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Friday, 30 September
Platform Diving

A while ago, we got this decent-seeming PC pawned off on us by the wife's little brother. We enthusiastically accepted; the decrepit iMac had served us well, but it was time to retire the little bastard. It was, to our PCs-at-work brains, always kind of a pain in the ass to rebrain over whenever we wanted to use it at home. And, of course, there was always the fact that people laughed at it. It was like having a particularly ugly dog. "Get in the closet, Rex! We have company!"

I had a geek friend come over and help me set up the whole thing . . . he set me up with Office XP and a bunch of other shit, including, I think, McAfee Virus Shield or some such. I, naturally, being a dumbfuck, watched and thought, "Hey, a virus shield! This means I will never get a virus."

People sometimes shake their heads and wonder aloud, "Why do these fucking people write these viruses and spyware and crap?" I have concluded that they have all been written for me.

About a week ago, I noticed that the computer was being very sluggish and grumpy. Upon closer examination . . . hey! There are listings in my "Favorites" that I am pretty sure are not our favorites at all. The wife and I are not, despite reports in the media, fans of spycams. And though at least one of us is fond of blow jobs, I am not so crass as to bookmark sites dedicated to them. And . . . hey again! This is not my home page! What is this shady site? I'd better change it back!

But the next time we fired it up . . . it was back to the shady page again.

After mere . . . days, I realized: Holy shit! I have a virus! Or spyware! Or . . . Homepage Alteration Somnambulism! I complained to my geek friends (note always that when I say "geek," it is merely me feeling better about myself by not more accurately referring to them as "people who are smarter than me in pretty much every way") about my woes, and they concluded that yes, shithead, your system is all fucked up. They pointed me to things like AdAware and Spybot, which I dutifully downloaded, glaring all the while at the shitty little McAfee icon, thinking, Boy, you really let me down. My geek friends also exhorted me to FOR GOD'S SAKE, stop using IE! Evidently, though I always somehow dimly knew the truth, I had gone for years being somehow unconvinced that the most dominant browser out there was incredibly vulnerable to malicious teenagers all over the world. Which honestly? Is really unreal. It's as if one were to buy the world's most popular car because it would be weird not to buy that car, and then discover that it doesn't have door locks, and nor does it require a key of any sort, and you are contracutally required to park it in public in the worst neighborhood in the world.

Anyway, I ran AdAware and Spybot dutifully, and they got out their trusty electro-speculums or whatever, and took a good look around the PC's plumbing. "Oh my God!" they screamed in polite little dialog boxes. "You are really fucked. Should we quarantine this . . . sewage?" The programs seemed a little bummed at me. "Uh, sure . . . quarantine it." Whatever that meant. "Great! What do you want to call the quarantine file? We recommend You Are Stupid." I didn't really get this. You're putting this crap in a file? Why? Get it the fuck off my system! "Are you sure you want to purge this horrible garbage? This may lead to partition rot, dll pickles, file dropsy and the Billy Beer Blues."

I wasn't sure about anything, leading to a familiar kind of technical paralysis, where you just start clicking things until they "feel right," ignoring the fact that that's part of what got you into this mess in the first place. The programs became utterly gloomy at my idiocy. "Failed process," I was tersely told at one point, reminding me of my first marriage. "You must restart," I was told a bit later, totally not reminding me of my first marriage.

In the meantime, something else really exciting started up. My Windows security update had completed! And it had some exciting news for me! "YOUR SYSTEM IS INFECTED!" No shit. And then, right before my eyes . . . wow. My desktop changed. It turned an alarming scarlet, and flashed "SPYWARE!" at me. It also helpfully directed me to a site that would ostensibly get rid of this bad juju. I then watched as no less than a dozen new shortcut links popped up onto the desktop, things like ONLINE GAMBLING and, har har, SPYWARE PROTECTION. Oh, and yes, of course, one called BLOW JOB. I immediately--and I knew even when I was doing it that it was just futile--deleted all the shortcuts. And feeling even stupider. The machine was experiencing metastates and hemmohagging from practically every hole. But I was furious. Fuck this! I won't be treated this way! I will fight!

Right about then, IE launched about ten brand new windows all on its own, to skeezy sites like YambaSearch and . . . oh, I don't know. It was like Level 11 of Galaga trying to click those fuckers down. But I did. Then, ten minutes (me still desparately trying to launch system scan after scan) it did it again. I noticed also that my bookmarks had reset to include the same old tired horseshit as before.

The PC was feeling the strain--and remember that I am on dialup at home--and was juddering like an epileptic at Lazer Floyd; the poor fucker would sit for a while mutely, refusing to acknowledge my ever-frantic clicking, me trying to--I don't know--get Task Manager up! Or something! And then after three minutes, Task Manager would come up, finally, and not even notice what processes were going on. "Hey, kill that . . . process!" "What process? Everything looks cool from here, boss! It must be black magic that is causing these incredible usage spikes. Hey, time for my break!"

The final straw came when I heard a nasty rapping on my front door. I opened it, and stared at two toughs in shades wearing cheap suits. "You Skot Kurruk?" one of them rasped. "Who wants to know?" I squeaked. "The internet. You're fucking stupid. You might have gotten the email." I sagged and hung onto the door frame. "What do you want?" I said wearily. "Your dog," the talker replied. "We're here to fuck it to death." The other one chimed in for the first time: "Man, I love fucking dogs. Is it a small dog? Because they are so cute." "The building doesn't allow dogs, you assholes." I tiredly informed them. They seemed crestfallen. The first one finally said, "Well, what a bummer. I guess we'll be on our way then. Hey, thanks for using Internet Explorer! We really appreciate it. Dogs or no dogs. Hey, wait, do you have cats? Because--" I shut the door and went and pulled the plug on the PC.

Enough. My God. I am willing to go ahead and say it: I am clearly too stupid to own a PC. Fine. That's okay. I don't mind. It's a good thing we still had the dreary little iMac sitting here, on which I am composing this. I guess I'm not too stupid for that.

And I guess that means that I can probably manage to get a new machine. Let's say . . . a Mac Mini.

Wednesday, 28 September
That Was A Good Trip, Man

The saga continues! Follow our heroes as they make their way to Cannon Beach! (I'll also try to make this slightly less tonally schizophrenic than the last entry, which seems at some point to have gone completely off the rails. It's probably never a good idea to post a blog entry on the tail end of a vacation while, uh, kind of besotted.)

After sleeping in for an indecent amount of time on Saturday morning, the wife and I clambered into the Purple Snatch-Dazzler and made our way out of town. Well, almost. First we made our way into town, inasmuch as Seaside has actual town, because . . . well . . . see, Seaside has something that not just every city has. Something wonderful. To put it simply: NOTHING SAYS "VACATION DETOUR" LIKE "OUTLET MALL!" AAAAAAAAHHHH!

Eddie Bauer! Liz Claiborne! Uh . . . Totes! Oh, yes, we were pigs at the trough. After an exciting Liz Claiborne visit--where the men's "department" consisted of a rack of ugly belts and some truly unforgivable pants--we sped to Cap'n Bauer's, where I gleefully latched onto athletic socks! (We only use them for sex, people. We just don't feel right doin' the Grunt 'N Shove unless we are both clad in bright white athletic socks.) Then! On to . . . Totes! Look! Cheap umbrellas that will last for one month. We need two!

And some other fucking crap. Finally, the wife decided she needed some new bras, so I stood outside the bra store and smoked--smoking at the mall! I felt like a teenager again, until an actual teenager laughed at me and hit me with his skateboard. Not really. Nor, as a teenager, did I ever smoke at a mall. I am a failure. Anyway!

Finally the wife emerged from the Playtex Compound with a new bra or two. Can I just say? Is there anything sexier than the delicious interplay between the words "Playtex" and "outlet mall"? I don't think so. Boy, it almost makes me want to go suit up in some white athletic socks. I'm not going to give out these sex hints forever, people!

So we eventually did make it to Cannon Beach, all of about seven miles away. (I've actually been there before, but not for many years.) We immediately were entranced by the rustic charms of the setting, and decided quickly to anesthetize those feelings of affection by having a couple drinks. Spying a free outside table, we darted into a place called, God help me, the Driftwood Inn. If I ever open a down-homey place on the Oregon coast, I swear I am going to call it something like the Medical Waste Cabin or Mysterious Jelly on the Beach Saloon or the Kelp 'N Grit.

After a couple glubs, we made our way to the beach to complete our evening of relaxing cliches and, yes, watched the sun go down. (I snark, but this was all of course unbelievably great.) I diddled around hopelessly with the cameraphone, and took some perverse, photon-fucked bad photos of the sunset, and the wife beamed happily. We noted at one point that a couple locals had joined us, and were standing nearby with glasses of wine. They toasted the sunset, and I swear it was even pretty cute.

Then we had dinner at . . . sigh . . . the Driftwood Inn again, because every other joint in town was completely full. Well, the good old Driftwood was actually full too, sort of: the hostess informed us that there would be at least a 45 minute wait. And there were a lot of people there before us waiting already, so I didn't much buy that. "What about the bar?" asked the wife. "Oh, you can eat in there, sure." We walked into the bar and immediately found a table. So those other people? Dumb.

And that was Cannon Beach. I know it doesn't sound like much, but man, it was pretty great. Even though the town would clearly dry up like a mummy without the tourist dollars, it was still very charming and lovely, and yes, we did get to see Haystack Rock, a gigantic rock whose claim to fame is being a gigantic rock. That's one thing you have to love about the Oregon coast: the total innocence. Check out our big fucking rock! Christ! Man, that's a big rock, huh? Hey, you want to eat some taffy? Because it's good taffy, man. Later on, I'll pop some wheelies on my Huffy and you can watch! Being on the Oregon coast is a lot like being in a really charming and enthusiastic commune for a while, but with the difference that you can leave when it starts to grate on you. Also, it's never your turn to go out and weed the beet rows.

We took our time the next day hitting the road, because why? We both took Monday off, so fuck that. We wandered up to Seaside's beachfront aquarium, a scruffy little building that housed all manner of bummed-out marine life in little Plexiglass-fronted tanks. Hey, octopus! You dick! Move around! Change color! Mr. Octopus declined, and maintained his sucker-hold on the window. Hey, eel! Make Abe Vigoda faces at me! And he did, which was so great. They also had a "touching pool," mostly for the kiddies, and say, we should change the name to anything but "touching pool," you know. We laughed at the tots who were busy hassling starfish, who I'm pretty sure are the most-hassled sea animals of all. I don't even think hermit crabs have to put up with as much shit as starfish do.

But the real draw of the tiny place were the seals, a whole passel of them that had been raised in captivity, and now spend their lives competing for the attention of tourists, who for $1 buy little fish chunks to throw at them. They slap their bellies. WHAP WHAP WHAP WHAP! They swim upside-down and give you heartbreaking, imploring looks. THROW ME FISH! They dunk their heads artfully and direct a spray of brine at you. And, if you're really stupid, and stick your hands too far out, they viciously bite you. Sadly, nobody around us on that day took them up on that talent. I wouldn't have minded one of the screaming kids losing a couple fingers to the hungry beasts. But really, the best one was this proudly bewhiskered male who would simply poke his head up out of the water and wail: "YORB! YORB! YORB! YORB!" at the most astonishing, ear-rupturing volume. It was simply the most incredibly appalling, hilarious noise I've ever heard, and I say that as someone who has listened to Diamanda Galas albums. It was also really effective: his howls inevitably produced a hail of fish parts.

And then, after a lunch stop in Astoria--a curiously scuzzy-seeming city; I'm sorry, but maybe that was just the weirdly gray and depressing nonarchitecture and my water glass complete with a lipstick stain--we headed home.

Man, I already miss it all. Particularly the outlet mall. We should have gotten three cheap umbrellas. 'Cause that would have been bumpin'.

Tuesday, 27 September
Holiday? Celebrate?

Well, this whole weekend was just one big fucking disaster. There's no getting around it. We set out for a nice road trip to the Oregon coast to relax, get out of town, get away from work and all . . . and it all ended up in the fucking dumper.

For one thing, the traffic? It was not entertaining at all. Me, when I go on the roade, I want traffic, and lots of it. I want miserable, endless jams, say around Olympia, the kind where I can lean my head out the window and chat with my fellow roadmates. "Hey!" I always like to say, "That sure is an ugly dog you've got!" In this way, I bond with my roadmates. Another one that always prompts good conversation is to mention someone's wife, like, "Whoo-whee! I can smell your wife's nasty business all the way over here! You need some Febreze?" I can't tell you how many times this has opened up a conversation with a stranger on the freeway--"Look at this guy pound on my window!" I like to observe, while the wife cowers.

But on this trip? We got jack shit. Not one time did we even hit a slowdown, and so by traveling, on average, at about 75 mph the entire time, we lost our chance to really engage with some decent folk.

When we got to Seaside and checked into our hotel--a stately establishment dating back at least several months--we noted happily that there were a bunch of school buses parked in the lot. Hey! Our weekend was to be blessed--BLESSED!--with the presence of several dozen young teenagers. And sure enough, our hotel room was directly above the swimming pool, where the delightful youngsters frolicked. Audibly. We rested our heads, that first night, our rapturous heads on our pillows, as the adorable tots below us shat freely into the pool and hit each other over the heads with cheap plastic bongs. (When will our youth discover apple bongs? I ask you.) Sadly, the pool closed at 10:00, forcing the unhappy teens to glumly skateboard on the pavement outside our window, and they bellowed and lowed like wayward buffalo as they clattered along the urban plains. I cheered myself for a while by pitching my butts at them as they skated. (Yes, it was a nonsmoking room, but I AM SUCH A REBEL.)

It was time to go to a bar. We discerningly picked a place called the Bridge Keeper (I think), mostly because, uh, it was closest. The tavern was filled with what seemed to be locals, and they stared at us for a little while, but we fearlessly took a table anyway, because, like I said, it was the closest bar. And we weren't really in any danger anyway, but it's fun to pretend. We got a couple drinks and settled in, and soon enough the terrifying locals all . . . went home, at about midnight or so. Feeling unjustifiably menaced by Oregon coast locals? My suggestion: wait for the witchy hour of midnight, and they all get tired, apparently. We wandered over to the Megatouch game, feeling ballsy, and I'm proud to say we murdered that fucker: we easily toppled the existing trivia champs--named "CUPPAPOOP" and "CORNHOLE"--in the music category, and only narrowly missed taking the top spot in the "Erotic" category, thanks to a question about the motility of pig sperm. Thanks a lot, pig sperm! You suck.

More to come later as I describe the TERRIFYING SPECTACLE that is . . . Cannon Beach, Oregon. Seaside never looked so good. No, seriously . . . Seaside never looks good at all. It mostly looks like an old man in ratty overalls that are stained with gravy. And good luck finding cigarettes! Anywhere! Honestly, Seaside is a pretty dumb town.

Is it as dumb as Cannon Beach? I'll have to think about that.

Thursday, 22 September
Nothing Is Illuminated

I hear the cries. I hear the cries of nobody. Skot! you don't shout. You forgot to tell us what happened over the weekend! I am haunted by these nonexistent shrieks. And to quiet these voices that don't ring in my ears or my comments, I will answer. I will tell you. For a lot happened this last weekend.

By which I mean nothing happened this last weekend. For one thing--one of the reasons nothing happened--was that the wife charitably passed along a gift to me on Saturday: the gift of a sinus infection. Oh how this sinus infection contributed to the nothing! We were, for example, supposed to go to a friend's housewarming party that evening. "Do you feel up to going?" asked the wife. "Doh," I replied. "You should doh." And she dhid. What did I end up doing? Nothing. I was becoming a connoisseur of nothing--though I didn't really know that yet. What did I know? Yeah. Nothing.

When she returned, we decided to find a movie on cable or pay-per-view. What was on? Nothing. Or, to be honest, worse than nothing: we, unbelievably, decided to pay actually money to see the Bruce Willis vehicle (and by "vehicle" I mean "go-kart made of Legos and taffy") Hostage. I think Kevin Pollak was in the movie too, somewhere, but he was also rendered unable to do anything more than nothing.

I'm pretty sure the movie had something to do with hostages. Bruce Willis' nothing family was captured, I remember, and there was something else about Kevin Pollak's family being held hostage . . . I'm pretty sure there were hostages, is what I'm saying. We certainly felt held hostage. "We're being held hostage!" I remember screaming. "Please, let's not say 'hostage' any more!" I howled. Then there was some stuff about hostages, and my dilapidated lymph nodes did a clumsy folk dance in my neck and armpits as the ghastly movie continued its onslaught of Nothing. And hostages. HOSTAGES! Whatever. That word no longer has any meaning to me. It is Nothing. Although it does rhyme with SAUSAGES! Though this too is nothing.

What rhymes with "nothing" anyway? Nothing. This is starting to freak me out. I may be coming apart. I should do something. But what? I ask myself.

And I answer myself. Nothing.

This is getting too elliptical to even deal with. And I have this sinus infection. The good news is, the wife and I are getting the fuck out of town this weekend, taking some time off to go tool around the Oregon coast. It's been a rough couple weeks, work-wise, particularly so for my gal, so something had to be done. It'll be good to get the fuck out of Dodge for even a couple days. I'm looking forward to the trip.

I'm really looking forward to just doing . . . nothing.

Monday, 19 September
Bush Announces Radical New Education Plan

WASHINGTON DC--Speaking from the White House lawn on Monday, President Bush sought to capitalize on the political capital he had previously gained from his much-lauded "No Child Left Behind Act," a bold initiative which was widely met with the profound enragement and staggering hair loss of teachers and education professionals nationwide.

"As you all know," said the President to the press, "I have long believed that no child should be left behind. And I still believe that. But America must do better for its children. Nobody must be allowed to slip through the gaping cracks in the tarmac--tarmac? Is that a word? Sounds like a cheeseburger! Gimme a tar-mac! Heh.--uh, tarmac of our educational system. And there are still children being left behind. Heh. 'Behind.' That's funny."

"And that is why today I am proposing a new initiative: the No Children of the Corn Left Behind Act." The President paused for a moment as the crowd gaped unbelievingly at this statement. Bush, apparently sensing the confusion, assured the crowd, "No, no shit, folks." The press, reassured by the now-familiar profanity from the White House staff, chuckled a bit.

"We've done good by little Davey and young Chuck," continued the President. "But what have we done for little Malachai? What can we do for Isaac Chroner? I say we can do more."

"This is America," the President continued, "and I surely think that there are a lot of adults that can stand to be killed. Entire towns. And folks, I can't do that job myself. We need the children of America, and they need us. Who is going to mercilessly slaughter Linda Hamilton, if not our children? Lord knows I've tried." The line drew appreciative laughter. "And who will kill Peter Horton?" At this point, several hands were raised in the crowd.

When asked who would oversee this new program, Bush replied, "Well, I think that He Who Walks Behind the Rows has been doing a bang-up job so far. He's a man, er, or something, of faith, and I can get behind that. The children really look up to him. And I mean that, because he's like seven fuckin' feet tall."

"I really believe that this Row fella can bring it. Believe me, he can get these kids to really bring him the blood of the outlanders. And believe you me, this little Malachai fellow isn't anything to piss on either. He's got one heck of a future with this group; he can kill us oldsters just as quick as a laundry mangler, that one. Given enough support, I really do believe that one day, a child shall lead them."

Tuesday, 13 September
My Eyes Have Seen

Nothing momentous happened this weekend, I'm sad to say. We did not get, oh, a free car. Nor did we even get a free pizza. We did not get free anything. God curse this unloving universe, where we don't get free stuff all the time! No, we mostly just sat around on our asses.

Please, Skot! Tell us more about this fantasia of a weekend! Well, all right.

You know, there was one remarkable thing we witnessed, something that changed us both forever, the wife and I. It was . . . it was moving and strange and disturbing . . . it was . . . it was . . .

I need to stop here for a second, because the gods of Fake Dramatic Setups are waving brightly colored semaphores at me. Now, I don't speak semaphore, but those flags are really cute as hell, and I'm pretty sure on of them shows a train going off its tracks, so I'm going to derail here for a minute.

Let's talk about Monday Night Football. Now, this show has been--and I stress here that this judgment is by football fan standards--horrible for some time. It has a long, long history of being monumentally intolerable. Don Meredith singing "Turn Out the Lights." Howard Cosell's singular non-epigrammatic style. Dennis Miller's existence. For a long time, MNF has been a complete embarrassment to a sport whose cultural raison was wobbly to begin with.

And now ABC is losing MNF. And it seems we're all going to pay hard.

Tonight I did my usual: I took a long nap for the first half of the game. This is only sensible; prolonged exposure to Al Michaels and John Madden has been linked to goiters. Unfortunately, then I woke up for halftime. Gone was the eternally (though comforting!) Chris Berman and his unbelievably idiotic commentary. What did I get instead?

A music video with Tim McGraw. Awesome. As if the NFL needed further NASCAR-ization.

I like it!
I love it!
I proudly wear a mullet!

This or something like it was tied to a disastrous highlight reel, which fortunately omitted any reference to the abominable Seahawks--presumably Mr. McGraw was unable to find any decent cornpone rhyme for "Hasselbeck." And, in fairness, nor can I. The best I can do is "ghastly fuck," but I might be able to get ten bucks or something by selling that to the Damned as a song title.

But MNF wasn't done. Then--then!--they trotted out Jimmy Kimmel for his sage advice on the state of football. Jimmy Kimmel. Great. Because when you're really in a hole, you should definitely trot out the one guy whose big resume entry reads, "Is marginally funnier than Adam Carolla."

I never thought that I would hunger so viscerally for John Madden to lecture me on "How To Take Care of Your Cankles."

But back to the beginning. I promised you horror and amazement. And so:

We tried to watch M. Night Shyamalanabingbang's The Village. (Alternate names for the auteur: MISTER NIGHT! and M.! The Silent Killer and Mahnahmahnah.)

Nobody should ever try and watch this film. We made it about 45 minutes in before giving up. There are some worthy actors who didn't deserve this kind of shit (Sigourney Weaver, William Hurt), and some who richly did (Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody). Mix and match as you see necessary: In my mind, Phoenix deserves to have this kind of drool-derby etched onto his permanent record (did we not all endure Gladiator?), while perhaps Mr. Brody should get a pass: it is a deeply embarrassing performance, but he's new at this sort of thing.

"Welcome to the Land Without Contractions!" I cried, after hearing the billionth tortured line erupt from some unfortunate mouth. "This movie was written by Yoda," said the wife flatly. After forty minutes of this punishment, we turned on Spider-Man 2.

Can you think of any worse condemnation? I mean, apart from turning on Monday Night Football?

Friday, 09 September
Free Mumia Stuff!

Sunday afternoon, after our final fucking wedding, we rushed home to meet up with the wife's parents for a little bit. They were stopping by on their way to Jazz Alley to see Cleo Lane with some friends, and yes, to answer the same question that was on the lips of every single person we mentioned this to, she is evidently still alive. They took a few moments to show off their new vehicle: a truly stupendous beast-van that looked like a five thousand pound piece of ordnance manufactured by SkyNet.

"Tomorrow it gets fitted with the lift, so we may have to take some of these seats out," Papa said, peering into its cavernous interior. (Mama has some serious mobility issues, and drives an entertaining little cart.) I thought, Gee, it'd be a shame to lose some of these nine hundred seats. The Duke of Gloucester might have to sit at the kid's table. The thing was fucking immense. Papa proceeded to point out the--I'm not kidding here--29-inch plasma TV, the rear seats that folded somehow into an origami bed, the movable command console, the vacuum cleaner . . . it was humiliating to even walk back into our apartment after seeing the fucking thing. Have a seat on our pedestrian couch! Would you like some cheese? What? Your van has its own cheesemaker? I understand.

The other reason they were there was because the wife and I had also made arrangements with them to buy the car they were offloading in favor of the Behemoth: yes, we're finally ditching the wretched Honda in favor of: a 2000 Dodge Neon sedan. It is purple. The fact that this car makes us feel like we're really hitting the big time, automotively, is pretty telling. It's like going to ComicCon 2010 and proudly waving around our Archie mags, screaming, "Have you guys seen this shit? It's blowing my mind!"

The purple car--which I have mentally christened "Grape Ape," but another friend has also called "Grimace" (available as a vanity plate!)--is, I should hardly have to point out, a complete babe magnet, which has the wife plenty worried, especially since I drive at most about one day a week. "Honey, I don't want you getting any strange pussy while you're driving to Safeway for your ear pills, okay?" I cannot give her any assurances. This mother is so sexy that I won't be surprised if chicks run up to it at stoplights and squish their breasts against the windows in some fever of horniness. I pointed this out to the wife, saying, "I can't help it, baby. This baby is tricked out with cooze control." She pointed out that it was actually "cruise control," but I decided to stop listening to her as I contemplated the sinuous aubergine lines of this most snatch-dazzling car.

Wandered off there, didn't I? Anyway. The wife's folks were really putting us through the wringer with the buying of this magnificent machine, what with their insane demands, like, "WE TOTALLY DO NOT INSIST ON A DOWN PAYMENT!" and "JESUS CHRIST, YOU CAN ABSOLUTELY MAKE ANY MONTHLY PAYMENTS YOU FEEL LIKE, UNLESS YOU CAN'T!" Just seriously crazy shit. We had previously agreed on a price of a few thousand bucks, and now it was going sideways. I said in steely tones, "You wait just a minute, Mister Man," slipping as I always do in moments of tension into the Kathy Bates character from Misery. "I don't know if I can go with this cockadoodie plan."

Pappy-in-law stared at me right back. "All right then," he replied. He pushed an envelope towards us. "See if you like this plan better." The wife opened the envelope, trembling. Inside was the title signed over to us, along with a letter indicating that the car was a gift, free of charge. No down payment. No payments at all. It was ours, free and clear. I glanced up. "I don't know if I can go for this, old man." He didn't budge. "You're taking this car--for nothing--as sure as Cleo Lane isn't dead, I think."

I wish I were stronger. I won't go into the nasty details, but after a lot of back-and-forth, I ended up taking the raw deal. We had ourselves a free five-year-old car with barely 30,000 miles on it. I'd just have to live with the fact that I'd been beaten by one of the best.

It's been a strange week in this way. Just last night, the wife and I were too lazy to worry about cooking dinner--probably still demoralized by our complete capitulation to her parents' insane terms over the car--so we ordered some pizza. Forty minutes later, it arrived.

The delivery guy stammered, "This is actually free. We have you guys listed as 'Super Customers' "--I swear that's what he said--"and I don't know how they choose these things, but it's no charge." We stared at him. Finally I piped up. "Did her parents get to you? Does this have to do with Grape Ape?" He moaned quietly. "Grimace?" I kept pressing him. "The Snatch-Wagon?!" I screamed. "Please, mister!" he howled. "I don't know what you're talking about! Please take your free pizza! I'm worried about the crust getting all gluteny!"

I threw him fifty cents and snarled, "You've got tomato sauce on your crotch." He deftly caught the two quarters and mewled, "It's kind of burny on my dinger." I shut the door on the wretch.

Free car. Free pizza. Something's in the wind, and I'm not sure I like the smell. I can only ride this bitch out to the very end. All I can do is ponder over things at the local bar, drink after soothing drink . . . just waiting for someone to pay for them all.

Wednesday, 07 September
Join Together

And so on Friday began PROJECT: DRINK-O-HOL! In which our hero embarked on a mighty weekend full of liver damage. Yea, may he live forever a few more months.

Friday night wasn't really a bachelor party for J. so much as it was a few of his friends taking him to horrible places where he might be forced to vomit. To that end, we started at, God help me, the Outback Steakhouse. I'm still not sure why. And what's worse is, it wasn't even as horrible as you would imagine. I mean, all they do is fry up steaks; it isn't hard. So the worst thing about the evening was really us dipshits making shitty old Aussie jokes in bad accents. "You call that a knoife? THIS is a knoife! Oh, wait, no, that's my poinis." Horrible. And yet after a couple of Foster's piss-brine, it almost became funny.

Then we went bowling. I would never in a million years expect anyone to read any single thing about bowling, so let's just say we went bowling. (Okay, I'll say one thing. Apparently, my technique was identified as "deep lunging," which made me feel sort of like a porn star. URRR! I LUNGE DEEPLY! Okay, tiger, it's just bowling. Time to go home now.)

On Saturday, we had our first wedding of the damn weekend. It was a backyard affair, and our friend J. was up on the mike with a guitar singing, I'm almost positive, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" when we showed up. Awesome! Welcome to our wedding: please do not become victim to a maritime tragedy. Have a scone!

As backyard weddings go, it wasn't all totally horrible. Only slightly horrible. Four speakers were on the schedule, and they gave the usual "We give thanks to the four fucking winds" thing or whatever. "We give thanks to the East!" and all that. This is always basically, "We give thanks to, uh, this tree in our way! Now we give thanks to the little league stadium. It's right past that dog manure. Oh, and we give thanks to the South, which you can see a small bit of if you squint into our bathroom window. That guy is kind of peeing south, I guess. I mean, south is 'down,' right?"

Anyway, I mostly gave thanks to the open keg that was conveniently nearby. I'm a swell guy.

Sunday brought our second daytime backyard wedding of the weekend, this time for our friends J. and P. They also happily had open kegs ready to go even before the ceremony, and people raced for them, because, well, theater people. We attacked them like Huns, and before anyone knew what was really going on, J. and P. appeared on the deck for the ceremony, and all of us dipshits were trapped way in the back, by the beer, as the priestess or nutbar or whatever did her business. As a result of this, a lot of us didn't hear what the hell was going on, but that was all our fault.

It didn't help that the house in question was clearly on the approach path to Seatac. So we heard this:

"J. and P. fell in love when . . . "

RRRRRRRROOOOOOAAAAAAAAR

". . . and this was cemented when . . . "

SHRIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK

" . . . until assassins caught up with them . . . "

VROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM

" . . . extradition is unlikely, thank God!"

So we don't actually know if they're married, but we assume so. And more power to them! I assume Interpol will go easier on them if they are, and we certainly didn't have to endure the hardship of worrying about the interdiction of the Winds or whatever, as they are presumably watching what's-her-face take a piss through the south window.

Aw, hell, to all these people let there be nothing but happiness, and we don't have to say anything about their side businesses, like about importing shaved rats or anything like that. Let them live their lives. Who cares about dangerous rodents or poisoned beer? Not me. Here I am, content as can be, eating my own feet. After a weekend of good fun.

Blessed be.

Thursday, 01 September
I Resent Other People's Happiness

Labor Day weekend is coming up, and boy, am I looking forward to . . . not relaxing! Well, some relaxing, I guess. Like 3/4 of the non-service economy employees in this country, I'm taking Friday off for the good old four-day weekend, because, hey, I can. (Working for a nonprofit may not get me serious wages, but boy do I rack up the paid time off--also, I rarely call in sick.)

And I need the spare time, because the wife and I are attending two fucking weddings over the weekend. I've said it before and I'll say it again: WHY MUST OTHER PEOPLE'S HAPPINESS INCONVENIENCE ME SO? Honestly. Would it be so bad for other people to be lonely shut-ins? It worked for me when AOL started up.

Saturday is the first one, and it's totally the wife's fault. They're friends of hers, and she also has spent time caring for their little boy. In fact, they set up the whole deal (at their house) in that cutesy way where they make it seem like the kid is throwing the party. "Don't tell Mommy and Daddy, but we're having a party!" And all that. They're totally nice guys, really, but . . . please, don't do this. Because now when I eat some overboiled carrots, I'm going to think that junior just wiped a bunch of shit on them. Also, is the kid going to know where they keep the Tanqueray 10? This stuff is important.

On Sunday, it's our friends J. and P. J. is some sort of web designer thingy (I have a complex understanding of these things), and P. works for NPR, so I assume there will be a short communion with virtual dolphins. I'll be very disappointed if this doesn't happen. At the very least, I expect to play WoW with the bride and groom, preferably underwater at a kelp garden. I've got this Drow Cabbage that will KICK THEIR MARRIED ASSES, and I haven't even mentioned my Icy Manipulator and Oubliette cards.

Well, hell, we'll see what happens. I'm kind of intrigued by the idea of the kid running the show on Saturday. Because maybe then, instead of the usual tired "you may now awkwardly jam the ring on to her finger," stuff, we'll get someting different.

"MAN AND WIFE! MAN AND WIFE! NOW WE CAN PLAY TRUCKS!"

And then? Duh. We play trucks.










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