Wednesday, November 30, 2005


I've grown to hate the pretentious words; I cut out all instances of "therefore" from my essays because it was a needless waste of syllables and digital symbols. And yet I realize my dependence on it; like when I microwave a freeze-dried dinner; like when I opt for the bus ride instead of the three-hour journey (which I really need to take: brick walls are sponges for condensation clouds of my sighing; smokestacks bear up my mad rambling coattails). Ah, to look in the genetic (or epigenetic) mirror and see my ancestors with thie sadly potent selection pressures. Ah, to find someone I had not found before and be surprised! To inspire as I once inspured: for I was a guru too, once; I was a yogi and a teacher; I tutored several things to several people; the university atmosphere is putting me in the great rostrum somewhere in the third row: not enough to fall off but just outclassed enough to release too much fucking cortisol. Down with mysterious epigrams that sound like they were written to me but could not have been: her head was in the oven long before I was born. And we lie; and we lie well. We know just how to be tendentious enough to stimulate debate, but I'm too concened with impresing with aloofness and--you get the idea. Her hair is still there: locks untamable in some French graveyard. It would have been better were she at the bottom of a pond, or in a mineshaft, but this is just as good. I don't want the scent of magnolias: I want decent MHC-incompatibility. I steal well; I steal ideas and I respray them and sell them to the pawn shops. And I exaggerate. I have to tie up the loose ends. My manuscript is nearing completion just as my essays near completion. This is just thinking out loud; it is not an ahead-of-time conceptualized post like some (rare ones). I also don't like "thus" anymore: it reeks of slick-laywer desperation and Old England. "Ergo" is thankfully a mercifully dead word. It is filled with darkness and mustiness, like the burnt-out block on Robert Street. i'm sorry: I'm on my downswing: too much long-term low-persistence stress.

Consider: "All you need for a movie is a gun and a girl."

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Wine (Part VI)

I'm amazed by how long it's been and how quickly we just picked up and I had you pegged. I had you pegged on about the second pitcher just as the jukebox was coming to a chorus, having just ended a rather uncreative crescendoing bridge. And then I realized we'd spend the rest of the evening in a mildly fictional haze, getting stopped in Chinatown for being white and starving and begging for soup and karaoke, playing trivia computers and wondering whether we'd get static shocked, walking the empty streets with bladders full and contrasting the tranquil but sad bus station with the exuberant but boring outside. I saw you inhale those gallons and heard your tales of the exploits and loveless sexual webs you had woven over south-eastern Ontario. Perhaps they were fetid sexual webs; perhaps you threw up secretly in an old lady's bonnet; maybe I could have encapsulated all this in a quote, but it escaped me as the wind blew down the front of my jacket and polaris blinked out threough the overcast for just an instant and I dreamt of Ursa Minor and hoped I'd get to see the big trackless north before the boreal forests get gutted by loggers and global warming. Had I met the love of my life last noght I would have to spent the next forty years crying. How's that for hyperbole? And then I got sad and paranoid when I saw some people re-enact the Sino-Soviet rift in their microcosmic little way and I thought: "there go two magnificent but unintelligible cultures going at it: drink up!". And I might have drunk up or I might have waffled; I've really needed the drink and hear this: nobody is immune: cultured or hard-working or brilliant or lucky or attractive--nobody is immune from something that eats away at self-esteem. D.T. said that if he ever got a tattoo and it was the slightest bit asymmetrical he would pick at it until he got it infected and died. Every day there is something new from this fellow; I acted as his guru for a little while but now he can be the Bodhisattva phrasebook. ("Bodhisattva" is a beautiful, if somewhat meaningless, plaudits-giving adjective that I've overused, I realize.)

Consider: "Alcohol is involved in 70% of snowmobile deaths."

Friday, November 25, 2005


I've been a mad dog working and barking for weeks now. And it doesn't stop. It takes a whole week of concerted effort to ingratiate oneself with a sub-sub-field's specialized discourse, but it has its own rewards. I now picture the heads of these various cognition labs scattered around the Western world, sitting in stuffy little rooms with shelves crammed with useful books, required books, stacks of papers to referee, drafts of to-be-published materials.

It has not been a month of change or creativity. The Leonard Cohen tribute nights courtesy of our sexy friend have not kept up with demand. I would have gone to poetry readings, but they always make you participate, and if I see my writings as contrived, think of how contrived English majors will think them. I missed a soup party right in front of my window. Our upstairs people made huge pots and gave it out to whoever wished to partake. Jack Layton and Olivia Chow stopped by and donated a bottle of wine (they live like 4 houses away). I wish I were making it up. All the days seem the same, the only respite being a brief snowstorm yesterday. I stood there in that mad swirlage and just focused on an exercise I had read in Buddhism Without Beliefs that stressed minfulness. I don't know if I reached any kind of plateau, but I got a little closer: the pain in my cheeks and my body's desire to get out of the cold were just things to be experienced in and of themselves, not drives, not impetuses (impetii?), not motivational or affective states.

I have written way too many sentences that have not been horribly awkward phrase-string monsters. Perhaps I should expunge my instincts to be purposely dense. I wrote an essay defending scientific realism so we can go ahead and start using science to shape our lives so we can get rid of silly old God and gods and my TA for cog. sci. went on the offensive against Dawkis and Dennett and I thought it was overblown but he is an eminetly reasonable individual and the minority is entitled to spew hate speech it's just the majority which is thus restricted in civilized disourse and then I started drawing analogies and thinking of nothing but essay and dreaming essay (reading a little Vonnegut as a change-up every once in a while) and I had myself a moment of insigth this morning and the first thing I did was get dressed because I really need a space heater in this room and then I typed up my idea but I've been considering going back to hadwriting for recording ideas: it's more humanistic and written in my own unique pseudo-illegible all-caps hand: ask anyone who's borrowed my notes and besides I can then sit in my coffee shop eating spinach borekas and cream cheese bagels and various fair-trade coffee and huddle and imagine and be just like that one shaven-head artiste whose pictures maybe adorned the walls--I don't know but I know where to ask: you know who you are--and I have two weeks and then the dream is gone but I'll go on to write other essays and I'll push someone's buttons with a "Darwinian hand-wave" but that's because they just want to feel superior, not realizing that they've rigged the superiority game already with their massive inflation of intelligence; I would go so far as to claim that animals are far more rational than us insofar as they're more consistent with their drives but that's just another big Darwinian hand-wave and we found this book in the library which is a poetic exploration of the history of science and we read one and set a mini-play to the reading of the encounter between Huxley and the Bishop Wilberforce (or something like that), where the bishop asked "tell us, sir, are you descended from apes on your mother's or your father's side?" and then Huxley bitchslapped that asshole back to the Olduvai Gorge and fortified thus I started piecing together my draft-dodger zoology prof's life as he talked about grad school and how things are looking pretty grim and I stopped caring and decided I'd definitely take a fifth year; I haven't stopped being shoe-gazer-esque during these long years but I've found non sequitur to be a wonderful literary device for the lazy author who can't maintain a train of thought to save his life but that's quite all rigth because I've had a few ego boosts in my life and I should hang on to those because nature does not care and I was loved once and one can say I still am and for the first time ever I tried to give a thoughtful gift to my mother which was also a reminder to me: that although I'll end up in science just like her, nobody should forget those peripheral passions: drawing in her case and writing in mine; speaking of which, I'm nearing the end of my manuscript and I got Kurt Vonnegut to leave an ambiguous quote on the back cover (not really) and I also exumed James Joyce and asked him what he thought and the bastard was damn near incomprehensible because the wood mites took his tongue (also a lie; Mr. Joyce is a wonderful speaker but his estate won't return my e-mails) also the most lush moment in the world is the morning where I hit snooze on the alarm, where the slightest move will bring me in contact with non-body-warmed blankets and sheets and I will writhe full-body in peristalsis--and did you know that your occipital lobe has more neurons in it than the rest of your brain?--because it's not intelligence we find valuable, it's vision and synaesthesia which is really a very neat concept, enough to impress the prof and warrant a whoe sectin in Sci Am but we're getting ahead of ourselves--what else did I do?--oh, I tangled briefly with a proponent of intelligent design and found I've slot my debater's edge for self-assurance and I was too accommodating but it was all aprt of my stategy to sucker him in but the discussion dealt with other stuff and my scarf fell off and I am deathly afraid that one of my assumptions is subtly flawed and if that's so not even Dennett can save me, not all the militant atheist assholes and I'll have to hedge my bets with the dying breed of liberal Xians and O shit Annual Gift Day is coming and I have to be extra thoughtful and we'll celebrate Julian Calendar Annual Gift Day (Eastern Orthodox "Christ"mas) in Sweden frozen in a log cabin and I'll tell you all (you both?) how that went.

Words of wisdom from D. T.: "Being in a rut is exactly the same as being in a groove."

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


1) A wrap of butcher paper.

2) A bicycle wheel.

3) A daguerrotype.

4) A $100 laptop enabled with Wikipedia access.

5) Seventeen Starburst wrappers in my outer left pocket.

6) An ad on a bus shelter: $100 off divorce.

7) A leg of lamb.

8) The last stanza of the Adonais by P. B. Shelley.

9) A stack of milk crates three deep.

10) A rusty wok clattering in the street.

11) A pile of removed hardwood floor.

12) $100 says the price tag on a new winter coat.

13) The awesome syncretic power of a Wikipedia article on Greco-Buddhism.

14) A bloody lancet on the street.

15) The argumentative themes of Bach's fugues.

16) Digital art.

17) The book of Earth written in the rocks.

18) An eyedropper containing $100 worth of antibodies.

19) Braces welded into a chain-link fence.

Consider: "The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be."

Sunday, November 20, 2005


O such calamity! I miss the exilarated non-sobriety of months past. I miss sitting on a stairwell waiting for my angel muse to waft down from the raftes and slap me around. I miss the rays of mid-afternoon sun burning a hole in the back of my head as the sweet syrupy goo trickles down my neck. I miss rioting and uproariousness despite my criticisms of it. I miss the opportunities not taken anywhere but in my head: I could have travelled to Sudbury; I could have made snowmen with the Natives of the Abyss and talked legends; I could have made my rounds among the Bodhisattva bums of my own neigbourhood but all I did instead was give them some money. I miss relaxing on the wooden booth where skeletons are carved in to remind you of your mortality always. I miss fearing that I had high cholesterol, but it turned out that I had high HDL (in layman's terms: the good cholesterol). I wish elevated levels of DHEA had knocked me from my torpor months ago. I could have rigged Chinese lanterns and carved enough pumpkins to stack up to the second floor; I could have made bicycle roulette wheels to hang from our tree out front; I could have waked these streets when I was free and not swathed in blankets; I could have saved orphanages in Chicago by drinking all their rum so none was left for at least one weekend of sobriety and fear for the future. I still fear for the future, but I'm regaining my Eastern European fatalism. Shit has happened to my particular phylogenetic lineage at a fairly consistent intensity; high seletive pressure molded us well. I don't know if I have any Jew in me, but it would fit. I almost tried the hippie thing, but not even living in this inherently optimistic society can make me that positive in outlook. I guess I've always gravitated to those who managed to strike the right chord of exhaustion. Brilliant, justified exhaustion, but nevertheless a world-view that people have a lot of trouble with. What do you expect? Look at the name of this weblog.

Incidentally, I have retained a good episodic memory trace of how I came by the name. The scene was Burwash dining hall, Victoria College, University of Toronto. November 3, 2004. I was sitting with a friend at the southeast table eating a single green apple and maybe some soup. We were discussing the election in the US the day before. I went on a rant which featured several pessimistic explanations on how things will get worse and people will never learn. Overall, a tightly wound bundle of doom and glom inferences. I suppose everyone with even the slightest bit of liberalism in them felt that way on that day. (The night before I saw an American from Vermont lose control of his emotions. All of them.) My friend said that there was no point being obstructively cynical about what happened. The a few days later, for unrelated reasons, I started this. There is the boring story.

Consider: "Sacrifice."

Monday, November 14, 2005

25 Questions

Why are people always so eager to draw contradistinctions? Why does nobody ever actually appreciate that the world does not break down along our easy conceptual lines? Why does rationality seem to chase human rationality and break its back on every interation? What's up with all the assholes making senseless normative prescriptions? What's up with an overconfident biomedical system that proposes drugs as the answer to everything? Why do people actively ignore the many instances of cognitive dissonance? What is the appeal of getting shit-faced? Why are attitudes so slow to change? Why do we have an iconoclastic machinery steamrolling ancient cultures? Will the iconoclastic machinery last long enough to level the playing field totally? Will artificial intelligence ever have rights? Is it possible for the mind to settle into a metastable arrangement of parallel constraint satisfaction? Why has the history of Western philosophy been one of tendentious debates that could always be reconciled? Why am I always drawn up to conceptual abstractions when it is so much easier to stick to the actual? At what point will death come to take away the workaday grind? At what point will my genetic endowment give up on me as a vehicle for the immortal coils? Should I harness the power of prayer? Should I don the robes of state? Why does the tussling of political leaders seem really, really insignificant? Isn't it the case that they impinge on my life more than the Immortal, Unanswerable questions? Should I hold people to account at all times or should I accept the occasional asseveration? Should I travel? What's the point of strolling in a temple complex when the internet can take me there in my imagination? Why do I even raise the problems? Does a process of random variation and selective retention operate on my own mental constructs?

Consider: "Evolutionists who see no conflict between evolution and their religious beliefs have been careful not to look as closely as we have been looking, or else hold a religious view that gives God what we might call a merely ceremonial role to play."

Saturday, November 12, 2005


I've just gotten an idea. It's probably a fairly widespread idea, but it has just occurred to me so I'm in the throes of excitement. As an exercise in characterization, I will populate the internet with fictional blogs. My brain children will in no way be traceable to me. I guess I'm going to try to make them believable, but different enough from my own experience that I can learn a thing or two about possible worlds, about possible situations.

I did this before. Back in the early days, when ICQ had that random chat feature I'd make up characters and try them out on people. I had one good conversation with (supposedly) a lady from Argentina (or Brazil, I'm not sure). These days I'm not so much into the believable charaters. I've come the conclusion that most fiction is profoundly superficial. So the most honest book you can read is one where the author makes a half-assed attempt to hide the "author" character. Just like every story I've attemepted over the past two years. (Notice I said this kind of writing is "honest", not "good".) Im nea, how many stories can you write about a murder or a bank robbery. What is the reader supposed to get out of it. Is bank robbery a metaphor for the fruitless humanistic struggle of globalized society? No: it's always struck me as a poor substitute for TV. TV, however, does not fill the niche of long fruitless discursive ramblings. (There are exceptions, but they are rare.) But I tire of totally shoe-gazing rambling. The quasi-public nature of the weblog has kept my most self-indulgent ridiculousness in check. Has it made me a better person? Bah! Bollocks to it all.

Consider: "The teachings of the Sri Syadasti School of Spiritual School of Spiritual Wisdom are true in some sense, false in some sense, meaningless in some sense, true and false in some sense, true and meaningless in some sense, false and meaningless in some sense, and true and false and meaningless in some sense. / If you can master nonsense as well as you have already learned to master sense, then each will expose the other for what it is: absurdity. From that moment of illumination, a man begins to be free regardless of his surroundings. He becomes free to play order games and change them at will. He becomes free to play disorder games just for the hell of it. He becomes free to play neither or both. And as the master of his own games, he plays without fear, and therefore without frustration, and therefore with good will in his soul and love in his being."

Friday, November 11, 2005

City Lights

Within the city lights one can find a lot of patterns: the composer might find the structure of the counterpoint they were looking for all month so they can finish their dissertation and get the hell out of university; the suicide child on the Bloor Viaduct sees the river of fire (red) and the river of light (not-red); the puzzle theorist finds the missing link toward forging an ultimate insight solution to the ultimate near-unsolvable problem; the child wandering the streets with weak pathfinding and even weaker vestibular senses finds the lights guideposts; the band of merry men exiting their bars sees the lights in extended exposure; the barista in the coffee shop dances on his counter but his lights are the lights of his own establishment, not the city; the freezing fellow in longshoreman's cap and drops of water on his glasses sees hexagons everywhere; similarly, the myopic writer sees nothing but large circles looking like massive exercise balls flitting into and out of existence; the migratory bird sees half of its world snatched up by the neon claws of some disembodied light-filled monster; engineers see the possibilities for the largest implementation of a game of Tetris or Go by fucking with a building's lighting grid; our drunkards will later see the lights as fireflies, strangely absent after the twelfth pitcher; our musician will whistle to himself on the streetcar; our barista will get the shakes and run to the bathroom where he will see spots in his peripheral vision of such colour as to render him senseless; the merry men left over from the last bars will see the rows and rows of crucifixes on the Viaduct; a sordid scene of vagabonds wandering the sidewalks until they collapse or until dawn restores genteel society.


Consider : "What may be done at any time will be done at no time."

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Urban Soup (Part III)

Today it was more like miso soup. I have always been intrigued by miso soup: the little bits that swirl and eddy at every movement of spoon or chopstick, resembling the clouds of Jupiter, instigating many discussions of chaotic behaviour, many discussions trailing off long into the night. (Ah, if only!)

The miso soup also has larger pieces floating around, not subject to the chaos and indeterminacy of the smaller pieces. Large pieces push the collective currents of the small into certain configurations. So it is with cities: hundreds of confident parades sweep our streets; billboards trumpet the secret ambitions of marketing executives; food trucks on side streets betray the emptiness of their drivers' lives; coffee shops flooded with elementary school children probably visiting the "vibrant" downtown for an art trip, or maybe a geography trip, or maybe a media studies trip. We have our granules of churches clogging up traffic flow on key arterials; we have workmen emptying out sketchy neigbour houses: neighbours whose vice-filled ways denuded our trees long before autumn hit. These pieces do nothing to sort out the chaos that flows all around them; they'll occassionally stick to the spoon (that's why I usually use chopsticks).

Forgive me if I'm not making sense. I've been moping around and I figure only the full disorganized schizophrenic glory of a pointless mixed metaphor can shock me back to the land of the living and the colourful. Speaking of colour, you all need to check this out. Go to the "visual illusion".

Consider: "If we're going to be damned, let's be damned for what we really are!"

Monday, November 07, 2005


It's something strange and mashed up and leaves you feeling violated and dazed and with those "feelings of sadness"--like a chance meeting leading to child—like a fight picked on alcohol impulse and leading to a triple stabbing—like a lonely cloud on the western horizon temporarily brilliant orange from hiding the sun—like the moon whose phases are identical to all observers on Earth, and which is everywhere about us—like Jesus on the half-pipe—like an obedient congregation—like the clanging of the gongs to summon limbic trances—like the smearing of the red ochre paints and the spearing of the sows—like the capitalized (on purpose) Tables and Chairs picked from one situation and abstracted for the benefit of the local associative processes—like mnemonics that just cause greater confusion and require second-order mnemonics—like the quale of qualia, existing qua an obstructive anti-mechanism—like a bunny’s ears or a fish’s air bladder: perfectly adapted replicable mechanisms—like arpeg-chords, a little bit of non-official jargon—like the myriad fundaments of the Actual: concrete, convective, four-dimensional space-time, five-dimensional Fourier space, brain stem, the cell, all somehow wrapping around—like the thought inexpressible in words which is rendered non-existent by that very property—like inner beauty—like inner longing—like limbic pining—like the body politic longing for justice but remaining apathetic—like biblical references ending up bringing myriad shit together—like critiques of “tenuousness”—like the aesthetics of exhaustion—like the practical ethics of nihilism—like “death is death, no matter the means”—like being simultaneously shit-together logical and hiddenly fucking post-modern—like bear caves—like the concept of hibernation I hade not considered for years—like leeks and some very fine low-key empty love stories ending with non-pretentious little epiphanies: “N— always said: “you don’t need your own car; you just have to be friends with someone who has one”. But I want my own car.”—like the hopeless longing of banging wet condoms at the discmen containing “the Pill”—like brown eyes and red vessels—like pinkeye and pills to choke a horse—like the spades and trowels of the underground people—like fiddle strains reflecting off the church steeple—like a shattered Faberge egg—like the millions of points of light in a Swarovski store dulled out by smoke and mirrors—like the sparse and spare melodies of Debussy—like the onion-shaped steeples of the Eastern Orthodox churches—like black cardboard paper to brace the windows during the bombing runs—like the shit-filled estuaries of Calcutta—like the buffered and re-buffered river systems with dissolved heavy metals—like piles of dying llamas, alpacas and other dromedaries—like the greatest biological mistakes—like our messed-with neurotransmitters—like the burning ash tree in the back of my head spilling smoke out of my eyes—like the unrequited metallic clanging of precision-parts lathes—like cogs and gears—like obvious signs of possession: arms around, screening functions, silencing the dissent, slapping the cheek and jowl—like the weeping of a wonderful and legitimate Jesus who I weep for as well, though not as theatrically—like the anger of Odin and the falling off of Yggdrasil—like the stacks of bound leeks on the supermarket shelves singing in metaphysical agony: “why me? Why me!?”—like the crushing hammer of Shiva’s belly-dance—like the fighting of Bristol punks in front of the neon marquee casting shimmering greenness on their skin—like the brown eyes crushed by an oil spill—like the hopeless realism of our millions of suicides—like the spirits of the ancestors housed in our rocks—like the gradually hardening neural plasticity—like ideas coalescing out of the chaos into mandalas with foundational assumptions at their centres; tapestries on our walls—like an ancient grudge settled around a samovar—like the quales of pills—like advertising and spareness and sparseness of the highways soundscape—like the twilight of the jaywalkers—like the extreme aspirations of the kayaker longing for Doritos—like the aboriginal poetry recited to the ten thousandth line—like the tales we told of ancient loves—like the velvet thrones of the oligarchs—like the office tower’s lit majesty visible through a ground-floor suburban window—like sunsets reflected off the golden reflective façade of a smaller office block—like the memory work of those killed early—like quality versus crushing voluminous sledgehammers—like distillations of the past three millennia of human logical longing—like a complete unknown emerging to strangle the spider—like the spider fighting back and prevailing with a little help from his friends—like the brotherhood of vervet monkeys—like the fires of the sisterhood initiation rituals of nameless, timeless history—like the slow emergence of the objectivity of Truth—like endless varieties of enlightenment—like gongs chiming—like institutes being built to divert crow migratory patterns—like trees on which friends and lovers climb—like epiphanies ripped from melodramatic films—like the secret that was ironclad coming undone with a little help form peepholes and glory holes—like the cackling of the HIV culture despite the medical technician’s finest attempt to turn off that racket so the doctors can think—like a sublimated sense of humour that is patently no longer funny—like paint fumes chipping away at the vetromedial prefrontal cortex—like constellations scrambling their lines 50,000 years in the future—like new narratives overtaking old narratives—like shorter streams of thought choking out the longer attempts at contemplation—like a pick-up truck colliding with a tram—like the leaves of the saguaro bush bashing the Basho tranquility of swaying stems—like pistils and stamens growing sticky in ancient anticipation—like bees and pistils caught up in un-Christian love movements—like the rude form of the studded racial joke falling out of my window and shattering like so many Faberge eggs—like the repetition of “like, like”, like: “taken up with you”, like: “will you be mine?”, like: “sadly stupid and bereft of content—intentionally”—like my one thousand lovers stroking the ultra-thin latex preventing us from coming together—like happy families around filial dinner tables sawed up by the patriarch—like the attitude that anyone can marry and dominate anything they so chose for the purpose—like the politics of using dashes, not periods—of using incantatory repetition over substance—of violating substance and tearing its delicate tissues for the sake of ultimate stylistic masturbation—like the most disturbing temporary asides—is it still permitted, because the pendulum—my God, the pendulum is swinging back!

Consider: "Verse: Em - A - D - Cmaj7. Repeat a few times. Bridge: Em - A - Cmaj7 - B7. Chorus: Em - B - Em - B - C - G - B7. Build me a song."

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Urban Soup (Part II)

I love recognizing strangers in the shifting lanscape. It's like finding that pepper corn in boiled cabbage soup. You'll never bite down on it, but it gives focus at least as something to eat around. (If you've never had boiled cabbage soup--I'm talking subsistence-level boiled cabbage soup--don't worry.) There are three such things in my mind now:

The Street Sweeper: This fellow driving his gargantuan machine comes every evening and just washes out all the crap accumulating with the carelessness of passers-by and careless students. The hot jets of water sound like the tsunami has finally penetrated inland and is about to take me for a ride. The lights flash everywhere and I cower here behind my desk. One could orchestrate revolutions with this behemoth. I have visions of driving it right into the legislative chamber of some puppet-parliament while the grateful people cheer. All this is outlined in the red of the setting sun. The flag of this imaginary central Asian republic waves proudly. Our protagonist gets the girl, who is also swept up in the public outpouring of emotions. The credits roll and J-pop begins to play. (Something like "we fighting love"...)

The Buttery Boys: This is in the cafeteria where I eat as I study. There are many groups that gather in here, but the most prominent is the table reserved for the custodial staff. A wonderful multiethinic rainbow family, and the foreman seems to be an educated fellow. Smart: the university probably pays well, and the union is powerful. Thye discuss current events with long digressions into health and politics. Somehow looking at these people makes me not all that afriad if the approaching flu pandemic.

The Tour Bus: What are they sight-seeing on my street? We're not a glamorous street (although we do have what amounts to the white house of the Canadian left just down the block: it is painted green and has a fairly ornate door). They are free to look at the broken gate in the alley, at the blighted square of earth trampled by one too many construction-worker boots, at the bay window with the blinds down and the drunken pumpkin (complete with bottle of tequila) throwing up its own guts. They can gawk and take photos of our scavanged furniture on the porch. They shouldn't forget our garbage pile. That's a big pile. The raccoons get at it: so it goes.

Consider: "This and this."