BADAT apology

Also, I would like to publicly apologize to my friend Kevin for my role in derailing the BADAT experiment. It was fun while it lasted but then I got tied up in other things and got sick and I lost my momentum.

So, my sincere apologies and hopefully we can make another crack at blogging at least once a day for a whole month at some future date!

Where there’s a will

Up, up and off with your bad self. Big bad wolf-whistle in a graveyard, no, past the mother-fuckin’ graveyard, grave stone tomb stone cold killer bees from outer space, the bee’s knees knee-cap capsule space capsule space race riots quiet riots “We’re not gonna take it!”

No, we’re not gonna take it. We’re not gonna take it, no more.

No more.

No more teachers no more rooks no bored leeches leechin’ hooks. Captain Hook Captain Crook Captain Crunch crunching his crunch berries No more!

No, more. I need more, mmmm. More is better, better off, off and on, on and on and on and on and so on and so so so damned on it’s off.

Off the clock, off the hook, how’d that mother Captain Hook crawl back, back in black, back to black, black and white, white power powerless powerlessness Loch Ness, nest nesting nesting instinct outstinct extinct extinction extraction traction tractors strange attractors strangers in the night nighttime is the fight or flight time.

Which brings us back to extinction. It stinks.

Stinks kinks kinky shit on a stick stick around!

Round the bend Bender Bending Rodriguez in the future Futuama lama ding dong.

Ding dong the rich are dead! The poor are dead, too but they can’t afford it bored it scored it down the middle class. Class action traction oh hell we’ve been here before.

Before the court full court press press on nails on rails rail against the dying of the light and the dark. Darkness is the new black and white off and on and on and up.

Up.

Up.

And away.

And a way.

Kevin, did something happen to you today to make you “beware the Ides of March”?

Results

All through the day, I wondered about the details of the task that had been set out for me. Do I set aside a specific time for the three hours? Is it just the ones I notice, or do I have to make a special effort to look at everyone in sight?

I knew Kevin wouldn’t be picky, in fact, he’d be interested in how I processed the instructions as much as he would be intrigued by the results.

In the morning on the bus, I forgot about my task until I saw someone wearing red and black together. But then I decided that I didn’t want to start the clock on first noticing. I wanted to start a timer and then notice.

At work I spent most of the day in a basement with, at most, four or five other people. Not a good test. I did make a run outside to take our work van in for a quick service, but there wasn’t a lot of opportunities for people-watching while I drove back and forth. So that was out.

I did go out for lunch – but that’s only one hour, at most. Not enough time. Wait – maybe Kevin meant three hours total, not three consecutive hours? But that seemed too much of a reach.

Slowly the day drained away. And that evening I was planning on spending with Kevin, the man who had set the task out for me. It seemed almost unfair to perform the task while trying to enjoy the evening with my friend.

And on the other hand, it was perfect.

So he picked me up shortly after 4:00 PM, and I told him that I had not yet done the red-and-black-observing. I told him it would start at 5:00 PM and run until 8:00 PM.

At dinner, I had to keep interrupting my story to make a notation on my iPhone (the only thing I had handy to make notes on, lacking a pen and paper – no way could I keep track of the totals for red-wearers, black-wearers and both-red-and-black-wearers for three whole hours), which caused Kevin to smile, every time.

He manfully tried to not direct my attention, although he slipped once or twice. But he was a good sport about it. And it caused many light moments.

At one point, as we were walking through a park, we were approached by a woman walking three dogs. In the fading daylight, I tried to determine if she had red or black on, or both, and I was surprised when she looked our direction, appeared to look at me, and smile and said “Hi!” as if she knew me. Um, actually, she knew Kevin, had once worked with him, and they stopped to exchange pleasantries while I secretly put her down in the “both” category.

And, damn, navy blue is hard to tell from black at a distance. Just sayin’.

In the end, the final tallies are:

Red: 4
Black: 20
Both: 10

Kevin, what does a coffee table say?

Best value

I don’t really buy things online. I’ve sold things online, and I remember buying a GPS unit from eBay once, but it arrived broken and I had to return it.

But one thing I do do, a lot, is online dating. More in the past than lately. But yeah.

So the best thing I ever got through craigslist would have to be… Making out with a ballerina on my couch.

I’ll always treasure that memory.

Kevin, write about the cover story on the 12 November 2008 Willamette Week and offer your opinion about the topic.

Tooth and nail

There was the time I and my sister brushed Kevin’s teeth.

Sadly, many details have been lost in the mists of time.

Kevin was probably around 2 or 2 1/2 years old, which would make me around 8 to 8 1/2 years old, since Kevin and I were born exactly 6 years apart, to the day. That would make my sister 9 to 9 1/2 years old, which seems kinda young to be babysitting a 2-year-old, so maybe we were older, because I’m almost positive that there were no adults around and my sister and I were in charge of Kevin.

I remember being there in the bathroom and helping Kevin get ready for bed, and my sister getting his toothbrush and looking for toothpaste.

Maybe the parents were busy and elsewhere in the house, or apartment. Yeah, it was more of an apartment. When I first started thinking about this memory, I was sure we were in our apartment, by which I mean Lisa and mine, but it’s possible that we were in his, by which I mean his and his parents, apartment. Because why else would Kevin’s toothbrush be there?

But perhaps he was staying the night and my sister found the toothbrush in some kind of bag or kit, a travel kit. Because next she pulled out a pale yellow tube and applied some of the paste inside to the toothbrush.

I remember the look on Kevin’s young face, sitting on the edge of the counter in his footed pajamas, and looking at me and my sister in silence as she asked him to open up, and then proceeded to brush his teeth for him. He did not appear to enjoy the experience. I was almost eye level with him, his head only a little higher than mine, even though I was standing and he was sitting on the high bathroom basin.

And I’m pretty sure that I was the one who read the yellow tube and discovered that this “toothpaste” was manufactured by a company called “Desitin”. Which I announced to my sister.

Who reacted in shock and laughter!

Desitin doesn’t make toothpaste. It makes diaper rash ointment. Which was now in Kevin’s mouth.

It was a simple mistake.

I mean, really, why would such young kids have responsibility for an even younger child? There’s bound to be mistakes made. It might’ve been so much worse, but now it’s just funny.

At least, I think it’s funny.

Kevin, relate your earliest memory.

Defining moment


Bal • a • cast (BAL • uh • kast): 1. verb, tr.The specific act of throwing a pamphlet, esp. a ballot for voting, against a wall or through a window, as if in anger, disgust, or chagrin at the options displayed thereon. 2. verb, intr. A metaphoric way of describing anger, disgust or chagrin at the available options for voting.

“If I go through one more primary season holding my nose and voting for the least of two evils, I swear I will balacast so hard I will never get my cleaning deposit back.”

Kevin, write about the top, front page headline on today’s Oregonian and give your personal perspective on the topic.

Pine Street, park, mope

Tracy and I were walking back to our hotel from the concert late last night, dark streets in an unfamiliar downtown. A white sedan, maybe a decade old, pulled up alongside us and I heard a man’s voice call out. “Excuse me, can you tell us how to get to–” I stepped towards the sidewalk, between Tracy and the car, and yelled, my voice cracking and hoarse from yelling lyrics I knew well. “I’m sorry, we’re not from here!” As the car drove off I turned to Tracy and laughed, “Why am I always getting asked directions?”

Jack and Ben were lost in an unfamiliar city, driving in circles among tall buildings that blocked the gray sky. Jack, piloting their battered sedan, implored Ben to ask for help but so far Ben had refused. Jack, impatient, decided to pull near a man in red and black with a snappy hat walking with a redheaded woman in a sky blue shirt. Ben sullenly rolled down the window and started to ask directions, but the man lurched towards the car and yelled out menacingly, “You’re not from around here!” Jack, startled, accelerated away as Ben rolled up the window against the cold night air. A full five minutes passed before Ben finally glared at his friend and grumbled, “I told you we shouldn’t have bothered the natives!”

Kevin, write a post as if you were an animal, but without explaining which animal. Give enough information for the reader to guess.

BADAT Day 6: Amphihoury

My apologies for this one being late. Yesterday Tracy and I drove to Seattle to see one of our favorite bands, Harvey Danger, play their 10th anniversary show. I’ll have a separate post on that later.

Also, I did not finish the nonsense poem, or “amphigoury”, that Kevin challenged me to. So to keep moving, I’m posting what I had, incomplete.

Mr. McBlogger
lived with a logger
on Stark, in a 10th story condo.

Said the young logger
to his roommate Mcblogger
“I crave a burrito, mas mondo.”

Kevin, Google your name, click “I’m feeling lucky”, and blog about the result.

Five alive

Kevin asked, what are my top five favorite stories across all media?

Being a writerly sort of fellow, I think I’d like to answer this in a slightly different way.

In no particular order, my five favorite types of stories:

  • I like stories about journeys, real or metaphysical, or, in some cases, both. Stories that take the main character along a path, where they grow from a naive young inexperienced child, to an older, wiser, tested adult. It may not be the first example that I encountered, but the story that had the largest impact on me in this vein is the Original Star Wars Trilogy, a.k.a., the adventures of Luke Skywalker. Digging in to the inspirations for that story, I encountered old Joe Campbell and his explication of the Hero’s Journey, also known as the monomyth. I found J. R. R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy chronologically after Star Wars, but remember reading “The Hobbit” before. The Lord of the Rings trilogy, specifically Frodo’s trials as Ring-Bearer, have obvious parallels to Luke’s trials facing his dark father.
  • I like stories that take one idea, usually a Big Idea, and explore all of its implications. The seminal story of this type, for me, was Larry Niven’s “Ringworld”, a sci-fi epic about humans and advanced aliens exploring a giant artificial world, a ring around a star, the most massive engineering project imaginable. The people in the story are almost dwarfed just by the idea and the details of how such a world could even come into existence, and the novel is just a small piece of Niven’s Known Universe, a galactic history that only peripherally includes Earth and extends from the distant past to 3 billion years into the future. It’s a spectacular example of world-building, and the bits and pieces of the KU still live in my head. Obviously Tolkien’s world is another example, as is the Star Wars universe or Star Trek. Sadly, Star Trek is a bit more fragmented and discontinuous than the others, thanks to Paramount’s greediness in selling off parts of the Star Trek franchise.
  • I like stories about hard choices and the consequences thereof. “Casablanca” is the story of a hard-bitten cynic who is faced with the choice between re-uniting with the woman he first loved, and helping a man who could save millions of people. Unfortunately, he can only choose one of them, because the woman is married to the man he needs to help. Ouch. Other characters faced with such a tough choice include Desmond and Penny from TV’s “Lost”, or (I am not kidding) Philip J. Fry trying to decide between saving the universe and his love for Captain Turanga Leela. Seriously, I’m not kidding – that animated television show produced some very touching moments in its four-year run, and I can’t wait to see it continue on DVD.
  • I like stories of an underdog that triumphs over powerful forces. Average, or even sub-average people, trying to make their way in a world they can’t control. An atypical example of this is the movie “Office Space”, where the main character, Peter Gibbons is trying to deal with the soul-crushing beigeness of office work. Joe from “Joe vs. The Volcano” takes a similar journey in his quest to make the life-threatening “brain cloud” mean something. The main character of “The Fuck-Up”, Arthur Nersesian’s hilarious first novel, is also trying to find some meaning in a menial life. At least one of my unpublished novels is a Portland-based homage to “The Fuck-Up”, actually. Philip Dick’s characters also mostly fall into this category, although the world in a PKD novel is usually far, far more chaotic than, say, Nersesian’s Brooklyn or Mike Judge’s Initech. In fact, in a PKD novel, the world may transform or even cease to exist entirely.
  • Lastly, there are stories that tell a well-known history or describe a well-known place, but reveal far more beneath the surface than most know. Tim Powers is a master of this – his version of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Las Vegas seems familiar, except that Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein were not just scientists, but magicians of the highest power, and the smelly homeless that wander the streets in their gray clothes are in fact zombies and ghosts who have accreted their bodies from the trash that surrounds them. Powers’ colleague and friend, James Blaylock, has also written novels like this, where the Holy Grail is, in fact, an origami paper cup folded from a priceless drawing. PKD’s greatest novel, “Valis” is a masterful turn on this, where Horselover Fat, PKD’s alter-ego in the novel, discovers that the world in which we live is actually ancient Rome, and that Richard Nixon is really a Roman Caesar.

Sorry, Kevin, I couldn’t just pick five! I’m all un-decide-y.

Kevin, for Day 6, take a picture, post it, and write about it.