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Wednesday, 30 August
Meet The Neighbors

Sunday afternoon found me relaxing outside on our deck enjoying a cigarette. Our deck is separated by the larger public pool and patio by a couple of heavy cotton blinds that we routinely leave down in the summer to cut down on the amount of summer sun that would otherwise stream through our glass-walled western-facing exposure, and thus sparing us from being roasted like kielbasas during the summer months.

After a bit, I heard some shuffling, and spied a pair of unmistakeable old man legs shambling by; whoever the duffer was, he was obviously going to the pool. Then the gristly legs stopped moving, and he stood there, outside my blinds, quivering a bit, thanks to, you know, the oldness. Uh oh.

"ARE YOU HIDING?" he roared, causing my traumatized intestines to fire a white-hot meteorite of shocked feces through the seat of my pants and downward into the earth's crust. "I CAN SEE YOUR LEGS!" he bellowed, not waiting for me to answer. My wits were scattered all over the surrounding landscape, and I squeaked, senselessly, "Busted!" Is he too old to understand my incredibly hip urban lingo? I wondered. "WHAT?" he screamed. No, just too deaf. We still had not seen each other's face; I thought maybe it would be polite to duck out from under my blinds, but on the other hand, I didn't want to.

At this point, another voice joined the fray, a female voice calling from somewhere above. "Don! Don! Don't lose your keys!" So his name was Don. "WHAT?" he howled. "Don't lose your keys!" Pause. Don's scrawny legs shifted uncertainly. "WHAT?" Sigh. "THE KEYS! THE KEYS IN YOUR HAND!" she screamed. Don's wife didn't want him losing his keys. Where was he going to lose them? In the pool?

"YES, I'VE GOT MY KEYS!" Don replied, and I heard him shaking them. Jesus. "No, she says she doesn't want you to lose your keys," I offered, doing my bit to help the elderly, and also to try and head off any more geriatric throat-singing.

There are two cotton blinds that shade our windows; suddenly, in the space between the two, Don thrust his head inside into my patio. He grinned at me in a friendly way, I think. His gums were . . . well, they were kind of black. "Women!" he rasped. "I been married twenty-three years. Second wife. You married?" My limbic system was reeling with a sudden flood of neurotransmitters. "Yes," I replied, utterly frozen. The man looked like something Rick Baker keeps around to prank people with. Now it seemed he was intent on crawling through my sun blinds. "THAT'S WHAT YOU'VE GOT TO LOOK FORWARD TO! Second wife. Been in this building from the beginning! We were the first ones here! 1963! Ah, but she's a good one." He squeezed more of his body in between the blinds and reached out for my hand. "Don," he said unnecessarily. "What's your name?"

"I'm Skot," I said, shaking his hand. The old bastard had quite a grip. He also had a stunning amount of body hair; his body looked like he was once a pretty fit guy, but age had of course cruelly transformed it into a complicated landscape of lumps and hollows. And Lord God, all that hair. He looked like a malformed burrito that had been dipped in glue and rolled into a kennel.

Over the next couple minutes, Don gave me a little personal history: he was a WWII vet, and, uh, he was still alive. "God saw fit to give me 83 years. More than a lot of people! Know how many of my friends have died?" Don also had an odd habit of lashing out and siezing my forearm when imparting some important fact. "No," I quavered, still marveling at how strong the guy was. "ALL OF 'EM!" he crowed. "They're all dead." I didn't know what to say, but good old Don didn't care. "HAW HAW HAW HAW!" I got the feeling that while Don had once a lot of friends, he also kind of thought they all punked out by croaking. He still had a hammer-clench on my forearm, and would occasionally re-adjust his grip; I still had a cigarette in my hand, and he kept getting very close to burning his arm on it. I was starting to imagine newspaper headlines: Area Man Tortures War Hero With Cigarette Burns. Or, probably more likely, Outmatched Nebbish Justifiably Beaten To Death By Elderly Raconteur.

In the end, he let my forearm go and began extricating himself from between my blinds. "I'm 83 years old," he told me again, "but I'll still wrestle with the wildcats! You just send 'em my way!" He started shuffling towards the pool again. "I'll wrestle them wildcats in the water!" he called. "Enjoy the pool!" I replied. "I will, god damn it!"

From above, his wife: "DON! LANGUAGE!" Don flapped his arms dismissively.

I peeked at him for a while as he swam in the pool. He favored a slow, methodical breaststroke, and would occasionally stop to do some sort of strange, Karate Kid-like aquatic aerobics. The underwater pool lights lit him up fabulously; I could even see his incredible torso-mane glinting everywhere; he looked like someone who had been colonized by sea anemones.

Don't ever die, Don, I thought happily. And for God's sake, don't lose your keys.

Monday, 28 August
Ferry Tale

AND SO IT WAS on Thursday that the wife and I bailed on work halfway through the day to make our way to Whidbey Island. Our destination was the dubiously named Bush Point B&B, located just outside a lovely nothingness of a townlet called Freeland.

Island culture, it seems, leads to certain oddities in, well, naming things. Freeland, existing as it does in America, is pretty damn free, to be sure. However, my hopes were a little mashed when I wandered into the grocery store hoping that all the price tags would read "$0.00." YOU CALL THIS FREE? Oh, well. On the other hand, anecdotal evidence did suggest that the nearby Useless Bay was, in fact, actually useless, as did learning that there was a nearby golf course. And then there were the various cutesy-wootsey road names: Raindrop Lane! Cloying! Ptarmigan Ptollway! Puzzling! Handjobbe Hollow! Kind of disturbing!

Anyway, the Bush Point B&B--situated on a beach which was irritatingly bereft of much bush, frankly, but on the other hand, there were pointy things like sticks--turned out to be kind of awesome. First off in the awesomeness parade, the "B&B" part became clear enough when the kind folks who checked us in encouraged us, when breakfasttime rolled around, to "open the fridge and eat!" The fridge contained a couple blueberry muffins and a bunch of tomato juice. (The muffins went unconsumed, but I gleefully guzzled down all the tomato juice in the evenings to come by making Red Beers--don't scrimp on the black pepper!--much to the dismay of the wife.)

The decor was vintage 1973-era Lamer Homes and No Gardens, but we didn't care. In fact, we kind of loved the octagonal glass-top dining table, and the frosted-glass filigreed lighting fixtures, and the astonishingly terrible mixed-media paint-o-thingy still life that must have been entitled Raised Tin Flowers That Will Surely Suffer From Neglectful Dusting. A sliding glass door gave us egress onto the rear deck, which sat thrillingly atop the actual breakwater, and featured not only a gorgeous view of the ocean, but also an unblocked look at the former fishing platform, which, since it had been eaten away by corrosive sea brine, was now unfit to be trod upon by human feet, and has for some time been adopted as a seagull sanctuary. The gulls had coated the entire structure with a thick layer of guano, and the birds spent their time doing that great feather-ruffling shrug thing that they do and crapping with a palpable enthusiasm. It was great!

We took it easy that evening. We took our dinner in the restaurant upstairs, where for seventeen bucks I indulged memories of a youthful Skot by ordering deep-fried prawns. (When I was a kid, I just about made my parents cry by clamoring constantly to be taken to Skipper's.) I also managed to startle the waitress--and myself--by forgetting the difference between a carafe of wine and a half-carafe, with the result being that by the end of the meal (and the full carafe), the wife and I were half in the bag. Good job, Skot.

Actually, looking back, it put us in the perfect frame of mind for the DVDs we had rented. We woozily fired up the first one (with me starting in on the Red Beer), Spike Lee's Inside Man. I loves me some twisty caper movies, and hey! This one was pretty good. We had a good time. I made another Red Beer, and readied myself for the next feature, one that I had high hopes for.

It was Basic Instinct 2. At the video store--actually the Freeland Payless--I said to the wife, "I'm not sure I can pass this up." She concurred. We figured this film to be a lock for the "so bad it's great" categorization.

Basic Instinct 2 made me want to call the CDC to alert them about the world's first cinematographic disease vector. This movie is stupefyingly terrible on nearly every conceivable level, and should only be watched by burn victims, who are the only people on earth so overloaded on pain that it cannot possibly touch them. Only burn victims can lie there and moan, "Oh, that's nothing! My skin comes off in sheets!" For the rest of us, there is nothing but agony. Sharon Stone, who is clearly a hermaphroditic reef fish, has completed her transformation into a full-blown drag queen, and is hair-raising in her utterly unsuccessful attempts to raise anything else, much less her utterly luckless male foil, an actor named David Morrissey, whose every scene, every expression screams, "I know I've thrown my career away, but they gave me so much money!" So there you go: two hours of a leathery protogynecological nightmare gnawing away at a pasty-faced dullard with the Hollywood business acumen of Krusty the Clown. The wife and I mercifully passed out/went into neurological shutdown halfway through.

Did that happen? we asked ourselves the next morning. We stared at the awful evidence of the DVD cover on the floor. It really did. How did we get to bed? We weren't sure. We were lucky not to have drowned in our own unconscious bile, our heads tipped back on our necks like rainstruck turkeys. We were fortunate to have survived. We plucked the poisonous DVD out of the player with tweezers, handling the nasty thing like the filmic plutonium it was. "Don't touch it!" we hissed. "It might want to replicate itself. Don't let it touch your skin." We returned the thing to Payless and hurled it at the counter girl's skull, scoring a direct hit that dented her forehead and left her dazed and bleeding. "What are we, socialists?" we screamed. "Don't rent this to nice people!" We got the hell out of there. It was a scary time.

Whidbey Island lay before us, and reborn, we knew it was time to put it to the sword. We ransacked that island like huns, incandescant with the killing spirit. Occasionally stopping at bars to, well, kill spirits.

And so it was.

Wednesday, 23 August
Two Caucasians On Their Way To A Dance

Tomorrow is going to rock. And I'm working tomorrow! So why is it going to rock?

Because I'm leaving at noon. And Friday is going to rock even harder! HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?

Because I won't be going at all. Yes, I am living the dream, the dream that every worker has: not going to work. (Hey, I like my job fine. I just happen to like it better when I'm not doing it.)

The wife and I are taking a couple days to get out of our fetid, stinking apartment and are treating ourselves to a couple days on Whidbey Island. We had originally thought about spending some quality time in Spokane, but we want to get away from the whole fetid and stinking thing. But we really were sold on Whidbey Island once we remembered that the place has some lovely wineries, and is just kind of beautiful, and is also where Robert Mathews, former head of white supremacy group The Order, was slaughtered in a shootout with the FBI. That's history, people!

And really. Is there anything more relaxing than lounging in bucolic surroundings and reading such truisms like, "The Jew is like a destroying virus that attacks our racial body to destroy our Aryan culture and purity of our race. Those of our Race who resist these attacks are called 'chosen and faithful' " while enjoying a nice syrah? I don't think there is. There really isn't anything like a nice wine that isn't too oaky while retaining notes of grapefruit and sandalwood, but still maintains highlights of racial purity. And it finishes really well.

Which is sort of why we're also digging up the corpse of Sterling Hayden and taking him with us. I'm thinking of this whole weekend as Operation Dropkick. Look, I don't want to sound like an asshole, but I can no longer sit back and allow communist infiltration, communist indoctrination, communist subversion, and the international communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids. I just want to relax! Which is why Whidbey Island is so perfect, because everyone there is white. Just us, white people, and the corpse of Sterling Hayden. What could be finer?

Hey, don't worry, guys! I'll be back! We'll meet again.

It's not the end of the world.

Monday, 21 August
A Wink And A Smile

From child to man I have grown, and he has always been there. He has, in a way, been there from nearly the beginning, and it stills me to think that he might be with me towards the end. He is eternal; he is good; he abides; and I will always revere him.

You must know that I am speaking of Wink Martindale.

As a child, I must confess: I really liked game shows. Though I eventually outgrew such fripperies, growing up, I was charmed by any and all game shows, from the sublime (Joker's Wild) to the banal (Sale of the Century) to the incomprehensibly deranged (Let's Make A Deal). And there, early on, was the ageless Wink (born Winston Conrad Martindale in 1934), hosting a tepid little nothing called "Tic Tac Dough," a suck-o cousin of the gruesome "Hollywood Squares" where contestants answered trivia questions while playing the most boring game ever invented outside of the card game War. But I watched it, all the time. What was it about Wink? Was it his unswerving professionalism? His irremovable high-wattage grin? His . . . brown suit? No, I think I first fell in love with Wink Martindale one evening when my father referred to him as "Stink Fartindale," which was at the time, the funniest fucking thing I'd ever heard. For months, I would see him, and I would instantly think, Stink Fartindale! and then dissolve into helpless giggles. This would be, it should be obvious, the beginning of my interest in sophisticated comedy.

(To further illustrate my immersion in classic comedy from early on, my father scored another palpable hit one night while we were watching the hopeless show "That's Incredible!", featuring a thrillingly dismal trio of wildly mismatched hosts: the vaguely vampiric John Davidson, the hellishly perky nonperson Cathy Lee Crosby, and, most inexplicably, the unbelievably homely Minnesota Viking QB Fran Tarkenton. My father referred to these ghastly humans as, respectively, "White Bread, Hagged-Out and Potato Nose.")

(It also occurs to me that an entire entry could be composed in this space devoted to nothing but "That's Incredible!" but I just don't have it in me.)

After the demise of the miserable Tic Tac Dough, I was later delighted to find Wink taking over the show High Rollers, replacing Alex Trebek. Wink hadn't changed one bit. He still grinned like a seasoned pro, and he wasn't starting to go gray like that show-your-age puss-bag Trebek. Fuck no! He was all man, all game show host man. I felt, at the time, that Wink had rejoined my life, and would serve as a kind of life-guide. Wink was telling me: "I will never leave you." It also delighted me that Wink had moved from one awful, dull game show that relied on hoary gameplay--tic tac toe plus weak trivia--with another, only worse. High Rollers married weak trivia with dice rolling. There is an excellent reason why televised craps has never found an audience, and this show was far, far removed from craps. This show was simply crap.

But I watched! How could I not watch my life guide Wink? Wink was so devoted to me that he took this terrible job on this insulting game show! He was watching out for me. Not like that creepy fucking tool Dick Clark and his countless Illuminati-backed Pyramid shows. Did Wink do any fucking shows with obvious Masonic plants like Nipsey Russell or Michael Gross? I don't think so. He may be boring and kind of "Man in the Gray Flannel Suit"-ey, but at least his terribly tedious game shows are apple-pie American. As long as there are pork chops and electrical storm-related power outages in this country, there will always be citizens listlessly tossing dice, unhappily playing tic tac toe.

Wink is turning 72 this year, and he's still not letting me down. He's not on a game show any more (as far as I know), but he could be: he still looks exactly the same as when I first saw him back in the seventies. These days, he's doing ads for the lousy travel search engine Orbitz--but he's playing a game show host! So that's okay.

Well, it's mostly okay. He's got this recent spot out that kind of makes me think that he's unsteady on the beam. In the most recent piece, it's a pretty lame sell: Orbitz is pushing $200 discounts for travel to Mexico and the Caribbean. Whatever. Good old Stink is paired up with a racky brunette, which is nice, but at the end of the ad, something very alarming happens: Wink, still in his omnipresent suit, taglines to the camera, "And always remember to use protection!" The racky girl applies suntan lotion to her lovely frame, and then Wink, who has apparently become unhinged, applies the same to the arm of his suitcoat, rendering the sleeve a lovely cumshot sheen of white.

WHO WANTS TO TRAVEL?

But really, that's not the most damaging aspect of the ghastly scene. What's really crushing is hearing Wink talk in any way about "using protection." Now . . . look. Does Orbitz really want its potential customers to be in the frame of mind, when contemplating travel arrangements, to be thinking of a Methuselian game show host elliptically referring to rubbers? In the words of I. I. Rabi, who ordered that?

In the end, though, I forgive Wink everything. I want him to be with me forever. And I'm certain that he will be.

Thursday, 17 August
Wolfman: 'I Killed JonBenet'; Adds, 'Rrrrrrr'

10:11 PM PDT, August 17, 2006

BOULDER, Colo.--In a startling development in the infamous 10-year-old case of the murder of JonBenet Ramsey, a new suspect emerged today from an unexpected corner.

A hairy, raging Wolfman, appearing at a news conference at a Bangkok, Thailand, detention facility, told reporters he was with the 6-year-old girl when she died. "Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!" howled the creature, slashing at gathered reporters with vicious claws, foam dripping from his fangs. "Awrooooooooooooo!"

When asked if he was innocent, Wolfman replied: "GNAAAAARR!"

But Boulder District Attorney Lou Costello declined to comment on what evidence her investigators have implicating Wolfman. "Do not jump to conclusions, do not rush to judgment, do not speculate," he said. He also indicated that "public safety" concerns and fear that he might initiate a frightening killing spree borne of bloodlust or possibly undergo a mysterious supernatural transformation into human form had prompted him to have Wolfman arrested before his investigation was complete.

Assistant District Attorney Bud Abbott concurred with Costello's assessment, then appeared to disagree, and so on, eventually leading to a rapidly escalating volley of amusing wordplay that ultimately culminated in the two attorneys accidentally shooting each other in the chest simultaneously. The gathered press roared in helpless laughter as the two bled to death on the press platform, and then tearfully and weakly concurred that the entire display was hilariously emblematic of the bumbling nature that has characterized the investigation of the adorable white girl' murder from the beginning.

Many investigators and lawyers who have been following the case for a decade said that while they were hopeful the authorities had the right person, they were skeptical of Wolfman's confession.

"For one thing, 'Gnarrrrr' isn't really anything but an animalistic growl," remarked legal analyst Victor Van Helsing. "It certainly won't hold up in court." He added, "I should say as well that I have known Wolfman since he was a teenager. He raised himself up from a troubled, leather-jacketed youth to a kind man who found the strength from God to take the highway to Heaven straight to a little house right out there on the prairie."

"This confession seemed delusional," said another attorney, Vlad "Spike" Tepes, adding, "DEL-OOOOO-SIONAL!" while theatrically popping his eyes and waggling his fingers at this reporter. Tepes said that under Colorado law, prosecutors cannot obtain a valid conviction without evidence that corroborates a confession.

In a hastily convened press conference, the zombie Patsy Ramsey, who died in June of 2006 after a battle with ovarian cancer, would only say, "BRAAAAAAIIIIINS! BRAAAAAIIIINS!" before being hustled away by flacks from the Today Show, who reportedly have scheduled an upcoming three-day interview with the still-grieving undead corpse. Spokespeople from the Today Show are also supposedly in discussion with George Romero to appear.

In the meantime, confusion abounds in this controversial case, which continues to hold a nation in thrall. Newly revitalized Hammer Studios has announced a film based on the story, due to begin shooting in November, reportedly helmed by director Rob Zombie. Footage of Kirsten Dunst's character from 1994's Interview With the Vampire will be digitally altered for use in the film to portray JonBenet after early screen tests determined that Dakota Fanning was "way too ugly," according to industry reports. "Plate-eyed and screechy," was the assessment of another industry insider, who requested anonymity.

With the aid of noted parapsychologist and medium Tangina Barron, this reporter was able to contact the departed shade of JonBenet Ramsey, who when asked about her feelings about the investigation, would only comment, "Do you think I'm pretty? Tell me I'm pretty."

Additional reporting for this story was provided by Christopher Lee.

Monday, 14 August
Girls, Girls, Churl

This weekend the wife and I watched Cap'n Spielberg's most recent import-o-thon Munich. It was fine, if overlong, but maybe my attention span suffers these days from less ambitious projects such as Leprechaun Vs. Mecha-Spicoli in Space.

Anyway--and this is such a non-plot point that I don't care about spoiling it--at some point in the film after Eric Bana has slaughtered a bunch of dudes, he finds himself reunited with his wife, and is vigorously fucking her. You'd think he'd be delighted about this turn of events, but as he sweatily chisels away at her, we see that he's not! He is haunted by visions of all the violence that has infected his life to date, and hellishly, we see lots of guys being killed, replayed in his head, as he continues to joylessly fuck his wife. In this way, Spielberg explores the consequences of violence: for one thing, you might not like fucking your wife any more. For another: you might start to Hulk out when you're unhappily fucking your wife. It sure looked like Eric Bana was going there! But he didn't. Maybe he was thinking about Nick Nolte to rein himself in.

It was during this wrenching scene that I turned to my wife and calmly said, "You know, when we're having sex, I think about Arabs being murdered."

"That is so great," she said, looking appalled.

"Yep!" I replied. "Hot."

This sort of shitty behavior is really nothing new to me. I thought a bit about it over the rest of the weekend, and remembered some of the various ways I had maltreated the women who had passed through my life. I started to wonder: Why did any of these girls not stick a screwdriver into my temple?

Let's take the first wife, for instance, that incredibly ill-fated disaster. When we first moved to Seattle and got a tiny little studio to rent, for some reason, we found ourselves soon living in unbelievable squalor: beer bottles forever on the coffee table, recycling piling up in the corners, mutant rats chittering and wheezing as they swarmed over our comforter. It was really strange, and probably really indicative of how the relationship was bound to end up: condemned and unliveable.

I honestly do not remember the genesis of how this all transpired, but what I do remember is that among the empties on the coffee table was a liter bottle of long-since drunk Koala. And what I also remember is me saying, apropos of nothing, "That bottle's not so big. I bet I could fill it with piss."

The former wife begged to differ. "No way." So I marched to the bathroom and filled that sonuvabitch and emerged triumphant, holding the bottle of golden liquid aloft.

"See!" I cried. I set the awful thing down on the coffee table.

"Get that fucking thing off the coffee table!" she screamed. "You do it!" I countered. I was flush with victory and a good bladder-emptying. "I'm not touching it!" she cried again. "Neither am I," I said, and leaned back. We were at an impasse.

It sat on the coffee table for a week, until finally we had to clean up for some guests coming over. Who probably would have sensibly declined to do just that had they known what was occupying the coffee table for the prior week: one liter of cooling piss.

It is not surprising to me that we divorced, for a lot of reasons, but a lot of the time, I come back to that episode. I would occasionally sneak happy looks at the noxious bottle, and occasionally, I would half-tip it with my feet, threatening to break it, causing former wife no end of alarm. (I was the one who finally emptied it, glugging it out nervously into the toilet, wondering: Did we really just allow all that to happen?)

(It is also not surprising to me to remember that when the whole marriage fell apart, at one point, she launched a full can of beer at my head. It missed and completely destroyed a piece of pottery that she really liked. Which honestly? Was awesome.)

Later, I managed to completely infuriate a girlfriend by spending an evening wandering the neighborhood looking for places to eat, all the while bellowing every comment I had to offer in the voice of The Simpsons' Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel. "HEY MAW! LOOK'N AT THE CHI-NEEESE REST-RAWNT!"

"Oh my God," she hissed. "Will you shut up?"

"BRANDINE, YOU ARE A HELLCAT! WE'S GOT TO GET YOU BACK TO THE STRIPPER POLE SO'S YOU KIN WORK OUT YER EXCITE-MINT!"

"Shut up! Shut up!"

"YER STILL WORRIED ABOUT THEM SCABS! THEY FALL OFF, PICKIN' 'EM OR NO!"

It may be argued that sometimes I fail to recognize when to stop. It was, in retrospect, a tense evening. Later in the (brief) relationship, there was a me-drunken incident which ended with me catching a bus home at six a.m. wearing my pajamas and one contact lens. I'm still proud of the whole thing, as you might expect, and it never causes me to think about rending my own flesh, or casting myself into cleansing fire.

Oy.

But now, having been married for a few years to a good woman who seems to understand me (or tolerate me), I like to think I've calmed down. I've mellowed.

I'm long past those things like when I got engaged to my now-wife, without whom I cannot imagine existence. And I kind of mean that. Shortly after we got engaged, we for some reason--probably it was the terrible horror movies, even then--employed the phrase, "I don't want you to die!" I think usually after some young lover got an axe in the lungs or something. "I don't want you to die!" It was our jokey (yet heartfelt) in-joke.

Some short time later, though, I explained to the wife what I'd do if she did die.

"I'll get a little hammer," I explained, "and then I'll knock out all your teeth. Then I'll have your teeth strung onto a chain, and when I'm up to it, I'll go to friends' houses and parties. Occasionally, I'll hold up this necklace to my ear and rattle it, and when people ask what I'm doing, I'll say, 'Oh, nothing, I'm just talking to my dead wife.' Then I'll rattle the teeth at them by way of explanation. It'll be awesome." And here I would ghoulishly mime rattling her teeth-necklace in my ear with a wide grin. "Rattle rattle rattle!" I'd whisper.

"That is so great," she'd say, looking appalled.

I'm a lucky man.

Wednesday, 09 August
Another Day At The Office

Have you ever had one of those weeks at work where you feel harried every hour of every day, and then when you leave the office, you wonder what the fuck you actually got done? And you can't think of one good thing? That's the kind of week I'm having. I feel like I'm busting my ass while I'm standing still. It's just sort of rough.

I don't even know where to start. I guess I'm thinking mostly of this morning, when one of my new temps timidly crawled into my office on all fours, as is protocol. "Emperor, will you grant me a boon? I crave the perfume of the urinal cakes," he croaked. He clawed at his groin and rapped his forehead against my carpet several times.

"Quiet!" I hissed at him. "You'll disturb my bats." This was no way to start a day. I ignored the supine thing groveling before me and continued to feed my Turkish Prune Feasters with eyedroppers of blood, which they sucked on happily, screeching softly with delight. In the corner of my office, Whitney Houston rattled her shackles weakly, but I ignored her: she had displeased me and my bats, whose language she occasionally pleads in. "YEEK! YEEK! GIVE ME AN EGG!" she shrieked. Get fucked, Whitney.

In the meantime, the temp had fallen into a deep slumber, and lay pathetically on the floor, snoring deeply. I kicked him roughly in the ribs, shouting, "What is it, dumpy?" He jolted awake with an apologetic grunt. "Sorry, boss," he said, shooting terrified glances at Whitney Houston, who had begun unsteadily crooning "Got My Mind Set On You" and knocking a discarded shoe against her head. "It's just that . . . well . . . the copier died. And you know what that copier means to us. We can't cure cancer without it."

Damn! He was right. I kicked him in the ribs again and luxuriated in his painful moan. "You know what this means," I said to nobody in particular. "We're going to have to go through the army of Vampire Ann Coulters That Vomit Safety Pins." I reached for my whiskey bottle and took a swig. The temp urinated feebly on my carpet, but I barely noticed. "Let's move," I said.

I grabbed my trusty stapler and bounded into the hallway, where I was immediately met by a bat-winged Ann Coulter, who vomited a deadly jet of safety pins at me, screaming "Al Gore is going to fuck your neck! Pay attention!" I hurled the stapler and scored a dirct hit on her forehead, and she fell, flopping like trout.

"Soil is insulting!" howled another Ann Coulter, her leathery wings beating the air. She fell on the unhappy temp remorselessly, apparently unconcerned with genitourinary sanitation. I forgave the demon its gruesome repast, and fixed on the copier.

"F3! F3!" I screamed to the aether. Where in the hell was F3? The diagram made no sense, and I felt like I was digging around in the guts of an unfamiliar android. Which I suppose I was. I could still dimly hear Whitney's cries for eggs, and it grated on my ragged nerves. To make matters worse, the zombie Ann Coulters were weakly battering at the door, chanting "NUD! NUD! NUD!"

It's been a long week.

Monday, 07 August
The Incredible Dourness Of Prejudging Movies

Ah! It's August! We're nearing the end of summer, and therefore we're entering another gorgeous Hollywood time where the studios roll out all of the appalling detritus that was deemed unworthy of an actual summer release. It's a glorious time to be alive, particularly if you assiduously avoid movie theaters. Let's see what's coming up, and slag things accordingly!

Pulse

I have made it clear that I love IMDB wholeheartedly for so many reasons. One of the reasons is leering at cast lists for things like sure-to-be-disappointing J-horror movies. Pulse does not disappoint. Why do you not post a photo to IMDB, Tate Hanyok! If I had ovaries, I'd be clamoring for your essence, Ian Somerhalder! Please do not eat my face, Joseph Gatt!

(Mr. Gatt, whose credited role is that of "Uber Phantom," also has a delightful bio entry on IMDB, and the first sentence reads: "When Joseph discovered he was color blind at the age of 14, he realized that he would never be able to fulfill a lifelong ambition to be a pilot and fly fast jets." I was kind of a chickenshit kid, and only dared dream of paralyzingly slow jets, the kind that wait for baby ducks to cross.)

As with a lot of these movies, I fully plan on seeing it on cable someday. In fact, I might already have seen it! I think it was called White Noise. Maybe Joseph Gatt ate Michael Keaton's face! In fact . . . fuck all this! Can we have a two-hour movie with nothing but Joseph Gatt eating Michael Keaton's face? I'd watch that! Who wouldn't! It's the perfect horror movie. Or comedy. Or the feel-good feature of the year!

Say it with me! Joseph Gatt Eats Michael Keaton's Face! It's the Snakes on a Plane for 2008!

Speaking of which . . .

Snakes on a Plane

Yes, yes, the internet phenomenon that single-handedly catapulted a one-liner of a title into the Next Big Thing; a little help from willing caricature Samuel Jackson didn't hurt, and neither did his sudden enthusiasm for Shatneresque self-parody. Honestly. Does anyone really believe that this movie can possibly live up to the ridiculous heights of badness-slash-goodness that it promises? NOW WITH 25% MORE MOTHERFUCKERDOM! Jeez, Sam, really? You're not without talent, but is this where you wanted to go?

Look, I don't mind amusing internet memes or anything, but all I'm saying is, look what You're The Man Now, Dog metastasized into. This is going to be the movie analogue of YTMND. However, I fully expect that the incredibly fireproof Mr. Jackson--whose resume includes such excruciating feculence as S.W.A.T. and the Shaft remake--will come out utterly unscathed. Motherfucker.™

And speaking of trade . . .

World Trade Center

The career of Nick Cage is really puzzling. I first remember him lurking around the peripheries of Fast Times at Ridgmont High, where he apparently lost out the Spicoli role to Sean Penn, back before Penn had his sense of humor surgically removed. Here's some of Cage's more recent screen gems, some of which were allegedly seen by people somewhere, perhaps in the Kalahari:

The Weather Man (2005)
Lord of War (2005)
National Treasure (2004)
Matchstick Men (2003)

Hmmm. (National Treasure 2 is in the works, by the way, for everyone who breathlessly awaits more footage of Cage walking on rickety stairs. So is Ghost Rider, for comic book fans, and also people like me who would like to see Nick Cage's face on fire.)

So now we're faced with World Trade Center, Oliver Stone's plonking, minor-key tribute to heroic moustaches, as played by Nick Cage, looking for all the world like some guy who missed the cut for a Tom's of Finland poster.

Look, I'm not insensitive to the topic or its aims, but Nick Cage? And the gentle ministrations of legendary crank Oliver Stone? I can't wait for the soaring soundtrack featuring a soulful Blink 182 acoustic cover of "For What It's Worth." Frankly--and yeah, I haven't seen anything but the damn ads, so whatever, BUT--fuck this movie. I don't want to see it.

It doesn't even matter what I say, of course. It's going to get its ass handed to it by Talladega Nights. Make of that what you will. Oliver Stone and Will Ferrell.

Swell.










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