I woke up in a strange place

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

« September 1 | Main | January 18 »

September 9, 2008

Now that public reports have surfaced about Kim Jong Il's absence from official state ceremonies in North Korea amid serious health concerns, I am finally at liberty to announce that Kim Jong Il tried to travel the Oregon Trail at the same time as we did, and his current health problems stem from a debilitating case of dysentery, a failure to invest in spare parts for North Korea's wagon, and the unified refusal of Indians to help him find wild fruit. We passed his party of high-level party functionaries on the side of the road and it was a pathetic sight. Kim Jong Il did not make it to the end of the Oregon Trail as we did. They flew home from Boise, Idaho. His operatives are under orders to hack together a cheap Photoshop job with him at the end of the trail where they just put his head on top of K.'s body, but now, dear readers, you know better than to buy that shit.

I intend to write an itinerary so anyone who would like to travel the Oregon Trail can follow our route, but I may not get around to it. Google seekers of the future may feel free to email me if I don't.

Now You Are the Giant

Football season is here, and that is a fine thing. However, while watching the day's games, I saw a series of beer commercials touting "drinkability" as a new word. Our cultural discourse is eternally an optimistic child on the way to school, and "drinkability" is the flash of a pervert's trench coat. I used to believe that we, as Americans, would stand up and reject things like "drinkability", but now I am older, and resigned that frat boys are already using "drinkability" in term papers and preludes to date rape, and it will be in President Palin's 2011 State of the Union address.

I am resigned, but not surrendered, for today I am proud to announce the first official What Jail Is Like Fellowship Program. What Jail Is Like Fellows will defend cultural discourse through the creation and use of compound German words to describe every-day situations. It is a documented fact that Germans communicate with each other exclusively through compound words: weltschmerz, schadenfreude, so on and so forth. These words, absorbed into our cultural discourse as a whole, have proven tremendously useful in the past. However, it has been ages since a new German compound word has crossed over, and situations are still emerging that require their use. I have an opening for two What Jail Is Like Fellows to create and propagate German compound words, and one What Jail Is Like Fellow to slander the first two Fellows and persistently argue that this ought to be done in another language.

Applicants for the first two positions should submit German compound words to encapsulate the following emotions:

1. The sense of hearing a song you like in a commercial, and feeling your emotional attachment to the song calcify.
2. The sense of feeling old because you have heard a song used in a commercial that was popular when you were in high school, and now advertisers are using it to sell products you associate with old people.
3. The sense of being in a store and feeling haunted because you have heard a song from an album you loved some time ago, but the song itself is not one of the album highlights, so you are struggling to place it.
4. The sense of relief upon listening to a very good new EP or single by a band you had once enjoyed, but whose recent work had led you to believe they lacked the inspiration that had made them great, and were therefore lost to you.

Needless to say, the Fellowship Program is unpaid and probably does not qualify for academic credit of any kind, but I will be happy to send emails on behalf of Fellows urging immediate recognition of their work by scholastic or professional organizations.


Having not studied German but French, I have only these to offer for consideration for the Fellowship Program, and they may not be combined correctly. I'd like to believe that syntax is no match for semantics.

1. Gl├╝cklichschande

2. Moosbeerencreme

3. Augenseitlich

4. Schlammanarchie

1. Hoerenlieb
2. Hoerenliebaltleid
3. Verkaufhoerenbestuerzung
4. Pearljaemmen

I take strong exception to all the above choices. For one thing, German isn't a language. Consider that the Russian word for German is nemets, or "dumb, mute". It's just impossible to speak a mute language. At best, one can speak a real language with a strong mute accent.

For another thing, our nation needs leaders with a steady gaze, who do not blink. If our public discourse starts willy-nilly introducing compound words that stretch from here to Tulsa, then by the time Charlie Gibson finishes asking one of his questions, it's a sure thing that dust will have got into our vice president's eye and she will have had to blink -- thus showing the world she is not ready to lead. This is bad for the troops and bad for America.

Not only that, I could only come up with one entry, for #2:

2. Jugendhimmeltrammeldonnensellen

I feel like a monkey who had an idea that it might scare the other monkeys if he clanged buckets together, making a loud noise - and, having clanged the buckets, found it to be true. The three inaugural What Jail Is Like Fellows are the buckets, and you have made a towering noise; I thank you.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

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.