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10/01 Direct Link
Sometimes when I'm in front of my mirror I'll put on a big grin, make eye contact with myself, and say something like,

"Hi there. I just ate a whole bag of pistachios -- what did you do today?"

And, of course, I'll point towards the camera (the mirror, I mean) on the word 'you'.

I interpret this as a sign that near-constant exposure to television from a young age has softened my brain and weakened my resistance to pistachios.

Good for me, too, that I chose to do a snack advertisement rather than a documentary about the insurance industry.
10/02 Direct Link
My telephone rings and I don't feel like getting it. The answering machine picks up, and I imagine that I hear a sad pause, a slow exhalation, and finally, a click.

Someone had something important to say to me. Maybe she could have eased into it in the context of a friendly conversation, but her voice failed her after hearing the beep, and she hung up.

She realizes her words must go unsaid, and will not call again.

...

(Actually it was my Mom, and she will later want to know whether I was out doing drugs in a gutter somewhere.)
10/03 Direct Link
Insomnia, a true account

You feel sort of ridiculous lying there in the silent darkness, all wrapped up in blankets, eyes wide open. After a few hours you start to feel sleepy.

Then, out of nowhere, the thought occurs to you that at any moment a large rhinoceros beetle might leap up onto your bed and start to poke you, playfully, in the ribs.

After that thought passes, you realize that you are thirsty, your life is meaningless, your student loan bill is overdue, you never really studied World War I in school, and it is now time for breakfast.
10/04 Direct Link
Come abide with me in abstraction a while. Stop looking out the window.

We will close our eyes and find Justice and Virtue and Love and, importantly, Transcendence. We will see things as they were meant to be seen.

No, there are no donut holes, will you just shut up and abide? Yes, we can go to Tim Hortons later. I'm hungry now too.

You will see points and planes and numbers neatly lined up, and you will see infinity. Maybe you will see a rhombus. This is where God lives. This is where people go when they die. Really.
10/05 Direct Link
I know that married people sometimes have a rule about not going to bed angry, but now it is 3:00 a.m. and maybe these two should give it a rest and stop screaming at each other for the night.

"RAAAAAAAAHRBARBARAAAAAH!"

I can't even hear what they're saying, so how do I know they're married? I'd bet anything on it.

Their voices are full of the weariness and reproach that can only come from living with someone who you thought would be slightly better than they are, and who stubbornly refuses to become the person you want him/her to be.
10/06 Direct Link
A exhausted-looking guy at the bus stop had a complicated logic puzzle to solve:

* There is one seat
* Father must hold Child 2 and the balloon
* Child 1 must be in physical contact with the balloon at all times, or he will flip out
* Child 2 is terrified of the balloon, and will flip out if it gets too close
* Mother needs a seat, demands silence, and wants nothing to do with the balloon

He got around solving the problem when the balloon popped. Both children flipped out, then the mother flipped out, and nobody was happy. THE END.
10/07 Direct Link
Oktoberfest-----

This is the opportunity to celebrate by having a beer after work at the "beer garden" (which is actually, if we're going to be fair, a card table). I always skip it because they make you drink it right there, and I'd feel sort of lame having a beer alone in a folding chair at 5:00 p.m.

Instead, I appease the Savage Hun in me with a boiled potato dumpling and a bit of sautéed cabbage. (Once I tried to make a "sausage" out of wheat gluten wrapped in foil, but that is a story for another time.)
10/08 Direct Link
Hey, has our whole homeland gone fruity? Look around you, people, on the supermarket shelves.

"Oh, look at this can of soup, it is made with 100% natural ingredients!"

"Oh, check me out, I'm a loaf of bread made with organic(!!!) wheat!"

What do we look like, a bunch of Frenchmen? A bunch of liberal rabbit hoh-moh-sexshals? No, we're Americans, and we eat the American way. Back when I was a kid, we ate what the industrial-agricultural complex fed us, and we took our butylated hydroxytoluene like men!

Conclusion: It is Obama's fault.

(this is a bafflingly prevalent viewpoint)
10/09 Direct Link
BY THE WAY

I cannot take credit for the phrase "liberal rabbit homosexuals" used in the previous entry.

It was first used by a middle-aged gentleman in aisle 5 of my local Hannaford. He became upset when he spotted a "100% natural" can of soup, and the final straw was the word "organic" on the can next to that. He issued a powerful, strongly-worded indictment of the sort of person (or rabbit) who would eat organic soup, and, by extension, the weak, decadent nation that would allow such a product.

As supermarket outbursts go, it was pretty funny.
10/10 Direct Link
Ian's parents believed in the importance of a Great Classical Education, so they taught him at home. I liked hanging out with him because his Mom always gave me snacks, and he liked hanging out with me because back in those days I had one of those really fancy squirt guns.

We grew apart, though, because by the time he had mastered Greek and trigonometry I was learning songs about color words and self-esteem. When he asked me what I thought about Spinoza the only thing I could do was say, "you're a Spinoza!" and throw gravel at him.
10/11 Direct Link
Your Automobile of Love will not survive its drive through the Shallow Puddle of Routine, or the Light Fog of Insecurity, or the Mild Gust of Resentment.

Your Automobile of Love is fueled by Novelty, which is a limited resource. Even if you go somewhere new every day, you are still driving with the same person.

When your car breaks down, you can walk away or get on the Tandem Bicycle of Settling. People who choose the bicycle can be seen wearing the Geeky Bike Helmets of Self-Deception, which allows them to believe they are still in an automobile.
10/12 Direct Link
They're playing this song... in Price Chopper? I put this one on her mix tape. It was one of the really meaningful ones...

I was afraid that if I didn't buffer it on either side with songs that were catchy but less meaningful, there was a danger the mix tape would become mushy.

I chose this meaningful song because I thought it was kind of obscure. I didn't think she knew it, and I hoped that every time she heard it she'd think of the mix tape, and of me.

It's weird to hear it while I'm shopping for broccoli.
10/13 Direct Link
I wonder if the people downstairs ever say to each other, "You know, dear, that guy who lives above us is a saint, an absolute saint, for putting up with us.

"Even though you communicate primarily through screeches and my normal speaking voice is louder than he can scream, not once has he come down here to murder us."

No, they are probably bitter about how I like to bounce cans of chickpeas on my floor as a game, and how I sometimes clomp around in boots while singing. It's hard to be a good neighbor in an apartment building.

10/14 Direct Link
HELLO.

I am the robot who identifies and points out inconsistencies.

You are being scanned.

> scanning...

I am currently armed with:
criticism

I have calculated a potential 90% increase in effectiveness if I could be equipped with:
pulsed kill laser

but the rules that govern robots forbid it.

My predecessor, the Mark I, was violently dismantled soon after his activation and release into the world. Hence, I have been designed with enhanced defensive capabilities. I pointed out that no defense is complete without a good offense (hint: pulsed kill laser) but my insight was ignored by my designers.

> scan complete
10/15 Direct Link
INCONSISTENCY ROBOT
(part 2)

> scan complete

> 158 inconsistencies identified

> categorizing...

Wow, 158! That may be a record! I can see that I rolled over to the right person. Why don't you order another coffee? This may take a while.

> inconsistencies categorized

> compiling report... 0% complete...

I think you'll find the report enormously helpful. Usually I find inconsistencies between the categories of:

professed beliefs
and
behavior

but there are many others.

> compiling report ... 25% complete ...

SMASH SMASH SMASH
SMASH SMASH CRASH
BASH SMASH SMASH


Human, stop! Please! Don't you want your report?!

SMASH SMASH SMASH
SMASH CRUSH BASH
CRASH SMASH SMASH

10/16 Direct Link
THE PITCH

"So... imagine Blade Runner meets Logan's Run. The year is 2116, and medical science has progressed to the point that every body part can be reproduced from a person's own cells. Everyone can get new skin, new organs, new joints, whenever they want. Overpopulation is rampant because nobody is dying.

The government decides that people over 100 years of age are to be "removed," but it's impossible to tell who is old and who is young, see, because everyone looks and acts young.

We follow a special group of elite agents, dispatched to find and eliminate the elderly..."
10/17 Direct Link
You want to be tough and fiercely independent? Fine.

But from now on you'll have to do it without me, because you can't have it both ways. I'm tired of "being there" for the fifteen minutes a month when you need to get things off your chest only to have you accuse me of prying later.

Do you think you're special because you've been hurt? Do you think it's unusual to find it difficult to trust people? Get over yourself.

tense music

(I think I am writing for an imaginary soap opera, because I don't actually know anyone like this.)
10/18 Direct Link
I was on the phone with a friend, describing the amazing deal I had just found on a five-pound bag of organic potatoes.

Well, of course I took advantage of it! I know I'm only one person, but I think I can go through five pounds of potatoes before they get all weird and covered in potato tentacles, am I right?!

I gasped.

"Oh no," I said. "I am the most boring person in the world. I am sitting here telling you about a bag of potatoes."

"I don't know," he said. "I liked the bit about potato tentacles."
10/19 Direct Link
See, when you say "shit" I think "excrement."

So when you say "I'm going to put my shit in the car," it takes me a second to realize that by "shit" you mean "things or items."

If you had several things (like a baseball bat and a bag of potatoes) I would understand your wanting to use one word to refer to all of them. Understandably, nobody wants to say, "I'm going to put my bat and potatoes in the car."

BUT I cannot forgive you, because what you had was a cake. Consider yourself censured.

(Are we still friends?)
10/20 Direct Link
There is an autistic guy in our office. I took Friday off to go to my interview, and on that day he exhibited some unusual behavior.

On Monday my co-workers started to tell me all about it. They were laughing and making fun of him -- I didn't say anything.

("It's not his fault...")

I told myself:

*I should just be happy that they considered me a part of their group.

*I need to work with these people.

I smiled and nodded, but was secretly angry at them and felt that I deserved vaporisation.
Inconsistency/Hypocrisy robot, where are you?
10/21 Direct Link
The jig is up!

Yesterday I wrote about the interview that I had on Friday, but yesterday's entry was for TUESDAY.

I've been busy this week and now I'm trying to catch up, but I was also trying to cover up the fact that I was doing so. Clearly, my cover-up has failed. On its first day.

In addition to screwing that up yesterday, I also inexplicably featured My New Least Favorite Robot. I am so disgusted right now. For the rest of the month I am just going to write what I had for dinner one hundred times.
10/22 Direct Link
Interviewers love to ask, "why do you want to work here as opposed to somewhere else?"

They know you are sick of living on saltines and vegetable broth and that you just want a job. You have to lie.

"Well, of course, working for your organization is the object of every sane person's hopes and aspirations," etc...

They nod as I'm talking, exchange glances, and write things in their notebooks. If I get the job, they will use what I have said here as evidence against me when I am unenthusiastic about Mondays. That's how they keep you down, man.
10/23 Direct Link
Today I rented a car and drove to a college in Massachusetts for a job interview.

It was a three-hour drive which involved a lot of shouting "WHAT THE FUCK" at the GPS system when I thought I missed a turn, and the system responding, "SIR, TURN DOWN THE ZEPPELIN AND YOU'LL BE ABLE TO HEAR ME."
(I think that's what it said.)

The interview itself went pretty well -- I think I left them with the impression that I am a competent goofball with a nice smile. Doesn't that sound like the kind of person you'd like to hire?
10/24 Direct Link
We consume joy from a room the way a forest fire consumes oxygen. Five minutes after joining a party we're the only ones smiling, because we have each other.

Back in the good old days, we'd corner a friendly-looking couple at the office party for a bit of chit-chat, and leave them a pair of gibbering, uncomfortable wrecks.

These days we sit alone in our cramped apartment, waiting for the phone to ring. Your arm dangles lazily over the edge of the couch. Lying on the floor, I kiss your hand and gaze at your long, sharp fingernails.
10/25 Direct Link
Darling Elizabeth,

I've been so happy these past three months. Last night you finally spoke the words that I've been longing to hear from you.

Now that I have you where I want you, so to speak, I have a confession to make:

I first asked you out because you reminded me of my former girlfriend. Now I feel that I am in a good position to ask you to increase your resemblance to her by making a few changes in your appearance and behavior, detailed in the attached list.

I love you so much, bunny. Let's make this work.
10/26 Direct Link
If you are a Netflix person, you should set aside time in October for a FESTIVAL OF HORRORS. That is my name for "putting nothing but carefully selected horror movies at the top of your queue."

Movies about vengeful ghosts are my least favorite. Don't you think death would give you some perspective about what is really important in life?

Why so angry, ghosty? Did someone wrong you when you were alive? Will haunting really help, hm? Can't you just let it go? Why do you want to drip fake blood all over my house? NO, NOT ON THE CARPET...

10/27 Direct Link
Rocco hates horror movies too, but he hates ones like The Exorcist about demons and the spirit world.

Rocco knows someone who has studied demonology for more than thirty years. She taught him that what we call "demons" are real, but our understanding of them has been twisted by the Church.

He was with her once, he said, when she drew a circle and conjured the red-skinned Duke Berith, who will tell the truth when asked a question. Rocco saw the face of a being who existed before the Earth was formed, he says, and it changed his life.
10/28 Direct Link
Bm
In a black cotton sweater and uh-

F#7
skinn-eh jeans,

Bm
wearin' pleather boots, you're an

A
herbivore queen

C#m
You eat lots of salad like a

A
hoppity bunny,

C#m
won't you let me be your

C . . B7
substitute for honey?

CHORUS

You're a

E . . G
TOFU GIRL

A
Let's go out for falafel, you're a

E . . G
TOFU GIRL

A
You think that meat is aah-ful, oh my

E . . G
TOFU GIRL

C#
Come be my kinkajou,

A/B
Oh, oh, TOFU GIRL,

A/B . E
I love you

(I will tell you the whole story tomorrow.)
10/29 Direct Link
BEHIND THE SCENES
the making of "TOFU GIRL" by steamed dumpling

When I'm at the co-op, I am always the only one at the tofu case. I have never seen another person buying tofu ever.

Yesterday, though, the most beautiful girl was there, trying to decide between two varieties. We talked about tofu for a minute, then she chose one and walked away forever.

I wrote that song while walking home. If I meet her again I will want to sing it for her, because my heart is true. I probably won't, though, because she would find it creepy.
10/30 Direct Link
When I was very young I wrote an illustrated Halloween story about a ghost who lived in a house.

In this story, I decided to investigate the house and saw several things that frightened me, including a skull and a pumpkin.

All this is well and good and fairly typical of this genre, but then I met the ghost. He welcomed me into his home, and then came the greatest sentence in all of literature in any language:

"We ate and ate hotdogs."

Yessss...

It's unexpected, it's funny, it's thought-provoking, and I don't think I'll ever write anything better.

10/31 Direct Link
I'm all hopped up on pumpkin beer and tamari almonds, and the people who live above me are having a noisy Halloween party. (Am I not cool enough to be invited? My Magnum, P.I. costume is always ready, you know.)

I can't write anything under these conditions. Instead, here are some bullet points:

* The chords to "TOFU GIRL" are real, so if you have a tofu girl in your life, feel free to play it for her.

* I wrote about food a lot this month.

* I just ate a whole bag of tamari almonds, what have you done, etc...