Fear of a blank page. Those polka dots were talking shit. Cat food again.

self-portrait, with floating heads.

self-portrait, nude, in the box store.

self-portrait, wet, in mouth of whale, with fish.

This web page is the work of
Marc Heiden, 22 years old, who . He lives in Chicago.

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Biding my time.
London in February.
Players Workshop (Term 2).
Something or someone.
Charming as ever.

Recent reading:
1 Cryptonomicon
Neal Stephenson
2 the Second City: Backstage at the World's Greatest Comedy Theater
Sheldon Patinkin, et al
3 Goya
Sarah Symmons
4 BFI Modern Classics:
the 'Three Colours' Trilogy

Geoff Andrew
5 Walker Evans: Signs
Walker Evans, Andrei Codrescu

updated daily:
Corona Movies
Kill Less of Me
Morning News
Notes from Jail
Robot Wisdom

updated weekly:
the Onion (W)
Red Meat (Tu)
Splendid (M)
This Modern World (M)

occasional updates:
Exploding Dog
I Hate This Part of Texas
Public Enemy
Static Flux
What Jail is Like

Another Room
Penny Dreadful Players
Ron Rodent
WEFT 90.1 FM

art 'n resources:
Wes Anderson
Tim Burton
Douglas Coupland
Eatonweb Portal

b-side wins again 2000

001222 I should not be at work today, so I am not. I am at home. My apartment is warm and cozy, although the water contained in my apartment is neither of those things. As far as I am concerned, then, I am living in a third-world country today.

The Executive In Charge of Something You Don't Know About nearly blew up in my face earlier in this week when an oblivious executive came up to me and asked if, since T was of course going to be out and J had to be in New York and L was flying out to Phoenix, could I come in for a few hours to help finish the year-end letter to the Partners? (1) I gulped and agreed, unable to break character. The new media guy laughed. (2) The project was delayed until Tuesday at the last minute, fortunately. I don't know exactly what I'm going to do then, but that's a whole birth of the Christian messiah away.

I still have to do Christmas shopping. I've found that I do the best job with it when I go to a store with a number of different kinds of things, wait until there is literally no time left, and then grab whatever I can that's within range. Limiting one's options can do wonders. It can also have you giving someone a hair-net as a present, but like every other part of life, it's important to make great mistakes as well.

No hot water. My life is brutal. It's an Eskimo conspiracy or something.

The holiday season for me has been edited down over the years from the traditional child-of-divorce / separation three-day pilgrimage from branch to branch by family members passing on or developing vendettas against each other. It's now a two-hour session on Christmas Eve afternoon. There's a lunch at some crazy hotel that claims to do it up "Dickens-style". The ad seriously promised hog pudding. (3) I can only assume that, if we're doing it in true Victorian manner, the ten year-old chimney sweeps coughing up their lungs will be on the house. I sincerely hope we've signed up for the bourgeoise section, as I quite value my lungs and have never had much of a taste for gruel, even with a lot of salt. Though, now that I think about it, I'd rather just eat and not have to condemn Oscar Wilde's sexual practices between bites, because I really don't have a problem with them. So I don't know. Should be strange.

On the topic of the Victorian era, by the way, have you ever read Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age? It's dead brilliant. I can keep making Victorian jokes for hours, in case you were wondering. Give me a stage and an audience and I'll rock the joint.

I love Christmas because it's the only time of the year when, for a fleeting moment, everything is well and truly quiet. The stores have had their fill of you, relatives are passed out for one reason or another, and there's nowhere that anyone's expecting you to be at 11:30pm on Christmas Eve. It was even quieter when I was eleven years old, and I miss that, but there's still enough left that I look forward to it all year.

(1) The Partners are the distant group who wield ultimate authority over what goes down at Burblemeister. Think in terms of the Gang of Four, the Twenty-One or the Star Chamber, except with an e-focused consulting firm instead of a country in the grip of terror, and you more or less have it.
(2) I've let him in on my various projects. It's more fun with an audience right there.
(3) You can surmise how concerned anyone is that my vegetarian ass will attend. Or my non bat-shit crazy ass, for that matter.

001221 I should not be at work today. I don't know when I fell asleep, but I know where I slept: on the floor, getting sore. No tough-love from the alarm clock today. Had I staggered out the door in my underwear without delay, it would have been my earliest late arrival in weeks. Instead, I laid on the floor and considered the question of movement from a number of angles: the history of art, for example, has clearly pointed in the direction of prioritizing emotional health over financial gain, with the notable exceptions of Ben Franklin and the Cash Money Hustlas. From a practical standpoint, it's kind of dumb to take the day before vacation off. There were also several national and financial imperatives to consider, though, such as 00110GAIN010GAIN110CONSUME011GAIN11001PROTECTTHEQUEEN0101, so I had to take those into account. In the end, I compromised by laying on the floor for a long time and leaving when I got bored of laying there, one hour later.

The entire multinational corporation fell apart without me. Sorry about that.

I heard a rosy-cheeked creep singing a song stressing the point that Jesus is the Reason for the Season. I thought about it. Either she meant that Christ caused all of this snow, in which case I'd appreciate if he'd take some responsibility for what he did and help shovel my car free, or that Christ caused Christmas, in which case it's only logical to assume that the X-Men caused Xmas and are not getting the credit they deserve.

At the train station last night, there was a cheerful man with a boombox tap dancing to Christmas carols. I did the math and calculated that random encounters with tap dancers are worth quite a bit of money, so I felt bad for only giving him a dollar. He seemed happy, though, and predicted nothing but good things for me in the future.

Looking through my wallet, I found a recent fortune noting that everything will now come my way. There was a chunk of the paper missing. I wondered if that affected the fortune at all, or maybe it meant that 'everything' included monsters that come along and eat part of your stuff.

I read a bit on the train and then I fell asleep. I woke up when a beautiful blonde woman started speaking to me. Her English was a little shaky. She asked if my book wasn't very interesting. I said no, it was very interesting, but I had read a lot today and I was tired. We talked for a little while about school. She was studying for a degree in social work, and she was on her way home from a psych exam. In the long run she was worried about the math requirement, because math wasn't her strong point. I thought about asking her to marry me, but then I remembered that legally I'm supposed to be pretty heavily medicated, so I didn't. She pointed to a picture of a cherubic little boy in the chapter on nervous disorders and said that he was cute. I agreed, and then the train came to my stop.

Today is the last day of work before the holidays. I noticed that several of the various teams (new media, rebranding, etc) brought tasty food items like cheesecake as presents for each other. Since no one really knows what I do or why I'm here, I walked around pretending I was part of different teams and making friends. It was fun, and a good thing, too, because I didn't bring any lunch.

This picture was taken in front of the building where I work. Crazy. I'm the ghost, waving hello, slip-sliding in the snow.

I think we're alone now. There doesn't seem to be anyone around. I think we're alone now. The beating of our hearts is the only sound.

Nearly everyone with any degree of authority left work early today. The fact that I am still here is doing a bit of damage to my new work persona (1), the Executive in Charge of Something You Don't Know About. I am helping the rebranding team with a project involving CDs and the envelopes that love them. The CDs feature 22 different versions of the Burblemeister jingle, entitled "Bridges", in styles listed as ranging from acid jazz to Celtic to cinema to Cuban mambo to electronica to hard rock to jump jazz to New Orleans Zydeco to (non-hard) rock-and-roll to Romance (Love Theme from Burblemeister Consulting?) to Soul (the hell you say) to South African Pop (whatever that is). The liner notes refer to the jingle as an "aural signature", or, translated into normalspeak, a "skullfuck".

I stopped by the temp agency on my way into work because I needed more timesheets and I wanted to round it off to a full two hours late, and the receptionist gave me a Christmas present from the agency. It was a plush, goofy-looking Santa Claus with a clear plastic ball for a stomach. Inside the stomach were red and green peanut M&M candies. I thought that was great. Santa had chocolate entrails and you were supposed to tear him open to feast upon said entrails: a very Cthulu Christmas, brought to you by your friends at Lakeshore.

Last night I had wild mushroom quesadillas for dinner. They were an experiment, and the experiment was a rousing success. These mushrooms were not wild in the sense that they stood around after school, smoking and making fun of your digestive system as it left drama rehearsal; no, these mushrooms were wild in a jetpack dodgeball sort of way, meaning that if they were playing jetpack dodgeball and your digestive system came along, wide-eyed and wondering what was going on, the wild mushrooms would look down and say hey, we're playing jetpack dodgeball, do you want to play? And your digestive system would mumble sadly that it had no jetpack, and it would prepare to slink home, but it would be stopped by a wild mushroom who'd say it was going to sit out this round anyway, so your digestive system could borrow that mushroom's jetpack, and it'd help your digestive system put the jetpack on and everyone would cheer.

(1) I retired the Office Guerilla a while ago. I felt like it had gone as far as it could go. I'm aiming for a 1970s David Bowie rate of reinvention here.

001220 I dozed off in front of my computer this morning, and when I awoke, several webpages about the Louisiana Purchase were open on my screen. This may well be the first paranoid fit in history that was brought on by the Louisiana Purchase.

I looked it over. Seemed like a pretty good deal, so I gave it the go-ahead.

From the Onion:

After acknowledging that the only gifts worth buying are toy robots, toy monkeys, and toy robot monkeys, we swallowed our pride, went shopping again, looked for gadgets, gave up, and bought more toys.

They're comparing Burblemeister Consulting's entry into the world of e-commerce to Charles Darwin proposing the theory of evolution in the other room and trying to develop a serious ad campaign around it. Oh, please do.

Return of the photo section: Tough Day at the Office.

I have been delivering this topic a beatdown of overuse, but I do want to brag that I score first place in Google searches for drunken party pictures. You know that you're doing something right with your webpage when you discover a fact like that. Coming in at a respectable fifth is this webpage, which chronicled the role-playing adventures of the magic-user Milady Gandalf, the thief Lord Kinky and their intrepid group of friends. Don't miss the close-up photo of the cleric Tengwar, who has clearly been diverting character points to his charisma rating lately.

Yesterday, there were two musicians plucking full-size harps in the lobby. There was a fairly large crowd watching them with the dead eyes and blank, ruddy look that's fashionable among people who work here. Most of them were probably awed more by the presence of the harps ("I thought harps was for angels. Is them angels?") more than the music itself. Today there were cups of an odd tasting fruit punch and a piano player. On top of his piano, the player had a comical sketch of himself and a copy of his CD for sale. I shook my head. Something was breaking my heart, and it wasn't his rendition of "Silent Night".

Free ODB Watch: according to reports, the Ol' Dirty Bastard recorded tracks with RZA during the month that he was on the run from the law. In a statement that will quicken the pulse of any true music fan, RZA noted that ODB's new "very very peculiar" lyrics have a "Marvin Gaye feeling". Oh, god, yes. Release them now!

"Pants! Alright!" I chirped, hanging up the phone. The new media guy laughed. Everyone else in the area turned and stared. I sent smiles all around and confirmed: "Yep!"

001219 When I'm low on things to say about my own life and I need to pull in dozens of articles to comment upon for material, this webpage begins to look too much like a weblog. I hope it's still worth reading, but it's got to stop. In that "blogging" is basically the creative equivalent of licking the scabs of a naked and crusty eighty year-old man after he has been hosed down with pickle relish that's been out in the sun for three days (and then declaring it to be a revolutionary new form of absorbing food), I think that resembling a "blog" is not so good. So I've been thinking that I should spend more time in the photos section. Not that I'm going to kill this part of the page, of course; I'll still update this every day, but I'm going to get back to only writing when I have something to say.

Tonight I will miss the office Christmas party because I have class. (1) I might have actually gone if I wasn't otherwise occupied, because they rented out the Field Museum. Prog-rock corporate excess, to be sure, but having the run of the halls with the big dinosaur skeletons would be worth steeling a grin on the trolley over. The party is not for the entirety of Burblemeister, either. Marketing is apparently the cash money player department, so they rented out the entire museum for this floor alone. (2) It's kind of like the big business version of a No Limit album cover.

I want to note, by the way, that my friend Dave Johnson has been making my workday a better span of time with his webpage. I say that not because I have been assimilated into the creepy robot hivemind phenomenon of bloggers talking to each other on their webpages but in case anyone missed his page over to the left; the man deserves a shout-out.

My mental health can generally be represented by one of three figures: whether I am feeling like an alien, a robot, or a dinosaur. I have the Flintstones vitamins version of manic depression. I guess I spend most of my time as the little robot boy, and not just because I spend a lot of time at work trying to make my eyes go like lasers.

One of those singularly beautiful work experiences: I took a detour on my way to get some water and approached a complete stranger in a different part of the office. I knocked on his cubicle wall and asked where we were at with "the project". He told me that there hadn't been any movement today, so I asked him if we were going to "get into it tomorrow", and he assured me that we would. I told him that he was doing well. Awesome, awesome.

The peanut-butter and jelly sandwich went to hell and back before it emerged from the ziplock bag. Good for an action movie, bad for my lunch.

(1) That's not intended as a clever double entendre implying that the rest of the people who work here are not so classy as I; I really do have a class to go to.
(2) 10th floor represent! Or something.

001218 All of my friends are getting them Big Mouth Billy Bass talking fishes for Christmas. Walgreens got them on sale so I can stock up. Don't nobody go and tell my friends, though. I want it to be a surprise.

I can only assume that this weekend's "Adam West Porn" Google search was one of my friends trying to weird me out. Because, you know, that's fucked up. I come up number three on the list, by the way.

I've been hearing for a while that my neighborohood (Rogers Park in Chicago) is gradually becoming trendy and going condo and all those other terrible things. I didn't really take it seriously until this morning when the beat-up van to Jetta ratio swung the other way, with the Jettas posting their first decisive win by a 2 : 1 margin. Only one independent coffee house has been disemboweled by Starbucks so far, though, and you can still get yelled at by crazy people on Morse Avenue whenever you feel the need, so it should be okay. I like my damn ghetto.

Scientists may have found an ocean on Ganymede, Jupiter's largest moon. Cheers for them. I found a lake near my apartment. It's big and wet. I haven't seen any evidence of life yet but I think it's possible. Anyway, I'm calling it Luther.

Massive earthquakes blamed for mystery of Egypt's sunken cities. It's nice to see something other than how difficult I am to work with get the blame for once. Not sure how they'd have tied me in, but they have their ways.

In a past life, I was the town drunk in Cairo. I did a good job. If you visit the small Illinois town of Cairo, they will inform you that KAY-ro is the way to say it. One can only hope that the divisive history vs hicks debate will be resolved when the mer-people emerge from the sunken cities and set us all straight. I am willing to be an All-American Adventurer who confronts the king of the mer-men if they need one. I guess I'm thinking too far ahead. They probably don't even have a spunky sidekick or helpless beautiful scientist woman hired yet.

Scientists suggest that there may be a new threat to Antarctic ice, even worse than the old problem of global warming. Man, if they think this "slowing of the ice streams due to gradual change in climate and resulting change in the geometry of the ice sheet itself over the past 10,000 years" thing is bad news, wait 'til I get my hands on the 300,000 tons of grape flavoring I have in mind for that continent. Yum!

There is a mention in this article about superior yet failed technologies of my personal favorite, Edison's wax cylinder that lost out to the vinyl disc in the early days of recorded sound. Anyone with a solid background in the sciences will immediately recognize that discs are for throwing at evil robots and cylinders are for jamming into slots to make computers work, so I for one think it was a damn shame that vinyl won.

Can you scratch a wax cylinder? New frontiers in phat.

For my follow-up, by the way, I am going to get jiggy with the spray-cheez and Greenland. That's a tasty meal right there.

The Internet is significantly cooler in South Korea, according to this article; dot-coms are all fine and good, but I can't get with any new economy that doesn't offer an e-murder/suicide pact.

A two-pack with Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow would theoretically be the apex of action figure punk rock were it not for the inexplicable big "GI JOE!" patch that covers Snake Eyes' entire leg. What fucking ninja would go into battle with big dumb letters and colorful stripes on one of his legs? Hell, even Quick Kick knew better than that. Look, they can make a mockery of my country's electoral process but I won't have them messing around with my childhood ninjas.

When I came back from lunch this afternoon, there were classical musicians with tuxedoes playing "Silent Night" in the lobby for a stream of bored and/or babbling executives and secretaries. I paused for a moment, feeling like I should apologize on behalf of the several years they spent getting their music degrees from some university. I shrugged. It's not as though my history and literature degrees have had much of a workout recently.

I had to put some other assignments on hold to keep my 3:45pm, which was scheduled by phone (see the sidebar) over the weekend. I thought about it for a while and decided that the best place to get a quality swerve on in this building was an elevator. I had to ride once up and once down before I got one to myself, and then, as the anonymous caller requested, I wiggled. Then I came back here and played music on the metal letter opener. (It sounds like a small saw.)

Worth reading for the headline: Terrorists named as major threat to the US. Botulism shakes its head sadly and tells the campaign advisors to go ahead and junk the "Botulism 2000" banners. Not this year, guys. The terrorists snicker, having scored a thirty-three-peat.

I know my rights. Give me back my damn pants.