Showing posts from 2011

Westell F90

There you are:   waiting:   patiently waiting.   You are, in a sense, a drooling puppy awaiting a biscuit.   Then again, puppies are not generally known for their patience, are they?   No.   They aren’t.   Thus:   You are not patiently waiting.   You are impatiently waiting.   All the same, you are waiting.   No.   That is a lie.   You are not waiting, not in the least.   You are plunging ahead.   Why?   Because you do not want to waste time.   You’ve wasted so much time. The storm came and knocked out your connection (which, let us be honest, you did not require in order to be productive); you nevertheless proceeded to spend the next two hours on the phone with a representative of customer service.  With her assistance, the device in question was “reset” and your connection was restored.  Your neighbor, who, you later learned, had also lost his connection, was not as fortunate.  His connection will not be restored until Tuesday.  His provider, it should be noted, is not your prov


[NAME REDACTED A] : …you must know when to make that choice.  When to consider it.  In this line of work, one is easily led astray.  One is easily overcome.  Sucked in.  Pissed out.  What I am trying to make clear, [NAME REDACTED B] , is that you do not want to be pissed out of somebody else’s dick. [NAME REDACTED B] :  …No, sir.      [NAME REDACTED A] :  Do not be your country’s kidney stone.  Do not be mine.  [NAME REDACTED B] :  God as my witness, sir-- [NAME REDACTED A] :  You love your country very much. [NAME REDACTED B] :  I-- [NAME REDACTED A] :  Shh-Shh.  You would not be here otherwise.  And you will be doing your country, and me, a great service by pissing…  on your own terms.  Understand:  by that:  I do not propose that you ever piss on your country, or on me, or even on yourself--particularly on yourself.  Understand that if you piss on yourself, you are, in fact, pissing on the country and on me.  And, of course, I do not mean literally, that is, in the sense of wa


How can I give you "advanced notice" if, for example, the efforts of a physical therapist weaken your sister to the point where I do not feel comfortable leaving her alone to, for example, shop for groceries?   Things, if you haven’t noticed, change rapidly.   One minute, all of her vitals (blood pressure, oxygen saturation, etc.) will be normal; sixty minutes later, she'll vomit and demand last rites, but thirty minutes after that, she'll be all set to climb Mount Everest.  This doesn't happen every day, no, but it happens.  If there is an emergency, believe me, I will inform you--that is, when I call from an Emergency Room.  Remember, your sister is a fragile woman, and I count on YOU when our neighbor is unavailable, because your older brother, who typically visits only once a year, is INSANE, and your niece, as a rule, is MIA.  But more importantly, does it not trouble you in the least that I rely on a neighbor MORE than I do a blood relative?  Yes, I unders

Kissing Manila

Much to your chagrin, the weekly planner fails to grant sufficient space to Saturday and Sunday.   You’ve thus resorted to severe abbreviations.   Three examples follow… “AL” reminds you to set the radio to wake you at six thirty tomorrow morning to beat the trash collector to the curb (with the trash) before seven.  Like most of your neighbors, yes, you could leave it out there overnight, but there’s always the risk of raccoons.  If only raccoons were tidier scavengers, why, then you’d be happy to lend them free access to your rubbish.  Alas, raccoons have no appreciation for Humanity’s efforts (however futile) at waste management.      “R” reminds you to staple together the week’s receipts and file all the statements received in their designated manila folders.  “The manila component of the name comes from manila hemp or abacá, from which manila folders were originally made.  ‘Manila’ refers to the capital of the Philippines, one of the main producers of abacá, which is itself na

Modern, Portable, Self-Contained

Bet lives contently in an empty single serving carton of milk the size of six “modern, portable, self-contained outhouses manufactured of molded plastic” * arranged as one would find a half dozen eggs at the local grocer.  And she believes every single lie she tells you.  When Bet is not looking out the window, waving at the passersby, she’s watching CNN; but she tells you that her schnozzola is forever stuck in some Victorian novel, some Neolithic autobiography that she doesn’t, in fact, own, or hasn’t, in fact, borrowed--if, in fact, it at all exists.  Regardless, whatever she claims to be reading, she couldn’t tell you its title or its author.  “There are so many,” she’ll say.  True enough, true enough.    You wheel her out of her milk carton--beyond which lies a homey nursing home corridor--over to the elevator, into the elevator, and up to the third floor, out into another homey nursing home corridor of a different color scheme, for a visit with her beau--your grandfather.  They

The Squeakless Whatnot

This thing won’t stop beep-beep beeping.   The “attendants” are apparently unconcerned.   They can hear it.   The door is open.   Their desk--I can see it--is feet from this room.   But, as I am not the only one here, these “attendants” may have more “important” things to do.   After all, there are many other invalids up and down the corridor; many who behave as if theirs is the only room in the joint.   I am not such an individual.   I am not The World, I am of the world; and I am proud to say so.   True, I could , once again, press the button to summon an attendant.  When I summoned one before, with the appropriate button, they were, it must be said, admirably prompt in responding, and in their promptness, admirable in silencing the beep-beep beeping.  However, they left only minutes ago--two minutes, forty-three seconds ago, to be precise (I’ve kept count; I’ve little else to do; the view offers nothing but a dirty brick wall--although perhaps it is the pane that is dirty, t

Skid Mark Across The Sky

A young woman sits cross-legged in a grassy field.   She is set--aside from a single, dispersed contrail--against a pale blue sky.   A notebook computer is flipped open in her lap; its make is unknown.   She is wearing a white and blue cami with spaghetti straps, a scoop neckline, and a hieroglyphic pattern; her blue jeans appear to be cut out of van Gogh’s The Starry Night ; her flip-flops are aqua-blue.   Black hair curls down to her bronze shoulders.   She sits frozen, her arms and fingers stretched all the way out, palms up.   Her face is tilted skyward.   It is, however, difficult to conclude whether she is thankful, or incensed; whether she is worshipping the sun, or cursing it to Hell.   Below this photo, the card Veolia Environmental Services sent reads:   “Help us help you.   Enroll now!”

Wild & Wet Wex

* No matter how hot it gets, never buy a Wexford Portable 2-Speed, 6-inch Table/Desk Fan. Without warning, and for no reason at all, it will start screaming at you --much like a caged feral cat in heat-- in the middle of the night; and it will continue to do so no matter how much WD-40 you squirt at it. (At approximately 2:30 a.m. last night, this was the situation at the FireVaney residence.) *


The man tried to express himself.  He failed.  “Bloated,” he wrote. “Vegetables,” he wrote.  “Bloated with vegetables,” he revised. He then continued with: “Trouble spelling ‘vegetables.’”  He misspelled “vegetables” at every attempt to write it.  Then autocorrected every instance.  Why?  Because “vegetables,” he rationalized, must not be misspelled.  “No,” he told himself.  “Not true.  A lie.”   But who posited it?  A liar did.   He did.  The truth:  He autocorrected out of fear.  “Autocorrected, fearing scorn.  Unarticulated scorn.  Your scorn,” he concluded.  “ Your scorn is sensed.”  He wrote it down, too.  “Before you’ve read this, your scorn is sensed.”  He refuses to take responsibility.   “Blame vegetables,” he wrote.  “Go ahead.  Blame ‘em.”  And then this dawned on him: “Vegetables provide no salvation.”  He proceeded to cling to this notion.  “ Who said they did?  Somebody did.  Somebody said.”  But he could not think up who.  Who might’ve said.  “Give me

The Sunroom

Willard grabbed the tennis ball and lobbed it at the window.  When the ball struck, the windowpane cracked.  Willard picked the ball up and lobbed it again.  This time, the windowpane shattered.  One down, twenty-six to go.  Willard grabbed another tennis ball. Hanna was upstairs in her room, reading Tartuffe by Molière, when she heard the first crash of glass, and then the second.  She grrr-ed, scraped her chair back, grrr-ed at the tear the chair’s legs had made in the carpet, stood, grrr-ed at the crick in her back, limped out to the staircase, grrr-ed at the limp, and leaned over the rail.  She shouted, “Everything alright?” After lobbing yet another ball to smash a third windowpane, Willard replied, “Yup!”  Twenty-four to go. By the time Hanna managed to limp all the way down the stairs, and then hobble all the way back to the sunroom, grrr-ing every step of the way, Willard had smashed all the windowpanes in the northernmost wall.  “Ah,” said Hanna, after a deep breath, “fres

Kennel: Circa 1987

You imagined it clean, orderly, brightly lit; rooms full of yelping puppies, purring kittens and even, perhaps, chirping birds.  They all plead for your attention.  You hold the keys to their sustenance and to their freedom.  At home, no one needs you; for practically all intents and purposes, you are invisible; your mother, your father, your sister, your brother, the goldfish, they pass right through you--unless you fail to take out the garbage or forget to wash the dishes or inadvertently leave the toilet seat up.   But, here , amongst all the furry quadrupeds, you are in the spotlight, you are the star of the show.  Some of them would like nothing more than to curl up in your lap for a nap.  They even want to lick your face!  Here, the spotless linoleum aisle that cuts through the stretch of stacked cages is your Red Carpet; every woof, every meow, every tweet is, essentially, an audible camera flashing in your direction; every growl, every whine, every squawk is but a pesky

Morning Rituals (Of Late)

SETTING POP'S bedroom. AT RISE It’s 9:30 a.m. on every morning since the Earth shook Japan to pieces.  POP is lying on his bed, hissing out of sheer boredom.  FIREVANEY enters with a glass of water and a dish of pills. POP Good morning. FIREVANEY Good morning! POP So.  The world’s still here? FIREVANEY Last I checked. POP Last you checked.

Door to Door

She knocked on my door.   Just now.   Her door faces my door.   It’s three, maybe four footsteps away.   Maybe four and a half.   Spitting distance.   That’s it, her door is within spitting distance of my door.   When I heard her knock, I got up, took a step, maybe two, I don’t remember, and I peeped through my peephole.   I wasn’t expecting a knock.   I’m never expecting a knock.   But this lovely young woman had knocked on my door.   What luck!   I’m sure I never would’ve knocked on her door.   If a fire broke out, maybe then, I would, but otherwise, I’d feel too creepy about it.   So she knocked, and I peeped, and in clumsy haste I unlocked and pulled open my door and I say “in clumsy haste” because perhaps I was about to discover that there is a God after all--or, as the case may be, for me, a Goddess, after all.  That’s right, I wouldn’t open the door for just any old deity, certainly not for Jesus or Muhammad (deadbeat deities, if you ask me), but if either had a pretty, young

Chapter 37

Charney found himself lying on his back in the middle of the street.  He was pretty sure he hadn’t been shot, but his ribs didn’t feel right, and the back of his head throbbed from having thumped it so hard against the blacktop.  At least the drizzle felt good on his face.  He thought he could see the moonlight breaking through the clouds.  Moonlight, or a jetliner’s landing lights, or maybe, hopefully, angels were descending to collect him…  Whatever it was, Killdare’s blur blot it out when he stepped into view.  He chomped on his Hubba Bubba and grinned down at Charney.  “Hey, Char,” he said, stooping into a linebacker’s two-point stance, “how many fingers ‘m I holdin’ up?”  His hands were on his knees.  Charney tried to speak but the best he could do was puff out a groan.  Breathing was hard; thinking was harder.  All he could really feel was the patter of drizzle dampening his skin, his hair and his clothes.  Because it was soft, he didn’t mind that it was cold.  Killdare chuckl

Greekish, With A Nice Tongue

Eight years ago I found myself growing weary of City Life.   The congestion of all that humanity, packed-in like sardines, left me gasping for space.   Many people are invigorated by all of that condensed kinetic energy.   Those are the lucky ones, I suppose.   And I envy them.   But I could not emulate them.   I was already too old.   Everything raced faster than my own untreated hypertension.   So I slunk back to suburbia, where the only recurrent annoyances came from lawnmowers, leaf-blowers and bird droppings. And then, like the irrepressible progeny of every cockroach I’ve ever crushed or poisoned, bits of my past crept back into view… We worked out at the same gym.  I don’t remember her name.  I probably never knew it in high school.  We never spoke.  She wasn’t unattractive, but she wasn’t exactly my type.  Back then, I was chubby and zity and exactly nobody’s type.  I nevertheless had standards.  My standards were unrealistically high.  And they remain so to this day…    Sh

The Muted Philippic: Rehearsed, But Unvoiced

He was peddling books.  No, he did not carry the books with him.  You picked the books you wanted to buy from his fancy little pamphlet.  These books would then be “donated” to an elementary school.  The cheapest book was fifty bucks.  “I accept cash or check,” he said, “and I have to give you a receipt.”  He showed me a booklet of rectangular chits that looked receipt-ish.  He seemed eager to write up a receipt for me.  What kind of person is eager to write up a receipt?  One who is desperate to make a sale, I suppose.  Or, one who is eager to steal another's identity.  Religious books were listed in his fancy little pamphlet, but, he said, he was not allowed to sell them.  I did not notice these religious books-- he pointed them out.  Perhaps he meant to elicit an emotional response the likes of:  “That’s really too bad,” or “Stupid public socialist school system,” or “Why not?”  And then perhaps he would launch into a muted philippic against The Government--something or other

Punk-Kid, English-Speaker Seeker & Broker-Boy

The following incident occurred on Friday, October 8, 2010 at approximately 11:50 ante meridiem: He said he lived around the corner and down the block.  He said he took care of his grandparents.  As fate would have it, I take care of my grandfather.  He said he was raising money to arrange a trip to London.  There, he would intern for the BBC .  No, not as a presenter, or a reporter, or as a newsreader; no, this Punk-Kid standing on my stoop would be learning behind-the-camera, technical stuff.  “Oh, the BBC,” I said.  I was impressed, I was envious, and it showed.  I rather enjoy that Mike Embley chap on the BBC World News.  True, this Punk-Kid looked more like a run-of-the-mill junkie than a news junkie, but I am often too quick to judge.  ON-THE-SPOT HYPOTHESIS:  Perhaps this Punk-Kid was endeavoring to turn his life around--somehow, he caught a break--and if only he could raise enough money for the trip, he would see his dream through.  END ON-THE-SPOT HYPOTHESIS.  This Punk-Kid o

The Peeled Kvetch

Rilke was right.  (Or:  Rilke was correct.)  (Or:  Rilke was a banana.)  (No, he wasn’t a banana, he was a poet.)  (Okay, maybe he was a banana and a poet, but I’ve never heard of a banana named Rilke.)  (Perhaps, I will name the banana I peel tomorrow morning, “Rilke.”)  (And, perhaps, the following day, I will name the banana I peel then, “Rilke, Jr.”)  (Or:  perhaps not.)  (Initially, I addressed this post to Rilke himself--as a dead poet, not as a peeled banana--but as the tone of the post grew more hostile, I shelved that idea.)  My “daily life seems poor” and I am “not poet enough to call forth its riches.”  But I do not blame it, I blame myself.  And so, as I have always done, I exaggerate my poor (or seemingly poor) daily life.  I make a mockery of it.  Nobody would find amusement in reading an unadulterated record of all the mundane rituals I partake in day in and day out.  (Perhaps I should have edited out “day in and day out,” but, as you can see, I lacked the initiative t

Pious Lepisma Saccharina

When I opened the so-called “storm” door, this punk-kid stepped up onto the front stoop and reached out to shake my hand.  I shook it.  Yes, my hand was sanitized; his was likely not.  Recapitulating:  I was sleepy.  I was caught unawares.  I was eager to get rid of him.  So I shook his hand.  Germs and all.  Initial observation:  Weak grip.  His, not mine.  (Wasn’t clammy, though.  As a lad, I suffered greatly from chronic clammy palms.  Now, middle-aged, or thereabouts, I am clammy no more.)  Should you ever shake my hand, I will take great pains to match the firmness or intensity of your grip.  Some people will take great pains to exceed the amount of pressure you apply during a handshake.  I am more considerate.  That makes me a better man.  Back to the punk.  I cannot recall if he spoke before offering his hand, or while we engaged in the handshake, or after the shaking ritual had run its course.  I very much doubt we stood there and shook (hands) in silence.  One moment, plea


After I opened the front door, I opened the screen door--which, I suppose, is really a “storm” door because it does not have a screen.  The screen is somewhere in the basement and I am too lazy to dust it off and return it to service.  Instead of a screen, this door that exists a step, or less, beyond the front door’s exterior has a clear plastic panel, which, as mentioned above, qualifies it as a “storm” door.  I do not, however, feel comfortable calling it a “storm” door.  So, I have conducted some research.  I consulted Home Depot’s website, Lowe’s website, and Wikipedia’s entries on screen and storm doors.  These sites did not provide me with the comfort I sought.  (And what, exactly, do I seek?  I seek, as do most in these parts, a convincing echo chamber.  Alas!  All of the echoes returned to me are incongruous distortions!)  True:  This door-before-my-front-door has survived the four seasons for decades, but I still feel that it is too flimsy to be regarded as something meant t

FireVaney/PlagueRider: Violent Gardens

FIREVANEY Do you maintain a garden?  It seems to be the thing to do in England. PLAGUERIDER [My wife] maintains a bit of a garden.  Mainly some flowers and plants surrounding a bit of concrete where [my child] can ride in her little vehicles in clement weather. FIREVANEY Would you agree that gardens are to the British what guns are to the Americans? PLAGUERIDER Gardens don't kill people; Americans do.  Although the toxic level of political discourse in Britain at the moment could very well end up with a garden assassinating someone.

The Zit Peppered Side

I looked through the peephole and it wasn’t Lou.  It was some kid--an older kid, if he qualified as a kid, and if he didn’t, then he qualified as a young man.  You might say that’s a given, but when I think “young man” I think of some Harvard freshmen from the 1940s.  Some preppy type.  Pressed suit, polished shoes.  But this “kid” on the other side of my peephole looked more like a hell-raiser, a tobacco abuser, an underage drinker.  He looked like a high school dropout.  Possibly illiterate.  (There is a sign on my door.  It reads:  NO SOLICITORS).  And he had rung my doorbell.  This punk did.  Twice.   I opened my eyes anyway.  I mean, I opened the door anyway.  And, yes, when I opened the door, my eyes were open--not that having them open helped the least bit.  Had I kept them closed I would’ve likely stumbled down the stairs and snapped my neck.  It would’ve ended my life, or left me a quadriplegic, but it would’ve saved me twenty bucks.  This is what you do when you don’t get en