Monthly Archives: September 2008

It will be hours before daybreak when I catch the LRT to the airport tomorrow. My friend Marc offered me a free flight he’d banked for a visit; I picked the weekend when my housemates would be out of town.

The offer came with a request for some stained glass—and I outdid myself to comply, if I may say so. This 9″ x 5″ rendering of the flag of the District of Columbia marks a step up in craftsmanship for me. I used thinner strips of copper around the stars so the small pieces would show clearly and paid more attention than usual to the patterns in the glass. I believe Marc will approve.

It’s been 24 months since Johanna showed up at Fairview Riverside Hospital and came to reside on 44th Avenue. Her second birthday proves the long-debated Johannacentric Theory—we all revolve around her, especially today.

Jo’s day of decadence begins with waffles, yogurt and a warm-up pile of gifts.

Sporting new duds and a new digital camera (Salvation Army, $5; subjects appear as vaguely humanoid smudges), we hang out on a dock in Wirth Park while Sarah/Mom runs a 5K.

We bump into our neighbor friend Eliza (and mom, Betsy) rooting for her dad, who was doing the half marathon.

Nassif #353 finishes in respectable time, a few minutes behind Meghan, her friend, piano teacher and running mentor. Johanna applauds in random bursts.

So much action and it’s not even 11. On to meet the Adelmans at Como Park for a whirl on a restored 1914 carousel. Jo and Lucy think it looks fun from a distance.

This is taken before Johanna realizes how fast the thing goes. Subsequent pics show blurred terror.

The Twins give Jo a birthday tutu (they turned 2 in August) and frolicking commences.

Though there’s little wind, none of us can light the big #2. But no matter: Sarah’s cake is bombastic, with icing infused with raspberries from our garden.

Aunt Allie gives Jo two of our favorite “Where…” stories: “Where the Wild Things Are” and “Where the Sidewalk Ends.”

We manage to cram in one more event: The Mediocritones at Church of the Annunciation, featuring Great Uncle Dan on bass and vox. Johanna passes her birthday’s final hours bouncing to the Stones, Bowie and CCR.

Stained-glass birthday numerals #s 1 & 2.

R.I.P., David Foster Wallace. I carried his mighty softcover, larger than some of my textbooks, around campus for a month, slogging through its 1000+-page bulk whenever I had a spare moment.

I think back to where I first caught the wave: a party in 1996 with art history and library students. A guy upstairs was ranting about a book. I’d never seen anyone so gleeful and insistent about a novel before (though I’d become as zealous within a week or two). This kind of thing only happened for me with music. I’d stand in line for the midnight release of Wu-Tang Forever or In Utero, but I was happy to subsist on writers long-dead. I picked up “Infinite Jest” the next day at Elliott Bay Books, swept up in my first literary cultural moment. A book where burglars take pictures of themselves with their victims’ toothbrushes inserted in their rectums, then mail them weeks later to the defiled homeowners A book where a man kills himself by microwaving his head—and each member of his unwitting family thinks “something smells delicious.”

This post does a better job of explaining how crucial DFW’s work felt than I could.

The companies I work for seldom surprise me. So when I heard my client, a certain big-box retailer serving the rural-agricultural communities of Minnesota and Wisconsin, had commissioned its own three-minute song (though no one seems to know who, when or why), I perked up. Then I listened to it.

Not many women. Not many children. Mostly men. Reeee-al men. A million tires and shiny screws. Extension cords in orange and blue. Fish and tackle. Aluminum mats. Guns and knives. Cool hunting caps. Lots of plumbing. Lots of lumber. A million tools. It’s all a wonder.

Hear it for yourself:

“We Love It”—rock-n-roll version

“We Love It”—country version

Is it just me, or am I hearing echoes of Black Flag’s “TV Party” in the rock version?

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Black Flag::TV Party
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I tried my hand at role playing in junior high. I phased it out in favor of more acceptable forms of experimentation once high school kicked in, avoiding most of the social opprobrium that is the lot of fantasy gamers, math geeks, drama kids, homosexuals, and the other misfits. But a fear of ridicule stuck with me; there are still pleasures in life that I can’t separate from shame.

Tonight, Listening Lounge on KFAI aired two stories: the first about Doug Nadeau, an elite Boston attorney and respected family man who gradually adopts a female identity after his inhibitions are eliminated by brain surgery for parkinson’s disease, his transformation recounted lovingly by his widow; the second takes us into the marker-decorated bedroom of a 25-year-old Dungeons & Dragons enthusiast to hear him describe the immense solace he finds in role playing games, the flipside of painful feelings of disconnection.

Following your joy can be tough.

So much easier to laugh at the wierdos.

Life is agreeable on Lone Lake (evident here in the satellite view, though wierdly not on the map), providing the perfect 48-hour escape for our Labor Dayz. I could go on about the superb weather, the pristine setting, the congenial disposition of our hosts—three and a half generations of them. But I couldn’t prattle long without talking about the hoboes.

For no real reason, hoboes became the weekend’s guests of honor. It began with our recollection of the song “Hobo,” which we’d heard in a version by Linda Ronstadt, though she apparently had a much bigger hit with this hobo song. And that’s the thing: you don’t have to look far to find a whole universe of hobo history, music and cultural representation out there to laugh about. Ours was limited to jokes about the lake’s native Sea Hoboes and their nemeses the Land Pirates. But as soon as we’d drop the topic, they’d pop up again: on the radio, on the grocery bag

For Chrissakes, there are hoboes swarming around McCain’s VP pick.

Listen: 700 hobo names by John Hodgeman.