I woke up in a strange place

By Marc Heiden, since 1997.
See also: a novel about a monkey.

August 9, 2010

I had a strangely intense conversation today when I called to cancel the Citibank Identity Monitoring service — initially enrolled by accident, but then continued out of curiosity to see if I would experience any semblance of the satisfied, contemplative feeling the stock photo people always seem to have. I signed up last Thursday, but could not cancel until today, because I was told that I had to wait 72 hours after registering to un-register; their system supposedly does not have new registrants' information for that long, until some old fellow named Milt brings it around (probably because if they use the Internet instead then corporate will force Milt to retire, and nobody wants to see him go, especially since it sounds like his daughter never visits and work is about all he has going for him. Wait, where the fuck is this story going? It has been hijacked by Milt's troubles, this poignant saga which I only invented for sarcastic purposes.)

(Right. Well, I brought Milt into this world, and I can take him out again if he's distracting you. Now Milt has gone to live with a nice farm family, where he plays in the field all day long, but it is too far away for you to visit.)

Happy logs.

Now you are only concerned with me, and not Milt.

I want to get back to the story of this intense phone call. You could tell this was serious business, because only one button separated you from speaking to an operator, and there was no hold time. A middle-aged lady answered, sounding very much like a woman who worked in the principal's office at school, and, somewhat brightly at first with an undertone of disappointment, asked why I wanted to cancel. I expected a few sales pitches and offers to stay on at a reduced rate, much like I received when I signed up for freecreditreport.com for the sole purpose of blaming my cancellation on that fucking band, but she went a different way.

"You realize you're giving up instant credit alerts," she said, proceeding to rattle off a long list of other features, in ascending order of intensity and critical importance to my well-being.

"Yes, I do," I said.

There was a long pause, and then she said, "Good luck to you," in a tone of disgust and unambiguous forecast of my imminent demise; the moment at which the woman in the principal's office, who has known you since you were a little one, long before you began smoking crack at recess, has finally given up on you.

"Uh, thanks," I said, a bit too surprised to hang up. There was an even longer pause, during which I wondered if the phone call was over. Finally, she spoke.

"Is there anything else?" she said, still disgusted. (I've soiled myself, she implies.)

"No," I said. "So I'm cancelled, then."

"Yes," she said, and hung up.

I was bewildered, and then went on with my day.

We are renewing efforts to fix the comments — or, more accurately, I am renewing my sweet-talk toward Kurt, and Kurt is renewing his efforts to fix them. Thank you, Kurt.

June 2, 2005

The timing of my post about the rhetorical beating our nation is receiving was uncanny. I wrote it yesterday afternoon; last night, the ineffectual, inept administration decided to unleash its most fearsome, snarling beast, Cheney, and send him into attack mode. As political insiders know, Cheney is kept in a cage all day and fed raw steaks with methamphetamines while rude men jab him with poles until he is frothing with rage, except on weekends, when he has to fight wild boars for his dinner. So this is apparently the best guy we have to fire a rhetorical volley at North Korea in retaliation for their brutal use of the word "balderdash". Well, the administration opened the cage, and here's what happened:

"Kim Jong Il is one of the world's more irresponsible leaders..."

"Cheney is hated as the most cruel monster and bloodthirsty beast,
as he has drenched various parts of the world in blood."


They absolutely dismantled the bastard. And then, as poor Japan backed away, North Korea brutalized it with a series of rapid-fire snide expressions, finishing the battle with a devastating "by hook or by crook" manuever.

We're done. I hate to be pessimistic, but our nation simply does not have the capability to fight this rhetorical war, and I have moved on from a "eventually they'll give me a call and I'll single-handedly lead us to rhetorical victory" scenario to "I'll have to lead a ragged band of survivors in a post-self-esteem-apocalyptic world to a series of small-scale guerilla rhetorical victories and we'll go from there", which in some ways may be even more compelling. (From the sound of it - 'balderdash', 'by hook or by crook', etc - Grand Moff Tarkin may be the one who is teaching them English, which would explain a lot, actually.)

I know it's sort of passe to talk about web searches that show up in your server stats, but I have to brag about being the only result for "wookie bamboozlement". That's right up there with my bowling trophies in terms of lifetime achievements.

May 23, 2005

I know that a lot of people are pissed off because I haven't covered the walking panda story yet. What you have to understand is that I am battling a number of firmly entrenched financial interests in my ongoing crusade to expose the panda porn once and for all, and while nothing escapes my notice, it doesn't necessarily get written up right away, because there is a strategy at work here. I don't have the kind of resources that the panda sex industry does. In all honesty, I did mean to cover this last week, but then I got side-tracked with the Oregon Trail thing. I'm here now, though, and here it is:

TOKYO (AFP) A lesser panda is proving a hit at a zoo near Tokyo as it can stand on two legs like a human being for about 10 seconds, an unusual feat for the species, zoo officials said. The two-year-old male panda named Futa stands up several times a day when "it sees something interesting", said Hiroyuki Asano, an official of Chiba Zoological Park, southeast of the capital. "We have kept lesser pandas for nearly 20 years at this zoo, but I have not seen one like Futa, which can stand for such a long time," Asano said. "Futa is like an idol to his fans."

I remain doubtful that even a panda can make walking upright "cool", but if these fans really are driven to imitate their idol, it can't be a bad thing. Seriously, though, what does a lesser panda have to do to stop being lesser? The poor bastard is walking upright for ten whole seconds and has legions of devoted fans, and he's still a lesser panda. At some point, Futa has to begin to wonder why he even bothers.

The furry, seven-kilogramme (15 pound) animal, whose natural habitat are the mountains of China and the Himalayas, was born in another zoo in central Japan. Unlike the black-and-white giant panda, the lesser panda has brown fur with a stripe on its tail. Futa, fed fruits and bamboo every day, has a female mate, and the zoo hopes they will have a baby panda in the near future.


FUTA: Look! I'm walking!
ZOOKEEPER: That's great. We hope you will walk over to the female panda's vagina.
FUTA: But see how the crowds enjoy my walking!
ZOOKEEPER: You know what they would really enjoy? Two pandas fucking.
FUTA: But this is nearly unprecedented among my species!
ZOOKEEPER: We must have more panda babies. All else is irrelevant.

Apparently - and I'm not making this up - Futa has a grandfather named Ron who is also good at walking upright. Way to go, Ron. But nothing in the world matters less than a panda who's too old to make more babies.

Every once in a while, I feel a responsibility to put something on here that absolutely nobody other than myself is going to find amusing. This photo gallery is fairly old - it's from my second day in Russia, when I was scraping the bottom of the barrel for things to do by myself in Vladivostok on a rainy day. There was a museum built in mounds overlooking the bay with decommissioned chain guns and missiles sitting around, and I don't even know if I was supposed to be walking around up there, and I guess technically I don't even know if any of them were actually decommissioned, but eventually I wandered into a cave-like museum dedicated to the Russians who had, throughout history, kept Asians out of this particular area. And, as it so often does, a certain madness set in, and I started trying to photograph the little army men in the museum's many dioramas in dramatic ways. The lighting was very bad (I believe there were proles on treadmills at the power station), but I did my best, and I really do think the last few are nice. I could make this one available as a print. It's even more pleasant at three times the size.

I still haven't found a satisfactory program for making simple, unobtrusive photo albums. I had wrangled Picasa to behave more or less as I wanted it to, but installing the otherwise excellent Picasa 2 replaced my modifications with the butt-ugly defaults. Jesus! I bore even myself with this technical discourse. My love affair with Gmail ended abruptly today when I received a "Lockdown in Sector 4!" message that kept me out of my email all day, which I found stressful. (Fuck your sci-fi whimsy! I could be missing important messages from Nigerian bank executives! The Nigerians prize me for my turn-around time.) Admittedly, I got a lot of work done, but it's not an experience I'd like to repeat. Access to my account was restored, unannounced, a few hours later. A cursory web search revealed a variety of factors that cause Gmail accounts to get locked down, but I don't know which one did me in. If someone tried to send me a monkey, please let me know and I will give you an alternate email address. Apparently it's against the Terms of Use to send live animals as attachments. Who reads those things?

May 11, 2005

One of my colleagues reported that he'd done a Google search for the terms 'Heiden' and 'monkey' and come up with 137 hits from this web-page. In my defense, I can only suggest that a more accurate count might have included the names of individual kinds of monkeys (and apes), such as gibbons or chimps or gorillas. Really, though, the clear implication is that I've been shockingly derelict in my duties as a practicioner of serious fucking journalism and I need to focus.

(news) Congo the chimpanzee led a brief artistic career and enjoyed little critical success, despite the patronage of his contemporary and fellow abstract painter, Pablo Picasso. But nearly half a century after Congo's artistic career, some of his paintings are going on sale at a prestigious London auction house alongside works by Andy Warhol and Renoir.

Three tempera on paper works — brightly colored compositions of bold brushstrokes — will be featured as a single lot in the sale of Modern and Contemporary Art at Bonhams on June 20, the auctioneer said Wednesday. The lot estimate is between $1,130-$1,500. Bonhams said it believed the auction is a first.

"I would sincerely doubt that chimpanzee art has ever been auctioned before," said Howard Rutkowski, the auction house's director of modern and contemporary art. "I don't think anybody else has been crazy enough to do this. I'm sure other auction houses think this is completely mad."

Congo, who was born in 1954, produced some 400 drawings and paintings between the ages of 2 and 4. It was not immediately known if he was still alive, a Bonhams spokeswoman said. In 1957, animal behaviorist Desmond Morris organized an exhibition of chimpanzee art at London's Institute of Contemporary Arts, including works by Congo. Critics reacted with a mixture of scorn and skepticism, but Picasso is recorded as having owned a painting by Congo, Bonhams said.

In all likelihood, given the average lifespan of a chimpanzee, Congo has joined Van Gogh, Modigliani and various other dead guys in the ranks of great artists who were unappreciated in their own lifetime. (And lest you think these are just more of my knee-jerk partisan pro-monkey politics, I suggest you check out some of Congo's work. It's really good!) Do you even realize how these artists are sitting around in the afterlife trashing us? The walls of heaven's coffee shops ring with Van Gogh's "She never loved me" and Modigliani's "It's not like tuberculosis medicine would have been that expensive" and Congo's "Pick my back" and Van Gogh's "Oh, yeah, they all love Starry Night *now*" and Modigliani's "I was doing that Africa stuff decades before Picasso" and Congo's "Are you going to finish that banana?"

I have long advocated giving every monkey in the world a bucket of paint. Worst case scenario, we end up with a bunch of blue and red monkeys looking sheepish. I say this to the leaders of the world: you're botching the job, let me take over for a while.

I really want those paintings, but I am well aware that heartless manipulators with large checkbooks will drive up the bidding. I actually would pay a thousand dollars for three good paintings by a famous monkey. Probably you knew that, though. I would frame them, and next to them I would frame my credit card statement, which would read 'PAINTINGS BY FAMOUS MONKEY'.


I was turned down for the lycopene study because Dr. Wu measured me at 6 feet tall, which is a full three inches shorter than I actually am, according to the physical I had before I left for Japan in 2003. My weight is normal for my actual height, but Dr. Wu did manage to weigh me correctly, so my actual weight at my non-actual height would make me kind of overweight and thereby disqualified for the study group. Now, I'm not saying that Dr. Wu is a jabbering incompetent lunatic but I do find it odd that I would lose three inches of height during a period of time when all I did was go to Japan and talk to Japanese people. If Japan has actually found a way to make visitors shorter, then I believe a number of health alerts are called for, as well as a motherfucking APB on that traitorous bastard Rick Moranis. The more plausible explanation, of course, is that Dr. Wu blew it, so the woman in charge of the study said I could come back in July and participate in that dosing group.

January 29, 2005

It's a shame that babies don't like old people as much as old people like babies; I was thinking about that as I took my one-and-a-half year old niece to visit my great-grandmother at a nursing home. (Add another 'great' to the title from the niece's perspective, and slap a star next to my family's name on the Early Procreators Award.) Fate and fading memory have conspired to trap babies and old people in an adversarial relationship. Were babies a little bit smarter, they might be able to better interpret the approach of these frightening spectres whose kind words, not their state of decay, represents the truth of their intentions; were old people a little bit more lucid, they could hold seminars and lectures, brainstorm all of the ways they were creeped out by old people when they were young and discuss ways to avoid them now that they are, themselves, old. But no! Babies, old people, j'adore, terror.

I had to keep busy to avoid thinking about how the soft-brained old people were probably just merging me and my mother and the baby into two generations as opposed to the three we actually are.

I started a semi-permanent job yesterday, although it's really just an on-going temp job, so there's no saying how long I will carry on with it. The work is not really up my alley, as it were, but the people there are as nice as you could ask for from a place of employment. I'm not going to say much else, because I have this theory that my tendency to talk shit on my webpage may be costing me jobs. My friend Fritz asked me to remove mention of him from a very old archives entry, more than seven years old, in fact, wherein I had used his first and last name in the context of describing him as a giant walking nipple; he was worried that a potential employer might do a background check on him and take that in a bad way. (Because he kept clicking on the link in Google to see if I had fixed it yet, Google naturally assumed that that was the kind of page that people wanted to see when they wanted to see something about him, so it shot right up to the top of Google's page-rankings, the reverse of the intended effect. I finally removed it and he did get a job that he was happy about.)

It really annoys me that employers would do something like that, though. It is a dirty, under-handed trick and it should be roundly rejected by all good and decent men. In comic books, only the most depraved villains attempt to target the hero's family. Targeting my innocent puppy of a web-page is, frankly, on the same level of depravity. Had Beelzetron been keeping a weblog in which they admitted that they were keeping me in a cage and they had tiny men with forks jabbing at me throughout the day, among other vicious and reprehensible practices, and were prospective employers to read Beelzetron's weblog from the same period of time and hire someone - a Comparative Literature major might do well, and it would be the first known professional application for that degree - to prepare a report juxtaposing the two, then I would say, by all means, judge me, for in the end my hands shall be found to be righteous. But that is not the case. In our deadly game of cat and mouse, I was the only one to speak, and although I did not start it, I am judged for it, while Beelzetron continues to roll around in cash and throw orphans through windows. You tell me how that's fair.

This web-page began in different times, back when Chuck mocked the idea that anyone would be interested in a 'text-based' webpage, and I went daily with it when we were still rolling our eyes at the obnoxious new term 'blog', assuming that no reasonable culture would adopt a linguistic fart like that. (Oh, well.) But damn you, you barons of capital, you stick to grades and job references in your consideration. There is a meaning to the entries in my archives that is more than base malice, even the entries where I leave strange and ominous messages by the copier and dump out all of the white-out. It is restlessness, the fevered rush for something greater, and you must understand that, and how it can benefit you. And if not - if you peruse my excellent resume, nodding approvingly at the tasteful use of Futura font, and you note how well it fits the description of the job you have listed - and then you read my webpage and cross me off the list because of what you read here - well, you're either semi-literate or you're a dick, and fuck you all the same.

The other possibility that I have considered as to why I don't get more jobs is that the number of deadly martial arts that I know has crossed a certain threshold and prospective employers are concerned that novice fighters who wish to make a name for themselves will interrupt the work day by challenging me. That is a fair concern, and if you contact me, we can discuss it.

December 22, 2004

I am trying to get my sea legs back with this whole web-page thing. It's been a while. I did my best to keep it current while I was in Japan, but the fact is, to me, weblogs are all about being stuck at work. I don't really understand people who blog from places other than work. What is the motivation? If you weren't chained to a keyboard, only able to half-concentrate among the piercing hum of a hundred office machines, why wouldn't you just go outside and play, or read a book? For all of the goofy talk about digital content revolution, it has always seemed to me that weblogs are just the new media scheme for caged birds to sing. Or talk shit, as the case may be.

Poo-too-weet. There will be new photo galleries added over the next few weeks and they will be tremendously exciting, each bringing vivid illumination to some fascinating corner of the world. Below, you can already find a link to one such visual journey, in which monkeys run wild over a sleepy Japanese suburb and the police are helpless to stop them. There is a story that goes along with that gallery, and now seems like a good time to tell it. The suburb in question is in the northern part of Kyoto, near the mountains. My friends Tianni and Travis lived there. One warm summer night, not long before I left, they had me over to their place for dinner, and we had a grand time. Travis told me that one of his co-workers had talked to someone who claimed to have seen monkeys running through the streets in that area once, a long time ago. The monkeys had come down from the mountains for whatever reason, and then the police had chased them away. We talked about how great it would be if that were true. Monkeys in a city, I thought. Holy shit. When it was time to catch the last train, I walked back to the subway by myself, calling out "monkeys!" along the way in that way that I do when I'm walking around and looking for something I don't really expect to find. (Friends of mine will know the tone of voice.) Then I boarded the train and went home. Tianni had the next day off, so I didn't see her until Tuesday. When she came into work, she pressed her digital camera into my hands without a word. The photo gallery below records what had happened the next morning.

Honestly, if you are not standing on your feet and cheering by the last photograph, I do not know you.

I went to the Mark Twain House on Saturday. Let me tell you, Mark Twain had a fucking awesome house. His wallpaper was 84% better than the best wallpaper I had ever seen before. They had the house all decked out for Christmas, which was nice. The tour guide said they hoped to have the kitchen restored by May, so maybe I'll go back and check out the kitchen.

February 4, 2003 I have a letter from the monkey house! The Oregon Zoo was quick with their response. They are all class at that zoo.

>>> "Marc Heiden" - 2/3/03 1:49 PM >>>

First, please accept my condolences on the passing of Hugo, the elephant.

I read with great interest of Inji the Orangutan's Super Bowl prediction a couple weeks ago. I, too, thought that the Raiders would win. Although Inji did not succeed, I have great respect for her courage in going out on a limb (no pun intended) with the prediction. My question is this: Has Inji been informed that the Raiders did not win? If so, what was her reaction? Do you think that the news was / would have been especially disappointing to her, given her excellent 4-0 track record in the past?

Thank you very much for your time.

Best wishes,
Marc Heiden.


Thank you for expressing your sympathy regarding the loss of Hugo. He will certainly be missed not only for his genetic importance, but his mischievous antics.
Inji has not been informed of her prediction error,nor was she informed of her success in the past. She is a wise matriarch who is not into the prediction process as much as she enjoys "working" the media that come to watch. She fully understand that she is the center of attention and loves watching the photographers follow her every move.

Linda D'Ae-Smith
Public Relations
Oregon Zoo
(office phone)

What a fine zoo! I am glad that someone prioritizes mischievous antics over genetic importance. You'd think that would come naturally, but then you look around, and the rabbi's hollering about how American Airlines is trying to screw him again, and somehow it's your responsibility to be the intermediary.

Should monkeys be taught success from failure? I don't see any reason to get up in their faces about it. The world will not be a better place if orangutans learn to second-guess themselves.

I noticed this weekend that my new computer has an Internet Checkers program. To begin a match, one need merely be connected to the internet and launch the checkers program; an opponent of the same skill level is then found, and the game begins. Players can only communicate with each other through two dozen catch phrases such as 'Yes', 'Nice move' and 'I'm thinking'. I am attempting to carve out a reputation for myself in the Internet Checkers world as the 'It was luck' guy. In any event, I would like to use this forum to decry the cowardice of the Dutch player from last night who, after being lured into a triple-jump, immediately resigned, even though he had at least five pieces left. That is not the response of an Intermediate-skilled competitor, sir, and that is what you explicitly claimed to be. It is not bad to have received such a beating from my crafty checkers tactics, because they are indeed crafty, but to forfeit the match with so much still at stake speaks poorly for you. I call upon all Dutch checkers players of conscience to disassociate themselves from this cowardly act and restore dignity to the Dutch checkers world, and I further demand that the Dutch player from last night re-assign a more accurate rating, such as 'Beginner', to his or her checker-playing abilities. He or she can do so through the menu on the top left, under 'Skill level'.

Also, to the player from Taiwan, I would like to say, 'It was luck', 'Yes', and 'It was luck'.

January 17, 2003 I have the idea in my head that repeatedly hitting 'reload' on the 'Order Status' web page will stress to the technicians that I really want my new computer and that it should be a priority for them. I tested my theory by writing a realistic play with searing dialogue in which it happens:

TECHNICIAN: No one cares about my computers.
TECHNICIAN: I make them, because I must, but I make them slowly.
OTHER TECHNICIAN: In this cold and unfeeling world, what reason is there to make a computer quickly?
TECHNICIAN: The processor will go in as soon as I have digested and subsequently shat this sandwich.
OTHER TECHNICIAN: To reiterate, then: God damn.

The MONITOR JOCKEY enters, excited.

JOCKEY: Gentlemen! Why so sluggish!
TECHNICIAN: We lack inspiration.
JOCKEY: I will give you inspiration! Guess how many times this customer hit reload on his order status page?
TECHNICIAN: A few times?
JOCKEY: Your guesses are both woefully inadequate!
TECHNICIAN: How many, then? And, bear in mind, as men who are familiar with life on the 'streets', we are not susceptible to starry-eyed fantasies designed to pacify the middle classes in this age of declining religion. We may be of the lower classes, but we have an innate response to the truth, and there is wisdom to be found in our simplicity.
JOCKEY: The answer is this: a lot! That is how many times he has checked his 'order status' page!
TECHNICIAN: Over the course of many days?
JOCKEY: He has reached the plateau of 'a lot' in this day alone!
TECHNICIAN: What manner of passion must course through his veins to fuel such intense reloading?
OTHER TECHNICIAN: Significant passion, I would say! Passion and caring of a degree that would seem to defy our previous statements about the uncaring nature of our world!
TECHNICIAN: I should make computers!
TECHNICIAN: And give up the booze!
OTHER TECHNICIAN: But is booze not an inextricable part of our milieu?
TECHNICIAN: This is a new world! We are healed of our social mores, cleansed by this passion! Let us realize our potential! Let us make computers to match this man!
OTHER TECHNICIAN: God, I retract my previous off-hand requests for damnation! And, I submit this new request: God damn!

So, because I was able to write a realistic play with searing dialogue in which it happens, I figure it will happen soon. Some may say this is irresponsible application of the scientific method, but I would respond that those people can get fucked.

Let me also say, in an unrelated matter, that I am making a very serious effort to floss every day.

January 15, 2003 So: my computer is gone, its lights are dark. I bought it late in the summer of 1997. It was my third computer. The first, a 1992 birthday present for me and my brother, was a Packard Bell 386DX-15 desktop. (Given that P4 is the present usual processor speed, by comparison, P1 came in place of what would have been the 586, so that contextualizes the lumbering 386, the deathless 286, and the mad bastard 8086 for you.) It's good for young people to own Packard Bells before they are doing anything of consequence with their computers, because they are forced to learn how to repair shitty equipment and come up with new crafty work-around solutions every day if they want to get their copy of Joe Montana Football up and running. (Isn't that the All-American boyhood?) Also, when said kids take their computers apart to install new equipment, nothing that they do to the Packard Bell, up to and including setting it on fire, will cause it to run noticeably worse than it did before. Managing the machine's tiny 100 megabyte hard drive turned me into a permanent miser when it comes to hard drive space, like a Depression-era child in the money-flush 50's. My last computer had 1.5 gigabytes (15 times the size of the first), and try as I may, I never managed to fill more than half of it.

My second computer was a Dell Pentium-90. I bought it before leaving for college. My shyster mother gave it to me as a gift and then, when she encountered money woes a couple months later, announced that I had agreed to pay for half of it. Well, whatever. It was a fine machine. Marvels such as the web were revealed to me on it. Two years later, I retaliated against my mother's treachery by selling her the P-90 for an inflated price in order to buy my laptop, a P-150. I had decided that it was time for me to be serious about writing, and somehow the idea got in my head that I would be a much better writer if I could write under tables and in clothes hampers and on roofs, so it became imperative to buy a mobile computer. It was terrifically exciting. I did, in fact, write on the roof from time to time.

The Packard Bell actually lasted five and a half years, although it barely worked for the last three. All it was capable of doing was printing basic text (badly) and cheating (wretchedly) against my brother in Joe Montana Football (or so he accused). The P-90 slid into its spot and was sold by my shyster brother to one of his friends a year later for an inflated price right before it crapped out, probably three and a half years after its purchase.

My laptop, then, lasted for five and a half years, although it was in continuous usage for that entire time, so it seemed much longer. It was adorned with fortune cookies and a 'Cheeky Monkey' rave flyer from England. The monkey was wearing a tie, and the implication was that you were to vote for him by dancing, or something like that. Until the launch of a vicious conspiracy by Windows 98 and internet 'interactive' advertising to denigrate my sleek machine as no longer fit for the demands of the modern world, it flew. It was a beautiful writers' computer. The keyboard was sweet and responsive, able to take the subtlest of hints, yet never resentful at panic or insistence. The screen handled the color blue in absolutely marvelous fashion. Those two things, I think, were what I loved most about the computer...

And there was also its history. As it applies to objects, historicity is curious, but also sort of dubious. It would be interesting to see the gun that was used to shoot Abraham Lincoln, but how, other than through the implicit testimony of a lengthy chain of eyewitnesses and expectation, do we know that it was the gun? Can the history of an object be a part of it? Where, in the object, can you find it? We bring history to these inanimate things that don't know enough to carry it with them. The value, at some level, comes down to being able to say, "This is the one and only." It's sentimentality, and you can't linger in that stuff.

So, perhaps my old laptop, which blinked off for the last time on Saturday, is just another gun. But I wrote on that thing. God damn, did I write with it. Every 't' and 'r' and 'm' in my plays came from that keyboard. And if the computer as a form has not yet achieved artificial intelligence like Alan Turing suggested it might, I think it does sit in a state where, even if it's not an aunt or an uncle, it's also not a toothbrush or a plank of wood. Whatever may or may not be inherent to that machine, I will miss it. Something goes on between the fingers and the keys, ineluctable, and any writer worth a damn is surprised and grateful when it does, whenever it does. Writers in the last century rarely had to abandon their typewriters. I did not wish to turn away.

My new laptop, purchased with invisible funds, will not arrive for another couple of weeks. In the meantime, I have only my work computer, which is like when they give baby monkeys a wire nipple mommy. This thing sucks. It would be nice if, after all I've given to them, the starving children of the world would take up a collection for me, in my trying hour.

But I have learned what I can and cannot expect from those guys.

January 14, 2003 My long-time computer is no more. It ceased operations on Saturday. For this, and for starving children, I mourn.

December 4, 2001

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 Amazon.com 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...

November 23, 2001

For the love of God, please turn off your webcams before you go to bed, everybody.

Or at least give advance notice that you're switching the focus of your webpage from progressive news to porn. Damn.

August 31, 2001

Since there's not much else going on, I would like to take this opportunity to make a retraction: every single usage of the letter 'o' on this webpage dating back to March should have included an umlaut (those two dots above the vowel). Please go back and make the change. Then re-read the pages. They should all be much better now.

I cannot stress enough that one of the Soggy Bottom Boys directed the movie O, the forthcoming high school basketball adaptation of Shakespeare's play Othello. If you don't believe me, check for yourself.

I can't decide if I'm more single, unemployed or tricky. The great thing about me is that I am nothing in moderation.

In response to my recent job application, the aquarium sent me a letter telling me to suck beluga whale cock. I found their command of marine anatomy and basic physics to be fairly questionable, especially given that they're supposed to be experts and all. Of course, that wasn't exactly how they phrased the rejection, but having the phrase "whale cock" on this webpage when the search engines come through should put me right behind Yahoo and Amazon.com on the charts. In a related (true) search engine story, photo page 16 is the third most popular piece of HTML on the entire whatjailislike.com domain (behind the index pages for Hesterman and here). Take a quick look. Can you guess why? These words: photos + shit-eating. Oh, man. (1) Fucking Shakespeare never had to wonder how people were going to hypertext archive his work. I am censored by the depravity of my fellow man.

(1) Couldn't they have chosen "god + fuckers" as their search engine query? Boy, that would be intriguing. I'm going to go try that right now. Probably get a bunch of shitty nu-metal band lyrics pages or something.

October 18, 1999 I'm cooking some soup. that's what I'm doing. and you?

summer's gone and I'm still here, one last round with academia. I've got it on the ropes but it's throwing everything it has into this punch. all three majors coming to an end, vague sense of cognitive dissonance about the entire thing. I'm tired of being told what to read, tired of having my writing energies wasted in bland regurgitation, tired of having my desire to learn leashed and caged. but so it goes. beats having my fingers slammed in a car door while a naked Zsa Zsa Gabor points and laughs, if you consider the two outcomes to be separate ends of the same paradigm (which they are, in my world).

I am working on a pretty cool sociology thesis about silent film comedy. it's not all bad, and it's not all Zsa Zsa.

I'm also watching a boat chase in a movie right now. I feel compelled to make note of that.

I had a pretty good summer. did lots of things, worked a great many hours, and wrote volumes. there was a quite nice production of "Much Ado About Nothing" over two weekends in July, much radio broadcasting and perhaps the most memorable fourth of July I've ever had. things were busy, things were good. took a vacation or two: props to caves, especially ones that have not yet been wrecked by humans; props to the city of Cincinnati, which is a damn sight cooler than its total lack of a reputation would suggest; props to cars, which can go places fast; props to my cats, who keep it real. (it's easy to avoid selling out when you sleep as much as they do, though.)

things you should know
I spent the entire summer working on a second draft of my novel. I wound up doing more work than I had planned on: about a third is brand new and the rest was heavily rewritten. I really want to get this draft circulated. I don't know if it's worthy of publication - I won't be surprised if it's not, since it is at heart still a first novel by a young writer - but I think it's an enjoyable piece. since the web is still such a passive medium (the revolution will involve neither pointing nor clicking!), I put up excerpts for the casual to look at and evaluate. I can't afford to make paper copies yet but hopefully soon.

I might have pictures to put up soon from vacation fun (including actual photographic images of my self). check back later. in the meantime, read the novel!

although the above claims about having been busy are true, the actual reason why I never got around to updating this page should pretty well demolish any claim I have towards possessing higher order mental processes: I was stuck on this single idea that I wanted to use up top as the new lead story. it was to be called "the little bonobo that could", and it was going to be a children's story about the happy bonobo monkeys who live in the forest and wank all day long until they get tired and sad, at which point The Littlest Bonobo in whom they'd all doubted was going to rise to the task and get everyone taken care of. then it was going to transform into a bizarre 70's cop show where the chief didn't approve of Lieutenant Bonobo's methods and demand that he turn in his badge, gun and right hand. so there's my explanation. yeah, I know. I'll be staying away from computers forever.

I haven't been completely inactive online-wise. somehow I got sucked into the seedy world of .plan files. I had forgotten the things even existed, although I am old enough to remember when they had an actual functional purpose; now they're the internet's equivalent of a vestigial tail. if you don't know what they are, it's simple: get to a UNIX prompt (or the "directory services" option in Eudora) and, at the prompt, type "finger (user name)". I'm kind of torn as to whether they make sense or not. on one hand, they have no unique function. the web does everything vastly better than .plans do. on the other hand, they're kind of like passive-aggressive email and lord knows I'm all for that mode of behavior. they also have no commercial aspirations ("did you see colgate's .plan?") and that's rapidly becoming a curiosity in the online world. since you can't effectively link to other .plans, people who use them are forced to define themselves through content generation (actually writing something of their own! wow!) rather than making a list of links to popular commecial websites. some people do nothing but quote celebrities anyway, having been trained to think not in terms of truth but rather in terms of allegiance with prefab philosophies - and some people really don't have anything to say - but at least a certain mental effort is required to excerpt the quote (as opposed to the web's equivalent, wherein the simple invocation of a hyperlink serves the same purpose). so, in summary, .plans are still pretty cool.

I think I shall carve a pumpkin this year. need to get one first, of course. trip to the pumpkin patch. like a child, but I'm a ninja now. hallelujah.

I would like to make an intense crime movie that was totally loyal to formula except that for the big showdown instead of shooting guns, people threw whole watermelons at each other. they wouldn't act like it was strange, though. some of them would die. the grizzled old cop would get it. the rookie cop would learn an important lesson. the only way to survive would be if you were really hungry and could eat the watermelon. I won't spoil the double-cross at the end, but let me tell you, it's a doozy.

thanks to Time magazine, we can now derive an equation for the value of foreigners' lives: JFK Jr received two cover stories immediately upon his death, while those 13,000 people in Turkey got a story a couple weeks after the quake that killed them. commemorative issues equal 3 points, cover stories equal 2, and a story towards the middle equals 1. therefore, one rich white kid is worth sixty-five thousand faceless brown people. nice to know, and a hearty "fuck you" to the masses of Americans who sent flowers to the Kennedys and didn't make a donation thirteen thousand times the cost to Turkish relief funds.

what I find even more offensive are the pedantic essays littering the media trying to justify the obsession by rambling about how JFK Jr was part of "America's family"...the fuck he was. it's all part of the national strategy (not the work of an elite cadre - it's everyone's handiwork, wealthy and poor alike) aimed at blinding people to their own lives, keep them from feeling their own pain. understand, please, that I'm not a misanthrope. I have nothing against JFK Jr as a human being. he seemed to be a nice enough guy, and he deserves a ton of credit for not claiming the US presidency (which, given the depth of political analysis in this country, would have been handed to him on a silver platter if he asked for it). the basic point that I keep hopelessly making is that celebrity deaths are no more tragic than anyone else's. I saw some asinine editorial referring to the suffering of the Kennedys as mythic, an epic curse worthy of Greek tragedy, so on and so forth. makes me want to holler, as Mr. Gaye said. that fucking family is doing fine. they enjoy every privelege that money can buy. they operate above the law, indulge their whims, keep their asses covered...chart out the "tragedies" that they're supposed to have suffered and you'll find that damn few can't be attributed to spoiled rich kids messing up (drug addiction, drunk driving, crashing a private jet) or the risks of the lifestyle that earned them their privilege (the assassinations), the parameters of which they were fully aware. there is nothing extraordinary about their suffering. look around you. what would be truly extraordinary would be an extended family that hadn't suffered as much (if not more) over the course of several decades. feel your own pain...

see? only a few minutes and I'm raging like I was never away.

Welcome to Psychic Talk USA!this has been an exceptional year for movies, hasn't it? I had to wait until it came out on video, but all praise to "Rushmore", whose every frame has more soul than many entire decades of cinema (ok, it's hyperbolic, but looking at that phrase cracks my shit up so I'm leaving it in). "Run Lola Run" might still be playing in a theatre near you. go see it for ninety minutes of pure adrenaline and joy. (Franka Potente is hereby instructed to email me soon. we don't talk enough, Franka. let's talk.) "Eyes Wide Shut" was phenomenal (and subject to some of the most idiotic film criticism that's ever been written - but so it went for Kubrick's entire career, I guess). other things were very good as well, but I'm wearying of this list already and would like to get back to writing angry things and making references to my fantastic ass.

this is a message for the Illuminati, so everyone else please skip to the next part. ok. hey, Illuminati, can I have a laser gun? I promise I won't use it to oppose any of your plots for world domination. I'm just sick of taking out the garbage. I always let get too full. if you want to make it an early christmas present, that'd be fine.

Paul Czarnowski's working on a new project up in Chicago: you can check it out here. take back the radio!

(afterword from the future: I wrote the following before the latest shootings. sucks to be right.) another thing that bothers me is the continuing national hangover about Columbine High School. a tragedy, to be sure, but a number of the actions following it (by the media, by so-called behavioral experts, even by the victims' families) have been truly shameful. the Onion nailed one major annoyance of mine - the gaping hole in the causal analysis behind the tragedy. (see their article.) another thing that pisses me off is the attempts (a number of which have been successful) to turn their grief into justification for censorship and the public's unquestioning compliance ("feel your own pain" ad infinitum, etc). humanity does not come to understanding through repression, and to a certain extent the families of the next set of victims (because this will happen again because no one has dealt with the real issues behind the tragedy, choosing instead the standard set of idiotic dodges) will have this set to blame. the new round of vacant yet omnipresent coverage revolving around the school re-opening is also disgusting. to invoke again the Turkish quake: can you imagine what would happen if 13,000 Americans died in one single event? history books would record it as the greatest tragedy of all time. since the quake victims were foreigners, though, we're still obsessing over the Columbine 30. (I can't remember the exact number.) ethnocentrism strikes again. ("Buy American!")

do I think the earthquake should have received similarly exploitative media treatment? no, of course not. my point is that the pretty blatant discrepancies in caring render the whole "overwhelming human compassion" justification false. be honest. JFK Jr and Columbine don't get the blanket treatment because America is truly sad over the loss of human lives. the viewing public is, as always, simply looking for an emotional opiate.

although I will be in C-U until my apartment lease expires in August 2000, I lose UIUC computing access in January so that will mark the end of this here webpage. I plan to update a little more frequently as that date approaches, so check back regularly. no massive gaps like last time. of course, after the stunning display of charm above, how could you resist coming back?

next month: Orphans, And Why They're Bullshit.

February 1, 1998 I was baking and watching cartoons this morning. what a good day. the WB may be many things (most of them negative) during the nighttime hours, but damn does it have some cool stuff on sunday mornings. I was kind of underwhelmed by the Men In Black cartoon - it wasn't bad, just thoroughly lacking. the Batman and Superman cartoons were both very cool, and Animaniacs never treat you bad. after all this, despite my oft-stated disinterest in the first movie, I have been filled with the burning desire to create and write a weekly "Scream" cartoon series. can you even begin to conceive of how cool that would be? pointless body counts into the hundreds, rapidly revolving doors of suspects in and out (each of whom is eventually revealed to be one of the killers), hip metatextual irony in bright primary colors. please, mr. craven, let me do it. please!

for the first time in my multi-year (doesn't that sound more impressive than it is?) career, I have received a web award. after I got over the initial wave of panic ("sweet jesus, someone's been reading this?!?"), I moved on from my "Omega Man of the World Wide Web" visions and went on with my life. I'm not all that keen on displaying web awards - it just seems kind of, I don't know, egotistical in a "some guy in Iowa who never leaves the house" sort of way rather than the tasty Jack Nicholson (or Boris from "Goldeneye" - woohoo!) way. still, it's up on the critics page, so go ahead and check it out (it's worth looking at their page for some of the really rather scary sites they have there - as well as for the sheer irony of a page that critiques other web pages being as massively dorky as theirs is), the January 30th "www.bigweenie.com Wurst of the Web" award for "stream of college-ness coherency".

pointing out that this site appears incoherent to the average person ranks right up there with other incisive jabs like "there's a lot of porno on the internet" and "this site uses a lot of Times New Roman". but, "college-ness"? geez. they probably didn't mean as badly as I'm taking it, but man, when you go to a college like this one, you don't wanna be associated with it or be thought of as a product of it. "those words...hurt." but yeah! rock on with your bad self, sir. a few people who read this site for the first time recently have sent me mail and confirmed that some of the target audience (the intelligent, the obscure, the unconventional, the upside-down people of the world) actually do get this site, so I'm feeling a bit better about the whole thing by now.

began a half-assed search for housing next year, became mired deep in preparations for the next Potted Meat show on february 13th. classes are still OK. not particularly interested or aware of any of them save the Shakespeare class, which despite my professor's rather clearly-expressed dislike of my apathetic study habits and scholarly opinions continues to be rather fun.

naps have been tasting like heaven lately.

the cookies:
a little too wet. mostly good. still have that odd property of not tasting exceptionally good at first but becoming increasingly addictive (others have confirmed this). wish I'd used bigger chocolate chips.
the brownies:
a bit too dry. chocolate levels perfect, though. non-linear shapes win big points.

September 27, 1997 yesterday I didn't feel well. today, however, I'm at peak performance. so far. although I just yawned, so I don't know. I had a bowl of Lucky Charms this morning. they have apparently introduced a new innovation: "swirled" colours on the marshmallows. man, the things those wacky underpaid starving malaysian factory workers come up with! neverending fonts of inspiration. I think I'll probably have something else next time, though.

words from Kurt Vonnegut, courtesy of Svetlana:
(excerpt from an NPR interview) "You remember the mathematician who said that a group of monkeys locked in a room with typewriters would eventually write the works of Shakespeare?" (at this point all of the cognoscenti who listen to NPR nod sagely) "Well the World Wide Web proves that to be false."

this web page alone is incontrovertible proof, I think.

this morning I awoke early (well, before noon) and purchased David Bowie tickets for october 17th in chicago. rah! I played in a vampire live-action game last night. strangely enough, my entire recollection of the event is indistinguishable from an episode of "Jim's Journal", from the art to the words. so if you're wondering exactly what I did last night, look it up in your local bookstore under "Jim". today, I'm not sure. if I can find the armanents, something definitely needs to be done about the currently rampaging greek system down here. several thousand cave men and women in mating season is not a pretty sight.

q-tips, John Cusack, movies with a 90-minute running time, inexpensive chinese vegetable dishes.
people who refuse to evolve, the short shelf life of the average banana.

I woke up in a strange place is the work of Marc Heiden, born in 1978, author of two books (Chicago, Hiroshima) and some plays, and an occasional photographer.

Often discussed:

Antarctica, Beelzetron, Books, Chicago, College, Communism, Food, Internet, Japan, Manute Bol, Monkeys and Apes, North Korea, Oregon Trail, Outer Space, Panda Porn, Politics, RabbiTech, Shakespeare, Sports, Texas.


January 2012, December 2011, January 2011, September 2010, August 2010, June 2010, March 2010, October 2009, February 2009, January 2009, September 2008, August 2008, March 2008, February 2008, October 2007, July 2007, June 2007, January 2007, September 2006, July 2006, June 2006, January 2006, December 2005, September 2005, August 2005, July 2005, June 2005, May 2005, March 2005, February 2005, January 2005, December 2004, October 2004, July 2004, June 2004, May 2004, April 2004, February 2004, January 2004, December 2003, November 2003, October 2003, September 2003, August 2003, July 2003, June 2003, May 2003, April 2003, March 2003, February 2003, January 2003, December 2002, November 2002, October 2002, September 2002, August 2002, July 2002, June 2002, May 2002, April 2002, March 2002, February 2002, January 2002, December 2001, November 2001, October 2001, September 2001, August 2001, July 2001, December 1999, November 1999, October 1999, May 1999, February 1999, January 1999, December 1998, November 1998, October 1998, June 1998, May 1998, April 1998, March 1998, February 1998, December 1997, November 1997, October 1997, September 1997, and the uncategorised wilderness of the Beelzetron era: 010622 - 010619, 010615 - 010611, 010608 - 010604, 010601 - 010529, 010525 - 010521, 010518 - 010514, 010511 - 010507, 010504 - 010430, 010427 - 010423, 010420 - 010416, 010413 - 010409, 010406 - 010402, 010330 - 010326, 010323 - 010319, 010316 - 010312, 010309 - 010307, 019223 - 010219, 010216 - 010212, 010209 - 010205, 010202 - 010109, 010126 - 010122, 010119 - 010115, 010112 - 010108, 010105 - 010102, 001229 - 001224, 001222 - 001218, 001215 - 001211, 001208 - 001204, 001201 - 001124, 001124 - 001120, 001117 - 001113, 001110 - 001106, 001103 - 001030, 001027 - 001023, 001020 - 001016, 001013 - 001010, 001006 - 000927.

Written by Marc Heiden, 1997-2011.