I woke up in a strange place

By Marc Heiden, since 1997.
See also: a novel about a monkey.

March 28, 1998 Thunder (my cat) and I are continuing to get along just great, but he's really got to learn to adjust to my sleep schedule. if we chase each other around the apartment all night, I will not be minty fresh come morning because I don't get to take the sporadic half-hour naps that he does. I ended up not getting any sleep on Friday night, partially because he started making noise right as I was dozing off, but at least he bravely solved the mystery of the big empty box in my closet once and for all.

it's funny, during the rain storm, I think I found the lightning and the noise more surprising than he did.

anyway. I'd been planning on spending the last half of spring break in isolation, memorizing lines for the three (count 'em, three) different theater things that I'm doing in April (there's a fourth, but it's for Shakespeare class and I can read the lines off a paper if I like). one of those three is actually two: Potted Meat has two shows in April, the long awaited road show and a semester wrap-up. whee. I'm really proud of the three sketches I wrote for the final show. hm. seem to have slipped off on a tangent. well, the story ends like this: as of saturday morning, at least, I had not really done anything. where did the time go? I spent most of Friday night drumming at a party. I've spent most of the week in general on wheels. rollerbladed around the deserted campus at 4am on a thursday night, an experience I won't soon forget. the cemetary. I know it's been around since the 20's, perhaps even before that. I'm not sure. what a jarringly authentic place in the middle of this arena of the plasticine, though. I hadn't really ever gone out there, since it's way out just beyond the fringes of the fringes of the far end of campus furthest away from all living things save swine and cows. it's so neat, though. so real. perfectly creepy. I wanted to go in (it's rather large, too) but I figured that it was somehow illegal to do so at that hour and didn't. I sort of wish I had. maybe I will some time. it'd be interesting to spend a night there. MADMAN? whatever.

there's something fascinating about this, having been up all night and having sat up writing things with the massive storm as an influence and now typing this in the last few minutes before I have to rollerblade off to the radio station to do my engineering bit with the brightest sun I've seen in quite a long time staring at me through the window (I used to keep the shades closed at pretty much all times, but now I keep one half-open for Thunder to stare out of and talk jive with the neighborohood birds). does it mean anything? not really, just that I'll have a dry surface to do my rolling upon. but it's interesting in a vague sort of way, watching an extreme pass into another in less than two hours.

my aunt Chrissy out in california, one of a teeny tiny handful of cool people to whom I am related, gave birth to her first child (a boy) last night. another intelligent person has been brought into the world. how good. to quote the pure passionate poetic stylings of Steve Chan, "Let us all wish each and every one of them the best of luck with their future."

it's later on in the afternoon now. I rolled around, pressed play, pressed stop, pulled up M M1 and M2, and rolled around some more. I received an awesome surprise upon arrival at the station - not only had the new Pulp album come in (a couple days ahead of release in stores, but I'd been expecting it), but there was also a brand new four song sampler from Tori Amos's new album which isn't due out until May. how cool is that? this is the first time in my radio career that one (two) of my favorite bands has released stuff I've been looking forward to before it hit stores - there's been a few bands that I've gotten into because I listened to their new album at the station, but none that I'd been really waiting for. does that make sense? well, it does to me. so nyah. (oh, and the four songs are ACE!)

Thunder's really got to get used to people walking on the stairs outside.

there ought to be a law about what music frat houses can play. in fact, there ought to be a law preventing them from doing it at all. some things I just can't listen to anymore because of them...

spring break's a day away from its inevitable end. dispassionate papers to write, conference on the elimination of racist mascots (see the PAR link) in less than a week. shows, voices. at the end of it all, me and a cat. rock on.

March 26, 1998 I really have to go somewhere one of these spring breaks. low (read: complete lack of) income or not. since the "have your parents pay for marc's vacation too!" fund never really worked out, I remain Illinois-bound for the 20th straight year. how unfestive and generally uncool of me to be without a financial support network. alright. enough class-based whining. I had been planning on doing something irrational like driving to South Dakota, but the Cradle moves no more. next year. so it goes, so it goes.

as far as my spring breaks go, it's been just fine though. I went to Chicago for the weekend and came back with a cat. Thunder is an 8 year old male tabby. he likes long walks down the hall, licking plates by candlelight, and aspires to rid the world of bugs. he also likes to wrestle with me and usually wins. we both lived at my mother's apartment, he having been my little brother's cat, and we both developed a general sense of dissatisfaction there and since my mother is moving into a condo of gold this summer he seized the opportunity to leave and move in with me. (I'm not sure if he knows yet that I need him to pay this month's rent.)

out of fairness to Chuck, though, since Chuck takes a lot of crap from me, here is a list of reasons why Chuck was a better roommate:
- Chuck did not take baths in public.
- Chuck did not lick the inside of the container of Cheez Wiz/Eazy Cheeze without eating it.
- Chuck slept on top of his bed, not underneath it.
- Chuck preferred to use his head for material science homework instead of bumping my head.
- Chuck did not jump up onto furniture. he didn't make many sudden movements in general.

as I write this, Thunder is contemplating a leap unto the final frontier: the microwave, atop the refrigeraor. and he just backed off, headed for some more cheez wiz (why haven't I put that away yet?).

watched a bit of the Oscars. they turned out alright, I suppose. I added a quick summary to the end of the Oscars rant, now in the Archives. (since they went so utterly unpublicized, I figured you'd need my page to find out the results.)

these local church TV commercials are unfair. it is impossible to express in writing exactly how funny they are. I just saw one that began like an anti-drunk driving ad (guy on a respirator), but at the last second veered off with a flashback to the guy telling his friend that he "didn't have time for all of that Jesus stuff". then, in the present, he dies! then he wakes up and it turns out it was all a dream! wowza! I almost rushed out of the door to the Harvest Church, but then I continued to sit on the couch and things turned out the same.

new Busta Rhymes video is pretty cool.

hey Katy, don't read past this line until after you've written your review of "Girlfriend in a Coma".
ok. so, I bought Douglas Coupland's above-mentioned book, his latest. purchases like this are why I do not eat much or go anywhere. I did wait a week, though, which is something. anyway, here is a quick capsule of my feelings on it:
I was blown away by it. due to work and diverted focus, I hadn't finished an entire novel since last summer. I read the first 20 pages of this on the day I bought it and stayed up the entire night reading the next 280 some pages. I couldn't put it down. the characters were drawn with an emotional depth deeper than anything he's ever achieved before, and the novel simultaneously rooted itself strikingly vividly in a period of time but also did so relying upon less ephemeral pop culture references than any of his other work to date. this was not an easy book to read in an emotional sense. it hurts. it's genuinely heartbreaking. it's also marvelously unpredictable (especially when taking his other books into account). the second half of the book comes from far out in nowhere. and it's brilliant.
it has the soul searching depth of "Life After God" and the character interplay of "Microserfs". Katy (Hi!) quoted me once as saying that "it feels as though every page has some grand idea behind it." I always came away from his books with a sense that something profound had been said but I couldn't quite articulate it. with this book, the philosophy is at once deeper and clearer. I know exactly what this book was saying. it's my favorite kind of book, the kind of thing that I try to write too, the kind of book that was written to remind the lost mad children of the world that they are not alone. so-called friends walk away when the vision gets uncomfortable, but books like this are there to keep you on your feet and take your hand for a little bit of the way.

so that's all. cheers.

March 15, 1998 if you want to, you can find meaningful signs of the passage of time all over the place. (cue Madonna, "This Used To Be My Playground") I baked cookies again this weekend and the armada of ingredients assembled at the beginning of the year, a mighty group who have held together through literally countless batches of cookies and brownies, have begun to pass away. the brown sugar is gone. it was the first to go. second were the oats. the vanilla is on its last legs - it may not even make it through the next batch. they were a great bunch of ingredients and I'll miss them. how long before the flour passes, I wonder? the sugar? the shortening doesn't have much left. it's so hard to say goodbye. and of my original food stock that I came into this apartment with, only the freaky-ass instant mashed potatoes are left. and even they have only a serving or two remaining. nothing is immutable. everything changes. goodbye, old friends. goodbye.

this rant is prelude to the next paragraph, so be patient. as a general rule, I don't think very highly of vanity license plates. it indicates that there's something wrong about you if anything truly relevant can be said about you in a seven letter alpha-numeric combination. it also indicates something off about you if, should you somehow stumble upon something true to your inner self that happens to fit, the place you decide to announce it is on the back of your car to hundreds of strangers each day. and finally, given how many good CDs and books there are that you do not own, if the message on the vanity plate is not actually all that epic a piece of self-revelation, you are a dumb vapid moron if the vanity plate is what you choose to spend your money on instead. (corollary to that, if you have so much money that it doesn't matter, screw you. you will be first against the wall when the day comes.)

now, having said all that, although 99% of vanity plates appear really rather stupid to a casual observer who doesn't know the person driving the car, occasionally you find yourself behind one that it's really just a privelege to be near. like over the summer I found myself behind "FOOD". and on friday I was out walking and passed by "SASSEE". there's a strange sort of beauty to it.

true in a literal sense, part one:
did you know that graham crackers were invented to "quell masturbatory urges"? a bit strange, to say the least, but true. kind of makes you wonder what the milk and honey that go along with them are for. "now with added anti-atheist anti-communist flavor power!"

(I said "in a literal sense" because everything on this website is true. just not in the same way. but I wouldn't lie to you, lover. unless it was true.)

by the way, shout-outs to Ann, Eric, Joe, and tha Trupedawg for putting on a damn good production of "All In the Timing", a series of short plays by David Ives. I was entertained, and it usually takes at least a paper clip to entertain me, so good work. (somehow, that didn't come out right. but it really was a great show...)

I attended a workshop on doing indoor security for conferences, speeches, and rallies today. why do I tell you this? fair warning. if y'all be disturbing my conferences, I'm fully licensed to fuck y'all up. the art of the beatdown flows from my fingertips like muthaphukkin' Shakespeare. so be cool.

rather proud of myself - I checked my new music urges by paying for a bunch of new CDs with old ones. CD Inquisition Part Three: This Time, Not Even One Hit Can Save You resulted in the departure of ten CDs from my now even-tighter collection of 250 or so. five new ones came in and only cost $11.88 in cash with the results from the Inquisition. how pleasing.

true in a literal sense, part two:
apparently there's a car salesman out in california named Al Nino and he's been getting a lot of phone calls from people who blame him for the weather.

stop the presses. (cue tracks 4 and 5 on Radiohead's "OK Computer") I had this update ready to go and then Rob called. "I can jump your car now if you want me to", he said. I did. the battery's been a bit off lately and needs a jump every couple weeks to work. so we went out. hooked everything up. to no avail. the problem was much more serious than we thought. the cradle is in a coma. this is it. it has survived 17,000 miles past an accident that would have taken out most cars and a over a year since the raining bumpers accident, an accident that almost killed me and is still being fought over in court. (Illinois Founders Insurance, Maurice Hall, Mordini and Schwartz, I HOPE THAT YOU CHOKE.) 8,000 miles past all possibility, it has continued to carry me through ecstasy and through hell, ever unquestioning, never whining and bleating for credit. and now I don't think my baby is coming back. the first and only home I've ever known, host to more than a couple nights when I had nowhere else to go, my baby's journey is finally done. the plug hasn't been pulled yet. but it was in the air. and that can't be denied. goodnight, cradle. I love you. rest in peace.

March 12, 1998 somewhat major news in the Trial of the Millenium - the arbitration date between me and Maurice Hall (the man who sheds bumpers like dandruff) has been set for April 30th. the case is now well over a year old. that it took five months after the end of the discovery period to get the date for the preliminary session set is a somewhat underwhelming testament to the glory of the American judicial system. still, at least this is progress. if all continues to move at this rate, assuming that nothing is settled during the arbitration (and if they've dragged this insane mess out this long, I doubt that they're ready to give in now), I'd imagine that the trial will be in August. meanwhile, my poor car keeps giving me these hurt puppy looks. it's had enough. blergh. if I see one more article about some dick winning hundreds of thousands of dollars for mental damages from some executive who insulted his tie, and I still can't get the four thousand dollars I want for almost being killed by this idiot's bumper falling off in the middle of the road, there's gonna be trouble. big trouble. (for new readers, the full story of what I'm going on about here is in the daily update archives. click the blue head. whee.)

speaking of things falling from nowhere (smooth, marc! smooth!), it snowed again, in a big way. or, more accurately, it iced. all over the place. traction is a myth and my car's in deep slumber until the world thaws. man. midway through march. that el nino's a bad mother-- shut yo mouth! just talkin' 'bout el nino! we can dig it! it's a complicated weather pattern, see, and no one understands it but a bunch of meteorology freaks. anyway, yeah, so it's bat-shit cold and I'm more or less stranded without provisions - I'm almost out of food and my car's dead and since I keep getting the sneaking suspicion that there's something not quite right about having to pay ten dollars for milk at the convenience store, I'm stuck with some frightening meal choices. the sliced cheese and bread finally disappeared today. there's about a quarter cup of milk, some instant mashed potatoes, water chestnuts (!), cheez-wiz, and what appears to be an unlimited supply of ramen (that, at least, I'm never caught without. although frankly it's not quite the taste sensation that it used to be).

this page would like to now issue a public apology to its readers for the Chuck humor in the last edition. as long-time readers know, Chuck jokes are about as daring as Bob Dole Is Old jokes. we who are lost like this are dedicated to so much more. so we're sorry. if people are getting the wrong impression from such activities, that deep down I'm not a Chuckfan, they are making a mistake. Chuck is a longtime fiend. in fact, there are few greater fiends to me and to this page than Chuck. so I hope that clears up any lingering confusion. but I'm still thinking about getting some cats. and Chuck still better stay out of my damn cookies. if I ever get any more.

I was up all last night aimlessly thinking about writing a social theory paper. didn't get much done (ended up screwing around until it was time to go to my first class, coming home afterwards and kicking the thing out in the hour between classes). I have another midterm right away that I've yet to take. much as I like the people teaching the class, the subject material of this survey course through the first quarter of literature produced in America can bite my butt. how's that for an eloquent rebuttal? no interest. no love. hey, bulldog!

slug's adventures, part one:
for those of you not acquainted with him, slug is my dear next door neighbor. he is quite tall, not thin, wears glasses and has brown hair, thus filling the quota for people fitting that description who live near me. I've never really talked to him aside from the time I couldn't get the smoke alarm to stop ringing and I asked him for help. anyway, the development is: I think slug has a lady friend. I've been seeing more and more candle-lit dinners going on through the shades when I walk by his window, and I even heard a female voice in there once. go, slug! the slugster had a party in there on saturday night and may or may not be responsible for the power going out in the building on sunday morning, thus erasing my phone message opus "Sinners In the Hands of an Angry Answering Machine". consarn it. but yay slug anyway.

and now, the sound of a giraffe asking for a milkshake.

March 7, 1998 although I haven't yet gone to sleep and thus the day hasn't changed, this would according to cold hard math appear to be the day of my fourth (wow...) display of comedic verve with the rest of Potted Meat. this is an abbreviated show, since we're performing with other people; a little over half of our normal length. pretty good material for the show. I wrote my usual "if this fails, it's going to fail hard, but if it works..." sketch gambit. that's the way I roll. come see. or, alternatively, sit around at some guy's house, watch movies and drink liquor that some other guy bought for you. supposedly that's pretty cool to do too. I wouldn't know. I'm pretty lame like that. I don't have any cool hangovers to show for my time, just performances and words. sucks to be me.

fun things to see and do on this website: a couple new entries on the critics page. see the entries that people left in my "guestbook" before the media exposure garnered from their appearance on my page launched them to superstardom. then toss the dice and leave your own! or, alternatively, sit around at some guy's...oh, wait, I did that bit already. also check out the links page - freshly cleaned up and recalibrated, with a few brand new links to boot. of particular notice to connossieurs should be the Toshi Station, a blindingly hilarious example of how to take obsession (in this case, with Star Wars) in GOOD directions (as opposed to, say, criticizing members of your peer group for misplaced prepositions in their renditions of Monty Python songs). of extra special interest to anyone who likes this here page at all should be Not Elvis's page - gobsmackingly brilliant, of the same "AVANT-GARDE as FUCK!" anti-whitey philosophy as mine and one of the most original pages on the web. damn good stuff. (I make an appearance in the "I hate not elvis" section - I don't hate not elvis, of course. it has to do with the Gigantic Hawaiian Guy's Head, aka Manuel Pampo, who also appears on my critics page, affair.)

I've been thinking a lot about getting cats lately. I want at least two. life would be pretty much perfect if I had some cats around. cats would be much better than, say, Chuck. sure, they both walk around without shirts a whole lot more than they ought to, but it's OK when a cat does it. they have an excuse. and cats aren't as hopelessly "SCREWED!" as Chuck is, so they don't feel compelled to tell you about it daily. and when a cat does have a problem, you have a better chance of understandingwhy they're screwed, unlike Chuck, who will be the first to tell you that you have no idea and are incapable of understanding how screwed he is. also, cats don't take silly majors like "material science". they're much more dignified than that. hey, everybody, send me your reasons why cats are better than Chuck. whee. stick it to him!

take-home exams, Green Giant veggie burgers, the long-awaited return of my jar of cheez-wiz from seth bender's clutches.
erratic sleep patterns, the sexual organs of every single person in Washington DC, disciplinary policies for tardiness.

March 4, 1998 this is another one of those stupid cases where I had an update sitting on my computer and forgot that I hadn't actually uploaded it. so here's delayed gratification against a black backdrop.

it's funny, you know. Harry Caray and I would be out together, living it up like the two wildmen we were, and every once in awhile, late at night when the moon was the entire sky, there's be one of those silences. he'd look at me and say "Marc, you're a good kid." and I'd smile. and he'd say "ahh, christ, an old man like me, I'll never live to see your twentieth birthday." I'd laugh and tell him to knock it off, and then Henny Youngman would come by and bring us both some peanuts. that's what it was, back in the day. and now it's just me. ahh, christ. don't look so stressed out. it's only a lifetime.

"you look like the Crow today." second time in as many weeks that someone said that. this time, no makeup needed to do the trick. weird. although the bullet wound in my chest probably had a bit to do with it.

you could tell them by the fading ashen marks upon their foreheads. they really did come out in full force this year, much moreso than any of my two previous years here in C-U. for those of us whose religion is in no particular organization, lent is still an ace time for resolutions. strengthen your discipline, become a better person. me, I'm giving up airline terrorism for lent. how about you? the stone roses are the only thing keeping me from constant reminders of the maintenance people outside. it was my turn yesterday. gee whiz, am I ever excited about the new trimming for my apartment door that they're installing! I'll be the envy of the entire door club. didn't mind forfeiting my sleep-in day at all.

was relieved to see a halfway decent episode of "South Park" for the first time in awhile last week, although frankly they're still way off form. the only one of the four recent new ones that I really liked was the Damien one for its extended focus on Pip, and even that one was kind of flat. I could rant about what I think they need to do to save the show (yes it may sound as if I'm being premature, but unless things change, everyone else will be speaking these words in six months). but who's listening?

in the sense that I am still beset by mild sniffles and coughing, this fucking cold is in its 14th day now. it's nothing extreme, though. it didn't impair RMOL's "14th Show EXTRAVAGANZA!!!" at all, which was a merry three hours of me happily screaming incoherently into the microphone. avant-garde as fuck, that's me.

rampaging self-absorption with a high of 85, cooling by evening with a storm front of helpless maniacal determination and an occasional low. state extended satellite forecast: Potted Meat in abridged but tight form saturday (the 7th), moving in a southerly direction sometime in early april for a show somewhere down there. radio(activity) will continue unabated until either the FCC take action or the music director kills the DJ. rumors of a potential reprise to philly if the right vehicle can be found (!). or so eamon 'n dave tell our accu-whatever team.

chances of sweet love by the fire: 100%.

I woke up in a strange place is the work of Marc Heiden, born in 1978, author of two books (Chicago, Hiroshima) and some plays, and an occasional photographer.

Often discussed:

Antarctica, Beelzetron, Books, Chicago, College, Communism, Food, Internet, Japan, Manute Bol, Monkeys and Apes, North Korea, Oregon Trail, Outer Space, Panda Porn, Politics, RabbiTech, Shakespeare, Sports, Texas.


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Written by Marc Heiden, 1997-2011.