31 October 2006
The Dreary Whimsy of an Aberrant Imagination
Coldfront Dialtone did not like going outside. He was also rich enough to indulge his idiosyncrasy. Coldfront added long hallways and corridors to his house. The additions snaked through town and into the countryside. After a few decades of building, Coldfront’s house resembled a multi limbed octopus resting on the land. Go down this tentacle, and you could see a waterfall. Through that tentacle was Coldfront’s favorite opera house. And so on. Much of the town was employed in the upkeep of Coldfront’s sprawling house. This is the way I like it, he said. It makes everyone much more bearable.
30 October 2006
Ralph’s spirit animal, a chipmunk, needed a vacation. While I’m gone, she told Ralph, you will have to make do with this spirit plant. She pushed a potted nerve plant toward Ralph. It requires indirect light, said the chipmunk, and misting every two days. See you in a month. The chipmunk scampered away. Ralph cared for the nerve plant with diligence. He was enchanted by the vivid veins on its leaves. When the chipmunk returned, Ralph closed his heart on her. Go to that beech tree with the all the nuts, he said. It needs your guidance more than me.
29 October 2006
Noted for Future Reference
Our voices decided they were too cooped up in bodies. They jumped out of throats everywhere and collected up into one spectacularly large voice that was so loud it erased every other sound in the world. We who once had voices, were now mute. It was not so bad. The large voice got tired after a while and settled down to sleepy silence. It was all potential. The world was alive in a way we had not thought possible. Eventually the big voice disintegrated into its component voices, which all tried to come back. We would not let them in.
28 October 2006
The kids make paper airplanes, which they then launched from hills overlooking the town. The paper airplanes caught thermals and stayed aloft for minutes at a time. They looked like a flock of white doves. Crows politely gave them the right of way. The trees watched the paper airplanes float by. That’s what happens to us? they asked each other in wonderment. They cut us down, pulp us, flatten us, and then we become flying machines? The trees were so electrified by the mere thought of this that their leaves turned color, fell off, and settled gently to the ground.
27 October 2006
The Connection Between the Physical and the Ethereal
The ghosts danced on our heads all night. In the morning we had bruises in the shapes of tiny footprints on our foreheads, noses, and cheeks. See, we said to each other, it really did happen. But the memories faded, like dreams, and we had to put our finger tips on the bruises, one after the other, in succession, like our hands were learning new dance steps. The people who had turned into ghosts bloomed in our minds as we placed our finger tips. They talked to us. We listened. The music was there, faint and delicate, like wilting flowers.
26 October 2006
A Constipation for the Untied States of Amnesia.
Weed the people of the untied states, in order to farm a mere perfect onion, abolish justice, insure domestic tranquilization, provide for the common offense, promote the generals’s welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to our leaders and their posteriors, do ordain and establish this constipation for the untied states of amnesia. Oil legislative powers herein granted shall be wrested from the congress of the untied states, which shall consist of a senescence and a mouse of reprehensibles. Etcetera. The vindication of the cynics of all the untied states shall be efficient for the destabilization of any amnesiac’s constitution.
25 October 2006
Window of Opportunity
A baseball punched a hole in the window. Glass shards littered the carpet. We went outside. We found a boy holding a bat. We showed him the ball. Is this yours? we asked. Yes, said the boy, it’s a magic baseball. Go look at the window. We went around the house to the window that the ball had broken. The glass was completely healed. See? said the boy. We handed him the ball. He tossed it into the air and swung his bat. The ball sailed through the window of the house next door. See you later, said the boy.
24 October 2006
Don't Even Ask What Freud Would Say
The blue giraffe with the elk antlers growing out of its head and wheels where its legs should be, said I had the weirdest dreamer last night. She was stuck in an airport waiting for a flight and fell asleep at one of those chairs with a tv attached to it. She had pink boots on, and her hair was all frizzy and red. Plus she wore this makeup that made her look like she was from Mars. It was so weird. The armadillo in the shape of a plaid candy bar said: Oh yeah. I’ve had dreamers like that.
23 October 2006
At our auto repair shop we have a guy who diagnoses problems with a laying on of hands. You bring us your car and he places his palms on the fender and stares up at the sky. Then his eyes go empty for a few minutes until finally he pulls up his hands, slaps them together, and says something like: The master cylinder is shot, or The carburetor needs re-calibrating. The guy is almost always wrong, but we kind of like the theater so we keep him on. So far no one has complained and we do excellent repeat business.
22 October 2006
The art of the bookplate went into sharp decline with the advent of electronic books. Many of the old bookplates, sensing their own obsolescence, slid off their books and retreated to the desert where they congregated into stealth cities in the sand, populated by gargoyles, crocodiles, unicorns, medusae, fishing lures, lions, and tiny aged men with long white beards. The spiders and scorpions who had lived there for eons were initially uneasy with their new neighbors, but came to accept their deeply strange ways. You’re a little possessive, they said to the bookplates, but we appreciate your tendency to bite.
21 October 2006
Thunderegg Curbside saw the writing on the wall. It was in pink and purple spray paint, dappled with gold sparkles, but before Thunderegg could read it all the way through, the wall collapsed into a heap of bricks due to the buffalo crashing through it from the other side. Thunderegg ducked down to allow the beast to jump over her, which it did with unerring finesse. The ground shuddered. Thunderegg picked up one of the bricks that had been part of the wall. She held it to her ear; it sang: Oh give me a home, where the buffalo roam…
20 October 2006
Love Your Work
At the shirt factory we make shirts. Not in an arrogant way or anything. It isn’t like we’re saying that we are the best shirt makers in the world, or that no one else can make shirts, because lots of factories make shirts and a lot of them are good shirts. Our shirts are good too. We are better than some, not as good as others. And don’t think we think shoe factories or pants factories are any less important than shirt factories. It’s all important. All the clothes. They all have their place. We just make shirts is all.
19 October 2006
What We Learned When We Unclogged the Conduits
The rocks have gravelly voices. The flowers usually whisper. The river babbles endlessly, and the trees, unexpectedly, know most of our languages. The clouds have heavy accents. The birds, it turns out, know sign language. The grass speaks in short clipped sentences. Mosquitoes know the buzz on everything. Acorns keep secrets, and the sky is incapable of committing a grammatical error. The ocean is forgetful. The sun roars. Houses have secret languages only they know. Waterfalls like to sound off and moss enjoys chewing the fat. Volcanoes spout aphorisms. Earthquakes crack everyone up with their jokes. Our bones chatter happily.
18 October 2006
Anomalous Data Points
Cheapdate Windmill was famous the world over for his coffee. He made the best coffee possible. Then one day, owing to some ill-advised experimentation with quantum reality by a bunch of snot-nosed young scientists with no sense of responsibility, the world flipped. Day became night and night became day, among other things. Cheapdate Windmill became Datemill Cheapwind, and he could not brew a decent pot of coffee to save his life. Datemill spent his nights weeping for his lost talent. He grew very old, never adjusted to the new day/night thing, and spent his waking hours in the dark.
17 October 2006
Just a Minute
We spent the afternoon. We used it to buy some time. We got twelve minutes change, which we invested in a time share. That didn’t work out, so we went to a casino where we bet the moon. We lost. The moon hangs over the entrance to the casino now, but if you look in the sky you’ll see a perfectly good replica going through its phases. No one can tell the difference. We paid for that out of our own pockets. So don’t say we are irresponsible citizens without a sense of duty. We have no time for that.
16 October 2006
The Griselda Two-Step
We went to a Day of the Dead art show last week, which reminded me of a card we once made. The cover had Kim’s drawing of a female skeleton dancing and the interior had this: Griselda hops, Griselda stomps. She chatters and twists and clatters her wrists. She dances and prances and takes kinetic chances. She rattles her bones in time to her moans, and swings her skirt like an extrovert. Griselda shakes, Griselda quakes. She shudders and shimmies until she breaks. Heaped up on the floor, she grins and says, “I’m ready, I’m ready, I’m ready for more.”
15 October 2006
Eat Breakfast Like a King, Lunch Like a Prince, and Dinner Like a Pauper.
Morning: A big bowl of deep fried peasants, doused with ketchup and sprinkled with garlic salt, swiftly washed down with the juice of crushed and ground babies. For dessert the arable land of the nation, baked with dollops of honey and bits of walnut. Noon: Approach the king while he sleeps, kill him and parboil him, then consume him lightly with a bit of salad, perhaps a carrot or two. Evening: Gather the mob. Resist all food; hunger keeps you vital and strong for the extended struggle ahead. Storm the castle. Kill all the inhabitants. Raise the torches in triumph.
14 October 2006
The bugs moved in. They had a tiny moving van which they had stuffed full with their tiny furniture and their tinier knickknacks. They unloaded it right in our living room, as if we didn’t exist. They had tiny books. Mostly works of entomology, which must be their equivalent of self help books, but we also saw tiny editions of popular volumes like Kafka’s Metamorphosis, Don Marquis’s Archy and Mehitabel, and E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. Then the bugs waved at us and settled down to a good long sleep. We’re waiting to see what happens when they wake up.
13 October 2006
The Story of Bear and Ant, Which I Told in a Longer Version Yesterday to the Kids at the Local Elementary School
A long time ago Bear and Ant debated the duration of light and dark. Bear wanted each year to be half light and half dark so he could sleep six months and eat six months. Ant wanted light and dark every day. They argued endlessly until Bear got tired and said Ant could have her way, but Bear would still sleep half the year and eat ants the other half. Ant said no, she would grow wings and fly away. So now every day has light and dark, bears sleep half the year, and ants grow wings to escape bears.
12 October 2006
You and your shadow had a pleasant evening. You repotted your plants and did the laundry and wrote to your congress critter and washed the walls and re-shingled the roof and rescued a kitten from a tree and worked on your mosaic of a purple turtle and ate a healthy dinner and watched the sun set and talked to the moles building tunnels under your garden and listened to your neighbors fighting and put the trash can out for the garbage collectors who will arrive early tomorrow morning. Then you told your shadow to please please please get some sleep.
11 October 2006
The Special Theory of Debit and Credit
Lightspeed Tidalzone worked as an accountant for a firm that traded in quantum stock options. These were stocks that jumped instantly from being profitable to being non profitable, or vice versa, and they would flip back and forth like that endlessly. It was Lightspeed’s job to keep track of the flips and pinpoint the precise moment when they would be worth buying. He used a relativistic double entry system that had federal regulators sniffing around to see if Lightspeed was doing something wrong. He wasn’t. He was just an accountant familiar with physics who was way ahead of his time.
10 October 2006
We Usually Cooked Some Sage Into the Soup
We used to buy ink by the barrel. No one argued with us, and life was good. Later we acquired a lot of bandwidth. It wasn’t the same. Everyone argued with us, and life was not so good. We weren’t interested in fighting, so we moved to a mountain and resisted communication with the rest of the world. It didn’t help. People climbed up the mountain just to ask us our opinions about current events and ancient truths. We had nothing to give them except hot soup and inane platitudes. The sad thing is, they usually came back for more.
09 October 2006
We found feathers strewn about the neighborhood. Long, white, and fluffy. We gathered them up, bundled them onto the end of a stick, and used them to dust the house. A few days later an angel appeared at the door. I heard you found my feathers, she said. We were instantly embarrassed. We’re so sorry, we said, we didn’t know they were yours. We gave her the duster. She took it and thanked us. I’ll get these put back on, she said. How did they work? Oh, great, we said, really the best duster ever. I’m glad, said the angel.
08 October 2006
The Spice-Thyme-Lime Continuum
Four potatoes, boiled, peeled and cubed; some mayo; a teaspoon of finely shredded lime peel; two tablespoons lime juice; one tablespoon fresh thyme; salt and pepper. Combine mayo, lime peel, lime juice, thyme, salt and pepper. Add the potatoes. Toss gently. Cover and chill for at least six hours. Serve with lime slices and additional fresh thyme. If your guests don’t like it, tell them about how everything in the world is connected. No part of creation is separate from any other part, no matter how long we have been told otherwise. Then just watch the smiles on their faces.
07 October 2006
This is what I overheard in the waiting room at the Honda dealership where I was having my car’s exhaust system overhauled by certified Honda trained technicians who regularly attended classes to upgrade their skills: Children are always taller than their parents. We should all be giants now if that’s been going on for generations. Why aren’t we all giants? Maybe we are. What is going to happen if we never start having shorter children? If people just keep growing taller and taller, getting taller than mountains. There won’t be cars big enough for us. We’ll all have to walk.
06 October 2006
The sunflowers decided it was too tiring to hold up their heads twenty four hours a day. They uprooted themselves, ambled out of their gardens, and ended up sitting on benches, where they drooped down over the edges. They looked like they were melting into the wood. We thought they were very inconsiderate for hogging all the benches, but we didn’t want to disturb them. They looked so much at ease and their colors matched the benches. It was beyond beautiful and made us think of our ancestors, quietly watching the world go by. Maybe sipping from glasses of lemonade.
05 October 2006
The giants had eyeballs the size of cantaloupes. We considered the eyes a delicacy and hacked them out of their heads when we found them dead in the woods. Then we buried the giants, who had no concept of what to do with their own dead. They usually just let the birds and bugs take care of the corpses. We felt great shame that we ate their eyes. Not enough to stop, but enough to properly bury their corpses. Sometimes the giants sat on the hills and watched us. We felt their gaze burning into the tops of our heads.
04 October 2006
One day new words fell from the sky. They collected like pollen on streets and sidewalks, in gutters, and on houses. We raked them up from our yards and stuffed them into garbage bags. Workers from the Bureau of Surrealistic Research, Etymology Division, picked up the bags and took them to their secret facility in the Cascade mountains where they preserved and classified them. Linguistic researchers spent years studying the new words. We awaited the results of their labor with keen anticipation. It’s hard to describe the excitement, we told each other, maybe some of the new words will help.
03 October 2006
We made slips of paper out of insect wings. Then we wrote wishes on them and baked them into a wedding cake. At the reception the guests who ate the cake climbed onto the church roof and leaped off to float over the city. The bride and groom took the last pieces of cake and went on their honeymoon. No one ever saw them again. Years later some sailors found their skeletons on an island in the Pacific. Pieces of the wedding cake were lodged in the skeleton throats. The sailors buried the skeletons and fed the cake to fish.
02 October 2006
Do One Thing Well
The raindrops waited. They had all the time in the world. The roofers finished their work and went home. Then the raindrops started in on the shingles. They pelted them repeatedly. Water spattered over the roof for years. It took decades, but eventually the drops broke through and began dripping water into the building, which took on rot and began collapsing. The raindrops did not let up. They fell on the heap of wood and melted it into the ground. The raindrops just kept going. Even after every trace of the building had slipped away, the raindrops continued to fall.
01 October 2006
A Mouse Reminisces
Call me Double Blind. My great great grandparents were lab mice, and all the generations since, so I come by it honestly. It’s a family tradition. Mazes were the best, because you got food at the end. I pretended to have trouble just so I could do more trials. Lots of cheese and peanut butter, yum. I could have done without all the chemically induced cancer, but, hey, you take the good with the bad, right? I can’t complain. They did a study: on average lab mice live longer than wild mice. Isn’t that nice? Yup. I’m one lucky rodent.