08/01 Direct Link

— Due to a reporting error, “disgruntled” in this sentence should read “Hamas.”

— It is a problem of inherent constitutional temperament, not childhood emotional trauma, which prevents this author from striving to meet his life goals.

— Due to a reporting error, the previous sentence should have read, “It is a problem of childhood emotional trauma, not inherent constitutional temperament, which prevents this author from striving to meet his life goals.”

— The most precipitation on average at Hudson River Islands State Park occurs in July, not “Daddy, come home!” as we erroneously reported.

— The header for this section should read, “Corrections.” We regret the errror.
08/02 Direct Link
BUT SUPPOSE you keep a set of teaspoons in your kitchen armoire; what then? The first benefit that accrues, of course, is that you needn’t bother with the resin epoxy tablespoon modifications discussed earlier, and instead can dip, scoop, lift, and “lip” your kingly vittles as the manufacturer intended.

The second benefit that accrues to you and your family — and to mealtime guests, if with these you may find yourself occasionally afflicted — is one of resonance with the American ideal, and here I wish to evoke a kind of Theodore Roosevelt/Bull Moose/Pickett's Charge sort of calumny. And so we dive in, dear reader, with manifest destiny to…

Chapter 108: And God Said Sip
08/03 Direct Link

“HOW MANY have gone through?”

— “What you’re asking is how many have survived, and I can tell you we’re proud of our 94 percent survival rate. And those survivors report 100 percent satisfaction after only 24 hours’ recovery. Here are our testimonials.”


— “Cause of death tends toward cardiogenic shock, but we introduce a prophylactic protein buffer that survives filtration. And yes, within the field you will experience helpful discomfort, and on egress you will completely evacuate. We will keep you overnight for tests and observation. After that you’re your best, copyedited self.”

“Or dead.”

— “Read the testimonials.”
08/04 Direct Link
“NINE O’CLOCK, Herbert.”

-- “Yeah? So?”

“So lights out!”

-- “Look, I don't know who you are or what you think this is…”

“It’s nine o’clock! And that means lights out! That’s all you need to know."

-- “Bullshit. On whose say so? I’ll accept that it’s nine o’clock and that my name is Herbert, but that's as far as I’ll spot you. I have no fucking idea in all of blue blazes — oh, and a light may be on somewhere. I'll abide by that — but I have no idea who we are or what this story’s about. So up yours!”

“Gee. Touchy…”
08/05 Direct Link
“HOW? HOW CAN you do it? It’s impossible. You're in hard vacuum. You’re in deep space.”

— “I just can. It’s there.”

“It’s not there. By definition: no air. There’s nothing. One hydrogen atom per cubic, uh…”

— “Look, I understand your confusion—"

“I’m not confused!”

— “But I tap into something when I’m out there. I have to concentrate, I admit. It can get away from me. I respect it as an ability and I know what would happen to me the second I lose it.”

“There’s no air pressure! No way for, for…”

— “I have a crappy sense of direction, if that helps.”
08/06 Direct Link
(Quarter point each)

1. IMAGINE you stand way up on a platform or a tree. Write a three-page essay about baseball.

2. JACK AND SALLY enjoy conversation. What could they be doing instead, and why? Two pages.

3. A BUSHEL OF Malbec Argente Negret de la Canourgue grapes sells for a certain price. Should this not be so? Yes or no. Show your work.

4. A FRESH STICK of Fruit Stripe gum tastes as delicious as a certain pedestrian recalls from youth. What color was the truck? What is that color’s opposite on the color wheel? Why are certain screams additive? Subtractive? Complementary?
08/07 Direct Link
“I IMAGINE a pensive man. Um... Sitting. He’s sitting on a couch, writing. Typing on his laptop. A Macintosh. Not typing, just reading what he’s written. He’s scowling. Not scowling, but just wearing his usual writing expression.”

— “OK. “

“How do people do this?”

— “It’ll come.”

“‘Pensive.’ What does that mean, right? I mean, I should show, not just lean on an adjective.”

— “You’re doing great.”

“Are they even called Macintoshes anymore? It’s a MacBook Pro. Do I say Apple?”

— “What’s he writing about?”

“Usual shit. Some dialogue.”

— “This is for 100 Words?”


— “Those are good pieces.”


— “No, really.”
08/08 Direct Link
“WHAT IF I were to tell you that, owing to the warp and weft of the cosmos, you are everybody, everywhere, simultaneously?”

— “Is that what you’re likely to tell me?”

“I am. Consider me to have said just that.”

— “Then you are too: everybody.”


— “Which means that you’re me.”


— “Does this take into account space aliens?”

“It does. Well done.”

— “I’m space aliens.”

“You are.”

— “And they’re me.”

“They are.”

— “Dogs? Cats?”

“Yes. All part of the grand Being.”

— “Amoebae? Viruses?”

“In their fashion.”

— “A paramecium dividing at an ocean vent on Pollux IV: that’s me?”

“Hello, cilia!”
08/09 Direct Link
RECORDER: The cover is beautiful. What was it like working with book designer Chip Kidd? He did Haruki Murakami's 1Q84 and David Sedaris’s When You Are Engulfed in Flames, among so many other now-classics.

SNYDER: I am a huge fan of Chip Kidd. Are you calling my book a soon-to-be-classic? [Laughs.] I hope so.

RECORDER: [Laughs.] From everything I’ve read.

SNYDER: Chip Kidd is the most brilliant designer working, and when you get the memo saying he’s attached, it’s like, Now it’s real. Now you’ve got a book. Now you’re an author. They are totally committing to this.

RECORDER: Well deserved.
08/10 Direct Link
— “THREE! Two! One! Happy New Year!”

“Happy New Year, George.”

— “C’mere.”

“You’re sweet.”

— “And so are you.”

“...And happy February.”

— “You too. The… eighteenth.”

“I missed St. Valentine’s Day!”

— “Every day with you is St. Valentine’s Day.”

“You make it seem so. And now my snowdrops, forsythia, magnolia…”

— “Clear that, please.”

“Speaking of special occasions…”

— “Yes?”

“It’s one week to go.”

— “Already?”

“You’re teasing!”

— “I am.”

“George, my love, will you decelerate with me?”

— “Yes. It will be my honor. The words I’ve waited all my life to hear. And will you, please, decelerate with me?”

“Yes, passionately.”

— “Our next adventure.”
08/11 Direct Link
“IT’S LIKE trying to lift a…”

— “Yes?”

“No. I won’t do it. No metaphor.”

— “Metaphor is perfectly well suited to this.”


— “You limit yourself needlessly. Just describe it: your arm. Heavy. Hard to raise.”

“What’s wrong with that? ‘Arm, heavy, hard to raise’?”

— “It’s not compelling.”

“I don’t care about being compelling.”

— “Bullshit.”

“Not in that way, I mean. I care about—“

— “I know what you care about, and that's fine You’ve got that down. I’m saying try this.”


— “Or better: planting an acorn. Go.”

“An acorn?”

— “Soft earth, loamy scent, rustling leaves: the works.”

“But why that?”
08/12 Direct Link
“WHAT AM I looking at?”

— “Here. This shadow.”

“That’s it?”

— “Yup. That’s your depression.”

“It’s so small.”

— “Well…”

“I mean…”

— “It’s typical in where it’s attached. This is where all your… well, it’s a node dedicated to recursive identity management. You’ve heard of dopamine, serotonin, all that?”


— “You understand how it works?”

“It’s just so small. Look! It moved!”

— “It’s aware of us. Or, rather, of feeling threatened.”

“Can you take it out?”

— “It’s not particularly given to biopsy. At this point it’s… here, see?”

“What’s that? Oh. Oh, my God.”

— “It’s wired in everywhere. It’s you, really, in a sense."
08/13 Direct Link
WHEN I GOT my award from 100 Words, and the newspaper and cable guys called, and Vanity Fair put me up, and everybody congratulated me, I have to say I was flattered. There are so many more deserving writers here, or who have been here over the years; and to single me out, it just feels odd. But as I said, I’m flattered. You can’t win an award like this and not have it feel like, Hell, yes!

So I was shocked when I saw my Rolling Stone interview. Please do not read it. They took everything out of context.
08/14 Direct Link
FIRST THING, I’m not a chemist and I had no way of bringing back samples, so it was oxygen and something else. It stung. I spoke in a raspy buzz and my eyes watered constantly. I’m sure I did not impress anyone. Now, I “hear” some of you wondering whether there’s any of their air available in my blood or bone and what might be gas-chromatographed out, and I’m sorry to say that it’s irrelevant: you’re not getting anywhere near my blood or bone. I have donated my boots. Actually I would like those back at some point. Like, today, Lew.
08/15 Direct Link
NEXT, obviously, yes, they are intelligent and they do use tools and they’re quite well adapted to their surroundings and their natural resources and to the idea of strangers from another world. They were not idiots about it. There was one rude youngster who raised a tentacle to my pant leg, made a kind of exaggerated raspberry-like sound, as if my scent was repugnant, which in all likelihood it was, and somebody gave hir a sort of admonishing swat on the behind. Then I eased in with the elders in their hot spring and we chatted. Pretty cordial folks.
08/16 Direct Link
“LAST THING I want to say today is I am glad to be home; it was a long trip and I look forward to a little R&R in the tropics, someplace where… Well, I just need a little down time. So while I’m away I’d like to reassure you all that my trusty mechanical helpers here — say hello, Blue Leader… Don’t be shy...”

*Hello! Shyness shall not prevail! Stand down, shyness! Arming!*

“Hey! What did we say, Blue Leader?”

*We said. Crap. Stand shyly. Arming.*

“No, that’s… Hey, folks, please don’t panic. There’s no need to panic. I’m right here.”
08/17 Direct Link
"MAKE ME a coconut with radish. You know the kind?"

— "Tell me how to make it."

"You scoop a lime and feed it to the reptiles. Napkin, salt, hocus-pocus, and you’ve got a morsel."

— "That makes no sense."

"I know. I’m sorry. Bus fumes. Long day."

— "What kind of bus?"

"A Frankenberry."

— "Uh huh."

"With milk raisins."

— "I have to answer the phone. Excuse me."

"I am a telephone. Ring! Ring! Bbbbbrring!"

+ "I can I help you."

"I was waiting for the young lady."

+ "She’s busy. What do you need?"

“Make a rum cordial?"

+ “I don't do that. Just radish coconuts."
08/18 Direct Link
“ONE FOOT in front of the other. We’ll make it. Get to the mountains. Find shelter.”

— “Sure, Dutch! That’s a plan. That’s a real fine plan! I’m with you all the way!”

“Get there. Find a cave. Make a lean-to. Find water. Dig. Find the plants.”

— “Absolutely, Dutch! Boy, those plants will lead us to water. Dig a little and lap it up. Cool and refreshing. Sure could use it after what we’ve been through! Boy oh boy, what an adventure.”

“The heat.”

— “A real scorcher, eh Dutchie? Sure is beating down on us. Well, take the bad with the good.”

08/19 Direct Link
“Skip Shimple. Stinky Stoolfry. Hurk Lurgler.”

— “They’re good.”


— “I’ve got some.”

“Let’s hear!”

— “Mr. … Tim… Well.”


— “Yes.”

“Cool, cool.”

— “Doctor… Medical… Group.”


— “And, um, Bill… Bowl.”

“Bill Bowl?”

— “You like that one?”


— “OK, you’re up.”

“Gary Sphrusse; Leominster Puddingbum; King Boris Salmonél de Lettuccio; Sudden Uncle Jezebel; Bob Mangle (Mangle Motors); Rudy ‘Rudimentary’ Proofpaste; Eager P. Dangletoe; President James Ulysses Carter IX; and the Mournful Reanimation of Charles-François du Périer Dumouriez, Lost in Yet Another Wal-Mart.”

— “Wow.”

“What was that awesome one you said?”

— “I said a few of them.”

“Yeah! Wow. Ha!”

— “Thanks.”

08/20 Direct Link
TIMPKINS: You remember Stack Flinkeryflaunkenler.

CUTLER: [Laughs.] What?

TIMPKINS: Professor Stack Flinkeryflaunkenler. He’s here to confirm our findings.

FLINKERYFLAUNKENLER: Well, confirm; invalidate. It all depends.

CUTLER: “Stack Flinkeryflaunkenler”?

FLINKERYFLAUNKENLER: At your service. Hello, Daniel. Good to see you again. Dear God, it’s been ages. You’re looking well! How’s Lillian? How’s Jeremy? Likely a varsity hurler by now, eh?

CUTLER: And now you’re British.

FLINKERYFLAUNKENLER: Quite so! Born with the malady, they tell me. Now about these dratted findings of yours.

CUTLER: When I knew you you went by “Durango Pete.”

FLINKERYFLAUNKENLER: Oi! Yew leave Durango Pete outta this! Stick t’yer wee findin’s!

CUTLER: I’m out of here.
08/21 Direct Link
"Hi! You must be Professor Pittman!"

— "By God, yes. How did you know?"

"We’ve been expecting you! Welcome to our realm."

— "This is incredible!"

"Thank you! We’re delighted to meet you. I’m Maitre; this is Axal and they are Dag, Pike, Whalebone, Macey, and Tong."

— "Hello. I’m pleased to meet you all."

"I apologize for the weather. It stays like this."

— "Does it?"

"Yes. We’re accustomed to the heat. We just suck it up."

— "I’m very curious about that."

"Visitors usually are. I regret you won’t have time for much of a study."

— "Oh?"

"Won’t you step this way?"
08/22 Direct Link

— “Yep.”

“What is that?”

— “Hydrocarbons, soot, tar, scorch marks.”

“Where did this happen?”

— “I need to lie down, man. I just need a day asleep.”

“Well… You can’t get that on our sheets. I mean, it’s cool with me, but Kelly…”

— “The yard’s fine. I just need to crash.”


— “Am I not welcome, Scott? Is that what you’re telling me?”

“Dude, stay here any time. I’m just thinking the yard isn’t going to work for you. Timmy has friends over, and they’re gonna hassle you, and…”

— “Fuck it. I’ll be in the Andes.”

08/23 Direct Link
“I WOULD HAVE let your brother stay here! Oh my God! Now he hates me!”

— “He doesn’t hate you.”

“Why would you tell him I didn’t want him to get our sheets dirty? Of course he can get them dirty. He can set them on fire! He can do whatever he wants to, whatever he needs to! Here or anywhere! Especially here!”

— “Kelly, fire…”

“I mean, they’re only sheets! He’s saved the Earth a million times!”

— “He hasn’t saved it a million times.”

“Two thousand, one thousand! Even if it’s once! Even if he never had, Scott! He’s your brother!”
08/24 Direct Link
“HAVEN’T SEEN HIM in a while.”

— “Nope.”

“He’s got his robot on patrol.”

— “Guess he’s away.”

“I don’t like it. The robot, I mean. Gives me the creeps.”

— “I wish I could send a robot in to do my job.”

“There’s an idea: Let’s all be robots. March along with no accountability.”

— “The robot’s accountable.”

“Yes, but not to the people. Not to you and me. We can reason with him; we can’t reason with it.”

— “But it answers to him. Ergo…”

“How much freedom are you willing to trade for security?”

— “Jesus Christ, Bill.”

“I’m sorry.”

— “Save it for your column.”
08/25 Direct Link

— “No?”

“They need you. We need you.”

— “I can’t keep doing this.”

“Oh, Honey.”

— “I’m sorry, I can’t. I’m losing touch. When I started out it was street-level shit. Muggings, banks, nutjobs. You do what you have to do and you get to have a life. But now… It’s monsters and empires and madness on a cosmic scale.”

— “You have a part in that. You make a difference.”

“I do make a difference, but I haven’t slept in in who knows how long, haven’t played with the dog… Which dog is this?”

— “Pedro.”

“What happened to Solly?”

— “I’m so sorry.”
08/26 Direct Link







“Ah,” he said. .dias eh “,hA”

“What of the punctuation
“?noitautcnup eht fo tahW
And the other asymmetric
cirtemmysa rehto eht dnA
characters?” “?sretcarahc

!tniop dooG Good point!
deksa uoy dalg m’I
I’m glad you asked

:That tnatropmi question:

Simply speaking, a-
symmetric characters
constitute pairbound,
bivariate trend paths:
you have but to lick one
face to moisten the other.
Do you see?
This works.

08/27 Direct Link
TELL ME ABOUT your writing process.

For these pieces?

Sure. Or in general.

Well… I’ll stick with these pieces.


I have to be in a certain mood.


And I wrestle with that, because a professional should not have to wait for inspiration, or a mood, or other, like externalities. Or internalities. He should just show up and work.


But you asked about my process, so I’ll spare us the speech.


I almost — well, I have to be sitting comfortably.


I almost always imagine an archer first. The nock, the draw, the release. Only then.

08/28 Direct Link

— “I’m inclined to agree.”

“We should get out of here.”

— “And go where? At least here there’s, like, the boarding house. And people are feeding us.”

“We cannot interfere. We just can’t. Plus we’re probably gonna get cholera or something. Lead poisoning. This was a mistake.”

— “You have your tablets?”

“I don’t trust these goddamned tablets. This whole operation is nuts.”

— “They got us here.”

“But why? What’s the point? There was no briefing. Did you get a briefing?”

— “No.”

“There was no briefing. Plunk: we’re here. Plunk: a bag arrives. Plunk—”

— “Look! It’s Franklin!”
08/29 Direct Link

— "What?"

“'Icy aquifers on Titan transform methane rainfall.'”

— "Who’s saying that?"

"Astronomy magazine. French study, Cassini data… NASA and ESA…"

— "Aquifers transform rainfall?"

“'A recent study led by Olivier Mousis from the University of Franche-Comté in France examined how Titan’s methane rainfall would interact with icy materials within underground reservoirs. They found that the formation of materials called clathrates changes the chemical composition of the rainfall runoff that charges these hydrocarbon ‘aquifers.’ This process leads to the formation of reservoirs of propane and ethane that may feed into some rivers and lakes.'”

— "No."


— "I see why they’re saying that, but no. Not in my experience."
08/30 Direct Link

— "I am! It’s nice. It’s snug."

"I don’t want to tell you what it looks like."

— "What?"

"No, nothing. It’s just… I’m going to miss you."

— "How are you going to miss me? I’ll be back a fraction of a second after I leave. The tube won’t even flicker."

"But you’ll be older."

— "So will you."

"Not like you. And what if something goes wrong?"

— "Oh, Rita."

"I’m sorry."

— "I’ll be fine. I will... Hey."

"I’m sorry."

— "I’d give you a hug if I could."

"You’ll be fine. You will. I know."

+ "Time to go, Lieutenant."
08/31 Direct Link
GLENN: “No flying for you today?”

JOHN: “Nope. Gonna enjoy the fair.”

GLENN: “That’s cool. You gonna hit any rides?”

JOHN: “Not sure.”

GLENN: “Wanna go in on tickets?”

JOHN: “Go ahead and get yours. I’ll see how I feel.”

TIMOTHY: “You afraid of the rides, Uncle John?”

LINDA: “Timothy!”

JOHN: “It’s OK. No, Tim, I’m not afraid of the rides; I just think I might enjoy keeping my feet on the ground for a few hours. It feels nice.”

TIMOTHY: “You won’t even go up in the Ferris wheel? That you don’t have to fly anywhere.”

JOHN: “Tim, if you ride the Ferris wheel I’ll go along with you.”