His name is Chip, or Butch, or Ernie. Something like that.
How does he do it? I don't know. He won't say. But he's always so harried with things he worries about. I listen to his stories, because I think it gives him relief, but I must admit that it's darkly fascinating.
"You know," he said once over a beer at the bowling alley with the Thai restaurant in Mountain View, "Back in 1983, wish tricks started working for a while. The winner of a wishbone got to make a wish and it would could true. Same goes for pennies in water fountains. And birthday cakes, shooting stars, dandelions in the wind, and eyelashes on the cheek. You'd think it would be a paradise, and for the first few people who got their bikes, or their spouses back, or whatever, it was. When someone found a penny heads-up and wished that everyone in Belgium would just drop dead, people got scared. Soon, birthday cakes, wishbones and dandelions became illegal, fountains were closed down, and eyelid shaving became mandatory. No one was sure what to do about shooting stars. Then my friend Mike made an illegal birthday cake, and wished that the whole wish thing would become just a superstition again, retroactively."
I wasn't sure to believe that one or not.
Another time he said, "You know, if we don't change things, by 2007 the mayor of San Francisco will annex several neighborhoods in Seattle, because the populations are ethnically San Franciscan."
He opened up his second bowling bag once and showed me the Head of John the Baptist. I told him that my last name meant John the Baptist. When I asked what he was going to use it for, he told me this:
"Fulcanelli, the early 20th century alchemist, had a mystic game he called the Langage of Birds. It was sound-similarity linguistic puns, like a word-qabbala of sorts. For example, he says, when talking about the alchemy of Gothic cathedrals, that Gothic sounds like Goetic, so Gothic cathedrals have a goetic influence. Furthermore, he says, art gothique is identical to argot (a thieves' secret code), and both of them are related to the Argo, the ship of the Greek hero Jason, filled with heroes, used to acquire the Golden Fleece."
Later, I looked this up a little further, and found the following quote form Fulcanelli himself: "People think that such things are merely a play on words. I agree."
At the time, I just asked, incredulously, "Does that really work?"
"In the same way that glossolalia - random outbursts of sounds - can give the truth. Or any form of divination. You take something random, and you interpret truth from it. When you interpret truth, you fit it in so it makes sense. Starting at random means that you have to fit things from a different angle every time, so you can avoid hitting the same patterns. The truth comes from how good you are of creating signal when there's nothing but noise."