{ Wednesday, February 28, 2001 }

Today I'm quoted in the Datebook Section of the Examiner/Chronicle, though not at my most articulate: Blogging On/Web loggers bare their souls -- and reading lists -- to the Internet.
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Morning in San Francisco: sunny and bright and in the 80s, a day like a brand new balloon.
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{ Tuesday, February 27, 2001 }

When I've been writing a lot in my "real" diary, I don't write a lot here.

Last night at Judith's, Ray and I looked at Joseph Cornell/Marcel Duchamp: in resonance which is the next thing I want to acquire. Spoke of pre-code movies and looked through Judith's 1939 movie Yearbook, which listed 16,000 films from that year alone. Discussed Jonathan Lethem's defense of The Searchers and Ray's defense of Vertigo. We all agreed on the greatness of Johnny Guitar. I didn't defend any movies. Risotto and three (!) pieces of chocolate cake. Yum.

• Saw on TV as kid : The Harrad Experiment. Made quite an impression on me.
• Vernacular architecture: strip malls, drive-ins, burger joints, casinos.
• Odd juxtaposition of the sweating bobbing lycra-clad gymming people listening to hiphop next to the struggling-to-be-calm yogaing people.

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{ Friday, February 23, 2001 }

I really like this one:

Here is your horoscope for Friday, February 23:

When the center is secure, the fringes are more exciting. Families, partners and teams recognize the motion of some greater force. A deeply held belief is validated. New experiences are incredibly rich.
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{ Thursday, February 22, 2001 }

Aw, shucks!
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Can you judge a person by their appearance? I still don't know. I try not to. But maybe you can. In all those mob movies, Sicilians claim that there are 37 ways a person can lie, and that if you know what these tiny gestures and microexpressions are, you can be as accurate as any lie-detector.
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{ Wednesday, February 21, 2001 }

Ridiculous. Cleaning out my mailbox, I found an invitation to a New Year's Party that I never saw before. Jaysus. Does anyone know what "jimp" means?

Apparently Mitsu does: "from some page quoting Roget's: "ADJECTIVE: BEAUTIFUL, beauteous, handsome; pretty; lovely, graceful, elegant, exquisite, flowerlike, delicate, dainty, refined. COMELY, fair, personable, seemly [obs.], decent [archaic], proper [archaic or dial.], bonny, good-looking; well-favored, well-made, well-formed, well-proportioned, shapely; symmetrical (regular) [See Symmetry]; harmonious (color) [See Color]; sightly, fit to be seen. bright, bright-eyed; rosy-cheeked, cherry-cheeked; rosy, ruddy; blooming, in full bloom. goodly, dapper, tight, jimp or gimp [Scot. & dial. Eng.], jaunty or janty, trig, natty [orig. slang], quaint [archaic], trim, tidy, neat, spruce, smart, tricksy [rare]."
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Thank you nice Dutch guy for the Ibrahim Ferrer! You know who you are.
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Old friend Eric Rodenbeck, lately of Umwow and Stamen begins publishing his own weblog at: eric.stamen.com. Woohoo!
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Last night I met Mona Mukherjea-Gehrig, one of the founders of Modart who is organizing a really interesting exhibit to benefit Breast Cancer research: she takes molds of women's breasts and then gives them to artists to paint: Futura, Shepard Fairey and Paul Frank among them. I'm going to be doing a breast mold and painting it myself. The exhibits are Feb. 28 in New York and March 23 in San Francisco.

Also saw amiga Brooke Biggs last night, who has a weblog of her own on Mother Jones which chronicles underreported facts about Dubya, The Bush Files.
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{ Tuesday, February 20, 2001 }

I don't believe I've ever waxed lyrical about Syd Barrett here, but let me wax lyrical now. Brilliant 19-year-old Syd Barrett was Pink Floyd at the outset, he wrote most the goofy, inane and peculiar songs on Piper at the Gates of Dawn and Saucer Full of Secrets, that sound a bit like early David Bowie, I mean, David Jones David Bowie. Pink Floyd never really interested me, except for the Barrett albums -- Pink Floyd, if I remember correctly, was the name of Barrett's cat which was named after bluesmen Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. At some point after the first album and during the recording of the second, Syd started coming unstrung, and left/was ejected from Pink Floyd, and recorded two brilliant albums, Barrett and The Madcap Laughs as well as an album produced by David Gilmour which records his decline, Opel, now available only by import. He eventually went stark raving mad, an acid casualty perhaps, but as I've said elsewhere, schizophrenics seem to love acid, and he certainly seemed to be schizophrenic.

Opel is the album that really took the top of my head off. Barrett's voice is deep and wanders into regions previously unexplored by people who can sing in key; the lyrics only tentively cling to meaning, the strumming on the Telecaster is a kind of incidental strum, as if he were quite far away. Some songs, such as "Rats" and "Effervescing Elephant" are a kind of enhanced word soup common in the halls of mental institutions, a glossolalia of randomness and indifference sunk in a murky darkness. I forget how I came to acquire this album, but I became obsessed with it and listened to little else for months and months. When I got a guitar, the first songs that I taught myself were "Baby Lemonade" and "Golden Hair" and "Wined and Dined." I've never seen The Wall, but supposedly it is partially based on him.

Syd Barrett is a recluse now, and has been for thirty years. His former bandmates wrote "Shine on you Crazy Diamond" for and about him. He lives somewhere in Cambridge, England.
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{ Monday, February 19, 2001 }

Was able to throw this one into conversation today. I seek opportunities to toss it in, but am rarely afforded the opportunity. No! I have ample opportunity, surrounded as I am with callipygian examples! No! I mean...well forget what I mean. Sorry.

callipygian
Pronunciation: "ka-l&-'pi-j(E-)&n
Variant(s): or cal?li?py?gous /-'pI-g&s/
Etymology: Greek kallipygos, from kalli- pygE buttocks
Date: circa 1800
: having shapely buttocks
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Happily reading The New Yorker online. Finally, guys, finally.
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{ Sunday, February 18, 2001 }

David updates my list below from the Webster's Third New International Unabridged - copyright 1971, with the following:

silentiary \si'lenche,ere
n - ES [ L silentiarius slave charged with maintaining silence among the domestic staff, fr. silentium silence + -arius -ary]
1 : an advocate of silence esp. as a religious observance
2 : one of various court officials of the later Roman Empire sworn not to divulge secrets of state
3 : one appointed to keep silence and order (as in a court of law or a public assembly)

aporia \e'porea,-or-\n, pl aporias\ --eaz\ or aporiae \-e,e
[NL, fr. LL., doubt, perplexity, fr. Gk. difficulty, perplexity, fr. aporos impassable, difficult (fr. a-2a- + poros passage, path) + -ia -- more at FARE]
1 : a problem or difficulty arising from an awareness of opposing or incompatible views on the same theoretic matter; esp : one giving rise to philosophically systematic doubt
2 : a passage in speech or writing incorporating or presenting a difficulty or doubt

I'll pass on curmurring, He says, but another David found it on dictionary.com. Thanks, Davids!!!
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Balthus who was, in my opinion, the greatest living painter, is now dead, and joins my personal pantheon of the greatest dead artists of the 20th century. Who's the greatest living artist now, in my book? Louise Bourgeois, sculptor. Jeff writes, though, to make an excellent point: Lucien Freud, Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns are still alive. Hmmm. I don't think they supplant Bourgeois in my (admittedly idiosyncratic) pantheon, but Freud is a contender.
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Well, duh.
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Found: piece of paper with the following words on them. I have entire notebooks dedicated to words I don't know. I think these are from Gravity's Rainbow. I looked them up on Webster's because I was too lazy to bust out the OED which is currently supporting my TV:

curmurring (not in Webster's)

Function: noun
Date: circa 1730
1 : an interconnected group of rooms arranged usually in a row with each room opening into the next
2 : gunfire directed from a flanking position along the length of an enemy battle line

silentiary (not in Webster's)

shal·lop
Pronunciation: 'sha-l&amp;p
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle French chaloupe
Date: circa 1578
1 : a usually 2-masted ship with lugsails
2 : a small open boat propelled by oars or sails and used chiefly in shallow waters

aporia (not in Webster's)

scle·rot·ic
Pronunciation: skl&amp;-'rä-tik
Date: 1543
1 : being or relating to the sclera
2 : of, relating to, or affected with sclerosis
3 : grown rigid or unresponsive especially with age

gam·boge
Pronunciation: gam-'bOj, -'büzh
Function: noun
Etymology: New Latin gambogium, alteration of cambugium, from or akin to Portuguese Camboja Cambodia
Date: 1712
1 : an orange to brown gum resin from southeast Asian trees (genus Garcinia) of the Saint-John's-wort family that is used as a yellow pigment and cathartic
2 : a strong yellow

Also, I have little pieces of paper with words on them that I like. Here's one in front of me that says, simply, "Skedaddle, Scram, Vamoose".
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Colleen Moore's Fairy Castle has got to be the worlds most fantastic dollhouse. Though I hear that Queen Elizabeth of England has a pretty great one too. I am studying miniatures this evening. That's my thing.

Jason sends me word of the Thorne Miniature Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago. Pictures here too. But the best one of all, and the one that started this whole miniature foray into the web is this article "Wee scenes of hellish carnage" about the murder site miniatures, like frozen games of Clue, which also links to the Acme Miniature Circus of trained fleas. No, really!
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{ Saturday, February 17, 2001 }

I somehow stumbled upon this nifty site of snowcat comics and another alternative korean comics site.
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One friend confided that he dated only Jewish Graphic Designers, whereas another confessed an unbroken string of Left-handed Vegetarians. Another admits to only being attracted to guys named Jason, and I swear, cloning is already happening here in San Francisco, because another friend is constantly trotting out identical tall nordic women that I call Svetlana One, Svetlana Two, Svetlana Three, etc. I suspect that what he's doing is collecting hair and fingernail samples and keeping them in cold storage. And then when Svetlana inevitably breaks up with him again, he breaks out his lab equipment and builds another one, trying to omit the Breaking-Up with Tom genetic code, but never quite getting it right. Because then we're on to Svetlana Four, Svetlana Five, Svetlana Six....
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Blake's picture of a tiger in its larval stage.
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Interesting things that I have discovered today, via the site Lucky Mojo, or search forays inspired by the Generosity folk:

• Thai penis amulets I think I am going to become a collector of amulets. I especially like the little white "bunny-penis" and already have some skull beads made of bone.
• Blind Lemon Jefferson who I've been listening to this morning, specifically "Low Down Mojo Blues".
• Catherine Yronwode who has lived a very interesting blurbworthy life. I will have to look her up and take her out for tea when I'm next in Forestville. Last night Stewart remembered that he liked reading the phone book as a child, and that the last name in the book was "Zazu Zyzzy" on Galiano Island. From 20 years ago, he remembered that. Tried to look him up, but he couldn't be found, though was very recently listed in the phone directory.
• Learn Aramaic in a few quick 'n' easy lessons.
• A Practical Guide to Suicide (don't worry! just suicide-curious, never suicide-practising. Sheesh. People get so panicky when you say the word "suicide". I am fascinated by the fact that Jerzy Kozinski researched the most painless ways to go, and thus died naked in his bathtub with a plastic bag tied over his head, still looking pretty good for a dead guy. And as a friend said today, how can you live if you've never thought of death?)

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Thursday night when I was having dinner with Leanne and Dan at The Meetinghouse (an excellent restaurant serving very deluxe American food, along the lines of The Liberty Cafe, if you're familiar with it, but more luxe and pricey) there were, along one wall, a row of girlfriends sitting on a banquette, all in their early 30s and nicely dolled up, facing a row of boyfriends, all in their early 30's shaven and nicely dolled up, who had apparently not gotten their act together in time to get a reservation on Valentine's Day. I was embarrassed for them. First, for thinking that they *had* to take their girlfriends out for dinner and second for not just making a construction paper and doily valentine and letting that be that. I like chocolate and roses and dinner as much as anyone else, but not on February 14th. It's part of my consumption-hating, I think, the taint of gifts given under the duress of corporate pressure and commercial invasions into the expression of love. The if you don't give me a present then you don't love me problem Judith and I were discussing earlier. It's crap.

Crap, I tell you. I think I'm becoming one of those cranky dog-swatting old ladies waaay before I oughta be.
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{ Friday, February 16, 2001 }

Today has been a day verging on extreme weirdness. Then verging on extreme sadness, and anger, then verging on extreme joy. But then I just lay down to sleep and it started verging on the surreal since I had a dream that a bunch of people from my high school had moved into my house and were starting a company, and I was protecting them from murderers who were lurking outside the door, and periodically brandishing weapons and baring their teeth while inside my former high school classmates discussed Cash Flow and Negotiation Strategies and Returns On Investment. The murderers asked for one woman, and she was sent out to them: as a sacrifice. Chilling. The high school friends come up to my room. It is at the top of a spiralling staircase in a shadowed house, and I hide in my childhood room. Everything is there: my strawberry sheets, my dollhouse.

It is a liminal day, full of practical ideas and encroaching threats with only me to stay between them, keep them apart. And that weird sacrifice.
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{ Thursday, February 15, 2001 }

Wow. These people really know how to live.

Dinner with Leanne and the CTO of Capital Thinking who is a master crocheter. Crochet not being the kind of thing that you normally associate with a Irish Catholic New Yorker in his 40s working for a technology company. Smart, savvy business guy, and the mentor of one of the people I most admire. He made a Thinead (?) apparently a thing that they have in The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss. People's multifariousness and the infinite intelligibility of the world are reward enough for being alive. Endless fascination. Look see! Court interesting acquaintances and eccentrics and have dinner with them.
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(From yesterday)

Wednesday, February 14, 2001

For your enjoyment: the official caterina.net theme song by Perry Como. Did people really listen to music like this once upon a time? It's so....square.

For you Valentine's Day curmudgeons: Candies for you. And a broken heart. You have to click on all the candies until they spell something.

"The change of color is likely and a difference a very little difference is prepared. Sugar is not a vegetable."
-- Gertrude Stein

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{ Friday, February 09, 2001 }

Paul has been asking specific questions with his stichomancy efforts, and I am doing the same. And just now, my best effort yet! I got "Catullus: The Complete Poems" off the shelf.

Question: Give me a general outlook on my love life.

Look inside, how lying there
Your man on the Tyrian couch
Is totally intent on you.
O Hymen Hymenal O,
O Hymen Hymenal

For him no less than for you
In his inner self there burns
A fire, but more inwardly
O Hymen, Hymenal O
O Hymen Hymenal
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{ Thursday, February 08, 2001 }

Actual transcript from a job interview I had several years ago at an architect's office in New York. Me, not yet 20, nervous and wanting to make a good impression. He, mid-30s, good-looking blue-eyed Argentine, shirt open about the neck.

INTERVIEWER: Come in, come in. Have a seat! I am Ricardo.
(He does the handshake with both hands on either side of my hands, keeps my hand a little too long.)
ME: Nice to meet you Ricardo. I'm Caterina. Here's my resume. (I hand him the resume, sit down.)
RICARDO: Thank you. (he puts resume down without looking at it.) You are very pretty.
ME: Thank you.
RICARDO: What sign are you?
ME: Cancer.
RICARDO: Cancer! Cancer! My last three wives -- all Cancer! ( I say nothing.) What day?
ME: July 9.
RICARDO: (leaps out of his chair, gesticulating wildly) My last three wives, July 4, July 5 and July 6! After I find 7 and 8 you can marry me!
ME: I ...can?
RICARDO: I am Scorpio! (he pronounces this ES-corpio) Is water sign also! Very good combination with Cancer.
(what am I to say?)
RICARDO: Escorpios are very sexy. My wife, she will tell you how sexy I am.
(I am rendered speechless. He reaches down to a little mini-fridge behind his desk.)
RICARDO: Let's have a beer!
ME: Could you tell me a little bit about the position?
RICARDO: Oh, the job? You can have the job. Cancer is perfecto! We have Sagittarius and Pisces already. Tomorrow we go talk to Robert DeNiro. 1 o'clock, say? Yes, Robert DeNiro, that one. He loves me! Let's celebrate!

You think I am inventing all of this, but I am not. This is an honest-to-god bona fide transcription of the job interview. With an unerring sense for good story material for my years-in-the-future weblog, I took a job there and suffered six months of Ricardo in a pre-Anita Hill environment. For you, caterina.net readers, for you.

NEXT EPISODE: We go to Robert DeNiro's house. Ricardo gets the office assistant pregnant.
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{ Wednesday, February 07, 2001 }

My enjoyment of the semi-literary but ultimately trashy Lonesome Dove has precipitated a foray into the semi-literary and unrepentently trashy Blood Countess the cover of which features not only foil and emboss, but is also die-cut, and which has lurid murder and sexual elements and is endorsed by William S. Burroughs. How far we have fallen from our aspirations to read Anna Karenina, finally.
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 Borges: "I think the happiness of a reader is beyond that of a writer, for a reader need feel no trouble, no anxiety: he is merely out for happiness. and happiness, when you are a reader, is frequent."

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There is this sort of Niçoise-ish salad (ahi tuna, shrimp, scallops, olives, rice, tomatoes, lettuce) on the menu at Ti Couz, which I delighted in last night, a dinner bookended by two visits to Adobe Books, my favorite used book store in San Francisco.

Adobe is a bookstore that manages to be not only a bookstore, but a community, the last vestige of the real bohemia that used to be The Mission. There are half-unpacked boxes everywhere, and a stoned-looking cat named Leo, really good books, art by local artists on the walls, good conversation and bookish homeless people snoring loudly on the couch. A grotty and homely and friendly place, and a veritable salon. It is run by a sterling individual named Andrew McKinley and his cadre of loyal bookworms. He took them all on a business trip to Paris one year -- the kind of perk employees of used bookstores rarely enjoy. Local Mission. It is an Institution. My purchases last night were:

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. In conversation recently I realized I hadn't read any Woolf since high school. Rectification of that error. I feel bad buying books I know I already own but are elsewhere, but sometimes you have to.
Matrix of Man by Sibyl Moholy-Nagy. An illustrated book mapping ancient and modern urban settlement structures. Fascinating. Complements the book on Ekistics I bought recently too.
Selected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe I love Poe, and realized I had none here. Ditto on the owned-but-elsewhere. But on the back cover they advertise that, Poe myth notwithstanding, Poe was "neither a drunkard, a dope fiend, nor a rake", which disappoints me acutely, since I adore dope-fiends and rakes, or at least reading about them, since I don't have the time or courage to be one myself, and they make such excellent subjects. Flaubert advised writers to live regular, boring, bourgeois lives so that they could be daring and reckless in their work.
Designing with Natural Forms by Natalie d'Arbeloff. I love how-to art books from the early 70s, when a certain species of grooviness was at its apex. This, like the Moholy-Nagy book, is obsessed with honeycombs and Voronai diagrams, also with lemniscates and the motion of water.
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Favorite compliment of the week: That I am good to talk to about things, because I don't usually proffer advice. This is something that has never occurred to me. I also was talking last night about a certain person I know, who looks at you intently as you are speaking as if you are utterly fascinating and pays the greatest compliment, which is that he never forgets a thing you've said. I'm not such a good listener as all that, though it is one of my aspirations. There is a passage at the very end of Siddhartha by Herman Hesse which I remember about what a good listener the ferryman is. I wish I had a copy of it here.
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{ Tuesday, February 06, 2001 }

Main Entry: lapsus calami
Pronunciation: "lap-sus-'ka-la-"mE, "lap-sus-'ka-le-"mI
Usage: foreign term
Etymology: Latin
: slip of the pen
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Whittaker's Almanack 1950 Mechanical Brain Solves 300-Year-Old Sum.
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{ Monday, February 05, 2001 }

Rick Moody is very handsome and near-sighted and wears worn corduroy shirts and gently faded blue jeans. David Bowie likes his books and said so on TV. His next book will be about "Handkerchief Moody", a man who wore a veil all his life, after doing something of which he was ashamed. He is not related to "Handkerchief Moody". He just read Richard Powers' latest book, and Rick Hansen's. All this is gleaned from the reading we went to tonight, on Haight. And, incidentally, the cover of Demonology is my second favorite color: robin's egg blue, which makes me want to eat it. (See yesterday's entry).
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{ Sunday, February 04, 2001 }

"Life seemed to be handing me a warning and teaching me a lesson I would never forget: the lesson of hidden honor, of fraternity we know nothing about, of beauty that blossoms in the dark."

-- Pablo Neruda

I love words so much that I want to eat them. I love colors so much I want to eat them.

Which reminds me of this: when I was little I was over at at the Vance's house playing with John Vance, the youngest of six brothers, whose immediate predecessors were Matthew, Mark and Luke. The boys all lived in one small room crammed with three bunk beds, and their one sister, Angela, had her own spacious room with a big canopy bed that was the envy of all the neighborhood girls. They lived down the street from the Mellys, who had five girls and one boy. All the girls lived in one room too, and the notable thing there was that they all had separate closets with padlocks on them. I was continually amazed at the sheer number of Vances and Mellys, especially when we ran into the mothers at the Grand Union pushing two overloaded grocery carts. Irish Catholics, no TV, their neighbor Mrs. Redstone sneered.

So I was at the Vance's and John was showing me the hamster that he and his brothers had gotten for Christmas, which I had come especially to see. He lifted it out of its cage and showed it to me. It had twitchy whiskers and I petted it tentatively with my forefinger, finding it very very soft. I was completely smitten. Then he kissed the hamster and said, "I love you SOOO MUCH" and squeezed it so hard he killed it dead.

That's what I am reminded of.

There's got to be some better way to end this story, but I'm not sure what it is.
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Wow.
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{ Saturday, February 03, 2001 }

Flu or food poisoning? Eeeyurguh.

Take away the arrogance, the battery and the alcohol, and down comes innocence. -- Judy Grahn c.f. Lonesome Dove.
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{ Friday, February 02, 2001 }

Weird. I think I used to play tennis as a kid with this guy. Or at least, he was playing on the same courts in the Smoke Rise Junior Tennis League. I might be wrong. But "Dana Milbank" is a funny name, at least to a kid -- it's a girl's name. I never teased anyone about their names, which can only be construed as pre-emptive non-teasing because my last name is "Fake." And if anyone can come up with an original way of teasing me about that name -- well I bet you can't. I've heard them all.

Fond of it now. Even get a kick out of my grandfather's name, poor guy was saddled with a real ugly behemoth throughout life: Leverne Mucklow Fake. Hard to out-do, no doubt, but surely an original.