Time to come clear. I’m not George Stroumboulopoulos, or a precocious 9-year-old or even the grandson of James Joyce. In fact none of the people I’ve claimed to be over the past five months on this blog are really me.  Truth is I’m just a guy trying to get some good old-fashioned laughs. I do stuff here and there  (yes that’s quoted from an actual resume I wrote once) and when I’m not busy with all that I like to pretend I’m somebody else and write a story under their name. It’s an internet hobby that a lot of people are taking part in these days. 

  So here’s today’s story…


The World Throws a Surprise Party for the Secretary General of the United Nations


   Mrs. Ban: It was so nice of the world to throw my husband that party. And the organization really impressed us. All those people. All the people of the world! The entire world yelling “surprise” at once. It was remarkable. Very loud. I’m sorry I reached for my mace but I was startled. After I was over the shock, I was delighted. I giggled. It’s been a long time since I made that sound. The cake incident was unfortunate but Ban and I don’t like to dwell on mistakes. Or the other things that happened. But in the end it was very nice of the world to make Ban’s birthday so memorable. That’s what’s important.


Crane Operator: Well when I got the call, I thought it was a prank but when those suits from the UN showed up at my doorstep with all that money I knew they meant business. And then there was that invitation to the surprise party for Ban Ki-Moon in the mail the next day so I was like Yeah this is for real and sure it was kind of thrilling to think that I’d been chosen to lower the giant cake on top of the Bans. I mean from being a snot-nosed kid in the Bronx to being in the middle of a crowd of billions, kind of gives you a rush. A cake made up of giant children holding hands. It was touching. And delicious. I swear I had no idea the chains couldn’t hold it. I thought everything was sound. And yeah it fell on Mr. Ban. But he ate his way out. The photo taken of him eating his way out was unfortunate. That shouldn’t have been taken but everyone was pretty good about it. Yeah, and then that other incident.


Photographer: Well how could I not take that picture? I mean it was slightly salacious but come on everyone’s got a sense of humor. I mean you have to nowadays. The UN’s top banana with his head popping out from the crotch of that cake-kid and I went berserk. I must have taken about a hundred photos of that moment. Memorable is right. I mean it was nicely organized but you don’t want a day like that to go too perfectly. Then it’s boring. Now we really have an image that’ll help us remember the time the world set aside their differences for a while and did something together for a change. But oh man with his head sticking out from the crotch of that cake-boy. Funny stuff. And then when he pulled Oprah and Obama and Putin – I think it was Putin –  into the cake and there was a giant cake fight. You know I can’t even pinpoint the exact moment people started shooting each other.



Organizer #264: Well we knew there would be some logistic problems. That’s what the supercomputers kept telling us but we kept plugging away at inputting data and things ended up pretty damn organized. There were the shootings near the end. Yes. The riot broke out in sector 456, that was an area we hadn’t anticipated as being so problematic. It spread all the way to the epicenter of the event in a matter of minutes. We told everyone to leave their guns at home. But there weren’t any more deaths than there are on average. Globally. That’s an important fact the papers keep leaving out.



Pizza Guy: Sold a hell of a lot of pizza but that doesn’t mean there was a conspiracy. I mean I knew the organizers and so I got the contract. What’s wrong with that? It was a surprise party and if they’d advertised the position, Ban might’ve caught wind of the event. I mean come on, people. I sell good pizza and so when that hooligan punk made disparaging remarks about me and my nepotistic pizza, I gave him the what for. And then somebody pulled a gun. Really shitty. I mean one day. Can’t we have one day for a guy’s birthday. I mean I don’t know him but he’s never done me no harm. Throw the guy a surprise party. Yeah, it’s a lot of work but they’ve got computers doing most of the hard stuff.


  It was a simple idea. The challenge was doing it from a secure location that wouldn’t immediately get shut down. When I started rest of the movie,  I thought it would be an interesting experiment to also write a short-short story everyday to compete with the movies. I mean let’s be honest there is an unstated competition among the arts and I thought I’d pit movies against literature. I took a circuitous route to revealing who I am on this site to add an element of daily suspense. So far movies are ahead but I’m working on other competition venues. In two weeks I’m going to be selling my next book to people during a movie. I’m curious to see how that’ll go.

   My name is Tommy Treadwell and may the competition continue…


A Man Tests the Level to Which his Wife is Actually Listening to Him

   So that woman who seemed to be flirting with me last week. Uh huh. Turns out she’s a really nice lady. Really? Yeah, we chatted today and she’s definitely not a prostitute. She works as a secretary downtown. Oh yeah? Cause you said that last week. What? That she must have been a hooker but this morning there were two bona fide hookers walking past the bus stop and there was neither tension nor camaraderie between them. Well, I stand corrected. It’s funny how we actually got to talking. A bum rode over her foot with a shopping cart. She was wearing these pointy little things. She was also wearing a lot of makeup. She had enough eyeliner on for ten as if she were a makeup bank for all the other secretaries in her building. Like as if everyone would scrap a little off her face and put it on their own. Yeah? I shouldn’t be that mean with my new friend. New friend?  Well yeah so the bum rode over the pointy tip of her shoe and I punched him out. That’s how we met. Uh huh. And she’s coming over next Wednesday for dinner and a threesome. Oh great.

   My name is Henry Lee and I live in North Vancouver. I’ve been writing a short-short story everyday for the past five months on this blog in order to explore issues of ethnicity within fiction. For those of you new to the site I always introduce a story with a different identity. The point of this has been to explore different cultural points of view. I’ve been intentionally appropriating different voices within the color spectrum of race to tease out the commonalities and differences that exist within people of different cultural  backgrounds. 

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


An Almost Korean-Canada


   I think I’m turning Korean. I make short, sucking sounds to express disappointment, I can’t go more than two weeks without eating Korean food and I wonder how much Han I have. Can a white guy have Han? I play dumb and ask students to tell me about Han. “Han can’t be explained,” they say. “Is it having to endure suffering while not being able to do a single thing to stop the source of your agony?” I ask and sometimes they light up and surprise takes over but other times they insist that’s not an adequate definition. It can’t be explained, they say.

   I started teaching ESL in Burnaby twelve years ago at a private school that had just opened in Metrotown, right next to a dentist who provided anesthesia through hypnosis. (So they advertised on the door.) I knew the owner/direction of the school from university where we’d taken some third year philosophy classes together. “It’s really easy,” he explained to me in his office while playing on-line chess, one of his addictions at the time. “Just get them talking.” My first two students were from Korea, Sanae and Sue. The first week was interesting enough; I looked at photos of Sue’s 5,000-dollar traditional Korean guitar. No 7,000 dollars. No, that was Won. No, that was Canadian. I learned the confusions of converting sums for students. The simultaneous juggling of numbers and language. I waited patiently while Sanae yawned. 

   Over the following weeks, the class grew to include a nine-year-old Korean, a 60-year-old Japanese man, five other Koreans and one Japanese woman named Midori. There was barely enough room for all their yawns. It was not easy. My boss continued playing online chess, often several games at once.

   One Tuesday night in 1996, at the Fifth Avenue cinemas, a friend leaned into me, “We’re thinking of going to teach English abroad, want to come?”

   “Yes,” I said but after six months of sweating in Taiwan as I made the daily race from a factory where they manufactured cute Mickey Mouse telephones to a manager’s office in an upscale banking district to a day-care in the south, I was exhausted. I couldn’t take the crush of people packing in the heat.

   Back in Vancouver, I moved to Gastown where I applied for a job at a small ESL school. “You live just down the street,” the boss said with wide-open eyes that pushed his bald scalp behind his head. “Can you start on Monday?” At LRS I taught three students at a time for an hour. At six groups everyday I learned how to quickly get them talking. Corrections were made quickly so as not to interrupt the flow. It was the triage of ESL teaching. “Tell us about the Mother Frog story?” “Tell us about a the golden axe story?” “Tell us about the first Korean?” I asked like a child insisting on a favorite bed-time story. Over the eight years that I taught at LRS, I started to really enjoy teaching and when I visited students in Korea and Japan in October of 2001, it felt like remembering a dream.  

    In 2006, LRS went out of business and I’ve taught at two other schools since. A medium sized school of 300 students from all over the world and a much smaller school with under a hundred students. Right now I have a class of ten Koreans. I’m supposed to teach business but some of the students at the level where they confuse lend with borrow. I patiently correct them as I wait to get into a graduate program in creative writing, as I send off another story to a literary journal. I sometimes wonder if I’m being punished for enjoying M*A*S*H too much in my youth, laughing at the goofy Koreans who played the bit-parts. Other days, I think that I’m luckiest almost Korean-Canadian in the world. 

   And I’ve started to stumble over the same mistakes my students make.

   I patiently correct myself.

    Yes, I’m George Stroumboulopoulos and I’m here to prove that I’m more than just a funny name. I’m also a writer. The stories that have been penned over the past five months on this site are none other than creations of yours truly. Yeah, I love hanging with guests at the Hour but in the evenings when I’m home alone, I sit down and write up a little something within the gathering silence of my soul.

   Yes, I’ve been fibbing for the past five months about my real identity but I wanted this site to make it on its own. I’ve had a lot of fun pretending to be others. I even got a comment recently from someone thinking that I was Yann Martel.  As this blog has almost reached five thousand visits I think it stands on its own and I can tell you who I really am.

   I hope you enjoy…



The Writer, the Thief, the Cop and the Father of Something


   A block from home, John got off the #4 to stroll along his favorite route. It was a cold, rainy Monday in June but he felt refreshed, brimming with optimism and the light rain felt full of memories. At a leisurely pace, his shoes slapping the small puddles on the sidewalk, he took greater notice of the world around him. A middle aged woman who’d also just gotten off the bus fumbled through a mess of unknowns to get to the keys in her black purse. John watched her carefully as she opened the front door of her apartment. “Dig through every moment for clusters of detail,” John thought to himself but she was already out of his view. Turning the corner at Pandora, he scanned the odds and ends of lifestyles cluttered on the patios of a three-story apartment building. He noticed how easy it would be to step up from the brick border below to one particular balcony on the second floor. What kind of story could be propped up on that brick? A teenager sneaking home late at night? A neighbor in need of one more chair for a barbeque? A ex-husband sneaking back to collect some things that are rightfully his?

    “I can’t leave you in the car alone.” John looked over to the street and made eye contact with a man standing over the back door of his Honda. The man’s gaze glared with resentment that he was having to share this awkward moment with a total stranger. John glanced back at the stories of apartments. The windows were now streaked with raindrops that were getting larger.

    Meters away from his own apartment building entrance, John heard the woop-woop of a lazy police siren. A patrol car crunched onto the gravel in front of him and a stocky police officer swaggered out from behind the car. The rain started to fall heavily and John reached for an umbrella holstered at the side of his backpack.

    “Hold it right there,” the officer shouted and pulled out his gun. He spun for cover on the other side of his patrol car. “Do not make any sudden movements and put your hands where I can see them.”

     Fear and confusion cascaded down John’s body but he raised his shaking arms against this weight.

     “I was just going to get my umbrella,” he said quickly. “I’m just on my way home.” He turned slowly to show the umbrella at his side.

     The officer slowly walked out from behind the cover of his car. “There’ve been a string of break-ins in the neighborhood and the suspect’s profile fits yours. You’re not hiding an Australian accent are you?” 


     As John reassured the officer of his innocence and Canadianness, the man he’d seen earlier by the car walked by with a labradoodle in a pink sweater. Under an umbrella the man was reading aloud from Watership Down with none of the grimness of the expression before. The dog seemed to be listening as he walked at the man’s side. 

    The officer apologized but reassured John that his caution was for his own good.

     “6 places broken into. An Australian apparently. We can’t take that lightly,” the officer said and stretched his chin out. 

     As the officer left, John fumbled for his keys and imagined a list of reachable things people have mistakenly been shot for: umbrellas, slices of bacon degreasing in a book, a collector’s bus pass from 1972, a labradoodle collar, early success.

  Yesterday, after coming home from work I came across this article about unusual bookmarks.  I’ve also found a slice of bacon as well as a nail-polished fingernail clipping, a photo of a nude dwarf cheating at poker and a garter belt with a telephone number on it. The slice of bacon that I found was on page 45 of Michael Ondaatje’s the English Patient. I remember that page as being a particularly tough hurdle and I guess the person reading the book gave up then and there (while eating breakfast). There were grease streaks throughout the earlier pages and I tried to read the book again but I kept imagining Hana feeding the English Patient bacon. It ruined the poetry of the reading experience.

  There isn’t much else to say about myself. My name is Jack and I’m the one behind the past five months of different stories on this site. It’s just something I decided to do a while back. I haven’t really thought too much about it and today seemed like as good a day as any to come out with my real identity.

  And here’s a story for today…


Halo Power


On an overcast afternoon in September, John saddled his paint-flecked body over the deck railing of his newly purchased house to get at a window. He placed his foot out on the outer border of the terrace that held no greenery and after a weighty fall and thump he was lifting his broken neck up from the grass below, his head inches from the brick border of the empty garden. He crawled to his old house across the cul-de-sac and called his daughter-in-law. When she arrived her two children raced out ahead of her shouts for them to wait, wait, wait and once up the familiar stairs of their grandparent’s place the granddaughter screamed at the sight of her Grandda holding up his head. Three months later, with a halo holding vertebras C3 and C4 in place, John was looking out the window of the old house, thinking of what needed to be done with the new. At the weekend arrival of his son-in-law he walked a lively jig into the kitchen. The top frame of his halo bumped the edge of the open fridge twice as he tried to get at two beers deep in the back. “Today, we’ll celebrate the luck of the Irish, so we will,” he said and his daughter asked her niece about the state that they found Grandda in. The five-year old did a Disney version of Munch’s scream with her head at an angle and her eyes askew. Everyone laughed and John smiled but deep down he was thinking of what paints he’d mix together for the trim around the windows.


    And when I’m not touring the world with Iron Maiden, or working on solo material, or flying commercial planes around Europe, or producing television programs for the BBC or fencing, I like to relax and pretend I’m someone else. The past five months of stories on this blog have been a playful effort towards creating a labyrinth of different fictions, falsehoods and identities. The challenge for you the reader is to glean the truth. That I’m Bruce Dickinson can be easy proved by looking into the parallels between the lyrics of Iron Maiden songs and the themes explored in the short-short stories on this blog.

  Here’s today’s story from the point of view of an audience member at an Iron Maiden concert in Vancouver.



making one little something an everywhere


   As we walk through the muddy heavy-metal parking lot my entire body is buzzing with the thrill of seeing Iron Maiden once again. “Grad 88,” one woman screams from the back of a pick up truck. I help Paul finish his tall can of beer on the final stretch down Renfrew and suddenly we’re inside the Pacific Coliseum where I’m amazed at the flora and fauna of hair drooping from head-bangers young and old. Twenty-three years ago, when Paul and I saw Maiden for the first time the Coliseum was packed to the rafters with teenagers in leather jackets. Now we make the steep hike to our seats in section 25, aisle 20, passing out of shape geezers older than us. The concert begins with the sold-out Coliseum shrieking as one beast to the start of Aces High and things are pretty cool but throughout the show Bruce Dickinson says Vancouver too many times. He puts the word everywhere. He’s like a pilot flying around and around a city, announcing the obvious. But the view still seems spectacular, expansive even. During Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner I want to tell Paul something interesting about Coleridge, the poet who wrote the original lyrics to this song 200 years ago. “Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink,” I catch in the screams near the end and I realize the song is over and I didn’t really hear any of the poetry under the crunch of the guitars. I let out a full bodied scream anyway.

    I try to remember Paul’s dad picking us up on that snowy night in ’85 and the slow drive back to Surrey but this time around I say good-bye to Paul and walk home alone along Pandora Street. I imagine myself as a 14-year-old walking the streets of East Vancouver after the show, trying to find Paul and his dad. How familiar would the houses have looked?  I try to imagine the present through the past, searching for insight into change but suddenly I’m home. Lisa is in front of the computer recording something with her guitar.  It’s past eleven and I have to get up at five-thirty but my ears are ringing and my body’s still buzzing. “I just started working on a song for our wedding favors,” Lisa says. It takes a second for this to register any meaning, “wedding favors”. Lisa walks into the living room and sits down on the couch with her guitar in her lap and I stretch out on the rug with my head sinking into a large blue throw pillow. A big glass of water rests on my chest.  I look at the wall and think about having to wake up and go to work in a routine that’s now into its second decade. Briefly, the routine feels as small as our living room but then Lisa plays some chords that she’s strung together. “I don’t want to sing yet,” she says but lyrics from the back of my mind are supplied for the moment: “And makes one little room an everywhere.” This line from a poem by John Donne surprises me and I want to tell Lisa that it’s for her but she’s playing and I close my eyes and listen to the chords of her nascent song. My desire for insight into memory and change is fulfilled with gentle waves of bliss.

   With her guitar strumming talent, with her puddle-sized blue eyes, with her house proud nature, with her supernatural love of horses, with her neurotic quirks, with her ardent devotion to family and friends, with her bird-song voice, with her concern for delicate details, with her snoopy nature that wants to unearth all the secrets of a stranger’s heart, with her laughter that giggles up in joy, with her gestures that articulate a deeply felt vision, with her love that I feel to my core, with her buried Irish brogue, with her turns from gentle to fierce.

   She makes one little memory an everywhere.


     I suppose that’s always been my downfall. I open my mouth to say something profound but near the end of my discourse – fearing boredom on the part of my listeners – I want to jump up and down waggling my tongue to make everyone laugh or conversely if I start telling a joke I end up wanting to go off on some philosophical tangent. (for Ludwig Wittgenstein did suggest that an entire book of philosophy be written consisting of nothing but jokes) Hence this site which swings from funny to philosophical on a day to day basis. This site where I put on the cloak of another identity everyday. This site which charts the ups and downs of my moods. This site which I thank you for visiting on this your precious day.

    My name is Haber Klaustein and I live in Germany near the French border. I am five feet tall and when I’m laughing people think I’m weeping but when I weep people think I’m laughing.  The problem I suppose is that I’m so short people have no idea what I’m doing when my head is down. If I were six feet tall the world would know my emotions. As it stands, only children and dogs know my feelings but they of course are indifferent to such matters. This makes me weep and then people – thinking I’m laughing and wanting to get in on the joke – will throw in their two bits, telling me the one about the blind midget and the two-by-four.  Sometimes this makes me laugh. Sometimes it only serves to make me cry harder and then more people gather to make even more digusting jokes.

   In the end, what usually happens is that I come to this site to compose an identity – anyone taller than five-foot eight – and I climb up the ladder set up next to the computer and I dream of looking at the world from another height.  But today I pushed the ladder onto its side to write as myself.  Today is different because you’re reading and I realize that in communicating with another human being there is no height or weight or even nationality but simply the gist of what is to be shared.

    “I’m five feet tall,” I can write in a sentence that might make you laugh or think. I’m not sure which but the important thing is that it’s true.

   And here’s a story with the same problem…

The Clown that Could Compose Immortality

     The juxtaposition of the external self and the soul has never been greater than that of the case of Uli Stampenklammer a clown with the Klintskloppen circus which toured the smaller towns of Bavaria in the 1950’s and 60’s. For while Uli was famed for falling from great heights and then yelling some gibberish that inspired laughter (like “shizenhimmersvelt” or “kunstkoppenglimmerklop”), it was only revealed after his death that he also wrote under the pseudonym of Bernhart Strom, the famed mystic who wrote about the depths of the suffering of the soul. At his funeral on June 8th 1968, circus folk stood shoulder to shoulder with religious mystics from around the world. Moments of awkward silence potholed the ceremony like an old road that could barely be travelled. Where did his heart and soul really lie? To this day, Germans have a word –  Stampenklammerstrom- to describe the awkward feeling accompanying a decision to be made during a dilemma.  Some secretly take pleasure in this feeling.