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Monday, 29 August
Mario, Mario (Sung To The Tune Of "Radio Radio")

Friday night, the wife and I attended a wee party--a friend of mine from an exotic country called Kah-Nah-Dah was visiting (superhero enthusiasts will recognize this as the home country of T'challa, the Black Panther), and so a small group of us gathered at our friends' house out in Wallingford, mainly to drink and play video games.

You can see where this is going. House! Of! Geeks! Or, if Rob Zombie were directing a film about it, House of 1000 2 Geeks.

Aw, I don't mean anything by it. I'm kind of a geek. Or, rather, I would be if I were much smarter than I actually am. What do you call a geek who isn't very bright and in particular knows nothing about computers? I need to know. How about "pud"? In the house of geeks, the pud had come to drink.

I brought my WORLD FAMOUS Bloody Mary mix, which, I'm sad to say, I did not do a bang-up job with--I made it a little too spicy, as I was rushing myself when preparing it. However, the geeks were gracious about drinking them, which made my pud heart warm.

They showed me their geek accoutrements, such as a sheet of old promotional stickers for OK Cola that had been lovingly framed. Internet cables snaked orangely across the floor; these connected their computers to a little gadget they had built called the "steal-a-ma-jig," a device that hunts out wifi signals for them to poach on. It points through the blinds of their porch door. I was cautioned not to open the blinds so much that the neighbors could see their steal-a-ma-jig, which made me laugh. "Honey . . . those kids across the street have a rectangle pointed at us!" "Damn. I'm calling the FBI."

The geeks in question, J. and A., are really fine fellows, and I certainly do not mean to run them down. They are actually very much more socially attuned than we have come to think of the average geek. J., for example, claims to have a girlfriend who "goes to school in Nebraska" or some such story, and we all gently let this happy fiction pass unchallenged. Nebraska. Whatever little story gets him through the day. Sure, J.! Nebraska! Third moon of Mars! Whatever!

A. actually does have a girlfriend, a very charming tiny little woman who goes by T. She is also a robot, which A. wouldn't like to learn that everyone knows about, but it's pretty obvious. T. has a black belt, for instance, but steadfastly refuses to kick A.'s face around the room, no matter how much we all beg her, which clearly indicates some sort of programming constraint. I mean, I wish A. would just be comfortable enough to admit he built a combat robot girlfriend, but until he is, we just have to be good enough friends to let him pretend otherwise.

Anyway, it was a nice leisurely evening, and after a few drinks, we settled around the warm light of the TV screen and played us some Mario Kart. We were here joined by J. and P., a couple of other nice geeks who took extreme pleasure in kicking the everloving shit out of the wife and I at this weird game. J. and P. are both computer beasts; J. recently accepted some new position at some horrid company dedicated to ruining our lives, and P. is another computer beast who recently quit his job and subsists only on the lichens that grow in his bathroom, so there was some tension in the room.

Anyway. Mario Kart is a deeply weird racing game--to be honest, I'm not sure Mario even shows up in the fucking thing--where you race your choice of weirdmobiles around fantastic tracks throwing all sorts of nonsense ordnance at the other racers. The characters are a baffling mix of princesses, dancing tuxedoed men and what seemed to me like various tubers, and as you race along, you fling things like seashells and baskets of dead fish at one another until, inevitably, at the end, I lose. For a while, the others took great joy in watching me lose, by vast margins, but after a while, you could tell that they were getting a little irritated waiting for me to laboriously complete a course that they had finished half an hour ago. I devised a little death-howl to amuse them every time I drove my car off the track into the sea or into some nameless void--AAAAAAIIIIIIIIEE!!--but that quickly palled after they noticed that I did this approximately every ten seconds or so. Then they pulled out a game cartridge labeled "Mario Autopsy Derby," and the wife and I decided that we'd had it--especially after the Bloody Marys.

And really, there you have it. We did have a very good time, for a couple of lowly puds. One day I hope to finally achieve geek status. Don't get me wrong--I surely do love my wife. But it would be killer to have one of those combat robot girlfriends. I guess that's not very realistic. Pretty Nebraska, you know?

Friday, 26 August
Saturday Morning's All Right For Fighting

FUDD CALLS FOR "ASSASSINATION" OF BUGS BUNNY

In a media conference today, noted outdoorsman Elmer Fudd called for the assassination of noted trickster icon and longtime rival Bugs Bunny.

"We've got the wesouwces," explained Mr. Fudd. "I think we should do it. Mr. Bunny has been a continual thweat to many of the things we hold deaw. He is a weading cause of decawwotization. He is a poisonous pwesence in the opera world. And his twack record with the env--env--env--enviwo-env--it's terrible. He has wuniously distuwbed gopher habitats between here and Albuquerque."

Mr. Fudd responded to questions about the utility of the plan, with some reporters voicing the opinion that Mr. Fudd was simply wanting others to do his dirty work for him. "It's twue, I've been tewwible at my job. More often than not, I end up shooting Daffy [Duck]." Ironically, Mr. Duck was at the conference, and called out in response to the remark, "I'll thay!" Mr. Fudd appeared startled by the comment, which caused him to accidentally discharge his shotgun into the audience, catching Mr. Duck full in the face, causing him to become blackened with soot, and his beak to spin about his head comically.

After Mr. Duck had restored his face somewhat, he screamed maniacally at Mr. Fudd, calling him a "stuttering Progeria case." After a heated back-and-forth between the two, with Fudd responding, "Fu-fu-fu-fu-fu -- scwew you!" In time, Mr. Duck angrily transported himself away from the proceedings to the 24th 1/2 century, and order was restored.

Yosemite Sam was also in attendance as a show of support for Mr. Fudd's controversial suggestion. "That carrot-chompin' varmint needs a slug in his goddam brain!" Mr. Sam exhorted. "That there rodent is a thief, is a liar, is a gol-durned menace! We oughta take him out with ex-ta-reeeeme prejudice!" When questioned by the crowd about his ties to the allegedly race-based militia group White Redheads In Sun Trouble (WRIST), Sam commented, "Now that ain't got a dad-banged thing to do with nothin'. Look, all I'm saying is, I got me a fair complection, and I'm out prospectin' in the sun all fuckin' day. I got melanoma three fuckin' times! But does anyone look out for the red-headed white man? No! Least of all that lapine lunatic. That sumbitch just last year got hold of a bag o' my gold. Woulda gotten it back too, if it weren't for that crazy fuckin' duck."

Cosmological menace Marvin the Martian was unable to attend the conference, but did contribute a statement transmitted via a video feed. "While I remain committed to the destruction of your worthless planet, I wholly affirm the need to first and foremost rid ourself of this lapine meddler. I endorse any and all measures that end the creature's life, preferably accompanied by an earth-shattering kaboom."

Mr. Bunny declined to comment on the conference, and his media handler Roadrunner also brushed off questions with a terse "Meep!" followed by the rapid consumption of a bowl of birdseed before somehow speeding off on a false freeway that was only painted onto a cliff face. Wile E. Coyote was also spotted in attendance, looking aggrieved as Roadrunner made his exit.

"Jesus fucking Christ," said Mr. Coyote. "I don't even care any more. I wish everyone would die. I wish you'd die. I haven't eaten in, like, thirty years. What am I, Solzhenitsyn?"

Additional reporting for this story was provided by Chuck Jones.

Tuesday, 23 August
Dr. Guano

On Saturday, the wife said to me: "I want to take you out to dinner!" Well, okay. She wanted to go to the Coastal Kitchen, a nice enough place with a rotating regional menu. Groovy!

Around 6:30 we walked out the door. "It's kind of like we're having a date!" she said. I grunted agreeably, because I'M ALL MAN or whatever. I grabbed her hand, and we walked happily in the beautiful evening.

A couple blocks later, a bird shit all over me.

Blap! Blop! Blup! I felt something fall onto my back, and I stopped in my tracks. "Did a fucking bird shit all over me?" I yelled, drawing yet again on my inexhaustible reservoir of Duh. I presented my befouled back to the wife as if in accusation. "Oh baby!" she cried, confirming the obvious. In no time at all, she started to scrape the crap from my shirt with, I think, a magazine subscription card.

I of course handled the whole thing really poorly. As she scraped away, I snarled, "Well, I'm not wearing this fucking thing the whole night," and stomped off back home to go change my t-shirt. The wife trailed behind me, silently, because for one, I'm an asshole with a temper, and two, what can you possibly say to someone who has just been shat upon by another member of the animal kingdom?

"It was just a bird. Rise above the avian hijinx, mammal!"

"I think that G.G. Allin liked to cover himself in birdshit. I think it looks cool."

"You know, proponents of the Many Worlds theory of physics would tell you that there are an infinite number of universes where a bird didn't crap on you." (There are also an infinite number of universes where I don't recycle this joke, but sadly for you, reader, this isn't one of them.)

Yeah, no. Anyway, after a bit of a scrub and a change of shirt, we re-embarked on our date night, and after a minor trek, arrived at the Coastal Kitchen, where we discovered that the newest menu featured Puerto Rican cuisine.

I didn't feel up to Pulled Eel and the wife wasn't too down with Braised Trake, so we ordered some safer stuff, and at the same time ordered some drinks. There was another table right next to us as well, with a couple of oldsters: in fact, I had full view of them in the opposing seat, while the wife had her back to them. They had me a little concerned.

Specifically, the guy, who was facing me. He did not look good, and seemed to be hanging onto the table as if it were Mother Russia. He had an alarming pallor, making him look like he were constructed from fungal rice paper, and he was sweating. A lot. Presently, he began drooling as he clung to the tabletop, and I am ashamed to say that I felt kind of disgusted--Gosh, I wish people wouldn't drool!--nice. And then he pitched over in his seat with a terrible clatter.

See, he was having a stroke.

KA-BLONK! He went down like a sack of sand. "Did that guy just fucking keel over?" I senselessly asked the wife. I pulled out my cell phone, but the geezer's dinner companion seemed not at all concerned, and waved us off. "I think he's tired," she explained. Tired? This looked a lot like a fucking stroke to me. My thumb twitched itchily over the cell keys. But by now the waitstaff were grouping. The guy's dinner companion vaguely explained, "Well, he just got released by the hospital this morning." And she launched into an incomprehensible account of their failure to obtain the guy's medication. "Why was he in the hospital?" we cried.

"He had a stroke." Jesus God.

Eventually the paramedics were called, but not by me: Being me, I actually listened to the crazy fucking bat with her "Aw, he's just tired" routine--she was stacking her leftovers into styrofoam containers while the guy was struggling to sit up--she periodically turned to us, at the next table, and made some "What can you do?" shrugs.

They hauled him out on a gurney, right about when our entrees showed up. We poked at our food gloomily. I stared hopelessly at my martini, which had just arrived sans olive, thanks to all the what-the-hell. I did not make an issue of it.

Is it awful of me to say that I kept wondering if they should have offered us a different table? It might be. I kept staring at what my brain insisted on calling the "Death Booth." Not that he died. When he got wheeled away, he looked all right, except for the fact that he seemed to be made of burlap.

I also accused--jokingly--the waitress of foul play. "I've got my eye on this guy," I said, referring to Mr. Stroke. "I'll know it if you slip this guy a mickey like you did the last guy." I got a skeletal laugh, more than I deserved.

I'm surprised that birds don't shit on me every damned day.

Thursday, 18 August
Let's Prejudge More Movies!

Well, the meat of the summer is behind us, and so are all the summer blockbusters. Or at least they thought they were. What happened to War of the Worlds? Spielberg and Cruise, together again! With that awful little blonde child, Dakota Fanning, the one who always makes me wonder why nobody feeds her or lets her sleep! Oh, how the money . . . stopped rolling in!

(I blame Fanning for purely malicious reasons. This consumptive little wench was born in 1994 and already has 18 fucking IMDB entries. She will either flame out and become, if she's very lucky, Drew Barrymore; if very unlucky, oh, Lauren Tewes.)

And who can forget Stealth? Nobody! Because it's impossible to forget an experience you never had. Me, I'm looking forward to seeing this horror on cable, if only to experience lines like this:

Lt. Kara Wade: "Just tell me you love me, you pussy."

HURRAH! Proposed response: "Okay. I love your pussy." Hollywood, I await your calls.

But nothing seemed to die faster than Michael Bay's latest extrusion The Island, which disappeared with such incredible speed and gruesome efficiency that one began to suspect mob involvement. Which is nice to think about: Paulie Walnuts shoving Michael Bay off of a Jersey cliff? MWAH!

What else is lurking in the wings? Let's see.

Four Brothers

Alternate title: Oh, Brother.

Anyone else remembered when John Singleton was hailed as a major new voice in cinema for his didactorama debut Boyz N the Hood? Since then, he's helmed such horrendous insults as the incredibly awful Shaft remake and, God help us all, 2 Fast 2 Furious, which should be included in the annals of Films Titles That Not Only Describe Themselves But Also The Audiences' Reactions. IMDB says that he's signed on to direct a comic book movie, Luke Cage. (Comic book dorks will know this as the name of Power Man, HERO FOR HIRE! His sailient character attributes were: He's really strong, and he's also black.)

I have already mentally rechristened this film as Box Office Leukemia.

As for Four Brothers, all I can say is: is the mom who gets murdered the same actress who killed the Crystalline Entity on ST: TNG? I think it is. That's how excited I am!

The Dukes of Hazzard

I will let forgo commentary on this . . . this object . . . and let some post titles from the IMDB boards speak for me:

"Disgrace"
"The worst."

And, most damning:

"The General Lee's Doors Opened!!!!!!!!!!"

That's ten exclamation points, people! How they have shamed Redneck Nation.

The Transporter 2

Holy Jesus. Why . . . why . . . I mean, what . . . *paces for a while* . . . what the fuck? What? Why would . . . anyone . . . *long pause* . . . WHAT?

FUN FACT! Take a look at IMDB's cast list. 20 entries down you will see the name "Matthew Modine." Yep! There's no character name actually listed, but right on, Matthew! He's right under "Damaris Justamante" and right above "Todd Nasca." Which, I think, is every actor's dream.

The Cave

Clearly, a misogynistic allegory about the horrors of a woman's vagina. This film should be picketed across the country. Did you see the taglines? "Below Heaven is Hell . . . and below Hell is . . . a woman's vagina." That's just rude.

This filmish thing appears to be no different than, say, Alien or Pitch Black or, really, Friday the 13th: it's your standard "Group of dweebs, stuck somewhere, waiting to be killed/eaten/absorbed/converted to Scientology" plot. But, again, look at the cast!

Credited cast:
Cole Hauser .... Jack
Morris Chestnut .... Buchanan
Eddie Cibrian .... Tyler
Rick Ravanello .... Phillip Briggs
Marcel Iures .... Dr. Nicolai
Lena Headey .... Katherine
Piper Perabo .... Charlie

Holy cow. Cole Hauser? Piper Perabo? I think I'm rooting for the vagina.

Tuesday, 16 August
Dourif I Had A Hammer

The wife and I got our weekend off to a rip-roaring start on Friday by meeting our friend R. for drinks after work. We do this--let me think--approximately five days out of the week. It's helpful! And therapeutic. We frequently cry in each other's company: for example, on that day, I broke down weeping as I clutched my Sapphire martini. "Oh, God!" I wailed. "This really isn't very dry!"

R.--who I should point out actually works for the wife--had similar grief issues. "You scag!" he screamed (we don't judge during our sessions). "Why must you withhold praise?" The wife put a calming arm around his shoulders, and murmured, "It's only because you don't deserve it. And you steal. You steal everything. Yesterday you stole my car. The cops picked you up in Ballard." R. wailed with remorse. "I'm sorry! The plasma center won't let me in any more!" he cried.

You can see why we all needed a calming drink after a tough week.

But not as much calming as we needed after the wife and I decided to watch Bride of Chucky on cable that evening. Here is a brief transcript of how this came to be.

(Skot is surfing the cable menu looking for, Jesus, anything. He passes by the Travel Channel special called, If You're Not Young, Beautiful and Rich, I Guess You Could Always Die, and something on the Food Network with Bobby Flay, who, having barbecued every other possible thing on the planet, is planning to shove his gorgeous cock into red-hot coals and then have co-eds rapturously lick his perfectly scorched member while the house band plays "I'm Burnin' For You.")

(Anyway. Skot eventually hits Starz or something. He sees the title Bride of Chucky.)

Skot: BRIDE! OF! CHUCKY!

(Skot raises his arms in some sort of puzzling victory salute. The wife looks vaguely defeated.)

Wife: Whatever.

Skot: BRIDE! OF! CHUCKY!

(The wife here gives a sigh and goes to make something that contains a lot of gin. She then spends several minutes spinning her wedding band on her finger and glaring at it, for some reason. I assume it is out of purest love.)

Bride of Chucky is the work of my man Ronny Yu, who has also includes in his oeuvre the indelible Freddy Vs. Jason, a movie so spectacularly wonderful that it featured one horny slut beating another horny slut to death with a hippie in a sleeping bag. BoC is hardly less exacting in its pursuit of the utterly surreal, and includes among its wonders the spectacle of John Ritter taking a faceful of carpenter's nails into his face and, defying all jaws not to precipitously drop, a particularly unbelievable scene involving puppet sex between Chucky and his indecorous puppet bride Tiffany. I should note that this scene wantonly includes shots of naked puppet ass and puppet French kissing.

The movie is completely fucking deranged on almost every level, of course. Always the voice of Chucky, poor Brad Dourif is yet again called in: you never know when this guy will turn up. Mississippi Burning? Aw, he's a racist! Exorcist 3? Aw, he's the devil! Alien: Resurrection? Aw, he's an evil scientist! Voyager? Aw, he's an amoral murderer! But he's still my stuttering Billy Bibbit from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest! Every movie I see him in (or hear him in), I still kind of hope that Jack Nicholson shows up with a kindly whore for him to fuck.

Oh, and there's also Jennifer Tilly around somewhere, whose chief role is to simply always nearly fall out of her shirt. Not to get all sexist or anything, but it wasn't that long ago that horror movie rules simply dictated that at some point, one of the gals (probably the slut) yanked off her top? Why else was Jennifer Tilly created if not to take off her shirt? I don't think it was for her incisive political analysis. Anyway, I don't want to be a neanderthal about this either. I'm just saying: let's get horror movies back to where they belong, which is to say, as completely prurient endeavors. I am totally happy to stipulate that if Jennifer Tilly is in the movie, then she should spend almost all of it naked. And to provide balance, let's say that they also have to get, I don't know, Josh Hartnett as well, to hang out the whole time with no pants. I can live with that.

"Jesus. Check out Tilly's rack."

"Yeah. And check out Hartnett's dong."

(Long pause.)

I really think that this sort of strategy could bring a lot of people together on some common ground. Plus, we'd see a lot of tits and dongs. IT'S WIN-WIN, PEOPLE!

Oh, and on Saturday night we attended a simply huge theater party that marked the dissolution of one of Seattle's longest-lived and most respected sketch comedy groups, Bald Faced Lie. They are very amicably breaking up after many years of brilliant service: I once had the honor to work with them on a show they produced; at least two of them I count as among my very best friends in the world. They will be missed. It was quite a gala, and I think that practically every Seattle actor I've ever met was in attendance: the admonishment not to take drinks out into the alley was quickly and overwhelmingly ignored.

An awful lot of people that night that I spoke to mentioned my dumb blog, saying that they read it all the time, which, as always, made me happy and embarrassed: I am really lousy at taking compliments. (Criticisms I can handle: my friend C. said, "You're too wordy!" To which I thought, "Well . . . yeah, I sure am.") Anyway, it was all very sweet (except for C., and C.? Suck it! Look at me being all wordy again! Ah, you're not even reading.) and I wanted to send all the kind folks a message, so here it is:

JESUS CHRIST, GET BACK TO WORK! YOU'RE RUINING THE ECONOMY!

Thank you.

Thursday, 11 August
Whiskey Mango Fox Trot

Last night the wife and I went with a couple friends to a new-ish restaurant on Capitol Hill called Chez Gaudy. (Yeah--lousy name.) Opened by the same people who do the Bleu Bistro up on Broadway, it hews to similar themes: both took tiny little cramped spaces and turned them into charming little labyrinthine warrens with tables littered everywhere in bizarre nooks and occasionally limb-stretching niches. These restaurants basically look like shaped detonations of gypsy caravans, but in a good way.

Why were we going there? Well, we like Bleu well enough, despite the fact that it is vegetarian--we are certainly not, but hey, if it's good food, well, so what?--and were interested to see what their new venture was like, but honestly? Here's the deal. On Tuesdays, they serve "small plates:" many of them you grab yourself from a buffet, which lists prices for all the little cold plates of cheese, tapenade, whatever. And then they also have the waitstaff circulate periodically with large trays of hot dishes, like gorgonzola pasta with "meat"balls, scallops, shit like that. And you pick what you like. AND they had chicken or veggie fajitas made to order. It's all very loose. But the BIG thing about Tuesdays, apart from the grab-'n-eat atmosphere? (Other days of the week are normal, in that you get a menu, table service, etc.)

Well, that would be the wine. You see, on Tuesdays, along with the letcher-hair-down anarchic atmosphere, if you are eating there, you can also pick your own wines out from a selection of six. They're right there on a shelf for you! Pick one! There's a corkscrew right on the table, son, so go ahead and open your own fucking bottle! Pour it yourself! Why this weird heresy? Because on Tuesdays, when dining there, each of those bottles of pretty good wine is only six bucks apiece.

Holy crap. And this, my friends, is why we went in the first place. We had to check that out. And it did not disappoint. Happily, neither did the food.

We had made reservations for 7:30, and showed up right on time. The greeter gave us a choice: we could take a cramped-looking table over by a window, or we could wait a little bit for another table that was soon to be cleared--the party was just waiting for the check. It looked much better, so we decided to wait and get some wine.

The wife and our friends K. and S. sat on a sofa by the bar while I went to smoke. When I came back, they hadn't yet secured any wine. Which seemed odd. We're waiting here! Give us drinks! (See, we had not yet cottoned on to the loose-limbed nature of the evening yet.)

Presently, a waiter came bounding over. "How you guys doing?" he exclaimed. S. replied, "We're a little distressed!" A look of vast concern came over his face, and in one fluid motion, he whipped out a tiny stool from somewhere right within reach, and sat down. "Oh no!" he cried. "What the hell is going on?" This was really hilarious. It was like having an on-call therapist. With his own stool! I privately noted that he looked a lot like Dermot Mulroney.

We laughed at this magical display of instant solicitousness. S. said, "Well, we're waiting for a table, and we'd like some wine!" "Ohhhh," he said. "Nobody explained how we work on Tuesdays?" We did not. And he laid it all out: Tuesdays they just open everything up and if the customer wants something or other, they just go up to someone and ask for it. Or grab it off the buffet, or the wine shelf. "Tuesdays are my favorites for this, because we just get to chat with everyone." And then he apologized profusely that that hadn't been made clear, and immediately ran to get us a bottle of wine, which he opened and said, "Sorry again. This bottle is on me."

What a guy. In my mind, his tip just got a lot fatter. He set the bottle down on the table with a grin. "Now that you guys know how we work on Tuesdays--" I cut him off, knowing where he was going. "--I'll just go ahead and pour this wine my damn self." He beamed and then split.

Ten minutes later, he reappeared. "Sorry about the table, you guys." He sat down again on the magical manifestation of the invisible stool. "We're trying to get those people the hell out of here." Heh. We asked about himself, as he clearly felt like shooting the shit, but not in an imposing way. He was just so affable. We asked him a little about himself, and he said that prior to bartending and waiting tables, he was a dance instructor for seven years. This caught the ear of some other people sharing our couch. "Do a Fox Trot!" one gal yelled. He immediately obliged, and then proceeded to give everyone a short history on the origin of that particular dance. It was, again, great. Emboldened, the gal yelled again. "Do the Charleston!" His reaction here was priceless. "Nah," he said, flapping his arms a little before strolling off to talk to other tables. Somehow, he was even charming when he was being dismissive. I want this guy to always wait on me.

Anyway. We got our table eventually, and began eating. Like I said, the food did not disappoint at all: the always alarmingly-named "pub cheese" was a dreadful Jack-O-Lantern orange color, but spectacular when spread on the complimentary bread--just the right amount of horseradish in there. We gnawed on silky, creamy gouda accompanied by figs. We dug into--tentatively--a vegetarian "meatball," and found it, improbably, to be really excellent. (As a dedicated carnivore, I am always wary of these impostors dressed up in meat clothes, but golly, it was delicious.)

And polished off two bottles of nice (not great, but COME ON) wine for--did I mention?--six dollars apiece. We would have had more, but S. is not so much a wine drinker. She finished off her dinner with some chocolate cake and a gin fizz while I enjoyed a shot of Bushmills, and ladies and gentlemen: this was a pour and then some. You have to respect a place where a whiskey pour is something like a five-count. The wife enjoyed a tremendous glass of coffee, and we sat around gurgling like whales in a krill garden.

Before we left, Der-Not Mulroney once again burst over to us. "Is my favorite table leaving?" he said. Yet again, that he managed to make this sound not creepy or lame or anything spoke volumes. We looked around.

"Oh, yeah," we said.

Tuesday, 09 August
Better Man

Tomorrow morning at work, I have on my schedule a two-hour meeting to address "harrassment and discrimination" issues in the workplace. There's been a lot of grumbling about this by my co-workers--it's mandatory for everyone, and another is being held on Thursday for those who cannot attend tomorrow--but I think it's great.

Because I suck at these things. Really. I'm just terrible. I seriously have a lot to learn.

You should just see my try to harrass--it's pretty embarrassing. Take the other day, when one of the broads came into my office to ask me something . . . I don't know what. To be honest, I was checking out her gams. Then I realized she had stopped talking and was waiting for an answer. I stammered, "Hey, uh, boy, those go all the way up, huh?" She stared at me. "Your legs. I mean. Hey, are those nude hose you're wearing?" I mean, I was nervous, but I was trying. This harrassment stuff isn't as easy as TV makes it look. She didn't say anything, so I took another stab. "You're the kind of gal that I'd like to bang like a trailer door, is all I'm saying." Which I thought was pretty good! But wouldn't you know it, next thing I know, I'm screwing her in the room where we keep extra pens. I can't do anything right.

I'm no better with the guys, which is kind of weird too, since they're pretty stupid around here anyway. I told this one dude the other day, "Pretty gay shoes you've got there, Warren, but at least they distract from your weird beanie." Warren laughed and explained that the beanie was a yarmulke, and that made me laugh--I said, "Dude, you're confused. Yamaha makes bikes and lawnmowers." Well, he gave me chapter and verse on the whole beanie thing, and explained about the crazy holy holidays and stuff, and I was all like, "Holy Holidays? Holy cow!" Which I thought was pretty funny--funnier than that weird thing he talked about called "Overpass" or whatever . . . I guess those people really enjoy their transportation engineering.

Anyway, the whole point is, I was trying to discriminate like hell during the conversation, and it just wouldn't take. Later on after work he bought me some beers and we had a pretty good conversation about the immigrant hordes who want our American janitorial jobs and stuff, and wouldn't you know it? I ended up fucking that guy too. Jeez! I must have been pretty drunk . . . I didn't really remember much anyway, and I told him I'd never do that normally, and made him swear on his magic beanie that he wouldn't tell anyone.

Boy, that's all I need is for big-tit Luskaya to hear about that one. She'd broadcast it to the whole office! I think she's kind of possessive. A couple weeks ago, after I had tacked up a "Girls of the PBA" nudie bowling calendar in my office, she knobbed me but good in the bathroom that got boarded up in '87 for health reasons (you can totally still get in there, and the rats aren't that big). I told her afterwards that I couldn't ever be down with a lazy Russian broad, but she just slapped my cheeks lightly and exclaimed, "You silly, you! You are all mine, like discount bread from GUM." And I didn't say anything, because, man, those boobs. I told her, "Man . . . those boobs." And she just smiled.

You see? I try. And I just suck at this. I'm really hoping for some advice tomorrow. I could obviously use it.

Friday, 05 August
I Have Lofty Goals

At around 9:00 this morning, sitting in my office, I had a revelation. A revelation that left me breathless with its profundity, its uniqueness. It hit me like a thunderbolt, but without the burn scars and neurological failure. Surely nobody has ever had this feeling.

Work sucks, I thought, spinning idly in my office chair. I don't feel like going to work any more. I know! Freaky. I am apparently the Immanuel Kant of my age. I sat for a while, wondering at my staggering thoughts, and then I had to take a piss, and some of it dribbled onto my shorts, so that was a bummer. I cheered myself up by thinking that surely Kant occasionally got some piss on his pants at some point during the creation of Critique of Pure Reason. Probably Tommy Locke, too. I'm betting that guy pissed his pants all the time. "Just because I got some piss on my pants this morning," I can hear him saying, "doesn't mean I will get piss on them tomorrow." Fuck yeah! Tommy Locke was the Bret Boone of his age. Just because Boonie hasn't had a homer in three years doesn't mean he won't hit four tomorrow! Even if that means he has to do it against Harold "Aint' Got No Arms" Femelhebber, who pitches for the Bakersfield Sawdust!

These are the things I was thinking about when I decided to take tomorrow off.

What am I going to do tomorrow? Well, I guess the first thing I'll do is get some piss on my pants a little bit. And then I'm going to watch me some TV ads. There's a bumper crop out there! And not just the stale old Vehix ads that I've already complained about, and give me bouts of incontinence. There's newer stuff!

For example, the humiliating ads for Red Roof Inns (whatever the hell those are). They are horrifying and delightful, and look like they were shot in a country whose currency valuation is pegged to Safeway coupons. In one, a fellow is limbo-ing on his hotel bed, and crows, "How low can you go?!" Apparently referring to the relative inexpense of staying at a Red Roof Inn, but only highlighting the relative inexpense of creating the ad itself. In another spot, a fellow is watching TV, and says, "The chances of working tonight are . . . remote." And he holds up a remote control and gives a big fake laugh. It's like watching student films made by the bongmeisters at Delta Rho, and they are about as funny as infected hangnails.

But in the end, you kind of have to laugh, because, come on: Red Roof Inn? I have no problem with cheapo hotels at all, but neither do I expect them to come up with ad magic either.

This brings us to some Coca-Cola ads. They do have money.

Which is why it's so baffling that they're choosing to disinter the old 70s chestnut ad with the hippies who sang "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing"--which became an improbable radio hit song for some group of session musicians who called themselves the New Seekers--only clumsily updating it for our new generation, in the form of an embarrassingly, obviously totally uncool scrubbed group of hilariously non-indie kids. "I'd like to teach the world to chill," sings a guy on a rooftop, who is surrounded by various immaculately groomed mycoteens squatting fungally around him, joining him in his awful paean to HFCS-loaded serum that will one day TAKE OVER THE WORLD, and god help you, Pepsi! We've got the pod-kids on our side!

So that's what I'm doing tomorrow. Better than working, I say. Just sit around, watching ads. And maybe occasionally pissing on my pants.

Beats work.

Wednesday, 03 August
He's Going The Distance

It's been an odd few weeks. Some of my tens of readers have no doubt been wondering, "Why isn't Skot talking about the horrible movies he watches on cable?"

I haven't watched any.

Others may be asking, "Well then, why isn't he unfairly bitching about the horrible new releases that he hasn't seen?"

I don't care right now. This despite the existence of films like Stealth and Must Like Dogs. So something's going on. (I will say that I enjoy pretending that the latter film is actually called Must Eat Dogs, a documentary about speed-eater Kobayashi.)

And still others might think, "I'm kind of bored with my vibrator. I should get a new one." To whom I say: I'm kind of bored with your vibrator too. You know what you should do instead?

You should tune into Game Show Network every night at nine and watch the reruns (every night!) of "The Amazing Race." It's what we do! And it's why we're not watching horrible movies, prejudging horrible movies, and why we're not interested in vibrator retail. GSN is running every season of TAR in order, one episode a night, and boy are we slaves to it.

We are not ones, honestly, to be seduced by reality TV. I confess I had a brief affair with the first season of "Survivor," and I once attempted, in a fit of madness, to deal with "Joe Millionaire"--I lasted about 20 minutes--but apart from these lapses, we have been immune to these unspeakable shows. The formulae are all pretty much the same: amiable throw rugs vs. the Machiavellis, with a few pitiable dolts thrown in for spice. Grrr! We hate the Machiavellis! Go throw rugs! And then sometimes the pitiable dolts fuck a mule or something, just to make things briefly interesting.

I'd like to say that TAR is fundamentally different, but it's really not. The doomed weiners are pretty evident from the very beginning, like, say, old people. Watching Season 2, I had to laugh at the "Gutsy Grandmas," especially when they (distressingly often) complained that they "couldn't run." I agree! Most grandmas cannot run! Which is why they're a perfect choice for entering . . . a race. Who could have imagined that it involved running?

TAR is very skillful in how it arranges the shows, but the Grandmas are a perfect example of how it loads the deck. Of course you have to have the Plucky Old Contestants, lest the producers be accused of agesim. Plus, it fills out the demographics. There are other must-have contestants:

ALPHA MALE + DOORMAT

He screams, she beams. Lovely! This is easily my least favorite aspect of TAR: the creepy freak who goes nuts at every turn, and the gal who loves him. At least with the second season they gave us a variant on this theme with Tara and Will: they're both screamy and intolerable! Will's tactics: threaten to quit the game at every inconvenience; occasionally call Tara a moron. Tara's tactics: behave at every moment as if you're going to fuck the brains out of some other team member. Also, tell Will to shut up.

THE FAGS

Oh, where would TAR be without the gays? In the first season, unpleasantly, the gay team was a couple of loathsome schemers. Embarrassingly, their schemes were usually really stupid and vile, and their arrogance was somewhat overarched by the naked fact that they would usually place very poorly. (It didn't help that they dressed in matching outfits.) The Season 1 gays were just depressing and horrid, and richly deserved the every humiliation they received, which were frequent. Sadly, they were too stupid to realize when these humiliations were actually happening on television.

Season 2 was marginally better, in that the gay couple--they're just friends, you know!--were hilariously entertaining while also being completely blase about the whole game. When other teams were scrambling for . . . I don't know, really . . . these guys would go to the mall. I don't know. They just kind of cracked me up. Particularly when, after an afternoon of FREAKING OUT by the other teams, these guys would laconically show up at some pit stop, wondering what all the fuss was about.

THE GRAY DILAPIDATED PANTHERS

Like I said. Doomed. But aren't they plucky? Or something? No. Doomed.

BEST FRIENDS FOR-EVAR

I'm not saying that all of these people are closet gays, but the show invites the viewer to think so. (Should I sound unclear, I'd like to point out that I don't really give a fuck.) These teams always seem to work extremely well, actually! They always get close to the finish line. And then they don't. Which, if you think about it, is kind of in keeping with what I imagine as a network attitude. "Are those guys fruits?" "I don't think so, boss." "Well, we don't need it one way or the other. Let's back off that angle."

AND FINALLY, THE DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY

Mom and eighteen-year-old girl! Separated parents who may or may not have children! Separated couples trying (or definitively not trying) to rekindle the spark! Gimli and Boromir! Awful. And even more awfully, these teams will always make it into the final run.

Don't be like me. Don't watch this show.

And whatever you do, don't root for Gimli. Have you seen that guy's legs? I think he's gay.

Tuesday, 02 August
Coyote Ugly

And so the parents blew into town this weekend, and much merriment was had. They got in on Thursday evening--I had somehow managed to misunderstand this and thought they were coming in on Friday, and had already made some plans--but it was no trouble, really: they would spend the evening "walking around." I'm an excellent son. I have plans, parents! I know you drove seven hours to get here, but would you mind terribly, oh, I don't know . . . walking around? That would be great.

(No, really, it was fine. They wanted to walk around. Incidentally, my father is having knee surgery later this year, which I think explains a lot about the streaks of utter perversity that I often display.)

So we met up at their hotel and then caught a cab to the Mariners game. (My father, now all but retired, has made it his mission to visit as many stadiums as possible.) I had wrangled some pretty decent seats down off the first base line, and so we settled in happily with some beers. Well, not the wife: she hates American beer. So she instead had a Mike's Hard Lemonade, or, more aptly, Mike's Hard-To-Drink Lemonade; that brine really is fucking ghastly. I mean, yes, there's something vaguely un-American about the idea of serving wine at a ballpark, but is this really the best we can do as the only non-beer option? Couldn't the poor wife get a fucking tequila shooter or something? Anyway, memo to this Mike person: You suck. Please stop, for God's sake.

Naturally, the Mariners got clobbered. By Cleveland. Which really tells you all you need to know about the Mariners this year. They are utterly opposed to favoritism, and will cheerfully lose to simply anyone. My mother asked adorable questions:

"When will the pitchers get to bat?" she asked worriedly. I think she felt that they were being excluded.

"This is the American league, Mom. The pitchers don't hit," I explained.

She looked worried again. "Why not?"

Good question. "Because the American league sucks, Mom."

She was apparently satisfied with that. Probably because all she watches are NL games, and because Dad is a Cubs fan. She's used to horrible nonsense and fatalism.

The game itself, though, was kind of exciting, particularly if you enjoy watching pitcher after pitcher take endless numbers of warm-up pitches: three pitchers were ejected from the game, including the supremely hopeless Shigetoshi Hasegawa, who, clearly disgusted over instantly giving up a home run, immediately plunked the very next batter he saw. The umpire, no dummy, tossed him, much to Shiggy's delight: "Stupid game, awful team, I'm no good. Send me home!"

In the very next inning, Cleveland's pitcher bonked one of our losers--Betancourt? I don't care--and then he got tossed, but not before the benches cleared and the players stood around bristling and not doing anything else. Even the bullpens cleared. I crowed, "Watch out, everyone! Here come the pitchers!" It was like the Invasion of the Trotting Anemic Huns Who Forgot Their Weapons Anyway. The worst damage these guys could do, really, was to threaten to pitch for you.

And then, later, another Cleveland pitcher nailed Ichiro right in the small of his back. BOOOOOOOO! Now, this was clearly a total mistake, a pitch that got away from the guy; retribution had already been had. And obviously the benches knew this too, for they failed to clear this time. No matter: the guy got tossed too, because, you know, you gotta. We stared frostily yet again as some anonymous clam got rolled out of the bullpen and threw for fifteen minutes. I went for another round of beers and Mike's Undrinkable Superfund Tailing Pond Insult.

The next night (can you guess what my parents did during the day? "We walked around.") we went to one of our favorite restaurants, a tapas joint called the Harvest Vine. As usual, they did not disappoint, and we leapt like animals onto the small plates of ridiculously good food: tomato salad dressed in a simple vinaigrette, sea salt and parsley; cheese plates; olive plates; meat plates; rib plates . . . you see what I mean. The tomato salad prompted my father to declare, "We're doing that again." Pause. "That and some more blue cheese." Pause. "We're going to need more wine." Indeed.

Then, at one point, he told us a good supper story, which I'll try to recreate here, but I'm not sure I can do it justice. This was a story from the bad old times, his wild days when he and my mother were young and crazy and all that.

It seems that he was at a party, and it was hosted by one of his crazy friends who, in his spare time, did some hunting. One of the things he hunted was coyotes. (Back in the day, I know that certain counties or cities would pay bounties for coyote skins, as they were regarded basically as pesty scavenger dogs, barely above vermin.)

At this party was a vastly unpleasant woman: she was making everyone angry, and in general just being a pain in the ass. So while she was distracted (and presumably irritating people), a plan was hatched: the host, with my father's help, fetched a coyote carcass. But not just any old dead coyote . . . this one had been skinned. Now, I don't know if you've ever seen anything skinned up close and personal, but I know from watching my father skin elk and deer when I was a kid, but it ain't pretty. Bulging eyes starting from naked sockets, a horrible profusion of exposed teeth, awful blue arteries tracing the whole pink terrain of exposed skin . . . it's fucking horrible.

They took this awful specimen and put it in the woman's car, in the driver's seat. In what is easily my favorite touch of the whole prank, they also carefully positioned the dead thing's paws right on the steering wheel, so the horrendous dog-corpse appeared to be some ghoulish canine chauffeur, all set for a midnight ride straight to Pandemonium. Then they simply waited, and of course the time came for her to leave. My father and his co-conspirators watched from the bushes as she approached the car, and opened the door.

Now, it's bad enough to open your car door and find, like, some unexpected dude just sitting there grinning, or whacking off, or playing whist, or whatever. But when she opened the door, what she saw was some EC Comics vision straight from the Pits of Beyond: a denuded, pink musculature of vaguely canine aspect, with prominent staring eyeballs and far too many teeth; its paws in an obscene mockery of helpfulness, perched at ten-and-two on the steering wheel, waiting to drive her straight up the Devil's rectum.

She screamed like a scalded harpy and dashed off into the night. It took them twenty minutes to find her. In the meantime, others of course removed the horrible evidence from her car and cleaned out the front seat. When she shakingly returned to the scene of the crime, she was assured that she must have gotten a hold of some terrible shit to have seen such things, but look: it's all fine now! It must have been in her head.

This is what passes for dinner conversation in my family. I laughed and laughed and laughed. (And by the way, my mother, who does not lie, vouches for this story.) What would I do to have stories like that? Just about anything. I'd take a pitch right in the small of my back. I'd drink a Mike's Date Rape Special. Or hell, maybe I'd just walk around.










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