The Good Word of Sprout

Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Next Unassisted Triple Play

It is 2018. I am watching the Cleveland Indians versus the Houston Astros on ESPN 13 (El Trece), in Virtual Experience. I am positioned as the second base umpire. The Astros are up 3-2 and batting. There are runners on first and second and no outs. The count on the batter is 1 and 2. I am two thirds of the way through a hot dog with no condiments, which are no good in Virtual Experience. Their rival, Tangent Experience, has great condiments, but the hot dog has parts that taste like Pigeon.

The sky flicks blue to red, and my hot dog disappears. My wife has rung the Virtual Doorbell.

I told the Virtual guy that I wanted to keep my concessions during doorbell rings. "Just the sky," I told him. I mute the game.

"Honeydew," she says (god knows why), "can you check for imperfections in this leather?"

I think: Fuck, check for imperfections. It's fucking hard to check for imperfections. Ah, well...

I turn Virtual Experience off. The back of my brain tingles. I get up off the couch and go into the kitchen, which is not hard because the couch is in the kitchen. A roach runs across the apartment floor. I pull a rubber band off of one of the rubber band hooks, and, without thinking (right before my brain thinks, "Don't think!"), I shoot the roach dead.

They still make rubber bands like they used to.

"Honeydew," comes a call from the bedroom.

In the baseball game, now broadcast in Regular Experience, the Astros batter lines a shot through the cranium of the Cleveland pitcher. CRACK-sploosh! The shortstop picks the pinkish ball out of the air and steps on second, the runner just a few feet off the base, agape at the mound and the headless man next to it. The shortstop walks over to the runner near first, who is slouched with his hands on his knees. The shortstop tags him.

It was an unassisted triple play. The first since 2007.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Truth equals 1

I think that non-fiction, ultimately, is the same as fiction because of multiplication of decimals.

Let's say we have a non-fiction book about the history of the United States, and let's say we have a mathematical formula for determining the truth of any one event, based on eyewitness accounts, tangible evidence, prevailing social norms, and one million other things. Let's assign the number "1" to any complete truth.

Okay, so let's read about the Boston Tea Party through WWI in a book called Tea Party to Gas! Gas! Gas!, and let's say, using our formula, that the account of the Boston Tea Party is about 85 percent truthful (truth score: 0.85). Then let's read about the Revolutionary War, and let's say that the account is 65% truthful (truth score: 0.65). When we then consider that the Boston Tea Party (at least mythically) engendered the Revolutionary War, we must multiply the truths (0.85 x 0.65 = 0.5525). Let's string along some other causes and effects, each having a truth score of one (1) or less, continuing to multiply cause to effect, decimal to decimal, until we get to a truth score of 0.0000000001.

Now let's say we have a fiction book. Maybe John, the main character, goes to the dentist and steals the Dixie Cup that that the machine fills with water or mouthwash to be used when the dentist says, "Rinse," because it would fit his new pet, a baby toad. Maybe one John in ten thousand has done this (truth score: 0.0001). And maybe when John gets home, he takes the toad from the jar and puts into the cup, and the toad jumps out into his mouth and he swallows it. Maybe one in one million Johns have done that, and don't question me, you don't know for sure (truth score: 0.000001). Multiply the two.

Hypothetical truth score for non-fiction book about Boston Tea Party times Revolutionary War times...(n)...times World War I: 0.0000000001.

Hypothetical truth score for fiction book: John Goes to the Dentist: 0.0000000001.

Of course, the non-fiction book is more "truthful" by event, but, given a vision of eternity, neither is truthful.

Editor's note: I do not agree with this logic (truth score: 0.999991). People can't comprehend eternity (truth score: 0.999999999999...)

Monday, April 23, 2007

New Policy

The contributing writers at The Good Word of Sprout will be held to a no-less-than-three posts in five days policy to give our readership a more complete, up-to-date understanding of The Good Word.

--The Administrator


Unearthing Childhood Memories (I of V)

I didn't have many friends as a child, owing the the fact that I did not go to the local public or Catholic school. My school friends did not come over to my house after school because we attended a "special" school some twenty-five miles from my home.

Of course by "special" school I don't mean school for crazy, handicapped, or dangerous kids (or two of the three, or all three) -- it was a Montessori school -- but, just the same, I don't think they turned out too many well-adjusted graduates.

Like Tommy, who, when I was nine and he was seven, I used to punch in the back of the head on a regular basis, trying to cure his undiagnosed ADD. He was later arrested for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute (and his intent was to distribute) at the age of fourteen.

Or Carrie, who became a very pregnant hipster, before pregnant hipsters were cool (or is that their defining characteristic?), at the age of sixteen.

Or Morgan, who stabbed me in the hand with a scissors when I was nine years old. He was six. The scissors stuck in my hand. I don't know what happened to him, but I think it's safe to say that he should be in prison, or, since I am an idealistic liberal, that he should be in a million-dollar mental health facility funded by the richest taxpayers. Where do they get off being rich? Compound interest is not hard work.

Or Alan, my old best friend, who got married at twenty-two and remains happily married, thanking God for every day with his true love, who is truly too gorgeous, I think.

Or me, who paces up and down my four-foot hallway, muttering James Thurber's wisdom, "One Martini is all right. Two are too many, and three are not enough." Then dancing in the mirror, yelling out "I! I! I! Am! God!" until the neighbors gently rap on the door, and I say, "Sorry!" and curl up on the floor for sleep.

But I didn't start writing this to talk about that. I wanted to talk about my one neighborhood friend. One lousy friend. Who I didn't like.

It would be a green Spring Saturday, like the one just passed. The old white rotary phone would ring. It would be Ryan from down the street:

"Can Jon play?" he would ask my mother.

"Can you play with Ryan?" she would say. Implicit was that she wanted me to have friends, and I felt bad about her feeling bad that I didn't have friends because of her schooling decision for me and my natural reticence (which manifest themselves through the writings you read now) -- though I never could have articulated that at the time.

So I brought a plastic mini-football with a worn Chicago Bears logo to Ryan's house. He always insisted that we play against each other. I usually suggested that we play The Sidewalk is Out of Bounds: a cooperative game where we would throw the ball to each other near the sidewalk, and practice catching it without stepping on the sidewalk. But he was two years older than me, and he wouldn't play if we didn't play competitively, and I liked to play.

So we'd play like this: I'd throw the football as a kickoff, and he would catch the ball and run with it. He was bigger than me. He was autistic. I would two hand touch him down. Then he would be allowed four tries to get past the fireplug, the first down marker, just trying to run away from me. If he succeeded in passing the fireplug, sometimes by diving, he would be allowed four more tries to get into the neighbor's driveway, the endzone. If he succeeded, he would score seven points.

I was far quicker, and, in retrospect, I probably manipulated the rules to my advantage. On his first possession, I would not let him get a first down. Then I would take over on downs and score. Once I was up two scores, 14-0, I would let him back in the game, sometimes to tie, sometimes to take the lead. Then I would score four times in a row.

Most of our play times ended with him crying at a disgraceful, contrived loss.

I was a cruel child, and I am an adult capable of significant cruelty.

And that is why guilt is my friend.

And that is why Xanax tastes good.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Basic Journalism


The plumber, Pietru.


Left a log.


Today, before or after unclogging my tub's drain.


In the toilet in my apartment.

Why? / How?

Only Pietru and God know. / We all know, except for animals and very young children.



Saturday, April 07, 2007

Mike Royko on the Hangover

I don't often quote, but this was true on December 27, 1974 and remains so today:

It should be remembered that part of a hangover's discomfort is psychological.

When you awaken, you will be filled with a deep sense of shame, guilt, disgust, embarrassment, humiliation, and self-loathing.

This is perfectly normal, understandable, and deserved.

To ease these feelings, try to think only of the pleasant or amusing things that you did before blacking out. Let your mind dwell on how you walked into the party and said hello to everyone, and handed the host your coat, and shook hands, and admired the stereo system.

Blot from your mind all memories of what you later did to your host's rug, what you said to that lady with the prominent cleavage that made her scream, whether you or her husband threw the first punch. Don't dredge up those vague recollections of being asleep in your host's bathtub while everybody pleaded with you to unlock the bathroom door.


Thursday, April 05, 2007

Pleasure in Hell

I try to think of a pair of discarded ladies' jeans, a banned books bonfire, or an example of a run-on sentence, but tonight I have no thoughts, just a gray blob above my head where words and images would normally - pop! - in seemingly random sequence, though psychiatrists might say otherwise. This is odd, considering I live almost exclusively in my own mind.

Great! Without thoughts' encumbrance, I can write about that ghostly black-haired girl who hovers over me in the early morning hours. I can write about my feelings, my terrified love. But wait! There are no feelings either -- just a landscape of gray ovals where one would expect people to be.

I don't even feel hunger. Hunger is a feeling, right? One feels hungry...for reduced-fat potato chips with homemade French onion dip, for a ripe banana, for oatmeal-raisin cookies with a dollop of cookies-and-cream ice cream and a half-dollop of Cool Whip on top of that.

I feel nothing but a curious warmth, possibly from climbing the stairs twenty minutes ago. But it grows warmer. It is hot. It burns in my forehead and in my cheeks and in my back. It is too hot. I wonder if I died earlier, there on the stairs. Maybe I slipped. Maybe I fell. Maybe I fell into Hell. Maybe my heart just exploded (I won't be donating that organ. Someone need a penis?).

Nope, pinching still hurts.

And I think pinching would be considered pleasure in Hell.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

You Should Understand That...

1) Anyone can use"Dios mio" in a conversation without being looked at funny, as long they pronounce it with an American accent, slowly. Go ahead, try it. Then close your eyes a count to one hundred in your head. Have they stopped looking at you funny?

2) Iran's leadership is as crazy as ours.

3) There is a perfect weather to sleep. It occurs when the cool from the window equals the warmth of the blanket(s). You can tell because you use the weather as an excuse to oversleep and come in to work late. If your boss asks you, "Why you late?", you can reply, "This morning the warmth of the blanket equaled the cool from the window, and to take the blanket off would have been horrible, so warm it was."

If he fires you, he's never really lived, and you should pity that dick.

4) I am happy that there are strawberries in the refrigerator.