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29 June 2015

Tell him we love him

He has just gone in.
I am on a chair just outside.
The nurse promised to hold his hand.

They do it in the theatre
but I expect he will be sedated.
Others coming out have been.

Done. Full sedation.
I am with him in recovery.
He is snoring.

In the waiting area.
They will give him tea and toast.
He is a bit unsteady at the moment.

Everything ok.

Text replies from a hospital waiting room to messages expressing concern. Submitted by Angi Holden.

25 June 2015

auto-destructive art

Man In Regent Street
is auto-destructive.
Rockets, nuclear weapons,
are auto-destructive.
Auto-destructive art.

The drop

of HH bombs.

Not interested in ruins, (the picturesque)

Auto-destructive art
re-enacts the obsession with destruction, the pummeling to which individuals and masses are subjected.
Auto-destructive art
demonstrates man's power to accelerate disintegrative processes of nature and to order them.
Auto-destructive art
mirrors the compulsive perfectionism of arms manufacture - polishing to destruction point.
Auto-destructive art
is the transformation of technology into public art.

The immense productive capacity, the chaos of
capitalism and of
Soviet communism,
the co-existence of surplus and starvation;

the increasing stock-piling of nuclear weapons - more than enough to destroy technological societies;

the d i s i n t e g r a t i v e effect of machinery and of life in vast built-up areas on the

Auto-destructive art
is art
which contains within itself an agent which automatically leads to its destruction
within a period of time not to exceed twenty years.

Other forms of
auto-destructive art
involve manual manipulation.

There are forms of auto-destructive art where
the artist
has a tight control over the nature and timing of

and there are other forms where the artist's control is slight.

Materials and techniques used in creating
auto-destructive art

Acid, Adhesives,
Canvas, Clay, Combustion, Compression, Concrete, Corrosion, Cybernetics,
Elasticity, Electricity, Electrolysis,
Heat, Human Energy,
Light, Load,
Mass-production, Metal, Motion Picture,
Natural Forces, Nuclear Energy,
Paint, Paper, Photography, Plaster, Plastics, Pressure,
Sand, Solar Energy, Sound, Steam, Stress,
Water, Welding, Wire, Wood.

From Gustav Metzler selections, extracted 18 May 2015. Submitted by David Verghese.

22 June 2015

The very last of something

Sudan doesn’t know how precious he is,
his eye a sad black dot in his wrinkled face
his head a marvellous thing, a majestic rectangle
of strong bone and leathery flesh,
a head that expresses pure strength.
How terrible that such a mighty head
can be so vulnerable, lowered melancholically
beneath the sinister sky, as if weighed down by fate.
This is the noble head of an old warrior,
armour battered, appetite for struggle fading.

From A picture of loneliness: you are looking at the last male northern white rhino by Jonathan Jones, The Guardian, 12 May 2015. Submitted by Angi Holden.

18 June 2015

The Laughter-Lover

Why weren’t you lying down heads-up?
The best and most famous doctors in the city ordered me to sleep like this.

How do you know he’s not coming in by the other gate?
When he arrives back, will you tell him that I stopped by?

Time, my good man, to mix me some dark wine.
I’m not thirsty.
Do me the favor while I’m still alive.
How long were their necks, that they could drink from something so deep!
Have my dinner-clothes sent here.
Since you’re under an oath, here’s the fifty thousand. But throw in for free a small casket, in case I need it for my son.

Now you’re mad that you found me screwing your mother for the first time ever!
So is she your daughter?
(You have no clue who your real father is.)
First murder your own children and then tell me to kill mine:
Father, you eat the children; I’ll take mother.
(It’s polite to call her Ma’am.)
She was a fighter.
What made you do it?

The time will come when I’ll build a threshing-floor so big that I won’t be able to see you and you won’t be able to see me.
I got something I wasn’t bargaining for:
Me, now that I’m alone –
Thanks to buddies like you!
(Look after them well.)
There are a few fire-logs still left. If you want to stop suffering, get yourself cremated on them.
Because you love me.

But what if the boy dies during the night and I lose my fee?
(If he had lived, he would have been all of those things!
If he were guilty of all that, he should have been cremated while still alive.)
What’s your rate for the night?
You can choose. But we don’t have a crumb.
Do you want me to get healthy and be forced to pay the doctor?
Alas, what shall I do? I am torn betwixt two evils!

Punchlines from the earliest known joke book, the Philogelos, attributed to Hierocles and Philagrios. Translated by John T. Quinn. Submitted by Daniel Galef.

15 June 2015

Which Of These Fires From The Fire Catalogue Would You Like For Your Birthday?

(#3) the perpetual house-hold fire?
(#4) consecrated fire taken from the house-hold fire and placed in the east side?
(#7) powerful, mighty fire?
(#8) the fire that destroys?
(#9) the classical fire, belonging to the world of men?
(#10) the old or ancient fire, the fire pertaining to the stomach?
(#11) the entwining fire?
(#17) the calm, peaceful, serene fire?
(#20) the luminous, pure, brilliant fire?
(#21) the fire who is the priest?
(#22) the great, auspicious fire?
(#24) the fire consisting of wealth, or of good things?
(#26) the fire which is ethereal?
(#27) the conveyor of virtuous persons to heaven?

. . .the fire of time?
the fire of hunger?
the cold fire?

the fire of anger?

the fire of knowledge?

Fires conveying the sacrificial butter in Section VII of the Sabha Parva of Mahabharata, selected from Variants of Agni, Wikipedia, extracted 3 April 2015. Submitted by Maya Surya Pillay.

12 June 2015

The Seven Deadly Chairs



From a notice at the Central Methodist Church, Todmorden, West Yorkshire, 17th March 2015. Exactly as it appeared. Submitted by Tim Benjamin.

10 June 2015

Unexpected item in bagging area

Do you have a Nectar card?
System can be frustrating to some shoppers.
Are you using your own bags?
Growth is projected to steadily rise.
Keep customers happy.
Approval required.

Your call is currently number six in the queue. Please continue to hold.
Reduce the length of checkout lines and wait times.
Your call is very important to us, please hold.
Minimizing the stress on employees.
We are currently experiencing high call volumes.
Please call back later or continue to hold.

Please insert cash, or select payment type.
The salaries of multiple cashiers can quickly add up.
Notes are dispensed below the scanner.
Lower overhead costs.
Providing customers with the service they need.

Many customers don’t feel comfortable with the process:
Dealing with a faceless machine.
Customers enjoy a brief conversation,
Prefer to have a one-on-one interaction with cashiers.
Thank you for using Sainsbury’s self-checkout.

A combination of automated voice commands from self-service checkouts and telephone answering services, and The Pros and Cons of Using Self-Checkouts by Nick Mann, business Bee. Submitted by Andrew Walton.

08 June 2015

The Lady is a Tramp

It happened incrementally
I needed the dough
I was in a lot of trouble
I went to the library
I needed to come up with 40 bucks
to get my kitty’s, Doris’s, tests back.

I took a couple of Fanny Brice letters
slipped them in my sneakers
sold them to a place called Argosy.
They would pay more for better content.
A big white space at the bottom of a letter
after, 'yours truly, Fanny Brice’
I got an old typewriter
I wrote a couple of hot sentences
improved the letter and elevated the price.

“I have a hangover out of Gounod’s Faust”
“canny old Kraut remains one of my most cherished friends”
“a bright, talented actress,
quite attractive since she dealt
with her monstrous English overbite.’’

larky and fun and totally cool

Is it absolution she’s seeking, or admiration?

On and off welfare,
a horror beyond my talent to describe
My most enduring memory
is the odour in the elevators:
eau de desperation!

From Lee Israel, literary forger - obituary, The Telegraph, 24 February 2015. Submitted by Grace Andreacchi.

05 June 2015

Good old-fashioned idealism

It was winter,
and I went outside.

I said, ‘World,
I’m immortal.
I’ll always exist.
But you only exist because I see you.

If you don’t give me anything,
I won’t give you anything.’

Friedrich Liechtenstein being interviewed in Once an Ornamental Hermit, Now a German Media Darling by Sally McGrane, The New York Times, 25 July 2014. Submitted by Daniel Galef.

03 June 2015

Road Atlas

Austin, Waco, West, San Antonio
Carlsbad, Aztec, Shiprock, Tucumcari
Laredo, Lubbock, Winnie, Amarillo
Cortez, Santa Fe, Vail, Mesa Verde
Dime Box, Bellville, Waxahatchie, Reno
Abilene, Dalhart, Nogales, Yuma
Houston, Dallas, Kayenta, El Paso
Mexican Hat, Show Low, Heber, Ozona
Jerome, Sedona, Grants, Truckee, Tahoe
Chinle, Tuba City, Prescott, Parker
San Jose, Monterrey, Palm Springs, Pueblo
Boulder, Tucson, Flagstaff, Port Arthur
Texas, New Mexico, and then Arizona
Colorado, Utah, on to California

Places in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and California from the National Geographic Road Atlas 2001: USA, Canada, Mexico, Deluxe ed. (, 2000). Submitted by James Brush.

01 June 2015

Blind Man's Bluff

It may be some days before
relatives or nursing staff
stumble onto the fact that the patient
has actually become sightless.

The patient ordinarily does not
volunteer the information
that he has become blind,
but he furthermore misleads
his entourage by behaving
and talking as though he were sighted.

Attention is aroused, however,
when the patient is found to collide
with pieces of furniture, to fall
over objects, and to experience
difficulty in finding his way around.
He may try to walk through a wall
on his way from one room to another.

Suspicion is still further alerted
when he begins to describe people
and objects around him, which,
as a matter of fact, are not there at all.

MacDonald Critchley on Anton–Babinski syndrome, extracted 13 February 2015. Submitted by Howie Good.