lists

my shakespeare quiz

1. In Henry V, Henry delivers the stirring St. Crispin's Day speech to his troops on the eve of the Battle of Agincourt. Why doesn't Henry just take the train to Agincourt? It's really affordable.

2. When Hamlet says “To a nunnery! Go!” who is he talking to? Ophelia is dead at that point. He's already strangled her. On top of which he's kneeling with his knee on her throat, so it's unlikely that she'd even get to the nearest water fountain, let alone a convent.

3. In The Tempest, why does Prospero say that “we are such stuff as dreams are made on”? Prospero is a former Duke of Naples. Shouldn't he be speaking a Neopolitan dialect of Italian?

4. Many critics believe that the plays and poems of Shakespeare were written by someone else. Could that 'someone' actually be Shakespeare writing under a pseudonym that was also Shakespeare? He was hiding his true identity from the Templars. And that identity... was H.G. Wells. Or Boba Fett.

5. Hey, do you remember that bit in Inception where the guy is driving the van, and there's an entire dramatic chase scene through pouring rain, and the reason it's raining is because he has to pee and the chase scene is taking place in his dream? So really, he's driving through his own pee? And then the van falls into a river? I'm pretty sure the character wet himself at that point. Do you think the character wears adult diapers? Should Nolan have established that earlier? Maybe there should have been an extra twenty-minute scene about adult diapers? What if a character was eating crackers, and then everyone went into his dream and things were, like, extra crunchy?

6. The character of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice has been held up an example of Shakespeare's anti-Semitism. Don't you think that Festus from Twelfth Night should be held up as an example of Shakespeare's hatred of his paying audience? That dude was seriously annoying.

7. Scholars have discovered that the character of Kate in The Taming of the Shrew was actually meant to be played by a trained shrew. This explains why the character attempts to eat her own weight in leaves and insects throughout the play.

8. Pop quiz: Does King Lear a) father or b) contract Goneril in the course of the play? Bear in mind that he goes blind and crazy.

9. You're walking through the woods. Titania, queen of the Faeries, wanders up and declares her love for you. What do you say?
a) “Hey, I got this ass head for a ducat in Elsinore, you like? Yeah, you like”.
b) “I got ninety-nine problems but an ass-head ain't one”.
c) “I'm a rude mechanical and you're a sprite botanical. Let's get together, 'cause Oberon's tyrannical”.
d) “All the other faeries and humans be fearin' us, so let's pretend you're Thisbe and I'm a hot Pyramus”.

Seven Good Reasons to Carry Your Oranges Around in a Pillowcase

This thing is stuffed full of oranges.

Carrying an orange with you is the generally accepted sign of being an okay fellow and an all around good citizen. After all, how often have you heard of a crime being committed by someone holding an orange? Exactly. Over time it's become a shorthand for announcing your good intentions, especially when traveling.

Once you put your orange in a pillowcase, the situation changes. Now you look like you're going to bludgeon someone with your sleepsack o' citrus. But there are more than a few good reasons to choose a pillowcase over the palm of your hand as an orange storage solution. Find out what those reasons are after the jump!

There's no jump.

1. Volume. I feel ridiculous pointing this out, but even a small pillowcase has a greater capacity than your hand. Even if you have insane Wilt Chamberlain hands, the odds are that you can carry more oranges with the aid of a pillowcase.

2. Redundancy. Any systems analyst knows the importance of redundant elements. If your chosen orange isn't cutting it or gets slapped out of your hand (sometimes it happens at Customs), you've got a half-dozen alternatives. Think ahead!

3. Nutrition. Since you only need one orange for social purposes, consider the extra oranges food. Your stomach will thank you, unless you eat six oranges at once, or one orange whole, or two oranges peeled but eaten with the peeler.

4. Efficiency. On the go? Find yourself strapped for time in the morning? Using a pillowcase to transport your oranges removes the need to go searching for an extra bag. Just get out of bed, remove the case from your pillow and you're good to go.

5. Aesthetics. A pillowcase full of oranges can help you cut an attractive figure, particularly if the bag is affixed stylishly to your belt or duct taped to your back. And at night, drift into dreams on your citrus-scented pillow.

6. Finances. Stop wasting money on orange bags!

7. Entertainment. And finally, when you're bored or stranded at a party full of strangers, cut the ice by beating someone senseless with a pillowcase full of oranges.

Next up: stay clean wherever you go with a bar of soap stuffed into a sock.

time for the 25 random things meme

What can bring my weblog out of hibernation? A bombardment of Facebook notifications that people want to know 25 random things about me. Sometimes I wonder if there are twenty-five things about me that warrant public consumption, but then I remember that each one of us is a delicate snowflake. So here you go.

  1. The biggest and oldest turtle I have ever met was named Cesar. He lived at the Heidelberg Zoo. His shell bore scars from a WWII phosphorus bomb.
  2. I have been in a helicopter twice. The first time I flew over a volcano in the Philippines. The second time I flew over a mountain in Austria.
  3. Whenever I go to Vancouver, people think I am an actor. Some of them have insisted that they’ve seen me on television. I have no idea who they think I am.
  4. I was thirty-three when I first visited the States. For a Canadian, this is unusual – most Canadians end up in line at Disneyworld or staring at Mount Rushmore before the age of ten.
  5. When I visited Mount Rushmore, I became so absorbed in photographing people posing for pictures that I forgot to photograph Rushmore itself.
  6. I smiled and nodded in Texas while an old woman told me that 'coloured' people had it really good when they were slaves. Up until that moment I didn't realize that people actually believed those kinds of things or said them out loud.
  7. Speaking of Texas, eat at Benno’s on Seawall Boulevard & 13th when you’re next in Galveston. I overdid it on their jambalaya, but it was worth it. And despite the warning from the old woman in Texas that the 'coloured' people in Galveston would steal my stuff, they did not. In fact, they gave me a magic gem that allowed me to fly, in return for which I promised to come back and protect their kingdom one day in the future, 'when our peaceful lives are threatened once again by the forces of Evil'.
  8. I went to the movies twice when I was in Australia. I watched Supersize Me in Sydney and Before Sunset in Melbourne.
  9. Holiday Isle, the Florida Keys resort where the Kokomo Tiki Bar is located, was the saddest resort I’d ever seen. I felt bad for the Jimmy Buffett cover band.
  10. The Dead Milkmen’s declaration that they believed in swordfish made me believe in The Dead Milkmen.
  11. I do not know what sorbitol is, but if I had to guess, I’d say it was another name for citric acid. Update: it is not citric acid. Also, I lost my virginity in a dorm room in a girl’s residence. That is all.
  12. I can’t remember the last time I got in a physical fight with someone. I think I was in grade school. I hit someone. I can’t remember who he was, but I remember that he was ugly, and that the act of hitting him made me so incredibly angry that I burst into tears. That did not do much for my reputation.
  13. When I need to sleep, I try to list off Buffy episodes in my head in order. I can get up to the seventh season, but once I hit that last season I start to forget, because seriously, who cares about season seven.
  14. I crack jokes because whenever I have nothing constructive to say. Those who know me, know that I am constantly cracking jokes.
  15. As a late Christmas gift, my married-to-me person gave me a red Swingline stapler. It is brighter and more beautiful than anything else in my office, with the possible exception of the phone book. But can a phone book staple papers together? Advantage: stapler.
  16. People used to ask me why I generally dated women who were taller than me. I told them it was a matter of sheer statistical likelihood.
  17. I can feel my foot in my shoe. For most people this would be no big deal, but for me it’s a small victory. After my back surgery in November of 2007, nerve compression and whatever else left with a numb foot and a lower leg that I could barely feel. It’s taken over a year to get enough feeling back to claim that what I’m feeling is indeed feeling, and not just random nerve impulses that alternately mimic hot pins, hot iron bars and hot flames.
  18. Last night I kept waking up in a claustrophobic panic. I don’t know why. Also, I had a spontaneous nosebleed in my sleep. Am I going to die? Yes, of course I am.
  19. I’m going to phone my wife and see what’s up. Hold on.
  20. Here’s what’s up: she’s writing a quick entry; sent out a broadcast message for her Grace in Small Things group; lots of stuff, but not much with that stuff yet (that’s verbatim; I don’t know what she means); and an Intrepid Tuesday update on Five Star Friday.
  21. I have a new old job. I’ve gone from a Communications Consultant to Policy Analyst. This means that I can no longer tell people that I’m a speechwriter (even though I’ve written a speech and drafed a media release since the change), which sounds pretty damn cool. The funny thing is that my work as a policy analyst is ten times more interesting and varied.
  22. I read PostSecret and smirk at people and their secrets. Then I feel bad for smirking.
  23. If I were to write erotic vampire fiction under a pen name, I would first have to read erotic vampire fiction to get a sense of the genre. This is why I will never write erotic vampire fiction.
  24. "Sylvain," she breathed, "your teeth are conspicuous!" The moon was full. "Let’s get sexy with the blood and the sex and the crazy confusion between pain and pleasure, then," said Sylvain. "Swoon!" she moaned. Then a werewolf showed up and they all got freaky. By Agglethorpe Hardington.
  25. I used to burn things with a magnifying glass so much as a kid that I damaged my eyes. Now I am partly colour-blind.

handy new FAQ

Owing to the volumes of mail I get every day, some by post, some by e-, some by dragon, I’ve decided to put up an FAQ. But since it’s depressing for me to go through the questions and retype them, I’m just posting the answers. I’m sure that you questioners out there can pair up your question socket with my answer plug and create a current out of that.

    1. Frequently.

    2. No, she is not.

    3. Grothnar, The Dragon Beyond Time.

    4. Asbestos pants.

    5. Like an acorn with feet, actually.

    6. If I had ideas I’d be a successful novelist.

    7. Still like an acorn with feet, sorry.

    8. Jesus.

    9. Good question. He’s not really a big lizard or anything but a sapphire monster encircling the outer membrane of the universe. His incursions into realspace are difficult for humans to perceive, but in general his presence is responsible for all anxiety and some fellatio.

    10. A sprig of mistletoe. It doesn’t sound too nasty to me, but mistletoe is poisonous, and anyway I’m not a Norse god.

    11. Phobos, Deimos and Hidden Charlie.

    12. By dint of a shiv inserted carefully beneath the dermis.

    13. I remember polders and genever but not much else.

    14. Money.

top 6 novels about work

How do you summarize six novels in under 350 words? Like this, apparently.

Modern-day troubadour Beck once said “I ain’t gonna work for no soul-sucking jerk”. Bemoan your office-drone fate with the following fine reads.

Don Quixote (1499) – The first acknowledged novel in the English language is about a dreamer who lands his dream job – literally. Having overdosed on a diet of cheap romances, the Don decides to become a knight errant. He spends five hundred pages getting beaten up.

North and South (1855) – Elizabeth Gaskell tells the story of Margaret Hale, a young middle-class woman who finds herself sympathizing with the plight of mill workers in northern England. Impoverished and uprooted, the workers’ lives are ruled by infernal machines that occasionally strip stray limbs from the careless.

Bartleby the Scrivener (1856) – Herman Melville captured the alienation of urban office life with this novella about the forlorn Bartleby, who deflects all requests for work with the evasive reply “I would prefer not to”.

The Jungle (1906) – Do you worry that your lean ground beef may contain a small percentage of factory worker? The Jungle is a stirring story of Lithuanian immigrants who come to Chicago looking for a better life. At the risk of spoiling the plot, a better life is not what they find. Upton Sinclair’s exposé pushed reforms that led to the regulation of the meatpacking industry.

Work Is Hell (2004) – Pardon me. Are you suggesting that a collection of Matt Groening comic strips about white collar wage slavery is any less worthy of inclusion on this list than a novel? Well fie on you, sir. I’ll give you a good glove-slapping in the town square.

Then We Came to the End (2007) – Set in a Chicago ad agency at the crest of the late ‘90s tech boom, Joshua Ferris’ novel is narrated by a collective “we” of office drones. As the recession sets in and layoffs tear away at the corporate body, the “we” shrinks to an anxious, paranoid core. One of my favourite new novels of the last few years.

and the mutant poodle too

As part of my new commitment to including content on my site that adds value to internet discourse, and partly because I find you attractive, here is a list of all the animal-related reasons David Banner became The Hulk on the seventies TV show. The full list of hulk rationales can be found on Kenneth Johson's highly funny Hulk Out List.

Trouble with animals:

Being mauled by a bear

Being bit by a dog

Being pushed down a mountainside by a bigfoot impersonator

Somehow running into a bear trap

Placed in a small room with a ravenous black panther

Kicking over a beehive and then being surprised when the bees are mad at him

Being placed in a cage with an angry gorilla

Trying to run away from a nasty prison work camp, only to fall through a rotted bridge, and then being bitten by a rattlesnake

Falling in a pitfall set by the crazed man who is hunting David on his private island, and then being stung by the scorpion when trying to climb out

Being thrown under a New Orleans Mardi Gras parade float by a mean guy in a gorilla suit who gives David a few kicks for good measure

Being thrown into a holding pen with an angry bull by mean cowboys, hitting his head on the ground, and while he lays on the ground trying to recover, having the bull literally kick his behind (and his side, and his leg, and his gizzard, etc)

Being placed in a dumpster by the two garbage collectors who think he's a thief, and who don't believe him when he says "Hey! There are rats in here!", and then being bitten by rats, which would upset me too

*

Okay, I'll go you one better than animals. Here are all the water- and fire-related reasons.

Water:

Being hit with a blast of steam in the face while trying to turn off a nuclear reactor in mid-meltdown

Having two mean football players snap wet towels at him and shove him into a steam room, which they've turned on to full blast

Falling into the churning water of a boathouse, and then inexplicably being dragged repeatedly over the paddlewheel

Attempting to turn off boiling hot water for a wax maker, only to have the faucet break off in his hand and scald him, and then inexplicably slipping and rolling around in same boiling hot water

Helping Ray Walston out with a magic trick by allowing himself to be chained up and put in a tank of water, only to find that ole drunk Ray forgot to leave the escape key inside the tank

Wandering around in the service ducts of a hotel a la Die Hard, only to accidentally yank several of the steam pipes loose and get a full blast of hot steam

Beaten up by a couple of punks under the Santa Monica Pier, who ask him for his wallet, query him why he only has $5 on him, and then forcibly baptize him several times

Being lassoed by mean cowboys and dragged behind their horses across a bunch of dirt and rocks, and then being dragged into the river

Being beaten up and thrown down a well

Tied up by the Japanese mob in San Francisco and thrown in his bathtub with the shower blasting scalding hot water on him (why he doesn't simply get out of the tub is a mystery)

Trying to help a sweet old lady with her robbery, only to have one of her mean friends chain him up and throw him into the bay. (underwater hulkout)

Fire and 'splosions:

Having a burning plank fall on his head while trying to get a horse out of a burning barn

Getting trapped in the middle of a forest fire

Getting trapped in the middle of another forest fire so that burning branches keep falling on him and setting him on fire, and a giant, burning tree falls directly on him as the last straw

Being caught in an explosion on the edge of the fire that throws him into a tumbling, rolling pile of large, heavy pipes

Foolishly trying to open the door to the shed of airplane propellant that is on fire, and then being caught in the explosion

Foolishly running in and trying to help a man who brought a lit cigarette into a room full of toxic vapors, only to have an explosion throw him across the room and into the row of heavy C02 containers, which all fall on him

Trapped in a burning room with ten other people by the crazed mercenary who is trying to capture the Hulk, and then trying with everybody else to ram open the door with a jagged metal shelf set, only to get his hand caught between the edge of the shelf set and the door during a group ram

Having several clay pots broken over his head in the middle of the now-burning room (why is the room always burning?), and then knocking an entire case of same clay pots onto same head, and then, while lying very still and struggling not to get angry, having his pants catch fire

Smacked in the head by a crazed bible quoter in a back storeroom, and then waking up to discover that not only has the guy set the room on fire (again!) but that David himself is now on fire

There are at least one hundred more things that have angered David Banner sufficiently to push him over the edge. A quick scan of the list makes it clear that a) Banner lives in a Hobbesian nightmare of brutal criminals, thuggish cops and a criminally apathetic populace; and b) he is incredibly, unbelievably clumsy.

the appliance clothes

image from BoingBoing Gadgets

Via BoingBoing Gadgets, a 1949 ad for a Man-from-Mars Radio Hat. The creators could have plumped for greater efficiency and called it a Martian Radio Hat, but I can see where that would prove confusticating for some folk. But the ad did get me thinking about other possible appliance-clothing combos that would set the world to talking.

The Dishwasher Slacks
The Carwash Jacket
The iPhone Thong
The Breadmaker Twill Polo Top for Men and Women
The Projectile Parka
The Letter Opener Scrunchie
The Stovetop Dress
The Range Hood Hood
The Damp Socks

I know, you're wondering why I'm not rich beyond my wildest dreams. I think it's because my dreams are so very, very tame.

UPDATE: The Wii Wig

alternate titles for Harlan Ellison's I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream

I Have No Tea And I Must Steep
I Have No Teeth And I Must Floss
I Have No Thirst And I Must Quench
I Have No Cap And I Must Doff
I Have No Pants And I Must Leave the House
I Have No Proust And I Must Bore (my wife)
I Have No Yeast And I Must Leaven
I Have No Car And I Must Needlessly Pollute While Perpetuating a Culture of Individualistic Excess
I Have No Midichlorians And I Must Be Fucking Joking. Midichlorians?
I Have No Life And I Must Blog
I Have No Blog And I Must Rant
I Have No Snipes And I Must Act
I Have No Sponge And I Must Sop
I Have No Affected Area And I Must Apply Liberally
I Have No Clue And I'm Your Boss
I Have No Bongos And I Must Start A Drum Circle in the Park Because I Am A Giant Asshole
I Have No Knees And That Is Gross
I Have No Pooch And I Must Screw
I Have No Stake and I Must Push My Irrelevant Agenda
I Have No Flair And I Must Distinguish Myself in Today's Competitive Marketplace
I Have No Porn And I Might As Well Do Something Productive

Everything I Needed to Know About Matt Damon I Learned at the Movies

Last night I went to see the new Matt Damon biopic The Bourne Ultimatum, starring Matt Damon himself as the fresh-faced young assassin who outwitted the CIA, NSA, NKVD, and the Illuminati and some Hutterites to gain control over his destiny and become a big new Hollywood star. You don't see him going to Boston and writing the screenplay for Good Will Hunting with his Afflecky pal, but that's the part of the story that everyone already knows, right? The Bourne Ultimatum will tell you everything you never suspected about Matt Damon. To wit:

  1. Matt Damon has the blandly handsome features of an all-American college quarterback from the 1940s, which makes it all the more surprising when he punches you in the larynx and throws you over a bridge.

  2. Matt Damon is capable of hopping from country to country in seconds, but this is western Europe we're talking about, so it's not as amazing as it sounds. He may or may not have the power of teleportation.

  3. You will do exactly as Matt Damon says if you want to live.

  4. All doors on Earth unlock themselves for Matt Damon.

  5. If you are in a crowd standing next to Matt Damon, and it crosses your mind that you might like to lift his wallet or have sex with his nearest female relative, Matt Damon will break your arm in five places in the time it takes him to eat a french fry.

  6. Matt Damon can kill you while reading Harry Potter and not lose that childlike sense of wonder he experienced when he first discovered J.K. Rowling's magical world of enchantment.

  7. Matt Damon answers the door by leaping out the back window, jumping across rooftops, outfoxing Interpol for no particular reason and then calling you from your jacket pocket. And you weren't even wearing a jacket when you knocked on his door.

  8. Matt Damon's urine has the sweet scent and taste that signals the onset of Type II diabetes. He doesn't know yet.

  9. Matt Damon was personally bankrolling Trent Reznor's career. This is why so many people were trying to kill him.

  10. Always take the elevator. If you use the staircase you take the risk of running into Matt Damon, who will stab you in the kidneys as he passes by. It's not personal, it's a reflex.

  11. Matt Damon does not answer to Matthew. You can walk right up to him screaming 'Matthew!' but he'll just keep playing his Wii like you're not there.

  12. European subways are outfitted with security systems or turnstiles to prevent fare jumpers. They are all programmed to ignore Matt Damon. In fact, Matt Damon has a permit to run from one end the world to the other without stopping. He has a special permit from Neptune to breathe underwater.

  13. Matt Damon sprints 22 out of every 24 hours. In order to maintain this pace, he must eat twice his body weight every day. He lives next to an Olive Garden restaurant and really takes advantage of their bottomless soup offer.

  14. Matt Damon is invincible once he gets behind the wheel of a car, just like everybody else.

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 sporky.net 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.

Palinode's big 5 Harry Potter predictions

There are only two days to go to the release of the latest and last Harry Potter book, and speculation on the contents is still a’brewing. The problem with all the feverish Harry Potter predictions is that the fans are too close to the material. They’ve studied the books, scoured the movies, memorized the characters’ names and generally gotten all crunked over the series. I do not have this problem. I’ve read maybe a page or two from one of the books. I’ve seen the movies but refused to remember anything of what I saw, except for the fact that Ralph Fiennes is made up to look like a big penis. In short, I have no emotional connection to any of the delightful characters at Hog-something academy, which leaves me free to get at the beating, throbbing heart of Harry Potter and the Something-something.

1. It was all a dream.

Harry wakes up in his bed, having dreamed the entire septology after a heated night with a Horcrux. He discovers his wallet has been stolen by the Horcrux and goes to the police station to report the theft. The policeman at the desk asks him to take a seat. Harry gets a Snickers bar from the vending machine and waits around for a while, but after an hour of waiting he gives up and goes in to the office. He doesn’t do much work and ends up thinking about the incredibly involved dream he had the night before. Then he buys some golf clubs online.

This may surprise some readers, but Rowling has cunningly laid a number of clues in the previous books, the chief one being that magic does not exist in the real world.

2. It was all a crazy dream.

Harry wakes up in an insane asylum. The reader finds out that the death of his parents caused a psychotic break from reality, and Harry’s been spending the last seven years calling the psych nurse Dumbledore, screaming in Latin and waving a stick he found in the yard at the orderlies. After a daring attempt to escape from Hogwarts Mental Hospital, he undergoes shock treatment and a lobotomy. Ron smothers him with a pillow, breaks a window and runs away.

3. Harry Potter is Voldemort.

I gather that Harry’s nemesis is some fellow named Voldemort. Time for Boffo Storytelling Rule #5: whenever a protagonist has a mysterious antagonist, they are the same person. At the end of the seventh book, Harry will lead Hermione, Ron and whoever else is important into a dungeon somewhere. Then he will remove his nose and say, “Ah hah! I’m Voldemort after all! Mwahahaha!” Readers are going to love it.

4. Voldemort is the hero.

Boffo Storytelling Rule #7: The antagonist is really the good guy. After Harry tracks down all the Horcruxes and is set to destroy Voldemort, the villain suddenly says, “You don’t understand a thing, do you?” Then he retells the entire story in terms that reverse all the relationships and turn the entire story inside-out. As Harry comes to grips with the realization that he’s been the evil one all along, Dumbledore shows up and starts kicking the crap out of Harry. Hermione and Ron and Draco and the others join in. Then they party with the Death Eaters. They all eat some Death Crepes, some Death Hors d'Oeuvres and big heaping plates of Death Cake a la mode. Those Death Eaters, they know how to put out a spread.

5. Harry goes to the dark side.

Harry has a vision of Ginny or somebody dying in childbirth. Voldemort appears and tells Harry that he can prevent it if he learns the dark side of magic. Based on that brief vision and some hazy promises from a man who murdered his family, Harry becomes a disciple of evil. When Voldemort unleashes his Death Eaters in a coordinated attack on the Ministry of Magic, Harry slaughters the entire student body. In a final battle between Harry and Ron, Harry is horribly burned but ends up starring in a series of inspirational TV movies.

UPDATE: I started reading the latest HP novel and am now up to page 250 or so. So far, all of my predictions have come true. Also, JK Rowling appears to have built in a secret code that, when deciphered, reveals that the entire Harry Potter corpus is a love letter addressed to me. JK, you minx - I'm a happily married man.

eight things

If there’s one thing that I do well, it’s grumble that no one ever tags me for a blog meme. I don’t grumble about it online, because then people will tag me for a blog meme, and if there’s one thing I hate, it’s blog memes. So I keep it to myself. But a couple of days ago, both Ozma of Blog and Knuckletoes tagged me for the same dance. I felt like a debutante with two handsome heirs fighting over me. They were wanting to know eight facts and/or habits about me. The truth is that I have no habits, and all facts about me have turned out to be lies, which have turned out to be lines of dialogue from early drafts of the script for Krull. Weird, I know – but true! But not true!


  1. I often imagine the future as a gigantic iron gate with a huge padlock holding it shut and a sign that looks like an enormous post-it note saying 'Under Renovations - The future is CLOSED until further notice – Come back soon!' Of course, everyone knows that ‘under renovations’ is a euphemism for 'out of business'.
  2. I love films, but my opinion of an entire two hour’s worth of movie can turn on a single exchange or ridiculous detail. There’s a moment in The Matrix, for example, that completely ruins the movie for me. It’s not Keanu Reeve’s posing, or the weird deification of hackers, or the lazy gloss over the basic premise of the film (human beings + ‘a form of fusion’ = efficient energy source?) but the following exchange:

    Neo: What are they?
    Trinity: Squiddies.
    Cypher: Armed sentinels designed for one thing.
    Dozer: Search and destroy.

    That’s two things. Matrix, I hate you.

  3. Based on an old comic book I read as a kid, I used to sleep with a pillowcase or T-shirt laid over my head in case some tentacled monster came in the night to steal my brain. Apparently the monster had the moxie to get in my bedroom, but lacked the tenacity to defeat the Pillowcase Barrier. I quit the habit by the time I was 25 or so. Even though I hadn’t believed in the brain-stealing monster since I was eight, it was really hard to get to sleep at first.
  4. In the real universe where we deserve to live, heat is not result of entropy but a prize given away on a popular game show. Everyone there is extremely cold and the ultimate prize on the show is to be toasty warm for an entire year. Most prize recipients are dismayed when they realize that they have to pay applicable taxes. Some have died from being mobbed for their heat.
  5. What I’m thinking? Is that ‘gravity’ is a satanic pact between secular humanists and homosexuals to keep god-fearing folks from flying, as per the Lord’s intentions. Think about it this way – if we were not meant to fly, then why do we eat so many birds?
  6. After the end of my last world tour, in which countless thousands of screaming fans offered me their bodies and their savings accounts, I looked in the mirror and discovered that I was Scott Stapp. It was the most devastating moment of my life. I scrubbed and scrubbed but couldn't get the Stapp off me.
  7. My greatest fear is that I will turn into a conservative curmudgeon as I get older and that I will be unable to distinguish between the left-wing principles I hold dear and the overprivileged twits that espouse them.
  8. Last night I joined forces with Torquil and Ynyr the Seer to find The Black Fortress and rescue my beloved Lyssa from the clutches of The Beast. Armed with my awesome weapon “The Glave,” I will free my home planet of Krull from The Beast and his army of Slayers and open up a Pontiac dealership* where the Black Fortress now stands.

I tag everyone who reads this and their grandchildren.

*The Pontiac dealership subplot of Krull, in which Prince Corwyn strives to find his identity through auto sales despite the wishes of his father King Turlord, did not make it to the screen. Critics have lamented this cut, calling Krull “the greatest auto dealership film never made”. In the first draft of Krull, which went by the working title “On The Lot,” The Black Fortress is already a Pontiac Dealership, and character of The Beast is Hal Snavely, a slick gladhanding salesman bent on ruining life for the good folks of Krulltown. Prince Corwyn is an employee named Jim Buick who foils Snavely's plans and gets the girl. For some reason there's still a King Turlord.

predictions for the next century

If current trends continue as they are, we will see wonders in abundance. For example:

1)The internet

In the next century, the internet will be available in every home on Earth and the Inner System of Confederated Planets. Still no wi-fi in the Oort Cloud. Despite its reach, the internet will no longer be used by ordinary people. Instead, genetically modified howler monkeys will IM each other all day long, upload amateur porn and hurl insults at each other, which will allow the rest of us to lead productive lives.

2)Food

All food will, of course, be available from home replicators for pennies a month. In most countries, though, dining out will be mandatory, and exclusive use of the replicator for a 24 hour period will entail punitive loss of orgones.

3)Insects

There will be no goddamned insects. You hear me? Enough with that shit. But you can expect a sharp uptick in man-eating spiders.

4)Orthography

In one hundred years' time, no one will know the meaning of the word 'orthography'. The future marks the return of the Golden Age of Spelling, with lots of unnecessary e's and plenty of double consonants thrown in. This will be all Geoffrey Chaucer's fault (see below).

5)Baby boomers

Yes, they'll still be around. Anti-aging therapies will create a race of mummified gerontocrats who continue to wrestle popular culture into submission. From beneath the hollowed-out caverns of Colorado the Immortal Council of 12 will legislate all matters of taste. Their motto: "Take It Easy".

6)Religion

There will be only one official religion, the Church of Classic Hits And The Best of Today. Although services will traditionally fall on a Sunday, congregations are encouraged to “tune in” and “sing along” any old time, especially while driving down the boulevard in a snazzy convertible. This informal worship will be called “the snazz”. The Catholic Church will be reduced to a bunch of homeless men hanging around industrial parks.

7)Women

There will be no women in the 22nd century. In January of 2072, all the men will wake up to find a note on the fridge saying “Take care”. Every six months a glittering alien spaceship will descend from the Oort Cloud and deposit a few thousand male infants, who will stare wordlessly and make mewling noises instead of human cries. An expeditionary force to find the putative Planet of Women will be launched in 2101. For all the men of 2107 know, the members of the expedition have located the Planet but elected to stay there.

8)Geoffrey Chaucer

The invention of a working time machine in 2009 will turn out to be the most decisive event of the future, even though it will have taken only one round trip to the 1300s before being destroyed within seconds of its return. The instigator of the destruction will be the time-travelling stowaway Geoffrey Chaucer, sometime medieval poet and tyrannical genius able to work his will on the minds of men by means of alien technology. After the decade-long battle with the Immortal Council of 12, a peace treaty will be struck in which the Council rule on matters of taste and Chaucer become Official Head of the Inner System of Confederated Planets And The Principality of the Oort Cloud (ISCPPOC, or Iskapok). Chaucer will then declare all history between 1400 and 2009 a dead zone, “a vaste Marshelande withoute Croppes, that is yclept a Middenne”. When greeted with the news of the 2072 departure of the women, he will say, “Lo, my nosethirles waxe wood”. His reign will never end.

departmental memo on new totems

FOR IMMEDIATE USE

Our totem spirits are way out of date. Here’s the updated list. Please use the updated totem animal list in all future dealings with our common mythos from now on. Don’t forget to place your old list in a recycling container.

P.

Totem: Salamander
Attribute(s): fire, brilliance, inapproachability
Represents: celebrity

Newt
looks like salamander
celebrity impersonator

Owl
silence, speed, murder
Murderail, the monorail that kills

Cat
laziness, vapidity, eats anything, frequent vomiting
teenagers

Dog
Slavishness, perkiness, floor-shitting
P.F. Chang’s server

Wolf
ferocious forest-dwelling predator
Darryl Hannah

Pelican
disgusting feeding habits
ex-roommate

Cloned Seagull
exact genetic replica of another seagull
cloned hippie

Gopher
wears cardigans, eats own young
Joss Whedon

Squirrel
stores nuts in cheeks
Jenna Jameson

Rabbit
big ears, long yellow teeth, smell of urine
a kid I knew in grade three who used to let the air out of my bike tires

Badger
vicious, sharp claws, can actually turn around inside its skin
Dick Cheney

Robot Badger
same but robot
Dick Cheney’s post-apocalypse robot body

Meerkat
awesomeness
Superman or Edward Gorey character

a selection of zen parables

As long as we have had Zen, and parables, we have had Zen parables (and hockey). Even though the origin of the Zen parable, like the origin of fish sticks, is shrouded in mystery, we do know that the Zen parable is ancient technique designed to instruct the listener in the mysteries of Zen by clearing the listener's sinuses. Zen parables range from simple but deceptive questions (eg. "What is the sound of one hand masturbating") to long stories and even unusual items like the instruction manual for the '76 Chevy Basho, a family station wagon built with no doors. I have collected several of the rarest and most expensive ones for you.

*

One day a disciple met Zen Master Harold coming down the road, avoiding ants and eating a stick of cured beef.

"Zen Master Harold," said the disciple, "is there greater Buddha nature in a Slim Jim or a fish sandwich?"

"I have no idea," responded Zen Master Harold.

"Ah, you wish me to reflect my question back on me for further pondering," the disciple reasoned.

"No, I'm not actually a Zen master," said Zen Master Harold. "Zen Master Harold is my name".

"Oh," said the disciple. "But your book -"

"I wrote a novelization of a second-tier George Romero flick for some quick cash in the seventies," said Zen Master Harold. "What is wrong with you people?"

*

A man walks up to the owner of a horse and says, "I bet you 500 bucks that I can make your horse laugh and then cry". The owner says, "You're on". The man approaches the horse and tries every joke he can think of. When that fails to make the horse laugh, he then relates the most tragic stories he can think of, often throwing in noble but doomed horse characters for relevance. The horse neither guffaws nor sheds a single tear. Eventually the man returns to the owner. "Your horse is deaf," the man says.

*

It came to pass that two generals of mighty armies met on the field of battle. They discussed the best private schools for their children and speculated on the nature of financial markets. One reminded the other of a longstanding invitation to dinner with the family that had never been taken up on. Then they shed their human faces and revealed their trans-dimensional reptilian aspect, which allowed them to make out on several planes of reality at once.

*

A man walks up to the owner of a horse and says, "I bet you 500 bucks that I can make your horse laugh and then cry". The owner says, "My horse is deaf". "No problem," says the man, "for I am a practioner of le pantomîme". The owner gives the man five hundred dollars to go away. Oh, c'est drôle.

*

Once there was a well-known philosopher who decided to learn all that there was to learn about Zen and thereby become the next Grand Zen King. For many years he studied every Zen text known to humanity. He wrote copiously on Zen, opened up a school of Zen thinking and even gained the powers of immortality and levitation.

Finally, when he was a very old man, the philosopher decided that he had attained sufficient Zen mastery to challenge the Grand Zen King for the his Zen crown and his royal fleet of solid gold horses. He climbed to the Castle on Top of the Mountain. When he arrived, the King's servants informed the philosopher that the King was visiting the Summer Palace on the Coast. The philosopher travelled to the Summer Palace, where he was told the King was out at the moment, but would he mind waiting? The philosopher said that he did not mind waiting, and sat in a comfortable chair with a magazine to pass the time.

That was five hundred years ago. The philosopher has read the magazine at least 200,000 times. He is still waiting. Meanwhile the Grand Zen King has gone to live on the moon.

*

Two Zen scholars were sitting around the apartment on a Friday evening. One of them said, "Let us play a game".

The other one said, "That sounds like a good idea. What game did you have in mind?"

The first one said, "I have already won".

The other one said, "At being an asshole?"

crime tips

Not many of you know this, but I have had a long career as a criminal. I’ve done all the crime things – the b&e’s, the bunko scams, the email scams, all the embezzlements (business, non-profit, nursery school), as well as montes of up to a dozen cards’ complexity. So behold the fruits of my wisdom.

Are you beholding my wisdom fruits yet, or are you reading this sentence? The education system has brainwashed you.

*

If you dip your fingertips in hot wax before committing a crime, the pain will keep you focused on your objective.

*

The worst crime gig is cat burglar. Cats have nothing. Nothing but sharp claws and unfenceable urine.

*

In order to steal from a crowded place during regular business hours, coat yourself in rank filth. No one will come near you, and you will be able to carry out your business (wink wink) unmolested (heh heh).

*

In a daring pre-dawn raid on December 11, 1978, over five million dollars in cash and jewelry was stolen from Lufthansa Air. It was the largest robbery in America at the time. Several murders attended the aftermath of the heist in order to cover up the trail of tainted money. In 1990, Martin Scorsese made the film Goodfellas, a biopic about a mobster who was peripherally involved in the robbery. Martin Scorsese profited handsomely from the film. He is a criminal.

*

A shiv is an improvised weapon made by sharpening or refashioning an otherwise innocuous implement, such as a spoon, a toothbrush or a stick of dynamite. A shank is a kind of shiv made from the metal shank of a boot. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about shivs:
• The character Richard B. Riddick in the films Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick coined the term "shiv-happy". Shivs are a frequently used form of weapon in The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay.
I’m glad that future generations will get to know about the use of improvised weapons in a video game based on a couple of forgettable sci-fi flicks from the dawn of the 21st century. If Jimmy Wales made money from Wikipedia, he would almost certainly be put in jail. Wales’ criminal genius lies in not charging for access to Wikipedia. While this appears to be legal, he should still be punished. With a shiv.

*

Amass a large amount of money. Buy Sony. You lousy piece of crap, you.

*

A particularly hot area for novice criminals these days is stealing intellectual property. In order to steal intellectual property you will need the following easy-to-obtain items:

  • head of Cory Doctorow (fresh)

  • head-sized canister

  • portable buzzsaw

  • blender OR food processor

  • scoop

  • 1 dozen or so planaria (flatworms)

  • mask, bag with $ sign

First, you need to find your Cory Doctorow, which will have the head you need. This is easy: just go to Disneyland or any seminar full of eggheads who want to pirate files without consequences. Eventually Cory Doctorow will show up. Remove head and place in canister for storage. Next remove the top of the skull with buzzsaw and scoop out brain with scoop. Mash up brain in blender and feed to planaria. If you are truly the criminal you make yourself out to be, the planaria will absorb Cory Doctorow’s memories and spell out his banking PIN with their bodies. Did I tell you to grab his wallet along with his head?

*

I am writing this in the middle of a workday. Some people call it stealing company time. I contend that I am appropriating corporate temporal resources.

the increasingly specific meme

In ancient times there was a Schmutzie who was married to me. She participated in the internet blood rite known to post-Dawkinites as a meme. I continue the meme in memory of her.

10 FAVORITES

  • Favorite Color: Gold of the slaughtered honeybee. I mean blue. Didn’t mean to bring up the bee thing.

  • Favorite Food: My curried cauliflower recipe, which is hotter than the core of the sun and just as tasty.

  • Favorite Month: September.

  • Favorite Song: My favourites in pop music always shift. I prefer to ride the wave of my taste instead of dropping anchor. So right now I’m going to go with “All My Friends” by LCD Soundsystem, a group whose sound is so geared to my jaded mid-thirties demographic that I may be imagining them.

  • Favorite Movie: I like any movie where Lily Tomlin sleeps with Keith Carradine and Jeff Goldblum travels around on a chopper bike for three hours. It’s Robert Altman’s stoned mashup of country music and dirty politics Nashville! If you travel back in time to 1975 and only see one movie all year, this should be it.

  • Favorite Sport: Sports are the creation of the secret athletic agenda that controls our liberal media and has taken over our public execution arenas with meaningless contests of physical skill. If we could root out this cancer at the heart of our society, then all our social problems would topple like evil dominoes.

  • Favorite Season: Fall.

  • Favorite Day of the week: Saturday.

  • Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Butterscotch ripple. When I was young I was sorry that it existed only in ripple form, but in retrospect I’m glad.

  • Favorite Time of Day: That hour or so of horizontal gold light before sunset known as magic hour. It puts me in mind of our fallen honeybee brothers and sisters. Damn, there I go again.

9 CURRENTS

  • Current Mood: Bee-mindful, bee-wistful.

  • Current Taste: Coffee.

  • Current Clothes: Black short-sleeve button-up shirt, khaki Dickies and a nice pair of Keen sneakers.

  • Current Desktop: Are we talking computer desktop? An image that I snipped from Andrea Heimer’s site.

  • Current Toenail Color: Lepidopter.

  • Current Time: Ten to three. That’s not only the time, it’s also pretty good odds.

  • Current Surroundings: Divided boardroom. On Monday I move into an office, where I start my new job. Did I mention that I got promoted? I did, I did.

  • Current Thoughts: Sex, bees, Sylvia Plath, trying to have sex with Sylvia Plath while the bees buzz around us, inability to do so because of all the bees, angrily accusing Sylvia Plath of trying to seduce me.

8 FIRSTS

  • First Best Friend: Bo MacKinnon, whom I met when I was only two. We hung out, tricycled around, went to each other’s birthday parties.

  • First Kiss: You know, I’m not sure I remember. Was I thirteen? Did I come that late to kissing? Man.

  • First Screen Name: Palinode.

  • First Pet: The first pet I remember was a black cat named MacAvity. I remember when he died, but now that I write about it I don't want to relate the story. It was unpleasant.

  • First Piercing: May 4th, 1985, gold stud in my left earlobe.

  • First Crush: Her name was Katrina. Grade 3. Not particularly requited, except on the few occasions when it suited her. She was, as the song goes, a little Dutch girl.

  • First CD: Since I’ve never thrown away a CD in my life, I imagine it’s sitting in a milk crate somewhere. My music snarfing career began with vinyl and cassette, and I vaguely remember buying a 45 for 'Hungry Like the Wolf' in grade 6. In grade 8 I joined the Columbia Music and Tape Club. The first thing I ordered was a cassette tape of The Smith’s 'Meat Is Murder'. I’d never heard The Smiths before but I liked the title.

7 LASTS

  • Last Cigarette: August 3, 2000. It was a dried-up handrolled Drum.

  • Last Drink: On Tuesday after work to celebrate my promotion.

  • Last Car Ride: I caught me a taxi to work this morning. Now there’s a story.

  • Last Kiss: This morning when I said goodbye to Schmutzie.

  • Last Movie Seen: I’m in the middle of watching a pirated screener of The Host. If it weren’t dubbed in Spanish from Korean and subtitled in awkward English, I’d probably enjoy it more.

  • Last Phone Call: I talked with Schmutzie. She wanted me to remind her of something, but god only knows what that thing was.

  • Last CD Played: I think it was either "Lose All Time" by You Say Party! We Say Die! or the B-52s album with "Rock Lobster" on it.

6 HAVE YOU EVERS

  • Have You Ever Dated One Of Your Best Guy/Girl Friends: Twice! The first time did not go well. The second resulted in me standing around drunk in a suit in front of my relatives. What the hell was that about?

  • Have You Ever Broken the Law: Yes, but in a good way.

  • Have You Ever Been Arrested: I've had plenty of run-ins with bored cops, but no arrests.

  • Have You Ever Skinny Dipped: No. It’s cold outside of my clothes. Have you ever worn a suit of night water? Freezing.

  • Have You Ever Been on TV: Back when I was working in TV, I ended up on camera quite often. I was in a room full of smoke, I was doused in freezing cold water, I was laid out on a lawn covered in soot, I struggled in a hospital bed. I did voiceovers. I learned juggling (but not very well), ate fire, did all kinds of silly things.

  • Have You Ever Kissed Someone You Didn’t Know: Oh hell yeah.

5 THINGS

  • Things You’re Wearing: Silver ring with topaz, couple o’ jaunty earrings, 1 niobium nipple ring, a pair of lively boxers.

  • Things You’ve Done Today: Bought a coffee, bought a coffee, bought a coffee. Set controls for the heart of the sun. Optimized my body for light combat.

  • Things You Can Hear Right Now: The grumbling of my computer fan, the click of the keys as I type, a distant thumping in another office, a heavy door clicking shut, the ringing of a phone.

  • Things You Can’t Live Without: Books, a Fine Lady for taking out, the internet, sunshine, my ‘manliness’. And by ‘manliness’ I mean my framed lion-wrestling certificate.

  • Things You Do When You’re Bored: Pace, stretch, stare at an object until everything else goes blurry, wish for a book, compose paragraphs in my head.

4 PLACES YOU’VE BEEN TODAY

  • My office.

  • The food court.

  • The local Second Cup.

  • An elevator. Oh boy oh fucking boy.

3 PEOPLE YOU CAN TELL ANYTHING TO

  • Schmutzie.

  • My old roommate Tony.

  • Benjamin Franklin. He's always amazed at today's technology and faintly amused by how little humanity has changed.

2 CHOICES

  • Black or White: Polar bears, those savage killers of the North, are white. I’ll take black.

  • Hot or Cold: Polar bears, those savage killers of the North, are cold. I’ll take hot.

1 THING YOU WANT TO DO BEFORE YOU DIE

  • I want to learn the art of emulating a Mormon so closely that not even the elite High Guard, with their Mormon-dar, can sense the difference when I enter the Temple. Already I have mastered the techniques of Wearing Shirtsleeves in the Bath and Disapproving of Exposed Female Ankles. Soon the Temple will be mine, and I will crush all who oppose me with a gigantic iron weight that will materialize above my hapless victims. For extra effect the weight will say '10 tons' on it.

euphemisms

Yesterday I picked up John Hodgman's endlessly informative almanac The Areas of My Expertise. Among the many useful topics, including History's Worst Haircuts, Secrets of the Mall of America and a Timeline of the Lobster in America, Hodgman also lists a series of popular hobo terms for alcohol. My favourites include stutter milk, juniper jizz, jazz chowder, and of course, stun gravy. In the spirit of making things up, I've come up with a few more choice nicknames for various kinds of alcohols (can you guess what they are?). In some particular order:

Coma-Cola
Ginger Ale, but with Alcohol
Bile Flyer
Flask Fountain
Teenage Soda
Cheney's Hunting Drops
Tears of Bacchus
Potato Syrup
Purity of Essence
Kilt Squeezings
Old Dr. Slumberditch
Peat Drippings
Loudon Tippenthorpe's Patent Remedy for Sobriety
Monk's Mischief
The Horizontalizer
Pirate Pitch, or Tar's Tar
'Sblood!

Please submit further entries in the comments.

food

Recently Matthew Good reminded me of Tony Pierce's most important, or perhaps most vital, blogging guideline: Do what you fear most. And then do it again. Okay, what I fear most is Photoshopping pictures of my head onto topless pictures of Raymi. Actually, that sounds like the funniest thing ever. What I really fear most are two things:

1) being boring; and
2) the fridge.

These fears dovetail nicely. My fridge illustrates the great gulf between my ambitions and my achievement, between my ideas and my near-total incapacity to focus and follow through. Four weeks ago I woke up with a craving for pad thai and the strange conviction that it would somehow change the course of my life. You know, if I made a big ole wokful of pad thai, then success in all areas of my life would follow. So I sat on the conviction for a week, imagining how good the pad thai was going to be, and all the awards that my writing would get following my noodly success. Three weeks ago I actually went out and bought the ingredients.

Then I found every single reason on earth not to make a simple fucking plate of pad thai. I was too tired; I was going out to see friends; I was wasted drunk; Schmutzie had gone out and I wanted her to be there; I used up the garlic; I used up the lemon juice; once I had too much tofu (I seriously thought one night that I had too much tofu on hand. I don't understand that one either).

We got back from Christmas vacation on Friday, and I began to figure out new reasons not to make the goddamn pad thai. Today I decided I would make spinach and roasted winter vegetable soup, but the local grocery store was out of butternut squash. I came home with half the ingredients for the meal I was going to make.

I plunked down the groceries and thought Fuck It. I'm going to make some pad thai. The recipe called for shrimp. No shrimp. Fuck it, I'll throw in more tofu. I needed lemon juice for the fish sauce-sugar mixture. Again, fuck it, I'll use lime and cut down on the amount a little. No sprouts. Whatever. It's all optional. I started mixing and cutting. I got out the bag of Planter's chopped roasted peanuts. I scooped some out and took another look. The chopped peanuts didn't look right. And they smelled wrong: woody and bitter. I looked at the bag.

I'd bought a bag of chopped walnuts. Chopped walnuts were a deal breaker. Peanuts are not optional in pad thai. Walnuts were for baking. Walnuts went into hideous Christmas cookies and inedible cakes made by unloved aunts. Those little brown nubbins of bitterness heaped up in the measuring cup were telling me that I was a complete failure, an asshole errant bound for a hell where I would eat walnut shortbread cookies dipped in fish sauce for all eternity.

At Schmutzie's sugestion, I threw some frozen Amy's meals in the oven. She had the palak paneer, I had the teriyaki bowl with the brown rice and the parquet flooring tofu. The remaining pad thai ingredients went back into the fridge, except now I don't have enough lime juice for the next batch.

So the fridge and the cupboards are full of all kinds of ingredients, but none of them quite enough for the things I want to make. And I know that if I look my fridge squarely in the shelves and really take stock of its contents, I could make something awesome. But that's scary. Some of that stuff is old. Some of it is covered and you just don't want to open that lid to see what's fermenting within. Some is stuff that you thought you liked, but when you brought it home you never touched it, and now you can't bring yourself to try it on or throw it out. Stupid fridge.

The problem is that taking stock is not only potentially painful, but boring. When you consider every item closely, make decisions about details, enumerate and qualify, it slows time, thickens the air, bloats out each moment until you feel waterlogged and sick. I hate that feeling. I recoil from it. I avoid situations that call for that kind of concentration whenever possible (don't ask me to read out the minutes at a meeting, I start babbling and feeling sleepy).

This is the crap that's in my fridge, top to bottom.

And here's a red cabbage wrapped in plastic wearing a strainer for a hat. It's jaunty. It's dirty. It's all for you.

I'm going to make soup out of that damn thing, just you wait.

God Friday is love

Oh hey! Is it, like, the late hours already? Ha ha, I knew that. Once again I curse NaBloPoMo for keeping me cursedly, nastily awake. And I suppose, since you're here, that you'd like some words. Sometimes I open a book or open up a web page and I can't believe that it's words I came for. It's just shapes and squiggles with a trace of aesthetic interest. I worry that you will come here and your eyes will scan over the shapes, then flick away. So keep your eyes trained. Otherwise you'll never know how many chicken wings from 7-Eleven I can eat before I notice that I'm eating a pile of grease and pale meat. The answer is eleven.

Following on Schmutzie's example, I'm going to give you three things that made me happy today, or at least three positive things. Let them be random and stuffed full of the caprice and shit.

1) Last week I called a meeting with my executive director. My term is coming to an end, and although I've had a casual promise that my term would be extended into 2007, I hadn't received official word. Today I found out that I would still be bringing home my allotment of bacon for another while.

2) Here's a video of Joanna Newsom playing her harp and singing through her nose. She looks like a Gelfing and sings like a chain-smoking twelve-year old, but I love her so. Her new album, Ys, archaic and hypermodern all at once, shows that you can play a harp and still kick the crap out of Loreena McKennitt. Not that you need a harp for that. Just a nice heavy halberd and a thirst for justice.

3) Sometimes an entry will generate paragraph on paragraph of junk, but every so often I'll find myself with passages that have their own worth but don't really fit anywhere, like a well-formed but superfluous limb (although I could always use another arm, for spooning of extra pudding and such). Here's a stump from my review of The Departed.

"We never lived in the Golden Age of Hollywood, when television was unknown and the shared dream was dreamed in dark places with crowds of strangers, and studios pushed out picture after picture, grand, good and indifferent alike. Between the wars, moviegoing was the quintessential shared media experience. By the 1950s, televisions were tunnelling their diodes in more and more households, the studio system that kept stars on screens was beginning to collapse, and that brief cultural bonding moment that was the movies had ended. Ever since we have lived in the receding echo of that moment. Sure, there are theatres, and yes, in those theatres they show shows, and we crowd into darkened rooms to watch the shows they show us, but the experience is different. I'm not calling out to a lost golden age of films - most of my favourite films come from long after the mid-'50s - but much of what we're watching is a half-hearted attempt to reproduce that experience, when movies seemed like a projection from the eye of an arc-lamp god. Now movies are billed as events, in the manner of grand Biblical stories, but studios miss the essential element, the continuum of movies, with epic films cresting the surface of a silver ocean like the blunt heads of whales".