Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Daniel Khost and the Case of the Supermarket Time-Traveler

So. I was at Key Foods, stocking up on cereal and Greek yogurt, when I saw a Man. Now, living in the city I see a lot of these, but this one was different. Subtly so, however. Perhaps it was his Gandalf-style beard, WWII combat helmet, or giant rain boots that set him apart. Yes, I am sure it had something to do with that. I saw him in the cereal isle, pushing his cart along. I could not stare for long, for that would be rude, and I am fairly confidant he had some sort of firearm. But I did see his face. I saw his old eyes, almost hidden behind his bushy white eyebrows. There was something about his gaze. It was the gaze of a man long misunderstood, a man who knew the world would not, nay, could not comprehend the complex machinations that whirled like dervishes in his mind. He passed me by, as my eyes followed in his wake, resting on his red camping backpack and army trenchcoat. Now, most men would write him off as an eccentric, weird old man, perhaps homeless. But I am not most men. My long years dwelling in fantasy realms of my own creation have endowed me with a keen sense for when something exciting is afoot. It was this feeling I had then. The feeling that there was more to the old man than met the eye. So I texted Ian.

Used to such scenarios, Ian immediately understood, and we embarked on a discussion as to the true nature of The Man with the Beard and Strange Hat. All the while, something was nagging at the corner of my brain. Only when I ceased to focus on it did it become clear.

Yes. It was so simple.


What do time travelers do when embarking on a mission to the past? As any fool or fan of Dr. Who could tell you, the time traveler attempts to blend in with the dress and customs of the day. However, when viewed through the lens of time, such things can get slightly jumbled. Thus there is usually something off about his or her appearance. Perhaps it is the tutu worn over the buisness suit. Or perhaps the doughboy helmet worn with plaid shirt and rain boots while food shopping.

Even more bizarre, just that morning I had received an email from my brother Greg of an advertisement in the paper, "jokingly" seeking a time traveling partner. Coincidence? I think not.

Immediately I recognized the ramifications. Why else would a time traveler be visiting the year 2009 unless unless something major was about to happen? Something that would change the time stream forever! The development of true artificial intelligence, triggering a robot uprising hundreds of years hence? Invasion of hostile alien empires? Terrorists shot the professor causing me to travel back in time so I can unite my future parents with the power of rock and roll? Your guess is as good as mine. But you can be damn sure that I will be picking apart the news with a fine tooth comb in subsequent weeks. Now I must be off to replenish my apocalypse stockpile and begin construction on more tin foil hats. Also, I must learn more about this "Chuck Berry"...

-Daniel Emerson

ps- It has just occurred to me that this man could also be a poorly disguised wizard, unused to the garb of our Muggle world. Either way, I just cannot lose.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Essay Deadlines are for Squares, Part XXXIV


I know I already posted this on my Facebook, but holy shit you guys, I had to write about it here. So what if it is two in the morning? So what if my essay was supposed to be sent via email already? So...wait. Why did I just spend three hours on stumbleon? Oh, that's right. Because it is like cocaine for anyone with ADD! Seriously, it is like the thing was designed to distract me. Which I guess it was. Crap.

Anyway, this link. It fills me with such happiness, and I am not just be dramatic for humorous effect as I ususally am. It really does make me happy. Watch it, and you will see why. I'll wait. No seriously do it now.

RIGHT!? How good was that?! It is times like these that really make me think that there might be some justice in the world. Here is the weird old British lady who loves cats, and everyone is making fun of her, and that Simon Crowell character who picks people apart for a living is all smug. No good could come of this, it seems, but suddenly this batty lady bursts forth in gorgeous song! Why does stuff like this not happen more often? Everyone has expectations and prejudices, and we are so ready to look down on something or someone. Then something like this comes along and effectively tells that cynical son of a bitch Crowell to stick it, and everyone goes crazy! This is why everyone loves underdog stories I think. Yeah, they don't happen often, and you don't see the stories of all the underdogs who almost made it but were cruelly crushed in the end. But occasionally, the universe decides to be fair and dish out some truly epic poetic justice. Such as here. God I am so life-affirmed right now I gotta go kick some puppies or something to balance myself out.

-Daniel Emerson

ps- Keep your eye on Simon. You can see the exactly second his tiny little world collapses in around him. It is like the god damn Grinch's heart grew three sizes that day! I half expected him to lift up the judging podium and ride it down the slopes into London blowing "whowho" on his trumpet...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Wherein I return from Spring Broke


Man it is going on 1:30 in the morning and I have class to get to tomorrow, and I really should get a restful sleep to start off the week, but I have really felt compelled to jot my thoughts down in this thing. Ah well, it will give the sleeping pills a little while to kick in, so before I drift off into unconsciousness I will BLOG for a bit (I always felt that verb merits capitalization).

So here is the story. This is not anything profound, exciting, or creative. This is more for my own benefit as I am feeling rather blue. I just got back off of spring break, which was relaxing and uneventful, in my book both good things. At the beginning I was feeling my usual antipathy towards the inevitable return to school. I thought about why it was, and I came to the conclusion that life back at home was slightly unreal. There are no real responsibilities, no deadlines. As per my custom I discard of my cell phone/wallet/keys as soon as I return home. They are the tools of the oppressor. They represent my independence and all the stress that follows it, I came to realize, so I try to distance myself from them. The city stands for the same thing; it is not anything about the school or the people or the classes that causes my mixed feelings. It is the forced responsibility, which would occur no matter where I am, that causes my anxiety. Home is an escape from it. But as mother pointed out, if I were to hypothetically drop college and return home for some other path through life, there would be anxieties of a different nature. No escape, I gloomily thought.

However, as break progressed, I found my black mood lifting. I think I came to enjoy my time home for what it was: a temporary escape from reality. As the return to school loomed, I felt better than I usually do about such things. But now as I write, some of the usual dreading feeling returns. What is the cause?

It is, I think, my love for the familiar. Even if I have begin to accept that life as it currently is back home is not very realistic, it is still the life I am most familiar with. The simplest ties to it make me feel better. For instance, when I was brushing my teeth a few minutes ago, I noticed Pete had bought a new kind of toothpaste, the same kind we use at home. Something so trival made me happy. It is odd, for most of my life I thought I was a adventuresome, bold individual who thrived in unfamiliar circumstances and sought change and vitality. But I am not, really. I like comforting things, quiet things, familiar things. Maybe I should not be this way, what with being a carefree youth in the city. But, as the saying goes, "My life may suck, but it sucks exactly the way I like it!" (self-deprecating remark is mostly humorous).

What bothers me now is the question whether I am stuck like some kind of cicada, emerging from my comfortable retreats to run around in a stressful world until I am so burnt out I need another flight from it. I wish there was something that felt less routine. Maybe I will get more independent as time goes on. Of course, worries ensue that I won't, ohgodohgodohgod, what am I going to do with my life, etc. etc. etc.

Aw heck I will probably feel better in the morning. Just had to get this out of my systems. Man, using my blog to mope about my feelings. What a 13-year-old girl I am becoming.

-Daniel Emerson

Friday, March 20, 2009

So You Want to Go Outside: a helpful How-To guide and primer on acceptable social interaction

Well, maybe the word "want" is a little strong. Perhaps, like early hunter gatherer societies, the lack of food has driven you out of your comfy, insulated nest in search of more fruitful climes. Or the single, fading light bulb that illuminates your room is dying and you are fresh out of torches. Well regardless, congratulations! You have made an important first step! The following guide will hopefully help speed you on your adventure and on your way to an exciting, exhilarating new realm.

Step 1: Put on pants.
This is key. Without them, proper social interaction in the outside world becomes difficult. Also, this serves as a good way to show yourself that you mean business. With pants off, it becomes easy to decide to stay inside after all.

Step 2: Stop playing World of Warcraft.
Yes, I know that you need to gear up to impress that fancy new raiding guild you plan on applying to because your old one collapsed, but you can play later. Well. Actually you can finish grinding those last two Crystallized Shadows for your new robes. Go on, it's fine.

Step 3: Hygiene
Also important. Take a minute for a brief assessment: have I shaved today? Will I look ridiculous if I don't? Am I smelly? Will putting on deodorant fix this? If not, does it really matter I mean I am only gonna go out for like five minutes people can just deal with it plus I smell fine. Will my unkempt appearance cause fellow members of society to view me as derelict and possibly dangerous?

Step 4: Other Clothing
As this is a brief excursion, do not get too fussed about this. So long as there are no obvious stains, that shirt you wore yesterday will do fine. You are probably still wearing it, actually, so this also saves time.

Step 4a: Accessories
For our purposes, this means cell phone, wallet, and keys. Socks may or may not be desired.

Step 5: The Door
Here is a big step. Congratulations on making it this far! The door can often be intimidating, so it may be helpful to count to a number, and vow that when you reach the number you will turn the handle and step out, JUST DO IT GOD DAMN IT.

Step 6: External Hazards
Be sure to quickly snap yourself out of the haze that isolation brings. Those cars do not stop.

Step 7: Appropriate Social Behavior
Avoid prolonged staring. Do not mumble. If someone addresses you, it is generally a good idea that you respond with something relevant. Remember, if that sandwich man is asking you what kind of cheese you want, it is you that he is addressing and you need to not spend too much time in deliberation, because most people think this question to be fairly straightforward.

Step 8: Accomplish Your Task
While you may have passed the gauntlet at the sandwich shop, be sure not to take the coward's route and return home immediately. You seriously need milk, think of all that delicious, yet woefully dry, cereal you have back in the apartment. Just buy the damn milk.

Step 9: The Return to Safety
Excellent work! You have completed your mission with minimal social awkwardness! Retrace your route to your base of operations and enjoy your sandwich as you browse SomethingAwful and write on Blogger. Do not let it go to your head though, as you will be called on again to repeat your performance at some point. Also, try to get some work done today.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Here's a thing.

Port Authority bus terminal: the land of perpetual twilight,
because, waiting at the gate, it always looks dark.
The garage through the window looks like an empty summer night,
and the lamps from the ceiling give an impression of lonely highway lights,
gleaming on a strip of forgotten road.
It feels right for a place of coming and going.
Riding the bus is so soothing,
because there is nothing for me to do except watch the scenery blur into familiarity,
city grayness to highway steel to suburban green.
Funny, I never thought I could like this place.
But the feeling in my stomach is not unpleasant.
I am happy to be back home,
where nothing happens, and there is nothing to do, and nowhere to go,
and people are obnoxious and small, sometimes.
But I am happy.
I leave the bus, my coat is not needed, the air tastes mellow and new.
Maybe it is the feeling of not fully belonging,
of being a stranger in a strange land that is appealing.
Knowing that no one knows I am here makes me free, makes me giddy.
It is like being invisible, and nothing ties me down,
and I feel like I want to walk and walk forever along a sleepy suburban avenue
that feels like spring and old familiar things, anonymous and secret.
I pass a few men outside a pub on my way,
they are already there at two in the afternoon.
I feel a little down, but I am okay.
Down the hill, past house of old friend, where I would walk to every day in summer.
Down the driveway with no cars in it to my house.
Up the ladder, which is kept there for me, to sit on my roof,
my favorite place to be,
and I wait for my parents to come home.

edit: dang it all, stupid blog format breaks up my carefully spaced thing! I spent a long time doing that! Grrr.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Wherein I try to be coherent


I do not have anything particularly profound to write about at the minute. Rather this entry is just so I don't get out of the habit of writing in this thing, and to give me something to do whilst I drink my pre-bedtime chocolate milk (I realized recently that there was absolutely nothing stopping me from buying whole milk instead of skim, so I decided to take a walk on the wild side and make the switch. Like Ian said, you know your life is in trouble if the craziest choices you make involve purchasing milk).

I have been feeling nostalgic again, going through old videos on facebook, but I have already talked about that so I will skip the details. Suffice to say, I miss folks alot! Also adding to the nostalgia factor is that I bought a D&D book at this amazing amazing game store in midtown called The Compleat Strategist. Oh my god I could have spent so much more money in that place than I did, it is so dangerous. The book is called Iron Heroes, and it has a whole varient combat system, and is a low magic setting, so no Vancian spellcasting. Now I am commited to finding a group of willing (or not so willing) participants for a campaign! I will start by combing my acting class for likely recruits.

So I have been getting the usual career anxiety, but thankfully it is in a much diminished form than how it usually is. I was thinking about it, and it seems that more and more pressure is being put on folks my age to pick something and stick with it quicker and quicker. It seems a little ridiculous that at age eighteen I am supposed to make life choices about a life that I have not really experienced yet. Perhaps I am wrong about this being shoved on us sooner than previously, cause a few decades ago I don't think I would have been concerned about having a choice (I sometimes wonder if it would be easier if I lived in an age where if Father was a blacksmith, I would be a blacksmith. Prolly not, as I am not good with dirt and lice).

I am fairly certain I am going to be making a switch in majors next year, to something like a double in Philosophy/English, or Philosophy with a minor in Creative Writing, etc. Basically, I think I would like to be a writer, but I get crazy angsty about that too, and I worry about my inability to just sit down and write. The Parents insist I should not worry about this, and do what I like and see where it takes me, which is good advice. Still I have a hard time not obsessing. Oh well, all else fails I become a monk and help people out with stuff. Or become a tiger.

Daniel Emerson

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Secret Lives of the Purple People

It was rainy that Tuesday evening, the kind of rain that felt like the universe was spitting on you just for being out of your house. The people of New York had been driven underground into the warm, slightly less damp tunnels of the subway system where, packed soggily in between emotionally dead businessmen, cranky old ladies, and hormone-crazed high school students, the Purple People sat.
Just two, next to each other on the subway bench. He wore an old Land's End winter jacket (purple), with striped pants (purple) and a hat to match. She wore a ribbon in her hair (purple), a tweed coat (purple), and a pair of Wellingtons (also purple). Both had glasses (not purple), and carried books (also not purple). (*Editor's note: try saying "purple" now. You can't!*) The train screamed along the tunnel connecting Manhattan to Queens, and there sat the Purple People, reading their respective books.
At first they did not notice each other. But soon, each began to glance over at each other, looking quickly back down as soon as the other seemed to spot the surreptitious glance. Stop by stop, the other passengers trickled out, till it was only the Purple People left in the car. Whole benches were open to them. But neither moved. Static crackled over the intercom, as the Infuriating Male Voice informed the Purple People that the train was being held momentarily by the train's dispatcher. Please be patient.
The N train slowly squeaked to a halt. They were outside now, looking over a smoky field of suburb, with factory towers rising like gray sunflowers out of the drizzle. The rain made slow taps on the roof, smudging the light that poured out of the Purple People car. Neither was pretending to read now. Slowly their eyes met. The Purple Man put down his book. Slowly he removed his coke bottle glasses. "Purple," he whispered, his grubby beard and balding head now dazzling in the flattering fluorescence of the subway lights, "is my favorite color." The Purple Woman removed her coke bottle glasses, her mousy hair spilling down in luxurious curls. "Mine too," she whispered. They locked eyes. They knew what this meant.

If you think they then professed their undying love, turn to page 193!

If you think they drew swords and swore on the graves of their forefathers to either put an end to their hated foe or else face the icy embrace of death, turn to page 196!

Bahahaha, that was a lot of fun! I dunno about you people, but I know which page I'll be turning to! Preferably, this story should be read by the smoky voiced narrator from Sin City as smooth, melancholy jazz plays in the background. If you lack such a narrator, your imagination will have to do.

In other news, I went to Comic Con and met Chewbacca! I talked to him and he said he liked my shirt! Let me repeat that: CHEWBACCA COMPLEMENTED MY CLOTHING. Were I to die right now, I would be at peace.


Daniel Emerson