Wednesday, August 08, 2018

How To Live Like A Universal Local



So there I was, sitting in Zengo, enjoying a nice brunch of dim sum and antojitos and reading the latest issue of LunchBox. There was a fascinating piece comparing the prices and tastes of a Ricky in Chinatown versus a Ricky in NoMa (one locale prefers the more traditional bourbon, whilst the other favors the more plebian gin. Natch).

I continued reading the magazine as I hopped onto the Green Line --while jamming out to some Rare Essence, of course-- past the Borf mural, down to U Street for a quick little nosh at Ben’s Chili Bowl. Following that, I snagged a conveyance from the Bike Share and made my way to Anacostia to pick up an eight ball of Hinckley and a quart of mambo sauce. With those tasks completed, I wandered over to the Hawk ‘n’ Dove for my shift running the glory hole in the men’s room.

The magazine article that really caught my eye was about living like a native in this fair city. The places to go, the places to be seen, the things to do and eat, what to wear, what to do, what people to hate and the myriad other things that differentiate living in this particular city from any other city in the world.

And it was all the most egregious of bullshit.

See, I live in the Washington D.C. metro area. I was born in the city proper and grew up right outside its august gates. As far as I can tell, there are at least three separate D.C.s:

1. There’s the touristy portion, full of free --or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, needlessly expensive-- museums, national monuments, hot dogs cooked in toilet water and crappy tee shirts stitched together in Indonesian sweat shops.

      2. The political side of D.C., which is anything around Capitol Hill, (or just “The Hill” as smug, self-important assholes call it).

3. And the actual, honest-to-goodness locals, the groupings of which can be divided into sub-categories, ranging from the scared white people in Georgetown, to the scared black people in South East.

The group that tends to lead the charge when it comes to these stories about being a local and fitting in to the area, is the second group mentioned. More specifically, the people we call “transplants.” These people are usually political staffers in their 20s and early 30s who amble into town for a few years and irritatingly mandate what’s “hot” and “in” around here. Then, after the transplants have left as annoyingly as they came, we locals wash their stink off of us, have a good laugh at their expense and continue to do whatever the hell it is we do. I think it has something to do with driving like insane people.

For years, I would occasionally see these stories pop up on the laziest of “news” websites. But over time, I noticed that those kinds of pieces were appearing more and more frequently, and not just for D.C. but for all major American metropolitan areas. And even non-metropolitan areas. Which makes no sense. I don’t mind that I’m not a native of Abingdon, West Virginia. I certainly don’t need to know the proper local etiquette for asking my first cousin out.

But back to the D.C. articles; I would quickly look over their checklists of local behavior to see how I measured up, and I often found myself wanting. I would panic, because I felt that I wasn’t living right. Yet, like an addiction, I would feel compelled to read about how I was a failure as a native Washingtonian. I would pick up a newspaper, --or, more likely, click on a link, because we live in Buck Rogers times now-- and thick, sour rivers of sweat would pour down my face as I read about the restaurants and bars that I’d never heard of, but everyone was going to, including my loved ones and family pets.

I was forever baffled. I couldn’t understand how I, as an indigenous dude, had missed the double-decker tour bus on all of these wonderful things that absolutely everybody I’ve ever known had been doing for years. And then it hit me: these lists aren’t written by, or meant for, locals. They’re written by outsiders. The Unbidden. Those who have weird geography identity issues and are OCD about classifying humans. And, on top of that, the lists are so esoteric as to be meaningless to anybody who reads them beyond a two-block radius of the author’s pretentious coffee house of choice.

You see Washington D.C. is a large city, using land appropriated from more than one state. It has about nine dozen distinct neighborhoods and a population of “oodles” according to the US Census Bureau website. The point is that the day-to-day life of a citizen in Tenleytown can be the polar opposite of that of a resident of Ward 8, but they’re still both inhabitants of the same city. Just two different parts of this multicolored, patchwork quilt we call The Former Murder Capital of these United States.

Anything I have done as a local is automatically something that a local does. It’s one of the simplest truisms to ever make itself known to me (the other being Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy). And it’s one I wish I was famous enough to abuse. Because then I’d be constantly walking around town in footie pajamas, walking my pet llama on a dental floss leash and eating only pineapple rinds, making sure that all the tourists got a good steaming gawk at me. And then, when I was sure I have everybody’s attention, I’d scream at the top of my lungs “Welcome to the Nation’s Capital! I’ll be your guide!”

I can see it in my mind’s eye. My “Living Like a Local” tour would be a smash hit. Buy your tickets now.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

WANT Part II



That night during dinner was the second time that Duncan saw the captain and it was a more telling encounter.

            At the end of a long and raucous dinner the captain struggled to rise from his table. He managed, but only after grabbing onto Esten for support. Able’s eyes scanned the assembled crew and he held his hands out in front of him almost as if he were about to conduct an invisible orchestra. When he talked, his hands became very animated, jabbing the air to accentuate each slurred word the captain said.

            “Greetings to all here tonight. As you all know, my name is Capt. Vincent Able, and I am the big man on this ship. What I say goes and you will all follow my directions implicitly.”

            Duncan looked down at the area on the table in front of the captain. The place was filled with empty glasses.

            Uh oh, Duncan though. Looks like the captain enjoys a drink or 10 with dinner.

            “What you don’t all know,” continued Able, “is that this is my first time as a captain of a cruise ship. All of my previous nautical experience has been at the helm of a whaling ship. But, now with those stupid, pointless international whaling laws putting decent guys out of good, hard work, I’ve had to hop on a different boat, as it were.” Able paused and swept his eyes across the room once more.

            “Because this is my first time, I want to make a great impression on everybody and do a great job. So what I want out of you people is dedication and loyalty. Do as I say and I think we’ll all have a really great summer this year,” he said. “It’ll be great.”

            Able faltered at that moment, and it was apparent to Duncan that all the alcohol the captain had drunk during dinner was going to get the best of him. Mr. Esten sensed this and took the captain by arm and led him away.

            Duncan wasn’t happy about finding out the captain was a drunk, and neither were the other people at his table; all members of Mr. Brooks and The Floating Troubadours.

            “I’ve heard that Able was actually fired from his last job for getting drunk and shooting a harpoon gun at his own men,” said the bassist to his left.

            “Yeah? Well I heard that he got really drunk and tried to make a pass at his male first mate,” said the drummer to his right.

            “You’re both right in that he’s a big drunk. I heard from another guy that Able was the actual captain of the Exxon Valdez,” said the triangle player across from Duncan.

            “Well, if what any of what you guys say is right,” Duncan started, “then it looks like we’re going to have a wild ride in store for us.”
                                                           
***

            The night of the storm proved how prophetic Duncan’s words were. The captain was drunk that night, again, and refused to listen to Esten’s warnings. It wasn’t until the Rose started listing five degrees starboard that Able finally admitted that they might be taking on water. But it wasn’t until two ensigns drowned trying to confirm the reports about sinking that the captain finally did something about it.

            Drenched by the storm and yelling at the top of his lungs so that his crew could hear him through the cacophony of the storm, Able oversaw the evacuation of the ship. He launched all of the life boats, with the cruise guests aboard. Then, once the guests were gone, he saw to the needs of his crew. Unfortunately, by then, there weren’t enough boats for everybody. Not that it mattered anyway because before anybody had a chance to do anything, the Rose lurched violently starboard, spilling the captain and everybody else in the bridge into the shark-infested maelstrom below. The EPIRB hadn’t even been engaged. Without the position indicator, the rescue teams wouldn’t know where to search for survivors.

            Duncan was in bed when the ship started to sink. He was groggy and a little hung over from his own drinking binge earlier that night. By the time the screams started he was able to collect his thoughts. I want to live! He said to himself.

            During earlier forays, poking around the bowels of the ship, Duncan found a storeroom with rubber life rafts still in boxes. He ran there now, shoving other people out of his way to make it there quicker. After breaking down the door to the storeroom, Duncan grabbed a box and ran out to the main deck. With the storm thrashing around him, tossing people and deck chairs around like rag dolls, Duncan pulled the raft out of the box and prepared to inflate it.

He had his hand on the rip cord when he was broadsided and knocked unconscious by a bunch of shuffleboard sticks that had been torn from their locker.

                                                ***

That was the last thing Duncan remembered from that night. The next thing he knew it was morning and he was adrift in the lifeboat.

            Land…land…

            That was all he wanted. An end to this interminable drifting.

            It was the morning of the sixth day when he finally spotted the shore. At first, he didn’t want to believe it. He just assumed that it was another figment of his imagination, (he had already had a long, thought-provoking conversation with Genghis Khan the previous night. The man had a great recipe for meatloaf.) and would soon disappear, just as his night-time cooking companion had done. But two hours later he realized that he had drifted closer and could actually make out features of the land.

            Duncan was ecstatic. The sight of ground renewed his strength and sent his optimism soaring.
            LAND!

                                                            ***

            By the afternoon Duncan was close enough to stumble onto the pebbled beach. It was the first time in a month that he had touched the ground, and he was loving every second of the sensation. Step by step he made his way up the beach and collapsed onto the hot sand. He had made it; he had survived a sinking ship and more than five days at sea. He had the one and only thing he could possibly want, a place to stand, sit and lay down. Terra Firma. There was nothing else he wanted. Nothing at all.

            Except, maybe…water.

            Water…

Water…WATER! 

Saturday, July 28, 2018

WANT



            Land…land…LAND!!!

            It had been five days so far. Five days since the combination of a very brutal sea storm and the captain’s drunken inexperience at the helm led to Duncan’s abandonment on a life raft and the death of a few dozen of his band mates. Since then it had been five days of pure agony and loneliness in the apathetic embrace of the neon orange life raft.

            Five whole days, which can be translated into 120 hours, or 7,200 minutes, or 432,000 seconds. An eternity. Hours upon endless hours of being tossed around by the sea, bouncing from wave crest to wave crest.  Whether it was under the blistering, energy-sapping gaze of the sun, or the cold, darkness of the moon, Duncan had no protection, no way of alleviating the harsh conditions of the Pacific Ocean.

            Including the three weeks spent aboard Her Majesty’s Rose, it had been almost a whole month since Duncan had set foot on land, and he didn’t like it. The endless rocking back and forth had left him very ill and uncomfortable. He had lost count of the hours he spent with his head over the gunwale of the raft, where the salty spray of the sea kept his forehead cool and wet his brown hair until it was plastered to his face.

The worse part was that he had run out of stomach contents to vomit up days ago. Now, whenever the need to vomit occurred all it did was bring stinging stomach acid up into his throat, the bitter taste of his own bile reminding him of how little he’d eaten since the quick bite before his last show, that fateful night. A couple of small, unidentifiable (at least to Duncan, who had no idea what the names of different fish were) fish and what was either a piece of wood floating by, or a petrified sea snake. Duncan didn’t know and he didn’t care.

             He was hungry, he was thirsty, he stank and his skin was peeling from the brutal force of the sun. All Duncan wanted was land. As far as he was concerned once he put his feet on the ground everything else would be fine. Getting to land was the cornerstone of a good survival plan. After all, he’d spent his whole life on land, he was familiar with its moods and how it worked. There was little to no fear of the ground suddenly buckling and gyrating enough to make him sick. Absolutely no chance of a grass and moss-covered hill appearing out of nowhere to crash down on him like so many waves had done.

            Land was his biggest desire and main concern. Nothing else mattered.
Land...

You’d think that with this being the 21st century and all, that cruise ships would have the proper equipment to detect all types of nautical problems, including storms at sea. And oddly enough, Her Majesty’s Rose did have first-rate weather tracking equipment, including state-of-the-art computer relays which interfaced with GOES-11, a geostationary meteorological weather satellite positioned over the Pacific Ocean. And in case of trouble there was the Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, which would let people back on land know where the ship was positioned if it ever went down. Yet, all the equipment and machines in the world aren’t worth a damn if the captain doesn’t know what he’s doing. From what Duncan could tell, Capt. Able was the epitome of nautical incompetence.

                                                            ***

            Duncan had only met the captain twice. The first time was when Duncan first set foot aboard the Rose. Able stood at the top of the gangplank with his second-in-command Mr. Esten. Able grabbed the hand of each crew member as they stood in front of him and shook it vigorously as he welcomed everybody aboard. His starched, white uniform looked impeccably clean and had crisp edges and pleats. Duncan supposed that the cleanliness of the uniform was Able’s way of making up for how squat and ugly he was. As if hiding his gut and jowls was possible.

            As Able grabbed Duncan’s fingers between his two meaty hands and began pumping up and down while smiling a little too enthusiastically, Duncan could see bits of food lodged in between the captain’s teeth and it made him shudder.

            “Welcome aboard Her Majesty’s Rose, young man!” the captain said. “What’s yout name and what do you do?”

            “My name is Duncan Hills and I’m the alto saxophonist for the ship’s band.”

            “Ahh, a member of Mr. Brooks and The Floating Troubadours, eh? Excellent. I hope your music adds the right touch to this summer’s cruises. Thank you for coming aboard. Mr. Esten will tell you your birthing arrangement,” Able said.

            Duncan switched his attention to the man standing next to the captain to find out where he would be sleeping for the next three months. Mr. Esten was a tall, swarthy man, very angular in appearance, with a nose that looked down-right aerodynamical. He had small, shifty eyes that made him look like an evil cartoon villain. Because Esten was aware of how he looked to others, he tried his best to get along with everybody. He really wanted to overcome the effect his appearance had on others.

            “Hello Mr. Hills, you will be on the third deck, room four, birth eight. Follow this ensign next to me and he’ll take you and your bags to your new room. There will be a crew meeting and then dinner in the main galley at seven thirty. This is where the captain will introduce you all to each other and begin this year’s cruise season with a motivational speech. See you then.”

            Duncan and the ensign made their way down three decks to find his room. Along the way he got a good look at some parts of the ship and he decided that he was going to enjoy his summer. Her Majesty’s Rose had three restaurants for the guests, two movie theaters, two casinos, a smattering of gyms and workout areas, three pools and even a sauna. Of course, as an employee of Royal Star cruise lines Duncan wouldn’t be able to go to a lot of those places, at least, not during the times when the female guests would be there. And he knew that he’d only get to see the restaurants while performing. The galley would be where Duncan would eat.

But even with a bit of segregation between the guests and employees, Duncan felt that it would be a great summer. It was his first time on a boat, but he wasn’t too nervous. Royal Star cruise ships had an excellent record of safety. Sinking was the furthest thought from his mind.    

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Let's Take a Vote


I recently came across a few 84 Glydes that I wrote seven years ago that I never finished. (You'd be surprised how often stuff like this happens.) For whatever reason, I started but didn't finish (TWSS). So I am presenting to you three almost-entries and I want you to pick which one I actually finish. 

And I mean YOU.


1. Aslan

A week or so ago, my sister and I were watching one of those 18-hour-long Narnia movies featuring mythical CGI creatures and snaggly-toothed Brits, and we got to thinking.

            In case you’re not familiar, about three trillion years ago, a science fiction writer by the name of C.S. Lewis, wrote a series of books about a legendary country called Narnia, where fauns and centaurs hang out with talking beavers and mice with knives. It’s all very wholesome and up-lifting for the kiddies. It’s a wonderful book series for children to get lost in and imagine. This is because Lewis was a swinging-dick Christian and he wove layers of religion into his books, surreptitiously exposing kids to Christian themes and ideals. The jerk!

            A main character in the series (and the only one to appear in all seven books) is a Lion called Aslan. Aslan serves as a Deus Ex Machina in that he shows up whenever the protagonists need saving, (which is about every ten pages). He magically shows up and says a few cryptic, Yoda-like koans, then gives a knowing wink, takes a crap and disappears as mysteriously as he arrived, leaving everybody a little wiser in the process. Though Lewis tries to disputes it, Aslan is clearly an allegory for everybody’s favorite messiah: Jesus H. Christ.

            So it got us to thinking, what the hell does Aslan do when he’s not creating new lands, or being killed and then resurrected? How does he spend his time? What does an omnipotent, god-like, fictitious, Jesus-allegory lion do in his spare time?
           
Jesus-allegory Lion, P.I.

            I like to imagine Aslan as a hard-boiled 1930s private detective. He sits in his old, poorly-maintained office, the street lights coming through his blinds in lines, his beat up fedora on a coat rack by the door and a table fan




2. SHAW INTRO

            Whitney Houston may not be singing any power ballads about him, but for those in the know (and with the money), Elija Shaw, C.E.O. of Icon Services, is the first name in elite body-guarding and protection services.
            With almost two decades of experience, Shaw has created a powerful company, providing protection to celebrities like Usher, 50 Cent and Naomi Campbell, as well as various corporate executives.
            Shaw grew up on the mean streets of the Windy City. In order to pay his way through film school, he started working as security at a Chicago nightclub. One thing led to another (as these things often do) and after discovering a real aptitude for security services, Shaw was able to parlay his part-time job into a small empire with 46 employees, working all over the globe.
            Not bad for a guy who never went to business school.
            Based out of Minneapolis, Minn., Shaw began Icon Services in 1998 and has been providing celebrity and executive security ever since. But don’t bother asking for any celebrity gossip; the man’s seen a lot, but he’s professional enough to keep his lips sealed.


3. These Things Happen


            When Travis was 15, he grew a tail.

            It wasn’t a cool tail, like a monkey’s. It wasn’t furry or shaggy like a dog’s. It wasn’t short and stupid, like a pig’s and it wasn’t beautiful and functional like a peacock’s. If anything, it was like a cat’s or some kind of feline. It was about two feet long and covered with yellow hair, with a small tuft of hair at the end.

And it grew overnight. Travis went to bed one night a normal teen and woke up a be-tailed freak.

A person’s natural reaction to waking up to a mutated, Kafka-esque nightmare, would be to scream, and freak out, and Travis was no exception. Upon the discovery, in the mirror, of his tail, he screamed for about ten seconds before he passed out on the floor in front of his bed.

Waking ten minutes later, Travis felt recovered enough to take a shower and get dressed. He discovered that he had enough control over his tail to wrap it around his leg a few times and as long as his pants were baggy enough, he wouldn’t look like John Holmes on steroids.

Walking proved to be a bit difficult and sitting even more so. He had to spend a good fifteen minutes walking in a circle around his room before he felt comfortable enough to go out into the world. He wasn’t too sure what a day of sitting in the world’s most uncomfortable desks would feel like, but he figured he’d learn soon enough.

At breakfast, his mother didn’t notice his fidgeting as he downed his regular breakfast of a bacon, egg and pop tart sandwich. She was too caught up in her own universe where the only things that mattered were stocks, quotas, portfolios and some guy named Dow. Her eyes were glued to the financial section of the paper and her ears were deaf to anything but her own thoughts of trends, investments and money.

Likewise, on the bus, it didn’t seem like anybody else noticed him shift from one cheek to the other as they headed to school. At least, that’s what he thought, until he noticed Hana, across the aisle starring at him from the corner of her eye.

“What’s wrong with you?” She asked, raising an eyebrow.

“What’re you talking about,” Travis responded.

“It looks like you’ve got hemorrhoids or something! Why do you keep moving like that?”

Travis knew Hana was one of the biggest gossips in the school. Entire reputations had been built and destroyed simply by one casually thrown-away statement into the right (or wrong) ear. If he didn’t want to end up a social pariah, not to mention an act in some early 20th century carnival sideshow (Travis had an active imagination), he would have to play this off carefully. Throw her off the scent and lead her to think something else. The best way to do that would be to tell her something slightly embarrassing, but not as bad as the truth.

“Yeah, how’d you know? I usually have one of those donut cushions, but I had to let my grandpa borrow it today,” he said.

“Ewwww! You need to keep that info to yourself!” she said, with obvious disgust before returning to her conversation with a girl in the seat in front of her.

A few giggles and surreptitious glances from Hana and her friend let Travis know that the rumor had been spread. Luckily, she accepted her story, so his secret was safe. On the other hand, all 1,400 students at Rocky Mount High School would soon be making fun of him for having hemorrhoids. Embarrassing, but not as bad as it could be.

Travis found that as long as he didn’t think too hard about the fact that he had a tail, he was able to get through the day with a semblance of normality. He may have looked awkward while sitting through the eight periods of the school day, but he didn’t attract too much gawking.

When he got home after school, he was able to concentrate on his homework, enjoy dinner and watch tv until it was time for bed. He rarely thought about his new appendage.

The next morning, Travis discovered that he didn’t even care that he had a tail. It was starting to feel natural, a part of his body.

After a week, he felt like he’d always had a tail, he couldn’t remember what it felt like to not have one.
After a month he even forgot he had a tail.

That’s probably why he got careless about hiding it, and how his brother, Mark, was able to discover Travis’ secret.
          

So, by comment, or text, or whatever. Lemme know which I should finish. I gotta say, I was going in some interesting directions with these. So it should be interesting to see where any of them lead. 

Saturday, July 21, 2018

The Pool



*tweeeeeeeeeeet*

The whistle sounds weird underwater. It has an odd kind of resonance from the soundwaves meeting actual waves.

I reflexively open my eyes to the noise and instantly regret it. I really need to invest in a pair of goggles. It’s just that I still haven’t mastered the trick of diving while wearing them without the goggles ending up around my neck, or in my mouth like some kind of ball gag.

I raise my head out of the water and through blurry, red eyes, I see a sad sight: all the kids, myself included, have been drummed out of the water. Forced to exit its refreshing embrace against our wills.

For it is now ADULT SWIM.

How I hate those two words! They cause such rage and fury in all children’s’ hearts. Just like DENTIST APPOINTMENT or YOU’RE ADOPTED. Even as I seethe, I see the bloated, pale bodies of the adults arise from their deck chairs and amble to the pool’s edge before awkwardly lowering themselves in the water. Like beached walruses headed to the ocean after sunning their bellies.

I guess I could always go to the kiddie pool. But nah, I’m not that desperate and pools are meant to be cool and refreshing, not unnaturally warm. Guess I’ll just go back to my chair and continue reading Jurassic Park. The movie is coming out next month. I wanna be ready.

Before settling down, I hear a gurgle in my tummy. I rustle around my shorts’ pockets and discover 75 cents. Yes! It’s Italian Ice time! I make my way up the hill to the snack shop and get myself a watermelon-flavored Italian Ice. These damn wooden spoons are weird, but strangely effective at their task.

*Tweeeeeeeeeeeeet*

Excellent! Just in time!

The stampede of kids into the water is amazing to watch. From all corners of the area they come: dropping from the trees they were climbing, abandoning their games of HORSE letting their basketballs bounce into bushes to be rediscovered in 45 minutes, running out of the bathrooms, emerging from bushes they were exploring. Like the ringing of church bells, the lifeguard’s whistle summons us all to come worship at the altar of “The Pool”.

Since nobody is currently using the diving board, a group of us get together and decide to play a game of Red Rover in the deep end. It’s our chance to show our prowess, how deep we can go and how long we can hold our breath.

I always enjoy the pool when I’m there for pleasure instead of business. Nothing sucks more than swim team practice at 6 am. The day hasn’t yet warmed up, the water is still cool from the moon’s light. Steam rises from the water as an early morning fog and you’re barely awake enough to get through the 200-meter freestyle laps you have to do.

But in the afternoon, with the sun high in the sky, blasting its heat upon your body, the pool is the only way to cool down and get in some exercise. You can play with your friends, catch up on your reading, (or if you have a CD player, you can enjoy some tunes) and just relax and enjoy the summer.

I hate leaving the pool, but I always love going.

*Tweeeeeeeeeeeet*

Shit!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Guts Stop Here



I can tell that I’m getting older. It’s not just my Jason Statham hairline, (not his muscles or anything, just his hairline) or my gray pubes or my intense dislike of current music trends. It’s the fact that I’m easily grossed out these days.

I know you probably don’t believe me. Sure, you’ve read all my blog entries,* and my seductive way with words does have the ability to paint very realistic and graphic pictures. For example, when I say stuff like:

I look down and see three things: the hilt of the knife peeking through her fingers, which are clenched in a fist so tight her knuckles are white; the place in my chest where the handle protrudes, like a morbid after-factory modification; and the blossoming pool of blood on my chest with lines of blood going down my stomach, like red rivulets of rain on a window. But more gross.”

Or:

Decades of drunken college use had left a four-inch layer of puke and shit all over every surface. Just walking into the bathroom was like dealing with a HAZMAT environment. You have to hold your breath starting from ten feet away from the bathroom”

Or:

His head was a mass of cuts, shards of glass from the window were embedded in the skin of his face. Parts of his scalp hung loosely from the top of his head in flaps. The bone from his right arm jutted gruesomely from the soft pulpy flesh of his forearm. His legs lay in unnatural positions, one behind his head, one in front of his face. Had he the ability to move his body, he could have kissed his own shin. By the way he was sitting I knew that most, if not all, of his ribs were broken.”

Or even:

With their tongues entwined, the two hot, young teenage girls spent hours engaging in every sexual act they could imagine. The Crippled Olympian, the 23 Skidoo, the Whirling Dervish, the Interrupted Transmission; nothing was beyond their burning desires. Giblets were strubbed, lymph nodes were whitewashed and banders were snatched frumiously.”

You can clearly see all of these scenarios in your mind’s eye, as if they are happening right in front of you. But of course, this is just creative license. Just as Stephen King doesn’t know what it’s really like to be a demonic creature from Hell, James Patterson doesn’t know what it’s like to be a black man in Washington D.C. and E.L. James doesn’t know what the consensual touch of a man feels like, I’m not actually into most of the over the top stuff I write about.

Of course, things were different when I was younger. Like most ill-behaving, wannabe cool boys in their pre-teen and teenaged years, I was totally into viscerally gross stuff. Anything with special effects by Tom Savini, anything by Troma Entertainment, Carrot Top. The grosser the better. If I could handle it, that meant I was totes a manly adult and ready to start my 401(k).

As a kid, I could watch The Toxic Avenger over the weekend and walk into school on Monday with my chest out, humbling my peers with my knowledge of seeing a person’s hands deep-fried at a fast food restaurant. Truly I was a god among boys.

I used to even be really into horror movie make up as a youngster. One day in seventh grade, I gave myself and some of my friends bullet wounds in our foreheads and we went around school that day doing our best impressions of JFK.

But the older I got, the more squeamish I became. Seeing videos and pics online of people after they jump out of windows, or blow their brains out, get their throats slit, or hit by cars isn’t enticing anymore.** It’s not cool or edgy, it’s all just gross and unnecessary. Any “torture porn” movie is definitely right out. I got as far as halfway through Saw III, and just turned the movie off.

Maybe it’s because after being into all the fictional grossness when I was younger, I got to see what it looked like in reality when I was in Iraq and I just don’t have the stomach for that stuff anymore. I dunno. All I know is when given the choice between Disembowelinator 2: The Disemboweling, or Spongebob Squarpants, I’ll choose the latter. 


*You do read them all, right? RIGHT?! Oh please God, say somebody reads these nonsensical ramblings!

**2 Girls 1 Cup on the other hand…

Saturday, July 14, 2018

'Till Walmart Do We Part



I recently read an article online, (okay, I actually skimmed most of the headline and every fourth word of the first three paragraphs, but I got the gist) about a couple from Pennsylvania who decided to hold their wedding at the place where they met and fell in blessed love: Walmart.

They got married there (at a 24-hour Walmart no less) because they wanted their coworkers to be able to attend. I guess Walmart is owned by Ebenezer Scrooge?

Bob Cratchett: Please sir? May I go to hospital?*

Scrooge: Whatever for man?

Cratchett: I was just attacked by a dog foaming at the mouth and me arm’s fallen off.

Scrooge: You’ve still got another arm. Get back to work Cratchett!

Now, as far as weird ass weddings go, I’ve heard of crazier. Hell, I’ve written about crazier ones. There was the time a man in his 80’s and a woman in her 70s decided to get married and live in separate houses, (remember that? Genius!) Or the lady who had a full-on ceremony to marry the Eiffel Tower. But this is still bonkers.

I get that people want marriages that stand out and are special and memorable, but sometimes people sacrifice taste for flare. Then again, who am I to say anything? In an 84 Glyde I wrote back in 2006, I said I wanted my wedding to be on the moon and presided over by a Kung Fu Buddhist Monk. So whatever makes people happy, they can be free to do. Just know that I reserve the right to judge and make fun of you if I so deem it.

*Brits don’t ever say “The Hospital,” or “The University.” Don’t ask me why. I don’t know why they name their food “Bubble and Squeak” either. I leave them to their own devices.   

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

It’s a Living (Or, Traps Don’t Set Themselves)



Let me lay out the scene for you: you’re Henry “Indiana” Jones, Jr. You’ve just killed and/or maimed dozens of Nazis. You’ve traveled three continents and a half-dozen countries. You’ve discovered ancient tombs, flew on a passenger dirigible (why is that no longer a mode of transportation anymore?) and punched a tank off a cliff. While you were at it, you got Hitler’s autograph and you and your father ran a train on a hawt blonde chick. How do you cap it all off?

You find and quaff from the Holy Grail, of course.

However, it’s not as easy at it sounds. You’ve got to traipse through tunnels, avoid traps that have killed those who came before you, and pray to Jebus. All of a sudden, you encounter some kind of weird hopscotch diagram on the rocky ground, covered with strange letters from an ancient language. If you don’t tread on the proper squares, you will plummet to a spiky doom. After a few suspenseful missteps, causing portions of the floor to fall, you arrive safely on the other end and continue your quest. Never to think about that hopscotch court again.

 But hold up. Let’s rewind a little here. We’re not entirely sure who created these traps. Maybe they were ancient aliens, or time-travelers or Omni Consumer Products. There’s no way to know. But the real question is:  who maintains the upkeep on these damn traps? Clearly somebody has to hang around the secret resting place of the Holy Grail to rebuild the ground every time somebody messes up and takes a swan dive into the abyss. Some unlucky soul has to oil the decapitating saw blades and rearrange the dead bodies into positions that induce dread in the next person who tries their luck overcoming the traps. And what about the “Leap of Faith”?*

Does this guy, (let’s call him Bob) does Bob live in the cave, or nearby? How’d he get this job?

Ancient Art Vandelay: Hey Bob, we’re almost done building this huge temple made entirely out of heavy ass rocks over a bunch of bottomless pits, (not sure how we managed that one) but we need your help to finish the project. We have two tasks, are you up for it?

Ancient Bob: Sure. What do I have to do?

Ancient Art Vandelay: Firstly, we need you to go out and find about two hundred random ass cups. I’m talking all sizes and shapes. Ordinate and hella cheap. Any material: wood, glass, clay, plastic. Doesn’t matter. Then bring those cups back and set them all over the damn place in this one cavern here. The more random and meaningless the spots, the better.

Ancient Bob: Umm, okay. I don’t understand it, but anything for the cause, I guess. What’s the second task?

Ancient Art Vandelay: It’s no biggie, trust me, it’s not. But you’d be doing us a big favor. I’m gonna need to make you immortal and kinda have you sweep up around here for the rest of eternity. Ok?

Ancient Bob:…

Ancient Art Vandelay: It’ll look really good on your next employee review. Believe me.

That’d be ghastly! But it doesn’t just end there. Over the course of three and a half movies, Indy encounters a large assortment of one-time-use traps, riddles, mazes and thingamajigs. Imagine the army of poor chumps who have to constantly reset these things. Not only is that completely round boulder in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” a masterpiece of engineering, so is whatever method they use to push the damn thing back up the ramp each time some jerk comes bumbling through the place. Same goes for the room with all the poisonous needles, (that poison doesn’t reapply itself every few weeks) and the part of the cave where the ground literally separates. And that’s just for a ten-minute sequence. Throw in the rest of the movies and you’ve got an entire Union of Trap Workers (Local 249). God knows what would happen if they all went on strike!

Which brings me to my last point/pointless question. Why did these civilizations who had the ability to build devices centuries before anybody else, even die out in the first place? Forget the fact that all these groups of people came up with the same idea of building stupid ruses, pitfalls, gambits and artifices (I got tired of writing trap) independently of each other, why did none of them focus on stuff like medicine or agriculture? If you were electing a new pharaoh or Grand Pubbah, would you vote for the guy who promises to devote more time into developing this new “wheel” thingy, or the guy with spittle flying from his mouth promising to commit all resources, including turning you into a slave, to bury the “wheel” in a cave two miles deep, guarded by scorpions and rotating saw blades until the end of time, because it is clearly the work of the devil and should belong to nobody?

I believe UTW Local 249 already knows the answer to that.
 
*This is a total sidebar, but think about it. It’s the only trap where the single way to fail is to not be suicidal. What would stop somebody who has already beaten the first two traps from leaving and coming back with equipment to make a bridge across the chasm that leads directly to the grail?

Monday, July 02, 2018

Try, Try Again



“Okay Gus, it’s Friday night, we got a bottle of whiskey, a Tony Montana-sized-amount of coke and a laptop. Let’s come up with some reboot ideas!”

“Beautiful Stan. What cha got?”

“Alright, hmmmm. People liked Dinosaurs, right? That was a popular show in the 90s. Let’s bring them back.”

“Umm, I’m pretty sure they all died in the last episode Stan. Killed by a sudden ice age brought about by environmental pollution or some shit.”

“Who cares G-Dawg? Easy fix. They find a time machine and travel to our present time and try to live like normal dinosaurs in the modern world, trying to go to school and hold down jobs whilst wearing shirts but no pants. They have a stone house and animal appliances. Wait, was that them or The Flintstones with animal slave labor? Who cares, we can still make it work!”

“Alright Stan, I’ll put that in the ‘maybe pile. What’s next?”

“Okay, okay. Let’s see….Ooh! How about we reboot ALF? Everybody loves that little scamp and his acerbic sense of humor!”

“Well, in the last episode, he was captured by the government and it was implied that he was going to be experimented on and dissected.”

“Really? Wow, that’s some heavy stuff for a kids’ show about a small, fuzzy, adorable alien. That was the thing that drew everybody into that show! Tell you what, let’s say the government does experiment on him, but they turn him into a full-sized adult male? That way, we bring the nostalgic fans in with what they think they want, but instead we give them what they don’t want, there by telling them what they really wanted all along!”

“That doesn’t make any sense Stan.”

“Yeah it does! And as an adult male, he works as a P.I. using his knowledge of Melmac and what cats taste like, to solve murders! We’ll call it Gordon Shumway, PI!”

“Who’s Gordon Shumway?”

“Duh G-Man, that’s ALF’s real name.”

“So why do they call him ALF?”

“Sigh, it stands for Alien Life Form. You think ET’s name was ET? Nope, his name was Barry Schwartzberg. Get with it man.”

“Anyway, enough about ALF. But you do seem to be really stuck on rebooting tv shows with puppets.”

“Puppets! Yes! Brilliant! We’ll bring back Today’s Special? But make it edgier!”

“…Stan, only you and maybe five Canadians in their late 30s remember that bullshit show.”

“Exactly. This is the 21st Century G-Wheezy, the age of the Millennials. The more obscure and pointless shit they know, the cooler they are in the eyes of their shiftless brethren. We could make it a web-only show. All of the puppets will be addicted to opioids, (so topical! “Ripped from today’s headlines!”) the mannequin guy is a gigolo, but only for men who are into stiff pieces of wood (get it?)  and the black chick is an inept hitman. We’ll make that shit viral!”

“These ideas are insane Stan. I love them! But tell me, why are we doing reboots of previously existing properties? Are the legends true? Has the prophesy come to pass? Is Hollywood out of original, creative ideas?”

“Of course not! Why just look at Jupiter Ascending. That was very original and creat…actually, forget that one. Rebooting previous franchises means we already have a built-in audience for whatever it is. Plus, there’s always the nostalgia factor. No matter how garbagy something was when people were kids, they only remember it with fondness. That, combined with bringing in a new audience and pushing merchandise is why you’ve got Michael Bay rebooting Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

“Oh, that seems kind of soulless and manipulative. Don’t you think? Aren’t we here to create fresh, innovate and entertaining works of art for people to enjoy? Or are we here to just make easy money and take sexual advantage of naive, innocent young women looking for their big break in ‘Tinsel town’?”

“Wait. Who hired you again?”

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Come See The Amazing Drunken Arguers


    
        
(Originally written in 2008)

There’s nothing like a loud, awkward argument in public.
           
Fun, don’t cha think?
           
I enjoy the screeching and yelling. It always brings a smile to my face.
           
If you enjoy public brawls then I personally invite you to my Fourth of July party next year (it’d be this year but I have a previous engagement to sweat my ass off in Iraq. And it’s a big ass, so I’ll be here for awhile).
           
But next year…..Ahhhh next year. Here’s what you can expect as entertainment at my party:
           
Got a new lady, her name’s Jaynie. Those who know me know that I dig on the whole Mrs. Robinson vibe, so she’s a little older (and sexy!). I love her and all, but sadly, she’s a little feisty. We talk online but we tend to argue from time to time, (something to do with my being here and her being free to enjoy the company of other men.) So, we’ve decided to take our act public.
           
At next year’s party (which will have delicious, non-human-based grilled foods and plenty of libations) I invite you to witness the drunken entertainment that will be me and Jaynie, as we “talk about our relationship.” Here’s how I’m sure it’ll go down.
           
First, we’ll start things off with a violently whispered conversation, much like the dozens of couples’ arguments that you’ve heard before. They’re kind of quiet, but at the same time drunkenly loud. With people trying to rein in big, sweeping gestures and shifting their eyes back and forth like Snidely Whiplash.
           
Next will be the decisive walk-away by one of us, (depends on who’s winning the argument.) The walk-away is always preceded by the dramatic chair-fall. And, of course, the spin-around with the last word. I love the last word because so often it makes no sense: “And you can tell her to fluffer your nutter!”
           
After the walk-away comes the “storming back in,” because sometimes the last word just isn’t enough. The storming is the introduction to act two.
           
Act two is fun because it’s audience participation. You won’t be able to pretend that you don’t hear the argument anymore. You’ll have to sit back and watch. Especially when one of us decides to single out an audience member with the line “but blank agrees with me. Right blank?!” That’s how you know it’s your turn to join in the fun! (Providing your name is Blank, I guess.)
           
When act two commences all pretences will be dropped. No more pretending to keep it civil. There will be YELLING!! And SHOUTING INCOHERENTLY! The interesting thing for the audience will be trying to decode what we’re talking about as we reference conversations and situations that are at least a year old. Relationships are great!
           
Act three will be when the threats are thrown around like one-dollar bills at a strip club (yes, dollar bills. I don’t frequent the classy establishments.) Feelings will be hurt and tempers will rise. Everything will build to a very loud and fascinating crescendo, culminating in a glass of water (or a cup of beer) being thrown in my face! Don’t miss the exciting end to the day’s entertainment!
           
Once Jaynie’s thrown liquid at me feel free to depart with whatever food you can carry, because that’ll be the end of the show and I’ll be kicking everybody out anyway.
           
So please, please come to my Fourth of July party next year. It’ll be a blast.

Talk about fireworks!*


*Get the joke I made there? There’ll be fireworks because we’ll be arguing! It’s a play on words! I’m hilarious.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

We Like To Party!


O brother, where art thou? Come back to us Mr. Six! Come back! We miss you ever so much. We miss your tuxedo, your fancy shoes, your suspenders, the classy red bow tie. And, of course, those ever so stylish glasses.

Your weird, creepy face though? Not so much.

The summer is nigh and this country needs the kind of solace and respite only a withered, insane old, over-dressed man can provide. Speaking of which, why are you wearing a tuxedo in the summer bruh? And even more so, why are you wearing a full tuxedo at a WATER PARK, my dude? You don’t see me wearing jams and holding a boogie board at weddings. It’s called decorum.

Anyway, I like to imagine a typical muggy D.C. area summer’s morning with people melting on the sidewalk like ice cream cones in the sun, when all of a sudden, a dated, gaudy red-and-yellow bus pulls up and a snazzily-dressed homunculus jumps out and proceeds to have a Grand Mal seizure set to bad 90s music. Who wouldn’t enjoy that? Doesn’t that just scream summer?!

This is why we need you Mr. Six! You embody summertime fun. Also, there have recently been less maimings and accidental deaths* at Six Flags’ 31 amusement parks than one would expect. Less than 50 people have been precariously trapped on roller coasters for several spine-chilling hours over the last decade. Less then two dozen children and senior citizens have been violently tossed from various rides only to land on the hard, unyielding concrete in the same time frame. Only around ten or so guests and trainers have been attacked and/or gored by tigers, elephants and other safari inhabitants.
I mean, some park workers have been killed by roller coasters, but they knew what they signed up for, so nuts to them.

Compared to that waterside in Kansas that decapitated an 11-year-old boy, (I almost included a link, but decided against it, you’re welcome) Six Flags (Motto: Would You Rather Waste Your Money At Disney?)  is doing pretty well. Who wouldn’t want to be associated with such a great safety track record?

But you don’t have to take my word for it, just listen to these true responses when I went to a local playground to ask kids if they missed Mr. Six.

Who?”

“No, I don’t want any of your candy mister!”

“Are you supposed to be here?”

“Baba Booey.”

“Help! Police!”

Ha ha ha! Those wacky kids. Truly, children are our future. But as you can tell, not only are you missed, but there’s an entire new generation of America’s youth that needs to be introduced to your manic and off-putting physical hijinks. You need to come back to inform and entertain (yeah, entertain is a pretty strong word for what you do, but I mean it!).

So until the glorious second (third?) coming of Chri…I mean Mr. Six, I’ll maintain a heart full of hope and keep the home fires burning.

HAVE A SUMMAH!

*Or were they…purposeful murders?

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

You May call Me LORD


I can’t believe it. I was ordained as a Kentucky Colonel for less than a week before I wrote an entry all about the experience, my newfound powers and my future plans as a Colonel (sorry, French Foreign Legion, I’ll get to you soon). And yet, here I’ve been living with a newer, more esteemed title for the last three years and I have failed to acquaint you with this knowledge.
For you see, I am LORD JOSHUA OF HOUGUN MANOR. Or Lord of the Manor for short. Lord Josh if you’re nasty.

It’s true, I am the Lord of Hougun Manor, near the banks of Coniston Water in Cumbria, in northwest England. It is one of the three northernmost counties in England, yet it was the only Cumbrian area documented in the Domesday Book of 1086. The title of Hougun Manor comes from the Old Norse word “haugr” which means ‘among the hills’. This exemplifies just how much control of northwest England the Normans had up until 1092, when William II of England beheaded Norman Fell, Norman Rockwell and Norman Reedus, thereby ending Norman influence in the region. Isn’t history fascinating?!

The estate is a picturesque expanse of 90 acres (or 132 farthings for my European friends). It’s been deemed an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) by Natural England. I have no idea what any of that means, but you can tell it’s clearly important, what with all of the words being capitalized.



The estate is rife with all types of scenic shit. There’s the “Old Man of Coniston” a climbable peak at 2,635 feet (6,325 leagues). As well as Torver Beck, the only river with both a first and last name. Old Torver “The Raging” Beck empties into the aforementioned Coniston Water, the THIRD LARGEST LAKE IN THE DISTRICT! Isn’t that amazing? My pants are wet with excitement!

“But Josh*”, you’re saying, “what does this mean for you? What newfound power do you wield?”
The short answer, my child, is that there’s simply no way of knowing just how vast my eminence is. It’s quite unfathomable. But if I do manage to make my way across the pond to my august manor, there are a few things I would amend. As a Lord, it is not only my duty, it is my honor to humbly 

bestow my grace upon the quaint folk of my estate. Here are a few of my new commandments:
-All boiled meats shall be banished under penalty of flogging.

-Henceforth, the names for dishes will no longer be stupid nor nonsensical. That means you Toad in the Hole, Spotted Dick, Bubble and Squeak, Welsh Rarebit and Benedict Cumberbatch.
-Don’t like the Imperial measurement system? Too bad. I feel that you, my loyal peasants, need a good healthy dose of American Imperialism! Miles, yards and feet for everybody!
-So as not to confuse your legal tender with your weight, your money shall no longer be called “pounds” Instead, they will be referred to as “Cyber Credits”. Because that sounds dope as shit.
-Anybody named Liam will henceforth be called Len. Anybody with the last name Smythe will change it to Smith. Anybody named Liam Smythe will be killed on sight.
-Once per fortnight all shall be forced to watch three episodes of “Meet the Kardashians” just to remind my peons how good they have it under my rule.
-A Big Mac in every pot and an El Camino in every garage.

Anyway, that’s just a small taste. I have big plans in the way of mandatory tanning sessions and American slang reeducation. Soon a bright day will dawn in the nooks and crannies of my Manor.
It’s good to be the Lord.

*Umm, Lord Josh please, lest we forget.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Milestones



Well, it sure as hell took me long enough, but we’re finally here! My 300th Eighty-Four Glyde entry. You’ve come a long way baby! Of course it took my lazy, thin-skinned ass 12 years what I had planned to do in six. But oh well, better late than never, right?*
Over the last twelve years that I’ve been airing my inner demons via bad jokes and pointless observations about white people. I’ve had quite the existence. I’ve been sent to Iraq twice, I’ve moved nine times, have had six or seven jobs and assassinated four heads of state. Never a dull day for me!**
I started Eighty-Four Glyde in 2006, during my second tour in Iraq. This is a matter of historical record and can be easily verified in any reputable library. (Side note: with all the biopics they’re making these days, when are we gonna get a movie about that Dewey chap and the creation of his decimal system? The world awaits eagerly.) I started writing for a few reasons. I’ve covered them in depth in previous entries, so I’ll just skim here. I was a journalist in the Army and enjoy writing. I always liked the humor columnist Dave Barry and wanted to do something similar. This year was also when MySpace was gaining in popularity (I have no MySpace jokes. I’m going to let Tom rest in peace.) and it made a great platform for people trying to write, discover their talents and spread their work to the world. Unless you were Tia Tequila who chose MySpace to publicly document her decent into madness and obscurity.
I’ve covered a lot of topics over the years, from movies to Japanese porn, all the way to movies. It was truly a comprehensive list of subjects. I tried to never get political, though this blog has existed during Republican and Democratic leaders in office. Presidents come and go.
I took a year off in 2017. My head just wasn’t in the game and couldn’t think of anything funny that didn’t also open the door to my own issues. And I wasn’t ready to be that open to a bunch of (nonexistent), faceless people online. So a break seemed in order, perhaps maybe something more permanent.
You see, there’s been a huge shift in Internet content. People used to enjoy reading stuff online. But tides have changed. Amateur videos on YouTube are all the rage right now. These days people are more into images and symbols (like Wing Dings) than words. Why write the word “penis” when you can just post an eggplant emoji? (Also who decided that shit?) they say a picture’s worth a thousand words, and much easier to read. Lazy millennial bastards!
Sorry bout that. Anyway, with the sea change taking place online, people like me have to translate their skills because blogs and their ilk are relegated to the outskirts of the web. They still exist, they just get fewer visitors these days. Like your grandfather in a nursing home. Gee, that sounded darker than it should have. Let’s brighten the mood!
Everybody raise your Zima high in the air! Let us celebrate the past 12 years and 300 entries and pray (in English) to god I get some kind of book deal soon so I don’t have to do this for another 12 years!

*Wrong.
**Still wrong.