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sideways in the light
The perfect knife for a murder, the 9-inch Hoffritz chef's knife that was the knife you bought when you left home, kept sharp enough to boldy split infinitives on the exact right sort of sharpening steel after nineteen years of constant honing, resting gently on a nicely-seasoned wooden cutting board instead of those stupid plastic ones that dumb, disease-panicked suburbanites think will save their darlings from salmonella.

The premeditation, the purchase, an unblemished block of the best thing in the world to do with a dead pig, scrapple, made by those wizards at RAPA and cut into perfect slices exactly 5/16ths of an inch in thickness and laid out to wait while the pan's heating up. The egg, laid by the prudish chickens in some isolated Amish farm near Port Tobacco, and always brown, the intended offspring of a Rhode Island Red or a Plymouth Rock, never the thin-shelled, diseased white supermarket nastiness produced by the filthy, shit-smeared industrial Leghorns that agribusiness farms love so much. Real butter, only, and if you're in a whimsical mood, it's in the kind of box where you can artfully cut the knees off a kneeling indian maid and tape them under the box for a little old-skool infantile burlesque (tee hee). Real bread, not that fucking awful white wretchedness that might as well be created by some kind of foaming process, or its cousin "wheat" bread, which is the same damn thing, just with brown color added, for people who think they're picking something healthy. If there are French people baking nearby, something of theirs will work, or a nice, substantial sprouted wheat bread.

The murder scene, a French spring steel crepe pan that's never once seen dish soap or an SOS pad in nearly twenty years, except for that one time when you nearly murdered your helpful ex in cold blood as he held up a perfectly shiny silver pan to show you how clean he'd gotten in, scrubbed only with coarse salt and seasoned so lovingly that, in a house fire, you'd have to think long and hard about whether to grab the pan or the dog first. Never, ever teflon, Silverstone™, or those ridiculous glass pots and pans that looked so cool at the Hechts kitchen department sale. It's exactly the right temperature, warmed over a gas flame and never, ever the cloying, unstable heat of one of those wretched glass-topped E-Z-kleen ranges (if you can't abide a naturally spattered kitchen, eat out).

The crime, the scrapple placed in a sizzling four-way configuration, with the rounded sides out and the four pieces arranged like a swastika, even though you're not a fascist, except in the kitchen, and there's water boiling in your old Corning kettle for tea (made in a teapot) and everything's speeding up, coming together all at once, with the toast popping out of a toaster (not a toaster "oven," which do awful things to good bread) just on time, and the scrapple's turned and watched and set on paper towels to drain and the egg's gently cracked on the edge of the fridge where the paint's worn away from years of cracking eggs there and dropped into the sizzling butter, and tended and watched until it's the perfect moment to turn it, the perfect moment to take the sharp edge of a real steel pancake turner (never a plastic idiot flipper) and break the membrane of the yolk to let the warm yellow suffuse the egg just enough, and then it's all over, assembly time, the scrapple and egg and butter and toast all coming together at once and you'd love to sit down at the table and eat like a civilized person, but it's just too much to ask, so you season (with salt and freshly ground pepper instead of the stale stuff most people confuse with pepper) and stand there, holding the sandwich so that the yolk doesn't trickle onto your hand and eating like it's the end of the whole damn world.

It's perfect, you finish the pot of tea, strap on your ipod with the perfect playlist and stride out into the cool blue dawn light and walk through the town that's been your home for thirty-five years and it's breezy and pretty and pleasant and the music's so loud that it makes you nearly hallucinate, and though it's likely to cause hearing loss, you're just getting less and less interested in what anyone has to say anymore, anyway, and you do your two mile circuit, climb the stairs, and find that the phone's ringing and so you pick it up, even though the time tells you that it's one more bill collector.


"Can I speak to Joseph Wall?"


"This is Beneficial/HFC calling in reference to your account, sir."

"The whole corporation is calling?"



"We're calling in reference to your account, which is seriously past due, and we need to schedule a payment at this time."

"No you don't."

"I'm sorry, sir, but we need to schedule a payment at this time."

"At this time?"

"Yes, sir."

Where's that hearing loss when you need it?

"What if I don't have any money?"

"That's all well and good, sir, but we need to schedule a payment."

"You're in luck, today. I've earned some money recently."

"Can we schedule a payment, then?"

"I'm working in reflectoporn."

"Pardon, sir?"

"Reflectoporn—you know, where you photograph yourself nude in front of shiny things and then sell them on ebay. I'm making quite a living at it these days."

"Umm—pardon? Sir, we need to schedule a payment."

"I can't."

"Why, sir?"

"Because I sent you a check yesterday."

"So I can put this down, that you sent a check yesterday?"


"Do you have the amount of that check?"

"I do until you cash it, and then I'll have less."


"Sorry, ma'am, I think the dog's on fire again."


So I polish off the pot of tea, and though I'm humming like a tuning fork from all the caffeine, I'm still dreaming of a nap, where I'd curl up on the couch, hugging the pillow I call by name, and drift into a fever dream about some insane thing, but I'm afraid it'll be that recurring dream where I get hit by a car when I'm walking because my ipod's too loud and I die and go to heaven and it turns out that god is actually Rip Taylor and he throws glitter at me to make the moment seem magical, but it just gets in my eyes and hurts real bad and I ask if there's someone else who can help me, and Jo Anne Worley turns out to be my fairy godmother and I look to god and my fairy godmother and I can't stop crying and asking where they were when I needed them, when things were so fucking awful that all I could do was cry and hide from the world, and they just shrug and it turns out that they were busy taping Hollywood Squares and I wake up all sweaty and angry and realize that I've wasted a whole damn hour when I could have been writing or working on carpentry, so I take the whole flight of fancy as a message and get to work.

I sit down, right here, at the nicest keyboard in the whole world, a Matias TactilePro that cost a bloody fortune, but feels exactly right and sounds like ten desperate chickens eating grain off a hardwood floor and I start my routine of work and chaos, where I set my clunky old Gralab photographic lab timer for thirty minutes, work hard for that time, then set it for another thirty, where I do housework and loll about, over and over all day until I've made some headway on my book and my things-to-do list, and I've got the critically-disliked soundtrack to 1984, which seems oddly appropriate and bzzzz and bzzzz and bzzzz and I'm falling forward in thirty minute increments and I don't have the time to feel lonely, not now, not like it is in the endless twilight time before I finally fall asleep each night with the same old movie playing on the DVD, and all I can do is keep those chickens pecking, keep on rushing forward into a future I can't fathom, and so I beat on, one little boat against the tide, borne ceaselessly back into the past, and that's as good as it's gonna get.

The timer buzzes and it's time to change gears again, and I step away from the keys and head for the sink and my breakfast dishes and it's all just perfect, just perfect, as much as there even is such a thing.

item 3: write something on LJ

I reach for a card from my Oblique Strategies deck and it says "Do nothing for as long as possible," which makes me chuckle, albeit bitterly.


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(Psst: Your links are all funny. As in the Oblique Strategies one looks like this (and the rest follow the same pattern):“”)


LJ's been doing weird things with my links, which look okay in the original document, but translate oddly when they go live. I did an edit in BBEdit to try and clean them up, so they might work now, I think.

All better now.

I figured it was something weird that your posting client did and as such you were unlikely to see it.

FYI: we own the same chef's knife.

it's a sign.

Maybe we're supposed to duel with 'em, like in the video for Billie Jean, or just co-dice.

let's tie our wrists together with a really pretty scarf and dance around like Julia Child and Martha Stewart.

An apt image. Did you ever see that Julia and Friends episode where that goddamn Stewart was making a wedding cake and talked down to Julia like she'd never made a cake before. Jail wasn't enough, dammit. I wanted her to get the Oz treatment (sssssssss!).

The whole thing about using the drinking straws and acting like Julia was just some wino she picked up in the alley behind the studio.

I was livid.

Sometimes I'm nervous that you will visit and find out that I do everything wrong.

Aww, honey, I already know how wrong you is (and it's delicious, I think).

First, you made me achingly hungry for some scrapple. You cook it exactly the right way, regardless of what some of the yokels around here say ("thick and mushy" my fat ass.) People seem to be as divided on how to properly cook scrapple as they are about politics.

Then, you made me laugh very loudly. I'd love to see the notes on your account at Beneficial/HFC. And the whole Rip Taylor/Joanne Worley thing is just classic Joe Wall. Though personally, I always liked the idea from the Scott Thompson/KITH sketch in which they state that God looks like Oprah. But that's just me.

They may be divided, but only my way is the right one...

I do cut it a little thinner when I'm making an egg and scrapple sandwich or putting it on pizza, tho.

Every time you write something, I am a little more happy to have Friended you.

Of course, now I have to pay the price - I'll be walking around with the word "reflectoporn" in my head for days. And likely I'll end with it in l337 sp34k - i.e, r3f13c70pr0n.

Oh, my.


Don't get me started on all the insane fetishes that the internet seems to have launched.

Joe, for our next lifetime promise to be my uncle or aunt. I am not sure I could deal with you as my kid, sibling, or parent but I want to be related to you.

Seems to already be true, don't you think?

Ya know.

I think you're right. :)

I'm hiding my eggs in shame next time you come over.



Still, you're a wonderful writer. Thanks.


You're welcome.

These days, it's just one mention on Stern or in some similar venue and suddenly there's Yahoo groups all over the place.

Saturday night? We can cook out or go out

Hey, just starting to get caught up and I caught this reply. Can't do Saturday (hideous family obligation looms), but maybe Sunday? Thanks for keeping me in mind, hon.

You have that dream, too?!

I don't recall ever seeing scrapple here in California, and I've never eaten it. Beast parts that don't get thoroughly disguised as sausage or or cold cuts, or made into pet foods, frequently end up being sold whole in the various ethnic viand emporia, and even in chain supermarkets in the more cosmopolitan neighborhoods. I recall seeing whole swine heads displayed in the butcher case of my local Market Basket store (a unit of Kroeger) when I lived in Los Angeles. An adventurous friend bought one once, and tried boiling it. Her house reeked for weeks thereafter. She'd have done better to hunt down some scrapple, I'm sure.

RAPA actually will ship it westward, packed lovingly in dry ice, but it's best experienced at the hand of a good scrapple chef. Next time you and I are on the same coast, I'll introduce you.

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