Saturday, December 23, 2006

Electric Ice in The Christmas Light

I love Christmastime. Animatronic penguins sing carols to me while I purchase sweet chocolate effigies of St. Nick. Oversized inflatable snowglobes whir on my neighbor's lawn under the off-white glow of electric icicles. It is cold outside, so cold that trees are carried indoors for the season, decorated and doted upon. People complain that the holiday season starts too early, and that gaudy winter decorations should not be seen in the month of November. I don't know what's wrong with these people. Although the swift post-turkey tinsel ornamentation of all your favorite department stores is always a surprise, some people want to limit the early emergence. I guess there's nobility in delaying that special Christmas spice, which is probably just cinnamon, until the days actually leading up to the 25th, but it is also a terribly grinchy notion, made by grinchy people.

Christmastime is a season which extends precisely from the day after Thanksgiving to New Years, and even that's a concession on my part. Ideally it starts mid-November. Thanksgiving doesn't have any mascots besides Pilgrims and dead turkeys, thus allowing Santa to participate in any seasonal branding that he wants. People complain about the commercialization of Christmas. These people are either religionistas, adamant about celebrating their ancient Roman feast in quiet peace, or they are rather normal people who do not enjoy loud robotic Santa Clausitrons ho ho hoing with infrared accuracy as they pay for their groceries. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, even if it's the wrong opinion. Santa Clausitron, I salute you.

It's the season of giving and twinkle lights. Family visits and nonsensical arguments. You wonder why old ladies, old relatives, enjoy pinching the cheeks of youths. This sounds like a fictional cliche, but I have had pinched cheeks. I imagine they're testing the stringiness of the children for some cannibalistic stew, like gently squeezing a tomato, or sniffing a melon. How quickly I move from Christmas to cannibalism.

But I can tie it back together. Snapping the neck of my chocolate Santa, which is disappointingly hollow, I eat the little man's head and crumple the foil into the smallest ball that I can, and in a sudden proud burst of innovation, flick it at my brother. I plan on eating many more Santas.

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


P1040894a, originally uploaded by mr.skeleton.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


P1040875a, originally uploaded by mr.skeleton.

Friday, December 15, 2006


P1040868a, originally uploaded by mr.skeleton.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Originally uploaded by mr.skeleton.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Christmas Donuts

I’ve always associated church with donuts because of Christmas, especially donuts in those pink boxes. Holy donuts! It’s almost a Pavlovian association I have between religion and pastries.

My family’s never been religious, but my mom was raised as a strict Catholic and felt some kind of obligation to instill that into my brother and me. So we literally went to church once a year. I don’t remember if it was exactly on Christmas day, or Eve, or when, but it was for Christmas. We stopped going while I was still single digits in age, so I can only remember it in the sugarhaze of youth.

Oh, there were identical twin nuns at that church. I do remember that. They weren’t very friendly. Maybe they were, I don’t know, but you can’t be five years old and not be afraid of twin nuns. The church was in a strip mall, which I now realize to be somewhat peculiar. And convenient! There was a McDonald’s just across the way.

In addition to consistent religion, my childhood also lacked donuts. I’m not sure why, my parents were not overly health-conscious, but I seriously considered Christmas Mass to be the one time of the year to get donuts. DOUGHHH NUUUTS! Freakin’ ambrosia to a clueless little kid. Almost literally food of the gods. They would have a table of the pink pastry boxes laid out in front of the church. I assume we indulged after mass, because you don’t want your congregation getting sticky fingers all over your pews, y’know.

I definitely assumed that all churches, if not all religious institutions, laid out boxes of pastries at appropriate times. That’s not a belief that held but I know I believed it. Why else would anyone go to church if not for the donuts? Christmas donuts.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A Brief Word On Bathroom Activities

I’ve observed an interesting behavior in the men’s restroom and I would love to share it with you. It’s the pee and brush. The pee and brush! A guy will start brushing his teeth, only to wander over to the urinal and suspend brushing, holding the brush in his mouth, to pursue other endeavors. Gentlemen, you are noble multi-taskers, but I am not fond of this. It isn’t even an issue of sanitation. I don’t care what people put in their mouth; I’m liberal like that. But each act is deserving of its own full attention, and you are haphazardly combining bathroom activities. I do not know why I care. What’s next, the shit’n’shave? Floss and shampoo? Please. It’s terrible. Are people really that busy?

The noncommittal nature of the urinal surely makes men more prone to this particular combination of activities than women. But I do not doubt the presence of feminine pee’n’brushers. Frankly, there are many activities which hold potential for combinations, but I will leave the frightening permutations to your silent imagination.

Can you believe that the campus literary journals reject me?

And I really enjoy any bathroom mechanisms that function on motion detectors, especially when the sensors are a little faulty. It's not just the post-future George Jetson Flushotron appeal, it's because I get to give them a friendly wave. Hello Mr. Paper Towel Dispenser! I say as I wave hello. Goodbye Monsieur Urinal! It’s like befriending porcelain robots.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Dickens, War, and Mexico

America, I can assure you, your international borders are secure against the illiterate. Or, at least against travelers who know nothing of Victorian literature.

Explain? Yes, I will explain. That's why I'm here.

I was visiting family south of the border, in Rosarito, Mexico, one Saturday evening. (Mexican? I did not know he was Mexican, you say to yourself. Clearly you’ve never seen my sombrero or my agile janitorial skills). As most family gatherings are, it was thrilling. Cake was served, leis were provided. Excuse me for forgoing the specific details of those proceedings, for it is not my focus here.

Jump to midnight or so, when I was in a car with my mother and brother, waiting at the border crossing for quite a while. We reached the crossing, where you are briefly questioned by a police-like agent. Our agent was a nice gentleman, wholly dedicated to his job and his moustache. Have you ever watched a comedy show called Reno 911? No matter. I love that show.

So the agent asked for our passports, which we didn't have because were just popping into Meh-hee-ko for a day. Whatever. We gave him our IDs.

He proceeded to ask me where I was born. "San Diegoooo," I bragged, for some reason. And he asked my brother who the first president was. Were we bringing anything back with us?, he asked. Yes, my mother told him. We had some leftover food from the party in the trunk. So we popped the trunk. I don't know what he did back there, but I assume he tested our chicken leg for avian flu and terrorism. And he apparently saw the Stanford sticker on the rear windshield, meticulous inspector that he was.

"Which one of you goes to Stanford?"
"That's me."
"What's your major?"
I wasn't sure if this was some kind of test to verify my authentic American flavor, or if it was just idle chitchat. "English."
"Who's your favorite author?"

Jesus. He wore a very stern face. He seemed to think that studying at Stanford was a guise to sneak fried chicken into his beautiful country. I wasn't sure who to say. I said Charles Dickens because at the time, I was versed in Dickens like a muthafucka. As they say.

"What do you think of Bleak House?"

Well. I still didn't understand his goal with these questions, but I wasn't annoyed. "It's pretty good." I hesitated when I answered, because I wanted to explain that actually, it's good and complex and all that, but when you study Dickens for ten weeks, his books become methodic. Bleak House is like a second draft of Oliver Twist. But don't quote me on that. Anyway, he wasn't done with his literary quiz.

"What about Great Expectations?"
He was smug with that question, as if it would stump me. Great whatspectations? Come on. Many more people read Great Expectations than Bleak House. His questions were declining in difficulty.
"It's also very good. But I think I prefer Bleak House." He was satisfied with that.

"Next time, bring your passports."
"Is that the law?" my mother asked.
"There's a war going on. That CHANGES EVERYTHING."
Oki dokie smokey. That's means it's not the law. Which war, anyway? On terror? On drugs? On family values? On Christmas? Not sure.

Anyway, you don't need to carry your passport if you know your Dickens.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

cows and flaming helmets

you know, these are my two most-viewed photos? one:

and two:





Wednesday, November 29, 2006


the fountains flow with kool aid

Monday, November 27, 2006

I have a problem.

It isn’t a large problem. It’s sort of a caffeine problem. I don’t even drink coffee, not really, and that would be preferable, because coffee is cheap and available. Unfortunately I only consume the more foo foo drinks, as they say. Foo foo is shorthand, I believe, for fooking fooking expensive. Three earth dollars doesn’t seem like much for your caffe mocha, your sweet sweet mocha, but when it becomes a necessary habit, a habit that repeats everyday, and multiple times per day, you begin to remember that there are starving orphans who would kill smaller orphans for a sip of a latte. Orphans love lattes. I’ve spent one billion dollars on espresso-based drinks this quarter. That is a verifiable, wikiable fact. I drank more money than John Hennessy raised for, you know, whatever he was raising money for.

In recent times, far removed from campus, I was presented with the significant realization that my parents’ house does not host a Moonbean’s or a Peet’s. There is a nearby Starbucks… and I went twice that week, but there was no immediate source of cardboard-held warm drinks. But, I had Mountain Dew. The hardest of the soft drinks. Besides the sugar and caffeine, I love bright colors. Like a bumblebee, or a certain kind of stoner.

Every morning I would pour a glass of the Dew. I held the glass of uranium-green juice and sipped it with the withdrawn satisfaction of an old man, rattling the ice in his liquor and watching a dying fire, trying to remember when he felt that warmth naturally. So sweet, but that is all.

Anyway, I’m thirsty.

Oh, also, rain screws with me because I can’t sit and drink my Moonbean’s. Damn rain. Too wet for its own good. I don't like its attitude.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Originally uploaded by mr.skeleton.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Monday, November 13, 2006



red cups

They have red cups at Starbucks now. That didn't make my day, not at all. My day hasn't been made and I await its being made. But, red cups, that's nice.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Fall of Man

Roughly a week ago I awoke with a stifling sense of dread. The day held possibilities of something terrible happening in the cold sunshine and it took me some time to rise from bed. Gee, I thought. Gee golly. Gee golly whiz.

I looked out the window at Hoover Tower as I checked my email and thought of the earthquakes and lightening strikes that could bring it down before the end of the day. The bells would be ringing as it fell. People would grab the bricks and stones as souvenirs and mount them on commemorative plaques to be displayed on their mantel at the world’s end.

But the morning went off without a hitch. Totally hitchless. My pre-lecture mocha was satisfying and sweet, class was adequately stimulating, and the sun kept shining. I didn’t trip and fall down the three flights of cement stairs that I skip down every morning, and I didn’t get hit by a wayward Marguerite, and I did not cross paths with any disgruntled postal workers. But something was going to happen.

I ran into a friend at lunch and warned her. “Something is in the air,” I said. “Something bad.”
“This black bean sauce isn’t very good,” she said.
“It is very dark.”
“Would you think less of me if I went back and got a different salad?” she asked.
“No. Exchange your salad freely.” It may be the last salad you eat for some time, I thought, after the bombs fall and nuclear winter sets in. They don’t have salad in the mine shafts. Not even black bean salad.

I survived the brief walk to my dorm, and with no more classes to go to, decided to do some laundry. Mondays are good days for laundry. With my various sartorial haberdasheries and whatnots gathered up and ready for a wash, I descended down, down into the cold hollows of the dormitorium, to the rumbling machinery of mountain fresh scents and forgotten socks. Into the wide mouth of a washer I loaded my belongings and shut it forcefully. I stepped over to seek out my detergent---the blue jug clearly labeled ‘ANDY!’--- and grabbed the smooth plastic. To my horror, the bottle was empty. Oh! Empty! Emptied like my soul!

I ran as quickly as my legs would allow. I ran out of the dormitorium, into the air, into the light, and collapsed upon the dirt with that horrendous building to my back, with that horridly empty bottle mocking my laundry. I lay there for some time; I cannot offer estimates. My very bones struggled to maintain solidity and my soul was all but razed from the unending chugguda chugguda of the washing-ma-trons and drier-ma-jigs. And, slowly, gradually, the sound fell to a creep, and ceased. But still I could not rise.

Oh cursed man! I had left the bottle nearly full. Earlier it had been slightly diminished by minor public usage, but I had placed my trust in humanity not to use the ‘ANDY!’ bottle to excess. A single week alone in the laundry room left my detergent dead. A single empty bottle and my faith in humanity is gone, along with a fresh pine scent.

I now warn you, detergent stealers, beware of things to come. In a pinch, I would have contributed my detergent freely, but you were not in a pinch. Now I have a little village of voodoo dolls and witchy spells that I learned from the Pizza My Heart high school kids, the circuit egg worshippers, which I will imminently put to use. So beware.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Saturday, October 28, 2006

There's a hole in my shoe.

There is a hole in my shoe. A little speck of nothing, really. Just a small window to my toe, a couple millimeters across. But one must stop and reflect upon the appearance of a hole in a shoe. What does it mean? Why has this happened only to my right shoe? Is the left the better shoe? What portent does this hole hold?

I could make simple jokes about having a hole in my soul and trying to patch it, but that's silly. That is silly and there is nothing silly about having a vacuous space in the lining of my shoe.

I cannot recall ever developing a literal air-breathing hole in a shoe before. While I do not doubt that my toe, the big toe, appreciates its new vantage point and looks eagerly forward to viewing the world, I really must consider the ramifications of the hole.

I have never developed a shoe hole because I have always replaced my shoes on a regular, unwritten basis. As a child, your shoes are replaced by your caregivers as your feet grow. Kid feet grow like sunflowers under California skies, by which I mean to say, they grow at a significant rate. I've planted sunflowers before, and I've grown feet before, so I consider myself an expert on both subjects. Of course, little feet cease to be little and cease to grow, stabilizing at a solid 8.5 shoe size. They are not expansive feet, but they are good feet. They have carried me well.

I've been wearing the same sized shoes for years, of course. But I don't I had noticed that I’d stopped growing until I realized that I had been wearing the same shoes for a while, and found a hole. I guess I'm done growing. Stick a fork in me. I know, my feet have their unique personalities, and these personalities never cease their growth at any point in life. You bet.

I hear Kevin's reflective voice from the 'Wonder Years' as I write this. That was a good show.

That would be a good stopping point, but I simply must mention the additional possibility that I am a trendsetter, and that hobo chic will be a fashion trend which we will all soon embrace. We will carry bundles on long sticks like the rail-riding hobos of yore. We will wear numerous winter coats in the blistering sun. Prada will manufacture designer platinum shopping karts and the highest socialites will be seen wearing strapless burlap sacks. You will see, you shall see.



Monday, October 23, 2006

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Monday, October 16, 2006

Mister Flannel McNewspaper

Who are you, Mister Flannel McNewspaper?

Your bald head shines under the weak spotlight. You’re enjoying the Stanford Daily, as we all should, with regularity. Like fiber in a diet. World events come alive when written by an undeclared sophomore. They do, they do. The crucial issues of the day, of the campus, of the quad. No bikes there and no GERs there. Tangled reverberations of choppy news on floppy paper! Of IHUM and Nobel! Polisci children will save the world in a hundred words! And the temptress Sudoku! Oh! If only I understood the cruel number game. Cross words! Weave your vocabulary!

Oh Flannel man with windshield glasses, you read the sports section! Footballs and running! Mascots! Not the bird, not the bird, but the color! There was a time when they were Indians, my friend, big chiefs on the plains. Tomahawk chop, they don’t mind, they make the money with lucky sevens. But someone did mind!

How did they learn to eat the acorns? The poison acorns! So much work. I wonder at it.

Oh! No! Mister Flannel McNewspaper! You leave, you left. You’re off to see the world. To Tressex! Or a Jamba delight! Turbo boosts in your banana berry smoothie. An extra boost for you, my friend. To Subway! Long bread and meats, and the smell with it! Subway sandwiches, the most consistent odor, around the world. Sandwich artists! Draw me a meal! Paint me a coke! Mr. Flannel, are you commissioning an artist? Pop art with pickles!

You are no student! No TA or prof! Are you an alum? A straggling alum? Leave! The good days, the old days, when you were young and covered in less flannel, when the golf karts had horses and the burros roamed free, when the net caught only fish, when Father Serra founded Old Union, when you saw them building of stucco and steel, are gone, and you with them, but in another five the tents will go up and the wine will pour again.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

These Times Are Hard Time

Ah, to be an over-educated unskilled individual on career day. It’s bleak out there, folks, bleak. I study English, you know that? Books and stories and poems. Poems! A poem! A poem! My undergraduate career for a poem. It’s a good major, it is. I write papers about how I feel. I write my opinion. This was a good story. The author did this to accomplish that and reiterate the other. The punctuation was superb. The cover of the book was evocative and the binding was solid.

Maybe that’s not quite how it goes, but there is a drift, and you get the drift. The English major is one in which you participate in much nebulous thinking. Like I said, it’s pretty great, if that’s your thing. Some people are really smart with that stuff, you bet. Analyzing the written form of human expression. Of course, the creative writing focus is even better than straight literature. You make stuff up and get credit for it. Turns out it really isn’t that easy to make things up if you want to produce something decent, and most people aren’t too great at it. Even so, you can’t beat that.

I went up to a guy from Pixar and asked him what sort of opportunities they had for a liberal arts major. He just sort of moved his head slowly back and forth to communicate his disinterest in my profound abilities. I think if I stayed any longer he would have euthanized me. Besides, all they had were free stickers. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune to get free stickers, well, whatever.

But I have no regrets. No real anecdotes, and no regrets. Actually I have an immense number of regrets, but not the English thing. This above all: to thine ownself be true.

Three Shakespeare quotes and a Charles Dickens reference! Sigh.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Sunday Afternoon On the Island of Stanford


P1040477a P1040473a

P1040474a P1040469a


I thought I’d make a brief elucidative statement. I’m always writing about the coffee shop. Why am I always writing about the coffee shop? The coffee shop, or coffee house, or whatever, refers to a few different places where I go to work. ‘Work’ means a few different things as an English major, but it’s never very serious work. Anyway, I work, and work, and stuff, and I get bored and take a break by writing to you, right here. So I watch the people and complain about them, and then try to work again. It’s the circle of life.

Saturday, October 07, 2006


Originally uploaded by mr.skeleton.

"The tower of the old neighboring abbey watched over the café like an aged man who had lived in darker times and wished you to appreciate what you had."

"He looked upon the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Pres and imagined it crumbling. It began with a slow rumble. At first only small animals would hear it; birds would fly and cats would stand erect with their ears sharply upwards, and their eyes opened to spheres. Dogs would bark. Then the sound would be like rushing water in the distance. It would grow to be terrible and revolting, and it would be felt. Cracks would form in the old stone. Dust would fall slowly in the air and hold the light like good clouds at dusk. The sound would grow still and would become motion and the highest walls would begin their descent. It is strange to see a tall building fall to the ground, he thought. When the largest bits of wall and roof finally are alone in the air, going downwards, they make no sound. There is a moment of silence as it all sails to the ground, and then it returns with an explosion of dust and wood. The tower would be last. It is a good tower, he thought, made to stand for a very long time. It would be the last to fall."

from, like, the thing i'm working on

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Within the Depths of the CoHo

This isn’t going to be insightful, interesting, funny, witty, or literary. And this isn’t a repeat of my previous note, because that was off campus.

The Stanford Coffee House, or, Coho, disappoints me. I’m there most nights. I’m the one looking disappointed. I'm the one writing notes about you.

The awkward tables look like they were pillaged from a sunken 17th century barge and coated with 300 layers of cheap lacquer for a smooth, smooth, finish. Seriously. It feels like you just might be having a cup of coffee on the same exact table where Blackbeard ate his salted meats and bread. Seriously. I was going to say something like, where Blackbeard sodomized his parrot, to really provoke you, but you’d probably not believe that. You might check Wikipedia anyway to prove me wrong. My mind wanders. Polly wants a cracker. Don’t misinterpret Polly. The legs of the tables, additionally, are taken from the masts of the said pirate ship, each being no less than a foot in diameter. There may be no room for your own legs, but goddamn, those tables are solid.

To emphasize the pirate motif, the Coho is dimly lit like the lower decks of a wooden ship. It isn’t absurd. It is sensible lighting, I guess. The kids prefer it. It makes me a little sleepy. They should add hammocks like a proper galleon.

And there is the general lack of outlets. Besides that kitchen counter balustrade of laptops at the back entrance, electricity is scarce. Pirates didn’t have outlets, you might be thinking, so why should we? You’re right. At least they are consistent.

I suppose my next concern is probably specific to my idiosyncrasies. I hate the fact that there is no where to sit and see both entrances at the same time, or even see the majority of the room. This drives me crazy. I have a proclivity for corners and feel most settled with my back to a wall, but this establishment is shaped like a horse shoe, for the sole purpose of irritating me. Maybe it's a vestigial caveman instinct, so to speak. I just don't want to be eaten by a saber-fuckin-toothed cat. I have my problems.

There are people who go to the library to work. There are people who stay in their rooms. There are the Coho people, who actively put themselves in a situation full of distractions (and saber toothed cats?) and try to get work done. Is it really the draw of white noise? Is it simply to be seen and to see? I’m not sure.

You know that Seinfeld episode where George watches Home Alone (and cries at the part with the old man) at Jerry’s apartment just so that he’s doing something “out of the house”? That has nothing to do with the plot of the show, but yeah man. You know. Out of the house.


Originally uploaded by mr.skeleton.

Originally uploaded by mr.skeleton.

Monday, October 02, 2006


Originally uploaded by mr.skeleton.


Sunday, October 01, 2006

personal advice to you specifically

People are too fit around here, on this campus. That really shouldn’t be. This is a demanding, prestigious, cushy school; most of us have worked hard to get here, and most of us continue to work hard mentally so that we don’t have to physically. No manual labor for us! This has been a battle cry for the upper tier of society for the past 10,000 years, and has been the driving force of civilization. Let’s review, briefly, the arrival of man on the natural scene and his eventual destination of us. A while back, we were done fighting baboons for goat innards and berries, so abracadabra, dumb mammals become our close personal friends--- or something, I don’t know--- and then they were domesticated. Our fields were ripe with wheat. We won the war on wheat. Agriculture gave us the free time to do other stuff, like art, science, Facebook, writing, math. Thinking. The birth of civilization. The rising sun of humanity. We learned to love each other and hate each other more, and we rose from a physical existence to a mental one. The best of us, with luck and opportunity, came to devote ourselves to learning, completely removed from physical labor. We win the war on labor.

And now, in these days of high definition broadband wi-fi cellular nicknackery, in these days of nine to five and four by four and twenty four seven, in these days of the year two thousand and six, anno domini, ladies and gentlemen of this respected institution, you are going against the last 10,000 years of human progression by staying in shape! We’ve been working so long for so hard so that you don’t have to outrun the beasties and hunt the bulls. By all logic, with your dining halls and fancy coffees, with your IKEA futons and second-hand bean bag chairs, with your never-ending dining plans and open kitchens, you should be on the verge of obesity. But only the verge. I tell you here, let yourselves go, let yourselves grow. Have you seen what Henry VIII looked like? He looked like a big fucking success and he showed it. Wear your success like a badge, or like… an extra layer of skin. Stop your exercise. Stop going to the gym. Stop making me look like the underdeveloped pencil boy that I am. I’m not sour. I’m just plotting my dominance by slowly orchestrating the demise of The Fit. It’s a passive approach, because obviously, I’m too lazy to exercise.


Originally uploaded by mr.skeleton.


the end of something.