Tuesday, August 31, 2004

"I Can Almost Smell Your TB Sheets"

It's only 10.45 in the evening, and I'm already dead tired. I can't explain it--I've only been awake for 12 hours, if that. There's no way I should be sleepy yet.

Got a call from my mom earlier this evening. Apparently Hastings had called her (there is no Hastings in Shawnee, though there is one here in Norman) saying something about us having an item out from them that was way overdue. She assumed I was the only one in the family with access to a Hastings (true enough), and wanted to call and check. I haven't checked anything out from Hastings (either here or anywhere) in a year or two, if then even. So I told her it wasn't me, which she accepted without question.

It struck me as kind of strange, though--even assuming I'd had something out from Hastings overdue, why would they call Shawnee? I'd have given my local phone number for anything related to Hastings here in Norman. I'd have given my Ozarks telephone number if it'd been the one in Russellville (the closest Hastings to Clarksville). Whenever we rented anything from Hastings up in Ponca City (where my grandparents live; we rent movies when we're up there occasionally), it would've been on my uncle's card (or on my grandfather's now), and thus their phone number would've been the one called. So why the hell did they call Shawnee?

We actually have a couple of decent cartoonists this year for the OU Daily. One guy in particular, Bryan Climer, is pretty talented, and has a webcomic to boot. I'm gonna read through it and see how it is. Might try joining forces with the guy and see if we can't wreck some havoc on an unsuspecting public.

~chuck

Song of the Moment: Van Morrison, "Madam George"
"Sugar-Free Jazz"

Looks like I'll be picking up yet more hours at work soon. Apparently one of our consultants found a job as a newspaper reporter in another town (Woodward, OK, for those of you familiar with your Oklahoma geography--up in the northwestern part of the state, not too far from the Panhandle) and thus won't be able to work her current 8-12 shift every day. So the schedule is going to be shuffled a bit, and other folks will end up in those shifts (probably not me, since that's when I have my class MWF).

Another interesting thing to note about work--password changes. They make us change our password regularly (about once every two months) for reasons I'm still not sure on. They also have it set up so that you can't use any of your previous 15 or 16 passwords. Since I started doing things on a computer that require a password (back senior year of high school, or 1997/98 for those of you keeping score at home), I've used maybe two different passwords for everything. I use one password for virtually everything I can, because I know my memory is bad and I also know it's not anything anyone is going to instantly think of when they think of me, 'cause it's not something that is really related to my life anymore.

Anyway, the connection here is I had to change my password the other day, and I finally got to reuse my first password, my normal password. I was kinda happy about that, in a way, 'cause it's like coming back to an old friend; but at the same time, it's probably not good that I've been around here long enough to do that. Ah well.

I haven't eaten all day. I'm starting to get sorta hungry, and I'm only halfway through my shift. Maybe Jess and Dom will want to eat at Tarahumara's tonight--I've been craving Mexican food the past few days.

~chuck

Song of the Moment: George Harrison, "Any Road"

Monday, August 30, 2004

"Born To Be A God Among Salesmen"

Today was actually productive (frightening, I know): I went to class, had a bite of lunch, got my car serviced (oil, lube, & filter, and rotated and balanced the tires), and now I'm at work. Also ended up picking up an extra hour for my Tuesday shift to cover an employee who can't make her Tuesday night shift anymore (that extra hour will remain for the rest of the semester...unless our schedule changes again, which is always possible).

It's turned out to be an absolutely beautiful day today. Hard to believe it's still August (though not for long, thank God). I still find it hard to believe we haven't had a 100 degree day all summer. That's gotta be some kind of Oklahoma record.

In other news, Wen's birthday is today or tomorrow. I have a terrible time remembering which. I'd call her tonight and wish her a happy birthday just to be safe, but my cell phone decided to die on the way to work, so I guess I won't be doing that.

~chuck

Song of the Moment: Soul Coughing, "Blue-Eyed Devil"
"Pick Me Up, Lord"

So Monkey told me earlier this evening (Sunday) that he ought to have DSL sometime this coming week. This is good news, as he'll be able to update Dim Bulb stuff directly from his house as opposed to having to go to his parents' place and do it through their slow dial-up connection. he was understandably happy and excited about this.

Recently, I've been finding amusement watching Ev react to the world around him actually being nice to him as opposed to giving him hell. I really think there must be some pre-programmed response buried in his brain that says that anytime something good happens, the other shoe will drop very quickly thereafter. Which is sorta ridiculous--even with really bad karma, Ev should be back to a balance point by now at least, and probably deserving of some good stuff by now. Ah well. It's good to see things starting to go his way and the world making an effort to treat him the way he deserves to be treated.

Well, off for bed. Early day of it tomorrow.

~chuck

Song of the Moment: Rhett Miller, "The El"

Sunday, August 29, 2004

"With A Picture Of An Old Oak Tree By My Side"

I finally finished scripting the rest of the Yellowstone Saga this afternoon. There are still twelve comics to do, which means another four weeks of the Yellowstone stuff. This is the longest storyline I've ever done, and really beginning to deserve the name "saga." By the time it's done, it'll have been fifty comics long. That's twice as long as the original Yellowstone storyline. I like to think I've kept it interesting the entire time, and that the comics have been funny and easy to follow. Folks keep coming back to the site on my update days, so I guess I'll continue to believe that.

The second time through with the Yellowstone story has been fun. I've changed a lot of it--mostly just added to what existed before--and I'm pleased with it. Sure, nothing in the storyline has been earthshaking as far as plot or storytelling techniques, but I was setting out to have fun, not to write the most intricate plot known to man. If other people have enjoyed these comics as much as I've enjoyed writing them, that'll be enough for me, really.

What's expanded the most this second time through has been the Vigilante thing. In the previous incarnation, more emphasis was placed on the stealth bussers. Here, it's been on the trail police and the hiking, which is really how I wanted it from the beginning. When Clif and I were in Yellowstone, work was mostly a blur, but hiking...ah, the hikes will stay with me for the rest of my life. The hiking and the scenery made that one of the best summers of my life.

It occurs to me that the one aspect of that summer that didn't get expressed in these comics was the creation of Cross-Eyed Yeti's first album, Delusions of Grandeur. Over half the songs which originally appeared on that album were written or finalized in Yellowstone, and the first extant copy of the album was recorded in our room over the course of a few nights onto a cassette tape recorder we borrowed from an old family friend. I still have the tape--the first side contains our first 14 or 15 songs, the second contains a portion of a live show we did one of our last nights in Mammoth Hot Springs at the employee pub (our folks were even in attendance). The album would evolve from that initial tape, both in terms of the songs included and recording sophistication and complexity (and in terms of our abilities--we were really rough in those first recordings), but that tape is a nice historical artifact and a physical reminder of the fun Clif and I had in Yellowstone. Listening to that tape, you could tell we were having fun--that's what it was all about for us, really. The songs were amateurish, completely live, and of exceptionally low quality, but dear Lord we were having fun. I sometimes think that summer was not simply one of the best summers of my life, but one of the best periods of time in my life at all. There was just something about the peace and the joy I found there, even after the personal hell I'd been through the last half of my senior year and the uncertainty of what lay ahead...it was a series of perfect moments, strung out over the course of two and a half months.

And I think I've recorded a bit of that peace, a bit of that perfection in not only the comics, but the music we wrote and recorded during that time (and subsequently), and the peace I still have from that summer. And for that, I'm very thankful indeed.

~chuck

Song of the Moment: Bob Dylan: "Groom's Still Waiting at the Altar"
"To Bring You Back the Check Fat Off Of My Slenderness"

I face eight straight hours at work this afternoon/evening. On the one hand, this means plenty of money. On the other, it means sitting in this room for another 7 hours. At least I don't have to do the whole shift alone--others are working today as well, so I'll have people to chat with.

I also have stuff to do--I need to read for class tomorrow, I need to do two or three comics (so that I've got comics done for the rest of this week and next Monday, when I probably won't be able to update before Monday if I don't do it really early). I've got a book to read, I've got my GBA SP, and I've got lots of Bob Dylan to listen to.

And that's probably something that I need to do in the next few days--get myself ready for the Dylan concert. The man's released more albums than just about any other artist still alive (and recording), so there's a lot of material to familiarize one's self with. I know that he tends to play a very unpredictable set list--the concert I attended back in 2001 in OKC had a completely different set list than a concert he gave the next day in Little Rock (I was actually able to get a bootleg of that Little Rock concert via a friend of mine from Ozarks who happened to attend that show, and yes, the songs were completely different--I don't think there were any repeats between the two shows). While I knew a lot of the tunes he played back in 2001, I'm even more familiar with his work now, so I'm psyched about this show.

It occurred to me earlier today just how much Dylan I do have, though. I've got more Dylan than anything else--more than the number of Beatles, or Tom Petty, or ELO, or Pink Floyd, or Sting, or any of the other bands I've been obsessed with over the past decade or so. I think I have 18 official albums (including all six volumes of the Bootleg Series, though vol. 1-3 count as one "album" in this case), burned copies of the first two volumes of the Greatest Hits, and the bootleg (so about 21 different albums, all told). That's 29 discs of Dylan. That's a lot, and it's not even half of what he's recorded. Crazy, eh?

I still don't understand my fascination with Dylan. It's just...there, y'know? It simply is. He's a part of our cultural heritage, even if we don't always realize it. I mean, think of how many musicians and bands have recorded covers of Dylan tunes? Some of those covers are so amazing and well-known that we forget that they were written by Dylan--songs like "All Along the Watchtower" (the famous Hendrix version, or even the lesser-known versions by U2 and Dave Matthews...though Hendrix's cover will forever be the best), or the Byrds' "Mr. Tamborine Man" or "My Back Pages" or "All I Really Want to Do" (they were big Dylan fans). Peter, Paul, and Mary covering "Blowin' in the Wind." So many people have recorded his songs, it's sometimes hard to remember that he's the one who recorded those songs first, that they belong to him.

Maybe most of that is pretty garbled--I'm not certain I'm making much sense today--but you have to admire someone who has so captured a good portion of the population's mindset, who's been able to express those things we ourselves cannot express, to tap into our collective mythology so effectively. I think a good case can be made that Dylan is one of the most important and influential individuals in pop culture of the 20th century.

And he puts on a hell of a show.

~chuck

Song of the Moment: Bob Dylan, "Changing of the Guard"

Saturday, August 28, 2004

"With Tales Of A Stormy South"

Stood outside last night watching the storm roll in across the south and the west. It was an amazing display--ribbons of lightning that branched out across a quarter of the night sky, lighting things up as though it were midday, thunder that rumbled around back and forth overhead like a child rolling a toy across a wooden floor, and the occasional shower of rain to drop the temperature and cool things off wonderfully. It was not the sort of storm you're supposed to get in late August in Oklahoma. Admittedly, you're not supposed to get any storms in late August in Oklahoma--it's supposed to be bone dry and baking, not cooler and damp. We still haven't had a single day this summer where the official temperature topped 100. That's some sort of uncanny record for Oklahoma.

Today is laundry day, the day during which I make sure that my clothes (and thus my self) do not reek of...well, anything. The washing machine ends in about two minutes, so I must be off to transfer my now clean clothes to the dryer so they are wearable once more.

~chuck

Song of the Moment: Those Who Hunt Elves Closing Theme (it's something in Japanese, I don't know what it's called)

Friday, August 27, 2004

"All The Way From New Orleans To Jerusalem"

Today, I learned what the word "antepenultimate" means--the oen before the one before the last, usually associated with syllable count in words.

Okay, I can understand the word "penultimate," and how it might be a useful word to have once in awhile, especially if you like sounding really smart and impressive (my personal favorite use of the term is in the phrase "the penultimate frontier," mostly because frontiers, by their very definition, can never be the final frontier, because that would imply you know what lies beyond the frontier, which would mean it's not really a frontier...thus, you can never have a "final frontier," only a "penultimate frontier" at best. But I digress). But honestly, when would the term "antepenultimate" be useful? Wouldn't it be easier--for the sake of clarity and ease of communication--to say something like "the one before the next to last?" Besides, there aren't enough words in spoken or even common written English that have enough syllables to warrant the use of the term. Most of the really big multisyllabic words in our language are science words, and they don't go in for fancy humanities terms like "antepenultimate." Honestly, the only time I can see the term "antepenultimate" being even halfway useful is when you're dealing with German, since that language has a tendency to just slap words together to create new ones and you end up with words that're twenty syllables long.

It could be that I've just got too much free time to think about these sorts of things. Then again, since I didn't get anything else accomplished this afternoon, it's good that I'm at least doing something, right?

~chuck

Song of the Moment: David Gray, "December"
"That Blue Jean Baby Queen"

This afternoon was the most frustratingly unintentionally non-productive afternoon I've had in a long, long time.

I went out this afternoon to run some necessary errands--get the tires on the car rotated and balanced, get the oil changed, etc. And the guy said there was going to be a two or three hour wait for that. I'm not that patient--I really don't want to sit in Wal-Mart for three hours, y'know? So I decided I'd come back Tuesday (when I don't have anything in the morning) and do it then.

So after that, I decided I'd go give donating plasma a shot, 'cause an extra $20 or $25 for giving up a pint or two of liquid is a pretty good deal. I figured it'd take an hour or so. I arrived there around 1.00. I left about 3.15, having not donated plasma and being nowhere near ready to, apparently. Turns out they need some sort of proof of residence/address thing...which is all well and good, except that I don't get any bills here (my bursar bill goes to my parents' place still, since that's my permanent address). They also apparently needed me to take a brief physical, but it was going to take a couple of hours before I'd even be up for that, and then I'd have to take another hour or so just to actually give the plasma. On top of all that, I apparently hadn't eaten recently enough (I think the last time I ate was around 10.00 this morning, and it wasn't anything substantial or healthy). Long story short, I didn't donate any plasma today, but I'm going to try to at some point next week.

Yeah. No productivity was achieved today. Perhaps I can still go running this afternoon, though I doubt I'll do very well since my legs hurt for reasons I don't fully understand.

~chuck

Song of the Moment: Bob Dylan, "Blind Willie McTell"
"I'm Not The Wreck Of The Hesperus"

So I was reading a friend of mine's Live Journal the other day, and he was talking about caring about other people's opinions and how he hasn't ever really cared what other people think of him. That's a terrible paraphrase and oversimplification, but it serves the purpose I've set to it for this post.

See, unlike my friend, I've lived most of my life seeking confirmation and the approval of those around me. First it was my parents--the worst punishment they could heap upon me wasn't a spanking, wasn't taking away videogames or TV or even books and music (all of which they did). It wasn't even yelling, though they did a lot of that, too (keep in mind that all of this was quite justified and deserved; I was not abused by my parents in any way, shape, or form). No, the worst thing they could do to me (and still do to me) is tell me that they're disappointed in me. It crushed me every time.

Really, if you look at the way I've structured a lot of my life, I've been seeking approval from others all along. Getting a BA was a way of seeking academic and professional approval; the Master's degree is even moreso. I've posted my work, both in the form of poetry, prose, comics, and even songs on the internet for all to see, and made methods of contacting me to share ideas very available and open. Hell, I even enabled comments on this blog so I could get other people's opinions on what I've said and thought. I'm constantly seeking not only feedback, but someone to say, "hey, yeah, I agree with you," or "yeah, I like what you wrote/drew/sang." Part of this is a genuine desire to share what I've done, to entertain, to amuse or stir the heart of someone I've never even met, or the hearts of those I hold dear already. But another part of it is a desire to have people justify what I've done and am doing. I crave that in a way that almost borders on obsessive.

To be honest, there's not really anything wrong with any of that, per se. If taken too far, it means that I'm really living my life for others rather than myself (or letting others dictate what I do, i.e., "selling out"). But I don't let it go that far--I only really do what I want to do, the way I want to do it. For instance, take the comics I've been doing lately, the whole Yellowstone story--this is a story I did because I wanted to do it. It amuses me, it entertains me. It also happens to entertain Clif and at least a few others (we do get 130-odd visitors per day, so folks must be coming back and liking what they see). Every time I talk to Clif, I ask him if he's been keeping up with the comic, if he's seen what I've done with his character, if he likes what's going on. I always show comic ideas to a few of my friends, ask their opinions on them, see what they think. I post stories on the Live Journal, hoping other people will read them and tell me what they think. Admittedly, in the final analysis, I do what I want to do--I take everyone else's opinions into consideration, but ultimately I do the comic I want to do, or write the story I want to write. It's not so much that I seek to conform to what others want, but that I want people to approve of what I wanted to do.

Maybe none of that makes sense to anyone else. Maybe it makes perfect sense. I dunno. It makes sense to me, I know, and that's all that really matters, right?

See, even when I'm making a statement about my stance, I'm still seeking approval of that stance. Eesh.

~chuck

Song of the Moment: Beatles, "Free as a Bird"

Thursday, August 26, 2004

"What Kind Of Weapons Have They Got?"

It's just freakin' hot out today. Ridiculously hot. Heat index of 107 hot. The actual temperature was only about 95, with around 45% humidity. Oddly enough, that didn't seem as bad to me as when it was only 80 early this morning, but the humidity was around 95%. I'm half tempted to go buy a parking permit, just so I don't have to suffer through the ridiculous heat, but a couple of things are stopping me: first, parking passes are like $170 this year. Second, we're supposed to get a cold front this weekend that drops the highs down into like the 70s. If that's the case, I'll be happy as a pig in slop, or some other rural metaphor.

I'm the only one at work tonight--the other guy didn't bother to show up at all (he was supposed to be in at 4.00, and still hasn't arrived), and the girl called earlier to say she was still at her other job and wasn't going to make it in tonight. Then again, it's not really a big deal, since I am literally the only one here--there are no student-athletes here tonight. There probably won't be, either--it's too early in the semester for them to really have all that much for us yet. That, and study hall hasn't opened up yet (it opens next week), so there isn't anyone up here for that, either. All in all, it means I'm getting paid to sit here and listen to the Flaming Lips, read Ursula K. Le Guin (The Other Wind, the last Earthsea book), and play Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on my Gameboy (best Zelda ever, y'know, and re-releasing it on GBA was a stroke of genius). And y'know, I'm down with that, really.

~chuck

Song of the Moment: The Flaming Lips, "The Gash"

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

"The Streets Of Rome Are Filled With Rubble"

So in class this morning, Dr. Magnusson showed us an image of Grammar, a figure associated with--you guessed it--literacy and education in Roman culture. Anyway, apparently Grammar always carried a whip in her hand, and would mercilessly beat students who didn't learn their lessons correctly. Some days at work, I wish we could go back to doing that, because Lord knows some of those student-athletes need a good beating.

~chuck

Song of the Moment: Wilco, "I Must Be High"
"Wake Up Bomb"

It's way too early to be awake, and I've been up since 6.30. This 8.30 class thing may kill me. Then again, it may also inspire me to go to bed before midnight once in a while, but don't count on it.

It occurred to me yesterday that I have more Bob Dylan CDs than any other band or musician. I have more Bob Dylan than I do Beatles, or Pink Floyd, or Bruce Springsteen, or Tom Petty, or Sting, or any other music act with which I've been obsessed. If even if you only include the albums proper and exclude things like the Bootleg Series (which I've got all six volumes of) or Greatest Hits collections, I've still got more Dylan than anything else.

The thing is, I don't even have most of his albums. I've got most (if not all) of the great albums. I think I still need to get Down in the Flood, a live album from his tour with the Band in the mid-70s, and probably Infidels as well, but then there are maybe only one or two other albums that are even worth attention. And this possesses something of a problem--after I've got all the good albums, what do I do then? I mean, I'll still have a craving for more Dylan, for Dylan I haven't heard, and there won't be anything worthwhile to pick up. I'll be up against an impass. It's part of the reason I've slowed down in my purchase of Dylan albums, really. Well, except of late. I bought one Dylan CD right before Florida--Another Side of Bob Dylan--and picked up The Times They Are A-Changin' just a couple of days ago (mostly because I found it for $8.00. That's a damn good price). Really, the only albums left for me to get are the aforementioned two, his eponymous d├ębut, and an album called New Morning. So unless Dylan comes out with a new album or another installment of the Bootleg Series sometime soon, I could be up the proverbial creek.

What does all this have to do with anything? Absolutely nothing at all, but it was something to write about, and my morning-fogged brain needed something easy to ease it into the day.

~chuck

Song of the Moment: Bob Dylan, "Only a Pawn in Their Game"

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

"To Be Happy Like We Always Thought We're Supposed To Be"

So I downloaded the Windows XP Service Package 2 last night. It installed itself, ran all its whatevers, had me reset, and then suddenly ate up a gig of hard drive space.

At least, I'm pretty certain I had a gig more of free space before I downloaded the thing. I could be wrong.

On the positive side, the package came with a pop-up blocker for IE, something the browser sorely needed. It even recognizes the difference between "pop-up that came up because something is trying to sell me something" and "pop-up that came up because I opened a link in a new window."

It also put some Security monitor thing in my taskbar, and I'm still not sure how I feel about it. I mean, the thing flagged certain programs on my computer as potential risks, or something of that ilk, and made me have to tell it to not block that program. The first program I'd noticed it did this to was AOL IM, a program I virtually always have on. And yet Windows wanted to block it. I sense a bit of messenger rivalry hostility here--they were gonna block it mostly because it wasn't a Microsoft program, I think. Ah well.

Hung out with Jess and Dom this evening for a while. Dominic picked up 007--Agent Under Fire for the Gamecube earlier today, and we game it a spin. The multiplayer is worlds beyond what Goldeneye was (I never liked the Goldeneye multiplayer too much, because the auto-aim feature always annoyed me. You can turn that off this, and set up the controls just like I always have 'em in Halo, which means I was actually able to play well). Not the greatest game ever, and the multiplayer's biggest drawback was that the characters are so damn tiny on the split-screen, but beyond that it was fun (and a lot easier to play when we did it two player instead of three).

Before we played videogames, though, we went to eat at Hideaway Pizza. Good pizza place, though the one in Stillwater (the original one, if I'm not mistaken) is better. The problem was this--Hideaway is on the other side of campus from me. It was 6.00. There was something going on up at the stadium. The easiest route to Hideaway (the one that doesn't take me all the way around the campus, which would have taken about an hour with traffic at that time of day) runs right past the stadium. It took me 30 minutes to get from my apartment to Hideaway. It should have taken five, maybe ten. That's how long it took to get back, at least. I still say that the worst part about still being at OU is that I have to suffer through another football season. Stupid football.

~chuck

Song of the Moment: Wilco, "Hummingbird"
"Bob Dylan's 115th Dream"

I had a bizzare dream last night.

I was walking through a town--it wasn't a town that really exists, though it seemed to be a conglomeration of several towns I've lived in, mostly Norman and Clarksville. I had my discman with me, and I was listening to a song on it. The song is not a real song, I don't think, but it was one I recognized in the dream and liked (it was a good tune, I remember that. I just wish I could remember the tune itself). It was a Bob Dylan song, from the '90s by the feel of the music and the sound of his voice (but not by the lyrics...there were some lyrics, but again, I don't remember them). I simply recall that it was a good song, and one very much removed in tone and feel from most of Dylan's latter-day work--it lacked the weariness and cynicism that's marked his past few albums. It was an uplifting song, really, and all I remember is walking through this town that doesn't exist, listening to that song, and thinking how good it was to be alive.

~chuck

Song of the Moment: Bob Dylan, "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carrol"

Monday, August 23, 2004

"Don't Forget The Flowers Sunday"

Sittin' at work. Pretty quiet up here tonight, but that's to be expected on the first day of classes. If we were already overwhelmed, there'd be something seriously wrong.

Chatted with Scott for a bit this afternoon. Seems he's finally got high speed internet in his dorm room. And it's free, too (well, aside from having to pay for the cable modem and router, which he gets to keep). He was reveling in the rapidity with which he was able to receive the files I sent him. He marveled at pages that loaded in less than five minutes. He was positively gleeful when he was able to download songs himself in a length of time best described as "brief." He was, to really put a phrase around it, happy as all hell that he had decent internet finally.

With one of the classes I was going to take falling through, my schedule is now more open. I went ahead and enrolled this afternoon, opting for more Thesis hours to make up the difference so I could still be full time. On the positive side, this means I have more free time during which to do things such as work on the Thesis, work on grad school applications, and work on papers for publication. On the negative side, this means I have more time to slack off and less structure to my week. How this will end up going is anyone's guess.

~chuck

Song of the Moment: Wilco, "Shouldn't Be Ashamed"
"Or Something French Like That"

Turns out I can't take Dr. Lewis's class on the Monarchy and Mystique. Means I have to find another class to take. Dammit.

On the positive side, my class with Dr. Magnusson is going to be a lot of fun and very educational and all that. She seems like a nice enough person...which is good, since she's on my Thesis Committee and all (I figured that was a good enough reason to take a class from her at some point, y'know?).

Well, better go find an alternative class and get in touch with Dr. Hart. Ugh.

~chuck

Song of the Moment: Wilco, "Casino Queen"

Sunday, August 22, 2004

"I'm A Clutz"

I just stubbed my freakin' toe on my fan. It drew blood. Having the fan in the doorway may draw more cool air into the computer room, but damn if I haven't tripped over it or stubbed my toe on it entirely too many times.

I can't wait for winter, when this won't even be a concern. Hurry, cold weather! Get here now!

~chuck

Song of the Moment: Wilco, "Outta Sight (Outta Mind)"
"Wilco - A.M."

So I picked up a CD today (even though, technically speaking, I probably shouldn't be going out and making such purchases just yet...but I saw a CD I'd been looking for, saw it cheap, and got it. Because I felt like it). The album in question is Wilco's first CD, A.M. I'm still in the process of listening to/absorbing the music, but I like it so far. It's a very straight-forward alt-country record, and I like that (I know, I'm as shocked as you are by the fact that the words "country" and "like" appeared in the same sentence, but hey, I actually kinda dig the alt-country stuff, 'cause very often the lyrics are quite witty and thoughtful, and it's not so damn annoying as the pop-country stuff that passes for country nowadays [what's really funny is that, while I was typing that last sentence, I kept slipping up and writing "poop-country," which I think is indicative of my true feelings in the matter]).

That was a long aside.

Anyway, part of what I like about the album is that it is such a basic affair--the songs all clock in under 4.00 minutes (Wilco has had a tendency over their past couple of albums of making these winding, meandering sound collages that go for 10 or 15 minutes), most of them are uptempo (if not necessarily upbeat), and the music is just fun. You occasionally need fun music. Their second album, the double-LP Being There, has a lot in common with this first album, though Being There bends genres a little more than A.M. (the former throws a bunch of other stuff into the mix, including the occasional power-pop and straight alternative, while the latter is an exclusively alt-country affair).

Had a mandatory meeting at work this afternoon. Complete waste of time, except that we got our basic schedules for the coming semester. The nice thing about my schedule? I'm already on for at least 28 hours per week. This is very, very good--that means I can make rent with no worries. We like it when rent isn't as much a concern.

~chuck

Song of the Moment: Wilco, "Hummingbird"
"In His Kitchen In Your Chair"

My parents brought my car back to me this afternoon. Dad even cleaned it up and out for me, which was exceptionally nice (it took him several hours, apparently...then he berated me for letting the car get so filthy). Mom also freaked out when she saw the condition my apartment was in and started cleaning. I keep wondering--she's not the one who has to live here, so what the hell does she care what it's like?

Ah well. I also got a new computer chair...well, it's not new, per se, but new to me. Actually, the chair itself is older than I am--it's the one from my father's office that used to belong to my great-grandfather. My one concern is that I haven't been able to find out if it's adjustable, because the thing sits up too high for my desk. My knees don't go under, and it's a bit of a stretch down to the keyboard from the armrests (which are padded and very comfy otherwise).

Had a meeting this afternoon for the school paper. My comics will apparently run on Tuesdays this semester. It also sounds like the new editor is a rather hands-on sorta guy, which means he wants more meetings and stuff. I don't want to attend meetings for the paper, though--I just want to do my comics and get a few extra readers. That's the only reason I'm doing these.

I have another meeting in an hour and a half for work. I don't look forward to this meeting; it's going to be ridiculously long. Like three hours. Three hours of my life, wasted. Gone. Never to be regained. Maybe I'll get some decent doodling done during those three hours. That'd be the only saving grace. I mean, I could be at the apartment instead, reading or doing tomorrow's comic or watching a movie or playing video games or anything except sitting and listening to the same stupid crap they make us listen to every semester. At least we get paid for it.

~chuck

Song of the Moment: Eric Clapton, "When You've Got a Good Friend"

Friday, August 20, 2004

"And Gallantly Handed Her My Very Last Piece Of Gum"

Finally had a meeting with my advisor this morning. Looks like my Master's Thesis is shaping up nicely, he said, and that I shouldn't have any problems with getting it done by my projected deadline (end of September). Also figured out what classes I'm going to take (Monarchy & Mystique with Dr. Lewis, and Medieval Italy with Dr. Magnusson). So it was a very productive meeting, you could say.

I found this at a friend's Live Journal. I don't normally do these survey/fill-in-the-blank things, but this one's basically a soundtrack to your life sorta thing. I like that idea. You fill in the appropriate moment or situation with a song that you think fits you in that moment. Here's the soundtrack of my life...

Opening song: Soul Coughing, "The Idiot Kings"
Waking up: The Beatles, "Good Morning"
First date: The Beatles, "I Saw Her Standing There"
First kiss: XTC, "Seagulls Screaming Kiss Her, Kiss Her"
Falling in love: Dire Straits, "Romeo and Juliet"
Seeing an old love: David Gray, "Babylon"
Heartbreak: Wilco, "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart"
Driving fast: Wallflowers, "Angel On My Bike"
Getting ready to go out: Van Morrison, "Wild Night"
Partying with friends: Gorillaz, "Clint Eastwood"
Dancing at a club: Van Halen, "Dance The Night Away"
Flirting: Bob Dylan, "I Want You"
Feeling sexy: Pink Floyd, "The Great Gig in the Sky"
Walking alone in the rain: Jars of Clay, "Silence"
Missing someone: Carole King, "So Far Away"
Playing in the ocean: Toad the Wet Sprocket, "Walk On The Ocean"
Summer vacation: Mungo Jerry, "In the Summertime"
Fighting with someone: Cake, "Nugget"
Acting goofy with friends: Tom Lehrer, "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park"
Thinking back: The Beatles, "In My Life"
Feeling depressed: Sting, "Why Should I Cry For You?"
Christmas time: Tom Petty, "Christmas All Over"
Falling asleep: The Beatles, "Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End"
Closing song: Toad the Wet Sprocket, "All Things in Time"

Yeah, that'd be it. Enjoy.

~chuck

Song of the Moment: Bob Dylan, "Fourth Time Around"

Thursday, August 19, 2004

"Every Song's A Comeback"

So Ev and I decided we want to teach a class on analyzing song lyrics. The idea fascinates me--taking song lyrics apart with the tools of literary deconstruction, deciphering meaning and nuance, examining songs not just as entertainment, but as an expression of something deeper and as true art. It's the sort of thing I've wanted to do for as long as I've liked music. Not to mention the fact that we'd be teaching a class using the lyrics of musicians such as the Beatles and Bob Dylan.

Of course, the class couldn't be done exclusively with classic rock lyrics. While there are plenty of good songs to choose from, it wouldn't really connect with the students as well as getting songs they're interested in. That's part of the fun of the class--getting the students interested and involved in the analysis. That involves using material they have an interest in. It means I'll probably have to listen to some rap or country, but it's a small price to pay for getting to teach Bob Dylan and the Beatles.

Work seems to be dragging by. I've finished my book, I've beaten my videogame, I've got comics drawn for the next two or three updates. I'm not really in the mood to write, and there's not really any websites I want to cruise right now. And I'm stuck here for another 3 1/2 hours. Ugh.

Talked with Beth and Clif last night. Beth is doing well, though she'd managed to get locked into her apartment Sunday night apparently (and then it took the emergency maintenance man eight hours to come get the door opened. She finally got a new door installed yesterday). It sounds like she's getting settled in down in Tallahassee, and that her grad school experience will be an exceptionally positive one. Part of me thinks that's not fair.

Clif rattled on and on for quite a while about a variety of things, mostly his enjoyment of his stay in Colorado. He also informed me that he and my father are coming over tomorrow to procure my vehicle to aid Scott in moving back to Alva on Saturday, and that he's going to be borrowing my Allman Brothers Band CD. The former isn't too big of a deal (maybe they'll wash and clean the car out for me while they've got it), but the latter annoys me a bit.

See, I got the CD back in late June. About a week or so after I got it, I loaned it to my uncle so he could make a copy of it. A few weeks later (the next time I saw my uncle), he gave it back to me...only to have my father borrow it before I even made it out of the driveway of my uncle's house. I grabbed the CD Monday when I stopped by home, but then left it sitting on the table by the couch when I was heading out to my car with my ice chest of food. So Clif informed me he was going to borrow it, which set me off a bit. But I arranged a trade--he's going to borrow the Allman Brothers, I'm going to borrow his new Clapton CD (Me and Mr. Johnson, the CD Clapton was touring for when I saw him). Guess I'll get my Allman Brothers CD back eventually...at least, I hope. I'd kinda like to listen to it at some point.

~chuck

Song of the Moment: Allman Brothers Band, "Whipping Post"

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

"The Heavens Move So Slow"

Ever get that feeling that the world around you is crumbling, and there's not a lot you can do about it? That everyone else is having these crises and transitions, and all you can do is sit in the rut you've worn, down in your groove while everything else flashes by at breakneck speed?

Yeah, me neither.

Beth's gone. I'm starting to figure out what that means (which is mostly that the time which I used to spend in her company--which was considerable during the spring semester--is now spent alone, for the most part). I'll cope, I'm sure, but it annoys me that I have to try to make new friends again. I was happy with the ones I had.

And therein lies an interesting bit of my psyche, laid bare before my own eyes--Beth's leaving saddens me, yes, but mostly it annoys me, because now there's a hole in my life that she was filling quite well. It means that I have to find new people--something that, while not necessarily easy, is at least a simple and straightforward (if time consuming) task. A task which I see as more of a nuisance than anything else.

Jess and Dom are a help, or will be, though they can only do so much--they are a married couple, and have their own concerns and plans to deal with. They know what they want, where they're going, what they will do or at least attempt to do. And Ev's got problems of his own, problems which--though I think I've found a flash of insight into how to help him with them--are still problems he needs to deal with himself, and he doesn't need my annoyance added to it.

In a way, I'm kinda cast adrift. Yeah, I know that's at odds with the rut metaphor, but it still applies. I don't know what I'm doing or dealing with. Yeah, I have troubles to contend with, and even issues I need to work through, but I haven't for a minute assumed I won't or can't work through most of them. My life is a series of annoyances--problems that don't seriously jeopardize my existence, but which do cause me irritation. Sometimes that irritation is on level with a bug buzzing around my head, and sometimes it's more akin to having sandpaper under my skin. Each irritation has a solution--swat the bug, or extract the sandpaper from under my skin by some means. It hasn't occured to me that there may not be any solutions for any of my current concerns. It hasn't occured to me that I won't get out of the rut, or find an anchor to keep me from drifting off on the tide. There's a surety about me, a sense that I'll solve my problems if given enough time or enough pressure to perform.

But is that a way for me to live? Sure, it gives me an easier time when dealing with problems than, say, Ev has, but is that necessarily a good thing? My life has lacked serious hardship thusfar because, to be quite honest, I'm a spoiled little bastard. I've had it easy my whole life. My concerns haven't been of life and death, but of which positive road to follow. I mean, hell, I've had the luxury of studying freakin' history, for crying out loud. And if the PhD thing doesn't work out, I've got other choices already lined up. Something will pan out there. And the thing with Beth leaving--yeah, it hurts that she's gone, but I'll make more friends. When Jess and Dom leave, I'll make other friends. When I leave here, and don't have Ev or any of the others around anymore, I'll make more friends. They won't be better or worse than the friends I've had here, just as the friends I've had here aren't any better or worse than the ones at Ozarks or even high school. They'll just be different friends.

My life is soft.

Whether this is ultimately good or bad has yet to become clear. I hope and pray it just means that my life will turn out as it ought to, and that I won't simply serve as an example of what not to be to future generations.

~chuck

Song of the Moment: Wilco, "We're Just Friends"
"If You've Never Stared Off Into The Distance Then Your Life Is A Shame"

Finally got in touch with my advisor. I have a meeting scheduled with him for Friday morning at 10.00. In preparation for this meeting, I've made all the corrections to the Master's Thesis which Ev suggested and printed out two or three copies of the paper (that way, I can give a revised copy to each member of my committee, all of whom are, amazingly enough, going to be teaching this semester. They're back from sabatical! Finally!). Hell, I've even got a list of classes I'd like to take. I am on the ball, man!

Yeah, stop snickering. There is a first time for everything, y'know.

Looks like my dead computer chair will get replaced soon. The welding started coming apart last week, as I might've mentioned, so it's really not a stable chair to sit in. But I talked with mom last night, and my dad has an old chair out at his office which belonged to my great-grandfather years and years ago. This chair is build solid, let me tell you--the thing could take a nuclear strike and still work. Plus the thing is damn comfortable and leans back until you're damn-near horizontal. How that will be advantageous is probably not something that'll ever enter into my existence.

I've been thinking recently about the variety of friends I have. Mostly I'm thinking in terms of personality and political/social orientation here. On one end of the spectrum, I have exceptionally liberal and progressive friends, such as Ev. At the other end of that spectrum, I have rather conservative friends, such as Jess and Dom. I get the feeling if I were ever to get all of my friends together in one world, the combined oppositional force would cause a collapse and implosion in the fabric of reality. While I'm able to get along with all of my friends, I get the feeling that many of them would not be able to get along with each other. As it stands, I can already think of a few off the top of my head who don't get along. But so it goes.

Part of me is amused by how Ev attempts to father me even as he resists the urge to do so. Mostly this is expressed in his concern for whether or not I'll be able to make more friends along the lines of what I have with Beth or him. Which kinda makes me laugh, 'cause he's worried I'm going to become an anti-social hermit of some sort, and seems to forget that I made friends with people like Beth and him this time around when I didn't know anyone coming in. I have a knack for making friends, or for falling into friendships accidentally. It's served me well so far, and though I know relying on such luck is probably not the safest way to make friends, I've been given no indication that I shouldn't rely on it. In short, I know I'll be okay. I may go through periods where I don't know many people, but I always find folks eventually.

Well, only 6 1/2 more hours of work to go! My, how the day flies!

~chuck

Song of the Moment: Wilco, "War on War"

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

"Chain Of Fools"

I'm having terrible artist's block today. I've drawn a couple of comics, but they look medicore at best. I already had tomorrow's comic drawn last week (when I was on a comic roll), and I got a couple more drawn today, but I wasn't particularly pleased with the look of the comics. They were just...bland, art-wise.

Started a new short story this afternoon. Dunno what I'll do with it quite yet, but I like what I've started.

I've been wondering this evening--if I were about to die, what would my last words be? I mean, if you're going to die in some entertainingly Hollywood fashion, you need a suitable one liner to go out on. Something like "Oh bugger" just doesn't quite do the moment justice. Nor does "Crap, I think I left the stove on." Knowing me, it'll be something completely inappropriate to the moment, like, "I knew I shouldn't have said yes to the gypsie who offerred me the magic ring." Assuming, of course, that I'm dying in a way that is in no way related to the gypsie, the ring, or the taking thereof.

Maybe I'm just still sleep deprived.

~chuck

Song of the Moment: Bob Dylan, "Visions of Johanna"
"It's All Over Now, Baby Blue"

I have this interesting analysis of Dylan's '60s music and albums that I want to do, but I don't want to mess with typing it all out right now, so I'll save that for a later post. I want to do it right, so I guess I'll work on it over the next few days and then upload it to the blog. The short of the analysis was that I think Dylan made a conscious effort to punish his audience for having expectations and assumptions about his music. It's something that I think I can make a pretty good argument about, if I take the time to work on it.

Having an interesting discussion with one of the students about ethnic cultural differences in battles of wits and terminology. Very interesting discussion, and proof positive that different races aren't as different in a lot of respects as a lot of people think.

~chuck

Song of the Moment: Bob Dylan, "Isis (Live)"

Monday, August 16, 2004

"If You Were Me, You'd Be Good Looking"

Just got done watching the movie Six String Samurai. It's a low-budget B film, but lots and lots of fun. The main character is a guitar-playing samurai named Buddy (as in Buddy Holly, whom the character's physical appearance is modelled after) who is wandering around in a post-apocalyptic world on his way to Lost Vegas, the last free city. Lost Vegas is in the market for a new King, as the King has just died (yes, Elvis was the King--this is a very bizzare movie), and Buddy thinks he'll fit the bill nicely. Along the way, he encounters an obnoxious orphan, murderous bowlers, Communist rock'n'rollers, the Russian Army, and Death, who is into heavy metal (Buddy's guitar style is something akin to late '50s surfer guitar, but it's very well-done surfer guitar). It's a funny, funny movie--I mean, it features a guy who carries around a guitar and a samurai sword, how could it not be funny? The movie really succeeds, though, because it never takes itself too seriously. When Death is in the middle of telling his henchmen that they've failed him for the last time and stops to comment on how much he likes the henchmens' shoes, and then you see him and his cohorts wearing those shoes in the very next scene...well, it's just too funny to believe, really.

Of course, it could just be that I really need more sleep. I'm not really sure.

In other news, my damn computer chair is broken. It broke middle of last week. The welding at the joint between the seat and the post that connects the seat proper to the lets has died, leaving me with a chair that I can sit in, but only if I don't lean back at all, and not very comfortably. Ah well. I think Dad has a chair out at the office which used to belong to my great-grandfather that I could use. This chair is older than I am, but it's constructed so solidly that it could take a direct hit with a nuclear bomb and still function...assuming you were wearing a hazzard suit and willing to sit in a radioactive chair.

~chuck

Song of the Moment: The Red Elvises, "Love Pipe"


"It Was On The Longest Night"

Since Friday evening, I've been to Florida and back. About 17 1/2 hours each way. That's a long drive, especially since I did most of the driving each way (Beth drove for a total of about six hours on the way down to Florida, and Dom drove for three or four on the way back). I've been awake for 26 of the past 27 hours (I took a one hour nap 'round about 3.00 am this morning while Dom drove for me). On top of all that, I'm at work, I'm sore, and I haven't eaten anything truly substantial since 4.30 pm yesterday.

But we got Beth to Florida okay. We got back okay. No accidents, no real problems, nothing to truly prevent us from arriving at our destination and returning safe and sound.

But damn am I tired from it all.

Ping is up to something interesting. I'm curious to see what comics she reviews on the site, and I'll definitely be following the site with great interest. Besides, I enjoy reading comic reviews, and she might provide me with a few new reads.

I'm actually going to be picking up a few extra hours this week (like almost doubling my hours for the week). This is very, very good. I need more hours.

Also, my first comic of the school year for the OU Daily will be appearing this Friday. I've already got the comic figured out in my head; now I just need to draw it.

~chuck

Song of the Moment: Bob Dylan, "Talking John Birch Paranoid Blues"

Friday, August 13, 2004

"Standing In The Alpha-Beta Parking Lot"

We're leaving in just a few hours...at least, I assume we are. I talked with Dom about an hour ago, and he said he'd be here in an hour...Beth left an hour and a half ago, saying she'd be gone for half an hour or an hour tops to get her car fixed...I've seen neither hide nor hair of either one since then.

Beth and I did beat Crystal Chronicles last night. Took us a few tries, though--the way the stage is designed, you really don't have much in the way of depth perception, and it's hard to see your character with all the dangerous magic the enemy is throwing at you constantly. Anyway, you defeat Raem, the devourer of memories, and then you end up back in your world, right when you left (you get transported to a different place for the final battle--prior to your transportation, you were in combat with the monster that creates all the miasma which is slowly destroying your world. Raem stops you from administering a killer blow that first time). Anyway, we pop back into reality, and see the enemy there before us. His lifebar starts filling back up, and Beth gets this sense of foreboding--we're gonna have to fight the parasite again. I run up and smack it with my weapon, and it dies. I look over at Beth and say, "wow, that was hard." Cue spiffy full-CGI animation ending thingie, cue credits and end music, and The End, Game Over, we've beaten it. Beth looks over at me and says, "That was rather anti-climactic." Yeah, but it was still pretty, and I have a sense of satisfaction at having beaten that game finally.

Well, barring violent, rain-soaked death by hurricane, I'll be back sometime Monday, I believe. Monday's comic is thankfully already uploaded--that's one less thing to have to worry about, at least.

~chuck

Song of the Moment: Opening Theme to Crystal Chronicles
"I'm A Lover And I'm A Sinner"

We're leaving tomorrow afternoon to take Beth to Tallahassee. The excitement is that about the time we arrive in Florida, so does Hurrican Charley. Yeah, we picked a great weekend to move Beth down to Florida, really.

Should be able to have comics done for the days I'll be gone--the comics for Friday and Saturday are already uploaded, and Monday's is scanned but still needs lettering and resizing and uploading. We'll see how it goes.

Also, Beth and I ought to be able to finally beat Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles tonight. We hope. Maybe not. We'll see.

~chuck

Song of the Moment: Steve Miller Band, "The Joker"

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

"Take Me Back To South Tallahassee"

Beth will arrive this afternoon, which makes me rather happy. After spending nearly a year in her company on a near-constant basis, this past summer has felt rather empty. Granted, I probably shouldn't get too used to having her around again, since we're taking her to Florida to start grad school later this week. But it'll be good to hang out with her for a few days anyway.

The apartment's still a bit of a mess, so I'm going to try to pick things up a bit before I go pick her up at the airport. Poor girl has a connection through Chicago and Dallas, so God only knows when she'll actually show up in OKC. Time will tell, I guess.

In other news, I'm wearing pants, which probably comes as a surprise to many. In yet other news, I highly recommend the band Wilco for all your musical needs. Every album of theirs which I have heard is a wonderful conglomeration of American music, blending different styles and feelings seamlessly and with a deft brilliance. Go find some of their stuff right now. Do it.

~chuck

Song of the Moment: Wilco, "I'm the Man Who Loves You"
"Music Is My Savior"

I do not deserve to have the parents I have. I'm just not anywhere near as good a son as they ought to have, really.

See, for the past semester or two, I've been pretty damn unmotivated. I've made all these big plans, and failed to follow through on them. I've squandered time and resources dragging my feet.

I've also been horrible with my finances. I spend way more money than I ought to, and usually on frivolous and unnecessary things. The only reason I was able to go to Arkansas last week was because my mother gave me the money for the trip (it amounted to about $280 all told, 'cause she gave me money for gas and food and for the tux rental for Adam's wedding). Admittedly, I tried to watch my budgeting on that trip, and did a fairly decent job--I came back with some of the money still in my pocket. The only reason that happened was that Adam's parents were exceptionally generous and fed me at least one meal per day for the week I was in Clarksville.

Anyway, as I might've mentioned, I'm supposed to help take Beth and all her stuff down to Florida later this week. This is going to be something of an expensive (albeit short and quick) trip--we're driving down there, dropping her off, and coming back. We're not even staying overnight anywhere on the way down, but just driving straight through so we can get there and back quicker (Jess has to be back for work on Monday). While gas in Oklahoma and even Arkansas isn't too bad as far as price is concerned (and seems to be dropping, actually--I only paid $1.59/gallon earlier this afternoon), it's a long trip, and my car will be laden with Beth's stuff, the air conditioner will run the whole time, and my gas mileage is gonna go down the proverbial crapper.

On top of this expense, I have rent to pay tomorrow. I deposited a paycheck this afternoon, bringing the contents of my checking account up to a whopping $400. Rent is $472. The trip to Florida is going to cost somewhere between $150-$200 when all's said and done. You can see the obvious problem here.

So I called mom up this evening to ask her to transfer some money from my savings account to my checking account. As all conversations about my finances tend to, this conversation quickly turned into my mother and I bickering at each other about my spending habits. This, in turn, morphed into a heated discussion of my inability to accomplish my planned goals--goals which, it should be pointed out, I set for myself and then fail to meet. Most of my conversations with my mother for the past several months have followed this pattern, and I've gotten rather tired of it. The problem is that mom thinks she's pointing out my past mistakes and screw-ups in a way that she thinks will allow me to learn from them. Unfortunately, the way I'm perceiving her comments can be summed up as this: "Chuck, you're a fuck-up."

Anyway, when the conversation took the inevitable turn towards my problem with completing my goals, I decided I didn't want that lecture tonight. So I exploded. I chewed my mom out. I told her off for constantly riding my ass about every little thing, and told her that the way she kept bringing up my failings just sent the "Chuck, you're a fuck-up" signal (and that was the phrase I used when I talked to her). I yelled, I lost my temper, I vented my anger, I acted bitter and resentful and spiteful. Partly I did it because that's really how I feel about the way she keeps reminding me. I know she means well, but her tone of voice always seems to imply that she thinks I'm just a fuck-up.

Mostly, though, I did it because I knew, deep down, that she's right, and that's a hard thing to face.

Anyway, after I calmed down (which happened eventually), we agreed that she'd transfer $300 from my savings account tomorrow so I could pay rent and go to Florida. Then we hung up.

Ten minutes later, the phone rings. It's mom again. She says that she and my father discussed things, and they decided that since I didn't really get a vacation (well, aside from going to Arkansas for weddings and this trip to Florida, the latter of which really isn't that much of a vacation and the former being more of a quick jaunt to Arkansas, never the paradisical hotspot in the U.S.), they were going to give me an additional $300 on top of the $300 transferred from savings.

This is, mind you, after I'd spent a good ten minutes yelling at her the last time we'd talked. Needless to say, I was speechless for a minute, and felt very, very worthless. There was no way I deserved that extra money. Here I'd gone off on my mother, chewing her out for having my best interests at heart, and she turns around and just gives me more money.

Well, I thanked her as profusely as I was capable of at that moment, and apologized equally profusely and humbly for yelling at her. I just...I dunno, I've been so worried about money of late, especially since I seem incapable of controlling my spending habits. It's kept me up nights, it's worried me sick, it made me break down in tears when I was talking with mom earlier about how I wasn't sure how I was going to pay rent in September or afford tuition or pay for books (that was right before I started yelling at her). And then she turns around and...does this. Just hands over a pile of cash, no strings attached, no real reason other than she wanted me to have it and wanted me to be able to do the things I want to do. That's how my parents have always been--never extravagent, but always willing to provide for my brothers and me and grant us the ability (if it was within their power to do so) to do anything we really wanted or needed to do.

I don't deserve the parents I have, but I'm damn happy that I have them. I'm grateful for them, and I know damn well that I don't tell them that often enough. I think I'm going to start, though.

~chuck

Song of the Moment: Wilco, "Sunken Treasure"

Monday, August 09, 2004

"You Always Got To Be Prepared, But You Never Know For What"

It's Media Day here at the OU Athletic Department, which means that all the fans of the football team get to come out to the stadium and see the football players and stuff of that nature. It's basically a big hoopla publicity thing that they do every year to pimp out the football program. What it means for us is that there are people everywhere around the stadium today. There's a line that I can see outside our window running from one end of the stadium to the other...and these are just the people outside of the stadium on this side. It's ridiculous--all those people in crimson t-shirts standing around for hours just to catch a glimpse of college students in shoulder pads.

Anyway, this thing will hopefully be done with by the time I leave work later this afternoon. If it's not...well, I'll have to do something drastic. Like take a few of them out with the bumper of my car. I mean, it's called a bumper for a reason, right?

I still haven't had a chance to catch up on webcomics since I got home. I missed almost two weeks of updates (the only comic I really kept up with over my vacation was the Jaded, 'cause the archives on it are still pay-only since it's on Graphic Smash). That's a whole heckuva mess of comics to look at, and I'll probably just get caught up in time to leave again and miss another four or five days' worth of comics. Eesh.

~chuck

Song of the Moment: Aerosmith, "Last Child"

Sunday, August 08, 2004

"I Once Was Lost, But Now I'm Found"

Found the checkbook! It was hiding in the recliner. The damn thing had slid down by the armrest and was hidden by the cushion, where I was checking on a whim ('cause I often just toss stuff on the chair and hope it stays there). That's one mystery solved. Now the only mystery is how I'm gonna pay rent and afford the trip to Florida this week.

~chuck
"I Keep The Wolf From The Door"

Well, finally back in Norman, a good week and a half after I left. Apartment looks the same as I left it--dirty dishes in the sink, dust on the floors, stuff piled up everywhere. At least no cockroaches seem to have moved in during my absence, which is a blessing.

Mowed my parents' lawn in Shawnee this morning, which is something I haven't done in four or five years at least. Got it done just before the rain hit, too, so that was good.

I cannot find my damn checkbook. I'm pretty sure it ought to be here in the apartment, 'cause I thought I'd taken it out of my bag before I left for Arkansas a week and a half ago. But I cannot find it anywhere here. It's not in my bag, my car, or the apartment (at least, not anywhere I've looked thusfar). Couldn't find it at my parents' place, either, so I have no idea where my checkbook is. This is bad. I have to pay rent tomorrow and deposit my paycheck (should probably do those in reverse order, though, 'cause otherwise there's nowhere near enough money in the account to pay rent, and I really don't want to bounce a check). Needless to say, I'm a little perturbed about the missing checkbook.

On a more positive note, I got a phone message from Beth this afternoon, and she'll be back in Oklahoma Tuesday afternoon. I'm still not really sure when we're leaving or what route we're taking or anything like that, but I'm confident all the pieces will fall into place when they're supposed to.

~chuck

Song of the Moment: David Gray, "Kangaroo"

Saturday, August 07, 2004

"The Wedding Song"

Well, Adam and Andria's wedding went very well. The wedding ceremony itself was very touching, with Adam's dad officiating the marriage. You could tell he was very proud--he kept having to choke back tears of pride and joy in the match his eldest son had made. The small children involved behaved themselves (as well as small children can), and no one fell or fainted or anything.

Anyway, I head home tomorrow sometime. I've done everything I set out to do on this trip, save for visiting with Amanda Erisman, who was supposed to show up to the wedding and didn't. I haven't been able to get ahold of her, either. I'd be worried, except that this is Amanda, and she often doesn't answer my phonecalls.

All the weddings (those I've attended and not been able to attend thusfar and those forthcoming) have got me thinking. I'm not mopey because I'm still single and most of the people I know are married or at least seeing someone. I could really care less about that, and I'm genuinely happy that my friends have found another individual with whom to spend the rest of their lives. I wish all my newly-married (and those not-so newly married) the very, very best in life, and hope their days together will be filled with joy and wonder. But I do kinda wonder if I have anything like what Adam's been able to find in store for me. Adam's father commented that over the last few days, things have been understandably stressful for all those involved. But he'd noticed that Adam and Andria sort of wrapped themselves around one another, protecting each other from the stress and annoyances. It was mostly little things--picking up something from a particular place of business associated with the wedding, or taking care of someone for a moment, or taking the dog for a walk. These little things all added up. Adam and Andria are so committed to one another, I don't think either one can possibly conceive of an existence now where the other one is not a part of their lives. It's a very touching thing, really. We'd all be so lucky to have that, I think.

Anyway, next week is my trip to Florida with Beth, Jess, and Dom. I'll be having to pack light for that trip, since most of the stuff that'll be going into my car will be Beth's, and there won't be much room for extra stuff. That trip's going to be even harder than this one--we're going further, taking roads I have never personally driven (I've driven between Shawnee and Clarksville probably close to 100 times, and even the roads to Little Rock and El Dorado I've driven a few times at least. While I've been down to Florida many times, I've never driven there), and I'll have to make the trip back by myself. But I'm borrowing my grandfather's walkie-talkies for the trip, so those'll come in handy for communication between the cars.

Which reminds me--I need to call Beth tomorrow evening, probably...

~chuck

Song of the Moment: Wilco, "Heavy Metal Drummer"

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

"August And Everything After"

Made it to Clarksville okay. Heather's wedding went well on Saturday--everything looked good, we had no calamaties or casualties, and it was endearing to see the groom break down in tears when the bride walked into the sanctuary. Gave me a much higher opinion of him. It also set all the bridesmaids to crying, which set off the mothers. But a lovely wedding all the same.

Stayed over at my friend Karen's house Sunday night up in Little Rock. I hadn't realized that it'd been over a year since I'd seen her. She's doing well, but I think she's ready to start school back again.

Monday, I left Karen's place and headed to Clarksville. I was supposed to crash at Amanda Webster's place, but I couldn't get ahold of her. I tried calling about two dozen times, but her cellphone is apparently messed up. Anyway, I ended up crashing at Adam's parents' place instead, where it looks like I'll spend the rest of the week (since Amanda had to go back home for her brother's surgery earlier this evening). But that's okay--it just means I'm closer to where I need to be for wedding stuff.

Preparations for Adam and Andria's wedding on Friday are going well. The reception hall is already decorated, and they'll prepare the sanctuary for the ceremony tomorrow evening after church.

Found out that several of my favorite people at Ozarks won't be returning in the fall. Reverend Woodard (the school chaplain), Jeff Blackard (a coordinator over in the Learning Center and one of the coolest guys on earth), and a half dozen other employees were all let go at the end of the spring semester for various reasons, mostly related to budget apparently. It just saddens me to realize that some of the people who made Ozarks the special place it was for me won't be there anymore.

Anyway, tomorrow (today) I need to go visit my old advisor and mentor, Dr. Dippel. I'm in dire need of some sagelike advice, and my current advisor (while an intelligent man, a great historian, and a nice enough guy) isn't really helping me all that much (especially with being out of town and all). Hopefully Dippel will be able to provide me with some useful guidance...or he may just be sarcastic. It's always hard to tell with him.

Things to do still while here in Clarksville:
1) Visit Dippel
2) Get tuxes (they'll supposedly be ready tomorrow...we hope)
3) Attend rehersal and wedding
4) Visit with Amanda Erisman (hopefully happening Thursday and/or Friday...I miss that girl dearly and haven't gotten to see her yet)
5) Rock the house
Simple enough list, right?

~chuck

Song of the Moment: Wilco, "War on War"