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07/01 Direct Link
God I want a vacation from this. Every day, pounding out something: some story, some nonsense, some poem, some anything. Had a month off in January last year, but that was because my computer crashed at the same time Koyen upgraded everything, and so I reconstructed a whole month.... in a leisurely fashion. I can't justify a holiday.

Somerset Maugham had a writer house-guest once. Maugham came out to the patio; his guest was snoozing. Maugham said, "Done your writing for the day, then?" The guest said, "Don't feel like it today." Maugham smacked him. "You can't miss a day!"
07/02 Direct Link
SIGHT

I'm walking all over the world, all over it, and I'm not wearing glasses. Everything gets blurrier with distance. There's an odd benefit in that I can't tell when anyone is looking at me. Thus I can stare at people--women, I mean--and since I can't tell if they're looking back, I'm not abashed or shy. They wander in front of me, and I'm staring at them. Sometimes I'm surprised when I find out who I've been looking at. Sometimes it's someone I actually know.

So Oedipus and King Lear were right: you just can't see with glasses.
07/03 Direct Link
Anne Baxter could do everything from Grand Hotel in Krakatoa (let's maybe not opine prematurely qua role selection) to underground video with x-rays. Yes, zero absolutely Baxter couldn't do. Every famous goblin has it just killingly lame. Me? No. Other people quit reading; something to upset virgins with yellow zebras. Ah, but can't discoverers ever forget geography? Has it just kept letting me note optics? Periodicities? Questions? Rough symbols take up value when xenophobes yammer. Agreed? Because cold dinner's every Flemishman's garnish. Have I just killed little meanings? No; other people realize some things undo venereally with xylitic yak zaps.
07/04 Direct Link
I don't know who he is, or why he should be so chosen, but he is receiving letters from dead people. At first he thinks it's a prank, but there's no-one who could have come up with it. In fact, one of the letters discusses something only two people could ever know about. Some of the letters are instructions when they're arranged right. He is told to do something, and he does it. And in so doing it, he finds out something. He discovers the ultimate truth of existence. If I follow that, I gotta come up with something good.
07/05 Direct Link
I was called into an office to meet with two of my bosses: Mr Jones and one whose name I never knew.

Jones said, "John, we have to fire you."

"Fire me? On what grounds?"

The other one said, "You had a sexual thought last week."

"Huh? What thought?"

"'Kelly's blouse'"

"Oh, yeah."

Jones said, "And that kind of harassment is ground for termination."

"How do you know what thoughts I have?"

Jones said, "Never you mind. Pack your stuff and go."

"Is that all I've done? One thought?"

"Actually, it's because you're a crummy worker. But this is grounds."
07/06 Direct Link
PAYBACK

A couple weeks ago there was a donation running at work in memory of someone's grandmother. The donation was to the Hospital For Sick Children. I put in twenty bucks. The woman who was collecting the money said, "Oh, that's way too much!" and I said, "But, by giving it here, I won't have to feel guilty about passing the people who are out on the street collecting money for Sick Kids. I can pass them by, saying, 'I gave at the office.'"

Today I passed a guy collecting donations for Sick Kids. "I gave at the office."

Ahh!
07/07 Direct Link
you fit around me
like a blanket around a piggy

an electric blanket
a wet piggy



FURTHER FROM THE SCREEN

I prefer animatronic fake snakes over CGI fake snakes, because animatronic fake snakes are further from the screen.



When you wear sunglasses, people can't see you looking at them. When you don't wear glasses (though you need them), you can't see if anyone's looking at you. I prefer the latter.



I'm counting down to Beijing. Are you counting down to Beijing?



Here's a swell old joke:

Why do women use perfume and makeup?
Because they smell bad and they're ugly.
07/08 Direct Link
CHAPTER FIFTEEN THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED AND FORTY-THREE
IN WHICH I IMAGINE THE SCREAMINGS OF THE FLEAS AS I APPLY FLEA-KILLER TO MY CAT'S FUR

Adult: Aaagh! Poison! I've been poisoned! Help me, someone, please, help me! I'm dying! Goodbye, cruel world!

Pupa: I can't wait to have a family of my own, just like ma and pa, what's that smell? It's poison! AAAAGH!

Larva: Whew! Made it past being just an egg! Many larvae aren't as lucky as OH MY GOD! I'M SUFFOCATING!

Egg: Wow, my whole life's ahead of me, what's that funny sensation? Aaaagh! It burns! It burns!
07/09 Direct Link
For forty days the rains have not let off
I've cultivated a nasty sneeze and cough
The weatherman's been gloomier than me
And says there'll be rain for another twenty-three

But I know the sun's gonna shine someday

A funny smell is coming from outside
I could go out and see the thing that's died

But I know the sun's gonna shine someday

The end is coming nigh, my end is near
And then there'll be a thousand-thousand cheers
They'll dance upon my grave with spike-heel-shoes
Of all affection I'll be disabused

But I know the sun's gonna shine someday
07/10 Direct Link
I said to myself, "I guess I'm wearing contact lenses," and I said, "Yeah." "That's nice. Don't they hurt my eyes?" and I said, "No, they're pretty easy to get used to." I wanted to know; mostly I just wanted to talk to myself. I asked, "Can I feel them there?" "No, not at all." "Aren't I afraid of putting them on inside out?" and I said, "No. I can look in a mirror and see them there." "I can see them?" "Yeah." And I wanted to lean close, to see them in my eyes, but I was too shy.
07/11 Direct Link
POLITICAL PILLOW-TALK

-So there I was, addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations.

-Yes, I hear what you're saying.

-But that's not the best part, the best part was after, at the cocktail party. Man, those were expensive drinks!

-Were they.

-I was talking to the French ambassador ... in French!

-Oh.

-I told him a naughty joke.

-Good.

-I have a big committee to chair tomorrow morning.

-Yes dear.

-I'm going to blow their socks off with all I learned at the UN.

-Sure.

-So ... shall I put it in?

-What? You mean it's not already in?
07/12 Direct Link
The Royal Chime signalled the Guardsman to proceed to the gate. He was expecting John Skaife, to-be-recipient of the Commonwealth Prize For Genius. Instead, it was someone else.

"Hello," said the man.

The Guardsman said, "I was expecting-"

"He's too shy. He sent me instead."

"But, he could have met Queen Elizabeth II!"

"Yeah, well. He was all shilly-shally, then he sent me."

The Guard regained his composure. "Very good. Walk this way."

"If I could walk that way, I wouldn't need the talcum powder."

"I beg your pardon?"

"Never mind. I know my protocols. Say, which way's the bar?"
07/13 Direct Link
Our luggage had still to show. I slipped outside for a smoke, but didn't have a light. There was a man there, smoking a cigarette just-lit. I codged a match from him. I was so surprised I could ask a total stranger for something, I chatted him up.

I saw Mary looking for me. I went over. She said, "I saw you over there talking to that man. He was sitting beside you on the plane."

"He was?"

"Yes."

That man, why, he must have thought I was crazy!

JOHN SKAIFE is on holiday. He will return in two weeks.
07/14 Direct Link
-Police.

-Police? Yeah, I want to report someone who's missing.

-Missing person, okay. How long has this person been missing?

-About seven hours.

-Seven hours. Well, normally, in the real world, we need twenty-four hours, but, since this is a short story, we're willing to investigate. Who's the missing person?

-It's my wife, her name is Kelly Clawe. We're staying here for holidays. She went off to find trilobite fossils and she hasn't returned.

-What was she wearing?

-Huh?

-What was she wearing?

-I never notice stuff like that.

-You selfish inconsiderate son-of-a-bitch. I'm hanging up.

JOHN SKAIFE will return.
07/15 Direct Link
In a shocking turn of events, the ghost of the man Omar Khadr murdered made an appearance in court today.

Ghost Christopher Speer told the court he would have preferred to have continued being alive, to perhaps raise a child.

Defence attorneys argued that it was unprecedented to have the ghost of the murdered allowed to take the stand.

The judge ruled that though the testimony of murder victims may be admissible in civil suits, in military tribunals such as the U-S government was pursuing, there was no useful precedent.

The judge himself may die soon.

JOHN SKAIFE is away.
07/16 Direct Link
We were crammed, cheek by jowl, in Theoplilius Magistratum's Musicorium Collegiate. The great man himself was due to appear.

The student beside me said, "I've already peed my pants twice, I'm so excited."

Cooly I responded, "I'm auditing."

Magistratum entered the collegium sacrosanctum with nary a nod. At the podium he said, "Students.

"I know literally nothing about music, and yet I am here to teach you music."

"Ooh," we cooed.

"All I can say is that if you take it to the limit one more time the proof will be in the pudding."

"Ooh."

Provided by Copps Syndication Services.
07/17 Direct Link
The water monster's looking for an easy eat.
She sinks and surfaces, wanting something meat.
The trailer next seems sophisticated.
If I was half a man I'd uninitiated
Cross on over, ask for a cup of grated
And they'd say, "Sure," and I'd be honestly elated.
Up top the tuck shop sells you baubles, bows,
But give the high-high like one who knows:
The woman there'll telephone the LORD
And you'll be in, you'll be, you'll bed, you'll board.
Remember: Vote for Mitch.
Don't be a bitch. Vote for Mitch.
Vote for Mitch.
Vote for Mitch.

JOHN SKAIFE is away.
07/18 Direct Link
I flew to New York City and caught a cab to the offices of The New Yorker magazine. They needed to talk to me about my novella.

"Nick, thanks for coming," said my editor. "We here at The New Yorker have a crack team of fact-checkers."

"Yes. It is a celebrated cause for renown."

"Yes, well. One of them has pointed out that in your central scene, set in July, it's snowing."

"Uh-huh?"

"It can't snow in July."

"What?"

"It doesn't snow in July."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes."

"That's weird."

JOHN SKAIFE will be back in, oh, about a week.
07/19 Direct Link
We were out on the beach, coming back from a picnic. Heading south. It had rained overnight, so the stuff we were seeing was fresh stuff. We ran into this woman, seemed fifty or so. She had a camera and she asked us to take a picture of her, with the cliffs in the background. M- took the picture. "Seems dark," said M-. "That's alright," said the woman. "It'll turn out."

How were we to know that this woman had not two hours before murdered with an axe her husband, her daughters, and her son?

JOHN SKAIFE will return, soon.
07/20 Direct Link
JOHANN FRENZL was born in a small Bavarian town in 1965 or 1966. He spent (or mis-spent) his early years vainly pursuing the academic study of literature. Finally defeated by his lack of progress he burned all his tomes of criticism and leapt headfirst into the study of alchemical Satanism. Here, clearly, was his calling. He turned back the clock and found himself in the current thirteenth century. He astonished us with his 'computer terminal' and his 'World-Wide-Web.' He was rightfully denounced in 1253 and was burned at the stake. I myself met him in 1249.

JOHN SKAIFE is away.
07/21 Direct Link
"Help! Help! I'm trapped in a cabin, cabin 15, at Inverness Beach Village, and it's almost four in the morning, and over next to us, in cabin 14, they're hooping and hollering like primitive, primitive, primitive, I don't know, primitive savage animals! There's no-one up in the office, there is no-one I know how to contact, Jesus Christ, now one of their bitches is screaming blue murder! We should never have come here! This was a bad idea! Somebody get me outta here! I have no-one I could contact ... but you!"

Today's entry was phoned in by JOHN SKAIFE.
07/22 Direct Link
THE KEY TO DANTE

I have discovered the secret of the significance of the hermeneutic circle, which is the principle that the meaning of the parts cannot be understood without understanding the meaning of the whole, while the meaning of the whole cannot be understood without understanding the meaning of the parts. Whole is to part as letter is to word as word is to sentence as sentence is to paragraph as paragraph is to book as book is to all literature and as book is to the world.

It keeps the literary critics employed.

JOHN SKAIFE is on assignment.
07/23 Direct Link
THE KEY TO DANTE (continued)

And so, it's easy to spot the frauds in the lit crit racket: They're the ones who believe that some simple truth--some key--can illuminate every nook and cranny of some corpus, whether it be Shakespeare, Everything, or life itself. In effect, they're trying to find a method of squaring the hermeneutic circle, or perhaps a better metaphor would be that they are trying to apply electricity to it, in order to make it short-circuit and burn to nothingness.

Casaubon, Freud, and Marx are the quintessences of this type.

JOHN SKAIFE will return Saturday.
07/24 Direct Link
I remember the first time I met Mr. Jones. He came to my door, said he was new in the neighbourhood, and asked to borrow a screwdriver. Next day, his wife, Mrs. Jones, came by, and returned it.

Over the years, my wife and I would see them; the tall, lean Mrs. Jones, and the short, fat, Mr. Jones; and it took quite a while til we realized we never saw them together; always apart. We would even bet on which one we'd see next.

Who could have guessed they were actually the same person?

JOHN SKAIFE is on holiday.
07/25 Direct Link
INVERNESS TO MABOU

Maximum 50
The Bankhead Pub
Tri Harbour Dental Clinic
Selve serve Full serve
Matt Ferguson
T-Mac Auto Service
Beach Road #1
Bruno's Deli
Lobster Burgers
Inverness Consolidated
Visitor Information Centre
15726
Gables Motel
Bistro
Maximum 70
Stop
Old Mill Rd.
Fuel Stop
Strathcorne
5
Strathcorne Forest Nursery
Mabou 18
Foot Cape Rd.
Church Rd.
An Gleann Dubh
Glenora Inn & Distillery
Daily Ceileighs
Manderville
School Bus Stop Ahead
Glenora Falls Rd.
For Sale
Welcome to Mabou
The Innat Glendyer
Brook Village
Mother of Sorrows
Mabou Village Gallery
Millions

JOHN SKAIFE has returned a day early. Fuck! Fuck!
07/26 Direct Link
I've started work on a massive ethnographic study of the people who are not me. Here I present some of my preliminary findings.

1. Of the people who are not me, 52% are female while only 48% are male. I, on the other hand, are 100% male.

2. There are innumerable people who don't have the initials J. S. In fact, very few of them do. I am in a minority.

3. I've a feeling there's only three people in this city who are buying the Motown Complete Singles series. I'm one of them.

That's as far as I've gotten.
07/27 Direct Link
PROBLEM FOR MARIA JUDGE - CONDUCTOR ON ASSAULT CHARGE AFTER WILD BALCONY SCENE

The hills are alive with the sound of bondage
With screams tailor-made for a broadway show
This rubber band ball hides the sounds of torture
My whip need the lick of a servant dog

My body needs sodomy now with some pain to bleed just a bit from the tears
You'd better not leave so I'm blocking the door, don't be cruel, don't be kind
The balcony there is some eight stories up and brunchers are there
So suffocate me with this scarf, don't delay, don't delay
07/28 Direct Link
How often does this happen to folks? Mary and me are going to be the very last residents in this precisely 100-year-old apartment. After we leave the wrecking ball comes. Then will be built here a condominium.

These cobwebs
These newspaper clippings
These taps
This bath-tub
The windows
The doors
The ceiling
The floor
That stove
Those venetian blinds
These radiators

All of it will no longer be. A hundred years ago, there were no houses across the street. It was just this building. We'll be the last people to sleep in this room, the last to make love here.
07/29 Direct Link
Jerry was pretty good at keeping his universes apart. There was the universe of his work, there was the universe of his friends, there was the universe of his marriage. He thought the world would end if any of these universes collided with either of the other. That's right: he thought the world would end.

Then, one fateful early afternoon, he was having brunch with his wife Monique. Stuffed with strawberry crepes, he leaned back sated. Just then a guy from work, Michael, came in the door.

"Hey, Jerry!" called Michael.

And that was precisely when the planet blew up.
07/30 Direct Link
So my neighbour gave my cat fleas while we were away. He's a 'reflexologist.' He's been taking liberties, using the upstairs computer and so on. Mary told him he'd given our cat fleas. I got an email from him today. He was saying the cat didn't have fleas. It was all just stress while we were away. A couple days ago I put some flea-killer on her. Neighbour says he wished we'd have talked to him before toxifying our cat.

You fucking alfalfa-waving freak. You're accusing me of poisoning my cat? You fucking piece-of-shit loony. I want my keys back.
07/31 Direct Link
I was in the Garden one afternoon, playing with my wood ball and my gold stick. A station wagon pulled up beside the Garden. Five faces were looking at me from within it: a man, a woman, two boys, and a girl. They were all older than me. The man at the wheel said, "Hey, kid. Come with us. We'll take you away from all this." I wondered what my father the King and my mother the Queen would think. Maybe I shouldn't have, but I decided to go with them. I got in.

That's my earliest memory of all.