I woke up in a strange place

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

April 26, 1998 slowly returning to a state of non-business. Potted Meat is at rest for the semester, the first week of "Requiem for a Heavyweight" is past. I could babble about a whole mess of papers that remain to be done, but who cares about my schoolwork? I know I don't. since the opening round of the Trial of the Millenium was delayed until august 17th (grr), my attention turns to other things for now, like that UIUC is trying to push me out of the door already (since I've now got more credit hours than a typical graduating senior would). they don't seem to realize that I've hardly even started my anthropology degree, let alone the dozen or so others that I plan to graduate with. I'll leave when I'm ready so bugger off, ok? wankers.

I wish the cats would take care of their own litter box. I don't ask them to clean mine.

so, yeah, plays went up and went well. phrases like "quite good" were associated with the premiere of "Requiem for a Heavyweight", and I got a couple of compliments from some old ladies (and even a couple of people who weren't old ladies). I thought it was a bit rough, personally, but it's in good position to go well next weekend (which is when the bulk of our performances take place). during a quick fight scene I got my left pinky stomped on hard and don't have a good deal of feeling in the fingertip, so please do not email me asking me to save the world with my left pinky fingertip because I'm just not going to be able to. (you are, however, free to start a millenial cult around the resurrection of feeling in my fingertip). another unpleasant bit was discovering while onstage and while pretending to take a sip from it that there was actual beer in the beer bottle that my character was drinking out of. blowing a chance for a good spit-take, I just winced and swallowed it. god damn, I hate the taste of beer. a lot. I mean, not only do I loathe alcohol on principle, I just hate the taste of most of the stuff that contains it. and man, I hate beer. on the bright side, however, the taste of the beer did serve to piss me off and get me in a good and irritated mood for the rest of the scene. it's all part of the ethic:

"when life gives you lemons, peg a clown in the head with one."

Potted Meat show was quite simply the best of the entire year. rocked hard. yeah!

my cats are happy. after a rough patch, Thunder and Orbital have reached an agreement based as far as I can tell on their mutual antipathy towards Orbital's tail. Thunder gives the kid baths (he has a talent for that sort of thing. he'd make millions off of it if he were human) and Orbital stays out of Thunder's stuff. they seem to regard my apartment as their fortress - they keep vigilant watch on the windows and go on patrols. it's kind of weird.

the episode of "South Park" on the 22nd pretty much marked its death knell, I think. I'm tired of the subject so I won't go into details, but the last episode consisted of a couple of bright bits trapped in newly dumbed-down sludge. I think they'll keep trying but when the entire world didn't get the joke of the "cartman's father" thing and they were forced by the networks to bow to that, that's where the last bit of soul went out the window. it's got like two years left (unless something dramatic changes). a credit-card company on campus was offering bootleg South Park tshirts (cartman in green with the hilarious mis-spelling "carman") to get people to sign up.

ever notice that more than 4/5ths of all commercials use the same tired, stupid, unfunny joke? person wants material possession so badly that person will perform irrational act(s) to obtain/retain it. ha. ha. ha. blah. blah. blah. it ain't a joke anymore, it's an ideology and it sucks shit. (on the other hand, the Georghe Muresan "Snickers" commercial rocks.)

I had a rant about sweatshop labor that I wanted to do, but I think I'll leave it for some other time and just relax here, letting the rather pleasant smell of grass and distant barbecues on a warm sunny day drift through the open window.


(more later.)

April 18, 1998 sometimes the whole point of a warm sunny day is to sit inside and stare at it through the window.

Orbital, a manic orange eight-week old kitten, arrived two days ago and immediately took bold measures towards dealing with the on-going issue of his own tail. he hasn't yet settled it, but he wants you to know that he's still after it. (actually what he typed was something along the lines of "=-iu5/" when he walked across the keyboard, but you know...) Thunder, my other cat, reacted pretty much the way anyone would have reacted to the sight of a crazed midget doing backflips. things are going alright so far. Orbital doesn't sleep past 6am and doesn't allow anyone else to, but since I've had to be up early for the last couple days anyway it hasn't yet become a problem. cute little guy, though. we're madly in love. Thunder is less than thrilled by the whole thing, though. he still thinks the kid is weird. my little brother was in town all of last week, which is a convenient excuse for why I got no work done. this week, however, I shall need a new one, because he's gone. he sat in on a radio show, occupied my couch and seemed to have a good time.

many thanks go out to everyone who pledged during WEFT's drive during my show - we did ridiculously well (not to brag, but tops in our timeslot!). special thanks go out to the Mystery Pledger, who mailed in $20 after our last show. no idea who it was, but it's appreciated. you're beautiful. mwah.

the madness of our times:
I was in a classroom today and realized that someone had taken the time to write the entire lyrics to the "Sesame Street" theme song, two words at a time, on the undersides of the desks in the room. with chalk.

one of the five comic books I read, the excellent "Creeper", is being cancelled. that's not very nice.

everyone in those "Old Navy" commercials can go fuck themselves. except for the monkeys - they probably did it because they have families to feed and all. also, McDonalds. not that there aren't other reasons to dislike them, but their "Monopoly" sweepstakes is the absolute worst. I felt so betrayed as a kid when I found out the scam behind it, that it presented the illusion of a real genuine chance at winning - all you had to do was try hard enough to get all three of a given group - but it actually depended on the same 1 in 1,000,000,000 crap as all those other stupid contests. it's an exploitative lie. burn the bastards, say I.

yeah, and another thing. good songs in commercials. enough cannot be said about what an evil it is. sly and the family stone's "everyday people" has been irretrievably ripped from an entire generation. it pisses me off that when I heard it on the radio a few days ago, I kept waiting for it to be cut off, to be concise and easily digestible and packaged with a truck. and now one of my five favorite songs of all time, Otis Redding's "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay" is being used in a Hyundai commercial. If the Redding estate needed money, couldn't they have asked? I'd have mailed a few dollars. a song that good is too precious to lose, and we are losing it because people are being exposed to it in the commercial and when they're at the end of their rope, they want to be away from it all, they won't have that song to sit next to them. there is no room for a desperate, tired and alone human being and a Hyundai car on the dock. there's only space for one person and a song. but for a generation of people, it's no longer a song. it's a car. so fuck that too.

April 9, 1998 this is a bunch of long ones, kids. to make sure things don't get too pretentious, I will at the outset announce "balls".

a letter written by myself was published in the campus newspaper yesterday. hurrah. you can find it and another good one on the same topic at those addresses as well as the first letter that we were both responding to. the unedited text of my letter is also available for comparison's sake. I can't complain too much about the editing - they did do a couple mediocre things with the formatting (the attempt to give "I do" poignancy by giving it its own line was entirely their idea) and they cut out some of the more inflammatory bits, but they did give me a lot more space than the average letter gets. it's interesting how a little editing can change the meaning of a piece, though. I don't know if it comes across, but I wrote the letter to be a dismissal of the entire industry of spoiled white kids whose great great grandmother was maybe Indian coming forward and claiming to be Indian when it's convenient to them, i.e. when some idiot who doesn't know dick about that aspect of their heritage says that a racist Indian mascot is OK because it "doesn't bother" them and expects that to trump the feelings of full-blooded Native Americans. basically, I feel that while race may essentially be only a biological construct, for it to have any meaning it must be paired with a certain degree of experience. the edit job, however, neutered the letter into just saying that "yes, there are Native Americans who are against the Chief" (UIUC's dancing mascot / symbol / caricature). but, you know, I was expecting them to do worse, so it's alright. nothing like the egregious injustice done to what was my magnum opus up to point of my life, the 3,000 word essay on my trip to high school theatrefest that the high school newspaper refused to devote an entire issue to and cut into pieces. philistines. like anyone really cared about whatever the heck else was going on at the time.

required reading
new Smoove B in this week's Onion!

WEFT pledge drive kicked ass this week, during my show at least. we (I) nearly doubled our (my) goal and just generally rocked. heard from a guy who's been listening to my show every week since I started (he knew when my first show was without me telling him) and apparently even tapes it every week. how cool is that? very, think'st I. if you're in the C-U area, call in and pledge, you sponge. (217) 359-9338.

in the midst of all this world domination, I've been having a really hard time resisting the urge to go to sleep in the shower several times a day. huh?

since they apparently took a lot of crap for it, I feel obliged to voice my support for the april 1st episode of "South Park", the Terrance and Phillip one. it kicked ass. I read in the news today that over 2,000 people called Comedy Central to complain about it because they really wanted to know who Cartman's father is. what does this mean? it means that over 2,000 people don't fucking get the show and are stupid. who cares who Cartman's father is?!? the whole humor of the thing comes from two things: beating the joke home that his mom's a slut (it was funnier when it was an occasional subtle drop-in) and making fun of the entire concept of the cliffhanger episode. if you don't get that it's completely pointless who the father was, then you are dumb and you need to re-watch the entire run of the series (well, except the mecha-streisand one, and the mutant Stan one) until you figure it out. you know what disturbs me? walking by the revolting shiny new sports bar on campus, "Legends", and seeing people lined up around the block waiting to get in to get plastered and take part in "South Park Nite". say I'm bitter for telling these people to fuck off? I say you're an idiot. what I'm doing is reacting. what I'm doing is being alive and recognizing the co-opting of a once good thing and doing something about it in the only damn way I can by mentally interacting with the unpleasant reality and making noise about it. what the hell are you doing? (that's a hypothetical 'you', dear reader. you know I love you.) I don't necessarily buy the "if you're not part of the solution you're part of the problem" doctrine but it's not far wrong either. you can't take part in every fight but you need to at least strive to be aware of things. so thumbs-up to Trey Parker and Matt Stone for going against the marketing beast that they spawned (even if they were forced to back off). Time magazine had done a story. frat boys can go to the campus store and buy a poster with Kenny and his "please pardon me I have explosive diarrhea" and think they're hip. the monster has grown out of control. maybe this is what it was like for "Simpsons" fans early on, I don't know, but I'm worried that "South Park" doesn't have the intelligent base that the "Simpsons" does and won't rise to a new level like it did. I don't know. I think it'd be awesome to shock the hell out of Time and the frat boys by suddendly shifting focus to Terrance and Phillip. and then wandering over to Ugly Bob. and then to something completely different. that which is brilliant is usually unmarketable because a certain degree of stagnancy needs to set in to match up with the t-shirts. it's sad that now that "South Park" has become this profitable, I don't see how they can possibly go back.

more required reading
The Hand that Time Forgot, a cautionary essay for everyone who would dream to create art. hopefully you've seen MST3K's version of "Manos: the Hands of Fate". it is the most fascinatingly inexplicable and downright bad movie I have ever seen (and yes, I've seen "Plan 9 From Outer Space", and anyone who counts that as the worst film ever made needs to stop letting Leonard Maltin think for them and see some more movies). try to imagine a movie that concentrates not on plot or characters but entirely upon creating an atmosphere of dread - which can potentially be good, there are movies which are of value for their atmosphere alone - and misses the mark so badly that you can't even really figure out where it was aiming. read the article, it's good stuff and a valuable experience.

warm weather means lots of frat girl and boy chanting outside. evolve, damn you! evolve!

April 6, 1998 VANILLI IS DEAD.
a german newspaper reported yesterday that Rob Pilatus, formerly of the hitmaking combo Milli Vanilli, was found dead in his hotel room of a possible drug overdose. I've developed a bizarre personal connection with the two members of that group, having watched the VH-1 "behind the music" documentary on them (and mc hammer, too) several times for no reason that I can explain in a language other than sanskrit. sure, their music was crap, but those poor guys didn't even get the second life that most 80's stars get in late-night CD commercials. and the entire world has seen them looking like they did when they were in the band, so you've got to feel a little bit sorry for them. on a darker note, though, this comes hot on the heels of Vanilla Ice's announcement that he will be playing at the Clybourne, a bar here in champaign, leading this reporter to fear that poor Mr. Ice may be in danger when he arrives.

did you hear about Macauley Culkin getting married? that's for real too. he's engaged to a 17 year old broadway actress. when I saw the announcement I was assuming it was going to be something much more disturbing, like if Michael Jackson's name had been mentioned anywhere in the press release, but fortunately it's normal. sign of how old we all are, yes, but it looks like Macauley's off to a healthy start on the long road of marriages ahead of him.

don't be sayin' I never done nothin' for ya:
fans of the Monty Python movie "Life of Brian", download this trailer for a rather amusing example of previews done for movies by people who don't really understand them. not only does the voice sound wildly inappropriate, the whole thing just doesn't fit the movie. it's a large download (8 megs) but worth it to see a Monty Python movie (especially this one) promoted with lines like "Getting stoned wasn't against the law - it was the law!". And if someone's any good an extracting sound clips from quicktime movies, I really want a .wav of this announcer guy saying "He wasn't a messiah. He was a very naughty boy."

okay, well, enough pop cultural exploration and on with the sordid details of my life. I'm currently enjoying my first conscious multi-hour stay at my apartment in several days, having been ensconced in the planning and performance of the first annual Conference on the Elimination of Racist Mascots here in C-U. it went ridiculously well and I had a great weekend doing it, but much tiredness was mine by its end. "chief" illiniwak is a dick and so are all of its supporters. that's all that can really be said. I had the main part of the first "paper season" (as most liberal arts majors know, most of our writing, which is most of our work, tends to get bunched up into a couple small periods of time during the semester) last week, which was unusually late in the semester and unusually badly timed what with the conference and all but I pulled it off OK even if by the last page of the last paper I was using phrases like "utterly disgusting display of human self-debasement" and "the agenda of the bourgeoise as reflected in the media promotion of the internet". coming up, many many lines need to be memorized for various presentations of a theatrical nature and it's just not happening which is not good and suggests that I will have little rest until june. 'sokay. I didn't really have anything else planned.

WEFT pledge drive is this week. call and pledge during my show, (217) 359-9338, and send a message to the station and the world that you support the kind of radio that features a man who believes himself to be a gigantic lizard while he gurgles and coos attempts at seduction into the microphone.

this new mix for sugar cookies that I came up with, Otto from my theater class who just called me seconds ago to tell me that I don't need to go to class today because he hurt his knee and we have a long scene together to perform but now it's been pushed back.
frat boys who still think it's clever to shout things at people who pass by from their windows when they're drunk, that I haven't read the third act of King Lear yet and I'm going to be quizzed in-depth about it in fifteen minutes.

oh, and for the record, from this point on I demand to be referred to as "DEATH ON WHEELS".

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.