Survived it. Actually, it went really well. More in this space tomorrow, gotta run.

International conspiracy

Taking applications for international conspiracy. Knowledge of foreign languages, esp. Russian, Latin, French, German, Slovenian, Italian etc helpful. Also needed: graphic design skillz, computer programming knowledge, and/or general deviousness or deviancy. Willingness to travel helpful but not necessary. Apply to metamorphosist (“at” sign) All applications confidential.

(since this is top secret, i’ll be closing comments on this post. contact by email only)


On the sidewalk, in a residential area of Vienna, an old man asks a young garbageman for directions. The young man gave him really good directions, using garbage cans as landmarks.

Impending recitals are a great laxative, did you know that?

They are.

All in all, the cello business is going okay. Last week, walking down the hall of the music school, three music teachers greeted me in a friendly manner, one after the other. That was nice. And on Monday, a kid greeted me as I went into the school. “Servus,” he said. “Huh?” I said. I didn’t recognize him immediately, because he was wearing a hat and was with parents. I’m used to seeing him with no hat and a cello. Whoever I talk to, I assume they’re the same size as me. So seeing a kid with grownups threw me off, because in such a situation the grownups are of course my size.

I eventually greeted the kid back. How cool is that, kids greeting you on the street.

“That’s that old guy I was telling you about who can’t do vibrato,” he probably told his parents when I went around the corner. Well, he’d be wrong. I’m the guy who is on the verge of almost being able to do vibrato.

I can, in fact, do vibrato as long as it’s a long note and nothing else tricky is going on. I saw a kid doing it to beat the band at an orchestral performance, jesus, his vibrato! So I went home and tried it, inspired, and it sort of worked.

Now if I could only remember to breathe. I had a practice with my teacher last night and forgot to breathe again. He sat there breathing, sort of loudly at certain parts, to remind me to breathe, and that worked okay. I got more oxygen. Now if I can just remember to breathe at the recital tonight. Remember to breathe, and not to think too much, especially not, “hey, this is going great!” because that’s what I think right before the notes tangle up.

Also, two guys asked me if I want to be in a string quartet. One is a viola, the other is a violin. Now all we need is another violin, hopefully a real ringer who can play the hard parts and make us sound good.

Road trip with the kids

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Originally posted Feb. 2004

Little-known facts about the Great White Whale


  • The great white whale normally lives beneath the North Pole, at fantastic depths that would crush any other whale like a fortune cookie. It is in fact what the old legends about the man living in the north are based on. Google it if you don’t believe me.

  • The song of the great white whale rhymes, but only at a metaphysical level.
  • Someday, scientists will decipher the lyrics to its song, which are, “told you so, motherfuckers, told you so.”
  • The great white whale knows that the end of the world will be accompanied by a many armed goddess playing the cello like you’ve never heard. Her intonation will be so perfect.
  • So if you see a many-armed goddess playing the ukulele, relax, it’s not the end of the world.
  • The great white whale is susceptible to sadness around birthdays and anniversaries, like a lot of other people.
  • The great white whale can strip a room of wallpaper, sand the floor, paint the walls and paint the floor in a single weekend.
  • It doesn’t even get flustered when it realizes it will have to give the floor two more coats, and sand it by hand. Its shoulders are broad.
  • On the other hand, something little like the lock breaking on the bathroom door so the door is stuck shut and the whale has no access to its shaving equipment or hair products for a day or two until the lock guy comes can totally piss it off in a straw-that-broke-the-camel’s-back apocaplectic sort of way, for a few minutes, until the whale thinks that it’s a good thing no one was stuck inside the bathroom when this happened, such as its daughter, or mother-in-law, and that last image gives it a chuckle and the change of perspective sort of helps.
  • The white whale is fond of telling people it meets, “but you can call me Ishmael.”
  • On the other hand, if anyone says “it was a fluke thing,” or anything about sperm or blowing one more time, they are so dead.

Scavenger hunt question

I have long toyed with the idea of organizing a scavenger hunt of some sort. Something large and elaborate. Something international. Something huge.
My oldest daughter turns 17 in July. We spoke of the possibility of a scavenger hunt in Vienna, for her and her friends. She likes the idea.
However, when I sit down to plan one, it turns out to be quite complicated. The logistics are daunting, not to mention coming up with a theme of some sort, say a code to break or a narrative of some sort or an object to find or, preferably, all three.
Forget about the elaborate international hunt, man. I can’t even organize one in a city.
I mean, I hope I can, but geeze. It might be lame. It might not make any sense. It might involve work.
So I’m asking you for your help.
Have you ever been on a scavenger hunt that was any good? What was it like? Have you any ideas for a hunt that 17 year old kids would not find lame? Have you any ideas or suggestions, either for a scavenger hunt in general or for one in the city of Vienna, Austria?
The situation is this, I suppose: roughly half a dozen highly intelligent teenagers are to be kept busy for half a day to a day. The more sadistic the game, the better. Tasks, codes and problems that blow their minds are good, as long as they are soluble.
I was thinking of something involving hints on the internet as well as in real life, problems to solve, artefacts to locate and a lot of running back and forth around Vienna. And it should be as cheap as possible, for me and for them.
Any suggestions may be left in the comments, or preferably mailed to me at metamorphosist (at) since Beta reads this sometimes.
Thanks in advance!

Standup Bug

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Originally posted Feb. 2004

Posted in The Bug