Stolen from a source I can no longer recall:
Due to an oversight in reprogramming the Diebolt voting machines flown in from Florida, George Bush gets 51% of the vote in Iraq.
Well, here I am, hanging in my new pad (map) while the TV guy is trying to make the satellite work. Satellite! Ooo! Now I can ignore even more channels. Tonight I will perform some sort of ritual to consecrate this soon-to-be-hallowed ground. There’s only one beer left, though, and it’s a long way to get more. Having the grocery store so far away is enough to drive a man to liquor.
I’m not sure the satellite guy really knows what he’s doing. He’s just fiddling with the buttons and the remote control, when the connector on the cable is broken. He’s just spinning through the channels that get no signal. He’s on 189 now. Every once in a while he finds a channel that works, though.
OK, he’s gone now, but the non-satellite channels still work, and now I’m sitting in the comfy chair, sipping a frosty Budvar, watching professional hockey. Yep, that’s right. Sparta’s up 1-0 in the first period. It took me a while to figure out which team was which; there are so many corporate logos on the uniforms there’s not much room for the team identity. It looks like a contest between Siemens Mobile VW Hi-Tec (all the players are named Ferrari) and TCHAS Buska Vjačka (all the players are names Dalkia). The refs are all named ARC impex, all are members of team Skoda, and they have Aquasoft written across their butts. The ice itself looks like it belongs in NASCAR.
But it’s hockey. Right now they’re skating 4 on 3. It’s been a very physical game.
As far as things around the house go, the appliances are definitely used, but the cabinets and countertop are new. The kitchen faucet is a trip. When you turn it on you can hear water running somewhere. A trickle starts, and eventually there is decent flow. That’s when you turn it off. Water will continue to flow for quite a while as the water that had been filling the pipe drains out. Nutty. Shower works as advertised (note to self: towels).
I figured out how to have the temp go down at night to save on heating bills. This morning I am appreciating how long it takes for the temps to recover. (Note to self: house shoes). It’s going to take extra tea (note to self: kettle) in the morning to get me going. I still plan to let it get pretty chilly in here at night (note to self: extra blankets), at least until guests arrive (note to self: extra extra blankets). The fridge (note to self: food) keeps the beer (note to self: more beer) cold but the freezer (note to self: cleaning supplies) is untested.
Since 05-05-05 is right around the corner, I’ve been assessing how many guests I can host at once. The answer: a lot, as long as they’re short. So please, when you send me your reservations, tell me how tall you are. Remember: in this case, short is good!
Mainly this is to tell all y’all that I will be moving today. The new digs are nice, but I won’t have Internet access there until I can get the cable run up to the flat. That requires talking to several people who don’t speak English. In the meantime I’ll pop by fuego’s pad periodically to check in.
On a related note, I will be starting czech lessons next week with a very pretty tutor whose boyfriend is a buddy of fuego’s. Here’s hoping Ivanka introduces me to her cute friends for “conversation practice”.
Here in the Muddled world, February 2th, or 02/02, is oughto oughto day. It’s kind of like a reverse New Years day; its a time to finish something. It’s that deadline you need to get that open-ended project done. Here are my oughto oughto goals:
In order to get number 2 done above, I need suggestions. The others are up to me. What ought you to do?
“You ever been to the British Museum?” he asked me.
“Couple of times.” I like museums.
“There’s a tablet there. Babylonian; before the Bible. Bunch of cats exiled or something. The were called Amankandu. ‘People who in sorrow roam’. Their leader was named Ka’in.”
It made sense. Kicked out of the garden, wandering. “Banned be thou from the soil which has received thy brother’s blood,” I said.
“They’re still out there, the Amankandu. Still wandering. And when they meet, they know one another.” He raised his glass to me.
It it probably far more interesting to me than to anyone else just what it is that brings people here. This is just a small sample of the silly things people look for on the Web, and it’s pretty obvious that what they were looking for was not to be found here. As usual, words that I would prefer Google send to the original reference have been obfuscated here with spaces.
There has been a surge lately in people who can’t spell “picture” correctly, and thus are led to my episode P i t c h e r s. Beethoven is big, but searches concerning squirrel violence are on the decline. As always there are plenty of people looking for cooking advice, especially on the weekends.
I spent the evening writing at Roma. After the batteries were dead and the brain cells were well on their way, fuego and I played some pool. I am not very good at the game at the best of times, and last night was not the best of times. I lost, and then fuego started playing against the bartender. I played a couple more games, but most of the time I was standing at the bar talking to a czech guy who didn’t like being a czech guy.
“I am mad,” he said. I laughed it off, but he convinced me he was right. Nothing like talking to a drunk suicidal misogynist with violent urges on a Tuesday evening. Or on a Wednesday morning, for that matter. The sky was getting lighter when we came home, and at this lattitude in winter that’s saying something. The crazy guy walked with us. I think he wanted to sleep with fuego. He had already given up on me, so I was free to give him drunken pseudo-philosophical advice. I’m sure he will treasure the nuggets of wisdom I offered. At some point I stopped drinking beer, because, well, there wasn’t anything more it could do.
The rest of the night will have to wait for fiction.
The sun is up now, and has been for a long time. I’m listening to the Karel Gott, the Czech Elvis equivalent, cover “Seasons in the Sun” and watching the wind blow outside. It looks mighty cold out there.
It’s a nice place, the top floor of a house with a garden. Two rooms, a little kitchen, and an honest-to-god shower. A shower! didja hear that? I can bathe standing up again. It’s in a nice neighborhood on a quiet street. I haven’t tested any of the bars in the area yet, so there’s some risk. Still, I’m not too worried. The closest watering hole to the house serves Budweiser, which in this country is a fine, fine brew. Hopefully it’s not too smoky in there. Next to that is a cafe/bar that, while small, has all the chemicals I need to get through the day. Gambrinus is down the hill and across a busy road.
The place is already furnished, which saves me a big hassle, and the furniture doesn’t suck. I won’t have Internet access there right away, which is kind of a drag, so I’ll be mooching that off fuego and MaK for a while longer. The landlord is a little guy, older, who doesn’t speak a word of English but seems very friendly.
While there is plenty of room for guests, there are limits. More than three would really be pushing it, unless they were very close friends. I’ll add times when I expect visitors to the official MR&HBI calendar, so check there and make your reservations! As of this writing, I have a vague idea that the first week of May is booked, but I don’t know the exact dates. Other than that, I’m wide open. See you soon!
fuego and I went out apartment hunting today, and I got myself a phone. As with any complex operation, it did not go perfectly. I bought the phone at one place, the phone number and airtime at another, and when I put them all together… nada. Phone and service did not get along. MaK made a couple of calls and it was determined that I needed to go back to the phone storre to have the phone unbuggered so it would work with services other than Eurotel. Usually they sell the phones preunbuggered, but they had missed this one. So, a call to the real estate guy (on fuego’s phone) to tell him we will be a little late, and back to the phone hut we go.
Phone sales guy is apologetic and sends us across the street to the service center. fuego and I follow a series of big red arrows and footprints on the floor that are so obvious even an American can figure them out. Down a flight of stairs, around a couple of corners, and I am expecting to find a cramped little desk with a grumpy tech sitting behind it.
Instead I find a place that is much more spacious that the store on the street above. Music is playing, there is a glass case with displays of obsolete mobile phones, and a friendly woman ready to help us. Oh, yeah, there was a bar there too. Gambrinus and Pilsener Urquell are available while you wait for your phone to be serviced. What a country! It turns out that there’s good reason to have a bar there, they were very slow. But hey, they were probably drinking too. They sure seemed cheerful for people at work.
The flat was encouragingly nice. I’ve got a couple more to look at on Monday, but this was encouraging. The giggly property manager will have to be another episode, when we know more about where that goes.
* * *
Some time has passed since I wrote the above; Jardo (pronounced Yardo) and Teresa joined us and hilarity ensued. At one point I got mildly surprised looks from the others when I said tři correctly, a feat I was unable to reproduce. fuego and I were out pretty late, so today has been more or less a writeoff.
My head’s in a really neat writing place right now, but I can’t keep it on any one narrative. I spent some time honing a couple of shorts, I pondered another one but didn’t get past the title, and I screwed around with all three novels in play right now. Everything I wrote I liked, but I doubt it totalled a thousand words.
But I’m just whining. Everybody has a work day where things don’t move well. It’s just that I’m so close right now. I feel it there, tickling the back of my brain. Calliope, maybe, or one of the other muses, is going nuts right now. Can’t you hear me, jerkwad? Do you not appreciate the gift I’m offering right now? She’s shaking her head, wondering why she bothers.
I, also, am wondering why she bothers. Someone is breathing a deeper truth into my ear, but in a language I don’t understand. Something about Detroit Iron and Swiss Miss.
Bixby awoke with a start. He had been dreaming again. His stepmother had taught him to remember his dreams and record them; she said that dreams carried messages and told of the future. Dutifully he picked up his journal and turned a blank page to the moonlight streaming in the window. His stepmother insisted that he include every detail of his dreams. “You never know what will turn out to be important,” she would say. She was renowned far and wide for her knowledge of magic.
Bixby thought back over the dream. It was one he’d been having often lately. There wasn’t much conversation to speak of except for things like “Oh! Oooooooh! Yes! Yes! YES!” but he remembered the elf-maiden vividly. Not her face, so much, but the way her elf-hair cascaded over her smooth elf-shoulders, the softness of her generous elf-breasts as they defied gravity, her narrow elf-waist… Bixby set to work sketching what he had seen in his dream. He didn’t know much about dreams, but he was really hoping this one would come true.
Over the years Bixby had demonstrated a flair for sketching and drawing. His mother had always encouraged him, and if anything his stepmother was even more enthusiastic. He was uncomfortable sometimes sharing his drawings with his stepmother, but she always just shushed him. “This is important,” she would say. “Don’t be such a baby. Now, think carefully. Are you sure there weren’t two elf maidens?”
Suddenly the moonlight was broken by a shadow. He turned and was looking into a pair of beady black eyes. The squirrel regarded him, unblinking. “We know you have it,” the squirrel said. The squirrel grinned. “And we’re gonna get it.”
In shock Bixby jumped up and turned to face the creature. Had it just spoken? Was he still dreaming one of those dreams where you dream you wake up but really you’re dreaming and then you wake up and you’re confused because you didn’t think you were dreaming before? He shook his head to clear the cobwebs.
“Honey, are you all right?” came his stepmother’s voice from the doorway behind him. “I heard a noise.”
“Um, I’m fine, ma.” Sure, fine. Talking squirrels. No big deal. It must have been a dream.
“Oh, I see you’ve had another of those dreams,” she said.
Not a dream, a nightmare. He turned away from her, back toward the window desperately trying to find a way to disguise the bulge in his pyjamas gracefully. The squirrel was gone.
Bixby did not get any more sleep that night. His stepmother had wanted to sit next to him on the bed and hear about his dream right then, but he had finally managed to put her off. Between getting caught by her in that condition and the talking squirrel, he was a wreck. At first light he decided to chop some wood to work off some of his tension. Ax in hand he was stepping out the door when his stepmother stopped him. “I think we have enough wood already, Honey,” she said.
“Can’t be too safe,” Bixby said. “Winter’s only a few months away.” He dashed for the forest. It was a longer dash than it had been; Bixby had transformed the small meadow that held the cottage into a much larger clearing, dotted with the stumps of the trees he had felled and chopped into firewood. He found a stout oak and set to work with the ax. Once the tree was down he hauled it over to the woodpile. It was much easier for him to move the trunks around these days; his constant chopping had caused his body to bulge with hard, lean muscle even as he grew into his tall frame.
He split up the log in record time, climbing the tiers of ladders to reach the top of the towering woodpile where he put the new logs. He could see all the way into town from up there, high above the treetops, and he imagined them laughing and pointing his direction, mocking his mighty accomplishment. “Just wait till winter comes,” he muttered. The exercise did the trick, though. He felt much calmer. He would be able to face his stepmother now, as long as she didn’t say anything that made him think… those thoughts.
He was surprised to find the tall, thin man waiting for him at the bottom of the last ladder. People mocked Graybeard, but never to his face. He wore the long flowing robes of a man who doesn’t have to work for a living, and the tall conical hat of a wizard.
“Hullo, Graybeard,” Bixby said.
“Hello there, young man. I have something very important to discuss with you. Is there somewhere we can go where they can’t hear us?
“The squirrels. I see you’ve done your best to eliminate their hiding places near your house, but they can be sneaky.” The wizard looked around and lowered his voice. “I need you to do something for me. There’s a thing, see, that I need you to go find.”
“What sort of thing?”
“Shhh!” Graybeard glanced nervously at the woodpile and steered Bixby away from it. “It’s an important thing. I’m putting together a team of experts.”
“I’m not expert at anything,” Bixby protested.
“Can you chop heads as well as you can chop wood?”
“I don’t know. Maybe.”
“There you go then. The others are gathering in a rough tavern in a rough town many leagues from here. The journey will be very dangerous, as the squirrels and their evil minions will hound you every step of the way. Keep your crackers sealed tightly.”
“Why should I go, then?”
“Oh, there you are,” his stepmother said. “Oooh, you’re all sweaty.” She ran a finger over his sweat-slicked pectorals. ‘Rarrr,”
“When do we start?” asked Bixby.
Note that this page will look extra-cool look if you install the font “Maszyna“. I’m looking into embedding the font in the page, but that might be tricky.
If things look wacky it means either the style sheet is cached and didn’t update (usually reloading the page will fix this) or it means you’re using Internet Explorer.
I was walking up vinohrady today and there was a guy standing in front of the Skoda store reading the specs of the latest model. “Don’t do it!” I wanted to tell him. “If you buy that car, you will turn into an American!” Alas, my czech is woefully insufficient for communicating anything remotely abstract.