Saturday, April 30, 2005

The children's section of the book store

It occured to me today as I stood in the children's books section at Bookpeople that I had never seen their parking lot from that vantage point. I had literally never set foot in their children's section before. I think I had made it as far as the young adult section, but no further. It's a whole other world over there, ruled by small children. There's this little cave hideaway thing for them to crawl around in, and a little ampitheater where they can be read to or performed for. And of course, Dr. Seuss has his own little section. We picked up their last copy of "Green Eggs and Ham" along with several books from the Little Golden Books series, which we will be reading to Ashley's stomach for the next few months, and then reading directly to our little cabbage once he or she has made his or her way out here into the world with the rest of us.

Friday, April 29, 2005

The Worrying Has Begun

The Holmes is a worrier folks. I try to keep it under wraps, but the fact is that I worry about things, particularly things that I don't have any control over whatsoever. Every now and then I remember that in fact I have no control over these things and remind myself that since I'm powerless to do anything, there's no point sweating it....that lasts for about three and a half seconds. Great big worry wart.

So my wife and I are now well into the fourth month of pregnancy. We've successfully made it past the three month mark, which is the period of time in which nearly all miscarriages occur. That's why you may not hear about somebody being pregnant until they've already been so for a while. It was the same with us, we chose not to tell people just in case. It was hard for me sometimes not to just blurt it out to all of our friends, but we had decided to keep it a secret until three months was up. And you can bet your ass that I spent that entire three months up to my ears in anxiety. And now that we're past that and I have that particular bit of stress taken off of my shoulders, I find there's plenty of other pregnancy-related shit to worry about. And as I look down the road, I realize that once it's born, there'll be more to worry about, and as it grows, even more. And more expensive! I mean, as a baby, it can maybe puke on the carpet, but as a teenager it can wreck my car. I guess this worrying shit continues until around the time you either die or develop Alzheimer's. All's I'm saying is, it had better be worth it. Because if it's not, I'm....I uh....well I guess there ain't shit I can do about it.

I'm just kidding folks. I know it's worth it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The Sugarland Bastard

Tom DeLay may be an evil corrupt minion of hell, but at least he'll
make an interesting character for Chris Cooper to play whenever
somebody decides to make a movie about him. We'll need a good title.

Monday, April 25, 2005

My Weekend as an Asshole

This weekend we borrowed my father-in-law's super fancy Ford F-150 to transport some new furniture from the store to our house. This vehicle is what you might call a luxury truck. It's big, it's clean, it rides smooth as glass, and it comfortably carries its passengers at a cruising altitude well above most other traffic. Not to mention, it's got damn near all the bells and whistles. Most definitely not a work truck. And of course, its gas mileage is somewhere in the teens. It's the kind of vehicle I typically roll my eyes at. All weekend, I imagined that people who share my views on these things were in traffic glaring at me and the luxurious monstrosity I was navigating, branding me as an asshole, an enemy in the sensible vehicle wars, as a guy who needs a huge vehicle to compensate for any number of shortcomings. To which my imagined response was, "Fuck you hippie. I have a big ass truck."

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Get out of my mind!

For some reason I got the song "Dare to be Stupid" by Weird Al Yankovich stuck in my head. For those not in the know, it goes something like:

Put down the chainsaw and listen to me
It's time for you to join in the fight
It's time to let your babies grow up to be cowboys
It's time to let the bedbugs bite
You better..
something something something -eaver
Something on your couch and watch Leave it to Beaver
The future's up to you
So whatchoo gonna do?
Doooo. Dare to be stupid.

You could something something something
You could just give up the ship
You could eat a lot of sushi then forget to leave a tip

And on and on and so forth. I don't know if it's a parody of anything, but just imagine lots of quirky 80's keyboards and a fast beat and you've about got it.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Big booming baby beats

Babies in their mama's bellies can hear what's going on.

I read this last night and it blew my hair right back. Around the fourth or fifth month, babies start tuning in to what's going on outside. At first, it's just low frequencies, but then the others start coming in as well. They've done all sorts of experiments on this, revealing yet more amazing cool shit about baby development, everything from babies coming out of the womb being attracted to familiar voices to being calmed down by stories and songs that were read or sung to them repeatedly whilst still in the womb. They've even put microphones inside of pregnant women and realized that the womb is in fact a very noisy place, with all sorts of sounds coming through very clearly, everything from clear voices to music. I read that part over and over a few times.

So of COURSE, this cries out to me to start exposing baby to all sorts of good, stories, of course some quality cinema. I mean come on, if baby can hear just low frequencies at first, I'm thinking perhaps some Cypress Hill? But even more than all of that, I realized that, like it or not, my role as parent has already begun. So's it's Mom's. We're on stage for our little audience of one. If we snip at each other, baby hears it. If we're affectionate, it hears that. Whatever we do, it picks it up.

Wow. That's all I got. Wow.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Happy 4-20! People are still stupid, and it ain't cuz of the pot

In honor of this unofficial holiday, the Holmes would like to run through a few stories he ran across today that demonstrate that stupidity is still alive and well on our little space-hurtling dirtball of a home:

- Today, the legislature of my home state passed a bill that would make Texas the first and only one in the Union to ban gay people from becoming foster parents if it becomes law. Given the fact that we already have too few resources to take care of displaced children, this is nothing short of legislated bigotry, the greatest victims of which are the many children that desperately need a foster home. The bigot that introduced the bill, Rep. Robert Talton (duh, guess which party) was quoted as saying "I don't think it is right for young children to be exposed to this type of behavior when they are young and innocent." And what behavior is that Bob? Love? Affection? Compassion? What, you think there'll be fisting in front of the children?

- I ran across a story today about the popularity of the writings of Dan Brown in Italy. Yes, the story's from 4-11, but I just saw it, so...yeah. For those unfamiliar, this is the author of the insanely famous novel, The DaVinci Code, among other works. Now, this book is an excellent work of fiction, a great read, full of some amazing ideas. But apparently, the Catholic church's official opinion is that it should be avoided, and it has asked that its followers not read the book. Now of course, I've yet to meet a Catholic who does every little thing handed down by the Vatican. You'd probably have to look pretty hard to find one. Maybe at a Mel Gibson party, I dunno. But the thought of being told to stay away from a book, this really chaps the Holmes hide. When I was going to Baptist school as a tyke, I remember there being a huge uproar about "The Last Temptation of Christ" and we were told that we shouldn't see it, which of course I didn't because I was a little kid. Plus, I remember thinking that the idea of seeing a movie about Jesus sounded boring since I spent so
much time at school learning about him already. The thing is, if something like an idea can shake someone's faith, then their faith is for shit to begin with. And anyone who tells you not to read a book, see a movie or a play, watch a TV show, basically anyone who tells you not to expose yourself to an idea is full of shit, and what
they're selling is most likely a pile of crap.

- This morning on NPR, a concerned young citizen was aghast thatparents were so out of touch with their kids as to not know the significance of 420. Here's the deal, clown: kids don't tell their parents everything. It's part of making your own identity. It's a bit of a frightening thought for me since I'm on the verge of becoming a parent myself, but it's a fact. And considering that the 420 thing has been around since the 70s, I'd say that parents of today who aren't at least aware of this reference aren't necessarily out of touch with their kids, just with certain subcultures. And no, contrary to your stupid suggestion, we should not change 4-20 fromStoner Day to Talk To Your Kids Day. Try talking to your kids more than once a year.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Pregnancy check: moving right along

So Ashley is just over three months along in her pregnancy and she is just now starting, ever so slightly, to show a bit of the pregnant lady belly. You probably wouldn't notice it if you weren't already aware that she was knocked up, but she and I notice it, and I don't mind telling you, she makes an adorable pregnant lady. We started shopping around for some maternity clothes and found that most of what's out there is designed for septuplet-bearing Valkyries who wish to disguise themselves as veterinarian's assistants. We ended up making a trek to the other side of town to the only Old Navy in Austin that carries maternity wear, which fortunately turned out to be pretty good stuff.

One sympton that Ashley is not displaying much of is the much-noted hormone induced mood swings that everyone keeps warning me about. "Oh man, has she bitten your head off yet? See this? I lost this here thumb when my wife was carrying our first kid. I won't get into details, but I'll tell ya, if she wants the last chicken wing, you best give it to her." No, I've only seen a little bit of that action so far. I've been doing my best to be super-husband, but honestly, I attribute Ashley's sanity less to abnormally stable hormones or any effort of my own, and more to her own driving will not to be ruled by her emotions. It's this ability she's got that I really admire, especially since I myself sometimes get swept up in emotion. Still, if she wants ice cream, I get it for her.

Oh, and if you do happen to know someone who is pregnant and they appear to be a bit edgey, don't tell them that it's "just the hormones." They know that already.

Eat your red hat, beeyotch

So this morning on the way to work when NPR's newscast became so boring as to elicit agonizing tears of blood, I clicked over to the local alt-rock-whatever-the-fuck station to see if by chance I could catch them playing a good or even tolerable song. Instead, they were in the middle of what they refer to as their news-cast, which I caught in the middle of a report on the new Limp Bizkit album. Does news get any more irrelevant than that? Fred Durst was quoted as saying that this album is heavily influenced emotionally by Rage Against the Machine, and picks up where Rage left off. For making such statements, Fred Durst should have his little red baseball cap dipped in a vat of rat poison and then be forced to eat it.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Scotland, Pa.

There are people out there who devote many years, if not their entire life, to studying the works of William Shakespeare. I have met some of these people. I am even friends with some of them.
I, however, am not one of them. For this reason, I always feel a bit awkward when discussing Shakespeare, because even though I know that I have a certain level of understanding of some of his works, I listen to my more learned friends discuss the topic and realize that they have an understanding of his entire collection of works that penetrates deeper than I even thought possible...deeper, I sometimes think, than even Shakespeare may have meant or realized. So I
don't feel much pressure to try and be too scholarly when it comes to Shakespeare because I know that there are others out there who can do it for me. If I need to know, for example, what the political climate was around the time that, say, Richard II was first produced, I can go up to my friend Andy and say, "Hey man, what was the political climate like around the time that Richard II was first produced?" Andy and the knowledgeable people like him walk around with all the Shakespeare knowledge, which leaves me free to just offer up whatever impressions I get when I see his work produced.

So I didn't exactly see a Shakespeare play on a stage anywhere. Instead, I watched
Scotland, Pa. last night. The relation to Shakespeare is that this movie is based on my absolute favorite of his plays, MacBeth. My reasons for liking this particulary play are pretty simple, just the fact that it's so creepy and bloody and gorey. Plus, I've always found evil women to be much more frightening than evil men. This might indicate sexist tendencies in me, I don't know.

So I really dug this film. It took the story of MacBeth and placed it in 1970's small town America, specifically the town of Scotland, Pennsylvania. And instead of the kingdom of Scotland, MacBeth and his beloved committed murder to acquire ownership of a fast food restaurant. I think the fact that the stakes were relatively lower served to bring the story closer to home. I mean, we
understand that people kill for kingdoms, that's just politics, but for a crappy little burger joint? Except then that made me think, maybe Shakespeare was making a joke about Scotland being a
shithole. Who knows. My friend Andy most likely, that's who knows. Anyway. They succeeded in translating many of the most important elements of the story, but they didn't bother with
keeping the original text, which worked great...had they tried that in the setting they chose, I think it would have flopped. I know that purists may scoff at such a notion, and point out the subtle brilliance of every bit of text and how it must be understood in context to Shakespeare's times and oh look at this double entendre and blah blah blah....but I think that Shakespeare gave us much more than brilliant text. He gave us incredible stories. Language evolves, but stories can be timeless, and at the end, that is what most people will remember. I would go so far as to say that the language wouldn't be shit without the great tales that the language tells. Shakespeare's text was amazing, there can be no doubt, and I believe there's still plenty of good reason to produce the original works. But this film is just another great example of why the works of the past should be revisited, reconsidered, and even reconstructed.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

I bet my weekend was weirder than yours

So here it is Wednesday, but I am just now getting around to documenting the oddities that occured in my life over this past weekend. But I'm okay with that because it has taken me these few days to consider the events of which I shall speak shortly, to ponder their meanings, to discuss them with people whose thoughts I consider worthy on the subject, and finally come to some sort of tentative conclusion. "Tentative conclusion." It seems a ridiculous term, but not really since I am speaking in terms of the abstract. Let me just get right down to it: I had myself a good old fashioned religious experience.

I have a history with religion, particularly fundamental Christianity. I went to two seperate private Baptist schools from kindergarten through eighth grade, and then for six months in college, I somehow got myself hooked up with a group called the International Churches of Christ -- not to be confused with the "mainstream" Church of, the old-school CoC wasn't hardcore enough for these guys. if you're interested their site is here, while this site here

is just one of billions that explains why they're an evil cult. Yes, cult. But I can't say my time in the cult was entirely a bad experience. Sure, I let myself go and get brainwashed and was racked with guilt most of my waking hours due to the belief that nearly everything I did was somehow sinful, or perhaps a gateway to sin, or even a catalyst to thinking about leading someone else towards watching somebody else sin. But I managed to come out of it relatively unscarred with a few grains more wisdom. Plus I managed to get a pretty good play out of it.

Since that time, I've basically rejected the concepts of organized religion, religious fundamentalism, and the idea that reaching out to the divine requires some sort of, I don't know, intermediary or ritual, that somehow the plain old human being doesn't quite have the clout to get an appointment. Religious fundamentalism has got to be the most repulsive destructive hateful biproduct of humankind's need to figure out where it came from and why it exists. I know there are fundamentalists in every faith, but since I'm most familiar with Christianity, I'll stick to talking about that. The idea that the words of this ancient text, text which, by the way, has been translated numerous times throughout history before reaching the state that we see it in today, can be used to justify discrimination, hate, violence, and murder against those deemed to be "outside of the kingdom" should be enough to make any thinking semi-moral person want to puke. Fundamentalism seems to be all about missing the point.

So like I said, I rejected all these things...but what does that mean, to reject an idea? You can reject a person by telling them to get lost. You can reject an offer by saying no thanks. A body may reject a transplanted organ by having a full system freakout. And when you reject an idea, you do much the same thing. You tell that idea, no thanks. None for me, I'm not buying it. Depending on the circumstances, rejection of an idea may even involve a freakout of some kind, much like I had when I left my cult days behind.

"Hey, uh, Holmes, you said at the beginning of this thing that you had a religious experience and I've only got so much time here at work to surf the net, so uh, make with the road to Damascus story already." Well my story isn't quite as dramatic or supernatural, so promise not to get mad.

I went to my cousin's wedding in Victoria this weekend. This is a cousin on my recently discovered father's side, so it's all new family to me. And the service that was given at this wedding was done by none other than a Church of Christ minister. This is old school Church of Christ, mind you, not quite the cult that I was involved in, but still very much in the fundamentalist right-wing god-is-on-our-side-not-yours camp. The man actually felt it was his duty to bring politics into the wedding by stating quite clearly in the midst of the ceremony that "marriage is under attack." And if you don't think he meant that in the anti-gay sense, just go google "marriage under attack" and see what you get.

So the next morning, my grandmother wanted Ashley and I to go to church with her. I knew she attended a Church of Christ, but I knew it would mean a lot to her, so we went. Understand, this is the first time I've been to church in like 7 or 8 years...probably just as long for Ashley. And man, all the lingo was there. I swear it doesn't matter where you go, it seems like the language that Christian fundamentalists employ is the same all over the place. Ashley and I held hands through the whole thing, and at certain points, her nails dug into my skin. For me, it was like a quick review of a lot of the ideas that I walked away from years ago, a flashback to the days when constant guilt and self-loathing and fear of damnation were just a part of life. You don't spend all those years surrounded by those things and then just drop it. You may get disgusted with it all, and leave it behind, but that shit still manages to get its claws into you.

Okay, so that experience I was telling you about: it was communion time. Body and blood, bread and wine, except in this case, it was saltines and grape juice. The guys came around with the trays and passed them up and down the aisles. And when they got to us, I passed them on. Without eating or drinking. I did not take communion with these people. I didn't want to. I don't think I could have. And that was my religious experience. No bright lights or bloody writing on the wall, but it was huge for me, and I'll tell you why. It's not because I hate Christianity or think that communion is a big joke. Neither is the case. My grandmother is a sweet woman, and perhaps she finds comfort in that place, but I did not. I felt not one inkling of the divine in there. Thus, I felt no need to join in their little ceremonies, for they felt entirely empty of meaning for me. In passing that tray on without partaking of its contents, and in doing so publicly, I really truly rejected (there's that word again) the fear-based beliefs of my past and what the churches of this type have to offer, this theology of divisiveness, this intolerant faith, this Bible-clinging disgust with humanity. I passed that tray on without fear that there was some vengeful god looking down from heaven to see who does and does not believe in him, ready to mark me down for a seat on the train to hell.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Unitarian Jihad!

Brothers! Sisters! Join the Unitarian Jihad! I've done so and already have a new name:

My Unitarian Jihad Name is: Brother Boot Knife of Sweet Reason.

Get yours.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

This poem I read that I dug

I'm not a huge poetry fan. In fact, poetry usually gets on my nerves and I project all sorts of awful characteristics on to the personalities of people who I hear reading poetry. All the same, I just read this poem that I'm absolutely in love with. It's in the middle of Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. I assume he wrote it. It goes like this:

Tiger got to hunt,
Bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder, "Why, why, why?"
Tiger got to sleep,
Bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand.

Is that not just the shit?! I got so excited sitting here thinking about it that I had all these weird thoughts go through my brain that I don't even know how to describe, and then I thought that I might have said them out loud, so I looked around and nobody seemed freaked out. But that wasn't quite enough to convince me 100% that I hadn't said something really strange, whatever it might have been, out loud. So I hummed a couple of lines of a song out loud real quick to remind myself what I sound like when I emit sounds vocally. Now I'm pretty certain I didn't say anything.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Higher! Higher I say!

The skyrocketing prices that are currently being charged for gasoline just tickle me pink to no end. "But Holmes, I didn't know you were an oil baron." No no silly reader, this is not the blog of J.R. Ewing. It just pleases me to know that the people who clog the roads with their ridiculous gas guzzlers are paying more and more of their precious cash to keep their beasts running every day. And believe me, I'm surrounded by them. I may live in the cool city of Austin, but this cool city is smack in the middle of Texas, and as great as my home state may be in some ways, it's real hard not to notice that the majority of its citizenry leans just a tad to the red red right. Thus, when I am on the road in my fuel efficient little Honda, I am surrounded by enormous SUV's which, by the way, typically contain just a single occupant. That's including the driver. And let us not forget the monstrous pick-up trucks you see at every corner, shiny and pristine, not a speck of dirt on them, doomed never to haul anything heavier than their owner's fragile egoes. If you drive one of these vehicles and you are crying about the amount of cash you are funneling into your tank every week, I laugh at you. Fuck you. I hope the prices jump even higher. I foresee you all going insane trying to balance your finances against your ever-increasing gasoline costs and taking a bat to your own windshields in a fit of rage. Owning such a stupid vehicle is selfish for multiple reasons:

  • You're hogging space everywhere you go, both on the road and in the parking lot. And I'm willing to bet that 90% of you don't need all that passenger room.
  • You're hogging resources. You're paying the bucks for them, but that doesn't change the fact that you're hogging them.
  • The amount of damage that a vehicle of that size will do if it runs into a normal size vehicle is significant. If your answer to this is that everybody should have large vehicles, then you should promptly eat a bullet.

So enjoy your big stupid vehicles, idiots.

Today's people exercise

Exercise is weird to me. It doesn't come natural. I know that my experience does not encompass that of everyone on earth right now, but amongst the vast majority of people that I know and come in contact with on a regular basis, physical exertion is not naturally a part of a daily routine. It can be worked into a daily routine, but as its own thing, not as a side affect of some other activity, such as work. Many people, including myself, work sit-down type jobs in sit-down type places and we bitch like angry poodles if the AC isn't working right. If we want to work our bodies, we have to make time for it somewhere in the middle of everything else....which I guess isn't necessarily a bad thing, since it makes exercise into personal time, when one can take time out from their routine and focus on one's body, and perhaps even on some other aspects of the self.

But still, exercise just doesn't come naturally to me. The concept of working out seems foreign. It feels weird to me to do an activity for the sole purpose of exerting my body and making it healthier....I have this idea in my head that I should be doing something else at the same time, like learning something or getting somewhere. I used to do Krav Maga because I felt like I was learning something (ie, various shit-beating-out-of techniques) at the same time that I was working out. And I enjoyed the hell out of it, not just the fighting, but the sense that I was getting in touch with something a bit more primal, something at the core. Of course it was all very controlled, we weren't fighting bareknuckled in dark basements. I only quit doing it because the class schedule sucked and I couldn't justify the expense any more. So today during lunch, I went over to the new gym that's free for employees in my building and gave it a shot. I'm not big on gyms, but it's a small place, not the kind of joint where people go to be seen like they do at your mega-gym warehouses. And even though I felt good about it, it still felt weird. Man, why is that? Perhaps I don't place as much importance on taking care of my physical self as I ought to. I know it has to be done, but I tend to think of exercise as a waste of time, getting in the way of more important pursuits. I could be reading a book or writing a play, dammit! Except today it didn't feel that way, at least not as much as usual, I guess since I was taking time out of my work day. And we all know work is a waste of time.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

More of me talking about my father, skip it if you're not interested

I've been avoiding my blogging duties for the past few days. I've been busy, sure, but I've definitely been avoiding it. Like last night I was about to get on here and go at it but I decided to return a long overdue phone call instead. Then I watched, "Death of a Salesman", the film version with Dustin Hoffman and John Malkovich...bad thespian that I am, I'd never seen it before, neither on stage or screen. Goddamn did it put me in a funk. It's just a bit too easy to see yourself/myself, and the people that you/I know in that story.

So yeah, I've been avoiding this a bit. I don't think I realized I was doing it, but I did realize that there was a lot going on in my head that I needed to sort out. And I also recognize that I think best through the act of writing. And perhaps I understand somewhere deep down that many of the things that I need to sort out are kind of scary and a bit sad.

It's storming outside and my beagle is hiding under my desk.

My father died last October but I am only now beginning to grieve for him. I'm only now coming to know who he was through his mother and sisters, my new grandmother and aunts. And I'm coming to understand that the picture I had of him was not quite right. You see, he wasn't quite the monster I had imagined him to be. The guy I'd carried in my head is someone else that I'd cobbled together from a few pictures and a few impressions passed on by my mother, who has never forgiven him for their relationship.

So just as I'm coming to know this man in the limited way that I can, I am also simultaneously beginning to get the first inkling of what it means to be a father since I'm going to be one in about six months. I just can't get over that timing. That's just ridiculous. My therapist thinks so too. And now I'm grieving for him, that he died alone in such a dark sad state. I grieve for myself that I never met him, never talked to him, that it never occurred to me to look him up, and that the people who knew where he was didn't think to tell me. I hope in this life that my list of regrets will be short and inconsequential, but that is one of them.

But in the middle of this grief, there's something else. There's this odd sense that something is sliding into its right place, thus creating a more complete whole. It's as if something was missing, but nobody noticed, and now it's been found and put back where it belongs, and it makes the picture sharper and clearer and more whole, but I'm hard pressed to point out exactly what was added that wasn't there before. But it's definitely better and I'm glad it's there now.

And it's not that life is now this miserable mess. Nor is it a sunny meadow full of bunny rabbits and butterflies (which actually sounds rather hellish in my view, but you get me). The sheer amount of feeling that I've been doing as of late has been kind of breathtaking. Within any given hour in the last few weeks, I've been elated, grieved, angry, grateful,'s been this rich tapestry of emotions. And somehow through it all, I've still got this odd kind of calm that I don't know what I did to foster. Not perfect calm, mind you, I've been plenty agitated at times, even a bit snippy, but it's this kind of big picture recognition, even when I'm crying my eyes out, that all this stuff makes some kind of sense. I may be grieving, but I'm grateful that I have the opportunity to grieve. I may not have known my father, but I'm grateful that my child will know me. I don't know. It makes some kind of sense to me, but not in a way I can easily articulate, which is frustrating for a person like me. Ah well. More to come I'm sure.