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{Wednesday, March 31, 2004}

Just 'cause she ain't posted yet:

by MisterNihil 12:09 PM

{Tuesday, March 30, 2004}

Have I ever told you about the first man I killed? This was many years ago, and I was still but a boy. I had not yet left the small town in which I was born, and, were it not for the arrival of Elias Young and the carnival that dreary autumn, I doubt very much that I ever would have. He was in many ways the catalyst for everything that has happened since, and the moment he entered our lives everything began to unravel.

They called him the dead man, or at least the fairground posters did. They announced his act with all the standard hyperbole: Not for the faint of heart. Death-defying. Guaranteed to shock and amaze. This, of course, was back when such things still held meaning for me, when colorful phrases were enough to send chills down my spine, when I still had cause to fear the devils that walk the earth. You laugh, but I was once as innocent as any other. There was a time when such a place as this, and such a creature as yourself, would have seemed the stuff of purest fantasy.

But I digress. It was not fantasy that drew me to the fairground that autumn, but rather a steadfast belief in the reality of it. The carnival promised a man who could endure terrible tortures, who could be frozen alive or shot straight in the heart and live to tell the tale, and I believed every word. My brother had seen Young perform during the carnival's last visit, six years earlier when I was still an infant, and although I pestered him for details he remained uncharacteristically tight-lipped. I think that our mother, who had tried to shield Samuel from such things and failed, redoubled her efforts with me and therefore swore my brother to secrecy. Had she truly wanted to keep me away, however, she would have done the opposite: the idea that a great and terrible secret was being kept only increased my desire to know the full extent of it. Without stories from Samuel, I was forced to conjure images of my own, which I was then even more determined to see in the flesh.

It is not surprising, therefore, that I was terribly disappointed when I finally saw Young perform. I was not supposed to be there and therefore kept to the back of the tent, but even from that distance I could tell that there was little showmanship or grace in his act. Nothing could have lived up to my expectations, I suppose, but he was not a gifted perfomer. He was a scrawny, gray-haired man who stumbled across the makeshift stage, barely speaking to the audience or even to the man with the top hat and gun opposite him. When the man with the gun fired, Young stumbled again and fell back, then fell to the floor, clutching his chest. And although a red circle of what looked like blood spread out across that chest, I did not believe he had been shot. As I looked about the tent and saw the sheer mediocrity of it, I believe I knew that Young was a fake.

You laugh again, and perhaps you're right: at seven, what did I know? But I have seen many men die in the years since then, as you are well aware -- good and bad men alike, shot in the head or the chest, burned alive, knives dragged across their throats -- I have seen men leave this world in many ways, and I do not believe there was anything of death in Elias Young's eyes.

Certainly, if there had been, events would not have played out as they did after that.

by Fred 11:59 PM

An old man, bearded and wild starts. He sips his beer and broth as he speaks, first one then the other, keeping his lips moist. His eyes look dull and stare at nothing. His robe is tattered and his feet wrapped in rags. He begins:
"It was twenty summers ago, last I saw the sun. I'd been traveling with a carnival, acting the part of the blind knife thrower. I suppose it was only a matter of time before bitter irony cought up with me. I was playing that part in the afternoon show, in fact, when a bee flew up my blindfold and stund me on my right eye. I fell to the ground and cried that I'd been blinded. This ended the act, as you can well imagine. I was blinded in only my right eye, but the act was finished in that town. The carnival master had to put on a show of firing me and running me out of town on a rail. My momentary discomfort was better than the hanging planned for me by the townsfolk. After my ejection from town, I was to meet back up with the master some four or five miles outside the village and we were to work out a new act for me. I hid in the woods near our planned meeting spot, but as I did, another bee flew into my left eye and stung me, blinding me completely. I sat in wait, my face bloated and puffy, for the caravan to pass so I could join up with my former associates, but they never passed. My reputation being soiled as it was, I suppose the carnival master decided I was worthless. I moved on from town to town, living off the kindness of strangers for half a decade. In that time, I learned to throw knives again and to hunt by my hearing. I've made my way in life, looking again for Doctor Worthington's Midnite Revu and Carnival for the last fifteen years but with no luck. It seems they have managed to avoid me."
There is silence in the room. Finally, a young man finds the courage to speak:
"When I was a boy, I saw a blind knife thrower who was blinded by a bee. It was in this very town, sir. After we ran you out of town, we burned the cariages of that carnival. The mayor found that they had been murdering his polital opponants for some ten years. They found evidence in the Carnival master's wagon."
The room is silent for a long moment as the wild man stands and makes his hobbling way to the door. His vengeance is appeased. His life is now his own.

by MisterNihil 1:16 PM

Warmed by the hearth at the Worlds End Inn, earn your keep (and your beer) with a tale.

by Sharon 11:10 AM

{Monday, March 29, 2004}

Try as he might, Vito couldn't make an omelet without breaking a few legs. A kitchen could be a dangerous place if one wasn't careful. There was no telling what might happen when one opened the refrigerator door or pulled sharp cutlery from the drawer. Vito knew over one hundred and twelve different ways to kill a man with a whisk alone. He had been trained to fricassee, flambe, sauté, parboil, and escallop with extreme prejudice. He could seethe and simmer until there was nothing left of a man. It was almost impossible to overcome that training, to view a rolling pin as a tool and not a weapon, a sauce pan as an instrument and not an agent of destruction or torture. A ladle, he had to remind himself, was just a ladle. When he found himself with a sharpened cookie cutter pressed against his sous chef's throat with no memory of how he'd gotten there, he knew he had a problem.

by Fred 3:55 PM

I'm scrambling today to get all of my work done so that I can enjoy the few hours of warm weather Portland's providing before I fly back to the miserable, cold, rainy, and gloomy east coast. The weather gods do not favor me, it seems. Did I irk them by planting my peas too early, perhaps?

I spent 10 days on the east coast earlier this month, and those days were marked with snow and unseasonable cold. Portland enjoyed an amazing stretch of ten seventy-and-sunny days. The day I left New York was at least seasonably mild, while Portland had fallen back into several days of cold-and-rainy. Today is gorgeous in Portland, but I leave tomorrow morning for one more week in New York... whose forcast shows rain for the next seven days precisely.

I'm pouting. Yes, indeed. I'm not the sort that tends toward the "world is out to get me" attitude, but there are times when I can certainly sympathize.

by Faith 2:56 PM

My brain is all mush he said in a hush,
Full of bramble and bobbles it ambles and hobbles.

It’s really quite frightening and sometimes enlightening,
It’s confusing and silly, at times amusing and chilly.

It keeps me awake; I sit up and quake,
Wondering what plot and what plan, may or may not make me a regrettable man.

My synapses are a shamble, my gray cells all a scramble,
It’s a malady what I think, a cacophony for a shrink.

by Shawn 1:10 PM


by MisterNihil 12:00 PM

{Friday, March 26, 2004}

Deco. Or, if you prefer...Balloon Sword

by Shawn 12:10 PM

{Thursday, March 25, 2004}

He stood casually, roving his eyes around the room. He swept the six cousins from left to right and back again. Each looked a little worried, but held in any real panic. They were dressed formally and all a little sluggish from a large dinner. Good. He brought his attention around again and leveled it at Rachel Wambley's navel. He locked his lopsided gaze on her and directed his speech only to her.
"Folks, Wambleys, thanks for seeing me on short notice. You all know me and my name, and I won't take up too much more of your time." He squinted in the dim light. "If you'll just humor me a minute, I'll let you get back to your dinner or whatever it was you were doing. As you all know, I'm here to investigate the murder of your late uncle, or in your case father, Rachel, Colonel Ricardo Wambley."
Rachel broke in: "Murder? I've always assumed it was suicide. He hanged himself, after all, wearing that stupid tutoo."
The man in the yellow raincoat replied thickly, "You're absolutely correct, Miss Wambley, you're absolutely correct. I mean, we did find him hanging there in that closet. The thing is, what I can't figger out is, his feet were touching the ground. If they were touching the ground, how could he hang himself?"
"I can explain that, Lieutenant," Rachel's cousin spoke up for the first time. "I mean, he was trying to kill himself, right? He'd just hang there and let himself be strangled."
"That's right," Rachel added. "If he wanted to die, I mean..."
"I suppose so, Rachel, Robert. By the way, Robert, those are nice shoes. How much do shoes like that cost? Well, never mind."

I'll finish this later. No, really.

by MisterNihil 3:44 PM

I can explain.

by Fred 8:42 AM

{Wednesday, March 24, 2004}

If "Show me the money" is in the Bible, does that mean Cuba Gooding, Jr., is the Second Coming? Will he stop trying to act if we go along and pretend that it does? I'm being unfair in the service of a bad joke. I've seen all of two of Cuba's movies, but I'm one of only countless millions who's suffered through the trailers and commercials for "Snow Dogs" and "Boat Trip". I think I liked him better when I thought he was pretending to over-act.

But, like I said, there's no reason to bring it up except for that lame joke. "Show me the money!" I liked Jerry Maguire, but I only bring it up because I couldn't think of anything else to write. Caesar can have what's his for all I care. I don't know how I'm supposed to get ten minutes out of this. About eight years of religious education and four years of Catholic school, and all I can think to write about Caesar is a line from Cuba Gooding, Jr. Brother Ryszard would be so disappointed, I'm sure.

(I had to go look that name up, incidentally. I haven't been back to the school since the summer after graduation. I very much doubt that Brother Ryszard would even remember me.)

I've spent maybe ten minutes writing, or pretending to write, and this is all I have to show for it. The first (and right now only) things that come to mind when I see the word "Caesar" are, in this order: Cuba Gooding, Jr., "I, Claudius", and "Pizza! Pizza!" Squeezing ten minutes out of that isn't easy.

by Fred 4:11 PM

Give to Caesar what is Caesar's.

Matthew 22:
19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.
20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?
21 They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.

by MisterNihil 10:05 AM

{Tuesday, March 23, 2004}

The maps were wrong. Of course, they weren’t really maps at all, not in the traditional sense. They were a combination of star charts and arcane trajectories that predicted the locations of land masses cast out into the ether during the Great Schism that amplified the mundane paradigm. This amplification was of such an extreme nature – far more than anticipated – that it in effect flattened the Earth. Hundreds of years earlier the Earth was of course round, though your typical medieval man wasn’t aware of such as it defied his limited observation. But then the Schism, the result of a best effort on the part of Mage society to cull out the worst possible evil lurking over the horizon. An evil hidden to the minds of mortal man and horrific beyond even his superstitious imaginings. The effects were…unexpected.

Now, some 800 years later the good ship Cloud Runner hung in limbo, caught in the ether between worlds. The land pinpointed by the Celestials, known to the mundane world as a guild of navigators of near cult status, was simply not there. The Cloud Runner found itself in the very antithesis of having run aground. No water lay beneath the ship, no wind to fill the sails and no chance of rescue allowed the crew hope of redemption. The good ship Cloud Runner foundered.

by Shawn 3:43 PM

The notes were hanging on the door of his apartment. They were as distinct as two pieces of paper could be, really, but they said the same thing to his heart.
The first, posted at 9am, was a pink sheet of paper. It was the bottom of triplicate form now separated and bereft of its yellow and white comrades. The unification of the colors amused him on a level below his consciousness and was ignored because of the content. Most of the form was pre-printed; the handwritten portion was in a heavy ball-point. The words "eviction" and "immediate" were the two he looked at first, and the point at which he stopped reading. He didn't even try his key.
The second note was on thick, hand-made paper. The writing on it was in a hand he'd seen many times, and written in a thick-nibbed fountain pen. The letters had flourishes and serifs as only she could do. Her attention to detail knew no bounds. He again only made it through the first line: "I'm leaving you. You need to get a job and clean yourself up."
He took his keys from his pocket, slid the one marked with his apartment number from the ring, and dropped it on the mat.

by MisterNihil 2:17 PM


by Sharon 1:46 PM

{Monday, March 22, 2004}

My head is full of glue.

by Sharon 8:28 AM

{Friday, March 19, 2004}

There are a thousand stories in the naked city. Most of them start with a clever line and the seed of something interesting. The one that walked into my office had both of them and a whole lot more. Her name was 3 Little Pigs, but she went by 3. She had it all: exposition, action and a great ending (if you know what I mean). Or, she used to. That was her problem. As soon as the door to my office closed, out came the waterworks. She'd had her plotline co-opted so many times, she didnt' know if she was a folk or fairy tale. And that wasn't even the worst of it. Some guys named Grimm had moved into town and were collecting stories like they were goin' out of style. She managed to get away but not before two little tarts named Rose Red and Snow White busted her up pretty bad before she got away.
Once she was free of the Grimms' lackies, she went to the only place she knew she could be safe: Disney's, a little joint on the east side of town where word was the gang war took a powder. She'd crashed there for three or four days resting up and avoiding the Grimms, talking to Mickey, the bartender. Then, yesterday, it happened: Walt got a hold of her and messed her up. Changed her ending and spun her off into a franchise that wasn't even recognizable. She ran in a hurry before he could do it again, the she fixed herself up and headed over here.
She wanted me to go collect the spinoffs and the franchise. It's what I do. That's why the door to my office says "Frank Quackers, Literary Agent." I got right on it.

by MisterNihil 1:18 PM

Taking the topic from yesterday and recycling. That'd good for the envoronment, right?
lonely one more time
a go-go

by MisterNihil 1:04 PM

{Thursday, March 18, 2004}


by Fred 3:10 PM

{Wednesday, March 17, 2004}

The last thing he wants to do is be there, at work, sitting in his office. In the morning, he debates calling in sick. It isn't a question of pay; he has something like nineteen sick days piled up. It's that he doesn't want to lie to his boss. Yell at his boss, call him angry names, smash his head against a wall -- sure, but these urges are brief. They pass. He doesn't hate his boss. He doesn't always hate his job. Actually, it's only when he has to do his job that the hate starts to creep in. Most of his time is spent doing other things, biding his time, trying to make the day as productive as possible. He could did this sort of thing at home, he thinks. He would rather be doing this thing at home, most of the time. He tells himself that they won't pay him to stay at home, but even this, he knows, is a lie. They'll pay him for nineteen days of it. Sixteen days of vacation. That's a whole month he could take right there. He'd never be able to okay the vacation time, but sickness is easier to fake. Or so he tells himself some mornings. He knows it isn't quite true. His conscience tells him he should go to work. He tries arguing with it: I'm a little sick, he says. I'm too tired, my stomach's not quite right, I've got this thing that might be an inner-ear infection. It wouldn't really be lying if I called in sick. It would only be a minute or two of, at most, exaggeration: "I'm not feeling very well today. I'm sorry, but I don't think I can make it in today." And then the whole day opens up. He can go back to bed, he can watch tv, he can pretend he'll be productive later in the day. If he goes in to the office, he'll spend most of his time looking for things to do, hoping to avoid others. He'll spend his time writing e-mail or playing games or writing little stories about guys like himself who don't want to go into work in the morning and call in sick. And that's the last thing he wants to do.

by Fred 11:59 PM

The last thing I want to do, and the first thing I ought to do, is go to bed. I have this problem when I'm on the road for work, and it happens every night no matter how much I lecture myself during the day that I won't make the same mistake again that night.

I don't know the cause. It might be reveling in the quiet of a mostly empty hotel, it might be the extra-comfy blankets & supportive pillows, or it might be just knowing that any mess I make will magically disappear in the morning. But I simply cannot bring myself to go to bed at a reasonable hour!

Instead, I find excuses to stay awake. One more magazine article, five more minutes in the bath, just another chapter of my book. For some reason, these hours are never, ever productive ones. (One would think that if my body refused to go to bed, at least it could let me work.)

I don't know why. I just know that evenings in my hotel, or even at a friend's house, the last thing I want to do is to go to bed.

by Faith 11:13 PM

The last thing I want to do? I'd have to say: Be eaten by wolves. Of course in all likelihood the last thing I'm likely to do is turn the wrong way down a one-way street, eat the questionable fish, decide that jump isn't too far, I can make it, look left when I should be looking right, zig when I should've zagged, jump when I should've ducked, or decide I can out run the zombies. In any case I'm raising my own pall-bearers to be me in the ground when I'm an ornery old bastard that knew better but lacked the sense to prove it.

Still, I'd rather be eaten by wolves.

by Shawn 3:14 PM

the last thing you want to do

by Fred 8:47 AM

{Tuesday, March 16, 2004}

Who do you want to be today?

by Fred 2:05 PM

{Monday, March 15, 2004}

Memory is a funny thing, and its long-term version doesn't seem to kick in until we're all about three or four for some reason. It's strange: there's a whole year or two there where we're capable of speech, of reasoning, of thought but only short-term memory. It seems that, almost if not entirely without exception, we lose those things, those years. When we're two, most of our opinions and conversations can be boiled down to a single "No!", but why don't we remember any of that? Do any of you remember what it was like to be two years old? Three? I know I don't.

The first thing I remember with any sort of clarity is the birth of my sister. Or, more exactly, what were probably the days leading up to and right after it. I was just about four years old at the time. My mother was in the hospital. I do not remember her being pregnant. Those nine months are sealed away; they happened before the long-term half of my memory was switched on. I remember spending time with my father. I remember a steak dinner. I remember a trip to the toy store. I remember my aunt coming to babysit while my father was at the hospital. I remember making a banner for my mother, something along the lines of "Welcome back, Mommy!", something to hang on the wall in the living room for when she returned with my sister.

Of course, now that I think about all this, I could be misremembering. There's been some twenty-three years of memories piled on to that, and, like I said, memory is a funny thing. It gets colored by experience, altered. It's a lot more malleable than I think we'd like to admit. These are our memories, we want to think. This is how it happened, at least for me. Except, we remember things differently as we get older. Some memories become less distinct, some more so. All of these memories, certainly, are a little vague. I don't really remember my sister as an infant. To a four-year-old boy, I suspect, baby girls are sort of boring. I remember nursery school, kindergarten, and most everything after that, so the memory chip (if such a thing exists) was certainly turned on. But I recognize that even those memories have changed.

I dunno. Memory is a funny thing. Ten minutes isn't enough time to figure out why.

by Fred 11:59 PM

Let’s see, trip to Niagara Falls when I was six; I don’t really need that anymore since I was there just a couple of years ago. I’ll swap that out for remembering my wife’s social security number. There’s no reason to remember my grandmother’s phone number since she’s been dead for nearly 15 years. I’ll replace that with, um, let’s say the state capitals. I can’t imagine I’ll ever again need to remember how to skin muskrats so I’ll swap that for, wait, no maybe I should hold onto that just in case. I’ve never really bothered holding onto the names and faces of the people I went to school with so I can’t do much with that. Hmmm, oh wait, there was that part-time job I had at the department store I can get rid of. I’ll exchange that for remembering the names of trees and plants in the North West.

The real problem is that so much of what I want to store requires way more space than I can free up without dumping something I may want to use again in the future. Like Hawking’s new book. I mean, I need to delete some major stuff from my childhood to make room for retaining even half of that. And new software. There’s always new software. I guess I could kill off memories of out of print comic book characters, their secret identities and all that but, I dunno, I just can’t bring myself to lose that.

Damnit, maybe if I defragged or stored some stuff off-site. After all, I have these two kids with nice, fresh, mostly empty minds, I could back up some of the dorky stuff like comic books and science on Garrison and the out door and auto repair stuff on Declan, then I’d have room to read The Theory Of Everything.

by Shawn 8:51 PM

a childhood memory

by Faith 8:07 AM

{Friday, March 12, 2004}


by Fred 2:16 PM

{Thursday, March 11, 2004}

I was once told that if you take the phrase "struck dumb" and run it through an electronic English-to-Russian translator and back again, you wind up with the phrase "beaten senseless." I don't know if that's true -- and my own limited attempts to duplicate it haven't met with much success -- but I want it to be true. There's just something so absurdly right about it, something that's always appealed to my sense of humor and sense of how the universe ought to work.

Just for kicks, I decided to run what I've just written through an online translator, first into Russian and then back into English. The results are this:

"To me once spoke, that if you take a phrase, " has struck not mine " and operated it through the electronic translator of English - jazyka-russkomu and back again, you lead up with a phrase " hackneyed senseless. " I do not know, whether have met it the truth - and my own limited attempts to duplicate it the big success - but I want, that it was true. There is only something so ridiculously direct about it, something, that it always addressed to my sense of humour and sense of how the universe should work."

It's perplexing, all right. Put not your faith in electronic translation devices. The results they give you may be hackneyed senseless, which can never be good. The results most certainly won't be in English. Run it through a couple more times, and you might think it's already in Russian.

by Fred 6:25 PM


by Fred 1:49 PM

{Wednesday, March 10, 2004}


Narrator (V.O.): Say, kids! Has this ever happened to you?

Billy: Gee, I can't wait to see what Mom packed me for lunch today!

He opens the bag.

Billy: Aw! A cheese sandwich?!

Narrator (V.O.): Tired of the same old boring cheese sandwiches?

Billy nods.

Narrator (V.O.): Then try new "Monster in a Box", the only brand-name lunch snack that comes complete with a terrifying rampaging monster inside every box!

A box with "Monster in a Box" written on it appears magically on the table in front of Billy.

Billy: Wow!

Narrator (V.O.): Wow is right, Billy! That's new Monster in a Box --

As Billy eagerly opens it, a large hairy paw reaches out and grabs him. It tries to pull him back into the box.

Narrator (V.O.): -- and from the looks of it, this one's Werewolf-Flavored!

Billy: Thanks, Monster in a Box! This sure beats that lame cheese sandwich!

He continues to struggle with the paw as the narrator speaks. Blood begins to spurt. A crowd of teachers and students begin to gather.

Narrator (V.O.): That's new Monster in a Box. Now in Werewolf, Frankenstein, and new Shub-Niggurath flavors! You won't have time to worry about Mom's cheese sandwiches when you've got Monster in a Box.

Coach: Oh my god! I think Billy's dead!

Narraotr (V.O.) New Monster in a Box: It's what's eating you!


by Fred 11:59 PM

The coolest college class I ever had was Integrated Arts 5 Honors, taught by Professor Rock'n'Roll Kelly, who earned his moniker well. So well, in fact, that I brought friends to his lectures more than once, simply so they could hear his stories and his ideas. When Dr. Kelly talked about Shakespeare, he would start, "Now I've done 'Romeo and Juliets'..." When he talked about movies, "So, I was having lunch with Laurence Olivier, and..." I learned to like modern dance in his class; I saw and understood La Boheme; I can tell you that Philip Glass made the soundtrack for Koyaanisqatsi before Godfrey Reggio made the visuals.

He showed Swimming to Cambodia, and I was hooked.

Talking about his experiences in acting in The Killing Fields and visiting Cambodia, Spalding Gray taught me history and geography. Just by talking, sitting there with his glass of water and his microphone, he made me laugh 'til my sides ached. He made me think.

Monster in a Box was more neurotic. It gave me a perspective on writing in which the passion of the work could become greater than the creator--and even overtake him. This resonated with the writer in me.

On stage, finally seeing him live, Morning, Noon, and Night was charming. I felt esoteric for recognizing NPR's Morning Edition theme. I was inspired by the image of a family filling its days with art instead of drudgery. And I was entertained.

Spalding Gray is gone, and I am sad not so much because he won't make more monologues, but because he felt so lost and, I assume, underappreciated that he killed himself. I wish I could have told him: "I value you. Please live."

by Sharon 12:59 PM

Monster in a box

by Shawn 12:31 PM

{Tuesday, March 09, 2004}

"Write this story or we'll shoot this dog."

by Fred 7:48 AM

{Monday, March 08, 2004}

"What kind of music do you play?"

"Mostly real rock, that sort of thing. For awhile we were really into solipsistic death metal. You know, the whole 'the self is the only thing that can be known and verified so hail Satan' kind of thing? But that sorta fell through when Jimmy quit and Jody got married. So now it's mostly real rock."

"Which is what exactly?"

"Oh, you know. It sort of emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regarding human existence as an unexplainable and almost random occurence, while simultaneously stressing freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one's actions. While at the same time, y'know, sounding real cool and getting us chicks."

"So you're existentialists then?"

"I don't know. We don't like labels, man. Sure, there's this whole Jean-Paul Sartre meets Green Day by way of Public Enemy and Martin Heidegger thing going on with some of our early stuff, but I think we've got a really unique sound going for us."

"But none of you play any instruments."

"Well, yeah. We're keeping it real, man. Sure, we could go out and get all these fancy guitar lessons, learn to play the drums or the piano or whatever, but then we wouldn't be staying true to the essential core of who we are."

"Which is?"

"Lazy white guys who wanna score with chicks."

by Fred 11:59 PM

It was the stuff of legend, or at least, Dwarven legend. The stuff from which anything could be made and made well. It was the Holy Grail of dwarven metallurgy - the most purely magical of all material - it was called True Earth, Prime Ore and a host of other names. Lucatuk’s people called it Real Rock.

There were any number of legends surrounding it’s origins. The Grey Mountain Clan insisted that when the giants stole Vlanderick Iron Hand’s hammer they hid it away for 100 years and one day beneath the Grey Mountain and that the rock in which it lay was imbued with the hammer’s, called Jouricmea, magical powers. This rock was stolen away by lesser dwarves and taken to far away places.

The Wootenseers claimed the material owes it’s origins to the third formation of the world when Calligmulk The Father slew the Great Drake for the final time and plucked from it the heart, cold as iron and the size of a mountain. This he crushed in his mighty hands, breathed upon it and from this the core of the world was formed. Still other clans hold to other tales each as fantastical as the last. The truth was any dwarf’s guess, but, one thing none disputed was that over the centuries the finest swords, axes, armors and shields were made of this rarest of elements.

Lucatuk looked down at the glimmering ore laying warm and vibrating in his open hand. It seemed to light the cave and one could fancy a heartbeat echoing from the walls. This was the stuff of legend. This was the life blood of Dwarven kings. To hold this heart of the world was to know the earth in a way deeper and more profoundly than ever before imagined. Lucatuk tucked the fist-size piece of ore into his pouch with great care and respect, flipped on his anti-grav pack, activated his full spectrum goggles and sped for the surface. There were of course thousand year old laws in the Under Dark prohibiting the ownership, possession or transport of Real Rock and any information pertaining to it’s possible whereabouts was to be reported immediately to the Elder Council. Lucatuk smiled, he intended to make the greatest battle suit dwarfkind had ever seen.

by Shawn 11:59 PM

real rock

by Sharon 9:36 AM

{Friday, March 05, 2004}

"What happens when you press this button?"
Sara walked over to the console and looked intently at the biggest button on it. The red, candylike button. The button that called to her in a dozen languages and that pulled her bodily to it and asked, no begged to be pressed.
"Oh, that's the coffee-maker button. It starts or stops the coffee maker," Rebecca said, dryly.
The allure was gone.
"What about this one, the little black one that says 't?'"
Like a bug, it fascinated yet repulsed her. She wanted to press it but not to touch it. She wanted to find a stick and stab at it until it stopped calling her. 'Press me, press me' it intoned. She felt a shiver along her back.
"That's the new topic button. If you press that, the whole premise of the fiction falls down around our ears. We'd be dead, only worse. It would be like we never existed."
The button called to her. People couldn't just stop being, all of a sudden like that, just because a button was pressed. She looked intently at it and felt absently in her pocket. There was, indeed, her accustomed pen. This she removed and idly moved it closer to the button.
Rebecca yelled. "No! Don't Do that!" but it was too late.
Time Had Run Out

Once, in a meadow in the hills of Mongolia, there lived a shepherd. He had friends and relatives who often dropped by, but his favorite was his yearly visit from Father Time...

by MisterNihil 9:29 AM

{Thursday, March 04, 2004}

"When you press this button, the world will explode." She smiled politely.

"And this is the Xerox machine," she continued. "You'll need to punch in the copy code before you program each job, but otherwise it's pretty self-explanatory. There's extra paper and toner in the supply cabinets if you need it, and either Sally or Jim next door should be able to help. If you have any questions --"

"Well," he said. He wasn't entirely sure how to put this. He didn't want to seem stupid his first day on the job. "I do have one question. Um, explode?"

"Hmm?" she said. "Oh yes, that's right. The button. The world explodes if you press it. So, um, try not to, okay?"

She smiled and turned to go.

"It's just," he said. "It's just I've never heard of a button that makes the world explode before."

"Well the world's never exploded before."

"No, that's not what I meant. It's --"

"Oh I see. I guess we just assumed you'd had button experience." She frowned, eying first him then the button. She shrugged. "Oh well. Nothing to it. Just, you know, don't push it."

"Or the world explodes?"

"That's right. Poof. Gone." Again she shrugged.

"Isn't it dangerous?" he asked. "Having a button like that?"

"Only if you press it," she said. She eyed her watch. "Well I think we're all set here. Again, if you have any questions, just ask Sally or Jim and they'll set you right. It was good meeting you, Todd."


"Right. Well, best of luck and just, you know, don't press the button."

"I'll try not to."

"Terrific," she said. She hurried out the door.

Ted stood in the small office, staring at the small red button on the wall above the copy machine. He turned and eyed the door. Hmm, he thought with a shrug. Why not?

He pressed the button.

by Fred 11:59 PM

What happens when I press these buttons?

  • A thought creeps out into the world, shakes its sleepy head and clambors off to create trouble.

  • Contact is made, mind-to-mind, with people I respect, people I love, people I miss, people who make me angry.

  • I am lulled by the sound of my own inner voice, wooed by the brilliance of my ideas.

  • A rhythm of information, different from speech, rattles into the air and joins hundreds of other rattling voices.

  • Requests are communicated, evaluated, debated, completed. Work is accomplished.

  • Bombshells are dropped. Messages are missed. Meanings are misconstrued.

  • Ten minutes are spent.

by Sharon 11:59 PM

What happens when you press this button?

by Fred 1:54 PM

{Wednesday, March 03, 2004}

Am I allowed to say "sex with Jon" and leave it at that?

by Sharon 6:23 PM

The B-man is travelin', so Faith sends us:
Describe the best thing that's happened to you this week.

by Sharon 8:30 AM

{Tuesday, March 02, 2004}

Gigi's gowns always have such an amazing texture, don't you think?

I wouldn't know; I'm too captivated by her face.

You have a point. The sans of time move more slowly for her.

She throws great parties, too. I'm always kerning for the next one.

I'd like to go with you sometime, if it wouldn't be too bold.

Why, I just received an invitation yesterday, by courier.

Do you indent to accept?

I'm not sure if the times are convenient. I'll be serif I can be.

I don't know if I'll fit in. Gigi's so upper case.

There is justice, you know. She's a terrible conversationalist.


Yes, just a font of useless knowledge.

by Sharon 10:02 PM


by Shawn 12:08 PM

{Monday, March 01, 2004}

I've been trying to remember why I went looking for this. It's a nice poem, I think. It's not what I was thinking of when I suggested "orange" as a topic this morning, but I was thinking about it only recently, thinking I ought to go and see if it was still online -- I first read it I don't know how many years ago, back when its author still kept an online journal which I liked -- except I can't remember why.

Or, rather, I couldn't remember why half a minute ago. Now I can, and I realize it wasn't anything so special. I was simply thinking about colors, trying for some reason to think of songs and poems about colors. Karawynn Long's poem is the only one I know written specifically about "orange".

But that's neither here nor there. I suggested "orange", I guess, because I got a new cable modem this morning -- the technician who replaced it seemed genuinely surprised I was still using an out-dated relic -- and there's an orange light on the front of this new one. And when I wrote about the new modem on my weblog this morning -- because that's what passes for excitement in my life -- I mentioned that the light was orange, and the word got stuck in my head.

There are worse words to get stuck there.

by Fred 3:45 PM

When I sit quiet--in the gray hour before the night yields us up to the morning, in the rare calm of silence when the neighbors upstairs and to the side and in the parking lot all stop to breathe in at once, in the toilet--I can hear it. Blood, pushing through my eardrums. Blood, pulsing through my head. I can hear it.

In those moments, I can hold my hand up to a light, and see it, orange, through the webbing between my fingers and, purple, behind my fingernails. I'm full of blood, and I can feel it moving.

I can feel it bending tiny cilia inside my veins--pushing, pulsing, pumping, driving. I can feel it running out to every inch of me and dashing back in, to pool behind my sternum. I am full of blood.

I think there may be too much. That's why I can feel it. That's why I can hear it. Too much, too full. All running and flowing and pushing. Too much.

I think, perhaps, I should let just a little--a very little--out.

by Sharon 1:26 PM


by Fred 9:27 AM


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