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Friday, 31 January
Worker Productivity Takes A Palpable Hit Courtesy of Us

Ah, Friday. Here at work, the office is abuzz with anything other than work. I just took a leisurely stroll around to casually violate people's privacy. This is a report on my suck-ass goldbricking coworkers who make me feel better about my own flagrant nonwork. Names have been changed to mean-spirited denigrations to protect their privacy and to amuse me.

Bosslady: Eating candy, staring at pictures of cute dogs on the net. Okay.

Nearly Life-Sized Administrative Girl and Flailing New Guy: Improbably, they are having a lively discussion about square roots. I'm not kidding. This creeps me the fuck out, so I hurry along before I can hear more.

She Who Is Why We Cannot Cure Cancer: The less said here the better. She and Caftan Guy (see earlier entry) fight a pitched battle on some nameless astral plane for possession of the One True Tarnished Tin Crown of Celestial Idiocy. Anyway, she's doing a crossword puzzle on the web. Well, sort of. She has two entries completed, and looks haggard from the effort.

Former Bosslady: Actually working. This is intolerable. So I perform one of my favorite office stunts and pretend to pass out in her office. I simply walk in and then roll my eyes up in my head and collapse bonelessly on the floor. She giggles, but ignores me, as she's seen this trick before. I lie there for two whole fucking minutes waiting for a better reaction, which I finally get from Hippie Throwback Gal, who is passing by. "Is Skot okay?" she asks Former Bosslady. "He's an asshole," replies FB.

Hippie Throwback Gal: When not busy inquiring about my medical condition with what I must say was a rather mild unconcern, HTG was visiting Former Bosslady to ask if she had seen some "adorable" dog pictures on the net. Yes, the same site that Bosslady was looking at. I feel like there is invisible machinery all around.

Sleepy Gay Fellow: I admire people who don't even pretend to work. His monitor is off and his feet are on his desk; this is the defining Jesus Christ Pose of the modern office worker. He's on the phone with a friend; this is the only snippet of conversation I heard: " . . . just get plowed tonight . . . "

Caftan Guy: Depressingly, but totally unsurprisingly, not at his desk. So, of course, not working, for which cancer patients everywhere should breathe a prayer of thanks. He is almost certainly in the bathroom loudly delivering a fresh payload of gut-bombs. I shudder, and hurry past his cubicle, feeling like a kid walking past Crazy Mrs. MacNutter's haunted mansion.

Tall Girl Who Likes Horses, And That Is My Sum Total Knowledge of Her: Leaving. Me: "Have a good weekend, Jenny!" Her: "Jeannie." Well done, Skot.

Nice Girl Whose Last Name Has An Onomatopoeic Ring Not Unlike A Rubber Boot Sinking Into A Mudbank: She's instant messengering mash notes to someone (I see the phrases "thats so hot" and "mmm"), hopefully her husband of one month. If so, Awwwwwww! If not, Ewwwwwww.

Bosslady of Other People: Staring at an email and idly fingering a brightly-colored frog toy. I briefly think, "I work with a bunch of goddamn nutfucks!" but then recall that I enjoy pretending to faint in other peoples' offices. Move on.

Woman Reminiscent of Elsa Lanchester: Internet dogs. What the fuck? Flee.

Caftan Guy update! He's back at his desk. Whoop, to get his coat. No, he's leaving. I guess the bathroom has been sufficiently napalmed. He flashes me a peace sign and I bare my canines.

Girl Who Is Constructed of Only Elbows: Just returning from getting coffee, and I almost run into her. She backs up, waving her elbows and apologizing. I pass by, and she returns to her cubicle and sits down on her elbows, vibrating in some vague way. She kills me.

Newish Woman: Actually working. She's new, and wants to make a good impression. She'll learn the ropes.

Me: Typing up this crap. Learned the ropes long ago. Clearly: not working. Happy Friday.

Thursday, 30 January
Self-Mutilation As Scotch-Delivery Strategy

When cooking chicken, as with anything, presentation is important. When removing the skillet from the oven, place it carefully on the stove top.

Then remove the chicken breasts to a platter to rest while you prepare the pan sauce. Tent the chicken lightly with some foil, and then turn around to the skillet on the stove. Grip its 450-degree handle with your bare hand. This is important, and it's a step sadly neglected by many chefs.

With the skillet now firmly in hand, take a millisecond to realize what a goddam moron you are. You can do it! Then simply drop the radioactive goddam fucking skillet onto the kitchen floor; when done properly, white-hot beads of chicken fat should fly onto the floor, the cupboards, your pants, and maybe your small child. Scream.

I want to emphasize this. Your scream is very important; it should reflect your basic personality. What are you going to scream? Is it "FUCK!"? Is it "FUCKING FUCK!"? Own your scream. Personally, mine is the very evocative syllable "GAAAAAA!"

The scream serves many functions. One is to alert the neighborhood that you are a moron who grabs incredibly hot objects. Now they know. Another function is to scare your significant other witless and then cause her to run about distractedly bringing you wet towels, Advil, scotch, ice, Neosporin, scotch, more ice, and panicky medical advice. Take a moment to appreciate your significant other and her concern for you, and remember for the future that if you're ever feeling too lazy to go pour yourself a scotch, you could always just burn yourself severely, and she will come running. Good to know.

Later, after dinner (during which your tireless significant other was pressed into service to cut up your chicken, which made you feel five years old), mewl softly into successive scotches and melt thirty-six bags of ice in your hand. It's all part of the process.

Tomorrow, the real fun begins. In the shower. After you've kind of forgotten that you'd burned your hand. Make sure the water is extra-hot. And oh, you're going to need that scream again.

Wednesday, 29 January
I Am A Misanthrope With Certain Bathroom Anxieties

I work with a guy whom I'm going to call Caftan Guy. And the thing is, Caftan Guy is fundamentally intolerable. So I'm just going to get this off my chest. Oh, and if by chance he ever finds out about this post, somehow, let me just say right off the bat, so there's no silly misunderstanding: I hate you, Caftan Guy, because you are so hideous.

He (obviously) wears caftans to work. And sandals. And kilts. And, probably, saris and obis and codpieces and feather boas and nipple clamps for all the fuck I know. I try not to be around Caftan Guy, not only because he looks like a twerp, but because he's Deep, Man. He's always wanting to talk about the latest New York Times story about . . . I don't know, because this is where I always stop listening, because Caftan Guy is about as smart as a tennis racket. But with less utility.

Caftan Guy is very problematic, because he thinks he is very smart, but is in fact, very stupid. Now, I'm becoming more tolerant of stupid people as I come to realize that I can frequently be quite stupid, but Caftan Guy is way beyond the pale. Is the phrase, "Just right-click on the document and select 'print' " a daunting intellectual puzzle to you? Caftan Guy regarded it as some mysterious Zen koan presented in an obscure Portuguese dialect. Have you ever asked anyone, ever, "What happens if I delete this document?" Caftan Guy has asked me that, and was satisfied when I answered him, "You'll delete the document." He walked away chuffing happily, and I sat in my chair pondering the cheerless notion that this person is responsible for actual medical data.

There's another horrible reason I try not to be around Caftan Guy. And that is the bathroom . . . issue. Our company apparently pays this man to take endless, backbreaking dumps, because Caftan Guy is always in the bathroom. Constantly. And there's not much guesswork involved in what's going on, because he periodically cuts loose with bloodcurdling grunts, pops, and whistles. It sounds like the fucking Amazon in there; it freaks me out and makes me want to boil myself. Also, get out of the fucking bathroom, you goddamn bowel-mutant! I can barely bring myself to even shudderingly open the door any more. I'm too afraid I'm going to hear his terrible plorping and urfing and GRUUUUH!-ing.

One final thing about Caftan Guy. He writes haikus. Now, that's cool. I'm down with people writing haikus, even maudlin, clumsy, florid ones. What I'm not down with is reading them. See, he emails them to our entire department when the mood strikes him. The death of a co-worker; the first day of spring; a random erection that he wants to announce: He's going to write a haiku about it. I've decided I'm going to give it a shot.

Dearest Caftan Guy
You shit so audibly that
I pine for the grave

Tuesday, 28 January
Less Obvious Ways to Die While Driving Around

Since the fiancee and I bought a (used, tired) car last June, things have been superb. She doesn't have to take two buses to get to work and I . . . get to feel happy that she doesn't have to take two buses to get to work. No, of course I'm being a doink; it's very handy to have, and has spared our friends many ride-pleading phone calls.

One less salutary effect it has had on my life, however, is via the tape deck. Car radios are unpredictable and potentially life-threatening. One can be tooling along innocently only to be suddenly assaulted by the awful VOICE OF A DJ, and what happens? You burst into flames. Or worse, you could really fuck the dog and stumble onto a talk radio station. There you are, haplessly trying to avoid, say, Carly Simon, when this comes loping out of your speakers: "Liberals are all a bunch of Commie hand-wringing fairies!" (I may be paraphrasing.) What do you do then? There's not much you can do: you pull over and quietly die.

And who needs that? You can't just die whenever. How's that going to play with the boss? "Where were you yesterday?" "I inadvertantly listened to talk radio and died."

So hence the tape deck. But since all my tapes date to circa 1981-1989, the listening choices are thin. And horribly catastrophic: I stared down at my old collection with mounting horror a while back. Flesh for Lulu? The Screaming Blue Messiahs? Voivod? What the fuck? This was ghastlier than I had anticipated. The Woodentops? I fold. The idea of trying to listen to even a few songs, much less an entire tape, by any of these awful bands was inconceivable.

But then I hit on it: mixed tapes! I made many mix tapes while in college, and they are composed of a whole bunch of terrible songs by a revolving set of terrible bands! I can handle that. Or so I thought. Here's a sampling of some songs off of a tape I was listening to recently. Notice how well they all hang together stylistically.

Clan of Xymox, "Phoenix of My Heart"
Nitzer Ebb, "Lightning Man"
Paul Simon, "The Coast"
Jesus Jones, "Lost in Space"
Revolting Cocks, "Attack Ships on Fire"
Danielle Dax, "Whistling for His Love"
The Smiths, "How Soon is Now?"
Lou Reed, "Fly Into The Sun"
Durutti Column, "Red Shoes"

What a depressing list. Not that there aren't some good songs in there, but they should never share the same car. Fuck, they shouldn't share the same freeway. Also, there are some fabulously awful songs in there: Jesus Jones? Better, a Jesus Jones song that nobody ever heard of? What's wrong with me? Oh, and the Xymox song? It's a terribly squishy synth-mope song that sounded dated about fifteen minutes after it was recorded in the studio, but it takes the Uncontrollable Crying and Vomiting Index sharply upwards at the end, where it segues, bafflingly and hideously, I shit you not, into a gooey, cooing cover of The Troggs' "Wild Thing." It really must be heard to be believed. And then never, ever heard again.

Much like talk radio.

Monday, 27 January
A Hearty "Fuck the World!" Can Be Heard From Within the Skinner Box

I understand the lame irony of being a smoker while working for a cancer research facility. How could I not? But the building management has just gone off its onion about this. I just can't fucking stand it. Bear with me.

We used to be able to smoke downstairs--outside--kind of around the corner, where we were nicely out of sight, so nobody might get the terrible idea that some deranged people actually smoke in the outside world. This evidently wasn't good enough, so the management, at God knows what dumb expense, built us a brand-new smoking gulag downstairs in the parking basement. I think their next step will be to put us all in a pit, and then while we're nonchalantly puffing away, they will suddenly bury us with a bulldozer while children point and laugh.

But it gets better. Since my building was evidently designed by dribbling cretins, this now means I have to take three elevators to get down to smoke central. Now, you're probably thinking, "Skot, you are a lying sack. Also, you smoke, so fuck you, you lying sack. You lying sack!" I understand. But hear me out. I work on the 20th floor. There are three banks of elevators in the lobby: one goes from the lobby down to the parking garage, one services floors 2-11, and the other services floors 12-19. See the tiny math problem? So, yes, I take the elevator up to 19, where I then take another elevator that is dedicated to traveling between floor 19 and floor 20. WHAT? Who designed this system, Rube Goldberg? I half-expect that there is an elaborate mouse/cannonball/ramp/pulley system underlying the whole fucking thing.

So now you see. When I get a break, I zip over to floor 20's rickety-ass dedicated elevator and squeal with delight as I bonk down to 19. Then I listen to my cells die while I wait for the elevator to get up to 19 and ride it down to the lobby. Then I dejectedly plod over to the other set of depressavators for it to take me down to the parking garage, and I cross over the blind corner where I will almost certainly be mowed down one day by a blank-eyed commuter, and enter the roomlet with one chain-link fence wall that overlooks a grimy, howling freeway all so I can just smoke a fucking cigarette. The whole thing is like living in a Robbe-Grillet novel.

Say, Skot, now that you mention it, being way up there on the 20th floor, don't they have a balcony? Why, yes. Yes they do. There is a beautiful balcony. There is fresh air. There is a commanding view. And there are many "NO SMOKING" signs.

Friday, 24 January
My Dreamscape Is Neither Rich Nor Textured

The other day I was taking a nap before having to go to rehearsal, and I hit some serious REM sleep, because I started dreaming very, very hard. I don't tend to remember very many dreams for some reason, but this one was a doozy; I remembered everything. It really was meticulously detailed, which was truly unfortunate. Not because it was a scary dream. Unless you find "hopeless banality" scary, because it was the most boring dream possible. Luxembourgian geopolitics are less boring than this dream, if Luxembourg has any geopolitics to speak of, and I'm already weak with boredom even thinking about that, but it's still a flaming-hoop act, excitement-wise, compared to that damn dream. Anyway.

As it starts out, I'm in a plain white room with a brown carpet. (Good God, even that first sentence makes me want to put my head into a paint shaker. You already know you're in for a thrilling Cavalcade of Boredom.) It is evening, around nine o'clock, but I only know that because of dream-logic; the room is too uninteresting to feature anything as pulse-quickening as a clock. The only other person in the room is a mildly pretty saleswoman standing by a table with about a dozen cell phones on it. She's kind of packing stuff up, because it's the end of the day. I guess. The oppressive boredom makes it difficult to ascribe reason to the situation.

All of a sudden, I realize I have a vast, consuming need to purchase a cell phone. So I start talking to her. She really just wants to go, but is stuck dealing with the weird dreaming guy who's just way too into the minutae of cell phone plans, but she starts describing them anyway.

In lengthy, excruciating detail. X number of minutes for Z dollars a month; roaming costs; year-long plans vs. open-ended contracts, all kinds of stuff that my brain must have been manufacturing. And I was eating this stuff up, I simply couldn't get enough of this brain-choking bullshit. All the while I'm picking up phones and excitedly examining them. Let me stress again how lame and prosaic this dream is. Because as I examined the phones, I didn't find any with incredible features or doodads, like a concealed switchblade, or a rhino whistle, or a Jim Carrey proximity alarm or anything. They were just . . . phones. I heard myself saying terrible things: "What can you tell me about this red one?" "Wow, I don't know how I'd use all those minutes! (Wild laughter)" "What about the ones with the flip-down mouthpiece?"

It went on like that for a while; in dream time it seemed like hours. Finally I guess my brain had simply had enough of this, because I'm pretty sure it got bored by itself. The reason I say this is because of the idiotic way it ended: I was jabbering away about some awful phone detail, and the salesgirl, without a word, simply turned away from me and walked out the door. I just stood there watching her leave, clutching one of the phones, feeling very plaintive that I was being treated so shabbily, and maybe she'll come back? I'm still interested in many of these phones!

I woke up then. I kept still for a few minutes, reviewing the dream bit by bit, marveling at its detail, marveling at its startling vacuity, marveling at the cinematic scope of its breathtaking dumbness. It was like watching a Warhol film on IMAX or seeing a Grand Guignol play performed by catatonics.

I know now I will never, ever be able to buy a cell phone in my life because of this.

Thursday, 23 January
Fond Recollections of Ingesting Terrible Things

As a kid, I would waste my allowance on the usual dumb things: comic books and candy. My parents hated this, of course, because I suppose they were following the "it'll teach him fiscal responsibility" model, but naturally I learned nothing. Well, nothing except, "One day a week I can gorge myself on sweets while reading trash, and the other six I can spend desperately waiting for that one day." Some favorites:

Good 'N Plenty: These are of course neither. They look like circus medicine, come about nine and a half to the box, and taste vaguely licoricey. There was just one enormous batch made in 1933, and none since. It's okay, there's still a lot left. These however, did allow me to discover:

Good 'N Fruity: Which are marginally less terrible than its cousin, but still a big lie all the same. These are to fruit flavor as Edie Brickell is to songcraft. There's just no relationship. The name is also clearly a not-too-sly bit of agenda-pushing by the Homosexual Ruling Elite.

Spree: What the hell were these things? Spree? Packaged in a long silvery cylinder to boot, it looked like something John Travolta might have pulled from the front of his jeans. Were all the candy marketers trying to tell me something? These were horse-choking lozenge thingies that used the common dirty trick of coming in many colors yet all tasting identical. Which is to say: like lost, dusty dreams. They wanted to be good, but some flavor vampire had gotten to them first.

Necco Wafers: Paper-thin discs of varying wan colors dusted with what might have been dioxin, these Luddites of the candy world eschewed everything. Flavor, texture, appearance, a coherent reason for existence: Necco had none of these. More imaginative parents might have used them as punishment. "I'm sorry I broke the TV, Dad." "You're going to eat one whole roll of Necco Wafers, young man." "I'm going to call Child Services." "You want to try for two, buster?"

Wonka's Bottle Caps: Roald Dahl should be proud of Wonka Candies, because they clearly have the same vicious streak of hilarious misanthropy that his writing does. Vaguely soda-flavored anthropomorphized bottle caps? Uh . . . yum. Or as my geek friends might put it, !yum.

Wonka's Everlasting Gobstopper: Another fiendish Wonka creation, popular only with the most dysfunctional of children. Autistics probably dream of these things, and would probably explain a lot of their behavior. "Why doesn't my child want me to touch or hold him? Why does he hurt himself?" Answer: he is not getting any Everlasting Gobstoppers. A fist-sized sphere that tastes like sweetened sadness, but the longer you suck on it, it changes colors. Seriously. Who gives a fuck? It's in your mouth. So you have to take it out to get the effect. That's adorable; something that encourages children to spit out their food and show it to others.

So the question is, why did I eat these terrible things? They all looked like something out of a Bosch painting, and their taste may be described as what you'd imagine a Vice President would taste like. It's not like I tortured my other senses; comic books can be aesthetically pleasing, and I certainly wasn't enjoying the rather Hadean reek of our cafeteria. So why was I putting these disgusting things in my mouth all the time? It's a question I'm going to ponder over a cigarette.

Wednesday, 22 January
I Make Sweeping Generalizations About Many Things, But Today, Dogs

The fiancee and I, as yet, are dogless. We hate that we are dogless and wish to rectify the situation, but it's not likely to happen until we move to a bigger place next year. I also have some daily-abandonment issues to work through, but that's for later; I already have coping strategies that I can employ. For example, I have been ignoring my dry cleaning for five weeks now, and it isn't complaining. It's just sitting there placidly in a wrinkly, expensive pile. My dry cleaning is, if I may, doglike in its silent devotion. I'd pet my dry cleaning right now, but it's developing a nice crust, and I don't want to disturb it.

I have no interest in the whole cat vs. dog debate, except to just note that a lifelong allergy to the former totally precludes cat-ownership, and also to note that I hate the prissy little beastlets. Anyway, dogs! It will remain to be seen what kind of dog we want. It will certainly be a mutt, probably from the pound or a friend somewhere, as I am incapable of going into pet stores without thinking that I should have brought a cake with a file in the middle of it. "Here! You know what to do!" I'd hoarsely whisper to a languid iguana. Then I'd realize that iguanas generally really don't know what to do. What the hell is the shelf life of a lizard anyway? "The iguana isn't selling. That's stale merchandise. Throw it in the dumpster."

For space reasons, it will probably be a small dog. For example, pugs. Pugs make me laugh extremely hard, mainly by just sitting there existing. They all look like tiny, furry Martha Rayes. The main objection to a pug would be my ongoing feeling of dread that at any moment, his eyes could pop out of their sockets, causing me to run around madly, screaming like my asshole was on fire.

Of course, there is such a thing as too small. Chihuahuas, poodles: these are dogs for unserious people. People who own these dogs also do crafts like latch-hook or enter ping-pong tournaments. They own Hummel figurines or listen to Pizzicato Five. Unnatural things. People who own these dogs are, technically, psychotic. That's all I'm saying. (If you are one of these people, I don't mean you, of course; just people exactly like you. You, I like.)

If I could get me a bulldog, that would be outstanding, but I think you hit the fucking breeding problem. A bulldog's main attraction is the fact that every living moment in his presence feels like an old Warner Brothers cartoon. I would spend hours and hours capering around him, twittering "Hey Spike! Whatcha doin' Spike? You wanna get something to eat, Spike?" until the poor tortured bastard would bite my face off. So that's probably out. I need my face.

There's breeds like Terriers and Corgis and crap like that, but then you're getting into the whole pedigree thing again, and I won't have any of that. I'm insecure enough; I don't need to get into a pissing match with someone over their pets' credentials. "A fine animal you've got there! What's his breeding?" "Jesus, mister, I don't know. He drinks out of the toilet and sniffs his friends' asses. So, Dartmouth?"

I'm sure we'll end up with some anonymous little mutt, and that's cool. I can teach him tricks, like rolling over or nipping at the testicles of hippies. I can take him for long walks, during which I suppose I will be required to collect his dogshit. But not for long. We're going to go throw it at pet stores.

Tuesday, 21 January
Conversations In and Around My Body

Virus 1: What's up?

Virus 2: Nothing.

Virus 1: Want to go fuck with Skot?

Virus 2: Yeah!

Skot's Immune System: Hold it right there, you bastards!

Virus 1: Up yours.

Virus 2: Get lost!

Skot's Immune System: Sorry to bother you. Go right in.

[The viruses throw a house party at which several million guests are in attendance. The viruses insist on playing "Cheeseburger in Paradise" at high volume.]

Brain: Jesus God. Jimmy Buffett attack! I must void stomach contents!

Stomach: We've got nothing down here but ramen noodles and whisky anyway.

Liver: Don't even talk to me.

Viruses: HEAVEN ON EARTH WITH AN ONION SLICE!

Small bowel: They're making me twitchy.

[The rectum does not say anything, but mewls softly in his dread.]

Esophagus: We're all suffering, people. I'm getting gang-fucked by these lymph nodes up here. Jesus, back the fuck up!

Lymph nodes: We can't help it! We're just big-boned! Talk to brain!

Stomach: Brain? Yeah, he's a help. 'More beer and cigarettes!" That's all that guy says.

Lungs: Great, more cigarettes. Just what me and heart need. What the hell is rectum crying about, anyway? We're the ones who get nailed.

Rectum: Dude, do you have any idea what goes on down here?

Viruses: I'M JUST A CHEESEBURGER IN PARADISE!

Brain: Oh, this is horrible. Hands! Beer and a cigarette! Now!

Monday, 20 January
Strangers Enjoy the Ambience of My Uninviting Back Yard

It seems that one of our neighbors has a stalker. Isn't that fucking wonderful? There is a woman who apparently lives in the house next door to our apartment building, and her ex-boyfriend can be seen at pretty much any hour driving around the block in his van, parking in her driveway, or, if he's feeling really frisky, sneaking into our back yard to spy on her window. This I love. Our building manager caught him pressed up against the wall the other night and called the cops, who promptly let him go. Thanks, guys! I had a conversation about this with Jason, the guy who called the cops.

"What the fuck? I mean, what the fucking fuck? FUCK!"

"I know," Jason calmly replied as I fitfully gnawed on my arm.

"Why didn't you . . . I don't know . . . hit him with a shovel a bunch of times?"

"See, you can't. I have to lure him inside."

"Are you kidding? That's fucking stupid."

"I know. But I have taken my guns out of the safe again."

Well, now I feel better. So we have a crazed stalker diddling around in our back yard and an armed, bloodthirsty building manager. How can we add to this picture? I believe I'll set up a combo crack lab/abortion clinic! It is imperative that I maximize the horrific danger quotient here. But there are some other anti-stalker methods I can take.

1. I will stop recycling. Not only will this hasten the demise of the earth, and thus stalkers, it may also act as a psychologic depressive on intruders. They'll sneak into the back yard, and will inevitably see the woefully underused recycling bins. "Jesus, that's terrible," they'll think. "Recycling is important to the global community. I'm too depressed to murder my estranged girlfriend now. I'm going to go read some Carlos Castaneda instead."

2. I will litter the back yard with my famously inedible pot roasts. This is almost too cruel, but my safety is paramount to people like me. So the stalker will creep into the yard and spy a pot roast sitting there. "Pot roast!" he will think, "What a delicious surprise! I will eat this pot roast before I murder my estranged girlfriend! O happy day!" Then when he discovers that the pot roast is, in fact, horrible, he will become incredibly depressed. "Who can't cook pot roast? This country is going into the toilet. I'm moving to Indonesia."

3. I can pay William Bennett to sit around in my back yard and intercept the wicked. Again, the stalker sneaks into my yard, and there's William Bennett. The stalker panics. "Jesus Christ in New Jersey! A shrill, right-wing moralizer is back here!" And William Bennett will thunder, "This nation's poor have only themselves to blame!" And the stalker will cringe and think, "What? Is he insane? Why won't he let me murder my estranged girlfriend in peace?" William Bennett will be unperturbed. "Images on television are destroying our nation's fiber," he will dourly intone. The stalker is plunged into a paralyzing morass of confusion and terror. He gibbers fearfully while William Bennett continues his ruthless attack on his psyche. "White people are great! I am frightened by the young! I'm a quacking programmable mouthpiece for the Republican Party!" At which point the stalker, now terrorized beyond reason, chooses to die, and eats an entire pot roast. And William Bennett looks on approvingly; a criminal has died horribly, and recycling is on the wane. It's morning in America.

Friday, 17 January
My Incompetence is Vast and Encompassing

Part of my job is doing software and applications testing. You may have noticed how I sling complicated computer jargon around with terrifying efficiency. Now of course I don't know a damn thing about computers, or programming, or "environments," or "anything," which is, sadly, kind of the point. Since I work with people who, against all reason, actually know even less than I do about these things, I get to be the liaison between the compserv staff and the other pasteheads in my department. That's a grand thing to realize: my office is full of fumbling morons, and I am their leader. I'm the Alpha Moron.

Anyway, since compserv is staffed by cruel, vicious Torquemadas, they immediately implemented a sweeping plan to break my spirit, which I must say was incredibly effective. The first thing they did was take away my PC.

WHAT? I need that! "No you don't," they cooed. "You can use this." "This" is a fucking plastic do-funny that looks like a big Chiclet. It has one malevolent green eye next to a single power button. It says "Wyse Winterm." I dolefully surveyed this . . . toy . . . while the compserv staff dumped my old PC into the garbage, which they then set ablaze. They stood around, warming themselves, while cracking open bottles of malt liquor.

"We got tired of dealing with you retards," said one of them laconically. "So we're not going to any more. That little guy connects you to a single server that runs all of your applications on something called Citrix."

"Wha . . . I have no idea what you're talking about. How does it work?"

"Basically, it means that we can just dump all the shit that used to live in your PC onto the server, and that's that. Any changes or fixes are now done centrally on the server. And you access them all there as well."

"Oh. Does that work all right?"

"Oh, no, it's terrible. Christ, it's a fucking debacle. For you, anyway."

"What?"

"Some of these apps were built in-house, some were contracted out years ago, and frankly, there's some we don't even know how they run or what they do. Anyway, they all work terribly on Citrix from a user standpoint. Oh, and by the way, your monitor resolution is going to suffer a bit."

"How much is 'a bit'?"

"A lot."

"Oh. Uh . . . why are you doing this to me?"

"We hate you and don't want to see your ratlike faces any more. That's actually how Citrix markets their product: TORTURE PARASITIC END USERS WITH CITRIX! So now we can sit around and drink beer and still get paid! Haw! Isn't that a crotch-twister? Anyway, get cracking. You're going to have to explain to your co-workers how miserable their lives are going to become!"

"I, uh, see. Okay. Listen . . . is there like . . . instructions . . . or a tutorial or anything? Don't leave me totally ass-out here. Please?"

"Ooooh, of course. We wouldn't leave you dry like that." There were broad smiles all around. My old PC emitted noxious fumes as it burned. One of them leaned in close and leered. "There's a tutorial. Just access it through the server."

Thursday, 16 January
A Game of Jeopardy in Which the Category is My Unfortunate Life

A: All day.
Q: How long did I wear my sweater backwards at work today?

A: "Hey, I think your sweater is on backwards."
Q: What was not said to me to inform me of this?

A: "Wow, your neck is all chafed!"
Q: What was actually said to me to alert me of this?

A: "Jesus fucking Christ."
Q: What was my response to this realization?

A: My boss.
Q: Who was the person who heard me say this?

A: The head of the company.
Q: Who did my boss immediately tell of this incident to, while laughing loudly?

A: This guy right here.
Q: Who's classier than a solid gold toilet seat?

Wednesday, 15 January
The Icy Hand of Death Hogs the Remote

There is an advertisement on TV that has quickly vaulted onto my list of Things That Make Me Want To Set My Face On Fire. Perhaps you've seen it, which would explain the extensive facial scarring.

The scene opens up with a normal schlub sitting at his computer. Behind him stalks his clearly pregnant wife. She has the kind of face that suggests she has thus far spent her life spreading malice and despair; perhaps as a telemarketer or an angry Tiki god. It's hard to say. The guy wears a faintly haunted look that suggests the early stages of Stockholm Syndrome. Anyway, he's kind of dicking with his computer, tapping at it with the desultory air that men have at the keyboard when they know they won't be looking at pornography.

Then you hear a sound like old bones being gnawed by hungry ghouls. Oh, right, it's the wife speaking. "You know, starting a family means getting a new car," she hisses in a nice wifely way. It does? Never mind, you poor shithead! Run! Run while she's heavy with your unfortunate child! Start a new life as a lemur wrangler in Madagascar! Anything! Don't doom yourself to this!

"Right," he sighs, tapping away. Oh well. A weary voice-over is mumbling some baffling, meaningless horseshit, but you pay no attention, because of the vast horror of the scene unfolding.

She looks at the screen. "A sports car?" Her voice is loaded with poison. He hangs his head, and you hear his spine creak. It's like watching someone slowly being eviscerated. He fearfully clacks some more with his desperate fingers. The sad droning of the voice-over slouches into audibility again, drops off its hopeless freight of by-now irrelevant information, and recedes.

"A sedan?" She's all but filing her teeth now, and there's a screaming voice in your head. "A SEDAN IS FINE! A SEDAN IS FINE!" No, nothing is fine in this world. She speaks again, and somewhere birds fall dead. "We're talking . . . family." This last word spoken in a tone suggesting dark, religious overtones of a uniquely Faustian variety. Even the boneless schlub can't quite process this turn of events, and mounts a defense not unlike that of the Cincinnati Bengals. You want to cheer weakly when he turns in his chair to confront her, but it's too cruel to entertain hope now. You sit morosely, vaguely wondering why life is so terrible. But he has apparently picked up your madly broadcasting alpha wave message, because he despairingly reasons your very thoughts: "It's a sedan." Her implacable response comes like the distant croon of a lonely wraith. "It's too smaaa-aaalll."

"What . . . kind of family are we talking about?" he quavers, because now, like you, he is flailing around in a mind-shattering welter of panic and dread. What the fuck is going on? Marat/Sade is starting to look like a merry episode of Three's Company compared to this.

She grins with a mouthful of angry little teeth. She pulls something from an envelope, and you feel the temperature drop ten degrees; your blood is jellied mercury. She holds up a false-color sonogram showing . . . three babies. Three tiny incubating souls waiting to erupt into this dismal world, where horrors happen every day, horrors like this fucking commercial; and they will probably grow up to produce commercials like this; and they will cackle with mad laughter.

The man is now, you see, utterly pithed by this image. All lucidity sluices from him like so much cold water, and you see him give over into pure, gibbering surrender. On a fundamental level, he is no longer alive; he is now simply her automaton, to be maneuvered as thoughtlessly as a mannequin. He grins jerkily, and tries horribly to emulate human behavior. He clacks lifelessly at the keys. "A minivan," he jabbers in a stale voice. The beaten voice-over once more drifts into cognizance, and you manage to hear the perpetrators of this death-carnival. "Vehix.com," intones the voice, which, you can tell now, was recorded in a dank basement with no light and no hope of escape.

It's over. The commercial is over. And so are we all. These are the end times, and you can thank vehix.com.

Tuesday, 14 January
Barely Connected Thoughts That Utterly Fail to Hang Together

I was sitting around rehearsal tonight watching a scene in which a husband and a wife are playing a round of golf together. At one point, the husband walks onto the "green" where his wife is waiting for him, sees his ball, and comments, "Christ, what a lousy lie." Except that tonight he sauntered onstage and said, "Christ, what a lousy lay." And we all had to breathe into paper sacks for a while.

Lousy lays aside, golf is an eminently sensible sport. Really. I've only played about five times in my life, and I never intend to again, but I stand by my statement. Sensible; sensible and utterly right. There's only one other real sport I can think of that is as sensible and right as golf, and that is of course bowling. I submit to you that bowling and golf are the finest of sports, far and away, based on one thing. On-site booze.

On-site booze for the players! That's outstanding! Right-thinking and just! Did you just slice a drive off the fairway? Fuck it! Have a beer! Gutter ball the winning frame? Ehhhhh! Finish your manhattan! Alligators mauled your caddy? Wildly drive the little cart around in circles while whooping "I need a bottle of Absolut and a new caddy, stat!" And so forth.

Why haven't other sports picked up on this important nuance? I cannot think of a sport that would not be improved by fueling up the players, particularly stock-car racing. Everyone wants to see the crashes anyway. This way, there would be nothing but crashes. Everybody wins! Well, except the drivers, but fuck those crackers. This is America! If the populace wants booze-powered human fireballs, then that's what they'll get.

Monday, 13 January
Now the World is Just A Little More Boring

Well, after a long decline and a stint in the nursing home, my grandmother passed away this weekend. It was, to employ a cliche, not at all a surprise, and a bit of a relief, as a few strokes and Parkinson's had exacted their toll, not to mention her heroic battle with the marauding timberwolves.

As you might expect, she got a bit wacky towards the end, but she was a tough old broad. The last time I saw her, she had her moments of being with it, such as when Mom served her a thin, awful-looking cup of coffee, and she insisted on it "Hot and strong. Like my men." A naughty gleam in her eyes. Meanwhile at night she would get a little wonky and complain about odd events involving "tiny men." She claimed they were sneaking in and stealing her clothes. We would ask her who they were. "Mexicans. Tiny Mexicans. They wear stripes." It is this attention to sartorial detail that set her delusions apart from boring, mundane hallucinations. Fuck you, Woodstock Nation! My grandma sees striped Mexican midgets bent on fashion larceny!

She certainly made life interesting as a child. I would spend my summers in LA with her and my grandfather, both of them Estonian immigrants who fled Europe when the USSR annexed the Baltics. Unsurprisingly, they utterly loathed all Russians, and filled my young skull with long, lurid denunciations of the hated oppressors. Also being from the Old World, she had a compendium of folk superstitions that she good-heartedly terrified and warped me with. Here's a few of the howlers that she told me as a kid. There's no way I'm going to tell you how long I held some of these nuggets as gospel.

1. Whistling inside the house is evil and invites bad luck. Ooookay.

2. If you sleep with your underwear on, you will cut off your blood supply to your legs (and, it did not need hinting at, other things). For a long time I slept naked, rubbing my ostensibly oxygen-starved legs before I dozed off to improve circulation.

3. If you do the (admittedly disgusting) trick of snorting the snot back up your nose and then swallowing it, it will just sit in your stomach, forever. This one was a real peach, as I was haunted by the image of an ageless, indestructible wad of goo forever sloshing around poisonously in my gut.

And on and on. But like many immigrants, certain aspects of American life she took to with an erratic, half-assed glee. One year, when she was about sixty, I guess, she announced she wanted a new car, and bang, out the door she went. Everyone waited for her to return with the Oldsmobile, the Caddy, you know. You can see where this is going. She rolled up in a cherry-red Camaro muscle car, with her tiny homonculus fists clutching the steering wheel and her gleaming eyes staring squarely at the dashboard. She was a fucking terror in that thing, too, because she couldn't drive at all. She had a carefree, sphincter-loosening way of conversing with you as she drove down the freeway, nearly facing you full on, leaving in her wake blood-curdling oaths, vows of vengeance, and smoking, twisted piles of metal and blackening human flesh. I was in the car with her once in a parking lot and she drove over one of those little concrete abutments for your tires; we were doing about thirty. After I climbed out of the glove box, I noticed that she hadn't stopped, and was looking at me with high humor. "This car," she said in her great accent, "has very good suspension."

And one final memory--or story, rather--that I take with me and put into that place reserved for things that you're never, ever allowed to forget. Near the end, Emmy (that's what I called her, and lay off)--who was multilingual--started babbling everything in Estonian, which meant that only her husband and my dad could understand her. My mom spent days and days pleading with her to please, please don't speak Estonian, she can't understand! Nuts to that. The Estonian kept coming. Finally, after a solid week, Emmy caved.

And started speaking German. So now nobody could understand a fucking word she said. Hearing that just made me laugh and laugh. She always traveled her own road, and it was a long road, and, I think, a good one. It leads to the same damn place that all the roads end up at, but not everyone gets there in a fine red sports car, a fast, crazy car that could go anywhere she wanted to until, alas, the suspension finally gave out.

Friday, 10 January
I'm The Good Kind of Whore!

I started working on a new show this week; AR Gurney's Far East. And if I am not mistaken, tonight I will be given a paycheck. A paycheck! For acting! Weekly! This is a great feeling; it's like at the end of the week, they're so moved by my artistic prowess, they'd love to give me an enthusiastic handjob, but it wouldn't quite be proper, so here's a check. Fools! With that check, I can buy several handjobs!

Most of the time in "fringe" theater (read: community theater without the bored housewives), you get a "stipend" at the end of the run. A stipend can mean anywhere from a hundred bucks down to, uh, simple good will. (Rarely a handjob. Those happen during the cast parties, and are not considered taxable income.) And I do appreciate them; I understand that these producers are doing the best they can, and I'm certainly not doing this for the riches.

But a paycheck! I can't get over it. When I get home tonight, I'm going to throw it on the bed and roll around on it, Scrooge McDuck-style. Then I'll probably have to peel it off my back and iron it. That's cool. Paycheck!

And what did I do to earn it? Of the four hours I spent at the theater last night, approximately fifteen minutes of my time was spent onstage "working" (read: acting, so technically, not working). In fact, I was literally taking my first steps onstage to say my very first line when the stage manager called out: "Okay, we're done, folks, time to go home!" And everyone laughed at me, because I was standing there onstage with my metaphorical dick in my proverbial hands. Laugh away, suckers! I'm the one getting a paycheck for sitting around eating potato chips and taking luxurious smoke breaks!

It's incredible to have a job where they pay you good money to sit around and not do anything. It's even more incredible to have two of them. The grass is always greener, though. Somewhere, someone is getting a handjob.

Some Celebrities Should Have Ad Slogans

Cate Blanchett: "Stealing Roles From Tilda Swinton Since 1998!"

Kate Winslet: "Pay Me to Take Off My Bra and I Throw in the Panties for Free!"

Sandra Bullock: "Why Have Jumbalaya When You Can Have Plain Rice?"

Jm J Bullock: "Are You Going To Finish That Sandwich?"

Aaron Sorkin: "Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat."

Andrea Dworkin: "Get Away From That Sandwich, Jm J Bullock!"

Wednesday, 08 January
Soon My Ugliness Will Be Assessed

Tomorrow I have an appointment with my optometrist. Pro: I'm leaving work early. Con: I'm doing this to willingly have an unctious person jab erratically at my eyes while asphyxiating me with aggressively minty breath.

Nothing good ever happens at the eye doctor, and I'm an authority on this, because I've been blind as a turnip since fourth grade. I've been to a lot of optometrists, and I think I know the problem. Let's admit it: they are not real doctors. They are a rung up from podiatrists, who are the Mortimer Snerds of doctordom. Okay, urologists and proctologists get their share of guff, but they also get points for sheer determination and bravery. You gonna get into a bar fight with a bunch of pissed off proctologists? I don't think so. They know exactly how to hurt you.

Optometrists don't really dispense useful advice: I know I can't see. I even know I'm nearsighted. I see stuff up close okay, far away stuff is blurry. I can look this up! So he's not telling me anything fresh. Every now and then I want to pointedly say, "Listen, doctor, what about this lump in my groin?" I imagine he'd look thoughtful for a moment and then say, "That's your penis."

But optometrists do try and sell you stuff. Doctors--real doctors--do this too, but they're selling drugs, and hey, sure, I'll buy some. But optometrists try and sell you expensive bullshit based on the "you're ugly" factor. Sure. You could go for the 2-for-$29 frames sitting in a fish bucket in the bathroom. But you won't, and to be fair, who wants to? They all look like they were made by the Mafia. No, you'll let the blandly pretty woman make you try on all the designer frames and squintily assess your face with each one. "Hmmm. Your eyes are so unique. I want to find just the right thing for them." Of course my eyes are unique; I'm fucking blinder than Oedipus. What she's implying is, "Those frames make you look kind of ugly." And it works, because I'm kind of a funny-looking neurotic guy.

I'm embarrassed to say how much I spent on my last set of glasses: around $600 (insurance picked some of this up). Okay, that's fucking stupid. I'm wearing a used car on my face, and the glasses won't last as long as a used car. The truth is, they don't even look like six hundred bucks. They look like fucking glasses. Now of course I know that they're made out of honey-glazed molybdenum steel and were polished by the hot breath of a Scandinavian bra model--or whatever the blandly pretty woman said--but nobody else does. Maybe if they played Supertramp mp3s or something, that would be tangible, I could demonstrate that. "I love your glasses!" someone would say meaninglessly, and then I could excitedly reply, "Want to hear 'The Logical Song?' " And then the other person would look puzzled and say, "Nobody wants to hear 'The Logical Song.' "

So that's a bad example. But you see what I mean.

I Laugh at the Suffering of Others

Working as I do for a cancer research facility, I see a lot of medical charts. Now of course due to confidentiality laws, I cannot actually reveal any information that would identify anyone, or anything about the research itself. But I can say that reviewing those charts (1) quickly instills within one an abiding taste for gallows humor and (2) ordinary people can be and frequently are total heroes and (3) ordinary people can be and frequently are total wackjobs.

There are the chart notes. "Physical exam unremarkable. Patient has no testicles." I would guess that the fellow in question would not use the term "unremarkable" to describe the state of things. "Pussy wound." I stared at this for a long time before I realized that "pussy" is perhaps not the best term for "producing pus." And then there's the simple mistakes. "Patient suffers from dyspnea. Grade 5." The first thing you should know is that in the system used to grade toxicities, a grade 5 means it was fatal. The second thing you should know is that dyspnea means "shortness of breath." I guess your breath doesn't get much shorter than that.

There is also the treatments themselves, some of which seemed to have been invented purely to test a human's capacity for mind-shattering horror. One patient I remember evidently wasn't consented thoroughly enough, or was too flipped out to pay attention to the definition of "intrathecal delivery." So she was a bit put off when she came to realize on the first day of treatment that it means "a large needle is put into your spinal column." She politely refused treatment by screaming the medical staff to death. Many patients feel their gumption wane ever so slightly as well when presented with the joyous prospect of a bone marrow biopsy. "Do you mind terribly if we insert this large-bore needle into your (pause for sinister emphasis) pelvic bone? You know, the thick excruciating part. We sometimes have to get a Samoan to jump on it to force it in properly."

And naturally there's just the inexplicable. One woman sailed through her diagnosis, agreed to a clinical trial, signed the consent form, and then promptly moved. To Iceland. This was thoroughly successful in terms of putting off treatment. Another dry chart note told the story of a person thusly: "Patient is nonsmoker, nondrinker. Unremarkable exam. Patient occasionally participates in blood sharing rituals." "Unremarkable" is a favorite term in medical charts. I just guess I don't know what it actually means.

Monday, 06 January
I Throw A Bunch of Crap in a Pot and Consequently Suffer Mental Imbalances

I made a pot roast last night, and boy was it edible! It was consumable from front to back. It had an adequate crust and a passable texture, because, if I may say so, I cooked it competently, and if anyone tells you different, you stab them right in the groin and scream, "I'm no fool, motherfucker! Skot has competence coming right out of his ass!" Then, you know, plea bargain, I guess, because hey, you stabbed someone, dummy. Man, what's wrong with you?

Anyway, the pot roast was fine, but as usual, I overcooked the fucking thing. I have some odd culinary blind spot that relates only to pot roasts; I'm thinking of seeing a specialist. Perhaps Dr. Phil. "Dr. Phil," I'll say, "I always overcook my fucking pot roasts. What the hell?" And he'll bare his great blockish teeth at me, and the studio lights will glint icily off his pate, and he'll give me some warmed-over bootstrapping bowl of bullshit about self-empowerment and relate a humorous, folksy anecdote involving a small-town car mechanic and a rooster, and the audience will roar at the dumb boob who can't muster up the fucking gumption to lay off the heat on his damn pot roasts, for God's sake. And I'll just be sitting there going, "Rooster? Who is this pervert?" But no, they'll cut to commercial, and the director will crabscuttle over to me and plead with me not to say "fucking" so much on national television.

So that's no help.

Well, the next step is obvious. I need Peggy Noonan. Why didn't I think of this before? So, yeah! I'll stroll up to her on the street, where she's out stuffing beggars into Hefty bags, and I'll breezily say, "So, Peggy, I cooked the fucking shit out of another pot roast last night. It looked like a goddamn meteorite. Christ!" I'll kind of shriek that last bit, so she knows I'm serious about this. She'll fix me with a wise, sad look, and let the mumbling Hefty bag slither to the ground. "When we cook, we nourish. You nourish yourself, and so you nourish society; you float up and out into the neighborhood in this way; a mournful waltz heard through rippling muslin. Take up your pot roast, and in so doing, you take up society's pot roast. Skot, take up all of our pot roasts, take them up and sing." She'll lay a gentle hand on my shoulder, and say farewell. "I must go," she'll coo, "there are so many beggars." I'll stand there, touched and mesmerized.

"Tomorrow," I'll whisper, tears of confusion sparkling on my cheeks, "I'm cooking chicken."

Friday, 03 January
A Found Tone Poem Composed Entirely of Email Subject Lines I Have Received Today

SERIOUS ADVERSE EVENTS

could not find path
Even Steven goes to war
yay us.

Error lights and daughter windows
Once again terribly remiss . . .
Hey
Have you heard of HGH oral spray?
Hey Hey

I'm not a virus, I promise!
This room of . . . This Room and This Gin and These Sandwiches
Cost of living

Today
That's why you're hearing ducks
vintage hats are now GONE

Houston, we have a problem . . .

Thursday, 02 January
The Breasts in the Machine

At a bar close to my home--wonderful bar! Strong, cheap drinks; and only one scary regular, but get this: he's a lightweight! He goes home plastered by 7:00 all the time. I can't decide if he's the most successful lush in Lushworld or its saddest failure. Who can't love a bar with a mysterious, paradoxical scary regular? By the way, he does, however, hew closely to the Immutable Law of Barflies: Steve Miller Must Be Played and Played Often. I hardly have to point out that without barflies, Steve Miller would to this day be toiling in obscurity or idly carving "eat me warden" on the wall of some desert gulag, but no, he had to go be their fucking patron saint.

They have something else there at the bar: the MegaTouch. You've seen these; they're basically these cathode ray tubes with touch-sensitive screens, because, you know, you can't ever get enough of other peoples' hand grease on your digits. You can play about a thousand different games on these things, some that seem to have been devised by febrile sociopaths. Why is there an enormous wall of tiny cartoony movie monsters all stacked on each other in neat columns, and why does jabbing some of them with your finger make a whole bunch of them turn into bats and fly away? Nobody knows. Want to play air hockey, but without the air or the hockey? You can! Want to do a word find where the hidden words are all related to metallurgy? Jesus Christ, of course not.

I myself am addicted to two pretty mindless card gamelets, one called Tri Towers and the other 11-Up. They are exactly as tedious as their titles, so I won't bore you with any descriptions, nor any justifications as to why I enjoy them, which is a relief, because there are no plausible justifications of that sort. But these of course are not the reasons MegaTouch exists. Of course not. MegaTouch exists for the "Erotic" games.

Of course we're talking boobs here. There are the gal-(and gay fella-)friendly "Men" options, but you never see it being used. No, guys play things like Strip Poker and Spot-The-Difference and Sex Trivia ("How many quarts of semen does the average man ejaculate in a year?" Please don't tell me!) for one reason, and that's to see some breasts. Now I'm all for this, don't get me wrong--I delight in breasts. But it just kills me that in the Golden Age of Available Porn (thanks, Internet!), guys will still sit around in a bar and hoot at the prospect of catching a chaste glimpse of a model's tits that looks like it was shot in 1974 on someone's front porch in Hoboken. Girls and the gay fellas, if they ever play, of course, are not blessed with the dubious honor of getting to look at any shriveled, embarrassed penises. That would be lewd. But boobs, you bet! Boobs! The guy could easily go home and fire up Google and have his most exacting, specialized set of personal fetishes catered to in seconds--for free, or he's not trying very hard--but somehow the prospect of winning a brief shot of some pixilated melons in a bar still lures him.

I'm sure someone will be delighted to barf up their current thesis on the pervasive sexualization of our consumerist culture, or the double standard of acceptability re: the objectification of gender, or the unremitting onslaught of the televisual media into every cranny of our lives, but these arguments will probably all make me feverishly wish for a drink. So I'll go down there and order some food and a beer and maybe play some Tri Towers for a while. I know I won't play any of the erotica games, because I never do. But then I'll think, "Man, what if they ever decide to just stick Google on these things?"

Things fall apart.

Wednesday, 01 January
Spider-Man Can and Should Be Your Life

I have been enjoying one of my Christmas gifts very much: Spider-Man for the Game Cube. I've been enjoying it on a number of levels.

One is obvious: it allows me more time to ignore distractions like books, spending time with my mate, culture, movies, and the outside world. Where I once wasted ridiculous amounts of time interacting with "other people," now I only interact with one thing: Spider-Man. I mean, what would you rather do, be a superhero, or eat a nourishing meal? There's no contest. Plus I'm shedding pesky pounds, which is important when you've allowed yourself to bloat up to a fearsome 150 pounds. I'm 5'9", and I'm thinking that Spider-Man is really going to help me hit my ideal weight of 89 pounds in just a couple weeks.

Another thing I've rediscovered is my own fragile mortality. Spider-Man really brings this home for me, because I spend a lot of time dying. A lot of time. Whether it's plummeting 150 feet down to the pavement because I ran out of web fluid, or being mercilessly beaten to death by inept goons, or simply running directly into a blazing fire--three times--I realized "Man, I could go at any time. Dying would really cut into my time spent playing Spider-Man. I'd better not run into any large, blazing fires." And so I become smarter. I can't wait to get to the Green Goblin--probably in about nine years or so, if I stay clear of those dumb, unarmed, unskilled deathbringing goons I mentioned before--because he is going to kill me in so many numerous, inventive ways. I can't fucking wait!

Finally, what I've really discovered is my ability to overcome; I have, if I may, an indomitable will. My singlemindedness has empowered me to pooh-pooh challenges such as fiery, weeping bedsores on my buttocks; the plaintive cries of my fiancee to please, please speak to her; and powerful starvation-induced hallucinations. (It hampers gameplay when the inept goons all suddenly look like Tommy Smothers, and then they swarm out of the TV and start gnawing on your pale ankles while singing "Disco Duck.")

So I recommend that everyone get this game. It will make you wiser. It will make you a better person. It will make you oblivious to the needs of--or, really, existence of--other people. And we all know what Sartre said about other people: they're nice, but they're sure as hell not Spider-Man. And Sartre was a pretty happy guy.










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