I find these things, they pluck the moorings of my heart like guitar strings, breaking something loose to walk hungry and alone through my body:

The stars wanted to be near you. Because they missed you and your comet's tail. They made themselves tiny, rode all the way down to Earth on the backs of moths that had made it to the moon. They hid themselves in a sugar bowl. One morning you ate them on your cornflakes without knowing. Now, when you spill into me, you fill me full of fallen stars.

I wanted to be more myself. I did not know I was a needful creature without skin. Terminal acceleration in a crooked, ol' world.

I was slated to be the world's only poisonous mammal, but it's God's Most Ridiculous Creature who stands before you instead.

I found a list of names belonging to my son's animal personalities. Each animal had a seperate language. Different words for everything. I had started to transcribe the language, the words and translations. But when I asked him how the animals said goodbye, he told me none of his animals knew how to say goodbye. I didn't write down the rest.

My son, shrugging his shoulders into the yoke of a heart so much like his mother's. A deformity. Born with the heart outside the body. A cleft heart. Or maybe one with an extra chamber. A five-chambered heart, pushing the blood through this extra room, filled with light and sound. Where everything that you love and everything that ever hurt you break bread together. Where the meat is carved form the bone. And the piece you eat depends on your rank.

You know the sound it makes when The Devil rings up a sale.

You know a dream is a wish your heart makes.

You know what goes around comes around.

But do you know the story of The Snow Queen? How the demons made a mirror to amuse themselves? Given a rose it reflected only thorns. The demons, they decided to take the mirror up to Heaven. They did not even make it to the gate before the mirror burst. The glass came down, fine as dust, and some stuck in the eyes of a child.

That's the way real Fairytales begin.

"You gave your life for mine, when life is not worth living without you."

I will be thirty-three in 13 months.

I'm like the moon.

Recently I have read about so-called programmer abuse -- the practice of grinding developers with inhuman work hours and impossible deadlines. I'm not sure how many of these folks have children, but if they really want to be under the gun, they should announce to their kids that they are writing a game for them.

That's what I did. I started a text adventure game for my two older boys, aged 10 and 12. Now I am paying the price.

"Hey guys," I said. "Look at this."

I was a few levels in to it. From a programming standpoint, it's not even remotely elegant. Written in C, it consists of several functions, switch() statements and a score keeper. I've put some randomness in there so they can't just memorize the choices and blow through it. Mind you, the boys -- A students, athletic, musically talented, artistic -- are tenacious when presented with a new game. Terriers shaking a rat, winter-starved grizzlies after an elk. Why I didn't realize this before I openned my big mouth is beyond me.

"Where's the graphics?"

The reason I began the project, besides the fact that I thought it would be fun, is I wanted the boys to realize computer games can be more than purely visual overload, that a world can be entered that is similar to, but more interactive than, a book. Anything I can do that will involve them with more reading, I'll do. I briefly explained the idea behind text adventure games.

Silence.

I expected them to politely back away -- "Oh, that's, uh, pretty cool, Dad, really." -- and go back to what they were doing, rolling their eyes on the way. However, after a few moments they leaned closer to the screen. "Can we play it?"

"It's not quite finished yet."

Then they started in on me.

"Why not?"

"You ever see those guys spinning plates on tall sticks?"

"Yeah."

"That's kinda what making this is like."

"But you do this stuff all the time. It shouldn't be a big deal."

"Well..."

"Let's play what you've got."

I pressed Ctrl-F10 to run it. The story is set in a haunted castle with many passages, bloodthirsty monsters at every turn and a healthy serving of skeletons, ghosts and large rats. The idea is to rescue a child monk who bears a remarkable resemblence to my four-year-old son.

"Cool. Which thing should I choose?"

"It's up to you," I said. "It's your game." Unfortunately, he chose an option which dropped him 40 feet in to a spike-filled pit where his body was feasted upon by rats and maggots.

"Holy crap, Dad. That is so neat. Can we do it again?"

I ran the game once more. This time they went carefully, treading down a dark hallway to a dimly lit outline of a door until they tripped on a skeleton and the candle they were holding blew out. Their next move ended the game.

"Oh, man! That's it?"

"I told you it wasn't finished. Besides, you've got other options to choose from."

"OK. Let's play it again."

We did this a few more times. Sometimes they purposely picked gruesome deaths. Other times they got to the end of the game. Some parts were longer than others.

"How long until you're finished with it?"

"I don't know, really."

"What? How about this weekend? Can you have it finished by Friday?" This happened a few Wednesdays ago.

"I doubt it."

"Why?"

"Because there are some more things I want to do with it."

"Will there be weapons?"

"Maybe."

"There's no kissing in it, right? Kissing ruins it."

"No kissing. I promise."

"Can I take it over to Jared's house?"

"When it's ready, sure."

"But that'll be this weekend, right?"

"I don't know. I'll try."

"Try? You can do it, Dad. I know you can."

"I'll do my best."

"I'd like a machine gun. Can you put a machine gun in there somewhere?"

"You're in an old, haunted castle. No guns."

"Flaming arrows?"

"Sure."

"How about the next next weekend. That'll give you a whole week to work on it."

I checked my watch. "Whoa, look at the time. Time to brush teeth and get to bed." Groans and grumblings followed as they marched to the bathroom while I saved and closed everything.

I kissed them and tucked them in. The oldest one said, "What are you going to do now?"

I was tired. My eyes burned, and a yawning fit had recently pummelled me. I really just wanted to flop in to bed with a book and doze off after a few paragraphs. "I'm not sure. I might putter around a little bit."

"Are you going to work on the game?"

"Yes."

"Can I see it tomorrow?"

Cue the internal sigh. "Of course."

I turned out the light and closed the door. Back at the PC, tapping the keys like a lullaby, I added some hints from an apparition of the child monk to help get through a door before a monster eats them alive.

The next night they asked to see what I'd done, played it a few times and left me with a "we can't wait until it's done." Since then, I haven't been able to work on it as much as I've wanted, but that doesn't prevent them from requesting daily project status reports. When I tell them there has been little, if any, progress, they say low and dejectedly, "Oh, OK. That's fine."

Ouch.

I'm sure paid programmers have to deal with plenty of stress and pressure, but I don't know how many of them have to deal with guilt brought on by disappointed children. The text adventure is a fun little experiment, and I'm glad I started. The response and expectation are beyond what I could have imagined. I recommend it to all parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters. Reading, writing, coding, games -- what's not to love?!

One of these nights I'm going to have to stay up with a huge mug of coffee and a plate of oatmeal cookies and finish that thing. The boys will be stoked.

So yesterday, while on a quest to a few CD shops, looking for some Secret Chiefs 3 to add to my ever-growing stacks of "bug out" music... I finally decide I have read enough glowing mentions and reviews of The Residents' music, and pick up a copy of Our Tired, Our Poor, Our Huddled Masses to finally hear for myself what the eyeball-heads are all about.....


Digressions:

I've jumped all over in this time since the rampant CD shopping, between this and various other CDs I'd picked up, trying to get at least a taste of everything....the EP, Irony is a Dead Scene, by the Dillinger Escape Plan while they were apparently between lead singers, they had Mike Patton (Mr. Bungle/Faith No More/Fantomas) fill in...this includes a cover of an Aphex Twin song I'm familiar with, Come to Daddy. So appropriate that the only menacing-sounding Aphex Twin song I could name off the top of my head, with its "I will eat your soul" lyrics, would be sung by a man who can inject at least some menace into any kind of style he takes a stab at....pretty entertaining.

There's another Patton collaboration among these new acquisitions, Romances, with a John Kaada, whose work I am unfamiliar with. But some of us will buy without hesitation just about anything he's involved in, out of curiosity at least....The aforementioned Secret Chiefs 3's Second Grand Constitution and Bylaws and Book of Horizons...haven't settled on which of the two is the better just yet. This is the mock Middle Eastern/Indian styled ex-Bungle side project, few songs with vocals. Patton is not involved whatsoever. Also a lot of fun though.


But I digress. I meant to speak of the Reisdents and their glory which I have now only begun to discover. I instinctively chose to pop in the second disc (containing their earlier works, starting with ten tracks from The Commercial Album) of the collection first, and from the first note/chord, I was hooked. It just sounds so alien....I was reminded of a song I had heard once on a college station at some point, lyrics escaping me outright but the strange voice, similar to the one I was hearing from my car stereo, rang clear as day in the back of my mind somewhere.... sure enough, as I listened to the rest of the album, I found it... Blue Rosebuds. A pleasant surprise in that.

Listening to the rest of this double-disc throughout the hours to follow, I found the rest of it as pleasing, and after subjecting a friend to a listening through of that second disc again, and following this with the Secret Chiefs 3, I came to realize how the Residents had opened the doors (or pushed them open further than those before them) for some of the music which has amused me so much....


And that is all.

So, the other day I'm at work and an associate cuts her toe on some kind of twisted metal chair. I go off to ask if anyone has a band-aid for it and a woman I work with looks at me and announces, "I have a foot fetish, but I'm not sucking on anyone's bloody toe." I have no idea why anyone would ever say this in response to a request for a band-aid. I suppose life is odd that way. Consider the absurdity:

"Does anyone have a band-aid? Alice cut her toe on the chair and she's bleeding."

"I have a foot fetish, but I'm not sucking on anyone's bloody toe."

At what point does this response become in any way reasonable? No one is requesting any kind of toe sucking in this scenario. No one is discussing fetishes or any kind of general weirdness. There is simply a need to bandage a bleeding extremity. I just don't get it.

If you want to go completely insane, I recommend being in love with two women at the same time. If that doesn't work, move to where you are within an hour or so of another woman you are in love with but with whom you've achieved a sort of emotional dormancy with. You'll go crazy off the rails. So, for those of you who want to go crazy, I recommend this path.

I am at the 7-11 at six o'clock in the morning the other day and there is this man standing in front of the building yelling at a truckload of fellers who are getting gas. He's yelling, "I'll kick your ass, you skinny ass motherfuckers." The men he is yelling at are a group of beefy, heavily bearded and very overweight white men who seem confused by his verbal barrage. He keeps telling them they are "skinny ass motherfuckers" and these guys have giant beer guts from hell. I just don't get it. I go inside and a well-dressed, well-groomed man is standing at the hot dog rolling pin machine asking the clerk about his recommendations in regards to the various weiners and sausages available. He seems to think he is in a five star restaurant because his questions are too much for the 7-11 at 6am. "What are the special ingredients in this particular offering... Have you ever tried it and would you recommend it to a friend?" The insanity is everywhere, isn't it?

I'm due for another comical write-up since I've been very dour and overcome with psychotic prophesies and love poetry, but right now my back hurts. I slept on it funny, and about two weeks ago I feel asleep and pulled my desk and computer down on top of me. I may have suffered a head injury, but mostly I twisted my leg and my back and knee still hurt. Video of me pulling my desk down on top of me would be very comical and could be used in a "How Not to Be an Idiot" video or DVD.

I've kissed some of the most beautiful women on this planet. I think my lips worked during these kisses because they seemed to like it. I don't know though. Have you ever wondered how you figured out how to kiss? I once heard that girls practice kissing on stuffed animals. For some reason this excites me and makes me want to rent videos on the subject. Kissing rocks.

Is there anyone in the Central Florida area who would like a free dresser with vanity mirror? It is almost an antique, needs some refinishing, but is otherwise in very good shape. You just need a truck or something to transport it in. I need to get rid of this sucker within the next two weeks. Claim it and it is yours.

Shut up and take off your clothes. Enough talk already, girl. Can't we just make love instead?

I'm insatiable and I have an ego the size of Montana. If I could correct these defects, I'd be a pretty decent dude. Then again, that could just be my ego talking.

I'm Sensible
A haiku by Berhardt Goates

I'm sensible because I practice safe sex. Whenever I meet a woman who seems like a good prospect, I always ask her right off the bat what kind of fees are applicable if I were to take her to my place or go to hers and wear less clothes than we were wearing at the place where we met originally. When I am at home I will go into a private room and draw the blinds and take care of my business. I am concerned about stray globs of something private landing in someone's salad or amongst their accoutrements. I'm sensible.

I'm sensible because I look out for young children. The other day I noticed a woman in the grocery store who had a young child with her. The child ran up to her and she said, "Where have you been, young man? I'm very mad at you. Stay here where I can see you." This made me very angry and concerned about the level of madness present in her bloodstream, which provides blood from the heart to other parts of the body. I decided to follow them to their car and take steps to prevent madness from getting more intense in her brain. I crawled over to their car on my knees, opened the door to the back seat and put a rubber mouse on the back seat of the car while they loaded groceries into the trunk. I also put a rubber Ronald Reagan mask with no head inside next to the mouse. I hope they had a nice ride home. I'm sensible.

I'm sensible because I can play chess. I'm sensible because I limit my opponents to older people who no longer have their wits about them in any way, shape or form. This guarantees I can outwit them. If we go out for a beer I drive, in case you are concerned about the witless people getting behind the wheel. I will jack up anyone I see driving a car who has no wits or is otherwise defined by what is known as witlessness. I do this because? I'm sensible.

I'm sensible because I have class. I have been to classes at the grammar school level, middle school level, high school level and as it says on many job applications, "some college." I have class because I wear a tie to work and act professionally. I have two Ronald Reagan rubber masks with styrofoam mannequin heads inside them. These heads are mounted on what are ostensibly known as stacks of Japanese rocks with water coming out on the top and splashing on the rocks below. I'm sensible.

I'm sensible because I'm not ashamed to be bald. I shine my head with Lemon Pledge, which is a brand name product I am not ashamed to endorse here in a public forum as an excellent bald head care product. It gives it a sheen. I show off my head to people and I will tip my head down so the ladies can get a gander before I ask them what fees would be applicable if they went back to my place or I went back to theirs and we wore less clothes than we did in the place where we met. I'm sensible.

I'm sensible because I avoid eating two desserts, even in Rhode Island where I go on business sometimes. There is no reason for that extra slice of cake when you already have a spare tire spinning around your waistline. Let's watch our figures. Let's be sensible. I'm sensible.

I'm sensible because I pour vodka all over my grapefruit before I eat it in the morning. Foolish people pour milk all over their grapefruit because of the rampant and inexplicable fear of alcohol abuse. I'll chug half a bottle of vodka down after I eat my grapefruit and give the finger to The Man because I know I am very good at sales because I have worked for the same company for six years and I'm still in the same office. I'm sensible.

I'm sensible because when I didn't finish all the chicken on my plate and a man who was related to me through marriage told me my eyes were bigger than my stomach. I protested. I have seen medical books and I know that in all cases, human beings have stomachs that are larger than their eyes. I will not let lies be spread. I'm sensible.

I'm sensible because I don't pick my nose when I am on a date until she goes to the powder room (she usually never comes back so everything is cool at that point). I'm sensible because I like to keep my record albums in the order in which they were officially released (you can find the release date information on the internet if you don't have it on the record sleeve anywhere). I'm sensible because I don't kick frogs, no matter how tempted I am whenever I go to the pet store and accidently knock over the frog tank. I'm sensible because I don't think I need to eat a taco because I'm not Mexican. I'm sensible because I water my garden when it is raining, which causes the water to be more even distributed. I'm sensible because when I see someone with offensive body odor, I determine the best way to kill them, write it down on a slip of paper and give it to my boss. I'm sensible.

Get on board. Be sensible. Don't be a knucklehead nitwit.

In preparation for the Valentine's Day, I've made a sign to carry around - ingredients: pizza box, a stick, nails. <nodevertisement type="blatant">While I was at it, I've noded the soon-to-be event over there - if you want to know what good is a sign on the upcoming Monday, it's right there.</nodevertisement> Originally, I wanted to node it at Live Nude Lesbians to attract noder attention - but alas, the temperature here (around 0 °C/30 °F) rather precludes any sort of nudity and furthermore the number of lesbians participating is rather uncertain. Since I'm already procrastinating (I should be studying for a Wednesday history exam), I'm racking my brains and the outer reaches of e2 nodeshells for a suitable massage to give upon the sign - it's a bit difficult, given the size of the pizza box sign (30×30 cm, about 1 sq.ft.). It is yet to see what comes of the utterly pointless event, as Al Capone said (I wonder whether that had any correlation with the day and his emotional (im)balance?).

Darren cannot stand it any longer! He knows what they're here for, he knows what they want, it's just that nobody will believe him. Nobody. They say he's crazy, they say he needs medicine. But they just want them to think that.

Darren creeps into the kitchen, the floorboards of the old house creaking under every step. When his bare feet touch the linoleum floor it feels cool, almost cold; a shiver starting from his heels works up past his ankles and onto the rest of his body. But he shakes for a different reason; he shakes out of anger. He clenches his fists as he looks upon the kitchen table.

There they are. They sit there in the glass fruit bowl laughing at him, mocking him. They're not fruit at all. They don't belong there. They're vegetables. They're carrots. But they are there, in the glass bowl, in all their glory, defying the very rules of What Goes Where in the Kitchen. And beyond that, they're not even vegetables, really.

As Darren thinks about it, his fists clench tighter. His fingernails begin to dig into the soft flesh of his palms. The pain is sharp, but he barely notices it.

"I'm ONTO YOU!" Darren yells at them. "I KNOW WHAT YOU'RE UP TO!" Then he takes in a few deep breaths, squeals them out his nose like a car tire that's just been slashed. "You're not going to get away with it! You carrots think you've got everybody fooled! But I'm onto you! I'm watching you! You never get old, you never get limp, grow mold. It's cuz you're not really carrots! I know your plans! I'll be watching you!"

Darren, still fuming, storms out of the kitchen, and then bounds up the stairs to his bedroom to masturbate.


Carrot#1: "The jig is up."
Carrot#2: "Damn!"


If that little daylog fiction just confused you, I have a suggestion: take a brand new bottle of Listerine and pour some onto your buttocks. Sure, it might burn, but.............well, that's pretty much all it might do.

Anyway, thanks for all the memories. No, I'm not going anywhere, I just like to say that. I should probably stop typing now, this daylog is long over. But yet, here it is, another sentence. Why do I keep typing? I should quit while I'm ahead. I should just pick a subject and hit that button and post it. Well, shit, here I am, adding another completely pointless sentence to this daylog. I must be bored. Actually I'm killing some time. I should just erase the last ten sentences or so. Actually, nevermind, screw it.

I was happy to find a copy of this Feb/Jan's issue of The Atlantic today since, Idunno, I guess my subscription's run out or they got lost on the way out here or something.

An article titled "Lost in the Meritocracy" (http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200501/kirn), which was extremely entertaining to read, kinda struck home a little bit. Obviously not the parts about being the best at stuff, or having such undiminishing but feckless ambition, or the familiarity with high society.

But, Idunno, with my mediocre high school transcript and complete lack of extracurricular activities, I've always suspected that my SAT score was solely what got me into college.

Likewise, I've always felt somewhat the fraud among my friends, the educated ones, the ones who know what they're talking about when they open their mouths, the ones who are going places and doing things.

"Learning at every level to make it, barely, to the next one," and "a talent for nothing, but a knack for everything" seem to describe me perfectly.

These are the things I fear: that I will never be exceptional at anything, that I will never learn the real substance of any field, that I am forever condemned to being merely facile, that I simply lack the capacity for any kind of real education or skill.

Because I have always been better at testing than at doing whatever the test was supposed to be testing for. Because I have always had this weird, deceptive capacity to give people the impression that I'm a lot smarter and more capable, a lot more reliable and more responsible than I actually am. This is kinda cool, and really not very cool at all at the same time.

So what's a ghost like me to do? Do I keep beating my head against the wall of education, keep trying against my history to retain some semblance of knowledge, to buy into that ancient artifice, just to earn the respect of myself and others?

I knew I'd be thinking about this (going back to school) again, and this is exactly why, if some of you will recall, I threw the proverbial hat over the wall. But it seems perhaps that the hat is entirely replaceable.

I sense that a higher education is going to be a lot of work, though, that I'm not and never was prepared for. My mind is a sieve, even when it comes to stuff I care about, and especially when it comes to stuff I only artificially care about, like formal education.

Jake quotes (in The Best Letter I've Ever Received In Recent Memory) Tolkien: "Not all who wander are lost." This rings true, strikes me as profound and inspirational, but not true of me. I wander because I am lost. And I doubt a college degree will change that.

It occurs to me that wisdom is a nobler pursuit than knowledge. That's what I want: wisdom.

Text, as much as I purport to love it (though, frankly, I doubt I love it nearly as much as those who really love it love it) contains no wisdom, or if it does, I don't know how to glean it from pages.

Maybe this means I should seek education, to learn to fill the holes in my mind, the sieve, so I can truly learn, or at least truly learn how to learn.

Anyway, it seems to me tha the tried and true path to wisdom is simply to live life, with eyes and mind and heart open. And I think I might manage to live and to educate myself at the same time. Because perhaps it would be an even nobler endeavor to seek both knowledge and wisdom, and if the two don't always coincide, perhaps they at least reside nearby to each other.

Anyway, plenty of time left to think about that. And besides, I've got $30k in GI Bill money to waste, er, spend.

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