Saturday, April 21, 2001

the lighthouse beakons yet again

[email composed 21 April 2001]

This afternoon as I walked out the side door of my apartment building and towards my car, I passed a woman asking if I had any change. She was Caucasian with blonde hair, wearing a black parka over her not-quite-overweight frame, and was ostensibly clean (and even seemed reasonably lucid).

I reached in my pocket and handed her a quarter.

She then told me that she had been accosted by a sword-wielding man down the block, who apparently felt this technique would be an effective way to get her to sleep with him. (He also drove a silver, older model BMW, which caused her to jump any time she noticed a shiny car drive by.)

"Hmm. Interesting," I commented, somewhat under my breath, refraining from asking what kind of sword it was (and possibly having to distinguish a sword from a mere dagger if it didn't prove long enough; she didn't seem to be concerned with semantics).

She inquired about my level of familiarity with criminal law regarding such matters, and I replied that I was reasonably sure that there was something in what he did upon which the police would frown.

She wondered if I was with the FBI--apparently she had acquaintances in the Bureau, some of whom flew helicopters, and she felt she needed to get ahold of someone who could do that--but I had to reveal I was not. Continuing her tale without any prompting from me, she told me of moving here from (I believe it was) Florida with an apparently crooked cop with whom she was sleeping (alas, his name has escaped my memory), and who stalked her in San Pedro. This officer, in her opinion, was of the belief that she was an alien. There was another person in law enforcement who was of the belief that both she and her former lover were aliens, but I didn't catch all of that since she related this part as we crossed the street.

I nodded.

When she asked if I thought she should report the man with the sword to the authorities, and I replied that it seemed not a bad idea. I directed her to the police station, one block down and one block over. She exclaimed she was going to do it and started walking determinedly in the direction I had indicated.

I wished her good luck. I didn't ask for my quarter back.


Yesterday as I entered the downtown L.A. train station, I passed a middle-aged Asian woman in a long coat, a pillbox-type hat on her head, and a large bag on her back. She stood very timidly next to a pillar in the walkway, and when she said something as I passed, I had to stop and step back and put my ear near her mouth to understand what she was asking. She wondered if I had a dollar to spare with sweet smile on her face. I reached in and fished a dollar from my wallet without removing it from my pocket, then handed it to her.

"Bless you," she said in appreciation.

"Live long and prosper," I replied, being the first thing that sprang to mind.

emanating the signal in spite of himself

"Our world is merely a practical joke of God."
- Franz Kafka

Sunday, April 15, 2001


[email composed 15 April 2001]

Some people have mentioned some disappointment that I did not send out a quaint little message explaining a little about the origins of recent events like Friday the 13th, Good Friday, or Easter (as I did with daylight savings time, April Fool's Day, and St. Valentine's Day).

It is at times like this that I am reminded why it is generally prudent to simply never do anything, as it only raises the expectations of others.

However, for what it's worth (off the top of my head), the Good Friday and Easter are Christian holidays, of course, with the modern observance of the latter having serious pagan overtones (but let's not get into that): they serve to grant schoolchildren and teachers a week off around this time of year, and are not as well-marketed (and therefore not as well acknowledged) as Christmas, and pretty much ensure that no one outside of the Jewish community even acknowledges Passover. If you do not know more about their significance, then you probably don't care.
Friday the 13th is also religious in nature (according to some), tying in with what inspired Good Friday and how many were present at a famous last meal. Not that any of this holds any significance with the general modern opinion of what it is, of course, but there is perhaps some solace to be found in knowing that even today, humanity still holds the same capacity for superstition and irrational thinking that it did thousands of years ago.

Enjoy, have a pleasant day, and try not to crucify anyone unless absolutely necessary.

monkey boy and occasional dispenser of inconsequential accuracy (or some modicum thereof)

Wednesday, April 04, 2001

I have no clever title at this time

[email composed 4 April 2001]

This morning on the train ride to work, an older Black gentleman got up and began speaking, "spreading the word of the Lord." This has happened perhaps two other times in the year-and-a-half since I started taking the train, which just goes to show how far mass transit in L.A. lags behind New York.

Now, I sat there with my headphones on, as I do every morning, following standard commuter etiquette: don't talk to anyone and don't make eye contact. It's anti-social and it works. However, as the man went on about how we need to be ashamed of our behavior and to abandon our wanton ways so we could avoid spending eternity in Hell. There was probably some allusion to Jesus in there. As he continued, I must admit I couldn't help but wonder why God couldn't find someone a bit more eloquent to speak for him. Or at least someone who didn't keep prompting us to "aks" for forgiveness. Perhaps beggars can't be choosers.

The man explained, showing amazing powers of persuasion, that "there is no playpen in Hell." Apparently, there is common belief that Hell is like the playground outside McDonalds. And frankly, this shows how little the man knows, because anyone who has ever spent time in the Playland has seen a little bit of Hell.

He noted that he had led an unholy life in his earlier days, but apparently he had seen the light, or hit rock bottom--who can tell?--and wanted all of us young people to avoid giving in to the temptations of the desires of the body. He figured it best to steer us clear of the delightfully pleasurable mistakes he had made in his days of naiveté and debauchery, saving us the trouble of having fun and having to repent later.

Eventually he reached his stop and exited, without (as far as I could tell) a single person on the car acknowledging his existence, proclaiming that Jesus loved us, and that he loved us. And the rest of us continued our journey to oblivion, otherwise known as the downtown L.A. station.

The thought occurred to me that I could follow this example and pass along some of my knowledge that could help others avoid some of the pratfalls of my past. Then it occurred to me that no one pays any attention to anything I say, and decided that you crazy hippies were on your own. Mistakes build character, or lead to litigation. Who am I to stand in the way of the natural process of life?

Sorry, friends: Jesus apparently loves you more than I do. See you all in Hell. (Better there than in Heaven with all the Born Agains.)

Sunday, April 01, 2001

happy new year (take that Pope Gregory!)

[email sent 1 April 2001]

All Fool's Day
"In sixteenth-century France, the start of the new year was observed on April first. It was celebrated in much the same way as it is today with parties and dancing into the late hours of the night. Then in 1562, Pope Gregory introduced a new calendar for the Christian world, and the new year fell on January first. There were some people, however, who hadn't heard or didn't believe the change in the date, so they continued to celebrate New Year's Day on April first. Others played tricks on them and called them "April fools." They sent them on a "fool's errand" or tried to make them believe that something false was true. In France today, April first is called "Poisson d'Avril." French children fool their friends by taping a paper fish to their friends' backs. When the "young fool" discovers this trick, the prankster yells "Poisson d’Avril!" (April Fish!)"

(source: U.S. Embassy Stockholm website. Honest.)