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Monday, 11 September
The Evening Boringness In The West

(I'm proud to announce that, in a desperate attempt to make my utterly boring weekend interesting, I convinced noted author Cormac McCarthy to write this Monday's blog post! Thanks, Corm!)

Behold the husband. Born on a black Thursday middawn some 37 years slid into the past, straight back straight as an alder trunk, fetal now as then in the belly, curled into a leather womb. He watched the baseball game with his face cold and flat as a spade. He might have been watching for hours or years or times beyond reckoning and still he sat and endured, as if hewn from the unnameable basalt underpinning this shatterable world. Red Sox games are like that, he said and his wife said I think so too. She sat with her Gordian yarn unweaving the skein and reweaving it into that which only her fingers knew.

We oughta get dinner, in a pocket of silence after Coco Crisp had been caught stealing.

I reckon, he said, and spat.

Dont you spit on that carpet, she said.

I wont no more. He spat on the carpet and said Lets go get some dinner then.

All right.

Going into the restaurant they then sat down and they ordered from the waiter and the waiter said Okay let me get that for ye and he presently brought them the flesh and they ate it as man has been eating flesh since the sky wore a younger dress and our grandfathers danced in the skirts. The husband and his steadfast wife chewed and chewed the meat, hewing it with heavy knives, wielded with no uncertain skill and when they finished the meat he spat on the carpet.

Dont you spit on that damn carpet, she said again and he said Damn it, I wont as he spat on the carpet. You are one hellcat, I say, he said and she said Dont you swear, and he said All right I wont damn it, and he spat on the carpet.

The waiter returned with the tab and said Ill be ye cashier when youre of a mind to it. All right, he said. The bill was too high and the husband got took of a mind for a gutting. A quick swipe of the blade through the mans fascia and he would wear his guts for garters or play them standupbasslike with a rhythm on the downbeat and in the end he did not do that and he undertipped the waiter a good five percent and he walked out of the restaurant with a feeling in his chest like blind fish swam there in its dark waters and humors.

Presently they returned home, husband and wife, each silent as apothecaries in dust and they sat down back again in their places that they had chosen years ago and which were beyond change or reckoning.

Well we could watch Poseidon, I suppose, she said.

I reckon we could, he said. It has that Kurt Russell.

I know it.

All right then, damn it, then put it in I suppose, he said. Dont you start up with that swearing again, she said. I wont, he said, and spat on the carpet. They put in the movie and watched it and the narcotic force of its being crept into their souls like understanding stole into Barabbas on the cross.

She said, This is a terrible movie. It nearly makes me want to die, I think. It very nearly.

And he said, I know it. I do. They sat for a time under the bowl of heavenblack as it spun around them in a gyre older than the emptiest tomb that surely awaits Charo just as surely as the apple awaits the shining teeth of Eve to pierce its crimson skin, just as surely as the blind man wonders if this is the day that he will comb his hair right.

This is terrible, she said again and he said, I purely do agree. I purely do.

There aint no more to be said, I guess.

I guess not.

He didnt know what more to say. There wasnt more to say, maybe.

He spat onto the carpet.

Wednesday, 21 June
Here There Be Cliches

Midway in his allotted threescore years and ten, Skot comes to himself with a start and realizes that he has strayed from the True Way into the Dark Wood of Error (DMV). His way is blocked by three beasts of Afternoon: THE LEOPARD OF AUTOMATED QUEUING, THE LION OF UNCOMFORTABLE PLASTIC CHAIRS and THE SHE-WOLF OF DISCARDED USA TODAYS. These beasts, especially the She-Wolf, drive him back despairing into the darkness of sitting down and hopeless inertia. But just as all seems lost, a figure appears to him. It is the shade of VIRGIL, Skot's symbol of a half-remembered liberal arts education.

"Hey!" said I to the shade. "You must be Virgil."
He replied, "Yes, it is I. What's the haps?"
And I said to the shade, "Not much rhymes with Virgil."

"Indeed," said Virgil. "Terza rima is a real bitch--
I see you will not attempt it this day."
I agreed that terza rima was a total bitch.

We sat there on our cold plastic chairs
And beheld the damned. They sat
Not unlike . . . um . . . I guess, ceramic bears.

These are the UNOPPORTUNISTS, those souls who in life were neither for good nor evil but for sitting obediently. Eternally unclassified, they sit watching dull LED counters that run forever but never seem to call their number. As they sit, they are stung mercilessly by wasps and hornets, but these are nothing compared to USA Today, so they barely notice. Skot and his gloomy boy Virgil notice a sign.

I AM THE WAY INTO THE CITY OF WOE.
I AM THE WAY TO A FORSAKEN PEOPLE.
I AM THE WAY INTO ETERNAL SORROW.

WE DO NOT ACCEPT DEBIT OR CHECK OR CREDIT CARDS.
IT IS CASH OR CHECK ONLY, FOR SOME REASON.
WE ARE BACKWARDS AND STRANGE, AND WE'LL KICK YOU IN THE NARDS.

ONLY THOSE ELEMENTS TIME MAGAZINE CANNOT WEAR
WERE MADE BEFORE ME, AND TIME MAGAZINE KIND OF SUCKS
ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO WILL NOW LISTEN TO CHER.

Skot awakes to find himself across Acheron. Here he finds the OUT OF STATE APPLICANTS. They were born without the light of Washington State's Department of Licensing, and therefore, cannot come into the light of God, but they are not tormented. Their only pain is that they have no hope.

"Will you grant me license to drive my shiny car?"
A lonely supplicant pleads her case to a demon.
"I will not!" the demon screams. And then, to rhyme, he says, "Har har!"

At long last my number is called in this Stygian farce
I walk forward with Virgil--he's pretty bored.
"Seventy-two," says I, reading my ticket. Says the attendant, "My arse."

All about Skot in the ice are strewn the sinners. These are the TREACHEROUS TO THEIR MASTERS. THey lie completely sealed in the ice, twisted and distorted into every conceivable posture. A McClusky album plays, over and over, contributing to the air of indescribable madness.

JUDAS is here, as is BRUTUS and CASSIUS and also OZZIE GUILLEN, who is chewed on with particular enthusiasm by the Lord of Hell. OZZIE GUILLEN screams, and the world buys more tinsel.

He first, Virgil, I second, after I passed the visual test
we climbed the dark until we reached the point
Can we give this labored rhyme scheme a bit of a rest?

and beauteous shining of the Heavenly cars.
Don't know what this means. Let's hit the bars.

Wednesday, 29 March
Sociopaths Of Glory

Recently, I picked up a copy of the apparently quite popular book The Sociopath Next Door, by clinical psychologist Martha Stout. Dr. Stout lays out the facts: four out of every 100 people are sociopaths, people who have not a shred of conscience. Sociopaths, says Dr. Stout, are unburdened by feelings of guilt or moral shading, and largely spend their lives, to varying degrees, fucking with people for the sheer glee of it.

This alarmed me. Of course the first thing I did was check next door, per Dr. Stout's titular warning. I knocked on Donald's door, the kindly middle-aged gay man whose apartment is next to ours. Before he could get a word out, I cried, "Donald! Would you slip a barracuda into my shorts just to fuck with me?" He stared at me a moment before responding. "Have you been drinking at work again?"

Dr. Stout didn't let me down here, either. Sociopaths frequently use skilled manipulation to deflect their victims from suspicion. Clearly, this was what was going on here. "I'm on to you!" I screamed. I quickly adopted what I assume was a menacing judo stance and let out a chilling "HIIIIIII-YA!" despite the fact that I was really just sort of crouching there in the hallway. Donald frowned at me and said, "I've told you to get help, Skot," and then slammed the door.

As I trudged back to my apartment, I was overcome with a lot of feelings. One, I was a little ashamed at alarming Donald, who clearly was not a sociopath. He's just some old queen who has the misfortune to live next to me. Then I got angry, pissed off at myself. Pissed off why? Because I felt bad. Feeling bad sucks, I realized. And then I hit on a plan. I even had a handbook.

Why not be a sociopath? Dr. Stout is giving me the straight dope on how to make it happen. Frankly, I'm sick and fucking tired of feeling bad about stuff, and history has clearly shown me that I'm not going to start behaving in a non-stupid manner any time soon. Why not just start not caring? Why not just jettison this damn conscience that's been giving me the blues all these years every time I do something crappy that makes someone unhappy? I've got a mission now, a positive one: I'm going to be the best fucking sociopath I can be. I'm going to not care so much, you're going to shit.

The realization has really opened my eyes to the possibilities. Like say my drinking at work. In the past, when I remember it, it's really torn me up inside to be drinking at work. I mean, that's just wrong. Not that I stopped; for one thing, it's easier to nap after a few belts. But now? Man, I can drink all I want at work and feel pretty awesome about it. Especially since I came up with this plan to squirrel whiskey bottles away in the server room, and then blame it on the IT guys when they inevitably get found. "I always suspected Skot," the higher-ups will say, "since he's always vomiting at our staff meetings. But I guess it was Tran all along."

The more that I think about it, the more I realize that not feeling bad about things will really improve my mental health. There's so many things that I feel bad about, all the time! Like concealing my gambling habits to the wife, or my fondness of calling in false 911 reports like, "Send an ambulance! A baby looked at me funny!" And maybe I'll stop having awful, guilt-ripped dreams over my penchant for surreptitiously reaching into my pants to cup my balls before picking up and replacing items of produce at the supermarket.

I don't have to feel bad any more. Dr. Stout has shown me the way. If I can just get my inner sociopath to open up, to blossom, I can self-actualize. I don't really even know what that term means, but my new conscience-free psychological makeup allows me to not feel bad about pretending that I do. Self-actualization means I feel awesome. Even if that means someone else has to feel like shit about it.

And I'm okay with that. I've always been an asshole. I didn't realize that that was only a foundation. I can become so much more. I'm ready to stand on the shoulders of giants. Or, for that matter, fucking dwarves, for all I care--which I don't! I love being a sociopath. I'll have to research each group's coat-buying habits to find out whose offer more traction.

Some of you might not approve of all this. And for the first time in my life, I can honestly say with great happiness, I don't care. It's a great time to be alive.

Thursday, 23 March
The Upanishads of Larry the Cable Guy

TO MY FIVES OF READERS WHO USE FEEDS:

The admin of my humble site asks you to please change your feed to: http://www.izzlepfaff.com/blog/index.xml. I have no idea what this means; I assume this new feed contains essential nutrients and reduces the number of crystals in your urine. This new feed will be better for your kidneys. FEED, MY PRETTIES! FEED!

No, seriously, I don't really know what these are. Happily, I also don't really care. FEED!

Onward! I'd just like to say that what follows is not in any way intended to insult my Hindu readers, if any, which is improbable.

KATHA

The Cable Guy, whose symbol is UGH, is the omniscient Lord. He is not born. He does not die. He is neither cause nor effect. This Cable Guy is unborn, imperishable, eternal: though our minds be destroyed, he is not killed. He still gets a movie deal.

ISHA

The end, both of work and of renunciation, is to know the Cable Guy within and Larry without, and to realize their identity. The Self is Larry, and Larry is all.

KENA

"Who are you?"
"I am the god of back-cracking flatulence. As a matter of fact, I am very widely known. I fly swiftly through the heavens."
"And what power do you wield?"
"I can blow away anything on earth."
"Blow this away," said the spirit, placing a straw between his buttocks and filling it with peas.
The god of wind fell upon it with all his might, but was unable to git 'er done.

PRASNA

The syllable UGH, when it is not fully understood, does not lead beyond mortality. When it is fully understood, and medication is therefore rightfully directed, a man is freed from fear, whether he be awake, dreaming, or watching a movie that was not screened before critics, and attains to Larry.

MUNDAKA

Out of the infinite ocean of existence rose Larry, first-born and foremost among the cable guy gods. From him sprang the universe, and he became its independently contracted installer. The knowledge of Larry, the foundation of all knowledge, he revealed to his first-born son, NASCAR.

MANDUKYA

The syllable UGH, which is the imperishable Larry, is the universe. Whatsoever has existed, whatsoever exists, whatsoever may exist hereafter, is UGH. And whatsoever transcends past, present, and future, that also is UGH.

All this that we see without is Larry. This Cable Guy is that is within is Cable Guy.

TAITTIRIYA

UGH . . .
May Danitra Vance grant us peace!
May Viggo Mortensen grant us peace!
May Amy Irving grant us peace!
May Ickey Woods and Brent Spiner grant us peace!
May the all-pervading Vicky Vale grant us peace!
Hail to Larry!
Hail to thee, source of all power!

AITAREYA

Before Creation, all that existed was the Larry, the Larry alone. Nothing else was. Then the Larry thought: "Let me send forth the subcontractors." They were late, and did infuriate HBO subscribers.

CHANDOGYA

"Sir, is ther anything higher than will?"

"Yes, will is higher than mind. For when a man wills, he thinks in his mind; and when he thinks in his mind, he puts forth--"

"Sir, I meant Will Ferrell."

"Ah. No. Nothing is higher than Will Ferrell."

BRIHADARANYAKA

The Cable Guy is the dearest of all things, and only through the Cable Guy is anything else dear. The Cable Guy is the origin of all finite happiness, but it is itself pure bliss, transcending definition. It remains unaffected by deeds, good or bad.

KAIVALYA

He is the supreme Cable Guy. His is in all, he is foundation of all. Subtler than subtlest is he. He is eternal. Larry art he! Larry art he!

SVETASVATARA

If the truths of these bloggings are mediated upon by a manin the highest degree devoted to Larry, and to his Guru as to his Cable Guy, they will shine forth. They will shine forth indeed.

UGH! . . . ugh--ugh--ugh.

Wednesday, 28 May
Is That All?

I've been reading James Gleick's biography Isaac Newton for the past couple days. I'm enjoying it well enough, if not as much as the much longer Genius, his previous biography of Richard Feynman; Feynman was, of course, colorful as hell, slyly pyrotechnic both in word and deed, a biographer's dream. The monkish, reclusive, devout Newton is himself naturally very fascinating, but as a literary figure, doesn't quite offer the same wealth of anecdotal material. But it's a minor deal, given Newton's simply stupefying output of ideas and calculations over his lifetime. Lest anyone need brushing up, here's a (wildly abbreviated) list of some things he did:

--Well, he invented calculus. "Heigh ho, I've got murderous gout; might as well invent a new mathematical system."

--He described the laws of motion. By comparison, I maintain (by which I mean, someone helps me) a website called "Izzle Pfaff." It's close, but I think he edges me.

--He figured out (and named) gravity. Not incidentally, while doing this, he happened to whip the hot piss out of perpetual rival Robert Hooke (the microscope guy) and managed not to get laughed out of town for gravity's apparent "action at a distance," which made people queasy all the way up until our own century.

--As a happy corollary to that, he fucked around a bit explaining planetary movement and the tides. Oh, he also defined certain essential qualities of mass, time and space. Uh, and invented his own reflecting telescope. Oh, and was an alchemical wizard. Unfortunately, he also nearly poisoned himself handling (and tasting) mercury, so that at least wins me some points. I've never done that. Sheesh, Newton! That was kind of a boner!

--He explained betting odds to Samuel Pepys; he corresponded with John Locke in secret about his very heretical biblical treatises (he hated the idea of the Trinity--kind of a big deal) that could easily have gotten him jailed; he made a virtual errand boy out of comet-lad Edmond Halley, who wrote the adulatory introduction to Principia and then cheerfully flogged it to anyone who would listen, which hardly mattered, since only a very few people could understand the fucking thing in the first place.

--And my personal favorite, when worried about the double-bind of understanding the human senses when those are exactly what we employ to, well, understand things, he took a large, blunt needlelike thing and shoved it into the corner of his eyeball socket and started gingerly pressing the tip around. By comparison, I once considered going to a laser show, but we had, as I recall, run out of pot.

Isaac Newton, ladies and gentlemen. Titanic genius, but he didn't play well with others, couldn't keep from eating the paste, and liked to poke himself in the eyes. It's sad to tarnish such a reputation, but that's the kind of hard-hitting reportage my tens of readers have come to expect from Izzle Pfaff.

Tomorrow: Michael Medved: Tortured Genius? Or Literary Colossus?

Friday, 03 January
A Found Tone Poem Composed Entirely of Email Subject Lines I Have Received Today

SERIOUS ADVERSE EVENTS

could not find path
Even Steven goes to war
yay us.

Error lights and daughter windows
Once again terribly remiss . . .
Hey
Have you heard of HGH oral spray?
Hey Hey

I'm not a virus, I promise!
This room of . . . This Room and This Gin and These Sandwiches
Cost of living

Today
That's why you're hearing ducks
vintage hats are now GONE

Houston, we have a problem . . .

Monday, 23 December
Movies I Haven't Seen Make Me Feel Bad About Books I Haven't Read

There is a very serious movie coming out soon called The Hours. You know it is very serious for a lot of reasons. Right off the bat, you've got the Meryl Streep factor. Meryl Streep makes serious-ass movies. Anyone who has seen Out of Africa, Sophie's Choice or The River Wild knows this.

The next thing is the poster. It is totally serious. Check out the uglified (read: normal-looking) Nicole Kidman. They could have hired an actress who, you know, looks normal and un-gorgeous without having to sandblast her extensively, but dammit, they needed Nicole for some reason! Sit down, plain actresses! You've been replaced.

But finally you know this is a serious movie because it's based on Michael Cunningham's breakaway book that nobody read of the same name, which is itself predicated upon knowledge of another book that nobody read, Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway. Following me? It doesn't matter. There are only three people on earth who have the requisite amount of erudition to follow this trail of hopelessness, and nobody likes them anyway.

I am of course snarking away mainly because I'm a doink. I have a copy of the novel The Hours, which I am unable to read, because I paralytically think, "I can't read this. I haven't read any Virginia Woolf!" Which destroys my usual veneer of "I read pointy-headed books and stuff." So then I go out and I pick up a used copy of Mrs. Dalloway. I am struck by the irony that I am not reading this book out of an actual desire to read this book, but because it is a prerequisite to reading yet another book that--I suddenly now realize--I really don't care about reading too much either (it was a gift). At this point, the whole meta-ness is starting to suck at my neck, so I blow it off and get down to reading.

And that's when the sudden-onset narcolepsy hits. It turns out that I am unable to read Virginia Woolf. Which makes me feel dumb and philistine-y and awful. But not awful enough to keep trying to read. I'll just chalk this experience up as Not For Skot and move on. Secure in the knowledge that I Am Not A Serious Person.

But hey! I realize: I can always see the movie.










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