Monday, August 29, 2005

Edinburgh Now

Last weekend was spent visiting my good friend The Suk in Edinburgh, Scotland.

While much has changed since my first visit to Edinburgh, some things have definitely remained the same. Namely, that Scotland is home to some of the shittiest weather on the planet.

Now, I know we are all prone to putting a few positive spins on life’s misfortunes every now and again in order to make ourselves more comfortable with the things we cannot change. Say for example we discover a bit of grey hair, we declare it “A sign of being distinguished”. A little extra something around the booty we call “A little cushion for the pushin’”. Get peppered with bullets by your own troops, “Friendly fire”. Fair enough, we are all guilty of employing a few irrational rationalizations and words to lessen the blow of some of life’s less pleasant sucker punches.

However, when it comes to describing the weather in Scotland, I think my friend The Suk and his Scottish co-habitants have lost their euphemistic minds.

Case in point…

Saturday around 1pm, we left The Suk’s apartment to embark upon of day and night of festival shows and site seeing. As soon as I stepped outside his apartment, I immediately realized that my long-sleeve shirt and long pants weren’t going to be enough to battle the wind and cold so I quickly returned inside to grab more clothes.

As I reemerged, wearing a wool sweater (opting not to bring my rain jacket purely out of principle…it is August after all), The Suk followed closely behind wearing what can only be described as a very stylish ski jacket. Upon noticing the weather, The Suk declared, “Nice day. No need to take a cab. Let’s walk.”

It was about this time that I realized that Jon had ceased being a tourist and was now a bona fide local Edinburger.

This realization was further reinforced throughout the day as Jon deftly navigated us through the city while providing keen local insights such as, “See that puddle of puke on the sidewalk? You’ll want to avoid stepping in it.”

Actually, Jon has become quite a local and, throughout the entire weekend, managed to provide us with endless anecdotes about Edinburgh’s history and contemporary culture. The Suk could go on and on about the city’s academic legacy which features the likes of Darwin. He could ramble endlessly about Edinburgh’s literary triumphs such as Robert Burns, Dr. Jeckle & Mr. Hyde and Harry Potter. He could speak at great length about the city’s biotechnical breakthroughs like the cloned sheep Dolly. Yes, The Suk has indeed become a true Edinburgian and can go on an on about the city…whether you’re interested or not.

The locals call it the ‘gift of gab’ - a unique trait that when taken too far, makes you want to introduce the perpetrator to the ‘gift of gag’.

Of course I jest. The Suk and his girlfriend Cat were wonderful, insightful and not the least bit annoying hosts. To be honest, The Suk, being the intellectual giant that he his, has long realized that going too deep into anything with me is a lost cause and, instead, now opts to navigate across more pedestrian territories such as football, films, and where we’re going to get the next glass of wine.

Nevertheless, in his endless (albeit vain) quest to culture me, The Suk arranged for a full weekend of diverse and entertaining festival activities. For those of you not familiar with the Edinburgh Festival, it’s a month-long collection of different festivals all happening at the same time. The main ones being - a comedy festival called The Fringe, a book festival, a film festival, and a theatre festival. There are so many festival activities going on at one time, we estimated that there are more than 20 shows starting every ten minutes on any given day.

While the shows are the main draw, the city is also quite a spectacle. During the month of festivities, the entire city becomes enchanted - the streets fill with performers, musicians, magicians, fortunetellers, and drunk English guys wearing white button-up long-sleeve shirts that they keep un-tucked as if they’re attempting one last gesture of defiance at their high school headmaster.

The key to enjoying the festival is knowing what to see and what to avoid. Because there are so many shows going on (each of which is promoted like it’s the next Hamlet) it’s extremely important to be able to decipher the good from the “Holy shit that was weird. I think I need to see a therapist.”

Last year we were festival rookies, and although we saw some gems, we also saw some serious turd balls. None worse than the one-man play that featured a guy playing Kirk Kobain, Courtney Love, as well as their infant child Francis Bean. Truly shocking.

Navigating the festival’s offering can best be compared to navigating the World Wide Web - for every Tommy and Pamala Lee video, you’ve got a fat bearded guy whacking off.

Fortunately this year The Suk did his homework and acted as our festival Google. Through some secret mathematical algorithm and a bit of fairy dust, The Suk was able to determine the best tickets to buy.

When I arrived Friday night, we went to a midnight comedy show called ‘The Best of the Fest’. It featured six different stand-up acts that had all been deemed…er…the best of the festival.

Saturday was our big festival day, The Suk had lined us up with three great shows. The first of which took place in the basement of a medieval church. It was a multi-media show that can best be described as a cross between a Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy sketch. It was a vaudeville style show performed with deft skill by two US actors who, like Chaplin, mixed slapstick humor with sweet delicate moments.

After the first show, we had about an hour to walk around the city. As we walked through the old parts of town I couldn’t help but notice the ominous dark clouds forming overhead and begun wishing I had brought my rain jacket. The Suk, upon noticing the same clouds, said, “Ahh, looks like a nice thick layer of UV protection is making its way our direction.”

The second show was simply amazing. Amazing in the way I’d imagine the birth of my first child to be amazing. Amazing in the way realizing you’re falling in love is amazing. Amazing in that it was simultaneously inspiring, moving, and frightening to be so moved.

The show’s billing sounded rather innocuous: “Shane L. Koyczan - A national champion slam poet from Canada”.

As a big fan of the movie Slam and having recently seen Saul Williams perform his slam poetry live, I harbored the narrow-minded view that slam poetry, like rap music, was reserved for the urban-strife black folks of inner city America. Of course, I was just being a big idiot - slam poetry has long been an expression of all races, colors, classes, and religions…but Canadians? To be honest, going into this show, I was like, “I gotta see this shit and imagined something along the lines of ’Oh moose, oh great beast, with your antlers ragged and stern like a thousand erections. How dare they hang your heads on the wall?’”

But when the festival host introduced the poet by quoting Maya Angelo who had said, in reference to Koyczan, “The future of poetry is in good hands.” I started to get the idea that I was going to be pleasantly surprised.

Surprised I was. Moved to tears I was. Stitched in laughter I was. Inspired I was.

Below is a love poem from Koyczan’s, one of the shorter pieces he performed. Imagine these being passionately and honestly recited by a substantially overweight yet thoroughly self-confident, charming and intelligent white guy in his late 20’s.

Skin 2

I don’t imagine you
saran-wrapped in black latex
or seeping out the edges
of something tight and red

I don’t close my eyes
to dream of your back
arched at the impossible angle
of a bow pulled tight
encouraging your shoulder blades
to drip the blood
of stockpiled broken hearts
but I hope the sound
of you not shielding your eyes
from my blinding humility
will one day top the charts

it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard
and you’re the Charlie Chaplin of your beautifuls
because you make me believe it
when you say it all without saying a word

looking at you it occurred to me
I could sit around all day
Wearing nothing but your kiss

you make mirrors
want to grind themselves
back down into sand
because they can’t do your reflection justice

and this just in
I am done with those
who in life would have made me fight
an army of imperfections
a battalion of flaws
tonight we’re going to keep this city up
when they hear our bodies
clap together like applause

After the show we made our way across the city for some dinner and drinks. At this point the skies looked as though they would rain down upon us at any moment. While I was kicking myself again for not bringing a rain jacket, Jon casually said, “Looks like we might get a chance to soak up a little atmosphere this evening.”

Our third and final show of the day began at midnight and took place in a famous and elaborate circus tent that travels the world from festival to festival. The show was called Le Clique. It was a burlesque show, not too unlike a raunchy version of Cirque de soleil that featured everything from a beer chugging, scissor swallowing diva, to a belly dancing cross-dresser, to a pair of acrobatic albino twins, to a sexy Spanish magician who pulled a hanky out of her pink panky. It was fantastically awesome! The perfect capper to the perfect day.

The following Sunday was spent sleeping in and casually touring the city through gale-force winds and rain, or what The Suk and other locals referred to as, “A breath of fresh air.”

The lazy day provided ample time to catch up with a dear old friend. Although The Suk and I see each other less and less these days, it never ceases to amaze me how easily we can slip back into the casual comfort of friendship. It’s a feeling I can best associate with being around my brothers, which is probably a fitting comparison – The Suk has indeed become like family. And it brings me pure familial pleasure to see The Suk at such peace with his life these days.

Until the next time brotha...

(Shane L. Koyczan’s “Skin 2” and other poems can be found in his book Visiting Hours,

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Edinburgh Then

Tomorrow I fly to Edinburgh to visit my good friend The Suk. The upcoming visit conjures up memories of my first trip to Edinburgh two and a half years ago. At the time, The Suk was making arrangements for his move from Amsterdam to Edinburgh to pursue a masters degree in Biotechnology Ethics and Policy. My brother Gee was also contemplating a move to Edinburgh to get his masters in Literature. The Suk, Gee, my friend Sean and I went to Edinburgh together for two days of research, whiskey and bonding. Jon took some pictures during the trip, which remain some of my favorites from my entire time in Europe. In these pictures lie all the emotions of that time: adventure, freedom, possibility, brotherhood, melancholy, homesickness. Or maybe I just like them because they're black and white and look a bit like an 80's album cover.

See you soon Suk.

Happy Birthday to D (and me)

This week I celebrated my birthday along with my good friend D. D and I share the same birthday, August 22. We’re both Leo’s through and through - stubborn, explosive, obsessive, cuddly. It was at D’s birthday party four years ago that we first met. Since then a great friendship has been forged out of fun and tears. In the long list of people and things that I will miss when I leave Amsterdam, D sits at the top. Below is a story I wrote for D for her birthday last year. It was during a time when both D and I were in the midst of difficult relationships. D was in the process of letting go. I was holding on for dear life. This is my ode to D and to the difficult situations we faced.


I wanted to get you something special for your birthday this year. Something different. Something a bit like yourself. Something you can’t gift-wrap or find in a display case in some exotic market. Not even in Nepal. Not even in Ikea. Something unreturnable, non-disposable, or redeemable at any major retail outlet. A magic trick perhaps. Or a special power. Like the ability to bend a spoon from across the room with only a furrowed brow and a bit of grit. That would be a befitting gift for you.

How about a small token of time? An extra 22 minutes every day, only for you. Time to do anything you want, even nothing if that’s what you want. Or a story? Yes, a story! That’s what I want to give you. To be honest, that’s all I really can afford, anything else would be too cheap.

A story.

A story about…

Where to start? Where do you begin a story for someone who’s heard the sound of a flower drinking water from a glass and understood enough not to ask how or why? Where on earth do you start? What word is fit to begin this story? A story for you, the conjurer of a thousand words and a thousand feelings with a simple brush of blonde hairs on a slim pale canvas. ‘Gift’. A nice word but not the one. So where to begin?

A girl in a tree.

As good a starting place as any I suppose. Ok by you? Not that that matters now.

See this girl in the tree. Tall but not too tall, with long limbs, the kind that are good for climbing. She climbs and clambers on these limbs, careful not to fall but not too careful not to climb as high as she needs. She is a girl after all. For years she has been playing in this tree with only her imagination and the sound of the wind and leaves to accompany her. For years she has been climbing. As the tree grows, so she goes.

Now imagine her for a second resting on a branch.

She’s lying across a big thick branch. She is lost in thought. Or she’s lost in the tree’s thoughts. It doesn’t really matter. But see her there, on the branch. Her hand is rubbing along the branch, feeling the branch’s hard skin and knots of wooden tension. Signs of growth are everywhere. She feels her own skin – it is smooth and soft.

She doesn’t think to ask the tree if it was painful to acquire such knots. She knows enough not to pry into matters that she cannot reverse. She just likes the feel of them, the texture of strength forged with time and experience - and a little pain she reckons.

A tree’s growth is measured in rings. A girl’s is not. At least not our girl’s.

And now for the story. Sorry it took so long to get here but this is the sort of girl one can get caught up with – ‘lost in’ so to speak. The sort of girl upon which gazes linger and men are reminded of all the things they forgot to say. The kind of girl you like to hang with.

The story begins on her birthday. Not sure which one - something between the age of possibility and decision, closer to tree houses than tree forts. On this day several birds arrive to feed and rest on the tree. These are not the first birds to come and indulge in the tree’s delicious apples.

In the winter there are less birds. In the winter it’s just the girl and the tree. Even the wind is absent without the leaves to talk to. Our girl likes the winter - no more than any other season - she just likes its silent concentration and bold vulnerability. That’s the kind of girl she is – the liker of things, the seer of beauty in everything.

But it’s not winter. It’s summer and the birds have long since returned from sipping Mai Thai’s along sandy southern beaches. Hungry and tired from the journey they arrive at the tree for rest and nourishment.

(By the way, if at any point during this story you happen to get bored, or just a little restless, feel free to take a break. I’ve left you some space in this book if you feel the urge to draw, call it a coloring book of sorts. I find a little space is good for a relationship. Reader-Writer. Earth-Moon. Man-Woman. Space is good. It helps create gravity. So use this space as you please.)

Let’s pause a moment now to watch the girl watch a bird eating.

She hangs quietly on a limb careful not to disturb the feeding birds. One leg wraps forward around the limb, gripping with thigh, calf, and heel. Her long arms spiral around the branch. She has the rare knack for naturally embracing things. With her chin resting against the bark, her eyes are fixed on a small black bird tearing into the flesh of an apple. The bird, always weary of danger, moves with alerted jolts. Its beak pokes and chews in abrupt chomps. Poke. Chew. Chew. Chew, chew, chew. Stop. Look. Listen. Chew, chew, chew. Stop. Listen. Chew. Swallow. The girl watches, counting the chews, curious what it takes to feed a bird.

This summer there seems to be more birds visiting the tree than in years past. Birds from all around the world. She wonders sometimes if the tree has the fruit and constitution to bare the weight and hunger of them all. It’s in her nature to care about these kinds of things.

Let’s hold that thought and pause for a moment to listen to the girl sharing some of her favorite words with the birds.

“Bamboozled” She giggles, unsure if it’s the bam or the boozle that she likes best.

“Flabbergasted.” This makes her laugh a little louder.

“I’d like to meet the person who invented that word.” She says through her own giggles.

“Humdrum!” She can’t control her laughter now.

“How can you say ‘humdrum’ and ever feel humdrum? It’s too funny. It’s outrageous! Outrageous! What a word.” She laughs so loud the birds stop their eating and look at her and her words and her laughs. What a sight to behold.

“You know they call girls birds in England.” She says to the birds. “I’m not sure I like that though. Birds are not just like girls, they are like all people: they come and they go, some are beautiful, some dull, some sing, some mate for life, some just eat what they can and fly away.”

The term ‘Bird Brain’ is not a particularly endearing one. If anyone ever refers to you as one (not that they ever would) you have the right to peck their eyes out.

Our girl would be quick to point out the intelligence of birds. If their ability to travel thousands of miles each year without once stopping at a gas station to ask for directions isn’t proof enough of a bird’s mental prowess, our girl will eagerly tell you stories about the clever birds in Japan that use cars as nut crackers. She’ll also tell you about a male falcon who, contrary to inherited instinct, learned to feed his young when their mother went missing.

I’m sorry. How inconsiderate of me not to ask if you want to hear more about the birds that use cars as nutcrackers.

Are you curious how they do it? Not that that matters now.

That’s the funny thing with writing a story, sometimes the writer mentions something and the reader wants to know more but the writer just moves along on their marry way oblivious to what the reader wants to hear. People can be that way sometimes. Just when you think your getting to the good stuff, the real stuff, they just move on leaving you wounded and wondering, “I’m confused. I’m not quite following you. What’s the reason for this missing?”

I think our girl would want you to know how these birds crack their nuts. So I’ll tell you. No, better yet, why doesn’t the girl tell you.

Take a second to imagine our girl out of her tree and in a classroom. She is standing in front of her third grade classmates. A white sheet of paper trembles in her hand. For the first time she is conscious of the eyes upon her. ‘Disappointment’ and ‘failure’ are new words for her, and she quickly decides they are not amongst her favorites. She suddenly feels a knot in her throat. She swallows but it remains. She rubs her hand against it but there’s nothing there, no lump. “But it’s there”, she thinks, “I can feel it”. She starts to read from the paper in her hand but nothing comes out, no words, just movements of the mouth. She is not used to speaking without ease. She coughs and tries again, but the knot will not budge, the words do not come. She swallows again and looks to her teacher who gives her an encouraging smile and nod.

The girl strains to squeeze her words past the knot in her throat. At first the words come out stretched and a bit distorted, more like word bits than actual words.

“Sssso-o-o-o-o”. She mutters. She starts again, this time the words come out intact but a little wobbly, like a fragile vase about to tip over,


She tries again.

“Some…p-p-people…think.” Her words now begin to take form.

“Some people think that birds are stupid b-b-because they have small brains.” The words now come. The teacher nods her head in affirmation. The girl continues.

“I’m here to tell you that birds are much smarter than you think. On a university campus in Japan you will find Carrion crows and humans lining up patiently, waiting for the traffic to halt.”

Her confidence growing she continues.

“When the traffic lights change, indicating it’s safe to cross the road, the birds hop in front of the cars and place walnuts, which they picked from the adjoining trees, on the road. After the lights turn green again, the birds fly away and vehicles drive over the nuts, cracking them open. Finally, when the light changes and it’s time to cross again, the crows join the pedestrians and pick up their meal of smashed nuts.

And if the cars miss the nuts, the birds sometimes hop back and put the uncracked nuts somewhere else on the road. Or they sit on electricity wires and drop them in front of vehicles.”

The girl folds here piece of paper and returns to her desk all the while trying to conceal her proud smile.

So who’s the bird-brain now?

Imagine now our girl in the tree eating an apple in early afternoon on an exceptionally hot and sunny day. While she chews her apple, she leans her head back and lets the sun and juice pour down her face. She is lost in the pleasure of absorbing the world.

Just then she is interrupted by an Owl - an English Barn Owl to be specific. A particularly chatty English Barn Owl at that.

“Whooo Whooo! Hello love.” Says the owl.

“Hello Mr. Owl.” Says the girl.

“What’s a girl like you doing up in a tree like this?”

“Eating an apple and enjoying the sun.” Replies the girl.

“No,” says the owl, “I mean what are you doing up in this tree? You’ve been here for quite sometime you know.”

“I like it up in the tree.” Says the girl.

“But don’t you get lonely?” Says the owl.

‘Lonely’ is definitely not one of the girl’s favorite words.

“No, not really.” Says the girl. “I have the birds to keep me company.”

“And when the birds are not around?” Asks the owl.

“I have the stars.” Says the girl.

“How can the stars keep you company? You can’t talk to stars.” Says the Owl.

“True, stars can’t hear you but you can hear stars.” Says the girl.

“That doesn’t sound like much of a conversation if all you do is listen? What if you don’t like what the stars are saying.” Says the owl.

“That’s when you really need to listen. The things you like are the easiest things to hear. It’s the difficult things, the scary things that are hardest to hear.” Says the girl.

“I dare say love, you are a difficult girl to follow.” Says the owl.

“Perhaps you’re just not listening.” Says the girl.

“We have the gift of gab where I come from love. We’re talkers. We only pretend to listen until it’s our turn to talk again.” Says the owl.

“Do you know any tricks?” Asks the girl.

“I can turn my head around without it coming unscrewed.” Says the owl and then twists his head all the way around.

“That’s a great trick!” Laughs the girl. “Can you teach me to do it?”

“Afraid not love, that’s an owl only gag.”

“But if you can do it, why can’t I?” The girl turns her head around as far as she can but only gets about a quarter of the way. “Ouch!” She says and then tries again, this time getting a bit farther - about 94 degrees if you’re counting.

“Careful love, you’re bound to get a knot in your neck with all that twisting.” Says the owl.

“Did you get a knot in your neck the first time you tried to turn your head around?” Asks the girl while straining to turn her head.

“No. Don’t thinks so. Now that you mention it, I can’t remember the first time to be honest.”

The girl twists her head some more.

“Careful dear, you really could hurt yourself, or worse, you could lose your balance and fall out of the tree.”

“I’ll bet you this apple that I can turn my head all the way around?” Says the girl still twisting and turning.

“I hardly call that a fair bet love. Baring the occasional horror film, no girl has ever turned her head all the way around.” Says the owl.

“This is a VERY good apple.” Says the girl holding it close enough to the owl that he can almost taste it.

“Mmmm. Smells pretty good.” Says the owl. “Is it juicy?”

“Very.” Says the girl.

“Is it crispy?”

“Extremely.” Says the girl as she leans the apple closer.

“Ok! Ok!” Says the owl. “But what happens if you win?” He says with a giggle and a twist of his head.

“If I win.” The girl says, “You must promise to truly listen to everyone and everything your big eyes see from now on.

“You’ve got yourself a deal love.” Says the owl and offers his wing to shake on it.

The girl stands up. Her long slim body balances like a gymnast on a beam. She brings both her hands flat together high above her head, her fingers point towards the sky. Her body is extended to it’s fullest. She bends her body backwards, then to the left, and then to the right. With each bend, her body bows in a perfect arc.

“Careful love, you wouldn’t want to fall out of this tree.” Says the owl.

The girl continues. Now she reaches her right hand over her head and grabs her left ear and stretches her neck towards her right shoulder. She does the same with her left hand. Then she relaxes and shakes out her arms and neck, loosening up her entire body.

“Are you ready Mr. Owl?” Says the girl.

“I believe so love.”

The girl brings her right foot up to her left thigh. Balancing now on only one foot.

“Careful!” Cries the owl.

“Are you sure you’re ready?” Says the girl.

“Yes. Yes. Just be careful.” Says the owl.

The girl takes a deep breath and then with a swift bold motion she does a full pirouette without losing her balance.

“Ta-Da!” She says. “I win.”

“What…er…you turned your whole body, not your head. That wasn’t the deal.” Says the owl.

“I never said I wouldn’t turn my entire body around.” Says the girl. “I only said that I would turn my head around. Sometimes when listening, it’s important to hear what’s not said.” Says the girl.

The owl felt a knot form inside his head. “But, but…Oh, I see.” He says.

“No.” Says the girl. “You listen.” And then she hands him the apple. “Here, this will take your mind off the knot in your head.”

“Thanks. You are a very wise girl.” Says the owl.

“Thank you Mr. Owl. Coming from you that is quite a compliment.” Says the girl.

The owl tips his head farewell and flies away with the apple.

Don’t think for a second that I know where this story is going any more than you do. Who really knows where things are going? It’s not as if I’m here inventing this girl’s life or presume to know why she does or knows the things she does. The thing she does are simply too unbelievable. I’m just as much in the dark as you are about what lies ahead.

What I do know is that the end of this story is coming soon. Eventually, as with anything it will come to an end. So if there’s anything you want to say, think, feel or imagine before it’s all over, you better do it now. Now before this story, and every story told before it, and every untold story comes suddenly to an end. Do it now! Feel it all right now! Say it now! Now! Before the sound of children playing on a frozen lake comes to a beautiful end.

Let’s continue…

Our girl has just spotted an apple high up in the tree. Although the apple is high in the tree and therefore difficult to see, the girl reckons it’s the biggest and tastiest apple there ever was.

But as mentioned less than 30 words ago, the apple is high up in the tree, in the highest part of the tree in fact. A part of the tree the girl has never climbed because the branches are small and weak. A fall from up there would do much more than just hurt, it would surely leave a scar, possibly a limp even, one that would be difficult to ever hide.

But the girl has already decided that she wants this apple. The decision was made long before the apple ever appeared. Before the girl ever knew the word ‘apple’ (which is certainly one of her favorite words).

So the girl starts to climb towards the apple. At first it is easy. The branches are thick, sturdy and strong, allowing her to move swiftly towards the apple.

Halfway there, she decides it’s time to take a break. ‘What’s the rush?’ She thinks, ‘The apple isn’t going anywhere.’

She sits back and basks in the late afternoon sun. As the sun warms her face she finds herself feeling quite tired and content and contemplates taking a nap. But then she remembers the apple, more importantly, she realizes just how hungry she is. The apple would certainly help cure her hunger. She decides to keep climbing.

As she climbs she slowly forgets the things she’s leaving behind…everything but the ground that is. It’s funny how much more we notice the ground the farther we get from it. Do we see it better, clearer? Or do we just realize how much we depend on it?

She has now reached the part of the tree she has never climbed. The limbs here are indeed small and difficult to climb. The apple, the one she is after, hangs at the end of a long, slim branch – two or so meters long if you’re counting.

She wraps her legs and arms completely around a stronger branch just below it in hopes of being able to reach the apple. Hanging upside down she slowly makes her way towards the apple. As she inches forward she stretches her head back to look at the ground far beneath her - she guesses it’s ten or so meters down and then makes a note to herself not to ever look at the ground again. "Don't look back." She tells herself.

By the looks of it, the branch she has chosen has what it takes to get her to the apple: a thick base, an abundance of green leaves and apples –all sure signs of vitality. Confidently but aware of her own vulnerability, she slowly moves along the branch towards the apple.

Halfway to the apple, the branch wavers – a little unsure of her weight and it’s own ability to support her.

The girl stops moving for a moment, careful not to do anything that would make the branch give way.

She hangs for a moment.

A moment moves towards eternity.

As she hangs there motionless, she closes her eyes and tries to forget about the apple and her hunger in an attempt to rid herself and the branch from the weight of needs and wants.

But hunger is not a thing you can take your mind off for very long. Her hunger makes it’s way through her body, from her stomach to her heart, up through her lungs, until it reaches her eyes and pries them open.

Eyes now open, she can see the apple again. It is as big and beautiful as she ever imagined.

So she decides to press on. Did I mention this is a very bold and stubborn girl. A Leo in fact.

She carefully slides herself forward, all the while self-conscious of the burden she has become to the branch but hopeful that the branch will hold.

Another inch and the apple is nearly within her grasp.


The branch lets go, not completely, just enough to send the girl reeling downward. Miraculously she hangs onto the branch with one hand. She is suspended in mid air. Beneath her is the ground. Her mind quickly calculates the probability of her surviving the fall – it’s not good. She looks up to see the apple, her hunger still there. Her options are limited to say the least. If she drops to the ground she is sure to hurt herself, perhaps a broken leg, maybe worse, maybe much much worse. The anticipation of pain is often the worse part of the pain. If she tries to climb back up the branch she will need to swing her legs up for support thus putting herself in a position that if the branch were to give way completely, she would be dropped on her head. Chances for survival would surely be much slimmer.

She hangs for a moment.

A moment moves towards eternity.

On a nearby branch sit a blue jay and a robbin. They have been watching the entire sequence of events - the climbing, the wavering, the letting go.

The girl looks to them and asks, “What do I do now?”

The blue jay replies first, “Yes, you are in a most unpleasant quandary my dear lady. That apple you are going after is a very fine apple. I can see why you would climb so high to reach it. But I have also been in many trees in many parts of the world and seen many apples. I can assure you that although rare and hard to find, there are other apples out there that are very fine as well. If you were to drop now, you will indeed hurt yourself, but you will most likely recover and be able to find another apple in another tree, a tree with stronger branches perhaps.”

The robbin interrupts the blue jay, “Yes, but she may never find another apple like this one, and she has come this far already. The branch has not given up completely. There is a chance it can still hold. There is a chance she could still reach the apple.”

“But what if it doesn’t hold?” Says the blue jay.

“But what if it does?” Says the robbin.





“Thank you guys!” Interrupts the girl. “But I think I’ll figure this one out on my own.”

And so the girl hangs. Taking in all the information available to her. Assessing both the facts and feelings.

She hangs.

And hangs

And hangs. A long strip of girl suspended between heaven and earth.

Take a moment now to see the girl’s face. There is tension everywhere. There is a clenched jaw. There are tears welling in her eyes. There are tears mixing with sweat as they slide down her cheeks. There are short fast breaths. There are eyes looking down then looking up. There is an invisible knot forming. And then there is a…a…what is it? A smile perhaps? It’s a change for sure.

The girl wipes her eyes dry. She takes a long look up at the apple and then a long look down at the ground. Her breathing has slowed. Her tension has loosened. She is now definitely smiling. A knowing smile. A smile that even the sun would envy. She winks. And then she…

The End.

Wait, I’m sorry, that’s not how this story ends at all. Nothing really ever ends. After all, this is a story about a birthday girl. Since when has a birthday ever marked an ending?

Imagine our girl, a little bit older now. Imagine here anywhere you want. Imagine her anyway you want. See her there. See her surrounded by trees. Trees filled with the most magnificent apples she has ever seen - luscious golden apples everywhere. There’s no need to climb anymore. There are birds too, not too many, not too few. And there are stars - millions of bright, flickering stars. And the girl is listening to the stars and the stars are whispering back to the girl, “Happy Birthday.”

The End. The Begin.

(Illustration by S O'Connor)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Attic

After great pain, a formal feeling comes--
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs--
The stiff Heart questions was it He, that bore,
And Yesterday, or Centuries before?

The feet, mechanical, go round-
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought--
A Wooden way
Regardless grown,
A Quartz contentment, like a stone--

This is the Hour of Lead--
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow--
First--Chill--then Stupor--then the letting go.

- Emily Dickinson

My time in Amsterdam is coming to an end. The chill and stupor have begun to fade and now begins the letting go. It is finally time to say ‘Fare thee well’ to my beloved city…or, in other words, it’s time to get the fuck out of dodge. But before I go, I plan to spend the next month remembering, celebrating, and having one last roll-in-the-hay with the place I’ve called home for the past 5 plus years.

So home is where my long kiss goodbye begins. “The Attic” is what my third and final apartment in Amsterdam has come to be known.

To get to The Attic you must first climb four flights of stairs so steep they make K2 look like a cake-walk. Many a drunken night have found me at the base of those stairs wishing a sherpa would magically appear and carry me to the summit.

But anyone who has visited The Attic will attest that the schlep is worth it once you make it to the top floor where you’ll find 80 sq. meters of loft-style space looking out over Amsterdam from the south-east corner of the city.

Invariably the first thing any new comer says when they arrive at The Attic is, “This place would be good for parties.” Indeed it is. Over the past two years, The Attic has played host to everything from dinner parties to full-fledge dance-hall shindigs.

Perhaps the thing I will miss most about The Attic is the view. Although much of the view is obstructed by Amsterdam’s only inner-city skyscraper – the national bank building - there is still plenty to see. To the west you can see the towers of the Rijksmuseum, to the north the glowing mantel of the Carre Theatre, and in-between lies the roof top terraces of Amsterdam – a city in and of itself.

And then there are the sunsets. The ever-changing miracles of light that appear out my window every evening as the sun makes it’s way west over the flat lands of Holland towards America. Yet another bright and shiny lure leading me back home.

Comment Starter:
Home is where…

(Photos by A. Groen)

Monday, August 08, 2005

Just One of the Girls

When I was young I often dressed up in women’s clothing…wow, that’s a freaky way to begin a blog. But it is the truth: between the ages of 3 and 5, I frequently wore dresses and a bit of make-up. It’s a little fact about my childhood that my mother loves to talk about, usually upon meeting anyone I may want to impress. I don’t know exactly why I enjoyed dressing up like a girl - I’m sure the Freudians could have a field day with it - but I did, in public too.

These days, however, I tend to reserve my cross-dressing tendencies for more strategic, socially acceptable occasions, i.e. Halloween or trying to sneak into the girl’s dressing room at the fitness center.

While my days of dressing like a woman may be over, I still quite enjoy hanging with women. In fact, it seems that throughout my entire life I have always had a large contingent of close girlfriends. There’s something about hanging out with a group of girls that is refreshingly different than hanging with guys. Perhaps it’s their democratic way of discussing things or their ease with sharing emotions or maybe it’s just their smell; whatever it is, it’s just cool to chill with a bunch of chicks.

This past weekend I spent three days chilling along the Mediterranean in the South of France with three of my good girlfriends from Amsterdam – D, Mon, and Lel.

The best thing about going to the south of France with three girlfriends, who also happen to be tall and attractive, is that it’s a sure-fire way to keep the hoards of topless French girls at bay while insuring an abundance of Speedo-clad Frenchmen with whom to engage in pleasant banter about French-American politics.

The worse part about going to the south of France with a bunch of girls, of course, is trying to take a pooh. When you’re sharing a one-bathroom apartment, duke management becomes critical. It’s not like you can just wake up in the morning, drop a load and walk out of the bathroom to a line of waiting girls and say, “You may want to give it a little while.” They just don’t appreciate that sort of thing like a bunch of guys might, and quite frankly, they’re right not to. Therefore, my solution was to simply set my alarm every night to 3 a.m. so I could wake up in the middle of the night for a nice and very private poohski.

Aside from being a little tired each morning, the weekend was great. We lied around on the beach, swam, snorkled, we even got all dressed up (I wore a suit) and went out on the town. I must admit, at times I felt a bit like Charlie surrounded by his Angels – but mostly I just felt like one of the girls. That was, of course, until I commented on how impressed I was that the girls all managed to avoid getting bikini-top tan lines - to which they informed me was because they went topless when I wasn’t around. Guess I’m not one of the girls after all.

Comment Starter:
Reasons why women generally get the raw end of the deal in men-women cohabitation…

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Bump-Out Champion of the World

Between the ages of 13 and 16, there were essentially three things that occupied my time: 1. Wondering if I’d ever lose my virginity. 2. Soccer and 3. Playing a basketball-esque game called Bump-Out. (Not necessarily in that order)

For those of you unfamiliar with Bump-Out, here are the unofficial rules:

> Two or more kids line up at the free-throw line.

> There are two balls, the balls start with the two kids at the front of the line.

> Each player starts by shooting a free-throw followed by any other shot required to make a basket.

> If you make a basket, you immediately give your ball to the next person in line and go to the back of the line.

> If the person behind you makes their free-throw or any other shot before you’ve made a basket, you’re out.

> In some versions of the game, you are allowed to ‘bump out’ your opponent’s ball to save yourself. This is usually done by standing under the basket and tossing your ball up through the hoop just as your opponent’s ball is about to go in, therefore projecting your opponents ball conveniently into orbit, or, if your lucky, into the neighbor’s yard.

> The game is played until there is only one player remaining, that player is then determined “Bump-Out Champion of the World” and free to gloat anyway he/she sees fit until the next game resumes.

My friends, brothers and I played Bump-Out nearly every day of our lives for three straight years. We played at lunchtime during school; we played in the hoop in my backyard on weekends and evenings; we even played on a little Nerf hoop at the Halfman’s house when it was too late or too rainy to go outside.

It’s strange and a bit depressing to think about how much time we spent playing and perfecting this seemingly useless game. The main reason we played, of course, was because we had nothing better to do and it was fun, really fun.

We also played because we were good. We were so good in fact that if ‘Bump-Out’ were to have ever found it’s way into the Olympics alongside the many other dubious Olympic ‘sports’ (see: Curling and walking), I’m quite certain that our Bump-Out crew would have made up a good portion of Team USA.

However, perhaps the most secret reason we spent so much time playing was because we all hoped that our Bump-Out prowess would one day pay off. I remember more than one occasion fantasizing that our high school basketball coach would wander by my house and, upon noticing my relentless tenacity and quick release, be compelled to offer me a place on the varsity basketball team. That of course never happened and the infinite hours spent playing Bump-Out never amounted to anything more than some quality time with friends and a sure-fire way to take my mind off my unshakable virginity.

That was of course until today, when, after nearly 20 years since those run and gun days of old, I suddenly found myself in the most unlikely of situations: face to face with two-time NBA World Champion Tony Parker in a good ol’ fashion game of, you guessed it, Bump-Out.

Tony Parker (aka TP) was visiting my work today. As part of the pre-arranged festivities, the powers that be organized a shooting contest between TP and a few select employees. I had made it through the rigorous try-out process by proving that, unlike most of my European colleagues, I could at least hit the backboard from 5 feet. In total there were five of us who got the chance to take on TP. The plan was to see who could make the most shots in a row, starting close to the basket at the bottom of the key and progressively making our way up and around the key. I’m happy to report that I made it farther than any of my colleagues and equally as far as TP – to the top corner of the key (a whopping three shots made in a row). I’m also obliged to add that TP wasn’t really trying very hard and was using an odd one-handed shooting style.

Unsatisfied with a draw, the MC asked us all to do it again but TP suggested that we play something else and proceeded to organize a game of Bump-Out that included himself, his younger brother, my four colleagues, and me.

Now the key to playing and, more importantly, winning Bump-Out is making sure that, aside from making your shots, you don’t have anyone really good behind you. However today everything happened a bit too quickly for me to secure a prime spot in line, instead I found myself in the unfortunate, if not suicidal, position directly in front of TP.

The game started like I remembered, fast and furious. I made my first two free-throws, as did TP.

By our third free-throw the line was already reduced to four: TP, me, TP’s brother, and my colleague Yuri (in that order). TP’s brother missed his third free-throw and I made mine, leaving me, Yuri and a big brother with family revenge on his mind to fight it out.

I missed my fourth free-throw but had enough time to quickly make my lay-up and get the ball back to my colleague just as TP missed his free-throw. My colleague proceeded to make his free-throw and knock the NBA All-Star out of the game. Whew!

And then there were two.

As is often the case in Bump-Out, when the game gets reduced to two people it can go on and on with the two finalists racing back and forth from the basket to the free-throw line like a couple of headless chickens jacked on coke. Today’s game was no different. In front of TP and about 300 of our colleagues, Yuri and I ran around in circles trying desperately to oust each other. For much of the time, I had Yuri on the run and was sure it would only be a matter of time before I was crowned king.

But then the tables turned, a made free-throw by Yuri and a big miss on my part put me on the run with Yuri in hot pursuit.

I missed my next free-throw and so did Yuri.

Then, as we both went to make our lay-ups, the strangest thing happened - our balls got stuck in the hoop. Not only did they get stuck, they got stuck in exactly the same place in the hoop – they were literally side by side. Had Yuri’s ball gone in first or been a little below mine, I would have been out, but it didn’t go in first and wasn’t ahead of mine. Instead our balls just stayed there perfectly level, even after someone shook the base of the basket. The game was officially declared a draw, perhaps the first in the history of the sport.

Who knows what would have happened had I won? Perhaps it would have validated all those years spent playing silly games with my friends rather than learning something useful like binary code? And what if I’d lost? Would it have been a cruel reminder of what a waste my life has been on fun and games? Who really knows? Win, lose or draw, the result is generally the same - it's all just a bit of fun to pass an otherwise dull day…just like way back when.

Comment starter:
Things you spend more time doing than you probably should…

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Uh Oh, My Girl Found My Blog!

Ok, so I’ve only been blogging now for two days and it’s not like I’ve been disclosing any illicit sexual liaisons or bizarre habits like secretly dressing up as a woman and making appointments at the OBGYN just to see the look on the doctors’ faces once they’ve strapped me in the gurney and looked under my gown. Nevertheless, I was a bit surprised that she found out so quickly.

Let’s get the facts straight. She didn’t actually find my blog, she found out I had a blog. She found this out when she went to the movies with two of the very few people in the world who know about my blog - my friend chum and my brother Gee. I found out that she found out when I received an email this morning from her saying, “I heard something about a 'blog' that you wrote. Am I on the 'it' list of those able to read it?” Which loosely translated means, “What else are you keeping from me? This is no way to have a relationship. I thought we could trust each other??!!”

My reply to her was that I had just started blogging and that I wanted Gee and Chum to give it the once over before I let it out into the world and, anyway, she’d already had most of the content dictated to her over the phone already (we live 6000 miles apart, lots of phone calls). This was the truth…almost. I had indeed shared much of what I’d written with her already; but a few more people already knew about my blog - my roommate A and a couple of other close friends to be unprecise - but they had only just found out about it.

I did, in fact, plan to tell my girlfriend about my blog. I had made that decision about 24 hours before I got her email. But I also did consider not telling her about it, along with not telling a number of other important members of my world, i.e. parents, other relatives, colleagues, and some other, less appreciative, friends…etc.

Unfortunately my girlfriend had to find out like most girlfriend’s find out about their boyfriend’s extracurricular activities, she had to confront me with it and see if I’d be man enough to fess up.

Which I did. In fact, I even sent her the url to my blog. But I also sent along a disclaimer, which read:

“Please note that this blog is a forum for me to exercise my writing while expressing my curiosity and confusion about all matters concerning my life and the world around me. Some issues/feelings/experiences will be exaggerated and/or emphasized more than others simply because they have captivated me at the time of writing or simply because I think a reader might find them interesting or funny. Although my blog will not always be funny or interesting, please don’t take it too seriously – it’s not my journal (which you can’t read). In fact, I find it quite interesting and funny that I’m writing a disclaimer to you, my girlfriend...perhaps this fact would actually be a good topic for the blog and a conversation starter about how much partners should tell each other. Nevertheless, please feel free to ask me about anything you read that may raise interest or concern. If this blog helps us better understand each other and improves our communication, then it’s probably the most important thing I’ve done in a long time.”

I also added that I thought it would be cool if she started a blog.

So why did I consider not telling my girlfriend about my blog? I guess there were a few reasons:

Firstly, because I thought it might be good to reserve my blog as a place to discuss issues about my relationship that I wasn’t ready to discuss with my girlfriend…sort of like a lads mag forum where I could get helpful advice like “How to get yourself out of dinner with her parents.” Or “How to ease her into the idea of a threesome.” Of course none of these are things I’d really consider doing…I mean I actually enjoy eating dinner with her parents.

Second, because I thought that my knowing she was reading my blog would somehow affect my ability to freely express myself or, even worse, keep me from poking fun at our relationship and write about things like how horny she is or isn’t in my “about me” section for fear of how she’d react.

But of course this is all just childish thinking on my part and yet another case of me worrying too much…right honey?

Anyway, now I know my blog will have at least one loyal, albeit overly attentive, reader…well two if you count Chum who probably feels obliged to read my blog because he got me into this whole thing in the first place.

Comment starter:
What’s off limits when it comes to pillow talk…

Monday, August 01, 2005

OB...The Original Blogster

When I was 20 I decided to leave college. It was a classic case of leaping before looking. I was three years into my intended five years at the University of California Berkeley and well on my way towards a Conservation & Resource Studies degree, a study for which I had an idealistic interest but no real conviction. I was also spending more of my time playing soccer and partying than actually studying. So I decided it was time to hit the brakes on my education before it all blithely passed me by and I was left wishing I’d made at least one trip to the academic adviser’s office.

When I left school, I did the most natural and obvious thing I could think of - I traveled around Europe before moving back home for the summer. At the summer’s end, I was unable to face the humiliation of staying in my small town while all my peers returned to their respective universities. So I decided to tag along with my good friends Chum and Dak who were attending school at the University of Oregon in Eugene.

During the fall of 1993, while Chum and Dak were dutifully attending courses, I was left to meander about the grey and depressing town that is home to the Fighting Ducks, the Oregon Country Fair, the state’s largest annual rainfall, and the world’s largest collection Petuli Oil wearers per capita.

At this time, grunge was nearing its peak but Chum and Dak’s bleeding edge taste in music made sure our apartment was not limited to the tunes of the times. The soundtrack of our lives was a flowing mix of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, G. Love, Everything But the Girl, Jeff Buckley, Smashing Pumkins, Lemonheads, Radiohead, Public Enemy, Built to Spill, Pavement, Elliot Smith along with a host of obscure bands that I’m sure my roommates remember but I don’t.

While living with my best friends and having little, if any, responsibility should have been the time of my life; it was instead, a strange and often perplexing period. Both of my roommates were in the midst of painful breakups while I was in the often equally frightening process of realizing I was falling in love for the first time with a girl who was living on the other side of the country.

My days, although free, left ample time to ponder things like - What the hell am I going to do with my life? What on earth do I have to offer this smart and far more independent girl with whom I’m smitten? Why don’t I have as sophisticated taste in music as my friends? What’s that smell coming from the bedroom? All the usual existential stuff.

It was during this time of trying to find anything to take my mind off of everything that I discovered a group of high school students who had turned our apartment courtyard into their before, after and during school hangout.

At first glance, these were the typical alternative kids found at any high school across America – a collection of black-clad, multi-pierced, smokers who looked unapproachable even with a ten-foot wizard staff.

For various reasons, being a non-smoker for one, I seldom mingled with these sorts of students when I was in high school. However, soon after high school ended and when the walls of clicks and social groups came tumbling down, I quickly learned that most of the interesting and creative people who attended my school were of this ilk.

Compelled by boredom and a pathetic need to make up for my idiotic high school social prejudices, I decided to get to know this group of kids outside my door.

Because I didn’t have the balls to step out of my apartment wearing only a bathrobe and barge into their fortress of smoke and attitude with a pitcher of lemonade and say, “Hey youngsters, how’s about a little refreshing beverage and a chat?” I decided to come up with a much more passive and what I hoped to be cooler method of approach.

My approach was to get up early one morning - before the pre-first period smoke - and place a simple cardboard box where the majority of students seemed to gather. Inside the box was a piece of paper, a notebook, and a couple of pens. On the piece of paper I had written down a quote from a Tom Robbins book I was reading at the time followed by a simple request for them to comment on what they thought of the quote and any other ideas they had about life, poetry, art, religion, school or other.

To my surprise, that evening when I went to fetch the box, I discovered a pile of papers inside. At first I thought the students had just decided to save themselves the walk across the street to the trash bin and dumped all their unwanted school print-outs into my box. But upon further examination, I realized that these were hand written pages.

I quickly took the box back to my apartment and began going over each page meticulously. I was amazed at what I found - real, honest responses to the questions I had posed. In addition to the responses, there were original poetry samples, drawings, and short stories. After my initial shock of actually finding responses, I was surprised by the openness and eloquence of the content on the pages. There were thoughts that I remembered having while in high school and questions that shuttered in my mind but that I never could articulate or, God forbid, share with anyone else, especially not an anonymous stranger.

For the next week, I continued to get up early and leave the box outside with a new set of quotes or ideas to ponder along with specific questions or comments about what the kids left inside.

The students had cleverly given themselves alias to disguise their true identities, most probably for fear that this was a ploy by one of their teachers. Unfortunately, I can no longer recall the names or even the specifics of the content left in the box. However, as an example of the level of activity, I do remember one particular kid, who called him or herself The Nile, who left nearly fifty pages of poetry during the first week, decent poetry too.

After a week and a half of activity the box mysteriously disappeared. I simply assumed the students got bored or someone just nicked it. But a few days later I found a note where the box used to be, it was a letter from one of the students saying that the cops had taken the box because they thought it was being used to exchange drugs and asking if I could get another box.

I don’t know why I didn’t get a new box but I didn’t. And now, nearly 15 years later and just a few days into my first blog, I realize that we were on to something back then. The students and I had discovered the need and power of an anonymous creative community. Ours of course was about as non-technical as they come but it was still a place where people could share ideas and thoughts, get a few comments, and wake up the next day feeling a little better knowing we had expressed ourselves.

Now if I had the slightest ounce of foresight or a hint of Steve Jobs entrepreneurial intuition, I’m sure I would have found a way to not only continuing my little box dialog with the student but to turn it into one of the first Blog sites ever, hell, I could have even named it Blogger. And then, instead of updating my Blog within the confines of my grey corporate cubicle, I could be typing away on the veranda of my island villa while some man-servant waxes down my surf board and politely asks me if I’d like to ride the fish or the gun today. To which I would reply, “It looks a bit of small today Stanley, I think I’ll take the longboard for a spin. Have you pressed my Speedo?”

But, alas, I have no entrepreneurial gene in my body, in fact, I couldn’t even tell you how or if these fine folks at Blogger make ends-meat. But then again, milking it for everything it’s worth wouldn’t really be in the spirit of things now would it.

Comment Starter:
Why Blog…

Galactic Reclassifications

Scientists have claimed to discover a 10th planet in our solar system. However, the claim has ignited debate within the astronomical community as to what should or shouldn’t be classified as a planet. In an attempt to offer further proof that the scientific community can’t agree on anything, some scientists have gone on to suggest that Pluto, currently the smallest planet (or ‘mass-challenged’ planet as the PC scientist like to refer to it), is actually not a planet at all but, instead, just a large particle in space.

The recent debate prompted some Republicans to quickly use this as an opportunity to point out that, like this “Pluto thang”, scientist still have yet to agree on whether Global Warming is a real phenomena.

I for one have no problem with reneging Pluto’s status as a planet after 75-plus years of planetdom, in fact, I look forward to living in a cozier, eight-planet solarhood. Furthermore, I find comfort in knowing that the demand for new text books in order to rewrite scientific history will provide a much needed boost to a publishing industry that has suffered greatly due to the rise in digital books, Pod casting and the end of the Harry Potter series.

Furthermore, while we’re in the process of making a few planetary adjustments, I think we should review the status of some other particles hovering in our solar system. For instance, instead of ‘President’, George Bush could be reclassified as a ‘Disturbance in the force’ and Blair as his little “Wookie”. Baseball should no longer be a ‘Sport’ but a ‘Leisure activity’ along with golf, poker, and hiding your grandmother’s dentures. Instead of an ‘Actor’, Tom Cruise could simply be referred to as a ‘Nuisance’ along with Brad, Jennifer, Angelina, Ben, the other Jennifer, Paris, Nicole, Nick, Jen, Madona and the Jacksons. ‘Coldplay’ would become ‘U22’. ‘Canadians’ - ‘Americans with free health care’. ‘Hybred SUV’s’ - ‘Irony on wheels’. ‘Africa’ - ‘The place no one wants to make eye contact with’. ‘Global warming’ - ‘Some other generation’s problem’. ‘Scientology’ could return to being “Science Fiction” along with Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Kabalism. And “Earth”, our beloved home, could be reclassified as a ‘Pimple on the ass of our solar system, which is an in-grown hair in the nose of the galaxy, which is a microscopic particle of a fart floating in the thing we call the universe.”

Once again, I find it useful to explain myself in case my point gets lost in my vain attempt at humor (of course humor is infinitely more important than having a point) nevertheless, the point here is: planet or no planet, we’ve got a lot bigger issues to be debating like, for example, will Brad and Angelina really last?

Comment starter: