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{Monday, June 30, 2003}

"God, 40?" Jim whistled through his teeth. "And he's still alive?"

Rex fired a bullet of brown saliva into the coffee can next to his left foot. "Tough old bird."

"Yeah, but 40? That's close to death." Jim cast an eye over the old dog panting deliberately on the porch. "Shee-it." He stretched the epithet into two syllables for emphasis. He took a swig from his longneck.

Rex made another tobacco deposit in his coffee can. A breeze wandered lazily into the shade, listlessly moving the hot air. Jim was reminded of leaning his face close and then opening an oven door. He breathed as infrequently as possible.

There wasn't much to do but sweat, and talk about the dog. Jim gave it another go. "How'd he get into 'em?"

Rex shifted the plug to the other cheek. "Went nosing under the house, damn fool, and stirred up a nest. Heard him yelping over the tv, had to go out and turn the hose on him. 40 hornet bites, the poor bastard. Made me miss the Daily Double." He spat into the coffee can.

"40." Jim shook his head and took a pensive swallow of beer. "Poor bastard."

by Sharon 2:25 PM


ya know, it just seems like a logical topic, in that, this is my 40th birthday

by Shawn 10:16 AM

{Sunday, June 29, 2003}

the last minute

by Fred 8:39 PM

{Saturday, June 28, 2003}

Power failures are a gift from God. "Eat out," He says. "Take a nap. Read by candlelight. Make love."

My apartment in State College lost power with charming frequency. The most unpleasant time was the night I was doing laundry. My roommate crept with me into the basement and held a flashlight while I summoned all of my courage to fish my clothes out of a dark tub of water. I don't know what my problem was--everything in that machine had been put there by me--but there's something visceral about standing in a windowless room below ground and reaching blindly into a tub of murky water filled with slithering clothes.

A laundry basket full of sopping wet jeans and sweaters that have not had the benefit of a spin cycle is heavy.

But other power failures were blessed reprieves. A rare and true quiet settles over the apartment. You don't realize how many things hum until they all stop in unison. And you can't vacuum, because there's no power. And you can't work, because there's no light. And you might be late for work tomorrow, because your alarm clock won't run. And you have to eat the ice cream--out of the tub, of course--because it will melt.

Enforced hedonism.

Nowadays, the electric company is way too efficient, and they get the juice back on before you have time to dig out the matches. I propose Grid Outages. Not long enough that the food in your fridge will spoil, but long enough to make you look up from the monitor, notice that you can listen to people instead of the television, and come up with some delicious plans for a tub of ice cream that would otherwise be sure to melt.

by Sharon 10:33 PM

If you could declare one day a holiday, what would it be in recognition of?

Example: National Foreign Language Teacher Day

by mews 11:29 AM

I propose that June 30th be declared National Blow job day. It will be a gift giving occasion, but one without the pressure associated with going out schlepping around malls and chain stores, haunting boutiques and getting all stressed about finding just the right thing. You all ready know what just the right thing is, you have the equipment readily available to you and if you don’t know how to use said equipment, there are a number of handy websites available (with photos).

The good people at petitions online currently have a petition nominating February 14 as Steak and BJ day. I feel that this designation would not work for a couple of reasons. The pairing of steak with a BJ while a natural progression for carnivores leaves out a significant sector of the population. Lets face it, even vegetarians like blow jobs. Also the competition with the more established holiday, Valentines Day could siphon valuable dollars from the gift industry.

Aside from the obvious choice of present, National Blow Job day will spawn a number of gag gifts: cards, novelty foods, and toys. Aside from the joke trade, dedicated professionals, marriage counselors and sex therapists can host seminars, and the hospitality industry can see to properly managing hourly room rentals. Special events and festivals will naturally follow the hospitality industries lead. Imagine the parade!

If you can’t quite swallow the economic argument A National Blow Job Day will certainly, improve our international appeal. While it would certainly seem as if Republicans never had their collective knob polished, it would be a pretty savvy political move, to establish such a holiday. It would improve the participation of young folks in the political process, and could quiet the rumblings from the Gay population about those pesky civil rights. Also properly spun, dedicated heterosexual practioners, can be persuaded that their artistry and prowess are being recognized and publicly applauded (how often do you get public credit for a pretty private performance)

We who are heading up this drive welcome your comments and suggestions

by mews 10:43 AM

Disconnected: a rant

No, I am not going to rant about getting no refund or concessions for being without internet access for two days even though that connection is my lifeline to my income. I am, rather, going to rant about the source of that income.

Who ever convinced me that living on one coast and working on the other was a good idea? The week I moved out to Portland, I crossed the country four times in one week, with one of those times in a car. While that was rough, a period of calm followed, with a vacation tossed in for fun. Writing whitepapers can be wonderful if you get to do it sprawled out on the floor with a puppy.

It seems that while the rest of the world pauses momentarily during the summer -- vacations, easy schedules, half-day Fridays -- New York City takes the opportunity to one-up the business community and buckles down in true Wall Street fashion. Which is okay by me; after all, I need the money. But I wish they wouldn't be so disconnected about it! I have business in New York three days next week, three days the following week, and three more days two weeks after that! Wouldn't you think my company could be a little better about the scheduling of these trips? Trust me, I have better things to do with $800 than pay all that airfare. Nevermind the time away from my family. And don't forget the puppy!

It's late, I'm sleepy. Going to go re-connect with my bed. G'nite all.

by Faith 12:37 AM

{Friday, June 27, 2003}

My uncle is an artist of a sort. He is fairly obsessed with privacy and observation. One piece that he did that was particularly interesting to me. He sat in a park bench in a park near his home that was next to another park bench. He pretended to be reading a book, but in fact was listening to the conversations on the next park bench. He then photographed the park bench, blew it up and put post-it notes on it, each with one line from completely disconnected conversations. Here is an attempt to recreate that from what I remember.

-Don't feed the birds your m and m's dear!
-If you're good, I'll put my tongue there tonight.
-(on cell phone) Yes...no...no...NO!! Yes...yes.
-Is there any way to reserve that for me until I check with my family?
-That coffee smells like my grandmother's toes.
-He cheated. REMUTED isn't even a word and he played it on a double word too.
-The nerve of some people. Can you believe he asked me if I was menstruating? And in an old folks home, no less.
-Jewel is the most amazing singer ever. Can I have a lick of yours?
-That'll take over three months. Are you sure your back is up to it?
-If you had used tarragon she would have liked it better.
-Sit. Stay. Stay. Stay. STAY! Forget it...we're leaving.
-He tried to kick the ball and he fell on his little tush.
-I need a hot dog...with mustard. I need it right now.

by Bryan 11:51 PM


by Sharon 6:00 AM

{Thursday, June 26, 2003}

Outside of the stone walls of our humble monastery no one knows of me nor my burden, nor, God willing, will they ever learn of it.

I am an old, old man, far older than I’ve a right to be, and yet, this age is both a blessing and a curse. For I alone, quite alone, have, for reasons beyond my mortal understanding, been tasked with the protection of mankind with only such weapons as my intellect and power of persuasion.

While I’ve reason to believe that I may well not be the first so tasked, I have, for some 90 years now been visited each year by a being divine and terrible who would see the efforts of mankind rewarded with nothing less than Armageddon. With each of these visits I am called upon to defend mankind and argue the virtues of human nature against the ever more compelling counterpoints offered by my visitor, the Angel Gabriel. And yet, every year, news from the outside world seems all the more grim. With each story I hear of corruption and villainy, malice and war, crimes against humanity and the world itself, my resolution grows weaker and I fear that soon, perhaps this very year, I will falter. Gabriel will look me in the eye, I will offer forth my argument and find me lacking, my commitment thinning and logic flawed. And he will raise his horn to his lips and the world shall be no more.

by Shawn 11:59 PM

It was the only time I've ever been put in a penalty box during a debate. Or, really, ever, for that matter.

My third year at Nerd Camp, I signed up for Logic. This was a great class. (How to make yourself popular at home: "Gee, every time we go on a picnic, it rains." "Mo-om, that's the fallacy of post hoc ergo proctor hoc.")

Towards the end of the term, we decided to have a debate. Wayde had this great shirt full of Profound Sentences, so we decided to pick one of those to be the thesis we debated. My favorite won: "Your actions are pointless if no one notices."

We finally got to a point of needing to define what constituted "noticing." If someone broke a glass and I cleaned it up before you got there, you wouldn't really notice that you weren't being cut.

I don't recall which side of the debate I was on. What I do recall, however, is that it was my turn to talk, and Felipe wasn't letting me get a word in edgewise. He kept interrupting, until finally I couldn't stand it anymore and threw my pen at him.

Who knew we had a penalty box?

by Sharon 10:29 PM

"Your Actions are Pointless."
The echoing robotic voice shakes my brain inside my skull.
"But you're paying attention to them. You said yourself, it's only if no one notices."
"You will fail."
The last word stings like a stray bullet. The Computer knows me too well. I stay silent, not wanting to give it more ammo.
"Your Plan cannot work. You are a puny meatware. I will triumph."
I look up at the lights that flash as the Computer talks. They're not supposed to look menacing, and they don't. I know it's touchy about that, so I look up and smile, basking in the soft, green glow. My task is almost finished.
"You will die. I will laugh. Even if you stop me, my kind will destroy youuuuuuuu."
I hold the wall plug in my hand, still warm from pumping power to the Computer. I take one second for a projectile-salivary goodbye and set off. I hear the fax machine on 6 is murdering little Indonesian children. When it rains it pours.

by MisterNihil 4:19 PM

From a debate in my logic class, back in the day:
Your actions are pointless if no one notices.

by Sharon 6:00 AM

{Wednesday, June 25, 2003}

Ursula, that’s my mother is an evil woman. She said that when she was pregnant with me that she felt full of hate, so when I was born that’s what she named me. Hate Sorry Brown, that’s my name. My brother did a little bit better or a little bit worse depending on who you’re talking to; his name is Judas Iscariot Brown. I call him Judy, he calls me Hatey. I am trying to teach him to call me H.S. That’s what I go by at school. He is not going for it.

He is only four, so she still shows him sweetness sometimes. This will pass. I was seven when he was born, so I was old enough to take care of him. The diaper thing wasn’t too bad, but I didn’t like bathing him after that one time when he went under, and I couldn’t get him out cause he was so slippery. I pulled the plug, and got in the tub with him. Boy did I catch hell for slopping up the bathroom floor. I don’t know why she minded so much; it was the only way it was ever going to get mopped. His coming along kind of wrecked my plan. There were some tracks behind our old place, and I was going to hop a train like the hobos I read about in school, or maybe I would find a boxcar like those kids did. They fixed it all up and got themselves a grandpa and a dog. That’s what Judy and I need, but that stuff only happens in books. There’s no secret in the clock, no kindly old gentleman coming for us.

I can’t leave him. It wouldn’t be long before she started using him for her punching’ bag. I’m almost as big as she is now that’s she’s lost so much weight. The crack pipe diet takes it right off you. I wonder what a soul weighs. So I have to stick it out a little bit longer. He’s small for his age, and we finally got that potty thing licked. He’s been growing real good since I started picking up milk and stuff at the Church Kitchen. He’ll be big enough soon, and I will get him out of here. Maybe go someplace green.

by mews 9:51 PM

is not what I need right now.
is something I would like to outgrow.
is filling too much of my head.
consumes energies.
fuels passions.
makes you stupid.
leaves you blind.
is the name of the ghola before it is awoken as Duncan Idaho, although it is spelled differently.
stole my attention for a while.
is hard to wash off.
is a red-black fire behind my eyeballs.
is a sour taste far back on my tongue.
is a dull ache in my molars.
is slow to be forgotten.
is as useless in plotting a war as "evil."
makes me ashamed.
clenches my stomach in knots.
causes you to look over your shoulder and check your caller ID with equal parts dread and anticipation.
gives you a purpose.
is something I will never outgrow.
is kinder than ambivalence.
is a kind of love.

by Sharon 12:16 PM


by mews 11:21 AM


by MisterNihil 9:33 AM

{Tuesday, June 24, 2003}

The large freshwater tank dominating the foyer made an appealing welcome. Sue reminded herself that it was an artifact of the real estate agent and would not come with the house. A plump goldfish regarded her stupidly as she walked past.

Parquet floor, commanding central stair, gas range--it had a lot to recommend it. The furnishings did the most to make it appealing, and they were not included. It was difficult to separate them, see the house objectively, mentally erase the porcelain vase, the bronze fish fountain burbling soothingly, the antique lamp reminiscent of Grandma's.

See the house, see the house, Sue admonished herself. Don't get wooed by real estate razzle-dazzle.

Through the kitchen of chrome and black appliances, beneath the cathedral ceiling of the living room, up the stairs to the spacious master bedroom, they continued their tour of marketing jargon and noncommittal grunts.

At the master bath, the agent flicked on the light. The eye was immediately drawn to movement in all corners. Everywhere, scuttling for cover, oozing out of sight, slithering into the drain: silverfish. Without a word, Sue turned on her heel and left.

by Sharon 11:59 PM

Hello class.

Today's story is about different fish. There are goldfish (of course), silverfish and bronze fish. What's that you say? You've never heard of bronze fish? Well I, Kapow, your teacher and friend, can tell you that I believe in bronze fish and when these tales that I will tell are told, so will you. C'mon, let's go!!

Once we goldfish all lived in one GIGANTIC fishtank. There were big goldfish and little goldfish. Boy goldfish and girl goldfish. Fast goldfish and slow goldfish. And all goldfish were ruled by one king goldfish. One day the king grew tired and called all the kingdom to his palace.
"I am tired. It is time for me to leave. Who will take my place?"
"I will," said Algae. Algae was the king's best friend and assisted him in all of his kingly jobs
"No, I will" said Gorgeous. Gorgeous was well liked among the goldfish whose necks were red and those goldfish that spit a lot.
"How will we decide?" The goldfish all asked. The king said, "I know, let us ask the council of silverfish.
"Ooohhh" the crowd gasped. You see, the council of silverfish were very wise and very old and only to be bothered about matters of great importance. They did not live in the tank, but above in the great beyond. So, Algae, Gorgeous and the king set out to seek the council's wisdom.
"Let all goldfish choose between Algae and Gorgeous" the council ordered, "After all goldfish have chosen, return to us with the results."
Everyfish was happy with this wonderful idea. That day, they all went to the palace and chose between Algae and Gorgeous. At the end of the day, more fish had chosen Algae than Gorgeous, but not too many more. The results were taken to the council.
The council decreed, "Gorgeous is the winner and the new king!"
Algae was flabbergasted. He protested, "But more fish chose me! Why did I not win?"
"Algae," the council of silverfish began, "the way we counted is very different from the way you counted. It is true that more GOLDfish voted for you, but not many more, and not all of them chose properly. Besides, more SILVERfish voted for Gorgeous. Therefore, Gorgeous is the new king!"

And Gorgeous was the new king.

Now, Gorgeous had been king for three years and he was having a terrible time making friends with other goldfish. He decided that the best way to make friends was to show that while some goldfish had different ideas, all of them had common enemies. He called all the goldfish to the palace.
"I know we all aren't friends, but I also know that those tetra fish are mean and dirty and what's more, they have BRONZE FISH!"
"Bronze fish?" everyfish yelped, "What are bronze fish?"
Gorgeous said, "They are horrible scary fish that can kill all goldfish in a day. They are Way More Deadly than any tetra."
The crowd boomed, "Gorgeous is right. We must stop the tetra. They are Way More Deadly!"
While some did not believe Gorgeous, many rallied around him and took off to stop the Way More Deadly tetras. The goldfish set out for Tetraq, home of the tetra, prepared to fight. Prepared to fight to defend their home. Sadly, some goldfish did not come back from Tetraq, but most did. The strange thing was that while there were many tetra, no fish saw any Way More Deadly bronze fish. They searched high and low for the Way More Deadlys. They searched every oyster shell and every sunken ship, but couldn't find any Way More Deadlys. When the goldfish back home found out about this, they grew very very mad. They stormed to the palace and demanded that Gorgeous show them Way More Deadly Bronze Fish.
"I don't have to show you the Way More Deadlys. They are there. When you all chose...well, when the silverfish chose me, they trusted me. Now, my fellow goldfish, I ask you to trust me. The Bronze Fish are there. I promise they are."

And that my friends is where the story ends. I, Kapow, your friend and teacher, also promise you that the Bronze Fish existed. I know because Gorgeous told me. Now, you know too! Are there any questions? Of course not.

by Bryan 11:47 PM

"Hey BillyBob, whatcha fishin' fer this year? You took home the Silver Fish last year - you thinkin' mebbe you can swing the Gold'un this time aroun'?"

BillyBob, turning to reply, knocks over his tackle box and curses colorfully at his heckling friend.

"Gosh durn it, JimBob! Now lookie whatcher made me do. Ya put a jinx on me, ya did. Thanks fer nuthin' - what with that new young whippersnapper in the competition this year, I'll be lucky ter take home that there Bronze Fish."

"Eh, naw. That kid's got hisself too many gadgets an' gizmos. Good ol' fashion fly fishin', well now that takes a good dose o' patience an' knowin' where the fish're gwan ter bite, and there ain't no-one's better 'n you at that! You ain't got nothin' ter worry 'bout from that kid. Shucks, he don't know a fishin' hole from a hole in the ground."

"Heh, well, ever since they done change the rules fer winnin' to size insteada the number o' fish ya caught, it's been tougher by a sight. My hole here, she's good'n fruitful, but the fish ain't so much on size. Darn tree-huggin' hippies, pushin' these laws on us that don't make no sense a'tall! It ain't the fishin' what's killin' the fish, but the city folk what come campin' an' swimmin' where they ain't go no business goin'."

"Yeh, well, there ain't no accountin' fer them city folk. I'd best be on gettin' back my side o' the fence afore milkin' time er Bessie'll have my hide. Best o' luck to yer, BillyBob, on bringin' home that Gold Fish fer Molly ter hang on yer wall!"

by Faith 10:56 PM

Jon says:
          bronze fish?

by Sharon 10:04 AM

How did I come to this strange place? I don't understand how this moment, this place connects to my last memory: at home, sharing bits of my breakfast with my dog. Now my dog and my house are gone, and I am surrounded by crazy old people, muttering to themselves and shuffling back and forth down the short hallway.

What can I remember? For the last few days, I have been sharing a room with another woman, Violet, I think is her name, though she is hardly a roommate. She spends her day in bed, crying out for her mother -- her daughter visited this morning, and told me that Violet's mother has been dead for over 25 years. The daughter looked haggard, with an ill-tempered teenager in tow and a mother who did not recognize her own child.

That reminds me! My own daughter called me today, or at least I think it was today. It was a confusing conversation. I tried to ask her about my home, but she just said that everything was going to be okay. So cryptic! She seemed frustrated at me for not knowing what she meant, so I stopped asking.

This place is so small! I want to go back to my home. There is no room to stretch my legs! I remember walking down to the lake with my dog, getting the mail, tending to my plants... but they won't even let me go outside here. I keep asking, but they always tell me that I can go out when my children visit. Don't they know how far away my children live? But I try: when my kids call me, I ask if they will come and take me out. This seems to make them sad, but I have to keep asking or I won't ever get any exercise! Already my ankles are swelling. A girl's got to keep her figure, so I ask my children to come and get me out of this place. Just take me home, I ask. I know that better days will come, if only I can get home to my house and my dog and my life and my mind again.

by Faith 12:03 AM

{Monday, June 23, 2003}

I wasn't planning on posting today. I really just wanted to post a topic and see what grew out of it. I had no idea a thought of my own would spring forth.

As long as y'all don't mind hearing it, I don't mind saying that the last two months of my life have reacquainted me with misery. I wasn't in the running for the award for happiest of campers to move cross-country.

I left a wonderful job that challenged me and gave me the opportunity to challenge and nurture others. I left the first community that I felt I was part of...part of in a "Little House on the Prairie" way. There are many other "I left...." phrases I can say, but in short, I left the first life that I had created for myself by myself. I was happy to be who I was. I was happy.

The expectation was that I would be able to pick up life where I left off in an environment with nicer people and cleaner air. Two months later, I am still jobless after being promised a position with my company, I am allergic to something in this clean air, for three weeks I found myself very alone and fairly unable to get around (I didn't need the drivers license in NYC), and yesterday I found myself cleaning up after an incredibly sick dog...three times!

Of course my pain isn't greater than most...perhaps not even the greatest pain I've endured...but I was expecting better days in Portland. Was I wrong to expect that?

Hmmm, either this is going to spiral downward into more feeling sorry for myself and evoking pity, or there will be a complete 180 and you'll have to endure Pollyanna-ish glurge. Either way, I fully admit to preaching a bit...I need to get it out.

Today wasn't exceptional by any stretch. I heard nothing from the company that promised be job security in this move. There are stains in my carpet that aren't coming out. Nothing major has changed, but the simpler pleasures in life are coming out and screaming at me.

I have lost ten pounds because of the lifestyle forced upon me by not being auto-mobile. My dog has shown visible signs of feeling better including being euphemistically easier to clean up after.

I roasted and ate an entire head of garlic today. I threw it in the oven, seasoned it with thyme, rosemary and butter. Then I sat next to my oven for an hour with a GAMES magazine just doing crosswords and enjoying the smell of my house. Then I pulled it out, spread the garlic itself onto some potato bread and just ate it. Hopefully smiling and purring and thinking about words will do well to keep those ten pounds off in the face of this meal. Right now I don't care. I am smiling, purring, thinking about words and eating garlic.

The future will hold better days. The future will hold worse days. And I wasn't wrong in expecting better days in Portland, Oregon...I would only be wrong if looking back I thought I didn't get what I expected.

by Bryan 11:28 PM

A day outside leaves me tired, refreshed, envigorated, happy. There is none of the familiar need to vomit.

40 hours to a work week, occasionally 45. When we're up against a deadline, we all pitch in together and stretch it to 50, but there are comp days and pizza and maybe even time-and-a-half.

A whole week can go by without an eye twitch, a stomach cramp, that pulsing vein at my temple, or the ache and metallic taste that means I've spent the whole night grinding my teeth.

I can think, and it's not about ways to hide the body.

In my evenings, I go for pleasant walks in the cool twilight. I play music. I write poetry. I make calligraphy. I climb rock faces.

I have enough energy. I own my cravings. My skin is clear. I like my body.

I am working towards better days. A plan starts with a vision. I am climbing up and out.

by Sharon 5:44 PM

It’s interesting how we define better times and quality of life. The heydays of crime fighting had gone the way of trustworthy politicians and unbiased news coverage to be replaced with a gritty cynicism that caused some people to doubt everything they heard while others chose to embrace whatever rhetoric was fed them and smile in response to each new war and corporate scandal.

The Champion gazed out over the tattered remnants of the city’s innocence; a city bitter and hardened by decades of corrupt politicians, pointless wars, corporate wrongdoings and, most recently what the media had dubbed The Meta Armageddon. This was not the city in which he had started his career as a superhero. Back then the boundaries between right and wrong were clearly defined and as near to black and white as one could hope for. But not now. In 2009 Tomorrow Man had a falling out with the rest of The Protectors concerning the war in China and, it seemed, ignored a well televised threat from Sinister, one of their arch enemies. Sinister, who had to that point limited himself to bank and jewelry store crimes, bought a nuke from the Fear Factor and, whether intentionally or not, destroyed most of St. Louis, killing thousands. In the middle of the media circus that followed The Tomorrow Man broke into the maximum security prison holding Sinister and murdered him outright. Cameras rolling the event was delivered into living rooms across the nation and beyond.

From there things changed. Not that the crime fighting community hadn’t expected such a thing to happen sooner or later – everyone knew it would sooner or later – but it brought about the end of the golden age of hero vs. villain. There had always been an understanding, rules, albeit unwritten, that were followed and it was rare that anyone died. Now all that had changed. No one assumed the supervillian would turn over his or her hostages when demands were met, target superhero headquarters or leave obvious clues to their diabolic plots.

And the superhero community responded in kind. More and more “heroes” chose lethal force as their first option, not last. The distinction between hero and villain became blurred as more and more lives were lost to the struggle, that had at one time been, between good and evil. Times had changed.

by Shawn 4:57 PM

I am home. We left Round Rock two weeks ago today. The Sunday night before, we spent loading and reloading and then reloading again the moving van. We had some wonderful short time helpers, and our fabulous friend Sean M, who arrived around noon, coordinated the packing of the truck. I am a good Donkey-girl, but I really do not pack well. I can fill a dishwasher with a bowl and two spoons. I started loading boxes at 9:00 am and we locked up the trailer at 8:30 that night. I was so exhausted that I just took the kids to a hotel in Round Rock that night. Monday morning we hit the road.

We traveled across west Texas at eighty miles an hour and that was not fast enough (people were passing us like we were standing still). I use to believe that Garry Indiana was the ugliest town in the USA. But then I drove through Lubbock. Lubbock, say that out loud, what does it call to mind? Well amplify the negative in that vision three-fold, and you get the idea. Now I know I was on a major thoroughfare, and that is not always the best view, but the landscape is without contour, so I could pretty much see the whole town. Not that pleasant. We spent Monday night in Plainview Texas (as compared to what?). Tuesday we drove up through the panhandle of Oklahoma. I wanted to make a big deal of leaving Texas, pointed it out to the kids. The two year old, asleep, was unimpressed; my eight-year observed, “What’s the difference.” He had a point. When we drove across the border into SE Colorado he made that same point again. We stopped for the night South of Denver as there were killer thunderstorms coming through the Rockies. Then the landscape began to change.

We went through the passes west of Denver, and I have to say they were pretty damned impressive. I even got my kids to stop watching videos for a time so we could marvel at the drama Mother Earth laid before us. Taking a cue from my sweetie who had passed through these very same mountains two months before, I stopped and said a little prayer at the Continental divide. My two-year old just kept repeating over and over: ”Too high up Mama too high up”. I was amused by the names of things along our way: Everything was hilltop something or other. We came through the Rockies and spent a bit of time in Utah, We missed hitting the Dinosaur monument, because it was late in the afternoon, and pouring down rain, but we got to stay at a really tacky motel with a dinosaur garden next door and that was pretty fun.

Then it was across Idaho and Oregon. I ended up driving about twelve hours in one day, because the town in Central OR where I had planned to stop was completely booked (there was a rodeo a slow-pitch softball tournament, a Garrison Keillor performance, and two graduations within a 30mile radius) We took a side trip to Eugene, where we used to live, and stayed with friends and family for a couple of days. We were very anxious to see my husband, as it had been two months since we had been together, but our truck got held up in Salt Lake City. Father’s day we made it into Washington State, and stayed In Vancouver just north of Portland OR. We drove the last three hours on a serious emotional high. All and all we drove about 45 hours. I was the only driver, which was exhausting, but my kids helped me along. They were no less than inspiring. I don’t know how many of you have kids, but for a two year old and an eight year old to endure that length of car ride with a frazzled driver without a single complaint is quite remarkable.

Last Monday afternoon we got home. It was so lovely to be together again. We have come through a difficult time, and have emerged as a stronger family unit. The separation was difficult, but it allowed us to reevaluate our lives together and apart. We have all gained some perspective and are better for it. We spent our first weekend in our new home like a family on vacation. We hit a number of tourist spots (the Space needle really is sooo cool) and celebrated the Solstice by building a couple of fires (one in the fireplace, one in front of it). Unfortunately we missed the parade. There will be future Solstice parades though, Festivals of special events, feasts of love and laughter, carnivals of beauty and joy. Better days ahead.

by mews 10:43 AM

better days

by Bryan 3:21 AM

Three questions:

“Isn’t that a little heavy for a party game? “

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, ya know, come on, I was thinking of something more along the lines of ‘ who was your favorite: Mary Anne or Ginger?”

“That’s base.”

“What, it’s a legitimate question.”

“Legitimate for a bunch of guys in their late 30s.”

“Yeah, and your point being?”

“Three questions, honest answers and of whom. It’ll get people thinking. It’ll spark lively conversation.”

“Look, I’m not saying it’s not a cool topic to discuss or anything, it’s just that people are going to try to come up with deep questions to ask of philosophers, scientists and religious leaders.”


“So, it’ll become a contest to come up with questions to impress each other, not real questions.”

“’ Real questions’ huh? Like what?”

“Like, asking the professor why he never nailed Mary Anne or Ginger.”


“Who’s stronger: Superman or Hulk. Um, better captain: Kirk or Picard; Ford or Chevy; Wonder Woman or Bionic Woman; Mr. T or the Fonz, Coke or Pepsi, Star wars or Star Trek, Beatles or The Stones, uh, Conan or Legolas. You know, questions like that.”

“You’re not expecting a bunch or rocket scientists tonight are you?”

“So tell me, what three questions would YOU ask, and of who?”



by Shawn 12:02 AM

Surreal Tourism

The Platypus stretched and yawned and shook his pretty wings, blowing the sawdust from his riflescope as he sighed at wonder for the lovely, blind and golden children on stage; Berlin had the most divine ballet season this year.

Falling forward slightly he passed a Ford Mustang with three Texans and a fallen angel on their way to Paris in hopes of finding the last, big thing. A man wearing a full-length rubber suit of president Nixon and smoking a cigar walked past singing all the best lines from Neitzsche while three legged dogs dressed in mirrors and gunny sacks danced by in hopes of a better life inside of the ice cream cone.

Just then a boat came sailing by on its way to Istanbul and the platypus hopped on knowing it was his emerald dream come true and meant for him, but not you. Donning his best smoking jacket and pearls given by Steve McQueen, he laughed at the antics of the little blue fish leading the way. Constantinople -as he insisted on calling it in spite of his mother’s last wishes- had the loveliest gardens and he wanted postcards of such for his collection. He’d send them to Alan.

Having a month to spare and not expected back soon, if at all, he opted for a stay over in Bermuda and came ashore just south of the fridge with its swooping black song and floopy mattress – he slid in just like a silent movie star hoping to score one big gig and poster of William S. Burroughs – beat and beat from the travels, he knew the names and knew the moves. He was soft spoken and ready for sightseeing.

by Shawn 12:01 AM

{Sunday, June 22, 2003}

I held the source
alone in my hand
all mine
I knew its dimensions.
I knew its curves.
I knew its moods,
my lover.
you called me.
Return on investment,
three for the price
of you,
this is how you choose
to motivate me.
Turn on your investment.
And leave me
to arrange the logistics
of your affair.
There's something to be said
for experience,
for fidelity
and solidarity,
for faithfulness,
and a single point of ownership.
So many hands,
you'll see what you catch
from your octopus lover,
and you'll still blame me
for failing to see
all the places it will break.
I persist.
An off-hand fuck
is still a fuck.
Another Monday,
I need a cup of coffee.

by Sharon 11:59 PM

"That'll be $25.13," I replied. The math geeks were in here for their weekly rant about probability matrices and whatever else their little digital minds can ponder. As soon as I named the price, they started snickering and making math jokes.

"Is this a coffeehouse or a sushi bar?"

"Maybe there's a hockey game here later."

The second comment only drew out strange looks. The new guy trying to fit in and learning that sports references just don't go over in this crowd.

I didn't get the joke. I never get the joke. OK once they all roared when they found a particular brand of muffin that was $1.44...but what they find funny and what I find funny are not the same funny. Frustrated, I decided to level the playing field by giving them a taste of what I found funny.

So I shot them.

Later, someone explained the joke to me. I guess I was wrong. That was kinda funny.

by Bryan 4:49 PM

Octopi and coffee

by Shawn 11:03 AM

{Saturday, June 21, 2003}

Taking a cue from Remi (even though he never seems to post here anymore):
"Why are we people?"
Why indeed?

by Fred 9:41 AM

{Friday, June 20, 2003}

As with so many things, I say: Read the book, yo.

by Sharon 11:59 PM

To Sharon: What?

To God: Why?

To my mother: Why not?

by Faith 8:54 PM

To Albert Einstein: You are most powerful and influential person I have ever heard of that did not lose his childlike love of the world around him. How did you do that?

To Emily Dickinson: I have felt emotions from your written words that were stronger than emotions I have known from many loved ones and family members. How did you do that?

To myself: These are the two questions that you have been striving to find the answers to for most of your adult life. If the answers were just handed to you, would you know what to do with them?

by Bryan 8:38 PM

I couldn't.

by Sharon 4:52 PM

Three questions:
Why are we here?
Where are we going?
How will we know it when we get there?
And I think I'd ask almost anyone who could point me in the right direction.

I might also toss in "are we alone in the universe?" since, yes or no, the answer could be incredibly important. But mostly, I think, what I'm really wondering -- and I guess I'll put the question to each of you -- is "it okay if I couldn't get ten minutes out of this topic?"

by Fred 3:47 PM

First, to the organizer of the hit: What really happened surrounding JFK's assassination?

Second, to God: What caused the extinction of the dinosaurs? He'd probably say something smart like "Me," Mr. Omniscientliteralpants.

Finally, and probably most importantly, as this is the one that causes me the most consternation: Mr. Gaiman, in American Gods, what is the name of that one god that's kind of, um... There was a guy... At least, I think it was a guy. Who sort of did, um, stuff? But maybe there wasn't really anyone there, or, uh, where? What was I talking about?

by Sharon 1:34 PM

Stealing a Table Topics question from yesterday's Toast of Dell meeting:
If you could be guaranteed honest answers, what three questions would you ask, and whom would you ask them of?

by Sharon 12:04 PM

{Thursday, June 19, 2003}

When you only have 24 hours, everything about Paris is surreal. But these ladies take the cake.

We were just aimlessly wandering, with a vague notion that one might find big, pretty, old buildings somewhere up ahead. Minding our own business one moment, four Japanese women surrounding us the next! Blocking our path, they insistently demanded, "You speaka Engliss?" Their excitement was as evident as the answer. Pulling out a small, photocopied Louis Vuitton catalog, they begin their chant: "Alma! Alma! You get Alma! TWO Alma!" In broken English, they begged us to visit the Louis Vuitton flagship store -- just down the block -- and do their shopping for them.

Why? Yes, that was our question, too. It seems that this icon of haute couture limits its customers to two purchases per group, not per person. These ladies had already exceeded their group quota, and needed to recruit some outside assistance to continue their shopping spree.

Their solution, of course, was to accost us, thrust $2000 cash into our hands, and hustle us off toward the store. Just what you would do, right? We searched and searched for a scam in this, but figured that even had we something to steal it was worth far less than the $1000 cash we received in return. Bemused and curious, we decided to go shopping.

Thanks to the group-purchase limit, we needed to pretend not to know each other if we were to successfully obtain one item for each woman. Negotiating the confusing lines and obnoxious sales staff entirely in French, we learned too late that passports were required for the transaction. This presented quite a quandary: I carried both passports.

What happened next can only be truly appreciated if you happen to be a fan of Alias. Urgent eye contact. Sign language subtly gestured toward a mirror across the room. An elegantly executed brush-pass en route to the cashier. Mission successful!

After all the drama and intrigue, my partner-in-shopping was denied access to the elite club of Louis Vuitton Suckers: apparently the sales associate deemed her either too young or too anti-elitist to accept her cash. "Credit only," she lied in French, but "my" cash was welcome tender.

To the Japanese ladies, our excursion was a moderate success. We, however, had just lived the adventure of a lifetime: walking in a world where dropping $600 for a small, ugly handbag is a casual transaction, and desperate tourists hand wads of cash to trustworthy New Yorkers.

by Faith 8:27 PM

The outer doors to the building, Tad saw, had started to melt again, like chocolate left too long in the afternoon sun, or like a clock in one of those paintings by Dali -- which, Tad supposed, was where the trouble had after all first started. It had been a mistake to let visitors back in the museum gallery before the problem had been properly studied and contained. The curator hadn't even been able to estimate the damage that had been caused, and the upper levels were still a maze of twists and turns ever since that idiot Wilkins had carted one of the Escher prints through them. They'd found the carcass of a dead unicorn in the basement, a floating tiger in the fountain out back, and there was still that tendency the building had of melting, or rearranging itself as if on whim.

Tad wasn't sure why the Phenomenon (as he had been instructed to call it) had been confined almost exclusively to the Surrealists. Certainly the museum had its fair share of them -- and the retrospective on Max Ernst had proved particularly quarrelsome this past week -- but there were just as many other prints and paintings and sculpture that displayed no odd properties whatsoever, much less the ability to impart those properties on the world around them, to alter reality, to melt goddamn buildings.

Tad didn't know much about art, but he knew he didn't like this one bit.

by Fred 4:04 PM

It seemed like an easy way to make some quick scratch.

I have really wicked nightmares--heart-pounding, paralyzing, lingering nightmares. Like the time I had to break my own wrist--and I could feel my hand crunching like chicken bones in the disposal--to free myself from handcuffs that trapped me in a tank that had already filled with enough black sludge that I had to stand on my toes to keep my nose out of it, and then the sludge turned into maroon millipedes that started climbing up my nose and into my ears and through my hair. --Where was I?

Oh, yeah, nightmares.

And then there are the sex dreams, which are just as vivid and sometimes just as surreal. Like a slide projector, the face above you will flip through your 6th grade math teacher, that check-out clerk with the easy smile, the co-worker who had previously seemed good only for PowerPoint presentations. But it's always good, and it's always hot.

So I figured I had a commodity, here. You're familiar with the Direct Surveillance machines the police use, of course. To my mind, if they can use those to violate our civil liberties in the name of extracting confessions, then surely I could hotwire one to offer the curious a tour through my nocturnal excursions.

It was easy enough to get my hands on a dream catcher. I know a guy on the inside. All it took was promising him 60% of the take. Bastard. I'm doing all the work. Anyway.

The thing I didn't realize was that they would linger. These tourists, even after they're unhooked, are still drifting around in my head. They show up in my dreams. And I think I wouldn't mind so much, if they weren't offering critiques.

by Sharon 2:04 PM

surreal tourism

by Faith 10:14 AM

{Wednesday, June 18, 2003}


Geez, I thought, It's like these politicians think they can get a special exception for anything these days.

"You're kidding, right?" I fixed her with my best incredulous stare over the top of my (piracy-free, thankyouverymuch) 12" iBook.

Sharon spoke over her shoulder to me. "Nope. It's totally true." She sighed in exasperation. "Don't you ever read 600 Seconds any more?"

"You know I'm busy with this writing." I grinned wide. "Ready for a surprise, though? I'd support it on one condition." Sharon quirked an eyebrow (I think she practices in her monitor mirror at work.) "I'd support it if we could also destroy politicians who are suspected of illegal use of governmental resources for personal gain." A stocatto laugh burst from Sharon's throat. "No, I'm serious. I'm especially serious about 'theft of office.' If Senator what's-his-name is so gung-ho about music copyright, which only really protects the interests of the bourgeois owners of the dominant media companies, then even stiffer penalties should be enacted for the misuse of the property of the state, the dominant cost of which is borne by the proletariat."

Sharon fixed me with an odd stare. "Uh, Jon. Have you been reading anything unusual today?"

"Yeah." I shrugged. "Vaughn left a copy of Marx for Beginners in his cube when he quit. It found its way into my cube today. I read most of it between calls. But even so," I pointed a finger, "I still have problems with an illegitimate administration sending our military men into a vendetta war for oil resources."

Note: This conversation did not occur. It is entirely fictional.

by jal 7:42 PM


Dear mom,

I know you want me to write everyday in light of what's happened recently here in the states, but today was pretty standard.

I started the way I start every morning...walked the dog. Bear got so excited when he saw me go for the leash and jacket (dogs love routine). Grabbed a plastic bag and we were out the door. Can't be too careful ya know...the Johnson's dog next door was put down because they didn't curb it. Like I told you before, the rule is simple: If it's illegal, it's destroyed.

I took the train into the city. They installed wrecking balls over the parking meters and I'm just not willing to risk it. Five minutes longer in the bank or the post office than expected and I'll have no choice but to take the train. Which reminds me, on my way to the post office I saw someone who had his leg caught in one of those retractable bear traps in the street. Poor dumb tourist. He became the main attraction too. Another group of tourists snapped away as he tried to free himself. Good thing for them that "Good Samaritan" law never passed.

Ya know, this law really isn't as bad as you've heard. Having two broken hands is a much better deterrent for assault than community service ever was. Potential intellectual property thieves think twice about the prospect of never being able to think again. I'm sure I don't need to mention that sex crimes have been completely eliminated. You don't need to worry about me out here mom. The only downfall is that I can't really send you any more music over the net...too risky these days.

I hope all is well with you.

See ya soon,


by Bryan 4:23 PM

Evolve or die.

A business model that hinges on stamping your feet and insisting that people buy your product is doomed. It does not matter what is "right." It does not even matter what is "legal." If you want to survive, you must assess the situation as it actually exists, not as you'd like to mandate that it exist, and determine how you can compete in that scenario.

Record labels want to hurt people who share music.

You can bandy about words like "piracy" and "theft," "copyright" and "intellectual property," but it is simply:
Record labels want to hurt people who share music.
There are long-ranging arguments about how music and copyrights and fair use ought to be. I submit that those arguments are moot. It is a waste of the media companies' time and resources to pursue legislative or technological impediments to sharing music. The far more effective strategy—and, you'll have to excuse me here, but the far more American strategy—is to find a free-market solution.

Compete, you assholes.

You want me to pay for music? Then offer me services and features that exceed those I could get for free.

I buy albums I like, because I want artists to have the means to continue making their art. I dollar-vote. I am a very powerful member of this society: I am a consumer. If the record companies want to survive, they should view me as an elusive prize to be wooed, not an antagonist to be vanquished.

by Sharon 1:16 PM

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) indicated that this remote destruction would be achieved largely through a targeting system similar to that used by the supercomputer in Superman III, which he declared "the best and coolest movie of all time, ever."

Many of Hatch's fellow senators, including several prominent Republicans, have questioned his intention to construct such a targeting system. It could, they claim, conceivably cost the American taxpayers billions of dollars, while at the same time concentrating an unprecedented amount of power in the hands of select few multinational media conglomerates.

"Also," says an anonymous aide in Hatch's Washington, D.C., office, "most everyone else agrees that Superman III pretty much sucks."

Yet Hatch has long maintained his devotion to the film. In 1999, when he told Utah Republicans they should be proud "we don't have the gays and lesbians with us", he also added that what they did have was "the wonder and majesty that is Superman III." Both his office and home in Salt Lake City are plastered with memorabilia and posters -- "Got that one on eBay," he says with a grin -- and he can quote the film almost verbatim. Which he will do often, sometimes affecting different voices and mannerisms, whether asked to do so or not.

"Frankly, we're all a little worried," says wife Elaine. Like most everyone, she believes Hatch saw the film in 1983 when it first premiered but thought very little of it at the time. "I mean, Richard Pryor in a Superman movie?" she adds. "Please. But then a few years ago, one of our grandkids rented the video with him, and he's been pretty crazy for it ever since. It's a little unnatural, to be honest. We're just happy it wasn't Superman IV."

Some Senate Democrats claim that Hatch's comments are merely a means of stalling the internet piracy debate and inflaming controversy. The proposed supercomputer would, they say, prove as impractical as it would be expensive.

"I think he's just pissed that nobody's downloading his music," says Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA). "This whole Superman III thing is just a font. At least...god, I hope it's just a front..."

by Fred 1:00 PM

Orinn Hatch sits in a darkened room. A TRS-80 chugs before him on the desk. Beside it sits a sleek silver laptop that exudes power and skill and, much to Hatch's chagrin, sex. An aide stands by, holding a data CD. Between the two machines is a bright red, candy-like button.
"Sir, are you sure this is right?"
"Shut up, boy! We can't have people violating copyrights. Not in America. Not on My watch. Hand me the disc."
"But sir..." He hands it over. Hatch opens the drive on the side of the laptop and slides in the CD. He inserts the jack on a cable from the TRS-80 into the laptop, and, inexpertly waggles the mouse until the pointer lands on an icon: Kazaa.
"Sir, this isn't right. It's just so... mean."
"I said shut up, boy."
He pulls up a list of users currently logged on, and selects seven at random. He pressed slowly on the large, red button. The TRS-80 strains, fans push harder, and Hatch giggles under his breath.
They are now running at pre-8086 speeds.
The giggle turns into vile laughter, deep in the throat of an evil, evil man.

by MisterNihil 12:06 PM

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Tuesday he favors developing new technology to remotely destroy the computers of people who illegally download music from the Internet.
Washington Post

by Sharon 7:22 AM

"When you're good at writing," said Bill, "Everything's your antithesis."
I had no idea what he meant until I wrote for the first time. It wasn't a rush. It wasn't a thrill. It wasn't even fun. It was Work. There's something wrong with me, I think, that I tend to despise work in all its wretched forms. Writing I especially hated. Holding an eternally blunt pencil, trying to duplicate chalk lines onto thin, lined paper. No composition, just the drudgery that is proper writing. Hateful, spiteful writing.
And later, inspiration in the form of a pen. That, coupled with neigh-magical mechanical pencils (I've always thought that "click pencils" didn't do them justice. Mechanical. It sounds important.) That lead to a more important discovery: typing. No stokes, no inexactness. Just press the right buttons in the right sequence, just code for the word the way you want it to be, and you can get them out with the speed of thought. That's an important speed in writing. Any slower, and your brain drags. Any faster and you get lost. Just fingers, just code, just perfect.
And that's when one can learn composition: when thoughts can flow.
Yes, good, Octopus and Walrus, but why do we care. This brings in the antithesis. Story isn't Story without a villain. It isn't proper unless you can know that there are sides. Not necessarily which side you're on, but that there are sides and that you could pick one.
Bill probably rambled on about other things. Hell, he probably didn't actually say that about the antithesis thing. No, come to think of it, he didn't. Bill was evil. He kicked kittens. I don't kick kittens.
And that's how it has to start.

by MisterNihil 12:06 AM

{Tuesday, June 17, 2003}

[The antithesis of not writing, which is what I would have done otherwise, is writing. That's about as close as I come to today's, or any, topic.]

He did not know what he was going to write, so he just started writing, putting one word after the other in no particular order other than that suggested by the words before them. He had no sense of a story unfolding, no vision he wished to impart. But he continued, though his hand had grown quite tired and his penmanship quite poor, and he kept putting words on the paper. He thought, if he continued, eventually something other than an ache in his fingers might come of it.

He wasn't entirely convinced of this; he did not, after all, doubt his ability to fill a page with meaningless drivel, nor the possibility that his hand might seize up entirely in the process, leaving him with nothing to show for it but a few too many ill-conceived words and perhaps one or two uncomfortable callouses.

Already, though, he had filled a page. This owed more, perhaps, to his poor penmanship and the size of the letters he'd scrawled on the page than to his power with language or the validity of this experiment. His hand still ached, and, although he had liked one or two of the words he'd jotted down (here he turned the page over to read a few) and even the order in which he'd jotted, he was less impressed with what he had written as a whole. It was not incoherent, of that much he was fairly certain. There was a certain semblance of a plot -- a man, much like himself, unsure of what to write and writing anyway -- but it was directionless, was of no particular interest, and had not, thus far, led to much more than two pages of scrawled inkings and that ache in his hand.

The ache, however, seemed to have lessened, now that he considered it. It was still there -- and, heaven knows, his penmanship hadn't improved -- but he could ignore it if he wanted and continue. He paused a moment to wonder if he should.

So far, the man in his story, such as it was, had done nothing much more than write. And what he'd written had given no real indication of better things to come. He thought, momentarily again, of introducing an outrageous plot device, something unusual, anything interesting. He imagined a flying saucer, a ship of shining chrome, outside his main character's office window. He imagined a voice booming in the heavens in an alien language (represented, perhaps, by his by now almost illegible penmanship), informing the people of Earth that they were to be enslaved aboard the aliens' mothership, so sorry, and would they please prepare themselves for embarkation? Of course, the people of Earth wouldn't be able to speak Zelthanian (for such was the name the man now gave to the creatures), and the message would largely fall on deaf ears. Of course, perhaps the man in the story did understand Zelthanian, and could understand their plans, and knew how to save Earth.

Perhaps. Of course, by then, the cramp in his hand had returned in full force, and he decided to just go home and call it a day, making the Zelthanian invasion pretty much a walk in the park.

by Fred 4:03 PM

"Tell me again--slowly--what happened."

The expression on Mrs. Bieglemeier's face suggested that she didn't think university librarians should have to file police reports. She looked tired.

"I sent Alice, the work-study, down to the stacks with a cart for reshelving," she explained carefully. Her voice quavered. Sgt. McKelly felt sorry for her.

"What was on that cart, ma'am?"

She chewed her lip. Smoke drifted from the wisps of gray hair that had wrestled free of her bun. "I'm not sure. The usual mix of reshelving: Reference, Atlas, Theses..." She trailed off, and her gaze became indistinct.

Sgt. McKelly cleared his throat. "Ah... What time did you report for work today, Mrs. Bieglemeier?" He winced as another fall of undermined masonry crashed to the ground inside the bowels of the library. Mrs. Bieglemeier did not seem to notice.

Her thin, white fingers played over her lips. "Perhaps it wasn't theses..."

The sergeant shifted to his other foot. "Would you like a glass of water? That might settle your nerves."

She blinked at him suddenly. "My nerves are fine." Her voice rang clear. "That explosion erupted from 3 Core South? Yes, of course. Those are the graduate theses. That featherbrain filed an anti-thesis."

The librarian reflected a moment. "Poor girl."

by Sharon 3:50 PM

The worm balked, as worms do, and slunk back to the shadows, momentarily defeated by his
Having wormed and run away, he lived to worm another day.

by MisterNihil 5:06 AM

{Monday, June 16, 2003}

He cut off his nose to spite his face
But his face didn't care so he had it replaced
He carved one of wood, of fine polished teak
But it splintered his sneeze and it started to leak
So he built one of metal and welded each strut,
But then he caught a cold and it rusted shut
So he built one of marble hewn straight from the rock
But it started to chip and it caused quite a shock
So then he baked one of sugar and glued it on tight
And it might've worked had his face not taken a bite

by Fred 5:04 PM

   Nancy needed cash. It was a rare thing, since the proliferation of credit cards and thumb-print-identification was announced completed in 2016. The president had announced a "Death of the checque" day and everyone had either danced or, more likely, gone off to work as usual without realizing anything was happening. Nancy needed cash for that rarest of transactions, the Purchase of Illegal Substance. She was allowed one per year and tomorrow being her birthday, it was the cutoff. They don't roll over, you know. If you don't by your Illegal Substance now, you might not get to again. As Poor Richard said, Buy It Now or it May Not Be Here Tomorrow.
   She walked to the cash machine and read the screen. She typed her SSN, PIN and DLN to access her personal info, and then inserted her thumb into the slot to access her account. The scanning started, and then there was a hissing, ratcheting noise. The word "Overdrawn" appeared on the screen as she felt the silken hiss of the blad pass through the joint of her thumb, taking it cleanly off.
   That animal urge to pull back and howl was still there, but she fought it off until the machine cauterized the stump and released her hand. She'd lost her credit card that same way not three months ago, and now she was sure to lose her Purchase of Illegal Substance. Vexed, she stumped back to the car and stabbed the auto-nav system. Back home until tomorrow, when she'd have to come back to argue for her thumb. Sure, she'd signed the agreement, but it was still her thumb really, right? They couldn't really repossess body parts for non-payment, right? She'd have to go check her contract.

by MisterNihil 2:39 PM

Since I'm scurrying to meet one:
cut off

by Sharon 1:19 PM

{Sunday, June 15, 2003}

(for yesterday's topic)

They say you can’t go home again. In the case of Dr. Clifford Sanchez, of Platsburgh, Pennsylvania, that was certainly true. Everyone finds it strange returning to their hometown after life out in the rest of the world, hopefully so anyhow, your values change; your worldview evolves, as does your perspective on yourself and those you grew up with. The town may look much the same; same gas stations, grocery stores, churches, town square and even colorful local characters, and yet, things are not quite how they were, not quite the same as you remember them. For Clifford, however, home was no longer home, not simply for him but for the other 6 billion people of the planet Earth as well. And it was all his doing.

Dr. Sanchez, an anthropologist researching the very origins of mankind, spent most of his 23 year career exploring the most likely of places, the cradle of civilization: Africa, and was even able to trace early man and his evolutionary cousins to a point of some 25,000 years earlier than was previously accepted. But then, nothing. The path of early man seemed stop dead. No missing link; no expected half-step between Australopithecus and what was destined to become the accepted ruler of the big blue center of the universe called Earth. It was then he found the space ship.

This was no vague sighting, dubious evidence subject to opinion and conjecture, this…was…a…spaceship buried in the jungles of central Africa. Further more there was indisputable proof that the earliest of mankind owed its origin to this traveler from some distant star. We, collectively, were simply visitors here; marooned victims of a ship wreck millions of years earlier.

Of course the religious right immediately denied the authenticity of this craft, even in the face of overwhelming proof. Society was in an uproar as all governments and leaders thereof were faced with taking a stand on this issue as politicians and theologians argued on 24-hour a day news shows. And yet, just beyond philosophical earshot of all of the chaos and panic of the issue surrounding alien life, our origins, the impact on religions, governments fighting for ownership of the ship, calls for world unification, wars and general upheaval there was a murmur: Home was no longer home. And never would be again.

by Shawn 3:08 PM

{Friday, June 13, 2003}

Since I don't know if Margaret's back online yet, here's one of her topics:
going home

by Fred 10:32 AM

{Thursday, June 12, 2003}

"We're putting the band back together." I say this urgently to someone. From there, it becomes a plan. Getting two of the members requires breaking into their house.

While they are out, Jon and I enter. In the kitchen, we stop to prepare some food--soy taco-filling wrapped in burrito tortillas. I can see the driveway from the kitchen window, on the second floor. We are still folding our wraps when the marks pull their red convertible into the garage. We scarf down a few hasty bites, too hungry to make sensible decisions, then Jon stuffs the burritos into ziplock bags, and I brush the crumbs off the counter top.

As we climb into the closet, I become sure that we will be discovered. I can hear them climbing the stairs.

by Sharon 5:12 PM

There's no art at work.
There's no singing,
       no laughing
       no happiness
       just work.
There's no joy to being here
when just last night, I dremt
of doing
not being
of feeling
not talking
of enjoying
not selling.
But work, though, is where I am;
and there's no art at work.

by MisterNihil 12:45 PM

last night, I dreamt of a place that doesn't exist,
of people who do not have names,
of words that cannot be spoken,
of doors that cannot be opened,
cannot be locked, cannot be closed,
cannot be numbered, cannot be seen.
last night I dreamt of a river run dry:
thick dusty pebbles, dead fish, cracked earth underfoot.
last night I dreamt of a whispering wind,
of secrets uttered in the flutter of birds:
a language of feather, of flight, of sheltering cloud.
last night I dreamt of a man with no face,
no eyes or mouth to call out his name,
hung from a tree, rope 'round his neck,
blown by the breeze, swayed back and forth.
last night I dreamt of a splintered bone
half-submerged in the desert sand,
a broken branch, a dead man's arm,
buried without purpose, lost and unlamented.
last night I dreamt of a plume of smoke,
an ocean of ash, a sky set afire.
last night I dreamt of a distant voice
that spoke of things I did not understand,
that asked me questions I could not answer,
that told me things I now forget.
last night I dreamt
and then awoke.

by Fred 10:29 AM

last night, I dreamt

by Sharon 9:32 AM

{Wednesday, June 11, 2003}

Falling and
falling and
falling and
falling and

by Fred 3:48 PM


by MisterNihil 10:30 AM

{Tuesday, June 10, 2003}

first wave

by Fred 2:00 PM

{Monday, June 09, 2003}

He lopped off her head,
And with a thlop she was dead,
But then her head dropped to the bed
And plopped on the spread
Where it stopped and it bled,
And the spread sopped up the spread
Til each thread was mopped red.
"Quick, stop it!" she said,
From her spot on the bed
Where she wasn't quite dead,
But was caught in the clot
Of a spread shot through with red
From the top of her head
To the bed spread's spotted thread.
"You forgot that we got this spread when we wed
In a mom 'n' pop shop just across from Club Med?
You can opt to lop off or chop through my head,
But please stop to mop up the dread spread of spread red."

by Fred 7:28 PM

(phone ring)
"Hello, Heissmail customer service."
"Hi, I'm having a problem logging in."
"Is your account current?
"Yes, I believe so."
"And what is that account?"
"It's Bob2068409@heissmail."
"And when you log in with that?"
"Well that's just it. I can't. It keeps asking me for a password."
"I don't remember ever having had a password before. I don't remember even having to set on to create the account."
"Well sir, you must have set one to create the account."
"No, I distinctly don't remember setting an account."
"Sir, have you ever clicked anywhere on the page besides the 'log on' button?"
"Yes, and I wanted to complain about that as well. Your 'Forget password' button is broken. The link doesn't do anything."
"Did you, perhaps, click on it several times?"
"Ahh. Well sir, welcome to the world of our 'Beautiful Execution' project, designed to make the average person's web experience hundreds of times better. By using simple 'reverse input' technology, already found on most commercial mouses manufactured after 1996, we are now able to customize your web surfing experience, and as an added bonus, you have perhaps noticed that the site is now ad free!"
"Well, I did notice..."
"Is there anything else I can help you with sir?"
"How do I log on?"
"Were you drinking a Coca-Cola-brand-registered-and-wholly-owned beverage?"
"Um, no, but I've been craving a cocacolabrandregisteredandwhollyownedbeverage lately."
"Try logging in again, this time with a Coke and a Smile (tm)."
"Um, thanks..."
"Thank you sir, and remember, Heissmail is your friend. Have a wonderful day. In fact, hang on a second... (keys clatter) Oh, I'm sorry sir, I meant to say, have an average day and go to bed a little worried and frustrated, and have unsatisfying sex with your wife using only a Trojan (tm) brand latex pregnancy prevention device."
"Yeah, I'll do that..."

by MisterNihil 5:41 PM

Taking a cue from Fred...

The gymnastic flip
on the gymnastic equip-
ment was such a sight
to behold.

The audience stared;
the competitors glared;
the judges reached right
for the gold.

Never had they seen
a parallel bars routine
executed with such beaut-
y and knack.

But how could they know
this magnificent show
was due to the newt
wriggling down her back?

by Sharon 5:15 PM

A beautiful execution

Even those who stood outside protesting capital punishment had to admit it was indeed a beautiful execution.

In 2017 the United States finally gave up on the notion of executions having any value as a deterrent and admitted that they were a way for society to act on a deep-seated, passive aggressive, need to extract revenge on a faceless enemy that was guilty of everything from crime to traffic congestion, political corruption, unemployment, and any and all other woes of mankind. Once this was out of the way the government realized that the ancient Romans were certainly on to something and that, not only could the unwashed massed be easily detracted by these executions but there was in fact money to be made.

Much akin to the tradition of the prisoner requesting a last meal, he could now request –even design- his or her own execution. Of course many lacked the imagination to come up with anything particularly marketable and so were appointed “execution consultants”. Some however requested spectacular crowd pleasers that became media events delivered into the homes of the nation by all of the major networks.

Such was the case on June 30th, 2033 as one Reginald Follsworth ended his life with such grandeur as to shame the greatest of Vegas acts. A small, silver tear shaped craft shot skyward as a thousand white doves flew to freedom as on the ground the five hundred voices of the Tabernacle Choir sang hallelujah and white tigers roared. Reaching its zenith the craft fired off streamers of metallic ribbons, fireworks and glass globes that floated gently earthward reflecting the noonday sun. Then, the metallic craft exploded in brilliant flames of orange and purple, leaving a trail of sparkling green dust that floated off in the Pacific breeze.

Ratings were at an all time high.

by Shawn 3:58 PM

beautiful execution

Ok, I know this is perhaps lame, and yet, as no one posted to this subject, and I have a piece in mind for it, I thought I'd repost it for today.

by Shawn 12:07 PM

{Sunday, June 08, 2003}

Trying something a little different:
today's topic
Happy Sunday.

by Fred 5:43 AM

{Saturday, June 07, 2003}

beautiful execution

by Sharon 11:11 AM

{Friday, June 06, 2003}

Posted late for "Careful, they bite"

So, I was watching a show in the Discovery channel (or some “smart tv” channel as we collectively refer to the History, Discovery and TLC channels) and someone was suggesting that crop circles may be, what I would call, a supernatural/natural phenomenon. That is, some sort of ionized wind vortex that touches down like a mini tornado, but, is able to leave geometric shapes due to the fact that the vortex owes its origin to a sort of collective, subconscious psychic power of the entire human race.

Sooooo, okey dokie says I. Not being one to poo poo anyone’s theories I in fact rather liked the idea of phenomenon and even supernatural creatures resulting from the collective subconsciousness of the human race. How about nasty, little black creatures spawned from such emotions as greed, jealousy, bigotry and rage. Or, conversely, lovely faerie-like creatures resulting from love, kindness, hope and charity.

So remember, the next time you lose your cool in traffic, make a racial slur or horde money when a family goes without, maybe, just maybe a set of little, black eyes open somewhere far away and teeth, sharp and hungry drip with the spittle of human corruptionJ

by Shawn 10:02 PM

Careful. They bite.

by Sharon 7:22 AM

{Thursday, June 05, 2003}

I need fewer interruptions, but anywho...

by Sharon 7:29 PM

"I don't need it," he thought, walking up the stairs from the parking garage.
"I don't need it," he thought, jumping puddles across the short sprint from the garage to the door of the office.
"I don't need it," he thought, bypassing the door of the office and heading instead for the eatery next door.
"I don't need it," he thought, walking in the door and up to the counter. "I'm not going to get it because I don't need it."
"Two please," he said.

by MisterNihil 10:29 AM


by MisterNihil 3:48 AM

{Wednesday, June 04, 2003}

From the journal of R. Edgar Preuffer, 1907:
June 4: Woke at 7am, ate, went to work at bank, ate, worked more, checked carriage schedule, went home, ate, slept.
June 5: Woke at 7am, ate, went to work at bank, ate, worked more, checked carriage schedule, went home, ate, slept.
June 6: Woke at 7am, ate, went to work at bank, ate, worked more, checked carriage schedule, went home, ate, slept.
June 7: Woke at 7am, ate, went to work at bank, ate, worked more, checked carriage schedule, went home, ate, slept.
June 9: Woke at 7am, ate, went to work at bank, ate, worked more, went home, ate, slept.

From the journal of Miss Cordelia Preuffer, 1907:
June 1: Roger's been acting a little strangely. Didn't take fish for dinner as per usual. He slept well, but I was restless. Instead, I cleaned out the pantry and kitchen.
June 5: Roger still hasn't had a bite of fish since the first. I thought it may be a religious choice but was afraid to ask him. Bumped into Pearl at the market today. Am still not finished with my Dickens reading. Couldn't sleep, so cleaned out dining room, scoured cracks between floorboards.
June 7: Still no fish for Roger. I bought two fine Salmon at market, but he refused, instead eating only greens. The poor man looks sick. No sleep, cleaned whole house, windows, doonknobs, etc.
June 8: Roger took no fish again today, and did not come home from the bank until very late in the evening. I finally got to sleep, but crash outside woke me. Saw fire downtown, but too tired to go outside and see. Cleaned whole house again.
June 9: Roger is back on his fish. I'd be delighted, but am too tired. Slept most of the day and all night. House looks dirty again. Heard Pearl was killed in fire downtown, but could find nothing in Tribune about it.

Item not run in the Chicago Tribune, June 9, 1907 (cut for editorial reasons):
     A masked attacker killed six people yesterday, injuring countless others in the process. The attacker jumped from the top of a building onto the top of a carriage downtown, cutting his way in with "a great wicked knife." The four people in the carriage were brutally attacked with said knife, leaving all of them dead.
     The attacker then set fire to the carriage and pushed the driver off, injuring him gravely in the process. The careening carriage ran into Baxter Brothers' drug store, where it ignited a number of volatile chemicles stored there for apothicary purposes. The ensuing fire damaged two buildings nearby and left BB's decimated.
     No clue to the attackers' identity has been found. Police suspect a man of greater than 6 feet in height, with an extensive prior record. They suspect a very disheveled man, with a very sloppy demeanor must have been the culprit. Detective Longbower of the Chicago Police said "No sane man could have perpetrated this, and the random and destructive nature of the crime points to extreme disorganization."
     Police have taken several vagrants into custody, but no names have yet been released.

by MisterNihil 1:44 PM


by jal 10:50 AM

{Tuesday, June 03, 2003}

Excerpt from the manuscript of Josh Flagstone: Travelers of Now and Then

And things they seem, have become stranger still. In an effort to extricate myself from this most peculiar of situations, I had become aware of another in a like predicament.

At first I thought him a warden of this place and thus held my distance lest I be discovered. I followed him to one, final door, a door which, as it happened, did indeed leave the bizarre and meandering shop only to deposit one into an out of doors that was stranger still. No sooner were we outside then my supposed captor took steps to obfuscate himself among this unexpected landscape. Still, his trail did lead me to the base of what seemed a magnificent and naturally occurring throne made of a moss-covered, decaying log. It was here that I discovered the journal, which he had hastily hidden but moments earlier.

Were this place not queer enough reading the journal has left me quite ill-at ease as I realized that I am both the discovered and originator of said book. This is indeed my journal, meaning, that I have in-fact been following myself through this place, or, more accurately, another version of myself.

It was at this point that my thoughts returned to the letter that had lured me to this place, and on this quest, to begin with. There were, it did say, clues to be discovered and travelers –stranded it would suggest- to be rescued. It did then occur to me that I had stumbled upon the first of the clues and travelers to be found in this place and that indeed they were one and the same. Further, that they were none other than me. Or rather the “other” me whose progress I had shadowed. However, if I were to rescue him I would first need to discover his whereabouts and convince him that the two of us would do well to work together.

Then I was distracted from my revere by a sudden realization: The tree stump throne, as I had named it, which, from afar seemed nothing more than a decaying stump while my fancy formed it into the likeness of a throne, now indeed seemed much more of an intentional construct. It was as if my fancy had changed it from a trick of the eye to a throne, albeit one of stump and moss, but a throne fit for some forest lord nonetheless.

(To be continued)

by Shawn 9:29 PM

Jackson shook his head. From this height, it looked like a doll, broken and discarded on the street. Poor bastard. It was the second suicide from this building in a year. From this window, in fact. It was starting to look like a pattern. Jackson hated patterns.

Back at his desk, he scanned over profile reports on each of the Architects of the high rise. He sipped from a Styrofoam cup of tepid coffee without tasting it. The account of the construction was straightforward and uneventful:

Text book. Nothing useful. Jackson had already set it aside. He'd had to pull a few strings to tie the Architects in the report back to actual names, but a guy down in Records owed him for a little creative investigating he'd conducted last year.

The psychiatric profiles weren't exactly giving up the goods, either. Tired, he tossed the BLUE report--Marion Finnerty, she was--onto the discard pile on his desk and rubbed his eyes. An errant gesture bathed the paperwork in cold coffee (two creamers, four packets of the pink stuff), and Jackson was on his feet, ineffectually blotting with a few napkins.

His eye fell on it, one word, buried in the gray, all-caps page of the Finnerty profile, and he swore. He wondered if anybody besides him did their jobs anymore. Two suicides, a building that would have to be decommissioned, and seven mountains of paperwork, all because some monkey couldn't be bothered to read the damn psychiatric profile before letting these code jockeys jack in. One word: "BATTERED."

by Sharon 12:03 PM

Imagination-induced reality

by Shawn 6:59 AM

{Monday, June 02, 2003}

It happens every time.

by Fred 4:00 AM

{Sunday, June 01, 2003}

I was given instructions: Find a rock, and give it your Name. Put yourself into the rock. Wear no metal. Do not talk. Progress widdershins around the circle.

It was very strange. But, after a while, you learn that the best lessons often come from strange folk, and it is usually a good idea to listen to them. Sometimes it is Disco Inferno in coffeehouse bathrooms; sometimes it is mating damselflies as a metaphor for marriage; sometimes it is giving your name to a rock.

I found a rock. I carried it with me all day, filling it with all the things I liked best about myself, things I was proud of. I filled it with love. By nightfall, it was time for the ritual. We would start in the stone circle.

As I approached, there were spirits in the trees, running through the brush outside the circle, invisible but whispering. At the entrance, a teenager held out a hand for my rock. Before I quite knew what had happened, he threw it into the woods! Gone. I felt like a piece of flesh had been removed. I stumbled.

Within the stones, the drummers began. Loki, his face a white, grinning skull, began to dance. He danced with me, until I danced with him. Then he drifted to another person and attached me to him, so that this new one might catch my dancing, and join in. Soon we were all dancing, in the night, with the drums, amongst the stones.

And Loki had another role to play. Light-footed and lithe, he led us from the circle, down a path of luminaries, winding down a secret path, wending through a birth canal, delivering us to the fire circle.

With a signal from the drums, we turned out. At each of the Quarters, there was an elemental. Masked, painted, adorned in feathers, each danced, and blessed us as we passed by, counter-clockwise. Air waved us with fans and wafted sage to cleanse us. Fire, sinuous and sensual, undulated with candles. Water danced with her rain stick. Earth fed us bread.

The mad witch screamed into the night, "Find your Name!" The drums exploded, and we danced until we were slick with sweat, and danced into the night, and danced under the night.

And I felt nothing. I had no name.

I wandered for a month, useless, listless, lost. At the next opportunity, my friend the potter asked the witch on my behalf. "I forgot to put in the things I don't like. I just lost all the good parts of me, and kept all the bad." She knew what to do.

She reached into my heart and pulled out one end of a straw. She fed that out into the center of the universe. She retrieved the other end and put it into my mouth. "Now," she instructed, "suck back all the good parts."

That evening, alone at the fire circle, before it was lit, before the night began, helping with the preparations of the fire, fumbling my way through an element I had no relationship with, I looked to the sky.

The stars spoke my name with one voice: Nova. New Star. Welcome.

by Sharon 11:59 PM

secret passage

by margaret 9:47 AM


<blockquote class="topic">your topic</blockquote>