Wednesday, November 30, 2011

graph paper notes

Pearl Buck?
Charles Dexter Ward?

For the book, give characters ticks (nerves) or other maladies, real or imagined.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

random things written on graph paper

Ovid's "Art of Love"?
the lurking future may not come at all
plug hunters
tiny triangular sandwiches

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Today I Did Something Really Dumb

Today I did something incredibly dumb.  Not costly dumb, not anything with serious consequences, just something really dumb.

I had to drop our car off at the mechanic's at their overnight drop-off place, where you leave the keys after hours so in the morning they can get to work on it right away.  So I drive up to the garage and they have a key drop-off slot.  I get out of the car and lock the door.

But as soon as I go to drop they keys off, I find they have these envelopes where you have to fill out a form and it says, "You must sign here." 

Well, I had nothing to write with; the pens were in the car, and the car was locked, so I walked to the grocery store (nearby, just a couple of blocks away) and I get a pen from a cashier, fill out the form and walk back.

I put the keys in the envelope and put the envelope in the slot, and walk home.

Now I know you see what I missed.  I had the keys the whole time!  Something about the pending putting-the-keys-in-the-slot made me think I couldn't get back into the car.  I had the keys in my pocket the entire time. 

I didn't realize my mistake, even after returning to the mechanic's place, putting the keys in the envelope/form and putting the keys in the slot.

I didn't realize my mistake during the walk home.

I only realized my mistake while telling my daughter about why it took me so long to get back later that night.  I started telling her and I suddenly realized how dumb I had been.  I still can't believe I had the keys, but thought for some reason I couldn't get back into the car to get a pen.

Friday, November 18, 2011

My Bold Statement against Censorship

Here is my bold statement against the bipolar state of sex in consumerism and half-assed censorship!  They try to hide the cover of Cosmopolitan with a metal plate, but they cannot stop me from expressing my distain for all things prudish and cowardly!  What a rebel I am!  I put a copy of Cosmopolitan over every other magazine on the magazine rack.  Try to hide the objectification of women now!  They would sell us the image of glamour, but they would hide it from us at the same time?  Not with Dan Manning, performance artist on the loose!  What a bold statement!  What avant-garde disdain for provincial sensibilities!   

Or, I was just bored, whatever.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday, November 04, 2011


Everything in the man-made world is an idea or thought. The wording of a billboard, the font used on a website. Roads and walls and books and plastic happy meal toys are all based on the thoughts of other human beings. The screen you are staring into, the windshields you peer out of are all the result of ideas piled onto ideas onto ideas, back to the development of glass to the idea that fire might be controlled and made useful. The very thoughts that we think are the result of the thoughts of others.

Our habits are based on the habits of others. What we find acceptable is based on the subset of activities found acceptable by the humans around us.

But WHY does the man-made world even exist? There was a point not long ago when we just scrounged around for food, reproduced, and fended off threats from cold, predators, and other bands of humans. Back then there was just one or two motivating factors:

Where am gonna get more food?
How am I gonna make babies?

Now we have specialized skills, or at least, we are put to specialized tasks. We fix roads or drive trucks or sell trucks or design trucks. We paint or preach or type numbers into spreadsheets. We hunker down in cubicle dungeons, or fly jet airplanes. Humans have decided that other people can grow the crops and raise the cattle, others can slaughter the cattle and others can drive the meat around. Others can process it and package it. Others can cook it. Others can bring it to our table. We get to enjoy it with steak sauce.

How many different ideas are involved to make it possible to walk into a restaurant (restaurants! What an amazing concept) have someone prepare a steak, have someone else bring it to us, all for some pieces of paper with the pictures of long dead leaders on them, or even more amazing, in exchange for the honor of holding on to a rectangle of plastic for a few minutes, and then to return it to us, physically unchanged.

Why this world of music, conditioned air, PEZ dispensers and intercontinental ballistic missiles?

We are primates with the ability to record our thoughts. We can put down our thoughts so that others can later read those thoughts, build on those thoughts, or dismiss thoses thoughts as bullshit.

I know that there is no intrinsic meaning to any of this, yet my life is meaningful (at least it seems meaningful). Life is rich and full of wonder. The man-made world is full of amazing ideas. Amazing concepts and things. Art and sports and literature and video games. That along with the NATURAL world makes eighty or a hundred years on this planet as a human pretty sweet.

I write this in a Panera Bread. I know, what am I doing in an outlet of everything corporate? I don't know, I have some time to kill while I wait for my next appointment. When I'm done writing this, I'm gonna read a book that was published in 1874. I'm going to get lost in a story about people who never existed. How glorious that there are books. How thankful I am for the aproned man who just cleared away my bagel tray. What miracle, my cell phone. It is Friday. It is good to be alive!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

a sample from my current draft

"What business," the man said haughtily, "brings you hither?"

Oh gods, thought Sabir.  Flowery speaker.  Oh well, better play along.  "I seek the wisdom of the Library of Sauji," said Sabir said, bowing low.  "I am a humble student; I seek knowledge."

"Knowledge or wisdom?" asked the fat man.  "They are not the same thing."

 Sabir thought for a moment.  Was this a real question, or was the gentleman just joking?  "Knowledge," Sabir said.  "Knowledge."

The fat man closed his eyes, and very deliberately twisted the end of his mustache.  "What knowledge do you seek?"

"My master, who lives in a distant land, suffers from the most hideous headaches," replied Sabir.  "He sleeps not through the night, and is wasting away from the pain."

"You are a physician then?"

"I am a magician," Sabir said.

"A magician that cures the sick," the man laughed.  "What a wonder this is!  Are you a magician, or a physician?" he chuckled and looked at his attendants, who smiled at his jest.  "It is one golden dinar per day to enter the library."

"It will take me several days to find what I seek."

"Then it will take several dinars, unless you can read very quickly!"

"That seems like a lot."

"We can't have the rabble in here reading.  They might give themselves airs.  They might get strange ideas in their heads."

"Such as?"

"The average lout," the fat man explained with some importance, "has no business reading.  He has no business worrying himself with ideas of philosophy or science.  Take the common laborer.  He knows his place.  He knows that The Maker of All Things has put him in his place to carry his load.  He learns that when he learns his prayers as a child.  What will we do if the laborer decides he is too good to carry his load?  Who will wash our robes?  Who will cook our dinners?  Knowledge is dangerous.  We can't have women or laborers knowing the business of the Elect, can we?"

"What will occupy their hours of ease and pleasure?"

It was clear that the fat man enjoyed the sound of his own voice; it was sonorous and smooth.  "For that?  The common rabble?  Let the laborer drink his cheap beer and wine and attend the vulgar plays.  Let him sing songs and listen to the singers of songs.  Let him attend the camel races.  Dancing girls and feats of strength.  Let these things occupy and distract their minds.

"As long as they don't go peering behind the curtains of the temple, or wonder where the dinars go from the treasury.  Let them eat their fatty baked foods so they feel satisfied and happy.  Thus it is one dinar to enter the library.  A poor man is harmless as long as he cannot think.  If he is a thinker or a dreamer, he is harmless so long as he cannot speak well.  If he can speak well, let him be surrounded by others who cannot think, so they will mock him or ignore him, so they will not wonder about their lot in life.  Let the thinking man's words fall on deaf ears.  And let his fellow laborers think him a heretic, so that they will bring him before the priests, so that he can be punished as an example to the rest."

Sabir wondered how the man could speak so freely in front of his servants.  "So the fee is to keep the commoners in their place?"

"The last thing the Sultan needs is an arrogant population.  Let the Elect learn the secrets of science and husbandry.  Let the Elect learn the arts of Divination and the darker Arts.  Let them learn the most powerful knowledge of all: politics.  Why should a common house slave know anything, except to keep her master well fed and satisfied in all things?"

About Me

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I am the author of 5 books: Android Down, Firewood for Cannibals, The Cubicles of Madness, Robot Stories, and most recently, Various Meats and Cheeses. I live and write in Michigan. My website is at

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