I'm sitting at my new, crappy computer, doing all of those things that you do with a new computer: adjusting the fonts so that my weakening eyes can read anything, cursing because all of my subconscious short cuts are now gone, swearing whenever I realize that I don't have some application installed that I used to have, etc. This thing has some problem with its sound (e.g. it doesn't seem to have any), and IE behaves oddly whenever I start surfing around by leaving what Java calls "artifacts" hanging around on the desktop. Whine, whine, whine.
      I have to admit, though, that this thing runs, which is better than the old computer. A week or two ago I got the Blue Screen of Death, ominously warning me that something was wrong with the c: drive (yes, I do not use a Mac. Don't get me started on my anti-Mac tirade. It's closely related to my anti-Netscape tirade). I rebooted, and the ominous warning was replaced by an ominous clicking noise from the hard drive, and the poor old thing asked me to insert some bootable media. He was as dead as last week's news. Go well, my old machine, win 95 and all. I'll get by with the direct-to-CD audio on this new machine for the moment.

      No big adventure to write about right now, but maybe in another week or so (if you're heevering for some right now, old Kai has heard the sweet call of the Road Gods himself and has set his fool self off across this big wide world. Question anyone who would decide to do this). You see, October 23rd turns out to be the date of the Walton Comprehensive High School Reunion, and who would have thought that I'd be dragging my big butt all the way back across the South to go to it? With this thing coming up on me, I guess it's inevitable that it's having some psychological impact on me. I've had a few dreams about high school in the past week; I stumbled across the sweet site www.classicgaming.com and spent all night playing one of my young favorites, Karateka; and now I've slipped in "Louder than Love," which was a pretty defining album for both myself and grunge way back in 1990. Like Thought and Memory, Chris Cornell sat on one shoulder and Perry Farrell on the other, both whispering into my Wotan ears about the truths and falsehoods of the world.
You have already grasped that Sisyphus is the absurd hero... Sisyphus, proletarian of the gods, powerless and rebellious, knows the whole extent of his wretched condition: it is what he thinks of during his descent. The lucidity that was to constitute his torture at the same time crowns his victory. There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn.

...I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one's burdens again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well... The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart.

One must imagine Sisyphus happy.

-- Albert Camus, "The Myth of Sisyphus"
      If you're too young or too old or too disinterested for the whole grunge thing to have touched you, go out and snap up "Louder than Love." Soundgarden had just about pinnacled with this album (the true, actual triumph of grunge ala Soundgarden would end up being "Outshined" on "Bad Motor Finger," IMNSHO), and it was everything a nineteen year old kid could want. Big, loud, and dumb. When people asked me what grunge was, I told them "Big." Just freaking big. Big like Kiss. Big like Tommy Matola. Big like HMS QEII big. I've got the CD spread out in front of me as I type, and I see the huge SOUNDGARDEN of the inner liner spread out over 15 inches. Big, dumb chunky thumpy bass and big, dumb lyrics, epitomized by "Big Dumb Sex":

      Oh yeah, I know just what to do
      I'm going to fuck
      fuck you

      God, I still love this album.
      I remember taking Traci to see Soundgarden and Pearl Jam in 1991 or 1992, down here at the Austin Civic Center. She and I had borrowed our friend Bianca's Thunderbird, and we scooted down south and stood in line to get in. Traci couldn't have given less of a stink about either band, but she insisted that she was having a good time. I only knew about Pearl Jam because they had put out an album with Soundgarden called "Temple of the Dog" that I was mesmerized by at the time. The only true Pearl Jam song I had heard was "Alive," and I heard it in the week leading up to the show, but I thought, "Whoa, this is pretty cool."
      Pearl Jam had been to Austin, in the same place, some few months earlier, and one of my roommates had gone to see them. The Civic Center is shaped like a giant, concrete Quonset hut, and Eddie Veder had gained a strong notoriety among the Austin youth for having climbed the rafters to the very top of the building and swinging like a monkey fifty feet off the floor. When we saw him that night, he paused at one point in the show and congratulated people on repeating the feat. "You guys are pretty brave," he said. "I was just dumb."
      Once Pearl Jam was off, Soundgarden was on, and they played every single song that I wanted to hear, even the little known "Beyond the Wheel" from "Ultra Mega OK" (another asinine but cool name). When I remember the salad days of grunge, I remember this scene: the stage lights turned out, Kim Thayil groaning away on his bass bathed in black light, and Chris Cornell, with that god like hair and that god like stare, curled up on top of a Marshall stack in a spotlight, pushing his voice from that subterranean growl up into the throat ripping registers of "Beyond the Wheel." Ah, what a work is man, in form how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god.
      And I remember the first time I had seen Soundgarden ever, it was at a little joint called the Backroom, and they opened for a band you've never heard of: Voivod. I went with Doug, and I had never heard of these freaks with the retro-hippy action, but I remember being crushed up against the tiny stage and of course you could sing along with "Big Dumb Sex," even if you had never heard it before.
      Oh yeah, I know just what to do.

      So there's Soundgarden, and there's the dream disturbed sleep, and there's games I played until my fingers rubbed down to the bone when I was a kid. This reunion thing is stirring me up a little more than I like to admit.
      I've always despised those kinds of dinners that you end up going to because of some misguided sense of duty or some inescapable obligation. You know the kind where they give out pointless awards, and no one really wants to be there, even or especially the people getting the pointless award, but everyone sits there and picks at some gray piece of turkey while their butt cheeks go numb. Like the Drama Club banquet in high school, or some Asian Chamber of Commerce thing I went to once, or one of those misnomered "galas" that I occasionally get invited to. Lord save me.
      So I was talking to my sister about the two of us going out after this reunion thing. In the back of mind I could see someone giving some unbelievable speech about how the good old days, blah blah, and how much we've all grown, blah blah, and remember some minute piece of history that I've thankfully forgotten like
Out of site but not out of mind:

Leslie, who changes domains like some people change bad habits. Box doesn't seem very accessible right now, so you might give her a shot here. Or here.
Cantone (who's been reading too much superbad)
Jennifer, my reunion escort
• And someone I work with asked me to plug our site, garden.com

"Ghost" or Bel Biv Devoe, and I was thinking to myself how I would much rather be kicking around with my sister than sitting there picking at a piece of gray turkey (they told me that there wasn't much vegetarian fare mixed in with the "heavy hors d'ouevres," whatever the hell those are) while my butt goes numb in some hideous chair. But I thought a little more, and I thought about how I had to sit through all of those previous interminable dinners and functions because I had to put in an appearance: either my principal (in the case of high school functions) or my date (in the case of later years) required my presence, and there were serious consequences to skipping out, either academically or domestically. But this time, it's just Big Al going by himself, lost and alone. Jennifer and I will go together, drink together, and commiserate together, but she doesn't give a rat's butt if I walk out of there early. And I realized that I'm talking about sixty to one hundred and twenty minutes of my life that I'm going to spend at this thing, just long enough to sniff down a few five dollars whiskeys and a horrible quiche or two. And then, you know what, it's over. I have absolutely no qualms about leaving a room full of six hundred people that I don't even freaking know, for Pete's sake. I told Jennifer that after this weekend, I feel like I can check this off of my list of "Things You're Supposed to Do in Your Life." Jennifer laughed and said, "Eiffel Tower, check. Stonehenge, check. Reunion, check. Next, the Sphinx." Exactly :)
      I remember, a few years ago, I wanted to fly up to the reunion in my jet helicopter, step out with my super model wife, and light up cigars with hundred dollar bills. Good Lord. Now, I just want to go and get it done with, like getting your tetanus shot. You only have to do it every few years, and it's irksome, but you're pretty sure that it's good for you in some way.

      Last rant of the night. I went and saw "Fight Club" on Saturday, and I absolutely loved it. Check out the IE 4+ DHTML coolness here (don't get me started on Netscape, I've told you once already). Be warned, though, it's not a movie for everyone, and especially DO NOT TAKE YOUR KIDS TO SEE THIS THING. It's both shallow and deep, and it's extremely violent and, if you let it, disturbing. It's also very funny. It's a bit hard swallowing Brad Pitt admonish you that "you are not your job, you are not your khakis" while he flexes his traps, but hey, this is a movie. Since you and I don't read the Koran or the Gnostic gospels, we've got to take our wisdom where we can find it. Look at me - I think that pop songs can be enlightening.

     This site was last updated on 10/19/99, and you're looking at it right here.

poems | weekend | road