Wednesday, October 29, 2008

American Abject

I've been thinking about abjection, about wearing your guts on the outside, the externalization of negativity, like barfing on a stage on a suburban cul-de-sac. I remember this movie, a Japanese movie called Pinocchio 964, that I was forced (ok, not forced, but encouraged) to watch in my Horror Film class a couple years back, and I remember hating it so much because the displays of abjection (violent, unceasing illness and deformity in populated areas) were so overblown, an onslaught of sound and image that, instead of being justified Hollywood-style, left nothing to reason with. As we discussed in class, it was an abjection of Japanese silence and internalization after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I wonder what the American abjection could look like.

It may be like Total Recall, Fight Club, or the horse-head scene from The Godfather, or when Barton Fink wakes up next to a dead woman. Normally, when we think of abjection, it is of "abject poverty," which is sort of a redundancy; society excludes the destitute, and those within the society, speaking personally, have trouble identifying with it. Abjection is a surreal experience, having yourself projected, or ejected, from any frame of reference.

To situate myself in this discussion, I'm feeling a little bit abject, and I'm feeling strangely responsible for that feeling. Accompanying that are bits of regret, depression, and confusion that come from lack of future-certainty. My connections are mostly through the ether (the internet, phone), my current home is temporary, I'm separated from my family and friends, and I'm unemployed, tasty chum in a sea where the sharks are starving but not hungry. In some ways it's abjection, in others uncanniness.

There is a three-minute film festival coming up, and I'm having trouble visualizing exactly what I want to do, or how I can do it. All I've got is my digital still camera. This is not a new limitation for me; there are just ideas now to be parsed through, the transition from the mental to the physical image, the barrier of progress. And how to display abjection without seeming pathetic or trite, how to get over my own discomfort displaying my work, how to explain myself.

Imagine waking up, brushing teeth, performing morning rituals in a pile of nasty compost, preparing breakfast in industrial waste, shaving your face with a railroad spike without a look of disgust, but the normal, blank, pre-coffee stare. All conveyed in still images. . . I suppose that's a beginning.

This is all very unsexy.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I run like clockwork; waking thinking coffeeing pooping biking internetting jobhunting cooking eating thinking biking cooking eating movieing thinking sleeping repeating. Basically. It's getting out of hand. Last night Liz and I went for a walk around the neighborhood before dinner. Tuesday I went mushroom hunting with Jason.

I discovered last week that the media network in Eugene actually exists; there is one, and it is in no way affiliated with craigslist. I think it avoids craigslist as a rule. So now I'm trying my hand at "networking," a method of making friends with the idea that they will lead you to money. I walk into places and chat for a minute before handing them my resume, but not before they tell me that "the economy sucks right now," and that nobody's really hiring, at least they aren't. And with a grimace they take my resume and say, "good luck," as I leave. Other companies that don't seem to have an exact address I've learned aren't worth a call. The "company" is a dude with some equipment, like me if I had equipment and people called me with personal projects like weddings and can-you-put-this-home-movie-on-dvd.

My days are full of cooking! I have just enough time to do all of this before I need to sleep. All of my food is cooked by me, not by someone else because it now comes in a plastic tub and still has root strands, bitter green tops, dirt in the crevices. I get to choose the combinations of foods that I eat, and I get to know how much of what is put in, and it all comes from a big little farm in Junction City; it's almost too much. Perishables sitting in a plastic tub in the shade outside my door, for lack of refrigerator room. I think life would be easier if that was my life. Life as a Napa cabbage.

My liquid bread turned out beautifully, just as a homebrew should. The hops leveled out, the body is palpable, the malt is refreshing, and the nose is somewhere between Wisconsin and Belgium. I think I'll call it The Fog. It's a hearty 7.3%, and is available only in bombers at my house in Eugene, so come'n get it!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Shuddering in America: America Who? Government.

As the internet ambassador for campaignatorial absurdities, I am going to comment vaguely on comments put forth by the loquacious Shuddering Noise Machine on the last future-president debate. Here it goes:

It was about five minutes into this business that I was distracted by John McCain's blinking. It didn't stop. Every syllable, blink. Blink Blink Blink, those gray lids over vacuous irises, as if his own voice was a hammer landing on a nail driving into cheap, thin plywood, waiting for it to split with every blink. I decided from then on that he was either lying and knew it, or he was lying because he wasn't sure what the right thing to say was. To his right, Obama; composed, serene, articulate, yes, and he blinked at a fairly normal rate-- the only moments I noticed were when he stumbled over the "what are you going to cut?" question, and perhaps a bit on healthcare. I too wish your employer would give you healthcare. I wish I had an employer to give me healthcare.

What got me slapping my forehead and exhaling forcefully was that when McCain had the rebuttal: on healthcare and Ayers, notably, despite the fact that Obama "won" those rounds without breaking a sweat, McCain's choice of rebuttal was to state his original claim once more, giving the last word clearly; "we need to know the specifics of your relationships," etc. This, I am afraid, is what will stick in many a mind. Obama has linguistic power, but at times it goes over my head. Smart and capable as he is, we have to remember that W somehow got "elected" twice, and that focusing on trivial behaviors such as flip-flopping and b'yah!ing and other distortions have swung elections; it need not be overstated that it is likely that most people get most of their campaign news from The View and Entertainment Weekly. I know my housemates do.

On to Joe the Plumber. I kept hearing "Joe Strummer." Joe Strummer, you're rich, but you're dead. Sorry, your employer can't help you there. I will send him a fine. I think that Joe T. Plumber would be mighty confused and vote for Nader after the Abbott/Costello pickup routine that's just been put on him. Debates should not resemble Warner Bros. cartoons, nor should they target a single person out of 95% to give all of their well-researched policy changes. I want some. I want $5000 so I can pay off my college loan and I want the economy to change... but I don't want it to change in four years because I want to buy land reeeeaaaallllllllly cheap... if'n I can get a mortgage these days. Wait, who am I rooting for anyhow?

I think McCain said, in the same response, "we need to spread the wealth around," and then, "we don't need to spread the wealth around." Is that correct?

I wish that Obama had said, "Sarah Palin may have been a clever choice for running mate, McCain, and she may be governor of the largest territory in the nation, but she's governing fewer people than live in D.C. Oh, and she supports people who want to kill me." I'm not sure how he kept face on that question. If Sarah Palin is a role model for women, I guess we can erase the last 40 years of women's lib. Especially after McCain's remark that "her husband's a pretty tough guy, too." Does this mean that it would really be Todd Palin as VP, or that he would be holding her hand? Or does it imply that she is also a tough guy? Senator Government probably thought up so many good comebacks after the debate was over. I can imagine him lying in bed with Michelle and being like, "yeah, well if she's a role model for women, than I'm Mr. T. Ha! Take that. . . no, you're not Bush, but you're still an old white puckered-faced asshat. . . "

I would like to spend a day, or maybe an evening, with Obama, make him a pizza, have a beer, and talk about music. I think he could use a break; four to eight years as president is going to give him a lot of gray hair. He is welcome into my strange home any time.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A brew update

I want to inform all listeners-in on this blog that, as noted before, I am back in brewing business. Next week I shall open what has come to be known around the house as "Over the Top Hop," which I may extend to be "Over the Top Hop Parade," and it will be hoppy. It will probably be the last hoppy thing that happens to my carboy for a long time. Plans for now are... well, last week I realized that a freeze is coming soon, and those grapes and apples in the yard aren't gonna like it much, so I better get them drunk 'fore too long. Thus:

a Pyment: honey wine (mead) with grapes


a Pyment with the juice of delicious apples

Just one gallon of each, each gallon also containing a pound of local honey and Blanc yeast, now going "blip, blip, blip," (as digital as fermenting gets) inside the insulated box in the kitchen, 'cause who knows what kind of temperature fluctuations go on in there. It should take about a month to finish, and a questionable amount of time before it's completely delicious.

Speaking of wines, Liz's mom is here in Eugene now; from their cousin's wedding they returned bearing three gallon-sized bags FULL OF CHEESE. Their cousin is a cheese broker. So today we took a little trip to King Estate winery and had lunch-- trout club sandwich, sweet potato chips with truffle oil, greens salad, honey thyme ice cream (wow), and the Alsatian flight which included a pinot grigio, Gewurztraminer, and Riesling; the Gewurtz the outright best of the three with the best body, mild tang, and peach/apricot hints that went well with the meal... and we bought a bottle to go with some of the cheese-- goat and manchego, if we have it. I feel rich. I have been cultureshocked. The mountains southwest of Eugene are refreshing, serene (apart from the visible logging), and a place I would consider steading.

I am in the public library at a table and I think there is somebody doing something inappropriate directly across from me, so I'm gonna go now.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Horse of a Different Crater

This has been a week of implosions. Had my car window smashed in on Saturday; saw the deepest lake in the country; learned of the collapse of a business that was my home and my family for many years, if not my whole life; and now I get to hear the national marketplace squeak and slither to a halt on the TV that blares constantly from the living room while I am in the kitchen experimenting with glutinous rice balls wrapped around sweet bean paste; they look like fried eggs from a charred chicken.

It's a lake that fills the carcass of the volcano called Mount Mazana, and it's so deep you could stack the Sears tower twice at its deepest point and, because of the water displaced, it probably would not stick above the surface. The water is, indeed, bluer and clearer than the sky, which happened to be quite hazy from forest fires burning a few miles off. Liz and I met Tony there on Sunday. The story of how we got there is exciting: My passenger window was smashed in sometime Friday night/Saturday morning, and we temporarily cancelled the trip because nobody could replace the window on Saturday. Oh, and nothing was stolen. So my housemate Trey suggested I go to the junkyard and pull a window; we first opened up the door's guts and extracted the bits and chunks, figured out how it all works. The junk yard happened to have the exact window I needed sitting on their shelves, so for $50 I got a new window and put it in myself (total savings: $110). So we uncancelled our trip to Crater Lake, which was fortuitous becuase Sunday night was the last night the campsites were open for the rest of the season. What luck!

It was a good trip; two good hikes, good beer, great jam around the campfire. Yep. So we got back on Monday. The beer seemed to have stopped fermenting after transfer to the secondary, but it had actually lowered four points gravity (a good thing; means alcohol is being produced) and tastes like... well, to put it mildly, it's DAMN HOPPY. I mean geez.

I can't say that it was a big surprise to hear of Olsson's closing. That said, I was in shock for most of yesterday after receiving links to the two Washington Post articles that gave brief praise and condolences to the passing of a former D.C. icon. So it went; the way of the Pony Express. You can't put wheels and an engine on a horse, and you can't make digital that which relies on physical space and material to exist; that is the Achilles heel of book and record stores that still rely on expensive retail space and an ambulatory customer base. And what could have been done? To compete with Amazon and iTunes is like... well, you understand all that. Monolith.

For Olsson's to not last through the spending season, though, seems to me a harbinger, a real live harbinger. This spending season will probably be deflated by media attention to the stumbling drunk economy and the "black guy or white woman" question (why it's even a question is beyond me; that person, that human being named Sarah Palin is an idiot, while that other human being named Barack Obama can form many complex sentences without tripping over his tongue). My expert prognosis is "not good," possibly "hunker down" in regards to the coming months as we watch Capitol Hill: The Reality Show Where Everybody Loses When One Person Fucks Up on TV.

As a person with EDS (Employment Deficiency Syndrome), I am sarcastically enthusiastic, gleeful to have moved to a place where jobs were already scarce and at a time when my interest lies in an area (making things out of wood, primarily) that requires oodles of money to start up. That's my whine.

I would like to say, to have said, "I have the perfect solution! This bookstore will no longer flounder at the whim of dispassionate corpo-nazis!" And to have had a new direction, some old-world method pulled out of an attic that would actually freshen the business, would force people to get off of the internet and walk, actually walk with their feet and legs and swinging arms, blinking eyes, sweating foreheads, into the store that they know is the best because it's been around longer than any other, because they know a bunch of people who worked there and see them on the street and at concerts, or who met their lovers there, or because it smells like paper acid dust that turns the music in the air into a blanket that feels so good you just have to bring the music home. Isn't that how it's supposed to be? The answer is "YES."