making a porn from common household objects

So like everyone else in your postal code, you want to make your own pornography. Disappointed by the little pictures on the internet and the general low quality of cheap gonzo porn - the erotic equivalent of reality TV - you've decided that it's time to take control of your own sexual entertainment. There's no shame in the impulse, but like most others, you really don't know where to start. You don't have a hot tub in the backyard or an outpatient recovery room in the garage. Have no fear. This is a guide to making a low-cost, entertaining porn in your own home out of cheap, easy-to-find materials. At worst, a quick trip to the hardware store will solve your problems.

The first thing you'll need is a roll of chicken wire. Unroll a section and shape it like a cone, with a depression at the top. Make sure the depression is relatively deep, let's say 1/5 of the total height of the cone. I'm not going to tell you how big to make the cone, but since this is porn, the bigger the better.

Next make a paste out of equal parts flour and water. Alter mixture to desired consistency. Add white glue for extra stickiness. Don't worry about not making enough, because you can always make more if you run out.

Soak strips of newspaper in the paste and begin to lay the strips over the chicken wire. Continue until the surface area of the chicken wire is completely covered. Keep covering the cone with the paste-soaked paper until you can no longer see the pattern of the chicken wire and you're fairly sure that you'll be able to handle the cone without puncturing it. Let dry in a well-ventilated room.

Once your paper cone is dry, it's time to get busy with the tempera paints. Mix some brown tempera in water and start painting the cone brown. Let dry. For added flourishes, you may want to paint the tip a nice fiery red. Paint the base of the cone green if you like to indicate plants. Get creative!

Now it's time to decorate your cone. I like to use old Monopoly houses and pieces of real greenery to glue around the base. This step only takes a few extra minutes and really pays off in production values when you get to the shoot.

Now that your cone is ready, it's time to find a woman. Women are available just about anywhere, except for certain mosques, some conservative think tanks, and wherever dough-faced white men are paid ridiculous amounts of money to do screw-all except make us miserable. Women are so prevalent that you yourself may be one (make sure to check). If you are a woman you may decide to use yourself, but in porn, as in most creative endeavours, much of the joy comes in sitting back and enjoying what you've created.

N.B.: Some people believe that a woman is not necessary for pornography, citing the 'gay male' genre as evidence. In fact gay male porn is largely a myth, and most entries in the genre are the result of management oversight combined with packed shooting schedules.

Once you've found your woman (again, make sure to check), you should dress her in a sexy outfit, like a bikini and cowboy boots, or - my personal favourite - a neon yellow unitard with a football helmet. That's probably the best.

Still with us? You're almost ready to make your own porn!

The final step comes in preparing the money shot. This is the most important element in porn, the bit that signals that the scene has come to the end. Most porn consumers will not understand that the sex act has finished unless you show a great burp of ejaculation all over the place. Otherwise they will stare at the screen until it gets dark out and they start to snooze.

For maximum effect, the woman should actively participate in the money shot. First, she should approach the cone, probably sexily, and pour baking soda into the depression. Then, with a sexy flourish, she should pour vinegar into the baking soda. The resulting chemical reaction will cause oodles of frothy, acidic foam to erupt from the cone and pour down onto the base of the cone, where the Monopoly villagers live their quiet lives. The woman should raise her fists (sexily) and say, "I am your God! Die, puny villagers, die!" You can imagine the reaction of the villagers: some run, some pray, others realize that their last moments are at hand, and they start fucking like mad. Disaster sex, that's the hottest kind.

eight more

Memes and meme tagging constitute a rash on the Body Internet, an irritated area that only spreads when you scratch it. But sometimes that scratching is too satisfying to resist. Mathew of the venerable has requested the pleasure of my memeing with a contribution to cyberspace of eight facts about me. In the interests of not doing things properly, I am giving you eight (8) facts, one half to one third of which will distinguish themselves by being completely untrue. Can you guess which are real and which are real (but lies)? Take the test.

  1. I was born with an instructional pamphlet that came in a sealed plastic package. The doctors and my family couldn’t make head or tail of the instructions, so they did everything the usual way, which is why my third arm dropped off at age five. They turned out to be an operating guide for the DVD player I bought last summer.
  2. When I was young I read a novel that featured a character who liked to go through the medicine cabinets of people to whose houses he’d been invited. The novel stated that there were two kinds of people in this world: those who did and did not go through others’ medicine cabinets. Ever since then I’ve meant to do that, but I always forget, and every night out is tempered by a reminder that once again, I’ve proven myself to be the other kind of person.
  3. I find that a can of peaches can be just the thing, especially after a long day of professional wild animal wrestling. Did you know that the squirrels in the park are considered wild animals? They’re so wimpy!
  4. Once I ate wild blackberries picked from the foot of Roman ruins in the south of France. I told an ex-postman from French-occupied Algeria that I’d tried the blackberries, and he said “Aha! Bon appetit”. His name was Freddie and he drove a tiny scooter.
  5. My shadow occasionally detaches itself from me and goes off to do my evil bidding. The only thing it can do is make small areas slightly darker, so my evil bidding usually involves ruining wedding shoots.
  6. Since my wedding in 2001, we’ve been invited to countless weddings of friends and acquaintances. So far we’ve attended one. We probably wouldn’t have gone to our own if we weren’t needed up in front.
  7. When I was eight or nine or so, I read a Swamp Thing comic about an alien monster that infested a cruise ship and turned the crew and passengers into Cyclopean slaves with one red eye in their foreheads and tentacle arms. It freaked me out so much that I put a T-shirt over my forehead when I went to bed to prevent the alien monster from getting me. That lasted until my mid-twenties.
  8. My middle name is not Gregory.

Please submit your answers in the comments. The winning participant will receive a celebrity photograph in the mail. A celebrity photograph is better than tagging.

poker faces

There must be a poker tournament going on in the casino across the street. When I bought lunch in the hotel coffee shop, a group of four men, all dressed in combinations of denim and stressed brown leather, played Texas Hold ‘Em at one of the tables. A case of chips lay open on the short ledge separating the coffee shop from the rest of the lobby, yellow- and red-jacketed chips held in green felt.

Poker, like drinking in public, is an activity that looks unseemly and maybe dangerous before noon. Your instinct is to sweep around them in deep orbit, avoid that gravity well of sorrow and threat. But these guys didn’t have that menacing aura. They had a golf buddy aura, a Sport Utility aura, with twangy accents that placed them somewhere on that landlocked strip that runs down the centre of the continental United States. One man with a pencil moustache and a mockneck shirt the colour of an old bruise seemed to be on the losing end of the hands; I couldn’t see the distribution of chips from my vantage point, but from the man’s agitated glances to the side and his occasional slumping back into his chair, I could tell that the cards were aligned against him.

My favourite of the bunch was the all-denim man, a hefty guy in his mid-forties with a nap of light beard and a brightly reflective skull. I don’t know if he was winning, but he had an alternative language for poker that suggested either extreme confidence or pure assholery, or maybe both. A couple of times he would raise extravagantly or go all in, intoning, “Fire in hole, ladies and gentlemen… fire in the hole”. More than once he declared to another player that “he was going to teach [him] a lesson”. Maybe he was a professional Texas Hold ‘Em instructor, but I’m placing my chips on Amateur Asshole.

Fifteen minutes in, a couple of young guys in the early twenties spotted the game from the down escalator in the lobby. Until this morning, I did not know that the sight of a poker game in progress can trigger fits of stadium-intensity screams. “That’s what I’m talking about!” yells one of the young guys on the escalator. “Here’s where the action is, right here in the Roasting Bean!” Amazingly, the guy remembered the name of the coffee shop, even in the throes of Hold ‘Em ecstasy. He continued to shout and whoop at high volume, not caring that each second conveyed him closer to the people he was shouting at.

Then they all stood up and donned hooded robes. “We are the damned,” intoned the bearded man. “We are the damned,” repeated the rest of the table. The young guy tried to run back up the escalator, but the uncaring risers escorted him down towards the players, waiting in their ceremonial garb, waiting with long curved blades. “May this sacrifice please All-Hold’em,” said the bearded man as they grabbed the young man and methodically cut out his heart. “May we be worthy in His sight,” agreed the players as they adorned themselves with parts of their victim’s body: a scalp, a flayed face, ears on a string of beads, and from his very chaps an intestinal loop drawn out for a belt.

When the cops arrived, all they could say was “He wouldn’t shut up”.

customer complaint

Do you have branded carabiners? I drove a long way to get here. I said carabiners. Give me five branded carabiners or I will sue. I'm a decent man but I have limits. I drove all the way from Des Moines to get here. I want a half dozen branded carabiners for promotional purposes only with mini compass and LED light. My kids need to clip their keys to their belts. My wife left us and now my kids are latchkey kids, they come home and no one's there, not even the fucking television. My wife took the television and now there's no entertainment value in my house. In my house on the edge of Des Moines. It has a two-car garage with only one car in it. Goddamn it's sad, one car, the Escalade gone and the television in the backseat. My kids need something and I took our single car and drove five hours for your outdoor safari experience. The A/C was on the blink. We spelunked. We ate your shitty cotton candy and now merchandise is nigh. Give us our branded carabiners. It's in the constitution. I am a decent man but. I have a gun. Are the lanyards included?

capsule reviews

Highlander – “There can be only one!” Only one what? Every time I think they’re going to reveal what it is that has to be so singular, someone’s head gets cut off. Lame. That movie needed a quickening.

I Know What You Did Last Summer – Last summer I refused to wear shorts. My pale hairy legs are pretty scary, but two chicken sticks a horror movie do not make. Neither does this movie.

Transformers live-action movie – Optimus Prime comes to Earth and spends 120 minutes trying to hump an Escalade.

Britney Spear’s “Midnight Fantasy” Fragrance – smells like pre-teen spirit. A combination of cotton candy and vodka in a Slurpee cup. Much like Spears used to be, “Midnight Fantasy” is targeted at the pedophile market.

Beck - The Information – The other day I needed to know which types of plastic were best suited for drinks containers and which contained potential carcinogens. So I went out and bought the new Beck album in the hope that it would provide some information. Results were disappointing. Now I have cancer. Thanks a lot Beck. They should have killed you and left Kurt Cobain alone.

Texas hold ‘em – Last Tuesday I bought in to a Texas hold ‘em game. We went for hours. It was a white knuckle match, just masters of poker staring each other down for chips, X-ray minds turning cards transparent, crazy bluffs backed by brilliant braggadocio. Wait, I was thinking of something else. I ate ketchup chips and lost.

interview with a cruller that starts strangely and degenerates from there

(Bumper graphic for ‘Talk Good Lunchtime’. Transition to studio, where Interviewer is looking at a cruller on the guest chair)

Interviewer: Hi all, we cruller now have on chair. Me he lunch?

Cruller: No, no lunch you me, I free agent.

Interviewer: Who come how that, you food, you?

Cruller: The shit. What say that?

Int: You go. Now you go.

Cruller: Skaagh. So cold you, I scratch.

Int: No! Bad to scratch! End of smear you glaze!

Cruller: The leather.

Int: Shriek!

(Cut to commercial)

four fine shorts for long dull evenings

Give me one good reason, snarled General Mendoza, why I shouldn’t kill you and your family right now, you dirty traitor.

Because, replied the Pierrot, his body still braced against the beam of the ruined roof, if you do, the roof will fall and kill us both.

Mendoza lowered his Luger. Outside, the cries of dying Harlequins punctuated the hellish night.

Let’s see how long you can hold off your own death, said Mendoza. Not that you will have any army left to lead if you survive. He snapped off a mocking salute and walked off through the wreckage.

Alice lay half-asleep in the field of long timothy, her dress still pulled up over her waist. A breeze pushed down the grass stalks, tugging at their seed-heads. Clouds began to pool in the sky. I must get up, Alice thought. Things to do. She felt a tiny tickle on her thigh and watched an ant climbing over the goosebumps on her exposed skin. Must get up, she thought, brushing the ant away as if it were a loose crumb.

But not just yet.

Then again, Alice thought, the pigs aren't going to feed the remains of that homeless guy to themselves. She knew this was her mother's voice talking, but it was hard to ignore.

Once I was in L.A. and I was walking down the street when Richard Linklater came out of a café. He was running after me and waving his arms, and first I thought he was some crazy guy, or maybe a grad student or something, or maybe even David Berman, but he kept saying, “Stop, stop, I’m Richard Linklater,” so I stopped and let him catch up to me. He was all out of breath when he got there, so I stood and waited for him to speak.

“You’re so beautiful,” he gasped. “I have to rotoscope you”.

Up on my fridge there’s an offer for a celebrity threesome with me, Uma Thurman and another star of my choosing. I guess whoever I pick has to go along with it, the letter says. So I’m really hoping Ricardo Montalban is still alive.

not so stories #1

There’s a guy who’s always in the lunch room whenever I walk by. Sometimes he’s microwaving, sometimes he’s boiling water. Sometimes he’s standing there, hands in pockets and not much going on. He wears a knotted blue scarf around his neck. Old acne scars climb up his chin and cling to his cheeks. Every time I come in to get my lunch from the fridge, he smiles at me and wanders out. There’s a residue of his thoughts in the air, a murmur that runs I like, I like going through the fridge and looking at everyone’s lunches, I like to unwrap the cellophane around the cheese sandwiches, I like to pop the top on tupperwear containers and poke the tofu chunks within, oh yeah, gonna poke your tofu. Up top is the gourmet coffee, behind the toolbox and the toner, there’s good beans up there, gonna grind them when no one else is looking, gonna have some fiiiine coffee when the lights go out. Of course this is ridiculous – he usually leaves the office before I do – but now I hear his voice in my kitchen, and it frightens me a little.

ask palinode: cutlery edition

First things first: go vote for my Schmutzie-wife at the Canadian Blog Awards. She's up for Best Blog, under the title "Milkmoney or Not, Here I Come".


Some day some people gonna ask a Palinode, when you gonna put away the foolish things of life and grow up proper? And I'm gonna say, don't bother me, I'm eating a pie. But until that day arrives, I'm putting down that pie to answer your highly legit questions. Today my friend Amblus, who is also Keen Designs, asks me:

If one has a titanium spork and is emptying the dishwasher and putting things away, does the spork go in the spoon slot of the silverware drawer or would the fork slot be better? I am fairly tortured by this.


Whoah! A titanium spork? I've been given to understand that those titanium sporks are only used by government agents in black ops missions. They won't be released to the public until 2016, by which time the military hopes to have an effective counterspork in place. I own a nickel/zinc spork, which still makes an nice weapon, but you can't go around delivering killing blows like you can with the titanium model.

Some experts - or should I call them "experts" - maintain that the spork-drawer issue goes back to a medieval-era dispute between the Spork Guild and the Dutch Brotherhood of Receptacles. This is taken as a blanket explanation that also covers the evolution of the weaponised spork, from oddball implement to military mess tool to a weapon for cutting on people. However, there's strong evidence to suggest that the Dutch Brotherhood of Receptacles was first convened in 1987 by a group of D&D players, and sporks have been used as weapons for much of our history. Playwright and adventurer Ben Jonson kept a "killing-sporke" concealed in his cloak at all times, as does disgraced Canadian athlete Ben Johnson.

A spork has no easy slot in the drawer because it's a piece of zombie silverware. Zombies are the quintessential in-between creatures - not living, not dead, not allowed into bars until after one in the morning. To ask where to put a spork is the same as asking Where to put a zombie? You can't put it at the dining room table, because too often the guests end up becoming the meal. You can't put it in the ground, because there are so few brains there. More often than not, the zombie claws its way out to the surface and presents itself as an eyesore as well as a menace.

The truth is you can't put a zombie anywhere - it is not an object so much as it is an indeterminate state. And it's not one of those scientific thought experiments where the zombie's in a box and you resolve its state by observing it. Zombies don't care about quantum physics. You go and observe a zombie, it's still a zombie, just kind of standing there and moaning and lurching a bit. Then it observes you and tries to resolve your state. The only real resolution is to crush its head or blow it up.

And that's what you do with a spork, except that the spork's power is in its little tines. Cut the tines off with tin snips or fill in the spaces with old gum and bits of newspaper, whatever. Do that and you've resolved your spork into a spoon, and you can store it with security and confidence. Just don't let it loose in your kitchen.

Curious about the all the things that ever were? Don't have an artificial bird set upon a bough to keep a drowsy emperor awake and sing to lords and ladies of Byzantium of what is past, or passing, or to come? Want to know where those lines come from? Ask Palinode and he will tell you. Email askpalinode @ gmail . com.

the origin story

Lotsa people wanna know, out on the street, where they's kickin it palinode-style: Why do call your site In Palinode's Palace? Where's the palace? Why's the reference up all about classical poetry when you got or gots no rhymes or metrical feet (besides the feet-shoes) on the site?

Holy hot piranha, that's the worst street slang I've ever heard. That's like street talk if you lived in a can of stewed tomatoes for twenty years and then, when they let you out, you um, oh never mind. Let's just get on with the outrageous lies section.

Okay, so back in the days when money was made out of paper and cats weren't sold in open-air markets for meat,* I thought blogging was for squares only. In fact, when I saw Christians bloggers walking down the street, I would do that drawing-square-in-air-with-index-fingers thing, right in front of them. That's how much I didn't care what they thought of me. They'd start crying and run home to blog about the arrogant but beautiful man with long curly hair, whose behaviour aroused them and made them want to die from shame. I would laugh out loud and then go streetrace and win the streetraces in which I was a participant.

Then one day I experienced a terrible streetracing accident that put me on fire and in the hospital. When the bandages came off, I still looked beautiful, but my hairline had receded from all the stress, and I found that I was around thirty years old, which surprised me, as I had just been seventeen and the big name on the street.

Despondent and downcast, I went to see my friends, but they no longer recognized me and thought I was some old square. They did the square-in-the-air thing, which did not arouse me but certainly made me realize that my streetracing days were over, and that I had better get a series of jobs in the film industry for seven years and then end up working for the government.

I left my old friends and started walking home when I saw a poster on a wall.

Hey, I thought, that's funny, I'm going to go blog about it, and that's how I started blogging. But I didn't have a title for my blog yet. Then I met some guys who asked if I had a backup band for my blog, and I said No, and they said, We're a great band and we just need a break to make it big. So I said, What do you call yourselves? And they said Earth, Wind and Fire.

And that's how the top funk band of the '70s got their start in the business.

*I know these conditions don't apply in 2006-07, but I have to take future readers into consideration.

fine dudes

In a daring move, 1970 has sent four of its finest dudes to the twenty-first century (Two of them are twins. Or clones. Dunno which.). No one knows why these hunkonauts have landed here on the far shore of 2006. Maybe the sexy scientists of the past predicted that nuclear warfare would render males infertile or impotent, and these fine dudes are meant to repopulate the scorched wasteland of Earth. Or maybe these are weapons of the homosexual agenda, sent by elite radicals to conquer straightdom in the future. Or maybe these guys are swingers whose mesh shirts and dashikis proved so sexually powerful that they tore the very fabric of space-time.

And these fine dudes may not be the only emissaries of manliness. Perhaps the future holds dudes even finer, with furious sideburns and shirts so sheer that their very nipples shimmer.

the great game!

Yesterday I promised a part two of the worst party I'd ever attended. But I've got a flu coming on, so here's something I started this morning before my sinuses started filling up. Yummm.

James Conway, the latest US General in charge of the Irag-Afghanistan schlemozzle, repeated one of the standard rationales for the conflict: We fight them terrible terrorists there instead of here. Gen. Conway stated (from "Somehow I don’t think our people have made that connection and feel the same way that I do, and our troops do --that because there has not been an attack in this country is directly related to the fact that they are killing these … fanatics who would otherwise be trying to work their way in to Baltimore harbor or Los Angeles airport".

Aside from the logical confusion in that statement between causation and correlation: if the people back home don't get the connection, it's because it's never been explained properly. As far as I can tell, it doesn't matter how many troops you pour into Iraq - it's not like you're maintaining a physical barrier against a fortified position. If terrorists wants to hit LAX, they don't have to fight their way through a wall of American troops on the way to the travel agent. They'll book a ticket to LAX. Terrorist with sufficient resources and a well-defined program are not going to spend their time burying explosives on the road to Sadr City. They'll get on a plane and land at LAX. Visit Disneyland, have a drink at the Viper Room, take a photo of Drew Carey. Then their plan begins to unreel. As one distracts Drew Carey with an autograph, the other sneaks up and straps an IED to Carey's back and sneaks away on tiptoes. Carey spots IED in a classic double-take, looks up, sound of slide whistle and BOOM. Charred star, muted trumpet plays, and then it's on to a series of 30-second vignettes involving Drew Carey's hapless attempts at revenge. The terrorists make him run off a cliff, hit him with giant mallets, drop a piano on his head, cleverly disguise a brick wall as an alleyway - into which Carey runs smack. Eventually Carey gives up and the terrorists destroy vital infrastructure. They tip California into the ocean with a giant crowbar, and once everyone from Bakersfield to Sacramento is treading water, they do their terrorist dance to some tinny Turkish pop music. On cue, French people run up and start dancing in approval. And that's all, folks.

I can't say for certain that this will be the shape of the next assault on America, but really, if you've read the pundits of thunder and Islamo-fear, then my scenario is as good as any other.

ask palinode: scanning electron pr0nography edition

Sometimes a question is not a question. What, you say? It isn't? No: sometimes it is a story. And sometimes it's a guy with a knife and the animal stench of fear. But today let's focus on the question-as-story thing, thanks.

Heather - who signs off as Calvin for some reason - asks:

Dear Palinode,

I'm working on my PhD in biology, and my research focuses on single-celled organisms that lurk in various bodies of water. More specifically, I study their butts using scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Over the last year or so, I've had a number of comments from colleagues about my SEMS - they are, apparently, a little vulgar. I've taken the liberty of attaching two images so you can see for yourself. The first was described by a friend (he's a plant molecular systematist, if that helps) as something that looked like it was produced by the human digestive tract. I'll let you try and figure out the second one. I'm too embarrassed to say anything.

My supervisor says that they aren't obscene and that the comments come from people with dirty minds who see what they want to see. Normally I trust his infallible judgment, but I'm not so sure about this one. Is this just an inherent risk of studying the rear ends of single-celled organisms? Are they trying to tell me something?

One of my committee members suggested that aliens might be trying to send me a message, but he only saw crop circles in the image I showed him, perhaps being purer of mind than the rest of us (he is also a plant molecular systematist. Maybe that means something). Do you have an explanation for my micrographs? Any insight you could give me would be extremely helpful.


(Ms.) Calvin

See how she signs off as Calvin? I don't get that. Her name's Heather. Anyway.

Firstly, Ms. Calvin: I can't believe you're listening to plant molecular systematists. They're so full of shit. Plants don't even have molecules, they have cells. I learned that in like, grade one. That friend of yours, the plant guy, he thought that the first image looked like something "that was produced by the human digestive tract" - he means feces, right? Because that's what that first image is. It's surrounded by balloons, so it's probably at a party. A kind of, I don't know, feces birthday party. Happy birthday, tiny turd! Here's hoping that you got everything you asked for.

The second image is precisely as dirty as you think it is. That's some full-on gratuitous non-reproductive butt sex between consenting prokaryotes (it could be something scat-related, even). How do I know they're not eukaryotes? Because eukaryotes are dignified. Prokaryotes are filth, they're filthy muckers, so bent on twisting the natural order around like an old paperclip and sliding their superfluous genitals in and out of each other's vacuoles, so downright nasty that... sorry, I lost my train of thought.

Where was I? Oh right. Sub-visible filth, rubbing their bits together and getting away with it, hiding behind their invsibility. But I don't think your second micrograph is an image of two actual organisms (or even one organism posing for late telophase). Take a look at the following image:

This is an illustration by Charles Crumb, brother of famous underground cartoonist Robert Crumb. Even a quick glance reveals the similarities between the ribs of the pirate's tunics and the endless wrinkles of your micrographic perverts.

If you've seen Terry Zwigoff's documentary Crumb, then you know all about Charles: his tyrannical reign over his brothers, his obsession with comics, his sexual attraction to child actor Bobby Driscoll, his schizophrenia and eventual suicide. But what the movie doesn't tell you is that Charles was really, really small.

He was, in fact, about three-quarters as tall as a wavelength of light. The filmmakers had to shoot Charles with a special electron scanning camera. That's why NASA appears in the credits. It also explains the gratuitous Saturn 5 footage that mars an otherwise excellent film. His image was colourized, and then they inserted Robert into the shot to make it look as if they were "interacting". Here's Charles as he appeared in the movie:

And here's the undoctored, original image:

His bedroom is also really small.

I would say there's a good chance that you've stumbled on a stash of Charles Crumb's long-sought after, but never found, inter-paramecial porn. I remember Jesse Helms fuming about the rumoured micro-raunch back in the mid 1980s - as if he wasn't totally looking to score some.

Ms. Calvin, if you have more of those vulgar scans, I suggest you put them on ebay right now. You stand to make a fortune. And the feces? That probably belongs to Charles Crumb too.

how to sleep

Palinode's lecture on How To Sleep originally appeared in June 2003 in some old blog, with time off for good behaviour. Updated and reformatted, with a smart jacket and waxed moustache, for the volcano gods of NaBloPoMo.

If you've slept before this should be a nobrainer, but for those of you new to sleeping you will find this guide refreshing, helpful, endorsed by billions, good. First you need eyes. Find a pair of eyes. Any eyes will do. Good. Got your eyes? Get your mind from where you keep it: a picnic basket, a safety deposit box, a sock in the back of the drawer, thank you. You're welcome! Sleeping yet? No, not if you're paying attention. If you're sleeping now you're cheating and cheaters never wake up refreshed. Neither do drug users, unless the drugs are sleeping pills, but that's for later, that's for advanced sleeping. Remember: Winners don't experiment with advanced sleeping techniques. That's for later.

Next you need a mouth. Everybody has a mouth. If you don't have a mouth I can't help you, because there are no spare mouths left. If you have no mouth you cannot sleep. Don't complain to me. Now that you've got your eyes and your mind and your mouth you need to connect them, and that will take the necessary skills to buy wire. Go and learn how to buy wire now. Hardware stores have self-instructive behaviour sets that will teach you how to buy wire. Buy thin wire. Go now and take your money. I'll wait here. Waiting.

Okay. Connect your eyes, mind and mouth to a small generator. If you do not have a small generator then simply connect eyes and mouth to mind. For proper instructions on how to connect consult your dictionary. Here is a sample. The sample is both example and instruction. You haven't missed the sample; I'm just delaying it. I'm taking my time. Here is the sample:

con·nect v. con·nect·ed, con·nect·ing, con·nects
v. tr.
1. To join or fasten together.
2. To associate or consider as related ("no reason to connect the two events".)
3. To join to or by means of a communications circuit ("Please connect me to the number in San Diego";"Her computer is connected to the Internet".)
4. To plug in an electrical cord or device to an outlet.
[Middle English connecten, from Latin cnectere, connectere : c-, com-, com- + nectere, to bind; see ned- in Indo-European Roots.]
That was refeshing. By now you should have used the wire, the thin wire, to connect everything together. You now have the necessary components for a good night's sleep.

Oh yes, you also need night. If you do shift work you will sleep on the job. So don't sleep if you do shift work, because I will not be held responsible for your failed life and all the coworkers you kill when you fall asleep and let go of the girder or weld your buddies to a ship's hull or whatever. Let's get that straight. Go to work now and never sleep. Okay? Okay. Everybody left still with me? Okay. In order to sleep you must keep your eyes in the closed position and your mouth hanging open. Your mind controls the position of these switches. I lost the diagram but you get the idea. You have a mind now, so you get the idea.

Sleep and Wakeup are motivated by a change in state of the switches. But you don't know how the change in state is motivated. You don't know what's propulsive in this situation. What's propulsive in this situation is turkey. You need to eat a turkey to motivate the change in state from Wakeup to Sleep. In order to eat the turkey it must be dead. If the turkey is alive you must kill it first, and then you are a turkey murderer, but you live in a world of humans and you do not have to follow the rules of turkeys.

Thus, in the process of learning to sleep you understand the arbitrary nature of law. And thus you perceive that wisdom is a byproduct of of the collective human struggle to get some sleep. Is your turkey dead now? Good. Use the mouth. Have the mind instruct the mouth to eat. Use the eyes to locate the turkey for the mouth to eat and for the mind to be motivated to change its state. Turkey contains the amino acid tryptophan, an amino acid that produces niacin, a vitamin that promotes production of serotonin, a neurochemical that quiets turmoil and hurly-burly, but this sentence cannot be continued because hurly-burly does nothing further. Once there is no more hurly-burly the mind will switch states from Wakeup to Sleep, and that's how it's done.

'How to Sleep' is the first in a series of educational lectures from the Institute of How to Deliver Official Lectures. For a transcript of this lecture, please look at it again.

ask palinode: seafood edition

Who wants the conclusion to the Worst Meal Ever story? You do! Part Two features a dog in a cage, biting red ants and something pink and unidentifiable that may have been fish, but may also have been... I just don't know. Part Two comes tomorrow. Now for a slice of delicious Ask Palinode!

All Ask Palinode questions are generally held in queue, but sometimes a question leaps out at you - no research or consideration necessary. In just a few words, the question bodies forth its own response, growing in its medium like crystals in oversaturated sugar water. This is one of them.

Aaron asks:

What fish will I eat in 2048?
Aaron, that is not the right question. That is, you want to know what kind of fish you will eat in 38 years' time. You do not imagine an individual fish, say a cod named Frank. You imagine a class of fish, a species or a range. Grilled tilapia, you think, licking your lips. Sole in red curry sauce with leeks. Braised mahi-mahi served on a giant clam shell at a raw bar somewhere in the Keys. A trout.

But even that is not the right question.

Better to ask what, what will the fish tell you to eat in 2048? When, in the aftermath of the Marine Wars, the fish emerge from the ocean in their terrible machines to destroy the bulk of humanity and leave a wretched few to slave in the fish flake farms, what meals will be on your plate then?

When you shuffle your broken body back to the barracks and lay your head down on your thin lumpy pillow, will you cast your mind back to the distant days when we sat contented at the center of the food web? Or will your brainwashing be so complete that you will pull your scratchy blanket over your chest and thank the fish gods for granting you another day of life? Will you pray for baleen?

Of course you won't pray for baleen. Baleen is for whales.

I know. You don't want to believe what I have just laid out for you with the vivid descriptions and startling drawings of advanced fish technology, and the whale. You think, They're just fish; they exist to be eaten by humans or placed in little plastic cups, right? But who can plumb the salt depths of the fish mind, or gauge the ambitions of creatures that suspend themselves in watery darkness, staring day by day at the light above, watching the shadows that cross the surface - and hating them?

That's why I recommend a preemptive strike against all fish immediately. We don't want the smoking gun to be one of those machines. We must build massive freezers to store the bodies of our enemies for future consumption. And just to be on the safe side, we should probably kill the Finnish. They're deeee-pressing.

Update: It turns out that Aaron's question is topical. Scientists with their gleaming coats and beakers have determined that fish stocks may vanish by 2048 if humanity maintains its current level of consumption. This is why we must strike now, before the fish catch on and rise from the ocean in their terrible clanking machines.

Update: Via my friend Aaron, I found a video of a prototype fish machine. The end times, why they are already here.

More update: Sample sketches of fish fashion for the holidays.

Tired of the straight talk and plain speech that hides the truth? Untwist yer knotty perplexings with Ask Palinode. Email me at askpalinode @ gmail . com.

ask palinode #12: roving employees

No one is more concerned with the plight of the worker than I am. If I had my Marxist way with the world, all the workers would be sitting in the plutocrats' palaces right now, eating lobster and drinking Grape Nehi, while those fatcat robber barons in their top hats and tails would be pulling carts and cleaning horse dung from the streets. That would dirty up their spats right quick, ha ha!

A recent question from Adrienne has led me to reëxamine* my views on labour relations. From the heart of the Federal District of the United States of Mexico, she asks:

Dearest Palinode,

My question is: Where must I post a Notice of Filing for a permanent labor certification for roving employees?

I look forward to your elucidation.


Well, first let us ask ourselves: what is a roving employee? The Merriam-Webster Wordbook defines an employee as "a person usually below the executive level who is hired by another to perform a service esp. for wages or salary and is under the other's control". Adrienne, you can forget about posting a Notice of Filing - a person who is under the control of another should not be roving. A person under control should be sitting still and minding their own business, not roving around like God's gift to the countryside.

Don't misunderstand me - I remain a strong advocate for worker's rights. But when someone pays you a living wage - provides sustenance for you and your family - is it too much to ask that you just keep still? And stop squirming around? And it's not only money that employers provide; why just today I discovered two packages of candy Rockets on my desk. Each packet contains 7.4 grams of candy, most of which is nutritious sugar. Sneer if you will, you Stalinists, but a 14.8 gram portion of candy is just the thing for my wife and five children. I can even send a bit to my brother, who is currently suffering a term in the workhouse for his displays of sloth and penury.

In today's world, business seems to outpace even the steam locomotive. We live in a chaotic age, when a man in the financial trades may wager the worth of Holland against the fortunes of a Rhodesia-bound packet. Your nest egg and rosy future plans can evaporate in an instant if you've committed your funds unwisely. Then you're broke, unemployed (because who wants to have broke people coming in to the office? Their smell of misery is bad for morale), and forced to find income elsewhere. You "rove" to new employers, new neighbourhoods, new cities. Sometimes you rove all over your country without success. Then you rove over the border in the trunk of a cab, or you rove in a raft to the southern Florida shores.

My feeling is, if you're employed and roving at the same time, you've got a little too much time on your hands. Time that your employer is paying for. Just like the unauthorized reproduction of zoetrope entertainments, stealing time from employers is a crime.

Nonetheless, in today's challenging and flexible business world, it may be necessary for a clerk to deliver a bond to Portsmouth. In time, you may find that the clerk's chief employment is in the delivery and receipt of articles in the field, in which case he is indeed a roving employee and a credit to his firm. I hardly need point out that for such tasks you need a man of unimpeachable character. I can tell you from personal experience that it is one thing to murder a night-soil man, but entirely another to pilfer moments from the workday in a tea-shop or opium den.

In these exceptional cases, it is appropriate to post the Notice of Filing at Head Office, where one can reasonably expect the employee to return. For employees whose roving is undesirable, it is best to post the notice on a heavy wooden board, which is then hung about the neck of the employee as he walks the streets of the downtown, pursued by laughing mobs and stung by whips. Only then will we achieve a fair and balanced solution to the problem of labour relations.

*You see what I did there, with the diaresis? That's soooo cool. I am no nerd, no way, please keep reading me, I'm begging you.

Do you have a question that deserves a sound beating with knowledge? Email me at askpalinode @ gmail . com.

ask palinode #11: clash of the tired hooers

Oooookay. Time for another installment of that, whatchacallit, thing, where people want to know stuff and I tell them. I forget what it's called. Hold on, I'm going to go stare at the cat until I remember.

Okay, got it now. Thanks, cat.


I have finger puppets of Sigmund Freud, Virginia Woolf, William Shakespeare and Charles Darwin, but they're not talking to each other right now. And they look kind of pissed off. I think they may have had a fight while I was gone. What do you think happened?


Saviabella, without a doubt those are the most miserable world-weary finger puppets I've ever seen - and you haven't even taken the tags off yet. I should report you for this, Ms. Savia. The cops will come and then, as Adrian Mole likes to say, you'll get done for sure. How'd you like them apples, Savia? To get done by a bunch of cops showing up at your door?

Don't answer that.

It's well-known that finger puppets, just like the rest of us, enjoy prog rock. Your puppets have slipped into a state of gloom because their prog rock needs are not being addresssed, which has resulted in a state of underprogment. Initial symptoms manifest as listlessness, which progresses to neuralgia, fraying, and a matted look, as if a cat had got ahold of them and dragged them under the chaise longue.

Just as different basement-dwelling teens from the seventies and eighties preferred different prog rock bands, so do different finger puppets. The trick is matching the puppet to the correct gang of long-haired coke-snorting four-chord-loving rock snobs that have made life so miserable for most of us.

Puppet #1: Charles Darwin

Capsule bio: A gentleman scientist from nineteenth century England. Sailed on a boat called the Beagle. Looked at big birds and scary lizards on rocky wastelands in the Pacific. Discovered that the path to atheism ran through the ovipositor of a wasp.

Best match: Mike Oldfield, Tubular Bells. This is the classiest piece of progressive rock out there, and to judge by by Darwin's white beard, kindly expression and elegant but well-worn coat, he likes his prog as a background air to the motions of his mind.

2nd choice: Yes, The Yes Album. Charles Darwin enjoys the complex harmonies, even if he finds Jon Anderson's high-pitched vocals a little disturbing. He also draws quiet inspiration from the first part of "Starship Trooper".

Puppet #2: William Shakespeare

Capsule bio: Led a life of wretched disappointment. Married a woman many years his senior who may have been his father's mistress. Son Hamnet died young, probably from silly name. Ground out an existence in the theatre, died respectably well-off and left his secondbest bed to his wife. Wrote some plays concerning kings, magicians, and a guy with a donkey's head.

Best match: Jethro Tull, Minstrel in the Gallery. Shakespeare likes his prog rock fried in the fat of folk, and Tull's folk influences and flutework glisten on Minstrel. Jethro Tull kind of seem like they come out of the sixteenth century. From under a pile of horse shit.

2nd choice: Rush, A Farewell to Kings. One word: madrigal.

Puppet #3: Virginia Woolf.

Capsule bio: Miserable depressed writer from the twentieth century who wrote a number of books, each one less accessible than the last. Despised the world and everyone in it, herself included. Had a fatal passion for collecting river rocks.

Best match: Emerson Lake & Palmer, Brain Salad Surgery. OMG. Any way you cut it, "Karn Evil 9" is a thirty-minute masterpiece of rock so prog that you'll need a medic afterwards. When Keith Emerson sings "Soon the gypsy queen in a glaze of vaseline/ Will perform on guillotine/ What a scene! what a scene!" halfway through "Karn Evil 9 (First Impressions)," you know you're in the presence of sheer. Genius. This is what Septimus Smith was singing when he leaped to his death.

2nd choice: King Crimson, In The Court of the Crimson King. No particular reason, but if Virginia Woolf were going to get into 1970s art-rock, she should start here.

Puppet #4: Sigmund Freud.

Capsule bio: Born Sigismund Schlomo Freud. Enjoyed cigars, maids, talking about sex with Viennese housewives. Thought about infant sexuality and personality formation for years until he realized that the human race carried within itself a deathward impulse. Smoked his jaw off.

Best match: Pink Floyd, The Wall. Don't tell me you didn't see this one a mile away. I think Freud contributed backup vocals on "Young Lust". His campaign against dark sarcasm in the classroom does not need to be explored here. He did, however, feel that children needed some education, even it amounted to thought control.

2nd choice: Kraftwerk, The Man-Machine. Although Freud was not interested in the cyborgian themes of the album, dismissing it as yet another example of the death drive in action, he loved the vocoder. Because at the end of his life, Freud's musical career was cut short by cancer in his jaw. He could have cut a few singles with a vocoder and some session musicians. I'm not saying it would have been an epic body of work, but it would have found its niche.

ask palinode #9: drugs and violence edition

Cenobyte, she is my most prolific questioner-askioner so far. Today she ask:

I have some other questions. Is there a daily quota on the number of questions any one emailer may send?

Does toad-licking really make you hallucinate?

If Queen Bee is on a train leaving Pasadena is travelling 90 miles per hour going west and Worker Bee is on a small, privately chartered airplane from Little Compton travelling east at 300 miles per hour, when and where will Queen Bee's path intersect with Worker Bee's path, if one drew a straight line representing each journey in a two-dimensional representation?

#1. That's one for the FAQs. There is, in point of fact, no limit on questions, quantitative or qualitative. You can ask me anything you want, as much as you want, by the barrel, carried in sacks, moved in lead-lined containers by dead of night. It doesn't matter. Prepositions or adverbs, interrogative or nominative, participle or gerund, I'll take them all on and leave them bruised and quivering on the mat. Eight rounds running and I'm the welterweight champion of response. Biznatches!

Bear in mind, o biznatches, that I try, however feebly, to be timely with my answers. That means that if you ask me twenty questions at once, they will necessarily be short, curt, brusque, rude, nasty, and combative like a mo'fo. Or just brief. Better that you ask one well-chosen question and be rewarded with buckets of bullshit, instead of asking twenty questions and getting a few turds in return.

As always, the Ask Palinode project is, like the rest of this weblog, a small affair intended for the amusement of me and my close friends, whose definition I freely and gladly extend to all visitors. Even the ones who come from Google looking for 'anal sex man'.

#2. Tooooaaaaad. Many are the lives ruined by the licking of the smooth cold length of amphibian back - the secretions propelling the innocent into a nightmare demesne of fabricated terrors - intricate geometries of hell - the warty architecture of Satan's palace. Did you know that Satan had a palace? It's open to the public from May to September, with tours twice daily. Great Labour Day Weekend package specials, but don't phone for bookings. You can not get past the voice message system.

The short answer to your question is: Hell, yeah! Toad licking is a sure-fire legitimate way to hallucinate. As far as the nerdy men in the white coats know, toad venom is the only animal-produced hallucinogen occurring in nature (other animal toxins may cause you to hallucinate, but those hallucinations are usually of the long-tunnel-and-bright-lights variety). Before you go around licking toads, there are a few guidelines that you should follow:

Know your toads. Most people think that the cane toad, or bufo marinus, is the one to lick. Do not lick this toad. Their venom will burn your lips and tongue and make you sick as a dog (and it kills dogs). In other words, not a groovy high. Also, cane toads are insanely ugly little beasts that spread like a bad rash. They pretty much embody everything that's wrong with nature.

What you want to go a' licking is the bufo alvarius, or Sonoran Desert toad, the legendary vision toad of somewhere or other. This one contains both bufotenin and DMT, which makes it a pretty good buy for the money. DMT is also found in ayahuasca, that crazy shaman vine from the South Americas.

The toad venom can be licked straight from the toad's back, or harvested and then dried and smoked. I suppose you could snort it as well, but the idea of sniffing hallucinogenic toad dandruff up your nose doesn't sound like fun to me. The effects are short-lived but intense. Remember, DMT doesn't just kick your neurotransmitters around a bit; the stuff actually latches on to your receptors and offers a toady version of reality, which one user described as "being shot from a rifle barrel lined with baroque paintings and landing in a sea of electricity". I heard that on CBC radio once.

The real question is, are those toads high all the time? Because if I had a couple of glands on the back of my neck that dribbled out heavy drugs, I wouldn't be spending money on a night out, if you catch my drift. Maybe the toads ingest so much that they don't even know they're high. Maybe they just hop around and think "time to get shot out of the baroque rifle barrel again" like it's no big deal.

Hey, waittasec -- what if we're the ones who are constantly high but don't know it? What if we only see reality when we're stoned? What if toad venom is our gateway into reality? Whoah. Whoooaaah.


#3. You didn't mention which states were involved in your math problem, so I'm going to assume that you're referring to Pasadena, California and Little Compton, Rhode Island. First, do these bees belong to the same hive? I only ask because the difference in latitude suggests that these two bees may not even be of the same species. My biggest worry is that Queen Bee may in fact be the Africanized 'killer bee,' and she may be traveling west to populate the whole land with vicious killer bees in a stingy orgy of reverse Manifest Destiny.

Meanwhile, the worker bee in her charter jet is racing east to stop the onrush of Africanized bee violence. That's no mean feat for one bee, exiled from her hive for Bee Crimes, seeking redemption in a mission to keep America bee-pure. But she has lots of cash, which softens the blow a bit. At least I'm pretty sure she's got cash, or at least some kind of benefactor on the side of the European-descended bees. Otherwise, where'd the charter flight come from? Bake sales? Clearly the Africanized bee is poor, consigned to riding the rails in order to propagate her hive.

It's not just a question of where they will meet, it's when: Can the heroic European worker bee get to the Africanized queen bee in time to stop Africanized bees from selling the drugs supplied to them by the Jew bees to all the hard-working but tragically naive Euro-descended bees? And once they meet, will the corrupted socialist bureaucracy of liberal do-gooders stop the worker bee before she can carry out her mission? Will those liberals enlist their liberal media shock troops to perform a 'hit' job on the admirable worker bee?

Frankly, Cenobyte, I'm a bit put off by the subtle-but-discernible racist undertones in your question. But I'll give it a shot.

Here is the best possible route between Little Compton, colonial fishing village non pareil, and Pasadena, the city where Griffin Mill murdered David Kahane over a screenplay:

If Queen Bee departs from Pasadena heading east by train and the Worker bee heads west by plane, the two will never meet. The Worker Bee will be traveling at least 37000 feet above the Queen Bee. Worker Bee will fly in a straight line until its fuel runs out over the Pacific, whereupon it will fall into the ocean. Meanwhile, the Queen Bee will take the train to Atlantic City, where she will play some craps and a few rounds of blackjack. Later she stings someone and dies.

Update: On second glance it seems that I misread the question. The train leaving Pasadena is heading west, not east. Likewise for Worker Bee in her chartered plane. This changes things a bit. Queen Bee travels first from Pasadena to the nearest train station in Glendale. She boards the train and then travels west, straight into the Pacific Ocean. Meanwhile, Worker Bee takes a bus to the Newport State Airport (ironically just outside of Middleton), hops a Dash-8 to Newark and books a continental flight to Madrid by way of London. At the last TSA security decide that her stinger is a weapon. Also, she doesn't have a proper container for her honey. She moons around the airport for a while, threatens a TSA official. They arrest her, cart her away to an offshore prison, where she spends the rest of her life futilely filing appeals and asking for a lawyer.

Are you of the question-asking mind? I will answer absolutely any question you put to me. Just send me an email at askpalinode @ gmail . com.

Ask Palinode #7: super bonus question day

Sometimes you get tired of being ugly. You want to jump out of bed and say, 'Fuck it world, I'm all about the beauty today. Being ugly is so never was and never more will be, aye'. Then you face down the mirror, the one showing you your same old ugly face, and say, 'Thanks mirror, that's a nice picture of the old me. But there's a new me now, and that me is beautiful'.

I'm already beautiful, so I don't have to go through this process. But today I not only look beautiful; I feel it. In fact, I feel better than beautiful. I feel cute and perky on the inside. That's where all the pretty butterflies come from. So perky do I feel that I'm going to answer multiple questions at once. My Head Is Too Big For My Body, aka Mr. Head, asks:

  1. Broken down into component elements and allowing for inflation, how much will my body be worth when I die in 2046?

  2. How fast do the molecules in said body need to vibrate so I can pass through solid structures?

  3. What does the word "zeitgeist" mean?
#1. Mr. Head, congratulations on your decision to take your future in your hands and calculate the worth of your first, last and ultimately only possession - your own body. Most people calculate their worth by tallying up their assets - houses, cars, yachts, slaves, jewellery - and leaving it all to relatives or the Humane Society. They say you can't take it with you. But your body comes along whether you want it or not.

The human body is a mish-mash of elements, some common, some extremely rare, that were minding their own business and having a good time when your DNA molecule showed up and started bullying them around. Then these inert piles hopped up from whatever they were doing and started joining into molecules, each bond adding complexity and specialization until an entire Mr. Head was standing there, all assembled and wondering where his girlfriend had gotten to. In economic terms, it could be said that each step up in complexity adds value to these elements, until a pile of carbon, which in raw form may cost a penny or less, suddenly becomes part of an entire body, which can be rented out for up to fifty years in exchange for varying amounts of money.

When you're calculating the worth of the elemental composition of the body, it's best to keep in mind that your body is worth a whole lot more if all its molecular bonds remain intact. Separate, unmolested and sitting in piles, the various elements of your body still amount to less than a dollar. If you're willing to add value to those elements, though, the sums of money start piling up. You've probably got about 16 kilograms of oxygen locked away in your tissues. Not worth much when extracted and placed on a table. If you were to chill it, bottle it under pressure in a steel canister and offer it to old people, you'd find that medical-grade oxygen fetched a very high price. Or take your carbon, which, if removed from your body and dumped in a bowl, would not be worth much. If you add it to industrial pollution, though, you can then refrain from burning it in exchange for carbon credits. Cha-ching. That's an instance in which you can add value to a substance by not doing anything at all beyond placing it in a particular context. And you're helping to save the Earth.

If we were to account for inflation, as your question suggests, let's assume a base value for your elements of ninety-eight cents. This is an entirely reasonable sum, because anything in this world worth less than a dollar is automatically ninety-eight cents, with the exception of Hubba Bubba bubblegum. If we then assume an inflation total of 523%, based on the rate over the past forty years, your denatured self will be worth a stunning $6.13 when, in 2046, you will fall over dead in the street and then someone will sell you for your elements. Way to plan, Mr. Head. Especially since dead bodies will be reanimated in the future and put to work in 7-Elevens.

#2. Everyone who grew up reading comic books and dreaming of supernatural powers will be familiar with this question, which reminds us of the Flash and his ability to make his molecules vibrate in such a way that he could pass through solid barriers. Along with Wolverine's crazy claws, molecular control was probably the most coveted super-possession for young boys in the '70s and '80s. Lightsabers also ranked up there (note how all these things involve passing or cutting through barriers). The point is this: any boy who has the ability to vibrate through walls is by definition totally cool. And once he grows up a bit and starts dating women, immensely desirable. Girls who can do this are unfortunately not cool because girls are not allowed to go through walls. Women who can vibrate through walls are also immensely desirable and highly caffeinated.

In order to find out how The Flash did his thing, I asked my friend Levendis, who's read Crisis on Infinite Earths and so most likely knows about molecular frequencies.

Levendis: The Flash has a kind of 'deal' that protects his molecules, or he used to, but in Infinite Crisis #4 Superboy-Prime was pulled into the Speed Force by the other Flashes.

Palinode: So this 'deal' was the thing that allowed him to vibrate through walls?

Levendis: That was the deal.

Palinode: And the Speed Force helped him with his... speed?

Levendis: The Speed Force was an extradimensional force that the Flash was able to draw on in order to go to the speed of light and beyond.

Palinode: But now he's not able to do this?

Levendis: The nature of the Speed Force changed after Superboy-Prime and now he's just really fast.

Palinode: I hate comics.

The speed at which a molecule vibrates is a function of the amount of energy added to the molecule. At absolute zero, no energy is being applied to the molecule, so the vibration is zero. As the available energy increases, so does the vibration. In order to increase the vibration of your molecules so that you could pass through a wall, you would need to add a significant amount of energy and some kind of protective shielding against the harmful effects of that energy. The Flash apparently had a well of extradimensional energy called the Speed Force on which to draw, and he was protected by some kind of 'deal'. Regrettably we have no such 'deal,' and the Speed Force for us is the group of pale-faced kids in the park selling crystal meth.

Since no one has ever accomplished this feat in the real world, it can only be proved by thorough experiment. If you can find a sufficient source of energy, then you have to deal with the second law of thermodynamics, which indicates that waste energy from spontaneous transfer will be thrown off as heat. Oxygen molecules in your body and ambient air will react with the heat in a process known as combustion and then you will be on fire.

Most of your body will be converted to ambient nitrogen and particles of carbon. If the prevailing winds are correct, the particles of carbon will rise on the current of warm air and land on the other side of the wall. I call this The Classical Solution.

Clearly, classical physics are not your friend. What you need is the aid of quantum mechanics. For starters, take a look at this:

Whoah! What the fuck is that? You may not know it, but that's the solution to your vexed question here. In order to pass through that wall, you don't need speed; you need the benefits of quantum mechanical tunneling.

What is quantum mechanical tunneling? Without it, your Casio wristwatch would not work. Your television set would just be a weird box you paid a thousand dollars for. Your sun would not be able to initiate the thermonuclear explosions that give us heat and light. Your physics prof would not lecture on the topic, for obvious reasons.

Quantum mechanical tunneling is difficult to sum up in a few words, but suffice it to say that when a peck or bushel of subatomic particles approaches a barrier at a certain energy level, some will be reflected back, but a certain number will, by the laws of quantum probability, appear on the other side of the barrier. It's like throwing a cat at the door and finding that somehow the cat has landed in the hallway. Or like having a cat take a shit in a litter box but somehow you find cat turds on the floor (Cat shit is the only macroscopic substance known to take advantage of quantum tunneling). Bear in mind that there is no actual 'tunnel' involved; the particles appear on the other side of the barrier as a function of quantum probability.

You will notice that the tunneling effect works best when applied to the subatomic level. In fact, for your average electron, disappearing one side of a wall and popping into existence on the other side is pretty commonplace. On larger scales of measurement, probability begins to average out in such a way as to discourage crazy-ass shit like quantum tunneling. It's not impossible for all 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (7 *1027) atoms in your body to spontaneously vanish and then reappear elsewhere in the precise configuration that they enjoyed, but it's really really unlikely.

Given that degree of unlikelihood, it's probably smart to reduce your body to individual elements. This can be accomplished with a gun and a good pair of tweezers. Have a friend gather you up in a bucket and hurl your components at a wall. Then wait for quantum tunneling to do its magic.

#3. 'Zeitgeist' is not a real word. It was made up by my little cousin Billy in 1982 when I asked him what he was going to call his new puppy. 'Zeitgeist!' he screamed, spittle flying. 'Zeitgeist!' Shut up, I thought. The name didn't stick (big surprise). I'm quite surprised at how rapidly the word has spread out into common usage since then. It still doesn't mean anything, though.

ask palinode #6: cufflinks

Sometimes people living a thousand miles or more from my apartment have questions. And my first thought is generally, "Why bother? They can't come over and slip poison gas under the door by means of a flexible celluloid pipette. Why, between the road agents and the portaging, who would make such a long journey at this perilous time of year? I'm safe until spring thaw".

Then I reflect on the increasing popularity of the motor car and the air-plane, and a flood of generosity douses my soul. Mr. Hobbs, who lives in a boat moored to a rock off the shore of Lake Ontario, has the following to ask:

I purchased a set of cufflinks at the Sunday antique market fair in Kingston. They are a rather nice pair of cufflinks; they work quite well, they don't eat at all, they hold my sleeve's cuffs together, they never jump off and run away, as so many other cufflinks do, and they never talk back. ...But, I fear they may be communicating with others. You see, each cufflink has a symbol upon it, obviously of some sort of club or fraternity, and as to which organization's member they do beckon, I know not! Palinode from the image below can you decipher the club, clan, cult, fraternity, religious affiliation, a-religious affiliation (Buddhists, atheists, Epicureans, the NDP, etc..), group, party, organization, faction, persuasion, or perversion these cufflinks are symbolic calling card to?

Before I may bring these cufflinks to my heart, I will await your response and hold them aloft in my esteem and wear them only upon my sleeve(s).

They have no writing nor stamp on the reverse or stem. They did come as a set of 3, as heirs and spare I assume, for $4 (in total, not @).

Yowzah! You were right to suspect a secret affiliation dependent from the links. The first truth of the matter is that cufflinks are, if not evil, then definitely sinister; their very dapperness determines their nature. It is also true that, issuing from their sinister nature, they are in cahoots with other entities. I wish I could say with confidence that these entities have your best interests at heart, but it is not so. These groups serve only one master, and their twisted altar of worship is not yours.

Given that these are the bald facts in the case, it remains only to suss out the true allegiances of your cufflinks. First off, the symbols are not horseshoes. They are actually bicycle clips.

The bearers of the bicycle clip cufflinks declare their membership in the Constabulary for the Preservation of Humanity By Way of the Atomic Theory (CPHWAT). The Atomic Theory was first outlined the organization's manifesto, Flann O' Brien's 'novel' The Third Policeman. O'Brien's 'novel' is populated by policemen in a rural Irish parish whose chief activity is the theft and recovery of bicycles. The policemen are great proponents of the Atomic Theory.

The Atomic Theory proves that prolonged periods of riding bicycles, especially along unpaved roads or paths, creates excessive jolting and constant friction between the seat of the bicycle and the seat of the rider. The jolting can actually cause atoms from the bicycle and the rider to cross over, so that in time the rider begins to absorb his or her bicycle and the bicycle its rider.

Within a year of daily riding, it is possible for a bicycle and his or her owner to have unwittingly exchanged twenty five percent of their natures. Given such a terrible progression, it would not be surprising if bicycles in the guise of human beings one day ruled the world (incidentally, this has already happened in the Netherlands). The members of CPHWAT, with their dedication to promote high percentages of humanity in humans, have been stealing bicycles for years. Remember: when you return from an afternoon at the beach to find a broken lock dangling from the bike rack, CPHWAT has been there.