New story up at Yankee Pot Roast. Woo hoo!
Recently Rented

A Mighty Wind: Mockumentary about folk music. Not as good as Best in Show.

A View From the Top: Girl wants everything, falls in love, leaves love to get everything, realizes everything is worth nothing when you don’t have love. Cristina Applegate is always wonderful, Gwyneth should get off her macrobiotic diet, Mike Myers is in a role unworthy of his talent.

Chicago: Awesome. I loved it. John C. Reilly’s song, Mister Cellophane, was my absolute favorite. Good enough to make me want the soundtrack. Now I realize everything that was done wrong with Moulin Rouge.


Song lyrics always have hidden meanings whether the singer or song writer is aware of it. Since most of us no longer listen to our everyday music on vinyl, we can’t play the songs we know and love backwards to extract the mystic context. I found a handy dandy tool, though, to extract the underlying messages. I’ve learned a lot about today’s pop stars and I’d like to share of my findings…

SONG: P.I.M.P. by 50 Cent

I don't know what you heard about me
But a bitch can't get a dollar out of me.
No Cadillac, no perms, you can't see
That I'm a motherfucking P-I-M-P

I do not know
this what you no Cadillac meant to say in me
but a female with a dollar of me
permian of aucuns, at the constreñimiento arrives
I cannot see that you can this that motherfucking a UPHOLDER.

50 Cent is secretly crooning a love ballad disguised as filthy rap anthem. Women want to pay him a dollar to drive around in his Cadillac but they don’t see 50 for what he really is: a motherfucking upholder. He’s upholds his women on pedestals.

SONG: Crazy in Love by Beyonce

Your love's got me lookin so crazy right now (your love)
Got me lookin so crazy right now your touch's
Got me hoping you page me right now your kiss's
Lookin so crazy your love's got me lookin
Got me lookin so crazy your love

the extension considers alcohol-ill person
at this moment considered
therefore it loved alcohol-ill person (you love)
alcohol-ill person in this hope of the moment therefore
(its contact) of you who it them numbers of the page
had at this moment provided her
kiss I on therefore hope you-

All right, all right. I get the idea. Apparently she hates it when fans show up to her concerts all wasted and stare at her through bleary, bloodshot eyes. Also, she wears hair extensions and is illiterate. And she had a three-way with the other Destiny’s Child girls last summer.

SONG: Fighter by Christina Aguilera

'Cause it makes me that much stronger
Makes me work a little bit harder
It makes me that much wiser
So thanks for making me a fighter
Ohh, ohh, ohh, ohhhh, ohh-yeah ah uhhhuh

the causes for the marks I that marcature
that one are much more strong he who
the forms very ordered
more intelligent little hardly
therefore I carry far to give the form that a combatant stimulated it
form a Ohh of the combatant
ohh, ohh, ohhhh, uhhhuh of ohh yes OH

Christina was going out with a really smart, really strong guy who liked to beat her up. One day she realized she had had enough and decided to became a Fighter (hence, the title of the song). After she finished beating shit out of the dude, she had sex with herself. Or maybe she had sex with the combatant she hired to beat him up, because she’s really tiny and I don’t think she can beat anyone up. But at the core of it, she’s the one who became a fighter.

SONG: Bring Me Back to Life by Evanescence

(Wake me up) Wake me up inside
(I can't wake up) Wake me up inside
(Save me) Call my name and save me from the dark
(Wake me up) bid my blood to run
(I can't wake up) before I come undone
(Save me) save me from the nothing I've become

(they wake up to him wide upon my) inside ignited
waked up for above of an
the internal part of tomorrow
(I cannot wake up above), waked up for above
above of an a the call of the Innerens
(warehouse he) my name and me the density
(they wake up to him wide upon my), offered memories
that exceeds my alcohol to the operation
(I cannot wake up above), before this comes I
(warehouse he) demoliert around that one
he them warehouses, all that I if it transformed

Have you heard the rumor that Evanescence is a Christian rock band in disguise? I believe it after reading the true meaning of this song! They’re talking about how inside them Hell is waking up, but God’s trapped in a warehouse and they need to wake up him and let him out to fight the monsters of Hell. I’m a little confused about “operation” though. They’re either talking about the operation of having their souls ripped from their bodies, should they “exceed” the “alcohol” limit, or the family game Operation.

SONG: Rock Your Body by Justin Timberlake

So you grab your girls And you grab a couple more
And you all come meet me In the middle of the floor
Said the air is thick, it's smelling right
So you blast to the left and you sail to the right

Therefore grippate your children and grippate one more
a connection and everything than you
he come who come to the contact in the average the floor
of that is said that the air is strong
feels odor therefore they you only breathing
in the left and to the candles for the line.

Justin Timberlake wants to fart on your children. I can’t believe this. It all makes so much sense to me now. He wants to grippate your children (not to mention grippating one more on top of that) so that he may fart in a room full of candles in the hopes that he’ll explode. If you need some help, Justin, let me know. I can send you a container full of semi-cooked beans. Seriously man, because I want someone somewhere scraping Timberlake off walls.
New pictures up at explodingdog.


Exciting News! I'm a columnist at Yankee Pot Roast!! HURRAY!
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1. marathon paper towels/toilet paper
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6. "extreme elimination challenge" review
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9. Peter Kruper The Metamorphosis Villiage Voice review
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I must say, I'm happiest about #6.


Review quotes for the new film Underworld...

Washington Post / Desson Howe:
It needs a wooden stake AND a silver bullet through its script.

San Francisco Chronicle / Peter Hartlaub:
Could use script transfusion, or at least a few quarts of levity.

Baltimore Sun / Chris Kaltenbach:
A hollow, relentless mess.

Chicago Sun-Times / Roger Ebert:
It's so impossible to care about the characters in the movie that I didn't care if the vampires or werewolves won. I might not have cared in a better movie, either, but I might have been willing to pretend.
Went to see Underworld on Friday night. What a crap movie. Seriously.

* * *

Saturday I did many things. I can’t tell you about the majority of it because you’ll soon be able to read about it in a new place (wink wink). Saturday evening was spent playing Settlers of Catan. There really isn’t a way to describe this game without making it sound geeky or boring, but it’s really quite fun. There are many different kinds of Settlers games: Cities & Knights of Catan, Seafarers of Catan, Starfarers (not very fun, that one) and a relatively new one I haven’t tried yet: Settlers of the Stone Age. If you come across the original and have 2-3 friends who enjoy strategy games, you should pick it up.
Happy Banned Books Week! Check out the 100 Most Challenged books, I’m sure you’ll be surprised by some of the titles on the list. I have to say that #23, Go Ask Alice, is one of the best books I’ve ever read in my life. Same for #47. Neil Gaiman made a good point recently on his blog, wondering what the hell #88 was doing on the list.


A Visit to the Eye Doctor

Assistant: The Doctor will be with you in a moment. Have a seat on your left.

Amy: [Sit in chair on right]

Assistant: Your other left. [Leaves room.]

Amy: Bitch.

Doctor: [Enters] Hi my name’s Donna Reed how are we doing today you’re here for a routine check-up?

Amy: Well, I wore glasses in high school and not since then. So… I’m wondering how my eyes are doing. I need a new pair of glasses.

Doctor: Okay let’s take a look I just need you to rest your chin in the bar there yup and look though the view finder straight ahead and tell what are the smallest letters you can read.

Amy: Are you kidding me? I can barely read the top line.

Doctor: Go ahead and give it a try.

Amy: B… O… umm… M?... P. R.

Doctor: [Flips on different lenses] And now?

Amy. E G H A K.

Doctor: Good.

Amy: Wow, I’m like, almost blind.

Doctor: Looking at that top line, is it better or worse with lens one [Flips lens] or two [Flips another lens]. One [flips] or two [flips] or about the same?

Amy: Two is better.

Doctor: One [flips] or two [flips] … one [flips] or two [flips] or about the same.

Amy: Same

Doctor: Three [flips] or four [flips] … three [flips] or four [flips] or about the same.

Amy: Four.

[10 minutes later.]

Doctor: Looking at the green side and the red side are the letters more or less fuzzy on the green side or the red side or about the same?

Amy: Same.

Doctor: [Flips] And now?

Amy: Uh… green is a little more fuzzy.

Doctor: Okay [flip flip flip flip flip flip flip flip] I would like you to read the letters from the bottom line.

Amy: Z P E G A.

Doctor: Good [Brings up row of smaller letters] How about these?

Amy: B D S… E… Q?

Doctor: Good I’m just going to take a look at your eyes now look at my shoulder… look up… to the right… to the left… and down… [Repeats on other eye] Now I’m down to take a look at the back of your eye [Using bright yellow light, repeats steps]. Okay. [Moves view finder and turns on light.] Your eyes look perfectly healthy.

Amy: Good.

Doctor: It’s looks as though you’re near sighted in your right eye and far sighted in your left eye that means you’re using both your eyes- the right to see things far away and the left to see things close up- but you’re not really using them together.

Amy: …

Doctor: And you have a slight astigmatism in your left eye.

Amy: … Am I gonna die?

Doctor: Hardly I have to admit though it’s a little irregular I’ve never seen anything like it do you have a problem with your depth perception?

Amy: When I’m driving at night, I can’t really see pedestrians until I’m almost on top of them.

Doctor: I’m going to fill out this prescription and you can have a pair of glasses as soon as tomorrow your vision will actually be better than 20 /20 the bottom most line that you read was 20/15 which is very good.

Amy: Can I get contacts, too?

Doctor: Have you ever had contacts?

Amy: No.

Doctor: I’m hesitant about continuing this check-up to include getting you fitted for contacts because you’ve never had them I’d like to wait a couple weeks and see how often your wearing you glasses is it only to drive home or go to the theater

Amy: No, I like seeing crisp edges to things.

Doctor: Exactly are you going to wear them all the time for clarity so I just think it would be best to wait a couple weeks and then we’ll give you a trial pair of contacts and give your instructions on how to put them in take them out you know.

Amy: Okay. Thank you.

Doctor: You’re welcome have a nice day.


* * *

these noodles
these noodles remind me of you
they speak to me
they told me you're slippery
you cheated on me
they said it was last night
you were with her
you touched her
your noodles all over her
no! NO!
these noodles
these noodles don't lie
not like you, you liar
so i threw the noodles
the bowl of noodles
into the wall
your noodles all over my wall
look at the mess you made
you stupid noodles

my love for you
is dehydrated
like these dry little mushrooms
'just add water'
just add water to my heart, baby
and maybe
maybe i'll love you again
my dehydrated love

you taste like
anchovy cabbage spit
you're magical
like that wizard
the one that does
that stuff
you waste my precious time
your unanimated anticts
drawing me along your path
to and fro
zig and zag
and i can't find you
you think you're better than me
because you can fly
so fly, fly away
you magical bean
you protein packed morsel
i'll be seeing you again

my love for you
has grown cold
like this cold cold
the thought of putting it
in my mouth
repulses me
like you
you're cold
with your little bits
of carrot
i can't reheat you
my cold love
or you'd explode
but this soup
this soup will keep
another day

* * *

The Booker Prize shortlist, announced today.

* * *

The 2003 Pulitzer Prize winning book, Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides, was released in paperback yesterday.

* * *

The Sandman: Endless Nights is released today (in a comic book shop near you).

* * *

Steve Almond is a sexy beast. You shouldn't miss any of his posts this week.

* * *

Vermont Congressman Bernie Sanders named Politician of the Year by Library Journal.

* * *

Re-read "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" (or "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone", depending on where you're from), then participate this this coming Monday's discussion at BookBlog.

* * *

Neal Pollock is back and soon to be on tour.

* * *

Vermont is a wonderful place to visit. For those of you thinking about making a trip across the Atlantic (wink wink, nudge nudge), what the hell are you waiting for? There's loads of winter shit to do here.

* * *


Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe.


Last 10 Search Terms to Return fluidmotion.blogspot.com...

1. leonard shlain bbc
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Delicious. Steve Almond is guest blogging over at Bookslut. Steve is one of the few writers I’m willing to cast aside my vow of celibacy for. In fact, he happened to be in one of my dreams just this past weekend. It went a little something like this:

{Setting: Airport. Steve and I are boarding a crowded plane to Beijing.}

Me: [confused, can’t find my seat, can’t find my ticket]

Steve: [sits down in aisle seat]

Me: [sit down next to him, in window seat]

Stewardess: [brings Steven and I each a porcelain bowl of roasted pumpkin seeds] What can I get you to drink?

Amy: [yelling over sudden roar of engine] BLOODY MARY!!

Steve: [to me] IS THAT ALL YOU WANT?

Amy: WHAT?


Amy: WHAT?!?!

Stewardess: [to Steve] WE WON’T BE MAKING A STOP IN EGYPT!!

Amy: [Notices people are sitting in doorway of plane, thinks about how dangerous that is. Wants to get off plane.]

And he's not kidding about "the single funniest piece of writing in the known world." (And get this: He's currently teaching at BC! So close! Close enough to stalk on a semi-regular basis, even.)
OOOooooooooooo... Nice article of Karen Berger and Vertigo Comics. I love Vertigo (first and foremost) because of the Sandman comics, but they're new stuff is also very, very good: Fables and Y: The Last Man. I'm also thinking of delving into 100 Bullets, but it looks a *tad* too violent for me.

The big, hardbound book the article refers to, Endless Nights, is a return for Gaiman to the "Endless" he wrote about in the Sandman comics: Destiny, Death, Destruction, Dream, Delirium, Despair and Desire. It’s been a decade since the comic series ended or, at least, since Gaiman stopped writing for Dream (who has popped up in a few DC comics here and there, but written by other people). This graphic novel is made up of 7 parts, one part for each of the Endless. If you would like this graphic novel, you should go to a local comic book store to purchase it, as they should be getting it this week (as opposed to Amazon and Borders, who won’t be getting it until October).
Madonna's new children's book, The English Roses, came out today:

Madonna has been active in the book's promotion, as host of a highly publicized "garden tea party" yesterday in the Kensington section of London. The event was open only to a select crowd of what the book's American publisher, Nicholas Callaway, called "media and their children, celebrities and their children and people from the literary and publishing worlds and their children." (Just plain children, apparently, were not invited.)

Hrrah hah heh... As if the smart kids even wanted to be there. They were all home reading this book.


I finished Michel Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White last night. Nothing can be right in the universe when you finish an 830 page book and afterwards say to yourself, “Well… that ended rather abruptly, didn’t it?” I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I wanted more of the story to read because there’s obviously more of the story to tell. I highly recommend it, but ye be warned: if you’re the type of person that likes to read a few pages before bed, this will take you a year to read. Chances are, you’ll grow bored and forget stuff, making you hate the book.

(Note: Paperback version of this book is 944 pages.)

How did I reward myself for finishing such a long, dense, intelligent tale? By reading a couple new comics (1602 #2, Fables #17) and watching four (four!) episodes of Most Extreme Elimination Challenge. So painful, so funny!


This morning I went to the Honda dealership to get my CR-V serviced...

(Actual conversation)

Ken: Amy? You’re all set.

Amy: Thanks.

Ken: We replaced your air filter, replaced the oil and oil filter, set tire pressure and fluid levels, serviced brakes, took care of the shift cable recall and installed a cap on the throttle drum.

Amy: Okay.

Ken: We also found your right front sway bar link to be broken…

Amy [startled]: Broken? What does that mean?

Ken: The sway bar has to do with your car’s suspension. New England roads can be really bumpy and they occasionally break. It’s covered under warrantee and we’ve ordered the replacement part.

Amy: …

Ken: Had you… heard anything while you were driving?

Amy: Um… There’s a particularly deep manhole on my drive home from work. I would sometimes hear a noise when I drove over it.

Ken: [nodding]

Amy: Okay… well, thank you.

Ken: Have a nice day.

Amy: You, too.

(Actual conversation, as recorded inside my head)

Ken: Amy? You’re all set.

Amy: Thanks.

Ken: We replaced your blah blah, replaced the thingamajig and doodad, did this, did that, set the pressure and fluidified the doohickey, took care of the thingamabob recall and installed a thingy on the ding-dong.

Amy: Okay.

Ken: We also found your poopy-doo gizmo to be broken…

Amy: [startled] Broken? What does that mean?

Ken: The gizmo is super important. You obviously drive too fast and broke it. It’s covered under warrantee and we’ve ordered the replacement part.

Amy: [thinking] I bet that’s what that loud clunking noise I've been hearing is.

Ken: Had you… heard anything while you were driving?

Amy: Um… there’s a particularly deep manhole on my drive home from work. I would sometimes hear noise when I drove over it. [thinking] And every time I pulled into my driveway.

Ken: [smirking]

Amy: Okay… well, thank you.

Ken: Half a mice bay.

Amy: You, too.
New pictures up over at explodingdog.


3AM Magazine interviews Dan Fante, son of John Fante. I’ve been meaning to read Fante Sr’s “Ask the Dust” for ages. Now I’ll have to add “Mooch”, “Spitting off Tall Buildings” and “Chump Change” to the list.

I have Hubert Selby Jr’s “Last Exit to Brooklyn” sitting on one of my bookshelves, unread. I did read “Requiem for a Dream” about 3 years ago and fell in love with his style of storytelling: truth mixed with grit. The anger, punishment and pain was all so much more real and eye-opening than anything I had read up until that point. All the books I had been reading were blah-blah happy ending or blah-blah moralistic ending; I had never read anything that finished with a dude--you-fucked-up-your-life--are you happy now? ending.

Then Selby lead to me Charles Bukowski. “Women” was the first book of his I read, and what a wicked and dirty book that was. Immediately, I had to go out and get “Post Office” and “Ham on Rye.” It’s because of his writing that I love books so much. Burkowski’s stories are full of alcohol and drugs and sex. His books are raw and they’re ugly and if you have the capacity to read between the lines, beautiful and human.

Right now, the human race are in the midst of a self-help revolution. More and more people are wading through this river, up to their necks in bullshit and lies. They’re buying books and tapes and books-on-tape written by MD’s, PhD’s and talk show hosts telling them how they should think, feel, look and spend their own money. I, for one, am fucking sick of it. Everyone needs to understand: “Life is shitty and then you die. Unless you write a book about it first and then you die.” Instead of self-medicating with a Prozac/Zoloft cocktail, perhaps people should go read Bukowski. Or Selby. Or maybe listen to some Rollins Band.


News from the Upper Valley: Preparing for The Tunbridge Fair.
Friday Night: "In Which Amy Intentionally Gets Lost"

Barbara, Jason and I went up to The Great Corn Maze of Vermont in Danville. We decided the “starlight” version (as opposed to the more regular “daytime” option) would be more fun and challenging. The drive up was long and lonely. We had to take an interstate to a route, then another route, then a paved road, then a dirt road and then another dirt road. Towards the end of the drive, my excitement starting giving way to fear.

I asked Barbara, “What if, when we get there, we hear screams coming from the maze? And then, when we ask someone about it, they’re like, ‘Uh… it’s just a haunted maze. Hurry up, get inside.’”

Finally we get there and are relieved to see about 20 other cars parked in the field. The nighttime maze opens at 6pm and ends at 10:30pm. We arrived at 8 and already some people were coming out.

We pay for our tickets, get glow sticks to wear around our necks and enter the maze. The corn is thick and about 12 feet high. We can hear other people talking and laughing, but cannot see them through the corn. Barbara, Jason and I each decide to take turns leading. Barbara goes first, with Jason right behind her and I bring up the rear. I resist the urge to turn around. Left, right, around. I’m already lost.

Do you know what not to say while in a corn maze?

“Hey, you guys remember the movie Signs?”

Everyone ends up spending the next ten minutes looking for alien legs disappearing into the crop. Great.

Barbara brings us, somehow, to a bridge. We climb the steps look out over the cornfield. There’s only a half moon out tonight but it’s bright enough to illuminate everything. There’s a man, one of the maze helpers, leaning against the railing.

“Congratulations,” he says, “You guys are on the right track. You just come into the maze?”

“About 10 minutes ago,” I say.

He nods his approval. “Keep up the good work.”

We cross the bridge and descend back down into the corn. It’s my turn to lead. Left or right? Left. I move this way and that, completely unsure where I’m going. Barbara mentions some bullshit about “following the moon”. I know that she only got us to that bridge by pure chance. Now, just one more right and-

“Weren’t we just here?” Barbara asks me.

Yes. I remember that corn stalk lying across the dirt path. I say nothing, though, and lead us off in a new direction.

Eventually, I have no idea how, we reach another bridge. This time, there are 5 helpers standing on the platform talking. We cross and it’s Jason’s turn to lead.

Here in this new section of the maze, there are many people wandering around. I guess no one can find their way out. We pass a man and a woman in the midst of a fight.

“We’ve been here before,” she whines.

“I don’t think so,” he says, but sounds unsure.

“I remember that rock!” she says, pointing to a small stone.

We leave them to their fight. Walking to the end of a path, we turn right. We see 4 small boys coming toward us.

“Hello. Hi. Hey. Hi,” they say and keep on marching.

It makes me feel uneasy to be moving in one direction and have other people moving in the opposite direction. Obviously, one of us is going the wrong way.

We go up an incline and the moon is so bight in our eyes, it’s impossible to see the path in front of us. Jason takes out his flashlight, which we hadn’t needed up until this point, and swings the beam from side to side. Right turn. Left turn.

“Okay,” I say once Jason has lead us in same circle for the third time, “it’s Barbara’s turn to lead now.

Using her “follow the moon” technique, she’s able to lead us to the same dead end twice.

“Out of the way, Kimosabe,” I say. “My turn.”

Barbara soon gets tired of my running/standing and scratching my head technique and pushes Jason to the front.

“Well look who it is,” he says, as we pass the same 4 boys again.

“Hey. ‘Sup. Hi. Hey.”

Throughout the maze, if you’re having trouble finding your way out, there are wooden posts here and there which have an arrow pointing you in the right direction. A wooden panel, painted to look like an ear of corn, is nailed to the post. One must simply slide the corn out of the way to reveal the arrow underneath.

We arrive one of these posts, which we had already passed a few times. Discreetly, Jason looks to see which way the arrow is pointing and we move off in that direction.

We need to use one more wooden post before we make it to the bell at the end. I’m so exited to be done with the maze that I tug on the rope three times. Barbara rings the bell once. Jason, on the other hand, rings the it 8 times before Barbara drags him away. Outside the exit, three of the maze workers are present to congratulate you on making it out (alive). We’re informed that there are a few games to the right, in case we’re interested.

“And then you just need to go back through the maze to get back to your car,” one of them says.

I look him in the eye. “Are you shitting me?” I ask. “We have to go back through there?” I jerk my thumb over my shoulder.

He lifts his hands and makes a motion to ease my hysteria. He says, “No, you can go that way,” and points to another opening. “It’s a more direct route back.”

Oh. Whew. If we had to go back the way we came, we wouldn't get out of the maze until morning.

The games to the right consist of a riddle and a tiny maze of hay bales. For this maze, you have to enter and navigate your way to the exit going straight and using right turns only. It was fun.

As for the riddle… I’ll try to replicate here it as clearly as possible:

There are 4 men that are about to be eaten by a Minotaur. The are named A, B, C and D. A and C are wearing black hats while B and D are wearing white, but all they know is that there are TWO white hats and TWO black hats. A is facing toward B, C and D (and vice versa), but here is a wall between A and B. It looks as such:

(A)-> || <-(B) <-(C) <-(D)

One of them must call out the color of his hat to save them. If he’s wrong, all of them will be eaten.

Who calls out the color of his hat? Why is he 100% sure of the color?

Answer: (highlight the area below)

C calls out “Black!”. A and B are staring at a wall, so they have no idea what color their hats are. D can see B and C, but realizes he has a 50/50 shot at guessing what color his hat is (because he also cannot see A). Thus, because D doesn’t say anything even though he can see what B and C are wearing, C knows that he must be wearing a black hat. D would have said “Black!” if C had also been wearing a white hat like B.

We ran through the direct route back to the parking lot and started the one and a half hour drive home. I think we got back at midnight.
Saturday Afternoon: “In Which I Amy Attends a Family Corn Roast”

At 12:30 pm, Barbara says to me, “Call Grammy and see if the corn roast is today.”

I call. “Hi Grammy, I’m just wondering if the cookout is today.”

“Well, yes,” she says, “People will be getting here around two o’clock but we won’t start eating until three. You’re coming aren’t you?”

“Of course.” Crap! TWO O’CLOCK?

“And Barbara and Jason?” she asks.

“Yup. You want me to bring anything? A pasta salad?”

My grandmother sighs. “Oh… you don’t have to.”

“It’s no trouble,” I say even though there’s nothing in the house to make a proper pasta salad with.

“Well, if it’s no trouble.”

I hang up and jump into my car. Gotta go to the store, buy stuff for pasta salad, go home, chop up vegetables, cook pasta, mix it all together, take shower. Stupid Barbara! Grammy called her, like, three weeks ago about this cookout. She should have remembered when it was.

We make it up there by 2:45 pm. Not bad, really. We drive past my grandmother’s farm house and up to the field where a large tent has been erected. I put my beer into a cooler but before I have time to crack one open, my Uncle Ronnie pulls up next to me on his new 4-wheeler.

“Hey,” he yells over the roar of the motor, “you wanna go for a ride?”

“I gotta go pee,” I shout back. “Can you take me back down to the house?”


I hop on behind him. After I take care of my business in the house and go back outside, Ronnie points at a steep mountain.

“You ever been up there?” he asks me.

“Uh… no,” I say, knowing exactly where this is leading.

“You wanna go?”

“Sure.” I hop back on and we take off. We speed down the driveway, around the back of the pasture, along a muddy, bumpy dirt path barely wide enough for the 4-wheeler. Then, UP.

I’m holding onto the metal bars behind me but I still don’t really feel secure. I envision us going over a particularly bad bump, which will cause my legs will go flying up and over my head. Then I’ll either: (a) land upside-down on my head, breaking my neck, or (b) complete the rotation and land face down in the mud. What a poor, poor idea it was to wear white linen pants.

We eventually make it to a level area that Ronnie had cleared a couple years back. All this land, my grandmother owns. Right now she has 100 acres but Ronnie’s going to buy some of it off her. He wants to build a camp up here. It would be the perfect spot, overlooking Macintosh Pond, the surrounding mountains and way, way, way off, you can see the ski slopes of Killington 20 miles away. Amazing.

I say all this to Ronnie. He nods and says, “I’m gonna go pee,” and runs off into the woods.

We head back down the mountain, which I think will be easier but only scares me more. I didn’t notice we were climbing a 70 degree incline but it’s much more apparent on the way down. Finally, we make it back up to the field. I thank my uncle Ronnie and head for the beer cooler.

The rest of the afternoon was spent eating, playing Frisbee and shootin’ the shit. My cousin Kathy was telling me how Dakota, her 12-year-old son, shot a turkey this past spring and just got a moose license for this fall. I wouldn’t put it past Dakota to get a moose on his first year. Apparently, he’s a really good shot. Kathy and Alan take him down to the shooting range to shoot alongside some pretty high rollers. He got so good at shooting single clay pigeons that he shoots doubles now- and gets them. I would like to reiterate that this kid is 12-years-old. They’re going to start entering him in state championships. And what’s best of all is that he’s the nicest kid in the world.

It’s always fun hanging out with the Stenders. They do funny things, like, Alan was giving Dakota a ride in the 4-wheeler. That’s not the funny part. That funny part was when he drove straight toward me but turned at the last possible moment. Ha ha, funny things like that. Barbara and I get the worst of it because we’re the only Stender girls. When I leave these family gatherings, I know how a tormented cat must feel.
Saturday Night: "In Which Amy Attempts to Sneak Into a Party, but Goes About It in Completely the Wrong Manner"

There’s a party somewhere on the hill; I can hear the music. There’s a garage band covering Justin Timberlake, Lenny Kravitz and Puddle of Mudd. Offended that I wasn’t invited, I decide to crash the party. Dressing all in black, I shift myself in commando mode and head out to conduct some recon. I stealthily move through my backyard, up and over the garden and then through the brush into my neighbor’s property. I stay in the shadows of the sumac trees, crawling on my stomach. I can see the party three houses below from this vantage point. I wish I had thought to bring my night vision goggles. I wish I owned a pair of night vision goggles.

There are roughly 30 people in the driveway, dancing and waving colored lights. It’s the Funari’s place. This is going to be tough. I used to be best friends with one of their daughters, but the friendship inexplicably ended with the finish of high school. I was planning on sneaking right up to the party, materializing from the brush and tripping out the party goers (“Like, whoa. Where did she come from?”). I’d then grab a beer and join the head banging. Now, this option is no longer available to me because I would inevitably be seen by one of the Funari’s, who would tell their daughter how glad they are that she no longer socializes with a Rambo-wannabe.

Nevermind. I crawl further. The moon is shining a bit and I need stay in the moon shadows. There’s a nice patch of shade under a tree and I roll down the hill into it. Once I stop, my head is spinning and I can’t see straight. Dammit! I should have kept my eyes closed! Gripping the tree trunk, I steady myself. Finally I feel well enough to move again. There’s only one house now between the party and myself. I’ll have to pass pretty close to this house- in fact, right though their driveway. I crawl steadily and I wonder: “Do these people own a dog?” I guess I’ll find out soon enough. I make it to the end of the drive but- crap! I think someone saw me!

I run all the way home.

By the time I made it to my front door, panting, I think about how stupid I am. The people who I thought saw me were standing in the light. There’s no way they could have seen me in the darkness. It’s like a police lineup, they can’t see anything.

Now I’m at my desk and through the window I can hear the band playing Bon Jovi. I can also hear the crowd (more people must have arrived) singing along. “Whoooa, we’re half way the-re, Whooaa-OOOO, livin’ on a pray-er, take my hand, we’ll make it I swe-ar.”

With that classic over, what can everyone be screaming about now? Ah… Def Leopard’s “Pour some sugar on me.” I’m hot, sticky sweet, from my head to feet, yeah… What was the allure of this song, again? Maybe I’m just being petulant because I ran away like a coward. Dammit!

Wait- The music stopped. I wonder if someone called the police? I hope so. If it’s this loud at my house, the Funari’s neighbor’s windows must have imploded by now. Ha ha ha, serves them right for throwing a party anyway. They’re just lucky I wasn’t the one that called the cops just to get back at them for… almost seeing me. Whatever.
The Washington Post Book Club has chosen Neil Gaiman’s and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens as this month’s selection. An online discussion will take place on Thursday, September 25th. Read a review here.

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Occasionally at work, we get terrifying emails from the safety office. A worker somewhere in Illinois could be unloading a truck when, unwittingly, his foot gets caught up in a rope and he’s dragged around by heavy machinery. Things like that.

Most recently, we’ve been warned about a small monster known as the brown recluse spider. Along with a picture of the spider and text describing how dangerous it is, we receive several email attachments showing a time-lapse brown recluse spider bite on an unidentified man’s thumb. The bite is shown in day 3, day 6, day 9 and day 10. The email itself warns the “squeamish” reader not to open the attachments as they are “pretty gross”.

This only makes me more curious. Asking for it, I look at all the photos and nearly projectile vomit all over my monitor. Basically by day 10, the guy’s thumb looks like a big, purple bratwurst sausage that has just split open. Ugh. Barf. I suddenly get the feeling that things crawling all over my legs.

Then I remember 2 days before this email was sent, I had gotten Steve to come into my office and kill a big, brown spider. It was a recluse, I know it was! I almost died! I sent him an email about this and he replied with:

“nah, i don't think that was a brown recluse. we do have them around here, but usually under porches and decks and stuff. luckily for us the brown recluse truly is a recluse, and shies away from most things. i had a friend that was bitten when we were kids, and he spent quite a while in the hospital. have a great weekend....”

Thanks, I’ll have a great weekend… hiding in my bed! Aaagghh!!


Very interesting article from Wired concerning synthetic diamonds. Carter Clarke, founder of Gemesis, a Florida-based company manufacturing cultured diamonds, says "If you give a woman a choice between a 2-carat stone and a 1-carat stone and everything else is the same, including the price, what's she gonna choose? Does she care if it's synthetic or not? Is anybody at a party going to walk up to her and ask, 'Is that synthetic?' There's no way in hell. So I'll bite your ass if she chooses the smaller one."

Someone else makes the point:

"If you go into a florist and buy a beautiful orchid, it's not grown in some steamy hot jungle in Central America," he says. "It's grown in a hothouse somewhere in California. But that doesn't change the fact that it's a beautiful orchid."

"Do you care that it's not from De Beers?"

"De Beers?" he says. "Nobody cares if it's from De Beers. My clients just want a nice diamond."

Last night's democratic debate was the first ever to be televised in both English and Spanish. In keeping with this bilingual equilibrium, Neal Pollack has written today's blog entry en español. Saving you the trouble of doing it yourself, I've used an online translator to decipher his text:

"Yesterday night, the democraticos candidates by the office of President of the United States tenian their first debate. It was the first debate in our history conductada in two languages. In the honor of this important occasion, I am escribando my blog today in espanol.

Please, he excuses my horible gramatica. I do not have many opportunities to use espanol aqui in Roofing tiles. I think that you understand.

Anyway, vei the debate twice, a time in normal speed, and a extra-slow one to include/understand the secret gestures of the men and Senora Mosely-Braun. Despues five hours, I can conclude that Howard Dean is the second coming of Jesus Christ in this earth, and that the other candidates need to leave now or but to burn in fires of the time. Of course only my opinion.

I think that Joseph Lieberman was very strong quando decia, "we do not have enough soldiers in oriente.medio. We needed at least three milion, and if the pigs fly and if you choose president to me, I promise more than ten times than many." Then it showed its horns reunited the multitude, that jadeó.

I really thought the debate moved enough, specially during the one of debate concert pre, when Dianne Fienstein Christina French Eyrie kissed, and 50 Cent called John to Them Edwards P I M P of the year. They pretend to be rival, but they are really in the same label.

About general, I think that this will be an excellent series of twelve debates, as long as New York continues to have storms, with which maintaining To the Sharpton far. There is something about which type that I just do not trust."

[los españoles del extremo, comienzan inglés]

"I think, however, that if Richard Gephardt wants to have a chance, he needs to mute his rhetoric. President Bush's foreign policy has been, perhaps, unfortunate, but it's not very professional to call it a "monstrous fuck-up of Herculean proportions."

Whoops! My time on that free translation program ran out. Well, I hope you've all enjoyed this Spanish-language edition of The Neal Pollack Invasion. If you have trouble reading this because you're a stupid gringo, run the text through a translation program and have hours of laughs. Next week, we'll do it in French."

[les anglais de fin, commencent des français]

"Oh! I am afraid! I am afraid!"

Vous voyez que la traduction n'est pas parfaite. Je n'ai aucune idée ce qu'a voulu dire il par "roofing des tuiles". Et est-ce que n'importe qui sait ce qui un "jadeo" est? Je réellement ai manqué la discussion la nuit passée en raison de la douleur japonaise drôle et violente sur la TV.

I took Griffith to the vet yesterday to have the hair mats on the back of his thighs saved off. There were 5 or 6 rather large lumps and I felt bad that every time he sat down, he tilted a little to the left. I coaxed him in his carrier and drove over to the clinic. I love this clinic because they care (almost too much) about the pet and not so much the owner. When I arrived, they asked, “Griffith?” instead of “Miss Stender?” I’m shown into a room to wait for the technician. When he arrives, brandishing an electric shaver one might see in a barber shop, I drag Griffith from the carrier and put him into my lap. Griffith is part Manx and thus has only a tiny nubbin of a tail. He also has not been “fixed” yet. I say to the technician, “Please don’t shave off his tail or balls.” The man nods and sets to work. It’s all over within 5 minutes and I say, “Thank you, it was getting really bad.” He waves his hand dismissively and tells me that earlier that day, he had had a Persian in who was literally covered from the shoulders back with hair mats and burrs. He had to completely shave the cat bald and the fur ended up coming off in one big piece, like a turtle shell. Unbelievable. I brought Griffith home and he slept off the trauma for the rest of the evening.

I read more of The Crimson Petal and the White but was interrupted by Most Extreme Elimination Challenge on SpikeTV. Have you seen this show? It’s a Japanese reality series originally called “Takashi’s Castle” but comically dubbed into English. The contestants are made to perform some rather dangerous challenges, often with painful results. It’s hilarious. If you’d like to see it, SpikeTV is playing a marathon on September 7th (this coming Sunday) at 2pm.


A fully amphibious car has just been testing on the Thames in England. Outstanding. This is exactly what I need. A new elementary school is going to be built on land right across from my company and it’s been projected that traffic between 7:30-8:00am and 2:30-3:00pm will be beyond bad. But there’s a river right behind where I work. I was thinking about canoeing to work, but this aquatic car would save me time and look totally bad-ass at the same time. How awesome would it be to drive down the middle of the river, waving at people backed up across the bridge?
News from the Upper Valley: Shifting loads.


Poor little bastard.

The internet ruins yet another life.
The 2003 Hugo’s were just announced and Neil Gaiman took the best novella award for his children book, Coraline. Here’s a brief Guardian article about it. The thing about Neil Gaiman (I find) is that all the photos of him look as though he’s just been shaken from bed and asked to sit in front of a camera.

* * *

At Neil Gaiman’s blog, the issue of “slash” fiction has recently been addressed. I thought slash fiction was “slasher” fiction: horrific I’m-gonna-cut-you-up stories. According to this Gaiman:

Slash fiction is basically erotic fan fiction, normally TV series based, pairing off two (er or more I suppose) members of the same sex who don't normally couple for the cameras. From the "/" mark in the middle of "Kirk/Spock" or "K/S" fiction, which is where it all started. ("But Spock," said Kirk, huskily, realizing, finally, irrevocably, what his true self had been trying to tell him ever since the beginning of season one, "it's so huge. And it's green." "And it would be logical for you to... touch it, Captain," said Spock. And so on.)

(I wasn't making up the Knight Rider thing either: I remember a table selling printed fanzine slash fiction, before there was ever a world wide web, with several volumes of "Now impale yourself upon my throbbing gearshift" stories which I thumbed through with delighted and horrified amusement. But then, I was never a David Hasselhof fan.)

If you would like a bit more information, check out this article.

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And I’ve been enlightened a couple times this morning. A friend is currently doing some research down in Antarctica and she sends periodic updates. In her most recent, I’ve learned that the southern lights are called “aurora australis”. Isn’t that interesting? Of course, if I knew any Latin, I’d realize aurora australis literally translates into ‘southern dawn’ and aurora borealis into ‘northern dawn’. For some reason, I always thought (a) aurora didn’t occur in the southern hemisphere, or if they did, (b) the episodes would be called aurora borealis as well.

Also, she mentions how she saw Sirius, the dog star, the other night. I smacked myself on the forehead. That’s why in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry’s godfather Sirius changes into a dog. What a dum dum I am. But, hey, you learn something new everyday.