I woke up in a strange place

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

May 25, 1998 SEND ME YOUR OREGON TRAIL STORIES. a recent email from not elvis inspired me to compile these - the childhood (and beyond) experiences that many had with Oregon Trail, the joy that awaited in nearly grade school computer lab for our generation. tell me about what you did when you played. it can be anything - what did you name the members of your party? were you a banker or a farmer? what did you do while on the trail? did you hunt? and, everyone's favorite bit, what went on your party's tombstones? email them to me in whatever form you like and when I have enough I'll put them online. this goes for all of you. come on, don't put it off! you don't owe me anything but you do owe this page so give something back, will you?

I had to sell my soul to do it (how long it will be gone remains to be seen), but suddenly I find myself with a new car three months ahead of even the most optimistic forecasts. because I need to work this summer in order to be able to partake in indulgences like having somewhere to live, a jobby job job is necessary. on campus, however, the only options appeared to be pizza hut and wendy's or a return to my old digs at the CCSO, but I'll be danged if I'll repeat myself. for less than $7 an hour, that is. thus, the ability to go off-campus is highly prized - and now possible, thanks to the surrender of my soul. the cradle continues to lay in its space, quite deceased, and while a frankenstein-esque reincarnation could have been attempted I just love the poor car too much to hurt it like that (think Branagh's Frankenstein or some other suitably gory and generally unhappy one, especially when he tries to bring the woman back to life).

so: the new one. acquired on a budget and rather shiny to boot. operating it required learning the tricky art of driving manual transmission, something which I've been working diligently at and can now do fairly competently except around cops for some reason (there's a subroutine running through my brain that constantly thinks it would be absolutely hilarious to get pulled over for DUI and be sober. don't look at me, I'm just the conscious part of my own head). the license plates were added yesterday and the lifesaver, sample jar, action figures and everything else will be journeying over tomorrow.

the name? well, it was hopelessly apparent. I couldn't really avoid it, much as I tried. nearly every ad on TV was telling me what to name it. late night movies on USA told me what to name it. even my famed amp Mothra told me what to name the new car. how could I argue with that? without further ado, then, a loving goodbye to the Cradle and a welcome to my new 1988 white Honda Accord, aka the MechaCradle.

onwards, then:

validation comes from the strangest places.
no sooner had I written and posted my brief little rant about mcdonalds' tie in with disney's animal kingdom did I read in Time magazine the following (may 11, 1998 - page 18): "McNonsense! When we saw that McDonald's was using its McRib sandwich to cross-promote Disney's Animal Kingdom, we thought, Isn't it odd to connect frolicking animals and a rib sandwich? R.J. Milano, an assistant marketing V.P. at McDonald's, explained, 'Animal Kingdom is very much a wild experience, and the McRib is a wild taste that allows customers to experience the fun and magic of the Animal Kingdom without going to Orlando.' Oh."

I saw the new Godzilla movie last week, by the way. I'd been planning on avoiding it in order to not contribute to the big mega opening weekend box office total, but i didn't care enough to throw a fit and I was sort of morbidly curious to see how it would turn out. it elicited a solid "eh" from me. I don't really have enough to say about it to write an entire review, but Matt Trupia summed it up best for me when he said "eh, it was alright, but I didn't really need to have seen it to be able to say that I saw it, you know?" it is definitely not a "need" movie at all, in nearly any sense of the word. not screamingly terrible, really, but Godzilla 1998 had a number of inescapable and fatal flaws, most of which are related to the complete and total lack of Mothra in the movie. funk dat. if you can resist seeing it, then don't go. if you can't, well, I understand, but don't be expecting to find any hidden gold there.

the cats don't have anything that they want to report for this update. both of them have handled the crappy weather of the last week rather well. it's kind of touching: there was a definite, tangible moment a couple weeks ago when Thunder looked at Orbital and told him "Look, kid, you're bat-shit crazy, but we're going to work through that together." they've been best friends ever since.

I saw "As Good As It Gets" again at the cheap theatre last night. I liked it quite a lot the first time out, but there was perhaps an inability on my part, something damaged lost or otherwise confused that couldn't quite fully comprehend the sheer heart of that film. that jack nicholson's character was so real, greg kinnear's so beautiful, that I was so in love with helen hunt's, I don't know, but I got it the second time, so much props to that movie.

why can't I get this poorly taped live video of David Bowie performing "Look Back in Anger" any louder? oh, hell.

May 17, 1998 post-finals edition, such as it is. it was probably my least stressful yet, since most of my classes opted for an inhuman barrage of writing due in the last week (80 pages in the space of a weekend!) instead of the increasingly tiresome ritual of essay exams. so, no concerns. pretty good grades all around, I think, although a surefire 4.0 has probably been ruined by deficient attendance. (which seems rather contradictory, doesn't it? class is there to help to attain proficiency in the material. if I demonstrated proficiency with the material at a perfect level, what does it matter if I was in class or not?) scholastic apathy having set in after last year's failed escape attempt, it was just another semester, academically. metaphysically it was an EXTRAVAGANZA!, a word that is as fun to type as it is to say in a booming voice on the radio.

so I haven't got any real reflections because nothing worth reflecting upon is ending. instead, in the ever-now:

everyone's leaving town. I'm permanently based here in champaign now, so no movement for me. my apartment building is, as far as I can tell, abandoned (I can't imagine that these places are easy to sublet). even slug is gone. I can't believe that our time together is over. he borrowed a staple on the last day. bye, slug. you've been an ideal neighbor - permissive of my loud music while supplying none of your own, just confusing enough to make me wonder what the heck you were up to but not annoying. big and hairy but never big and hairy and naked. here's to you, slug.

surely it's not just my non-carnivorous self that finds that McDonald's tie-in commercial with Disney's Animal Kingdrom a little disturbing? you know, where the family cheerfully intersperses animal noises with hearty chomps upon ribs (shot in close-up, natch)? "do a giraffe!" "mmm, that's a good sandwich!" someone, tell me it's not just me...

I left a message applying for a ten day job cleaning apartments on campus. it's not quite the same as a seat upon the stool at record service or that's rentertainment, but I never did get around to asking them (which does not excuse them from failing to seek me out, mind you). permanent employment will be sought out...oh, I don't know, eventually...

orbital ("the kitten without fear, explanation, or restriction by gravity") had a respiratory infection which healed and then got bad again in the other eye and seems to have mostly healed again. he blames his tail for the whole thing. his tail could not be reached for comment.

season finale of the Simpsons was excellent, I thought.

picked this up awhile ago, thought some of you might like to see it if you haven't already - the Kevin Smith "superman lives" script that warner brothers apparently liked but decided to scrap when Tim Burton was hired (a project which is now in limbo). the smith script got a lot of highly positive word of mouth from the geek community, so you can judge for yourself the degree to which it's a tragedy that it didn't get made. personally? I like Kevin Smith a lot and have for a long time but this script really just isn't very good. it's obviously written from a fan's perspective - which is good - but the dialogue is just a little too stiff, cliched in several places, and the pacing is poor as well. it just doesn't work for me. wish it did.

I tried to blow up my stereo by unleashing an unholy amount of brand new good music upon it in one day. new massive attack, garbage, and a one-week delayed tori amos. it survived but is feeling wobbly. orbital's tail is also believed to be responsible for this.

I'm working on new stuff for the webpage. midway through, though, the mood zipped off for a zesty jaunt in kankakee so I decided to just get on with it and upload what I have.

there was a tornado out in the area last week. I wrote an update during the storm but it was strangely flat and uninspired so instead I ditched it and went outside, hoping to embrace the tornado with open arms but finding only a slushy at the gas station.

ain't that just the way, though?

May 4, 1998 songs from just beyond the face of the earth (which is, I'm told, where I am):

"would you like to donate with your left or right arm today?"
- my left. (the mark on my right arm from donating blood two weeks ago is still visible.)
"okay." (pause) "now, it says here that you haven't eaten today. are you feeling alright?"
- yeah. I'll have something before I leave.
"because you look pretty pale. you're a pasty-faced white guy." (says the pasty-faced white nurse...)
- that's from lack of exposure to sunlight more than anything else.
"so what are you studying at the university?"
- um, english sociology anthropology.
"all three?!?"
- yes.
"you must be some kind of genius!"
- erm, well, I do alright, you know.
"are you a brain?"
- no, not really. I, ah, just answer the questions that they ask me and sometimes I come up with some questions of my own I guess.
(silence. a commercial comes on the radio.)
"ooh! I hadn't heard that one!"
- that what?
"he kidnapped the boss's dog!"
- oh.
"I like history."
- yeah, history's interesting.
"I want to go back to school."
- that's good.
"I'm going to be a jeweller."
- oh, that's...
"It's where you can tell what kind of a gem it is and how much it's worth."
- well, that's a great choice.
"I've got a boyfriend. My mother doesn't like him too much. He smokes big cigars and drinks whiskey and plays cards."
- um.
- do you live in the area, then?
"My boyfriend, he lives in Wisconsin. Every weekend he comes down and visits me."
- oh, that's good.
"what's your favorite period of history?"
- um, the classical period I guess. Greece and Rome and all that. I took Latin in high school.
"You took Latin? You must be smart!"
(the needle finally goes in.)
(she tries again and the longest blood drive of my life trundles on.)

my cats provided a reasoned and persuasive argument as to why I shouldn't bother doing the requested first draft of my second to last paper for this year and should instead just hang out on the couch with them. they're a couple of smart ones, I'm telling you. not a trace of faulty logic between them. anyway they were right and looking over the paragraph that I did write I'm rather scared of how utterly scholarly and professional journal-like it looks. I'm going to have to work "cock" in there like a dozen times to salvage my indie cred.

oblivion's "bob and weave" is a good song. you can download a pretty good cover of it here. what is amazing about this version is that none of the band members have any arms! (the singer has both of his arms but he doesn't have a lower jaw.) isn't that remarkable? sure it is.

not elvis overhauled his page. he did not die and go to heaven as the sudden shift from very dark to very bright would suggest. or should that read "he did not not die and not go to heaven" since he's not elvis? oh, hell. no big deal. I like double negatives a lot, by the way. in grade school I used to go out of my way to incorporate them into my writing and actually intend for it to mean what it did mean under proper grammatical conditions. then teachers would yell at me as if they had caught an error and I'd say "I know what it means, it's supposed to be like that" and then they'd demand I re-write it with no negatives if that's what I meant and I'd complain about the violation of my authorial intent (although I didn't know that phrase back then so I didn't sound as good when I said it). ah, the halcyon days of my youth. wordsworth didn't know what he was missing, wasting time out in that nature shit. antagonizing authority at repressive catholic grade schools was where it was at.

possibly the dumbest news story of the year so far: snoop doggy dogg was arrested this weekend for possession of marijuana. I'd like to take this opportunity to express a thinly-veiled sarcastic note of congratulations to the architects of the massive intricate sting operation that led to the arrest and all of the agents who went out on a limb, risking their lives and their professional reputation on a long shot like this one. way to tackle the real problems, guys. now go reward yourselves with a big juicy cheeseburger and a beer, you brave souls you.

a commercial for a "Mr. Freeze" ride at the Great America theme part in St. Louis just flashed by (didn't we all agree to forget that travesty of a movie?). its major selling point is that you go up really high and then come back down backwards. what's the point? I thought the whole fear came from seeing the ground rush up at you. how can you perceive how fast you're going if your only reference point is the sky? okay, admittedly this is perhaps an issue about which I have given too much thought.

is there any celebrity more utterly worthless than Joan Rivers? what has this woman ever done to earn any attention? she is a hideous plasticine caricature of a human being who has never achieved anything of any artistic merit. why has she earned my wrath, though, you ask? well, she has a show on E where she does innovative things like rip on Kate Winslet for being slightly overweight. this bothers me, a lot. if you are in a position where things that you say are heard - even something as simple as an obscure web page like this one - you have to keep checking yourself, you have to every once in awhile stop yourself dead in your tracks and ask yourself "what am I doing here? why am I saying this? what am I hoping that saying this results in? most importantly, what am I building by saying this?" hey Joan Rivers, what are you building? what is your message? what do you want to people to do when they hear you slam a beautiful young woman because it's not enough that she's a talented actress, she has to launch a savage attack upon her own health (ever hear of a "metabolism", Joan? some are different than others), risking her life in order to lose weight so that she can be "valid" in your eyes? yeah. three cheers for bulimia, you bitch. now shut up and get out of the media forever, alright?

Friday May 1: 7pm
Satuday May 2: 1pm and 7pm
Illinois Disciples Foundation, Wright and Springfield Avenue in Champaign.

(it's not really a sequel, just another week of performances.)

also check out
Friday May 1: 8 and 11pm at Mabels.

(more later. and you know I'm good for it, baby!)

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.