Tuesday, August 28, 2007


So I finally seem to have adjusted to blogging about a specific topic. This is happening over at the previously mentioned Lotusville, which is mostly about water in Southern California, or, more accurately, the lack thereof. Sounds awesome, doesn't it?

Sadly, between sleeping, trips to the bathroom, and my continuous eating, there's not much time left in the day, so the Octopus has been neglected a bit as of late. It may well be on its last tentacles, although I've said that before.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


You have probably already heard this everywhere, but the new M.I.A. album, Kala, is straight magic.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Octopus Rides Again

Mucha gente again on the bus back to Eagle Rock tonight. The summer creeps to an end here in L.A., with the promise of more humane weather just around the corner.

The bus ridership seems a bit solemn on this Monday night in late August, and perhaps a bit melancholic. Our summer is gone, and we're not quite sure what we did with it. We had many plans, as always, but it's almost September again and the garden is not planted, our library books are overdue and unread, our friends in other cities remain unvisited, and we still haven't been to the dentist.

The 81 heads lurchingly northeast, into the gathering darkness of dusk. I'm still thinking of all the things I meant to do this summer before the days began to shrink again.

I am thinking now of a post I made from this bus, on the same route, just about a month later than this time last year. It's terrifying sometimes, how the time flies away from us. I always deeply sympathized with Humbert Humbert's desire to fix things in place and in time. I wish there were some refuge from the relentlessly accelerating stream of time.

Apologies and Detours

I have been spending the dog days of August mooning about, and often posting here.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I want to sleep forever

I have been dead tired all week. I am so tired that I often just want to puke. Around 10 o'clock every night, I am overcome with fatigue and drag myself to bed. I went on vacation last month. I don't know what's wrong with me. Maybe I'm just soft. I can't deal with this real life shit.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Friday Afternoon at the Y

I had been waiting all week to play racquetball again. After I played for the first time last Friday, I went out to the sports store over the weekend and bought some goggles, and a racquet for Mrs. Octopus, in the hopes that she would want to start playing with me as well. She used to be a badminton champ back in high school down in Orange County, so I figured she would take to another fast-paced racquet sport.

Anyhow, my friend at work had promised that we could play again at 5 on Friday. Is there a happier time of the week? 5 o'clock on a Friday, the week is done, and you're headed out the door for an hour of playing a game, without a care in the world. (Perhaps sports are a form of escapism for me; I don't do crack, but instead play games.) Sadly, my racquetball buddy told me around 4:30 that he had to cancel -- some kind of work crisis. Needless to say, I was crushed.

Luckily, I was prepared. I've been stockpiling sports equipment in my car for the last few months. I have, in my trunk, a basketball, two soccer balls, soccer cleats, basketball sneakers, shorts, socks, contacts, a few water bottles, and some underwear. You never know when you might have an opportunity to join a game. So I went down and took out my basketball and my basketball sneakers and headed over to the Y downtown to see if I could find some pick-up basketball.

There were only about four or five people at the Y's basketball court. I started by playing 21 with a couple kids who looked like they were 16 or 17. [There are some interesting regional variations to 21 across the country, some of which are described in the linked Wikipedia entry. Most people don't seem to play "taps" out here. Also, a lot of people substitute threes for the free throws after a made field goal. You generally have to discuss the rules before beginning a game with people you haven't played with before.]

One of the kids was terrible, but the other was really great. He could drain the three or an outside jumper even with a hand waving in his face -- and that's what I tried to do over and over: just get a hand in his face as he lined up for a jumper. It didn't faze him. I have never had much of an outside game: I've always been more of a slasher with a somewhat unorthodox approach and finish. I often end up contorting myself to split defenders, and then find myself in the air with my back to the basket trying to make a circus shot. I hit a couple of these shots on the drive, and then surprised myself by hitting a few fall-away jumpers as well once I had gotten the good kid to give me a few steps to respect the drive. At 32, at least I still have some semblance of my first step. The other surprise for me was my ability to make free throws yesterday. I took my time and spun the ball in my hands until my middle finger was on the inflation bladder -- just as my J.V. coach in high school had taught me during some frustrating sessions at the line -- bent my knees slightly and broke my wrist on the follow-through. The good kid waxed us in the first game. In the second game I hit jumpers and some drives to race out to 21, but couldn't hit the three to cap it. The good kid caught up and promptly hit the three to win again. I didn't mind, since I was spotting them about 16 years.

I was pretty wiped out after the first two games, and the two kids were tired and took off, but I get pretty obsessive once I am out on the court, so I went and found some other guy shooting by himself and aske him if he wanted to play. He was like 6' 4" or so (I'm 5' 9" and a quarter -- in the morning). I figured he would kick my ass, but it was a chance for another game, some more exercise. He agreed, and we played two games of 21. He had a nice jumper, and hit threes pretty consistently. Surprisingly, he wasn't that good inside; he would easily force the ball down to the post and then miss a two-footer. I had mixed luck with my drives: there wasn't anywhere for me to go once I got to the hoop with this guy towering over me. I also couldn't mix him up with any crossovers: he was quicker than I would've expected. I had to get creative with some ugly-ass baby hooks and some more circus shots. I eventually reverted to a lot of outside jumpers, which I had mixed success with. He killed me both games, although I had a better showing in the second: I think I got to 9. He seemed pretty pleased with himself after the games, and suggested, magananimously, that I should work on my left. He said I was quick with the right and "had a pretty good game on that side" but that I had "nothing" on the left. I totally agreed. I said I was working on it, but that I had never had a left. I don't think I ever will.

That concludes this chapter of Confessions of a Wanna-be Jock . . . .

Thursday, August 02, 2007

In the area

I drove like a madman from work to try to catch the second half of my over-30 soccer team's match tonight at Griffith Park. It started at the ridiculous hour of 6:30. Who the hell can get to Griffith Park that early? Especially when you have to navigate out of downtown and through all the cretinous Dodger fans headed toward Chavez Ravine to boo Barry Bonds?

I got to the field, hurriedly put in my contacts using my car's rear-view mirror, and ran out to the field in my work clothes. I asked the linesman how much time was left: trece minutos, he said. The team captain, a very nice guy, was gratified that I had made the effort to get out, despite being ridiculously late. We were winning 4-2: the team had prospered through my absence. I hurriedly stripped down and started pulling out my uniform -- I was soon standing in just my white boxer-briefs in the shadow of the 134, holding my cleats. I was starting to put on my shin-guards in that state when I realized I should probably get some shorts on first.

I finished getting dressed, the captain called off some poor guy on the left wing, and I bounded onto the field. Almost immediately, a silly defensive error by the other team presented me with a golden opportunity for a goal as the ball spurted free just inches from me; but just before I could take a whack at the ball their sweeper swooped in and knocked it away. I jumped in the air and screamed a kind of joyous yelp of delicious frustration: it feels good to be -- for just a moment even -- deliriously free and deep in the other team's penalty box, about to take a shot on goal, even if you don't get to take that shot. It's enough to make a day of failures and frustrations, of stress and fear and worry all fall behind you for a little while.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Monkey See, Monkey Become

Remember how I mentioned some time last week that I had briefly though about starting a t-shirt company called Lotusville? Well, please see this.

I think I have just now fully recovered from the roller-skating injuries I sustained at the Moonlight Roller Rink in Glendale back in December. After several falls (some of them coming, oh the irony, during "The Safety Dance"), I had a completely black bruise running from the top of my right hip down to the middle of my thigh.

They still don't know why the bees are disappearing.

Finally, get this: after some primates developed the ability to see the colors red and orange, they began to evolve to feature red and orange skin and fur, to attract mates. That's very strange, in some way.

Some day, I will do more than just simply patch together a bunch of random science articles.