January 2008

   Well it’s definitely incumbent upon me to explain who I really am as I’ve been receiving emails and comments asking for my professional opinion regarding everything from Aspertame poisoning to zoological cures for migraines. Please stop sending me emails about your headaches. I’m not really a doctor. (Please don’t try to bypass 9-11 by calling me directly either. My wife can’t sleep.) Everyday over the past month I’ve been writing under a different name. Yesterday was no exception. In fact these daily blogs are brainstorming sessions for me. 
     I’m a stand up comedian from Los Angeles and this blog is my attempt to stir up a bit of buzz regarding my next extreme comedy performance. I’m going to be doing my routine from the Vincent Thomas Bridge where I’ll be heckling Hispanic drivers and then bungie jumping over the edge. It’ll be interesting to see how irate people get and what they’ll make of my quick escape. (Will they cut the bungie ?) Yes, it’ll be extreme, extremely hilarious !!
   Stay tuned for more details.
   For the time being here’s a story that has nothing to do with bridges, comedy or zoological cures for migraines…

Sleep Disorderlies

    I don’t see it as a sleeping problem, or a bizarre condition or even an obstacle to my daily routine. It’s just who I am and in fact I often forget that I’m supposedly different from the vast majority of human beings on the planet who simply put their heads to their pillow, straw or rock and fall asleep.  And you know if I think about it I’m sure there are people out there just like me in the middle of Africa or China or God knows where.  We just don’t know about them because they don’t have the internet to blog about themselves. People that take maybe nine or ten hours to fall through even more hypnagogic stages of falling asleep.
    “This day has kicked the bucket,” was what my dad always said before he went to bed. It took me a long time to figure out what he meant by that. For me there’s no cut and dry distinction between being asleep and being awake. I mean I know I’m awake now but there are so many stages of falling asleep for me. Some people experience the hypnogogic state of feeling like they’re falling just before they fall asleep and sometimes people have images that flash through their mind before their lights are out completely. Apart from these moments more people are awake and then they’re asleep and it’s as simple as dying. The day has kicked the bucket, is how my dad put it.
    So the first stage of falling asleep for me begins while I’m still on my feet doing something. I’ll be finishing dinner or watching t.v. when my body starts twitching. This goes on for about half an hour. When I was a child my parents thought I was trying to dance like Michael Jackson in that Thriller video and I guess because of all their oohing and ahhing I just smiled and let it go on. I got a lot of Michael Jackson paraphernalia for Christmas and birthdays – even after the start of his weird years. It wasn’t until I was nineteen that my dad sat me down and questioned my interest in Michael Jackson. I said that I actually hated him.
    “Oh you’re just making fun of him then. Good. You had us worried,” was his response.
    After the first stage of shaking and twitching I enter this second stage where I hallucinate things. I’ll be watching television and I suddenly see my parents clapping while I’m twitching beneath a Michael Jackson hat and wig or maybe I’ll see some event from the day. I rub my eyes and then open them and it’ll be back to a really obese woman opening a silver briefcase in front of a bald guy. I’m used to the hallucinations and can recognize them now. When I was a kid and I started talking to them my parents just thought I had a busy imagination. 
    “Some kids have one imaginary friend. Tommy has an army of imaginary friends,” was what my mom said.
    The third and forth stages I’ve never been able to explain. It’s like trying to describe a color to a blind man. You just talk a lot around an impossibility. I’m not saying I’m better than you I just can’t explain the feeling that accompanies these states. It’s kind of like playing hockey in a Sumo suit in a giant vat of grape jell-o and then you’re body checked. Sort of. See I can’t explain it. 
   The last stage is the hardest because I’m basically living out dreams but I can talk and walk and even put myself to bed. I’ll be brushing my teeth when my toothbrush becomes a mic and I start singing into it with toothpaste flying out of my mouth, dreaming that I’m Bill Murray in the karaoke bar in “Lost in Translation.” Every night it’s completely different. Last night I was writing a note to remind myself to take out the recycling in the morning. I was writing on a post-it note and then I started writing a letter to my heart (Go figure.)  “Don’t forget to keep beating. One-two. One-two. One-two. Just like that and then I swallowed it. After I started choking, my wife kind of yelled at me for carrying a weird joke too far. (She loves our nightly dancing but kind of gets embarrassed when I get up in the middle of a dinner at a friends place and start shaking it. “Here’s the original dancing machine,” is what everyone else says about me.) 
    So that’s what I go through over four or five hours every evening. I’ve never gone to a doctor. I’ve figured all this out on my own and up until now I’ve been letting the world think that I’m just clowning around.
    I’m not.
    I’m just like you.


   It’s time to take off the final mask. Over the past month I’ve claimed to be a host of various personalities: Tom Cruise, a boy dictating the stories of a ouija board and Britney Spears to name a few. In truth, my name is Simon Bridgeton and I’m a headache specialist from the Headache Division of Mayo Clinic’s Neurology Department in Minnesota. In my private life, however, my fascination, which has spanned countless decades now, is with neurological disorders. Hence my interest in the different people whom I’ve taken up as writers of this blog. I’ve been crafting these entries in order to obtain a more profound understanding of these deeply troubled people. (Does Tom Cruise suffer a species of neurological disorder and will there be a condition someday called, “Tom Cruise.”  ? ) 
    I also happen to fancy myself an amateur author. It is for that reason which I’ve written the following story.

Hope for Horror, Rest in Pain

     The rickety carriage rolled to a sudden stop in front of the dark mansion. I opened the small carriage door and lowered myself to the dark snow below. I reached into the pocket of my inner vest to consult my fob. 
      “It’s half eight now so I shan’t be more than half an hour, Yorik,” I shouted at my carriage driver who wrapped his arms around himself as if he were in a straight jacket. He had a similarly deranged look upon his face which had taken me years to grow accustomed to. For the first six months that he was in my service I would, were he to appear suddenly at my back, automatically strike at him with an umbrella or whatever was at hand. His appearance was like an insane phantom. In spite of the blows upon his person, he remained steadfast and explained that he was familiar with this response and apologized and asked if I needed any more tea or if I would like to go for a carriage ride through the Lake District. I would invariably soften my blows and then come to my senses. He was a good servant.
    “Yes, sir,” he said and as I walked to the large doors of the mansion I saw that he was consulting physic in the bottle. It was cold out and I did not wish to begrudge him such an indulgence.
    In the middle of the front door was a knocker in the shape of a devil’s head. It’s nostrils were grotesquely large and – given the flatness of the rest of the face – were the only surface upon which I could lift this curiosity. I put my finger in the devil’s left nostril, dug it in securely and lifted the knocker. I felt something prickly and painful on my finger and released it of a sudden and the knocker fell to the door with a loud crash. It opened slowly.
   “Doctor Mandlestrom ?”
    “The same.”
    The man, who had the look of a consumptive, extended an arm in greeting. 
    “And you must be Tom Cruiser ?”
    “Yes,” he said with a giant flash of teeth which seemed large enough to use as billiard balls in a game of snooker. (Although I myself detest the sport if it can be called as such.) Indeed when he opened his mouth to smile his entire visage was transformed from sickness to a strange sort of health. “Please do come in. The cold is particularly biting tonight.”
     He took me on a tour of his home while explaining how much he admired my work, my writings on eccentric maladies of the mind. I nodded graciously whenever I could but I was unnerved by his manner.
    “And this is my dining room,” he said and laughed maniacally. I had no knowledge of the cause of his bemusement but I tried to keep a pleasant expression upon my face. I thought of the last time I’d hit my servant and how profusely he’d apologized. This calmed my nerves.  
     “And now we come to the piece de resistance,” he said with a flourish of his arm that knocked a stuffed ferret dressed like Oscar Wilde straight off the mantle-piece. “As you see I’ve collected many a curiosity. There are stories behind every item in my home.”
   I smiled but was growing impatient to see a person in his company whom he’d written me about three months previous. A man of the most peculiar nature. 
   “I saved this ferret from certain death on the side of the road. It had been ridden over by a carriage and nobody was kind enough to stop to help it. I knew I was the only one who could give it CPR. Years later I had it immortalized as it’s favorite author.”
    We sat down at his large dining room table and I realized that here was a man who was perhaps more deranged than the creature he was claiming to harbor. Obviously, he spent too much of his time alone in this large mansion with nothing but echoes of his voice to give him companionship.
    “And where is this man that you wrote to me of. The man who thinks he’s a chair ?”
     “Why sir you’re seated upon him,” he said and threw his head back in hysterical laughter. 
    With a start I looked down and realized that I was indeed seated upon the backside of a man whose arms stretched up as if the arms of a chair. His forehead balanced upon the ground and he was perfectly still.
    “He was raised by chairs,” Tom Cruiser said to me laughingly. “He was abandoned by his pauper family and left in an equally abandoned warehouse of old chairs. Those chairs taught him everything he knows.”
    I pulled out my notepad and started writing feverishly.
   What a marvelous oddity !

    I’m not Phillip Guston. I’m not a t-shirt entrepreneur from Sweden. I’m not Tom Cruise. I’ve claimed to be all these people in previous posts because I’m doing research, trying to get inside their heads. Actually, I’m a professional writer from New York and my name is John Mercer. I write erotica for a living but in this blog I’m trying to explore other points of view. 
   But every so often I like to return to erotica…


     Nancy steps through the door with her hands held up in a paused clap beneath her chin. Jessica is familiar with this kind of Monday morning entrance and she cocks a grin as she stretches out behind her desk. She’s in for something lurid.  
     “I had the most fucked up weekend,” Nancy enunciates slowly, savoring each word.
     “Why does that not surprise me ?” Jessica turns her desk nameplate down onto its face. She doesn’t have any appointments until nine-thirty at which time Aubrey Black will be in to complain about their western distributor. 
     “Okay, so I was out with Melanie and Serena Saturday night and we were all slutted out to the tits.” She sits down in front of Nancy’s desk and flattens the lap of her skirt. 
     Every Monday morning, Nancy has some tale of weekend debauchery. They’ve both been working at Smithson and Macintyre for almost a year. Jessica has worked her way up into distribution and Nancy has worked her way into acquisitions, erotica and the pants of several clients.
     “We started the night at that shitty club on Snowden Street and then we ran into Keith who was going to this party in the Latin district so we were like sure.”  Jessica listens but can’t help thinking more about Aubrey. He’ll present her with arguments for another distributor, more than likely friends of his but she tries to listen to Nancy because she does like the Monday ritual of her trashy weekend adventures. She doesn’t drink coffee or smoke. Nancy is her wakeup vice.
    “So just around the corner from El Toro’s we went into this back alley and entered through this door that almost fell off its hinges. We walked through this hallway into this place that was huge. It was a beautiful loft with 16-foot ceilings and this satellite type dish suspended from the ceiling where the guy who owned it slept. I mean it was this real funky playground.”
    “Sounds pretty clean so far.”
    “Keep your skirt on. I’m getting there, well that’s when we met the guy who owned the place and then the coke came out and then he was like, “Do you want to try something really weird ?” and we were like how weird ?”  Nancy is beaming with a perverse smile that she slowly shakes back and forth like she’s airing it out. “He rolls out these giant gerbil balls that come up to your waist and there are these couples curled up inside them. 69ing each other. You know really going at it. He rolls out three of these balls and opens the top of one of them to sprinkle in some coke.”
    “And he tells us how he’s renting these former Cirque du Soleil performers to do these sex shows in giant gerbil balls.”
    Jessica imagines doing business with Aubrey in the confines of a giant gerbil ball. She wonders if they could take each other’s clothes off inside the ball or if they’d have to get into it naked. If she were a former Cirque du Soleil performer she’d be able to take her clothes off within the ball. She’d take his pants off while listening to his voice that rustled like autumn leaves. It was a weird voice that stretched out of the length of his body, blew out of the length of his body.  She wonders if his shape is straight or curved up like a banana. Does it feel different inside her ? It wouldn’t matter in a giant gerbil ball. The whole premise is stupid. As stupid as fuck. In a giant gerbil ball she’d win Aubrey over to faith in their current distributors. She’d point out their current streak of bad luck as cause for the sluggishness in their work. Things would improve. She imagines saying all this in their giant gerbil ball that 69s them around and around. He orgasms with a shout of “yes of course you’re right.”
   “And then he rolled out an empty one,” Nancy says, with a smile that threatens to explode.
   Jessica’s Monday morning fantasy fuck is her one vice. The rest of her life has become business. Business that’s her pleasure.

    Okay, okay I’m not an entrepreneur from Sweden who’s printing short stories on the insides of t-shirts. I’m not a kid with a demented ouija board that’s telling him what to write and I’m not Barack Obama. While I’ve claimed to be these people in previous posts, I guess I’m just hiding the truth of my own ordinary identity. My name is Phillip Guston and I’m from London, Ontario. There’ s nothing very exciting to write about myself except that I’m a writer and I’m doing all these stories to prepare for the postcard competition that the Writer’s Union of Canada is holding next month.  If you write fiction I would recommend that you submit something. 

  I hope you enjoy today’s short-short story.




Bank Machine Hold Up



   The young man with a wooden nose stands several feet behind the two men cowering over the bank machine. He looks out the window and sees his country’s flag atop the gray building across the street. There’s a strip of the flag that streams behind and it reminds him of how long trails of shit follow fish in his tank at home. But he wants to love his country so he looks back to the two men in front of the bank machine.

   The one man, who is taller and might be older, mumbles something into the ear of the other man who nods acknowledgement. There are sounds of buttons being pressed and then the taller man mumbles something in anger. They are buried beneath several layers of jackets and hats and it’s hard to make out their features.

   The young man touches his wooden nose. His index finger runs around one of its wooden rims. Several months back, his younger sister joked that his nose-picking days were over because of the dangers of slivers. Their mother had forced her to apologize and at the end of her rambling apology she talked about losing other body parts. “Touch wood,” she said reaching her arm out to his nose and then she made a horrible face and then ran to her room. The young man didn’t care about any of it. He was thinking about how much money he needed to save to buy a car.

    The bank machine starts beeping and the older man smacks the younger one several times. The young man with the wooden nose takes his paycheck out of his wallet and looks at the numbers in reverse. If this bank had a dyslexic teller he’d deposit this with her, he thinks to himself.  If she were cute, he’d get her number and then take her for a drive in his brand new car. No, if she were dyslexic she’d give him her number all scrambled, like a code and he’d be up all night calling number after number.  He imagines an ordinary telephone number and then all its variations. His day-dream ends in frustrated boredom.

    The two men seem to be finishing their transaction but really they’re just starting again on a clean slate. The older one is teaching the younger one, the young man thinks. The taller one takes a step away from the bank machine and stands right behind his back. “Hurry up. Come on. Hurry yourself up,” he seems to mumble as the other one presses buttons that seem to make too many beeps. The older one briefly turns to make an apologetic smile to the young man but when he sees his wooden nose he quickly turns back and yells louder at his son, friend, whatever. The student throws up his hands in confusion and makes a strange gurgling sound as he tilts back his head.

   “Okay that’s enough practice for today, Mike,” the older man says in a sudden bout of clarity.

   “Yes, tomorrow it’s your turn,” the younger one says but when he takes off his hat he seems to be the same age.


    The young man with the wooden nose approaches the machine and thinks about the car he’ll soon buy.



    Okay, okay, it’s time to come clean. My name is Staffan Sivgaurd and I’m from Stockholm, Sweden. I work for a company that designs t-shirts with magazine articles printed inside of them.  I’m currently starting a new company that will focus on t-shirts that will have stories inside them. Over the past 17 days I’ve written a variety of stories in different narrative voices. If you are interested in any of the previous posts just put down which story you’d like and what color t-shirt you’d prefer and we’ll set you up with a t-shirt with a short-short story inside. In the future we hope to make available more well-known works of literature and further down the line we’ll be making t-shirts with small chips and speakers implanted inside the armpits.
   But without further ado, here’s today’s short-short story which has been inspired, in part, by a cursory reading of Samuel Beckett’Molloy, one of his early novels written well before the years of his success with Waiting for Godot. 


    Some people call me simple. I don’t recall right now who’s called me that but I know it’s been said. It’s difficult to remember their names but this difficulty bolsters my confidence for it leads me to the observation that there’s more “difficult” in me than “simple” and I can thus conclude that those… who were they ?… people, yes those people are so wrong. In any case, I don’t care what I’m called so long as you don’t call me fat, fasto, fatty-pants, fatty-fatty two by four couldn’t get through the trailer park door. There’s some other name I don’t like… Fat…something.  Whatever. Nobody has ever called me any of these epithets. I don’ t think. I forget. I forget what epithet means but I’m sure nobody has ever called me an epithet either.  I don’t want to become fat, fatso or fatty pants but inside of me there’s a voracious appetite that – if I’m not looking – will leap out from me and stuff my gob with all manner of food. There have been times when it’s escaped and its claws have raked across a table of food to pile heaps of chicken legs, potatoes, crab cakes and more into my mouth.  Afterwards, I’m stuffed with an unpleasant feeling of my body bursting at the seams. A horrible feeling that lasts for days.  So I keep an eye on this vociferous appetite and I always have to stay one step ahead of it. I must outwit it, I tell myself in confidence, quietly, secretly so that the appetite won’t hear. For my appetite has called me all sorts of terrible names like fatso, fatty-pants, fatty-fatty dumpster mouth the garbage truck couldn’t pick you up and also fat… something. Anyway to outwit my appetite I always travel with several rolls of packing tape in a backpack. It’s strange yes but I don’t mind if people call me strange. Strange is a complicated mix of simple and difficult and voracious. No, I don’t mind strange at all. My appetite is a terribly simple thing that recoils at strange. I know this for a fact as I’ve empirically observed it around myself. For you see when I’m tempted by food at the table or at a buffet what can I really do ? I feel my appetite lunging against the bars of it’s cage (my ribs) and I feel so weak. So I try to outsmart my appetite by bringing strange to my aid, for if I can summon strange then appetite goes into hiding. Thus, when I feel tempted to eat I will grab that food, take out a roll of packing tape, lift up my shirt and secure the food tightly to my midriff. Yesterday, I was in a store where I saw a gorgeous cupcake whose chocolaty top was like a dark wave of ocean on a moonlit night. Oh yes it was a romantic cupcake that wished to seduce me. In the thralls of this temptation I grabbed the cupcake, lifted my shirt, splattered it to my belly and made three (maybe four ?) revolutions of the wrapping tape around my body. No maybe I made five turns of the tape around my belly. I don’t remember. Oh yes I do remember it was a fried chicken that I plastered to my body.  (Oh it burned terribly.) Yes, if I lift my shirt right now there’s definitely a decaying chicken under ten layers of thick packing tape.  Certainly this is disgusting but it’s a method that works. I have no… oh what is that thing called again ?  Well whatever it is, I suffer under its reign no more.
   Anyway, my name is Fatima and it’s nice to meet you. I come to these weight lose meetings just to make sure everyone knows there are alternatives. Thanks for the free tea. I’ll be leaving now.


  Okay I totally apologize if I’ve pissed you off. (Not.) But it seems like people don’t like blogs if there isn’t a person behind them, a person who says, “I’m so and so and this is the kind of cola I like.” I guess. I mean there is a person behind all these entries. Me. It’s just that I’ve presented every single story under a different character.
  I can explain.
  My name is Tim Saunders and I’m 14 years old and I live in Toronto Canada. I know this is going to be hard to believe but I have a ouija board that tells me to to write all these stories. Creepy hey ? I got the uijia board for Christmas and it was just funny at first but then I realized that it was instructing me to start a blog and then it gave me these characters with their stories to write. At first I was just like.. what the fuuuuuk ? This is totally like a Steven King movie or something. This morning I poured salt on the ouija board and burned it just like you’re supposed to do. And now I don’t have to write these stupid daily stories anymore.
  Well I kind of have one last story though. Actually it’s a series that starts today…

          The Bad-Ass MoFo with the Ouija Board Tattooed to his Stomach

  There was a kid named Stan and he had crappy parents, stupid brothers and sisters and teachers that were completely retarded.  He lived in a lousy house that didn’t have a plasma screen t.v. and his parents always yelled at him to keep the heat down because they wanted to save ten cents on the heating. 
  One day he was mowing the front lawn which totally sucked because he only got ten dollars for doing it but it took hours and hours to do. This black van pulled up and these guys dressed like real ninja’s jumped out. They ran over to Stan who tried to run but it was too late. They stuffed him in a black sack and threw him back into the van. From the black sack he could hear the van peel out. Of course he was scared (wouldn’t you be ?) but then he heard them playing Metallica and he thought maybe he’d be okay. 
  They drove for a long time until they stopped. The ninjas took him into their cave fortress where they were training an army of ninjas. They usually kidnapped babies or paid girls who were going to get abortions to keep their babies. Sometimes they dressed up like Pro-Lifers and picketed abortion clinics so they could get a hold of girls before they had their babies. From the age of like zero they trained these babies to be bad-ass ninjas who didn’t know anything about their mothers wanting to abort them. They didn’t even know there was such a thing as mothers or sunlight or crappy music.
  The head of the Ninja Army explained all this to me as we passed babies that were kicking the shit out of punching bags while Wu Tang clan blasted out of giant concert sized speakers. He told me that the head of Ninja intelligence recently passed away and they needed a replacement. He put his arm on my shoulder and said that they’d been spying on me for years and I was going to be the man’s replacement because I had the right mix or attitude and strength. He asked me if I wanted to take over the job. He pulled out a knife and held it at me.
   “Do I have any choice ?”
    “Then I graciously accept the position.”
    So after they trained me for a couple years to become a one man killing machine that could take on a hundred Rambos, I had to get a ouija board tattooed to my belly.
   “If you’re in a tight situation, you can consult some demons from the other side,” I was told and then I had to swallow the planchette so that I could regurgitate it at a moment’s notice. I’d been trained to unlock my jaw like a snake so it was no problem swallowing it. It was hard-core but that was my job.
   After all this I spent three years training to be a totally boss heavy metal guitarist who sang and played drums with pedals at his feet. This was my cover as I toured the world and then secretly found information for the Ninja Army.
  My new name was Cobra Powers. 
  And it’s go time right now.

     I have to confess that I’m not a single mother aspiring to be a writer, or JK Rowling, or a real estate salesman from Vancouver (all claims in previous posts). In fact I’m a male nurse from Winnipeg, Canada ad I have multiple personalities. All the previous entries that were written under various names were actually the different personalities that are bottled up inside me. I’ve decided to start this blog as a way to release these different voices.

    In future entries I’ll discuss the challenges of living with 14 different people inside you and how hard that makes it to decide what to order in a restaurant. But for today, I’d like to share a short-short story that I wrote recently.





The Soap Maker’s Tale




     On the morning the soap maker drew blood in the shower, he’d been pondering the future of soap made in the shape of a hand. While the funnel of water came down over his shoulders, the soap maker turned his hand around, opening and closing his fingers, wondering what position the hand-shaped soap should come in. Would people be drawn to a hand-shaking position or would they rather scrub their belly with a fist ? Business had been terribly slow the past year and he needed a radically new idea to save his skin and soap.

   With his free hand, the soap maker scrubbed his body. The more he thought, the harder he scrubbed until he noticed that a ribbon of red was streaming down with the water. Oh, God he’d washed himself free of his skin, he thought to himself. He put the exfoliating soap down on the tray, rinsed himself free of suds and turned the shower off.

   Stepping out of the shower, he noticed how badly he’d hurt himself. There was a palm-sized patch of blood on his shoulder. It was producing more red. The soap maker grabbed a towel and tried to stop the blood but he realized he was only succeeding in ruining a white towel.

   “Will you get that off us !!” came a muffled shout from his shoulder.

    The soap maker froze with the towel pressed tighter than ever to his shoulder.

    “People need to breath, don’t they ?”

     The soap maker did a quick mental check of what he’d eaten the previous night. Nothing strange. Nothing foreign or unknown.

    “And that light was good, give us more of that light,” came another voice.

    And that’s when the soap maker learned of the family of four that had been living inside of him his entire life.

     Freeloading in some sense.

     He stayed at home for a week to let the wound scar over and then the voices were silenced.

    When he went back to work, he set about making molds of hands for a new soap shape. 

Next Page »