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Thursday, 31 July
In The Evening

Just a little postlet this evening, as I have been out doing various things:

1. Watching our car hork out incredible blats of terrible grey smoke from the tailpipe. Because the wife and I are hopeless fools when it comes to complicated machines like cars, computers, inclined planes and simple hinges, it is entirely possible that we overfilled the car with oil. Currently, it is parked up on 12th Street, where it will sit forlornly until we can locate someone technically sophisticated enough to help us figure out where the oil drain is. I'm guessing it's somewhere tricky, like perhaps in the hatch door, or maybe Flin Flon, Canada.

2. Despite our vehicular titty-twister, we still managed to make it to Safeco Field, where we watched our Ms do the Frug on the crotches of the hopeless Detroit Tigers, a team which has a small, humble prayer of actually achieving 60 wins this season. If they make this arm-pumpless goal, expect them to thank the beneficient voodoo gods and sacrifice a vole to Papa Legba on home plate. STAT OF THE GAME: Detroit's starting pitcher lasted 2/3 of an inning, and left with 9 Seattle runs on the board, 8 earned. Meanwhile in the stands, certain unnamed spectators guzzled 24-ounce beers (at eight bucks a pop) filled with peanut shrapnel (flung there by malicious friends who deserve only sharp jabs to the throat).

3. But before any of that happened, there was my Convenience Store Experience. My local convenience store is owned by, it is almost embarrassing to say just because of its stereotypicality, a genial Korean man. He greets me with a stock array of blandosities: "It is hot!" "Hello Skot!" "It is the helpful man!" (I once helped him decipher a bullshit threatening letter that turned out to be an extortionate missive that implied baseless lawsuit.) But my favorite is, "You need cigarettes!" Which is of course true, but you'd never hear that from your butcher. "You need flank steak!" Maybe I just love unpredictable, confident declaratives.

Today when I walked in to buy smokes, there was such a strange din coming from his stereo behind the counter. For a moment, I couldn't figure it out. It seemed to be some racket (not musical) with a guy babbling strangely, and then raucous laughter. Then I finally got it: it was a CD of Korean stand-up comedy.

I thought: "What the fuck? Koreans don't do stand-up." Then I felt exceedingly stupid: that's like saying Koreans don't bathe or something. And then I thought: "Man, I wish I could understand this Korean stand-up." And then I thought, "Man, I wish I could do Korean stand-up."

Wouldn't that be fucking great? I mean, I love making Americans laugh. But how cool would it be to make Koreans laugh, and then stare at the rest of the non-Korean world and think, "Yeah, sorry. This one's just for the Koreans." And then the icing on the cake, your tax return. Occupation? "Korean Stand-Up Comic."

I'd actually anticipate the audit, just to see their faces.

Tuesday, 29 July
Noir Dire

I sat in my dusty cubicle looking out the window at the noonday sun and thought about going downstairs for a gasper, but the oppressive heat changed my mind. Walking outside was like entering the center of a freshly baked pie, and the winos and the skells would be down in the gulag, puking freshets and rapping their scabbed knuckles on the chain link. Nothing I couldn't handle. Those mooks from Cytogenetics were all talk.

But what I needed was a job. The phone hadn't rang in months and my dame was nagging me about it. I leaned back in my chair and fetched a bottle of Mr. Pibb from my desk drawer and took a long pull. It wasn't whisky, but it would have to do. I tugged the brim of my fedora down and settled in for forty winks while wrapped in the embrace of my battered trenchcoat.

Moments later, there was a rustle of fabric and a gentle tapping at my half-wall. I peered up from under my hat and checked out a broad. I knew her. I knew her well. Well enough to know that she was trouble. Angie. She slinked around the corner of the cube, hips moving under her Dockers. She gave me a smile like an Escoffier recipe: saucy and impenetrable. She wanted something.

"Kurruk," she said in a voice like a sack of tenpenny nails dropping into a vat of sweet molasses. The Estonian plosives of my name sounded good in her mouth. Too good. "I have a job for you."

I let the corners of my mouth twitch up into a flinty smile. "A job, huh. What brings little Angie slumming all the way down from glitzy, ritzy AppDev to my humble little flop?" I motioned for her to take a seat, remembering too late that I only had the one chair.

"This project," she said, her mouth disgorging the words like a mother bird feeding her young, "is delicate. That's why I came to you."

Right. Delicate. Skot Kurruk is about as delicate as a solid brass crapper, and she knew it. I let it pass with a hard smile and shot a Camel Ultra Light out of the pack. Delicate. I put the coffin nail in my mouth and then casually didn't light it, because of various workplace regulations.

She continued. "We've got this specimen tracking project," she breathed, probably in order to live, "and it's got to have everything. See, someone wants to send a tissue sample to a lab, and then the lab needs to log receiving it. But then say the lab needs to cut that sample into slides--"

"Stained or unstained?" I barked. It was all I knew about slides, but I wanted to knock her rhythm and see how she danced then.

"Who cares?" she said. Damn. She was a killer.

"Go on," I retorted. My unlit cigarette was getting damp.

"So they cut the tissue into slides, and then they send some of those slides to another lab. But it's all part of the same original sample, with the same identifier, but now it's actually two or three or for different samples--sometimes they're called aliquots--and maybe it's in two or three different places. You getting this?"

"Sure, babe." Pure chin-waggle. She was being as clear as Kurt Vonnegut.

"Good. That's the job. You need to figure it out." She pulled out a thick sheaf of greenbacks--what we in the trade call pieces of paper. "So, Skot," she purred and laid down the stack on my desk. "You think you can handle it?" Pure challenge.

I couldn't believe her guff. If she were a guy, I'd have him rubbing his jaw and picking himself off the floor by now in my mind. But I stayed cool and gave her another smile from my dusty gray filing cabinet of Damn Good Smiles. I reached inside my trenchcoat and pulled out my gat, a beauty I liked to call Bess. I held it up in the dusty fluorescent light, the metal cold and heavy in my hand.

"I think old Bessie and I can help you," I said, cooler than Zima. I put Bess down on the stack of papers and she winked in the light. Angie stared at it.

"That's one . . . big stapler," she breathed admiringly. She raised one eyebrow into the shape of a provocative, hairy tilde.

"Loaded for bear," I grunted. "You better scoot now, sugar," not actually saying "sugar" due to various workplace regulations. "I'll call you when I'm finished."

She squeezed out of the cube, then, pausing momentarily to run a finger over the broken thermostat regulator hanging from the wall. She looked back at me, a vision in khaki. "Thanks."

"It's my job." Snap of the brim, and she was gone. I looked down at the papers and heaved a sigh. My job isn't usually pretty, and this was no different. I was up to my armpits in stink, and I didn't have a menthol rub in sight.

I picked up Bess and started the worst of it: the wetwork. Bess screamed like metal falcon as she ate holes in the stacks of paper, her exit wounds neat and compact; Bess is a precision instrument, and it didn't take too long to achieve Max Collation. Finally, it was done, and I sat back wearily. I'm getting too damn old for this, I thought. I wondered about what to do next.

Aliquots, I thought. It sounded like . . . salvation. It also sounded like a brand of almonds, or possibly a remote South Sea island. Aliquots. Aliquots. I whispered the word in my mind as I slipped into a troubled doze.
Aliquots. I have no god damned idea what she's talking about.

And slept the sleep of the ignorant.

Friday, 25 July
My Timing Is Peccable

UPDATE:

I still feel crummy, but I soldiered into work today, because I HAD MADE A COMMITMENT, DAMMIT. Japanese visitor! Software demo! Must! Fulfill! Commitment! To! Offend! Visitor! I take my James T. Kirkian dramatic vows seriously, you see.

So, here I am. Wearing slacks and a linen shirt, rather than my usual garb: tattered shorts and a Nine Inch Nails t-shirt dating to 1990. Yes. I am resplendent (if unshaven; I hate shaving, as does any right-thinking person, but I'm so goddamned beautiful that it hardly matters); I am so fucking professional and put-together that lesser employees everywhere are vomiting in shame. And vomit they should! Fucking pikers. Are your shoes as glinty-black as mine? I think not. And my trousers are stupendous.

So it was with justifiable pride moments ago that I marched upstairs to the bosslady's office (lucky girl!) to discuss today's meeting with the Japanese visitor. "BOSSLADY!" I screamed importantly, "Notice that I have tucked my shirt in for today's visit! Am I not every person's desire?" I strutted and preened for her.

The Bosslady stared at me for a moment, and then said, "Ah, there must be a mistake. He's not coming here until August 25th."

I could just cry.

Mad Babblings Of The Infirm

Sorry about the paucity of posts as of late; I felt really crummy today, and couldn't shake it, so I went home at lunchtime and slept for about three hours. This was only marginally different than being at work, as I was able to stretch out on a couch rather than loll bonelessly in my office chair, but it really made a difference. And that difference was: I didn't have to listen to the chittering geeks while I slept. What a luxury.

Sadly, I don't have the option of skipping out tomorrow as well, because I am giving a software demonstration to a Japanese visitor tomorrow from a kind of sister organization, JCOG (Japanese Clinical Oncology Group); I've done this many times. For some reason (it might be genuine interest or perhaps some quizzical kind of work ethic alien to our culture), I do this a lot. We get many Japanese visitors.

And they're great! They're unfailingly kind, to a sort of ridiculous degree--the last time I did this, the visitor was moved to give me a gift. It was some piece of fabric with Kanji figures on it: I couldn't quite figure out what it was. It now does double duty as either a potholder or a kitchen towel, which I assume has earned me some special spot in Shinto Hell. I get the feeling that if I offend enough cultures, I can kind of shuttle around between eternal punishments when I'm dead. I'll be like a traveling Dante, only participating rather than observing. "Okay! That was an interesting thousand years being eaten by raving zombie children. Cheerio! I'm off to visit the land of 1000 Frozen Ghosts!"

But the software demo is a slam-dunk; the real worrying part is actually trying to cope with my own awful American feel-badness; like a jerk, I typically assume that all Japanese people regard us with popular stereotypes, and I kind of fantasize about playing into them. "Won't you follow me to our cot room? This is where we take naps. Please notice the gumball machines and pornography vendors. We can't keep away from here! Whoops! And here I've been talking your ear off for four minutes! Where are my manners? Please: have a shot of whiskey."

Oh, it's going to be an exciting, defibrillation-inducing day. I can't wait.

I sure hope they like our whiskey.

Tuesday, 22 July
CSI Yi Yi

Helicopter shot of the Las Vegas strip with hip, ominous music. Cut to montage of cleavage, poker chips, slot machines, cleavage. Cut to tracking shot of sidestreet leading to a nondescript small church. Police tape can be seen, and CSIs are milling around snapping on rubber gloves. Nothing gets to these people, including any kind of characterization that causes me to remember their names, so I'll just make most of them up. Tight shot on Grissom, the fearless and analytical leader; in a hopeless and futile attempt at injecting some continuity and pathos to this show, the writers have decided that he's going deaf for some reason. The Flinty Young Gal CSI is speaking to him, but all he hears are Charlie Brown-parent noises.

FYGCSI: Waaah waaah wa-wa-wa-wah. Waah.

Grissom says nothing, and nods sagely. He realizes that FYGCSI always looks kind of like someone who just found out that they were out of milk. He's staring at something on the church doorstep.

Cut to a wheelbarrow filled with the hacked-up remains of a person, a stuffed rabbit, and a dildo autographed by Stockard Channing. Like all CSI premises, this is wildly improbable, but by the end, all will be made quite clear.

Grissom: (Unneccessarily) Looks like we've got a hack-and-bunny job with a geographical twist.

FYGCSI: It's no church offering.

Grissom: (Impassively examining the body parts) You need a lot of force to get through bone. I'm thinking axe. Or possibly badger attack.

But then Grissom spots something! ZWIIIIIP and the camera does a vertiginous zoom down to a close-up of a knuckle of bone; it has curious scrapes on it. The whole thing is incredibly repulsive.

Grissom: My mistake. Machining marks. Unless I miss my guess--and I never do--this person went through a tree debarker.

FYGCSI: A debarker?

Grissom: Yes. In this case, the bark is definitely not worse than the bite.

Having drawn yet again on his inexhaustible store of nightmarish puns, Grissom raises an eyebrow and the camera cuts away to the opening credits while Roger Daltrey screams the lyrics to "Who Are You," which makes me vaguely sad. Then I remember I'm watching the merely ridiculous CSI as opposed to its ghastly sequel, the inventively titled CSI: Miami, and I feel a bit better.

After commercials, we see The Big Clod and Warrick (or however you spell it--the token black guy with the gambling problem that he spent two heroic episodes irrelevantly getting over) chatting with a Quirky Lab Rat. QLR has hair that looks as if it is home to exotic birds.

QLR: I gotcher DNA results. Dos equis.

Warrick: (Glancing at The Big Clod) Two Xs. Female.

TBC: Buh.

(Note: It is deeply uncool for CSIs to ever relay information in a straightforward manner. Terms must always be couched in cute shorthand or mouth-breaking jargon. Hence, QLR's stupid pun.)

Warrick: Grissom still processing the scene?

QLR: That's what he said on the phone.

Warrick: I'm going to go have a look at the vic. You take the bunny?

TBC: Boot.

Cut to Warrick in the lab, watching the Jaded Forensic Guy carefully and dispassionately rearranging the puzzle-woman.

JFG: Nasty. I figure she got tossed into the debarker about . . . six or seven hours ago, based on the degree of lividity in the severed buttocks. Her corneal glaze index is five, which agrees with that, as does the liver temperature and the thymus gland squeeze coefficient.

(CSI can keep this horseshit up indefinitely. It's best not to actually listen to the words.)

Warrick: So our vic went down around midnight.

JFG: Yeah. And see this abrasion? (ZWIIPP! Close up of a graphic skin wound. It is utterly horrifying.) Classic palmar shear. Definitely had her arm grasped by . . . I'd say a left-handed panther wrangler.

Warrick: (Totally unfazed, almost thinking out loud) . . . animal act at the Tropicana . . .

We are treated to a flashback "possibility" montage; blurry figures are struggling; we hear a woman's scream; we see we are in a sawmill; a man is wrestling with her atop some awful chain-driven device, and then the woman is plunged into it. Loving closeups of the machinery rending her body into chili meat. It is unbelievably revolting.

Suddenly, the Sexy Older Female CSI sticks her head in the door.

SOFCSI: Warrick? You'd better come see this.

Warrick: What?

SOFCSI: The Big Clod locked himself in the bathroom again.

Offscreen we hear a muffled cry. "GLUD!" Warrick and SOFCSI crack up. The JFG stares at them like they are misbehaving petri samples.

Cut to Grissom in another lab, staring at a computer screen. He is statue-still, and one can imagine actually seeing his hair grow. Obligingly, ZWIIIP! The camera zooms in to Grissom's scalp, down the the follicle, being fed by tiny capillaries, and the hair-root pulses malignantly as it squeezes a bit more hair upwards a fraction of an inch. The whole thing is unbelievably disgusting.

Grissom: (Loving his follicular vitality) Rrrrr.

He clacks at the keyboard, and the computer does something unnecessarily flashy and cool, especially for any kind of government-related programming, which normally looks like it was designed by blind accountants.

Grissom: Now I see.

We don't. We don't know what the fuck is going on. It's too dim to see anything in the lab anyway; it looks like it's lit for some incredibly clinical porn shoot, and the blue light pools around Grissom noirishly.

Suddenly, the author of this website realizes that he's pulled just about enough out of his ass for the evening, so he cuts to the end. Grissom is sitting across from the perpetrator, who sweats perfectly. Grissom interrogates the victim, which is kind of puzzling to the actual police detectives lounging uselessly in the room, not to mention the viewers.

Grissom: The rector ID'd the bunny as his. And it's got your DNA all over its fur. And we know that the dildo came from your girlfriend's memorabilia collection, didn't it?

Perp: (Sneers) You can't prove any of that.

Grissom: Oh, but I can. See, at the sawmill, you left behind traces of panther hair. Which we traced to your female, Bathsheba. A panther, sir, that appeared in a movie with Stockard Channing, who autographed your girlfriend's sex apparatus. QED.

The viewer gasps in amazement and utter perplexity. What the fuck is he talking about? It doesn't matter.

Perp: (Hissing) Damn you. Who the hell do you think you are?

Grissom: I'm just the man . . . who finds the truth.

The perp looks poleaxed by this piety while the viewers guffaw at the writers' shocking ineptitude. They make Harold Pinter seem like free 'n' easy natural dialogue. The perp is led away, probably still thinking, "Did he really say that? What a dork."

The Big Clod and FYGCSI come in.

FYGCSI: Another day's work at the lab.

Grissom: I don't work for the lab. I work . . . for the victims.

The viewers go crazy! Stop it! You're killing us!

FYGCSI: Well, nice work.

TBC: Carl.

Grissom: You too. She came. He sawmilled. We conquered.

Cut to credits as the viewers scream HOLY FUCKING SHIT! That was really something. Suspenseful, creative, and, as always, incredibly revolting.

Monday, 21 July
Unrelated Geeky Addendum

In other news, does this Trackback pinging thing ever work? Not that I know much about it, or care, really, but this phrase is about to enter my everyday lexicon:

One or more errors occurred when sending update or TrackBack pings.

I'm going to start saying this to friends when they're spouting nonsense.

"Skot, we want you to be Richard Dawson."

"Sorry, one or more errors occurred when sending update or TrackBack pings."

"What? You fucking freak."

"Your entry has been saved."

How Many Times Will We Say "Tinkle"?

It seems that I have been coaxed into a soon-to-happen project that was all my damn idea in the first place: a staged version of the old Match Game shows. The idea is, we get a bunch of comic actors onstage and recreate the game show with them mimicking the old bunch of seventies C-list drunks like Bret Somers, Charles Nelson Reilly, etc.

So I guess I'll be there, on one side of me Fannie Flagg (man in drag, of course), and on the other, Betty White. And I will sit there, trying as best I can to ooze unctious charm, studio lights glinting from the ostentatious necklace resting on my turtleneck, kissing anything that moves: Richard Dawson.

Oh, dear.

Thursday, 17 July
Buying Booze Made Miserable

At my local liquor store, the employees are friendly. And colorful. There is the hale red-faced man, who looks rather like a cross between a lumberjack and Gabe Kaplan. I'm pretty sure that for him, working in a liquor store is a lot like a boll weevil finding employ at the Gap; he always looks slightly boozed. Then there is the college-age kid, whose every expression bears the tale "The Boy Who Is Marking Time At This Idiotic Place," and always carries the demeanor of someone who is deeply ashamed at being made to wear a state-issue vest (liquor stores in Washington are, idiotically, run by the state, prompting non-insane people everywhere to wonder why the state government is in the business of booze retailing). There is also the very sweet, very homely transsexual (pre- or post-op I cannot, nay will not, speculate); it kind of cheers me up whenever I see her-not-him, because I figure jobs don't just fall out of the sky for patently obvious transsexuals.

And then there's the other guy. Where the others are all sort of endearing, this guy is emphatically not. He's probably in his late forties or early fifties, with a horrid greasy gray ponytail that sort of screams "aspiring child molester." His posture is notably slumped and weirdly non-Euclidian; when I see him walk, I have a vague urge to fling protractors at him. And he is utterly fireproof in terms of clue-obtainment; no matter how cold I am to him, no matter how insistently I look at anything but him, no matter if I fling myself into a Jim Beam display in order to avoid his approach, he will still talk to me. "Say! You sure fucked up my Jim Beam display! Hey, that reminds me, you ever done peyote?"

I'm only exaggerating a little bit. He really did ask me one day if I had done peyote, and then, before I could answer, launched into an account of his experiences with the divine puke-buttons. Another time, he noticed I was carrying a book with me (Dave Eggers' You Shall Know Our Velocity!, which is pretty much inferior in every way to A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius), and asked about it. "It's fine," I said curtly. He went on to inform me who his favorite authors were: Robert Ludlum and Louis L'Amour. "They died in the same year!" he continued. "I assume you had something to do with that," I wanted to say. (I have no idea if what he told me was true, because I frankly don't give a fuck.)

It's a statement about how difficult it must be to get fired from a state job that this guy is still around. He is clearly loathed by all the others; I have swapped many eyeball-rolls with them as the odious little shambling man has done things like scream "SHIT!" right there in the store when he drops something. I recently found out that the wife, when buying a bottle of whisky, endured comments to the effect that he enjoyed the idea of waking up next to a woman after a whisky-fueled night. And another time, he pointed out to me another customer whom he obviously disliked, and made jerk-off motions to indicate this. As my credit card transaction was being processed at the time, I managed to hold back the wracking sobs of horror until I finally got outside.

But a while ago, I was able to extract some tiny measure of vengeance. As usual, while I waited for the interminable credit transaction to take place, he was maundering on about something wildly uninteresting: his fellow state workers at the main warehouse and their apparent incapability of filling his stock orders correctly. Like I fucking care. He kept bitching, while I stared emptily at the gaily colored poster informing me about the ridiculous amount of taxes I was paying for this bottle of booze. He still wouldn't shut up, and was still complaining about the warehouse people. Then I had a thought.

"Yeah," I broke in, a genial smile spreading over my face, "State workers. They don't have to care, right? Half-assed is good enough for government work." He looked like I had shat into his yogurt. I grinned placidly.

"Well . . . I . . . you know, I have to take exception with that, mister. I work for the state."

Gee, no shit?

"Oh, hey, nothing on you. I'm just saying. I used to work for the forest service! (This is true.) So I know how it is. Hey, everyone takes their breaks, right? Sometimes for years on end." Here I smiled conspiratorially.

He was clearly offended all to hell. This made me wonderfully happy, because I figured, Great! I found just the right button to push! Like a lot of dumbfucks, he took ridiculous pride in the job that he managed to foully misperform every day! He won't talk to me any more!

I went back a week later, and he was there as I walked in. "Hey, how the fuck are ya?" he hollered happily.

I cannot win.

Wednesday, 16 July
Star Trek: The Dumb Generation

(The bridge of the Enterprise.)

Picard: Ah, space. The inky expanse; the cold glitter of the stars. How it soothes me with its limitless wonder . . . we are adrift on the sea of night, and I captain this fragile vessel through its troubled waters. What manner of being might we meet next? Ferengi? Borg? Mormons? No matter what foe or what crisis, I will remain courageously bald. Yessss. (Pause.) Christ, I'm bored. WESLEY! Status!

Wesley: Everyone hates me, sir.

Picard: Yes, I've seen the mail.

Wesley: I hate our writers.

Picard: Quiet, ensign. Number One! I require entertainment. Please favor us with a gratuitous trombone solo.

Riker: Aye aye, sir! (He begins playing trombone. As he skronks away miserably, the rest of the bridge staff roll their eyes and pantomime vomiting. Worf in particular seems quite afflicted, and his forehead prosthesis quivers threateningly.)

Worf: (howling) RES IPSA LOQUITUR! ANNIKA SORENSTAM! DONDE ES LA CASA DE PEPE?

(Worf launches himself at Riker and beats him to death with the trombone. The bridge staff stares in horror.)

Picard: MISTER WORF! Explain yourself! This is the ninetieth time you have lapsed into incomprehensible Klingon and completely defied all Federation protocol, for which I have never once punished you! Tell me now why I should not do so now!

Worf: Did you hear him?

Picard: . . . well . . .

Worf: And don't tell me you weren't sick of that mustache.

Picard: . . . well . . .

(Another Riker enters from the turbolift. He is clean-shaven.)

All: ANOTHER RIKER!

Riker: Yes, you see (mumble mumble) transporter reflection (mutter mutter) bounced the signal (mrrf mfff) creative desperation (ugga oob) so you see, I am an exact copy of the old Riker! (He sees the mangled corpse on the floor.) Uh, but friskier!

Picard: I see.

Troi: He's dreamy.

Riker: Deanna. Darling. I only have eyes for you, and several dozen other women.

Troi: I know, my love. You are a pussyhound. I understand.

Riker: Rad.

LaForge: Fucking shit!

Picard: Mr. LaForge!

LaForge: Captain . . . I've picked up something on long range scanners. I think it's the Crystalline Entity! Oh, this is a frightening fuck in the deepening dark!

Data: Confirmed, Captain. The Entity is approaching at warp nine.

Picard: The Crystalline Entity. Jesus wept. Can't somebody put this fucking thing through a dishwasher cycle or something? What's next, the Ming Vase Monster?

Worf: Captain, not that you asked, but I recommend DOING GLORIOUS BATTLE WITH THIS STUPEFYINGLY POWERFUL BEING THAT WILL ALMOST CERTAINLY MEAN THE DEATH OF US ALL!

Troi: I can't believe I dated you.

Picard: Silence! I'm bald! (Tense pause, then he taps his communicator badge.) Bridge to Doctor Crusher!

Crusher: (audio) Yes, Captain? And before you say anything else, you haven't had your regulation physical in over six months. You will comply with my wishes or I will once again peevishly threaten to remove you from command.

Picard: (sotto voce) How many times does this woman have to fondle my nuts? (To Crusher) Acknowledged, Doctor. You have as always been no help at all. I will contact you later so we may generate fruitless sexual tension. Picard out.

Crusher: Crusher out, much like my husband whose death you are responsible for.

Picard: You kill one husband and that's all you hear about . . .

Data: Captain! The Entity is closing.

Picard: What are its coordinates?

Data: Relative to what? We're in space.

Picard: Belay that order!

Data: (bewildered) What?

Picard: No time! Geordi, can you get a transporter lock?

LaForge: No, Captain! Fuck my ass! The transporters are down! Motherfucker!

Worf: Captain! My two-hundred pound honorific metal bandolier is extremely heavy and is chafing my nipples!

Data: Sir, we are running out of time. If you wish, I can do things really fast on the computer.

Picard: Faster than talking to it?

Data: No, sir. But it looks really cool when I do things fast.

Picard: Make it so!

(Data does things really fast.)

Wesley: Captain, I'm beginning to glow with dewy innocence.

Picard: Understood, Mr. Crusher. This will push the NAMBLA numbers way up.

Wesley: What?

Troi: Quiet, Wesley, not now. Look at my breasts.

Wesley: Hey, those are great!

Data: Captain, I am afraid I was unsuccessful in doing things really fast. The Crystalline Entity is about to . . . shine bright lights at us or something.

Picard: (grimly) Damn.

LaForge: Fuck me with a vault pole!

Picard: The Entity must not be allowed to take this ship. (Tense pause. Riker is glancing nervously at the mangled trombone.) I have to activate the self-destruct sequence.

(Everyone on the bridge rolls their eyes and groans, except for Worf.)

Worf: YES! All Klingons want to die! Let's die already! This will be so cool.

Riker: Sir, will this be the self-destruct sequence that requires both the captain and first officer to agree, or the one where only the captain is required to initiate it. Because if you don't need me, I could use a shave. I'm about to grow another mustache.

Worf: Uh, wait. Is this still honorable? Self-destructing? It's kind of cool on the one hand, but on the other, it's not really battle. I don't want to be a wuss. (Pause.) Whatever. This never works anyway.

LaForge: (apropos of nothing) FUCK! Man, I like swearing.

Data: The Entity has reached something cool sounding, such as imminent proximity.

Picard: Brace for impact!

Troi: Captain! I sense another presence! Something else is here!

(Q appears on the bridge and begins mincing.)

All: Q!

Q: Well, well, Pee-kard! Got yourself into a bit of a folderol, haven't you? Hmm? A fooforaw? Fiddlesticks!

(Q minces some more.)

Picard: Q! Is this your doing?

Q: Oh, Pee-kard. Remember when I was on Days of Our Lives?

(Q continues mincing.)

Picard: Q! Explain yourself! I don't have to take any guff from capricious omnipotent beings!

Riker: (menacingly, reaching for his dumb phaser) Q, don't make me . . .

(Q turns Riker into a banana.)

Q: He really was much more butch with the mustache.

Picard: (pate steaming) Q! Help us for ill-defined reasons! Now!

Q: Oh, all right, you tiresome little mite. (Snaps fingers.)

Data: Captain, the Entity has vanished.

Picard: Cancel red alert.

Wesley: Uh, you never called for a . . .

Picard: Q, now that you have imperiled us, and then saved us, get off my ship.

Q: Oh, mon capitaine, we shall meet again! (He vanishes.)

LaForge: Fuck, man. I mean, hell. Hell, hell, hell. Also, damn.

Worf: Christ, I swear, I'm never going to die. (Morosely) Man, I want to die.

Data: Orders, captain?

Picard: First star on the left, Mr. Data. Straight on until morning. Engage.

(Pause as the bridge staff contemplates the majesty of space.)

Troi: Is anyone going to eat that banana?

(Fade to credits.)

Monday, 14 July
A Miracle In The Temple

Something momentous occurred today.

My toilet got fixed.

A little backstory (haw!): since we moved into this apartment, the toilet has always been a cranky old bastard. The outlet valve was dodgy, and sometimes didn't fall into place, and the tank would gargle malevolently as it wasted vast quantities of water while we ineffectually jiggled the handle, trying to pacify the wretched beast. But worse than that was the inlet valve that sits atop the float; as it struggled to refill the tank, it hissed anemically, spraying water in a thin spittle that would literally take as long as twenty fucking minutes to refill the tank. This was bad news when you found yourself having to take a crap, only to hear the doom-flush of Ye Olde Floor Tuba in the bathroom courtesy of someone else, and you'd realize: Fuck! It's going to take twenty minutes to fill up before I can flush again! Then you had a choice: sit for twenty minutes or squirm for twenty minutes.

You end up taking that sort of thing personally after a while. And because I am unbalanced, I attributed it all to accumulated aggression on the toilet's part. I imagined its cognizant soul, a deeply jaded and angry spirit that lived somewhere deep within its workings, thinking vile thoughts: Twenty five years I've had to placidly sit here whilst various humans have lowered their unlovely asses onto me and done unspeakable things. Drunks have pissed on my feet and vomited into my lap. Well, well. I can't do much. But I sure can make you wait for nearly half an hour before you can drop the next payload of fun, can't I? Chew on that, you lousy goo merchants!

But no longer. Today, at long last, I think our nightmare might be over. The plumber was summoned, and he waved his bejeweled plunger over the recalcitrant beast; when it shuddered, he caressed its sides and whispered complex hoodoos into the thing's lid; and when it cried, he held it like a mother. And after the ordeal, the toilet was reborn, its purpose restored, its hate dispelled. It is once again childishly eager to receive our benighted asses, and it coos when we enter the temple to perform our gastrointestinal sacraments.

I love this toilet, and it loves me. When I flush, it gives a mighty throaty roar, like the howl of a Gorgon. The mighty valve blasts water into the tank, singing a song of hydrodynamic hosannas, and fills the tank in under two minutes flat. This is a toilet with some fucking panache, people. In fact, I can't stop flushing it. I dance to the song of its mightiness, and I know sublimity. I have flushed this toilet 138 times in a row now. And I don't think I will stop, not tonight anyway.

It's the music of the spheres. One of the spheres even folds down. If that's not magic, I don't know what is.

Thursday, 10 July
Cryptic Instructions About Food

Corn should be eaten by rolling the cob vertically and eating in neat strips. "Typewriter" style eating methods are unacceptable, unless one is a socialist.

Avoid weirdo foods. These include: Gravlax. Quinoa. Spaetzle. Substitute juniper berries when in doubt.

Herring! Say it a few times, and it will sound like a brand of bubble gum. It is not.

Peas are to be worshipped. Unjacket them and admire their green vulnerable nudity. Get nude yourself if you wish. Place one in your bellybutton. Listen to it. It speaks volumes. Learn. Then eat that tasty fucker.

Figs? Figs? Figs.

Jerky should be eaten often. Do it for Jeremy Piven. Do it for the forgotten Thessalians. Do it.

Eggs are of course a staple. This common household item is associated with the feminine, and as such, should be routinely maltreated. Pay them less than you do your celery. Exclude them from opportunity. Encourage them to flounce.

It is inadvisable to serve juice without bursting through a brick wall and screaming "OH YEAH!" Inform the EMTs that the little Hawaiian Punch dude is a total pussy. Wear your scalp wounds like a badge, a badge that says, "Damn, I serve good juice."

Eggplant requires very little. A bit of salt, a touch of pepper, and then grill delicate slices, drizzling them with olive oil. Grill marks are a plus. When they have browned perfectly, remove them from the grill onto a platter. Then take the platter out into the street and throw it at passing cars. That way, you don't have to eat any disgusting fucking eggplant.

Wednesday, 09 July
Great Moments In Not Learning, Pt. II

I had such a blast writing about these the other day, and I thought of other lovely misadventures, so what the hell.

. . .

Sixth Grade. Again, Mr. Bald's class. I've been a dedicated bookworm all my life, so then as now, I didn't go practically anywhere without a book in my hand. I had, over the past couple days, been stifling laughter over my book with limited success; it was really cracking my shit up, and it apparently caught the notice of J. (NOT the really popular J. from the previous entry, but shyly pretty J., who would later become MY FIRST GIRLFRIEND for about five days). J. came over and asked me what was so funny. I told her about my book, and about how dang funny it was, so she asked me if she could borrow it for a little while, as she was done with her homework. Why not? A girl would owe me a favor. Nothing to lose here.

She took it and sat down, and I shot her a few warm looks as she read, but she didn't look up; she was kind of engrossed. Cool! I went back to my own business. Then, about fifteen minutes later, I caught a glimpse of her: to my mounting horror, she was getting up, book in hand, and walking up to Mr. Bald. Showing him the book. Pointing to a page. Asking something. And then pointing at me when Mr. Bald had obviously asked where she'd gotten it. It was then that I thought I was really fucked.

The book, you see, was Catcher in the Rye, and the particular term that had baffled J. was "whore." Now, those of you who are doubting our level of naivete at the time, or my overblown fear of getting busted over it would do to remember that this was over twenty years ago in Deepest Idaho. This was, to a lot of people, just fucking smut, and we farm kids knew fuckall about sex (see next entry). So I was feeling pretty cooked when Mr. Bald confiscated the book and told me that I could see him after class. Some other kids shot me quizzical looks, like perhaps I had smuggled a copy of Juggs into school.

But I had misjudged Mr. Bald. After class, he returned my book and said, "I'm really very glad you're reading this, but I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't bring it to school, okay? It just might be . . . disruptive." I said okay, and he said, "Anything else?"

Well . . . I was marginally more sophisticated than J. I knew what a whore was. But . . . I held up the book. "Well, can you tell me what a 'scag' is?" Mr. Bald pursed his lips. "Ask your dad."

. . .

Seventh Grade. As most of you probably realize (at least the Americans), most seventh graders exist for one purpose only: to be picked on by eighth graders. This Is The Law. Anyway, in seventh grade, in classic boy fashion, I picked up some piece of garbage off the sidewalk, because it looked interesting. It wasn't, but that never stops little boys. What it was was a little clicker-counter device that incremented up one digit with every click; this one had the capacity to go all the way up to 99999 before rolling back over to 00000. Figuring I had nothing better to do for the rest of my life, I decided to carry it around, clicking it constantly in my free time, just so I could see the INCREDIBLY SPECTACULAR MOMENT when it rolled over. So I did.

In addition to being a nearly farcical irritant to those around me, it had another downside: it got noticed. This is never good news for seventh graders. Soon enough, some eighth grade guys noticed me doing this all the time. "Hey Kurruk!" they'd menace me, "What the hellya doing with that? Is that your jack-off counter? That how many times you jack off?" I muttered into my shoes and walked away. I had no idea what they were talking about.

So I asked someone, namely my best friend B., who was no more worldly than I was, but B. had an impressive mullet, so I figured he'd be worth a shot. And he was!

"Hey, B., what's 'jacking off'?"

Look of incredulity. "You don't know what jacking off is?"

Shameful admission of spazosity: "No."

B. laughed at my horrifying ignorance. "It means fucking! Jacking off is fucking somebody!"

I found this information very interesting. And the next day, sure enough, it had become a routine catcall: "Hey, Kurruk, still jacking off, man? That your jack-off machine?" But this time, I knew what the game was! I raised my chin defiantly and brandished my clicker like a talisman.

"Yeah! This is my JACK-OFF machine! I've jacked off over FIVE THOUSAND TIMES!"

They stared silently at me for a moment, and I felt the flush of victory, briefly, before it was rapidly crushed as they all burst out into wild, hysterical laughter, pointing at me, laughing so hard they bent over double, and I realized that something had gone horribly wrong.

The jack-off jokes lasted a really, really long time, well after I learned the actual act it defined, which at least proved to be somewhat mollifying.

Monday, 07 July
Great Moments In Not Learning

A few recollected snippets from my grade school memories.

Math class with Mr. Porn Moustache. We had been given a big test the previous day. Enter J. J. is the prettiest girl in our grade, and of course quite popular, and, for reasons known only to herself, generally nice to me. Anyway, she's typically effervescent as she walks into class and as she wanders by Mr. Porn Moustache's desk, she tosses her hair and tinkles, "Hi, Mr. P.M.! Did you get our little testes taken care of?"

. . .

Sixth grade with Mr. Bald. I liked Mr. Bald, who let me joke about said baldness . . . once. But anyway, in his class, I was sitting next to my geek friend M., who was a frighteningly good artist and, incidentally, a diabetic. We were utter tools; at one point we decided to see if we could forge a "psychic link," and spent much time furiously thinking of funny shapes or objects and seeing if the other could scribble down a picture of it. Once he showed me a drawing of a beetle. "Is that close?" I stared at it; I had been thinking of the Millennium Falcon. "Yes," I said, "that's really close."

Mr. Bald was droning on about some fucking thing one day, and it must have been something interesting, because there were a lot of questions and digressions and discussion and so forth; kids were waving their hands around like semaphores. Not M. though; he sat quietly with his hand up, waiting patiently for about twenty minutes, which was odd in and of itself, because M. was, in true geek fashion, painfully shy. But he apparently was going to have his say. Finally, finally, Mr. Bald called on M.

"Yes, M.? You've been patient."

"I'm having a reaction, Mr. Bald."

Mr. Bald wigged out. "JESUS! Don't just sit there! Go get some juice or something!" He looked poleaxed. So did we; yelling "Jesus!" in a classroom in deepest Idaho is, ah, just not done.

It shames me now, but for a long time, I thought that M.'s diabetic reactions were really cool. It was, I think, an early hint of why people experiment with drugs: "I wonder what that's like?" On the other hand, it's possible that I'm just a fucking weirdo.

. . .

Geography time with Mrs. . . . Somebody. Let's call her Mrs. Shoes, because I'm pretty sure she wore some. We're looking at a map of Europe, and Mrs. Shoes is pointing at good old Italy. "Now, Italy here is pretty easy to recognize, because most people think it looks like something familiar. Can you see it? Anyone?"

A red-haired kid named D. raises his hand. D. was a nice kid, I remember, not terribly given to the behavior of his peers, which was pushing Skot down frequently, so I didn't mind him. Mrs. Shoes calls on him, and D. says, "It looks like a boot!"

Mrs. Shoes is pleased, and decides to see if she can get D. to get another hit off a slow pitch. "It does look like a boot, doesn't it?" Then she points to Sicily. "And what does it look like it's kicking here?" D. stares at the map for a few seconds.

"A typewriter?"

That might be my single favorite moment from grade school. I could not stop laughing. And you know what? The little fucker was right. Go look. To this day, whenever I see a map of Sicily, I secretly think, "Typewriter."

Thursday, 03 July
The Heartbreaking And Sordid Decline Of Penny

PENNY DYED; APACHE PINED.

APACHE DID END, PENNY. YEP.

PENNY EYED HANDICAPPED.

CHIP, DEADPAN, EYED PENNY.

CHIP: PAYDAY! EDEN PENNED.

PENNY CANED HAPPY EDDIE.

EDDIE ACHED. NAPPY PENNY!

CHIP ADDED, "NAY, PEE, PENNY!"

PENNY NEEDED HAPPY ACID.

PENNY PACED; NEEDY APHID.

CHIP DENY PENNY: "DEAD APE!"

EDDIE PAY CHAP. END PENNY.

PENNY. NYC PIPEHEAD. DEAD.

Wednesday, 02 July
I'm Blurbed!

My friend Dave threw this together the other day and left it in my comments. It really belongs here. Now I don't have to try and actually write about that movie and can go on to actively unremembering it.

Thanks, Dave!

Tuesday, 01 July
The Magical Elevator Where Everybody Told The Truth

20th floor. Skot enters.

Skot: I just spent two hours doing no work at all.

19th floor. Former Frat Guy enters.

FFG: Hey.

Skot: Hey.

FFG: I've been looking at porn.

Skot: I'm going to the smoking gulag for a time-wasting cigarette.

FFG: I detest smokers.

Skot: You look like Abercrombie and Fitch threw up on you.

17th Floor. Pinched Middle-Aged Woman enters.

FFG: Hello. You wear so much perfume that I wonder if you will be carried off by bees.

PMAW: I'm sorry, I don't recognize other people's status as actual human beings.

Skot: I'm afraid I just farted.

FFG: It cuts the perfume.

PMAW: I need to make a call on my cell phone that could easily wait until I'm off this elevator.

14th Floor. Cheap Suit enters.

Skot: Hi. You have a cheap suit.

PMAW: I will tell you uninteresting things about my cats.

CS: The odd odors in this elevator are suppressing my urge to engage in frottage.

FFG: On more than one occasion, I have used the term "homo."

8th Floor. Acquaintance Girl enters.

AG: When we get to the smoking gulag, I will bother you with awkward banter that will only emphasize the tenuousness of our threadbare friendship.

Skot: I understand. I will feign interest in your awkward banter while manufacturing elaborate fantasies that involve your spectacular death.

FFG: I rarely have any real use for my pickup truck other than commuting.

PMAW: I am raising my voice on my cell phone conversation to indicate irritation with the other riders.

CS: I give nothing to charity, ever.

Garage Level.

PMAW: Goodbye. I wear too much pink.

CS: Goodbye. I'm going to drive in the carpool lane.

AG: On the way to the smoker's gulag, I will inquire about the one person we have in common, much like every other day.

Skot: I will make a dramatic show of being engrossed in my book in the vain hope that you will somehow take a hint.

FFG: Goodbye. I have a genuine interest in watching Everybody Loves Raymond.

Skot: I hate that I have to be civil to any of you, because I'm kind of a misanthropic asshole who imagines terrible things about people I doesn't know.

FFG: I think you're a homo.

(Exeunt.)










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