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03/01 Direct Link
Highway 11 goes up past Orillia to the west. The Trans-Canada Highway goes to the south of it. There's a nice intersection called Rugby with a lot of farms around it. Old Barrie Road and 12 Line N. There's a road called Scottsdale Drive. If you keep going north on 11 Line N you reach a wooded area. It's possible that the road returned to woods in the last forty years or so. But the farm itself can be in good shape. I don't even think they need crops or livestock. Seems a place for the Kine to be around.

03/02 Direct Link
As I've pieced it together:

Barry Moser designed an edition of the King James Bible and released it in 1999. I bought it, and read it. Later I found he'd done illustrations for Mark Twain's The Mysterious Stranger, so I ordered it up. A few weeks later I received the Twain but in the same package was another book, illustrated and signed by Moser. The book was called "The Kine," by Thomas Foxworthy. There was no information about Foxworthy anywhere on the book. Before I tell you about the book, I'll tell you about trying to find out about him.

03/03 Direct Link
The meal was a meat stew or thick soup. The meat appeared to have no grain to it, like the flat rubbery mush of tofu. However, it tasted like chicken. I had some more. The second piece tasted like pork.

"This is strange stuff," I said. "What is it?"

"It's meatmelon."

"What's meatmelon?"

"They're from really deep in the ground, near where the coal and diamonds are. They're not easy to prepare because they're more like wooden balls when raw. You have to cut them with an axe. You boil them for a half hour then peel off the skins."

03/04 Direct Link
In the diner I asked the waitress, "Do you know a guy lives around here by the name of ... Fitzbodily Wunderpluntz?"

She shoved a fist against a hip and thought. "Name don't ring a bell. Hey Louie!"

A face popped out from back. "What?"

"Ever heard of."

***

A young man and woman were sitting on the porch when we drove up. Mary and I got out of the car and went up to them.

Politely I said, "Does Fitzbodily Wunderpluntz live here? With his wife? Your mother?"

The man said, "They're not here."

"Will they be back soon?"

03/05 Direct Link
I have received your email. Yes, I read your paper, and you merit an F. But that's only because I was persuaded by your argument!

You argue various mitigations in the case. You discuss the murderer's bad parents, his bad milieu, etc. You conclude (if such is your argument) that he is essentially not reponsible for his crime. "Society is to blame."

To agree with you, I have decided to fail you, and give the A to society. Just as "society is to blame" for the subject's crimes, so "society is to blame" for your excellent paper.

Yours truly,
[...]

03/06 Direct Link
It's like this. You're thinking of other things when you arrive at the intersection with a traffic light. You want to get to the opposite corner. You look at the lights. They're red both ways. One of them is naturally about to change. And you're waiting. And things could go either way. You'll be crossing one or the other of the streets very soon. Is this consequential? When you get to the other side of one of the roads, you'll have to wait for the other light anyway. And there's someone in the same situation as you, across from you.

03/07 Direct Link
For his birthday, they bought him a trip to the mother planet.

It was his first trip there. Both his parents had been born in a big city called England, in a neighbourhood called Manchester.

He saw from the ship high above the standard massive skyscrapers. Then he was on the ground. There were smaller buildings, some as little as a hundred feet high.

On the eighteenth level of the neighbourhood of Manchester he found his father's apartment. The thousand people who lived there were charmed he'd come all that way.

Leaving, he looked back. He'd never see it again.

03/08 Direct Link
Say, have you ever started tucking in a shirt--first around the ass, then around the hips, then around your reproductive organs--(I like saying "reproductive organs"--puts a new perspective on it)--before you realize it's not your shirt you're tucking in? That it belongs to someone else entirely? Man, if I could get a nickel for every--yes, happens to you too? thank you, thank you--on a subway platform once I even made it to the weiner and beans. Boy, was my face red! Like I always say, it's the indefinite articles you gotta take care with....

03/09 Direct Link
Let's talk about someone else for a change, shall we?

Let's make it male.
Let's make it five foot eleven.
Let's make it slightly sinister.
Let's make it married.
Let's make it have three children.
Let's make it blue-eyed.
Let's make it an investment banker.
Let's make it have a dog.
Let's make it drive a sportscar.
Let's make it have indigestion.
Let's make it from a proud southern family.
Let's make it write music.
Let's make it hold manageable debt.
Let's make it have a reckless past.
Let's make it consider things very carefully.
Let's make it sometimes happy.

03/10 Direct Link
Can you imagine what Hollywood casting calls looked like before the invention of special effects?

WANTED 5,000 men between the ages of seventeen and twenty-three to cast war picture. Death rate will approximate 35%.

WANTED one sixty-foot simian progenitor for Merian Cooper flick. Will die in final scene.

WANTED one man-in-the-moon for three shots in a French production. Expect to have a rocket pierce your eye.

WANTED one dim-witted non-licenced dentist to marry a woman consumed with greed and to die in Death Valley.

WANTED one dirigible crew willing to jump to their deaths in new movie by Howard Hughes.

03/11 Direct Link
"I pity them."

"You pity who?"

"I pity the people who had the misfortune to have been born in the twelfth century."

"Strange group of people to pity. I don't think there's any folks from the 12th century around here."

"I pity them. I pity them."

"Okay, okay. Why do you pity them?"

"They never had the chance to read anything by Shakespeare."

"And you pity them for that?"

"Yes, of course. Don't you?"

"Do you also pity the people alive today who've never read Shakespeare?"

"Of course not."

"Why not?"

"Because it's entirely their own fault, don't you see?"

03/12 Direct Link
To the Dean of the University of Toronto:

I am not generally a complainer. In fact, this is the first letter of complaint I have ever written. However, I had a very bad experience on your campus yesterday, and I feel you have the right to know about it.

I was walking up the circular staircase in your Faculty of Agriculture building, minding my own business, when what should I find at the top of the stairs but a black bear, unchained, uncollared, and quite possibly unfed. I recalled in my fear a nature program of some sort or another.

03/13 Direct Link
I turned and started down the stairs casually. Unfortunately, when I thought I was far enough away, and started moving quickly. I heard a roar; I looked; and the thing was upon me.

We rolled to the bottom of the stairs, his jaws clamped on my left arm. I punched the beast repeatedly til he let go and stepped back, stunned. I took the opportunity to run further, through a doorway, closing the door fast.

I expect no recompense. However, what if I had been a child? You should severely reprimand whomever is bringing bears onto your campus.

Yours truly,

03/14 Direct Link
Sarge was at the front when Const Jones burst through the double doors, handcuffed to a suspect who was handcuffed to a suspect, again and again and again, all the way out the the sidewalk.

"Jones! What's the meaning of this?!"

"I want these jokers booked!"

"On what charges?"

"Aiding and abetting several felonies during the weekend's riots!"

"What? All of them?"

"They're cover, sarge, for the psychopathic folks who just like to break things. And they admit it!"

"You there! Is this true?"

Sheepishly: "Yes. We're human shields for the violent."

"How many of you are there?"

Jones: "13,286."

03/15 Direct Link
Globe and Mail question:

"Is Canada a good country in which to live and work as a writer?"

I like living and working as a writer in Canada. I don't expect death squads; I don't expect to be imprisoned. There's a nice small group of people who read my work, and sometimes they say nice things about me. The rest of the time they don't say anything at all.

I'm glad we have a good supply of electricity in this country. Electric typewriters are a godsend.

The Canadian telephone has helped my life as a writer, too. Plus good cigarettes.

03/16 Direct Link
My mother and my sister-in-law today signed a "Do Not Resuscitate" document for my brother.

The doctor told them it'll be a couple days.

Five years ago something went wrong in his guts. He came close to death then. But he recovered.

Since last summer he's been feeling poorly. As it turned out, he has a liver disease.

He couldn't get down the stairs of his house a week ago Monday--or was it Sunday?

He's been kept unconscious since then.

Then there's pneumonia, and his kidneys aren't working anymore.

He's not going to regain consciousness ever again.

So sad!

03/17 Direct Link
It ended too soon.

The doctor overestimated a lot. My brother died at about one this morning.

As I've found out, the DNR didn't come into it at all. He simply died all on his own.

My mother was with him at the time. His heart got slower and slower, then stopped.

Mary answered the phone at about eight. I knew what it meant even before she picked it up.

Arrangements were made this afternoon.

Last time I saw him: at our grandmother's 99th birthday party.

How much crying can one do?

He was the nicest guy I've ever known.

03/18 Direct Link
One of my memories is of a three a.m. swim; drunk, of course. I suppose Liz and Mary were sleeping....

Of course it was naturel swimming; we were both thinner in those days.

We sat on the edge of the pool, talking for I suppose an hour or so. Maybe about the family. Or just general drunkenness talking. I suppose I was getting cosmic....

(Today Mary asked me, "What made him tick?" which made me remember this detail:)

...I asked something to the effect of: "What's it all about? What's the point of living?"

He said, "It's all about pleasure."

03/19 Direct Link
It's almost two. I'm drunk. I happened to put on "Exposure" by Robert Fripp.

It's a release that includes two versions of the record: The original, and the version with more Daryl Hall (along with other tweaks).

And in an instant I think--I wonder if David has heard this--because David's musical nexus was Brian Eno and, to a lesser extent, Robert Fripp--and wouldn't he be interested in this--

I thought of this already--two days ago? I'm going to find things I'll want to tell him about.

But we'll never trade records again. His ear is gone.

03/20 Direct Link
I became his Best Man through the worst of all situations. The man David really wanted to be his Best Man was a guy who I think was his boss at the architectural firm where he worked. However, he died two or three days before the wedding.

I leave that at that. So I thereby became Best Man at the wedding of David and Liz.

And David was shaking as we figured out the ring business. The ring I held in a Bible.

In the months before his death he and Liz talked about arrangements, and David wanted nothing "religious."

03/21 Direct Link
I tried to say David was the only person in my family who never royally pissed me off and who I always wanted to stay; to stay on for another drink, to stay on for another long record.

How did he see? I know one thing: he'd move into a place and immediately start visioning how it should be. He tore out walls to make a place more beautiful.

He tore out the wall of a staircase at his apartment at McLaughlin Square,

and now today a realestate seller is saying to someone, "This was a resident's modification. Nice, huh?"

03/22 Direct Link
You can't get through ten minutes when someone's dead without thinking of him.

I was reading The Stand when me and my parents took a trunk of junk to him, to Madison Avenue in Toronto. I didn't see much of his place, though. I was twelve at the time, and I hated the trip, and I hated my father.

I've roasted two chickens in the last week. One at my mother's house, the other here. It was a bit of a joke before David married Liz. He was Mr. Chickencooker.

Sadly, I never ate one of his magnificent chickens. Sad.

03/23 Direct Link
We went to my mother's apartment in Oshawa late this evening, in the dark. We just sat there, mostly. We hadn't run out of things to say. We didn't want to say anything.

His son is, I think, seventeen. He's very talkative. When he came with my mother and my brother up to Bala, he would not stop talking. He talked all the time coming up, he talked all the time in our rented shack, and I assume he talked all the way back to Oshawa.

I talked to Liz on Sunday. She said she still talks to David. Often.

03/24 Direct Link
THE FUNERAL

This is our third time here in a little over three years.

Some of the people are the same people from two years ago. Plus there's Jake's mother, who was here last year.

I hear about a period when David was twenty-two or so, when he lived in an apartment I never visited.

I hear that he collected jokes, and told them to another person, one-a-day.

I glanced at the urn of ashes, but only once.

We've all gotten so old!

Now it's all over, and I don't know what to do. Everything's changed.

I still love you, David.

03/25 Direct Link
One morning about five years ago, I woke up as a robot. I hadn't been a robot the night before, but I was a robot when I woke up. I dressed myself mechanically, and ate food robotically. I went to work and did my work. I didn't tell anyone I was a robot because that's what robots don't. I automatically went to my fabourite restaurant. I watched some sitcoms that night and laughed robotically.

Next morning, I was a person again. I felt relieved.

I wonder if it'll ever happen to me again....

It could happen, I suppose, to anyone.

03/26 Direct Link
The spheres:

We live in a row house. I know the people on either side. But what about two doors away in either direction? Nope. Don't know who they are.

I work in a department of a large corporation. I know the people in my department, up to perhaps a quarter of a floor. But the people in the other three quarters? Or the floor above or the floor below? Nope.

I was born in 1965. I've known people my age, people older, and people younger. But did I know people from the 18th century or the 23rd century? Nope.

03/27 Direct Link
He had to tell me something serious.

"John, my wife is possessed by a demon."

"Oh no."

"It started with creatures in the walls and at the windows. Then one night I found her naked on the lawn, spread wide. I tried to ignore it at first, her foul language, her fascination with shit. But then she crucified the cat upside-down. I forced her onto the bed and tied her down. She was really strong. She's still there, tied up, covered in vomit. So, what do you think?"

"I'm thinking how I can fit this all in a hundred words."

03/28 Direct Link
To get to the nearest inhabitable planet we had to get to Gliese 581, but to get to Gliese 581 we had to reach Jupiter. And to get to Jupiter we had to pass the moon, and in order to pass the moon we had to launch from Earth. To launch from Earth we needed to build a rocketship but to do that we needed some special rocket fuel from deep underground. To get to it we needed a big drill but to get a big drill we had to get out the front door, and we couldn't do that.

03/29 Direct Link
Dear Lawrence Martin:

Though it may be true that the Conservative's fictional universe overshadows the fictional universes of the other parties, I am really looking forward to your anatomy of the fictional universe of the Liberal Party. You can start with the make-believe idea that they only want to raise the taxes of big and wealthy corporations, as if these bodies exist on a plane entirely separate from this world here. I'd also enjoy your autocritique: Only in a make-believe world could one believe that Stephen Harper, not the Crown, prorogued Parliament. Can you finish these by Friday and Saturday?

03/30 Direct Link
It's pretty well-established that one awakes from nightmares because the experience is just too horrible.

There's a volcano blowing off over there! Rivers of lava are flowing down too fast for fleeing from. There's a man in the middle of it; he climbs onto a rooftop. He's screaming for help. It's almost too horrible! The lava is climbing, climbing. There's no escape! The lava licks over the lowest part of the roof and sleeps higher. He's only got a corner of the roof! Oh my God! Oh my God no! Oh well.

Maybe I should have mentioned he's Louis Farrakhan?

03/31 Direct Link
BUS SHELTER

Is it the fear that a big wind will come by and sweep us off our feet? No; even when there's not a leaf stirring a person will be in it. The walls are glass. There can be not a cloud in the sky, and yet they--we--all get into it. They get into it even in pleasant weather. They have explanatory antetypes: alone in my room, safe in a house, Being before 'being.' You can see the Falun Gong people moving slowly in unison. (You know it's really bad weather if there are three people therein.)