I woke up in a strange place

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

November 27, 2002 I am worried that Jesus doesn't always know when I am being serious, so I am going to go light on all of that stuff for a while and simply say, come on, Jesus, you know I'm just playing with you.

Having decided last week to return to defining my self-esteem solely on basis of bowling results, I am flying high off last night's 193, equal to my all-time high. It was a powerful and inspirational performance for the entire team. We were matched against the #1 squad in the league, as we have been repeatedly throughout the year - a tough schedule for a young team - and, after struggling in the first match, we not only demolished but completely demoralized the opposition, taking the next two matches and the point for total pins. The regular season is now over with a week of playoffs to come, wherein we will attempt to secure a comfortable position in the middle of the pack and a fine launching point for next season's campaign.

(legend) The story of the Golem begins in the old city of Prague. Many boys and girls do not know where Prague is located. It is the capital of Czechoslovakia,(a country in eastern Europe). As the legend is told, an old Jewish man named Rabbi Loew lived in Prague. He was a very tall and big man. So, he was called the Great Rabbi of Prague. He was a very kind person and cared for the people of Prague, but he became very sad because the people had to work hard all day.

Funny how the rabbi I work for is largely untroubled by that sort of thing.

While waiting for my soda to emerge, I noticed that the shitty vending machine downstairs at work has a website on its label. Let me link to that website, then, as a backdrop for the statement that the empire of Nancy Klong is in ruins:

(company profile) Classic Vending, Inc. began with one route of 12 locations in 1989 by Nancy Klong. Nancy envisioned a company with no limitations. A business where customers could expect the highest quality products, largest commissions, and fast and reliable service. Throughout the past 13 years that is exactly what Classic Vending has been giving its clients.

Classic Vending ought to be giving me a kiss on my black ass. The service provided by its machine has a number of limitations, primarily the ability to do anything other than be terrible. It repeatedly eats my dollars and does not return soda. Slots A1 and C1 have been written off as scorched earth, areas barren of refreshment because of how consistently they fail to function. In short, the service provided by Classic Vending, in the form of this particular machine, is for shit, and you can tell the entire Klong dynasty I said so.

I will consider retracting these statements for a complete set of attitude ovals.

Our research team has been investigating the monkey beach movie that I saw last week on AMC, and the best candidate appears to be The Bachelor Flat, a light comedy from 1961 adapted from a play. (How the monkeys figured into the stage version is an intriguing question that begs further exploration.) If our conclusion is correct, the dorky blonde guy who is mocked by the monkey may be the guy from West Side Story, which raises a number of important semiotic implications.

(obituary) Mr. Moore tried to run the jail with compassion. When officials refused to let incarcerated mob boss Sam Giancana attend his mother's funeral, Mr. Moore got him last-minute permission from a judge. "He just thought it wasn't right for a man to miss his mother's funeral," his wife said. When Giancana's lawyer pressed him on how his client could return the favor, Mr. Moore mentioned he was having trouble booking musical acts for the jail. "After that talk, Aretha Franklin came, Liza Minelli, B.B. King, Johnny Cash, everybody," his wife said. "When they performed, those inmates were quieter than my 6th-grade class."

I thought that was a nifty story. It made me wonder if I am connected to the mob in any way, if I may wind up having to post on a group weblog about machine-processed chicken in order to return a favor that someone did for a mafia guy. I'm fairly sure that I know too many martial arts to be subject to that sort of thing, but it'd be nice to know.

I have no plans for Thanksgiving Day itself, so I will be attempting to cook with hilarious results. If I attempt to achieve hilarious results from the beginning, how bad can it turn out?

November 26, 2002 If your ex-girlfriend leaves a lot of tea at your apartment, and you are a student of history, and as an artist you are interested in the deliberate miscontextualization of dominant symbols and memes, and your ex-girlfriend lives down the lakefront from you, if that is the situation, is it mature and appropriate to re-enact the Boston Tea Party with that tea? My instinct is 'yes', but I thought I would ask.

With the first major snowfall of the season, holiday lights are up around town. In years past, the early appearance of Christmas decorations was mocked as a symbol of encroaching commercialism, but this year, as with 2001, I get the feeling that people have just had a shitty year and want to fall into the embrace of the holidays as soon as possible. The threat of war and the torrid, cynical decline in economic security has worn us out, as has the law passed by the Bush administration that every American over the age of 16 must be involved in the production of at least one (1) baby per ten month period and must then feed that baby to members of the Bush administration for undisclosed reasons relating to 'national security' and keep the law a secret from the rest of the world. Those, among other things, take a lot out of you. This year has worn me out.

But although people may be tired, monkeys have reason to celebrate. In Lopburi, Thailand, it is once again that special time of year known as monkey buffet fair:

In the words of Eumporn Jirigalwisul, regional tourism director for the Tourism Authority of Thailand, "it's like we have many, many friends." Other benefits, spiritual and tangible, accrue to the town. Spiritually, the monkeys offer the citizens of Lopburi wonderful opportunities to tum boon (make merit). According to Thai beliefs, donating food to the monkeys is a perfect way to accrue good karma. Judging from the hundreds of healthy monkeys scampering about, Lopburi residents are assured places in the highest levels of Buddhist heaven. As business grew, Yongyuth decided 11 years ago to show his gratitude and make merit by sponsoring an annual monkey feast. Employing three tonnes of food, four chefs, 30 food bearers, and 25 traditional Thai dancers, the monkey feast has grown into Lopburi's most lavish and photogenic spectacle. As spectators watched from the ground and monkeys watched from high up on the ruins, the town's high school students marched to the temple carrying brightly coloured banners. When the magic moment arrived, the single giant plate was unveiled to reveal a bounty of brightly coloured fruits arranged in enticing patterns around a centre of flavoured rice. The Thai dancers danced, the photographers photographed, and the monkeys seemed unsure of what to make of it all.

Photographs of monkeys chowing down at this year's buffet fair can be found here, here and here. The entire article above is, of course, tremendously important reading (and splendidly written, at that). A religion in which salvation is earned by feeding monkeys makes so much sense. I am aggrieved at how I was raised and I am now ready to declare the existence of an anti-monkey conspiracy at the highest levels of the world government based on the fact that a perfectly viable system of belief exists in Thailand and instead we are carrying on with this Jesus shit.

I am looking for trouble.

While the total amount of food was the same as the previous year, a single table is more symbolic of the continuing economic difficulties in Thailand. Another factor is monkey psychology. Tourism director Ms Eumporn notes that with smaller tables, larger monkeys take ownership of an entire table, refusing to share even though the table has more food than they can possibly eat. "Just like humans," she says, with a sigh.

Be careful, monkeys. Don't get mixed up in evolution. There is a downside to what we do.

If you have ever had a bullshit fatwa called against you, you can surely relate to this:

(news) "What we are saying is that the Holy Koran has clearly stated that whoever insults the Prophet of Islam, Mohammad, should be killed," Zamfara State Commissioner for Information Umar Dangaladima Magaji told Reuters. Asked to clarify the government's pronouncement, Magaji said the state had "passed a fatwa. It is based on the request of the people," he said, adding that this did not contradict the authority of Islamic clerics who have the powers to decree death sentences. "Being a leader you can pass a fatwa," Magaji said.

Can you call a fatwa on people who call flimsy fatwas? Because Magaji is flailing about for a fatwa worse than anyone I've ever seen. "Being a leader you can pass a fatwa", indeed. Raise your hand if you're buying into Magaji's ability to pass a fatwa. Because I'm not. You can't just blow right by the clerics, shithead. Being a guy who writes on a webpage you can pass a fatwa, that's what I say. Fatwa on you, Magaji. See how you like it.

One positive to ending a long-term relationship is that I can go back to my previous plan for what to do if I turn 25 and don't really having anything going on, which is to rob a bank and either make off with the money or get sent to jail and have some quiet time, write some memoirs or perhaps join the Nation of Islam. This, I think, is as flawless a plan as has ever been developed.

As I write this, I hear an imbecile across the way calling someone else a 'stinkerpot', and I wonder if I made a mistake blowing my fatwa on Magaji.

November 25, 2002 Conversation overheard between two guys sitting near me in a restaurant:

As a man, the AUTHOR, eats Chinese food, another man, the CRITIC, looks up from a laptop.

CRITIC: It's good. You just need to proofread a little bit. Like here. You misspelled 'killers'.
AUTHOR: Oh, yeah.
CRITIC: And right here...try 'vengeance'.
CRITIC: Because you said that he wants revenge...he wants revenge, right?
CRITIC: So, if you say that he wants revenge, and then you have him say, "I want revenge", you're just reiterating.
AUTHOR: I like 'vengeance'. I want to use that.
CRITIC: It's a good story, man. You just need a little structure.

I have quit shaving for a while in order to express my inner emotional desolation, and people at work are reacting in all the wrong ways. I have set a very clear precedent over the past year that I am not interested in talking to any of them, but the appearance of this new bearded version of me seems to have reset their entire schema, making them once again a flock of chatty fuckers. I ask: why, if I have shown no interest in conversing about anything whatsoever over the past year, and have responded to past entreaties with a disdain that borders on art, would you think that I am interested in conversing about how various other people are growing beards? I need to make an example out of someone or something. I will do so, in furious fashion.

(news) "The monkey is a tough opponent," huffed a police officer in Kagoshima, where the child was bitten in September by a monkey that eluded police. "He appears and disappears like a ghost. Today, he may appear on the top of a roof. Tomorrow, he may be somewhere else. "We couldn't capture him," the officer admitted. But, he added, "we couldn't have charged him either."

The above article, about monkeys causing trouble in Japan, is essential reading for two reasons: for the antics of the monkeys, of course, but also for its role in the ongoing dialectic of the representation of the monkey, a field in which I am the world's foremost expert. The article is an important text because it highlights the struggle of modern man to write seriously about problems caused by monkeys. Clearly, these monkeys are causing problems for the villagers, and clearly, the author would like to do justice to their plight, but he can't help himself, adding qualifiers such as 'huffed' to a police officer's speech. I think it is a spectacular piece of writing, myself, but perhaps I'd feel differently if they were my crops. Well, probably not. I'd go out to eat.

(news) "We have improved from last season … [but] we have to find a way to salvage victories," Rose said. "That's really the only way for us to grow as a unit. Anytime you don't have victory, it breeds all kinds of evil."

I love it when athletes become incredibly serious and start phrasing sports in terms of basic, profound moral concepts such as good and evil. Man, here's for the home team.

November 22, 2002 The rabbi has begun communicating with me through Bible verses, which is a fucking obnoxious thing to do, especially because I don't have a copy, not being a religious man, and I have to go online to find an e-text in order to figure out what he's trying to say. I'm not sure that he has the chapter numbers completely down, either. As best I can tell, his response to my having carried a heavy box to his car as a favor was to imply that I had slaughtered someone else's cattle and that there would be consequences.

Lost in all of the uproar about former pop star Michael Jackson dangling his baby out of the window of his hotel room (and come on; this is the United States, half of our elected officials eat babies, who are we to pretend we care all of a sudden) was the appearance of terrifying spectre-children at his side while visiting the Berlin Zoo. I get the same feeling from looking at them as I did from the photos in The Others, or the afterlife photos here. I am easily spooked in offices, but still: those are scary.

November 21, 2002 The rabbi came in to the office today all riled up because he had a speaking engagement last night and the woman who arranged it did not give him instructions on where to park. He had me write an angry memo about it - which I tried to pattern after the Iliad, for lack of anything better to do - demanding better treatment in the future and recompense for the parking ticket he received. The officer had to use the 'Description' box to indicate the offense, which was not among the standard two dozen listed. The offense: "Parallel park more than 12" from the curb." So, it turns out, you can be ticketed for that. I'd been curious. And I always suspected that guy wasn't any good at parallel parking.

Last night, when I left the office, I was a fountain of unchecked aggression, so I decided to harass some anti-war protesters. I am very much against the current scheme of military action, but I have long suspected these protesters to be counter-agents in disguise, for they are idiots. They wear cheap faux-medieval costumes, and one, with a loudspeaker, sings (terribly) nonsensical half-rhymes like

Bibbity bobbity bibbity boo
When we stop the war.

before seguing back into incoherent speech about global security. They've been at it once every week or so ever since the bombing campaign began in Afghanistan last year. I think they make the anti-war movement look ridiculous, and in a time where legitimate protest is struggling for visibility, it bothers me that twits in thrift-store D&D wear become representative figureheads by virtue of their presence at a busy street corner downtown. I tried to engage the elderly leafletters on their periphery first, but they just directed me to the chubby old lady dressed as a queen. I declined her petition clipboard and tactfully suggested that they looked fucking ridiculous, and she said "I disagree" and turned away. I considered going to the top, to the princess with the loudspeaker, but she had a look of pure crazy in her eyes that turned my mood from anger to reminiscence about the failures of my love life, and so I shrugged and headed down to the subway.

November 20, 2002 Last night, I returned from travels in the barren darkness to find a monkey on AMC. That was a sight for sore eyes. I wish I knew what the movie was. There was a cute girl in a bikini and an earnest dorky matinee idol curly blonde guy, and they were frolicking, and then the monkey implied that the dorky guy masturbates, so the dorky guy got all angry and said "son of a bitch" and then apologized, but chased the monkey off anyway. Then it was revealed that evil Arabs were pursuing the pair with murderous intent, but not so doggedly as to prevent frolicking on the beach. The best part was when the dorky guy got mad because he tried to kiss the cute girl and she said she "wasn't ready for that sort of thing", and then the monkey showed up with another monkey and the two monkeys made out, sending the dorky guy into a fit of rage.

When I find myself in times of trouble
And there are no monkeys on TV...

Readers, displaying a reassuring trust that I am still in here somewhere, have been keeping me updated on the latest developments in the Manute Bol on Ice saga. For those who inexplicably missed the news, the cunning GM of the Indianapolis Ice of the Central Hockey League signed Manute Bol, the 7'7" shotblocking NBA legend, to a minor league hockey contract. Manute is 40 years old and long retired from basketball, but the GM must have seen something in the buttwhipping that Manute handed William "Fridge" Perry on FOX's Celebrity Boxing II, and the cagey Manute, seizing an opportunity to earn money for his Sudanese charity, agreed to terms. The team's webpage has a number of high resolution pictures here. Manute was like Yuri Gagarin trying to do a spacewalk in terms of being a very tall man playing hockey, though, because the team simply could not find skates that fit him, and Manute, knowing well that ice is slippery without proper footwear, retired, but not without making off with a bundle of cash for his charity.

Much of the debate has centered on whether this was terrible because Manute was being made into some manner of circus act, or whether the humanitarian aid provided by his appearance justifies the embarassment. I don't take either position. I don't see that it was an embarassment. To see Manute on ice is a thing of beauty. It is a pure moment, a sight that defies archetype and nature, that simply exists outside of the bloodstained reasoning of human history. The desperation that forced Manute to appear on The 700 Club was something to be regretted, sure. But hockey? For Manute? Shut up, just for a moment, and watch. Just watch. Stop trying to make this fit a story that existed before this moment did. If this was any old tall man, then perhaps this would be something else. But this is Manute Bol. He is defined by the fact that he cannot be denied. He is real. And there he goes. He's skating.

A need for something to do and relatively cheap tickets brought teenagers Brandon Anweiler and Jill Sexton to the arena. When asked about Bol, Anweiler turned to Sexton and said: "I hear he's like 7-10 on skates, which is amazing.''

Ring True Foundation
P. O. Box 271468
West Hartford, CT 06127-1468
Phone: 866-547-8326

I have made this purchase in order to clarify a few things around the office.

November 6, 2002 The silver chalice was within our grasp; but, as anyone familiar with the nature of sporting narrative could have predicted following yesterday's confident update, our bowling team imploded. It was a frustrating night. I took care with my pre-game conditioning, eating three ice cream sandwiches on the car ride over and arriving early enough to practice. Mastodon and Manta Ray, my teammates, seemed equally ebullient about our chances. As Team Ten warned us from the next lane, though, we were facing a notorious bunch of sandbaggers. Indeed, we remained overconfident until the match was out of reach. I dropped a 186 in the second game, my second highest score ever, but it was not enough. We Powerful Creatures hung our heads and can only wait for next week to come.

I am never going to educate myself about the judicial elections again. As far as I can tell, every single judge was retained - and let me tell you, there were some guys who should have been dropped. James T. Ryan? Gone. James Jorzak? You're done. But no. It's one thing when the people who vote against you do so because of a difference of opinion, but it's another when they are just punching boxes in a hurry so they can finish and go home. I will find a different means of democratic change, most likely involving martial arts, as usual.

It may seem like I am concerned with removing people by the name of James from power. You can think that, if you like.

November 5, 2002 The second season of the bowling league is well underway. Our team has, I think, benefitted from the stability of a consistent weekly lineup. Last season's rotating personnel were all talented in their own ways, but the continuity of this season's starting roster has paid dividends in the establishment of a team mentality, lending an intimidating presence to our endeavors. There is, of course, a psychological component to bowling; it is among the elements that separate professionals from amateurs out on the lanes. We are the Powerful Creatures. Each of us is named for a different powerful creature; as always, I am the Monkey. We are second overall in total pins, but have faced a tough schedule in the early going. Tonight, we begin an aerial assault on the league's top ten.

If you are a resident of this here House of Illin', and you have not yet voted today but you plan to do so, and, after doing so, you would like to outmanuever those tiresome motherfuckers who ascribe an enlightened state to themselves purely for having cast a vote, the links below will educate you as to which judges to support for retention down there on the bottom of the ballot, thus allowing you to throw that in the next God's Favorite Informed Participant's face, because, pow, who knows about the judges? You do. Print this shit out. 1, 2, 3, 4.

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.


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.