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Tuesday, 28 February
Not Rockin' The Not-Burbs

The wife and I made a break for it this weekend, to the only place that made sense any more in this cold world: Brinnon, Washington. We were cashing in on a Christmas gift from her parents, a free couple of nights in the Olympic peninsula on . . . houseboats for two! Yes, we had a romantic holiday getaway weekend on a houseboat. Nothing says, "Say . . . why not conceive some grandchildren while you've got nothing to do but sit in a houseboat?" like a trip to Brinnon, Washington, whose lone restaurant (Open until 8:00 on Fridays and Saturdays!) is called the Halfway House.

As it turned out, the brother-in-law and his wife also received the very same gift, and yes, they had booked the same weekend. Nothing quells lustful thoughts like wondering, "Say . . . I wonder if your brother could hear us?" Well, almost nothing. For me, the actual thought of children quells lustful thoughts, so there was that too.

We actually had a very good time. From the very beginning, we were treated very well by the Brinnon folk, who exude that mysterious quality that baffles people who live in larger cities: incredible niceness. Our intrepid houseboat matron had told us to give her a call on arrival so she could let us in to the houseboat. Unfortunately, T-Mobile had different ideas . . . my awful cellphone refused to even countenance the idea of a reception bar. So we asked the proprietor of the marina store for help, and she immediately said, "I'll call her for you!" Then she charged me $7.41 for a pack of Camel Lights, so I guess she wasn't exactly coming out a loser on the exchange.

Settling into the tiny boat was easy enough; it had a hot tub that overlooked the little bay, and we were charmed by the seabirds that frolicked in the water, and occasionally stopped by to peck curiously at our window. This is, I must confess, somewhat unnerving when you're sitting naked in a hot tub. Tippi Hendren didn't have to experience dark thoughts about her nipples coming under avian attack.

The houseboat was also equipped with a stereo, TV and DVD player, and so after a bit of poking about, we decided that--given the paucity of Brinnon nightlife--we'd better go hunt down some horrible movies. We went to the video store--right by the Halfway House!--and discovered a dilapidated ruin that Snake Plissken would sneer at. I did appreciate the "NIGHT DROP" sign sagging morosely next to a kicked-in window. The wonderful gals at the Halfway House informed us that yes, "That place closed!"--no shit!--before referring us to the liquor store.

I love this idea! But, uh . . . the liquor store? In Washington, the liquor stores are all state run. Why would there be movies to rent there?

And yet. Sure enough! A whole shelf bulging with DVDs! And several more with VCR rentals! Um . . . okay! I assume that it's just a happy sideline for the manager, an--of course--incredibly nice woman who was more than delighted to rent us a couple of DVDs. "What do you need from us?" I asked, reaching for my ID, my credit card, a buccal DNA sample . . . "I need you to fill this out," she said, handing over a regular piece of white office paper. "Give me your name and phone number. I'll fill out the titles." That was it. She quoted me a price of four dollars plus tax for the two movies we were taking. Perhaps I got a sympathy discount, since the movies themselves were manifestly horrible, of course: we rented Changing Lanes and Flightplan, which we unfortunately watched. Perhaps this accounted for her less-than-exacting security measures. I don't care if I ever get these back, I imagine her thinking.

Later that evening, after a dinner at the Halfway House (how could I not go?), we retired to the houseboats where a spirited game of Trival Pursuit Mit DVD! was had, and I won, thanks largely to the kindness of the other players who let me have a pie for missing a question about when the Spirograph was introduced. (1966, not 1967. FUCK YOU, SPIROGRAPH! And also the death-deserving research staff at Trivial Pursuit. What a shitty question.)

The whole weekend was like this, really. Wake. Watch insane birds. Crawl nervously into hot tub. Go try and find non-alarming cuisine.

Our second night, we ventured to the nearby town of Quilcene, home to one stop sign and, we reasoned, at least one more restaurant than Brinnon. (We were right! There were two.) We eyed an establishment called--and I love this--the Whistling Oyster warily, but I vetoed it for a few reasons: 1. It was called the Whistling Oyster; 2. It advertised PULL TABS quite prominently; and 3. It looked like, if not the inspiration for, then at least the actual filming location of The Accused.

So we ended up at the only other place that was open: the Logger's Landing. The others had cheeseburgers while I contented myself with that most satisfying of all meals, the grilled cheese sandwich. By the end of the dinner, my dentition was thoroughly coated with a fine, impenetrable lacquer of semisolid melted orange matter. The others topped off the meal with some alarming thing called a Walnut Eat The Fuck Dream, or something. I had a Jack Daniel's while the others moaned deliriously.

And then we went back for some more Trivial Pursuit, and I was once again triumphant, thanks to about nine million lucky, lucky rolls. And hilariously easy questions. And the fact that it was the "90s Version," which--hey! I was alive in the 90s! And finally, this terrible game had made it . . . marginally worthwhile to endure! Thanks, Trivial Pursuit! All is forgiven for that fucking Spirograph thing.

It was all very relaxing, very nice. We had a good time. I was reminiscing about it today, in fact, as I walked home from work. I happened to pass a guy and his gal walking along. As I motored by, the guy stopped to pick up a weird little piece of plastic off the sidewalk. I don't know why. I heard their conversation for a moment after he stooped down to grab what, to me, was obviously, a piece of discarded junk. It was very pink.

"Check it out!" he said.

"What is it?" replied the gal.

"I dunno. Some kinda . . . cock ring?"

I thought, I'm back home.

Wednesday, 22 February
Cancellations

It happens to even our favorite shows. But don't worry! The networks have some great replacements lined up for some of our beloved TV shows. To make things interesting, the producers have made sure that all the new shows are anagrams of the old ones. What could go wrong?

BONES, with Emily "Sauce" Deschanel has been underperforming as far as I know, and so will be replaced with one of those gritty, handheld-camera-ific programs that we can't get enough of: SNOBE. Dr. Bailey Snobe (Tom Skerritt) is a street podiatrist who isn't afraid to break the rules. So far all that's been leaked has been a snippet from the soundtrack and a couple of brief scenes.

Who's the white podiatrist
That's a foot fetishist?
SNOBE!
Ya damn right.

INTERIOR: Morgue. Coroner and Snobe stand over a corpse. The lighting is dim and atmospheric.

Coroner: C.O.D. is . . . corns. I've never seen feet like this before.

Snobe: I have. (He grimaces.) Bosnia. Doc . . . I'm gonna need to take his feet.

Coroner: Again? Dammit, Snobe. You can't keep taking their damn feet. The commissioner--

Snobe: Damn the commissioner! I can't do this job without those feet! Give me those tin snips! These tendons look pretty gristly.

Coroner: (Falling to his knees) DAMN YOU, SNOOOOOOBE!

---

Fans of the nauseating horror that is GHOST WHISPERER will surely be mollified to learn of its imminent replacement, SHEER PIG'S WORTH! Hollywood execs have done their research, and sure enough, the audience members who simply love to see Jennifer Love Hewitt's dewy, heaving cleavage are the same demographic group who also enjoy watching Hog Negligee Auctions. Every Friday night, anxious viewers can phone in and vote on which naughty sow deserves to become America's next Sex Pig. Victoria's Porcine Secret is already on board as a sponsor.

In the unlikely event that Sheer Pig's Worth fails, the network has a fill-in idea in WHEE! GRIP SHORTS! which takes reality programming to a new level by showing secret camera footage of people surreptitiously masturbating on the subway.

---

AMERICAN IDOL shows no indication that it's going away, but should it start to tank, FOX is ready with the newest hot sitcom MACARONI DELI, a show set in Dayton, Ohio. All-white best friends Doss, Bandler, Spoey, Cinabonnica, Machel and Greebie explore life, love and lunacy in their favorite downtown pasta bar.

Also reportedly in the works is ICELAND MAORI, a fish-out-of-water story about a New Zealander who has grieviously lost his way; and DOCILE AIRMAN, a show featuring Billy Zane as a fighter pilot with a troubling addiction to painkillers. In the gripping first episode, Zane is called on for a dangerous mission over Grugchaka, which severely tests his ability to get out of bed.

```

SEX AND THE CITY, of course, ended its run some time ago. But that doesn't mean that network execs are letting it die quietly! Coming soon is its replacement, somewhat predictably titled SNATCHY EXITED. Acerbically narrated by Mort Sahl, if alive, Snatchy Exited tells the stories of luckless-in-love barfly slut Lena Brace (Mare Winningham) and her seemingly endless series of hopelessly depressing and depraved one-night stands. At the conclusion of each episode is the tagline, spoken by Sahl as she hobbles out yet another gruesome man's door: "Exit Snatchy." Hilarious!

---

With THE SOPRANOS coming to a long-awaited conclusion, David Chase isn't just farting into his ottoman. He's already scripted season one of THOSE APRONS!, slated to begin filming in 2011. Those Aprons! will be an Antiques Roadshow-cum-That's Incredible! type of show, featuring some seriously mind-blowing kitchenware. Already in the can is footage of one Nebraskan displaying his winkingly clever BURN THE FAGS barbecue-wear, as well as Maine native Arthur Dibley's astonishing collection of Holocaust Denial oven mitts.

---

THE AMAZING RACE seems to keep putting along, despite widespread viewer horror over last season's "Family" Amazing Race, which had families rather unamazingly driving RVs around middle America. To spice things up, the producers are unveiling THRACE MAGAZINE. Thrace Magazine promises to be a fun, frilly romp through all things Bulgarian, Greek, Turkish and whatever, hosted by the ebulliantly blond John Tesh. Planned features already include interviews with the skeletonized corpses of Democritus and the likely mythological Orpheus. ("So . . . you sent your wife back into hell.") Bumper music will also be handled by host Tesh.

In the unlikely event that Thrace Magazine fails to catch on, have no fear. Spike TV is ready and willing to pick up the Joe Rogan-hosted show NAZI MEAT CHARGE. Only limited information was available at press time. But this reporter smells Emmy.

---

(Postscript: This might well be the dumbest idea I could not shake. I should have submitted it to McSweeney's.)

Monday, 20 February
I'm Bobsledding As Fast As I Can

It was a THREE DAY WEEKEND! And I am proud to report that the wife and I truly made the least of it. Well, I did, mostly. The wife actually ventured out of the house on Sunday to go see a play with some friends in it. I didn't, because as has been extensively documented before, I am a cranky shut-in who only snarls at things like The Arts any more, because, after years and years of being some tiny, irritating presence in the world of The Arts, The Arts can frankly all go fuck themselves.

These days, I'm all about the Non-Arts. Like say . . . the Olympics! Again.

I've already spleened about this before, so no need to make this too long. But I just have to say: I am pretty sure I knew that this one . . . I will not say "sport" . . . existed before. I had to have. But my brain obviously rejected its existence as too abhorrent to retain. I assume that every four years I witness--and then immediately forget--this thing, this Galactus of Non-Art, ice dancing.

Ice dancing. Where to start? How about in some of the early rounds, where I watched in horror as these ghastly people did decidedly not-thrilling things like . . . skate around, not jumping at all! I felt like apologizing to figure skating. Here were identical-looking people doing identically idiotic things on skates, but without any acrobatics at all. And at another part of a routine, being informed that "this is the part of the routine where the dancers are not allowed to touch." That's fucking awesome! Because you know what the best part of dancing is? Not touching! We all know this, which is why, at the prom, you routinely see kids enthusiastically not touching each other, particularly during the Prokofiev numbers that have gotten so popular.

I swear that one resplendently pink-clad skaterina looked exactly like Jackie O. would have had she been assaulted by Hollywood drug mules and former Cirque De Soleil costumers. Her partner fared no better, and simply looked like an epauletted bovine tongue. Naturally, the only gratification I got out of the whole thing was seeing these people being dropped horribly and efficiently on their iliac crests.

Ice dancing is figure skating's dumber, embarrassing little brother, the one who suddenly shows up wearing your underwear over his pants when you're hanging out with your friends. The Olympics have more of these annoying siblings. Take for example the bobsled.

Now I can respect this sport as qua sport, really. Get in this ridiculous contraption and go fast! Well, all right. There are stupider sports, and hey, there's no style points or judging going on here. Get in! Go fast! Don't crash. Fine.

But where the dumb-brother thing comes in--and also where I get completely baffled as to who schedules this shit--is that, well, we've already seen things like the luge and skeleton. Hey, stupid! Get on this tiny board and throw yourself down hell's own sphincter! Try not to crash! Hey, you don't mind if your face is eight inches away from the ice, do you? Swell! I mean, hell, they even have cool names. "Luge." It's mysterious, or something. "Skeleton." It is called Skeleton. Bobsled? Bobsleigh? "Make room in the sled for Grandpa, kids! Randy, I know he farts a lot, but it's not nice to say."

After things like skeleton, watching these big-assed beasts ponderously clatter down the tracks is like watching morticians shove discount coffins down a broken escalator just for laughs. Memo to Olympic planners: schedule the bobsled competitions first, for God's sake.

I said I wasn't going to spend a lot of time on this, didn't I? Sorry. Let's move on to the other Non-Art things we subjected our eyeballs to this weekend: horrible movies! In the interest of space--and my total disinterest in spending more time thinking about said catastrophes--I will try to keep this in mini-format. Standard spoiler disclaimers apply to these also standard terrible turkeys.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

A love letter to Jesusland masquerading as a horror movie, but which is actually a dreary courtroom drama. Puzzlingly, the demons win, which you would think would dilute the message, but Laura Linney, the world's bendiest agnostic, seems to disagree after finding a discarded necklace. Tom Wilkinson says things like, "Emily's story must be told!" before leaving the set to go laugh hysterically into some blankets in his trailer.

Cry Wolf

Actually, just cry.

Garden State

Hats off to Zach Braff, whose very name sounds like a gypsy curse, for finally creating a movie about a disaffected white twentysomething who finds love and comes to terms with his distant father. And all it took was the completely not-clunky death of his mother! Zach's big emotional turn comes when he and Natalie Portman, for some reason, scream into an abandoned quarry; later, he fucks her. I think we can all learn from this: when screaming into some New Jersey abyss with Natalie Portman for reasons that defy all logic, resist the overwhelming urge to push her in. She may fuck you.

Thursday, 16 February
Da! DA! Da-Da Da DA DA!

Every couple of years when it rolls around, I tell myself the same damn thing: "Aaaaah, fuck the Olympics. I've had it with those goddamn things." And every year . . . I end up watching them.

I don't know why. The obvious explanation seems to be: I hate me.

Because really, the Olympics just end up pissing me off, pretty much all the time. Except when people fall. That I kind of like.

The Olympics piss me off for fairly unoriginal, pedestrian reasons. One big piss-off, of course, is the tremendously insulting American coverage of the events, which never misses an opportunity to manufacture a True Blue Bullshit story for American Olympians. Tonight they profiled a couple of lovely blonde American female downhill skiiers with INXS' "Beautiful Girl" playing in the background. I am happy to report that they both lost, and even happier to report that they lost to a fairly homely Austrian woman. Though I'm a bit surprised that NBC didn't do something in retaliation, like play "Evil Woman" or David Allan Coe's immortal "Finger Fuckin' Sally" over footage of the winner celebrating.

Another sort of meta-piss that I experience is in any event that has judging. FUCK JUDGING. Judging? This isn't American Fucking Idol, for Christ's sake. It's an athletic competition! Who is strongest? Who's fastest? Who's got the endurance? This is all I'm interested in. Unfortunately, judging is so pervasive as to ruin even some of the simplest events.

For example, ski jumping. This is an event that I clearly remember watching as a child, mainly for the incredible sense of awe and terror it inspired in me as I watched these lunatics willingly launch themselves into the high ether and eventually touch down--or, as it happened, explode on contact--miles away from where they started. To me, they were like astronauts without rockets--insane fuckers blasting themselves into the troposphere with nothing better than a couple of goddamn boards strapped to their feet.

How insulting, then, and I forget about this every Olympics, that these nutters are judged not only on how far they fly, but on style points. STYLE POINTS? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? Listen, there is only one metric I'm interested in: Who went the farthest? Style points? I don't give a fuck if a guy looked like Bea Arthur with a hundred carrots stapled all over his body and pinwheeled madly all the way to the bottom while screaming "I REGRET EVERYTHING!" If the skier landed on his feet then HOW FAR DID HE GO? This is all that should matter.

Style points. Jesus Christ. Concepts like "style points" are just corrosive to sports, and it usually leads to phenomena like the Derek Jeter Effect, which I just now made up, but is basically: "It's the intangibles that really define him as a player." Not that it makes any fucking sense on any level. Jeter sure is an "intangibles" kind of guy. He's not an awful player by any means, but nor is he really an outstanding one. (But he is a fellow who isn't averse to ramming his face into a seat, for which I am always appreciative of. I hope he keeps that bit.) He's on a decent par with dozens of other decent players, but he's a "leader," he "makes the big plays" (except when he doesn't), he's "special." He's "intangible." Happily, baseball scores are not. Who got the most points? That's pretty tangible.

This is all leading up to, naturally, that bugaboo and great divider of us Olympics junkies, we who cannot help ourselves: figure skating.

First let me say that I totally acknowledge that these competitors are amazing physical specimens who routinely do beautiful, incredible things that are occasionally serenely lovely. I can appreciate it when the dude flings the girl into the air, and she spins a number of times and then lands on one thin blade with all the nonchalance of someone using an ATM. It's amazing.

Not amazing? The unbelievable pageantry and pomp accorded these ridiculous figures. Where else other than Las Vegas or the Winter Olympics would these odious clowns not be pelted with eggs and jeering epithets? Perhaps in some remote, undiscovered New Zealand village they might be hailed as gods, but for the rest of us, don't they look sort of like victims of Homer Simpson's makeup shotgun? And dressed as if by the designers of My Pretty Pony, but with their restraint bones removed?

Some day, if my deepest wish is granted, I will get to see a couple of figure skaters dressed in soiled denim doing a routine to Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up" where for four and a half minutes, all the guy skater does is savagely throw the woman skater into the arena walls, only at the end to have her stick a bread knife into his eye. Then at the end, cheers will erupt and roses will gently fall to the ice while the female skater takes a bow and the guy bleeds to death over in the corner.

I would totally give that routine a 10. But hell, it isn't a 10 for that nonsport, is it? Is it a 6? Or did they change that again? Christ, what a pain in the ass. Is it 5 now? Whatever. The ice-queen murderess gets the gold. Just for the intangibles.

Tuesday, 14 February
When A Body Meet A Body

Friday I was walking up Capitol Hill after work to meet the wife and a friend for a Friday afternoon ritual: anaesthetizing ourselves with drink to stave off the horrors of another workweek, and to perhaps even burn out the unlucky neurons responsible for remembering the preceding five horrid days. As you can imagine, I was eager to get to the bar and commence lushing it up.

However, as I came to a corner--narrowly missing a crosslight--I realized that I'd been buttonholed. A man, a tall young black man, was holding . . . pamphlets. Of some sort. My testicles throbbed and contracted painfully as I realized that he was going to talk to me.

There is little I find less pleasing than to be talked to on the street by strangers. I'm basically a game-face, head-down kind of walker, and do my level best to give off violent, roiling waves of purest GO THE FUCK AWAY. This of course stops nobody, since the people who are going to accost strangers on the street are 1. paid not to give a fuck, or 2. at some sort of life's nadir where they couldn't possibly care less, or 3. crazier than a sack of trapped marmots.

The young man approached me with a winning smile, and said, "So! We gonna get Bush and Cheney out of office or what?" He was very nice, which of course triggered my politeness gene. "YUP!" I yelped, my voice cracking with the strain. I eyed the red crosswalk light and steadily lost hope. "Great!" he beamed. He held something out to me, and I looked down.

He was holding a Lyndon LaRouche pamphlet. This in itself was sad enough. Lyndon LaRouche? Really? Fuck, why not Eugene V. Debs? This was getting worse and worse. The pamphlet itself was totally depressing; once in time it had been a proud, glossy thing, almost professional-looking, but now it just looked shabby and battered, almost like . . . it had been handled for months or years by some sorry bastard who every day tried to get someone, anyone to take it. It looked like one of those awful office White Elephant Christmas gifts that has lived entire lifetimes in people's attics. It was pure, distilled hopelessness in pamphlet form. Somewhere, distantly, I could hear poor Thomas Paine taking it up the ass from cackling pit demons.

"NO THANKS!" I quavered in my new adolescent voice. I shot a hunted glance at the oncoming traffic to see if there was anything that I was reasonably sure would kill me if I hurled myself under its wheels, but I saw only a disheartening line of hatchbacks. Life is not an option, I told myself. I was certain this guy would clamber into the ambulance and dispense LaRouchian wisdom to me all the way to the hospital while I lay there like the gormless cripple I would surely be.

"C'mon! What are you gonna do, then?" he asked. Sunlight glinted off his glasses; he was charm personified. I crawled further into my jacket, attempting to fold myself into some undiscovered dimension. "Vote for the other guy," I muttered lamely.

He was genuinely aggrieved with this nonsense. "But elections are only every four years!" he literally wailed to the skies. Can't argue with that, I thought dismally. I tried to shrink even farther into the lonely carapace of my coat. I realized that on some level I was totally failing to live up to my end of this unwanted conversational bargain that had been foisted upon me, and I actually felt kind of awful about it. But what on earth could I say? "They aren't on Earth Prime! You see, I come from an alternate universe." Well, that wouldn't work. So did he.

In the end, I took the coward's path, because of course, the light changed. "No thanks, no thanks," I squealed, moving again into my upper register as delight warred with weird, unreasonable guilt in my head. I escaped! And yet I treated a crazy person shabbily. Good Lord.

When I was halfway across the street, I couldn't resist stealing a look back. And he was still looking at me, a little sadly. He was still holding that terrible pamphlet in his hand, arm down in limp--yet familiar-defeat. He hadn't closed the deal, and another deluded soul had been allowed escape.

Then he turned around and approached a couple walking by. "Hey, how are you today? So are we gonna take Bush down or not?" His smile was brilliant in the February sun, so much more brilliant than the dog-eared, much-fingered unshiny pamphlet he held out to them, which, of course, they did not take as they wordlessly skirted their way around him.


POSTSCRIPT: I thank my readers for taking the time to wade through this humble offering. I realize that there are other things going on in the world, such as little tidbits such as the Vice President discharging a shotgun into the face of his hunting companion. Clearly, there are other, larger matters to attend to, so I appreciate your staying with me. And I would like to extend my best wishes to Mr. Cheney, our first Vice President to be constructed by 19th-century vivisectionists out of the nailed-together gall bladders of asylum inmates, and also to that guy he shot.

Thursday, 09 February
Desert Rows

Reasoning that it's never too early to begin complaining about anything, I might as well report that I have this week submitted travel requests at work for our next pit stop, which is Salt Lake City. (I actually like to elongate this into Salt Lake dead fuck City, not only because it has a pleasingly blunt, staccato scan to it, but also because I like to imagine Salt Lake City as a sort of Mecca for those looking for a real dead fuck. "I want your laziest hooker.")

See, I might as well uphold my rep for just slagging the hell out of cities that I visit, particularly when it's for work, as that is always No Fun. Previous victims of my ridiculously nasty and petty vituperation have been Kansas City and Denver, both of which I of course found odious all in the course of three or four day visits. Not that one is going to much enjoy any city from the limited confines of the local downtown Hyatt after a few intensive days of pleasant cancer-related chatting with strangers. Particularly Kansas City, parts of which resemble indolent tumors anyway. As for Denver, unclassy, depressing retail outlets seem to be metastasizing enthusiastically.

Work-related travel obviously does nothing for my attitude.

And it's probably not going to be much different for SLC, where I must travel to in April, so I'll be able to add yet another city's population to my They Hate Me list when I get back and write something typically snotty about it.

I really don't want to go.

I've been there once before. When I was 19 or so, my college buddy and I took a road trip on spring break to Colorado. We stopped along the way at SLC, where we stayed the night with his parents, who lived there at the time. "Goodness!" cried J.'s mom when we rolled in. "You look exhausted! Would you boys like a beer?" This was the best experience I had the whole time. The rest of the brief stay was spent with me crying out while driving around, "Let's go there! I'm starving!" And J. grimly shaking his head, claiming that those joints were "not for us"--i.e. Mormon hangouts. Later, J. took us up to a clifftop overview of the city. SLC is one giant grid of almost Pythagoreanly perfect lines. "Isn't it beautiful?" he exclaimed, staring down at the twinkling lights. I thought it looked like a city designed by the Borg.

Now let's be clear: I am not really a fan of religion in general. To be more fair, let me stipulate that I am a complete moron when it comes to religion. So when I say that I get skeeved out by the idea of what amounts to practically an entire state enraptured by a particular religion, it is the same sad mind that once made some Catholic friends really red-faced and shouty when I idly asked if Communion amounted to some sort of sublimated form of ritualized cannibalism.

It all comes down to the usual crap: we fear what we do not understand. I do not understand Mormonism, much like I do not understand Baptists, or Daughters of the American Revolution, or for that matter, paintball warriors. They all have their weird, alien rituals and rules and modes of conduct, and they all frighten me. Which is all fine with me, really: maybe I'm just a shutdown case with no interest in learning about the world's more granular concepts, but I have about as much interest in learning about applied Mormonism as I have about learning about, well, paintballers. And I am of course terrified that someone will try to educate me. And here I'm traveling to the epicenter of the Where Someone Might Try To Explain It. I don't want that.

Well, I'm going to try to be of firm resolve. I can be a good man for a change; I can put aside my ignorant prejudices for once and be objective and fair and open-minded. Can't I?

Salt Lake dead fuck City, I hereby pledge to you: I will not, when the time comes (April), slag on your city using the obvious tropes and cliches. I will slag the hell out of you on your own demerits.

To be honest? You're going to have to come up with something special to beat out Kansas City.

Monday, 06 February
Things We Were Not Meant To See

There are probably few things more boring than hearing a sports fan complain about his vanquished heroes, his stolen dreams, his fallen arches, whatever. So I'll try and get this out of the way quickly. Besides, as D. said, "You're not allowed to blog about our tears." No problem. Can I blog about the astonishing rancidness of your farts? Hey, I can!

Speaking of rancid, so there was the Super Bowl. Let me just say this: I am not one of those wild-eyed people who will claim that the refs handed the Steelers the victory (though of course those thoughts are tempting). The Seahawks had plenty of chances, and can really thank any number of sheerly inept moments to pick to blame. (Clock management? Anyone? No?) But in the end, what we were really faced with was this: the Super Bowl XL was a wholly dispiriting, dreary game played by two dreary teams making mostly dreary plays, the exceptions to which only seemed to underscore the fact the whole rotten affair was an embarrassment to everyone involved. Particularly--and you knew this was coming--for the officials.

I'm pretty sure this wasn't what Matthew Arnold had in mind when he wrote about ignorant armies clashing by night. On the other hand, it seemed apt at the time, and anyway, I really enjoy his other NFL-related poetry.

ALL RIGHT. That'll do.

To distract us from our woes, there was always the reliably crappy halftime show, this time featuring the Rolling Stones, looking very mossy indeed these days. Up front, as always, was the eternally embarrassing Mick Jagger, jerking arrythmically like some japing, fibrous pemmican golem; behind him, too desiccated to do anything but rasp for water! water! while they arthritically hunch-fucked their instruments, wringing terrible atonal noises out of the things as if they were strangling starving derelicts. Struck with creeping horror at this ghoul circus, we were forced to eventually change the channel to watch the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet.

"This is better than the game," I said in doomed tones. The other guys said nothing, and dug mutely into their congealing beef brisket sandwiches, which did nothing for the Venusian methane atmosphere permeating the house. There is nothing more poisonous than the unholy reek of grimly heartsick male sports fans. C. cracked open his fifth beer with all the enthusiasm of a melancholy hermit coroner.

And of course there were the ads! I particularly liked the GoDaddy spots which resolutely did not much feature the chick with giant tits actually displaying . . . her tits. Effective! And the other one I really like was the Bud Light piece where Alan Cumming shat in Carmen Electra's hair while the Incredible String Orchestra covered Whale's indelible hit "Hobo Humpin' Slobo Babe." It was easily the realest of all the ads.

In the end--and I have tried to leave out all the football-intensive shit from this post, so that everyone can read and attempt to enjoy it, if possible--here is the final judgment on that damned night: the ads were more fun, and they were phenomenally horrible. The Puppy Bowl was more fun, and that was dog-on-dog action. Yes, dogs screwing--dogs badly screwing-- was more fun than the Super Bowl. Me making up horrible bullshit about Alan Cumming taking a dump on Carmen Electra's head was more fun than remembering the Super Bowl.

It was a really terrible game. Here's the final verdict: that game was actually worse than the movie the wife and I watched the night before.

House of Wax.

Friday, 03 February
Touch Me, They're Sick

Health issues have been on my mind lately. Now, some of you may be sick of hearing about my recently removed tooth.

What's that? You want to hear about my jaw-hole? WELL, ALL RIGHT THEN!

Ah, it's fine. It's kind of boring now, really. There's still some cold sensitivity issues going on, but the major repercussions of that have simply led me to reduce my beer intake in favor of scotch. And the empty spot--which I must say is really very thrilling to worry at with my tongue pretty much all day long-- still insists on throbbing in an interesting way when I take a particularly enthusiastic drag on a cigarette, but on the whole, you'll be happy to know that my regular regimen of unhealthy vices continues more or less unobstructed.

Now, close members of the family, however, are moving in to fill the gap, as it were.

My father, for example, who a year or so ago kicked a practically lifelong smoking habit. I think was birthed in a Lucky Strike factory. Anyway, after a couple of alarming months where he experienced certain . . . eating problems . . . oh, let's get it over with. For a while, during meals, he would occasionally experience problems swallowing, and would exhibit signs of choking. The immediate remedy was, well, garfing up chewed food from his throat. Mmmm!

As in, "Mmm! Mmm! Worrisome!" When the problem started to increase in frequency, he went to the docs, who told him that it wasn't uncommon for long-time smokers to experience a "stricture" in the esophagus. This was actually great news in a couple of ways. For one, it wasn't some ghastly tumor lurking in his throat blocking up his neck plumbing. For another, it allowed me to imagine a tiny nun in his esophagus, enforcing solemn foodish strictures as punishment for years of sinful smoking. "Back the way you came, Sonny Jim!" she'd scream, and hit the food on its food-wrist with a tiny ruler. GARF!

The nun has been banished by the docs, who presumable drowned her with some terrible regimen of holy water and rigorously chewed hosts. Except we're not Catholic. It's kind of confusing, but he's okay now. (I'm sure he told me exactly how they eased the "stricture," but at the time I was still stuck on the throat-nun, so it didn't make it into my brain. I'm a great kid.)

Then we found out that the wife's good mother is scheduled for surgery on Valentine's Day. That'll be a fun card to try to find. "It cuts me up thinking of you!" Ah, but this is elective surgery: she is having gastric bypass surgery done, as a combination of weight gain and a simply astonishing bout of osteoporosis have led her to say, "Hi, hello, fuck all this!" The wife has told me many times that it was apparently all her fault for some of this, as her incubation basically drained her mother of nourishing elements. And for this I call her the Calcium Vampire, so if one day my desiccated, brittled bones are found in a bar or something, you know who to look at.

AND THEN, the wife talked to her father, who at the same time evidently discovered some alarming mass around his testicles. Okay, this must be every daughter's dream: Pa! Tell me about your lumpy nuts! Groovy. He thought for a bit he had testicular cancer, but declined to tell anybody about it, as he didn't want to alarm anyone while wife's mom was gearing up for her surgery.

Jesus God. Well, he does not have testicular cancer, as what I'm sure was a really entertaining biopsy proved ("We'll be taking this needle and . . . doctor, he's fainted")--it's some damn harmless cyst or something. Oh, and did I mention that this conversation took place during a phone call when the wife buzzed to wish him a happy birthday? Although I am as happy as anyone that he is still healthy. And simultaneously not that happy that one of his gifts was something like a fine needle aspiration of a growth on his nuts. Again, I'm glad I didn't have to shop for a card. "Have a nutty birthday!"

Really what it comes down to is, I need the people I care about to not fucking get sick. If they can't do it for themselves, I need them to do it for me. Because I am weak, both constitutionally--there's a hole in my jaw that's, uh, healing well!--and mentally--I complain about the illnesses of close ones! You see my problem. Jesus fuckbitin' Christ, people. I can't take this. Stop having things go wrong! Is that so hard?

So I'm declaring a moratorium on ill health for a while. Not for you, understand--look, you're swell, but let's remember what's important here, which is me--you can get lupus or something if you really must. I'm not encouraging it, but I won't stop you. Hell, I might even send you a card, one of those hard-to-find ones, like, "I would never attack you like your own immune system is right now" or "You're hysterical! And so is your histological breakdown, so sorry about that." And maybe with a picture of a dog.

I mean, I'm not a total asshole. Which reminds me. I'm of a certain age. I should start eating Total. It's got all kinds of vitamins and fiber. Which is, I assume, good for my asshole.

Find a card for that.










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