I woke up in a strange place

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

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October 18, 1999

I'm cooking some soup. that's what I'm doing. and you?

summer's gone and I'm still here, one last round with academia. I've got it on the ropes but it's throwing everything it has into this punch. all three majors coming to an end, vague sense of cognitive dissonance about the entire thing. I'm tired of being told what to read, tired of having my writing energies wasted in bland regurgitation, tired of having my desire to learn leashed and caged. but so it goes. beats having my fingers slammed in a car door while a naked Zsa Zsa Gabor points and laughs, if you consider the two outcomes to be separate ends of the same paradigm (which they are, in my world).

I am working on a pretty cool sociology thesis about silent film comedy. it's not all bad, and it's not all Zsa Zsa.

I'm also watching a boat chase in a movie right now. I feel compelled to make note of that.

I had a pretty good summer. did lots of things, worked a great many hours, and wrote volumes. there was a quite nice production of "Much Ado About Nothing" over two weekends in July, much radio broadcasting and perhaps the most memorable fourth of July I've ever had. things were busy, things were good. took a vacation or two: props to caves, especially ones that have not yet been wrecked by humans; props to the city of Cincinnati, which is a damn sight cooler than its total lack of a reputation would suggest; props to cars, which can go places fast; props to my cats, who keep it real. (it's easy to avoid selling out when you sleep as much as they do, though.)

things you should know
I spent the entire summer working on a second draft of my novel. I wound up doing more work than I had planned on: about a third is brand new and the rest was heavily rewritten. I really want to get this draft circulated. I don't know if it's worthy of publication - I won't be surprised if it's not, since it is at heart still a first novel by a young writer - but I think it's an enjoyable piece. since the web is still such a passive medium (the revolution will involve neither pointing nor clicking!), I put up excerpts for the casual to look at and evaluate. I can't afford to make paper copies yet but hopefully soon.

I might have pictures to put up soon from vacation fun (including actual photographic images of my self). check back later. in the meantime, read the novel!

although the above claims about having been busy are true, the actual reason why I never got around to updating this page should pretty well demolish any claim I have towards possessing higher order mental processes: I was stuck on this single idea that I wanted to use up top as the new lead story. it was to be called "the little bonobo that could", and it was going to be a children's story about the happy bonobo monkeys who live in the forest and wank all day long until they get tired and sad, at which point The Littlest Bonobo in whom they'd all doubted was going to rise to the task and get everyone taken care of. then it was going to transform into a bizarre 70's cop show where the chief didn't approve of Lieutenant Bonobo's methods and demand that he turn in his badge, gun and right hand. so there's my explanation. yeah, I know. I'll be staying away from computers forever.

I haven't been completely inactive online-wise. somehow I got sucked into the seedy world of .plan files. I had forgotten the things even existed, although I am old enough to remember when they had an actual functional purpose; now they're the internet's equivalent of a vestigial tail. if you don't know what they are, it's simple: get to a UNIX prompt (or the "directory services" option in Eudora) and, at the prompt, type "finger (user name)". I'm kind of torn as to whether they make sense or not. on one hand, they have no unique function. the web does everything vastly better than .plans do. on the other hand, they're kind of like passive-aggressive email and lord knows I'm all for that mode of behavior. they also have no commercial aspirations ("did you see colgate's .plan?") and that's rapidly becoming a curiosity in the online world. since you can't effectively link to other .plans, people who use them are forced to define themselves through content generation (actually writing something of their own! wow!) rather than making a list of links to popular commecial websites. some people do nothing but quote celebrities anyway, having been trained to think not in terms of truth but rather in terms of allegiance with prefab philosophies - and some people really don't have anything to say - but at least a certain mental effort is required to excerpt the quote (as opposed to the web's equivalent, wherein the simple invocation of a hyperlink serves the same purpose). so, in summary, .plans are still pretty cool.

I think I shall carve a pumpkin this year. need to get one first, of course. trip to the pumpkin patch. like a child, but I'm a ninja now. hallelujah.

I would like to make an intense crime movie that was totally loyal to formula except that for the big showdown instead of shooting guns, people threw whole watermelons at each other. they wouldn't act like it was strange, though. some of them would die. the grizzled old cop would get it. the rookie cop would learn an important lesson. the only way to survive would be if you were really hungry and could eat the watermelon. I won't spoil the double-cross at the end, but let me tell you, it's a doozy.

thanks to Time magazine, we can now derive an equation for the value of foreigners' lives: JFK Jr received two cover stories immediately upon his death, while those 13,000 people in Turkey got a story a couple weeks after the quake that killed them. commemorative issues equal 3 points, cover stories equal 2, and a story towards the middle equals 1. therefore, one rich white kid is worth sixty-five thousand faceless brown people. nice to know, and a hearty "fuck you" to the masses of Americans who sent flowers to the Kennedys and didn't make a donation thirteen thousand times the cost to Turkish relief funds.

what I find even more offensive are the pedantic essays littering the media trying to justify the obsession by rambling about how JFK Jr was part of "America's family"...the fuck he was. it's all part of the national strategy (not the work of an elite cadre - it's everyone's handiwork, wealthy and poor alike) aimed at blinding people to their own lives, keep them from feeling their own pain. understand, please, that I'm not a misanthrope. I have nothing against JFK Jr as a human being. he seemed to be a nice enough guy, and he deserves a ton of credit for not claiming the US presidency (which, given the depth of political analysis in this country, would have been handed to him on a silver platter if he asked for it). the basic point that I keep hopelessly making is that celebrity deaths are no more tragic than anyone else's. I saw some asinine editorial referring to the suffering of the Kennedys as mythic, an epic curse worthy of Greek tragedy, so on and so forth. makes me want to holler, as Mr. Gaye said. that fucking family is doing fine. they enjoy every privelege that money can buy. they operate above the law, indulge their whims, keep their asses covered...chart out the "tragedies" that they're supposed to have suffered and you'll find that damn few can't be attributed to spoiled rich kids messing up (drug addiction, drunk driving, crashing a private jet) or the risks of the lifestyle that earned them their privilege (the assassinations), the parameters of which they were fully aware. there is nothing extraordinary about their suffering. look around you. what would be truly extraordinary would be an extended family that hadn't suffered as much (if not more) over the course of several decades. feel your own pain...

see? only a few minutes and I'm raging like I was never away.

Welcome to Psychic Talk USA!this has been an exceptional year for movies, hasn't it? I had to wait until it came out on video, but all praise to "Rushmore", whose every frame has more soul than many entire decades of cinema (ok, it's hyperbolic, but looking at that phrase cracks my shit up so I'm leaving it in). "Run Lola Run" might still be playing in a theatre near you. go see it for ninety minutes of pure adrenaline and joy. (Franka Potente is hereby instructed to email me soon. we don't talk enough, Franka. let's talk.) "Eyes Wide Shut" was phenomenal (and subject to some of the most idiotic film criticism that's ever been written - but so it went for Kubrick's entire career, I guess). other things were very good as well, but I'm wearying of this list already and would like to get back to writing angry things and making references to my fantastic ass.

this is a message for the Illuminati, so everyone else please skip to the next part. ok. hey, Illuminati, can I have a laser gun? I promise I won't use it to oppose any of your plots for world domination. I'm just sick of taking out the garbage. I always let get too full. if you want to make it an early christmas present, that'd be fine.

Paul Czarnowski's working on a new project up in Chicago: you can check it out here. take back the radio!

(afterword from the future: I wrote the following before the latest shootings. sucks to be right.) another thing that bothers me is the continuing national hangover about Columbine High School. a tragedy, to be sure, but a number of the actions following it (by the media, by so-called behavioral experts, even by the victims' families) have been truly shameful. the Onion nailed one major annoyance of mine - the gaping hole in the causal analysis behind the tragedy. (see their article.) another thing that pisses me off is the attempts (a number of which have been successful) to turn their grief into justification for censorship and the public's unquestioning compliance ("feel your own pain" ad infinitum, etc). humanity does not come to understanding through repression, and to a certain extent the families of the next set of victims (because this will happen again because no one has dealt with the real issues behind the tragedy, choosing instead the standard set of idiotic dodges) will have this set to blame. the new round of vacant yet omnipresent coverage revolving around the school re-opening is also disgusting. to invoke again the Turkish quake: can you imagine what would happen if 13,000 Americans died in one single event? history books would record it as the greatest tragedy of all time. since the quake victims were foreigners, though, we're still obsessing over the Columbine 30. (I can't remember the exact number.) ethnocentrism strikes again. ("Buy American!")

do I think the earthquake should have received similarly exploitative media treatment? no, of course not. my point is that the pretty blatant discrepancies in caring render the whole "overwhelming human compassion" justification false. be honest. JFK Jr and Columbine don't get the blanket treatment because America is truly sad over the loss of human lives. the viewing public is, as always, simply looking for an emotional opiate.

although I will be in C-U until my apartment lease expires in August 2000, I lose UIUC computing access in January so that will mark the end of this here webpage. I plan to update a little more frequently as that date approaches, so check back regularly. no massive gaps like last time. of course, after the stunning display of charm above, how could you resist coming back?

next month: Orphans, And Why They're Bullshit.

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.