Sunday, October 31, 2004

I had another fun dream last night. My father-in-law was running a tow-boat/search-and-recovery operation on the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge. FIL is an agricultural economist/university professor IRL, so this was quite a departure for him. FIL was on the river because he owed P-Diddy Combs several thousand dollars. He couldn't pay P-Diddy because somebody else had taken advantage of him and fleeced him of his funds. I didn't know the exact nature of the debt to P-Diddy, but I did know that FIL was furious with Steve Croft for reporting the story on 60 Minutes in a light most unfavorable to FIL. What on Earth a recent LDS mission president was doing hanging out with P-Diddy is an interesting question. At one point, FIL decided to take a group of us fishing in the tow-boat. We got to a lake in the tow-boat, even going over some dry land. Once at the lake, however, I was surprised to see that we were being trained in search-and-recovery techniques by scuba instructors. However, we still had our rods and reels. I was surprised but pleased to strap on a tank. That's when the dream ended.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

For several reasons, the past few weeks have been an emotional roller coaster ride for me, and I feel myself wanting to have a mini-breakdown to get it all over with. It's like having nausea and wanting to make yourself throw up so you can get on with life. As some of you know, I've been active on the Internet boards that I've sworn off again and again. I suppose that the boards have proven to be a valuable stress-reliever. Why are those things so addictive? I've also made contact with some old friends to whom I haven't spoken in years. That has also proven fruitful.

Kid update: A. has decided that DW is his favorite parent, and he wants almost nothing to do with me. That wouldn't be so bad, but he is overtly hostile about it. T. is doing well at St. Mary's -- it looks like the infection outbreak that caused all the boils has died down up there -- but yesterday the trainer told me that T. looked homesick while he listened to me talk on the telephone. I do miss T.'s happiness and his bounciness, and I really haven't gotten over the guilt of placing him in an institutional setting.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

I heard yesterday that Craig the Philosopher will be leaving the office next month to go to work at a big law firm. Congratulations, Craig.

Check out One of my roommates from law school lives there with his DW and their three kids. The place had been abandoned for years when they bought it. Now it looks like something in a Merchant Ivory film. However, my ex-roommate isn't a snooty British expatriate -- far from it, as I recall.

I was thinking this morning on the drive in about a little joke I had with the office film fanatic a few years ago. I suggested that we think about how different directors would do that worst of all big movies, "Titanic." We didn't get too far with it back then, but here are a few of my ideas:

-- Martin Scorsese: Leonardo and Kate have sex in the backseat of the car, then Leonardo drags Kate to the kitchen and shoves her head into a pizza oven.

-- Brian de Palma: Kathy Bates stands up at dinner, grabs a baseball bat, and clubs Billy Zane to death as the assorted high-society dinner guests look on in horror.

-- Jonathan Demme: The White Star Line official who gets away in a lifeboat gets the munchies. He viciously kills, then eats, the other lifeboat passengers. He opens a small box that he brought along and has a snack of fava beans and a nice chianti.

-- David Fincher: As the ship starts to sink, Leonardo begins spouting puerile philosophy about masuclinity in modern America. Leonardo and Kate stand on the door in the water and beat the hell out of each other until they both fall into the water and freeze to death.

-- Michael Moore: After hearing that the ship has hit an iceberg, the Titanic's captain continues to listen to a child read a book about a goat for seven full minutes. During that time, Moore speculates aloud what must be going through the captain's head. Much of Moore's film focuses on the murky ties between the captain, a Serbian terrorist group, and Tsar Nicholas II. Moore builds a case for the proposition that the sinking of the "Titanic" was used as a pretext for World War I.

A few more:

Billy Wilder: Kate murders Leo upon hearing that the ship has hit an iceberg. She descends the grand staircase and says, "I'm ready for my closeup now, Mr. de Mille."

David Lean: Keeps the movie as long as it is; however, we get gorgeous vistas of sea and sky throughout. Also, Leo kills Billy Zane and is disturbed that he enjoyed doing so. Russian Navy appears and drags Leo off to fight for the Bolsheviks (okay, my timeline is off on that one).

Federico Fellini: Everybody dresses in circus attire and parties as the ship sinks. Nobody attempts to get away. Life is absurd, so why bother?

Ingmar Bergman: The sinking ship is a metaphor for the existential crisis within us all. Nobody leaves the ship; instead, everybody commits suicide.

Anybody else have any movie thoughts?

Monday, October 18, 2004

My DW is an obsessive reader of novels, mostly in the mystery genre. A couple of weeks ago, I had the bright idea of reading some of those novels myself. I've ploughed through "The Da Vinci Code" and "Angels and Demons" by Dan Brown, and now I'm reading "The Rule of Four" by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason. All three novels remind me of Umberto Eco's "The Name of the Rose" and "Foucault's Pendulum," but all of them are more accessible than Eco tends to be. I enjoy the idea of taking some historical book, idea, rumor, or superstition, and basing a detective story on it. I liked "Angels and Demons" better than "The Da Vinci Code," but that may just be because "A&D" is set in Italy and has a more surprising villain. "The Rule of Four" is exceptionally written and does a dead-on parody of academic disputes over obscure topics that nobody really cares about. However, the academic dispute in the novel involves a secret that people are willing to kill to keep. I can't wait to finish it and find out the secret and whodunit.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Today's Daily Zen:

Resting at my open window
I gaze out at mountains
A thousand peaks of blue and purple
Rise above the pines
Without a thought or care
White clouds
Come and go
So utterly accepting
So totally relaxed.

- Han-shan Te-ch’ing (1546-1623)

I had a couple of odd dreams one night last week. In the first dream, I'm driving on an interstate highway in St. Louis, looking for the local Mormon temple -- not to go do temple work, but just to drive past it. I know that the St. Louis temple is on a hill at the interchange of two interstates, at the location of the former Missouri Baptist College. When I arrive at the interchange, all I see on the hill is a shabby old Baptist church with a neon cross and neon signage.

In the second dream, I'm naked and seated in somebody's living room. I am part of a nudist Zen group. We are preparing to attend a conference in St. Louis. We dress and load up into a car caravan, then we drive up Interstate 55. End of dream.

Monday, October 11, 2004

What is it about people and their conspiracy theories? I had a little fun this morning on an Internet bulletin board twitting a guy who thinks that George W. Bush and John Kerry are conspiring together to create a New World Order because they are both alumni of the Skull and Bones society at Yale University. I always thought Skull and Bones was a campus fraternity, meaning that members drink themselves silly and work harder at getting laid than at taking control of the world. My understanding of the conspiracy world is that Skull and Bones is part of a larger conspiracy started by Cecil Rhodes and involving Oxford, the U.N., the Council on Foreign Relations, the Rockefellers, the Rothschilds, and numerous investment banks. It has to do with placing everybody under the control of one world government. Looking at the world as it is right now, I'd say that this conspiracy, if it exists, is a pretty dismal failure. Nationalism, Islamo-fascism, tribalism, and other nasty -isms are running rampant, despite the work of these dastardly conspirators.

Then there are the left-wing conspiracy theories, most prominently those portrayed by Oliver Stone and Michael Moore. I laughed myself silly throughout the movie "JFK," which posited that Lyndon Johnson, a bunch of evil Texans, and the military-industrial complex conspired with anti-Castro Cubans to murder a president who was going to withdraw American troops from Vietnam. Now I suppose it's a bunch of evil Texans conspiring with Halliburton and the Saudi Royal Family. Whatever. Hey, I'm a native Texan, so you shouldn't take my word for this or anything else.

I suspect that a great many people cannot understand or accept the complexities of political reality, so they come up with elaborate conspiracy theories to explain everything. One of my far-right relatives told me that she believes that everything in politics is conspiratorial. I, of course, think that she's totally insane.

What do y'all think of political conspiracy theories?

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Anybody interested in autism or Asperger's syndrome should click on the link to Marc's blog. He's posted some good articles and links. Thanks, Marc.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Geez, what a wacky weekend. A. was bonkers from 9:00 a.m. Saturday until at least 6:00 p.m. Sunday (as I'm writing). He has been unable to remain at home for more than a little bit at a time, so I've been hauling him here, there, and everywhere. Today was Chuck E. Cheese, Target, the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and the local mall. Yesterday was both local parks, McDonald's playland, and the mall. Also, he's been putting crayons in water, then arranging them on the carpet, making paintings worthy of Andy Worhol. That leads to me bringing in the Bissell, which flips A. out, which means another trip out. The beach was really fun -- A. and I walked 200 yards or so out into the Gulf, and he flopped around like a fish. When he was ready to go, he walked me back to the van and DW.

We spoke with T. this afternoon. For the first time, he cried when he heard our voices. So add a large dose of guilt to the chaos of running with A.