About. What's going on. Sunshine plus one. Previously. 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, 23 years old, who . He lives in Chicago.

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

Players Workshop (Term 4).
Chicago Improv Fest this weekend.
Dizzy for the foreseeable future.
Ankle stable.

sometimes, I also write for
Thinking of Hesterman,
because I'm like that.

Recent reading:

1 Arcadia
Tom Stoppard

My friend Rory noted that he has had conversations with an oddly large number of smart, clever, beautiful women who have read 'Arcadia'. Tom Stoppard is a brilliant author, of course, and I enjoy conversations with smart, clever, beautiful women, so, word, I'm on it.

2 Swamp Thing : The Curse
Alan Moore, Steve Bissette

By the author of Watchmen. Alan Moore's run on Swamp Thing is one of those series that comic book kids have always heard was legendary and brilliant, one of the first "smart comics", but was, for some damn reason, always unavailable; while DC kicks out TPB after TPB of various Batman characters dying and then returning with different haircuts, almost all of Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol and Alan Moore's pre-Crisis Superman remain unavailable except for occasional single issue reprints. With the industry in the toilet as it is, they are finally reprinting some comics like this in hopes of attracting the Borders crowd. I've read the first collection as well; this is the third. I am pleased to say that both of them live up to the hype. Hot damn.

3 Gravity's Rainbow
Thomas Pynchon

Fantastic, of course. It's about paranoids like 'Ulysses' is about the Irish. And rockets, too. Pretty much the definitive non-physics work about rockets. Intense in parts, incredibly funny too. There are some bits that are maddening because you can't work out what they have to do with anything else, and many other bits that you just have to stop and stare at, awed at what words can do.

Although GR is not really a narrative-based book, I would like to bitch for a moment about how the New York Times book review gives away every major plot development, including exactly what happens on the last page of the book. In literary criticism, it's okay to assume that the reader has read the book. In a review, it is not. People complain about movie trailers giving too much away, but they do this all the time with books. It's fucking irritating, and it's lazy writing.

4 A 'Gravity's Rainbow' Companion : Sources and Contexts for Pynchon's Novel
Steven C. Weisenburger

The novel is fairly comprehensible on its own, but it's densely packed with references, trivia and patterns that make a book like this handy to have along for occasional consulting - things you could get away with skipping, but damn it, you know that means something...

updated daily:
Kill Less of Me
Man Cutting Globe
Morning News
Neil Gaiman
Red Secretary

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

occasional updates:
Exploding Dog
Public Enemy
What Jail is Like

Another Room
Ron Rodent

art 'n resources:
Wes Anderson
Antarctica Jobs
Tim Burton
Douglas Coupland
Eatonweb Portal
The Simpsons Archive

b-side wins again 2001

010504, night I am done collating, and now I'm hangin' round.

Faithful reader Kurt Tuohy wrote in with a suggestion for the new address of this webpage and wound up giving me the e-commerce idea I've been waiting for to make instant millions: iWokeUp. Sounds like a new Mac tech device, the computer equivalent of a girl drink at a bar, right? Oh, no, it's far more than that. Ever wonder if it's all a lie? Of course you have. Well, the new iWokeUp can detect if you are living in a virtual reality simulation like the Matrix. It's going to be huge. Who would dare be without one? In this fast-paced business world, you can't take the risk for even one minute the possibility that evil computers have taken over and are deceiving your senses with a stream of illusions. It's bad business practice. We can make the iWokeUp in lots of different neon colors, too. Holy shit, I'm going to be rich!

The collating was okay. I try to avoid talking to people, ever, because they just look at me weird. They're nice people, but very few are capable of higher-order reasoning. Hiro, however, dislikes working here just as much as I do and doesn't mind making people uncomfortable: he announced that his plans for this weekend were to get into a bar fight, and then I played along by interviewing him about various terrible injuries he'd suffered. Lum and the executives squirmed. Then we talked about the Big Lebowski for a while. I've had worse afternoons, to be sure.

010504 Here is another complaint about the behavior of people who are dumb: I mentioned yesterday how there is a pool of executives who are allowed to request my assistance on projects. Hiro and Lum are two employees who have the same job as I do, with their own pools of executives. Lum spends all of her damn time making flash animations of flamenco dancers to celebrate the birthdays of guys on the tech crew, so one of her executives has come over to request Hiro's and my help. Fine, fine, whatever, I get paid for this. But why must it be phrased in terms: "I have a project that involves collating envelopes and stuffing them with papers and business cards, if you're interested." I gave her a blank look. She continued. "Are you interested?" Look, you are not going to extract the words Yes, I am interested! from my mouth. I don't know what cod-business training manual you learned this bit from, but it is not going to increase my productivity if you get me to say that it's something I'm interested in rather than something I'm being compelled to do. I waited long enough to make the moment awkward and said, well, I can't say that I have a personal interest in the art of collation, but if you need help, that's what I'm here for. She told me to come by in a half hour. Maybe there are people who are interested in getting some collating experience, because they're tired of all this PowerPoint work and want to diversify, because all they ever wanted was a chance to collate and here's the shot they've been waiting for.

I will be moving this website soon, and I need some advice from the passive masses. My ISP, Enteract, was bought out by RCN Chicago, who are dedicated to taking good things and turning them into bad ones. Without warning, requests for my page have been getting redirected to www.rcnchicago.com/~heiden instead of the proper enteract address. There's a certain aesthetic to domain names, beyond the service they provide, and rcnchicago is a fucking stupid domain name. I had been planning for a while anyway to move my page over to my own domain, whatjailislike.com, along with the fan page for our old radio show of that name and Mike Saul's page. I don't know what I should name the directory for my page, though. Full sentence, no clear abbreviation. In terms of aesthetics and functionality, what works best?

www.whatjailislike.com/iwokeupinastrangeplace (eek)

Or something else? Comments from friends and strangers greatly appreciated.

And now, instead of writing more, I will go collate envelopes.

010503 It's not very easy to get me to do work. I face away from everyone, I have headphones on at all times, and I am a master of the imperious glare. Whenever given instructions, I recite them back to the requester in a voice that drips with disdain. I'm not trying to be mean, but it happens, you know, it's a self-defense mechanism, like porcupines and quills. There are twelve executives who are allowed to ask me for help on their projects, and seven of them gave up a long time ago; they just get on with things by themselves, and I never hear from them. The other five have all developed their own strategies for dealing with me. One communicates exclusively by email, even though she only sits two cublicles away. The second usually sends other people to ask me, only coming by herself once the project is almost done. The third is perky like a battering ram (and uses email when she isn't). The fourth shuffles up nervously and stands around for a while until I acknowledge him. I don't mind their tactics, you know, they've all got to find ways to deal with things. This is their life. But the fifth drives me nuts. She is a fifty year old woman (anomaly here) who sneaks up, drops off papers with instructions, and then runs away. I'll be typing, and then suddenly out of the corner of my eye I'll see a blur, feel a rush of air, turn and she's already gone. I've also caught her peeking out of her office, waiting for me to get up to go to the bathroom so she can sneak over and drop things off. Yes, it is true that you do not have to be a functional human being to be paid well by corporate America. In fact, it kind of counts against you.

I am leaving at 2:30 today, because a doctor is going to examine my ankle and say, mmm, leave that cast on for another couple weeks and see how it feels. Then he will charge me a fucking lot of money that I could have spent in milkshakes. O, sellouts. O, greedy industry.

A bunch of webpages, including Mike Saul's, had mention today of a prison name generator. For reasons that I can't explain, I never enter my own name into those; I always do the Utah Jazz. I have no idea why. All of the name generators that I've tried have given John Stockton a pretty dirty name. Greg Ostertag is Turd Knocker, which sounds about right.

010502, night I told my mother about the situation with my teeth and the pistachio assassins (010430), and the first words out of her mouth were about what a sweet old lady Dr Durland was. My mother and I have ongoing disagreements about the degree of latitude that being a sweet old lady gives perpetrators of crimes. For example, every month or so, she tries to get me to visit my great-grandmother with her. Every time I visit my great-grandmother, it's the same thing. She cooks food for us and nearly kills herself in the process. My mother takes great pains to remind her that I don't eat meat, so as we eat, my great-grandmother segues immediately, showing a non-sweet old lady-esque cunning mental acuity, into a lengthy succession of stories about people who I am supposedly related to who all killed themselves or died in horrible ways who didn't eat meat. Man, I don't care if you're old. That's not very nice.

010502 It's Free Ice Cream Day somewhere, but I don't where. I hope it's somewhere near you. I had a milkshake for lunch, but I paid for it. Free milkshakes? Oh, like sailors thought of mermaids.

More thoughts about sunshine: there is a certain tilt to daylight in the spring that makes me feel uneasy. It comes in around 9:30am or so. For most of my life, I was supposed to be in school at that time, and during college, I would have only been asleep for an hour or two at that point. Weekends, obviously, are no time to be up before noon. These days, I'm supposed to be at work by 8, so I hadn't seen the 9:30am sun in a long time; but as depression grows, I've been getting to work later and later each day, usually arriving somewhere around 10. Seeing the 9:30am sunlight is disconcerting, because it makes me feel exactly as it did when I saw it in grade school: the feeling that I am supposed to be somewhere (class) and am going to get yelled at when I arrive, that I'm not supposed to be seeing this moment of perfect, inspired harmony between the sun, the shadows and the trees.

I left work for a few hours today. I got tired of hanging around. A car with a loudspeaker was driving aimlessly down State Street. A man with a George W Bush mask was waving to people from the sunroof, and the speaker was rambling on, making puns on the names of oil executives that insinuated they were terrible people. ("You know what they call Marco? They call him 'Darko'! That's what they call him!") Slogans in favor of Lyndon LaRouche were painted on the sides of the car. Every year, Lyndon LaRouche runs for basically every open office in Chicago government. It gets tiresome after a while, and he never even comes close to winning, but there he goes again, always with cash and press coverage. Passers-by were laughing at the insouciance of the guy in the Bush mask. Can you imagine? The sheer audacity of it. He's our president, after all, and here this guy is, driving around, and...well, I went to the store, and I bought a nice shirt.

Faithful reader Kurt Tuohy wrote to complain that May 2nd's DilbertZone was copping material from me. I am forgiving. Refugee millionaire Nigerian farmers are like the Rat Pack in the 50s, or foreign film directors in the 60s, or Studio 54 employees in the 70s, or my friend Mike Saul since 1978: everybody wants to be seen hanging out with them. They equal automatic street cred. I am down with the refugee millionaire Nigerian farmers. That's just who I am. They like me. We go out carousing. It's great. If Scott Adams wants to hop the bandwagon, that's fine. No harm done. He's just going to miss the next big thing, though, which is those crazy babies with afros and diapers running around by the beach. That is a hot tip for the social climbers among the 766,000 people who read this webpage each day: crazy afro babies.

McSweeney's: oh, excellent. I have to imagine that anyone who likes my web page would find that entirely acceptable, to say nothing of the Kenny Rogers jams kicked out elsewhere. I should also mention that the 05.01.01 pictures on explodingdog were beautiful, so I'd recommend looking at those too. And then, go find a tree, and try to see the sky through its leaves. That should keep you busy. Web, you have been logged.

010501 It turns out that the last zany time reports memo that I designed actually did go out, and praise from across the nation has poured in for it, which is a shame, because now I can't enjoy it any more. One guy complained that I should have used Tom Bosley's 1976 film Gus instead. If there was any place in this office that could be defined as "out back", I would tell him to meet me there. I'll cut him. I got no qualms. No qualms whatsoever. Qualms are a distant memory. My qualms have been gone so long that I sent out a search party and they ain't never come back. That should give you some idea about whether I have qualms or not.

Somebody came to my webpage on a search for very very nude tribal girls. I guess they'd done some searches for tribal girls that were merely very nude, and probably got frustrated, damn it, you call these tribal girls very nude?!?, that may be nude, but that's hardly very nude!, maybe if I throw in another 'very', that'll filter out the sites that are only 'very' serious about nudity among tribal girls. Anyway, I have to assume that they did not find what they were looking for here. Sorry.

In conjunction with the last paragraph, I would now like to mention Manute Bol in the hope of making this webpage elgible for "nude Manute Bol" web searches. No, no, wait. "very very nude Manute Bol". Excellent. Sit back and watch my traffic go through the roof.

To update a project from a few weeks ago:

(news) The Sicilian mafia, now somewhat cowed by courageous popular protest after their phenomenal killing spree of the 1980s and early 1990s, is being eclipsed by what has happened over the last decade in the Balkans. For under the pressures of war, sanctions and economic collapse, south-eastern Europe has become one vast factory of criminality, turning over vast quantities of migrants, prostitutes, tobacco, guns and drugs, most of which are destined for the world's largest market - the European Union. The Balkan mafias have sunk their claws into every limb of the former Yugoslavia. Cigarettes produced in Macedonia's three tobacco enterprises are packaged illegally as perfect Marlboro replicas and distributed via Serbia to central Europe and, above all, via Kosovo and Montenegro into Italy. Behind every apparent nationalist crisis in the region lies a much seedier squabble between mafia bosses. Prostitutes from the former Soviet Union are channelled through almost all Balkan countries into the brothels of northern Europe, including the UK.

So the Sicilian mafia is on shaky legs - I mean, what's a criminal organization if it can be cowed by a bunch of people protesting them? Oh, no, don't wave a placard, indict us, anything but placards - but this Balkans mafia is a quick riser. I think it's safe at this point to advise that if your friend asks you what you're doing, and you say not much, and he says want to go fuck around with the Balkans mafia, you should say no. (1)

The new media guy left, which is a shame. He was a good guy. He sat next to me for a few months and had graduated to 'my dog' status by the time he left; certain parties at the crib are open only to those with 'my dog' status, for example, and the only membership duty is that when I do Lil Bow Wow covers and ask where my dogs at bark wit me now, my dogs respond with their location and a bark concurrent to my own. The new media guy was always very good about that. If you need to check whether you have 'my dog' status or wish to apply, email me and I'll check the list. Rodin, you are on it. Relax. Where you at, Rodin? Bark with me now.

Now my only contact with other people at work is the obscene memos that Hiro and I fire back and forth at each other.

(1) If, on the other hand, he suggests fucking around with the Sicilians, that's fine. Be sure to bring some posterboard.

010430 I am the kind of person who thinks that hyper diaper-clad babies with wild afros running around by the water at the beach are great, and if you're not, I'm not sure why you're reading this webpage, unless it was assigned for a class or something, but I'm warning you, babies with afros are pretty crucial to the thesis of what's going on here and will probably be on the test, so you'll want to keep your eye on them. That was my weekend, basically, aside from a lot of other stuff that I'll mention later or leave out for narrative purposes: man, three cheers for those crazy toddlers.

There is a very large lake by my apartment, and several miles of nice green parks with trees alongside it. I'd more or less forgotten why I had chosen to live where I do: the winter was brutal, my apartment having been robbed and all, and there is no good place to get a milkshake within walking distance, moron. I'd only gone out to the lake a couple times during the winter, when I was moody and wanted to go out on the pier and see nothing except water. In the sunshine, though, it was wonderful. There was nobody in the water except the crazy babies, because it wasn't warm enough to swim and there weren't any lifeguards on duty, but there were lots of people on the beach and in the park: the right amount of people, all of the people who'd been waiting for this all winter and were in it for the sunshine. Nice. I sat under a tree, wrote a bit, read a bit. A man gave me his business card and asked me out to dinner. I thought he was Christian, but actually he was gay, phew, was worried for a moment there. I kept the business card in case I wake up gay tomorrow. Probably not, but you never know.

By Sunday, it was getting to be more of a typical beach crowd. A war veteran was raving to a captive audience about various people whom he had told where to go and to fuck off. Every once in a while, he would turn to a woman standing behind him and remind her that he hated her friends. It was odd. But Sunday wasn't as good as Saturday, when I walked for miles along the beach (fool, you have a sprained ankle) with a video store in Evanston in mind. I stopped at a convenience store to find an odd snack for the walk. Yoghurt pretzels? Word up to that. No, said the clerk, they are stale. I wasn't sure why they were still on the shelves, but when the next three items I brought up for purchase were also waved off on account of staleness, I decided to go to the gas station convenience mart instead. I try to support local business, but there's only so much I can do. At the gas station, I bought two bags of pistachioes. They seemed to qualify as something odd to buy for a long walk. I liked them, so much that I stopped at the grocery store after the video store and bought a three pound sack of pistachioes to eat while watching videos. The walk was nice, except, fool, you have a sprained ankle; so I took the train back home.


Sprawled out on the couch, ankle elevated, I watched videos. I have a once-a-weekend quota of Going Out And Being Social, and I fulfilled that with a long night of carousing on Friday, so, man, I had some food, and some videos, and I was sorted. The cats were pleased. We all chose spots on the couch and I ate pistachioes. But! But, Dr Durland, she vexes me from beyond the grave - I'm only assuming that she's passed on, because she was quite old at the time - momentary satisfaction, doesn't she sound like a proper super-villain, and me herefore that much closer to a proper super-hero - nice woman, but the job she did on my teeth - she was a dentist, you see, and my mom's boss liked her, so that's where we went when I was twelve years old, which was when, pow, I got hit by a car - among the damages, my teeth were chipped, and once the other, more pressing injuries had been handled - her work was shoddy. I had some sense of that right away, but my mother didn't believe me. She was a nice old lady, posited my mother, and I was being mean. Later that week, my teeth began to fall apart. That was disturbing. My mother and I resumed the She's A Nice Old Lady vs I Need These To Eat, Mom argument, but this time, having my teeth in my hands provided valuable momentum for my side. Inexplicably, though, I was sent right back to Dr Durland. I don't think I ever did anything to make her mad. It was senility, not vengefulness, I think, that caused the entire thing; either way, I would up with real big front teeth after that. Length-wise they were fine, but she packed gobs of porcelain on the things, making for chubby teeth that peaked somewhere in their middle and had valleys on the bottom and top, where tiny bits of food were known to get stuck. Dentists over the years have talked shit about the teeth, but my mother's historical revisionism over the incident has no end, unlike my dental insurance, so the misshapen teeth have stayed. Until! Until, the pistachioes. I ate a lot of them, and my fingers were sore from prying them open, so I used my teeth to split the shells. It's easy - wedge your front teeth into the crack, bite slightly, pain-free and the nut is yours. It wasn't until the next morning that I realized...some of the old extra porcelain had gone with the shells. Now my teeth are all weird and I can't stop playing with them. O, tongue.

In news that is not teeth-related, I heard that Google finally put the old Dejanews Usenet archives online. I've read Usenet for several years now, but I couldn't remember if I'd ever actually posted to it. Turns out I did! (Under my original mcfish@ripco.com address - that's me quoted in purple.)

Back in the day.