Do You Realize?

New rule: Whenever I hear The Flaming Lips’ song, Do You Realize?, I’ll stop and make a note of what’s happening.

I’m at Bauhaus avoiding working on the NaNoWriMo novel. All but two people in the upstairs area are working on laptops. Both are women in their early twenties. One is wearing plastic barrettes in her hair. She’s positioned with her back to the windows. The other has short blonde hair and cat eye glasses, she’s cradling a cup of coffee in her hands and staring blankly ahead of her. There’s one table between them and they’re facing each other. The first girl is drawing in a little black notebook. The second girl just put down her coffee and began reading a small red book with gilt page edges.

While I was rearranging sentences in the last paragraph, a broad-shouldered guy with tattooed arms sat in the table between them and cracked open a textbook, and the first girl left.

Hopkin: Still Lost

["Lost Frog" poster]

These photocopied “Lost Frog” fliers turn up infrequently in different neighborhoods around Seattle. The two or three times that I’ve seen them, they’ve left me confused. These posters are more disorienting than an impossibly positioned Cold K tag.

The web got ahold of the flier two weeks ago, and it’s been circulating among different message boards. Some of them linked to this old Beans for Breakfast entry. Photoshop skills were flexed, and finally someone on Metafilter (and apparently someone posting on this gated Filepile thread) did some research. The startling truth of the flier — the convoluted back story — is that Terry lost his toy frog, Hopkin. (It’s probably not a coincidence that the flier in the picture posted here was outside a closed-down toy store.)

The final straight forward explanation leaves me just as puzzled as when I was trying to find some hidden motive behind the posters.

(Thanks to Kat for pointing me to the second Metafilter thread.)

Why

There’s a guy sitting at the window-facing counter at Top Pot. He keeps swearing and stumbling around, shuffling papers and spilling coffee. He only calls attention to himself occasionally, so he hasn’t been a nuisance. He’s talking to someone on his cell phone now. He just said, in a sort of whiney out-of-it voice, “Why? I don’t remember why I called you.” There’s a four inch thick textbook sitting at his side. It’s title is, “Gravity.”

It’s okay to write “textbook” as one word. This doesn’t go toward any sort of wordcount.

Giveaway and Takeaway

[flowers]

John offered to give a free print of one of his photos to the first five people to ask for one. I claimed one, and now I think I’ll steal his thunder pass the deal on. I’ll send out five 8″x10″ prints — one each to the first five people who ask for them.

Dewey Defeats Kerry

["Fresh Choices" sign in abandoned Safeway.]

Some of the pre-written newspaper coverage of the election reads like a Mad Lib.


<?php
print (
  "<h1>$Winner Defeats $Loser</h1>
  <p>A victory for $Winner was all but certain, even as some polls on the west coast remained open to accomodate higher than expected voter turnout. The networks' news divisions, still reeling from their repeated mis-calls on the night of the contested 2000 election, were careful to wait until the last possible moment to project a winner for any of several swing states.</p>");
  if $Concession = 0 (
    print (
      "<p>$LoserAdvisor insisted that "$LoserAdvisorQuote" $Winner consulted with attorneys in preparation for possible $NatureOfLegalAction, a possibility that became $LegalActionLikelihood likely as the results continued to come in. According to $WinnerAdvisor, "$WinnerAdvisorQuote"</p>"
      );
    );
  elseif $Concession = 1 (
    print (
      "<p>In an early morning address, a weary $Loser told a somber crowd of supporters, "$LoserConcessionQuote"</p>
      <p>$Winner followed $Loser's concession with an acceptance speech an hour later. "$WinnerAcceptance" he told a packed $WinnerLocation.</p>"
      );
    );
?>

I’d like to see a collection of news stories that were written and then withheld from publication because they failed to happen.

Election

There was no line when I went to vote today. In fact the poll worker for my precinct was dozing off. (He must have been there when the polls opened at 6:30.) I looked to the poll worker in the seat beside him for help, but he didn’t seem concerned. So I cleared my throat and said, “Excuse me,” quietly. The poll worker jumped awake. Then he laughed and called me “sir”. A volunteer observer looked over my shoulder when I signed in and thumbed through her own printout of registered voters to make a mark beside my name — almost like she was voting for me!

A line of voters did form while I was filling in the bubbles for the two dozen races, referendums, and initiatives on the ballot. I chose one Republican and one Green, several Democrats, four non-partisan judges, and one monorail.

I have to admit that while I care about which party will control the Senate and which initiative was filed by short-sighted land owners to sabotage public transit, those aren’t the votes that have me holding my breath.

Here, Now

NaNoWriMo 2004 Participant

I’m going to give NaNoWriMo a go this year — National Novel Writing Month or 50,000 words in thirty days. I tried once before, in 2001, ended up with a tangle of 30,000 uneditable words and the title Beans for Breakfast. (I apparently wasn’t honest enough to admit the failure on the weblog. There’s no post mortem entry.) I also came up with the title for another NaNoWriter’s finished novel, Like, Moses or Something. If nothing else, 2001 was a good year for bad titles.

This time I’m organizing everything on a public wiki. There are pages (for people who can figure out how to navigate a wiki) to comment on the “story” as it progresses, point out errors, and loan me ideas. It ain’t Shakespeare, but at least it’s short.

I have a lot of other things to do this month, so I ought to get busy.

Just a Bunch of Guys

The drunk with the car antenna hanging out of his pocket had lost his audience in the parking lot. He looked at everyone around him, saw me and started walking in my direction. He found a new target at the last moment, and veered toward the guy standing behind me.

He introduced himself. “I’m Erik Estrada with the California Highway Patrol. Do you have any warrants?”

The guy behind me wasn’t interested in this game. He darted his eyes away, and let out an irritated laugh. “No. No warrants,” he told him. But he turned away, toward another group of guys to discourage any further interrogation.

“I don’t like the way you look. I’m going to have to haul you away to San Francisco.” He took a step closer and talked into his collar, “Estrada, here. TCP/IP, over. Ten-Four.”

The guy behind him, decided he’d humor him a little bit longer, “Okay. You’ve got me. I have a warrant.”

“Alright then. Hey, I’ll let you off easy if you give me a drag of your cigarette.”

“No, man.” He still wouldn’t look at him.

“Come on?” Estrada moved a step back, shifting himself into a friendlier position. He broke character — pulled the car antenna out of his pocket.

“No!”

Estrada turned back toward the parking lot and walked away.

“Fuck off, asshole,” The guy behind me grumbled loudly enough for the other guy to hear.

The antenna guy turned around and walked back over to him. “Hey. Don’t say that. I’m a nice guy. I want to be your friend.”

“Get lost.”

“Come on, man. Give me a cigarette. I’m not doing anything wrong.”

“Fuck. I’m sick of fucks like you.” He whipped off his belt and swung it around over his head. Then he backed up, leaving a belts length between him and the antenna guy, and snapped the belt at the antenna guy, looking him in the eye for the first time.

I moved to another line.

The two of them made a few more verbal rounds, before both had decided that he’d made his point. Erik Estrada left. Now first in line, I stepped back up to the window and ordered. Before taking my money, the guy who took my order rolled his eyes at the combatants and yelled a few insults in their direction.

A few guys had wandered over to talk to the guy with the belt. He was still giving it a few experimental snaps.

One of the new guys asked him, “What’s wrong with you? What do you think you’re going to do with that?”

“I know how to handle myself. I’ve used this before.” He made a few more experimental snaps.

A trio of guys in mullet wigs who I’d run seen earlier nodded hello to me and got into line behind the guy with the belt.

I walked away carrying my grease burger and chocolate grease-shake.

November 2004 Print Calendar

The November Print Calendar is ready. Download it, print it, and hang it in your cubicle at work. It’s guaranteed to impress and confuse your coworkers. The calendar is available in the usual formats: Letter size for North America, A4 format for the rest of the world.

Craft idea for the month of November:
Make your own A4 paper by trimming sheets of legal paper down to 210×297 milimeters. Don’t worry if you’re slightly off. The ISO specs allow for a variance of ±2mm for both the length and width.

Alternately, make your own letter size paper by trimming A3 format pages down to 8 1/2 x 11 inches. There is no room for error. If the page isn’t precisely 8 1/2 x 11 inches, it’s not letter size paper.

Now reconfigure your printer to recognize the new page size and load it with your new paper.

[Note to self: None of that was funny.]

Welcome to your calendar — featuring the return of the pre-printed pinhole. Both files are 135 kb PDFs:
Letter Size
A4 Format