This. 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.

My voicemail cries out for you:
(312) 693-0455, 5pm-8am.

Biding my time.
Players Workshop (Term 2).
London in three weeks.
Fill out the forms.

Recent reading:
1 The Virgin Suicides
Jeffrey Eugenides
2 Henry IV
Luigi Pirandello
3 Six Characters in Search of an Author
Luigi Pirandello
4 Jimmy Corrigan :
The Smartest Kid on Earth

Chris Ware
5 Trigger Happy : Videogames and the Entertainment Revolution
Stephen Poole

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

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

occasional updates:
Exploding Dog
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 2001

010202 If there is anything to be learned from the fast-paced business world, it is that to be successful, one must have Strategies. There are Situations, and they must be Anticipated; moreover, they must be Countered, and Turned to one's own Advantage. To this end, I have been working on a new Strategy involving stealing all of the chairs in my office. When I get a new chair, I wedge it into my already cramped cubicle. This is a long-term project, because I have to maintain a slow rate of acquisition to prevent anyone from catching on. I have four chairs so far: blue, red, purple and maroon. If someone comes by and asks to borrow a chair -- they always assume that there is some good reason why I have so many chairs -- I give the matter thought, and tell them well, I don't know, I guess. They always return the chair. Yea, soon I will have all of the chairs, and everyone else will have to stand when they work on their terrible ad campaigns. My work will be clearly superior to theirs, for it will have been completed by a man who was relaxed, sitting down. I will bring the office to its knees. Small price to pay for having a fairly crowded cubicle at the moment.

I'm working a fairly similar Strategy involving paperclips, but I suspect the payoff on that one won't be as good. Anyway, I'm the greatest dancer.

(celebrity news) Three extras were injured on the set of Leonardo DiCaprio's new film Gangs of New York after a horse-drawn carriage fell over. The incident happened in the afternoon at the Villa Borghese park in the centre of Rome. DiCaprio, 26, pelted photographers who tried to take pictures of the incident with horse manure, according to local agency reports.

Well, isn't that like a movie star: won't produce his own feces to fling at his adversaries. I tell you, man. If I pelt you with my feces, you can be assured that those are my own feces, not some stand-in's feces. Nothing worse than a half-assed ape war.

(continued) But both Mr Kaplan and DiCaprio's New York spokesman, Ken Sunshine, would not comment on the stories. Mr Sunshine said all he knew was that "Mr DiCaprio was on his way to the hospital to visit the victims of the accident".

On the other end of the DiCaprio pro-or-con argument, I would totally hire Mr Sunshine as my press agent if I was in his situation. If Mr Sunshine says that all he knows is that DiCaprio is on his way for to visit the victims, how are you going to argue with Mr Sunshine? You'd look like a huge jerk. He's Mr Sunshine, man. Get off his cloud.

In Beelzetron Against The World news, recriminations over the Super Bowl ad blowout have entered their fifth day. The feeling among many is that the rabbit ad could have turned the tide, if it was only aired; the global directors are tracing the downfall to needing a voiceover in one of the commercials to read what's already printed on the screen, but they're at each other's throats over whether it goes at the beginning or the end. Privately, one top executive is frustrated that he can't do anything innovative, that the ads have to spell everything out for people. His creativity is being stifled. His job is going to be stifled, apparently, if a certain upcoming event with his ads is not a huge success. Publicly, the party line remains that the Bowl ads were a huge success. A lunchtime bash with massive amounts of expensive catered food was thrown for the purpose of watching "the best part of the Super Bowl: the Beelzetron ads!" I declined my invitation but slipped in and out anyway for some food, eliciting a few dirty looks; not many, though, because aside from the higher-ups firmly planted in front row seats, the event was sparsely attended. It's pretty awkward, even for someone who hates advertising and consulting companies as much as I do. The top executives have spent all day in front of their speakerphones as a parade of troubleshooters call, tell them how they fucked up and how they can fix it (because they don't have time to shoot new ones before this event where their jobs are on the line). Pow. No one gets it. Of course normal people hated the ads. Normal people have always hated companies like Beelzetron, but if they get money of their own, they give it to Beelzetron because they want to feel like someone's watching over them.

Cutbacks are happening. They're not officially layoffs, since no full-time employees are being dropped, but they're letting all of the temps go except for me and two others (1) and they're assigning all of the temps' work to the already overworked secretaries -- each of whom now has about 50% more work than they hadn't been able to handle anyway.

I keep meaning to check job listings at the zoo.

Today is Cake Day, which is held at the beginning of each month to celebrate employees' birthdays; the ex-Canadian and I (2) are the guests of honor this month. I ate way too much during the lunchtime bash, though, so I think I will confine my activities to mashing my face into the cake and shrieking.

(frog news) Minnesota officials have confirmed that Gov. Jesse Ventura's proposed budget, released last week, contains only $90,000 for research next year on what caused the deformities found in a large number of frogs. Gary Casper, a scientist at the Milwaukee Public Museum and a leading expert on amphibian declines, said the MPCA's decision to staff the deformed-frog program with only one full-time and one seasonal employee is "unfortunate and inadequate." "The problem is not going away," he said.

Deformed frogs, it appears, are not extreme enough for Minnesota governor and XFL announcer Jesse Ventura. I don't know about that guy. I think deformed frogs are pretty extreme. I mean, I don't think that frogs should be deformed. Good thing he's not governor of Vancouver Island, what with all the lonesome marmots.

On the other hand, I don't know what those guys are complaining about. I could do a whole lot of frog-related research with $90,000.

Bad idea to brag: I don't know which one of you fuckers tipped off the service coordinator about my Strategy, but an hour after outlining it on this webpage, the purple and blue chairs were taken away. Damn it, damn it.


(1) Yes, I am being kept while everyone else is being let go. I know. Look, it's too dumb to make up.
(2) Febuary 19th for me.

010201 I was thinking how it would be nicer to spend my time writing, and that led me to thoughts about things to write. It's hard to collect and develop enough ideas for anything good these days. I'm too busy fighting pitched battles with work and adulthood to stare off into space for the necessary amounts of time. They say that you should write what you know, though, so I wrote down a quick list of things that I know and that I like writing about:

1) monkeys
2) robots
3) communication
4) giant radioactive monsters
5) bastards (as derogatory term for social group)
6) bastards (as literal term)
7) panda bears, taken out of context
8) confusion
9) prostitutes
10) ninjas

So, working from those pieces, I am planning to write an intensely personal novel about a ninja monkey: his battle to fit in with the rest of the world, to hold on to what he believes and to save the city from an evil giant robot panda bear. But it's also the story of a beautiful hooker with a heart of gold who is torn between the ninja monkey and the giant robot panda, and how maybe the monkey and the robot panda knew each other when they were growing up but now they feel like they've grown apart, taken different directions in life, etc. Maybe they knew each other at the orphanage. That sounds good. Looking at what I've got so far, it's probably going to be pretty long, like "War and Peace" size. I don't have a title yet. Probably either "Ninja Monkey Versus Giant Robot Panda In Super-Battle", or "And As The City Fell, She Cried His Name", or "Life Nowadays, What With All The Bastards Constantly Hanging Around".

In sometimes-I'm-dumb news, I went ahead and clicked on the LEGO Porn link at work. I mean, they're LEGOs. How graphic could it be? Damn it, damn it. As it turns out, they manage.

I resumed the Super Bowl of Baking! last night. The label on the can of baking powder included an idyllic though not especially historically responsible depiction of life among working classes in the 19th century. I scooped out a teaspoon and threw it deep into the bowl. Touchdown! Then I put the balls of dough in rows and wished them well as they headed into the oven for halftime. The star-studded halftime show for the Super Bowl of Baking! featured my cats eating chicken treats, and then in a spectacular finale I stubbed my toe on a chair. Ow! The cookies came charging out of the oven to finish the Super Bowl of Baking! I let them cool, and then I tasted one. Final score: tasty! Thank you, sir, may I have another! Holy shit, this paragraph is the best piece of literature ever written.

(news) Biologists refer to the "Allee effect" to describe a population which has become so small and fragmented that young animals can't breed for the simple reason that they can't find a mate. This is the dire situation that now faces Vancouver Island marmots. Several colonies now contain 2 or fewer individuals, and in at least one case both animals are female. Even where we have multiple animals there is still a problem.

Marmots in crisis: shy, self-conscious and isolated from their fellow marmots. Similar problems nearly drove humanity into extinction before the invention of the inter-net. Who will make an inter-net for marmots? Someone has to do something, lest we wind up with the hordes of lesbian marmots that the above paragraph suggests are on the way. God would be furious if the marmots were allowed to sink into iniquity. Marmots eating pork, marmots failing to honor the Sabbath. Marmots, marmots. No, seriously. Marmots in trouble.

(continued) Vancouver Island marmots, like most mammals, avoid close inbreeding (that is, we've never seen a mother mate with her offspring, or a brother mate with a sister). This is why dispersal is so important. Between-colony injection of "new blood" by dispersing marmots provides the only means through which young marmots will have an opportunity to breed.

Yes! No inbred marmots. Marmots 1, American South 0. Marmot dispersal is crucial. No more marmot hoarding. Give young marmots the opportunity to breed. Marmots, breeding, symphony. Hearts a-flutter. Every day is Valentine's Day for a properly dispersed marmot.

Beachhead hates people who aren't interested in doing their best. Judging by his eyebrows, it would appear that Beachhead's career has a high stress level. Life is very short, and there's no time for fussing and fighting, Beachhead.

010131 My mouth still does not feel entirely right following tough love from the dentist two days ago. I hadn't been to his office since I was in high school, having seen other dentists while in college; he's a top guy, Dr O'Meara, but his assistants lack finesse. My mother, who also has her teeth cleaned there, asked me if I got the Nazi. I said shit, Mom, my mouth was too full of painful metal jabbing things to discuss her feelings about the Jewish race. No, said my mother, she meant that the dark-haired one tended to inflict more pain than the blonde one. I was still a little perplexed about how my mother became familiar with German dental procedures from twenty years before she was born, but I let it go. Yep. I'd had the Nazi. Nice woman, though. Ten years on the job and she still asked questions during the teeth cleaning that required polysyllabic answers.

(news) "It’s disgusting. They’re pecking on the windows, and they’re just gross," says Lanelle Smith, an administrative secretary on the 21st floor of the courthouse. Benefiel has taken to closing his blinds a lot these days. "No one wants to sit there and look at those god-awful faces," he says.

Where most cities have consulting firms, the city of Orlando has vultures; I used to think someone had lost their mind when I'd see dead rats sitting around the office, but now I realize that it's very hard to tell "e-business solution" and "dead rat" apart. Sometimes they get a little mixed up, that's all.

For the last few days, I've been going to Super Bowl AdCritic every few minutes to vote for Beelzetron's commercials as the worst. I didn't actually see any of said televised event, so I don't know which ones to vote for in the positive categories; playing the odds, I just keep voting for the one that says it had a monkey in it.

I was sad today. I felt like everyone at work hated me, because they were having happy conversations with each other and not with me. Then I realized that the reason no one was talking to me was that I was hiding behind some boxes marked '1997' in the research library, and no one could see me. I still felt a little sad, though, so I put my shoes back on and returned to my desk.

(Onion: Jackie Harvey) So it turns out that computers weren't all the rage, after all! Go figure.

This morning, aside from the part where I woke up, and the part where I changed the cat litter, and especially the part where I decided to skip showering and eat cereal instead in the hope that cereal was all that stood between me and an emotionally fulfilling role in society, as well as the bits concerning the cereal-related stomach-ache, was brilliant. The latter third of the train ride to work runs underground, in the subway. Today, a few hundred yards into the tunnel, the train came to an abrupt stop and the lights went out. What happened? As it turns out, some goofball was loose on the tracks. Rumor (via the conductor) had it that he was walking between stations further on. For his safety and the safety of those who had gone after him, all of the power in the southbound tunnel was off. This distressed many people, but I was content. I was already late and now had a opportunity to see what would happen if I was even later; also, I boarded the train early and had a nice window seat. Old ladies, eat your slowly failing hearts out. There was barely any light, so I couldn't read any more of my book. Instead, I watched through the window, hoping to see the goofball in question come tearing by. This seemed to be a much more sensible approach to the situation than the one chosen by some of the other passengers, which was to blend obscenities and asphyxiation into impromptu midlife crises. For a while, I felt like perhaps REM's "Everybody Hurts" video was happening further down the tunnel, and I was missing it. I settled on the more pleasant theory that the man thought he could go as fast as a train if he was on the tracks like the trains were. I hoped reality wasn't too disappointing for him. The CTA sent three squads of police officers down into the tunnels after him, two of which promptly got lost and tacked another half-hour on the entire episode. From the fact that they got lost in a single, narrow, non-branching tunnel, we must conclude that these officers of the law were having an off-day. There was unfortunately no wrap-up to the goofball's story -- for some reason, he dropped out of the narrative as soon as the conductor announced that the police officers were lost -- but I felt confident, and still do, that somewhere out there, he was running with the trains.

I took intermittent breaks while writing that paragraph to fire rubber bands over the top of my cubicle wall in the direction of the main hallway.

(Genesis 11) Now the whole earth had one language and few words. And as men migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, "Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly." And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth."

They may have had "few words", but they had their heads on straight when they made sure that "bricks" was one of those words. (1) Here's to the Babylonians, who probably laughed at all of the other cultures whose wedding reception DJs had to spin "Car Wash" on repeat during their disco flashbacks.

(1) I don't know what the deal is with the part where they "burn the bricks thoroughly". Sounds kinda...sassy!

010130 After many hours of frantic searching, the miserable executives finally found an article written by a man named Sergio who, unlike the rest of humanity, did not vehemently hate Beelzetron's ads during the Super Bowl. This was the cause of much shrieking and shouting, as well as a proposal to offer Sergio a job on the marketing team. Here is a chance for those who are down on their luck: get in here and be among the few to have said something nice about Beelzetron's eight million dollar blowout, and you will be rewarded. I plan to suggest as much to any homeless people who ask me for change over the next few days. Yeah, man. Tell them the bugs liked the ads too.

Sergio alone cannot stem the tide. I knew there was something wrong when I walked in yesterday and saw that all of the brand new raised metal Beelzetron signs had been torn down; was the shame so great that the marketing department would deny their own name? The office was a ghost town. Newspapers blew by, stray dogs ran past the corner of my eye. Voices in a conference room: "Ad Age gave us one and a half stars. They said..." "Well, we were trying to do something profound. People just didn't get that. They went for the entertaining stuff." So they did, so they did. "We are in major crisis mode", say some global-directing folks. Italy has expressed its embarassment on America's behalf. There was going to be a party for marketing personnel, but its status is in doubt; one thing is for sure: the budget will not allow for pizza. Chips, if we're lucky. Big Jim is pissed. He wants to know where it all went wrong. I spent all of yesterday duplicating jam-packed binders, and I think it's connected somehow. Seven hours at the photocopier, and more to come.

Still, it's kinda sweet:

(lyrics) Just for once, for no-one else, we are blameless

Nobody can pin that train wreck on me, yo.

They have billions of dollars, and in the long run they'll be fine. But I tell you this, gentle readers: sometimes, the Man sweats, and it's a hell of a thing to see.

There are workers out in the lobby inexplicably painting the already white walls white, which is an almost too-obvious metaphor for what this company does.

One final weird job event: a new time reports memo went out, and I was not asked to work on it. Did I get promoted? It wasn't all that zany. Perhaps I have a career as a memo-doctor. If you could punch up this group insurance memo a little, you know, add some zing, we'd really appreciate it. Show me the Benjamins, pal.

When I am busy at work and must lie to my co-workers in order to find time to write, it's hard to write about anything except work. Shame, that. A lot of what I do involves creating and designing research binders, and a lot of that involves making labels. I tried to save my latest set of labels, and was dismayed to discover that I was running out of file names: more labels.doc, yet more labels.doc, another bunch of labels.doc, a fucking lot of labels.doc, never mind the bollocks here's the labels.doc, labels - woop-de-shit.doc, and I bring you sticky label death.doc had already been used. I was genuinely stumped for a file name.

I photocopied some research reports, and in order to quench my curiosity about what everyone else in this office does, I read them as they went by. Apparently, Beelzetron pays another company to monitor the internet for mentions of Beelzetron in any format -- parody sites, usenet messages, and oblique mentions on competitors' webpages. Thankfully, my website is not yet on the monitor list. (I'd been wondering about that.) The reports were pretty funny: veiled irritation at marchFIRST claiming to be the number one source for internet professionals, notation of Byron Burblemeister (Beelzetron's ex-partner tax firm) adding an extra black man to one of their recruitment pages, a great joke about a Beelzetron consultant getting bitch-slapped by a shepherd.

I finished reading Jimmy Corrigan: Smartest Kid on Earth while I sat in Union Station, eating my lunch, and there was a picture of Union Station near the end of the book. I felt located in space and time. It's a very sad book, but I do agree with its basic theses:

1) it's lonely sometimes
2) Dad's gone
3) the 1893 Chicago World's Fair must have been amazing
4) it can be pretty when it snows
5) it's a world of possibilities

010129 Time spent at my computer today has been slim as a 2D anorexic. Everyone wants me on their project team. That fucking zany time reports memo ruined everything.

Yesterday at my apartment, it was the Super Bowl of Baking! My voice cracks and my head spins. I did not watch the Super Bowl of football for many reasons, such as the fact that my teevee is still gone, I didn't want to see the Beelzetron ads, I enjoy confounding multi-million dollar attempts to reach my demographic self, the Cubs weren't playing, and the cat was in the middle of a five hour tenure on top of my head. I figured that if there was anything important to be done, the cat would recognize it and get off my head so I could move. I guess the cat didn't think there was anything important to be done.

I went to the grocery store to buy food. While there, I decided to buy the ingredients to bake cookies so I could hold the Super Bowl of Baking! at my apartment. Good decision, I thought. Thanks, I replied. You're welcome, I concluded. Once home, I dug out my handful of cookie recipies, which were written on the backs of postcards and photos by a girl I knew a long time ago. Immediately, I began to feel like a bit of a jerk about the way our relationship wound up. But there was no time for regret, because it was time for the Super Bowl of Baking! So I chose a recipe and put the ingredients together. I was very excited. The dough tasted great. I was winning the Super Bowl of Baking! Then, it came time for the last ingredient. No baking powder! I had forgotten to purchase baking powder at the store. Punt. I launched a stream of obscenities, accusing myself of various character slurs, several of which were based on very tenuous evidence. After a few minutes, the guy in the apartment above mine stomped on the floor as if to say "Hey, you're being too hard on yourself. Let's face it, your real parents may be a mystery to you, but they probably did not eat the Lindbergh baby. Chin up, sport. After all, the Super Bowl of Baking! is every day!" I thought about it, and I ate some cookie dough. It was still good. I put it into the refrigerator, and I went to do something else.

Tonight, after work, I'm going to the dentist! He's gonna clean my teeth and set me straight about oral hygiene. By hook or by crook (1), back in full effect tomorrow.

(1) 'Hook' 64%, 'Crook' 36%. 'Hook' is in the lead, but will it cover the spread? O, wicked gambling.

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