pipe while immersed in flowing hot water. In the early hours of the morning, he said "I love you as a friend." Then he asked, "did you hear what I said?" and I repeated it to him.
Yes, I do need to remember these times.

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the tales