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.
London: Feb 25 to March 5.
Players Workshop (Term 2).
Passport wrangling.
Innovative uses for post-it notes.

Recent reading:
1 All Quiet on the Orient Express
Magnus Mills
2 V for Vendetta
Alan Moore, David Lloyd
3 A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Dave Eggers
4 Booze, Broads, and Bullets: Sin City
Frank Miller
5 The Virgin Suicides
Jeffrey Eugenides

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

010209 Do you need to live in Texas or one of its neighboring states to have a friend named Tex? I'm very concerned about this. The odds of meeting someone named Tex are probably better there, but I hope there isn't any actual legislation about it. Besides, at least a couple of guys named Tex must have left home and struck out for themselves at some point, and they can't very well just stop being Tex as soon as they're out of the state. If you have information about people named Tex living and thriving in non-Texan areas, please let me know about it. In the meantime, I am now accepting applications for the position of My Friend Tex. If you have the talent, desire and commitment to Tex excellence, please email me. No experience necessary; will train promising candidates. You do not have to be named Tex to apply. This position is open to complete strangers and people who are dissatisfied with their current relationship to me and are looking for an exciting opportunity in the field of Tex.

The point of all my complaining about the old school hacking groups vs Cingular and Verizon being the face of the computer industry is that I think it would be a better world if you could get DSL service from the Legion of Doom. That's all. Instead of using mobile web devices by Cingular, people on the go should be checking weather and stock reports on handhelds made by the Masters of Deception. Oh, sure, they'd probably lie to you every once in a while about when "The Wedding Planner" was playing at the local cinema, but you'd expect that from the Masters of Deception, because, you know, they're the Masters of Deception. You'd shake your head, wag your finger and laugh. E-commerce would become a series of Mentos moments. Verizon lies to people all the time, but no good-natured fun follows their cruel tricks. It's always more of a punch in the stomach, ha-ha we made ten bucks off you sort of thing.

Don't tell me no one is offering solutions to the world's problems, because I have way more where those came from.

I remembered to bring the sandwich that I made two days ago to work today, but I'm afraid that it just won't be the same.

David Hasselhoff's most frequently played role is listed as Himself, although his most recent performance was Mungo.

I found an Atari 2600 to bid on at eBay, so leave it alone, because it's mine, fuckers. It comes with Plaque Attack, which was a deal-breaker; I figure I can get Demon Attack on its own, so I didn't hold out for that one too. I mean, it's asking a bit much to have both Attacks at once. (Let alone Space, Shark, Spitfire or Condor. You can search for those Attacks yourself.)

Fuck's sake. I wrote that, went out for lunch, and when I came back, someone outbid me for the Atari. I can't trust any of you people, can I? Damn it.

(personal ad) I am also a proffesional piercer and have quite a few myself. I guess I also have to put that I sometimes dress goth to widen your chances of finding me. I am also into Nature, Spirituality and the Black Arts. So if you think you are grim enough, write. What I'm looking for... Preferably a long haired, bulletbelt wearing, fire breathing, corpsepaint sporting, running through the woods with a sword in the snow type of guy. What else can I say?

I was taken by the romantic yearning of this 22 year old "old dark soul" goth divorcee from Indiana, so I wanted to help her out by putting a link to her ad here, especially because whoever outbid me on my damn Atari is probably a perfect match for her, you jerk.

Last week I received a letter from the Vice President of Circulation & Consumer Marketing at the Chicago Tribune, Vincent Casanova. Most of the letter was normal, but you could feel his voice go all throaty when he typed the following:

Speaking of time, your Chicago Tribune should be delivered to you by 6:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and 8:00 a.m. on Sunday. I've also enclosed a complimentary copy of The Inside Scoop, a guide to the newspaper and just about everything in the Chicagoland area. It's a handy reference booklet that includes entertainment ideas...transporation info...and so much more. Check it out.

He segues like a demon -- check that "speaking of time" -- and when he slips into those ellipses, you know this VP of Circulation & Consumer Marketing wants to get freaky with you. And the grand finish? Damn near pornographic coming from a man named Vincent Casanova. How much more, Vince? So much more. So...much...more.

010208 Last night was weird. It ended with me baking cookies at 2AM, featuring a competent if unspectacular performance at the mixing bowl, and led to a dream in which I killed two people with a device that turned them into ice, whereupon they proceeded to melt and die from, I don't know, slushiness. The murders were still unpunished when the dream concluded. My character had his reasons, but I do remember recognizing murder as an overreaction. Only bits and pieces lingered after I awoke. I became nervous on the train to work because I couldn't remember if I'd seen either of my cats after waking up. I don't trust my somnolent self. He's amoral, will do anything to go back to sleep.

I made a lunch, a sandwich, but I forgot to bring it to work with me. We are young! We are doomed.

(news) Competition for food is getting tougher for the penguins, albatrosses and seals which live around the Antarctic, a new study by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) says. The BAS's Keith Reid collected 23 years' worth of data on species in South Georgia which eat krill, a crustacean at the centre of the Antarctic food web. The research has implications for the management of krill stocks, Mr Reid told BBC News Online. Some species will find alternatives when they fail to get enough krill. "Macaroni penguins take other small crustaceans and they seem to maintain their breeding success. Gentoo penguins sometimes have a bit more difficulty. They can switch to feeding on fish species but they tend not to be able to maintain the level of breeding success they would have if they were feeding 100% on krill," Mr Reid said.

I don't know. I guess I'm just having another typical afternoon-at-work depressive episode, but I think that article is the saddest thing ever. There used to be enough krill for everyone. Now the penguins and the seals have to fight with each other over who gets the krill. The penguins and the seals used to be friends, I bet, and sometimes they'd even invite the albatrosses over to play, and everyone had a good time, running or flopping or chasing each other in the cool Antarctic snow, but now there's all this krill-related tension and nothing's like it used to be. I want things to go back to the way they were, when everyone had as much krill as they needed and there was no fighting, arguing, competition for krill. What profit all the krill in the world if an albatross forfeits his soul? Bring back the krill. The war on krill is ruining everything. I'll stop doing whatever terrible thing the white man did to mess up all the winter snow pals. No more bread, no more chewing gum, fine, whatever, just give the penguins their krill so everyone can be friends again.

Sergio, the much-hyped one man in the entire world who liked Beelzetron's Super Bowl ads, was the creator of OK Soda. That's just...adequate.

(history) In 1993, the Masters Of Deception (MOD) were the first crackers ever to get busted via wiretaps. The MOD were mostly Phone Phreaks: folks who had fun with the telephone system. They were famous for figuring out ways to avoid paying for long-distance calls, and could also listen in on private conversations, and create huge party lines that allowed many people to chat to each other at one time. MOD also hacked its way into many a database, including those belonging to the National Security Agency, AT&T, and the Bank of America. They also accessed credit-record reporting agency TRW's computer system, and were able to gain access to credit reports of the rich and famous. MOD was also famous for the wars they engaged in with the Legion of Doom (LOD), another cracker group that had the reputation of being the headquarters for the most elite hackers. Due to internal struggles among the members, the infamous cracker Phiber Optik left LOD and formed MOD. The groups then battled each other for the crown of Cracker King for years, until most of them got busted in 1993. Many say that MOD members would not have gotten caught if they hadn't been competing against LOD; the war made them less cautious than they should have been.

Yeah, we had it good, once upon a time. Now, instead of the Masters of Deception or the Legion of Doom, we have Cingular and Verizon. Computers were funnier back then. Titles like "Cracker King" were always silly, but, you know, wasn't it nice to know that someone out there was after that prize, that you and the Cracker King, whoever he was, were both looking up at the same great big sky? (1)

I was pretty skanky yesterday. I didn't want to admit it at the time, because I didn't want a skanky air to be cast over the day's entry, you know, have everything I said interpreted through a skanky filter, but yes, I was skanky. I tried out an innovative new form of showering whereby I turned on the shower, got the water really hot so as to cleanse those pores, and then went to sleep on the couch. Skankiness followed. The Strategy was not a complete failure, of course. My neighbors were probably completely fooled by the illusion of the ongoing shower and would have been puzzled to see my skanky self. Some may have fallen to despair, wondering how I could be so skanky after such a long shower, and sworn off showering as a useless sham. That's not what I intended. I only wanted to sleep some more.

(1) Assuming he left the computer desk and Mom let him borrow the station wagon to go out to the Denny's gathering, that is. The implicit link between this entry and the hit song from "An American Tail" was entirely intentional, by the way.

010207 I bought a bottle of sodapop this morning because I was in the mood to take long, meaningful swigs from a bottle with an intense shake of the head + sigh close behind. If given the opportunity, I planned to make vague references to difficulties in the workplace and being persecuted by parties intent upon busting my balls. Unfortunately, the Walgreens where I made my purchase did not have brown paper bags for the concealing of my beverage, so that was one strike against my plan. I had high hopes for the elevator ride, but that was blown too: the pair of Beelzetronians who rode up with me were chattering about their respective jazz combos and took no notice of my affected stress. I was untracked by the fact that they were in jazz combos, anyway. You can't play jazz with a side gig at a fucking consulting firm. Sure, I work here too, but I put my jazz combo on hold because that's how it's done, damn it, because focus groups and technology out-sourcing and e-commerce are what caused the face of jazz to go from Charlie Parker and Miles Davis to Kevin Eubanks and Spiro Gyra, and fuck that.

The moral of the story, I think, would be something about how it may appear ironic that I was going to pretend I had angst and then I actually got angst but it's really not ironic, it's my own fault for playing with angst because angst is like fire, or something like that; but when I was young there was always a GI Joe guy who came in at the end of the half-hour episode to clarify those things, and where have you gone, Croc Master, Cobra loves you more than you will know, whoa whoa whoa, whoa whoa whoa.

I don't really have a jazz combo, by the way. But, you know, if I did, people would come from all around and say, man, those cats can blow! That would be a compliment, because those people would be hipsters, and they talk like that.

(email) Walking across the campus this afternoon, I stumbled across pure evil: Beelzetron recruiting posters. They spouted Beelzetron's standard lies: "Beelzetron is a friend to children!" and "Only Beelzetron can save Tokyo from monster robot Ariel Sharon!" I turned away, thinking of the last episode of "I Woke Up," the one in which Hai-dan tried to escape to the zoo, but Beelzetron told him, "I will let the other Tempo-Nauts go, but you, Hai-dan, and your little friends Hiro and Lum, will stay behind forever! A ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!" If only Dr. Shirozawa and his Super Magnetic Force can finish their Mecha-Beelzetron before it is too late.

Things have calmed down around here since last week's debacle, but the place still has a fall of Saigon air about it. I know this because one of the secretaries heard a rumor that in a further cost-cutting manuever, since more than half of the department's annual budget was blown on the Super Bowl ad disaster, hot chocolate is no longer going to be stocked in the kitchen alongside the coffee. Trouble. If you read any decent history of the Vietnam War, and you don't have to because I'll tell you the important part right now, you will realize that the moment that everyone knew that the American armed forces were pulling out of the conflict was when they stopped stocking the embassy with hot chocolate. I am anticipating a certain amount of skepticism among my co-workers when I inform them of this dramatic parallel, so I've been putting it off for a while in favor of trying to find a cheap Atari 2600 with good games on eBay.

In more Beelzetron versus the world news, I ache to link directly to this, but I don't want to be discovered via referral logs. But if you read this article in supplement to last week's I woke up in a strange place, you will piss yourself or, at very least, realize that I tell you no lies. If you know what company Beelzetron is an alias for, go to their webpage and click on the "(Beelzetron) Emerges as a Winner in Super Bowl XXXV Ad Competition" link. If you don't know, email me. The research results talk a lot of shit about Visa's Bunnies ad, which is pretty funny in light of Beelzetron's nearly-aired Bunnies ad and the executives' early complaints that their Super Bowl campaign wouldn't have been such a disaster if only they'd aired their Bunnies ad. Oh, Beelzetron. Will you never learn?

It's really interesting to watch doublespeak being created. Kind of like a VH1 Behind the Music for Big Brother.

(news) A national medical organization is calling on the Memphis Maniax football team -- part of the new XFL football league -- to change its name, charging that the team demeans people with mental health disorders and contributes to cruel stereotypes. The team's logo depicts the face of a man whose hair stands on end while his eyes are two large psychedelic spirals. The team headquarters is called "The Asylum" and on their helmet the word "ax" is etched in a jagged script. "This sends a very dangerous message to viewers, especially young people, about who people with mental health disorders truly are," (Cynthia Folcarelli, executive vice president for the National Mental Health Association) explained.

Unfortunately, it is too late. The stereotype has been created and reinforced: as a young person, I now believe that all mentally ill people play football for the XFL. When walking around mental institutions, I puzzle over how large the team is and why they aren't wearing their uniforms. Thanks a lot, XFL. Now I am dumb.

On the walk from the train to work this morning, I resolved to use the word ziggurat somewhere in today's entry. I am running out of time, and no, this does not count. I am not, it seems, all that; and I should, it appears, type to the hand.

(news) "It's tighter than ever, honestly," Nick Carter (of the Backstreet Boys) told a crowd of 135 people, mostly screaming teen-age girls, crammed into a small room. "We've gone on this long and we just want to keep going, we want to be one of the longest groups of our kind to ever last."

Could the teenage girls hear him over the sound of their own screaming?

In contrast, and in memoriam:

Summer's Kiss


Did you feel the breeze?
My love
Summer's kiss is over, baby
Do you know the words?
Sing along with me
And put on your rose fur coat, baby
It's 1973

My love, this dream I have each night
I stare into a blinding light
Alone, I stare

Demons, be gone
Away from me
And come on down to the corner
I got something i want you to see
The burning sun
Too hot for shade
Come lay down in the cool grass
With me, baby let's watch that
Summer fade

My love, this dream I have each night
I stare into a blinding light
Alone, I stare
So sweet
This dream is not a dream
I wake with it
Inside of me
Alone, I swear

The Afghan Whigs have left the building.

Take two:

The Afghan Whigs have left the ziggurat.

010206 One of the shady chop suey joints in my neighborohood closed down. There are still several of them, but it's strange to see one go. They are such obvious fronts for illegal activity that you don't really think of them as needing customers to survive -- but they do, apparently, they do. Here's to you, Morse Chop Suey, and your crazy pig-chef logo too.

The ex-Canadian who works across from me just got flowers from America On-Line. Weird. A multi-national is trying to seduce my co-worker.

(eBay) This auction is for my awesome 70th level 4 School War Mage. This character is one of the elite on Harvestgain. There are very few places he cannot go and very few creatures he cannot destroy. Have you ever dreamed of solo-ing groups of Banderling Maulers, Coral Golems or Silver Tuskers? Ever wondered where people get that awesome Uber loot that you see for sale on Ebay? Well look no further. With this amazing account you will experience the rush of dropping 5 Maulers in one round without breaking a sweat, and get the loot of the gods.

5 Maulers in one round sans sweat? Hold your tongue! If I were a Mauler, I would take that as a personal challenge. Sadly, I get the impression that Angry Young Men are not among the elite on Harvestgain. Perhaps if I were a Banderling Angry Young Man. I don't know. Anyway, this auction was over $200 last time I checked it, which would seem to indicate that many wealthy people do in fact dream of solo-ing groups of Silver Tuskers, althougn I suspect that some of them may be dirty old men who are not entirely clear on what a Silver Tusker actually is.

(continued) He is currently a Rank 6 player, has a great reputation as a trader, and is friend to many in Dereth.

You get the impression that friendship is kind of superficial in Dereth. I mean, this War Mage is about to get a whole new personality, but nobody is concerned at all. The new mind behind the War Mage could have a completely different philosophy regarding Coral Golems and the Dereth Merchants Association, but they're still his pal. That doesn't seem right. They just love him for his Rank 6.

During my lunch hour-or-so, I went to have some passport photos taken. Putting the whiz-bang world wide web to good use, I discovered that there was a shady joint within walking distance of Beelzetron HQ. (1) The joint was perhaps not quite as shady as I had hoped -- no secret knocks, no money under the table, no guys wearing sunglasses for no discernible reason -- but it was okay, as far as shady joints go. Brown and tan decor definitely helps. I made a conscious decision heading in that I was going to look like a convicted drug smuggler on my passport. I did my best, and I think I did okay. The photographer held the pictures out to me: did I recognize this mug, he joked. I wondered how many times a day he uses that one. Getting back into the spirit, I said that the guy in the photo looked like a two-bit palooka. We chuckled, and that was that. I still have to apply for the actual passport. I'll probably do that tomorrow. Certain parties are pushing me to buy cheap black market Albanian passports. Tempting, to be sure. Is it challenging to be Albanian? I don't know. I've never tried.

Heading aimlessly back toward the office, I tried to think of fun shady things to do to prolong the break. I gave serious thought to buying some drugs, but I have no idea where to find them downtown. (2) I have a runny nose, so that discounts the sniffable variety, and I'd probably burn my finger if I tried to light a crack pipe and then my fingers would be sensitive all afternoon as I typed, so crack was out, and morphine seemed initially promising (being a tough World War II Marine type addiction) but then I decided I wanted nothing to do with needles today. So, no drugs. Other ideas included buying lots of cookies (not hungry), beating on my chest and yelling (low energy), sleeping my way to the top of the bank I was passing (unappealing door attendant, libido not quite on spin cycle), and laying down on the ground to make like the guy in the video for Radiohead's Just (am sleepy, but sidewalk was dirty). I settled for hailing down four cabs in a row and then apologizing because I'd changed my mind and would rather walk.

(Salon profile) Bertolt Brecht would have loved Bill Murray. OK, maybe not "Meatballs." But the revolutionary dramatist, who sometimes asked his actors to speak directly to the audience, believed in "the distancing effect" -- any device that prevents the audience from being caught up in the illusion of theater and allows them to maintain a critical distance. "Whereas identification reduces extraordinary events to the level of the commonplace," Brecht wrote, "distancing makes commonplace events rare and astonishing." "When Bill Murray says, 'I love you,' he's in character, sincerely saying 'I love you,'" says a theater director I know. "But he's also acknowledging the audience, and his character, and the absurdity of both."

The rest of the article is just okay, but wow, what a lead-in. Also, making me giddy as a giddy version of myself, the article confirms that Bill Murray will be in Wes Anderson's next movie, the Royal Tenenbaums. And, for a moment, all is as it should be.

I had to fax forty pages of vitally important golf invoices to Australia this afternoon and was therefore stuck in the copy room for a while, tending to the fitful starts and self-doubts of the fax machine. Without anything to hold my attention, it didn't take long before I was photocopying body parts. The series on my hand was especially striking. If anyone would like a copy of my hand, I will fax it to you free of charge: just email your fax number and your preference in view (right or left, palm or back) and I'll send it out to you double-quick. Of course, I got carried away and had begun an ambitious series involving spelling out ominous messages with staples on the photocopier glass. My voice squeaked as I returned the greeting of an executive who had come in to pick up a print-out.

(1) There were reputable places too, but all passport-related business should be conducted in as shady a manner as possible, even if you've got a clean record and you're just going to London. Hell, pay extra for the shadiness if you must.
(2) Executive bathrooms, possibly. Ha-lo, I am being a janitor. I am to clean now. Oh, who am I kidding? I don't even drink.

010205 If I understand the income tax forms correctly, I owe almost $600 on my federal return. I don't remember having made any money this year -- I couldn't afford to eat for about seven months of it -- so I'm more than a bit irritated about this development. This is the sort of thing that drives a man to start up a crime organization, rule the Chicago underworld with an iron fist, begin to spin out of control with a series of violent murders against enemies real and imagined during Prohibition and eventually get taken down for having not filed an income tax return. Let's face it, none of us want that, so let's work this thing out.

What bothers me most, really, (1) was the flash of indignation that I felt when I found out how much I owed -- for a moment, I was part of that soft, stupid section of Middle America that can be sold any atrocity, any erosion of control over their lives so long as it is tied to the promise of lower taxes.

Maybe I did the math wrong. I hate numbers sometimes. Marshmallows would never betray me in a situation like this.

(news) Workers dredging sand to reclaim land for a Disney theme park are turning up a huge harvest of old bombs, police explosives experts said Monday. Alick McWhirter, an assistant bomb disposal officer, predicted some bombs would likely go undetected and be buried at the site where Disneyland will open its park in 2005, but he said there would be no danger if that happens. "Once it goes into the landfill, that's about it, unless you're tossing it around," McWhirter said. "Once it goes into the landfill, it's not really an issue."

Marked lack of concern, I think. This is the sort of careless oversight that spawns gigantic monsters. If you must go, I would caution against allowing your small children to run and happily embrace any of Disney's lovable cartoon characters, especially the grey, conical ones. If your children insist, perhaps it would be a good idea to test the character for explosiveness first. You could approach the character and drop casual references to being a Japanese fighter place. If the character runs at you and tries to explode, he is probably a leftover bomb and should be avoided for the remainder of your visit. If you don't think that you can perform a suitable Japanese fighter plane impression, talking shit about Winston Churchill should do the trick; alternatively, you could just stand at a distance, throw rocks at the Disney character and see if he detonates. These are all good suggestions for a safe trip to any Disney amusement park, really.

To see if anyone is really listening to me at work, I've been experimenting with speaking exactly what is on my mind in response to questions asked. For example, I was asked a moment ago if I could help out on a project, and I said no, absolutely not under any circumstances. The executive's subroutine continued without the slightest diversion, explaining the project and when it was due. Great idea, champ. Next time maybe I'll intimate that I'm a Japanese fighter plane, or throw rocks at them.

Oh! I figured out the tax thing. I did it wrong. I used my total income instead of my total taxable income, which is your total income minus a bunch of money called the standard deduction. I get a fair amount of money back, so I can go back to sneering at the complacency of middle America. Thank you to everyone who emailed me about it. I'm still starting the vicious crime organization, though, because I kinda got used to the idea. And we're going after whoever designed the IRS website first. Holy shit, that site is terrible.

I saw a woman walking down the street last night with a big laundry basket balanced on top of her head. She walked quite a long way with it, so it was no gimmick; she knew what she was doing, balance-wise. In her honor, I walked to the copy room on the other side of the floor with a stack of printouts on top of my head. It wasn't much of a challenge. Passers-by smiled and rated the act 'cute', which isn't really what I was aiming for. It was supposed to be a comment on corporations co-opting tribal culture for profit. Damn all of them for not getting it, although performance art is generally kind of bullshit anyway.

I filed my tax returns with my computer at work. I'm living in the future. That's how I felt this weekend while watching Black Holes: Into the Dark Abyss at the Adler Planetarium. Leaning back in your seat as starfields and green wire-frame models whiz-by overhead on a giant dome screen -- isn't that what the future was supposed to be like? And watching cautionary tales about getting too close to black holes, that was supposed to be huge. Like fire drills. Ah, the space race is over. But the announcer before and after the show sounded like the aging Chinese bluesman that occasionally drives the evening train, so there's something.

(1) Aside from the prospect of pissing six hundred dollars down the drain. That sucks too. (2)
(2) Since this did not come true, I feel as though I should reverse the metaphor. However, the prospect of six hundred dollars leaping out of the toilet and winding its way back into my urinary tract is not terrible appealing either, suggesting that I probably should have put a bit more thought into my original phrasing.

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