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Thursday, 28 April
We All Fall Down

My friends, I have seen the future of horror cinema, and strangely enough, it's arriving not on the silver screen, but rather right through your humble television set.

I have not actually seen the movie yet. I do not need to. I have seen the advertisements, and even those tiny glimpses into this movie fill my bowels with icy fear; my brain screams for reprieve from the roiling sensations bombarding it; my skin writhes with creeping dread. Just a few 30 second spots have done this to me. They have exhausted me and debilitated me and now it is all I can do to master my shaking hands enough so as to pour my calming whiskey.

It is getting more difficult to sleep since seeing what I have seen.

Do you know this terror? Have you seen? It is coming, and I do not know if I can survive the full gale force of this picture's dark promises. I will tell you:

It is called Riding the Bus with My Sister. From the twisted people at Hallmark's Very Special Cloying Theater That Makes You Want To Die Studios comes this ebon thing, this shambling mass, this abomination: it stars, cruelly, Andie MacDowell, one of our most potently untalented actresses and Rosie O'Donnell, beloved TV personality similarly bereft of any gift for acting. They are sisters, you see, but THERE IS MORE! For Ms. O'Donnell's character is, from what I can only assume from these morbid clips, retarded.

This is really all I need to know, which makes the ads so brilliant and disturbing. (Though I suppose there's some ancillary bus-riding going on in there too, as the title suggests.) We have long been accustomed to the tabula rasa that is MacDowell, and it doesn't appear that she disappoints here either: even in these brief ads, her uselessness shines out from the screen like a beacon of sadness and quelled hopes. (She has been used effectively only once in her career, in sex, lies & videotape, where her implacable blankness was exploited by Soderbergh brilliantly, setting her passivitey against the other firebreathing personas in the film. Or I'm full of shit and he just got really lucky. Whatever.)

But it's Ms. O'Donnell's presence that really commands attention. I have never, ever been . . . what's the word? . . . so destroyed by such tiny glimpses into a performance before. I felt--I feel--crushed, almost oppressed by what I have seen.

Why?

It's hard to explain. These are, after all, only 30 second spots. But even in those fleeting 30 seconds, the humiliation one feels is astonishing. Humiliation for Ms. O'Donnell, humiliation for the art of acting, humiliation for sharing a taxonomic affiliation for the creatures--if they are human--who were responsible for shepherding what I was viewing into the public domain. Every time I see these ads, I want to apologize to . . . well, anything. I go over to my neighbor's and knock on the door, and when they answer, I say, "I am so sorry for Rosie O'Donnell." "What?" they ask, but I do not answer. I am already on my way outside so I can apologize to the curb, a passing dog, and the concept of free will. I apologize to all of them for Rosie O'Donnell.

People will cry, perhaps, that I am unfair in my assessment, that I'm judging a book by it's shabby, lurid, nightmarish cover. I disagree. When a filmmaker (here the director is Angelica Huston) creates something so shattering that even the ads for it are nearly Lovecraftian in their air of suffocating madness, I think a masterpiece has been created. I did say, after all, that I had seen the future of horror. I stand by that statement. This is unquestionably going to be the most sinister and terrifying film of our generation. I challenge everyone out there to see it, to confront it head on. And having lived through it--I'm assuming that some strong-willed people will perhaps actually live through it--then discuss it.

I want to hear all about it. Because I'm not strong enough to see it myself.

Wednesday, 27 April
What Women Don't Want

Back in around 1994, some time after getting over the utter horror of my too-young first marriage and subsequent divorce, I was at some arbitrary point declared by my friend M. to be "ready for dating" again. Which of course filled me with new, fresh horror. It was like being declared "ready for consumption by pit demons."

I mean, I was never good at dating anyway, not that many people are, I suppose, and for those of you who are good at dating, I can only say: You people are fucking freaks. But I was also damaged goods thanks to the divorce, and wary, and regarded most women as, alternatively, divine goddesses to be appreciated from afar, or rapacious harpies interested only in pulling out my tongue and using it as a hacky sack.

Healthy! This boy was sure ready!

But my friend M. was undeterred, and managed somehow to set me up on a semi-blind date with her friend S. (I say semi-blind because I had met S. briefly once with M. when I accompanied M. for drinks with her co-workers, of which S. was one.) So we talked on the phone a couple times, and made plans. As the guy, it was up to me to pick the place and all that crap.

And so we met, for reasons that passeth all understanding, at the Deluxe.

The Deluxe (with a name like "The Deluxe," you know they don't mean it!) is basically just a pub (Wednesdays are Burgeramas! $4.99 [with purchase of beverage!) with pretensions, like a Denny's that had won the Lotto. Not an auspicious venue for ro-mance.

But to her credit, S. did not blanch at the humble surroundings. This despite the fact that, to my dismay, she was wearing a very smart suitlike thing, with a jacket and a skirt; her lipstick matched her outfit, which brought out the highlights in her hair, her eyes sparkled, etc. She was stunning really, but not for any of those reasons mostly. See, her entire outfit was a really shocking shade of salmon-pink, and what I remember thinking was that she looked like a baby's lung in pumps.

I can't imagine her assessment of me was any more charitable. I had arrived in typical mid-90s Seattle garb: faded jeans and t-shirt overlaid by rumpled longsleeve. (I never even bothered trying to deal with flannel. I was about as grunge as Joe Piscopo.) (And actually, that outfit is still pretty much what I wear. When I'm feeling sassy I might wear khakis. Tssss! I'm red hot!)

I'm sure we both knew it was immediately hopeless, but you can't just blurt that out, so we sat down to eat dinner. She had some chicken breast or something, and I ordered a French dip.

Let's stop a minute. Think about that. You're on a date, a first date even, and though you might recognize early on that it's just a put-on for the two of you, you don't want to look like a fucking fool, right? Right? So what should you not order? Hmm, I don't know . . . how about a great big falling-apart sandwich with au jus that will all end up on your shirtfront, in your lap? Brilliant idea! Also, with a big, falling-apart sandwich, you don't even use utensils, so your date has to stare at you the whole time while you're eating like a fucking caveman and salty beef juice is running down your arm and you can't even keep eye contact during the conversation anyway because you keep having to hunch over your plate like a protective ghoul gnawing on a leg bone to keep the roast beef from falling into your lap.

And yet we made a little conversation. Some work stuff, some hobby stuff, that sort of thing. I swerved right away from any music conversation when she mentioned having recently attended some country music concert . . . no reason to go there. At one point she asked me where I grew up.

"Oh, God," I said, rolling my eyes. "I grew up in a really tiny town in Idaho called Grangeville. You've never heard of it."

She perked up, which made me wary. "Idaho! That's pretty country! Was it a farm?"

"No," I said. "It was actually a horse ranch. I mean, we didn't own it, but part of living there was taking care of the horses. I did that a lot when I was a kid."

She was smiling now, and her eyes were sparkling. Naturally, I was still half-wrestling with my obstinate sandwich, so I couldn't really figure out what was going on in her skull. But she was interested . . . in something! I waited.

"So would you say," she asked twinklingly in an odd tone, "that you're . . . kind of a cowboy?" She cocked her head at me coquettishly. Oh my.

This was a fat, lazy pitch, belt high over the middle of the plate, and all I had to do was swing. I thought about my experience with horses: getting thrown off of them, being nearly kicked in the face by them, getting trampled by them (all true!). I thought about cows. Well, I thought, I'm eating one right now! I enjoy them to that extent! If I just shined her on for a bit . . . who knows?

Ahhh. Let's not pretend that this was some test of nobility or anything. It wasn't even really a dilemma of any kind. Who was I ever going to fool, really? It was a dumb, fleeting idea, something barely worthy of a Penthouse Forum letter. ("I never thought this hot broad would buy my cowboy routine, but her heaving 36Cs told another story . . . ")

I put down my floppy sandwich and looked at her. "No, I'm not a cowboy. Not even close." I grinned, maybe a little ruefully, and she grinned back, and we laughed a little. We made some small talk to round out the dinner, and she allowed me a chaste kiss on her cheek at the end of the night. The next day I called her, as a good boy does (making sure to pick a time I knew she wouldn't be home), and on her answering machine thanked her for a lovely evening, and we should do it again sometime, har har har. She did me the good favor of not returning the call.

I saw her again, many times later, though, when I was hanging out with M., and we became, if not friends, then just good acquaintances. And I always found it kind of charming when she'd see me and murmur, "Hey, cowboy."

Tuesday, 26 April
See? Saw.

Hello hello! Sorry it's been longer than usual, but . . . well, fuck "but." I didn't have any motivation for a few days, so I didn't write anything. But now I'm motivated! Sort of! See, the wife and I have watched a bunch of bad movies over the past couple weeks, and I'm anxious to complain about them. If you see a movie title that for some reason you don't want spoiled, skip the section, because I'm going to complain about them in detail. Well, the ones I remember. And the ones I finished watching. Anyway.

As I've mentioned before there are Bad Movies--movies that everyone knows are rotten the very first time you see a trailer, or even hear about it . . . a sequel to XXX? With Ice Cube? A family comedy with former XXX Vin Diesel? These are obviously going to be real gobblers. And then there are the movies that really should be good, and you watch them, and they take a shit on your sneakers, pick your pockets, and run off with your money while you stare at ruined suede.

I Heart Huckabees falls in the latter camp. This "existential comedy," as it is sometimes called, is of course neither: the phrase itself is a pseudointellectual oxymoron, a little in-joke to the audience that signals that it's time to give an arch smile and remember that one time in college that you had to read Nausea and hey, it wasn't funny at all!

Neither is I Heart Huckabees. It is, in fact, far less funny than even Sartre, which is saying something. At least "No Exit" had a nihilistically funny punchline: Hell is other people. In Huckabees, hell is Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin. Other actors in the film like Jude Law and Naomi Watts seem to try to do the sensible thing during all the pallid, miserable clowning going on around them, ducking the metaphysical custard pies flying about, but that just leaves poor targets like Marky Mark, who has no defenses at all against the awful onslaught of the Hofflin, and just seems horribly picked on. At least, that's how it felt at about the 45 minute mark, when we turned off this horrible movie and shot some heroin into our gums.

Nobody should ever see this film.

If you're hungering for a more glossy comedic treatment of repugnant people, you might turn instead towards Sideways, another film by Alexander Payne, a director who is apparently endlessly fascinated with people who are, pretty inarguably, complete shitheads. Lots of my friends really liked Election, a film I found completely cruel and unfunny, so maybe I missed something. Then came About Schmidt, which the wife claims made her sterile. And so along comes Sideways, a cheerful road movie about a couple of never-been losers looking to drink and fuck away a pre-wedding excursion into wine country.

The forthcoming bursts of infidelity are handled with purest unconcern: the director doesn't seem to care, nor do the characters: it's a guy thing, right, to want to get some last-minute sex right before marriage, right? And plus, who cares? The bride is obviously a shallow bitch anyway. Who could possibly condemn this doomed fucker's last wish for some final illicit screwing?

Hmmm. Am I so old-fashioned as to suggest: Anyone?

Look, it's not even that I didn't enjoy the movie for what it offered at the time. It is occasionally amusing, and has some much remarked-upon good performances, etc. etc. It's just another damn movie with some pretty rotten things to say about its characters (and so, us), and it either hopes you don't notice them, or it disingenuously pretends they aren't there in the first place. I leave it to you to decide which is worse.

Getting away from movies that at least take a stab at relevance, we can now move on to the movies that have no pretension at all about being good in the first place. (At least I hope to hell not.)

The Grudge is another one of those Japanese-remake-movies-featuring-yet-again-dead-people-who-will-hassle-you, and also with the little creepy girls, and also with the hot blonde actress that all the teenage boys are praying will take off her shirt, and no, she will not.

Sarah Michelle Gellar is the not-taking-off-shirt gal this time around, and she spends her time mostly gibbering in fear and not taking off her shirt. The most interesting observation I have about this film is that nearly every anemic scarelet to be found somehow revolves around hair. So, if you are endlessly freaked out by . . . hair . . . uh, this one will fuck up your whole world. For the rest of us, this film is about as unnerving as cleaning the bristles of your hairbrush for two hours.

Ocean's Twelve is beneath mention, and has the sneaky rotten tang of Soderbergh cannily filching the studio's millions of dollars so he and his gang of Li'l Rascals could all take a nice European vacation. Oh, and send along Catherine Zeta-Jones! Brad thinks she has a hot ass!

Even further beneath mention--several hundred feet of geological strata beneath it, honestly--is the reprehensible, unwatchable Exorcist: A New Beginning. Or whatever it was called. Poor Stellan Skarsgaard, moping around . . . someplace while . . . uh . . . . horrible things happened.

Look, I'll level with you. The next day, the wife said, "I know I drank a lot of whiskey last night, but I have no idea if we finished that movie." I replied, "I don't either." We came to embrace the theory that our brains were simply driving us to drink in self-defense. "MUST PROTECT SKOT-SHELL! MAKE SKOT-SHELL DRINK TO SAVE BRAIN! NOT CARE THAT LIVER COMPLAINS! EXORCIST MOVIE KILLS US!"

This finally brings us to my last film: the sublime, superb, unassailably magnificent Saw.

Here, finally, was a truly wretched movie; so wretched, in fact, that it was completely enjoyable, and I would recommend it wholeheartedly to deranged afficianados of filmic rottenness like myself in a hot second.

Saw takes approximately no time at all establishing its provenance: it so desperately wants to be Se7en that I wouldn't be surprised if in the DVD extras it featured its director giving a smoking handjob to David Fincher. Like Se7en, (which I really like, to be honest) the film assumes that really inventive depravity is a valid substitute for artistic creativity, and therefore gives us yet another uncatchable psychopath with a knack for ridiculously elaborate murder games, such as crawling through a maze of razor wire, or deactivating a jawbone-ripping bomb-mask. (Really.) What really impresses me about these killers, though, is: Where the fuck do they find all that great warehouse space? And how do they pay the rent?

"So I hear you're interested in our dank condemned building."

"Yeah!"

"Are you a developer?"

"No. I plan on constructing elaborate murder theater involving kidnapped victims."

"I see. And how would you like to pay for the deposit?"

Saw is embarrassing, wonderfully so, on a lot of levels. But mostly, it's the performances, which range from Cary Elwes' jitter-tastic, moan-a-riffic, unconvince-o-matic soprano shrieks to Danny Glover's (oh, Danny) growly rowly "I'm so obsessed I could just sweat!" baritone. Poor Glover looks like the director simply bought him underwear three sizes too tight and then turned the poor bastard loose.

I'd like to say I'm not going to watch this shit any more, but who's kidding who? Of course I will. What else would I write about?

And besides. Sometimes it's fun.

Wednesday, 20 April
Dealbreakers

Here follows what may become a regular feature of IP, a catalogue of unacceptable things. I know I call them "dealbreakers," but that's only because in my mind, I imagine these things--which I'm going to categorize by sense--to be things that, should you enjoy them, would cause me to hate you. This of course is not the case. Even I am not that big of an asshole. (Well, I am, but for a lot of other reasons.) At any rate, take these for the subjective opinions that they are.

Or, for your own amusement, use them as an index of how disgusting you are. Either way, I hope that one day we can meet in a conciliatory fashion to discuss these issues, and how you may go about changing your personal habits so as to make the world a slightly less repellent place for me to endure.

TASTE: Sauerkraut

Who doesn't like slimy cabbage? NOT GERMANS! From the same capricious, devil-may-care people who brought us things like obnoxiously expensive luxury cars and Frederich Nietzsche comes this delicious recipe featuring a salad green that almost nobody likes! (Get out of here, Korea.) That people put this stuff on innocent hot dogs somehow makes it worse--and this crime is not mitigated by the fact that people also countenance relish in the same context. Relish is, all on its own, a horrible misdeed. It's just that sauerkraut is infinitely worse. Relish is to sauerkraut as David Caruso is to Carrot Top. There are degrees.

(NOTE: I have German blood. It runs vinegar-thin. And I have cabbage in my bones. This may explain the crackly noises when I stretch.)

TOUCH: Slow shower drains

There are worse things than cleaning hair traps. I mean, it's an icky deal prising out the clumps of jetsam pubes from the catchall, but the smart amongst us do it right before getting in the shower, as you are just about to get clean.

Worse is the shower water that pools around the ankles. I do not know why this is.

It's hardly worse, when you think about it, than taking a bath. Taking a bath is just really making a thin stew of yourself. So why do I get so skeeved out when I feel the shower water collecting around my feet? Why do I uncomfortably dance so; an awkward little two-step where every footplant results in a glum little splash?

And how is this worse than cleaning a hair trap? It shouldn't be. And yet it is. I have often whispered to my sullied feet after such an unrewarding shower: I'm sorry. I will take better care of you.

HEARING: The Offspring

A "friend" of mine recently reminded me of this band's existence, and it was . . . well, completely debilitating. Hoobastank and Sugar Ray at least had the decency, while being completely reprehensible, to just record completely forgettable songs, no matter how much overplay they got. But The Offpring--"Come Out and Play," "Pretty Fly for a White Guy"--manufactured tunes so diabolical that they are all but ineradicable from one's consciousness. One can only hope that they all end up in some Holiday Inn version of hell where they are forced to do covers of Collective Soul songs. (Backing band: Collective Soul.)

OLFACTORY: Office Microwave Chili

Really, this is a tough one. Given my choice, I'd toss the fucking office microwave onto I-5 to be run over by trucks. The smells are unholy: ramen, lasagna, tuna fish . . . it's a Collective Soul of bad odors. It just fucking invades everything. It is the smell of ruin and calamity and everything bad. I someday dream of storing up some quantity of vomit in a jar and then reheating it for all to enjoy. "Don't mind me! Just reheating vomit here! No use wasting partially digested food!"

But I dare not pursue this. We already have "Hot Pockets." Society surely does not need "Hot Vomit."

Maybe.

VISUAL: Hot Vomit.

Don't make me do anything stupid, okay? I'm a man on the edge.

Tuesday, 19 April
The Dark Backward

In college, I was on the booth crew for a production of Lysistrata which happened to use these groovy things called, if memory serves, periaktoi. These were tall triangular dealies set upstage that had different scenes painted on them that could be turned to change settings throughout the play; by cannily rotating them, one could display not only different scenic views, but also artfully arrange them so as to provide entrances and exits for the actors. Very Greek, or something. The stagehands--in Greek dress, of course--whose job it was to manipulate these things were called, inventively, "periaktoi turners."

I will never know how people let themselves be convinced to do these sorts of theater jobs. You get zero stage glory, and are in fact very lucky if the actors bother to notice you at all (unless you fuck up, in which case you will be noticed very quickly). You work the same hours as the rest of the people there, except that your job is boring, menial and mindless. Have you ever heard anyone brag about being a stagehand?

For this show, the stage manager hung out backstage; he was a big football-playin' kind of guy named Greg (he was also an actor, but he was fulfilling part of his degree requirements by stage managing). One of the periaktoi turners was a horribly shy little thing whose name is lost to me now. All I remember was that she was painfully self-conscious about being onstage, particularly in a scant little toga-thing, even though all she did was turn these big dumb things around all night.

One night she went out onstage to do her thing and rotated the periaktos into position, which happened to block her from getting back offstage. Usually, after getting it into position, she would crack a small opening for herself, slip backstage, and then adjust it back to its position. However, on one night, Greg was standing backstage, and from his perspective, noticed the in-position periaktos start to move. It was shy thing trying to slip backstage. But Greg thought, "Uh oh. This thing is slipping." So he put one beefy hand on it to prevent any motion.

Shy thing tried to move it again, but she had no hope of budging Greg, who had a hundred pounds on her and was involved in headset chatter anyway. I saw this all from the booth. She pushed. Nothing. She pushed again. Nothing. Actors were filing onstage, ready to start the scene, and eyed her curiously. She noticed the actors. She knew she wasn't supposed to be there, and there was nowhwere to go: all other exits backstage were being used by the actors. I watched in horror as she turned out full to face the audience, and seemed to crumple under the weight of its collective stare.

She burst into tears and then ran off the stage, up through the audience and out the exit doors, sobbing like a fresh widow.

We were out one periaktoi turner.

Friday, 15 April
Ad Drop

When I watch TV, a big part of it is naturally watching a lot of ads. Which isn't news at all, really, in any sense. Advertising is something that's been with us since the beginning. Courtship is nothing more than an elaborate sort of self-promotion: Seriously, baby, it's in your interest to fuck me. Bad advertising = genetic breakdown lane.

Religion, too: God X is way cooler than God Y. God Y leaves greasy stains on your couch, for God X's sake! Also, I heard that God Y contains emulsifiers. Do you want addititives in your deity? And don't tell anyone, but . . . well . . . the Book of God X? It has some racy parts in the back. It's kind of a secret, you know, but you should check it out. Then have a look at God Y's . . . what? I think it's a pamphlet or something. Cheap card stock, uneven printing. It's just embarrassing.

So if advertising--in whatever form (I know I'm stretching things here, but Jesus, it's just a blog)--is so omnipresent, and has arguably been so for a long, long time . . . why are we so terrible at it still? Why must TV ads be so numbingly ghastly? We've had thousands of years to get this right!

A recent favorite was a truck ad whose tagline ostensibly touted the thing's cargo capacity. On a black screen, in giant white block letters then came the tag:

FEAR NO LOAD

I thought that was astounding, and frankly, really hilarious. I kind of hope some ad exec got that off the cover of a porn video. I honestly think that the porn industry should put billboards up all over Chatsworth in the Valley, just to reassure its nervous starlets. It could have a really nice-looking fellow grinning out at the populace--a nice guy!--with his tumescent cock in hand, and a cheerful lass on her knees giving us a sunny smile and an A-OK sign with her hand, signaling to everyone: She fears no load! Nothing to worry about! It's just like taking out the garbage--not much fun, but after a little wash-up, you're done!

The indefatigable credit card merchants Capital One have been flogging their plastic for quite a while with their "What's in your wallet?" campaign, which is neither the most inspired nor dead stupidest tags ever thought up--it's just boring and staid and slightly annoying. I mean, fuck you what's in my wallet, really. But they had a (apparently, given how long they milked it) successful run with a bunch of thematically identical ads where various schmoes avoided certain death by Mongol hordes, Vikings, C.H.U.D.s, etc., by whipping out a Capital One card at the last minute. Oh, how civilization would be different if only we knew back then what we know now: barbarian conquerors are utterly cowed by low interest rates.

And then Capital One took a left turn. They kept the "What's in your wallet, not that I know you, so this question is kind of intrusive and inappropriate" tag, but the new ads now featured one of the most grating and unappealing personalities to ever achieve celebrity: David Spade. (If you stop and think for even a couple minutes, it's a little astonishing to realize just how much SNL has to answer for.)

In these spots, Spade splints up the legs of his woefully broken one-trick pony yet again to portray a snarky, devil-may-care snotface who routinely tells his callers (all begging for travel considerations or something) "No." The spots all invariably end with the caller threatening to call Capital One, which finally breaks through Spade's veneer, causing him to exclaim, "No!" GET IT?

Leaving aside what you personally think about David Spade--I for one am a complete whimpering wuss, but I do think that even I could be moved to knock his pasty block off--was this a good shift in advertising strategy? Consider: the first spots suggested that the mere aegis of a Capital One card was sufficient to ward off marauding bands of vicious savages. The second round of spots, however, suggested anemically that, eh, if you fail to call Capital One, you might have to deal with an intransigent no-talent douchebag. As if dealing with shitheads on the phone is something new to the public. And what kind of sad boasting is that anyway? We proudly do not hire shitheads! Well, neat, but nobody should hire shitheads! It's hard to give Capital One credit for this.

But really, it's worse than that. Because since all the new spots prominently feature Spade pulling his awful schtick, the opposite effect has been achieved: the viewer now hopelessly associates Spade-as-tormentor with the name Capital One itself (at least I do). Which was entirely the opposite of the inteded effect. So not only has the company (1) abandoned a reasonable (if totally silly) marketing gimmick--with Capital One, nobody will rape and dismember your wife!--they then replaced it with (2) an alternate universe where not only you may be telephonically insulted without reprieve, your wife may also be raped and dismembered by David Spade, especially if you try to call Capital One. It's too late. All it takes is one wrong phone call.

And I don't think Spade cares if she says "No."

Thursday, 14 April
Lies, Lies, Lies, Yeah

This is simply a very abbreviated document of some of the various lies I have told over my current lifespan. I have rated them, and I admit that these ratings are wholly subjective, but I think it's interesting to note the "Flowers for Algernon" arc that they take in terms of how they started out just terminally dumb, then got slightly more sophisticated, and then just got dumb again. Great. I have a bright future.

---

[Youngster]

Father: Did you lock the chicken coop?

(Pause.)

Skot: Yes.

(Several chickens get murdered by animals.)

Rating: 0.1

---

[High School]

Skot: The car was parked at the supermarket. I guess someone ran into it. I didn't see who!

Mom: Really?

Skot: I swear to God!

Mom: Lynn already called to say you ran into her car.

[Silence.]

Rating: 2.0, because it's just so stupid.

---

[Skot and his Girlfriend are, horribly, groping each other in the back of his heroic Chevy Monza, possibly the worst car ever. Girlfriend, it should be noted, is six feet tall. Also, Depeche Mode's Black Celebration is playing, which is great fuck-music, assuming that one has no will to live.]

Skot: Muh!

Girlfriend (helplessly kicking at everything in the car): Fur!

Skot: Lip!

Girlfriend: Uh . . . do you have . . . protection?

(Pause.)

Skot: Yes.

Girlfriend: Oh, good.

(Interminable silence. Finally:)

Girlfriend: You don't.

(Interminable silence. Finally:)

Skot: No.

[End of date. She ended up being caught by her Dad anyway.]

Rating: 2.5, if only for audacity.

---

(College. The Capitol Market was known for its extremely lax ID checks. I was nineteen and trying to buy a case of beer.)

Store guy: Can I see some ID?

Skot: Sure! (I hand him my very real driver's license.)

Store guy: This says you were born in '69.

Skot: (Slight pause, then half-belligerently) Yeah. '69, '79, '87 . . . sounds like twenty-one to me! Do the math!

The guy pondered this bit of horseshit for a moment before ringing me up. It was, perhaps, my finest hour.

Rating: 8.6

---

Skot, to his future wife, God help her: I think you should come home with me.

Future Wife: I'd better not. I'd better go home.

Skot: But it's my birthday!

Rating: This is in the Kelvin range.

---

(Now:)

Friend: I hope you can come see my [awful] show.

Skot: I wouldn't miss it for anything.

(Later.)

Wife: Do you want to go see that awful show?

Skot: I would pay money to miss it.

Wife: Thank God.

Rating: 10.

Tuesday, 12 April
The Revenge Effects Of Denver

So I went to Denver with dire plans to completely bag on the city like I've done before to others . . . but alas, I cannot. I just don't have the heart to do it. Mainly because I only left the hotel one fucking time during my entire stay there. There were a lot of reasons why: a vicious windstorm, for one; intense laziness, for another (room service? Or trudging around an unknown city at night?); and, oh yeah, a fairly packed-in work schedule.

All of which is incredibly boring to even think about, much less write about, so I'll just mention some high points. One was hearing someone use the neologism "dynamical," which caused me to instantly become dyspeptical and stop-listenic.

I've been sitting here about three or four minutes trying to think of another high point, but I've got nothing.

Oh, wait! One night (the one time I left the hotel), a couple co-workers wanted to go out, specifically to the Hard Rock Cafe (NOT MY CHOICE! NOT MY CHOICE!), so we did, but it was a laughable little hole, so we left and went somewhere else that was also terrible. Seriously, this is how exciting it was.

So after all that nothing, I came home, which has been great, except for the really electrifying stomach flu I immediately came down with.

Yes, yesterday morning, I was sleeping happily with the wife, when suddenly at 6:00 AM, I woke up--unusual enough--with an urgent thought: "Say! I'm going to vomit!" And so I ran to the bathroom and did just that, heaving enthusiastically, and thinking, "Wow, this was unexpected." Then I sat on the bathroom floor and sighed for a bit, winded by my exertions, and wondered what the hell that was. Then I was seized by another revelation that rang in my brain: "Wow! I need to get up off this floor and sit on this awful toilet! Right now!" Groaning, I hauled myself up onto the throne and gripped the seat while my ass provided nearly enough thrust to achieve escape velocity.

The whole thing was really unpleasant, even more so, maybe, than it is to read about. Anyway, as I sat there, gastrointestinal turbines screaming, I came to realize something else: "You know . . . I feel terrible! I do believe I'm having chills!" The attendant uncontrollable shaking lent the whole flight-simulator thing some real verisimilitude.

At length, my spasm seemed to subside, and I unsteadily rose to my feet. My mouth tasted, well, like vomit, and I figured fluid replacement was important now, so I took a few sips of water--not gulps, as I figured greedy slurping right now would not be tolerated. I returned to bed.

I lasted maybe ten minutes before dashing back into the bathroom to once again helplessly yell down into my toilet, disgorging the meager tablespoons of water as if it were the worst poison in the world. Then, just to mix things up again, my bowels starting groaning, and I assumed the other position once more, and sat morosely for a while. When I was able to get up again, I was lucky enough to be able to flush and walk two steps away. Then I turned back and spent some time vomiting up nothing; I had nothing, so I just gasped wordlessly at my hated commode, like an outraged fish.

After a while--three or four times--I stopped going back to bed, because there's no reason my wife shouldn't get some fucking sleep. I retired to the couch, and took a few more trips to the bathroom for more of the same, each time trying to take in a few drops of water in the vain hopes that I would keep it down. Or in. Or in the same building. It never worked. I decided I might as well experiment. (The elements of the experiment were obtained by my wife, who purchased them at the store for me after waking up wondering what the gutteral beastlike noises emanating from the bathroom were.)

So began OPERATION: HYDRATION, because I was getting a little worried about the old electrolytes, which are useful for things like thinking and living. I really didn't think anything would stay down better than good old H2O, but fuck it. Plus, puking up water was getting a little dreary, so I could also see if anything was remotely more pleasant to bring up.

Flat 7-UP: Not a success. It lasted only about fifteen minutes. On the other hand, flat 7-UP is pretty much the same flowing either way: sickly sweet. It also had the unfortunate side effect of intensifying the diarrhea. Quite fortunately, I couldn't taste that.

Club Soda: Also not really a success, but longer in the gut. I think it stayed there for about 35 minutes before rushing up. I had also put a bunch of ice into it, so it was very startling to experience really cold vomit zooming up my throat. It felt like an Alpine bullet train.

Gatorade: An unmitigated disaster, not only in terms of time tolerated (around eight minutes), but also in aesthetic terms: it is, under the best of circumstances (whatever those are), really alarming to vomit unearthly neon yellow-green liquid. I wondered if my bile ducts had simply disintegrated under the force of my abdominal attack.

Cranberry Juice: I was really worried about this one, because if yellow-green is an unsettling color to see in one's output, then red is just frightening. I really didn't want to give this stuff up. Plus, for Christ's sake, I was thirsty. It was getting pretty old. But it stayed down, mercifully, though there were a couple nervy moments where my guts rumbled ominously. Fortunately--and there are very few situations where that word is useful in this context--it was only some more by-now routine diarrhea. What a relief.

A final observation: I couldn't help but notice what a nonsmoking aid the stomach flu can be. Not only was I rid of nearly every urge to smoke, the one time I tried resulted in me dashing with shocking velocity to the bathroom to, yes, violently throw up. The shits 'n' pukes also gave me a literally visceral aversion to things like pizza commercials. I hope that one day modern science can use this knowledge to address our country's problem with smoking and processed foods, possibly by giving everyone the stomach flu, forever. Only then, maybe, will we be healthy.

Tuesday, 05 April
There He Goes

Sorry things have been a bit slow lately. Work has been kind of work-ish; and there was the deal last week where my host switched servers, or something; and also our oven died, so there has been wrangling with the landlord, the building manager, and I guess Sears or possibly Kevin's Komplete Cookery, Bookery and Rookery, which I must admit is the finest retail outlet featuring kitchen appliances, rare books and pet ravens that I've ever had the pleasure to visit. So things have been hectic.

I'd like to say that things are going to pick up here, but alas they will not for this week. Part of the workishness is yet another business trip, this time to Denver; I leave tomorrow morning.

I am not excited about Denver. For one thing, it's work. For another thing--I'm sorry--it's Denver. Now I'm sure it is a fine city (I've only been there once when I was a kid), but look: I don't know anyone there, it's way the fuck up in the goddamn ether, and I smoke. So, great, a week of lonely, friendless gasping intermittently broken up by having to attend meetings about cancer. All this in a city a friend of mine once called The City of Quitters: settled by pioneers who got halfway over the fucking Rockies and then said, "Well . . . I fold. This is good enough for me."

Look, I know, that's mean. I just don't much want to go, is all, because it is work, of course, and it's time away from the wife, which also sucks, so I'm just venting. And not to piss off entire portions of the country, but I do feel I have to point out that it probably cannot be worse than my last trip to Kansas City. (I'M SORRY. Apart from some seriously mind-blowing barbecue, KC was probably the most depressing city I've ever visited. It felt like Dante's Wood of Suicides, except there was no plant life anywhere, and everyone I saw looked too enervated to actually mount the initiative to take his or her own life.)

So now that I've insulted two perfectly innocent cities, I'll pay for it by going to hang out in one of them while the wife stays behind to deal with an oven installation, waiting on tenterhooks for Amazon to deliver me some of my stupid comic books and, as I like to imagine, exulting in an empty apartment by rubbing scented oils on her body and dancing naked atop tulip petals spread artfully on our carpet while listening to, let's say, RJD2. (Is it just me? Or do other guys like to think of their girls as turning into strange, wanton harlots in their absence BUT WITHOUT OTHER GUYS. ? Actually, don't answer that.)

So, here I come, Denver, pen in hand. (This is, of course, a lie. As I'm sure most of my posts readily give testimony to, I almost never take notes with the idea of blogging in mind. For that matter, I almost never take notes. I was once caught a few years ago by a colleague who was staring at me during a theater meeting. I was, instead of taking notes about the show, attempting to scribble down a recreation of the logo of the band Ratt.)

I will hang out with my co-workers, and nurses, and doctors, and statisticians, and we will by God hammer out all this shit about cancer. And I will be there to record it. In typography inspired by Ratt.

I'll let you know how it all works out next Monday. Just another meeting, after all. Round and round. What comes around goes around. I'll tell you why:

Dig.










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