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01/01 Direct Link
When I was six I was out one spring day playing at the curb. Water was gushing noisily through the sewer. We heard it through the sewer grate. I went inside and found string and a magnet. We lowered the magnet into the sewer to see if we could catch money like fish. We didn't catch anything. Then I went in and got my brother's G.I. Joe doll. We tied the string around his neck and lowered him into the sewer. Then he handed me the string, but it got dropped. Irretrievably gone.

I wonder where that doll is today.
01/02 Direct Link
BIBLIOMANCY

A Qaran copyist in Islamabad went fishing one day even though he didn't expect to catch anything. (He was a pessimist.)

Meanwhile, in England, it was noon, and the Westminster carillon erupted. Mourners came out of the cathedral, and looked up.

Juan was reading about cracklewear. She wondered about the body and pottery; she touched her interclavicle exploratively.

Jimmy Jones joypopped a vial. The club was rocing, and so was he. He approached someone, and that someone recoiled.

The fisherman got something. He fought, and pulled it out. It was a dogfish with a sewing needle in her mouth.
01/03 Direct Link
East went over to visit his good friend West. West was sitting on his front porch reading a newspaper.

"West!" called East.

West looked up. "Well, if it ain't my old buddy East. C'mon up here, you asshole, take a load off."

East hopped up onto the porch and sat himself down. "What's happening? How's North?"

West looked sadly away for a moment. Then: "She's gonna leave me."

"North's gonna leave you?"

"It's worse than that. West: she's running off with your wife."

"What?"

"They're— they're in love with one another."

"Sheesh. And I always thought they were poles apart."
01/04 Direct Link
I've got a great idea that'll make me rich. I'll write a ballet about the economic meltdown.

At the NYSE, a broker dances happily as stock goes up and dances sadly as stock goes down. An intern dances to him that he has to dance to the boss's office. In the boss's office, the boss dances that the broker is fired. The broker dances off sadly, to a bridge, where he is about to dance off, when a woman dances up to him and dances, "Don't dance it!" They dance happily ever after.

I'll get the Nobel Prize for this.
01/05 Direct Link
Magnitudes (for the Eameses)

A nothing.
A family.
A society.
An ecosystem.
A planet.
A solar system.
A galaxy.
A universe.
A nothing.
A universe, a galaxy, a solar system, a planet, an ecosystem, a society, a family, a nothing.
A nervous system.
A brainstem.
A neuron.
A cell.
A nucleus.
A segment of DNA.
A chromosome.
A gene.
An atom.
An atomic nucleus.
A neutron.
A quark.
A nothing, a quark, a neutron, an atomic nucleus, an atom, a gene, a chromosome, a segment of DNA, a nucleus, a cell, a neuron, a brainstem, a nervous system, a nothing.
01/06 Direct Link
Big news today from the medical community. You may be a smoker or you may be a non-smoker, this affects you. Physiometaphysical research has shown that cigarettes may contain something invisible, something without even a name, which could have unforeseen medical effects, even on people living a block away from the smoker. Even so, cigarettes continue to be completely unregulated when compared to the regulations inherent in physics. And there's more: cigarettes may contain over a trillion of these undetected and unnamed chemicals. Research indicates these elements may even be ghosts, demons or unicorns. And absolutely no-one knows for sure.
01/07 Direct Link
Got an order about halfway through shift last night, by email. Someone in French wanted this: Une âne, 10" x 8" x .5".

I looked it up: âne means donkey.

What the?

I sent email after email trying to find out what he wanted, what he meant.

He didn't respond.

I checked stock. We had these things called donkeys. They were used for wool processing. Made of wood.

I made out a shipping order for one. Sent it off.

Two days later, he wrote back, in English. He said he had obviously meant one made of steel, not wood. Idiot!
01/08 Direct Link
We were running low on stockshot footage. Everything looked outdated, especially the technology. So I decided to put together a package of material myself. We did a shoot of me at an ATM. We caught lunch in the food court. I played a computer game as the videocamera rolled. I brushed my teeth: some close-ups there. I bought a cd with cash and a book with a credit card. Overall, we got eight hours of fresh material that should last us a half-year or so.

I got a notice in the mail today. Apparently, I'm suing myself for copyright infringement!
01/09 Direct Link
What did I ever do to deserve such love? What did I do to get such obedience from someone? All I have to do is whine long enough, and she loves me she loves me she loves me! She strokes me and fondles me, and that's really the ultimate. Sometimes I get this warm feeling in my belly, hard to describe, but I know it's the feeling of love, reciprocated; sometimes I go a bit farther, and start moving against her; I never remember much more than that. She loves me. She even picks up my poo, with plastic bags!
01/10 Direct Link
Poker Report

Players were: myself, David Smookler, Mark Egan, Bill Sukloff, Ernie, Stephen, and Roy.

Ernie won the first two hands. They were pretty tasty, considering our penny-ante style: about eight dollars apiece.

I'd decided to summarize the poker game, to stick it here, long before the game started. I thought it could be funny. Unfortunately I can't do funny here, because I pwned the table. But I can't say I liked it. I like that I could muster the attention to win: but to actually win? I'm ambivalent.

It's important for this project that I lose. Winning is counterproductive.
01/11 Direct Link
I was cooking, so I went out back for a smoke. Next door, at S's place, three people were also out back. Sounded like they were smoking dope, but I didn't smell anything.

The girl was talking about her horrible boss. She wanted to kill her, and the two guys, S and someone else, made suggestions. They planned the murder.

I went inside and ate.

Later, I was out front. S came up with his dog.

"Did you hear us in the back?"

"The murder? Yeah."

"Well, we were only reading through a script."

"I knew. It sounded so phony."
01/12 Direct Link
Alphabetical Ontario

I've never been to Acton.
I've never been to Bala.
I've never been to Barrie.
I've never been to Bowmanville.
I've never been to Bracebridge.
I've never been to Collingwood.
I've never been to Etobicoke.
I've never been to Huntsville.
I've never been to Kingston.
I've never been to London.
I've never been to North Bay.
I've never been to Oakville.
I've never been to Oshawa.
I've never been to Ottawa.
I've never been to Paris.
I've never been to Sault Ste. Marie.
I've never been to Toronto.
I've never been to Whitby.
I've only been to me.
01/13 Direct Link
The judge rapped his gavel and asked the man in the dock, "How do you plead?"

Suddenly a grey-haired old lady in the observer's stood up and cried, "I did it!"

And suddenly a man in his mid-40s, one of the jurors, stood, and shouted, "I did it, it was me!"

Just as suddenly a pregnant teenager jumped to her feet—she was apparently the district attorney's daughter—and cried, "No, I did it!" and an elderly man from somewhere jumped up simultaneously and cried, "I did it!"

The judge looked at the camera and said, "I hate adultery cases."
01/14 Direct Link
We gathered for our weekly seminar—
The subject of the day was tolerance—
To wit: how can we tolerate the ones
Intolerant of all? Monique, Monique,
Began by mentioning a Christian sect
She couldn't stand. I understood her point.
"They're so intolerant!" she cried aloud.
Then Ahmed said, "They must be killed, the pigs."
He lifted up his shirt; displayed his bomb.
We tolerated this display. He said,
"Here's what your wicked toleration earns."
He pushed a button, we were blown to bits.
 The room was bathed in gut and bone and blood;
 He must have had a tragic childhood.
01/15 Direct Link
For the nth time, Jim got up, got dressed mostly, and went into the kitchen. Bob was eating his bowl of cereal.

The radio was and the news came on. Same news as yesterday.

Jim said, "Here we are again."

Bob showed again the device. Again he pressed the button. "We're stuck on today. Forever. It's an error. It's an infinite loop in the algorithm of my time machine."

Jim sat down. Again he asked, "Can we get out of it?"

Bob shook his head, again. "No way."

Jim pulled out the carton of eggs. Five eggs were always there.
01/16 Direct Link
COGNITIVE DISSONANCE,
OR,
SCENES FROM THE TARRAGON THEATRE PRODUCTION OF POLITICAL ANALYSIS

[...]

SCENE 4

ANALYSAND 4: I'm haunted by my childhood.

ANALYST: Go on.

ANALYSAND 4: My father, he was one of Stalin's henchmen. My father was responsible, personally, for the murder of 81,000 people.

ANALYST: You can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs.

[...]

SCENE 19

ANALYSAND 19: I'm haunted by my childhood.

ANALYST: Go on.

ANALYSAND 19: In Chile in 1973, my father found out his neighbour, an Allendista, was planning a terrorist bombing, and my father told the police.

ANALYST (rising): You slime! You motherfucker!
01/17 Direct Link
VECTORS PROPOSED AND REJECTED FOR THE 10TH EDITION OF THE MINNESOTA MULTIPHASIC PERSONALITY INVENTORY

What is your opinion of the following statements? Fill in only one circle.


I like taking tests. They allow me to know the objective truth about myself. I'd be lost otherwise.

0 Strongly disagree
0 Somewhat disagree
0 Neither agree nor disagree
0 Somewhat agree
0 Strongly agree


If Jesus found out about the MMPI, he would break into a fury and drive all of Minnesota off a cliff.

0 Strongly disagree
0 Somewhat disagree
0 Neither agree nor disagree
0 Somewhat agree
0 Strongly agree
01/18 Direct Link
June was emptying out her husband's pockets prior to doing the wash. She came upon an odd receipt. It was for a return cruise to Europe, occupancy two. Departing July 17, 2008, and returning January 17, 2009. Yesterday.

Occupancy two?

She was waiting for him when he came home.

"Darling, were you just on a cruise to Europe?"

"No."

"Then what's this receipt?"

"It's Paul's."

"Who's Paul?"

"A guy I know."

"I don't believe you."

"All right, I admit it. I spent six months in Europe with my secretary."

"Well, I'll be. No wonder I didn't get a Christmas present."
01/19 Direct Link
MY COMPUTER,

There's something in this that falls under systems. Something went wrong with my computer. Something that was someone else's fault, I think. Something physical, deep in the bytes. So I tried to fix it; but, in fixing it, I think I made a couple other things go wrong. Now I have to fix those, but the computer is old and so complicated internally, I think I'm just making matters worse. I think this can be framed generally as applying to any very complicated system. I know it's going to die on me, sometime; the only question is, WHEN?
01/20 Direct Link
MY FATHER

There's something in this that falls under systems. Something went wrong with my father. Something that was someone else's fault, I think. Something physical, deep in his organs. So the doctors are trying to fix him; but, in fixing him, they made some other things go wrong. Now they have to fix those, but my father is old and so complicated internally they may simply be making matters worse. I think this can be framed generically as applying to any complex system. I know my father is going to die on me, soon; the only question is, WHEN?
01/21 Direct Link
NO TECHNOLOGY

She needed a portrait in a photograph
In a digital photograph for her Photoshop class
So she took some portaits of me
And laughed at the faces I had
(More than pixel-grains, more than I know)

After class she came home
And she said she'd erased the tributary
Wrinkles about my eyes and she'd
Taken the life-blood-lines from my whites
And pancaked over some of the hottest freckles

My age had been stole from me
And with it some knowledge
And many blessed difficulties
My memories were dusted away

Thank God she said she hadn't enjoyed doing it
01/22 Direct Link
"You know, all the special pleadings for preference that bicyclists make boil down to one and only one thing: We don't pollute as much as cars do. But you have to balance that out with one's societal contributions. Would I care if an Einstein drove a Hummer? No! So, for the bicyclists, their argument falls apart because they contribute a loss to society. They're all too busy going to rallies for fans of terrorism and living in shared houses and doing drugs to ever even offer to lift a finger to raise, rather than lower, the wealth of the nation."
01/23 Direct Link
Liticia was sitting in the lounge drinking juice. She still hurt down there. The doctor said the pain would drift away, over three or four days.

The door opened. A smiling man entered.

He said, "Hi! Did you just have an abortion?"

Liticia slowly said, "Yes."

"I'm from the government! We want to buy your aborted foetus for medical research! We'll pay $5,000!"

She was groggy. "Okay."

"Fine!" He gave her a cheque. "And there's plenty more where that came from!" And left.

Liticia looked at the cheque. It's true, she forced herself to think. Happy days are here again.
01/24 Direct Link
One Sunday morning in about 1989 I cooked up a bacon and eggs breakfast for Cheryl Lancastle.

Linda came into the kitchen. She looked sarcastically at what we were eating, made some instant coffee, and remarks, and then she said, "Yeah, bacon and eggs. That's what's killing my father right now."

And she broke down. Never before or since have I seen her break down. She went out back—it was spring, the snow was mostly gone—and David followed her.

Linda came back in a bit later. Meanwhile, Cheryl and I, stupid about grief, didn't speak. We knew nothing.
01/25 Direct Link
The first funeral I went to was the funeral of my mother's mother's mother. I think she was ninety-eight.

The funeral took place in a small community about fifteen miles from Oshawa. I was nine or so.

Who authorized the ceremony? What Protestant sect? She'd returned to Earth, but I didn't know why.

After the burial, I found myself at a farmhouse, probably the house of one of her children.

I was standing out back. A relative who I never met again was talking to me. I was looking at the rolling field, thinking, There should be a horse here.
01/26 Direct Link
Around about 1988, I was somewhere with Cheryl Lancastle and one of her housemates—can't recall his name—and I told them a tale.

I told them about when my father's mother—"Nan"—had been in a nursing home—Hillsdale—around about 1979; and she'd phoned my father to complain about the conditions.

My mother went to the front door and rang the bell.

My father said, "Gotta go, there's someone at the door."

I broke down telling the story. Cheryl's housemate, angry (why I'll never know), said, "Pray to God you don't wind up like that!" and stomped out.
01/27 Direct Link
I got a phone call from an unlikely source one day: Jeff Hoogsteen. He said, "You should sit down."

I was in the kitchen. I sat on Chelsea's cage.

"Doug was in a car accident two nights ago, and he's passed away. He's dead."

Next day in English class Terry Gadd tried to read Houseman's 'To an Athlete Dying Young.' He broke down.

Then, in music class, I overblew on the trumpet. I was so fucking angry no-one dared to give me more grief about my sharpness.

To say I carried his coffin sounds trite, but that's what I did.
01/28 Direct Link
I wanted to get through this series of six funeraries, all done in preparation for what I was expecting to happen, when what I was expecting to happen happened. My father died tonight at about seven o'clock.

A bit earlier I talked to my mother. Dad wasn't at all well. It was palliative care from now on. Everyone was prepared.

Then the call from my brother-in-law.

Freud went to the Acropolis and said, "Gee, it really exists!" That's what it was like. "Gee, it's not a hoax! He's not recuperating! He's not rebounding! Nothing like that can ever happen again!"
01/29 Direct Link
We went to Oshawa today. Visited with my mother. She'd gotten out of the hospital that morning with a new hip.

We went to see him at the Oshawa Funeral Home.

My father died at about seven o'clock pm on January 28. My mother was discharged from the hospital at ten-thirty am on January 29. She'd been in hospital, and nowhere else, for nineteen days.

I really believe he was waiting to see her before he died. He was hanging on, for that purpose only. They missed each other by about fifteen hours. Fifteen hours, after fifty-odd years of marriage.
01/30 Direct Link
I'm not right sure if this should go here or on tomorrow.

In 1977 or 1978, December 22 or 23, after my father had been on some typical tear, this time about the pork being undercooked, we all went to bed (though maybe we didn't sleep all that much).

2 am I heard him. He said, more or less, I'm having a heart attack. Fuck it hurts!

My mother got him in the car and drove him to the hospital, down through some December storm. She beat on his chest. "Don't die, you fucker!"

Meanwhile, I was hoping he'd die.
01/31 Direct Link
On Sunday mornings I'd go to deliver the Sunday Sun, which was the Toronto Sun's big weekender, to an area some blocks from my house. In a little hatchback, a Chevy Vega, my father would drive while I hung off the back with my stack of papers.

Now I realise he liked doing stuff like that with me. I hated him, I hated him, but he would truck off with me on Sunday mornings to deliver some crummy newspaper.

No matter how much of a bastard he was, he tried not to be so.

Dad, loving you, rest in peace.