The Unabridged Encyclopedia Of September / 9 October 1997

An A-Z tour of the past month, featuring personally biased entries.

Andersen’s Pea Soup:
A family restaurant in Central California, visited by me during a trip to Solvang. A memorabiliac shirt, already shrunken around my ever-expanding gut, is worn by me as I write these words. The mascots are named “Hap-pea” and “Pea-wee.” The bigger one, Hap-pea, who wields the mallet, has blank Little Orphan Annie eyes which are fairly disturbing. The littler one, Pea-wee, who must hold the pea-splitter, has a band-aid and a solemn expression on his face, signifying that his large companion is not always the greatest aim. A pretty obvious metaphor, I’d say.

Breakfast at Kinko’s:
Lamb and I are at the Redwood City Kinko’s at goddamn five in the morning trying to print out something. The rent-a-computer says something like: “Can’t find that crazy printer.” I’m at my wit’s end at this point. I go to the front desk where there is a nice young man with maybe the most bloodshot eyes I’ve ever seen reading a textbook.

ME: Excuse me, but the printer—

LAMB: No printing.

ME: …the printer isn’t working. It’s not … uh…

DESK GUY: [slooowly looking up, staring incredulously] What?

ME: We can’t get the printer to work.

DG: So?

ME: [usu. a pretty emotions-under-control fellow, to say the least, is currently jittery, frazzled due to high levels of sleep deprivation and irritation] So? SO…? (incredulous, unable to believe ears)

DG: It’s not my problem.

ME: Well then why don’t you tell me whose problem it is?

DG: Sounds like it’s your problem.

ME: Guess what. It’s become your problem too.

DG: Look, I don’t even work here.

ME: [throwing hands to heavens] What exactly kept you from saying that earlier? [storming off, flipping mental birds, inserting mental hot pokers into the mental eyes of said DG)

Chank Sent Me a Fun-Pak:
I sent Chank ten bucks and he sent me a disk with some fonts on it, plus some other promotional junk. Plus this little note (photocopied; not to me personally): “I hid some art in rm#212 at the Sands Motel in Rapid City, South Dakota. Go find it!” I’ve begun to be able to identify fonts by name when I see them on billboards, magazine ads, websites, etc. This morning I appreciated how Camel Cigarettes now has a couple of new billboards that just have the camel logo with a psychadelic-type background and nothing else. I thought it was high-time they retired the embarrassing Joe Camel (though I’m sure it’ll be back) and took advantage of the logo-recognition factor. If you ever have a company, like Nike, like Coke, where your logo is immediately recognizable all around the world, then just put the logo there with no mention of the company name at all. That’ll make your competition weep with inadequacy. There’s a little essay in the CD case for the new Negativland album that urges Coke and Pepsi to cut back on advertising since everyone in the world already knows about their product.

Dave Grohl Seems Like an Appealing Celebrity:
I don’t know. I’ve been into the Foo Fighters album and I think it’s because:

  1. I’ve unconsciously missed that huge, fat, cleanly-produced guitar sound
  2. Dave Grohl seems like an OK guy

You know? Like you wouldn’t really want to hang out with, say, Weiland, would you? But Dave plays rock ‘n’ roll and makes funny videos.

Expatriate Louises Swap Places?:
I don’t even remember where the first British Louise came from … she’s an e-mail buddy … I think she found me through this website. Anyhow, we corresponded via email now and then and I try to call french fries “chips” and bring up the Spice Girls as often as possible to make her feel comfortable. She kills me by saying things like “fortnight” and “full stop” and “mum.” Then one day she announced she was taking an extended trip to the States and she was gone. Then I started working at WebTV and about a week later this British woman named Louise starting working there, too. It took me about a month to make the potential connection but when I asked this Louise if she happened to be my e-pen-pal she said, No. Then a couple of weeks ago Louise quit WebTV and went on her way and not long after, the E-mail British Louise wrote me again saying that she had had “a smashing time” in America. Creepy and weird. I think I’m being fucked with.

Fireland and the Babe-Magnetness of Your Own Domain:
“So what’s your URL, hot thing?”

“Dub-dub-dub. Tri-dub…”

“Oh that’s so COOL! That’s hip and funny!”

“Ha ha. Yeah, so like: tri-dub fireland dot com.”

“Hold the horse. You’re telling me you have your OWN domain name?”

“I do now, sweetheart.”

“Fireland dot com.”


“I would like to have sex with you because you have your own domain name.”

Green Ghosts on the Wall:
The Houston Contemporary Art Museum. You enter this near-pitch-black corridor and as your eyes adjust you start to make out pale greenish shapes along the walls. You walk up to one and the shape resolves itself into a person with his/her back to you. As you stand there, the person turns around, looks at you curiously, then approaches you, getting bigger on the wall as they near. Then they stand there and look back at you until you turn to leave, and then they do the same. These are actually video projections from hidden sources, and there are evidently sensors in the floor. When you step on the sensor, the projector will run the film, causing the green ghost to turn and approach and stand there until you step off the sensor.

Houston Industries Presents:
The largest fireworks and laser-light display in North American history. Downtown Houston is ablaze in bleeding-edge pyrotechnics, all accompanied by a like half-hour mix of modern music, everything from the Chemical Brothers to Garth Brooks to ZZ Top. We watch it on TV and if we’re quiet, we can hear the ominous booms in the distance. The dog can no longer hear and is not bothered by this. We’re celebrating Houston as a City, as a Viable Part of America, and nothing else, really.

I Should Really Start Writing My New Book:
“The truth is that we live out our lives putting off all that can be put off; perhaps we all know deep down that we are immortal and that sooner or later all men will do and know all things.”

“My evil genius Procrastination has whispered me to tarry ‘til a more convenient season.”

Josh Feels Compelled to Read The Lord of the Rings:
I read The Hobbit like everyone else when I was little but I just couldn’t make it through The Fellowship of the Rings and so I abandoned the whole trilogy and I feel like I’m missing out on something. I mean, how can I really, you know, UNDERSTAND Led Zeppelin without this under my belt? Anyhow, this guy named Scott at work just blazed through them and has been singing their praises so when I was at home I dug them out of the archives and brought them back to San Francisco and there they sit, still unread but full of promise and dreams and magic. I assume. But I keep buying these huge-ass novels to read (Underworld, The Recognitions, by Gaddis, The Twenty-Seventh City, by Jonathan Franzen, plus I’m constantly rereading Infinite Jest) so I don’t know when I’ll get around to them.

Kull the Conqueror:
The obligatory Jim Park mention. He just called me, matter of fact. Anyhow, we couldn’t agree on a movie to see so we went with the least common denominator and saw Kull, who I didn’t know was supposed to be Conan’s father until Jim told me ex post facto. It was a full-on PG-13 movie, and I haven’t seen a PG-13 movie in awhile and it used its limited allowance of profanity, sex, and violence with just the right punch and delicacy.

Mom’s contact cleaning solution that she can only find in California, so I need to ferry it like contraband into Texas. Two things:

  1. “Lobob” is a kinda funny name, though “Lobot” would be better for us Star Wars fans
  2. I tried on a co-worker’s eyeglasses a few weeks ago and was alarmed to notice that I could see things off in the distance with greater clarity

Moderating Is Fun:
I moderate the newsgroup at WebTV. I tend to have a confrontational attitude and a smug, bitter tone (I can’t help it!). Here’s a quick summary of what I’ve been called recently, by our users, our customers, those that very indirectly pay my bills:

  • Sarcastic twit
  • Homo
  • Fathead
  • The retarded family member that everyone knows about but no one likes to talk about
  • Asshole

Not Answering the Phone:
A new quirk of mine. Some people call it “screening one’s calls” but I think that’s inaccurate in my case because it’s assuming that I will allow some calls through the screen. My screen is becoming less and less porous.

Onion T-shirt Arrives Via UPS:
I sang the praises of these shirts in a recent text product and was woeful because I couldn’t decide which one to get. I had to make one of those kneejerk decisions which is much easier when shopping online (come to think of it, this may be the first thing I’ve ever bought online … ah, well, except for some … some adult memberships, for research, for my job) because you’re just sitting there, poised over the SEND button, and then you press it before you can stop yourself. It’s like you have some mean or important e-mail that you probably should keep to yourself but you go ahead and send it before reason takes over (this has resulted in the above reactions). Anyhow, I was going to get the “You Are Dumb” one but at the last minute I switched to “Let The Fucking Begin” and that’s the one that was UPSed to my house a few weeks later. I wore it to work and I think that promotion will be heading my way real soon-like.

Parking Space Goddess:
Got this at the gift shop of the Houston Contemporary Art Museum and it rules. I was really happy to find it because I used to have a Parking Moose, which was a little plastic moose (I have no idea where it came from, but it somehow appeared in my car, making it all the more mystical and mythological), and when I REALLY REALLY needed to find a parking space, so the legend went, I would rub the moose between his antlers and the good vibe would go out there to help me. Well the moose is gone but the angel is here to replace it. The angel is a little silver statue with an adhesive base so I can stick it right on the dashboard. Then, in desperate times, I wind her up and her wings flap. I’m also supposed to say this:

Goddess, I bless you and keep you
On my dashboard at all times
I know that you will bless me too
As I gather my quarters and dimes

Past the pay lots and reserved places,
You are scoping the street for me
Watching for wide open spaces
Not far from where I want to be

I wind you up, you flap your wings
In a holy mechanized arc
I know not how you do these things
But please find me a place to park

I could not cherish you any more,
And life could not be sweeter—
You have found a space right at the door
With an hour left on the meter!

Quiet is the Office at Four AM:
Three times thus far it seemed like a good idea to stay at work and work all night, and then go home in the morning and sleep all day. It’s gotten easier each time. It’s quiet and creepy, just the hum of giant, spooky servers and whatever CD I’ve stolen from a co-worker to play on the CD-ROM drive. I actually tried drinking coffee to keep myself awake and so I put four packs of sugar and like 12 fl. oz. of 0.5 & 0.5 in there and it was tolerable, but still not something I would drink for pleasure.

So there’s this band called Sleater-Kinney and they have this album called Call The Doctor and it was greeted with much critical acclaim and all the rock critics drooled on it, and when my friend Darren saw that I had it he was like: “Oh, you got Call The Critics.” And for some reason I thought that was really funny. So recently he saw that I had the latest Radiohead album and he said: “Whoa, you wanna talk about Callin’ The Critics, there it is.” The critics love Radiohead and I think I could take half the songs from OK Computer and half from The Bends and make one pretty great album.

Sandwiches at Tony Baloney’s:
I love sandwiches. Turkey and cheese. I eat them pretty much every day. Some people get tired of eating the same thing every day but I don’t. Tony Baloney’s is this deli around the corner and pretty much the only place (commercial or residential) that I go to in this crappy neighborhood on a regular basis. There this guy who works there and seems to run the place that I assume is Tony and he kind of looks like a “Hey yo, fuhgetaboudit” kinda New Yorker but he doesn’t really have that kind of accent. Some tourists once asked him if he was Tony and he said No. Tony was the Big Boss. He was just Tony’s Slave. Now, he may well have been screwing with the tourists, which is fine, or maybe there really is this Big Boss who just pulls the strings and probably (hopefully) has Mob connections and who you never see, you just hear about. Or maybe he calls secret meetings once a month in the back room with mysterious, well-dressed people under the dim light of a bare bulb. Well, damn, let me delude myself for awhile, at least. You’ve gotta make your own movies where you find them.

Twentieth Anniversary of Games Magazine:
Games Magazine is in my DNA. My pappy subscribed to it back when I was a lad and I think it can be blamed for my current dependence on crossword puzzles. But I have a special predilection for those in Games, and I’ve followed the magazine semi-faithfully over the years. Now they’ve been around for twenty years and they have a commemorative issue out and I guess this is all pretty boring to everyone but Games Magazine makes me happy and I think you should cling to those types of things and maybe blab about it on your website from time to time.

Underworld, by Don DeLillo:
“In Underworld, as in his previous novels, DeLillo shows that he is more a writer of sentences than a constructor of engaging plots. Glorious sentences fill this novel, gorgeous strings of words you want to memorize, to repeat when you’re scared or bored.”

Victor Hanna as Played by Al Pacino:
So I have Mondays off work and on Mondays I tend to go to Tony’s for a turkey and cheese and there’s nothing I love better than watching a video while I eat lunch (OK, there are ninety-three things I like better but at least it’s in the Top 100 Countdown) so I’ve been watching the Michael Mann movie Heat which is a great movie but it does have a rather unfortunate performance by Al Pacino. There is evidently some improv by our boy Al, and it just doesn’t fly, especially when contrasted against De Niro’s restrained, cool, tense, great-as-usual acting job. My theory is that Pacino did all these great performances in the 70s but only got the Oscar for the abysmal Scent of a Woman. So he’s like: “Oh, OK, so when I yell and am annoying and a bad actor, THEN I get the Oscar. OK, I’ll just keep doing that until I win another one.”

Watches in Ads Tend to Show 10:10:
“Nobody knows exactly why watches in print advertisements, digital as well as analog, almost always give the time as 10:10. One possibility proffered by an ad agency is that the open hands connote a warm and enveloping feeling similar to a person’s outstretched and welcoming arms. One commercial photographer believes that 10:10 was the time Abraham Lincoln was shot. Another industry insider says 10:10 is more a happy face than a sad one. Or, maybe it’s just easier to read this way. So, then, why are watches with a date feature set for Wednesday, Oct. 14?”

A yellow pigment in the wings of certain butterflies and moths, found also in the urine of mammals.

You Fear Losing Control in Terms of Your Time, Your Life and Essentially Your Freedom:
This is my problem with interpersonal relationships. I had a new friend point this out to me. Dealing with this is really what September was all about.


Joshua Green Allen

Fireland is a rickety old website by Joshua Allen.

A novel called Chokeville and a beverage-review site called The Knowledge For Thirst.

A great deal of typing is collected in the Archive.

Articles and whatnot for other sites, including The Morning News, Wired, and McSweeney's, can be found in External.

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The Sexiest Sentence Alive, Fireland Broke My Will To Live, The Black Pill Diaries, and a sampling of Old Fireland Designs.

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