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{Friday, October 29, 2004}

"This particular model is a luxury model. Solid oak veneer with satin interior and metal handrails."

"'Veneer' and 'metal' are not words that inspire confidence," said Harris, sitting up. "Besides, there's no padding."

"I'm sorry, sir," said Terence, helping Harris out of the coffin. "We don't usually get many complaints."

"That's supposed to be a joke, right? I mean, you thought that was funny."

Terence cursed, inwardly. "Yes," he said, "but it's also true. After all, not many people come in and try these things out when they're actually... able to comment on them."

"That's because they don't plan ahead, Terry. They think a coffin's for dying."

"That's what they're usually built for, yes."

"Don't mince words with me. You don't get a lot of people in here who are looking for a coffin because they want to sleep in it, do you?"

"Actually, you're the fifth one this week. It's probably one of our larger markets."

"You're kidding me."

"Not at all," said Terence. "In fact, if not for the fact that everybody has to go eventually, it would probably be our largest market."


"Of course, not many of them look like you. The men tend to be either... well... effete and given to wearing lace and velvet, or they're broad-chested and dress in leather."

"Instead of looking--"

"Normal, yes."

"I was about to say, 'Like a bank teller,' but I suppose that's about the same."

"If I may ask," said Terence, "why are you looking for a coffin? You don't seem like the type."

"Security," said Harris. "I like security. I like the feeling of being walled in. Something solid on every side of me - makes me fell, y'know, safe."

"But it must be murder on your social life."

"I hate people. Always touching your skin, brushing your hair, breathing your air. I prefer a solid wall between me and humanity at all times."

"But you don't want to give up the luxury life?"

"No, not at all."

"Hm," said Terence. "You know, I don't think a coffin is really what you need. Might I suggest another option?"

by Glen 10:21 PM

I've never been good with small spaces. I wouldn't call it, I don't know, claustrophobia. That just sounds so... legitimate. No, I just don't like having my limbs restricted. Knowing that I can't extend my arms and legs as far as they will go. Knowing that there is a finite amount of air. That there is a lot of weight above me, tenuously held at bay by some feeble feat of engineering. Elevators. Tunnels. Scuba diving.

Just the thought of scuba diving makes my chest tight. I saw a movie when I was younger, about a man who lived in the wild amongst the wolves. I remember three scenes from that movie: defiantly eating rats to intimidate the encroaching vermin; drinking 32 cups of tea to mark the territory of his camp ground; and falling through the ice. The protagonist crossed a frozen lake, fell through the ice, and could not find the hole from beneath the water. He pounded his way back through with the shotgun he'd been carrying. I will never forget that scene.

There's drowning in The Abyss, too. That movie's hard for me. Conscious, deliberate drowning, in a little metal death-trap at the bottom of the ocean. Gasping. Struggling. Dying.

They bury a girl alive in Kill Bill. I hope that doesn't spoil anything for you. Buried alive, under six feet of dirt. That was always the thing that got me about the living dead: How do you dig up? It doesn't really seem possible. The living dead, at least, have the benefit of not needing to breathe, so that takes care of one of the major logistics issues.

I've always wondered. After the bite, how long does it take for the infection to set in? Do you die and then reawaken, or just go mad? Are your fingers stronger, or are you just oblivious to the pain? How long will the batteries in my flashlight last?

I guess I'll find out.

by Sharon 1:09 PM

Feeling claustrophobic

by Generik 11:25 AM

{Thursday, October 28, 2004}

why should today be any different?

by Fred 8:22 PM

{Wednesday, October 27, 2004}

are you sure this is where you want to be?

by Fred 8:16 PM

{Tuesday, October 26, 2004}

what it means is this

by Fred 5:24 PM

{Monday, October 25, 2004}

buyer's remorse

by Fred 4:58 PM

{Saturday, October 23, 2004}

Wait, what?

by MisterNihil 1:19 AM

{Thursday, October 21, 2004}

When I stand at the kitchen sink here in my apartment -- either preparing a meal or doing the dishes or filling up the filtered water pitcher or eating something messy, as men are often wont to do -- I look out on Hemlock Alley. I see the back doorway to the Chinese restaurant across the way, a small alcove where the cooks and waiters will come out and have a smoke or take the time to eat a bowl of food when it's slow inside. Looking to my right is the entrance to the underground parking lot that gets plenty of business and charges only an arm, as opposed to a lot of places here in the city that charge an arm and a leg. Moving east, the back doors and windows to the Salvation Army store and the pawn shop don't get much play. At the end of the block is the Halstead Funeral Home, which shares a parking lot with a limousine service. There are very often limousines and hearses pulling in and out of the gate down there, and you have to wonder who is inside each one at any given moment.

On my side, the south side of the alley, it's all residence apartment buildings, all the way down. Just below my window is the entrance to the basement garage of our building, and I can often hear the steel door raising and lowering as people come and go. Early in the mornings, about the time I get up for work, the garbagemen open that door and drive their truck in, so that they can bang the cans around and wake everyone on this side of the building. Something about that noise makes me feel safe, don't ask me why.

Living in this neighborhood on the edge of the Tenderloin has always been a bit of a dicey proposition. It's what is euphemistically known as "colorful," which means simply that there can be the occasional crime or questionable character or spontaneous fight break out at any time. It's not at all unusual to find used needles, condoms and broken bottles in Hemlock Alley or the gutters nearby. Sometimes, especially when it's hot, the smell of urine or feces is overwhelming. The make-up of people here is decidedly eclectic, with regular working people like me sharing space with young hipsters hanging out in the evenings at any one of the half-dozen popular watering holes in a two block area; teenage runaways and drug dealers, attracted to the youth shelter nearby, squatting on the sidewalks; a sizable contingent of transgendered folk (some plying their trade on the streets) who consider a disco across Post Street to be their SF headquarters; regular female working girls competing with them on most weekend evenings; a large number of homeless people who show up early in the mornings and evenings, coming into or going out of the city-run shelter down the street; dozens of student chefs in their kitchen clothing and carrying their knives and books as they walk down to the Culinary Academy on Polk Street; and, maybe strangest (or most interesting) of all, what is probably the largest group of traditionally-dressed Middle Eastern Muslims in San Francisco, especially just before dawn, going to or coming from the Al Tawhid mosque just a block up and around the corner on Sutter. I often wonder what goes through the minds of all these people as they pass each other on their way to whatever pleasure or business awaits them... what does the underage runaway from Iowa make of the man in a white robe and beard, wearing a traditional Muslim head covering, as he passes a tall miniskirted hooker built like a burly linebacker with rock-hard breasts the size of volleyballs and a five o'clock shadow talking to the homeless black guy pushing a shopping cart filled with aluminum cans and glass bottles...?

A few years back I read a book called The Magician's Tale, by an author whose name I forget, simply because the opening scene consisted of someone finding a dismembered body in a dumpster... in Hemlock Alley, just off Polk Street. Essentially where I live, in other words. The opening scene (though not the story itself) was based on a true event from a number of years ago, and most of the first half of the book was set right here in my neighborhood. It wasn't a particularly good book, but it held my interest because of the location. I don't know where that author is today, but I'll bet he could put together plenty of more interesting -- though perhaps less believable -- stories, if he just had the view out my back window today.

by Generik 11:44 PM

The view out the back window

by Generik 1:44 AM

{Wednesday, October 20, 2004}

"Ther tyranny o' ther printed page is long-gone herstory!" sez Ermajesty, waving the volume above her head. "I declare the New World Disorder in which ther printed page is replaced by a new media which is unprinted and pristine."

"But Ermajesty," sez I, "ain't an unprinted page just paper?"

"Silence, toad!" Ermajesty proclaims, applying her boot to my posterioral region. "Ermajesty has spoken! Let the libraries toss their rubbish in favor o' ther latest craze - ther newes' happenin'! The livin' end, I tell yaz, the livin' end!"

Sez I, edgin' my posterioral regions out of the reach o' her boots, "But, Ermajesty, if the pages are blank, who's gunna read wot's in the library?"

"That's ther beauty of it!" she crows, applyin' the broad side o' the book to my left temple. "When ther libraries are full o' ther unprinted page, all ther great works o' literature will at last be free o' the meanin' imposed uponnem by ther establishment o' critics an' literary charmen. Ther unprinted page'll be ther ultimate in pure meanin'! At last, ther works o' ther greats'll be open completely to all interpertin' without anybody bein' able to correct everbody."

"But, Ermajesty," I sez, protectin' my head with my arms, "What'll the colleges do?"

"Close!" she cries, grabbin' me in an embrace that cracks five o' my ribs as she swings me 'round in a merry dance. "They'll close, they'll close, they'll close! It's a perfect way ter rid the modern student o' ther burdens of college debt! Just don't have colleges ter go ter!"

"So, Ermajesty," squeaks I outta collapsin' lungs, "Where do we start?"

She dumps me inter the chair and spins, droppin' the book in my lap with a thud an' crushin' some very sensitive parts with the leather-bound monstrosity.

"Right here," she sez, "right now. Now-er, if we can swing ther diff'rence."

I picks up the book and looks at the spine in wonder.

"Ther compleat werks o' Willerm Shake Spear," reads the spine.

"Crack ther supine an' read it already," she sez, menacin' me with a fist ter my nose.

I open the book an' looks at the clean, white pages inside.

"Genius, Ermajesty," sez I.

by Glen 7:28 PM

blank verse

by Fred 7:04 PM

{Tuesday, October 19, 2004}


by Sharon 2:06 PM

{Monday, October 18, 2004}

Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
Oh, thanks, Mr. Obvious.
I mean, golly, who knew?

Art critics and historians don't like to talk about it much, but the real reason for Pablo Picasso's so-called blue period (1901 to 1904) was not, as they have so often written, an attempt to create images of deep despair and melancholy on the canvas, but rather a futile and desperate attempt to appease the hordes of angry Smurfs who had taken up residence in his Paris flat.

Not since that fateful September day in 1871, when four dogs happened to be spied seated around a gaming table in Yorkshire, had such an animal influence been felt in the arts. To be quite fair, philosophers and scientists have long puzzled over Smurf taxonomy, and the debate as to whether they can truly be said to be animals remains largely unresolved even to this day. But still, their influence in the arts can scarcely be debated. From the earliest cave paintings to the most modern of modern art, Smurfs have been at the center of it all. Greek myths, for instance, speak repeatedly of Smurfberries and Gargamel (although, naturally, by other names). And Vincent van Gogh, whose work pre-dates Picasso's by little more than a decade, is thought to owe his depression and eventual suicide to Smurfs -- more precisely to an inability to determine what exactly differentiates them from a Snork.

This, of course, is just conjecture, and most art historians and critics have little time for it. Which, come to think of it, may be just as well.

by Fred 11:59 PM

Today I came home with a case of the blues. I'm not sure where it came from, exactly, but I'm definitely feeling blue. Feeling low, feeling glum, feeling sad and anxious and sorry for myself. I don't particularly want to talk to anyone, and I walk with my head down, staring at the ground, my face in a resigned grimace. It takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile, the experts say, and if so, I'm exercising my face pretty hard right now.

What causes this depression? I can say that politics or my current work situation are contributing to it, and that could be true in a sense, but perhaps it's more than that. Perhaps it's as much genetics as it is the latest presidential poll or the stress of upcoming projects and budget numbers.

See, I've always had a predilection for the bipolar, though that has abated quite a bit in the years since I stopped using drugs. (And if none of you have ever known the deep, black, suicidal depression that can result from falling off the edge of the jagged and abusive high that accompanies cocaine use, count yourselves extremely lucky.) It apparently runs in the family -- I have some relatives who regularly use anti-depressants like Prozac and Zoloft, and a few others who don't, but probably should. Compared to them, I'm the picture of sanity and mental health. But I haven't fully escaped that genetic predisposition, and every so often it catches up with me and reminds me of who I am and who I am related to and just what kind of chemical soup I carry around inside me.

Realistically, it's ridiculous for me to be depressed, I tell myself. I have a job I like and a wife who loves me. I make pretty good money these days, and I live in a place that I love, a place that thousands of people spend millions of dollars every year just to visit. I have a good circle of immediate friends, and a larger circle of people who care about me out there in cyberspace. I'm a lucky sonofabitch, in fact.

And yet... today I'm blue. Today I'm sad. Today I'm prickly, over-sensitive, and occasionally close to tears. So excuse me for a while; I just need to be alone.

"When Sunny gets blue, her eyes get gray and cloudy, then the rain begins to fall..."

by Generik 11:29 PM

My toenails are blue. My fingernails are blue. I think my knees may even be blue. And someone had the audacity to quip, "I thought you were from Up North." "Yes," I snapped, "where we keep our buildings above 58 degrees."

It is damn cold in here.

It's in the 80s outside, and muggy and gross, but in the building, you can keep a side of beef for days. I'm wearing the thick shirt I keep around for Arctic Office Days, and I'm still cold. It's hard to type.

I think it's the cold that's making me so hungry. I've been hungry all day. I ate my lunch too early, thinking maybe I could get a little supplemental food from the cafeteria later, but then I coded right through lunch and missed my opportunity. I've already snagged a pack of animal crackers from the vending machine; gone, hours ago. I'm starving.

And cold. Pfoo.

I think the only thing for it is to bathe myself in the warm blood of the SOB on the other side of the cube wall who persists in using that clacky thing despite—no, because—of how much it pisses the rest of us off. I will make a scarf from his entrails. Perhaps then, I will be warm.

by Sharon 4:36 PM


Apologies for the missed time.

by Nyssa23 1:30 PM

{Friday, October 15, 2004}

Have we found our way into Hell, or is this just Detroit?

That was the question on my mind as the road twisted away into darkness, disappearing into the night just beyond my headlights. A series of bright yellow lines ran through the twin spotlights and disappeared somewhere beside me, trailing away in my rearview mirror. Hell, I couldn't tell where I was. It just looked like darkness outside. Endless darkness.

"Are you sure you know where we're going?" said Ruby. The ambient light from the lamps just highlighting her curling hair and the edge of her nose - soft outlines moving in the dark with facial features highlighted in the dim green glow of the dashboard indicators.

"Of course not," I said. "That's half of the fun."

"I thought you knew," she said, turning back and looking out at the road - or lack thereof - ahead of us.

"Nope," I said. "Never have before - hasn't stopped me yet."

She sighed, leaned over, and tried to tune in something on the radio. She hit "scan" and the numbers rolled by. And rolled by. And rolled by.

"We can't even get anything on the radio," she said, hitting the power switch. "So, where are we going?"

"I told you, I don't know."

"Right, but I meant where are we heading."

"I still don't know."

There was silence. The dim glow highlighted her mouth as she drew her lower lip in and bit down on it, gently.

"You mean you don't even know where we're supposed to end up?"

"What did I say?" I snapped, a little bit too quickly.

"Then why are we out here?"

"Because the struggle is the blessing, babe."

"Cut the zen shit and tell me."

I rolled down the window. The air blowing in didn't tell me anything more about the landscape around us, but it felt clean and fresh.

"There's something out there," I said. "I don't know what, but it's out there. And we'll never get to it if we don't drive."

"So we're just out driving to get somewhere."


"And we don't know where that somewhere is."


"We just know we're going to get there."

"That's the idea."

"Will we know it when we get there?"

I shrugged.

She leaned over again, the green light of the dashboard carressing her bosom as she hit the "power" button on the radio, hit "scan," and watched the numbers roll by.

"I can sing for you, if you like," I said.

"Just drive," she said.

by Glen 5:00 PM

Last thing I remembered, I was writing every day for a blog called 600 Seconds. It was a great exercise, spending ten minutes a day writing on a topic that one member of a small circle of writers had chosen at random (or maybe not so much), and it had me excited about writing again. I looked forward to the new topic each day, and occasionally would backdate posts so I could contribute to topics that I might have missed.

Then I started slacking off a bit, writing every other day or every third day, or backdating two, three, even four posts at a time. And then I went on vacation, and got away from interacting with a computer keyboard entirely for a long week. Once I returned, it was harder and harder to find time or inspiration to put my thoughts down, even for as short a time as ten minutes a day. That lack of discipline that has plagued me all my life reared its ugly head once again.

I'll get back into it, I thought, once things calm down some at work. Once we get that new position filled, and the schedule gets a little less hectic, I'll have more time. Oh, and once the election is over, and I'm not so busy with all the political foofaraw, I'll be able to concentrate more on being creative. Sure, yeah, that's it.

That's what I remember... and then it seems that there was this... this coldness... clutching at my heart, at my soul... there was a voice whispering inside my head, keeping me from sleeping, from eating, from working, and, especially, from writing. The tinfoil hat didn't stop it, and neither did the repeated phone calls to the government and the police. No one would listen to me when I tried to describe the torture I felt inside, the things I heard in my brain. I felt as if a hand was clutching my insides, a hand that had never known warmth or light, and that whoever was attached to that hand was standing directly behind me, telling me things I didn't want to know or hear. How could I be creative with all that going on? I couldn't. It wasn't until I took the knife, the big one from the block in the kitchen, and I... uhh... where was I again?

by Generik 4:32 PM

Where the heck was I?

by MisterNihil 2:26 AM

{Thursday, October 14, 2004}

Once upon a time, a little man stood on the side of a railroad track, smoking a pipe and thinking hard about jumping rope. He mulled over the type of rope, the number of times to jump and the potential dates of the jumping. He had an opening in his schedule in the next fifteen minutes, when the pipe was finished, but not again for almost a week. He intended, more or less, to jump about forty times, then go back to the farmhouse where he lived. His wife, a fine woman, did not let him do either thing inside the house, either smoke or jump rope. There were reasons for both of these. She was alergic to smoke, and the only time she'd ascented to his jumping rope in the house, it had cost them one lamp and a rather fetching end-table. He was sadder than she about the end table, really, but she put on a good show, looking worried and a little unhappy, as he mourned its loss. It had been just the right size for a particular chess board of which he was very fond. He'd obtained the table in a game of poker, in place of a bet for twenty dollars which a friend of his had been unable or unwilling to cover. His friend knew he'd had his eye on the table, and so offered it. The little man was sad to lose the table, but he was sadder to be banned from the house when jumping rope. As he stood, contemplating, his pipe went dry. He tapped it on the palm of his left hand, knocking the ash out and onto the gravel under the railroad track. He put the pipe into his left breast pocket, and walked out to the barn where he kept the rope. Forty jumps, he though. That should do it. Forty jumps outside, under the lovely starlight.

by MisterNihil 11:52 PM

there's a reason for this

by Fred 3:36 PM

{Wednesday, October 13, 2004}

Last week, my mother said it: "Do you know what today is?"

I searched through my brain. "September..."

"It's your father's birthday."

"But that's in October," I protested. And that there would be my main problem with birthdays. I know when your birthday is; I just don't know what today is. Especially since it was well in the 80s on that day. (It's right blustery today. Gorgeous fall day, with wind and goosebumps and everything. I want to fly a kite.)

And just as I was about to write about the event that will be happening today, it happened. The support pager handoff. Suddenly, there is a great weight on my hip. While my teammate was walking over here to give it to me, it went off. So begins my week.

by Sharon 11:59 PM


"What's today?" he asked.

"Forehead-Smacking Day," she said.

She glanced at the calendar on the wall.

"Sorry," she said. "Canadian Forehead-Smacking Day."

"So the banks'll be open?" he asked.

"Dear, the bank's one of the main reasons for smacking your forehead. It's their civic duty to remain open."

"But we're not in Canada."

"Well not now. But tomorrow, that's Small Town Invaded by Canada for Absolutely No Reason At All Day. So the bank might make an exception."

"Oh crap. STIBCFANRAA Day? Traffic's gonna be murder!"

"It's also Spontaneous Automobile Explosion Day..."

"Well that does it then. I'm staying home from work tomorrow."


"Whadya mean can't?"

"It's Compulsory Work or Be Eaten by Giant Robots Month. You know that."

"Man, I hate October!"

"Shh! The Calendar Police will hear you!"

by Fred 3:29 PM

*smacking forehead* What's today?

by Generik 2:46 PM

{Tuesday, October 12, 2004}

We'll always have obligations that we find we can't live up to. We'll always have guilt. We'll always have regrets and second thoughts and shoulda woulda coulda. We'll always have people to remind us of our failings.

"Why didn't you do what I asked you to do? Why didn't you do what you said you were going to so? Why didn't you do what you were supposed to do?"

"I meant to. I was going to, but I never got around to it. I got distracted. I was busy. I was out of town that week."

We'll always have excuses.

by Generik 10:50 PM

"We had some good times, didn't we?"

"Yeah, good times."

(The sound of crickets.)

"What was the first? Uzbekistan?"


"Right, Georgia. That was a fun one." (A chuckle.)

"Short and sweet, just the way you always liked it."

"Yeah... and Prague, of course."

"Prauge? I, um... was that where we..."

"The rope, yeah. We probably should have researched that one a little more. God, the mess. I thought I was going to die."

"Me to. Glad we never did it that way again. Of course, I'm not as sure it was as bad as Sao Paulo. Sometimes my knees still ache."

"Ho, yeah. I remember the dishwater went everywhere! There we were, beach and ocean all around, and you have to go and do it in the kitchen."

"Only place we could get any privacy."

(Crickets. Somewhere an owl hoots.)

"You sure you won't reconsider?"

(Shuffling feet.)

"-- Look, we had some good times and --"

"-- I don't want to put any pressure on you but --"

(Nervous laughter)

"It's just not the same anymore, it's time for me to move on."

"Well, at least we get one more time."

"I couldn't begrudge you th--"
"Hush, here he comes."

"That him?"

"That's him."

"Tell me you remembered your silencer this time."


"Yeah, I got it. Now shut up and let me aim."

by John W. 8:45 PM

We used to think we'd always have bracketed ellipses. We were such fools, so young and so naive, lost in our own innocent typographies. We knew only the grammar of each other, and although we also knew we sometimes made mistakes, I don't think we ever could have imagined a world like this, with so much lost and the stet's we'd scribbled in the margins all but ignored. And now their they're there is nothing to be done.

Oh, we had our ellipses, but what good were they -- and, more important, what words did they omit? What did we lose, in our rush to rush past the inconvenient words? "You're the only one I've ever blank blank blank." "When all is said and done, it's only blank blank blank." "I promise not to hurt you if you only blank blank blank."

What were those blanks, and why the brackets? We may never know.

by Fred 6:17 PM

We'll always have [...]

by John W. 7:18 AM

{Sunday, October 10, 2004}

I know you're not going to believe me on this. I'm sorry I can't help that. But just a week ago on my way to the Metro station I actually saw two kids spitting into the wind. Repeatedly. Could tugging on Superman's cape be far behind?

I go way back with this song. I remember listening this song over and over and lauging my fool head off wearing these *enormous* headphones that my father still has tucked away somewhere. The headphones were full-ear, hard-shell beasts, white and black. The brand name eludes me. As young as I was, the headphones were almost the size of my head. And, in fact, "laughing my fool head off" is almost not an exaggeration. After listening to a record or two with those headphones, my head felt like it was about to come off. But I thought they were great. And I've looked for years for headphones like those but haven't found them.

I don't think my father understood why I liked them so much. But they caused something like an out-of-body experience. I was still there in the room. I could see people but I couldn't hear them. I'd hear what was coming through the stereo instead. And while I understood (roughly) how that worked, it was very much like another world to me -- it was easy, surprisingly easy -- to pretend I was a space traveller then. Putting them on I left the planet, taking them off I landed again.

The things I listened to in the inbetween time stuck with me. Had a profound effect, I'm sure. Jim Croche and Arlo Guthrie and a Spiderman comic on record. I remember these things very well, when I can barely remember where I put my keys when I took them out of my pocket.

Now it's all earbuds. "When I was your age..." Perhaps with better headphones, and more exposure to Jim Croche, those damn fool kids would know better than to spit in the wind.

by John W. 8:58 PM

In honor of his recent passing:
You don't tug on Superman's cape.

by Fred 6:49 PM

{Friday, October 08, 2004}

When the people from the Egg World landed, the first thing that everyone noticed -- aside from the ray guns, the saucers, the ferocious alien beasts tethered by chains to the saucers, and the large array of tanks and weapons that the army had hastily assembled should they need to combat these interstellar threats -- was that the people didn't look terribly egg-like at all.

They were more square about the head than round, and although their skin did have a kind of pale jaundice to it, it wasn't the sort of thing one would immediately describe as yolky. Their saucers, in fact, weren't really saucers at all but much more boxy, just like their heads. One newspaper helpfully described the craft as space-Volvos. Another suggested "parallelograms from beyond," but obviously that wasn't going to fly with the general public and never entered common usage.

Nor did the Egg People appear to be shelled in any way. They looked reasonably humanoid and fairly mammalian. They had two legs, two arms, three eyes, but most of them appeared distinctly embarrassed by the third eye and would go to great lengths to avoid talking about it. (Interviewers who would not drop the subject often found themselves zapped by those very same ray guns, which usually led to even more embarrassment on both sides and profuse apologies from the Egg People. It's rumored that one station lost an entire news division in this manner.)

Even the beasts that the Egg People chained outside their craft upon landing on Earth didn't appear to be egg-like in any way. No one could understand, therefore, why the aliens claimed to be "ambassadors from the Egg World", unless the world itself was particularly egg-like -- something that the few star charts and maps they had provided didn't seem to bear out. It was quite the mystery for many months.

Until, that is, Earth was invaded by Bacon-ites.

by Fred 11:48 AM

When I find a good joke, I tend to stick with it. So my quick-and-easy birthday-note strategy is to find out what holidays fall on your birthday and send a happy-other-day card. It's Dad's birthday today, so I Googled for "calendar holidays 'October 8.'"

World Egg Day, indeed.

It reminds me of an observation Ben made: the word for "egg" in a bunch of different languages sounds like the exclamation you'd make if you were hit in the gut. Thus:

It's funny how we develop these little running gags in our lives. I mean, Ben pointed that out once, and it was funny, but Jon and I still run through the list with each other sometimes (usually after smacking into furniture). And there are events that I know will trigger the same statement from Jon every time. Are they comfortingly familiar or just irritating? Depends on the day.

This is marriage: The person who knows all your running gags.

Man, now I'm all hungry for migas. Hey Jon, maybe Trudy's on Saturday, after Toastmasters?

by Sharon 11:05 AM

*snerk* This is great. I kid you not. Today is
World Egg Day

by Sharon 9:59 AM

{Thursday, October 07, 2004}

C'mon! Everybody likes monkeys!

by Fred 4:12 PM

{Wednesday, October 06, 2004}

"I made you a shirt. It says, 'I love you.'"

"You made me a shirt? Like, what, you knitted it or something?"

"Well, no. Okay, I had it made. But for you. I spared no expense."

"How much?"

"Fifteen bucks. Plus shipping."

"Be still my heart."

"But it's custom-made. It has your name on it."

"It's spelled with a C on the shirt."

"You don't spell your name with a C?"

"No, it's Jane. I spell it with a J."

"Huh. Well, it was an honest mistake. It's the thought that counts, right?"

"What's that image above the name?"

"Um, actually, that's a gravy stain. The image is on the back."

"Is that...? What is that?"



"I needed something that was in the public domain."

"Metroid isn't in the public domain. I don't think it's even twenty years old."

"Huh. The website I downloaded it from said it was public domain. Of course, they also said I could satisfy any woman with the power of sooper Vyagra."

"Well trust me, they were wrong. On both counts."

"So you don't like the shirt?"

"It's not even my size."

"Maybe you could grow into it?"

"This is the worst birthday gift ever!"

by Fred 6:40 PM

I have a question for Glen, and the rest of you:
What are your experiences with CafePress?
Have you bought things? Sold things? How's the quality of the t-shirts?

If you want to have multiple designs available (like, an "Invisible Citizen" t-shirt and a sawmonkey t-shirt), do you have to get the premium store? You'd think this would be clear from their FAQ, but...

by Sharon 1:20 PM

{Tuesday, October 05, 2004}

Addendum: Two weeks ago I had my annual eye check-up. Dr. Han put me through the usual paces -- "Read down the chart to the smallest line you can," "Better one? Or better two?" etc. etc. -- then announced that I have 20-15 vision. Now, I know my eyes aren't what they used to be, and I do wear glasses for help with my distance vision, but... 20-15? Still, at my age? Jee-zus, I thought, if they're that good now, what were they when I was 25? Did I have X-ray vision back then and not realize it? Could I have burned holes through walls with my eyes? I had no idea.

There's an old German saying that I've seen on a lot of homey-looking faux samplers hung on the walls of people from my parents' and grandparents' generations. I believe it goes like this: We get too soon old and too late smart.

Or, as the line from It's a Wonderful Life goes, "Ahh, youth is wasted on the wrong people!"

by Generik 11:59 PM

It's been more than ten years now since a female co-worker asked me "What color was your hair?"

My sputtering answer at the time was, "W-why, the same color it is now, only without the gray!" Of course, since then, a whole lot more of it is gray than is the color it once was when I was young and full of piss and vinegar (that would be a lustrous black, for those of you keeping score at home). My goatee looks as if I soaked my chin in a cup of bleach every night. But at least I still have hair, as I often tell my friend Jon, whose head resembles a shiny ostrich egg. I remember the days when he had long, dirty blonde hair spilling down his forehead and I had that dark, dark hair that hung halfway down my back, but those days have long since passed both of us by in a Greyhound bus taking retirees to an Indian casino half a day's drive from here.

I have few regrets. I used to have regrets, but the older I get, the more at peace I become with myself. The past is what it is, and can't be changed. Sure, I would have done some things differently if I knew then what I know now -- who among us wouldn't? -- but maybe the point is that we do the things we do when we do them simply because we don't know any better. We may never know any better. I'm okay with that.

And I surely don't want to live forever, or go back and start over. All my life, I've entertained the thought of being able to live some or most of my life again -- once again, who hasn't? -- of being 12 or 17 or 25 again, and making different decisions when faced with the same choices I had back then, but... I realize now that I'd hate to have to go through all that again. Even if I could make better decisions, there are so many things I know about myself and about the world now that I didn't when I was younger -- and the world itself has changed so much in that time -- that I would just as soon stay where I am and go forward from here. As for living forever, well, sure, I'd like to see what will happen 50 or 100 or 6000 years down the road, but, criminey, when was the last time you tried to talk to an average 17 year old knucklehead? Can you imagine what the average 17 year old knucklehead will be like in 100 or 1000 years? Forget it. You wouldn't even be able to understand him, much less be able to hold an intelligent conversation.

I guess I'm content to slip happily into curmudgeonhood, to become one of those crusty old guys who yells at kids to get off his lawn (if I had a lawn) and to tell stories about the good old days until company announces that oh my gosh, look at the time, we have to get up in the morning, so long now. But I'll tell you what, I remember when...

by Generik 11:58 PM

Ted wasn't worried when he found his first gray hair. When, by the end of the same day, he found his seven-hundred-and-eighty-first, however, he started to grow a little concerned. He supposed that this, along with the newly wrinkled skin and suddenly arthritic joints, was just the price you paid for monkeying with accelerated aging formulas in your spare time, but the old professor hasn't said anything about any side effects. Of course, come to think of it, he hadn't said much of anything to Ted in all those months except "Bwah-ha!" and sometimes "It's alive! It's alive!" -- which, to Ted, had always seemed a touch melodramatic, and which really didn't indicate there wouldn't be side effects.

But it wasn't like Ted had gotten any of the fast-aging goop on him. He'd taken special precaution to keep them in their special goop-containment jars. (He'd just assumed they were air-tight, since they looked air-tight when they were full of mustard at the store.) Except for that one time when the air conditioning went out -- and that month where he just didn't want to for spite -- he always wore gloves. He'd even put up a "Warning: Goop!" sign. Safety first. Ted felt reasonably sure that he'd remember getting goop on himself in the lab, and he didn't.

Sure, there was that one time the goop itself caught fire and burned for three days straight while they all breathed the fumes and Mr. Whiskers, the lab's remaining white mouse, and aged rapidly and died in a matter of mere minutes, but if you were going to panic every time something like that happened...well, why even bother coming into work then?

by Fred 5:53 PM

Growing old

by Generik 1:13 AM

{Monday, October 04, 2004}

"Do you remember that night in Madrid, ten -- no, twenty years ago today?"

"Ah, yes, how could I forget? Spain. The excitement, the romance. That's where you and I first met."

"We were quite a pair then, weren't we? I was just a poor peasant girl trying to survive."

"Yes, and I was the local magistrate. One could not ask for a more perfect pair of starcrossed lovers."

"We fell in love. Though it was forbidden, and they said you were mad, you asked for my hand in marriage."

"How could I not? You were so lovely. When they brought you before me, I knew I had to make you mine."

"I sometimes wonder if I stole that money just so they would bring me to you."

"They brought you to the firing squad, but even that couldn't keep me from you."

"I remember. Of course, I wondered then... I was unsure of your love."

"But why, my dear? What was it? What gave you reason to doubt? Something I did?"

"No, something you said."



by Fred 8:46 PM

"Was it something I said?"

by Fred 1:21 PM

{Friday, October 01, 2004}

No story to tell,
but I put another word on the page
and, before you know it,
I have a sentence,
then several.

I write, for example
"The men who say these things
once were boys,
some more than others.
A great number of them
have no name, no mother,
only the old earth and the sea."

I don't know what any of it means,
but I write,
one sentence and then a second.
That is what the paper is for.
That is why I have these words.
Sometimes, it's the only thing
that can get me through.

by Fred 3:51 PM

what i try to tell you
using no words--
don't you see?
i can not say
I ... you.
i can not even say
I ... you.
(i don't.)
i have no ... to give.
no ... to tell.
(but i do.)
what is not said
would say so much.
i have so few words
i can say,
out here,
where all can see.
i want to find you

by Sharon 2:57 PM

in your dreams

by Fred 2:53 PM

So here's a challenge Jeremy offers on his blog:
Write a poem using only the 300 most common English words. (Follow the link for the list.)

It would be neighborly, after posting your results here, to post a link to them in his comments. I think he'd enjoy that.

by Sharon 2:52 PM


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