Situation Normal. Atmosphere Breathable. Brainstem Injected. Dialogue Engaged.
stg-roadrunner-gfx
Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Squirrels With Attitudes

Good morning. What a lazy, contemptible weekend I just spent. Much like the rest of my fair country, I honored America's dead soldiers yesterday. Different folks have different ways of showing their gratitude, and I am no different.


Get that squirrel a flak jacket, an assault rifle, and ship him off.

I sat around like a bag of pudding. I spread out over my furniture and let my limbs splay out. I made no effort whatsoever to support even one ounce of my flesh. My arms dangled from the sides of my plush chair, my head lolled back against the cushion, and my eyelids only opened halfway. Occasionally I made the effort to push a button or two on my remote. Several times I napped.

I watched sports. Nothing says "thanks for your noble sacrifice" like nine straight hours of baseball. I threw wide the windows and the perfect weather swept in, constantly refreshing me. I was still shower fresh halfway through the second game. I felt I was a gleaming infant. Well, barring the occasional profanity I muttered at the swarthy baseball umpires inside my television. I suppose I was more like a gruff talking infant with facial stubble and a soggy cigar. Sort of.

Finally, I made food. I boiled a few pig necks and made vegetable soup with them. I made a pepperoni pizza with six cheeses on premade crust. I was pleased with myself. Of course I chose to ignore the few nitpicks about the pizza and soup, comforting myself with the thought that I made the effort, and therefore I get things my way. Complainers can go eat dry toast.

My next door neighbors celebrated differently. They began on Monday night at 10:30pm. They grilled hamburgers, smoked blunts, blasted Cypress Hill, threw down slang, and threw up gang signs like they just didn't care. It always makes me happy to see docile boring suburban white children imitate music videos. It's even better when they get tattoos on their knuckles that read BORN 2DIE. These kids are the same as the role-playing types, except these ones haven't figured out they're playing roles yet. They're not smoking crack, throwing dice, or bustin' caps yet, but I can dream. I managed to refrain from starting trouble. I wanted to hide around the corner yelling "Holla!" while they zipped around looking for the perpetrator, constantly tripping over their low-slung pants.

Okay, time for me to get some work done. Time to purge all the tasks that have built up like infectuous diseases in a humid asylum. I really don't feel like interrupting my lazy streak, but I have no choice. It's gonna take a lot of chemical sanitzer to erase this scum:


Not my actual job. I am not a custodian. No, I don't know what the purple stuff is, so don't ask me.
11:30 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Friday, May 27, 2005

Chorizo Abortion Spackle

Since I didn't have to report for work until well after noon today, I decided to get good and loaded last night. I assembled a loyal group of chughappy ruffians and we proceeded to quaff with enthusiasm. The first can was cracked at sundown.

We spent several hours downloading music and searching out lyrics. With these tools at our disposal we sang horrible hoarsethroated karaoke to a captive band of terrified pets. We spilled upon ourselves, belched in staccato, and toasted to frivolity and merriment.

Six hours and two cases later, the inevitable occured. The genetic memories of ancestors long dead whispered from deep within my addled brain to moan a chant imploring me to hunt and kill. My sauced brain translated these gutteral urges into a modern desire: burrito time.

After failing in our search to find a shack that would deliver burritos, we methodically triangulated the locations of several establishments until we zeroed in upon one that we could walk to with minimal chances of getting arrested for public urination.

As I swayed along the sidewalk, chemistry and biology conspired within me. Beer roiled within my gut, slapping at the soft pink walls of my stomach with incessant violence. Bile foamed upon the crests, straining and grasping at my esophagus, desperate to induce heartburn that would exact a deserved revenge upon me for abusing my digestive tract with nary an acknowledgement of prudent limitations.


Stomach lining is fascinating.

Nice try, internal gastronomic nemesis. I am made of hardier stuff, and I haven't finished with you yet.

We arrived at Lazo's Tacos at 3am. I wobbled over to an empty table and lowered myself into a chair. One of my friends made it safely to the table. The other was seen using his hands to clench his asscheeks shut as he pogoed to the bathroom.

"I thought the uncontrollable shitting was supposed to occur after the burritos."

"He had two pots of coffee for breakfast and refried beans with jalapenos for lunch."

"He should rent a powerwasher and come back here tomorrow. It's the polite thing to do, I think."



This was no time to be talking about dribbling anuses. We were about to eat. When I'm sober I'm sensible enough to order Mexican food with steak or chicken in it. Solid respectable meats that produce solid respectable poops.

When I'm drunk I order chorizo. Chorizo is unlike any other meat. It glows a reddish orange color. It seeps into the rest of your food, radioactive lava slowly spreading downhill, filling every crevice, staining every surface it touches. It creeps through the lettuce, across the beans, out the tortilla, over your hands, up your arms, and into your ears. You become the Elvis of farting. Amber grease pools up in your mouth, drips from your teeth, and sprays out in a fine mist speckling formerly pristine surfaces everywhere you breathe. You become an oozing toxic beast of a person. You find yourself clipping coupons for diapers.

The chorizo you ingest is no better. As silt it settles quickly in the bottom of your gut, clogging the drain into your intestines. Intestinally it swirls like sand grit, scraping loose the ancient wads of chewing gum and stray embedded cartiledge flakes that snuck in as unidentified ingredients in the relish dog you bought at the convenient mart two years ago. The chorizo/bile muck oils down your guts so thoroughly that your resident tapeworms lose their grips and fall shocked and cold right out of your ass. You're a human noodle factory and your toilet (hopefully not your pants) becomes a habitat for the excreted eels. Your sphincter is stained as if you rubbed too much fake tan lotion on it. Fiber has nothing on chorizo.


Hymenolepis: The rat tapeworm.

I got about halfway through my burrito before I could take no more. My digestive tract had stopped complaining, now long dormant and silent in cowering fear. I felt like a real winner. What a meal. What a night!

I'm hungry. Time to go nuke the leftovers.
8:10 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Thursday, May 26, 2005

My Worst Summer

I was forced to go live under my parents' roof for a six month period when I changed jobs two years ago. This indignity was compounded by several humiliating factors: my little brother now owned my former bedroom, I had little or no money, it was the peak of summertime, and we had fleas.

I hated this. The air conditioning was rarely turned on since Dad was also unemployed. It was very hot in the house. The only way for me to get relief was to lay on the cold concrete of the basement floor. I even slept there sometimes, right next to the washer and dryer. I got the occasional spiderbite when I lay there, but that was cake compared to the insect assault I was soon to endure.

Dad drank bourbon. Due to this hobby he slept in the living room while Mom slept upstairs. He'd hang out the back sliding door all night long, blowing cigarette smoke, ashing all over the light brown deck. As the night wore on he'd shed articles of clothing one by one, until finally at 1am he'd pass out on the back porch in his underwear with a cigarette filter smoldering between his scarred fingers. Sometimes I'd find pizza crusts in the toaster or urine in the refrigerator if he'd had a good night.

One day a possum, raccoon, or some other wild gamey marsupial nested itself underneath the deck. The furry creature brought a severe flea infestation along. The deck was just a wooden platform standing a foot above the ground, more of a porch than a deck. But it was slatted, and insects and other assorted pests could pass through it easily.

I began to notice a problem when I was watching an inane television show one steamy July day. My legs felt tingles. Little pinching nerve twitches. I couldn't see why. At first. Then I saw a few small holes in my right ankle. The holes grew swollen pink rings around them. Then they glazed over with a translucent apricot colored jelly that dried and encrusted like mucus.

And they itched. Oh, how they itched. I scratched sizable chunks of flesh off my legs.

I slowly lost my ability to remain calm. Over a period of two weeks, I finally began to figure out that I was getting bites from the floor, not from an airborne pest like a deerfly or mosquito. When I slept on the family room floor they bit my ass and shoulders, too.

I lost my composure, slowly but steadily. I began to stand in place and stare down, obsessively trying to locate the cause of my welts. Finally I saw the hopping black specs. Loathing and disgust welled up as I began to yell at my father about the little ebony sesame seeds with grapefruit spoon teeth that cored into my legs and sucked my blood.



Dad showed me his legs. They were much, much worse. He'd been drunk on the patio many times. His legs were freckled and bloody.

I spread the news. My mother did not believe me. She's a sweet woman, but she's the type to deal with a problem by saying nice reassuring things and waiting for it to go away. The third day she tried to tell me it might be mosquitos I forced her to look at my legs. I screamed at her. I swore. I was mean. I had to get through. My sisters looked at me like I was a monster. How could I be so vicious and horrible to sweet old mother? Did I want to be just like my father?

My younger sister eventually recognized reality. She had a couple bites of her own. She promptly moved out to her boyfriend's house, wrapped all her exposed sheeting and clothing into sealed bags, and quarantined herself from the rest of us. My mother and little brother had no bites. They were immune. They had the wrong blood flavor for flea suckling, or a natural anti-flea musk about their feet.

I became increasingly volatile. I wore three pairs of socks at once. I used rubberbands to seal my pants to my ankles. I refused to sit down. I stared at the carpet all the time. I took three scalding showers a day. I scratched. I bled. I shaved my legs from the knees down. I cried. I did research.

Finally, one day, I kicked everybody out of the house. I closed all the doors and windows and I fumigated. I put bug bombs in every room. Nobody was allowed back inside for five hours. I went back in first, and I forbade my father from opening the back door ever again. I forbade him from inviting those horrible little fucking monsters back in. Against my mother's wishes I allowed smoking inside the house. I knew she suffered from asthma and weak lungs, but she'd survive longer with that problem than with a twitching angry homicidal son with bulging eyes and bloody legs.

The house was safe again. Then we all got evicted.
7:26 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Calcium Deposits

My employer has a big hardware unveiling at a restaurant in Wisconsin today. I've been invited. Attendance is optional. I thought about attending. I would love to drive my unreliable expolding vehicle 100 miles straight north along the lake to shake their hands. I'd love to traverse the open country all afternoon long to arrive at a fast food joint that I could've visited two blocks from work. And I'd still have to pay for my sandwich? Wear a button shirt and slacks? Holy shit. I think I've got diarrhea. Yep. Sorry, can't go.



I think I'm going to stay here. To be fair, while I was encouraged to attend, and it would be the proper cheerleading asskissing chuckleheaded thing to do, they didn't make it mandatory. They would understand my decision to decline since my boss put me on the 6am shift this week. My sleep schedule is so fucked up I would probably nod off on a sparkling Wisconsin toilet. I can picture it already:

I can hear my snoring. I can see ribbons of shredded lettuce fluttering from my mouth, anchored between teeth, rusting quickly in the heat of my breath. I can see smears of unwiped mustard and mayonaise encrusting around my mouth, flakes of oregano poking out like tiny stegosaurus blades. My pants sit around my ankles. Thank god this store is new and the floor is pristine, or I'd have drain flies beginning to nest. The auto-flusher keeps triggering whenever I twitch or snore too loud, and the spray is keeping my ass perpetually moistened. I'm so relaxed that my shit is skydiving out in small little recreational clusters, enjoying the novelty of getting out without being pushed or squeezed. Outside, my boss is beginning to worry, unable to do anything for fear of creating an embarassing scene for our fair company.

I am tempted to go for one reason. I love visiting the tourist trap cheese shops right over the border. I love cheese. Goudas, Cheddars, Muensters, Bricks, you name it, they have all the best there. After brief consideration and reflection, I am deterred by milk. Milk? Yes.

When I wrote about the surprise grocery bounty last week I neglected to mention the two gallons of two percent. I already had a full untouched carton before all the free stuff arrived. That adds up to three gallons total for you math whizzes out there, and the first had a sell-by date of May 17th. Since Sunday I've been drinking a lot of milk. Every day. Don't do that.



My skin feels soft and squishy, my brains feels like yogurt, my bowels have just begun stewing the most disgusting farts of my life, and I have slimy white clumps of leftover enzymes squirting out of my facial pores like a thousand little toothpaste nozzles. I can't talk without phlegm bubbles foaming and popping in my throat. It's fucking gross. Want some cheese? No. Tonight I'm going to burn all the curdled sludge away with whiskey and hot sauce.

Sorry boss. Sorry Wisconsin. Maybe next time.
7:30 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Monday, May 23, 2005

One Nun's Frustration




I'm up to no good today. Come visit more ugliness over at the Handsomes. Clickee the nunnee.
10:40 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Euthanasia, Cremation, Scattering

Some days are simply not meant to be enjoyed. I expected to spend my Monday like a cheerful upstanding worker bee. An obnoxiously happy person. The one you hate, the one with a monopoly on sunshine and radiance. Everything would be wonderful for me. Mr Productive! Mr. You Betcha! Mr. Thumbs Up!

Not a fucking chance. I'm going to take a nap as soon as I finish typing this self pitying heap of letters.

I'm still not normal after this weekend. I flaked out on helping my sister move to her new apartment on Saturday. She didn't call me until late on Friday night, but I had made plans late into the night and I was already in full swing. I tried to make it there on Saturday, but by the time I could leave to help she didn't seem to want my help anymore, and spoke to me with dismissive exasperation. I felt guilty, perhaps irrationally. So I went out that night and drank a boatload of liquor and indulged in a few other ill-advised confections.

I landed on a couch at 3am. I was sweating gallons, feverish, and breathing raggedly. I wanted desperately to fall asleep, but vertigo and my body temperature chased away any notion of rest for a long time. Friends became concerned.


Next time, avoid free mystery drugs from strangers.

"Are you okay? Why are you sweating? It's cool in here."

"I'm fine, just a little dizzy. Don't worry about it."

"Steve, you're pale. You look terrible. What's wrong?"

"Nothing, just feeling tired and thristy. Don't I smell great?"

"I'll give you that. That's a hell of a nice deodorant."

"Yep."

"Want another beer?"

"Uh....no. Water. On ice. How about that?"

"Sure, be right back."

My hangover the next day was punishing. Through all of Sunday I felt like I'd been stuffed down a sumo wrestler's thong right before a match. Gargantuan slimy buttocks mashed me left and right, simultaneously suffocating me and tenderizing me into pulpy swampass grease.


Tag me, bag me, slag me.

Finally my day of purgatory ended. I managed to fall asleep after I finished watching Every Which Way But Loose. I slept for three fitful hours before my cruel alarm twisted its diamond corkscrew into my ears with malicious glee.

My eyes feel like frying yolks, my brain feels like a nerf football getting chewed up by a really dumb dog, and I think I'm going to swear at everybody who reads this in hope that it'll make me feel better.

Fuck you. Nope, didn't help. Once more, with feeling. Fuck All Of You. Nothing. I guess I'll just have to feel sorry for myself for the rest of the day.
8:15 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Friday, May 20, 2005

Palsy Parade

As I was driven to work this morning I had the luxury of watching the bleak airport scenery instead of the road ahead. As my roommate and I sped along Irving Park Road past O'Hare International, I spied a police SUV pulled off into the dirt, facing towards a small patch of forest.

The forest is a modest shallow ring of trees circling a series of dirt mounds. Dump trucks haul this dirt to various ignored Chicagoland locations like railyards, landfills, campgrounds, and construction zones, where they spill it in haphazard cascades of crumbled earth.

The vehicle was running and the door was open. On the side it was marked "Special Police." I'm used to seeing plenty of Jeeps and SUVs marked "U.S. Customs" around here. They parade around with dogs that sniff Mexican crotches for heroin. The officers molest the immigrants' asses for green cards and pesos and think it's funny to ask for lawnmower licenses.

The Special Police must be something else. What is special, exactly? As a small child, I thought I was special. Mommy said so. As I got older I learned that special means retarded, crippled, diseased, or extremely dumb. I was glad not to be special. Glad to be a commonplace average boring normal person. Anything but SPESHUL.

Apparently now we train and hire police for the express civic responsibility of tracking down wayward retards. Do we have a problem with strays? I wouldn't be surprised to learn that drooling idiots are sneaking into the Korea Air building in hopes of getting shipped to the north pole to play with Santy Claus. Perhaps some of them have weaker imaginations and just want to joyride on the luggage conveyors. The social tards just want to pogo around the terminals flapping their limp wrists all about while the poop seeps through their ill-fitting pants.



They're everywhere, not just in McDonald's commercials. We have a tard invasion on our hands. Anarchy has broken out and these slackeyed meltyfaced infantile flappy skinned gurgling retards are fleeing short yellow busses everywhere, refusing the tyranny of patronizing special ed teachers in favor of mindless capering throughout our transportation hubs.

This morning I witnessed one such episode, though only from the periphery. On the other side of the forest patch, beyond my vision, a howling laughing moron boy was scampering away in untied shoes. He thought the cop was circle racing with him.

I think the cops will get frusrated eventually, and they will start pounding dents into the soft retard skulls with their steel flashlights. They'll have to change the paint on their SUVs to read "Evolution Police."
10:21 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Thursday, May 19, 2005

Geographic Confluence

My horrible damn car started chirping yesterday. The keening ululation outshouted my radio and clawed loose noodles from my tender brain. As my heart palpitated and my stomach churned, I heard a loud SPING! and then "clank, ca-clank, ca-clank." The sound receded as I witnessed in my rearview mirror a small circular metal object bounce away down the street. The car behind me swerved but punted it anyways. It was a miniature little wheel and it bounced away like a rubber tire from a cartoon car wreck.

I pulled into the nearest parking lot. Up went the hood. Since it doesn't stay up alone and has no hook pole, for a prop I use an intricately carved wavy wooden bolt of lightning I painstakingly crafted during my whittling phase two years ago. After propping the lid, I leaned in for inspection. One of the wheels for the alternator belts was absent. All that remained was a lonesome naked bolt sticking out like a dick at Abu Ghraib.

The belt rest on it, already starting to take damage from the few yards I'd driven without my belt wheel. Damn it all to hell. Fucking car. I hurriedly jammed all the fast food garbage behind my passenger seat into a shopping bag, tied it shut, and stashed it deep in my trunk. Perfect. Now I would not be ashamed upon handing the vehicle over to a filth slathered grease monkey mechanic.

I looked around. I was in a bank parking lot. To my right stood an auto repair shop, and across the street, the Itasca Metra station. That's right. I broke down in front of a auto shop to fix my car, a bank to get train fare, and a train that drops off a mile from my home.

Nice.

I didn't even have to wait for the train. I got home and asked after another vehicle for use on Thursday, today. It was inoperative with a dead battery. Not good. I'm due in at 6 am. I corralled a neighbor and got a jumpstart. Up and purring. Due to an apparent electrical problem I couldn't turn the headlights off. I started messing with the bright switch, which is also the windshield wiper lever. I was standing outside the car at the time, and I accidentally triggered the wipers. I managed to squirt the chemical fluid right into my eye. I always wanted blue eyes, but not like this. I was feeling a bit loopy and dejected by this point.

Finally I succeeded, and here I am. I'm going to take a nap now, before everyone gets here.
6:42 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Mystery Shopper Demographic Analysis

Early on Sunday afternoon happenstance and circumstance collided like drunken hobos in the night. That's a bit overdramatic, but hey. I was surprised by frantic angry doorbell pressings at one in the afternoon. One of my roommate's relatives had gone grocery shopping for us. What a surprise! A secret santa had visted the grocery store after an uplifting worshipping session at a local papal stroke center. I am truly grateful for free food. I would not spit in the face of help. And yet, I cannot pass up this opportunity to reflect.

Why were we chosen? Why did we recieve this bounty?

Perhaps somebody had whispered:

"Those filth stricken imbecilic freaks cannot feed themselves. Those boys are laying on their couches chugging beers, smoking joints, masturbating, playing video games, and eating Twinkies. They fart and giggle all day long without washing dishes or clothes, and they've become encrusted with some sort of former pizza sauce that's mold-morphed into a sentient exoskeleton that's consciously accelerating their depravity. Somebody go feed them! Inject them with vitamins and minerals! Sprinkle green Comet brand chemical sanitizer upon their greasy skin until they sneeze themselves off their couches! Make them wash!"

What a terrible impression. They think so lowly of me. I am an employed citizen who pays bills and enjoys mediocre credit. I shower once or twice daily and I even spend the occasional day sober. I can't speak for my roommate. I'll let him defend himself. That impression was likely derived from anecdotes of his behavior, not mine.

Let's wade throught the items and find out what they really mean. Shall we?

Chips Ahoy Deluxe Double Chocolate Chip Cookies, 1 bag.

I don't eat storebought cookies. While I usually love processed foods with large amounts of coloring agents and preservatives, cookies do not qualify. I like cookies fresh from the oven, preferrably made by my mommy. I suppose this purchase was intended to prevent me from suffering a sugar jones. She didn't want me to dive into a barrel of gummy bears at the candy store and do a backstroke through them, rubbing myself down with the rainbow gelatins, mashing them against my sugar starved gums.

Oscar Meyer Weiners, 1 package, 12 dogs.

This food is meant to indicate that I am a child who still has peanut butter from his lunchtime sandwich dripping from his chin. This food is intended to be dinner. These weiners are an amalgamation of pig lips and assholes ground into paste and reformed into dick-shaped flesh-toned jello logs. For children. They even put some oozing cheese in some of them so the kids won't freak out when they see STDs in ten years.

Also included were those mealy whitebread buns that are better balled up and thrown at other children than actually eaten. Fucking gross, all of it.

Hamburgers, one dozen, preformed, frozen.

Ah, frozen burger planks. They clack on the counter. Apparently I'm so ignorant that garlic powder, onion flakes, and Worchesteshire sauce are beyond the realm of my awareness. Those idiot boys can't form a patty! Give them something they can cook by knocking the toaster on its side!

She also bought more of that nasty breadlike bun material product, this time shaped in squares with rounded off corners.

Toilet paper, double-ply, three rolls.

Bought in the fervent hope that I was taught as a child not to shit in my pants. Buying this was a calculated risk, but since there's no one around to change my diapers, might as well buy something that could potentially be used in an asswiping situation.

Chorizo, two sticks.

Holy shit! Faith in action! Here's a glimmer of hope that I might have the patience to stand in front of a pan for ten whole minutes. Assuming I'm smart enought to squeeze the greased meat out of the platic tubing, that is. If not, the roomie and I will die by melted plastic toxin ingestion.

As it happens, I've already used this. I made chorizo vegetable soup on Sunday night, and it was damn good. (I had to go buy vegetables.) My roommate hijacked the last of it and sequestered it away in the back of the refrigerater for later consumption. Easy, killer.

Eggs, one dozen.

My stock is rising by the paragraph. She thinks I can fry an egg! Without leaving eggshell shrapnel in it! Awesome! I need to invite her over for an omelette. I'll even wear clean clothes and speak in complete sentences.

Bread, three loaves, two white, one raisin.

I hate white bread. Occasionally I'll use it for grilled cheese, but even then it takes half a stick of butter burned to it to make it worthwhile for me. Actually french toast, too. I hope my roommate eats white bread, or there's gonna be some happy ducks in my neighborhood.

Raisin bread is great. She even bought some spread butter for it. Spread butter is for lazy assholes. She nailed that one.

Pizzas, two frozen, Tombstone brand.

Yeah, okay. Sure.

Beef ribs, two racks, in that reddish orange Mexican marinade.

I don't have a grill. Shit. I'll figure out how to make these in the oven. She really took a stab here. I admire that. Between this and the chorizo she must think that somebody around here made it past elementary school. Which I did.

Dear relative,

I love free food. Thank you so much for buying it for us. I will eat it every day.
11:10 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Monday, May 16, 2005

Blender Helmet Anthropology

There comes a time in life when one must make a decision. Try this: six people, four cases of beer, a modest pile of coke, loud music, and shish kebabs. End the revelry with the rising sun and you've got a lazy Saturday on the horizon. Am I right?

Not if you promise several people you'll hoist the regal banner of hedonism again the next day. Three sheets to the wind and damn the torpedoes! I went out Saturday afternoon to a barbecue keg party. Steaks, sausages, corn on the cob, and a delicious avacado brushetta tumbled in my concrete mixer stomach to create a healthy blend of hangover medicine. The keg was tapped at sundown.

I decided to refrain from drinking beer. Once upon a time it made me giggly, happy, fun, goofy, hungry, and finally, tired. Now it makes me bloated, morose, grouchy, angry, belligerent, clumsy, hungry, and finally, tired. People began to notice I wasn't drinking.

"Dude, whoa, are you drinking straight gin again?"

"This is water."

"Oh. Um, okay. Keg's tapped."

"I know, it's Bud Lite, which tastes like fermented racoon urine. I'll drink some hard liquor a bit later. Thanks for looking after my blood alcohol level."

"Sure man. We'll do some shots later."

For a while there I felt pretty grim. I wanted no part of the beer, I was drowsy from the heaping mounds of scorched animal carcasses I'd masticated so ravenously, the dance music was giving me vertigo, and I thought about giving up and going home.

I snuck down to the psychadelic blacklight basement and reclined myself in a collapsable vinyl folding chair. The music was extremely loud but I managed to zone it out.

Time passed, flying by, never leaving sight. I was awoken by beautiful girls dancing. Several of them on me, to my grinning approval. I lit their cigarettes and doled out smiles, laughs, and hoots for their raunchiest shakedowns. When they're competing for your attention, you're the audience, not a leering ogler.

Several hours later I tried to convince a horde of stumbling spilling drunks to play darts with their eyes closed. I'm not sure where I got the idea, but I think the following vision may have birthed fully realized into my lizard brain:

Darts arced beneath the kitchen ceiling, sticking into hamburgers, splashing into cocktails, rattling into the sink, scraping old paint from the walls, piercing shocked drunks square in the ass. People covered their eyes, hit the ground, and balled themselves up in fetal positions. "Stop stop stop!" they yelled. Bloody darts were plucked from wincing asses as the angry and injured tried to figure out who was to blame. Who would get a royal beatdown for tying the blindfolds? Who would be punished for the sobbing gutstabbed girl that accidentally spilled the pitcher of pulpy screwdrivers?

Nobody wanted to play. Shame. I tried it myself. The result was embarrassing, and I was mostly sober. A few wayward darts bounced harmlessly from the walls.

I nominated myself as toastmaster and was elected easily. A mudslide victory. I downed a few shots of Jameson whiskey and Rain vodka. I had people shout out different states, and we had a particularly spirited and enthusiastic toast for the state of Tennessee. I'm not sure why. I toasted "to anvils falling on cartoon character's heads" and "to the succesful repelling of the evil alien invasion of Illinois." I wanted to toast to "haberdasheries," mainly beacuase I don't know what they are. I never did, however.

I just looked it up. It's an establishment that sells notions or men's clothing. I thought notions were whimsical ideas. Clothing? Next time I'm wearing my favorite shirt I'll have to ask around to people "Do you like this notion?" I'll re-establish the term, firmly entrenching it among our modern parlance alongside words such as "fuckface," "retard," "cool," and "infectuous munonucelosis."

The host's property sported a huge back yard with giant maple trees, acorns strewn about, fire pits, grass and mud. I'm going to go back there soon and try to organize some sort of squirrel lasso competition. I can already see the drunks bouncing on trampolines, aiming their rope loops into the trees, puking on themselves from all the turbulence. I doubt we'll catch any squirrels, but it'll be worth a home video or two.
8:30 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Friday, May 13, 2005

Stale Trail Mix

Dear Sneaky Bastard(s),

I'm not scared of you. Maybe you're an alien and you're afraid I'll expose your secret. Maybe you're afraid I'll raid the restaurant stockroom when you're closed on Monday. You wonder what would happen if I told people that I caught you dunking hypnotized people into giant buckets of flourescent snails. Snails that crawl inside them and eat something. Snails that excrete a glowing slime you cook and inject. Leaving mysterious mementos on my doorstep will not rattle me. It fails your objective to needle at my sanity. Jade turtles don't scare me.



I'm not scared of you. Maybe you're a government agent that has to investigate every potential threat made against the President. I didn't threaten anybody. So move on. You sadistic fucks think it's funny to sneak in my house and leave little statues on my oven, my television, and my dresser? I understand the imagery. I'm the fish and you're the bear, right? Go buy more plain sunglasses and leave me alone.



I'm not scared of you. I know you too well. All that satanic makeup, those gothic stuffed animals in nooses, the horror movie collection, the taped up cobwebs, the androgynous heavy metal, it's all a pose. I love prank calls too, and even practical jokes, but breaking and entering? To leave me statues of the guardians of the river Styx, or Baal, or whatever silly word you're worshipping this week? Okay. Thanks for the gargoyle, I guess.



Come together. Aliens, government spooks, Satanic fashionistas, gather all ye round my table. I sold those trinkets you so graciously donated. I bought alcohol. I can't wait to hear stories from your fascinating careers. Once we're drunk enough, I'll invite you to join a superhero team. I'll be the leader. We can have exciting adventures together.

8:47 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Thursday, May 12, 2005

Gaping Slack Science

I went to the Cubs game on Tuesday night. Due to finger pointing and emergency cleanups at work, I didn't leave until well after six for a game at seven.

Every time I go to Wrigley I park at the K-Mart at Addison and I-90. First, they don't tow. Second, public restrooms. Third, Little Caesars Pizza. The bubblegum of pizza. I buy them before and after games, five bucks for a medium pepperoni. So I park there and take the 152 bus east down Addison, 25 blocks to Wrigley.



I arrived in the middle of the 4th inning and trudged up the concrete rampways to my upper deck seat in 512. Far below Greg Maddux struck out batters, 10 over the course of the game. On TV his movements look slow and deliberate. In person, from far above, he waddles like a duckling. Good old Gweggie. The Cubs won 7-0.



I decided to walk back to my car instead of taking the bus. Twenty-five blocks is no big deal. I love walking. Today was different. I'd worn an old pair of jeans that had a hole worn inside the thigh. After ten blocks it was meshing with hairs from my legs and tugging them, little by little, right off me. Ouch.

Then the edge of the hole began kneading my skin, removing my epidermis cell by cell, past the dead outside layers to the pinkish breathing inside layers. I kept pulling my boxer shorts down to cover the hole and protect my leg, but after a few strides they'd ride back up, leaving me exposed and prone to slow damage.

The walk was escalating torture. I kept glancing furtively about, and satisfied that no one was watching, I'd furiously shove my hands down my pants past my crotch to tug the ends of my boxers. I quickly got frustrated with the desperate need to adjust myself so frequently. After each repositioning, I'd try to walk without allowing my damaged clothing to resettle in an uncomfortable position. This resulted in me walking a Korean army march, pausing once every block to attack myself.

I was embarrassed a little bit, but I'd never see any of these people again, so what the hell, right? Eventually I gave up and stopped walking. I waited for the bus.

Finally I reached my car, hopped in, and decided the pants deserved immediate retirement. I unzipped and shimmied and shucked, and off they came. I tossed my shoes into the passenger seat and my pants out the window. I drove over them as I left.

I was hungry, so I stopped at the White Castle at Harlem and Belmont before retiring for the evening. I pulled in past the young Polish crowd loitering in the parking lot. They stood aside their Japanese motorcycles, laughing loudly, wearing Adidas and spiked hair. They flirted with Polish girls with hoop earrings, ponytails, and burned skin from too long in the tanning salon.



I ordered my fish nuggets in the drive-thru and pulled around. As I waited for my food, my car died. I tried to start it. Nothing. Again. Nothing.

Would I be forced to push my car out of the drive through, past the young Poles, and into a parking spot? While wearing my underpants? It was bad enough to walk through Lakeview hopping and itching like I had a nasty case of pubic lice. Now I would have to push my car through a White Castle Parking lot without any pants? Was this a bad dream?

One last try. The car started. Oh happy day.
10:45 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Great Exxon Gerber Spill Of 2004


My new chair in my new home. They poke me with needles to make it okay.

What happened to me, you ask? Sit down, relax. I'll tell you. I've needed to tell somebody for a long, long time. I'm going to do it today. Now. Before it's too late. Before they get me.

Last October I decided to get involved in politics. It was already late in the election season, but I decided it was my patriotic duty to inform myself. I wanted to know what values each candidate represented. I live in Illinois, and as a dedicated blue state, no presidential candidates would waste any time here. Indiana is red, so no luck there either.

Wisconsin was tipping back and forth. They garnered plenty of attention nationally. I hadn't been to a political rally in Wisconsin since 2000, when I went to see Ralph Nader call Governor Tommy Thompson "A blight on the landscape, a destroyer of families, a corporate demon destroying the livelihood of the family farmer." Or something similar. Actually I just made that up, but it's correct in spirit. I love Ralph Nader.

I discovered that "Swingin" Dick Cheney was coming to Waukesha on October 28th, mere days before the final tally. I didn't want to get beat up for being a skeptical liberal, so I wore a Cornhuskers sweater I got for Christmas from my Nebraska relatives a few years ago. Red would wear well in this crowd. I left my granola in the cupboard and bought a pound of black pepper beef jerky on the way there. Nibbling meats would chew well in this crowd. Finally, I left my cigarettes on the nightstand. As one last extreme measure to fit in, I bought some minty Kodiak chewin chaw so I could spit and drool like a real rural type.

I got there and signed my loyalty oath and listened to Dick's muttering monotone. He was introduced by Republican Representative Jim Sensenbrenner. They used hearty words and satisfied chuckles to give each other verbal reacharounds.


Sensenbrenner with groupies.

I was bored and the cool weather was making me sleepy, so I scratched and tugged at my testicles. I grunted. Better. I looked around. Other fellas were reseating their hats on their dirty unkempt hairy heads and cracking their necks with enthusiam. I tried the same and gave myself a slight case of whiplash.

I decided to leave. Dick didn't tell me much about himself or George. He was talking about John Kerry, and all I really wanted to know was how many foreign nationals could be liquefied by the latest radioactive diarrhea missiles, or whatever the hell they use to kill little brown people these days.

I've been against the war since before it began, but I'm not above a good sick joke. If Cheney would've smiled like a serial rapist and made a joke about using a turban as a cum rag, I would've laughed. In this crowd I'd probably slap my knee to show everybody else how funny Dick is.

But he didn't, so I ambled away. The hoots and hollers and stomps and squirts faded into the background as the throng of yokels receded behind me.

At that moment my life changed. I heard something strange. A woman screaming. It was almost dark, but I saw a violent movement behind a few trees next to the idle motorcade. I walked up the lane, passing several black stretch limosines along the way.



I was tiptoeing towards the sound when silence abruptly interrupted. I stopped. In silhouette I saw a secret serviceman with his hand clamped over some poor woman's mouth. The curly cord that ran from his earpiece jiggled as he violently wrenched her head, snapping her neck.



What had I just witnessed? I wanted to slink away. Nobody can take on the government and win. Nobody. I'm no hero. I made the smart decision and crept away, quiet as can be.

When I heard a baby begin to cry, I paused. I couldn't help myself, and I turned to look back. I spied a dual stroller with two infants nestled inside. The woman's children. Twins? It stood alone. Where had the agent with the dead mother gone?

I was frozen. I knew I was in mortal danger, but I wanted to save those poor little ruddycheeked bundles of joy. I thought hard. What could I do? Maybe he would head for the forest to dispose of the former mother, and meanwhile I could steal the infants and bring them to a church or an orphanage or somewhere.

Footsteps. Two agents now. I could barely see them in the darkness. I crept closer. Stupid.

I saw the agents casually heave the victim into the lead limo's trunk. One grabbed the children, one in each arm. He was rough with them. The other folded the stroller and jammed it into the trunk, struggling to squeeze it into the same space as the fresh corpse. He slammed the trunk and went to the rear limo door. He opened it. I was crawling on my knees at this point, peeking from behind a large treetrunk. I was sweating, shaky, and desperate for a cigarette. A woman swung her legs out and leaned forward to reach for the babies.

"My sweet little darlings, aren't you just adorable! I can't wait to get you to my kitchen."



The interior lights backlit the woman. I recognized her easily. Lynne Cheney. She stroked their soft skin with her sharp fingernails, eyeing them greedily. She even licked her lips. She swung herself back into the car. An agent closed it, muttered into his tiny microphone, and got into the front passenger side. The other looked around briefly, and, satisfied that they had not been witnessed, slid into the driver seat. The vehicle rumbled away, leaving the rest of the motorcade to wait for the end of Dick Cheney's droning stump lullaby.

I followed them away. Curiosity got the better of me again. I'll never be the same.

When they turned onto an unmarked gravel path I kept to the main road. I stopped at a local pub a few miles down. I needed a drink. Badly. Neon Lienenkugel's signs flickered. Waves of vomit and urine wafted out the doorway in thick aggressive gusts. Slouched figures donning ragged flannels sat on stools, slumped with bad posture and lazy defeat. They gnawed on soggy cigarette filters and fingernails. The television played muted sitcoms while an old Garth Brooks CD skipped through songs on the jukebox. Dim light and dim sadness hung throughout like humid suicide.

I sat on a rickety stool and grabbed the bar's edge. Without a grip, my shaking hands would attract attention. I made a conscious effort to breathe slowly. When I ordered three shots of Jim Beam, the tired old waitress stopped her gum smacking mid-chew. Mouth half-open, she eyed me, sizing me up. Chewing again, she went for the bottle and sighed. She expected trouble from me. I don't blame her. My eyes were peeled open, my muscles were tensed all over and I looked like an electrocution victim with a tooth-grinding problem.

I downed the amber poison to calm my nerves. One, clack, two clack, three clack. I surprised her by leaving. She was already reaching for the Beam again, but I was ready to go learn some ugly truths about the leadership of my beautiful country.

I left my car behind.

Three miles of strewn gravel and fleeing squirrels later, I came to a large clearing in the trees. The grass lay chewed and dead, and up from the forlorn ground stood an old chemical refinery, long abandoned. Rust and foraging mammals fought for conrol of the weathered edifice. Parked and poking out from behind the aging structure I saw the tail of a black stretch limo. It was turned off and all was quiet but for grasshoppers.



I went inside the imposing monument of decay. Moonlight snuck in between pipes and wheels. Deep within the spooky old factory an ancient retired device shuddered into action, gears turning for the first time in decades. Following the racket, I came before a door. I put my hand on it and felt the slightest tremor, physical evidence of the ominous sound. The vibration of angry machinery lured me on. I opened it.


Enter a new hell.

Before me lay an awesome sight. Both above and below me, tier after tier of catwalks lined a great courtyard sunken deep into the ground. The moon shone upon the arena below, an iron floor the size of a football field. The tiers gave the immense expanse the feel of a stadium or a prison. The iron courtyard was fraught with hazardous protrusions: chains, hooks, tools, and punctured barrels. All dormant. These former metal behemoths now rust and rot without purpose, forlorn heaps of gizmos, gears, and scattered gaskets, anchors left to sink the factory in the ground inch by foot, decade by century.

As the scene stretched out before me, I saw false light flickering below, peeking out from the farthest corner. Electric torches and kerosene lamps swung about, carried by the busy activity of the small party camped down there. I heard hoarse cackling laughter join the rumbling beastly machinery that creaked away for some unknown sinister purpose.

I drew my gaze back to close range. Moonlight glistened on the wet slick rungs of a mossy ladder before me. Down it led, descending all five levels to the bottom floor. I went down three levels and gingerly tested the catwalk. It seemed sturdy and quiet enough. I chose to remain two stories above the murderous agents and the witch woman.

I allowed myself to feel slightly safer by looming above them. I began creeping closer to their light, ever so silently. I was nearly above them when Lynne Cheney threw a match onto a mound of stale crumbling rubber, igniting it into a fierce blaze that scalded the air. Insects fled. The light showed me the violent pair of secret service agents, now wearing red togas, standing back from the fire. They stood twirling empty gasoline cans, looking bored. Lynne stood before the fire, arms upraised, jaw clenched, eyes closed. Her lips moved but no sound emitted. She prayed silently to a foul beast beyond my reckoning.

I heard noise from above and behind. I froze. Lynne's eyes snapped open and trained on the ladder I'd used mere moments before. I concealed myself behind a sort of metal trellis and waited. More suited secret service agents came down the ladder a hundred yards behind me. They were not so stealthy as I, and I saw them pass my elevation and continue down to the floor level. Seven of them crossed the ugly ground to Lynne.

One pulled a lever. The rumble got louder. The secret machine revealed its purpose. A rope let out slowly into the sky, where it slung over a series of pulleys, and down came a corpulent man. It was him: the Vice President Of The Unites States. He made a careful descent to the eager group. He was slung in a hammock and appeared to be relaxed. When he landed, he strode up to Lynn, kissed her passionately, and she led him by the hand to a makeshift pavillion a few yards from the fire.

After this things began to get hazy for me. Some of my memory is raw and patchy from the shock of what I witnessed. Some of the damage may be a chemical side effect from the thick black smoke that drifted off the rubber fire up to my lookout perch. I must also admit that I may have blacked out some of the details as a means of self-defense, a frightened denial to help me sustain my sanity and lucidity. Some things cannot be erased no matter how badly I want to forget them, and it is these fragments that I sadly and dutifully remit to you for judgement.

The seven late arriving agents stipped bare and their suits went into the fire. They walked like robots single file into the pavillion, and they emerged wearing the same blood red togas Lynne's murdering crew already wore. They brought from the pavillion several sturdy wooden tables and a few wire mesh bags filled with sharp metal implements. The shiny bundles scraped together with menacing shrill whispers as they swayed under the heavy hands of the expressionless men.

Last from under the pavillion came the motherless stolen twins, now doomed to a gruesome fate I could not turn away from. Then the hammock was lowered again, and this time it contained nine more squirming, mewling children, all bound in pink twine. The party now totalled twenty two, eleven adults and eleven infants.



Dick and Lynne hugged and watched as the toga men carried the bound children to the wood. They tied them down with thicker ropes, each child separate from the rest. The men stood back. The mesh bags were opened and heaps of polished kitchen tools were carelessly strewn upon a plastic tarp.

Chanting ensued. The feast began. The children screamed with high-pitched clear tones that rang into the night sky. It was the worst sound I'd ever heard until the blood began to bubble in their little throats. That then became was the worst sound I'd ever heard, their pure siren screams slowly diluted by bubbling, gurgling blood.



I began to fade at this point, unable to move and help them. Intervening would just end my life, and it was already too late to help. I had to tell the world. I had to share the secret. I had to survive. Unable to gaze upon the profane slaughter any longer, I crawled away from sight and cried silenty.

Snatches of dialogue clawed into my ears as I lay on the catwalk in fetal position, rocking back and forth, pulling at my hair. I was at a cocktail party in hell.

Eventually I slept, and when I woke, nothing remained but a stray charred little ribcage that had been kicked to the base of a corroded pile of sheet metal.

These are the ghastly words that haunt me:



"Too bad George isn't here tonight. He's great with the meat tenderizer."



"Lynne, honey, let's get the grill going. You know I love to grill the feet, just like Anton showed me last month at the pheasant farm. Those little toes are juicy with zebra crosshatch grillmarks."

"Now Dick, where are my little plastic martini swords? I've got fresh eyes here. I can't enjoy my drink and pop the 'olives' without my swords."

"The lard of an infant is divine, translucent as a pearl, unsullied by the pollution of life that stains it yellow. Adult fat is chewy clumpy corn kernels."

"Peel that skull open like a sardine can. Give me that potato skinner. Here, like this. Yyyyeeesssssss. Put your finger in there. Feel that."



"Kidneys are great thin and fried. Get the meat slicer, some olive oil, and the frypan. Oh, and some Triscuits for serving."

"This one is green, no longer fresh. I think it died before we began. Be a good fellow, Langley, and throw it on the bonfire. Do take care to keep our sport fresh, or I'll reassign you to mine-crawling duty in Fallujah."

"No, save that! We can make back scratchers, candle holders, and hemmoroid cream from that."

"Lynne saves the gums. She puts them on her eyes at night to keep her laugh lines subtle."

"Don't worry, we'll ban abortion soon enough. I figure the more orphans and desperate mothers we have, the easier this will get. The children are our future! How do you think Jesse Helms lived for so long? Marrow shakes. I made them myself sometimes. It takes more than oil connections to seize this kind of power."

"There's no such thing as an unwanted child."
10:40 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Monday, May 09, 2005

Sunday Night At The Metro

Last night I went to the Cabaret Metro to see one of my favorite bands perform: Built To Spill. The last time I graced that hallowed hall was in September 2001, when I caught Joe Strummer on his last jaunt.


The sign above the Metro. Sleater Kinney is another band I want to see. Considering them, Built To Spill, and Modest Mouse, it's clear to me the Pacific Northwest is my musical mecca.

I parked all the way down on Belmont. This put about a mile between myself and the venue. The night was beautiful. It was eighty but breezy, and Wrigleyville was serene and quiet. As my roommate and I traversed the mile, I began to sweat out the toxic vodka poisons from Saturday night. By the time I was inside my guts had begun rumbling. I pretended the gastric rumble would go away while I caught the tail end of the first opening band's set. I couldn't cool off and kept sweating.

Surveying the room yielded lots of corduroy, spaghetti straps, sideburns, and pigtails. The few roving waitresses wove past the hipsters and zeroed in upon the drunken yuppies instead. People who could afford to drink in Wrigleyville from the beginning of the Cubs game at 1pm to now at 9pm made for especially easy tip money.

After enduring ten minutes of complaint from my quivering, straining intestines, I made the decision to find the can. I went to the bathroom and found the only stall. The seat was shockingly clean, but I wiped it down anyways. My sweaty ass suctioned right onto it, creating a perfect seal. There's no experience that compares to dropping number two in a muggy basement bathroom at a rock concert. I shit so fast and hard it curled on the way out. Don't ask, sometimes you just know. The toilet paper was a weak thin wispy single-ply excuse for a decent asswipe, the kind that likes to stay with you. Once I finally managed to get clean, I returned upstairs lighter and much refreshed.

After missing the majority of Bearhawk, the first opener, on came Mike Johnson and The Evil-Doers. Johnson was formerly the bassist in Dinosaur Jr. His voice sounds a lot like his former bandmate J. Mascis', except without any personality. As he moaned and droned I waited desperately for an upswing in energy. I never got it.

I think their first song was about being on heroin. The second was about scoring heroin, the third was about taking a nap, the fourth was about not being able to score any heroin, the fifth was about doing heroin at your parents' house, the sixth was about rusty needles, the seventh was about playing guitar on heroin, and the last was about waking up with poopy pants. They really beat a dead horse. My roommate wished he had a BB gun so he could pop Mike and see if that might jolt him awake. I was not so extreme. I just wanted to offer Mr. Johnson a cup of coffee, a bag of Skittles, and a hug. He needs counselling, not an audience. I hope his band got back to their spaceship in time for departure.

Finally, Built to Spill! I'd never seen them before, although I've been a big fan ever since I bought Keep It Like A Secret when it came out, six years ago. Back then I bought lots of new releases at random and I discovered tons of wonderful music that way. (I don't find things, I discover them, it's a personal credo.)


Doug Martsch: The writer, singer, and lead guitarist of Built To Spill

The bandleader moseyed on stage. Those unfamiliar with the band thought somebody had gotten lost trying to get back to Amish Pennsylvania, had wandered lost and broke into Chicago, lost his mind, and finally ambled on stage in a confused stupor. Nope, that's Doug Martsch. Hearing that voice come out of that person is strange. Some compare his voice to Neil Young. The band did indeed cover "Cortez The Killer" on their live album a few years ago.

Everything they played, everything they sang, every nuance that hooked and jangled and looped made me happy. They could do no wrong. Describing music I hate is fun, but describing music I love just leaves me grasping, frustrated and helpless. So I won't. Suffice to say I loved their performance. Three guitars playing together can make for some amazing melodies, folks.

When they came out for the encore, I shouted "Velvet Waltz!" They played the fucker for ten minutes. My heroes.
11:40 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Friday, May 06, 2005

Branding, Tipping, Laughing

I checked the mail when I arrived home yesterday, and to my great surprise, I received a postcard from a childhood friend. I hadn't heard from Chuck since he quit high school to join the Marines nine years ago. Somehow he tracked me down, and he sent me this:



On the back he wrote:

Steve,

I just bought a cattle ranch a few miles outside Tlaxcala! I'm gonna start a new gamblin man's sport, cow racing! Come on down for a steak and a race! The senoritas is reeeeal friendly round here, ya know what I mean? Ha ha!

Hope to see you soon,

Chuck 'The Tiller' Stakefalter


Southern Mexico. Oh my. I'm afraid to go visit. I've heard about the crooked cops and banditos. I've heard about drinking the water and getting dysentery. Bloody mucus ridden diarrhea? No thank you. Tourists can go to resort cities, which is great, but this invitation is different. Do I really want to venture into the lonely dusty desert to some far flung cruddy ranch full of starving cattle and swarming flies?

Maybe I was underestimating Chuck. He must be a hell of a successful cowhand to have mustered the capital to start a new sport. Still, I had trouble imagining cow racing. What could it be? Some ugly notions crossed my mind. I feel compelled to share them.

What if this was a jockey sport like horse racing? Would Chuck pay some local village idiots in pajamas to follow the pooping cows with electric prods? Would these short hungry little natives stumble behind the moaning beasts, cursing, praying, and frying their few remaining brain cells under the punishing equatorial sun? I can imagine the desperate jockeys slipping and skidding on gleaming loafs of grassfed manure.

Even the most dedicated gambler would not have the stomach for such a pathetic spectacle. Maybe a more sadistic sport was more Chuck's style. He was a marine once upon a time, after all.

Maybe he was having slaughtering races for violent people. I've written about the slaughterhouse before. Some of these fuckers might just get a kick out of a relay race. The first "lap" would be spiking the skulls, the second would be hatcheting the heads right off, the third would be hanging the corpse, the fourth would be draining the blood, the fifth would be skinning the beef, and who knows what they could come up with for the rest. They could have teams with sponsors and logos and television rights and everything. It would be popular in third world countries and jail rec rooms. The A1 Sauce company would sponsor that in a heartbeat.



Click on the above photo to see a real slaughter. I decided to go with the safer, friendlier picture you see above for those of you that are A) unwilling to view the process that feeds you B) vegetarians or vegans C) weak. Go ahead, there's even a kid in the linked picture watching daddy eviscerate the animal, and she isn't flinching.

What else could he mean by cow racing? If I was forced to come up with something, I'd put cows on rollerskates and push them down hills. I'd record the terrified "Mooooo!" sounds and make a Christmas music tape out of them. The dog and cat ones sell very well to old ladies who knit their own sweaters, so why not a tape of dying cattle singing "Deck The Halls?"

Sick. Very very sick. I halted my train of thought. Bad momentum. Bad. I decided to write back to tell him to open a restaurant instead. Everyone loves a good juicy steak.
11:15 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Thursday, May 05, 2005

Psychotropic Alchemy Blues

Something strange is happening in my hometown. I began to suspect trouble last Monday as my clothing tumble dryed behind me. I gazed through the laundromat window at the establishments across the street. I was taken aback when I noticed the statues had vanished.

For the longest time I thought Da Luciano was a barber shop. Mounted outside are a pair of those swirling spinning barber poles with red stripes. This misconception continued until I walked by a few weeks ago after exiting Fagan's Tap a few doors down.



On that drunken day I saw a candlelit dining area squeezed into a cramped storefront. Sparsely mounted upon the soothing beige walls were pictures of fresh produce and Italy. Red checkerboard tablecloths caught stray droplets of alfredo sauce. Bread baskets made centerpieces.

I thought the choice of barber polls outside to be a tad strange. Add the Blues Brothers to that and you've gone totally bizarro. That's right: outside stand two 6' tall statues, perfectly painted, mounted on wheel pedestals, frozen in mid-dance. I decided this was not a normal decoration outside a cozy, intimate, old-world style Italian eatery.



So last Monday I noticed Elwood and Jake had gone AWOL. I walked outside to get a better look, unobstructed by the laundromat's foggy pane of glass. The immobile heroes were right inside the front door, watchdogs protecting the parmesan shakers. Da Luciano was closed.

I thought back to my birthday two weeks before. I'd wanted to order a roasted duck from Wing Hee, the Chinese kitchen next door to Da Luciano. They were closed. I had to order from the dubiously named Chopstick Express all the way at Harlem & Belmont. It was good, but the safe domestic name had made me nervous. I like my foriegn food to come from restaurants with unpronouncable exotic names. Weird names like Wing Hee or Moon Nein Wah.

So Wing Hee and Da Luciano are both closed on Mondays. Why? Are they busy laundering drug money in the back room? Are they injecting cute kittens with horrible infectuous fleshrotting diseases before releasing them into school playgrounds to capture the hearts of unsuspecting children? Maybe they manufacture crack cocaine and then ship it to the west side in harmless looking bread trucks adorned with mustachoied fat faces under puffy white hats. I could see that.



This doesn't explain why they both take Monday off. There's no common religious affiliation between the Chinese and Italians. There's no criminal alliances that I'm aware of either, so this conspiracy must be something of a far stranger nature. A whole new brand of sinister.

Suddenly, a horrible illumination seared my brain. I knew. Both places use styrofoam, paper, and cardboard to package their takeout orders. Neither use tinfoil. Aluminum is present nowhere in either establishment. I had discovered the key to the mystery.

Everybody knows aluminum is the kryptonite that scalds the glowing skin of the alien menace. Everybody knows aluminum is the sacred material we humans use to make protective hats to shield our brains from the harmful beams of galactic filth they transmit across our atmosphere.

The proprietors and employees of these adjacent kitchens are the earthbound agents of the mysterious and malevolent force attempting to subvert the utopian destiny of humanity by frying our mental synapses and receptors with invisible waves of astral psychomagical pollution.

They want to fuck up our heads so they can use us for food or engine grease or something. Maybe they drink our depression like a fine wine. Maybe our defeated immobile couch potatoes produce the syrupy ennui these deviant fucks need to perform alien sex acts. Perhaps our cynicism yields a cherry bile they dehydrate and sprinkle upon their dessert entrees. It may be that a human's leaky ulcer bile decomposes our intestines causing the consistency of our feces to metamorphose into a substance they nibble off wafers like we do escargot patee.



We need to fight back. We need to focus. We need ideas. We must have a hero. We must have an icon. I do. I've never met him, but his name is Reynolds.

Until Reynolds steps forward, this fight is mine alone. I will infiltrate during the next processing day, next Monday. Wish me luck.

11:37 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Animated Nostalgia Alchemy

During my drive this morning I spied before me a green Grand Am with the license plate "SKUBY DU." In the back window sat ten or twelve plush toys in disturbing poses and guises. One Scooby Doo was dressed as a greaser, maybe the Fonz or James Dean. Another was a doctor. Another was Hawaiian. No punk mohawk Scooby, thankfully. What kind of adult buys vanity plates and decorates his car in the theme of a seventies cartoon?

I had to know the sex, age, and disposition of this strange driver. From behind, all I saw was the silhouette of a wide head with immobile dome hair. I maneuvered my way forward. It was an unshaven redhaired man wearing blackrimmed Velma glasses. He leaned forward over the wheel like a nearly blind grandmother terrified of raining anvils, yet his driving was superb, fast, loose and aggressive. He was about thirty, clad in slacker garb. A ragged t-shirt, a hemp necklace, a dangling cigarette.

I wondered what his home was like. Did he have a blow-up Daphne doll in his closet? Does he have a mystery van shower curtain? Certainly he wore themed boxers, pajamas, slippers, and tucked in under the official bedsheets every night.



Does he tell people with maddeningly frequency that Scooby is short for Scoobert? Do his friends call him Scoob? Scoobs? The Scoobster? No, they call him Shaggy for sure. The pot and the red hair are a dead giveaway. One thing was plain: this man smokes a lot of marijuana. Any adult that has an unheathly interest in an old cartoons falls into two categories: the stoner or the geek. The geeks latch onto cartoons like Transformers, Voltron, and the Thundercats. The stoners are stuck with shit like Scooby Doo, Fraggle Rock, and The Smurfs.

I actually liked the Smurfs, especially when they time travelled. I like time travel. It's cool.



I could just see this guy racing home after a long day working at the head shop to watch his favorite episode from season three while smoking a hookah. I can see him grinning through his fishlike expression while he exhales smoke rings he calls "the collar manuever." I can see his adam's apple bobbing as he recites the dialogue on cue. I can see his simpering jello eyes glisten and glaze as the weed takes effect. I can see him imitating Scooby's bark between shoveling handfuls of Tabasco Cheez-Its into his mouth. Cheez-its he gleefully and obnoxiously refers to as "scooby snacks" when he offers them to his deadbeat washed up stoner buddies. I can almost smell the patchouli. I'll bet this guy has a unifying theory of Scooby Doo and Bob Marley. I'll bet his jokes all suck.

I always hated that fucking cartoon.
12:20 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Carbonation Tumble

I took the day off work yesterday. I needed a second Sunday. Sometime about noon, a thought crept into my head like a legless nagging mother with strong fingernails. My half conscious layabout hazy wasting was soon to be interrupted by the necessity for respectable presentation. I realized I had no clean clothes to wear to work on Tuesday. All of my pants were tarnished with beer, spaghetti sauce, copious perspiration, or mud. Although we're very casual where I work, arriving in such a costume would be slightly unprofessional.

It took about ten minutes to jam all my befouled garments into bins and baskets. I hauled them to my car and drove one mile to the laundromat.

The day was overcast, cool, colorless, and depressing. I parked. Yesterday the oil stains, the concrete fractures, the litter of potato chip bags and pop cans all seemed to stick out more than usual. It was a broken dirty kind of day. I walked inside sleepy and irritated.

I noticed that people in the laundromat wear the last articles of clothing when they come to wash, the last resorts from the back of the closet. I wore loose denim jeans with a huge gash running from my right hip down to my knee. It buckled open every time I bent my leg. My Moby shirt had a huge hole in the right armpit. I used to remove my shirt by yanking the sleeves over my head until I noticed that the armpit stitching suffered for it. I'm gentler now.



A frowning woman wore grey cotton leotards. She continually wiped at her runny nose with back of her left hand. She watched trash television shows beaming novocaine from a ceiling mount in the corner. Occasionally, during commercials, she would glance at the time remaining on her washing machine. I saw her twice absently itch and pull out the grey fabric from her ample camel toe. She was very pale.

I saw a knobby hobbling old man throw several pairs of beaten old corduroy slacks into a dryer. Flannels came next. His skin and hair gleamed with the human oil of the unwashed elderly. At least his clothes would be clean. He left and returned a few minutes later and began pounding something on a table. His back was turned to me but I had to know what he diligently destoryed with plodding dedication.

I strolled across the room and tried to peek but I couldn't see his furtive noisy labor without being noticably nosy. I went to the coin changer and made change I didn't need. Now I had a better viewing angle. Finally I saw. He was smashing a packet of peanuts with a roll of quarters. No doubt that even mashed into little crumbs, the peanut shrapnel would still scrape and irritate his infant gums, lodging in empty sockets to decompose where teeth once met jaw.

Bored and vaguely disgusted by the sad loneliness of the place, I decided to walk into the convenient next door. I found some alcohol energy drinks. They were slung in can holsters that were suctioned to the inside of the cooler glass. I grabbed two of them, one a Budweiser product, the other something called Gruv. I don't know how to type umlauts but they were present above the letter U. I didn't expect much but I had to experience the latest abortion to trickle out of the barren womb of marketing crossbreeding.



The Bud drink was horrible. Billed as a drink for "contemporary adults with highly social fast paced lifestyles," this hog swill tasted like strained sweat blended with moldy cantalopes. I thought I'd stuck my tongue into a corpse's asshole after a mischievous mortician had drained a can of pineapple fruit cocktail over it. I finished it and moved on to the other drink, which was pleasantly fizzy, inoffensive, and instantly forgettable.

I hate it there. I hate the tumbling of the dryers, the sadness on the faces, the courtroom television, and most of all myself for buying those cans of liquid excrement. I know better.

I was glad to go home.
11:01 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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stg-shark