The Party For "March of the Penguins" Would Have Really Rocked

Only one baseball team wins the World Series each year, and only one movie wins Best Documentary. Yet the celebration when Best Documentary is announced is nothing like a World Series celebration. I mean, when they said, "And the Academy Award for Best Documentary of 1993 goes to: I Am a Promise: The Children of Stanton Elementary School," how come the director and the producer and the lead cameraman and the editor didn't leap from their seats with mouths agape and charge the stage at top speed, screaming at the top of their lungs, jumping and flailing and then climbing all over each other at the podium, joined in a hopping mob by the guy who did the sound and the transportation coordinator and the executive from public television who helped with the funding, soon causing the whole human mass to topple over, with maybe the children of Stanton Elementary School themselves buried under the pile, laughing as jackets are torn off and seats are ripped out, and then firecrackers explode inside the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and a big electronic board flashes WE WIN! WE WIN! over and over again, and the key grip uncorks a bottle of champagne and douses everyone, and everyone just rubs it into their hair and falls to their knees and shouts "Yeeeeeeooooooooowwwwwoooooooooooo!" as the crowd claps and stomps their feet for eight minutes straight, the winners drunkenly hugging and fending off flashbulbs.

How come it's not like that? Huh?


You Can't Come With Me, I Don't Have Enough Trail Mix For Us Both





Glory is Fleeting, My Friend

Oh, I wish I could describe it to you. I really truly do. It was a feeling unlike anything else. That feeling of suddenly finding yourself on top of the world....everything coming together as beautifully as if the moment were designed by God himself. And it happened again and again, that was the amazing part of it. As you begin your career as a writer, all I can hope for you is that you're lucky enough to experience just a handful of those moments.

What can I say? We would all be there in the room, slaving away for hours....debating, deciding, crossing out good ideas, throwing away even better ones....the sun slanting through the windows, telling us we were about to miss another dinner....and then one of us would come up with something workable, and a second person would, little by little, mold that into a scene....we would find ourselves swept up in an inexplicable momentum as dialogue began to develop, all of us shouting suggestions, rising out of our seats....and I would hunch over the typewriter, typing frantically, as the scene grew and grew....until I sensed the exact moment when the absolutely perfect time had come to give it the icing it needed. In the midst of the din, I would hold my index finger the air, and there would come a total silence, and in the stillness that followed I would smile wide and methodically type those words which once again transported us:

ARNOLD (frowning)
Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis?

And after that, we would all just sigh and lean back in our chairs, knowing we had earned our keep and that the rest of the session would be a cakewalk. Ah, if you can ever know the satisfaction we felt....wait, are you asleep again? Jesus. Next time, have a few more vodkas before the entree even comes, all right? You're pathetic.


Meals of Vengeance

It sits, not thirty feet away from me, separated by just one wall. I fear it, yet I crave it. Actually, I don't know if I even crave it anymore. How can anyone crave such a horrible thing, even with the veritable fountain of nutrition it promises? It out of hand.

There are one hundred and seven different grains in that loaf of bread in the kitchen. One hundred and seven. Imagine it. I started modestly. "I'll try my hand at making multi-grain bread," I said to myself, "to pass the time on this bleak, rainy day, for celebrity poker is a re-run." The next thing I knew, it was four a.m. Now I can see the sun peeking above the clouds through the windows of my bedroom. Dawn has come. And I am frightened.

My door is locked. It's locked because I swear I can actually hear those grains making some kind of sound. When I stuffed the fiftieth grain inside the yeast, I sat down and took a long, troubled breath, because I sensed the ever-growing loaf move beneath my fingers. At seventy-five grains, there was no question anymore: the uncooked loaf pulsated like an evil heart. Yet I pressed on. But something about the sound....a loaf which pulsates because of an abundance of grains is a mere freak of nature, but a loaf which somehow cries out to be set free of its awful, cluttered chains of wholesomeness....that is something to beware.

Too many grains. Just too many. More than any human should ever have attempted. And what do I have to defend myself with? A lamp, perhaps. An old box of Iron Man comic books. What if....what if it gets in?

Absurd. Impossible. In its present uncooked form, it is utterly harmless to be sure.

But what if by cramming so many grains into its yearning maw, the loaf somehow acquired the intelligence to open the oven, set the temperature....and get in?

What then?

What then?


The Damning of Sissy Spacek

Damn you, Sissy Spacek! Damn you for destroying the only celebrity encounter I've ever had and probably ever will have! How could you? Don't you know how long I've waited for a moment like this? And now it's gone. Gone!

There you were, on the boardwalk at Cape May. A genuine star! An acclaimed film actress! Nominations! Maybe even an actual Oscar, I forget if you won one or not for that coal movie!

And yet I was stymied. Stymied! I didn't even approach because, let's face it, you're Sissy Spacek. Standing there buying Dippin' Dots for a teenager, probably your kid. Wearing a baggy sun dress. Being all "family oriented" and whatnot. Oh, no, you've never felt the need to gossip, drop names, point fingers, bash your co-stars, cause contractual headaches. God forbid you should ever have had a torrid affair with somebody or at least bought a house the size of Sarajevo somewhere in Hollywood. No no, you've had to be a "real person" all these years, shunning the spotlight. Well, what good does that do someone who's been waiting to run into a real celebrity all these years? Where's the suspense of what I'm gonna get with Sissy Freaking Spacek? I'm sure you'd be all like, "Oh, um, hello, yes, I'll sign your boat of curly fries if you really need me to," and then you'd smile shyly, like you're truly embarrassed to be a star, and turn your non-makeupped, non-divorced face away and go on about your stupefyingly boring business. No threat of a punch in the face from you, oh no. That wouldn't be the thing to do "in front of the children." You're so boring and so human it makes me sick! Tell you what, why don't you and Shelley Duvall get together and swap Ragu coupons at the community pool and enjoy the simple life all you want, just stay off the streets! You're ruining everything for everybody! Everybody gets one celebrity encounter in their life, and you flushed mine without a care in the world!

Where are my car keys, I heard somebody who looks a little like Corey Feldman just rented a house somewhere nearby.


Yeah, Not What I Was Expecting, Not What I Was Expecting

Dear contestant:

Congratulations on leaving us with this home version of Wheel of Fortune! You may not have won our top prize and continued to win money night after night, but now you can have all the fun of Wheel any time you like right at your kitchen table, and share it with your family too!

We just know you'll enjoy the home game. We've analyzed the tape of your episode in great detail, and the set you have now will use a spinner, dice, a light-up clue board, a secret answer sleeve, and small figurines representing Pat, Vanna, and all the contestants who beat you in order to re-create every moment of your specific Wheel of Fortune experience, right down to the final round in which your incorrect guess led to bankruptcy! You'll have great fun re-living the anticipation, the tension, the highs, and ultimately, the crushing lows that this game will provide for you in exactly the same way every time! Play it alone or with others!

The best part of it all is, the game re-creates the entire episode in just fifteen minutes or so, since there's no need to spend any time trying to figure out the puzzles---surely you remember all three of them, especially the one you came so close to solving, but couldn't!

Once again, we hope you enjoyed your Wheel experience as much as you logically could given your failure. Display this box proudly in your hall closet or storage shed!

-The producers


Women Is Problems

The girlfriend and I had "the talk" last night. I knew it was coming. I've had "the talk" enough times by now to sense when it's going to happen. We had just finished a spirited sixteen-round Yahtzee tournament when it got kind of quiet and she got this weird look on her face. Finally she turned to me and said, kind of self-righteously, "My God, you don't think I exist, do you?"

I mentally rolled my eyes. I explained to her that no, of course I didn't think she existed, which I figured would have been obvious to her by now, since we live together and everything, and I just thought I had every right to believe that I am, in fact, the only "real" person on earth, and that all I see and hear and touch, including every person I know, is an illusion created for my benefit to test daily the skills and abilities that the Creator assigned me. I honestly don't see this as a problem, but my girlfriend got all huffy and crossed her arms and asked me how long this had been going on, and I told her that it had been going on pretty much since birth, and I was who I was. I mean, nothing had to change. We could still sleep together and go to the movies and such. So what if her every word and action had always been vaguely comical to me, reduced in importance to the level of a cartoon character on a TV screen---like Bugs Bunny, she's not real! How am I supposed to react to her? Did she really think I'd come out with half the utter b.s. I do if I thought she existed? Did she think my occasional spontaneous tap dancing and loud, bizarre public utterances were the behavior of someone who had any fear of the meaningless phantasms that make up the world? (Sometimes in the middle of talking to my girlfriend I'll yell stuff like "Apple building waffle pipes!" or something, just because, you know, there can't be any repercussions, and I like to see how the Creator has her react.)

So now I can see this is going to be a big dramatic thing between us, especially since I said that yes, I was certainly likely to smother her quietly as she slept one night if I got bored with her. She wouldn't feel it, of course, just as nothing which isn't real can feel pain or even experience mortality. All that matters is how the Creator takes note of my actions. (I definitely feel like I'm doing really well in this existence, and I'm pretty confident I'm going to be here a while.) Penny has stopped talking to me at the moment. If she doesn't get over it, I'm curious to see what sort of female gets placed in my realm for my observation and study next. This thing the human-like props around me call "love" is kind of fun to toy with, but it's not like Tivo or some of the other cool things which are "invented" from time to time, obviously to reward me for performing well. Tivo is the bomb.


My Poem About Something I Used to Have

Pressed into silence by the rainstorm outside
I invaded the memories of my youth
which my mother had stored away in my closet.
Comic books, report cards, collages of oceans and skies
and all the imagined enemies of Superman
were cast aside with one fond glance
until there, beneath a cape I'd worn when I was a six year old vampire
lay the thing I'd hoped to find all along.

The little plastic pieces had been sorted into sandwich bags
and I spilled them out across the floor.
Yellow, red, blue, green, and orange:
more than enough for my design,
a house on a hill and no one inside.

One by one I inserted the pieces into the mute black board
and I crossed and uncrossed my legs, and I made mistakes and had inspirations,
until forty minutes of my life were gone. Then I flipped a switch,
and my house on a hill with no one inside
was illuminated in a burst of technology
by a wattage powerful enough
to warm a small blade of grass by one degree
or perhaps light up the interior of an entire cigar box.

I looked at my dimly glowing creation for a moment
as the rain lathered my bedroom windows,
the horizontal green line of my ground
and the diagonal blue zigzag which represented smoke
from a chimney built out of eight red squares.
Forty minutes of work resulting in about five seconds of payoff.

I realized then that I should have just written the word "LOSER" on my Lite Brite
and snuck up on my brother
and flipped the switch at just the key moment,
devastating him with satire,
and at the same time warning him away
from his own future experiments with memory
which would result in nothing more profound
than one infinitely sad proclamation
just a little too long to spell out with those tiny colored teeth:
"This thing is absolutely no fun if you're not seven."


I Use the Classifieds Only to Wipe Up My Many Orangina Spills

Today was what you might call a good day. At 8:15 I was in a huge meeting room with six guys in suits all staring at me as I picked idly at the bottom of my sneaker and casually rubbed the spaghetti sauce stain from my Eddie Rabbit T-shirt. My strategy had paid off handsomely. I had these guys in the palm of my hand.

"Soren," the head dude said, "when we here at Microsoft received your resume in the mail, at first we were puzzled. We wondered why a man whose highest position had been working as a part-time assistant sandwich maker at Potbelly's would apply to become the new CEO of the world's largest computer corporation. But then it hit us like a blast of wind from a super-expensive hair dryer. You think big and you think bold."

I smiled. Damn right, I thought.

"Soren," the head dude's legal lackey said, "all the other losers we were considering for the post may have multiple computer science and business degrees and decades of high-responsibility decision-making under their belts, but you were willing to use your own printer ink and a first class stamp to apply for a position so far above your head that we'd become the laughingstock of the entire world if we even spent valuable time sending you a rejection letter. Young man, unlike people with normal brains, you look at a challenge you couldn't possibly even afford the proper suit and tie to take on, and you say 'Sign me up, bitches!' "

I sighed as if bored. Some new guy piped in.

"You must have known there was no way we could just turn our backs on such a quixotic rebel," he said. "The very immensity of your mind-boggling presumption all but obligated us to respond, lest our organization be seen as frightened of risks. We've decided---and surely you foresaw this brilliantly---that we have no choice but to counter your radical gambit with one of our own: we're going to hire you without even an interview."

My poker face remained.

"'s time for a sea change within our industry," some fourth guy added, "a crazy roll of the dice which will shake Wall Street to its core and re-define our brand as one completely in tune with the irresponsible, risk-taking lifestyle shared by professional basketball players and East Village hipsters alike. By God, Soren Narnia, you're our man! When can you start?!"

I yawned and said, "Fellas, first off, I don't even get out of bed for less than eight dollars an hour."

It went on from there. Let's just say that I know what I'm doing, job-search-wise. No, I won't be taking Microsoft's money. I've also faxed resumes to German parliament, which is looking to name a new ambassador to Ghana, and to the Texas Rangers, who aren't actively looking for a new general manager right now, but who I'm sure will freeze like deer in the headlights when they look in my "Job Experience" section and see that I once spent a couple of weeks selling peanuts on the street outside a minor league stadium in Fort Lauderdale. Oh yes indeed, the spoils go to those who grab for the brass ring no matter where it is. That's me, folks. Try not to get your clothes dirty standing in my dust.


A Very Typical Problem of Adult Life

DREAM JOURNAL, week of July 14

July 11: I dreamt I was sitting in a Bennigan's while in the booth behind me two lesbians were loudly discussing who was truly the best rebounder in the WNBA. The conversation went on and on. I remember every detail. Just when I thought they were moving on to a new topic, they started in again. I would say their discussion of the WNBA's best rebounder went on for approximately thirty to forty minutes.

July 12: Dreamt of the lesbians at Bennigan's again. They were discussing the same thing, only this time, the conversation took a slight twist when one of the lesbians began to compare the best WNBA rebounders with women of similar skill in the college ranks. At some point I seem to remember eating ribs as the lesbians in the booth behind me talked about rebounding. I would estimate that their discussion lasted somewhere in the neighborhood of forty-five to fifty minutes.

July 13: The lesbian dream again. Still at Bennigan's. This time the conversation became heated when Lesbian #1 refused to accept the fact that rebounding and defense were somehow more important collectively than perimeter scoring and the transition game. I ate quietly in my booth as they spoke. Eventually their conversation came slowly back to who was the best rebounder. There seemed to be an agreement on the identity of this rebounder, but the runners-up in their evaluation differed. I gauge their debate to have gone on for about one full hour.

July 14: For the fourth straight night, I dreamt of lesbians at Bennigan's discussing who was the WNBA's best rebounder. This time, though, the first and second halves of the debate were interspersed with a seventy-five minute conversation on the topic of where the next meeting of their Pinochle group would be held. Lesbian #1 believed the meeting should be held at a house belonging to someone named Janet (who was possibly also a Bennigan's-frequenting lesbian, though I cannot be sure), while Lesbian #2 favored Bennigan's itself. In the dream I also ordered a milkshake which never actually came.

July 15: Rigged up a primitive device which will severely scald my flesh with boiling hot steam if I ever fall asleep again, even for the briefest of moments. The device has already worked twice to perfection. I have entered into a state of crazed yet transcendent wakefulness. I see spots and shimmering lines on the walls, sometimes even frightening shapes and faces, and I cannot think clearly for more than sixty seconds at a time, yet the device will remain set in its locked and fully coiled position. It is good and valuable. There can be no sleep. None. None.


Zo Ba Da Bee, Zo Ba De Bop

I did it! I got my certificate of completion in the mail today. It got a little scrunched up, but that doesn't make it any less official. I am proud to say that after an intensive sixteen-week course, I am now able to flawlessly pretend I like jazz. The course work was rigorous (sometimes unfair, if you want to know the truth), but damn if I didn't get some of the highest marks in the class. I don't know how long I've been trying to pretend to like jazz, figuring the passion for pretending to like it would just magically come to me one day. No one ever really told me that the only way to really achieve the appreciation and respect for pretending to like it could only come through sheer effort. This is going to be great---I cannot wait for JazzFest '06 on the common. I've already snagged my tickets. A whole day of sitting out in the sun and pretending to like jazz! Everyone should really come out with me, it's going to be great. I can't impart to you what I've learned, you'll just have to 'feel' it for now, but that doesn't mean we can't have a great time anyway. Newcomers to jazz can have fun just making an effort at trying to pretend to like it. Don't over-analyze; just give faking it a shot and see if it appeals to you, and you can work up from there! All it's really about is letting yourself go and grooving on the sheer vibe of pretending to like jazz.

Best two thousand bucks I ever spent.


Where Do I Find That Neat Bar With All the Freaks?

I don't think I've ever made a worse career choice than the one I'm stuck in right now, let me tell you. Just today I've been here since seven, and if it's not one thing, it's another. Being the only guy on the Death Star who knows how to set up any kind of audio visual equipment gets me all the work and none of the respect. I don't know what the record for pointless slide shows is, but these people must be pushing it. Every ten seconds my beeper goes off and it's "Hey, can you get over to 513A East Star and set up a screen, we need to show our plans for taking over the galaxy to some newbies." And absolutely nobody seems to know the first thing about getting a hologram to work. I'll take a golf cart up twelve levels right in the middle of my lunch break just to find out some idiot in a jumpsuit switched the AUDIO IN cable with the AUDIO OUT. From there it's down to the Grand Hall of Sinister Declarations to replace a bulb in the eighty-foot telescreen just seconds before Monsieur Vader's big melon head is supposed to appear on it, yakking about this and that through defective speakers which no one seems to want to cough up a lousy two hundred bucks to fix, so once again everyone in the back few rows can't hear a word that's being said. For all this I'm getting paid eleven dollars an hour. Everyone tells me I should be delighted with just having a job on the Death Star. Tell you what---the day I see one Stormtrooper learn to simply hook up a new microphone to the PA system so that the constant cries of "BREACH IN THE OUTER SHIELD, FEDERATION SHIPS WITHIN THE SYSTEM" don't come through with every other word chopped in half with static, I'll be delighted. Till then, I'm moody and bitter and surly, like everyone else who works on this thing. (Exception: Heather down in Electronics Acquisitions. Purrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.)


The Fathoming of the Unfathomables

I met my source in a parking garage on the edge of town. I knew I was risking everything, but the story had gone cold on me. I must have been insane---digging this deep for information which could possibly be used against my own newspaper.

Shadowy Sid was there as promised, standing on the stained tarmac of the third level. He looked around nervously as I approached.

"Did you change cabs?" he asked.

"Yes," I said. "Now what can you tell me?"

"I've changed my mind," he said mistrustfully, lighting a cigarette. "We're not going to talk about this issue."

I frowned, confused. "But we talked about Beetle Bailey," I said.

"This is different," Shadowy Sid whispered.

I stared at him, agog. "That was a story about a comic strip that should have stopped running about three decades ago. It doesn't get any bigger than that."

"This is different," he said again. "Tell me what you know, and maybe I can confirm." Holy smoke, I thought, I must be on to something huge.

I took a deep breath. "We know that the paper, like every other paper in America, is always squeezed for space. And we know that the Bridge column appeals to virtually no one. But there it is, day after day. Just tell me why."

"You're missing the overall," Sid whispered. "And I can't tell you anything. It's too dangerous."

"Dammit," I hissed, "there's a huge honking Bridge column in every metropolitan newspaper, and I'm the only one who's got the guts to stick his neck out and demand to know why. Are you going to help me or not?"

"Follow the Chess column," Sid told me.

"I've tried that. But it doesn't make any sense either."

"Follow the Chess column," Sid said. "Now about this issue, don't contact me again. What time is it?"

"Noon," I said. "We probably should have done this in the middle of the night or something. Sorry." Cars continued to zip around us, beeping impatiently as they looked for spaces, every third driver rolling his window down to ask if I was about to leave. After giving directions to the nearest Radio Shack to a mother with three kids in a minivan, Sid turned and made his way quickly out of the garage to catch the 12:35 showing of Over the Hedge. I knew better than to follow him.

I won't give up on this story. It's too big. Listen, you're either with me or against me on this one. (Or, if you want to stay somewhere in between, we'll compromise: I'll try not to call you at dinnertime to see if you've uncovered anything new.)

The daily Bridge column. For the love of William Randolph Hearst, why?


But For Another Three Grand, I'll Look the Other Way

Mr. Coppola,

Having reviewed your script as technical adviser to the film, I can say that virtually all of it is historically accurate. To respond to your specific questions: Air strike forces did in fact sometimes play loud music to intimidate the enemy, so this is an acceptable scenario to include; also, it was not uncommon for Green Berets to advance through the military ranks on a timeline similar to that of Mr. Brando's character in the script, and your portrayal of the geography of Cambodia's lower rivers is correct.

I do have one strong issue with a certain line in the film, and must insist that it be changed if you are to claim that Apocalypse Now is a true depiction of the nature of combat. Here is the aforementioned line as it technically should read, according to the facts of battle as I experienced them:

CAPTAIN KILGORE: I love the smell of napalm in the morning. Smells like....cake mix.

Also, may I say, having served in three wars, that I've never heard American soldiers use swear words. We just don't do that kind of thing.

Sgt. Elbin Tatternbuck


The Poultry and I

The trouble started two weeks ago. There was a pounding on my front door at ten o'clock at night. I ran downstairs and opened the door, and there was Gavin, one of the chickens from next door. He was panting and out of breath.

"Jesus Christ!!" he shouted, stumbling into the living room. "Farmer John just went off his freakin' rocker and started killing chickens left and right! Started lopping off heads with a short-handled axe! Holy m-----f------ crap! I've never seen anything like it! Said he was gonna sell us for meat! For meat, for God's sake! Crazy ass son of a b----! You gotta hide me! You got to!"

I sighed and agreed to give Gavin a safe house for a few nights. I'm a nice guy. He spent every waking moment pacing the living room and peering out the windows.

"He's gonna come for me, man," Gavin would say, "he knows I saw everything that went down. He can't let me walk around. He'll be here. And then....oh man...."

Then the chain-smoking began, and the sleeping with one eye open, which was just creepy in addition to him taking up half the bed, and then the raiding of the fridge. The days passed and we got on each other's nerves. He kept re-living what he had seen on the farm and swearing he was going to get on a bus out of this "godforsaken burg", and then he got all peeved when I wouldn't loan him the money. Things went downhill from there. It was clear that Gavin intended to move in permanently.

I admit it, I slipped a little Seconal into Gavin's popcorn as we were watching a Mets game. After that, I shoved him into my gym bag and walked him back over to Farmer John's. I apologized for hiding him for so long, but Farmer John was cool with it.

Last night, here it came again, the pounding on the door, this time at two a.m. It was Gavin again, flapping his little wings like mad, dashing past me as I opened the door and crawling under the piano.

"That crazy bastard snagged me in the middle of the night, stuffed me in a gym bag, and took me back to that slaughterhouse of a farm!" he cried in full panic mode. "I busted loose tonight! You see? You see? I told you he was coming for my ass! I'm lucky to be alive! You know how many chickens he's whacked over there? He's freakin' Charles Manson, man! The papers are never gonna believe it! He kills us and sells us for meat! Not in my wildest god--mn nightmares, you know what I'm saying? Come on, do me a favor, we gotta sleep in a motel tonight! Grab some stuff, we don't have much time!"

I'm having these thoughts now. Of a plump, juicy chicken breast slathered in barbecue sauce with sweet corn and a baked potato on the side, washed down with a thick chocolate shake. Hell, I haven't eaten meat in six years, but I can't seem to get the craving out of my head.

I'm scum, I know. Look, you don't need to get any further involved in this. I'll talk to you later.


Technicolor Reveals the Brackish Abyss of the Soul

Well, last night was a sad night for all of us, as Trevor Bidwill, best remembered in the film industry as the brash, fiery assistant producer who was so instrumental in bringing Singin' in the Rain' to the silver screen, died peacefully at the age of 86, surrounded by family, friends, and colleagues. He had a terrific, exciting life, and Singin' in the Rain was just one of the many successful films he had a hand in. But of course his contributions to the Gene Kelly classic, which included hiring the music arrangers and suggesting Debbie Reynolds for the female lead, will be his ultimate legacy.

The very end was a little bit unfortunate for Trevor, for though he was physically in no pain, he was haunted by memories. "Oh, I can never forgive myself," he whispered as we all crowded around his bed. "How could we have made a picture that encouraged dancing in a total downpour? How many people died of pneumonia after that movie came out, thinking it was a good idea?"

When we heard him say these words, we fell silent. His longtime agent, Arthur Rosen, patted him on the arm to soothe him.

"How many deaths did we cause?" Trevor kept wondering aloud. "My God, we practically told people to go out in torrential conditions without proper umbrella protection or concern for all the viruses that awaited them. We made it seem like such a jaunt! How many tombstones are there in the world today because of what we espoused?"

What could we do? We thought it would be cruel to lie to Trevor. He deserved honesty in his final hours.

"Sure, many probably died," his younger sister Ella told him, "but you have to let it go."

"And it's all our fault," he insisted.

What were our options when he put it so bluntly? He would have known we were being untruthful. "People have to die of something," said his wife of forty years. "All the movie did was bring on death much sooner than they expected through the pneumonia they probably got. No one forced them to sing and dance in the rain after they left the theater."

"But we put it into their heads," Trevor whispered feebly.

"Well....yes, true, when you put it that way," said a distant cousin. "Still, that's all in the past."

"But people are still renting and buying it," Trevor said, almost out of strength. "I am a monster. We all were, those who brought that story to the screen."

No one commented on this fact. It wasn't completely deniable, given the probable pneumonia deaths, so we merely let it pass, to be as gentle as we could. Trevor was gone moments later.

Oh, how cruel life is, to make one realize one's folly so close to the final sunset! Trevor passed on knowing he'd had a good life and that he'd made one pretty drastic mistake. All in all, still a fair balance, I think. Don't you?


The Tell-Tale Hoover

It's nothing to worry about. Really. In fact, I don't even know why I'm bothering to write a blog entry about it. I'm just going to shrug it off. It's ridiculous to even bring it up, if you want the truth.

It's just that, um, I can't find the On button on my vacuum cleaner. Silly, right? I mean, obviously it's there. Of course it's there somewhere. I paid $179 for this thing, it's got an On button. How else would it collect dust off the freaking floor? It's just that, you know, I've looked pretty much all over this baby, and yeah, I just can't seem to find it.

Honestly, it really doesn't seem to be anywhere. That sounds stupid, I know. But I run my hands up and down, up and down, all around, and nothing. Ha! I laugh! It's not an angry laugh, either. I am amused. I am in control of myself.

Sure, I get upset sometimes when I think about it. Or even look at it, sitting there in the corner, seeming to mock me. It felt like a game at first, but now, um, not so much. I cuss, sure. I swear. I've broken a couple of things. I told Janet that if I didn't find the On button soon we wouldn't be going to the ocean this weekend or getting engaged. I only half-meant it.

It's like they designed this thing to torture me and only me. I can imagine them chortling in their laboratory at the thought of me on my hands and knees trying to find the On button. Why would they do that to me? What sort of monsters are they? Am I so wrong for visualizing their death by fire, or making preparatory notes for the attack I dream of at night, notes I'm naturally just going to throw away without really going through with it?

For to do something like that would be madness. Ha!

They keep calling from work. "When are you coming back to work?" they say. Their voices reverberate in my brain and make it spin dangerously. Soon, I tell them, soon. I just need to find this On button. And then everything will be fine.

I'd like to find the On button. I really would. I don't want to lose any more sleep, or weight for that matter. The thought of food repulses me. Food or showering. I want to, you know, take care of this one little thing first. You understand that, don't you?

Ha. Ha ha! Ha ha!

I feel faint. I'm going to lie down for a while, and then I'll try again. Maybe SuckTech's web site will be back up. Maybe. But it won't come to that. I'll find the On button. I will. It's got to be there.

Excuse me now. I need to be alone. Whatever you hear from my room, don't worry about it. Just go on with your business.

On button.


It's So Very Hot Today. So Very Hot.

I joined one of those Be a Friend to the Zoo programs today, where you 'adopt' one of the pandas. Warning: If you do something like this, you really get what you pay for. I chose the Super Saver program. You know what you get for twelve dollars? They send you a postcard when the panda dies.


Free Water Included Too---Tap, Spring, or Sparkling!

Look at my menu. Just look at it for a second. Beef bourguignon with caramelized mushrooms and watercress. Pan-seared Alaskan king salmon in parsely lemon butter with watercress. White wine-braised rabbit with roasted potatoes and red wine risotto. Those were just the Thursday specials.

Yet the place is going under. We're just not bringing in the customers. I don't know what else to try. Claude-Jean's blueberry tarts just won the Prix Nationale, for God's sake, they take all day to make, and yet there's no one to order them half the time. I just dropped $2800 on re-surfacing the bar to give it just the right look, and still the receipts are just barely covering expenses. We even have the best valet parking in the city now that I've won my fight with the city council. Someone please tell me what the ingredients are for a successful upscale restaurant, because I guess I sure as hell don't know them.

There is one thing I have yet to try, but it's really just a complete prayer. In my most dire moments, I've actually considered throwing out our policy of charging customers according to how fast they eat. But how am I going to ensure a steady table turnover rate if I no longer charge people five cents per second of dining time and merely affix a price to the food itself? I've wondered occasionally if the sights and sounds of a roomful of well-dressed people shoving high-end meals into their gobs with their hands at dizzying speed are turning people off. There have been several choking incidents, but I've put these down to Mimi's overly subtle steaming of the asparagus tips—they can get a little stringy if she's having an off-night. There's nothing more satisfying, though, than seeing an attractive couple come in for a pre-opera meal and walk out in sixteen minutes flat, even if a lot of the teriyaki pork medallions with spring peas wind up on the front of the woman's dress and the guy looks nauseous as he parts our doors with half a slice of vanilla-drizzled cheesecake hanging out of his mouth, chewing as carefully as he can (I let the half-in, half-out food slide if a diner can get out in under twenty minutes). Should I let my standards down and be just like every other restaurant? Have I thought too far outside of the box? Is that even possible?

No, I'm not even going to think about rescinding my pricing policy for now. I'll play with the name of the place again, see if I can come up with something a little more "now" than RickyBoy's Feedhole.


Note to Self: Pick an Easy Satirical Target and Just Throw Jokes Out There

I guess I'm the only one with the guts to say that CollageMasters has really gone downhill in its fourth season. These new theme nights are just too tough for the contestants---I feel so bad for them! Last night when Dakota was told that the week's featured magazine was Newsweek, the look on her face broke my heart. Sure, cutting pictures from Newsweek and making a collage about current events is great for a guy contestant like Barry, that smarmy hick, but it's not fair to someone like Dakota. And just because she did such a great collage during Elle week doesn't mean she's safe from the bottom three. And whoever gave Kylie that defective pair of scissors should be fired from the show! She lost a good two minutes of cutting time, plus her copy of National Geographic was really lame, with way too many pictures of boring volcanoes. The producers should be helping these people, not hurting them! Meanwhile, I thought it was a bad move for Ricky to switch from rubber cement to Elmer's glue and use so much purple glitter on his collage about his favorite TV shows. He's really lost his edge if you ask me. I picked him to win the whole thing when the season started because he always chose really great posterboard colors for his backgrounds during the audition rounds, but he's fading fast. You know, I may not even watch the final three shows. I might catch little bits of the results shows just because my roommate's always watching and the TV is in the living room and I obviously can't get to the kitchen without walking through there, but I'm done with caring about it or trying for hours to get my vote through on my cell phone. I have better things to do. Like making my own collages, which are better than half the ones you see on the show, by the way.

Newsweek. What does Kylie know about current events? They say she barely got through community college! Come on!