Thursday, April 15, 2004

Yes, let's join him 

Speaking of queer (snicker snicker) endorsements for marijuana, I noticed a very odd banner at the NORML website today. It featured budget European travel maven (yes, I do think that's an appropriate word) and effette heterosexual Rick Steves giving his enlightened, lisping endorsement to the organization. As if he weren't interesting enough (I've watched his Sunday PBS broadcast, even though I've seen them all multiple times by now, weekly, when I can remember, since my late teens), now I want to get stoned with him.


Wednesday, April 14, 2004


Today, with ironic precision, Peepster Mattax passed away quietly, at 4:20 pm, under the warm, calming security of morphine after suddenly acquiring an antibiotic-resistant blood infection. I like to think that he was laughing at us all for assuming he didn't know that each of us had smoked pot in his house at some point.

I first met the dear man only a few years ago, evern though I'd known his granddaughter, Megan, since high school. When I met him I thought him to be infinitely more congenial than my own granddad; while the two of them were each veterans of World War II, the Peepster had moved on and shed any of the intolerance that my grandpa masked as good old country boy fundamentalism. I didn't even notice that he was showing symptoms of mid-stage Alzheimer's, if that's any measure of his character. I loved him because I thought he was a funny old codger, perpetually smiling and perpetually devoted to his roomate Jolene, a 100+ pound chunk of white puppy. I later found out that Jolene's intimidating weight was due in large part to the Peepster's insistence on providing her with milkshakes, cereal with milk, and all manner of other foods that most college students covet dearly but can't afford. One night, stoned as all get out, Megan invited me over to listen to a Madonna album. I remember being intensely anxious and paranoid knowing that, bleary-eyed and cotton-mouthed, we were obviously intoxicated mere footsteps from her grandfather's bedroom. Megan started telling me stories of Peepster's past generosities and all-encompassing good mood, and I calmed, slowly but unquestionably, as I thought of how cool he must be. Later, after his condition called for reliable supervision, Megan invited some of us to come live in his house, not only to provide money for the family, but also to fill that house that called for vibrancy and activity, the house that sat uncomfortable in its own idleness. Bad times aside, we rocked like motherfuckers in that house, and when I think now of Peepster, I see him as a stream of graces that I owe his memory, a flashing stream of stickyfilm pictures documenting the revelry that we all got to experience together under his laurels, his pride, the home that was the product of a self-made man. I think of the stories of him having fun goofing with his neighbors in assisted living, of moments of lucidity that would bubble up to the surface in testament of his humanity.

Hats off, Peepster. You rock.

Make it happen 


Monday, April 12, 2004

Official GRE scores 

For my friends who care, here's how I've fared:
Verbal: 730 (98th percentile... sweet!)
Quantitative: 640 (57th percentile... still better than average, but ugh)
Analytical writing: 6.0 out of 6.0 (which interestingly translates into 95th percentile...double sweet!)

While this isn't my free ticket into the upper tier graduate programs by a long shot (thanks, math), I'll settle for (far) less and happily choose a destination based on the highest bidder... and nearest beach/mountain chain/national park. Anybody know any good biological science or publich health programs in Amsterdam or Paris?

Time to fetch some cool whip for my happy piece of celebration cobbler (which is, by official command, blackberry... envy my celebration cobbler). Amber: send accompanying celebration corn toads. And celebration fried potatoes.

Presidential Daily Briefing, 6 August 2001 

A transcript, folks, to contribute to the general psychological malaise of all involved parties. You know, as a historical document.

It is impossible to make any assumptions concerning actions that could have taken place in regard to this briefing; however, it is imperative that a republican government consistently judge itself with respect to the responsibility it bears to accurately represent a population. Whatever the case, draw your own conclusions. Hyphens indicate portions of the document which remain classified. All emphases are mine.

Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate bin Laden since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the US. Bin Laden implied in U.S. television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and "bring the fighting to America."

After U.S. missile strikes on his base in Afghanistan in 1998, bin Laden told followers he wanted to retaliate in Washington, according to a -- -- service.

An Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) operative told - - service at the same time that bin Laden was planning to exploit the operative's access to the U.S. to mount a terrorist strike.

The millennium plotting in Canada in 1999 may have been part of bin Laden's first serious attempt to implement a terrorist strike in the U.S.

Convicted plotter Ahmed Ressam has told the FBI that he conceived the idea to attack Los Angeles International Airport himself, but that in ---, Laden lieutenant Abu Zubaydah encouraged him and helped facilitate the operation. Ressam also said that in 1998 Abu Zubaydah was planning his own U.S. attack.

Ressam says bin Laden was aware of the Los Angeles operation. Although Bin Laden has not succeeded, his attacks against the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 demonstrate that he prepares operations years in advance and is not deterred by setbacks. Bin Laden associates surveyed our embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam as early as 1993, and some members of the Nairobi cell planning the bombings were arrested and deported in 1997.

Al Qaeda members -- including some who are U.S. citizens -- have resided in or traveled to the U.S. for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks.

Two al-Qaeda members found guilty in the conspiracy to bomb our embassies in East Africa were U.S. citizens, and a senior EIJ member lived in California in the mid-1990s.

A clandestine source said in 1998 that a bin Laden cell in New York was recruiting Muslim-American youth for attacks.

We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a ---- service in 1998 saying that Bin Laden wanted to hijack a U.S. aircraft to gain the release of "Blind Sheikh" Omar Abdel Rahman and other U.S.-held extremists.

Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.

The FBI is conducting approximately 70 full-field investigations throughout the U.S. that it considers bin Laden-related. CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our embassy in the UAE in May saying that a group or bin Laden supporters was in the U.S. planning attacks with explosives.


Sunday, April 11, 2004

Cold spell 

Friday night saw the warm gurgle of spring quelled by a rapid blanket of cold air that wrung the moisture from the atmosphere over the course of three days. It was a fitting complement to the tone that followed the daily progression, warmth giving way to dank coolness. Friday found me sheparded away from a get together by awkwardness, only to be led by it to what it knew best, which was apparently more of the same. Saturday brought a cacophony of good intentions that, predictably, swelled into grumpiness upon exposure to the unseasonable cool. Easter Sunday was the family circus I'd expected it to be (and I certainly played my part), although the bitter was accompanied by equal, if not greater, amounts of the sweet.

Gina and A.J. are great at parenting, and my parents are enjoying participating in the process from no-longer-so-far away. I forgive them all their oversights and inattentivenesses; I can tell that every penny of it is being spent on the good cause of that little girl's happy roundedness. Andy is again enmeshed in the joys of triviality and an unscheduled life, although he's already demonstrated a mastery of covert disobediance, upon which my eyes (and camera, that dumbass) are steadfastly trained as I refuse to be dragged through that shit again if he nosedives.

You know what they say, ritual de lo habitual. He brought that girl over last night (the one who was living here when he most ungracefully caught the house on fire with lantern fuel and cheap meth equipment) quite late when he expected that I would not yet be in, but I lifted my head from the couch enough to greet them with a smile and a coy "howdy." Mimicking his gesture, I let the tick-bearing dog come in for the night. I thought I'd let it pass (no I didn't), but when she scared my cat and giggled that hideous piggish chortle, I commenced a diatribe of such startling crescendo that I tasted blood from my splitting, tensed vocal cords. I honestly don't remember much of it, but I do recall laughing at her on the grounds that it took her and my brother's meth follies to get me my own studio, as the reclaimed and tediously cleaned room was a barren, carpetless wasteland that just shouted 'fill me up with something so I don't look so obviously like the site of a weak felony.' I do recall needing a joint (my last, on top of everything) and half a dozen cigarettes to calm down afterward. The stinging hoarseness today makes me smile to remember it, and I hope the two of them dare to try and transgress my rules again, as I have no objections to hitting a girl... hard. Strike one.

Happy Easter all, whatever persuasion qualifies you. May chocolate bunnies fill your baskets perennially (and hooray for the three-day supply of egg salad that results from a dozen hard-boiled eggs).


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