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Tuesday, 30 September
Voivod Las Vegas! Wait, Is That Right?

On Thursday, the wife and I take off for the promised land: Las Vegas. Las Vegas. The land of milk and honey! No, wait. It's actually the land of ruined daquiris and crusted semen stains. Well, whatever. Some friends of ours are 1. huge Vegas fans and 2. getting married, so you see where this is all coming from. "By the power vested in me by the Nevada Gaming Commission . . . " and all. On the other hand, there's like thirty people or so all coming down for the festivities, so it should be a good time. The only way to take on Vegas is to travel in packs. You know, hence the Rat Pack. They traveled in groups to prevent Mafioso sten-gun attacks on Sinatra, and to make sure that roving rednecks couldn't string up Sammy Davis Jr. from a streetlamp.

See, the last time we were there was for our first anniversary, and it was just the two of us. This was a horrible mistake in that it was just the two of us. My awful persona that I've adopted here on this blog to the contrary, I'm just not capable of being a giant asshole in public--usually--and the wife is a freakishly wonderful person in every way, and that's no way to take on the demented fuck-scream that is Vegas. One needs to be insulated, one needs a posse, if only just because being in a group of people--particularly when those people are all actors and sketch comedians--allow one the freedom--nay, the responsibility--of becoming a complete and total shithead. This is what friends are for. Would you ever scream "SHOW YOUR TITS!" in New Orleans if you weren't surrounded by your pals? Of course not. Similarly, in Vegas, being surrounded by your friends means never having to feel bad about taking a shit in the big planters outside the Venetian while braying like a donkey. It's what you do.

The first time I ever visited Vegas (as an adult) was in 1999 or so; I had organized the trip just on a lark, and there were about ten of us, I think. We just went because, well, what the fuck, why not?

On the flight down there, J. creeped back to where we were all sitting, away from his girlfriend, and showed us The Ring. "I'm asking her to marry me," he unnecessarily explained. Well, awesome! Our little jaunt now had a cool narrative! Of course she said yes.

So then: the bachelor party. Which, since J. hadn't told us about, was completely unexpected. And nine years ago, I was much, much poorer than I am now. AND, of course, the cardinal rule of bachelor parties is: the groom pays for nothing.

J. naturally wanted to go to a strip club. In fact, he wanted to go to Glitter Gulch. I had no idea what to expect.

We got there, and J. promptly emitted a piercing shriek of glee and ran off to receive the first of what turned out to be a staggering number of lap dances. A comely lass approached our group and exclaimed, "Hi, fellas! Welcome! That'll be ninety-eight dollars." As in: apiece. What that got you was two drinks and the ability to stagger around in a daze while chicks clambered onto your table and shimmied. Dazedly, I pulled out my debit card and handed it over; entering a fuguelike Monkeybone-style universe, my credit card grew a cartoon face and laughed at me.

I was pretty rattled. Rattled enough that, when armed with my watery Budweiser and when confronted with my first dancer of the evening, I shot my arm out and immediately shoved a fiver into her G-string. She raised her eyebrows at me and said, "Oh, boy! Fast mover." Then she left. Ten seconds of girlflesh, and then the awesomely insulting realization that I was supposed to let her dance for a while before rewarding her. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see J. receiving his nine hundredth lap dance, burying his head reverentially into the dancer's cleavage. I imagined shooting J. in the face with a bazooka and playing with his discarded teeth.

In my storied career, I realize now that I should just stay away from strip clubs.

There is, so far, no indication that our groom has any intention of hitting a strip club, thank God. We'll be apparently spending most of our time in Old Vegas hitting the fifty-cent blackjack tables and getting hit with hammers by demented locals intent on stealing our shoes, which sounds pretty good. We'll be with friends. So when I take that giant shit into some hotel planter, it will be a friendly voice that announces, "Skot, that's an Escalade's sun roof." And, because we're all friends, I will elatedly scream, "SHOW ME YOUR TITS!" And then Kirk will sigh and bury his face in his hands and vow never to go anywhere with me ever again.

Wednesday, 24 September
Male Rites Of Passage

First Hospital Visit

According to available accounts--my mother and father--when I pushed off my father's chest with my feet at age two and fell, breaking my arm, it was accompanied by a cry that sounded sort of like "LOOP!"

Reports are unclear as to whether or not it was my revulsion for my father caused me to reject his loving embrace, or whether his disgust with his only son caused him to indifferently drop me to the floor. In any case, no child abuse allegations were filed, which today still causes me pain, and which is why, on holidays, I mail my father photographs of suffering children.

Second Hospital Visit

By now a seasoned veteran of hospitals, I reacted as any man would when told that his infected ears were packed with dried blood and needed to be vacuumed: I screamed so loud that my mother swore that I could be heard in space. I was, I think, about four. I don't know where my father was at this time, so I assume that he was out on the streets of Ashland, Oregon attacking children with a switchblade.

First Inappropriate Sexual Epithet

When Patricia impugned my kickball skills, I did the only sensible thing that a man could in the situation: I called her a fag. It should be noted that I had no idea what the term could possibly mean; this is most likely because a child as precociously manful as I was was simply genetically incapable of apprehending such an alien concept. At any rate, Patricia's rejoinder was, "Oh yeah? Well, you're a fag-got!" Only she pronounced it "fag-get." As I didn't understand the original term, you can imagine how bottomlessly mysterious found this new linguistic wrinkle.

I think I wondered for something close to four years what the distinction was. Fortunately, I was too fucking manly to ask anyone for an explanation.

First (And Only, I Hope) Time I Drank Piss

Ah, riding on the bus to baseball games. (I was a rarely used right fielder, mainly because I was terrible and I didn't care about baseball in the slightest.)

"Hey, anyone want a Sprite?"

"I do!" I had a manly thirst.

"Sorry it's kind of warm," said Jeff, handing me a can.

Fucking assholes.

First Porn

Freshman year of high school; a bunch of us were hanging out when someone wondered if we could score a porn movie somehow. Using my valuable--and piss-friendly--baseball team connections, I called Travis, a senior, who kindly rented Oral Majority 3 for us for five bucks.

"Have fun, dude," he said, tossing me the precious videotape.

It's confusing that I--or anyone--ever thought it would be a fun experience to sit silently for eighty minutes, with a bunch of other guys, all awestruck and wriggling to conceal erections, pretending that nobody in the room just wished they were alone so they could frantically jack it. No fewer than two fellows present that day later came out (long after they left Idaho). I use this memory to bolster my support for gays in the military, because those guys totally didn't try to suck my cock, despite my clear and potent manliness.

First Unfortunate Beer-Related Injury

One night while "partying," I decided to cross the fateful Rubicon of manhood that every young man must: the decision to open a beer bottle with one's teeth. I promptly tore a ragged gash down my gumline and into my lower lip, to the delighted laughter of all in attendance. The next morning, I probed the wound gently while looking in the mirror, knowing that the injury was basically unhideable. I trudged morosely into the living room that Saturday morning, where my father was watching something terrible on television, like apes bowling or something. He looked at me and covered his face with one hand.

"You fucking idiot," he said acidly. "Did you get the fucking beer bottle open at least?"

"No," I moaned softly. He looked at me for a moment.

"Same fucking thing happened to me. Did they laugh at you?"

It was here that I decided to forgive my father, a little bit, for breaking my arm all those years back. It's what a man would do.

Monday, 15 September
Kind Of A Schizo Post For You Here, So . . . Radishes

On Saturday, the wife and I had YET ANOTHER GODDAMN WEDDING to go to. With that screamed said, it was a delightful affair, full of joy and all that shit. No, really! Don't for one instant think that I'm not slagging on it like I normally would just because I have several friends (read: three or so) who actually read this blog. It is easily the finest wedding that I've ever attended where I was, prior to the main event, offered a kazoo.

It was an outdoor wedding down at Colman Park, which necessitated a ten-minute walk or so, which was fine for me--I merrily smoked--but less so for the wife, whose calves complained the next day what with the heels and all. It was also less then ideal for R., whom we gave a ride to, and whose disastrous knees are hollering still. My lungs = awesomer than heeled feet; calcified legs. Fuck you, joints!

Outdoor weddings are tough, you know? It was a gorgeous scene with perfect weather; I had a beautifully unobstructed view of a bridge in the distance where I could see trucks hauling what I assume was bales of pornography over the water into downtown Seattle. The water lapped gently against the shore, creating a lulling susurrus of sound that nicely obscured the words of every single non-actor who spoke at the affair, which was most people. Many of the small children in attendance were really taken by the surf, and begged to be dangled over the stone railing that overlooked the water; their parents, for the most part, obliged by dangling the children over the water. I silently wondered how many of the parents were tempted to drop these children, thinking, "Fuck parenting. I want to go to Spain." SPLOOSH! To their credit, no children were actually discarded on that evening.

The mime show continued with occasional audibility. The officiant--self-proclaimed ninja of that wonderful Internet institution the Universal Life Church (I myself happen to be a registered Druid)--did himself proud with a clear, ringing voice, and things proceeded apace when . . . this really great thing happened.

The wife and I were positioned exactly behind the groom--whom I will call "Joaquim"--and opposite the bride, whom I name "Spudge." Joaquim and Spudge are about as nice a couple as you could ever ask for, and totally game for most anything, so it was sort of perfect that this happened, which was this: as we stood there, lock-kneed and attentive, all of a sudden, right in front of us, this golden streak whizzed past us. It was an Irish Setter that had been playing in the water, and like a glorious missile, he streaked past us, right in front of us. He made a beeline towards the small little stage holding the wedding party and the family, and screeched to a halt right in the center of the proceedings. And shook himself mightily, throwing water over everyone and all in attendance. And then he shot back out of there like some divine, damp canine bullet.

Everyone broke up, because what else can you do? I think every wedding from now on should feature an overexcited wet dog intruding and shaking the shit out of himself right in the middle of everyone maundering on about THIS IS THE MOMENT and all that. I also think that this should also occur in the middle of all funerals. Fuck, I think wet dogs should intrude on all important events, like, say, sex.

"Oh, God, baby, your dick is so smooth . . ."

"Ungh. Yeah. I've been sanding it . . . "

"Yes! Yes! Yeaaahh . . . "

(A wet dog comes barreling in and shakes itself off.}

"AAAAAAAAHHHHHH!"

See? Awesome. I hope Joaquim and Spudge got wet-dogged on their honeymoon opener.

And here I said that I wouldn't shit all over their wedding. Way to go, me! It really was a fun time. Also, environmentally sound! Seriously, this was the greenest wedding ever. The caterers only served local, organic food that had been killed with the jawbone of an ass, or something, and the plates and utensils and even the drink glasses were made out of some mysterious corn mash that could be melted down into goldfish. I think. I might have the details wrong. Even the DJ only played Radiohead and REM. There's nothing like a warehouse full of white people jerking awkwardly to "Planet Telex."

I honestly wish them a gorgeous future full of wet-dog-shaking fantastic sex.

POSTSCRIPT: A little late, I guess, but hey. My tens of readers might have noticed my tendency towards hyperverbalism over the years, along with a certain unwillingness to edit, or, more fairly, to just fail to shut the fuck up. With this in mind--sort of--I acknowledge and grieve for the loss of David Foster Wallace.

I say that and yet I do confess that one of my first thoughts upon learning of his suicide by hanging was this: "You left your wife to find you like that? You fucking asshole." I waited to feel bad, and, after a while, did, I think.

Wallace was, to me, a thrilling stylist with a precariously high-wire voice. Who didn't get exasperated with all of those motherfucking endnotes? And yet who didn't read them all? (I sure did.) I charged through the spectacular Infinite Jest, two bookmarks and all, right up through the complete collapse of an ending; I carried that fucking brick around for five goddamn days, breathless to see where it was going; infuriated that it led to a deserted, gray beach. It is less a novel to me than it is a fireworks show, which sounds like I'm cheapening the novel, and maybe I am, but it's the moments I remember more than I do the overall work: videophony, football punters, and the simply sublime section on Eschaton.

I don't know. I found myself tearing up today reading various sendoffs to the man; there's a five-hundred-plus Metafilter thread about him. I didn't read everything he wrote, but I did read some of his coughs and hem-haws like The Broom of the System and Girl With Curious Hair as well as his frankly great essay collections such as A Supposedly Funny Thing I'll Never Do Again, which, to my mind, are the best things he ever did, even when I think he's completely full of shit.

I'm going to miss him. And you can't blame him for this, but I'm going to take this from him, for now: I'm going to try to keep failing to shut the fuck up.

Tuesday, 02 September
Love Is A Doing Word

The wife and I celebrated Labor Day, of course, by forcing labor upon our friendly neighborhood bartender at the Bar That Shall Not Be Named.

"Kevin," we said--see how bold I've become! Names and everything!--"Kevin, labor for us. Make us Lillet cocktails. Bring us warm nuts. Then do some jumping jacks. You will begin after our timed handclaps. Begin!" *clap clap clap*

We got everything but the jumping jacks. Washington State has some slack-ass bartenders, if you ask me.

As we sat there, nursing our first drinks, two lovely ladies entered. I would estimate their collective age to be nine hundred years. "Hello, ladies," said Kevin.

"WHAT?" The first lady bellowed. Here is where I began to love them. They sat down two stools away from us, gingerly climbing up on the things with spiderlike care and precision.

Kevin calmly put down a couple of drink menus in front of them; they picked them up and peered owlishly at them for a moment. The second woman slapped it down on the bar after the most cursory of glances. "I can't read this damn thing."

"It's dark in here!" cried the first. She craned her neck at the ceiling, as if searching for a lost sun. (It is a dark bar.) Presently, Kevin returned.

"Do you ladies know what you'd like?"

"WHAT?"

Kevin is a wonderful bartender. "DID YOU FIND ANYTHING YOU LIKE?" he patiently howled into their faces.

"What's your house vodka?" asked lady #1.

"Our well vodka is McCormick's," replied Kevin, making sure to put a little stink on "McCormick's," since, you know, it's disgusting. "But we also have--"

"I don't give a damn. That's fine."

Kevin couldn't quite let it go. "Did you want a garnish with that or anything? A twist, or a slice of lime . . . ?"

"You could put an olive in it and I'll pretend it's a martini if you want."

Here the second lady piped up. "I'll have a whiskey rocks. You don't have to tell me what it is. I don't want to know."

Kevin slumped and poured their drinks; I sat silently on my stool and tried to hold myself together. I loved these women.

After a little while, I decided I needed a smoke, and lady #1 happened to follow me out for the same. There is a cordoned-off patio outside the bar, and I usually go outside of it so as not to blow smoke at people who might not appreciate it; she joined me, clutching her miserable, terrible vodka rocks.

"You can drink out here, outside?" she asked, dipping her head to indicate the cordoned patio area.

"Well . . . you're actually not supposed to take your drink outside the patio area," I said in a friendly voice. "You could get in trouble if Kevin sees you."

"Trouble," she said acidly. "You tell Kevin good luck with trouble." She smoked hungrily--is there any other kind of smoking?--and shook her glass at nobody in particular. "This is a nice place," she pronounced. "I like it. There won't be any trouble. I'm a little old lady." I had nothing to rebut this particular argument, so I clinked her glass and said, "Indeed."

"You're a nice little fellow," she said. I stood a full eighteen inches above her, but yeah, I'm no giant. "Well, we try to be nice here," I replied.

"You do!" she agreed. We went back inside. Her companion was staring deep into the depths of her whiskey, apparently trying to discern some molecular activity with her incredible, goggle-like glasses; her eyes, when she looked at you, looked like emu eggs.

"Welcome back!" she cried. She seemed genuinely delighted to see us return, as if we'd survived some alarming safari adventure rather than just wandering outside to lean up against the newspaper machines and share a smoke. She had that great old querulous old-lady mouth thing going on where at any moment she could possibly either burst into tears or gales of laughter.

Eventually, they finished their terrible drinks. Settling up was next.

"I've got it!" cried the first lady. The second lady gave no appearance of hearing this, and casually pulled out a ten (their bill: six dollars).

"No, I've got this one," she said over the protests of lady #1, who had only a twenty.

She leaned over to me. "She lives next to me. She has two cats. If she doesn't get me back, I'll kill them." And she smiled.

"What did you say? You said something about my cats!" wailed the first lady.

You hang around the right places, and all of a sudden you're in a Roald Dahl story.

"What did you say about my cats?"

I hope they live forever.










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