Archive for December, 2011

The Ultimate Meme: Messr Proust’s Questionnaire

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on December 30, 2011 by tom

Marcel Proust answered questionnaires twice in his storied life, at ages 13 and 20. I answered this a few years ago, and I can’t remember what I put. Life is odd that way. Anyway, herewith my answers to the two Questionnaires.

Questionnaire #1:
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Other people. That’s a paraphrasing of Sartre’s l’enfer, c’est les autres (“Hell is other people”), from No Exit. I think it’s absolutely true. Nothing can cause more misery than other people. That being said, nothing can produce more joy than other people. For the agony caused when a loved one dies, we have the joy of a new birth. For every breakup horror, there’s that giddy feeling from a new love. Other people cause the lowest lows, but also the highest highs.

That, or bad serotonin levels.

Where would you like to live?
Atop a mountain, or along the sea. Not a big city, though.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
I watched Spiderman 2 whilst hooked up to a Dilaudid pump, so I think that set the bar kinda high, no pun intended. Also, I saw the fabled Flash of Green once. That was awesome, although it would have been even more awesome with the Dilaudid pump.

To what faults do you feel most indulgent?
Laziness, self-doubt, fear.

Who are your favorite heroes of fiction?
I like Pete Bondurant from James Ellroy’s “American Tabloid” and “The Cold 6000.” He occupies a mean place in the world, but he does so with a certain honor. He kills people, but he limits it to bad people. When possible. Also, Signor Ferrari in “Casablanca,” mainly for the same reason: he knows he’s the “leader of all criminal activities in Casablanca,” and it’s a role he carries off with panache and pride. Something about decent people who end up in bad situations.

Who are your favorite characters in history?
I’m fascinated by World War 2 leaders on both sides. The Nazis took a country that was eviscerated by the Treaty of Versailles, and rebuilt it to a superpower within two decades. They created a cult of personality, and inspired a nation to do things both great and horrible. Conversely, Churchill and Roosevelt–along with Eisenhower, et al–managed to fight back and ultimately prevail.

Who are your favorite heroines in real life?
My grandmothers and my mother. Both of my grandmothers earned their bachelor’s degrees in nursing, and worked full-time at a time when that was a rarity, this in addition to raising great kids (aka, my parents). My mom is just amazing, as a mother, a wife, a nurse, and a steward of her faith.
Also, all three of them show(ed) serious cooking game.

Who are your favorite heroines of fiction?
I like Agnes Salter from “Paradise Postponed.” She’s challenging, but she doesn’t mean to be. Her mother was killed when she was young, and she found that she was afraid to embrace anything overly nice. She took pleasure in horrible food, etc.
Also, Evie Hammond in “V for Vendetta.”

Your favorite painter?
Caravaggio or Dali.

Your favorite musician?
Jeff Beck. I don’t like everything he’s done, but he can play anything on guitar and make it count. Also, Grover Washington, Jr, for the mournful tone he can get out of a soprano sax.

The quality you most admire in a man?
Humbleness. I don’t like “humility” here, but humbleness. I loathe loud braggadocio.

The quality you most admire in a woman?
Low alcohol tolerance? 😉 Just kidding. I love women who are comfortable as they are, now, not when they lose 20 more lbs or make more money, or learn to knit blankets. I admire women who are at peace with who they are NOW.

Your favorite virtue?
Kindness-tempered honesty.

Your favorite occupation?
Newspaper columnist.

Who would you have liked to be?
Doc Holliday as played by Val Kilmer, only without the coughing up blood thing.

Questionnaire #2:
Your most marked characteristic?
Crippling insecurity welded to amazing megalomania.

What do you most value in your friends?
Patience and loyalty–I’m not always an easy friend to have.

What is your principle defect?
Low expectations of life and myself.

What to your mind would be the greatest of misfortunes?
Being conscious, but unable to communicate. Even if I couldn’t speak, as long as I could type, I could interact with others. Hell, I prefer NOT talking most of the time.

What would you like to be?

In what country would you like to live?
I’m pretty happy here. Canada, Wales, New Zealand, Germany, Iceland. These would be okay, too.

What is your favorite color?
It depends on who’s wearing it or what it’s doing. I like teal shirts on some people, but I wouldn’t want teal breakfast cereal.

What is your favorite flower?
Orange blossom. When I drove home from college for Spring Break, I had to drive down a road surrounded by orange groves. It was like driving through heaven. (Originally, I typed “like driving through angel farts,” but that seemed a bit crass)

What is your favorite bird?

Who are your favorite prose writers?
Joyce Carol Oates, P.J. O’Rourke, F. Scott Fitzgerald

Who are your favorite poets?
T.S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas

What are your favorite names?
Aedes fulvus-pallens is a nice name. It’s a mosquito, and a nice mosquito at that.

What is it you most dislike?
Noise. Not loud sound–loud sound can be good–but cacophonous noise annoys me infinitely.

What historical figures do you most despise?
It’s not my job to despise anyone.

What event in military history do you most admire?
The Christmas Truce of 1914 (see:

What reform do you most admire?
A lot of “reforms” are simply cessations of bad ideas, and they will be seen that way in the future. For example, I grew up in the South, and it seems utterly ridiculous that there were once “White Only” and “Colored Only” water fountains. Seriously, how stupid is that? But my friend George grew up in Tampa a couple of decades before me, and he had to drink out of those “Colored Only” water fountains. I imagine Shortstop & Princess’ kids will probably think it was nuts that there was no universal health care, or that gay marriage was mostly illegal.

What natural gift would you most like to possess?
Innate confidence.

How would you like to die?
Quickly. (note: meaning not in a protracted, painful way; not “quickly,” meaning “Next Tuesday.”)

What is your present state of mind?
Stressed to an appropriate degree, and a trifle contemplative. Life is fine.

What is your motto?
A motto? What’s the motto with you. Hahahaha.
Sorry. I don’t really have one. I just try and show up, and I don’t even do that sometimes. I guess just try and make it count. Or don’t. No big whoop.

Thanks, Marcel.


Sorry, Ms Exiled

Posted in Uncategorized on December 27, 2011 by tom

I would like to apologize to JennyExiled, who sent me five questions to answer, and I did not answer them promptly. My bad. In my defense, I was sick, and broody, but still. Herewith, Jenny’s questions from the Interview Game.

1) If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A: Popcorn. I don’t know why, but I never get tired of popcorn.

2) Who is your favorite superhero? Why?

A: This is a tough one. I like The Hulk for having massive rage issues, and of course, Superman can fly. However, I think I’d go with Batman. Why? He chooses to be a superhero. In reality, he’s just a megarich playboy with a hell of a lot of cool toys and hot women. If I were Batman, I could get cudgeled one time too many, and just say, “Screw you guys! I’m going home!”

3) What’s the first movie you can remember seeing in a theater?

A: The Sound of Music. It was NOT the first run, I’ll have you know. It was over a decade after it came out, and our local theater had a special afternoon film series. TSOM was on one afternoon, and my mom took us.

4) Do you believe in New Year’s Resolutions? Are you making any this year?

A: I have learned that I am no more likely to keep a New Year’s Resolution than an Arbor Day Resolution. In fact, I have used Arbor Day to get out of a New Year’s Resolution. Sorta like, “I’ll quit drinking January 1.” Then on January 1, “Well, I can’t be expected to watch bowl games without a beer or two, so I’ll quit after the NCAA Championship.” Then, “I HATE college football. I need to wait till the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl are over.” Then, “It’s Arbor Day. I should probably get whacked for not caring more about trees.” Then, “Oh, God, not another Valentine’s Day.” And so on, until we get back to New Year’s Eve again.

5) What’s love got to do, got to do with it? Who needs a heart, when a heart can be broken?

A: “I’ve had the blues, the reds, and the pinks. One thing’s for sure: Love Stinks. LOVE STINKS! YEAH, YEAH! (Love Stinks) LOVE STINKS! YEAH, YEAH!”

God bless the J. Geils Band.

Thanks Jenny for the questions, and I’m sorry it took so long to answer. xoxox

Interview With A…whatever the hell I am

Posted in Uncategorized on December 22, 2011 by tom

My friend, Stephanie, posted something called “The Interview Game” on her blog. It’s a neat idea, so I volunteered to be next.

Here’s a quick run down on how to play and her original post here: *-Leave me a comment saying, “Interview Me.” Please include your e-mail address if it is not in your profile.

*-I will respond by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the questions.)

*-You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.

*-You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you send them 5 questions of your own for them to answer.

*- Got it? Excellent. Let’s begin.

1) If you could read any book again for the first time, what would it be?

“Harry Potter and the Philosopher/Sorceror’s Stone.” I first read this shortly before the first film was released, and Harry Potter hype was everywhere. Even my 7-Eleven had a display of HP paperbacks for sale. I went to the 7-Eleven buzzed one Saturday night, saw the display, and I sort of snapped. I bought book one just to read it, and thus be able to mock Potter Fever advisedly. I read it the next afternoon, and I was hooked shortly. Still, I wish I’d opened the book with an open mind.

2) What is your favorite holiday cocktail?

B&B in a giant snifter. It warms the gullet, relaxes the spirit, and leaves a slight honey aftertaste on the tongue. The Monks know their stuff.

3) What movie are you most anticipating seeing in 2012?

The David Fincher version of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” I know it opens this weekend, but I won’t go till next year.

4) Christmas Dinner: ham or turkey?

Usually ham, but I object to neither.

5) Which would you rather survive–a zombie apocalypse, or an alien invasion?

Zombie apocalypse. Aliens would be too smart. Plus, I don’t think zombies would be insurmountable, as long as I didn’t panic.


Blog Helper (Another Meme)

Posted in Uncategorized on December 17, 2011 by tom

26) Do you like the person you’ve become?
Well, while I don’t hate myself as much as I once did, being Steve McQueen wouldn’t have been a bad person to become.

27) What is a sound you hate? A sound you love?
I hate shrieking. I love the bittersweet sound of Grover Washington, Jr’s soprano sax. Also, belching.

28) What’s your biggest “what if”?
“What if I’d been just 20% less chickenshit, where would I be today?”

29) Do you believe in ghosts?
I’ve never seen one, nor do I especially want to. I don’t know whether they’re real.

30) What about aliens?
Life on other planets? Sure. Them being among us now? Seems unlikely, given that I can’t imagine why any sentient beings would want to hang out with this bunch of idiotic, blathering meatsacks.

31) What is the single best decision you’ve made in your life?
Not dying.

32) What’s the worst place you’ve ever been?
Wal-Mart. Or ICU. No. Definitely Wal-Mart. I never had panic attacks in ICU.

33) Can insanity bring on more creativity?
Insanity makes everything more creative.

34) Most attractive actor of your opposite gender?
Audrey Hepburn, maybe? Right now, I’d say Summer Glau, because I’m watching “Serenity,” and she’s awesome: simple wardrobe, little makeup, able to beat the shit out of an entire roomful of space rogues.

35) To you, what is the meaning of life?
Put me on a highway; show me a sign, and take it to the limit one more time. That or “Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox When I Die.”

36) Define “art”:
Art defies empiricism. One person’s art is another person’s dropcloth. (e.g.: “Lavender Mist”)

37) Do you believe in luck?
Serendipity, sure. Sometimes, good things just happen. I don’t think chasing down a leprechaun and stealing his breakfast cereal will boost luck, though.

38) In your opinion, what makes a great relationship?
Mutual respect, concern for each other and the relationship itself as an organism, and medication. Nah, it’s definitely medication.

39) What’s a song that always makes you happy when you hear it?
“Friday I’m In Love,” by the Cure.

40) Where were you yesterday?
The Fifth Circle of Hell (aka, “work”)

41) What’s the worst injury you’ve ever had?
Injury?? Probably my trashed Mardi Gras ankle. (It was purple, green, and gold)

42) Do you have any obsessions right now?
Surviving till Boxing Day.

43) What’s up?
Answering an amazingly stupid question, currently.

44) Ever had a rumor spread about you?
Oh, sure.

45) Do you believe in “real magic”?
Duh. I’ve watched the Harry Potter documentaries. And every time I say “alohomora” while turning my key, the door unlocks. Plus, didn’t the first 25 questions in this Meme disappear?

46) Do you ever hold grudges against people who have done you wrong?
I try not to. It’s easier to address their actions immediately, then truncheon them and feed them to the alligators.

47) What’s your favorite non-pet animal?

48) What’s your secret weapon to get people to like you?
Bacon, also.

49) Where is your best friend?
Catonsville, MD

50) What do you think is Satan’s last name?
Von Trapp.


Posted in Uncategorized on December 12, 2011 by tom

1. Why did you sign up for writing your blog?

Many moons ago, I used to write really odd, alcohol-fueled e-mails and send them to friends. I loved the activity of writing, the expression and creativity, and it was the perfect accompaniment for getting munted. Once I stopped my nightly overconsumption of fermented grain beverages, I couldn’t write a damn thing. My friend Ali was on Vox, and cajoled me into signing up. My first posts were rough, but gradually, I found the love of writing again.

2. Why did you choose your blog’s name? What does it mean?
When I was production director at 102.5 FM, I had an idea for a promo. I was talking about it with my program director, and I couldn’t quite explain the idea. “I KNOW the idea, and I can hear it. I just can’t…” He replied, “You just can’t quite pull it out of the Tom Zone.” I liked the way it sounded–my own Zone–and it seemed apropos. “Dispatches from the Tom Zone” just followed.

3. Do you own another blog?

Nope. I do more on Twitter than anything, sadly, although I also book blog on Goodreads sometimes. My review to books read ratio is well below the Mendoza Line.

4. What do you do online when you’re not on your blog?

I wander around. I’ll have a movie playing in the background and start reading something about it, then just follow links wherever they lead. I could go from Casablanca to Christy Mathewson to cone-nosed assassin bugs. It’s just pure geek heaven. As mentioned, I do a lot on Twitter with different friend pods, and occasionally chat on Yahoo Messenger or AIM.

5. How about when you’re not on the computer?
Well, I read a lot. I take neuropathy meds, and sleep too much. I work, during which time I’m on a computer. I’m frequently just addled by the stupid stabbyfeet meds, and I’ll watch Tim Burton movies with my brain off.

6. What do you wish people who read your blog knew about you?
That I am extremely wealthy, thin, handsome, and cool. None of these things are true, but if they were, I wouldn’t mind people knowing.

7. What is your favorite community in the blogosphere?
Vox. I say that, fully aware that Vox has been silenced, but I met some amazing people there. I made some amazing friends and acquaintances, simply by visiting a friend’s Vox, seeing somebody else who looked interesting, and adding them. My circles and neighborhoods kept growing. I’ve been on WP for a year, and I still think of myself as a Vox person.

8. What is your philosophy on your blog layout?
My philosophy? Space stuff iz kewl. I am a night person. I love the night life. I’ve got to boogie on the disco ahahaaaaaay. Sorry. Step away for one moment, and Alicia Bridges takes over your keyboard. Nah. I love astronomy stuff and night. Ergo the dark, and the lovely aurorae. Plus, it’s the same thing I had at Vox.

9. Tell me about your picture you use to represent you on your blog.
It’s an actual photograph of my head taken after I took a bunch of NyQuil to fight off the flu. My head is a colorful, ringed gas giant. It only looks like a neon-colored Hubble shot of Saturn.

10. Pick 3 random blogs from your blogroll and tell us about them.
I don’t have a blogroll proper, at least not that I’m aware of, but I follow a number of my former Vox people. Kzinti (from whom I appropriated this meme), Laurie, Kelly, Steve Betz, just to name four. Cori, Ginger Sister, Madtante, and a bunch of others I can’t remember right now, because I’m at work, and my brain is fitna splode. I like these people, and I like the way they write about their lives. Kelly does a lot of book blogging, and I have gotten some great suggestions. There are a number of blogs I’ve subscribed to, and I read them when I can. Sometimes, I save them till I have enough time. Either way, I miss the neighborhood feel of Vox.

11. What features do you think your blog should have that it doesn’t currently?
More damn posts?

Actually, like Kzinti, I liked the multiple access levels on Vox. I liked that I could set something to “neighbors,” and it would be limited to the 200 or so people I had in my ‘hood. For some things, I narrowed that down to a few dozen “friends.” Most of the things I wrote were public. There were just a few subjects I prefered not to have “out there in front of God & everyone,” as the Georgia aphorism goes.

12. What do you consider the 10 most “telling” interests that we would infer from what you blog persona?
That I have cats, read a lot, trip balls on NyQuil when I have a cold (or any other even remotely valid excuse). I almost died from nardsack gangrene, drank a lot, like space stuff, watch a lot of movies, have very little logical flow, and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Sorry. I have bored myself.

13. Do you have any unique interests that you have never shared before? What are they?
Some part of me really wishes I were better at math. I’m not bad, but my eyes lose focus at anything beyond Algebra 2.

14. The best thing about blogging is all of the friends that you make. Beside from those folks, do you think your blog has fans?
When I had my Vox blog, I had StatCounter, and I loved see the hits from all over the world. I was getting 10 or 20 times as many hits then than I do now. I don’t think I have any “fans,” per se. It’s mostly just my friends, as far as I know. I’m glad to have you, whoever you are.

15. What’s your current obsession? What about it captures your imagination?
I don’t really have one. I just try and get through the day without falling down.

16. What are you glad you did but haven’t really had a chance to post about?
Various CIA black ops, exorcisms, and coups d’etat.

17. How many people that first became a blog friend, have you met face to face?
Really, only noted author, cupcakestress, and Canadian, Laurie.

18. What don’t you talk about here, either because it’s too personal or because you don’t have the energy?
Work. Just too damned uninteresting.

19. What’s a question that you’d love to answer?
Who wrote the book of love?

20. Have you ever lost a blogging friendship and regretted it?
Yes. Still not sure what happened, but yes.

21. Have you ever lost a blogging friendship and thought, “Was that overdue!”
Nope. I think it’s pretty miraculous people keep coming back.

Um. That’s it. I’ve had a lot of fun with my blog. I miss writing, and I need to do it more. I don’t really write with any consistent purpose. It’s just brain droppings, as George Carlin so perfectly called them. Weird and occasionally stressful as it was, I enjoyed my two long, themed writing marathons: Lent in Casablanca, and that weird story with LiLo, Ginger Sister, and Kelly. I guess blogging occasionally makes me feel legitimately smart sometimes, instead of just smarter than the bunch of idiots I frequently encounter IRL.

Have a lovely Monday. And thanks for stopping by.

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