Thursday, July 09, 2009

Hero’s Lament

I’d been working the crime beat at the Times for about a month, and as was my typical routine, Grosney and I would retire to a nearby watering hole to drown ourselves in whiskey and commiserate about the state of the world today. A favorite reporter pastime.

Grosney was an old hand in the newspaper business. He could remember the “good old days” as he called them, when he used to set type and the saying “stop the presses!” actually meant something. Sometimes he used to joke that he was there when Guttenberg printed the first bible.

Looking at him, you might forgive his hyperbole. He was in his 70s and he looked it. Decades of heavy drinking and seeing the worst that the city had to offer had etched deep lines across his sunken face. A steady diet of booze, greasy food, coffee and stress had left him thin with a nose the color of a bruised tomato.

“I’m telling you Stu,” he said to me while stirring his drink, “this city is going to shit. Shit!”

I was used to his rants about the state of affairs and I knew how to play my role. “Yeah?” I asked.

“Hell yeah!” He slammed his fist on the bar, almost upsetting the bowl of nuts and earning a cautionary look from Drew, the barkeep. “You’ve only been working at the paper for what, 5 – 6 weeks? You haven’t got a clue!”

He turned to look at me.

“Forty years ago this city was a metropolis. It was a thriving urban center! Back then politicians were honest, beer was cheap and women still had their virtue. You could walk down the street at night without fear of being mugged, raped or killed!”

“It’s not that bad,” I countered. “I think the police do a pretty good job. And of course, there’s Paladin.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. The flying freak in the cape. We were better off before he got here. He’s just as bad as the crooks! I’ve seen him in action before. He was stopping a bank robbery by standing in the middle of the road, stopping the guys from driving away. Everybody remembers the ‘foiled bank robbery’, but nobody remembers the nine-car pile up he caused because his dumb ass decided to just stand in the middle of the friggin’ street!”

“Hey Grosney, keep it down over there, I’m warnin’ ya!” Drew yelled from the other end of the bar.

“Keep your shirt on! I’m done with this place anyway, I got a 8-point column to write about the murder/suicide at the high school this morning,” he replied.

Grosney stood up and threw some money down on the counter. He may have been a little drunk, but years of drinking gave him the experience to be steady on his feet. He turned to me one more time.

“Just remember, this city’s going to hell and that super jack ass is helping it happen. It’d be a better place if he’d just stop playing superhero and let people live.”

After Grosney left, I took my whiskey and decided to find another table to sit at, preferably with more upbeat company.

Drew’s Pub wasn’t a popular place. Thankfully it has stayed undiscovered by rowdy college kids, gangs or other undesirables in the forty years that it’s been open. Drew’s father established the pub back in 1968 and Drew has kept it almost intact when he took over. It has its regulars and it’s a hang out for the newspaper types. There used to be more typewriter jockeys coming in for a drink after a stressful deadline. But with the advent of the internet, newspapers and reporters are a dying breed, rarely seen in nature.

I’ve only been frequenting the bar for the last month, but Drew considers me a semi-regular and I recognize almost everybody in there. So when I saw somebody sitting alone in a corner, his back to the wall, nursing an entire bottle of something, I decided to do the friendly thing and introduce myself to him. Maybe, I thought, he could cheer me up after that talk with Grosney.

I walked over to the table, which was in the darkest part of the bar. It could have been for ambiance, it could have been to keep the patrons from seeing the roaches running around like the owned the place. Either way, I couldn’t really see the stranger’s face.

“Hi there! My name’s Stu. Mind if I join you?”

“Knock yourself out,” he replied.

“So, I don’t think I’ve seen you here at Drew’s before. What brings you down to this dingy basement?”

“I just wanted a break is all. And this seemed like a quiet place where nobody would bother me for a few hours.”

I inferred from his answer that he wanted to be left alone. So, I scooted the chair back to stand.

“Hey, wait…that doesn’t mean I want you to leave,” he said, holding up a hand to stop me. “In fact, I could really use the opportunity to blow off some steam. Do you have the time to listen to a guy get some shit off his chest?”

His grip on my arm was like a vice, the only way out would have been to chew my own arm off. With that in mind, I gingerly sat down, ready to listen to this guy’s story, hoping this wasn’t the prelude to his eventually murdering me. It’s a tough call in this city, you can’t always tell who’s a friend and who’s a psycho.

“Sure man, lay it on me. I’m a journalist, so I’m great at listening to people. It’s my job.” I told him.

“A reporter, eh?” even in the shadows I could see his face twist in contempt. “Well, keep everything off the record and you’ll be fine.”

The threat in the way he pronounced “you” was unmistakable. I started wondering who this guy was and what he had to say.

“Alright, I’m all ears.”

He looked at me for a moment like he either he regretted telling me to stay, or was composing his words. “Listen, Mr. Journalist,” he started off. “Do you remember three weeks ago when there was a blackout on the east side of the city for a few hours?”

I did remember, it was annoying as shit.

“I’m the reason it was only a few hours instead of being an EMP that wiped out the whole coast. And you know what? Nobody thanked me!”

“Well, though it isn’t often expressed, people are very grateful for the electric company and everybody who works there for what they do. Don’t feel bad, I’m sure your boss will give you the recognition you deserve,” I said in consolation.

“What? I’m not an electrician and I don’t work for the electricity company.”

The confusion on my face must have been apparent, because even in the shadows I could see his eyes narrow in frustration.”

“Sigh…Did you notice last summer when gas prices skyrocketed by three dollars for about 12 days?” he asked.

“Sure. I didn’t live in the city then, so I was doing a lot more driving in those days. Just when everybody was getting used to the prices going down, they jumped up again.”

“Do you know why that happened?”

Not wanting to appear fully ignorant about socioeconomic trends on an international level, I used a trick most journalists employ when the questions are turned around on them for a subject they’re not too knowledgeable about: vaguely mumbling an answer. “Well, I assume that…you know…peak oil had reached, ummm, the tipping point of what the, uh…market could bare, vis a vis prices…” I trailed off, realizing that he obviously wasn’t buying it. “I haven’t a clue. Like most people I just assume the oil companies were trying to get as much money from people as they could.”

“Actually, it was my fault. The Devastator was holding the world’s supply of oil hostage and was threatening to destroy it all unless a ransom was delivered by the governments of the world. Unfortunately, during my battle with him, a bunch of oil caught fire. If I hadn’t put it out, all the oil would have burned up. Leaving the world high and dry. Because of me everybody gets to continue using their cars and trucks and commerce can thrive and the world can continue as it is, none the wiser. But nobody thanked me for that either. It’s kind of depressing.”

The Devastator? Ransom? World’s supply of oil? This guy was talking nonsense, I thought to myself. Even at my drunkest I never rambled on like I was some kind of superhero…

That’s when it hit me.

“Holy shit, you’re Paladin!” I yelled out. Then I caught myself and looked around the bar to see if anybody had heard me. Luckily everybody seemed to be lost in his or her own alcohol-fueled world and didn’t hear me. I leaned forward over the table, “holy shit,” I whispered, “you’re Paladin!”

I don’t know why I didn’t notice before. I must have been more inebriated than I thought. Upon closer inspection, it was pretty obvious: the costume, the cape that I had first mistaken for a heavy coat hanging on the back of his chair, the mask that obscured most of his face, accentuating his eyes. Everything that I –and the rest of the world- had seen countless times in newspaper pictures.

“I don’t get it, what are you doing here?” I asked.

“What does it look like? I’m getting drunk.”

“But why?”

“Because I don’t care anymore.” He sounded depressed, resigned.

“I don’t understand,” I said, prompting him.

“You don’t even realize the dozens, if not hundreds, of times I’ve saved your life and the lives of everybody on this damn planet. If you even were aware of how often your existence has been close to snuffed out, it’d blow your naive brain out of your ass. But what’s the point of doing it all if nobody knows? It’s a thankless job.

“Even the countless publicized times I’ve saved people and stopped crimes nobody’s thanked me. I’ve foiled robberies, rapes and murders, redirected the course of rivers, stopped lava from destroying towns and put out raging forest fires, and all without any gratitude from anybody.”

He stopped and took a dip swig from the bottle in front of him. Then he put his face in his hands and shook his head, before looking back at me and continuing.

“I feel underappreciated. People are so used to me being there to catch falling babies and punching crooks in the face that they just take it for granted that I’ll do the hero thing. The general populace often forgets that I don’t get paid to do this. I’m just a volunteer.

“You know, I wonder if people would even notice if I just quit. If one time I didn’t show up to save the day. Do you think they’d care then?” His voice started to increase in volume. “Would I even be missed?!”

“Of course you’d be missed!” I quickly said, hoping to calm him.

As quickly as it came, the anger drained from his face. “I don’t ask for much,” he said, his voice quivering, his eyes on the table. “I don’t want a reward, or anything. I’m not trying to get laid by being a hero! I just want to feel appreciated. I would like people to thank me for doing this out of the kindness of my own damn heart.”

It pained me to see Paladin like this. It was also awkward. I had never really considered the human side to the superhero. In a way, he was right. I did take for granted that he’d be there to save the day whenever we needed him, and I’m sure others did too. It never even crossed my mind to wonder what he wanted, or what he thought about things or what he did in his free time.

“I see your point Paladin. Maybe people don’t thank you enough for what you do. Maybe they do kind of take you for granted. But you want to know why? It’s because they know you’ll always be there. They know that no matter what happens, Paladin can make things better. You’re a rock. You bring so much security and peace of mind to the world it’s incredible. People go to and from work, go to sleep, get married, have kids and live their lives feeling safer simply because you exist. You can’t take that security away from the world, it goes so deep it’s ingrained into everything we do!”

He looked up at me then, questioning, almost like he was willing to believe my words. Or maybe that was just me being hopeful.

“If that doesn’t change your mind, think about this: even if you think the people you save take you for granted, I can tell you who doesn’t; criminals. If you take just one day off, they’ll notice. If you aren’t a superhero for yourself, or for the people who need you, then be one for those who will take advantage of your absence!” I said, somewhat accusingly.

For a few minutes he was quiet, lost in thought. Occasionally he’d look at me as if searching my face for the truth of my words, but mostly he’d look down at the table. Finally, he poured himself a drink in the glass next to the bottle. He raised the glass to his lips but stopped an inch short. He once again looked me in the face.

“Maybe,” is all he said.

He then stood up a little shakily, pushed the chair away from the table and slowly, (but still managing to do it heroically) walked out of the bar without looking back at anybody.

It was the first and only time I met Paladin. I don’t know what the conversation meant to him. I’m not sure he remembered my name or if I was just another one of the faceless thousands he’s saved over the years. But I like to believe that ever since then, every time I read or write a story about him rescuing people from a burning building, or stopping kidnappers from absconding with some child, that maybe he thought of my words while he was doing it. Maybe he knows that not everybody takes him for granted and if even one person appreciates him, then he can never quit.

It’s the only thanks I can give him.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Last Train Downtown

It took him an hour and forty-seven minutes to fully dispose of the body. He hadn’t counted on the bone being so tough to cut through. Using the cleaver hadn’t been the bright idea he thought it would be. It hacked in big, uneven pieces from the bone and left the muscles and fat a bloody mess.

He was pissed that his favorite movies had lied to him about how easy it was to kill and then get rid of the corpse as if the victim had never existed. It hadn’t been so simple in real life.


****


Finding a person to kill wasn’t hard. They were everywhere and their very presence annoyed him and constantly brought about headaches. He started to feel a headache forming in the front of his temples, so he popped an Advil and began his search for somebody to make famous posthumously.

He hung out around bus stops and rode the subway with his eyes peeled for a suitable test case. He found it very amusing that he went underground to find his victim. Because he knew that in death, whomever he met would never feel the cool, loving embrace of the earth as a final resting place.

He quickly pushed his morbid thoughts to the side as the train pulled into the station and he spied the homeless man on the metro platform. He tried to stifle a giggle as he stepped out of the subway train and headed toward the indigent man.

The first thing to do, is gain this man’s trust, he thought. Once that’s achieved the rest should be cake. He stepped up to the man who was sitting down with his back to the wall. He studied the bum, watching how his prey acted and moved. The homeless man was busy warming himself with a freshly bought cup of coffee. He was wearing a hooded sweatshirt that looked as if it would fit better on a ten-year-old. His jeans were faded so much that the original color was untraceable. Over the sweatshirt he had a black overcoat most probably bought or stolen from a secondhand clothes shop. He worse a pair of dirty gray sneakers and a coonskin cap, which contrasted the rest of the clothing, completed the outfit.

He pulled out a twenty-dollar bill and presented it to the man sitting on the floor. The bum looked at the money with much interest. He explained to the bum that he was in need of somebody to do a job for him. He had three dogs back at his apartment that needed walking and he was unable to do so himself due to previous commitments. The lie wasn’t carefully planned; his mind raced on the sport and this was the best he could come up with. He decided in his head that he would have to prepare his lie for the next time.

After convincing the bum to follow him, he made his way toward the surface streets with the bum in tow. As the passed by a police car he made eye contact with the cop inside. The policeman nodded at him and turned to working on a crossword puzzle that was in his lap.

They walked for twelve blocks, the homeless man shuffling along, avoiding eye contact with everyone, the other lost in his own thoughts. He could feel the sweat starting to form under his arms and on his brow. He knew that in this cold weather sweating was quite a feat. He was almost unable to control his energy and the bum soon had to jog to keep up.

Once they made it back to the apartment he began to question his motivation. Should he really go through with killing this man who had never done anything to him? Should he take a life for no better reason then to see what it was like? Once he began to think of how much power he could have he grew a broad smile and his mouth turned very dry. He wanted to kill so badly that he began to hop around in place, and almost ran into the bathroom where the bum was relieving himself, so that he could kill him as soon as possible. He hoped that by ending this man’s existence he would be able to stop the headaches that seemed to be coming more and more frequently. But he held back so that he would be able to plan better.

He was not as well prepared as he had believed himself to be. What he wouldn’t do for a gun or at least a nice chainsaw or power saw. He ran into the kitchen and began to tear the room apart for a good weapon. The carving knife? No, too much work. The electric carving knife? No, the cord wasn’t long enough to do any real damage. A big two-pronged fork? No, not quick enough. A cast iron skillet? No, too heavy. The cleaver!

He tucked the cleaver into the back of his pants and went into the living room to wait for his victim.


****


That was almost two hours ago. The man had made it hard; he put up a good fight. Better then he thought the guy would. His place was a mess, the living room couch was overturned along with the coffee table which now had several deep cuts in its top. The wall by the front door was splattered with blood from when the bum had almost escaped. There was a hole about head height where the cleaver had gone through his next and became stuck in the plaster. The kitchen floor was a mess of various cutting implements and utensils, tossed about is if by a localized tornado.

But the worst room of all was the bathroom where it looked as though
Hannibal Lector had stopped by and decided to redecorate the walls with human blood. The bathtub was filled with dismembered body parts. A foot was hanging over the side and the shoelace was swaying back and forth over the linoleum, tracing lines in the pool of blood that had gathered in front of the tub.

As for damage to himself, the man had a bruise on his stomach from where the bum had surprised him with a punch that knocked the wind out of him. He was also somewhat out of breath from chasing the bum around the apartment. He vowed to started getting back into shape to improve his physique and to deter those who would fight back.

He had considered many different ways to get rid of the body. But in the end he decided to put the pieces into garbage bags. He then took the bags to the roof of his building. As he stood and looked over the city he felt revulsion. He realized how much he hated the general populace of the city and even the rest of the state. He had gone through an ordeal in the last few hours, but he felt that it was worth it. If he could fid the city of its population, even one at a time, then he was going what needed to be done, and he felt good about that. He knew deep in his heart that he was doing important work, but it was also fun and that made him feel even better.

He turned around and put the bags into a little shack that housed as assortment of cleaning and lawn maintenance implements. The cold weather would mask the smells of decomposition until the spring.

He locked the door behind him and begin to walk back into the building, leaving red footprints in the clean, white snow.

Once he got inside the headache began again. He reached into his pocket, pulled out in Advil and continued down the starts.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Forgotten Heroes of Yore: Clair Huxtable




Too often in past entries of the Heroes of Yore series, we have ignored the contributions of women in the field of awesomeness. Some might say that’s because women haven’t done anything awesome since they invented the “ménage a trios,” but I disagree, I personally thought “2 Girls, 1 Cup” was pretty awesome if you’re in the soft serve ice cream industry.

Regardless, women have made great strides over the last few decades. Shaved vajayjays, breast implants, anal bleaching, booty augmenters, tight clothes, dresses so short you can tell how dilated her cervix is, these are all great things that have truly helped the human race to flourish to the point where we now need to implement roving death squads to keep population rates low, (at least that’s how I’d do it if I were the president!)

Setting the way for the modern, 21st century woman, was a great lady who was an inspiration for people with vaginas around the world! I am, of course, talking about Clair Huxtable.

During the 80s and 90s, Clair Huxtable was a beacon of light, a modern day Statue of Liberty, shining hope across the globe every Thursday at 8, (7 central). Her life was an example to everybody, regardless of sex. She proved that a woman could run a tight ship at home and be successful at work, simultaneously.

Clair Olivia Hanks Huxtable, (nee Clair Olivia Hanks Gunderson) was born in Greenwich, Connecticut, in 1950. She grew up in a loving and supportive household with her parents and three siblings, (two brothers and a sister). I say supportive, because Clair’s parents were very open-minded. When one of her brothers wanted to be a rodeo clown, they were fully behind his enrollment into Emmett Kelly’s Klown Kollege of North America.* When her sister wanted to be a performance artist on the mean streets of Skokie, Illinois, their parents were the first to help her pack her bindle and send her off along the train tracks to find her future. When her other brother wanted to be a dish washer in a Mexican restaurant, her parents helped him sneak into Mexico as an illegal immigrant to work.

Things weren’t as easy for Clair though. Her parents seemed hesitant to help her when she decided to be a lawyer. So, she decided to set off on her own to start a life in the legal system. She left home and moved to New York City, where she attended the South Brooklyn School of Some Lawyer Shit.**

It wasn’t easy for Miss Gunderson trying to make her way through school while also working part time in a giant mouse suit at a nearby children’s pizza parlor. She spent 14 hours a day dealing with little brats trying to drown her in ball pits or shoving slices of pizza down her breathing hole. And at night she went to school to better herself and reach her goal. It was a hard and defining time in her life. Clair was able to study, work and live in a big city at a time when women were too scared to leave their kitchens for fear of becoming up-to-date on current events, (which was strictly taboo, for current events were a man’s business in those days.)

While at a hospital one day, getting treated for knife wounds she received from some ten-year-old who didn’t like onions on his pizza, Clair met her future husband and all-around clown, Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable. A short wooing period occurred wherein Cliff made it clear to Clair that were she to join in a civil union with him they’d both have a lot of money, a lot of kids, a nice brownstone in the nice part of Brooklyn, (which is about as realistic as having a summer place in Brigadoon) and each week they’d have some wacky adventures, where they’d learn from their children almost as much as they teach them. Each adventure would be wrapped up in under 30 minutes and would bring them closer together as a family.

This sounded like the cat’s pajamas to Clair, so she immediately married Cliff, cut off all ties to her family and quickly jumped into bed to get impregnated by her new, rubbery-faced husband.

Over the course of the 70s, Clair pushed out five children. Four daughters and a son. They all grew to be well-adjusted, creative and smart children, (except for the second oldest daughter, who turned out to be some kind of hippy who dropped out of college, after one year, to marry Lenny Kravitz).

With Clair’s help, her children grew up healthy, intelligent, funny and well-rounded. It was her dedication to her many children that made the Huxtables such an excellent-functioning family unit. Even with the 90-hour work weeks, Clair was never too busy or too tired to come home and praise her daughter Rudy for her latest macaroni collage, or to help dyslexic Theo get through his English homework. The rest of the kids were on their own though.

It wasn’t easy being a lawyer, a mother of five, the wife of a ridiculously goofy doctor and a sex symbol in the 80s, (you better believe she was!) but Clair Huxtable managed to pull it all off in style, while staying at the top of the Neilson’s for five years. She has been the role model for many women in this day and age. She has inspired women of all races to work hard, marry rich and to look down on others of their own race while simultaneously decorating their homes with art work from the lower classes, as if to reaffirm their cultural roots. She should be honored with statues, her face on money and an official holiday! Something like, Clair’s Reverse Pregnancy Day, where all men get to spend the day pretending to be pregnant so they can see what it’s like. (And hilarity ensues.)

So, next time you see somebody like “Octomom” or Kate “My Stomach Looks Like Ground Zero” Gosselin, just remember that a fictional, television mom did it first and did it better, even though she was hampered by having a full-time job, being black and enjoying jazz.

And now, a Haiku:

Clair is as Gaia
Earth mother of Huxtables.
What a bunch of goofs.



*With satellite campuses in Luxembourg and Borneo.

**Not affiliated with the North Brooklyn School of Some Lawyer and Gangster Shit (NBSSLGS).

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Can’t take me nowhere

I’m quick to get annoyed in public.

When I’m out, around people, I get frustrated faster than a redneck looking at interracial porn.

I don’t know what it is, but when you get me outside I suddenly lose all pretenses of patience when dealing with The Great Unwashed. All of the small things that people let roll of their backs, or just don’t pay attention to, become great big glaring affronts to my delicate sensibilities.

I grew up as a loner. My father is a loner, as is his father before him, his father before him and his father’s barber’s roommate before him. I come from a long line of autonomous, indivisible, solitary, strapping and handsome men from down the ages.

We prefer sitting alone, reading a book and contemplating the very nature of the universe, over going out to a loud sporting event with a bunch of drunken slobs.
We’d rather recline peacefully, enjoying our favorite recording of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Scherzo in D Minor, over going to a noisy, sweaty concert with thousands of other poorly-gyrating, screaming fans.

We’d rather chill in the crib, watching “Meerkat Manor” on Animal Planet, over spending time in a zoo, packed in with hundreds of snot-nosed, screaming little punks with no sense of how to behave in public and who are just begging for the back of my hand to shut them the HELL UP FOR THE LOVE OF CHRIST!#@$%!

Get my point?

Sure part of it is me. I have very little tolerance for stupidity and oafishness. But also I feel that it’s simply people in general and Americans in particular, (unless I’m at the airport, then I see just how pervasive an attitude of douchbaggery is around the world).

People are so damn inconsiderate! These days it’s very rare for people to think about others around them when going about their daily lives. Everybody is so focused on themselves that they just take it for granted that the rest of the world revolves around them too. How else do you explain cell phone drivers who go 15 miles under the speed limit, straddling two lanes without ever using a turn signal, then give you an evil look when you get around them, as if it’s your fault they’re inconsiderate bastards? Or those people who, in the middle of a crowded corridor, walk slower than a mummy on muscle relaxers, then decide to just stop, causing a ten-person pile up behind them?

At first I would see something annoying, like a person standing in a doorway, blocking foot traffic in two directions, and I’d sigh in my head or smile vacantly as I wait patiently for the chance to walk by. Now I’m just as likely to walk up to that person and punch them in the throat until they crumple on the floor in a heap of quivering pain.

Now I’m probably an embarrassment to the people who go out in public with me. I make a nuisance of myself and draw attention to the folks I’m with even when I’m sober!

Bob: “Hey Josh, I know she took ten minutes trying to pay for her Big Mac with a check, thereby slowing down the rest of the line and causing us to be late for that thing we’re going to, but could you please let go of the submission hold you have her in? She’s turning blue.”

Joshua: “Aaaararrrrahhhh!!”

Bob: “And maybe return her Endocrine System to her?”

Joshua: “JOSH SMASH!!”

Bob: “Also, we might want to get out of here before the cops come to check out the wheelchair you lit on fire and threw out the window.”

I can’t help myself. When I see somebody doing something wrong or stupid or just plain asinine I have to say something. I have to draw attention to this person and their inconsiderate ways.

Just yesterday, I was at Safeway, (stocking up on tampons, hemorrhoid ointment and Sudafed*) when I walked out into the parking lot and saw a shocking sight.

Some old person car, (and I knew it belonged to an old person because it was the same size and as well armored as a WWII sub) had taken over a parking space in a half. It made my blood boil. So I sat there and waited until the offending driver (a little old man, stooped and wizened) came out of the store. At which point I addressed him:

“You’re obviously old, and no doubt feeble and with diminished mental capacity, but are you an idiot too?”

The man looked at me incredulously, as if he hadn’t heard what I said. “Excuse me?” he asked.

“I asked if you were an idiot. I mean, who taught you to drive, Ray Charles? That’s the shittiest parking job I’ve seen all day! What’s wrong with you?”

Of course, nobody (especially not ye olde geriatrics) ever believes that somebody would talk to them like that without provocation, so instead of responding he just gave me a look and shuffled off to his Oldsmobile Tank. I shook my head ruefully and went about my day.

I don’t mean to be like this, it’s just my nature. But I know I’m not alone. There are others like me out there. People who still think that we should be considerate for each other in public; holding open doors, saying please and thank you, being courteous, being respectful** and just plain looking out for each other. And I’d like to think that I speak for those who can’t or don’t. I am fighting to make the world a better place!

Or maybe I’ll just stay at home from now on.



*For the Meth Lab, of course!


**And yes, I see the hypocrisy of me advocating respect after relating a story where I tell some old person off. But what can I say? I had to fight fire with fire.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

DC Ink

“This is your first one, right?”
“Yes.”
“And you’re sure you want it on your hand?”
“Yes.”
“And you want it to be this word?”
“Yes.”
“This…misspelled word?”
“Sigh, yes.”
“And you know it’s permanent, right?”
YES!”
“Are you sure you…”
AAAAARRRGGGGGHHHH!” I said as I jumped across the counter and ripped the guy’s head from his colorfully tattooed neck, throwing it out into the busy street below.
***
And so went my experience getting my first tattoo. Sure I didn’t actually rip dude’s head off, but it was pretty tempting. Either that or ripping out those big ass earrings in his ears like all those Indians were wearing in Apocalypto.

I’ve tried getting a tattoo before, but obviously, could never commit to it. It’s always the same reasons: it’s permanent; it could affect my career choices when I’m older, it might look stupid, not exactly sure where to get it, too much money and I’m not sure that professing my membership in NAMBLA will help me out in the lady department.

The closest I came was going to a tattoo parlor in Clarksville, Tennessee, (town motto: Only 68 percent of our strippers have C-Section scars!) with my sister. The place was complete chaos and was organized about as well as Ellis Island. Disheartened by the whole process we instead opted to wait until we could find a better place.

Fast forward three years or so and we find ourselves outside of a place called “Curious Tattoo” in College Park, Maryland, (town motto: We don’t know the meaning of “underage drinking”!) ten minutes after 1 p.m. The reason we were outside was because, though the sign on the door said the place opened at 1, the door was still locked, because nobody had shown up yet.

Really though, how difficult must it be to be somewhere at 1 p.m. on a Saturday? I mean, the place already opens at a random, stupid ass time, how can you be late for that?


Tattoo Jerk: Yawnnn! (checks bedside clock) Oh wow, it’s already one! Oh well, I’m already late, I might as well get another four hours of sleep.


My sister tried to warn me when we arrived. Appointments were a hit or miss thing at these places. The key was so show up before a line forms. We thought that we had managed to do just that. But nothing is so cut and dry in a tattoo parlor!

You know what would simplify things? 1) a numbered-ticket system, like they have at the DMV, and 2) somebody who runs the counter who isn’t a tattoo artist or piercing artist. Because when they’re busy in the back drawing random things on people, the front area keeps getting more and more full of people wandering around. And who is to say who came first? Who’s to say who has an appointment?

I get that the whole concept of tattoos is about being a rebel, a non-conformist and all, but it doesn’t have to be such mayhem! One can be a rebel without being an anarchist. Don’t tattoo parlors have business models? Do they get together for annual conferences where they attend such lectures as “How to make people wait in your office for three hours for no good reason,” “Making up random, expensive prices on the spot while keeping a straight face,” and “Tips to undermine your potential clients’ desires.”

It’s that last one that really pisses me off. I dig that they want to make sure people coming in actually want what they want, where they say they want it, but there are better ways of doing it. The guys at the place I went to acted like they were lawyers, cross-examining everybody who came in. They were practically telling people not to get what they wanted. I couldn’t tell if it was because they all studied how to be tactless jerks in some sort of class*, or if they were just lazy and didn’t want to do a lot of work. I bet it was a little from column A, and a lot from Column B.

Truly, it’s frustrating. You finally decide what you want and where you want it, (after days, weeks, months or years of deliberation) you psych yourself up enough to do this thing, (because when you think about it, in this day and age, a tattoo is more of a commitment than marriage. Isn’t that wacky?) and when you show up with a hesitant, yet optimistic smile on your face, some Mohawk wearing freak with barely an inch of uninked skin left on his face asks you if you’re sure you want a tiny ass heart with “MOM” on your left bicep (or something similar)!

Do you think Mike Tyson had to go through that bullshit when he got his face tatted? I bet he didn’t. He probably ripped the guy’s tongue out so he couldn’t say anything or offer any advice. I think I’ll do that next time. It’s much easier than trying to pull heads off.


*Tactless Jerkishness 101, offered at the University of Maryland up the street.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Wanna go see a movie?

Then you should read the latest installment of: Reviews of Movies I haven’t seen yet. It’s been awhile since my last review entry and I felt like I should share my expert advice with the two and a half people who still read this damn thing. These are all movies that are being released today. Ready? Groovy.


Angels & Demons
, (P.G.-13): Starring Forrest Gump and Obi Wan Kenobi, Angels & Demons is the prequel (at least the book it was based on was a prequel. I’m not too sure what they’ll do with the movie) to Dan Brown’s controversial (and trite) novel The DaVinci Code. This time around, Tom Hanks and his goofy hair are wandering around Vatican City trying to fight the Illuminati, (the secret cabal, not one of the 8 thousand albums that Tupac released after his death) for purposes that escape me for the moment, but I believe have something to do with the Pope and anti-matter.

Like the previous movie, Angels & Demons is full of secrets, pseudo-religious mumbo jumbo and questionable historical accuracy. You can be sure for an M. Night Shaymalan-style twist at the end where you find out that somebody you thought was the good guy is actually just an imaginary haunted soda can or something like that. If you enjoy being one of those people who gets their information solely from what they see on tv or in movies, and completely believes what they’re told without doing any research on their own, then this could be the movie for you!

Anvil! The Story of Anvil (Not Rated): Anvil! (By the way, never trust a movie with an exclamation point in the title) is the documentary of some rock band from the 70s or 80s or whatever, who are trying to regain the fame they used to have (or think they used to have) back in the day, while battling the fact that they’re a bunch of old, depressing farts who should have just gone out and bought fast cars for their midlife crises, instead of fooling themselves into thinking anybody missed their music.

If you like documentaries about people you’ve never heard of, but that the director is desperate for you to know about, then this is right up your alley. But if you’re a fan of music then you might want to skip this movie, because it might kill any chance rock had of making a mainstream comeback. Of course if Jack Black were in the flick, that’d be a different story. But he’s not, so don’t waste your money.

Management (R): This is a romantic comedy with Steve Zahn and Jennifer Aniston. Firstly, since I have a penis I can already tell you that I’m personally not going to waste my time going to a romantic comedy. Secondly, since it has a pairing that makes no sense (Steve Zahn and Jennifer Aniston? I haven’t seen such a mismatch since Clerks II, where Brian O’Halloran ended up with Rosario Dawson. Blasphemy!) I will have to pass on this movie. Thirdly, Jennifer Aniston is overrated and not funny, which is also why I won’t go see this movie.

Since this is a romantic comedy, it doesn’t require a plot. All you need to know is that the protagonists meet in some kind of oddball way in the beginning and it probably ends with somebody running through an airport looking like a total doofus. Don’t go!

There aren’t that many movies coming out this week, so I’ll finish with a flick that’s already out but I haven’t seen, because it looks lame,

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (P.G.-13): I will admit right off the bat, I’m not an X-Men fan. I find them all to be a big bunch of whiners and it’s really nothing more than a soap opera with super powers.

That said, X-Men Origins: Wolverine stars Hugh Jackman as an Australian/Canadian mutant with facial hair problems and pointy knuckle bones. He lives for a long time and enjoys fighting. He fights mutants, he fights regular people, he fights the power, he fights his brother and he fights for his right to party. Along the way he hangs out with Will.i.am from the Black Eyed Peas, and manages to not punch him in the face for all the crap music he’s released this decade. There’s probably a plot in there somewhere, but since the fanboys are going to the theater to either love or loath the big screen version of their favorite “hero”, the plot doesn’t really matter. Hell, the whole movie doesn’t matter. Save your money and go to a nearby field to watch grass grow. It’s cheaper and probably more interesting.

That’s it from the balcony this week, (can I be sued for using that line? I’d hate to fight Ebert in court. Unless he’s dead, in which case, bring it on!). Join me next time when I do a review of operas I haven’t seen, (here’s a hint: it’s all of them!)

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

WWJD?

By the time the sun managed to bully its way through my dust-covered blinds and rouse me from my passed out stupor, it was about mid afternoon. I knew this because I was able to move my head the three inches required to see the clock from my position on the floor.

Christ my head felt like shit! It was probably a consequence of finally being sober for the first time in 10 days. My mouth tasted of cigarettes, vomit, Taco Bell and ass. Not quite sure why on the last one. My clothes carried the stains of an almost two-week narcotic and alcohol binge. Yellowed sweat stains, dried beer, stale urine and who knows what else, created a disgusting map all over my body. I hadn’t changed in days.

I couldn’t stand to feel the way I did. Sobriety is bullshit!

I managed to pull myself up on my elbows and knees and dragged my mangy body to the kitchen table.

All out of coke.

All out of weed.

All out of hash.

All out of ‘shrooms.

All out of opium.

Christ, all out of booze!

This wouldn’t do at all. Hell, even the tube of airplane glue was empty, having been huffed to death days earlier. The bottle of Adderall was empty, its contents swallowed in an orgy of booze and pills. I had nothing left. Nothing! I licked the dirty table top, trying to glean every last particle of cocaine from the surface. All I got were old crumbs, lint and a couple of pubic hairs.

If I didn’t score something soon I was going to start going through withdrawal. Not a pretty sight. There was only one option: I was going to have to leave my shitty apartment and go to Raul’s for the hook up.

I managed to change my shirt, but didn’t worry about the pants. I figured Raul’s place would be too dark for the stains to show.

Then I went to the medicine cabinet and grabbed the rubbing alcohol. I hated having to do this, but it was all I had and I needed to get messed up. I took the bottle into the kitchen and hunted around in the garbage until I found the least moldy piece of bread I had, which wasn’t saying much because it was still moldy as shit. Then I filtered the rubbing alcohol through the bread into a glass. I didn’t get much, just a little over a shot’s worth, but it was alcohol, so I pinched my nose and gulped it down. It burned and tasted like shit going down my throat, but it warmed me and returned some life to my wasted body.

I threw on a coat and left the apartment, lighting a cigarette as I hopped down the steps, two at a time, avoiding the trash. It was only two blocks to Raul’s squalid apartment and the weather wasn’t too bad, (though I had been tweaked in my apartment for so long that I had almost forgotten what season it was) so I made it there in ten minutes without any problem.

Though I say “apartment” in actuality, Raul was squatting in an abandoned textile factory. The building was really old and super worn down. I hated going there and dealing with all the crap, but it was worth it, because everybody new that Raul always had the best shit!

I walked around the building to a door on the side that I knew to be broken. I kicked it open and stepped into the feted darkness. Old malt liquor bottles broke under my feet and senses were assaulted by the stench of the place. The smell was so cloying and thick that it felt like was alive and trying to force its way into my body to rot me from within. I gagged momentarily, but was quickly able to recover and moved deeper into the building. Christ it stank!

I knew that Raul had taken a room in the far part of the building for his apartment. I think it used to be the foreman’s office on the second floor where he could overlook his workers. So I trundled through the dark maze to get to Raul.
I had to step over the other people who made this decrepit building their home. Some were awake but too high to move. Their eyes darted to and fro, as if watching an invisible tennis game. Some were passed out, bottles of booze in their hands, or with rubber bands still tied around their arms, lying in puddles of their own waste. Some may have been dead, but I couldn’t tell because everybody smelled of death there and I didn’t slow down to find out.

Everywhere I looked I saw people trapped in their own private, narcotic-induced worlds. Some of those worlds looked to be paradise, some looked to be hell. While walking past a bathroom I saw a man attempting to shave his head with a broken bottle. Blood dripped down his face, into his ears and eyes, but it didn’t stop him from cutting and it didn’t stop him from laughing with glee as he did it.
Raggedy dogs littered the halls, their ribs showing through their malnourished bodies. There were some cats as well. I even think I saw a dog decomposing in a corner. I knew that some of these animals were strays and that some were pets. I also knew that some were food. From some far off room wafted the smell of cooking meat.

I walked through this wretched community with a goal in mind. I didn’t stop to contemplate the pathetic display of inhumanity that surrounded me, because I really didn’t care. In fact, if my plan succeeded, I might soon be joining them. A thought that filled me with equal amounts of dread and elation.

I finally reached the stairs and climbed them to Raul’s apartment/office. Inside I found him and three other people sitting around a table, playing poker. He saw me and smiled, I was in luck! I bought two grams of coke, an eighth of weed and even a few pills of undetermined origin or use. The real treat was the PCP, I hadn’t had any of that in months!

As I turned to leave the room and get the hell out of the building as fast as possible, I noticed a guy lying in the corner. He looked familiar, so I walked up to him for a closer look. It wasn’t as dark in that room as the rest of the building, but he was lying in the darkest corner. On closer inspection I could see that he was a swarthy man, maybe of Middle Eastern or Ethiopian descent. His hair was long, but matted and knotted. He obviously hadn’t washed it or taken care of it in a long time. His beard was in the same ratty condition, with chunks of vomit clinging to the hairs. He was wearing a white robe, which seemed an odd choice to me, with sandals. There were track marks up and down his arms and a needle was still sticking in his left arm. His eyes were glazed and unfocused. He was in heroin heaven.

I couldn’t place where I knew him from. Christ his face was familiar! Wait…Christ? Jesus Christ? Could it be? There’s no way!

I kicked him into coherency. His eyes focused on me and he ran his tongue across his dry, crusty lips, getting ready to speak.

“Quit saying my name in vain jack ass!” he managed to croak before passing out again.

“Jesus,” I said, shaking him awake again. “Jesus! What the hell are you doing here?!”

“Everybody knows Raul has the best shit!”

Damn, I guess I just found religion in this shithole.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

An apple a day keeps the Iron Chef away

How do I get myself into these things?

I love cooking. I enjoy messing around in the kitchen, dabbling with ingredients, experimenting with flavors and dumping an ass-load of salt on everything. None of that stuff means that I’m a good cook, yet people keep making that mistake. Jeffery Dahmer was a bit of a culinary enthusiast himself, but he had a hard time filling seats during his dinner parties.

Anyway, other than a few years of short order cook experience, I was never really trained in the culinary arts. I just watch hella Food Network. Man, you can pick up a lot of kitchen science just watching Alton Brown do his thing. It seems watching tv is all it takes. I guess that means if I watch enough kung fu movies I’ll learn Cantonese and the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique.

Watching television also introduced me to the wonderful Japanese program “Iron Chef,” which I’ve talked about in an earlier entry. This show inspired me and my friends to try our own Iron Chef competition, two years ago, which has been chronicled in an older Eighty-Four Glyde, (don’t expect to get a link to that. Find it your damn self! It’s got pictures!) wherein I completely trounced my opponent in “Battle Potato.”

The downside of this is that after my victory, the myth of my being a good cook became more concrete. Plus, people felt the need to challenge me (half-heartedly, full of bravado, but lacking any real substance) to cooking competitions all the time.

Fools jump up to get beat down. Sigh.

A few weekends ago, my compadres and I were finally able to coordinate our ever-expanding circle of influence to make another Iron Chef battle happen again. This time, my friend Diddi decided to challenge me in the kitchen. He wrote his own death warrant!*

For those too lazy to read about my previous battle, are who aren’t familiar with the rules, let me give a quick rundown of how our Iron Chef works:

1. There are two competitors and three judges.

2. Each competitor is allowed to cook in their own kitchen. They have two hours in which to prepare at least three dishes utilizing a secret ingredient.
3. One judge will show up at each contestant’s kitchen at an arranged time and reveal the secret ingredient. The judge will spend the two hours making sure the competitors follow cooking rules.

4. The competitors are not allowed to leave the kitchen to purchase ingredients. They have to make due with what they already own. However, they are allowed to look up recipes online, (because really, none of us are really chefs. We don’t have rolodexes of recipes in our brains).

5. At the end of the two-hour cooking time. Both contestants and both judges have an hour to get to the third judge’s kitchen, (which is our designated “Kitchen Stadium”) with their dishes ready for presentation.

6. All dishes are judged based on three criteria: taste, presentation and use of the ingredient. Each judge can award up to 100 points for all three categories.

Once the tasting is over, the judges retire to another room to…judge. Meanwhile, the nervous-as-shit competitors and whomever else came to see the show, get to hang out and enjoy food and good drink.
***
The knock on my door came a few minutes before 4 p.m., the official starting time. I let the judge in and began to gather all the cook books in my kitchen, in anticipation of the secret ingredient. At 4:02, the judge revealed a big, heavy bag which contained the ingredient. I figured I was ready for most things. I had themes and dishes in my mind based on if it was an herb, a veggie, a starch, a meat, a liquid or whatever else it could be. Turns out I wasn’t as prepared as I thought.

Imagine my surprise when the judge (my boy Big Frizzle, as he likes to call himself) tipped over the bag and dumped many pounds of apples on my floor. Apples! Red apples! Green apples! And hybrid, interracial apples whose parents had jungle fever! My mind reeled. I had no idea what the eff to do with apples. It’s an autumn ingredient during the burgeoning days of spring. The judges were crazy!

I quickly looked through my cookbooks and online, I wrote a hasty menu and proceeded to get to work in the kitchen. Drenched in sweat and paprika, the two hours sped by in a blur. The time was only marked by my occasional break with a glass of apple brandy, (generously donated by the judge, who had a drink and immediately spent the two hours sleeping it off on my couch).

You know what the hardest part of cooking is? It’s not the taste, it’s not how well you follow the ingredient, it’s making sure everything is done in time and that everything is as hot or as cold as it’s supposed to be. In a restaurant, this isn’t a problem because there’s a whole mess of (maybe legal) Mexicans in the kitchen working as a team. One guy working alone has a lot more pots to stir. Literally.

At the end of the allotted time I had created a simple apple and spinach salad, sliders on sourdough with apple and onion topping and an apple and cinnamon pork roast with a sweet apple syrup and garlic and apple mashed potatoes on the side. Thus prepared, I wrapped everything up and made my way to the third judge’s apartment for the tasting.

My opponent was a little late, but still managed to show up without getting points taken away. He walked in with dishes and crock pots and food and my heart sank a little with the realization that I had underestimated Diddi and his culinary skills. He brought his A game, (well, maybe his B, B+ game. But it was still good!)

We heated our dishes and presented them for tasting. Then, we sat and waited, while our fates were decided. Nerves were wracked! Knuckles were white! Nails were bitten! Sweat was flopped! Edges of seats were…sat on.

Somewhere in this favored land, the sun is shinning bright.
The band is playing somewhere. And somewhere hearts are light.
Somewhere men are laughing and somewhere children aren’t deaf.
But there is no joy for Diddi – Josh is still the Iron Chef!**



*not exactly sure what it means, but they use that line in movies all the time and I decided to try it out.

**with apologies to Ernest Lawrence Thayer

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Fighting Boredom, one day at a time

As a member of the Great Unemployed, life can get boring from time to time. If I don’t add zest to the humdrum of everyday life, I’ll end up sitting on the couch, my appendages atrophied from lack of use (except for my left hand, of course*). So I try to be as active as a lazy, good-for-nothing can be. You won’t see me going on power walks around the neighborhood or anything, but if you’re lucky, you might catch me hoofing it over to the KFC across the street, (because it’s a well-known fact that a 75-yard walk cancels out calorie-laden, grease-soaked fast “food”).

On Thursdays I head to downtown D.C. to spend a few hours taking in the historic culture of one of our fine local museums. Unfortunately, if I spend too much time at the museums I tend to run into yapping American tourists, screeching school field trips and for some reason, Mennonites. Sadly, the myriad museum-goers spark a conflagration in my soul which causes me to rush home to watch Falling Down, lest I wig out in public and am brought down my a phalanx of police officers.
Sometimes I come up with fun activities for me to do around the apartment, like napping up to three times a day, doing the dishes, or napping on the dishes, (it’s great for the lower lumbar region).

Considering how many other pathetic, jobless wretches are out there these days, I thought that it’d be a good idea to share a list of ideas of things people can do during the workday when everybody is busy being productive and bringing home paychecks, (the suckers!). This list has all types of fun and time-wasting activities to get you through the drudgery of the day-to-day. Try some out, or make up your own!

1. Rearrange the furniture in your abode so that everything is against one wall. If you live with one or more people who work, then subtlety shift everything 25 degrees to the right instead.

2. Spend the whole day without using the letter E.

3. Go to grocery stores and do all of your shopping from other people’s carts when they’re not paying attention. Abandon your shopping cart anywhere and walk out.

4. Whenever anybody asks you a question smile and just nod, or shake your head. Even if it isn’t a yes/no question.

5. Write the script for the perfect 80s music video. Be sure to include bad hairstyles, hideous clothes and fog machines.

6. Pick a random person from the internet and stalk them. But only for 25 minutes. Pick a new person each hour.

7. Go on Craigslist and put up an ad for a DeLorian that only goes 87 mph.

8. Walk backwards the entire day.

9. Splice together the genes of a squirrel, a roach and a pigeon, creating an unholy fusion of the most annoying urban pest the world has ever seen!

10. Perform your own radio show through the vents of your apartment building. Use sound effects.

11. Call the Butterball Turkey Hotline and tell them that you’re lonely. (Or, call them and tell them that you either got an appendage stuck in the turkey, or the turkey stuck in an orifice, whichever is more funny.)

12. Make a Youtube video showing the world your Sasha Fierce lip-syncing/dance moves.

13. Go to MacDonalds and stand in line. Whenever they ask for your order, tell them you’ve never heard of this restaurant and you’re still studying the menu. Make a big deal of calling somebody to tell them of the wonderful discovery you’ve made.

14. Create a treasure map to a hidden stash of Lucky Charms, (or, Count Chocula, if you’re so inclined.)

15. Make up your own language, speak only in that language for a whole day. Be sure to go out in public.

16. Go fishing in your bathtub.

17. Write an unfunny blog.



*And not for the reason you’re thinking either! It’s my remote hand!)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Objectification

Thursday night is a great night for television. In fact, there were so many good shows on last night that I couldn’t decide what to watch. So, I set up my DVR to record just about everything on the Cartoon Network while I laid back and flicked through the channels, looking for something interesting.

What I found was a fascinating show on BBC America (which I feel is a wasted channel because Americans aren’t really into British shows. Except for The Eastenders, which people like my mom love, for some reason,) about a certain sexual fetish that I’ve heard about before, but never really encountered. Human sexuality is an interesting and confusing thing. As a species, we pretty much run the gamut of possible fetishes.

On one hand you’ve got people (and you know who you are) who enjoy Plain Jane love-making. You know, people who consider a wild night to be five-to-ten minutes of the missionary position followed by a lovely conversation about the day’s weather. I call these the “Vanilla People” because they’re about as basic and as boring as they come. Don’t get me wrong, Vanilla People are fine, they just wouldn’t know what to do with an imagination if it sat on their faces, which is apparent when you get them between the sheets.

Then you’ve got the perverted freaks who like to dress like clowns and enjoy hammering nails into their genitals while having sex with fish. I don’t like to pass judgment on people’s fetishes, (“Hello Pot? Hi, this is Kettle”) but I do enjoy the stories about fetishists. The oddities and weirdness is very entertaining. Plus they have the best parties! If you had the choice of hanging out with a Vanilla Person, enjoying a pleasant evening of cutting coupons (or whatever it is boring people do on Friday nights) or going to a freaky sex party over at the petting zoo with Glen Quagmire, which would you choose? I think the answer’s obvious.

Anyway, the show was about women who were having relationships with inanimate objects. There are many levels of weirdness going on there. I’ve heard of people who have sex with cars and washing machines, hell I’ve seen the videos (god bless the interweb!) So while I might not understand it, I’ve at least heard of people being sexually attracted to things, (there’s a certain glory hole in the men’s room at the interstate rest stop that I have fond memories of*). But people who have relationships with objects? How does that work? What are the dates like? Who asks whom out?

Susan: I don’t feel like going out tonight. How about we make a nice dinner and just stay in and watch a movie?

Coffee Table:

At least the dates are probably cheap.

What’s weird is that the main focus of the show seemed like a pretty normal lady in other regards. She was an Olympian archer with all types of trophies and medals and shit, (which, if the Phelps Model is correct, would make her an American Hero). Of course, she felt that the reason she was winning the trophies was because she was dating her bow, whose name is Lance, (if she was a javelin thrower, would her javelin be named Bo? Wait, if she was dating her javelin, she would have died of blood loss years ago!)

I’m not entirely sure how one has sex with a bow, but that’s actually the least strange thing about the story. She and Lance had been dating for six years before she broke up with him. I’m not sure of the reason for the break up, possibly he was an alcoholic, maybe he didn’t care about her feelings. But she moved on to another, bigger object: the Eiffel Tower.

It seems that this, otherwise normal, lady loved the Eiffel Tower so much that she actually married it in a ceremony with friends and family in attendance. I shit you not. They even showed the ceremony with that crazy bitch saying vows and everything! Did the tower even have a choice in this marriage? How’d they fill out the marriage license?

But wait, it gets even stranger…The Eiffel Tower is a chick.

Look, here in America, our objects are things. And things are objects. Which means that the word “it” gets used quite often. Go to France or Italy if you want to assign genders to inanimate objects, I say! Isn’t it bad, or weird, enough to be in love with a thing? Why does gender even come into play? And can you even be gay when you’re having sex with a big ass piece of metal?

The world is a big and crazy place. Just about everybody has a story. True, some of the stories are really boring, but they’re stories none-the-less. My advice is to go out there and find somebody interesting to hang out with. Who knows, maybe that person will turn out to be a freak who gets off on licking walls with wet paint.

Embrace the strange.




*That’s a lie. It was more of a jagged tear than a hole

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Drivers vs Walkers: Give me a car accident any day!

So I’ve been hanging out at a lot of airports recently, you know, spreading the Hare Krishna philosophy* and keeping an eye out for people on airline jihads, and I’ve noticed something: people are inconsiderate jerks.

It was while I was walking, (with a sense of purpose and speed, I might add) that I realized that people get away with all types of stuff that if they tried to do while driving, they’d cause horrendous multi-car pile ups.

For example, in a car people are supposed to keep their eyes on the road in front of them. I say “supposed to” because, as we all know, people love to not pay attention to what’s going on in front of them, which results in bodies being launched through windshields and being decapitated by steering wheels. Terrible to experience, fun to watch, (at least I can only assume its fun to watch, the way cars always slow down to ghoulishly study the scene of car accidents, no matter how gruesome.)

But when walking, people seem to take a perverted pride in purposely not looking in front of them as they amble about. They’ll go so far as to turn their heads 230 degrees to study some random ass thing while walking straight into a wall, column or other jerkhole who isn’t paying attention to where he’s walking. Honestly, I’m always surprised at how often I see people bumping into stationary objects or other brain-dead people simply because they couldn’t be bothered to stop walking (and move to the side) while checking out something that caught their interest.

And the thing that always leaves me flabbergasted in these situations is that when somebody who isn’t paying attention while walking bumps into me, they then have the gall to give me a look like I’m the tard! Their eyes narrow and focus on my face, like they’re saying: “I’m just a random American dumbass not watching where I’m watching. You were paying attention, so what’s your excuse for letting me bump into you, jerk?!” I can only shake my head, walk away and make plans to give their names to Jigsaw so he can teach them some manners.

Another thing that people do while walking that they wouldn’t dream of doing while driving, is wandering around. In a car people have to stay inside the lines of their lane. It helps the flow of traffic and makes everything nice and organized. When people walk they mosey and weave around like they’re stinking drunk and one of their legs is shorter than the other and they can’t help but cut you off while not even acknowledging your existence. Then I end up stepping on my own feet trying to avoid these dick weeds.

It gets even worse when you factor in the fact that there’s no speed limits on sidewalks and in airports. I’m not talking about limiting how fast people walk, I’m talking about limits on how ssssllllooowwwwlllyyy they walk. It seems like the slowest people always love to walk in the middle of everything. They saunter down hallways and corridors without a care in the world, taking time to stop and smell the nonexistent flowers and annoy the living shit out of me!

Then, (and this is the best part) the ultimate is people who literally just stop walking. Could you imagine driving on a major highway when all of a sudden the car in front of you hits the breaks for no good reason? It’d be mayhem! And yet, people have no trouble with walking somewhere, then instantly stopping the minute they get a phone call or want to readjust their scarves in the 100-degree heat. I wouldn’t mind it if they moved out of the way and let people carry on about their business, but they don’t! They stay rooted to the spot as if they just stepped on a landmine. Meanwhile everybody else with the temerity to be in the same vicinity trying to get from point A to point B has to navigate around these living statues.

In this country we’re so used to people being inconsiderate bastards that people rarely even notice this kind of stuff anymore. Which is kind of a shame. We’re a land full of inconsiderate people who have nary a thought in their fad-obsessed minds for their fellow human beings.

Maybe people are nicer at train stations…

*Are those wack-a-doos still around anymore or is that joke really dated?

Monday, March 09, 2009

Blood, Boobs & Beast

Allow me to take the time, if I may, to talk to you about movies. Not good movies, like Watchmen and Milo & Otis, or expensive blockbuster/epics like The Cat in the Hat and Army of Darkness. In fact, I’m talking about movies you’ve never seen, directed by a guy you’ve never heard of, featuring a cast of nobodies and filmed in the murky backwaters of Baltimore County, (and if you’ve ever been to Baltimore, then you know the whole place is nothing but murky backwaters).

Ahhh, Baltimore. What can I say that hasn’t already been said by The Wire and Ace of Cakes? It’s a weird town. Known primarily for being a dangerous place, it’s also a great city to go if you want to stock up on Gonorrhea. It was once home to Bob Marley, Edgar Allen Poe and Tupac. I think they all rented a house in Druid Hill.

Baltimore is also home to some interesting film makers. One, John Waters, you’ve probably already heard of, (if not I highly recommend that you rent Pink Flamingos, it’s a heart-warming family film that can be enjoyed by all) but I want to introduce you to two directors you probably haven’t heard about.

Over the past 30 or so years, film maker Don Dohler has graced the world with a dozen of the corniest, most low-budget and unintentionally hilarious horror and sci-fi movies you’ve never seen. I’m talking Ed Wood level movies. I’m talking about movies that can’t help but entertain you as you sit there, in front of the tv, enthralled by the train wreck unfolding on the screen.

Everybody loves a good bad movie, as oxymoronic as that sounds. How else do you explain the popularity of Paul Blart: Mall Cop, or anything with Julia Roberts? People are gluttons for movies with special effect budgets smaller than the GDP of Rhodesia. They go nuts for movies where the actors deliver their lines as if they went to the Joey Tribiani School of Acting. People are huge fans of movies with wafer-thin storylines and huge, glaring plot holes. Fortunately, Don Dohler movies have all of those things, by the boat load!

Sadly, Don Dohler died in 2006. But he left behind a legacy of movies that will be enjoyed by people for years to come, (until the zombie uprising destroys civilization).

Before his death, Dohler became the subject of a documentary by another Baltimore area film maker, John Kinhart. In his movie Blood Boobs and Beast, Kinhart chronicles Dohler’s life, from his early years drawing underground comics, up to his final movie Dead Hunt. It turns out, oddly enough, that Dohler gave a young, (at the tender age of 16, no less!) J.J. Abrams one of his first gigs, writing the music to one of the most hilarious sex scenes ever committed to celluloid. Dohler was also very influential in the careers of many people involved in movie-making today, people like Greg Schmekle, the preeminent key grip, Thom Trovenstien, Hollywood’s most celebrated boom mic operator, Olga Bepple, the acclaimed craft services table lady, and, of course, Zaphod Bebblebrox.

Kinhart’s documentary, the provocatively-named Blood, Boobs & Beast, made the circuit of film festivals across the globe, picking up awards and accolades as it went. It’s an excellent film, which means a lot coming from me because typically the only documentaries I like involve pimps being up and hoes being down.

Happily, Blood, Boobs & Beast was finally released on DVD the other week, which means you can get a copy, (which I highly recommend). It’s got drama, pathos, humor and boobs, (I think there’s also some blood and beast in there as well). And as a special deal, the movie comes in a pack of two, along with one of Don Dohler’s movies: Nightbeast. That’s the movie with the ridiculous sex scene scored by the guy who created Lost, Alias, Cloverfield and the new Star Trek flick.

So go to amazon.com and order your copy of Blood, Boobs & Beast today! Do it now! I’m watching you and I know where you live!

And no, I’m not getting paid to pimp this movie. I just happen to be a big fan of obscure film makers from Baltimore. When you watch the documentary, you will be too. Or I’ll refund your money personally.*


*That’s a complete lie.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Food, Glorious Food!

I’m sitting here, in the back of the “classroom”, on an uncomfortable stool. A raggedy old off-white apron protects my clothes, a hand towel rests in the customary place over my left shoulder. The room has mirrors over the main counter so you can get a good view of the chef’s hands at work chopping an onion or deboning a chicken, but her head is covering her labor and I’m stuck guessing what the hell she meant about sticking the knife inside the ball and socket joint of the chicken thigh.

The class started at 10:30 and it’s slated to end at 2:30. That’s four hours of culinary education for me to absorb. Imagine my surprise at finding out they hold four-hour classes in the middle of a Friday, but I guess that’s probably why there’s only five people here, (sometimes it’s nice to be unemployed. Actually, it’s always nice to be unemployed). There’s enough counter space for four more people, but who would show up late to a class they voluntarily signed up and paid for? Besides, she’s already shown us how to debone a chicken, anybody who shows up now is only going to make it worse for themselves.

It looks like I spoke too soon. The class started 20 minutes ago and people are still wandering in. Amazing. Whoever ends up being my partner better not slow me down. I may not be a professional chef, but I know my way around a kitchen and I don’t need somebody who doesn’t know the difference between a stock and a broth messing up my dishes!

As the assistants place the whole chicken on my board I’m a bit hesitant. The Chef made it look so easy. A few quick slices and her yard bird was in pieces faster than you can say “Sir Digby Chicken Caesar”. Sadly, my own bird won’t fare as well, between my hesitant, sloppy cuts and my partner’s choppy hacking at the meat, the chicken ends up looking like it was attacked by a blind butcher during an earthquake. I hope the teacher doesn’t notice. Or, if she does, I hope she knows that it’s my partner’s fault and not mine. Hell, the half of the chicken I deboned looks like an effing Rembrandt painting compared to my partner’s half. It looks like she watched Hostel before coming to class today. Maybe that’s why she’s late.

They threw us in deep during the class. I guess you have to have basic knife knowledge before attending a class at L’Academie De Cuisine, because the teachers pretty much take it for granted that I know how to julienne these sundried tomatoes. Of course if you put a knife in my hand I can chop, slice, dice and stab, so there’s no problem.

Coq au vin, chicken scaloppini with sundried tomatoes, lemon and watercress, curried chicken salad with walnuts and pears and Thai-style barbecued chicken with cilantro and lime. All of these dishes I prepared with finesse and skill. My knife was a blur of chopping and slicing. My wooden spoon was in constant motion, stirring my many dishes simultaneously. My cutting board was my painter’s palate, upon which I used the various ingredients as tools to create culinary works of art. My pots and pans were the canvases that housed my dishes.

Wait a minute, did she just use the same hand to touch raw chicken and then touch her food? Oh well, too late to warn her. Guess my partner will just have to learn the hard way about food contamination. As she becomes intimately acquainted with her toilet tonight, she might regret her absent-minded hand gestures during our Chicken Techniques class. Silly woman!

It’s 1:45 now. Class ends early, since there are only 9 people in attendance. Our dishes turned out pretty well, considering my partner wanted to add a ridiculous amount of spices to everything we were making, (she’s Indian, so as far as she’s concerned, if it doesn’t have cumin and coriander in it, it’s not worth eating). I’m not entirely sure what capers are, and I think I reduced my sauce for the chicken scaloppini too much, leaving it as just a bunch of sundried tomatoes, but otherwise, this has been a productive class. I’ve got a bunch of new recipes to try out and I’m more comfortable cooking poultry. My belly is full from four different chicken dishes and I’m ready for my afternoon nap.

I wonder what class I should take next. “Basic knife skills”? “Sauces and gravies”? “Liver and Brussels Sprouts for tots”? “Cannibalism for Beginners”? “Chilled Monkey Brains and Snake Surprise: Indy’s favorite dishes”? Guess, I’ll just have to study the brochure a little more.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Ferris Bueller ain’t got shit on me!

In these turbulent days in America, when the economy is going down the toilet faster than a watery dump, and our social identity is reflective of Popeye’s friend Wimpy (I’d gladly pay you Tuesday for a bailout/stimulus package today!) it’s no surprise that I have joined the ever expanding throng of jobless Americans. Of course, unlike the rest of the Great Unemployed Unwashed, I purposely don’t want a job. It gives me a chance to work on my nunchuck skills.

On the other hand, all of the free time I have threatens to drown me in a wave of ennui. I can watch cartoons and sit around in my boxers only so much before my mind starts to shut down from lack of use. I’ve gotten used to being productive and I’m having a hard time getting back to my old slacker self.

That’s when it hit me. Having no job isn’t a punishment, it’s a blessing! This is my opportunity to go out and live! When Ferris Bueller took his day off, he didn’t just hang out in his place surfing the internets for clown porn, he went out and had a wonderful day in Chicago, impersonating sausage magnates and singing falsetto on convenient parade floats. That’s every high school kid’s dream!

So I’ve decided to turn my boredom into excitement! Or a reasonable facsimile thereof. Sadly, I’m in my frugal phase, so I can’t really go out and make it rain on some middle of the day, C Squad strippers. I’m limited to doing things that don’t really cost that much, like terrorizing campers with crudely tied bundles of sticks a la Blair Witch, or sitting on the street corner begging for change.

Luckily I live in the D.C. metro area so there are oodles of cheap entertainment options for me to take advantage of, (oops, I shouldn’t let that dangle like that. Let me rephrase: “Oodles of cheap entertainment options of which I can take advantage.) Like slashing the tires of the cars in the Chuck E. Cheese parking lot, or loitering outside of the Quickstop with my hetro lifemate.

Yesterday I hoped on the metro. And after a long, convoluted journey, which involved me jumping on and off trains like my name is Jason Bourne, I found myself downtown on the National Mall. My plan: a luxuriously slow-paced examination of the various museums that make up the Smithsonian.

You see, even though I’m local, every time I’ve gone to the museums it’s been with at least one other person. When people go to museums in groups of two or more, they don’t really take the time to peruse* the many exhibits there for our edutainment. Everybody just kind of blows by the exhibits as if it’s a race to get through the museum superfast while retaining as little information as possible.

So I decided to go to my favorite museum, (Air & Space represent!) to finally learn how man was able to break the surly bonds of gravity to ascend to the heavens, (turns out it involves helium and toothpicks. Who knew?). There’s a certain level of kick assitude to the Air & Space museum. It’s got big ole planes hanging from the ceiling, that were installed in the early 70s and threaten to fall and crush you at any moment. It’s got old, yellowed Russian documents that are purported to be about the 1960s space race, but could also be a recipe for borsht, for all I know. It has installations that tackle head on the fact that we are all insignificant specks on a stupid ball of dirt in an ever expanding and unloving universe. It’s got astronaut ice cream!

I stepped into the lobby of the museum a little after 11. Though there were metal detectors and x-Ray machines in the entrance, I was waved through without any fuss. Which was great because I was packing my special going-to-downtown-D.C. Luger and I didn’t want to have to make a scene at the museum, capping inept security guards left and right. It would have hindered the learning experience.

When I left the museum, a little over three and a half hours later, I hadn’t even finished the first floor. I had been overcome by all of the knowledge there for me to absorb. I had wandered, childlike, eyes full of awe and wonderment, from exhibit to exhibit trying to make sense of the deluge of aeronautical information.
I was particularly fascinated by the Russian spaceship toilets installation. These were intimidating machines, full of tubes and nozzles that in no way looked comfortable to use. Ivan sure is crazy!

As I walked out of the museum, into the gale-force winds that we had yesterday, I realized that my original plan of hitting up two museums that day was too naïve. I hadn’t even finished looking at all the exhibits on one floor of one of the dozen or so museums that liter the mall, (not counting the ones located elsewhere in the city.) So, it looks like I’m gonna make Thursdays my museum day. Each Thursday I’ll make my way down town and spend a few hours at a museum before winging my way back home before rush hour is in full effect. If you live in the DC area and are jobless, (like myself) or just want to play hooky for a day, then join me next Thurs at the mall, and we’ll enjoy a day of edutainment fit for the whole family!

But bring a bag lunch, those DC McDonalds prices are no joke. Seriously, I don’t even have a joke for how unnecessarily expensive that food can be. It’s stupefying.

*In its original definition, meaning to study intently. It’s odd how the meaning of that word has evolved over the centuries. Go ahead, look it up.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Being a mature, responsible adult sucks booty!

I’m 28 years old and I have a specific pattern. I accumulate money, (typically during deployments to Iraq) and then blow through the entire bank account within six months on disposable things, like booze, movies and pizza, with nothing to show for it except a fat belly and a large porno collection. Then, I get sent back to Iraq and start the cycle over again. It’s worked like gangbusters for me ever since I got out of college.

I’m no good at staying on top of bills or monitoring how much money I actually have. I end up owing large amounts of money to companies that I’m too lazy to fight against. My problem is that money is nothing to me. It’s not something to be saved, it’s meant to be spent. That’s what drives this wonderful capitalist economy we’re so proud of. Money is like herpes, no matter how much you try to get rid of it, it’ll always be around.

But, now that I’m older and in the twilight of my years, it’s been deemed that I need to stop my financial mobius strip lifestyle. I need to start acting like the mature, responsible person I vowed to the Gods of Saturday Morning Cartoons I’d never be.

And it sucks.

Instead of being totally scatterbrained about my monies (I love that word!), I have to pay attention to things! Checking my various bank accounts, ING accounts, CDs, stocks, investments, bills, pants pockets and piggy bank is a full time job in itself. I thought my money was supposed to work for me, instead I’m feeling like Kunta Kinte over here.

Scrooge McDuck never had this problem! He just kept his money, (which, interestingly, seemed to be made up mostly of coins) in his big ass money bin, (which is funny because he owned all the banks in Duckberg, but never kept his cash there. Do you think his banks got any of that bailout money?) where he’d go swimming a couple times a day, thereby keeping track of his money and keeping in shape at the same time. Now that’s L-I-V-I-N.

Being rich would be very helpful. I could just hire an attorney (or three, each watching each other to make sure nobody’s ripping me off) to take care of my money for me. I could have a majordomo, like Robert Duvall in The Godfather. The only problem is that to be rich enough to hire somebody to keep track of my money for me, I need to keep track of my money. It’s a devastating Catch-22.

And you wanna know what the most humbling thing is? I’ve had to put myself on a weekly allowance, like some kind of small, irresponsible child, (or like a useless, yet super gorgeous trophy husband, which I wouldn’t mind being one day). Which means I can’t just indiscriminately buy things like I used to. I have to be frugal, which goes against my very nature!

Sometimes I wish I were a Smurf. They never use money, they just barter when they need something. When Baker Smurf needs something built, he gives Handy Smurf some special brownies, and bingo! He gets a brand new harness for his autoerotic asphyxiation experiments. On the other hand, if I were a Smurf I’d be getting sloppy 75ths on Smurfette’s cavernous vagina and that’s no fun for anybody. Not to mention Gargamel would constantly be trying to eat me and I’d be French. But I digress.

Money is on everybody’s mind these days, (well, it’s on everybody’s mind everyday, but even more so recently) and for good cause. Everything’s going to hell and soon we’ll be spending our days standing around in Marxist breadlines, hoping for soggy, mildewed crusts. It’ll be bad*. It’ll be so bad, we’ll be letting our children work for 35 cents a day in Pennsylvania coal mines, coating their little bitty lungs with coal dust in the cutest way. It’ll be so bad that in Ethiopia they’ll watch commercials with Sally Struthers imploring them to spend a few cents a day on little Billy Bob in Possum Cootch, KY. It’ll be so bad that we’ll soon envy the little kids working in those Taiwanese Nike sweat shops. It’s going to be so bad that soon I’m going to start sending unsolicited emails to Nigerian businessmen, telling them I’ve got a few million stashed away somewhere and I’ll need a good faith investment of a hundred thousand to get it out.

What can we do about it? Beats me. I’m not the guy to come to for financial advice. Hell, I’ve been broke and homeless before. I currently have at least three loan shark goons hanging out in the bushes in front of my building waiting for me to walk outside so they can cut off my pinkies.

In the end, I guess all we can do is keep our mind on our money and our money on our mind. Don’t go out and buy useless or impulsive shit like Uggs, or toilet paper. Save your money for important things, like sweet, big ass HD televisions, Faberge Eggs and diamond-studded, gold-plated grand pianos. Then, if everything goes right, one day some lucky hacker will strike it rich stealing your identity. It’s the American dream.


*How bad will it be?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Writing’s on the Wall

So I was lounging around in bed this morning, trying to fight past the raging headache that threatened to leave me paralyzed from the brainstem down, while feebly struggling to free myself from the tangled mass of bed sheets that had turned into hateful ropes during the night, chaining me to the bed like some kind of drunken Prometheus waiting for his liver to be torn from his stomach and eaten.

And to make myself properly prepared for the day ahead, I turned on the news, to feed my mind with the important issues of the day, like the inmate who gouged out and ate his own eyeball, (it wasn’t the first time he’d done it either. I guess raw eyeballs are really delicious), the worsening economy and the attack of the Killer Mutant Peanut Butter that is currently devastating this great country of ours.

But the thing that really stuck out, the most vital topic of the morning news, was how schools are fazing out teaching cursive handwriting. I, for one, cannot tell you just how shocked I was to learn that they’re still bothering to teach people how to write at all! Don’t we have computers for that shit these days?

Of course the news anchor had to take the moral high ground that not teaching little kids cursive will lead to the downfall of Western Civilization, making us China and India’s bitch, (and in all honesty, he’s right. It’s not the recession/depression that’s going to bring America down; it’s the fact that kids don’t know how to draw a cursive “S”.)

What’s so special about writing in cursive? It doesn’t improve what people actually write, especially with the inane things most people write about these days anyway. Writing in cursive, for the majority of The Great Unwashed, is kind of like gift-wrapping dog shit. Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

In fact, I’d go far as to say that writing in cursive is ridiculously overrated. The only thing you really need to know how to write in cursive is your name, (unless you’re one of the hundreds, if not thousands, of girls who, in elementary, middle and high school, have practiced writing my last name, excited for the day when we’d finally be joined in marital bliss*).

Take doctors for instance. They’re infamous for having handwriting worse than a Parkinson’s victim. Michael J. Fox has a super steady hand compared to those in the medical community. But that doesn’t make them worse doctors. You can’t judge a person based on whether he can write in cursive or not, and you can’t judge the fall of a society based on how many people connect their letters while writing their poorly-spelled letters to Penthouse.

Interviewer: Well Bob, Deacon is far more qualified for this job. He’s got way more experience and even wrote the handbook we’ve trained our other employees on. On the other hand, I love the way you do that loop thing with your capital “L”. So you’re hired!

Bob: Hooray for me!

If anything, we should worry less about whether people are writing in cursive or not, and focus more on spelling, grammar and syntax. Because to me, a well written and executed sentence counts for a lot more than if it’s in print or cursive.

What we need to do is attack this new “text speak.” Why isn’t our collective dander up about that nonsense? When I have kids, I won’t care if “ I’ll see you later” is written in print or cursive, as long as it’s not written “I C U L8R.” Now that’s some bullshit!

I personally quit using cursive around my freshman year of high school. It was lame and I wanted to develop a more distinctive and unique style of writing. So for the next three years I practiced writing in print in a new style until I came up with something that is entirely me and very identifiable. When somebody sees something I wrote, they know its origin, (on the other hand, I’m still proficient in cursive and use it when I’m hiding my hand writing. A true Evil Genius has multiple writing styles for every occasion.)

There’s one problem with my writing style: it’s slow. If I were to try to take notes like a normal person, I’d be screwed because I wouldn’t be able to keep up. Maybe that’s why in college, instead of taking notes, I just wrote jokes to myself during class. This would explain why I got kicked out.

But, like all good journalists, I developed my own shorthand. I’ve interviewed thousands of people and you can’t always tell them to stop or repeat themselves while you’re trying to write, (especially since most people can’t remember what they said no more than 30 seconds earlier. It’s true. Try having somebody repeat a point, word-for-word that they just told you, and they won’t be able to. Their minds are already somewhere else. God Bless ADD) it’s just not conducive to good interviews. So, you come up with shortcuts and tricks to make you go faster. And you know what? My shorthand doesn’t use cursive and yet I’m still able to write decent stories.

In the end; cursive or print: does it really even matter? In this day and age, isn’t there something more, I dunno…important to blame for the downfall of man?



*Sorry to disappoint you ladies, but it ain’t gonna happen. Can’t tame this Wild Stallion!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Let’s Get Caught up!

So, in the midst of getting back from Iraq, getting the hell out of the army, moving into a new apartment, growing a dirty hippy beard, burying an aunt, getting drunk on days that end in “y”, trying to keep off the 30 pounds I lost in Iraq and acquiring a girlfriend, I really haven’t had the time, nor the inclination, to write any Eighty-Four Glyde entries recently. Too many damn things on my plate and I’m far too lazy to be efficient.

Sorry. Let’s get updated on things.

Looking back, it seems that I haven’t written anything since the middle of December. That’s not strictly true though. The same frustrating thing seems to happen to me whenever I come back from Iraq: I lose a thumbdrive that had a bunch of pre-written (as we in the news writing business call “evergreen” stories because they’re not topical and can be used whenever) entries in it and it bums me out to no end. Truly, it frosts my buttons. It pains me to think of all of the laughs you (my loyal reader) will never get to enjoy because those entries are lost to time (or lost somewhere in my ridiculously dirty bedroom. It makes Theo Huxtable’s room look Spartan and clean.) Pity.

Tomorrow is the third birthday of Eighty-Four Glyde. That’s right, my stupid little blog is three years old. Amazing, no? Yet I still haven’t gotten paid or laid because of it. Such injustice! There won’t be much in the way of any kind of special birthiversary entry as in past years. I had hoped to get the 84 Glyde website up and running in time for tomorrow, but couldn’t get it done in time. My bad, gang. But keep your eyes out, because it’ll be coming soon and it’s going to kick so much ass that you’ll lose your sense of smell! (And I don’t even know what that means.) Of course birthiversary wishes are always appreciated.
***

Hey, get this: They voted a black guy for president while I was gone! Ain’t that a hoot!? I honestly had no idea America had it in itself. I figured all the WPs would be too scared of black people making rap the official music, ebonics the official language and chicken the official bird, to elect a HNIC. I’m almost proud of this crazy country. I still want my damn 40 acres and a mule though. Quit bullshitting and give me my reparations!

The inauguration was a few days ago, but there are plenty of stories out there of what happened on Tuesday. How historic it was, how iconic the images are, how nipple-freezing it was and how bangable Michelle Obama is. So I won’t go into the event too deeply here.

I live 20 or so miles away from downtown D.C., yet refused to leave my apartment. I’m not crazy, I knew there’d be (literally) billions of people on the mall, and that at least 15% would be ex-girlfriends that I didn’t want to run into. Instead, my girlfriend and I stayed in and toasted with some champagne when the awkward swearing in went down.

Of course, had I known that there wouldn’t be any kind of terrorist attack (I can’t help it, like all patriotic Americans I’ve been brainwashed and frightened by a government trying to convince me that Jihadists are trying their best, 24/7, to specifically kill me) I might have gone downtown to better appreciate the moment.

…Nah.

***
About a month ago I was voluntold (because that’s how the military works) to participate in a hoagie building contest for the opening of a WaWa’s in Shithole, N.J. (otherwise known as Any Town, N.J.). For those of you not familiar with WaWa’s, it’s a typically middle East Coast place where you can buy poorly made sandwiches, sub-par coffee and diabetes-inducing morning pastries. People in Pennsylvania and New Jersey go wild for WaWa’s. Scientists have yet to understand the phenomenon.

Anyway, as some kind of publicity stunt, for the store’s opening, they had ten soldiers, divided into two teams, form hoagie assembly lines to either make as many hoagies as we could in three minutes, or be the first team to make 20 hoagies. Or maybe both, nobody was quite sure what the rules were, or what we were trying to achieve. It didn’t matter because my suck ass team lost like the giant toolboxes we were. It was pathetic, but at least we got to keep the hoagies we made.

I didn’t eat a single one. They were gross.

***

As I wind up this rambling and non-linear entry, I’d like to close with something new. With each new year that greets Eighty-Four Glyde, I try to do something different, to keep the blog fresh and relevant. Last year I didn’t use the letter “e” in any of my entries. Two years ago I only typed with my toes. This year, at somebody’s request, I’m going to do less abstract, nonsensical blogs where I pretend to be fictitious James Bond villains, and more entries that have to do with the weird things that go on in my life. Because even though I try to live my life as a shut in, I still manage to go out amongst The Great Unwashed and have kooky misadventures.

So, in 2009, you’ll get to know more about your favorite blog writer: Joshua. Playboy, raconteur, debonair man-about –town, messiah, nose-picker, unparalleled lover, last son of Krypton, philanthropist and kitty-cat petter.

Happy 3rd Birthaversary Eighty-Four Glyde! Sorry for the gift card, I promise to have a real present next year.