I must admit that in my last post, I committed an act of hyperbole. The hotel room did actually have one unique characteristic I'd never come across before. The shower curtain rod was a CURVED shower curtain rod, so that the curtain swept out in an arc away from the tub. Wow, what do you know—a hyperbola hyperbole! Or, perhaps more accurately, a "lack-of-hyperbola hyperbole". Yes, that's much more accurate.
Days Inn, Indianapolis. I'm watching planes land. Actually, I don't see them land. My wide window offers an impressive panorama, but the runway isn't quite visible. Some of the planes are rather large. They have "FedEx" painted on their sides. Other than the planes, my view consists of one (1) hotel parking lot, one (1) interstate highway (I-70, specifically), one (1) darkened building across from the parking lot, and last but not least, a whole lotta nothin. Inside, my view consists of The Blandest Hotel Room In America, Possibly The World. It's so bland, in fact, there's no need to describe it. You already know what it looks like.
Appropriately, this extremity of blandness is where I learn of the passing of the 38th Hardest-Working President of the United States, James Rudolph Brown. It seems like only yesterday when the Godfather of Soul replaced Spiro Agnew as Vice Minister of Super Hard Funk. And oh how I seethed when Soul Brother No.1 pardoned Nixon. But let's put that aside for now. Mr. President, you were born, you did your funky best, you died. What more can truly be expected of any of us? Not much. Goodnight, sweet prince.
As I was saying, this mysterious stranger came up to us and asked, "Did I overhear you say you's wantin' to see some them dead aliens?" I thought about it for a moment, and then I realized something: I suddenly was no longer interested in dead aliens. I told the man as much. He looked surprised. "Really?" he said. "I don't get it. A second ago you seemed pretty damned eager to get a looksee at some them dead aliens they got over there. What changed yer mind? You ain't yella, are you?"
To which I replied: "Well, I WAS feeling excited about dead aliens, but ever since I decided to pause my telling of this story and come back to it later, my enthusiasm for it has waned. The conceit has become stale, worn out. Perhaps this is because I've allowed two days to pass between the initial flash of inspiration and this current attempt to recapture it, but what could I do? The kitchen needed cleaning. When I realized I wasn't going to be able to wrap up the story in short order, I had no choice but to abandon it at a suspenseful point and hope that I would be able to pick up on it later, with the same energy and spirit that had made my initial effort so clever and entertaining. Alas, I'm afraid it was a case of lightning in a bottle. It was a very special set of circumstances that led me to create that world, to inhabit and breathe life into those characters. I was, in other words, 'in the zone.' I may yet regain residency of the zone sometime in the near future, but by then I will have most assuredly lost all interest in dead aliens, Area 51, and even my dear sweet Mitzi, who through no fault of her own will now be forced out of existence by my shortsightedness, my indifference, my deficit of attention. So long, Mitzi, here's to you!"
And with that I raised my half-empty Harvey Wallbanger to my dear Mitzi, who was already starting to fade into nothingness, though her gleaming white smile remained, like the Cheshire Cat. The mysterious stranger said nothing, just grinned knowingly and shook his head. Then they both were gone, along with the bar, the desert, and even the state of Nevada. All that remained was me, on my couch, typing, watching Family Guy.
Ah, what a weekend. The wife and I just got back from a richly deserved vacation. We went to Area 51 (aka Groom Lake, aka Dreamland, aka...well, nevermind, it's a long list) in southern Nevada. Of course, as you know, Area 51 is strictly forbidden, with security personnel under orders to use lethal force on trespassers. Boy, did we find that out the hard way!—our Grand Cherokee has the bullet holes to prove it! Yeah, that was a close call, but we managed to evade capture, or worse, and now we've got a great story to tell the grandkids! And even though we were disappointed that we wouldn't be allowed inside Area 51, we did manage to get a room at the Best Western just across the street in Area 52. It's really amazing how much development has sprung up in Areas 52 through 55, due, I guess, to Area 51 tourism. (Even though you can't go in, you can see quite a bit if you bring along a high-powered telescope or binoculars and stand just outside the Area 51 border.) Yessiree, progress is on the march in the Nevada desert. The region might soon lose its "middle-of-nowhere" status. Our hotel, for example, was flanked by a Burger King, TGIFriday's, Gap, Starbucks (three of them), and a brand new edition of the famous Moonlite Bunny Ranch, the only chain of legal brothels in the U.S.! Area 52 also boasts an elegant golf course and country club—"The Desert Rose," it's called—though we didn't have a chance to check it out. Maybe next time! No, Mitzi and I actually were very determined to see what we came there to see, namely, dead aliens. Perhaps, we thought, we would be lucky enough to witness an alien autopsy in progress! The only question was, how to get inside the facility? We were sitting at the hotel bar stewing over this question, languidly stirring the umbrellas in our drinks, when from out of the shadows crept a mysterious stranger in khaki shorts and a wide-brimmed straw hat (such as bushmen wear in the Australian outback, I've heard). "Say, friend," he whispered to me in a gravelly western drawl as he sidled up to the bar and leaned in confidingly, "Did I overhear you say you's wantin' to see some them dead aliens?"
December I like. It's a nice month. Then January sucks, February sucks, March sucks, April sucks, May is nice, I like May, I like June, I like July, August is okay, I like September, September's nice, October's okay, November...indifferent, December I like, then you have January, which sucks, then February sucks, March sucks, April sucks, May is nice, June is nice, I like July, August is okay, September is nice, October's okay, November I'm indifferent about, December is nice, I like December, then January sucks, February sucks, March sucks, April sucks, May is nice, I like June, July is—whoops, I seem to be repeating myself here. Sorry about that. But note how my preferences seem to fall along seasonal lines. For example, I seem to dislike most or all of the winter months, whereas I appear to enjoy the summer months, all the while feeling quite ambivalent about the "in-between" months of spring and fall. Let me tell you another thing I've noticed about the seasons. I've noticed that the winter months tend to be months of cold weather, whereas the summer months tend to be warm weather months. I am prepared to conclude from these findings that I, Matt Walker, am partial to warm weather, as opposed to cold weather. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. If my dislike of the cold weather months of winter is a rule, then the exception to that rule is my fondness for the month of December. Science cannot explain this discrepancy. Or can it? Can science explain this discrepancy? Can it? Can you? Can any of us? Indeed, can any of us explain anything at all? Are there enough hours in the day, days in the week, weeks in the month, months in the year, years in the decade, decades in the century, centuries in the millenium, millenia in the era, eras in the aeon, aeons in the—well, I guess that's the largest unit of time we have. Do you know of any larger units? If so, don't keep it a secret. Please tell me. Protect yourself. If you see a suspicious package or activity on the platform or train, do not keep it to yourself. Tell a police officer or an MTA employee. Remain alert, and have a safe day. This is...Grand Central, 42nd Street...Transfer is available to the...4, 5, 7, and shuttle to Times Square. Connection is available to Metro-North. Whoosh... This is a Brooklyn Bridge-bound 6 train. The, next, stop, is, 33rd Street. Dingdong! Stand clear of the closing doors, please. Whoosh. Ka-chunk! Whoosh. Stand clear of the closing doors, please. Dingdong! Ka-chunk, Ka—Ding! Stand clear of the— Whoosh. Ka-chunk!
Today I hired a man to finish my sentences. He's a small man—a retired jockey—about 5'2", 112 lbs. But he's reliable, he never complains, and he's good at what he does. His name is Dan. Why did I do this, you ask? I did it because I have enough to worry about in my life without the added stress of having to think up complicated resolutions to every vague and desultory whim I choose to verbalize. Here's how it works. Dan follows me around wherever I go, and whenever I give the signal—two blinks accompanied by a strong nasal inhalation—he finishes the sentence I'm having trouble with at that moment. For example:
At lunch today, I was at a deli in midtown, waiting to place my order. Standing in line behind me were two teenage girls chatting incessantly about the new translations of Proust's In Search of Lost Time. It was rather a heated argument, with one of the girls expressing her preference for the original, C.K. Scott Moncrieff translation (with the Kilmartin revision), while her companion staunchly defended the new translation of the first volume, Swann's Way, by Lydia Davis. Normally, I don't like to get involved in petty adolescent disputes of this sort, but something about their obnoxious screeching drove me over the edge. "Look," I said, "both translations have their own strengths and weaknesses. It's okay to prefer either one. So stop yammering on about it, go home, and..." At this point I couldn't think of what to say next, so I gave the signal, and there was Dan, right on cue: "...bake some cookies." Not quite what I was looking for, perhaps, but a good start. The stress I avoided by not having to finish the sentence was proof of Dan's value. I could see we were going to get along nicely.
After the girls left (leaving me with a few choice words of their own), I was ready to order. "Give me a ham on rye with..." Blink blink, sniff. "...hummus and barbecue sauce." (Again, not quite what I had in mind, but luckily the sandwich would turn out to be delicious.) "Oh," I added, "and hold the..." Blink blink, sniff. "...mayo," said Dan.
Soon I'm hoping to reach a point where Dan can predict exactly when his talents are required, obviating the need for the signal. I'll be sure to let you know when that happy day arrives. Until then, take care of yourselves... [Blink blink, sniff] ...and each other.
I will be tired tomorrow, but it will be worth it. I'm getting up early for an interview with yet another temp agency. It's a temp agency run by women. The point is, after the interview, I'll have a whole day in which to do stuff.
America's scariest poet, Frederick Seidel, has a new book called Ooga-Booga. You should give some serious thought to purchasing it.
I'll leave you with a misheard quote from a Flaming Lips song:
"If you could make your own money And then give it to the bunny Would you do it?"
I just learned that the second line ends with "everybody," not "the bunny," which is really what it sounds like. I was disappointed when I learned this, because I think my version is much more interesting. Am I not wrong?
Am I the only one wondering what Boris Yeltsin is up to these days? Seriously! Clinton's been visible, out there doin' his thang, makin' it happen. Where are you, Boris? I suppose you're enjoying retirement, which is understandable. I can't blame you. A 5% approval rating would make me rethink the whole politics thing too. You're probably doing a lot of gardening. Maybe some golf now and then. I feel you. Still, it would be nice to hear how you're doing. It's been too long. I guess I haven't seen you since, what, the First Chechen War? Yeah, what a bummer that was. Anyhoo, you've got my cell #, in case you want to hang out sometime. Say hi to Tiffany and the kids for me. (I bet Tiff's been getting to see a lot more of YOU these past seven years, if ya know what I mean!) Seriously, Boris, all the best.
On an entirely unrelated note, I wrote a sestina about Shelley Duvall that I was planning to post on here, but the formatting got all effed-up and I couldn't figure out how to make it look good, so I guess that means...no sestina for YOU! Sorry. Blame the blog gods.
From time to time it can be beneficial to remember those people who, in certain periods of history, have been forced to live under oppressive and trying circumstances. Consider, for a moment, the plight of the young white heterosexual American middle-class male in the early years of the 21st century. 'Tis true, I myself am a member of this habitually repressed and downtrodden minority, so let me relate to you my story, or a small part of it anyway, so that you may be humbled, and so that you may come to look on us young white heterosexual American middle-class males as something more than the untouchable, subhuman monsters we are often made out to be in the media.
I might as well begin in the shower, for that is where people like me often find ourselves after waking and before breakfast. Today when I stepped into the tub, I noticed that the bar of soap on the little shelfy thing was worn down to a thin slice, making it fragile and difficult to grip. Ordinarily, I would have simply stepped out of the tub and fetched a new bar of soap from behind the bathroom mirror. But here's where tragedy struck: I realized I had already TURNED ON THE WATER, meaning I was already wet, and therefore unable to step out of the tub without dripping water ALL OVER the bathroom floor. Thus I was forced to bathe my entire body using a small, slippery shard of Lever 2000. At one point, I actually began to fear that I wouldn't have enough soap left to sufficiently scrub both of my shins. Luckily, a Red Cross worker happened to be passing by on the street below my window and heard my desperate cries for help. She rushed to my door (the door of the building, so I had to quickly towel off and buzz her in), then sprinted up the five flights of stairs to my apartment, where she found me (back in the tub now) trying pathetically to pick up the tiny soap from where I'd dropped it moments earlier. I just couldn't get a grip on the damn thing. I was on the verge of tears. At that moment my savior took swift action, retrieving a brand-new bar of Red Cross soap from her first-aid kit, removing the sleek paper wrapper, and handing it to me gently around the edge of the shower door, whispering soothing words of comfort and reassurance all the while.
A close call, to be sure. But luck is not always on our side. That's why it's so vitally important to keep people like me in your thoughts this holiday season. And if one of our number chance to bump into you on the street or subway, pause a moment before you berate him, a moment in which you may endeavor to see past the surface and peer into his true soul. Perhaps then you will finally recognize him for what he is: a human being, just like you.
On that note, I humbly exhort you, my readers, to make a modest contribution—whatever you can afford—to the Matt Walker Grooming & Hygiene Fund. I accept all major credit cards (yeah, even Diners Club—can you believe it?). Thank you, and have a blesséd day.
I'm watching a show about the planets on the National Geographic Channel. At one point, a scientist and his assistant perform a demonstration concerning the atmosphere of Uranus (or is it Neptune?). The narrator mentions that the assistant's name is Eddie Goldstein. Why is it important that we know the assistant's name is Eddie Goldstein? It seems to me that in a show about the PLANETS, the small fact of a person's name being Eddie Goldstein is pretty insignificant. Don'tcha think?
Okay, peoples, let's get one thing straight. Companies that pretend to sell naming rights to stars or other celestial bodies are fake. The only group with the authority to name stars is the International Astronomical Union (IAU), which cannot be bought (unlike pirates). So save your money. Use it to buy some chicken wire for your rabbit hutch, or some rabbit wire for your chicken hutch, or some bologna for when your young nieces and nephews visit you and they demand bologna sandwiches because their mommy always makes them bologna sandwiches so why can't you you big dorkface, you clueless, hapless, incompetent caregiver. God, this guy is so lame. Why did we have to come here? Let's go out back and play on the tire swing.
Good news: Captain Kidd has decided to release me as his hostage in exchange for thirty gold pieces and a case of brandy. Who says a pirate can't be bribed? (Well, no one, I guess, seeing as how pirates are seen as disreputable people anyway.) Also, I think he took a liking to me when he found out we share a birthday. I don't defend him merely because he's a fellow Aquarian. He really is a stand-up guy once you get to know him. He's a misunderstood figure; a victim of circumstance. And of course the liberal media never tire of smearing this very fine and respectable man, this God-fearing patriot, this truly swell gentleman, who devotes so much of his time and personal wealth to helping the needy in their times of need. Shame on you, Keith Olbermann. Shame on you, Paul Begala. Double shame on you, Jim Lehrer, you queer-loving commie bastard. When will these idiots learn, I ask you? When will they learn?
In any case, I'm enjoying my last few weeks aboard ship before we pull into New York harbor. We're still about a thousand miles out, and we may swing by Bermuda to do some pillaging, if the weather holds. Bill (we're on a first-name basis now) lets me above decks sometimes to get some sun. He even lets me whip his cabin boy with a cat-o'-nine-tails when the lad does something stupid, like forget to polish the Captain's scrotal piercing.
All in all, it's the life for me, as the saying goes, and a part of me will be sad to disembark when we finally drop anchor. Actually, I think I might ask Bill if there are any employment opportunities on the Adventure Galley. Perhaps I could push his first mate overboard and assume that position myself. Of course, one should be careful assuming any position on a pirate ship. It can get very lonely out here, wink wink, nudge nudge. Oh well, anything would beat my last job—document scanner at a doggy daycare. What a drag that was.
Wish me a safe trip home, friends, and I'll be seeing ye stateside ere the new year dawns.
Earlier tonight I had a pain in the small of my back. Now it's gone and I'm glad. I just hope I won't ever have to climb Mt. Everest. Can you imagine a world in which that were compulsory? I can't, and I've been trying for years.
If you add one letter to Arbus—the letter "i"—you get Airbus, a European airplane—or should I say aeroplane—manufacturer. I don't like flying. It gives me ear problems.
Car alarms keep going off and Star Trek is on TV, meaning I'm having trouble concentrating on anything else. I can tell they've edited the show so they can show more commercials. The original running time for each episode was 51 minutes. The typical running time for an episode of Veronica Mars is 42 minutes. Where will it stop?
All done with doggy daycare. All done with unseasonably warm weather. It hurts to look at the screen, but I have to in order to fight. I mean write. There was a downpour tonight in which I was soaked. It lasted six or seven minutes. All of my belongings were OK. The water that had threatened to fall on them after soaking through my backpack did not have enough time to carry out its plan. I carry a plastic grocery bag inside my backpack wherever I go. When it looks like rain, I wrap up my books and electronic devices inside the bag within the bag. This always works. In this sense it is like Santa Claus, who is said to begin preparing for the Christmas season on December 26. I have rarely, if ever, been as sleepy as I am now.
Zadie Smith is extremely beautiful, except for her teeth, which are English to the root. She is a very good writer but I can't stop thinking about how beautiful she is. Julie Orringer is also extremely beautiful. So is Heidi Julavits. So is Vendela Vida. It's hard to think of Heidi Julavits without thinking of Vendela Vida. Not that that's a bad thing, I suppose. A few weeks ago I saw Heidi Julavits read from her new novel, *The Uses of Enchantment*, at the Chelsea Barnes and Noble. I have never been inside the Chelsea Hotel, though I have walked past it several times. Ethan Hawke made a movie about the Chelsea Hotel called *Chelsea Walls*. The first time I saw it I saw it alone. The second time I saw it I saw it with a very good female friend of mine.
I work not in Chelsea but in the West Village, at a doggy daycare. Tomorrow, December 1, is my last day. It's a temp job, scanning documents. It's tedious and monotonous work, but fortunately I enjoy tedious and monotonous work. I listen to the radio all day, just like I did when I washed dishes in Indiana. The West Village is also called Greenwich Village and is adjacent to Chelsea.
Cozart is my mother's maiden name. The URL mattwalker.com was taken, so I chose something a little less patriarchal. Cozart sounds way cooler than Walker anyway.