Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Does Whatever a Spider Can.

The following post is dedicated to my academe blogging superhero(ine), Alfina the Vague, from whom I plagiarized, openly, the thematic material, and even a little bit of the style.

I was walking to UNCW last night around midnight, for the following three reasons: (1) there are not herds of shambling undergrads in the library between midnight and three, and hence I have less cause to fear inane cellular phone banter, or my laptop being thieved; (2) all the reference texts of which the school only possesses one copy, which is to say nearly all of them, are typically not in use by another MA student and are subsequently likely to be on the shelf at midnight; (3) I walk the earth by dark and crave the flesh of the living. Hey, everyone needs a hobby, right? Sure, inexpensive draft Miller High Life can slake my undead hunger and thirst for the quick, but I cannot deaden, er, liven, my need to walk under the moon and the stars. But neither can the spiders, lovely things that they are, as compelled by their nature as any vampire or zombie.

I believe that the variety of arachnid that I stumble near, and across, and sometimes into, on these nocturnal fact-finding probes is a relative of the European garden spider. It’s too far south for it to be of that exact grouping, but it matches the picture and the characteristics pretty well. I understand full well that my walking into the nets of one of these is going to cause me no greater harm than a tremendous sensation of ick, but, c’mon, don’t we all have enough ick in our lives, already? And the damned things like to build across sidewalks, half the time, as if one of them really thinks that it can take me down. No, spider, you’re going to annoy me, making me put aside my higher, self-aware, spiritual bond with all other animals and ergo cast you to the ground and squishify you. No, that isn’t a word. Luckily for the spiders, the street lamps tend to help me pick up their nasty, tenacious practical joke before I wreck their homes and then have to kill them before witnesses arrive.

But I am ambivalent, I must admit. My reaction to anything lacking a spine that crawls on eight legs and builds things by its own organic secretions, my being a vertebrate and all, is natural enough: it’s a bit like looking at your ruralite uncle’s unrestored ’73 Monte Carlo, and thinking “that’s actually your car?” Only in this instance, the antiquated item is a billion or so years older than me, the new model, and so I feel weirdly impelled to destroy webs and ant hills as a satisfying affirmation of my animal modernity. Call me vain.

But I really am rather captivated by orb-spinning arachnids, and the sheer amount of work that they get done in an evening. Were the next hurricane to level my apartment, rather than merely tear the siding off it and remove my address, (as Ophelia did, hopelessly confusing all shipping companies and taxi drivers), I’m entirely certain that I wouldn’t be able to rebuild it in a day. Given the proper materials, I’m not certain I could rebuild the spider’s home in a day. I’m not much with a loom, I fear.

Additionally this variety seems to have a certain developed level of instinct: if I toss leaves into their webs, they do not immediately react; they seem to be waiting to see if the caught object will struggle or not, differentiating between edible and inedible captures. They eventually will move to the leaves, cut them from the web, and drop them. It’s really quite remarkable.

If only they’d just stay in the bushes, and away from the sidewalk, I’d simply enjoy the show and leave well enough alone. But I walk the earth by night, you see, and so do they, and inevitably we must brush against one another. So before I mash the next arachnid I mash, I’d like to sit him down and have a talk, about how I’m acting within the precepts of nature, extraneous to the confines of invented human constructs like “ethics” and “justice.” I want my spider to understand, in his little spider logic, that this is the way this hard world works, and unfair as it is: you—ancient, stupid, small, bug; me—modern, vertebrate, intelligent, large primate. I hate to say it, but there’s just not room for both of us in this town.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Under Contruction III.

The sidebar has been reorganized to form a sort of "greatest hits" compilation based on the more enduring and less irrelevant posts from the archives. I'm letting a few Tennesseeans tiptoe over here, so I figured I would spare them the trouble of slogging through the New Orleans soup of useless political and sports posts of old and point them toward the occasional decent essay. Anyone else is free to brouse it, of course, though I'm not so silly that I expect anyone to take me up on that. I just wish I remembered where I put that post about roasting a frog when I was a kid. That one was pretty darned funny, if I do say so myself.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Stones!

I bought the new Stones album off of iTunes after I read eight seperate good reviews and heard another one on NPR. Oh, my god: it actually doesn't suck. This may be their first consistently non-sucky album of original material (since 1981's Tattoo You was outtakes) since Some Girls in 1978. They sound like they actually care and aren't mailing in a performance so they can get richer off the ensuing tour: Mick's vocals sound better than they have since I was crapping myself and Jimmy Carter was President; Keith and Ronnie and Charlie (who, it must be said, never sucked even when the rest of the band did) sound like they're jamming in somebody's basement--you know, like a rock n' roll band and not a dull corporate megolith, like they have for ten-or-so straight albums with the exception of a few decent tracks on the otherwise sucky Voodoo Lounge. They've somehow managed to shake off the glitzy, polystyrene overproduction that has poisoned two decades of their musical efforts and managed to sound like they're having fun again. It's blowing my mind. It's not just a good Stones album, which means a better-than-average effort by a washed up bunch of geezers: it's a plain good album, as in it would be a good debut album for a band starting today. It's as if somebody kidnapped those bored old men who still put on a great show and replaced them with actual musicians. There's funk and blues and fighting and fucking and cursing and drinking, you know, the Stones before they decided that selling celebrity was a lot easier than making good music.

Go check it out. Really. I wouldn't lie to you.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Cataracts and Hurricanoes.

About four thousand moleskin points, as my brother Jason would have it, to anyone that can identify the titular reference without a Google search.

Ophelia, which is, oddly, another reference to the same guy, is coming my way. She's presently a category one hurricane, which means a few roofing tiles get blown off and some power lines get knocked down and the people living in the beach communities have to go to a hotel for a couple of days. What exactly were they thinking by living that close to the ocean, anyway? I've filled up a bunch of bottles with tap water and have some canned food, so I'm not terribly concerned about a possible power outage, which is ultimately about the worst thing I'm likely to encounter. My apartment grounds are probably at least twenty or thirty feet above sea level, and I live on the third floor, so it would essentially require a tsunami to drown me.

Since this is not New Orleans, and Ophelia is not Katrina, and I am not in any great danger of anything more severe than a day off from school, I have to admit a guilty little pleasure: I'm a bit excited to see this. I want to sit somewhere where I can hear the howl of the wind and watch debris whip by at fastball velocity, I want to watch the rains fly sideways into everything until the whole world is drenched underneath the darkened sky. The winds have already begun to pick up and ravage the Atlantic, creating a surf so frothy and violent that it has driven all but the die-hard surfers into pacicked retreat. The gale is trumpeting the show to follow, telling me that Nature, while not enraged, is feeling a bit cranky today, and is coming to Wilmington to let me know all about her unhappiness. I've never seen this before, and I absolutely can't wait, the potential failure of my air-conditioning be damned.