REPORT A PROBLEM
THINGS I’VE LEARNED PLAYING WORDS WITH FRIENDS
RELIQUIT is not a word
VERTIPED is not a word
OLEIGH is not a word
QUYN is not a word
HALFSLY is not a word
ITEND is not a word
PUPPEY is not a word
APERA is not a word
QUESTEN is not a word
IJIT is not a word
OVINE is a word
THINGS I’VE LEARNED PLAYING UNO AGAINST A SIX-YEAR-OLD
THINGS I’VE LEARNED AS A TIME TRAVELER
A bad day in the wastelands of Terra Fortuna is better than a good day at the Battle of Gettysburg
JOHN'S FAREWELL ADDRESS TO THE NATION
Peter Zenger! Now there was a man. He had a press and a plan. Hey, that rhymes. "A man, a plan, a canal. Panama!" Not quite a palindrome, but you kind of think as you're writing it, maybe it is. No, wait, it is! It's the most famous palindrome in the English-speaking world! I don't know why I thought I was getting it wrong.
That said, my advice is to avoid any foreign entanglements. No "Imperial entanglements," as Obi Wan said coyly. That always bugged me, actually: his needless coyness.
That said: adieu.
JOHN'S FAREWELL ADDRESS TO THE NATION, REVISED
You only get one crack at being president. Two, maybe. That’s my understanding of term limits. Now, some of you out there, you wanted me to be president for another term. Or not at all. Still others say, Yeah, what you had
your tenure was just about right. These are the real Americans. These are the men and women I want to address here today.
My fellow real Americans, to quote Darth Vader, the character from the Star Wars films, “Search your feelings. You know it to be true.”
JOHN’S FAREWELL ADDRESS TO THE NATION, REVISED
When I think back on all the great diners I got to visit as president. Gosh. Eggs and toast, coffee... I’ve always loved diners.
You know, I wonder if it’s not too late — I’d like to declare today a National Day of the Diner. Can I do that? Tammy, do you have the paperwork for something like that? Can you call Danny at the Executive Office? I’ll wait. I think this is worth it. No, go for it. Hustle, though, Tammy.
Ladies and gentlemen, a big round of applause for Tammy Hergensberger. Absolutely.
JOHN’S FAREWELL ADDRESS TO THE NATION, REVISED
History brings people together, right? And history breaks them apart.
No. That’s awful.
History, my friends! That’s what we’re here to make. We’ve —
No. This is a farewell address. Not a history speech.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury…
— Ha! I always wanted to say that.
But seriously: Ladies and gentlemen, "The Boss,” Mr. Bruce Springsteen!
I’ve always wanted to say that too.
“You’re a fantastic audience.”
— No, Don,
pull it together! “Vice president” my ass. You should take a good look in the mirror, pal!
We're out of time? Already?
JOHN’S FAREWELL ADDRESS TO THE NATION, REVISED
Well, this is it. “The big farewell.” I give a speech, and you all stand there with your napkins and drinks in hand, some of you with reporter's notebooks.
I see a kid down there playing with one of our Mylar balloons. Mylar ain’t cheap, kid! Yeah, you. I see you. Fine, take that one balloon out into the hall. You’re distracting. Yeah. All the way. Out.
OK. So we’ve had a good run. You’ve been a fine electorate. I’ve certainly grown a lot in my time as —
— No! Just the one balloon!
JOHN’S FAREWELL ADDRESS TO THE NATION, FINAL
This one’s for the money, folks. I’m wrapping up four years of a truly kick-ass presidency, and you’re here, and the band is gonna jam, and I got a guy to help me write my book, and don’t forget to get on the mailing list so I can tell you when the book comes out.
It’s gonna have a chapter even about tonight! You might wind up in my book! Can I get a “Hey-o!” Come on, now: “Hey-o!”
Yeah, now, that’s the one!
Shake those moneymakers!
I LOVE LUCY: The girls fret as Fred and Ricky journey 500 years into the future to battle a new threat from the Dominion. Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz.
CHEERS: Special hourlong episode, filmed in real-time, in which Sam, Carla and Woody plain-old tend bar; a man asks directions. Ted Danson, Rhea Perlman.
THE MUNSTERS: Grandpa covers up Herman’s disappearance after convincing him to head for the northernmost ice to die. Fred Gwynne, Al Lewis.
ENTERPRISE: Capt. Archer is called on the carpet after an enigmatic new race flips the Earth's crust upside down. Scott Bakula, Jolene Blalock.
MY CLIENT is not moved to reflect. He does not linger on details. He knows that he has stomped, has graduated, has profited. He does not know how to describe his tenement in the Bronx, in the late 1950s, early 1960s. The building apparently contains no frying onions, no garlic. No doors open into other lives, other dramas. His father teaches him to crack a billy club against another second grader’s skull, and thereby retrieve his stolen coat. But my client does not describe the other child’s face, nor his father’s, nor the swing of the club, nor anybody's loss.
MY FRIEND ED SAYS,
“Oahu is the best of all worlds, easily accessed via Honolulu Airport. Waikiki is touristy, but has great beaches and lots of great places to eat. The North Shore and east coast of Oahu are much more laid back, with great beaches, but not so out far out of civilization that you couldn't drive 15-20 minutes to find groceries or a decent restaurant. Hanauma Bay is a snorkeling paradise. Also nice: Oahu is a relatively small island, so it's easy to drive from city to country, depending on what you're in the mood to do.”
Larry Plantagenet had mere moments to write 100 words, or else the tax man would find and eat him. He knew he had to scramble to find something to say that was basically subject, verb, object, and to not look back; no, dear god, never look back; just keep going. That was on Larry’s agenda for the next few moments, and it was only on realizing that he was going to reach his goal — he was sure of that now — he had time to reflect on the fact that he was a freewrite, and meeting his goal meant the end.
Larry Plantagenet, 30 seconds, of 100 Words, died on the screen Wednesday of natural causes.
A leading area free-write, Plantagenet was known locally for his brevity and directness, and had a leading role in the creation of an online musing read to date by an estimated two dozen site contributors.
Survivors include a first draft of a client’s manuscript, of Word 2011; two poems, of Yellow Legal Pad; an encouraging e-mail, of Mail App; and a squirrel-photo postcard, of Windshield Visor.
Services will be private.
Memorials may be made to the American Wite-Out Association.
AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE
ADDITIONAL MATCH PENALTIES
Must be assessed when injury results
Causing cinnamon to lodge in opposing player's eyes or mucous membranes
Skate-carving caricature of opposing player’s grandmother or aunt (etc.) into ice, wontonly raising opposing player’s blood pressure
Loosing red/army ants into player or referee’s personal equipment
Telling opposing player long story about a cookie which exposes him to ennui
MURDERING THE GOALTENDER
SALTING THE CREASE
SENDING FALSE NHL RECRUITMENT OFFER
EROTICA PENNING (goaltender only)
EROTICA EDITING (any player)
KNIVES LONGER THAN SIX (6) INCHES
I FEEL fairly well jammed up with a sadness that aspires toward grief. I range like a cheetah across my life until I have to deal with K., and then everything is molasses and sinkhole.
And not even every time — that’s the hell of it. Usually it goes well enough. We hand off, we inform, we make friendly inquiries. Sometimes we part with a hug, or else an ironic handshake.
How to describe the effect? I had fun with the boys yesterday. So today she punishes.
I loved her; I did. No more.
Please, God, mediation. Let me sign something.
Larry Gargleman, another free-write from the ninth ward, knew he had to get inked and dried — no, not even dried — and advent bettaed within three minutes. He smelled the film of the burnt fat Dale brewed up while he was at the movies. All the windows in the house open to the patter of a gentle rain, airing out the house. The smoke alarm on the kitchen table, its nine-volt battery excised, telling the story. The movie was awful; he’d gone because he likes martial arts. This was brutal. Mayhem. Don’t see it. “The Raid: Redemption”; now this.
AS I WAS being seated at dinner tonight, I saw my former writing group buddy L. across the room, beaming at me, waving me over. I went to say hi, and she and her party insisted I join them. Insisted! And even after I pointed out I’d brought a book to read. Turned out it’s L.’s birthday, and there was room at the table for one more. So I stayed.
Had a really nice time. Great people, all of whom are in higher ed. We talked about aging relatives, death, writing.
Dinner: wonton soup, calamari, edamame and sushi rolls.
HIKED EVEREST yesterday. Set out with some Germans and Norwegians I’d met in Thamel. Did the whole Monkey Temple/Durbar Square/refugee carpet center thing, and I told a few jokes I know in German. (Big laughs!) Then we flew to Lukla, loaded the yaks, filed down through terraced hillsides and along stone fences to the Dudh Kosi River, crossed the suspension bridge and made camp near Phakding.
While the others washed clothes, checked out their gear, etc., I jogged on up to the peak.
view. Then down to base to say goodbye, and off to battle Doctor Colossus.
ANOTHER INTERVIEW with Becky Reynolds from the
tomorrow. These are fun. The flirting, the time together.
“Oh, I didn’t know you drink coffee,” she says, and jots that down: “coffee. Med. roast. Med. cup. Cream.” The next day it’s a story, and people read it. I guess that humanizes me.
Becky once asked me what goes through my head as I’m battling, say, the Conquistador, his lightning-fast neutronium fists. I didn’t know what to tell her. It’s a battle: I look for openings, try to keep bystanders safe. Sometimes I miss my kids.
So I told her, “Justice.”
BECKY REYNOLDS asks me what it’s like to work with the Federal Falcon, do I trust him? She catches herself — “Of course you trust him, of course; I just meant…”
I know what she meant.
“The Falcon made a bad call. He knows it. He apologized. He made amends. I respect the Falcon, and I would proudly follow him into battle. Well, I wouldn’t really follow him; more at fight alongside him. I don’t really follow people into, um, battle. That’s not how it works.”
It was a stumble. I totally screwed that up.
She’s writing furiously.
— Stupid, stupid, stupid!
TODAY I LAND at a schoolyard in Greenfield. The teacher’s tickled pink, and the kids crowd, pumping me for the usual trivia: Who’s my toughest foe; do I have to eat; do I have to poop; am I stronger than a T. Rex; do bullets even hurt me; can I pick up the whole school?
One slight boy, alone, slumped on a stilled swing, studies his scuffed sneakers etching ant canyons in red dust. Beneath the cavorting, I hear his choked whisper: “Why’d you have to go and save Uncle Rob?”
— This is a job for the principal.
Early sales of FOUR-COLOR FROLIC COMICS disappoint the publisher, a barrel-chested, weak-kneed former stevedore named Mark Mansk, late of New York Harbor, later still of a steamy Bowery flop. It is Mansk's sister, Eleanor, a seamstress, who’d propped Mansk up in publishing, leveraging a lucrative side business: letting Dutch and Irish itinerant workers heft a Spanish doubloon she'd won in 1935 as a tip from J.G. Minnifred Walsh, then a titan in the shirtblacking industry; and he, Mansk, was eager, out of dumb brute pride, perhaps, to repay her largesse: $8 and half a shepherd’s pie.
TODAY I FLEW around the world as fast as I could, to see what it was like. (No, I didn’t turn back time.) Went around twice in seven hours. Seven
Air friction sucks. I had to climb pretty damn high, pretty much into space, to get anywhere with any real speed.
Forget about breathing. You gotta hold your breath and go for it, and that’s not as fun as it sounds.
Street clothes will strip right off a body on reentry, and I am scrubbed raw. Now slathered in aloe.
It's good to push myself sometimes.
WORDY WIN FOR ‘SNYDER’ CHIMP
STOCKHOLM—With Spangles the chimp gamboling on stage behind him, MIT’s Charles Rand on Saturday held aloft his golden statuette, and silenced critics who said he could never train a chimpanzee to produce a body of flash fiction.
Writing as “John Snyder,” Spangles has done just that — at the rate of 100 words a day for three months, on the site 100Words.com.
“We win! We win!” Rand shouted, teeth bared, while his troop of graduate students cheered, screeched, and tumbled their approval.
The Palme d’Plantain is given annually by the World Congress of Lower Primate Arts and Sciences.
HEY, I'M GONNA try to get on over to my old writing group now, give everyone a thrill. It's been about four years, and the venue has moved from Shelburne Falls to Turners Falls. Not sure which house, but I’m sure I’ll find it.
— Couldn’t find it.
— Went to a lamby pub.
— Drank beer, ate chili.
— Wrote anyway:
Here a low wick stutters storm clouds across pine mesa planks // There, at the base of lager, Heaven's own biscuit crumb // I lay me down my elbows, arms and empty hands // There a woman taps the jukebox // which wakes up crying // Hallelujah.
I remember buying that [“A Public Space” No. 1, Spring 2006] at Barnes & Noble. I should read it.
Desktop wallpaper pattern, orange saree: a solid performer.
My Nerf football. My “thinking ball.” There it sits.
My kid’s watercolor. Weird alien cells: the mitochondria, the centrioles. "Just splotches," he’d said, shrugging, when I’d asked.
Katana letter opener in bamboo cup. I haven’t opened a letter with it in ages. Anything else in the cup? No. Back it goes. [Klak]
Woman leaving for the day asks whether she should turn off her power strip. What am I, the electricity police?
Gathered another great hour of interview toward K.’s book.
Felt aligned with A.’s therapist; usually she looks at me quizzically as I talk, and more quizzically when I stop talking.
Ate a tasty barbecue chicken burrito.
Earned the comic store dude’s respect in a Star Trek trivia throwdown.
Heard from C., grieving, she said, for the fun times.
Hooked in with a likely new book client.
Resolved to travel to Atlanta to meet my clients, get in some reporting.
Led a fun Toastmasters meeting.
Supped with pals.
Stayed up late with my friend V., discussing love.
“Oh, Thomas, oh.”
“Yes, Ingrid, my Ingrid!”
“Oh, my Tom-Tom.”
“Yes, Ingrid, yes?”
“Yes? Yes, Ingrid?”
“Oh, Ingrid, Ingrid.”
“You interrupted, Tom.”
“Yes, Ingrid. Yes. No, you, Ingrid. Please—”
“Ingersol. For Ingrid.”
“No, Tom. ‘Ingey.’”
GOOGLING HERMIT CRABS just now so I could better describe moving into a new apartment, and spotted this goodreads synopsis for something called “10 Little Hermit Crabs.” Made me sad and itchy:
Ten little hermit crabs scuttle to the beach,
Down swoops a seagull
Screech! Screech! Screech!
Hush says the seashore,
Shh says the sea,
How many hermit crabs will there be?.
— Ten little hermit crabs are exploring the beach, but one by one they disappear until there is only one left! Young readers will love counting aloud and seeing the last lonely crab happily reunited with all its friends
HA! I JUST spent two hours writing a 100 Words piece that I now don’t want to share. Isn’t that something? I’d labored over it. Maybe if it had it been a better read I’d have posted it.
The piece was about me, a big inheritance, my unhappy marriage, depression, and divorce. At the end I’d tacked on this bit about hope and, like, a new day dawning. “Poorish, free and happy.” There, you just got the whole gist.
So that’s writing for you. It’s always best to take these things from a new angle when you get stuck.
MY TOP-THIRTEEN most played songs, 'ccording to iTunes:
1. Little Person, Jon Brion, Synecdoche, New York
2. Who's Gonna Love You, Fascinoma, Self-titled
3. Theme, Jon Brion, Eternal Sunshine...
4. All Plays Out, Jon Brion, Synecdoche, New York
5. Song for Caden, Ibid
6. Willie, Cat Power, The Greatest
7. Columbus Ave., Aimee Mann, @#%&*! Smilers
8. It's Over, Ibid
9. Closing Credits, Shane Carruth, Primer
10. Rachmaninov, Suite No. 1 for Two Pianos Op. 5.
11. Clean, Peter Himmelman, Skin
12. Landed, Ben Folds, Songs for Silverman
13. Michael Ponti and Robert Leonardi, Rachmaninov Piano Concerto #2, Vocalise, Etc., Chill With Rachmaninov
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