Walking in the Woods

 And Minding the Mushrooms

So the last post was … what, March? Well. … I have been busy working on my book, albeit with one hand, which means slow typing. The good news is, about three weeks ago, I started typing with two hands. Yes, two. Count ’em, two hands.

Huzzah.

Don’t get me wrong; it isn’t like I’m suddenly back to normal. There are errors galore, I type at a mere fraction of the speed I used to and my arm gets tired after awhile. Still, there is progress: the other day I did 1,000 words or so in about three hours (with breaks and whatnot). I remember when it used to take much longer with one hand typing, so once again, huzzah.

Why now? Well my right arm is slowly but consistently getting stronger; about once a month I would test it. This time, about three weeks ago, I figured it could hang with the two armed typing and away I went.

Then there is a new — as opposed to old, heh — over-use injury to my peroneal tendons in my right foot. That meant some time off from the gym; when I finally got to where I could walk without a limp and started taking long walks, I thought I should take along my new camera gear and make some pretty pictures, which is why I’m here: to post a few of thede said pictures,

Don’t worry; I’ve got that old box sitting right here; I’ll get to it one of there days.

In the meantime, I’ve posted a new album on Flickr and my photo blog; I’ve got a few outtakes and whatnot to post here.

First off, at the north end of Burnet Woods, where I took my camera for a stroll, I encountered this character:

shroom head

At first I thought there something pornographic about his/her/its nose — i.e., he had a dick nose. You know, a dick where his nose should be — or a nose shaped like a dick, at any rate. But no, upon further reflection — and figuring out what it said underneath, I figured it must be a ‘shroom, as in a mushroom-shaped nose.

Am I reading too much into this?

Then, all the way at the south end of the woods, above a little platform at the end of the lake, I encountered said artiste once again.

shroom head too

Then on the way back home I encountered this warning:

watch out: shrooms

Is that to watch out for ‘shrooms, if the sign is any indication? Or is it to watch out for the log itself, which is laying across my path? In any event, the last time I had any ‘shrooms, Bush the Elder was president, so I think it’s best to let sleeping dogs — or ‘shrooms — lie and be on my merry way.

And last but not least, here is what apparently is a sex log.

sex log?

Well then.

Jeff Does Drag

Drinking, Drag, Transgenders and Bondage

So one weekend back in 1994 or 1995, I went to a charity drag ball. Some other interesting things happened that weekend as well — in fact it was “epic,” as they say — but I’m taking the fifth (as they used to say) on the rest of it.

Sleeping dogs and all that.

Anyway, one day my friend Dee wanted to know if I wanted to attend Oberlin College’s charity drag ball that weekend: 10 bucks at the door and all the cheap beer a person could drink. Everyone had to dress in drag — except the people who dressed in bondage gear.

Well, hell yes! Let me just find a skirt and heels.

Jeff and Dee in drag

These were taken on a cheap throw-away instamatic — that’s my excuse, anyway — so excuse the quality. And this wasn’t a public place, but I don’t think Dee will mind.

Jeff in drag

Man, I make a hideous woman, it’s true.

Jeff's feet in high heels

Jeff's ass

Oh my.

But get a load of those shaved legs, huh? And those see-through shoes that are about a size or so too small. Woo, indeed.

On with the show …

Oberlin drag show

Oberlin drag show

jeff-oberlin4

jeff-oberlin5

jeff-oberlin6

jeff-oberlin7

There are many more, but you get the idea. A good time was had by all. And Dee, if you’re out there, give us a shout.

Stay tuned for more trips into the archives. …

The Good Old (Drunken) Days

So here a few from college, or right after. This isn’t all of them, though, because it occurred to me that I haven’t seen or talked to these people in 20-something years. …

I wish I had a time machine. I’d go back and tell my younger self to lose the porno ‘stache:

Jeff's ID

¡Ay caramba.

This is lame
This is lame. Probably because I’m not drunk yet.
Jeff has a beer and a flower
Here we go …
Jeff has a beer
And here.
Jeff, Tim, and Susan
So drunk.

I included this one because it was taken in a public place. But if Tim and/or Susan is … er, watching, give me a holler, huh? I’d love to talk to you again. …

Jeff lends a cheer

This was also in a public place, specifically the Shively (?) dining hall. This was taken the summer after my senior year in high school; we wanted to give the cheerleaders, who were attending some sort of cheerleading conference, something to cheer about.

Besides my porn ‘stache, that is. And note that this t-shirt is the same one pictured a couple years later, above.

Jeff is drunk again ...
A few minutes before passing out …

Jeff lends a cheer

Here I am right after college, in Alpena, MI. You can’t really see it here, but the snow is piled up some 15 feet or so. I had to climb down to the second floor roof.

Jeff and the Mobile Bay
Literally in the Great Lakes …

Yep, I’m standing smack in the middle of Lake Michigan. This is in the Straits of Mackinaw, MI, about 7 miles west of the Mackinaw Bridge (it’s a tiny little thin line on the horizon), and about 1.5 miles south of the western tip of St. Helena Island (you can see a bit of it behind the tug in the distance). The tug is the USCGC Mobile Bay, a 140-foot icebreaking tug (thumbs-up, guys!).

Also, it’s March 20th, 1991. Of course, there is snow on the ground until May; it is half way to the North Pole.

Jeff gets his ere pierced
The first of several piercings …

Once again, sorry for the quality; these are all scans of pictures taken years ago (often by people as drunk as I was).

Postscript:

I’m throwing in this picture of Michael Riley, just ‘cuz. We miss you, man.

Michael Riley

There Once Was a Kid Named Jeff

So back about … oh, I don’t know, some years ago, I guess — after Mom died but still sometime before Dad died (obviously) — he, Dad, handed me a a large box. In it was a mess of photos and a bunch of school papers dating back to kinder garden. I took the box, brought it home and there it sat in my closet for some years, gathering dust.

Until now.

A very wee little Jeff

This was taken a day or so after I was born, back at the end of 1968. Before I went home, even.

Let Jeff eat cake

Then there is me — not sure if the birthday cake says 12 or 13 — stuffing me face. Acne hadn’t kicked in yet, and my hair is still long, so it has to be 12 or so. Man, that is a big-ass piece of cake.

This is a scan, by the way — they all are, or will be — so there is lots of scratches and whatnot, most of which I can’t be arsed to fix.

All I want is your photograph

Here’s an old-school selfie taken in what is most likely my junior year of high school — 1985 or ’86. Note the solarization; I had taken it to use up a roll of film and solarized the image just for the hell of it.

Hung up on my mirror for years until Mom and Dad packed up and moved to Tennessee; hadn’t thought about in years until I pulled out that box. And yes, that Def Leppard t-shirt was worn proudly and unironically, thank you very much. \m/

And now here is a cow, just ‘cuz:

a cow

Not actually shot by me but by the Alpena News photographer — whose name, unfortunately I’ve long forgotten — sometime in 1990 or 1991.

That’s all for now. But there is plenty more where those came from.

 

Spam Poetry by Omarah Martinez

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Indeed, I shall.

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*Editor’s Note: The author’s submission via Akismet was originally one block of text; the breaks into lines of poetry were added by me. I like to think that I was merely serving as midwife to bring Omarah’s creative vision fully to life.

So I Missed a (Photo a) Day

But I Have a Good Excuse Jeff Chappell's very own photography portfolio site. Huzzah.

I missed posting a photo yesterday because this. I was hard at work all afternoon refining this new subdomain of Jeff Chappell dotcom where I’m housing my photography portfolio (and eventually some related galleries). There’s still some nuts and bolts to tighten and whatnot, but all in all, it’s coming along nicely.

So that’s my excuse, anyway. By the time I thought of posting a photo for my Photo a Day project, it was too late and I couldn’t look at the computer anymore.

I could have cheated and post-dated an entry; it’s not like anyone would haven noticed, since the only time someone comes here, according to The Google, is because they searched for the terms “bat shit or “dumb ass,” or came looking for an under construction gif. But then until recently, I think I averaged updating this here blog about once every few months; one reaps what one sows.

Fave Spam: Fastidious Post Edition

The Anal Retentive Chef of Blogging

Phil Hartmann as the Anal Retentive Chef? Or Jeff Chappell writing a blog post?Well, it’s been a long time since I posted any favorite spam. It’s not as amusing these days, as the bots have gotten more sophisticated. No longer are there long strings of keywords that formed a strange kind of unintentional spam poetry.

No, these spam comments today could potentially fool the naive, potentially, with their seeming sincerity. This recent one caught my eye, though — the only reason being that it fooled (the rarely fooled) Akismet filter as being legitimate and was placed in the pending review queue. It’s bollocks, of course, so never mind that.

But it did amuse me. Of course my posts are nothing but fastidious. To wit:

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Actually, I Couldn’t Healthcare Less about Spam

The “fastidious” clearly indicates the use of Google Translate; clearly this the work of an MMO gold farmer. One would assume from somewhere in Asia, but who is to say? Clearly likely, though, from someplace where English is not the first language. Here’s an example from the actual linked page:

We’re so near to getting Evening Vanquisher cheap rs gold, I can almost flavor it. A lot of my guild partners would really like to have the name, and I’m sure when we down Sartharion with three drakes this weeks time — fingertips surpassed… — a lot of them will be wearing it in Dalaran. I’m not too interested in it myself. I couldn’t actually health care less. It’s awesome and all, but what I really want is Battlemaster.

Of course this is probably what my French sounds like to a native French speaker much of the time; certainly that’s what my limited Thai sounds like. But then my Thai friends can usually get the flavor of it. Eventually my fingertips will surpass it, but then they could healthcare less.

And who hangs out in Dalaran anymore?

In Which the Gecko Barks About Books

A Cub Scout Reading and Writing Merit Badge. I was never a scout -- or a Weblo *snigger* -- but if I was, I would have had this badge.A Life Less Ordinary? Check. But It’s Books and Writing That Float My Boat

I suppose I have lead a life less ordinary – not a fantastic life, or one worthy of particular note, no — not the stuff of books. But I’ve taken roads less traveled that have taken me far away from my MidWestern, suburban American roots. Such is the life of a journalist with a penchant for wanderlust, I suppose.

Nevertheless, at the end of the day, when left to my own devices, two of the things I like to do are read books and write about books, which one can do anywhere. Perhaps I should have minored in journalism and majored in English back in college — fewer reporter’s notebooks and more books.

But then it’s journalism that set me on those Bobby Frost paths less traveled (a metaphor I’ve employed befor). I sometimes wonder if it was my experiences as a journalist that gave me wanderlust, or was it an inherently restless nature that was subsequently fed/exacerbated by writing gigs? I suspect the latter. Maybe it was a book that I read as an impressionable child.

*cough* Tolkien *cough*

In any event I do know – unless we assume the depressing idea of fate and predestination – that were it not for my travel experiences as a journalist — namely a month spent in China — I doubt I would have ever pursued a career in teaching ESL as a means of living abroad. Whether that continues to develop into some sort of second career, or not, remains to be seen. But if it does, it will always be an offshoot of my first career in a very direct way.

I need to find a faux pen and ink drawing of a keyboard; I think that would be a more apt symbol than ye olde feathered quill and ink. But I suppose it’s irrelevant at this point; I do what I do. And lately, in my free time, as the quadriceps tendon snafu settles down, that’s been reading and writing (but no arithmetic) — reading books and writing about books.

I don’t want to repeat myself too much though; let it suffice to say that Barking Book Reviews has gotten a lot of attention from me as of late; most recently it was to review the latest from one of my favorites: The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, by Caitlín R. Kiernan.

Consequently, Barking Book Reviews has been getting some interesting attention from without, which you can read about on my quote-unquote professional site.

As I note there, where will it lead, if anywhere? And to what end? I don’t know. But here’s to hoping it continues to be unexpected and a bit out of the ordinary.

Karma Chameleon, Karma Quadriceps

In Which I Catch A6 and Ruminate on Recovery

No, no, no. Not *that* Karma Chamelon. I don't think Boy George and Culture Club had orthopedic problems and existential angst in mind. So a few days ago I passed the three-month mark: three months since I tore – completely severed, rather – the quadriceps tendon in my right leg, and had surgery to correct it the next day, Christmas Eve.

Has it really been a month since I last posted and laughed in the face of Fate and the Universe? I guess it has. I haven’t had a lot of bandwidth the past few weeks for much else beyond teaching and reading; I’ve had a cold that has persisted for two weeks – persisted in kicking my ass. I’ve compared notes with fellow expats, and it seems they have drawn the same conclusion I have – we don’t have the natural or resistance we would otherwise have back home, where our bodies are familiar with the bugs that get passed around.

Back in the States I typically would get a cold or the flu once or twice a year, and it would last a week or so. In between those times I might get a scratchy throat or a runny nose for a few days here and there, but nothing more than a minor annoyance.

But over here on the other side of the planet, there are bugs floating around that my white blood cells haven’t encountered before, and when you come down with a cold, it’s a bitch kitty, as my old man would have said. Coughing up technicolor snot – or blowing it out of your nose – every twenty minutes or so. Coughing until you sound like a trumpeting, randy elk. Not fun.

Somehow, thanks to my usual pig-headedness and over-the-counter drugs, I managed to keep up my teaching load, which is now back to full time. But as I say, the past few weeks, I haven’t had much bandwidth for aught else.

A technical diagram illustrating where the quadriceps tendon rupture occurred.That has included my therapy exercises, but now that I’m walking unaided, it doesn’t seem to have slowed down my recovery. Of course I make it a point to walk up and down stairs at every opportunity.

I still need a bannister to lean on, but when one is present, I take the stairs. I’ve been able to walk up stairs normally – provided they aren’t too high and there is the aforementioned bannister present – for the past three weeks or so; for the last two weeks or so, I’ve been able to walk down stairs normally.

This tends to make my leg a bit sore at the point of the injury/surgical repair if I do it too much, but then, no pain no gain, at this point. My therapist, Mistress Lien, continues to be pleased with my progress. Although when I showed up last week – having canceled my weekly appointment the previous week because I was barfing up chunks of lung – and I looked like death and was braying like a donkey when I coughed, she politely inquired wtf I was doing there.

I wasn’t going to miss another week of therapy, I said, cold or no. Besides, a little physical activity might help – get the lymph moving around, and whatnot. And I’ve noticed that when my sinuses are swollen, physical activity is one of the few things that relieves them – the blood flows elsewhere, for a bit.

To top it all off I accepted a bit of freelance web development work from an old acquaintance that I know through work, and that’s kept me busy too, lo these past weeks. But I’ve enjoyed getting my hands dirty with CSS, PHP and whatnot again. Nerd is as nerd does. But as I say, no time for anything else.

Karma for Funky Walk: I’m Sorry Larry

I howl with rage and despair, just like this dog. Despair_by_FluffleNeCharkaAs I’ve noted before, I’ve been more than a little obsessed with the existential meaning behind my torn quadriceps tendon. I can’t help but think to some degree that perhaps that it is karma. Maybe not for one thing, but maybe for several little things. Maybe my karmic bank vault was a little too full and some sort of cosmic pressure valve opened – and I suffered a serious injury stepping off a bus.

The other day I was walking through the park – my gate is almost normal, at this point – when my leg buckled and I stumbled and nearly fell before I recovered. In order to walk with a near normal gate I still have to consciously think about it; my leg is still too weak otherwise and I limp noticeably. The buckling happens less and less as my leg gets stronger, but it still happens once in a while.

I found myself drawing stares from other people in the park, stares like I haven’t drawn since I left the crutch at home. It’s funny how quickly I’ve gone from an object of amazement – a foreigner walking with a crutch! In public! Out in the street! – to just another expat walking around Sai Gon. Once again the only people that give me a second glance these days are people that want to sell me something.

But as I regained my balance after my leg buckled that day in the park, I crossed a vast gulf of time, back to grade school and junior high, and in my minds eye I pictured a kid named Larry. Larry – or as a friend and I had dubbed him, as teenagers are wont to be cruel – Funky Walk.

Larry was suffered from what I presume now was some sort of congenital defect; one of his legs was malformed and didn’t quite point in the right direction, and he walked with a noticeable limp. I went to large suburban elementary school and junior high school, and he was one of those kids you see around, in the halls, in the lunch room, but never get to know. Of course, Larry stood out because of his rolling, rocking gate.

In junior high I had a friend; let’s call him “Ralph.” For a year or two we were pretty tight buds, and then in high school we grew apart. It was one of those growing-up kind of things where at some point you stop and think “why was I friends with that guy? He’s an asshole.” Granted, Ralph might very well have thought the same thing about me.

Keep on Truckin' Larry, wherever you are -- sorry we were teenage dicks. Anyway, whenever we saw Larry around school, we always remarked “there goes Funky Walk.” He looked like that iconic “Keep on Trucking” guy drawn by R. Crumb — himself iconic — when he walked. Teenagers can be real dicks, and I was no different, unfortunately.

I haven’t thought about Larry in decades; not since high school, of course. But the other day, I could picture him in my mind’s eye as if it were 1982 and I had just passed him in the halls of Anderson Junior High. His long dishwater blonde hair, black t-shirt and faded boot cut jeans (Larry actually looked pretty hip for a kid in the suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1982, come to think of it).

Must have been tough growing up with that abnormal gate. He probably went to a lot of doctors and physical therapists, and in the end he was stuck with it – unlike me, who has a light at the end of his gimpy tunnel. I remember at some point in high school, I was hanging out with a girl, and Larry walked by, and I said something like “There goes Funky Walk.”

I guess I wasn’t quite into my more-thoughtful, post-teenage-dick phase yet. She informed me, and rightfully so, that I was an asshole, and that Larry was actually a pretty cool guy.

Larry, wherever you are are now, I owe you an apology. For what it’s worth, I’m sorry I was and adolescent dickhead. Having had a small taste of what it’s like, to be stared at because you aren’t as able bodied as everyone else, to say you have my respect would be an understatement.

Fuck Yeah! I can walk! And welcome all you meme googlers.P.S. SEO Funnies

It seems a lot of people are out there are wandering the Vast Series of Tubes in search of things related to the “Fuck Yeah” meme. My previous post has generated a lot of traffic in the month that it’s been up, most of which came from Google searches for “fuck yeah;” it’s become the second most popular landing page on this blog. Notably, it doesn’t contain the words “fuck yeah” anywhere in the post, but it does sport an example of the Fuck Yeah meme in the form of an image, and “fuck yeah” is included in the image tags (’cause I’m a good little search engine optimizer).

Of course I used that image because it adequately conveyed how I felt, being able to walk unaided and ride a bike, albeit a stationary one, for the first time since I ruptured my quad tendon. So for all you folks who landed here, read my meandering prose and all the while wondered “what the hell,” I bid you welcome.

And fuck yeah. I can walk. I may look like an R. Crumb cartoon when I do it, but I can walk.

Confessions of a Compulsive Bibliolater

A blurry pile of books: too much bibliolation and you'll go blind. Check it out. I don’t just sit around in front of the computer whining into the cold and uncaring electronic ether about my torn quadriceps tendon. I also sit in front of the computer and prattle on about books.

Other people amuse themselves with Angry Birds and Facebook; I amuse myself by writing book reviews and other whatnot about books. To each their own. Everyone needs a hobby, and this one keeps me off the streets, and is somewhat slightly more legitimate and socially redeeming than spending that time playing video games (another thing with which I’ve been known to fritter away my precious life’s days).

And gods know I’ve had plenty of time for reading, as of late. So if you have any interest in old-school science fiction, namely Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, or just want to see what floats my literary boat in general – science fiction being just one wave upon those waters – just one aspect of many within my bibliolatrous enthusiasm – check out Barking Book Reviews.

Which may soon be renamed Confessions of a Compulsive Bibliolater.

Because I’m a bibliolatin’ sumbitch. I can’t stop with the compulsive bibliolation. Day in, day out. Even now, at age 43, sometimes I do it two or three times a day. But I’m not a biblioklept; I duly pay for my habit.