Wednesday, March 25, 2009




Phil steps out of the cab. The driver looks to him and says “What, you’re not paying?”

            Phil pauses, and thinks, He doesn’t have to pay. Let him go.

            The driver thinks back, What am I, fucking insane? Make him pay extra.

            Phil grunts. He turns and hands the man two twenty dollar bills and thinks Keep the change, asshole.

            Phil is now standing in the heart of Boston, the buildings reaching into space all around him. Ahead of him is a coffee shop, and he doesn’t need his Advantage to see his mother through the glass wall. She sees him and starts waving, Phil smiles and starts toward her. As he pushes through a large crowd, he gets quick thoughts-Buy groceries-Why’d she leave me?!-Am I gay?-U2 is gonna rock tonight-but does his best to keep them at bay. His mother can usually tell when he’s messing with other people’s thoughts, even without any enhanced brainpower.

            Phil and his mother have always had an odd relationship. She has never approved of the steps he’s taken, and has always seem to regard his Advantage with a sort of irritation, as if Phil could shut it off at will. In fact, as far back as Phil can remember, his mother has been referring to his abilities as “The Unfair Advantage.”

            “Ahh! The Amazing Phil Fox and his Unfair Advantage! I pity the child who befriends you unknowingly!” Phil remembers her saying after he had convinced another boy to give him his ice cream. This memory is patchy for Phil, as all memories are for him. Phil figures it just goes with the territory; he spends so much time concentrating on other people’s pasts that he has all but forgotten his own. Sometimes he will remember himself in someone else’s good memories (and bad memories, dreams, and nightmares.) His mind will do that copy/paste trick and Phil will live someone else’s life for a few minutes. The only memories Phil can trust are the memories regarding the Advantage, and even those come in flickering lately. It all comes in like a fading radio station, you get decent-sized chunks but after awhile everything gets absorbed and whitewashed by static.

            Phil’s father died when Phil was ten, and the saddest part is that he can barely remember anything about the man. He can remember how his father looked to a tee, he sees each graying hair and every wrinkle as perfectly as you see the creases on the back of your hand. But he has no recollection of any single conversation with his father, no memories of playing in the yard or building a tree fort. The pictures in his mother’s photo albums are alien to Phil; he can’t recall a single situation.

            His mother looks at him critically when he sits down. He sees a pain in her eyes, he tries to get at it but for one reason or another he can’t even get close to his mother’s mind. It’s like she has an electric fence surrounding her thoughts, controlled by a code that Phil has never been able to crack. He tries and feels a light shock run through his body.

            “Stop it.” She says.


            “You’re using your Advantage to try and read my thoughts.”

            “No I’m not.”

            “Yes you are. I can feel it.”

            Phil snorts. “How? It’s not like you have my, um, abilities.”

            His mother rolls her eyes. “Some normal people are just in tune with it. Like how you say Gary Grubsnag can tell when you do it to him.”

            Phil’s jaw drops. “When did I tell you that?”

            His mother leans back. “Last time? Every time? Jesus, Phil, what’s become of your memory lately?”

            Phil’s eyes dart around the room. He starts to stutter. “I dunno, I’ve been busy lately.”

            She shakes her head, and they order. They have weekly lunches, but Phil can never seem to recall what occurred the previous week. For this reason, the lunches seem to run together. They make small talk, Phil’s mother updates him on his seemingly endless roster of aunts, uncles, and cousins (all of which rarely seem to ring a bell.) He shares with her what he remembers of the previous week, usually descriptions of things he ate or stories he isn’t aware he stole from other people. On one occasion he told her soberly that he took a pregnancy test and it came out positive. She laughed an empty, frightened laugh.

            “I know who kidnaped the Emily girl.” Phil says, munching on his steak.

            “Oh you did now?” She responds. “Who was it? Was it you?”

            His eyes shoot from the (should I propose oh my god what if she says no I should wait until she finishes med school or should I propose right now?) couple dining three tables away to her face. “What?” he asks, appalled.

            By the look on her face, he can tell she’s joking with him. He relaxes a bit.

            “Okay, but seriously, who is it?”

            He takes an extra eighteen seconds to chomp his steak and swallow it. “A guy named Travis, err, I forgot his last name. He is a real psychopath. He has stolen a shitload of kids, from everywhere.” He looks at her face. “You passed him once, in a long hallway at Macy’s.”

            Phil sees this instance not because his mother remembers it, but because Travis does. He’s located Travis, on a sick day off from work, and Phil is currently going through Travis’ mind like a book. He knows Travis’ last name is Collins again, he knows that Emily’s remains are still in the apartment, and he knows that Gary Grubsnag isn’t even remotely close to catching Travis, despite the pretty big hint Phil provided.

            “Oh, I passed him, did I? How long ago?”

            “Years. But he remembered you. There was something about you that startled him. Something off about you. That’s all I got.”

            Phil’s mother cuts herself another piece of steak, grinding the knife into the plate. She pops the morsel into her mouth and chews loudly. The sound makes Phil uneasy.

            “That never happened, Phil.”

            “It did. I saw it.”

            “You didn’t see anything. You’re broken. You need help.”

            Phil responds by staring at her. You’re absolutely right. His hands moves instinctively to a small blue journal in his jacket’s inside pocket. The place where he writes notes, records of events that seem to evaporate upon arrival.

            Phil’s mother continues. “There is a place I want you to consider. It’s like a rehab, but for people with mental issues. If you’ll just let me take you there-”

            Phil recoils. “What in the hell? No!”

            She glares at him. “I’m not asking you to make any decisions right now, just to consider their services.”

            “And become a patient? Let them do tests on me? Electro-therapy and other shit?”

            “They could fix you!”

            “I’m not broken!” Phil doesn’t believe a word his mouth had just spoken, but the idea of moving into a facility is more terrifying than death or prison.

            “Oh, you’re not, huh?” Phil’s mother is glaring at him.

            “That’s right.”

            She stares at him. “What’s my name?”

            Phil looks offended. “What?”

            “What’s. My. Name. Come on Phil, answer me.”

            Phil mutters for several seconds, and finally his mother interrupts.

            “You know, you could be living a normal life right now. You could live without this problem, you really could, hon. Your memory is turning to shit. If you spend any more time in other people’s lives, you’re going to forget yours.”

            Phil has become visually irritated. “You don’t know what it’s like, Mom. It’s like... having an extra set of limbs, or having an extra sense. I couldn’t stop using my powers any more than you can go a day without your eyes. Or your hands.”

            “It’s simpler than you think, Phil. I’ve been doing research.”

            Phil doesn’t think she’s telling the truth. He tries to delve into her subconscious and see what is really going on -ZAP! He feels that all-too familiar shock.

            By the look on her face, Phil knows she knows what he just tried.

            “You’re truly hopeless, aren’t you?”

            Phil gets up silently and begins to walk away.

            “You always do this, Phil! You need to cut this out!”

            That’s funny, I don’t remember doing anything of the sort. I don’t remember ever speaking to you before today.


            Phil starts off. His mother stands up, making a scene. People around him start to gawk, and this makes Phil angry. He can feel it pulsate through his body. He clenches his hands into fists, and brings them up to his chest. Suddenly, he punches downward with both hands. All around the room, plates go flying, chairs fall over, people are knocked over and winded. By the look of Phil’s mother, you’d think a hurricane wind is pelting her.

            People all over the restaurant are screaming. Helena Fox marches forward, following her son out the door, but he’s disappeared into a yellow taxicab before she can grab him. She stands there, staring at the cab as it pulls away.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What's In This Box?

"A ray of sunshine!"

"Sunshine? I LOVE Sunshine!" I reply.

"I know!" She says back. "Take this box too."

"What's in this box?"

She smiles. "Why, all-your-greatest-dreams-come-true!"

I cry with laughter. "All-my-greatest-dreams-come-true?? How'd you know?"

"Lucky guess!" She says, smiling.

This is my dreamgirl.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Note On Self-Indulgence

Kanye was the first to say we were all self-conscious, and I'm going on record as the first to be saying we're all self-indulgent.

Every single person who makes themselves a MySpace, Facebook, hosts a blog (or two (or three!)), Twitters, or whatever new form of mass-communication is on its way to inundating us, is self-indulgent. So don't act like this is some new development, don't write it off as a communication tool (because phones still exist) and don't say you only skim other people's profiles. You're assigning yourself importance.

You spend hours writing about your interests, your likes, your dislikes, what kind of socks you wear, what's going on with that zit you had on your face, everyone sees everything now. I'm like that too; I'm just not shy about it. I know what I am.

It's all about identity. An identity in the real world isn't enough. Online, you can change what you look like. You can emphathize the parts of you that you love, you can ignore the parts that don't, you can choose a completely new identity altogether! 

You know that inner-beauty thing? It used to be a running gag; something your mother told you when your outside started slacking. An excuse to not feel like a giant turd about your big nose or the large gut. A cop-out.

But I've seen brilliant poetry written by people I'd normally avoid on the street. I've seen the nastiest comments by people I've been attracted to. This is where the "real you" that was always promised comes through, for better or worse. This is pure personality. You can tell the depth of a person (or lack there-of) simply by perusing their profiles.

So if you have a MySpace, or a Facebook, gently remind yourself that it's not just a tool for keeping up with friends, it's also a little temple you've erected to yourself. Either get comfortable with that and start decorating it or delete the goddamn thing.

PS: Stacy Dash = mega-hot. And KEL MITCHELL WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN???

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I Wrote This Tonight. Not Sure What To Do With It.


It’s just all too easy to forget for Phil. Once you learn more about him, you’ll see why this is surprising.
He stands in his livingroom, staring at the wall. He wants to do something today but he can’t for the life of him remember the thing that had been bopping through his mind all morning. It had been bopping through his mind as he went for a run on his treadmill, hopped around and around as he ate breakfast and took a shower. As he sat down on the bed and got dressed, it just escaped him, left him like a businessman leaves his lover-on-the-side in the middle of the night.
And this is where we meet him, Phillip James Dean Fox, sitting on his bed, one sock on, the other in his hand. Phil’s mind is searching, trying desperately to recapture the thing that had been so easy not five minutes prior. He lets his mind wander, and suddenly it begins to hone in on things on the street. Stray thoughts, stranger’s feelings, hopes and fears and worries all come rushing in. 
For instance, the old woman sitting outside his second-floor window is currently depressed that more and more clumps of her hair are falling out, so she wraps it in a bandanna. Phil takes a moment, looks into her future and sees a doctor giving her suggestions for hair growth formula. She’ll take three different kinds before one actually works. He thinks for her, nudges her. Buy some Regrown, it’s a hair loss product. It will work.
More waves of information come at him, and he bats most of them off. He sees through the eyes of people he’ll never actually see, but no one has discovered what it was that had him preoccupied all morning. 
Suddenly, he looks–with his own eyes–onto the floor, where a newspaper lays. The big headline shouts “GIRL TAKEN FROM HOME” and all at once he is reminded. He slides his second sock on, and pushes his feet into his shoes. He leaves his apartment, turning off all the lights with a simple thought.
He has decided that where he’s going is too risky a place to bring his car, so he flags down a cab. He flags it down not with a wave or a look, but a mental promise made to an unlucky cab driver: This guy tips 200%. The yellow taxi almost takes out a jogger in its struggle to get to the sidewalk. It pulls up and Phil gets in. In a few moments, the driver will think This guy doesn’t have to pay me and although his mind will offer no rationale or reasoning when coming to this decision he will decide it nonetheless. This decision will be unquestioned until the driver gets an angry call from his boss later that night, but Phil makes sure that the boss’ ultimate decision will be to keep the driver employed. The driver’s name is Robert Sufft, he has three kids and is divorced, Phil knows this despite the fact he hasn’t said one word to the driver the entire time they’ve been driving. The driver knows exactly where Phil wants to go without being told, because he was told, just without words. If anyone were to ask Robert about it he wouldn’t remember the man, the ride, or anything else about these precious thirty-three minutes the two have spent together. 
Robert gets out in a neighborhood in a small suburb outside of Boston, and immediately feels discontent flowing overhead like electricity. The woman who lives next door is terrified for her own daughter, and is currently on the phone with a security system company. Ahh, how easy it is to consider such a thing now, after you’ve seen horror in action, Phil thinks, and inside her house the woman considers this for a second and thinks back Better now than never to no one in particular. Phil laughs. I’d probably do the same thing too. The woman does not find this amusing, and at no point does she even consider that the interrogator is anything else but her own self-conscious.
Across the street behind him, Phil is listening to an angry man yell at his wife while their two boys play out of earshot in the yard. “This goddamn neighborhood isn’t safe! Let me buy a fucking gun!” he screams, slamming the table, “Why the fuck are you hesitating like this? Do you want our boys to be kidnaped like Steve’s kid across the street? Do you want to go through that?”
The wife (her name is Merita–strange name, but Phil likes it) buckles against the wall and throws her face in her hands, crying. Phil takes a moment, and looks into the future. He sees the father purchasing the gun, hiding it away in a shoebox in their dress closet, he sees it sitting forgotten for a good seven months. Finally, Phil sees an inquisitive boy (Spencer–he’s older by two years, he is only eleven but he’s already figured out how to masturbate and he dreams about kissing Peggy in his class) reaching into the box and finding it. He sees Spence (that’s what everyone calls him, Spence) take it out and aim it at his younger brother (Danny Jr.) and pull the trigger. He sees the aftermath, the crying, the screaming, the divorce proceedings, he sees Danny (the currently screaming father) attempting to shoot himself with the exact same gun, but he dismisses it. He takes the image of Spence shooting Danny Jr. and plants it in Merita’s (Phil still loves that name for absolutely no reason at all) brain. Merita begins to get upset about it, she sees it so vividly! Phil tells her Don’t waver, and don’t let him bully you into agreeing to get it. Merita makes up her mind, stops crying, and stands up, ready to combat her husband. 
Phil could have tried to implant the thought in Danny Senior’s head, but mind-messing with people in the middle of a passionate rage is dangerous. Sometimes it results in Phil getting a good dose of SHUT THE FUCK UP WHO TOLD YOU TO SPEAK YOU DUMB ASS FAGGOT BITCH FUCK and other profane rants that usually leave Phil with a twenty four hour-long headache. Sometimes the rage proves contagious and Phil finds himself in a terrible mood all day. Either way, it’s better to fuel someone else with an equally passionate rage and watch them duke it out from the safety of his mind’s eye.
All this has happened, but Phil only stepped out of the cab a minute ago. He is walking up the driveway, hopping over yellow POLICE LINE: DO NOT CROSS tape and entering the house. About thirteen different people witness this but will have no recollection of it later. Phil walks into the house and admires the nice furniture, waiting for the full story to hit him. He gets it in fragments like a bad radio signal; he sees a girl, he sees a window being broken, he knows the kidnapper’s name is Travis and that Travis knows the family. He knows the girl’s name is Emily and that she is terrified but inquisitive, he can’t yet see how Travis knows the family and he can’t see Travis’ face for some reason. 
It’s like on crime shows when they blur out the face of a person for one reason or another. Phil tries and tries to locate the man’s face but all he gets is the face of the comedian he saw on TV last night, Louie something. Ugly guy with bright orange hair and a gigantic bald spot, hates kids. His mind has copied and pasted the comedian’s face onto Travis’. It’s a problem that develops, Phil can barely control it. When he can’t get the whole picture his mind will fill in the blanks when things that seem to fit. One time he witnessed his deceased father raping a woman, and he laid awake staring at the ceiling for a week after.
Phil moves from the livingroom down towards the girl’s bedroom. He starts to get the picture clearly; Travis CK is actually Travis Collins, and works with Steven, Emily’s father. Travis isn’t an amateur at this, he knows that immediately. He can feel the thoughts Travis left in the house walls, he can see over three dozen struggling, terrified children, all dying the same exact way.
Emily is one of these children, Phil knows that as soon as he enters her room. He knows that she died exactly five hours and fourteen minutes ago, he doesn’t know how or where. He looks at the broken window, and he sees Travis’ real face for the first time. He sees
SMASH! Travis enters the room almost supernaturally fast. Despite the fake limp he uses at work, he is in top physical condition and climbs through easily.
Emily wakes up, screaming, but Travis is immediately there to silence her. He holds the cloth over her face and watches her pass out.
Phil is standing there, in her doorway, watching it all happen. Like always, he tries to intervene, but his Advantage is useless in past situations. He can only observe the past, not mettle. 
He knows that Travis has wanted Emily since meeting her, which was two years prior. Travis has been planning this one for nine months, this is the first time he has been so bold as to steal the child of someone he knows. Usually he grabs them at the mall or stalks a random family for a week. He became obsessed with forensics at a young age, and uses his knowledge as his own Advantage. No one will know he was there.
And the best part? He’ll get to see Steve’s pathetic face when he finally returns to work after weeks off as he at first searches frantically for his daughter and then copes with her loss. But Travis doesn’t give a shit, Steve deserves it. Steve, who delegates all his responsibilities down the line. Steve, who seems hell-bent on promoting every other fucking person besides Travis. Steve, who called Travis “Pervis” after he caught Travis whacking it in the company bathroom. The worst part? He didn’t even fire Travis, just kept him around. A year of snickers and whispers from his coworkers, a year of PERVIS being written on sticky notes and left anonymously at his cubicle, it was even scratched into the side of his car! Steve will never have another happy moment again in his pathetic fucking life, but life from here-on out will be pretty sweet for Travis.
Phil sees him pick up the girl and scamper out the window. Phil sees Travis move slowly when he’s at work and hesitate a lot, but now Travis is moving with precision and grace. He gets her out the window and bolts for the car, clearing the front yard in record time. 
He drives her to his favorite spot and
-all that he needs to see.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Thing About Bo Burnham Is

He makes his brand of genius seem effortless. Could I be as talented or witty as Bo Burnham? If you watch any of Bo's stuff, you might think so. He has this awkward charm that allows him to deliver these fucked-up lyrics without that cruel sting of "but what he's SAYING is terrrrrrible!" He makes the idea of the owner of a rape whistle company wanting more rapes to happen so he can sell more rape whistles cute.

When I first heard his music last summer, I hadn't seen the videos and I thought he was easily in his mid-thirties and imagined this creepy ass motherfucker singing awful and hilarious jokes. I mean, look at Stephen Lynch, he's even more inappropriate and he has a menacing look on his face half the time, making him a bit uneasy to watch. Sure, you'll laugh, but you'll feel guilty about it. When I first saw Bo, I couldn't believe he was A, younger than me, and B, so intelligent for his age. It was a sucker-punch to the gut, like "LOOK AT WHAT HE'S ACCOMPLISHED, FAT-ASS. HOW ABOUT YOU START PUTTING SOME EFFORT INTO YOUR WRITING AND COMEDY, AND MAYBE YOU COULD GET A MOVIE DEAL WITH JUDD APATOW." 

There's this subtle genius to him that scares me. It simultaneously inspires me to be better and reminds me that it's impossible. As far as pre-25 success goes, I think Bo Burnham is the one to beat. He got where he is not because of ties to another star or a fickle relationship, but because of hard work and true talent. I need to be this good.


My schedule is killing me. I mean, it's truly just leaking the air out of me slowly, like a knick in a tire. Luckily I have two days off, and no school this week.

I haven't told anybody this, but I've dropped two classes this semester. I'm beginning to realize how much of a workload I can handle. None of the classes I'm taking are remotely exciting or motivating.

My job isn't awful, though the hours are shit. I actually enjoy it, I'm starting to connect with some of the people. Or at least I think so? I always seem to be let down. The reason I don't go out of my way to make friends is that I'm tired of being let down.

Hopefully, with this mini-vacation I can make headway into poetry memorization, and maybe outline something important and writing-related.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Song Of The Day: I'm Going To Go Back There Someday

This looks familiar
Vaguely familiar
Almost unreal yet
It's too soon to feel yet
Close to my soul and yet so far away
I'm going to go back there some day.

Sunrises, nightfalls
Sometimes the sky calls
Is that a song there?
Then do I belong there?
I've never been there but I know the way
I'm going to go back there some day.

Come and go with me
It's more fun to share
We'll both be completely at home in midair
We're flying, not walking, on featherless wings
We can hold on to love like invisible strings.

There's not a word yet for old friends
Who've just met
Part heaven, part space
Or have I found my place?
You can just visit, but I plan to stay.

I'm going to go back there some day
I'm going to go back there some day

2 Things.

1. Full time school + full time work is killing me.

2. I have a solid idea for a book. More on that later (if I decide to be unlazy.)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Song Of The Day: The Devil In The Wishing Well

The Devil In The Wishing Well

by Five For Fighting

I met Jane at the center of the earth
It was dark there was dirt all around
But I gather you can figure that

Jane says I'm your body in the night
And I'll lead you where you might find yourself
Better if you follow me

So go right you'll be left at a big hotel
You'll meet the devil at the bottom of a wishing well
You know you better give him something
Give him something good
Like everybody else he's misunderstood

Jane says it's a long way out...
I'm gonna make it out
Cause I'm about her

Jane says, you're as Holy as a ghost,
But who loves you the most, if you offer
I might let you carry me

Jane there's nobody here but yourself
In the end it's the wealth of your spirit
Now hurry up get on with it

I went left I got right at some big hotel
There was a devil at the bottom of the wishing well
He said you better give me something
Give me something good
Like everybody else I'm misunderstood

Jane says it's a long way out
I'm gonna make it out
Cause I'm about
Jane says it's a long way out
I'm gonna make it out

I took a guess and cut a portion out of my heart
He said that's nowhere close enough but it's a damn good start
I wrote the secret that I buried on the wishing well wall
He said I've seen one... it follows that I've seen them all
We spoke of human destination in a perfect world
Derived the nature of the universe (found it unfulfilled)
As I took him in my arms he screamed I'm not insane!
I'm just looking for someone to understand my pain...

It's a long way out...
I'm gonna make it out.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bittersweet (poetry?)

A couple nights ago, I taped myself performing two of my poems in front of Scotty and Matt. They went fairly well, I know what I'm good at and where I need to improve (one thing I do is a move called the Weeble Wobble, where I pivet from right foot to left to right to left to right and on and on forever. If you watch the video, make sure you've taken your epilepsy medication because the small flash of black as I move back and forth across the screen like you're looking at me with one eye closed and constantly switching eyes, closing one at the exact moment you're opening the other, is probably going to fuck with your head.)

Also, I'm not posting either of the videos. Yet. I want to wait, there are too many improvements to make before anyone else sees. I can see myself becoming something great (see below) but it's a long road and negative criticism is something I can only take from myself right now and no one else. Trust me, I'm very good at pointing out my faults.

I also have been watching shyteloads of spoken word videos on the internet, and I want to know if there's anyone awesome that I'm missing. Matt turned me on to Taylor Mali who, oh my fucking head, is like the end-all be-all right now. He's one level I'm aspiring to. Another is Mike McGee. People who aren't just funny, but can make you think, make you wonder, cause a wave of emotions to sweep over you--all in one single poem. Below are a couple of my favorite videos. I aspire to be this.

Do you know any poets that I would like?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

New Theme.

Politics and I have a love-hate relationship. I lose interest in it for long periods of time. New format coming very soon.

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