Day 217: VIP day.

This is a day on which I can do nothing.

The page contains a list of “Very Important Persons” that the authors of the Book would like an endorsement from. Everyone else can fuck off.

So, well, I don’t know?

I’m not an important person—not in the sense the Book means, anyway, and probably not in any other sense—I’m fine being unimportant, really, stop asking——anyway: not important, but I am going to endorse the Book. I’m going to make my students in the fall buy a copy, and use it the way I’ve used it: writing prompts. I’m going to make them “blog the Book,” although I’m not going to require them to go in chronological order, or blog every day: four days a week, I think.

This is on my mind, because I have to come up with my fall booklist to turn in to the bookstore—yes, already—and, yes, I could turn it in in July, but only if I want the bookstore staff to hate me. I don’t care if they hate me, actually, but I’m working on my syllabus anyway—productive procrastination! I should be grading papers or reading Middlemarch, but instead I’m working on my syllabus, which also has to get done.

Except, well, I’m procrastinating working on my syllabus by blogging. Which does actually have to get done: blogging is, for me, like going to the gym. The writing gym. It’s a way to keep my writing muscles in shape: the important thing is putting words together into things that resemble sentences, and sentences into things that resemble paragraphs—so that, theoretically, when I sit down to write actual things (seminar papers, conference papers, et ceteras) the writing is easier.

I guess it works. It will at least excuse how shitty this post is, at least in my own mind.

I’m not important anyway, so it doesn’t matter. Fucking Book.

Day 215: Welcome a new life.

I’ve linked to the Census Bureau’s population clock before: you have to reload the page to get new numbers, but this one updates as you watch, which is cool, but also a bit disturbing.

If I wanted to go into it, this would be the time to discuss the unsustainability of our current population growth curve, and the ever-increasing likelihood of some sort of catastrophic collapse in which most of the population dies, and what this has to do with late-20th and early-21st century apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fictions … I don’t really want to, though, because it’s depressing to think about. Also it’s late, and I’ve had a few bourbons, and I have to get up early and dig post-holes and put posts in them and put concrete around the posts in the morning.


I’m going to take the easy way out, and offer someone else’s advice: “wear sunscreen,” &c.

I’ll make a few additions, also borrowed, but from other sources:

Life is hard, and then you die. It is the fate of all living organisms to become food for other living organisms. Death and destruction. Smoke if you’ve got ’em. Alcohol doesn’t make life worth living, but it helps sometimes. All you need is love. Shit flows downhill, and payday’s on Friday. The Dude abides.

When the zombies happen, stay the fuck out of the cities.

Rock over London; rock on, Chicago.

Day 214: Measure your IQ.

The Book provides a handy nine-question, ten-minute test with which I am to measure my IQ.

Before I tell you how I did, let me tell you a few things. First, I have never taken an IQ test, and so I have nothing with which to compare the results of the Book’s test — and I’m pretty skeptical about the Book’s test, having spent 214 days with the thing. I suppose an IQ test might have been administered to me somewhere back in the depths of grade school, but I’m not sure, and even if I did take such a test, I have no idea what my score was.

Second: I have no idea what the numbers mean. I remember that Forrest Gump had an IQ of seventy-five, which was five points lower than was required by the state of Alabama for admission to public school, and that his mom had to fornicate with the principal in order to get him in. That’s my only frame of reference.

So, without further ado: according to the Book’s test, my IQ is 149, which is at the high end of the Very Bright range, and two points shy of Liar.

That seemed high, I guess, if only because of its proximity to Liar, and so I took an online IQ test — at, where else? — because an online IQ test is bound to be infinitely more accurate than the one in the Book —— and keep in mind that it’s late, and I’ve had a few bourbons ——— but the Internet puts my IQ at 134. Splitting the difference — which I’m going to do, whether it makes sense or not — puts me at 141.5, which I’ll round up to 142.

That’s pretty good, I guess? It’s all bullshit, of course, but I’ll take it.

Also: Every tool is a weapon if you hold it right.

Day 161: Compose a poem and leave it in a public place.

I am not so good at making poems. Remember this one?

That’s why I started on today’s task months ago, as soon as I’d gotten over the shock of Day 20: I wanted a good poem to leave in a public place, so that I could feel pride and not shame. So I surrounded myself with good poetry: Shakespeare’s sonnets, Paradise Lost, Donne, Blake, Eliot, Silverstein. I wrote, I re-wrote, I revised, I started over; I wrote until I looked like Pig:

I finally came up with something I was happy with: something moving, something deep and meaningful, but also something that would resonate with the people, that would embed itself into people’s minds and take root there.

It is a poem for our time, and I don’t think I’m wrong in saying that, centuries from now, it will still be read and taught. It is the best poem of the century, and I’m aware that we’re only eleven years in. My poem is easily better than anything you were forced to read in school.

This is not a poem I could staple to telephone poles and post on bulletin boards and leave on the windshields of cars, like it was a lost dog flyer. It needs a broader audience, a global audience. I had to get it on to the internet, obviously, and into the browsers of millions. But where do people go for poetry on the internet?

They don’t, of course, or not in the sorts of numbers my poem deserves. This was an obstacle, and I won’t deny that I lost sleep trying to figure out how to overcome it. It finally came to me when I was in the middle of something else — mowing the lawn, maybe, or urinating on my compost — make it a goddamned song.

So I set it to music. I found someone to sing it. I made a video. I posted it to YouTube four months ago, and since then, it’s been viewed over one hundred and sixty million times. That’s right: one hundred and sixty million times. Maybe you’ve seen it already, and didn’t realize I was behind it: I’ve tried to cover my tracks. Today, though, this second Friday in June, I’m ready to claim responsibility.

Look on my works, ye mighty, and rejoice.

Day 112: Trace your roots.

Shit, this is going to be easy.

I have two parents, a mother and a father. My parents have siblings; these are my aunts and uncles. Some of them have children; these are my first cousins. There are other degrees of cousin, but I don’t understand how they work.

My parents also each have parents of their own; these are my grandparents. There are four of them. My grandparents all had parents as well; these are my great-grandparents. There are eight of them. They had parents as well – my great-great-grandparents, of which there are sixteen – the pattern is fairly regular.

Some of these grandparents and great-grandparents and whatnots had other children; I’m not sure what to call those. The same goes for any siblings any of these people might have had. Somehow I’m related to them, I guess, but it all gets tangled and messy very quickly, and I never see any of these people anyway, so I’m not going to bother figuring it out.

The tree is not a good metaphor for thinking about family relationships: it only works, really, if you ruthlessly ignore everyone who isn’t parent or child. No siblings, anywhere, because then the tree gets really out of hand – it ceases to be a tree, and becomes a great big tangled web of how-the-fuck-are-we-supposed-to-read-this-thing?, and nobody wants that.

Even focusing on direct descent, things get out of hand pretty quickly: two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, 16 great-greats, 32 3-greats, 64 4-greats, 128 5-greats, 256 6-greats – and pretty soon you’re related to everyone.

For my part, I can count Oliver Goldsmith, Francis Bacon (the really dead one, not the recently-dead one), Queen Elizabeth I, Voltaire, and King Æthelred the Unready among my ancestors. Also the dude who posed as Jesus in this painting – and the dude who painted it. And Jesus.

Seriously, the famous dead people? I’m related to all of them. All the good ones, anyway – if somebody did something questionable, I’m not related to that person. You can figure out on your own which are which.

Day 97: IN DA HOUSE: Today, rap!

Dear the Book: you have got to be fucking kidding me.

Rapping requires three things that I don’t have: an innate sense of rhythm, a profligate desire for rhyme, and – if one is delivering the lines, and not merely writing them for someone else – a brash, swaggering bravado.

I am not Kanye West: I do not have a nice flow.
If Jay-Z saw me brushing the dirt off my shoulders, he would laugh at me.
I am not fit to be stir-fried in Ad-Rock’s wok.
I can’t even keep up with the words to Wil Wheaton’s theme song mentally; there’s no way I could sing along with them.

I couldn’t write a fucking limerick to save the farm, and it wouldn’t be funny or clever if I managed to scribble one out, and I certainly couldn’t deliver it in the extremely unlikely event that I wrote one that was passably funny. I can’t even deliver limericks written by other people. How the hell am supposed to rap?

I’m not supposed to, of course: I’m supposed to try, and fail, and look ridiculous. If the Book had been written a few years later, it probably would have required me to post a video of my making-a-fool-of-myself to YouTube, so that total strangers could also laugh at me. The only upside to that would be if Keyboard Cat played me off, but he’s a busy cat, and the chances of that happening are slim.

So, sorry to disappoint, but I’m pulling a Brave-Sir-Robin on this one: packing it in, running away, buggering off, chickening out, &c, &c, &c. It worked for him, didn’t it? He may have been the laughingstock of Arthur’s knights, but he survived to the end of the film, didn’t he? Everyone else died or got arrested, but good ol’ brave Sir Robin ended his days comfortably at home, a good book in his lap, a pipe in his mouth, and a snifter of brandy in his hand.

Actually, no. No he didn’t. He died attempting to cross the bridge, because the stupid bastard didn’t know the capital of Assyria.

Anyway, the moral: if you try to rap despite a palpable and blatantly obvious lack of skills, you’ll be cast into a rocky chasm and plummet to your death. Or something like that.