Known time bandits:

· horror movies.  This falls under the ‘guilty pleasure’ category if I felt any guilt about it.  Any Manichean struggle is incomplete unless it involves decapitation via machete, high-pitched screams, zombies, or fingernail-related trauma.

· cats.  Please play with me.  Please feed me.  Please let me outside.  Please rub my belly.  Please lie down next to me on this bed that I have thoughtfully make comfortable by pre-kneading the cushions for you.

· vacations.  Not the vacation itself, but the hours of planning beforehand.  For a year now, Matthew and I have debatedlocales for our upcoming summer sojourn:  Ireland, Poland, Scotland, Croatia, Britain.  Today, the current front-runner is Portugal, but tomorrow — who knows?  We briefly talked about Greece, but between the civil unrest and insolvency, I leave it to Randall, the larcenous dwarf in Time Bandits,  to sum up the situation:   “Stuck in Greece.  Lowest standard of living in Europe.”

· student papers.  It will make many more lifetimes than I have to teach everyone that therefore and however are not Superglue conjunctions to hold sentences together.

· talking about films.  After watching a film, I spend at least four hours thinking deep thoughts.  During that process, I draw fascinating parallels, make startling observations, ponder earth-shattering existential questions — but still end up writing about cats.

· refinery burn-off.  On the way home from Philadelphia tonight, after a midnight show of The Human Centipede (see:  horror movies, above), I dealt with the usual impediments in Center City:  girls wearing skirts too short to sprint across the crosswalk; guys pulling up their shirts to flag down cabs, their hairless bellies sliding prematurely into the flaccid rotundity of middle age.  They would have had better luck suctioning ‘Baby on Board’ signs onto their stomachs.  On I-95, just past Exit 4 towards Chester, a factory burned off waste gases through a smokestack.  The evening was hazy with fresh rain; the lights overhanging the highway were smeared with mist.  But the fire lit the clouds behind it orange, a clear flame bright enough to make the horizon glow neon.  It was trying to burn a hole right through the night, to reveal daylight on the other side.  I wanted to rush home, grab my camera, and rush back, park on the shoulder, and stand on the roof of my car and take pictures.  But I realized:  that’s ridiculous.  A waste of time.  Better to leave it as a fleeting image — one impossible to capture.  Merely another moment stolen out from under you — that second you take to ease your foot off the gas pedal and turn your head to watch the sky flicker with fire.

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