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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Husky Exercise Fashion - The Skinny

I saw the bicycle-riding equivalent of the man at left today on my way home from work, only wearing an undersized, aerodynamic bicycle helmet as well. We were both sitting at a traffic light in the Arizona heat - me sweating in my non-air-conditioned car, he sweating, red-faced and huffing and puffing atop a racing bicycle, waiting for the light to change.

I glanced out my passenger-side window - which was lowered to create maximum 106-degree air-flow - and visibly flinched. This man's ass was engulfing what I presumed was a seat on his European-style racing bike like it was a tasty ass-bon-bon and the state-of-the-art, lightweight, NASA-approved racing-yellow frame of the contraption looked as if it were about to collapse under the weight of this behemoth. I can only wonder what kind of space-age materials and wondrous math calculations devised the razor-thin racing tires that still appeared to hold air under the strain.

It was a hideous sight.

I mean, God bless the man for trying to get a workout in - heaven knows every Goliathan crank of the pedals equaled, conversely, the exact amount of exercise that I was not getting - but for the love of Pete, man, cover that shit up. As a husky fellow myself, I will tell you right now that the only way you could ever talk me into shoehorning myself into a skin-hugging, log-adorned spandex body suit would be if it was fire-retardant and the only material this side of a spacesuit that might possibly save my life as I was marched to the mouth of a live volcano for my reckoning. In fact, given my choice, I would most likely opt for the not-so-flattering spacesuit as I plunged into the bubbling magma.

The man glanced over at me at the light and nodded. I nodded back. "Afternoon," I said. "Hi," he wheezed. "So," I began, gesturing at his costume. "No second thoughts on that one?"

"What do you mean?" he gasped.

"The outfit - the spandex. At some point you figured that was a good idea - really?"

"What do you mean?" he repeated. I began to think he was having a heat stroke. Perhaps had already had some - that might explain his uniform - maybe his decision-making abilities had been compromised.

The light turned green. "I mean, Godspeed, good fellow..." I waved and hit the gas. The oppressive air began to swirl around me. I shook my head and tried my best to clear the vision from my mind, even as his little helmet bobbed in my rear view mirror and the bicycle resumed its own journey to an eventual, possibly fatal, catastrophic breakdown.

I wondered what possible reasoning in what twisted alternative universe by what insane clown posse could have persuaded this man to don this outfit and climb aboard a racing bicycle and venture out onto the public thoroughfare. There is not a physicist on the face of the earth that could possibly convince me that wearing spandex is going to make one sweaty stitch of difference when trying to propel 300 pounds of blubber down the street on a bicycle. First of all, there is no possible way that Mr. Arbuckle is going to generate enough speed to create drag - no way. Secondly, even if drag were a remote possibility, what kind of land-speed record is Speed Racer trying to break that he needs to concern himself with such trifles as spandex.

The only other possibilities might include a man-crush on Lance Armstrong or a passive-aggressive cry for negative attention. Either way, I decided I was not a fan. There are only a few things of which I am certain: Mustard, consciously or not was made for hot dogs, any action has an equal and opposite reaction and I am allergic to Sulfa. Other than that, everything is up for debate. Except this. We big people should not wear spandex. Not under any circumstances. A nice running suit or even some shorts and a baggy t-shirt are suitable alternatives that will not offend passersby, who have every right to walk, trot or drive down the street without seeing 300 pounds of jiggling spandex plodding down the street. It's only fair. There are all sorts of workout wear out there perfectly capable of allowing all of us to exercise in comfort, so let's re-think the skin-tight thing, for the good of all. Lives could be saved and the world might reclaim a tiny little piece of its eroding sanity.

Common sense is key here - dress for comfort and in the sportswear that will allow for maximum movement. And do not under any circumstances dress in front of a circus mirror - they lie.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Goody and Henry McHenry Get Kidnapped - an excerpt from "The Goody Phelps Papers"

Goody lay bound on the floor of Desdemona’s “office”, a small second bedroom where she kept stacks of books about witchcraft and other nefarious branches of the dark side. He had read the spines of most of the books he could see and now concentrated his efforts on waking the deeply slumbering Henry McHenry. The guitarist lay on his side, his hands also bound behind his back. McHenry did not seem to care; he snored peacefully, his body content with the lack of movement and circulation. “Henry,” Goody said, softly enough not to arouse Desdemona.

She and Ted, the ex-incubus, had retired to the second bedroom after tying Goody’s hands behind his back and closing the door as they left. Goody assumed that they were hammering out the final details of the double kidnapping. He wondered where in the hell he was going to get five million dollars. Good God, Goody thought, even if they settle for half—where in the hell would he come up with two and a half million dollars. He was certain that Desdemona would end up shooting he and McHenry. She was not a stable woman—and Goody was now convinced that the evil was stored up in the hairy mole. Even if she was not a witch, that mole could be home to nothing but malignancy and rot.

McHenry stirred and stopped snoring. “Henry,” Goody stage-whispered. “Wake up!”

McHenry turned his head and grimaced when he tried to follow with his body. “Bloody fuckin’ hell,” he muttered, opening his gummy eyes. “What the fuck…” The guitarist’s eyes scanned the room, eventually coming to land on Goody and he began to struggle against his bonds. “Sweet Jesus,” he cried out. “What kind of shit is this?”

“We’ve been kidnapped,” Goody said. “We’ve been kidnapped, tied up and stored in a spare room—a room filled with volumes of malignancy and propaganda from the Netherworld.”

McHenry gamely struggled against the bonds for a few minutes, grunting and panting and eventually working himself into a good sweat. “Good God,” he gasped. “It must have been a demon that tied these knots…” He rolled onto his back, which looked horribly uncomfortable to Goody, who remained on his side. “My head is dancing the God-damned Conga,” Henry whispered, his voice harsh and tired. “And my mouth tastes like somebody shit in it…”

The door opened and Ted came in, smiling. “Good morning, kids,” he said. “I heard ll the rustling and figured you must be up and about…” He turned to McHenry. “Hi! I’m Ted—what was it like to play with McCartney?”

“For fuck’s sakes, you crazy bastard,” Henry spat. “Untie my fucking hands!”

Goody had remained still on his side, watching the hallway for signs of the crazy Witch-Woman. “Where’s Desdemona,” he asked.

“She’ll be along shortly,” Ted said. He spoke to Henry McHenry. “I’ll untie you if you promise not to try anything stupid.” He paused for a reaction—there was none. “Now listen to me,” the ex-incubus spoke in a low voice. This caught McHenry’s attention; he stopped writhing on the floor. “I’m trying very hard to get you two out of here in one piece—do you understand me?” Henry nodded. “Now then—Desdemona’s got her heart set on this whole kidnapping thing. Don’t ask me why—it doesn’t make a fucking bit of sense to me…So anyhow, I think I’ve got her talked into a reasonable amount of money.”

“Go on,” Goody said.

“But she’s crazy,” Ted said. “If there’s an outburst from you two, she’s liable to come unglued and kill everybody—maybe even me.” He shrugged. “Crazy bitch.”

“Just what in the fuck are you talking about?” Henry McHenry was subdued and bewildered. “What fuckin’ money?”

“Can you get any Beatle cash?” Ted smiled at Henry.

“Not fuckin’ likely,” McHenry said. “Just as likely to shit a block of gold out of my arse…”

“Just asking,” Ted said, turning his attention back to Goody. “Can you come up with fifty thousand dollars?”

“Why fifty thousand dollars?” Goody asked.

“Now you’re picky?” Ted shook his head. “Because I convinced Desdemona that she could relocate and get a good toehold in Northern California for fifty K…”

“Is the crazy bitch going to kill us?” McHenry rolled onto his side with a grimace.

“I don’t think so,” Ted said. “Not if you pay her off and promise not to turn her in…” Both men nodded. “But I’ll tell you one thing—if she smells the slightest insincerity, she’ll start shooting, you got me?”

“Yes,” Goody said.

“Write her a fucking check,” Henry McHenry said. “You’re the rich writer—get us the fuck out of here…” He turned his head to Ted. “Untie my fuckin’ hands, will ya?”

“I’ll untie your hands,” Ted said. “But I’m telling you…”

Henry nodded. “I know, I know—I’ll be a fuckin’ angel—just untie my hands before the fuckers fall off!”

Ted bent and untied the guitarist’s hands. “Good Christ,” McHenry said. “You must have been a sailor…”

Ted untied Goody’s hands and the two men stood. Goody picked up his hat from the desk. “Do you think you can come up with the money?” Ted asked.

“I’ll try,” Goody shrugged. “I think so—I don’t know…”

“Well, it’s time to negotiate with Desdemona,” Ted said, leading the two men out of the bedroom.

“My head feels like a bag of shit,” Henry said, rubbing his temples as he followed Ted into the living room. Desdemona sat in a chair in a black negligee, pistol in hand. “Christ on a bike,” Henry said. “Look at the tits on you!”

Desdemona was not amused. “Sit down.”

Goody and Henry sat on the couch, across the coffee table from Desdemona. “No offense, Darlin’,” Henry said. “But that’s quite a pair of fun-bags you’re packin’”

“Why don’t we get started,” Ted spoke before Desdemona could shoot the Irishman.

“Good idea,” said the Witch. “Has Ted told you about my compromise?”

Goody nodded, wishing for the thousandth time in the past months that he had never laid eyes on Desdemona, the Witch. “Yes, he did.” Goody said. “That’s fine—I’ll come up with the money, but you’ll have to let us go.”

“I don’t think so,” Desdemona said. “Can’t you make calls from here and get the money?”

“You’ve got to be kidding,” Goody said. “I don’t even remember the name of my bank…I have to go home and get the information.”

“Out of the question,” she said. “And that was too easy—maybe I should make you get me more money…”

Ted shook his head. “Des—stick to your plan. He doesn’t even know if he’s got fifty thousand. But at least it’s a reasonable amount for him to try to come up with…”

Desdemona frowned. “We’ll all go to your house.”

“It’s an apartment,” Goody said. “A little one-bedroom apartment that I bought years ago—when I had some money…”

“It’s a dirty fucker,” Henry added. “He certainly doesn’t have a maid…”

“Henry…” Goody shook his head.

“That’s it then,” Desdemona said, rising from the chair. Her breasts swayed as she walked over and leaned into Goody’s face. Henry’s eyes grew wide as he stared at her pendulous bosom. “I’m going to go get dressed and we’ll go—but if you try anything funny, I swear to God, I’ll shoot you where you stand.”

Desdemona walked down the hall. “I think she’s serious,” Ted said.

“I think she’s seriously stacked,” Henry added.

Goody lived but four blocks from Desdemona, so the four of them walked to Goody’s two-flat, with Henry McHenry voicing complaints the entire way. His head still hurt and if he didn’t find a toothbrush or eat some fruit his mouth was going to turn black and his tongue was going to fall out. “That would be a blessing,” Goody said. The wind howled and they turned their collars up to protect themselves against the cold.

“Fuckin’ cold town,” McHenry muttered. “Sucks the life right out of ya…”

No one spoke as they reached Goody’s building. Henry whistled. “Nice fuckin’ car—McCartney must’ve tracked me down.”

Ted was the only one to glance at the Jaguar parked against the opposite curb. He nodded his agreement. “Definitely a Beatle-mobile.”

Goody fished the keys from his pocket just as a gust of wind caught the brim of his had and swept it from his head. He dropped the keys and grabbed for it, but it carried up and away, quickly out of his reach. Henry jumped as the hat flew by, but he also was too late. “Hey,” Goody yelled, starting after the hat.

“Fuck the hat,” Desdemona said.

Goody stopped in his tracks. She had the gun in her pocket and Goody knew it was trained on his spine. If she shot him and he lived, at the very least he would be crippled and wheelchair bound, so that the Roving Cancer could feast on the lower half of his body. He watched the hat soar over the rooftops. “Yeah,” he said, hair whipping into his face. “Fuck the hat.”

Ahhhhh, sweet celebrity...

This is a pretty good picture of Randy Travis, the country western superstar - he looks a little sinister, but it is not a bad photograph. Looks like hi-def. The bad news is that it is a mugshot; the good news is that it appears as if police departments are beginning to upgrade their photographic equipment. This mugshot is from February, when Randy Travis was arrested for sitting in his car in a parking lot with an open bottle of wine on the seat. He reportedly smelled of alcohol.

Rather benign and probably quickly forgotten. Mistakes happen, after all, so no harm, no foul.

That changed earlier this week when Randy Travis was arrested again for drunk driving. Ironically, in neither instance was Travis actually pulled over while driving drunk. The first time, he was simply sitting in his car. This week, however, things got a bit more exciting.

A call was placed to 911 in Grayson County, Texas by a motorist shortly after 11pm Tuesday night, informing law enforcement that a man was lying in the road, either injured or asleep. The caller also politely informed the police dispatcher that the man appeared to be "shirtless". "Shirtless" turned out to be "buck-naked" and the man lying in the road turned out to be Randy Travis, who was inebriated and had ran his car into several construction barricades in the road and subsequently climbed out of the wrecked vehicle and lay down on the pavement for a little nap.

When rousted, Travis, who apparently once again smelled strongly of alcohol, threatened to shoot the policemen and was summarily transported to jail, where he was lent a shirt and again photographed for legal posterity. As facts began to trickle in, it was discovered that Travis had also wandered into a local convenience store to buy a pack of cigarettes. Also buck-naked. When asked how he was going to pay for the butts, since he was holding no money in his hands and had no pockets, Travis left the store, sans smokes.

He was released the next day in a blue paper suit supplied by the county, which should one day be on display at the Country Music Hall of Fame, along with George Jones' lawnmower and Jake Owen's sombrero.

Of course, this is not the first time a celebrity has been arrested for driving drunk. In fact, the one and only Rick Springfield was popped last year for speeding drunk through Malibu in his vintage Corvette. I don't know about you, but if I'm driving through Malibu in a vintage Corvette, I'm going to do it fast... Unfortunately, he was also inebriated. I'm nearly certain that Rick Springfield was less upset by the arrest than by being referred to as a "one-hit wonder" in every article written about the incident. Reporters can be cruel.

Famously, Nick Nolte was pulled over along the same stretch of freeway and had this legendary photograph taken by police. Also drunk.


Glen Campbell had a similarly disheveled photo taken several years back and chose to growl at the camera when asked to smile. Then again, Campbell has always been a maverick. Especially when drunk.

The first thought that always comes to mind when these incidents crop up is "why in the hell are these folks driving?" These are not middle-class construction workers having a couple too many after work; we're talking about rich celebrities who should by all rights be able to afford a cab. Or a towncar, or a limousine to drive them around, naked or clothed, when they want to get their drink on.

I think that celebrities probably get away with lots of stuff, but driving drunk is where the powers that be draw the line. If Rick Springfield had been driving through Malibu in the middle of the night with the top down in his vintage 'Vette, blasting "Don't Talk to Strangers" at full volume, he could have probably gotten away with a stern warning and a splashy autograph written on the back of the officer's ticket-book. Nolte might have growled his way out of arrest if he hadn't been drunk and grooving out of his mind on Ecstasy. Glen Campbell should have just had a driver. Period - look at that angry face - FIRE - BAAAAD!

Of course, back in the old days Frank Sinatra could get away with anything - he was the "Chairman of the Board" and leader of the Rat Pack. He owned Vegas - if he wanted to burn Sin City to the ground, the Mayor would have probably handed him a match. However, pre-Rat Pack, back when he was just a young, pencil-thin crooner, Frank was hauled in to the poky for seducing to his bed a young lady with far-fetched promises of marriage. But at least he wasn't driving drunk...
Charges were dropped when it was learned the young lady was already married.

Those were the days...

Friday, August 10, 2012

Facebook - The Skinny

Here is why I like the Facebook: Who gives a shit?

Seriously, I think the site is awesome and even more suitable as a "fast-food snack" for writing than even this silly blog, which has eaten months of valuable writing time which could have been better utilized to finish a book or two here or there. It's much easier for me to come here and write a one-page treatice on farting than to figure out how the next plot turn is going to affect the main character's arc - and should I kill the leading lady (SPOILER ALERT: uh, yes). So imagine. if you will, how enticing the world of the Facebook post is for someone like me, who likes to hit and run and get on with my life. I am amazed, however, at the laziness of some of the folks who post on the site.

I have some simple, easy-to-follow rules when it comes to posting on the social network that might assist the helpless when it comes to crafting an interesting post:
  • Feel free to write about the fact that you're having breakfast. That said, there had better be a comment on the quality of the food that your are preparing/ingesting.
    • The possibility of food poisoning is always a nice addition - eating expired food, or that which has been prepared in a questionable or haphazard manner will only add color to your post.
    • Explosive diarrhea or projectile vomiting as a result of the meal is world-class, followed closely by uncontrollable gas and the unfortunate fate of the innocent passersby.
  • The possibility (or inevitability) of fire, explosion or any other natural disaster will make any post more interesting.
    • If this is of your own instigation, purposeful or not, it will only add to the drama.
  • Photos of cats - even with captions, are not interesting. Mildly cute at best, I would avoid these like the plague.
    • Same with babies. Fuck baby pictures.
      • Dogs, too. Fuck dog pictures.
  • As a rule, no one cares where you are, so there is no need to post an update of your location. Unless it involves some sordid back story of which others might have knowledge or may have suspected.
    • If the food is good and the drinks cold, please tell others where you are - this is a public service.
    • If there are cute, drunken ladies of questionable moral fiber going absolutely nuts someplace, feel free to share this information as well - also a public service.
      • That said, use some kind of code like "the waters are flush with trout". This will eliminate the weak of mind and the non-fishermen. Depending on your location, this will eliminate the avid fishermen as well, because they will recognize the area, know immediately that there is no trout and consider you an idiot. Good for the rest of us, who can decipher such rich coded messages.
  • If you want to comment on someone else's post, make it interesting.
    • If someone posts an ordinary event, without involving fire, explosion or natural disaster, feel free to turn it into a filthy sexual innuendo.
      • For instance, if a post reads, "It's a lovely morning - the sunrise makes me smile", take the opportunity to write "how was it - get any on you?"
        • "How was it - get any on you" can be used on almost any post, if you need a quick go-to.
          • So is "Yeah, you did..."
  • If you feel the need to "Share" someone else's cute photo of a cat, or a witty saying that you had nothing to do with composing, make it your own, by adding your own comment in the "Share".
    • For instance: "How was it - get any on you?"
I hope this humble list if helpful hints is useful as you troll the foul waters of the social network. Hopefully, your pond with be flush with trout and you don't get any on you. Yeah, you did.
Please note, this document is suitable for framing.

Cars don't kill people, road rage kills people...

There has been an alarming trend of killing in the US, with gunmen armed with powerful automatic weapons opening fire on innocent, unsuspecting citizenry. I don't like it one bit and for one am all for placing restrictions on firearms. I keep reading that the pro-NRA folks are up in arms (so to speak) about this, considering it a direct affront to their right to bear arms. Guns don't kill people, people kill people, they say. I heartily disagree, proposing that we put some sort of limit on the caliber of firearms that are available to the non-military public. Arm the police to the teeth and restrict the NRA folks to non-assault weapon firepower, I say. Let's give the law-enforcement folks a leg up for a change - it might calm everyone down a bit. Let the deer hunter have his rifle and the bird-guy his shotgun, but for Chrissakes, let's keep the assault weapons out of the hands of the common folk - it can never end well if we allow access to such artillery to the Average Joe. You cannot possibly convince me that Andy Jones needs an automatic weapon firing special armor-piercing ammo to hunt down Bambi and shoot her dead. He should be able to do that with a regular, Nick Barkley-style 30.30, or a bow and arrow, or he should turn in his orange vest, hand-warmers and deer-piss spritz. To say that we common citizenry need to be armed with assault rifles is like saying we need to use snow shovels to eat our ice cream. Enough already...

That's just my opinion, but not why I'm writing today.

The car is a deadly weapon. We have managed to transform the automobile from a simple mode of transportation into a mobile ecosystem. It is a climate-controlled, leather-upholstered, window-tinted wonderland with stereo systems and satellite radio and movie players and cup holders and phone chargers. It's like taking a living room on the road. And I believe that this just might become a problem.

It begins with the cell-phone. I am coming around to a line of thinking that all things evil now begin with the cell-phone. And it starts with texting while driving. I have personally witnessed - in one week - two drivers drive into the back of other cars because they were texting and not watching what was going on around them, which is apparently a necessity if you don't want to drive into the back of other cars. I see motorists veering from their lanes, drive slow in the fast lane of the freeway and sit through a green-light right in front of my horn-honking, expletive-spewing ass.

This luxurious driving dome that we have created has also taken away our decorum. When I was young, if someone was gracious enough to let me pull out in front of them or gave me room to merge (neither of which happens much anymore, it seems), it was common courtesy to throw up a hearty "thank you" wave. If the weather was suitable and the window was down, it was done with arm out the window for even a heartier effect.

All that seems to be gone now, and if you take the time to let another vehicle pull out of a parking lot, these entitled pricks are invariably too busy talking on their phone to acknowledge your polite action and just as inevitably proceed to slow down your own progress by swerving, braking and driving slow while talking or texting. Bastards.

Enter, road rage.

I think that most road rage incidents can probably be traced back to the cell-phone. Someone using their phone while driving has usually either been oblivious to the world around them or inadvertently set off another motorist by doing something stupid and road rage ensues. It begins with honking and cursing and then escalates to beating another motorist's car with a three iron, a la Jack Nicholson, or simply running the offender off the road into a ditch, where he belongs. At least one can drive away after running a cell-phoner off the road safe in knowledge that they have a way to call Triple-A.

This is just another reason that we need to install cell-phone jammers in all vehicles. It may not take us back to Mayberry - where there is comfort, there will always be rage (this is my new motto - I don't even know what it means...), but it might go a long way in easing our anxiety and our rage when behind the wheel and when I am King, this will be the way of the land.

Remember to vote Jerry Ford for King in the upcoming election. If you don't see my name on the ballot, write it in and use a Sharpie.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The DJ - What's the Point?

I am of the firm and unshakable belief that karaoke and the DJ are twisting their dull, rusted knives into the tender underbelly of the once-proud world of live music.

Case in point: Yesterday, being a Saturday, I wandered into the local watering hole, which in addition to ice-cold beverages aplenty, offers up a fine selection of live music nightly. I planted myself on a stool and ordered one of the ice-cold beverages over the din of jangly rock and roll that was playing over the sound system. I glanced at the stage and saw a young fellow who looked like the guy from The Black Crowes - you know, the one that was married to Goldie Hawn's daughter - slouched over a couple of laptop computers behind a makeshift wall of translucent plastic. I leaned forward and asked the bartender, "What gives?" He shrugged and said "DJ..."

I nodded and sat back, taking this information in. The DJ held a set of headphones to his ear briefly, then went back to his slouching. I leaned forward and called the bartender over again. "A DJ?" I asked. "On a Saturday night?" He nodded. I nodded back and took a sip of my beer. The DJ had started a new song and was now checking his telephone. The bartender, possibly sensing that I would be needing him again, had not moved. I leaned forward. "Can't you do that on your computer, or the jukebox?" I asked, pointing a thumb over my shoulder toward the sound booth, where all the music gear was. "Yes," the bartender nodded. I nodded, too. "So," I pondered aloud. "Why have that guy up there with all his gizmos - why not just hook up an iPod or something if there's no band?" The bartender laughed. "People really enjoy the DJs," he said. I watched a while longer and tried to decide if the DJ looked more like Chris Robinson or George Harrison, from around the time of the "All Things Must Pass" album.

George Harrison and Chris Robinson - tough call.

"Excuse me for a moment," I said and made my way to the front door, where the young, hip doorman with whom I also had a passing acquaintance was stationed. "Hey man," he said, greeting me in a young, hip manner. "What gives with the DJ?" I once again hitched a thumb over my shoulder toward the stage, where Chrisrobinsongeorgeharrison was currently bobbing his head in time with whatever he was listening to in the single headphone he was holding. The timing was different, however, than the music blaring through his speakers, so he looked retarded. The doorman shrugged. "People really like the DJs," he confirmed. I glanced at the bar, where both of the other patrons were engrossed in their telephones. "I can tell," I said. "Do you think the DJ looks more like George Harrison or the guy from The Black Crowes?" I asked. "Black Crowes guy," the doorman answered. We nodded and I walked back to my beverage. 

"So, no live music at all tonight?" I asked the bartender. He shook his head. "Nope, just a bunch of DJs..." "What???" I said, motioning for another beer. "There's more than one - it takes more than one to do this?" He shrugged. "They take turns..." "Why?" I asked. "Do they get tired or something?" Again the shrug. "Folks like it when they take turns..."

I sulked and sipped my beer. Here it was, a perfectly good Saturday night and I was sitting in a live music venue watching a guy play music from his laptop. A violent black and white movie played silently in the background and I watched that for awhile, then turned back to the bartender. "Do you think the DJ looks more like George Harrison or the guy from the Black Crowes?" "Definitely George Harrison," the bartender said. I nodded. "From the 'All Things Must Pass' album, right?" "Exactly," he said. 

I watched for another song or two, which as it turned out was plenty, finished my beer and wandered back across the alley, which as good fortune would have it, was where my house was. I sat on the floor and watched some of "Mars Attacks" with my daughter, who is eighteen. "Do you like DJs?" I asked. She shrugged. "Would you rather listen to live music or to a DJ?" I clarified. "Live music any day," she said. Slim Whitman's yodeling was making martiens' heads explode in their space helmets. "Yeah, me too..."

It occurred to me then that on any given evening, one could probably find a good half-dozen places to enjoy a DJ or sing karaoke, but that listening to a live band would be a rare thing indeed. I sighed. I completely understand that the place across the alley has to do what it can to bring folks through the door and that twenty nights out of the month, they put on live music shows, usually with three or four bands per night. This is becoming a rarity and the fact that they stubbornly persist in staging music events is nothing more than The Lord's Work, in my humble opinion. But the fact that they even have to consider the DJ makes my heart just a little heavy. We can only pray that live music doesn't go the way of the rotary telephone.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Antisocialism - Lesson #1: Avoiding Contact

As anyone who knows me well can attest, I am a world-class antisocialist. I am painfully shy and use my winning smile and natural charisma to act as a buffer between those with whom I am forced to interact and my churning inner-discomfort. I am invariably anxious when meeting new people and avoid this whenever possible, often opting to pretend interest in plants or hanging artwork rather than interact with fellow party-goers or event-attendees.

I have saved many plant-lives by hand-pruning dying leaves while avoiding interaction and this makes me feel better as a person, which is a sort of validation for my shrinking-violet ways. In an odd twist of universal serendipity, it is my long-suffering misfortune that strangers will pick me out at random for conversation, or worse, to voice their opinion on topics for which I rarely have interest and seldom have knowledge. This being the case, I have become a sort of Jedi-Master at the Art of Avoidance, using many schools of technique to slip, parry or block interpersonal contact.

So, imagine my delight when I stumbled upon an article entitled "How to Keep Strangers From Sitting Next To You : A Study". I clicked on the link and got out my notepad, preparing to jot down any new techniques that may have been invented of which I had no knowledge.

This from the article: "Some of the tips for avoiding your fellow travelers are dictated by physical postures, such as avoiding eye contact, staring out the window with a blank stare or simply pretending to be asleep. While others are more overtly antisocial, like placing your bag on the empty seat next to you, listening to your iPod, or even lying and saying the seat next to has already been taken." I sighed. Amateurs, I mumbled to myself. Rank amateurs... I have done all the above many times while sitting on a barstool in a dark tavern, or at a little league game - there was nothing for me to learn here.

So I decided it might be better if I took this opportunity to teach instead of learn. I will now bestow on you my top-five secret tips for Antisocialism in a Public Venue:
  1.  Mutter to yourself. When forced into a social situation (I usually beg off whenever possible, using a variety of stomach-virus-related maladies, which gives me the flexibility to select vomit, feces, aches or fever as an unpredictable variable that most sound-minded hosts or hostesses would prefer to avoid), I have found that staging a constant inner-dialogue will create a field of space from 4-6 feet around my area that others will not breach. A solid strategy, though others will speak of you with derision or concern, thus ironically drawing attention to yourself while forcing those around you to keep their distance. I have found that repeating "I hate being white people" in a low monotone while crinkling my brow is particularly effective.
  2. Appear unclean. Whether it is a wrinkled wardrobe, strategically-placed food-stain or splotch of dirt on your clothing, or a smear of used motor oil on your throat or cheek, the suggestion of filth will invariably force others to turn away as you approach. While it is not certain whether this is a fear of an accompanying odor (see #3) or simply an aversion to things unclean, this is a steady go-to in a pinch.
  3. Harbor a foul odor. Nothing is as effective as skunk spray for keeping others away, but finding a skunk to instigate is difficult work if the skunk are not indigenous to your area. That said, if given enough notice, one can cultivate a hearty stink by abstaining from the shower and toothbrush. Working in a little sweat in the heat of the day and drinking cheap brandy will increase the foulness if time is not a luxury. If you smoke cigarettes, or better yet, low-end cigars, do this in an enclosed space, like a coat-closet or a refrigerator box. This will do the trick.
  4. In emergency situations, evacuate your bladder or bowels. I must stress that this particular measure is only to be considered in the event of the most dire of emergencies. Pulling this antisocial ripcord will affect not only your reputation and ongoing status as a human being, but also the rest of your evening. Remember that you will need to find your way home one way or the other and the time between evacuation and the ensuing cleanup could be some time and it will inevitably be uncomfortable. If you are planning to be in a situation where this option would even be a remote consideration, it may be best if you attend packing heat.
  5. Only given the option of life or death should the following be employed: ALL OF THE ABOVE. Granted, while setting into motion option #4, options #2 and #3 will immediately be live. Again, some pre-work on the part of filth and stink will only enhance the effectiveness of this extreme measure. Once you have evacuated, start mumbling. This is certain to clear out all in attendance. Be forewarned, however, that employing this method may eventually bring law-enforcement into play, with the possibility of arrest, incarceration and a brief stay in the mental ward a distinct possibility. Or so I've heard.
I sincerely hope that this little tutorial helps you over whatever anxious feelings you might have about playing with others. It never hurts to have a couple of options in your pocket and I am pleased to assist.

Please note that this document is suitable for framing.

Friday, August 3, 2012

My Tattoo

I must admit that I am no fan of the ink. I wouldn't dream of actually getting a tattoo on any part of my body, especially no part that was visible to the viewer - the viewer being passersby, bathhouse companions or fellow nudism enthusiasts. It seems that nearly everyone else on the planet nowadays feels the need to use their body as some sort of personal billboard, etching their beliefs, philosophies and whimsies on their bodies for all to see, just in case passersby do not have the time to chat about them one-on-one.

First of all, I cannot read Chinese, so the little symbols simply look like some kids gave up on a game of tic-tac-toe on the back of your neck while you were passed out drunk. And how do you know that those symbols mean what the artist says they mean? What you think says "life is beauty" may actually read "I'm an asshole. A drunk asshole". Don't trust Chinese symbols unless you have actually studied Chinese or your tattoo artist is a certified Buddhist monk sworn to a prankless life, and even then check his papers and be wary.

I don't really need to learn about your life via the tattoo. If I really want to know about you, I assure you, I will ask. If I don't ask, then assume I don't want to know - pretty simple math. To force the love of your life's name on me in  elaborate two-inch script on your hairy arm is presumptuous. Especially on a bus or in line at the pharmacy. That's assuming I can pick out the name from the mural of color and swirl that you might have surrounding it. I don't understand the sleeve-thing and give it a hearty "no" for my own delicate arms, especially the hibiscus part.

Um - no, no and no, thank you...

And I don't need to be frightened by your ink. I know it's a new world and all, but can you really expect to win out in that big job opportunity at the ad agency with a facial tattoo? Even if you answered all the questions with panache, wit and intelligence, the person doing the interview would most likely be focused on the carnival-like spectacle that is taking place on your witty, intelligent mug. Besides, it makes the children cry.

Don't make children cry.

All that said, I think that if I were to have a tattoo drawn on my person, it would either be humorous or useful. No way would I want it to reflect any tastes or beliefs I might be harboring at the moment - the drunken moment - that I get inked. These change daily. Case in point, if I had gotten a tattoo in 1984, it might have had a likeness of Boy George, whom I had seen on MTV one evening and observed "that chick's kind of cute..." And I would have regretted it ever since.

I "dated" a girl once who had a stick-figure pushing a lawnmower through her pubes, which I thought was hysterical. It sent me into a laughing fit and very nearly put me off my mission. Nearly. I thought this was quite unique and entertaining, but the fact that I was able to find an image of it on the internet to illustrate makes me re-think the uniqueness of the piece.

Unique and entertaining

So, I guess I would forgo the funny tat. Which brings me to the useful tattoo...

I have an recurring itch on my back, just out of reach of both my arms, beneath my right shoulder blade. If I do not have a handy back-scratcher thing at hand, I am forced to rub against doorjambs or street signs like a bear to scratch the itch. If I ask someone else to scratch it for me, it is difficult for me to point out where the itch is (if I could do so, I would most likely be able to scratch it on my own) and my verbal direction invariably proves woefully inadequate. So a brilliant and useful tattoo would be a "SCRATCH HERE", perhaps with a little arrow pointing to a bulls eye. This would also be unique, because I could not find an image of it on the world-wide-web, not even a poor artist's rendering.

Then, if my itch acted up, I could simply pull up the back of my shirt and say "could you scratch my back, please?" If I got "Where?" for an answer, I would promptly move to the next person, since this imbecile would probably fuck it up anyhow. I could have it printed in Spanish, since my wife is from Mexico: "Cero Aqui", but that probably would come back to bite me, given my track record with marriage. Best to stick with English - keep it simple.

So, bottom line - if you've got the urge to ink up, don't scare the children, be judicious with your beliefs and don't force your life story on me. Trust me, it will work out better for everyone.

Uh, yeah... Just don't do it.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

My Greatest Olympic Hero

I have a new Olympic hero. It’s not Michael Phelps, regardless of his 19 medals, nor is it longtime idol Muhammad Ali, who as a young Cassius Clay struck gold in 1960 and became the dominant, most world-renowned heavyweight fighter of the next twenty years. It’s not the Dream Team, the iconic track and field stars Carl Lewis or Jesse Owens, who turned his nose up at the Nazis. Not even Mary Lou Retton, that delightful pixie, or the stern-faced, but somehow alluring Nadia Comaneci can usurp my newest, most-favoritist hero.

His name is Logan Campbell. He is from New Zealand and is in London participating in the Olympics in the taekwondo competition. It matters not to me if he places for a medal, or that I am relatively uncertain how taekwondo even works. All I know is that I idolize the man so much that I named one of my daughters after him.

Okay, not really – she was born in 1993, when Campbell was just seven years old and probably just slipping into his first taekwondo dobok. But the point is, I certainly would have named one of my daughters – hell, probably both of them – after Logan Campell given the chance, had I been aware of him, such is my adoration of the young man.

And here’s why: Overwhelmed with the expense of financing his Olympic training (he had incurred massive expenses four years ago when he competed and was looking at another $200,000.00 to go this time around), Logan Campbell opened a brothel to raise funds for his training and subsequent trip to the Olympic games.

And why, you may ask, does this make him heroic? Well, it might not necessarily make him heroic in the strictest of traditional terms, but it does make him an AWESOME GENIUS and for that he deserves some heroic stature, I would think. Especially since he can also kick everybody’s ass, which heroes are well-known to do.

 Logan Campbell – Olympic Competitor, Brothel Owner, AWESOME GENIUS, Hero

Let me begin by saying that I have never been to a brothel, nor have I ever purchased sex – aside from paying for overpriced dinners, sitting through bad movies or listening to inane conversation that has taken years, if not decades off my life – but I would like to think that I am a big fan. The idea of brothels in general is a masterstroke and as long as everyone in the place is there of their own volition – employees and patrons alike – I declare “Godspeed, brothels!”

Apparently, in New Zealand, brothels are legal, which gives me a much higher regard for the Kiwis than I had previously thought possible. I would stop just short of calling New Zealand heroic, however, as they are simply legalizing something that just makes good sense and probably as a country can kick no other country’s ass as a rule. Perhaps Malta, if they were willing to travel that far just to kick somebody’s ass. Or The Marshall Islands, which are used to getting their collective atoll ass kicked by nuclear testing and acting as a bloody wrestling mat when the Japanese needed a whupping by the Allies in World War II. In fact, the Kiwis could probably just write a stern note and consider the ass of The Republic of the Marshall Islands good and thoroughly kicked.

Artist's Rendering of the Ass-Kicking of the Marshall Islands

But I digress – back to our hero…

Logan Campbell is an AWESOME GENIUS for opening a brothel for the following reasons:

• Reason 1: I don’t believe that it is possible for a brothel not to make money. Usually, the prime factor in the success of any physical business is “Location, location, location”. But as The Bunny Ranch can attest, people will hop into a car, sometimes while inebriated, slew-eyed from staring into a video Keno game that had them up a thousand dollars, only to take it back and then some, and drive for an hour to go pay exorbitant rates for sex that would have proved disappointing, had they even been able to generate even a semblance of a laughable, pathetic erection. At least that’s what I’ve heard… Brothel = Moneymaker.

• Reason 2: Auditioning the ladies to work in your shop would provide excellent conditioning. I have never subscribed to the theory that a fighter must abstain from sex in order to be effective in the ring. Hell, look at Mike Tyson – apparently he was having sex with tons of ladies, whether they wanted to or not, and was destroying people in the ring at the same time. Coincidence? I think not. If one would rather take the high road and not sleep with the help, then simply act as the bouncer instead – also excellent training and somewhat heroic to boot. And hire me to audition the horizontal staff – I could use some conditioning. Auditioning hookers for your brothel = Excellent conditioning training.

• Reason 3: Opening a brothel to pay for your Olympic expenses will have people writing about you around the world, some going so far as to proclaim you an AWESOME GENIUS, if not a hero. Even if the Olympic Committee disapproves (which they apparently did) and you sold off your interest in the brothel once your goal had been met (a questionable business move that makes me second guess the fiscal savvy of the Kiwis), you will forever be canonized as a hero – at least in this man’s book. Opening brothel to gather capital to go kick Olympic taekwondo ass = Heroic Genius

And please understand, once I am elected King, brothels will be legalized across the land, and several will be conveniently placed within hailing distance of my palace. After all, regardless of the enterprise, one must still consider “Location, location, location”.

Remember to vote Jerry Ford for King in the upcoming elections; there will brothels in every town, cell-phone jamming devices in every car and a strict moratorium on annoying local radio commercials.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

"4329789, that's 4329789...4329789 - once again, that's 4329789..."

I love sports radio as much as anyone. I like to listen to the talking heads wax eloquent about the big sports, the little sports, the stories of the day and the latest skinny on trades, arrests and saucy rumors. I also enjoy listening to a ballgame on the radio while I write or allow Spider Solitaire to ruin my evening. I don't even care what sport it is, except hockey or soccer - I hate listening to those sports nearly as much as I hate watching them on television.

Unfortunately, in spite of my love of the sports and the chit-chat, I've become obsessed with the commercials. The ads, which seem to be the same hour after hour, day after day, grow more obnoxious with each airing and it is beginning to put me off my sports radio.

I understand the need to get the name of the product being shilled out there in front of the consumer. And the website. And the phone number, I suppose. The big, successful national companies do not give out their phone numbers or website information. Simply not necessary - everyone knows where and how to find Burger King or Motel 6. And since this is so, all these companies do is create engaging, creative commercials - or at least commercials that are not obnoxious. And I have no truck with these advertisers - they don't want to annoy me and I will in turn sample their wares.

But the local businesses who advertise have not seen fit to follow this successful, innocuous paradigm - instead, they have somehow stumbled onto the single-most irritating template for advertising ever ejaculated onto the airwaves. For some reason, all of the local advertisers seem to think that the most effective way to rake in those consumer dollars is to blurt out their phone numbers as many times as they can during the course of their 30-second spot. Twenty seconds is spent hawking the product, the other ten firehosing the phone number as many times as humanly possible. Awesome. I would give you an example, but I cannot recall the name of a single company using this template, even though I hear their commercials daily, sometimes five or six times per hour when listening to the radio.

I can, however, recall that Dos Equis is the beer that the most interesting man in the world drinks, when he chooses to drink beer, which is rarely. That's effective advertising.

The Most Interesting Man In The World

"That number is 4239789, that's 4329789 - once again, that's 4329789. 4329789..." REALLY? My obsession with this incessant ad-tag borders on violent. I can handle one reading of the phone number, followed by a single repeat, if completely necessary and there is absolutely nothing more interesting about your company that can take its place. However, once I sense that the third and possibly even more repetitions of the number are forthcoming, the rest of the commercial is invariably drowned out by a loud and desperate guttural scream of "JEEEEESUS CHRIIIIIIST!" and the entire ad is immediately stricken from my memory banks.

What this means for advertisers is that the effect of the commercials not only do NOT bring me to their businesses, it actually drives me away, causing negative business rather than positive. Conversely, I have bought Dos XX more than once, even though I find the product inferior to my beloved Bud Light. Sometimes I just like to feel interesting.

In fact, it is lucky that I do not know how to procure explosives and am too lazy to do so even if did know how. Because I guarantee that I would be taping sticks of high-grade dynamite to my radio with a short fuse and would sit with a match in my hand just waiting for these bastards to start with the phone number machine gun fire. This would undoubtedly end poorly.

Artist's rendering of disastrous destruction of my radio via explosives

I sincerely hope that my obsession with this advertising drivel doesn't bring the eventual ruin of my enthusiasm for sports radio. That said, this sadistic form of air pollution has become the aural equivalent of driving red-hot gutter spikes through both my ears with twin ball-peen hammers. I don't know how much more I can take - I am teetering on the verge of a violent fit. The radio sits in close proximity to my golf clubs, any one of which could easily inflict fatal damage on the device with very little joyous effort. I may be radioless soon, which I suppose will solve the problem once and for all.

Understand, when I am King, these advertisements will be banned from all the land, with a suggestion to fellow rulers around the world to do the same. Advertisers who insist on attempting to sneak these commercials into the radio slipstream will be promptly and viciously punished to the fullest extent of the law. And as King, I will ensure that these punishments will be effective and extreme - most likely enlisting the use of an iron maiden or similar, equally painful torture device from the middle ages.

Golf clubs aside, there are many methods at hand with which I can destroy my radio, should these commercials push me over the precipice. But if anyone has any high-grade dynamite on hand, just in case, please contact me via email or secure phone line.