Writing from Washington DC this morning. Spent the weekend at Miami beach and am currently on day 3 of the sunburn. It’s much better than the evening of day 1, when the nausea and chills set in, or day 2, when it was painful to stand up. Apparently you can’t just watch your own skin for signs of color and then put on sunscreen and apparently, your skin does not “save up” anti burning time. Anyway, I put sunscreen on my face, neck and arms before heading out to Key Biscayne and then forgot all about it until that evening when the nausea and disorientation set in. Now I have a little bit of color on my face and arms and the rest of me looks like a stoplight so I have some evidence that sunscreen actually works.

Friday and Saturday

Passover at the Green’s house. 11 people. We sat down at 9:45 pm and finished at 1:30 in the morning. The Seder started slow and then we all raced to the finish.

Drove over the Lara’s house the next day- a small blue bungalow in Brentwood. I brought two plants, a grape vine and some other trellis-oriented plant as a housewarming gift. Steven- her husband- and I moved a trunk into the basement and worked at pulling some blue vinyl siding off of the porch eaves. I still need to call Lara’s brother Neil.

Wrote the first two paragraphs at the Freer Gallery of Asian art, sitting on the walkway that surrounds a small boxwood garden in the middle. I meant to drive out to Woodley park, relax at a café, and have some coffee but I decided to keep going by train down to the Smithsonian stop where I could take a gander at the Chinese landscape paintings I’d studied in college. The main landscape exhibit was shut for repairs but I decided to stroll around and see whether they’d kept any of the landscapes by Ni Tsan on the walls.

Ni Tsan’s paintings are unusual because they maintain broad swathes of blank canvas. The ink forms trail off into this space, occasionally forming a transparent bridge in the middle of the canvas that joins forms at the top and bottom. It makes me think of the last note in a recital or of a thought that slowly trails away.

Rachel called as I was leaving the art gallery. Went over to her house and planted some azaleas and spring onions in some raised beds that she was working on. Afterwards, Nathan, Rachel and I went over to a block of warehouses on 4th and Morse in NE where we ate Korean food at a bodega wishboned between the Haw San (sp) import export warehouse and four other warehouses. The food was really cheap and the proprietor sat and talked to us while we ate.

One item in re eating at small shops in industrial warehouse clusters. There are forklifts everywhere.

Sat around on the front porch with Dave last night. Dave hand cut some hickory and used to cook a big steak on the portico outside his kitchen.

Happy Easter to the upstairs housemates. Good luck to T Montgomery during her trip to Calif.


At a Marriot Courtyard in Arlington this morning. I arrived after driving up from Norfolk, VA yesterday. I may be traveling to Florida in a few days but this isn’t certain.

Went running in Norfolk, along the side of a side road and under two bridges, one near a warehouse where some kids were working on their lowriders.

Walked around DC last night, from GWU to the monument to Dupont circle/ Conn Ave where I had dinner at Kramerbooks before walking back. Tons of people on the sidewalk. The outdoor tables were packed ith diners at 10:30 which is something more common in Europe and less common in Boston.

Called everyone I knew last night. Walking and talking. Tried to get to people who knew people who knew friends of mine who had phones but no apparent phone numbers then voicemail in order to tell them that I was planning to be around Saturday morning.

Now Passover tonight at Dave’s house. Really Dave’s parent’s house. Everyone will be there. Remind me to get a bottle of wine.

Mistakes Were Made

“Good afternoon America. Good afternoon shareholders. Mark Platner here. We will be reviewing our quarterly results shortly but I wanted to first take a minute and speak frankly on some of the difficulties that have confronted us and about some of the changes we will be making in order to better serve our community, our nation, and those who have chosen to stand by us throughout the last three quarters

First, I’d like to say that this transition period has not been easy for any of us. We’ve all spent long nights on this end, reviewing past decisions, trying to determine where things went wrong. Several of us left the company. One committed Seppuku. The cleaning staff in our Clearwater, FL office is still in therapy. We are paying for the therapy, by the way. We may be in tough financial times but we still care about our employees.

Today we are focused on disclosure. We are glad to get things out in the open and see this as the first part in our own ten-step plan toward corporate accountability. With that in mind, I’ll walk through some of the problems that we have faced and provide some insight to changes in our approach

The biggest and most obvious stumbling block hit us early when we merged Corporate Office Rentals and a new Theme Parks division we’d acquired from a Disney Affiliate. In retrospect, we should have installed our more traditional managers in the Theme Parks division rather than thinking ‘out of the box’ by replacing the Rental Management team with a set of Rodeo Clowns. In retrospect, we were deceived by their inspirational speeches. We are happy to announce, however, that we have settled out of court to control our losses stemming from the early decision to combine coffee stations and mechanical bulls as a “wake up and get going” tool.

Unfortunately, we did not learn the larger lesson here, and followed with other unfortunate staffing changes. An example: while we continue to believe in the enormous potential held by all individuals, we now admit that our decision to hire state-certified sociopaths to staff our “Bright and Perky” line of family restaurants was short-sighted. Many of these restaurants, by the way, are still standing and most of our waitstaff no longer require clozapine to function.

We can also state that our decision to replace a third of our workforce with Roomba’s was unfortunate. While we firmly believe that robots are the way of the future, we feel that these robots may not be Roombas with built in calculators. As part of our ongoing settlement process, we would also like to extend a formal apology to the many patients who visited our regional hospitals during this Roombas phase and in particular, the one hundred and sixty eight patients who ended up getting a less than gentle vacuum massage rather than undergoing standard, accepted open heart surgery procedures.

As you know, our difficulties extended beyond staffing decisions. For those of you wondering about the oversized Monopoly cards sent out in the place of the last quarterly shareholders report, I ask for your patience. You may have gotten our letter on the subject. We now have standard reports prepared for everyone except shareholders with more than two hotels on Ventnor Avenue. We have also removed the slot machine graphic from our homepage share price display. On that note, you may be pleased to know that we remain listed in the NYSE despite the regrettable but well publicized incident with the giraffe.

That said, we are making efforts to improve the situation and communicate these improvements to the outside world. You may recognize, for example, changes in our advertising style. Many viewers were offended by our last ad campaign. They did not, for example, find the commercial where the plane filled with kittens blows up near an orphanage “funny” or “cute” in the way that we’d intended. We regret this. From now on we will use only mimes. Maybe an orphanage full. Just a joke there.

Thanks for listening to my introduction. We will start the formal review now. We suspect that you will find more reassuring information within the body of this report. Pay particular attention to our management analysis. We’ve spent some time trying to clarify parts. You’ll find some liner notes to the interpretive dance sequence under your seats.”

Loose Transcript of a Speech Given by Rebecca Axby, Head of the Amherst, MA Yarn Circle, on the Subject of “Recent, Unfortunate Knitting Choices”

knit digestive

(knitted digestive system by M. Trewe)
Hi everyone, thanks for coming. It’s great to see you all. Now, I know that we want to get started but some members have come to me over the past few weeks and asked me to address an issue that has been causing a stir in our community. And no, who I’m not going to name names, but it has been more- considerably more- than one person.

It’s a delicate subject because we all do great work here and we are all in a big (and growing) family and the support has been great, but a quite a few of the members have been bothered by what they see as unfortunate or divisive knitting choices. In response, I’ve spoken with a few of you privately and, after our conversations, I’ve decided to bring these matters to the attention of the group as a whole. I hope that we can talk through this and then, if it comes to it, vote on knitting guidelines

But I want to say at the start- and I know that we are supposed to discuss this- that I don’t like this idea of guidelines. We have always been very free and supportive here and I would like to see us form a community based on mutual understanding and respect rather than hard rules over patterns and stitching. We all know about the two rival knitting groups in Northampton, how they developed a great deal of animosity toward each other and how someone threw a flaming ball of yarn into the passenger seat of Ms. Sterne’s car. That was all started over some rules. Rules exclude people, and I don’t want that to happen to us.

I also want to give a bit of history and background before we have a discussion. We started, as most of you know, back in 1988— a long time ago in knitting terms. All of the founders are still involved in this organization even though some of them are not here tonight. At the time, the Yarn Circle was half community activity and half knitting promotion. Knitting was coming back. The founders were learning as they knitted together and turned out scarves and hats and then began turning out shirts and larger projects such as the ten person quilt in 1995. We grew too. I joined in 1992 and can tell you that we are at least five times the size of any knitting group in the early 90’s. Some people became bored with knitting and dropped off and I’m sad to say that some of our members have passed away over the years as well.

Some of our members also advanced past pattern work in the late 1990’s and we became known, for a while, as a little bit of an avant garde knitting organization. Cheryl’s table cozy was the first example, I think, and Ms. Reid’s cozy for her dead husband attracted lots of attention and got a mention in the Union News down in Springfield and the Hampshire Gazette over in Northampton. I should also mention Ms. Mark’s knitted interpretation of the Claes Oldenburg Soft Pay Telephone sculpture. That was in 2000, I guess. We needed a van and pallet to move it but it looked great hanging off of the side of the UMass library until the police took it down.

I bring this up because Ms. Marks, you know, left our yarn circle two years ago. Apparently, she did not have time for our group any more; not in her quest to become the Robert Mapplethorpe of American knitting. Some of her friends are still here and I thank you for staying with us. At the same time, Ms. Mark’s move to her own knitting studio shows that there may be some unspoken limits to our knitting club.

In fact, many members have always been perfectly happy knitting scarves and hats and they have made some really great pieces. At the same time, some feel a bit of tension when Kyle, to give an example, brings out the hand-knit death threat that he is working on. Not that the knitting is at all bad— it’s really good— but it’s becoming clear that his piece is intended as a gift to one of our members and I’m sure that nobody really wants to sit for two hours twice a week while someone knits a bloody, three dimensional knife carving up her name. The knitted kidnap lettering is a nice touch, though.

And so, that brings me to my point. We encourage creative knitting but we need projects that are respectful both to our group and to the larger Amherst community. The knitted handcuff cozies were great. On the other hand, our neighbors have protested about the kitted remake of Damien Hirst’s Bisected Cow that is sitting out, right now, in a vat of formaldehyde on the lawn. The same goes for Mr. Lefferts and his performance art knitting. I happen to like your performances but other circle members have mentioned that they find it distracting to see a grown man in writhing and moaning in a mass of tangled yarn on the floor, stabbing at the air with knitting needles and cursing in Dutch.

But this really isn’t meant to highlight or shame any of our members here. We all have different tastes. Cheryl, who has left our group, used to knit socks out of partially tanned cat skin. That was her thing and we understood that. It was nice to have the windows open in the spring, anyway. I just want to open the floor for discussion here, in order to see whether we can develop some guidelines, or at least find a way to make everyone as comfortable and creative as possible.

Okay, any questions? Good. Let’s begin.

Suggested answers to the question “What was that?” just asked by an 8 year old camping out in his own tent for the first time on a family trip in the Maine Woods


1. It is a bear

You may not know it, but the Maine woods are famous for bear training sites. These sites serve as finishing schools for Ursi that may have cut their teeth in the Yosemite Valley or up in the Wilds of Alaska. In the evenings, the bears set up test areas where practice dummies of frightened kids are placed near trees and under rocks. The bears need to retrieve these dummies and eat them within an allotted time span. Nobody knows the time span. The bears do get points, however, for nabbing a hand or a foot.

You may wonder, at this point, why your parents agreed to let you camp out in your own tent while they stayed in the camper van. True, you asked for it, but you remember a look of relief on their faces. They even set the tent up for you. It is smaller, and they called it an eight-year old tent. At the time, you thought that it meant it was your tent. You felt special. You should have read the outside of the tent. It says EIGHT YEAR OLD INSIDE. That’s so the bears will know.

2. It is that crazy person who was killing everyone in that movie you saw two nights ago

There is a crazy person in the woods near your tent and he is waiting to kill people; probably you, your parents, or both. He is in the woods because he knows that you saw his movie two nights ago. He also knows that you hid under the desk in the living room and watched it even though you were supposed to be in bed so you can’t just walk up to the camper van, knock on the door, and announce that there is a crazy person in the woods. That makes you the best first target. He probably followed your family up from your house in Connecticut, strapped to the underside of the van just like he did in the movie. Probably, he will throw your arm through the camper window in order to lure your parents out. It works every time. You already know the important question: is he the type of serial killer that will wait until you are asleep or is he making that noise outside so that you will panic and bolt from the tent? There is probably a police workup somewhere that says “Warning: serial Killer. Looks for tent plus camper van combinations. Tends to throw arms through windows. Eight year olds a specialty.” You stay awake, wondering which photo your parents will choose for the milk carton.

3. It is your older cousin Louis, who stabbed you in the leg with a hunting arrow last week

Yeah, so you yelled a lot and then cried and so Louis, who was over because your Mom’s sister was over, got in a lot of trouble and he was spanked and he was forced to say that he was sorry but you know that he wasn’t sorry and he gave you that look that said “Just wait until I get you alone and you’ll be sorry for getting me in trouble like this and even if I am forced to, let’s say, wait fifteen years and change my identity twice and train in the CIA, I will track you down and kill you for telling my mom that I put that arrow in your leg when you know and I know that we were both just fooling around that that’s what you get and, for that matter, that’s what you will get so help me…” And you know how your Mom and Dad were talking and saying that Louis was kinda crazy and that his mom had been forced to take him to therapy which is unusual because what type of fourteen year old needs therapy and you know that his craziness is just an act because he’s actually evil. Your Aunt told Louis that he couldn’t go on this trip, but that wouldn’t stop him. Right now, he is probably sitting on the edge of the campsite. That sound? He is probably sharpening his baseball bat.

4. Aliens

It is a fact that mental control tracer chips work better in kids under 12. Unfortunately for you, this particular set of Aliens is more interested in organ harvesting than tracking. You are using an A-frame tent, right? It’s not called an A-frame because of the shape, even though it is pointed at the top. “A” stands for Aliens. These tents are famously used as beacons. That’s why so many hikers disappeared in the 1970s. Right now, a team of aliens are pushing a shopping cart through the woods, singing the kidney song. If you listen, you can hear them in the distance, getting closer. They have already used their telepathic powers to put your parents to sleep. You could run, but there is also a serial killer in the woods, waiting for you to bolt from the tent (see number 2).

5. You parents are actually werewolves, and they have taken you out into the woods in order to kill you.

When you turned seven, you realized that you were not related to your parents. You’ve kept this secret for a long time because you don’t want to hurt their feelings. Now, you realize that this was a mistake. What are they doing in that camper van and why did they put you out here? Did they have sympathy for you? Did they want to give you a chance to get away before bursting through the door, slavering and eating everything in sight? Maybe they go out into the woods in order to avoid killing their neighbors. They suggested leaving you with a sitter just yesterday but you yelled and promised to stop putting turkey, mustard, and bread on the dog and calling it “Sandwich” and they gave in. Now, you are out here alone. You wonder how many miles to the nearest highway. Werewolves are fast, though. You’ll never make it through the woods by running. Why didn’t you put sticks and leaves around the tent to conceal it? That’s what you get for not planning ahead. Your Cub Scout leader keeps waxing on about “being prepared” but he never had to deal with werewolves. The more that you think about it, the more it makes sense. You were never their child. You are a snack.

6. It is nothing.

This is incorrect. If it is quiet outside, if you hear nothing but the hum of cicadas, then something really dangerous is sneaking up on you. How do I know that it is dangerous? Ask yourself this question: What else could be that silent?

Puppykat: A Day In The Life

Background Puppykat
6:30 AM: Wake up, go to Ellen’s bed, wag tail, try to make “huff huff” sound again. Leap on to bed and breathe in face.

7:30 AM: Quit breathing in face, leap off bed. Try barking. Moment of conflict. Whine.

8:30 AM: Eat breakfast. Watch Ellen struggle to eat bowl of cereal while putting on hose. Remind her about being let out.

8:38 AM: Ellen is looking for phone, then keys, still need to be let out. Go fetch toy and put in front of her feet. Maybe she wants to play. Walk in circles. This worked last time. Listen to Ellen yell about litter box. Look at her. Still need to be let out.

8:40 AM to 2:00 PM: Go to bathroom on carpet, sleep, watch sidewalk outside of window. Wait for birds to land on the parked cars. Wag tail when other cats pass nearby.

2:00 PM to 5:00 PM: Soul crushing existential crisis.

6:00 PM: Ellen comes home. Yells about litter box. Get let out. Take favorite chew toy on walk.

Selected Events
Less Successful Episodes of
Crossing Over with John Edward
Episode # 158: Ghost of Financial advisor communicates out of date bond portfolio recommendations to audience member who has switched financial brokersEpisode #326: Now departed Auntie Jess attempts to connect with cat, Mittens, only to find that animals are not allowed in studio

Episode #328: Dead Member of local Vietnamese gang delivers message threatening to “cap” audience member for snitching

Episode #399: Ghost of Secretary of Transportation attempts to deliver message on benefits of carpooling to disinterested audience

Episode #426: John Edward is temporarily possessed by Thetans who try to sell E-Meter technology to audience


Darth Vader’s Demise As Understood in the Context of a Box of General Mills Cereal, Interpreted by the Head Investigator of the Parnassus, NJ Police Force

star wars cereal 1

Jones, get the light. Thanks Jones. Allright men, this is all that we have to go on, two pictures, and one…cape. The bodies are missing but we have reason to believe that Vader was kidnapped from the Lucky Pigeon last night and may have been killed. Cut to picture number one. This bowl of cereal is our lead suspect. We suspect that Vader may have known his assailant. Cut to picture number two.

star wars cereal 2

We have been fortunate to obtain this. It surfaced in the mail after the Dooku massacre in Chicago. Vader—younger here—is apparently trying to fend off the bowl of cereal while this other woman… hold on… Padme watches from the background. Given her expression in the photograph and her known relationship with Vader, we suspect that she may be colluding with the cereal. Her whereabouts are unknown but she is to be treated as a potential suspect in this case.

Cut to picture number one. We have reason to believe that this is the same bowl of cereal. If anyone comes across any evidence that there may be more than one perpetrator, that these bowls are twins or maybe a gang, get on the phone and call me. I need to let other people know. Apparently the police in Modesto have put George Lucas’ house on 24 hour watch.

Also, note Vader’s expression. We believe that he may have been suffering from depression.

Okay, you all know the routine. I’m reminding you all that this is a high profile case for Parnassus. Please don’t talk to reporters. Also, no heroics. This bowl of cereal has already killed two Jedi… wait, sorry, Sith knights. We suspect that your bulletproof vest will not provide sufficient protection. Maintain perimeter and call for backup. That goes for you too Parker. Just do your job this time.

Jones, get the light. Thanks Jones.



You have $100 right? You don’t? I’m sure you can get it. Why? Because I’ve just been given a lead on the guns & ammo equivalent of a Pantera reunion tour. No really, check this out:Boomershot 2006 . 200 people are driving to Idaho in late April for the express purpose of taking rifle shots at over 800 targets containing nearly 1000 lbs of high explosives. After all, the only thing better than shooting at something is shooting at something and watching it blow up. Apparently, it takes place out in a field. Shots are taken from 350+ yards for most of the day but there is some late in the day cleanup at closer ranges if some of the explosives have failed to detonate. The organizers maintain a strict ceasefire when cars are passing by. The only thing that could be more fun would be a combination explosive detonation and pumpkin chucking event. Or a Pantera reunion. It’s no too late. I hear Anthrax is getting back together.

The twenty five thousand dollar hedgehog


So what is this?

It’s a hedgehog, apparently. Made by an eight-year old in Texas. She won a $25,000 Pillsbury bake off prize with the hedgehog, which is a great deal of spending money for an eight year old. It was supposed to a chocolate turtle, but she had a brother who was a year older and he did what brothers are supposed to do by sticking the turtle with a pretzel stick while she yelled for mom. She cried a lot and her bother was sent out to clean the garage or else and her mom sat down and stuck a few more pretzel sticks in the turtle and suggested that she make a hedgehog. Her grandmother had hedgehogs, after all, and that incident with the microwave and her previously favorite hedgehog didn’t mean anything and it could be named Sally, just like the recently departed hedgehog was named Sally and the Mom was pretty sure that Grama felt bad about Sally and this would make her happy, even – she thought—if her daughter was about to present her Mom with an edible version of a hedgehog that had just been killed by a kitchen appliance. So, while her brother was complaining and crashing around in the garage, they carefully removed the turtle head and replaced it with a hedgehog head and then the eight-year old took some photos with the digital camera while mom paid bills and then she sent them to grandma by email even though Mom would be required to go to Grama’s house next week in order to open the email her daughter had just sent which meant that Grama would ask about Rick and she’d explain again that Rick was off cycling across Nevada and had not run away and he’d stop by just as soon as he got back even though he’d be forced first to listen to her raise hell because what kind of husband announces that he is taking a month off in order to bike across some forsaken desert right after watching an old Steven Spielberg alien movie that features, in order, the Nevada landscape, a rock formation called the Devil’s Tower and a bunch of dead cattle? Anyway, Grama loved the photo and then had some sudden recollection which made her think of the neighbors who used to take part in baking contests when she was growing up and she got to talking about baking contests and never even mentioned Rick but instead went into a lengthy account of a raffle down in Elizabeth city, North Carolina where the grand prize was a washing machine and that she’d been asked to pull the ticket from a big goldfish bowl of tickets and that she’d always felt guilty about pulling out her own ticket even though she hadn’t done anything wrong. It’s just like fate in reverse, she said. Sometimes good things happen to you and you can’t do anything about it. But anyway, she had Mom look up baking contests online and there was a Pillsbury baking contest for kids and Mom was so relieved that she was talking about anything but Rick that she agreed to submit the picture and her best guess at the recipe and then she had to go because the eight year old was coming back from school and who knows what the brother was up to, probably shooting something or blowing something up or crashing his bike into something but if that’s what it took to get a kid outdoors these days, she was happy for it.

Six months later, they all get a call from Pillsbury and the daughter gets $25K minus about $12K in taxes which is still enough money for everyone to grab Grama and go meet Rick at the end of his ride…if he hasn’t been taken up by aliens and carted off to a star system light years away and it seems like a real stroke of luck for everyone but the brother who was cut out of the earnings and will return from Nevada to sit in a classroom and face the following question: if two trains leave at the same time from Des Moines and Iowa City respectively and train A is traveling at sixty miles per hour and train B is traveling at eighty but is slowing down by one mile per hour every five minutes when and where will they meet and how much will lunch cost at the diner across from the station?

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