By Marc Heiden, since 1997.
May 31, 2002 That last entry was, I think, my first written with impaired faculties and no memory the next day. (I was sick, and it was 3 or 4 a.m. Why I felt compelled right then to write something and upload it, I don't know.) As a result, I did not give much thought to the Ottoman Empire war veterans on Memorial Day. Sorry. I am thinking about them now. Are there any left? Are they allowed to get together with veterans of wars fought by other defunct countries? This world can be lonely sometimes.
Today is my last day as the Ombudsman. It has been a blistering week and I have not enjoyed it. Everybody's a goddam insult comic fresh off a week at the Catskills, man, and I'm handcuffed to say a word in response. My self-discipline is good, but I wasn't planning to waste it on this.
Here is about half of my recent reading list. I'll do the other half later.
Ultimate Spider-Man, Vols. 1 and 2
Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Bagley
Ace re-telling of Spider-Man's origin and beginnings, rebooting events to begin in more or less present times. (As a rule, even the hippest of comic book writers are about two years behind the curve when they work pop culture into their stories, and attempts to use hip youth lingo tend to make the baby Jesus cry.) Great as the Spider-Man movie was, this has an even tighter and more effective plotline for introducing all the major players and bringing them all together. Mark Bagley is a good artist and looks like my uncle Joe, so I have nothing but positive feelings for that guy. If you liked the movie and want more Spidey, these are what to get. (Vol. 1 runs parallel to the movie, more or less. Vol. 2 is uncharted territory. It features, in an encounter between Spider-Man and the Kingpin, one of the single greatest jokes in the history of the medium.)
Revenge of the Green Goblin
Roger Stern, Ron Frenz
Fairly useless story in which the Green Goblin, having escaped death through the aid of some hooded acolytes, strikes at Spider-Man where he is most vulnerable, through his toothpaste. Not bad or anything, but unremarkable and vaguely irritating. (Uses the original Spider-Man continuity, wherein all of the issues published since his first appearance in the 60s are part of his history - essentially, this is the older, experienced Spider-Man.)
Amazing Spider-Man: Coming Home
J. Michael Straczynski, John Romita Jr.
Pretty good story in which an unbeatable vampire dickhead hunts Spider-Man, who is depressed because his wife recently left him. Am I the only person who remembers Kraven? The unbeatable vampire dickhead reminded me of Kraven. Anyway, Straczynski was the creator of Babylon 5, which I have never seen, and writes a good fight scene. John Romita Jr. is a great guy, and does some lovely things with page layouts. Peter spends a fair amount of time reflecting on his youth (when he's not getting beaten up by the vampire dickhead), and it's not heavily wrapped up in past issues (other than the basic fact that Peter was dumped), so it serves as a nice ten-years-on from the movie.
Superman: No Limits!
Fairly good collection, with a few really good stories and a couple of bland ones, though it's hampered by moronic sequencing of the individual issues - the most interesting subplot gets put on hold for 48 pages at a time because it was running in Action Comics but not Superman or The Adventures of Superman, issues from all of which are included here. And there's a bizarre Superman Does Beowulf in Virtual Reality With Wonder Woman For Eighty Years story that throws everything off. For the most part, though, it's a solid choice if you just want to read some Superman, because it isn't overly steeped in plot details from older issues. (Although Superman For All Seasons, occasionally available in proper bookstores, is the shit as far as Superman goes.)
Green Arrow: Quiver
Kevin Smith, Phil Hester
Kevin Smith's comics writing is better than his film writing. Not a single one of the criticisms usually leveled against his films can be legitimately applied to his comics, and every one of the films' strengths remains present in them. He's not terribly prolific, but for a few years, he has been going from character to character, spending 8-10 issues on him, and effortlessly making the character cool again. Which is quite nice of him to do. His work on Green Arrow rates a notch below Daredevil, his other major project, because Daredevil is from Marvel Comics, and Green Arrow is from DC, and while I am a DC loyalist at heart, DC has spent much of the last decade fucking up most of their characters with convoluted plotlines and cynical attempts to recreate the surge of publicity they got for (temporarily) killing Robin and Superman by killing, in 'shocking' fashion, almost all of other ex-Super Friends. (A new low was reached when they killed Aquaman last year. Surprisingly enough, CNN was not on the scene.) Smith, therefore, had to undo several years worth of shitty stories to make Green Arrow useable again. (The difference is that the stories preceding his on Daredevil were just flat - he could focus on telling his own story right from the start.) He pulled it off, though, and managed the impressive task of making the untangling of bad stories into a good one, so he deserves all respect. And, like the brief appearance of Spider-Man in Daredevil, Smith writes a short Batman and Superman pairing that, in a word, rules.
N.B. Some readers may have noticed that I am omitting the names of the inkers on the various comics I have been mentioning. This is because I am hoping to lure an angry letter out of an inker.
Brian Azzarello, Richard Corben
Competently written but basically unremarkable story that doesn't do much other than to announce This Is How We're Doing The Hulk Now. It's not his origin, but not much seems to have happened since then, so it doesn't require much prior knowledge other than who Doc Samson is. (He's this guy.) The faintly Robert Crumb-esque art is an odd choice and doesn't catch the raw power of the Hulk very well. I've always been fond of Dale Keown's Hulk for that.
I'm glad that's been settled. Y'all was probably freaking out. Why y'all be bugging? One of the great mysteries of the world.
May 26, 2002 Without warning, my television up and stopped working. It is one of the things that I will be remembering on this Memorial Day. My memories of the television are still fairly fresh, as it only stopped working this weekend. When the other items I have designated for memorial purposes this year grow hazy, and the effort to recall them becomes tiring, I shall return to thoughts of the television.
Here are my projects for this year's Memorial Day:
1. People who died in wars instigated by the Ottoman Empire;
2. Lesser pirates;
I am trying to make a point of memorializing under-memorialized events and personages, because I am really quite helpful. I know that this is going to be misinterpreted as cavalier and glib, but the people who misinterpret these sincere gestures of mine are a bunch of functional illiterates, and, frankly, I care more about the lesser pirates.
May 24, 2002 I have a new coping strategy for job stress: I changed all my computer passwords to obscenities. It helps. The job could very well be worse. The traffic hasn't been terrible today. I hate answering phones, though, and I am constantly being asked questions by easily-angered, senile old people that I cannot answer. I do what I can:
1. Transfer to voicemail;
2. Deny all knowledge.
The new union contracts were delivered today. Inexplicably, I have to belong to a union to have this job. I feel guilty being annoyed about the dues, admiring the early American labor movement as I do. So, I just shake my head and go along with it.
The Ombudsman has a surprise waiting for him when he comes back. I FOUND YOUR COOKIES, SUCKER!
Synchronicity strikes. This morning, for no apparent reason, the CTA ran three trains right after each other. I saw the first two from the street and just barely arrived for the third. Naturally, it was nearly empty. A nervous guy boarded with me and headed to the other end of the car. There was only one passenger already present, a guy about my age, in standard unconventional idea-havin' wear (olive army jacket, patches, scruffy pants). He looked furtive. I noticed that the window next to me had large, swooping symbols carved into it. The nature of the glass was such that remnants hung down like string. The symbols didn't seem to follow any pattern, just standard, ugly tags. I started reading my book. I heard a scratching sound coming from the guy's direction, but couldn't see any source. I went back to my book. A short while later, I noticed him stand up and head to the doors, and the same sound ensued. He was scratching on the door windows, too. He gave a quick look around to see if anyone was watching him, and I rolled my eyes. He finished his work, and then he spoke:
- Does graffiti hurt you?
I was reading, and it took a moment to register that he was talking to me. I looked up, and the nervous guy was watching us, terrified.
- I said, does graffiti hurt you?
- Nope. Never seen someone do it in person.
- You shook your head.
- Yeah, because I think it's kind of dumb.
- It's better than doing drugs. It's better than being in a gang.
- Sure, if you're working in some paradigm where you have to choose one of the three.
The train stopped and the doors opened. He spoke as he exited.
- It's an escape route.
I noticed as he walked away that his front bottom teeth were badly aligned.
After he was gone, I noticed that almost the entire train car had been carved up. There was no design or idea behind it. I like watching for creative graffiti, especially in hard-to-reach places. But this just made the train car look like shit. I came up with a good line about the distinction between art and dogs peeing on trees, but he was gone, and the guy had a sharp object, anyway.
May 23, 2002 Damn it. The Rabbinic Ombudsman, a nice guy if there ever was one, is on leave because his wife is having a baby, and through some goddam strange machination, because I'm charming, maybe, I don't know, I am the backup ombudsman. Me. Whattheshit. I am raging. I don't know anything about this crap. I feel like standing out by the elevators, tearing off my shirt and screaming DON'T YOU GET IT? I'M NOT JEWISH! I DON'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT ANY OF THIS! I am not qualified to be an ombudsman! I'm not qualified to be an assistant Judaic scholar, either, but at least people leave me alone when I'm running that one. Damn it! For seven work days! Everyone at this end of the office hates me, too. This is the lair of the various ogres. Fucking ogres! Fuck! Somebody talk someone on Ninja Tune into making a chill-out track using this for me.
There is a window in this office, which is nice. And the Ombudsman's supervisor is a good guy. The weather's improving, and I'm blowing less snot out of my nose, so my allergies are on the decline. I finished reading a book I liked. I had a cookie in my file cabinet for times like these, so I brought it with me. It was good. I could go back and forth like this all night.
I should tell someone to please water my retarded plant while I'm away. I should probably phrase it differently, though.
(news) Sparks flew on last night's FOX special, "Celebrity Boxing 2" ... Other winners in the muscle-flexing mix included NBA giant MANUTE BOL, who beat up former Chicago Bear WILLIAM "The Refrigerator" PERRY.
MANUTE! MANUTE! MANUTE! I knew he could do it. He killed a lion once, you know.
(news) JUST like humans, small primates can acquire a taste for alcohol - and behave in a similar fashion when under its influence, scientists have discovered. A controversial research project that involves giving alcohol to 1,000 green vervet monkeys has found that the animals divide into four main categories: binge drinker, steady drinker, social drinker and teetotaller. The vast majority are social drinkers who indulge in moderation and only when they are with other monkeys - but never before lunch - and prefer their alcohol to be diluted with fruit juice. Fifteen per cent drink regularly and heavily and prefer their alcohol neat or diluted with water. The same proportion drink little or no alcohol. Five per cent are classed as "seriously abusive binge drinkers". They get drunk, start fights and consume as much as they can until passing out. As with humans, most heavy drinkers are young males, but monkeys of both sexes and all ages like a drink.
This marks a new low for my enemies, who are now trying to get at me through green vervet monkeys. Jesus. This is between you and me. Leave the vervet monkeys out of this. I'll admit, I enjoy the misadventures of the occasional drunk capuchin monkey wearing a beret as much as the next guy, but setting up a lab for the purpose of turning monkeys into binge drinkers is crossing the line, delving into menacing symbolic territory, and I am a reasonable man, I do not see why it has to be like this.
These are difficult times. I have to find an OMBUDSMAN t-shirt and then go all Johnny Rotten on it, tear it up, scrawl I AM NOT AN on it with a marker, and wear it around the office.
(testimonial) This is a very true story about a 76 yr old lady with Alzheimer’s Disease (my mother) and a Baby Monkey named Chase who really needed to be loved and not moved from house to house. My mother came to live with me Oct 2000 because she was unable to live by herself any longer. Mother has always gotten alone well with my Java named KIKKI who is 6yrs old. Kikki loves to sit and groom mother but, they both take little “naps” also while watch the Discovery Channel. A good friend of mine (who of course) has monkeys, came by with a baby Spider Monkey named Selena. Selena was holding onto her HUGGY, and wasn’t moving around a lot and we sat Selena in my mothers lap. Mother didn’t have any reaction. I said mother what do you think about the baby monkey. She looked at me saying something to the effect of you girls are just fooling me. I said mother that monkey is real. Well, my friend pulled Selena off of her HUGGY and she SCREAMED. I thought my mother would just fall in the floor. She then grabbed that monkey & huggy and held onto them the rest of the time they were there. For the next several days mother just kept on and on to any and everybody about that BABY Monkey. And she was constantly asking me where the baby was. Finally, I decided if she keeps talking about that Monkey I’m gonna get another Baby. At my home now I have a Java 6yrs old, green monkey (vervet) who is 8 yrs old and a special 6yrs old Snow Monkey. Okay, you guessed it, she kept talking about the Baby. So I called my friends and said GET ME A BABY. Within 72 hours they had found a little fellow 9 weeks old that was in his 2nd home . I said get him ! Baby Chase, had not been Loved, yet. He didn’t even have a HUGGY, he had just recently acquired a blanket of his own. Let me tell you those days have changed. Baby Chase has his NEW Grand-mom eating out of his hands. When she gets up in the mornings she looks and checks on the Baby. Mother’s Nurse and a friend of mine & myself change his diaper, and feed him. But, the joy that little fellow brings to mother is well worth it. Chase and mother crawl around in the floor playing “hide-N-seek”, are just playing. I checked on mother one afternoon, (knowing that she was napping) and she was sitting in her rocker asleep and he was laying across her shoulders sleeping. I’ve been asked how much did you pay for him, and my reply is IF he was $100,000.00 he would be worth every penny, because of the smiles and laugh’s we are having with him. So to me it goes without saying, WHO NEEDS WHO MORE ?
Damn straight. What?
(late) Risks of the business: It's really irritating to try to recreate an entry that was accidentally erased. In this case, the hasty first draft got uploaded instead of the finished product. Curses.
I brought my camera to work this week in order to catch a favorite piece of graffiti on film. It was written in black marker on the upper left-hand corner of a sheet of grey-painted plywood, part of the scaffolding for a building which is no longer there. Unadorned, but with tangible excitement, it read:
SEB AND MARIE WERE HERE +
FUCKED THE AMERICAN WAY!
It was just nice to see at the end of every work day. I don't know how they managed to achieve what they did right in that spot, because it's not especially conducive. But they did, and they did it the American way. The graffiti was there for at least six months, outlasting union posters and spray-paint alike. The fact that it lasted so long implied something slightly wonderful about the passers-by, that they were choosing to react to the loopy joy that it offered instead of the lazy condemnation as obscene. Well, you can guess where this story is going. The day I brought my camera was the day someone painted over it. Seb and Marie's democratic, truth and justice, red white and blue sex on a street corner was like a butterfly, torn apart by the attempt to preserve it. So it goes. Seb, Marie, thanks for letting me know.
May 22, 2002 I think my plant may be retarded. I've been watching it for a while now, and things just don't seem to be going well with it. I know that it's getting enough water, and though the lighting isn't perfect, it's no worse than what the other plants that were handed out that day are getting, and they all seem to be doing fine. It's possible that I put mine too close to the computer monitor, and that's affecting it somehow. It's also possible that the plant is simply retarded, and was born that way, and it's not my fault, because I never asked to be responsible for a plant, which is a point that I cannot stress enough in the overall context of the plant's life expectancy.
UNFOUNDED RUMORS BASED ON MY HAVING NOTICED THAT THE BAND RUSH IS TOURING THIS SUMMER
Hey, did you hear that Rush is on tour this summer? Make sure you don't leave your stuff lying around. I hear those guys are big into taking shit and then claiming that since they found it, it's theirs.
I am currently mired in a bland yet forceful case of seasonal allergies. I had a bit of a row with the rabbi over the phone about whether I was blaming the Jewish people for my allergies. Man, I wasn't. I keep forgetting to pronounce the 'h' in his first name as a guttural consonant, and I think he's reading something into that. I thought about marrying someone from Iceland and bringing her around the office all the time as a retaliatory gesture, but I think that would be playing right into his hands. Please, could you stop the noise? I'm trying to get some rest.
IDEA FOR A BOOK / STRATEGIES TO CONFOUND THE CURSE OF POST-MODERNISM
Conduct extensive personal interviews with guys who work at car washes. Any time the conversation strays from their work at the car wash, steer it back that way. For publication, replace every adjective and adverb with its direct opposite, and change the names of those involved to prevent lawsuits. As a follow-up, publish the original, unaltered interviews. Assign a junior editor to track whether rivalries of any sort develop between the participants and their negative selves. If so, hire them at high salaries to work at "The All-Star Car Wash", and promote the business as being staffed by the guys from the book. Make a profit, and refuse to speculate why it has been a success, outside of interviews poorly translated from French, which are, themselves, poorly translated from English.
Anyway, I need a new job, one where God comes up less often. I am really not a God-talkin' kind of guy. I did a brief search for my dream job, and all that came up was bullshit.
ODE TO VARIOUS OGRES
Various ogres, various ogres
Fuck off, Hope
Do you think it would be construed as aggressive to post a list of the martial arts I know in my cubicle? I am just trying to make the place feel more home-y, since I seem to be stuck here, and my retarded plant is depressing the shit out of me.
MORE UNFOUNDED RUMORS BASED ON MY HAVING NOTICED THAT THE BAND RUSH IS TOURING THIS SUMMER
Hey, did you hear that Rush is on tour this summer? I hear that Alex Lifeson hunted down kids from the suburbs and subsisted on nothing but their blood while they were writing the "Subdivisions" album. Not for inspiration or anything, just because Neil Peart convinced him that the overall cost of doing that was cheaper than eating actual food, and he wanted to save up for a new naugahyde recliner.
Fine. Developmentally-disabled plant.
GREATEST MOVIE CHARACTERS OF ALL TIME, UPDATED RANKINGS
1 Yoda, Star Wars
2 Charles Foster Kane, Citizen Kane
3 General Zod, Superman II
4 Monkey, MVP: Most Valuable Primate II
5 Guy from obscure French film
Also receiving votes:
Cast, The Big Lebowski; Bear, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence; Monkey, MVP: Most Valuable Primate; Tom Waits, various; Guy from obscure Iranian film.
There are player-haters, of course, who will call me shallow for ranking the monkey from MVP II over the guy from the obscure French film. To that charge, I can only respond, "Fabricated biting incident." (Note.) Tomorrow, player-haters across the world will renounce their ways. Tomorrow! God! The greatest of days!
THE CONTINUING SAGA OF UNFOUNDED RUMORS BASED ON MY HAVING NOTICED THAT THE BAND RUSH IS TOURING THIS SUMMER
Hey, did you hear that Rush is on tour this summer? It's a little known fact that Van Gogh cut off his ear because Geddy Lee's voice has actually existed since the beginning of time, and...
May 17, 2002 Today is a Jewish holiday, so the office is closed, and my bare ass is getting reacquainted with the morning sun. Whenever there is a holiday, people from human resources walk around handing out gifts to each employee that are, in some way, connected to the holiday. For Passover, there were strange cookies made from potatoes. For Purim, there were festive boxes. For Shavuot, today, there were potted plants. I was not thrilled about this, because I am not in a place, emotionally, where I can be responsible for a plant. Nobody came by to pick the plant back up, though, so it continued to sit on my desk. I watched it out of the corner of my eye for a while. Then the rabbi arrived, found his plant in his office, waited until I was away, and left his plant on my desk. We had a bit of a row over whether my job calls for me to be responsible for his damn plants. I lost, having no real leverage, and angrily stashed his plant in a file cabinet in the hallway. My plant was still sitting there when I got back. I sighed, rolled my eyes, and went to get some water for it.
The first roll of film from my lomo camera came back. As I suspected, I screwed up rewinding the film and exposed most of the pictures. Of the eight shots that remained, four look like laser wars in alien landscapes, and the other four are quite nice. That's lomo.
The rabbi and I were cruising (riding an inch and a half from other cars' bumpers) in his Escalade (his Corolla), sipping on Courvosier (going to pick up his laptop from a repair place on LaSalle), when, after a solid half-hour monologue, he paused and asked me what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I said that I planned to write for the theater. He shook his head and said that I could do that as my avocation, but my vocation should be that of a scholar, and that I should not wait. Then he asked what my field would be. I shrugged and said that I was still interested in too many things to narrow it down. He announced that I would enter a program in study of the history of ideas, and then asked what languages I had. I told him that I knew some German and some Latin. "You will study the medieval period", he said. Then he dropped me back off at the office, and he went home. I am not entirely sure what to expect when I get to work on Monday. I'm a little nervous that he may have gone ahead and enrolled me in grad school somewhere.
I can't relate to these theists.
May 15, 2002 To quote one of the members of my group at the ImprovOlympic, after the voting for our second Cagematch appearance was tallied, "Damn! I'm naming my first-born child 69-12!"
So, that was nice.
I took a series of paranoid self-portraits with my lomo camera, but then I set the distance wrong, and I wound up exposing the film slightly when I tried to get it out of the camera, so I don't know if they'll come out at all. Nevertheless, I will call it art.
SLEAZY GUY, MACKING ON A HOT BLIND CHICK
(whispering in her ear) You have to read it in the original French...uh, French braille. Do they have that?
A memo went out about the relaxed summer dress code in the office. I still fall a fair distance short of it on my best days, but it's nice to be a little closer to respectability without having done anything about it.
QUOTE FROM "TRAINSPOTTING", TRANSPOSED OVER A DISCUSSION MY SHOW LAST FRIDAY
MOTHER SUPERIOR: Aye, that's Heiden for ye.
RENTON: He's always been lacking in moral fibre.
MOTHER SUPERIOR: He knows a lot of different kinds of monkeys.
RENTON: That's hardly a substitute.
I first heard about the news a few days ago, and I've been avoiding mentioning it until now, but if this forum is to have any integrity, I have to address controversies, so here goes. The suggestion has been made that it was the sheer force of my will, in the form of several pages worth of updates and epic poems, that suddenly restored Manute Bol to the public consciousness, but I am not proud of the result, which is that Manute will be appearing on the second edition of Celebrity Boxing on FOX at the end of May. I am glad that Manute will get some cash for the appearance, because he has had a rough few years, what with the civil war in his native Sudan, but I am concerned that his opponent, William "The Fridge" Perry, is going to kill him. Manute does not stand a chance. He will break. I know Manute Bol better than he knows himself. Friends have seen me wracked with guilt and attempted to console me by pointing out that as long as The Fridge doesn't get in close, Manute will be fine, because Manute has long arms and superior reach. To that, I can only respond with reference to Street Fighter II. Did anyone ever try to play with Dhalsim, the Indian mystic guy whose arms and legs stretched? Did you pick him as your main guy? No? That's what I thought. He looked like a great idea on paper, but he got killed every time out. Even Zangief, the Russian guy with the mohawk and the fucked up chest hair, could take him. Manute is going to break, and, unwittingly, I delivered him unto his doom.
I have hatched a vague plan involving The Fridge and pork chops, but it probably won't work. I don't even really know what a pork chop looks like.
Jesus. If my intellect had human form, it would be Manute Bol. The man broke his teeth the first time he tried to dunk a basketball. He's seven feet and seven inches tall, and god knows how his teeth got involved in dunking, but they did. Manute Bol is modern man: elongated, tricked by nature itself into these strange parlor games, eternally out of his element, and I have betrayed him. With friends like these, eh, Manute?
A HORRIBLE LESSON
It is the first day of a new semester. EDWIN, a young college student, has decided to switch majors, and he is ready to embark upon his new course of study. The path to class is a long and winding one, taking him through corners of the campus where he had never before had a reason to go. Finally, he arrives outside the building.
EDWIN: What a long walk! This is all rather unfamiliar. But I am ready to dedicate myself to my studies.
EDWIN enters the building. Checking a sheet of paper, he notes that the classroom must be a short way down the hall. He arrives at what he supposes must be the right room, and he takes a seat. He is early, because he is a good student, and therefore he is the first person in the room. The TEACHER enters the room shortly thereafter.
EDWIN: Hello. I am here for class.
TEACHER: Good. I like having students.
EDWIN: I plan to work hard.
TEACHER: That is refreshing to my ears.
EDWIN: Will the other students be here soon?
TEACHER: Yes, and then we will get started.
EDWIN fidgets, hoping that class will start soon. He perks up when he hears feet outside and the door to the classroom opening. The other students have arrived. But Edwin is shocked to discover that the other students are trolls, with knives!
EDWIN: (to himself) Shit! I have heard about these guys! They are honor roll students...in stabbing!
The trolls, with knives, take their seats. They are sleepy and bleary-eyed, having stayed up late the night before. They are hardly paying attention as the TEACHER begins to speak.
TEACHER: Good morning, class. I am your teacher. It is my opinion that the Socratic method of teaching is best. Therefore, I will be asking a lot of questions.
EDWIN: (to himself) I am safe for the moment because the trolls, with knives, are sleepy, but if the teacher targets them directly with questions, they will wake up fast, and then it's curtains for me! The only way these trolls, with knives, respond to stimuli is by stabbing everything around them!
TEACHER: The first question is for...
EDWIN: Me! I would like to answer the first question.
TEACHER: Okay. What is the square root of pi, multiplied by the year Admiral Perry's fleet arrived in Japan?
TEACHER: There is no truth in your answer, Edwin. We will move on to the next question. You, there, in the first row, will you tell me...
EDWIN: I will tell you!
TEACHER: Edwin, you did not know the answer to the last question. What makes you think you will know the answer to this one?
Some of the trolls, with knives, are beginning to stretch and stir.
EDWIN: I want to redeem myself!
TEACHER: Fine. Subtract the weight of a Swingline brand staple from that of a jumbo paper clip, and give an example of a poem that has the same number of syllables as the remaining measure.
EDWIN: (to himself) Shit! Why did I major in such useless knowledge? (out loud) Uh, "Jabberwocky".
TEACHER: Yes, but you left out your unit of measurement, so I cannot accept your answer. Now, I'd like to hear from someone else.
EDWIN: Call on me again!
TEACHER: Edwin, your grade is in the shitter because of your incorrect answers. If you care about your academic career, which may be at its end, you will be silent.
EDWIN: (to himself) This is a fucking quandary! My health...or my academic future? I must decide...
TEACHER: The American educational system is in decline. We will listen to loud techno music.
Awakened by the sudden blast of loud techno music, the startled, cranky trolls, with knives, stab the shit out of everyone in sight.
That will probably be the last appearance of the trolls, with knives, because people have been saying that they are too intense, and the lessons they teach are too horrible. I have enough trouble without a bunch of people protesting my damn webpage.
May 9, 2002 Various ogres stand against me.
I have a show tomorrow at the ImprovOlympic, for the second week. It's an event called the Cagematch. Two groups perform, and then the audience votes upon which one was better. The winner comes back the next week. We won by a healthy margin, having earned the adoration of the several dozen prom kids up front, but this will be our last week, because, after several years running, the Cagematch is being retired from the theater. (Something or other to do with someone throwing a chair a few weeks ago.) Unfortunate timing on our parts, but so it goes. I am still refining my pre-show rituals. The night before every sketch comedy show in college, for example, I watched The Big Lebowski. It was bad luck if I didn't. (Although I think I always did.) Before plays I directed, I always listened to the Rushmore soundtrack, but only the instrumentals. I feel that a new era should have new rituals, but I didn't have anything much for this show (or the two History Channel films), other than dozing off on the couch, which was not deliberate, and lacks that certain Rosicrucian something.
I've thought about acupuncture, but I can't take that risk right now, what with the ogres standing against me and all.
(music review) Perhaps When I Was Cruel's sweetest punch is that, at 47, Costello sounds pretty much exactly as he did at 27. Unlike Dylan, Springsteen, Wilson, or (Tom) Waits-- or, god knows, Lou Reed-- he hasn't had to compromise his music to fit his aging pipes.
Yeah, Tom Waits used to be able to hit those high gargling-a-dead-frog notes, but now his voice is wrecked, as opposed to how it was before, and that one song where he tries to apologize for having peed on the rug last night is really compromised by his pipes not being what they used to be.
A HORRIBLE LESSON
TOMMY is playing with his toys. He is a small boy, wearing overalls and an orange t-shirt. TOMMY's MOTHER enters, with RONNIE in tow. RONNIE is also a small boy.
TOMMY'S MOTHER: Tommy, this is Ronnie. He is your new playmate.
TOMMY: I do not want a playmate. I want to have all the toys for myself.
TOMMY'S MOTHER: But games are better when there is another person.
TOMMY: That is where you are wrong. I will not share my toys with this Ronnie.
TOMMY'S MOTHER: Ronnie is a nice boy. You are only five years old. I am your mother. You will do what I say.
TOMMY'S MOTHER exits. TOMMY begins playing with his toys.
RONNIE: May I play also? I have an idea for a scenario with the army figurines.
TOMMY: No. These are my toys, and I alone am entitled to play with them.
TOMMY'S MOTHER returns with milk and cookies. She is angry to see that RONNIE is not being allowed to play.
TOMMY'S MOTHER: Tommy, will you never learn?
TOMMY: I stand by my principles. The toys are mine, and therefore solely for my usage.
TOMMY'S MOTHER: Perhaps you will learn a lesson if I take away all of your toys. Now no one can play.
TOMMY: No! But a child must have toys. A young boy of my age, five years old, will grow restless without toys.
TOMMY'S MOTHER: That is how Ronnie feels when you will not share.
TOMMY: I reject that analogy.
TOMMY'S MOTHER takes away all of TOMMY's toys and exits.
TOMMY: Now what am I to do? I am unrepentant, but I have no toys, and I grow restless.
RONNIE: Would you like to share my toys?
TOMMY: How is this! You have toys?
RONNIE: Yes. I will share them with you.
TOMMY: This is an act of kindness. I decline to reconsider my position regarding my own toys, but I will play with yours.
RONNIE: I see. Well, here are my toys.
RONNIE pulls out his toys. They are trolls, with knives!
TOMMY: Aah! Trolls, with knives!
The trolls, with knives, stab TOMMY many times.
TOMMY: With my dying breath, I admit the error of my ways.
NEXT, ON 'A HORRIBLE LESSON'
Fucking train driver. You saw me on the platform and you pulled away anyway. Well, here come some passengers who are trolls, with knives. Chew on that, shit head.
May 7, 2002 Last Wednesday, standing on the street corner opposite my office, there was a tall, somewhat dirty man in a trench coat shouting "Home entertainment!" and handing out pamphlets. He lost interest as I walked by. That's when I knew that day was fucked.
The rabbi came in to work on Monday over the objections of his wife. Everyone was mad at me because he wouldn't use a wheelchair and insisted on hopping around with his walker. They must have felt I wasn't selling him on the virtues of the wheelchair. It wasn't my fault. I can't talk that guy into anything. He kept telling anyone who'd listen that he broke his leg playing football for the Los Angeles Raiders. I told him that the Raiders weren't in Los Angeles any more, so he switched his story to the New York Giants. By Tuesday, he had careened over to the Pittsburgh Steelers. I guess I do wield some influence.
Anyone who has read this webpage for any length of time will have noticed that I am really only interested in six or seven things, which are duly alternated to create the illusion of a diverse range of subject material. Former XFL star He Hate Me is, of course, one of those things. While most of the nation noticed He Hate Me during the one weekend that anyone took notice of the XFL early last year, laughed, and moved on, I remain committed, like Baudrillard's slightly retarded pool boy, to the notion that He Hate Me represents the key to a vital, unspoken question about American life and cultural materialism. It was an important development when he was signed by an actual professional football team, the Philadelphia Eagles, and that turn in the saga has proven to be rife with data; however, it meant that He Hate Me himself, Rod Smart, would no longer be wearing the "He Hate Me" jersey, because real football teams make the players use their actual names as identifiers. (And let me tell you, a hundred pages in the book will be devoted to his identity transition from "He Hate Me" to "Smart".) The mantle has fallen, and it is much like the flag falling on a battlefield, in that, for some damn reason, someone has to go pick the flag back up and wave it around some more. When, as time passed, it became obvious that no one else was going to carry the mantle, I decided to do it myself, and began a long, frustrating search for a He Hate Me jersey to wear around all the time. I have not found that jersey. But the important work continues.
Las Vegas Life: Most Intriguing People 2001 "The league said we could put whatever name we want on the back of our jersey. Right then, I was like, ‘I'm going to do something different.' I said, ‘They hate me, so, He Hate Me. I'll put that on my jersey.' The league didn't approve of it when they first saw it. I guess when they saw the word ‘hate' they thought it was something negative, but I explained to them it was from me and towards the defender, towards anybody against me. When I go out there, my opponent hates me, and if he doesn't, he will, because I will always beat him. So I had to break it down to them."
At the moment, I am angry because we do not have Photoshop on our computers at work, and I want to make old Manute Bol trading cards look like plate drawings from "Rime of the Ancient Mariner". I have all of these important projects, and no one will leave me alone to work on them. It's always Judaism this, Israel that.
A HORRIBLE LESSON
RICHARD is sitting in his office. On his desk are pictures of young children, but they are dusty, and they are overshadowed by file folders. It is closing-time. TODD enters.
TODD: Richard, it's closing time.
RICHARD: Not for me. I am going to work.
TODD: But you have finished all of your projects.
RICHARD: Yes, I have. But I am going to get more projects.
TODD: Will you never see your family?
RICHARD: My family can wait. I must impress the bigwigs.
TODD: But the only projects left involve trolls, with knives!
RICHARD: I will do those projects! The bigwigs will be impressed.
TODD exits. RICHARD surveys his desk.
RICHARD: He was right. I am all out of projects. But I will go to the room where I can get some more.
RICHARD rises and goes to the room where there are more projects. It is dark. He turns on the light and closes the door. Inside, there are projects, yes...but there are also trolls, with knives!
RICHARD: Aah! Trolls, with knives!
The trolls, with knives, stab him many times.
RICHARD: Shit! I was wrong to choose professional ambition over family!
He dies. The trolls, with knives, exit stage right.
TOMORROW, ON 'A HORRIBLE LESSON'
Charlie was a big city reporter who'd do anything to break a big story, no matter the consequences. But he was about to learn that some stories, especially ones about trolls, with knives, carry a deadly byline...
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.
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.
January 2012, December 2011, January 2011, September 2010, August 2010, June 2010, March 2010, October 2009, February 2009, January 2009, September 2008, August 2008, March 2008, February 2008, October 2007, July 2007, June 2007, January 2007, September 2006, July 2006, June 2006, January 2006, December 2005, September 2005, August 2005, July 2005, June 2005, May 2005, March 2005, February 2005, January 2005, December 2004, October 2004, July 2004, June 2004, May 2004, April 2004, February 2004, January 2004, December 2003, November 2003, October 2003, September 2003, August 2003, July 2003, June 2003, May 2003, April 2003, March 2003, February 2003, January 2003, December 2002, November 2002, October 2002, September 2002, August 2002, July 2002, June 2002, May 2002, April 2002, March 2002, February 2002, January 2002, December 2001, November 2001, October 2001, September 2001, August 2001, July 2001, December 1999, November 1999, October 1999, May 1999, February 1999, January 1999, December 1998, November 1998, October 1998, June 1998, May 1998, April 1998, March 1998, February 1998, December 1997, November 1997, October 1997, September 1997, and the uncategorised wilderness of the Beelzetron era: 010622 - 010619, 010615 - 010611, 010608 - 010604, 010601 - 010529, 010525 - 010521, 010518 - 010514, 010511 - 010507, 010504 - 010430, 010427 - 010423, 010420 - 010416, 010413 - 010409, 010406 - 010402, 010330 - 010326, 010323 - 010319, 010316 - 010312, 010309 - 010307, 019223 - 010219, 010216 - 010212, 010209 - 010205, 010202 - 010109, 010126 - 010122, 010119 - 010115, 010112 - 010108, 010105 - 010102, 001229 - 001224, 001222 - 001218, 001215 - 001211, 001208 - 001204, 001201 - 001124, 001124 - 001120, 001117 - 001113, 001110 - 001106, 001103 - 001030, 001027 - 001023, 001020 - 001016, 001013 - 001010, 001006 - 000927.
Written by Marc Heiden, 1997-2011.