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July 1, 2023

Today Cora and I had a longer than usual weekly call and we did some excellent Minecraft-ing.

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The distance view - the house on top (low key the nicest detail was the cherry blossom tree), the pen for the new "Sniffer" MOB we raised from an egg, and between my proudest contribution, a big organic-looking walkway I made (even though in creative mode we fly all the time time it's nice to make it more like a real space)

Cora really impresses on interior design, here is the kitchen of our mountain top cottage-core-themed house.

And the bunkbeds upstairs... not shown were some bookshelves downstairs I was heartened to see her include

Also we had a secret underground science lab (some design cues from "Portal". It was set up to help her clone her beloved wolf pup Hachiko, but to practice we had a cloned creeper she is looking at here who became the lab mascot- she names all such pets she doesn't care about "Jeff", which was extra funny when I found out it's A. because of Jeff Bezos but B. she didn't know who Jeff Bezos is, she just picked on the name)

After the successful main cloning we did more Portal-like "science" in testing traps on a "Warden" monster in a nearby auxiliary testing area cave

Final overhead shot. Good day of crafting!

photos of the month july 2023


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I'm not fully endorsing this view but I think it's thought-provoking...
Here's what I suspect: mentally healthy people, if they still exist, aren't healthy because of the constant presence of positive feelings of self. They are healthy because of the habitual absence of any feelings of self at all. (I guarantee you this is already a thing in psychology or some 19th century German philosophy but it's proving stubbornly resistant to my Googling.) Where we've gone wrong as a civilization in terms of understanding confidence is in thinking of it as a presence, as an emotion. But I think what we perceive as confidence is simply not constantly thinking about yourself and your value. That's more real and sustainable to me than thinking about yourself all the time and consistently feeling good about what you find. Unfortunately it seems like not thinking about yourself is what many modern people find hardest of all.
Personally my guess is that the problem is people getting driven by too much raw emotion connected to how they want the world to be different (sometimes themselves included). I'm not sure I fully avoid "thinking about yourself and your value" - but when I do consider myself in an evaluative way, it's with a weird dose of "fixed mindset" that assures me I'm an ok mix of smart, funny, and capable, and that's not going to change (but! In return I shouldn't look too hard for where my limits actually are - that's my deal with my "positive fixed mindset devil").
UPDATE: On FB Nick (who has a set of challenges based on his albinism) sent me this HealthyGamer_gg video, and I wrote back:

Yeah, that's a pretty good video. Like when I think of what knocked me down a few levels - not getting into a high school NASA internship, swinging and missing with getting into the top of the Ivy league (only swung because of their invitations probably based on SAT scores), chasing an intermittently requited big romance in college (another mindful big swing but then I couldn't let go of the bat or whatever the metaphor is), a few chewing outs at work for slacking off (mostly slacking because of anxiety about the task showing the limits of my competence)... those are all specific events that were those nuggets of trauma it talks about.

But here's the thing - the video focuses on where the lost confidence doesn't have its roots in reality (like the "wet butt" water bottle mocking example) but, sometimes the traumatic event really has its basis in reality. And so I think the problem is acceptance of what those limits are, along with some confidence that you can muddle through whatever happens, and through mindfulness still find parts to enjoy and savor. Not getting too emotionally attached to outcomes you would hope for, I think that's the most important part of the non-attachment a Buddhist might encourage.

And it's a balance, because a dose of somewhat naive optimism - sometimes (but not always) less grounded in reality than the depressive "why bother" - is a good motive force. But like I get you - like for me "it's better to try and fail" seems like bunk, because "not trying and not succeeding" gets about the same results (except for not providing practice) but is much easier on the ego.

june 2023 new music playlist

OK month for music.

4 star:
* Romeo And Juliet (2022 Remaster) (Dire Straits)
(I went on an Indigo Girls kick, and tracked back to the original thinking of their cover that I've always liked. (Also Douglas Adams praises the romantic qualities of some Dire Straits albums, I wonder if this song is part of it.))

* Express Yourself (Remix) (N.W.A)
(Good hip hop with great sample (Years ago a friend of a friend put this beat under a riff I made on a Casio SK-8 .. https://kirk.is/2003/04/27/))

* Born This Way (Lady Gaga)
(Leftist Marching Band plays this song, and I've been toying with an arrangement for my bands. Great message. Interesting how Madonna "Express Yourself" it's like.)

* What's Up Danger (Blackway & Black Caviar)
(Heather Anne Campbell mentioned this song getting her through the time of her double mastectomy. I don't absolutely love the song, but the attitude of helping turn anxiety about threats into excitement seems so useful. )

* The Battle of New Orleans (Digitally Remastered) (Johnny Horton)
(I remember my mom singing this song for me way back when... "We fired our guns and the British kept a-comin' /
There wasn't as many as there was a while ago")

3 star:
* Trash Day (Parody of "Hot In Herre" By Nelly) ("Weird Al" Yankovic)
* Predator (Yvng Patra)
* I've No More Fucks To Give (feat. Damian Clark) (Thomas Benjamin Wild Esq)
* All That You Are (Bear's Den)
* A Box of Porn in the Woods (Heels)
* Nomad Shuffle (Southside Aces)
* The Drunkard Song (There Is a Tavern In the Town) (Rudy Vallée)
* Mowin' Down the Roses (Jamey Johnson)
* Into the Great Wide Open (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers)
This "Pac-Man meets Sinistar" cracked me up.
(by Tom Northrop, via Atari Force - - Hmm - I guess the glider harkens from Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures)

July 4, 2023

toys.alienbill.com/2023july4 - a July 4th Virtual Card for you! (photosensitivity warning)

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July 5, 2023


I've been thinking about this, but how my version is
Whenever I'm about to procrastinate on tackling something I think "Is putting off the thing likely to make the problem it addresses better or likely to make it worse?" And if putting it off would not make it better, I go do that thing now.

July 6, 2023

https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/player-piano/ cool podcast on electronic music protopioneer Raymond Scott- but you may be most familiar with the use of his song powerhouse in Looney Tunes cartoons.

Another interesting animation: The song name comes across as a bit racist (but not meanly so, like beyond the idea of "cigar store wooden indians" anyway), but it offers a glimpse into how Raymond Scott constructed Songs

July 7, 2023

Today Melissa and I went to Half Moon Beach in Gloucester's Stage Fort Park.

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July 8, 2023


pool day


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July 10, 2023


It's a big sky. Lots of room.
Dr. Freeze in "Pushing Tin"

July 11, 2023

I'm not sure if I ever posted this James Harvey piece I use on my business cards:

It's based on an outfit I don't wear much anymore (the "infamous sexy cop onesie" - with boots instead of my signature sandals)
(here's the same image but with a big amount of padding so I can center in circle based avatars)

Here are the photos I've been tending to use for profiles. That's the same Alien Bill I drew as a high schooler that I have as a tattoo - but only some people know who Alien Bill is, or why. The other shot I'm a little sick of its McKayla Maroney-ish smile, and frankly my side beard is more gray than that now.

July 12, 2023

Damn, Google... wasn't expecting the first search results (admittedly "sponsored" but part of Google's scam is to get companies to sponsor their own organic results lest they be sniped) like this:

To lead to a page like that:

Even if I had looked at the "what URL is this actually" bit, it starts "https://www.googleadservices.com/pagead/aclk?" and is probably legit - Google Ad Services just didn't vet the link properly - even if it wasn't a scam site when reviewed, why one earth are they allowing other folks to advertise themselves as "Google Sheets"?
Fellow dataviz lovers! Nice set of visualizations at pleated-jeans - I liked this one showing the orbits of planets as seen from Earth, but the one it starts with (different piano notes reverberating in water) is great too, and most of them are cool.

July 13, 2023

A thread on Palindrome's mentioned Weird Al's "Bob" but I was more taken by the visual in this:

I do love the American Traditional tattoo style and this video had a lot of fun with it.

July 14, 2023

"Earth is gone! we're the only two humans left in the universe!"
"Oh God I'm sorry, Leela"
"Maybe this was meant to be- maybe you and I were meant to build a new world here..."
"We can avoid humanity's mistakes."
"Like the tuba!"
"Yes! We'll be like Adam and Eve."
"Only without the tuba."
Screw you Futurama :-P

Minor UX win...

I made a minimalistic free shared white board program, kirk.is-drawing ( https://kirk.is/drawing/ ) - actually it came in useful as a whiteboard for an interview today!

I forked a version of it as a drawing program with my niece during our weekly calls, and I was pleased it was straightforward to steal a UX trick I noticed for drawing in Apple Notes - they put the strokes from the broad highlighter tool BEHIND the strokes made by the fine tip pen. The resulting outline-centric approach is a nice cheap cartoon-y visual style. (Shown in the crude trackpad doodle here)

July 15, 2023

Liz came over and Melissa and I and her tackled a project where, since Melissa and I will be vacationing, we need to make a way to block the cat from hiding under the couch when the cat sitter needs to give him medicines. (the couch is a mid-century modern IKEA modular L thing)

So our first approach with weather sealing tape was obviously not going to hold, so we ended up with low cardboard pallets (from Dean's canned food, plus a few misc boxes) all around blocked by black duct tape. It's not great if you look close but we did a neatish job of it and you might not notice if you weren't looking for it. And most importantly I think it will be enough to dissuade Dean.

But it's another one of those "dang I'm glad I never got around to throwing those cardboard pallets!" situations, like those stupid rebuttals to the decluttering I would like to be doing more of...


I used to think emotions "just happened" and were illogical. I was a victim of my own feelings. I finally got curious enough to start challenging those feelings about feelings, and after years of exploring, I learned emotions actually have a very clear set of rules and structures.

Over a decade ago I wrote about learning to decode this language, here's a key part:

Basic Emotion ... Why We Have It
Anger ... To fight against problems
Anticipation ... To look forward and plan
Joy ... To remind us what's important
Trust ... To connect with people who help
Fear ... To protect us from danger
Surprise ... To focus us on new situations
Sadness ... To connect us with those we love
Disgust ... To reject what is unhealthy
Joshua Freedman
via my friend John K Sawers. And the link included this image:

"from @Mansi on IG reminded me of this life changing journey"
I would add ones too like:

Acceptance ... To cope with an imperfect world
Happiness ... To value what is good

I think those are great reminders about the purpose various emotions carry. I still get hung up on how sometimes - especially the negative or unpleasant emotions like anger or fear - aren't wise enough to recognize the limits they should have. They want the rest of the organism to burn with them. (and sometimes aren't wise but are often deviously clever.)

I've played with the idea that the main counter for an emotion might be another emotion. The urge for Happiness teaming up with Acceptance in telling the urge for Anger to calm the hell down. Maybe when those cross interactions happen early enough, less disruption occurs?

Like I've said, one of my strongest (countering?) emotions is an urge to align myself with a greater good - and I think this emotion is talented, sometimes too talented, at talking down other emotions before they get all fired up. So my personal preferences, my subjective happiness triggers, still matter, but mostly as validated by the idea that everyone should be seeking their individual joys.

I don't know. Is "Acceptance" an emotion in and of itself? I think it's pretty core at the regulation of the other ones. Stopping Anger and Fear from setting everything on fire, stopping Joy from turning us in hedonistic junkies...

Now that I think about it my drive towards Acceptance is really prominent. I can blame it for teaming up with Fear, say, and stopping me from taking too many big swings in life. Also, it lets me be comfortable with and find the cool parts of a much broader swath of people than I would otherwise. Like, I have a surprising number of somewhat incompatible friends, because some of quirks that get under the other's skin in a way that just slides off mine, possibly completely unnoticed...

But most of all maybe Acceptance is the base of that "natural philosophical antidepressent" I seem to be on. It cuts the lows of Fear and Anger. And it doesn't rule out Joy and Happiness, though I do worry it takes the peaks off of some of them...

Low-key obsessed with this photo of Cora's Bearded Dragon Loki. Something about the textures of the back, leg, and cushion, and the limited palette...

July 17, 2023

The secret to getting the most fun out of life is: *to live dangerously*.
Build your cities on the slopes of Vesuvius! Send your ships into unknown seas! Live at war with your peers and with yourself!
Friedrich Nietzsche

Don't you know that when you sleep with someone, your body makes a promise whether you do or not?
Vanilla Sky

I have found that it's useful to begin the conversation with a discussion not of homosexuality but of left-handedness. One hundred years ago, left-handedness was considered *pathological*: an abnormal condition requiring intervention to change the individual from left-handed to right-handed. The belief that left-handedness was abnormal was not unique to that era: on the contrary, that belief has been shared by many cultures in many eras, often with an added connotation linking left-handedness with evil or weakness. The Latin word for "left," *sinistra*, is also the source of our word "sinister." The Old English word *lyft*, from which we get our word "left," meant "weak" or "weakness." The French word *gauche* means both "left" and "clumsy" or "inept." One century ago it was common for teachers to "correct" left-handed children, forcing them to write with their right hand instead of their left. President Harry Truman recalled being forced to write with his right hand as a child instead of his left. All that began to change around the middle of the twentieth century, in part due to recognition that left-handedness is common and that left-handedness is innate. It's now generally recognized that between 7 percent and 10 percent of the population is left-handed. And it's equally well recognized today that left-handedness is innate, even though left-handedness sometimes is not clearly manifest until early or middle childhood.
Leonard Sax, "Why Gender Matters", 2nd Edition
Read this for a reading group I'm in. I think he does a pretty well researched job about how some innate differences between men and women are hardwired, and he plays lip service to the idea that people should be given more reign to explore their realities and preferences outside of those stereotypes, but falls into the trap of misunderestimating how much expectations have snowballed, and there's a whole lot of "must be" derived from "usually is"

from Kurt Vonnegut's "Timequake"

All persons, living and dead, are purely coincidental.
Kurt Vonnegut, pre-Prologue of "Timequake"

I say in speeches that a plausible mission of artists is to make people appreciate being alive at least a little bit. I am then asked if I know of any artists who pulled that off. I reply, "The Beatles did."
Kurt Vonnegut, "Timequake"

The African-American jazz pianist Fats Waller had a sentence he used to shout when his playing was absolutely brilliant and hilarious. This was it: "Somebody shoot me while I'm happy!"
Kurt Vonnegut, "Timequake"

I gave advice, too. I said, "My uncle Alex Vonnegut, a Harvard-educated life insurance salesman who lived at 5033 North Pennsylvania Street, taught me something very important. He said that when things were really going well we should be sure to notice it. "He was talking about simple occasions, not great victories: maybe drinking lemonade on a hot afternoon in the shade, or smelling the aroma of a nearby bakery, or fishing and not caring if we catch anything or not, or hearing somebody all alone playing a piano really well in the house next door. "Uncle Alex urged me to say this out loud during such epiphanies: 'If this isn't nice, what is?' "
Kurt Vonnegut, "Timequake"
(I try to put that in to practice myself.)
We are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.
Kurt Vonnegut's son Mark Vonnegut via "Timequake"

Humanists try to behave decently and honorably without any expectation of rewards or punishments in an afterlife. The creator of the Universe has been to us unknowable so far. We serve as well as we can the highest abstraction of which we have some understanding, which is our community.
Kurt Vonnegut, "Timequake"

The German philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, who had syphilis, said that only a person of deep faith could afford the luxury of religious skepticism. Humanists, by and large educated, comfortably middle-class persons with rewarding lives like mine, find rapture enough in secular knowledge and hope. Most people can't.
Kurt Vonnegut, "Timequake"

I say in lectures in 1996 that fifty percent or more of American marriages go bust because most of us no longer have extended families. When you marry somebody now, all you get is one person.

I say that when couples fight, it isn't about money or sex or power. What they're really saying is, "You're not enough people!"

Sigmund Freud said he didn't know what women wanted. I know what women want. They want a whole lot of people to talk to.
Kurt Vonnegut, "Timequake"

I do not propose to discuss my love life. I will say that I still can't get over how women are shaped, and that I will go to my grave wanting to pet their butts and boobs. I will say, too, that lovemaking, if sincere, is one of the best ideas Satan put in the apple she gave to the serpent to give to Eve. The best idea in that apple, though, is making jazz.
Kurt Vonnegut, "Timequake"

But as I have reported elsewhere, [my sister Allie] said, "Just because you're talented, that doesn't mean you have to do something with it."
Kurt Vonnegut, "Timequake"

Our last conversation was intimate. Jane asked me, as though I knew, what would determine the exact moment of her death. She may have felt like a character in a book by me. In a sense she was. During our twenty-two years of marriage, I had decided where we were going next, to Chicago, to Schenectady, to Cape Cod. It was my work that determined what we did next. She never had a job. Raising six kids was enough for her.

I told her on the telephone that a sunburned, raffish, bored but not unhappy ten-year-old boy, whom we did not know, would be standing on the gravel slope of the boat-launching ramp at the foot of Scudder's Lane. He would gaze out at nothing in particular, birds, boats, or whatever, in the harbor of Barnstable, Cape Cod.

At the head of Scudder's Lane, on Route 6A, one-tenth of a mile from the boat-launching ramp, is the big old house where we cared for our son and two daughters and three sons of my sister's until they were grownups. Our daughter Edith and her builder husband, John Squibb, and their small sons, Will and Buck, live there now.

I told Jane that this boy, with nothing better to do, would pick up a stone, as boys will. He would arc it over the harbor. When the stone hit the water, she would die.

Jane could believe with all her heart anything that made being alive seem full of white magic. That was her strength. She was raised a Quaker, but stopped going to meetings of Friends after her four happy years at Swarthmore. She became an Episcopalian after marrying Adam, who remained a Jew. She died believing in the Trinity and Heaven and Hell and all the rest of it. I'm so glad. Why? Because I loved her.
Kurt Vonnegut, "Timequake"

"Of native talent itself I say in speeches: 'If you go to a big city, and a university is a big city, you are bound to run into Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Stay home, stay home.'

" To put it another way: No matter what a young person thinks he or she is really hot stuff at doing, he or she is sooner or later going to run into somebody in the same field who will cut him or her a new asshole, so to speak.
Kurt Vonnegut, "Timequake"
I think this is more true than ever with Social Media... people get so good at stuff its absolutely intimidating (on the other hand, sometimes they teach you how to do stuff that impresses the locals...maybe it balances out.)
Listen: We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different!
Kurt Vonnegut, "Timequake"

[On writing books in an age of movies and TV] Still and all, why bother? Here's *my* answer: Many people need desperately to receive this message: "I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people don't care about them. You are not alone."
Kurt Vonnegut, "Timequake"

But I now ask you to look precisely at one [twinkling star], and then precisely at the other."
"OK," I said, "I did it."
"It took a second, do you think?" he said.
"No more," I said.
"Even if you'd taken an hour," he said, "something would have passed between where those two heavenly bodies used to be, at, conservatively speaking, a million times the speed of light."
"What was it?" I said.
"Your awareness," he said. "That is a new quality in the Universe, which exists only because there are human beings. Physicists must from now on, when pondering the secrets of the Cosmos, factor in not only energy and matter and time, but something very new and beautiful, which is *human awareness.*"
Trout paused, ensuring with the ball of his left thumb that his upper dental plate would not slip when he said his last words to us that enchanted evening.
All was well with his teeth. This was his finale: "I have thought of a better word than *awareness*," he said. "Let us call it *soul*." He paused.
"Ting-a-ling?" he said.
Kurt Vonnegut, "Timequake"

An ode to grids. Love the petri-dish animation. I spent a lot of time with graph paper, both in high school and then at one job when it was my notebook was graphpaper - making 2D and 3D fonts and playing with the constraints.

Was hoping I could tempt Cora into getting her head around coordinate systems via Minecraft but it feels too much like school to her :-(
Heh, kind of similar to that last one : the desmise of the 10x programmer points out this one generation of coders, growing up with 80s home computers and then some later still hackable things, and the early DIY web... may end up being a more special era than we realized
Nice practical piece on using various AIs

July 19, 2023

So yesterday's finishing of "Timequake" completed this suggested reading order of all the Vonnegut Novels (Starting last year, and a few were rereads). Cat's Cradle (and its study in how a thoughtfully designed religion could be) and Slaughterhouse Five (with its vivid reminder of how time could just be a big 4D block we go through one little 3D slice at a time) remain my favorites, but "Bluebeard" (with its musing on aging and artistry and abstract impressionism, though maybe I'm mixing it up with the great speech on Abstract Impressionism Karabekian gives in "Breakfast of Champions" ) was a great find, my reread of "Galapagos" seemed appropriately apocalyptic, and while the person who compiled this list 2 years ago didn't think much of it, the issues of automation and human dignity and work in his debut novel "Player Piano" really stood out as prescient and timely.
Protestors using weird funny bible verses at anti-abortion rallies.

July 20, 2023


July 21, 2023

RIP Tony Bennett

July 22, 2023

Floaty Fun at Myles Standish State Forest...

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July 23, 2023


July 24, 2023


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July 25, 2023


that memory foam mattress
with too many memories
kirk israel
(poem I just wrote for the Blender of Love, from a conversation over the weekend)

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July 26, 2023

RIP Sinead O'Connor. I think she had a point.

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July 27, 2023

Some thoughts about excuses and also disability porn

Cool tale about the fall of Rome (which kind of didn't happen, or at least not in the "slowly at first then all at once" sense most people think of) and what's going on with Twitter/"X"
The best way to spot an idiot? Look for the person who is cruel. When we see someone who doesn't look like us, or sound like us, or act like us, or love like us, or live like us -- the first thought that crosses almost everyone's brain is rooted in either fear or judgment or both. That's evolution. We survived as a species by being suspicious of things we aren't familiar with.

In order to be kind, we have to shut down that animal instinct and force our brain to travel a different pathway. Empathy and compassion are evolved states of being. They require the mental capacity to step past our most primal urges. I'm here to tell you that when someone's path through this world is marked with acts of cruelty, they have failed the first test of an advanced society. They never forced their animal brain to evolve past its first instinct. They never forged new mental pathways to overcome their own instinctual fears. And so, their thinking and problem-solving will lack the imagination and creativity that the kindest people have in spades.

Over my many years in politics and business, I have found one thing to be universally true: the kindest person in the room is often the smartest.
Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker
via, who links to a tweet with the full video

July 28, 2023


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July 29, 2023


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The other day I was able to dig up this old rec.arts.erotica story that has hung around in my mind for years...

Kael Goodman
Jun 12, 1994, 11:56:23 AM
Archive-name: kael.6.94-1

[Author's Note: this is one chapter in my on-going sexual self-
examination. Theoretically each part should stand on its own and
their chronological order is irrelevant..]
Kael's Diary: June, 1994 "Closer" part one Who knew I could ever be an adult? Oh sure, they always
tell you you're supposed to grow up, there are all of these so-
called adult people walking around as proof of the kind of person
you should grow up to be. But fuck all that, all right? I'm supposed
to be getting serious now, right? Well, in my own way I am. I sure
can look the part. A little flabby here and there, and my golden
hair is getting quite thin indeed on top. I'll be bald before I'm thirty,
I'm sure, if I live so long. But for now I am twenty-five, going on
twenty-six, headed for the Millennium, and I'm gonna go down

There I stood, wearing a cut-off pair of Dockers, an old army
belt, an over-sized T-shirt and a huge, structureless cotton jacket
that hung down past the ragged cuffs of those pants. Combat
boots, large wire glasses and long hair that defied the pre-
described onset of male pattern baldness. I stood, for a moment,
outside that old building, in that bad section of Cleveland -- I was
there because I worked there, me and everyone else sitting
around outside it on thatbalmy June evening, waiting for the
audience to arrive. It was a local theater house, one of the small and less
reputable ones, and we happy band of twenty-nothing aged men and
women had made it our base of operations. The younger generation has no
clear goals, no clear objectives? They just couldn't see them. But then,
any goal that doesn't include ruling the world and enforcing your
will on others always seems to confuse Baby Boomers.

Take President Bill, for example. Oh, I supported him, ad I
still do. But you have to admit that's what he's up to. That's what
all those who aspire to power attempt to do, but Clinton and his
whole generation aren't content to just rule, they want to mold the world in
their self-righteous image. My g-g-generation? We're slackers, losers,
we can't get our shit together. Uh-huh. Just watch us. Oh sure, we'll prove
you "right", who can actually change the world? But cut us a break and
don't turn a blind eye to all the hard work we do.

I say I stood there, outside the theater, for a moment. That's
because the next moment I had to dodge yet another of a series of
excruciatingly embarrassing blows inflicted by Jackie, with whom I
was having an amateur boxing match.

Jackie had been with our renegade theater troupe since
the previous summer and you couldn't call her beautiful. A pixie, a
sprite, a wood nymph, are these descriptions insulting? A remnant
sale fashion sense and a strong body odor. She stood five foot
two, her normally brownish-reddish hair now dyed to a fluorescent
blondish-orangish with eep brownish-reddish roots. Her hair
was like that of a six year-old boy, unkempt and dirty, even if she
owned a comb it would have been hopeless. Oh, and a voice like
a demonic child --Linda Hunt meets that dwarf from "Poltergeist",
on a pack-a-day habit. Odd freckles and moles, one clear bump
on her upturned nose, and teeth that looked like they had never seen the
fuzzy end of a toothbrush.

Jackie was a mess. And she gave every boy a hard-on.

Right then, she, holding two tight little fists, one clutching a lit
cigarette, receiving a playful head slap to the forehead from me, tried
kicking my shins. I lashed down and grabbed her by the ankle. A normal
person would have flipped out, panicked, lost balance and cried out in
surprise. Jackie put her weight on her good foot, leaned into to my torso,
and began pummeling my ribcage. I let go of her foot.

This continued for a few minutes. Sid, Ryan, also hanging
around outside, waiting, begging for someone to finally show up to
see our performance, began to get worried that if someone did
show up, all they would see was that there was a fight going on
outside the theater, figure there's a good reason why they had
never seen this part of Cleveland, and move on.

"Hey guys," Sid said, "take it inside."

"You hear that?" I said, deflecting yet another hit aimed for
my solar plexus. "We're not being professional."

"You started this," Jackie said, pushing me with one free
hand, "you smacked my head."

I reached out and grabbed her hand that wasn't holding a
cigarette. "That's because you were being a PRICK." She writhed
in my hands and began kicking again. I let go and stepped back.

"Stop?" I asked, smiling.

"Whatever," she said, and said down on the curb, with her
back to the nasty, city-maintained "beautification" (see: "dying
shrub"). I sat down next to her.

"You guys cool?" Sid asked, sitting a few feet away.

"Shut up," Jackie said, "sometimes Kael needs his butt

"I was kicking your ass," I said.

"I had a cigarette in my hand," she said, taking another draw
off of it. "Do you want one?"

"Nope," I said, "thanks." I hadn't smoked in two months. It
was looking like I might qui for good this time.

A deep, dark, maroon van pulled up to the curb, and we all
sat back. The driver's door sprung open and Gail popped out.

"Like it?" she asked.

"Wow," Jackie said, "that's great!"

"Kel and I picked it up this afternoon from the airport, it's so
huge inside," Gail said.

Jackie flicked her cigarette to the sidewalk, and calmly stood
up. She stepped in front of me, and pushed me backwards into
the bushes.

I yelped out in surprise as her wee fists began pummeling
the living shit out of me.

"You crazy little bitch!" I cried.

"How do you like that, huh?" she barked in that great,
hoarse, pinched voice, landing on me, battering me with a variety
of punches and slaps. I flew my hands up in a weak defense. A
swarm of bees rose from the nettles and flew about us.

"Get her the fuck off me!" I yelled, grabbing onto her wrists
and pulling her down close to me, but she just kept on smacking
me about. I managed to fling her to one side and get to standing,
but she was already there. Sid leaped up and stood between us.

"Oh get away," she cried at him.

"Cut it out, you two," he said.

"Oh, MAN," I whined, petulantly, "w were having fun."


The plan was simple. We'd perform our Saturday night,
eleven o'clock show, hop in this rented van sometime around one
in the morning and drive to Chicago. Our show, consisting of
originally choreographed and constantly updated dance slash
comedy routines, had been running every week for seven months.
We all needed a little vacation, and the cheapest one available
was a short jaunt to Chicago. Those of us who had work managed
to take a few days off, driving non-stop, the five of use who were
going would drive and hour apiece and sleep (yeah, right) the rest
of the way. We'd arrive Sunday morning and leave on Tuesday,
flopping on the floor at friend's apartment, shopping and seeing
as much alternative, inspirational Big City theater as we could.

Our show that evening was another disappointment. The
media had a thing against our little theater, and we found it
impossible to get any kind of free exposure. Te usual trickle of
ten people came in, saw our show (we jumped and sang, danced
and pontificated, moved our tiny audience to tears and got huge belly
laughs) told us it was the most original and innovative thing they
had every seen in their lives and why were there so many empty

Oh well.

They left, we turned out the lights, packed the van, and took
off for the second city.


I love driving, late at night, my favorite music playing on the
stereo, a-c turned off, the window cracked open after midnight.
I've had a lot of experience taking long trips, driving to or from
Clemson as often as I did for six years, that one time I went all the
way to Florida, stoppin once for a ten minute nap. Nineteen
hours was all it took, left at nine in the evening, I was in Bahama
City by dinner the next day. Never doing that again, I'm sure.

This time it would be for just an hour. I went first -- the van
was signed in my name. Jackie drove shotgun, Ryan sat in the
second, expansive seat, Satch and Gail tried to catch a few zees
in the larger, more secluded back seat. Sid couldn't afford the trip
or the time. Ryan, our seventeen year-old technical prodigy, by far
the youngest member of our modest theater company, had
purchased a copy of Madonna's contribution to the "Dick Tracy"
hype back in 1990, "I'm Breathless". It was one dollar in a bargain
bin, and we all listened to it. Funny. Ryan the high school student,
Jackie, the lower class punk and me, an affluent middle class
snob, and we all knew every word to that obscure collection of
great Steven Sondheim melodies and cheesy Madonna pop

"Would you knock it off, please? ZIP! Thank you."

"Hey," Jackie said, picking up her purple, rattan, oh so very
bohemian knapsack. "What does anyone else want to hear?"

"That's not done yet," I informed her.

"Yeah," Ryan chimed in.

"I don't care," she said, "I'm sick of this."

"Put in the 'Twn Peaks' soundtrack," I said, "as long as
we're on this whole 1990 motif."

"You and your thing about chronology," Jackie said, "it's a
little tired."

"Hey, I'm a little tired," I said, "it fits. Anyone see a sign for a
rest stop?"

"In about two miles," Ryan said.


Since Ryan was attending a public school for the arts, he
was able to tell his teachers that this was a special field trip he was
taking with the theater he worked for, which was, when I thought
about it, true. He was a hefty boy, almost taller than me, and a
much greater distance around. A red smear tore down each
cheek, just like the kind I had when I was younger, a tell-tale flush
that at the slightest moment of insecurity would flare up into twin
admissions of shame or embarrassment. Mine had died down a
little as I got older, and whether this was self-confidence
manifesting itself or just part of the aging process, I was glad to be
without them. Poor kid. They have the emotional scarring
capability of a hard-on in tight jeans, only you can't put your books
in front of them.

We stopped the car at the next rest stop, still miles from the
Ohio-Indiana border, and everyone switched places. Jackie took
the driver's seat, and once I came back from the pop machine I
found Ryan already waiting to sit shotgun. Satch and Gail
continued to snooze in the back. Ryan had no license yet, and so
the two of them would be taking us the rest of the way into
Chicago. I sat in themiddle seat, and the three of us continued
our late-night pow-wow.

"Who put this piece of shit music on?" Jackie asked.

"It's Julee Cruise, it's 'Twin Peaks', man," I said.

"It's fucked is what it is."

"You're ugly," I said, "you know that , Jackie? You're so
ugly, it goes down to your soul."


"If it means anything," Ryan kicked in, "I don't think you're

"Yeah, well," I said, "we all know what you think."

Twin cheek flare-ups. Poor, poor kid.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Jackie asked, hitting the
cigarette lighter.

"Yeah, what's that supposed to mean," Ryan asked, not a
little defensively.

"I just thought, you know Ryan, we've been through this," I

"No, what?" Ryan said, turning in his seat to look at me.

"It's about your thing, you know, with boys." I said flatly.

"Oh, fuck you," he said, turning back around.

"No," I said, "I'm sorry, I keep bringing it up --"

"You've got to leave him alone," Jackie laughed.

"-- it's just," I continued, "Jackie has got this whole Dennis
the Menace thing going with her hair and all, it just made sense --"

"Thanks," Jackie said, mock offended.

"I'm sorry," I said, sitting back and throwing up my hands in
a mocking sort of acquiescence, "I'm sorry, I just thought it needed
to be sai."

"The only one here with a thing for boys is you," Ryan said,
trying to rise to the occasion.

"Well," I said, a little sombered, "there's no need to be


"I mean, when I make assumptions on your sexuality," I just
couldn't stop this, "I don't mean them as insults." Ryan just sat
there and stewed.

"You're so full of shit," Jackie said.

"I'm just trying to be helpful, I said.

"You can help me," Ryan said.

"Anything," I said, "how?"

He turned back to face me, his cheeks turned a deep

"Shut the fuck up," he said.

I thought for a moment.

I nodded to him in closed mouth, wide-eyed, excited


An hour and a half later, getting on four in the morning,
Jackie pulled our maroon rental into the next available rest stop
and we all took a little stretcher. It was Gail's turn, more or less
awake and refreshed, and it was me in the very back seat when
everyone got back from the bathroom.

"Hey, Jackie," I said, "come spoon with me."

"Oh-kay," she said, quacking like a ten yea-old.

"Oh, man, "Ryan said, "that means I'm in the middle again."

"Did you want to spoon with me?" I asked.

"What do you think?"

"I wouldn't dare to presume."

Jackie stumbled into the back with me. I was lying with my
head to the port side of the van (uh, that's left to everyone else),
my back to the seat, on my side, and Jackie flopped comfortably
into my arms. My knees were a little cramped, I had one foot here,
another a few feet below and in front, I wrapped my arms around
her, my left under her head, that greasy, glowing, golden hair
under my nose. She smelled of patchouli, strawberry air freshner
and a lap around the block. I held her close, this man-child, this
freak of nature. A scratch on my calf, inflicted during the bee-bush
episode, rested uncomfortably on the back of the upholstered seat.
I fell asleep for a half an hour.


"Aaaagh," I said.

"Mm, what," she mummbered.

"My leg is way asleep."

"Wanna move?"


We shifted about. I tried putting my long legs anywhere
they would fit, but it was pointless. We switched positions, her in
the back, holding me, with my legs dangling out over the edge of
the seat. That wouldn't work. I ended up lying on my back, a little
of me hanging on the edge of the seat, I looked up into the ceiling
of the van, my left hand reaching over onto my stomach, she lay
next to me, on her side, back against the seat, her mouth an inch
from my ear.

One of her legs was tucked under mine. The other lay on
top. She held me in her arms. Her right hand gripped me around
my ribs, like she was helping me stay on the seat. She nestled
me close.

Her hand gripped my chest. Her breathing was a continual
repetition of tiny sighs in my ear, never losing tempo, only
increasing in volume.

Her knees squeezed together. That involuntary, right? I couldn't
help changing my breathing only slightly. I had been asleep only a minute
or two earlier. I was delirious. My chest rose with uncertainty.

I turned my head to hers. I looked into her face. Her jaw,
slack, that small mouth, those chubby little lips, bucky little
front teeth, nicotine stained and nasty and adorable. Her eyes
were closed, her breathing heightened but regular. I opened my
mouth (what? what? what am I doing this for?) and drew my
lower lip against hers, and squeezing both of my lips against her
lower one, she pulled her lips together -- our faces were apart, our
lips cleared the distance, making a teeny little handshake.

We did it again, she still kept her eyes shut, were we both
asleep? No, I know I wasn't, her arms pulled me closer and I
swiveled my body to face her, and our lips pulled and pushed,
kissing again and again, tongues darting slowly, I put my arm
around her and caressed her little body and her hand came up to
touch my face. Her legs scissored around mine and the breathing
started to seriously pick up in speed.

And now it was a grope fest, albeit a slow one. I wrestled
my hand into her buttoned up, pea green shirt in a lame attempt to
fondle her tiny little breasts. She continued to kiss me every odd
moment, taking my lips in hers like a hungry bird, awkwardly
accepting a small morsel of food.

The truth is, this was not the first time we had kissed. The
first was on New Year's Day Night. That had been a Saturday
night and she and I and Satch and Gail had sat around after the
show, drinking what was left of the champagne and talking until
two. After those two had gone to bed, Jackie and I sat up longer,
talking it up until I had the balls to ask her to kiss me. At that point
all I really knew was that I was horny, Jackie looked real sweet in
the candlelight, and Maria had really pissed me off on New Year's

But those were just simple kisses. I wanted to pursue the
matter, I tried getting ym hands all over her, but Jackie talked me down and I
figured our relationship would be an on and off series of months where we
punched and insulted each other, and isolated moments where we would
just kiss. And being one of the world's great kissers, a man who truly
enjoyed just necking for hours on end, I couldn't complain. Because she
was good. Her teeth were rotten, she smoked like a chimney, smelled like a
man and looked like a boy, but she kissed like goddess.

I was not getting her normal kisses here, however. The
breathing was all wrong, less than assured, desiring more. I forgot
about her tits, they were nothing -- it seemed like they were nothing
to her. She kept tugging my lips with hers, urging me on --

-- I glanced upwards. The boy in the middle seat must
surely be asleep, right? --

-- we hadn't said anything. She gripped my behind and
pressed my groin firmly against hers --

-- and the music was playing, and the windows open, Satch
and Gail must be oblivious, they're miles away --

-- I tucked my pelvis back and rested a hand between her
legs. Hot, very hot, she must be steaming inside these tattered old
jeans. The soft, worn cotton was already damp with sweat, and
what else..? I slid my hand between her and she opened her legs,
one resting on the seat, the other against its back, and rubbed
where I could only assume the trouble was...

...and there was a hole.

No. No, you're kidding. I brushed a finger against it. Pubic
hair. No underwear? A hole?! She has GOT to be kidding. I was
beside myself with disbelief, awe, complete befuddlement and just
a little bit of restrained laughter.

Is this the trick hole? This woman has a trap chute in her

She continued to pulse with almost imperceptible earnest. I
withheld my anxiety and pressed my middle finger into the hole.

Wet. Stewy wet. Swampy wet. If she didn't want me prying
into her jeans, violating her through a secret hole that just barely
(not even barely, let's face it) allowed my bony middle finger, it
was the last thing she was telegraphing. My face was less than an
inch to hers, my mouth less close, no more kissing , just sharing of
breath, my eyes only slits as I drove as much of my left middle
finger as I could into her. It was easy, in comparison o the tight
sheath of thin cotton I had just passed my finger through, her
secret part was warm and soft and slippery, I pressed into her like
so much microwaved Cool Whip. I pronged her as carefully as I
could, my finger up and into her jeans as far as I could put it. My
lips brushed against hers and they trembled slightly.

But I knew this wasn't enough. I withdrew the offending
finger, bent it as much as I could, the tight denim catching around
my flesh just below the second joint, that bulky ring on the
adjacent finger getting in the way, and I rubbed the tip, fingernail
and all, in a valiant attempt to find THE CLITORIS.

The free fingers of her hand were kneading my shoulder
and back. Her eyelids opened imperceptibly, those dark brown
orbs now completely black between slightly parted lids. She
panted straight into my mouth, closed her eyes again and pressed
her face into mine, firmly mashing my lips with hers.

Pulsing, pulsing, the blood was not making an easy way
into my crooked middle digit, and I found my mark -- at least, I could
only assume that's what it was. Our noses touched, we shuffed
sharply down each other's throats, our chest slammed forcefully
together, our legs a tangled mess somewhere down there where I
couldn't see. The flesh right below my fingernail, thrubbing, over
and over against this tiny knot, no, not tiny, it was actually quite
large, it stood out proudly amidst the squishy skin and matted, moist
hair. If I had ever before satisfied a g-spot, now was the time to
remember exactly how it was done.

Not too hard, not too soft, maybe she liked it hard? Maria
had always been very picky about how I satisfied her. Maria was
really the only person I didthings like this to for the past four or five
years. Funny I should think of Maria now. I thought of Maria
sucking off her manager at work in a van not very different from
this one and pressed on.

I kept up the pressure, the pain in my finger increasing
exponentially as it seemed to take on a life of its own, separate
from my hand except for the pain it supplied. My hand was baking
between her legs, she rocked in her seat and I tried to suspend the
finger in mid-air, just above her tender, tender fleshy bit, gently but
firmly and continually rolling it back and forth, slipping and sliding,
and her head bent back, her breathing never changing, and I
looked up at the seat back, had Ryan looked back here, and Jesus
GOD I am going to have to quit soon Jesus FUCK this hurts, and
still I went on, rolling and rubbing that thing, it was as big as a
house, it couldn't fit in the van, and my hand was screaming --

-- and she leaned her head forward, huffing silently, laid a
hand aside my face (hers glowing with perspiration) and pressed
her forehead to mine. I slowed my pace, withdrew from my
Chinese finger trap and laid my crippled hand delicately on her thigh.

"Heh-mmm," I cleared my throat slightly, and kissed her

She parted her eyelids. The eyes were brown. She smiled.

"Heh," I said.

"Hmmmm," she said, an open mouthed smile, displaying
the dirty dental work.

"Ah," I said, "did you, uh...you know."

"Mm-hm," she said, nodding slightly.

"Lucky you," I said.

"Mm-HM," she said.

"I wasn't sure I found it," I said.

"Do you think anyone heard?" she asked.

"Do you care?"

"No," she said. "Do you?"

"No," I said, without a moment's hesitaion.

"Hm," she said.

"I think," I said, "I can finally go to sleep."

"Yeah," she said, like a happy eight year-old.

The sun was rising behind us as we cuddled close together.
In a few hours we would be in Chicago, on a Sunday morning,
with everywhere to go and nothing to do.

"Hey," I said, reaching between my legs.

"What?" she whispered.

"I think I came."

She smiled her devilish smile and pulled me tight.

"Then we're both lucky."

-- to be continued

*Special note to all "Diary" fans: thank you all for your letters, and if you like
my work but have never written me, please do so, because I have a special
announcement to make which I will send personally to anyone who has
ever given me their support.

Mail to: at...@cleveland.freenet.edu

You'll be glad you did.

-- KG
The wife's lover's children and my lover's wife,
Cooking in my kitchen, confusing my life.
And it's upside down when you reach Cloud 9.
Upside down when you reach Cloud 9.
Moderator, rec.arts.erotica. Submissions to ero...@unix.amherst.edu.
Please, no reposts, first drafts, or requests for "subscriptions,"
stories, GIFs, or archive sites.

July 30, 2023


School of Honk on Georges Island

Open Photo Gallery

from "The Fault in Our Stars"

finished "The Fault in Our Stars" which is a quick enough read but carries some of the weight of the author's "The Anthropocene Reviewed" podcast - the wikipedia page for the book mentions A.J. Jacobs review of Andrew Smith Winger where "In the review, Jacobs coined the term GreenLit, a play on John's surname, Green and the word literature, to describe "realistic stories told by a funny, self-aware teenage narrator", that include, "sharp dialogue, defective authority figures, occasional boozing, unrequited crushes and one or more heartbreaking twists" which is a pretty good combination.

So a brisk if emotionally challenging read... literate and self-aware young adults going through it is a compelling genre.
"Look at it, rising up and rising down, taking everything with it."

"What's that?" I asked.

"Water," the Dutchman said. "Well, and time."
Peter Van Houten, "An Imperial Affliction" (fictional work which also gives the epigraph for "The Fault in Our Stars")

There will come a time when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you. Everything that we did and built and wrote and thought and discovered will be forgotten and all of this [gestures encompassingly] will have been for naught. Maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever. There was time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that's what everyone else does.
Hazel Grace Lancaster in John Green's "The Fault in Our Stars"

You might come here Sunday on a whim.
Say your life broke down. The last good kiss
you had was years ago.

(Off topic, but: What a slut time is. She screws everybody.)
Peter Van Houten in John Green's "The Fault in Our Stars"

I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.
Hazel Grace Lancaster in John Green's "The Fault in Our Stars"

Some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth it is a city of freedom. And in freedom, most people find sin.
Amsterdam Cabbie in John Green's "The Fault in Our Stars"

"You get to battle cancer," I said. "That is your battle. And you'll keep fighting," I told him. I hated it when people tried to build me up to prepare for battle, but I did it to him, anyway. "You'll...you'll...live your best life today. This is your war now." I despised myself for the cheesy sentiment, but what else did I have?

"Some war," he said dismissively. "What am I at war with? My cancer. And what is my cancer? My cancer is me. The tumors are made of me. They're made of me as surely as my brain and my heart are made of me. It is a civil war, Hazel Grace, with a predetermined winner."
Augustus Waters and Hazel Grace Lancaster in John Green's "The Fault in Our Stars"

You know what I believe? I remember in college I was taking this math class, this really great math class taught by this tiny old woman. She was talking about fast Fourier transforms and she stopped midsentence and said, 'Sometimes it seems the universe wants to be noticed.'

That's what I believe. I believe the universe wants to be noticed. I think the universe is improbably biased toward consciousness, that it rewards intelligence in part because the universe enjoys its elegance being observed.
Hazel Lancaster's father in John Green's "The Fault in Our Stars" Later she writes "I thought of my dad telling me that the universe wants to be noticed. But what we want is to be noticed by the universe, to have the universe give a shit what happens to us--not the collective idea of sentient life but each of us, as individuals."

We live in a universe devoted to the creation, and eradication, of awareness. Augustus Waters did not die after a lengthy battle with cancer. He died after a lengthy battle with human consciousness, a victim--as you will be--of the universe's need to make and unmake all that is possible.
Hazel Grace Lancaster's in a FB comment that gets swept away in al the other comments, "The Fault in Our Stars"

Almost everyone is obsessed with leaving a mark upon the world. Bequeathing a legacy. Outlasting death. We all want to be remembered. I do, too. [...] I want to leave a mark. But Van Houten: The marks humans leave are too often scars. You build a hideous minimall or start a coup or try to become a rock star and you think, "They'll remember me now," but (a) they don't remember you, and (b) all you leave behind are more scars. Your coup becomes a dictatorship. Your minimall becomes a lesion.
Augustus Waters in John Green's "The Fault in Our Stars"

You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers.
Augustus Waters in John Green's "The Fault in Our Stars"

I've pinpointed the source of the angst and depression I'm feeling today:

RIP Pee Wee Herman!
i should get that arrangement of "saber dance" ive thought about up for my band

2023 July❮❮prevnext❯❯