I woke up in a strange place

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

August 24, 2005

No computer for another few days, but things are better at present. I have a library card now, so I've got that going for me, which is nice.

August 19, 2005

Also, my computer is dead, dead, dead. Massive hard drive failure shortly after I wrote that most recent entry. Whether the volumes of data can be recovered is an answer that will not arrive for some time. I am in a halfway state; everything is bad.

August 16, 2005

Man, someone stole all of my shit. Again. I went swimming and some fucking daylight ninja broke into my car in the middle of a crowded parking lot and took all of my shit, which due to an unfortunate quirk of timing was in my car at the time. (Wallet, two digital cameras, iPod, accessories.) I don't even have a job, for fuck's sake. I'm telling you, I've had it. Meanwhile some fucking restaurant I had lunch at a month and a half ago accidentally re-ran all of their charges from that day, a month and a half later, and over-drafted my bank account. Everyone says they're sorry and they'll take care of it within a couple of weeks. Fuck that, actually, because this is it, this is the end. I'm selling the rest of my stuff and moving to a goddam trailer park and going on welfare and not owning anything that didn't come from the dollar store because this ain't worth it. Negotiations with responsibility have failed and that's the goddam truth.

August 10, 2005

I'm on my way toward a better mood. I'm not there yet, but I'm heading in that direction. The weather has been kind of crazy for the last couple of weeks, and I'm really starting to enjoy it. The sky has that "aww, damn" apocalyptic tinge. If you don't have anything at stake, the onset of armaggeddon can be kind of relaxing.

I haven't made any noteworthy progress toward getting a job. A place I applied to in Connecticut last December called this morning and hung up as soon as I answered. I called them back and hung up on them, because my vengeance is swift, and precisely measured.

Brought to my attention by the good Mr. Sacki, here is the single greatest photograph ever taken:

"An orang-utan plays on water skis at an event marking 100 days to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Pusan, southeast of Seoul, August 10, 2005. The APEC meeting will be held in Pusan in November."

My guess is that picture will be able to restore eyesight to blind people, so if you know any, bring them up to your monitor, position their heads and just stand there, saying "...well? Eh? Eh?"

If that's how they commemorate 100 days left until the conference, the mind boggles to consider what they have planned for the conference itself. Monkeys in spacesuits floating around in zero-gravity is basically the starting point for what it's reasonable to expect. Meanwhile, here in the US, on the very same day, the Department of Defense announces that the fourth anniversary of 9/11 will be commemorated with a march and a country music concert in D.C. I want so badly to believe that there will be at least one orangutan wearing a cowboy hat onstage, but the fact is, our nation has lost its way.

But this webpage would not be what it is without a fair dose of self-criticism:

(news) NEW YORK - A fan who plunged from the upper deck at Yankee Stadium onto the screen behind home plate during Tuesday night's game between New York and the Chicago White Sox was released from the hospital into police custody Wednesday. The game was delayed for four minutes in the eighth inning after 18-year-old Scott Harper of Armonk, N.Y., plummeted about 40 feet onto the large net. Harper told three friends he was sitting with that he was going to test whether the net would hold his weight — and then he jumped, police said.

"The next thing you know, you don't see him anymore. You saw him on the net," said 18-year-old Mike Spadafino, one of Harper's friends.

Obviously scared and shaken after he landed, Harper sat with his head in his hands for a few moments before climbing on the net back up to the middle level of seats as players watched and the crowd roared. Harper then was hoisted over the railing and led away by security.

"They claimed we were saying, `Sit or jump, sit or jump,'" Spadafino said. "It was everyone in there, in the basic area."

"People think we threw him off, but we're all best friends, so I don't think that would ever happen," said 20-year-old Giusseppe Tripi, another one of Harper's friends.

Best friends don't throw each other off buildings? Jesus, I have some apologies to make. Let me start with Saul. What I was trying to say when I grabbed you by the arm, spun you around and hurled you from the upper deck of the United Center was "I'm glad for the good times we've had together, and I really respect the way your shoulder has healed."

Sometimes, I despair of ever really managing to communicate with anyone.

August 8, 2005

I've given it a lot of consideration, and based on the state of my job search and the economy as a whole, I've decided to take a new approach and post a picture of a monkey wearing a tie:

Sometimes, it helps to re-assess the situation. He's sitting in the mailing cart! Is that other monkey mailing him somewhere? What is going on? Suddenly, uncertainty is delightful.

(Tecmo Bowl) The Race-Changing Injury
This one happens only during seasons (obviously). When a black player gets injured, he appears white on the screen where he's lying on the field and the paramedics are rushing in to help him. But then when he's being carried off he's back to normal. I don't know why this would be, since it doesn't seem like it would take any programming effort simply to leave them in the same state they were when they went down. For some reason the programmers decided to make it so that everyone who gets injured looks white from afar.

Madden '06 is coming out, and a severe test of my self-restraint will begin tonight at midnight. I could be putting all of this idle time to good use building a franchise, I will tell myself. The little digital men will thrive with the attention I will be able to give them as an unemployed guy. Beaming, their skill ratings will increase, and I will use the joystick to increase the amount of imaginary money they receive. It all seems so reasonable. Everything works together; nobody is on their own, unless their skill rating drops under 60 or so.

In the meantime, I've been trying to make a contribution to the store of knowledge on Wikipedia. It's slow going, because I'm not feeling very communicative right now, but I've left a mark. For example, I wrote exactly one line of this entry. Can you guess which one?

August 5, 2005

Things aren't going very well for me right now. Apparently, what I bought was bleach, not laundry detergent, and a number of my t-shirts now reflect that fact. Who knew? Contextually, based on where it was in the store and the shape of the bottle, that stuff should have been laundry detergent. Why would I even want bleach? A number of my most-beloved Japanese t-shirts were turned into hippie rags by the confusion. The thing is, if you strike them down, a hundred more will take their place. My chest shall wield incoherency such as this nation has never seen. Just you wait until I get a job.

I'm planning to devote this entire entry to things that aren't going very well, as a nice change of pace from the triumphal march that this webpage usually is. That first paragraph made me think about money, and how I'm not sure that there's any point in being fiscally responsible while I'm unemployed. It has never worked in the past. I haven't bought anything fun in months, and I haven't put anything on a credit card since January. I'm on the special edition Casino DVD, so I bought that, but otherwise, an end table is a sexy as it goes for my spending habits. Why bother, though? I'm going to be broke and buried in debt by the time I get a job no matter what I do. Am I wasting an opportunity here? Let me explain. The common view of money, which involves balancing checkbooks and keeping receipts and freaky leopard people, is that you have money (or assets) as represented by a number which can go up or down depending on the decisions you make. Imagine, though, an alternative - and this has proven far more realistic in my life - that money exists in one of two states, a binary proposition, if you will: either it is there, or it is not. Either you have a surplus, or you are in debt. That has always been the case for me. If I am in a debt-state, then it is going to be a long time before I get out, regardless of how I behaved an the outset of the debt-state. And if I am in a surplus-state, the money will be gone, eventually, regardless of the wise or un-wise decisions that I make. I can either spend it in lunatic flings or wait for crises to emerge and suck it all away. It is a childish fiction to pretend that there is a permanent surplus-state. This has been proven true so many times over that to believe otherwise is the intellectual equivalent of the dried soup in this man's moustache.

Not everything is going badly. I was hesitant to make an emotional investment in a new appliance, but I bravely tried using the dishwasher anyway, and it worked a treat. I should get back to the stuff that's going off the rails, though. In retrospect, it appears that what I put my outgoing mail into was not a mailbox. Oh, again, there were several reasons to believe that it was. Contextually, this was absolutely a mailbox. There was a red plastic thing on top that could be moved up and down, like a flag, and it was attached to an incoming mail kiosk; furthermore, there was a little sign on it that said 'outgoing mail'. Admittedly, that sign was handwritten, but you can see why I thought it was a pretty good bet. Well, one week later, none of the Netflix I put in the mail have reached the Austin distribution center. This is the beginning of trouble. At this rate, 2013 is a generous estimate for the point at which some guy with a shotgun and a receding hairline is going to show up with your Pier One catalog and assume all the widows in town are interested in his 'seed'.

Who can you trust? Who can you believe? When I was a child, my image of myself as an adult was that of boxes of Count Chocula, Frankenberry and Boo Berry on top of the refrigerator. I wonder if I would even recognize myself now. I was in the store and saw Chocolate Lucky Charms on sale. "That has to be disgusting," I mused, so I bought some and I wasn't wrong. Did you know that Boo Berry has no fiber at all? Not even a bit. That fucking ghost! He's all right.

August 2, 2005

I want to thank everyone who sent kind words about the three-legged cat. He's still gone, but he is not forgotten, and as far as I can tell, he did not, in fact, have fleas. I have established a scholarship in his memory for other animals who are missing a leg and don't seem to give a shit about it.

(news) TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. - It may not rival Sundance or Cannes, but Michael Moore says the film festival he conceived with other movie lovers in this Lake Michigan town was a bigger hit than expected and has a bright future.

"By all accounts it was an overwhelming success," Moore said Monday. "It was a movie junkie's paradise."

The festival ran from Wednesday night through Sunday, concluding with "Casablanca" under the stars by the Grand Traverse Bay waterfront. It featured 31 films, most of which sold out, and panel discussions with Hollywood insiders. About 20,000 tickets were sold for the indoor showings. Moore estimated total festival attendance — when the outdoor movies and panels were added — at 50,000. About 115 businesses signed on as sponsors. Anecdotal evidence suggests the festival was an economic boon for downtown — particularly motels and restaurants, said Doug Luciani, president of the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce.

Not everyone was pleased. Genie Aldrich, a local conservative activist, and a Dallas-based group organized a shorter rival festival with movies they said conveyed "pro-America, pro-family" themes. One of them, "Michael Moore Hates America," was cut off after about 10 minutes because it contained profane language. Aldrich acknowledged crowds were sparse, with only 20-40 people attending some movies, although she said several hundred were on hand for the opening night.

"It's not about a body count. It's about the message, and our message has reverberated around the world," she said, adding that the Traverse Bay Freedom FilmFest would return next year. "They've awakened a sleeping giant. Michael Moore should be feeling like Custer at Little Big Horn."

Yes!!! Their message has reverberated around the world!!! You guys feeling it?!?!

"Ohhh, SNAP! I can't even believe how bad Michael Moore just got TOLD! She likened his ass to a 19th century American general who killed and then got killed by the people indigenous to his continent! I may not have any of my shit any more after that tsunami, but at least I ain't got a big analogy saying 'bitch' hanging around my neck!"

"I'll drink to that! Should we survive to maturity, every one of our offspring will be told to expect any film festivals organized by filmmakers with liberal political views to be countered by another, smaller festival with crappier films that the organizers haven't watched all the way through, somewhere within a hundred miles or so! Holla back, Cambodia!"

"The Khmer Rouge knew a thing or two about dealing with dissenters from the dominant political ideology, but even they were inspired by the way Genie Aldrich gets her message across. For these guys, it's all about the body count. But hey, you can't argue with her results. Unfortunately, having fallen out of favor with the government, I'm about to get a proverbial counter film festival to the head."

"YEAH!! We got all our shit packed up in here and we're on our way to the next pro-America, pro-family counter film festival. When we get there, some time within the next twenty years or so, there's gonna be 24-34 people at some of those showings!! All around the world, Genie! All around the world!!"

August 1, 2005

In another setback for my pro-reform agenda, the three-legged cat is gone. I'm kind of broken up about this. We spent most of the day hanging out together on Saturday, and then I booted him out around eight so I could go to a bookstore. I knew that he had some kind of an affiliation with the balcony across the way, because he often lounged there when he had nothing else to do, and there was a litterbox up there for him to use, although that hardly seemed important for a cat with free reign of a forest. (He could climb down from the balcony to the sidewalk fairly easily by a small hill.) When I left on Saturday night, the balcony doors were open, and I could see a guy cleaning up in there as a big dog walked in circles around him. The three-legged cat stayed by my door. I noticed that his litter box was gone from the balcony. For some reason, I didn't think much of it. He never seemed to be allowed into the apartment, so I didn't think he was very closely linked to it.

Well, the apartment is empty now, and it's been two days since I've seen the three-legged cat. I'm not going to pretend that I don't open my front door once an hour to see if he's there. It's hot, and I have little doubt that he has some shit to say about it.

Goodbye, three-legged cat.

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.