Land of the Rising Sushi

•February 14, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Sake. Ahi. Toro. Ebi. Ika. Hotate.

They didn’t know what any of the transliterated words meant, and this menu lacked the bright pictures they’d seen at other establishments. So they asked for the omakase, because that’s what their guidebook advised. The balding husband sneezed thrice and wiped his sweaty face with the hot towel set at his plate. The overtanned wife pulled out her compact and reapplied a cruddy powder that occluded the air about them, settling thickly on her neighbor’s miso soup. Soon the sushi chef placed before the two gaijin a precise and beautiful platter of colorful raw sea creatures over rice. Pink, white, ecru, grey-purple, bluish, neon-orange roe: a delectable rainbow to be shortly bereft of any epicurean appreciation.

“Are they all uncooked? I get nervous with the uncooked stuff,” Helen said to her husband, skeptically bobbing her hiding-grey blond curls.

“These folks eat ‘em, seems like,” Jerry replied with a shrug, gesturing to the Japanese patrons who filled the cozy room. “Should be fine.” He snorted. “Just gotta get over the ick factor.”

Their skills in manipulating chopsticks were nonexistent. Jerry speared his side bowl of rice with the wooden utensils, a vertical call to death, and poured himself a cup of sake. His wife did the same. Finally they selected pieces of sushi with their fingers.

“Wait, I think we’re supposed to use this too,” Jerry said, lumping some ginger atop the fish. Nearby diners eyed them surreptitiously, shaking their heads gently, knowing what was to come.

“Here goes nothin’,” Jerry said, and popped the piece into his mouth. Helen reluctantly placed her orangey-pink lump tongue-side. She chewed several times, disgust tangling the wrinkles around her eyes, and swallowed.

They both paused. Helen spoke.

“That was nasty. Revolting. I couldn’t possibly eat another bite.”

“Yup,” Jerry agreed, picking his front teeth with a nail. “Not my favorite. Not by a long shot.”

Helen looked with dismay at the platter. A rose-colored blob and its rice underbelly began to wiggle.

“Oh my good goddamn, it’s still alive!” Helen yipped.

Jerry’s bottom lip retracted into his chin as he saw several of the finely prepared and plated ocean delicacies dancing to and fro, hitting each other in irked fashion.

“Holy gads! Get it away from here,” and Jerry shoved the dish along the bar, into a cup of sencha recently cradled by the old man sitting next to him.

It was too late though – things had been set in motion. Scallop and tuna nigiri were writhing so violently that they rose into the air; salmon, squid, and shrimp followed suit. Within seconds, every morsel from the sushi arrangement was buzzing and dipping around the ill-fated couple’s heads. Helen squealed and yelped and wailed while her spouse made uncoordinated, unfruitful attempts to smack their flying foe with his big clammy hands, yelling “Do something, you fucking freaks!”

No one made a move to help them. Customers looked on with amused interest, but without surprise.

Then the real attack commenced. Diving straight to Jerry’s face, the scallop bit off a chunk of pulpy nose flesh. The salmon went for Helen’s right ear, tearing off its lobe. Among screams, curses, dodging, and slapping, the creatures made quick, vicious work of the tourists’ craniums. Within five minutes, all that remained were two bloody lumps on bodies standing motionless, still upright, at the end of the sushi bar.

The clientele went back to their dishes and conversations. A server came by with two large plastic bags, wrapped them efficiently over the demolished head-stumps, laid the bodies down, and dragged them by their feet carefully out the back door of the restaurant.

Magritte in the OR

•November 26, 2016 • Leave a Comment

The grass he lay on felt as smooth as cotton sheets. He sighed contentedly and opened his eyes to the navy-black sky embroidered with stars. A portly moon hung directly above. He looked at it, and was surprised to see gone the patterns forming its “face”. Suddenly, several paces from the first, a second fulgent moon flashed open.

“What on earth…?” the man murmured. His lids widened.

There was a third bright sphere, then a fourth. A fifth and sixth followed. They themselves formed a larger circle, floating high overhead, lighting the night like a noon picnic. The man tried to scramble to his feet, but couldn’t get up.

“Jamie!” he called. “Jamie, where’d you go, the sky’s acting berserk!”

“Calm, calm,” he heard by his ear. And then further away, “Could you bump up the anesthesia? He’s taking too long to respond.”

The same voice, closer again: “Mr. Thompson, everything will be fine. It’s a new procedure but we’ve had great success so far. Your wife felt compelled to register you, remember? Please try to relax.”

The many white moons were melting into a total black. The man attempted one last ineffectual wiggle, and then was still.

Exercises in style (20): à la Old Testament

•April 24, 2016 • Leave a Comment

So God created man in his own image, and created woman from one of man’s ribs. And the LORD God planted a garden on the walls of the attic room, in the east, full of wild trees and fruit and beasts, and He hung a full moon in the firmament. Then Adam knew Eve his wife, but she did not conceive. Instead she listened to the serpent, who said, “Go and lie with other men, and you may bear a son in that way.” So Eve knew other men, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a son with the help of the LORD.” But when Adam learned what his wife had done, he shunned her. Now she was exiled from the attic room with the garden walls, and she wept.

When Adam had lived a hundred and thirty years watching the moon’s nightly cycles through the skylight, he smelled the spirit of Eve in the orange garden flowers. And he missed her, but he could do nothing of it. And the woman Eve was still exiled, and she wept. And the LORD God saw that the wickedness and sorrow born of relationships was great, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, “I will take man far away from woman, so that they can no longer cause each other harm, for I am sorry that I have put them together.” Then the LORD made the garden swell, the trees and the fruit and the beasts, so that it would take Adam far away.

The days of Adam after he was taken away by the garden were eight hundred years; and he had no sons or daughters at all. But Adam thought of the moon’s phases as his sons, Full and Waxing Gibbous and Waxing Crescent and New, and he was satisfied. Thus all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years; and he died. Now Noah was elsewhere on the earth, and he knew Eve, and she finally conceived and bore Japheth, saying, “I have finally gotten a son with the help of the LORD.” And Eve wept no more.

English Drawing Room of the Modern Period

•April 14, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Heavens, what a day! Was I knackered. I had just gotten home from a gala at Truffaut’s – a celebration whose particulars I had spent every waking moment of the last month arranging. And ‘twas a wondrous success! Eminent expressionist William McQueen, in our very own gallery! He’s quite my favorite painter. It was such a thrill, finally meeting him. What a dear – though an older gentleman, he looked smart as could be in a pinstriped tweed three-piece, feathered fedora, pocket watch and chain, boutonnière. Elegant, but not obnoxiously posh. The retrospective’s opening went off without a hitch. (Well, almost: one of the patrons had terrible “indigestion” in the Gents, but he escorted himself out with the aid of his driver.) I was more than a wee bit weary after everything, so I headed to the kitchen for a cup of tea. Next I went into the drawing room to relax on the sofa with my book until George came back from work. We’d have a gin and tonic, supper, and tuck in early.

As I entered the drawing room, I went straight to the windows to pull the curtains closed – I simply cannot stand the idea of some peeping tom peering in from a building across the way. I had thought buying a place on the tenth floor would obviate that possibility, but you wouldn’t believe the speed with which taller and taller buildings are flying up around our great metropolis. My fingers lingered on the velvet pleats as I gazed out at the city night sprinkled with electric lights. I did love London. Despite the construction and the hectic pace of life, ‘twas a lovely town, and I couldn’t imagine making a home elsewhere.

Then I turned. I turned, and almost jumped out of my skirt! For instead of the normal wall, with its normal Defoe painting, a single sheet of glass now gleamed… and behind the glass, an enormous face. Something out of nightmares! Its expanse filled the view pinkly, with its forehead escaping past ceiling and its chin past floor. Two giant sinkhole pupils stared out of even larger hazel irises; a monstrous nose almost abutted the glass, and a lippy mouth hung agape. Every pore would swallow my fist.

I must have gone barmy. I was off my trolley!

“Heavens!” I screeched, and “George!” for I’d heard him in the hall. I stood, feeling horribly claustrophobic, and read to swoon. I was terrified and transfixed by this most vivid of visions.

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

My inner child was about to declare total (albeit temporary) domination over its adult. Anticipation currented electrically through me. I remembered them so well: French Boudoir of the Louis XV Period (1740-60)California Living Room (1935-1940)Tennessee Entrance Hall (1835)… Design details winked around in my memory like resurrected summer-night fireflies. That scalloped red-blue-gold ceiling trim of the room where tiny curved and geometrical carmine chairs waited for tiny rear-ends to occupy them… That crystal chandelier dangling its two-fingernail length… That distant sun-lit lake and brown-green hills beyond (a watercolor backdrop warped alive by my overactive imagination). There were milkpaint-yellow walls, potted plants the size of jellybeans, floors of glossy mud-colored two-ants-width tiles, and squat kitschy goldenrod lamps that could only be illuminated by a Lilliputian hand.

I hadn’t seen the Thorne Miniature Rooms for a good twenty years, but I was finally headed back. As a child obsessed with teensy things and unreal worlds, the Rooms had sparked bonfires of glorious make-believe in my mind. What mysteries would be prompted by spaces no bigger than shoeboxes!

I arrived at the Art Institute and quickly descended to the basement. Before long I was staring into the minute confines of my enduring favorite, English Drawing Room of the Modern Period (1930s). A theme of cream and black: eggshell walls with molded columns and floral bas-reliefs, opalescent glass lamps, a boxy beige sofa near the ebony fireplace, and dramatic charcoal curtains flanking high, modern windows the length of my palm. It shed stylized luxury – but also coziness. I peered across the room, out the windows to distant golden lights poking through the darkness, and got goose-bumps. I began extrapolating whimsically, mentally sketching the people who’d inhabit this apartment… Certainly cosmopolitan and sociable. Well-educated, impeccably dressed, veterans of the stiff, classy cocktail. I was losing my sense of time, my sense of magnitude…

Suddenly, a minuscule woman walked into the scene. I froze. My ears popped, as if all air had been sucked out of the exhibit room, and then they filled with a low, white-noise crackle. She was blond, svelte, in black tucked blouse, white pencil skirt, black heels. Those heels were smaller than sunflower seeds shelled. Her back was to me. She went to the windows to draw the curtains closed. Then she turned towards the glass of the shadow-box. Her bitsy body immediately convulsed and stiffened. A faint, extraordinarily high-pitched squeak cut through my aural field of snow, then another. Her eyes were sentence periods. They were too small to pick out the color.

This had to be the most incredible hallucination.

 

Exercises in style (16): Textspeak

•April 7, 2016 • 1 Comment

sup dood

DOOD…where wer u? wut hapnd?

i wuz hidin…tryn 2 eskape gf

lol oic

4 realz
gf wuz cryn n cryn n im like FML
eskapd 2 attic, lockd hr out
watchd da moon, tryd 2 ignore hr shiz

wut… da moon? Y?

idk dood, shiz wuz fukd…i wuz sad

O RLY? uok? lol

YA RLY, fu. neway, da room turnd n2 a fukin jungl

oic! rotflmao

no, srsly dood. IRL. da jungl walpapr kam alive

ermahgerd!

fu, y dont u believe me

plz. where wer u rly?

dis hapnd. 4 rl. da attic room walpapr 8 me

wut. WTF. like wer da wild thingz r?

yeh, like dat. thought i wuz lost 4E. but den it spit me bak out
eskapd gf at least
lol

lol. kk. yr batshit, imo. batshit FTW!

thx. fuk off. i gtg neway. l8r dik

coo coo. ttyl batshit

Exercises in style (27): Scientific jargon

•March 31, 2016 • Leave a Comment

The experiment involves a Homo sapiens sapiens of the XY chromosomal type, labeled Specimen A (hereafter A). At 18:00 hours on 01-01-1946 A is located at 47.32°N, 95.97°W, facing northeast at a dormer containing a mullioned window whose casements are further subdivided by lead cames, in the topmost apartment of a Gothic Revival style bay-and-gable 17-bedroom domicile whose construction terminated 31-12-1888. Photosensitive ganglion cells in the retinas of A’s mammalian eyes receive photons from the perigean full moon which lies 52.11° above the horizon. Although low probabilities of such occurrences have been noted for H. s. sapiens of the XY type during the mid-twentieth century period in Western history, we observe A’s copious lachrymation. This composition of water, salts, antibodies, and lysozymes is excreted from the caruncula and drops a total of 6’1” to Quercus robur floor planking.

Our experiment correspondingly includes a second H. s. sapiens, of the XX chromosomal type, labeled Specimen B (hereafter B). B is located at a latitude and longitude identical to that of A, yet stands one floor directly beneath. As is statistically 83.33% more probable for the time period and sociohistorical context for H. s. sapiens of the XX type, we observe B’s equally copious lachrymation. Indeed, A receives and processes, via his external auditory canal, tympanic membrane, cochlea, and further ear anatomy, the vibrations from B’s lachrymation over his own. Since we were unable to fit A’s cranium with EEG, we cannot record spontaneous hemispheric electrical activity at this time, and can only make logical deductions from related data regarding A’s psycho-emotional state. This limitation will be discussed further in the paper’s Conclusion.

Precisely 10,800,000 milliseconds pass. Telescopic measurements of the lunar orbit indicate anomalous movement; the moon appears to have accomplished 0.5 of its monthly cycle within 5.57 hours, and is waxing gibbous 55.4%. Since it is accepted sine qua non that the laws of nature produce a spacetime that bends due to differences in gravity and velocity, we use special relativity’s formula for determining time dilation,  261474772db3c1ed51e1f89ebcf1d483 to calculate the discrepancy. A remains stationed at the dormer. He has locomoted 22.6cm from his original position. His lachrymation is no longer statistically significant.

We pass on to observations of the rainforest, as one within the intertropical convergence zone, that was not 107 milliseconds previously but is presently in existence within the confines of the room in which our study proceeds. Canopy is not visible; only the understory and forest floor are available for data collection. An initial survey of the ecosystem’s flora via quadrat shows that Bromelioideae, Orchidaceae, Lasiobema, and Ficus barbata are among the present vegetation. A fauna survey comprises the following: Bradypodion fischeri; Boa constrictor nebulosa; Vanga curvirostris; Saguinus imperator; Morpho peleides. We record the autoagitaton of Strelitzia, with its inflorescence at 62.9cm from the nares of A, where its odors provoke a new nasal cycle in the latter; partial congestion and decongestion of the nasal cavities proceeds as expected. Not anticipated is a causal chain whereby this cycle activates a strong emotional LTM, originally encoded by the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex. Although we still lack such specifics as only EEG could provide, we deduce the LTM activation based on measured observation of eyegaze and deep oral exhalation.

As our study nears termination, A remains upright at the dormer, having locomoted only 8cm from his last position. The moon, consistent in its anomalously rapid orbital trajectory, is now perigean new. Lobaria pulmonaria (a symbiosis of fungal, algal, and cyanobacterial species) has become omnipresent, covering the Quercus robur planking, all furnishings, and 74.2% of three walls. B’s oral and lachrymatious vibrations can no longer be perceived by A’s ear anatomy. Nevertheless, we speculate that much emotion-rich content concerning B still lies within A’s LTM; however, peripherally-linked data indicate that memory retrieval is no longer possible, for reasons unknown to us. We hypothesize that, among other psycho-emotional and environmental factors, the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve is at work.

Exercises in style (23): Alliterative

•February 21, 2016 • Leave a Comment

You stood still at the windowsill of the ancient attic’s aperture, gazing gloomily at the glutted moon. Your mistress’s morose and mewling moans mounted from below, making things melt inside your eyes. The wallpaper was wondrously elaborate – giant jungle canopies covered every last length. You wanted to forget her womanly warmth, her wanton womb…but you could not. Woe was you.

Still you stood, staring silently at the mad moon marching higher in the sky. The moon waxed gibbous; its gay but guileful grin reminded you of the great gusto with which she guillotined your heart. Continually did her wails wind upwards. But then began a burgeoning, a blossoming of blooms from the background into the biome of the room. As the rainforest reality ran resplendently amok, you repressed an urge to react, until a bright blue and orange bird-of-paradise plopped in perilous proximity to your nostrils. Nosing it, you fell into nostalgia’s knotted noose (recalling her soap-scent after sex and sleep).

Time trespassed, stealing the hours. No longer were her lamentations loud or limpid. You could not hear them even lowly. You gazed at the glassy sky, at the nonexistence of the new moon. Your melancholy had meandered many miles away. The jumping, jangling jungle was all around you.