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Monday, April 30, 2012

The Long Way Home - An Epic Tale of Travel

After an idyllic three days (five if you count two travel days. I do not - that would be optimist-math, which is even more difficult and unrealistic to process than algebra) in the Caribbean (St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands), the last thing in the world I wanted to think about was the 13-hour trip back to Phoenix. Whether someone in the travel department resented the fact that I was going in the first place, or The Travel Gods were simply harrumphing their way through another day of random delay, arbitrary mishaps and epic blunders, my daughter and I had somehow been managed to be booked for a three-stage, thirteen hour travel-extravaganza that included two layovers of nearly 5-hours, and turned what had been an 8-hour trip to the islands into this beleaguered journey home.

The only redeeming factor on the drawn-out trek from the Islands to the American Southwest was the fact that the stewardess (flight attendant, whatever - blah, blah, blah...) looked like Jackie Brown - the lead character in the Quentin Tarentino film of the same name, who was portrayed by the lovely and voluptuous Pam Grier, who had fueled many a teenage boyhood fantasy back in the day. An exotic second-fiddle only to the beloved Raquel Welch, in this teenage boy's book.

That's right - Jackie Brown was my stewardess.

Aside from having Jackie Brown as our stewardess and the subsequent meandering of the Tarantino soundtrack through my brain, which was a pleasant diversion, I have always found that the waiting and the rushing, the Patience-Yin to the Panic-Yang - can be a bit tiresome. Case in point:

The tiresomeishness grows ten-fold when one is forced to sit on the tarmac for three hours while mechanics and electricians and other flight-industry-repair super-heroes attempt to get to the bottom of the troublesome "Error" message that is somehow binding up the works. Now, I am no expert, but I assume that these are not to be ignored and appreciate the workers' due diligence on the matter.

Go workers.

There is still a little seed of doubt, however, about the ability of the craft to carry me through the heavens safely. Error lights can be tricky. The fact that the second leg of the trip (Miami to Dallas) was scheduled simply to rocket me through the sky only to wait for three hours at the Dallas airport for the third leg of the trip did provide some solace. That said, I must admit that I would have preferred hunkering down in the comfort of a dark saloon for the wait to enjoy some fried food and a cold beverage rather than shoehorned into the window seat next to a spindly, overly-curious old woman whose head bobs and cranes like a chicken every few seconds as she searches the area for new, pertinent information. You could practically hear her clucking in her seat. "buck, buck buck... BWAAAACK! buck, buck buck..."

Directly in front of me is a precocious toddler on her mother's lap, who alternately bangs her head on the window, or brays along with the other toddlers like a wild pack of rhesus monkeys with urinary tract infections. When she grows bored with these two venerable pastimes, she stares at me with cold, dead eyes through the space between the window and seat and makes pig-noises and tries to grab my knee with her chubby little fingers. My "mean face" does not intimidate her.

Bless her heart.

Three hours after boarding, we are "go" for a launch in rainy Miami. I have neglected to mention that I have needed to urinate since the middle of the last flight. With all of the rushing between flights (with me nearly blowing out a hammy while energetically scampering through the crowded terminal like a fat, white, grumpy OJ Simpson), then the mood of tense unrest once The Long Wait had begun, I felt better served to stay put and diligently update my Facebook status and imagine fanciful ways to murder the spindly old woman with the croaking baritone voice. Once she crossed over from being simply nosy and annoying to nosy, annoying, angry and self-righteous - and had blatantly stolen a portion of my soul in the process - a variety of colorful scenarios ran through my mind in vivid detail, which took my mind off the need to urinate, if only for a pleasant while. However, not knowing it would be three hours on the tarmac had escalated this crisis to Defcon 4 - Code Yellow.

Once airborne, I waited about twenty minutes before asking the harpy and the long-legged gentleman holding down the aisle seat to excuse me, so I could make my way to the Air-Bathroom. I was spotted en-route by the Potty-Police and asked sternly to return to my seat. I shot the stewardess a withering glance before meekly complying. Shortly afterward, I spied a man from first class emerge from between the Golden Curtains and make his way to the bathroom. I pouted, then raised my hand when the Stewardess came by offering up ear-buds to watch the new, bloated Jay Leno read funny newspaper items for the fifth time in a week. It was a classic ruse to bushwack her with the "if he can go to the bathroom, I should be able to go to the bathroom" argument. She once again reminded me that the seatbelt light was still on and I fired back that this could play hell with my prostate. "And you certainly don't want me to go in my britches," I added. "I have recently eaten asparagus and the resulting biohazard will please no one, I assure you." The skinny harpy and long-legged man nodded. I believe the child in front of me nodded as well, but she was most likely simply mimicking the movements of the others.

"Well, you can get up at your own risk - I certainly can't stop you," she said. I recalled all of the horror stories I had seen on the news about unruly passengers being hog-tied with seat belts and physically restrained by heroic passengers of size and wondered for a moment if I was being baited. "I will take that risk," I said, pleasantly, not wishing to be pistol-whipped by a sky-marshal. "You know," I added. "If you haven't got a healthy prostate, you haven't got anything..." I was referencing "The Princess Bride", but neither the stewardess, the long-legged man, the old biddy or the evil baby caught it - another opportunity to smile lost to apathy. 

An hour later...

I had planned on having a leisurely dinner and cold beverages with Ali during our scheduled three-hour layover in Dallas, but having seen those three hours tortuously devoured by mechanical difficulties, I eagerly awaited the beverage cart. I hadn't eaten since 8:30 that morning in St. Thomas and it was now 9:30pm, St. Thomas time. I could feel myself dwindling away in my seat. "I'll take a Heineken," I said, enthusiastically, when asked. "And a sandwich, please. Turkey, chicken... Whatever - anything but tuna. I hate tuna." "We don't have sandwiches," the stewardess said, a superior smile crossing her lips. She was probably still stinging from the prostate/asparagus argument, I figured. "We have Stackable Lays, cheese, crackers, raisins and mixed nuts." I'm certain she detected the disappointment on my face - I nearly wept. I'm equally certain that she relished it. Meanwhile, the spindly crone was harping away that the pilots should be able to radio ahead and have her flight held at the gate until she arrived. "After all," she said. "It's not my fault that the plane sat on the runway for three hours..." The flight attendant handed me my cheese and crackers and made a swift and hasty getaway. The old lady began her pitch to me, which made no sense at all, because I could do nothing about it and secretly hoped that she missed her flight and had to sleep on the hard dirty floor in a seedy part of the Dallas terminal, near the restrooms.

Having had an assfull of her whining and complaining, I offered up the fact that I was fairly sure that the airline wasn't trying to sabotage her travels. And that perhaps she could give it a rest, so that she could bitch more vigorously once on the ground. That shut her up. Not as efficiently as being beaten to death like a baby seal, as I had earlier imagined, but the momentary silence was a welcome reprieve.Then I tucked into some mixed nuts, which along with the raisins, were included in my cheese and cracker package. Who knew? It greatly reduced the amount of actual cheese and crackers in the package. I am no fan of raisins and generally disdain mixed nuts, but in the dark I tried to convince myself that they were all peanuts. It nearly worked.

Moments later, as I was choking down my imaginary peanuts with the remaining swill in the Heineken can, the old hag opened her carry on bag and produced a savory sandwich, which she nibbled at for the next forty minutes. She smiled and the stewardess smiled. The child in row 22 smiled as well, but again, I think it was more mimicry than anything else. At least I hoped so. I was beginning to get a bit creeped-out by the little hell-spawn.

Crone: 1, Jerry: 0 

To the stewardess: "Scotch on the rocks, please..."

This blog was written long-hand on the back of an itinerary and an envelope while flying on American Airlines flight 544 in the skies over Florida... Or Texas. All events occurred in real-time.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Night At The El Camino - An excerpt from "A Bunny Screaming"

It was New Year’s Eve, 1978 and I had turned 18 that summer. That year I worked at the El Camino Theater in Scottsdale as an usher. It was the last hurrah for the huge, 800 seat movie theaters that sprinkled the Valley, which were already beginning to disappear in favor of the multi-plex, cookie-cutter theaters which are now the industry standard.

My main clam to fame as an usher was to have caught 156 straight M&M’s tossed high in the air of the immense lobby by a pretty cashier from South America named Inez. On the fly. I got a stomach ache and could not tolerate chocolate for three months, but the feat had made me a legend among the other jaded eighteen year-old Red-Coats who tore thousands of tickets a day and had seen much of what movie theater life had to offer.

The El Camino was the sister theater to the Cine’Capri in downtown Phoenix, which had been home to the blockbuster “Star Wars” upon its release in 1976. Lines around the building for every showing of the space epic had made headlines across the nation and the Cine’Capri was no exception. In contrast, the El Camino was a slower-paced environment and the closest we ever came to true blockbuster status was when the original “Superman” came to town and we were host to lines nearly halfway around the building on some showings of the film. We were no Cine’Capri, but neither did they have an usher who could catch 156 M&M’s in a row.

The point here is that we had lots of time on our hands at the El Camino Theater and we found many imaginative ways to kill it—stomp it to death, really. Bigler also worked at the El Camino and together we amassed one of the great collections of hood ornaments of all time, all harvested from the vast parking lot that provided presumably safe sanctuary to the automobiles that carried our valued patrons. Such is life.

On New Year’s Eve, 1978, I approached my father with an odd request.


Father sits at the kitchen table, a can of beer open in front of him, cradling a battered acoustic guitar on his lap, presumably polishing up the “Jerry Looks Like A Monkey” song.

Teen-aged Jerry enters the room, dressed in his red usher jacket, black pants and clip-on bowtie.


(Looks up, a look on his face that screams “What now?!”)
What now, Goddamn it?

(Shifting from foot to foot) I was wondering…

(Impatient, mumbles) God damn it…

I was wondering—since it’s New Year’s Eve and all… And I am eighteen and all—well, I was wondering if you could get me something to drink…

It takes Father a moment to process this information. He’s never known Jerry to take so much as a sip of alcohol. He does not know about the whole home-brew thing.

You mean alcohol?

Jerry shrugs and nods. Father leaps from his seat with the ease and lack of wasted movement that has amazed his son since he was a boy. Father rushes to the liquor cabinet over the oven and retrieves a .75 liter bottle of Bacardi Light Rum.

To his credit, young Jerry is unfamiliar with the contents of his father’s liquor cabinet and accepts the bottle without thought.

Be careful, Boy—that’s the stuff that made the pirates go crazy…

Father gazes at Son with a look on his face that could almost be mistaken for pride as we:


I knew the look—I had known my father for years. The look was not pride at all—it was an expression of glee in anticipation of impending victory. I knew not what victory lay ahead for him—I was young and na├»ve. But my father had been patient and now the day had come. It was like watching his boy going off to training camp. With my first little baby-step, I was embarking on the long and winding Journey To Become My Father. Only I didn’t know it at the time. I simply thought I was getting a free bottle of rum. I didn’t realize that I had just sold my soul.

Inez, the great M&M tosser of the El Camino Theater, was from Venezuela. She was a short, stocky girl with long, black hair and beautiful eyes. Inez was also C.R.A.Z.Y., only once again, I didn’t know it. I have proven to be a poor judge of such things. I thought she was simply a pretty girl with a decent, accurate throwing arm. I was dating a girl at the time, and being the basic overall monogamous individual I was, I hadn’t given Inez more than a passing thought. On New Year’s Eve, 1978, that all changed in dramatic fashion.

The El Camino was seating at a whopping 2% capacity, so I was let off work at 8:00 and chose to sit through a couple of viewings of “The Last Waltz” with Bigler and the demon rum rather than go home. I smuggled the rum into the theater and over the course of the evening, Bigler and I finished most of it. To my uninitiated palate, the stuff tasted like turpentine. But by ten o’clock, it could have been turpentine for all I cared. I was blissfully inebriated—shit-hammered beyond repair—and it was New Year’s By-God Eve at the El Camino.

As Levon Helm belted out his fourth rendition of “Ophelia” of the day, I sat drunk and silent in the comfy padded seat, a stupid grin pasted on my face, losing myself in the simple beauty of the darkness, the big-screen, the movie-theater popcorn and the wonder of Dolby sound. The movie opened with a five second printed recommendation: THIS FILM SHOULD BE PLAYED LOUD. It was. And no one made better use of it than Levon Helm. I was in heaven.

Then I felt a hand on my leg. I prayed to God that it wasn’t Bigler. I glanced to my right and Bigler had a matching stupid, shit-hammered grim and was too busy watching The Band to think about suddenly turning homosexual. A slow, drunken swivel of my head to the left, however, revealed the lovely Inez, in all her Venezuelan splendor, smiling at me, her long, graceful fingers—the same fingers that had tossed me 156 straight M&M’s—stroking the inside of my thigh. “Hi,” I said, ever the gentleman.

Inez leaned over and whispered. “Allo,” she said, her thick Venezuelan accent never more apparent. I forgot about Levon, the popcorn and the Dolby sound—even the rum, for the moment—and rose from my seat. I took Inez’s hand and led her, leaving Bigler to the film and the booze, to the back row of the movie theater, where it was a bit darker and more secluded, if not the least bit quieter.

Inez and I made out for the rest of the night, ensconced in the back row of the El Camino for the remainder of that screening of the “Last Waltz” and well into the next. When we left the theater, midway through Muddy Waters’ rendition of “Mannish Boy”, I noticed that Bigler was gone. He had left and I hadn’t even noticed, so busy was I with the groping of Inez. We made it to my car and I tried my best to close the deal with all drunken adolescent vigor I could muster, but was soundly rebuffed at every turn by the swift Venezuelan hands, which apparently stroked and slapped and tossed candy with equal skill.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Nadia and Sketcher - Part 3 (an excerpt from "Killing Tom")

“What do we need to do,” Jack said, once the two had calmed themselves to a reasonable level. “To have some ‘alone’ time?” Jack was feeling logy and the shock of meeting Nadia’s parasitic twin and the effort of listening to their squabbling had left him drained. He was ready to pass out and before long, sex would cease to be an issue.

Nadia ran a beautiful, thin-fingered alabaster hand through her purse. She pulled out a tiny, bedazzled cowl, not unlike those used for falcons and other birds of prey, only teeny and with sequins. “We need to put this over Sketcher,” she said.

“What the fuck?” Jack said.

“I’m right here, you know – you insensitive bastards,” Sketcher offered up.

The two entire humans ignored him. “He gets aggressive,” Nadia said.


“If we do not put the cover on him, he panics and begins to bite,” Nadia said. “He tries to chew his way out – it’s his only defense…”

“Fucking little savage,” Jack offered. He glanced down at the angry little head. “You realize you look like a tiny little hairless Osmond Brother, don’t you – with that vicious mouthful of little teeth…”

“Fuck you,” Sketcher spat, his little head waving back and forth like a cobra.

Then Nadia slipped the bedazzled cowl over his head despite his protests and Jack proceeded to have one of the most magnificent nights of sex of his entire life.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Nadia and Sketcher - Part II (an excerpt from "Killing Tom")

Jack hailed a cab outside the Brass Ass and Nadia waved at her friends, who giggled on the other side of the big picture window. “They laugh a lot,” Jack mumbled, crawling into the cab. “They must be really happy people…”
Nadia slid in next to him, smoothing her dress against her long legs as she did, which made Jack frown. He would have like to have seen some more thigh. “My friends like to laugh,” Nadia said. “They prefer to smile than to frown.” Her accent drove Jack nuts – her accent and her long polished-alabaster legs.

The cab pulled away and headed away from Wrigleyville and toward Lakeshore Drive and the high-rises that lined the lake. They kissed in the back of the cab and Nadia proved quite adept at sweeping Jack’s hands away from her alabaster thighs and presumably alabaster breasts. He had learned that she was a dancer – ballet and such and not the lowbrow pole-dancer variety – and he assumed that this skill contributed to her keen reflexes. “There is something I need to tell you,” Nadia said.

“What is it darling?” Jack asked, slurring his words as she deflected his wandering palm.

“I have a twin brother,” Nadia said.

“Awesome,” Jack said. “I’m sure he’s a fine fellow.”

Nadia laughed, rebuffing a crotch move. “He’s irascible.”

“Well,” Jack offered. “Some folks are irascible…” Jack ran his hands up Nadia’s thigh and thought for a moment that he heard mumbling from Nadia’s underwear – of course, he was drunk. Nadia deftly parried the maneuver. “It’s not like he lives with you, right?” Jack bit at Nadia’s neck and she pushed him away.

“He does,” she said.

“So?” Jack said. He looked at her face and smiled. “You look like that Russian tennis player – the pretty one…”

“He is always with me,” Nadia said. “My twin, Sketcher.”

“Sketcher?” Jack said. “Like the shoe?”

“Yes,” Nadia said. “Like the shoe.”

The cab pulled up in front of a building on Lakeshore, just north of Diversy. Jack fumbled through his money until Nadia could sort out the proper bills to pay the driver. They walked through the lobby to an elevator. “This place,” she began, her accent begging him to listen. “Used to be a hotel back in the twenties – then it was turned into apartments – little small apartments…”

Jack shrugged, falling even more in love. “Who needs more than a little small apartment, really?”

The elevator door opened and they waited for the door to close. Jack immediately began pawing at the dancer – the ride was only four floors, he had no time to waste. “Is your brother home?”

Nadia laughed. Jack once again thought he heard a voice – he figured it was the old elevator squeaking its way to the top floor. Or the booze. “Yes, he will be there,” she answered. “He is always there…”

The elevator door opened and Nadia led Jack down the hall, he banging into the walls all the way to her room. She opened the apartment and Jack stumbled in and fell into the couch before she even found the lights. “Jack,” Nadia said, her face the picture of solemnity. “I need you to meet Sketcher. It can’t wait any longer…”

Jack smiled dumbly, his eyes at half-mast and rolled his finger in a “get on with it” motion. Nadia stepped closer to him, standing between his spread legs, and began to strip. “Hey, wait a minute – what about your brother?” Jack asked, glancing around the room, half expecting an alabaster assassin to steal around the corner and slice his throat like a cold cut.

“He is here,” she purred, lowering her briefs. Jack stared at Nadia’s hands as she pulled her underwear down, to reveal something that resembled a mammoth penis, only with a face. Jack screamed and Nadia put her hand firmly over his mouth. “You need to shut up,” she said. Jack stopped screaming and nodded, his eyes glued to the little face that waved between the sexy dancer’s legs.

Nadia slowly took her hand away from Jack’s lips. “This is Sketcher.” Jack nodded and felt like throwing up.

The thing looked unearthly. It was like a little human head attached to a small neck – at the girls groin, right around the place where a penis might have grown. It was completely bald and had alluring blue eyes and two small holes where a nose would have been had the head been of normal size, and a small little mouthful of straight white teeth. “Nice to meet you,” the little head/penis-thing said, in an amazingly clear tenor voice.

“Jack,” Jack said. “Pleased to meet you…”

“I don’t shake,” Sketcher said with a chuckle. Jack looked him over. He had no arms or hands.

“This is your brother?” Jack asked Nadia, gesturing at the head.

“This is Sketcher – my brother – yes…”

“How in the fuck does that work?” Jack asked.

“He is a parasitic twin of the rarest form,” Nadia said.

The little head began to bob around and turned red with anger. “I hate when you use that word – I am not a parasite!”

Nadia nodded patiently at her parasitic little brother. “This is a term for a twin that has not been completely absorbed by the host twin – which is me. Sketcher should, by all rights be dead – no more than a third nipple or a sixth toe.” She glared at her lively appendage. “That’s what you are – a sixth toe!”

“I AM NOT A SIXTH TOE!” the little head screamed. Jack was amazed at how aggressive the little neck could thrash the little head around. “It’s my intelligence that got you through high-school, you whore!”

Jack noticed that while Nadia maintained an Eastern European accent, Sketcher sounded like he had been raised on the South side of Chicago. “Hey, hey,” Jack said. “No need to be mean, here…” He had suddenly become the moderator between a sexy, blond dancer and her angry parasitic head/penis twin-thing. It didn’t even seem abnormal and worst of all, Jack still couldn’t wait to have sex with Nadia.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Nadia and Sketcher - Part I - An excerpt from "Killing Tom"

Later, when Jack looked back on the Nadia episode, he realized that he had always been either drunk or medicated when he saw her. This fact always left a lingering doubt on whether the winsome dancer had actually been the physical anomaly that she claimed to be and that he had bore witness to, or if the entire thing had been a product of his excess.

Of course, Jack had been drunk and/or medicated many times and been with many women under those conditions and had never imagined anything like Sketcher before and the little fellow had been so entertaining, so real – the details so vivid – that he had a hard time believing he had been imaginary. “I’m not that interesting,” he told Walter. “I could never make up anything that entertaining.” Walter, who had never seen Sketcher, remained skeptical.

Jack first met Nadia when he and Walter had wandered into a bar not far from Wrigley Field after drinking their way through most of a Cub’s game. The season was young and the two men both had the day off from Temptron. They wandered into the Brass Ass sometime after the sixth inning, but before the game had ended – The Ass still had it on their screen above the bar when they arrived. Jack noticed the table of attractive women by the back window and smiled at them as he and Walter made their way to the bar.

“Did you see those ladies?” Jack asked.

“Don’t even start,” Walter shook his head. The last time Jack had been in a frisky mood, he had gotten them tangled up with the Water Buff and Sylvia the Dominatrix. “You leave them ladies be.”

Jack couldn’t take his eyes off the table of young women, something he was certain they were mostly used to, being young and gorgeous and all. Especially the leggy blond one – she had the look of the Eastern European, lean and angular, with skin like polished alabaster. At least that’s what Jack thought. He wasn’t certain what alabaster was and had no idea if it could be polished. “Hi,” Jack said, once he could pry himself away from the skittish Walter under the pretext of going to the restroom.

“Hello,” the blond said, looking Jack levelly in the eyes. She had an accent that Jack couldn’t place – he assumed it was Eastern European and that his instincts were on the money. Her companions snickered, but Jack hardly cared, He had a snoot-full and was smitten with the cool blond.

“My name is Jack,” he said, offering his hand.

The blond leaned forward and kissed Jack on the lips firmly, then took his hand to shake. “I am Nadia,” she whispered.

“Hi Nadia…” Jack still had her taste on his lips and didn’t want it to ever go away – in fact, he thought, I may never drink again, lest I wash her taste away

Ten minutes later, Jack sidled back up to the bar next to Walter, a drunken, smug smile on his face. Walter appeared not to have noticed he had been gone. “Well?” Jack asked, holding out a folded up bar napkin. “Guess what this is…”

Walter looked over at the napkin, then Jack’s face. It was difficult for him to focus – he was glad they had taken the train into town. “I don’t know…” Walter shrugged. “A tiny little pillow?”

Jack shook his head, the smile still glued on his lips. “Nope. Not a tiny little pillow…” He unfolded the napkin to reveal the beautiful cursive writing. “It’s a nap-i-kin with a pretty girl’s phone number on it…”

“Oh no,” Walter moaned, motioning the bartender for two more shots of Irish Whiskey. “Oh no you don’t…”

“Oh yes,” Jack said. “Oh yes, I do…”

“Well,” Walter reasoned. “I suppose a phone number is okay… At least you’re not trying to drag those women home with us.”

“Certainly not,” Jack said. The bartender arrived with their drinks and despite their inebriation, the two clinked glasses and threw back the shots with military precision. So much for never drinking again, lest he wash her taste away. “I’m going home with her,” Jack continued. “She invited me to come and spend the night!” Jack smiled proudly. His mouth was crooked and his eyes glazed.

“Then what do you need her telephone number for?” Walter asked.

Jack looked down at the napkin, deep in thought. After a moment, he looked his friend sternly in the face. “This is about trust,” he said. “Principle.”

“Okay,” Walter said turning back to face the bartender – that’s where they kept the alcohol.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Jack said, haughtily. “Until then, I expect I will be busy.”

“Watch your wallet,” Walter offered as his friend sauntered into his new adventure.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

7213 E. Fillmore...

So, I'm sitting here in the house I grew up in and it's the first time I've seen it empty in nearly 40 years, since we moved in back in 1974. The old place is looking a little beat up, now that it's empty. I guess I look a little more beat up too, 40 years later, once you strip me down to the bare bones. But like me, the house is still full of personality.

I opened all the windows and doors, which is also the first time this has been done since the Carter administration - the windows in the front living room still had tape on them from Dad sealing them shut back when I was still too young to legally consume alcohol. I always knew he preferred to keep the place all closed up so the cigarette smoke couldn't get out, but I never realized the extent of his obsession.

Three days later... All my stuff got moved in and the first thing I did was assemble my bed. This is necessary and my sole source of comfort for the next few days. All boxes are staged in the front room and I am moving and unloading as I see fit. It is a slow process, because "as I see fit" means glaring at the boxes menacingly, then making absolutely certain the cable is still working by watching some TV.  After a Thursday and Friday spent trying to figure out why I have no hot water or internet and looking for a cheap refrigerator, Saturday comes and I hang a hammock. This is after golf with Taggart and buying a lawnmower from a shady-looking individual at a self-storage facility on the way to the course. I ask the shady lawnmower salesman no questions, and he tells me no lies. This classic exchange costs me $40. I make absolutely certain the hammock works by repeatedly lying in it to nap in the beautiful afternoon after golf. I wander over to the little bar next door and introduce myself over beverages in the afternoon, then wander over to enjoy some good indie music that evening. I glare at the boxes as I pick my way through them on the way to bed.

Sunday comes and I go pick up a refrigerator from a miscreant in a bad neighborhood. It works and I am pleased - especially after cleaning the fridge. Nothing is more pleasing than a clean refrigerator. Except a hammock. So I test the hammock once again to make absolutely certain it is still in good working order. The boxes seem overwhelming, so I watch some more TV and re-test the hammock. I enjoy a scrumptious club sandwich from the little sports bar at the Inn next door and wonder if there is anything else I can do to ignore the boxes more efficiently.

Yes, I think to myself - I'll finish that blog. That will show them.

There is much work and much cleaning to be done. And then there are all those boxes. But all in all, it feels nice to be home again - we shall see how it all shakes out.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Too Far, Jerry - Two Years In: A Hearty Thank You!

After some diligent research, it has been determined that my blog "Too Far, Jerry" has reached its two-year anniversary. I will have a snort of cheap brandy to celebrate the occasion and perhaps tip some stuff over at an outdoor cafe, then intimidate the flamboyant waiter before I sprint nimbly into the passing crowd. That's how I usually celebrate important occasions and this shall be treated no differently.

I wrote my first blog on April 7, 2010 and it was a simple, but entertaining summary of a podcast that I had recorded with Michael Lyon. The podcast has since gone the way of the dodo-bird, the Ford Edsel and Goodwill Toward Man, yet the blog has gone on. And on. While many of the early blogs are no longer available here, the first year and a half of the thing has been published in a volume entitled "When I Am King", published at I made videos of some of the early blogs and intend on making some even better video versions of some of the more entertaining pieces. Having some 500 of them at my disposal now, I am also considering a live presentation of the things, with a slide-show presentation showcasing some of the pictures and such that I have used in the blog, plus many flattering pictures of Raquel Welch to keep everyone awake. Look forward to these performances at theaters, Elk-Lodges, arenas, outdoor festivals, subway stops and strips clubs in your area.

You're welcome.

Looking back at some of the topics I have addressed, I am amazed at all the stuff I have forgotten. There is an entire series of entries detailing my plans to develop a Benjamin Button Traveling Circus, with infants who smoke and drink, several listing my various fears and paranoia and many commenting on news of the day. There are recurring themes (Raquel Welch, my irrational fear of circus clowns and the various doomsday predictions that have become commonplace) and homages to some of my favorite celebrities, such as Jerry Lewis, Rick Springfield, Buster Keaton, Wilt Chamberlain and Jack Bauer.

Buster Keaton - The original planker.

I have written of my various maladies, my love of sports and the changes I would make to benefit the earth and the surrounding universe should I be elected King. I have also been able to run excerpts from my books, though I have not witnessed any noticeable spikes in sales - perhaps there is a lesson here. Through all this, there have been nearly 6000 unique views from 58 different countries, Croatia being the most recent, Saint Kitts and Nevis seeming the most cozy. I know 6000 views is not much for some of the celebrity bloggers and the big shots who have their finger on the pulse of world-wide topicanary (no names mentioned, Yoko Ono), but it seems like a heck of a lot for a grumpy simpleton sitting in Phoenix, waiting for another summer to come and bake his brain just that much more... And I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who has seen fit to click on the blog and give it a read. I hope it's made you laugh. If it's done so even a single time, then I have done my job.

"When I Am King - Reading for the Crapper"

Thanks for reading!

Boiling An Egg - The Skinny

I have chosen, in honor of Easter, to write about boiling eggs, which we all know is a major element in celebrating Jesus rising from the dead, lo those many years ago. We boil eggs, we color them with festive inks and dips, then we hire an extremely intelligent and ambitious rabbit to hide them, so that our kids can search them out then retreat, with an elevated sense of accomplishment, to their teeming baskets of chocolate. What better way to celebrate the divine resurrection of the Son of God than with colorful eggs, an imaginary rabbit and chocolate?

None that I can think of, but I digress.

Just this once, "Boiling An Egg" is not just a clever metaphor for having sex - I am actually addressing the procedures and complicated calculations necessary for dropping an egg into some hot water and its subsequent retrieval for consumption.

I have long been vexed by the inconsistency of the boiled egg - at least the eggs I boil, anyhow. I can boil a half dozen eggs from the same carton, in the same water, for the same amount of time and when the time comes to eat them, I find that some peel as willingly as a stripper at a bachelor party, yet others hang onto their shells like a one-legged Portuguese fisherman clinging to an overturned bay skiff. In a rainstorm in shark-infested waters. Having just seen the movie "Jaws". You get the point.

In a rare turn of events, I have done some research on the matter of the egg-boiling. I had always simply thrown the eggs into some water, set them to boil and turned off the heat ten minutes later, let them cool, tossed them in the fridge and enjoyed their deliciousness. The eggs seemed to cook just fine - if only they would peel uniformly, my life would be complete. Then, I had the misfortune of seeing someone on the television who informed me that there were more delicate intricacies to the egg-boiling, all related to the three basic tenets: boiling, timing and cooling. That was when my life turned into an egg-boiling nightmare.

Hmmm..., I thought. I figured that perhaps following some of these helpful hints might solve the mysterious inconsistency of the peels. I might finally be able to enjoy the delight of an entire carton of stripper-eggs! So, I added salt to the water. And I made certain that there was an inch of water above the eggs and that the water was cool when the eggs were immersed. I was diligent in not boiling the eggs fresh from the store and even let them set out at room temperature before I put them in the pot for their final solution. I turned off the heat once aboil and timed the subsequent cooling of the eggs in the hot water to a precise ten minutes. It was a lot of work for boiling a Goddamned egg, I thought, but then again, if it worked...

I paced in anxious nervousness as the first batch of the scientifically-boiled eggs cooled in the fridge. This is what it must have been like when the scientists who cloned Dolly the Sheep were waiting to see if their Frankenstein sheep would live, I thought. Finally, the test. I pulled the eggs and began peeling the lot of them - I figured that the only way I was going to get any feasible data was if all the variables were as similar as possible, so I had to peel them all at the same time. I had watched enough Mythbusters to know that much. The first six eggs peeled as if I had buttered them on the inside. Yum, I thought. I wonder if that would be possible? Anything was possible in my new scientific cooking world - even pre-buttered boiled eggs. I was giddy with the possibilities.

Then, I hit Egg Number Seven.

As I peeled Number Seven, great chunks of egg-flesh pulled away from the egg, as if I were tearing the egg to pieces with pliers and a screwdriver, instead of my own delicate, finely-tuned, scientific fingers. "NOOOOOO!" I screamed, tears rushing down my cheeks. I was doomed. The experiment had failed. Of course, I fiddled with the numbers - boiled the water longer, then for less time, varying the cooling times, adding such ingredients as vinegar, lard, putty, dirt and feces to the water in hopes of affecting the peel. Nothing worked. It seemed my lot in life was set - I would be forever guessing on whether my eggs would peel in an acceptable fashion. I moved on.

Then, a couple of nights ago, I saw a show about cockfighting - again, not some kind of perverted code, but actual roosters clawing the hell out of each other as chicken-haters cheered and bet on the outcome of the bout. Those are some angry chickens, I thought. Then it struck me: Maybe the easy-peeling eggs came from happy chickens and the shitty ones from angry birds. It sure made sense to me. Would I rather have an egg that was produced by this fowl:

 Happy Chicken - borderline ecstatic.

Or this one:

Pissy Chicken - an egg-peeler's nightmare.

I slept peacefully that night for the first time in months, my scientific mind finally at ease. I now knew that I could have no say in the outcome of the egg-peeling - science for once had no part in the process. It was simple fowlish disposition. I would simply play the egg-hand that was dealt me and accept the fact that regardless of whether or not my egg peeled easily, I would have my ultimate revenge in the end. And that would be enough. I was able to smile again, and it felt good.

The Ultimate Revenge.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

"And here they are - The WEETLES!"

I read in the news last night that Paul McCartney's son James - a 34-year old fledgling musician (albeit, probably one of the richest fledgling musicians ever) - would be hip to the idea of getting together with other Beatle Kids to form "The Beatles - The Next Generation". A fun idea, I thought, but a lousy moniker. And this is where I come in.

The WEETLES! - a colorful portmanteau of "wee" and "Beatles" - just imagine Ed Sullivan announcing, with the big Ed Sullivanian sweep of the Sullivanian arm: "And here they are... THE WEETLES!" It works. The kids could even edit old footage of Ed introducing their dads from the 1964 appearance into own their cute, high-energy debut music video, and just have me dub in "WEETLES" for "BEATLES" in Ed Sullivan-voice, which is an impeccable facsimile of the original.

Anyhow, the ginger-haired James, who resembles a light, pasty, soft version of the elder Macca, has hinted that he has spoken with the other Beatle offspring and that, surprisingly, they are open to the idea as well. Mostly. Apparently, they have not seen James perform. Nothing against the lad, but I saw him perform on the David Letterman Show and he had nowhere near the charisma, charm or buoyancy of his Beatle-Dad. I imagine that there might have been some nerves involved and what with being McCartney's kid and having to live up to all that buoyancy might be a bit unnerving, but I don't believe I ever saw him crack a devilish McCartney grin the entire time. He didn't even tap his foot and nod his head like his papa while he sang, which led me to believe he must have gotten his stage charisma from his mom's side of the family, which consisted of mostly a long line of lawyers. Enough said. His voice is very high and lovely.

McCartney Father and Son, both reacting to excellent news.

“I’d be up for it,” the 34-year-old McCartney told the BBC. “Sean seemed to be into it, Dhani seemed to be into it.” Sean being Sean Lennon, the surly, pampered son of John Lennon and Dhani the diminutive offspring of George Harrison. Apparently the only holdout in this Plan Of Plans is Zak Starkey (you guessed it - Ringo's kid) - a renowned drummer in his own right, having beat the tubs for The Who and Oasis, among others. He could probably tell, with that uncanny sixth sense that really good drummers seem to possess, that this could be an embarrassing cluster-fuck and he wanted no part of it. McCartney then added that perhaps Jason Starkey (Ringo's other kid - presumably not as astute as his older brother) might be able to fill in. To hell with that, I say - just ask Ringo to do it. Ringo will play with anyone - I heard back in the 80's that Ringo was such a publicity-hungry media whore that he would attend the opening of an envelope. This is probably an exaggeration. Of course, I may be biased since the day Ringo announced haughtily that he would no longer be giving out autographs, thank you. In my opinion, it is safer to simply stop giving them out altogether, without the announcement. That way, you only seem to be an asshole to one person at a time, or perhaps a small group of people clamoring for your autograph, Beatlemania style, rather than appearing to be an asshole to everyone on the planet with one click of the "send" button.

But I digress - I'm certain Ringo is actually a swell chap. And he is  oneheckofa drummer.

Ringo addressing an autograph seeker and Zak showing his excitement over the Weetles.

Dhani Harrison, from all I can gather, is a pretty cool kid. He has a fine mix of his father's acerbic wit, an intelligent outlook and a certain calm inner-peace that comes from the delightful combination of being raised by a man who was spiritually in tune and never having to have worked at a Burger King. Why he would want to subject himself to the scrutiny, judgement and inevitable comparison to the greatest band on earth, I have no idea. Even if the music was decent, it would be compared to "Hey Jude", "Penny Lane" and "Strawberry Fields Forever". And Paul McCartney in the audience will always get a bigger ovation than the sprats onstage. Just sayin'. They might be better served to hire a bunch of crackerjack musicians and an orchestra and put on costumes and be one of those Beatles tribute bands that play the casinos. Except the program would read: "James McCartney as Paul McCartney, Dhani Harrison as George Harrison, Sean (or Julian) Lennon as John Lennon and Zak (or Jason) as Ringo!" You just went from casinos to stadia - you're welcome.

The Harrisons and their glee at playing stadiums over casinos.

The Lennon situation is a quandary. Though Li'l Macca says Sean is willing, I have a difficult time believing his buy-in. He won't even play with his brother, right? He's a broody little fella, too, from what I can tell - he seems pretty self-important and I can't imagine him listening to Dhani's suggestion that his idea for a bassoon solo is absurd without serving up a shit-storm. Just my take on it - I imagine Sean Lennon is another swell cat. He was probably raised by a very nice nanny who taught him manners and respect.

The Lennons, each wondering how in the hell they put up with Yoko full-time.

That said, it might be easier to talk Julian into taking the gig - he seems easy going like the other guys and would probably appreciate the paycheck, since Sean's caterwauling harpy of a mother gypped him out of his share of Papa Lennon's estate. He could inject little, subtle Yoko jibes into the performances, like singing "Hey Shrew" in the background when J-Mac sings "Hey Jude" - that would show her.

Julian - "I'm in."

Speaking of Yoko - regardless of my personal feelings about her, I think she would probably be a great manager for the act. Let's face it, the manipulating harridan has always had her finger on the pulse of the entertainment world, certainly as no other since, say... Brian Epstein. Only Yoko had the foresight to suggest a popular musical icon and voice of a generation take a full-frontal, unflattering nude picture of himself and his full-frontal, unflattering mistress to use as an album cover (picture not shown here - keep moving). Genius - the man lost a legion of fans and the Beatles lost much of their credibility immediately. That's moving the needle kids - if that kind of power could be harnessed and used for good, who knows, The Weetles could bigger than, dare I say it? The Beatles.