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11.19.2004

the lateness of the hour

I may have made a dreadful miscalculation. Even at this late date (yes, it's late -- at least of this much I'm sure,) I can't decide how to decide if I've miscalculated. Yet, by nature of the very fact that I can't decide, it's clear that regardless of the technicalities, it's effectively the same whether I've made the mistake or not.

This is because of my nature. Mine is not the sort of nature with trees and hills and flowers and a rainbow sometimes and a stream trickling through the middle of it that magically doesn't make anybody have to pee. The sort of nature I'm talking about, my own, that is, is the kind that highlights the ugly crack running up the wall next to the other ugly crack. The kind that smells like something must've fucking died around here.

My nature dictates that today, while I'm fretting that I may have miscalculated, I will not accomplish the thing I could have been accomplishing had I gotten this all straight earlier in the game. Then tomorrow the possibility that I've just let it slip by without marking it will leave me mentally de-rugged, lying on my back, gasping for breath, with a stinging pain on the back of my head.

My nature has that simple tenet: always blame my nature. That's it.

There are little pieces of my nature that contribute, to be sure. Aside from that foundational piece, that steady floor there beneath it all, holding it all up, there are the warts that so clearly distinguish it as the thing to blame. I have trouble with ones, is one piece of it. The concept of what I'm talking about there is so slippery I can't even hope to describe it rationally. You go from ten down to zero and how many do you have? Eleven? From ten to one, do you have nine? Or ten? from five to fifteen -- ten or eleven?

Numbers are the most solid things there are, more solid than any physical things. Yet I'm always ending up with one more or one fewer than I would've thought I should've had. If a train leaves my house at 9:00am on a Sunday and arrives at my neighbor's house at 9:00 on the following Sunday did it take it a week or did it take it eight days? I mean it took way too fucking long, that doesn't even make sense. Is this some kind of ant train?

I know all of this is obvious. I don't have trouble subtracting. I can subtract like a dynamo. I'm like a calculator without buttons. Seriously, I'm the wizard of subtracting single digit numbers from each other. But when you start counting 0 as a number... let's just pretend this is all a fever dream brought on by something those Zombies of Indeterminate Detriment kept putting in my sody-pop back when I was taking programming classes in college. I'm pretty sure a few of the professors were ZIDs, and they were probably shooting dumb-rays at the back of my neck all the fucking time. They were drilling that gibberish into my head for so long about arrays with an element in position 10 having 11 elements that one and zero lost their distinction. Which is, frankly, pretty counterproductive if you're trying to convince someone that these "computer" things actually keep track of things with nothing but ones and zeros. (Yeah, talk about your "conspiracy theories." Shit.)

So the first element in an array can be at index zero, sometimes, or at index one, other times. Depends on whose gibberish language you're using. In fact I haven't seen an array that didn't start with a zero index for so long now that my polarity has, in effect, been reversed. I lean toward eleven. Count to ten, how many ya got? ELEVEN! BOOYA!

(This stinking lake of freezing water I've apparently jumped right the hell into has nothing at all to do with arrays and the numbers programming languages use to index 'em, so if you've got no idea what the fuck I'm talking about that's fine. Just trust me when I say that the people reading who do know what I'm talking about are wondering what the hell I'm talking about.)

That foray does lead me to another of the building blocks of my nature: tangents. Generally anything I say here could be said within the course of one sentence. Give me the right noun, verb, and whatever comes after the verb and you've got yourself my point in a can you can label "Condensed Stupid" and sit on a shelf in a roadside family market thingy and assume it'll still be there fifteen years from now when you're back in town trying desperately to find someone selling a battery for your watch at nine o'clock on a Friday night in this godforsaken town. Except shit, that's just what the watch says. That must be when it stopped. Is that clock behind the counter right?

But I won't actually spit out what I'm trying to say because then it's just condensed stupid. And one thing I give myself credit for (probably way too much credit, but still) --I know I'm not smarter than most of the people any of the time, but the people I'm smarter than some of the time won't be able to make heads or tails of this shit and so will assume I'm a genius, and the rest of everyone else will feel good at watching the idiot trying to impress himself but forgetting what he was talking about in the middle of trying to talk about it. So maybe it's just for those people exactly as smarter as me that I write this. Those three guys, who don't actually know about this place, would probably know exactly what I'm trying to say and think it's pretty profound. They'd fill in all the gaps where I passed right over the right phrasing in my effort to grab that one, perfectly worded thing that would've been pretty damned funny if I only could've not been distracted back there when I couldn't think of a word for whatever it was I thought I should probably say to clarify the sentiment I set out to express four paragraphs ago.

Of course those guys would find profundity in a Buster Poindexter lyric, too, cuz they're so high on weed they can't figure out how to turn on their dad's computer.

"Hey, man... this IS hot, hot, hot. Dude, you've got a corn chip on your dick."

I came up with that "tangent" bit while actually trying to get to what I thought at the time was one of the more crucial of my natural flaws, but then I figured I didn't need to talk about it yet because there was that tangent thing that I could talk about instead. But now I'm here and I've hopelessly mangled any opportunity I might've had to make a joke out of it by dribbling all this verbiage out all over your eyes and embattled cortex (whichever cortex is responsible for letting you still be here after the abuse you've taken so far,) so I'll just go ahead and say that it's procrastination, obviously, that I'm talking about. Better late than early.

I don't remember shit too well, either; the only reason I remembered that I needed to talk about how I procrastinate was that I typed the word "procrastinate" at the bottom of the chunk of text I was typing as I discovered that I should probably mention it. Had I not done that I'd have, instead of talking about it just there, been talking about the fact that I was just then talking about nothing at all in my effort to stall while I tried to come up with that one other thing I was supposed to mention. Much like I'm doing now in lieu of finally, at long last, concluding any of this long-form stupid. Naturally I didn't assume there was any need for including a word or two by way of a reminder for myself to see when I got to the end of my contortions. Which makes the fact that I can't remember what I was going to say here perfectly understandable: it's in my nature to leave out the most important piece.

Here's the thing: there was supposed to be a summary post; a well researched and carefully considered treatise on what this hastily started and semi-enthusiastically executed project had taught me about... about something. There should've been a few days where I posted very brief entries while, at the same time, constructing the brilliant final chapter to this month of exacting focus. On the last day I would be able to unleash that monster upon the blogalaxy, the blog-o-verse, the whole of the blogriffic blogtacular blogality. I was supposed to be ready to let loose a fully formed and impregnable construction of logic and reason. I was going to save the... I was on the path to transform the... the road ahead of me was, it was, totally, you wouldn't believe how exactly, it just. Man. I was going to say something cool in a minute.

But I don't know what the last day is. I started this on the 20th of October, and today's the 19th of November. Not only do I no longer understand whether to represent a real-world collection of days with a zero-based array or a one-based array, I don't have any good understanding of what a fucking month is, or whether that's supposed to represent some specific number of days or not. There are more days between the 20th of October and the 19th of November than there are between the 20th of February and the 19th of March. I mean I think there are. Shit, I don't know. I should've tried out to be one of those savant guys, like Dustin Hoffman was in that movie about the guy with the toothpicks and Judge Judy. Jeopardy. Judge Jeopardy. Don Pardo might've been there, too, with a dusty can of Condensed Stupid, shaking it in the face of the old lady behind the counter who just wanted to let him take it for free because she didn't even know she had that in the store and she had no idea how much something like that should cost but it really didn't matter, she didn't think anyone else would ever buy it anyway. But the character Don Pardo's playing, man, he's honorable. He's gotta have shit right, precise, all lined up. He's the OCD guy to Dustin's savant, and everything has to be right in the proper place. Then there's all this dust, and he had to put on these latex gloves before he could even consider picking up that can, but he always carries those things with him everywhere he goes just in case he needs to touch anything outside his small bubble of acceptable risk. Fortunately the woman behind the counter can't see well enough anymore to notice that this old, well-heeled freak is wearing surgical gloves while he's shaking a fifteen year old can of something in her face. All she knows it's a can of "Condensed Stupid."

Funny thing is, this savant guy doesn't know how much this shit costs. He's got the prices of every piece of inventory in this old timey corner store memorized, yet he's got no price in that weird, beautifully malformed computer he's carrying around on his neck that matches anything called "Condensed Stupid."

"Eagle Brand Condensed Milk," he says, "Fifty Nine Eighty Four for ten cans is sixty cents for a can, of course it's fifty nine and eighty four hundredths cents but that's sixty cents, yeah, sixty cents, definitely sixty cents."

"It's not condensed milk, you moron, it's condensed stupid. How much is condensed stupid?" the Don Pardo guy says, because he's not got much patience for this bumbling, mumbling calculator machine.

"Definitely don't have any condensed stupid in a store, definitely not. Condensed soup, campbells, soup is good food, yeah, condensed soup is sixty two cents. Mmmm-mmm good."

"Goddammit, Raymond, just... just forget it," he says, slamming the can of condensed stupid down on the counter in front of the confused old lady. She's not played by anybody you've seen before but she's playing that part to a t. She's got that part nailed down tight, hang up the phone, unplug the cord, we don't need to see any other auditions for the part of "old lady in store," because this dame's got her stuff together. Might wanna think about casting someone other than Don Pardo here, though, he's a little pushy with the soggy guy, and anyway isn't he supposed to be shouting out prices? We can't have Hoffman here rattling off prices and Pardo acting like he's got no idea how much anything costs. There's no verisimilitude there, it's just not believable. Rod Roddy and Don Pardo know how much everything costs. America counts on these guys to get the price right. Right?

Shit, you idiot, why are you still rolling? Film doesn't grow on trees, you know.

Where's Pardo?

(...)

(sounds of crickets, snapping rubber bands, yawns, stretches, blue-jeans against vinyl seats making fart sounds...)

I think I must've gotten off track. I do know this: no one's commented on/asked about/pointed out the significance of the titles of a decent number of these posts this past month. Either the un-stated game's too obvious to need pointing out, no one pays attention to my message titles, the intersection of my audience with the group of people who would notice what I'm doing (and care) is smaller than I thought, or everybody thinks it might be embarrassing to mention it because I probably mentioned it somewhere in one of these posts and you haven't read them all because, shit, how could you keep up with this torrential expulsion of... of... I'm out of similes and metaphors, here, but this part at the end's just the end-credits, the thank yous and the also featurings, the gaffers and the staffers and the catering crew, nobody reads that part except the die-hards and the people who know the guy who used to date the lady whose cousin worked for the company that did the publicity for this thing and maybe that one story about me got passed along and so he stuck my name on here...

The part that comes tomorrow's just the other piece, the piece they stick on after they're sure everyone's left the theater except the guys with the brooms and the sweaty, smelly dudes who never look like they've shaved recently but also never look like they're actually trying to go a beard. It's not clever, at all, it'll just seem to the one or two people who watch it like it probably means something, but they won't ask anyone because that'd be a sign of weakness, and amongst these uber-geek past-the-end-credits-watchers there's a code. If you don't know I ain't gonna tell ya. Duh. You're so stupid, you probably liked Backdraft.

(two days running using "verisimilitude!" What a craptastiphone!)

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