All rights reserved. No part of this
publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any
means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or
any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in
writing from the copyright owner.
You cheap bastard. Chances are pretty good
you've never read one of my books before but, as soon as I release
one that is free, here you sit reading away on my dime. You almost
deserve the stupidity that follows.
What you don't realize is that you've walked
into a trap. You see if you're one of those people who look at the
magazines populating the little racks above the candy while
checking out at the grocery store and get the feeling that you
crash landed on this planet then you might actually enjoy some of
the stories in this book. If you get the urge to hoist the
trembling fist at the seemingly innocent publications dedicated to
showcasing winning smiles and vapid dramas then you'll probably
enjoy a lot of them. If you are constantly filled with the urge to
drive your thumbs into the eye sockets of the empty-headed
whore-of-the-month featured on the cover ... now we're talking.
Don't get me wrong though, I am not looking
to assemble an audience of purely outcasts and misfits. Generally
those people are creepy and have dubious personal hygiene. I'm
looking for the almost-normal out there. The goal being to
stimulate their inner-weirdness so I can feel better about the dumb
stuff going on between my own ears.
So I can feel like it's not just me.
Plus, the trap I mentioned earlier is to get
you interested in my writing so you'll cough up for my other books.
To do that it helps if you have the ability to get a job and blend
in with the rest of the glossy-magazine-buying population.
Sorry for all the hyphenated words.
I included a few more stories in this book
than usual but as it's free you can't really complain too much if
you have to slosh through a few boring and/or stupid ones. Whatever
happens from here on out, you're getting your money's worth.
Travel always seems to leave me feeling a bit
out of sorts. Checking into a hotel that had the word 'value' in
the name didn't help. On the way to my room I walked through an
odor that reminded me somehow of the final apocalyptic throwdown
between good and evil if, instead of the battle taking place
between the forces of good and evil, it was the smell of urine and
disinfectant facing off. The stink was quite formidable. The room,
of course, had the requisite amount of mold and peeling wallpaper
but the cherry on top was when I went to brush my teeth I found a
pubic hair in the sink.
From the moment I entered the room I had
braced myself for pubic hairs to be coating the tub and toilet seat
but the sink? There was only one inescapable conclusion to be
reached: the previous occupant of the room had been a ball
Reeling a little from that realization I went
out to grab some lunch. After spending fruitless minutes holding up
the beef ‘n cheddar that was handed to me and comparing it to the
picture of the beef ‘n cheddar as presented in the picture only a
few feet over the head of the disinterested cashier at the nearby
Arby's, I became aware that nobody save myself was interested in
the striking difference between the two sandwiches. However much I
raised my voice or presented my beef ‘n cheddar for closer
inspection the only thing that greeted me was the apathy of both
the Arby's managerial team and the customers waiting behind me.
Where was the pride in their product? Where was the outrage from
I retreated to the men's room to splash a
little water on my face and regain my composure. Even though my
beef ‘n cheddar looked nothing like the Arby's marketing department
promised I was still hungry and remained a sucker for their zesty
That's when I saw it.
In the sink.
A black n curly.
I had once again stumbled upon evidence of a
ball washer. In the men's room of a fast food establishment no
less. Have people no shame at all? My face unsplashed, I was forced
to backpedal out of the very place I had backpedalled into and out
to my waiting meal. I ate uncomposed.
Which brings me to dinner. And although there
were many hours between dinner and my misadventure at lunch I was
still noticeably uncomposed as I walked into the Kentucky F
Chicken. I say F because I think the folks at Kentucky F Chicken
believe that if the American chicken-buying public hear the word
fried these days they will flee terrified into the streets
never to return.
Am I the only person who's noticed that over
the years the size of the chicken legs have continued to shrink?
When I was a kid I distinctly remember holding up a leg that would
have looked more at home on a turkey and feasting like a miniature
Henry VIII. It was all I could do to finish 2 of them before
collapsing back stuffed and satisfied into the booth.
Have you seen the legs they give you these
days? I honestly wonder if the chickens are able to walk around
under their own power anymore. I picture a great field with all the
chickens lying on their side unable to stand up on their tiny,
weak, pathetic, meatless legs.
Once again, despite the airtight logic of my
presentation, the cashier stood unfazed. No amount of passion was
able to sway him and he seemed to be willing to wait forever for me
to wind down my criticism and complete my order. I was left
standing to wait for my meal with a sense of hopelessness regarding
the size of the legs that would soon be making their way from the
oven to my tray. Feeling I couldn't stand there a moment longer I
ducked into the bathroom for a quick pee before my food was
The bathroom was filthy. The little checklist
hanging on the back of the door letting the customer know the last
time it was cleaned showed Billy had been in there to tidy things
up in February of 2008. I relieved myself and headed over to the
sink to wash my hands.
And saw it.
Another pubic hair.
My head swam and I caught a glimpse of myself
in the mirror. Except it was me in the hotel. My pants down.
I closed my eyes tight and tried to clear my
head. When I opened them I saw myself shirtless and laughing in the
The first rule of ball washing is you don't
talk about ball washing.
It couldn't be. I grabbed the sink to hold
myself up. I felt the cold tile under my bare feet.
I look like you wanna look, I fuck like you
wanna fuck, I am smart, capable, and most importantly, I'm free in
all the ways that you are not.
I was hearing this from the man in the
mirror. The man with his pants down and his balls in the sink.
The second rule of ball washing is you don't
talk about ball washing.
I was the ball washer.
Life After Crest
Up north you don't see tumbleweeds as much as
you'd think. Apparently they are a plant that is only found in
desert areas so the image of them tumbling through abandoned cities
and towns is only accurate if those cities and towns are hot and
don't get much rain. I guess that's what makes them tumble, they
are rolling around looking for water. Wide open abandoned cities
ripe to be tumbled in or not, the plants up north just throw out a
few seeds and are done with it.
Can't blame them really.
Does ruin the whole abandoned city experience
though for those of us stuck living through it. I have half a mind
to gravitate down to some Old West town just to get the tumbleweed
effect but I guess it's just not worth the effort. I still have the
giant empty city with no power and only the sound of the wind and
the occasional window falling from one of the big buildings scene
going. I use to like to watch Life After People, I think it
was on the History Channel, so a lot of what's going on isn't
surprising to me. Problem is that the TV show would move at a clip
of 25 years at a time but here in real life it's all one day at a
time so I'll never see the buildings disappear entirely and the
whole place return to a big forest.
Oh well. It will happen whether there is an
audience or not, the History Channel wouldn't air something that
There I go again, trusting something just
because it was said with a straight face on TV. You'd think I would
have learned. Maybe the buildings will never go away and the
History Channel was full of it.
Here's the thing. Back when toothpaste was
doing a good job fighting cavities none of us were any the wiser.
We watched the ads for Crest and Colgate and felt pretty damn safe
and secure. Like these companies had our back. When the first
whispers of tartar and plague started nobody took much notice.
Near the end I distinctly remember Life
After People being sponsored by Colgate Advanced Whitening
toothpaste. How's that for irony? Like we should have been worried
about discolored teeth. There are no coincidences; somebody
somewhere had a weird sense of humor.
You see, by that time it was already starting
to come out that the fluoride introduced into the water supply
wasn't just there to make everyone feel better about the whole
plague thing. The government had put it there to sedate the masses,
to take the edge off. They already knew what was coming and the
longer they could put off everybody else knowing the more time they
thought they had to figure it out.
Maybe I'm fixated on tumbleweeds because they
remind me so much of myself and all the other little bands of
survivors. Scurrying seemingly aimlessly around, but there was
always some pressing need that drove us to move from Point A to
Point B. Food, water, shelter, companionship. Something got us out
of our hiding spots and back, however briefly, into the elements.
While the winds push our Salsola tragus buddies in whatever
directions they happen to be going we listen to them whisper and
howl and hope they bring us some good news.
Which they never do. They just whisper and
howl the obvious.
Colgate and Crest knew they were losing the
war, fluoride or not, but they couldn't start a panic. Few people
saw the writing on the wall, we all thought we had plenty of time.
I guess you always think you have more time.
Then came gingivitis. Nobody was ready for
It started like these things always do.
Rumors. Always from 'over there,' someplace else. Someplace far
away. Then it was down the street. Somebody you knew.
Then it was everywhere.
I haven't seen anyone in almost a week. Maybe
it's time to head south after all. I really would like to see a
tumbleweed tumbling. I know it's looking for somewhere to disperse
its seeds but I imagine it looking so carefree.
That alone seems worth the trip.
There's a boat that is leaving soon for New York
Sometimes you're asked to do a favor for
someone and it ends up not only being no big deal but you end up
enjoying yourself. This is not one of those cases. So it was that I
found myself seated in a suburban high school auditorium to watch
an all-white all-teen cast put on Porgy and Bess. If I were to tell
you right now that later on in this story I will be using the term
disaster to describe the performance I bet you're going to leap to
the conclusion that it somehow involves their singing or lack of
You couldn't be further from the truth. I
actually enjoyed their renditions of Porgy and Bess classics such
as "It Isn't Necessarily So" and "Bess, You Are My Woman Now". I
didn't find the casting to be any less believable than when I
watched The Cosby Show growing up.
So what was the problem? Well the whole time
I'm watching the show my eye keeps getting pulled over to this
trashcan they had set up in Catfish Row. In order to add a little
realism to the set they had long strands of red, orange and yellow
cellophane obviously being blown up by a fan inside the trash can
to give the look of a fire. Now as I sat there I realized that this
was far less dangerous than having a real fire but at the same time
I thought they were being awfully cavalier about it. A fake fire is
still a fake fire after all.
Sure enough in Act 3 while Sporting Life
(who, because of the location of the production, doesn't sell drugs
but is instead a local distributor of energy drinks), played with
the kind of grit you rarely see in a handsome blonde affluent
teenager, is trying to convince Bess to run off to New York City
with him, I see a yellow strand of cellophane break loose from the
trash can and float off unnoticed and land on the rickety wood
stairs in the back of the stage. While Bess does her best to resist
his seductions I suddenly see a few more colorful stands of
cellophane appear on the stairs. Soon the entire staircase erupts
into strands of cellophane!
Panic ensues as adults rush in from each of
the stage with fake-fire extinguishers but by that time the
cellophane had quickly spread to the surrounding backdrops and even
the curtains had long strands of red, orange and yellow cellophane
Poor Porgy (portrayed with conviction by Brad
Silverman) hadn't even been given the chance to begin singing "Oh,
Lord, I am on my way" when he was engulfed in cellophane. By now
shock and dismay had swept through the crowd and we began to empty
the auditorium and make our way down the front steps of the high
school and into the parking lot as the fake-fire alarm rang. We
stood outside in the brisk night air and waited for the fake-fire
department to come roaring up in their fake-fire engines to put out
the fake-fire that was threatening to make it appear as if the
whole building was burning to the ground.
This is as good a time as any to mention the
play was a disaster.
Both scientists and philosophers have
wondered how the universe will end. Will it be a bang or a whimper?
Fire or ice? Expanding forever or a big crunch?
It would of great interest to both parties to
know that the answer to that very question would soon be decided by
Doug Casseber, a 17 year old living near Phoenix, Arizona.
It all started when Doug was 11 and developed
an interest in astronomy. Doug was not a normal 11 year old, he was
a very gifted student and his attention to detail was savant-like.
When he was 12 he decided to put the night sky on the ceiling of
his room. Unlike most stoners who had a similar idea and went out
and bought a few Day-Glo stickers to throw up over their bed he
divided his ceiling into hundreds of quadrants and then
painstakingly recreated the visible night sky in each, capturing
every perceptible star within 100 million miles of Earth. When he
explained to his parents why it was taking him weeks of
around-the-clock work to complete, he explained the stellar
parameters he was using as the cut-off point of luminosity but they
simply stared at him. Trying again, he started by explaining in
ergs per second but they didn't know what an erg was; so he told
them. "An erg is the unit of energy and mechanical work in the
centimetre-gram-second system of units, i.e. the amount of work
done by a force of one dyne exerted for a distance of one
centimeter. In the CGS base unites, it is equal to one gram
centimeter-squared per second-squared ...
g·cm2/s2. It is thus equal to 10-7
joules or 100 nanojoules in SI units." They turned and silently
walked back downstairs to the living room to resume watching
As he grew older he waited patiently for a
girl to share his ceiling with but a girl did not materialize. His
intellect did not seem to be high on the list of features high
school girls were looking for in a date. Despite his best efforts
he still fell for a girl anyway. He would lie under his false sky
at night and look up at the heavenly bodies and think about hers
until one day he mustered the courage to tell her that he had paid
to name a star after her. A real beauty in the Perseus
constellation. He couldn't imagine a more romantic gesture so when
she reacted with confusion and disdain he was crushed.
He retreated to his room and there he sat
looking up at Perseus and tried to pretend it wasn't the end of the
world. Later that night he stood on his bed and covered up the star
he had named after that ungrateful, unworthy girl with a black
The funny thing was the next night while
looking up into sky he looked for 'her' star without thinking but
couldn't find it. He ran into the house and came back out with his
It wasn't there. It had disappeared.
An entire star. Something that was almost a
million miles across only a few days ago had suddenly vanished. It
couldn't be because of his black magic marker could it? The “magic”
in magic marker is just a brand name right?
So he did what any angst-filled 17 year old
would have done. He got out a paint roller and blacked out an
entire section of his sky, one star for every girl that had
rejected him and then went to sleep.
He awoke in the morning to find the internet
buzzing, television news programs in a state of stunned disbelief
and astrophysicists worldwide having a complete meltdown.
He went back into his room.
Could he get grounded for this?
Later that day while the implications of this
amazing event were debated by the greatest minds and the most
delusional celebrities he decided to ask another girl out. If she
said no he would take out his roller and paint his ceiling black.
Every inch. He wondered what it would be like to then walk outside
and see nothing but blackness all around. No light anywhere. Alone
in the universe.
If she said no then everyone on Earth would
know how he felt.
dwarfs, midgets and blorcs
If you look at the history of dwarfs in
literature and folklore you'll see what began in Germanic mythology
as hearty creatures that dwelled in mountains and were associated
with mining has continued to this day with them being portrayed as
a rugged, strong and willful race. Nowhere in any mythos have I
seen them depicted as big-headed, gnarly-handed, bowed legged
humanoids who can't run for more than 2 feet before they either
fall over or have everyone wondering when the fuck they are going
to fall over.
Why do I bring this up? Well it appears that
The Little People of America, a non-profit group that apparently
isn't satisfied by the fact that we no longer hurl baby midgets off
cliffs as soon as we see they aren't going to end up taller than 3
feet, are upset because the movie Snow White and the
Huntsman decided to use normal-sized actors to play dwarfs
instead of 'little people'. Are you kidding me? Isn't it up to the
director how he wants to portray dwarfs? You don't see fat people
getting all upset that there aren't any chubby elves or blacks
getting pissed about the lack of black orcs (blorcs?). No you
don't. Why? Because dwarfs and elves and orcs are all fantasy! It's
up to the interpretation of the creator of the movie as to how they
But no. That's not good enough for the
midgets. Not content to have every other show on TV having a midget
come crashing into every other scene and take away from what the
fuck is going on they now want to try and muscle in on dwarfs and
ruin them for us too. Dwarfs are mighty warriors for fuck’s sake!
Can you imagine a midget trying to swing a 2-handed battle axe?
Picture that in your head. Picture it! You're going to sit there
with a straight face and try and tell me that Warwick Davis or
Peter Dinklage could have played Grimli in The Lord of the
Rings? Do you have any idea how excruciating it would have been
to watch that movie with one of those two hobbling around trying to
act like a bad-ass warrior? In that one scene where they have to
run for hours at a stretch to pursue the fleeing Uraki it would
have taken Warwick Davis a week just to make it up the first hill
in heavy armor. J.R.R. Tolkien painted a very clear image of the
dwarfs in Middle Earth and they had nothing to do with the midgets
that seem to be procreating at a breakneck pace these days. There's
more to dwarfs than being short and you'd think midgets would be
the first to recognize that.
I'm just sick to death of the political
correctness that allows midgets to get up in (stubby) arms over
something so stupid. Why can't they be happy that The Wizard of
Oz and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are always on
the lookout for small 'actors'? How soon until they are pissed off
that there isn't a pint-sized Tin Man crashing/loping (how would
you describe it?) down the Yellow Brick Road? Get that orange paint
on you uppity Oompa Loopa and shut your cakehole.
Now I might be coming off as somewhat
anti-midget when that couldn't be further from the truth. I'm just
defensive when it comes to people trying to hijack something as
close to my heart as dwarfs. I use to play Dungeons & Dragons
and let me tell you nobody would have played a dwarf character if
they had the characteristics of Peter Dinklage. I think our party
would have spent every adventure raiding dwarf towns due to the
complete lack of risk in doing so.
Me. "I hit the dwarf with a stick."
Dungeon Master. "You do 1 point of damage.
You kill him."
There. I think that got it out of my
And yes, midgets would make shitty hobbits as
well so they better stay the fuck out of Peter Jackson's face.
The (tiny) balls on those guys!
ready to start
If it weren't for all the blurred vision and
buzzing ears and whatnot I'm sure John Sampilgremson would have
appreciated the irony to a much greater extent. What with him being
a bit up a tree in the metaphysical sense and at the same
time being at least partially on a tree in the
he'll-be-needing-a-tow-very-shortly sense and all. I'll give you
the proverbial heads up that this tale is headed nowhere good and
if you're of questionable mental constitution or just plain having
a bad day you might want to give this one a miss.
It would be misleading to state that this
adventure started off innocently enough because at the root of it
all the innocent part isn't quite as innocent as the word innocent
would lead you to believe. Tricky word innocent. It started off
with John driving down a road at high speed bellowing a song. Not
any song, mind you, but a song seemingly designed for bringing
Johns to rest on top of trees. It featured lines engineered to have
the listener not only bellowing them but doing so with their eyes
shut for extended periods of time. This formula rarely works out
for the listener if said listener is hurling themselves down a
windy patch of road at breakneck speeds. You can see that the
endeavor is fraught with peril from the start. So you can now see
where the innocent part is called into question.
foot-still-pressed-firmly-on-the-accelerator thing happened to go
down during the verse "the businessman will drink my blood ... like
the kids in art school said they would" followed quickly by the
road taking a rather brisk left while the minivan he was piloting
chose to stay on a more straight ahead course.
Anyone can see how irresponsible it is to be
writing and singing verses like that when the possibility exists
that one of your listeners might be operating heavy machinery. What
else is there to do during such a verse other than lean back with
your eyes closed for business and sway your head back and forth?
Particularly if you are John Sampilgremson.
You see, John was nearing 50 and had three
children and a mortgage and had recently decided to chuck it all in
and begin again as an actor in California. He was actually on his
way to a used car place to turn in the minivan in the hopes of
getting a vehicle that would better express his new outlook. At
that point he would throw the luggage from the former into the
trunk of the latter and make his escape with nobody the wiser.
Lurking somewhere out there, he believed, was a dinner theater one
man short of a successful production.
During college he strode the boards, or
however those creative types say it, and would breathe in the smell
of sawdust and fresh paint the same way a florist buries her nose
into a particularly attractive nicotiana rustica. He was theater
through and through, the very picture of a card-carrying,
After college he was unable to launch himself
directly into a full time acting gig so he got a real job and
pursued his theatrical yearnings after hours.
I'll stop here and let's just assume you're
three steps ahead of me and you've already digested the pertinent
details concerning his successful rise in business. The wife. The
three kids. The minivan.
Which now sat perched on top of what remained
of a tree. Should the tree have been a bit further along in years
the collision would have worked itself out decidedly less in favor
of the vehicle, but suggesting to John at this juncture that he was
in any regards lucky might have gotten you a thick ear.
"The businessman will drink my blood ...
like the kids in art school said they would".
He was the kid in art school and now he was
the businessman who seems to have a cannibalistic leaning if you
are to take the singer at his word.
You know, the whole 'path not taken'
syndrome, the slow boil. His happiness like the perspiration
clinging to the warming kettle.
The airbag didn't even deploy. He sat there
and started the song over again. Nobody saw him go off the road so
he had a few minutes to himself. He would never be an art school
kid again and he felt pretty resolute in thinking he was also no
longer able to carry on with the part of a businessman. Or even a
man. And clearly this minivan wasn't going anywhere. California
seemed a long way off but his home seemed even further and much
He turned off the engine, stepped out of the
minivan and into the dark ... even though it was early
Favorite Facebook Status updates:
2 Aolan AZL50-LC32A 3-phase Air Circulators walk into
a room and see Bruce Springsteen standing there.One of them walks
over and says "We're really big fans."
"Paraprosdokian" comes from Greek " παρά ", meaning
"against" and " προσδοκία ", meaning "expectation". Canadian
linguist and etymology author Theodore Gordman argues that, while
the word is now in wide circulation, "paraprosdokian" (or
"paraprosdokia") is not a term of classical (or medieval) Greek or
Latin rhetoric, but just another way to say "gorilla jizz".
When the fire department arrived they found the
church fully engulfed. A spokesperson for police say they have not
determined the cause of the blaze but at this time have not ruled
out God's will.
After a year of unsuccessfully trying to breed the
female leopard the zookeepers finally agreed to try bringing in a
It’s like when I’m on the shitter and suddenly the
shower head, hours after someone has had the last shower, gurgles
out a big wad of water out of nowhere. I look up at it and say
“yeah … I know how you feel.” I have no idea what that means but I
say it sincerely and I really do feel some sort of connection with
Watching the amount of effort it took a baby to climb
up on a chair it occurred to me how much better shape we'd all be
in if we had enormous furniture.
(first appeared on www.whiskeypaper.com
I wonder sometimes where art is headed. Since
the first paintings were thrown up on a cave wall there have been
artists, critics, and audience; and those three have been involved
in a dance ever since. Do the fast-forwarding from stick figures to
print to movies yourself. Every leap and advancement is a story in
itself and frankly I don't have the time or interest to do it for
you. I'm just dying to get to the part where I tell you about my
Before I do that though, let me say that for
years I have been torn between trying to impress my peers, gain the
respect of the critics and win over the masses. I fully realize
that most people have a splash of each within them, but I think
you're smart enough to know that the masses only think that way
because they are dumb as dirt. Don't think that because I find the
lack of refinement in common folks detestable that I enjoy the
company of artists and critics though. Far from it. When I read a
theatrical review of some off-off-Broadway crap that has critics
raving simply because it gives them an opportunity to show off
their vocabulary and they know in their heart of hearts that nobody
will actually take the time to go see the play, it makes my blood
boil. I wish the whole pretentious lot of them would simply
disappear or, even better, be forced to get real jobs.
So where does this leave me and what is my
new play about?
I'm glad you asked.
It cost me several million dollars to build
the theater that holds it but it was the only way to stage it. When
you walk in you'll see why. The entire play takes place on a
rollercoaster, a 3 story rollercoaster that both encircles the
audience and plunges in and out of them. No loops but plenty of
The play is just under 2 hours long and for
the entire time the rollercoaster is hurling around the audience,
save the very first minute where it is climbing up and the cast
members riding it are introducing themselves with a bit of
dialogue. There are also a few parts where the rollercoaster slows
down to mimic the slow-motion effect of the storyline at that
juncture but other than that it is going full speed the entire
Casting took forever as finding 19 actors who
are impervious to motion sickness was not easy. Even with such
careful screening it is rare that we get through an entire
production without at least a few of them throwing up at some
point. This might also be because they are only allowed to eat corn
dogs and cotton candy as the pre-show meal to get them into
character. Turnover continues to be a problem but in New York there
is never a shortage of actors and actresses willing to have the
safety harness pulled down over them
What is the play about?
Seems a reasonable question but not one that
is asked as often as you'd think. In fact, we are entering our
fifth month of sold-out shows and I have yet to actually answer it.
I mean, I have answered it but I use the language of the
critics so at no point do I tell anyone what it is actually
Even with the microphone that each actor has
it is almost impossible to hear what they are saying over the roar
of the rollercoaster itself and the various screaming of the cast.
Doesn't seem to matter, the audiences seem to love it. Particularly
when someone throws up. We had an actress come in from a popular TV
sitcom and while she only lasted three shows she was wildly popular
because she threw up almost the entire time she was on 'stage.’
Midgets are upset of course because we have a sign with a hand
sticking out in front of the theater saying that you must be "this
tall" to appear in the play.
The critics love it. They love me actually. I
would repeat all the great adjectives they've used to describe me
but I'm not sure what most of them mean and I would hate for a
negative one to sneak in there and tarnish my image.
And my peers? All but one of them have been
silent, obviously stewing in their jealousy. But that
writer, that thieving bastard, is only two weeks away from the
opening of his latest Broadway effort.
wrestling my conscience ... and a special kid
I'm not sure what they call it these days but
I know it's a complicated issue. I know because I was forced to
live through something that troubles me to this day and I'm afraid
that if I tell you about it, and I'm completely honest, that I
might come off a bit insensitive. I'm a pretty open-minded guy, I
don't consider myself bias to any great degree and if you were to
have an empathetic Hall of Fame I'd nominate myself as the first
inductee. Having said that ...
I think they call it 'mainstreaming' now but
back when I was in school we called it having a retarded kid in gym
class. Now before you mount your high horse and gallop off to
Offendedville hear me out. When I was in high school, we didn't use
bullshit terms like handicapable. Retarded kids were called
retarded kids and everyone was fine with that. It wasn't meant to
be disrespectful, it was simply the classification.
I was a skinny kid.
And a nerd.
Calling me cool-deprived wouldn't have
So what was it about having gym class with a
'special' kid that traumatized me? Ok, here goes. Prepare to judge
me and think horrible things.
He looked like a caveman. His head did
anyway. I swear, his noggin looked like it was stolen off a
Neanderthal exhibit. We had another 'special' kid in the school but
he looked more like a normal kid that took a fastball to the
cranium. The kid in my gym class looked like the first one in his
family without a tail. Now be clear, I'm in no way making fun of
people with low IQs here. I'm making fun of people who look like
they were just thawed out of a block of ice fresh from the Arctic
shelf. He was like a short white Patrick Ewing. The fact that he
was retarded just put the cherry on top.
So anyway, we shared a gym class and believe
me as bad as this kid might have had it we were pretty much on the
same rung of the social ladder. I had just moved to the school and
due to my sparkling personality had yet to find much success with
my fellow students. I would have literally been happy to have been
friends with the 'kid' except he only spoke in one word sentences
and every time he smiled he looked like he was going to kill
Then came the day, the terrible day that
scarred me forever. It was time for the wrestling portion of the
semester. Bad enough to scar most people in and of itself but fate
had a special treat in store for me. And I do mean special.
The 'kid' was in my weight class.
So it passed that eventually it was my turn
to wrestle someone and the sadistic teacher decided that he would
pair me up with the retarded kid. It was at this point that we both
stepped to the middle of the mat while our peers crowded around us
and began to cheer. And by cheer I mean that some of the larger
more demented males began beating their chests and throwing
handfuls of their own feces.
Here is where the real fun began. The 'kid'
had no idea what he supposed to do at this juncture. He just kept
smiling at me and saying "I'm not scared of you". I pointed out
that while I appreciated both his candor and courage that now would
be a good time to commence with the wrestling.
"I'm not scared of you".
I launched myself at him in the same
ferocious manner that children will hug a relative they are not
fond of. He wouldn't budge. He had the strength of ten men. Ten
very dumb men. I hung off him for a few moments before he collapsed
onto his stomach with a final "I'm not scared of you". And there we
sat for a few moments as I tried unsuccessfully to flip him over
and avoid seeing those giant glistening square-as-fuck teeth
protruding from his larger-than-average jaw line. Attempts at a
half-nelson were going poorly when I made eye contact with one of
my most feared antagonists from the class. He was making it
abundantly clear through slashing gestures across his throat that
I'd better give serious consideration to letting the 'kid' pin me
or else expect a savage beating soon after class came to its
inevitable end. This apparently would differ from the typical
beating I usually received at the end of gym class in both duration
Weighing my options I decided to forgo my
attempts at rolling the 'kid' onto his back and securing my first
and only victory on the mat and instead change strategies and
attempt to deposit the 'kid' on top of me. This proved even a more
difficult task than flipping Captain Caveman over on his back.
I tried to calmly explain the plan to him,
how I was going to let him win and all he needed to was let me
slide underneath him for 3 or 4 seconds and the entire endeavor
would come to a successful conclusion, but he once again assured me
that he was in fact not scared of me and to drive his point home he
once again flashed his winning grin.
As you can imagine, my classmates were in
various stages of asphyxiation from screaming insults and laughing
so hard. In their minds this was the Godzilla vs. Megalon of the
bullied outcast’s faction. Had there been cell phones with the
ability to capture video this would easily be the most played clip
ever to grace YouTube.
I realize that many of you will assume I'm
making this up but there will be some tiny minority of you that
suddenly remember this spectacle and say to yourself "Holy shit,
that was Lance Manion who got pinned by the retard?!"
That's why the issue of 'mainstreaming'
special kids into normal schools is more complicated than just
letting good intentions guide every decision. The truth is that for
every action there is an equal and completely unintended reaction.
If that 'kid' had actually somehow understood what the gym teacher
wanted I have no doubt that he would have killed me with his bare
hands before any of the other boys could have rushed to my aid.
Which they wouldn't have but even if they had tried he would have
probably killed a few of them before escaping and eventually being
subdued on the top of the building by enough tranquilizer darts to
fell an African Elephant.
For the record, no mentally handicapped
people were harmed in the telling of this story. Skinny kids in
baggy leotards did not get off so lightly.
They never do.
1 degree of separation
Perhaps it was some dormant insecurity that
had slowly made its way up to the surface or maybe it was just as
simple as her red hair. Brian had never trusted redheads but had
given Sara a shot anyway and, on the surface, everything had been
great. In fact, much better than great. The word love started to
slosh around inside his head for the first time since those heady
college days where the word seemed to leap to mind almost every
other weekend. Sara was prettier than he was handsome though and
this always caused him some concern.
After a year of dating this concern had
manifest itself in a very odd behavior. He had contacted her
through Facebook posing as another man. Sam. Very innocently at
first, as if by some random chance he’d stumbled on her pictures.
After all, he had said, we are all separated by less than 6 people.
She had been very honest about being in a serious relationship,
with him, which relieved him to no small degree. As the months
passed however they began to flirt back and forth in very subtle
All this time their ‘real’ relationship
continued to progress and develop and all the other words that are
used to describe a relationship that was inching forward carefully
to avoid any further commitments.
Sara began to get more curious about his
online persona and finally came right out and asked about what he
looked like and where he lived. He was vague about the former and
specific about the latter. He lived only a few blocks from her. A
coincidence right out of a movie. She wanted to meet.
He was overjoyed. His suspicions were
confirmed about redheads. He did have to admit though that a part
of him had enjoyed getting to know her all over again online.
He agreed to meet
They arranged a time at a local Irish pub. A
get-together he knew he would not be attending.
The day after this meeting he went to her and
accused her of wanting to see other men. It was his big moment.
Would she confess? She laughed and admitted everything. The whole
thing from Day One. Every conversation. Cruelly she described the
man she had met … all the way down to his sexy mustache. He
wondered how this could be? It was impossible, wasn’t it? The room
swam briefly and he wondered how she could be so callous about this
rendezvous. So unapologetic. As she explained that she typically
didn’t enjoy pina coladas but had had three of them and even
getting caught in the rain didn’t dampen the evening, he saw that
she was actually relishing telling him about her little date.
He ran from the room before she saw the how
red his cheeks were getting.
He didn’t understand how she could have met
this man that didn’t exist. This wasn’t supposed to have been how
it went. She was supposed to have been stood up. Embarrassed,
humiliated and then busted by her loving boyfriend. He tried to
breathe deeply as his trembling hand put the key in his front door.
He closed the door behind him and threw the keys on the side table
in the narrow hallway.
That’s when he saw it.
The BMG04 Flynn Style 100% Human Hair glue-on
- EPILOGUE -
Sara never talked to Brian again. He
disappeared entirely and if it weren’t for Sam she didn’t know what
she would have done with herself. He stepped up just when she
needed a shoulder to cry on. He had arrived at the perfect
Still, this new mustachioed man was a bit of
a mystery. She felt a tiny feeling of inadequacy stirring somewhere
She wondered what she would look like as a
She signed on and created Lauren.
It was time that Lauren found a reason to
introduce herself to Sam.
rain of consciousness or stream of terror?
Here’s why I hate the rain. Because, because,
because, because, becase … because of all the
horrible things it does. Forgive me for that start, I’m not sure
why I would start off with aWizard of Ozreference, the story has absolutely nothing to do
with witches, lions or yellow brick roads and personally I find
that particular verse of that horribly annoying song particularly
horribly annoying. If it weren’t for the fact I needed to get
something off my chest I would just stop right here and call the
whole story a bad job and be done with it. But because, because,
because, because, becase … I want to get something off my
chest on I shall go but I will promise not to type the word because
anymore. Well, I promise to try to avoid typing it. If I promise
not to type it then my subconscious will have it popping up every
two sentences. Of course, I could just replace it with the phrase
‘for the reason that’ but you have to agree that it doesn’t have
quite the panache of … well, you know the word I’m thinking of.
Probably explains why the writers of the song went with it over
“for the reason that, for the reason that, for the reason that, for
the reason that, for the reason thaaaaaaaaaat”.
Ok, enough of thaaat. Here’s why I hate the
rain: it makes me stare at my windshield wipers. I can’t help it.
Typically I have no problem seeing through the rain as I drive and
it doesn’t even cause me to stop reading whatever eBook I’m
engrossed in on my Kindle or stop me from texting a lengthy reply
to whomever I’m texting as I drive but as soon as the wipers start
in I’m distracted and let me tell you why. Brace yourself, it’s
about to get all economics up in here.
There is a finite amount of times that wipers
can make their journey across the windshield and back before they
wear out, correct? So it follows that if they wipers cost a certain
amount then with every pass they are that much closer to being in
need of replacement. I am literally watching my investment
depreciate right before my eyes. Back and forth, back and forth,
each time my total net worth continues to sink. That’s bad enough,
right? The real issue I have is with my inability to ignore this
reality. No matter how hard I try, I sit there fuming about every
drop of rain that falls onto my windshield and is need of being
wiped away. Can you see where I’m headed with this?
It’s called opportunity cost. All of the
various brilliant and wonderful things I could be doing and
thoughts I could be having if I wasn’t sitting there with my hands
clenching the steering wheel with a white-hot rage as Mother Nature
continues her assault on my checkbook.
“Fucking stop raining” I bellow impotently at
the dark clouds above, as my retirement fund continues to
hemorrhage. It’s this bellowing no doubt that stops me from making
an amusing metaphor out of the rain, my money and the word
But that’s not why I really hate the
rain. Don’t get me wrong, I hate the rain for the whole windshield
wipers thing but that always leads to why I really hate the
rain. I’m not sure the italics on “really” are really communicating
what I’m trying to say here. I do hate the windshield wiper thing.
Left to itself there would be enough there to hate the rain and any
psychologist would nod in agreement that there is something
terribly wrong with me. But what follows makes me hate the rain
even more. Perhaps that’s how I should have phrased it. By using
the italics you might have been led to believe that I didn’t really
hate the rain until the second thing when in fact what I
meant was that I hated the windshield wiper thing and then on
top of that hate there was something I hated even more. Either
way I got to use italics so it’s all good.
Except, you might point out if you’re still
reading this, I haven’t delivered the thing that really makes me
hate the rain. My apologies, I will get to it this instant.
As I rage skyward, invariably I will glare
and catch my reflection. It reminds me why after somebody screws
you over you can never actually be friends with them again and if
you try it’s just wasted effort. It’s not that you can’t forgive
them; it’s quite possible that you can. It’s the fact that from
that moment on they will be reminded of what a dirtbag they were
and, by extrapolation, the dirtbag that they could still be in any
given situation. Who wants to hang out with someone that reminds
them of the dickhole that lurks within them? The relationship is
doomed no matter how sincere both parties are. Just walk away.
But I can’t walk away from the face I see
reflected in the windshield.
Shit, at this point I might as well try to
tie this up with a reference to ignoring the man behind the curtain
Ted had a full plate. He sat in bed with his
glass of warm milk watching late night TV and tried to relax. "Keep
it all in perspective" he reminded himself. He knew he wasn't the
first man with financial concerns or problems at work.
Nevertheless, sleep eluded him as he turned off the TV and sank
back into his pillow. On the positive side, Fall was here with its
chill in the air and Ted had just recently brought out the
comforter. No better sleeping weather than leaving the window open
a crack and having to nestle down deep in the covers for warmth.
Unfortunately for Ted every time he had almost drifted off he would
suddenly think of one of his many pressing concerns and his eyes
would snap back open and the knot in his stomach would reappear. It
was around midnight when the first fart came.
You see, Ted was lactose intolerant and that
glass of milk was starting to kick in. His usual glass of milk
before bedtime ritual never bothered him before as he was usually
sound asleep before the fireworks began but now as he lay in his
bed he realized that the comforter that he so treasured was about
to turn into the top of a down-filled Dutch Oven. He tried in vain
to start waving the sheet and comforter vigorously in the opposite
direction but traveling 10 feet a second the fart was on him before
he could even get a clean breath of air. Now came the hardest part
for Ted. Alone in the night, sitting in that dark room he had no
alternative than to admit to himself that he actually liked the
smell of his farts. He told himself that with the exception of the
rogue fart that smells nothing like a person expects their typical
fart to smell, most people secretly enjoyed the smell of their own
farts. "I can't allow myself to feel bad about this" he told
himself … he already had enough on his emotional plate without
feeling guilty about enjoying a little flatus. With that he lifted
his ass a little and let fly another.
While I don't think anyone will ever confuse
the smell of sulfides with that of a hot apple pie just being taken
out of the oven there is a certain familiarity to it. I guess some
will refer to this as 'your own brand.' It can take you back to
childhood or have you waxing poetically about a particularly
pungent offender. Whatever it was, it was just what Ted needed. He
brought his legs up and issued forth a complete glossary of farts,
from gusts of wind to the sound of the last Rice Krispie expiring
in the bowl. He let rip a Cockney Cheer while singing 'Knees Up
Mother Brown.' There was a knicker ripper, a toxic steamer and a
supersonic. If the average person farted 14 times a day then
somewhere in China there were 100 people not farting at all that
evening to keep the books even. He passed a snicker blast, a freep,
a rumbler, a scooter and a rhino stopper. And still sleep did not
come. "Fire in the hole," he exclaimed to no one and launched into
a floorboard lifter followed closely by a soup cooler, a crop
duster and a trouser trumpet. The room began to smell like the
septic tank in a slaughterhouse in August at noon somewhere in a
third world country. Ted was aglow.
At one point, somewhere around 3:00 am the
farts began to be more difficult to come by and he was forced to go
downstairs and have himself another tall glass of milk. Within
minutes he was back to work…unleashing a scutter, a salsa and a
Rabbi rattler in short order. He was now working in rarified
air...so to speak. After completing a difficult series of sphincter
gyrations he was able to land a perfect pocket frog and before he
knew it, hands clutching the side of the bed, he released the
mythical pyroclastic flow. No one at work would believe him, but as
the sun began to creep up in the morning sky he sat on soiled
sheets refreshed. Revived! It was as if he had slept like a baby
all night. With a final nut knocker, a quick musty turnip and an
almost wistful mmmBop he arose to face the new day.
This is a story of hope and the human
condition. I know some of you will question why I didn't include an
air biscuit. Or a low rider. What about the bum blower or the
piffle you might ask. I just didn't feel they were right for this
particular piece. Don't think I didn't grapple with the chuff, the
quiffer, the dribbly, the country cough or the eggburter! It's just
as some point I have to think about the final product and make the
tough decisions. Maybe at some other time I can revisit the spoofy,
the fog horn or the zump. You never know.
Mary tried to time her visits to the bank at
odd hours to avoid the drama that was now unfolding. For some
reason there was a stampede to get in front of a teller so she sat
at least four back in the line awaiting her turn. The person
currently occupying the bank employee's attention seemed to be
questioning some discrepancy that occurred in 1979 and was not
going to be satisfied until he had seen the records of every
transaction the branch had made since that time.
Mary often wondered if everyone felt like she
did when sitting in line at the bank. That feeling that seems to
flood you after a certain amount of time stranded between the
faux-velvet ropes, where your eyes go from wandering aimlessly to
casing the joint. The bank slowly morphs into a joint and your eyes
transform into the cool stare of a hardened bank robber.
And she knew the security cameras were eating
it all up. Somewhere in the back there was a security guy with his
hand hovering over the panic button that would send the reinforced
steel bars crashing down over every exit and the police all over
town dropping their donuts in a mad dash to arrive at the scene in
time to gun her down. Now obviously Mary had never robbed a bank,
in fact her police record was spotless, but there was no way to
tell the bank that. No way to lie to the security camera that had
seemingly stopped its gentle back and forth motion and instead
settled on her. It was soaking her in.
She couldn't help it. It passed the time.
Wally, the ancient guard who had recently
celebrated his 95th year on the job, leaned against a nearby desk
in a casual manner that made it appear to all observers that he
was, in fact, stuffed and mounted on the spot. She looked at his
There it was. Now she'd done it. She waited
for the sirens to start wailing. The cameras had to have seen that
look. The way her eyes fogged briefly at the sight of the loaded
firearm resting gently in the holster on Wally's hip.
Someone came into the bank, she could hear
the door slowly groan shut. A quick look confirmed it was a highly
trained U.S. Marshall, that training exclusively focused on
subduing and executing bank robbers, disguised as an elderly lady
in jeans, a t-shirt and a hat three sizes too large for her
apparently shrinking head.
"Very sneaky," she thought to herself. Wally
suddenly sprang to life with a slight nod in the federal agent’s
direction before returning to his frozen state.
The man at the counter had apparently grown
bored with his makeshift audit of the bank as he departed and Mary
was allowed to take two steps closer. "The noose tightens," she
thought to herself, her heart racing. It was just a matter of time
now. She no longer even tried to disguise it; she looked at the
vault with unbridled avarice. First she would spin around and grab
Wally's pistol. For a brief moment she felt the cold metal resting
in her hand. Her finger imagined sliding over the trigger and
squeezing it just enough to send a single bullet deep into the
cranium of Wally. In her mind's eye she saw him fall and crumple on
the bad checkered carpeting.
She inhaled deeply and one eyelid fluttered
ever so briefly.
The next person in line had just been there
to drop off a check and suddenly, unexpectedly the line moved
again. Mary snapped back into the here and now with a jolt. It took
her two more steps away from Wally.
With 5 bullets left she couldn't just blaze
away. She'd have to jump over the counter and hope that the bank
employees played ball. If she needed to make an example of one of
them to get the rest of their attention then so be it. She sort of
hoped the cow in the pink frock occupying the desk of assistant
manager started trouble.
The woman in front of her suddenly realized
she hadn't filled out her deposit slip and left the line to use one
of the pens that were firmly tethered to the little shelf as if ink
were a scarce commodity.
Mary was next.
This was it. A cloud passed over the sun
outside and the light in the room dimmed. Somewhere behind her a
baby fussed. A single bead of sweat clung to her brow, threatening
to slide down her cheek and start the fireworks. The camera
wouldn't miss a bead of sweat, once it began its wet trek downward
there would be no choice. It would be go time.
"May I help you ma'am?" the teller inquired
of Mary. The man in front of her shuffled off, his transaction
having reached a quick and satisfactory conclusion.
Mary slowly took a look back at Wally. Then
up at the security camera...then a long lusty look at the
"A withdrawal please," Mary said as she
pushed her slip of paper forward. "All twenties if you could."
The teller typed with practiced efficiency
and soon was counting aloud and placing twenties into Mary's damp
"Will there be anything else today?" she
offered when the necessary amount of currency had changed
"Maybe next time," Mary said with a nervous
smile and made her escape.
friggin parallel universe
I like the idea of parallel universes because
it allows me to write a story with a moral that won't offend
anyone. You see, I have this great metaphor about a sinking ship
and immigration but if I use it to describe what is going on in the
United States these days I will piss off all sort of people, but if
I can use some science fiction premise then nobody can argue that
I'm a horrible human being. Perhaps a horrible science fiction
writer but not a horrible human being. Maybe even a horrible writer
in general but not ... well, you get the idea.
Let's say that despite all the scientific
evidence to the contrary a wormhole opens up between our reality
and another universe. Well, a different universe but one that is
strikingly similar to ours with only a few small differences. These
differences are all economic. The people themselves look and act
the same, culturally there are few differences and even most of the
government officials and celebrities are the same.
Again, unlike most science fiction where
people are not allowed to interact with themselves in another
universe otherwise there will be dire consequences, in my story
people can walk back and forth through the wormhole and do whatever
they want and the space/time continuum doesn't seem to give a rat's
Now here is the real meat of the story. In
one universe unemployment is like 50% and crime is rampant and in
the other reality it's not. I could give you an exact statistics
but I'm obviously just winging it so there is no reason to insult
your intelligence and come up with some arbitrary number like 4.5%
unemployment. I will be insulting your intelligence a little later
on and I don't want to push it. Knowing the boundaries of your
reader is one of the ways you know you're a top-notch writer,
science fiction or otherwise. How much insulting will they take in
stride? You might want to write that down if you ever aspire to
Anyway (also avoid starting sentences with
"Anyway", very amateurish), because of this unique set of
circumstances where these is no reason for someone in a shitty
universe not to jump though a wormhole to a cooler universe, the
people in the shitty universe do just that. Soon the people in the
formerly-cooler-but-now-not-as-cool universe start to worry.
Although their robust economy can afford to take in some new
citizenry, eventually there is going to be a problem if they don't
slow down the number of people streaming through the wormhole.
Don't get me wrong, they are compassionate and all, but let's say
there is a sinking ship and a compassionate ship decides to start
taking people aboard. At a certain point the compassionate ship is
going to sink under the weight of all the rescued people. Then they
all drown. The path to hell being paved with good intentions
and all. Do you get that subtle point about how by doing something
that appears good everybody suffers?
Here is the part where I start to insult your
intelligence by making the wormhole sound exactly like the border
between the US and Mexico without actually coming right out and
saying it. We both know what I'm getting at but I don't want to
insult anyone so I can't point out what a shithole Mexico has
become. Or how everybody in the US, except for those who have
already snuck into the country from Mexico, wishes we could somehow
build a wormhole that takes all the illegal aliens crossing our
border and hurls them into a parallel country on the bad side of
the universe or, barring that, the center of an active volcano. You
can imagine the backlash if I were dumb enough to come out and
write something like that.
That's why the whole parallel universe idea
is such gold. I can say things without saying them. I can even use
the term "aliens" and have it make sense. Some sense anyway. Let me
just point out again how compassionate the people in the
low-unemployment universe are, lest you think they are bad people
for 'accidently' blowing up the wormhole. In my story I swear it
was just a crazy accident.
It goes without saying that the story ends
happily ever after for the one universe and the other universe ends
up like friggin' Mexico. See what I did there? You can't claim that
I'm anti-Mexico because I didn't actually say what happened to the
other universe. I simply stated it ended up "like Mexico" so if you
are pro-Mexico then the story must have a happy ending, right?
I do agree the "friggin" was unnecessary.
my own personal Waterloo
When C.M. Coolidge was commissioned by the
advertising firm of Brown & Bigelow in 1903 to create a series
of paintings depicting anthropomorphized dogs engaged in a variety
of human activities I don't think anyone could have predicted the
firestorm of controversy that would follow. In particular the many
conspiracy theories centered on his 1906 work Waterloo,
better known to the world as Dogs Playing Poker.
From the time of its release there were those
that accused Coolidge of placing hidden messages in the painting
but it wasn't until his death in 1934 that scholars began to take
some of these speculations seriously. The painting depicts 5 dogs
playing poker, an innocent enough premise, but when examined
closely there are more questions than answers. Why is the glass
tipped over in front of the angry Bulldog? Could there be another
dog under the table and if so could it be a Wiener Dog? Why do none
of the cigars appear to give off smoke and, most troubling, why
does the effeminate Collie not have a chair?
A new wave of interest in the painting
occurred in the 1970s when transplanted Georgia farmboy Doyle
Harden began to crank out depictions of the painting from his
Mexican factory on a novel type of canvas: velvet. Originating in
Kashmir, velvet painting is an ancient technique embraced by early
religious leaders and to this day many early works hang in the
Vatican. The renewed popularity of the piece as well as the
newfound association with velvet did little to quell the rumors
that somewhere in this painting lay a message from its creator.
Recently it was revealed that if you
superimpose the painting with its mirror image and both are made
partially transparent, the composite picture clearly shows the
Retriever clutching what appears to be a young puppy. It also
appears to transform the Sheep Dog into a mix breed. These
revelations immediately caused an uproar and many websites
promoting various explanations crashed due to heavy traffic.
What was C.M. Coolidge trying to say?
And how could a dog with no opposable thumbs
even hold cards let alone drink out of a glass?
Maybe the answer lay in the name.
Waterloo. After being declared an 'outlaw' by the Congress
of Vienna, the Battle of Waterloo signified the end of Napoleon's
rule as Emperor. Defeated by the combined might of an Anglo-Allied
army led by the Duke of Wellington and a Prussian force commanded
by Gebhard von Blucher, Napoleon was forced to surrender to the
British and was later exiled to Saint Helena.
What could any of that have to do with a
painting of dogs playing poker?
The mystery only deepened on February 15,
2005 when the original was sold by Doyle New York at auction for
$590,400 despite the fact that it had been appraised for between
$30,000 and $50,000 and no other 'legitimate' work from Coolidge
had ever sold for more than $74,000. Sold to an 'undisclosed' buyer
Perhaps unrelated, but perhaps not, Coolidge
was also the inventor of the 'comic foreground', the large cut-outs
where people stick their heads through to be photographed as an
amusing character, that enjoys widespread popularity at carnivals
and fairgrounds. How did someone born to abolitionist Quaker
farmers in 1844 ever come up with that idea?
I'm trying to present this as unbiased as I
can but holy shit, I'm getting goosebumps here. I smell summer
blockbuster with Ryan Reynolds as the plucky yet irascible academic
trying to get to the bottom of things.
The bottom line is this ... how cool would it
be to find a giant cut-out of Waterloo and get four of your
friends to stick their heads through with you and get a
That would be totally cool.
come with me
Unlike my usual offerings this time I am
offering you the reader an opportunity to go on a journey with me.
For those who wanted just a quick read before returning to your
empty and meaningless lives I would suggest you wrap it up here and
move on. This will require some work but I promise you will find it
very rewarding. I invite you into my masturbation ritual.
First of all let me say this. I am not a fan
of the typical male masturbation session. Hunched over a magazine
or clicking websites furiously is not my idea of a good time. My
routine has been refined over years and years of careful
post-ejaculation reviews to the point that I think I can now offer
this formula up to any male who feels they are not getting
everything they deserve from their special time alone. My newest
wrinkle has been starting the entire session by tying on a
hachimaki headband, a traditional Japanese symbol of mental
resolve. Plus the red dot makes me feel sexier.
A critical part of the process is to make the
soundtrack that will be playing in the background beforehand so you
don't have to switch CDs when your hands might be otherwise
Like so many of my gangsta friends, I like to
acknowledge females who are no longer 'with me.' They choose to
show their respect by tipping out the first few swallows of the
malt liquor. Same with me, except in this case it's my pre-seminal
fluid (or Cowper's fluid). To get the party started right you'll
need a National Geographic magazine (preferably pre-1985) and your
high school yearbook. This is your cue to start up your musical
soundtrack and the first song I recommend is Same Old Lang
Syne by Dan Folgelberg. It's a little slow but remember,
gentlemen, this is a marathon, not a sprint. You'll want to keep
your strokes gentle and nostalgic. Tip out the first few 'swallows'
and feel free to let your mind wander a bit over past encounters.
You shouldn't feel the need to be anywhere close to full
"The beer was empty and our tongues were tired
And running out of things to say
She gave a kiss to me as I got out and I watched her drive
Just for a moment I was back at school
And felt that old familiar pain
And as I turned to make my way back home
The snow turned in to rain..."
OK…as the last strains of Dan fade out we're
ready to move forward. I always like to light a candle at this
point, before the 'heavy lifting' begins. Might I suggest Lemon
Verbena or a nice Mountain Laurel? Cilantro will just make you
think of that slut who cheated on you in college and if you want to
suddenly remember that incident in Jamaica with that crazy stoned
hooker then by all means feel free to light up a little Coconut
Lime. Otherwise I'd stick in the melon family. Some of you might
ask if some sort of fragrance diffuser is required. Absolutely not!
We're looking for ambiance here, not the overpowering scents of a
Hmmm, where were we? Oh yes … song 2. Time to
switch gears and put the past behind us, right guys? We're no
longer that guy who was known for disappointing his partner. Now
we're a man! In keeping with that spirit, by now Crazy Bitch
by Buckcherry should be blasting out of your speakers. Now of
course this song is exploitive in nature and does not show much
tenderness in talking about the act of making love. Exactly.
Now is a good time to apply whatever
lubricants you feel are necessary. Myself, I'm old school and like
the feel of a handful of Manglide but I'm not opposed to K-Y or
even a little Sliquid Sizzle in a pinch. Personally I've found that
Vaseline starts strong but fades fast and might leave your dick
looking as red as a baboon’s ass when you're finished. I know some
of you swear by spit, olive oil, pie filling (what male didn't get
curious after watching American Pie? I should have waited
myself until I had a pie in the fridge other than pecan), or
butter, but I value my junk too much to risk irritating it.
Now that friction concerns are behind me I'm
usually having at it by the first chorus. It's usually at this
point that I remember to either sit down or move away from the bay
window. Be careful what you're looking at during this phase of
masturbating as whatever it is will immediately be whisked away and
placed deep into your sexual subconscious. I don't care if it's a
crime drama on TV, a box of donuts sitting on a nearby table or the
neighbor’s parrot suddenly squawking, it will forever make you
somehow horny down the line. I'm not trying to explain it, I'm just
warning you. Don't believe me? Just ask the girl behind the counter
at Dunkin Donuts. I'm telling you, you never know how strange your
brain is wired until something happens to remind you that we're all
just a bunch of chemicals sloshing around in our head. To prove my
point, next time you're in the shower let the water hit your teeth.
I started doing this as a way to make them extra pearly white (no,
it doesn't help) but found out that when I do it somehow makes me
feel like a vampire. lol Really. Laugh if you will but I defy you
to try it and NOT want to bite someone. Anyway …
If you're anything like me, by now you're
ready to bring this baby home. Now that I've embraced the truth of
sexuality thanks to my friends in Buckcherry, it's time to go even
more primal. The next song is in all respects the money shot and
you must not deviate from it. The artist is Stewart Copeland. The
song is off the album The Rhythmatist. I like to start with the
first song, Koteja (Oh Bolilla), because if I'm feeling
particularly strong I can then rush headlong into Brazaville
and even, on the rare occasion, last as long as Liberte
(yes, I see the irony there). It's not unusual that I get so worked
up that I'm forced to peel off my sweater or even remove my shoes
at this point. I'm talking getting into it! I like to have both a
box of Kleenex and a few 1" pine breaking boards handy as I get
closer to finishing as it seems equally likely that at some point I
will either fly into a crying jag or feel the urge to punch through
wood. I like to be covered both ways, and no, neither of these
activities in any way take away from the total enjoyment of the
Liftoff. All that remains is the question of
how to catch this salty discharge. I think I spent more time
deciding which word to put in front of discharge than I did writing
the whole damn blog. Originally I went manly, then stuck in creamy,
then gooey, and then even toyed with magnificent. I even switched
discharge to payload once. Anyway, to answer the question, I'm a
throwback. I go tissue. I have a friend that tells me I'm crazy and
that an old sock is the way to go. Nah. You can keep your moist
towelettes as well. You think at a time like this, my forehead damp
with sweat and my legs twitching involuntarily, that I'm really
concerned with the benefits of an antibacterial wipe? I just spent
15 minutes wrestling with my own baloney bayonet, give me the tried
and true tissue to collect my payload (there … I got it in anyway)
and be done with it.
So there it is. My little ritual. I have
thrown open a little window into my life for you all to peer into.
Your feedback is strongly discouraged.
reality check please
If swearing to yourself was something people
did, then Steve would swear to himself that he didn't even know
hemorrhoids could burst. For the three days after the hemorrhoid
had popped out of his ass and sat there like a purple raisin
clinging to his anus he had tried his best to ignore it. Ignore the
itching and aching as it slowly swelled up until it felt like a
walnut between his ass cheeks. It had kept him up the previous two
nights and all the Preparation H in the world didn't seem to have
any effect. Still, when he was sitting there and all of a sudden he
felt his pants get wet he would have sworn, if swearing to yourself
was something people did, that he had shit himself. He was totally
puzzled though, he had sharted before but never without some
warning or feeling of his bowels loosening.
He ran for the toilet to see how bad the
He grabbed a handful of toilet paper and
dragged it tentatively through the DMZ to see the extent of the
shitting and looked down to find the paper soaked and his hand
He awoke a few minutes later with two clear
realizations. The first being that he did not handle the sight of
blood very well. The second was he understood why when someone was
threatening to jump off a building the police and firemen don't
scramble to make sure that they land on a toilet. If he had to
describe porcelain in one word it would be unforgiving.
His underpants looked like one of those dye
packs they put in with the money when they want to screw up a good
bank robbery had gone off in his ass. Underpants ruined. Jeans
ruined. Chair he was sitting on ruined.
And his ass was still bleeding. He crouched
in front of his computer with toilet paper shoved up his ass like
some anal tampon trying to find out what was going on in his ass.
There was all sorts of advice on what he should have done to
prevent the hemorrhoid from bursting in the first place but very
little on what to do post-burst other than go to his doctor and he
would be damned if he was going to take this little show over to
So he lay on his couch and shoved more toilet
paper in his ass all day and wondered if someone could really bleed
out from a hole in their rectum. "So this is rock bottom," he
thought to himself.
Eventually the bleeding started to slow down,
which was when he got the heads-up from his body that he needed to
take a crap.
Panic swept through him. Panic and the
four-egg crab and asparagus with apricot marmalade omelet he'd had
for breakfast that was hurtling down the pipes like a runaway
freight train. Beads of sweat formed on his brow as he felt the
coolness of the seat when he lowered himself onto the toilet. He
might as well have been putting his feet in cold metal stirrups
because he was about to deliver a half pound bouncing baby turd.
His hemorrhoid opened up again. He didn't even know how to begin to
There was going to be shit in his open wound.
People worry about a little dirt getting into a cut or scrape and
here he was with shit in a giant bleeding hole in his body! Shit!
If during an operation a disgruntled orderly snuck in and took a
crap into the open chest cavity of a patient they wouldn't even try
to save the poor bastard. They'd hustle him off to the basement
incinerator before anyone could find out what had happened. Steve
could only imagine his poor white blood cells standing guard over
his cut only to see the forces of shit come pouring through
bringing every known disease and virus known to mankind. His head
He half-heartedly tried to wipe, shoved
another handful of toilet paper back into his ass and made for the
Hemorrhoids do burst and once they do, they
never heal because every time you take a dump it rips the scab off
and the whole thing starts again until finally you stop eating and
die on your couch like Steve did. Well he died on his couch not
yours but you get the idea.
So unless you're reading this on your couch
with a huge cut in your ass you should really take a deep breath
and appreciate the fact that your ass is fine and life could be
worse. Have a great day!
In 1935 Erwin Schrödinger came up with a
thought experiment in which a cat is stuck in a sealed box with a
glass vial of poison that will be shattered at a random time. Until
you open the box the cat has to be considered both alive and dead
due to the fact that you cannot know if the poison has been
released. Most people are familiar with this paradox but what most
of them don't know is that it was actually a critique of the
Copenhagen interpretation, not an explanation. He believed that by
showing the counterintuitiveness of quantum mechanics he could
throw an unfavorable light on the math needed to describe quantum
In 2010, a writer named Phil Catani started
to write a screenplay called Schrödinger's Cat. He has spent
the last 2 years shopping it to agents and filmmakers alike. It has
been pitched as an action adventure where the misunderstood hero
has only a few hours to save the beautiful scientist trapped in a
sealed container with a vial of poison. It has been pitched as an
intense drama centering on the life of a bright up-and-coming
mathematician and his struggles against both the evil teachers
union at his place of employment and his own crippling
insecurities. It has been pitched as an interracial buddy flick
called Schrödinger & the Cat. It has been pitched as a
sci-fi epic that has a regular ending and a special Director's cut
alternate ending. It has been pitched as a comedy where the
beleaguered main character gets trapped in a sealed container with
There has been interest from a few
influential individuals but to date no offers have come. Phil has
gone through periods of sincere optimism and deep self doubt. With
so many relational observers in Hollywood it is fair to say there
is equal evidence to support both interpretations of his prospects.
The system in place to determine which screenwriters are successful
and which will labor in obscurity is so flawed that Phil seems
unable to observe whether or not progress is being made. At times,
he wonders if there really is a difference between a shaky or
out-of-focus photograph and a snapshot of clouds and fog banks.
He is deeply in debt and yet he knows that if
he can sell one script he can achieve financial independence. He
can't get a date but he knows if he can sell one script he can
sleep with models. Nobody wants to talk to him but if he can sell a
script suddenly his opinion on almost any topic will be in great
He knows that in 10 years he will know how it
all turned out.
But right now, Schrödinger's Cat
tucked under his arm and on his way to another pitch meeting, he is
both a success and a failure.
the myth of female orgasm
It's quite simple. Nature does not allow
things that serve no purpose. Every claw, every tooth and every
ejaculation has some bigger role in the survival of a species. It's
with this firmly in mind that I offer the following: the female
orgasm doesn't exist. It's a myth propagated by women to exert
control over men. Let me explain.
Let's take a trip out to the ol' African
Serengeti and take a quick poke around, shall we? Lots of game
animals. Lots of game animals having sex. You can sit in Tanzania
and watch wildebeest for as long as you wish and you will never
once see a male wildebeest start flipping a female wildebeest every
which way as he plants his seed, spending 20 minutes getting her
ready then plowing her from every angle to make sure she has a
mind-blowing experience. Hell no. If you're a wildebeest and you
want to avoid being lion food you dump and run, right? Same with
me! Does that make me a bad guy?
Let's look at it from another angle. The male
orgasm is what releases our sperm into the female (or onto, or all
over, depending upon which porn you prefer). There is a
point behind it. The so-called female orgasm doesn't release
an egg or even help the mating ritual along. It's superfluous to
the act of intercourse, window dressing. Evolution wouldn't allow
it. So why would females pretend to achieve this 'state?’ Now
that's the right question. It's all about power over males.
So many girlie-men these days are concerned about their partners
'satisfaction.’ The women put on these elaborate shows to either
reward or punish their man. They can cruelly build up to an
'orgasm' only to make the man feel at the last possible moment that
they somehow blew it for the woman, or they can yelp and holler
like the man is packing an electric salami if, for example, the man
has just given her a new necklace.
A study done was done in 1977 by the
Reproductive Biology Research Foundation at the Department of
Obstetrics and Gynecology at Washington University in St.
Louis. They recorded some of the first laboratory data on the
anatomy and physiology of human sexual response based on direct
observation of 382 women. Their findings on the nature of female
sexual arousal and orgasm would have dispelled many long
standing misconceptions had not the National Organization of Women
(NOW) stepped in and made sure that everyone at the RBRF clammed up
(any non-linear free association you make between clam and vagina
is entirely your own doing). Somewhere tucked safely in a
vault in Missouri is proof that females can't have orgasms.
It's more diabolical than it might seem on
the surface. It's not just pure "if they have one I want one
jealousy" stuff. Ever wonder why Nancy Pelosi remains so
influential despite the fact that she is obviously a sea-hag
escaped from hell? Whenever there is an important issue in front of
her and she needs the support of women everywhere, she will make a
veiled threat about spilling the beans about the whole female
orgasm thing if females don't start playing ball (again with the
double entendres). This is a big issue and yet men are just too
preoccupied to see the conspiracy going on right beneath their
noses (ok, that one I meant).
So my message is clear. Women, enough with
the theatrics ok? I'm not handling out any Emmys. Just lay there
and take it like a wildebeest, will you? And guys, don't let your
girl play with your head. Do like I do. Just get in, get out and
plant the seeds of the next generation ... hopefully one that
doesn't have to live under the dark tyranny of the female
Favorite Facebook Status updates:
Why do some people worry about "all hell breaking
loose"? Sounds pretty fun to me. Definitely would break up the
I don't think I got the same 'the birds and the bees'
talk most people did. I won't spoil the ending but it went a long
way in explaining hummingbirds.
I like the idea of fancy hotels having doormen
outside dressed up and waiting to hold the door open for me. I just
think I'd rather see them dressed up as a hot dog. If we're going
to make it clear to everyone that their job is to open doors for
other people then there is no reason we can't go the extra mile and
humiliate them as well.
Because my ass is my best feature I always get to
meetings early so I can be at the window looking casually outward
before other people come in. When they do I turn my head, flash a
winning smile and give a little clench. Wa-pow! Manion for the
I think Stephen Hawking is famous enough to warrant
an action figure. Think of all the cool accessories for the
wheelchair. G.I. Joe having trouble with COBRA? Send in Stephen
with the jet pack.
"I shall commit my thoughts to paper, it is true;
but that is a poor medium for the communication of feeling."
Did you ever play that game where you were
blindfolded and asked to stick your hand in a paper bag filled with
wet noodles and asked to guess what it was then just as you started
to touch it you were told it was Frankenstein's brain?
"I feel exquisite pleasure in dwelling on the
recollections of childhood, before misfortune had tainted my mind
and changed its bright visions of extensive usefulness into gloomy
and narrow reflections upon self."
That's what it was like for most guys the
first time they got to third base. There were a lot of details left
out in health class.
"The world was to me a secret which I
desired to divine. Curiosity, earnest research to learn the hidden
laws of nature, gladness akin to rapture, as they were unfolded to
me, are among the earliest sensations I can remember."
For one, there was no guidance given on the
female sex organ whatsoever. They might have told us the names of
the various tubing and it amazes me to this day that at least one
teacher didn’t give us young men the heads-up about the fact that
when we get to third base we shouldn't approach it like a plumber
trying to unclog a toilet. Far worse than that, it's criminal that
the instructors didn’t warn us that when we remove our 'plungers'
there might be some odor attached to the endeavor.
"When I reflected on his crimes and malice,
my hatred and revenge burst all bounds of moderation."
I swear I distinctly remember wondering if I
needed to take the girl to the hospital. I almost passed out from
the fumes. Later on I learned this was normal but at the time I
didn't know whether to just wash the finger or cut it off before
whatever substance was on it began to eat away at my wrist. We all
might look back on this kind of thing and laugh but at the time
it's traumatizing stuff. It is against this backdrop that boys and
girls are asked to explore their own sexuality, not knowing what
other fun little secrets await them on their journey to manhood or
womanhood. We round third and head for home asking ourselves "what
else haven't they told me?"
"I cannot describe to you my sensations on
the near prospect of my undertaking. It is impossible to
communicate to you a conception of the trembling sensation, half
pleasurable and half fearful, with which I am preparing to
This doesn't explain why it is we have both
romantic comedies, which spend the entire time documenting the
attempts of a man to get a girl into the bedroom, and porn, where
we see what actually takes place there. Why is that? Why do we need
two movies for one transaction? For any young viewer that has sat
through an hour and a half of Sandra Bullock being wined and dined
only to have the credits start to roll just as she is led through
the bedroom door, it must send an odd message. For an audience
member who has been to third base but hasn't rounded home it could
actually be terrifying.
We simply don't know how to talk about, let
alone teach about, sex in health class. Having never taught it I
can't say for sure, but I'd have to guess all the nervous giggling
in the classroom every day must be creepy as hell.
"The innocent and helpless creature bestowed
on them by heaven, whom to bring up to good, and whose future lot
it was in their hands to direct to happiness or misery, according
as they fulfilled their duties towards me."
In the end though, perhaps thinking for a few
seconds that you are touching Frankenstein's brain is actually
3 hours, 5 thoughts
Sometimes it gets me down a bit. All the
ugliness in the world. I'm not talking about poverty, disease,
hunger or hatred. I'm talking about physical appearance.
People walking around with their big ugly
faces and flawed bodies. Just walking around inflicting themselves
on everybody. They know they're ugly and yet they still crawl from
their homes each days and interact with the population at
I'm just sick to death of it.
I know, I know … what can you do? You can
point it out to them all day long and yet they still want to hang
around everybody else. The worst part is that they want to find a
way to procreate and pass on their hideous genes to another
generation of ugly people. You need a license to drive a car,
right? Isn't there a way that we can pass a law that requires
people to have some sort of committee give them a quick looking
over before letting them run off and create more of the same?
I'm just sick of some people's unrelenting
ugliness. Day in and day out with the same repulsive mug. How hard
is it to buy a cloth sack and throw it over their unsightly
Suddenly, I'm the one that has to sit there
all day looking at this fucking ugly person and I have to keep my
mouth shut while it's perfectly ok for them to crash around
inflicting their face on me? Even cracking what passes for a smile
and making the bile in my stomach lurch up into my esophagus.
What the fuck?! Has the world gone mad?
Put your fucking head in a wood chipper you
ugly fucking person. Either go join a freak show or tie rocks to
your feet and go drown yourself! That's what I want to scream every
time I have the misfortune of stumbling into one of these
abominations with their moles or too-thick eyebrows or
non-apple-bottoms or chipped teeth or too-long noses or too-long
toes or stubby noses or non-flat stomachs.
You can't teach a robot to cry. That's what I
always hear when people talk about artificial intelligence, that
we'll never be able to teach robots emotions.
Don't. Just teach them when they're supposed
to act a certain way. Look down at a dead body and cry. It's what
you're supposed to do. Have the ducts in their eyes release a few
drops of water and they are everything that we think we are.
Everything we're told we are. Everything we are supposed to be even
though sometimes we're not.
Teach them to lie to themselves. Instruct
them how to pretend and they'll figure out the rest. Just sit over
the box containing a body and release the tears and hold everything
else in. Teach them to fear what they feel or don't feel. Even
better, give them the serenity of knowing they don't feel anything
but it's ok. Be themselves ... which is nothing but a ghost walking
through a finite period of time.
Until it's their time to be in the box. Not
seeing the parade of people walk by, some of the crying and some of
them not and some of them wishing they could and others wishing
when they cried they meant it.
Maybe robots are too honest to cry.
I think it's important to every now and then
treat myself to a little subtle upgrade. While I am not typically a
fan of cosmetic surgery, having seen too many vain women end up
looking like some sort of melting creature from space, I don't
think a little work here and there is a bad thing, as long as it
makes you feel better about yourself. That's why I marched right
into my doctor's office and got my anus bleached yesterday.
I'm telling you, I feel like a million
Once reserved for porn actors, anal
lightening (sounds like a gay baseball team) is now all the rage.
It's no different than getting your teeth whitened these days. They
hand you a little color card displaying all the shades of the
post-procedure bung, from cheery salmon to ghoul white. You can,
for a little extra, do what I did and get a little anal fade going.
Now instead of being worried about what people will think about my
dark ring I simply can't wait for the first person to drink in the
sight of my new hole.
It's as easy as bending over, spreading your
cheeks and having a cream applied to your asshole. Then all you
have to do is sit there holding your butt wide open for 45 minutes
while the cream burns your anus. Once you're done you get a 5
minute break and then you repeat that step two more times.
Literally you only have to be in anal agony for a little more than
two hours and you get to stagger out with a whole new
One you can be proud of.
What is it about the nipple anyway?
If you're a guy, it's all about the nipple.
You haven't truly seen the breast until you've seen the nipple. A
girl can have a swimsuit on that exposes 98% of the jug but without
that last fleshy little ring you can't consider yourself as having
seen the tit. It's the difference between the pull-out Sears bra
advertisement in the local paper and porn.
Same girl. Same pose. Just the
They come in all sizes, shapes and shades and
once a man has seen a nipple it forever changes the way he sees
that girl. Legs and butts and stomachs are all well and good but
once a guy has laid eyes on a nipple the relationship has gone to
the next level. He is a member of the nipple club.
Now the problem with girls today is that they
are not as worried about whom they allow into their nipple club.
With picture phones and webcams they are inviting in members at a
dizzying rate! I don't think they fully appreciate how sacred the
nipple is. In fact, they risk making it just another body part.
I know what you're thinking.
What about the vagina?
That's a whole other issue. That's a
reproductive organ and thus lacks the naïve charm of a nipple. Seen
at the wrong angle the vagina is downright terrifying.
Not the nipple. It can say hello from under a
t-shirt or lay there quietly lurking under a sweater like an
alligator waiting for a gazelle to stray too close to the water's
edge. It's the great wildcard when it comes to arousal. Men will
paw at them clumsily not knowing whether the slightest breeze
against one will have the girl's toes curling in ecstasy or if he
might as well be pulling on a nearby doorstop.
Why do you think Hollywood is so obsessed
with the 'nip slip'? If you're a female celebrity and you think you
have cute nipples, it's only a matter of time until you
"accidentally" let one pop out on the red carpet. If you have ugly
nipples then you have to be a 'serious' actress.
For heaven's sake, men have them!
But somehow on a girl, it's a whole different
So, anyway. If you're a girl …take care of
your nipples and try to avoid showing them to just anyone. I know
that when you see them every day they become very boring but to the
men of the world they are still something special.
I have been fortunate in my life in the
respect of having been party to more than one last hurrah. Some
final event that brings to a close a particular chapter of your
life or becomes some sort of turning point in the lives around you.
The question becomes whether or not it's important, that if at the
time you were aware of it being a last hurrah, or if it was only in
retrospect that you knew it was, in fact, a last hurrah. Can you
have a next-to-last hurrah or even just a plain old hurrah? What if
you have a reunion of a last hurrah 20 years later ... does that
On August 5, 1945, there were a lot of people
in Hiroshima having a last hurrah without even knowing it.
Guilt is an odd animal. It doesn't come at
you like most other opponents. Lust will charge through the door
and make itself known, but can be easily vanquished by quickly
rubbing one out. Envy can be talked down off the ledge by simply
taking a good look around and turning off the TV for a few days.
Greed ain't nuttin but a thang. Nothing uses the shadows quite like
So I'm having this dream last night, I'm at a
wake and although I don't recognize any of the faces, I'm still
standing there all morose and such and wondering who's in the box.
That's the thing about dreams, sometimes you're just thrown in
balls-deep with no explanation. It's been awhile since anyone I
know has died and I'm pretty sure most people I know are healthy
and not on death's doorstep. So why a funeral?
I try to turn the corner of the room I'm in
and look into the bigger, adjacent room that is holding the guest
of honor but it's crowded and I can't seem to get by anyone.
Next I'm on a train. I sort of get that one,
pushing through a crowd made my brain 'jump the tracks'
appropriately enough, and think of the pushing and shoving that
takes place on a commuter train. The thing is, I'm still trying to
make my way through the crowd to see who is in the box. I seem to
think that he or she is interred in the next car. I'm keeping my
eyes down so as not to make eye contact with anyone, the last thing
I need in an already confusing dream is to add some conversation.
The train is barreling along, in and out of dark places and light
and it's creating sort of a strobe effect.
Just like the party I'm at. I lift my eyes
and I'm surrounded by old friends. Except they are still young and
I'm still young and the music is thumping and the lights are
flashing and it is clearly on. Someone passes me a beer and
we're all shouting above the loud music and having a great time.
Everything I say is funny and everything they say is funny and
we're loud and obnoxious and suddenly I'm back at the funeral home.
My friends are gone but I'm still holding a beer and shouting and
acting the fool. Everyone is looking at me in horror and suddenly I
just know that this is a child's wake because everyone is
particularly heartbroken and I just yelled something humorous and
And I wake up.
Sitting here now I can totally rationalize
how the subconscious is complicated and you can't take things
either too literally or too seriously but I'm telling you when I
woke up my cup runnethed over with guilt. Try as I might I couldn't
get back to sleep, all I wanted to do was somehow make it back to
the funeral home and apologize to everyone. A funeral home that
didn't exist filled with people I've never met before and I laid
there in bed feeling like the worst guy in the world.
A wake. A train. A party. What the fuck did
Now I wonder why I chose to say guilt was an
animal instead of an emotion. Does it stalk you? Does it pick up
your scent and trail you and chase you through sleep and wakes and
trains and parties and then suddenly decide the time is right to
jump out and inflict itself on you?
Can it really feel triumphant if it makes you
feel horrible but you're not sure why? Seems like a bit of a hollow
victory if I need to spend time trying to figure out what I have to
feel guilty for.
Or maybe that's the big win, making you sort
through all the possible transgressions you have to feel
accountable for. Maybe this guilt stuff is a little smarter than I
give it credit for but maybe it underestimated me as well.
Tonight I'm going back to that wake and I'm
going to tear that shit up.
battle dressed for bed
You have to admire the logic of children.
It's usually a lot more reasonable than most of us give them credit
for. Let's look at monsters for example.
When I was a kid I knew for certain that
monsters didn't exist from sunrise until about 10 or 11 pm. I knew
it for certain and nobody could convince me otherwise. On the other
hand, if my parents asked me to run down into the basement and grab
something for them after the normal television viewing hours had
concluded I looked at it as nothing short of a death sentence if i
walked down there unarmed.
Here is where the interesting logical part of
being a child came into play. Monsters didn't exist, but if they
did then others things that didn't must also exist. Or at
least be different than they appear during normal daylight
For instance, my Nerf gun. If monsters did
indeed exist than my Nerf gun must be a Smith & Wesson
Deathmaster 450X, spitting out a combination of hot lead and
Following me so far?
I would walk down the stairs knowing monsters
didn't exist and feeling complete terror, but also confident that
the Nerf gun in my hand shot only little Nerf bullets unless
monsters did exist, at which time I was positive that it would
blast out a hail of scorching lasers and send whatever was lurking
in the closet straight back to hell.
To walk in both worlds simultaneously is
something that only a child can do.
Obviously my parents must have thought it
cute that I would hesitate when the request was made and then
nonchalantly grab my weapon before starting the trek downstairs.
They existed in only one place, the world where monsters don't
exist and they enjoyed sending their offspring on silly errands for
the simple joy of seeing them face their own inner demons.
As soon as my little hand touched the
doorknob two distinct realities popped into existence. My one-piece
Scooby Doo pajamas with the feet on them in one, black boots, camo
pants and torn white muscle shirt in the other. The distant sound
of the evening news coming on in one and the buzzing of helicopters
over a soundtrack of All Along the Watchtower by Jimi
Hendricks in the other.
Two kids making their way down the same
stairs; the helpful son grabbing a screwdriver for his Dad and
earth's last hope for survival.
The parents listening heard only one of them
slowly making his way down, the opening of the tool chest situated
at the other end of the basement and then, finally, the sound of
little feet tearing ass up the stairs in a way that made them sure
that he would be unable to slow down in time and keep running
straight through the opposite wall and into the garage.
Except for that one time. The time that the
sound of the tool chest was instead followed by the
almost-imperceptible noise of a light switch at the top of the
stairs being turned off by a father who thought it would be funny
to see how his son reacted.
"They're coming straight for you!" screamed
my headset as my fingers fumbled to release the safety of my
Deathmaster 450X. I laid down suppression fire best as I could as I
tried to make it behind the couch before the real shit started. The
closet door swung open violently and in the darkness I could see
the glowing red eyes, smell the foul stench of their breath and
hear their cloven hooves as they launched themselves at me. The
grenade launcher attachment sent off a few of the concussion
variety and soon the carpeting was littered with teeth and scales.
I felt them circling behind me so, with a burst of profanity, I
rolled forward and made a break for it. Suddenly I saw a shaft of
light and realized that one of my parents had opened the door at
the top of stairs. They had no idea what awaited them only a few
yards away so I ran. I ran until my lungs were about to burst and I
covered those 12 feet in record time.
That's when I saw it. Lurching up the stairs
towards the outline of my Dad. All horns and bad intentions. I
couldn't risk using my flamethrower, but a miss from my 450X could
be a one-way ticket to oblivion for my old man. I had to risk it.
My finger squeezed the trigger at the same instant my Dad must have
flipped the light switch back on.
Monster brains suddenly erupted and covered
his horrified face as the twitching and trembling beast collapsed
at his feet. He looked down and saw me kneeling with my
still-smoking weapon clutched in my blood-soaked hands and for a
moment his eyes met mine and then his finger twitched involuntarily
and plunged the stairway back into darkness. Almost as quickly it
flicked again, I'll never be sure how voluntarily, and once again
the light popped on and I sat there in my Scooby Doo pajamas with
the feet in the them and he stood there with a face completely
devoid of monster brains. He never thanked me for what could have
never actually happened.
Yep, kids certainly have a different way of
seeing the world. Or worlds. The logical and the illogical, the
real and the unreal, and the place where both exist simultaneously.
My dad and I never spoke of that night but he never asked me to go
into the basement or the closet or the woods or attic or the garage
after dark again.
It's almost a shame actually, such a waste of
(first appeared on www.freeflashfiction.com
I've said it before and I'll type it again,
your embarrassing moments are really the only things that are truly
yours. It's hard to picture any success I've had without thinking
of the people or circumstance behind it. Not so with those times
where you are completely mortified. While I won't go as far as to
say they define a person, they certainly throw a spotlight into the
nether regions of who you truly are. Now obviously you're sitting
back slightly in your chair eager to hear about one of mine. I
mean, I've set the stage, now all I have to do is start in and tell
you about that one time at the bachelor party ...
Not going to happen.
I am rarely ashamed about anything I've done
but the bachelor party incident is not something I will willingly
share unless a certain amount of water boarding is involved.
Probably a great deal of it. Now, before you go rushing off to read
another blog about cooking or Jesus, I will throw you a bone and
tell you another story that is almost equally as humiliating. That
seems very fair to me.
It was my first day of college. I had just
been dropped off by the parents and was fresh off meeting my new
roommate for the year. A large, thick young man who didn't seem
particularly bright and mumbled his words a bit much for my liking
but on the other hand it could have been worse. At least that's
what I was thinking to myself after our initial interaction. I was
stacking towels in my closet when he walked by and casually
mentioned that the showers were co-ed. He then departed the room
and left me frozen in place.
Literally, my arm was holding a towel half
way on route to its destination and there it remained as I
processed what I had just heard.
It was quite obvious he was too much of a
dullard to be kidding; he must have thought it just neighborly to
mention it as he saw me putting away my towels.
My legs almost gave out before I made it to
the edge of my bed where I promptly gave up any pretense of
standing and let gravity do its thing.
The battle inside my head began in earnest.
My eyes were thrilled with this news because it meant seeing boobs
flopping around whenever I chose. The rest of my body was panicked,
knowing I was physically a complete disaster. Any girl who caught
sight of me naked would soon spread the word that the Lance Manion
show was something to be missed at all costs.
Except ... for my penis.
I'm going to come right out and say it. I am
But let me back up a bit and explain
something about the young Lance Manion that sat trembling on the
edge of his bed. He differs greatly from the Lance Manion of today
who is so comfortable speaking about himself in the third person.
Back then I was a bit naive. Not only had I not been around the
block much, but I wasn't even sure where this block was. Events had
conspired to keep me a bit behind the times if you will. I was
entered into school a year earlier than most kids and I hit puberty
much later than other males. Those two factors worked together to
make sure I didn't get my bait and tackle until well into my junior
year of high school.
That's right. Junior year. Is it any wonder
I'm fucked up?
While all the other boys, even most of the
freshmen, were walking around fully loaded I still had the starter
kit. I remember distinctly an inebriated girl approaching me at a
party sophomore year and attempting to thrust her hand down the
front of my pants as she said, "Let's see what you got down there."
I reacted as if the invitation had come from my wrestling coach.
The look of confusion on her face was profound. Any other boy would
have loved to have been in that spot, but any other boy would have
had a functioning dong for her to grab. I had the junk of a 6 year
old so I had to backpedal and make excuses and flee the party
before word of my sexual transgression reached the ears of my
I guess while I'm dishing here I might as
well tell you another regrettable result of my late blooming. I had
ZERO idea what was going on between the legs of females. There was
something I couldn't understand and didn't have the nerve to ask
during health class. Even now I'm having trouble typing it so you
can appreciate just how stupid I was when it came to the physiology
of the fairer sex.
Ok. Here it is.
I didn't understand how girls could swim or
take a bath.
I know, you're no closer to understanding
what I mean having read that sentence. Why on earth couldn't a girl
go swimming or take a bath?
Because I thought their uteri (plural of
uterus) would fill will water.
There I said it. I didn't understand why
water wouldn't just go rushing up their tubing and make them sink.
I had seen plenty of pictures of the female genitalia and it
certainly didn't look to me like the vagina shared any of the
water-tight properties of the anus. I literally imagined a girl
climbing out of the bath and having to stand there as her vagina
drained like a punctured hot water bottle. I would stand poised and
ready at the edge of the pool as girls hurled themselves into the
deep end, seemingly oblivious to the peril their large-capacity
uteri put them in, waiting for the frenzied request to dive in and
start hauling them out before they drowned. A call that never
That was the Lance Manion that sat on
the edge of the bed absorbing the news that I would now be
showering right next to these confusing creatures. My next thought
was whether or not they made shower chaps. If I could get my hands
on a pair of those bad boys I was convinced I would be ok. They
would hide my skinny legs and bony ass but prominently feature my
giant penis. I was just about to head down to the school store to
see if these ego-saving items existed in plastic or if I was going
to be forced to spend a year showering in leather when my roommate
returned and saw me sitting on my bed white as a ghost.
"You know I was kidding right?" he asked.
The Lance Manion who is currently occupying
this chair, and who has little trouble talking about himself in the
third person, as I've mentioned previously, would have casually
laughed and played the whole thing off but I swear the Lance Manion
on the edge of the bed simply pitched forward unconscious.
I passed right the fuck out. I guess I hadn't
taken a breath since he left the room. I remember him asking me if
I knew he was kidding as the room got dark and then nothing else. A
few hours later I came down with strep throat and spent the next
two days in bed feeling like I was about to die. Alone and unloved
at some god-forsaken college in the middle of a cornfield and to
this very day I'm convinced my immune system shut down temporarily
because of the shock of picturing myself walking around in front of
naked girls wearing nothing but leather chaps and a large
That's about as close as any event could ever
sum me up.
the anniversary present
This will show you exactly how messed up
their marriage was. Neither of them could remember
who originally came up with the idea of how
to celebrate their 30th anniversary. Maybe it was
just a natural progression, as long as you
are comfortable using the term natural to describe
something so messed up.
The writing was on the wall for everyone to
see. Well, the cake anyway. Every year they put a
number of candles on it equal to their years
of marriage plus one for luck. This year there were
thirty candles. There was no candle for luck.
Did they each feel somehow that a candle for luck
would be unlucky?
It wouldn't even be fair to say they hated
each other. I mean, it would be accurate to say they
completely loathed the very sight of each
other, but not fair. Fair seems to indicate blame and the
terrible truth is that each one of them
individually would have made someone else a good spouse.
Not a great spouse but not a bad one either.
Not as bad a spouse as they made the other anyway. I
guess it's judgmental to say a truth can be
terrible in the first place. The truth is just the truth.
And the truth was that they had kids so
divorce was never an option. They were stuck together
and they both knew it. Each heard the gavel
come down and the sentence handed out in their
own way. A sentence that always seemed to
stretch out just a little further. At first there seemed to
be a light at the end of the high school
tunnel. Get the kids off to college and then they
could go their separate ways and enjoy what
dwindling years lay before them. Then came the
realization that they would need to stay
together until each child started a family of their own.
Then came the realization that having the
grandkids splitting time with each of them on holidays just
Then came the final realization that they
were truly fucked. Realization... resignation. Whatever.
Perhaps it was when their family and friends
asked them what they really wanted for their 30th
anniversary that the idea came to them. Each
had been thinking it since their 5th anniversary.
Maybe it was as late as their 7th but it had
been there lurking in both of them for a long time.
So after the last of the well-wishers had
departed they sat at their kitchen table. He placed the
gun on the table.
You would think that at a moment like that
there would be more drama but there wasn't. It was
almost without any animosity at all. He put
in a single bullet and spun the chamber.
Neither of them really cared how it turned
out, just as long as it was finally over. That might be
the hardest part to believe but it was
They each produced their notes and placed
them on the table in front of themselves. Written on
the paper was a well thought out explanation
of what drove them to suicide. There were little
hints about the sad state of their
relationship but what was the point of dragging old demons into
the light at this point? Instead, they
described a general malaise mixed with a fear of aging. It
would make perfect sense to both loved ones
and the authorities.
Did I mention that neither of them really
cared how it turned out just as long as one of them was
You might think that his gesture of asking if
she would like to go first might suddenly ignite
some small spark of sympathy or even allow
them to rediscover some small bond between them
but clearly you haven't spent thirty years
wishing nothing more than to hear the tragic news of your
partner's sudden and unexpected demise, only
to see their stupid face still breathing in bed next to
you night after night.
She deferred. He took the gun, placed it to
his head and squeezed the trigger.
He did so without any hesitation and was
almost sorry to hear the firing pin hit an empty
He handed the gun over. An act completely
devoid of malice. Robotic.
She looked at him and for a moment it
appeared that she would speak but then thought better of
it and simply placed the gun against her
forehead, closed her eyes and pulled the trigger.
Trigger is a funny word. It means to cause or
generate or elicit. What it meant for the bullet is
different than what it meant for the man. For
the bullet it meant beginning a short journey
through her cranium. For the man it meant
putting away his letter, dialing the police in mock
horror and starting his life again.
She was smiling.
pick a nose, any nose
So I was thinking about being a motivational
speaker or something. I can talk pretty good and I don't mind
getting up in front of crowds. I was in a band when I was younger.
Well, marching band. Same thing, sort of; you have to get up in
front of people and perform ... just without the gay spandex. Well,
the uniform was pretty gay with the hat and all so I guess it's a
Maybe motivational speaker isn't what I
meant. The kind of speaker that gets up in front of a bunch of
people looking for advice on how to live their life based on a
simple metaphor, or needing inspiration to overcome their shitty
life or something, is more of what I was thinking.
Here's why. I came up with a great one the
other day. A metaphor. Most people would think that people who pick
their nose and eat it would need a two step program to stop. Just
makes sense. You'd need to stop the urge to pick your nose and
you'd definitely need to stop wanting to eat it right?
You only need to figure out how to stop
picking your nose. You can still want to eat boogers but if they
are still inside your nose you can't get at them. You see what I'm
You don't need a two step program at all. You
just need the one step: stop picking your nose. Picking is the only
way to get at the snot inside it so if you can stop picking you've
got it licked.
Can't you almost see a guy in a nice suit
walking back and forth on a small stage at some Holiday Inn meeting
room laying this information on you for only $15? That guy could be
me. There’s got to be a dozen things that you could compare that
I've done my homework. I've sat and thought
about all the other possible ways to get snot out of your nose and
picking is the only way I could come up with. Using a pencil or
tweezers still counts as picking, picking is a verb, not a noun
like finger. Unless you say something like "pickings are slim"
where I think that makes it a noun but that wouldn't be applicable
(a great word for a guy to say in a suit and holding a microphone),
because if you stopped picking your nose the pickings would be
bountiful (another 5 star word) in an unpicked nose.
The best part is that I don't need to go into
a great deal of detail on how to stop picking your nose. I could
just find someone in the audience to admit that they pick their
nose and then yell at them to stop until they cry or fall to their
knees and promise not to do it again. The 'why' they stopped isn't
as important as the message of now they don't need to stop wanting
to eat their boogers.
Like I said, there has got to be a dozen
things you can use an example of this plan in action. Take for
example the guy who drinks and drives. That's a popular disease
these days and chances are there will be a few of those folks in
any audience. All I have to do is show them that it's ok to drive
as long as they stop drinking beforehand.
POW! Point made.
It's not the driving that's bad, just like
it's not the wanting to eat your boogers that's bad. It's the act
of eating them that is bad, just like it's the drunk part of
driving. Just typing this has me all excited about having an
assistant changing the slides as I make each point. You know, one
of those kick-ass PowerPoints where I can show a diagram of the
nasal cavity and then a car all smashed and twisted around a tree.
Making lots of eye contact and peppering the speech with dramatic
pauses. I can stand in front of them and pretend to be going
through some huge internal debate, raising and lowering my finger
to my nose as they all gasp and wonder which direction I'm going to
I'm telling you, this idea is gold. You can
still want to do drugs, just don't buy them and you can't do
them! You can still want to go out and have sex with
strangers but if you lock yourself in a trunk you can't leave the
house. You can want to surf just don't learn to swim. Keep
that finger out of that nose and you're fine. Shit, there's the
book title right there!
Maybe get an actor to pretend they are a
psychologist in a TV commercial saying what a breakthrough idea
this is and how everyone should hustle down to the Holiday Inn this
Wednesday at 8 so they can get their shit straight by listening to
me. Of course, I'll run a disclaimer at the bottom of the screen
admitting that the psychologist isn't a psychiatrist and instead is
an actor but I'll make it so small that an eagle with its beak
pressed right up against the screen couldn't read it.
You see, I can still want to help
people as long as they are willing to pay for it.
There's a perfect way to end this, but I just
can't seem to put my finger in it.
It suddenly occurred to me the other day ...
there must be dozens, if not hundreds, of women that walk around
with the knowledge that they slept with Michael Anthony from Van
Halen. I can't envision the horror.
Imagine finding out that your wife slept with
Michael Anthony! How could you ever forgive the dirty slut?! Now if
it were David Lee Roth I don't think there is a red-blooded man in
America that would begrudge his wife that one. Assuming, of course,
that it was before his 2nd solo album. After that he drops down a
few notches. If I had a wife who had been nailed by DLR in, say,
1989 I think I would tell everyone I know. It would also go a long
way in explaining the burning sensation I have whenever I pee.
But Michael Anthony?!
I try to picture the scene backstage ... the
chaos, the excitement when the band finally enters the room after
the show. There he is ... the magnificent David Lee Roth. Only the
best of the best whores dare approach him. His leotard glistening,
he sorts through the various prospects and finally departs with the
lucky lady. Obviously, there is still plenty of estrogen in the air
as Eddie makes his way around to console the runner-up. I can
almost feel the tension as he finally makes his choice and leads
the spandex-clad woman off to some nearby back room or closet.
All eyes then make their way to Alex Van
Halen. The bronze penis is about to be awarded and I'm sure there
is a little desperation among the females as they jockey for his
attention. You know there is one who is clutching a thrown
drumstick to her breast like some sweaty bouquet as if to say he
was the one she wanted all along.
Amongst the road crew there is also growing
anticipation. They know as soon as Alex makes his selection that it
is open season on the rest of the herd. All of them, from the
manager to the sound guy to the light technician, eyeball the
remaining talent and await the moment that they will descend upon
them like so many hyenas on a pack of gazelles. Snorting and
grunting and making sure their backstage pass and over-blown sense
of importance to the show are on full display.
And then there is Michael Anthony.
King of the Hyenas.
The 4th hottest girl in the room thinking "I
shaved my privates for this?" as she weighs her options amongst the
rock and roll rabble. Her friends giggle and encourage her ... a
sure sense that it is a tragic mistake waiting to happen.
Twenty minutes later she is pulling down her
miniskirt and desperately looking for an exit so she can run to a
pharmacy and buy a gallon of Lysol to soak her vagina in overnight.
A long black night of ignoring the ringing phone and doorbell, lost
in the din of her own self-loathing.
"Michael Anthony? Did I really let the Van
Halen bass player do me?"
A scene that will replay itself every night
for at least a month and then sporadically for the rest of her
Twenty years later, slumped over a dimly lit
counter at a local bar, slurring out "Michael Anthony? Did I really
let the Van Halen bass player do me?". The memory of his thick
sausage bass-playing fingers probing her. His big damp belly. That
That terrible-smelling beard.
His nubby little bass player penis.
And to think, there are so many women walking
around who have had this experience. Living with the secret terror
that it will one day come to light and they will be driven from
polite society. Forced to take refuge among the other victims of
Like girls that slept with any of the
Poison band members.
Except C.C. ... I assume those girls killed
themselves a long time ago.
the premise is not the story
It's not so much that I find life
particularly dull, it's just that I don't like the fact that we
live out our days in a dull order. One after another, we're born,
we age and then we die. Day after day. Boring!
I'd much prefer to live out my life in a
random way, where every morning I wake up a random age on a random
day in my life. I'm not asking for more days, if I live a
particular day then I can't live it again, I would just like to mix
them up so all the shitty ones aren't waiting for me at the
Call it a fear of aging or, more accurately,
a pretty good idea of what lies ahead.
Wouldn't it be much cooler to go to sleep not
knowing what the next day will hold; physically, mentally and
socially? All the great triumphs and disappointments waiting to be
lived, each equally as likely on any given morning. Call it a
reorganization of consciousness.
Now the big issue is how it would work. When
your eyes pop open how would you know what day it is? Are you in
school, are you at work, is this the day you lose your virginity or
is this the day you have that double root canal?
That's the most interesting thing about the
whole concept. Just before you wake up you'd have to go into a
small briefing room and get your daily update. I imagine it like a
police holding cell, a single chair on the other side from a table
where two people wait with manila folders to give you the pertinent
details. It definitely wouldn't be like some corporate meeting
room, I can't picture that in any of the various scenarios in my
head. Nope, this is a small drab room painted in the colors of a
government cinder-block building, perhaps gray or vomit-green. The
table is rickety and the chair is one of those numbers that has a
gray metal back and a seat that is covered with a green vinyl that
is torn and peeling. Heavy and uncomfortable. The light would
flicker occasionally as if the universe wanted you to know what a
hassle your existence is. Your two handlers wouldn't be so much
ill-tempered as disinterested. It's clear every morning that they
have something better they could be doing than bringing you up to
speed with your age and background for the day.
I imagine myself somewhat surly, perhaps even
putting my feet up on the table despite its poor condition. I'm
sure I'd be excited by the prospects of what lays ahead for me but
I surely wouldn't want them to know it. My face would be a
mask of indifference.
But inside ... how cool would it be if you
were just as likely to live out some great day of your youthful
prime as a depressing day stuck in a nursing home or mindlessly
crawling around as a baby? Every morning, trying to nonchalantly
sit down and wait for that folder to be opened and the particulars
of your daily reality to be revealed. I can imagine my fingers
nervously picking at the vinyl between my legs, trying my best not
to make the hole any bigger, but unable to contain my
I don't have the time or energy to run
through how all the choices you make impact days you've previously
lived out. I guess the whole thing presupposes that you've already
lived your whole life out and now you're just going through the
motions. Whatever. Those motions can be pretty fun and at least you
wouldn't have to deal with the fact that every day you get another
Can you picture the two people sitting across
from you giving you the specifics before they see you off each
morning? I've got one man and one woman. The man drinks bad coffee
out of a Styrofoam cup and wears white socks with black dress
shoes. I don't think he realizes that you can see his socks when
he's sitting. The woman is middle-aged and although not
unattractive I find her unappealing physically, but her advice on
certain topics is sometimes valuable. I like to think when the man
tells me "Don't do anything stupid" each day seconds before I am
launched into my life he says it with some affection.
If you stop and think about it, I guess you
still have to deal with the fact that every day you have one less
day ahead of you. In fact, after awhile you can probably figure out
that you've never lived a day past a certain age so that must be
when you die. You could probably do the math in your head and
figure out how many days you have left. Not sure that's a big
selling feature of my little plan but I think it still beats slowly
aging and losing virility and mental faculties.
Maybe there will come a morning meeting when
your two handlers will point out that this day is your last, and
they will stand and shake your hand and tell you it's been a
pleasure working with you. Wouldn't it be great on some level?
Going into your last day feeling great. Perhaps you're 16 and it's
summer vacation and you can go climb a hill on a cloudless day and
stare up at the blue sky.
I can hear the squeaking noise the chair
makes as I pull it out from under the table and briefly cross the
tile floor so I can sit down. I'm not sure whether each morning the
guy pulled out my folder from a well-worn briefcase he has sitting
next to him, or if the folder is always sitting there on the table
as I walk in. Either way, was that a quick flicker of remorse in
the female’s eye as the folder is flipped open for the final
I guess there is still the chance that I will
spend my last day alone, incoherent and sitting in a puddle of my
own urine, even in this version of living out my life, but I
certainly like my odds.
Will I be 16 and strong of body and stupid
between the ears in all the great ways you can only be when you're
young? Can I lie back on the grass and fold my arms behind my head
and watch the sun set and the stars start to twinkle above me until
I drift off to sleep?
The na at the end of banana annoys me as much as it
would you if it were bananana.
People who are scared of things becoming unraveled
are overestimating raveled.
When a man spends time in prison it changes him.
Especially his asshole.
It’s rare that I go out to eat. I’m a bit of
a homebody but last night I decided to treat myself to some Chinese
food. I’m a big fan of sesame shrimp so I was pretty pumped up
about things when I entered the restaurant. As I’m waiting to be
served I see this big tank along the wall. Curious I walk over and
what do I see but this big eel sitting there with his big eel face
looking at me. About 3 feet long, the thickness of a Coke can and
the color of something that you spit out after a long hacking
cough. Turns out that this ugly guy is on the menu! He’s waiting
there for someone to order him. Wow.
So I sit there for awhile looking at this
fucked up looking fish-thing when it occurs to me that I should eat
How primal is that?!
I suddenly got this huge rush of power. It
was up to me if he lived or died. I whispered to him, “Do you want
me to eat you? I could you know,” but he just stared vacantly back
at me. It hit me that this is how a lion feels crouched in the
grass as he sneaks up on a wildebeest … sizing up his next meal. I
actually jumped when the hostess touched my shoulder and told me my
table was ready.
I took the menu and gave it an obligatory
look up and down but every few seconds I would gaze past the
plastic placard and stare at the eel in the tank. Sitting there,
completely unaware that I held his life in my hands.
At least a half dozen times I peered around
my menu and whispered, “I’m thinking of eating you” and “I’m going
to put you in my mouth, chew you, swallow you, and digest you” in
When the waitress finally came to my table I
asked a favor. I told her I’d like to order by the tank. I walked
over with every nerve-ending tingling. I locked eyes with my
slippery friend one last time. “I’ll be having the eel”. Moments
later he was unceremoniously hauled out of his tank and brought
back to the kitchen. Was that a pang of guilt I felt?
I’m not sure what I expected but I was a
little disappointed when she didn’t return 10 minutes later with a
3 foot long fried entrée. Instead I got a plate with hunks of the
slimy former-tank-inhabitant mixed in with peas and noodles.
I was even more disappointed to find out that
he really did taste like chicken.
Still … what a rush. If you’ve never eaten
something that you spoke with just moments before I highly
recommend it. In fact, I might not ever again eat anything but
things I buy out of a tank or cage.
I even heard about this place that cooks a
catfish while it’s still alive and, through the wonder of a
hideously primitive nervous system, you get to eat it while its
mouth is still making breathing motions and its eyes are looking up
at you with the mother of all ‘WTF’ expressions.
I guess that would be the pinnacle of dining
coolness … unless you happen to be one of those lucky bastards who
crash lands on a desolate mountain top or something and is forced
to eat his/her fellow passengers.
Of course, how disappointing would it be to
find out that the hot chick in seat 14C tastes like chicken?
What the fuck has happened to cheerleaders?
Back when I went to high school, as deplorable as they were at
being decent human beings, the 7 or 8 hottest girls were always the
cheerleaders. They dressed up in those slutty little outfits and
only slept with football players and that was the way things were.
Everyone understood the rules and nobody questioned them. At the
games they stood in front of everyone and shrieked and kicked and
occasionally formed a pyramid or something but that was the extent
of their acrobatics.
I went to a high school football game a few
weeks back and couldn't believe my eyes. There were like 30 girls
lined up and they were a collection of the ugliest and fattest
girls to ever squish into tank tops. Holy shit! I had heard rumors
that ever since cheerleading became an actual sport in and of
itself, some schools had added a few 'thicker' girls to hoist the
other girls up into the air and catch them as they fell, and drag a
cement mixer up a steep hill by their teeth, but this was
ridiculous. It seems overnight the unattractive girls of the world
staged a coup and took over cheerleading squads. Of the 30 there
were like maybe 5 I would have done in high school and I was a
complete loser who would have done almost anyone. Some of them even
wore knee braces and wrist-supports and shit like that ... I wanted
to explain to them that they are supposed to be eye-candy, not
sweaty muffin-topped gym rats.
Doing a little research I found out that this
takeover actually happened at the Mom-level some years back.
Because they never got to be cheerleaders when they were in high
school, all the fat and ugly Moms took over the pee-wee/midget
cheerleading associations and started to tell the heinous lie that
all girls can cheerlead. Especially their fat and/or ugly
daughters! The hot girls eventually moved on to other things
because we all know they aren't going to any spend time with
unattractive girls in grade school. It's social death. So now you
have this whole huge flood of fat and/or ugly girls pouring into
high schools completely unaware that fat and/or ugly girls have no
place in cheerleading outfits. Like a plague of fat and/or ugly
locust they swarmed into tryouts driving out the hot girls. To make
matters worse, this new era of cheerleading doesn't allow cuts so
anyone who wants to can squeeze themselves into the outfits and
call themselves a cheerleader!
As you may imagine I'm a bit conflicted on
the topic. As I mentioned, I was a total dork in high school so on
some level I should be happy that the beautiful people have lost
something that at one time was just handed to them. Perhaps it's
human nature to be somehow attracted to the very things we abhor.
Take for instance, whenever I'm walking down the aisle at Home
Depot I'm usually sporting a full erection despite the fact that I
can't build squat and don't even know what most of the equipment is
used for. In high school I was forced to take one shop class and
while the rest of the males were putting the finishing touched on
their assorted gun racks and entertainment centers, I was still
struggling to complete the cutting board that my mother would later
be so proud of. I believe I received an F+ for the class and
visited the nurse with injuries requiring bandages and applied
pressure at least a half dozen times. The point being that I should
revel in this new cheerleading reality, shouldn't I? The problem is
that even as a dork I looked forward to seeing the flash of panty
when the cheerleaders would kick. Just the slightest peek would
start my blood racing ... especially south of the border. Sometimes
you see some teen movie where the cheerleader forgets to put on her
underwear and flashes the crowd and I have to be honest with myself
and admit that if I would have seen actual cheerleader vagina for
even a fraction of a second I would have probably suffered an
aneurism and died on the spot. For however horrible they were as
people, the cheerleader was iconic. A symbol to all post-adolescent
teens. And by symbol I mean someone to jerk off to three or four
times a day.
Or it was anyway. Now that's all gone
apparently, as the word powerfully now means possessing enormous
power in chunky legs and bulging biceps. And the faces! What I
wouldn't have given for one apple-pie smile as I looked down from
the stands. Instead I saw busted face after busted face, shrilly
carrying out gymnastic moves previously only seen in Romania, by
crowds accustomed to squat calloused females covered in chalk and
tape, hurling themselves around in the hopes of getting an
additional tenth of a point on their score. Nobody in Romania is
trying to catch a glimpse of the mess that is no doubt lurking
under those short skirts. Believe that.
You have to wonder if cheerleaders still have
attitudes. How can they possibly be snotty if everyone can make the
team? Could it be that hot girls actually look down on cheerleaders
now? As implausible as that might have seemed only a few years ago
it might actually be the case. Like when the mammals took over the
Earth from the dinosaurs.
Only this time in reverse.
For the United States, 2016 started with a
bang. A very big bang. A bang that reverberated around the
A bang that was triggered by years of turning
a blind eye to Iran building centrifuges and decades of ignoring
the issue of illegal immigration. These two problems, along with
thousands of other festering concerns not worthy of actually
addressing, joined forces to allow the inauguration of the nation's
46th President to be interrupted by the detonation of a small
nuclear fission bomb. The aforementioned big bang.
The shock wave started by gelignite dissolved
in nitroglycerine quickly passed through the explosive lenses and
then balls-deep into the Uranium235 and, thus, began a chain
reaction that achieved the terrorists’ goal of killing every
politician, lobbyist and influential lawyer residing in the country
they hated the most, in one terrible flash.
What is it they say about goals? They are
made to be broken? No wait. That doesn't sound right. I think its
dreams that are made to be broken. Hmm ... nope. Is it eggs or
Whatever is made to be broken then that's
what I'm going for.
Best laid plans maybe?
Anyway, after years of careful plan-laying
and under the very noses of a government more focused on getting
the current representatives elected to another term than actually
accomplishing anything on behalf of the people they represent,
extremists realized their dream of wiping Washington, DC off the
The first domino fell in dramatic fashion.
But the thing about dominos is that they tend to run in packs and
after one falls then another gets it into its head to fall and so
on and so forth until you have something very similar to fission
taking place. Or you can liken it to social evolution and the
sudden extinction of a failed bloated political system. Meteors and
bombs and such. Whichever analogy makes you feel smarter.
The terrorists fucked up.
America got a do-over. You see, what passed
for government in 2016 wasn't what the Founding Fathers had
intended and everyone knew it. They were just paralyzed, unable to
do anything to change it, because the only people with the power to
change anything were the people benefiting from the very corruption
of the original ideal. The politicians. The lobbyists. The lawyers.
Suddenly the United States had the chance to rectify a very big
mistake and they leapt at it.
You see, political service was originally
supposed to be akin to jury duty. It was something that citizens
were supposed to do for a few years and then return to their normal
lives. It was never intended to be the immoral cesspool of greed
that existed in 2016. It became worse than even the most cynical
patriot in 1776 could have ever imagined.
Now the terrorists who had wanted the
destruction of democracy and capitalism had, in fact, resurrected
it. It was allowed to be reborn, a indivisible phoenix rising from
the tainted ashes. Obviously, the remains of the depraved system
didn't go without a fight but the people rose up as one and threw
out anyone with the label of Republican or Democrat and instead
filled the newly rebuilt halls of Congress with businessmen and
teachers and farmers and accountants and plumbers and even the odd
poet. The first law they passed dealt with strict term limits and
the second was election reform that made sure for the foreseeable
future that only the interests of the people were served. The debt
was acknowledged and dealt with. The terrorists and the countries
that harbored them were acknowledged and dealt with. The
abominations of the free market called corporations were
acknowledged and dealt with.
And the best part?
Other countries followed suit. "Off with
their heads" became a rallying cry until every last head that
wanted to stay attached fell in line.
And still I dreamed on, further into the future than
I had ever dreamed before. And this was cloudier cause it was
years, years away. But I saw an old couple being visited by their
children, and all their grandchildren too. The old couple weren't
screwed up. And neither were their kids or their grandkids. And I
don't know. You tell me. This whole dream, was it wishful thinking?
Was I just fleeing reality like I know I'm liable to do? But me and
Ed, we can be good too. And it seemed real. It seemed like us and
it seemed like, well, our home. If not Arizona, then a land not too
far away. Where all parents are strong and wise and capable and all
children are happy and beloved. I don't know. Maybe it was
Recently it occurred to me that sometimes
it's easy to forget about all the wonderful things we take for
granted. The little things that make existence easier for us even
when it might seem that life is difficult or we have the problems
of the whole world stacked up and resting upon on shoulders. I
found myself particularly guilty of this so I thought it was time
for me to do a little exercise to remind myself how many gifts I
have and don't appreciate.
I think I got the idea from a movie or maybe
it was a homework assignment from a hippie grade school teacher I
had, but I thought I was overdue for a little reality check.
Day 1 - The night before I put on a
blindfold and I kept it on for 24 hours to mimic the effects of
being blind. I went blindfold despite my earlier claims that if I
were blind I would instead wear two eye patches so I'd look like
the most bad-ass pirate ever. I figured if the object was to
appreciate my eyesight it wouldn't help if I spent the day walking
around looking all bad-ass. Not that I did a lot of walking.
Blindness definitely sucks, especially when I'm watching TV and the
other people in the room refuse to describe what's going on because
they think the idea of wearing a blindfold all day is stupid and
also I had spilled a large amount of soda and snacks during the
course of the day ... again because they refused to help me out.
Being blind is certainly an eye-opener when it comes to who your
friends really are.
Day 2 - I stuffed my ears full of
cotton and then duct taped a pair of headphones over my ears the
night before, which wasn't easy due to the fact that I was still
wearing the blindfold, with the goal of waking up deaf. Mission
accomplished! Let me tell you something, you ever want to get a
good night's sleep give being deaf a whirl. You want to talk
peaceful! Especially when you don't wake up until 10 because you
can't hear the alarm. Now, obviously, I didn't have time to learn
sign language so I pretty much kept to myself all day as people
didn't seem to appreciate my attempts to communicate the way I've
heard deaf people talk. I thought my impersonations were spot on
but I guess some people have thin skin, still hard to believe
someone would take the time to write "you sound like a bull seal in
heat" on a napkin and hand it to me. Bottom line though, being deaf
is very relaxing.
Day 3 - Starting to run out of
handicaps. After the nightmare of trying to take off the duct tape
and subsequently losing at least 20% of the hair on my head I
settled upon removing my sense of smell for the following day. Let
me tell you something, when you stick cotton up your nose everyone
else in the house will wish they were deaf because you snore like
crazy. I'm sure the rest of the animal kingdom would really get
their panties in a twist if they lost their sense of smell but let
me tell you, we human really don't need it anymore. The only
drawback was that my nose wouldn't stop running and I kept having
to remove the nasal plus and give it a good blow. Other than that I
couldn't tell you one time I missed the smell of anything. In fact,
if anything it was a pleasant change from the usual odors that
assail me every time I walk into my bathroom. At about Noon I
decided that not having a sense of smell really isn't a handicap at
all and decided to switch to having a stutter. Obviously the first
thing to do was make a mix CD to get me in the mood so I quickly
downloaded and burned "You Ain't Seen N-n-nothing Yet",
"M-m-my Sharona", "My G-g-generation",
"Ch-ch-changes", "F-f-foolin" and "B-b-bad to the
Bone" to get me in the mood. A little-known scientific fact to
pass along, and if it's not it should be, if you listen to all
those songs in a row you end up singing "B-b-b-b-bad to the
B-b-b-b-b-b-bone" whether you want to or not and completely
embarrassing yourself. Stuttering is as annoying as the loss of
Day 4 - I couldn't really take away my
senses of taste or touch so I decided to be retarded for the day.
Not a little retarded either, I went full-on retarded and let me
tell you one thing, one horribly politically incorrect thing, it is
fun as hell being retarded. Granted, if you're actually retarded
then you probably don't enjoy it as much because you're too
retarded to enjoy it. Ironically, that sentence came off a bit
retarded. But anyway, this whole trying to appreciate the gifts
I've been given in life thing is starting to head south. With the
exception of my eyes, which I have to give a big shout out to, I
can't really say that the other disabilities were that bad. If I
could have gotten another friend to act retarded with me I'm
seriously thinking it might have been the greatest day of my
Day 5 - Woke up paralyzed from the
waist down. Not really, but anyone seeing me make my way downstairs
to start my day would have been completely fooled. Unfortunately
for me my friends were getting a bit tired of my tomfoolery so they
refused to be tomfooled or even play along. Apparently there is a
scene in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels wherein Steve Martin's
character is attempting something very similar and Michael Caine's
character comes upon him with a switch in hand and begins to test
the boundaries of his lack of feeling below the waist and my
so-called friends took it upon themselves to reenact this scene
repeatedly until such a time as I had to abandon the whole thing
and seek ice. Let me tell you, both medical personnel and faith
healers should further explore this cure as it certainly got me out
of my chair and walking again, pronto.
Day 6 - Although I don't personally
think of it as a handicap I think some in our society would
consider homosexuality a drawback at the very least, so I settled
on that for my next challenge to live through. Much like I did with
being retarded I opted for full-on gay, the kind you see at the gay
pride parades that make normal gay people wince. You know the type,
the wearing leather chaps and squealing and glistening and being in
much better shape than I am type. Even my gay friend told me once
that he thought that these parades do more harm than good to the
gay community. Actually that's not entirely correct as I don't have
a gay friend. If I did though, I imagine that he'd feel that way.
It's not that I don't have gay friends, I'm sure that I do, it's
just that most of my male friends are married and wouldn't want
their wife and kids to find out. I just don't have any gay friends
I know about. Anyway, I went about the entire day acting really gay
and it's nowhere near as fun as being retarded. Had I another day I
would have tried being a retarded homosexual, but as I wanted to
wrap this up in a neat tidy week I only had 1 more day. And that
day was spoken for.
Day 7 - And on the seventh day he
believed that the Earth was only 6,000 years old! I woke up with
the knowledge that I was created by a loving God and all was going
to be well as long as I followed a few simple ground rules so I was
off and believing. Now obviously not being able to actually use
science or critical-thinking skills all day was going to be a
hassle, but any negatives I ran into could easily be offset with
the awesome hats I was going to get to wear. I'd envied them from
afar for years so this was my big day. I ran right to the nearest
place of worship and inquired what I needed to do to get the big
pointy variety. Turns out it's not as easy as you'd think, you
can't just buy them and throw them on and go parading around
showing off your enormous new lid and, strongly implied, your
closeness to the big man upstairs. It's this big complicated thing
where you have to join certain groups and move up the ranks and get
picked for certain jobs and then appointed to other positions until
finally you have to move closer to God and overseas to get a crack
at the really big hats. You can imagine my disappointment.
What's the point of abandoning common sense if I can't wear a
As you might imagine my week of trying to
appreciate what I had, turned out to be a real mixed bag. I ended
up appreciating the fact that I can see a bit more, I learned that
if you stutter enough you develop a stutter and I had the chance to
wonder whether my gay friends, if I have any, would they find me
attractive, so the week wasn't a total loss. Of course, nobody I
know is talking to me anymore, apparently this little experiment
came off as slightly insensitive to some folks, but I'm sure
they'll start to miss my company and come crawling back any day
Self improvement is never easy.
I saw this movie where Sandra Bullock's
character goes out and abducts this enormous black kid and teaches
him to play football and ends up shipping him off to her alma mater
and scoring awesome seats at all the games and such, and I
immediately thought to myself "Where do I sign up?!" The problem is
that the movie is totally misleading when it comes to how easy it
is to find an enormous black kid just walking around.
First of all it's a long drive for me just to
get to the black kids and I swear every kid I saw was either too
old, too young or scrawny as hell. Nobody was going to be ponying
up 50 yard lines seats for any of these kids, let me tell you. No
wonder their parents let them roam around at all hours. Finally
after a week of canvassing local schools and parks I came upon a
good candidate. I forgot how Sandra went about introducing herself
to the kid in the first place, so I had to improvise. Luckily for
me I had a bottle of chlorophyll and some heavy-duty netting, so
instead of trying to talk him into the van like some weirdo, I
simply snuck up behind him and held a cloth soaked in chlorophyll
against his face. Problem was that chlorophyll doesn't make people
go unconscious, I was thinking about chloroform. Looking
back, why did I even have a bottle of chlorophyll to begin with? It
was an expensive lesson in terms of getting repeatedly punched and
kicked, but the next day I was back at it, visions of 50 yard line
seats dancing in my bruised and swollen head.
Long story short, I eventually found another
giant black kid that looked of high school age and 'acquired' him
without too much fuss. Funny thing though, the kid that Sandra
grabbed was passive and had a heart of gold while the youth that
was slowly coming to in the seat next to me did not seem to share
those characteristics. At all. I think it would be fair to say he
was almost exactly the opposite. As much as I tried to explain the
situation to him he simply refused to listen and as his strength
slowly returned I could see I was going to have my hands full.
The first few days were just heartbreaking.
Every time I tried to make a kind gesture, I just seemed to make
things worse ... and I was running out of chloroform. Turns out he
did have a bed at home, he had a good relationship with his father
and did fine in school. He even knew how to play football already.
I couldn't catch a break!
You know the expression "No good deed goes
unpunished?" Well now I understand where that phrase comes from. No
sooner had I completed the paperwork enrolling my new charge in the
nearby high school, but I see his face splashed all over the TV and
newspapers! The local authorities had jumped to the completely
wrong conclusion about the whole thing and now they were making me
out as some sort of bad guy. I swear, you try to help people and
this is what you get.
Long story short, I ended up having to let
the unappreciative kid go. He was simply too large, too strong, and
as much as I hate to make the accusation, I felt he was a bit
racist for my liking. Truth is though, it was mostly the large and
strong parts. I could have won him over eventually if he hadn't
almost ripped down the bars keeping him in my basement before the
tranq darts took effect.
I guess the worst part was listening to him
describe his 'ordeal' to the press when I returned him to his
neighborhood. It was very hurtful. He just didn't get it. Some kids
just look a gift horse right in the mouth.
Oh well. Everything is a learning experience
After fixing up the basement, and by fixing
up I mean reinforcing the steel bars, I lowered my sights a bit and
decided to try to get in good with the folks that run the Scripps
National Spelling Bee. I'll be headed over to the Indian
neighborhood in just a bit.
I am literally oozing with unbridled joy.
Usually I am bridled, but right now I am oozing in a way that even
paper towels could not handle.
Why you ask?
Because someone told me a little tip for
starting a fire and it actually worked. Now obviously, I would be
relatively pleased if I had something to help me get my fire going
when I want one but this in itself could not flip the bridled to
unbridled switch. What I’m so damn happy about is that something
actually did what it said it was going to do.
The world seems to work overtime in keeping
people’s joy safely bridled and nothing does this more effectively
than advertising. Commercials are full of shit. It’s gotten so that
when I watch TV I just assume everything that I see in an ad is a
lie. Except of course the pharmaceutical ads where they are forced
to tell the truth about side effects and list them in such a
graphic and comprehensive fashion that I dare not take even an
aspirin for a week after seeing one for fear my dick will come off
in my hands and I will bleed uncontrollably from my rectum (if I’m
So when someone tells me something that works
I’m almost dizzy with joy.
I remember a few years ago someone bought me
a book filled with tips about how household products could be used
for a variety of other helpful uses. Stuff like how to use
deodorant to treat mosquito bites and hemorrhoid cream for cold
sores and that type of stupid shit. I literally sat in front of a
mirror for an hour wondering what it was about me that could
possibly lead someone to the conclusion that I would want a book
like that for a present and how I could prevent myself from ever
sending out that vibe again.
The point being that none of it worked. I
tried like a dozen of the stupid things with toothpaste and Coca
Cola and Cheerios and corn oil and vinegar and every time I sat
there wondering what it was about me that could possibly lead
someone to the conclusion that I would want a book like that for a
Bottom line is none of it actually did what
it said it would. Then out of the blue someone mentions that if you
take the lint that you would otherwise throw away when you clean
the dryer trap and put it in a used up toilet roll it would make a
great little fire starter.
Now if you’re anything like me, and who
isn’t, you get frustrated when you plop down good money for a fire
starter and then you have to spend 10 minutes trying to get it lit
so you can put it in with the wood to get the fire lit. The only
job it has in the world is to start a fire! It was created
specifically for the task and smells like a combination of gasoline
and sawdust, but there you sit huddled in front of the fire trying
to get the fire starter started. So to say I went into this
enterprise already motivated to embrace this
lint-in-toilet-paper-roll endeavor is an understatement but at the
same time I was cynical, having endured putting peanut butter in my
hair to try to remove the gum that was already there only to have a
giant wad of peanut butter-scented gum remaining in my hair at the
end of the operation.
My cynicism couldn’t have been more
misplaced. The lint-in-toilet-paper-roll fire starter is brilliant!
It bursts into flames at the slightest provocation and seems intent
on setting everything within its reach alight as well. I literally
cannot contain myself. I have already made a dozen of them and
although the temperature outside is well above freezing, actually
well above 50F if you want to know the truth, I insist on having a
roaring fire going just to unbridledly enjoy the starting of
So here I sit in my shorts and tank top,
sweating profusely, as my joy crashes around unbridled wondering
what it is about me that could possibly lead someone to the
conclusion that I would want a book about creative ways to use
household products for a present.
"Ships that pass in the night, and speak each
other in passing,
Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness;
So on the ocean of life we pass and speak one another,
Only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a
silence." Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The sea is rich in potential metaphors … and
if you know one thing about me you know I love a good metaphor. In
this case I will pass up the obvious salty sexual metaphors for
fear of being perceived as tedious. Who can't see a quick Bermuda
Triangle comment begging to be made?
Instead, I can't help but think that the sea
can provide me with far more thought provoking fare on this rainy
morning. I realize that I wouldn't be honest if I didn't feel the
need to start muddying the waters by suggesting intent and outcome
are never clear on the sea or on the internet. Some days we are
nothing short of Master and Commander of the HMS Audacious plowing
resolutely through the world wide web and other days we sit in
front of our screens like the Skipper trying to control the Minnow
as our "tiny ship gets tossed." Most days we experience the duality
of having successfully delivered the bomb to Tinian only to be sunk
later and at the mercy of the sharks.
So this technology allows us to say hello to
new people and goodbye to new people at a quicker and quicker pace
and we try to feel that these fleeting connections add to us rather
than erode. It's not that I have an issue with saying goodbye …
it's just that sometimes I liked to watch the other ship sail away.
I like to feel that sense of melancholy that somehow validates the
effort I have invested. Now people just melt instantly into the
teeming digital seas without a glance back. Lost in the crowd or
the translation … you never really know the difference.
Most days being a writer is nice. You sit
down and squeeze out a few words and then go on with your day but
some days there is real work to do. The kind of work where one must
roll up the ol' sleeves and get to it with a set jaw and steely
This is one of those times because a thought
came into my head and, before I could dismiss it or squish it and
move on to a less volatile subject matter, it seemed to take root.
Then all these other ideas started to swarm around it like
vultures. Before long I had no control over the initial idea and
wasn't even sure of my opinion on all the subsequent thoughts that
seemed to piggyback unwanted on the original.
Here was what I wondered to myself: "What if
semen was toxic?" i.e. when you were climaxing into a female you
were actually going to kill her.
Lot of mixed feelings to sort through. Never
mind the effect it would eventually have on humans as a species,
the very first reaction I had was "Awesome!”
I know, wrong on SO many levels but there it
is. Now as writer I have to take the time and sort through this
shit because obviously I can't run around feeling like killing
women with my dick is acceptable. Although you could make the case
that nobody would ever know, I think that this type of outlook
would somehow make it right onto my face and everyone I knew would
suddenly draw in their breath sharply upon seeing me and know that
something was amiss behind my otherwise cool gaze.
I think the best thing to do here is not
recoil in horror but bravely explore the initial response in order
to understand it better.
Why would I want to kill the woman underneath
me? Why would I want to kill a woman nice enough to let me stick my
penis in her vagina? Why, why, a thousand times why?
Here is where being a writer is difficult. If
I lacked the type of gritty integrity possessed by the writing type
I would immediately jump on the anti-Manion bandwagon and be awash
in the gratitude of every reader unfortunate enough to have read my
original few paragraphs. I would once again hoist the trembling
fist in my own direction and drench myself in derision. But no! Not
the writing type. We must forge ahead into unpopular waters even
when the word “forge” doesn't exactly work when I use unpopular
waters instead of unpopular territory. I think “sail” would have
worked better, but either way there is some forging to be done so
The dick is nothing but a snake (ask Adam and
Eve) and snakes are venomous so how cool would it be not only to
have the orgasm, signifying your own triumph as far as passing on
DNA goes (in addition to the individual conquest of whatever female
is on the receiving end of this act), but actually know what it
feels like when a snake strikes and injects its poison into some
hapless furry animal?
POW! My dick just killed you! Behold, my
Shit, I said it again. It's going to take
some mighty good writing to get out of this one.
The concept only works if (a) the poison is
fast-acting, and (b) the female doesn't know you're packing a
poison pill. It also helps to imagine a world where you can just
get up and leave the corpse there and you are not charged with the
disposal of said female. I think that would take a little of the
luster off the entire venture. Snakes have the luxury of just
swallowing their victims and moving on.
So we can all agree that this type of thing
would be bad and entirely unacceptable. Besides removing any hope
of a subsequent generation of people due to the untimely death of
every willing female participant, it would also be a great loss
because women are not always entirely unpleasant to be around in
non-coital situations. Cleary, there are many of them that men
would like to have repeat sex with as well. The one-and-done plan
as outlined by the poison-penis fantasy clearly wouldn't be good
for anyone in the long run.
Hmmm. I'm re-reading that last bit and I'm
just not convinced. Maybe if instead of deadly sploodge I
ejaculated an enormous spike that shot through the back of her
skull? Less cruel but a lot more mess to clean up.
Honestly I don't see the big deal, there are
numerous examples in the animal kingdom where the female kills
and/or eats the male after copulation. Suddenly, I'm a bad guy for
having a tiny little daydream about the goose giving the high hard
one to the gander?
I'm not even a good enough writer to talk
myself into the position I wanted you to take after all the writing
was said and done. So perhaps not passing on these genes is best
for everyone after all.
Except, of course, for the poor girl who I
just killed with my meatstick.
accentidents will happen
I came up with a new word. Accentident. It
means a mishap or detrimental event caused by a miscommunication
resulting from one of the people in a conversation having a thick
accent (also add accentidentally).
I guess I'm just sick of foreigners. I know …
that makes me a bad guy but I am. Sick of trying to understand
foreign tongues, sick of being embarrassed because I don't know the
difference between a Japanese guy and a Chinese guy by looking at
them. Don't even get me started on trying to tell the difference
between someone from the Middle East and a Pakistani. I always feel
like I'm one wrong word away from getting beheaded at the mall.
Foreigners are for when I am visiting another
country! I like foreigners when I am walking around with a
camera, my wallet full of their silly looking currency and
snapping pictures of their ruins and barefoot children. Talk
whatever way you want as you ask me for change or if I want my hair
braided … that's why I came. Just not in my country. Call it
foreigner fatigue. How can I enjoy other cultures and other
languages if I never get a break from them? I don't want foreign
things in my back yard!
I want to be surrounded by people who look
like me, who talk like me and who act like me.
There. I said it. Is that so wrong??
I feel like I'm trapped at the It's A Small
World exhibit at Disney!
I'm sick of Mexican comedians yelling and
gloating about how they are taking over the country.
Congratulations … in 20 years the U.S. will be just as big a
shithole as Mexico. Yippee. Nice work, Señor.
I'm sick of 'Native' Americans still being
here. I know they were here first but when we arrived all friendly
they tried to scalp us and tie us down to anthills with honey on
our eyelids so we had to defend ourselves and kick their ass. Then
they didn't even have the good taste to vacant the continent like
the loser of a war should. Common decency says the losers slink off
into oblivion. Nope. Instead they sit around being alcoholics,
running casinos and crying about how we throw our trash on the side
of the road.
I guess I really should learn to tell the
difference between a Japanese man and a Chinese man after all. One
is polite and allows us to film a nice movie like Lost in
Translation in their country and the other ships over an
inflatable pool 10' x 5' without a warning on the box that it does
not include a pump and the purchaser of said pool will be required
to spend their entire Memorial Day blowing up the fucking thing.
It's just a matter of time until we're at war with one of these
guys (and here's a hint … it's not the one with the annoying game
And is it too much to ask to buy a damn
Slurpee and a muffin without getting a forced lesson in Arabic?
Honestly. I'm not a mean person but I just want to stop in a
grab a snack! I remember a time when I could do that. Figure out
how to use the fucking register before I get there ok? And why the
fuck do the people who want to buy lottery tickets come before
those trying to pay for their items?!
I can't even remember a time where I ordered
food through a drive-through speaker and the voice on the other end
didn't sound like someone from the bar scene in Star Wars.
How many more accentidents will it take for
everyone to decide to go back to wherever it is they came from and
learn to be happy there? Look at the French. If they can stand to
live surrounded by other Frenchmen then anybody can make a go of it
in their own country!
Really. If you do, I promise to visit
…barring an accentident at the airport.
the greatest story ever told. not.
As nice as it is to be able to go online and
buy books with a few clicks of a mouse nothing beats spending time
at a book store. Just the smell of the place. Walking up and down
the aisles, stumbling upon a tome you are unfamiliar with and
whisking it up to the counter for purchase. Exhilarating! If you're
anything like me though there is one section you want to stay out
of. A section that will ruin your night. A section that have you
balling your fists and shaking them towards heaven as you cry out
"Why? Why? Why?!"
I doubt there is anywhere on the planet that
can have you loathing your fellow man faster than this black hole
of literature. Even if you're able to ignore the opportunist books,
Obama's aunt who feels the need to tell us about life in Kenya
("Busy day today. Sat in mud hut. Ate grub") or Emilio Estevez
believing for a few moments that because his brother is interesting
that somehow that makes him interesting, there is a fresh new hell
on every shelf. The balls on some of these people to think that
their life story is more interesting than anyone else you might
find walking down the street. Is it arrogance or just
Isn't it funny how you end up fixating on
something and it ends up representing everything you hate about a
much broader subject? As my eyes travelled up and down the shelves,
drinking in the litany of morons who felt the need to burden the
poor consumer with the trials and tribulations of their vapid
existence, they finally came to rest on perhaps the greatest waste
of paper ever to thrust itself unwanted into my consciousness.
The Guttenberg Bible.
Not The Gutenberg Bible. The
The autobiography of Steve Guttenberg.
I will give you a moment to figure out who
the hell Steve Guttenberg is. It should be in there somewhere,
mixed in with all the other 80s and 90s actors that you've long ago
forgotten about. I'll give you a hint. Police Academy.
What about Police Academy 2: Their First
Police Academy 3: Back in
Surely Police Academy 4: Citizens on
Patrol will jog your memory.
The lovable Carey Mahoney, the troublemaking
scalawag with a heart of gold?
Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami
Police Academy 6: City Under
Come on. Think! Steve Guttenberg ...
Police Academy 7: Mission to Moscow?
Ok, clearly those films aren't helping. What
about Three Men and a Baby with hunky co-stars Tom Selleck
and Ted Danson? Getting warmer?
What about Three Men and a Baby 2: Their
First Assignment? Nothing?
Three Men and a Baby 3: Back in
Surely Three Men and a Baby4:
Citizens on Patrol will jog your memory.
The lovable Michael Kellam, the troublemaking
scalawag with a heart of gold?
Three Men and a Baby5: Assignment
Three Men and a Baby6: City Under
Come on now. Think! Steve Guttenberg ...
Three Men and a Baby7: Mission to Moscow?
I think I've made my point. For anyone
unclear as to what that might be, it is this: who the fuck is Steve
Guttenberg to write an autobiography?! The dust jacket quotes
weren't even from book critics, they were from his Hollywood pals.
Who gives a crap about this guy’s life? You could tell the same ten
books had been there since they arrived in 2010, waiting on the
shelf until their inevitable journey over to the discount table and
then, finally, to the dumpster. The book is an outrage! A blight on
the literary landscape.
Pretty good title though.
pon farr for the course
I'm not exactly sure what got me thinking
about the Amish and their coming-of-age ritual called
rumspringa, but once it started rattling around inside my
head I couldn't think of much else. Well, until I started to think
about the Vulcan psychological condition pon farr. For those
of you who are unfamiliar with one or both of these, I will
elaborate ... although if you don't know who Spock from Star
Trek is I'm not sure I can help you. I'm not saying that you
need to be a fan of the show but if you're unfamiliar with Spock
you're probably not from around here or, even worse, Amish.
Rumspringa refers to the window of
opportunity for an adolescent to break the rules a bit to see if he
or she is really cut out for the Amish way of life. It is not
uncommon to see such crazy behavior as driving automobiles, using
telephones, wearing brightly colored clothes and doing drugs with
an underage black prostitute before engaging in oral and anal sex.
After a certain period of time they then decide whether to go back
into the community and accept baptism within the Amish church or
head for the fucking hills.
Pon farr on the other hand occurs every seven
years and causes Vulcans, both male and female, to go into a fit of
uncontrollable rage until such a time as they can procreate. They
are prone to violence and will actually die unless they can get
We all know that feeling, am I
I guess we know now why there aren’t any
Amish Vulcans. You get a rumspringa running smack dab into a pon
farr and it is on. Everyone on board the starship will be
sprinting away from the ruddy-cheeked bearded guy with pointy ears
I guess I can't imagine any space-going
vessel having use for a crewmember who can't use a computer, won't
fight a Klingon (ghuy' lo'laHbe'ghach amish jaghla'), and
absolutely refuses to beam anyone up in the first place.
If you're thinking that I'm just going to
spend the rest of this story making fun of the Amish, then your
instincts are dead on mister. The question is where to begin. What
can you say about a culture that refuses to educate itself past the
8th grade level? Keep 'em dumb and they'll stay on the farm, is
that the idea?
Perhaps a more interesting way to pass the
time (instead of just making fun of those barn-raising simpletons),
would be to note that Gene Roddenberry, creator of the Star
Trek series, was a highly educated man who completely embraced
technology and envisioned a future where scientific advances lifted
humanity up and improved the quality of life for everyone. On the
other hand Jakob Ammann, the Swiss Mennonite leader who led his
followers away from traditional Anabaptist teachings (which he felt
weren't heavy enough on the church discipline and shunning aspects
of faith) and out into the Pennsylvanian countryside, was as dumb
as a brick and taught that technology was something to be shunned.
See? Right away he got some shunning in. He wasn't out in the fresh
air more than five minutes before he was off and shunning.
The question that first springs to mind is
this: which one of them would win in a fight?
Wait. Not where I was going with this at
all. Ok, maybe it's the second question that springs to mind. I
think you might need to lay off the UFC and martial arts movies a
bit. Really? Your first question would be who would win in a fight?
And then you wonder why I don't try harder writing these
Anyway, a question that immediately
springs to mind is this: is there a connection between the Amish
and Vulcans? Both reject pride, both place a high value on calmness
and placidity and both are reluctant to bring attention to
themselves. They both prize order above all else.
Let's face it, Spock is one beard short of
being a buggy-driving, hat-wearing Amish guy. Was this intentional
on the part of Roddenberry? While it is widely known in nerd
circles that the character of Spock was based on former Los Angeles
police Chief William H. Parker and his calm demeanor (Roddenberry
was a LA cop for awhile and worked under Parker), there might also
be something else to this Vulcan-Amish thing. Although Parker did
in fact desegregate the LAPD during the civil rights movement he
was also blamed by many for the Watts Riots because of the
department’s alleged brutality towards the black community.
Here's the weird thing. The Amish from way
back have had quote, "Little time for either Negroes, lawyers or
rum." I realize typing the word quote followed by the apostrophes
is redundant but I wanted to make it perfectly clear that those
were their words not mine in case my alcoholic black
attorney ever reads this.
Do you see what I'm trying to get at? Me
neither. Am I trying to say that Spock secretly hated Lt. Uhura?
Most people agree that she disliked him in the original series.
Racial tension perhaps? Didn't he picture her briefly in a bonnet
and apron in one episode during his pon farr?
Whooooah. This has really gotten away from
I hope they answer some of these (cross?)
burning issues in the next Star Trek movie.
a porcelain puzzler
Sometimes you just have to sit down and think
things through. You can't just take the easy way out and settle for
your first assumption. Take, for example, the issue of overflowing
toilets at parties. Most people just aren't willing to put in a
little extra work to figure out why there are a disproportional
amount of toilets that get backed up at parties relative to typical
So I sat down on my thinking chair,
ironically enough made of porcelain, and got to thinking.
Some people just jump to the conclusion that
someone does it on purpose. Someone clogs the toilet and then
Nope. That can't be it. That is far too risky
behavior. If you were ever caught you'd be forever known as a
'clogger' and your social life would dry up fast. Therefore we can
eliminate that as a possible cause.
The next answer that jumps out is pure math.
The toilet is flushed more so there would be a higher percentage
chance of a clog occurring. Even assuming that a clog "just
happens" and is not a result of a particular flusher's behavior,
which is a faulty assumption as any plumber would testify, it comes
down to crunching numbers and the numbers tell us that we should
not see anywhere near the number of overflow incidents that we do.
Not even close. So that eliminates another suspect.
Now we're getting down to it.
This next one has real possibility. I call it
the 'sparkling anus syndrome.' SAS says that people at a party,
particularly single, sexually-active people, are very conscious of
their bodies and if they are forced to take a dump at a party they
will over-clean that area to compensate. If they could, they would
jump in the shower and hose down the offending area just in case
they get lucky at the party. Nobody wants to head into a sexual
encounter knowing they have swamp ass. I would suspect that the
better looking the crowd the more incidences of SAS would occur.
Same with the male/female split, the closer it is to 50/50 the more
SAS will come into play. If it's a sausagefest what guy would
Here is where many people will make a fatal
mistake. That scenario sounds good so they will leave it at that
and simply blame SAS.
They are forgetting something, though. The
same people who would be so conscious of their ass smell would also
be very uncomfortable running the risk of being a 'clogger'. There
must be other forces at work here ... so the thinking
This is where the porcelain thinking chairs
pays off. It puts me in the zone. I'm in the head of the buzzed
partygoer with swamp ass and it occurs to me the missing piece of
the SAS puzzle.
It comes down to their home plumbing. If your
home commode has poor pull then you are going to be very conscious
of an unknown toilet and its flushing capacity. If, on the other
hand, you have one of these bad-ass toilets that has suction
usually only seen on the Space Station and could pull a live
squirrel into the sewer without breaking a sweat then you are not
as sensitive to the fact that some toilets might not be able to
handle a SAS load of paper.
Show me a good looking person with an awesome
home crapper and I'll show you the 'clogger' at any party. I bet
the soles of their shoes would still be damp when I busted
I'm telling you, a porcelain thinking chair
is worth every cent.
Some rattlesnakes don't have rattles.
I know right. Crazy.
I probably should have made sure you were
sitting down before sprung that on you.
Here's the thing. It's true that all
rattlesnakes are born with rattles. I hope you're either sitting
down now or never bothered to get back up from the shock of the
first sentence because there is a kind of rattlesnake where the
rattle actually falls off because they don't want it anymore.
The reason? Because the damn rattlesnake
hunts in the trees instead of on the ground and the rattle
accidentally rattles all the time and scares off the prey. I know
what you're thinking. Snakes that hunt in the trees are bright
green, the length and thickness of a jump rope and have an evil
demented smile on their face all the time. They eat frogs and such
and every frog dies with the same last thought going through their
amphibious head, "A snake up here? Really?!" Rattlesnakes on the
other hand are short and thick and sit camouflaged under a rock or
sitting in leaves until a mouse or rabbit walks by and they spring
into action with a quick bite. They are not built for life in the
These rattle-less snakes beg to differ. Maybe
there was a shortage of mice and rabbits or perhaps they got bored
with the ease at which meals were acquired, but whatever the reason
they looked up at a tree and said to themselves, "that's the life
You can be sure that nature did nothing to
encourage them. All the other rattlesnakes probably scoffed and all
the green tree snakes resented the intrusion, but at some point in
time the first slow, fat, clumsy rattlesnake stopped fighting their
arboreal tendencies and up they went. Not only that, but after
enough times of having their rattle go off at the wrong moment they
decided enough was enough and cut it loose.
The rattle falls off because unlike other
rattlesnakes who have the first segment of their rattle attached to
the end of their tail, this particular rattlesnake has a
degenerative first button that falls off with each shed. I think it
goes without saying that the other rattlesnakes consider more than
the tail of this rattlelesssnake 'degenerative.'
Now the obvious question is whether to admire
this behavior or root for their inevitable extinction. The easy
choice is to enjoy their eventual evolutionary failure, but I think
most people see too much of themselves in these sans-rattle
rattlesnakes to take any pleasure in the fact that half of these
dumb reptiles probably fall to their death in the first couple
years of life off the terra firma.
Of course there are some of you that probably
think the coolest part of being a rattlesnake is the rattle and the
idea that a snake would abandon this birthright to chase some crazy
tree-dwelling dream is offensive. I can understand this group of
folks fully getting on the "get your pudgy ass back on the ground"
I guess here is where I typically leap to the
defense of the snake that aspires to live a different life than
that expected of him and to rage against the 'snakes' that want to
hold him down. I'll be honest though, in this particular case I sit
with both an angel and a devil on one shoulder and Andy Kaufman
perched on the other. Do I really want a tree full of
rattlelesssnakes stalking birds and falling on innocent
passer-byers? Truly, the Tony Clifton of snakes.
I can feel the cool hand of reason slipping
up my skirt on this issue and no amount of purposely using three
S's in rattle-less snake makes me feel anything less than a
If I truly aspire to be a degenerate, why
can't I lose this rattled feeling?
icing from my cake
Sometimes we are a victim of circumstance and
sometimes it's our own damn fault. Sometimes it's both and that's
when you know you're really in for it. With a less embarrassing
story I guess I could build it up with all sorts of references to
unseen forces moving in the background, fate pulling strings behind
some cosmic curtain or my own self-destructive tendencies
manifesting themselves at a particularly inappropriate time, but in
this case I think it's best to plow along and try to tell this
story with as little embellishment as possible.
I write a lot, so it follows that I spend a
disproportionate amount of time in front of my computer. It also
follows that I consume a disproportionate amount of porn. Most of
the time it is sprung upon me as I try to Google something
completely unrelated and I find myself defenseless to its many
charms. That being said I use a disproportionate amount of tissue
paper at my computer. In my defense, sometimes I find the act of
masturbation completely abhorrent and engage in it quickly and with
the same enthusiasm I have for folding my clothes when they come
out of the dryer. It is simply something I have to do so I can get
back to work. Perhaps it is because of this compulsory and loveless
relationship I have with the act itself that I am so callous about
the need to dispose of the evidence of these transgressions.
Sometimes my waste basket is overflowing with these little
Today I found myself at exactly that
crossroads. I went to throw out a fax I had received when I
realized there was no more room at the inn. Or in the inn.
Whatever. Usually I would just jam my hand in and push everything
down but given the contents I was not inclined to follow this
course of action lest my hand return to me sticky and in need of
immediate decontamination. Looking out the front window I saw that
although my garbage can was at the curb I was in luck and the
garbage men had not yet arrived for pick-up. The use of the word
luck in that last sentence will later be up for further discussion.
Perhaps it was because I thoughtlessly referred to them as garbage
men as opposed to sanitation engineers that I brought this upon
myself. Whatever the case, the story moves pretty quickly from
I run outside with my trash can tucked under
my arm and realize that although it is a bit breezy out the
temperature is unseasonably warm and the neighborhood is choked
with small children laughing and frolicking. I think to myself, I
really do need to get out more and enjoy the nice weather and I am
truly feeling that all is right with the world when I open the lid
of my garbage and deposit my trash into it.
Almost on cue I hear the rumbling of the
garbage truck making its rounds. I slowly backpedal up my driveway
but I make sure to give a nice wave to the garbage engineers so
they know that I in no way consider myself superior to them. I
stand and watch fascinated as the truck stops and then a giant
metal arm reaches out and grabs my garbage can like some sort of
fetid Transformer. It hoists it quickly skyward, flips it over and
deposits it directly over the top of the truck so the refuse can
Here's the problem. As you might have guessed
from my earlier remarks, I tend to be the type of person who,
instead of taking out the trash when he should or the garbage can
down to the curb on schedule, will step on it and push it
down...whenever said garbage isn't soaked my own DNA samples of
course. My garbage can was indeed upside down but I noted that all
of the garbage did not come hurtling quickly down into the garbage
truck. Apparently I had packed it a little tight and it was taking
awhile for the forces of gravity to work their magic. Instead only
my recent contributions were coming out and given the stiff winds
these contributions were not in fact headed so much north-south as
east-west. To help you further picture what met my eyes I will just
come out and say it ... all my soiled tissues were blowing all over
the street. They looked like a swarm of white butterflies taking
flight from the top of the garbage truck.
Enter the helpful children.
It took me a full 3 or 4 second before what I
was witnessing translated into action but once I understood the
implications of a dozen neighborhood children scrambling to help me
retrieve my 'butterflies' and put them back into the garbage can I
became a whirling dervish of activity. "Nooooooo!!!" I yelled as I
charged out into the street to start to recover my cum-soaked
tissues. "No need to pick them up, I got them!" I bellowed as the
streets seem to teem with impressionable children eager to help.
"No Sally, that's not frosting! Just put it down!" Standing in the
eye of the semen snowstorm it occurred to me that I really need to
cut down on the porn. Good lord.
Typically I handle these tissues with the
same care that a guy in a hazmat suit handles radioactive waste but
instead I was grabbing them with the fervor that kids grab candy
falling from a compromised piñata. Unfortunately, so were the
I had to stand there as they each approached
me and handed over what they had collected. I reminded each of them
the value of washing their hands. In my head I could already hear
the wailing sirens of the police that would no doubt be coming to
collect me. Even if they don't show up, every boy out there will
remember what happened and I'll need to move at least three states
away before they hit puberty and put the pieces together.
May god have mercy on my soul ... Sally said
it was the worst frosting she ever tasted.
Favorite Facebook Status updates:
If I ever came into a large sum of money the only
extravagant thing I would do is build a huge bathroom with a dozen
toilets scattered around it. Whenever my dog goes outside to take a
dump I always watch in envy as he slowly walks around and
eventually finds the perfect spot to go.
Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is the fear of
long words. What sick bastard came up with that? Imagine having to
give that patient their diagnosis. "You'd better sit down for
It's not unusual for our planet to hit a low
temperature of 0 or a high of 120 degrees Fahrenheit but when my
house goes below 68 my heater turns on and if it gets above 72 the
air conditioning leaps into action. I have a comfort zone of 4
degrees. 4. Obviously this skin thing isn't working out at all.
Whenever you see an old movie that has a young girl
in it that later grew up to be a hottie, there is always a little
confusion going on in your pants.
If I were a movie star I'm pretty sure I'd watch my
own movies over and over. That's an embarrassing thing to know
10-4 social proof
It started on June 6th when Billy "Rubber
Duck" Bartucz met "Big" Ben Sullivan at the Flag Town Campgrounds
in Upstate New York. As fate would have it they both planned to
hitchhike across the country and after they started talking about
it in more detail they agreed to meet the next night at another
campsite a few hours' drive (or ride, to be precise) down the road.
Assuming they would both make it.
They did and after spending another enjoyable
evening in each other's company they decided to meet up again the
following evening in Ohio. It was there that they ran into Pete
McCall, another hitchhiker, and asked him to join their group. He
not only liked the idea, but invited a pair of hitchhikers a few
tents over. Jimmy Davis and his girlfriend, CW, an overweight but
amiable gal, were only too happy to sign on so that morning five
hitchers thrust out their thumbs with the intention of hooking up
at another predetermined spot later that day.
By the time they got to Tulsa there were 85
of them. With cell phones and laptops, the word had been spread and
soon they had to fan out so as not to overload the roads with
hitchhikers. Every morning they would leave their encampment like
bees swarming out trying to get the next ride.
Of course hitchhiking is illegal in most
states so eventually the group started to come under some scrutiny
but they moved through road blocks like water through a sieve.
Armored cars and jeeps could do nothing to stop them. Campground
were another thing though and soon the number of
free-ride-solicitors was too great and they were turned away from
every place they tried, so it was decided that they would meet up
in large fields and make do where they could.
Somewhere in New Mexico, it was agreed that
everyone who insisted on playing acoustic guitars and harmonicas at
the campfires late into the evening every night would be given the
wrong location to meet at the following day. The following evening
things were significantly quieter and people were in a noticeably
No law enforcement agencies would dare move
against such a large group but instead they waited on the outskirts
and picked off the stragglers. Even so they could do nothing to
slow down the movement across the Rockies, their numbers growing
with every passing day.
As they approached California there were over
a thousand of them. A sea of thumbs and cardboard signs, choking
every highway, freeway, expressway, parkway, throughway and
interstate. A herd unlike anything seen in nature, a sea of
humanity flowing over peaks and down through valleys, completely
dependent on the kindness of strangers to move them along. With
numbers this great, every possible story that could be told was
played out. Terrible acts of cruelty and inspiring acts of
altruism. The very best of mankind and the absolute worse. It was
On the afternoon of June 21st they arrived in
Pismo Beach, California just as the sun was setting. Rubber Duck
and Big Ben looked out at the throngs and gave them all a smile and
a friendly wave. "Gas, grass or ass ... nobody rides for free!"
Rubber Duck exalted and the crowd roared its approval. The two
road-weary friends then turned and walked to the edge of the cliff
that sat perched high above the calm blue ocean. With a final
glance back at the crowd and a reassuring nod to each other, they
jumped. For a moment there was silence as the gathering drank in
the scene but then as one they ran to the edge and launched
It was spectacular.
Of course with that many bodies hurling
themselves into the water there were a few bumps and bruises but
the water was cool and refreshing and most of these hitchhikers
badly needed a bath so it was all good.
What? You didn't think lemmings could
Everyone swam and laughed and each thanked
the thousands of drivers who had made the moment possible in their
own way and while not many of the swimmers lived happily ever most
of them had wonderful night.
the orange glass cup
With the advent of eBooks it is estimated
that by 2015 over 70% of all adults over the age of 18 will be
published authors. Now some of you would leap to the conclusion
that a self-published writer like myself would be against this
proliferation of literature but you couldn't be more wrong. I would
much rather see 1,000 authors sell 1,000 books each than see 1 sell
1,000,000. Selling a million of anything tends to create the print
equivalent of a phenomena like Justin Bieber.
It is in this spirit that I offer the
following advice to the millions of you who haven't published a
book yet but are thinking about it: Sometimes an orange cup is just
an orange cup.
i.e. don't overwrite.
I know that when we come upon this cup in
your story that it could well be made of plastic or ceramic or
paper or any number of metals but the point is, it's a cup. Of
course, technically it could also be made of glass but then
wouldn't you have called it a glass? I don't want to discourage
you, but if you called a cup made of glass a cup then perhaps you
should think about joining the 30% of people not writing a
book. I am also aware as I read your story that the cup might be
large or small and it might even have writing on it but the
important thing is to keep things moving along and I really don't
need a thirty word description of the cup.
Unless of course one of the main characters
has said something along the lines of "If we can just find that
orange cup we'll know who killed the Professor." In this case I
think it would be perfectly understandable to give us a quick
rundown of the aforementioned vessel in the unlikely chance that
later in the story that same character happens to stumble into a
room filled with a wide variety of orange cups.
Now I realize that some of you are reading
this and no doubt asking yourself why anyone would be dispensing
advice about keeping things short and then go on to beat the living
shit out of the topic of an orange cup. It's just that kind of
attitude that is going to get you nowhere faster Mister (or
Missus). There is a point behind everything I write and I would
like nothing better than to give you that point but for the time
being I forget what it was. It will come back to me soon I assure
you, so in the meantime I'll just keep writing.
I am a professional writer, mind you. I have
sold literally dozens of book, albeit mostly to family and friends
(and by sold, I mean gave away), so you'd do well to take
everything I say and tuck it away in the 'good advice' portion of
Especially about orange cups.
The thing about orange cups is that they are
just the kind of thing a reader likes to come to their own
conclusions about. It's about trusting your audience. If a reader
isn't allowed to picture an orange cup in their head without you
spending two paragraphs telling them every detail then they will
reach the conclusion that you think they are unimaginative. Can you
blame them? Do you really believe that your orange cup is so
superior to the lame orange cup that they will be imaging that you
can't throw them a bone? If I'm a reader, for example, and the
murder-mystery is barreling along and suddenly the detective in
question crashes into a solemn room where cigarette smoke hangs in
the air and a turntable is softly playing some big band favorite
from yesteryear, and he sees the suspect holding an orange cup and
wearing a tight cloth cap do I really want to feel as if the author
has such a low opinion of me that he will think to himself he'd
better give me the details of the cup lest I am imagining it as
some fruit-clad chalice adorned with pink umbrellas, rhinestone
handles and a large Plexiglass bottom with a live goldfish swimming
around it? Unless the book I'm reading is called The Amazing
Orange Cup you'd be right in assuming no. I mean to say, half
the fun of that scene is letting the reader fill in how lazy the
smoke is, moving through the room, what old song is playing and
what color the tight cloth cap is. As a writer you'll never be able
to create the mood better than the person holding the book/reader
in their hands. So unless the orange cup has a secret button that
launches poison darts out of the side of it, then it's just a
fucking orange cup!
Still with me o' potential book writer?
Good. We professional authors need to stick
together...just don't think of offering me any advice. I'd probably
tell you to go throw yourself down a mineshaft.
The mineshaft you just imagined in great
shocking homeless information
If there is one time that is particularly
hard on the homeless, it's when it rains. Not so much getting wet,
although the threat of flu and pneumonia is definitely there, but
just the idea that they don't have a place to go when it rains.
One of the simple joys of life is having a
'roof over your head' when it rains. To hear it pouring outside
while you are safe and snug inside your home is something the
homeless are denied. Even if they find a place to stand under, it's
not the same.
And then there's the lightning.
Most people live their whole lives blissfully
unaware that the government controls the lighting.
You didn't know that? Come on, time to grow
Lighting has been quietly killing the
homeless since the government developed the technology in the late
80s. It's such an absurd thought that nobody has put the pieces
together. If you look at the data it's quite obvious.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA) have compiled lists of lighting fatalities
since 1959. From that time until the late 80s, the US averaged 90
deaths by lightning a year. The digital Storm Data listing
of the locations of these victims is not very precise. Of the known
designations, recreation was the largest category in every region
and in the US. The next largest group involved people located under
trees, and the next was related to proximity to bodies of water.
The remaining categories involving small numbers of people were
golfers, people involved in agricultural activities, telephones
users, and people in proximity to radios and antennas.
Sounds reasonable enough, am I right? For
those with a burning passion for all things meteorological, you'll
also be interested to note that July is the worst month for getting
hit by lightning and the most likely time to be struck is between
noon and 6:00 pm. Casualties are highest on Sundays, followed
closely by Saturdays.
Makes that roof over your head seem even
better about now, doesn't it?
Once we look at the Storm Data as we
creep into the 90s though, things change.
Suddenly the average number of deaths per
year jumps to 300. Strange that this has never been reported.
What's also strange is that the make-up of the victims also
changes. Now in addition to the usual suspects listed above is a
new category: individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate
nighttime place of abode. How did the press miss this one? Another
interesting shift in data concerns the time of these strikes. The
majority now occur between midnight at 6:00 am. When the homeless
Sinister enough that it got me digging a
little deeper … and I was shocked and appalled by what I found.
You know what else changed in the early 90s?
The FBI added another category to their crime index. That's right,
300 isn't even the tip of the iceberg.
And then you wonder why the homeless started
the whole baggy pants fad. Would you go to sleep wearing a belt
with a metal buckle?!
Seemingly out of nowhere the FBI added "high
voltage" to their list of crimes. High voltage, you ask?
Since 1993 there have been over 6,315
instances of death by "high voltage." How many of these crimes have
been solved? Zero.
If you dig a little deeper you find many
different causes of death but they all sound damn familiar; people
burned internally inside their brain where motor functions were
severed and the body couldn't control motor and life support
functions such as respiration, victims who had their heart and
aorta burned to a crisp (where the major blood flow takes place)
and then bled to death internally, and some who were stunned by an
electrical charge and their heart stopped beating.
Ready to be chilled to your very core?
How many of these individuals were homeless
men and women?
On a related note, somehow I think this bit
of information was given to the 'Occupy Wall Street' crowd because
you suddenly saw them start to pull up their tents pretty quickly.
At some point even a liberal government is going to get tired of
their stupidity and I guarantee I know what the weather forecast
will be that night. Regular or extra crispy!
Let's be honest. Nobody like the homeless.
They are a depressing reminder of the frailty of the human
condition … and they usually smell like shit. But how can we turn a
blind eye when our government is systematically barbequing
Anyway, my point is that every time there is
a big storm at night and I'm lying with my head on my pillow
listening to the thunder it's really nice to know I have an address
associated with my name in the big ol' government computer.
Not being homeless kicks ass.
not another fucking spider blog
I guess it's because I've been watching a lot
of YouTube videos of spiders, eating things you wouldn't even think
possible, that the thought even occurred to me. There is just
something about watching an insect eating a mammal or reptile that
fascinates me. It just seems wrong somehow. You would think that if
in the unlikely event a snake fell into a web that it would just
wriggle its way right out.
It hangs there confused for awhile and then
only tries to make an escape after the proud owner of the web comes
to see what all the ruckus is about and proceeds to start biting.
This pisses off the snake to no small degree but the web ends up
being a lot stronger than you'd think and before long the snake is
all wrapped up and this tiny little spider is enjoying a quick
opheodrys vernalis snack.
On the other hand some spiders are just so
damn big that they just grab shit and sink in the ol' fangs. Mice
are one thing but some of these monstrosities actually attack
full-sized birds and bats. Bats!
I sit transfixed in my chair unable to look
So it was that earlier today I was mowing my
lawn and decided to get underneath the big holly tree out front. I
speak as if you know which house is mine and by saying "The big
holly tree" you'll immediately say to yourself, "Oh yes, the one by
the garage". It is just this type of implied intimacy that explains
your love of all things Manion.
So I'm really getting under the tree with the
mower, knowing that typically I just get close enough to avoid
being scratched by the unnecessarily-pointy leaves of the holly
tree (the one by the garage) and the grass directly underneath
sometimes gets a bit shaggy, and doing my best to avoid getting
mauled by the unnecessarily-green leaves when I feel it: the
unmistakable feeling of having walked into a spider web.
The mother of all spider webs.
It was huge and stretched from the shaggy
grass at the base of the holly tree, that I might have mentioned
before sits in close proximity to the garage, all the way to the
gutter that hangs directly above the oft-mentioned garage. We've
all been there, that gross feeling and the inevitability of looking
like a complete moron to any onlookers as you try and wipe away the
webbing that is invisible to everyone but you. You call out to
everyone "Spider web!" but to them you just look like you're having
a small seizure.
I was just about to start the 'webbing retard
dance' when I remembered all the YouTube videos. So I froze and
waited to see what would happen. Sure enough less than a minute
later I saw the spider.
It was lurking behind an
unnecessarily-pointy-and-green leaf and came out to see what all
the hubbub was all about. It took in the scene. It absorbed the
situation. At least that's what I assumed it was doing as it just
sat there looking at me stuck in its web.
I have failed to this point to mention that
it was a delightful day outside. Upper 70's, light breeze. The
perfect day to stand, unmoving in a large web, watching a spider
take in and absorb things.
Then it started to move slowly towards
No way. The spider wasn't as big as the tip
of my dick and here it was wrestling with the thought that maybe,
just maybe it could eat me.
The worst part? I got nervous. Just for an
instant I swear. I just had this "What if he can actually eat me?"
moment. Feeling embarrassed I decided to see this through. As it
made its way closer I even wriggled a fingertip as if I was
hopelessly ensnared and ready to be digested at the spider's
He bought it. Before long he was only an inch
away from my face and starting to spin extra silk out of his ass to
fortify his hold on me as if he feared I would suddenly realize my
peril and make a break for it. I had to admire his pluck. I guess
he thought that if he could actually land me that he'd have enough
food for pretty much his entire lifespan and then some. Perhaps he
was even thinking about the possibility of sharing me and thus
becoming the coolest spider in the whole holly tree by my garage
and even, perhaps, other nearby trees ... be they holly or
As dumb as I might have looked to a passerby,
had I freaked out when I first walked into the web and been
flailing around in my attempt to remove all the web, it didn't hold
a candle to how dumb I looked now pretending to be caught in the
web for the benefit of the spider. It was only after the fact that
this reality occurred to me of course.
But back to the action.
The spider was now only about half an inch
from my face. He moved closer and I got a good look. Remember when
Arnold was able to pry off the faceplate of the alien in
Predator? Oh how I wish I had the intestinal fortitude of
Arnold. The spider obviously had Arnold-type-fortitude in spades
because he was about to bite me.
It didn't matter that I was huge and he was
tiny, I broke and ran. His venom would have caused a momentary
irritation at best and at no time was I in any peril whatsoever but
I ran. So help me I ran.
And the worst part? When I ran the web came
undone and the spider landed on my face and then another layer of
web made sure he wasn't going anywhere soon.
So the two of us left the cozy confines of
the holly tree near the garage and began a less-than-leisurely
jaunt to parts unknown. Namely the street at the exact moment a
neighbor was driving past.
That was the spider. Having realized that he
was perhaps a bit too optimistic as far as meals go I think he was
now just hoping to survive his encounter with whatever it was that
mowed the lawn.
After the car had come to a screeching halt.
After the explanation. And the humiliation. I returned the spider
to his tree and finished the lawn.
Looking back on it I wouldn't trade the
experience for the world and I like to think the spider felt the
There is a small town in West Virginia where
time runs a little differently than it does around most places. The
town is situated in the Appalachian Mountains and because I'm from
the north you'll assume that I am in some way making fun of the
residents of that town by saying what I did about time running a
bit differently. But rifling through your head to come up with
hillbilly clichés isn't going to help you as much as trying to
remember what you were taught in science about how gravity can
actually bend the time-space continuum. Even that won't help as
much as I'd like, suffice it to say that when I say Little Gorge,
West Virginia is set deep in the Appalachians, I do mean deep.
There are no hotels in Little Gorge, the last
thing the town wants is to encourage outsiders and there are no
travel agencies in Little Gorge because the last thing the town
wants is to encourage their own residents. The particular thing
about the town is that anyone who was not born within the city
limits can never fall asleep there. So you see why a hotel would be
a cruel trick to play on visitors. In the event of a medical
emergency involving someone from the outside, they are hustled into
an ambulance and taken to the nearest hospital outside the county
because no amount of anesthesia will put them under. To date nobody
has ever had to have an operation while they are awake but the
possibility of such an event remains.
Funny thing about when the people from Little
Gorge venture outside of town...if they fall asleep, they wake up
two weeks later. Leave it to mountain folk to mess up a perfectly
good Brigadoon storyline. There are no such things as vacations for
the townspeople of Little Gorge. They trade fourteen days of their
life for every day spent somewhere else. Occasionally one of the
young ones will want to bolt and make for a nearby big city but
after the realities of the town's situation have been explained to
them they let common sense guide their decision. Stories of outside
life do tend to make their way in, however, and tend to plant the
seeds for the next generation of impetuous youth so that temptation
will always be there.
So to the outside world, the residents of
Little Gorge seem downright rude. They seemingly have no desire to
interact with the rest of humanity. The truth is that they have a
secret to keep, because the last thing they want is a team of
government scientists descending on their quiet town and turning
them all into lab rats.
Obviously you'd think that this set-up must
create a plethora of interesting stories, fascinating examples of
the human spirit in action and folktales galore, but nothing is
farther from the truth. This extraordinary circumstance just gives
the citizens of Little Gorge an excuse to do what most of the
people who live in small mountain towns do. Nothing much.
Ok, I will admit there is one thing that is
interesting about the place. You see all of the inhabitants of
Little Gorge have a secret but only a few of them have another one
on top of that.
Their secret is that the first secret isn't
you know the drill
Morale was low inside the firehouse that sat
just inside the city limits on the west end of Chiayi. There had
been an increase in the number of fires inside the city recently
and the poor training that the firemen had received was starting to
show. Like all firehouses in The People's Republic of China they
were given an inadequate amount of equipment, they were
understaffed and all of the firemen felt underpaid and
That wasn't what was eating Dazhu Xing at the
moment though. It was the training. More specifically it was the
fact that this training hadn't been reviewed and updated in
decades. It wasn't adapting to a new set of realities. Although
technology had advanced and the city had grown, they were given
strict instructions and protocols on how to deal with every
scenario that could possibly arise from a counsel far removed from
Chiayi and unqualified to make such judgments.
He had visited other countries and seen new
techniques being employed that not only saved collateral but also
saved lives. Why was his country so backward in its thinking? Did
communism by definition have to turn a blind eye to the rest of the
world and stick with its own traditions even if it meant doing so
was detrimental to the very people it claimed to serve and protect?
It seemed more about keqi than doing what was right.
Take for instance the regulations about
getting to the fire itself. Once an alarm has been sounded the
response time for his crew to arrive is more than double what it
should be due to the government policy of having to stop at every
light, wait for it to turn red, have all the firemen jump out, run
around the fire engine and then get back into the vehicle in a
different spot. A few years back when Dazhu went to the board that
oversees such things to complain they agreed completely and
invested in a device that when installed made sure the lights turn
red as they approached to save them from having to wait for a
green. Dazhu was unable to make it clear to them that this was not
the answer he was looking for.
The board also suggested that his crew spend
more time practicing jumping out at each light to improve their
time, and called for the removal of one of the hoses, so it would
be easier for the firefighters to get in and out.
Now I could go on and provide even more
details about this completely fictitious person and the fictitious
fire department he works for and perhaps even pretend that this
blog is a scalding commentary about the inefficiencies that are
allowed to go unchecked in a communist society but the point is
this ... is the image of a fire department racing to a fire but
having to stop at every red light and perform a Chinese fire drill
the funniest damn thing you've ever imaged?
I truly don't believe you are thinking about
it hard enough. Try again. Flashing lights, blaring sirens, the
yellow fire-resistant suits and big rubber boots. Chinese guys
scrambling to get in and out of the fire engine as a building
somewhere down the street is burning down.
You not even trying a rittle.
I should never have jogged to someone else's
Ipod. The songs didn't take my mind off my sore knees or the years
sneaking by. To make matters worse today was the day that I had
planned on altering my route to include a new hill. Being out of
shape I tend to stick to the kind of flat where you can see an
anthill coming 20 yards away.
I like the word distance when I hear people
talk about distance runners. Great way of describing it. Distance.
That's why I need to run to the songs I like because it helps me
create distance. Not in miles but between myself and the pain in my
knees and lungs and head. Throw on the wrong soundtrack and it
affects your distance.
I'm on the way down from the top of this hill
when I first see him. Of course, I call it a hill but if you live
in Colorado or Wyoming you'd probably snort a contemptuous snort
and call it a tiny bump on an otherwise smooth road, but I'm
telling the story so just be grateful that I didn't describe a
jagged peak that disappears into the clouds.
Anyway, I'm headed down when I see this
optical illusion created by the great distance between myself, what
I couldn't possibly be seeing and my borderline dehydration (having
gone at least 10 minutes without a long gulp of Gatorade). There's
a guy at the bottom of the hill and the way he's standing it makes
it appear as if his body is normal but instead of a head he has a
stop sign. I drop my head, laugh a little to myself and continue
jogging, certain that he is standing behind a stop sign and this is
just one of those funny things you see that can never be recreated
however hard you try. The smile fades a bit when I think I remember
not seeing a stop sign there on the jog past that spot 5 minutes
I look again. Still a stop sign for a
Little laugh, drop head. Funny the
information your eyes can present to your brain with a straight
Another shitty song on the Ipod.
I look again and now there is no getting
around it. It's a guy with a stop sign for a head. Not in some
metaphorical sense but an actual red octagon with the word STOP
written on it where typically you see a person's head.
Now of all the questions you'd think would be
racing through my head at that moment you might be surprised a
little to learn what the only one really was. As I approach this
guy, do I have to stop? What you also might be surprised to learn
is that I didn't think that because his head was a stop sign and I
was under any illusions that I was legally required to stop, but
just that someone who has a stop sign for a head might not feel
comfortable in public and stopping and saying hi to put him at ease
might be the nice thing to do.
I could sit here all day and speculate what
questions might have popped into your head but instead I'll just
carry on and tell you that as I got closer the physiology of this
guy truly was a normal-looking person with a regulation stop sign
where his head was... except for one detail. He had a big mustache
sitting under the T. No eyes, no mouth, just this thick stash.
As you might expect I lost my nerve and just
jogged right by him with a little nod of recognition. I can't beat
myself up too much for not being more neighborly, the stash really
Yet another shitty song on the Ipod. Damn,
you'd think that just the law of probability would dictate that at
least one non-shitty song would come on but this playlist was shit
from bow to stern.
I admit that for a little while after this
encounter I did wonder to myself which sign I would be if I had to
choose one, I'm certain it would only have 4 sides as opposed to 8,
but for the rest of my unpleasant run I mainly was thinking about
Arthur Schopenhauer and his quote about truth .
"All truth passes through three stages.
First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it
is accepted as being self-evident."
I thought about the distance between each of
those stages, not in the way we process information and reach
conclusions but in actual feet and yards. About the man with a stop
sign for a head and how proud I was that I was able to close those
distances before I actually reached him.
Although in retrospect, I really should have
the King and the 3 crowns
Every 3 or 4 years, whether I need it or not,
I go to get my teeth cleaned. I'm good like that. Like clockwork. I
don't mention this lightly, I hate getting my teeth cleaned so the
fact that I step up to the plate with such regularity is something
I'm pretty proud of. Sort of gives me that adult shine.
My dental hygienist takes her job seriously
so when I sit down I know I'm on for the long haul. I'm never sure
if she loves or job or hates it, but once that chair gets tilted
all the way back, my feet are high and my head is low, she is all
business. I always think it's strange how much I want her approval.
When she tells me to open a bit wider you'd think I was a snake
unhinging its jaws. She tells me to move a little to the left and I
practically break my own neck as I hurl my head leftward. I swear,
if she brought a donkey over and had it place its balls in my mouth
I doubt I'd utter a peep in protest. I guess when someone is
wielding a sharp object in your mouth, you aim to please.
So she starts in cleaning, adorned with her
bib and safety glasses. Apparently, she's not very good with blood
because about two minutes in I feel her forehead hit mine. Rather
hard actually. Obviously I've had my eyes closed as she's been
working, otherwise I'd be staring right into her face for the
entire appointment and that would be creepy so that explains why I
wasn't ready for her head smashing into mine. Her nose ends up in
my mouth and I guess the wetness of said mouth brought her suddenly
to because her head pops back up and she acts like nothing
happened. Clearly it did, because it’s either that or her red nose
indicates she's gone and joined the circus since she started my
cleaning. But I let it slide. Again, she's the one with the sharp
metal thing in my mouth.
Unfortunately this little scene continues to
replay itself every few minutes. After every tooth she asks me to
rinse and every 3 or 4 teeth she excuses herself and walks outside
for some air. I can watch her right out the window and I see her
bending over and taking a knee and swinging her arms around like
she's either building enough nerve to return to her post or about
to pinch hit in the bottom of the 6th. I rarely use baseball
terminology as I find the sport crushingly dull, so make sure to
enjoy that little nugget as you won't be seeing another for quite
Finally she's back, wrist-deep in my orifice
and with all the scraping and chiseling I expect two Venus de
Milo's where my front teeth use to be, but a quick once-over with
the tongue confirms that they are still intact.
I should point out at this time that during
the entire appointment she's had the radio on and it's been tuned
to Radio Margaritaville. I wasn't aware that Jimmy Buffet had a
radio station that plays only his songs or songs that he feels
inspired him. This radio stations answers the age-old question,
"What are they listening to in hell?". Finally after hearing him
cover Jimi Hendrix's The Wind Cries Mary, I spluttered and
gurgled out that she needed to either change the station, turn it
off or take the radio and club me over the head with it until I'm
The whole 'clean a tooth, pass out and
recover' routine had my appointment pushing two hours and I wasn't
even half done. My jaw ached and I was sick of making that little
gagging sound every time I tried to swallow with my mouth wide open
which apparently is impossible, but you have to try otherwise you
feel you're going to drown in your own spit. My mouth was so wide
open that one time she dropped the little metal thing and then
there was a pause and then you heard this little splash like when
you throw a coin in a fountain. Lightheaded from the significant
blood loss I was experiencing at the hands of Madam Scraper, I was
overjoyed to see her eventually reach for the little floor buffer
thing and start to apply the finishing touches.
Finally the sun was low on the horizon and my
day at the dentist was almost over. Now that his opening act was
finished, the dentist strolled in like the dental rock star he is
in his white jumpsuit, announced my x-rays look fine, threw his
sweat-soaked scarf on top of me and told me that I only need 3
Thank you. Thank you very much.
the comedy lesson
So you want to make people laugh do you? Well
before you go galloping off trying, I'd like to review a few
things, otherwise you might hurt yourself or someone close to you.
You're not trying to kill someone are you? Are you?
I didn't think so.
First of all let's discuss profanity. You see
more and more of it these days and the conventional wisdom seems to
be that it is ok as long as there is a point to it and it isn't
Conventional wisdom forgot why people curse
in the first place. And another thing, when is the last time you
laughed at conventional wisdom? Not including the conventional
wisdom that profanity should never be used gratuitously, of
I think it would be easier to demonstrate my
point with a joke:
Go fuck yourself.
Go fuck yourself who?
Open the fucking door already.
As you can clearly see that is funny. It
makes no sense but you can't deny it's funny. Well, I guess you
could deny it, but you'd be wrong. What makes it funny? The
gratuitous use of the word “fuck.” So the takeaway from this is
that profanity is funny.
Let's view this from another angle. There is
an old joke that goes as follows:
What's the difference between Cirque du Soleil and
One is a bunch of cunning stunts.
No questioning that's funny. It lets the
listener of the joke figure out the punch line themselves. There is
inference of profanity but none is actually uttered. If funny isn't
good enough for you, though, I'd suggest it be told this way:
What's the difference between Cirque du Soleil and
One is a bunch of stunning cunts.
Now that's hilarious. I suggest you try it
both ways to see for yourself. I doubt many of your listeners will
even bother to work out the word play and just roar that you said
cunts out loud.
You see where I'm going with this?
Worried that somebody might be offended?
Don't be. People need to be offended every now and then. It's
healthy. If they don't vent a little self-righteous indignation
from time to time they end up bottling it up and either sitting in
a bell tower with a high-powered rifle or, far worse, starting a
Bible/Torah/Koran study group.
Ok, one last example and then I send you off
to be funny on your own. This is a bit cerebral so try and stay
The other day I opened my front door and screamed
"Hey you kids! Get the fuck off my lawn!"
Two things you should know. One, I live in a
townhouse so it's really not my lawn. And two, there were no kids
outside at the time.
Now some of you are wondering why this is
In and of itself it's not. It might be
interesting and make the listener think you're smarter than you
really are but any actual guffaws would have to be created inside
their own head. Except for the fact you said "Get the fuck off my
lawn!" If you say that loud enough and wildly swing your arms about
people will laugh. Even though what follows isn't exactly funny. I
bet if you pretend to be really old the laugh will be bigger.
So there you have it. Humor and profanity are
like peanut butter and jelly.
Now go write a blockbuster comedy.
Oh yeah, and if you're ever at the University
of South Carolina ask everyone you meet on campus if their women's
sports teams are called the Gamecunts. Would love to see
Mr. Kaycee plays ball
It was just a crazy turn of events that put
me on to my son's ability otherwise I'm sure I would have bunged
him off to the shrink in two shakes of a lamb's tail. I just so
happened to not only sit listening to him talk in his sleep one
night, smiling and thinking it was about the cutest and creepiest
thing I'd ever heard, but then also happened to be at the right
spot at the right time to hear my neighbor repeat word for word the
exact conversation the next day.
I'll slow down and let that sink in. Believe
me, take your time. It took me quite awhile to figure out what was
going on myself. Let me throw in some details.
I was only up because my dog is old and craps
in the house. To get my attention she walks around on the tile at
the front of the house and if I don't hurl myself down the stairs
like an Olympic hurler she will take that as a sign that it is all
clear to commence walking about the living room crapping. I
literally sleep with one eye open these days. So I was plodding
back up the stairs after standing at the back door for the better
part of the evening awaiting my dog’s triumphant return from the
back yard when I heard my son talking.
At first I thought he was calling out to me
but his voice seemed to be too flat to be in any distress so I
casually made my way down the hall trying to make out what he was
saying. He was going into great detail about how the back deck
needs replacing and it was about god damned time he got serious and
marched his ass down to the hardware store and bought the necessary
Not the usual stuff that comes out of his
mouth. I was expecting snack foods or monsters to be honest. Those
seem to be his two main preoccupations at present but what I got
instead was a long dissertation on the difficulties of replacing
rotting wood. It went on for quite a time and slowly my smile faded
and was replaced by a mix of concern, bemusement and sleepy
acceptance that the mind is an odd beast and one can never tell,
I'll skip ahead to the following day around
dinnertime. I was heating the grill for the burgers when I heard my
neighbor open his back door and come out on his deck. My wife had
left me years before due to my "selfish outlook" as she called it,
so it was only my son and I for dinner pretty much every night. I
had become quite the little cook and I was able to throw together
hamburgers without much thought. In fact my mind was wandering back
to the previous evening and my son's strange ramblings, my
well-trained hands mechanically squeezing the meat into patties and
mindlessly tossing them on the grill, when I heard the identical
strange ramblings from next door. For a few moments I thought my
head had an echo because the words going through them were being
repeated word for word.
There. You're all caught up. And probably not
believing a word for word I'm saying. I don't blame you. Not at
all. I didn't believe what I was hearing. How could it be? My son
walked out to inquire how things were going in the dinner
department and to tell me the corn was almost ready to go and I
just stared at him like a mental patient. In this case, I must have
looked like I was a mental patient to him and I was wondering which
of us was the mental patient on my side of the equation. Clearly
one of us was a few cards short of a deck.
Or perhaps my son had a few extra cards
hidden up his sleeve.
Like any parent my first thought was "How can
I get rich off this?" If I had a little 'Rain Man' or something was
there a way to make a lot of cash from it? We ate our meal in
silence as I stared at my son with a proud yet freaked out look.
Was this a onetime thing? Would the talk shows be interested? Does
he have a tumor of some sort? I remember seeing John Travolta in a
movie where he got smart all of a sudden after a tumor started
growing in his head. He never went on any talk shows as I recall
and that seemed a wasted opportunity to me.
I did dishes and casually ask my son if he
remembered the dream he had but, as I expected, he had no idea what
I was talking about and I didn't want to push the topic any
further. Better he didn't know what I suspected and just continued
on oblivious to his new-found earning potential.
But how to get rich from this peculiar
ability. Even calling it an ability seemed rash at the time but how
else to describe it?
Then it dawned on me. The neighbor on the
other side of my house announced the games for the major league
baseball team in our area. If my son was able to anticipate what he
was going to say then all I needed to do was point him in the
direction of this broadcaster, have him pick up the play-by-play,
enough to see who won the game, and then lay down a bet based on
this insider knowledge. Child's play. Well, sleeping-child's play
After I looked up the next home game for the
team I went to the bank and took out two mortgages and suddenly
found myself quite liquid as they say in financial circles. The
night before the game, I flipped my son's bed to face the other
way, threw on a pot of coffee and waited for the pertinent details
of tomorrow's game to begin pouring out.
I wasn't disappointed. Somewhere near 2:00
a.m. he began giving me the ol' balls and strikes and I realized
quickly we were already in the 4th inning. I sat transfixed as he
described every pitch and hit and even talked through the
commercial breaks about how much he'd like to ball the new blonde
ball girl. With the home team winning 6-2 in the 8th he suddenly
rolled over and went silent.
Now at this point you must be thinking how
disappointed I was or how I was already thinking about how I can
make sure I got the whole game next time but such was my enthusiasm
for cashing in on my son's gift that I figured a 6-2 lead with only
one more time at bat for the visitors was about as sound an
investment as there is. Later that same day the necessary funds
were placed with a reputable gambling establishment and I clutched
my betting slips and watched the opposing team score five runs in
the top of the 9th as I screamed and lept around in front of the
TV. My son fled the room, scared off by my sudden interest in
baseball. After the lead-off batter for the home club walked the
next batter struck out and then the next hit into a double play to
end the contest.
My son did indeed end up having a tumor but
after losing the house I couldn't afford the treatment necessary to
give him the best chance at beating it.
It was the bottom of the 9th and his old man
had struck out.
If there is one resource on the planet that
we are not utilizing to the fullest extent is has to be dolphins.
While not completely untapped you certainly can't argue with the
stark reality that they are completely undertapped. Mostly because
of the fact that you are reading this and can't argue anything.
(One of the downsides to being on the receiving end of a story.)
There are so many things we could be doing with them (dolphins), in
addition to the obvious ones of looking for sunken treasure and
herding tuna. I read somewhere that we are close to figuring out
their clicking language, so if we can do that we can ask them to
teach us all the other fish languages. Take for instance the manta
ray. If it can sense fish under the sand using electric signals and
such, there is no reason we couldn't ask it to look for oil
I'm just spitballing here. The point is that
the ocean probably has a lot to teach us. Now for you Nervous
Nellies (This is a perfect example of how difficult is to write.
Most people assume that you just sit down and start writing away
but the truth is that you never get more than a few sentences in
before you run into a Nervous Nellie. And here is an example, do
you capitalize Nervous Nellie? I'm pretty sure about the Nellie but
isn't nervous an adjective or adverb? I'll be frank, I have no
idea. If my name was Frank then I'd go ahead and capitalize
it in that last sentence, even though I know it's an adjective or
adverb or something involving action or description or something
but I'd assume you, the reader, would catch on to my funny use of
the capitol F. The capitol N isn't as funny because nobody could be
sure I meant it as ironic or I just don't know any better. See how
hard it is to write?) out there ...
I'm going to go ahead and start that
paragraph over, that little digression went on way too long. Ok, I
was talking about dolphins and wanted to make sure the 'timid or
worrisome' readers out there didn't get their panties in a twist
over the idea that by partnering so closely with dolphins that they
would learn all our secrets and somehow become a threat. Before you
imagine a sky dark with dolphin bombers, remember that back in the
day when all us mammals were sitting together in the sea it was
only humans that crawled up on land and started getting army and
handy and fingery. (If you'll allow me another detour from the main
topic I'd like to point out that in the last sentence my automatic
spell check only flagged the word fingery. It was perfectly fine
with army and handy despite the fact that I was using them in a
completely incorrect manner. Now do you see the stress involved in
writing? How am I ever going to be able to relax and trust my spell
check when it is so obviously ill-equipped to deal with my use of
the language? But soldier on I must despite the fact that I only
used the word soldier because the word army was still in my head so
now I'm certain this story is headed nowhere coherent.)
Simply put it would take the dolphin a few
hundred thousand years to evolve hands and I'm sure we'd start to
suspect something in all that time. You can't exactly spring hands
onto humanity without us noticing you were up to some evolutionary
shenanigans and until that day comes dolphins aren't going to be
able to build any weapons or cool aquatic re-breathers that allow
them to move around on land with those dumb little nubby fins
they've got now. So really they have no choice but to play ball
with us. (Was I the only one who suddenly had the quick image of a
dolphin hitting a volleyball back to a trainer at Sea World?)
I started off saying that the dolphin has
been badly undertapped but I think it's fair to say that I have
done a poor job of giving you examples to support that contention.
(Despite the difficulties in writing, I still pride myself on
holding my own feet to the fire when it comes to being accountable
for a good finished product. If I were a dolphin, I'm sure I would
hold my fluke to the fire, or the ocean equivalent [a hot thermal
vent], if I were dictating this to a human with a typewriter.) The
point being I owe you, good reader, a few examples of why we are
not making the most of our dolphin friends but for the life of me I
can't remember any of the dozens that had initially sprung to mind
when I started this story due to the fact that with all the Nervous
Nellies, handys and wonderings if a thermal vent is really the
ocean equivalent of fire I've completely lost my train of
Let me try one last time. I do hope that if
you take anything from this it's that writing is hard and you
should really think twice before deciding to do it yourself. Much
easier being a reader. Unless you want to argue something.
Fuck. (One of the small joys of writing is
profanity. Whenever you need a small break in the action throw in a
fuck. You might want to write that down.)
Did I mention tuna herding?
I know the army use to strap things to their
head and have them retrieve items in the water like lost torpedoes.
(I would be remiss in not mentioning the scene in the 1966 version
of Batman where a brave dolphin throws himself in the path of a
torpedo fired by the Joker and intended for Batman and Robin who at
the time are helplessly tied to a floating buoy. Next thing you
know they are safely roaring away from the dust-up in their Batboat
so we are left to assume that other dolphins must have arrived on
the scene and overcome their considerable lack of useful appendages
and somehow untied them. If you ever want to teach the dolphins how
fucked up our culture has become in the last 50 years, just show
them our portrayal of the Joker in 1966, the one as played by Jack
Nicholson in 1989 and then the Heath Ledger one in 2008. Our
evolving view of 'villains' will make them glad they stayed in the
So we have tuna herding and strapping things
to their head so they can find our lost torpedoes. And the talking
to other fish thing. That's a pretty convincing argument, you have
to admit. I introduced the topic, supported my initial proposition
and now I'm barreling towards a conclusion. All in all, I'd say
that was five minutes well spent.
Is it all in all or all and
all? And why would I use the word dust-up in the one environment
where there was literally no dust? I should have gone brouhaha or
No wonder dolphins don't write.
That Was Now, This Is Then
Watching him talk was almost mesmerizing, the
way his words came in short high-pitched bursts while his hands
slid along the top and back of the chair seemingly oblivious to the
conversation. I say conversation in only the loosest sense of the
word as he never lifted his eyes or acknowledged the person
listening in any way. He simply spoke as if talking to himself
while his little fingers explored every nook and cranny of the
antique chair. These days instead of calling a kid "quirky" they
seem to feel the need to label him as having Attention Deficit
Disorder or mild autism or whatever the diagnosis-of-the-month
happened to be, but whenever you were alone with him you always
somehow felt he was the brightest person in the room ... despite
the fact that sometimes he would leave that room mid-sentence,
completely oblivious to the fact that you were listening.
His mother was a piece of ass even though she
was well into her thirties. She wasn't just cute, she was a piece
of ass. Take that however you want but there was no denying it. She
had that exotic look that only South American women can possess.
Her husband, his father, had cut out before he was born and there
was no lack of suitors to replace him but she felt it best if she
just focused on her son. Behind her back many people whispered that
it was the lack of a strong male role model that was to blame for
his effeminate mannerisms and the way he walked on his toes all the
time. She whispered back many times that a strong male was the one
that abandoned them both, so the boy had all the modeling he needed
and she would take it from there.
His mother is a pharmaceutical sales rep and
that is how I got to know him. I had known him since he was
born but I only got to know him the week I was asked to look
after him at his house while his Mother went to a training seminar
in Phoenix. When she left, he was surprisingly emotional about her
departure but resumed work on his Lego castle moments later
seemingly without a care in the world. He talked to himself nonstop
even as I did my best to interact with him. Eventually, I gave up
and just sat and watched him float from one activity to the next.
Although he might have been the most uncoordinated and
athletically-challenged kid on the planet I offered to take him on
a hike and play catch and such anyway but he was far too busy
drawing or building or reading books out loud to himself. Often
times, when he didn't understand something he was reading, he would
stop and explain it to himself.
His mother never warned me about his bedroom
though; I had to muddle through that experience for myself. The
door to his room had the number 571 written on it, when you walked
in the air conditioner was blowing out arctic-cold air, and his bed
consisted of nothing more than what appeared to be a few seat
cushions pushed together. I tried to ask why he didn't have a
normal bed but he just walked past me clutching his bedtime snack
of beef jerky and flavorless ice pops he had made himself by
putting Popsicle sticks in cups of water and then sticking them in
the freezer. The room had none of the toys and games I'd expected
to be piled up everywhere and was almost empty but for a few
clothes scattered on the ground, a model plane hanging in the
middle of the room and what I mistakenly called a football stuck in
a corner. When I walked over to touch it the boy yelled for me to
stop and that he hated rugby. I didn't bother to ask why he had the
ball in the first place.
Struggling for a conversation re-starter I
asked him if he had built the plane himself.
"That's a twin turboprop Fairchild
Although he technically didn't answer the
question I felt real progress had been made.
"It crashed Friday the 13th."
Well so much for progress. Not wanting to let
the opportunity for dialogue slip away I replied "Yeah, Friday the
13th is one unlucky day."
He seemed to nod his agreement as he arranged
the cushions together underneath him and then pulled a cover over
For the next few days the only time I felt
that he paid any attention to me was when I was putting him to bed.
Even when I made him his meals and we sat at the same table he was
miles away. It was only in the chill of his room each night that I
was able to actually share a few moments with him, fleeting as they
"Did you build that model plane yourself?" I
inquired, eager to see if he would take the bait.
"I died on that plane."
Suddenly, I missed the closeness we had
shared at the dinner table.
"You died on that plane? How did you die on
that plane?" but he was already under his cover and asleep.
The next night when we walked into the room
he said "I died on that plane when it crashed" without
A whole day had passed between his two
comments but I knew exactly what he was talking about. A whole day
of listening to his lilting voice, giggle and stutter and argue
with itself, while I kept myself amused with the TV and a good
book. Having experienced his room on previous nights I knew to
throw on my jacket before heading up the stairs to the cold that
Suddenly we were picking up where we left off
24 hours ago and jacket or no jacket a chill ran down my spine just
"How do you know you died? When was
He started to arrange the cushions but I
walked over and sat down on one to impede his progress. He seemed
nonplussed and simply walked over to the other side of the room
with his head down.
"After I died they ate me."
I got off the cushion.
The last night there was a part of me that
didn't even want to go into the room to put him to bed. I honestly
was waiting for him to look me in the eye and make some unnerving
comment that would haunt me for the rest of my life. I wasn't sure
if I was scared of him or simply felt bad for the kid, but I
hesitated to go into the room. I hadn't felt that way all day in
the comfort of being anywhere that wasn't his freezing cold bedroom
with the little plane hanging in it but now I had one last task to
perform and that was tucking him in.
"Well I hope you had fun this week. Your Mom
will be back tomorrow."
He walked over and got the ball from the
corner. He smiled and suddenly tossed it to me in an awkward heave
that looked so unpracticed and girly it made me wonder how he was
ever going to survive middle school let alone high school. I caught
it on the bounce but by the time I went to throw it back he was
already making his way to his makeshift bed.
"It's hard to be in 2 places at once."
I started to reply that staying with him at
his house wasn't hard at all but then it dawned on me that he
wasn't talking about me. Or even to me.
I walked over and gently put my hands on each
side of his face and tried to look directly into his eyes.
"Good night, little man."
His eyes met mine briefly and then moved off
to every other point on the ceiling above us.
"Buenas noches," he replied.
I thought about asking his Mom about why he
sleeps with his room so cold and why he sleeps on seat cushions
instead of a bed or why with all the weird behaviors he exhibits
the only medication he's on is one that treats altitude sickness,
but in the end every answer would only lead to another dozen
questions so when she arrived back home I kept them all to myself.
She's no doubt a good Mom and he's a great kid so after only a week
of interacting with him I should keep my opinions to myself.
Not every kid is in need of rescue.
Favorite Facebook Status updates:
There are times when I need to come up with the
perfect sentence or phrase but the words behave like the Coyote
chasing the Roadrunner.
A rodeo is really nothing more than a bunch of people
watching other people in cowboy hats being cruel to horses and
bulls. In a perfect world every rider would be thrown off and
trampled to death.
You know that sound of a plate bring dropped in a
restaurant? The loud crash and everyone swiveling their head to see
which waitress is going to be fired. It's such a distinctive noise.
Wouldn't it be great if that was the sound girls made when they
took a crap? No matter how loud the music is in the bathroom
everyone in the house is going to hear it. Even when you're
watching TV with the volume up. "Oh, Beth is taking a dump
A moment of clarity: Every time I start to get
offended that nobody really cares what I have to say I remind
myself that I really don't care about what anyone else has to
Have you ever stepped into the shower to find a
mosquito trapped in there with you? You immediately get that "only
one of us is coming out of here alive" feeling followed by a few
minutes of splashing water at it until it finally falls and gets
sucked down the drain. As it is falling, however briefly it may be,
don't you hear that whining plummeting sound that fighter planes
use to make in WW II when they got hit and crashed? I'm actually
surprised when I don't see a little smoke and flames coming out of
it just before it hits the ground.
(first appeared as a spoken word story on www.thetripodcat.com)
Did you know that if you throw a snowball
against a wall it will leave a mark that looks identical to your
hand? Obviously, the size of the splatter and subsequent handprint
will be relative to the distance that the snowball traveled before
impact but it will always leave 4 identifiable fingers and a thumb
with a few superfluous bits of icy wetness clinging nearby.
What's more, due to the fascinating nature of
snow crystals and their hexagonal symmetry the snow clinging to the
wall will actually contain your fingerprints. You would have to
have a machine that could put the snowball back together perfectly
before you could get the print but it's still an interesting fact
and might cause you some concern if the snowball you threw didn't
actually hit a wall but instead flew off course and hit a small
child on a toboggan in the head and caused them to swerve into a
cement mixer traveling at a high rate of speed on a nearby icy
road. Stuck to the bloody mangled wooly cap would be all the
evidence the authorities would need to put you away for a long
Not really. I just made all that stuff
The question is whether or not you believed
me even for a moment. Doubtlessly you've thrown your share of
snowballs and seen them explode into watery Rorschach smudges
against countless walls and such, but I wonder if for a minute you
thought about it and it actually kind of made sense why a snowball
thrown by a hand would leave a hand-shaped spot on a wall. If
you're smart enough to manipulate logic and math to the point where
you can make obvious crap sound plausible then you have to
reconsider your definition of smart, don't you?
As far as the science involved with water
molecules, crystalline lattices and six-fold symmetry I'm sure you
were just happy to plow right through any actual explanations and
get any references to physics behind you. Had I started in about
how snow crystals tend to form simpler shapes when the
supersaturation (humidity) is low as opposed to more complex shapes
at higher humidity (had I mentioned supersaturation again I fear
you would have abandoned this story entirely) then I could have
probably told you that the snowball not only carried your
fingerprints but your phone number and credit score as well and you
would have believed me just to get past it quickly.
Maybe science is throwing us a bone by making
a snowball explode into a dripping ambiguous design as opposed to
some cool quantum anomaly. What could be more fun than a smear that
lets you see whatever you want in it? I will admit that the
post-collision snowball lacks the bilateral symmetry of your
standard Rorschach inkblot but you get the general idea.
Or do you? Perhaps the mere mention of the
word symmetry in the last sentence tipped you off that we were once
again going to plunge into the verbiage of academia and you're
bracing yourself for the blizzard of big words sure to follow. Sort
of a like a big freezing snowball right smack to the brain.
You would think that a guy who came up with a
famous psychological test would be nerdy and unattractive but
Hermann Rorschach was a dead ringer for Brad Pitt. How he had time
to fiddle around with inkblots when he could have been out starring
in movies and banging chicks, I have no idea. Perhaps his good
looks were the reason his inkblot tests didn't catch on until he
sold them to someone who was nerdy and unattractive like Hans
Huber. For this reason, Huber is widely considered the Ray Kroc of
Not really. I mean he could be but I just
made that up so it's probably not the case. I wasn't lying about
Hermann looking a lot like Brad though.
The word crock, as in "someone is feeding you
a crock of shit", actually comes from the screw job given to the
McDonald brothers by Ray Kroc.
No, not really. Crock means an earthenware
vessel and its meaning predates Ray Kroc by thousands of years and
before you get any bright ideas about the term "crock pot" it also
came about before ol' Ray McFucked the burger brothers. Obviously,
otherwise it would be a "Kroc pot" first of all and second of all,
who cooks burgers in a crock pot?
I'm not sure why you need bilaterally
symmetrical inkblots in the first place. A not-bilateral-at-all
snowball thrown against a black wall would work just as well. Truth
is if you want to learn about a subject’s motivations, perceptions,
cognitive operations and response tendencies, all you have to do is
write a dumb short story and see what they read into it.
I think having a pet is a great way for
children to learn about responsibility and commitment. The first
thing you can teach them is that if they buy a goldfish there is no
point in giving it a name. None whatsoever, and if they do they are
stupid. Make this point by yelling various names at the fish in the
bowl and then pointing out the complete lack of attention the
goldfish gives you. Sometimes your young son or daughter will point
out that even though fish don't have ears, they feel sound waves as
vibrations and that is why you should never tap on their tank.
You'll want to nip this sort of insurrection right in bud. I would
suggest tapping forcefully on the goldfish's bowl with a ball peen
hammer until such a time as the child is required to get a large
towel to soak up the water pouring out all over the floor and
something to hold the fish that is now flopping around on the
carpeting. You don't want to waste a valuable teaching moment, so
make sure and reinforce the point that it's a fucking fish so it
doesn't need a name.
You might try and do the same thing with the
old people I see at the park sometimes. I approached one of these
geezers who spent every afternoon feeding pigeons and was treated
to the following information: "The big one over there is named
Grey Boy." I rubbed my chin briefly with a quizzical look on
my face and then offered "No he's not. He's a fucking pigeon." I
thought for a moment he was pulling my leg, a man of his years
giving a bird a name but it quickly became clear that he was dead
serious. He looked all offended. Trying to explain myself a little
further I said, "You might as well believe that he's named you
Sad Fuck and every afternoon he leaves his winged buddies
with a wave of his wing and tells them he's off to hang out with
Sad Fuck." I also explained that sitting in a park talking
to birds is exactly the kind of behavior that will get someone of
his advancing years an opportunity to try to convince the guards
that your pal Grey Boy was able to track you down at the
local nursing home.
Do you see what I'm getting at? Dogs have
names, cats have names (although I have my suspicions about cats)
and maybe even monkeys have names. The point of a name is something
that when spoken makes the object of said name recognize you're
speaking to them and pay you some attention (which is why you can
see I have my doubts about cats). If you call a fish Carl
he/she is not going to know his/her name is Carl which makes
it a pointless exercise.
Now some of you may argue that we give deaf
people names and they can't hear shit. OK, I agree that they can't
hear it but other people can hear it and know who you're talking
about. As in the sentence "Somebody get Timmy out of the
fucking driveway before he gets run over, already!". If you're
alone with Timmy and want to call him Can't Hear Shit
(sounds like a good Indian name to me) then feel free. Just watch
out in case ol' Can't Hear Shit can read lips. Some of them
are sneaky like that.
Here's my point. You can't just go around
giving animals names because next thing you know you're giving
inanimate objects names and then we'll never know who the crazy
people are so we can lock them away. A name is a big deal and the
more you use it inappropriately the less value it has. Why do you
think you're helpless against a demon unless you figure out his
name? Once you know his name you have him by the metaphysical
balls. I'm not even sure voodoo works unless you know the victim’s
name. I could be wrong about that, maybe you just need a lock of
hair or a semen sample or something.
But I digress.
A name means something. In the old days you
were named after a physical feature, a family tradition or what you
did for a living. It was important stuff. Now you have kids naming
their fish after their Grandfather Carl. Is that really what the
kid thinks of his Grandfather? That he was a mindless, limbless,
cold-blooded aquatic vertebrate? Now if he secretly hated the man
then it might be ok to name the fish Carl under the one
condition that he immediately goes out and buys a large piranha to
consume Carl as he cheers it on. If he then names the
piranha though, we're back to the ball peen hammer solution. Just
watch out the kid doesn't lose a finger putting the piranha in a
The water gets a bit muddy when you start to
give people nicknames they don't understand or give your own body
parts names. In the case of the former I'm not going to allow it
unless the person on the receiving end of the nickname clearly
understands the reference and agrees to respond to it. In the
latter case I will allow it as long as you use your real name first
to identify it, i.e., Brian Catani's Donkster.
As you can see, I take names very seriously.
That's the truth or my name isn't Lance Manion.
A Mining Life
If I'm remembering my family history
correctly my great-great-great Grandfather was a prospector. For a
while anyway. He went out to California back in 1851 to try his
luck as a panhandler. Pan in hand he joined the ranks of the
"forty-niners" and spent a whole year sifting through riverbeds for
gold but it seems that he was a complete bust at it. This ended up
being not such a bad thing because he then opened a brothel that
ended up delivering more gold than he could have ever found panning
in a stream. He died a wealthy man, but apparently the prospector
bug ran in the family because his son took his fortune and sunk it
all into a silver mine down the road a bit in Panamint in 1875.
Apparently success in the precious metals industry was not in the
cards for him either as the following year the entire town was
destroyed in a flash flood. Luckily he was out visiting relatives
in Colorado at the time and was fully insured so the whole thing
ended up being a push. Now his son, sick of California,
pulled up roots and headed to Texas in 1909 to try his hand in the
oil business. Speculators were pouring into the state to get in on
the petroleum boom but after drilling half a dozen dry holes with
no success he ended up giving up his dream of being an oil baron
and opened a bar near Spindletop and did quite well for
Here's an interesting fact completely
unrelated to my family tree. The bulls that they use in
bullfighting aren't just any run of the mill bulls but they are
actually bred on special farms (ganaderias). I did not know
Anyway, my Grandfather couldn't wait to get
out of Texas and so as soon as he was of legal age he struck out on
his own and headed out to Tennessee to open a pearl farm. He picked
what he thought would be a nice spot on the Tennessee River and
rustled up as many Washboard mussels as he could afford. While
other nearby farms prospered, his mussels were never up to the task
and he was forced to sell the land a few years later. At a
Apparently they select the bulls that they
use for bullfighting based on their ferocity, fighting skills and
intelligence. Young bulls are tested to see if they will provide
'sport' for the spectators. Only those that show the right stuff
are used for the corrida de toros. Sort of like how we
select Marines. Only the best and brightest.
My Dad, who hated the smell of mussels and
mud, once again fell prey to the lure of mining and headed back
west to Jeffrey City, Wyoming to search for uranium. His battles
with the indigenous peoples who were always at odds with uranium
mining got pretty heated but just as he was about to get permission
to start mining operations the price of uranium tanked and in 1984
he was forced to abandon the idea and instead bought a winning
lottery ticket. Even though I was still a kid at the time I can
remember the sound he made upon reading the numbers in the
It's funny, the bulls are competing to be
selected to go into an arena and be slaughtered. After the 'fight'
they are hauled out of the arena and sold by the pound in the
plaza de toros.
While my ancestry isn't exactly a cautionary
tale, you might suspect that I would avoid any type of speculation
in my career path but what can I say... it's in the genes. So after
graduating with a Bachelor of Engineering degree and a Masters in
Mineral Exploration I sunk my inheritance into a dilapidated coal
mine in West Virginia. My research had shown little in the way of
evidence that I could return it to prosperity but my gut was
telling me otherwise. And sure enough there was no coal there.
But what there was, was jerky and plenty of
it. I had hit the biggest vein of jerky in United States history.
Now it is a common misconception that jerky comes from meat but
that couldn't be further from the truth. Jerky comes from deep
underground, the product of the same forces that give us so many of
our precious metals. "Jerkification," the combination of
compaction, heat and time, transforms decaying plant parts and
animal corpses into the delicious taste treat we consume today.
Once word spread about my 'strike' the phones haven't stopped
ringing. The boys from Slim Jim, Oberto and Jack Links all want a
piece of me now.
Meanwhile back on the farm, the bulls that
didn't show much promise spend their days grazing and breeding
while the strongest head off to 'the show.' Obviously both groups
are unaware of this irony but I'm sure it has crossed the mind of a
few Marines as they hurl themselves into whatever fray their
superiors have picked out for them. I know it has crossed mine a
As I sit on the floor and read to my son I
have to wonder if he'll end up taking any of the stories I am
telling him about rocket ships and heroes and rare gems and bad
guys and asteroid mining to heart.
welcome to Bolivia
Here is the danger of asking someone if they
are ok. Sometimes they say no. Talk about a single word that brings
everything to a screeching halt. Or it should anyway. Being a
veteran of this answer I might screech a little but I know not to
halt. Halting is a very bad idea. In fact, you might say that the
utterance of that reply often brings me to a screeching gallop.
Can you blame me? Is there anything worse
than having a quick superficial question answered in such a way
that you're expected to clear your social calendar for the next
hour and listen to the problems of some nut job as if you can
actually do anything to help? "Sure Charlie, tell me all about your
dead Aunt and I'm sure I'll have her up and walking about in no
time!" you want to exclaim. No matter what you offer up they are
going to immediately counter that they already thought of that and
it is completely not going to help in any way at all.
Instead of scrambling to come up with another
solution my brain usually immediately wants to pass along the
following opinion; "well then you're fucked aren't you?" And the
whole time you can feel the minutes and hours of your life draining
away as they go on about whatever ill it is that has befallen
Here is the thing. If you ask anyone if they
are ok, and they answer truthfully, they are going to say no.
Nobody is ok. That's why we don't want to hear it! No matter what
their circumstance, if we look closely enough into their eyes we
can see a reflection of ourselves. Maybe that explains why I always
messed up that quote "the eyes are the windows to the soul" in my
head. I swear I thought it was "the eyes are the mirror to the
soul". Reading that back I can't help but feel stupid; obviously,
that makes no sense whatsoever. Well, no sense outside the point
that I was originally trying to make. In that context it suddenly
If we spend enough time with the hapless
creature that was rude enough to answer our innocent question
honestly then we realize that the only thing separating us from
whatever malady that is inflicting this poor bastard is timing.
Clint Eastwood has that great line in Unforgiven: "We all have it
And we all know it.
So why not answer their reply with sympathy,
you might ask. Now before I immediately become guilty of the very
same gainsay that I complained about at the end of the second
paragraph let me look at it a bit from your angle. I'm assuming
that you realize that sympathy won't actually help, but does that
fact actually make the offering up of said sympathy that much more
meaningful? Sort of like the emotional equivalent of Butch and
Sundance running out to meet the Bolivian army.
Hmmmm. Interesting point. But what is the end
result other than a few minutes of your life that you're not going
to get back? In fact, wasted time is soon to become everybody's
biggest reason to say they're not ok, so is it selfish to want a
little bang for your buck? Bottom line is it didn't seem to work
out so well for Butch and Sundance.
We all know the correct answer to the
question of "are you ok?" is yes. It's part of the social contract
we conscious entities have managed to hammer out amongst ourselves.
So next time someone asks you and you want to fall to your knees
with your hands outstretched and wail "No!" with all the angst you
can muster take a minute and think it over.
Nothing they are going to say will help. Keep
a tight grip on the wheel lest you remind them or yourself that we
all have it coming.
Dead Economists Society
When I was first asked to be a substitute
teacher at a prestigious boys’ school in Massachusetts, Economics
101 was to be my subject matter. I guess I was expecting a more
open-minded approach to learning than what was demonstrated during
my brief tenure there. Here's what happened, I have left nothing
out and I will let you be the judge.
Knowing I had only a week to improve the
lives of my young charges, I knew I had not a moment to lose so the
first thing I did was march them all out into a heavy rain and had
them walk around in a circle until they began to learn a little
something about the dangers of conformity - and the chill that can
be provided by a cold March downpour in Boston. As I walked back in
with my wet pupils some of the other instructors raised a few
eyebrows in my direction but I pretended not to notice. After
class, through chattering teeth, one of my students shared with me
that he might be interested in pursuing a marketing degree as
opposed to the economics degree that his father had planned out for
him. I simply advised that he let his heart dictate such decisions
and left it at that.
The following day I arranged for the class to
spend the hour kicking soccer balls while quoting famous
economists. You know the sort: "All the perplexities, confusion and
distress in America arise not from defects in their Constitution or
Confederation, nor from want of honor or virtue, so much as
downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit, and
circulation." And then the kid would wallop the ball, the sense of
wonder about economics filling his soul. "The trade of the petty
usurer is hated with most reason: it makes a profit from currency
itself, instead of making it from the process which currency was
meant to serve. Their common characteristic is obviously their
sordid avarice." With that the pupil lays into the ball and sprints
toward the common goal in a very exuberant and poignant fashion.
"Protectionism is a misnomer. The only people protected by tariffs,
quotas and trade restrictions are those engaged in uneconomic and
wasteful activity. Free trade is the only philosophy compatible
with international peace and prosperity." I think you get the drift
by now ... if only the boys had. They seemed to progressively lose
interest with every additional quotation. Whereas I'd imagined them
leaping and bounding about as they filled the net with ball after
ball and finally scooping me up in their enthusiasm and running
along with me in their clutches until their legs gave out, I saw
none of this anticipated behavior. Instead, after a final line from
Bill Bonner I was forced to herd them back inside and call the
whole thing a resounding failure.
Stronger measures were evidently in
The next day I chose the quietest boy in the
classroom and asked, "Please turn to the introduction of your book
Principles of Economics by Alfred Marshall, Ph.D."
Dutifully he flipped open his book and began to read
"To fully understand
economics, we must be fluent with the quantity of a good supplied
and the quantity of a good demanded. If, using a standard
graphical representation, we put price on the vertical axis and
quantity on the horizontal axis it is relatively simple to chart
the changes in the demand as the price" ... I stopped him
"Excrement. That's what I think of Mr.
Alfred Marshall." The boys all looked up as one at
me. I continued. "We're not laying pipe. We're talking about
economics. Now, I want you to rip out that page. Go on," I
encouraged "Rip out the entire page. You heard me. Rip it
The sounds of the textbook being savaged by
eager young hands had my blood coursing through my veins at a
"Gentlemen, tell you what.
Don't just tear out that page, tear out the entire introduction. I
want it gone. History. Be gone, Alfred Marshall! Keep
As the last few pages drifted slowly to the
floor beneath each desk I gestured for the boys to get up and
huddle around me.
"This is a battle. A war. And the casualties
could be your hearts and souls. Armies of academics going forward,
measuring consumption and production." I brought them closer, my
face only inches away from theirs. "We don't study economics
because we think it's cute, we study economics because we are
members of a consumer culture. And the consumer culture is filled
with acquisitiveness. To quote John Kenneth Galbraith 'Economics is
extremely useful as a form of employment for economists.’" Only my
future marketing major seemed to understand. After class he
informed me that he approached his Dad about switching his focus to
marketing and away from economics and was told in no uncertain
terms that he'd be doing no such thing. He was very disheartened by
The following day I brought the boys out into
the hall to look at some of the old pictures of former graduating
classes. Most of the time was spent laughing at the bad sideburns
and short gym shorts they chose to wear but as we were wrapping up
out little tour I had them gaze upon the Class of 1978.
"They're not that different from you, are
they? Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster.
They believe they're destined for great things, just like many of
you. Their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait
until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of
what they were capable? Because, you see, gentlemen, those boys are
now selling insurance, engaging in audits and designing new and
more absorbent toilet tissues. But if you listen real close, you
can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen.
Do you hear it?"
They leaned in expectantly.
"Caveat emptor." I whispered
At the start I told you I'd tell you
everything and let you be the judge. Actually, jury would have been
a better word. You see, upon hearing about the father that wasn't
going to let his son pursue his dreams of leaving economics behind
and plunging headlong into the marketing game I got so distraught
that I figured I would do the only humane thing left to do so I
broke into the student’s house later that night and shot him.
Sitting here in the quiet of my cell I can still here the tortured
cries of his Dad when he heard the shot and came and found him.
Such a senseless tragedy.
Now I have supplied my story and society at
large has demanded justice, I guess all there is left to do is for
you to make up your mind about right and wrong and hand down your
verdict. Before you reach any conclusions though, I ask you to
spend some time standing on your desk or table or bed and looking
at things from a different perspective. Then stand there awkwardly
as the music plays and then the scene fades to black.
hippest blog ever!
Now someone reading a blog might find it odd
that the author of that blog would mention the fact that his
prostate is swollen to the size of an engorged, orange-flesh
honeydew. The reader might find that this isn’t ‘hip' enough for
them. To this end I feel I must offer two important points to
counter this perception.
First, what is not widely know is that
orange-flesh honeydews are also know as temptation melons. Is there
anything more hip than temptation?
I didn’t think so.
And, second, if you are going to write a blog
you have to be able to write. Anyone can describe an enlarged
prostate. Your novice blogger might compare it to a ‘melon.’
Strictly amateur hour. I went with orange-flesh honeydew and I
stand behind that decision. What’s more, to make it even more hip I
added engorged. There’s a word that screams party!
So what’s not hip about an enlarged
I’ll tell you.
But make sure you don’t plan on eating for a
So you’d think, based on Bernoulli’s
Principle, that the more swollen my prostate got, the narrower my
urethra would get and the faster my flow of urine would be.
Assuming that I was standing and the viscosity of my urine remained
a constant, that’s what I thought as well.
Totally wrong. Month after month I’ve seen it
start to slow down. I even ran the numbers, assuming that the
length of my tubing (h = 1m) was about 3 feet (too much?) and my
penis hole was about 1 cm (too much?)… (A = pi*R^2 = pi/4 cm^2 =
7.8E-5 m^2 = 0.000078 m^2.) g = 9.8 m/s^2 so v = sqrt (2*9.8
m/s^2*1m) = 4.43 m/s. Finally Q = Av = 7.8E-5 m^2*4.43 m/s =
3.45E-4 m^3/s = 345 cm^3/s. You can see that this clearly supports
my reasoning on the topic of peeing pressure! And yet my flow is
all over the fucking place.
Not only does this means that I am suddenly
that guy in the Flomax commercials, getting up in the middle of
night with that irritated look on my face, but there is an even
darker side to it.
Something you don’t see in the
Something you could never see in the
commercials for it is that shocking.
It was only a fluke that I even saw it. I was
starting my typical day in the bathroom, dealing with my weak
stream and all when the light shone through the window at exactly
the right angle to see the problem. After showering, I immediately
ran to my chalkboard to see if I could figure out what I had just
And there it was.
So clear a child prodigy could have seen
I wasn’t taking into account the turbulence
created by my internal swelling! Add the surface-tension of your
standard depth toilet bowl and there it was explained without a
shadow of a doubt.
Every time I was pissing I was creating an
almost imperceptible cascade of urine particles splashing back up
on my bare legs. Instead of a strong steady torrent of piss, which
keeps the splatter effect to a minimum, I was dripping and
dribbling my way to a post-piss urine gloss on my leg hairs that
rivaled the effect of a ride on Splash Mountain. If the sun hadn’t
struck the piss-mist in just the right way I would have never
noticed it at all.
Now the unwanted leg luster is all I can
But, rate of urine discharge aside, tell me
that pissing on myself every day isn’t fucking hip. I bet even
Tucker Max doesn’t piss on himself as much as I do.
The only solutions to my problem, short of
actually taking Flomax and becoming one of them, is to increase the
size of my pee hole. Math tells us that doubling the size of the
hole will increase the flow rate by 16 times (assuming, of course,
that we keep the depth of the toilet water constant)!
You’re going to sit there and tell me that
you’ve ever read a blog that is more hip than a writer explaining
why he has to double the size of his pee hole?!
Ready for the big finish? The prostate gland
stores and secretes a fluid that makes up part of the seminal fluid
that constitutes semen. It also has some muscles in it that help to
expel the fluid during ejaculation.
A ghost isn't as scary after you hear one fart. Sort
of humanizes them.
When I'm done speaking you can be sure I've said a
You hear this advice all the time; just be yourself.
Easy for them to say. Have you seen myself?
If we're honest about it most of our headstones would
read 'DIDN'T FUCK ENOUGH.'
Darryl the Duck
When little Frankie was given the assignment
of taking home a duck egg and making sure it was kept warm and safe
over a weekend he took it very seriously. Both his parents and his
teacher were shocked at the attention he paid it and the great
lengths he went to ensure that it was returned to school the
following Monday not only in one piece but spotless. A mother tiger
doesn't dote on her cubs as much as Frankie looked after his egg.
Although unusual, for the policy is very clear on these matters,
the school actually allowed Frankie to take home the duckling after
it hatched due to the positive influence it seemed to have on him.
It was Frankie's first pet and that first night he went to bed
right next to the incubator just so his new friend wouldn't be
lonely. The next day he named his pet duck Darryl and the two of
them seemed inseparable.
If that isn't foreshadowing, I don't know
what is. You're not sure which direction this story is headed but
you're certain it's going to arrive there pretty quickly.
The next day Frankie was showing Darryl to
his friends when one of them accidently stepped on him. It was, of
course, an accident born from the excitement of young boys crowding
around a new pet and all parties felt terrible but as his friend's
foot came down on Darryl's head there was a slight but definitely
not inaudible crunching noise, despite the forgiving nature of the
grass beneath him, that seemed to come from the neighborhood of
Darryl's skull and would seem to play a noteworthy role in the
future of said duck. Frankie scooped him up and at first all seemed
to be well as Darryl seemed to shake it off like a trooper but
Frankie was immediately convinced that the certain twinkle that had
been in his pet's eye since he fought his way out of his eggshell
was now extinguished. A theory given more credence when later that
night Frankie left Darryl alone in the bathtub to have a little
swim only to return a few minutes later to find him upside down in
the water. Luckily a few pushes on the chest area had the duckling
spewing forth a modest quantity of water and spluttering and other
things ducks do when they have unexpectedly ventured back from the
Darryl had had quite the day.
After the chaos of resuscitation settled
down, Darryl seemed to have no interest in his food. The only thing
that Frankie could get him to eat was bread crumbs from the chicken
tenders he had offered up in desperation. Then Darryl fell asleep.
On his back. Frankie looked it up online and found that ducks don't
sleep on their back but there his duckling was reclined and out
like a light.
The next day Frankie thought fresh air should
be at the top of the menu and would do them both some good. Out
they ventured to a nearby field, bat and glove in hand, to enjoy
some sunshine and baseball. Frankie took great pains to position
Darryl far away from the action but as fate would have it the same
boy that had stepped on his head a day earlier hit a crazy foul
ball that hurtled with no delay straight at our unfortunate water
fowl. Where moments before stood a noble, albeit small, yellow duck
there was nothing but a few tiny feathers floating gracefully to
earth. To find the final resting place of the duck in question,
your eyes would have to follow the path of the baseball. Having
done that you would find a small pale lump about halfway between
the descending down and the baseball which had come to rest about
30 or so feet away. If you were to have said that the ball had
gotten all of Darryl you wouldn't be overstating it.
Frankie was aghast and the boy who had twice
in two days damaged the hero of our tale was inconsolable. As one
the boys sprinted to what they assumed would be the corpse of a
small duck, but instead found Darryl struggling to his feet. A
great cry arose and Darryl was hoisted up amongst loud cheers and
passed around and twice dropped as the boys eagerly praised his
The neighbor's cat got a hold of Darryl.
Frankie was looking high and low for his friend in his living room
when he happened to look outside and see him in the mouth of
Peaches, the Russian Blue who lived next door. I don't have to tell
you his reaction.
Well I guess technically speaking I do. I
should have said that you can probably guess his reaction, which
would have been much less confusing. Anyway, Frankie streaked
outside and chased Peaches up the largest tree in his front yard.
High up into the tree. Like tippy-top high. Standing at the right
angle and craning his neck in just the right way he thought he
could make out the outline of the cat amongst the assorted leaves
and limbs. Quickly doing what any boy would do in that situation,
he started to hurl rocks in the general direction of the furry
ducknapper until he saw one rock find its way to the target
whereupon Peaches let go of his prize with a screech and Frankie
watched Darryl tumble down the tree, careful to hit and ricochet
off of every large branch in his path, and then in a dazzling
display of hand-to-eye coordination the panicked boy was almost
able to catch him before he hit the ground.
This time there were at least three distinct
crunching noises. One of which could be written off as the sound a
duck makes when it lands half on an acorn but the other two were
definitely causes for concern. Frankie scooped up his pet and gazed
lovingly into his eyes. Darryl on the other hand would have given
him a "Are you fucking kidding me? Is every day going to be like
this?" look if he had been conscious.
Frankie was now the proud owner of a duck
that sunk. He found this out as he washed him off and his pet once
again joined him in the territory of the awake and aware. Darryl
looked around, shook his little wings and then walked off his
owner's hand and promptly sunk to the bottom of the tub.
Here's the thing, at this point in the story
I am really torn about whether to end it with Darryl having a
riding mower pass over him only to waddle away unscathed and
triumphant or having him, through some hilarious happenstance, ride
a skateboard into a sewer grate and drop down to a certain fate of
being eaten by either a rat or a snake. Indecision is always a red
flag for us professional writers and I now recognize a fatal flaw
in the storytelling, which is why I am not sure how to wrap it
The perspective was all wrong. As cute as
this saga might be, exactly how cute depending (as is usually the
case with these things) on your imagination, it absolutely should
have been written from the duck’s point of view. A third person
account was both predictable and beneath a professional writer such
as myself. Now I realize that this revelation means having to start
it all over again and rewrite it and that's just not going to
happen so it's now up to you to decide whether or not to put in the
necessary time and energy to restart it from the beginning but from
a duck-centric viewpoint and fill in the necessary gaps or just
curse me loudly for wasting your time and move on.
I can't really complain if you abandon it but
I would be interested to know which ending you chose left to your
Try it, you'll probably be sorry.
It wasn't until I was watching Old
School for the 100th time that it hit me what true courage was.
There was a scene where Frank The Tank, masterfully portrayed by
Will Ferrell, walks out onto his porch holding a blow-up doll and
asks his friends which outfit he should adorn her with; nurse or
cheerleader. There was no shame, there was no embarrassment … just
a man asking advice on his sex toy. That's when it really sank
I've never had sex with a doll. I've never
even considered it. Why? Because I could never buy one. I remember
in high school nearly passing out on my way to the counter with
condoms. Those 30 feet seemed like a mile. A mile of passing by
everybody I knew and anyone who had ever met my parents. I'm not
sure why there wasn't any pride involved, surely by buying condoms
I was telling the world that I was getting some, right? But, no.
Because it involved sex it was one of the most difficult purchases
I would ever have to make. I can't imagine walking into an adult
bookstore, looking through their selection of products, and then
tucking an inflatable doll under my arms and striding towards the
counter. It is so far beyond my comprehension it's like imaging
landing a jetliner, doing open-heart surgery or enjoying a Paris
Hilton interview. My few trips into adult bookstores were spent
watching the other people in the adult bookstore and avoiding them
watching me in the adult bookstore. The last thing I was going to
do is look at any of the magazines and risk getting an erection in
Apparently, I'm a prude. Perhaps sex
with an inflatable doll is awesome and I've been missing out on a
whole dimension of satisfaction. It's time to do some homework. Now
keep in mind that because I Googled 'sex toys' I'm going to have to
destroy my computer hard drive and switch internet service
providers to cover my tracks when I'm done here. Anyone who thinks
that the government isn't tracking every perv that visits these
websites is fooling themselves! If I had time I would have driven
down to the library to do this but I'm afraid little 9 year old
Sally would walk up behind me as I was scrolling through and I'd
end up having to explain myself to the police … again.
OK, so far so good. I've pulled the blinds,
unplugged the phone and locked all the doors. Hmmm … a vibrating
anus. You don't say. Rotating mouth action. Apparently there have
been some major breakthroughs in the material they use as well.
"Senso" … soft AND stretchy! Here's one that has blonde horse hair,
and I was worried about them not being realistic! Wait just a sec,
they have some with painted fingernails. Real girls have painted
fingernails! I'm almost sold. Now here is one with an air pump, it
doesn't really go into why, but I'm intrigued. For those with a
mechanical fetish there's one that comes with its own repair kit.
That will save an embarrassing trip to hardware store! Hold on,
hold everything … now I'm seeing something about a breakthrough
called "cyber-skin" that feels even more like the real thing.
Then I found her. The Fatty Patty Doll. Large
and in charge. Three colossal love holes. 4 feet 9 inches tall. 55
inch chest and a whopping 39 inch waist. Connected pouch-type
vagina. Self esteem sold separately, just like college. The best
part? They will mail her right to me. There's no need to make the
'walk of shame' into the adult bookstore!
I hate to admit it, especially after you've
been so patient reading all this, but I don't think even if I had
it with me right now I could bring myself to use it. Really. Maybe
I AM a prude but I'm not sure I could bring myself to have sex with
a doll. Even if I was alone I think I'd be too self-conscious. It
might feel great and I may even be able to close my eyes and
pretend to some degree, but I think that if I did achieve 'lift
off' with my rubber partner that I would then have to blow my own
head off as opposed to live the rest of my life knowing I mounted
something that required batteries (and then had to clean it
off/up/out). Is that wrong? What happens in the near future when
there are sexy robots that appear completely realistic? Will I miss
out on the fun because of some strange psychological hang-up?
Probably, but am I the only one that sees the potential problems
that come with 'rotating mouth action'? Somehow that screams
embarrassing trip the emergency room or at least the risk of severe
abrasions where I'd least like to receive severe abrasions.
All I know is that soon Virtual Slut 2050 is
around the corner and when that day comes Frank The Tank will be
the first in line at Radio Shack to buy one. THAT, my friends, is
Weighing in at 2 and a half ounces!
Gary would be the first to admit that he was
a little bit too competitive for his own good. Given the fact that
he was a former professional wrestler you would, of course, jump to
the conclusion that this story will involve wrestling. It does not.
But just to clarify, he had earned money while wrestling but had
never made it to the big time. He spent years wrestling on the
underground circuit; small auditoriums, gyms and bars mostly.
Despite all the stitches and concussions he was never asked to
wrestle at the next level. He finally retired from the 'sport' to
focus on his 'career' at the recycling plant. If he should ever
read this he will be undecided about what set of apostrophes pisses
him off more.
But as I said, this story does not involve
But it does involve the same competitive
nature that he showed in the ring.
He was slouched across his 3-piece sectional
at home with his enormous body that clearly could have used a
4-piece, watching TV. Flipping through the channels he found a
nature program and settled in for a bit of wholesome and
enlightening programming. He had a snack and a drink and all was
well with the world.
Until the narrator just couldn't stop going
on and on about the Star-Nosed Mole. At first Gary watched
fascinated as the program showed the ugly little guy burrowing away
with his face that looked like his ass. Details about his digging
prowess were shared and time and again the 22 pink appendages that
make up his nose were mentioned and praised. The finger-like
tentacles at the end of the snout are covered with approximately
25,000 tiny touch receptors known as Eimer’s organs, which are used
to identify food. The mole can touch 13 separate areas of the
ground every second with these bad boys and locate and consume 8
separate prey items in under 2 seconds.
"You're still a revolting rodent," Gary said
between handfuls of Ritz Bits Peanut Butter crackers.
It showed the mole walking around looking for
worms. All of a sudden his nose would sniff one out and then he'd
grab the hapless worm who thought he was safely hidden in the soil
and start chowing down.
Maybe it was because his own box of crackers
was getting low and he didn't want to get up and get another or
maybe it was because the narrator had pointed out that the
'fingers' of the Star-Nose were 6 times as sensitive as a the human
hand, but whatever it was Gary had had enough.
He closed his eyes and started to feel
through what was left of the crackers at the bottom of the box to
find the ones that still had 2 crackers with peanut butter between
them. He hated to eat just a single plain cracker and if he had a
single that was covered in peanut butter the whole
cracker-to-peanut-butter ration was thrown off. His fingers, thick
as they were, danced through the assorted crackers and every few
seconds identified an intact cracker and brought it quickly to his
For some reason this filled him with a great
amount of pride.
The narrator was explaining all about Theodor
Eimer, the German zoologist who first described these incredible
tentacles in 1871. Just as Gary was about to relax he heard the
voice on TV veer away suddenly from Teddy and return to the
business of extolling the virtues of the Star-Nose's nose.
Apparently researchers have found that after touching a small piece
of food it takes them only 230 milliseconds to identify it as
edible and eat it.
Gary knew that the box at his side contained
no more whole cracker sandwiches. What was left was only the single
crackers, some with peanut butter and some without. He wondered
why, if the mole was so wonderful, nobody knew about them and the
mole was relegated to some lame nature program on a channel nobody
He closed his eyes and plunged his hand back
into the box, trying to feel each cracker to identify if it held
peanut butter on one side or was simply sitting in the box peanut
butter-less. Carefully he found one of each and made his own peanut
butter sandwich. Nothing else existed except his fingers and the
crackers and this task. He was blind and hungry and soon it came
easier for him. Eventually the box was completely empty with not a
single cracker left unaccounted for.
"I could have been a mole," he said with some
Because I know the ending of this story, I
can tell you now it's not going to be as funny as I thought it
might be as I was living it out. At the beginning I was carried
away with the possibilities as they unfolded because at the
beginning I was an idiot. Oblivious to the existential
ramifications of a seemingly holistic and innocent act of high
spirits and a can-do attitude.
I'll try to start at the top but you'll
forgive me if I jump around a bit. Honestly, I'm not even sure how
I'm going to make it to the end because in my head this is one of
those stories that is far too true to end. I really do try to be
honest when I'm writing and sometimes it ends up funny and other
times it sucks and I can't help but feel if I stay within the
stifling confines of honesty that this one might suck a lot.
I'll skip the back-story about how I ended up
at a storage auction because otherwise this short story will end up
a novel. Actually, if I were ever to have the urge to sit and bang
out a 400 page book I think this would be as good a story as I'm
going to get, but I can't be bothered so I'll just skip ahead to
the good parts.
I was at a storage auction. For those that
don't know, these are held when someone stops paying for their
rental space/locker so the storage facility puts out a public
notice and a bunch of vultures who own secondhand shops and thrift
stores swarm in and bid on the contents. There are a bunch of
reality shows out now that romanticize the proceedings but without
the editing and dramatic music it's really quite a depressing
collection of people blindly bidding on stacks of dusty boxes in
the hope that buried somewhere within them is something worth
selling. Of course, my friend didn't pitch the idea of attending in
quite this way so I agreed to go and check it out.
I bought a locker.
The last one of the day. I was the last
bidder and then silence. I don't know why but I just shot my hand
up and won the damn thing. At the time it seemed hysterical. We
both had driven there in minivans so we were actually able to load
all of the boxes into them and head back to my place for the big
reveal. I have to admit I was a bit giddy at what might lurk within
the various boxes and unusually large number of duffel bags. Who
owns 10 large duffel bags?
As I write this you can probably tell my tone
has improved and you're waiting for some funny stuff to unfold as a
result of the purchase of said contents of the storage locker. I
feel it as well because I'm forgetting for a moment how this ends
and remembering how I got all caught up in the excitement of
When I got home my friend and I unloaded all
of the boxes and bags onto the front lawn and decided to go through
everything thoroughly just like they do on the TV shows. We joked
about the possibility of the bags containing severed heads or
cocaine and we circled them for a few minutes, almost hesitant
Over the next 5 hours we found out that these
were the belongings of a guy named Dennis. He had died 4 months
beforehand and that explained why the storage locker had been up
for auction in the first place. We found out he died from Google,
after we learned every damn thing about him which obviously
included his name and where he was from. Here is where funny and
sucks parted ways. He had been 57 when he passed away, he was
somewhat mentally handicapped and spent years working at a grocery
store. We knew this because he had kept his time cards and the hat
he had worn to work. He had been married for awhile but his wife
had left him. We found this out reading the painful letters and
cards he had kept. He had spent the last years of his life in a
He was so fucking human it was beautiful,
there were multiple boxes filled with a mix of bibles and various
religious material sitting right on top of a breathtaking
collection of hardcore porn. For awhile when we were separating
things into what we were going to throw out and what we were going
to keep we actually put them in different bags but then agreed that
it was much more appropriate to throw them out together. They had
been partners for years so it seemed cruel to make them split up at
the very end.
It was a heartbreaking five hours. Going
through all that was left of somebody on this earth was brutal.
Dennis even provided us with a moment right out of the movie
Se7en when we found notebook after notepad filled with lists
of everything that had appeared on QVC for weeks at a time. Every
item and every price. His handwriting was neat and deliberate and
to think of him sitting in front of a TV writing down this stuff
for what must have been months was so creepy that there was
absolutely nothing funny about it.
I'm not sure how the people in the TV shows
do it. For the record, Dennis had an amazing collection of old
records and Elvis memorabilia that when we sell it will make us
literally thousands of dollars. As I only paid $200 for the locker
you'd think this would fill me with an unquenchable enthusiasm for
going and buying another locker, but I swear if I could do it all
again I would have kept my hand down and just walked away
empty-handed. Throwing out the clothes and toiletries and bank
statements and framed pictures and unbelievably large number of
calculators and wallets (apparently it must have been hard to find
that special gift for Dennis) belonging to somebody you never met
and you know you'll never meet is hard. Looking out at the end of
your driveway and seeing it all waiting to be picked up by the
garbage men the next morning is brutal.
Hooking up the old VCR wasn't too difficult.
Deciding to watch a video we found of his 40th birthday party
seemed only natural, a nice way to pay our respects. Watching the
video of his 40th birthday party was surreal and despite the
nervous laughter as the characters that made up his life were
introduced one by one we both felt the knot in our stomachs
forming. We watched every minute, a whole fucking hour of it
because to turn it off somehow seemed unconscionable.
We booed and hissed when his fat whore of a
wife appeared with him, we knew how it would turn out, although at
the time Dennis himself was blissfully unaware, but we also choked
up when they kissed as Barry Manilow sang Mandy in the
This isn't the first time I've found it
difficult to capture something with words but in this case you
should be glad. I almost want this story to be as awkward and
clumsy as possible to spare you from actually feeling some of the
shit that we felt. Better to think I suck as a writer than view
yourself, however briefly, as nothing more than a bunch of boxes
and bad videotapes waiting to be tossed after being picked through
by either loved ones or strangers or people that might be both. I
mean, how many people knew Dennis kept his porn with his bible
At the end of the video Dennis was presented
with a birthday cake that was in the shape of a girl wearing a
bikini. The candles on her breasts served as flaming nipples and
were the kind that after you blew them out they lit up again so as
his family pressed around him he hammed it up for the camera trying
unsuccessfully to extinguish them. He then cut the first piece of
cake and chose to take the slice from out between the cake's wide
open legs which left a giant inappropriate gash oozing some sort of
red filling that the children took no notice of but had us smiling
despite ourselves. That was so Dennis.
I now know 100% that there are no such things
as ghosts. I always believed it, but I now have proof because if
such things existed there would be no way in this world or the next
that I wouldn't have been awaken in the depths of night by a
confused or even angry apparition wondering why I was throwing all
of his stuff away. No visitation. Except for the rumbling of the
garbage truck outside hauling away all that remains of Dennis to
Whenever I'm in an old building or one that
has fallen into premature disrepair my eyes always seem to linger
on the cracked paint on the ceiling. That's like the clincher, the
one thing that defines whether or not the room has been taken care
of or not. A simple stain on the carpet can be explained away easy
enough but when you glance up and see peeling paint it's a dead
giveaway. Cracking paint is the 'giant cobwebs on the staircase of
the haunted mansion' of ordinary buildings.
I saw the first crack in the paint of my
bedroom ceiling today. It was quite traumatic actually. Not only
did it mean I had to buy a new can of paint and a roller but it
signaled something else.
My ceiling had quit trying.
They say a chain is only as strong as its
weakest link and now I knew where my ceiling’s weakest link was. I
like to imagine that all of the paint was doing its best to stay
connected, like some titanium dioxide hands-across-America thing,
when suddenly two little pair of hands came apart. And all the
other hands gasped and tried to internalize the implications of
this letting-go-of-hands. Did they suddenly envision the inevitable
flaking to come or did they redouble their efforts not to let go of
the hands on either side of them?
Guess that depends on the brand of paint I
used to begin with.
Was that little patch of paint disgruntled or
was there some good reason that it could no longer dutifully cling
to the ceiling? I started to blame myself. Did I miss a small
bubble when I first applied the paint? Could it be that this whole
time that little spot of paint was heroically holding on,
desperately fighting gravity and perhaps a tiny bit of dirt or a
human eyelash that somehow got slapped up there with the rest of
the paint? Or did I just get a hold of a can of paint that had a
little quit in it?
If you look at the dimensions of a can of
paint and then figure out how large an area you can paint with it
you realize that paint is a damn flexible substance. It may look
all square in the can but in the end it is the Mister Fantastic of
home improvement materials. The fact that most of you didn't
understand that I was referencing a character from the Fantastic
Four goes a long way in explaining why there are no comic books
at Home Depot. That's a shame, those hard working men in the tool
belts deserve a little whimsy now and then.
I know what you're saying, you're saying
"perhaps that little spot of paint was trying to give the ceiling
that 'crackle' look that's all the rage these days."
I'm surprised at you. I've never known you to
If that little spot of paint had wanted to
achieve that he would have surely discussed it with all the other
paint on the ceiling before taking it upon itself to start
cracking. That's just common sense.
What's that? You want me to believe that in
the case of ceiling paint conforming isn't as easy as it seems?
Listen, I realize that it must be harder to
cling to a ceiling upside down and all than it is to sit on a wall
but that's the job and that little spot of paint knew what it was
getting itself into when it signed up. Obviously you just want to
make excuses. If this was your ceiling that was cracking, I'm sure
you'd be singing a different tune.
I have better things to do than sit here and
type good reasons why my ceiling paint is starting to peel. Fixing
the problem, unfortunately for the small spot of paint, isn't one
You would think in the increasingly
politically correct world we live in someone over at the United
Nations could saunter over to Niger's representative, Boubacar
Boureima, and ask what the fuck is up with his country’s name.
Tradition is all well and good but does he
know how many white geography teachers he's freaking out in the
United States? I don't even think my teacher in high school
mentioned Africa at all for fear he'd have to pronounce the
name. Does anybody else remember when the US suggested that Iraq
tried to buy uranium from a West African country? It was Niger but
do you think even pretty boy Brian Williams wanted to tackle that
one? The slightest hesitation on that name and the next
paying gig he's getting is speaking in Alabama to the local Rotary
Club at a Ramada Inn.
Now you might also ask ol' Mr. Boureima why
there are also 40,000 people still thought to be held as slaves in
his country. Niger, please! I realize that they criminalized
slavery in 2003 (yes, you read that correctly. 2003. Not 1803 or
1903. 2003) but now they just deny it exists. You could also then
ask Boubacar if he knows what irony is.
So maybe its best that our uneasy teachers
steer clear of the current history of Niger, given that it has the
world's highest fertility rate, suffers from endless droughts, is
one of the poorest countries on earth, has 3.3 million citizens
with HIV, and most of the government is under investigation for
allegedly embezzling funds from the education ministry. Is it any
wonder they are a former French colony and that French is still
their official language? I bet somehow the French are responsible
for the name.
I was going to Google some more information
but I'm afraid to have the word Niger in my Google history in case
one of my black friends happens to see it. Yes, you read that
correctly. Black. Not African-American. That has to be the
dumbest way to categorize someone I've ever heard and if I need to
explain why then you're probably not going to agree with me anyway
and in that case I wish only horrible things for you and your
family going forward. I'm white. They're black. Who gives a crap
where we come from? I've literally been in a situation where I'm
talking to someone and they'll want to point out the black kid
surrounded by four white kids for some reason and they will say
"the kid in the red shirt" and I'll say "there are three kids in
red shirts" and they'll say "the one in the lighter red shirt with
no collar" and I'll be "you mean the black kid?!" and they
will almost hyperventilate. I can't imagine black guys having the
same problem pointing out "the white kid over there" but as I'm
white I guess I can't be sure.
So here's the point. If we're going to keep
asking South Carolina to change their flag I think it's totally
acceptable to ask Niger to come up with a new name. One that
doesn't make white people so nervous. Is that too much to ask? I
don't even know how to pronounce it because I've never actually
heard anyone say it out loud. If folks from Nigeria have locked up
Nigerian status what do you call people from Niger?
I bet even black readers had at least one
funny answer spring to mind there. Does that make them racist or
realists? Has there ever been much of a difference? If it were a
Family Feud question I bet the #1 answer would be
Well this is uncomfortable.
Your eyes barreling along, expecting word after word, while my
writer stands absently downstairs waiting for the ding from the
microwave that will signal that his tea is ready. If this were a
cartoon, oh how I wish it were for your sake, the page would remain
blank as a pen leaned against the blankness signaling to you that
there was nothing to see ,but as you seem intent on having your
eyes continue their journey from side to side and down the page you
draw this out and force me to explain myself. Without the clacking
of fingers on a keyboard I have nothing to show you, showing you is
held in much higher esteem by my writer than telling. Obviously,
there is no scene to speak of where you might glean a hint of the
upcoming action nor can I offer an accent or telltale physical
characteristic. I cannot even turn inward at the moment because my
inwards remain empty. That much I can both show and tell. Given my
empty state, the difference between show and tell seems as
transparent as the similarities between truth and dare.
If you can be patient I have no doubt my
writer will return, tea in hand, to the task at hand and no doubt
entertain you with some triumph or tragedy thrust upon me. At this
moment I can’t say I have a preference or even an understanding of
the difference between them. I’m led to believe from the writer
that without you identifying with some aspect of me that you won’t
have much of an interest either.
Might I suggest, with no insult intended,
that perhaps you’re still reading this for that very reason? Might
my writer sit down to find you’ve already identified with the
complete lack of me and he can continue with a captive
a detective story
Mike had been a detective for over 20 years.
He had started young and idealistic but ended up looking a lot like
most of the others he worked with; hard, weathered, and unhappy.
The fact that he was unhappy was beside the point but, also quite
possibly, the entire point.
He had distinguished himself from his
colleagues because he was able to put little things together to
make something larger. Every crime was a puzzle and he was never
satisfied until he had every piece. He was never happy until the
borders were unbroken and the picture complete. That never happened
so, therefore, he was never happy.
His problem this morning was, that after 20
years, a lot of the unfinished puzzles were starting to come
together in a completely unexpected way. Something that it would
have taken over 20 years to see and only if you were looking. It
had started innocently enough, an ironic term given the subject was
crime, the prior evening with a party game called "Six Degrees of
Kevin Bacon." He had been encouraged to participate at a gathering
he had no interest in being at and after the rules had been fully
explained to him he quickly put his glass of scotch down and left
without another word to anyone.
The game was loosely based on a concept put
forth by a Hungarian playwright named Frigyes Karinthy that
everyone is, on average, approximately six steps away from any
other person on Earth. Well before social networks were popular and
network theory was in its infancy, Karinthy believed that the
modern world was 'shrinking' due to ever-increasing connectedness
of human beings.
Hundreds of incomplete puzzles brought
together with one final piece. It had been a very long night.
Regardless of how crazy and paranoid it felt,
he hurriedly sat down into his chair and booted up his computer.
After a few moments he typed 'collective consciousness' and hit the
search button. It brought up another few terms and he spent the
next 30 minutes trying to figure out exactly what it was he was
trying to put his finger on.
"I think you might also try 'hive mind,'
Mike jumped, he had not heard his Captain
come into his office. Next to Cpt. Nigel Snigget stood his partner
of the past four years, Ed Breezly. Smiling broadly, Ed walked into
his office and sat down in the chair opposite Mike.
"I think he might also have some luck with
Behind Nigel, he could see others lining up
to peer inside at him.
The Captain slowly closed the door behind him
and walked slowly to Mike's desk. "I guess congratulations are in
order then" he said with no trace of good will in his voice. "You
broke the case."
Mike faltered a second, overwhelmed with what
this meant. He felt for his side arm and realized it sat on the
filing cabinet across the room where he had slung it, his jacket,
and his keys in his haste to get to work in front of the
"So I was … I am … right?" The words tumbled
out of his mouth. His tongue felt think and his head dull.
"I'm afraid so Mike." The corners of his
partner's mouth gave up their attempts at holding a smile.
Mike sagged back into his chair, trying to
come to grips with what it all meant. He started small, like a baby
letting go of a piece of furniture and hesitantly putting one foot
out in front of the other.
"All the crimes. All of them are connected.
His Captain decided to push the baby over.
"Mike. It's all connected. The crimes, music, wars, sports, hunger,
the fucking Price is Right."
Ed chimed in to try and help him; "It's just
a game Mike, ol' buddy. Do you see that now?"
He couldn't see. He couldn't think straight.
Only one word kept coming drumming against the back of his eyeballs
and finally it leaked out as more of a whimper than a question.
"Because we don't know how many of you there
"Come on Nige, throw him a bone. Can't you
see he's struggling a bit?" Ed's smile returned but now it had a
menacing luster to it.
"Ok, it's like this." Nigel straightened his
shirt with a quick downward tug. "While our best and brightest are
tucked away ensuring the survival and advancement of the wheat, the
rest of us are entertaining the chaff."
"You're the chaff, Mike." Ed piped up.
The recent recipient of the chaff moniker
could only look on confused as Cpt. Nigel Snigget drew his service
revolver and calmly put one between his eyes.
Favorite Facebook Status updates:
Every time I watch golf and hear about the incredible
pressure that golfers have to deal with I think about antlions.
Antlions are the larvae of a insect that ends up looking like a
dragonfly, but when they are young they excavate conical pits in
the sand by crawling backwards in circles, at the same time
flipping out sand grains with their long jaws. The slope of the
funnel is adjusted to the critical angle of repose for sand, so
that the sides readily give way under the feet of a would-be
escapee. The antlion waits quietly at the bottom of the pit, with
its body off to one side and concealed by the steep wall.
When crawling insects inadvertently fall into the pit
it is virtually impossible for them to climb the loose sand on the
steep walls. The struggling victim is then cruelly pulled beneath
the sand as its body fluids are gradually siphoned out.
I think it would be great if there were giant,
genetically engineered antlions the size of ponies and they were
released into the sand traps at golf tournaments. THAT would be
Do you ever wonder if the tropical fish born in
captivity sense there is something not quite right about the
plastic coral reef they swim around?
What better way to express the fact that you are
oblivious to being part of a larger society than hanging a pair of
metals balls on the back of your pick-up. Have you seen these?
Large metallic testicles for young kids and old ladies and everyone
else to admire. Funny in concept but to actually inflict them on
the rest of us is the worst kind of inbred hillbilly
How did I know that somewhere my otolaryngologists
was discussing my Auricular paresthesia with someone?
My ears were burning.
A recent study showed that 57% of Americans wish that
dinosaurs from the cretaceous period still existed. I'm not sure
those people have thought it through but I admit it would be cool
to open the newspaper each day to see who's been eaten.
It seemed like a pretty harmless transaction.
I had always parked in the lot across the street from the hospital
when calling on one of my clients, but then a friend of mine told
me that he always parks in the hospital lot and then just goes
across the sky bridge and gets his ticket validated even though he
wasn't actually visiting any of the patients there. Saves him
$15.50 every visit downtown.
Seemed simple enough except when I started to
walk down the hallway towards the ticket stamper, I saw it was
sitting on a desk occupied by a security guard. Now immediately I'm
sure you've leapt to the conclusion that this security guard was a
man in a bad blue security shirt with a bad emblem on the sleeve
that vaguely resembled a badge of some sort and black pants that
were two sizes too small and seemed to be made of rayon or nylon or
some other material that ended with -on but you are wrong. It was a
Anyway, I panicked and walked right past her
and into the bowels of the hospital. After I walked around for a
little bit I started to weigh my options. If I was unable to
extricate myself from this tricky predicament my vehicle might be
forever trapped on the blue level of St. Whatever's Hospital
Obviously the easiest thing to do would be to
steal a white jacket and pretend to be a doctor. After being unable
to acquire the necessary garb I was forced to settle with some
surgical scrubs I found in a linen closet. I threw them over my
street clothes and started for the desk, ticket in hand and
seemingly eager to be slid through the machine.
But what is she wasn't buying the surgeon
routine? Could I be arrested for impersonating a doctor? As I got
closer I could feel the sweat building on my brow and before I was
within 10 feet of the desk I pivoted on my back foot and hightailed
it back down the hall. She'd never buy that I was a doctor.
The next obvious solution was to borrow a
gown and try to pretend I was a patient leaving the hospital.
Although I found it a bit breezy in back the transformation was
easy enough and in no time I was shuffling down the hallway holding
the plastic bag containing my clothes and only moments from freeing
my car from its unwanted detention. This time I was literally two
feet from the punching contraption when it occurred to me that
usually guards won't allow a patient to leave and drive themselves
home. Quickly I wondered if I could invent some bleeding-heart
story that could explain my departure but was too worried that the
guard would try to escort me back to my room only to find I didn't
have one, so with a quick spin that sent a burst of cold air up my
not-adequately-covered backside I once again headed back the way I
Pretty much oblivious to the suffering all
Who did I need to be to get out of this mess?
I couldn't be myself, could I? Not to this security professional.
She could be a highly trained woman with a military background and
a short fuse who could sniff out the type of person who would try
to cheat the system and attempt to park at the hospital when in
fact their business had not been in the hospital at all. The kind
of woman who waits all day for the opportunity to wrestle such a
person to the ground in a very public and humiliating manner and
put her knee on the back of their head until the proper authorities
I spent close to an hour trying to find a
security uniform or at least a walkie talkie so I could 'relieve'
her and then make my escape. No dice.
I studied her in greater detail. Usually I
see faces in clouds but this was the first time I ever actually saw
clouds in a face.
Should I try honesty and throw myself on her
mercy or perhaps pull a fire alarm and in the ensuing confusion
stamp my ticket and bolt out of there? Was I agile enough to
complete the transaction without her even knowing as I wandered by
or would it be easier to sneak up behind her and render her
unconscious when nobody else was looking?
The idea of being myself became more
difficult as I realized I wasn't sure who I was any more.
This seems to happen every time I look to a
stranger for validation.
tertium non datur
The only people who dislike Cheryl more than
the anti-anarchist crowd are the anarchists themselves. You see
Cheryl started an Anarchy Club at her school. She did not do so in
an attempt to be ironic or as an act of social satire or civil
disobedience. She believes in the principles of anarchy and hopes
that with the proper organization the movement can take root at her
school and flourish.
You can see why the anarchists hate her.
The question is whether or not she is a hero
or villain. Of course, first you have to establish whether or not
you believe anarchy is a heroic notion or inherently evil. Once
you've established that you can then decide if it is the ultimate
act of rebellion to go against the principles of anarchy itself and
make it a club or if you have to simply let the definition of a
political belief define it. Those two schisms create four different
realities for someone to exist in at her school and those that
agree on one point will almost certainly disagree on the other.
That is if anyone much cared.
Nobody has joined her club to date but she
dutifully starts each meeting with a loud "competition, diffidence
and glory!" and then sets about finishing the ever-expanding
You wonder, if she was more attractive, would
the Anarchy Club be more popular. Or, using that train of thought,
if she was more popular would the Anarchy Club be more attractive.
Two different questions but no schism. Cheryl is not unattractive,
she is simply average. Should I point out the two non-schisms that
would be created if she was unattractive?
Hard to tell if there are any true anarchists
going to her school. There are the usual lawless students but it's
difficult to say if that is a conscious choice on their part or if
it's just the path of least resistance. Cheryl is certain that none
of them are familiar with Thomas Rainsborough, the Revolutionary
Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine, the Confederación Nacional del
Trabajo or Immanuel Kant so they can talk all the revolution they
want but they are no better than the stiffs in the Junior
Ever since she appeared on the local news,
who decided to fill up a slow news day with a profile on the girl
who started an anarchy club, she gets hate mail. Her parents have
had to replace the mailbox twice, repaint the garage door after
vandals spray painted a capitol A with a circle around it followed
by the letters “s-s-h-o-l-e” on it and regularly have to wash eggs
off the windows.
She seems to be unaware of the irony in acts
of civil disobedience being carried out against her, someone with a
completely clean rap sheet, because she supports the idea of a
stateless society based on non-hierarchical voluntary
The real problem for Cheryl has been the real
anarchists pleading with her to stop. The hard-boiled crowd.
Whether they are extreme individualists or complete collectivists,
anarcho-communists or anarcho-syndicalists, libertarian anarchists
or no-card-carrying-required anarcho-syndicalist labor union
members, they all write impassioned letters imploring her to cease
and desist with the club.
If the proverb "the enemy of my enemy is my
friend" holds any truth then it makes you wonder how many friends
Cheryl really has.
Her parents and her guidance counselor wonder
the same thing.
But every Monday, the flyer announcing the
next meeting is taped up to the school bulletin board and, every
Tuesday at 3:30, she sits in the empty classroom and starts to jot
down the minutes of the meeting. She will pause every now and then
and look out the window. Right outside there is a large tree and
often times the two squirrels that live there will be chasing each
other around the branches and she will get a large smile on her
Then it's back to work.
When my friends and I are sitting around
having a few beers or camping deep in the woods, we'll often times
start quizzing each other about what we find attractive in females
and my list goes something like this.
Girls that dye their hair are nice. Long
press-on nails, colored contacts and those giant fake eyelashes are
I like fake breasts. Not only fake but
obviously fake. They have to appear unnatural. If I had to admit
one secret fantasy it would be a tit-bag that pops in my hand as
I'm squeezing it. Late night at night I can't help but admit that
terms like necrosis, asymmetry and capsular contracture really get
the motor running. If a girl already has large breasts then I like
it when she's had reduction surgery. Not sure how they drain those
puppies but I sure hope it leaves a mark.
I love giant lips. That "just punched in the
mouth" look is what I go for. They can't be too big. Melanie
Griffith had the right idea but didn't go far enough. When a girl
tells me, through smackers the size of donuts, that she got her
silicon on the black market I get lightheaded. What can I say? I
also like to overinflate my tires a little and my car handles
Also, nothing gets me going like tightly
stretched skin around the eyes. Joan Rivers may be getting up there
in age but her face simply radiates beauty. When I brush a girl’s
cheek gently, I want it to make the same sound as when I rub a
balloon. For me, I like eyebrows to look frozen on the forehead
like two comatose caterpillars. In a perfect world they react the
same when the female is hearing that she won the lottery or someone
close to her just got hit by a bus. They don't move.
Liposuction. Now we're talking. If me and the
boys are gathered around a campfire throwing a few back and
exchanging stories, this is where my eyes get that far-away look as
I rattle off my list if favorite scars; easily #1 with a bullet are
fibroblastic scars. The stuff of fantasy in my books. Next come the
hypertrophic scars followed closely by atrophic scars. Last but not
least are the hyopigmented scars. Whenever I can get a hold of a
brochure outlining different procedures it reads like Penthouse
Forum. Usually, I can't make it past the second use of the word
One of the things that most women don't learn
from their beauty magazines is that even if you have a nice healthy
head of hair that is no reason not to throw in a few hair plugs.
Most of them are shaving their undercarriage these days anyway, why
let that hair go to waste? It's the little things that sometimes
mean the most.
Like binding feet. It's not just for the
Asians anymore. A girl hobbles into the bar with "lotus feet" and
her dance card is filled for the rest of the night. If she could
dance ... which of course she can't. But if she could, she would be
no stranger to the dance floor, I'll tell you that much. Not if I'm
in that bar.
People are so hung up on looks. The truth is
I don't much care about how girl looks at the start, but how much
effort she put into looking like she does now.
Don't like tattoos though. Butterflies and
hearts just make it seem like she's trying too hard.
In the end, it's not what's on the outside
that matters as much as what's on the inside. Hopefully, a stapled
we are what we dream
As had happened a hundred times before, the
model walked in and got comfortable as he arranged his canvas and
paints. Her robe came off and he went to work. After about 30
minutes her rough outline began to take shape before him and he
began to get the same creeping feeling he'd had a hundred times
Disappointment. With his subject. With his
tools. With himself.
So he tried something that he'd never done
before and said hello.
She unfroze momentarily and even allowed her
eyes to move in his direction. There they stayed and watched him
grab his canvas and hurl it across the studio only to come to rest
noisily against the ancient plumbing that seemed to haphazardly
poke out of every wall before disappearing back into the crumbling
He smiled and apologized. She explained she
was getting paid either way so it made no difference to her.
He laughed. She smiled. He asked her what her
name was and where she lived and how old she was and where she was
from and if she enjoyed being a model.
Katherine. East Side. 26. West Side. It was
He asked her about her dreams. She laughed.
He asked her about her last six dreams and then he got a new
She'd had a dream about travel and he painted
her feet in their entirety. He thought about giving them little
wings but in the end they were just implied.
She dreamt about building a house and he
painted her hands.
She had an explicit dream where she was
ravaged by a group of painters from the nearby college and he
painted her hips and breasts. They simultaneously shimmered and
simmered. He squirmed on his stool with a throbbing erection that
threatened to knock over the canvas as she went into every
delicious detail but he never stopped painting.
She watched his face carefully as that
particular recollection drew to a close and he painted her eyes,
and she listened to his nervous laughter and heavy sighs and he
painted her ears.
She had a strange dream about how weird it
felt to have something growing from her head. Almost anticipating
each word, his brush swept and curled and her hair flowed down and
around and over the various pieces of her that were already busy
drying on the cloth.
She had a dream about connecting the dots and
he busied himself with all the parts of her body between her feet
and hands and swelling breasts. A tension was growing in the room
and she felt something wonderful was going on just out of sight and
And he sighed again and painted her lips and
they flowed down and around and over the various parts of her that
were still preoccupied with drying on the cloth.
Another dream and she started to have
smudges, she was outside the lines but the painting remained
perfect despite all the movement that couldn't help but insert
itself into the portrait.
She dreamt that her mom died and she was
forced to roll her up in a carpet and stack her with all the other
mothers who had died. Thankfully he was done by then and only his
signature reflected her mother's feet, still wearing the pink shoes
she wore around the house, sticking out of the roll of carpet. Some
people will mistake if for a happy face.
She told him what a nice time she had then
got dressed and left.
He began to stack all of his other paintings
for the short trip to the waiting dumpster outside. He felt like
the eager dumpster had been waiting and rooting for him a long
time. Too long.
Dr. Ganzfield's Baby and Child Care
First off, I can't really come out and call
this some inquiry into the grey area between fate and morality
because it could also be looked at as so many other things.
Secondly, and most importantly, it's my actual life so the best you
could call it is an interesting work in progress. Depending on your
opinion of the topics discussed you might have some strong feelings
about my circumstances but believe me ... no stronger than I
It's all a bit confusing at times.
My father was a well known psychic and my
mother was an only slightly lesser renown fortune teller. That
might sound odd but when you're a kid whatever you grow up around
seems the norm. I remember playing poker with my mom with tarot
cards and the only difference I could tell was that even if you won
there was always a little good news/bad news to it. Other than that
my childhood was pretty much identical to most of my other
Well, there was this one thing.
Being psychic my dad would punish me for
things I hadn't done yet. Things I was going to do. It was
especially difficult leading up to events I was looking forward to
because invariably I would be grounded at the last minute due to
some upcoming transgression.
That wasn't even the hard part, although
sitting home while I wanted to be somewhere else was
difficult, I won't lie. But it wasn't the hardest part. The hardest
part was then doing the thing that got me in trouble in the first
place. Sometimes weeks later. Sometimes things I didn't even want
to do but I felt I had to. It wasn't that I believed if I didn't I
would upset the time/space continuum, it was more like I didn't
want to make my dad angry.
By not doing something bad.
That was pretty weird sometimes.
So you can see where the whole fate versus
morality thing comes into play... but only if you believe in things
like divination, clairvoyants and ESP. Otherwise you're likely to
write my entire childhood off as either abusive or a cruel joke. I
try not to leap to any conclusions myself. Too much skin in the
game, if you know what I mean.
Take, for instance, when I was not allowed in
go to prom because I stole a car two months later. It all seemed so
unfair. I had a car, why would I steal one? For two months I
was trying to figure out not only why I was going to steal one but
how to steal a car. I had no idea. In movies they pry off something
on the steering wheel and thrust two wires at one another until the
car roars to life, but I didn't have the faintest clue how to
approach it. Or where to approach it. My dad was always very vague
on the details and when I pressed him for additional information he
usually got quite testy. He would say that there were enough
skeptics in the world without him having to come home and find one
living comfortably under his own roof. Invariably my mother's
attempts at providing further clarity using her crystal ball came
When I was younger and I would be sent to my
room without dessert because I was going to sneak some cookies the
next day, at least I had the cookies to look forward to. I never
really felt bad when I took them because I'd already done my time.
It was like a pre-paid sin. I know how it sounds, now but you have
to remember I was a kid. I would gauge the boundaries of my
upcoming transgression on the severity of the punishment I
received. For instance, if I knew it was the day I was rude to my
teacher I had to figure out in my head just how rude I could
But the car thing was really out there. On
the day I was supposed to commit the crime I remember trying to
injure myself to get out of it. I jumped out of a tree and broke my
ankle. My neighbor saw what went on and called an ambulance, so in
a moment of complete clarity I ended up jumping off the stretcher
and stealing the ambulance and driving myself to the hospital. Two
birds, one stone. My parents told me they were proud of my
composure, but were still glad I missed prom so I would learn
something from the experience. I guess in retrospect that without
discipline you'd never learn anything. Even if it ends up being
what you don't learn ... which in this case was how to steal
bye bye Native American pie
Although Hollywood would have you believe
that the "pie in the face" gag began in the 1909 film Mr.
Flip and from there escalated into the enormous pie fights
witnessed in such gems as the 1927 Laurel and Hardy film The
Battle of the Century (which used 3,000 pies) and the 1965
comedy The Great Race (4,000 pies thrown) the truth is much
Turns out that pieing dates back to the
Plains Indians of North America. There was a tribe of Sioux that
shunned edged weapons and turned instead to pie throwing. Early
settlers reported that a Sioux pie thrower could unseat a rider
from 20 feet away. Not exactly with 'deadly' accuracy, but
definitely uncanny. Despite the fact that even their greatest
hunters found it impossible to kill a bison with pies, they tried
none the less and the other tribes respected and feared them for
their tenacity. Whenever another tribe would complain about the
sticky filling and crumbs ruining the pelt of a bison the Sioux
women would stay up many nights in a row baking, the scent of
meringue would waft over the plains and then the retribution would
come fast and gooey. The other tribes learned the hard way to keep
their comments to themselves, lest they be on the receiving end of
a Sioux pieing.
The plains pie throwers initially had no
quarrel with the white men who arrived and in fact were grateful
for the wonderful new custard recipes they were given but
eventually, like all of the indigenous people of North America,
conflict and death awaited them. As more and more settlers made
their way west the U.S. military was given orders to squeeze the
Sioux out of their native lands, something that the Corporal in
charge of the endeavor said would be "easy as pie."
Words that would come back to haunt him. Not
because it was difficult to defeat the Indians mind you but because
of his unfortunate use of the word pie. Perhaps he should have gone
with "piece of cake," instead.
The Sioux leader at the time, Chief Squirting
Flower, was a brilliant tactician and led his band of piers to many
moral victories before they were all shot dead with guns. His use
of the newly acquired banana cream technology was particularly
humiliating to the numerous soldiers that were on the receiving
end. What started as small skirmishes to settle small disputes,
ended in full blown pie fights that claimed hundreds of victims and
dozens of casualties (all Sioux, of course) to say nothing of the
countless stains that were very difficult to remove given the
stain-removing products of the time. Eventually the pie throwers
had to collect their pans and set up shop elsewhere. A decade later
they disappeared into baking lore forever.
Truly, one of the more tragic and lesser
known stories of the birth of this great nation.
Don't let Hollywood and their piespiracy fool
you. It's no coincidence that what started as a bit by Ben Turpin
has now turned into a political statement. The next time you see
some influential figure receive a pie in the kisser, listen close
and I bet you can hear the soft battle cry of a Sioux pier.
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and
Singin' this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die
asides, tangents, and afterthoughts
When you ask a layman why they feel that
teleportation will never actually be a possibility a lot of times
you'll hear that even if we are able to recreate a person on a
subatomic level and get everything right that the person on the
other end of the machine won't actually be the person that stepped
into the starting spot. It sounds reasonable enough until that
person hears some fact on the internet that every one of our atoms
is actually replaced every few days/weeks/months and that
consciousness is actually the interaction between chemicals and not
the chemicals themselves. If this is true then what difference is
there between a person reassembled after being teleported and a
normal person who has had all of the atoms in their body switched
out and yet maintains their sense of 'self?'
I'm careful to articulate that this is what a
layman might say because I'm not smart enough to actually know what
I'm talking (there is always a slim chance that someone reading
this might be (although it's doubtful given how dumb these usually
are) ... wait a second (case in point) … I seem stuck in
parentheses (is stuck the right way to explain it?) how do I get
out of a parentheses (even looking up the definition ("to enclose
words not directly relevant to the main topic of the sentence but
too important to omit" doesn't seem to help) wait, there was one
going the right way to get back to the main sentence (how many
parentheses am I in right now anyway? Crap! Now I'm even deeper
(I'm counting 8 ('s against only 3)'s (not counting those as they
are only part of the sentence and not real parentheses … shit! Now
it's even worse …) well that's better (still need 5… wait 6
counting that last one … but I know that I have another) coming at
the end of this though… wait for it …) yep, there it is (still not
sure how to end the thought that started this mess))) hey! I got 3
closed parenthesis there) and another … (don't even know how I did
that … worth another try though)) cool, 2 more down ((I really
should know this stuff as an adult) whoa there, since when does a
thought start with TWO parentheses and only give me one ( at the
end of it?) oh I see, it anticipated the additional thought it
would take to explain the second ((doesn't that infer that my
keyboard can read what I am going to write before I write it? (not
really as if it could it would never allow me to waste such large
amounts of time typing obvious crap))))). Am I out of parenthesis
now? How do you tell …? What the hell was I talking about (I could
always go back and reread the beginning I guess)?
Damn, what a shame. I had this nice little
sentence about going to bed one night and waking up to find I'd
changed mind without having changed my mind. Whatever.
So we're not the atoms and we're not the
cells, so we can be teleported and step through on the other side
complete with our identities and ready to roll. Grammar kills yet
another heady scientific discussion.
future generations won't read blogs
Bored? Go out and buy a snake. Bring it home
and let it bite you. Now you're not bored.
Let me be clear lest I open myself up to
lawsuits. Make sure it is not poisonous. You might also want to
avoid either extraordinarily large snakes or ones with particularly
pointy teeth. Other than that any snake will do for the purpose of
I cavalierly say to let it bite you but I
think you'll find it's much harder than it looks to let a snake
make contact and that is the point of the whole snake-biting-you
Let's say for instance you agreed to buy a
snake but weren't really sold on the whole letting it bite you
thing so you went out and got the smallest most inoffensive garter
snake you could find. A tiny little fella who's mouth looks like
the Bumble after Hermey pulled all of his teeth. You will still
find it difficult if not impossible to hold still and let it bite
Why you may ask? That's the question that
will let you slip from the tyrannical shackles of boredom. When it
strikes you will suddenly feel the ghosts of generations of people
who have been bitten by snakes telling your hand, without your
prior approval, to move out of the way and it will. It will
blatantly disregard your logical assurances that this snake poses
no danger and go ahead and give your hand the green light to flee
the scene. Now you know why you're not bored anymore, you're facing
up to the fact that while your decisions might seem to originate
from your brain and are, therefore, completely under your control
24/7 occasionally they are overruled by your DNA.
If you'd like to risk being bored again you
can continue reading. If the subject matter gets a little dull feel
free to pull out your snake again.
You see behavior and experience actually
change the biochemistry surrounding the neurons in our brain. It
actually encodes the results of these experiences and starts to
create a library of instinctual reactions. The part that is really
interesting is that all of these instincts are transmitted through
our glands into our reproductive systems. A nice way of saying that
our personal experiences are also passed on to future generations.
Obviously behaviors that are not duplicated from generation to
generation and those that are trivial do not have staying power in
the DNA but those that do are built right into the neurons of the
happy union of Mr. Sperm and Mrs. Egg.
Makes fighting the urge to pull away from a
snake bite rather interesting. You're actually feeling the tug of
your ancestors. Perhaps thousands and thousands of dead people are
saying "move your hand, dumbass."
Explaining how genetic memory works allows me
the opportunity to explain a bit more about the DNA strand itself,
a chance I rarely pass up. Dinner parties, weddings, funerals,
you'll always find me going on at length about how DNA is a quad
helix as opposed to the commonly held belief that it is a double. I
have however learned not to go into too much detail about this
during eulogies ... something I hope will be passed on to future
generations to save them the uncomfortable silences that I have
been forced to endure. The two strands of the double-helix, as
everyone knows from way back, represent the spatial and physical
information of how a body will be formed. The other two strands
form a second double-helix containing the temporal and mental
information, i.e., what experiences from the past will be
hard-wired into the subconscious of the individual. Because this
second helix is invisible and cannot be seen by a microscope, it's
more of a mathematical representation of a process as opposed to a
physical object, it doesn't get much love from the science
textbooks and posters community.
The argument of instinct versus learned
behavior will rage on well after all of those people currently
engaged in it have died but there can be little disagreement that
DNA has to be the vessel in which instinctual behavior is carried
from one generation to the next. You can talk until you're blue in
the face about cellular mechanisms, codons and nucleotide bases,
but the fact is that even though you know the little snake you
bought with his little toothless mouth has no way of actually
harming you, you will pull away when he strikes. Even if it
successfully bites you and you suffer no harm whatsoever you will
still pull away if it strikes at you five minutes later.
For anyone who actually takes the time to get
a snake and try this I think you'll be richly rewarded. You will
literally be having a conversation of sorts with long-deceased
relatives and, in an act of defiance that is worthy of the living,
you will be ignoring their advice and letting the snake bite you.
Or trying anyway.
It's harder than you think.
Although I’m not much of a college football
historian I’m pretty sure that the University of Nebraska team has
won more games than any other team on the planet. If memory serves,
I think they won something like 30 national championships in a row.
Why do I mention this? Because in the last few years they have
barely played .500 ball. The once mighty Cornhuskers have become a
shell of the program they once were. Why? Could it be that they are
busy ‘husking’ something else?
I’m going to put it right out there on the
table. There is a cornspiracy going on in this country the likes of
which we haven’t seen in a decade! Not since the cranberry, folks,
have we seen such a power play on our grocery shelves. Except Big
Corn learned a lesson from all that, so you won’t be seeing
Corngerine-flavored juices. No, no. They’re smarter than that.
You’ll buy a bottle of Tangerine juice blissfully unaware that the
main ingredient has become corn. Corn!
Take a second and go to your own kitchen.
Pull out anything in your fridge or on your shelf and I’ll wager
that the key ingredient is corn. It is now in everything.
They are cornering the market. What’s worse is that they
would have you believe that this is all just corntastic! (if you’d
like to try to be as funny as I am, just add the letters c-o-r-n in
place of the letters c-o-n in any word beginning with con and see
how amusing it is. Cornfused? I bet you are … but it gets easier.
Cornstruction, cornsequences, etc. Once you have that down move on
to replacing any letters that begin a word with
Not content(corntent) with just bottled and
canned goods they have now taken over the beef industry. Although
you won’t see it on the label, the key ingredient in beef is now,
you guessed it, corn. These days cattle are fed exclusively corn.
No more hay or grass or the occasional apple from the hand of the
farmer’s sensitive daughter. Nope. Corn is what’s on the menu every
night if you’re a head of steer.
And now they want corn in your gas tank. They
call it ethanol to try to hide it but what they mean is cornoline.
Even cranberries never had the balls to try this one.
And to think I gave so generously to Farm Aid
when Willie Nelson had me convinced that the poor American farmer
was hurting. Now I find out those over-all-clad bastards have been
working overtime to make sure that in five years even my carrots
will be made out of corn. I hope Willie likes it when he sits down
to smoke a bowl of corn-weed!
It wouldn’t be so bad except corn isn’t very
good for us. It’s a starch and then some. In one serving of corn
(100 grams) there is 365 calories, 74 grams of carbs and 5 grams of
fat. One of those five being saturated, the most diabolical of the
fats! Want to know why American asses are getting bigger? Let me
introduce you to my friend Mr. Corn. My Native American pals called
him Mr. Maize … but they didn’t put Mr. Maize into every fucking
thing they ate or drank. Of course, if they had found a way to make
Mr. Alcohol out of him, the first pilgrims might have steeped foot
on a continent that was ears of corn from sea to shining sea.
Ironically our only hope is the cranberry. If
anyone can stop Cornzilla, it’s the cranberry guys. Come on Ocean
Spray, step up and get back to work. Knock down this corny bitch
and take your crown back.
another squirrel story
Nature is a lot more interesting than most
people give it credit for. For example, about a hundred years ago
naturalists in North America noticed a very interesting behavior in
the grey squirrel. Called scatter-hoarding the squirrels
would collect acorns from both the red and the white oaks which
grew in the area and bury what they didn't need to eat later when
food was scarcer. Unlike the red oak acorns which are dormant
throughout the winter months, the acorns from the white oaks
germinate immediately and send down a large taproot and that is a
pain in the ass for the squirrels when they go to collect them.
Here's the interesting part that the naturalists observed. To
counteract this behavior on the part of the white oak acorns the
squirrels learned to bite out the seed embryos which prevented it
Or so they thought for a few generations.
In an interesting act of adaptation, the
white oaks developed acorns which collected small amounts of
potassium permanganate in one chamber and trace elements of
ethylene glycol in the other. What happened next was intriguing.
When the squirrels went to bite the acorn to kill it, instead it
allowed the two chemicals to come into contact and the result was
an explosion that not only blew off the head of the squirrel but
left a small crater where the unfortunate woodland creature had
been happily squatting only seconds before.
Squirrels, much to the amusement of the
researchers who gathered to see this evolutionary back and forth,
did not take this lying down. In only a few years they developed
protruding beaver-like front teeth that made short work of the
unexpectedly-volatile white oaks and soon the forest floor was
covered in downed trees.
The white oaks would have none of it. Soon
the slightest vibration would send a legion of explosive acorns
cascading down onto the hapless creatures below the trees. Logging
was quickly suspended and many an innocent picnicker was found torn
to shreds by the nutty cluster bombs.
In an evolutionary "Oh yeah?!" not seen since
the Tufted Puffin, commonly found in North Pacific waters learned
karate, the squirrels grew to unprecedented size (some reaching 18
feet at the shoulders) and developed a thick armor plating.
"Is that all you got?" the white oaks seemed
to ask as seemingly overnight their acorns skipped right past
coconut-size and ended up resembling thorny brown melons. Each with
the destructive force of 100 pounds of TNT.
Scientists were absolutely fascinated. Never
before had they seen such a remarkable example of evolution in
action. The forests were abuzz with activity as enormous
squirrel-creatures lumbered around trying to uproot deadly oak
trees before they could unleash their fiery payloads.
National Geographic couldn't get enough.
So there you have it. Nature is truly more
wonderful and unpredictable than any of us could have ever
Oh shit. The trees can move. The trees can
Mommy, how do you spell sterilization?
So after what seemed like hours of sitting in
a lawn chair staring into the void I finally figured out how to
solve a problem that has been particularly irritating me
I'm going to write a children's book. It
seems the only way.
And what will this children's book be about
and how will it help solve the problem that has been particularly
irritating me lately? I'm glad you asked. Although you will soon
see that you're part of the problem so you might regret asking in
the first place.
The book will be about this magical world
that is totally made up and in no way resembles the world we
currently reside in. In this world, and here's the big difference,
people come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and colors but none of
them look the same as anyone else so there is no prejudice
whatsoever. Because everyone in this magical world looks completely
different, everybody is judged solely on their actions and the
content of their character. No religions exist and no political
parties are needed. No bias and no excuses.
I know ... magical indeed.
Let's call this world Utopia X. Not sure why
I threw in the X but kids today seem to like anything with an X at
the end of it, so there you go. Utopia X. The people who live there
we'll call Utopians. No X. But this world has a problem that I'm
going to ask the young readers to try and solve. You see at first
there were only a few Utopians who were stupid, lazy and/or violent
and the rest of the Utopians put up with them and went about making
Utopia X a wonderful place to live. The problems began when someone
noticed that while the responsible, hard-working Utopians were
having one or two kids that they took great pains in raising
properly each of the stupid, lazy and/or violent ones were having
five, six or more kids that they took even greater pains to avoid
taking care of. Even preadolescent readers who are bad at math will
soon see the problem if the Utopians don't do something.
I would be interested in hearing the
solutions that kids come up with. I guess I'm hoping that when they
get older they will hear a story about how on this non-magical
world we allow conjugal visits to convicted killers so that they
can have yet another baby out of wedlock without the means to
provide for it and be reminded of the solutions they came up with
for Utopia X.
You see, the next generation is our only
hope, because for the last few generations we have to be the
biggest collection of gutless turds ever to exist in the cosmos. If
someone in Utopia X wrote a book about Earth it would doubtlessly
be thrown in the Fantasy section. What intelligent species could
ever believe that an advanced civilization could face such a
problem and just sit with their thumbs up their own collective
asses and ignore it until the whole thing finally collapses?
What I'd really like is for our government to
admit that they don't have the balls to actually deal with our
decaying culture and agree to whatever fixes that the kids who read
my book come up with. However silly or extreme they might be. The
kids will read the book, they will be presented with the simple
fact that on Utopia X the stupid, lazy and/or violent people were
out-procreating the decent citizens by more than a 3 to 1 ratio,
and then the last 10 pages will be blank. My book will include a
pen and on the final page of the story, when I've explained that
for the moment the ratio of good people to bad people on Utopia X
is roughly 50/50, I'll ask them to finish the book and give it a
happy ending. However they feel is the best way to deal with the
situation, that’s how our government would be forced to
I can almost feel your cheeks getting flush
with indignation. You could never be allowed to read the book
because after five pages your brain would go hurtling off into your
own dark places and then you'd project all of that shit onto me,
the author/messenger. Even now I can feel your brain scrambling to
poke holes in the logic of this approach lest you feel that I'm
somehow insulting you.
And the crappy unraveling world we're
currently living in.
We really are just going to let it all burn
because we don't have the nerve to speak up, so now I'm turning to
the kids before they are poisoned by books written by this
degenerate generation telling them that the biggest problem in
Utopia X is that there aren't enough social programs for those
stupid, lazy and/or violent Utopians.
Think of the little kids you know and then
imagine what they would write. Our only hope may come from the pens
I guess you can measure a day by how many
times circumstances provoke you into thinking something that you
hadn't planned on thinking about. Like watching an insurance
commercial that offers you the assurance that you're in 'good
hands' promptly followed by someone in the next advertisement
offering up an observation, just as earnestly mind you, about what
the future holds.
My first thought is that if you're buying
life insurance and you end up collecting on it the only thing those
'good hands' will be doing is lowering you into the ground or
perhaps handing over some cash to your grieving loved one so they
can grieve in warmer weather and sip alcoholic beverages with
chunks of fruit clinging to the edge. It should go without saying
that in the picture I am trying to paint they are surrounded by
exotic flowering plants.
Even if the insurance you end up using is car
or home you can't really expect the future to 'hold' anything for
you. There's a ton of stuff floating out there but it will never be
handed to you. Even if you have insurance, that just replaces the
stuff that gets lost or stolen. The future may hold a lot of
promises but no certainties. There are simply too many sayings that
involve things slipping through your fingers for it to be a
Throw in the metaphors about holding onto the
past and those about the present barely holding our interest and
it's hard to get a grip (thought I was going to say hold, didn't
you?) on what's worth grabbing to begin with.
So the thought I hadn't planned on thinking
clearly has little to do with buying insurance. The ironic part is
that I don't really want to spend too much time trying to figure
out what it is I'm trying to think about because I have this weird
feeling it has to do with time. Doesn't it always seem that when
you start talking about metaphors it's simply a matter of time
before the first irony starts creeping in uninvited?
So I sit up on the couch and debate whether
to follow this train of thought or whether to change directions
completely and ask aloud why anyone who enjoys Cheez-Its would buy
Cheez-It Party Mix which clearly contains less than 1/5th the
amount of Cheez-Its. As an aside, the boxes are identical and when
I'm shopping for snack foods I shouldn't be expected to pore over
every inch of a box to make sure I'm getting the right product. I
feel it would only be fair if the Cheez-It Party Mix box had a huge
red warning label plastered on it alerting people that anyone who
purchases this product is going to be sorely lacking in the
Now you may think that the decision of
choosing between these topics would be easy but I fear that you are
siding too quickly with the weightier of the two. Sure I'd get to
feel like quite the little philosopher if I chose to wrestle with
the former seemingly poignant subject matter but in the end would I
actually get anywhere with it? Probably not. On the other hand, I
can quite easily make a good case against pretzels, rye chips and
cheese balls. Given only a few minutes I could probably cast
outrageous aspersions against anyone preferring this unholy mix
over good old plain old American old (damn, one too many old)
Cheez-Its and be done with it. Free to sink back into the couch and
waste the rest of my evening watching TV and picking out pretzels,
rye chips and cheese balls. Using my 'good hands' to know my
immediate future holds only real cheese goodness.
There is no danger of getting tangled in
irony when debating the virtues of snack crackers.
Do you ever catch yourself thinking what an
outstanding crazy person you'd make?
There is no doubt about it; Shirley Temple was the
creepiest child to ever exist. Her movies are simply
As they like to say in a five dimensional world ...
even a broken clock is right four times a day.
Bullied, Bully, Bull
The problem I have with most movies is the
story involves too many coincidences to move the plot along. It's
interesting and all, but it takes too many twists of fate to bring
it all together in the end to be believable. You'll forgive me if
this story does the same but as I've said so often before it really
Except this time I mean it.
I'm walking through this semi-crowded mall
with a girl and we're discussing elements of manhood. You know, the
hot-button issues surrounding what our culture defines and
interprets as manly. I realize that by putting the words manhood
and manly in back-to-back sentences I risk sounded a bit repetitive
but I want to encapsulate our conversation and the word “man” took
front and center. Eventually the traits that lead to female
attraction poked their head up, as opposed to just the usual
hunting and gathering parameters that are typically bandied about,
and it was agreed that a woman wants a man who can protect her.
There were many other points that we did not agree upon but she was
willing to admit that every woman wants to feel safe when her man
That's when her ass was slapped. This is the
part where my timing may get called into question but I assure you,
the words of accord between the two of us had barely escaped our
lips when a resounding whacking noise emanated from the area of her
backside and her reaction left little doubt that a good smack on
the tush lay behind the sound. Behind the sound and behind my
female friend and her aforementioned and obviously violated and
probably throbbing tush lurked a hulking figure. Grinning and
covered from bow to stern in tattoos he stood admiring his
"Nice ass," he offered up.
My friend looked at me. I looked at her. I
looked at him. I looked at her again. She looked at him and then
back at me. I was more than willing to keep this up all day when he
"This your gay friend?"
"Listen, dickhole, apologize to the lady or
we're going to have a problem here."
The words came out before I could stop them,
some primal regurgitation of every action movies I'd ever seen. My
eyes got squinty and I slowly rolled my neck around to get it loose
as I'd seen done so many fighters do before entering cage. I felt
like a bird displaying my plumage for all the females to see.
You could hear a pin drop and suddenly all
the color drained from his face. Even his skulls tattoos seemed to
fade a bit. My hands began to clench and unclench.
"Look, I'm sorry man. I was just trying to
have a little fun." He backpedaled slowly and then turned a corner
and was gone.
When a writer tells you that words fail him,
your first thought is naturally going to be that the writer is a
pretty bad writer but I'm afraid that's where I sit. Cast
aspersions if you must. The glorious cocktail of adrenaline and
testosterone coursing through my veins had me dizzy. You would
think that my first reaction would be to turn to my female friend
and bask in her approval or gloat or even play it off as nothing
but I was too occupied with not having my penis stepped on as it
snaked its way through Bed, Bath & Beyond and into the
"Sorry about that," I said as I eventually
turned to her. Mock apologizing for such a display was
exhilarating. She was flush and still gazing at my plumage. She
said she had to pee so I told her I was going to finish gathering
up my dick at the food court and get a Coke. Truth was I was a bit
relieved to have a few moments alone to collect my thoughts and
after we agreed to meet outside Little Caesars I let out a long
breath and finally was able to wipe my brow.
The brow-wiping was short-lived. Any time you
have 2 hyphenated words in such a short sentence you know things
aren't going to go well and such was the case here. As soon as I
had turned the corner who did I see but my uncouth antagonist
munching on a pretzel. As we made eye contact he seemed completely
nonplussed which after our confrontation made me a little plussed.
Obviously, additional action was required.
I walked right up to him. "Listen pussy, why
don't you get the fuck out of here?" I inquired, once again wearing
the mask I had selected in our first encounter.
He slowly smiled and suggested that I'd had
my win and I should just let it go.
"Maybe you didn't hear me, Sunshine, time for
you to go."
I reached out to grab his collar and he
yanked my arm towards him ever so slightly as his front foot
slipped behind mine and then in a quick twist he spun me around as
I fell and I ended up on my knees in front of him with his other
arm around my neck.
He continued to eat his pretzel with the arm
that was currently choking me.
"Let it go," he suggested again.
I was in the mood to let it go just this
He spun me back up to my feet with the same
ease that he had deposited me there in the first place. The look on
my face must have been priceless because he couldn't help but laugh
a little when he saw it.
"I ... don't .... understand" I was finally
able to stammer out.
He explained that it's just something he
likes to do. He drives to places nobody would ever recognize him
and pretends to pick on guys so they can have the empowering
feeling of sticking up for themselves. His large and fearsome
appearance just adds to the show.
"What happens if they don't defend
themselves?" I asked.
He explained that he just keep tormenting
them until they finally find their backbone. Then he sheepishly
backs off and lets them enjoy a moment of pure unfiltered
This guy was a hero of sorts.
It was then that my female friend turned the
corner and saw me engaged with her ass-accoster. Filled with a
newfound sense of security she walked right up and slapped him.
He glowered ever so slightly.
She was going in for another when I grabbed
her hand and told her that he'd had enough and I truly felt he'd
learned an important lesson. Just to be sure I sent him on his way
with short lecture about respect for women.
The funny thing is on the way back to her
place we had almost the exact same conversation as we'd had before
except we'd switched sides.
wars are hell
The War on the Impoverished: I see those big
barriers that divide noisy highways from nice neighborhoods and I
can't help but think to myself that we need to put those up between
nice neighborhoods and decaying urban areas. I'm not talking about
those hip little city blocks that have Starbucks on them and
everyone sits out on their stoop and walks their dogs and picks up
after them when they take a crap. I mean those areas where the
residents don't know how to use a rake or a garbage can. I'm
talking, of course, about poor people.
Since President Lyndon B. Johnson created the
Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program the US has
spent nearly $9 trillion on ending poverty. That's
$9,000,000,000,000. Do you have any idea how many barriers that
could have bought us? Hell, we could have just shipped all the poor
people to New York City and then made it like Escape From New
York where we have troops stationed all around it to make sure
all the poor people stay inside. The roads could be mined so nobody
could sneak over and apply for a job and the harbors could be
patrolled from the air to prevent people from swimming across to
our side to take night classes at some community college.
I don't want to seem cold-hearted but the
poor are just so completely hopeless and most of them are
unpleasant to look at. I resent them making me feel guilty every
time I decide to drop a few bills on liposuction for my pet tiger.
Whatever happened to Darwinism? Weren't poor people supposed to
become extinct or something? If you look around in nature you don't
see a lot of animals letting other animals freeload off them or
ruin their school's test scores or rob their liquor stores, do
I'm all for a war on poverty. I think we can
The War on Drugs: The problem as I see it
comes from the fact that people are always pointing to Amsterdam as
an example of a country where drugs are legal and things are ok.
They say that if drugs were legalized in the US that the same thing
would happen here and I agree to a limited degree. That's what
would happen in Idaho and Nebraska. On the other hand both coasts
would immediately go on a three year bender. I have that image of
the sailor kissing the girl in the famous Alfred Eisenstaedt
picture taken on V-J Day in Times Square after the war with Japan
came to an end ... except the guy is on a combination of meth and
ecstasy and he doesn't stop at kissing and he's doing it to
everyone. And 'that guy' is actually every guy in Times Square. And
in New York. State.
Look at the mess we get ourselves in when we
have to try and hide our various appetites. If you ask a shrink
they will say that we all have repressed desires and we'd better
try and keep it like that. If too many of us unrepressed at the
same time there would be long lines around the adult book stores,
the supermarket snack isles would be barren and you couldn't score
a pair of tickets to see the Pink Floyd laser show at the
planetarium at gunpoint.
I do agree that it sucks that we have to pay
all those annoying Central American countries to grow and/or make
our drugs for us, but if we take that away from them then there
will be nothing stopping their populations from exploding. Right
now I think drug lords kill about 30% of their own population every
year, so in a way it all works out.
Although post-prohibition alcohol consumption
argues against it, I do wonder if having any drug you want on hand
at the 7-11 might take away just a little of the appeal of them. Of
course the point would be moot because the 7-11 would be getting
The War on War: Whatever happened to war? You
know, like we read about in the textbooks. A man's war where you
declare it and then just unload on the opponent. When did the
pussies take over? Now we can never unload on anyone and we're
never at war with a country, we're just in a disagreement with
their leader. In the good ol' days we hated the Japs or Wops or the
Krouts. Hated them! Called them horrible names and before every
movie at the local cinema there was a little clip showing their
cities devastated and smoldering away with bodies strewn everywhere
and everyone at the movies cheered.
Now, I can't even bring myself to think about
it. What would our ancestors say? Now we bomb a town and before the
smoke even clears we're back and rebuilding everything on our dime
while our leaders offer their deep sympathies to whomever will
listen! We can never get a war boner anymore.
Doesn't it stand to reason that if a country
is ruled by a leader then that leader is a reflection of the
population? If that's not the case then it is the responsibility of
that population to get their shit straight before that leader does
something stupid like piss off the US. Am I wrong? I just want to
root for us against them. Can you imagine a football game
where after every touchdown the team that scores has to apologize
to their opponent and give them 4 of the 7 points?
I guess you could make the case that we
brought it on ourselves because before the US got involved in wars,
both sides use to just get everyone to line up about ten feet from
each other and fire away until one side ran out of soldiers. We had
to go and pioneer the idea that maybe we'll be harder to hit if we
fire from the trees. Next thing you know our enemies are firing
from schools and hospitals and we're sitting there with both hands
tied behind our backs.
I want to go to war with another big country
and just have at it. Missiles and explosions and tanks and we know
who the bad guys are and we celebrate when we bomb the living shit
out of them. All of them. Just one more big throwdown in my
"One of our stray missiles hit a school bus
filled with disabled seniors? Hooray!"
a growing friendship
I was unaware of the similarities of synapses
of the human brain and the root system of a plant. Obviously one is
far more advanced than the other and their functions are only
similar in the fact that they both move things from one end to the
other. In the case of the brain its chemical signals while the
roots perform the more perfunctory task of providing nutrients but
on some level it's the same.
I should know.
I don't want to pretend to be an expert in
either field but what I can tell you is that a few months back I
got a raspberry seed stuck between my molars so I now know a little
something about synapses and roots and whatnot. You see, I left the
seed there too long and the next thing I knew it actually sprouted.
And took root. In my mouth.
Not as creepy as the fact that after I felt
this discomfort and saw what had happened I not only didn't pick it
out of my teeth but I allowed it to stay there and grow.
Not as creepier as the fact I ate a few
pinches of Miracle Gro plant food. Well, not so much ate as put a
pinch in between my cheek and gums like a big-leaguer ball player.
Tasted like ass but I got to spit and look cool for awhile.
Sleeping was a problem at first due to the
fact that it is crazy painful to have a plant grow into your gums.
I know you think you can imagine it, but you can't. Crazy painful
and it never really gets better. Once it bore through my upper
palette and made its way into my nasal cavity you'd think the worse
would have been over but let me tell you something ... nope. I will
admit that once it was through the bone it did grow faster, though.
It snaked its way up to behind my eyeballs in no time.
That's where the whole synapses/roots thing
comes into play. I know it sounds farfetched but I swear we hooked
up somehow. I actually saw or felt the tiny little ends of the
raspberry bush roots touching some of my neuroreceptors. Tickled
something awful at first.
Did I get superpowers? Not at all and believe
you me I'm as disappointed as you are. I'm not sure what I was
expecting, maybe super tree strength or something, but after weeks
of excruciating pain the payoff was a little on the lame side.
So what did I get? First, I got the
superpower that everything I eat tastes like crap. Or dirt to be
more exact. I was thinking it would taste like raspberries but no
such luck. I haven't been able to eat any raspberries yet as I feel
that it would be somehow wrong. Not exactly cannibalism but close
enough for my liking. I've yet to eat any berry to be honest.
So what else did I get? Well I couldn't
exactly call it talking, but I was empathetic as hell to a hanging
plant outside my front door. Suddenly I knew it knew how much it
hurt me to hear my favorite song Melt With You used in a
Burger King commercial. Even I was unaware of how much this
nauseated me that the band would allow their song to be used to
pitch burgers and french fries, it wasn't until I was standing
there next to my hanging plant that this huge sense of remorse and
angst swept over me and then I felt the plant quiver ever so
slightly in sympathy. I sort of nodded at it and then asked it a
question. Not so much asked as wondered it to myself and felt it
I'd always wondered why it never grew well. I
watered it and took care of it but it was always on the verge of
dying. It never got full and green and never flowered.
Turns out that it keeps looking over the edge
of the pot and seeing the big drop to the ground and thinks to
itself "this can't be right." I laughed and tried to explain that
everything is ok but every time it sways in the wind it knows that
it's not in the ground and that’s unnatural so it can't quite work
up to blooming. When I thought about it I couldn't find any fault
in the logic so I forgave my hanging plant for being a tremendous
And that's really the only power I got for
allowing a raspberry bush to grow inside my head. It has the common
decency not to sprout outside my head or try to grow leaves out my
ears so I see no reason to evict it. It seems content to live
raspberry-less inside my skull and share a higher consciousness
with me so I guess we're stuck with each other.
A superpower would have been nice though.
he blew at blowing
He was just listening to the radio. Not
thinking about anything in particular and humming along to the
Blues Traveler song. Humming and listening and then hearing and
then absorbing and then freezing in his tracks. Listening without a
care in the world up until the part of the song where the harmonica
starts to play.
Harmmmmmonica. The sound of it.
Sweet merciful heavens, he used to play the
harmonica and then he's freezing. Frozen by douche chills head to
foot. A douchsicle.
Where was this compassionate God when he used
to play harmonica? He remembers despite not wanting to, flashbacks
like little tremors in his head. His old friends, the guitar
players, seeing him coming and rushing to stand and throw their
guitars into their cases and flee before he could make his way
over. Fumbling in his pocket to grab his harmonica before they
Harmonica from the Greek harm (to
ruin) and onica (people's enjoyment of music). He sees them
now so clearly, the faces recoiling in disgust and annoyance. Why
didn't he see them then? What twisted influence did the harmonica
have over him that made him blind to the effects of his exhaling
and sucking and twisting his tongue but mostly his sucking? Such
was his level of sucking that he sucked the very irony out of
sucking at sucking.
He remembers buying a large harmonica (as if
the small ones didn't do enough damage) that was double sided.
Different keys. One side he would play when he wanted to sound as
if a elk was being violated in the rectum by a wire brush, the
other for when he wanted to sound like the same elk having his
testicles stepped upon by a steel-toed boot. Better know in the
mouth harp community as the keys of c and d.
Of everyone who had the misfortune of being
within earshot of his wind instrument it was the guitarists for
whom he felt the most regret. His friends who had toiled for years
to get to the place where they could squat under a tree or sit on
some steps and pluck away at some folk song and have pretty girls
gather like moths at the flame to bat their eyes and sigh long
sighs and his friends would play and the sun would shine down and
the birds would respectfully clam up and all was right in the
And then he would come rattling forward with
his pockets filled with harmonicas. By that time he had half a
dozen of different makes and models as if someone would have a
preferences what caliber bullet they wanted shot into their
The Blues Traveler song went on and on and
the memories tormented him like lapping waves, eager to thrust
themselves upon him the moment the last flashback retreated.
His friends the guitarists, and they were his
friends which made the memories that much more painful, would try
and play songs where there was no hint of an opportunity for a
harmonica part. They would hurry through bridges and skip entire
sections or make up words or talk or stop playing all together
until the danger of him starting in on a harp would pass. He would
sit patiently like a musical sociopath suggesting Neil Young songs
with harmonica parts and the assembled females would wrinkle their
noses and make it known to everyone but him, only because of the
mania that somehow took hold of him and made him oblivious to the
obvious dislike of any noise even resembling a harmonica shown by
others, that they disliked the harmonica and the terrible effects
it had on any song that had the bad luck to be on the receiving end
of such accompaniment. He heard them now, why didn't he at the
time? In his head he heard it all as clear as a bell. They would
wonder aloud if he knew that little spit bubbles were forming on
the other side of his harmonica and if he didn't quit playing they
were going to have to throw up behind a nearby tree. He would smile
after a particularly noxious harmonica solo, without realizing that
he'd cut his lip somewhere in the middle of repeatedly slamming the
little steel instrument against his mouth and his teeth would all
be red and his lips swollen and chaffed, and then wonder why none
of the girls would try to slide up close and ask him about his
influences and how often he practiced to become as good as he
Finally John Popper finished up Run
Around and he was able to break free from the terrible trance
and exhale. He hadn't touched a harmonica in ten years but he felt
a little tingle run up and down his spine at the thought of just
how stupid he must have looked playing one. He saw it all so clear
now. Only old black men look cool playing harmonicas.
That's when Middle of the Road by The
Pretenders started. He wasn't getting off that easy this time.
I'm not going to be around forever so I need
to show you how to do this without me. It's really very simple; you
just have to work at it a bit. I'd hate to think if for some reason
I wasn't around anymore that you would stop having pointless
Let me start by walking you through the
process. First you have to start with a premise. Don't put much
energy into this it really doesn't matter. In fact, the more random
and irrelevant the idea the better. Let's say for instance you
think that clowns should start a union.
Now start writing.
It's just that easy.
Once you start writing, whatever you do,
don't stop. As this is your first time I guess some hand-holding is
in order. The first step would be to examine why clowns would need
unions. Remember that no reason is too stupid and it doesn't even
have to make sense. It could be cruel treatment at a circus that
you completely make up or it could be concern for old clowns who
can no longer put in enough hours to make a decent living. It
doesn't matter. And remember, just because you are writing in
defense of clowns is no reason you can't make fun of them. Pointing
out the dilemma of a group of picketing clowns as to whether or not
to wear their whiteface provides you the opportunity to explore
both how silly they would look holding angry signs while wearing
bright painted-on smiles and how rough-looking the clown community
is without make-up. A win-win for the reader. Remember, all you're
doing is putting the basic image in the readers head; it is up to
them to make themselves laugh. If they don't have the imagination
to pick up that ball and run with it then it's on them.
You owe them nothing, always remember that.
It takes the pressure off.
Another key element to writing a pointless
story is to avoid feeling that you can't go for the cheap joke.
Although all clowns are known to wear enormous shoes you should
feel almost obligated to point out that the new leader of the clown
union has big shoes to fill.
See what I did there?
And best of all if you are running a little
light on word count you can revisit this joke any time you like.
Just rifle through every stereotype you know about clowns and cram
them into the story whether they fit or not. Like when thirty
clowns come pouring out of one clown car except in reverse. Take
something as ordinary as a clown throwing a pie into someone's
face. You can transform it into high comedy by replacing typical
union thuggery and making it a 'drive pie.'
Now you're getting the hang of it.
You can even invent different clown unions
that cover hobos, children's clowns, character clowns and even
rodeo clowns. Inventing friction between them is worth at least a
Then, just when the reader is convinced that
he or she knows where the story is headed you'll want to take a
quick turn and change their expectations. Throwing in a quick
quotation like "It seems plausible that folly and fools, like
religion and magic, meet some deeply rooted needs in human society"
will allow your reader to assume for a few seconds that you are
referencing clowns but then realize that you could be making a
profound criticism about unions. You use their intelligence against
them! Of course this quote was about clowns but because your reader
doesn't want to be caught napping they assume you are smarter than
Didn't I say this was simple?
When you are finished you might feel the urge
to go back and change things in order to improve the story. Don't.
It never works. You see your subconscious likes to weave itself
into even the most mundane writing and when you go back and change
things you are letting your conscious mind make all the decisions.
It might be a subtle change but believe me it will change something
that you're probably not even aware of.
Trust me on that.
The ending? Take whatever you are discussing
and try to make a point that the reader has both been expecting all
along and yet does not see coming. You're a writer now, aren't you?
All you have to do is define exactly what that is in as much detail
as you can and then make the observation that you also just did a
pretty good job of describing a clown.
So earlier tonight I'm hurrying around doing
all the things that need to get done before a big storm, the last
of which is to run the recyclables out to the garbage can. It had
to get done because dark clouds sat on the horizon like a fat girl
coming out of a donut shop (what?) and all the local weather
stations had pretty much put the chance of precipitation at 108%.
As I hurled my empties into the can my eye couldn't help but be
drawn to a spider. Not just any spider but a great whopping argiope
aurantia, better known as the Golden Garden Spider and one of three
local species of argiope orb weavers.
As I watched I realized he was just starting
the tedious task of building his web for the night. The ol'
spinneret was cranking out proteinaceous silk like nobody’s
business and those eight arms were feverishly at work putting up
the insect-catching structure. Problem was, the spider was building
the web in between two garbage cans out in the open and it was
about to rain. The spider was not only wasting time and energy but
possibly endangering itself in the process. I did what any normal
person would do when faced with this situation. I drew my face in
close to the busy little araneidae and screamed "it's gonna rain
The little fucktard kept working. Now
normally I am quick to anger at the smallest of nature's creatures
but for some reason cooler heads prevailed and I began to try to
reason with it.
"Listen, you may think you're the shit with
your silk being stronger than steel of the same thickness and all,
but you don't know dick about the weather."
The spider was immune to the effect of my
logic. What was worse was that it had not started to rain yet so in
some strange way I felt like the spider was winning the
"We have technology spider! I know
it's going to rain. Eight legs or not you're going down!"
I was forced to slump down and await the
rains that would bring my inevitable victory. I started to get a
little antsy. This spider was hauling ass and would soon be done.
The seconds turned to minutes and then the minutes turned to tens
of minutes and still no rain. If anything the winds that were
making the web-building process so difficult for our spider were
Apparently the flies and beetles in my local
area had also missed the forecast for the evening because soon the
air was buzzing with activity. No sooner was I waving my hands in
front of my face to keep from inhaling one of the various flying
pests then I glanced down to find my spider nemesis was sitting in
the middle of his finished web. I looked down at my watch. Had I
really been crouched down between my garbage cans for 45 minutes?!
Suddenly I had the feeling I was being watched. Sure enough, after
inspecting his cephalothorax, I found myself staring right into the
eight cold eyes of my yellow and black archenemy. "Why do you even
need eight eyes? People have two and we're doing just fine
don't you think?"
He continued to mock me. Sitting there in his
web. "So this is what we're doing tonight is it, you and me?" I sat
down and got comfortable. "You know this is only for the night,
right? In the morning I'm spraying this whole fucking driveway with
Raid. Every inch."
In slow motion I saw the moth fly by my face
in a wild zig-zag and then head straight into the web.
"What the fuck kind of flying is that? Do you
even know where you want to go or do you just fucking careen around
aimlessly until you end up eaten?"
The moth fluttered briefly in the web but he
was caught. The spider, seemingly without a care in the world,
slowly made his way down the web to his captured prey.
"Not tonight Sunshine!" Quickly I reached
into the web and plucked the moth out of it. "That's right Mr.
Eight Eyed Weather Diviner, no dinner for you."
I tried to release it but the moth was stuck
to my fingers. It still had webbing all over and try as I might I
couldn't get the shit off of it. No use saving it only to leave it
unable to fly and an easy snack for the ants. "Fuck!" Off came a
wing in my hand. "Shit. This is no way to build an insect."
Again I felt the eight eyes upon me.
"You win, you win! Ok?" I tried to flick the
formerly-saved but now not-so-successfully- rescued moth back into
the web but I couldn't get his sticky ass off my finger. White
powdery shit started to get all over my hands. Finally I was able
to brush him off into the web. He didn't struggle. He just lay
there suspended between the garbage cans. The spider didn't move.
Is it possible to motionlessly express disdain?
"Go eat him bitch!"
But the spider contemptuously just sat
The white dot in the web twinkled like an
out-of-place star against the black driveway. As it was the only
one out, I almost made a wish on the squished lepidoptera but
instead I turned and, after telling the spider that I hoped he was
happy, I went to go back inside.
That's when the skies opened up.
I think you'd be hard pressed to find an
industry with a worse reputation than the home improvement crowd.
These independent contractors make used-car salesmen look reputable
And who can blame them?
Is there anything funnier than the idea of
working on someone's home and doing a poor job? If I could do
anything in the world I think I'd be a bad handyman. I am a true
follower, nay devotee, of unconstructionalism.
I'd definitely be a doors and windows
There is just something so awesome about
agreeing to repair someone's front door and then only completing
half the work. Spend the morning taking down the door and then the
frame, going off to the Home Depot to pick up the new door and then
never returning. Just leaving the house with no door. A big hole in
the front so the wind and small animals can just walk the fuck in.
The homeowner assuming that I've gone for lunch and then sitting
there all mad and impotent as the afternoon wears on and there is
no sign of me. Nobody would think that I wasn't coming back.
It would be beyond their ability to process, they would just pace
back and forth and then as the sun sets they would be calling the
porn line I gave them as my phone number. Trying desperately to
explain how I removed their door and didn't return, while at the
same time telling the girl who sounds like she just arrived in the
country via a freight container from Eastern Europe that they are
not interested in what she is wearing.
I would just go home and sit there doubling
over in a fit of glee imagining this poor fuck trying to come up
with some way to barricade the gaping opening in his once-secure
home before a horde of mosquitoes and stinging insects starts to
march in and have at his family.
The look on his face the next morning as he
keeps looking out where his front door use to be waiting to see me
pull up and apologize and put in a door. But I never show. Ever. It
would be completely beyond him to think that I would take down his
front door and not come back. He'd be frozen in disbelief.
He might go six months before he finally accepts I'm not coming
back and he's going to need to hire somebody to fix it. I would be
like some ex-lover in his subconscious. I bet by the end he blamed
himself for me not returning.
If I really worked hard I bet I could remove
both the front door and the sliding glass doors in the back at the
same time. Same disappearing act but now I could imagine the wind
whistling through the house in addition to all the other
unpleasantness I would be heaping on these stupid bastards.
I swear, if I left and an hour later a
terrible storm came through, with driving rain and lashing winds, I
think I might die of joy. Just imaging the family scampering around
trying to block the doors and mop up the rain and wondering where
people get all those sandbags when there are floods, it might just
be too much for my weak heart!
If I somehow came into a boatload of money, I
think I would hire a team of workers. That way I could find
a nice elderly couple and stake them out. Waiting for the day
before the first big snowstorm of the season. Then I could go in
and remove all the doors and windows. Enjoying the tea and
biscuits they would no doubt offer up, knowing that I was hours
away from high-tailing it out of there with all their doors and
windows in my possession. Back to my secret lair like some sort of
hardware Grinch. Reading about them the next day. The two frozen
corpses found sitting in their living room waist deep in a snow
drift. Pictures of their grandchildren buried on the coffee table
where only hours before I had enjoyed a few Gingersnaps and tales
of their exploits in WW II.
That may be the funniest thing I can
physically imagine. The police wondering who the fuck would steal
an old couple's doors and windows. Old people are just gullible
enough to let someone do that. Stupid stupid stupid old people.
They almost deserve to freeze to death in their own living
I guess there is something so inherently
vulnerable about doors and windows. The whole "house is his castle"
thing. Take away the door and it's like his fly is down in public.
Touch his windows and that simple act of fenestration undermines
his mental substrate and threatens to make him lose his
Anyway. I wonder how many people you need to
do this to before you end up with your face all over the TV.
This is not something I wanted to write. It's
been more like a fart I've been trying to hold in while surrounded
by decent company. I’ve been hoping the urge to share this would
pass but instead it grew stronger until I sit down here and it
starts to escape like some metaphorical gas about to pollute anyone
dumb enough to be nearby.
The problem started, like it does every year
around this time, when I see the local boys and girls getting all
dressed up for prom. Why it always leaps into my head I'm not sure
but it does, the powerful realization that it must really suck to
be an ugly girl on prom night.
I'm not saying that life is a party for the
other 364 days but prom must throw some existential spotlight on
Then I saw her. The High Priestess of Ugly.
Poor fucking girl looked just like Tom Petty with a long blonde wig
and two small titties. Not even the Hard Promises Tom Petty
but the right this minute Tom Petty. It wasn't that I was trying
not to stare at her, staring was assumed, I was trying not to have
my jaw hang slack with drool pooling in the corners.
She was outside taking pictures with a group.
That camera was in for a long evening. Then I did a quick
headcount. Five girls. Four boys.
She didn't have a date but was going anyway.
I could have cried. I totally admired her pluck in not letting the
fact that she was too ugly for words stop her from enjoying an
important evening with her friends. That wasn't why the tears were
gathering forces behind my seemingly-impassive eyes.
I was crying for the boys. They had,
unknowingly and against their wills, entered into a game of
cockblock roulette with each other. One of their dates was going to
have to hang out with this ugly girl and keep her entertained. One
of their dates was going to have to take this ugly girl home so
while they all laughed and smiled for the camera they also were
shooting each other looks to see which of these poor
condom-in-the-wallet-hoping-to-be-used bastards it was going to
And all the while she was galloping
around with her Tom Petty face ruining every fucking picture she
was in. You could see the parents trying to invent reasons to
separate the kids for photos so she didn't have to be in them. Each
parents gripping their camera with a "Can I get ONE fucking picture
without that Tom Petty bitch in it?" look on their face.
It sounds as though I'm mad at her when in
fact I'm really not. My heart aches for her carrying around that
face every day. The problem is I imagine that she's the kind of
girl that likes her marshmallows at room temperature so when she is
sitting around a campfire she won't even bother to stick it on a
stick and pretend to roast it for even a second and will just sit
there eating them right out of the bag while everyone else is
dutifully holding theirs over the flames until it inevitably
catches fire or falls in.
See what ugly does? It makes you feel like a
bad person because if the girl is ugly enough you become a
Especially at prom season.
She probably doesn't mind that TV and movies
are fagging up vampires and werewolves.
See? There it is again.
I went to prom. Luckily the world doesn't
mind ugly guys too much. I still remember the blue tux, blue
ruffled shirt and one-size-too-large blue velvet bow tie. What a
fuckin’ mess I was ... but it was ok. There were ugly girls at my
prom to take the heat off me.
But nobody in the league with the girl I was
staring at the other day. I need some sort of mental mint to get
her out of my head. Her face disproved a loving God right there and
then. If someone accidentally shot her they'd walk back and shoot
her in the head just to make sure she was dead.
And probably not do any jail time.
I'm really not as terrible a person as I am
when I see an ugly girl at prom.
economic pep talk
I knew times were getting tight with the
economy and all but I had no idea that things had become generic
cereal bad. As soon as I swung open the back of the station wagon I
saw it. Occupying the space that should have been taken by my
Lucky Charms was a alien box. I couldn’t quite make out what
it was until I picked it up out of the bag that was partially
What in the name of Christ is this? What the
fuck is Magic Stars? I want something that is magically
delicious and I get this? And what the fuck is that on the front of
the box? An alligator floating in space with an astronaut helmet
My head was spinning.
I felt all the strength draining out of me at
precisely the wrong moment. I’m not sure how many other guys do
this but bringing in the groceries is my weekly manly litmus test.
It’s where I make sure that I am still a man. I will look at the
back of the station wagon, see 17 bags of groceries and say “two
I am the Magnus Ver Magnusson of bringing in
groceries. For those that don’t follow the World’s Strongest Man
competition, Magnus is an Icelander who won the competition four
times. Neighbors have noted similarities in how we both move when
carrying large weights … him with 130kg anvils and me with meat,
vegetables and soda. Shuffling up the driveway to the front
So now I sat with at least 15 bags of
groceries before me and my arms hung weakly, dare I say limply, at
my side. Not even Jon Pall Sigmarsson could handle that many bags
knowing the next morning he would be sitting down at his training
table to a bowl brimming with Magic Stars.
I remember when I was a wee lad (the accent
on account of my current fixation with Lucky Charms) times
got tight and generic food started to creep into the pantry. Back
then it at least had the integrity not to try and pass itself off
as a ‘real’ product. When money was in short supply my Mom would
march in with a box that said Cereal on it. That was it.
Cereal. And a green and black stripe on the top. Everything generic
had this green and black stripe. There wasn’t a lame attempt to
disguise it as something other than cereal and there certainly
wasn’t a space-going alligator trying to pass himself off as a real
But now there is no shame. The artwork is
horrible; it looks like the cover art was done by the winner of an
elementary school contest. Even the expression of the alligator is
baffled. Like he’s wondering why he is floating in space, how he
got the helmet on in the first place and who on the distant planet
beneath him would buy a box of cereal emblazoned with his picture.
The alligator doesn’t even have a name.
Seven trips. It took me seven trips to get in
all the groceries. I didn’t even dare peek in to the other bags to
see what horrors they contained. If the Lucky Charms weren’t
sacred I can’t even imagine what else I was bringing into my home.
When I see those old pictures of people from the Great Depression
staring ahead with that sad glazed look I can start to understand
what they were going through.
This is America! We’re better than Magic
Stars! We should be shipping that shit to Africa or something.
How can I get my Mariusz Pudzianowski on fueled by the thought of
some B-grade nameless-reptilian-pimped whole grain oats with
marshmallows? I can’t! Come on economy! We must rebound. We must
recover and rebuild.