Write me:
skot AT izzlepfaff DOT com

Tuesday, 30 September
Nothing To See Here, Move Along

Sorry about the lack of output lately; with the upcoming event at work known as the Group Meeting, work has been really been fucking murder. (Again, I like my job. Just some months more than others.) The Group Meeting--a bi-annual event that takes place in various other cities usually--is taking place in Seattle this time around, and I couldn't find any viable way to duck the fucking thing. So starting Wednesday, I will be hobnobbing with various nurses, doctors, and other medical harpies who will flit around my shoulders, occasionally gnawing on my extremities or shitting in my hair. It should be great. I'm already descending into madness imagining it.

"So here you see the proper way to submit a teleform," I say.

"Awk! I'll feast on your eyes, youngling! What if we didn't perform certain prestudy tests?"

"Well, you'll need to fill in NA in the appropriate field, unless it's for eligibility, in which case that would be disallowed. Ow, Jesus! Hey, easy on the nuts!"

"Bother. That's not what Corixa told me. Awk!"

"Corixa isn't running the study! We are! AAAAHHH! Hey, what the fuck?"

"I shat in your hair. AH HA HA HA HA! Listen, talk to me about online data submission."

It's going to be a long week. Many of my co-workers have already made solemn vows involving the purchase of cocktails after various events, some of them ending at ten in the morning. I don't know if there really are no atheists in foxholes, but I can tell you that they're full of potential drunks.

Speaking of profligate drinking, on Friday, a bunch of friends and I participated in that most Ratpackian of spectacles, the Birthday Roast for my friend J. It was a completely Dionysian affair; around two hours in, someone turned on the global "YOU'RE DRUNK!" switch, and all of a sudden everyone in the room morphed into Peter O'Toole: shambling husks devoid of reason, motor skills, or propriety. In other words, I guess, a pretty successful affair: the various participants took their roasting duties seriously, and we utterly crucified poor J. in the most horrific possible ways. In terms of sophistication, we made "Crank Yankers" look stately and refined. I wouldn't be surprised if someone before night's end jerked off a shaved donkey on a ten dollar bet.

Christ, I hope it wasn't J. That might actually happen to that poor bastard. I hope he wore a condom. By which I mean the donkey.

Saturday was spent moaning and closely monitoring my body's frantic efforts to cleanse itself of the incredible poisons I had dumped into it. My kidneys sizzled like bacon, and complained audibly to the bladder: "Jesus Christ, what the fuck happened? It's like Hiroshima down here." The bladder wasn't having any of it. "God, shut up. The urethra software won't boot up, and the brain keeps singing the jingle for 'Mr. Clean.' " The kidneys panicked. "Reroute to stomach!" Bladder laughed emptily. "Stomach looks like an acre of mashed clams floating in crude oil. We're all fucked, burnt, and buried." There was a moment of silence while everyone stared at bowels, who kept a sphinxlike demeanor. I eventually declared a cease-fire later by sending in the Army of Bloody Marys.

Sunday was wholly unremarkable, and consisted mostly of me watching football while the wife assiduously not-watched football. Sometimes she can't help herself, though. "They're so mean!" is one of my favorite comments, which I cannot disagree with. But a great one from Sunday was, "Are you still playing that phantom football with your friends?" By which she meant "fantasy football," but golly, that was a lovely mental picture. I imagined the Disneyland Haunted Mansion ride where the spectral dancers all suddenly piled into a violent scrimmage, still wearing their Victorian garb. CUT HIM DOWN AT THE KNEES, PERCY! I SAY, GOOD SHOW!

Later that evening, we watched the season premiere of the newly revamped--which is to say, horrifically denuded--"The Practice." Having jettisoned Dylan McDermott, Lara Flynn Boyle, Kelli Williams, Marla Sokoloff and, presumably, the Lead Tie Ironer, I was curious as to what they would come up with. Sadly, the answer was James Spader--a rather opaquely reptilian new counsel--and Chris O'Donnell, who needs only a sudden shortage of Wonder Bread supply to give him any new job opening. Mr. O'Donnell tried to deliver an "edgy" performance, which was somewhat blunted by his eternally fluffy, crustless presence. It was like watching a jellyfish trying to eat hard candy. Hopeless. Teasers for the next episode promised even more low-level candlepower in the form of Sharon Stone, who will presumably not be flashing her snatch, also presumably over the loud objections of Mr. Kelley: "I need beaver shots, people! Beaver shots!" After watching the season opener, which of course took pains to waste the good talents of Mr. Spader, I'm looking forward to seeing how they fumble with Ms. Stone, who interestingly comes pre-wasted, talentwise. If this show makes it to January, then I'll also be rooting for the Bengals in the Super Bowl.

Go Bengals.

Wednesday, 24 September
Seattle Super Sonnet

My cubicle walls are nothing like much fun;
SQL queries make me wish I was dead;
I stare at my stapler, paperwork undone;
"You're pretty sad," my supervisor said.
I have seen HIPAA guidelines, black on white,
I have a presentation in two weeks,
In front of some nurses I'll dumbly recite
Boring things; they will say, "I hate how he speaks."
I love to spin in my chair, yet I know
That co-workers will grimace at the sound.
I wish that into dreamland I could go;
It happened once before, and I was fucking found.

And so, by heaven, I think my job is lame;
But surely, dear reader, I bet you'd say the same.

Monday, 22 September
Eat This Fried Egg Off Of My Steaming Skull!

Hey, you know that audition I was bitching about a while back? (For those who don't: I was bitching about an audition a while back. Yes, I could go find the permalink and then shove it in here, but frankly, fuck it.) Well, I got the part. Woo woo! And this is the same theater I worked with earlier this year: the one that coughs up weekly paychecks. Aaaand, as an extra bonus, the wife has also been cast in it (she actually has the much bigger part; she is in effect the lead). We've only ever been in one show before; we played brother and sister. In this show, however, just to mix things up, we play . . . brother and sister. We have been of course bombarded with Freud jokes, and I have so far been able to resist asking anyone, "Hey, have you actually read Freud? I want to fuck my mother, not my wife." Some people.

We start rehearsing in a couple of weeks, so I'm hard pressed to pack my rapidly dwindling slack into as much free time as possible between now and then. I'm considering entering some sort of induced coma to ensure that I do as little as humanly possible in the meantime, like chores, or breathing under my own power.

I also just really need to shut down my brain for a while, for it has begun doing alarming things. At work in particular, which has been spectacularly awful the past couple weeks, and with a massive weekend of presentations coming up in October, the awful killing pressure on my brainpan is not likely to dissipate. Here's today's terrible example of incipient madness:

I had occasion to write the words "cries" and "pines" in written conversation earlier (and I was making a joke, not composing odes to my Goth lifestyle, thank you), and I noticed their assonance, and certain similarites, and then sort of portmanteaued the two into the neologism "crines," which is pretty dreadful enough. I cooed the word a few times, testing it out: "criiiiiines!" but it sounded crappy no matter what I did with it, so I let it die. I went back to the original two words and did a kind of Lowest Common Denominator thing on its letters, determining the basic building blocks of the words: CRIEPNS.

Then, (and, sadly enough I do shit like this all the time) I started trying to make new words out of the letters mentally. PINCERS was easy. I don't think CRISPEN is a word, but it ought to be ("Crispen up these fries! Use the pincers!"). Then I saw the "duh" word: PRINCES.

And that's when the horrible thing happened, which I'm going to share with you, and you're going to hate me. Sorry!

I immediately got earfucked by the Spin Doctors song "Two Princes." And it's been with me ever since.

Two! Princes!
Kneel before you glub glub!
Now what's that ham in a
Some thing! Nubba nubba nuh
Blop blop! So here I go with a
Ding bat!
. . .etc.

It's somehow even worse when you can't remember the fucking words. I don't know why, but it is. But if you get stuck with this song, take comfort in the fact that "Ben Franklin" backwards is "Nilk Narf Neb." Don't you feel better?

Maybe a little. NILK NARF NEB! That's got a nice mouthfeel.

I'm going to get through this.

Friday, 19 September
Prepare To Be Boreded

Arrrr! So 'tis Talk Like A Pirate day, herrrm? Avast! I talk like a pirate while at me miserable work! Arrr! I go to three-hour meetings! Ye can hear me talk about database queries and scurvy fucking primary keys! Arr! I don't know what I'm doing!

Me blasted co-workers plague me like thrice-accursed harpies pecking at me fucking neck! Me voice mail overfill with bilge water of complaints! Truly, 'tis terrible to be a pirate today at work!

I cannot go on any longer! Arrr! I shall walk me own plank! Avast! See for yourself my 20th-story window! I run at it mightily, and me terrified parrot bounces on me shoulder nervously! I scream at me co-workers, "YOU HAVE BROKEN ME MIGHTY PIRATE HEART, YE DIRTY COXSWAINS!" just because it sounds dirty, and then I plunge through yon window! Crash!

AAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrr. . . !



(Distantly) Arrr! Now I am a zombie pirate! Avast! Now I can do a summer movie with Johnny Depp!

Wednesday, 17 September
We Face Follicular Armageddon


This is horrible. And it's not what you're thinking: I don't actually have wiry black hairs sprouting from the deep recesses of my ear-holes, though that's a happy thing to countenance for later. No, I was just shaving the other night, and I noticed the outer ridges of my ears: they had this fine spray of hairs reaching out their skinny arms to refract the light (which is very nearly a Godspeed You Black Emperor! album title). I toyed with them for a moment, intrigued: what the fuck could they possibly be for? The answer was clear. To irritate me, and to make me even more neurotically aware of my remorseless mortality. I quickly identified their leader; it was a purely white motherfucker that was a good two inches long, and was shrewdly concealing itself by coiling around the back of my ear-ridge. I savagely pulled it out and questioned it. "Vile ear hair!" I screamed. "You thought I wouldn't find you! You are vanquished!"

The dying ear hair was unrepentant to the end. "Stupid man," it sneered, "you think you've won. You have not."

"I have plucked you! I have plucked you! My ear ridges are triumphantly smooth again!" I railed desperately.

"Fool," it whispered. "Check your nose. Check your shoulders. We are coming. You are finished." It finally expired in my hand, and I pitched it into the trash.

Trembling, I checked my nose. I checked my shoulders.


I don't know how long I'll be able to transmit these messages. I am being overrun. I will hold out as long as I can, but I fear my heroic plucking and yanking and searing-with-cigarettes are only token gestures; soon I will meet my depilatory Waterloo. And then . . . and then . . .

I will simply just be The Hair. I will be transformed into a living mass of hair, and The Hair will rule What Once Was Skot. My wife will look at me, and outwardly I will appear normal, but when I speak to her, it will not be Skot who speaks: it will be The Hair.

"I love you," she will say.

"I REQUIRE APPLE PECTIN!" The Hair will reply.

"You know, I never thought I'd say this, but I think you're getting weirder," the wife will tiredly respond.

"I AM THICK AND LUXURIANT. THIS IS A GOOD HOST." The Hair will observe, while the wife sighs and clicks the TV remote.

"You want to watch anything in particular?" she'll ask, clearly not listening any more; this is hardly the first time her "husband" has lapsed into utter nonsense.


The Hair will soon be firmly in charge. Remember me. Remember me fondly. For as long as you can. For I think that soon, we will all succumb to The Hair.

Monday, 15 September
Easy Like Sunday Afternoon

Much to my glee--and my wife's despair--NFL is back, which means my Sundays are suddenly lush oases in the deserts of my weeks. I really try to make the most of them. Yesterday was no exception.

Promptly at 10:00, the bedclothes suddenly erupted as a form sprang from the mattress, ready and eager to get started with the day. It was, of course, the wife; I hunched deeper into the blankets and clawed at the pillows. I eagerly went back to my fascinating dream about consumer electronics while the ludicrously insomniac wife went into the living room to watch Kieslowski's Red while doing some gentle yoga. Really. The TV sneered about it later to me privately. "You know what your fucking woman had me doing earlier?" "What?" I said. "She made me play a foreign-language film!" it fumed. "But there was football on!" I cried in outrage. "I know," replied the TV, "it really pissed me off. We'll see how she likes it on Wednesday. I'm gonna make everyone on The West Wing look like angry gophers." "That's not such a stretch," I told the fulminating appliance. "Look, must you piss on everything I do?" I let it drop.

Anyway. I snapped on the game, and there it was, a Circus Maximus with Gatorade: the mighty Seattle Seahawks versus the tremendous Arizona Cardinals. I whooped with glee. "This is going to be a terrible game!" I cried. "It's like wheelchair tennis!" (For those not in the know, these two teams consistently rank . . . well, let's just say that they're consistently rank.) Even the sportscasters seemed depressed about the hopeless spectacle about to unravel in front of them; they squawked torpidly about the incredible heat--it was topping 105 in Arizona--and lamely tried to generate enthusiasm about these two teams that nobody cares about. "Arizona is trying to build a team around some of these youngsters!" said one of the goons. Translation: they lost or frantically sold all their good players (again), and are now working with a fresh batch of untested nobodies. Then they sat silently for a while, inwardly groaning over this terrible assignment they'd drawn. It must have been clear to these men how low in the pecking order they were to be sent to this blasted, heat-whipped terrain; it would be like getting hired by the Washington Post and then getting sent to cover plankton harvesting in Banff. Horribly, I recognized one of the poor bastards; so did the wife, in a rare moment of non-screen-avoidance: "Isn't that the guy from BattleBots?" Yes, it was.

And Arizona could have used some murderous robots yesterday, it's true; adopting an overtly supine position almost immediately, Arizona's geisha-like play allowed the Seahawks to gracelessly back-walk them into paralysis: Seattle scored more or less at will, particularly the defense, which was for the best, because Hawks QB Matt Hasselbeck can frequently be seen wildly throwing the football at anything, anything not resembling a receiver. At one point, an airplane flew over the stadium, and Matt launched a mighty pass skyward, where it described a lonely parabola before impacting on a hot dog vendor, who was ironically just then treating Shaun Alexander to a foot-long. The referees ruled it a touchdown, and the Cardinals dully accepted the bad call, and then prepared some iced tea for the exhausted Seattle players. Seahawks head coach and Emperor of the Galaxy complained about the lack of sugar and demanded some cucumber sandwiches, which were hurriedly delivered.

As halftime loomed, and the broadcast readied itself to blast me with highlights of other games with actual action and genuine fan bases, I prepared a Bloody Mary, a Sunday ritual. It's going to be a lazy afternoon, I thought lazily. I couldn't have been more wrong.

There was a staccato rap at the door, and I curiously went to open it. I was immediately confronted by a ravaged face under a boater's hat, and a long cigarette holder dangled vertiginously from a tight mouth. The thing spoke. "You have to let me in," it rasped, "the bastards are hot on my tail. I tried to appease them with promises of swaybacked, broken hookers, but the swine won't see reason. They're coming after me with hooks."

I casually opened the door wide. "Want a Bloody Mary?" Because it seemed like a good way to pacify the good Doctor.

"Christ, yes," he moaned, walking into the room in a flood of smoke. "I left the tequila in the limo. The ape can have it." He dropped a dirty duffelbag on the ground as I poured the drink.

"The ape?" I asked.

"Research," he growled, "I can't talk about it. Let's just say that the backfuckers at RAND Corporation are getting a large bill. Shit-eating bats!"

"Ah." We sat for a moment, greedily sucking down our drinks, a potent mixture of my own devising. He seemed to relish it.

"Nutrients," he croaked, holding his glass up to the light. He tapped it with a long forefinger. "Black pepper and garlic! Good for the gums. What are we watching?" He craned around to the television.

"Seattle at Arizona," I said glumly.

"What!" he screamed furiously. "Avian skags fighting for lunch money! This is not a football game!" His eyes popped angrily. "Vegas won't even take money on this game, and I know, because I bet on all of them! When I tried to bet on this wretched fuckaround, the guy laughed and told me there was more action in curling."

He lurched at his duffelbag and extracted a damp-looking rag, which he began gnawing on fitfully. He glanced at the screen and noticed Matt Hasselbeck throwing the football at some cheerleaders. "Hopeless," he grunted between bites of the rag, "Not even human. Just some shaved thing they found in Kuala Lampur. I have the documents. At night he sucks Holmgren's toes and eats spiders. You want some of this?" He suddenly held out the rag to me.

"What is it?" I stared at the sodden thing, which smelled of smoke and chemicals.

"Ovine Growth Hormone," he cackled. "Sandoz Labs gives me samples for the ranch."

"Isn't this for sheep?" I said.

"Never mind that. This is medicine! There's no other way we can watch this terrible game," he explained earnestly. "It'll jelly your spine. You'd better pour another Bloody Mary, too."

I shrugged. Who was I to say no? "As long as you think it's okay."

He smiled. "Fuck, son, don't worry about a thing. I'm a Doctor."

[Editor's note: It is, of course, the stupidest thing imaginable to try and emulate the voice of someone who is, it has been amply demonstrated before, totally singular. And I have, of course, failed as well. However, as this scenario has been an old fantasy of mine, I indulged it. Take it as you will. Oh, and to the Doctor, as always,res ipsa loquitur.]

Friday, 12 September
The Campaign Is Unpredictable

As always--by which of course I mean "by hardly ever"--I'm not prepared to let this go. I will see this Stoltz campaign live, and if that means I have to make more shit up, then by God I will. With that in mind, I now present the seminal interview that will sew this fucker up. Ladies and gentlemen, Colin Quinn.

IP: Hello, Colin.

CQ: Hello, Skot.

IP: Just call me Izzle.

CQ: Eat a dick. Even Stoltz wouldn't call you that. And he's a fairy.

IP: He's a what?

CQ: A fairy. A queer. Don't mind me. I do that all the time.

IP: Do what?

CQ: Make unsupportable statements about people who are usually not in a position to refute them. Or those without much political clout. It kills me.

IP: Why would you do that?

CQ: It's a hedge. I'm really not very funny. In fact, I'm about as funny as sixty-five hangnails.

IP: I see.

CQ And yet I have a TV show! This is a great country. Eat some of this cheese they got here. We get it from the government.

IP: You do?

CQ: Oh yeah. We're funded by the Parks Department. Basically, the Feds give me free cheese if I agree not to make any movies. It's so sweet. I don't know when that fairy David Spade will figure out the fix.

IP: Why do you insist upon using the derogative "fairies"?

CQ: It's funny to say. Like "butt pirates" or "Bostonites." Check this: "Bostonites are a bunch of fairies. What a bunch of butt pirates."

IP: Aren't you a Bostonite?

CQ: (Pause) Oh, man. You're good.

IP: So why the support for Eric Stoltz/Digable Planets in 2004?

CQ: Well, for one thing, the free cheese. I don't know what I'd do without this stuff. (He eats more cheese.) It really binds me up, though.

IP: Oh?

CQ: Yeah, man. Is there any chance I could score some Roquefort? Because I am heavy, heavy in the back pockets, if you know what I mean.

IP: I'll see what I can do. Any feelings on the recent announcement of Digable Planets as the running mate? Mates?

CQ: They fucking move me, man. They move me. I was at Target the other day, and I was like, "I need a new hair trap for my shower." And I remembered the song, and I was like, "Yeah. I'm cool like dat." So I bought the hair trap. It fucking ruled.

IP: Wow.

CQ: Someday--and I'm not jacking you here, Skot--I'm going to be like that fucking hair trap. I am.

IP: You already are, Colin. You already are.

End transcript.

Thursday, 11 September
We Have Liftoff

Thanks to the enigmatic campaign manager: Stoltz in '04 material.

Tuesday, 09 September
An Important Political Announcement

Editor's note: As many of IzzlePfaff's tens of readers know, IP has generally shied away from endorsing political causes. This steely nonpartisanship has, of course, been largely due to the author's vast ignorance of the political arena, combined with a kind of supernatural laziness. But no longer. I have taken a typically half-assed look at the upcoming contenders in the 2004 election, and in my estimation: they all blow. Again. The ridiculous, mendacious marionette jerking around in the Oval Office certainly isn't worth even considering, and a quick view at the moralizing, lifeless pickleheads on the left aren't much better. So I decided to strike out and find my own candidate, and inform them that I wanted them to run for the Presidency. My criteria were simple but subtle: 1. I needed someone who is so inoffensive and unnoticable that they won't bother me; and 2. I also needed someone, who even when they did bother me, I was still able to almost instantly forget about them. This is my motto for a new America: Just Leave Us Alone. It wasn't as easy as it sounds, but after a little nap, I had my candidate. He's someone reasonably well-known and marginally respected, but most importantly, I am able to forget about his existence pretty much without trying at all. I'm very excited about not thinking about anything political for four whole years, and I hope you will be too. I'd like to introduce him today, as he has agreed to be my--no, our candidate. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm proud to announce the beginning of the campaign for ERIC STOLTZ IN '04!

IzzlePfaff: Hello, Eric. Thanks for joining us.

Eric Stoltz: Hi, Skot.

IP: Please, call me Izzle.

ES: Come on.

IP: Please?

ES: Jesus, do you want to win this thing or not?

IP: All right, forget it. Eric, I'm sure America will be surprised to learn about your sudden candicacy for the office of President. Can you give everyone some reasons why you're entering the race?

ES: Well . . . because you called me? And asked? I guess that's the main reason. And don't forget, you're taking me out to Tony Roma's later.

IP: Yeah.

ES: And, uh . . . well, I guess I really feel pretty strongly about . . . you know . . . the stuff. (Pause.) That WTO stuff was wicked cool, man, I saw that on TV.

IP: So you oppose the WTO? That's a pretty bold statement.

ES: Well, I liked "Takin' Care of Business," but not much else.

IP: I see. Do you feel that your career in show business is an advantage to your campaign?

ES: I really do. Playing the stoic, conflicted lead in Some Kind of Wonderful taught me valuable lessons about the difficulty of making tough choices. And my recurring role on "Mad About You" has given me the necessary skills needed for simply being around odious people, be they congressmen or Paul Reiser.

IP: That's very impressive. May I just say that Mask taught me how to love again?

ES: Oh, that's great. What was your favorite part?

IP: I'd have to say the whole "not seeing it at all" part. It was on TV one night in college, but I ended up having drunk sex with a cute actress instead. It'd been three months, man.

ES: Ah . . . ah. (He lights a cigarette.)

IP: Excuse me, is that black tar heroin you're smoking?

ES: What? No! It's an ordinary cigarette.

IP: Because the public is not going to gladly accept a President with a heroin problem, least of all one who is seriously considering gender reassignment.

ES: What the fuck are you talking about?

IP: It's been reported on extensively in the press.

ES: Where? What is this?

IP: I'm quoting from the October 16th edition of the Weekly World News, published in 1994. I've highlighted the article here. The headline reads "HEROIN ADDLED HOLLYWOOD ALTERNA-HUNK TO HAVE SEX CHANGE."

ES: What the hell is wrong with you? The Weekly World News? Everyone knows it's all bullshit. I thought you were trying to help me here!

IP: It's buzz, Eric, buzz. Every candidate needs it.

ES: Jesus Christ.

IP: Eric, have you given any thought to a running mate?

ES: I have, actually. As a little surprise, I've brought them here to talk as well.

IP: Them?

ES: Yes. As my platform consists almost entirely on being wholly forgettable, I tried to keep that in mind when selecting my running mate. I'm happy to introduce Digable Planets.

IP: Digable Planets! The band who swept a nation away in the early nineties with "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)," and were then immediately discarded and forgotten about! Welcome! How does it feel joining the race for the White House?

Digable Planets: We--

IP: Eric, in closing, I'd like to thank you for being here today. I and all of I here at IzzlePfaff are really looking forward to an exciting campaign and a successful bid for the Presidency.

ES: Thank you for having me. Vote Stoltz in '04.

(Eric exits. Pause.)

IP: God. Who the hell was that again?

Monday, 08 September
Vacation (Fortunately Without Chevy Chase)

Last Thursday, the wife and I left a much-needed long weekend on Whidbey Island at a bed & breakfast. A couple of friends (who are themselves a couple) joined us, K. and K., and we had a glorious time on the ridiculously beautiful island doing things like luxuriating in the hot tub, drinking booze, and in all ways pretty much just draping ourselves over furniture like sleepy mandrills.

The bed and breakfast was of the "Here's the bed, make your own fucking breakfast" variety, which was great with me: the 2-bedroom cottage was set apart from the owner's house by about a quarter mile of woods, and they had stocked the fridge with eggs, bacon, juice, etc. So rather than having to chat with athletic Swiss middle-aged couples touring the countryside over scones or grimly smiling at a too-eager-to-please host, we lounged around looking disgusting and made breakfast at whatever damn time we pleased. Being a total misanthrope, this worked out well for me.

Outside the cottage was a stable containing three lovely horses who clearly were used to getting their way with the tenants; they would hang their long faces over the stall walls and stare at us when we came out on to the porch. They'd sort of shake their faces at you, then give a soulful look at the apple tree nearby, and look back at you pleadingly. It was great; I immediately wanted to magically replace all the panhandlers on Broadway with adorable horses. Traditional beggars don't whinny and make chuffing noises of appreciation when approached with apples and carrots (though I confess I've never tried this tactic).

Note to self: tomorrow, try pacifying neighborhood panhandlers with fresh produce. Approach subjects cautiously, saying absurd things like "Who's a pretty thing? Are you a pretty thing?" and then shove carrots in their faces.

Maybe not.

A ridiculously big hit was, of course, the hot tub, which my wife in particular showed alarming enthusiasm for. She was in that fucker immediately, relaxing quite vocally and with much stretching and wriggling, causing me to think: Well, I'm not needed any more. We all got in a couple of times, but it's just not the same for me, I guess; it feels good and all, but after a little while I just kind of start to feel like soup. The wife, however, I imagined was stealing away in the dead of night to get back into the tub's gurgly embrace. "Wha--? Whereya gon?" I'd say muzzily. "I'm leaving you for the hot tub." "Whyyyy?" "It doesn't kick me or fart in bed," she'd say, slipping out the door. It would be hard to argue with her; it's just as well we do not have a hot tub at home.

We dicked around the island one day, visiting the local winery, whose pleasantly straightforward host treated us to some lovely stuff and endured our clownish questions. "What's Oak Harbor like?" "Northgate," she deadpanned. (For non-Seattleites, Northgate Mall is an utterly charmless aging mall north of the city; it is known for its wretched Eastern bloc-style architecture, unappealing retail outlets, and frequent violent crime.) Freakishly, we still went there, and sure enough: it was horrible. The K.s took to calling it "Commerce." I hypothesized that some of it had to do with the nearby military base: "The boys get back in town and want some cheeseburgers and whores." We thought about seeing a movie, and checked out the wan, crumbling theater: Jeepers Creepers 2, The Medallion, and . . . God, I don't know. Something else that made us immediately stop thinking about seeing movies. I began to wonder if the entire town wasn't some governmental black-hat experiment in mass demoralization.

"Agent Smith, report on Oak Harbor!"

"Sir, the populace has reached Level Five. According to a recent poll, 74% of the respondents feel like their souls are 'made of some kinda black crud.' "

"Excellent. Move to Phase Three."

"Yes sir. Johnson! Release the roving packs of gray, mangy, vomiting dogs!"

We took a little side trip on the passenger ferry to Port Townsend as well, a lovely little burg whose sidewalks are absolutely crammed with terrifying hippies, pedal-steel bands (what?), and adorable little beachy-front shops designed to crowbar all your fucking money right out of your pocket. It's charming if you're in the mood, and we were; we stopped at some anonymous pub to get some food, which only took a mere forty-five minutes or so to obtain from the perilously incompetent waitress, and we didn't even care much. We all passed out on the ferry ride back, except for boyfriend K., who was viciously stung by a bee that had crawled into his shirt. It's kind of funny if you know him, though we all felt bad; he writhed and occasionally made piercing noises through his teeth. "HEEF! HEEF!" I know that doesn't sound funny, but this is the same guy one time who put too much spicy crap on his pho soup, and spent the better part of an hour with water bursting out of his eyes and his nasal passages burning like hellfire. Things like that just kind of happen to him. He's like Job, but with slapstick.

Anyway. I'm back, and I survived Monday at work, where of course I answered the same question over and over: "Have a good time?" People always ask you that when you get back from a vacation, and then of course you have to tell them about it. To get around this, sometimes I'll lie. "We got gang-pressed into a geek circus, and I had to jerk off chickens while a monkey orchestra played 'Pass the Dutchie'!" "Ha-ha, be serious." "Heh, okay. We actually were on a millionaire's retreat, and he let us hunt and shoot The Most Dangerous Game! I bagged me four hillbillies!" "All right, I'll talk to you later." "You don't want some hillbilly steaks? They taste kind of like feet!" "Jerk . . . "

But yeah, I had a good time.

Wednesday, 03 September

I once again took an adventurous journey into the local liquor store today, which features the Appalling State Liquor Clerk. He was, of course, the only one there, so it was impossible to duck him. The conversation was, as usual, typically perverse and unpleasant, not to mention outrageously overlong, as the government-issue credit card machinery was behaving chaotically; we stood there staring at the tiny box for a while, waiting for digital concordance to happen. Inevitably, the guy began making his inimitable version of vaguely human conversation.

"You enjoying this weather?" he inquired; I was immediately suspicious. This sort of banality is distressingly normal, and nothing this man says ever is.

"Well, I wouldn't mind if it was a little cooler when I walk all the way up from the bottom of Denny," I offered gamely. I silently willed the credit card boxlet to give up its Get Out Of Jail beep, but it kept its smug vigil.

"This is nothing compared to where I grew up!" He shook his eyebrows at me and grinned with the demeanor of a man about to tell a Very Great Tale; you know, a really exciting tale like Where I Grew Up. He clearly was going to force a response from me.

"And where was that?" Abject surrender on my part. I said this in the tone of voice that anyone else would recognize as vast, arctic incuriosity, but he continued merrily. The boxlet still hunched malevolently on the counter, bulging with silent strain, like a dwarf attempting to suppress an immense fart.

"Central California!" he bellowed gleefully, because how exciting is that? Nobody else ever grew up in central California! He's totally fucking unique in the universe! I really had no response to this at all, and was starting to get edgy, which is never good, because then I start to behave erratically.

"You're a heat warrior!" I exclaimed, perfectly erratically.

What the fuck is wrong with me? I heard myself ask myself. I don't know, I answered myself. I was starting to feel my neutrons decay.

But he was no stranger, apparently, to febrile outbursts of nonsense, and responded in kind. "At least I've got my Alice Cooper playing," he said, and stared off at the speakers. I noticed, indeed, he was playing Alice Cooper. I think it was "Cold Ethyl." Not the sort of thing you expect to hear in a state-owned facility; REO Speedwagon maybe. Another customer lined up behind me and took up his hopeless post; the clerk was still staring reverently at the speakers.

"Fucking TIMELESS!" he suddenly cried, apparently overcome with the ineffable Joy of Alice Cooper commingled with perhaps some resentment that the man's genius has not been adequately recognized in our time. I glanced back at the other customer, who appeared totally unfazed by the sudden outburst, which for him surely lacked context. Another regular, I thought.

The clerk continued babbling: "Him and that other guy. He kinda looks like Alice Cooper," he said. He looked at me for help. "You know?"

Jesus. Of course not. I took my best shot. "Marilyn Manson?"

"Naw!" he snorted dismissively. "Not that guy, the other guy." Pause. Then he got it. "Ted Nugent!"

Ted Nugent looks like Alice Cooper? What? Look, just say nothing.

"Ted Nugent, man, yeah, totally all about guns, and hunting, and . . . " he trailed off for a second before completing his thought. " . . . and fuck vegans, man." He smiled beatifically at this. I stood still, rigid with Weirdness. The other customer remained consumed with ennui.

The boxlet finally coughed out its release. He handed me my receipt, and I wandered nervelessly out the door.

"Pretty nice day out there, huh?" I heard the clerk greet the new customer.

Run! Run, stupid!

"Yeah, it's pretty hot out there," the guy replied.

He's finished. Wolves will gnaw his carcass. Just go home.

Thank God for the whiskey.

Tuesday, 02 September
This Is Not A Love Post

Posts this week will be sparse if not nonexistent: Labor Day made this a short week, and I'm taking Friday off for a long weekend on Whidbey Island, so the resultant work-cram is making for a nice psychosis-inducing three days. Also, I have a bloody audition tonight, which means even less time for dithering madly on the site and more time for horrid stress; I hate auditions. All actors hate auditions, and anyone who tells you differently is a lying sack of wet dogshit. Auditions are the worst. Normally I'd worry about the director seeing this and getting the wrong idea, but the director already knows me, and is therefore already familiar with my neurotic, fucked-up self, so why be coy? Hire me! I'm all fucked up!

Oh, and before I sign off, I must report that my inability to appreciate well-received art films continues apace: I saw Swimming Pool last night, and while I appreciated the young morsel's carefree attitude towards shirt-wearing aesthetically appealing, I was thoroughly underwhelmed by the glacial pace of the movie, and seriously didn't care about anyone much by the time the story wrapped up. The acting was lovely, though, but overall: meh.

Which was pretty much my reaction to the last well-received art film I saw in the theaters: Sexy Beast. Wonderful acting, sure, but after a while I really stopped giving a fuck. "Ho hum, here comes Ben Kingsley to machine-gun spittle and invective at the sad-faced guy again."

Wise readers might take this opportunity to remember that I have confessed elsewhere on this site that I not only watched 13 Ghosts at home, but that I also came dangerously close to enjoying it, in that Holy-Shit-What-A-Ghastly-Movie kind of way. So it's safe to say that I am best ignored on the whole damn topic.

To sum up: I'm all fucked up! Hire me! Never take me to movies! That is all.

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