When a friend loans me a book, I keep it for an amount of time I think it might take someone who
knows how to read to read a book, and then I give it back.
When my friend asks me what I thought of the book, I say something
like “beautiful” or “…rectangular”
which, I’ve learned, might sound vaguely literary while at the same time
accurately referring to the physical object of the book itself. Moby Dick, for example, I described as“Very heavy. And hard to swallow.” My friend
never said anything about them but I wonder if she noticed the teeth marks.
My friends are an intellectual bunch. When I visit my friend
William’s house, for example, it’s expected that I will peruse his bookshelves
with a furrowed brow and a scrutinizing look. William will rush over excitedly.
“I’ve got just
the one for you!” he will say, “I’ve been dying to know what you’d think of
it!” And he will extract a book from somewhere and hand it to me and I will
look down at it and flip though a few cryptic pages and say something like
“hmm.” Then I will take it home and add it to my collection.
It used to worry me, this whole routine, but now I’ve truly
come to appreciate everything about books besides what they are about, of which
I have no clue.
A book might be “benign” or “painful” depending on how it
feels when I drop it on my bare foot.
I taste one page, and then the next. I pause for comparison.
“Bitter at the beginning, sweet towards the end”; “pulpy”; “mild”.
-- And when I examined my inky tongue in the mirror: “dark.”
“Incisive,” I might say, or “dull” depending on how well the
back cover slices into a semi-soft cheese.
“Inflammatory” if it makes my neck sore after I use it as a
“Deep” I'll say if my fish, Damien, likes it. But I don’t toss
that word around. He’s very selective.
Unfortunately the amount of abuse and destruction applied to
the books I borrow has only further convinced my friends of my absolute love of
reading. They just keep giving me more.
I built myself a small side table out of their books, upon
which I rest my coffee in the morning while I sit in bed and make origami from
the newspaper, which still gets delivered. Because I don’t know how to make it
stop, but also because of which I’ve become quite good at origami.
The other day my neighbor and I passed in the front hall and
he noticed me recycling a newspaper.
“What do you make of the election results?” he asked.
I held up the tattered paper. “Eleven swans and a tugboat.”
I was watching the dogs at the park from the top of a tree
through my binoculars. My strategy was that if I watched them from up there I wouldn't get bit. Well, I wasn’t wrong. The minute I fell from the tree (20-30 feet),
whacking through limbs on my way down and breaking my own on impact – I got bit by a dog.
You go in to get the money while me and Charlie wait in the
car, engine running. When you come out a very short – too short of a time later,
you tell us that you decided to not rob the store and instead purchased oreos. Charlie
leans over the seat, tentativeness in his voice. Did you get Double Stuf? He
asks. You reach into your coat and pull out the gun and place it on the seat
between us. On top of the gun you place a package of (yes) (YES!) Double Stuf oreos.
Score! Shouts Charlie, and we sit in the parked car and eat them, engine
Not to brag, but I really feel like the mother of the Halbot.
She was mostly my idea. My co-creator was part of the deal,
but when it comes right down to it I think I get most of the credit.
I drew up plans and schematics during my lunch break a
couple afternoons in a row, and spent more than a few cocktail hours imagining
the actions she would be able to undertake given our limited budget,
rudimentary supplies and limited knowledge of Halbotics.
I went to the library a couple of times. True, I had some
overdue books, but still, I went.
Part of the brilliance of her design was that she was
streamlined, built for limited purposes. Not stuffed with useless parts and
levered-joints and components that would only rust and decay and require
replacement – if they could even be found. Let’s just say that the shelves on
the black market aren’t stocked quite as reliably as Walmart’s.
Some of my friend’s bots were doing crazy stuff from the
moment the factory pumped them out, screeching bundles of frayed and wayward
wires and rods, nodes and nodules. But Hallie was a dream newbot. Long thin grippers,
art-deco frame, built-in beret holder (I was pretty proud of that idea).
Her little midbot storage cabinet was stocked with to art
supplies from almost the moment she was completed, and early on it was clear
that her central computer had been properly calibrated for so-called “creative”
The beauty of botness is that this type of preprogramming
can appear so …shall I say … unplanned.
All the effort toward streamlining worked, too. It meant
that we couldn’t expect some of the work out of her that other botfams got. Like
housecleaning. Don’t expect an artbot to pick stuff up off the floor. They’re
not designed for it, in fact don’t have the specific joint flexors that would
allow that type of maneuverability.
Quite simply, the Halbot is designed for long-term, reliable
production of seemingly random and wildly creative (if they only knew!)
production. The genius behind it: It’s a factory piece, but seems so
real-life-artist in almost every respect. The colorful clothes, the hunched
intensity, programmed mood swings based on actual histories of the Parisian
masters of old.
Pretty clever, right? Not to brag, really … but I think so too.