Wednesday, October 31, 2007

it's the eve of a new month, november, and i'm not going for naBLOpoMO, or naNOwriMO either- that is, i'm not going to commit to write in a blog every day, or write a novel in the month. though i would like to write a novel. came to the stunning realization recently, when running into two separate friends, in two separate incidents- both friends for over ten years, both people who love to talk, like me, both people i hadn't seen in five or six- that i don't even have time to talk to old could i write a novel? yet i've got an idea. i'm stewing on is going to happen. just not in thousand-word, publicized november-spurts.

was driving batman around today; took him trick-or-treating in the main neighborhood of west-side-carbondale (glenview, for those who know the town) and was surprised to see a street-carnival type atmosphere, people all over the place. trick-or-treating is not dead, though it was a little slower in our neighborhood, where there were some dark houses. houses get completely dark if they don't want a constant stream of kids coming by- the rest of us light a punkin, lay in supplies of candy, and take on all comers. easy for me to say- i've got enough kids, i usually do ok one way or the other. matter of fact, we still have candy around from last year, or at least from christmas, and it all kind of runs together after a while. batman scored big, but his sidekick, the lion, age 2, didn't do so well; he had gone down to the strip mall over the weekend, participated in a candy-giveaway, and in a pet store, with chirping birds all around, a dressed up woman was giving him candy from a bowl. it was quite a scene; he didn't know quite how to take all the costumes, including one of a young alien lad who walked into the store with him. well, anyway, a large and quite well-made gorilla jumped out from behind the birds, and stole all the candy from the woman! the poor lion was traumatized, and refused to trick-or-treat all weekend. his reasoning was, if he got a bucket of candy, a gorilla would come around and take it. this was quite upsetting. even the gorilla knew that he'd crossed the line. but alas, it was too late.

so, by next year, he'll be totally in the groove, it's not that complicated. it's all about getting out there, meeting the neighbors, people i see sometimes but barely talk to, and life is too busy, but i would like my kids to know there are people out there, besides the ones in my immediate circle. it's good to bump up against a few random ones once in a while, a cinderella, a flash, or maybe a joker, or maybe their parents. i feel like i hardly live here, i so rarely go talk to the neighbors, but, the least i can do is welcome a few visitors once in a while. it's a pretty place, wide green lawns, trees changing colors, a gentle breeze across the soccer fields as i drive toward glenview- the trick-or-treat street party. but a blowing leaf jumped up at me, while i was driving- the sun behind me maybe caught on it and it seemed like it was something jumping out at me. just a leaf, crisp and weightless, like a spirit, i guess. from then on, i kind of stuck with the two-yr.-old- didn't even look at some of the costumes. when you're trying to make sense of a world, you don't need this stuff, i guess...

but then, from an earlier post, i'm getting an education about guy fawkes (faux), and bonfire night, november fifth, and the custom of burning effigies, sometimes of the pope, but with no ill will intended, of course. from a site full of guy fawkes verse, here's one that caught my eye:

St Catherines School
(to the tune of Clementine)
Build a bonfire, build a bonfire.
Put the teacher on the top.
Put the prefect in the middle
And we'll burn the bloomin' lot.
-Mark Thompson, ten, St. Catherine's School, Lore and Language, vol.4 #2, July 1985, "Rhymes and Songs for Halloween and Bonfire Night". Ervin Beck, p.13.

but what do i know? they sing all kinds of stuff, i guess, or used to anyway. i may be just picking up on general jumpiness of this small hard-partyin college town, but getting thrown in there with the pope, the prefect, & guy fawkes is not apparently something to aspire to. my problem, really, is that for halloween itself, i've got no costume. never do, never did. i have very few truly repressed parts of my personality- there are either parts like hillbilly or hobo, that are not repressed at all- and others, like soldier or vampire, that just aren't even a remote part of me- there's no repressed me dying to get out, whatsoever. told everyone at work that i was dressing up as a normal person- that i did a bad job, as usual, but at least i was still fooling everyone, as far as i could tell. the crisis comes to a head this weekend when i actually have a party to go to.

maybe i'll be the pope. or the guy. or maybe, the bonfire. don't know, i'm kind of at a loss.

have a good holiday safe- but park diagonal.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

it's late october in carbondale, a town that has a long, violent and ongoing relationship with the halloween holiday season. years ago halloween was a large drinking festival, all through the seventies and eighties; in the nineties it turned violent; in this decade the town and university worked together to clamp down on it until finally this year the students moved their celebration up to the 20th. though that celebration was without incident, nevertheless it seems like an edgy time, anything could happen. the weather is cold and rainy after a dry spell that was so bad that leaves withered, turned early and blew away. people have been stealing halloween decorations and smashing pumpkins at an alarming rate- of course, maybe it bothers people that christmas decorations have already come out at some stores, winter set in before anyone was ready, and that all these truly in-your-face kinds of decorations are offensive anyway. but i have another theory for why it's such an edgy holiday- witches, grim reaper, skeleton bones, etc.

my theory is that it really is a long holiday season- halloween, all saints day, all souls day, guy fawkes day, sadie hawkins day, and on bad years, election day to get everyone's mind off the rest. in fact, halloween's original purpose was to distract attention from the others, like mardi gras does for lent. if you set fires throughout the countryside, burn all your old leaves and twigs, then the gray ashes rise in cold bitter winds of early november- which, to me, has always been the most beautiful of months, a month so beautiful that it needs an extended, subconscious, edgy set of virtually unknown holidays to usher it in. all saints day needs no introduction- i'm the wrong guy to introduce it anyway, with a veritable lack of religious education in my background- i could barely tell you the difference between all saints' day and all souls' day. but i can tell you that guy fawkes was the guy who tried to blow up the british parliament (or did blow it up?) so it's a kind of anti-holiday, the holiday for the sick and twisted, the down-with-the-system folks. but i couldn't even tell you who those folks are, today, in modern britain, or even here, where it's all gotten kind of muddled and a few tattoos or a little bit of face hardware doesn't mean a whole lot anymore. sadie hawkins day is the turn-the-system-on-its-ear holiday of all holidays, but who would know that from a junior high dance? what i'm saying is that all these holidays, including election day itself, which has a sick and twisted polarity to it, are largely subconscious, and definitely in tune with the weather. think about it- as october, show-your-colors month, bright, splashy, movie photography at every step, turns into bleak, brownish wet muddy half-frozen path with dry blizzardy snow blowing around the brown cackly leaves, in the same way, the hard-drinking, outlandish-costumed, 18-22-year-old dramatic extravaganza turns into a barren kind of report-card-staring, dysfunctional-family-around-a-golden-turkey kind of hollowness, in homes throughout the countryside. election years take the whole polarity and puts it in a brightly colored, media-glowish carnival-type wrapper, complete with pretty faces, beautiful spouses, empty promises, commercials like sharp shining knives twisting in a cooked bird. the cruel reality of people's true voting preference like a harsh blizzard, a car that won't start on a cold, rainy-icy courthouse parking lot. not that i have experience with any of this, but i can tell you, that when february rolls around, or april in more northern climes, the grass and leaves do come back, it softens up a bit, the animals will return from hibernation, what few are left. and that, just as, no matter how dry it was, there will be some oranges, some reds, some yellows, various hues of brown- and, on the other side, various shades of brown, like grays, ranging from dark to light, to snow flurry, to misty fog drifting, a few errant leaves in a wistful dance, before giving it up, and drifting to the cold frozen dew. that the people- and their carnival, mardi gras, and halloween- these are the grand marshals of the big parade, the big show, the great movie, where in truth, all the bad actors and actresses should just step aside, and let nature read its lines.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

here's a word for the indians, my one and only team, a baseball team from my native city of cleveland, ohio, named originally for a big guy named sockalexis who was apparently one of the better players of the game, in his time, which was maybe the early 1900's. in modern times the name is hopelessly politically incorrect, and the hats even more so; offensive to native americans and to many others who have taken up the cause against such names. nevertheless, baseball loyalty is often intensely geographical, and i am a geographically-oriented person, with less than six months, and no other memories, to attach to the town of my birth. so i have remained loyal to this team for over fifty-three years, in which time they have won the pennant only twice, not counting the year i was born, and the series never. quite a drought. and is this a curse of rocky colavito? or of sockalexis himself? or of just 29-to-1 odds in any given year, further stacked by small television market teams being outspent by large-market teams 5-to-1 or whatever?

at any rate, their ascent into the playoffs was heavenly; their trouncing of the thoroughly-hated yankees beyond heavenly. things were going good, but there were signs that they were off too. i actually watched the first game on the television of a friend, but they were beaten badly, their ace pitcher knocked around, and after that i went home and watched the next three games on the computer, where the pace was interesting, information delivered in word form, and i could get some work done to boot. they won these three games, the second two at home in cleveland. i was euphoric. superstitious as always, i kept doing things that worked- wearing a mariners' hat (i wouldn't be caught dead in a yahoo hat)- watching on the computer, keeping a pure heart, not bragging too much, maintaining to the end that they would win it all, or at least make it to the series (this was still the playoffs, though it is late october). for naught. the red sox came back to win the last three, season over, all is gloom until the next time around.

i think even sockalexis would say, can the hat. can the name too, go for a new look. there are other names cleveland could use- the browns (familiar to football fans, but also familiar as a baseball name), the rams (today's hopeless football st. louis rams actually started in cleveland, long before their l.a. days), or countless others that would be acceptable. it really isn't as big a deal as sports fans in places like champaign would have you believe. if it offends somebody, just apologize and get it out of there. but, as i said, i am loyal to the team for geographical reasons, and, as i move from royals country to cub country to cards country, these teams don't stick to me, i have only one team, to the bitter end. and some day, when they do win, some people will remember and may even think of me and of diehard fans who, regardless of the heartbreak and the drought, will say, hey, they were still playing in october, when the yankees had gone home to play golf, when the cubbies were long gone. but indians fans don't glory in disappointment (as far as i know- there are very few out here to judge by)- don't wallow in it, like cubs fans do, don't sunbathe in the bleachers of dropped balls and televised errors. We may be deeply superstitious (was it the mariners hat? was it the television? or lack thereof? was i not pure of heart? was it even me, or are they jinxed by something else- the city, or the arrogance of wearing such a hat as the yahoo hat?)- but, in any case, i won't say, i told you so. i did not tell you so, i did not tell you anything... but i will tell you this, now. wait 'til next year. and hey, you indians, and indians year, when they win it all, we loyal fans, way out here where loyal indians fans are few and far between, will still be here for you...indians will win it all. and when they do, that will be a day to tell a story...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

pressed for time, i barely stop when posting at work, to explain how i wish i could have made an entire post, out of any given project that i can barely mention. lots going on- lots to learn, lots to do, lots happening there. yet my personal life is busy too. a 2-yr-old learns to talk & tells me what for. a 6-yr-old has a birthday party and reads old batman comix. a 20-yr-old writes from france; one comes from washington state, another rides a bicycle way across town twice a day, a kind of chronic traveller himself. my wife has been sick; so has a cat; the dog has lost track of when exactly he last went out. but, on top of it all, the indians are winning, constantly, joyously, careening toward the world serious, and one has to stop and watch for at least a minute. years in which the indians made it this far are etched firmly in our memories- baseball at its finest, when teams get really good, and are all determined to win. these indians just might...

fall has been inordinately hot and dry- as if the moisture has been sucked down into the southeast's major drought. we must never forget how closely our weather system is tied to that of the whole gulf basin, whatever gets blown into what we call the "south," or what doesn' doesn't just roll gently down from the west here. and, now, the area is parched; we may lose our home-planted christmas tree.

no luck selling the truck, but, another round of trying is coming. what can one do? i can't really use it well; somebody can, i'm sure. in carterville, a small town, some surprise, maybe, at a kind of folk music, some people passing through, playing music to bounce off old walls in the town's center, not far from a haunted house set up for the kids. that was our audience- at least they were around; they heard it, they know who we are. carterville is across a large lake from here; in the center of southern illinois, more of a dead center, culturally and geographically. as a region, though, we aren't dead yet. my kids, i always thought, would come back someday to a boomtown, a boom area, carterville as its center, i figure, and they'd look around, land prices high, jobs all over the place, and they'd say, i'm from around here. and i'm not sure, exactly, what kind of imprint that kind of experience would have, on a kid's character. i'll find out, i guess.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

ok- here you go. apple of her mother's eye- last of twelve, now it's time for the novel i guess. i figure, with twelve, I have one for each month, though i don't know yet which one for which month, and this one is a good example. that is only one possible way of marketing it; in fact, i've already given all twelve of them away, but done nothing to promote them in any way. i need readers, honest criticism.

Parsley Sagebrush Band- at the Mix, downtown Carterville, Sat. Oct. 13, 7-9. see you there!