'Cause tonight tonight a bad man is coming for you

What interesting things happen to me at work! Yippee, hooray! I don't know if I'm living in a different planet (solar system, galaxy, universe), but when people with retail jobs talk about how boring things are at work, Jason cannot relate.

This is the part where I bring you up to speed. The new Harry Potter book is coming out on Saturday. It's going to be nuts in our book store, with a midnight opening/early morning opening/et cetera. The phone is ringing often and I hate it, and in a vague way I hate the people that are calling. Maybe not hate. Maybe dislike. Much.

Between rattling off the store's phone chatter every other minute-- "Hi, thanks for calling Borders Express, formerly Waldenbooks..." --this wild-eyed man with a ragged ballcap staggers to the register. His moustache twitches, the Star Trek pins on his hat look like they're trying to tear themselves off and run. He tosses down a William Johnstone book. A western.

Tangent-- I'm a big western film fan, and I also really really really enjoy Louis L'Amour books, especially since I consider L'Amour to be a fantastic storyteller. Literature, if you will. At the other end of the spectrum are the Longarm/Spur/Buckskin pulp westerns. They're male romance novels, all sex and violence and funny but not in a ha ha funny kind of way dialogue. I'm pretty sure Johnstone is somewhere in between L'Amour and Dirk Logan or whatever the pen name is of one of those hacks.

Johnstone. Yes, I ring it up, make small talk. The Star Trek pins look at me, screaming for help. The small talk involves Johnstone and the fact that I've seen this guy buying lots of Johnstone books before. He trembles and starts talking yeah man got 'em all yeah. The small talks quickly and violently swerves off the edge of the cliff, and the next thing I know he's telling me about the horror novels Johnstone wrote before Johnstone wrote westerns yeah man horror Devil's trilogy all cults hot damn main character Catholic preacher he's the chosen one-- Please...help...where's the manager?-- and fighting the cults but he made love to his wife and their kid like totally is gonna kick ass totally awesome and there's this other series he did -- customers in the store...other customers...help -- with these like homicidal maniacs who were killing women since they were 13 hot damn and all the gore totally nuts see there's a part with the cutting and the blades -- the phone rings, he keeps talking, his eyelids've been open for at least four minutes, the Star Trek pins trying to run but the metal through the dirty cloth keeping them there "Hey! Thanks for calling Borders...." and the person just had a quick question and he's back to it, full force -- oh man all the blood cutting the faces off and putting them in jars and totally looking at them whoa and it's nuts and the book is called the Mask see because hot damn they can put the faces on like masks and run around and cut people up with the blades and the knives and-- the phone rings again, and he's telling me he'll wait 'til I'm done so he can continue.

I draw out the conversation on the phone as long as I can. Yeah, we have that book. Want me to hold it for you? Want me to...order another one for you? How about your friends? Do you have children or grandchilden that want books ordered? Er-- I wasn't implying you were that old. I'm not sure how old you sound-- I --er---okay, bye-- but I gotta split dude cuz you know gotta go bye and the Star Trek pins bob away. I wave. Stay strong, little guys.

My neck hurts. I was bobbing my head up and down like someone was tugging a little too hard on the marionette string attached to my skull. Was this guy going to come after me with the knives and the stabbing? The parking lot is scary at night, towers splaying shadows from their bases with murky lights. Bad men are hiding near my Corolla. Bad men with cleavers. Cleavers and blood and duct tape. Waiting in my back seat. Waiting in my glove box, next to my Anders Parker CD. Beat them up Anders, please. You're my only hope.

But I'm at home, typing this. I'm safe. And work is not boring. Ever.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 7/14/2005 10:58:00 PM, ,

You lit the town in candlelight, flickering half bright

So last night I saw Richard Buckner and Anders Parker play live music to a crowd of live people. I'll type about it, howsaboutthat?

Picked up my friend-- the indestructible Greg --and we glided skatelike into Pittsburgh. There was a police party on the expressway, too; cruisers of all shapes and colors (and flavors?) were zipping by, hiding under bridges, slipping by my window at 90 mph. The five-oh was letting other, select friends into the party too; you could see all of them hanging out on the berm covered in a blinking wash of primary colors.

So the show. We make it to the South Side of the 'burgh and head into Club Cafe. As much as the South Side is a New Urbanism fantasyland, it's still a pain to find parking, especially since every conceivable space (including Mrs. Feenie's yard and the bored-out wall of that condemned building over thataway) is taken by automobiles. But we found a place RIGHT NEXT TO CLUB CAFE and I parked there and we paid ten dolla (two dolla less than I had thought) to amble past the pug-faced burlyman at the doors.

So back to the show. How did I get off topic? I take a breath and walk around the corner and size up the room and what the...there are seats? We got there as Anders Parker was tuning his guitar, getting ready to perform, and there're seats? We find a nice table fairly close and plop down. Not packed! WOO!

(See, as we discovered latter, and as Anders Parker mentioned, it was Wednesday night, and Wednesday night is anything but Go See Scary Men With Acoustic Guitars Night).

Just before Anders starts playing, a gal sits down in front of us, looking awfully like a member of the Peruvian Womens Soccer Team. A waitress glides around and gets my drink order, Sam Smith Oatmeal Stout BUT WAIT they don't have Sam Smith Oatmeal Stout on the menu anymore so I frown and mumble something ("ummmwutohhhhh"? maybe?) and randomly pick Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. I've never had it, but since I've not heard of it it must be good.

Anders plays, and it is good. He was in some rock and roll bands before, but now he's doing the one-man acoustic guitar and piano thing. He's got a big beard and a flannel shirt. If he had a hat on and an axe I'd be making lumberjack jokes, but I'll pass. I picked his new solo album up, and I just listened to it, and it's awesome. It's much more fleshed out (as in Anders plays lots of electric, acoustic, bass, piano) and there's drums too. Excellent stuff. But the waitress floats up and gives me the ale and I taste it and it is good.

Trend I noticed about the Club Cafe waitresses. A few years ago, when I first started going there for shows, the waitresses were normal middle-aged woman who took your order and so on, very nice-restaurantish. But with each visit, something happens. The waitresses have gotten smaller. More elfin. Pixielike. Shorter hair. And...tighter clothing. So two years ago it was like my mom serving me chili and drinks; now it's a 4'6" robot woman wearing toddler apparal. I'm scared that a year from now the serving staff will be consist of muscular men carrying a tiny case to your table, where they open it and Tinkerbell wisps out and asks if you want Becks or Becks Dark? Either that or you'll be able to see the waitresses' internal organs.

Then Buckner comes up and does his insane one-man band thing where basically plays one consistant song for an hour and ten minutes. The guy has written, like, at least 100 tunes, and plays a bunch of stuff connected by an orchestra of guitars he assembles by using a looping pedal and a battered Fender Jaguar and a ratty acoustic 12-string and a classical guitar and an e-bow. It's insane. He's an imposing figure, too. His head seems like it's going to touch the ceiling at one point, and he's got huge arms and cryptic tattoos and long hair and this INSANE DEEP STARE, a stare that rends your souls and makes you go into a coma. But he's shy and quiet, mumbling only a few words at the end of his set.

So it was a fun night. A fun Wednesday night with guys that tour the States in rusting station wagons.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 7/14/2005 04:10:00 PM, ,

They say a hero is coming soon, with ivory lungs like huge balloons

So there is a recently-released book-- "American Prometheus," by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin --that is getting rave reviews. It's about the "father of the atomic bomb," J. Robert Oppenheimer. Booklist called it "[a] remarkable life story."

I think I have a remarkable life story, but I don't have people calling me cool names like "American Zeus." Well, maybe my life ranks as a three on a one-to-ten scale of interestingness, and that's being generous.

But I'm stuck on this name thing. I thought "American Thor" would work well, but I can't divorce "Thor" from the Marvel Comics interpretation. That means I'd have to get a goofy helmet with little wings on it and hang around with the Avengers West Coast dorks (that Vision was a pain in the neck, wasn't he? Androids get the pretty girls, I guess)

So I'm going for American Apollo. I hope I don't get confused with THE Apollo. I think the name could stick. I'd be pretty cool, and awesome and terrifying bringer of justice, but also a cool dude that you could say 'hi' to in passing. I'll go into, what, let's say Target, and head for the men's department, dodging stray shopping carts and wandering customers, scoping out their prices, "Hi, can I help you?"s from the staff, Oh no the prices are too high justice must be done! and I'll flex and rip the fabric of time and space, the lonely shopping carts getting sucked into the black hole of justice I just created, screaming staff screaming that they'll lower the prices but can't because they get sucked into the black hole and even if they didn't they couldn't fix the prices because the price board just went zipppp by my head into nothingness. But I wouldn't always turn Targets into disaster areas. I might see a butterfly and smile and pull my lyre out and make beautiful music. It'd have to be American music, though, since I'd be the American Apollo.

Maybe someone will write a book about me called "American Apollo." I'm sure it'd get rave reviews, and if it didn't I'd fire an arrow from my Bow of Justice and somehow things would be okay. New York Times bestseller, for months--YEARS-- on end. Eat dirt Dan Brown. Maybe DECADES on end.

American Apollo. I kinda like that. But we'll see. I like being Jason a lot too.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 7/10/2005 08:53:00 AM, ,

Sleep comes to everyone

Especially me.

All of the time, too.

Flat out, no beating around the proverbial bush. Over the past few years I've had major sleeping problems. I think it's because of college. I hope it's because of college-- at least I'll have something to blame it on and not get worried and, like, want to find a doctor who specializes in the weird sleeping patterns of weird single mid-20s Christian writers. So don't even say it. It's college.

And by sleeping problems I mean one or all of the following:
-I get tired sometimes.
-I get tired all of the time.
-I get tired enough that I fall asleep while I'm standing.
-I don't really sleep well.
-My body craves more sleep than I get but I can't actually sleep that long (sorry, wanted a sentence that didn't start with self-centered pronouns).
-And when I do sleep for a long time, my body hurts and I get cranky and want to twist the heads off of little girls' dolls.

It might've started with some of my activities in college. Er-- that sounded dangerous. I was assistant editor of my college's student newspaper for a year, and not sleeping several days in a row became the norm. I hated it. But it basically re-wrote my sleep schedule. I went from night-owl to neversleep-owl, and it hate it oh so much.

It's not narcolepsy, and I know this for a fact. And this "essay" isn't a complaint, either. It's more of a rambling reflection, a nagging mindset that repeats itself every time my vision swims and my words trip out of my mouth as my body decides to shut down midday. This is why I get worried when Mr. Summertime rolls around; the humidity, coupled with my oh-so-tiredness, turns me in a zombie. Mmmmm....brains?

I don't know how to solve this. I might try sleeping more, but I've tried it before and it didn't work. I try getting to bed earlier, but...well, that's easier said than done. It's complicated. And besides, this little fact has been beating me over the head since I started typing this: why would I want to get more sleep? I have a killer resume filled with glorious snooze stories. I have had way too much fun doing things the past three years like:

Lots of people fall asleep in church or while reading or driving, but have you ever fallen asleep in your car after work? It's pretty fun. Maybe.

This activity (or lack of activity, whatever) hasn't been plaguing me as much the past few months. I'm definitely thankful, but the insane wacky adventures that come with being an avatar of Hypnos have grown on me. I'd tell you more, but I think I'm going to hit the sack.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 7/07/2005 08:32:00 PM, ,

And in this weather, only two things grow-- or three: frustration, hot tempers and disease

It's really not that hot right now.

The sun dipped behind the trees outside of my window hours ago. No tendrils of light. No amber rays frosting the horizon. No nothing.

But it's really humid.

My ceiling fan is roaring at high speed. I've turned off as many heat-oozing appliances as I could (want to guess what I didn't turn off? Need a hint?). Both windows look like they want to swallow me, the only thing missing is a few rows of serrated and hooked teeth.

So it's not that hot. It's not Sahara hot, Death Valley hot or even Florida hot. If it happened to be this hot, my face would be a puddle on the floor. But this humidity.

People have said that western Pennsylvania is notorious for humid summers (and geriatrics, but that was a different post). I'm a cold weather person, too. I love snow, falling leaves and the cool breezes of March. But as soon as pavement starts shattering and swim suits hang suspended in sidewalk sales, I run for shade. My body doesn't handle hot or humid weather too well. I don't think I've thought too much about "why," nor will I ever.

I hear a conversation between my father and his sister leaking from the kitchen. It's not heated, but sounds so; humidity does this sort of thing. I heard a promise not too long ago about releasing my home's air conditioning from its cage, but I'm still at the mercy of a rattling fan with less horsepower than a Hot Wheel.

My vision swims. My forearms slide on the elbow rests on my swivel chair, lubricated by a sheen of sweat. And I normally don't sweat much at all. I contemplate shuffling to the kitchen for an ice-cold glass of water, but I forget who I am and mumble something and spin around in my chair a few times before sleep's musty blanket smothers me. But only for a few moments.

A click, a whir. Cold air hits my feet and slowly fills my room like some sort of trap from an Indiana Jones film. I snap to my feet, slam my windows shut, giving the sticky air a moment to filter out through the screens. Not a moment too soon, either. I think I'm a pleasant person year round-- but only when it's not humid. My mood lightens as my dripping t-shirt empties its reservoirs.

But get this: I like this weather. Well, that's a lie. But I'm really trying. God made summer just as God made winter and autumn and spring. I need to be joyous about this weather. It's a beautiful time of year, heat or no heat. Maybe I'll go outside tomorrow.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 7/05/2005 02:42:00 AM, ,