Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Reserves Are No Longer Reserved

One of my best friends (lived with him twice in my time in B-tizzle, and that's definitely saying something) has decided he's finally hit rock bottom after moving out of Bloomington and is going nowhere. What does he do? At 38, he's joined the Army Reserves.

Had beers with him and some other old friends at Nick's last night. I tried to be supportive. In truth, he's been talking about doing this for a long time, 5+ years ... but that was before we were in Iraq indefinitely, before Reservists became fodder for that fire, before a lot of things. I think it'll be good for him; in another time I'd say it would be great for him, all around. But everyone was pretty grim last night, and I had to share that sentiment. Low wages, disconcerting urban environment, restlessness after a couple of failed serious relationships, general ADD-ish mindset -- all of these were pushing him toward this conclusion. And the recruiter loved him: He'd done his homework and knew exactly what to ask for and what he would get, which is a pretty sweet deal in exchange for 6 or so years of his life working on "light wheeled vehicles." Hopefully stateside.

Regardless, it's a done deal. He gets bused to NC for basic in January, where he will be humping it with kids half his age. Best of luck, Seann. Check your six, and let's hope it's a nice boring hitch.

EDIT: I just recalled the most shocking moment of the evening. As I was leaving, Seann was going to just shake my hand. I said, "You're joining the army. Stand up and fucking hug me, asshole." It was beautiful.

Monday, November 20, 2006


Somebody broke into my truck sometime between 1 a.m. and noon Sunday. Nothing of value was taken except about 5 bucks in change and a bag. Mike assured me it was kids just fucking around looking for easy money, and I think he’s right. They were obviously in a big hurry. I’m a dork, it’s true: I have far too much respect for and think far too highly of my fellow man, more than is necessary or helpful or wise, and this is yet another object lesson for me in that area. Specifically: You're not living in the woods anymore, Thoreau!

But I got off easy. Left behind in the truck were:

2 change jars (one also containing 4 ones) under some blankets (my poker money)
1 nice set of pro headphones (just sitting there)
1 Leatherman
1 Gerber tool
1 set of binoculars
3 CD wallets (albeit mostly burned CDs)
1 removeable face-plate CD player (which I promptly removed)
2 spare bike lock keys
and (this is the best one, and a sure indication of my dorkitude):
1 spare key to the truck, on a key chain, in the li’l tray under the ashtray. The contents of said tray were dumped on the driver’s side floor but this li’l gem was left behind. So at least I know there are some bigger dumb-asses out there than myself.

All this stuff is now inside, gentle readers. Life just got a little less convenient for me, is all.

Also taken, though, was my merch bag: a book bag I take to readings containing a few copies of my books and a book stand. The crooks took the bag ... but dumped my merch on the ground under the driver’s-side door. Hey, my first book review!

I got home late from a dinner party early Sunday a.m., locked my door, but noticed (as sometimes happens) that the seatbelt was caught in the latch, so I unlocked it, opened it, and shut it again. I’m not sure I re-locked it.

So I was pissed and feeling more than a little stupid, and this was a pretty shitty way to start a rainy, cold Sunday. It probably was my “fault” for leaving my door unlocked, and I left some quality stuff as bait. Still, shitty fuckhead humans. Entitlement makes people stupid and abusive. Mike said that in all his years on 8th Street, his car has been broken into maybe three times (once his window was broken too). He doesn’t leave anything in his car at all now and leaves his doors unlocked so anyone can see there's nothing in it.

My view of the world just got a little dimmer, but I got ripped off the last time I lived in town (on South Park, around 1995), so honestly this doesn’t change much for me as far as how I interact with the greater populace. It is a reminder, though, of how petty and stupid people can be, even just kids looking for change.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Strangest Letter I've Written All Year

Let's hope something comes of it!

Dear Mr. Ponella:

My name is T___ B_____ and I am a professional sound effects artist specializing in audio books, online and DVD sound design, and live radio theatre. I have learned through Mari Kermit-Canfield's livejournal that George Graber has donated to the music library the contents of his office, including numerous devices and small percussion instruments (e.g., bicycle horns) that are of interest to me in my line of work. I understand that the School of Music will have first refusal of these items, but please also consider me as a new caretaker. I have a broad collection of foley and percussion gear myself (train whistles, Tibetan bowls, rotary phones, metronomes, crash boxes, hand drums, logging chain, etc.) and anything from Mr. Graber's collection would be a welcome addition.

Thank you for your consideration. Please feel free to contact me through LJ or at the e-mail address below.

tbrewer AT indiana DOT edu

Thanks again.


T___ B_____
Bloomington, Indiana

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I Know How To Transform

One of the book designers, Sharon Sklar, passed away early this morning. She had been literally deathly ill earlier this year, and I don't think ever fully recovered. She taught me so much about bookmaking and design, and I vividly recall her talking me down on 9/11 when I got all panicky. I loved the staff parties at her place. She was so centered and grounded, and I was truly shocked to learn of her prolonged illness. Talk about a health nut. I think the respiratory infection back in March led to "low-grade non-Hodgkins lymphoma," which spread to her heart.

I'm really sad. Sharon was a 30-year Press employee. That kind of experience and dedication and longevity is so rare. There's just no replacing that. On the pragmatic end of things, I'm glad (as I'm sure my colleagues are too) that I'm here to help shoulder the burden of her projects. There is a touch of concern that we may not replace her, simply absorb the work load, but I doubt it and I think that would be a mistake.

I could talk to Sharon for hours. She was also a brilliant photographer and visual artist, and traveled to Greece once a year and always brought back beautiful pictures she took with some junk disposable camera. I worry about her husband, Bob. He is such a sweetheart. I'm glad I'm back, actually, to be experiencing all this "first-hand," rather than being one of the scads of people getting the bad news by phone today.

I voted in the pissing Indiana rain today. I got to the poll "late," meaning I thought I would have to wait in line, but I zipped right through in 5 minutes. That's good and bad: makes me wonder where all the outraged Dems and Libs are hiding. Maybe they already voted? Let's hope so, although I also honestly am so down on voting that I don't think it matters beyond a shift from Evil to Maybe Not Quite So Evil -- And Hell, I May Get Something Out Of It Anyway.

In happier news, I have a voice gig today. One of the freelance things I do is voice work for some friends of mine who have locally grown an "industrial audio" business. Basically they do soundtracks for Web sites, instructional DVDs, even audio tours. Normally I just do foley/sound effects work for them, but I have also recorded auditions, and today one of their clients picked me! This shall be a most profitable post-work hour.

I'm going to see A Scanner Darkly with my lady violinist friend tonight at Bear's, one of my favorite places to watch movies. It makes me think of Pulp Fiction: "And I'm not talkin' no li'l paper cup; I mean a glass of beer."

Last Friday was just about perfect: work has finally started moving rather than simply trickling my way (with Sharon gone ... I'm preparing for a deluge now); a long Thai lunch with Mars; and the Irish seisiun at Encore was awesome and I believe I had a major breakthrough in the Bodhran Dept. (triplets! and control of same!). Saturday, Nashville, which, despite it's cheeky kitschy down-homey-ness, is still a good time. Mountain Made Music is now literally HALF the store it once was, which makes me sad, but fudge was had regardless, and that helps.

Sunday, I saw a pretty damn fine percussion ensemble recital, one group of which featured a solo by a guy I know. He's really good! And the piece they played was pretty rockin'.

Tomorrow night I'm reading in Lafayette at the Java Roaster.

W.S. Merwin is reading at the IMU Solarium next Monday! I'm not a huge Merwin fan but I should probably get over that. He's a Giant in poetic circles and people give me strange looks when I take His name in vain. (Actually I love his stuff, but he always seems more "important" than readable to me. Sometimes he just seems intentionally obscure, one of those poets who only writes for other poets because no one else "gets it.")

Can't seem to get that stupid Gnarls Barkley "Transformers" song out of my head. *sigh*

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A Mild Burning Sensation

The pain in my poor, poor carpals is going away! I figured this might happen when I switched jobs. Editing is not only butt-numbingly sedentary it's also wrist-wrenchingly repetitive. Fine typesetting, on the other hand, involves more mousing and in general fewer reps, not to mention it's a good bit more creative. Also, walking to/from work twice a day (only once if I don't go home for lunch) and up and down the stairs here more frequently than usual is whipping my legs into shape. That 8th Street hill is a nice incline! I also am experiencing less back pain.

Speaking of burning, though, I'm starting to get the (albeit paranoid and probably unfounded) sense that I'm going to get shafted shortly. Hopefully I'm just preemptively freaking out. When I got served papers last year, I went to the bank and called up credit card peeps and debtors, etc., like you're supposed to do, and told them my ex was legally, as per our decree, responsible for making payments X, Y, and Z. Banks et al. informed me that, decree or no, I cosigned on some loans and so I too am financially liable. Okay.

I've been receiving hate mail (i.e., late-payment notices) all year from the bank, despite calls to my loan officers, who empathize (yeah right) but I signed so I'm half responsible, decree or not (which makes sense: both joint-owned loans were acquired before we married).

The house has been refinanced and my name stricken from the mortgage(s). w00t! (My understanding is that my ex has purchased another house [on contract] in the Cincinnati area and now lives there with her mother, while the house in Spencer is either being rented or sits empty, but hopefully will sell soon.) But now I've gotten more hate mail from the bank, this time stating that two late-payment notices have gone out with no response. The next step is debt collection, "and it's all going on your permanent record."

I'll call the bank again, but I know what they're going to say: We're coming for you next! I also sent my ex an e-mail (the only contact info I have for her), and hopefully she will at least acknowledge that all this is happening. Since she just last month moved out of state, I'm wondering if I'm going to be stuck paying back the student loan we acquired for her teaching certification and another for the SUV she's still driving (I think).

No, this really has nothing to do with divorce. These loans were acquired before we were married, and dissolving these financial issues would have been tough even if we had split up years ago.

In more lighthearted scary news, I went as Hunter S. Thompson for Halloween. I was depressed by the number of people who had no idea who I was, and when I told them still had no clue. The dude just died last year. And there was a movie of Fear and Loathing starring Johnny Depp. Surely that might fix poor ol' Duke in the youngster hipster psyche.

I also went as a mighty fine zombie to Zombie Prom on Monday. What can I say? I like brainy chicks.