i am having a dumb-day. my
head isn't working and all the muscles around my jaw and
neck are twitchy and crabbed. other symptoms of dumb-day include:
having overdue library copies of Billy Liar and The
Third Man ready for viewing but still insisting on cueing
up a copy of Die Hard 2 on DVD so i can hear things go
bang bang boom. before i sat down to write this i was sitting
on my couch in a pair of greasy denim overalls, eating a barbequed
squirrel on a stick and taking big, sloppy hits from a 3-gallon
jug of Hawaiian Punch. i'm ready for my intervention.
- I FELL APART AT 01:53 p.m. ON 19
i added a piece called "THE
LOQUACIOUS TOLL-BOOTH ATTENDANT" to the New Words section.
seemed like a fitting place for it.
i've also changed a lot of normally familiar things on
the site, including a reformed 'about'
section, with over ten new milestones added to my neurosis timeline.
(i can't believe i just called your attention to that.) it
was a struggle to launch this stuff and there are some other things
on the way but i was sort of in a now-or-never publishing situation
with myself, especially since this launch comes right on the heels
of my new almost complete disinterest in reading any writing on
the web. hopefully (for many reasons) you're more open-minded
about such things. tell your neighbors to say hello to tremble
and please drop me a line when you
- I FELL APART AT 01:00 a.m. ON 19
what's new? a lot, i suppose. for one, i felt it was
time to clean tremble's ears out and in the process changed
some things around. hopefully, everything will be a bit easier
to find, even if you're kind of stupid. longer, (hopefully)
more thoughtfully considered pieces of writing will still be updated
in 'new words' and a complete history of those writings
live in 'old words'. 'published elsewhere'
is pretty much what you'd imagined, as are most of those
other links. click around. i won't get mad.
oh yes. here's a new thing! this page. i really wanted
to make tremble as excellent as all of the other high-quality
personal web sites available for free, and i decided the best
way to do this would be to make tremble exactly like all of the
other high-quality, free personal web sites. that means i'm
pushing words to this page whenever it suits my fancy, to let
you know special things or just to spread my homespun brand of
hate-mongering. thanks to pitas
for providing the necessary technology to let me update without
there are bound to be problems. i'm not a very attentive
person when it comes to page design quality assurance, so i would
ask you two things. first, be large in the heart and full of forgiveness.
and second, please report any weird things to the proper authority.
have a nice time. and remember: you are my favorite reader.
- I FELL APART AT 12:44 a.m. ON 19
look what i found! i was sniffing around my computer's hard
drive, amazed that i am still in possession of text doodlings
i wrote over six years ago (about the time i first learned, by
attrition, how to use a computer). among the scraps was what i
guess was supposed to be a poem called 'girlfren'. in
case you thought me invincible, feast your greedy eyes on all
my sad artlessness:
talks like a maintenance man
thinks like a hurt artist
holds court with everyone and a cigarette
made of customized rubber
shaped like an ass beating
from your childhood crush
my girlfren smells
like a flower
in my front jeans pocket
her hair is where she wants it
her hands are never wrong
while her body sways with me
with me now
(apologies this instant!)
- I FELL APART AT 12:35 a.m. ON 19
ask anybody - i am famous for my delightful and drole Subway Sandwiches
stories. tonight, like any other night, i dreamed of six inches
of slightly stale wheat bread hugging some hand-folded Subway
fixins. and tonight i acted.
being lazy, i decided to purchase the exact sandwich featured
in the glossy advertisement on Subway's storefront window.
it was a chickeny thing that i would never have ordered if slick
advertising did not command me to - and a meat stuffing that was
completely new to me in Subway world. when it was being prepared,
i watched the employee pluck a neat, naked chicken breast from
its designated plastic bin. then, only because he didn't
chop it up (as the ad's image promised) i noticed something
profoundly upsetting: the piece of chicken was narrow and long.
in fact, it was exactly six inches long. which means that, well,
it means, um...it means reams of meetings and research measurements
and development and fine-print in contracts and projected revenues
and more and more and more. and suddenly it stopped being food
to me. and then i ate the fuck out of it, tears in my eyes, barely
stopping to breathe between bites except to occasionally fill
the empty pockets of my mouth with pieces of otis spunkmeyer cookie.
- I FELL APART AT 12:13 a.m. ON 18
have been on a movie-watching bender lately, thanks to my library's
free video policy (suckers!) and the netflix
dvd subscription service. (allow a brief editorial aside here,
please: i am conflicted about whether netflix is a worthwhile
service for anyone not living in a town small enough to have its
name appended by "falls", "corners", "park", or "shithole". while
it is nice to get videos in the mail, and to be relieved of the
guilt and debt inducing late fees, netflix - like many internet
applications - further removes spontaneity from your life. you
have to plan to want to see videos, and browsing is somewhat annoying
and lacking surprise when you aren't staring before a large
wall of videos. chances are, using netflix, you're less likely
to take home The Last Dragon or A Gnome Called Gnorm
out of reasons of sudden nostalgia or loss-of-good-sense. frankly,
i still miss the days when every gas station and card shop in
town carried a small selection of videos because no one wanted
to miss out on the 'craze'. i thank netflix for freeing
me of my $50/month late-fee habit, but i curse it for its coldness
and its not-so-subtle anti-semetism)
where were we? oh yes - videos. as part of this bender,
i watched the 1972 film, The Heartbreak Kid. i think
i pulled its name from AFI's list of 100 finest american
comedies (it was listed three slots below cheech and chong's
The Corsican Brothers so i knew it was in great company)
and, with elaine may directing and charles grodin starring, it
seemed to have a lot going for it.
it's been almost 24 hours since i watched the film, and
i'm still sorting it out. if you haven't seen it, please
do. it's a comedy, but a really grim one. here is the best
way i can describe it: take that last scene from The Graduate
in which benjamin and elaine, having acted on probably a very
real and very liberating passion (at least to them), are sitting
next to each other on the bus, looking around as if they have
no fucking idea what comes next - now follow that moment and those
characters to a natural conclusion. that's the heartbreak
kid, i think. it seems to be about impetuous mistakes, mostly.
here's the outline. the main character, lenny, decides that
after five days of marriage he has made an awful mistake. essentially,
he has married his mother (although this isn't explicitly
stated). on his honeymoon he meets someone else who excites him
in completely new and (as far as he knows) sincere ways. this
is the right woman; not his current newlywed. what follows is
a series of awkward moments as lenny tries to secure his new relationship
and end his old one - all during his honeymoon. this means terrible
lies and deceitful behavior, and the most pathetically passive-aggressive
breakup speech in movie history.
and here's my trouble with the film. i watched it, fully
expecting lenny to be punished for his behavior. i expected him
to learn how to be alone. i expected him to be caught in every
lie and left out to dry by his newest object of affection. the
thing i kept losing site of was his blind determination to make
his new relationship work. i forgot that perhaps this new love
was actually the real love, and not just another flip decision.
just like in the graduate, where the characters might actually
be experiencing a vague moment of doubt at the end of the film,
i carried a looming sense of doubt about lenny throughout the
entire film - ignoring the fact that he's actually feeling
something exciting. it's my typical anti-Ayn Rand response
- i think she's a terrible person for promoting individual
desire and vision above society to such a degree that it absolves
that individual of any responsibility toward a society in which
he can potentially do good. (if howard roark had exploded the
Citicorp headquarters instead of a low-income housing facility,
i probably wouldn't have felt as conflicted as i did - but
i guess that was the author's intention. which side are you
on, boy?) can that same principle be applied to relationships?
should your mistakes in one relationship be punished, considered
and repented before you are able to move on to the next? why
do i care? why do i think lenny should be unhappy? why
would i share this with you?
fuck all of this. tomorrow night i'm going to rent The
- I FELL APART AT 06:59 p.m. ON 17
there is a great line in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (the 1973
film based on the play by balzac) which should serve as the official
slogan for every creepy slasher film that has followed this film
since: "that's the last goddamn hitch-hiker i ever pick up."
- I FELL APART AT 06:54 p.m. ON 14
i worry about my optometrist. his latest girlfriend is too young,
i think. i saw her tax return recently and saw that, under 'additional
sources of income', she was still including 'the tooth
fairy'. (cue rimshot)
we all attended a Teenage Fanclub show this evening, and it
was difficult being in the company of his girlfriend. she's
teething, and her constant crying and fussing required that my
optometrist and i take turns walking her stroller around the block.
naturally, it meant missing a good portion of the concert. at
least my lack of intimacy with her relieved me of the responsibility
of changing her diaper. i told my optometrist she was too young,
too sensitive for unstrained food. lesson learned, i think.
- I FELL APART AT 04:29 a.m. ON 14
i wonder, as i sit here nursing my tender hands, how old i will
be when i stop coming home past 2 a.m. and falling down in my
stairwell, my clothes infused with cigarette smoke, pickled egg
juice, and pogues lyrics. want to know the truth? i don't
wonder too hard, actually. time to soak my hands.
- I FELL APART AT 02:32 a.m. ON 13
i wish my life were measured by a series of to-do lists. more
often than necessary i suffer from the anxieties associated with
existential inertia, as i wait patiently for a force to act upon
me. i discovered this morning that if i arrange my life as a to-do
list, or a group of to-do lists of varying importance, i become
energized with each item i can cross off.
this need is the product of my inability to handle encouragement
very well. i become suspicious of the sincerity, and suspicious
of the credibility of my source; i often ask to check references,
etc. i am climbing this imaginary ladder of validation, constantly
seeking out more refined and rarified sources. at some point i'm
afraid i will only be able to answer to the ghost of groucho marx
for creative reinforcement. i realize all of this means that the
one person whose approval i cannot have is always going to be
the same person whose approval i crave most. (at this point all
the psychoanalysts reading this can prick up their ears and pronounce,
"that one person is you, todd," and then invoice me collectively.)
but measuring my success by the rules of to-do lists makes me
feel like i'm obeying a tenable, mathematical formula for
satisfaction. i can fool myself into believing a crossed off item
is complete beyond all doubts and second-guesses. if i can cross
off "mail postcards from france", even when i'm mailing them
from my brooklyn home weeks after returning from france, i feel
like i can safely move on with my life. i know that part of the
inertia i experience is a belief that if i can't mentally
cross something off my mind, i must stay put. it's linear
thinking. that's why i'm going to start making to-do
lists with pre-completed items like "write acceptance speech for
pushcart prize" and "free slaves". that way i can wake up, check
my to-do list, think to myself, "hey, i'm doing so bad,"
and suck up enough faith to clean the litterbox.
- I FELL APART AT 01:39 p.m. ON 12
i used to hate libraries. full of books on subjects i know nothing
of - world history, captains of industry, esperanto - all just
sitting there trying to make me feel stupid. when i was a child,
my legal guardian often took me to the library for 'quiet
time'. (during my quiet time he'd usually disappear
into the library's bathroom and emerge 30 minutes later uttering
vague insinuations that he might be the messiah. then he'd
fall asleep in the non-fiction 700s.) i hated the library - its
smells and its vast volumes of knowledge - and would usually squander
my time reading the latest garfield the cat opus or stan lee's
How to Draw Scientific Parallels the Marvel Way. it was
unbearable. all those pages i'd never read. all those ideas
i'd never have time to ban.
but recently, after a very long public hiatus (i stopped spending
time in libraries after garfield lost his edge and my legal guardian
overdosed in the men's bathroom of the library of congress),
the library system won me back. and how did it do this? by
offering movie rentals! libraries are notorious for stocking foreign
cinema and 'classic' films (i.e. movies in which every
character wears a hat, no matter his or her occupation), which
is perfect because i have no desire to actually spend money on
old, dusty films or films that were too cheap or shoddy to hire
real american, english speaking actors.
the library now envigorates me by making me realize how much
i resent spending money on yellowed, forgotten back-catalog titles
when i can be investing those same dollars in movies with costly
linticular box art - movies like Jack Frost. (the scary
one; not the based-on-a-true-story one). the presence of movie
rentals in public (FREE!) libraries allows me to have the best
of both cinematic worlds: free old movies to balance out the expensive
blockbusters that need my rental money to survive. just today
(at least for the purposes of this fiction), in fact, i brought
home two classics that i can't wait to watch: Garfield
in the Rough and How to Watch Movies the Marvel Way.
i'm awakening my love of nostalgia.
- I FELL APART AT 12:47 a.m. ON 12
my european vacation was a washout, pictorially, thanks to an
old manual camera and a completely inept cameraman. out of three
rolls, two fell off their spools inside the camera. in other words,
i was parading around europe operating a camera that for all intents
and purposes had no film in it, the way one lets a baby 'operate'
old, broken cameras or phones or electric can openers. 'well,
at least he isn't hurting anyone,' god proclaimed.
the one surviving roll contained a few salvageable (i.e. properly
exposed) black and white photographs. while i'm sure most
of the things i saw in paris and barcelona have already been photographed
at one point or another by far more skilled and gifted photographers
(or at least photographers who know how to load film), i did have
one small bit of luck on my own. thanks to a carnival ride at
far-off street fair and a conveniently placed statue in le jardin
des tuilleries, i got to keep this one.
- I FELL APART AT 02:35 p.m. ON 5 JULY, 2001
everyone has a friend with a quasi-super power. it's not usually anything to write home about - like heat vision or werewolf agility or the power to remove bras and panties telekinetically - but it's usually something that warrants a story or, at parties, a live show. things like being able to swallow a piece of string or chain and pull it out through your nose. or an ability to remember every major league baseball player from the 1981 season. or being able to orgasm twice in one night without losing one's vision temporarily.
i don't have any parlor tricks i can perform. i am not a go-to person in this sense. i can't even catch a stack of quarters from my elbow or make a paper football. i can't do anything that could be demonstrated in less than 15 seconds (which is the 'patience ceiling' for these kinds of tricks). but tonight i was thinking about how great it would be if i could eat any kind of food and instantly have the knowledge from sense-memory to re-create that food from scratch. nothing difficult, like Dentyne gum, but maybe tom kha gai soup from my favorite restaurant or a cheese sandwich. that could be my power. and if (when demonstrating this power) i attracted criticism i could just turn their bones to powder with my Psychic Pulver-Eyes®.
i know someone who can remember the birthday of every single person she meets, even if she can't remember your name. this may be useful or charming to others but i found this talent depressing, if only because it revealed to me that i share a birthday with carrot top. (yes, he got the looks and the sense of humor. i got all the spirituality, though.)
- I FELL APART AT 09:42 p.m. ON 3 JULY, 2001
tonight i realized (again) exactly how deep my own petty insecurities run. i have a friend who performs in a show called De La Guarda, a kind of theatrical performance/house party centered around a handful of incredibly well-toned young adults engaged in all manner of athletically charged movements while suspended from the ceiling on bungie cords. part of the novelty of the show is that, at one point, performers swoop down from the ceiling (the audience stands below them, marveling and getting a mouthful of artificial rain and confetti), snatch people from the audience, and pull them into the air high above the rest of the ticket-holding crowd. (i've been told that for each show they generally try to grab two women and one large man, for variety and good showmanship.)
i was nervous and fidgety for the first twenty minutes of the show, up until the part where the performers make their way into the crowd and interact with people (arbitrarily, i guess). it was like a school dance for me. i kept waiting to see if someone would grab me, or climb on my back, or pull me into the air to fly. they didn't and i spent the rest of the show thinking that it was only because i am unappealing and unloveable. i wish i could say i was making this stuff up. i felt like i struck out at the catillion.
now i realize the feelings of rejection and self-doubt i experienced at an audience-participation performance are nothing more than the mechinations of a clearly insane brain, but that still doesn't explain this: when one of the performers brushed up against me she flinched, and then immediately demanded that a nearby cast member toss her a can of Cootie Spray. honestly, i don't even think there's any such thing as Cootie Spray and that doesn't matter anyway because i do not have cooties - i swear.
- I FELL APART AT 01:57 a.m. ON 2 JULY, 2001
::VISIT THE ARCHIVE, PLEASE.::