Random Picture of the Day:

Words to live by, stuck on the side of a planter near my office in DC.

Currently Reading: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling.

Something about this book always makes me really sad (it isn't just the ending, either), so I wasn't sure I was going to include it in my latest Potter rereading frenzy. But by the end of the third book, I just felt like I had to.

Currently Listening To: The Beatles, Revolver; The Crow: City of Angels soundtrack.

Currently Talking About: Chad won Sims Story of the Week! Thanks to everyone who voted for the page.

Currently Pimping: Pencam.org, because Dave's site needs more attention. (That was a joke. Dave's site has gotten lots of well-deserved attention and praise.)

Aaaand Caffeinated Gerbil, because I want QE to see lots of new IPs the next time he checks those ever-addictive site logs.




I Read The News Today, Oh Boy.

This morning I heard that George Harrison had died. For some reason, I've found out about more celebrity deaths from Crunchland than from any other source. (That almost sounds like a news network tagline, doesn't it?) Princess Di. Phil Hartman. And now George Harrison.

I had the same reaction I had to hearing about ex-Car Benjamin Orr's death last year: even though I hadn't spared George much of a thought in a long time, I felt like I'd been kicked in the stomach when I read the Washington Post story.

I was a pre-adolescent Beatlemaniac. Somehow, my older half-sister's collection of Beatle albums ended up traveling around the East Coast with my parents, and I appropriated them all some time during grade school. I bought biographies of the band and got albums to fill in the gaps in my sister's collection. I think I had a crush on each Beatle at some point, so I'm certain George got a turn although I don't remember it well. And I've never stopped liking their music, not even when it became fashionable to dismiss them as overrated and undertalented.

But I'm nonplussed by the conventional wisdom that "Something" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" were George's finest Beatles songs. Not to me, they weren't. Give me "Taxman." And I like the Indian-influenced pieces on "Revolver" and "Sgt. Pepper."

One detail in the Post story jumped right out: He was close friends with security expert Gavin de Becker and died at de Becker's home. Which makes sense -- if I were George Harrison and a crazed fan attacked me, I'd seek out de Becker in a heartbeat. Gavin de Becker wrote The Gift of Fear, a self-defense and safety book I'm rather fanatical about. I reread it every so often and recommend it whenever people around me start worrying aloud about their safety. (You should read it, in fact. Have I nagged you about that lately?) It's a minor detail, but it always startles me a little bit when two separate obsessions of mine cross paths in unexpected ways.

Anyhow, I won't carry on or gnash my teeth. But news of George's death made me sad. It didn't hit me nearly as hard as John's murder did 21 years ago (good god, it's really been that long), but it's just hell to see these musicians I adored dying off.

It's easy to make me sad lately. I left work on Monday night mired in one of those soul-sinking funks that hit me every so often for no particular reason. I'd picked up Best New American Voices 2001, a story collection, at Barnes and Noble the week before and started reading it on Monday in the hopes I'd lose my depressed self in some good stories by these Best New American Voices.

So much for that. These Best New American Voices are morbid. Really incredibly fucking morbid. I can't begin to imagine what these people will write in our post-9/11 world. In the first story a little girl's mother is deathly ill with an unspecified cancer and another girl falls to her death. In the second story the narrator's roommate's adorable Dachsund meets a tragic and accidental and graphic death (and even more graphic exhumation). In the third story, it's clear that the story's protagonist is going to do a Columbine on all the nasty students and adults in his life.

And I got through about two-thirds of that one before deciding I'd had more than enough. Jesus. I don't mind morbid. Really I don't. But not on every page, please. And the stories were well-written but made me want to swallow a nice soothing hemlock-and-arsenic cocktail to improve my mood a bit. I would have flung the book across the room to express my displeasure, but I was on a bus at the time and figured that nothing good could come of such wanton flinging. (If I were a character who did that in one of the stories in that book, undoubtedly another passenger on the bus would rise from their seat and stab me to death while everyone else watched and did nothing to help. And then said passengers would go home to their spouses and children and say nothing about my death but sit up all night with a strange emptiness inside.)

I'll probably pick it up again someday. But not now. It's almost December. Almost Christmas. The Grinches can go bother someone who cares this season: I want Christmas. I want a big truckload of Christmas. I want decorations hanging off of every available surface and I want big blinking Christmas lights everywhere I turn and I want to drink egg nog until I bleed custard-colored sludge. I want the world wrapped up in green and red ribbons with a candy cane threaded through the top. I want to go caroling now, even though it'd probably get me shot. I want joy. Joy to the whole world. I think we all deserve it.

The Big Company put up the annual Christmas tree yesterday and I turned into a giddy little kid at the sight of it. Today I went to the flower shop across the street in the hopes I could find something Christmasy for my cubicle. I returned with an absolutely adorable miniature tree festooned with gold ribbons and pine cones. It cost way too much money, but it was just what I needed. I decided to call it George.

The next entry.

Previously, in Insomniaville...

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