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Harriet Beecher Stowe wants to know...

Does anyone know if the Earl of Sandwich story is true?

J.R.R. Tolkien Recalls...

I remember this one time I was writing, and there were like, nine pencils on the desk. And I was like, where did all these pencils come from? Remember that, C.S.?

Donne For

A new serialized adventure by John Donne

Part 1

    I woke up with a fire burning in my breast, and a smaller, hotter fire burning somewhere else. I decided to take a cold shower and think about what was on my plate for the day—and what sort of omelet I should add to that plate.

    I’m a detective by trade, a wanderer by choice, and a heartbreaker by fate. I had just settled down to a cheese omelet and the business section of The Beacon when I heard the floorboards squirm upstairs.

    Of course. I’d almost forgotten about Maggie.

    I listened to her descend the stairs, each creeeaaak impossibly slow and seductive as I imagined her long legs gliding out from beneath her robe, her dainty, arched feet sinking into the thick pile of the burgundy carpet. My fire returned, leaping from all but finished embers as the events of the previous night were ushered into the stable of my memory.


    At first I thought I was witnessing a second sunrise, so radiant was her face, so many shades of gold her hair. She wore my robe, a thick, royal blue garment that had been a present from my mother three Christmases ago. She smiled and my world folded under me like a box I’d thought to sit on but found too flimsy.

    “Maggie,” I said, around a mouthful of Monterey jack.

    “John,” she said, in her soft, baby-doll voice. “You should have woken me.”

    It was on the tip of my tongue to tell her the truth, that I’d forgotten she was here—I’m an honest man by nature—but I swallowed my bite of omelet, turned my eyes back to the declining DOW, and said, “I wanted to let you sleep.”

    “There anything left for me?” she asked, peering into the skillet.

    “Nope. But feel free to put on a pot of coffee.”

    I could feel her eyes on me, green eyes, flecked with bronze. My memory traveled from those flecks down to her pert nose, her full, rose-hued lips…down to her flawless breasts that rose and fell under my touch like a troubled sea, down, down, the flat plane of her belly, down…

    “John. D’you want me to leave?” She sounded fretful.


    “I said, d’you want me to leave?”

    I looked up at her, and there were her eyes, and anything I might have said died on my tongue in a swamp of egg and cheese, green pepper and orange juice.

    “No,” I said. “Stay.”


    I’d met Maggie last night at a bar on 51 and Lawrence. Not a bad dive, as dives go, but no place for a woman like Maggie. I was there working on a case. A bartender by the name of Joe Truskin was the only likely witness to the murder of shipping magnate P.W. Riccola in the bar's back alley—fifteen minutes after closing time. The murder weapon was a .44 colt, and the tip had been anonymous. Joe Truskin, incidentally an old friend of mine, would have been suspect primero uno, except for the fact that he was armless—literally and figuratively.

    Joe Truskin lost both his arms while stationed on the wrong side of the 38th parallel in Korea, back in ’52. He tends bar with his teeth, a feat that draws crowds from far and wide. He can balance a tray with a pyramid of 35 beer bottles on his chin. I’ve never seen anything like it. And I’ve seen plenty.

    Back to last night.

    “Hey Joe, whaddyaknow?” I asked, sliding onto a stool.

    “Donne. Haven’t seen you in these parts for a while.”

    “I’ve been traveling.”



    “That in Germany?”

    “Nope. Michigan.”

    He grinned. “You’re pulling my leg.”

    “It’s all you’ve got to pull, Joe.” I should add here that Joe is also missing his left leg. Tractor accident.

    “Oh, I don’t know if it’s all I’ve got to pull,” Joe said, looking up from the glass he was polishing with his nose. “But it’s all I’d let you pull, John. You see that broad over there?” He jerked his head toward the corner of the room, where Maggie was seated. “Now I’d let her pull anything she liked.” He winked, which was hard for him, because he’s also missing one of his eyelids—the right one, car explosion—and that was the only eye he could ever wink with. But I knew what he meant.

    “She’s a beauty,” I said, my voice hoarse with the effort contorting my feelings into such a gross understatement. She was wearing a dress the color of Merlot, a pink and white scarf in her golden hair, and dark glasses. She was the most beautiful creature I’d ever laid eyes on, and I’ve laid eyes and a whole lot more on beautiful creatures in all forty-eight mainland states and Mexico. I turned my attention back to Joe. “But I’m afraid I’m here on business tonight, Joe. Records show that you were the one closing up here the night P.W. Riccola was murdered.

    Joe’s face darkened. “I was, John. But I’ll swear to you on my leg that I didn’t see nothing. Didn’t even hear the shot.”

    “What time’d you leave here, Joe.”

    “It was five after three. I flipped off the lights, locked the door, and hopped straight home, same as always. And that’s the truth of it.”

    “Joe—” I began, about to bring up the phone call to the police, of which I’d heard the recording, and which featured a voice that sounded a heck of a lot like Joe Truskin’s. I was interrupted by a sudden alluvion of scent, like a hundred thousand lilacs had dunked themselves in the dreams of a poet and come to dance about my nostrils.

    “Could I get another rum and coke please?”

    I turned. She was there, staring at Joe through the dark glasses, holding out her empty glass. Joe leaned across the bar to take it in his teeth. “Hold on,” she said, and promptly snatched the glass back, putting it to her lips and tilting it so that a single ice cube slid into her mouth. She crunched it between her teeth, swallowed, then held the glass out again to Joe. He hopped over to the shelves. While he was fixing her drink, I spoke to her.

    “What’s your name, doll?” I asked.

    “Maggie,” she said. “And don’t let your friend here fool you. He saw what happened alright. He was the one who called the police.”

To be continued in Part 2...

Vacation in Sand-d-dusky!

Sorry it’s been such a long time since I’ve posted, but a bunch of us went on vacation in SANDUSKY, OH for a week. All that Sandusky had to offer, we accepted gratefully. We visited all five water parks (we got kicked out of Kalahari because Milton and Donne trashed the Nomad Room and Chauc threw up on the Swahili Swirl). Also Yeats tried to chat up the Kahunaville waitress, who was not having any of “Down by the Salley Gardens”. But that meant we got an extra day at Great Wolf, which has outstanding French onion soup. We saw some other sights of Sand-town as well: Teddy Wares Adult Emporium, Goofy Golf (I heart go-karts; Dickinson refused to ride in the 24 car because it’s Gordon’s number, and so we had to wait about forty minutes until she ended up in # 3). We watched a drug deal at Shoreline Park and saw Sex and the City at the unmarked cinema behind Wal-Mart (Samantha and Smith broke up what??!!!), and ate at Panera Bread seven times. We went to the Ghostly Manor, which was super lame, because duh, we’re ghosts. And of course, we went to Cedar Point.

CP was hands down the most awesome time I’ve had in my life, and that includes writing Timon of Athens. We rode everything. Well, some of us rode everything. Others, and I won’t mention any names but it starts with W.B. and ends with Yeats, were too chicken to go on Top Thrill Dragster. And some of us (cough Harriet Beecher Stowe cough) wet ourselves on the Maverick. Maverick was pretty much the As You Like It of rides. I developed a four octave range on that one. We could have ridden it again (1 ¾ hour wait)  if Hughes hadn’t insisted on riding Thunder Canyon six times. And then fucking Alighieri made us go on the Mine Ride. Why didn’t we just hop on the Junior Gemini while we were at it? is what I wanted to know. The best was Sir Walter Scott on the Iron Dragon, because he went in full armor and turned to the dude sitting next to him and whispered, “This time I shall slay the beast once and for all.” Milton alternately screamed like a girl and swore like a sailor on the Wicked Twister, and Donne tried to take off his seat belt on the Millennium Force, so they had to stop the whole ride. Only the blue car was running on the Gemini, so we couldn’t race. We ate fried cheese on a stick and got our pictures taken in the stocks in Frontier Town. We went into the Glass Blowing Theatre briefly, but Yeats knocked over a bowl shaped like a posy and the glass blowing assistant was not having any of “In the Seven Woods” so we had to duck out. Ben Jonson tried to wrestle Snoopy and Flannery lost a flip-flop on Max-Air. We were all so pooped that we didn’t even stay for the light show, just headed back to the Fairfield Inn on 250 and crashed.

The next day we tried to sneak into the park again by putting yellow highlighter on our hands so it would look like a stamp in the blacklight, but the girl at the gate didn’t fall for it, and she wasn’t having any of “The Madness of King Goll,” so we went to Blockbuster, where we couldn’t rent anything because no one had an account. But we ended up going shopping at Meijer, which was great because they have a slushy machine by the checkout. We ate at Panera Bread for the last time and watched a man smack a fish against the dock at Jackson Street Pier. Then some of us Ghost-ported back to England.

All in all, I’d have to say this vacation was the best of my life. And that’s saying something, because it didn’t even happen during my life. America, you are lucky to have a place like Sandusky Ohio in your heartland.


Here is a picture of some of us on the Magnum:

Y Hayt Doctour Jack

by Geoffrey Chaucer

Any epysood of Lost that begynnes
Wyth Jack Sheppaard's eye bodes yll, it seemes.
Thoorsday nyght Y had hooped, nay, expected
Moor Benn, moor Locke; ynnsted Y was soobjected
To shott aftyr shott of Jack's naykd torsoo,
A fyv mynute feest on that stoopid tattoo,
A seen where Jooliet shayves his bellee--
I almoost hadd to turn off the tellee;
The wymmyn admyring him for refyoosing
Anestheesia; lyke a troo tard choosing
Ynsted to watch hys apendectomee.
"O Doctour Jack, yoo ar soo manly."
Ym from the Myddl Ages - that ys nothing.
(Bygg GD deel, ever herd of cupping?)
Soo he's won Jooles and Kayt, who styll makes me bloosh,
(Heer's a seecret gyrls, yoor doctour's a douche).
Hee ends up with Kayt, hoow sooper for him,
(Y wysh the smook monster wuld tayr off hys lymbs)
And Y hav to watch him tayk her too bed -
Hee wyth hys stooble and oddlee shaypd hed -
And she wyth her byooty; alyve lyke the sunne;
She culd hav hadd Sawyr, hoo's much moor fun.
But then, hoow could any womyn reesist
Words of such tremblyng passion as thys?
Kayt, thoo to Sawyr yoor hart may be troo;
Jack's "the won hoo ys heer," hee's "the won hoo sayvd yoo."



I have a bobble-head. So does Jack Kerouac (Jack, have you seen yours? It's kee-yute.) So do a lot of you, probably. But do you have action figures, festivals, an inn, tote bags, a movie starring Joseph "the brother who can't act" Fiennes as you, and a theme park in Maruyama, Japan? What about a t-shirt displaying a crude rendering of half your face with "Where my prose at?" written across it? (Because I would say that. Tsshhhhhhhh.) The world is teeming with shout-outs to me - there are over 2,400 festivals in my honor in North America alone, and while I may have made that number up, I did not make up the profound impact my genius has had on the universe that lends the statistic the potential for truth. So much has been created to honor me that I would be a regular Jeroboam if I said I was not flattered and grateful. But nothing made me so happy as when I learned that I have a video game.

That's right. A professor at some university in Canada (figures) designed a video game called 'Speare, which takes place - where else? - in outer space. You shoot down enemy spacecraft to collect "knowledge spheres" which you can reassemble into lines from Romeo & Juliet. There's some backstory involving the Verona Solar System and a feud between two planets in the Prospearean Galaxy, and preserving ancient texts and --well, I'll let you read the intro for yourself:

The Prospearean Galaxy is named for a powerful and wise sorcerer whose knowledge comes from ancient storytelling (what??).  All resources are devoted to creating poetic codes, containing great wisdom to be used only for peaceful purposes.  The power to speak is the power to do (I did not write that).

In a universal treaty, each solar system in the Prospearean Galaxy is charged with the task of protecting the literature of the ages by constructing Knowledge Spheres to preserve their most advanced wisdom.

Peace reigned in the galaxy until a civil war broke out in the Verona System between planets Montagor and Capulon (nice and subtle), who were entrusted with guarding Shakespeare’s ancient text Romeo and Juliet (what about M4M? Or Hams?).  Distracted by their squabbles, the Verona System is left open to invasion by the ever-encroaching drones of the power hungry Insidian Army (oooohhh. How insidious.).

In the turmoil of the civil war, the drone army breaks through the Veronan defenses, capturing the precious Knowledge Spheres and plunging the entire galaxy into an age of dark despair (like the Elizabethan Age). The entire universe is affected by the Insidians’ thievery. But all is not lost. Rekindling their peaceful past in a time of great need, the Montagues and the Capulets set down their mistempered (not a word, I made it up) weapons and form an alliance in order to regain the lost Knowledge Spheres. The Insidians have left a trail of destruction (the Indians left a Trail of Tears) – traces of an ancient story that must be recovered.

The Prospearean High Council (PHC - also the acronym for the Prague Handball Cup) has chosen you to lead the ‘Speare, an elite squadron of spacecraft armed with Knowledge Gatherer Technology (KGT, also the acronym of Kinchen/Gonzales Tonight - The New Generation of Talk) and the Ultimate Knowledge Decoder (UKD, also the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal  which recently failed to secure a single seat in municipal elections in Kumaon). ‘Speare, you are the only chance (there was a guy in my grammar school whose last name was Speer, and we used to yell his name in the halls each day like this: "Speeeeeeeyuuuuuuuhhhhhrrrrrrrrr!!!). The Insidian Flagship is a dangerous enemy, powered by the stolen Knowledge Spheres, and has the potential to destroy the universal treaty of peace and understanding (what about love?). You must return the stolen Knowledge Spheres to Verona in order to restore literature, knowledge and peace to the Universe – to usher in a new age of compassion and learning (I heart C&L).

After reading this titillating prologue, I promptly signed up to play the online demo of 'Speare, available at www.apollogames.ca. Let me go ahead and make the Understatement of the Year and say that I was disappointed. It's basically Space Invaders, except every now and then while you're shooting down enemy ships, balls with words fall from the sky. Then it'll show you a line from R&J and ask you what word from the line is a homonym of the word in the ball. Oh, I'm sorry, I thought I was supposed to be saving the galaxy from the eradication of wisdom, not taking the sixth grade Proficiency Test. How the hell am I supposed to know what a homonym is?

It gets worse. The balls are supposed to be the Knowledge Spheres. So wouldn't you think you'd want to, I don't know, collect them, since it is your mission and all? Think again! If you run into a Knowledge Sphere, you sustain mortal damage to your ship. I know. I sustained 600% damage to my ship the first round, and all of it was from Knowledge Spheres. WTF?!

Every now and then, it'll tell you to use your "scanner" to read an important incoming message. So you'll press A and the game will pause, and the screen flashes a little fun fact, such as: "In Shakespeare’s day there were no sewers, so sewage and waste water would run down the middle of the streets."

Thanks, super-lame arcade game knock-off. For your information, it would not just run down the streets like Zuyder Zee. We buried it in pits or disposed of it in the River Thames, read fucking Wikipedia.

The promotional review of the game states:"'Speare fuses fast-paced online arcade game action with the curricular goals of literacy promotion using Shakespeare's tragedy Romeo and Juliet. "

Leave it to Canada to ruin my chance for everlasting arcade fame by creating something so devoid of social and intellectual vitality.

For another stupid invention, click here.

For the stupidest invention ever, click here.


W.B. Yeats Has an Announcement...

Cloverfield comes out on DVD tomorrow!

Question #2

Favorite thing you've written?


Here are some fun facts to whip out at your next Trivial Pursuit China White Edition party regarding my inspiration for The Lord of The Rings:

1) The pipe weed smoked by all characters in LOTR is based on something called Gettyweed, which is pot grown on this little tiny corner of Gettysburg battlefield by a guy named Mike Hogarth. Most of Gettysburg field belongs to the American government, but there was this dispute several decades ago when it was discovered that part of the field actually fell within Mike Hogarth's the property bounds. Seriously, it's only like a six inch by ten inch rectangle, but he uses it to grow pot (actually, he's probably not alive anymore, come to think of it. But maybe his son took over the biz). Anyway, I used to get a lot of Gettyweed imported to England. It's not really anything outstanding, as pot goes, but the historical value is incalculable.

2) "Hobbits" were actually named after my neighbors when I was growing up, the Nobbits. The word does not come, as some people seem to think, from my subconscious emulation of Sinclair Lewis's "Babbitt."

3) The whole story of Lord of the Rings is based on my best friend, who really did climb a volcano and throw a ring into the fiery chasm within. It was his wedding ring, though. His wife had cheated on him with a good-looking mercenary who later became my inspiration for Aragorn.

4) I originally wanted to end it with the eagles dropping Sam and Frodo into the lava, to show that sometimes our fondest liberators let us fall and that we should never get our hopes up. But my publisher thought that was stupid.

5) In early drafts, Saruman and Gandalf were ex-lovers confounded by the supernatural manifestations of their incredibly powerful passion. But my publisher thought this was too risque. So I made Frodo and Sam gay instead, and millions of readers pretended not to notice.

6) Bilbo's Long-Expected Party was based on my own 22nd birthday party, where someone shot off a firework and it turned into a dragon and ate a toddler, though sources tell me this only happened in my head.

7) Gwaihir the Windlord was based on my brother Hilary Arthur, who wanted to be an eagle after his class visited a bird sanctuary in Birmingham. He would slow-jog around the house flapping his arms and cawing, and one day I said, "Gwaihir the Windlord, I hereby set you free!" and he turned and flapped out the front door and was never seen again.

So there you go.



Writing Under the Influence

Following a recent entry by Charlotte Bronte, which I believe I'm correct in assuming was written under the influence of, if not cocaine, then certainly unlawful amounts of egotism. I would like to open a discussion on Writing Under the Influence, or, as I like to call it, WUTI. As I've mentioned before, I can only write in iambic pentameter when I'm high. During the Renaissance I used to lie in my ruffly bed and smoke pot or Peyote, then write for hours. Occasionally Ben Jonson would come over and we would ingest controlled amounts of alkaloids to bring on an outbreak of St. Anthony's Fire, and we would dance and dance, all the while tossing out play ideas that we would promptly forget.

I would like to share you something I wrote the other night while I was schhtoned. It describes how I feel about this ever-changing world and its vacillating occupants who seem to want to curse and embrace change simultaneously. Are you ready?:

Now crack thy whips of change and pull away,
Till one too many harsh demands is made,
And hassled steeds drag broken reins through snow--
Prostestive mut’ny in snorts of icy breath--
They’d find the path to home before you know
That lost thou art, in woods familiar dark.

Granted, after nearly four centuries of relatively low-key afterlife, I'm not quite the poet I once was. But I could never have written that sober.

I have mixed feeling about drugs. Recently, I was a spectraltator at an anti-drug fund raiser at which Shakira was a speaker. She was very convincing. I agree that we should keep kids off drugs. But I also think that once those kids become intelligent, sensible adults, they should try a little PCP. Just to see what happens.

It is a proven fact that LSD enhances creativity. Aren't we artists doing ourselves a disservice by eschewing it? Thoughts?