skot AT izzlepfaff DOT com
Monday, 22 November
The Night Before
Well, fuck you, Gmail. You can kiss my ActiveX ass. Honestly, what on earth does that mean?
BARL. See you in December.
PS to Europeans: Jesus Christ, buy us drinks!
Wednesday, 17 November
USA! USA! USA!
As the trip to Europe comes closer, it dawned on me today that it was time to shop for tiny things. It's no good when traveling to pack a giant can of shaving cream, or the standard-issue tube of toothpaste, and certainly not a big tin of Band-Aids. For one, it's just not practical to cart that shit around. And for another, it's just insulting to the Europeans. This is a place where people drive tiny cars--if they drive at all--and eat tiny portions and sleep in tiny beds. In short, Europeans are tiny, scuttling pygmies, but they are proud pygmies, and resent stout American traditions like buying every possible product in such quantity as to suggest that at any time we may suddenly be plunged into a famine. America is the land of plenty, which is why we are the only people on earth who buy tube socks in twelve-packs.
I learned all this to my pain on previous trips to Europe. I remember one night in France at a restaurant, and I asked the waiter, "What's the soup du jour?" He told me what it was--I don't remember exactly, but it sounded good--and I said, "That sounds wonderful. Bring me a big fucking bucket of that shit, and a ladle." The waiter stared at me a moment, and then politely explained that the soup came in a perfectly modest portion that he thought I would enjoy. I set him straight. "I'm an American," I said through my big-ass American teeth, "You bring me that bucket and ladle. I'm gonna suck down that swill like an asthmatic moose, only noisier. I'm gonna grunt like Monica Seles having a sigmoidoscopy. I'm fucking Falstaff squared, okay?" Europeans respect Americans who simply know how to shoot straight, and true to form, the waiter was nothing but helpful from that moment forward, particularly after I shot him in the ankle for forgetting to refill our wine glasses.
But when it comes to most other things, we try to play it cool, and hence the shopping for tiny things. So today I bought a tiny little thingie of deodorant (my cavernous American armpits tingled with dismay), a tiny little tube of toothpaste (my tobaccoed American teeth laughed riotously and rubbed their teeth-hands together in anticipation of a smoke-friendly culture), a tiny little packet of ibuprofen (my giant American brain quivered with enthusiastic American endorphins), etc. Presently, a clerk approached me.
"Finding everything?" she asked.
"I think so," I replied. "I like these tiny little combs. They're absolutely spot on for my pubic hair, which does get really unruly. Do you have tiny little tubs of hair gel?"
She adopted a worried look, but remained helpful. "We, ah, have these small cans of hair spray. Would that work?"
"I don't think so," I replied. "I'm a smoker. One goddam stray coal and my dick is a Roman candle."
Her hands fluttered slightly in an unconscious semaphore indicating MADMAN to anyone who might be nearby.
"It's cool," I said soothingly. "Listen, do you have any tiny little pistols? Something good for travel? I might need to discipline some snotty waiters while I'm on vacation, and you have a Christload of tiny little things. Like a derringer or something? I don't need a fucking Buntline Special here."
She gave me a watery stare before responding. "Have you tried Safeway?"
Lord. This country is just in the dumps. It'll be good to get away. We'll be there soon, Europe! I know you just can't wait.
Tuesday, 16 November
Well, hi there! It's been a while, hasn't it? Sorry about that.
I was all set on Thursday to give you a rip-roaring little piece on stamp fraud, when all of a sudden . . . I started to feel kind of icky. You know: that creeping awareness of small clues--a tickle in the throat, a little sweat, mild headache, alarming nonappetite for booze . . . yeah, I was definitely fighting something off. I didn't really feel up to writing, but I did go to bed with a health-restoring attitude of positivity, telling myself, "I'll feel so much better in the morning!"
The wife informed me later, "It was like a dead man crawling into bed with me. You were so cold." We then had a heated discussion about the various corpse-trysts she had enjoyed in her past and my ignorance of such atrocities, but that's best left between the lady and myself.
Needless to say, on Friday morning, feeling like the Wet Questing Nose of Anubis, I called in sick. Several times, actually, and there's really nothing like standing around in one's underwear, sicker than hell, trying desperately to reach the office and having nobody pick up. What the fuck is going on? I wondered, dialing for the third time and hearing again only unanswered rings. Finally, after dropping the phone due to uncontrollable shivering, I realized that I had dumbly been dialing the office number from two years ago before we moved offices. I had to find one of my own business cards in my wallet to look up the right number because I was so fucking miserable. After calling in, I returned to bed, where the wife muzzled me anew, gratefully, no doubt welcoming my clammy, deathlike form and attendant funk of the incipient grave.
Hours later, after the wife had split for work, I finally arose around noon, not due to any wish to get out of bed, but simply because I was too fucking bone-cold to stay in the room. Being apparently completely fucking delirious (though I was having incredible chills, I'm betting my fever was off the charts; later on in the day, when I felt slightly less miserable, I was still clocking in at 102), I then got up, put on a horrid, threadbare little flannel robe and nothing else and parked myself in front of the TV for a few hours of mindless programming and some really kinetic shaking. No socks. No undershirt. Just a crummy robe and the gloomy glow of daytime television. I didn't even adjust the thermostat, which is programmed to be off during weekdays unless overridden. I can honestly say that I have no idea what I was thinking while I sat there all that time--pausing only, of course, to go outside, where it was much colder, to miserably smoke vile-tasting cigarettes--except maybe that while some believe the world will end in fire and others in ice, I was pretty sure mine was ending in ratty flannel.
Eventually, when I had sort of wised up a bit, I tried for a shower to hoist up the old core temp. When I disrobed, I was seized again with a horrid case of the shakes, and could barely manipulate the faucet controls, and in one memorable spasm, caused my face to impact nicely onto the tiled wall in front of me. I did start to feel better after a couple minutes of standing under the warming spray, and the steam felt good on the sinuses. Then I started to feel vaguely uncomfortable, and I looked down at my torso, which was gleaming a sinister red underneath the murderous spray; I realized that I was verging on giving myself skin burns, and reluctantly dropped the heat level down from George Clooney to more like Ethan Hawke.
One thing that is weirdly entertaining about being horribly ill are the startling fever dreams. One I had that night featured a foosball table at my workplace. It's in a stupid location in the hallway on the way to the elevator, and in this particular dream, I stopped by the foosball table and glanced down at the gaily-attired little amputee players. Then I leaned down and bit off all of their heads, crunching them in my teeth like candy. (Confession: this is probably because in real life, I have actually fantasized about biting off the heads of the foosball men. I hate foosball.)
In another dream that seemed to last for hours, I was meticulously cleaning the shower. I scoured every inch of that goddam thing, and every time I was sure I was done, I would find another surprising patch of mildew, or another rogue bit of munge; I was Sisyphus with a scrubby rag. Finally--finally!--I completed my task, and I turned on the shower head to rinse down the stall. As water rinsed away all the soap and muck, I noted with disappointment that the water spray was dislodging what appeared to be peanut brittle from the shower walls, and shards of it ran down with the water and collected near the drain. In what must be the most depressingly upbeat part of this dream, I did not attempt to eat the brittlestuff.
Worst of all was an excessively detailed dream where the wife and I were on vacation; from what I can recall, the setting was some hideous amalgam of Europe and Las Vegas--maybe it was EuroDisney. Anyway, right smack dab in the middle of this vacation, the wife--in the dream--sat me down to casually inform me that she no longer loved me, and would soon be seeking a divorce.
This was, of course, utterly soul-destroying, and in my dream I pleaded and begged and wailed and all but lit myself on fire and so on, while the wife continued to look at me placidly and pityingly, as if she were studying the behavior of a particularly uninteresting paramecium. No, she would reassure me over and over, she had made up her mind. Sorry. I'm gone.
It was one of those perfectly horrifying dreams that, upon waking, you sit up for a panicky moment to make sure, damn sure, that it was just a dream, and when you do assure yourself, the relief floods your system like a narcotic. I sat for a moment, panting, feeling the adrenaline subside, and I thought a bit about the ghastly fucking dream again, its sickly certitude and seemingly self-abrading maliciousness, and I also remember thinking: When the dream-wife was telling me all that, I was feeling shock, and horror, and despair . . . but there was another part of me kind of going, Why is she ruining our vacation?
Speaking of which--and less us not dwell any more on such horrible ideas--the wife and I are indeed going on vacation again. Next Monday evening, we fly out for London for a couple weeks (a side trip to Dublin is already booked), so there will once again be a break in posting while I'm gone. But fear not! I will be back in December with what I hope is many a tale of Ye Olde Merrie and Erin Go BLARG! and all that, as we simply cannot fucking wait to get out of this country, go to some new ones, and then, of course, make fun of them.
Thursday, 11 November
Home, Not Alone
Call this my John Hughes blog entry. It's about once--and it was just once--in high school when yes, my parents went out of town, and yes, ignoring their admonitions, I held a party. It is a testament to what a dweeb I am that I still get little frissons of I'M SO BAD! feelings when I remember it.
It's not like it was complicated. Parents gone-->call friends-->party liftoff. And it's not like it was smart, either: in a town of 3300 people, a bunch of fucked up teenagers gathering at one location are simply not going to go unnoticed. I must say my parents were gracious enough not to mention what they almost certainly knew about ten minutes after getting back into town: I had a party. This is presumably why, to this day, whenever I speak to my father on the phone, he heartily assures me that he is doing everything humanly possible to exhaust my inheritance before he dies.
(This is not a lie. It is also kind of effective, since my parents had me young; neither of them are even sixty. "Going golfing in Montana with your mother next week! Then we might swing down to New Mexico! Jesus Christ, kid . . . I hope you have a good IRA. You're sure not getting shit from us.")
And now that I think about it, my parents clearly know that I was going to have a party no matter what: because they left over my birthday. And they're just not that dumb. On the other hand, I clearly am that dumb, since I just figured that out.
Anyway. The early part of the party isn't really worth relating; just kids showing up at the house with horrific piles of beer, which were all immediately hidden away around the house. One learns early in high school that if you put your beer in the fridge like a moron, it will immediately be drank by those who failed to score. Thus, you find remote areas to hide it. Some people kept theirs in locked cars, but I always hated having to go out to the car to get a fresh drink every two minutes or so; I generally located the dryer and stowed mine there. Nobody ever looked in the dryer.
After a half hour or so, having dispensed with the pretense of giving me gifts--I do not believe there were any--the party got into full sway. Someone, I don't remember who, pounced on my mother's piano and began banging out some horrible noise. It might have been Tom Waits. At any rate, this somehow signaled the Beginning Of Crazytime, because right after that, an argument broke out in the kitchen over whether or not an egg could be broken if held in a certain way in the palm; specifically, the assertion seemed to be that eggs are indestructiible when squeezed in some dumbfuck fashion that nobody sensible would ever attempt.
Naturally, this challenge proved irresistible, and people began gleefully crushing eggs over the sink, the floor, and for certain unfortunate lightweights, people's hair. I scurried ineffectually around the kitchen trying to dissuade people from violently squeezing eggs in their bare hands, but it was useless. The entire room was soon garishly decorated with chicken embryos and the prone people who weakly thrashed in them.
Meanwhile, on a couple different fronts, trouble was brewing. D., a well-known sociopath, was howling at B. over a certain girlfriend dispute; it seemed that there were certain "making out" issues in the air. D., the far more unbalanced of the two, was well up in B .'s grill about this issue, while B. (not the keenest of folks) was attempting to be conciliatory. This went over poorly, and after a bit, D. had found himself a crowbar and raced at B .
This was a real mistake, as while B. was not the swiftest of rivers, he was a dedicated black belt. B. took about thirty seconds to disarm D. and then turn him into a human omelette. D. moaned in rather non-eggy fashion on my lawn for a while before deciding to head home. B., on the other hand, truly a gentle soul, spent that time weeping in my bedroom, moaning over and over to anyone who would listen, "I had to do it, man!"
There were other problems. T., a female friend of mine at the time, got upset with her boyfriend at the moment, J. (J. was rumored to have a penis whose girth was soda-can-like. Wasn't high school weird?) T. became very upset--perhaps her feelings were inflamed also by the increasingly frenzied pounding my mother's piano was taking at the hands of some demented teenager--and flipped right the hell out. In high dudgeon, she screamed, "I'm getting the fuck out of here!" She marched to the door and flung it open.
Unfortunately, since T. was supernaturally drunk, she flung open the door to my father's gun closet, which contained, among other weaponry, a shotgun, a 30.06, and a number of pistols. T., being completely wrecked, walked into all of them. They clattered to the floor, as did she, as I stared in utter horror: for one thing, it's a miracle none of them went off, as my father keeps his guns loaded. For another, HOLY FUCK, SHE JUST DINGED UP MY FATHER'S GUNS! Meanwhile, as I charged over to the scene, T. was grabbing and dropping various loaded guns in puzzlement, as if they were vines impeding her progress. I saw her pick up a shotgun and look at it quizzically. "This isn't the front door!"
No. Definitely not.
And I do remember that the whole time this was going on, there was someone--I do not know who--maniacally playing the piano. I even remember the piece.
Duke Ellington*: "The Entertainer."
*(And when I say "Duke Ellington" I of course mean "Scott Joplin." Lord. Thanks, Craig.)
Tuesday, 09 November
The Big Weep
Since my promotion earlier this year at the office from Easily Ignored Functionary to Ineffectual Supervisory Flailer, I've been very cautious about writing of the Job. I guess part of me is still waiting for the part where they reveal I've been on a reality show for months now: FOX'S Fake Promotions: When Dumb People Think They've Fallen Up. But I suppose if I am cautious, I can reveal certain tales.
Friday last started out innocuously enough--I sat wearily in my office for a half hour in the morning, drinking coffee, checking emails--something about cancer, I guess--and otherwise diddling around.
Then a coworker appeared at my door. She was visibly agitated, shaking really, and clearly very close to tears. I'll stop here to mention quickly that this person is not one of my supervisees, but rather someone whom earlier in the week we--that is, "my team," a phrase which makes me think of cackling FOX execs-- had helped out with on a project. The woman then began stammering out what was apparently an apology for dragging "my team" into things and had been dressed down by someone else in the office and she felt horrible and so forth and then she was crying but good.
As a man, my first reaction was predictable: How can I get this crying woman out of my office? Because I am, as you all know, a real hero. I sprang into action, saying, "Gosh, hold on one second!" and then swiftly took out my whisky bottle and poured us each a shot. "Okay, continue!" I commanded, as she nervelessly accepted the whiskey. She looked uncertain, and my bowels were churning feverishly; I audibly farted, rapidly, three times in succession, causing her to start in her chair. "Riverboats," I calmly explained, and she stared nervously out the window, presumably looking for a river, but finding only I-5.
A short while later, after some more reassurances on my part that I bore her no ill will, she left the office, seeming somewhat comforted. And I didn't bear her any ill will. I hardly knew what the fuck she was talking about. This, you should note, is a hallmark of my Management Style.
Then later, me still in my office, sweet whiskey stowed back in my desk, another vision of misery appeared at my door. This person--also NOT ONE OF MY SUPERVISEES--stood before me asking if we could talk. She was, oh yes, totally freaked out and on the verge of tears. This was the woman who allegedly dressed down the previous woman, and she needed to apologize to me for dragging me into this whole mess, and more horribly, explain every little thing that happened--which as I just mentioned, violates everything I believe in when it comes to management.
"Please don't tell me anything!" I begged, "I prefer to not understand!" She was having none of it, though, so again I hauled out the whiskey and farted mournfully, drawing more unwelcome stares. This was getting out of hand, so I shifted tactics. "You should get your guts looked at," I said with some concern. "You sound like an old bagpipe." Her eyes widened. "I didn't do that! You did!" she shrieked shrilly. I shot back confidently, "You must be an insane person. I have the asshole of a ninja." I leaned forward. "Probably related to your drinking problem," I intoned, and took her whiskey away. She stood up stiffly and tottered out the door uncertainly, and I called after her, "I'm glad we talked!"
In truth, I was anything but confident. Every fresh encounter with distressed coworkers threatened my equilibrium, and I needed them to stop. So I called R. who is actually the two coworkers' supervisor. She picked right up. "R.!" I howled, "What the fuck is going on? My office keeps getting invaded by crying women! And not incidentally, they have some pretty awful gastrointestinal problems!" There was a moment's silence as R. digested this; I assumed she was extracting a whiskey bottle from her desk drawer.
"They're crying, you say?" she asked.
"Yes!" I cried. "And farting!"
"Jesus, what did you do to them?"
I stared in horror at the phone receiver. What was she implying? I didn't know what to say. So I took a leap of faith; I told the truth.
"R. I have no idea what the fuck they're talking about. I just sat here like a moron. I think I might have psychologically damaged one of them with certain accusations about flatulence."
There was a pause, and when R. spoke, she sounded cheerful.
"You're learning," she said. "I'm coming over to your office to talk."
I felt clammy for a moment. "If you come over here and cry at me," I told her, "I'm going to chop off your feet and feed them to mental patients."
She laughed. "Are you kidding? I'm bringing over whiskey. It'll look like we're having a serious meeting, so nobody will bother us, but really, we're just gonna get loaded."
I guess I'm starting to get the hang of this after all.
Thursday, 04 November
So, that happened.
It won't be surprising to learn that, being an actor, I hang out with artsy folks. Nor should it be surprising to learn that, as artsy folks, they are all incredibly bummed out about the election results. I went to a birthday party tonight, but it was more like a dirge festival. Everyone feels fucked, burnt and betrayed in my circle of pals.
Me, I took the day off on Wednesday, mainly because I wanted to drink heavily on Tuesday night, no matter what. And I did. After the results came in, I told the wife, "You know, I don't think I'm going to stop drinking now, ever." She expressed her displeasure at this idea, to which I responded by making a drink. We're all going to have to live through the next four years one way or the other, and I figure that I'm not going to make it unless I drink heavily, constantly. The wife may disapprove, but then again, I'll be drinking.
The nation has spoken--perhaps we should drink more--and there's nothing to be done. And that's actually fine. As I've told some friends already, I'm not even necessarily bummed that Kerry lost (though I am a bit), mainly because the next four years are going to be such a gruesome catastrophe, such a numbing fuckaround, such a witless bunch of fucking horrors, and I'm A-OK with letting the GOP take the fall for it. Don't get me wrong: I don't want our country to devolve into the laughless joke it seems to be shooting for. It just will no matter what I think.
Ah, lord . . . it's easy to bring out the invective and the outrage. It's too easy, particularly when one feels righteous. But everyone feels righteous, otherwise nothing would ever get done. Hell, I lived through two Reagan terms and another term from a different Bush and lived, and those horrific bastards made me jellykneed practically daily. (There's that easy invective again.) I'll come through this OK.
I've deleted five different endings to this. There are no good endings one way or another. Hell, I probably hate you. Or you might hate me. It seems likely.
Can I buy you a drink?
Tuesday, 02 November
Making A Difference
As diligent readers of this site well know, I'm nothing if not a fucking stickler for hard reportage. With this in mind, I went out this evening for some choice "man on the street" quotes from people just like you . . . that is, crazy, frothing voters. Some of whom may actually vote.
Skot: Here we are out on First Avenue in Seattle, taking down some of what people are thinking on the eve of the election. Sir, may I trouble you for a moment of your time?
Calm Voter: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH! AAAAAAAHHHH!
Skot: Hey, this one can't wait! Sir, may I ask who is getting your support tomorrow?
Skot: I see.
CV: SHOGGOTH! SHOGGOTH RISES! SMOOTHLY! HE SMELLS OF COD!
Skot: So that's a vote for Mr. Kerry.
Skot: Things are lively down here on the street, folks! I'm moving now over to another fellow . . . sir? Sir, if you have a minute, I'd love to hear about how you plan on voting tomorrow.
Firmly Decided Voter: Well, I have to confess . . . I'm still kind of on the fence. I'm not sure who I like at this point.
FDV: But I'm leaning towards Benzene Ring.
Skot: I'm sorry?
FDV: Benzene Ring. It's really a very elegant chemical structure. That Kekule fella sure knew his shit.
Skot: Sir, you can't say "shit" on TV.
FDV: Oh, are we on TV?
Skot: God, no. I'm just saying. We're on the internet.
FDV: The internet? Christ hell, man, then I can do whatever I want! Let me show you my dinger! It looks like driftwood, only pink! Well, mostly pink.
(A brief, unpleasant scuffle ensues.)
Skot: Okay, back to business. Hello, miss? Would you mind sharing your thoughts on tomorrow's election?
Thoughtful Voter: Well, I hope those cocksuckers all die in fire.
Skot: Ah . . . and you are referring to . . . ?
TV: That guy. With the tumor on top of his neck.
TV: That's the one.
Skot: He's not even on most ballots.
TV: Really? Oh, Lord, that's a relief.
Skot: So, knowing that, who do you plan on voting for now?
TV: Oh, I don't vote. I think our babysitter does. I'll ask her.
Skot: Thank you. We've got time for one more. Ma'am?
Sensible Voter: Yes, sir?
Skot: May I ask you who you plan on casting your ballot for tomorrow? It's for a stupid website.
SV: I'm proud to say that I'll be voting for Eric Stoltz and Digable Planets tomorrow. This country needs change, and I'll be fucked right in my angry asshole if you can't tell me that Stoltz and DP aren't change.
Skot: You, ma'am, are the finest patriot this country has ever seen.
SV: I know that, you fuckin' little weirdo. Jesus, you're a creepy man. Get out of my way. I'm buying arugula here.
Tape ends here. Don't forget to vote.