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09/01 Direct Link
There used to be a little voice on my left shoulder which would say things like, "Hey, you should write something today. Come on. It may not be 'good', but it's good for you. It's therapeutic."

That voice could sometimes drown out the other voice on my right shoulder which said things like, "You are terrible, you are embarrassing yourself, the way you use commas makes me wish you were dead."

About six months after the first voice disappeared, the second voice realized he wasn't needed and he left, too. I miss writing, but I don't know where to start.

09/02 Direct Link
I've never overcome my discomfort at being around my friends' parents. I tend to get smiley and polite.

Steve's mother asked me if I was fond of dinner theater, and I said that I had never experienced it. I didn't say that in my imagination dinner theater is a combination of amateur comedy night and hell.

Steve's mother said her whole family was crazy about dinner theater, and that I had to come with them next time. Steve kicked me under the table and subtly shook his head, his eyes pleading 'no', and I said yes, yes, wow, thank you.

09/03 Direct Link
Hi,

The news reached me (by a third party) that some players of last night's dominoes game considered my behavior 'imperious.' The small comments I made on your decisions were intended to help you, made purely in the spirit of noblesse oblige, yet somehow you managed to take offense when you should have been grateful.

But, fine. I will tone down my domino ability and condescend to lose a few games here and there. I hope this will quiet the jealous rabble among our group.

Cheers,

"Domino" Dumpling

ps - Please (!!!) remember to keep me informed when the venue is changed.

09/04 Direct Link
The girl in the other building (the brown-haired one with the dog) and I have an unspoken agreement that we will both wait until fate and circumstances bring us together. The details of this agreement were reached in a brief but meaningful glance on a rainy afternoon three Novembers ago.

We play it cool on the rare occasion we see each other. I don't hold the door for her, I don't ask to pet her dog, she doesn't tell me when I've dropped a sock from my laundry basket. We know the value of waiting for the right time.

09/05 Direct Link
I didn't know what to do with myself over the summer, so when I saw a bus advertisement for the regional freestyle rap competition, I decided to get out of my "comfort zone" and join it. Even for a lark, it was a pretty impulsive decision, since I had never rapped competitively before.

It cost ten dollars to sign up, but I was given a nice T-shirt (which said "Sponsored by the Governor's Council on Dopeness" on the back) and a removable vinyl sticker.

I wrote down "MC Crispy" as my rap name, and was given the number 423.

09/06 Direct Link
As a newcomer, I was placed in the "Sucker MC" category. Early in the first 'rap battle' round I disqualified myself when I blurted out

Yo, hands off my tofu,
Step back, mo-fu!


and the judge blew the whistle. (The rules state "Rappers shall aggrandize themselves and belittle their opponents using words found in Webster’s Third New International Dictionary within the allotted time.")

I had fun, anyway, and everyone clapped.

I stayed to watch the other rappers, some of whom were amazing. I think I'll probably go to Utica to see the All-State competition in two weeks.

09/07 Direct Link
A horn sounded to announce the arrival of the chancellor, who had ridden through the night.

He approached the king with a scroll and knelt before him.

"My lord," he said, "I come with an urgent request from the conference."

King Dumpling laughed and made an overly dramatic gesture.

"I OBEY THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE," he said. "Whatever the request, let it be done at once."

"It is not so simple, sire. The conference requests, and I quote, 'A new kind of food that is like pizza, but different.'"

The king's smile fell away, and the court fell silent.

09/08 Direct Link
Steamed Dumpling's "Life Hacks"

Follow these directions exactly:

1) Put the kettle on to boil some water
2) Set a log on fire
3) Make a cup of tea
4) Put the flaming log on your favorite chair
5) Make some toast with your best jam
6) Sit in your favorite chair to enjoy your tea and toast

I was wondering today whether this would work. Not really with the flaming log; I don't want anyone to actually sit on a flaming log, I just want to figure out what I can get away with. I want to test boundaries.

09/09 Direct Link
Today, in a high-speed collision, I rammed my hip into the corner of a desk. (Mondays!)

I write this not to complain, but to document the experience. Tomorrow I'm going to have a huge bruise there, and I'm going to say whaaaat is this?!?! because that's what always happens.

My mind is programmed to gravitate towards the improbable: A government van was testing the 'bruise ray' on me as I walked down the street (NOTE!: never even joke about this on the Internet, twelve people will write in and say ah, they got you too, we need to meet)

09/10 Direct Link
FADE IN:
EXT. ALBANY, NY SKYLINE, DAY

SD (voiceover)
This is Albany, NY. A small city with some big problems. That's where I come in. I carry a badge.

[TITLE SCREEN, theme music]

INT. POLICE HEADQUARTERS

SD (voiceover)
The cruller killer had been terrorizing the city for weeks, and the captain had called us in with a break in the case. My partner is THUNDER CHIEF.

CAPTAIN
Head over to 260 Main St. He's struck again.

SD
(nods)

THUNDER CHIEF
(nods)

INT. 260 MAIN ST.
The boys survey the grisly scene before them.

SD
(clucking tongue)
Dirty deeds, Thunder Chief...

09/11 Direct Link
You know how sometimes you're walking to work, and you find yourself stopping in front of a lamppost and wrought-iron fence you'd never noticed before? And the vines have grown thick and high, and the light from the lamp gives a surreal orange glow to everything, and you get so absorbed in the storybook scene that you really start to worry that a satyr will jump out at you and try to give a flute recital, but you have to go, so you give it one last look over your shoulder before re-joining the real world? I like that.
09/12 Direct Link
Puppy Boy was a dog in love with the world and with life. When he was young, people sometimes called him just "Boy" or "P-Boy," but as he got older they started to emphasize and insist upon the word "Puppy," since he never stopped being one.

Every new person he met and every new experience thrilled him more than any of us were capable of being thrilled by anything, and we loved him for it.

Puppy Boy stayed gold until the end, and before he left, he taught us that the proper reaction to life is joy and barking.

09/13 Direct Link
When I was eight, I was allowed to go to Santangelo's with my parents and their friends.

I was excited to see "Cocktails for Kids" on the menu, and I ordered a "Tropical Tiger." I had finally arrived! I was an adult, and it was time for me to start behaving like one.

I drank the mango-flavored juice quickly and wiped my mouth with my sleeve. "Heeeey," I slurred, pretending to leer at the waitress. "You call this pasketti?! I call it garbage!" I threw the plate at her feet.

The adults laughed and cheered and ordered me another.

09/14 Direct Link
If Lucy touches your hand, she can experience all your memories in an instant. She doesn't like to do it, though.

One time when she was giving my stapler back to me, she accidentally touched my hand. She experienced my school days, my junior prom, my ordeal in Austin, my deepest secrets. When she opened her eyes, she said, "Corn Dongs... Did they really stop making Corn Dongs?"

My favorite crunchy after-school snack. They had. I told her I was sorry. I guess this happens a lot, and it's the real reason she doesn't like to use her power.

09/15 Direct Link
I'm never sure what to say to my cousin's children. As an ice breaker, I tried "Hey, how old are you?"

I knew he had recently turned ten, and he held up ten fingers.

"Ten! Wow, double digits, huh?"

He nodded.

"You know," I said, as if confiding in him, "I'm in the double digits myself. It's pretty good, huh?"

I thought he might have some reaction to this, but he just stared at me.

"Although I'm looking forward to triple digits. They say that's when things really start to pick up."

He asked me to get him a popsicle.

09/16 Direct Link
My parents came to visit over the weekend, and they brought lots of vegetables from their garden. What am I going to do with these enormous eggplants?

My Mom was shopping somewhere and my Dad and I sat in the car waiting for her. He became wistful. He said that sometimes he thought he'd like to go back and raise me and my brother differently. He had some ideas and some regrets.

I patted him on the arm and told him he did a good job. I chose not to interpret it as "I'm disappointed in how you turned out."

09/17 Direct Link
I baked an amazing moussaka. You were probably attracted to my apartment by the aroma. It's natural that you would want some, but I will not share. I am the master of moussaka, and it is all for me.

Oh look at the state of my kitchen, I think I used every utensil and pan in existence, who will help me clean this

not i

not i

(guys guys I think this might be that bread-baking chicken story in reverse but with moussaka instead of bread, I think I may have ripped it off don't tell anyone ok thanks)

09/18 Direct Link
When I was on a TV trivia show one time the people backstage asked me to fill out a card with a little fact about myself to discuss with the host. The people at home don't actually care about us -- they just want to yell at us when we miss questions they would have gotten right -- but it's standard procedure.

My mind went blank. On the card I wrote,

when it's my turn to talk, lean in close and I'll pretend to whisper something to you, then you pretend to be impressed and say 'yes it's an amazing secret folks'

09/19 Direct Link
Sodium benzoate, Sodium benzoate,
Baby why you gotta haaaaate?

It's a preservative,
Use is conservative,
One tenth of one percent,
Don't get your undies bennnnt

O who's been keeping your lemons fresh, my darling?
Who's been getting a taste of your sweet lemon pie?
Who's been sneakin' 'round my back door babyyyyy?
How can I preserve this love of mine?

Liver toxicity,
Hyperactivity,
Prove it and then we'll seeeeee

You know you make my fireworks whistle,
You send me right up to heaven,
I'll come for you just like a missile,
For a taste of your sweet E-two-eleven

09/20 Direct Link
Cindy checks in to see if Gary and I have been getting along lately.

"I guess so," I say. "Did you know he's been bringing me zucchini?"

"No!"

"One day he asked me if I liked it. I shrugged and said 'It's okaaaay. If I have one every summer that's more than enough.' The next day he gave me eight."

"Huh..."

"And he brought me ten more the next week. So I just said 'thanks for being so nice' and refused to believe he's found a way to be passive-aggressive with produce. That's how I'm choosing to interpret it."

09/21 Direct Link
New rules:

Each sport will have its own trophy, and the trophy will rotate among the teams every Sunday. On Saturday night, the team with the trophy will hold a party in which they celebrate their possession of the trophy, take some time to feel good about themselves (without denigrating the other teams, which carries a penalty), and they can also play skee-ball together (where available).

This is the best possible sporting arrangement. There's no need to go out to get your clothes dirty and break your arm! I don't know why no one has thought of this before.

09/22 Direct Link
I drove out to Utica for the All-State Rap Championship last night. The slogan: "Hippin' and hoppin' in the Handshake City, winners don't do drugs."

I was really there to support "Danger!! Death Ray", the young lady who won the Capital District semi-finals. I also made sure to see every performance by the crowd favorite, "Dinosaur Rap King," a guy from Potsdam who only rapped dinosaur facts.

A guy from Brooklyn named "zLoaf" won in the final round, and the governor himself was there to give him the trophy. It was the most fun I've had all summer.

09/23 Direct Link
I sit at Dan's old desk. When the phone rings, I say 'hello' and transfer the call to Dan's new desk. It's my job.

While sitting there today, waiting for the phone to ring, I wondered whether there might be something else I could do -- just to make myself useful. I went next door to talk to my boss. Couldn't we get a machine to do my job? Couldn't we have the phone company forward the calls?

He told me the recently passed Employer's Rights Act made it cheaper to pay my salary than to do either of those things.

09/24 Direct Link
"It's just that what I'm doing now feels a bit meaningless. I could do anything -- clean something, write something, or..."

"Whoa, what's with these delusions of grandeur? Your job is important. When people call, they want to feel that they're speaking to quote-unquote 'a real human being'.

"According to the new Right to Motivate Act, I can legally beat you for being away from your desk, but I would have to get up to do that, and I am too depressed. In time you will feel the same way, and that will be the end of these foolish notions."

09/25 Direct Link
Bash! Crash! Uncouth neighbors cause splash!
Intoxicated students cause a general vexation

(Albany, NY)

Jubilant undergrads piled into a downtown apartment late Wednesday and began carousing and carrying on, testing their neighbors' patience. One resident described the din thusly: "It sounded as if they'd thrown their bookshelves to the floor and began to wrestle them ever so violently."

The authorities broke up the scrimmage not long after it began, lectured the young scholars on the impropriety of giving unsupervised coeducational mixers in a private residence, and offered pamphlets on the liberal application of cold showers to extinguish their youthful exuberance.

09/26 Direct Link
She needed to be a turtle in accounting, a crocodile in business negotiation, and a chipmunk in liquidity ratios. She said she didn’t feel the presence of this menagerie inside of herself, and needed to "do a lot of work on myself” if she wanted to "make it."

I said whether you're playing dominoes or building empires, you need to keep what you're doing in perspective and not take it too seriously. She said I did not know what I was talking about, and went off to read about the top ten corporate mergers of the past year.

09/27 Direct Link
I got the call to come in and sell myself. It's an interview. My opportunity to tell them how great I am -- what a catch I am. It feels as if I've been doing this for quite a long time, and I can confidently tell you that job-searching is now my least favorite activity.

Job searching, more like
Blob searching,
(If you try to pick up The Blob, it will drip through your fingers and possibly dissolve them, so don't try it)
You don't need a paycheck that is larger than the exact amount you need to live, anyway.

09/28 Direct Link
Civ V is not a constructive use of my time
Civ V is not a constructive use of my time
Civ V is not a constructive use of my time
Civ V is not a constructive use of my time
Civ V is not a constructive use of my time
Civ V is not a constructive use of my time
Civ V is not a constructive use of my time
Civ V is not a constructive use of my time
Civ V is not a constructive use of my time

Regrettably, there will be no entry today because Civ V

09/29 Direct Link
I've been thinking about selling my extra neckties to under-dressed gentlemen outside of fancy restaurants. I could also cook up a big pot of soup, strap it to my neck, and sell it on the street. I could work in the park and offer to take a photo of your family with the ducks for three dollars. I could dance for nickels. I could sell kisses. I could go to the bus stop and look up words for people in the dictionary. There's all kinds of work out there for an enterprising young fellow. Watch out for me, world.
09/30 Direct Link
My interview is later today. Right now I'm pretty nervous, but when I put my suit on I find that I can put on a pretty convincing "confident professional" act, which will come in handy during the presentation I have to give. We'll see if I can keep it up until the final handshake.

The only sure thing is that at the end of the day I will be limping, since I have to wear my "dress shoes" -- the bitey bastards of the shoe world, they take a nibble out of the back of my feet with every painful step.