A person purse

Swifty Lazar

OK, yes, I've been carrying a purse, a little green-and-brown-striped plastic number that I picked up at Walgreen's for $1.50. It's not that I'm a drag queen, it's that I have to carry things with me when I leave my home – "home" here connoting whatever building I'm calling, on a temporary, day-to-day basis, by that name. Purses were invented for the purpose of carrying things, clear back, I imagine, when they mainly comprised the inedible intestinal linings of otherwise delicious prehistoric animals, but somehow, culturally, it became the privilege of only women to carry them.

The right word

The syzygy of camphor and jasmine ...

All of it started with an email received by my editor at a website for which I review movies. This website receives an insane number of hits, something like two million a month, and we thus receive a proportionate number of emails from the literate imbalanced — readers inquiring, for instance, about our opinion as to whether or not the alien invasion depicted in Spielberg's War of the Worlds is "real." (As it happens, space aliens figure into a lot of the, um, less-reasoned communications that we receive.

The privilege of being Kirk’s friend

Kirk Rundstrom

It was on a spring afternoon at Kirby's Beer Store in the early nineties that Kirk Rundstrom and I first spoke, but I'd noticed him before that. Everyone noticed Kirk, because he was all magnetism and he caught your attention the minute he walked into a room, but what I knew about him then was that he was lead singer for a band I wasn't crazy about, Red Lizard, and that the first time I'd seen them play Kirk had wandered in from Kirby's parking lot in the middle of the first song, already singing on a cordless microphone.

Boxers or briefs of the locally famous

Boxer John L. Sullivan.

A woman I know asked me recently what kind of underwear men are wearing nowadays: boxers or briefs? My answer was that I didn't know. The last underwear I bought was a clearance-priced three-pack of cotton boxers, but, being essentially homeless, I'm happy for any clean pair of underwear, fashioned within reason, that I can get my hands on; I'm not in a position to obsess about contour or fit. I feel as though I probably have plenty of underwear, but it's hard to guess in which of the various houses and apartments I pass through that this underwear might currently reside.

"I Don't Sleep" re-examined

Jon Secada in Grease.

Last week I entered my sixth month of writing the I Don't Sleep column for Wichita City Paper. Could this possibly represent the only undertaking that I've managed consistently for a comparable length of time? I don't like to say.

Advice from the emergency room

Emergency room doctors recommend that you wait until your Skilsaw is turned off and disconnected from its power source prior to enjoying any crystal meth that you might happen to have on hand.


This week I ran into a woman I know who is "disappointed" in me. The cause of her disappointment, as I soon found out, was that I had made jokes "at the expense of minorities" in my column of last week. (Last week I wrote about my high school experiences in the seventies, including the information that my class at Goddard High School contained only one Hispanic and maybe — maybe — one black.) I was surprised, because I was of the opinion that I had been writing in support of minorities, but then we've run across this issue at Wichita City Paper before.

Pole dancing Pussycat

I foreswore dancing in protest on the day in June, 1983, when the Embarrassment broke up. The Embarrassment was my favorite band, and if they weren't going to play music anymore then I sure as hell wasn't going to dance. Although I no doubt informed the Embarrassment guys of my decision, they somehow failed to understand the enormous burden of pressure they were enduring as a result of it, and my protest did not, in the end, cause a reconciliation among them.

Happy new year

Let's take 2005 as an example. Most Americans are likely to remember that year for the Iraq War or the catastrophic hurricane. Those of you with a head for years will remember it for a personal landmark of some kind, or even for the lack thereof. Me, I remember 2005 as being the year that I achieved a personal high-water mark for extraordinary stupidity. Here's what happened:

Cathy Rigby visits the galaxy

As the Voyager spacecraft enter interstellar space, Jake Euker asks the 1970s gymnast how it feels to go beyond the solar system

Packing tips for trans-galactic travel: An image of gymnast Cathy Rigby, pictured here on the May 5, 1972, cover of Life magazine, is stored on 12-inch gold-plated copper disks aboard the Voyager I and II spacecraft. Among the images sharing disk space with Rigby are: diagram of conception, detail; radio telescope; DNA structure magnified, detail; mathematical definitions; demonstration of licking, eating, and drinking; DNA structure, detail; solar location map; Jupiter; and a modern highway in Ithaca, NY.

I noticed a news item recently reporting that on August 15 of this year the Voyager I spacecraft reached a point one hundred astronomical units from the sun. To put it in lay terms, Voyager I, which has already traveled farther from Earth than any other man-made object, is now one hundred times more distant from the sun than we are.


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