I woke up in a strange place

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

February 27, 2002

I had an idea for a good mysterious scrap of paper to be left behind by vanished settlers at a distant outpost. It will either have to be in Antarctica or outer space, since that vanished settler shit doesn't really fly in Naperville, but, okay, the settlers have been dropped off and left to put their settlement together, and the main ship heads back for supplies. It returns to check on them a year later, and they are all gone, vanished without a trace - except one scrap of paper, or perhaps one piece of writing on a wall:

we haue receivd strange and divers cookies

And then the mystery about where they got off to is never solved. Puts Roanoke to shame, I think. I received some strange cookies yesterday, so I was thinking about that.

Some people have been asking when I am going to get my monkey football team off the ground. I bought a GameCube with my income tax refund, and I bought a pair of sports games (Madden Football and FIFA Soccer) with the intention of using the Create-A-Player feature to assemble entire teams of monkeys to dominate the sports world. (I checked both of the manuals, and there is nothing in the rule book that says I can't have an orangutan playing goalie.) My plan has been carefully drawn and has a number of stages that will ensure its success. I am trying to get better at both of the games so the monkeys won't lose all the time and get discouraged. I think I am ready to move forward with the monkey soccer team first. (There are still some lingering questions about who will play what position on the football team.) I am leaning toward entering them in the English Premier League first, although I may have them beat up on the American MLS first. I'm not sure. Anyhow, leading a team of monkeys to victory in the World Cup is a much better and more satisfying goal than my previous ones regarding writing and performing, so I have reoriented my efforts in that direction.

Parents should dream of their children's disillusionment being as elegant as mine.

Here are a pair of topical linky-links: Evidently, Irvine Welsh is doing a free reading and DJ session at the Metro on Thursday. I might go to that, if I don't get too wrapped up in the monkey soccer issue. Also, I should note that the band Cornershop released a new single entitled "Lessons Learned From Rocky I to Rocky III". I haven't heard the song, but I'm humming it, if you know what I mean.

Here are a few new plays starring the ever-popular CHARACTER and his friend / enemy, INTERVIEWER:


Glaring at each other, the CHARACTER and the INTERVIEWER head in separate directions: One to the dinner buffet, and one to the ice cream machine. It is not entirely clear which is which. The CHARACTER exits, his plate full, and the INTERVIEWER is left alone onstage.

INTERVIEWER: I hate that guy.

The INTERVIEWER is consumed by his hatred. This is all ironic and shit, because he's at a buffet.


The INTERVIEWER has turned off his tape recorder. From across the table, he glares angrily at the CHARACTER.

INTERVIEWER: I am tired of talking about your penis.
CHARACTER: My penis is part of me.
INTERVIEWER: I don't deny that, but...
CHARACTER: I'm not about to deny a part of myself. When you ask me questions, I have to answer, as myself. I can't be true to the interview process unless I am myself. Therefore, a proportional percentage of my answers to your questions will be about my cock.
INTERVIEWER: I hate you.
CHARACTER: You're the one asking the damn questions.
INTERVIEWER: Why can't you just be interviewed? God! Yeah, you're playing within the rules, but you're using a technicality as a cheap excuse to talk about your penis. How would you feel if I just used questions from cock-rock song lyrics to do the interview?
CHARACTER: Go right ahead.
INTERVIEWER: Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto.
CHARACTER: That's not even a question.
INTERVIEWER: I want to know where love is. I want you to show-ow me.
CHARACTER: Ha! You have fallen right into my trap! I can work mention of my penis into that answer very easily!
INTERVIEWER: (to himself) I must do better. I have it! (looks up) If you choose not to decide, have you still made a choice?
CHARACTER: Well, my cock...Wait! Those are Rush lyrics!
CHARACTER: You have linked Rush and my cock?!?
INTERVIEWER That's my trap for you, motherfucker!
CHARACTER: I am slain.

The CHARACTER is slain.


The interview is going reasonably well to this point. The audience is tense, wondering how long the tenuous peace between the INTERVIEWER and the CHARACTER can last.

INTERVIEWER: Have you been eating enough potatoes?
CHARACTER: Oh, sure. I have french fries, tater tots, mashed potatoes. What was once a glaring hole in my diet has become one of the strong points, really.
INTERVIEWER: That's great to hear.

The audience gasps, surprised that the INTERVIEWER's response did not incorporate the word 'motherfucker'.

INTERVIEWER: And what do you have there?
CHARACTER: This is a potato gun.
INTERVIEWER: Oh, neat. Like in high school science classes.
CHARACTER: Yep. I made one for myself.
INTERVIEWER: What do you do with it?
CHARACTER: Well, it's a potato gun...
CHARACTER: I shoot potatoes with it.
INTERVIEWER: That is the stupidest shit I have ever heard.

The audience erupts in cheers, finally getting the friction they came to see.

CHARACTER: Fuck you, it's stupid. Maybe you never heard of a little thing called the Irish Potato Famine.
CHARACTER: I shoot the damn potatoes because I remember the Irish Potato Famine and I don't intend to let it happen again. I shoot the potatoes dead!
INTERVIEWER: I am so fucking tired of interviewing you. I hate you more than poop on toast.

A generation passes, and the INTERVIEWER dies of the Irish Potato Famine. Now, it is the INTERVIEWER who looks foolish, not the CHARACTER. But then, we are forced to consider that the CHARACTER is alone in a universe with a god that has a really faulty understanding of history, and suddenly, the CHARACTER seems to be the real fool. The audience considers the issues and becomes remarkably enlightened, much more so than all of the other audiences at the other plays, who come to appear moronic by comparison.

February 25, 2002

As a result of gifts received during this most recent birthday, I have a large gorilla in my bedroom, and he is cradling a real explosive device in his hand, a long red industrial fuse. He is called Amigo. I say this so you will understand that when I refer to a monkey with an explosive device in the corner of my bedroom, it is not a metaphor for me, but is, in fact, an actual monkey.

I have long resisted decorating my cubicle. I don't want to dignify the abstract notion of the cubicle as a residence for a human being by personalizing it, and the rabbi is always yammering on about the numerous horror movie-themed items in the cubicle behind mine, so I could bring in flyers from indie rock shows or plays I did, but then I'd have to sit through the rabbi's stand-up routine about them every week or two, and it would be more of a pain than it was worth. The rabbi can get kind of obnoxious like that. Recently, though, my mother gave me a picture frame that has space for three wallet-sized photos of family members, and since I don't really have any family members to put in there, I decided to fill it with some of the monkey photos that people like to give me. After due consideration, the three that were chosen, from left to right:

  • Sad baboon in black-and-white with caption, "Zoo animals suffered at hands of Taliban";
  • Suave gorilla in color that came with Telemundo, a stuffed monkey that I got for Christmas;
  • Happy chimpanzee wearing eye-glasses in black and white, clipped from newspaper ad.

    The thing about me is, I engage in dadaist acts of aggression because I am too lazy to communicate with other people. I figured that the monkeys would pose a devastating critique to work-place iconography, and anyway, I could look at the monkeys while I was on the phone and try to make faces like them. Shortly after arriving at work, the curious rabbi noticed the pictures and conspired to get me away from my cubicle so he could figure out what this new addition to my desk was. From afar, I heard him enlisting the horror fan's help in figuring out why I had a bunch of monkey pictures in my cubicle. I yelled at him, and the rabbi beat a hasty retreat. Later in the afternoon, he came out of his office and asked me to explain the monkeys for him. Improvising, I said that the baboon was a reminder of injustice and suffering, that the chimp was a symbol of the joy of learning, of study, of rigorous pursuit of knowledge, and fortunately I didn't have to come up with anything for the suave gorilla, because everyone was laughing except the bewildered rabbi, who told me that I was strange and again beat a hasty retreat.

    An INTERVIEWER enters, with a notepad, to speak to the CHARACTER.

    INTERVIEWER: Tell me about your project.
    CHARACTER: Well, I bought this video game, FIFA Soccer, for my video game system. Soccer is a popular sport. They call it football in other countries, because the players use their feet to play the game, for the most part.
    INTERVIEWER: Go on...
    CHARACTER: And what I'm selling are called "All-American Memory Cards". See, you need a memory card to save your game. It's this thing you buy and you put it into a slot in the video game system and then it remembers what games you've played and what teams you've beat. Well, they have a lot of teams in the FIFA, and it was really bothering me that the teams from the Axis of Evil, you know, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, they like soccer too, and their teams are good, and I think it's anti-American, because your American team might lose to the Axis of Evil team.
    INTERVIEWER: So, what you're selling...
    CHARACTER: What I do is I beat all of the Axis of Evil teams, and then I save it on the memory card, and then I sell it to you, so your memory card is pro-America, instead of being blank and potentially anti-America.
    INTERVIEWER: I hate you.
    CHARACTER: I make a lot of money.
    INTERVIEWER: I hate you a lot.
    CHARACTER: Axis-of-Evil-loving motherfucker.

    They move to opposite ends of the stage, which is revealed to be an All-You-Can-Eat buffet.

    I have a mad lust to live in, to inhabit hundreds of different places without ever touching down completely.

    February 23, 2002

    Things are getting hectic around my apartment. I think I melted a section of my carpet last night. I'm not even sure what I did. I need a table. I need some time. I need yoo-oo-ou.

    (news) "Civilized people -- Muslims, Christians and Jews -- all understand that the source of freedom and human dignity is the Creator," (Attorney General John D.) Ashcroft said in prepared remarks released by the Justice Department. "Civilized people of all religious faiths are called to the defense of His creation. We are a nation called to defend freedom -- a freedom that is not the grant of any government or document, but is our endowment from God."

    Okay. Raise your hand if you have had it with this Creator and want to go back to the golden calf. Seriously. The freedom endowment is fine, but we are consistently getting screwed on a number of the auxiliary terms, and have you heard what the golden calf is offering? I don't know either, but I'm willing to listen. The God of Ashcroft. Shit. Man, the golden calf is fucking gold. That's really impressive. That implies a lot about what the golden calf can do for us and how it should be treated. It's right here, not up on some damn mountain, and we can just carry it around and worship it whenever we're in the mood. So, in conclusion, I think we should at least give the golden calf some consideration at this point in time.

    All week, I have been feeling tired and dizzy at work, because the air circulation is terrible there, and I keep getting this memo in my inbox:




    And I sit there thinking, wait, what has my ego been doing? Where has it been? Was I there? When did they hire the guy from "Top Gun"? If that guy was a rabbi in real life, I'd probably be pleased. I think other people would, too. I'd probably go be Jewish in my spare time and cause some form of chaos so his yarmulke fell off and he'd yell.

    I had a pretty good birthday. Things seemed to go right for me all day long: trains and buses, mostly. The breaks went my way. I had a long, aimless dinner with friends at a Mexican restaurant. For me, that is happiness.

    Today, I went for a haircut. There is a small salon a few blocks from my apartment that is run by a pair of European women who don't speak very much English, and that suits my purposes. I don't like making small talk while getting my hair cut. Their other customers, from what I've seen of them, don't seem to speak much English either. Most of them look like hockey players. I have this idea in my head that the two women were hair-cutting geniuses who were run out of their native country by an oppressive regime of some kind and have unassumingly set up shop in America, so they should be trusted on all hair issues. The woman who cut my hair today only knows two phrases: "Yeah, okay?" and "Thank you." She also knows the word "Short". She can use it two ways: to ask if I want my hair short, and to explain why she lowers the chair, because she, herself, is short. I admire that kind of ingenuity. Since we can't exchange anything other than those words (I only permit myself "Good!"), she uses her own judgment as to how my hair should be cut, and I don't mind that. I have no idea how my hair should look. When she's not looking, I try to strike intense poses like the European models in the pictures on the walls. Inevitably, my intense expressions become monkey faces.

    February 19, 2002

    I am back from the polar wilderness. It is nice up there. You should come.

    It was twenty-four years ago today that I was born. The main thing about me when I was in the womb was that I had a fucking sweet umbilical cord. A lot of fetuses don't really know what to do with their umbilical cords, so they just sit around and receive nutrients from it. I used mine to practice martial arts maneuvers, which is why I am so good now. Expectant mothers who want their sons to be cowboys would be well-advised to get them started with the umbilical lasso early in gestation. You can't waste any time. The world is speeding up. Have you even heard about entropy? Damn. Careers.

    There was some controversy over the rabbi's announcement last week that this year's Clementines are for shit. The rabbi is a guy who employs me to write and research various things for him. He likes oranges a lot, and was therefore pretty concerned about the recent declining quality of Clementine oranges. Among the cooler heads that fortunately prevailed in the debate was Jenny Gerbi, who sent this explanation:

    The Clementines are for shit this year because of the Mediterranian fruit fly- spain clementines are no longer allowed until they fix their ships so the cold holds will kill the fly larvae, (which, apparently, will distroy everything south of Illinois) and the SHITTY clementines are from morocco. I'm not sure why people are so scared of fruitflies, but there it is. It's been a pretty miserable year for citrus all around, if you count the "midwest fresh" crap I seem to be getting around here, even from Whole Foods.

    That explanation was relayed to the rabbi, who replied:

    thank you,it is now explainedbut nevertheless ia m bereft!

    His typing style is marvelous. He just kind of mashes his hands against the keyboard until he gets a parliamentary majority of the letters he wants. That's why I do most of the writing. He's a great guy, though.

    A number of my friends were born around the same time I was, so there has been a lot of discussion of ages recently. I liked 22. I thought that was a good number. 23 was okay, but I thought 24 might be better in terms of conveying the right index of youthful promise and maturity. Then someone pointed out that 24 is the official beginning of Your Mid-Twenties, and now I am thinking that 24 is perhaps not so good. I don't want to be in my mid-twenties yet. There is not much I can accomplish with that thought, unless there is a 22 year old who is looking to trade up for some reason. (I will throw in a draft pick from my early fifties.)

    It's easier to age, I think, if you're actually doing anything with your life, even simple things, like a job that is leading somewhere, or love. You can outline your life with those things and allow for the grand accidents to happen in between. I was the ultimate wonder boy at 22, and now I am a problem for the team's salary cap, like a rabbi without his clementines. But I am very familiar with martial arts.

    This hot piece of ancient ass is Cleopatra. She lived in Egypt more than two thousand years ago. I am long overdue to see the exhibit about her that is presently at the Field Museum in Chicago. It ends on March 3rd. The Field Museum did a bang-up job on their last major exhibition, the Russian Gold That Had Never Been Out Of Russia Before, and this one looks very promising as well. I want you to understand that I would never use the phrase "hot piece of ass" in everyday conversation, but the phrase "hot piece of ancient ass" in reference to Cleopatra signifies my participation in cultural dialectics, a brilliant subversion of multiple academic and social paradigms. I hope that was clear. Most of the problems in my life have been caused by people not knowing when I am serious, aside from the time when I was five and a skunk lost his shit in our area of the trailer park where we were living, and a couple other examples that I could probably come up if I tried, but not many. I am not such a bad guy if you consider all the paradigms I am subverting. Anyway, you're certainly welcome to come to the exhibition. The admission is, if I remember correctly, pretty reasonable, given how hot she is and all.

    February 15, 2002

    I have some advice, and I know it is a day late, but you can't stop the flow. Here is the advice: Every year, I talk to at least one perfectly reasonable, pleasant person who, despondent over being single on Valentine's Day, declares that they are going to turn gay or lesbian. Now, I have never been gay on Valentine's Day, but I don't think that's a solution to the problem, because there are probably a lot of gay people who sit around all the time and can't find a date for all the same reasons that straight people can't. If you are looking to exempt yourself from Valentine's Day, don't turn gay (or straight). Turn model train enthusiast. Have you ever seen those guys? Do you think they are the slightest bit perturbed about not having a date on Valentine's Day? Hell no. They have little people to paint. They just got this new convenience store, and they are trying to decide which junction would be most economically appropriate for it, Stonybrook or Westhead. They are reading a book on how responsible model train enthusiasts incorporate continental drift into their layouts. They are much more protected from the torments of Valentine's Day than gay people, because the strips of plastic grass create a stuffy yet vibrantly colored and photo-realistic zen state. So, if you're serious, turn model train enthusiast. That is my advice, for all the frustrated lovers.

    I am going to the polar wilderness this weekend.

    February 14, 2002

    I hope that everyone who reads this is having a great day. My day has been okay. The weather where I am is uninspiring. How is it by you? I have to say, your local sports team is my second favorite. They are a great bunch, who play with heart.

    My friend Mike Saul aged today. Huzzah, Michael Saul, greatest of the Sauls! A brief selection of other, lesser Sauls:

    Saul of Tarsus: In the Bible. Persecuted Christians, then changed his name to Paul for some damn reason and persecuted non-Christians. Persecution sucks. My friend Mike Saul persecutes nobody. Also, he is featured in a number of my plays, which are funnier than the parts of the Bible featuring Saul or Tarsus.
    Saul Bass: Did brilliant title sequences for Hitchcock films. Greatest title designer in film history. Never bought me a fucking milkshake. My friend Mike Saul has bought me milkshakes.
    Saul Bellow: Author of great renown. His books are much-read and appreciated, but only by those who can read. My friend Mike Saul is loved by the literate and illiterate alike.
    Saul Smith: Played college basketball. Did not score enough points for his team to win all the games. Now plays in the NBA developmental league, where he does not average many points. My friend Mike Saul scores on the powerful give-and-go play when he and I are on the same team in basketball.
    King Saul: First King of Israel. Total fuckup. God boots him from the throne because he gets jealous of his son and destroys the Amalekites but spares King Agag, which God specifically said not to do. Did he think God wasn't going to notice? My friend Mike Saul was not the first king of Lisle, a suburb of Chicago, but he was in a parade once, when he was a child, and unlike King Saul, he did not get booted from the parade. My friend Mike Saul screws up sometimes, but not that bad.
    Saul Family History: Guy said he was going to design a website where people with the last name Saul could post their family history. Totally hasn't. My friend Mike Saul finished his damn website.
    Saul Zaentz: Movie producer. Seems like a good guy, although his physique suggests that he does not know martial arts. My friend Mike Saul knows some moves.
    Saul Jimenez: Openly admits that his resume is not current, puts it on the web anyway. What the shit? My friend Mike Saul has a resume, and you can bet that if he put it on the web, it would be current.
    John Ralston Saul: Author. Known to associate with Canadians. Bald. My friend Mike Saul has hair to spare. He has been to Canada, but he knows to keep them at an arm's reach, because those French Canadians are liable to just lose it at any moment.
    Joe Saul: Put zany quotes from his year-long role-playing campaign online, which is probably the worst non-porn thing that can be done with web. Quotes are run through with extremely creepy sexual tension typical of the milieu (geeks who ain't getting any). Has them archived by session and date. Has kept them online for seven years. My friend Mike Saul likes to play the strategy game Axis and Allies, but he doesn't try to get the Pacific to blow him or anything. God.
    Saul Alinsky: Heroic labor organizer. Died in 1972. Therefore, my friend Mike Saul could beat him in a race.
    John Saul: Author. Referred to as a 'master of supernatural terror'. Gives books intense titles with 'Hell' and 'Dragon' in the title. Clearly trying too hard. My friend Mike Saul is good at not trying to hard, relaxing and sitting around.
    Saul Mandel: Artist. Terrifying work. My friend Mike Saul has never drawn a picture of a clown making out with a giant dog. You wouldn't think you'd have to tell people not to do that, but apparently you do.
    Saul Adelman: Got his PhD in astronomy. My friend Mike Saul got his PhD in life on the streets, also in suburban punk music circa 1991-97. Two beats one.
    Saul Pullman: Retired. Had his tonsils out. Hangs out with old people now and thinks that makes him cool. My friend Mike Saul is proletarian, working class, and has tonsils, I think.
    Dr. Saul Miller: Sports psychologist, seems to be focused on hockey. Okay. That's got to be a hilarious job. Mike Saul could make many funny jokes about situations that would arise in that job. He's a great guy.

    February 13, 2002

    So, who do I have to blow to get into the Axis of Evil? I am not planning to harbor any terrorists, even though I do have a spare room, but public denouncement by George W. Bush would do wonders for my reputation as a martial artist. I will even help with the speech:

    ...these countries (Iran, Iraq), which have continued to harbor those who hold the means for chemical and biological warfare, and the enigmatic M. Heiden, who continues to harbor special fighting moves which can do fierce multi-damage...<

    No, but in all seriousness, I am starting a pool on when Monster Island shows up in the Axis of Evil. For those who are taking the long bets, I would suggest that you consider that the actual President of the United States actually made reference to an "Axis of Evil" while the whole world was watching. I am betting nine months.

    There are six more days until my 24th birthday.

    On Saturday we played basketball in the puddles on a public court, encircled by slush and overseen by a fading mural of Roberto Clemente, and on Sunday we bowled. The always thought-provoking DJ at the Diversey River Bowl raised the issue of Gary Numan's "Cars" midway through the second game, spectre of tragic nobility that it is, for Gary Numan chose automobiles as his metaphor for emotional isolation through technology like ten minutes before computers arrived to render all previous metaphors in that category irrelevant. I bowled okay, and I played okay. The mural of Roberto Clemente is fading, and soon it will be gone.

    Puddles have never been a problem.

    February 12, 2002

    I am trying to be helpful, because I want to rehabilitate my reputation, so I have invented a new form of poetry. Many people would like to be poets, and the fact is that the world at present has a shining abundance of people who are very good at every aspect of being a poet - the faraway gaze when mundane worldly matters are being discussed, the willingness to make statements about how modern relationships work, candles all over the place, frequent use of meaningful glances that are intended to be rich with implication - everything you'd expect from a classic poet, other than the actual production of good poetry.

    Well, in helpful fashion, because I am not such a bad guy, I have chosen to blame form for the lack of good poetry. I mean, shit. Sonnets are all fine and good, but who has that kind of time any more? A, B and C? This is the age of efficiency. C gets spun off into its own poem at the first hint of marketability. And some jerk starts yapping about villanelles, all I got to say is, look, I have a mortgage to think about. (I do not have a mortgage, but I am claiming that I do, in order to appear as a sympathetic, proletarian character.) If function is to follow form, and the function has not functioned, then form must be held liable.

    Okay. Clear your mind. Think about clouds or something. Then, read this:


    Sandwich, sandwich
    Where the fuck are you

    Beautiful, right? I mean, that guy wants a sandwich. I can relate to that. (I wrote it, but still.) Now, since it is a beautiful poem, everyone who read it probably assumed that I spent several weeks working on it. Let me tell you a secret: I wrote it really quickly. Don't tell the Norton Anthology, but I pretty much wrote it as I typed it. You probably think I got lucky. Fine. Watch me do it again:


    Fat guy bowling
    Fat guy bowling, fat guy bowling
    God damn, he got four strikes in a row
    Fat guy bowling

    No, that wasn't an excerpt from The Odyssey, nor was it Tennyson in Arthurian mode. I totally just wrote it. Doesn't it say something about where we are, as human beings, in this space and time? Doesn't that truth extend beyond the words, into the very genetic makeup of the poem itself? Welcome, gentle readers. Welcome to the Complaintet. Here is how it is done:


    For many unfortunate poets, titles are like premature ejaculation. They come up with something really loaded, really promising, and the poem never lives up to it. Fuck it. The title is an ode to whatever the poem is about. That way the reader knows where you're going, and they can decide, Okay, I would like to read a poem about food, where can I find one? There's one. Cheers.


    The first line is a single word or short phrase. It is the topic of your poem.

    Valentine's Day

    That lets the reader know that the title matches the poem, that there wasn't some filing mistake where the poem about buildings wound up with the title of a poem about sex. Then, the second line repeats the first line twice. Repetition is powerful. It places emphasis on what was said before and creates a sense of urgency.

    Valentine's Day, Valentine's Day

    The third line bares your soul. It must contain either the word 'fuck' or the phrase 'God damn'. Both are very intense things to say.

    Wearing a brown paper bag over my god damn head

    The fourth line repeats the second line, except cut in half, so it's only once. This is very poignant. The reader must now reconsider the topic in light of what you have said in the poem.

    Valentine's Day

    If you are reading the poem out loud, you get all quiet at that point.

    Let's see all the pieces put together:


    Valentine's Day
    Valentine's Day, Valentine's Day
    Wearing a brown paper bag over my god damn head
    Valentine's Day

    Well. I think that speaks for itself. Poetry lives again. I hope you enjoy the complaintet and have success using it to communicate something true about yourself to the world. I have written 834 complaintets today alone.


    Oh, sure. The first, second and fourth lines should rhyme.

    February 8, 2002

    The rabbi would like me to pass along the following:

    1. This year's crop of Clementine oranges are for shit. He doesn't know why.
    2. Reading the biblical accounts of arrogance and hubris in Ezekiel is crucial to understanding Hitler and Lenin. (And the eponymous dancer in "He's The Greatest Dancer" by Sister Sledge.)
    3. Okay, the bit about Sister Sledge was me. But it does follow. I mean, the greatest of all dancers? There are a lot of dancers in the world.

    I wonder sometimes if there is any real purpose to these immense essays that the rabbi has me write, particularly the beast on arrogance and hubris that I'm currently working on, and if perhaps he's just trying to send me a message with them. Like I have said before, I wouldn't put anything past that guy. Man, I don't even own a bible. This job is crazy. I like it, though.

    People are always dropping hints about hubris around me. Look, I'm not being excessively arrogant. All I'm saying is, I am really quite crafty.


    CHARACTER: What are you doing for spring break?
    OTHER CHARACTER: I'm going to get coked up, go over to P.T. Anderson's house and listen to records!!!
    CHARACTER: Fuckin' A!!! I want to come!!!
    OTHER CHARACTER: Do you even understand what it means when I quote Supertramp lyrics to you?!? What I am trying to say?!?
    CHARACTER: Do you even think I believe in an interventionist God?!?

    They fuck.

    CHARACTER: I can't bring my mother to any of the places I go...dirty, terrible places where I do these things...but she's always with me, do you understand? She always comes along, even, especially when she can't...I don't want to say 'comes' about my mother. I don't want to say that.
    OTHER CHARACTER: I don't know where anything is any more.

    They cry, and hold each other safe against the night.

    As a playwright, I have often been hampered by my sentimental belief that CHARACTER and OTHER CHARACTER make a cute couple.

    February 7, 2002

    After two months of work, I finally brought in a piece of decoration for my cubicle. It is a picture of a monkey. He looks very suave.

    I did watch the Super Bowl this weekend. I can only really get interested in most sports for the communal aspect. It's nice when the communal aspect includes food. Yum. This was only the second Super Bowl I'd seen from start to finish (the first is no mystery). I had to avoid last year's game for fear that I might see the commercials that the unfortunate conglomerate of my then-employment created to advertise themselves. This year, no such concerns. Nothing much of note during the broadcast other than the conclusion of the game, which was a stirring testimony to the human spirit. I forgot to watch for the tax commercial that the Coen Brothers directed. I did my own taxes, so my unemployed-for-half-the-year ass was not its target market. But if the proceeds help the Coens afford a better class of monkey for their next movie, which may or may not involve a monkey (I don't know anything more than you do), that's fine. I'm not about to dictate.

    Here is an idea for a commercial, developed while watching the Super Bowl:

    There is a monkey in a living room. It is a well-apportioned home, speaking to ownership by an upper middle class family. The monkey is throwing his feces. This is energetic, excited feces throwing - not angry feces throwing. We include a close-up on the monkey's face to indicate that it is a smiling monkey. The monkey finally runs through his supply of feces and ambles off in search of the bananas with which to generate more. His shit is everywhere. The family returns home and contemplates their feces-spattered domestic splendor. Most of the family is distressed, but the (mother?) remains calm. She sends the other family members on their way and breaks out the (Febreze?). In a series of close-ups, we see her applying the cleaning product. Then, we pull back to see the rest of the family re-entering the living room, where the mother has just finished her work. The living room is sparkling new. The father shakes his head. "It's as though there was never a monkey throwing his feces around in here!" The family grins, and we center on the product logo.

    Alternatively, the mother selects the wrong cleaning product. She then has friends over, and they all comment that the place smells like monkey shit.

    A guy was singing on the train Saturday night, and another guy was perturbed about it. He asked me why the first guy was singing. I said that I didn't know. "So we have to sit here and listen to him sing?" I said that I didn't plan to do anything about it. He paused, and then he spoke. "Have you ever seen the laughing man?" I said that I had not. "He sits outside of this one Borders. I walked by him one day in the morning, and he was laughing. Then I walk by again after work, and he's still laughing. I asked him, why are you laughing? The guy stopped and looked at me. 'Richard Pryor', he said."

    February 6, 2002

    Historically, the consensus feeling about your weapons has been that they are useless against me. I have astonishing skill and technique, obviously, and the ways of evil are doomed to fail, so you should leave this planet and/or return to your lair, so on and so forth. You've heard it all before. With spring right around the corner, moving season is coming up, and many people are faced with the decision of whether to go to all the hassle of packing up their weapons and lugging them to their new apartment - or, to just leave the weapons out on the curb with their old couch. Well, before you make a decision, please read this. With the passing of time, and through experimentation, we have noted a handful of ways in which your weapons can be worthy of notice, at the very least, if not entirely useful:

    They can make toast. If there is only a little space left in the van, and it comes down to a choice between your toaster and your weapons, why not bring the weapons? Just because they were completely ineffective against my armor doesn't mean they will be ineffective against toast, unless it is armored toast, but what are the odds? And the weapons have sentimental value, whereas the toaster, you can't even remember where you got it. A bank? Your mom? all you know is, it's been there ever since you got your own place.

    Along similar lines, that shitty ion cannon that I scoffed at before I beat the crap out of your gross lizard henchman thing won't be scoffed at by your date when you use it to light the candles for a romantic dinner for two. (Just don't invite that lizard guy. Ha, ha.)

    For very large papers, when normal paperweights are too small, your weapons would be good paperweights. Why do you make your weapons so large? There is no proven size-to-effectiveness correlation. The big weapons with all the coils wow the press, though, so you do what you have to do. Anyhow, if you get into, say, architecture, what with its schematics and blueprints that tend to be very long, and you are asked to make a building in a very windy area, your weapons will be useful for keeping the blueprints from blowing away.

    For use against others who oppose me. The fact is, a lot of the people who build weapons against me are dicks. It's entirely possible that you may wind up in conflict with one of them, in which case you can use your old weapons, because those guys are totally vulnerable to the kinds of strategies that fail against me.

    They're kind of cute. Aw, insulting someone's weapons is like calling someone's baby ugly. It's just not cool. I like your weapons. They are nice. They are useless against me, but I can appreciate the care that went into making them. They look space-age, and I am flattered that you went to the trouble of building a weapon to oppose me in the first place. So, thanks. You're the best opposition that a guy could ask for.

    February 5, 2002

    Holy shit. I had to lick some profoundly awful envelopes yesterday. I don't understand what the fuck I did to deserve those envelopes. All I know is, I'm not licking any more goddam envelopes. They're going to have to hire a motherfucker whose job it is to lick envelopes for me if they want any more goddam envelopes licked. I have had it with that shit.

    The rabbi was hassling me on Friday because I've never read The Euthypro, which is apparently a foundation of goddam Western thought, or some shit like that. Fuck it. I read The Republic, and I can make Heraclitus jokes. Get off my back about the fucking Greek philosophy. I never hassle the rabbi because he hasn't read The Dark Knight Returns, which is totally a foundation of sequential art and graphic storytelling. At least I don't think he's read it. I guess I don't know. I wouldn't put anything past that guy.

    Is there a certain amount of time that you have to know a person before you can say that they are "up to (his/her) old tricks"?

    Anyway, here is a cause for riotous celebration:

    Date Mon, 4 Feb 2002 193020 -0800 (PST)
    From Manuel Pampo
    Subject The Head Man
    To heiden@enteract.com

    I finally found the author of the "Head"

    You wrote an excellent "piece" about how I posted my HUGE picture on a
    I am amazed by your works.

    Just saying Hello....

    Here are the links about me....



    Manuel "Enjoy Da Ride" Pampo
    My Pictures http//photos.yahoo.com/mpampo

    ICQ 1479310
    Yahoo ID mpampo
    MSN IM Enjoy Da Ride TRD
    Yahoo Email mpampo@yahoo.com

    People don't understand what Manuel means to me and how excited I was to receive that email. I am pretty good at writing, and usually I can use words to express how I feel about something, but this is not one of those times, because I don't think you even understand how excited I was to hear from Manuel. (See the original story of Manuel. It's from like four years ago. Four years! And now he's back!) Only people who have met me in person might start to understand, because they realize that Manuel's slogan "Enjoy Da Ride" is basically all I ever say. "Thank you, sir, thirteen cents is your change." Okay! Enjoy Da Ride! "Whatever, sir. You're always telling me to enjoy this ride, and I'm always just here at this damn Walgreens." See. That guy doesn't understand. Let me try to make this clear. I write, and I write, and I write. It takes me all this time to find verbs to go with the nouns and put the right ending on each adjective, but in the single act of posting his gigantic head in peoples' guestbooks, Manuel accomplishes with the push of a single button what it takes me millions and millions of buttons to do. Do you understand? I don't want to say that having Manuel express his approval for my work is like having Jesus give a standing ovation at the end of your student play, but it's not far off from having former President Gerald Ford do it, if you know what I mean.

    So, basically, I stopped caring about the envelopes, and I'm happy now, and I want to save orphans. Also, I want to buy some Supertramp albums. I don't know what that's all about.

    February 2, 2002

    I was, then, very, very sick. I am not completely done being sick, but the worst is past. I can't remember ever having been more sick. Sunday was the worst. I couldn't really move. I had to keep all the lights off. Even the TV or the computer monitor took the pain of my headache up to '11'. Oh! I was beset. I couldn't take any time off from work, since the rabbi is off to California this week and had to cram to make up for it, including a marathon session where we composed a letter to the New York Times calling William Safire's favorite bioethicist wack, so all I could do was be dazed and plan to pass out during most non-work periods. It sucked.

    Why does the rabbi get to go to California? Man, I never go anywhere.

    I want to apologize to the several dozen people who were referred to this webpage over the last few days in their search for information on the Mayamura vs. Chase Manhattan lawsuit. Apparently, mine was one of only two or three pages on the entire web to make mention of the lawsuit, a hefty class action affair that netted me a cool 86 cents from a credit card I'd cancelled nearly a year before. Even law-related engines like lawcrawler and ilor were referring hapless law students to me. I doubt they found anything useful. Sorry. If you actually get to meet ol' Mayamura, though, sent him my best. That guy rocks.

    Title your first book The Koran. People will think it is the other, more famous book titled The Koran, and they will buy it. Mohammed did not register The Koran as a legal trademark under U.S. copyright law, so you will not be sued.

    The sales will be good. Hopefully, they will like it so much that they will keep reading even after they've discovered that it is all about relationships and crap, not Allah.

    Muslims will not approve of this practice. It will be awkward between you and them at parties or in the elevator. They might have liked your book otherwise.

    My job began on an awkward note last month when I ate the rabbi's Hannukah present. It was chocolate. I thought it was for me. It seemed like a very nice thing for the company to do, giving all of the employees a present of some chocolate for Hannukah, but it turned out to have been for the boss man, not for me. There was a card that said as much. I was hungry, though, and didn't read the card until after I was done. I felt bad. I threw away the card and made no mention of the chocolate when the rabbi came by, and it seems safe to say, one month later, that he knew nothing about it. (I didn't want to lose the new job, but it did seem like a pretty funny reason to get fired.) On Monday, people came by to drop off a tub of Tu B'Shevat kosher trail mix. Tu B'Shevat, according to the card, is the Jewish Arbor Day. I was in a fevered, paranoid state, and the gift seemed like nothing less than an accusation, a bloody red hand on my doorstep. I gaped at it until they came back around again and dropped off a second tub for the rabbi. I calmed down. When the rabbi came by, he told me I could have his. "Merry Christmas", he said. My paranoia formed a moebius strip.

    (news) Fischer said all the Dole bananas in "Super Monkey Ball" originated in Japan, where the game was first released and "Dole was launching, as only the Japanese can, a line of luxury bananas. After all, this is the land of the $70 melon. So it was a great opportunity to do cross-promotion with them."

    I bet Mayamura eats only luxury bananas. No, seriously, what the fuck is a luxury banana? Is there a hard-scrabble, life on the streets banana? Must we ghettofy fruit? I checked the corporate webpage, but Dole Asia made no mention of the luxury bananas. They did, however, in order to illustrate the effect that Dole Asia has upon Asia, have a picture of these smiling Asians:

    So there's that. These people are eating Bright Yellow for dinner. He will be having some Bright Yellow Drink to go with his Bright Yellow Soup. I hope he's hungry.

    (news) Scientists at the World Economic Forum predicted on Friday a grim future replete with unprecedented biological threats, global warming and the possible takeover of humans by robots.

    Man, what is going on in New York? There are protests, obviously, but are the depressed mad scientists a front for the billionaire industrialist pigs or are the billionaire industrialist pigs a front for the depressed mad scientists? I mean, that was their phrasing, not mine. Possible takeover of humans by robots, indeed.

    It's such a common assumption that robots are intent upon taking over. Babies are cute, robots are bent on domination, etc. Speaking as one of the world's foremost experts on the robot mind, I don't see that humans, at present, have anything that a robot would be all that interested in. They don't care about video game systems or cars or any of that. (They just draw lots on who's going to be the video game system that day.) The average robot might want to get its hands on my kick-ass ninja rattlesnake bowling ball, if I ever buy one, but I probably never will, and further research needs to be done on whether robots would care about bowling in the first place. Robots don't want your cell phones or your CDs or your credit rating. They can get all that stuff for themselves, and without working at some dumb consulting company first. I can see how, if I was dating some cute girl, a robot might try to take over so he could make moves on her. And I have some decent leftover pizza in the fridge, but it wasn't quite so good that a robot would go so far as taking over to get at it. This planet? I don't know. It's nice, but I think if I was a robot, I'd go set up on one of the moons of Saturn and make throwing things at Earth into the national pastime.

    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.