Tuesday, November 13, 2018


After three weeks I was finally well enough to walk to work once again. Winter had come since I'd last been out, the trees were now bare and gray, the walks full of ice, and there were the kind of bitter temperatures one can get used to, but it takes some serious time and commitment to do so. I left early enough so that I could travel sedately, wrapped up as much as possible. And as I so often find when I'm walking I have ideas, lots of ideas..

They were all kinds of ideas for blog posts, but as I thought about them I found I didn''t want to write about any of them. 

So the turkeys came to save me. Wild turkeys of the city. They were running and jumping. I have only ever known these turkeys to be sedate, thoughtful, contained, but today, in the new cold and bare world they were rambunctious! They were full of fun. They were laughing in the face of Thanksgiving. They were leaping foolishly for the fruit from trees two feet higher than they could reach. They were racing each other. They were gamboling! And why not. I counted them again. Nineteen. The same exact amount of the group when I saw them back at the end of summer. 

One might think it a hard life, living wild in the city.

Not for turkeys. Nothing can kill them. They are young forever.

Monday, November 12, 2018

How to get rid of moths

When the average person has some unexpected emergency these days the first thing they are inclined to do is search it on the Internet. And even though we all hate the Internet, we mostly don't know that we hate the Internet and thus we heavily rely upon it. A recent study has shown that when someone lops off their forefinger in a kitchen accident the first thing they do is type in a Google search:

"Wat do I do we I cop off figer?"

To Google's credit, because people cannot type the letters m,n,h,j,y, and u without their right forefinger, the above search is immediately recognized as "What do I do we I chop off finger?" which is good enough to direct one to a useful answer, but still so willfully stupid that one can nevertheless feel superior to the famed search engine despite having just wildly maimed oneself while merely trying to slice a carrot.

But I digress.

The problem is, as you well know, that though the Internet has all the answers people have come up with for all problems, people haven't actually come up with very many actual, usable answers for problems. At least not ones that work. When I was magnificently sick with the flu recently I could search the Internet all I liked for how to get or feel better, but there was never any reasonable answer other than

1. Drink fluids.

Which is good advice despite not doing much to make one feel better, and

2. Nothing.

Yes, you heard me. There is no two. It's just basically

2. You'll probably get better. But doesn't it suck?

And here is why the Internet is evil, or broken, or not your friend:

The proper top search for "How do I get better quick from the flu?" should be

1. Clerkmanifesto.


"What to do if you have the flu?"

1. Drink fluids. It's a good idea for not making things worse, but it won't make you feel much better.

2. Nothing else. Do whatever, but it doesn't actually matter or make a difference. You'll probably get better eventually, more slowly than you think. It sucks!

3. You can now read all the other bullshit on the Internet.

Why do I bring all this up?

We seem to have a little moth infestation. It's hard to tell. We blame some walnuts from a rogue, and frankly evil online walnut seller. We killed three moths that apparently came from the pantry. But we found no infestation or any infected food to speak of. Still, we precautionarily threw away some food that could, hypothetically, be a problem. We looked moth infestations up on the Internet. What did it say?

I don't know, something like "Wash everything. Vacuum everything. Throw away everything."


I could have guessed that.

I made a chocolate mocha latte and wrote this blog post. I'm hoping that will take care of the problem.

You can now read all the other bullshit on the Internet.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Addams Family and the Munsters

I have a t-shirt of The Addams Family. It doesn't say anything on it, it's just them, Morticia, Gomez, Pugsley, Wednesday, etc., in an in-the-know chibi version sort of way, which is to say they're all sort of short and cute. I wear it to work at the library. After all, I'm all about promoting our collection and quite a few books, movies, and TV shows we have feature The Addams Family. Well, I'm all about promoting the good parts of our collection. I merely try to be tolerant of the rest of it.

A woman came up to the front desk with her gaggle of children. Somehow, in all the activity, she spotted my t-shirt. "Look kids." She cried. "It's the Munsters!"

The Addams Family was a work of genius, in which a dark vision of the American family, anarchic, accepting of strangeness, interested in death, was revealed to be shining with love and beauty. It is one of the rare, truly healthy families depicted in a featured way in American culture, and the genius of it is that it is shown as the shadow of what we are and strive to be.

The Munsters are a generic sitcom family except they happen to be Monsters. It was a gimmick, like some TV producer looked at the Addams Family and thought: "They're missing out on a really good gimmick with all that grace and strangeness."

"No, this is the Addams Family." I corrected the woman. Then I went and got her two collections of the original New Yorker cartoons and season one of the TV show.

Hopefully her family can still be saved.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Top ten items on this list

Why, you may wonder, has it been so long since I have done a top ten list on this blog?

There are ten reasons I no longer do top ten lists on this blog.

1. They are too easy!

As a master blogger I find I have to challenge myself. A funny, easy to read list of ten items might be a pleasure to you, but for me it leaves me feeling unrecognized for my genius. Whereas if I write something weird, complicated, and difficult, my persistent obscurity seems a creation of my own willful obstinacy.

2. Their glib, giddy nature causes me to let my guard down and speak too frankly.

Did you read the explanation for item 1? That was an earful, eh?

3. No matter how good one is doing, one always comes to item three on the list, a mountain still to climb ahead, all one's best work so quickly in the past.

No explanatory content for this one. Don't you think it's self explanatory. I was thinking it was self explanatory.

4. I'm in this weird, creative eclipse.

I plod on waiting for some reconfigured vision to burst from my heart, but in the meantime, if I could come up with ten list items I'd probably better turn them into ten blog posts.

5. Item five always ends up being just a pale echo of item 3.

Did you read item three? Did you just discard it as an item on a top ten list? You might want to rethink that. It was a high water mark.

6. I'd forgotten how freeing it is.

It's funny no one reminded me. Might I direct your attention to our comment section.

7. I'd misplaced my chart on how to space things.

Is it one line between the numbered item and the explanation, with three spaced lines to the next number? Does it matter? 

Yes it matters! Of course it matters!

8. Ten is a lot.

Ask any nine year old. No, seriously, ask any nine year old because I don't know any and I'd like to know if I got this number eight more or less correct and I feel they'd be insightful.

9. (Eaten by seven)

10. What's the point. I could never come up with ten items for a top ten list these days anyway.

Wait. Seriously? This, this is ten? Why, I am deeply moved! What a journey. Thank you. Thank you all!

Friday, November 9, 2018


And so Winter comes to clerkmanifesto. The storm windows go in and all the blog's topiary is covered in burlap. We conserve energy and try to stay warm. It's just me and the last five readers once ag... wait, lost one, it's four readers. Four readers! Whatever. I have written giant blog posts in my time. I have won the Internet, Nobel Prizes, Bob Dylan's friendship, and Wisdom itself. Yes, I won wisdom. But I can't find any of that now. There are no great blog posts in my history, just a road that disappears into the forever behind me. I am packing lunches for the geese flying south. I am lowering my heartbeat. If I come across a last punchline or two I put them in a bag and shove them to the back of the closet. Wake me up if I'm about to do something good.

The golf course I keep a constant eye on has shut down for the winter too. People will play in the Spring once again, but it's worth remembering that when they do nobody will be any better at anything.

Have you noticed that all your dreams have come true? Well, not all of them, rather a small, almost completely random assortment of them. And this Winter we will dream new dreams. Who knows what will happen.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

New trainees

On the new trainees assigned to work with me for an hour:

I am very tired. I am still getting over my multi week flu. I am still seized by sudden desires to nap on shelving carts. Sometimes I let loose a chain of coughing. I cannot help train these new people. They will just have to fend for themselves for this hour they are assigned to me.

Well, I'll just say one important thing I think they should know.

(55 minutes later):

Thank god this hour is over. I have talked so much my voice is shot.

Fine. Let it be on them if they don't turn out perfect.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

My point, exactly

People often ask me "After writing thousands of blog posts, everyday for over five years, don't you ever get burned out?"

Yes, yes. I am burned out right now!

But let me tell you a little story.

I was shelving in fiction at my library and a woman came through looking for a book. "Ach" She said. "Sometimes I have such a hard time with the alphabet."

"Alas." I replied. "The alphabet does not change, but we do."

People sometimes ask me, after hearing this story, "What's your point?"

There's supposed to be a point?

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Everyone in their place

It is 2:45 at the library and no one is where they are supposed to be.

A complicated public institution, like the large library I work at, runs on reasonably detailed schedules. But even more so it runs on a lot of workers generally being wherever they absolutely have to be and then doing whatever the hell they want the rest of the time.

I was talking to a volunteer, though I was supposed to be shelving. Another person who was supposed to be shelving was looking at things in the donation room. A third person who was to shelve in non fiction was walking around looking important. The person handling the giant automated self check in machine was... missing. The person on the phones was in the break room, looking for something decent to eat, even though there wasn't anything. Our front desk staff was in the Circulation office.

And out of the corner of my eye I saw a manager. He looked kind of upset that no one was where they were supposed to be. 

It gave me an uneasy feeling.

And then I realized that he was supposed to be home. 

It was his day off.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Dungeons and dragons

Because early voting is still taking place at our library, some of our regular events have had to be bumped out to other rooms in the library. This is how the Dungeons and Dragons group ended up in one of our more distant rooms, a room that can be fairly complicated to give directions to. A couple of teenagers came up to find out where it was being held today, and I went through the usual speech: Upstairs, to the left, left again, all the way through the fiction to a big magazine/seating area there, and then kind of behind you, in a glassed in room, the board room. It's in there.

But by the time the third kid came to ask I was prepared. I had scrounged up some graph paper. And when they asked where the Dungeons and Dragons was being held today I whipped out that graph paper and went to it:

You go three squares South and four squares East until you come to a Staircase. Halfway up you will meet a +2 Fire Kobold. If your Wit roll is high enough you can trick him into telling you the password. If it isn't he will attack you. At the top of the stairs you will find a small, locked treasure chest with a password inside. Head eight squares North to a Goblin run shop, affectionately known as "The Reference Desk". They can sell you computer passes, passwords, and scrap paper. Pick up at least one password if you didn't crack the treasure chest or the Kobold. Head 17 squares West, through the "Pillar of Tomes". It might be worth your while to search out spell books in there, though it can be tedious and you need high Perception to spot one. Deal with some low level Orcs and you might pick up a decent leather jerkin. Six blocks North from there will take you to the Board Room. Use your password. God only knows what will happen to you in there.

I didn't mean to go on as long as that, but this was to someone who plays Dungeons and Dragons. It probably was like an instant to them.

Sunday, November 4, 2018


Any artist is going to want to be circumspect about political endorsements, especially an artist as imaginarily influential as myself. But though the specificity of an endorsement is dangerous to art, which partly must exist as an entire Universe of itself, there are moments where the artist (me!), must take a chance, when life is in the balance, and say:

All this wisdom has real world implications.

Of course Sauron, for instance, is just a fabrication, a work of the imagination, but if one cannot recognize a little bit of him in, say, Vladimir Putin, what was the point in rooting against him in the first place?

And with that in mind I offer this election endorsement:

I support good.

I urge you to do the same.

You know what good is.

No, under that.

No, under that too.

Keep going.

Yes, yes, under that.

There you go!

Recognize it?

It's you.

Vote for you.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

I thought flu week was over

Yeah, me too.

We went back to usual business here with an ill-tempered rant at Republicans and how they would be almost tolerable if they'd just stop voting. Or at least I think that's what I wrote about. The fact is that everything I do these days is still all kind of blurry and hallucinatory. Today was my first full day back at work in two weeks and I'm so terribly, terribly tired.

So I don't know. Flu week is over and it isn't over. It flickers in the late fall lightning storms. It writhes in bed, moaning in the damp, twisted sheets, and it sits up in a pretty leather bar chair watching the city's light bounce around in a gin and tonic it swirls in its hand.

Flu week is forever.

Here is my dream: a very fancy, high-end cologne, in a gorgeous, blown glass vessel, etched in an elegant font:


for men

it smells like nothing

Friday, November 2, 2018

Sure, vote

Early voting is going on at my library all week, and people are pretty into it. There have been some long lines, a great deal of interest, and a generalized sense that it's all very important. And everyone is so circumspect about the whole thing, like the voting is the thing, not so much what is being voted for. Everyone can agree that voting is very important. Get out there and vote. Everyone says so. Did you vote? Good for you.

It's like we're playing at Democracy.

As far as I'm concerned if you want people to vote just make them vote. You can even do it in some stupid, idiosyncratic American way, like, you get 500 dollars for voting. There's your hundred percent turnout right there. And so, according to this scheme, if you're 16 or older you vote. It doesn't matter if you're in jail, or the hospital, or Katmandu. Voting is not a privilege, or a responsibility. It's 500 dollars! Get in there.

And as for all this happy get out there and vote stuff. C'mon. Who thinks that? Of course it's all very nice if you've thought critically about the issues, came to conclusions, and voted. But almost half these people are voting Republican. There's no virtue in that. Seriously, there just... isn't. Can't they hate Immigrants, Blacks, Jews, Women, poor people, themselves, and Muslims quietly at home?

Well, no, I guess 500 dollars is 500 dollars. 

At least I couldn't fault them for that.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

154 naps and counting

Boy, when one is sick one really has to work up their strength to write a blog post.

Oh, you didn't know I was ill? Just a little GIGANTIC Flu I've mentioned a few million times here over the past week and a half.

I call it flu week.

But you could have easily missed it. Most natural thing in the world. Everyone needs to recharge their clerkmanifesto batteries occasionally. Flu week is actually a pretty good time to do it. I mean, there has been a lot of discussion of phlegm.

People, I have found, are not 'round the clock in the mood for phlegm.

I'm not so sure I'm in the mood for phlegm either right now.

But it is totally in the mood for me! 

Ha ha ha ha cough cough (long coughing fit that hurts my head a lot).

And that's all the strength I have for today.

I now need 155 naps.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Still flu week?

So is it still flu week?

Oh yeah, totally. Today I have this terrible headache that feels like a cleaver is being slammed down on my skull when I cough.

Oh, do you, er, cough much?

All the time! Except now they tend to be these feeble little fake coughs because the real ones are so awful I have to work up my pain tolerance for them. So I sort try to trick myself into thinking "That was totally a cough!" And sometimes it works, sort of.

Did you stay home from work then today?

NO! I went for four whole hours before packing it in. Everybody said "You look terrible." which was strangely gratifying. I am finding I prefer it slightly more than the dubious but trying to be optimistic "You look like you're starting to get better." But I like both of them.

You have been profoundly ill for more than nine days now. Why are you so cheerful?

I don't know. I really don't know. Do you wanna see my Halloween outfit?

Sure, what is it.

Here. It's a giant bloody cleaver that goes right through my skull! I got it in Tivoli. Even when I wore it there all the Danes stared at me and laughed.

It's... very nice.

It's just exactly how I feel.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Flu week: Day infinity

Cough, cough, cough, cough, cough.

Oh, hi. 

I didn't hear you come in. So, I guess Flu Week is over because I went to work today. And co-workers said nice things like "You don't look as gray as you did last time I saw you" while they subtly backed away from me and I thought "No, I'm the same gray really".

Oh, work is hard when one is sick!

I coughed.

Also at one point I briefly fell asleep on a shelving cart I was resting on. It was comfy! I wish I was there now. It was the longest period of sustained, uninterrupted sleep I've experienced in over a week.

I left my job seven hours early today. I mean, enough is enough. After all, it's still Flu Week, isn't it? Wait, I can't remember what we decided earlier, 

it is still Flu Week or it isn't still Flu Week?

I'm beginning to suspect I might not be the right person for all these decisions.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Flu week: Fun with coughing

Warning: It's Flu Week. There's always a chance it can get a little, er, graphic ahead.

One might have noticed, in following these reports from Flu Week, that most of the discussion has centered around...


If any of these posts were written in, say, the first three days of Flu Week they might have been more about headaches, deathly illness, teeth chattering chills, or any assortment of truly terrible things. But once THE COUGH entered into it it had a magnetic ability to draw attention to itself. Maybe it was its genial nature, maybe it was the charming way it glints in the evening's glow, or maybe it was the way that every 14 seconds, for six days, day and night, it yelled as loudly as it possibly could.

I guess we'll never know.

But be that as it may we are going to once again discuss THE COUGH.

However, up til now we feel we have been pretty critical of THE COUGH. 

What about the good qualities of THE COUGH?

So I made up a good quality to talk about, because I'm a glass is half full kind of guy even if it's actually empty.

Side note: for those of you who pay no attention to the "banner" line of my blog page (which is to say anyone currently reading this, including, usually, me), I am now racing to my blog to change that banner line from:

This small blog, read by just a few dozen people, is all that prevents the Internet from collapsing in on itself and becoming a black hole of knowledge and wisdom, sucking everything in the world down into its absolute darkness of overwhelming, runaway gravity.


I'm a glass is half full kind of guy even if it's actually empty.

End of Side note.

Anyway, onto the positive thing I have found about THE COUGH:

You can find a lot of cool stuff in a cough like this!

I have now, in just over a week, coughed 51,840 times (I counted. It was something to do). And when one coughs 51,840 times one is going to bring up some stuff, some surprising stuff.

Now I'm not talking just about the vast panapoly of the rainbow of phlegms, I'm talking about, for instance, a 1934 "Wheat" penny, which would have been worth something if it had been in mint condition. It wasn't. It was actually pretty hard to recognize for a penny at first. I also brought up an old "Monopoly" "iron" piece, and a tiny bit of pipe-connecting from a bong last seen in 1983.

I'm just saying THE COUGH was no picnic, but it did have a touch of historical value to it.

Also, during one particularly vicious bout of coughing I came up with what I am 95% certain was a piece of my lung! 


I hope I'm not going to need that one later.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Flu week: The cough

Unlike in yesterday's missive, I will not be ceaselessly interrupting my comments here to cough. Well, I will be, but I won't be narrating it.

But let us take a moment now to reflect on The Cough. What a clever little piece of engineering it really is. One has this whole, essential, air system, with the lungs at the core. And they are really exposed to quite a bit, I mean, they are exposed to pretty much anything in the world. So there's this mucous stuff to protect the system. And if something nasty gets into it, or some virus invades, the mucous goes into overtime and throws itself mercilessly over everything, rendering it mute and neutral. But now one has to bundle this huge amount of cleverly used mucous out of the lungs and trachea and pipes and all that. How is one supposed to get rid of this stuff?

That is what The Cough is a solution to. Get a breathful of air. Compress it in ones lungs, and then blow it out ones throat in an explosion that blasts out the used up mucous into the mouth where it can be properly discarded. 

So the solution to getting stuff out of the lungs? An explosion made of the air that's just sitting there anyway. It's brilliant.

Unfortunately it is pure misery for everyone involved in the process. One could easily use this to prove that the universe is fantastically clever, but cold to the point of sociopathology. But I prefer to picture someone so wildly carried away with a piece of fantastic design that they forgot it was going to be used on real subjects. Although it might all be the same thing. There is no god, really, it's just one great big Mad Scientist.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

It's flu week

It's flu week at clerkmanifesto! C'mon, it'll be fun! Wait, let me cough.

Wait, let me cough again.

Wait, I have to get up, massage my aching head, and moan for a bit.

Right. Where were we?

It's flu w

Wait, I have to cough.

I have to cough again.

Oops, just one more then.

(long passage of wracking, convulsive coughs that goes on for 17 minutes)

Right, now that that's all sorted let's get back to flu week at clerkmanifesto.

Wait, I have to cough.

So flu week. You want to know what's so great about flu week?

I don't know, maybe the juice?

Friday, October 26, 2018

The flu

I have the flu. And let me tell you it is not pretty. I have been in a near constant abject misery for four days, which feels like a lot more than four days probably because there has been so little sleeping during that time, and so much coughing. Somehow coughing stretches out the fabric of time. So, naturally, at some point I broke. I went to the Internet.

My wife and I looked up "How to get better from the flu fast".

I've made this sort of search before but I was desperate. I was hoping for something like "Firmly grasp the leaf of a houseplant and, speaking out loud and clearly, name eight different kinds of berries. Within minutes you will be feeling vastly better."

But what I got was

"Drink fluids. Loads and loads of fluids."

I am still pretty sick, but I am very, very, very well hydrated. And though I continue to feel miserable, sometimes I am too busy going to the bathroom to notice.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The golf ball at end of season

From up in my aerie, watching golf, I have found the people playing interesting enough, but I like the golf balls on their own the best.

It is late in the season, surely the last week or two for golf in Minnesota. The ever industrious grounds crew can no longer keep the leaves off the course, though they try. Pale brown golds pool up in the sand traps, and herds of scatter-brained leaves tumble together down the fairways and then back again.

Not too many golfers come through on a blustery Sunday. It's peaceful. And then a small white ball comes bounding down the greens. I don't even know why I see it among all the bright scudding leaves, the birds and the squirrels. But I do. Dispossessed of its initial impetus the little ball is, to me, on some journey of his own volition. The ball has its own life and purpose. It bounces into something more like a roll, climbs a little hill, then drops into the sand trap where it is lost in a pile of leaves. Will it ever be found again? 

Two more balls come looking for it. One rolls quietly and sweetly down the middle of the fairway, almost to the green. It looks left and right, but sees nothing. Another ball bounds off to the rough grass before the trees. It thinks "Wait, what just happened?" And then the search party is over and everything is quiet.

I look away. It is time for my wife and I to walk and get a coffee. I want to know how the story ends, but I fear that if I keep watching my little dream will be broken. People will enter into it and break the spell. Let the balls then lie there forever.