Friday, March 31, 2006

Taste Tests

Head On A Platter v. Head On A Stick

Revenge Served Cold v. Revenge Microwaved 30 Seconds

Guinness v. Motor Oil

My Dust v. My Shorts

Cotton Candy v. Candy Coated Cotton

Chicken v. Exotic Animals That Taste Like Chicken

Friday, March 24, 2006

Accident Prone pt 1 - Reprinted from The Black Warrior Review

This is Bill’s indigestible life. He chews, and chews, and swallows, and he never feels full. He chokes down mornings at his computer. He gnaws tirelessly on empty handfuls of hours. He swallows another day in his cube. It passes painfully through his system, the sharp corners poking at his insides until it exits looking just as it did before he ate it, and ready for him to dine on tomorrow. This is Bill’s liver flavored life, his asparagus flavored depression.


Bill leaves the building because the clock says it’s okay. But the clock is fickle, and Bill knows that by tomorrow it will call him back. His work is not finished, but this is not particularly important. His work is never finished. No one is waiting for his work, but everyone is upset when Bill is not working. Bill leaves the building and steps into the leftovers of the day.

Bill checks his watch as he leaves the parking lot. His program starts soon. He can miss it, but this complicates things. His life is more digestible when it’s broken into tiny bites, organized into known quantities. Bill keeps things very orderly, in the hopes that when everything around him is in its place, he’ll find his own. Bill lives in a file cabinet. Just keep chewing, he tells himself. Chew and chew, and then swallow. Bill is thinking this, concentrating on how he will digest the next few hours of his life when he pulls into the intersection. His light is red. The semi’s light is green. Everything goes black.


Bill does not wake up for several days. Nearly a week passes through his system before Bill can open his eyes. When his lids part a nurse is looking down on him.

You’re a lucky man, Bill, she says with a smile. Her teeth are whiter than Bill remembers teeth ever being before. Bill is powered by her grin. The moment tastes like chocolate.

Chocolate, Bill says, discovering the sound of his own voice to be a song he could never grow tired of.

Not today, hon. I’ll bring you something sweet tomorrow.

She smiles again and Bill dines on every tooth, her peppermint canines, her wintergreen molars.


When Bill is released his senses are overwhelmed. The day is a banana split so beautiful it makes him cry. His house embraces him with colors he does not remember, smells that force him to smile, and a taste he hopes never to forget. He checks the address to be sure. 1088 Waverwood. This is Bill’s house, his file cabinet, right where it’s always been, just like he’s always left it, but he feels certain this is the first time he’s ever been here. He is not just home, but glad to be so.


Bill wakes to fresh squeezed sunshine. He makes himself some toast, two slices, light butter, his morning meal for the last twenty years. The first bite knocks him out of his chair.

This toast is fucking amazing! says Bill to the empty room. Bill does not curse. He has never cursed. Even when the office paper shredder tried to take part of his finger, Bill did not curse. Fucking amazing, he repeats because it happens to be true. He takes another bite and begins to sob with joy. His tears drip down into his OJ and he eats his toast and drinks his juice, a healthy dose of vitamin C and salty drops of his uncontrollable pleasure.

Monday is a brownie sundae. Tuesday is fine wine. Wednesday is a hearty filet. Since leaving the hospital each day is selected from his new menu, and every item is five star. The limp spinach hours of processing reports, the bland noodle nights at home, these are memories, dishes served to characters in history books. Now work is a loaded baked potato, melting with butter, overflowing with sour cream. Nights are good steaks, each cut more succulent than the last. Every moment is a feast for the senses. His palette, once dulled and gray, is now aware, is now happy, is now so totally alive.


Bill gorges on his life for six months, feeling full and contented, healthy and well fed. His unceasing grin confuses his co-workers, stumps his neighbors. His life looks exactly the same. No one can see how amazing it tastes.

He’s come back too fast, they say as Bill bounces around behind his smile.

Something’s not right, they decide, noticing Bill’s giddy glee while laboring over the very tasks that used to make him numb.

Why don’t you take a vacation, someone finally suggests. You don’t seem like yourself.

No need, says Bill with a genuine smile, then reaches up and dishes himself another helping of reports.


Bill’s job centers around reports. He processes reports, he files reports, and occasionally he writes reports about the reports that he processes and the reports that he files. This last part of his job was always the most loathsome, the dish he could never stomach, the meal so foul he could not keep it down. But when Mr. Phillips stops by, Bill is not disturbed. And when he requests the annual report on the reports, Bill isn’t apprehensive in the least. His diet is fresh, he reminds himself, his tastes have changed. This, like everything else since the accident, will be a task to savor, a treat to die for.

No problem, sir. I’ll get on it right away.

Bill brings his work home and lays it out on the table like dinner. He opens a folder and happily digs in. It’s only moments later that Bill begins to sense something unpleasant, something forgotten but familiar. He takes a break and drinks some water, hoping the sensation will pass before he presses on.

But as he works his way through the reports the feeling gains strength and clarity, a bile flavored dread creeping up from his stomach. By the time he’s exhausted himself for the evening his mouth is pasty and dry while his stomach rolls and churns like a dryer with shoes in it.

I must be coming down with something, Bill tells himself as he heads to bed. I’ll be better in the morning.


Morning comes in neutral colors. It’s as flavorless as water.

Must be stopped up, thinks Bill as he waits on his toast. He spreads his butter, he pours his OJ and he takes a seat, pushing the reports aside so he can enjoy his new favorite meal. He takes a bite and prepares for what has become his daily taste of delight. He chews, and chews, and swallows, but feels nothing more than the wad of crumpled toast drifting south to his stomach. He takes another bite, then stares at the bread as he swallows. He waits, questioning his tongue, demanding a report.

This is not fucking amazing toast. This toast just tastes like toast, Bill says with fear in his voice.

He rushes to the bathroom and takes two of every medicine he can find.

Bill medicates himself for two days despite being healthy as a horse. His nose is clear, his head is free, his eyes are shiny, and his ears are not clogged. But something is terribly wrong and Bill wants desperately to believe he is ill. He wants his problem to be a bug, an infection, a sickness he can cure, and cure quickly, because it’s been two days and his toast still tastes like toast, and his morning is like mud in his mouth.

Bill’s back, he hears his co-workers whisper as he stares blankly at his computer. Their smiles return just as Bill’s goes missing.

He swallows mouthfuls of air, rubs them on his taste buds hoping for something, anything, sugary nitrogen, malty oxygen, the spice of carbon dioxide. Nothing. The air is just air and somehow he knows the pills will never change this.

Bill, says Mr. Phillips suddenly standing in the opening of Bill’s cube. How’s the report on the reports coming?

Fine, sir, Bill says unconvincingly. I think I’ve been sick.

Okay then. Well, let’s get that report on my desk. We’ll need to get it processed, and then we’ll need to get it filed.

Yes, sir.

Bill looks at the work before him, but can’t bring himself to take another bite. He gets up and shuffles toward the breakroom, all evidence of spring gone from his step.

Good to have you back, says a neighbor as he ambles past her cube.

Bill pulls a soda from the machine and pops the top with a prayer. He pours the liquid and feels it dribble through his insides, rushing past the sharp corners of his morning. The soda is just soda, not special or exciting, and Bill is sure that it’s gone. Whatever it was, wherever it came from, the flavor that made his life briefly edible has been cooked away. What’s left is tough and dry, and Bill shudders at the idea of ingesting another piece.

He thinks longingly back to the accident, the moment he woke up to a new life, to the intense colors and unprecedented flavors, and the days so delicious he hungered for them in his sleep. He stares at the soda machine and gets a crazy idea. It’s so crazy he shakes his head and waves his hand to bat it away like a bug. He heads for the door, leaving the idea behind when he remembers what’s waiting at his desk. Reports to process, reports to file, reports to write. He knows this will be an eggplant afternoon. The idea catches him again and seems more reasonable in the face of his alternatives.

It’s worth a try, Bill says, and he walks to the giant soda machine and tips it over on himself. The metal creaks as it goes, but Bill never hears the crash. Everything is black.


The chocolate nurse with peppermint teeth returns and Bill grins even as he notices his body covered in casts.

How are you feeling, sugar?

Bill is aware there is pain in his limbs, but as he squints into her brilliantly white teeth, he realizes it does not bother him. Much better, he says. I think I’m going to be fine.

Accident Prone pt 2

Bill is better than fine. He’s amazing. His toast is not toast, but sliced and buttered ecstasy. His co-workers fret, but his smile will not fade. He powers through the reports and writes reports about powering through. Mr. Phillips answers his production by giving him more to do, but Bill eats it all and then asks for seconds, thirds. The copier jams, the printer breaks, the company will no longer provide free bagels. His co-workers choke, but Bill swallows these everyday atrocities with the greatest of ease. Every second is prepared by God himself, and every day leaves Bill licking his lips for more.

Until a Friday five months later when Bill is chewing on a jammed fax machine. As he battles with the beige little box his life suddenly goes flat as old bubble gum. He can chew and chew, but it’s only exercise. The flavor’s all drained out.

He frets for a moment that it’s gone, but he knows how to get it back, and at the very least, there is comfort in knowing. He gnaws through the rest of the day, then sets out to rescue himself again.

For three tasteless nights he works in his front yard and his back. Death is simply a condiment, Bill says as he cuts a sheet of plywood in half. Smeared over one’s life it can make any day and any task not only palatable, but amazing. Bill’s joy is living on borrowed time, stealing days and then sucking them dry. It’s like gambling with the casino’s money, he thinks while taking a careful measurement. Days that are given, that aren’t earned, that are free to every Tom, Dick, and Harry, these days are worthless. They get scattered, get lost, fall behind the bookcase and end up not being worth going after. Bill can suffer these days no longer.

He looks at the ramp in his front yard and the ramp in his back yard and he imagines how tomorrow will taste. Knowing the ingredient that’s gone missing from his life, Bill plans to grab himself a sizeable quantity in the hopes it will last a while, if not forever. He considers the setup and tries to decide if it will do the trick. It looks dangerous to be sure, but Bill wants this to be the last time such measures are called for, so he ups the ante and loosens all the bolts on the landing ramp before retiring to bed.

The next evening, with chunks of an awful day still poking at his insides, Bill heads for home. But instead of calmly pulling into his driveway and heading in to catch his program, Bill stands on the gas and aims for the ramp.

Neighbors pause as they gather their mail and wonder what Bill could be up to.

Where you headed Bill, says Mrs. Johnson as Bill careens toward the end of the ramp.

Backyard, he says as he whizzes by.

The car whumps! against the launch ramp and then suddenly he’s airborne. Cotton candy air begins to scream through the windows and Bill drinks it in with abandon as the car drifts over the roof and toward the backyard. He realizes now how afraid he is, how much he does not want to die, and how alive that makes him feel. The car’s metal creaks a complaint about the sky, and groans with desire to rejoin the ground. It tips ever forward as the landing ramp rushes toward the windshield. Bill gulps down one more sugary breath and hopes it will not be his last. The rubber squeaks. The ramp collapses. Darkness descends.


Sugar, you’re getting to be a regular around here. And that’s not a good thing.

Bill stares into her impossibly blue eyes. The moment is so juicy he can feel it run down his chin.


Sadly, the flavor doesn’t last forever. In fact, Bill has barely gotten his latest casts removed when a mere flat tire takes all Bill’s favorite colors and turns them gray. His toast? Cardboard. Bill’s hopes for a permanent solution are dashed. The first accident tided him over for nearly half a year. His latest stunt proves tasty for barely two months. Bigger is not better, Bill sadly proclaims. Any old disaster will do. When he gets to work, he hurls himself down the stairs.


For a while every fall earns him a month or so of scrumptious days. Then he’s running out by the end of every week and spending Saturdays in the emergency room getting a meal ticket for the next. Then suddenly he can’t make it past Wednesday, and he’s spending almost as much time in the hospital as out.

His co-workers say he’s accident prone. They take away his scissors and bolt down his chair. They insist he avoid the stairs and use the elevator at all times, though no one dares to ride with him. Mr. Phillips doesn’t care. Whatever Bill does, he keeps coming to work with a grin, and chowing down on reports like a starving animal. Bill produces with such vigor the company awards him an Atlantic cruise to say thanks. His co-workers stare at him with disdain, unable to suffer his smile.

Eventually the office is sealed up tight, the sharp corners on everything covered over in thick foam padding. Bill can bounce from office to office like a bumper car in a rubber room and never do himself the slightest harm.

So when he’s out on his lunch break and discovers his soup no longer tastes different than his spoon, he shoots over to the zoo and hops into the lion’s den. When he recovers he feels so fantastic he goes back. But when he falls in the tiger pit, the shark tank, and the snake house all in the same week, the keepers get suspicious. Bill is banned from the zoo.

He crashes his cars, he chews his power lines, and between brushes with death feels invincibly alive. He’s dropped by all but one insurance carrier who calls to say they’re raising his rates yet again.

You realize we have no choice. You’re heading to the hospital several times a week. Frankly, your premium’s going to skyrocket.

Bill’s bruised and battered face breaks into a smile. That’s the price of fine dining.

He savors the crumbs of every day and dreams of taking bullets in his sleep. He sees himself dancing among landmines, and falling from the sky, and then he wakes up and cries as he eats his criminally fantastic toast.

Bill’s life is a heavenly buffet sprinkled with bites of searing pain and recurring lapses into darkness.


And after the darkness, she’s always there, the chocolate nurse to welcome him back to the world of taste and color, health and well-being. But this time she’s not alone. Another person, her eyes sweet and kiwi green, is looking into his bed reflecting his own broken jaw smile.

Sugar, I told you you couldn’t keep going on like this.

The other woman leans in. How do you feel, Bill?


Are you aware you’ve made hundreds of visits to the hospital in the last six months?

Yes, he smiles.

Are you trying to kill yourself?

Of course not. I’m elated to be alive.

How do you explain all the accidents?

Just throwing myself slightly painful life preservers.

It sounds like you might be depressed.

Not anymore.

There are other ways to deal with depression. Have you tried watching TV?

I’m fine. This is healthy. It’s natural. Death and danger are part of life. I just wasn’t getting my share. I’m eating a balanced diet now, and I feel great.

You’ve nearly died on numerous occasions.

I’ve broken every bone in my body in order to appreciate the incredible taste of my toast, and I’d gladly do it again.

That’s an awfully extreme view. Life isn’t sustainable at the extremes, Bill. It’s like the globe, you have to live somewhere in the middle.

Her kiwi eyes turn to the chocolate nurse and she nods. The nurse raises a syringe and adds its contents to Bill’s IV.

I warned you, sugar. Her teeth are still glowing white, but her eyes seem filled with sadness.

Blackness swallows him.


Bill’s scissors are returned. His chair is unbolted. He’s encouraged now to make full use of the stairs. Bill is no longer a danger to himself. He’d need to care to be dangerous, and Bill’s medication prevents him from caring in the least. Taste is not important. Color is a useless luxury. As long as Bill swallows his pill each day he can eat dirt and razor blades without mustering the energy to even dream of chocolate and steak. Bill is cured. His co-workers are glad to have him back. His insurance company is pleased to see he’s come around.

Only Mr. Phillips misses the old Bill, who despite his mental issues, displayed unparalleled zest for reports. Bill’s medicated production has declined drastically, and though it seems wrong, Mr. Phillips can’t think of a workable reason to prevent the new Bill from taking the cruise the old Bill so richly deserved. He does the only thing he can and demands Bill write, process, and file a report on the adventure.

No problem, Bill says without looking up from his desk.


Somewhere in Utah a delivery man decides he’s tired of Spam flavored days spent delivering packages and drives his truck full of wares down to Mexico and starts an all-percussion band. None of them can afford drums, so they start to play the boxes that will never reach their destinations.

Bill is in the middle of laying out his clothes for the cruise when he realizes his box of medication has failed to arrive. I’ll probably run out, he thinks, but I guess it’s not important. Bill’s now an expert at not caring one way or the other.


The ship made of plastic sails a sea of tofu waves. Bill wanders from deck to deck, consuming meals and shows and games of shuffleboard and pinochle, and he manages to do it all without caring in the least. He chews on the scenery, the water and the sky, without so much as a thought about its taste. He retires to his room, which could just as easily be a broom closet, Bill wouldn’t be able to tell.

Just as Bill begins another Styrofoam day at sea, he discovers he’s run out of pills. Oh well, he says. I guess that’s the end of that.

But as the day moves west, a haze begins to lift, and by the time the sun has faded, Bill’s memory is clear. He looks around him like he’s just remembered he has eyes. There’s color under dust, hidden flavor for those who dare to taste. He looks longingly at a heavy lifeboat that seems to be hanging by a thread, offering to crush him with pleasure. His mouth begins to water as he spots a plate glass window ready to splinter into deadly shards. He’s hungry for the moment, starved for lost time, and takes a step in the window’s direction when a painful realization stops him dead in his tracks.

The chocolate nurse is no longer his friend, and on the other side of darkness his menu will never change. He feels completely hollow. His life cannot be eaten and the only hope he’s offered is to chemically not care. She’ll only start the pills again, Bill thinks, and probably up his dose. He turns his back on the window and moves away from the dangling boat.

Defeated, he wanders to the top of the ship and stares into a darkened ocean he longs to taste. He watches the ship cut the water far beneath him and from the classroom in his mind, an idea raises its hand. Maybe I just won’t go back, he says with a hopeful breath.

He judges the distance below him. A solid seventy feet. A long trip, a few tasty seconds at the least. He steps closer to the rail and looks around to confirm he’s alone. He considers the bargain as he raises himself up, one last feast or a lifetime of flavorless gum. It takes less than a second to decide, and he’s hurtling through a candied breeze and into the delicious darkness below.


He expects the blackness, but not for it to move. His limbs flail in delirious confusion, pushing at the darkness all around, until his head breaks the surface and he finds himself floating on an ocean of fudge. Pillow mint stars start to twinkle in the sky and he looks left to see the boat pressing on, hundreds of whipped cream waves cresting in its wake.

This ocean is fucking amazing, he screams and he sucks it in with every pore. He floats on the fudge and smiles to the sky until the boat is just a sprinkle on the horizon. It’s quiet, and Bill’s alone, as alive as he can remember being. There’s a delectable heaviness in his arms, a tasty burn in Bill’s lungs. Minutes pass in ecstasy until Bill starts to gain weight from the feast. His head dips under the fudge in ever lengthening doses before resurfacing to drink in the night. Somewhere in his mind he knows he’s getting heavier, but it all tastes too good to stop. He melts into the fudge again and considers staying below. His heart cries out for one more slice of sky.

He breaks the surface once again and swallows all that he can see. His body is extremely heavy. Bill is getting full. Then suddenly, on the horizon, he thinks he sees an island. An island with snakes and spiders, cliffs and lava, and if he’s lucky a helping of natives with spears. It’s ten miles away. Twenty at most. Right over there. Wait. No. Over there. It seems to keep moving, jumping left then right. He can’t be sure.

It’s okay, Bill says with confident glee. I’ll find it.

He takes one last nibble of the world above the fudge, and then lowers himself beneath its chocolaty surface. With an indelible grin, he pulls his weary arms through the dark, and begins the swim for shore.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

People You Like Which Makes It Hard For MeTo Have A Relationship With You

Nancy Grace

Russell Crowe

The Simpson Sisters

Your Ex-Boyfriend

Your Mother

Dr. Phil

Tyra Banks


Monday, March 20, 2006

Young Professionals Seeking 'Parental' Arrangement With Promising Youth

Have you ever wished for a different set of parents? A better bred, more successful, and wealthier set of parents? Well, this may be the opportunity you've been looking for.

My wife and I are in our early forties and at dinner the other evening it occurred to us that we'd forgotten to have children. Now, certainly it's not too late, but in discussing the matter further we felt that there were just too many down sides to doing things the 'traditional' way. Crying, for one, is something that neither of us can really tolerate. Also, we're big fans of being able to control and manage your own bowel functions. And those pictures of kids with food smeared all over their faces that everyone thinks are cute, well, that simply wouldn't play at the places we eat.

So we've decided to adopt. My wife is a busy physician and I've just made partner at my law firm, so we don't have a lot of time to sit around coddling a youngster, going to school plays, baseball games, etc. In fact, we've pretty much ruled out anyone who's pre-teen (though if you happen to be a child prodigy in something or maybe Dakota Fanning then you're welcome to at least send a resume). The teen years seem formative and a good place to start, but they're also a time of significant rebellion and we really aren't looking to take anyone on just so they can start hating us and throwing parties that piss off the co-op. We have a house staff for that.

What we're really after is a high school graduate, or possibly a university freshman. My wife is quite insistent that you'd need to be headed to Harvard or Yale. I think that's elitist and am willing to open it up to any of the Ivy League schools. NO STANFORD.

In addition, we'd have to insist that you be getting a useful degree from one of these universities. Unless you can convince us that you're going to make it your life's ambition to teach at the very school you attend then we'll have to say no all English and most -ology degree seekers (unless that's biology and you're willing to take it to med school). In short, we really see ourselves as the parents of another doctor, lawyer, or businessperson, though, again, we're flexible when it comes to prodigies.

Appearance is also a key concern. My wife and I are very attractive and we think our offspring should be too. We're looking for a head turner with perfect teeth, straight hair, nice eyes, and a well toned build. Obviously, you should have complete control of your diet and not be struggling to hold yourself at a presentable weight before you inevitably balloon to your actual size (see Britney Spears). We're not fans of anorexia, but if you meet all the other qualifications, we can discuss it.

Should you meet all the requirements and actually be chosen to join our family, we would have to insist that you not only change your name (your whole name, not just the last name. My wife is really hoping to have an Anna Beth. I like Tessa. Boys we haven't sorted out.) but also cease all contact with your former family. Otherwise, the whole thing would just be weird. Going forward, you'd need to refer to my wife as 'Mother' and me as 'Father' (actually, I know it's cliché and my wife hates the idea, but I would LOVE it if you called me 'Pop'). Also, we don't necessarily plan to tell anyone that you're adopted. You might think our friends would find it suspicious that we were suddenly joined by a child nearing twenty, but with proper boarding schools and nannies most people we know don't really see their kids until around that age. We're pretty sure a few of them have gone this route themselves.

What you'll get is a pair of loving and cultured parents who are willing to dedicate themselves to seeing you become a proper and envied member of society who will carry on the family name without crying or making a mess. Our pool of resources, both financial and otherwise, is vast, and to the lucky applicant will likely be quite a boon. So if you're a young, attractive, brilliant, ambitious, Ivy League student with no interest in useless degrees (English) then please send a photo (full body, we don't want any surprises) and resume. We hope to send the stork (our Gulfstream 14 passenger jet) to bring our child home for Christmas. Will you be the hit of our tastefully decadent soiree? There's only one way to find out. Apply today.

Your new (better) Mother and Father (Pop) await.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Editor's Note - Reprints

[ed. note - a very small number of people have asked for copies of some previous publications that were not also made avaliable online. While I always suggest supporting the journals that lack the good judgement to avoid my materials they are often only easily avaliable to a regional audience and, not having read a lot of literary journals, many of us are reluctant to seek them out. So over the next however long I'll make avaliable some of the few pieces that were not or are no longer avaliable online as well as in print, likely reassuring most of you that not buying literary journals has not deprived you of anything worthwhile.]

Missing - Reprinted From One Last Carcrash

Only during my fourth or fifth shower of the day do I really become alarmed. Only then do I realize I've in fact lost my mind.

Early on, when I was never worried about the location of my mind, when I was confident it would always be in the last place I left it, I didn't take so many showers. Usually just to get clean, maybe one a day. If I didn't smell, maybe I'd skip.

But ever since I noticed my brain was missing I've been returning to the shower like the scene of a crime, the last place I remember seeing a good friend before he disappeared. It's my fourth or fifth shower today, and I'm confident it's really gone. It's my fourth or fifth shower of the day. Without my brain I can't be sure.

When I had my brain I often used it to think. Sometimes without even trying even. When I had my brain I could think inside, or out, awake or asleep, shaken or stirred. I would think about Mars. I would think about blue. I could think about almost anything you could think of. But more and more frequently I would go seeking my mind and discover he was not at home. More and more the only place I could be assured I would find him was in the shower. Something about being naked and wet. Something about overpaying for the apartment but getting my revenge by using tons of piping hot free water. Even as we saw less and less of each other around, I could always find my mind in the shower, right between the shampoo and the soap. Then it would be like always, the water falling on my back like applause as we were reunited. Now it's just rain that pounds on an empty doghouse with this hollow sound that makes you question the quality of the materials from which the house is constructed. The dog is gone. The dog is dead. We remember him. In general, what he looked like, how he had a particular dog smile, how he chewed the leg of the table, but no one is exactly sure when he died. He just very quietly slipped away until we looked and he was gone. It was spring we think. Probably a weekday.

I dry myself off and wonder what it will be like without my brain. Though I cannot think, I still seem to remember things, to know things. I know useless things and important things. I know Curt Shilling's ERA. I know my high school locker combination. I know light is somehow both particles and waves. I know what fatuous means. I will have no new thoughts. I must content myself with the things I already know, sift through the file cabinet of someone who's died, keep wandering the same party with a smile, though no one new ever shows up.

Suddenly I'm afraid. How will I get along? How long will I be able to survive without my old friend? I go to work terrified. I walk the streets in a panic. Everyone can see the for rent sign behind my eyes. I will be overwhelmed. I will be abused. I will be lost.

But my fears turn out to be largely exaggerated. My mind is hardly missed. What I know is sufficient to do my job, and it occurs to me no one there was ever very interested in what I thought anyway. People ask questions. Hot one, eh? How about that game? Doesn't this coffee taste like shit? I simply answer yes and this seems to satisfy them. At some point someone asks, have you lost your mind? Yes I say, but he just laughs and pats me on the back. At parties I take all the things I remember and put them in new clothes and always they pass for original thoughts. Labels prove helpful. They prevent me from drinking bleach, and putting glue in my eyes, and mixing my darks and lights. Signs are lifesavers as well, reminding which streets are one way, where not to enter, which beer makes me sexiest and which toothpaste will save the world.

When I used to think, I would write things down. I'd be so busy thinking, my mind so productive, I'd have to move thoughts to paper to clear some space. Now I can only write lists. Lists of things I used to think about. Things I wish I could consider. Things I already know. Sometimes I type the lists after I've written them. This makes them seem more important, more like thoughts. Sometimes I take a bunch of typed lists and make a stack. Some stacks go in files. All files go in a cabinet. The cabinet gets full and sometimes when I look at it in the afternoon, when the light is a bottle of scotch spilled on everything, the cabinet reminds me of my old brain. If my brain were here, we'd agree the cabinet is really empty.

Occasionally I wander the empty cave where my brain used to be and I try to remember what my last thought might have been about. Some days I remember it being about tow trucks. Others it seems it was about flight attendants. It makes me sad that I don't know, like not remembering someone's last words.

There are some side effects. Movies tend to confuse me. I often repeat myself. And for some reason now everything tastes like bacon. It takes a little getting used to. My first bacon banana is a real eye opener. I no longer order bacon and eggs, as it seems redundant. Just eggs. Scrambled.

Mostly, my life hardly changes at all. If I'm tired or bored or lonely, there's sleep or radio or television. In time I almost forget to remember that things were ever any different. In time, the missing posters fade, loosen from the telephone poles, and blow away. The milk expires, the cartons find themselves entombed in landfills, and the little picture of my mind along with the pleas for information about it's whereabouts slowly degrade into the Earth. Eventually I shower only once a day again, and just to get clean. If I don't smell, sometimes I skip.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Tax Tips

1. If You Ate It, It's deductible - A lot of people miss this. Income is what you make after expenses. Some people will tell you that you can only expense food and meals that you consume in your capacity as a businessperson. But logic dictates that if you only ate when you were working then you'd starve and die. Your dinner out with friends, the beer and dog at the game, the 3am extra large supreme pizza that you binge and purge because you're fat and no one loves you, these are the meals that sustain you and make it possible for you to go to work in the first place. Without them you wouldn't have the strength to get that phone to your ear and put that person on hold while you contemplate how long you could lie dead in your cubicle before someone discovered your body. In short, food is what makes you the important asset to the workforce that you are. A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips, but all of it comes off your taxes.

2. Receipts? Who Keeps Receipts? - Only losers and pack-rats keep receipts. The rest of us dispose of them immediately in the hopes that they'll be recycled or returned to the Earth. Some people see this love of nature as presenting a problem come tax time. How do you know how much to deduct for all the food you ate and cars you gave to charity? The answer is to 'guesstimate'. This is an estimation that's also a guess. The IRS frowns on guesses and estimations and prefers exactness. So when you guess, try to avoid round numbers. Real numbers are not usually round and the IRS has computers to watch out for them. Try sharp and unruly numbers like sevens and especially thirteens which are haunted and will usually scare the computers away. Also, use those decimal places. Anyone who can remember what they spent down to the decimal place can't possibly be lying.

3. A Lot Of People Depend On You - What would happen if you didn't come in to work tomorrow? Probably nothing. But eventually you'd have to be replaced, either by a machine or some sort of trained mammal, possibly a German Shepard or a monkey. And what about the crazy guy on the corner who calls you Jim and offers to sell you his left foot everyday? He'd be forced to find a new Jim and flip him off. All these people (or animals) depend on you. And as dependents, they qualify you for some quality deductions. While there may be any number of people who are dependent on you, claiming more than eight often raises eyebrows. Also, if you forgot to claim them last year, start with a small number, one or two. And try to give them trendy names, like Caden and Briana that lend credibility to the idea that they just joined you in the last year. And never mention that any of your dependents might be monkeys. The IRS has a thing about monkeys.

4. Appropriate - It hardly seems fair that you do all the work generating the tax dollars and don't get a say in how it's spent. So make use of the memo section on your check to give suggestions as to how you'd like your tax dollars spent, such as: Not for use on statues or Alaskan bridges, or Please put this in the crater sized pothole on I-10. This is also a good place to have a little fun. Remember, in addition to computers that are afraid of the number thirteen, your return is being read by people in cubicles who probably think about suicide as often as you. So fun notes like: Don't spend it all in one place, or Buy yourself something nice, can really brighten someone's day.

5. Audit Starts With A - And so does Arson. And in the inevitable event that you're audited you'll want to remember that relationship. Burning down you home and all your 'records' is your best defense against any sort of investigation, be it the IRS or some other agency. Always take precautions to get pets and dependents out of the house as they will come in handy on future tax returns. As for your food, let it burn. You can rebuy it all and deduct it later along with whatever you spent on the gasoline or other combustibles you used in your audit defense.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Report Card Comments From The Straight Talking Coach Regarding Your Son Chuck's Football Prospects

Mr. and Mrs. Garman,

Honestly, I don't think Charles is a football player (he says that you guys prefer people call him Chuck, but he likes Charles and in this case I think he's onto something). He's explained to me how adamant you both were about getting him into football, and I can appreciate your enthusiasm. Charles has indeed tried very hard, but I don't think this is his game.

I've tried putting him in any number of positions. We noticed he had a tendency to run on his tip toes, almost prancing if you will, so we tried him at wide receiver. However, he tended to bat the ball away from him rather than drawing it in like we'd want a receiver to do. When the ball did hit him in the chest it tended to take him down and sideline him for a good ten minutes.

As a blocker he tends to confuse the word 'hit' with the word 'slap' which might have worked in Rosie Grier's day, but today it's not only illegal, Charles is far from being the next Rosie. Far.

As a running back he is indeed good at eluding defenders, but he tends to run backwards in order to avoid them. Since the object is to advance the ball, this sort of defeats the purpose. When defenders do get close he often throws the ball at them in a last ditch effort to stop their charge. Again, effective, but counterproductive.

As a quarterback, he routinely engaged the huddle in lengthy and meandering discussion, often about the attitudes of boys playing defense or the way his teammates were failing to wear their uniforms properly. I'm told that he used the word 'tacky' often in these discussions.

When I've asked Charles why specifically he came out for our sport, he said that mom and dad wanted me to 'turn him into a football player'. When I asked if there was anything he personally liked about the game he said that he did enjoy the 'pageantry' but that he felt the school's colors were 'hideous'.

So this is what I have to say to you as parents. Honestly, I can teach anyone to play football, but years of experience have taught me that I can not 'make' them a football player. Charles is a great kid with lots of energy and ideas. After he was injured by a pass that hit him in the hands we made him a manager for a week and things in the locker room have never run more smoothly. He also rearranged our coaching office and I can't tell you how much easier my job has been now that I can actually find the things I need.

I've been told that I could be sued for suggesting other athletic activities like ballet, figure skating, aerobics, or possibly even tennis, that I think might be more appropriate for Charles. So I won't suggest any of those things. What I will suggest is that you have a long conversation with the boy, and yourselves, and think about just how hard to you want to try to make Charles into Chuck. In my opinion, Charles is a crap football player, but a hell of a kid. I have no idea how Chuck would turn out.


Friday, March 10, 2006

Please Stop Using My Name

Dear Sir,

I wanted to write you to ask that you please stop using my name on your site. My name is the same as your name and I am also a writer. But I don't really like your stories or the way you talk about things. You do not make things sound pretty or nice which is what I do. I think you might be a little mean. Anyway, when people search for my name they find your name, which is my name, and they are finding your stories because you have a lot of them, and not my stories, which also there are alot of, but all at one place, not in lots of different places which I guess is how you get your name high up in the searches.

You probably have another name that you could use, either a middle name or a different one that you always wanted. Did you know that Mark Twain was really named something else? So you could be a Mark Twain and still write your not pretty not nice little stories. Or just use your initials.

Earlier this year there was a man in the south who was old and went to jail for killing black people or for burning churches down and he had a name like ours and that was upsetting too because when you searched for my name (also I guess for your name) then you got stories about this very mean old man and my stories were way down the list. I wrote to several of the reporters and asked that they not use his name in so many pieces, and most of them seem to have stopped writing about him at this point and his name is down the list in the searches, so it's really just you and me who need to work out the rest.

Also, you may think I could become Mark Twain, but I am older than you and had our name before you and have been writing better stories for longer, so I think I should get to keep our name and you are the one who should move out. If you don't want to move off your name, then that is okay, as long as you stop writing. Either way.

Thank you very much.

K.y*l$e K,i;l:l'e?n
(I had to write my name like that because I don't want the search engines to see it and point to this email because it is not part of my page that I am trying to move up)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Celebrity Death Pool: Long Odds Items

Dionne Warwick trampled by hippies - 50 to 1

Don Rickles fatally struck by frisbee with his picture on it - 10,000 to 1

Elton John fails to heed the following warning in his new Baby Grand Piano: Thank you for purchasing this Baby Grand Piano. Do not load this Baby Grand Piano with bread or butter. Doing so may result in serious injury or death. - 50,000 to 1

Dick Cheney gives stirring eulogy at Dionne Warwick's funeral, declares undying love, jumps on casket, is buried alive - 1,000,000 to 1

Ashley Simpson falls from stacks while getting book at library - 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 to 1

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Acceptance Speech I Would Have Given Had I Been Nominated And Then Won An Oscar This Sunday

I'd like to begin by thanking my fellow attractive and politically aware celebrities. With any luck we'll soon end all of the world's problems by making movies. First and foremost I know many of you join me in calling for the end to the many abuses to animals, including medical research and domestication and, God willing, we'll soon be able to live in a world where both cows and cancer are allowed to roam free.

Prior to winning I was prepared to talk about how just being nominated was an honor. But now that I've won I see that winning is the only real honor and being nominated is much like making it to the Superbowl only to lose the big game, something I experienced earlier this year when I secured tickets to the big game but was unable to convince either team to let me play. The feeling I had as I watched the clock tick down and realized that I would not get to hoist the trophy over my head is one that haunts me to this day.

A lot of people told me that I'd never get up here. You may have seen some of them trying to wrestle me to the ground just moments ago. But clearly I was more determined than those people, and also willing to coat myself in Crisco so that I could elude their grip and claim what's mine. It's that same determination that will allow me to escape the gaggle of police officers gathered at the edge of the stage and to someday scratch off the name engraved on this statue and replace it with my own.

It's become standard to thank a whole list of people in these situations, agents, managers, cast, crew, and family. As I'm told every time I call their offices, my agents and managers all died and are buried in unmarked graves in other countries. Regardless, there's really no need to acknowledge their contributions. As for the cast and crew, it's been some ride, eh guys? I know many of you doubted my vision and abilities, and found some of my habits (covering each of you in Crisco daily) somewhat off putting. But here we are, or more specifically, here I am, up here, and there you are, down there. Who belongs in an institution now? As for my family, let me repeat that last question, Who belongs in an institution now?

Well, I hear the orchestra and I've noticed several of those laser aiming dots on my body, so I'll wrap up. In summary, this has been a real honor, and I'd simply like to tell all of you at home to never give up. With a little focus, effort, and shortening, you too can hoist one of these naked golden men in your greasy hand and finally know what it means to truly be alive.