Mental exercise

What was I doing last night?
I walked to the train after work because the Dobl

The best thing I ever ate

Nice place, Venice. We took the night train down, arrived 8 in the morning. A few minutes later Alpha was showing me around the market there, crabs and octopi and fruit and all that good stuff. We sat by a canal and drank

The nail-clipper and the dead earwig

The mechanic says it’s the head gasket and not the thermostat, a big difference in his favor. It’s sort of at the point where I have to decide whether to have the repair made or just junk the car, but it is just slightly cheaper to have the repair made. Thank you, Fiat corporation.

Yesterday I got a pay cut. Anyone out there with money-making schemes, ex-members of flakey governments for example, I’m all ears.

This morning, the Hans Christian Andersen story of the nail-clipper and the dead earwig played itself out in my downstairs bathroom.

You remember that one, don’t you. How the nail-clipper in the drawer and the dead earwig in the shower drain are in love but can’t figure out how to get together? And this guy taking a crap and cutting his toenails at the same time drops the nail-clipper guess where?

Kerplunk. Only, unlike the little tin soldier who ends up going down a drain, getting swallowed by a carp, found in the carp’s stomach by the cook and reunited with his beloved ballerina figurine, this guy reaches into this filthy toilet and digs out the nail clipper and washes it off, because being a home-owner he knows how narrow the diameter of the plumbing is and cannot afford a plumber on top of everything else just now; he had no choice. Plus, he’s fairly inured to disgust at this point in his life, having pets and children and a passing interest in politics. He washes off the nail clipper and finishes clipping his nails with the goddamned thing. And then he takes a shower, but first he gets a piece of tissue and removes hair and the dead earwig from the drain, that drain basket thing. Throws that into the trash.
Typical Hans Christian Andersen, unhappy ending.

The cool thing about an experience like that first thing in the morning, though: your day can only get better.

I figure I got some money coming to me in tomorrow’s lottery.

Wee Bug: Dad’s Girl

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Originally posted January 2004

A small eye of calm at the center of the universe

Car still being reanimated so caught a ride into town with my wife, later in the morning than I usually leave. Because of this, I had time to walk Gamma to school. She was ready on time, didn’t need any nagging at all. She was awfully quiet at one point, upstairs in her room. It turned out she was watering her plants.

Are you ready to go, I asked her.

Look at you, she said. Are you sure you’re not a secret agent?

What are you talking about?

Look at yourself in the mirror, she said. I looked. I was wearing new sunglasses I had picked up in Venice. Maybe I do look a little like a secret agent, I thought. My mood elevated significantly.

We walked past the neighbor’s house with the stupid dog on the way to Gamma’s school. It came out and barked at us. Go to hell, you stupid moron German shepherd, I said. It kept barking and snarling and heaving itself against their fence to get at us.

Hello Gypsy, Gamma said. How are you today, Gypsy? Everything okay Gypsy?

The dog stopped barking. Do you know what the dog’s name is, she asked me.

I’ll bet it’s Gypsy, I said.

Knowing what you want

On my mind lately has been the possibility that, when one knows exactly what one wants, then no one can stop one, to the extent of one’s ability and resources. This I have observed in Gamma wheedling what she wants out of me, and Beta relentlessly working to achieve what she wants to, and Alpha of course etc etc.

Last night as I put Gamma to bed I grabbed a book off the shelf at random; actually, I was looking for a particular Dahl book, couldn’t find it and instead went looking for something else in English, and stumbled across “Fantastic Stories” by Terry Jones and let Gamma pick to stories out and she chose “Ship of Fools” and “The Fast Road”.

“Ship of Fools” is about a boy, Ben, who runs away to sea and finds himself on a ship of fools. They lose the ship in a storm, despite Ben’s heroic efforts.

    By dawn the storm had died down, and Ben was exhausted, but he’d managed to save everyone. One of the fools, however, had thrown all the oars overboard while Ben hadn’t been watching, so they couldn’t row anywhere. And now the First Mate was so hungry he’d started to eat the lifeboat!

Overall, it was nauseating how closely the story matched the antics of the Bush “administration”.

The second story, “The High Road” was about a magical road that took you where you wanted to go, very quickly. The only catch was, you had to know exactly where you wanted to go, otherwise it took you nowhere, equally fast, and you end up in Nowhere, wandering around among other people also wandering around, trying to figure out where they are.

The Dobl


There are times a certain, specific image grabs you like a space leech from a science-fiction film, and not just any science-fiction film but a very specific science-fiction film, namely not, say, a B-movie with teens running around the 1950s and not some modern Hollywood CGI spectacle with ferrets flying up Darth Vader’s ass, but rather a hypothetical film made in Kazakhstan by a young Kazakhstani director several years ago but only recently discovered and distributed in art-houses in the West with grainy, odd subtitles; based on a script, an old script, so old it was once supposed to be filmed by Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein but was ultimately shelved after disagreements on changes to the script when Eisenstein, for example, especially after seeing a performance by a Japanese kabuki troupe in 1928, insisted on synthesizing all the elements of his film — gesture, sound, costume, sets and color — into a single, powerful, polyphonic experience and was, personally and sadly for the project, unconvinced that certain elements of the script as it then was would allow for this; so that the script mouldered on the shelf until, decades later, it was rediscovered in an archive by the aforementioned young Kazakhstani film director who saw in it an apt metaphor for the state of society in the post-USSR republics and turned it into a powerful statement ultimately shown at a Sundance Festival and picked up by Miramax, maybe, or someone else, you’d know that better than I would, and that, anyway, had these leeches, which although they were very in-your-face physical bloodsucking leeches, about the size of an omlette with rows of gripping barbed teeth and the power of flight over short distances did not play a central role in the film. That’s the sort of leech I’m talking about. And you have to get that image out, so your train of thought can finally pull out of the station, whether it makes a goddamned bit of sense or not.