I woke up in a strange place

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

July 31, 2001

I realized, and if you see the movie you'll come to the same conclusion, that they are going to need me to write the sequel to Planet of the Apes. I cried to the heavens that I wanted to live my own life, that I had my own dreams, that other men could carry the burden of history, but in the end, I resigned myself to doing what I must. I will write it. I am going to need them to buy the rights to The Great Gatsby for what I have planned.

Since I am unemployed, I thought it might be helpful if I made note of some of the other film projects that I am willing to write:

Generations will be a powerful family epic featuring several generations of famous apes: General Thade, Pericles, Cornelius, Dr Zaius, the monkey-man from India, Marcel (from "Friends" and "Outbreak"), Gorilla Grodd (from Grant Morrison-era "Doom Patrol"), King Kong, Bonzo and a bonobo to be named later. They will do all the usual things that happen in powerful family epics, except they will be monkeys. Trust me, it will suck if some studio hack takes the idea and tries to write it. I am the only man who can do it.

Chowder a documentary about how people talk in Boston. It will be very educational and promote understanding among diverse groups of people.

Untitled Russian Submarine Drama about the final hours of the sailors who died in the submarine that sank last year. I will do a lot of research and plant a lot of press releases about how hard I am working to achieve historical authenticity. That will serve as a smokescreen for my real thesis, which is that the same guy who assassinated Trotsky did the submarine, too. Seriously. He attacked the submarine from behind with a mountain climber's axe. Also, the dialogue will be in Russian with English subtitles. That will make the movie seem more authentic. However, the subtitles will not be an accurate translation of the dialogue, which, in the original Russian, will be a stream of obscenities regarding people who I do not like. If any Russians should ask to see the movie, we will claim that the sound is all messed up.

The Unnamable another Highlander sequel. They find some more immortals under the couch, so they have to fight them. That's pretty much all.

July 30, 2001

Reading this month:

Michael Herr

In terms of size, this is more or less a hardcover pamphlet; if I had to pay for books, I'd probably never buy it, but since I don't, I'm all over it. This is the sort of book I love reading about artists I admire. Not much more than a personal account from a friend of the man, it's composed entirely of the fun bits usually scattered in mammoth biographies (without the detail and accounting usually found between): what it was like talking to Stanley Kubrick, what he read, what he watched on TV (Kubrick was "crazy" about The Simpsons), his sly conversation tactics, etc. Nothing radical, but a total pleasure nonetheless.

Stanley Kubrick, Director: A Visual Analysis
Alexander Walker

This is one of those books that would be well-suited for use as a weapon. Pow! It's pleasant but light (in content, not weight); most of it reads like a pretty good essay from an English 273 (Film: Directors, Genres) class at some midwestern university. Has gobs of well-chosen stills, and the maddeningly infrequent glimpses of Kubrick's working methods are really interesting. There's probably a better book for those purposes, though.

Love in the Time of Cholera
Gabriel Garcia-Marquez

Garcia-Marquez's books are so absorbing. The period of time that I spent reading One Hundred Years of Solitude is completely defined in my memory by that book; in retrospect, the same will probably be true with this one. I don't know a thing about powerful love affairs and I certainly don't know anything about the emotional passage of an entire lifetime, but this book just feels so true. I've been meaning to read Love in the Time of Cholera ever since Justice League International #22 or so, in 1989, when Fire (formerly the Green Flame from Brazil, one of the most gorgeous comic book characters ever) and Oberon (the wily midget who worked with Mister Miracle) talked about it. She was in a hospital bed recovering from INVASION!, wherein evil aliens dropped a metagene bomb on the Earth and invaded (whereupon Earth's superheroes beat them senseless), and he came by to visit, and she was reading it, and they got to talking about the book; she said that he should read it in the original Spanish, and he said that he did, and they went on to have a brilliant, understated romance through the rest of the series.

Developing Bioinformatics Computer Skills
Cynthia Gibas, Per Jambeck

This is a very good book. Although the word 'wily' is not specifically used in the text, the underlying focus of this book is wiliness; not only teaching readers about a rapidly evolving and important scientific discipline, but also how to be wily practicioners of that discipline. Nice.

Days and Nights at The Second City
Bernard Sahlins

A book in two parts: the first half is a breezy memoir of Second City's history that trails off somewhere in the mid-70s. The author was one of the three original partners who founded it, and wound up directing SC for many years. He's too polite and reserved for the memoir to be especially interesting, and the book doesn't try to incorporate anything other than his experience, so it doesn't really have any information that any of the other SC books don't (aside from a funny bit about the mob trying to extract protection money). It's not bad, just light.

The second half is more interesting, although still fairly light. The author talks about the process of creating and staging shows at the Second City, the first book to my knowledge to do so - last year's coffee table crapfest, like most books on the topic, only talked about what the Famous Actors did after leaving Second City. It's alright, but not indispensable. (The PBS documentary a couple years ago was much better.) I definitely don't agree with his idea that comedy is the theater without heroes, but there are some sterling passages - especially the section on parody - and the basic thesis, that truth should be at the heart of comedy, is right on.

Time Flies and Other Short Plays
David Ives

A new collection - and it's been a while - from the author of All in the Timing. Like a writer said about Ken Nordine and Word Jazz, mentioning David Ives gets a knowing smile in all the right places. He writes great big swooning goofy intellectual love stories in a style all his own. Seeing a collection of his work back in the day really impressed me with what short plays can achieve, that sketch comedy can be as well-written as any other form of literature and still rock an audience.

There's nothing on a par with The Trotsky Variations in here yet, but it's really not fair to hold him to that standard. (If I didn't say that, though, people would ask.) The ideas are just as rich, though they don't have the sense of absolute precision that, say, Sure Thing did. An unfortunate slight streak of self-awareness holds the best one, about two construction workers trying to build the Tower of Babel, back from perfection. In the introduction, David Ives says that the original actors are "as audible in these plays as I am", and as a writer, I'm always willing to blame things like that on actors heading in awkward moments for the cheap laughs that self-aware theater usually gets at the cost of sincerity. Dang actors. Still! Very good.

Smoke and Mirrors
Neil Gaiman

A collection of short stories (and 'illusions', insists the subtitle, which probably doesn't make things any clearer for you, dear reader, so I will focus on 'stories') by Mr Gaiman, a top fellow. My friend and I acquired copies during a recent stop on Neil's book tour. (That doesn't make things any clearer either, does it? Curses. O, damned elusive clarity! If you come to my house and bring me a cookie or a milkshake or some cake that doesn't have strawberries, I will show you my copy, and then things will be as clear as can be. I will even read you a story from it. But not one of the long ones, because I have to go to the post office later.)

Boy, what a great book! Neil is on top form throughout. I was an especially big fan of The Goldfish Pool and Other Stories, Shoggoth's Old Peculiar, Queen of Knives and Murder Mysteries.

Complete Works: 1
Harold Pinter

I read The Birthday Party in Seamus's class, but had to return it to the bookstore as soon as I was done. I never had enough money to buy books in college; I'd buy them, read and take them back for a refund within the seven day return period. I will say little else about Seamus's class, because I trust your imagination to envision a great time that was had, reading plays and living it up with Seamus.

Anyway, Harold Pinter is a lot of fun. The plays herein teach a healthy distrust of mysterious figures who show up all of a sudden, which is a good value. They are probably a fair amount better in performance, given the quick dialogue exchanges, notable for what the characters don't say, etc, but they're still fun to read.

Simulacra and Simulation (The Body, in Theory : Histories of Cultural Materialism)
Jean Baudrillard

I have no qualms about admitting that I just don't get about a third of this. My soc thesis advisor in college used to shake his head about books like this, steeped so heavily in jargon as to be nearly incomprehensible to anyone who hasn't actually sat down with the author and defined terms with him beforehand. (This kind of philosophy is characterized by questionable use of adjectives as nouns, such as 'the social'.) It's worth slogging through, though, because it does feature a dead-accurate description of the construction of history and media today (having been written in 1982), all sorts of things that you know in your gut but don't want to admit, though stated a bit more stridently.

Woody Allen
Eric Lax

Not too good. The book has no actual research; almost all of the material comes from interviews with Woody, which would be fine if it weren't presented in the form of an objective biographical document. As such, it's awkward to read. The author had full access to Woody but squanders it with obsequiousness; the only criticism of Woody's work in this book comes from Woody himself. The account of his pre-film career is fairly good, but it covers an inexplicably large part of the book; for the films, certainly the most important part of a Woody Allen bio, the author drops chronological narrative and wanders off into a rambling essay of praise that reads like a defense against invisible critics real and imagined. There are some good fly-on-the-wall moments, but the book is mostly useless. If you're interested in a Woody Allen book, get the Allen on Allen (w Stig Bjorkman) book.

It's almost worth reading, though, for the epilogue added for the updated edition. Most of the book was written in 1989, and has some painfully bad sections about why Woody and Mia Farrow are absolutely perfect for each other and how well their lives fit together; in view of the events a couple years later, of course, the epilogue has no choice but to open with an "Um, I guess I was wrong".

July 29, 2001

Here are some brief anecdotes involving people with infirmities. I was waiting for the bus, sitting on a newspaper box, kicking the sides rhythmically and insouciantly, and a blind man walked by. He was doing a splendid job of navigating sidewalk obstacles, but my eyes were drawn to his shirt, which featured a garish design and the name HOOTIE AND THE BLOWFISH in big letters. I had a feeling his friends assured him the shirt was from some cool indie band, so he wears it all the time because he doesn't know any better. I felt bad about that. His friends probably do it to him whenever he does anything that bugs them, and they're probably jerks, so they probably do it all the time. Earlier that day, I was in a diner with some of my friends, who are not jerks. They are nice. Suddenly, a man in a big wheelchair came barrelling through the joint. He rammed into our table, so we moved it to ease his passage. He rolled on by with his posse. Although he was clearly confined to the wheelchair, his musculature did not appear diminished (read: non-spindly). He had a headset with a white tube extending toward his mouth from he could drink. It occurred to me that he could get milkshakes through that tube, and I nearly shat myself. I wanted! I want. Okay. After I got home from the social event to which I took the bus that night, I turned on the television. There was a commercial for the Special Olympics, sponsored by one of those companies with a violently awful name, and it featured a retarded boy in a track suit telling people "this is my back" over and over again. Slowly, the viewers are led to realize that he is a runner and he is talking shit to the other runners. His back is "all (they'll) see" when they race him. I thought about it and decided that he probably shouldn't be talking shit, because someone might say "Oh yeah? Well, you're retarded", and that beats the whole "this is my back" line. He's just leaving himself open to have his feelings hurt.

July 27, 2001

Everyone who would like me to find a MIDI of the Sanford and Son theme song and set it up so that it plays every time this webpage is viewed, raise your hand. Okay. Now, everyone who does not have their hands raised, you are not allowed to visit this webpage any more. Go find another one. This one is off-limits. Sorry, but that's the way it has to be.

Due in equal parts to my extreme poverty and my long periods of complete physical inactivity, there are generally no more than three or four different food-related items in my apartment. Right now, two of the four items are peanut butter and raisins. I have discovered that it is quite a tasty snack to pour the raisins into the jar of peanut butter and eat them with a spoon. Very little effort expended, cheers all around. Should this webpage just be recipes from now on? I know the recipe for cold water.

I haven't been writing much about my own life lately because, although it is all really quite reasonable, it would sound like the ramblings of a madman in print:

2am: Finally made it up off the floor. Consider briefly going to buy some of the happy-face cookies. Decide against it, because the late-night clerk is trying to kill me because I keep charging these 97-cent purchases and after several nights in a row of this he will realize that I can be gotten to through the happy-face cookies. Talk to my cats about capitalism. Settle upon going to the lake and throwing things in the water to see what kinds of sounds they make.

And I don't want people to get the wrong impression.

Above all other things, I think, I am curious whether the new Planet of the Apes movie has any bonobo references. You'd think if any director might include one, it'd be Tim Burton. But you know those studio fat-cats, always with the violence, never with the bonobos.

July 25, 2001

This webpage receives between 120 and 150 hits a day from people looking for Manute Bol information, so I decided to dedicate an entire entry to the big guy. The introduction to a book entitled Manute Bol For Beginners might read something like this: Manute Bol was the tallest player in the history of the National Basketball Association, standing at 7 feet and 7 inches. He was a shot-blocking machine, mercilessly swatting the hoop dreams of lesser, shorter men. Born in Sudan, Manute Bol was drafted by the Washington Bullets in 1985. For ten powerful years, Manute cast a long shadow over the entire NBA. He did not score many points, nor did he pull down an especially large number of rebounds, but he was very tall in an exemplary fashion. Unfortunately, the svelte Manute was easy prey for the new generation of big fat basketball players like Shaquille O'Neal, who countered the big Bol of grace with thuggish pounding. Manute Bol sensed that his time was past, and in 1995, he retired from basketball.

The past, as they say, is prologue. What lay ahead for Manute? That's the question that at least 340 people ask this webpage every day, and until recently, I didn't have the answer. Finally, however, news has surfaced. In association with the Associated Press, this webpage proudly presents:

Manute Bol: the Legend Continues...

(Or: The Part of the Behind The Music Episode Where It All Goes To Shit, Just Before The Part Where They Release A New Album That They Feel Is Their Best Work In Years)

Manute Bol, the NBA record holder for blocked shots in a rookie season, has slipped out of Sudan and is trying to return to America. Bol had been trying for eight months to leave his native Sudan, the scene of an 18-year civil war, but authorities were unsure whether to would allow him to depart. On July 12, Bol and his family showed up at the airport in Khartoum and surprised security officers, who called their superiors for instructions. Two hours later, they allowed him to board a plane for Cairo, Bol said Tuesday from the Egyptian capital in a telephone interview with The Associated Press, his first since slipping out of Sudan. "My eyes got big,'' Bol said. "I couldn't believe it. People were talking that I couldn't get out.''

Now, I cannot stress enough that Manute Bol is a very big man. For example, here is a photo of Wilt Chamberlain. Manute Bol is much, much taller than Wilt Chamberlain. So when Manute Bol says that his eyes got big, we are talking about some fucking huge eyes. Probably two feet tall, each.

Friends in the Hartford area are working to get U.S. visas for Bol, his new wife and 18-month-old son and Bol's younger sister. Three daughters and a son from an earlier marriage live in New Jersey. "I feel bad about the way things have worked out for him,'' said Ed Bona, Bol's cousin and a former European pro basketball player who lives in West Hartford. Bol made millions in his 10 years in the NBA, diverting much of it to his extended family in Sudan and to rebels fighting the government. Since then he has fallen on hard times, forced to sell his two homes while a bank foreclosed on his home in the United States. For now, Bol is stuck in Cairo, dealing with the red tape involved in coming to America. He knows he'll have to return to Sudan if U.S. embassy officials don't issue visas for his family. "I'm depressed,'' Bol said. "I really miss my children and my friends in America.''

When a man of Manute Bol's size is sad, and he starts crying, short people often think that it is raining.

To make matters worse, the airline lost the suitcase with all Bol's clothes. Besides trying to get a visa, he's trying to find clothes big enough to fit him. Bol's journey from the United States and basketball stardom back to life in Sudan was nothing like he expected. During his rookie year with the Washington Bullets in 1985, he had 397 blocks. Bol bounced from Washington to Golden State, Philadelphia and Miami before retiring from the league in 1995. He averaged just 4.2 rebounds and 2.6 points per game during his career. He returned to Sudan hoping to help negotiate an end to the civil war and possibly obtain a government cabinet position.

This part of the article is unfortunately sketchy. I'd love to hear more about that. I'm envisioning Manute showing up in a "Rebels" jersey and trying to block the government's shots.

Arabic Muslims in the northern part of the country run the government. African Christian rebels in the south have been fighting the government since 1983. More than 2 million people have been killed. Bol is a member of the Dinka tribe and is sympathetic to the rebels, who he says he gave nearly $3.5 million over the years. Bol also found himself giving money to many in the Dinka tribe. Soon he was nearly broke. Writers for Sports Illustrated and The New York Times recently chronicled his plight. Bona's brother in London wired Bol the airplane tickets to Cairo. Bona said Bol picked up the tickets at a travel agency in Khartoum on the day of the flight and was able to get passports and visas to Cairo from the agency. He said Bol paid a "gratuity'' to keep the matter quiet. Bona and Andrew Kearns, a West Hartford lawyer who was Bol's roommate at the University of Bridgeport, also have been lobbying to get Bol to the United States and find him a job.

Oh, boy, I can relate. Can I ever! My friends try to find me jobs, too. Do you think Manute Bol and I should go into business together? Write your congressman!

Kearns said he plans to call U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., who helped former University of Connecticut basketball player Ajou Deng leave Sudan in 1997.

Being known as The Man Who Saved Manute Bol would be a great way for that dickhead to redeem himself. He should do it.

Kearns said it was a bit of luck and the element of surprise that helped Bol get out of Sudan.
"He caught them off guard,'' Kearns said. "If they had known ahead of time, they would have canceled the flight or intercepted him. He was actually proud of himself and said, 'You don't know what I had to do to keep this quiet.'"

Manute! Manute! Wily! Wily! Seven feet, seven inches of wily!

Bol said he wasn't sure exactly what kind of visa he will need to get to the United States.
Carolina Walkin, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, said the easiest option would probably be for Bol to check whether his green card has expired. But Walkin said federal regulations do not make it easy for people in his situation. "There are a number of ways to come back to the U.S., but just saying 'I want to see my children' is not going to do it,' she said. 'It's not that people in the State Department and INS don't have a heart. Everything is laid out by law.''

Heartless bureaucrats, beltway insiders, damn politicians. See, that's part of why Manute Bol is so fucking cool. He's wily and yet he's bewildered. People don't realize that you can be both at the same time, but you can, and he is living proof. Another reason why Manute Bol is cool is that if they tried to make a biographical movie ("Manute!"), and they hired one of the four black actors working in Hollywood right now (preferably Don Cheadle), everyone else in the cast would have to be midgets, to make the size work out. I don't think I have to tell you how cool that would be.

Bol said his first goal is to see his four children in New Jersey. He also said he wants to stay in the United States. "My daughter is mad at me because I've been away for a long time," he said. "I've been away for five years. That's too long.''

Damn right.

See also:

  • A biography?
  • Trading cards!

    July 20, 2001

    I will tell you nothing but sweet lies.

    (news) For an hour and a half, Chicago's Sewers Department held a pep rally for virtually all of its employees, who flooded the streets afterward with the words of Vince Lombardi dancing in their heads and, ostensibly, newfound resolve to give it up for a dirty, thankless job.

    Great, bizarre article that reads like an Onion story. Today's sewer workers are tomorrow's mole men, so I'm all for keeping their spirits high. The football metaphor is kind of questionable for these purposes, though:

    "Winning is not a sometimes thing. It's an all-the-time thing," the city's new sewers commissioner, John A. Roberson, 32, told those gathered, quoting the late, hard-driving football coach as he stood at a lectern glaring out over the packed auditorium. "I firmly believe that any man's finest hour ... is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle, victorious," the commissioner said.

    What this strange little man appears unwilling to process is that if the sewer-worker team is to "win" the "game" they are playing, they must have opponents. The sewers are not their opponents - merely the field on which they play - so who is the other team? It's entropy, the inevitable breakdown and decay of all systems, sewers included. Should we be teaching our sewer workers that they can overcome entropy? I find this especially problematic because, if the team metaphor is carried through to its logical extreme, the individual positions on the entropy team are being played by poop.

    (news) The Republican Party on Thursday launched what it called an aggressive new effort to attract more women and address a persistent gender gap that has plagued the party in national elections. In the Winning Women Initiative, women who hold public office, will promote a message that women have a political home in the party, said Republican National Committee Co-Chair Ann Wagner.

    Ladies, just like a real "home", you have a place in the "political home" of the Republican party: the "political kitchen". Won't you come in for a while? The "political spice-rack" has ever so many delightful "political ingredients" for you to "politically bake" with in the "political oven", and the "political illegal minorities" will be right there to "politically clean up" after you're done. No "political muss", no "political fuss" ! And won't you "politically love" seeing your "political husband" light up when he comes home from the "political office" to a tasty "political dinner"? He only "politically smacks" your "political face" because he "politically loves" you and you make him so "politically crazy" sometimes when he has a "politically hard day" at "political work". That's "politically all". So come on down to your "political home" in the Republican party, where the "political cooking sherry" never runs dry. (1)

    You should see the press release they sent out to court the test-tube baby vote. They promised us like four hours of womb-time per week. Man, those guys will stoop to anything for a vote.

    (1) If you can carry that metaphor through to the end, you "rule".

    July 19, 2001

    Mic check? One-two, one-two.

    (email) i've actually heard other stories about the garbage campaigns. particularly one about a a now-defunct brand of malt liquor that advertised by smashing its bottles face-up throughout the ghetto. supposedly, for a while, it worked.


    Suspicions possibly confirmed, then. (From 010716.) I hope no one ever tries marketing robots that way. Wouldn't that be terrifying?

    (news) Rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard of Wu-Tang Clan was sentenced to 2 to 4 years in prison on Wednesday on drug possession charges. The State Supreme Court also recommended that the artist, whose real name is Russell Jones, be examined by corrections department officials to determine if he needs psychiatric or substance abuse treatment, a court spokeswoman said.

    I went to buy a cookie last night and noticed that a dry cleaner who fucked with me once is now out of business. It was late and there was nobody around, so I had no way of knowing whether the dry cleaner recognized the correlation between fucking with me (via my dress shirts) and the financial collapse of his business. How does that story relate to the above news clip? Well, while I was interning with the Wu-Tang Clan a couple summers ago, people would always ask me why the RZA even keeps Ol' Dirty Bastard on staff. He's always in jail, they'd say. Focus groups respond poorly to things that are dirty and things that are ol', and adults 25-44 definitely don't like bastards. Outside consultants were always producing studies that showed the Wu-Tang could shave 26% off their above-the-line costs if they downsized the ODB. (Bail, crack, babies, things like that.) Well, it's times like last night that you need an ODB. If we were in the same clan together, he would have gone to that dry-cleaner as soon as they began struggling and he would have mocked them. He would have waved his arms and shown his big metal teeth. He would have drawn an analogy between me and powerful, scary things. He would have laughed at them and illustrated, in skittering rhythmic fashion, the point that fucking with me is like the kiss of death to a dry-cleaner.

    So, I'm interviewing for my own Ol' Dirty Bastard, if you're looking for something to do. Send me your resume. Bastard skills are a prerequisite, but I am willing to train promising candidates in dirty.

    July 17, 2001

    I found an old Tandy monitor out in the alley, so I brought it back into my apartment with me. I don't know what I'm going to do with it yet, but, knowing me, it will probably be brilliant, insightful and part of a delightful romp. It could be a trap, though. Someone could have set me up the bomb !! Or the monitor might be a trojan horse type deal to smuggle in a secret assassin! Who is very, very short! And cubic! Shit.

    If you would like to see me on the big screen, come to the Chicago Short Comedy Film Festival this Thursday, July 19th. I am in a film called "Outside the Box" that is part of the 7:30 show - ours is the photo on the bottom left, and that's me on the right. All of the films other than ours are quite short, so even if they are terrible, they will be over quickly. They will probably be good, though, given the people who made them. (See the festival webpage for more.) Ours is okay. It's at the Biograph Theater in Chicago, which is where John Dillinger was shot. For those of you whose eyes just lit up with the idea that that would be a great place to shoot me, please do not. The movie will be fun, but it's not really the artistic achievement I want to go out on. I will keep you updated with more suitable opportunities to shoot me as they arise.

    (email) Incidentally, I ran into Ichihiro Suzuki and Kazuhiro Sasaki after their shutout game against Cincinnati.
    "Nice teamwork, fellow!" I congratulated them.
    "Tell 'I woke up' Marc to get up our cases," said Ichihiro.
    "Yes," said Kazuhiro, "Why his pressure of us to home runs and strikeouts? He is stringer for Asahi Shimbun?"
    "What you say!" I said. "Marc's respect is all are having for you! When several gentlemen come together it is for number 51 with great dignity."
    "You are right," said Kazuhiro. "I have a lot of feeling."
    "I'll," agreed Ichihiro.

    The road to healing is a long one.

    July 16, 2001

    I noticed something, and I want you to know, because I don't think most people know about this, and it's going to change a few things around here: bottle caps, the kind that are on 20oz bottles of soda, that you can buy in convenience stores, of the plastic variety, you can use them with a different bottle of soda than the one they came with. Okay. That was the shittiest revelation ever.

    Idea for a viral marketing campaign: choose your target demographic, go to where they live, and litter the entire area with used (therefore low-cost) samples of your product to imply that it is widely employed within that demographic. The goal of Mountain Dew Code Red is to increase the Mountain Dew brand's numbers with black people, according to the pre-release advertising materials around the office of the last place I worked, an ad department, and I live in a strange schizophrenic area where black people are on some blocks (which happen to be run-down) and white people are on other blocks (which happen to be well-maintained), and though I have never seen any black people drinking Mountain Dew Code Red, which is not to say that I haven't seen black people drinking things, because I have seen many black people drinking many things out front on the stoop and in the park down the block, over the course of one week there were a shitload of empty bottles of Mountain Dew Code Red strategically placed and neatly spaced out in the gutters on the blocks with black people, and then there were no more, and never has there been another one. It was odd. If it was an actual campaign, it didn't work, I guess. Were you able to follow that sentence? Writing it was a pleasant, lilting experience.

    (baseball) After the game, (Ichiro) Suzuki was asked about making contributions with his defense, while he is struggling on offense. "That's a question the Japanese media would ask," said Suzuki, who is boycotting the Japanese media along with (Kazuhiro) Sasaki, his countryman.

    Ichiro! How can you say that? I would never ask a question like that. I challenge anyone to provide an example of me asking that sort of question. Now I'm starting to wonder if Ichiro is just making excuses to avoid talking to me and the rest of the Japanese media. Regardless, I will continue to keep up my end of the bargain. Ichiro has indeed been struggling at the plate, although in light of his fine achievements this season, it would be petty to complain. He will get back on track. Kazuhiro, however, is at the top of his game. Kalamazoo Kazu, as he could be nicknamed if he had anything to do with the city of Kalamazoo, MI, pitched in the ninth inning of a recent game and earned a 'save' for ensuring the victory. Huzzah!

    When I grow up, there will be dancing bears.

    July 13, 2001

    Are you alright? You look tired.

    (news) All-Stars Ichiro Suzuki and Kazuhiro Sasaki are fed up with the Japanese media covering their play with the Seattle Mariners. The two players from Japan issued a joint statement Thursday saying they will not talk to the Japanese press corps until further notice. "Their position is that it's important their privacy away from the ballpark be respected," said Tim Hevly, director of media relations for the Mariners. "And until such time they feel the Japanese media gives them that respect, they will be unable to speak with Japanese media."

    I know that I wouldn't be traditionally classified as part of the Japanese media, but I can't help but feel bad about this. I admit, I have probably not given Ichiro and Kazuhiro the respect they deserve. My relationship with both of them, especially Kazuhiro, has been tenuous at best. They have achieved many things: home runs, strikeouts, nominations to All-Star teams. I have given those achievements no mention on this webpage, speaking instead about monkeys, many of whom are unambitious and content to let the Yankees of New York retain their World Series crown unchallenged, unlike Ichiro and Kazuhiro, who work very hard toward that end and deserve respect that the "Japanese media", aka I woke up in a strange place, has not given them. Ichi? Kazu? I'm sorry. I think it's great what you've done. From now on, I will talk about Ichiro and Kazuhiro instead of monkeys. Let the healing begin.

    If there was any way to do a Man On The Street segment on this webpage without recalling the Onion, I would do one, and I would ask everyone why they are trying to kill me, because I'd really like to know about that.

    July 10, 2001

    The pizza has been claimed. Please do not send me any more emails about it. Today's food offering is the end-slice of a load of bread that I purchased yesterday. I made a sandwich last night and skipped past the end-slice; if left to my own devices, I will probably use it for toast in a couple weeks, but it will be a compromise choice, made because for some reason I don't have the time or milk to invest in mac 'n cheese and I don't want to eat cat food, being a strictly people food sort of guy. So, as you can see, the end-slice is not precious to me, and it can be yours, for a low low price, if you want it because you're all worked up about missing out on the pizza.

    I went downstairs to get the mail in my underwear. Hoo boy! That ruled. It would have been better if I'd had any mail, though.

    I had the 'naked in a video store' dream last night. I was in the sci-fi section of That's Rentertainment, the hipster video store I frequented in college, and I covered my private bits with a VHS copy of George Lucas's THX 1138. I didn't want to rent it, though, so I was stuck. It was very awkward. Someone in the dream made a joke about renting porn videos while naked. Then I had a torrid love affair with the blonde police officer who was sent to arrest me, but it fell apart because she was part of a Christian sect that didn't believe in metaphors.

    I've been sleeping too much lately.

    (interview: Thom Yorke) Laptops are the new electric guitar, I reckon, but I still love electric guitars, and drums, and singing ...

    Yeah! Yeah. Did you hear that? Hah. Yeah. Fuckers.

    CDNOW: A number of so-called Radiohead "imitators" crept up in the last few years in the wake of OK Computer. How big a factor was that in the radical new direction taken by Kid A? Do you feel proud or dismayed by the fact that other bands are so obviously influenced by your sound and trying to make their own version of it?
    YORKE: This question makes me feel ill.

    I like listening to Thom Yorke's music, but I would not like to interview him. He seems rather cranky. If I was a journalist, though, and the publication was very powerful and influential, I would conduct a series of interviews - and I'd have to finish the series before any of them were published - where, instead of asking awkward questions like that one, I would poke the celebrity. I think you could learn a lot about a person from how they'd respond to a situation like that, probably more than with actual questions, especially seeing as how language is getting deconstructed and all. Did you hear about that? Man, stop it. I need language, for this thing that I'm working on. You can have it when I'm done.

    July 9, 2001

    I rolled out of bed (or off the couch, as it were) and felt a twinge of hunger; in my half-asleep state, I wandered into the kitchen and put a pizza in the oven. Now that I am fully awake, I am not hungry any more; the twinge passed, and I don't want the pizza. Shit. Does anyone want a pizza? If you brought me a cookie in trade, which would be a very good trade for you, I'd be very pleased and ready to get on with my day.

    All of my Ethiopian readers are probably giving me the finger right now.

    Hiro, one of my former co-workers from Beelzetron, just emailed me: apparently, our player-hating supervisor was laid off in the recent 'restructuring' and Hiro - who has the same position I did - wasn't. Man, if I'd have stayed on there for a few more weeks, that would have been a great plot development! By the time I left, she was the only person in the entire company who knew what I was supposed to be doing with my time. Everyone else just assumed I was working on whatever I was supposed to be working on and left me alone. Ah, well. That one's for the old readers.

    There is a lot of news that I need to catch up with: most importantly, from the international desk, this came to my attention:

    (news) Iran's state telecoms monopoly has ordered tough new restrictions on Internet use, requiring service providers to block some sites and barring access to the Web for under-18s, newspapers said on Sunday. Regulations issued by the Iran Telecommunications Company order Internet service providers (ISPs) to filter all materials presumed immoral or contrary to state security, including the Web sites of opposition groups, the Hambastegi newspaper said.

    Well, if this webpage isn't contrary to state security in Iran, I don't know what is, so they're probably going to block this soon. For the benefit of readers in Iran, then, who may not be able to read this webpage much longer, I am going to give away the ending. The rest of you skip ahead to the next paragraph, which will be about monkeys. Iranians, swipe the black space below with your cursor to highlight the invisible text:

    Dr Zaius continues to deny that human beings, not apes, were once the dominant species on the planet. I uncover the ruins of a house, and I show everyone a human doll with a voice box. The apes are shocked. Dr Zaius admits that he knew it all along, but warns me that I'd better not go any further, or I won't like what I find. I ignore him, for I do not trust him. In my estimation, he is a damn dirty ape. I walk on for miles. Then, just over a ridge, I receive an unpleasant shock: the Statue of Liberty, buried up to its head in sand! I fall to my knees. You maniacs! You blew it up! Damn you! God damn you all to hell! I am inconsolable. Eventually, I settle down with a nice chimpanzee and raise a family. The sequel webpage is a tense family drama entitled I Woke Up In A Place That Was Very Familiar To Me, in which the chimp and I try to rekindle the sparks in our relationship and one of our children joins a bonobo wank circle on the wrong side of the tracks.

    Bet you didn't see that coming, did you?

    In more international news, I talked to my friend Nora last week. She has been to India, because she worked on a Let's Go guide there, and she verified that they actually do have monkeys running around all over the place. They're not making that up. So, that's great. Here is a picture of a monkey in India. What do you think he's doing in front of that fort? I hope he's not a general of an army.

    July 6, 2001

    Here is the dream that I had: I was in Montana, during the winter. The retelling of dreams is never as interesting to the listener as it is to the person telling it, of course, but you lean forward anyway, because it's been a while since you've heard from me and you're eager for any insight the dream might give into my ever-mysterious mental state. I was in a bus depot, and it was night-time. I was reading a magazine, and it had an article about Harrison Ford. Harrison Ford has a ranch in Montana. I know that from my conscious life, having known a girl whose parents knew the people who built the ranch for Harrison. Back to the dream: the article says that Harrison Ford and James Caan are great friends. They spend a lot of time together. I make a mental note to email my friend Rory about this. Then James Caan himself walks into the bus depot. He is wearing a green parka with a fur-lined hood. He sits down and we exchange friendly greetings. I am aware that he doesn't know that I know about him and Harrison Ford. James Caan asks if he can read my newspaper. I have a newspaper with me. It is a week old. That is another element from real life: there is a week-old sports section underneath my desk, where I can't reach it without an effort, from a week ago, when they had the NBA draft and the Bulls did all sorts of things. I tell James Caan that the newspaper is a week old. Oh, he says. Happens to him all the time. I stand, and I walk into the other room, where teenagers are having an ice cream social. They love me at ice cream socials, so I hang out with them. After a few minutes, James Caan comes in. The teenagers are young, and they are not familiar with his movies, so they do not recognize him. James Caan begins starting shit at the ice cream social. I politely request that James calm down. He assures me that he is just having some fun, and then he throws a table across the room. I tell him to stop it. We battle. Through the next door is an abandoned industrial warehouse, of course, and we fight our way through it. My kung fu is mighty, and I land the most powerful blows, but it soon becomes clear that James Caan cannot be killed. The fight scene covers literally two hours of dream-time. I try everything, from acid baths to giant concrete slabs, but it only slows his relentless approach. Back in the other room, the teenagers keep trying to resume the ice cream social. James Caan is beginning to wear me down. He cannot be killed. Finally, in my most desperate hour, a plan arrives: I lift James Caan above my head and throw him through the window, out into the parking lot. He is stunned, because it is very cold outside, and there is snow on the ground. I run outside and begin shouting for Harrison Ford. The only way for total disaster to be averted is for Harrison Ford to come pick up his guest. Many headlights switch on. The dream ends with me shouting and James Caan stirring...

    Oh, you know I love you.

    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.