skot AT izzlepfaff DOT com
Tuesday, 17 February
There's A Ghost In Me That Wants To Say I'm Sorry
Walking home from work today, while crossing the street, I found myself pulling a good old-fashioned double take. For I beheld, driving by, my dead grandmother, driving a shiny silver sedan. She was craning her neck to see better, in that grandmotherly way that says, "I'd better get a good look at who I'm about to run over." It was eerie. I'm turning into Hunter Thompson, I thought. I checked myself for ether.
I really gave her the eyeball, too; she was just a damn ringer. It was so stop-in-my-tracks obvious that it wouldn't surprise me. In fact, I hope she noticed; it might have thrown a charge into the old broad's day. Say! she'd think. That ugly little fellow is, as the kids say, checking me out! I've still got it! Then, if she really was like my grandmother, she would go on to distractedly say something really racist.
(It would always kill me when I'd visit my grandmother in LA when I was a kid. Driving around the Valley, every time she saw any graffiti, she'd mutter darkly, "Mexicans," and shake her head.)
Then, last night, one of our dining room lights blew.
Bear with me here, people!
So, yeah, when the wife turned on the dining room lights for dinner, a bulb--though, I found out later, not a bulb at all, but some ridiculously tiny little transistory-looking thing that frankly never had any business putting out that kind of candlepower in the first place--went pop! and scared the shit out of us, as it always does to everyone in the history of light bulbs. Well, whatever; nothing to do about it now. I wasn't about to climb up and fuck with removing the glass shade and all that, especially since we likely didn't have any extra bulbs around (and as we know now, we also don't have any alien technology in the house to replace the not-bulbs-at-all). We ate in the semi-dark and pretended to be cavemen.
Later, around 12:30, the wife was preparing for bed, and she began to turn out some lights. The dining room light refused to turn off.
"Okay, the light isn't turning off," she said. I turned and saw her poking at the light switch. Being an excellent example of the purposefully ineffectual husband, I immediately strode over to the recalcitrant light switch and poked at it authoritatively a few dozen times. The light remained on.
"God fucking damn it," I said, and stared at the fixture with a familiar blend of determination and hopelessness. You're going to climb up and fuck with that stupid ceiling light, and you're going to fail, and then you're going to get even more pissed off, I thought.
Which I did, in the process discovering the bizarre little not-bulbs that were clearly made by Thai children who bend wires with their teeth. The not-bulb continued burning furiously, and was too hot for me to remove, even when I tried wearing my very handyman-ish black leather gloves. The wife at this point had retired to the kitchen, where she rooted around for the little fire extinguisher that we keep handy in a bottom cupboard behind a Dutch oven and a stockpot. The nonresponsive light switch was on a dimmer; when the not-bulb went, it apparently took the rheostat with it. Our electrician Josh came out this morning to take care of it.
Why are you on a first-name basis with your electrician, you ask? WELL, I'M NOT. My wife is, and not only because she is fucking him on the side.
We met Josh about a month ago when on of our track lighting units croaked. Josh came over, briefly fucked my wife, and explained. A summary:
Prior to Josh's visit, one of our six-halogen tracks had a few dead bulbs. Being incredibly sedentary, we just sort of lived with the squinting half-lit existence until one of us broke (the wife) and went and bought some new bulbs. We had noticed on each bulb housing the label informing us that the max was 50W. Sweet! So finally one night we loaded the track unit with a bunch of shiny new 50W bulbs and basked in the shocking illumination suddenly brightening every corner of our living room.
"You can really see the cobwebs!" we cried. Then the lights began to flutter and wow in a kind of disco sequence, and then they all went out together.
We found out later that while each housing was definitely up to snuff for 50W bulbs, the transformer for the track was good for only 150W total, and we had tried ramming nearly twice that through the miserable little beast, and it kicked its electromagnetic legs up in the air as it died.
"Probably ought to put 20W bulbs in this track from now on," said Josh laconically. "See you Thursday," he said to my wife as he left. This was a month after the actual unit died, which was how long it took Josh to locate a replacement transformer sufficiently underpowered and puny to fit within the housing unit; Josh magnanimously took 15% off the bill total, which the wife later noticed actually turned out to be 10% when calculated. "No more front-butt for that guy," she said sourly, and I stood a little taller in the once-more illuminated room, angling myself so that the repaired lights fell most flatteringly upon my goiter, but I don't think she noticed.
So what does any of this have to do with anything else? How is this all supposed to hang together? Why are you reading yet another interminable blog entry? These things, while all stupid, have nothing to do with each other.
So you say. I have a better explanation. Poltergeists. Go ahead, call me crazy. I don't care. I'm clearly being haunted by malign spirits; I offer these vignettes as proof. You need more, you say? Fine. It lies in what I haven't seen, and here's what I haven't seen:
I haven't seen Josh fucking my dead grandmother. That would be crazy.
So it's got to be poltergeists. Nothing to do now but call Tangina. Great--another professional.
Man, she's going to fuck my wife, isn't she?
Tuesday, 10 February
Bad Will Hunting
When I was twelve years old, I went out to shoot gophers with my father and some of his friends. Basically, we just drove around on dirt roads and shot them in various fields; this was what passed for Grand Theft Auto in my youth. So in thirty years, when you're fondly recalling your memories of rocking out with Guitar Hero, your prepubescent children will be getting blow jobs from hairy roadies named Gordon. Hey, sorry, I don't make the future, I just report it.
So there we were, hanging out in the back of someone's pickup, shooting gophers. The adults were drinking beer out of cans; I probably was sucking on a lolly or something equally nineteenth-century dandyish. On the other hand, I was killing the holy fuck out of some gophers; for whatever reason, I've always been an excellent shot. It might have something to do with my ex-Marine father and growing up surrounded by guns. Or it might be my utter disdain for anything covered in fur, which would also explain why I shot my first three girlfriends in the vagina, but we don't have to bring up unpleasant mistakes of my youth.
Presently, in the midst of our rodent holocaust, a dust trail appeared down the road. It turned out to be a local cop--yes, it is true, rural Idaho cops often have nothing better to do than to patrol rural farmlands, looking for ne'er-do-wells or occasionally finding the odd near-death gopher to resuscitate. He pulled up to the truck, completely nonplussed by the fact that the truck bed was full of half-drunk men with rifles and one improbably lolly-sucking waif out of Dickens.
"You fellows got permission to shoot in that field?" he asked. Everyone laughed, but the cop didn't seem to mind. "You oughta get permission, fellas," he said. Then he noticed me, cradling my .22.
"Son, how old are you?"
I flicked a look at my father, who betrayed nothing. You were supposed to be 14 at the time in order to be shooting firearms.
"Sixteen," I warbled. The cop couldn't help but roll his eyes. So I shot him in the face. Fucking pigs!
Oh, wait! That wasn't me, that was a Joseph Wambaugh novel! (Wambaugh's middle name is Aloysius! Here at Izzle Pfaff, I'm all about dropping the knowledge that you never cared about.)
To make a long story even more endlessly boring, nothing happened. The cop warned everyone about the complicated gopher-slaughtering laws of Idaho state, and then drove off.
This was my first nominal experience with anything close to "hunting."
A couple years later, as every Idaho boy does, I took "hunter's safety," an extracurricular course that was required in order for one to obtain a hunting license. There really was never any question that any lad who wasn't plainly feeble would ever not take hunter's safety. You might as well have said, "Well, I've thought about it, and I've just decided not to grow a dick."
And soon enough, hunting season came along, back before my father's knees hadn't completely betrayed him; back when we were poor enough that bagging a deer or an elk in the fall meant the difference between a lean winter and a relatively hale winter in terms of meals. It was important. My father, for years, would (illegally) obtain hunter's permits for himself, my mom and me, just on the odds that he'd pull down more than one animal (though that never happened).
I hated every moment of it. I hated getting woken up at 3:30 in the morning, I hated being told weird, unsupportable things ("Don't eat so much snow--it'll fuck with your stomach"); I hated traipsing all over hell and fucking gone. I was a lazy little shit who wanted to sleep in. Shooting those fucking gophers was a lot less work.
We went out all the time during hunting season. (By the way, poachers are regarded as something less than human by actual hunters, and violators are subject to some really eye-popping punishments when caught.) I also learned one of the most venerable, weird maxims of hunting: your first kill should be a buck. I'm sure there's some juicy psychoanalysis going on behind this, but as I said before, I didn't really give a fuck. I went out because my dad expected me to.
One morning, driving out to the hunting ground of Dad's choice that morning, a deer flashed across the road while we were driving. My father skidded to the side of the road and grabbed his rifle.
"Let's go!" he breathed. "It doesn't matter if it's a doe." I was really confused now. "It doesn't matter," he repeated.
We loped as quietly as possible through the trees, following the doe's path as best we could figure, but she was gone. I was sort of disappointed, but for all the wrong reasons: I really wanted to shoot that deer just so I could get the thing over with, to pop my cherry and have done with it. I had been extensively schooled on where to shoot the deer; I could see it in my mind. I had aced my hunter's safety course; I had received a rather nice hunting knife for having the highest test scores.
Some days later, we were driving home at night, back to our place out on the prairie. And, again, a deer flashed in front of the car, missing us by mere feet. This was a buck--not much of one, really, but a handsome three-pointer for all that. Dad reamed out the brakes pulling over, and I whacked myself a good one on the dash, and then he was out of the car, screaming "Fuck!" I was still dazedly fumbling for my 30.06 when I heard a shot ring out.
That stupid deer. It got about thirty feet towards some undergrowth before my dad killed the beast; we were able to pull the truck right up to it so it lay dolefully in the headlights. I don't know what the fuck it was doing out in the open.
There in the headlights' yellow glow, my father instructed me. "We've got to clean this guy," he said, and smoothly pulled out his hunting knife, and then opened a large incision in the animal's belly. The deer's guts fell out onto the ground, and I immediately turned around and retched.
I still to this day recall my father's look when I could turn around. It was one of disappointment and, worse, contempt.
He never asked me to go hunting again.
Wednesday, 04 February
We're Overdue For Some Prejudging!
We don't have to dwell on the Super Bowl, really. Well, you can. I really didn't give a fuck, unlike our host Warren, an old Arizona resident who made it clear that anyone in the room who happened to be a Steelers fan was welcome to drink toilet water. Fortunately, everybody else in the room seemed to share my deep uncaringness; I was happy to root for the Cards--who at least made it a great game--if only because Steelers fans are the ubiquitous biting nits of the NFL world. They're everywhere, they're obnoxiously painful, and they swarm.
Along with the Super Bowl, of course, you also get the ads--oh, the ads! You don't want to miss those, either, so the Super Bowl presents real challenges to the average smoker. I don't even want to dwell on the ads, though--Seth Stevenson has that niche pretty much covered, although I was disappointed that he neglected to mention the cut flowers telling the crestfallen cube worker "Nobody wants to see you naked."
A couple of other ads carried fell portents: Transformers 2 is apparently in the works, hopefully--please--featuring even more robotic micturation upon John "Heineken Shaman" Turturro; and, not to be dismissed lightly, Land of the Lost, featuring one of my many nemeses, Will Ferrell. May he be eaten by Sleestaks.
(A lot of my friends--many of whom are sketch comedians--adore Will Ferrell. I emphatically do not, but I only mention this to say that I understand if you think I'm a complete toolbox for thinking this way. I only want to say this: Will Ferrell is not any kind of actor. He's just Will Ferrell. Say what you will about Robin Williams or Bill Murray [to pick a couple easy examples], they are capable of turning in nuanced performances [especially when matched with good directors]. Will Ferrell could dig up Kurosawa to remake Throne of Blood and still find a way to make sure the Macbeth character had a scene in his underwear. Fuck Will Ferrell.)
(I also don't find him terribly funny when he's trying for pure comedy, though he is a gifted mimic and seems fairly fearless, which is a good trait in any performer. At any rate, ask yourself, even if you're a fan of his: is mugging in front of CGI dinosaurs your idea of the best way to exploit his talents?)
I don't promise that I will stop with the parentheses, but now I'm aware of them. Anyway, let's see what else is coming to the movie theaters soon, and let us declare them terrible before even seeing a single scene.
The Pink Panther 2
Speaking of comedians who are capable of layered, complex performances, I am certain that Steve Martin will pull off a bravura performance in this film, much like he did in The Spanish Prisoner, Shopgirl and Cheaper By the Dozen. Plus that movie where dwarves shit on his back for a couple hours; I think that one was an Errol Morris flick.
Jesus Christ, what do you even say about this? Who watches this? Here's a few other prominent slummers in this thing: Jean Reno (okay, he slums professionally), Lily Tomlin, John Cleese, Jeremy Irons, Alfred Molina. WHAT THE FUCK, ALFRED?
There's a common joke/folklore that men sometimes, during sex, think of things like baseball statistics or the quadratic equation to stave off premature ejaculation. I'm a little different; I think of these things as a sort of mental bunker I can retreat to when ads for The Pink Panther 2 show up.
He's Just Not That Into You
Maybe if you bend your ankles back some more. HEY-OH!
This just kills me. A date movie featuring emotionally distant men. Sounds like a winner to me! Perhaps a double feature with "Playboy Presents the All-Shawl Girls."
Incidentally, girls, do you really want Ben Affleck or Justin Long into you? In any sense?
Thanks a fucking lot, Heroes. I know you're trying to unsuck, but movies like this aren't helping your cause.
This is just Doug Liman's catastrophic Jumpers updated to include more flying cutlery. On the other hand, it might be kind of fun to watch just because of Dakota Fanning. Now listen, I used to hate Dakota Fanning, but she's grown on me as she's, well, grown. This is mainly because that I like to think of how awesome it would be if in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button that Brad Pitt would gradually transform into Dakota Fanning. I think that Charlie Kaufman could script this in like three days.
Friday the 13th
For the fans who have been waiting for the directorial reappearance of Marcus Nispel (the 2003 Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, 2004's "Bone Thugs 'n Harmony: The Collection Vol. 2"), he's back!
I don't know about you, but I sure can't get enough of the remakes of old, shoddy, nihilistic 80s slasher flicks being remade into shiny new shoddier, more nihilistic, ghastlier films. I mean, don't get me wrong: I'll watch them. I won't enjoy them, but I'll watch them.
On cable. These movies are basically like spending a night drinking Natty Boh and staring at a bug zapper.
*Not to be confused with the OTHER Push, which recently won over Sundance audiences, and which frankly everyone should see. This harrowing yet ultimately human movie features over twelve hours of footage of my mother's excruciating labor. At the movie's climax, I am seen emerging from the womb, clawing at the nurses and wailing "NO! NO! CORD BLOOD IS SO DELICIOUS!"
It's directed by Marcus Nispel, of course.