Friday, December 31, 2010

choose your own songs

advertising presents a strange face to the world. on one level, it manages to introduce people to music that actual purveyors of music are unable to successfully share with large audiences. on the other hand, it has a remarkable ability to water down and declaw any genre whatsoever.

shut ins

it's mostly language that causes problems. communication through nonverbal means is remarkably efficient, which is the main reason people need to declare a single day next month to be non-talk day. non-talk day will commence with a gala brunch, during which people will be free to fill their plates with french toast, omelettes, flaky pastries, and sliced fruits without any need to maintaint a polite level of vocalized noise. perhaps while eating they might wish to wave or salute fellow brunchees, but there should be no obligation for this.

the day will continue with a series of audiovisual presentations, including instrumental musical performance and silent film. on numerous occasions throughout the day, breaks will be given for the further digestion and rest people might need after the large meals and snacks to be distributed on a thorougly regular basis.

in the evening, though there will be no conversation, guests are welcome to partake in televised or broadcast entertainments, even if these should include speech sounds. a day of not talking should not chiefly involve non-listening, and certainly should not be used as an excuse to dismiss oneself from the many responsibilities of media consumption that may arise.

this would taste just fine

why are certain people described as sarcastic? it seems that most people make a comment at some point during a typical day that expresses a skeptical or doubtful opinion in ironic terms. at this point, a sarcastic person is probably as common as a chocolate-eating person. are there people who are described as chocolate eaters?

oh man, if you've never met him--he really likes chocolate. so, you know, don't go waving those toffee bars around without thinking about the potential consequences. i had to warn you, right?

oh, just watch out anyway

it's not important to be able to deal with chaos. chaos is much less important than the ordinary trouble that comes along a couple of times a day. the little steps to failure are more significant than the giant ones.

stop protecting stuff

most things from the store are more fun when they're a little worn

familiarity as a science


open and shut.

dime novel.

between the lines.

what's with all these metaphors? it's as if literature is the dullest or least imaginative thing imaginable. perhaps it would be better to take movies and show them on the printed page, so that people would be convinced they are superior to the objects they view on screen.

this would solve a lot of problems. for one thing, it would eliminate a lot of the concerns about being condescended to. virtually everyone feels superior to a flimsy old book. the book has been on its way out for at least the past eighty years. when it's time to get a new perspective on some other artform, best to project it in the shape of a book.

never trust a bon bon

When you hide your true feelings from people, it only invites them to pry even more. It's like a scavenger hunt. Everyone likes scavenger hunts, especially when they're the one who's set up the scavenger hunt and sent everyone else scurrying around the city looking for clues. Even better when the city is your mind, right?

For most people, the key to hiding information is to make sure the person looking for the information doesn't know what form the answer will take. It could be that someone is looking to figure out your favorite recipe or childhood food, but what they're actually going to discover is that you are three hundred dollars in to a novelty popcorn collection. These sorts of secrets are easy to hide, because the seeker is looking up the wrong barrel of candy.

What is more difficult is when the person asking the questions is acting like they know the answer already, and he or she is probably right. The best way to distract these people is to admit that the exact answer they have envisioned is in fact the answer, but do so in a confusing way that will throw them off the track. For example, if someone is convinced that you have moved your television to the attic because you are allergic to prime-time dramas, then you should tell them that you moved the television to the attic because those medical shows make you break out in hives. No one will believe you're a hypochondriac if they're the sort of friend who's convinced they already know what you're thinking. It's too confusing to them to discover something by being told the answer, rather than figuring it out themselves, and so the gears will start turning and their next line of questioning will veer far of the track. Just remember: one of the easiest ways to escape the truth is to admit it in a context that makes it seem overly simplified.

winter is tough on the whole experience

it is extremely difficult to operate a computer while wearing mittens

milk bottles, for example

what exactly is the deal with squiggles? i would think, after so many years of innovation in the writing instrument sector, there would be at least a couple of solutions available to default to the creation of straight, orderly lines. so many objects are better designed than the actual pens we use to design objects.

lalliopreten delbn excerpt

In the future, far too many people are late for their pant fittings. Time and space may have been conquered with the advances in pan-physical technology, but that odesn'[t prevent folks from the usual needs: air, wather, power bars, and tight-fitting pants. Strangely, though, it seems that while most people stand in their ribbed cotton undershirts listening to the rhythms of their own galactic starboats, the humble tailors, stilll poorly ompensated in a neo-communicative economy, wait with stale plates of sstrawberry shortcake and tiny bank accounts.

this is a recipe for disaster

eat chocolate chips until your eyeballs itch.

fire your third-favorite sneakers.

lie on the floor for seven hours a day and call it a job.

then, talk about your day.

really truly yes, but i hadn't realized it

first year spent entirely in one apartment since 2005

bees, too, i bet

computers have the following problem: when disconnected from other computers for an extended period of time, they become surly, lost, overtaken by feelings of inadequacy. after being reconnected, the urge to communicate so overwhelms the computer that it becomes temporarily a soul of its own, unwilling to complete any other task.

dreaming in miniature

i constructed a fence from candy and nuts.

you cannot take things from me, only items

watery mashed potatoes - really no worse than mashed potatoes

too many sweatshirts today might just be the right number of sweatshirts a year from now

your hats will never complain that you bought more hats

they will, however, die

when people ask you how much soda you drink, that might cause you to drink more soda

the sleeping bag lives another year.

and yes, they are making the pants shorter these days. how will the universe make up for this horrible plague of shorter pants?

the future asked for an iou

three of my toes fell off in my sleep last night. i wouldn't ordinarily be bothered by this, but i had dreamed, as i slept through the tornado outside, that i would awaken with the ability to jump on one foot further than any living person. i dreamed it was just one foot that possessed this ability, but when i awoke, the one thing i couldn't be sure of was whether it was the left or the right.


emily haines doesn't have your back either

Friday, December 10, 2010

tomato style

i remember when dinner was just a meal. now i find myself neck-deep in a bowl of lettuce, hoping there are no giant forks on the horizon.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

lawn furniture sale

we have three kinds. all prices final.

the first is clear, with a healthy coating of chalk dust to give that sense of depth and an academic feel.

the second is tree bark, sort of a camouflage for your home. a new look and texture for your yard or garden. not recommended for use with white or pastel shorts or polos. insect life is a natural part of the patina. coordinates well with wooden porches.

the third is licorice red. a sweet, sensual addition to any decor. not edible, no matter what your neighbor's children may claim.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

return of recipes

1 house
1 rabbit
1 food tray
0 cage

release rabbit into house. leave adequate food in tray. expect chaos.

Monday, November 22, 2010

shame time

let's cast some shame on orange juice. one of the leading factors causing a national trend away from the consumption of citrus fruit, orange juice is taking over. it stains easily, smells odd, and combines poorly with many flavors. in other words, it's a perfectly horrid beverage. why drink orange juice? it fits better in our reusable mugs than a pile of orange slices. and i do not mean the candy kind.

Friday, November 12, 2010

who is worried about giant rabbits?

i am not worried about giant rabbits. i am not even worried about normal or abnormally small-sized rabbits, both of which are harder to detect and more elusive than their humongous relatives. perhaps if i was a turnip farmer, a giant dog owner, or an animation studio executive, these things might be larger concerns.

it seems to me that people would be best to stick to the issues that affect their lives. i have more concern for the chocolate content of flavored milk than i do for the size and population density of long-eared hopping things that may or may not bring me candy in the spring.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

the new old is the old you

snap back in your mind to a time. any old time might do, but be specific for once. pick, let's say, three years ago. three or so years and seven dislocated vacation ends back. you may remember this as a time when working was less of a distraction from your ordinary existence. it wasn't so much the hours as the general sense that things were resolved within a certain time. physical presence in the workplace was the main dividing line between spheres of existence.

this isn't to say things are any worse these several years hence. you have a deep rut still in the carpet beneath your recliner. the fibers of the rug seem to hold up to the strain, even if there's an occasional liquid stain to darken what normally fades with age. outside, a vague sense of the world creating noises that are blocked by what are actually not four, but six walls. windows all around, not above or beneath. sun conveying images as it bounces through. birds spearing ripe apples.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Move over pumpkins

you know who you are. you're the wormy oozing mess i scooped off the porch with a garbage bag. you're sprawled all over my fireplace in a fuzzed-out cotton blend. you're on the back of every boy and girl in town, except the changeover is now in sight, and something deeper seems to be on the horizon. you're stuck in groccery store clearance zones for two dollars off. it's over between us.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

me and the pretzel barrel

although i can no longer spell words like barrel and portentious, i have a good supply of ice cream in the freezer still. it's important to keep up with the times, and when the times suggest that what is important is the ability to mix frozen sweet and barreled salty snacks, i act. i walked to the store last night in a light mix of freezing rain and after-work perspiration. while i walked, i thought about the stars, and looked up to clouds and those falling shining dots that stung the bare skin of my face. i was in a footrace, though, me against the pavement, its inevitable icing over coming just after i stepped foot inside the store, rounded a man pushing a cart full of water bottles, and headed for the safety of the bakery aisle.

i've probably given this away already, seeing as i haven't mentioned french bread or twisted portugese loaves. with no baked-boiled bagels or pre-slit sub rolls in the cupboards i've already described, it's safe to say the bread aisle was a mere distraction. i was happy for the momentary look at the dollar-to-bread loaf exchange rate, failing to answer this decades-old question of inflation and relative wealth. it was too important for me to pick up snack foods and ride the storm out the old-fashioned way.

feet up, head rolling to one side as i watched the playoff game an hour later, i stared into the bottom of my melted bowl of ice cream. there were crumbs of salt and peanut bits, traces of the swirled foods laced into my dessert, and a reflection of my face, glaring back at me if only i could focus in carefully enough. i didn't want anything of the sort, though, and so i scraped once more against the plastic of the bowl. my spoon failed yet again to wipe away the grin looking up out of the wreckage.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

the problem with beverages

despite the many glorious years i have spent working in the beverage industry, i have to acknowledge some difficulty that exists when choosing the right thing to drink. first, there's the fact that water has to be modified with nutritional and flavorful additives to be even palatable, sort of the way older music regains its swagger when chopped, filtered, and pressed into service in the context of a new song. water, the kind from the tap or the filtration system, is that song you've heard ten thousand times on the morning drive show between six and nine am. no one's going back to plain water.

with that eliminated, there's always that american classic, milk, which now comes from cows treated with strange hormones. it seems they never make the promise to use zero hormones, just certain types of hormones will not be used. i am out on milk.

soda, while near and dear to my heart, isn't always a ten pm saturday with a novel type of beverage. declining in popularity, inevitably to remain a significant part of our culture as it takes on cigarette-like levels of high culture stigma, soda can't take us everywhere. it still does a lot, and of course if my career ever makes something of itself, it'll have a much bigger role than it's had in decades.

i do not trust the juice or essence of most fruits and vegetables. never having spoken latin, i feel uncomfortable in the way these items escape true description. their names not being their real names, i find it difficult to connect them meaningfully to any concept. as a compromise, i have told myself that i am willing to eat any and all juices of alphabetically shaped origin. bananas, however, are notoriously non-juiceable, and i have yet to decide whether things such as cherries and grapes resemble letters. there are those donut shaped peaches, but they lack an empty middle and thus are no more alphabetical than an orange.

other beverages are usually derived from elements of the above, and often require strange decisions regarding whether they should be consumed hot or cold. i find the idea of forcing heated water through a bag of dust to be frightening and thus will never bother with herbal or other teas and the like. by the time i have decided whether i am more comfortable washing the filth from the packet of herbs or letting the boiling water hopefully sanitize it, the desire to consume has inevitably passed me.

these options all leave me confined, confused, or crazy. i turn occasionally to sodas on multiple daily occasions, but since i trust the conniving swindlers in charge of public health policy at least somewhat, i have tried to reduce my own soda consumption, so i will soon schedule a doctor's visit where i will request that an iv be connected to one of those water carrier backpacks, allowing me never to drink again.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

struggles ever tried

yesterday was a bad one for my burr collection. i was standing just above and below this particular tree, finding myself stuck trying to superimpose my shadow on the shadow of the tree itself. the effect i wanted, so shadow of a shadow of a living thing, seemed delightful until i saw the nothing that came out of my idea.

in this whole process, as i implied, i was adding exactly zero burrs to my collection, as my corduroy shoes and wooly socks were unable to make contact with the hopeful seed pods of the forest while i stood there worrying about the layering effects possible in a clearing decorated with a single oak.

burr collecting is a pastime that can accompany numerous activities, from chasing butterflies to rolling around and past strips of exposed granite on a steep hill. i have collected burrs while fishing and while forgetting to call my mother. on my birthday, i had a solo picnic so the forest could give me some beautiful presents, and i found that it did.

the secret though is that the burrs pile up before and after the picnic, if not while you're sleeping off the seventeenth tiny slice of cake. there is no before and after to single-oak clearings though, because these islands draw you away from the rest of the trees and off into something burrless. the clearing has its own life, but it's shadowy in a disappointing way.

with all due respect to hats

it's completely illogical that something so effective at keeping rain off my face should be damaged by that same rain. is the new national motto of hats "we'll take the hit so you don't have to?"

if only rain were bullets, it would make more sense. hats - the secret service for the rest of us.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

all verification allowed

it's hard to tell yourself things that no person would accept from someone else. you will eat this and only this for the next two days, some random fool insists. oh no, you reply, no, i never make a habit of eating the same foods for more than three straight meals. random fools are arrogant, but random fools aren't usually persistent enough to deny you that.

when you're in the driver's seat, though, you'll wind up tricked beyond your wildest imagination. though time travel will never allow it, some future self might visit you from the following week, a point comfortably distant from the two days in question. oh past self, you say, if only you understood. you're going to eat the same thing for the next two days because you aren't going to move one inch from that bed.

Monday, September 27, 2010

one cannot replace another

there's a different quality in the air as summer makes its last exertions and the pressing urges of fall arrive. i took the garbage out with a sense of surprising contentment at the intersections between these seasons. the humidity, damp of fallen rain, and general temperature were such that i found myself almost exactly situated between these two seemingly incompatible seasons. compromise is here. let's work it out, folks.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

i can't carry a conversation

nothing seems to matter since i started selling scented oils. for most modern corporations, the bathroom is the one room that does have a corporately planned odor, and that speaks of a defeatist attitude we're out to change. colors, images, sounds, the touch of a hand against another body, all things about the world of the office have been packaged and regulated. it's time we got the aromatic issue more thoroughly covered. sticking on the edge of this coming changeover has not, distinctly not, been a pleasant thing. it's like changing your life for the worse in order to fix everything else. take sales calls, for example.

it's hard to talk to people when they don't listen to anything you say. it's even harder when you have no interest in correcting their indifference. for the past several weeks, i've been looking out the windows of rental cars and thinking of all the passing scenes i don't want described back to me when i get them wrong telling a neighbor or a friend about what i've been and seen. i can't get my head through this authentic experience i should be taking in. it's my luggage too, i want to say, there's always a smell coming from the back of the car, and i can't figure out how to see anything else until that stink leaves.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

all the reasons nothing happened

-someone was missing
-we got distracted
-no food
-the boarders weren't clear on price
-an engine problem of a sort
-psychologically, it was too difficult
-they had dogs
-all our supplies were gone
-no one said anything
-the map was wrong
-you told us it wouldn't happen this way
-we were tired and bored
-we lost touch with our core values
-the lights went out
-street-level issues weren't prioritized
-no plan

Monday, September 20, 2010

a relationship with falsehood

In teaching fiction writing, one central question is whether students are comfortable creating stories. Obviously everyone in such courses should have a desire to fabricate narrative, but some find this to be the central challenge while others are more worried about fine tuning stories that have been relativel easy to write. The question may be one of truth and falsehood. Anyone with a familiarity with lying should be a fantastic produer of rough drafts, because all they need to do in order to write is to connect to that spontaneous machine that builds walls around truths they wish to protect.

Those with more truthful personal lives should merely think of alternate versions of what exists in their minds. We all have idealized or imagined versions of our surroundings, I would think. What then must we do to bring these spaces into the realm of fiction writing? The first answer is simply to challenge the notion of what a story should be, fitting it to the concerns that naturally float through one's consciousness. The second is to grow comfortable with committing in the moment to what is already on the page, while being ready in revision to comb out the central elements and build structures to support them.

Friday, September 17, 2010

not for breakfast

the explosion of taste that came with the arriving forkful of cake on his tongue could not be an explosion, jack told himself, because he was still alive. healthy, if slightly short of breath in the aftermath of a single bite of his dessert. looking down at the plate, he saw the remaining pile of frosted layers almost as a challenge to his continued existence on earth. there was this moment, the consumption of a sweet concoction that wrung his neck from the inside. there was the whisper of the softness and buttercream hitting his molars. there was a cake, a fork, and his mouth. once these actors had played their final scene, jack would continue living, but everything labeled future was already packed in gray dusty boxes in the furthest corners of his mind.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

i've got it

i've got, it i've got, it i've got it.

blueberry, raspberry, strawberry

blueberry - not yellow, not green, crowned top, never clean

raspberry - point, one, two, three, pop, more, soft, juicy

strawberry - slice, chop, cut off top

Friday, September 10, 2010

you have to be careful

someplace or other, there may be another of your lookalikes, straigh off the siberian factory floor, nodding his head to the beat, but a little too gently.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

forget stars, everyone's interested in cooking

i got this idea the last week that i should start my own cooking channel. i know, it's easy to go out and say you have an idea and a lot harder to make it happen, but you have to give me this -- i mean my own channel. 20 hours a day, and the other four are going to be reruns of australian tv shows. do not send your infomercial time my way, got it?

there are forty people outside on my lawn

i don't have a thing against people in general, or my neighbors, or the person who decided to invite everyone over to hang out in my yard, but it does seem like they're littering. litter is the most bothersome thing i have encountered in my years on this earth. i feel like debris should either be spontaneous or uniform, and litter is neither. litter stands out in a natural landscape just as it does in an artificial one like an outdoor basketball court. because people playing a gave of three on three don't want to trip over a dirty burger wrapper. just like i don't want people leaving their lottery tickets and crazy colored nail polish bottles on the lawn. there's a reason people want to see my yard, ok? i mean, who's going to bother looking at the seventeen inflatable picassos if there are footprints and soda labels breaking up the green moat that protects them?

Tuesday, September 07, 2010


one of my friends is currently searching for housing, and although a number of opportunities have arisen over the months, apparently none of them have been quite right. i realized, however, that a perfect situation might soon be opening up near me. i happen to be acquainted with the owner of the next-door property.

while there are tenants of this dwelling, i have also acquired a new habit of sitting on the front porch at late hours of the evening. only in the days just prior to my conversation about potential vacancies, the neighbors had begun a pattern of discovering me chatting on the mobile and slouching on the steps. this behavior, not familiar to the area, seemed like a possible cause of a rapid departure by the renting neighbors. i was dismayed, then, to discover that while they had seized upon the distastefulness of my evening presence, they countered it merely by turning on their porch light.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

why toast is good

toast is good because it is crunchy. it also requires a degree of finesse and patience in its preparation, and thus rewards the careful practitioner. then, as the toast emerges ready to be eaten, it is delightfully warm in addition to its crisp texture.

Friday, September 03, 2010


if i was a light, what type of electricity would run me?

Thursday, September 02, 2010

your life should revolve around cereal boxes

where surprise is always just a shake away

Saturday, August 21, 2010

who needs a castle though

i've been accused sometimes of having a strange level of interest in chocolate. essentially, people seem to think it's strange that i don't eat it more quickly. i'm not sure whether these accusations are accurate or not. it does seem that there are times when i could eat more chocolate than might seem normal or expected. on the other hand, why does that matter exactly? i suppose if i was taking all the world's chocolate and thus preventing other people from enjoying it, that might be a problem. it would be especially troubling if i built a castle out of it and refused to eat the chocolate i walked on, while others were left chocolateless, in a truly unfair distribution of resources.

Before you go

He made his daughter sit in the back seat, because she was always asking questions about the things he did with his hands while he drove.
"Daddy, I can't see you."
"I'm right here, J."
"I know, but I can't see what you're doing."
Jack had few insights into the inner life of his little girl, but he knew one thing: she was highly concerned with the way other people spent their time. He sighed briefly as he came to the final turn. Two houses down, just past the fence with the peach trees. Oh yes. Margaret had left the door open, a welcome to April's warmest day.
"Okay, I'm parking right in the driveway and then you'll run up the steps and in the front door. See how your mother left the door open for you?"
"Are you going to give me a kiss goodbye?"
"Hey, don't worry, I'll be right here blowing you a kiss. I'll blow you a kiss again when I get back home and call you."
Little J was the easy one to beat in an argument. Still, without having to face his ex-wife, Jack was fairly certain he'd be able to avoid a confrontation on this day. There was still enough time to hit about ten buckets of balls before the lecture. So he'd be calling his little girl from the driving range. It was sort of becoming his second home anyway.
She was already gone, bouncing up the path to her mother's front door, and when she walked right in the house without looking back, Jack had also nearly forgotten about the kiss.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

don't change the subject

it's important for me to note that the single most overrated food item in history is the veggie burger with cheese. since i'm not a vegan, semi-vegan, ironic vegan, or pseudo vegan, i think it's pretty safe for me to judge. a good veggie burger is an achievement. putting cheese on it just masks the entire issue.

Monday, August 16, 2010


i am forseeing good things for the balloon as an icon going forward. perhaps it is best suited as a metaphor, but the balloon can make a great decoration as well. think about polka dots morphed into a nice reminder of childhood birthday parties. a couple large balloon graphics on a t-shirt. running shoes. embossed stationery. the sky is the limit.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

i can see the signs

due to the apparent lack of demand for traditional phone lines in the united states, i have decided to move to an apartment made solely of telephones. in the next five years, as i battle the escalating cost of a rent bill continuously being raised by a failing former monopoly, i estimate that my share of the local telephone market will rise to at least twenty percent. by that point, i should be able to call myself on any of my phones at any hour of the day or night and be comforted in knowing that, if anyone at the phone company is bored, they will probably be listening to my conversation. it's always nice to feel wanted.

Friday, August 13, 2010

not just syrup

i just had to check to make sure i had already written about the waffles. it's important or it would seem important to know, if i had any way of knowing, why it is that certain ideas have a persistence that seems unjustified. of course, the key here would be to locate ideas on some sort of grid or axis, with relative importance on one side and persistence on the other.

i can understand that there are ideas that are persistent not because they are great but because they are simply amusing or memorable. i recently saw a film for the third time in the theater, something i may never have done before. when i left, i thought to myself that i would likely never make a habit of quoting this movie, simply because the material available does not fit any situation where i would use a quote. there are individual lines that were funny, but none i could see myself using. so i realized that it isn't just the number of times i have seen a movie and how good it is that will determine whether i end up quoting it.

the same is true with ideas. there are some that maybe don't 'deserve' to be memorable, but stick around anyway. then there are others that simply get caught somewhere and don't leave. now, i might be selling the waffles short. the concept of the waffles is more one of envisioning a reality where something can be effortlessly shaped into what you want. that, on a more abstract level, is an idea that appeals to me. so sometimes it isn't about waffles, it's more about what holds them together.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thematic elements secondary

I am currently in the process of reading anthologies slash essay collections by Chuck Klosterman, Malcolm Gladwell, Michael Lewis, and Nick Hornby. In other words, the library has served up a splendid array of treats. There is also a book of David Foster Wallace essays I looked at but will almost certainly not continue reading. It strikes me as evidence that I am not particularly interested in essays so much as the specific authors listed above. Of course, Hornby writes almost exclusively fiction, but his nonfiction no less interesting.

In the prcess of reading, I am preparing a curriculum in fiction writing. It strikes me that the process of actually making things up is not the area to dwell upon, and this a steady diet of nonfiction seems to be helping as I work. It's just a matter of coincidence, but I plan on writing up anything that works. I suppose you could make a gimmick of a class like 'Fiction written like nonfiction,' but there's a danger in suggesting people write any particular way. Maybe something abstract would work. 'fiction written like a planted field?'

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

several noises

i thought about making a pyramid or sort of triangle shape out of waffles today. some things are unnecessarily difficult. also, i have no waffles.

when people tell you 'there is no poison ivy' in a particular location, it's better to just pretend they said there is.

graduate school may have been invented solely to produce ridiculous situations.

april is a strange thing to visit on a summer evening.

Monday, August 09, 2010

and i still need to reorganize the library

i was busy cataloguing shark records the other day when i was attacked by ice cream. then, i escaped, only to be ambushed by fierce rabbits while attempting to collect my thoughts over the previous incident. the rabbits ate greedily at the trails of butter pecan dripping from my pant leg while i kicked uselessly at them. i had holed up in a shed, leaving little room to manuever. i soon realized it was wishful thinking on my part to assume the ice cream had been alone in haunting me.

quickly, i gathered the records i had brought with me in fleeing the first confrontation, but i found that once they were all in my hand, the rabbits had left the shed. i followed after them, not to seek them out but merely as a precautionary measure. i had no idea what else was out there. suddenly, a torrent of frosting came up through the grass and overtook me as i ran, scattering papers and yelling for someone to wake me up. it seemed i had to be stuck in the strangest of dreams, but instead, i found myself plucked from where i stood by a seventeen foot sandwich, who was also screaming: "why in the world are you getting these desserts so worked up? i just want to eat breakfast, and you're out here fighting cakes! who wants to fight a cake?"

i had no intention of fighting anything, but i had even less of an idea what the sandwich was talking about. where was this cake, i screamed, all i see is icing and i don't know what that's got to do with me.

it was then that a roaring came and the sky was blacked out by lemon-scented towers of pastry that smashed us flat against my front drive.

"oh, and i suppose you want me to fix this," whined the sandwich, "because as far as i'm concerned, the cake has won."

i wasn't trying to argue that the cake hadn't won, but then my lungs, my ears, my eyes even seemed to be consumed with the moist flavor of the cake. i had no idea what to do. should i take a bite, or was the cake biting into me?

Sunday, August 08, 2010

what is so bad about chalk?

now that the nba has a new villain, chalk has lost just about its final positive association. People seem to dislike chalk, whether it is the sound of it on blackboards, its dust in the air, or the derogatory association it has in describing sensory experiences. With technology moving rapidly to change the classroom, will we soon have nothing left of chalk but empty associations with things we dislike?

I think it is time we asa society reviewed our anti-chalk stance. Would it be a terrible thing to embrace the texture of dry powdery foods as a good thing and reclaim 'chalky' as a positive adjective? I am not advocating that anyone eat actual chalk. Still, with markers having for decades come in scented varieties, why shouldn't we embrace the same technology in chalk? Next time you find yourself staring at a teacher's handwriting on a chalkboard, wouldn't the inevitable broken piece of chalk seem more pleasant when it released fruity aromas? As a nation, we can embrace this trend, forming a new area of market expansion and profitable international trade. No one will resist the scent of our chalk.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

in which all is abandoned in favor of the mystical

it's hard to keep track of anything once you've realized the way you're keeping track isn't actually tracking anything you care about. it's like those counters that they keep at galleries and that sort of thing. if you walk by the counter seven times, are you counted as one person or seven? does anyone particularly care? if you are counted as seven people, does that mean that your presence in the gallery is seven times more valuable than that of someone who has only walked past once? this is why the counting and tracking of things is soon going to end.

yes, like a million professed solutions to our problems, number-based living is a thing of the past. it's all about the experience, as far as most of us are concerned. these days, with the amount of figures being thrown around, i would say it's a safe bet that most people no longer care whether they're being tracked or counted or cajoled into thinking the numbers are actually in charge.

what is most important in moving away from these decades of numeric superiority is that we leave the past without bitterness. everyone should be aware of the problems of people who cannot move on with their lives. they poison the air around them, literally making it difficult to breathe in their presence. at the least, their toxic emissions cloud the ability of well meaning bystanders to keep track of their vital signs. everyone is better off if we can just forget this bitter resentment. just leave it out of your life. that way, none of you will be stuck with someone whose ex-girlfriend is a number. especially not the number six.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

rock report

there aren't enough rocks to go around these days. if only people would be more careful about what they use to knock holes in windows, we wouldn't have these problems. it's become more important with each passing year that we educate the public in the use of bricks as window-breaking devices.

though frequently featured in films, bricks have made up only nine percent of total hurled blunt hurled objects so far this year. rocks, at nearly eighty percent, have once again taken the top spot on the list. what no one seems willing to admit, however, is that there is a finite number of rocks available in most populated areas. as the legal system struggles under the weight of pending criminal cases for rock-throwing vandals, the actual rocks remain under police protection. once a rock is sealed in an evidence room, there's anywhere from a twenty to thirty-six month period before the case it is associated with makes it through the legal system.

in the past, rocks were generally thrown in the landfill once they were no longer needed as evidence in criminal trials. many cities have begun rock recycling programs, carefully cleaning and repatriating these natural projectiles. still, the rock shortage is significant and may lead to unexpected results as angry individuals have begun finding themselves without a stone to cast.

Monday, July 26, 2010

things i cannot take on the plane

blueberry pie recipe that i modified

the original does not have whole wheat flour, sugar, cinnamon, or ginger, which is why i think this is essentially my own recipe at this point. original recipe used maple syrup, interestingly enough. besides the ingredient additions and modifications, i am also simplifying some of the directions.

blueberry pie

3 cups blueberries
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar

simmer for 20-30 mins or until thickened


1 cup blueberries
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp powdered ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt

stir until sugar is fully dissolved
thicken with 3tbsp flour or corn starch, adding gradually as needed

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup white flour
10 tbsp butter
1 tsp vinegar
5-7 tbsp water

combine dry ingredients; cut in butter
add vinegar and gradually add water

divide in half, roll out to make the top and bottom crusts

after assembling pie, cover the edges of the crust with foil - i did not do this initially and the middle was not satisfyingly done by the time they began to seriously brown, but a last-minute foil modification saved the day.

bake pie at 450 for 40 minutes or until middle crust is firm and filling (if visible) has the dulled glassy look of a nicely done pie

developmental notes:
additional butter can be dotted on top of filling before baking; i did not do this and was wholly satisfied with the result. the spice amounts are estimates, since i seasoned the pie to taste and would have to keep trying this to see how much ginger gives the best flavor. my pie had a delightful fruit flavor as expected with just a hint of the ginger's heat to add to the experience. i had to use less butter than required in the original recipe but found that i seemed to have about the right amount; throwing in a bit more (before adding water) obviously works if the mixture doesn't feel right. i sliced up my top crust to make a lattice, but the recipe yields plenty to do a full top crust if desired.

i was highly pleased with the results of my pie experiment. the whole wheat crust seems to go well with blueberry.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

this is where the roof hits me

i'm fond of lists. i think most people like lists. they're always useful as an organizing principle, and can easily be added to or modified to fit changing scenarios. lists have been making lives easier since at least a couple hundred years ago.

here are several things that are not out to get me:

the combination of pizza and root beer
bears (although the last bear i saw was just a baby, so it ran away)
stringed instruments
the summer
human beings
computer software
european mobile phone manufacturers

Friday, July 23, 2010

the divided and dividers

i went to the library today and took books. i did not leave the property with the books, but instead i borrowed them from shelves and gave them to other shelves. i built pyramids and defensive barracks from books. the covers lined tables and aisles. patrons walked by and stared over their contraband beverages as my creations rose and fell in the silence of the second floor. whispered mobile phone calls to colleagues and loved ones made no mention of the chaos, but there was little enough reason for them to be calling in the first place. staff members remained stoic in the face of my challenge to the order of things. great chasms of literacy were bridged with jumbled collections of fiction. catalog records soon meant nothing, as shelves emptied and floors filled with the brick wall constructions of the afternoon. windows to nowhere leaned in and out of the accumulated writings of a thousand forgotten souls. looming above, the voices of public announcement stood ready to warn me from my tower. i stomped the outlines of my kingdom and watched for signs in the settling sky.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

careful eating

we had an extended discussion this evening about which desserts would be the worst to have smashed in your face. cookies were basically the most harmless, especially soft cookies. once they have rebounded from your face, you can even try to catch them and eat one.

i made the argument that a bowl of raspberries in honey would be a terrible thing to have shoved in your face. unfortunately, this does not qualify as a dessert as people do not eat it for dessert. baklava, however, is both a legitimate dessert and one that is sticky, greasy, and flaky. there is no way that would be pleasant hanging from your face.

also interesting would be creme brulee, which might cause some minor lacerations. the subtleties of its flavor would perhaps be lost in the moment, reducing the possibility that the victim might enjoy the residue left from the dessert attack.

finally, a milkshake would provide a gigantic mess and likely lead to considerable physical discomfort due to its coldness, while also significantly messing up the victim's clothes. although further research is necessary to prove the relative merits of these desserts, it seems clear that all pose significant dangers and should be regarded with a degree of caution. don't keep your guard up too much around cookies, but it might be good to watch your back around these other sweet menaces.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

you make the rules

i had this conversation yesterday where i misheard a friend's response and thought that she was skeptical about an important idea of mine. it has occurred to me that, with the spread of things like soda flavored syrups, we now have the power to reverse engineer popular beverages. of course, my friend agreed that this was a good idea. perhaps owing to my own doubts, i didn't properly hear her enthusiasm for the concept.

it's important to understand what is at stake here. i'm not discussing actually figuring out the recipe for any given soda product, because that would obviously be counterproductive advice for an insider like myself to give. rather, it's a matter of getting exactly what you want.

i've always been annoyed at those places where soda fountains include squirters that let people add a dash of lemon or cherry syrup to their soda. if people want to doctor up a beverage, they should be doing it on their own. it's almost disingenuous for a store to offer you the chance to purchase a valued, respected brand of soft drink but simultaneously attempt to hook you with the promise of convenient ways to ruin that drink's flavor. let me tell you something: the folks who make all their money off of this stuff don't just randomly combine essential oils to create flavors. you're undoing inspired work when you mess with the product like that.

now, though, people do have a chance to take a more proactive role in the creation of a soft drink. go out and buy one of those pre-concentrated syrups, and maybe have a little on your ice cream. then, get some seltzer water or something and start mixing things together. if you're less adventurous, just buy the soda and the identical syrup. combine these to get the best taste possible. have fun, run a few experiments. maybe take a poll of your friends with your top three creations.

see the genius in this? it's great when a product's marketing team is able to produce something new - like a syrup for ice cream - that can also change and enhance the consumer experience with the original product. people don't have to throw away the expert-crafted formula for any soda to take an active role in re-engineering it as a final product. it's just a matter of having precision control over the experience, while maintaining the authentic experience you paid for when you made your purchase.

go have a soda, folks.

Monday, July 19, 2010

...but there is plenty of chocolate

is summer inherently a boring time of year? i leave that to others to debate, but i must confess i am swamped these days with tasks that i will or won't accomplish, plates i will or won't clean, bikes i will or won't take on a ride, and tiger videos i will or won't watch. it'll be a little while before i get bored, but i have to say that i'm slightly worried about how this might develop. will i find myself tied by the ears to a maple tree, struggling to drain a hydration pack full of honey while ants dance on my cassette collection? i don't know about you, but i doubt i'm getting the old auto-reverse deck one to play music that's been fouled by insects. at times i wonder if i've left myself too little space to stuff things in the refrigerator, since there are so many things that have to be prevented from ants, spiders, etc...

Friday, July 16, 2010

my cookie function is disabled

i recently purchased a package of cookies to eat while i was camping. unfortunately, i did not eat the cookies during my time sleeping in a tent. now, i have a package of cookies i purchased essentially because they looked fantastically awful and were made by a company with a ridiculous name. they're not exactly your average bad cookies either-they're chocolate chip sandwich cookies.

these wonders of generic product development combine mediocre chocolate chip cookies with mediocre sandwich cookies to produce something that is uniquely unpleasant to eat. i would argue that bad sandwich cookies, being something of a known phenomenon, are somewhat edible. bad chocolate chip cookies i'm not so sure about; it may be that i have simply never had chocolate chip cookies this tasteless.

the short-term solution to the cookie problem is to de-sandwich them. i have found it is much easier to eat something that is only one type of bad cookie than something that simultaneously hits two categories of disappointment. removing the filling from the sandwiches also creates a sort of visual mess which might distract from the taste of the remaining cookies. despite this minor improvement in the cookie consumption process, a larger and more permanent solution remains elusive.

it seems to me that i may need to start my own generic cookie business. the only real way to ensure that products that meet my highest standards of road-weary fatalism have a reasonably decent taste is to become the person who tastes the cookies before they go into the package. i can't imagine myself as a quality control taster or hired cookie chef, and so it's the ownership angle that i need to pursue.

with a little capital and some ambition, i think i can make a big impact in the discount cookie arena. the four keys to proper generic product development lie mainly in marketing. now, you may think this is counter-intuitive, because generic products are not advertised via television or bulk facsimile. however, that is precisely why good branding is crucial.

a good discount brand should be memorable, because the consumer will probably only engage with the brand at an actual store. first of all, imaginary and whimsical characters should be clearly associated with the product. they should be pictured on the package in a variety of primary and neon colors. the product name may ideally incorporate these characters, or they can merely be placed on the package to create an attention-getting incongruity. 'what do these graham crackers have to do with a purple giraffe,' people are saying to themselves - and that is when they've been gotten by the generic machine.

building off of the character idea, it is important to focus on packaging. often, the market leader in the field of, say, tortilla chips has determined a look and feel for the category that many will imitate. while this is not entirely a problem, the use of unusual colors (and characters!) will help ensure that your product is noticed.

once you have the consumer's attention, the biggest remaining elements lie in the food itself. concept and execution are key here. yes, it may be a great idea to make chocolate chip sandwich cookies. that purely ridiculous idea certainly got my attention. generics should be adventurous, their bare-bones corporate backers willing to take risks that larger companies would not, creating flavors and designs that seem obvious to anyone working without the encumbrance of a massive corporate decision-making process. don't just imitate, but you don't need to innovate. simply give people what seems obviously like a good idea.

oh, and last of all: try tasting the product before it hits stores.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


having no patience for the delicate microwaving process required to prepare the remains of the hot fudge that goes with a spanish sundae, i made the following, which made me a little happy for a brief period of time:

vanilla ice cream
chopped walnuts
broken up pretzels
hint of dried basil (though i'm sure fresh would be better)
chocolate syrup
whipped cream, with dash of nutmeg and small amt of sugar

there are just a few friendly surprises in that mixture, which are at least semi-likely to produce a smile.

Monday, July 12, 2010


what's the weather like in upstate new york? oh who knows, and why bother finding out. it's not like i'm going camping there tonight or anything.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

i (heart) stickies

i've always been a fan of not letting fear get in the way of spreading a good idea, so here goes:

i have recently decided that, as i own a large number of sticky notes and like to get excited about things for no reason, it would be useful to stick the notes on things, and write on the notes that i (heart) the things they're stuck to. this can then be documented photographically, and the notes can be reused and relabeled as long as they still stick to things.

it strikes me that this would be an incredibly fun office game, as a sticky note could be placed on virtually any object and blend in fairly well, being as natural to the office environment as a leaf is to a forest. right now, i (heart) boxes, and soon i may (heart) boxes and desks, as i arrived back in my room to find i had stuck the first note to my desk after removing the box to leave it for pickup.

that is all.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

while you were busy with the leftover pie

we are nearly out of control at my house, but due to extreme world cup circumstances it became necessary for me to make both german chocolate cake and spanish sundaes today. i'm sure many are familiar with german chocolate cake, but let me tell you briefly about a spanish sundae. the spanish sundae is very similar to an ice cream sundae you may have had, except that the whipped cream is flavored with almond extract and the hot fudge has cayenne pepper and cinnamon added to it. with the hint of cayenne, the entire product was far more delicious than most people can imagine.

i had to make my own fudge sauce by combining chocolate syrup, cocoa powder, and butter. the result was, i think, highly delicious and satisfying. also, i lacked the required almond extract and had to stir vanilla into the whipped cream like an ordinary sundae. i think it would be worth doing again with all the proper ingredients, but be warned that these sundaes are highly filling. i barely had room for cake, and today was a good day to completely forget about finishing that pie.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

the hidden dangers of bananas

i have had a few conversations recently about the coconut banana cream pie i made this weekend. it turns out that a cream pie with a meringue topping is delicious, and while whipped cream would of course have been a similarly attractive alternative, there is something to be said for what the meringue brings to the equation.

the problem, however, lies in the use of bananas in a pie that has to be baked in the oven. my recipe suggested i put the bananas on top of the bottom crust, then pour the hot pudding over them. the meringue goes on last, and the whole thing goes in the oven. as it turns out, this produces a slightly cooked, slightly strange quality in the bananas, which truly are better left out.
to make a proper banana cream pie, my sister informs me, one should cool the pudding, then pour it over the sliced bananas and top the entire thing with whipped cream and serve it immediately. she also recommends using a rich pastry crust with cream pies, with the goal of preventing the crust from becoming too soggy. i had done this anyway, and found that on the second day, the crust was fine.

Friday, June 25, 2010

eleven things i have the option of eating

there's some sort of game tomorrow involving teams of eleven players. i thought it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to list off eleven items i was prepared to possibly consume during that event:

creme wafers
cheese and crackers
chips and salsa
potato chips
fruit salad
peach pie

technically, it is more likely that i will drink orange juice than eat a quesadilla or some cereal, but those fit the theme a little better. cereal, yes, is a stretch, but i didn't want to suggest i might eat a chocolate bar, which seems like one of the last things i would dig out and consume.

Monday, May 24, 2010

sweat stains are a dime a dozen

as i was preparing a newly purchased hat for wear, i couldn't help but think of trot nixon, who famously wore a hideous looking hat and even kept it folder in his back pocket while he wore his batting helmet to hit. besides their glamorous jobs and high salaries, baseball players are privileged in other ways that ordinary americans can hardly fathom.

chief among these perks is their access to sticky substances that can be used to stain, darken, or gum up a baseball cap. resin, pine tar, dirt, and any number of contaminants permeate the baseball field, which allows adventurers like trot nixon to sail off into the furthest seas of breaking in hats. let us remember trot nixon, and greatly worn hats all over.

Friday, May 14, 2010

i hate surprises

i'm surprised by things all the time. i just don't like surprises that relate to my inability to afford things. i hate surprises that relate to things getting worse, especially when it's taken me forever to accept the existing state of awfulness. it's like those weird surprises like when my shampoo smells like the wrong flavor of dessert for no apparent reason, or my computer is taking over two minutes to connect to a wireless network instead of a mere thirty to forty-five seconds.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

once and dunce

thanks to the impending disappearance of a certain streaming music site, i have thrown all care aside and begun a wild pattern of streaming albums for the first and only time. so far, i have focused on the past, verifying facts such as the talents of allison krauss or kruder and dorfmeister. i have also listened to:

the new josh ritter album
this was good, enjoyable, seemed to refer back to a few surprisingly classic songs/stories, and i wouldn't imagine buying it. the fact is that i have things like a grizzly bear album languishing in the forgotten reaches of my music collection. there are also exciting shiny toys like the latest neko case, which i haven't gotten around to. i can't buy things that are merely good.

white rabbits
i actually listened to a couple of their albums back a month or two ago. i was highly impressed with that first listen. nevertheless, i remain unable to purchase things just because they are highly impressive.

the hold steady - boys and girls in america
fun album; the sort of music i wouldn't mind acquiring through marriage. is that like a secret benefit of getting hitched? ok, honestly, secretly i don't care if i marry someone with impressive musical taste. that's a secret, right? because people have probably forgotten that and assumed the opposite even if i've told them. but anyway, i respect and enjoy the hold steady. i've seen them live; they were excellent; it was a great memory. thanks to rhett miller for opening, since i wouldn't have gone otherwise.

Monday, May 03, 2010

it's an alligator problem

finally finally have it all figured out. shoes, t-shirts, cardboard shapes, everything that disappears or shows up half eaten.

i just need to call an exterminator.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

time for a swim

as summer is approaching and the heat and humidity are already causing air conditioners to engage, i am surprisingly unprepared for the change in the season. it's not so much the weather itself as the overall arrival of something new. i do not think i was overwhelmingly caught up in the status quo, but perhaps i would simply prefer to be wearing jeans and sweaters for a while longer.
overall, i do not think that this is destined to be a particularly notable summer one way or the other. i have plenty of work to occupy the few months off, especially if i want to avoid having a thesis crisis next year. i have even started reading a little more outside of class. yesterday i spent some time trying out a few books, the most interesting of which was james frey's novel about los angeles. he has a strange distaste for periods and semicolons, but overall it was engrossing and a little disturbing. there is an odd juxtaposition between the main text and brief historical interludes, which sometimes appear nearly every other page and leave a shocking amount of white space. it's the sort of thing normally placed only at the beginning of chapters. the book itself is hefty enough that i do not kniw whether i will finish it, but it was far superior to the other random novels i had investigated earlier in the day.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

under construction

like just about everyone these days, i probably check my email too often in the hopes that something exciting will show up. one friend several years ago discussed the literally addicting properties of text messaging--the excitement of receiving a new text releases endorphins--and email has to be the same way. this morning, i made the happy discovery that yo la tengo's 'i can hear the heart beating as one' provided the ideal atmosphere as i wrote up my comments on michael cunningham's 'the hours.'

still exhilarated from the satisfaction of an early and successful start to the day's work, i checked my email and was almost overwhelmingly pleased with what it brought forth. this, of course, led me to ponder what elements are most satisfying entries in one's inbox. in general, it has been a great couple of days, as i recently received word that i will in fact teach workshop in the fall.

1. unexpected good news
2. the promise of a new world
3. a surprisingly different sort of email
4. news from old friends
5. a recipe
6. highly anticipated information is finally released
7. a clever joke

Friday, April 23, 2010

i became a little frustrated last night

when i realized how fun it would be to switch the topic of my folklore project on hipsters. i've done too much work already to make that a good idea.


i may have disrupted one of my graduate classes yesterday by wearing shorts, a hoodie, and a tie to class. i didn't have my headphones on, which matched the color scheme of the tie. that would potentially have been even more distraction. so we ended up talking for a minute about the fact that i had this unusual outfit. really though, i was wearing it because i wanted to be in top condition for my presentation in my second class of the evening.

essentially, i dressed up for my presentation by picking attire that made me happy. i guess what was in my head when i chose what to wear was just that i should dress in a manner that would put me in a state of maximum serenity. on some level, the outfit was random, but it was organized not just by color but, believe it or not, theme. i had cartoonish animals on my tie and my shoes.

so after remember that i'd chosen the outfit as a method of preparing for my presentation, i thought about what people would wear to job interviews if they just made what made them happy or confident. i would probably wear something like i had for my presentation. i'd probably wear jeans and an awesome pair of sneakers, plus an awesome t-shirt and a jacket of some sort. if i still had a decent track jacket, that might be my first choice. so perhaps i would go out and buy one. after all, it's for a job interview.

accessories are probably key. i would have to consider reorganizing my keychaing for maximum effectiveness, and think about whether i could bring both a phone and a music device. most likely, i would wear my new watch. as i don't own a ton of other accessories, i would probably wear a tie, just as a way of having one more element to fit into the whole. i'd wear my dress shirt untucked with the top button undone.
temperature is also an important factor; yesterday it was supposed to be around the 60s, so i thought shorts and a hoodie was a good choice. ideally, i think a job interview would be on a day in the high 40s or low 50s, so i could wear my jeans and track jacket without getting sweaty.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

fine, take my shoes

due to a complex interaction between the assignment i was given this week and the contents of my brain, i am writing a story about a depressed penguin. i suppose it isn't the best depressed penguin story either, because the penguin in question was not necessarily depressed at the time that the key action of the story takes place. it is difficult, however, to cover such topics as penguin-human friendship, sock fashion, and the effect of french pop music on retail sales in the united states in the span of three or four pages. i almost expect to lose something in the process of writing this. i hope that will not be my mind. perhaps i could lose a t-shirt. or a pair of socks, or the watch i recently purchased but have struggled to accept into my life. if you're out there waiting for my moment of weakness, just take your best shot now. i'm sick of waiting.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

there's always hope

i hope my piano is not eaten by rabid cats
i hope guitars do not turn invisible during odd-numbered months
i hope the last carnivorous sock puppets have died out
i hope the neighbors do not hear me screaming in my sleep
i hope oatmeal is still good for you

chased by a cheesesteak

like many vegetarians, i suffer from a horrifying dream where i am being chased through the streets of a city. it's dawn, and though the sky is overcast, or maybe because it is, there's a pink-orange mist over everything as if someone dumped a smoothie on the sky. usually, i'll be running, but in a suit, complete with shiny dress shoes that pinch my feet a little. i keep looking over my shoulder, and i can barely breathe from the pink-orange exhaust fumes, but for the first few minutes of the dream, all i know is that i'm afraid. slowly, it dawns on me that i am losing the race, and at first i think a giant pretzel is pursuing me. when it catches up, maybe i'm going to be dipped in a reservoir of hot mustard, and maybe left there until i've gone soft.
what gets me every time though is this corner. i'm running and looking back and wishing i could adjust the buckles on my shoes by a notch or two, and suddenly, i'll just sense that i have to turn a corner. so i slow down just enough to prevent physics from throwing me to the ground, and then i'll get this amazing second wind and just kick harder and move my legs faster until all i can think about is the blur of my limbs and the sweat building on my neck and forehead.
suddenly, though, i'll look back again, and realize there's something like a giant four-legged cheesesteak pursuing me. i don't mean a cow or a bull or animal of any kind. just an actual, living, humongous cheesesteak, losing a few grilled onions every minute, which seems only likely to speed its progress. i'll catch myself wondering if this is some sort of punishment for not eating meat. sometimes, i think to myself that if the cheesesteak catches me, the worst thing it could do is force feed itself to me. would it pull a smaller cheesesteak out of its pocket and made me take a bite? would it tie me to a chair and force me to eat cheesesteaks until i pass out? these thoughts linger, and they seem to be slowing me down, as if i've eaten too much mayonnaise. i start considering my options. can i yell at people to eat the cheesesteak? is that an appropriate action for a vegetarian, even in self-defense? perhaps my best option would be to simply give up and try to hold a conversation with my pursuer. it could be that human-cheesesteak relations are at a real bad stretch, and an impratial ambassador is needed--someone whose dinner isn't part of the debate. i could make life better, both for humans and for cheesesteaks. perhaps they'll leave us alone if only we learn how to cook and enjoy them properly. perhaps they just want to give us a new recipe. otherwise, what reason could they have for chasing me or anyone else? cheesesteaks might soon be our best friends. maybe then the real tragedy is that the giant pretzel seems to have vanished.

Monday, April 05, 2010

new pennies

as a young child, i was constantly frustrated with the boring state of our nation's money. bills were all green, and coins stayed the same year after year. well, years later, we have peach-flavored bills and state-sponsored coins to thank for throwing things up in the air a bit. now that the new 2010 penny seems to be covertly advertising for a certain railroad company, i am excited for the next wave of stealth money endorsements. will we have to limit this to american companies? are there secret auctions to determine who will get their logo surreptitiously re-done by the us mint? i look forward to the results of this new wave of monetary innovation.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

cracker lackin'

there are several foods i believe are essential to my general survival. though the roster varies from week to week and especially when longer periods of time are involved, the one unchanging presence is the cracker. what is so enticing about thin crispy rectangles? do we have an innate trust of food products that explode when thrown against the wall? is it important that certain crackers are round and have no straight edges?

i could not find the answers to these questions, because i am having trouble with my computer right now. see, in general i like to believe there are overriding principles and organizational factors that apply across vast reaches of life. computers, like crackers, seem to have an uncanny level of importance to the modern human. they are also largely rectangular in nature. while it makes sense that the thinness of the modern portable computer (and cracker) serves as a part of its appeal, it is also true that this contributes to its propensity to shatter when thrown at a wall.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

3D glasses should anger hipsters

having recently seen a movie in three dimensions, i have to say that there is only one type of 3D glasses that should be offered--and that they offered the right kind. thick, black, timeless frames. you know, the type that scream 'i edit movies and/or still images for a living--or at least i wish i did!' the type of glasses sold as fashion accessories to people who don't need corrective lenses. if you go to the theater and one of your friends, after watching the entire movie, says 'wait, don't take those off, i want to see what you look like,' and is *not* making fun of you, you know they're offering the right type of glasses.
i hope the hipster lobby does not succeed in nixing the current cool movie glasses just to preserve the remaining shreds of their aesthetic. it has to be bothersome enough when your look is purchasable in a chain store, so surely these glasses have inspired petition drives outside indie rock concerts all over the nation. having become stuck in 2004, i don't actually attend these types of events, so i have little firsthand knowledge of the situation. i can say, however, that i will do my best to ensure that movie theaters resist the slacker elite and continue to make cool retro 3D glasses available to all.
so i commend the theater, but i recently saw a 3D television marketed with glasses that screamed 'the future as envisioned in 1994.' that is wrong. there are many ways to spend a thousand bucks and look stupid (buy 2 giant dorky e-readers?). in fact, with the falling prices of many dorky items, i can uncool-ly accessorize myself and have plenty left over for electronics.
if i want to look like an idiot, have less money, and own a television, i can accomplish all of these goals without purchasing a product that **makes it awkward to make out while watching a film.** am i really going to look at the person next to me with their jordi laforge face-shield eyewear and try to kiss them? the entire home theater experience is based upon the promise of making out. essentially, home theater = movie theater minus expensive snacks, minus forgetting you parked in sec H3, plus pause button, plus private makeout opportunity. the 3D glasses are already an issue, but at least have them be something i can enjoy slipping off of someone's face. seriously, sometimes you have to wonder if technology is destined to prevent people from ever connecting.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

the part you didn't need to say

i have this dvd i have been thinking about watching and it says on the back that the special features include 'the making of you didn't see on tv.' so basically they just revealed that this movie, which i hadn't heard much about, went direct to tv. is that really a way to sell more copies?

Monday, March 29, 2010

best worst dinner

orange juice, diet soda, nachos, and chocolate cake.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

no ice cream

i would like to thank myself, circa 2001, for acquiring around a dozen yo la tengo albums while the monthly fee covered unlimited mp3 downloads. thanks indeed past self, whose musical taste was somewhat different than mine today, for going out on a limb and assuming there was something to pay attention to in this band you couldn't understand. i'm not sure how many other rock music downloads you even tried at the time, and so your forward thinking on this matter is all the more impressive. i would take you out for an ice cream, but obviously the temporal challenge is significant. having recently purchased a watch, however, i am one step closer to covering the gap.


i had a reading last night, so of course i had to write something new. or not exactly new, but re-visit something old. it's interesting actually to look back at work from a long time before. this particular story was one i wrote during the summer but had not finished. so i took the premise, the characters, and began writing new material that came before it. eventually i kept about two or three paragraphs of the original and they were sort of sandwiched between everything else.
i covered territory: relationships; contemporary music; fantasy sports that i normally avoid, which was a nice diversion. i had wanted to read something that i could essentially scream, which i felt like i did successfully. there were a few places where i slowed down for emphasis, but i read a short piece and read it emphatically and quickly. of course, now i can't envision enjoying any other way of reading publicly. that's just going to have me struggling to figure out a way to be excited about reading something methodical and dull.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

i bought a watch today

i've been using my phone as a watch for years, even though the current cheap phone doesn't even display the time in sleep mode. as freedom from watches seems to have become a lifestyle choice, i have still thought of them as decent accessories. the problem, of course, is finding one that is worth owning. i used to love a certain modern-leaning brand sold by a japanese company better known for their conservative, underwhelming designs. i bought two of their watches, both cleverly designed, equally horrid in durability. the one would work only if i didn't carry it anywhere; the jostling of being strapped to my wrist would render it incapable of telling time. they were digital, with reverse grey-on-black readouts. they were definitely my favorite watches i have ever owned, working for only a brief stretch but so perfectly in line with my aesthetic sensibility at the time. after the second one proved equally poor in durability, i had to break the habit. even though i was purchasing them at the factory outlet at a shockingly low price, it was over. i was given a digital and an analog watch a few years later, both of which are now out of commission. the analog had a shockingly loud tick, which probably hastened the reality of its drained battery. i lost the last digital watch i had about a year and a half ago, and i do wish it was still around. once i had entered the mobile phone timetelling era, i used to carry watches in an unusual fashion; each of these two were attached to a particular bag. they served me well while they lasted.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

West coast bias

it's a little strange to me that i am at grad school and it's not out west somewhere. i applied to one school in what could accurately be described as a western state, despite the fact that i have been interested in heading west for some time. unfortunately for me and my non-western life, there is a ten-year mission reunion that i'll almost definitely miss. it's in the 'tah of course.

i first heard about this five days ago, or something like that. it's in two weeks. i think the problem is that my parents moved and the email address i was giving out ten years ago is lying dormant thanks to the annoying policies of a large software corporation and mmy reluctance to renew it after all my data had been deleted.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

five things i would like

a larger refrigerator
the tigers hat i lost a few years ago
my newest shoes to fit better
a hat that isn't pre-faded
a drink of water

Monday, March 15, 2010

not the route i wanted

i was going to make this whole joke about how the easy thing to do if you are unsmart and wish to make yourself ill is to eat nothing but donuts and go to sleep late. unfortunately, i can't remember eating much of anything today although there was some cake and chips and other chips with queso dip and then another slice of cake that my roommate ate.

but i supposie on some subconscious level, i programmed myself to avoid nutrition and sleep, and thus i am stuck here wondering how to salvage my week. i struggle at times to process the exact sequence of how these events come to pass, but in this case i have figured some things out.

first, don't shout through a closed door at midnight about french electronic artists. second, be sure not to add all the liquid ingredients to your german chocolate cake filling mixture first, and certainly not without checking how think the stuff is. i suppose we had better pick up the pace here, as it continues to get later. don't cook wearing a white shirt. don't drop german chocolate cake filling on your phone. don't let your roommate that lost three hours of sleep to your french band shouting near the last piece of cake. don't forget to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the same day. don't wink at people on the subway. don't listen to your own humorously bad advice, even subconsciously. lesson learned.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

roommate recipes return

food isn't always about what's desirable so much as what is available. consider the following items:

mushroom soup

while inevitably the combination of these came because of necessity, their keeping company in the same dish is remarkable. one brave adventurer chose to walk that path. the squash became the bowl. the soup filled the squash, hiding beneath the cheese.

other adventures beckon.

then melting is inevitable

drop. fallen bead and a collision. spreading slowly filling out to all corners at once. i can't picture the depths to which all of these droplets have sunk. sinking or tumbling. lost. ignorant of who isn't who they are.

Monday, March 01, 2010

shared a smile

what better way to celebrate share a smile day than balloons. plus a white elephant. plus a cake. plus cookies. plus ridiculous white elephant shopping. plus aluminum cookware browsing. plus my roommate making fun of my share a smile day music choice. technically, he was absolutely right. it doesn't matter if jennifer o'connor makes me smile despite the somber tone of many of her songs, because the music wasn't making him smile.

i didn't have a lot of smile-sharing music queued up, but i did what i could.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Share a smile day approaches

I'm almost giddy in my preparations for share a smile day. I'm almost definitely making chic chip cookies (with a little whole wheat flour, one of my mom's tricks) and we're doing a white elephant exchange. Does this call for a random shopping trip? I think so. I may be smiling my way through the discont section of more than a couple stores.

Oh elephant that is white
You make shiny things give off light
Your smell is to her than a thousand boxwoods
You taste like chocolate at night.
I dream for you to deliver
Riches beyond the land of dreams
Carpets of gilded flowers
White billowing cascades of steam

Saturday, February 27, 2010


i think i may have been stuck in a sort of temporal wave today. the hours between 11am and 2pm stretched out significantly, while the past 54 minutes have disappeared with an alarming speed. does sleep work this way too? i wouldn't be surprised if you could prove that by sleeping deeply so the night just disappears in a flash, you automatically make the day run incrementally slower.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

mailing stuff to myself

eric satie used to do it, but he was basically nuts. granted, he was nuts in a perfectly admirable fashion, but still.

actually, i am not mailing myself anything via the postal service. i just sometimes make copies and leave them in my mailbox, which is near the copier. easier than taking them home, but i suppose someone could steal my assignment sheets if they really wanted to mess with me.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

post-holiday edition

One of the great challenges of commuting to graduate school is living on campus for long stretches of time. I suppose the working professional should be laughing at me right now. However, I have been the working professional and I generally was able to feed myself enough to get through each day. I suppose the greater financial resources of those who work for a living do come in handy when hunger attacks.

Besides the whole food issue, though, there is the problem of personal space. While I have an office and not a cubicle, I do share that office with several people. One of them shares a desk with me, which is an experience I have never had professionally. Even interns get their own desks. I suppose the necessity of providing large amounts of classroom space precludes universities from guaranteeing that graduate students get their own desks. I do have my own set of drawers and cabinets in the shared desk, which allows me to keep dry shoes handy for days when snow and rain get on my nerves.

Each day, there are several things to prepare before leaving for campus. Food, clothing layers, books, and electronic equipment must all be sufficient to last as long as needed. In an ideal world, I would also stock up on witty stories and thought-provoking questions to share with fellow graduate students. However, as one of my comrades is a fan of a baseball team I do not admire, I generally find myself dancing so carefully around the issue that I am unable to focus on anything other than the color of the ceiling tiles. As a result, I tend to have conversations that last three minutes or less, and it doesn't take much preparation to excel at those.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

in love of thematic shifts

generally speaking, i can't say that i am as predictable as some people. however, it's fairly obvious when you read this that i'm about to start talking about snow. for those who don't care to hear about snow, here is a poem about a red hat:

bright shine on your polyester brim
crackling plastic snaps together
you belong with sunglasses
a feathered scarf and leaking pipes
saved from attic, basement, box
forgotten, obviously never worn
i'm told you were a gift

let's play rainbow chess together
wash a dirty mug when we're bored
make loaves of refreshingly tasty bread
smile and walk backwards to the hall

let us watch several thousand brushes
washing over muddy walls
flash a flicking flame on paper
drooping drastic devolved on command

now, might it be better to hear about snow than strange poems? this is your warning, however, that the following contains an exercise program.

perfect workout

38 degree weather, preferably clear skies
shorts, sweatshirt
several miles of road
parking lot piled ten feet high with snow

run over the several miles of road, plotting a course that ends in the parking lot full of snow. climb to the top of the snow, hoping to cross easily. realize instead you must trek through large amounts of the deep snow. emerge once legs are chilled to pleasant temperature, hopefully feeling refreshed.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

dig dig dig

there's something nice in a huge snowstorm to hear engines running, plows scraping, even if these sounds wake you at night. for a long time, it seemed no one was taking care of the roads, which may have been due to lack of available staff, equipment, or the strong winds. i'm sure it's snowed this much at times, but i've never seen a storm that was so overwhelming. after this is through, there's going to be a huge budget problem for the county, probably the state, and i would guess the condo association.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

snow blind

i live in a second-story townhome style condo. we have a balcony facing the street. last night, i decided to try knocking some icicles hanging over our balcony from the second story of our condo. seeing lights on in the apartment, i stopped in quickly to warn my roommate of my plan. when i got back around to gather chunks of snow to throw up at the icicles, i saw the sliding door open and realized he was going to watch me.

what began was essentially a blind snowball fight. the steep angle between the sidewalk and our balcony made hitting the icicles tricky. i couldn't see him, and wasn't aiming at him, but . when he started picking up the errant chunks and throwing them back at me, i laughed as they appeared to zoom out of nowhere. eventually, he hit my foot with a snowball and i showered him with snow several times as i struggled to knock off the icicles. both of us tried catching some snowballs, and i got smacked in the face with the exploding chunks from one of his tosses. the snow wasn't packable, so most of what we threw was icy, thrown up by the plows that had cleared the sidewalk.

eventually, i got a chunk of snow stuck in a tree branch. i tried to knock it down, unsuccessfully, and then my roommate figured out how to shower me with snow by hitting the tree branches above me. numerous people walked by knowing they might have to dodge snow thrown by invisible hands from above. perhaps he could actually see them, but i doubt it since he was out of my range of vision.

the first icicle i knocked off came just as my roommate had gone upstairs to find gloves. after he returned it took me a long time to hit any of the others. my arm slowly grew tired, and the cold began to dig into my hands. when i stopped, though, it was only because i thought it had gotten late enough to end the fun.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

when does it melt?

it seems incredibly odd to think that it's not snowing outside right now. of course, it does absolutely look like there is nothing else in the world but snow at this moment, but i didn't leave my apartment today. when it comes time to tell stories about what happened this crazy weekend, mine is going to involve baking things and revolutionary road. i guess i haven't gotten far enough for the book to drive me crazy or anything, but it's been a relatively quick read. that is almost the only thing that matters when you have to read a novel in a short period of time.

some junk about snow

final thoughts before the snow crushes the roof of my house and buries me:

i have no final thoughts. it's just a mess.

Friday, January 29, 2010


like a lot of people, i am reading catcher in the rye. i found out that jd salinger had died in class when someone mentioned that this tragedy coincided with her assignment of the book.

what i can't figure out at the moment is what goes with catcher in the rye, other than barbeque potato chips. the wombats didn't fit, and an 18th st lounge compilation didn't fit, and then i got distracted before i could figure out what would work.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

mirror not included

I have struggled to come up with decent goals for the year. Mainly this reflects the limited time I have remembered to devote to this task. So without a clear idea of what to accomplish, I will list some ideas.

-Eat 38 different purple-colored foods. I am willing to count eggplant multiple times as long asit appears in different dishes.

-Find 5 things I had thought were hopelessly lost. Find 20 things I forgot I had and get rid of most of them.

-Put together 10 to 15 songs worth of material. Writing two 30-minute compositions to make it easier would be unfair, but if that's what makes sense I have no problem with it.

-Write 70 poems, then write so many more the original goal seems tiny.

-Help someone find a job

-Acquire two skills

-Write 12 letters. The kind that get stamps.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

really actually january

the holidays are sort of lingering this year. i don't have to start school again for some time, and as a result it can be difficult to remember that all the exciting stuff has sort of happened all ready. at this point, i suppose i have to just get ready. i'm not even sure what to take this coming term, because the class i want requires me to skip several important concerts and other events. it's hard to place a value on such things in comparison to a class. after all, there are other subjects i can study. scheduling is difficult no matter what i end up doing, but i would prefer to have a way to get all of this in without the conflicts.

it is really actually january, though. technically, this month has a holiday since no one ever works on the first, but it seems to be more of a december thing. just leftovers, like the candy from your stocking. there's that football championship game deal, which they keep moving further into the month. really though it's like the month when you can't complain, because december was so exciting and the new year is kicking like crazy. all you have to do is figure out what you're going to accomplish before it's too late to decide.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

thinking of you

so maybe my vacation has gone on long enough to make me miss my home base a little. with that, let me detail the items i can recall leaving in my refrigerator. all expiration dates were carefully checked prior to my departure.

heavy cream
chocolate syrup

not particularly appetizing, although three of those will come in handy if i want to make delicious pancakes. it looks like i will be bringing some aged italian cheese home with me, so that's a start. now, here's my refrigerator wish list.

pasta sauce
soy nog
sharp cheddar
homemade pizza dough

this is strikingly similar to the list of items in my fridge a week before i left town. i guess i have simple tastes. i do happen to be fond of cereal and breakfast foods in general, so without milk and eggs i'll have a difficult time enjoying pancakes or anything of the sort. i guess i should try harder to come up with stuff i can't normally get, but i guess it's ok that i like what i usually do have in the refrigerator.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

lesson number

only mercenary tendencies keep me from belonging. i've forgotten the number of times starting over has made me forget who to avoid. at least i have a past. i'm proud of that. most likely, the people who defined the experiences i've walked away from are wishing for something simpler than i am. my desires are complicated because i've thought them over more than once. i want honesty. i seek an end to deception. i try to make people like each other. i'm on the lookout for a better cultural climate. i hope those shoes i left in the hall will be there tomorrow morning. i want everyone to stay away from me when i'm afraid.

Friday, January 01, 2010

winter hobbies

i have recently discovered that 38 degrees is about the coldest temperature i am comfortable with for running. i can run in colder weather but it isn't fun. that's a relative thing, and if i lived in a colder climate it might change. however, i have found i am willing to shoot baskets in my sister's driveway when it's 25 and snowing. it's a matter of relative interest. i suppose some things are such indoor-centric activities that i wouldn't do them outside below about 60, but i think this is an easy way to see what i actually enjoy.