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the latest waddle:

good morning, wordpress - 10:36 a.m. , 2009-07-03

elaborate murder attempt - 2:56 p.m. , 2009-07-01

building a tractor in the basement - 10:42 a.m. , 2009-06-19

ask no questions tell just a few lies - 3:17 p.m. , 2009-06-09

my long lasting flavor really lasts long - 1:10 p.m. , 2009-06-04

2003-04-17 ... 4:05 p.m.


Slicked-back hair, mirrored sunglasses, suit and tie, this jag-off in a Jaguar is speeding through a yellow light in River North, and---for real---he is blasting the Phil Collins song "Sussudio" on what is no doubt a very expensive car stereo. I was like: Wait, was that Patrick Bateman? Please tell me that was some sort of prank, like the guy is participating in a rousing game of Rich Person's Truth Or Dare, because why, why, why would you listen to "Sussudio" in the car, where other people can hear you? I mean, maybe you are allowed to keep the Phil Collins CD in a dark closet and throw on "Sussudio" when you are cleaning the house or something, but even that is skating on some very, VERY thin musical-taste ice, mister. The only possible use I can see for that song is maybe using it to clear the last few cokeheads out of your house when dawn is breaking and you need the party to be OVER, NOW. (Somebody call Sartre, quick: I am having a new vision of existentialist hell where it is always five in the morning and everyone is doing coke and there is always Phil Collins on the stereo. Oh my god I have to go lie down.)


1. I was looking something up in one of my favorite books, Infinite Jest, recently (I realize how bizarre it is to speak of "looking something up" in a novel as if it were a reference book, but sometimes I get these meme-fragments floating around in my head and I cannot sleep unless I verify their source), and something that always bothered me started bothering me again: the fact that in the book the character of Orin Incandenza, who is the punter on a pro football team, wears jersey number 71. A punter would not have the number 71. That is like a lineman's number. If this were a perfect world I would be able to call up David Foster Wallace in the middle of the night and bug him about it.

2. Because I wish to indulge my guilty pleasures of (a) reading bad reviews and (b) seeing overhyped "literary sensations" fall on their faces, particularly ones who write memoirs, particularly ones who write addiction memoirs, particularly ones who write addiction memoirs as their very first books, I give you a link to an Amazon reader review about A Million Little Pieces. Amusing side note: Tough-guy ex-addict so-called literary sensation James Frey was also the screenwriter responsible for the David Schwimmer vehicle "Kissing A Fool." Hopefully he was high at the time and that is his excuse. (Disclaimer: Haven't seen the movie [nor do I intend to: come on, David Schwimmer?] or read the book. However, I am plenty cranky today, and during these days of highly opinionated weblogs it's not like you have to be a credentialed cultural critic in order to piss all over something.)


Everyone likes bus conversations, right? Right! Especially when you are trying to read French philosophy! Nothing better than working hard all day, trying to read French philosophy on the bus, and then having a junior Geraldo Rivera ask you a bunch of questions on the bus! Actually I should be thankful for small favors, as my inquisitor could have been a smelly insane person or a saccharine woman in a cat sweatshirt, but instead it was just a small boy. He was about fourth or fifth grade, and after sitting next to me and fidgeting for a while, he started up. My somewhat terse answers are in parentheses.

Q: You in high school? (No.)
Q: College? (No.)
Q: [as he peers over to look at my hand] You married? (Yes.)
Q: That your married finger right there? (Yes.)
Q: If you married, how come you so skinny? (I'm not skinny.)
Q: You way skinnier than my mom. My mom is fat. (...)
Q: You work? (Yes.)
Q: You a teacher? (No.)
Q: I thought maybe you were a teacher because of the book. (...)
Q: You got a dog? (No.)

Kids are great and all, but incessantly-questioning kids with no relationship to you are not quite as great. Finally I asked, "Why are you interviewing me?" He replied, earnestly, "Questions are how you learn."

Well. Shut me up.

Speaking of transit, soon (first weekend in May) I fly to Pittsburgh. It is a desperately short flight, one of those where they run down the aisle and throw some pretzels at you, and it feels like you spend more time in line on the runway waiting to take off than you actually do in the air. The longer you spend on an airplane, the more that whole public- vs private-space distinction gets blurred. (Please forgive me: everything I have read recently [Bachelard, Yi-Fu Tuan, David Harvey] has been cross-listed under both "geography" and "philosophy." Consequently I am in kind of a weird space right now. Ha! Get it? Weird SPACE. Yeah.) The thing about airplanes is that yes, they are group transportation, but you are not free to leave it at any time the way you are on a bus or a train, and also they are vastly more expensive, so people have these notions of customer service and personal rights and fair play. It goes without saying that customer service, personal rights, and fair play are NOT the values of public transit. So air travel is kind of a special case, and that special-caseness is why I think some people get so emotional about it.

Ways in which we treat an airplane as public space:

1. You are expected to behave. There are consequences if you do not.

2. You sit next to strangers. There is no requirement to introduce yourself.

3. You do not have a whole lot of choice about certain things. The guy next to you chews his gum in an irritating fashion? Oh well. Too hot or too cold? Deal.

Ways in which we treat an airplane as private space:

1. You eat, sleep, poop, brush your teeth, etc, on an airplane, particularly on long flights. You are surrounded by total strangers who are also doing these things. (Hopefully in, uh, the proper receptacles. So to speak.)

2. You can complain about certain things with an expectation that reasonable requests will be accommodated.

3. People only allow other people to talk to them within reason. Sometimes people hit it off and chat the entire flight, although I wouldn't think there is a whole lot of keeping in touch when the flight is over. However, it is also perfectly within your rights to ask someone not to talk to you anymore.

My point, originally, was Pittsburgh. If you are a native Pittsburghian, feel free to give me suggestions of wonderful things to do in your city. Museums and such I can find on my own: I am looking for odd restaurants, coffee shops, thrift stores, bars. Those of you who have been following my exploits may recall that on this particular business trip I have to make "remarks." Normally public speaking does not freak me out, but I am stressing about this a little bit. I am thinking about either hiring a bunch of In Living Color-style fly girls to dance around and distract the audience from the lameness of my remarks, or else just starting off normal and having the talk morph into a story of The Legend Of The Pittsburgh Yeti, complete with "artist's rendering" Powerpoint slides of what the creature might look like and a background recording of its guttural yeti noises. They would never ask me to make remarks again, and oh what a blessing that would be.

(PS: I really was not expecting much from a Google search of "Pittsburgh" and "yeti," but here is just about the sketchiest Bigfoot sighting ever from Mercer County, Pennsylvania.)

---mimi smartypants likes an aisle seat.


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