The Thousand Men

The thousand men were silent, their eyes focused like lasers on the king Shaka in front of them. He paced back and forth, serious and thoughtful. The valley was silent. The birds and rabbits had run away after the thousand men had arrived in the valley. Occasionally one of the thousand men would rest his spear on his shield. The clatter of spears against sheilds was the only noise in that rocky valley on that cloudless day.

   

The Journey

They jumped up in unison, with all their strength, eyes focused on the stars above, one hand each reaching upward. Since they were angels, they didn't return to the ground - they kept rocketing upwards, away from the horizon, into the heavens.

   

Why Fight

Egil opened his eyes. The gods had given him another day. He could tell by the light streaming in through the slats in his barn wall that he had awoken late, closer to midday than to dawn. He couldn't remember what would have made him sleep so long, or why he had slept in his barn. His favorite donkey looked at him, and he looked back.

   

Lawrence Tries

They say that New York is the city that never sleeps. Maricopa was more like the city that hits snooze five or six times, takes long naps, and has a TV by the bed to make sure it never misses its favorite reruns. Even the mild climate seemed to indicate a relaxed attitude to life, as if the local seasons couldn't motivate themselves to work up any extreme temperatures or serious weather events like the ambitious, go-getter seasons in other towns. But it advertised itself as a friendly place, and that's what made the man think it would be a good place to commit crime.

   

A day at the market

She pushed the cart forward along the rocky path, reaching out to steady it as the wheel went over some bumps. It was before dawn, and even though this was usually a warm part of the country, the damp air chilled her fingers as she pushed some flowerpots back towards the center of the cart. She had never sold her flowers in this market before, and she would have to remember not to take this path the next time she came.

   

The Readers (full text)

The academic life aims at a certain kind of dignity. Certainly that's the impression you get if you hang out with academics. They take themselves and their place in society seriously, and are often to reluctant to laugh at a joke that's not sufficiently highbrow. The reluctance to laugh freely is always what made me suspicious of academics. What kind of person, I wondered, would give up one of life's greatest pleasures merely for the sake of some imagined social prestige?

   

The Readers, part 4

(Click here to read part 3.)


Mislavsky was different from his roommate in a few important ways. He didn't have the nervous fidgets of a typical maladjusted history student. His hair was styled and his clothes looked expensive and harmonious as if he actually knew how to dress and put effort into it. He was able to make eye contact and grip my hand firmly to shake it.

   

The Readers, part 3

(Click here to read part 2.)


"So what's your impression so far?" my partner asked earnestly.

   

The Readers, part 2

(Click here to read part 1.)

   

The Readers, part 1

The academic life aims at a certain kind of dignity. Certainly that's the impression you get if you hang out with academics. They take themselves and their place in society seriously, and are often to reluctant to laugh at a joke that's not sufficiently highbrow. The reluctance to laugh freely is always what made me suspicious of academics. What kind of person, I wondered, would give up one of life's greatest pleasures merely for the sake of some imagined social prestige?

   

The X

I was just trying to clean up, because I thought it would help me feel better. There was a knife out in the kitchen, and I picked it up and tried to put it away in the knife block - one of those wooden blocks meant to hold knives of all different shapes and sizes. As I pushed the knife in, I met more resistance than I had expected. I thought it even made some high-pitched noise as I pushed it in, but maybe that was just my imagination. Maybe I had put the knife in at the wrong angle, or maybe there was some kind of debris stuck in it.

   

I miss November

I miss November
and I miss the way you kissed me.

I thought if I were free
I could be strong, and brave
too. Instead I find myself
an ineffectual knave.

A slave to fashion and
ambition, doomed to
strive for phantoms weakly,
womb to tomb.

The right striving is
to find the proper shackles.
There is a limit that can
umlimit, a relieving yoke.

   

The Killer

Dispatch told us that there was a report of a murder. Since we were the closest officers, we went to the address they told us as quickly as we could to catch whatever evil people were responsible. If you had been in the situation, you would have done the same.

The ride to the site of a murder is always long, even if it only takes a few seconds. You never get used to it: the thrill of the hunt, the flow of adrenaline, the mental preparation for a grisly scene and a confrontation.

   

The Strivers

[Silvio, Henry, and Ezra are sitting together at a table in a kitchen.]

SILVIO: Every morning, I wake up and try to decide whether to get out of bed. The sun sends its light millions of miles just to slip through my blinds and try to penetrate my feeble eyelids. I wish I could send the light back where it came from, or convince it that it's not worth the trip just to wake me up.

   

The paradoxes of a laughing God

Umberto Eco’s masterpiece novel The Name of the Rose has a critical plot point centered around a debate about laughter.

   

The great conservatives of Western literature

The political Left dominates some of the important institutions of Western society today. Besides controlling mainstream media and higher education, the Left is powerfully entrenched in the world of the arts. To get a grant, a museum showing, a book deal, or a good review from the intelligentsia, it helps to be a leftist.

   

Photo Feature: Ikebukuro street

 

tokyo number dos

Tokyo is a quiet city. The low birthrate ensures that obstreperous kids are rare, and strict standards of conduct tend to ensure ensure that people don't bother their neighbors with loud music or wild parties - these needs are satisfied in centralized karaoke emporia.

   

Soft and Squeamish

One Christmas morning, years ago, I woke up and found myself in Malaysian Borneo. After delightedly taking note of the date and location, I decided to celebrate Christmas in the style of the locals. In the Dayak regions of Malaysia where I then resided, all holidays are more or less the same, and are observed by engaging in the serious business of visiting and hosting. You choose some portion of the holiday in which you will serve as a host, feeding and entertaining all of your visiting friends.

   

Going to California

I recently flew to San Francisco for a job interview. A friend of mine, who had recently moved to San Francisco herself, was kind enough to pick me up from the airport. As she drove from the airport to my hotel, her phone was plugged in to her car speakers. The volume was so low that I think she didn’t even notice that music from her phone was playing. Whether intentionally or not, the song that played on repeat during the entire trip was “Hotel California” by the Eagles. I didn’t want to complain or distract her from the road, so I just let it play.

   

Fiction: Adhiban

God loves average people, and that’s why he made so many of them. That was what I always told myself in the moments, not-infrequent, when my own mediocrity was painfully evident. But of course it never really comforted me. I always secretly wanted to break free from averageness, to achieve some remarkable and awe-inspiring thing, to impress my friends and family and graze on the greener grass at the right end of the bell curve.