befuddlement, bewilderment, bemusement, b+ average

Sunday, December 11, 2005


What a charming monk.

I'll remind you of an encounter with a monk that I had many months ago.

Today at the very same location, I was approached by a different man. "Excuse me," he said, "Are you coming from that direction?" He pointed down the street. I replied in the affirmative. "Well then you're qualified!" I laughed; he won me over. He was just asking for donations to feed someone or something, and even had a monk ID card. Coincidentally, my pockets were filled with jingling change because I was trying to shed a few pounds of coins that I had accumulated, and had no use for. I didn't really want to plop a pile of forty 5 pence coins down at the counter of Starbucks, so it all really worked out, didn't't?

So goodbye England.

Friday, December 09, 2005


Having defeated all the silly academic deadlines that were curbing my free time, today I found myself wandering the streets of Oxford with no particular ambitions. There are a dozen small shops nearby that sell shirts and sweaters and other things emblazoned with the Oxford name, and I hadn’t really had much interest in their wares, as wearing a shirt that so prominently displays the university name while living within that university seems unnecessary, unless you feel the need to assert yourself to the tourists and baristas as being a bona fide, tshirt-purchasing student, so I hadn’t in all of my three months here found myself inside any of these shops. And I didn’t find my own feelings on the subject to be changed on this particular day, though I felt an inking of an obligation to purchase something, whether for me or as some kind of tourist token for someone back in the motherland, so I went in to have a look.

Pretty standard fare, you know, shirts and pens and key-chains and all that. Nothing too stunning, and as much as I enjoy a good key-chain, their prices would have only been reasonable if they had been selling actual thousand-year-old bricks from some Norman castle on a keyring.

BUT I clearly wasn’t looking close enough. Upon a more intense survey of the pens and coasters, I found the most wondrous pieces of artisanship that you can find in a giftshop: novelty cigarette lighters!! I won’t directly embed the photo here, so as to not ruin the fantastical suspense that you surely felt just before you clicked on ‘novelty cigarette lighters.’ Were you disappointed? You better have not been, because those are amazing little things. They make fire, you know.

I didn’t realize, at first, what the basket of little soda cans, beer cans, and tiny cigarette boxes actually contained. Some of them had ‘Oxford,’ and some ‘London,’ written on the sides. Maybe I was just stunned, and couldn’t comprehend the beauty that was quickly being smudged by my grimy fingers. After a moment of reflection, which may have been a few moments, I understood. They were cigarette lighters that looked like things that aren’t lighters. And they say OXFORD on them. Ohhhhhhh I get it!

First of all, we have a lighter that is vaguely shaped like a Coke can, and is appropriately colored and decorated. Of course, in place of ‘Coca Cola’ is ‘Oxford.’ Their approximation of the Coke typeface is a little lackluster, but hey, you can’t expect those old lighter designers to be masters of ALL trades. It also features a picture of a glass Coke bottle, altered to resemble Big Ben. They stole my idea! I knew I should have patented my bottle clock. So anyway, it’s a Coke can, it says Oxford, and it lights cigarettes. They also had Budweiser-esque beer cans, which almost made more sense in a booze-and-cigarettes sort of way, but I chose Coke. Actually, though, it doesn’t work. No fire. Seems to be lacking fuel, but I think if I was intrepid enough, with the right supplies, I could refill it. Then I’d have a flame-throwing Coke can that says Oxford on it. Of course, since it doesn’t work, that means it’s a gift for someone. Yay!

Next is my preferred lighter: the little box of cigarettes. It also says Oxford, this time in Camel ciggish writing. A camel is front and center, and he’s dressed as a royal guard, or whatever that variety of guard is called. Look at ‘em! He has a pike, and a hat, and even little royal camel shoes, and is watching over his scepter’d isle. In place of the pyramids and palm trees are the Tower bridge and the Tower of London. This particular camel has a tower proclivity. The back features other tourist traps that I never really got around to going to, but can now enjoy on my lighter. To top it off, the trigger to spark a flame looks like a couple protruding cigarettes. Ahhhh. So, yes. A lighter that looks like a box of cigs. Did I mention that I don’t smoke?

Come to think of it, the clerk only charged me for one. There are a few very plausible reasons for this: 1) She was stunned by my foreign charm and couldn’t possibly charge me for everything, 2) She pitied me for buying a dozen cigarette lighters and pens, and thought that maybe if my only pleasure in life was novelty lighters, she could brighten a poor soul’s day, or 3) She mistook one of the lighters for an actual box of teeny cigarettes, or a teeny little disproportioned Coke can, and though I was just setting them down while we did our business. I imagine it was a combination of all three reasons.

Thursday, December 08, 2005



Tuesday, December 06, 2005


There was a swan on the sidewalk, eating a piece of bread off the concrete. It didn't seem to mind the noise of the traffic. A few minutes later, when I was walking in the opposite direction upon completing an errand, as I was returning to my hovel, a man was embracing the swan, carrying the birdy away; the bird's head, on the end of its snake-like neck, was bobbing up and down in conjunction with the man's gait, in a manner communicating that it was entirely satisfied with the world. The city-swan's feathers may have been a tad more yellow than, for example, those of the pristine white birds inhabiting the park outside Buckingham Palace, but the trade seems fair, considering the availability of half eaten deli sandwiches on the shores of the city street. I, for one, praise the quacker for the decision to lead a more urban, and, if I may say, trendy lifestyle.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


My gosh.
I found a digital midget village.

Actually, Mickey from Seinfeld, otherwise known as Danny Woodburn, once said something about how 'midget' is not the preferred term, too sideshow attractiony, yada yada yada, and I'll honor Mickey's request.

I found the digital equivalent of a lil' people village. I know, you might be turned off by the fact that 'digital' means I didn't actually find anything, but hear me out. I was wasting time on, which is of course one of those social networking sites where you look at pictures of people you've never met and befriend thirteen year olds; the front page provides a few random links to random people. Always a source of unfounded interest. I clicked on some lady, who had a particularly dry profile, but I noticed that all her friends were... small. She herself was not. Upon clicking the dwarfen links to the minifriends, I found that all of these people had mostly all-dwarf friends. This was a thrilling revelation to me. I had found a social network of mini people. I've always wondered how little people meet other little people, and now I know: they use myspace.

Is it terrible of me to be fascinated by a group of people based solely on their physical characteristics? Of course it is, but I've always wanted a little friend. Is that so wrong? I think I'll send them a message that says "HEY U LLOOK REAL SHORT U WANT 2B FREINDS IM A GOOD PERSON?? OK THNAKS BYE" and then we'll all be very happy.

I've recently been referring to myspace more than I'd like, but I blame other people, as these other people have been communicating with me through that website for some reason, in recent weeks.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Sass in a glass.


A bus, a reflection of a dress, a reflection of me, and the examination school behind the bus. How 'bout that.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


I find it to be quite a challenge to walk down a busy city street with an umbrella. An open umbrella, mind you, held over my head. I feel that this is a fairly locational thing, in that it varies from location to location. That is, if people aren’t too hurried and the street isn’t too crowded, I can manage an umbrella and maintain my rickety dignity. (Rickety Dignity, by the way, is the name of my new band; it’s an experimental marimba ensemble. Look us up on myspace!!1! ROFL LOL JK HHAHA KEKEKE :P). [That was a myspace rhetorical appeal].

Umbrellers. I seem to often walk faster than many of the pedestrians out there, and somehow there are always people speeding by me. This means that I have to watch where I’m going and to watch out for people who aren’t watching where I’m going. You know? You have to maintain your personal space and not pop other people’s bubbles; personal bubble maintenance, whether yours or there’s, I suppose, is the same thing. I pride myself on my ability to navigate through a crowd without so much as brushing a sleeve against a single black-plague-ridden stranger, but have found myself facing new challenges when holding the complicated umbrella machine.

For one thing, the umbrella creates a canopy which is significantly wider than your necessary personal bubble. When passing by people who are shorter than you, this is not much of an issue, as they will simply glide under your awning with little fanfare, like the humble gnome people they are. But, I, myself, am not terribly tall. With an umbrella, I am a significant risk to those who approximately share my height, and to those who are taller. I have to intently mind the height and angle of my umbrella so as to not slice people with its razor-like claws, and to not bonk people with its menacing polyester. Then, when umbrellas are out in full force, in full canopying force, I have to try and not to get involved in umbrella duels. But bonking someone else’s umbrella with your own is a much lesser offense than bonking their bare head, so that’s kind of an afterthought in the whole umbrella maneuvering issue.

So anyway, this was much more interesting in my head.