skot AT izzlepfaff DOT com
Monday, 31 March
Hard At Work
Spammers are getting desperate, it would seem. That or just more fucking fiendish; I'm part of a couple of my workplace's group mailing lists for the cancer committees I work on: lymphomas and gynecological cancers, to be specific. So today I was sitting at my computer with one of my bosses hanging out, because I was showing him some programming errors I'd found (this is a large part of my job too--the programmers build an incredibly sophisticated program for us, and I sit there and flail away at it like an angry caveman until it breaks), when I got a new email. "Hang on a sec," I said, and opened it, noticing that it was addressed to "gynquestion@whereskotworks," and thinking that hey, someone out there has a question about one of my protocols.
WANT TO TRADE PIXXX? HOTTEST ON THE NET!
"I say we check it out," I told my supervisor, "I'm kind of horny." In my mind I said that, anyway.
The spam-bastards had obviously keyed into the "gyn" part of the email and decided, hey, anyone who has to deal with at least the abstract idea of female crotches all day long probably is in need of some grounding in the topic, so have some beaver shots, my friend!
Work overall is getting kind of eerie and fearsome these days. Tomorrow, unbelievably, we have picture day. This is because there is some whacking great meeting coming up where all the doctors and nurses and research associates and us get together and glad-hand and confer and wither slowly during PowerPoint presentations and assure each other that we still have good jobs because nobody's cured cancer yet. And for some reason, this involves taking everybody's picture in our office, just like in sixth grade, and then displaying them all over the place, like we're Wal-Mart employees and our field researchers are in need of cheap toilet paper. I don't get it. I know for a fact that nobody out there gives a technicolor fuck what I look like, and I fervently reciprocate this feeling. "Hi, Skot, it's Jodie from University of Rochester." "Oh? Describe yourself to me." "Uh, well, I'm a part-time cocktail waitress with an interest in adult modeling . . . "
Doubtful. Let me just assure you that there is a reason you don't see a lot of cheese- or beefcake calendars that say anything like "Bikini Oncologists." Unless you're talking about me, of course, because I'm hotter than fucking acetylene. Want to trade pixxx? Hottest on the net.
Friday, 28 March
Ask Mr. Computer! (That's Me.)
Q: Mr. Computer, I noticed that your internet site was fucked all to hell for a while. What happened? Do you have pears in your head?
It's an excellent question. From what I can tell, the DNS was hacked at the root, causing a whole series of parsing errors. When your web bursar pinged my site, the apaches script gave out with problems, so you got the usual thing. I am taking the whole thing up with the server, and there might be legal action.
Q: Help! The people over at Metafilter are angry! I haven't seen this before. Is it usual? Thank you for being smarter than Christ, Mr. Computer.
You are welcome. The people at Metafilter are strange and radioactive, and you should never attempt to visit there without at least Netscape 4.0 and counseling. Sometimes they put porno there and that will get into your hard drive, but you can stop this by packing magnets around your CPU (the big box you hide your whisky bottle in). Anyway, you can make friends at Metafilter by talking about packet swtiching or ugly fat people or just by mentioning my name, because they think I'm fucking great. Slashpot is another stupid place too.
Q: Hey, Mr. Computer, I was talking to a chat room today and the chat room told me to stfu. What the heck? I think the world is crazy with things like this and you should help me.
Don't worry at all, I can help. When you were having computer sex a sex hacker saw you, because they look for that and use software to find it. The hacker was trying to log your sex with a Secured-Text File Upload so he could stream it on his bandwidth and post it to his own internet. Sometimes they even trade them so they can all whack it to different stuff; it is pretty sick. So this time you got burned, and it happens, but in the future you should make sure your computer sex uses an encryption key, which you can get pretty easy at Best Buy.
Q: stfu mr computer u r a dumbass if u think u no what u r tlaking about. u talk about shit u dont even understand u retard, so i guess that makes u mr retard heh. stfu
Nice try, Mr. Sex Hacker! You always have to be vigilant on the World's Wide Web. Don't worry about me folks, he is using the wrong font for my system! That's why some of the commands he is executing are not being rendered properly in my bursar. It may look different in Mazilla if your tabs are not set too.
Q: I click links like you say, but all the time I think,What the fuck is going on? WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?
Now you're getting it. You are a shaman. This is how you net around.
Thursday, 27 March
The Fine Art Of Hemorrhaging Money
It's a little silly given that I have a honeymoon to deal with first--including those dick-twisters who create the nonsensical airfare bafflemazes (aren't they supposed to be going broke, for Christ's sake?)--but I've been feeling a jones to get back to Our Nation's Most Appealing Cesspool, Las Vegas. It's a little hard to write about a place that was seemingly covered back to front by a certain Mr. Hunter Thompson, but hey, that was thirty years ago, and goddamn it, I love the place, even while I fully understand that the whole thing is a glutinous, cynical, cardboard fuck-factory that eats the weak and picks its marquee teeth with the bones.
The last time I was there was about a year ago, when I went down with about a dozen friends for a birthday jaunt. So we threw our Antabuse pills into the dumpster and hopped on America West (aka Afterthought Airlines) for a couple of hours before being kicked out into McCarran Airport's cheerless smoke 'n wait 'n slot desmesnes. Then a quick taxi-cram to our hotels (Paris for the birthday boy, Bally's next door for the rest of us), hurl our shit onto the bed and off to the Strip we scampered.
I can understand why people would object to the atmosphere of--or even idea of--someplace as fundamentally perverse and crass as Vegas, but I still maintain that if you can't get over it long enough to even have a tiny bit of fun there, you're just being obstinant. At the very least you can people watch: the racked-out trophy dates (or brides); the loutish, appalling white trash tourists; the horrid old-person-shaped giant funguses rooted in front of the slots. You can at least enjoy these things ironically, can't you? Hey, is that a really attractive hooker? Or a pretty showgirl? Or a knockout cocktail waitress? Answer: it is a man in drag.
Over the course of our visit, we of course went all over the place. I always like to visit the desperately terrible Excalibur casino, if only to walk into the joint. Entering visitors "enjoy" (when it's working) a moving conveyor belt while your ears are entertained by actors with awful plummy Olde Englishesque accents trumpet nonsense about the "MERLIN'S MAGIC!" being on your side as you gleefully yank the nickel slots. Meanwhile, on either side of the belt are two concrete alleys: these are for people leaving the casino, on foot, not as the Vegas Gods intended, which would be in either a limo or an ambulance. No, people exiting the casino in such an ignominious fashion not only walk out on their two sad loser feet, they walk past the glorious soon-to-be-winners who only have to stand there and be whisked inside without any perilous effort at all. Nothing else in the town for me sums up so succinctly what I think of as Vegas' unspoken credo: LOSERS WALK.
At one point, a bunch of us decided to take a walking tour of wherever we led ourselves, with the idea that we'd just grab drinks wherever we were moved to. Unbeknownst to me at the time, a couple of them had some ecstasy, which they had gulped down (because yeah, in Vegas, you need heightened senses to pick out the subtle details, like the twenty-foot tall billboard showing a winged, double-dicked incubus sportfucking the Barbii twins on top of a Humvee). This led to trouble for one of our merry band; we settled down in some piano bar in the Venetian, and K. seemed jumpy and tense, and it was a little odd that he was wearing sunglasses, but whatever. We'd been carousing for two days, and we were all feeling kind of soul-mashed anyway. But what was going on with K. was, the ecstasy was warping his perceptions, and he kept catching a sideward glance of this tiny Asian woman at a nearby Pai-Gow table. She was enthusiastic about the game, and loud as hell, and she'd toss the dice in the shaker and wave it over her head and scream "PAI-GOW!" K., we found out later, was under the impression that she was staring directly at him as she did this, and that the screams of "PAI-GOW!" were some kind of terrible tooth-baring threat, and the dice sounded like bones rattling in a crypt, and that every time she screamed afresh, she was implacably inching closer and closer to him. K. held himself together all right, but I can still make him flinch by bugging out my eyes and howling with menacing cheer, "PAI-GOW!"
In the end, we naturally lost all of our fucking money--especially heart-tugging were the losses of C., the birthday boy, who went bottomlessly broke so quickly that the process seemed to require the employment of tachyons--and when we finally hit the airport to return home, we looked and felt like wraiths. "I feel like death's chilly asshole," I moaned when I hit the seat. "Me too," said the fiancee. "I can't wait to come back."
Wednesday, 26 March
THE NOBLE GASES are the student council. HELIUM is the nice guy who will come out of the closet in college. XENON is the ridiculously hot salutatorian candidate who is also a minister's daughter; she will resist all romantic advances until the senior graduation party, when she'll get drunk and make out with KRYPTON, captain of the glee club, who is resultantly quite gleeful indeed. Nobody likes NEON, who unsurprisingly goes into pre-law.
BORON is the nose tackle for the football team. He doesn't like to be called "Bo," so nobody does.
RUBIDIUM is the quiet kid who draws all the time and sometimes has unpleasant diabetic reactions. Nobody will remember his name after graduation.
The ACTINOIDS run the A/V club, and sometimes, when the coast is clear, put illicit slides of Bettie Page into the projector and honk at the images. They are furtive and sly and fearful of VANADIUM, who for reasons known only to himself, stalks the hapless Actinoids with single-minded fury, and has a penchant for dishing out cruel titty-twisters.
YTTRIUM is the foreign exchange student who roams the halls with a quizzical half-smile on his face, wondering why nobody will talk to him. (Because he's different, of course.) Finally, gregarious SODIUM one day invites him to a party, where he stuns everyone with his unearthly capacity for alcohol. BISMUTH vomits unceremoniously into a houseplant.
BERYLLIUM has a sniggering reputation for terrible flatulence that isn't really justified, but rather lives on through the typically cruel rumormongering so prevalent amongst teenagers. He will show up for the ten year anniversary driving a BMW, feeling pretty good, but will nonetheless be tormented with an onslaught of fart jokes anyway.
TUNGSTEN is just as comfortable smoking in the parking lot with HAFNIUM as he is playing D&D with dorks like LAWRENCIUM and TIN. He is friend to many and enemy to none; sort of the polar opposite of the widely loathed STRONTIUM, who resembles a malignant ox.
NIOBIUM reads Sylvia Plath, and is aggressively upfront about her sexual proclivities. She will briefly run away from home with the sinister and violence-prone COBALT, but will return amidst vague, hoarse rumors of gunplay and extradition, none true. They just ran out of money.
SELENIUM will break your heart every day if you let her, and you do.
You are IRIDIUM, bright and rare and largely unnoticed, and you're just all fucking right with me.
We hang out with MOLYBDENUM, so there's usually no trouble. Let's go play pinball.
Tuesday, 25 March
I Have Saved The Universe Many Times
Growing up in (mostly) rural Idaho and being an only child as I was, at an early age I got pretty proficient at keeping myself entertained. I had Andy, my good dog, to keep me company--and what company! He was a German Shepherd/Collie/St. Bernard/Malamute mix, so he was fucking huge--and of course I also had the great in- and outdoors; most of these efforts at self-amusement I now see as an adult were incredibly death-courting. I'm honestly stunned I made it past age ten. I found once an old abandoned buried water tank on our property; I thought it would be neat to crawl down inside and look for salamanders, delightfully heedless of the fact that once I dropped down the eight feet to the floor, I had no good chance of getting back up. After a couple hours of terrified, useless screaming, I literally rock-climbed my way up by finding teeny niches in the old concrete to hold on to, probably abetted by massive amounts of fear-adrenaline shrieking through my veins. We also had a barn on the property, and I spent hours dicking around in there, and it chills me to remember confidently strolling around on the thick 12" x 12" rafters that crossed the barn fifteen feet in the fucking air. I used to run across them, pretending to be Spider-Man. There's simply no good reason I'm not a fading stain on the concrete floor.
On the non-lethal side of things, I of course spent a good amount of time playing in my room. Like a lot of boys, I had a jones for action figures--you know, dolls. And also like a lot of boys, they were a motley bunch, culled here and there from various toy lines demarcated by whatever passing obsession I happened to hold at any given moment. But that didn't matter, because whatever the little guys originally were marketed as, they were renamed and reinvented by my own imagination when I felt that their original purpose was lacking. I invented whole mythologies for the little bastards and had them act out elaborate (by my reckoning) dramas, roughly along the lines of the SuperFriends or, much cooler in my opinion, the Justice League of America.
For example, Star Wars figures were obviously hugely popular around this time, and sure enough, I had a couple. I had a Stormtrooper figure, a little plastic white guy around four or five inches tall. But the thing is, being a faceless, expendable guard-dork doesn't make for much superheroing, so I renamed him The METEOR! The Meteor's origin was thus: he was some astronaut guy (I know I gave them all "secret identities," but I don't remember those) who was testing a brand new super whip-ass combat/supersoldier/outer space suit and he was kind of cruising around in space somewhere giving the thing a test ride when ALL OF A SUDDEN! (and this kills me to remember that I concocted this) he has, like, the most wildly improbable thing happen to him when he is caught dead smack in the middle of a collision between two meteors. What, he didn't have enough room in deep space to get the fuck out of the way? Talk about being in the most incredibly wrong place at the most unbelievable time EVAR. But hey, I was a kid. Anyway, as if that bunch of horseshit wasn't enough, this incredible blast obviously didn't kill the poor fucker, but instead it somehow fused the suit to his body! This gave him some pathos: so now the guy was a superhero (The Meteor! Or, uh, somebody really fucked over by two meteors, but never mind), but he'd LOST HIS HUMANITY and could never feel the sweet touch of a spring breeze on his skin, etc. etc. I constructed lots of scenarios where The Meteor, a fundamentally good guy, would periodically freak out and and protest to the heavens and pick fights and stuff, because I thought it made him complicated or something. I really liked The Meteor; he was certainly cooler than some mook who gets ignominiously shot in the first reel by a goddamn Wookie.
I also had a Luke Skywalker figure, a much more tragic story, because it was just a guy in a white tunic, and who fucking cares about that? He became even more pathetic once I lost the little red piece of plastic that served for his light saber, so I hit upon a solution: Luke was the perennial victim, for whom my team of heroes would rally around when (always, always) in peril. So Luke got kidnapped a lot, and my heroes would stage a massive battle and save the little turd, over and over, and it kind of got boring after a while. Then I began to hate Luke a little, because, Jesus, can't this fucking putz do anything other than get kidnapped? Of course he could: he could die. It was great! So from then on, Luke was the victim of countless unspeakable crimes, and suffered countless horrible deaths, each of which would either (a) drive a member of the team mad with vengeful fury or (b) drive the entire team of heroes mad with vengeful fury, depending on how ambitious I was feeling on that day. So useless Luke still served a function: eternal whipping boy, fated only for cruel kidnappings or horrifically fatal barbarities.
I also had a Boba Fett figurine, but Boba Fett was so fucking cool, he was just Boba Fett, and I was happy with that.
Micronauts were also big deals when I was a kid, and sure enough, I had me a cool blue one with wings. So he was the Blue Angel (yeah, yeah, Marlene Deitrich, shaddup); he was some alien guy from someplace unimaginably far away, like the planet Cleveland or something. He could fly, obviously, because he had this cool flip-up wing attachment that was just greater than shit, until I lost the damn wings, and then I was kind of stuck with what to do with him until I decided fuck it, he could still fly anyway. He was all but indestructible, and could shoot mysterious power bolts from his hands; I decided this almost immediately because Micronaut hands were sort of three-quarters curled into fists for gripping little always-lost ancillary toys, but they also looked perfect for generating blast rays that would shoot out from the palms of his hands.
I also had--you know it!--super-villains. One was a sort of planet-eating bastard modeled on Galactus named ROM. Remember ROM (I realize here that good portions of this post will be gibberish to a lot of women)? He was the coolest damn thing I remember having; a giant battery-operated silver guy with a whole boatload (well, three) of gadgets that would blink and make ooky noises. He had a jetpack and an audible Vaderish breath-noise and a distinctly Cylon-like set of red blinking eyes. Basically, Parker Brothers just ripped off every single sci-fi thing they could think of and dumped it into this fucker. He was great, and would inevitably nearly, almost, but not quite totally destroy my team of good guys, or their Hall of Justiceish Place, or the Earth, or whatever in these terribly epic battles that could last for hours. But he never succeeded, of course, except with Luke, whom he gruesomely killed many, many times.
I also had this weird thing called Baron Karza that I don't remember where the hell I got. Baron Karza was another big robotish thingy with a kind of Camelot 2578 AD feel to him, but he had a kink: his arms and his legs were held on by magnets. I have no idea why. But this was pretty cool for my aforementioned epic battles; inevitably, Karza would be thundering about my heroes' IMPENDING DOOM, MORTALS! or whatever, and then the Blue Angel would come up with some devastating mot juste and hit the bastard with an energy ray, which would sever the foul Baron's arm or leg or head and he'd scream NOOOOOO! Or maybe he ticked off The Meteor by killing Luke for the millionth time, and The Meteor, wracked by a mad frenzy of grief and sadness would yell THIS IS FOR LUKE, YOU INHUMAN MONSTER! and smash him right in the gut and all his arms and legs would fly off from the impact, and The Meteor would kneel, spent from the effort of avenging his useless and dead pal.
You'll be terribly surprised to learn that I was really bad with the girls all through high school. Comic books and sci-fi movies have a lot to answer for.
Monday, 24 March
Prance! Prance For Me, Celebrities!
Yesterday the fiancee and I did the big obvious thing and watched the Oscars; a couple friends of ours have a large annual party, so a couple dozen of mostly theater people got together for an old-fashioned evening of unwise pre-Monday drinking and outraged howling at the television set. We also participated in the usual voting pool, where we both naturally lost. E., the little bastard who won, had set the tone of the evening earlier by showing up with his "theme dish:" a half-case of "About Schmidts."
J. and S., our hosts, were of course also enabling our profligate behavior; unfortunately, so was I. The house drink of the night was Manhattans, and I had brought along a couple quarts of Bloody Mary mix and a jug of vodka; there was also lots of beer, not to mention certain people other than myself making stealthy trips out to the balcony clutching lighters and sinister pipes. (Of course, by "stealthy" I mean "publicly;" a la, "I'm gonna go get high. Anyone want to come?")
The food was also good. There was fondue, and cheese and sausages, and at one point my friend C.--who had proudly started drinking as early as possible--hauled out a homemade deep-dish pizza that looked like a fucking geological core sample of the Umbrian countryside. In addition, our host J. is an aspiring pastry chef, so he kept rolling out various fiendish tarts and choco-whatsits and all sorts of addling sweets. So we weren't hurting for food and drink, unless one was in search of something remotely healthy, in which case that someone would have been laughed at raucously and then dragged out onto the balcony, and then probably would have had a belladonna suppository forced on them, or something equally deranged.
So the Oscars eventually started, and with it of course came the real sport: viciously mocking everything about them. C. got the ball rolling early on when he spotted the very pregnant Catherine Zeta-Jones (like you could avoid the photographer's loving downshots of her rollicking uberbreasts), and shouted, "Hey, she's not thin! Lose some weight, fattie!" On the other side of the equation, I noticed a certain cooling-off of my longstanding crush on Renee Zelwegger (which originated with Bridget Jones' Diary), because she now looks like a piece of utility grade flank steak with a smile-shaped klieg light mounted on it, blasting out THIN-RAYS all over fucking creation, because Christ knows that a dry, desiccated woman is the only kind of tolerable woman. Sigh.
Anyway, things proceeded apace, and we were having a good time; we enjoyed Steve Martin's calculated viciousness, for the most part, and suffered through all the contest categories that we had utterly no idea how to vote for: short form animation, sound editing, most enthusiastic fluffer, etc. And also the no-brainers, such as visual effects, where even on the small screen it was obvious that The Two Towers made Spider-Man look like it was made by hydrocephalic, piebald donkeys. Foreign films? None of us had seen any of them, of course, not because we wouldn't enjoy them, but because when you do a bunch of shows it makes it hard to get out and see any fucking movies in the first place, and when it comes to choosing between Chicago and, say, Klimt et Pjuk der Gotterdammerung, what do you suppose your average actor is going to pick? Unless you're my friends K. and E., who delight in getting stoned and going to see horrors like Dude, Where's My Car?, an experience that in my opinion still counts as seeing a foreign film.
Then, as everyone now knows, including people trapped alive under miles of glacial ice, the Michael Moore Thing happened. It was another no-brainer vote for Best Documentary, and we waited suspenselessly for his name to be called, and plus nobody in the fucking world saw any of the other films anyway, so it was, and here came good old professionally pugnacious Mike, jowling up to the mic and wasting no time in unleashing his barbless screed to a suddenly booing audience. My friends, lefties all--as am I, mostly--loved it and cheered him on, but it made me sad and angry and despairing. Is this guy the best we can do? He's just a carping, bloviating sack of crap, a tiresome pedagogue loudmouthing his way into the public arena with hoary nonjokes and toothless nips at our Prez about "fictitious elections" and duct tape references. Fresh, tough stuff, Mike! It really raises the level of discourse! The man is our very own fucking David Horowitz or Rush Limbaugh, a bomb-throwing little paper tiger whose own blast shielding of arrogance and attention-whoring provides the only protection against burning up from his own heat--though of course, precious, precious little light. If we're taking wan cheer in this guy and his cock-waggling, I'm just going to go to bed for the next few administrations.
Anyway. Sorry, I've been doing that all day, and I think it's out of my system.
So the evening went on, and with a bit more pizzazz than usual in the WHAFUCK? department. For example, Adrien Brody: WHAFUCK? This one knocked pretty much everyone right in the gut, including him, as his face seemed to register about as much hope as Diane Lane had alloted herself for the evening: none. It sure blew me away; I didn't see The Pianist, natch, but I had pretty much written off the entire field anyway after I saw Daniel Day Lewis in Gangs of New York, which was one of the most ferocious performances I'd ever seen. But Mr. Brody seems like a nice chap, and it was kind of endearing when he absentmindedly swatted away the annoying flybuzz of the orchestra's "You're done now" swelling with an annoyed, "Cut it out!" and then placidly continued on with his say, while the conductor stood around wondering who the fuck this anemic little shoe-pisser was.
And then of course the final WHAFUCK? was the Roman Polanski nod for Best Director, which brought a massive standing O, led by Marty Scorcese, who apparently doesn't mind the decades-long cornholing he's been receiving from these bastards, but never mind, POLANSKI! And poor Rob Marshall sat there with Harvey Weinstein lurking behind him whispering things like "I'll eat your head if you show emotion," and everyone else wondering who the fuck Rob Marshall was and where he came from, and secretly knowing, "Back to oblivion for you, you poor bastard. Harvey's done with you and now he's going to push you off the ice floe." He'll show up in a couple years on IMDB with credits like L.A. Doughnut Girls and Beckett's Revenge with Tom Sizemore.
Finally, it was all over, and we sat around the living room like catatonics for a bit before people started realizing that it was 9:00 or so, and that we'd been drinking for hours, and we had to get to fucking work in the morning. The aftermath to an event like the Oscars or the Super Bowl is a lot like what I imagine the end of a porn shoot is like: people are shuffling around with their heads down, reality seeping back in to addled brains, mumbling about cleaning up and needing to get home to feed the dog. And then in the morning, America's productivity takes a massive plunge as millions of muzzy-headed people listlessly fuck up their daily routines and gingerly sip coffee. That massive hit the stock market took today? That was our fault. That's right. Me and my couple dozen friends. Who says a few people can't make a difference?
Friday, 21 March
Phrases I Would Rather Not Have On My Tombstone
This Tombstone Redeemable For $25 Off Your Next Interment
Medical Research Is Richer For His Comical Demise
Move Along, Nothing To See Here
Has Finally Shut The Fuck Up
Active Culture Below
He Knew Exactly What Hit Him
He Knew Exactly Who Ate Him
He Thought It Was Gin
Still Looking For The Head
We Will Miss Trouncing His Terrible Fantasy League Teams
Thursday, 20 March
I'm Hungry. Let's Eat The Young.
"Reality TV" will of course burn itself out, but it will probably get worse before it gets better, if that's at all conceivable. I think I'm right on this; I know, right now we're beseiged with ghastly things, from "Fear Factor: The Wonder Years," which shows Fred Savage rolling around in a room full of thumbtacks to "Who Wants To Marry That Guy From Picket Fences?", which features a haggard-looking Darva Conger steadfastly refusing to indulge "whodat?" actor Costas Mandylor's penchant for cleansing enemas. And yet, all of these shudderingly awful spectacles are still more appealing than watching network war coverage. "And now, more blurry things turn bright orange and smoke. Brought to you by Colgate."
Here's what has to go first though: the fucking kids. Ever since "American Idol" hit the U.S. (ripped off from the identically suicide-pact-inducing Brit hit "Pop Idol;" I'd like to say it's another example of America ruining another country's fun idea, a la "Changing Rooms" or "Iron Chef" but this show was imported more or less intact and pre-ruined), we've seen a sudden disturbing ancillary phenomenon that can be classified as Those Cute Fucking Leather-Lunged Kids! Since it's never too early to start destroying the lives of our children, first "Star Search" was exhumed, fortunately without the shambling corpse of Ed McMahon, who nonetheless remains conveniently brined should we ever need him. Then I started seeing ads for "America's Most Talented Kid," or whatever it's called. And thus the sudden infestation of our TV screens of tiny, ostensibly cute little fucking buggers screaming Whitney Houston tributes until their platelet counts drop into the low ten thousands and the weaker ones discreetly expire offstage due to massive thrombocytopenia as their unclotting blood seeps out of their throats. Guess you just didn't WANT IT ENOUGH, little Chantalle! Let's hear it for Deron, the world's only four-year-old chainsaw juggler! Ouch, Deron! Watch your femoral! Cleanup on soundstage four!
As hateable as these kids are (and let's not pretend they're unhateable just because of their youth; think Mary Kate and Ashley), they are almost certainly victims. But so what? America hates victims all the time. Sacco and Vanzetti. The Rosenbergs. Nancy Kerrigan. We hated the fuck out of all of them, not out of any provable rational ideology or reasoning, but more out of the gut notion that these people, no matter what the circumstance, were really just kind of fucking irritating. Anarchists? Commies? Figure skaters? Fuck those whiners. It's easy to understand. But I think I might have a solution.
It's a TV concept: "World's Most Awful Stage Parents." It's got it all: reality TV, incredibly awful people, child abuse, psychological trauma, venality, self-delusion, Hollywood. This can't fucking miss. Imagine the footage: you don't see the poor, miserable children hoofing it around the stage as if hypnotized by a Coney Island magician, just the parents, before and after. "Corey," the mother's tone full of venemous sibilants, "you have to nail the glissando." "Listen to your mother, Corey," says the wispy-moustached dad, thinking only of long strings of zeroes written down on watermarked paper, "you don't want to sleep in the woods again, do you, tiger?" And the child, terrorized beyond lucidity, goes out and belts a feverish version of "Sugar Walls," hitting every other note perfectly and jerking like a damaged robot. The parents look on, razor-lipped, and when the beaten child comes backstage, Damocles' sword falls. Loving Mom says, "Failed again. You knew what would happen. We're shipping you off to study with nice Mr. Polanski."
I think this could fly, big time. What else are you going to watch, footage of the war? Fuck that. Think of the children.
Wednesday, 19 March
I Continue To Prejudge Movies Because Certainly Nothing Else Is Going On These Days
Well, we're at war.
(Pause while washed by wave of despair.)
Yeah, fuck that. Let's make fun of things.
So, movie wasteland. While most of us (the ones who like their shit solidly blown the fuck up, anyway) eagerly await The Hulk, The Matrix II & III, X-Men II, LOTR:ROTK, and of course BARL:VPN--NAMBLA III, the studios are having a field day flinging poo-balls at a slavering audience and watching us make terrible faces as we tentatively lick their dire swill. Basically, spring and fall movies are proof positive of Hollywood's fundamental contempt for its audiences. "Look at those fucking jackals," they hiss, "twisting our dicks over release dates on the blockbusters. Christ, I hate them. That's it, I'm greenlighting Autumn in New York, just to see them howl." How else do you explain such ghastly, unwatchable, incomprehensible movies? Oh, and now would be a good time to point out that I am passing judgment on all these movies purely on their ads and some judicious faux-research at IMDB. I haven't seen any of them, and have no plans to, barring some sadomasochistic impulse. So yes, I'm full of shit.
But you can't tell me any of these movies are any good. Well, you can. I just won't listen to you.
Anyway! What else have we got? Oh, yes, there's The Hunted, with slumming Oscar-huggers running around playing soldier; one evidently hacks civilians into chum, and the other one tracks him with silent, steely, baggy-eyed determination. Maw! Best take the bottle away from Brian Dennehy and give him a sponge bath! He's gonna be pissed when he finds out they remade First Blood without tellin' him! Directed by William Friedkin, a man who actually seems uncomfortable with dialogue, but who has obviously found his dream actor in Benicio Del Toro, a man who seems to revel in incomprehensibility. Also featured: minor characters with names like Crumley, Stokes and Boggs. At least one of these people, I am certain, will be chomping on a cigar.
Moving right along, we find Basic, a troublingly eponymous title. One is further discouraged by a relentless ad campaign that features an anonymous radio "critic" being quoted as saying "John Travolta proves once again that he's one of America's best actors!" Yes. And Jenna Elfman shall be his queen. Give me a fucking break. But the biggest danger sign here is the heart-stopping phrase, "Directed by John McTiernan." AIIIEEEE! This is the same man who last year perpetrated the Rollerball remake as well as such turgid, humorless fare as The Hunt for Red October, Predator and the execrable Last Action Hero, itself an immortal Hollywood joke. A final stake in the heart: the IMDB capsule review from the user boards (always a pithy bunch) simply contains the rather direct summation: "AWFUL FILM." I bet Ain't It Cool News spends about three pages of gibbering ink to this effect.
Then there's Stephen King's latest, Dreamcatcher, which is of course directed by . . . Lawrence Kasdan? Oooookaaaay. Anyway, this movie is obviously about the voracious insects that live in Jason Lee's brain and eat the sections of his mind that would normally allow this talented person to select good roles in good movies. He used to have this ability; I cite Almost Famous and . . . uh . . . Almost Famous. Okay, maybe he got lucky once. Perhaps Kevin Smith (this is flamebait, but it's sincere flamebait: Kevin Smith is an awful hack who should be slow-roasted to an internal temperature of a million.) gave him this awful infestation. But things are looking up for Jason, yessirree! IMDB lists such stellar upcoming roles like "PR Exec #1" and "Dishevelled Man." Yes, I'm serious. Anyway, this movie is evidently about weird aliens who inhabit human hosts and then are birthed via explosive, bloody anal expulsion. WHO WANTS POPCORN?
And finally, because I can hardly bear to go on, we have the obligatory Screemy-Queeny Offering! Fags are soooo funny, aren't they? Especially to straight people! Hence, Boat Trip, which features the further horror of watching the Toboggan Ride of Terribleness that is the horrific career of Cuba Gooding Jr. See, Cuba is straight! And for some idiotic reason, he finds himself on a cruise! A gay cruise! Then he mugs a lot and runs away from the Scary Fairies until oh no! He has to pretend to be a ca-razy gay person! Holy fucking shit! Somebody kill me! Better, someone kill Cuba. He's clearly begging for it. BONUS: I know the IMDB site chops off plot summary quotes on the main movie pages more or less arbitrarily, but the cut-off point for Boat Trip's is really good: "Jerry and Nick are two best buddies whose love lives have hit rock bottom, Jerry's especially, having just vomited... (more)"
It's just too bad we have to wait until fall for Autumn in New York II.
Tuesday, 18 March
I Prejudge Movies
We're still in that no-mans land between winter movie season and the feeding frenzy of the summer season, so the current crop of movies in release (or about to be released) are, of course, rotten piles of shit; the outcasts, the lame, the crippled, the unwanted. I say this with the attendant admission that I have seen none of them, nor do I intend to, because a mere look at most of the ads for these things is enough to confirm their intrinsic badness. I admit as well that this is not fair; I don't care. It's basic preservation instinct; sort of the same instinct that whispers to me, should you ever need a lawyer, you probably should not call one that advertises on TV in drag, or also, avoid eggplant at all costs, as it is a violent emetic and is harvested from old, deserted Superfund sites.
There are, as ever, the kids' movies. For the youngsters, we've got Piglet's Big Movie, a sensible enough title for a movie whose ads relentlessly feature, uh, Tigger, who is still tirelessly bouncing around, wisecracking maniacally. The really unfortunate thing about Tigger is, for me anyway, is that he just continually reminds me of Robin Williams any more. Have you seen any of the man's horrible interviews? He's up! He's down! He's speaking in an allegedly funny voice! Christ, he's a fucking firecracker! Won't he please stop the schtick for one goddamn second please? That's Tigger. But if you've got little bastards, well, you're probably fucked, because they're going to scream until you go see it, and you wouldn't want to miss Disney's last bit of horrible money-grabbing before they lose the rights to pillage Pooh's good name, would you? Of course not.
So while you and the little screaming bastards are gritting it through Piglet, you can send your twelve-year-old daughter off on her own--because as far as she's concerned, you're a frightening embarrassment-beast now anyway--and she can crack her bubblegum all the way through the not-at-all formulaic What A Girl Wants, in which another gleaming teenybopper girl--this time her name is Amanda Bynes, whom I'm evidently supposed to be familiar with, but I'm old and creaky--asks the question, duh? What does a girl want? Apparently, it's to lose her dad at an early age, and then discover that he's actually a really wealthy British guy who lives in a manor and has ready access to harmless cute boys who will indulge her in a bit of chaste necking before she scurries off to put on a godzillion-dollar gown and just knock the shit out of the stuffy English people, who all turn out to be really nice after all and everybody lives happily ever after. I don't think that's too much to ask! But then again, I'm not Colin Firth, whose every second even in the TV ads, appears to be broadcasting the message "I'VE MADE A HORRIBLE MISTAKE! CONTACT MY AGENT!" on all psychic airwaves.
But maybe you're lucky and you don't have kids. Whoops! You're not lucky at all! There's many fresh horrors lurking out there ready to indian-burn your helpless mind! My favorite guilty pleasure so far--right out of the gate, and I've already taken many shots at it--is The Core. This is a movie so strange, it almost cries out for the inclusion of Angelina Jolie, but alas, it has an almost aggressively b-list cast: Aaron Eckhart ("Call me Mr. Brockovich, won't you?), Hillary Swank, Stanley Tucci, and Delroy Lindo all apparently have to go to the center of the Earth for some reason because the planet is going to stop spinning, and they have to go blow something up. The whole idea just makes me giddy, giddy like Amanda Bynes!!! in a Dior dress!!! because, well, what? This might be up there on the fun-o-meter in the "so bad it's good" way were it not for a couple things: one, the actors. I have a feeling that Mr. Eckhart and Ms. Swank are going to be taking the whole thing way too seriously, while Mr. Tucci and Mr. Lindo are going to be skulking around wearing hunted, Colin Firthlike expressions. Oh, also, Alfre Woodard plays a character named "Stick," which is a bad omen recognized by all rational people. And two, there's the whole problem that this thing is clearly so fucking dumb, you're going to be stuck in a theater filled with science dweebs who are going to loudly bitch about the stupid technical aspects and theatrically groan at every violation of natural law, which one assumes will be frequent. Geeks cannot be quiet at the movies.
The less said about Bringing Down the House the better. It is clearly a hateful thing created by sociopaths to punish the stupid and weak.
Certainly the most baffling entry out there crabwalking for your movie bucks is the unexplainable widget called View From the Top. This thing is pretty evidently a cookie-cutter bit of feelgood glop, but it features people who ostensibly have much, much better things to do with their time, such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Michael Myers. It then teams them up with people who probably really didn't have anything better to do, like Christina Applegate and Rob Lowe. It's kind of like you and a buddy going to the gym and finding Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson hanging out waiting for a game: it just doesn't make much sense. So: Gwyneth is of course the small town girl who with just a little gumption and whole fucking lot of positive attitude makes it big time in the stewardessing game! You go, girl! Please? Will she succeed? I wonder if she finds true love somewhere along the way? Maybe she sportfucks Rob Lowe, and then gets a riotous case of the clap? Whatever. Oh, and also, Candace Bergen is lurking around in there somewhere biting the heads off pigeons and throwing hateful looks at Christina Applegate, who still looks really great in a bikini.
You know what? This is good fun. And I don't even have to know what I'm talking about! It's the whole premise! I may have to do more tomorrow. Whoopee!
Monday, 17 March
Synthetic Xenomorphs Are Happy To Be Of Service
Well, the wedding is less than two months away, so I'd better give fair warning that the entries here might get a little more sparse. I mean, we've got everything more or less under control, but of course there are more and more little shitheaps to trip over along the way. Holy shit, we've got to get a marriage license! Also, a banquet license so our friends can drink! Definitely a banquet license so we can drink! (Thoughtful pause.) JESUS CHRIST! Do you realize how much people are going to drink?! At least Cap'n Bush is doing his best to make things festive. I can see it now. "Aw, look at that, you're crying. Is it because you're so happy for us?" "That, and I'm anesthetizing myself against the gibbering fear-imp that gnaws on my neck each and every day in this terrifying, uncertain world full of blinding madness. But mostly because I'm happy for you. I got you pretty blue towels." "Oh, fuck the towels, give me a drink. Christ, I'm depressed."
Tomorrow we go to meet with the nice 'n' clenched mansion people to talk about meal options (my votes for corn dogs and fries have been loudly shouted down), review information regarding the band (a peppy little outfit named Gapin' At Your Mom; the cool thing is that they'll play for bottles of cough syrup), and oh, of course, how could I forget, give them a check. We've done most of the calculations, and we're pretty sure the figure is going to be . . . let's see, carry the two . . . yes, yes . . . yes, it's a million dollars. I'm pretty sure that's it. No, of course not, it just feels like a million dollars, because in my life, I have never written a check this big. I've never bought a house; my car cost $450; and my student loans are paid whenever the jar of pennies fills up. So it's a big deal for me, especially since I'm handing it over to people who, while again, are very nice, seem on occasion to be made of extruded plastic.
And you know, for extruded plastic animated entities, they sure have a lot of snitty fucking rules (not that I am conversant with other lilac-scented, money-snatching plastigolems, but I'm just saying). They have one entry on SPARKLERS: "not permitted as 'send-off' favors." Oh, well, that's a relief. But we can still have them hanging out of our assholes during the ceremony per my Estonian folk tradition, right? Whew. Or FURNITURE: "may not be rearranged . . . without the permission of . . . authorized Mansion personnel." That seems Draconian. Do I have to get Dolph over to my table to help me with Operation: Scoot In Chair? Or are they worried that my frenzied guests are going to push the grand piano into the fireplace? Okay, that actually is probably good policy. There are, yes, INSTRUCTIONS FOR FLORISTS, which has this alarming bit of information: "The oak candle stands hold flowers 1" in diameter." One inch? Sorry, honey, I guess it's stalks of Kentucky Bluegrass or nothing. But this one is my favorite: "Due to a dangerous metal band used in packaging, Andre champagne is not allowed." What? What is it made of, uranium? Or does it rapidly convert into a shiv? No wonder they stopped serving it in prisons. "No more Andre for the cons! Kitchen stabbings are through the roof! From now on it's Boone's Farm or nothing." Christ, like I can't do better than Andre on my fucking wedding day anyway.
Well, actually, I'll be lucky to afford Andre, now that I think about it. I just coughed up a million dollars.
Friday, 14 March
The Goo Is In The Mail
One of the projects I've been working on at the ol' clinical trials statistical lab is a little thing called "Specimen Tracking."
No, I am not stalking piss-bearing nurses around making sure that they're delivering the little warm bottles to the right places, though that sounds fun. For many of our cancer research trials, we require certain specimens (blood, bone marrow, eyeballs) to be sent from the patient's hospital to various labs, where they will do mysterious things, like pathological verification of the disease, or some genetic assay mumbo-jumbo, or whatever. For all I know, they play hacky-sack with the fucking things and then make up outrageous lies. "I need the path review results for patient number 1150062!" "Uh . . . right, I'll look that up. Here it is. Yeah, this patient was confirmed with scalar cell fuctating baloonganoma.(Sounds of muffled laughter, bong hit.)"
Anyway, the specimen tracking project is a web-based system of logging where all the little damn hunks of people are going and when; sort of like the USPS tracking system, only hopefully better, as recently the USPS tracking system informed me that a package of mine from Amazon had "left Fernley NV" and had "entered US." What a relief. I hope there's a commenting system for humorous outlet. Like the time a nurse shipped me several glass slides by slipping them into a normal business envelope and then tossing it into the mailbox. It would be helpful to note little gaffes like that: "Specimen inadequate due to vast, jaw-dropping institutional incompetence. Recommend napalm strike."
Institutions are required to send lots of stuff various places, so it's actually understandable that occasionally there's a mixup. Not that the mixups aren't frequently horrible and scarring. For a long time, I was in charge of receiving RT materials: that is, x-ray and CT scan films, which were actually pretty interesting. Cross-sections of the human body can look awfully cool, provided they aren't, you know, yours. What wasn't cool the day an institution sent along a bunch of films and also enclosed the poloroids that they often take of the patients to show where the fields of radiation therapy are on the body. This was a rectal cancer study. I held in my hands many photos of afflicted, radiation-treated, angry asses, and I thought, "If this is all a part of someone's grand universal plan, I'd like to have a word with them."
Thursday, 13 March
Yesterday the fiancee picked me up from work, and we were driving home, the radio playing. Suddenly Wang Chung's "Dance Hall Days" started up, and I of course was mindlessly singing along, when I suddenly thought, "These are the dumbest lyrics ever." Look:
Take your baby by the hair
What? Oh, well. I'm nothing if not agreeable, so I did in fact grab my fiancee by the ears and then poured a cupful of live spiders down her shirt. Well, in my mind I did. But there's more:
So take your baby by the wrist
Hot damn! So I released her ears and pried open the fiancee's jaws. Jackpot! A shiny amethyst! I knew I had me a great gal.
Of course, these are not actually the stupidest lyrics ever. They're just pretty damn stupid. The worst lyrics ever is of course going to be a pretty subjective topic, and everyone will have their own opinion. While thinking about this, I rejected the obvious choices, like Alanis Morrissette or (as was suggested to me) Leonard Nimoy just because their lyrics are so obviously witless and bad. I also passed over things like "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?"--which I consider to be the most heinous song ever perpetrated on an innocent public--as well as skull-clutchers like the entire oeuvre of the Indigo Girls. So it's all kind of arbitrary, but I just thought for a while about the relative terribleness of certain song lyrics that I think have gone unremarked on.
But before I leave off the Wanging Chungers, I do want to point out that I found a fucking great Mondegreen that someone had about that song. Someone posted somewhere that they had always heard the lyrics this way:
Take your baby by the ears,
Which is, you know, the best thing ever; it's going onto my tombstone to baffle untold later generations. It's like something out of the i ching.
Anyway. So I just was kind of free-associating with the idea of bad lyrics, when I remembered an old song from college days by that deathless old bastard Malcolm McLaren called, wrenchingly, "Something's Jumpin' in Your Shirt." McLaren at his most winsomely affecting, don't you think? Check out the lyrics:
No matter what I do, no matter what I say
Oh my god! It's like . . . Faulkner! I really, really like the t-shirt-as-life-barometer or whatever the hell it means. These lyrics are so awful, they really just make me very happy. Walk the body! Okay! I don't even know what the fuck that means, but I'll try it! Something's jumpin' in your shirt! Is it your heart? No, I think it's clear that we're talking about boobs. God, what a great, great bunch of horrible lyrics.
But that's a pretty obscure song. How about MOR mainstay Toto? They had a pretty big hit with the chugging, faceless "Africa." Read on!
I hear the drums echoing tonight
That's not so bad. I mean, it's insipid and meaningless, but not the worst ever, though you can see where Mr. Mister was getting inspiration from. It makes no sense, of course: if she's flying in, why are the moonlit wings reflecting the stars guiding him towards salvation? Or is he on the plane? Is that where he stopped the old man "along the way?" Never mind, no time! Hurry, boy!
It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
Oh, what dizzying poetic heights! I particularly like the total creative surrender implied in the "hundred men or more" line. Hmmm . . . what's a big, big number? More than a hundred! Brilliant. What the fuck do the rains in Africa have to do with anything anyway, and why would you bless them? All you're doing is irritating those wild dogs (huh?), restless for whatever "solitary company" could possibly be. I'd be restless too. But the final line brings it all home. You know what a beautiful mountain is like? Another mountain.
I know I'm not exactly going after big game here, but hey, like I said, I've just been brain-dumping. But I must say, it's time to bring out the big one; I've been waiting to find something that competes with the next song in terms of sheer fucking awfulness. It so clearly shoots for straight-faced Bukowskian hard-knuckle poeticality, and so spectacularly fails, I really find it kind of breathtaking. It's worth quoting the entire mind-ripping thing, starting with the ass-tastic title. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the lyrics of Live:
“Insomnia and the Hole in the Universe”
my brother kicked his feet to sleep
my brother never missed a beat
Angel, don't you have some bagels in my oven?
little swami's got his bowl to eat
it's amazing how they come to see
anal, tight-assed soldier with that dogged heart
Holy fucking good golly! Sing the "dirge song," brother! I don't know what other kind of dirges there are, but oh well! Not that anything in there makes any fucking sense at all anyway! "Angel, don't you have some bagels in my oven?" I think we've all asked this at least once in our lives.
I mean . . . jesus. I really don't know what to do with all that. What's the cross-reference foot fetish going on with his brother and the hungry swami? Who's the poor soldier that gets sucker-punched at the end with the anal stuff? Maybe he should have kicked the space that made him hollow.
I fold. I mean, I just can't do any better than what Live has already done. I take my baby by the wrist. I sing the dirge song. Where have all the cowboys gone?
Wednesday, 12 March
The TV Party
By Harold Pinter.
Skot sits facing a television. It plays advertisements. Skot lights a match and watches it burn.
TV: We'll tell you how the flooding can affect your commute.
S: I live on a hill in an urban center. I walk to work.
TV: Be prepared for the Romulans.
S: I always am.
TV: Q13 Fox shows you the latest ads to get you to go see the Mariners in action.
S: They do, and I almost always resist.
TV: What does Boonie think?
S: I guess he's disappointed in me.
TV: Foster Farms Chicken.
S: Chicken is good too.
TV: That, my friend, is the sweet smell of Windex.
TV: Somebody hasn't discovered the new Metamucil.
TV: You can enjoy eggs without the cholesterol.
TV: Inspector Gadget is back with even more gadgets.
S: You're making me sick. My fiancee will be worried.
TV: Dont trip! U luv her?
S: Of course.
TV: This mother's day, why not show her you care?
S: Mother's Day?
TV: Give someone special the night off.
S: I'll try.
TV: Foster Farms Chicken.
S: I'll try.
TV: You can enjoy eggs without the cholesterol.
S: I wanted--I wanted--I wanted--
TV: Which came first?
S: She wanted--
TV: Which came first? Which came first? Which came first?
TV: Do you know your own face?
Silence. He is crouched in the chair.
S: It was a lovely party tonight.
TV: You were the belle of the ball.
S: I was?
TV: Oh yes.
S: Oh, it's true. I was. (Pause.) I know I was.
Tuesday, 11 March
Flow My Tears, The 12-Ounce Can Said
I know it's generally a lame joke pertinent to pregnant women, but everyone now and then gets food cravings. The thing is, many of mine are recurrent; worse, some of them are totally perverse and shameful. This is fine for kids; kids are supposed to act in perverse ways (though not shameful--that's for the parents). For a while when I was about three, for instance, I craved nothing more than raw butter. My parents would find me in the kitchen gnawing happily on a stick of butter, and then of course they would hurl me into the dark basement as punishment, which was fantastic for me, because that's where they stored the potatoes, my other weird, awful craving: raw potatoes. I'm not kidding (except about the basement-punishment, of course); I loved me some raw potatoes. Fortunately, none of these had any lasting power, of course, and I grew out of them in due course. Also fortunately, I also grew out of most of my unfortunate dietary obsessions, such as, for example, my preteen penchant for peanut butter and marshmallow cream sandwiches. (For years I ate these noxious things, until one day I hit upon the brilliant idea of peanut butter and chocolate chip sandwiches. Further proof that children are horrible, freakish little goblins who should be bound in shrink-wrap and kept immobile until the age of eighteen.)
There is one thing I didn't quite grow out of, at least not totally; almost but not quite, and it fills me with horror to even confess this, but: Spaghetti-Os. I don't know what to say about this, except that there is evidently some tiny, unkillable node somewhere in my brain that every now and then raises itself from its torpor and barfs up some synaptic whatsis that generates a bunch of electrochemical holy-fuck all over the goddamn place until finally my brain gets it and throws up its cerebrospinal hands and yells, "Jesus, fuck and Liberace, we have to buy Spaghetti-Os again." I don't know why, and it's horrible. Maybe some reptilian olfactory voodoo that's sitting in my cortex gets all sentimental over this shit, but it drives me crazy; every now and then (maybe every year or two), I get this violent, deep urge to eat some Spaghetti-Os, and I battle with it, knowing that I'm doomed, I'm going to cave in, but maybe this time . . .
No, fuck it, of course I'm not going to win, and I have to go buy Spaghetti-Os. I do this even knowing what a cruel, vicious letdown the experience is going to be in the end; it doesn't matter. It's nearly publishable fucking proof of determinism, quite a feat in today's world of quantum sleight of hand, but there you go: Spaghetti-Os are particles more fundamental than quarks. Fuck you, Murray Gell-Mann.
So inevitably I find myself, a grown man, trudging desolately to the supermarket to buy my stinking can of Spaghetti-Os. You have no idea how embarrassing this is for me, and I don't make it any easier on myself either, because I'm so psychically shattered by the whole debacle, I don't even possess the wherewithal to conceal or even mitigate my terrible purchase. I could hide the can inobtrusively amongst a bunch of other groceries, or perhaps kidnap an errant child off the street and force him at knifepoint to pretend to be my offspring, and isn't it cute how the little scamp loves his Spaghetti-Os? (Smile for the nice checkout lady, or it's curtains for you and Mr. Boo-Bear.) No, not me: dazed with sad horror over my state and filled with foreboding at my upcoming culinary Waterloo, I generally just shuffle over to the ghoulishly merry wall o' canned goods, select one solitary can of Spaghetti-Os (with Meatballs! It's IMPORTANT!), and wander unsteadily to the checkout line and plunk my sad, lonely freight down onto the conveyor belt. What a picture: a beaten, flutter-eyed guy, obviously single and given to gloomy bouts of cheerless masturbation, purchasing his one measly can of Spaghetti-Os, probably bought with the last couple bucks left from his long day of giving plasma down at the blood bank. At least, that's how I feel. Then I scuttle home with my awful booty, and the real fun begins.
Of course, it's all free-fall from here on out. I break out the can opener and skreek off the top of the can, and that smell fills the room; I am instantly at war with myself. My kidhood nostalgia (what a great smell!) wages a pitched battle with my adult rational mind (what an unholy reek! please don't eat anything that smells like that!), but events that have been set in motion are now unstoppable, no matter their violence to reason and judgment. I dump the radioactive wobbly cylinder of jack-o-lantern colored sludge into a pan, where it slumps morosely. A mushy orb of near-meat detaches itself from the mass and makes a break for it, only to bump sadly up against the side of the pan, where it stares up at me helplessly, beaten and afraid. "I'm sorry too," I whisper, and turn the heat up. Presently, the mass has settled into a dire puddle of sauce and broken pasta rings and meat-lumps, and it bubbles wanly.
I dump it into a bowl and eat it. That's all, I just eat it, like an automaton, blank-eyed and efficient. It tastes, I hardly have to point out, like it came from some joyless, gray kitchen manned by Strindbergian vampire chefs who evilly suck all the nutrients and decent flavor out of their dishes and then serve them to their doomed, emaciated guests. It's over. I feel vague relief, coupled with a sense of disappointment that yet again, I've lost another battle. The eerie taste-not-a-taste coats my mouth, and will for days. But the important thing is, it's over.
For now. Reset the clock.
Monday, 10 March
The Sounds of Violence
Saturday night, a friend celebrated her . . . mumble . . . something-or-other birthday, so we did what actors tragically often do: we gathered at a bar and performed the ancient ceremony known as karaoke. Different people have different reactions to this activity, usually ranging from "I want that person singing to burn to death right now," all the way to "I want everyone else in the world to burn to death right now." I understand. My own position is, "Singing in public is a scrotum-tightening ordeal of sheerest panic not unlike being attacked by rabid knife-brandishing gibbons."
But you have to understand that it's a little different going out with a bunch of actors (if you haven't already, in which case, you should do so if only as a bold anthropological experiment). Actors are, famously and correctly, known for characteristics like deranged binge-drinking; an almost pathological lack of shame; a desperate craving for attention, even of the most negative sort, which is unfortunately at odds with a gnawing fear that at any given moment, someone somewhere nearby is being slightly more entertaining than themselves; and finally, in some remarkable cases, actual singing talent. That last trait is of course subjective when brought to bear on karaoke, whose arrangements of any given song have been anesthetized, splayed open, gutted with a baling hook, filled back up with chewed cardboard, and then hastily half-revived and sent reeling back out into the world. Karaoke arrangements are like Gorey's doomed tatterdemalions: wan, utterly without hope, and about five seconds away from an awful death.
There are ways to deal with all this. Some actors are wonderful; their voices are perfect, and they rise above the insipid tripe oozing from the speakers behind them; they perform the song. But there are other people who take a different tack: they attack the song as if it had punched their kid sister in the face, and destroy it utterly. These are the people to be feared and locked cages and poked with sticks until science finds a way to understand them and then fuck with their brains cruelly, Clockwork Orange style, so they may one day be stopped.
Guess which group I'm writing about? There were some lovely performances that night, I'm sure, but their memories have been destroyed by the following people, all of whom I am, I should add, very fond of. Lest it seem otherwise.
First out of the gate on Saturday was T., who, evidently feeling that the world wasn't quite Hobbesian enough for his liking, lit into an eye-popping rendition of Lionel Richie's "All Night Long." It actually started out okay, which is to say as okay as conceivably possible, for about four lines, when he mystifyingly substituted "karate" for "karama" in the lyrics, and then started stalking the tiny stage making frightening karate moves, kicking the air and leaping around like a frog on a hot plate. Since T. is about nine feet tall and ganglier-than-thou, he looked an awful lot like the muppet Animal after a thorough macing. He continued singing, exhorting everyone to madly karate "ALL! NIGHT! LONG!" and, because the rest of us have a tender spot for such awful things, we sang along. By the end, he had an awful lot of people in the bar staring into their drinks, wondering what fiendish thing had been slipped in there by the clearly malevolent bar staff.
Not long after this fearful spectacle came C., who ominously prefaced his performance with a suspiciously sincere bit of spoken dribble: "This song is about America." Then the dire plonking strains of Phil Collins' "Another Day in Paradise," started polluting the air, and C. whipped his vocal cords into a frenzied yelping that approximated human noise. C. paid very little attention to the actual melody--itself a mixed blessing--and opted instead for the Kamikaze approach: he'd lift his voice up into a stratospheric whoop and then come divebombing down in a murderous assault on the helpless notes lying far below, which burst into flames and screamed piteously and C. shot past them straight into the ground. Occasionally, he would totally unneccessarily howl, "This song is about homelessness!" Actually, the way C. performed it, it could have been about autocannibalism or cataclysmic viral spread.
Not long after C. finished his clumsy autopsy on Mr. Collins' pithy social ruminations came the birthday girl, V. V. is one of the masters of this art form I've described, and I can honestly say that on one past occasion, her grim chemical-peel version of Kim Carnes' "Bette Davis Eyes" lifted me to another plane of existence; it was so otherworldly and horrific, it had me holding my sides laughing, otherwise I would have surely rushed the stage and impaled her on many forks. On this night too, she was mining the 80s, with her frontal assault on Pat Benetar's interminable "Love is a Battlefield." You knew where she was going almost immediately with the initial "Whoooaaoooaaaooo" banshee wail, because she already sounded like Diamanda Galas stuck in a taffy puller. V. continued along in this vein, paying absolutely no heed to the song's meter or rhythm, instead opting for a kind of Paul Harvey vs. Eric Bogosian dramatic interpretation: "Heartache to heartache . . . . . . . . . . WESTAND!" Her eyes bulging like Don Rickles undergoing electrotherapy. In the audience, the drinking rate redoubled itself, and the regulars in the bar were looking decidedly twitchy and haunted, like sentient lab rats, aware of their fate, but unable to do anything about it.
The last one I remember, however, is K. K. is also legendary for his talent for eviscerating perfectly good songs, though he didn't pick one on Saturday. No, again Mr. Phil Collins was selected for the old artistic cornholing, this time "Against All Odds," which, for terrible reasons known only to himself, K. began singing with the most offensively ridiculous and overblown Cajun accent imaginable. "Teee-aa-iike a lwoook a-et me NYAA-OOWWW!" he bleated, clutching the mic in both hands, eyes closed and head thrown back as if delivering the finest of gospel standards. "Thyeeeh's juzz'an EEE-OOMPTY SPYUZZ!" It was just ghoulish, the aural equivalent of diving into a swimming pool filled with dead dogs.
There was more that night, but those are certainly the highlights of horridly good fun. We had predictably emptied most of the rest of the bar by the time I left, and they weren't even done yet. So there's an idea of what you can expect if you go out singing karaoke with actors, or at least actors who are my friends, who are all troublingly disturbed individuals, and who wants it any other way?
Friday, 07 March
Look Away, Look Away
So there's apparently a movie called Irreversible coming out now making the outrage-rounds. You see, it apparently features a very graphic anal rape scene. And it's nine minutes long. Nine. Minutes. Are you very surprised to learn that it's a French movie?
Now honestly. There's no fucking hope in hell that I'm going to willingly watch a movie knowing that for nine endless woe-washed minutes, I will be watching an anal rape scene. I'm just not; fuck that, if I want to immerse myself in hopeless anguish, I can always watch Emeril. I can't get over it. Nine minutes is an eternity of screen time.
Someone once tried to make the argument with me regarding the immortal Caligula that the "what the--?" out-of-nowhere X-rated sex scenes were an experiment in confronting the viewer with how much they could take; forcing them to understand their own mental limitations. Or something. So I watched the movie, and afterwards I was all, "Uh, dude. That's just porn." I mean, fine, watch porn if you want, but let's not gloss it over with any bullshit.
And frankly, even the idea of commiting a graphic rape scene to film is one thing, but to stretch it out to nine minutes just strikes me as a cruel device, just rubbing the viewer's face in it because . . . I don't know why because. Because someone could? That's not good enough for me. And I don't wanna come across all shrill and dumb and bluenosy; I'm not saying don't go see it, or it should be banned, or anything of the sort. I'm just saying why I'm not seeing it. I don't see how it's anything other than nasty and cynical and almost worst of all, probably totally unneccessary to the film overall.
But as I pointed out, I haven't seen the film. Knock wood.
I'm waiting for The Core. Now that's going to be some horrible, insulting filmmaking I can really enjoy!
Thursday, 06 March
Streets of Fire (Sale)
I've been living in Seattle for over ten years now, in fact in the same neighborhood the entire time: Capitol Hill. It's well known around Seattle that Capitol Hill is the artsy, boho-ish, gay-friendly area, so it's naturally full of local color and about nine hundred thousand hoboes, each of which hits me up for change on my way home every day. Broadway is kind of the acknowledged main drag (ahem), and if I have only one problem with it, it's this: it's going straight to fucking hell right before my eyes.
Take the Broadway Market. The Broadway Market is a mall that's not really a mall, more kind of just a dinky mall-let with more character and a nice public space in the middle where people of all ages and all manner of metal shit lodged in their bodies come to hang out, drink coffee, and make fun of the unhip straights like me. It's cool. Upstairs years ago there used to be a funky bar/restaurant called Hamburger Mary's which has since moved to a different location, where it died a horrible death, and was replaced by another bar, which is undergoing a horrible death, pretty clearly, because nobody ever goes there for mysterious reasons perhaps having to do with a gypsy curse or something. Anyway, when I worked at my horrendous retail job in the Broadway Market, we would of course go upstairs to get drinks there, but then when Hamburger Mary's left, it was replaced by an intolerable Mexican joint whose margaritas tasted like transmission fluid, so nobody went there any more, and now it's a fucking health club. Part of me dies when a health club replaces a former bar spot, but maybe that's just my liver sparking out a twinge of hope.
Downstairs in the Broadway Market, they just lost a big anchor store when the Gap moved out. This leaves me really fucked, as I now have no convenient place to purchase my bland, monochromatic clothing. I need solid colors! I can't dress myself otherwise! But the real question here is: how does one of the ostensibly hippest shopping centers in town, located in the midst of a huge gay population, with tons of foot traffic lose the Gap? It's insane; it would be like a head shop going out of business in downtown Eugene. It doesn't make any fucking sense. The Market is looking pretty gutted, and there's more on their way out; a funky African store is taking off, and the snooty sandwich shop inside folded too. Now it's not that I feel warm fuzzies for any of these particular places of business, but I liked them a whole lot better than, oh, nothing, which is what's shaping up to replace them. About the only thing in there clearly still doing a jumping bit of business is the liquor store, and why not? Everyone on Broadway is drinking themselves stupid while they watch their neighborhood dissolve into something out of Escape from New York. Only instead of Kurt Russell, it'll be Jane Russell, except this Jane Russell is a man in drag, and instead of subhuman CHUDS, there'll be loser punker kids spare-changing in front of empty store fronts. Othewise exactly the same.
Down the road a bit, there's another bar that croaked itself after being in business for around ten minutes--Jack's Roadhouse--and since it failed as a bar, the new tenants are cleverly resurrecting it as another bar, this time an Irish Public House sort of deal. We'll see. Across the street, the great old indie record store that closed down a while back and then turned into sleeker record store that almost immediately gorked out is trying to become a funky shoe store. They're doomed. And down from them is the space where--RIP--Fallout Records used to be, home for about a million years to punk records, punk regalia, punk comics, and, occasionally and improbably, since the place was about as big and comely as a grimy phone booth, punk bands. It cheered my heart walking home some days to stroll by and be suddenly leveled by the sheer noise emanating from their store, while the neighboring shopowners glared and calculated arson prison sentence negotiations in their heads. It always sounded like some pub band had fallen en masse into a huge wood chipper.
It's all just depressing, and I hope the place recovers before it gets worse. I might do my part and go out and get a drink at one of my default bars on Broadway. There's a nice little Asian joint right around the corner. You know the place. It's next to Jimmy Woo's Jade Pagoda, one of the most legendary places of magic in town, a wellspring of timeless booze mojo. Cheapest drinks around; clientele looking like they were born in there, years ago, sprouting up from the carpet mold; a jukebox that really has "It's Raining Men" on it; and of course the alleged food that they never serve to anyone because every person I know is terrified to try it, even in the most gravely drunken desperate state. That's the place.
It's closing soon.
Wednesday, 05 March
Think In Prose, Hear The Music, Shit My Pants
As my nineteen regular readers have probably figured out by now, I don't do a lot of writing about politics. There's a good reason for this: I'm not very politically inclined. I mean, I'm your average mook, on the lefty side of things, I have a general grasp of most issues, but beyond that, meh. Besides, the current political tenor in this country mostly inspires in me a deep, screaming terror that makes me want gulp down vast quantities of Xanax and watch porn flicks all day in a kind of narcotized whackathon of sheerest denial. However, it's really hard to get paid to do that sort of thing, unless you are Marlon Brando.
But the other day, I read--well, scanned . . . well . . . flung to the ground--an article in The Atlantic Monthly that purported to be an examination into the mind of George W. Bush. It is deeply stupid and makes virtually no bones about its own rah-rah bias towards our President; it is, in fact, such a naked, ass-up, lube-at-the-ready valentine that one wonders why at the end the author doesn't beseech the administration for at least a courteous reach-around. This from the same magazine that published a po-faced article a while back similarly purporting to be an examination of the mind, habits, and fuck, I don't know, bathroom fixture preferences of Saddam Hussein. It was similarly filled with portentous and utterly unverifiable claims as to what Saddam thinks and does and what he likes to eat and the various deep thoughts he deep thinks during the day; in other words: bullshit. The author could have claimed that Saddam enjoys wearing rubber boots and pounding finches to death with golden hammers while listening to Blondie; who's going to argue? You?
Anyway. The article pissed me off (but it does have some great howlers in it, like this early on: "[Bush's] two most obvious personal traits are humor and seriousness." They are? And who doesn't possess these obvious traits? Okay, Marlon Brando again, you got me). So I figured I'd take another look at it. And just so we're clear, I repeat: I have no intention of being fair, nuanced, judicious, rational, or thorough. It's just not my style. In fact, just for fun, I'm going to pack it full of malicious lies. See if you can spot them!
It starts off with some of the usual introductory hoo-ha about where Bush started out, and how he fumbled his way into the presidency: Harvard Business School, governor of Texas, etc., and some discreet obligatory mentions about his hard-drinking days and subsequent Jesus-locating. That's cool. I don't have any problem with the J-folk. It is fun to learn that (as an example of his crazy humor) that Bush teases Condi Rice by calling her a "mother hen;" it's even better when he quotes former head of the Christian Coalition Ralph Reed as saying, "I'd fuck dead goats for that man." Reed, who knew Bush during the taxing Texas Rangers years, was also apparently struck by how "focused" and "disciplined" Bush was as governor. So it's kind of unfortunate to read the next sentence: "The governorship of Texas, however, scarcely allows those to hold it to get much done otherwise." Well, if you're going to be focused and disciplined, you might as well be doing nothing at all.
Then the author (Richard Brookhiser, senior editor at National Review) gets down to brass tacks and enumerates the "traits he has shown and the factors he pays attention to" since assuming office. They are:
"Thriftiness with time." Uh, does he even have a choice? He's President! I'm not really that grooved out that he manages to make his meetings run "briskly," as if other administrations took time out of difficult policy sessions to unwind over a relaxing game of Uno. Let's talk Clinton when it comes for thriftiness with time. "Hey, lover, you want to go into a broom closet? I think I know where Harding's is." "No time! Blow me right here! And no slurping! I'm on a call!"
"The team." Well, this isn't exactly a trait or anything, but whatever. Brookhiser spends a little ink lauding the staff for their closed-mouthedness, which I of course uncharitably prefer to think of as "stark terror." Would you be inclined to shoot off your mouth with people like Torquemada Donald Rumsfeld creeping around, ready to set fire to your children's feet if he didn't like something you said? Or Dick Cheney, who in stressful times is given to pulling his incredible heart right out of his chest and holding it in his hand, while fixing his poor victim with a steely gaze and intoning "I keep this beating by pure force of will. You are an insignificant stack of worthless paste." Or, worst of all, Bush could always sit you down in a closed room with Ari Fleischer and make you listen to him, a Boschian nightmare too outre and frightening to contemplate for any amount of time.
"Q&L." That is, "Questioning and Listening." Notably missing in that set of activities is "Comprehending," but it's nice to listen to people. Brookhiser then goes on to cite this uncanny ability to listen to other people in the context of the stem-cell research debate, a topic that I had better not get too wrapped up in, or I'll just fucking burst into flames, so I'll just note that Bush effectively shut down government funding of the research, citing the J-Man and His Pop (a sort of divine Q&L). Here's Brookhiser's flinty-eyed assessment of the performance: "Another President might have ducked the problem by following the emerging consensus of the country, or of his own base. Bush handled it like a manager--staffing it out and then making his own decision." I'm entering this usage into my own lexicon. "Say, you really handled that like a manager." "What?" "I don't know."
" 'Instinct.' " This one is fucking great. "Almost everyone calls Bush an instinctive decision-maker, including Bush himself." Oh? Who, exactly? Four paragraphs later, you discover that "almost everyone" is, in fact, Newt Gingrich, an assessment that Newt would probably enthusiastically endorse. Newt cracked me up here, though, I must admit, because he really delivers the straight lines: "[Bush] hs a very wide repertoire of experiences [like snorting cocaine off the backs of strippers]." And in new situations or encounters, sez Newt, "he cues off things he probably doesn't even remember." You know, I've done this; I recall the sensation as "Oh, God, What Did I Do Last Night?" And then I cued myself off of things I didn't even remember, like where am I and who is this in bed with me?
"Providence." This one is puzzling. During one of the 2000 debates, some of the Republican candidates were asked to pick an important political philosopher from whom each person got his particular swerve on. Steve "Glint O' Crazy" Forbes named John Locke. Bush was next, and he mysteriously said "Sondra Locke," and then praised her performance in Bronco Billy as "fucking hot." The networks confusedly cut to a commercial, except for FOX, which instead simply showed some footage of Sondra Locke spare-changing on Sepulveda Boulevard.
"Follow-through." Brookhiser uses the example Bush's withdrawal from the ABM treaty to bolster his argument, I guess, that Bush . . . follows through . . . on things. It's really tedious, as are any assortment of words that contain the name "Paul Wolfowitz." When I can't sleep at night, I usually count Paul Wolfowitzes leaping over meadow fences and then landing on an array of poisoned spikes, and it really works well.
Finally, after this litany of gee-whillikers shit, Brookhiser concedes to at least a hat-tip of balance, and enumerates three--three!--limitiations. He also tellingly makes them more or less incomprehensible, or at the very least, dauntingly veiled: "Restricted habitat," "Phantom framework," and the enigmatically question-marked "Lack of imagination?" Note the weird, obfuscatory phrasing of these "limitations" as opposed to the previously Spartan entries that lauded him. But really the best thing here is the "Lack of imagination?" entry, which is so baffling and strange that it defies description. Brookhiser starts out thundering like a herd of mice: "Bush has intelligence, energy, and humility, but does he have imagination?" Then he segues into a freakish rumination on the relationship between Hitler and Churchill, and one kind of wonders how much cough syrup Brookhiser's had. Then, when you think it can't possibly get farther afield, Brookhiser wraps up the topic with the out-of-deep-space musing, "Bush thinks in prose. Can he hear music?"
And that's when the magazine hit the wall.
Tuesday, 04 March
A Liberal Arts Education Is Useful When Drinking
Oh, it's going to be a shortish entry tonight, because I've been out debauching. Well, nerd-debauching; I went out with some friends and played bar trivia. And, incredibly, WE WON!
As the bespectacled geeks who Frink around the weird server room might awkwardly exclaim, "W00t." Our team o' five took in $175, so I was basically handsomely paid to go out drinking and eating terrible bar food. Get the special of the night: "3 tacos for 2 bucks!" Are you kidding me? I just won over thirty bucks! GIVE ME FORTY-FIVE TACOS, STAT!
The categories were . . . meh. Let's see: War (they named a battle, you named the war); Beer (slam-dunk); Science and Math (in which we had to calculate a fucking kilometers to miles conversion, no mean feat even when you haven't been drinking); Lead Singers (audio trivia; they played the song, you named the lead singer--and one guy on our team knew who the fucking yowler was for Steppenwolf, unbelievably); Geography; Americana; 20th Century History, and Acronyms (did you know that RADAR stood for "Radio Detection And Ranging"? Neither did we.) The one they left out at the last minute, which outraged me and this other total nerd was Books You Haven't Read. Fucking bastards. I've read Infinite Jest and A Brief History of Time and The Corrections and Gravity's Rainbow and all that shit; it's what I did growing up while I was having no sex. I was ready for them to bring it on, but they gave me the old sandpaper handjob.
But no matter! WE WERE VICTORIOUS! It was the Lead Singers category that put us over the top; they coughed up seventeen songs and we got sixteen of them, including Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star and Dee Snider of Twisted Sister. We did unfortunately miss Jack Russell from Great White, because we all thought it sounded like the dick-in-zipperesque frightened caterwauling of Vince Neil. Those hair metal bands were all grown in the same vat anyway and have since all been deconstructed into constituent parts and then painstakingly reassembled into next year's shambling zombie models for the upcoming Tom's of Finland calendar. All that's left is for the technicians to craft ghoulishly veiny penis replicas to shove down their leather pants, as years of sopranic shrieking have left their original unfortunate members shriveled and miserable from diverted blood loss.
And since I have just creeped myself right the fuck out, I'm going to bed. Thirty dollars richer. W00t. Glavin. And the hey hey hey I won.
Monday, 03 March
Creating An Extended Rant Out of Nothing
Since I have been sitting here for an hour wondering what the fuck to write about, and have been failing to actually write, I have decided--mostly out of frustration, but also hunger, because, well, Christ in clam sauce, an hour?--to simply write about the stuff that I considered writing about, started to, failed, deleted, and am now going to write about anyway. Clear?
First failed idea: Wedding stuff.
Rejected because everything's been going really well, actually, and how interesting is that? We picked out a cake from a really nice old guy who has been making them since the Hoover administration, and we got a plain old white three-tier cake with incredibly baroque icing on it that is going to look fucking smashing right up until we destroy the shit out of it, and there goes two hundred and fifty dollars right down all of our friends' gullets, and I think I'll remind them of that as they are eating it, just to be a jerk: "You're eating four of my dollars, so enjoy it, you bastard. You better not have bought us towels." What else? Oh, the invitations are done and are going out, after a bit more judicious weeding from the invitation list to get it down into a number we can express without resorting to scientific notation. Included in this tally was at least one dead person, who could have really livened things up. It would have been kind of neat to rig up the corpse of my dead great-aunt so that right in the middle of the ceremony, she could be hoisted up by wires and jerk around crazily, while a hidden recording blared out "UNCLEAN! UNHOLY UNION! THE DEAD RISE UP IN OPPOSITION!"
Second rejected idea: The secret conversations of my houseplants.
Oh, doesn't that sound ducky? I only have four houseplants and one little snippet of a houseplant that was given to me in the hopes that I would one day put it in soil, which of course will never happen. So it will die in the little specimen jar thingy I got it in, but the thing is, it's been not-dying for like six months now. Not so for his big brother, who is doing nothing but dying despite being in a very nice sunny spot and getting lots of water. I tried the other route: no sun and little water, but the little fucker hated that even more, and drooped and paled so aggressively, it looked like a vegetative wraith. I think it might be the soil, which looks like stony earth from Nosferatu's coffin; it holds no water and just looks redolent of evil, and pretty clearly betrays its arid Eastern European peasant past, and probably has fond memories of breaking poor Romanian hoes while peasant tears rained down upon it, and it heard their lamentations because there would be no potatoes this year, or any other. It's having a harder time with my houseplant, but it's getting there.
I also have two cactuses and an irradiated rubber tree. The cactuses are just as useless as all cactuses except for those cool big bastards that sometimes fall on desert rubes, and the irradiated rubber tree grows like something out of a fucking fifties movie like Them! and would someday make for a terribly cool retro-fifties horror movie if it could just grow some legs and eat fear-blighted townspeople, which at this point, it might, but then again I could always stave off that bit of nastiness by repotting it in the Romanian Soil of Morbidity.
Third rejected idea: The Arquette family.
This seemed initially most attractive, because look at them! What the fuck happened with this family? One started out in a Toto video, then paraded moistly through a few interesting oddities, like After Hours and by God, Pulp Fiction (albeit briefly) and then flamed out with terrible, soul-manglers like the impossible The Big Blue or the unwatchable Hope Floats. Last time she was seen, she was swallowing poison on the set of Joe Dirt.
Then the other one, the sheened pneumo-babe with the pickled brain, started out all va-va-voom in the slick, veneered True Romance, but then some similar malady took hold and then she found herself crying wetly through unspeakable horrors like Stigmata and Beyond Rangoon, that latter being a precise description of where all extant copies of that movie were quietly buried under a cairn piled high with dingo skulls and discarded babies.
And of course the most offensively afflicted of these sufferers of Arquette's Syndrome is unquestionably the vile, shambling idiot-mass known as David, whose turn in Scream seemed to verge on the not-horrible, but of course we all know what happened then: ghastly, flaming wreckage. Ready to Rumble, 3000 Miles to Graceland, and, worst of all, the AT&T commercials, where he proceeded to actually make you wish for Carrot Top, or if not Carrot Top, then perhaps a cold shotgun to suck on as you cursed the shabby little capering demigods that exist solely to invent the likes of David Arquette, whom at this point you aren't even capable of thanking for his one good deed, which was to gradually suck all the marrow out of Courtney Cox until she resembled a rattling scarecrow hung with tattered leather.
That's what I didn't write about tonight. Tomorrow: On the usage of frightening run-on sentences.