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Friday, 28 May
Idle Hands

Hello hello from No-Work-Land! I took a couple days off work because (a) a five-day vacation on Memorial Day weekend sounded just luscious, and (b) the IT staff is busy all weekend doing something incomprehensible like defrumulating the servers, or upgrading our bangsisters, or something. Anyway, the upshot is that all of our computer services are totally and completely hosed until Tuesday. I did have the option of going to work anyway--with NO COMPUTERS AT ALL, meaning no netsurfing or solitaire or even actual work--which would have meant doing really entertaining things like updating manual registration forms, or proofreading SOPs, or gloomily beating off in the restroom. No thanks. All of those things are exactly as boring as they sound, except for the beating off in the bathroom, which is really depressing as well as being boring. So I just bailed and took some time off.

I've already entertained myself by calling the bosslady and torturing her about what a good time I've been having. "What are you doing, Bosslady?" "I'm training Caftan Guy on forms development. What are you doing?" "I'm drinking a cognac and watching a baseball game. HA!" I could hear the Bosslady slump. "You bastard," she breathed. "I'm stuck here with Caftan Guy, and you're lounging around being a louche. I'm miserable." I felt badly for her. "Why?" I said. "He loves learning forms development! He's nothing like you--he's interested in learning his job! I can't stand it. He's ecstatic." She sounded like a broken woman, and I took pity. "Go tell him to go jerk off in the bathroom. It's incredibly depressing. He'll come back looking like a whipped dog."

I hung up and helped myself to more cognac, and then the wife and I watched the execrable movie The Transporter, which was so dire and wretched that I was immediately moved to drink more cognac. In a funk after this cinematic fumblefuck, I was moved to call work again and check in.

"Bosslady!" I cried, after she picked up; "How goes it with Caftan Guy?" She sounded calmer and a little smug. "It's fine. He came back from the restroom all red-faced and gloomy. He kept rubbing his hands on his green corduroys." I shuddered. When Caftan Guy eschewed his caftan, he usually chose sartorially suspect garments made of things like felt or crinoline. Once he came to work wearing only a thick coat of axle grease.

Bosslady continued. "The hell of it is, he's still trying to better himself. He clearly failed at the masturbation attempt--he looks like he saw Liza Minnelli in there--but he's still pestering me about manual registrations. I don't think I can take this any more."

I pityingly gave her the final solution. "Look. Go to a video store and rent The Transporter. I guarantee it will make him want to die. Nobody can function clearly after seeing that piece of horseshit."

"But you saw it!" she cried. "How do I know it'll work?"

I paused. "Listen. Compared to Caftan Guy, I'm Zeus. And look at what a paltry statement that is. Just show him the movie. I'm going to sit here and eat pickled beans and drink scotch. Actually, Jesus, I'm on vacation. Leave me the fuck alone, all right?"

I hated to be so abrupt, but come on--I'm on my own time.

Today's morning headlines concentrated on a man found dead, lying in his own filth, wearing a dashiki. He was only inches away from a television locked in an endless loop playing The Transporter. The victim had, as the stations reported, no eyes left after they had blasted outward onto the wall. The only comment from the recovering officer was, "It's really a shame . . . to die like that watching such crap. Jesus Christ, look at this boy's clothes. Horrible."

"But not as horrible as this goddamn movie. I paid nine bucks to see that shit. They played a sax solo, for God's sake, during that underwater scene. Christ, what a pile." The officer brushed away tears. "Look at this boy," he whispered again. "Dumb fucker. I'm surprised he isn't wearing a caftan."

Wednesday, 26 May
Mean Street

Last night the wife and I chose the venerated path of righteous laziness and decided to go out to to a local C-average Mexican restaurant rather than confront our rather denuded fridge. The path is not always an easy path.

For one thing, it's not so much a path when you drive there. Confronted with the choice of making the journey (a crushing 15 minute walk! Uphill! In the . . . balmy evening!), we wisely chose to take the car rather than risk anything like shin splints, rapid breaths, or exertion of any kind. We went down to the garage and climbed into our sad, embarrassed car, which huddles amongst the gleaming SUVs, BMWs and assorted other beautiful vehicles, trying not to be noticed.

In the Harry Potter books, which I have been reading lately (I have this thing about resisting literary phenomenons until the fire has died down--it's stupid), and enjoying, the little wiz-kiddies all have wonderful pet familiars, such as Harry's gorgeous owl or Hermione's disturbingly ugly (but nimble) cat.

In this context, our car is Ron Weasley's narcoleptic, tatterdemalion rat named Scabbers. The rat, I mean, is named Scabbers. Our car is named "car." But I might secretly start calling it Scabbers as a tribute.

I kind of get off on Scabbers. The rat. The car, eh, not so much.

Anyway. We drove up to 15th and found some parking, and I locked up Scabbers, who sat there looking forlorn as usual, with his ass pointing right at a shiny white sports car. Be proud, Scabbers! Your ass is literally right up in that fucker's grill. (I think ill of people who have nice cars, mainly out of purest jealously. I'd like to have a nice car, but I'd really rather not pay for it. So in the end, it's much easier--not to mention vastly cheaper--to simply resent people I've never met.)

And so we walked a block or so, heading towards the restaurant; I had visions of Cadillac margaritas tickling my skull, which probably made me careless. Normally, I'd be more adept at picking up danger signals, but not that night. We approached a coffee shop, whose doors were flung wide, and patrons spilled out onto the sidewalk, sitting at little round tables. They were all looking inside, not having individual conversations or anything: they were being attentive to something.

I failed to pick up on all these dire clues, and before I knew it, I was writhing on the sidewalk, screaming in agony. You see, the coffee shop was having an open mic poetry night. And I walked right into its awful-rays emanating from the open doors. "Bone in the night/And brass in the day/She ate my hair then/Parchment will not stay." I saw a young man with curly hair saying this into the microphone, and I flopped about like a mackerel, horribly aware that I had let my guard slip. The wife, clearly enjoying my tendon-snapping throes, laughed gaily at my misery; she's a peach, but every now and then she gets back at me for my habit of fraudulently insisting that she is "stinky." This was one of those times, and she cackled as I wailed: "MAKE HIM STOP! THIS IS 2004! ALL THE COFFEEHOUSE POETRY READERS SHOULD HAVE BEEN MURDERED BY NOW!"

My bad assumption. The torture continued. "Slippery night/Overbite/I remember Ted Knight." I beat the sidewalk helplessly with flailing arms, inadvertantly achieving a rather nice 7/8 rhythm that was lost on the rest of the onlookers, who soon turned away from my suffering for more, more ghastly verse. "Deep under the night-awning, I surrendered to mercy/Before emerging once more to clean the soul-gutters/That were so beautifully filled with weeping leaves of light/It is a rape." I confess without shame that it was here I passed out.

The wife told me later that she finally took pity on me--being unconscious and all--and rescued me by kicking me stoutly in the ribs until I had rolled out of earshot of the poetrocities. I woke up in the restaurant, staring at a plate of crisp tacos and a nicely sweating glass full of margarita.

"You blacked out," she said nonchalantly. "Eat your tacos."

"I don't know if I can eat after that," I whined. "Plus, my ribs hurt to fuck."

"Poetry," she replied in a wintry tone, "it can fuck you up. The old guys knew that. Maybe you learned something tonight."

I sure did. I can make my own goddamn tacos at home from now on.

Tuesday, 25 May
Down On The Corner

As I often do, I stopped on my way home from work at the corner store to pick up my usual bag o' health: beer, cigarettes, potato chips. (Sometimes jerky! People have told me for years that someday my metabolism would crap out, and I'd bloat up into something horrid, but I still hover at 150 pounds. Yay, my body is too poisoned and torpid to change!) The owner is a ridiculously garrulous man who has taken to greeting me loudly: "HELLO!" he screamed a while ago. "IT IS ABOUT TIME!" Hey, he loves me! I think, He counts the minutes between visits! Then someone else walked in. "HELLO!" he screamed again. "YOU ARE LIKE A ROBOT EVERY DAY!" Okay, he doesn't love me, I thought. He's just hilarious. Which is also great. He either really loves his job or merely puts up a really convincing front of enjoying the living shit out of greeting people into his ramshackle shop.

You know these places. They're sort of a hybrid of a normal grocery store and a flea market. Next to a couple lonely cans of Cream of Mushroom soup, you might find, say, a tin of shoe polish and some playing cards. Just in case, you know, a hungry grifter wandered in with scuffed loafers and a desperate need to round out a casserole recipe. Places like this have four dollar bottles of off-brand Italian dressing right next to a bin of incredibly cheap tube socks. And inevitably up front is a Lucite display case filled with complicated lighters, cigar guillotines, and butterfly knives.

Today I picked up my bunch of crap, and went to the counter, and I knew I was in trouble. There was a middle-aged lady in front of me, and she was buying lottery tickets. Lots of lottery tickets, some of the light cardboard stock ones under the counter, and some of the other ones that require keyboard entry on the giant machine by the register. Not knowing the strange incantations of all things lottery, I was instantly bored and also instantly wishing a bowel obstruction upon the woman. But she was fireproof in the way of people who do not care that they are making others wait, and she delivered a simply incredible stream of gibberish at My Great Counter Guy, who I must say handled everything with speed and aplomb. Even better, he recited her every request back to her in a harried voice, and in his haste, his accent became utterly impenetrable. So I bowed my head a little and just let the sound collage wash over me. While I had no idea what the fuck she was saying, his repetitions achieved a sort of tone poem feel.

"Okay, and now give me a dollar Lotto." (This was the only phrase I recognized from her.)

"DOLL LARDO!" the counterman sang. I shuffled my feet happily at the euphony of this.

She then examined the scratch tickets. "Three of the [unintelligible], two of the [unintelligible], and . . . one [unintelligible]."

"DIAZEPAM FUNGO BLOT WINDOW CREAM!" he howled ecstatically. He threw me an "I'm sorry, but what can I do?" glance over her shoulder, and I grinned. I could stand there for days listening to this performance.

This went on for some time, and the woman finally seemed to wrap things up. "Okay, and one of those poodle naps," she said, or something. Counterman confirmed: "BOODLEPAPS!" I desperately wanted to see what either "poodle naps" or "boodlepaps" could possibly translate to, but the sad ticket was lost in the wild sheaf of paper that had accumulated in front of the woman. She began clawing the tickets into no discernable order, and the shop guy tallied her damage: Fifty bucks.

She slid him a crisp fifty. I stared at this. Fifty bucks. Now, I'm all for people wasting their money on whatever the fuck they want--I did, after all, just get back from Vegas--but Jesus Christ. Fifty bucks on goddamn lottery tickets. I know for a good fact that my chances at the blackjack tables are a sight better than hers; hell, I know that the wife's chances at the roulette table are better than the lottery. It all of a sudden bummed me out, the whole spectacle.

She began to leave, still wrestling with the wad of unruly tickets, and the counterman said--a line I've heard before--"NO SMOKES?" He pointed amiably at the cigarette display behind him. The woman looked pained. "I don't smoke," she coldly replied, and went out the door.

I walked up to the counter, and the fellow rang up my items. "LARDO? MAYBE ICE CREEP?" He pointed to the Lotto machine and a freezer case, happily trying to upsell me. "No thanks," I said, "but I could use some Camel Lights." He plucked them out of the display case. "YEAH!" he screamed.

"Yeah," I said, "hit me."

Thursday, 20 May
Family Devalues

They've been airing some ads threatening yet another round of episodes for the eternally ghastly "Fear Factor" show, a program that asks the question, "What will the planet run out of first: horrible wavy-limbed insects, or awful people who are willing to eat them on national televison?" I've actually never watched this show, only partially because of the fact that I really don't want to watch idiots eagerly debasing themselves for unclear reasons--that's what weblogs are for! No, I avoid it for the presence of Joe Rogan, whose very existence I find to be the single most terrifying thing about this program. Everything I've seen of Joe Rogan since he left the estimable "NewsRadio" has made me embarrassed that I ever enjoyed his character on that show, and I wish him mostly a protracted, consumptive death.

Well, maybe "protracted" is stretching it a bit. A quicker death would protect against him actually saying anything. And Joe Rogan is certainly at his best when he is emphatically not saying anything.

At any rate, the "Fear Factor" ad also mentioned something truly unspeakable: "Family Fear Factor." Oh, yay. It's like the dark matter equivalent of family counseling; I imagine this sprang fully formed from the mind of Kang. The spot showed a heartwarming clip of Angry Mom hissing at her kid: "Are you gonna cry? Don't cry." Honestly, I'm not a parent, but adults are real turds when it comes to kids. I know that kids are maddening and weird and so forth, but putting on a frightening, pinched look of horrible, clenched anger and then hotly insisting that a child "don't cry" is guaranteed one thing: Many tears. I certainly wanted to cry, and I'm about to turn 35.

I can only imagine the whole exchange between foul mother and miserable child:

"Mommy, I don't wanna wrestle the squids!"

"Look, buster, you're going into that tank full of terrifying, multi-limbed horrors from the deep, and you're going to fight!"

"Buh-buh-boooooo-hooooooo!"

"You gonna cry? Don't cry."

"Squids are gonna eat me! They got suckers and poison!"

"Yep. And the producers have been starving them for weeks. I don't care. We're on TV. You're going in, or you're gonna have to deal with Mr. Sad."

"M-mr. Sad?"

"You heard me. Mr. Sad. Mr. Sad comes to your bed at night with needlenose pliers. He peels your ears off with 'em and eats 'em."

"I don't like Mr. Sad!"

"Nobody does. That's why he's Mr. Sad."

"Mommy, are you talking about daddy? Is that why he left you for the woman at the DMV?"

"No, honey. I'm not talking about that worthless shithead."

"Then who is Mr. Sad?"

"Joe Rogan. Joe Rogan is Mr. Sad. Do you want him to tear your ears off?"

"No, Mommy, no! I'll be good! Please let me into the squid tank! Please, please, please!"

"That's a good boy. You'd better beat the shit out of those squid. Mr. Rogan won't like it if you fuck it up."

"I hate Mr. Sad."

"We all do, honey. Now get going. Mommy needs digital cable."

Tuesday, 18 May
The Condensed NYPD Blue

[The squad room; or rather, the squalid room. Detectives bustle around, except for Andy, who sits at his desk eating a dead bird. He glares at middle space.]

Gay John: Detective?

Andy: Yeah?

GJ: Phone call for you.

Andy: Take a message.

GJ: Ah . . . your son died.

[Andy overturns his desk with a mighty YAAAAARRR! Squalor flies everywhere, mixing with the squalor. Andy stalks into the bathroom, his pate steaming magnificently. John Kelley enters.]

John: Hey, partner. I heard. I'm sorry.

Andy: This whole thing's got me twisted up, John! I can't . . . aw, John. [Andy cries manfully. John consoles him.]

John: I know. I know. Listen . . . you and me are gonna talk about this. I'm gonna reach out to some people, all right?

Andy: Yeah . . . yeah?

John: Yeah. Namely, my agent. I'm gonna move on to movies, partner, so I've got to go. All right? You all right?

Andy: Yeah. You go. You gotta do what you gotta do.

[They hug manfully, then Kelley exits to take up a brief, horrific film career before plummeting back into TV years later. Ricky Schroeder enters.]

Ricky Schroeder: Hey, I'm your new partner. Sorry for your loss.

Andy: This isn't going to work out, junior. Nuh uh, asshole.

RS: You wait, buddy. I'm an unbalanced hothead with undying commitment to the job, just like you. We're going to last, partner, you wait.

[Ricky exits. Lt. Fancy enters.]

Fancy: We got a double homicide. I need you out there.

Andy: Yeah, yeah, that's just like you people.

Fancy: What?

Andy: Black bosses.

Fancy: You racist bastard.

[They punch each other for a while.]

Andy: I learned a lot from that. You're a stand-up negro.

Fancy: I like you, former drunken psychopath.

Andy: So what's this double homicide?

Fancy: (checking note) Your wife and your new partner.

Andy: YAAAAAAAAAAARRRR! [Fade out on Andy knocking over some squalor.]

[Fade up on Andy standing at a bar staring at a shot of liquor. He wants that sweet, sweet liquor, because he isn't insane. An unreasonably hot fellow detective approaches him.]

Hot detective: You don't want to do this.

Andy: Of course I do. I'm not insane.

HD: No, Andy, don't. Come home and fuck me instead.

Andy: (Looking wildly around) Is this a joke?

HD: Not for what the producers are paying me. Come on, it's time for our sex scene where I come perilously close to showing a nipple.

Andy: Right on!

[Sex scene. There are many side-boob shots, and one paralyzing shot of Andy's naked, glaring ass.]

[Cut to next day, squalid room. Andy strolls in and encounters Medavoy and Ratlike Detective.]

Medavoy: H-hey, Andy. S-s-sorry aboutcher w-wife. And partner. Boy, he w-wasn't around long, huh?

Ratlike Detective: You might notice my unfortunate tie. Jesus, these people hate me.

Medavoy: Congratulations on the s-s-sex.

Andy: Yeah, thanks! It's really turned things around for me.

[Saved By the Bell guy enters.]

SBtBG: Hey. You Andy? I'm your new partner.

Andy: This isn't going to work, junior. Nuh uh.

Gay John: Saved By the Bell Guy? Message for you.

SBtBG: What is it?

Gay John: Your dad got drunk and killed himself.

Andy: YAAAAAAAARRRR! (Andy fitfully rolls around in squalor.)

SBtBG: This guy is really wound up.

New Lieutenant: Hey, I'm new.

Ratlike Detective: Yeah, and I'm leaving.

Medavoy: Ah--ah--ah . . .

NL: Let me introduce several forgettable new detectives, including this incredibly beautiful guy who's nine feet tall.

Beautiful Guy: Hey. [He smolders.]

NL: Andy and new guy, we've got someone we like in interview two. We think it's the skell who did your wife and Ricky Schroeder.

Andy: This asshole.

SBtBG: We're on it.

[Cut to interview room. The scuzzy skell sits like an asshole.]

Andy: Tell me what you know!

Skell: I don't talk to cops. Especially asshole cops.

[Andy and SBtBG beat the skell savagely for a while. The skell kind of blends in with the squalor.]

Skell: Awright! Awright! Don't beat me no more! I'll talk, and incidentally, I definitely don't want a lawyer! Nobody who comes in here ever does, and I'm one of 'em!

Andy: Talk. Or junior and me here, we're gonna take you out in the alley and run over you with a garbage truck.

Skell: It was me! I did it!

SBtBG: (Slapping down legal pad) Write it down.

[Cut to squalid room. The detectives are enjoying some desk time, except for Andy, who glares into middle distance, and Beautiful Guy, who smolders.]

Medavoy: Anyone w-want to go out for a beer? Job well done an' all that?

SBtBG: Sure, I'll go.

Hot Detective: Sure. Andy?

Andy: Yeah. I guess.

Gay John: Detective? Phone for you.

Andy: What is it?

Gay John: The jury came back on your double homicide fellow. He was found not guilty.

Andy: YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRR! [Squalor.]

[Cut to a local bar. The detectives are enjoying beers, except for Andy, who grumpily sips tonic water.]

New Lieutenant: Good job today, people. You did good work.

Medavoy: Th-th-th-th--

Andy: Shut up, Medavoy.

[There is a reflective pause.]

Hot Detective: It seems like we're missing something. Something big.

Medavoy: Oh, yeah. Hey--A-andy, ah . . . didn't you have another partner in there? Like, for years? You guys were really close.

Andy: Oh, yeah. Bobby. Bobby Simone! How could I have forgotten about Bobby? Jeez. What ever happened to that son of a bitch?

New Lieutenant: He died of a heart infection.

(Pause.)

Andy: YAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRR!

[Fade out on squalor.]

Monday, 17 May
Other Circles Of Hell

THE CIRCLE OF PEOPLE WHOSE ELEVATOR STOPS ARE BEFORE MINE

Working on the 20th floor, there are a lot of these doomed souls. But wait! they cry, We can't help where we work any more than you can! While this is true, you could refrain from getting on the elevator when I'm using it, not to mention the time I waste waiting for you bastards to get done using it before the car finally wheezes its way up to me.

Listen, I'm not without sympathy. Some of you are smokers too, like you, Too Much Perfume, and you, Farty, and don't think I have forgotten you, Smokes So Impassively It's Kind Of Creepy. I understand that you probably meant me no trouble.

Unfortunately, this is my Hell, and I get to be all capricious and shit. You will spend eternity doing Theater 101 exercises. All righty! Get started playing Soundball. Then after about fifty years, I'll come back and teach you Mirror Exercises. Get to it!

Oh, and every now and then, harpies will rend your flesh. Later!

THE CIRCLE OF UNDERPERFORMING FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYERS

In the interest of being inclusive, I am defining "underperforming" as "for whatever reason, not living up to what Skot expected, no matter how ignorant his expectations, and consequently making him look stupid yet again in front of the other fantasy players." Yes, that includes the injured, Mr. Garret Anderson. I hear you. My back! My mystifyingly painful back that nobody can fix! I am deaf to your excuses. Take some laudanum. Threaten an osteopath. Rap a skull at midnight with an elf-bone. I need offense!

What's that, Mr. Barry Bonds? But nobody will pitch to me because I'm a freaky mutant who destroys baseballs! Tough. You should do what you have to do to get a hit, and if that means going out to the mound and beating it out of the fucking pitcher's hand while he stands there dumbly, you do it.

Do I hear indignant, haughty bleating? It can only be Mr. Derek Jeter! But I am not unlike Hermes when I run! And am I not a Dervish in the field? And like Narcissus, well . . . let's face it, I am fucking hot. You can't do this to me! Ah, but I can, Derek, and I will enjoy it, for you are such a tool. A really disappointing tool, like, say a keyhole saw. Who wants a keyhole saw? Nobody.

And that, Derek, is why your punishment will be worst of all. Mr. Anderson and Mr. Bonds will simply be forced to stare at photographs of Dick Cheney's lower teeth for all of eternity. Nothing but those horrible, gray little tombstones to keep them company while their minds slowly get eaten. But you! No, Derek, it will be far worse for you. You will simply spend every day, over and over into forever, losing your shortstop job to Alex Rodriguez. We'll be starting that soon.

Oh, I forgot. Gentlemen, periodically you will be visited by giant flying viruses that will flit into your ears, eat your eyes, and cause your innards to liquefy and then sluice out your anuses. Later!

THE CIRCLE OF ROADIES

I almost left roadies off the list, reasoning that it simply wasn't possible that these lurching vermin were actually human, but a scientist friend of mine showed me some illuminating MRIs and convinced me. Okay, they're human . . . after a fashion. But you can't tell me they're not hellbound.

Wait, dude, I hear the roadies cry--the ones who have dimly figured out what's going on--who's gonna unload these speakers? We have electrician's tape! Doesn't that count for anything? The roadies are weeping now, their greasy tears spilling onto their grimy t-shirts advertising bands nobody has ever heard of. It was all about the music, man!

Indeed. And so shall it forever be about music. Until the end of time, you will sit in a room smoking naught but girly menthol cigarettes, receiving no sweet blow-jobs, and will manufacture banjos. Then each night you will serenade the Hosts of Hell with soothing concertos by Philip Glass.

Whoops! Oh, and every now and then savage, fiery gorillas will pounce on you, eat your skin, and then shit foully into your mouths. Later!

THE CIRCLE OF EXPRESS LANE ABUSERS

Oh, dear. It wasn't enough that you dumped your basket full of SO MANY FUCKING THINGS in front of the express line cashier, was it? You know, the cashier who glared at you for failing to notice the 10 items or less sign? That one? You remember.

I know you remember, because that was the same time you took out your checkbook. In the express line. Now, I know that technically you're allowed to write a check . . . in the express line . . . but the point is, I hate you for writing a check in the express line, because it takes so fucking long, and have I mentioned that it's the express line? Denoting speed? So there you were, writing a check and then pausing to carefully note the purchase in your ledger and then calculating your remaining checking balance right there at the counter! Can't wait to get home to do that shit, because this is some strange Bizarro-store where receipts are routinely not given out! Surely you remember this.

I know you do, because it was right then, after you got done with your checkbook, as the cashier was handing you that mythical receipt, that you suddenly said, "Oh, and can I get five dollars in quarters?" Because you had suddenly noticed that this was a bank rather than a supermarket express lane. And not that you needed ten dollars in quarters! No! That would require the cashier to simply reach down and grab a roll. You needed five, requiring the cashier to count it all out. Now you must remember all this--I sure do--because when you got out your purse to get the five dollars, it was full of cash. I was right there; I saw! Which led me to wonder: Why the fuck were you writing a goddam check?

Oh, dear again. So many misdeeds. For your crimes, your vast amounts of self-absorption, I sentence you to an eternity of purest drear. You will only see the films of Sondra Locke and Ted McGinley. You will read only the novels of Piers Anthony and later Thomas Pynchon. You will listen only to smooth jazz and Metal Machine Music. You will smell only patchouli and Vick's Vap-o-Rub. And you will wonder how time, of which you once took little notice, ever got so long. That's when the mimes show up.

Oh, silly me. Almost forgot. Occasionally, you will be assailed by cactus demons who will shred your skin like fine lace, then roll your thrashing body around in kosher salt and cider vinegar.

Later!

Thursday, 13 May
E Espy N

Transom was struck from the race. Its jockey was found drinking Red Stripes and cursing sepulchre under his breath.

Certitude eked out a win over icing after a controversial call by the refs, citing icing for icing. Feldspar was credited with nine saves. Blandishments was ejected in the second period.

Tatterdemalion fouled out early, but not after rejecting five shots by throttle, who ended up scoring only six. Palimpsest and fugue had between them ten steals, utterly destroying the efforts of point guard baroness.

Swim was held to a miserable 26 running yards thanks to the ferocious tackling of exemplar, who also had an interception against feckless. Wide receiver plotz scored two touchdowns despite blanket coverage by the tenacious glib.

Troika had its number retired today with much fanfare. The ceremony was attended by luminaries such as dotard, bailiwick and simian.

Penchant scored a TKO against derelict in the fifth round, retaining its title. Former champ whelk was seen in attendance for the match, but declined comment at the urging of former manager spelt.

And finally, former Grandmaster gentian was reportedly spotted lurking around a Pittsburgh rest stop by various sources. We are unable to confirm those reports at this time, and authorities are also refusing comment. Onetime archnemesis facile refused to speculate on this development.

Thank you for watching. We leave you now with footage of the incomparable vertiginous. They don't make them like that any more.

Good night.

Monday, 10 May
All That Glitters

Some of you tens of readers are going to get the wrong idea about our trip to Las Vegas. You're going to think, "Wow, he had a really shitty time." Please don't think that. We had a delightful time. But for some reason, whenever I think back on the trip, I think of . . . stuff . . . that wasn't necessarily . . . fun. But still. We had a good time. Just try to remember that.

Flying into Vegas in the daytime is never a good idea. In fact, looking at Vegas in the daytime at all is a really terrible idea--it's like going backstage at a strip club and finding out that the women are all tired and crabby and hate you. And make no mistake: Vegas hates you. Let me amend that: Unless you are rich enough to genuinely not have to give a shit about money, Vegas hates you. The image it likes to play up is: Anyone can get lucky! No reason it can't be you! Which I suppose is technically true. However, the darker side of what Vegas really thinks about you is this: And if you get lucky, who the fuck cares? You're just going to blow it on something stupid, obviously, because you're here, aren't you?

These were the thoughts that filled my brain as we flew into Las Vegas and I stared at the horrible, grimy low-rent tenements that squat around the Strip, like the dark-eyed children lurking around the skirts of their trashy mothers. Nothing says "Losertown" like eyeing some of the hopeless lodgings a mere half mile off the Strip. Fortunately, much like other people's neglected children, they were easy to forget about once I couldn't see them anymore, so by the time we got to the hotel, I happily did. No losers here!

We went exploring. The casino was nothing unusual, except for perhaps the startling explosion of deeply weird new slot machines. There were the celebrity (I'm being kind) machines: "Dick Clark's Rockin' New Years Eve Slots!" "Kenny Rogers' The Gambler!" "Stacy Keach's Unemployment Check Fiesta!" Clearly not my demographic. Nor were some of the more esoteric of the "themed" machines. What the fuck is "Lobstermania"? Are all the rugged woodsmen flocking to town to play "Wild Bear Salmon Run"? I stared for a while at the puzzling "Tabasco" slot machine and idly fantasized that each losing spin rewarded the unlucky player with a blistering spray of capiscum into their eyes.

We availed ourselves of a couple drinks--foregoing the three-foot-tall bongs full of daquiris favored by the wandering college-aged chitterers--and headed outside, where there was a band playing. It was apparently "ALL EIGHTIES!" because we certainly don't want to forget that utter debacle of a decade, and the band was playing a truly dispiriting version of "Don't You Want Me." The siren belted out the lyrics like she was cleaning a rug with a broom: "DON'T! YOU! WANT! ME! BABY!" In defiance of all sense, the male singer responded to her shrieks with a pantomime of, I guess, "wanting": he took up his end of the chorus and began chasing her around a speaker. I hoped that he was trying to murder the wretched singer, but alas, they were being "cute." They continued their assault on the song, while the wife and I stood transfixed. I no longer wondered what ever happened to people who are truly awful singers but who cannot help themselves: they move to Vegas. The woman in particular was hauntingly bad. If musical notes were baseballs, and she were to be suddenly inhabited by the spirit of Ted Williams, and she were also given a +5 Magic Bat of Homers . . . well, she could maybe get a spot with the Mariners, but that's all.

As we turned to go, the band launched into the minimally funky "Bust A Move," and we quickened our step. The song screamed in agony as the musicians fell upon its neck and hungrily sucked all the fun out of it. We needed more drinks.

Later, we prowled the casino tables. The wife was determined to try some gambling, and had settled on roulette as her game of choice. I located her a five dollar table and she sat down cutely. I made my escape, as roulette gives me hives, and tried to find a five dollar blackjack table, which is the equivalent of the childrens' table at Thanksgiving. None. Only ten dollar tables, and I had never played on one before, mainly because I am so very chicken and also because I do not have hundred dollar bills falling out of my asshole. Eventually, however, I screwed up my courage (read: couldn't fucking handle just watching any more), pulled out a hundred, and took a seat. I was handed a tiny stack of chips, of which I almost immediately lost sixty dollars. I just bought Steve Wynn a pair of shoelaces, I thought.

But as it turned out, I ended up winning about sixty bucks, and weirdly, I stopped. Found the wife. "How did you do?" "I lost about thirty-five bucks," she said. "Did you have fun?" "Yeah!" she chirped, "and I got a couple of free drinks." This is the hallucinatory aspect of Vegas. You spend the equivalent of $17.50 for two watery drinks, and like it.

By the next day, I had started to think of Las Vegas as The City That Makes You Want To Push Old Ladies Down! Really, you kind of want to push all of humanity down, because they're all in your fucking way in Vegas, in improbable spots: Yes, in the middle of a doorway is the perfect place to have a discussion about show tunes! Dorothy, I would like to pick this busy sidewalk to get your chicken recipe! Uh oh, Bernice, there's a sociopathic young man who's pushing you down!

We decided, unsurprisingly, to have more drinks, so we headed to Mandalay Bay. For those of you who haven't seen it, Mandalay Bay is this gold-plated monstrosity that crouches on the outskirts of the Strip, looming ominously over the heat-blasted nothing, like some existential Ivana Trump. Our destination was a place called The Red Square, which as you might imagine, specializes in vodka, and lots of it, of all kinds and provenances. Sweet overpriced vodka! We could hardly wait.

It was closed until the evening. For a minute I felt kind of stupid for not calling ahead, until I realized that the fucking place was violating a major law of Vegas: Closed? What the fuck is closed? In this city? Nothing closes, for Christ's sake! It's the whole point of the city! If I want to drink vodka at noon, or lose all my money at midnight, or gang-fuck a hooker in a raccoon suit, the city provides this ANYWHERE, ANY TIME! Closed. And stuck in a giant pachinko machine right off Gehenna Lane. We found another bar and drank listlessly, considering our options.

Finally, what can you do? We split. There was a walkway connecting Mandalay Bay to the Luxor, a ludicrous pyramid dropped down in the desert by lost, tacky pharaohs. We finally entered the thing, and my spirits were lifted a bit by the sight of crying children: the Luxor's interior is a creepy, imposing cavern filled with looming Egyptianesque statues and inadequate lighting. Naturally, the children were all terrified beyond sanity, and wailed for their parents to deliver them from the hellish crypt. We continued on, and inside I cackled at the luckless parents, whose future therapy bills would surely be as astronomical as they would be useless in fixing their grey-faced, somnolent children, who would all become goth teenagers one day thanks to the Luxor.

We continued on another human-freight-moving-tube to the excrutiatingly wretched Excalibur, an Arthurian-themed casino that seemed to be designed and built by Walt Disney's febrile ditch-cousin. The wife wrinkled her nose. "It smells like buffet, she said, and I was alarmed to find that there really was a smell called "buffet." Gray meat, pink wine and brown gravy were the dominant themes, with an undercurrent of Old Spice; alarmingly, the smell was beginning to cut through our previous drinks, so we ran out, scattering children like tenpins, breathing a little easier once we emerged into the furnace of the Outside, and gulped down lungfuls of dusty car exhaust. Whew.

The rest of the day was a wash; we napped in our room, resting up for our later excursion: Showgirls! The wife wanted to see a Show, bless her, so we wrangled some half-price tickets to something called The Showgirls of Magic! I figured with a title that bad, it had to be dismally good. And it was! The wife and I enjoyed ourselves as the young ladies pranced 'n danced 'n did hoary old magic tricks and, most importantly, displayed their breasts. Expecting a parade of silicone, I was pleased to see the entire gamut of breast sizes, from perky As to charmingly plump Ds. This appeal to my sense of democracy pleased me, as did seeing naked tits. There was also a fat transvestite who hassled some guy in the front, and later, a midget. Every fucking tacky thing about Vegas was paraded around on stage, and the show reveled in it, and I appreciated that. Particularly the breasts.

Afterwards, we gambled for a bit; I went up about thirty bucks, and the wife again cheerfully lost some more money at the random number table, but no biggie. We went to bed and huddled under the blankets, fighting the arctic blast of the air conditioner.

The rest of the trip, really, was more of the same shit. I did end up losing some money to a video poker machine, which the casinos malevolently put at each bar. Video poker is my nemesis, and yet I play it every time. Some people have things on their headstones like Loving Father or Taken Too Soon. Mine will surely read, For Some Reason, Played Video Poker, and then below that one of those red circles with a diagonal bar across it obscuring a dollar sign.

As we returned home on the plane, I slept, and I dreamed: I dreamed of "Bust A Move," and of brown gravy. Sounds played in my head: "WHEEL! OF! FORTUNE!" "Bongbongbongbongbongbong" "LOBSTERMANIA!" I remembered the guy at my blackjack table who split fours. I recalled the very same fellow who stood on two aces. I imagined doomed revenant children who haunt pyramids, living off of discarded soda pop and mustard packets. I fondly remembered getting out of town, drinking beer at one o'clock in the afternoon, and spending time with my girl. And I dreamed of breasts, all sizes.

So I don't see how anyone can get the idea that I didn't enjoy myself, because I damn well did. We had a lot of fun. So much so that we're pretty sure there's no need to go back very soon.

Tuesday, 04 May
A Spring's Tale

Hail, good Readers! I welcome, as always, your mighty tens into my demesnes.

In but a short few Houres, it will be the fourth of Maye in this Good Year of our Lorde, and this date marks one year from the day that I wedded my faire wyfe; it was a joyous occasion, truly, and well I remember the wine, and the song, and my lovely bride, and the Briefe, Fumbling carnality that followed into the merrie evening. O ho! I still have the imprints made by the ingenious magick lantern device I concealed in the bedchambers to record our first enchanted Coupling, and I have many eager offers from those who wish to post them to the Ethereal Inter-Nette! I resist these rogues, of course--One, for my faire lady, to whom I have sworn no harm; and Two, if I be honest, I confess I am ill prepared to demonstrate to the whole World mine own disappointing sau-sage.

But I maunder on. To-morrow marks our first Anniversary, and then we travel! To that storied land of mystery, and wonder, and Banque Apparatuses--have you heard of this place? It is spoken of in tones of Wonderment and Delight: Las Vegas! I'faith, I know you have heard of it, Reader, for who could have not? A glorious city, it is, with its boggarts and nixies and naeads, who roam its streets a-sweating triumphantly 'neath glowing signs of Magickal Men (their brightly-hued kerchiefs!) and Purveyors of Enormous Lobsters (for is it not wise to eat seafood in the desert?) and--let us not forget--Resplendent harlots that will for a pretty coin display their juiciest ankles, and perhaps more!

We shall repose in Good Las Vegas for the better part of a week, traveling and having fine adventures, as those of great Barnabas the Pinch-Penny, who is rumored once to have consumed fine Steake-Hide and Elastick Eggs--for a mere Guilder! Christ's nails! And the ale-houses are relaxed, and mind not if you wander with your crockery to a neighbor--nay!--for is not the House of Emm-Gee-Emm also the House of Tropickana? Sooth, it is, and they mind not the intermingling of fine folk nor their tankards, and nor do the gendarmes, provided--I advise--you do not Piss unguardedly; Mind The False Plant-Pots. I tell you this after an Unfortunate Experience, reader.

In truth, I am cheered by thoughts of our visit, and this Opportunitie to leave this duckish land for a time. I am spurred on by Thoughts; thoughts of tiny little wizened imps, clad in their Tuxedeon glamours, seemingly eaten by Time's Hungry Raccoon--they are so Wrinkly, like Bathed Toes!--and how they squire about with the finest Maiden-Flesh to be found in Christendom: the orange bosoms radiant as midday suns. "How do you do it, sir? How do you acquire such Specimens of pulchritude?" I inquired once, a time ago. He beamed slyly: "Sirrah, I tell you, I have Guilders falling out of my Arse-Hole."

Puzzling! But now I knew a secret--the Gnome had revealed his Magick! I could scarcely believe it; I attributed this lapse to his advanced age: clearly his mind was gone with Syphilis or the Vapors or the Like. No matter. Now I knew the secret: Guilders would be shat.

On our first morn in Las Vegas, I will Discreetly defecate in my lady's bag. And she will be pleased when she opens her pouch and discovers its Rapturous contents. "Someone has shat in my bag!" she will scream. And I will say, "Yes! It was I, my love. I shat in your bag. Let's see what fun we can have with that!"

Until a week hence, I will be absent, readers. Be well for the nonce, and I will return to tell you of our Glories.










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