Ink & Paper

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Nothing, absolutely nothing, will ever top Calvin and Hobbes.

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Christmas 1914 saw the world in the flux of war. Amid the insanity, a Christmas Truce was called between the British and German frontlines. Soccer in no-man's land. An interesting read and cause for reflection.

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Friday, December 23, 2005

Blog Finds O' the Week

Note: If it says NSFW (not safe for work) it means don't open it when your boss/wife is standing behind you. It also means don't call me when you get caught by said boss/wife.

1. Yea, I was supposed to be there on the day this was filmed, showing them some new stuff. But I was too busy killing Chuck Norris. Wicked.

2. Reuters pictures of the year. #15 is haunting.

3. Kirsten Dunst is handicapped. Or an insensitive bitch. Your call.

4. Family Guy insults the Red Dot. (NSFW ads)

5. Do you laugh when you see kids crying because they are terrified of Santa? I know I do.

6. Robin Williams on the origins of golf. (Lots of swearing, but lots of funny too)

7. Grandma vs. Yuppie. Go Grandma!

8. Wrestling makes men cry. (NSFW-ish ads)

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 10:13 PM ~~ 1 bonsai trees

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November 30

Dear Wichita,

I woke into a bad mood today, a fighting mood if I wasn't so hungover from trying to erase memories. I went in to work, at the bar, and didn't say much of anything to anyone, including the customers. You want a beer, you got a beer, no small talk.

"You in a bad mood today D, or what?" asked the boss, a woman named Cheryl who had spent too much time in smoky bars. Her skin was lined, her eyes weary. She was on the downside of 40 but hanging on to youth with every treatment known to man.


"Mind me asking why?"


"Fine, I don't care. Look just don't be a prick to the customers ok? That's all I ask."


Cheryl was mad now but she would get over it. I wasn't important enough in her life, a life of social events and casual encounters, to matter. She walked back into the kitchen and I turned to face the crowd waiting for their soma.

"I'll have a Bud," said a jock-looking guy. He had a jarhead haircut and not a whole lot of neck. I figured he had butted his way to the front of the line.

I looked at the pretty girl standing next to him. She was wearing a tight black tank top and wore her dyed hair in a flexible way. It was done up bar-style tonight, a Friday night.

"Hey I said I want a Bud," the jock said, his jaw clenching slightly. I looked at him with a rather withering stare, just brief enough to let him know I truly didn't care what he wanted.

"What can I get you?" I asked the pretty girl. I figured that she wasn't with him, she seemed smarter than that.

"Hey, what the fuck man? I was here first," stammered the jock.

"Dude, ladies first, have you no class?"


"Plus she's better looking than you."

His buddies howled at that one. He even smiled a little. I enjoy calling a musclehead ugly and not getting my ass kicked. Definitely not in Kansas anymore.

"I'll have a rye 'n' ginger," she said, smiling slightly, her brown eyes dropping to the floor.

I poured her a generous one. "That'll be $3.25."

She handed it over, a small tip included.



"Hey," I stuttered, suddenly awkward, "What's your name?" Awkward.

I wasn't supposed to 'fraternize' with the paying customer, but Cheryl was in the kitchen, probably berating Julio, the illegal immigrant who we called a cook. Poor Julio, but Cheryl would make it up to him later. So said the rumor mill. Fuck it then. I asked.

"Anna-Marie. Most people call me Anna."



"Nice to meet you Anna. I'm Dan."

"Nice to meet you Dan."



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Everyone can go read my new sister-in-laws new blog, bethysbubble, as she just put up the first post ever. New. You'll be like a pioneer in the old days. Except without the BO.*

*Obviously this doesn't include Jeff. He has mad BO.

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Four new posts for December 22 below this one.

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November 29, Part II

Dear Wichita,

Amy the English Lit-chick asked me what I thought about Bush listening to our phone conversations.

"I suppose it would matter if we had anything at all worth saying."

"It matters you know." She was mildly indignant.

"Yea, I'm sure it does. My world is shaken."

"If you don't pay attention you can't complain."

"Can I still complain about you?"

"Fuck off Dan."

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 10:58 PM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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I stole this picture from Raymi because I like it.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 10:53 PM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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November 29

Dear Wichita,

I can't help but think of Mary lately, especially after paying for that girl's bagel. The promise of youth, yet to run the gauntlet of risks that life entails, so ignorant of the game of life, a game of chance.

You know Mary didn't mean to hit those kids right? I know, I know she was drunk and high and probably couldn't find her way out of an empty room. I was amazed that throughout the whole trial no one ever wondered who started the car in the first place. I guess it wasn't a big deal, the end result was the same. Who knows, maybe Mary managed to start the car herself. I doubt it, but then again.

It is that fragility of youth, that shattered persona in a crowded bagel shop, that can go either way, into the abyss of meth or the ivory towers of college. Even so, I don't think anyone suspected Mary's downfall. Girls like her aren't supposed to end up serving time and carrying guilt. They're supposed to marry and have two point five kids and a minivan to go to soccer games and PTA meetings.

I knew that she was into it pretty good, we all were. All those weekends that slipped into Wednesdays. Maybe that's your fault Wichita, the only option you gave us being unrestricted college freedom. It still feels better to blame someone else. That's how my generation is, you know.

I still have flashbacks, old pictures of Mary that run through my head even though it has been over a year since the trial. Mary swimming naked in the river, laughing in the moonlight. Mary sweet talking the cops, getting herself or someone else out of a jam. Mary studying, her blond hair falling about her face, her brown framed glasses reflecting sunlight onto her tanned arm. Mary standing in that fake-wood docket, her blond hair pulled back into a ponytail, eyes wet from tears. Looking pale as the victim impact statements were read aloud. All five of them.

Mary being led away by the bailiff, the sacrificial lamb for our hedonistic ways. The brief second of eye contact we shared, holding a moment in time where we knew we were over, everything was over and would never be the same again.

Mary on the front page of the newspapers, looking destroyed.

I thought about Mary yesterday as I watched that girl carry her bagel to a corner table.

I wondered what path the bagel girl's life would take, what kind of friends she hung out with, what kinds of pressures she was under and how she would cope with them. I wondered if she would have to move to a different city to find space and a sense of anonymity. Or if she would be ok, a picture on her mother's mantle.

I looked in the mirror last night, not for any sense of fashion or togetherness, but for my soul. I wondered what kind of boyfriend lets his girl go driving when she is so high she can't find her shoes or spell her name. I wondered what kind of guy shifts himself into the shadows while his supposed love is bathed in the harsh light of tv cameras. I wondered what kind of college dropout stands idly by as his girl takes all the blame. The same kind of guy that rides a three AM bus out of town, wearing a low hat.

I looked away. There aren't too many of us that can stare ourselves down in a mirror, but I guess I'm one of them.

The sky outside is dark and misty, casting odd grey light into my apartment. I'm laying on my twin sized bed, staring up at the ceiling, through the ceiling, a thousand yard stare. A siren in the distance sends a little shiver down my back.

If you can, Wichita, tell Mary I'm sorry. I'm sorry for the whole fucking thing.

Tell her I'll write her sometime.

Christ. I shouldn't have gone here tonight.


A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 10:43 PM ~~ 5 bonsai trees

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1. What's your favorite part of Festivus?

a. The Airing of Grievances

b. The Festivus Pole

c. The Feats of Strength

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Good op-ed on the politics and money behind the NY city transit strike.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 10:50 PM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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"I wish I was addicted to drugs, then maybe my life would be more interesting."

Now that, that is a quote.

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"You know how I know that you're gay? You listen to Coldplay."

I, the music snob that I am, have long since cast Coldplay into a pile of early-Radiohead wannabes, complete with the high vocals of Chris Martin.

But being that there was nothing to do tonight I caught a few minutes of Coldplay on Austin City Limits. I wasn't overly impressed until Michael Stipe of REM came out for a duet. I missed the REM bandwagon back in the late 80s, but I find that I respect Stipe more and more every time that I see and hear him. While I cannot claim to be a devoted follower, I think Stipe is one of those artisits whose influence is underrated.

Anyway, Stipe came on and sang two songs. His second song may have been titled "Night Swimming" and was flat out gorgeous. Martin was on piano, early Dylan-haircut in tow, and doing an admirable job of ivory dancing.

I regained some appreciation of Martin, not because of his piano skills or haircut, but for a single moment at the end of the song. Many artists will say stuff like: "So-and-so has been a hero of mine forever." The fans clap, the singers sing, and then you never see them working together again. Martin said the same thing before introducing Stipe.

But at the end of the song, a song that Martin claimed to be the best ever written (a Stipe song, obviously), as the last note faded, Martin thrust both arms in the air. It wasn't fake. Martin looked liked a kid who had just won a chance to shake his hero's hand.

Martin meant it.

And that little action spoke more to me about Martin's music credibility than any of his songs ever could.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 8:43 PM ~~ 4 bonsai trees

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November 28

Dear Wichita,

Patience isn't much of a virtue in a big city where people are consistently wet and drink too much coffee.

I was waiting in line for my bagel, en route to the bus stop, and there was a girl, maybe 13 or 14 ahead of me in line. Her bagel was sitting on the counter, ready to go. She was digging through her purse, looking for money. The search became more frantic and soon it was obvious to all of us in line behind her that she didn't have enough money.

She wasn't street kid or nothing like that. She looked middle class, probably just spent one too many dollars on the latest fad sweeping through her junior high. Her face was growing red with embarassment. The man behind the counter, sporting a thick black moustache better suited to a bad 70s sitcom than modern day life, watched the girl with a dark look of humour.

"C'mon honey, pay up. People are waiting."

"I know, I know," she stammered. Her voice sounded little, a glimpse of the fragility of youth.

I could hear people muttering behind me.

She kept digging.

The mouth under the moustache frowned. "Next!" he yelled, startling the girl, who dropped her purse, its contents spilling out onto the floor. Someone snickered.

I was next.

"What will it be?"

I just put a five dollar bill on the counter, took the girl's bagel and handed it to her. Her eyes were watery.

"Thanks," she mumbled, eyes falling to the floor.

"Don't mention it."



A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 6:46 PM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

November 27

Dear Wichita,

Amy was chatting at me last night at the bookstore. It came as no surprise to me that her boyfriend and her are no more. She was remarkably composed while telling me the initial details of the breakup, but that could only last for so long. Soon she was crying, running to the back room. For twenty minutes. Nice. Oh, don't worry about the 20 customers in the store and the ringing phone, no its ok, go cry into a wad of toilet paper and stare into the mirror. For twenty minutes. Girls.

She wandered back out, all red eyed and flushed, trying to look like she had her shit together. I would have felt sorry for her if her story was anything close to Mary's and mine. But it wasn't, Amy's story was just another teenage drama romance collapse, complete with her assumption that everyone cares. I could have blown her weak breakup story out of the water with just a few tidbits of info about Mary and me, but I'm not ready to go there yet. I honestly think that Amy is convinced that there is a TV camera filming her, like she is on some damp and ugly version of the OC.

I basically ignored her for the rest of the night. I was sure to run the store's CD player like it was my own, I didn't need Amy listening to her girl noise and start bawling again. Ugh, I might start crying if I have to listen to Hilary Duff's watered-down version of cry-rock. She looked like she wanted to start talking about it again, but she wasn't going to tell me anything I didn't already know. And plus I'm in a callous mood lately, so I basically made myself scarce.

Guten came in, spent a long time in the front corner of the store wandering through a nearly-destroyed copy of The Metamorphosis by Kafka. Its a good read and one of my favorites, but Guten is so self-contained that to approach him, or to even look him in the eye, is overly daunting, especially for a just-over minimum wage Kansas import like me. Who am I to disturb him? He would leave me alone at Hock's, so I reasoned that I should leave him alone when he is in his sanctuary. Seems fair.

Ugh, I guess I should do something with my life before I have to go my shift at the bar. That's the problem working late shifts. You work so late and sleep in, so most of the day is gone by the time you wake up, only to go to work again. It is the 9-5 grind, only PM to AM, not the other way round. I got a few hours to go before work, and I really need some new clothes, jeans specifically. Just because my hair makes me look like a hobo, doesn't mean I have to dress like one. I'm out to impress, don't you know?

Yea, I'm out to impress all right. Big city, bright lights, and plenty of seriously dark nights.

Impressed yet?

Yea, me neither.


A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 10:01 AM ~~ 1 bonsai trees

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Monday, December 19, 2005

Start here if you are late to the party.
November 26
Dear Wichita,

I called in sick to the bar today and am instead out and about the Pike Place market. It is just after 400pm and the post-work crowd is gathering for a drink before heading home. I am in a little cafe called Hock's and am sipping a coffee, surfing the net, and watching people walk past the window. I have hunkered down in a big comfy chair near the front and seemed to have staked out a little piece of property. There is a painting by a local artist hanging above me.

I'm not sick, just needed a night off, away from the smoke and smell of spilled booze. The pub is okay, I think I mentioned that the tips are good. I prefer the bookstore, but it doesn't pay all the bills, so the bar is here to stay for awhile. Ah well, it allows me some social contact, which I can use from time to time.

It's funny you know, the lack of social contact thing. While I moved to Seattle to get away from everything I grew up with and to meet new people with new views, I find that I am often more comfortable with only myself as company. Less meaningless chatter, I suppose. I do end up chatting with people, customers at work, but those conversations are pretty standard and largely empty. I haven't started talking to myself yet. Yet.

I don't have a phone yet and I don't think I'll be getting one. Surely this is something that is driving my mother nuts and is certainly adding to my sense of isolation. But when there is no one that would bother to call, is there much point in having one? I dunno, that's how I justify it.

It is a funny thing to live without a phone in perhaps the most interconnected country in the world. I don't miss it, frankly, although the amount of times I've had to give a fake number to some store or application that needs one to count me as a person has surprised me. I have the bookstore phone number listed here and there, although I am sure there is some housewife in Seattle wondering why someone keeps calling and asking for Daniel. I make her life a little more surreal, I suppose, a break from the kids and the gossiping mother hens.

This cafe is kind to me today. It is quiet, playing some soft jazz laced with hip hop beats, tones surrounded by earthy paints and sky blue pepper shakers shaped like question marks. There is a sign on the door, amidst all the posters for local bands and upcoming shows, that politely asks customers to turn off their cell phones. Wireless internet is okay, but no cell phones. A technological compromise, I suppose. I appreciate it.

This is a good place to feel alone. I hope Mary has a place like this in Wichita.

Feeling good,


A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 10:38 PM ~~ 2 bonsai trees

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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Juan Cole has an excellent analysis of why, despite high Sunni turnout for the Iraq elections, the insurgency will continue on. As well, he discusses the naive view the bush administration has, not only with Iraq, but with the grandiose fallacy of causing democracy to spread to other Middle Eastern countries. About a two minute read, but with bush scheduled to be on tv tonight, it would serve as a truthful balance to the rhetoric.

Read it here.

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