Italian-Americans of Earth Origin

Both are Italian-Americans of Earth origins and as such themselves represent a foreign influence on Mushroom World. Mario, in particular has been an iconic figure in all events of political significance in Mushroom World and the Grand Finale Galaxy as a whole. Opinions differ greatly as to whether his influence has been a benign one. While he indeed saved Princess Peach, Toad and other notable leaders from various threats, it is also known that his enormous wealth (in the form of Gold Coins) has been accumulated through non-conventional means and further, that he made extensive use of asymmetrical warfare techniques in combating what he unilaterally perceives as threats to the status quo. These techniques include the use of incendiary munitions, growth hormones, camouflage and dimensional shifting, amongst others. He is known – indeed famous for – ritual drug use, specifically mushrooms, in persecuting his attacks on others.

Fricatives, Plosives

The deliberate choice of scat syllables also is a key element in vocal jazz improvisation. Syllable choice influences the pitch articulation, coloration, and resonance of the performance. Syllable choice also differentiated jazz singers’ personal styles: Betty Carter was inclined to use sounds like “louie-ooie-la-la-la” (soft-tongued sounds or liquids) while Sarah Vaughan would prefer “shoo-doo-shoo-bee-ooo-bee” (fricativesplosives, and open vowels).

Repeated head injuries

In an interview, David Hellman (of A Lesson Is Learned But The Damage Is Irreversible, my guiding light in endless seas of balsamic vinegar) said the following when asked about which of the comics were his favorites:

My favorites are the ones that capture some romanticism, yearning or pain, and convey those feelings with immediacy and mystery. Episode 13, in which Dale suffers repeated head injuries, achieved this, but the drawing has not aged well. (Other favorites: 14, 15, 18, 21.) I want readers to be moved and entertained, but also perplexed. I think one of my favorite kinds of experiences, which is ultimately what I hope to share with my work, are moments when I delight in something while also feeling confused and frustrated by it. Humans are able to perceive and experience incredible beauty, but our imaginations, or maybe simply our natures, push us on to want even more. That’s why some of the most vivid moments of life also contain sadness.

I like it. As for mystery: although I usually think that confusion and ambiguity are overused and weak stand-ins for actual content, I don’t mean to wage a war, not least because that would be hypocritical. In the context of their comics especially I really agree with this quote, that there’s something special about the feeling that something is not quite complete (often something that we imagine – probably falsely – would be perfect were it complete). This partly explains why we like the Venus de Milo and its cousins. Oftentimes some element of imponderability (!) is necessary.


(7:52:43 PM) berna: so?
(7:52:50 PM) berna: i am feeling so sad
(7:52:55 PM) berna: all my body feels sad
(7:53:10 PM) berna: even my fingers eyes eveywhere i feel sad
(7:53:19 PM) toby: you just wrote a tiny poem

Global Village

Georgian coast near the Turkish border

I woke up in a van coasting along an empty road in Georgia, and not long later when we passed a little village a Georgian kid my age jumped on. Clean cut and amiable. He spoke no English, and communicated by quizzing me on who I thought was hot. “Britney Spears?!” he asked, and gave me a grinning thumbs up. “Madonna?!”

He showed me on his cell phone a video advertisement for the Georgian army, then a Georgian music video. Then photos of him in military fatigue with his Kalashnikov – he had been in Iraq. He wanted to buy my watch and kept gesturing to ask me how much I would sell it for. He was still in the army, presumably on leave, but since he was heading from the countryside into Tbilisi with a big duffel bag I guessed that he was returning to duty. All Georgian troops have been withdrawn from Iraq, so he’s probably in Gori right now, or who knows?

Ports of Less Importance

I left a pair of shoes underneath your bed? I don’t think I’m missing a pair of shoes underneath your bed. What’re they like? Maybe I’ve forgotten about them like a sailor forgets his bastard children at ports of less importance.

A friend, secretly a poet


Okay, I don’t know how it came up, but we were stretching each other’s cheeks, the three of us. “You can’t do it with mine, there’s nothing there,” she said. I grabbed my cheeks. “They’re so stretchy!” she said to me. She grabbed my cheeks. Then, “Aw, you have dimples!” she said next. She grabbed my friend’s cheeks. They stretched. “No, I bet you can stretch them,” I said, grabbing her cheeks. I couldn’t stretch them. They were lovely smooth and beautiful yet the moment I let go I realized they were at the same time creepily plastic. I couldn’t tell whether it was nice or disconcerting. Is this what your skin is like when you apply a pharmacy of chemicals to your face every morning? Does she even do this? Maybe she just has really nice skin is this is what really nice skin is like. Or maybe her skin will never wrinkle when she gets older because there will be no skin left to wrinkle, it having been supplanted by… whatever.


Let’s see what happens if I cut it down so much that there’s not enough to make sense or not make sense.

The folks in the street keep shouting and the birds at night don’t stop singing: there’s a waterfall not far from here that pauses once a month to take a breath. That might be what the clouds are saying as the sun chases them away. It can’t help that the night won’t stop descending, but the wind picks up and not even the cynical can keep from flying. I’m a fool, not naive. But you’re drunk, not confused, so you don’t know what it means that the sheets are always tangled and the pillows are on the floor.

The result is that it doesn’t make sense.

Willow Trees

We have willow trees? Two folks with acoustic guitars are nestled in the branches just below where the umbrella bursts. Not very interesting. The two are each on their own small rock jutting out of the ocean about 20 feet off the shore of Cavo di Patresi on Elba. It’s a crappy music video. One of them has a drumset, he’s at the foot of a small staircase off to the side of the pews, drums on gargantuan stones. The other guy still with his guitar, hanging upside down from the archway, obscuring a bored looking cherub wrestling a unicorn. The only ones to hear their music are benign Zeuses staring in some direction, and a few wispy women in wispy robes with passive faces.

No. One more. Both with guitars again. They’re on a chessboard, appropriately sized, each a pawn on the edge. Two old men in mid game watch the board as if it is about to come to life (they don’t notice two small guitarists). Flecks of snow dawdle amongst the pieces. The board is a table, checkers almost worn off, and the pieces belong to the rough leather pouch crumpled to the side, frosty. The two guitarists shrug, and continue.

The Red Dress

Girl in a red dress plays on a red carpet on the sand, band of grey sky, band of white foam (rising), band of blue water, band of pale beach. Limp ugly creatures limp around the girl playing. Red armchair off askew facing the water. Achey on the side of my bed I can lean over (my bed, of course, suspended in air on the invisible second story), and watch the girl. When it rains I get wet and she does not.

So we go swimming, one step off the sand and I’m in the deep end, deeper; where’s the continental shelf? I also have problems finding the quotation marks, apostrophes, commas, and especially @ signs on each new keyboard. Sheep drift bewildered in the rolling hills under water. The sand, beach, and earth, like a wall, approach and recede with each wave. Makes sense to me, and maybe the girl (the limp creatures are still limping swimming along beside her).

I’m sinking of course – did you know how much there is underwater? There’s this futuristic city, bubbles and domes and enormous glass windows. But the lighting is only okay, the artist had a specific color palette in mind: only the blue has made it down here. People are walking around, their hair drifting wildly weightless behind them, their clothes as if suspended in a stiff breeze, the flags always unfurled. Here, you know, there are waterways everywhere. Canoes, water taxis, and mattresses pushed along by lanky men with long sticks drift through the streets. Look, there is a market, with color! Must be artificial lighting. Shawls are shimmering curtains of tiny shells, tunics are woven seaweed, coats are sea cow leather studded with sea anenomes.

I approach the market. There is a red carpet, limp creatures, a red armchair askew, (knocked over on its side). There’s my bed, the sheets are in disarray. The girl bursts into a flock of bright shiny fish. I shouldn’t do this again.