skot AT izzlepfaff DOT com
Tuesday, 16 November
A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Food Bank
So: I put in notice at work, where I have resided and bumbled for the last eleven years. I must note right away that the people I work with--those good folks who have for over a couple decades steadfastly refused to cure cancer out of fear of having to become janitors or depilators or lizard handlers--had nothing to do with the decision. They are all nice people, except for the ethnic ones, whom I fear and avoid.
Truth is, I just burned out. Spend a decade anywhere, doing [job that isn't necessarily your super-dream and I guess that's going to happen. Around six months ago, the Wife was all like "You need to get the fuck out of there, because you're bringing it home." I couldn't disagree. Well, I could, if I felt like being an obstinate asshole, but I didn't, because I was too depressed. So I just sat there like a cornered marmot and nodded my head woefully.
So the decision was made, and I'm out of there as of year's end. ("The decision was made . . . " who doesn't love the passive voice?) Although that's sort of not true: I have enough accumulated vacation time to bail on the Jesusmas-New Year's week, so my last functional office day will be December 23. I'll get paid for all that time to hang out at home and relentlessly yank it at bonkotopia.com! 'Tis the season!
After that, when remorseless January hits . . . well, I don't fucking know at all. Does your lawn need mowing? Leaves raked? Browser configured to the bonkotopia home page? Let me know! I'll probably need the cash.
What I can't help you with is help on the whole cancer thing. You're on your own with that one. Because I'm out.
Monday, 08 November
Some of you have been nice enough to inquire as to whether or not I'm okay. I am okay, and I fully plan on ROARING BACK like a . . . roaring thing, not unlike a jungle cat or a Texan. Frankly, this year has been a huge pile of shit on pretty much all fronts (to the extent that a huge pile of shit can make crafty tactical maneuvers), and it's been a little demoralizing and a lot making-Skot-not-feel-like-doing-much-ish.
So I'm sorry for the terrible lapse in failing to provide you with puerile rips on movies I have not yet seen and the dearth of stories about the places I have peed on in my storied history. THIS SHALL BE RECTIFIED! For all my snideness, I thank you for your kindness in inquiring after me.
Soon, my pretties. *pets ugly white cat* Soon, I will destroy civilization. Wait, is that camera on? I meant to say, "Soon, I'll stop being such a putz." Get lost, cat! The shit I say when you're around!
Monday, 21 June
Is The Sun Out Yet? Yes? You Should Go Somewhere Dark.
Well, here we are at the beginning of summer, and the hot summer movies are coming at your face like a pack of hungry coyotes! Let's take a look at what's in the offing and how terrible they will be sight unseen! As always, I have never seen any of these things, nor do I intend to (which is a complete lie, since I will probably watch them all some starless, bible-black night when nothing else is on cable).
Knight and Day
With a title that inspired, it's got to be good! See, why doesn't everyone in Hollywood be this creative? If only "Cagney and Lacey" were titled "Frilly and Lacey" they could have squeezed out a few more decades of television's favorite lesbian cop team. Kramer Versus Kramer could have been so much more had they called it Kramer Versus Krammer, a tense actioner pitting Dustin Hoffman, a reluctant dominant, against Meryl Streep, the woman who is simply tired of being relentlessly fisted every damn night.
I frankly don't know why I'm not writing for Hollywood.
Anyway, this noxious thing pairs up Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz in some sort of doubtlessly ludicrous caper film; I'm guessing that at some point Diaz dances in her underwear and Tom "Tom (TM)" Cruise shoots several dozen ethnically-something goons while Diaz screams girlishly and then dances in her underwear again. The film also features Peter Sarsgaard, a fine actor who apparently only wishes to appear in dreadful garbage, and Paul Dano, who probably fruitlessly wished that, like the first half of Little Miss Sunshine, he didn't have to say anything.
"Saturday Night Live" has been an American institution for decades now. We watched through thick and thin, and we made a lot of these people a lot of money. We sat through the great--John Belushi, Eddie Murphy when he was genuinely hilarious--the middling--Tim Kazurinsky, you were intermittently grin-worthy!--and, well, the rest. Let us not speak of Victoria Jackson.
So what do we get in return? Vicious dick-twisting like this fucking thing. Adam Sandler! David Spade! Rob Schneider! I ask you, Christians: what part of God's plan do these guys fit into? The same part that includes fleas and mange and back hair? Eat hot shit, SNL.
Maximizing the cruelty, the cast also features Kevin James--hey, he's pretty fat! That's funny. Certainly funnier than Chris Farley, because that guy died, which was pretty weak. And there's Chris Rock--who is funny, when he's not squandering his talent, which is apparently now always. And then there's just the weird, like Salma Hayek, Maria Bello and Steve Buscemi. Then again, I guess even these guys have comedy backgrounds: Hayek's eyebrows in Frida were good for an extended laugh; Bello famously cradled Bill Macy's junk onscreen; and Buscemi was in Con Air. So maybe I'm shortchanging them on the comedy front.
Excerpted from an IMDB user review: "One or two sections were flat and a few too many fart-jokes" NO WAY.
The Last Airbender
Nobody could have predicted that after the very fine and atmospheric ghost story The Sixth Sense that M. Night Shyamalan would move to an extended series of knee-slapping comedies such as Unbreakable, Signs, The Village, Lady in the Water, and, perhaps his pinnacle as a comedic filmmaker, The Happening. (If you didn't laugh at Marky Mark attempting to reason with murderous trees, I simply don't know what to say to you.)
This auteur's career arc has been nothing less than breathtaking, and the idea of him welding his unique slapstick sensibilities to tiny little headshaven kung-fu masters who--evidently--bend air is really the ne plus ultra of what the film medium is capable of. What is next for Mr. Shyamalan? I'm guessing porn. It's really the last frontier for him. I even have a script for him. It's called She Sucks, and it's the chillingly hilarious story of a vampiric porn star (Christy Canyon, out of retirement!) who has to give blowjobs to exist. (Haley Joel Osment won't stop calling me asking about the status of this project.) Gary Cole has already signed on as the bumbling vampire hunter/former fluffer.
Isn't it adorable watching other studios attempt to compete with Pixar? It's sort of like watching second graders doggedly following their older brothers to sandlot baseball games, except Pixar is patient enough not to scream, "Jesus, would you fuck off? You don't even have a mitt, you little bastard!"
Despicable Me might or might not be a good film, but when the ads for it prominently feature a fart gun . . . well . . . yeah. But hey, that's the sort of thing we all want to see in 3D! (Incidentally, I'm not sure I'm ready to experience Kristen Wiig in 3D, even in animated form. That woman freaks me the fuck out.) Extra stunt/cred casting points for Julie Andrews and nerdstorm sensation Jemaine Clement.
OH FUCK YEAH. This is going to be utterly terrible. I can't wait!
Look at that fucking cast! It's Ed Wood-level insane! Adrien Brody! Topher Grace! DANNY FUCKING TREJO! (Hurrah!) Laurence Fishburne! Walton "The Shield is Justified" Goggins! AND Mahershalalhashbaz Ali! (I have no idea who that is, but man alive, that is a name and a half.)
*doubles over, plants hands on knees, breathes deeply for a while*
I wonder if my friend Warren knows this is coming. Warren is a deeply disturbed individual who routinely advances the screamingly insane argument that Predator 2 is one of the finest action movies ever created. Warren is also a big martial arts fan and practitioner, which means that he regualarly enjoys being savagely beaten by close friends, so make of that what you will. I have any number of friends that have really dubious film tastes. My friend Erik insists that Sly Stallone's Cliffhanger is nothing short of brilliant, an assertion that generally leaves me in weak-kneed tears. On the other hand, physician, heal thyself: I really, really enjoy anything that dumblord Uwe Boll releases under the demented aegis of German government funding.
It's summer! Do you feel stupider yet? Wait.
Monday, 24 May
He'd kneel in his pew and say, "It's just work, all that matters is work."
I've been thinking lately about work. Mostly about how I don't fucking feel like doing at it any more.
Let's look at this empirically. And by "empirically" I of course mean "ridiculously." I mean, seriously, look at all the words that rhyme with "work." Jerk. Murk. Shirk. Lurk. Clerk. Quirk. Smirk. Do any of these words conjure up positive images for you? Don't even get me started on "glurk," which is not a real word, but I choose to think of as something gutterally spoken aloud when prematurely ejaculating. "GLURK! Oh, no, I've ruined your snap-front blouse!" (My hypotheticals tend to be oddly specific.)
"Work" also rhymes with "perk," which might seem to wreck my premise, but as someone who works in the same building as actual statisticians, I will simply throw it out of the dataset as a weird outlier. Similarly, it too rhymes with "Kirk"--the name of the best man at my wedding--but Kirk is being held at The Hague on charges regarding genocide. It also rhymes with "Turk," and not to malign the good people of Turkey, but it's well known by schoolchildren everywhere that the country was named after a spectacularly dumb bird that frequently drowns in the rain.
So, work. Having comprehensively demonstrated above, it blows dead dogs. Therefore, I suggest we stop doing it. I can cite examples of how this can work. Europeans, for example, do not work. Even the hairiest-pitted ogres stand around all 32-hour week doing nothing but getting head, and then they get nineteen weeks of vacation where thy get head all the time at the beach. (See figure 12.*) By contrast, the Japanese work like they are all under the lash, and what do they get out of the bargain? Tentacle porn and noodles. See what work gets you? No blowjobs but lots of natto. Does this sound like a good deal?
Join with me and chant mindlessly! NO MORE WORK! NO MORE WORK! LET'S BURN KIRK!
Ugh, man, carry on without me; I'm wiped out. Gotta get up early tomorrow for . . . yeah.
*Figure 12 does not actually exist.
Monday, 10 May
Last week was our seventh anniversary, and in order to properly celebrate the dismal slog that has been our marriage, the wife and I decided to travel to Yakima, where we spent the entire joyless time playing golf, and when exhausted by our efforts, watched golf on television.
Not really. I mean, not about Yakima; we did go there, voluntarily. We went there because Yakima is surrounded by approximately nine million wineries, and it was our intent to pillage them all. Seriously, fuck golf. Golf courses should be stormed by right-thinking people who happen to own assault rifles. Anyway, we didn't do that either, as we are a shiftless couple who probably wouldn't be bothered to climb out of bed without the allure of free (or cheap) wine tastings.
The ride over to Yakima was . . . well, it sucked. Driving over the pass, I was subjected to twenty-yard visibility in the driving rain; I white-knuckled it for miles as insane assholes in SUVs screamed by me doing at least 80, throwing up rooster-tails of road spray at me. I hope they all drove up the ass of some fucking semi and died screaming in their fiery cockmobiles. I thought once I cleared the pass I was in the clear, but no: soon after our descent, I was greeted by risible signs advertising "very strong crosswinds," but they turned out to be no joke. Certain sections of the freeway--particularly where there was no hill cover, which was everywhere--meant that I struggled to keep the car from becoming airborne. It was like being buffeted by Hell's own flatulence. However, my superb automotive skills and our Plymouth's natural surefootedness prevented us from becoming a meteorite.
Eventually, we reached our hotel--a suite, actually, with, like a kitchen and stuff--generically named something like the Bonestone or Feathernerf or Eyebrow Suites or whatever. I don't really care, as long as the sheets aren't encrusted with an unreasonable amount of filth, and the Eyebrow Suites did not disappoint: I've seen much worse filth. I immediately turned on ESPN, which has been scientifically proven to allow the average traveler to ignore ambient filth, as the average ESPN commentator has been shown to be far more repellent than an encrustation of dried semen.
We went out to dinner the first night. We selected---I selected--a Mexican restaurant. Wineries attract a significant amount of migrant labor, so I reasoned, hey, they won't tolerate shitty Mexican food! Right?
The wallpaper loudly argued with the surrounding artwork; the former featured weird frilly grandma touches; the latter included at least one haunting painting of a clown. I imagined John Wayne Gacy tucking into some woeful mole before enthusiastically slaughtering a few teenagers. The wife mercifully ordered some reasonably edible burritos, but I made the colossal blunder of trying out the place's Cubist interpretation of chile Colorado.
It was like no chile Colorado I have ever seen. Nor tasted. Nor spat out in utter revulsion. To begin with, to put it not very delicately, it looked like a loose bowel movement on a plate. Have you ever seen a chile Colorado that had absolutely no relation to the color red? I have. It haunts my dreams. In the new remake of "Nightmare on Elm Street," this is what Freddy serves to his victims. Buried in its depths, mysteriously, were quartered tomatoes, left whole, as if to mock their previously healthy red life. It was like a recipe served up by William Burke. On the other hand, nobody that Burke killed, to my knowledge, was coated with slimy onions and served with refried beans topped with gumpaste cheddar. I could be wrong.
Happily, this inedible meal was the only one to be had on our trip. As an example, our next night at the Eyebrow, we went to the Fuddruckerish establishment happily located right in our parking lot, "Bob's Burgers & Brews." Lacking only half a convertible (and Hans Moleman) sticking out of a wall, Bob's did not falsely advertise. They had burgers (massive, discus-sized burgers) and brews (bladder-straining 24-ounce brews). Fortunately, they also had a 21-and-over lounge which insulated us one afternoon from a howling, blood-drenched pack of little leaguers who clawed each other savagely in the waiting area. Compared to the feculent chile Colorado previously described, it was relative heaven. BOB! Truly, your bathmat-sized burgers are indeed digestible, assuming you are not a corpse! And if you are in fact dead, then please know, revenant, that your loyal employees continue to reliably fill your shakers with seasoned salt after your demise.
And then we went on to visit thousands (read: half a dozen) wineries, all of whom are apparently contractually obligated to own gigantic, intimidating dogs. I have no problem with this, as evidenced by the two cases of wine currently being drunk at a breakneck pace by our humble household. DOGS! Go bite those assholes who drive like maniacs over the pass! BOB! Rouse yourself from your grave and go give that Mexican restaurant shit for serving inedible chile Colorado! WINE! Ah . . . sit there placidly and wait for us to decapitate you and drink your essence.
All is well.
Tuesday, 13 April
I Prejudge Movies: It's Been A While
Oh, boy, it's springtime! You know what that means! It's right before the summer movie blockbuster season where the studios quickly offload their awful second-rate fodder to the masses! It's the most wonderful time of the year, and there's no better time for another round of I Prejudge Movies, where I review movies that I have not seen and probably have no intention of seeing! Hooray? Let's see what swill is about to be dished out to YOU! The unfortunate audience!
Tired of comic book superhero movies yet? I hope not! Because here comes Kick-Ass, based on the comic by the ridiculous hack Mark Millar, a comic book author noted mostly for stepping in to destroy established, decent franchises. But maybe I'm being too harsh. Maybe everyone but me really is excited about a movie adaptation of a rock-dumb comic book in which allegedly endearing smart-ass kids (and it's about time Hollywood paid attention to this long-neglected demographic) sass and beat the shit out of dimwit adults. It'll be like Home Alone, only with poorly-constructed hero costumes and no Daniel Stern mugging. Which I think is what everyone has been clamoring for. BONUS POINTS: features one Mr. Stu 'Large' Riley as "Huge Goon." I expect Mr. Riley to be as tremendously winning and large as he was as a bouncer in The Adventures of Pluto Nash, another movie that I have never seen and would not watch at gunpoint, and neither did you, nor would you.
In summary, parents with kids of a certain age, I'm sorry in advance. I recommend bringing a flask.
Death at a Funeral
SUGGESTED VARIETY HEADLINE: "Death at the Box Office." Variety editors: call me!
I like the electrifying tagline listed on IMDB for this . . . object: "This is one sad family." Does this make you want to actually see the movie, even in context? Or does it make you want to sit on the couch and eat Pringles? How about if I told you that the director is Neil LaBute, whose best and only comedy to date was the eye-popping, jaw-dropping, face-mopping spectacle The Wicker Man, a movie so unhinged that when we watched it, all our doors and cabinets fell down? Then we were attacked by angry bees, so we lit ourselves on fire.
This seems to happen a lot when we try to watch LaBute's clumsy, misanthropic hairballs. Except for Possession, which was actually genuinely hilarious. (That's a joke. Literally nobody on earth watched Possession, including the reviewers who wrote reviews about it. They didn't see it. They went into the bathroom and jerked off into their popcorn. Nobody who was unfamiliar with the book could give a shit, and everyone who actually read that terrible book already felt punished enough. It's the first movie ever made that nobody watched, even the cast and crew, who spent red carpet night doing whippets and playing Cranium. The projectionist came closest to watching it as he dolefully sat in the empty theater, but he quickly and mercifully had a massive stroke and died.)
The Back-Up Plan
Hey, did you know that Jennifer Lopez has a prominent, attractive ass? ROLL CREDITS!
Seriously, this could be the most efficient rom-com in recent history. Anonymous white guy falls in love with spicy Latina scat star; J-Lo's underwear comically falls off; someone pitches forward into some sort of cake, dip, or bowl of mustard; wedding! Then anonymous white guy aggressively fists J-Lo while a soulful Elbow song plays. Hollywood directors: call me!
Iron Man 2
This doesn't really properly fit here on this list, as it will definitely be a blockbuster and will make a shit-ton of money. And why not? The first one was certainly a very nice surprise thanks to some awesome casting and a pleasingly light touch. Hell, it opened the door for even more superhero movie roles for Robert Downey Jr,. as evidenced by the recent Sherlock Holmes, in which he played a two-fisted brilliant detective/pugilist/opiate enthusiast/indestructible person.
This movie looks to continue the fun casting choices. It must have been excruciating for the studio execs to finally hit on the plan of casting Scarlett Johansson as the superspy Black Widow, and even more reluctantly squeezing her in black leather and dying her hair red. Even worse must have been when the original Terrence "Rhodey" Howard reportedly asked for ownership of the moon to reprise his role, and the studio balked.
"What are you gonna do, get Don Cheadle? AW HAW HAW!"
(Ten minutes later)
"Good news, everyone! We got Don Cheadle."
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Everyone bitches about about George Lucas--and for good reason--for taking a beloved trilogy (not perfect, mind you--fucking Ewoks) and so utterly crushing it, so relentlessly cashing in on it, so demolishing a legacy that you'd think he'd torched an orphanage. And he deserves all of it.
As does the astoundingly talentless Michael Bay, who has never created anything good in his life. I mean, I don't know. Maybe I'm wrong. Perhaps he's a really talented whittler whose house is filled with whimsical little wooden boats. Maybe once he furtively fingered a nun and gave her brief illicit joy. But somehow I doubt it. I suspect he actually spends his downtime at home twisting the heads off of dolls.
And here he comes again, making yet another nihilistic remake of a classic horror film that 1. didn't ever require a remake, and 2. was plenty nihilistic in the first place. But no, we're about to be treated to an "amped-up" microwave version of the goofily fun original, which will likely be poorly lit, filled to brimming with jump cuts and laden with pointless CGI shots of people's weird teeth.
If there is anything to take cheer in this blight of a project, it's that Bay managed to convince Jackie Earle Haley to play Freddy; he is almost always terrific. Not that his (no doubt) effective portrayal of Freddy is likely to hold a candle to his harrowing performance in Little Children, a non-horror film that makes most conventional horror films feel like Heidi.
It has come to this: Michael Bay must be stopped. Preferably murdered in his sleep by a Bill Cosbyish besweatered, horrifically burned psychopath. We must organize. We must convince Dokken to get the band back together. Yes. We must summon the Dream Warriors. (Dokken: call me!)
Wednesday, 31 March
Searching For Answers
Some of you may have been wondering where I've been keeping myself. Well, the truth is, I've been doing hard research. Hanging out at Yahoo! Answers, I've been tracking trends among question topics, and the findings are . . . well, they're strange. Y!A has recently seen an uptick in questions regarding zombies, monkeys, pirates and extreme violence. My initial thesis so far: Obama's presidency has unleashed an outbreak of insanity on society. Also, zombies. What follows are representative examples of these trends.
Zombie Temp Has No Brains
So since the zombie apocalypse hit, I've been having problems with our most recently hired temp Theresa. I'm the IT guy in our office, and I'm a little stumped as to what to do. Theresa has moved from being a pretty steady data entry gal into being a gurgling zombie who shouts for BRAINS! and has taken to hitting and shaking her monitor and eating her surrounding cubemates. I mean, she really beats the hell out of those monitors. Is this going to invalidate the warranties? They're Dells and I'm in Wichita if it makes any difference. Thanks!
Helper Monkey NOT HELPING
Long shot, probably. Does anyone have any experience with helper monkeys? I'm a quadriplegic, and I rely on my little guy to help me out with everyday tasks like steaming the couch cushions, grooming my proud golden beard and light typing. Lately, though, Carl has started to SEND BANANAS IMMEDIATELY TO BARRY SCHULTZ, C/O CARL, 187 BEARDO PLACE, WICHITA, KANSAS 67276 and it's starting to drive me nuts. I've tried having close relatives beat him savagely, but it always just ends up with bared fangs and hurt feelings. Any ideas appreciated.
Last week on the ESPN show "Pardon The Interruption," zombie Tony Kornheiser ate the face of his co-host Michael Wilbon. As Wilbon screamed haplessly and flapped his arms comically while Kornheiser devoured the flesh from his skull, I idly wondered if Michael Wilbon was considered kosher. I am not Jewish, so I'm pretty ignorant of the details. It is, however, my understanding that Michael Wilbon is part hyrax, which complicates matters somewhat. Anyone? Wikipedia is unclear, except for the hyrax part.
That's what I screamed when a crocodile ate both of my hands. (Don't ask.) A pirate by trade, I find myself having to consider new job avenues now that I have hooks for hands. I've recently begun performing massage therapy, and my clients seem to appreciate the deep pressure I'm able to apply with the rounded backsides of my iron hooks. Now here's the issues. I tore one guy up pretty good when my mind wandered and I forgot to invert my hooks; I'm now being convicted of manslaughter. Like I needed that. The other complication is that every now and then I've inadvertently killed several back-spasming faeries with the touch of my cold iron hooks. There's a whole stack of them in the basement, and it's beginning to be awkward explaining the gently glowing pile of dead mythological creatures to my wife. Have any hook-handed ex-pirate masseurs experienced similar issues?
So! Last month I was visiting Wichita and I went to a bar (don't remember the name . . . I think there was an ampersand in it) and was served an incredible cocktail and I can't find it anywhere else! It's killing me! I remember that the bartender called it Pat Morita's Hydraulic Arm, and it was some mixture of rye whiskey, cat dander, bitters and human hair. I've tried making it at home with some limited success, but my cat now just hides all day and my girlfriend is pretty pissed off at me for shaving her head in the middle of the night and she's bald. I can always scam some dander from the local kennels, but the human hair thing is a sticking point. So here's my question: does anyone have Sam Waterston trapped in their basement dungeon? I'd be willing to offer fair market price for the guy so I could farm his eyebrows on a regular basis. I hope this isn't a misuse of Yahoo, but I'm getting desperate. (I know, you are unable to provide legal guidance in this matter, nor are you a Saw-like murderous captor.)
The other night I was sitting home as usual watching "Hoarders" while the familiar noises of my neighbors' corpses being eaten by the living dead came through the walls. Whatever, Tuesdays. Anyway, at some point a familiar dull thudding came at my door. But instead of the usual guttural cries of "BRAAAAIIIINS!" I heard the lifeless chant of "CAAAARROOOOT CAAAAAAKE!" WTF? So I spent a few minutes removing the nailed-on boards that I'd been using as a barricade and opened the door to behold a typical-looking zombie. "CAAAAARROOOOOT CAAAAAKE!" he moaned, holding his arms out in front of him, etc. He smelled awful, but with a hint of holiday spices. "I don't have any carrot cake," I said. "I might have some bialys." He didn't respond for a moment, but then slumped and dropped his arms. It was kind of sad. Anyway, my question is, has anyone else seen this guy? The reason I ask is, Albertson's actually has some carrot cake, and I figured he'd dig that (and the staff is all dead), so if anyone has encountered this fellow, let me know--I have coupons. My throwaway email is email@example.com. Oh, and this was in Wichita.
Tuesday, 09 February
Getting With The Program
Today at work I had a meeting. It was three and a half hours long. Now, let us stipulate that there is nothing remotely interesting about turgid blog posts about turgid work meetings. They are universally dull and wrist-slitting.
This is a blog post about my interminable work meeting. Enjoy!
It actually wasn't the worst thing I've endured. After all, I've seen "Ace of Cakes." But it was a PowerPoint presentation titled "Back to Basics," which gave me brief hope that it was going to be still shots from a little-known sex comedy from 1980 with Bill Murray pulling faces and faceless women taking their shirts off. It emphatically was not. It was, as advertised, a PowerPoint presentation, with multiple images spinning their way into view in various whimsical ways, occasionally with sound effects like screeching tires, Yakety Sax, and my silent mental screams.
At one point, a demo of an updated piece of software was given. Seriously, you can stop reading any time. Anyway, this piece of home-rolled software is titled GUP. That stands for "General Update." It was created back in 1999 in-house to replace a profoundly primitive but similar piece of software called MUP. That stood for "Manual Update," and it looked exactly like Zork. ("You are in a maze of green text . . . ") MUP, apart from its tendency to inspire me to chant "MUP MUP MUP!" in my office, was a truly horrid program whose interface was akin to performing delicate ear surgery with a two-by-four. GUP, on the other hand, was a slightly slicker replacement bit of software that was extraordinarily ugly, but less Zork-esque in that one did not actually fear for being eaten by grues.
On the third hand, GUP was not without its problems. Its main deficiency was the fact that if one had to alter multiple rows in multiple tables, GUP required you to enter the patient chart information every single time. For each change, you had to enter three different identifier fields. This was not unlike visiting a supermarket where, when purchasing several items, you had to buy one thing at a time and then go to the back of the line for every separate item.
Now, it's probably useful to realize that, again, these programs were created in-house in 1999. It's also helpful to realize that I'm a total moron who topped out with BASIC and then promptly forgot even that. It's ALSO perhaps amusing--or something--to know that the guy who hammered out most of the code behind this misbegotten app, a legendary maniac named Owen who was famous for being tasked for these awful assignments, would disappear into his office for weeks at a time and then, after long hours of cramming walnuts up his ass or painting surrealistic depictions of fanciful giraffes, would eventually emerge from his office with a wholly-formed program ready to be deployed. I talked with the other programmers at the time (many of whom were utterly cracked themselves, including one avowed Libertarian who enjoyed sending emails in Latin), who described his methods as either "brilliant" or "utterly insane." Or, often, both.
The original GUP program was intended as a very temporary fix, as even our AppDev folks recognized its annoying aspects, namely its outrageously inefficient access mechanisms, its hideous interface, and the inescapable fact that once Owen left shortly after its creation, nobody had the faintest idea how or why he had created it in the way he did. Owen became our lost Dr. Frankenstein, a mad genius who had foisted a shambling, mad creature into our world, realized he had no earthly way of explaining it or controlling it, and then just threw his hands up and split, off to some other Pythagorean world where there were always orchards of walnut trees laden with nuts to cram up his ass.
GUP is the temporary fix we've been living with for over ten years. Today, at our deathless meeting, the new version was demoed for us. It looked great, to be honest, and solved nearly all of the gripes we've been croaking out for the last decade. Sure, there were a couple problems--pretty minor--but what do you expect with a new software rollout? When the meeting left off and we all applied our age creams, we all scampered back to our offices to play with our new toy.
I double-clicked the program icon. And it informed me that there was a grievous problem, and it would not load up. Would I like to send an error report to Microsoft?
I mentioned that this is a completely in-house program, right?
Tuesday, 05 January
A couple years ago, I was in Chicago on a business trip. My good friend Brad L. Graham met me at my hotel lobby for a night of dinner and subsequent carousing. We hugged warmly, despite the fact that I had met him only a couple times in, as they say, "real life"--but I had known Brad for the better part of a decade; first through a website called MetaFilter and then via another more private site where I and a bunch of other degenerates and perverts hang out and bullshit all the live-long day in order to avoid doing work.
Brad, a tremendously energetic and unapologetic flirt, immediately engaged the staff. After we hugged, he turned to the bell desk attendant and said, in his improbably deep voice, "Excuse me, lovely lady. Could you recommend a restaurant where I could take this devastatingly handsome man?" (I am emphatically not handsome in any conventional sense. I sort of resemble a shorter Toxic Avenger with slightly better skin.) He flashed his trademark snaggly grin, and you could see her respond in kind. She pointed us to some place that I do not remember, but seemed to feature attractive ashtrays.
The flirting towards me was of course harmless and vaguely ridiculous, since he knew very well that I'm straight and married, but he also knew my weakness for wordplay and playful repartee, and so as we sparred throughout the evening, gradually endrunkening ourselves (the business meetings the next morning were murder), we found an easy groove. We shared the same vices and spent the evening reveling in both of them--nail-biting and tearing the legs off of earwigs. (Not really. I'm of course talking about drinking martinis and smoking shitty domestic cigarettes.)
It was a simply *jazz hands* fabulous evening, with Brad making his trademark groantastic punny jokes and occasionally making utterly silly salacious remarks about nearly every male or male-ish person who happened to enter his ambit.
My friend Brad was found dead on Monday, apparently from "natural causes" in his bed. He was 41 years old. I will myself turn 41 in June this year.
I am devastated. I hate the phrase "natural causes." What the holy deep-fried fuck is natural about dying from some handwavey horseshit at the age of 41? Let's leave aside the idea that "natural causes" generally elides the whole idea of providing an explanation of "causes" at all. What fucking causes? I'd like to see some fucking newspaper article describe some poor bastard's death as "natural murder." Fuck. You might as well state that he died from "Stuff."
I am also pissed off. It's difficult for me to make sense of, and I don't know how to articulate it, other than to repeat the completely worn-out trope that death is a bitch, and it's unfair, and frankly, can go fuck itself. I don't really want anyone to die (though of course I've engaged in hyperbole to the opposite, as we all do), but Brad? Really? In the words of I.I. Rabi upon discovering a subatomic particle that nobody had ever predicted, "Who ordered that?"
And it's strange to me to have these feelings--these cloudbursts of tears that have been coming on me for a couple days--over someone who I met physically only a couple times, but who I knew what I would considerably fairly intimately over eight or so years on the fucking Internet. I don't think I'm the only one. The MetaFilter thread announcing his death (technically a subsite called MetaTalk) brought dozens and dozens of old members out of the woodwork (many of whom had to obtain help from the administrators to restore long-lost login passwords) simply because they felt the need to express their utter grief.
I won't go into the details of his storied life. You can look it all up. You should. The man was an Internet legend for a lot of reasons, but those details are boring compared to the man qua man. He was one of the most generous souls I ever had the great pleasure and great fortune to meet. He's gone, and there's a void in the world that will never be filled.
I miss him very much.
I keep thinking of the closing lines of John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany. "O God--please give him back! I shall keep asking You." Well, unfortunately, I don't believe in God. If I did, I'd be pretty pissed off at him for this fucking horrible nonsense, this worthless, wrenching death. But I'll bet you a million dollars that Brad would forgive Him in a heartbeat. With his last heartbeat.
Monday, 21 December
Right before Thanksgiving, the wife and I traveled once again to Bruges. It was our third trip over there and my first to Amsterdam, where we flew in and out of. I've been thinking a lot about how to write it up, and have largely been stymied. I'm still not quite back yet.
General notes, I guess: weather-wise, we got utterly creamed. There was exactly one day in which we were not rained on, and we're not talking Pacific Northwest polite rainfall: we got doused every fucking day. On our first night there, we sat glazed in front of the hotel TV, trying to get our bodies adjusted to the jet lag (with occasional fun bouts of me throwing up nothing), when a truly epic thunderstorm descended upon us. Naturally, I chose this very moment to wander downstairs for a cigarette.
The lightning was close and intense, so it was a smart thing that I was holding an umbrella up in the air. As a rule, I like to feel safe by holding a largely metal object up in the air when there's massive amounts of atmospheric electricity in play. I struggled to light my smoke in the ridiculous gale, and was largely unsurprised when my umbrella got inside-outed by the wind. "I've really got to stop smoking," I thought as I stood battered by the storm. I watched a middle-aged lady attempt to cross a canal bridge, and her hopeless umbrella met the same fate as mine. I stood under my crippled, useless bumbershoot, shivering and staring at the twisted tines of the poor thing and welcomed myself to Europe.
I hope it goes without saying that neither of us could give a ripe fuck about the bad weather.
We had a week of the town to ourselves before we were met by our traveling companions Will and Julea (and, for a brief couple days, Warren). We had set ourselves up in a two-story apartment with a rooftop balcony that overlooked the city's famous belfry. The three of them had a rough ride to Bruges from Amsterdam, and arrived hours later than they anticipated due to four different train changes necessitated by things like dogs wandering onto the tracks and train operators needing to stop for gum in Ghent. After such a harrowing trip, one thing was called for: a ridiculous bender.
The wife and I had laid in a solid liter of Jameson's whiskey, which we attacked like Huns. Warren in particular went after the luckless bottle as if it had done Warren some grievous wrong in the past. (I confess I wasn't far behind Warren in draining the thing.) At some point in the evening, Julea took exception to a hideous oil painting in the apartment, a depiction of some long-forgotten matriarch glaring out with a secret fury at the living world, and clambered up onto a decidedly unsturdy desk to cover it with a blanket. That's when my wife went a little pale and announced she was going to bed.
Some of us were to be discovered, the next morning, a bit on the moany side, and we laughed over our night of excess. Warren, for his part, blamed the brand of whiskey. "Fuckin' Jameson's!" he howled. "Every time I drink that shit, I wake up miserable!" We attempted to offer an alternate theory--that he had drunk a simply unreasonable quantity of high-octane moonshine--was met with scorn. "Fuckin' Jameson's!" He would occasionally yell this while looking to Zeus for answers that were not forthcoming.
It wasn't all debauchery, of course. We made sure to get our culture on, visiting some museums, taking in public sculptures, and in general freaking out over the absurdly adorable local architecture. We climbed the belfry tower, noting that, while cruel, Colin Farrell's observation from In Bruges that morbidly obese people could never make it all the way up was completely true. We were at the top when the clock struck 2:00, causing certain female members of our party to scream, which was also charming. Further evidence that heterosexual men are just assholes: nothing pleases us more than when our gals are screaming like fire alarms. This is why we subject our poor mates to things like horror movies and intolerably loud noises: the hope that they will jump up and down and grab onto us, both of which are utterly delightful to us.
There was a ton of other things that we did, of course, but then this post would be nine miles long, but I'm sure I'll get to them soon enough. But there is one last story to tell before I go hit the bed.
We spent the back end of the trip in Amsterdam, where we flew in and out of. On our first night in Amsterdam, after a fairly spectacular meal featuring oysters, the wife and I were sacked out in our hotel room. It was around 11:00 PM, and I was questing through the channels in search of something to watch. The BBC was already in full boring mode--whatever, reporting on countries I, as an American, have barely heard of, such as Scotland!--so that was out. I wearily kept punching the channel incrementer.
Suddenly, there was . . . well, there was a thing. It seemed to be a documentary, though since the narration was in Dutch, it was difficult to tell what the fuck it was about. Interestingly--I guess--the subject seemed to be these four or five guys from America; they all seemed to be from New Jersey. I only say that because they were all sort of paunchy fucking schlubs who were phenomenally unattractive. I know that's a mean stereotype about New Jersey mooks; they could have been from Montana. But if I had to guess, well, I'm sticking with New Jersey.
So there's these mysteriously ugly dudes speaking (in English) to their interviewers about . . . what? It was strange, but yet the filmmakers seemed to think there was something interesting about them, something worth documenting. We soon found out what the hook was.
As the Dutch narration continued, one of the fellows suddenly stood up and lowered his pants, and revealed a simply absurdly huge dong. Seriously, he just stood there while the camera filmed, briefly, his thoroughly inactive flaccid dick. A few minutes later, one of the other tools did the same thing: he dropped trou and stood there, bored as anything, as the camera captured precious footage of his drooped, indolent cock. Now, like I say, we don't speak a word of Dutch, but it was around this time that a particular cross-lingual phrase started to come through in the narration. It sounded something like this:
". . . oop blarg munchkin bedonk't ENOR-MOUS PAY-NIS flimp gramm crocker schmoot . . ."
They kept saying this phrase. "ENOR-MOUS PAY-NIS." Soon, we were helplessly laughing, and now the phrase has become household shorthand for a quick laugh. (I'm surprised it hasn't come into usage sooner, given the fact that I have a ridiculously immense member, but that's another post.) We just couldn't believe it. Who would ever want to watch such a thing? Who would ever get the idea to make such a thing? These guys were, to a man, utterly hideous and complete dolts. One unforgettable scene displayed one of the big-dick dipshits shamelessly making out with his nasty skank of a wife at some cafe, which was awful enough; they appeared to be testing the structural integrity of each others' gumlines. Then the camera pulled back, and down, and then zoomed in to the under-the-table action. The guy's wife had her hand on his crotch under the table, and was, during this grotesque make-out session, enthusiastically fingering the man's penis through his jeans, rolling it between her fingers as if soothing a particularly aggrieved iguana. It felt like watching evolution go in reverse.
Okay, I guess it was all debauchery after all. (Not really. Next up, I'll talk about ice skating and frites covered with gravy and tiny little bunnies. Seriously.) I'd like to say I'm happy to be back, but apart from forced business trips and visits with your odious family members, are you ever glad to be back?
(Mom and Dad: a rhetorical goof. I do not actually find you to be odious. Merry Christmas!)