Friday, January 17, 2014

A fictional adventure into the mind

   I came across this story a couple of days ago. I wrote it several years ago and as best I can remember, only one other person has ever read it. Since I read it the other day I have been wrestling with the idea of posting it. So far I haven't published much fiction on here, but today, watching the wind bend huge trees like it did the night five of them fell, I went through the story again and decided maybe it is a good day for it. Warning, it is fairly long.


Drive the road slowly
Tim Jones

Copyright © 2014 Tim Jones

            "I want to get a job erasing." 
            The question, demand, came out of the jumble in the backseat, as much of a disorganized jumble of luggage and modern instructional materials as three people could throw in there in the rush to get into the car and out of the cold, cold that knocked the thermometer's mercury all the way down to something like 40 degrees below zero.  It came, too, from the jumble of a mind thrown awry for reasons experts were just beginning to understand, a jumble that produced excitement, enthusiasm, innocence.
            "I'm not sure there are any jobs erasing, Seth.  Why do you want a job erasing?"
            "I want a job, I want to move out.  I want to move to Anchorage.  Can I move to Anchorage?"
            The driver:  "Maybe you can move to Anchorage.  We'll have to see.  Do you want to get a job and move to Anchorage."
            "I want a job.  I want a job, erasing.  I like erasing.  I want to see a movie.  I want to see two movies.  Can we go to a movie tonight?"


            "We can go to a movie.  It's going to be late when we get there.  But tomorrow we can go see a movie."
            "I want to see Rain Man.  Can we see Rain Man?"
            "Yes.  I want to see Rain Man, too."
            "Did you ever see the movie Silverado?  I saw Silverado.  A guy went into a place and ordered a drink.  They told him they wouldn't give him any.  The sheriff suspended him from town.  I don't want to drink alcoholic beverages.  They're bad for you.  Why do people drink them when they're bad for you?  I won't smoke ever.  I'm never going to smoke and I'm never going to drink things with alcohol in them.  The sheriff suspended him from town.  He suspended him from town.  Why did he do that?"
            The passenger:  "Was he a bad guy?'
            "No, I think he was a good guy.  Why would they suspend him from town?"
            The passenger, again:  "He was a stranger in the town.  And sometimes people who live in a small town are very close and when a stranger comes to town they don't trust him.  They look at his clothes and the way he does things and if he looks like a bad guy they don't want him around."
            "But why did he get suspended from town?  Am I a stranger?  Will I be a stranger in Anchorage?  Will they suspend me from town?"
            The driver,  "No, most of that only happens in movies.  Yes, you'll be a stranger in Anchorage, but people don’t just throw you out of town."
            "Why did they suspend him from town?"
            The  passenger:  "When somebody causes trouble they throw him out in the movies.  They tell him to get out of town.  'This town's not big enough for the both of us.'"
            The driver:  "It's called being 86ed, 86ed when a bartender decides somebody is causing trouble, fighting with people or..."
            The passenger: "...throwing up on people..."
            "Throwing up on people.  The bartender says, "you’re 86ed, you're
 out of here."
            "Can I get a job?  I want to get a job.  In Anchorage."
            "Yes, you can get a job.  Maybe not in Anchorage.  When you graduate from school.  How old are you Seth?"
            "I'm l7, 17 and a half.  Is that old enough to get a job?  I want a job erasing."
            The Driver.  "I'm not sure there are any jobs erasing.  Is there anything else you can do?"
            "I have a job at school.  I just got a job at school."
            "What do you do at school."
            "I erase the blackboards."
            "Is that your whole job?
            "No, I do vacuuming, too.  I vacuum places."
            "Do you like that?"
            "Yes, I like vacuuming."
            "Well, there are jobs vacuuming.  Janitorial."
            "Janitorial, Janitorial.  Yahoo.  Janitorial.  I can do janitorial.  Yahoo.  I can do janitorial in Anchorage."
            The volume of music from the tape player grew, filled the car.  Outside, snow-frosted mountains rose above a narrow river valley, a low winter sun sending blue shadow to give texture to the crags and crevices.  Cold, that sun for all its promise meant only that it was clear, clear and cold outside the car.
            The passenger:  "If you were to have a baby this way.  How would you go about it?  I mean how do you find the guy.  How do you choose.  And if you find the right person, what happens to him?"
            "I'm not sure.  I haven't thought it all through yet.  I know several men, nice men, right now."
            "Breeding stock," a laugh.
            "Yes, I suppose," a nervous laugh.  "I don't want to get married again.  I really don't think I want to get married again."
            And, from the jumble in the back, "Go away, go away, get out of here.  Get out of here."
            "I don't think I could do that.  Just have a baby with a woman and then leave.  I would want to participate.  It's a responsibility.  I think it would be tough to find someone you'd consider as a possible father who wouldn't want to participate."
            "I know.  There's artificial insemination.  That's possible."
            "Did you ever see the cartoon in Playboy?"
            "Which one?"
            "There's these two women walking into a sperm bank talking.  Walking out of the building is this gnomy looking guy with warts and a hunchback and he's counting a wad of money."
            "How sensitive of you to say that," she thought it but said, only, "That's a good one."
            Cold intruded into the conversation.  A window had opened.
 In back a head was out the window, hair flying in the breeze, a face reddening in temperatures of 40 below, at 65 miles an hour.
            "Seth, what are you doing?  Close that window."
            "Your smoke.  I was getting your smoke out of the car."
            "Better close the window."
            "Here, I'll crack the wing."
            "Seth, close the window.  He's going to open the little one here.  That will let the smoke out.
            "All right.  I'll close the window."
            The Driver: "You must be excited going to Anchorage, too.  Glad to get out of that small town for a while."
            The Passenger:  Well, yes and no.  I do have work to do.  But I'm not leaving under the happiest of circumstances.  We've kind of gone our separate ways."
            "I'm sorry."
            A nod.  A closed look.  Please drop the subject.
            "Who can you talk about private things with?  Who do you tell private things to?"
            "How about your mother, Seth.  Sometimes you can talk things over with your mother.  Seth, do you call her mother, or do you call her Eileen?"
            "I call her mother.  It's OK.  I had another mother.  I called her Mary.  But I call Eileen Mother."
            "What happened to Mary?"
            "She went away one day.  She went away.  Then my father went out and found me a new one.  I call her Mother.  Can I talk about private things with her?"
            "Sometimes you can.  Sometimes mothers aren't the right person to talk about private things."
            "Then who can you talk about private things with?"
            "Why do you ask all this?  Do you have private things you want to talk about, Seth?"
            Silence grows in the back seat.  Silence within the sounds of the rock music."
            "Do you want to talk about private things, Seth?"
            "Yes."
            "You can talk to me Seth.  You can talk to us."
            "I want to talk about sex.  I want to talk about making love.  Can I make love? Can I have sex?"
            "Yes, Seth, you can."
            "Can I make love, can I get married and make love with a woman?"
            "Yes, you probably can."
            "Oh, Boy."
            "Have you ever had sex, Seth.  Have you ever touched a girl?"
            Silence blossoms again in the back of the car.  Silence within the music.  Then, "No."
            "Have you ever masturbated, Seth?"
            "What's that?  What's masturbated?"
            "Have you ever touched yourself?  Have you ever touched your penis?"
            The back seat went quiet again.  So did the passenger side in front.
            Staring out the window, "How do women talk about this?  How can these words come out so frankly, so bluntly.  She works with people like this all the time.  It must come up often.  There must be an incredible tension among people like this, people who know about sex, but probably never have had and probably never will have it.  But to hear the words from a woman's mouth, penis, masturbate.  How does she talk about this so frankly? Is it clinical technique?  Or, is she like this?  Does she talk like this?  And why am I so concerned about it?  It doesn't really offend.   It doesn't shock.  It fits right here.  It's the right thing to say.  But why does it sound so blunt.  It sounds so incongruous coming from her. Are you really Prufrock after all?"
            "It's all right, Seth, it's all right to touch yourself.  Everybody does it.  Women do it too.  It's all right to touch yourself."
            "Can I make love?  Can I find a woman and make love with her."
            "In time, maybe, yes, maybe you can find a woman and make love with her."
            "Have sex?"
            "Yes, in time."
            Again the silence in the back seat.  Paul Simon sings "Call me Al" for the sixth or seventh time in a row, a time of absorption, absorbing a thought of great magnitude.
            The passenger, "When you do this, you have to go slow, Seth.  You can't just grab the first woman you see and marry her and have sex.  You have to get to know her.  It takes time."
            Still silence.
            The passenger: "I'm a great one to be advising anyone on that.  Here I am a 46-year-old adolescent, blunder through all this and then I decide I can tell a kid what he should do with women."
            The driver stares straight ahead, the hint of a smile curls the visible side of her mouth.  Eyes straight ahead, no comment.  You said it, not me.
            "I want to make love in a wet suit.  Can I make love in a wet suit?"
            "Ha- Ha.  I don't know, Seth.  It sounds awfully uncomfortable."
            "I can do it.  I want to make love in a wetsuit."
            "People do it in water, but I never heard of anybody doing it in a wetsuit.  It would be awfully uncomfortable.
            "I do.  I want to go with a woman and make love in a wetsuit."
            The Passenger:  Maybe a big one.  Room enough for a pal and you?"
            "What?"
            "He said, maybe a big one.  One both of you could get into."
            "They have zippers."
            "Maybe you could, don't they zip all the way down around the crotch."
            Another one of those words, those frank words.  "You wouldn't want to get caught in it."
            "What?"
            "He said you wouldn’t want to get caught in it.  You wouldn't want to get your penis caught in the zipper.  It would hurt."
            Another one.
            "You can keep the zipper down."
            The Passenger:  "Yeah, zipper down, penis up."  Now I said one.
            "...If you'll be my bodyguard, I can be your long lost pal..."
            "Whew, a wetsuit."
            "Might work."  Can I talk like her, around her?  Here I'm telling him to go slow with women.  Then we're talking about sex in all these terms, and here I am, bleeding, because I haven't learned to go slowly myself.  Why can't I slow down, why can't I let things happen.  Slowly, we might have found something.  Intensely it didn't work.  But they're games, aren't they, games.  If you love, you love and you go the limit.  Who am I protecting telling him slow?  Women I think.  But, Seth, too.  He gets hurt here.  Things he won't understand will happen.  So much happens when another person is involved and he isn't ready for that.  Can we prevent, at least, him getting into trouble, serious trouble.  The blind innocent so filled with enthusiasm without the tools to function.  Trouble coming, for Seth, maybe for others.  Ha.  He'll probably get along better than I do.  Where do I get off advising him about women.  If I knew anything I wouldn't be in this car.  I wouldn’t be going to the same city as Seth, or if I did it would be with his enthusiasm, not this incredible sorrow, this torment.
            "Can I meet girls in Anchorage?  I want to meet girls in Anchorage."
            Can I meet girls in Anchorage?  Do I want to?
            "Maybe you can meet girls in Anchorage, Seth."  The driver.  "John might introduce you to some girls.  We're going to a party tomorrow night.  Maybe you'll meet some girls there."
            "I want to go to a party tonight.  Tonight.  I want to meet girls.  I want to meet a girl and marry her and we can make love."
            The passenger:  "What about me.  Can I meet girls.  Can I go to parties?"
            "You're on your own."
            "...let me be your bodyguard, you can be my long lost pal..." Paul Simon again.
            The driver: "I was going out with this man.  I liked him.  I adored him. I worshiped him.  We went out for almost three years.  One day I came home.  It had been a tough day.  One of the attendants had molested one of the patients.  He had molested one of the men and he was being arrested.  It was something I couldn't deal with.  I needed some support.  He screamed at me.  He screamed.  'That's what you get for hanging around with a bunch of homos.'  It ended right there.  I lost so much right there.  It was over.  Then I couldn't get rid of him.  He kept bothering me.  I lost all respect for him.  He wouldn't leave me alone.  I finally just had to tell him and his family to keep him away from me.  It took a long time, but he finally left me alone.  He would sneak into my house or sit in his car out on the street."
              The passenger: "Isn't it amazing how you can know someone and then realize you don't know them at all.  You went out for three years.  And you didn't know him."
            "What's generous to a fault?  What does that mean, generous to a fault?"
            The driver: "Well, Seth, oh, do you want to try this one?"
            "I think I can.  Seth, generous to a fault.  That means you're so generous, that you actually hurt yourself."
            "Hurt yourself?"
            "Not really hurt yourself.  Here, try this.  Suppose you have a hundred dollars, OK?  You need ten dollars for food.  A friend comes to you and says he needs a hundred dollars.  If you give him 90 dollars which is most of what he needs, you still have your ten dollars for food.  If you give him the whole hundred dollars, then you don't have any money left for food.  Then you have hurt yourself.  You have been generous to a fault.  You gave all your money to your friend and now you don't have any food."
            "But Metropolis was generous to a fault.  In Superman III the city of Metropolis was generous to a fault."
            "Sometimes these phrases are expanded, sometimes they're used to describe a broader concept."
            "What?"
            Help.
            A look from the driver.  You're in this now.  You got into it, you get out.
            "OK.  Metropolis was generous to a fault.  They let the Joker in.  They let him stay.  He was a stranger.  He was a bad guy, but Metropolis let him in, let him stay, they didn't suspend him from town.  Metropolis was generous to a fault."
            "Is Anchorage generous to a fault?"
            The driver:  "No, Seth, Anchorage is not generous to a fault.  It's not a bad place, but you have to make your own way.  If you do things right Anchorage will be all right."
            Paul Simon:  "...da da dad da, daaa, call me Al."  Then, louder.  Absorption.
            The driver: "I like the way you explain things.  You do it differently.  You're good at it."
            "I don't know.  Maybe I can do it because I'm not in the field.  I don't know the terms, I don't know the cliches.  I don't couch things in the clinical.  Maybe when you're so close to something, you have trouble extracting yourself from everything you know."
            "You're right, maybe.  We get too close to it.  Our big drawback in the field is, we know what we're doing."
            "Don't you wish we could disassociate ourselves from things sometimes?"
            "It might help."
            "That's a good line.  The biggest thing wrong is we know what we're doing."
            "Let's pull in here and use the bathroom.  Do you need to use the bathroom, Seth?"
            "Yes, yes.  I need to use the bathroom."
            They stop at a lodge.  The driver and Seth leave the car running in the cold, enter the log building and a few minutes later, return.  The car takes to the road again.
            The driver:  "You don't need to turn out the lights when you're done in a public bathroom, Seth.  You turn out the light at home, in a private home, but you don’t need to turn them out in a public bathroom. That's what the lady was upset about."
            "You just turn them off at home, OK."
            "...let me be your body guard..."
            "I'm glad you’re playing that tape, Seth, I like that tape.  It's one of my favorites."
            "...You can be my long, lost pal."
             "I'm just drifting through the day until night."
            "What?  What did you say?  Seth.  That's something you could put into a song."
            "I think it's already in a song."
            "Is that your words, Seth, part of a song?"
            "Part of a song."
            "Some of the new music I just don't like.  It's just noise."
            "I know.  This is one of my favorites, too.  I built my whole cabin to this album."
            "I like how the light changes on the mountains, look it's so deep blue right now."
            "At my cabin, from my picture window, you can see the mountains, McKinley, Foraker and Hunter.  The first day I put that window in, well, the next day, I sat there with a jug of wine from morning until night and watched the light change on the mountain.  It went from pink in the morning to blue to white then to blue again and lavender and almost purple.  That night, there was a full moon and you could see the mountain in the moonlight – silver.  Not much in Alaska really takes my breath away any more, but when I realized I could see the mountain, and it was a hundred miles away, at night,  it took my breath away."
            "I'd like to see your cabin some time."
            "Any time, let me know, you’re welcome anytime.  We can go out there."
            "...if you'll be my body guard."
            "I'm the best.  I'm the best there is.  If I get a job, I'm the best.  I can get a job.  Does everybody in the world know me."
            "I don't think everybody in the world knows you, Seth.  There are a
lot of people in the world.  A lot of people in Anchorage who don't know you."
            "But most people know me."
            "No, Seth, not even most people know you.  You're from a very small place and the world is very big.  Most of the people aren't even in Alaska and all those people don't know you."
            "I'm the best.  I'm proving my innocence because I'm the best."
            "Competency.  Don't you mean competency, you're proving your competency by being the best."
            "Competence."
            "Competence?  What is competence?"
            "Seth, that means you're good at something, you're competent."
            The passenger:  "No, he was right.  Don't you see?  He was proving his innocence by being the best, proving his innocence by thinking he's the best.  Can I write this down?"
            "I wish you would.  Write it."
            "I'll always be on time.  I'll always be there on time at my job.  Janitorial.  I want to do janitorial.  I'll always be there on time."
            The driver: "That's good, Seth.  It's good to always be on time."  A look to the right. "I'm always a half hour late.  There's always something to do, somebody wants something.  I'm all ready to go and one of my kids does something."
            "I'm the best.  I'll always be on time.  I'm the best.  Am I the best?"
            "Seth, there are an awful lot of people in the world.  It's hard to be the best.  You're probably not the best.  But you can be good.  You can be the best you can be."
            The passenger:  "You can be the best Seth in the world.  You can be the best you."
            "...if you'll be my bodyguard..."
            The passenger: "Have you ever read Kurt Vonnegut's 'Bluebeard'?  He talks about how you can't be the best anymore, because you have to compete with world champions.  TV and communications.  Everyone sees the ten or fifteen who are the best at something in the world and the guy in his small town, small world, has to compete with them instead of those around him.  If a kid runs fast in a race, he's still compared with Karl Lewis.  You can't be a big frog in a small pond, you're always competing at the world level, with the greatest of champions."
            "Will I get suspended from Anchorage?"
            "No, Seth, not unless you do something awfully bad."
            "I don't want to get suspended from Anchorage.  I won't do anything bad. I won't disagree with anyone."
            "Seth, it's OK to disagree with someone.  People disagree.  People argue."
            "Do people argue with people they love?  Do they disagree with people they're married to?  I don't want to do that."
            "People argue all the time.  It's part of life.  Husbands and wives
argue.  That's how they settle things.  As long as you don't hurt each other.  You don't want to say things to hurt, but people have differences."
            The Passenger:  "That's what you get for hanging around with homos."
            "What, what did he say."
            A laugh, an agreement.  "Nothing Seth."
            "I don't want to argue,  I don't want to disagree."
            "No, Seth, it's all right to disagree."
            "I disagree with that."
            "What?"
            "He made a joke, Seth, a joke."
            "Oh."
            "...I can be your long, lost pal..."
            "I was up all night.  They came and got me late and we went out and partied.  I didn't get home until four and then I stayed up getting ready for that class."
            "You must be exhausted.  I'll drive if you get tired.  No problem.  I had a couple of beers last night, but I went home early.  I fell asleep watching a movie."
            "I'm Ok.  Does my driving bother you?  Let me know."
            From the back:  "Go away.  Get out of here."
            "No, you're fine.  I haven't been worried at all.
            "If it does, just tell me."
            "...if you'll be my body guard..."
            "Can we go to a party tonight?  I want to go to a party.  Can we see a movie?  Can we see two movies?  I'll take you to the movies."
            "It's going to be late when we get there, Seth.  We'll be tired.  We're going to a party tomorrow.  And maybe a movie."
            "And shopping.  I want to go to Carr's."
            "Why do you want to go to Carr's"
            "Albums.  I want to get albums.  I have albums.  I have enough money for albums.  Do I have enough money for albums.  Enough for two?"
            "I don't know, Seth, we'll have to count your money.  We'll see.  How much do albums cost?
            "Nine- ninety-eight. I want to meet girls.  Let's go to a party tonight.  Oh, boy.  Can we go to a party tonight."
            "I don't think we can go to a party tonight.  Maybe we can rent a movie at the store."
            "Star Wars.  Did you see Star Wars?  I don't want to be a stranger.  I don't want to be suspended from town.  Why did they suspend that guy from town in Silverado."
            "Do you remember in Star Wars?  The scene in the bar where they make the deal with Han Solo to get them out of town.  They walked in and there were all the crazy looking creatures in there.  The bartender said to Luke, "We don't serve your kind in here?"  Do you remember that?  Luke, even though he looked all right to us, was out of place with all those crazy looking critters in the bar.  He looked like a troublemaker.  'We don't serve your kind in here.'"
            "I'm not a troublemaker.  I won't disagree.  I'm the best.  They won't suspend me from town."
            "Good, Seth."
            The passenger:  "Are you hungry, Seth?  Would you like a hamburger. "  Turning, "Can we stop up here at MacDonald's.  I'm starved."
            "Sure, are you hungry, Seth? Want a hamburger?"
            "Yes, yes.  I want a hamburger.  Oh boy, a hamburger."
            The driver:  I've never been in a MacDonald's."
            "Never?  Amazing.  How can you avoid that?  How do you get through life without ever going to a MacDonald's."
            "For one thing, I don't eat fried foods."
            "Maybe we can find something.  They have salads."
            A traffic light, the first in 300 miles, turns red.  On green they turn up a side street, go a short distance then turn in under the commercial arches of the hamburger store.  They step down from the car and two watch Seth race for the building.  Inside he's disappeared, a flick of a heel just vanishing behind the men's room door.  Knowing looks are exchanged, nervous smiles.  The adventure is beginning.  In a short time they're reunited in line, waiting.
            "Seth, why are you jumping up and down?"
            "I'm excited, excited."
            Smiles again.
            "It's all right to be excited.  But you don't need to jump up and down."
            "Or shout."
            "Or shout."
            "OK  OK, but I'm excited."
            "Watch the other people, Seth.  See how the other people stand quietly.  Watch the other people and do what they do."
            "OK.  I'll do what the other people do."
            "Give your order now, Seth.  Tell him what you want."
            "I want a cheeseburger.  A cheeseburger and a coke and a strawberry milkshake.  And a caramel sundae."
            "A hot tea please."
            "A cheeseburger and two milks.  And make his a double cheeseburger."
            "Where did he go."
            "Over there."
            Over there is a table with three teenaged girls sitting around it.  Seth sits in a booth seat next to one of them, his arm up on the back rest around but not touching her.  The adventure.
            The looks on the girls' faces register shock, politeness, nervousness, understanding maybe, even amusement. Comes a conversation of gentle extraction.
                 "Let's go over here and sit, Seth."
            "But, I want to sit here."
            "We don't know them, Seth.  We can't just sit down with people we don't know."
            "But I want to sit with them.  I want to sit with the girls."
            "Seth, we can't just sit with people we don't know.  We can't just sit down with them."
            "Am I a stranger."
            "Yes, you're a stranger to them.  They don't know you.  There's our food, let's sit over here.  Come on, Seth.  Let's leave them alone."
            "I'm sorry."
            "It's all right, Seth."
            "Did I do something wrong?"
            "Yes, it was wrong to sit with someone you don't know."
            "But, I want to meet girls.  Where are my French fries?"
            "You didn't order any.  Did you want some."
            "I did, I did. I ordered French fries."
            "No I was right there.  You didn't order any French fries.  You forgot.  Did you want some?"
            "Yes, yes.  I want some French fries."
            "Here's some money.  Go up to the counter and get some French fries.
            "OK."
            He turns toward the table with the girls around it, then looks back to two faces nodding "no" to him.
            Returning with the French fries:  "I just want to meet some girls."
            "You have to take your time.  You can't be in a hurry.  You have to get to know them first.  See how that boy is, they know him, but he's standing up talking to them politely.  He didn't just jump into the seat and put his arm around them."
            "I'm a stranger."
            "To them you are, to us you're not."
            "I don't want to be a stranger."
            "We are strangers here, too."
            With the meal finished and the Coke and milkshake in hand they leave the store, climb into the car and drive back out onto the highway.
            "Can we go to a party?  Can we go to a movie?  I want to meet girls.  I want to fall in love.  I want to have sex.  I want to marry somebody. I want to be nice. I don't want to be a stranger.  I want to learn."
            "Did you learn anything in there?
            Yes, I did, I learned something."
            "What did you learn, Seth?"
            Ahead in the distance a dome of amber light rose over the highway, the lights of the city reflected under low clouds, beckoning.
          "Yes I did. I did learn something." Then slower, more measured, forced by realization, "I learned something. I learned to go slow."
            Then silence, lost again in the music.
            "...if you'll be my bodyguard, I can be your long, lost pal."


1 comment:

  1. Tim, you should watch the movie Snow Cake. Think you will hear echoes of your story.

    ReplyDelete

Interesting quotations

My dear Mr. Frost: two roads never diverge in a yellow wood. Three roads meet there. — @Shakespeare on Twitter

"The mark of a great shiphandler is never getting into situations that require great shiphandling," Adm. Ernest King, USN

Me: Does the restaurant have cute waitresses?

My friend Gail: All waitresses are cute when you're hungry.

I'm not a writer, but sometimes I push around words to see what happens. – Scott Berry

“The rivers of Alaska are strewn with the bones of men who made but one mistake” - Fred McGarry, a Nushagak Trapper

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

We are all immortal until the one day we are not. – me again

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

If an insurance company won’t pay for damages caused by an “act of God,” shouldn’t it then have to prove the existence of God? – I said that

I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

"Now that you're in the finals you have to run the race that's going to get you on the podium."

"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

Best headlines ever

Sister hits moose on way to visit sister who hit moose.

Man loses his testicles after attempting to smoke weed through a SCUBA tank

Church Mutual Insurance won't cover Church's flood damage because it's 'an act of God'

Homicide victims rarely talk to police

Meerkat Expert Attacked Monkey Handler Over Love Affair With Llama Keeper

GOP congressman opposes gun control because gay marriage leads to bestiality

Owner of killer bear chokes to death on sex toy

Support for legalizing pot hits all-time high

Give me all your money or my penguin will explode

How zombie worms have sex in whale bones

Crocodile steals zoo worker's lawn mower

Woman shot by oven while trying to cook waffles

Nude beach blowjob jet ski fight leads to wife's death

Woman stabs husband with squirrel for not buying beer Christmas Eve