Code, nerd culture and humor from Greg Knauss.

So Joanne and I are at the circus and standing in line for popcorn and off to the side is this woman with a monkey hand-puppet.

The monkey waves at me.

"Hi, there!" I say. "Ha ha!"

"Hi, there!" lip-syncs the monkey, the woman speaking through pursed lips. "Ha ha."

I raise an eyebrow at Joanne.

"Hi, there!" says the monkey again, this time it's voice deeper. "Ha ha!" The monkey looks at the woman holding it and they nod at each other.

I smile nervously and say, "Heh heh hee heh."

The monkey says, "Heh heh hee heh."

It's at this point that I notice that the woman doesn't work for the circus.

I would have asked her now many people she'd killed, but I was afraid the monkey would know.

So you can see how it's weird. Things aren't lining up. They look fine when taken individually, when you're right up against them, but when you take a step back and look at everything at once, they don't line up.

I just saw "Swimming With Sharks." The titles are white on black, and underneath the part where it says "Written & Directed By" is the name of a high-school friend of mine, George Huang. It opens nationally May 12th.

So you can see how it's weird.

George was one of those guys that you suspected was really going to hit it big or end up slinging hash during the night shift at Ed's Food Emporium. He was tremendously smart, but a little undirected. He played guitar, skipped class, got good grades and dropped his pants in front of the entire auditorium during his candidacy for class president. He was the first person to ever offer me a beer, though he said that if I didn't want it, no big deal. His laugh goes "HAWHAWHA," but judging from his NPR interview, he's made it a little more radio friendly.

So you can see how it's weird.

The movie itself is... enjoyable. It drags a bit in a few places and Michelle Forbes is too cold to play Dawn, but it's well-made and Kevin Spacey is fantastic. It's a hell of an achievement for a 27-year-old.

But it's angry. Very, very angry. All the reviews, the first thing they say is "George is angry." In the film, a producer's personal assistant takes him hostage and tortures him. George, incidentally, was a PA for several years. I think the New York Times called "Swimming With Sharks" a "howl of rage."

But it's George.

So you can see how it's weird.

So I pull up to a stop light and sitting next to and slightly ahead of me is a Chevy Caprice Classic. It's "cream," I believe the color is called, and has a Stanford sticker on the back window. There's a box of Kleenex on the rear shelf.

And in fact the only thing at all out of the ordinary about this car is that it's filled with four Tibetan monks, all with shaved heads and dressed in bright orange robes.

I waved, but they didn't see me.

So it's getting on towards nine o'clock and I'm finally dragging myself out of work and down to the car and it's been twelve hours since I left my apartment in the morning and I've still got an hour's drive ahead of me and it occurs to me that I'm an idiot.

It's dark out, and damp. Fog is spread across the sky.

I say, "Blugh" to the parking lot.

And suddenly, above me, a stream of sparks ignites. Yellow- gold sparks, with occasional plumes of red, arching down and away, cutting easily thorough the gloom. Shhhh-bang-shhhh-bang-shhh.

I stand staring up at it when it beings to turn, leveling off and doubling back on itself, rising.

The El Toro Air Show is this weekend and the pilots have been practicing all sorts of tricks -- loops, rolls, fly-bys -- but this is the first time I've seen fireworks, moving and twisting like fireworks can't. It's beautiful, and I'm glad I get to see it.

But, really, I'm still an idiot.

Hi there! My name's GREG KNAUSS and I like to make things.

Some of those things are software (like Romantimatic and Buzz Clock), Web sites (like the Webby-nominated Metababy and The American People) and stories (for Web sites like Suck and Fray, print magazines like Worth and Macworld, and books like "Things I Learned About My Dad" and "Rainy Day Fun and Games for Toddler and Total Bastard").

My e-mail address is greg@eod.com. I'd love to hear from you!

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