Captain of the High School Swim Team or Maybe County Commissioner

Here are the reasons why I should do this: contributions are tax deductible, sleep late on Sunday, choice of two sides, king of this whole town.

What I had to do to get here: for an entire day give up meat and chicken but not fish, swing the big hammer hard enough to ring a bell, sleep late on Sunday, spend all night studying.

How long I expect to stay: waiting for the call-up to the majors, until the cows come home, I’ll find the exit eventually, no place else to go.

The ways my participation benefits others: can always be worse, not much to it but at least it’s forgettable, didn’t realize I was actually doing anything, if not me then you.

Tuesday is Tan Pants Day.

and a picture of Bob Marley

Middletown, Ohio Police Blotter

(From the Middletown Division of Police and the Middletown Journal):

Jan. 11

A furnace was stolen before 1:20 p.m. from a home in the 3900 block of Grand Avenue. The copper coil to the furnace, however, was not stolen. The home was vacant and multiple people have keys to the property.
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A Country Christmas Story About Dogs and Metal Buildings

I wish I could say it was a Merry Christmas. I wish I could tell you everything worked out all right. Okay, I’ll go ahead and play it like this: yes, in the end, everyone was fine and nobody got what they didn’t deserve.

For years, I’d been listening to that dog across the street. Most of the homes around here are spread out; there’s plenty of wide open space and not a lot of trees, owing mostly to the fact this is all “improved” former pastureland. Everywhere except on the side of the road opposite my own driveway.

I don’t hang out with those folks—not that I’m all that social with anyone around here. I smile and wave at the majority of my neighbors but also wonder if they’re going to line me up with a scoped rifle someday soon. Anyway, about the family across the street, we didn’t even make a bad attempt at being friendly. I can’t recall a single specific incident that could have caused a rift, but it just seemed as if our wiring was out of phase or something.
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dear clusterflock

Loss of control over WHICH BODILY FUNCTION do you find most comical? KEY TO YOUR PERSONALITY!

I’m a sucker for vomit. Vomit anecdotes almost invariably crack me up.
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Travel Planning: New Orleans, 2013

A friend and I are planning a road trip for August 2013: a drive from Chicago to New Orleans, where he’ll be speaking on a panel at the annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists.

The other night I dreamt about this trip, dreamt a dream that offered guidance worth sharing with my friend. Here is what I wrote him.

I do hope there’s been no misunderstanding over the business with the rifle. My insistence on retaining it was not motivated by a desire to “teach you a lesson” nor exact a petty bit of payback. Please know that I was not especially upset over your having hustled me onto that express bus at a moment when I was concerned over the fate of my missing wallet. Under the circumstances, your having opted to take the express to the conference hotel made sense, as you had a session you needed to get to, and my negligence, wallet-wise, could scarcely have been a concern of yours. Mildly hesitant though I was about the bus, I did not protest, as I counted on having an opportunity to hop off near that subterranean restaurant where I suspected I’d left the article, claim it, then join up with you later on. Whether or not you were aware that the bus would make no intermediate stops and that it would take us so very far from the restaurant is no longer at issue, being what you might call a “moot point.”

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And so, like, when I was in Texas last month, I stayed at Lou’s house for a couple of days. And she went with me when I dropped off my car to have the guys look at the A/C.

So I dropped off the Element and got into Lou’s car and then the guy who wrote up my order (Leon, I think it was) came out to say something to a lady in denim and big frosted hair. And then he came over to Lou’s car and I rolled down the window and he asked did we want to hear a sick joke.
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what it is what it is

Dreams of Small Recitals

You are caramel and hot wax. I am a new wool sweater with a bull’s eye on its back. The ladder in the yard climbs high into the air and I go up, up, up. I’m afraid to look down. The ladder stands unsupported as if it’s a flagpole. I remove bandages until the fabric coils like snakes, but nothing within is wrapped except old air. A woman in line at the deli complains: “My feet are killing me and I can’t stand for very long because it hurts my back.” I suggest she should wait instead for service at the shoe store. Strangers don’t appreciate it when you’re trying to be helpful.

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This Story is About Telling You Stories

The house is crap, although you can see that for yourself. Surviving eighty-plus Michigan winters punishes mankind’s endeavors, and the summers don’t offer much relief. The sandpapery asphalt siding is potato-chipped into curls. My back porch cants at a ten degree angle downward toward the lake. Anywhere else on earth, this place wouldn’t be rated for so much as lawnmower storage. Here on a bluff overlooking white sand beaches it’s a different prospect. I just made a joke.
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In the Loop

Rust. Irony can be found in iron itself. The carpet is not made of felt; the gray fibers are compressed years of fur, soil, and traffic. We organize a backyard BBQ and everyone brings potato salad. All of the potato salad is contaminated with e coli. What are the odds of that happening? You negotiated a 30% discount for your new tattoos but the artist used beige ink exclusively. Beyond normal expectations, we got it right! Unfortunately we are unable to locate, recognize, or analyze the data.
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In Regard to Personal Grooming

I used a new brand of razor to shave my whiskers this morning. My face was so smooth afterwards; it felt to me as if it was someone else’s. I’ve been rubbing it a lot since then, just trying to find parts that are familiar. Shaving seems a waste of time, but I detest the idea of wearing a beard. Identifying myself is causing enough trouble as it is. Facial hair would only add to my concerns.
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Cats that I made using only MY MIND!

It’s true. AND: I did it in a dream the premise of which was: THIS IS NOT A DREAM.

You know how you have those dreams? Those other dreams? You realize, “Wait! This is a DREAM!”

This was not like that. THIS IS NOT A DREAM was the foundation of the dream.
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The teak is carved and then formed around the skiff’s bulkheads and stringers. It has borne hours upon the pond, and sun-bleached months resting against the potting shed. Across the yard, the gambrel-roofed barn is filled with corn and alfalfa. The hayloft’s floor sags beneath its load of square bales. An oak rocking chair nods on the farmhouse’s back porch; the constant breeze sets the chair in nearly perpetual motion. Behind the rocker, a hunter’s longbow leans on clapboard siding.
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The Imaginary Chef (Notes toward a Pilot Program Proposal)

My friend Charlie is assistant manager of a small grocery/deli/”sundries” store catering to guests of a Midwestern resort and nearby residents. This week a customer phoned his store, claiming that the chuck roast she’d purchased had not in fact been handed over with her other purchases and requesting that it be delivered to her home.

Charlie’s store does not sell chuck roast.

Delivery, he explained, was impossible because (a) there was no chuck roast available for delivery and (b) only two employees were staffing the store.

The customer returned the following day to pick up her chuck roast.

Charlie asked whether, if this happens again, he might phone me with a request to deliver a phantom cut of imaginary chuck roast to the woman’s home. I consented, adding that I might even volunteer to prepare it for her. Commandeer her kitchen, imaginary chuck roast in hand, and act out the preparation of Boeuf Bourguignon in the manner of Julia Child.

Sheila Ryan: The Imaginary Chef.

The Cow and the Dog (a Fable)

The cow and dog were best friends. They had been close companions for longer than any of the other animals could remember. Even the draft horse was unable to recall a time before this great friendship.

“I am pleased to see such harmony,” the draft horse said, “but it is unusual just the same. No good can come of it.”

The donkey said nothing and continued feeding. He cared only for fodder and pulling his little cart. The barn cat did not speak—she believed herself to be invisible and did not want to reveal her position. The chickens scratched and hopped around the dusty courtyard in front of the stock barn. They didn’t say anything because they are so incredibly small-minded and stupid.

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Politics as Usual

I was thinking this morning about the government gridlock in Washington, but it upset me, so I sat down at the computer to calm myself and look at a few of my favorite sites. The connection ran slower and slower until my browser froze. This made me even angrier. Instead of punching my monitor, I went into the kitchen to have breakfast—I thought it would take my mind off whatever troubled me. The yogurt container was completely empty, which didn’t matter because the refrigerator apparently stopped working last night and all my food was spoiling. I decided to go buy ice in an attempt to save some of the food, but my car wouldn’t start and I had to jump it from a battery charger. The cable was frayed and it gave me a nasty shock. Now I was super-mad. After jumping around for a while, I shook off the tingling sensation in my arm and drove to the convenience store for ice for my food and a bandage for the electrical burn on my hand. I ran out of gas on the way home, because the car’s fuel gauge has been broken for a long time and I can’t afford to keep the tank filled, thanks to the high gas prices those assclowns in Washington seem to be unable to do anything about, which really pisses me off and then my ice melted.

From my site (here)

Me Safe from a Dream (Ten Years After)

You’d think if I were going to dream about me and my friends being persecuted by Christians, I’d have set my dream where I grew up. Dallas, Texas. But I transferred it to an England I made up out of movies.

It’s a non-anecdote, really, as most dreams are.

This was over ten years ago, this dream, and I think what triggered it was a Vanity Fair cover featuring Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Steerpike in a staged scene promoting a 2000 BBC serial based on Titus Groan, the first of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast books. The photograph annoyed me out of all proportion, as when I was a kitten of fifteen or so, my friends and I (the Gang of Six who are all still friends) were on a great Mervyn Peake kick, and I had clear notions, based largely on the Peake sketches, of how characters in any dramatization should look. When we were kids, we thought that if Dick Cavett were younger, he could play Steerpike in a Gormenghast film.

This alone is kind of funny. Imagine a group of kids at a Texas high school in 1969, avidly reading Mervyn Peake and sitting together in the school lunchroom to talk Gormenghast.

So: In the dream my friend Allen and I, together with Cooper Renner, were roving about England (generic, bucolic rural England) scouting locations for our own film based on Peake’s Gormenghast books.
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The Mother Courage of Rock

She was skinny, quick-witted, disarmingly unprofessional, alternating between stand-up patter, bardic intonations, and the hypnotic emotional sway of a chanteuse, and she was sexy in an androgynous way I hadn’t encountered before. The elements cohered convincingly; she seemed both entirely new and somehow long-anticipated. For me at nineteen, the show was an epiphany.

Luc Sante on Patti Smith.

Springtime 1976, I was living in the cinderblock building on the glorified median strip there where they split Highway 13, and one day I went over to this one girl’s apartment, she lived right by the guy who dealt me speed, and she said, “Hey, you know who you remind me of? You remind me of Patti Smith!”

Gave her a possum grin I’m still grinning.

Did I ever tell you about the time . . .

Is it boring? Does it involve a musician? Will everyone on the internet go, “Pft! Are you kidding? Is that it? Your story?”


Congratulations. Post it here.

I made it to the Hall of Tedium on Christmas Day with my Dave Davies story:

Dave Davies wanted some tortilla chips.

Clusterflock friend Pete Ashton’s Belinda Carlisle story was a Boxing Day feature:

I sold Belinda Carlisle a book about giant squids.

I am posting this post

because to now I have posted 1964 posts. So this will be 1965. And that was a beautiful year. I was just old enough to know that I wanted to be a grown-up woman. In 1965.

At least one of those grown-up women in the movies. Or to have a hit record.

An Introduction

My car is a Kia.

I drive to IKEA.

I had Chick-fil-A for lunch.

I said

“You can take [your stress] out on my cock. She’s tough. She can take it.”



Please disregard my recent emails. Forget about the phone messages, too. I know I sounded angry and excited, but I’ve had a chance to think things over and I don’t feel the same as I did when I said all of those hurtful words. I won’t apologize for the basis of my comments—I have a right to my own opinions, especially because they are correct—but regret your exposure to that barrage of toxicity. And the physical threats. You’ll notice I did not say “sorry.” That word is for the weak.

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42 S. Deacon St. #5

There are at least fifty things about her you cannot stand. Maybe a thousand:

She is soft and smells nice. Talks on the phone all day. Makes your favorite meals without being asked. Throws your Maxim magazines on the floor when she’s angry with you. Is sad when an animal gets hurt. Loses your car keys. Asks your opinion and listens to your response as if it matters. There’s more.

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I didn’t have the milk-to-cereal ratio right so I got back up.

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