This web page is the work of
Marc Heiden, 23 years old.
He lives in Chicago.

There is writing,
there are photographs,
and there is the rest of it.

Also, there are archives.
They are very crowded.

self-portrait, nude, with floating heads.

Reading this month:

My Movie Business
John Irving

A post-script to The Cider House Rules, for my purposes, though he writes about a few of his other books in translation to film as well. I just like John Irving a lot. I don't think I write like he does, and I don't even like the same authors (Dickens, et al) that he does. Most writers who labor over detail try my patience, but Irving's worlds are so perfectly constructed that I never think to question why this or that has to be present. Among great writers, I think, there are some who seem to have received their one or two (rarely more) masterpieces fully-formed straight from either God or outer space (Kesey), and there are others who give you the impression that you are reading them talking to you (Vonnegut), and some - like Irving - who just seem to know everything that's worth knowing about the craft of writing, and they get on with it. They rely not on divine inspiration but on working really hard and being determined to get it done well - and, in that sense, the act of writing seems like something very nice they are doing for you as much as the creation of, you know, art. The best thing about his books, for me, is feeling assured at the beginning that the story will not to go off the rails, get lazy, wander off in whimsy or take the easy way out. Characters will be true to themselves throughout; the rules will be followed and, when the necessary time comes, neatly broken.

Anyway, this book itself is fairly minor - it's double-spaced, for one thing, and a real John Irving book is never double-spaced. He writes about his sources for The Cider House Rules and, in a gentle version of William Goldman's style, his experiences with the film adaptations of his books. Interesting if you're a fan, but not a stand-alone sort of book.

The Cider House Rules
John Irving

I have read three John Irving books other than this one, and since I read each of them on a vacation, I held off reading "The Cider House Rules" until another vacation came along. It seemed like the sort of pattern that ought to be respected. ("The Imaginary Girlfriend", his very brief memoir, was the third; I read it on the first day that I tried to work after college, when the temp agency sent me to an office two hours away from where I was living at the time. I gave up an hour into the trip, late and depressed about the prospect of work, and I decided instead to install myself in a cafe, call the agency a few times and claim that I was lost until they lost interest. They seemed to feel bad for getting me lost, and there were no hard feelings.) I have grown weary of dodging plot details from the movie, though, and I figure that the holiday spirit and new employment pays suitable respect to the pattern.

The Compleat Chaucer: Now Revised For Additional Ye-Olde-ness
Geoffrey Chaucer

Still not quite ye-olde enough for my scholarly tastes. Has no one a real commitment to ye-oldness any more? Fuckers.

The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul
Douglas Adams

I tore right through almost everything Douglas Adams wrote in rapid sequence during my early teens. This one, for some reason, escaped my attention. I am tearing through it now, loving every moment. There's really no higher endorsement I can give it than to say it's Douglas Adams on top form:

In fact, a very similar phrase was invented to account for the sudden transition of wood, metal, plastic and conrete into an explosive condition, which was "nonlinear catastrophic structural exasperation", or to put it another way - as a junior cabinet member did on television the following night in a phrase which was to haunt him for the rest of his career - the check-in desk had just got "fundamentally fed up with being where it was."

Portnoy's Complaint
Phillip Roth

A virtuoso performance by the writer as anything else - the book is a breathless rant by the narrator, spanning the entire 270 pages. Ah, late twentieth-century Jews who have fallen away from religion and are mired in complex sexual neuroses and their mothers. Will they never learn? It's a pretty good book, but I felt uncomfortable reading it on the train. I suspect that everyone is reading over my shoulder, especially beautiful women, who think I am reading porn and are crossing me off their list. Wait! Let me explain the context! Ah, nuts.

The Haymarket Tragedy
Paul Avrich

(See 010606 about the Haymarket affair itself.) I've read a few short histories of the incident, but this is the thousand pound gorilla on the topic. Teen years reading (and re-reading) Kurt Vonnegut set me up with a permanent interest in fiercely populist labor history 1880-1930, and the Twain I read previously put me in the mood to read about that era. This is a great book, cleanly written and impeccably researched. Anarchism, far from the tepid rebellion-for-dummies of today, was really interesting in its prime as a philosophy and movement.

The Bible According to Mark Twain: Irreverent Writings on Eden, Heaven and the Flood
Mark Twain

Although this is a 160 pg book masquerading as a 360 pg one, it's still a nifty collection. The essays are drawn from several decades of Twain's life, but all of them share the idea of critically examining the Bible (if Adam and Eve had no concept of good and evil prior to eating the apple, how could they be punished for doing wrong, since they had no idea what wrong was?) and (particularly excellent) commonly-held notions about life in Heaven. All of essays tear the roof off the joint, as it were. Nice. The length is padded to absurd extremes by the imbecilic editors with fragments and other scraps that, while promising, don't really work out of their never-written context; and the editors include gobs and gobs of lunk-headed notes, some rather intrusive, including introductions to every piece that blithely give away many the major jokes. Avoid the intros, but if you've ever wanted to read some Twain other than the standards, this is good stuff.

Here is a well-rounded set of hyperlinks, each of which is updated with some regularity.

First, there are my peeps:

Girls, Cars and Surfing
Man Cutting Globe
Same Day. Different Rat.

And then, there are fine people from other places in the world:

The Boondocks
Cordelia's Kitchen
ego, incorporated.
Exploding Dog
Funny Paper
Neil Gaiman
Last Bus Anywhere
The Morning News
Naughty Secretary
the Onion
Paint a Vulgar Picture
Public Enemy
Thinking of Hesterman
This Modern World

Fuckin' A.

Listen to the author and friends:
Th' Good-Time Radio Archives!

Here are some more hyperlinks. They are useful for various reasons. First, there are less regularly updated pages belonging to others among my peeps:

Another Room
Deep Suburbia
Pave the Sun
Pelican Video
Ron Rodent
WEFT 90.1 FM

And then, there is a woefully incomplete set of informational resources:

Wes Anderson
Antarctica Jobs
Babelfish Translations
Tim Burton
Douglas Coupland
Eatonweb Portal
Tina Fey
FTP Explorer
LP Trixie Society
My New Technique Is Unstoppable
Second City
The Simpsons
Orson Welles

My wish list.
If you're so inclined.

I have no idea what you could possibly be expecting to find all the way down here.

011229 If I could send myself a message through time, exactly one year in the past, here is what I would say: "This would be a good year for that trip to Antarctica that you're always talking about." What a brutal year. I did seven things right. Seven! All year! Everything else, I screwed up. Seriously. I'm not going to list all seven things I did right, although I will say that one was setting a new high score in bowling and another was remembering to bring an umbrella with me when I left for class one day back in August. Also, I got to a bus stop once right as the bus was arriving. Those are 4-6 on the list.

Anyway, is there any clearer evidence that we are living in the future than those Listerine PocketPak breath strips? God damn.

The stage is designed in the image of the modern workplace. A CHARACTER sits at a computer terminal, moping. His CO-WORKER enters.

CO-WORKER: Why are you moping?
CHARACTER: I joined a fantasy Revolutionary War league, and I drafted Cornwallis really high. I figured he was an important general, so he might get me some points, but he just surrendered, and that's like twenty negative points.
CO-WORKER: You should have drafted that guy from The Patriot.
CHARACTER: Man, don't even talk to me about that fake-ass movie shit.
CO-WORKER: Fine. Have fun with your motherfucking surrendering-ass fantasy war team, motherfucker.

The CO-WORKER exits.

CHARACTER: I hate that guy.


That's an excerpt from an opera I wrote. I'm not going to sing it for you, so don't even ask.

011221 The kindness of strangers, again: I received a letter from my old credit card company, Chase Manhattan, who are not a very good credit card company but did provide the last burst of capital I needed to finish my college education. After working for a few months, I paid off the credit card and cancelled it with an immature but utterly satisfying burst of expletives over the phone. The account had been dead and gone for ten months, so I was surprised to hear from them. Inside the envelope was a check for 86 cents and a terse explanation that it was the disbursement for a settlement awarded in a lawsuit entitled "Mayamura vs. Chase Manhattan Bank USA, N.A." Evidently, Mayamura fucked Chase's shit up and scored 86 cents for me. So, in the only way I can, I would like to show my thanks by dedicating this update to Mayamura. I can buy most of a bottle of soda with this check, and you're damn skippy I will do just that.

In depositing the check unblemished, did I miss a golden opportunity to scrawl HA HA TAKE IT YOU FUCKERS in the 'Memo' section, or was my restraint tasteful?

In holy shit news, long-time readers of this webpage may remember the undertaking of an epic project a few months ago: THE CALENDAR OF ROCK. The idea behind the CALENDAR was to give classic rock stations viable themes for every month and major holiday, for as everyone knows, ZEPtember comes but once a year. A number of people helped us out with submissions and some of the more tricky entries (I am overdue in publishing a complete version), but I don't think any of us expected to be able to take down the great white whale of the calendar year: February. Seriously. What a linguistic cluster-fuck of a word. How could you possibly work classic rock into February? Ladies and gentlemen, courtesy of my friend Crawfie Ward, I give you:


Can you imagine an entire month of playlists based on Mary Chapin Carpenter? Holy shit. I don't work in an office where I have to listen to classic rock on my co-workers' desk radios, thank Mayamura.

011218 I want to clarify my position on the firing of pandas into outer space, as I worry that it may have been misinterpreted. Please allow me to explain:

I. I do not want to see all pandas fired into outer space, just one, and perhaps a second, to keep the first one company. I would like to keep a majority of pandas here on earth;
II. I do not mean to imply that the Chinese have vast stores of pandas, hidden and secret from the world, and they can afford to lose a few in the interest of astrophysics;
III. I think the panda(s) should be brought back alive;
IV. I think the panda(s) should be given a great deal of bamboo for the trip;
V. I realize that "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" was not a very good motion picture, and therefore I am not suggesting that a recreation of said motion picture be staged with an omnipotent space panda standing in for the omnipotent bald space woman;
VI. I realize that "2001: A Space Odyssey" was a very good space odyssey, and though it is not central to my position, I would like to suggest that replacing all of the astronauts in said space odyssey with pandas might be kind of funny;
VII. "What the fuck? All he ever talks about are animals, outer space and homeless guys."
VIII. Pandas have a lot of fur, and therefore the rocket should be fired away from the sun, not toward it, lest the panda get too warm;
IX. Have any experiments been done involving penguins in zero gravity, and the whole thing where they watch airplanes overhead and fall over? If not, why not? It's not as though there is a fucking penguin shortage;
X. Penguin, penguin, penguin, penguin, moose. Penguin;
XI. Certain motherfucking motherfuckers have motherfuckingly been fucking mothers, such as fathers;
XII. "Yes, but what ba-a-ands do you listen to?"
XIII. Pandas are big and strong, and though they are genial, if an alien should decide to fuck with the panda, I think the panda will be able to handle it;
XIV. Steps should be taken to ensure that no one from "Ranma" is sent up by mistake;
XV. Pandas can play basketball, I seen it on the teevee;
XVI. (news) A Beijing film director has asked Jenna Bush, daughter of US President George W. Bush, to star in an anti-terrorism movie, a Hong Kong newspaper reported. Director Long Zanxu has sent Jenna a letter offering her the part of heroine Nancy Lee in a 100-million-yuan (12.06-million-dollar) production called "Hero Defending Country", the South China Morning Post reported. Jenna, who is a university student in the US, has not yet replied. In the movie, Lee battles with terrorists on planes and trains in a bid to beat the bad guys and improve Sino-US relations. Long said the small budget restricted him from hiring Hollywood stars like action movie hero Harrison Ford. However, he believed the political nature of the film would suit Jenna Bush and hoped that she would accept a low-paid contract as she was not a movie star. "I intend to console the victims of this terrorist accident with my film," the Post quoted the letter to Bush as reading in English. "And if you, Jenna, the daughter of the USA President, could play the role in this film developed by China and America, how much would it set the hearts of the people aflame. "In the near future, billions of film fans will praise you for your excellent playing in our film after they speak highly of your father's heroic struggle," the letter added. Filming was due to begin in the spring of 2002 and would be done mainly in China, the report said. This is Long's second invitation for Jenna to star in one of his productions. Last year, he invited her to take part in a love drama;
XVII. My computer is pretty old. I need a new one. I was thinking I might get a desktop, because they are cheaper, and hang on to the laptop, which I'd just use for writing. But is it obscene to own and employ two computers? I don't mean to be obscene;
XVIII. What I am saying is, there could be some fantastic slapstick involving Jenna Bush getting the panda drunk. That wouldn't fly in Hollywood, but the Hong Kong film industry is much better at that sort of thing, e.g. "Drunken Master 2";
XIX. I don't have any money, anyway;
XX. Bears 46, Patriots 10;
XXI. My New Year's resolution this year, now drawing to a close, was to earn power-ups and dodge spinning blades. I am not sure that I succeeded;
XXII. One of my friends in New York recognized me on "Judge Mathis"! Great;
XXIII. Is it sexy that I know Roman numerals so well? Love me;
XXIV. Wednesday nights are pretty good for bowling. Let me know if you want to come. I'm not positive if we're going this week, though, because a bunch of people are going to "Lord of the Rings";
XXV. Quoth the Burger King announcer: "Arrrrwen, the elf!"
XXVI. (news) Gordon Watson, a 50-year-old library employee in Vancouver, British Columbia, is among those fans who feel that Peter Jackson's movie - the first in a trilogy - has commercialized the story and betrayed Tolkien's spirit. "I believe Tolkien's text is as good a story as has ever been told,'' said Watson. "I agree that it's necessary to remove sections from it, but I don't think it's necessary to change some of the underlying themes.'' Tolkien devotees - even those like Watson who haven't seen the movie - can reel off a list of differences between the books and the film, from changes in the story's structure to the elimination of scenes and characters. Purists are most vocal about changes to the character Arwen, who in the first book does little more than sit at her father's side during a banquet. She is absent in the second book, returning only in the third book and appendices. In the movie, Arwen helps protect protagonist Frodo Baggins from spirit-warriors who are searching for him and the magical ring he carries. That's too much for Watson, who accuses Jackson of creating a "warrior princess" to appeal to female moviegoers at the expense of the story. "I'm very uncomfortable with the idea that she should be rescuing Frodo at the ford,'' Watson said. "It removes Frodo's heroic stature in the film where he's essentially facing down the Black Riders single-handed. It distracts from Frodo's evolution as a character";
XXVII. Quoth the Burger King announcer: "Fro-do, the hobbit!"
XXVIII. It sounds like a certain 50 year-old librarian and fantasy novel enthusiast is a little sensitive on the topic of warrior princesses;
XXIX. Quoth the Burger King announcer: "Gor-don Wat-son, the librarian!"
XXX. Comic book fans will want to check out the recent entry in Neil Gaiman's journal, wherein the normally polite and reserved genius lets loose and takes Todd McFarlane's punk ass to the house;
XXXI. Pandas are generally given good names, such as Ling-Ling, which compares favorably to Al Bean and Buzz Aldrin, I think;
XXXII. J.G. Ballard once wrote that it is entirely possible the only man from the twentieth century who will still be remembered 1000 years from now is Neil Armstrong;
XXXIII. Well, why not a panda;
XXXIV. The Chinese need something to keep them occupied and not making more babies. They'd be the first ones to tell you that;
XXXV. We were standing around in the lobby of a Hawaiian bar, critiquing the internal design of pandas (seriously flawed), but the bar was very crowded, so we left;
XXXVI. Bears 27, Steelers 24;
XXXVII. Space panda or astro panda? I'm not sure;
XXXVIII. Enough with these fucking communications satellites, and to hell with Anytime Minutes. The astro panda poops on communication satellites. Mischievous astro panda! Bamboo for you;
XXXIX. Quoth the Burger King announcer: "Ling-Ling, the astro panda!"

I hope that clarifies my position.

011215 I wanted a cookie, and there were only five minutes left until the store with no minimum charge closed, so I left my apartment and I ran, free, unbound, perfect in form and effortless in speed, alive in the cold air and the moonlight. Golden boy! Everyone I passed looked at me as though I wasn't wearing any pants.

From the outer space editorial desk: will China - which recently sent a monkey, dog, rabbit and snail into space - be sending up a panda any time soon? I think I am speaking for more than myself when I say that I'd like to see a panda sent into outer space.

Here are some more stories about homeless guys:

1. I am leaving the Rock 'n Roll McDonalds in downtown Chicago. I bought some sunflower seeds across the street for lunch, and I needed somewhere to sit and read while them. For some reason, I never work in buildings that have cafeterias. As I leave, trying to figure out where my office is from there, a homeless man asks me if I am an honest man. In all honesty, I am not an honest man. I tell nothing but lies, but they are sweet lies. Still, I think that he is looking for a specific answer here, so I shrug and say that I am. He bets me a dollar that by looking at my coat and my shoes, he can tell me how many children my father had. I have never met my father, so I am curious, but I have no way of confirming whether he's right, and the homeless guy isn't about to start giving it up for free. Anyway, I don't have a dollar.
2. I am one block away from work. A homeless man offers to shine my shoes. He explains that he doesn't have his shoe-shine kit with him right now, but he's pretty sure he could do a good job anyway. I am wearing my basketball shoes, which I bought because they were cheap, have no visible logo and were the only ones available in size 14, so they aren't really the type of shoes that you shine. I tell the homeless guy that. He assures me that he can do wonders, and he makes me guess how old his shoes are. When they turn out to be much older than my guess, they are held up as evidence of his shoe-shining prowess. I try to express my sincere belief in his abilities, but, as usual, I don't have a dollar. The homeless man says that it's okay and maybe we'll have dinner some time. I say, sure, why not.
3. I am approaching the turnstile at the train station, ready to pay my fare with a fully-charged transit card. A homeless man asks if I will give him three dollars. He is more ambitious than other homeless people, and for that I respect him. Still, I do not have three dollars. He offers me a mixtape in exchange, and assures me that it's really good. I shrug. He offers to give what he refers to as his favorite quarter if I will pay his fare to board the train. I am willing. I have not yet spent the quarter.

011209 I read the news every day, searching far and wide for stories that are overlooked or underserved by the mainstream media and require the attention of a news outlet such as this one. I read a lot of stories, good and bad. Most are filed away for reference, and a select few are used on this web page. Every once in a while, though, a story comes along that chills me to the bone. It is my responsibility as a reporter to face these grim incidents with objectivity and clarity. This, unfortunately, is one of those times. Material contained in update may not be suitable for younger readers. Parents, please be advised. (1)


Monday, December 3 was a day like any other in the primate house at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, Illinois. Gorillas trumbled, orangutans lolled, bonobos wanked -- and chimps swung, leaped, played their part in the grand pageant of life. There were six chimpanzees in that primate house: two males, M'Chawi and Keo, and four females, Donna, June, Vicky and Kibali. Most of them were older apes, save M'Chawi and Kibali, who were both in the prime of their lives. M'Chawi was the resident alpha male. He lived above the rim, as it were. On that morning, like so many others, any lucky visitors in the early morning would have been delighted by the sight of the magnificent M'Chawi on the upper monkey bars.

None of those visitors could know, though, the secrets that lay within that primate house. M'Chawi's was not a democratic alpha male-ship. From the moment he arrived, he wanted to be the alpha male, and he got his wish...but at what cost? What enemies did he make along the way? Not the females, to be sure. They enjoyed his hot monkey (attention). But questions lingered...

On December 5, 2001, readers of the Chicago Sun-Times received sad news in their morning paper. I was one of those readers. It was not my morning paper; it was someone else's morning paper, and it probably passed through many hands before arriving in mine. It was my afternoon paper. Giving nary a fuck about the other stories, I headed straight for the monkey news. And what I found there shocked me.

(news) M'Chawi, a middle-aged male chimpanzee born at Lincoln Park Zoo in 1978, has died. The chimp collapsed about 11:15 a.m. Monday, during a routine morning with the exhibit's four females and the other male. "It certainly was a shock,'' said Lincoln Park Zoo primate curator Kristen Lukas.

My first reaction to the news was self-centered. That monkey could have been me, I thought. He was born in 1978. So was I. Twenty-three years old? So young...

The 23-year-old, 240-pound chimp had seemed in good health, she said. His family history suggests he might have had a heart attack. Chimps can live into their 40s in captivity, but M'Chawi already outlived his father, Sam, who died at age 19, and his mother, Shauri Jet, who died of cardiac complications when she was 21, zoo spokeswoman Kelly McGrath said.

Surprising as the death was, the zoo already seemed to have a pat explanation in place. Heart problems. Sam, gone at 19. Good old Sam. But something didn't add up. My grandfather has serious heart problems and I've never had any. Maybe that's what bothered me. Maybe the pieces just fit too easily together. Either way, I didn't buy that an otherwise healthy chimp, an alpha male at that, would suddenly drop dead. You don't fight your way to the top with a ticker that's about to blow. There had to be something else.

I read a little further...and suddenly, it all came back to me.

The chimps were together in the Great Ape House, when M'Chawi, on the upper level, "appeared to get still and got weak'' and collapsed, Lukas said. The other chimps "went up to him and touched him, almost like they were expecting a response.''

M'Chawi had fathered several offspring, but none is now at Lincoln Park.

The remaining male chimp at Lincoln Park, named Keo, is 44.

Keo. Oh, shit. Keo.

Flash back to November 5, 2001:

(news) Keo, the extroverted, swaggering showoff chimpanzee at Lincoln Park Zoo who loved to hoot and scream as he marched in front of the public with his shoulder-rolling, bowlegged gait, has changed. Once loud, he's quiet. Once extravagant, he's deferential. The 43-year-old even looks smaller than he was just four months ago. In short, Keo is now behaving more like a chimp in the wild.

It's a simple numbers game. Before M'Chawi could take over at the top, someone had to move down and make room. Keo was that someone.

That was precisely the zoo's goal when keepers decided to combine their two chimpanzee groups into one. M'Chawi, a big, virile 23-year-old male, and two females, Donna, 36, and June, 34, joined Keo and two other females, Vicky, 37, and her daughter Kibali, 21, in July. The move was difficult for the keepers, who watched uneasily as M'Chawi bloodied Keo to establish his dominance. But the resulting social structure, now quite peaceful, provides zoo visitors with a better picture of how chimps interact under natural conditions.

It isn't easy to let go of alpha status. Clearly, Keo liked the limelight. Before M'Chawi arrived, he was alpha with a capital 'A'. Maybe it went to his head a little bit. A little too much hooting, a little too much shoulder-rolling. Being dethroned had to sting. But how much?

The question wasn't whether they would fight, but rather how badly Keo, a relative shrimp at 135 pounds, would be hurt by M'Chawi, in the prime of his life at a very fit 260 pounds. "This is how chimps do it in the wild," Lukas said. "The competing males fight to the point of drawing blood, but once dominance is established--and usually before someone is killed--peace is made and a sort of social equilibrium takes hold for the entire group."

On July 19, a Thursday, they shut down the ape house, separated Keo and M'Chawi from the females and placed the two males together. "We expected the worst," Lukas said, "and at first there was a little chasing and nipping, but by early afternoon, Keo was grooming M'Chawi's face with his lips." The two seemed content and peaceful together until the following Sunday, when, during feeding time, M'Chawi attacked Keo, biting him in the butt and on a forearm with his razor-sharp canine teeth. "There are a lot of blood vessels in the rump area, so there was a lot of blood," Barbiers said, "but the injuries weren't serious."

M'Chawi bit Keo in the ass? A lot of blood vessels in the rump area, indeed. Anyone who's ever had a big, red, inflammed monkey butt knows that it's fun to show off -- but once your ass takes a bite, it's never quite the same. How are you going to show off a butt with teeth marks? M'Chawi had crossed a line, definitely. And Keo had to be pissed. But Keo was no dummy. He had to have known there was nothing he could do against the larger, stronger ape. Keo got a raw deal, but it was all part of the game. In "Chinatown", Jake can't touch the real bad guys. And in the primate house...

The move was difficult for the keepers, who watched uneasily as M'Chawi bloodied Keo to establish his dominance. But the resulting social structure, now quite peaceful, provides zoo visitors with a better picture of how chimps interact under natural conditions.

Everything, justice included, takes a backseat to the almighty How Chimps Interact Under Natural Conditions. Chimp bit you in the ass? Sorry, pal. Got to look like natural conditions. And nature says he gets away with it.

"What we see is M'Chawi sometimes slaps others on the back hard just to show that he is boss. Then, in the next few minutes or hour, he'll make up by hugging, to show nobody is angry anymore." Now the other five chimps show their obeisance to M'Chawi daily. The four females literally bow and scrape before him, seeking his approval before they eat or seek a favor from him.

M'Chawi knew how to smile for the cameras, but he had a dark side, all right. He liked to be worshipped. Power went to his head. The future belonged to that monkey. Dig a little further, and check out this nugget:

The merger was also the first step in bringing more attention to the zoo's chimps, which have always had a sort of second-banana status to its world-famous gorilla collection. Next year the chimpanzees will be moved to another zoo so the Great Ape House can be torn down to make way for a much bigger facility. When the new ape house opens in 2005, the zoo believes its chimps may be just as big a draw as the gorillas.

M'Chawi wasn't satisfied with being the alpha male of the chimp section. He wanted it all. He wanted to take his act on the road, and then he wanted to make his triumphant return in 2005, free of competition, and take a shot at the gorillas. M'Chawi wanted to be the number one monkey. All the pieces were in place...

But he forgot about something.

Keo is now much more subdued. He looks like he has shrunk, since his hair now mostly lies flat. "Keo spends a lot of time observing everything the other chimps are doing. You almost see him thinking about how he fits in," Ross said.

Fuck's sake! Who are they talking about there? A monkey...or Iago? Yeah, Keo did some thinking, all right. He did a lot of thinking.

Now, flash forward to the present:

The chimps were together in the Great Ape House, when M'Chawi, on the upper level, "appeared to get still and got weak'' and collapsed, Lukas said. The other chimps "went up to him and touched him, almost like they were expecting a response.''

Donna may have been expecting a response. Vicky and Kibali, too. But not Keo. He knew exactly what happened. Keo knew that it was a little something called murder. He had the motive. He had the smarts. And now, he had what he wanted.

"I think he's probably surprised by all the attention he's getting from the females,'' Lukas said, noting that "when you're not the alpha male,'' you don't get noticed as much. Now, Keo might be promoted.''

So, there you have it. A chimpanzee is dead. Another chimpanzee has what he wanted: one more shot at the big time. The zookeepers were oblivious, thrown off by the 'heart attack' ruse. Keo committed the perfect murder. Oh, sure, M'Chawi was a first-rate bastard. But did he deserve to be murdered in cold blood? Jesus, I don't know. Is the primate house a better place now that M'Chawi's tyranny has come to an end? Does that justify what Keo did? I ache to blow the lid off this whole sordid mess and tell the zookeepers what really happened on December 3rd, but that won't change anything. In the end, I, too, am bound by the damned Natural Conditions rule. My hands are tied.

But I'll tell you what I will do. I will visit the Lincoln Park Zoo this winter. You can come with me, if you want. I will head to the primate house, and I will go to where the chimpanzees are. I will find Keo strutting his stuff, and I will lock eyes with him through the glass. I want him to know that I know what he did. One guy didn't fall for it. No winning streak lasts forever, Keo. And everybody pays up some time.

(1) There are parents reading this webpage? What the fuck?

011205 Some people have been wondering why I haven't written about China's recently announced plans to land a man, presumably a China man, on the moon in 2005. To these people, I say: I don't know. I must have been doing something else.

(news) BEIJING - China is forging ahead with a mission to send a man to the moon as it prepares for manned space flights by 2005, state media reported on Friday. The moon mission is part of Beijing's ambitious plans build a space industry, the China Daily quoted Sun Laiyan, vice director of the China National Space Administration, as saying. A leading Chinese scientist said Beijing, which sent a monkey, a dog, a rabbit and snails into orbit in January aboard its second unmanned "Shenzhou" spacecraft, needed further unmanned flights before it could send an astronaut into space.

God damn, that is the craftiest shit I have heard in a long time. A monkey, dog, rabbit and snails all in the same spaceship? Just imagine the questions that will be answered when the results of that mission become public. Did the monkey pet the dog? Did the rabbit and the snails band together against the monkey? What the fuck happened up there, Sun Laiyan? Why won't you talk about Shenzhou II? Holy shit. As an expert on monkeys, outer space and wily schemes - the world's foremost authority on that particular cross-indexing, some say - if I had to hazard a guess, I would guess that the snails were implanted with miniaturized brains from the Khans, Genghis and Kublai and some of the other Khans that real fans are into, and it was the monkey's job to stow the snails away on the moon, where they will lie in wait for people to arrive. (They can hide from radiation in their shells until they become accustomed to it.) Before they left, the barbarian snails probably beat the crap out of the rabbit and took it with them to the moon, where they impaled it on the American flag at Tranquility Base with a poorly-translated message about the fighter plane collision from earlier this year as an ominous gesture. Meanwhile, the dog chased its own tail. Everyone sends dogs into space. The Chinese didn't want to be rude.

That's just a guess, of course. But, let's be honest, I'm right.

"For mankind in the 21st century, space applications will become as essential as electricity and oil in the 19th century," scientist Liang told the China Daily. "We are just in the first year of the new century and my prophecy will come true," he said.

Scientist Liang does not lack for confidence. And that's good. You need confidence in the 21st century. I can only assume that the Chinese character for "tearing open (scientist Liang's) shirt and beating (scientist Liang's) chest" proved too difficult to translate, so they left it out, idiomatic meanings being what they are.

I have many friends who are scientists, and I heartily recommend that they refer to their work as prophecies. I have to imagine it's a morale booster. Try it. I'm warning you, though, my prophecy will come true.

Here is something useful: Jenny, a correspondent in Westmont, sent a link to an MP3 of David Sedaris reading his essay "You Can't Kill The Rooster", which is definitely the essay I would most like to hear him read. Nice. How useful is the world wide web? Fucking useful, I'd say.

Also, if anyone needs an MP3 of the Super Bowl Shuffle, let me know. I will take care of that.

(news) This touring show, which is headed to Radio City Music Hall after its Toronto date this week, is the work of two pop culture mavens dedicated to the "pure" Scooby. Which means no Vincent Price, no Monkees-esque love songs, no post-modern sneering about Shaggy being on drugs, and no -- shudder! -- Scrappy Doo (the wisecracking other dog of the cartoon's later years). What you're getting is pure vintage Saturday morning stage cartoon -- Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby chasing ghosts with their van The Mystery Machine. "The producers knew me through Mark (McKinney) and the Kids when I worked on that show (Kids In The Hall)," says Millan. "They wanted someone to translate an extraordinarily famous cartoon into theatre. "Then it was, 'Who'd you like to work with on the script?' I said Mark, who's got a few comedy ideas of his own. They're old and hackneyed but they're useful."

Adds McKinney, blithely: "It's good for the children to be reminded what the basic building blocks of French farce are."

It certainly is.

011204 I will stop throwing my socks at the TV during Buy To Support America commercials just as soon as I see a few fucking Hire To Support America ones.

It wasn't easy, but I managed to squeeze a fourth day out of last week's job. They even went so far as to cut my paycheck on Thursday, assuming that I'd be done that day. The project was large enough that I'd have to have been working pretty continuously since I arrived to have finished it in three days, and obviously I hadn't been, so I wasn't being entirely shifty, just mostly; I couldn't tell whether there was any resentment or annoyance at my continued presence, but lack of sleep and an early-morning binge on the free soda gave my paranoia what it needed to turn the whole experience into yet another Vietnam. In any event, I was paid for it, so that was nice. And now I'm unemployed again.

Here is an observation: there are plenty of California-based venture capital firms in San Francisco, Palo Alto and Menlo Park, but after four days of research, I did not find a single one in Compton. Perhaps a major part of why they say pimping ain't easy is the simple fact that pimps do not have access to the startup cash they need to establish a solid economic foundation for their bidness.

If you happen to know any pimps, please ask them about that for me.

Having free time and a high-speed web connection at work, I put together an wish list. I've never really pimped my webpage like this before, but I've seen other webpages do it, and anyway I've only ever ordered an Orson Welles book and a Monkees DVD from Amazon and I was getting kind of tired of the bizarre recommendations their system was giving me. So, if you would like to send me prizes, you can just go there, and pick which one you think I should have, and click! It's never been easier. Fuckin' e-commerce. Stay off my lawn.

I have been meaning to pass this page along since it was sent to me a couple weeks ago by Arden, a correspondent in Urbana: an index of voice actors from The Transformers. I've found that sort of thing worthy of study ever since the earth-shattering day in high school when I discovered that Grandpa Huxtable from The Cosby Show did like half the voices on Thundercats. And once I realized the degree to which Casey Kasem had managed to infiltrate my pre-adolescent consciousness through his unholy pact with Hanna Barbera, I knew that vigilance must be kept.

So, George Harrison died. I'm not even going to try to articulate what the Beatles mean to me, because, come on, it's just a webpage. But I'm still fairly miserable about it. George wrote "Something", which is what I've always thought love wound sound like if I ever fell in love, and I heard a drunk man doing a sentimental karaoke version on Saturday night, which didn't bother me at all; George also wrote the All Things Must Pass album, which is fucking magnificent, and that was played during intermissions at the ImprovOlympic, which was a nice touch. It's odd, the things that make you feel your age: not birthdays, not graduations or jobs or owning things, but unscheduled events over which you have no control, like hearing about an old friend's wedding through the grapevine, or the passing of a Beatle. In a small sense, every Beatle fan is now a relic from a bygone era when there were three of them. I feel older, and I miss knowing that George Harrison was out there. But, as I understood it, the message was always to mourn briefly and live deeply...

Back in the day.