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and s-integrator

march 31, 2003

Muffled Excuses From A Messy Room:

1. Houston we have a problem: inability to clean room because the rocket I put underneath my own ass to do the cleaning failed to ignite. Conclude that poor design by rocket manufacturer is responsible, and that you cannot find good help these days.

2. The maid has quit due to ill health: specifically massive heart failure caused by shock at seeing pile of old library books still not returned to the library, despite repeated requests. Conclude that maid is not literary type, and that you cannot find good help these days.

3. Despite leaving individually wrapped meat pies and tiny glasses of milk beside the fireplace with note, the promised army of elves did not appear to clean-up the mess while I slept. Conclude that old fairy story about cobbler and elves who mend his shoes for him is a total lie, and that you cannot find good elf help these days.

4. Unable to find cleaning supplies because the cleaning-supplies cabinet is too messy and crammed full of other stuff. And consequently, if I open the cleaning-supplies cabinet door everything will fall out on top of me and I will therefore be too injured to use the cleaning-supplies anyway - so there! Conclude that best plan of action is to leave apartment and forget all about it.

stephenb 11:44 - [Link] - Comments ()
When anonymous gas company factotums call me up and ask impertinent questions such as, "Why have you not paid your gas bill?" I have to remind them that I am only the puppet ruler of my kingdom, and that there are other, darker forces in control.
"Well is there someone else in the household we can speak to?"
"They are spirits of the air, The Unseen, invisible to the human eye, and they only speak a strange archaic language similar to that written down in the ancient scrolls of..."
"Look, pal, it's only thirty-three bucks."
"Okay. I will make sure they force me to write a check at gunpoint and mail it off."
Why are these people always bothering me?
All my life I have been waited on hand and foot. All my life charitable souls - good, kind people who realize just how important it is for peace of mind that I have the time to kick-back and do nothing at all - have cleaned-up after me. And I have always believed that a maid should be seen and not heard. That is my unshakeable faith in human kind.
These days I find my apartment in rather a mess, and I wonder to myself: where have all the benevolent folk of yore gone? It is so hard to find someone to do something for nothing in this Age of Gas-Bill Collectors and those who would rather go to the gym than sweep my floor and give my toilet the once over with some bleach. Dark days indeed.

stephenb 09:14 - [Link] - Comments ()
march 28, 2003
I find myself sent spinning down the twisted, shadowy Kafkaesque halls of memory by a sex quiz I receive in my email inbox. Question 5: Where is the strangest place you have ever made love?
For me, the answer is undoubtedly my own bed. My bed is an extremely weird place. I sometimes enter my own bed fully expecting to find that lost tribes from the darkest continents have pulled all the blankets over to their side.
And so, my memories.
Many years ago - my girlfriend of the time was coming over to stay the night, at least that was my plan. However, like many bachelors, I had somehow been unable to find the time to wash my sheets for quite a while. So, as any self-respecting guy would, I went out to the store to buy new ones. Of course, I could probably have done my laundry in the time it took me to get to the store and back, but... well.
At the store, I quickly grabbed a pair of new sheets off the shelf - any pair would do - paid for them, and went home. Making my bed, I unfold the new sheets and I am horrified to discover that there is a big picture of the Tweety-Pie cartoon character embroidered all over them. Very embarrassing.
This coitus-cartoona-interruptus has been an ongoing theme in my life, for, if we go even further back -
In high school, if you wanted to sleep with someone and your parents didn't go out very often, general practice was to pitch a tent in the woods nearby.
My good friend David was a young man who found himself in such a situation. However, he had no tent. But he had seen one in my Dad's garage and asked me if he could borrow it. Sure: I had been given the tent for my birthday some time before and had never used it, now was the time, a friend in need, etc.
Anyway, David makes a time to meet the object of his desire in the woods, and I will bring the tent over a few hours before and help him erect it.
At the appointed spot we pull the canvas out of it's case....and... and... it's a novelty wigwam for kids. Who knew?

stephenb 15:27 - [Link] - Comments ()
On my stomach there are a series of freckly moles that mirror exactly The Big Dipper star constellation. As a young man I thought this was maybe a sign that I was, you know, "The Chosen One".
However, since The Chosen One usually comes to a sticky end, I began to hope that perhaps my freckly moles meant that I was "The One Signified To Choose Who The Chosen One Will Be" rather than "The One" himself.
As merely the facilitator in the choosing of whom the Chosen One will be, I could simply point my finger at the appropriate candidate and then skip to Canada before all hell broke loose... but then, look what happened to John The Baptist.
I didn't want to end up with my head on a plate so I began to revise my role once more.
Perhaps my freckly moles foretold my role as "The Guy Who Makes The Choice To Tell The Romans Where The Chooser And The Chosen One Are."
I mean, we can all use an extra forty pieces of silver every now again. Unfortunately there are no Romans around anymore, so these days I seem to have fallen out of the choosing loop a little bit.

stephenb 08:58 - [Link] - Comments ()
march 27, 2003
To be absolutely frank, is it not time that someone finally wrote a murder mystery where the proof was literally in the pudding.
Obviously, the hideous homicide, or chef-icide, would be committed in a kitchen. Just before he dies, slumped over the spice rack, the victim - with a bloody kitchen knife still protruding from his back - somehow manages to insert the killer's name into the pudding he was in the middle of making. At least, that's the only clue the detective has to work with. But maybe it's just a red herring (cooked in a white wine sauce and served over a deathbed of rice pilaf).
Here are some examples of possible plots:
If the pudding happened to be a plum pudding, we can easily pin the rap on Professor Plum, unless, of course, he's being framed.
Or it could be a Black Forest Gateau - an African-American called Uncle Ben and his accomplice Aunt Jemima are arrested - and we can introduce questions of racial profiling into the mystery's subtext.
Little Jack Horner is obviously a suspect, sticking his thumb in and tampering with the evidence, but the Pastry Cook is just a patsy.
And here are some book titles to be going on with:
Recipe For A Murder
The Poundcake Of The Baskervilles
The Man With The Golden Whisk
Deadly Ingredients
Miss Marple And The Maple Syrup Killer
The Cookie Cutter Did It
The Flour of Death
And my personal favorite, The Maltese Blancmange
I could go on...

stephenb 13:27 - [Link] - Comments ()
march 26, 2003
Tales From The Gin Machine

My first gig as the one man David Bowie RockenRoll Chameleon Tribute Band went extremely badly.
Obviously, "being" David Bowie RockenRoll Chameleon on stage demands not only an extensive knowledge of the maestro's highly diverse oeuvre, but also requires almost superhuman talents as a quick-change artiste; and looking back on the show, I think this is where it all went wrong for me.
I began modestly - wearing a longhaired wig with a tight-fitting sailor shirt and bell-bottom trousers, an acoustic guitar slung sullenly around my shoulders. Thus attired I performed a passable version of Life On Mars
As the last chord echoed around the auditorium, I rushed backstage,
slipped into a pair of diamante underpants, wedged a wah-wah pedal in my armpit, slapped a streak of red and blue paint on my face, then ran out again and did Ziggy Stardust.
"Ziggy played guitaaaaaaaar!" I wailed, and it was back to the dressing room - desperately out of breath by now with a restless crowd waiting - hustle myself into loud checked shirt and hip huggers, wipe the crap off my face and back out again for a Young Americans duet with a vioce box.
I could barely stand there and croak, never mind sing falsetto.
Somehow I managed to get through it, but then the horrible realization dawned that the next number was a bloody medley!
Rebel Rebel, Golden Years, Boys Keep Swinging, and finally Ashes To Ashes in full clown costume and make-up.
Needless, to say it was a total disaster.
I was still in the middle of singing "hot tramp I love you so" - while playing a synthesizer with one hand, drums with my feet, and strumming with my other hand as I was trying to fit my clown shoes on over my Thin White Duke socks and pulling my novelty Diamond Dogs thong off at the same time - when my mind went blank. I forgot the lyrics to the songs, tripped over my thong, knocked the microphone stand over and fell into the orchestra pit.
Someone yelled "Ground control to Major Tom!" and that was the end of it.

stephenb 10:06 - [Link] - Comments ()
march 25, 2003
A True Story
Something New For The Stephenhead

I made rather an embarrassing faux pas earlier today as I was purchasing my morning coffee at Dunkin' Donuts on Boylston Street. There were two police cruisers parked outside, always a sight to make an innocent man nervous, but no doubt the cops were just picking up refreshments for the car chase they were planning later on.
Anyway, I walked in, waited in an orderly manner behind the cops until it was my turn to order, strode confidently up to the counter like someone with nothing to hide, and then loudly asked for a "small cop of coffee" as one of the shorter Gentlemen In Blue collected his change beside me.
A truly wince-inducing experience. I would have wished for theground to open up and swallow me, but I'm not sure that they mop the floor very often at Dunkin' Donuts, so God knows what the ground beneath it is like.

stephenb 13:49 - [Link] - Comments ()
march 24, 2003
Stink War On Film Bore Moore

Precision stink bombing of Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker slash best-selling author Michael Moore is not necessary; his ego is so huge that you can hit him from any range, even if you have a nasty squint and double vision. He is not hard to find either, just aim your stink weapons wherever you hear the loudest, most obnoxious self-righteous drone; that will be Michael Moore.
Perhaps you are worried that you might hit innocent civilians when you throw your stink missile at Michael Moore. Perhaps, you think, he is using innocent moviegoers as a human shield. Do not worry; my intelligence officers inform me that his entourage is confined exclusively to other documentary filmmakers who seek funding for their next tedious project, and who think they have a better chance of getting money if they associate with the Michael Moore regime: these people are legitimate targets and should be targeted with the stink bomb wherever they are found.
If possible, you are encouraged to stink bomb Michael Moore while he is slouching disagreeably at the Oscar podium, boring everyone with his ridiculous and self-important opinions.
You are doing the world a favor, and humanity thanks you.
Meanwhile, the Oscar ceremony would have made much better viewing if it was just Steve Martin stand-up all night with no other celebrities involved.
Does anyone really care what a bunch of namby-pamby thespians think about world events, anyway? If you do, you should return to Planet Earth from Planet Hollywood double quick, and cancel your subscription to People magazine while you're at it.

stephenb 11:14 - [Link] - Comments ()
march 21, 2003
It is a great pity that Saddam did not decide to get out of Iraq while the getting was good. Sending dictators into exile has always been a great success, and has often provided the rest of the world with a number of interesting and entertaining word games.
For instance, Napolean's time on the isle of Elba produced the world's best loved palindrome: "Able was I ere I saw Elba" - and many people realize that his famous line, "Not tonight Josephine", is actually a coded anagram of "I surrender because I am too short and fat to fight anymore."
Everyone is aware also, I think, that board game aficionados would not be blessed with Scrabble had Baphomet the Bulgarian Butcher not been sent to Coventry after his blood-soaked regime was overthrown, where, of course, he invented the triple word score during his long hours of non-butchering boredom.
And it is a well known fact that Vlad the Impaler's years of decline gave us the alphabetical version (suitable for ages 12 and up) of Pin The Tail on the Donkey.

stephenb 15:03 - [Link] - Comments ()
march 18, 2003
Logan International Airport is a fun-filled Disneyland for the adult traveler, particularly Terminal B, which has a tremendous carnival atmosphere. The lines for the rides are extremely long and you may never actually get on the ride of your choice, but the seemingly endless wait is absolutely worth it. A true rollercoater ride of despair and anxiety. For sheer spine-chilling thrills, nothing beats Logan Airport Mardi Gras.
There is a Bearded Lady behind the check-in counter, and the World's Smallest Man collects tickets at the gate until the Boy with the Monkey Face comes and tells you the gate number and time of departure have been changed. What is the new time of departure? Why not ask Mystic Meg in the fortune telling tent - because nobody else knows. Meanwhile, the rest of the freak show cavorts gaily around you as you stand in line for hours and hours.
Best of all, the baggage carousel is exactly like a real fairground carousel: your suitcases arrive desperately clinging to a rickety pole stuck in the back of a plastic dolphin weaving up and down in a whirl of colored flashing lights and barrel organ music, and they just keep going around and around forever and ever. It would be nice if the airport authorities provided one of those tobacco-chewing, multi-tattooed, greasy assistants to make sure all the bags have a good time and none of them falls of. But that would probably be asking too much.
Actually, they lost my bag. I haven't see it for days. Perhaps it has run off to join the circus. Who knows? I don't.

stephenb 10:39 - [Link] - Comments ()
march 13, 2003
Non-stop to Amarillo: only $315 R/T

Tomorrow morning I take to the skies, borne aloft on the silver wings of the metallic bird named Delta, or Bankruptica Airlinus as it is known to hardcore ornithologists.
One of the hazards of flying these days is that - despite demanding a window seat - somehow, I always end up in the row that has no view.
According to the Captain, as they munch their peanuts, my fellow passengers on the opposite side of the aisle can gaze casually out of their cabin windows and see breathtaking, snow-capped, fir-studded mountain scenery; mysterious Alpine groves where hooded Druids perform ancient fiery rites; vast oceans teeming with leaping swordfish and Spanish galleons ferrying caskets of golden doubloons to the New World; a three-hundred times life-size model of Rita Hayworth with no clothes on; Asian Disneyland and the Great Wall of China.
All I get is a bunch of smoggy clouds and one of those spooky gremlin things crouched on the plane's wing chanting, "you are going to crash, you are going to crash."
It isn't fair.

stephenb 10:19 - [Link] - Comments ()
march 12, 2003
I have just taken my first yoga class, and I have to say it is the worst martial art I have ever practised. At the beginning of the class I went into my famous attacking "ha-cha" posture but everybody else just sat cross-legged on the floor. I thought it was some kind of deceptive defensive tactic to lull me into a false sense of security.
So I circled them in silence for about fifteen minutes, ready to strike at any moment, sizing up the opposition and trying to catch their eyes while they pretended to ignore me.
Clever, clever, I thought, but not clever enough for me.
And then, suddenly, with the stealth and fury of a tiger, I attacked.
It took me roughly sixty seconds to kick all their faces in. They could do nothing to protect themselves because they had tied themselves up in these weird knot poses and were breathing in this really bizarre way. I was even able to knock the so-called "expert" unconcious with two simple chops to her neck.
I used to think aikido was a crap way of fighting, but yoga takes the biscuit.
stephenb 15:43 - [Link] - Comments ()
march 11, 2003
After my recent and extensive past-life regression therapy sessions, I am disappointed to announce that I have learned that this is my first human incarnation, and all my previous lives have been confined exclusively to the animal kingdom.
I was hoping that I might have been, you know, the Count of Monte Cristo or Robinson Crusoe, somebody interesting like that. A swashbuckling matinee idol who, you know, might be able to cast some valuable light on my present existence.
But it was not to be.
Instead, when I listened back to the tape of the session, rather than hearing the recollections of heroic deeds and hair-raising exploits I expected, my past lives sounded more like feeding time at the zoo.
All I could hear were these animal noises like barks, yaps, and grunts.
A voice did break through at one point - right after the laughing hyena - a voice claiming to be a sea monkey called Herbert, although the doctor said that it was just a manifestation of disruptive energy, and that I should pay no attention to what Herbert said.
There was a duck too. But the doctor said I should ignore that also because, well, you can imagine what the duck said.

stephenb 12:34 - [Link] - Comments ()
march 10, 2003
The Little Shop Around The Corner

When in Boston you absolutely must visit the Museum Of Food on fashionable Newbury Street. The naive tourist can easily confuse the building with a regular grocery store because they look so similar, but fortunately, the stench of decomposition should guide you to the right door - "just follow the flies on the fungus trail." as the locals say. Besides rotten meats and vegetables, the museum possesses the world's largest collection of milks from bygone eras, all authentically curdled and encased in leaky cartons that have made a mess of the antique refrigeration unit. Other popular sights include a fine selection of stale breads featuring different gaily-colored molds, rusted cans of soup with the labels missing, and a vintage box of smashed up and unidentifiable crackers from the turn of the century. My personal favorite is the greenish-looking chocolate that has melted out of the package and oozed all over the dusty shelving, and apples so bruised they appear to have been beaten up by a gang of bitter and vicious melons.
Don't complain if the cases in the Deli wing of the museum are occasionally empty, this is due to the chicken and beef exhibits being temporarily removed for repair and restoration work.
The most interesting fact about the Museum Of Food is that their entire collection is apparently available for purchase. It might seem that this adventurous policy would eventually deplete the Museum's stock, but luckily most customers who buy an exhibit usually return it within a few days so others can view it later.

stephenb 11:17 - [Link] - Comments ()
march 07, 2003
House Of The Seven Mables

After the MC Escher fiasco, I needed to find another interior designer to redecorate my house - and fast.
So. Scanning the classifieds section of the local paper, I saw an ad for de Chirico and Co. and decided to call them up. What the hell, I thought, they can't do any worse than the optical illusion I am living in at the moment.
Giorgio de Chirico himself came over with some sketches and unrolled them on the kitchen table. "These are my ideas." he said with a particularly strange Italian accent and a faraway look in his eyes.
"Basically," he told me, "I am thinking of going for the open-plan and no roof look with a Perpetual Night theme. Lots of deep shadows complemented by a palette of melancholy colors and alabaster. A sprinkling of statues would be chic, perhaps an Ariadne or two, you know, on a nice plinth. And why not be devils and scatter a few busts of Julius Caesar here and there. I'm also thinking we should knock down all these walls and replace them with some tasteful Doric columns, and, you know, a few Greek arches and tunnels that lead nowhere, very fall of Ancient Rome. And all the surfaces should slope at weird angles to one another. That's very important. A very lovely effect."
"That's all very well Mr. de Chirico." I said. "But what about this enormous dead fish thing you've got going on?"
"It's a dead haddock. in right now with the Town, Country, and Seaport crowd." he replied. "Dead haddock is the new dead salmon. The smell will disappear in a few weeks. No need to worry about that."
"Well, couldn't we make it a dead flat fish, like a plaice or something, that way I could use it as a throw rug or something. I mean, at the moment it's blocking the entire kitchen."
"A plaice! A plaice!" he screamed. "Don't be ridiculous! Philistine!" And then he picked up the plans and stormed out.
Of course, this rather left me back at square one. However, there is this guy called Rene Magritte who did some very nice window treatments for my friend's apartment. Maybe I will give him a call.

stephenb 18:30 - [Link] - Comments ()
Lies And Deception On The Astral Plane

The women at work have been delving in to the mysteries of life again. Somehow they got hold of a book that tells you what color aura you have. Very Californian.
Apparently I am Lavender, which makes me sound like some sort of car air freshener or female deoderant or something.
According to the book, Lavender people believe in fairies, elves, and all manner of Hobbity nonsense.
For the record, I would like to point out that this is a complete lie that I utterly refute, and I will deny it to the last breath in my - allegedly - Lavender body.
Another aspect of Lavenderism - if we are to believe the wisdom of the not-so-ancient West Coast granola eaters - is an inability to focus on anything for any great length of time. And I have to admit, in the case of books that tell you what color your aura is, this particular Lavender personality trait rings absolutely true for me.
stephenb 15:53 - [Link] - Comments ()
march 04, 2003
Tall tales from the riverbank

Since I am a far superior lyricist to Oscar Hammerstein, I have decided to rewrite the words to Ole Man River in a contemporary manner.
Gone, nay stricken from the sheet music, are the politically incorrect references to cotton pickin', bale liftin', and barge totin' on the Mississippi.
My new libretto will contain images of day-to-day existence upon a modern waterway like Boston's River Charles: these will include prophylactic flotsam floating on a stagnant tide; lots about pollution and industrial effluents; dead fish and weird looking mutant bottom feeders; over subscribed Booze Cruises trying to force their way through brown watery sludge while someone is sick over the side; silly little yuppie yachts capsizing as someone shouts "The picnic basket has its own special lifejacket!"; and the murder of nasty little snitch by drowning in concrete shoes. There may even be room for a word or two about an inflatable canoe.
Anyway, the final verse will reach a crescendo with the immortal lines:
I'm tired of livin'
But I'm scared of dyin'
And Ole man River
He just keeps providing anchorage for six hundred tons of commercial shippiiiiing!!!

I have no idea how this will fit in with the rest of the musical, but what the heck. I'm an artist not a show promoter.

Next week we shall re-orchestrate The Flight of the Bumblebee for an adventurous and virtuoso spoons playing progidy.
stephenb 13:53 - [Link] - Comments ()
The Bones Of Romance

Today I find myself wafted along the street by fragrant zephyrs. I am in love and the Kashmiri Love Song is playing full blast in my heart. You may have seen the object of my affections - at least an artist's reconstruction of her head - on the cover of Archeological Review.
But forget about the media's paint and ink job, what about the real girl - Jane Doh as she is known in the Antiquities and Primitive Pathology Department of the University, where she is kept in an airtight box marked "Not for display: nothing here really, just a few Neanderthal bits and pieces."
Well, Jane doesn't look bad for being sweet six thousand years old, considering she has spent most of that time encased in mud on the floor of a prehistoric French cave with only the fossilized remains of her last meal to keep her company. I only wish I could have shared that meal with her. Nuts and berries may seem rather conventional fare but I bet Jane made something pretty special out of them, probably cooked in her famous wooly mammoth-hoof sauce with twig garnish or something like that.
Jane's bone structure is especially fine, don't you think - what's left of it anyway - just a few skull fragments and a jaw bone really, but I am not one whose emotions trade on appearances.
I think Sir Thomas Browne's famous work Urn Burial mentions something about "Who hath the oracle of his bones and whither his ashes are scattered, etc."
Something like that.

stephenb 09:55 - [Link] - Comments ()
march 03, 2003
My pitch to Hollywood

Frankly, I can make a far superior film about the gangs of New York than Martin Scorcese since my prescription for cinematic art is a highly commercial mixture of hardboiled historical fact, Clockwork Orange ultra-violence, and fairytale Disney whimsy. There's no room for this Hollwood pretty boy effeminate mincing excuse for a hooligan in my action-packed and ketchup-soaked extravaganza.
Alright then, here goes:
The action takes place in New York's notorious Five Hilary Clintons district during the infamous cell phone prohibition riots at the turn of the century.
To keep himself company, a lonely Italian immigrant cobbler named Danieldayio creates a small boy from old scraps of shoe leather and Dr. Scholl's deodorizing insoles. He calls his new friend Leonardoio, and every time Leonardoio tells a lie or smashes someone in the face with a broken bottle his column inches in People magazine grow fifteen feet longer. There is also this weird alien talking grasshopper beast thing called Jimminy Pickit who eats children and swears a lot.
Love interest is provided by Cameron O' Diaz who acts as if she has been asleep ever since she got off the boat. She snoozes in an impenetrable slum hidden from sight by millions of unread copies of Details magazine.

stephenb 09:09 - [Link] - Comments ()