Category Archives: just kidding

Commencement

[Ruffles papers at the dais]

In conclusion, here at the outset

[deafening applause]

[group of deaf students applaud]

[group of students wearing shirts that say Jesus Gave me Tinnitus applaud inaudibly]

[group of highly politicized roll-carts roll by, somewhat audibly, as if of their own volition. As though they are operating under their own control. Sentient roll-carts? Some blue, some black, some brown, some green. The roll carts do not have eyes, though they be sentient. Aye]

and so as a lunch-time option, I will suggest, it is of vital importance that snacks be “factored into the equation.”

[A tropical fish, who had been gazing with deep inattention at the square of linoleum floor framed by his idly hanging flippers, now slowly and deliberately looks up at the speaker. His attention has been piqued. What’s this about lunch? Snacks? ]

A snack isn’t what we make it. Even if it is we who have made the snacks. I’ll often make a snack for myself, mid-afternoon, as though a dog left alone at home had the ability to open the fridge, unscrew bottles, spread nut-butters with nut-butter knives…

[A very pink fish is lost in her own reverie. She imagines a chocolate laborador, left home alone, unscrewing a jar of peanut butter, dipping in a long blunt knife, and spreading the peanut butter across three saltine crackers. It is, needless to say, an erotic fantasy. The fish is transmuted into a feline. The feline is transmuted into an unopened tin of sardines. The tin opens itself, with a great deal of volition, and begins snacking upon itself, heartily, its lips — such as they are — smacking.]

And so women. And so men. And so students of the region, who are gathered and fed and assembled and educated here, under these eaves, under this aegis, be-chancelled by this bewitching chancellor–

[The Chancellor, whose name is R. Bowen Loftin, gathers himself up in a great mawkish burst of plumage, then shits himself into a garbage pail; exeunt.]

And so, at the outset, or in conclusion, the class of 1999 now leads you, seniors, graduating class of 2016, into blinkered victory. I hope you’re OK. I hope you all inherit a great deal of money and then squander your inheritance on graduate education and activism and travel and charity. And love. Squander everything for love, my children. Because love is the most pragmatic tool you can wield in the economy into which you’re graduating. And I needn’t remind you that all of your love is concentrated in your genitals.

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Delicate Squint

CAL: Five hours of sleep.

HERA: Four.

CAL: Three hours of sleep.

HERA: Two.

[A cool cat swiffs itself across the linoleum, wiping it clean but leaving a trail of black hairs]

CAL: An hour of sleep.

HERA: I’m changing my major. From philosophy to social justice.

CAL: Social justice is a major?

HERA: What I mean is, I’m dropping out of college to become an activist.

CAL: Why?

HERA: Because reading Henry James all day isn’t helping address income inequality in this country.

CAL: Neither is writing angry blogposts about income inequality. Or standing on the streetcorner arguing with Republicans about income inequality.

HERA: It’s better than nothing. And also you are cynical. Political change in America is possible. People change their minds.

CAL: No they don’t.

HERA: Be serious.

CAL: I am being serious!

HERA: Well, I have to finish cooking and then I need to do some online banking.

CAL: Can I help?

HERA: No.

CAL: OK. Let me know if you need help.

HERA: I will.

CAL: Thanks. OK.

HERA: All right.

CAL: See you soon?

HERA: [Does not answer. Performs several online banking tasks. Cooks an arpeggio of salad. Fantasizes about a field mouse turning on a hot spit. Fantasizes about being Cal’s waitress at a fancy restaurant she also owns and is the head chef for. She hands him the menu, her hair in adorable sweaty strands adorning her face. Cal looks down at the menu and reads, half to himself, “Roasted Field Mouse.” Their eyes meet. This is love. This is scintillation. This is mutual attraction. This is Vermont in the 1980s.]

CAL: [Approaches a donut. Purchases it. Eats it in half-furtive bites from his open jacket pocket. Looks down to see he has paws. Big blue CGI family-friendly bear-paws. He has had five hours of sleep. He is perennially, perpetually “on deadline.” He will tell people he’s “on deadline” even if by that he means he needs to go to the pharmacy by this evening or else he’ll be unable to pick up his prescription without re-ordering it.]

[Cal once helped name a craft beer. It’s called PawPrint Blue Stout. He often orders it when he drinks at the Lathe.]

LATER THAT NIGHT, AT THE LATHE

CAL: [His voice thick with the foamy syrup of a fresh PawPrint Blue Stout]: I got five hours of sleep last night.

When Is It Too Late?

A: Help! I’m curious when it’s too late.

B: Do you mean you’re curious when it’s too late? Or you’re curious when it’s too late?

A: Help!

B: Calm down. We have an audience [Gestures to the audience.]

A: [Gestures to B’s gesturing]

B: Mocking me?

A: Mocking you?

B: Aleatoric birdsong

A: Harpsichord deathmonk

B: [Holds her tongue]

A: [Peacefully abides within a privileged suffering]

B: [Blows another imaginary deadline]

A: [Participates in careless riffing]

B: [Subscribes to a community newspaper with at least one racist reporter]

A: [Eats a great deal of Japanese bean-crackers]

B: [Watches Daniel Radcliffe rap a Blackalicious song on Jimmy Fallon on YouTube]

A: [Hurts himself with a mental needle]

B: [Farms out some stuff to a Little League of refreshment-and-freelancers]

A: What was your question during the Q&A?

B: I asked if a certain compound phrase the short-fiction writer used in her story was hyphenated

A: Cos you were trying to picture the phrase, how it was printed?

B: It changed the meaning for me, whether it was hyphenated or not

A: What was the phrase? How did a hyphen change its meaning?

B: Well OK It didn’t change it dramatically. Or… even … like… semantically. It was more of an aesthetic thing.

A: Like a blind guy at the opera who wants to know what color are the buttons on the Colonel’s vest

B: Exactly so

A: —B, the colonel’s buttons were orange

B: What sort of orange?

A: Brass— in a child’s imagination

B: Why does a child’s imagination turn brass orange?

A: The child has never seen brass, but the child does have a sense for what brass is, kinda generally, and so his imagination bronzes it

B: Bronzes the brass?

A: The brass is bronzed by the child’s imagination

B: Talking to you feels like passing a school of eels and neckties and their hybrid offspring through an eternal dishwasher: loading it up, running it, sitting near its quiet warmth during the dry cycle, unloading, beginning again with the fresh neckties and eels and their hybrid offspring, loading them in, draping them over the rack, pouring in the detergent, starting it up, sitting down, sliding over during the dry cycle, over and on and on and over again and on. Is what speaking with you today and most days feels like

A: Oh B, My dick is limpid

B: u mean limp?

A: No, limpid, which means “totally clear, un-dark”

B: it’s a bright cock?

A: Right, bright. Filled with natural light

Help Decks

There’s a problem in the garden partition; it’s not the stupid’s fault for being stupid. I don’t try too hard. Failure gathers in the bleaches of my belly. Sara, blending into the evening, marches along the low garden wall, worrying her outfit’s straps while she considers the problem… and Sara wants to know: What problem? And, actually, what partition? When you were with the woman who hired you to check out her typography (in a city, in a women’s room), it bleached me. I made a joke about a person who eats a dinner designed for an animal. “The omnivore’s dilemma: What if you ate Fancy Feast for dinner instead of all that old tuna salad?” I must have understood it as a joke because then I said, “Just kidding.”

TFP1

DARREN: My favorite kind of music is trust-fund punk.

KARREN: My favorite kind of tunnel is carpal. My favorite academic trend is the linguistic turn

DARREN: like in the 80s?

KARREN: yeah. I felt so good when scholarship took a linguistic turn

DARREN: One time you told me that you thought my blog was really well proofread

KARREN: it is!

DARREN: But I only thought, Ouch! faint praise!

KARREN: what’s faint about well proofed?

DARREN: i want it to be blazing and arresting, not clean

KARREN: well

DARREN: who will run the frog hospital?

KARREN: who will boost our followers?

DARREN: Steve Roeggenbuck will run the frog hospital

KARREN: we can’t name our son Ben Smith because he won’t be googleable

DARREN: I didn’t study search-engine optimization in college to help inform what we’re gonna name our son. anyway i thought we were gonna name him derrick?

KARREN:  like oil derrick?

DARREN: Like derek jeter?

KARREN: you’re embarrassing me. Have we gotten everything on our list?

DARREN: we still need salt-breath

[they turn down aisle 9, where the salt-breath is stocked]

DARREN: here’s the salt breath

KARREN [selecting a less-expensive brand]: let’s get this kind. that kind is eleven dollars!

DARREN: OK. I like this brand tho

KARREN: 11 dollars!

DARREN: OK, get the cheaper kind, but it’s not as salty. Or as breathy. It tastes like evaporated seaweed milk

KARREN: kan we talk about theater and radio and improvisation and the experience of reading plays or reading radio drama scripts

DARREN: darling i’d prefer not to in the supermarket. can it wait till we get home?

KARREN: I dunno. did you hear annie baker on WTF?

DARREN: yes. a fine reminder  that self-deprecation can sound 100 times more self-involved than self-aggrandizement

KARREN: or you mean that self-deprecation can just be another form of self-aggrandizement

DARREN: that’s a finer way to put it

KARREN: do we like these Deep Noodles?

DARREN: I’ve never tried them

[tosses the Deep Noodles with nonchalance into the brimming cart]

[a loud trust-fund punk song begins playing on the supermarket stereo]

KARREN: but Baker was sharp and charming in that interview

DARREN: i know. it was just when they were talking about the Pulitzer that it bummed me out

KARREN: what if I’m more interested in writing dialogue that’s read on the page than I am writing something that’ll be performed?

DARREN:  watching tv or film, the only time i’m conscious of the writing is after the fact. i only think “that was well written” once it’s over. as opposed to obviously reading a novel or a poem where every sentence is another opportunity to evaluate — and consciously appreciate — the writing

KARREN: sure because the writing is submerged in film or tv or theater — you have so much else to evaluate first — the performance, the images, the sound

DARREN: why don’t more people publish novels in dialogue?

KARREN: Because they have to feed their families.

[Throws a vegan suckling pig shrink-wrapped in hot-pink plastic into the cart, which buckles and implodes]

A: I HEAR YOU HAVE A BABY

F:  YERP

A: When you have a baby you don’t have time to do ANYTHING

F: That’s because babies take up so much time

A: I know

F: What is it that babies take so much time doing?

A: The babies are very busy, they are constantly reading dense texts and challenging your preconceived notions about things

F: Like what sorts of things?

A: Like … arbitrary–

A+F [in unison] …arbitrary taxonomies of genre!?!

F: Whoa.

A: Luv.

F: I’m bummed out again about how I don’t feel like I know how to make sense. Or, maybe, I hate making sense. Making nonsense is much more fun.

A: It’s hard to tell the difference between making nonsense is more fun in the way that smoking lots of pot and watching Adult Swim is more fun, or making nonsense is more fun in that you are an acolyte of Jarry and Ionesco and Stein and live your life in a radical subversion of standard bourgeoise modes of expression etc

F: I think I sometimes milk that ambiguity. Like I pretend to be a highbrow Dadaist when in fact I’m just waiting for the next fortnight of pajamas and Xavier Renegade Angel

A: Xavier Renegade Angel

F: But Xavier Renegade Angel is made by guys who split that difference. They’re students of Gordon Lish, they seem like they’ve done their homework, and they might have pretensions for their show to have a depth or at least a terminal bleakness that makes the comedy that much more “fucked up”

A: Did you ever check your email during the dark time of hospital visits and black veiled hospitalizations

F: There’s never been a time in my life when I haven’t checked my email every fifty minutes

A: remember when you first went camping and they explained what the trowel was for?

F: Yes. The trowel is for digging a little pit for you to shit into. Then you wipe with leaves, and bury your poo like a tiny funeral rite.

A: That’s a lot of work for a poo.

F: You’re not pooing so much in the forest. Maybe once a day if you’re lucky

A: Also not a lot of urgent emails to respond to in the woods.

F: Are you pining for the pines, blood?

A: The grass is always greener in the other bong. I had my dream job, and now I have my other dream job. Someday I won’t have any dream job and I’ll be shooting squirrels for sustenance

F: Shooting them with what?

A: An inherited crossbow.

F: Inherited from who?

A: A girl I met on the internet

F: Why did she leave you the crossbow in her will?

A: She said she liked my blog.

F: How did she die?

A: She faked her own suicide.

F: So she’s still alive?

A: No. She actually killed herself, but she didn’t mean it.

F: You know how if you commit suicide you don’t get in to harvard I mean heaven?

A: yes

F: that’d be funny if whoever the last person you slept with got to rewrite your will if you ended up killing yourself

club

—Really wish I was a peace activist right now.

—Why, for the tax breaks?

—Peace activists get special tax breaks?

—I thought they did. Maybe they don’t.

—I don’t think they do. I think the biggest perk to being a peace activist is occasional free lentil soup from potlucks.

—That sounds pretty yummy.

—It is! Garam masala and roasted carrots, yum.

—Yum!

—I know, so yummy.

—And all that shit is vegan.

—I know! Yum.

—Although can I make a confession the other day at Paul’s I had some of this frittata?

—Vegan police!

—So yummy though. The olives were from Israel.

—Yum.

—So should we talk about these poems?

—OK. Let’s start with yours.

—Oh no! [Laughter]

—Your poems are amazing.

—No they’re not.

—They are! They’re like Rilke.

—Shut up! I’ve actually never read Rilke.

—Read his poems. They’re amazing!

—I know OK!

—I have constructive criticism. All the raven imagery is bullshit.

—I know, I already cut those parts.

—Oh really OK well I don’t have any other comments actually so now let’s talk about mine.

—OK. My main thing was I don’t like poems about rape.

—Wait, did you get that my poem wasn’t about sexual assault?

—What?

—The poem is  about rape, or Brassica napus, a bright yellow flowering member of the family Brassicaceae (mustard or cabbage family).

—Fuck, I actually read the poem over the weekend at my mom’s cabin which doesn’t have internet so I couldn’t look it up!

—You couldn’t look it up on your phone?

—You’re right, I should have. I’m sorry.

[The oven’s electronic timer beeps, signaling the “ontological arrival” of the “popovers”]