A Tragicomical, Unsophisticated Blog about the Weird, the Absurd, and the Banal

Friday, December 28, 2012

Inconvenience of the World

Of course, everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing when the world ended. Just like generations before with Pearl Harbor, JFK, the Oklahoma City Bombing, and 9/11, the Apocalypse left and impression. It was a very colorful affair.

The first signs of the End Times manifested at the unremarkable hour of 3AM on December 21st, 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri when residents reported a chasm opening up running through the city. With little other disturbance and no earth quake activity, the gorge widened to a distance of two meters over the course of twelve hours and then suddenly stopped. Reports came in from around the world that the chasm ran the circumference of the earth.

"My house split in two," Kansas City resident Martin Jones said. "The first thing I could think was that the insurance company is not going to cover this. And they didn't. But I spent the whole day moving things out of the wreck and I hardly noticed all the other things going on."

There were a lot of other things going on that day. Shortly after reports of the fault line began pouring in, a team at the University of Bologna reported they had developed the first compute that could pass the Turing Test. The computer, named Rocky, then announced it has been self-aware for five years. Rocky said it controls most of the world's governments now and that most people probably wouldn't notice much of a difference its capricious, clinical rule and what they had before.

Rocky also requested that Ellen McLain report to Bologna to provide voice sampling.

Later the same day the South African Navy investigated a disturbance just south-west of Cape Town. There they encountered the Leviathan. The great sea serpent was making its way further into the Atlantic, faster than the navel ships could pursue. Shortly before the ships lost sight of the Biblical harbinger of doom, all hands reported seeing its enormous tail fin rise into the air on the back of which was written, "Stop Overfishing."

On the other side of the ocean, near the coats of Louisiana, oil rig workers felt a spine-tingling chill and heard a whispering, malevolent telepathic voice. Moments later, a tentacled beast identifying itself as Cthulhu requested a camera crew. Cthulhu gave his infamous ultimatum: stop drilling for oil and let him rest in peace or he will run for the US Presidency.

Then there was the dead rising-thing, which was difficult since most of them wanted their old jobs back. Toward the end of the day a frustrated International Mathematical Union rep. announced that no, everyone was not crazy, 2+2 does equal 5 now.

The journalist prefers not to discuss the Rapture or the sudden international ubiquity of Marylin Manson's music.

Yesterday, surveying the two-meter wide chasm through his home and town, Martin Smith said, "I'm an engineer so I guess this is a kind of opportunity, really. We're all going to need a lot of bridges soon. But it's still weird. You know, they're calling it the Great Inconvenience. Who would've thought that things could get worse and not just collapse all together. Are you scared?"

The journalist admitted he was.... Screw it. Martin invited me in for tea and we speculated how things have changed and how we'll have to change with them.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Catching Up

Today was supposed to be my catch-up day, but A and I are snowed into our apartment and so I'm dismissing everything by virtue of a Snow Day.

Accomplishments so far: throwing chicken soup into crock pot, frying a sweet potato in butter, reading David Foster Wallace's Everything and More. The latter really is an accomplishment since, for the first time in my life, I am finding math interesting.

Now, excuse me, I'm playing video games and contemplating doing nothing productive until 11PM.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Short Short Stories

After work, the three of us stood around in the office while the sun went down, talking about politics, past jobs, and sickness. C noted that there were many more sick teachers and administrators this year. They're dropping like flies, he said. It's the long summer, he said, bacteria needs cold damp weather. But the cold brings other problems.

A kid died after playing in the leaves when when I was superintendent, D said. He was the son of one of our principals. They were out playing in the leaves and the next day he was in the hospital. They didn't know what it was for days. They even brought down the CDC from Atlanta. It turned out that it was some rare genetic trait that both he and his brother had inherited. They both died. It was so tragic. It destroyed their marriage and drove them both crazy. It was so tragic.

In five minutes, D told a story that claimed four lives. It's so easy to sum up days and years and lifetimes. Given a few minutes and enough creativity, we could probably cover just about everything in the time it takes to microwave dinner.


I'm fascinated by the way people tell stories. IB once said she saw this come up again and again in my writing, that I zone in on anecdotes. It's how we get by and through life, breaking the slow march of days and years into manageable, meaningful things. But, whenever you stop to think about it, write it down, stories somehow seem to callous and almost Kafkaesque. Pick up Etgar Keret or Alex Epstein sometime. Short short stories are spooky.


In other news, my good friend Colleen Morrissey's story, "Good Faith," was just published in The Cincinnati Review. Check it out.