Randomly Tuesday

I’m back from my own road trip (photos and details to come), and very much intrigued by this forthcoming book about someone else’s road trip 35 years ago.

Random thoughts for a Tuesday morning:

  • My heart goes out to those poor upscale hiptsers who signed leases for overpriced apartments in Bed-Stuy only to find that the nightlife in the area didn’t live up to their expectations. Poor things.
  • Correct me if I’m wrong, but I seem to remember that White Castle locations in the midwest didn’t put ketchup on the burgers. The ones in New York apparently do, much to my recent dismay.
  • I’m not sure if I like the new Charlotte Observer website. The layout is OK, I guess. I think what bothers me is the logo. Or the lack of one, as it were. It looks like one of those cybersquatter placeholder sites.

Late night frolic in the bedroom

Last night about 3AM, I woke up needed to take a whiz. This is not in itself unusual. What was unusual was that I had apparently been dreaming I was in a motel room right before I woke up. When I got up, I couldn’t see anything but some light leakage around the windows, and I couldn’t remember how to get to the bathroom because I thought I was still in the motel room from my dream. I was stumbling around my bedroom, not knowing where the bloody bathroom was.

I didn’t really wake up and clue into where I was until I started feeling my way around the room and managed to find my way to one of the windows and open the curtain. At that point (maybe it was the light from outside), it finally hit me that I was in my own bedroom, that the bathroom was just a few feet away, and (best of all) that I remembered where it was. I was very relieved.

I hate those creepy half-asleep, half-awake experiences.

Let’s Active and Pylon

I saw Gravel Truck (which Mitch Easter describes as his “new Let’s Active cover band” and Pylon (who are occasionally calling themsleves “The Pylon Reenactment Society”) tonight.

I first saw Let’s Active twenty-five years ago last month, about two miles north of where tonight’s show was. I met both Mitch Easter and my future San Francisco roommate at that show. REM was there too, but I didn’t meet them. My first brush with Pylon goes back even farther, to my first college road trip in 1982, when I saw them open for Talking Heads at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta.

I think most of the people I used to know around these parts either don’t live here anymore or don’t go out much. That’s not surprising; this is the first time I’ve gone to a show (or a bar, for that matter) since I moved back three years ago. I did, however, run into my faculty advisor from my undergraduate days at UNCG, which was sort of odd. I’d forgotten that he’d been in grad school in Athens in the early 1980s; he was all excited about seeing Pylon again. And we were both excited (relieved?) that there were people there who were even older than we were.

It was a great show, and when I left, it was cooler outside than it had been in a month, and there was a breeze, and I was walking around downtown Winston-Salem, and it was really nice, and I was thinking I really need to vary my pattern and do something other than the same old things once in a while. Not bars or shows specfically (I just can’t stay up that late and, well, I don’t drink), but just any sort of thing that I don’t ususally do. A change of routine is a good thing, especially for someone like me, who’s in danger of becoming exceedingly boring.

Cool stuff

This has been a very good week for getting cool stuff in the mail from people I’ve never met. I received a Finast Supermarkets promotional yardstick (yes, such a thing exists) and about 400 vintage photos from two different Groceteria fans, plus two CDs of last Friday night’s show from someone who was friends with someone else who happened to record it. And none of it was birthday-related.

Another quick road trip this week (I haven’t been home a lot lately), not to mention my birthday festivities will be covered at some later date. Screw this internet stuff. I’m going to bed.

Robert Plant’s crotch

The Song Remains the Same is on VH1 Classic tonight. Again. Is it there for all us old guys who were still just a little too young to have seen it at the midnight movies as teenagers, or are they trying to force yet another generation to be mesmerized by Robert Plant’s crotch? Robert Plant is kind of gross, and his crotch is not someplace I’d ever really want to be, but the damned thing is almost the primary theme of the whole movie. It’s really quite distracting.

My concentration is shot tonight. I need to make up for lost sleep. I also need to spend tomorrow making up for lost time not spent on work this week. We’ll see how that works out.

One final thought: did the world really need cinnamon-flavored margarine?

For worse. Much worse.

With Grandpa predictably having another heart attack just in time for Elizabeth’s wedding day, Lyn Johnnston has changed her mind about the future of For Better of for Worse (a/k/a FOOB) for the 413th time. Apparently the mix of old to new content will now be 50-50, and she will be returning to her old drawing style to match the old strips. Apparently she wants to make Ellie’s nose smaller, and “fix” some of the mistakes she made over the years.

That said, I’d like to announce that I will be re-launching Planet SOMA later this year. In the process, I will be increasing the size of my penis and correcting mistakes and mishaps like this one, this one, and this one.

Those of you ho have been following this FOOB saga over the past few years will probably agree with me when I say that I fully excpect Lyn Johnston’s next announcement to be that she will be re-launching her strip again in October using discarded artwork from Gasoline Alley and Snuffy Smith and recycled storylines from The Katzenjammer Kids.

Don’t want them aliens more educated than we are

Way to go, State Board of Community Colleges (along with both NC gubernatorial candidates). Let’s make sure we do all we can to guarantee there will be a persistent, dependent underclass in North Carolina for years to come.

Denying undocumented immigrants a means of getting an education that might help them support themselves is probably not the most efficient way to avoid having your tax dollars support them. Keep in mind that these people were paying out of state tuition rates which covered more than the cost of their education, so they weren’t exactly suckling at the public teat to begin with. However, without access to job training, it’s pretty much a given that they (or their children) will eventually be doing so.

Birthdays and stuff

A big happy birthday to my dad, who turned 83 today. As is his custom, there was dinner at the cafeteria followed by cake at home and no further fuss.

While I’m at it, a big happy birthday to me, who turned 44 last Sunday. I allowed slightly more fuss: dinner at Anton’s on Saturday night (as is my custom) and then a lovely day hanging out with my boy (which is something I don’t get to do enough of) on Sunday.

I got lots of cool stuff, much of it books:

And then there was my new puppy:

I love having a boy who understands that a big stuffed puppy and an Elmo piñata are absolutely appropriate gifts for a bitter, cynical 44-year-old.

Planet SOMA (1996-2008)

You’d think it might have been a little sad putting Planet SOMA to rest after nearly thirteen years. And it was, sort of. But it’s been something of a dead site for years now anyway, as most of its content slowly migrated over here, and as all my attmpts to resuscitate it with a new focus pretty much failed. So now Planet SOMA redirects to Otherstream, as it probably should have done since roughly 2002 or so. For reference, the few items that were posted on the latest incarnation of Planet SOMA have been transferred over here.

I’ll always keep the domain pointed someplace, even if it’s just to this site or to a flickr album or something like that. It was my first, after all. And who knows? Maybe I’ll get another bright idea for it some day, one that will stick.

Mainly, though, I just didn’t want to have it pointed at a dead body anymore.

Mark His Words

Picture it. Greensboro NC. Sometime in the vicinity of 1992.

Yer humble host was a long-haired homo misfit in a place that was having none of it. He had a few friends scattered between there and Charlotte to the south, and he relied on their tolerance to make life liveable. Generally, though, he hated everyone else he came in contact with, particularly his fellow homos, most of whom were just as happy as could be dancing around in their acid-washed jeans in the city’s collection of generic queer bars, immersed in the same bland “not quite disco, not quite house, not quite techno” musical sludge southern queer bars have relying on seemingly since the dawn of time.

So I visited my friend Jeff T., a co-worker and a recently uncloseted deadhead turned rave child, one night before drining heavily, as was my custom at the time. I met his new squeeze that night. He seemed a rather nice sort, and I had the vague feeling I’d met him once before, many years in the past, but that we hadn’t really gotten to know each other.

Mark G. Harris, 1992. (Ballpoint) ink on (notebook) paper.

This tme around, we actually did get to know each other, and Mark turned out to be one of the only people I manged not only to tolerate, but actually even to like during my last few months in Greensboro. He evetually broke up with Jeff (who later developed a rather unhealthy obsession with another of my friends) and Mark and I got to spend time lurking around dark bars, movie theatres, and the occasional Denny’s. I was sort of obsessed with Denny’s at the time. And then there was the famed 1992 Color Copy Tour of South Carolina, which I may dicsuss some day. This is not that day.

He was on an extended trip to Los Angeles when I moved to San Francisco in October 1992, but had returned to Greensboro by my first visit home the following year, which is when this picture was taken:

Actually, I think it was the Denny’s in Greensboro.

That was probably the last time we saw each other face to face. As often happens when people are preoccupied with life, the letters and calls just sort of stopped. And we both had fairly eventful lives from that point on, in San Francisco for me and in New York for Mark, as it turns out. I often wondered where he’d ended up and what had happened to him, and if he still hated pickles and flossed regularly and wrote really well.

Guess what. He does.

And after all this time, damned if we didn’t land about 2 1/2 hours from each other, back in North Carolina, which must say something about our home state, even though I’m not sure just what it is.

Now that we’ve run across each other again after fifteen years, I’m ready to admit that I’ve still never seen Heathers and still don’t quite get that reference in that letter from 1993. I’ll have to rectify that situation.

Coming Soon to an Aggregator Near You

RSS aggregators beware: Otherstream is about to move forcefully into 2002, leaving the static HTML world behind and transitioning headlong into the world of PHP, SQL, XML, and all those other acronyms. I’ve been avoiding it for years, despite managing numerous other sites in database format, just because the mere idea of cutting and pasting twelve years of this site into a new format gave me the vapors. But it’s time. More soon.

Here It Is…

Your exciting new Otherstream. Please try to contain your enthusiasm.

For your reference, particularly the nerdly among you, posts from 1 January 2008 to now are all in the database. Previous posts and much of the rest of the content are still in HTML format, but I’ve constructed a spiffy new page template based on the PHP template, so everything pretty much works the same. Some of the old content will be a bit buggy until I get the whole site transferred over (which may take a couple of weeks or a couple of months). Also, most URLS for pages other than the front page will eventually change.

The “Archives” and “Categories” menus on the right only cover items that have been imported into the database. They’ll obviously grow as I migrate more content.

Otherstream now has a nifty RSS feed and category tags and everything, bringing me completely up to date. 2002, to be precise. I haven’t decided about comments yet.I tried them during Planet SOMA’s brief PHP phase, and the spam outneumbered the legitimate posts by about fifty to one, so I’m not sure how tolerant I can be. Let me know if you have a strong opinion on the subject.


Randomly Tuesday

Last night was one of those nights where the sleeping was not good. There was nothing really the matter other than the fact that I worked too late and didn’t give myself enough time to gear down before going to bed. Alas, it’s a busy time of the year for me, and I didn’t make things any better by deciding out of the blue that this week was also a great time to re-work this site.

I have a meeting this afternoon in Greensboro on how to be the world’s oldest graduate assistant, and Thursday and Friday are set aside to get prepared for the exciting fall season on MyNetworkTV and The CW so that I can turn my attention to the hubby when he returns on Friday afternoon. No weekend plans as such, other than some nuzzling and maybe playing with our databases.

Randomly in the news:

  • Apparently, a collection of college leaders believe that 18-year-olds should be given the right to drink again. I agree, in general, simply because I don’t really understand why 21 is the “magic number” where drinking suddenly becomes OK. If one is an adult for all other purposes at age 18, why not for boozing purposes as well? Yes, I understand the argument that raising the drinking age to 21 prevents some traffic deaths. Raising it to 37 would prevent even more, but no one’s suggesting that. I do not, however, buy the argument that we should do it simply because college students are ignoring the current law; there are plenty of good reasons to lower the drinking age, but that ain’t one of them.
  • Some community leaders are pushing to have Winston-Salem ban sagging pants. I’m with them all the way on an aesthetic level, really, but there remain those nagging questions of Constitutionality and appropriateness. As long as we’re banning clothing just because people don’t like it, how about including ugly shoes (a specialty of the current decade) and really stupid-looking facial hair?
  • Wow. Imagine this: holding the people who committed the crime responsible for its consequences rather than fining the victims. What a radical idea.



Mark’s back in San Francisco now, and I’m all by myself again, wishing we could enjoy the rain and the gloom together. Over the weekend, there was pizza in High Point on Saturday (about which I had an interesting post written before it got destroyed), grilled pork on Sunday, and the traditional Monday morning breakfast at the Lighthouse. Mark has also now joined me in PHP-dom following his disgust with iWeb. It’s sad that Apple is doing such a sloppy job with what should be its showcase applications.

I’m pretty impressed that I’ve already migrated over all my journal entries dating back to 2006. I still have some cleanup to do, fixing internal links, etc., but it’s not taking nearly as long as I expected. I should have done this a long time ago.

Of course, things are starting to get a little crazy again now that classes have started. I’m doing the big graduate assistant thing, and have assumed control of the department’s website. I may also take another job working on a digitization project for the university archives if I can get permission. It should be interesting, even if it doesn’t pay much. Slave labor is, of course, the most efficient way to build one’s resume, right?

Speaking of the resume, a quick update this morning before I went to the dentist was apparently enough to secure me this extra position, despite my misgivings. It’s amazing how excited librarians and archivists get when you mention that you have web design experience. Maybe I will end up getting a decent job once all this is done.

Back to work now. The defintion of work gets hazy when you do 90% of it home.


Sorry to talk about the weather again, but I’m just too damned tired to talk about my day, which was as intense as it was soggy. I was under the seven inches of rain in Greensboro today rather than the four in Winston-Salem. And I mean that literally, as I walked pretty much from one end of UNCG to the other several times.

Vice President Palin?

What in God’s name is John McCain thinking?If he really believes this particular choice of running mate is going to pull in thousands of Hillary Clinton supporters, his grasp on reality is even more tenuous than I thought. And I’m skeptical that it’s going to help  him much with the right wingnuts he’s so actively pursuing these days either. It seems sort of like an “I waited until the last minute to find a girl to ask to the prom, and all the good ones had better things to do and turned me down” kind of desperation.

Some women said that the pick could be seen as patronizing, a suggestion that women would vote based on a candidate’s sex rather than on positions. But others saw the choice of Ms. Palin as a welcome step. 

“I think it’s absolutely fantastic,” said Kimberly Myers, a retired transit worker in Pittsburgh who had originally supported Mrs. Clinton but who said that Mr. McCain’s choice would win him her vote. “She’s actually broken the glass ceiling.”

So at least McCain gets the “retired transit workers who speak in clichés” vote. That’s a plus, I guess.

I used to have some respect for the guy, but I’m starting to wonder now if he might just need to be placed under observation.


It was six years ago today that the boy who had already moved into my life also moved into my home. Suddenly, it became our home, which was a pretty wonderful thing once we got all our stuff consolidated and all the boxes unpacked. And it’s been a pretty wonderful thing ever since, as well.

Right now, we don’t get to spend a lot of time together. Mark’s job has him in San Francisco more than he’s in Winston-Salem by a factor of something like three-to-one. That’s hard, especially for him, and maybe that’s why I find myself thinking of this particular anniversary so intently tonight. Of the three days we recognize as part of our “anniversary trilogy” (the others being the day we met and the day we got hitched at City Hall in 2004), we probably give this one the least attention. Yet it’s possibly the most important one of all in some ways, since it really sort of marks the specific moment when we started living our lives together.

Tonight, we’re three time zones apart, but I’m thinking of him, and remembering that day when we moved all his furniture into my already crowded hovel in San Francisco. I’m remembering dinner with his sister and brother-in-law at The Dead Fish (and developing a craving for scallops) and how completely worn out we were afterward. I’m pondering how nervous I was at the prospect of having my first “live-in”, but also how excited I was at the thought of waking up next to him every morning.

Tonight, we’re at opposite ends of the country, and I’ll be waking up alone tomorrow morning. But the thought that we’ll be together again, even if only for a few days, at the end of the week still gets me all giddy and excited. And it allows me, once again, to experience the anticipation of being able to do it every day again soon.

I love my boy, and I wouldn’t want to spend my life with anyone else. Heck, I wouldn’t even consider it.