Bar 149 is a good one

I wasn’t in the mood to experiment today. I spent the last two days coding and I just wanted to sit in a cool, familiar place, and get some work done. U Kormidla is just the ticket for that. It is a quiet place, not smoky, and cool on a hot summer day. I pointed my feet down the hill, already planning what I would order. Alas, on the door was a sign with the new hours — hours which did not include the one I was standing in. U Slamu was right next door, but was hot and smoky. There were a couple other places open, but they didn’t serve food. I was thwarted. Lost, adrift, I wandered the neighborhood, looking for the right place to sit and work.

It’s just too damn bright outside to work today, even in the shade my screen just can’t compete. I did a big loop of the neighborhood to no avail, so I decided to head for another neighborhood.

To be honest, I’m not sure what it was that stopped me from getting on the metro. I went down into the station, the train came and left and I didn’t get on. I resurfaced and decided to walk through the park across from the metro station, venturing into unexplored territory. I wandered the paths, my quest temporarily on hold as I surveyed the local scuptures — rocks standing on end. There was nothing handy to balance on them, which was a pity. At the far corner was a small hill, I stood there for a bit, and as I was turning to go back the way I had come I spied a Staropramen banner half a block farther on. What the heck.

Right next to the Staropramen bar is the one in which I now sit. It is right nice. The Guinness sign caught my eye first, then the food specials posted outside. Even so, I almost didn’t come in. Finally I gave myself a little push and in I came.

If U Kormidla (The Helm) has a nautical theme, this place turns it up to 11. Everything is dark wood, and a cieling fan turns lazily, casting shadows in the low light. There is an impressive aquarium embedded in the wall behind my head, and a hodgepodge of kitch in a generally nautical theme. Out of place but welcome is the large electric fan by the door. The only other patron in this room just spent a moment dancing in front of it.

The waitress/bartender is pretty, with an easy smile, and she brings me beer and food. It’s the perfect relationship (although even as I typed that she said “Ahoj” (rhymes with Ahoy) and left). Still, if any place can pull my brain from the land of logic and into the vast uncharted waters of creativity, this is it.

Gender, my eye!

Many languages assign genders to all nouns. In czech, nouns are masculine, feminine, or neutral, and the masculine category is further divided into animate and inanimate. The gender of the noun can make a big difference throughout the sentence, and the rules for how to form the seven cases of each noun vary by gender and by whether the word ends with a hard or soft sound (although there are special cases for certain word endings).

Plural is another story, with the noun changing depending on how many things there are (in most cases there are three forms: singular, plural up to four, and plural five and up).

For pronouns, where English retains a few vestiges of declension (e.g., I and me), Czech is much more complex as well. So when I used a sentence with “my eyes” in it, and very carefully selected the form of “my” to match the plural of “eye”, I was taken aback to be corrected. “Hang on,” I said, flipping to the relevant table in my textbook. “I want to make sure I have this right. Oko is neutral, right?”

Here’s the thing. The singular for ‘eye’, oko, is neutral. The plural, oči, is feminine. The same goes for ears and children.

Why being a writer makes it more diffucult to learn another language.

Each week I receive as homework a set of sentences to render in czech, each carefully designed to stretch my abilities with the language without breaking it. In the past three weeks the scope of these sentences has taken a gratifying and very enjoyable step forward. I will see a sentence, something that would seem quite ordinary, but it represents a whole new range of things I’m able to say. Heady times.

Last week one of my sentences was, “In the middle of my room, there is a chair.” This one really didn’t push any new grammar boundaries, but it was nearly the last sentence of my homework that I did. It seemed like a good opening sentence for a story. There’s a lot packed into that sentence, the narrator’s only room has a chair, seemingly alone, in the middle. It raises lots of questions. It was only the because my lesson was in two hours that I managed to keep on the homework. Homework completed, lesson survived, and a Czech movie with my teacher viewed, I was ready to sprint for the keyboard.

Which is a bit of a pity, because Iveta left the question, “so, what are you doing now?” out there, and I answered with “I’m going to go sit by myself and work.” It’s probably a good rule of thumb, as a single guy, that when a pretty girl asks me something like that, I should keep other answers handy.

Anyway, that sentence was pretty much all I could think about. The chair is in the middle, which puts everything else, narrator included, at the edges. What happened to give the chair such importance? The story’s not finished yet (it’s another of the ‘difficult’ style), but so far so good.

On another homework-related note, for the past two weeks I’ve been assigned to writer a few sentences about my day. The idea was for me to write sentences like, “Yesterday morning I got up at six,” simple uses of the past tense and handy day-to-day vocabulary. I have been unable to perform this seemingly simple exercise. My failure stems from my complete inability to write about something as boring as my life, and all in short sentences, to boot. My first attempt started “Alas, my life is not very interesting, but I did do a couple of things this week.” I managed that sentence all right, and the bit about posting a new version of Jer’s Novel Writer was all right except that “post” (in the sense of upload) and “download” were nowhere to be found in my prehistoric references. After that, I tried to tell about a story I had written, and I got deep into things I didn’t even know I didn’t know how to do.

This week I did a little better, telling the story about trying to tell a joke in czech. A little better, but not much. This week I’m on notice. I’m to write simple sentences that apply what I’ve learned, and grit my teeth and ignore cadence, flow, and expressing relationships in complex ways. In other words: No rambling. Do you know how hard that is?

On another side note, Iveta is picking up a very bad habit of saying things in Czech and expecting me to reply in the same language. The gap between my written and spoken comprehension is vast. It takes me quite a bit of work to separate the words and more often that not some word or cluster completely defies my parsing abilities. I’m considering hooking the TV back up, just so I can practice listening.


Today I was served a huge meal by my brother’s wife’s brother’s girlfriend’s mom. She had almost no warning that we were coming, and we had no intention of staying for food, but there you have it. We were in southern Bohemia, two kilometers from the Austrian border. As had been the case the night before, the conversation was almost entirely in Czech, but I did get a little more tech support. There was a story about our host, who had been a border guard during the communist times until he got caught helping people escape into Austria. I never did learn what happened next.


If you were czech, you would have recognized the title of this episode as a reference to Milan Kundera’s novel The Joke. Last night I was surrounded by strangers who spoke no English, and I tried to tell a joke in Czech. It was my most ambitious attempt to communicate orally outside my lessons.

It didn’t work very well.

I had been listening to the conversation around me, not really hoping to understand a great deal, but at times I knew enough about what was going on that had I been able to form sentences more quickly I might have had something to add. Of course, by the time I had assembled a candidate sentence, conversation had long since moved on.

More often, I would catch words I knew (or knew I should know), standing out like little islands of comprehensibility in the swirling ocean of conversation. (Czech, in fact, when spoken by several people at once, does sound a bit like the surf.) On one occasion, I caught a few words that, when combined, were amusing: “… I bought … five kilograms … piece … zebra … nine crowns …”

I prepared my sentence ahead of time, and sure enough not long after Jirka came by and asked me if I was understanding anything.

“I understand everything!” I exclaimed in Czech, which got a chuckle. “For example…” That caught people’s attention, because I actually pulled off the pronunciation of například pretty well, and it’s not a common word for non-speakers to know. In the following silence my mind went blank. “Moment…” I said, stalling for time, which got another chuckle, a polite one, and I was free to stumble through my joke. “For example, I heard one woman say she bought 5 kilograms of zebra—”

“You mean Žebra,” Jirka interrupted. “Ribs.”

I could have replied, “oooooh, ribs. That’s not so interesting, then.” That would have been funny. Instead I pressed on with the story the way it was scripted in my head, but even after insisting that I had heard zebra, everyone assumed I meant žebra, and the joke came out as someone buying a shitload of ribs for only nine crowns. Which isn’t terribly funny. “I understand everything!” I finished, and got a courtesy laugh, and conversation went on without me.

That’s not to say I would have been adaptable enough to jump on the punch line opportunity in English, either, and I did trot out a fairly complicated sentence that leaned heavily on my new past tense skills, which surprised the folks around me. So it wasn’t all bad. It could have been better, though. It could have been Žert.

Happy Birthday

The reason I was in a tiny village far in the southeastern corner of the Czech Republic was to celebrate the 60th birthday of MaK’s mother. On the big day I sat down to lunch with the family, and after a brief altercation over who would have to drink the warm beer (I almost, but happily didn’t, ask, “whiy don’t you share the cold one and give the other one more time to cool down?”), we were all shoveling down the Special Birthday Soup. These people have a soup for everything. I was debating whether to do a courtesy choke-down on the mushrooms when I heard tinny music filtering in through the double-glazing.

“This is brilliant!” Jirka exclaimed. “When they have an announcement, they play some music, then they make the announcements, then they play some more music. It’s from the communist days. It’s brilliant.”

Jirka spent much of the Czech communist era in North America. He is very critical of all things communist, with odd exceptions. He is himself an operator, a wheeler-dealer, his currency is nods and winks. He is the fire chief (in a village of 300 people), and apparently that means he supplies the ‘club’, the place where the fire department can hang out getting drunk. He figures on being Mayor as well. Communism is not dead in places like this, and his motto is (something like) “work with them, but don’t ever let then forget how badly they messed things up.” I expect when a communist is in a position to help Jirka, exchanging favors and generally doing what it takes to succeed in politics (and everything is politics), history is not an issue.

“Listen,” Jirka says, bounding up from the table as the music ends. He opened a window to the oppressive heat outside and stood, gesturing in excitement with each distorted sentence. MaK and Jessica rolled their eyes.

Of course I didn’t catch it, but even before the end of the “bzhrpt bzfg brchtlejk…” segment of the show the phone rang. It was a call from a fellow villager congratulating her on lasting sixty years. Yes, Jirka had arranged to have the occasion broadcast to the entire village. I suspect most of those who cared already knew, but it was a good way to pick up any stragglers.

Jirka left the window open while the post-announcements patriotic music played.

So, I don’t feel bad about broadcasting Jessica’s age on the Internet. Jirka has already commandeered the most effective vehicle for getting the word out to the people who matter.

A Quiet Afternoon in Moravia

“And then I coughed” my host narrated as I reacted to the bite of the Slivovice. “That’s how I knew it was the good stuff.” He laughed, then turned serious. Like many people, he knows what I should be writing about, and now he was starting to write it for me. “People in America, they would want to read about this, about life here. There are lots of stories here.”

‘Here’ is a farming village whose name I’ve never caught. Horní Something. I was sitting in the home of my sister-in-law’s parents, enjoying the homemade plum vodka (it’s not just wishful thinking, the homemade stuff really is significantly better), while Jirka regaled me with stories of his life in the village, his adventures elsewhere, and most of all, the ongoing restoration of the home in which we sat.

He gestured out the window, where across the street is a small church in moderately good repair. “I was a choir boy in that church,” he said. “800 years old. I could have had a villa in Florida, or an apartment in London, but when I came back here I started to feel it and I knew I had to come back here. Home. I can never be lonely here, even when there is nobody around.” I weighed mentioning some of my own thoughts on home, but for conversations like that I prefer to think slowly, and with Jirka there is none of that.

The house, too, is old, but though the plank floors had fallen victim to moisture and long neglect, the thick walls of stone and brick stand straight. The tile roofs on the main structure and most of the outbuildings were also intact, and the exceptions have now been removed. As with any place that has been filled with humans for a long time, there are stories attached to this old building, and I think more than anything else that is why Jirka bought it.

Some of the stories are larger, and reflect the ebb and flow of history. Before the communists came, a wealthy farmer lived here with his family, and apparently he kept a journal. With the communists came an inversion of the social order, and the family’s lands were confiscated and the people who were put in charge knew little of farming. According the Jirka, the man wrote of mistakes and incompetence as the productivity of the land plummeted. Jirka summarized. “They did not know to spread the manure in February, then they took the man’s last two horses for the slaughter. ‘It is all tractors now,’ the communists said. Too late they found out that their tractors would not work on that land, it was too soft.”

I would like to be able to read that journal myself, not just for the sweep of history, but for the smaller events that transform a building into a home. I don’t know what I would find there, or even if the diarist recorded things like that, but it would be an interesting read.

The house has come a long way since the last time I was here; in fact, it wasn’t really habitable before. The rooms that are complete are very comfortable, and parts of the project reinforce some of my stereotypes of the Czech work ethic. It is obvious Jirka is of the “do it right the first time and never worry about it again” school, and the local craftsmen he has hired do quite well with the message, “time is not important; what matters is precision.” The woodwork is the most obvious example, and one I am less unqualified to comment on. In many cases the old woodwork was lovingly restored, and once again reflects the beauty it must have displayed in the 1930’s, or perhaps even the 1830’s. When new parts were needed, the old style was carefully followed, often using wood from the same era. In the wine cellar he has stripped away plaster to expose the old brick vault, and then coated the brick with modern products to preserve it’s rediscovered glory.

So, you get the idea. It’s shaping up to be a nice place. Assuming Jirka’s money holds out, he should be done with the restoration of the house and outbuildings (“the barn will be a local playhouse”) in another fifteen years or so.

Jirka tells me that there’s another fixer-upper (although already habitable) in the neighboring village going for a pittance. His description of it is intriguing, but I’m not in the market for a career in home repair. It does seem a great chance to build up some sweat equity, though. If anyone’s looking for an escape hatch and isn’t afraid of a hammer, you could do worse.

The Quick and the Deadly

For the last few days I’ve been focussed on short stories. I’m not sure if that’s the right thing to do, except they’re a hell of a lot easier to get published and a bit of name recognition can only help my novel-flogging efforts.

Maybe three days ago I was struck with a mental image that I could really get my brain around. It’s been done before, but everything has. Ideas are worthless; it’s what you do with them that matters. I sat down to craft that moment into a story. With the image came a voice, and I’m not sure why, but that voice is really stinking hard to write. The story is told in broken fragments by a broken man, but there is a transformation taking place, revealed (in retrospect) through sensory impressions, and every word is critical. Roughly seven hours in I have six paragraphs, which still need to be fine-tuned. Perhaps a tenth of the story. Hopefully the pace of writing will pick up as the story moves into the confrontation.

At roughly paragraph four I had another idea. I took a break from that story and cranked out a rather fun 1700 words about why demons are so cranky when summoned. A lighthearted tale in three brief acts, it teaches us the importance of being polite — especially to powerful demons. That story spilled out through my fingers, and after some revision today has that flash-of-light-off-the-corner-accompanied-by-the-high-pitched-bell-ring of “marketable”. (Note to newcomers: We of the Muddled Empire are not afraid of hyphens. In fact, we are doing our level best to alleviate the worldwide hyphen surfeit. As with all gluts, China is to blame.)

Now it’s back to the slow one. I’m at what may be the most challenging paragraph. Man, I wish I could get confirmation that the style is working, but it’s going to be a long haul before there’s enough there for someone to evaluate. However, I am very happy with the dark and desperate atmosphere of the piece so far. Gotta have faith, brother, and the result might even be good. Nobody said this job was easy. Well, almost nobody, anyway.

A troubling sign

This may not be news to locals, but I don’t think they understand the true import of the event. TGIFriday’s has arrived in Prague. Sure, McDonald’s has been here for a while now, as has KFC, and I assume there’s a Hard Rock Café around here somewhere. (Note to self: If there isn’t, make a deal with a bootlegger at a flea market to buy up a bunch of fake Hard Rock Prague t-shirts and flog them in Old Town Square.)

If McD’s and The Colonel are the cavalry, the vanguard of capitalism sent to root out the native businesses and push them into the locations no one wants, TGIFriday’s and the others sure to follow represent the next wave. They are the settlers. Moving into areas firmly established by those that came before, they will gradually push the boundaries, creating expanding zones of Urban Interchangeable, where local businesses will have the choice to play the game or move out.

TGIFriday’s will succeed here, no doubt about it. A few other restaurants in town have good burgers, but they don’t have a continent-leaping marketing machine. Now there is a place in town that every American will associate with a higher grade of burger than the fast-food places. They will go. The locals will follow. Why? Because burgers are good. Better burgers are better. I have no idea what the replaced business was selling. That in itself is telling, because I walked past the place regularly. Oh, the power of a name.

I may not know what the previous establishment sold, but it wasn’t burgers. It was different. Maybe not better, but different.

I Have Fixed It!

It dawned on me the other day that my house guest had the tools required for me to be able to dismantle my laptop. Yes, a torx T-8 is to Cassius what a towel was to Douglas Adams. It also occurred to me that since I could make the screen work when I stood on one foot and whistled “The Star-Spangled Banner” through a carrot that the problem might be something as mundane as a loose connector. (This realization was accelerated by Cassius pointing out the obvious.)

I opened up my old Road Warrior and tried not to think too much about the little pieces of plastic that fell out. I’m sure they were simply for cosmetic purposes. Right there at the corner of the case where I found I improve reliability by wedging a matchbox under the power plug (later I found that a stack of two beer coasters under that corner was similarly effective), there was the tiny little connector for the backlight power. Bingo! I thought.

With my computer running, up on its side with its insides right there for everyone to see, I fiddled and futzed with the connector for over an hour. Things got steadily worse. Then they got better. Then they got worse again. Finally I realized that in fact my futzing had become completely superstitious and the connector was not the problem.

One clue was the faint sizzling sound I could hear when the screen was flickering, rather than going out. With ear to electronics I moved to a different corner of the box and took up poking and prodding there. That’s when, back behind a little circuit board, I saw the sparks.

I expect that car mechanics and heart surgeons get used to removing parts labled “not user serviceable” and “warranty will be voided”, but I imagine it was with some trepidation that Joe Cardiologist, M.D. sliced open his first sternum. So it was with me. I liberated the piece in question so that I could play with it in isolation while the computer ran. (More like a neurosurgeon, then, who needs the patient conscious to ask “what did that feel like?” when he prods the brain in question with a pointy thing.)

The little circuit board was wrapped in a plastic film, presumably to prevent it from touching other parts, which could lead to sparks and other bad things. At the edge, where the plastic wrapped around, there was a enough to bulge outwards and press against neighboring components. After yet more gentle torture I found the exact direction of force on the plastic to cause instant screen death. (Luckily I had a second monitor so I could bring the screen back to life by switching screen modes.)

So there it was. And I fixed it using some ancient medical advice: “Doc, it hurts when I do this.” “Then don’t do that.” I pushed the plastic around so that the pressure would not exert the wrong way and I wedged the piece back in so the plastic could not shift back. Ultimately, that is a mechanical solution to an electrical problem (there’s still a potential short circuit on that board), but it’s good enough for me. Better, in fact, because it’s both cheaper than replacing the broken part and has that old-school getting-the-most-out-of-everything feel to it.

I’m back in business, reliably so, and itching to go mobile.

Be’er, now.

As I write this I am sitting under a large umbrella, listening to the rain patter against the fabric. We are in a park; from where I sit I see only trees and slightly dilapidated picnic tables. It’s not raining hard — at least not yet — and it’s nice out here. If the deluge comes, we will move into the big tent. There is a pretty girl whose job it is to bring me beers.

This is summer in Prague. It is the way life should be, they way it is in longing stories of exotic places. The palapa on the deserted beach in Baja California, the tree house bar in the jungle. Beer is always just a little more civilized when consumed outdoors. This is why I want a transequatorial lifestyle, so that wherever the beers are served with a side order of fresh air, borne to me by pretty girls in miniskirts, that’s where I’ll be.

True to a theme we’ve explored here recently, I am already shuddering as I think of the coming Prague winter. I just want to stay right here, just like this. But even if I stayed still, the world would continue to move, leaving me behind, floating in space on the Sirius side of the sun. Overall, not a good solution.

Tiptoe Through the Google

Quite a lot of the traffic to this site is thanks to Google and the other search engines. I imagine that most of those drawn here with the promise of a match on their phrase take one look, say “Well that wasn’t what I was looking for,” and leave again post-haste. Nevertheless, I like to browse through the search phrases that brought people here from time to time, just to get a feel for the odd things people want to find. Some of the things I list below are there for entertainment, while others are there because the link back to episodes I like. Think of this as an index to my site compiled by a dyslexic teenager with raging hormones.

  • where is the rubble from Japan? – Where indeed has all that rubble got to?
  • how to write a nursing reflection essay – visitor 40404 landed, improbably, on an episode about writing without fear that I happen to like.
  • threat level indicator – It seems most of the other threat level indicators out there are for silly things like pandemics and stuff. Fortunately the SSDC threat meter ranks right up there with the top matches on Google.
  • sexy nymphs stickers – attracted to the verbal pot-luck that is the observations category
  • sex pitchers – more economical than sex by the glass
  • band rush bobblehead dolls – that just seems wrong on so many levels.
  • how much for a single rose? – Oh, you are only beginning to pay the price when you fish out your wallet.
  • “rat trap” bucket bacon – another poetry candidate. Anyone want to make a bit of verse that uses this? Connected to a chapter one that starts and ends well. Natasha is cool.
  • “bad song” daniel powter – could the searcher actually have been looking for my version?
  • respectable breast – rated high in google, where, nestled among the more predictable results, was a brief discussion of the American Road Myth, an essay that has since been improved here.
  • “you’re “selling past the close” again – linked to a tour through my unfinished business, an even more muddled ramble than usual, but there are some interesting bits.
  • ned’s albuquerque – sitting in a bar after a long drive.
  • some people ruin their drinks with ice” – a lyric I quote in an episode about a particularly good day.
  • Tallest Structure before 1889 – This recent episode is already attracting attention. (The answer is in the comments.)
  • english story writing-it was raining heavily i dashed in a deserted building – the Stories category page seems to have hit on many of those words.
  • born guy but had sex change now woman with pics – surprisingly, the Stories category page came up on top in Yahoo, despite just a smattering of matching words. No, no pics, and no sex changes, either.
  • origin of the sestina – Google has decided that I have the explanation the world will most want to see. Google is dead wrong.
  • bud light taste nasty – oh, yes it does
  • we met a the sports bar on sat in mesquite – but was Bobbi there?
  • fotbol slang – I don’t know any, but I’m still the top match for an episode in which the Czechs qualified for the world cup (barely)
  • smoll bar – a new addition to the list of bar names people search for
  • speed bowling – the precursor to team bowling
  • pregnant and constant headrush – believe me, there’s nothing on this site that could possibly be of interest on that subject, but there is always the Homeless Tour category page.
  • sunshine company ocean beach – a bar mentioned in this episode
  • strasnice – Google’s first match was for “Find a Grave”. My episodes that mentioned the Haunted City came quite a bit farther down.
  • beyond yotta – the rest of the scientific community is beginning to show interest in my pioneering work
  • haircuts by drunk man – That might yield some interesting results. No haircuts in this episode, but there is drunk.
  • “I LIKE THIS BAR” – not a bad search string — you could combine it with a city name before you go anywhere and find a good place to hang. Like, for instance, here.
  • sabotaging brakes – someone should have put the brakes on this episode, I suspect
  • to inspect mimeographed miles – an odd phrase, that, but there’s been more than one search for it landing here lately. Perhaps it is a line in a poem or pop song or something. Miles strike me as being rather difficult to mimeograph, although that might explain Kansas. Cowboy God was the number two hit.
  • How Many People Owned Televisions in 1950 – I have no idea, and I suspect the searcher came away from the Homeless Tour category page none the wiser.
  • as i drove she began to rub my crotch – linked not to stories from my road trip (there is not crotch-rubing there, I promise you), but to my Stories category page.
  • “Bar and Books” Prague – another bar I mention
  • trouble with trendy fern bars – I don’t have trouble with them, per se
  • “slush pile” “magazine of fantasy & science fiction” – the searcher came to the writing category page, but was probably looking for the Slush God.
  • lil j’s sports bar, san angelo, tx – another in my legacy of bar stories that rate higher than the sites for the bars themselves (if the bar even has a site). Maybe there’s a business opportunity there…
  • sad music – buried way deep in Google’s results was a link to a brief episode where I wonder what might have been.
  • menorca call girls – this is not the place to find out about those, but don’t tell Google.
  • kundera essays – if not call girls, then perhaps the writings of a celebrated Czech author. Linked to the Stories category.
  • moonlight sonata story – Well, I have a story called Moonlight Sonata with which I’m fairly pleased, but not THE story of Moonlight Sonata. I have improved the sotry since, but this version is still pretty good.)
  • “en vogue girl” – Ah, the key line in the lyrics to Cutey Honey Flash!
  • first time auditions daisy – linked to an episode about my experiences
    casting Pirates.
  • “embarrassment to our country”bush – linked to the episode long ago where I declared my candidacy for president last election.
  • why do sneezes come in threes? – linked to a not-very-good chapter one.
  • nature of bowling – not so surprising that Team Bowling would show up, buried deep in a list of results. In fact, it was right before an article called “Aggression in Invertebrates”.
  • hiking – the dot did not interfere from MSN recognizing a kindred spirit.
  • cadíz – I’m surprised my episode about Cadíz ranked so high (5th out of 37,000), but it was the Czech Google, so maybe the presence of a few czech words here and there worked in my favor. Or maybe not — maybe it was my use of the accented í without the accented a. Czech Google may be more accent-sensitive, as are the czechs.
  • 9 bastards of the World – top match on Yahoo linked to a brief episode about Skype bringing cheap bastards of the world together.
  • can pomegranates cause flatulence in some people – came from a search engine I’d never seen before. Linked to the main page where I still have an episode that mentions Persephone and farting.
  • road food weed california – included here as an excuse to link back to an old episode about my trip to Weed, a rambling episode from early in my ramblings.
  • Jerry Seeger – quite a few people recently have been looking for me by name. I must confess I always have to check where they’re from. I know, I know, but I just can’t help it. New York is suddenly an exciting place for someone interested in me to be from. They have agents there.

Of course, there are the perennial favorites – Egg friers and those looking for lyrics to theme songs for very silly anime. Several people have come looking for suggestions about what to write in yearbooks, while others are attracted to descriptions of particular bars. In the last two days, there has been a surge in people searching for Suicide Squirrels, which makes me think it’s time to review the threat level meter.

I get a few hits from image searches as well. The picture titled Rain in San Angelo gets a surprising number of hits. Go figure.

What does this all mean? Are the search engines providing a cross-section of modern thought? I hope not.

Be careful what you wish for…

In a comment to a story I posted a week or two ago, I mentioned another story I had sent to a smaller publication because I didn’t think it was A-list material. In the intervening time I went back to make it better for the next submission, and I decided that it was better than I had originally thought. In fact, I was starting to feel that it was pretty darn good. So I expressed hope that the small mag would reject it, so I could throw it into the shark tank in more visible markets.

Well, I got my wish.

The only thing is that the rejection was by far the most perfunctory dismissal I’ve ever received. Now I think the story sucks again.


Ah, yesterday. A fleeting thing, lost, gone by definition. Some yesterdays leave something behind, a tendril of connection that we can grasp to assert that yesterday was more than just a mathematical concept — more than just a number on the calendar. Some yesterdays linger for lifetimes, becoming The Day That… Most yesterdays fade, however, as further yesterdays intervene, until they are lost into a statistical mish-mash of a “typical day” for that phase of one’s life.

Yesterday was not a typical day, but (unless this writing makes it a Day That…), it is not a day that has managed to linger in memory even until it’s own end. Forgotten before it was even finished.

I was tired yesterday. Two nights previous I had gone out with Cassius and Frodo, and we had welcomed the dawn together. The following night I was surprised to not be drowsy (I think I had given myself jet-lag) so I started playing a computer game. I did this well into the following morning without a break, at which point I had to get up and do things. Four hours sleep, then none at all. So, yeah, like I said, I was tired.

And that, really, is all there is to say about yesterday. No words written, no chores done, no accomplishments. So today my only handle on yesterday is a hole: a day when the lists of things to do all got longer. Most if it I just spent breathing, I think, although I do vaguely recall a nice dinner at home, and this morning there were dishes to prove it. Nice to have a houseguest who cooks.

Germany 3, Portugal 1, Stretchers 0

To the best of my (limited) knowledge, there were no stretchers brought out onto the field for last night’s world cup game. This is what happens when a media empire starts naming names, calling supposedly grown men to task for being babies. Let us all hope the Zero Baby Tolerance policy continues. Italy’s playing in the final, though, so that’s asking a lot. They are, by my reckoning, the third most shameless team of the world cup. And that’s saying a lot.