Book Club

A Found Tone Poem Composed Entirely of Email Subject Lines I Have Received Today


could not find path

Even Steven goes to war

yay us.

Error lights and daughter windows

Once again terribly remiss . . .


Have you heard of HGH oral spray?

Hey Hey

I’m not a virus, I promise!

This room of . . . This Room and This Gin and These Sandwiches

Cost of living


That’s why you’re hearing ducks

vintage hats are now GONE

Houston, we have a problem . . .

Triple Word Score

The Breasts in the Machine

At a bar close to my home–wonderful bar! Strong, cheap drinks; and only one scary regular, but get this: he’s a lightweight! He goes home plastered by 7:00 all the time. I can’t decide if he’s the most successful lush in Lushworld or its saddest failure. Who can’t love a bar with a mysterious, paradoxical scary regular? By the way, he does, however, hew closely to the Immutable Law of Barflies: Steve Miller Must Be Played and Played Often. I hardly have to point out that without barflies, Steve Miller would to this day be toiling in obscurity or idly carving “eat me warden” on the wall of some desert gulag, but no, he had to go be their fucking patron saint.

They have something else there at the bar: the MegaTouch. You’ve seen these; they’re basically these cathode ray tubes with touch-sensitive screens, because, you know, you can’t ever get enough of other peoples’ hand grease on your digits. You can play about a thousand different games on these things, some that seem to have been devised by febrile sociopaths. Why is there an enormous wall of tiny cartoony movie monsters all stacked on each other in neat columns, and why does jabbing some of them with your finger make a whole bunch of them turn into bats and fly away? Nobody knows. Want to play air hockey, but without the air or the hockey? You can! Want to do a word find where the hidden words are all related to metallurgy? Jesus Christ, of course not.

I myself am addicted to two pretty mindless card gamelets, one called Tri Towers and the other 11-Up. They are exactly as tedious as their titles, so I won’t bore you with any descriptions, nor any justifications as to why I enjoy them, which is a relief, because there are no plausible justifications of that sort. But these of course are not the reasons MegaTouch exists. Of course not. MegaTouch exists for the “Erotic” games.

Of course we’re talking boobs here. There are the gal-(and gay fella-)friendly “Men” options, but you never see it being used. No, guys play things like Strip Poker and Spot-The-Difference and Sex Trivia (“How many quarts of semen does the average man ejaculate in a year?” Please don’t tell me!) for one reason, and that’s to see some breasts. Now I’m all for this, don’t get me wrong–I delight in breasts. But it just kills me that in the Golden Age of Available Porn (thanks, Internet!), guys will still sit around in a bar and hoot at the prospect of catching a chaste glimpse of a model’s tits that looks like it was shot in 1974 on someone’s front porch in Hoboken. Girls and the gay fellas, if they ever play, of course, are not blessed with the dubious honor of getting to look at any shriveled, embarrassed penises. That would be lewd. But boobs, you bet! Boobs! The guy could easily go home and fire up Google and have his most exacting, specialized set of personal fetishes catered to in seconds–for free, or he’s not trying very hard–but somehow the prospect of winning a brief shot of some pixilated melons in a bar still lures him.

I’m sure someone will be delighted to barf up their current thesis on the pervasive sexualization of our consumerist culture, or the double standard of acceptability re: the objectification of gender, or the unremitting onslaught of the televisual media into every cranny of our lives, but these arguments will probably all make me feverishly wish for a drink. So I’ll go down there and order some food and a beer and maybe play some Tri Towers for a while. I know I won’t play any of the erotica games, because I never do. But then I’ll think, “Man, what if they ever decide to just stick Google on these things?”

Things fall apart.

Get Your Geek On

Spider-Man Can and Should Be Your Life

I have been enjoying one of my Christmas gifts very much: Spider-Man for the Game Cube. I’ve been enjoying it on a number of levels.

One is obvious: it allows me more time to ignore distractions like books, spending time with my mate, culture, movies, and the outside world. Where I once wasted ridiculous amounts of time interacting with “other people,” now I only interact with one thing: Spider-Man. I mean, what would you rather do, be a superhero, or eat a nourishing meal? There’s no contest. Plus I’m shedding pesky pounds, which is important when you’ve allowed yourself to bloat up to a fearsome 150 pounds. I’m 5’9″, and I’m thinking that Spider-Man is really going to help me hit my ideal weight of 89 pounds in just a couple weeks.

Another thing I’ve rediscovered is my own fragile mortality. Spider-Man really brings this home for me, because I spend a lot of time dying. A lot of time. Whether it’s plummeting 150 feet down to the pavement because I ran out of web fluid, or being mercilessly beaten to death by inept goons, or simply running directly into a blazing fire–three times–I realized “Man, I could go at any time. Dying would really cut into my time spent playing Spider-Man. I’d better not run into any large, blazing fires.” And so I become smarter. I can’t wait to get to the Green Goblin–probably in about nine years or so, if I stay clear of those dumb, unarmed, unskilled deathbringing goons I mentioned before–because he is going to kill me in so many numerous, inventive ways. I can’t fucking wait!

Finally, what I’ve really discovered is my ability to overcome; I have, if I may, an indomitable will. My singlemindedness has empowered me to pooh-pooh challenges such as fiery, weeping bedsores on my buttocks; the plaintive cries of my fiancee to please, please speak to her; and powerful starvation-induced hallucinations. (It hampers gameplay when the inept goons all suddenly look like Tommy Smothers, and then they swarm out of the TV and start gnawing on your pale ankles while singing “Disco Duck.”)

So I recommend that everyone get this game. It will make you wiser. It will make you a better person. It will make you oblivious to the needs of–or, really, existence of–other people. And we all know what Sartre said about other people: they’re nice, but they’re sure as hell not Spider-Man. And Sartre was a pretty happy guy.