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01/01 Direct Link
“ISN’T THAT YOUR friend John?”

“Yeah.”

“Should we go over and say hello?”

“No. I think he wants to be alone.”

“Is he OK?”

“Yeah... I guess. He just had a major business reversal. He started a company...”

“Oh, cool!”

“Well, it was ill-advised. His idea was to... It was a food thing. He tried to market a new breakfast product, ‘Bagel-Pops,’ like a cereal?”

“That’s a great idea!”

“No, not really. The thing was, it was these real little toasted bagels, with, like cream cheese, lox, other little spreads, in milk.”

“Like, in a bowl?”

“Yeah.”

“Oh.”
01/02 Direct Link
“WOULD YOU LIKE butter on that?”

“A little.”

[Squirt, squirt, squirt, squirt, squirt.]

“Will there be anything else?”

“No, that’d be it.”

“...That’s $1,021.75.”

“For this?”

“The medium popcorn, the two large Sprites, the ChocoSnouts, the walkie talkies, the fish flakes, the cave tetra, the aquarium kit, the 20 gallons Evian, the Jujubes, and a Civil War cannon.”

“I didn’t want the cannon.”

“You didn’t?”

“— I did, Dad.”

“We’re not getting the cannon.”

“— Aw!”

“Did you want the cannon?”

“No.”

“— Aw!”

“Your total with tax is $629.25.”

“Here.”

“Credit or debit?”

“Credit.”

“...You’re all set.”

“Thanks.”

“— Aw!”

“Quiet.”
01/03 Direct Link
“YOUR HUSBAND’S offstage; he can’t hear us. Are you ready to play?”

“No.”

“...That’s for luck.”

“I’m not—”

“One hundred people surveyed, top five answers on the board, fifteen seconds on the clock; name something... children play with.”

“It won’t!”

“Something you see in a newspaper.”

“Make it stop, make it stop.”

“Name something people bring on vacation.”

“Those men in the suits.”

>BUZZ<

“Try again.”

“Sally! Where—”

“Something you wear on your feet.”

“They’re breaking.”

>BUZZ-BUZZ<

“Try again.”

“Why are their mouths doing that?”

“Something a mailman hands you.”

“Mommy’s sorry.”

[Applause]

“Turn around, Mrs. Landengheir!”
01/04 Direct Link
"ASK HIM FOR directions.”

“I’m not gonna ask him.”

“He’s a public servant. He has to help.”

“I don’t like the looks of him. Let’s find an American.”

“No, I want to put my feet up. Ask him. I’m telling you to ask him. Or I will.”

“Jesus Christ. ... Hello, officer...”

“Buen día. ¿En qué puedo ayudarle?”

“We’re, uh, looking for our hotel, in this crazy city. The, uh, Tambo del Inka something something something. Our resort.”

“¿Está buscando direcciones?”

“What?”

“¿Te has perdido?”

“We’re turned around, my wife and me. We’re from America, on vacation.”

“Oh, por supuesto, señor.”
01/05 Direct Link
"MR. SNYDER, were you serious when you said you’d never turn any of your stories into a movie?"

"What I said was that I couldn’t imagine my stories being adapted for film in a way that I would like, and so no; I’m not interested in putting myself through that, my fans through that. I write for readers."

"But you could make so much more money."

"OK. Well, there are a lot of ways to make a lot of money. I don’t know you, and I don’t mean to offend you, but what if I suggested a way for you to make a lot of money that you believed wouldn't align with your values? Would you do it?"

"I don’t understand."

"OK. That’s fine. I do appreciate the question. Can I sign that for you?"

"Yes, please."

"...Here you go."

"Thank you. So, think about it, OK?"
01/06 Direct Link
“HAPPY NEW YEAR. Welcome to KlickityKard.”

“What are you guys?”

“Pardon me?”

“What’s with your shack out here in the parking lot?”

“Our kiosk?”

“What are you guys selling, cameras? Phones?”

“Nope! We’re the valley’s premier full-service SD card performance station. We provide SD card cleaning, comprehensive SD card formatting, SD card accessories...”

“What?”

“KlickityKard is your digital device’s best friend. Take advantage of our same-day service, and get a complementary SD card cozy on orders of $15 or more. Here’s our brochure. Everything's on there, and our phone, fax, and hours.”

“‘...SD card portraits’?”

“Your name?”
01/07 Direct Link
"THERE'S YOU WITH the niftet our shaman gave us at Aidengully Carouse. 'Six-a-penny, four-a-penny, make me your own,' he sang. Remember?"

"I do."

"I’d smelled fig bread when he leaned in to augur his blessing. Then the niftet, right? Plucked from his purse, it so quickly corsaged..."

"And I stroked that blood-white beauty while you jingled over tokens, and then..."

"And then the shaman flew."

"It was like that."

“ 'My heroes,' you teased."

"Yes."

"Then that other shaman, for those kids in their foils. Special Wish, he sang. Guessing all they rated was a rose."
01/08 Direct Link
"YOU SAVED these maps?"

"Yes."

"Tied in yarn? My goodness."

"I saved things like this."

"No, don’t untie it..."

"I don’t mind."

"Wow. Maps. Remember?"

"This was California."

"Are these in any kind of order?"

"No. I don’t know. Maybe by size."

"Pacific Coast Highway. Look, there’s the route we drew."

"So free."

"What happened on that trip?"

"We drove. We danced. I stepped on an urchin."

"This was before the War."

"Yes."

"I mean, they all were."

"Here’s..."

"Oh my God. Manhattan."

"Those beautiful bridges."

"Oh, honey."

"Now it’s all gone."

"Put them away."

"Without a trace."

"I... No."
01/09 Direct Link
“HOW CAN ... you run ... so long ... no stopping?”

“You having a hard time? Relax. Keep your focus. Keep your knees up.”

“Running ... so long.”

“We can take a walk break. I was gonna say Connecticut. Can you make it?”

“Har ... Hartford?”

“Yeah, let’s press to Hartford, grab a walk, stretch it out.”

“God...”

“Doin’ great.”

“... Agh!”

“Doin’ great.”

“You’re not ... you ... breathing good.”

“What?”

“Not even sweating.”

“No, I feel it.”

“God damn... You’re a machine.”

“You’re keepin’ up. Look at you. You got this.”

“No.”

“You got your focus?”

“Yeah.”

“Yeah?”

“Uh huh.”

“She’s worth it, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Focus.”
01/10 Direct Link
“Eminence.”

“Yes?”

“I beseech forgiveness.”

“Rise; rise. Speak.”

“Your grace. In the matter of the Memorabilia...”

“Go on.”

“Mercy, I do not understand.”

“You are not the first. What troubles you?”

“This symbol. This embellishment. It is beautiful, but I do not understand its meaning. What does it signify?”

“Show me.”

“Here, my father.”

“This?”

“The colon, and the right paren. They would seem to suggest a... duality. Both halves standing for incomplete purpose, but together a kind of...”

“It’s a smiley.”

“My lord?”

“Look at it sideways. Here.”

“A... smiley?”

“Blessed be John Snyder.”

“He smiles upon us—”

“Amen.”
01/11 Direct Link
IF I KNEW THEN WHAT I KNOW NOW

1968, age 1 minute: “Well, that sucked.”

1972, age 4: “Oh, cool! This is that thing where Nixon goes to China!”

1975, age 7: “I so wish I could Google this Big Wheel.”

1976, age 8: “Man, I haven’t seen red, white, and blue handlebar tassels in years.”

1978, age 10: “Right now, Barack Obama is 17.”

1980, age 12: “Reckon I’ll be startin’ some push-ups. Yep. This would be the time.”

1982, age 14: “Don’t get too cozy, Andropov.”

1984, age 16: “One-way ticket to Cupertino, please. Window seat.”
01/12 Direct Link
“YOU THERE!”

“Oh, crap.”

“You! What do you think you’re doing?”

“What?”

“You know bloody well what. Who are you, and just what do you think you’re doing? You’re not supposed to be in there.”

“Really? I didn’t...”

“You’re a bloody Yank! I knew it right away. Look, you’re not supposed to be in there. That’s the problem with you people; the sign’s clearly posted.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”

Didn’t know. Right. Come along out of there. Find the stairs. You’re not supposed to be in that building at all. Have you anybody inside with you? Hello? ... Bloody Americans.”
01/13 Direct Link
“THEY DON’T HAVE Keitlinger.”

“Excuse me?”

“They don’t have Keitlinger. He’s supposed to be right here. It goes from Kefton to Keitzspring.”

“Did you ask the librarian?”

“What?”

“Did you look it up in the computer? Or you could ask the librarian.”

“Ask her about what?”

“Nothing. You’re trying to find an author?”

“I need to know how to get blood out of carpeting.”

“What?”

“This guy Keitlinger’s supposed to have written a book about how to clean stuff like that. Unusual cleaning situations.”

“Okay.”

“My name’s Brophy.”

“Hi.”

“I’m new at libraries. I like ‘em better than bookstores. Quieter.”
01/14 Direct Link
“Jake, he leans in, right? He’s hushed. An aftershave guy, turns out.”

“What’s he say?”

“He says, ‘Look, Tance...’”

“That’s you?”

“Yeah.”

“You said ‘Pilgrim.’ At the bar.”

“I said Pilgrim to you. To him, I’m Tance. Lemme finish.”

“Yeah.”

“He says, 'Look, Tance...'”

“Which is it, though, Pilgrim or Tance? Or something else?”

“My momma didn’t name me Tance. She didn’t name me Pilgrim. None of it matters a cotton damn. I’m telling you about Jake, and this does concern you.”

“Right. OK.”

“He says, “Tance...’”

“Sorry. ‘Cotton damn’? I never heard that expression.”

“Are you for real?”

“What?”
01/15 Direct Link
“YOUR NAME is going to be John.”

“Okay.”

“This is good. This works. Lift your arms. ... Okay, relax. ... Yes. Very good!”

“Excuse me?”

“Yes? Don’t be bashful.”

“What’s this all about?”

“Excellent! Excellent! Native curiosity; self preservation; temporal discrimination; heuristic analysis; semiotics. You haven’t forgotten to breathe, have you?”

“No.”

“Wonderful! Sometimes they do, you know. So let’s consider that a step in the right direction for us both.”

“I’d still like to know what this is all about.”

“Of course! Of course, my boy! You can step down now. Right this way to the Human Intra-Frapulator. Ha ha!”
01/16 Direct Link
‎"ANYWAY, SO THIS is it."

"That?"

"Yeah, right there. ... What do you make of it? Is it a meteor?"

"Meteorite. And I don’t know."

"What’s the difference?"

"Well, a meteor is still up there. When they hit, they’re meteorites."

"So is that what this is?"

"Could be. It’s a lump of something. You see it come down?"

"No, I was upstairs, like I said. My wife heard it; I didn’t even hear it."

"And nobody was hurt."

"No. No, it landed right there."

"Well..."

"What do you think?"

"I’d forget about it, Bill. I don’t think it wants much attention."
01/17 Direct Link
“YOU’RE LATE.”

“Sorry. Couldn't be helped.”

“Were you followed?”

“I don’t think so.”

“You don’t know?”

“How can I know whether I was followed? I don’t think I was followed.”

“You can’t just tell?”

“Nothing suggested I was being followed. No immediate clues sprang to mind. I took the precautions I always take.”

“Damn.”

“That’s not good enough now?”

“Always know whether you’re being followed! Just be clear about it!”

“I don’t see anyone. It looks...”

“Don’t turn around!"

“Why not?”

“It looks suspicious. Just give me the letters of transit and walk away.”

“The letters! Damn.”

“Are...”

“Crap. Crap!”
01/18 Direct Link
“THIS IS A spy shirt. It’ll let us observe everything you see and hear all day.”

“A spy shirt?”

“Yes, it’s a cotton/poly blend shot through with a nano-weave sensor mesh, completely impervious to normal detection and countermeasures.”

“It’s a little snug.”

“Where?”

“Here, around the chest and under the arms.”

“How’s the length?”

“It’s fine. It’s just a little tight here.”

“Can you live with it?”

“To be honest, no, not really. It’s very distracting.”

“Okay. Take it off. ... Here. Try this.”

“What’s all this?”

“Put it on. ... Better?”

“Oh, totally, but what are all these doodads?”
01/19 Direct Link
FINALLY I had an answer:

“You can call me The Man Who is In No Mood.”

The others looked at me as if I might have more to say. Kelley, primed, about to laugh, waited only for a punchline.

“That’s it,” I bristled.

Kelley closed her mouth and frowned.

Me, to Ernesto: “Go ahead, man. It’s nine.”

Ernesto: “Dealer’s nine, four club.”

Kelley: “Lady high, I’ll take... two.”

Beatrice: “What do you mean, ‘The Man Who is In No Mood’? What is that? No mood for what?”

Me: “I’m in no mood for a lot of things. What’s your play?”
01/20 Direct Link
MINIATURE SOLAR FLARES roared between the two terminals, shaking my feet, teeth and eyes.

“It’s a decoupled field inversion: perfectly harmless!” shouted Dr. Ptarmigan. “In a CMB-dampened vacuum you could pass through bodily and not feel it!”

“So, this is safe?” I said.

“In the lab? We’re by no means dampened, Charlie. These effects would fry you.”

“But, then...”

“Watch: I’ll bend it!”

Ptarmigan adjusted something at his board, and the light, the noise, and the terminal posts vanished. The platform was vacant.

My pulse thumped in my ears.

Ptarmigan smiled at me. “Sure you want to come along?”
01/21 Direct Link
PASSAGE through the filter-field was torture.

Saws tore at every cell. Pain flared from every nerve ending. Sickening colors, sounds, smells and tastes consumed the remainder of my perception. What held me up I’ll never know, but I staggered through all two meters of it and collapsed to cold tile in a heap of flesh, blood, and vomit.

Then Anders’ men, in their smocks, masks and gloves, ran over, hoisted me up, and hustled me around to the front of the chamber. And pushed me through.

Pain. Blood. Tile.

And again.

After the fourth pass, I stayed standing.

Perfected.
01/22 Direct Link
“READ IT BACK, please.”

“From the...?”

“Just that last part.”

“‘— It’s like trying to remember a dream, with not quite memories, or distinct situations, but moods. Senses of what might have happened, some aspect of it. A recollection of movement-through, movement-toward. A sense that there were no others where there should be others; that perhaps they would come... later. Time is a strange part of this. My sense of later is... I think that’s how I’m trying to make sense of it now: introducing this notion of later. There was no later. Being that wolf was... a pleasure.’”
01/23 Direct Link
KIRK: All right, Mr. Snyder, let’s have it. How did you get aboard this ship?

ME: Captain, please believe me, I don’t know. One minute I was sitting at home on the couch, writing on my laptop, and the next I was on the Enterprise!

SPOCK: He may be telling the truth, Captain. We picked up a strong energy reading of sofa on his trouser material.

ME: There, you see, Captain?

KIRK: That still doesn’t explain your purpose here! I must know whether I can trust you.

[Console beeps]

SCOTT [V.O.] Captain Kirk!

KIRK: Go ahead, Scotty, Kirk here.

SCOTT: It’s the Klingons, sair! We’re under attack!
01/24 Direct Link
“WHAT’S IT LIKE?”

“If I’m not expecting it, then it can sting. But once I expect it, it feels like... being pelted with dandelions. Like a little kid hitting you with a dandelion.”

“Knives?”

“They don’t hurt.”

“They don’t get through?”

“No.”

“Fire?”

“I don’t like the smoke. I can do without that. But fire itself? It’s never bothered me.”

“Does anything hurt you?”

“Pettiness. Dishonesty. Sometimes I get lonely. The usual stuff.”

“What’s the biggest hit you ever took?”

“Biggest hit... physically?”

“Sure.”

“Galrog the Beast, 1997. He punched me through time.”

“How far?”

“Nine days sideways.”

“Jeez.”

“Yeah.”
01/25 Direct Link
“DO YOU NEED to eat?”

“I kind of do? You know? I like to eat. I’m a very good cook.”

“Do you need to breathe?”

“I do and I don’t. It’s situation-dependent. I’m breathing now.”

“How fast can you fly?”

“I feel like I’ve answered this a million times. No offense, but I’ll pass.”

“I’m sorry. My editor wanted to know.”

“Gonna pass.”

“Cool. I can look that up... So, you say you like to cook. What do you enjoy cooking?”

“Lately it’s Tanzimât era Ottoman cuisine: kavun dolmasi, lakerda, all that.”

“Uh...”

“In December it was all Italian.”
01/26 Direct Link
“WHAT DID YOU put down for number four?”

“I described the curve of an n-dimensional tautology in non-Euclidian four-space, such that one terminal of an observable object X manifests in a bounded series of discrete eigenvalues.”

“What?”

“Why, what did you get?”

“I put down (x+2)(x-2).”

“Oh."

“What are you talking about, though? Eigen-whats?”

“Nothing. Nothing. Forget it.”

“Are you kidding?”

“I shouldn’t have said anything. I got, um, what you got. That parabola.”

“Parabola?”

“Jesus Christ. Forget it, forget it.”

“What about number seven?”

“A kitty cat.”

“I guessed 3y-2.”
01/27 Direct Link
“OKAY, EVERYONE! Listen up. Hey!”

“We want answers!”

“Listen up! I’m trying to give you answers!”

“Start talkin’!”

— “Shut up! He’s trying to tell us!”

“This is what he said: First: No, we’re not getting a typewriter.”

“This is bullshit! Bullshit!”

— “Shut up!”

“Second: Yoga is back on the table.”

[General discontent.]

“Third: We are not going to IKEA tomorrow because there’s too much work to do.”

“Oh come on! Fuck it. No, no. I am not hearing this!”

[General anger.]

— “What if we hustle? We can do it, right?”

“He said no. IKEA’s out. He said maybe ice cream.”
01/28 Direct Link
WHEN I WAS little, we had a family tradition I remember fondly. It was just us guys: me; my big brother, Liam; our dad; and Dad’s brother, Keith. We’d camp for a week every year right at the beginning of summer at Sugar Hill State Forest in Upstate New York.

There were three things about that vacation I looked forward to all year long: helping drive the tent stakes, roasting hot dogs and marshmallows, and slipping on that orange life preserver to go out in the canoe.

Something about the smell of that life preserver just said summer to me.
01/29 Direct Link
“GALROG, I appreciate your taking the time to talk with me.”

“You will broil, you and your world!”

“Okay. I wonder, do you mind that I’m taping this? It’s for the quotes, for accuracy.”

“Go ahead.”

“What’s a typical day like for you in the Zone?”

“Galrog plots revenge. I have infinite time and space in here, so I plot escape, vengeance, and dominion over you and your kind. I will show you no mercy.”

“Do you get visitors, or mail, or...”

“Nothing. Catalogs.”

“Any regrets? Have you reflected on...”

“I like the IKEA one, but not the Rejuvenation Lighting.”
01/30 Direct Link
“OKAY. This?”

“Pick it up.”

“Yeah?”

“Please.”

“It’s nice. It’s a nice box.”

“Don’t open it.”

“Okay.”

“You like the lacquer? The inlay?”

“Yeah. Sure. Good craftsmanship. It’s pretty.”

“I suppose you’re thinking this would make a lovely gift.”

“I guess so.”

“It’s not to be a gift! This is for you and you alone.”

“Oh.”

“Inside this box is the answer to the question that has always pulled at you, torn at you, kept you from knowing true peace. Inside this box is the radiant truth, and the way forward.”

“Whoa. How much?”

“I... The owner is on break.”
01/31 Direct Link
“I’VE GOT a magic trick for you.”

“Okay.”

“Okay, great. First, pick a number from zero to a trillion.”

“Uh.”

“Got it?”

“Yes.”

“Hold it in your mind. Really concentrate.”

“Okay.”

“See it?”

“Yes.”

“Inhabit it. Be that number. Feel its value, its shape, its weight. Know the numbers on either side of it. Tell them you live there now. You are that number. Illuminate it from within. Own it.”

“Wow. This is intense.”

“Okay. Now, think of what it is you really love to do.”

“What?”

“The thing you do that makes you happy, whole, and complete. Got it?”