Situation Normal. Atmosphere Breathable. Brainstem Injected. Dialogue Engaged.
Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Trepanning The Obese

I like to stand on the front walk at work and launch crabapples into the field across the street. My 1x4 plank bat is stained with two summers of apple blood. My coworkers cheer me on, and sometimes they even take a few swings. Often we compete to see who has the longest range or the highest sky.

A couple weeks ago, I was playing solo with some young apples when I saw a lost dog on the sidewalk across the street. It paced back and forth along a short stretch of pavement, leash trailing behind. The plastic handle rattled and bounced.

I hate dogs. I considered calling animal control. I decided against it for the moment and walked towards the befuddled canine. I hoped to find the missing owner by looking up and down the street.

The shaggy waggy stinky shitball barked as I approached and quickly turned away from me. It took two tentative steps towards a small patch of trees amidst the dead yellow grass and barked again. It paused, looking back to me, imploring me to follow.

I was going to turn around and head back into work when my imagination conjured images of a man halfway through a leisurely stroll with his affectionate pet. I pictured him clutching his chest, his knees buckling. I saw a heart attack victim collapsing under the sun, incapacitated, dying, hot, wet, and alone.

Reluctantly I trudged behind the excited creature. I followed its wagging ass to the trees and surveyed the shade. A fat man wearing purple shorts and an orange Hawaiian shirt lay faceup on the earth. His eyes were open wide and his face was covered in livid red splotches. Each breath he gulped was a hitching stab. Pools of sweat accumulated in the crevices of his forehead, in his ears, at the nape of his neck, and on either side of his nose.

"Mmm, mmmmah ha, harr t. Ehhhlp. Mme."

I was right. Heart attack. Before I could reassure the man and run to a telephone, the idle dog yelped and swiped at its own left ear, producing a nasty gash. Insect attack? It howled, convulsed, and flopped onto its side. Another heart attack? Do dogs have heart attacks? This could almost be funny.

The dog bolted upright and launched itself onto its hind legs, imitating a human's posture. It growled a fierce wave of Purina halitosis up to my defenseless nose and settled back to all fours. I turned again to go for a phone, this time careful to glance back. I was afraid the toothy fucker had blanked his domestication and decided to eat my feet off at the ankles.

I hadn't jogged more than ten feet when I heard a loud, mean bark and then a wet tearing sound. Man's best friend had buried his snout into the side of the prone man's gut. This was gross. The dog had clamped his sharp dirty teeth into the flab and jerked his head back and forth until the guts were open, and then it proceeded to snack on the exposed flesh. Loose fat dribbled from its jaws, gleaming yellow kernels from a life of excess. I had to go back. The poor man may have bad taste in pets, but if I didn't go kick the beast in its scruffy jewels, it would make dinner out of its master long before the paramedics could resuscitate him.

I charged forward and punted the rabid creature. It didn't fly up into the sky and off into the horizon like I'd envisioned. It just flipped backwards and landed on its head. The dog's neck snapped and the canine flopped dying on the grass. It vomited involuntarily, blood and lard and mangled intestine splashing onto the dry grass. Then it lay still.

The fat old man had not survived the compound traumas. Between the still heart and the gushing cavity in his abdomen, he'd stopped breathing. His bucket was kicked, his ticket punched. I sat down hard, replaying the bizarre events, trying to discern if there was anything I could have done differently that would've changed the results. I came up empty.

It twitched. The dead dog twitched. No hallucination. Were leftover electrical impulses settling along the nerves? Fart gas rippling through the colon? It twitched again, violently. I scooted back. Time to leave. Let the professionals clean this mess up.

From both the nostrils of the deceased dog and from the purple shorts of the dead man dual waves of chrome insects poured forth. Cascades of silverfish blanketed the ground. They merged into a single wide strand and scuttled straight for me. They were fast. Too fast.

They got me. Up my legs, past my waist, up to my shoulders. Everywhere. Thousands. I shuddered and screamed in disgust as their grimy tiny little feet and slimy antennae tickled every inch of my exposed skin. They climbed into my clothing. They prodded my lips. They slipped on my boogers. They pried at my closed eyelids. I was flailing about, helpless and unable to remain still. I couldn't keep pace knocking them off me.

When they crawled into my ears, I felt a sharp stabbing pain deep in my ear canals. I gasped and a few more bugs wormed into my mouth and slid around in my saliva.

Suddenly, the vile assault halted. Most of the bugs descended my legs and scampered back onto flat ground. A few remained, stuck in my pants and shirt and hair. The pain in my ears flared up. A high, keening wail howled in my brain. A voice. The commanding entity of the silverfish army wanted to chat.

"Sorry about that, dude. I need help."

"Wha- wait. What?"

"The bugs, sorry. This is the only way I get to chat. Had to summon some little crawlies to ring your bell. Anyways, here's the deal. I need you to let me out. You do that, we're square. You don't, and I'll send beetles while you're sleeping. I can't wait for decomposition. Even if I get out of this head I'll still be buried. No good. By the way, pretty good show I put on, huh? With the dog and all that? Didja enjoy it?"

"Who are you? Where are you? Why the fuck-?"

"Hold your ponies, pard. I'm a homunculus. I'm sure you've seen movies and tv shows about spirits haunting sacred graveyards, that sort of crap, right? Well, that's me. I was a great Japanese warrior. Name's Kazuo. I was felled by a thrown blade a few centuries ago. I pawed at wisps in limbo for a while, and then I grew restless. I hightailed it back to the land of the living. The only way I was able to figure out to come back to life was a bit convoluted, but I took it.

I managed to commandeer a tapeworm spore in this fattypants's larb nua. He was scarfing a big fat dish between grunting fuck sessions with lice-ridden hookers. I guess they made him hungry. He brought me back to America from Thailand when his so-called business trip ended. Here I am.

This guy ate so much chow that I couldn't keep up, and he managed to gain mass poundage even while feeding both of us. I've been soaking up your lazy culture and your processed food for a long time, buddy. Cops on tv and John Wayne movies and Geraldo Rivera for what seems like eternity. And trust me, I know eternity pretty well. One compliment I must admit: American culture is so much more relaxed than that disciplined bushido crap I had to deal with before. I've been thriving in Billy's intestines for twenty years. He made a hell of a great incubator.

So anyways, about two months ago I migrated north, chewing a noodle thin trail through his guts up to his head. I've been growing in there. Billy-boy's been pregnant, and he had no idea! I'm a man again, only I'm six inches tall and I have no skin. Not a worm anymore! I figure once I get out of this claustrophobic skull, I'll sprout right up and live a normal life. I'm weak right now, but I get along with bugs and vermin real well. They'll crawl right into my mouth, crunch crunch crunch. I can also gnaw on that dog. I've always loved dog. Delicious.

So poke a hole for me, captain. Lemme out of here. Or it's bugs for you. Kay?"

"Yeah. First get these fucking silverfish outta my ears."

"No way, you first."

"Okay. Okay. I will. I am."

I yanked my swiss army knife from my pocket. I kneeled before Billy's corpse. He already had a swarm of flies. I snapped out the awl and jabbed downward at the knobby skull. I tore skin but failed to even dent the skull.

"Not gonna work, buddy. Take the eyes out first."

"No way. I'll get you out, just gimme a sec. You've been waiting for twenty years in there, Kazuo, a couple more minutes ain't gonna hurt."

I aimed my awl and jabbed again. And again. Once more, with feeling. I finally managed to plunge through the rocky dome. It was considerably easier after I'd scalped the head and wiped the wet away. A high pitched cackle of glee whistled out from the tiny hole. Now the voice came from both the dead head and from inside mine:

"More, quicker! You're getting it!"

I switched to the corkscrew. I twisted it inwards a few spirals, put my feet against the skull, and pulled backwards with all my might. With a dull pop the skull fractured. I was picking away loose shards when a little pair of hands grabbed my index finger.

"Pull me out!"

I did.

It was a naked little Japansese man. Miniature, maybe six or seven inches tall, naked, bathed in the pale ichor of brainpan fluid. His tiny eyes were solid red, his hair was jet black, and true to his word, he was skinless.

"The silverfish. Get 'em out now. They sting."

"You got it!"

The pinching sensation released and out came the bugs. I took a few moments to flick the rest of the bugs off me, those trapped in my hair and clothes. I felt nearly human again.

"So what now? What are you gonna do, little fella? Can I go?"

"Yeah, see you later. I'm gonna fuck and eat that dog."

"Have fun."

The image of Kazuo poking the dead dog's eye with his hard splinterdick revolted me. Quite possibly the grossest thing yet. I thought about stomping the little fucker into pinkish grey paste, but decided against it. We need more weirdness in this world.

4:00 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Biology And Frosting

I renewed my aggressive walking regimen last Wednesday. Between then and Friday I walked a total of 14 miles under an unforgiving sun radiating sweltering heat. I've always enjoyed the slow punishment of walking in black clothing until dehydration threatens a debilitating sunstroke. When I walk westward into the sun, all light goes a steely whitish blue and the world changes into a hollow glinting hallucination.

When I started doing this several summers ago, my body was not prepared for the assault. I arrived home from the first few walks with bleeding toes, an itchy ass, wild eyes, and a slight limp. One year later those symptoms reduced to blistered feet, chafed legs, wild eyes, and a slow step. Eventually I began popping gas station trucker speed pills before each journey. This doubled my lung capacity and my endurance. I'd roam for hours until I winced with each stride, and then I'd keep going for another hour. I became a trim tan dashing young fellow in decrepit shoes.

This year I've skipped the speed. I don't think I need the pills any longer. While I can walk far longer after swallowing a couple, I'm always compelled afterwards to consume twelve to eighteen beers before bedtime. During these guzzling marathons I'd usually sing out my windows to barking dogs and annoyed neighbors. Lots of Temptations and Smokey Robinson songs. Somewhat embarrassing, as I'm sure you can imagine. My falsetto sounds like a leprechaun coming his pants while getting reamed by a Rottweiller through a pokehole.

This year I've raised only a two mild blisters, only one of which popped prematurely. My skin is handling the sun without complaint, with one exception. I rode shotgun down 94 a week ago for a few hours and my right arm was roasted. Fast forward to Friday's stroll, and sweat bubbles were idling near my elbow, where each boiled, their clarity acting as a magnifiers. This resulted in burn freckles. Weird, huh?

Yesterday I decided to take a day off from walking, and I wore my dock slippers to work instead of shoes and socks. I've been wearing these slippers for a couple years, and they've accumulated several crusty layers of sweat and baby powder. Honestly, they're fucking disgusting. If I keep them on for longer than an hour, the heat from my feet microwaves the crusty gumminess into a clammy paste. It lubes between my toes. When I took them off upon arriving home yesterday, my feet were creamy. I wanted Taco Bell. Shoes and socks today, dry and sanitary.

Yes, I am nice and fresh and clean today, inside and out. Feels good.
11:15 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Monday, June 27, 2005

Lazy On The Grill

Friday night saw me back at the scene of the Neil Young kegger. I'd walked six miles in the punishing humid heat earlier in the evening, so I was wobbly and thirsty. I drank myself stupid without embarrassing myself in any unique ways. I think I managed to convince several people that the beer spills on my pants were intentional fractals, not drunken mishaps. Neil arrived at three in the morning, and I was placed on strict quarantine from him to avoid an ugly confrontation. One of his bandmates gave me the evil eye all night long while I snickered about his black nail polish.

Sunday arrived smeared in cilantro and garlic. Across the light of an endless afternoon, my friends and I grilled about 20 pounds of shrimp, steak, burgers, chicken, fish, and potatoes. Twenty people strong brought beers and wines and boozes and carcasses. Ice cream sandwiches were mashed to faces. Sandals squeaked from spilled barbeque sauce. Beer was guzzled. Marijuana was smoked with a magnifying glass. I shed my clothing from the waist up and let my skin drink ultraviolet radiation. Melatonin rose. I'm peeling today. Summer is here.
11:50 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Friday, June 24, 2005

I Brake For Fresh Roadkill

Okay class, pop quiz time. Some mysteries have haunted scholars for centuries. However, I'm not going to delve into issues like Atlantis, dinosaur extinction, or the origin of the universe. The thing I'm curious about is rather mundane: bumper stickers.

I saw three identical bumper stickers this week that read "Virginia Is For Lovers." What? I thought Virginia was for tobacco farming. Babies spitting Skol into the corner of the playpen, that sort of thing. Now you're telling me the state is a place for horny people? You didn't specify married, unmarried, straight, or gay. That's very tolerant. I approve. I must say, when I think of lovers, I think of adultery. Hmm. I think the Virginia Board Of Tourism may have hired the wrong marketing major. I think it's strange to send your Virginians out into the greater 48 with stickers that translate to "Virginia: We Fuck Here." Anybody care to explain this to me?

There there's the "My Other Car Is A Harley" stickers. I realize many people become domesticated as middle age sets in. I have no problem with a person eschewing the trappings of a biker's meth-fueled beer-guzzling rape and pillage lifestyle, but do you need to advertise that you were once young and wild on your Chrysler Plymouth minivan? Why don't you just spraypaint "I hate my life! What happened?" on the side?

Another very popular adornment here in Illinois is "My Kid Beat Up Your Honor Student." I assume these stickers are everywhere, because last I checked, ignorance is proudly celebrated in every land. Not only did you drop out of high school to pursue a career in window washing, but you've passed on your peabrained inferiority complex to your lugheaded offspring. Go ahead, inspire future generations to think small. Teach them that resentment is noble. I expect the next iterations of this sticker will sport messages such as "I Beat My Wife And My Son Is A Serial Rapist," "Ten Generations Of Klan Wizards And Counting," "Teeth Are Overrated," "Go White Sox," and "W '08." For the record, I'm a high school dropout. There's always exceptions.

Che Guevara. Okay, revolutionaries are cool. I guess. You've got the monkey-faced beret wearing South American fredom fighter gazing heroically at me from your rusty dented bumper, right next to your Dead Milkmen sticker. What exactly are you trying to convey? Are you different than everybody else? Do you buck the system? Is that a hemp backpack you're lugging about? It always make me sad to see messages of indiviality commoditized for easy consumption for rabbit-brained lemmings desperate to proclaim their individuality. They don't even realize it. Hello, modern punk rockers, I'm talking to you.

I'm not going to criticize the Jesus fish, I'm just going to translate it.

"Jesus says to drive slowly."
"This fish represents Jesus just like chocolate and bunnies represent the resurrection."
"I'm better than you. And you're going to hell. So there."
"I have no idea that I'm actually a Roman."
"I love Jesus, but that doesn't mean I'm gay."
"Santa Claus is real, too."
"The reason Jesus is my co-pilot is because I drive like Stephen Hawking on heroin."
"I'm so lonely and the world is so scary."
10:47 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Thursday, June 23, 2005

Trench Warfare

Work is piling up relentlessly. I'm having trouble keeping up. I'm poking my head above water right now for a brief moment to inhale some muggy air and witness the sunlight. When I return to the murky depths of employment undertow, I'll box away mutant crabs for possession of my genitals. I'll punch radioactive fish in the gills to keep my earlobes. I'll wrestle giant squid trying to contort me and stretch my ligaments. I'll flee electric eels and manta rays intent upon zapping me prone for slow nibbling consumption. It's a good thing urchins have no eyes or they'd burr all over my ass. I have no allies. I must continue to move with fluid precision to dodge the vicious assault of the aquatic menagerie intent on hooking me by the lip and dragging me down deep to gurgling asphyxiation and wet decay.

See you tomorrow. I hope.
11:33 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Chugging Bleach

I got myself all fixed up. On the way home yesterday, I took a detour down to the Elmhurst Buffalo Wild Wings for 35 cent wing Tuesdays. After departing with lots of hot wings and barbeque drumsticks, I landed home to watch baseball and clean my festering bedroom. After I finished with the mess I settled in for a hefty portion of chicken, grease, and gristle. I was lathered in sauce by the fourth inning. Today my ass is churning out Alpo in sporadic bellows blurts. It's worth the extra toilet paper every time. I have leftovers at home. Of the wings, not the Alpo.

The next step was laundry. I always feel sharper and happier in clean, freshly folded clothing. I arrived after nine and began my assault. First I slotted quarters, then I stuffed fabric, and finally I doused the lot with excessive quantities of syrupy detergent. I slammed the lids, tapped the buttons, and promptly departed the joint to go buy myself a movie to watch. I bought eight of them for forty dollars. More wasted money, sure, but at least it wasn't for drugs or beer.

When I returned to the 'mat I huddled myself on the windowsill and watched the pedestrian traffic drift along the gum-caked sidewalk. Kids on bicycles, tanktopped immigrants, and tired mothers wandered into the adjacent convenient mart for cigarettes, slurpees, and Soap Opera Digest. Nothing extraordinary.

Lots of police came and went. They bought sodas, coffees, twizzlers, pastries, and instant lottery scratchoffs. As I finished folding the last of my dry clothing, a young policeman pulled into the lot and exited his vehicle. Usually when a cop stops to look around and notice his surroundings, he's looking for evidence, perpetrators of crimes, or some poor slob to toy with. Not this one. His glances were fast and furtive. He trotted into the mart and emerged moments later with a box of wine coolers and a sly grin. He was no longer thinking about getting caught buying booze on the job. His mind was looking forward to something else. Now his demeanor had two things written all over it: abuse of authority and underage pussy. All he had to find now was some naive young girl with some pot in her pocket and a bigger fear of jail than of dick.

I left the laundromat. I left behind the grouchy Czech fellow with an acrid body odor, I left behind the gangly teen trying to read a fabric softener box, I left behind the unattended children humping the coin-op grabclaw machine full of stuffed animals, I left behind the pedestrian squalor of lower middle class Elmwood Park. I cruised back home, where I showered off the day's accumulated grime.

I settled in for a couple movies. I'm tired today, but I'm in a lot better mood.
1:21 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Mood Swing Architecture Science

I'm starting a campaign to resurrect R. Buckminster Fuller. I need him. In addition to inventing a cure for world hunger, cancelling our dependence on nonrenewable energy sources, and balancing the federal budget, I figure old Bucky could give me a pep talk and cheer me up.

Everybody has the right to have a bad day. Or a bad week. I've been having a bad month.

I've been down in the dumps for a couple weeks. I haven't been doing the exercize I promised myself. I've used no discipline when it comes to money. I started smoking again. I'm disappointed in myself. When I get like this, I let filth accrue in my room. This tends to amplify my mood until anger snaps me back to reality.

My room is a wreck. Old french fries are turning green and white. Ashtrays are overflowing. Candy wrappers and cellophanes peek out from under chair cushions. My clothes lay in heaps, clean and dirty intermingled. I have no enthusiam, energy, or desire. Frequently I get home from work and go straight to sleep. My mattress is leaning up against the wall, so I sleep on the hard floor, sweating in the heat, itching at the cracked CD cases digging into my legs. I've averaged ten to twelve hours of sleep a night. I am lethargy incarnate.

My life is decent. I have no excuse to feel sorry for myself. I've let frustrations and setbacks combine, creating a potent mixture of dejection and laziness. I need a good kick in the ass. Or the face.

That's why I need to bring Bucky Fuller back to life. Listen to this:

"In 1927, at the age of 32, Buckminster Fuller stood on the shores of Lake Michigan, prepared to throw himself into the freezing waters. His first child had died. He was bankrupt, discredited and jobless, and he had a wife and new-born daughter. On the verge of suicide, it suddenly struck him that his life belonged, not to himself, but to the universe."

Sounds like a load of hokey new age crap, right? Well, old Bucky took it seriously enough and became an inventor, scientist, and philanthropist. He represents the triumph of human endeavor. He was a pinnacle of entreprenuerial can-do spirit. He was an inspiration to self-pitying losers everywhere. His example screams "Stop whining, lazypants! Get off your duff and make something happen!"

I'm going to dig him up, slather his bones in thick wet clumpy clay, hook him to my car with jumper cables, and zap the fucker right back to life. Hopefully he'll be in good humor about it.

"You monsters! How dare you use my geodesic dome for Epcot Center! I have 25 patents! I wrote 28 books! I circled the globe 58 times! I'm goddamned feisty! My dome is a triumph of mathematics, not an emblem for Mickey fucking Mouse! My teardrop aerocar-"

BzzZZzz-psSHT! Crackle.

Damn. The alternator again. Maybe this wasn't the best way to drag myself out of my malaise. If Fuller taught me anything, it's that all change starts with me. Not with reanimated codgers from a monochrome past. I'll have to come up with something all by my lonesome. Maybe I'll go swimming while drunk. Or fast for a week. I could try my hand at graffiti. Something will cheer me up.

Sorry Buck. I'm putting you back. The world will have to go on without you again, and so will I. I hope I didn't singe your maggots too severely.


Who was R. Buckminster Fuller? Click Here And Find Out. The geodesic dome is his most well known creation.
9:32 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Monday, June 20, 2005

Steve & Jenny on 5/05/05 Upstairs @ Fizz
10:34 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Friday, June 17, 2005

Fiberglass Suicide Science

Something unusual happened last week. In a field fifteen miles east of Muncie, Indiana, farmer Ralph Bosworth's wheat crops took some damage. Nobody saw the offending thrasher, but many are whispering about the possibility of aliens.

In recent decades, patterns and symbols have been found imprinted upon crops around the world: circles, arrows, trapezoids, hollow octagons, radiation symbols, Nike logos, and Konami cheat codes. All manner of bizarre geometry have been photographed during rural flyovers by mystified helicopter passengers.

According to these recent reports, the Muncie marks conform to no obvious pattern. No symbols, messages, directions, or ciphers lurk within comprehension. The markings are simply an ugly mess, random spastic contortions of suicidal wheat clusters.

Mr. Bosworth was quoted in the Sun-Times article: "I reckon nothing but wind done that. An' stay the hell off m'property."

I'm really good at this sort of thing. I think. So I did what any normal interpreter of alien behavior, what any normal investigator of magical earth mysteries, what any upstanding citizen with a noble interest in educating the populace, what, well, anybody would have done. I went to Muncie.

I arrived on Monday night with a flashlight and a box of fruit roll-ups. I parked on a dry barren dirt patch about two miles from Bosworth's farm and hiked my way back to his wheatfields, taking special care to watch the skies for flickers, glows, and flashes.

I wandered deep into the field, parting wheat as I went. The crop wasn't tall enough to obscure my six foot height, and I wondered why aliens would choose such a field. There's assloads of cornfields nearby, and they're taller. Therefore they're a lot better for scaring and chasing dumb humans. Like me. In the wheat I could see any imminent threat long before it reached me. I could see the farmhouse, the barn, and a tractor off in the distance. No obstructions.

I wandered around until I found the molested wheat. The eyewitness accounts were right. No circles, no squares. Just chaos. The area looked like a dozen fat kids with epilepsy had eaten a cake there. I looked for evidence. Crumbs. Frosting. Sprinkles. All I found were a few shards of gold painted fiberglass. No alien metals, no glowing ethers, no interstellar mucus. Damn.

Fiberglass is man-made. Something happened here. But what?

I pondered the mystery for hours, chewing my fruit roll-ups and clicking morse code into the sky with my flashlight. Instead of hauling myself to my feet and trudging back to my car to begin my voyage home, I decided to take a short nap. A little refreshment would make my return trip less grueling.

I awoke to the echo of massive drums. Towering black silhouettes swayed above me, obscuring the moonlight. I jumped and sprinted away. As the sound receded, I realized the flurry of gargantuan golems had not followed me. I must be safe. My journalistic instinct took over and I turned to face the weird spectacle.

From here the moonlight exposed the source of the booming noises. Seven giants swung in and out of a loose huddle. They were twenty feet tall and stiff, their arms held outstretched, their faces frozen, maniacal and grinning. The charged each other like football players attempting to tackle. On stiff legs they hobbled, clumsy and sad, bouncing off one another. They were Muffler Men, old fiberglass statues made for a long dead chain of auto repair shops. They'd been sold and resold and redecorated, condemned to stand upright promoting dirty little stores and roadside attractions in the lonely places of America. Now they were scattered across the country painted as vikings, cowboys, sailors, and lumberjacks. One day they had awoken, perhaps by divine intervention, perhaps by galactic subversion, perhaps by lightning, perhaps by freak occurance. Somehow, they found each other. Telepathy, magnetism, awareness, and apparently, mild retardation.

I watched for an hour as they banged into each other, knocking fragments of loose fiberglass and chips of ancient paint from their decaying frames. When they finally stopped, they stood motionless in a circle for three minutes. After that, they bounced away in separate directions, each to his lonely far flung perch.

Was it a mating ritual? Were these sad statues trying to spread seed, to reproduce, to imitate the hedonistic fucking of the mammals that nested within their hollow bodies? Were they communicating in a secret language, a violent morse code of collision and crumbles? Were they performing a funeral ritual, mourning the decay of one of their demolished compatriots?

My opinion is slow suicide. I think they're trying to die, and that's the fastest thing they could imagine. They'll keep cracking until the last shard disintegrates, when they can go back to the sleepy nothingless whence they came.

Chicago Sun-Times Article: 5/17/05: Crop Circles In Muncie, IN
Roadside America Muffler Man Homepage: Fiberglass Roadside Giants
12:05 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Thursday, June 16, 2005

Consumer Reports

I've been inspecting trinkets, levers, valves and fluids for months. My car is such a source of financial prolapse that I obsess over every clink, clank, and gurgle.

It doesn't help, really. The contraption still kicks, pops, and shudders into stillness at inopportune moments, draining my bank account and my will to live.

This morning, I pulled into the Gun World parking lot on Irving Park Road when my temperature gauge approached the orange tick. (Yes, orange. Red is so extreme, so Dodge opted for the safety color instead of the danger color. I try to stay aware of all the sly psychological manipulations thrown at me by modern society.)

Another overheat. I always carry one jug of antifreeze and two of water for this very emergency. The auto shops can locate no leak, the radiator appears to function normally, and the thermostat registers input without interruption.

In short, the disappearing fluid is a mystery and nobody can help me. So I remain vigilant.

As I killed the ignition and called work to announce my imminent tardiness, another red Intrepid pulled into the gun shop. The exact same car, almost. Smoke and steam billowed violently from beneath his hood, and he craned his head out the window to gain a view of the pavement before him. He'd waited far longer to pull over than I. I don't wait for explosions and ruptures before I halt to address my problems.

What a pair we made. People honked, people gawked, people chuckled. I waved back, proud to know that I was participating in a unique event in the annals of bitter humor.

I learned that his is a 96. Mine's a 95. Same body style, same color, same problem, same place, same time. He just had his transmission done recently, too. I know what you're thinking: "Sell the fucking thing! Get another car!" Not so fast. I still owe money on it. I know, I know. I'll buy foreign next time.

I hate cars. I wish public transportation extended to the suburbs.

For about three weeks a new disease has spread across the garish promotional landscape: the employee discount ploy. Instead of cash back, zero APR, no money down for six months, or ten year powertrain warranties, the new gimmick is the employee discount.

"You pay what Suzuki employees pay and not a penny more!"

"Get a Landrover today and we'll cut you in on the deal we offer to our own employees!"

"Get the Toyota employee discount and pay less for a 2005 model Toyota than ever before!"

Okay, fuck you. You liars. I've heard this sales pitch hop from company to company like crabs in a brothel, and I know why. Here's what you're telling me: "Don't just buy our product, join our family. You'll not only pay less, but you'll share the rates of exclusive insiders. We care about you. A lot."

When the time comes for me to get a car, I'm going to stride into a dealership and ask for a better rate than the employees receive. I'm going to ask for a family discount.

"If I was your son, how much would I pay?"

"Excuse me?"

"Well, your daughter Jennifer told me that you're paying half of Christopher's payment each month on his 2005 Pontiac G6."

"Um...I... How do you know Jennifer?"

"I met her at Couchhouse last week. She's an animal. We're very close, Bob. Listen, I want a G6. It's a hell of a sexy car. Thing is, I've got nothing up front and my income is little shaky, know what I mean? So, uh, I'm figuring, you know, you could help me out here and there."

"Kid, get out of here. You probably think you're real funny, a real joker, right? Go away and stay the hell away from my Jenny."

"She's pregnant, Bob."
11:13 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Vacancies For Vagrants

Hobo Tipping For Blueprints

Friday night arrived under a thick wet blanket of heat. While I recovered from my grandmother's funeral, my compadres sat crosslegged at a lingerie show. I didn't hear much about the music or the nightclub, but plenty about the models. None of which bears repeating.

Together at the former roomie's apartment they giggled and pantomimed and splashed their drinks. I announced my arrival by waving a bottle of Jim Beam in the air and hoisting a 30-pack of Old Style. From grocery bags at my elbows swung 10 frozen pizzas. I was prepared to drink, puke, eat, and sleep, in that order.

Five hours later, Travis and Bor were extremely drunk. I was mildly sauced, but still capable of semi-rational judgment and practical restraint. They were not. How did I know this? Earlier in the evening, on the return trip from a caper, Travis had begun shouting out the car window at policemen, threatening to murder them.

"Five dilla killa!"

No, he is not black, in a gang, or from Detroit. Apparently he just thinks that's funny. Shame on you, sir. Bor behaved with civility and restraint throughout the evening, but Travis' sinister influence would soon corrupt him.

Shortly before sunrise Travis and Bor decided to go thrash the homeless. They were tired of beer, tired of whiskey, tired of being tired, and some good old-fashioned senseless violence would be just the right thing to spice up the morning.

"Fuck eggs and bacon, I wanna hurt somebody for breakfast!"


"Come on Bor, we're leaving. This sucks. Let's go find some hobos."


"Because! Come on!"

They returned two hours later with rolled-up, rubber-banded blueprints. I didn't spread them open carefully to determine which building they had assaulted. I just asked.

"Okay. Explanation. Now."

"Well, we went to the projects. Some gangbangers offered us some blueberry, so we smoked. Then we passed this massive steam vent geyser thingy next to the sidewalk. Then we found a bunch of homeless people in an alley and hung out with them for a while. One old dude has like three college degrees but is homeless for fun, or lifestyle, or something. He likes it. Smelly old fuck."

"Yeah, and the blueprints?"

"Oh yeah! We broke into the building the homeless sleep in during the winter and grabbed the blueprints. They don't need them anymore. We brought them back as a souvenier. We passed the underpass shrine on the way back and laughed at all the praying Mexicans. We kicked over the police barricades there and pretended to poo on Jesus's mom. Some Chinese guy pulled over to point and laugh with us. It was awesome. So here we are."

As I drank whiskey, the assembled crowd of six began to throw the rolled plans about the room. They unravelled, wide unwieldy streamers slicing the muggy air. The threat of papercuts zig-zagged everywhere as the blueprints broke down into scraps and paper balls. The pitching and fighing and ripping carried on for fifteen minutes, staining hands light blue.

People woke around noon, on floors and couches and chairs and tables, moaning for water and cool air. Bor had disappeared.

"He went to Union Station to catch the Elgin train."

"Yeah, but how? Did he take the Western bus south to Jackson? Did he have any idea where he was going?"

"I don't know."

"I hope he left early, because there's Bluesfest, the Cubs Red Sox games, and even more shit going on today. All public transportation is gonna be packed."

Several days later we discovered that Bor made it home safely. I was concerned that he fell asleep in Union station, had a sunstroke, was eaten by the vengeful homeless, or got arrested for public masturbation.

Travis almost died in my car. I fed him water and horchata and bade him to use my remaining frozen pizzas as a cold pillow. He almost melted in my back seat. Next time he'll drink some water before hunting hobos.

After I dropped everybody at home, I went to the movies.
11:11 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Monday, June 13, 2005

Thursday Night Sauce Club

I don't subscribe to premium channels, but I am now marginally aware that HBO broadcasts a program called Entourage in which a bunch of leeches and starfuckers cling to a moderately famous person. These fawning whores help the fleetingly famous fuckface spend his money while they stroke his ego and absorb the leftover alcohol and attention.

To promote this stylish splash in the shallow end of the pool, HBO is encouraging people in major metropolitan centers such as New York, LA, Chicago, and Denver to get some free shit. They're handing out membership cards complete with pin numbers and signature strips. Take this, they command, strut into posh bistros, flash your card, and collect free swag like a real Hollywood star with an inflated head and a tight ass. (I'm not even sure what bistros are, but I think they're related to boutiques)

Last week, Chicagoans were encouraged to get a neck shave at some expensive hotel barber. My last haircut was on my birthday, nearly three months ago. My sideburns are Elvisesque and my pompadour is regal in splendor. Why ruin a good thing in an expensive manner? The very notion is a dual vulgarity. Therefore, I will decline to waltz into a posh buzz joint for a free neck shave and a $70 haircut. Nice marketing ploy. I'll stick to my usual discount routine and stick my head into an industrial air conditioning fan when it gets too long. The whiplash doubles as my chiropractor.

Next I was encouraged to take part in the upscale nightclub revelry of the rich and vacant. Go, they said, and drink free Absolut drinks from 9pm-12am at the Bungalow Lounge on Belmont. Well, okay. I like alcohol. How bad could this be?

My former roomie got there first with his black Entourage card. He was awarded a VIP booth and a $50 bottle of vodka for his punctuality. Not bad. I arrived later and was unsurprised to discover that I'd underdressed for the venue. The other customers wore socks that cost more than my entire wardrobe put together. Unfortunately that's not saying much, since my clothes are ragged, faded, decrepit, and old. I spend my money on car repairs and illegal drugs. I never was one for presentation, and perhaps that fuels my disdain for the extremely hip and vouger than thou crowd inhabiting this vapid den of earnest elegance. After an hour of bland jazz-hop, abstract art created by a colorblind geometry major, and upturned silk collars, I departed with my troop of lazy unemployed beatniks to a habitat more appropriate to our kind, Sheffield's. Drinks would ring up at well under $6 here. Can I get an amen and hallelujah?

Sheffiled's was packed with my kind of people. I went straight for the beer garden in back. There was no shiny clothing, few with shiny hair, dirty t-shirts, slouched postures, picnic benches, tall trees, plenty of sandals, and lots of laughter. This was a vast contrast from the refined murmuring and svelte posing within the Bungalow Lounge. I drank, I rejoiced, and I made merry with my boisterous companions. Much better.
2:05 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Thursday, June 09, 2005

Indian Demon Science

I was a great Cub Scout. Dad was the Pack Leader and Mom was my Den Mother. I earned all 21 activity badges and developed interests in morse code and carpentry. I made pinewood derby cars, beeping code levers, birdhouses, and little catapults. I loved it. I sold shitloads of chocolate bars for fundraisers and never missed a campout.

I loved campouts. I could whittle, burn things, play hide and seek in the forest, and yell swear words whenever I wanted. Pure heaven for a whippersnapper like me. Watch out, marshmallows, this kid has a sharp stick and a sugar jones.

When I reached Boy Scouts, things evolved. I learned CPR, archery, rifles, blacksmithing, pottery, leatherpunching, canoeing, and hacking down trees with hatchets. This last skill would come in handy.

Midway through summer in 1991 I went camping with Troop 493 from Schaumburg, Illinois. We went to Camp Napowan in Wild Rose, Wisconsin. This was my first trip without my father. This meant I could ditch all my merit badge classes and swing back and forth all day in my hammock listening to Skid Row on my headphones. Which I did.

Our troop's camp was deep in the forest, several miles from the mess hall and the activity workshops. Although this entailed lots of walking to get anywhere, it also meant we got visits from more wild animals and could make rowdier noises after lights out. We also had one of only two authentic Indian totem poles on the edge of our camp. This was cool.

On the last night of camp I was the last one awake. The other boys had fallen asleep after we'd played cards deep into the night. Bullshit, Hearts, Go Fish, you name it. After we disbanded I laid in my tent and lamented the end of another summer adventure.

Finally I began to drift off when I heard a tent zipper run down. Another urinater. Then I heard groaning and swearing. Yikes. A shitter who wouldn't make it to the latrine. Poor bastard. Would he wipe his ass with poison ivy in the dark? I heard heavy splashing and sizzling on the dying fire, the whoosh of evaporating steam, and retching chokes. Was he puking?

The racket faded. I heard feet stumble away. I opened my tentflap halfway and tried to see which fellow camper was suffering from an ill stomach. It was Mr. Westphal, the grizzled old bastard who stuck with the scouts long after his sons grew up. He whittled great canes and chess sets with his Swiss army knife. I admired him.

Was he humping the totem pole? What the fuck? I crept out of my tent. No, he was hugging it. Maybe leaning on it for support. I heard him dry heaving. I came closer. He was clutching at his throat with one hand and pounding on the totem with the other.

I was a boy scout! I knew the Heimlich maneuver! I ran to save Mr. Westphal. Unfortunately, my first aid was no match for his condition. He turned around at the sound of my footsteps.

I froze in shock and disgust. Poor Mr. Westphal's head was swelling. A giant lump grew just above his ear. It inflated rapidly, stretching his skin, causing his scalp and hair to ripple. He twitched and his eyes rolled up into his head before they popped. Blood ran from the empty sockets. He clawed at his face, smearing loose flesh as his skin bubbled and sizzled like bacon. His skull finally burst. A weak splash of runny brainpulp and splintered skull speckled my wincing face. I threw up. Blood spurted from his neck and pooled with my vomited marshmallows.

Freshly hollowed, I began screaming. Nobody rose from their tents. Frantic, I went from tent to tent shaking shoulders, yelling in ears, kicking legs. The slow slumbering breathing of the children continued. The adults snored. None could be roused.

I heard a sound from the direction of the old fella's leaking corpse. The sound of fish flopping in a dry bucket. With trepidation I faced the pattering sound. Clumps of loosened flesh separated from Mr Westphal's bones and floated into the air. The dripping wads shot to the totem pole as if vacuumed or compelled by magnetism. With sucking little noises like slurping straws in empty cups, they disappeared, absorbed by the totem pole. The bird wings at the peak of the pole glowed and dripped blood back to the mud and grass.

Even back then I was a take charge type of person. I wiped the vomit from my chin and marched back to my tent. I grabbed my hatchet. By the time I returned to the totem pole, even the bones were gone. No trace remained of Mr. Westphal except his intricate cane.

I wondered for a moment if he'd known about this totem, if somehow his woodcarving had attached him to the hivemind of the woods. I was a pretty good whittler, too. Maybe that explained why I was awake and everyone else was unable to rise. They were not welcome to witness the secrets the Indians knew. That felt wrong to me. It must be something else. I put it away from my mind. I had business.

I attacked. I hacked. I chopped. I hewed. I cut the fucker down and demolished each segment into splinters. I cried and howled and grunted and sweated. I gathered up the piney mess and heaved it to the fire. I stoked the flames and watched the pyre. I tried to wrench the crooked stump from the ground, but it would not give. Never once did I find a trace of Mr. Westphal inside the wooden monolith. I'm convinced the totem was a mouth and the stomach digested him somewhere far below the surface of the earth. I went to my tent so I wouldn't have to look at the fractured stump. I didn't sleep that night.

The next morning we all made ready for departure. As I collapsed my tent I saw the adults standing around the shattered stump of the totem pole. They were frowning and rubbing their chins. They called the troop together.

"Boys, do any of you know what happened to this totem pole? It's been standing since I was a boy, and our troop could get in a lot of trouble if they think we destroyed it."

"I didn't hear anything."

"Me either. Wouldn't choppin' it down be kinda loud?"

I chimed in. "Where Mr. Westphal?"

"Who's Mr. Westphal, son?"

His eyes went foggy as he spoke this. The other leaders and scouts looked at me. In the light of their eyes I saw puzzled curiosity dull to blankness and finally to a vacant idiot dumbness. Some ancient earth magic had overtaken their awareness. They promptly forgot my question. I chose never to mention him again.

"What about this cane?"

"Huh. Evidence of our culprit. Our silent culprit. Beautiful carving. Nice cane. I wonder where he dragged that pole off to? I wonder why he left his cane? How could a fella who needs a stick to walk chop and drag something that big? Huh."

We departed for the trading post to check out for the summer. I lagged behind to take one last look around. Even if everybody else had their memories scrubbed, I wanted to remember my favorite mentor. I was the only one who could. I wanted to say goodbye. I murmured a few words of thanks and good wishes to the mysteriously consumed Mr. Westphal.

As I turned to leave, I saw a majestic sight. Butterflies landed. The totem stump was twittering with life.

Not all anceint magic of the earth is evil.
2:10 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Love and Venom

I had a spectacular arachnoerotic vision. I know my future. I have plans this weekend.

Next Saturday I'll take a walk across the street. A narrow strip of deciduous trees separates the Des Plaines River from River Road. I've never been down there, but I know what to expect.

I'll see a sluggish river clogged thick with algae. Fallen tress will lay across the banks, their former apexes now drowned in the lazy, murky current. Fractured stumps will fight a losing battle against the slow rot of humidity and insect infestation. The air will stink of decay and beaver shit. Stagnant green puddles will breed the first wave of this year's mosquito pestilence. The proof of their existence will be the manifestation of swirling clouds of infant insects tasting sun and diesel exhaust as their inborn bloodlust drives them to hot mammals.

It'll be a steamy afternoon. The sun will not blink, and the air will not budge. I'll be soaked in perspiration by the time I discover my plot. My search will conclude when I find a rare weedless patch of mud hiding lukewarm under shade. With branches and twigs I'll lay a thatched nest in the brackish sludge. After I shed my clothing, I'll lay myself naked face up in my bed. The mud will creep between my toes, into my armpits, and throughout my hair. Silt will cradle my balls.

Then, I will wait.

It may take a minute. It may take an hour. But I know the slow rhythm of my lungs and the gentle flutter of my eyelids will send an imperceptible message to my soul kin, driving them skyward. They will wake from their secret slumber and alight to the sky, a horde unspeakable. Millions of black eyes and billions of tiny bristles will quiver and flex, and they will come to touch me.

People hate spiders. Fearsome, ugly little monsters. Eight legs, a thousand eyes, and bad intentions. "I don't care if it eats flies, crush the fucking thing!" you say. Not I. Oh no.

When I see the graceful nimble prancing of eight legs, my soul is filled with ballet. When I see the spiraling webs, pirouette. When I witness the frantic scuttle to pounce upon prey, allegro. The flurry of attack upon the surprised dinner, entrechat. When the prone is spun for the pantry, coupe jete. The return to the nexus, promenade. Danseur noble.

My spiders will fly. On butterfly wings delicate and beautiful they will soar, fluttering under the sultry heat, not wilting, never tiring. They've amassed from the world over, a genetic message itching deep within their little brains, telling them: "Go there." All types, all species. Orb weaver, tarantula, recluse, funnel weaver, wolf, and garden. All harmonious, all cooperative, emerging from cocoons where their wings grew. A genetic marriage of the lepidoptera and the arachnids.

The afternoon sky will darken as the converging swarm swirls above. From every direction the sound will grow in volume. Not buzzing, not chirping, not scraping: Shuffling.

Finally, my flying spiders will descend for love. They'll dance across me, nipping and tickling and kissing. They'll drink my sweat and caress my pores. The sounds of crinkling paper mache will soothe my ears; a concerto of their collapsed wings sweeping across their neighbors' flexing limbs. My mouth will open and the chosen will offer themselves to me as sacrifice, crawling into my mouth, stopping on my tongue as they wait for my gleaming jaws to render them. My orgy. As they dance, I will harden, and I will come. They will drink. I am the seed, and they are the womb. I will sleep.

Next time, there will be an army. In twenty-five years, my family of human children will walk down to the river, and my next generation will resume the spawning ritual. My legacy, my eternal life.
9:40 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Don't Be Late, She's Decomposing

Well, I'm back.

I wasn't going to write about this experience, but my uncle encouraged me to do so with a choice Shakespeare quote. If I pegged it correctly. I've never been one for the classics. I'm sure this will get me in trouble, but I've always remembered to be honest and write without restraint, so here I go.

The hostess wears a black ribbon in her hair, whispers her words, and cranes her neck in practiced sympathy. All day long she quitely ushers mourning families into silent parlors and stands in the corner as the bereaved fill tissues with snot and tears. She witnesses as callow callous youths scoff at the framed quotes from greats such as Lincoln and Churchill hung in washrooms and grief lounges.

I'd hate working in a funeral home. My humor is disgustingly inappropriate for such a setting, and I'd be helpless before the endless barrage of morbid symbolism. Even the blackness of the courtesy coffee would set me off into aberrant giggling fits.

There's an off chance the decor was intentionally humorous. There was a small basket of books for children. Facing outwards was The Big Book Of Dinosaurs. Dinosaurs are extinct. Death. Clocks hung in every room, some modern, some antique. Time marches on. Death. A trio of old cameras were arranged on a shelf representing frozen moments gone by. Time marches on, again. Plastic flowers leaned from vases. Death? Oh, I get it. Preservation. A little mortuary humor. A pastoral wooden fence by Thomas Kincade hung in the entryway. How cheerful. I hate Kincade.

I can't say much about Grandma. She looked terrible, of course. During my private moment, I studied her. Her fingers were thick and swollen. Her lips were discreetly sewn shut. Her cheeks were sunken. I touched her arm and said goodbye. I'm not sure if there was stuffing in there, but feeling that spongey give underneath my fingers revolted me and I pulled my hand back, appalled.

I regained my composure and chose instead to spend a few moments with the two photographs. I memorized her smile. I walked away.

She was 92. She lived a good life. I was more upset watching my parents cry than I was hearing of her death. Still, I look forward to the funeral on Friday. I'll probably learn more about my grandmother than I have during my entire life.
8:37 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Bad News

"Dear Steve,

Your grandmother Phyllis has died. She was fortunate to have several grandchildren. Many of them visited her, shared their lives with her, and made her feel loved. Unlike you. You were never there. When she was sick, you never came to the hospital. When she asked how you were, you never showed your face. You rarely spent any time with her. Twice in three years is pathetic as hell, and once was just to pilfer her dusty possesions for buried treasure before she and Uncle Richard moved.

The visitation is Tuesday afternoon. The funeral is Friday. Will you appear? Will you say goodbye?"

"Dear conscience,

I'll be there. I loved Grandma Phyllis. I could've been a better grandson. I won't deny that. Last time I visited her I didn't have much to say, and neither did she. She was losing touch with reality, and that was last November. By the time she was in the hospital last week she'd gone completely senile and was unconscious all the time. Why should I have gone? To see her fading away in a sterile hospital room? To see her at her very worst, at the very end? I hate hospitals and I'm not too keen on hanging out with looming death. Sorry.

I'm glad I'll get to look at pictures and hear stories about her. That's a much better way to remember her."
11:10 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm

Monday, June 06, 2005

Lackluster Sanitation Science

One of many handcut glass decorations adorning the main room at Joyblue. Not bad, if you like this sort of thing.

Ten dollars buys you a bottomless glass for two hours at Joyblue on Friday night, 8pm to 10pm. A few likeminded saucehounds and I wandered over to indulge ourselves.

What kind of name is Joyblue? Pretentious. Prissy. Dull. Edgeless. This was all fine with me. I wanted affordable alcohol and the promise of an early night. If I had my way we'd have stayed inside and sung bad karaoke again. Sadly, that notion was vetoed. Oh well. If I could last through a few hours of public wallet rape, my compatriots would eventually tire and then we'd go home and play darts.

I entered. Pedestrian house music limped lazily from stacks of blown speakers. The uninspired DJ bobbed his head without enthusiam, a fishing lure cut adrift from its line. Three television sets were tuned to a sports news channel. The scrolling scoreboard ran across the screen's bottom like a poor man's stock ticker. Soft blue light backlit liquor bottles and spiky haircuts. Young people sat subdued, waiting for later and louder hours.

I loitered. I leaned. I imparted pearls of wit to my unimpressed brethren. We played conversation tennis, banter racket, bearable with gin. Finally my bladder alarm rang and I went to urinate with glorious abandon. The bathroom was a clautrophobic little closet with two urinals, a sink, no dividers, and no toilet. Strange. Relieved, I exited. I gave my amigos the sitrep. Noah appeared concerned.

"Hey Noah, you okay?"

"Dude, why would they have two pissers and no can? What if people gotta shit?"

"You holding one in or just feeling righteous in general?"

"A little of both. There's a lot of bullshit things pissing me off today. Needing diapers at a hipster bar is not one I expected to deal with."

"Are you gonna do it?"

"Do what?"

"Shit in the sink. Or even the urinal. Hold it until the last possible moment, build up some pressure, then WHOOSH! KERSPLAT! Use that serious torque to blast that white porcelain brown. I'll grab you some cocktail napkins to bring in there. You'll need 'em to mop the sop off your aching bung."

"You're fucking sick, Steve."

As the ten o'clock hour approached I grew restless. I watched the television, following the scores of the Cubs and White Sox games. The fuzzy picture on the screen next to a speaker stack jumped with the bass thumps. Lines of static squiggled with each 4/4 drop. Time to migrate. I corralled my friends. All of them were located easily except Noah. Had he left to go find someplace with respectable facilities?

We stood outside. Partygoers passed through the threshhold wielding Red Bulls and Marlboro Lights and golf visors. Still no Noah. He did not respond to multiple phone calls.

We were about to abandon hope when Noah game scampering out, breathing heavily, glancing behind him.

"Let's go. Now. Come on guys! Stop fucking around and let's fuck off! Time to jet!

"What's your rush?"

"Remember that Stilton I ate for lunch?"


"Yeah, at Goose Island. The holy mother of all stinkburgers."

"You did it, didn't you?"

"Yep. There was no lock so I had to bar the door with my leg while I percolated some thick mudbubbles from my colon. I filled the sink halfway."


"Man, that was the biggest rush I ever got from pooing. I gotta try this in more places. Man, was I sweating! You shoulda seen me. I was breathing hard and pushing too. I felt like a pregnant chick giving labor. Sort of. Except from my ass. I almost puked, too. It smelled so fucking bad, you have no idea dude."

"Noah, you're a hero among men. I'd shake your hand, or high-five you, but frankly, I don't want to touch you. I'll buy you a round next time in honor of your glorious defecation. I want to be just like you when I grow up."

The Goose Island Brew Pub's Legendary Stilton Burger is a half pound of black pepper crusted burger, grilled and topped with roasted garlic cloves, Stilton cheese and Düsseldorf mustard on a pumpernickel roll. They use a lot of garlic. A lot. The burger pictured above is NOT a Stilton burger. There's no picures of one online, sadly.
1:45 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Friday, June 03, 2005

I Eat With a Blender And A Funnel

You know me. I'm always picking up garbage so I can smell it for foreign substances. I carry around a marker to leave secret signals on bus stop benches and light poles. I'm always trying to track down scraps of evidence to prove an unlikely conspiracy. My secondary purpose in life is raising the threshold of public enlightenment by using commonplace flotsam as interlocking puzzle pieces in my bizarre collage of colliding juxtapositions.

So I march onwards with my reverse bifurcation of the mundane, creating dichotomies where no relation previously entwined the newly enjoined vicitms of my staple gun. Let's make a strange connection. Join me.

All for revelation. I do this to help people.

First off, drug advertisements. You've seen, heard, or read commercials for hundreds of different drugs over the past five years. Some of them never even stated their purpose. As a result, people everywhere are flocking to physicians to ask if Trimentholitis is right for them. Hypodermic needles aren't just for heroin junkies anymore. Now you can freebase Minoxodil by injecting it under your eyelid and a forest of hair will sprout instantly somewhere on your lumpy body. Use it enough and you might get lucky and grow a few atop your head.

For the longest time, federal law required pharmecutical ads to inform you that side effects may include rectal bleeding, projectile vomiting, skin peeling, eyeball shrivelling, leprosy, and halitosis. Unfortunately people weren't begging for unnecessary prescriptions at a fast enough clip to satisfy the stockowners.

More hypnotized zombies were needed to increase consumption and boost profits. What could the FDA do to help our drug manufacturers sell more idiot pills to bovine America? Change the ad restrictions! Now I never hear about side effects including hysteria, intestinal blockage, leaky liver, exploding spleen, or dry mouth. Instead the commercials conclude with "See our ad in Ladies Home Journal."

I heard one this morning that said "See our ad in Wal-Mart magazine!" Holy shit. Now I have to buy my drugs in bulk discount? I guess that's cool if they come with an automated delivery system that will shoot the capsules up my ass while I sleep. I'll just sleep with my ass prone in the air. When my prescription happy pill is launched I'll stop snoring from my ass and start snoring from my mouth. I'll need another pill for that.

Secondly. The new Fruit and Walnut Salad at McDonald's. I believe this is the first menu item to be suggested for both breakfast and dinner. You can order it anytime. Not only is this tray of perky garbage supposedly healthy, but it purports to deliver a buzz to the eater.

Personally, I enjoy catching a buzz from drinking and drugging. Not from my dinner. (unless we're talking turkey here) This new entree crosses that line. Not only will the fruit walnut tray cause euphoria, but it will also impair my judgement. The ad I heard on the radio this morning portrayed a woman telling her stylist to surprise her with a new haircut. The other be-curlered matrons shreiked in shock and dismay. What could she be thinking? Is she drunk? Crazy? Gossip abounds.

At this point I'm going to take a few liberties with the gossip dialogue. This is important because it allows me to portray what I think the ad wanted to say but couldn't due to FCC decency restrictions.

"I'll bet Beatrice skipped church this morning to go to McDonalds!"

"Goodness yes! I think she nibbles those walnuts in a restroom stall while she jams her vibrator through her pantyhose and whiffs Krylon. All at the same time by golly!"

"That would take three hands! She must save the paint for dessert."

"What a horrible mother. I hope Sheila gives her a terrible new hairdo."

"Me too. That bitch deserves it."

(When they all leave each of them separately sneaks to McDonalds' for their own guilt and salad orgies)

The critical point here is this: these chemical slathered crones are showing us that eating a fruit and walnut salad is a guilty pleasure like chocolate, ice cream, or masturbating in department store try-on rooms.

I reject this. I say Mcdonald's is the guilty party here, not the consumer. I say Ronald McDonald is a deranged clown, a drug dealer standing under the arches, hollering to the passers by:

"Catch the nut buzz my chillens! This shit will straight fuck you up, Joe! Limited time only, mothafucka!"

I reiterate: McDonalds' is the bad guy here, not you the consumer, not their character Beatrice. Bea is an unsuspecting victim, a hapless consumer drawn in by the promise of low carbs, natural fructose, vitamin C, and beverages improved by Splenda.

When the confusing mixture of subliminal messages succeed and the customer's self-esteem fractures, they can move in for kill. Instead of fruit, they'll sell you McNuggets while you're in the dumps and looking to indulge yourself. Then you'll feel the need to eat healthy, and the vicous circle will begin anew.

That is, unless you can find the willpower to break the cycle of drive-through addiction.

Don't worry! GlaxoSmithKline is developing a pill that will give you the willpower to resist the McSalads. A diet pill, an appetite reducer. You'll need another pill from Baxter to counter the side effects of clammy skin and bleeding tear-ducts from the first pill, but at least you'll be able to resist the siren call of McChickens and Big Macs.

Eventually McDonald's will get wise and fight back, and they'll start their own pharmecutical branch to put addictive additives in their food. That way nobody will be able to resist.

Wait a minute. The buzz in the fruit and walnut salads! They're already drugging people! There's a war for possession of the consumer bloodstream underway here. We're just rats with money.

Make sure you have good insurance.
8:21 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Thursday, June 02, 2005

Familus Horribilus

A couple days ago a senile old bag named Mark Felt admitted he was Deep Throat, the famous informant behind the Watergate scandal. He's 91 years old now, so I guess he has nothing at stake anymore. He's free to spill the beans without fear of retaliation for squealing on Nixon. What does he care? Nowadays he craps into disposable underwear, eats through a feeding tube, and uses magnetic poetry to communicate.

He did a good thing for this country. It was important for Americans to realize that our politicians were cynical lying power hungry scumfucks. It was nice for us to know that our leaders did not have our best interests at heart. It was beautiful when collectively, as a society, we threw our hands in the air and said "I don't care. Fuck it. Could be worse, right?" This paved the way for decades of leadership hellbent on destruction and greed, the twin pillars of my beloved American culture.

This awareness set us on the course that led us where we stand today, a peaceful society, free of want, beloved by nations the world around.

Once upon a time I thought I would become a journalist. I'd start by writing puff pieces on obsessive Christmas decorators for the local newspaper. I'd use these saccharine tributes to gaudy excess to get my freelance foot in the door. At the time, I was too stoned to get off my couch and buy a tape recorder, and I never got around to starting the project. I was thinking back to this yesterday when somebody on the radio mentioned that Woodward and Bernstein are considered to be gods among journo circles.

Sounded familiar. Woodward and Bernstein. Oh yeah. Dad once told me that I'm related to or descended from one of the duo Rodgers and Hammerstein. I don't know which. Don't care, either. So who are they and how do Woodward, Bernstein, Rodgers, and Hammerstein all go together? Is it just the "Who and Jew" duo pattern that's causing these correlative echoes in my mind? Time to look stuff up.

Musicals? Shit. I don't know much of anything about them. I liked The Sound Of Music as a kid, because there were singing Nazis in it. I think. Children love Nazis. Don't give me any crap, you loved Nazis too when your were a sprite. They had funny uniforms, strange motorcycles, and helmets with spikes in the center to protect them from divebombing sparrows. There'd be no Indiana Jones movies without a band of evil krauts with bad intentions and goofy accents.

Here's the part of the entry where I compose alternate lyrics for "These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things" to be sung by Richard Nixon. Then I make a stupid joke about needing a deep throat to sing "Fa so la ti da!" Wow. I'm so lazy I'm describing jokes instead of actually writing them up. Time to quit.

I'm feeling lazy and mean so I'm cutting this retarded bullshit out before I say something really crass. Good night. I feel like I am one of these today:

5:36 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Robots Of Trichobezoar

Construction workers keep early schedules. They begin hammering right at sunrise and stop sometime after lunch. For as long as I can remember I've thought they kept this schedule for three reasons: afternoon work is overtime pay, drinking a few beers before going home to the wife and kids, and attending early baseball games. Normal things.

These men are the foundation of our society, the men who plaster our walls and pave our streets. What could be more benign than the gruff blue collar ethic of sawdust, box lunches, sunburn, and pickup trucks?

Alas, there is a bad apple in every bunch. Sometimes there's a few. Several of these rotten apples are conducting unspeakable acts in the condominium construction site next door to my home. These ghouls appear to be regular men by day, sweating and swearing and grunting and heaving. They toil the morning away clad in overalls, wood chips, brick dust, and calluses. Some of the laborers, no doubt, are genuine men of the trade. A select few hide a darker secret.

The humans leave around 2pm in their pickup trucks. Those that remain are the owners of a small fleet of windowless white workvans. These so-called people, I decided, were not overtime laborers. They behaved too strangely.

I'll get to that. I want to share my first impressions. Maybe they were simply my worst fears, fevered hallucinations run rampant. I thought: These are impish fiends in disguise, wearing the skin of men as condom protection for their widescale fucking of humanity. These are the curators of impending armageddon. These who loiter here until dusk must be inhuman beasts with multiple stomachs, hot teeth, and strange appetites.

I've been having lots of problems lately with interdimensional alien monsters and psychotropic transmissions. Due to these encounters I've been meaning to infiltrate the local demon-imp base. I've been musing on it for over a month, but I've been holding myself back, waiting for the right time. I can feel it coming soon. Not immediately, but soon. My most recent discovery adds urgency to my upcoming mission.

I want to talk to my friends about it, but I don't want them to commit me, shun me, reprimand me, or shake their heads in condescending denial. I'll need proof before I can take this to them for support. I'm afraid to attack this fearsome menace alone. But if that's necessary, at the very least I must recruit believers beforehand, disciples to spread the message and carry my torch in the unfortunate event of my savage dismemberment by bloody claws.

I suppose I should tell you more. I began to suspect weirdness when I went on my back porch recently to enjoy some evening coffee. I saw two white vans parked in the dirt below. Next to them was a pile of refuse: plywood scraps, shattered bricks, cracked cinderblocks, sawdust, and canvas wrapping. Behind the vans stood four workers in a circle facing each other, smoking cigarettes. All four of them were silent, and I thought it odd that I'd heard no noise of industrious labor for a good while. The construction ruckus had ceased long before. For several hours all the sounds leaking in through my windows had been typical: the usual River Road traffic, clunk-clunks from bouncing semi carriages, and pulsing basslines from caffeine addled Eastern Europeans. No hammering. Why were these four workers still here?

I looked down at the silent pow-wow. They moved only to breathe their cigarette smoke. They did this with slow deliberation, one worker taking a drag at a time. They were a clock measuring increments perceptible only to them. The local wildlife seemed not to notice them. I saw a raccoon traipse over a yellow workboot and and scramble into the naked building with nary a glance upwards nor an inkling of predatory danger.

Finally the sun crept below the treeline across the street. I live right across from the Des Plaines river, and I enjoy the luxury of third story porch with a forest top sunset view whenever I choose. Pollution from the heavy traffic that separates me from the river emanates up into the sky, adding richness and glory to the dying light.

That day I didn't enjoy the fading light. I wanted desperately to see what the mute quartet would do when they finally budged. The moment the dimness obscured their features, they turned in unison to face the building. They walked inside single file, still wordless, still creepy.

I waited a few moments. From deep inside I heard a low whirring. I scuttled down my stairs and slunk around the fence. I tiptoed up to the building and crawled through a bare window socket. Carefully I moved deeper into the darkness until finally, in the center of the basement cavity, I saw the strangest scene I've ever witnessed in my whole damn life.

The four men were seated around a long plastic children's picnic bench. Haphazardly scattered about the floor were steel traps. Caught within them were dogs, cats, raccoons, and possums. The floor was strewn with animal bait: dead rats and fish. The trapped animals looked full and happy. Perhaps the food had been drugged?

The men at the table had removed their hard hats. From small circlular holes dead center atop each of their heads, dull grey light emanated, fading mere inches above their domes. Wafting upward from the ugly glowing holes came feathers of leaden ash that fluttered out of their cranial light columns into the gentle evening breeze.

So they were not at all human. They were flashlight torchskull men that powered their heads with some sort of nuclear steel grey light. They didn't strike me as overtly sinister. They were stiff, deliberate, precise, and synchronized. I decided they must be robots. They were mere mechanical minions, manufactured operatives of an unseen unidentified threat.

The whirring sounds transformed as I snuck nearer. Closer up, I easily indentified the humming as the low buzz of shaving clippers. The automatons held the furry animals over plastic buckets and shaved them clean. The docile cooperative creatures lay limp in the imp-bots' hands as their hair fell in mangy clumps into the buckets. Once naked, the little mammals were gently placed into carry cages. After fourteen animals were shaved clean, filling four buckets with hair, the robotic servants replaced their hard hats on their heads. Next they carried all the sleeping animals out to the vans. Last they came back and removed the bait and traps.

Throughout all of this I had sat silently in a dark corner. I wondered if they would've attacked me. Certainly they must be programmed to allow no witnesses, to accept no breach of secrecy. I remained silent. Wondering. What could they possibly do with all that animal hair?

The vans had not started yet. I heard moaning and whimpering coming from outside. Oh boy. More eavesdropping. More sleuthing and danger. I moved towards the front entrance and peered out. One of the vans was open, and strapped to a gurney inside was a pale, skinny man with pallid complexion, dark bags under his eyes, and needletracks running up and down his arms.

"Oh no, not again, please, not again."

"You must. Bezoar."

A needle was plunged into his arm at the crook of the elbow. He sighed and smiled. He appeared to fall asleep immediately but one of the robot construction workers sat him up. The fake carpenter grabbed a handful of striped raccoon hair from a bucket and mixed it in a glass mug with a thick elixer of some unknown clear fluid.


He tilted back the unhealthy man's head and poured the viscuous bristly sludge down the man's gullet. The man moaned again, and then he burped. The robots closed the van doors. Both vans sped away.

I was safe again, for now. What was that strange utterance? I remembered.



What happens when an animal licks itself clean and, instead of coughing up a ball of hair, it stays inside the stomach for years, calcifying and hardening? A bezoar, or a trichobezoar! The most majestic ones manifest not as gall stones, but as spiky barbed spherical nests of intricate beauty. Long ago they were regarded as rare exotic jewels, magical poison cures, or focal points of mystic energy.
1:52 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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