A walk in the woods.

It was a cold day, and there was snow on the ground.

“Hang on a sec,” she said, reaching for his face. “There’s ice in your eyebrows.”

“Nah,” he said. “It’s not ice.”

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How to effortlessly influence reality with your thoughts

You are standing there with half a tooth on the end of a wire that apparently had been used to anchor it in the socket in your skull because the wire, which looks like tiny re-bar, is speckled with dental cement. You see the tooth backlit against a grey but bright sky outside the sliding window you remember from your childhood home; also a second tooth fell out. You sigh, trying to remember the rest of the dream, and wiggle all your teeth with your tongue, just to make sure. They all still seem to sit firmly.

You still have to get up early because even though it’s a holiday it’s not a holiday for your kid and you feed the cats and start coffee and take a shower and wake her up and drive her to school and before you drive her to school you have breakfast with your wife and joke that probably right after you get your windshield replaced you’ll be driving home and a tractor will merge in front of you at the first traffic circle, a tractor with a big trailer full of rocks, and a rock will bounce out and smack and there goes the brand-new windshield.

After dropping the kid off at school you go to the windshield place, a new place someone told you about, a new place you heard about on the windshield-replacing grapevine, cheaper than the dealer by about 45% and you meet your wife on the road and follow her car there and go in and give the guy your keys while his German shepherd sticks it snouts in your package the whole time and the guy, who looks a lot like a troll if trolls chainsmoked, says pick it up at 4 PM. Then you drive home with your wife and do stuff and at four she drives you back and you pick it up. It looks just fine. Brand new and clean. You try to remember how many you have replaced since moving to Austria 20 years ago. About ten. More than five, anyway. More than the zero you had replaced in the United States. You figure this is because one you have been driving more in Austria than in the US (about 20 to 4) but two more due to the fact that it rarely snowed in the Pacific Northwest where you drove in the US, and when it did snow they generally just left the roads slick and stayed home, as opposed to Austria where everytime a snowman farts a bunch of guys run out and throw gravel on everything because this is Austria: life goes on when it snows. Also probably these guys get paid according to how much gravel they spread, plus a bonus from the windshield industry.

There was the Peugeot, which you probably would have replaced the windshield except then you totaled the car. Then there was the Fiat, how many did you replace there? Three? Then three more on the Mazda, at least.

On your way home, at the first traffic circle, a brand-new tractor pulling a gigantic red trailer, also brand-new, full of rocks, merges in front of you. On the straightaway, where you cannot pass due to oncoming traffic, it loses a rock.

This is all happening in slow motion.

The rock falls off the back of the new red trailer, and bounces. With each bounce it loses a little momentum and comes a little closer to your car. It is now bouncing about six or seven feet high. You let up on the gas to maintain your distance between the rock and your car, but it comes closer.

You step on the brakes. It is down to maybe bouncing three or four feet high.

Then it is just rolling, and it rolls under your car. You give the tractor a lot of room, though.

Leaving for work the next day, you tell yourself, no doubt I’ll probably win the lotto today. And lose a kilo.

Guest Post: Boutros Boutros Ghali on the Inauguration Scandal

I must admit, I am impressed by the speed at which the new President of the United States works. Already on day one, Inauguration Day, his administration had its first scandal. And I am not referring to the flubbed oath, which was not really his fault, and which he wisely re-oathed later, just to preclude any wacko conspiracy theories, on the one hand a sad reminder of the significance of wacko conspiracy theorists in your country, on the other hand sort of entertaining for people who like to laugh at your country, not that I number myself among them. No, I am referring to the Millivanillification of the music. “It was a cold day,” is not an excuse for such behavior, although I do admit that I did feel sorry, as I sat in my study outside Baden Baden, watching the ceremony while dining on a meal of mahi-mahi and cous cous (with Walla Walla onions), for all the musicians playing in the cold (Duran Duran played at low volume on my stereo in the background). Yo-Yo Ma, of all people. A man of his stature, finger-synching. Shame on you, Yo-Yo. Not only did they get Yo-Yo to perform (what, was Isserlis busy? I mean, have you compared Ma’s version of the Bach Cello Suites to those of Bylsma or Isserlis? Seriously.), he didn’t even really perform. Or he did, but then they played something else? That’s what Britney said. Honestly. I could have performed under those conditions. Zsa Zsa Gabor could have, and with greater flair. I sincerely hope an investigative committee convenes soon to look into this.

8th metamorphosism.com International Valentine’s Day Limerick Contest

PLEASE NOTE NEW, EMERGENCY, (literally) LAST-DAY RULE CHANGES BELOW!!!11!!!!

Time for the 8th (I think) annual Metamorphosism International Valentine’s Day Limerick Contest.

Enter in the comments to this post.
Winners will be announced on 14 February, 2009.
ENTER AS OFTEN AS YOU LIKE!!! But read the rules before entering! Or else!

IMPORTANT NOTICE: THERE HAS BEEN A SMALL CHANGE IN THE RULES FOR THIS YEAR’S CONTEST!!

SECOND IMPORTANT NOTICE! THERE HAS BEEN ANOTHER RULE CHANGE!

  1. Poems entered must be an actual limerick. We are strict about this.
  2. Entries must contain a Latin word or phrase.
  3. Extra points awarded for working in one of the following: a king, a burlesque performer, an extinct or rare musical instrument, a prosthesis, NEW: an obsolete, extinct or rare musical instrument. NEW RULE CHANGE HERE: No kings, prostheses or obsolete musical instruments after all. All entries with kings, prostheses or obsolete musical instruments will be disqualified. Unusual or innovative musical instruments will still be allowed. Instead of kings, extra points will be awarded for parasitic diseases affecting the behavior of rats. Prostheses and prosthetic devices shall be replaced by surgical equipment.
  4. NEW RULES (made necessary by the unfortunate flame war in the entries): entries are to include themes of general bawdiness, redeption and reconciliation. Bonus characters: famous peace activists, famous ventriloquists, escape artists. Bonus languages: Latin, Icelandic.
  5. Rules subject to change without warning (changes will be posted here or in a subsequent post)

(Note: Over the years, a number of rude etc expressions have been added to the comment blacklist so if the comments refuse your entry that might be the reason. In that case, mail it to me at metamorphosist (at) gmail dot c0m and I’ll set you up.)

Feel free to search this site for past winners. Good luck.

Last call

If you have the time, would you mind emailing me a recording of you reading a recent shopping list/shopping receipt in your native language? It’s for a music composition for theremin, voice and cash register scanner. Thx in advance.

How to be a man: Chapter something, ten or so maybe: Buying a hat

There are a lot of dorky-looking hats out there, so pay attention.

Hats that are, ultimately, wrong for you, as a man.

There are as many ways to go wrong with a hat as there are hats, times the number of men, minus the number of proper hat/man combinations.

  1. You must wear the hat, and not the other way around. Unless you’re lucky, you’ll have to try on a lot of hats. Don’t feel bad about this, not even if the salesman gets huffy or the saleslady has to climb to the top of her ladder to get your size off the very top shelf. They just want to sell a hat and get you out of there, you want to avoid looking like an ass.
  2. There are also local cultural associations to consider. In Vienna, for example, if you wear a derby (bowler) hat, you’ll look like a coachman. Because the men driving tourists around town in the horse-drawn carriages all wear derby hats, including the women.
  3. Maybe it has something to do with one’s aura, too. If you have the strong rock-star vibes, you can maybe get away with a top hat, for example. Normally, the top hat will wear you, unless you are, for example, a female goth, or something like that.
  4. YMMV
  5. Also, Indiana Jones ruined things for that hat he wore, honestly.
  6. I would advise trying, for starters, a narrower-brimmed black hat to avoid too much of the Indiana Jones/gangster thing. There is the unfortunate Blues Brothers association, but in general, you can’t go wrong with a medium-brimmed black felt fedora.
  7. Homburgs are nice, too, but expensive, sheesh.
  8. If you wear a Homburg to a ball, for example, and it comes back from the coat check all smashed up, I bet you’d be upset, whereas if your black felt fedora comes back smashed up, you’re also upset, but not as upset as if it had been a Homburg.
  9. A medium-brimmed black felt fedora is also versatile. With the brim down in front you have the urban/e older guy thing, if you are wearing a dark suit and coat, and if the brim is turned up, you have the klezmer musician/halleluja I’m a bum/Yogi Bear thing.
  10. Also, don’t carry too many metal things in your pockets, especially, say, six USB sticks or a one-handed pocket knife, even if it is a tiny one, because it could happen that you want to get into the UN to renew your ID, and that you discover, once there, that a new security system has been implemented, say, requiring you to pass through a metal detector and x-ray thing and you have to spend ages emptying out your pockets and going, Gosh, had I known I was coming I wouldn’t have brought all this junk, and, whoops, what’s this? And all the bored gigantic Slavic security guards standing around will suddenly perk up and look at your teeny knife and say, Oh, look! A WEEPON. He has a weepon. And you say, maybe, Can I leave this here and get it after? Because then, after you do this, and go through the metal detector, you’ll stand there putting all your stuff back into your pockets, and it will sound less like a reprimand and more like a request when you say, Excuse me, officer, your x-ray machine seems to have eaten my hat. And it will take them a while to find it, because black felt is apparently nearly invisible in the dark interior of an x-ray machine, but when it does roll out, a little crumpled, you will think, at least it is not a Homburg.

How to make excellent bagels in the current economic crisis thing

  1. Buy cookbook with excellent bagel recipe
  2. Buy all the stuff in the recipe
  3. Following directions, make bagels
  4. That’s all there is to it!!!

It sounds simple, and it is, but this has honestly changed my life more than anything else, ever. I feel whatever now, you know, whatever. Since moving to Austria, I had suffered from the impossibility of buying bagels here in the countryside where I live. There are some places in Vienna where a person can get bagels, but I gave up on finding them out here in the middle of nowhere decades ago. Plus, I think, some have gone out of business again.

Decades.

Because, bagels, you know, always struck me as something an old Jewish lady had to teach you how to make.

Anyway, I’ve baked them several times now. Some with sesame seeds, and some with poppyseeds, and they are excellent.

The baking process is a lot like meditating, only there is boiling water, and you have bagels at the end.