Mar 27, 2008

you know when insomnia is cruel, like it is some organized sentience that has targeted you to focus cruelty upon?
that's what you apparently get at the crowne plaza bloomington outside minneapolis.
it felt like ontology itself was exacting vengeance upon me.


Mar 25, 2008

Another room. Oak dining table, flipped with effort on its side and pushed against the entry door. A tabletop corner deeply marred the parquet – too bad! The six black dining room chairs, flipped three upside down to mate seat-to-seat in neat pairs. Nestled them between the protruding table legs like players on a stage. And as mute as I am. Rolled up the rug -- how tatty the fringe is! A dulled diagonal stripe of wear across a corner from years of a room’s foot traffic. These details seem crucial, to note them. I should keep my mind sharp, though I cannot think of what to do with a sharp mind. Deduce things, dream of things, remember other places. Or even other people! It’s enough that someone wore the rug there. This will settle in my memory as the room with the worn rug. There was the one with the low floor and there was the classroom and the paint fumes room and now the worn rug. I hope I get a kitchen next so I can get something to eat. I must be famished although I don’t feel hungry in the slightest.

The first room
The second room
The third room
The fourth room
The fifth room
The sixth room
The seventh room
The eighth room
The ninth room

Mar 24, 2008

some words i've been meaning to look up


Mar 20, 2008

Ninth room – I smashed all the lamps and sat in darkness. Considered shouting, or shitting on the floor, but did neither.

The first room
The second room
The third room
The fourth room
The fifth room
The sixth room
The seventh room
The eighth room

Mar 19, 2008

Before entering the next room, the eighth, I decided I would absolutely own the room upon entering it. Had there been an audience (and I imagined there was, and played to them mawkishly, if not thoroughly) they might have leaned forward in their seats a bit with a faint smile crimping up one or both corners of their mouths, or looked briefly over at their companion as if to ask, “Can you believe this?” and touched them slightly on the arm. All at once, even in the motion of crossing the threshold, I was in the heart of the room rearranging things with a self-assuredness that only a resident could have. Not brash, mind you. I imagined I had been making preparations all day and was now putting final touches on what would be a social triumph. Someone not at all humble but in the minds of all others unanimously and unquestionably humble. Fooling them all, but not maliciously, nor in any patronizing way. A rug was shifted to make a pleasant, welcoming diagonal from the entrance; chairs moved to form an intimate circle; the phonograph (no CD player, how quaint!) made to emit low sonorous tones penned by an underrated foreigner. A good couple bottles of something were fetched from the cabinet as if I had known always that such things were there (despite the fact it’s not a proper cabinet for drinks to be put in, all the more stylish, actually). And glasses, five of them. If I so convincingly and charmingly prepared for guests, might this somehow summon them to arrive? Would I hear voices already laughing, steps already light, approaching the very door through which I had burst a short time ago?

Mar 18, 2008

Welcome to the seventh room. Surprisingly, it’s a classroom, with a chalkboard and everything. No chalk though, the ledge is sparkling clean, there’s only a long wooden pointer which a piece of chalk could fit into the tip of, but there’s no chalk. I already said that. Students would sit partnered at tables, upon which a neat stack of paper and two sharpened pencils lie. The light is as if there’s a window and mid-day light is streaming in but of course there are no windows. But this light almost makes one hear faint sounds of a nearby playground through the wall, and feel the anticipation of a bell. There’s an institutional clock high on the wall behind a cage but it’s stopped. The teacher’s desk has a brightly wrapped birthday present on it. Let’s see, what else? Immaculately waxed tile floor like the first day of school is tomorrow.

Mar 17, 2008

With the sixth room, the sense of an overall house or building dissipated for me. It was all just rooms. Probably the kinds of places one grew up in or had lived in would determine this, like if you grew up in an apartment building maybe it would all be just rooms by the third or fourth room, whereas if you grew up in a freestanding house you’d still be trying to fit them into the first floor and imagining that the kitchen should be next or visualizing what the overall shape of the house would be and the yard around it, the lot. The neighborhood. But in the sixth room, I let go of all that. It’s pleasant, you sort of step down into it, and one wall has an angled alcove with icons in it. Which is probably worth asking some questions about. Or scrutiny. But I didn’t think much on it. There will be a seventh room. My head’s a little foggy. At this point I piled pillows on the floor and flung myself down on them like a sultan. No one is watching me.
The fifth room, the grueling fifth room, had just been painted. That heady acrylic smell, a wall had been resurfaced with new drywall, and I was in this room the longest, long enough to get a terrific headache from the fumes, heaven help me. A close inspection of the corner revealed the freshness of the caulk. The bead had been evened out with a finger. I could see, here and there in the caulk’s tackiness, a worker’s partial fingerprint. But the odor made me hungry for green apples, how strange is that? Or green apple candy, the taste of it. Do you think, in the last room, that some traveler preceding me pinched the ten of clubs just to be a bastard? or that it had been intentionally removed but the designers of this wretched system? But then I’m assuming that scores of others have come through these rooms before me.

Mar 16, 2008

The fourth room is like the fourth of anything. At least some music is quietly playing. Or it was both times I was there, string quartets. That’s probably information out of turn, that I was through the room twice. It is inserted between later rooms, or at least was for me, or there was a replica. Anyhow it reappeared, but this wasn’t disorienting at the time, when it was my fourth room. Speaking of it possessively seems so ridiculous – my room. When I have nothing! But then, four rooms in, you know there will be no great revelations. There will be a fifth, and then others. Frankly, to my core I was thankful for the playing cards on the table. Already I was not so much asking questions of why certain things like playing cards might have been chosen to be in the room, I just started shuffling the cards. Or I knew, as I asked such questions, their futility. It took a while to find that the deck lacked the ten of clubs.

Mar 15, 2008

Once the third room is reached – and this is not so much a generalized take on it as my own – some anticipation has built for it, which is not so much met or disappointed as avoided almost entirely. I felt, myself, like a child upon entering the room and realizing my immediate impression of it, how far off it was from what I had applied intelligence to to predict or forsee. The bureaus seemed unnecessary, for one. Three of them pushed up next to each other, no one would do that. And the objects upon them indicative of a mature and confident individual living there, one who prepares thoroughly for life, to overcome all mundane possibilities in advance through this preparation, one who has been up for hours already before anyone else rises, unhurriedly rendering all reasonable contingencies impotent even before they could occur, so those contingencies would slink away like street cats. You see the strain it put on me, that I would say something facile like “like street cats.” But that’s an absolutely true conveyance of this room. You sit down and knock your heels lightly against the front of the seat and wait and maybe hum. Inaudible, to feel it vibrate in your chest. And that brass lamp.
The second room (or true first room, though I’ll not carry on with this hedging in the numbering, it’s the second room) is remarkably like the first. Smaller, but still open, nothing dramatic is different here. It’s kind of unnecessary, in retrospect. Generally one looks around several times upon entering, testing each object against those in the preceding room to figure the difference. But the difference is pocket change at best. Likely most everyone wonders why the second room is even separated from the first by a wall and not by pocket doors or even French doors or a curved archway. But it’s not the same room, that’s absolutely clear. One thing is the bowl of fruit, though it’s hard to imagine that’s perpetual, fruit goes bad fairly quickly and its consistent replenishment seems a bothersome chore or at least more trouble than the effect from the fruit’s presence might be worth. Already this is more words than need have been given to it. But the second room is hard to sum up, so such details seem important. Listen to me go on!

Mar 14, 2008

The first room is open and more or less empty. It’s meant to be interstitial, to be something that comes after whatever has come before, for whoever has come to this room. If one walks into the room laughing, one’s laugh tapers and smile evens to a flat expression. If one walks into the room infuriated, one’s anger subsides and one’s scowl ratchets down to the same flat expression. Within a few moments, one feels as if one has been in the room for hours. Colors have presumably been chosen to induce this, and those lights are probably placed to splay out on the colors in just the way that they do, and the anonymous fabrics. You can’t memorize them. The first room is interstitial, in addition to being meant to be so. Really it’s better described as the room between anywhere and the true first room.

Mar 10, 2008

daylight saving time is hard on night owls. this morning i was deeply dreaming something wherein i was responsible for a group of people -- some fictional or anyway unknown to me, some not, like iris and sadie and other people i know were there. the nature of my responsibility was not apparent to me. we were on some kind of a cable car suspended only about 5 feet above an even and vast desert, moving along at a pretty good clip. the cable car creaked and swayed a lot, everyone was crowded around the railing, and some people had styrofoam cups of soup from a central kiosk in the car with an undershirted chef in it but they were standing gingerly to not slosh hot soup upon their hands or clothes. it was very hot in the car but like it was over-heated to account for extreme cold outside the car. i remember the raised rivet heads along the joints of the car had been painted so many times thickly, it was put together like the staten island ferry, rivet heads bigger around than quarters, and the window glass was thumb-thick.

so each time my snooze alarm in reality went off i would lose a person, and we all knew the clock was ticking, it's a 5 minute cycle, and no one knew exactly who would be next each time. i was only partially able to choose who would have to go. i was trying to choose the unknown or fictional people, obviously. people were led off by somber officials who kept their eyes down to avoid me, but they could step out of the doorway onto the sand and not fall from the velocity change, and they would become instantly small and distant behind us as we hurried away. it seemed that there was an ample supply of these officials somehow in the car but i wasn't aware of them until they shouldered their way around someone to take the arms of the next person to go. i couldn't stop them but could feel myself weakly gesturing and wincing apologetically. it was uncomfortable being there in the car with everyone, we were silent other than the loud creaking of the car on the cable. and then the snooze alarm would go off and as i was in reality hitting the button the quiet officials came and took someone away, and then the creaking sound would reassert itself. i was running out of strangers to send off, and i was anticipating having to choose whether to send iris or sadie away first, but also concerned that my thinking about iris and sadie would cause them to be chosen next, before some of the strangers even. and then this was true. everyone stepped away from iris and she was suddenly very isolated in a corner of the car looking at me very scared, in her capri pants and a t-shirt with all these little alphabetical drawings of cats on it, and the two men stood on either side of her and she just slowly faded out and became transparent, and disappeared. the men lit cigarettes, i think, and seemed done.

i feel like the creaking and swaying from the cable car is in my hands. i keep flapping them to shake it out. typing this was hard to do.

Mar 6, 2008

notes toward a dice game

"6s, 7s, 8s, and 9s Are Wild”

Given the unwieldy name, it is considered appropriate for experienced players merely to call this game of manners “Sixes.” Novices still should use the entire name in order to avoid embarrassment.

SET UP: "6s, 7s, 8s, and 9s Are Wild" is played with two 6-sided dice. Each player takes turns rolling both dice simultaneously, generating a result. This act is called “taking a turn.” The result is a totaling of the two numbers showing on the top face of the dice. In the example below, the result would be 7 (1 + 6):

Cocked dice must be re-rolled. Depending upon a result and the player’s decision of what to do with it, a turn may consist of multiple consecutive rolls. It bears mentioning that a flat and balanced surface such as a tabletop or floor is necessary for fair and satisfactory play. Even between close friends, heated arguments over the result of a roll will inevitably come from playing upon uneven or tilted surfaces such as an unmade bed or airplane seat.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of "6s, 7s, 8s, and 9s Are Wild" is uncertain. Much has been published and distributed informally on this subject. Presumably a player strives to perform as many rolls of the dice as possible in a single turn. However, the number of rolls is neither tracked nor scored in any way. Categorically, even informal scoring is considered gauche. Even more curiously, the "best possible roll" (6 + 5, a.k.a. “Electric Elevens”) unfortunately results in the roller losing his or her turn. Of course, upon rolling Electric Elevens, one’s enthusiasm about rolling the “best possible roll” overcomes one’s disappointment in losing one’s turn. Given that rolls of 6, 7, 8, or 9 are wild, any of these rolls can be declared to be Electric Elevens, the "best possible roll," but this seldom happens. Wild rolls, as well as doubles (the same number appearing on the faces of both dice after a roll), give the roller another turn, so it can be argued that the best possible roll is actually a 6, 7, 8, 9, or any doubles. However, this is untrue. Only a "natural" roll of Electric Elevens (6+ 5 or 5 + 6) is truly the “best possible roll,” and in a way that no one should ask questions about. But this is something of a digression from the essential topic of the game’s objective.

Absent both a system of scoring and an endgame or decisive conclusion, "6s, 7s, 8s, and 9s Are Wild" may wholly lack an objective and, in this, not actually be a game at all. Despite this lack of an objective or plans to develop one, players seem to feel that an indeterminate sense of a deeply satisfying objective may arise or coalesce within one during extended play.

On Nines and the Possibility of Wildness

Obviously, the wildness of 6s, 7s, and 8s is straightforward. However, although the relationship between 9s and wildness – i.e. whether or not they are wild (and they are wild) – is known, there has been little in the way of field documentation on the subject. Consider this an effort at a brief reportage that is not intended to be comprehensive.

It has come to be known that 9s are wild in exactly the instances when 9s are not wild; and that in those exceptional cases when 9s are determined to be wild, they are in reality not wild. The expression to use in these periods of play is "not wild." Inversely, when 9s are wild, they are said to be wild and thus not wild, for when a 9 is not wild it has become the custom for all involved to behave exactly as if the 9 was not wild, i.e. nonchalantly and even carelessly.

A controversy has recently erupted over this between select initiates and experienced spectators who claim to have seen 9s, over the course of extended play "turn wild" or "go wild." Though the majority of these claimants are generally disreputable, unwashed cads, one former runner-up-to-the-champion (since retired) has stated in the gaming periodicals that he had perfected an art of concentration that enabled him to see non-wild 9s as wild during the course of play, giving him what was tantamount to a stranglehold on play. The result, unfortunately for him, was always a loss, but frequently its very circumstances reclassified the loss, rendering him victorious. (In that games are neither particularly "lost" or "won," there is a lot of play in the idea of whether this former runner-up-to-the-champion had developed anything at all, as must be allowed.)

Considering these vagaries it is hardly surprising that players consider the rolling of 9s to be somewhat rude of late. Rogue amateurs will still revel in a 9 as a goat might revel on an unmowed heath, but in professional and certain secret leagues and tourneys, disqualifications or sanctions have been at least discussed, and are occasionally implemented as sideways glances, subtle gestures incorporated into the raising of a drink to one's mouth, or inexplicable actions committed years after the playing of a particular game has been stopped.

It does not take a purist to recognize the indeterminate wildness of 9s as a point of destabilization that could collapse the entire game in upon itself, turning the honored Ring of Champions into a debtor's prison. But what choice is there but to press on?

Mar 2, 2008

cinema verite from iris

this was a rainy president's-day day off from school.
maybe iris shouldn't bother going to school anymore and should just be given manhattan studio space and a nice grant...

just after chocolate-chip pancakes at IHOP (1:09):

then just after that, getting color swatches (5:50):