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Thursday, 15 December
Turn Around, Stand In Place

In these holiday times, it's always nice to take a moment and think of home. And why you left. And why it was so great to leave.

I mostly grew up in a small town in Idaho, with a population just over 3000. It sits on the prairie just sort of where the panhandle starts, so it's kind of like where it would be pretty hot to hold on to if, say, you were frying an egg on Boise, which really, I wish would happen, because there isn't much other use for Boise.

(People in other states I'm sure would agree with me, but they probably wouldn't care or even notice if the entirety of Idaho were to be used as a giant omelette project. Once, visiting my grandparents in Los Angeles as a kid, I was asked by another kid where I was from. "Idaho," I said. "Oh yeah!" she replied. "That's over by Torrance.")

My hometown is not really remarkable in any way, least of all for anyone who has done some time in small towns. Everybody knows everybody, which can be good sometimes ("I heard you like apricots, so I brought you some from our tree!") and of course sometimes really horrible. ("That hooker you fucked and then stiffed for fifty bucks was my cousin. She called me from the car wash.") It is, in fact, so unremarkable and so blandly iconic in its small-town ways that one wonders how on earth my parents--who met in L.A.--ever decided upon it out of the thousands of identical little towns dotting our country. My best guess is that it's where they ran out of gas.

As I mentioned before, it's a place where everyone knows everyone. Or, at least, everyone who wasn't me. Being the callous little asshole I was--and remain--I never really bothered to imprint but a few people permanently onto my mind. The people I did remember were: 1. my close friends (sparse) and 2. the people who wanted to beat me up (many). And I still remember them clearly! Hey, Bill! You still a metalhead? Hey, Clay! Why did you punch me at that dance?

This horrible mass-deletion of all of these people kind of bit me on the ass when I idiotically went to my ten-year reuinion a few years ago. I failed to recognize an old crush of mine after she had gained some weight and stared at her blankly, and I actually did say, "Who are you now?" Classy! To make it all up to everyone, I drank too much at the horrible dinner and kissed the former homecoming queen passionately (quite surprising her) before I stumbled out into the night, cackling on my way home. I made a tremendous effort for the rest of the visit not to see anyone, and I'm thinking I'll give the twentieth a miss.

My hometown is, in many ways, completely unchanged. It does seem to be going through this dreary sort of urban-migration woe, which afflicts so many rural areas as people gradually fall into the gravity wells of larger and larger cities, but the folks there endure. There are, I understand, just as many racial groups as when I left so long ago: One. Just white people. And in terms of spiritual diversity, as spicy as we got were the Mormons and the Jehovah's Witnesses. I spent a good portion of my youth really, really confused about these mythical "Jews" I would hear about every now and then. In rural Idaho, I think you had to go to a ski resort to see one of these cryptozoological specimens. "Daddy! Is that a Jew?" "Yes, son. He's practicing one of his people's rituals called 'telemarking.' " "You mean he's calling you at dinner to sell you something?" "I think so.")

Off-color jokes are still bandied about freely in these places, as they always have been. A company that I used to work for had (and maybe still does) an employee that was half-Arab. His inevitable nickname was "Sand Nigger." Understand that he was definitely not ostracized or beaten with sacks full of oranges: that was just his nickname. The jokes and epithets you learn as a kid are the ones that, at least for me, stick. I have an inexhaustible store of hideous jokes that I can never, ever tell. I clearly remember in fifth grade calling a female kickball competitor a "fag." She responded, "Oh, yeah? Well, you're a fag-get!" Really hitting that second syllable. I of course had no idea what she was talking about (or what I was talking about), but it really bummed me out at the time, as I was sure there was some important distinction I was missing about these terms.

For my senior year in high school, in 1987, the school play was, inexplicably, M*A*S*H. I played Duke, the little-remembered character from the movie played by Tom Skerritt. Anyway, remember the Spearchucker Jones character? He was the black guy of the movie, basically. We didn't have any black kids in my town. So how did we handle it? We sent out the quarterback of the football team done up in blackface.

1987. (The only uproar about the show--which was abominable, of course, as all high school plays surely are--was when the Radar character upstaged everyone by picking up a Playboy magazine.)

It's coming time again to go back. My folks are due for a visit, and I'm guessing it'll be perhaps next Christmas, or possibly the following 4th of July, when the town literally explodes in a cowboy orgy known as Border Days, one of the oldest rodeo events in the west. "You can get together with your old friends!" my mother importunes, probably not knowing that I don't really care about most of those people. I barely remember their names. I still burn with shame when I think of not recognizing the old crush who got fat. "You can go to the rodeo!" she also says. Which isn't as weird as those of you who've never been sounds: Rodeos are kind of unreal. Maybe you don't really want to see a guy stomped into paste by an angry, nut-twisted bull, but it's pretty good theater, really. And I once watched one of those crazy fuckers leap a ten-foot-tall fence and run amok in the surrounding neighborhood. One year, a horse broke its leg in a bronco-riding competition, and had to be shot in the head just outside the arena. Everyone heard the shot. The announcer stoically said, "You hate to hear that." It beats the shit out of the WWF.

"Home" is a funny thing. You can't wait to leave it, and you sort of dread it when you go back. And then, when you're all done with your return visit, you feel strange and lonely about going back--back to whatever you've replaced the original with as "home."

Neither are bad places, in the end. For me, it's just hard to leave them, and to come back again.

Tuesday, 11 October
Rilly Big Shew

Skot and the wife are TAKING THE STAGE BY STORM! Because we hate and fear other actors, and have decided to hunt them in their natural habitat. They are distressingly easy to kill.

No! Not really. At least about the killing part. Yet.

The wife (one reader has begged me to not refer to my wife as "the wife" on the basis that it sounds callous and as if I do not much like her, so I might periodically refer to her now and again as "the husband," or perhaps "Ethel Rosenberg," depending on my mood) opened up a show on Friday, an annual event at Open Circle Theater here in town in which three HP Lovecraft stories are adapted for the stage. The stories are adapted in such a way as to play up the complete ridiculousness of many of Lovecraft's themes but to also give a nod to the still-creepy atmosphere that he was justly credited for. Think of it as Desperate Housewives, except that in the end everyone dies horribly at the hands of fish-faced alien races.

Anyway, I had a lot of fun at opening night, and it was good fun to watch good old Ethel not betray her country and get the chair, but instead gleefully inhabit the roles of various crazy ladies. The wife does get a lot of work playing crazy women, and I'm not sure what that says about her, but it might explain the new fondness for knitting. Don't all crazy ladies knit? I think the Elder Gods might be crouching inside my wife, Ethel Rosenberg, and are causing her to knit, and to possibly betray my country. Fuck, man, I hope she doesn't get the chair. Her knitting isn't that bad.

Anyway. I also find myself suddenly back (sort of) doing theateresque things: sort of. I agreed to do a little three-day deal called the Brown Derby at Re-bar. The Brown Derby project has been going on for some time, and what they do is take terrible Hollywood films and put them onstage in utterly mutilated form, using drag queens, dance numbers and relentlessly funny script-savaging. I've done one before, when we eviscerated Halloween a couple years ago, and now I've been called on again to come defile one of our old classics.

We are doing Flashdance. I will be playing the Michael Nouri role--he's the creepy-ass bossman who seduces Jennifer Beals' spunky (shaddup) welder-slash-nightclub dancer (played, of course, by a man, unlike me, who will be played by me).

These things are done intentionally slapdash, with scripts in hand--deconstruction is the order of the day, not professionalism. And I am blessed with a great cast, who have all begun making hysterically funny contributions, which is good, since I've totally got nothing.

This is not a cry for support! I've literally got nothing. I'm glad others do. But do you remember this awful movie? The Michael Nouri role is: kinda slimy 40-ish guy fucks his hot welder/dancer employee. I'm not even blaming the role. But I've got nothing here. Yes, I'll get some laughs for shoving my tongue down the throat of the Jennifer Beals drag queen, but how hard is that? (SERIOUSLY, SHUT UP!) I am nervous. Tonight we had a rehearsal to work on how we were going to viciously maul all of the dance scenes, and I was so hopeless at dancing badly that I was asked to, like, not dance at all. I'm so terrible at dancing that it's literally not funny! (And true story: when I tried to emulate a Bealsy dance move, I hurt myself terribly . . . I tried to do this kick-thing she does in the "BIG AUDITION" dance scene, and it felt like lizards were biting my triceps. I moaned audibly, and it was about then that I., the director, explained that I was excused from the number. I wandered off for a cigarette, feeling like Ethel Rosenberg, my wife, walking to the Chair.)

This is the actor's life: ongoing bouts of crippling self-doubt occasionally relieved by flashes of intense humiliation. There are reasons why we drink. Especially those of us who cannot dance, or come up with good comedy bits for their lousy characters, or who happen to marry Commie spies.

And I keep coming back.

Friday, 05 August
I Have Lofty Goals

At around 9:00 this morning, sitting in my office, I had a revelation. A revelation that left me breathless with its profundity, its uniqueness. It hit me like a thunderbolt, but without the burn scars and neurological failure. Surely nobody has ever had this feeling.

Work sucks, I thought, spinning idly in my office chair. I don't feel like going to work any more. I know! Freaky. I am apparently the Immanuel Kant of my age. I sat for a while, wondering at my staggering thoughts, and then I had to take a piss, and some of it dribbled onto my shorts, so that was a bummer. I cheered myself up by thinking that surely Kant occasionally got some piss on his pants at some point during the creation of Critique of Pure Reason. Probably Tommy Locke, too. I'm betting that guy pissed his pants all the time. "Just because I got some piss on my pants this morning," I can hear him saying, "doesn't mean I will get piss on them tomorrow." Fuck yeah! Tommy Locke was the Bret Boone of his age. Just because Boonie hasn't had a homer in three years doesn't mean he won't hit four tomorrow! Even if that means he has to do it against Harold "Aint' Got No Arms" Femelhebber, who pitches for the Bakersfield Sawdust!

These are the things I was thinking about when I decided to take tomorrow off.

What am I going to do tomorrow? Well, I guess the first thing I'll do is get some piss on my pants a little bit. And then I'm going to watch me some TV ads. There's a bumper crop out there! And not just the stale old Vehix ads that I've already complained about, and give me bouts of incontinence. There's newer stuff!

For example, the humiliating ads for Red Roof Inns (whatever the hell those are). They are horrifying and delightful, and look like they were shot in a country whose currency valuation is pegged to Safeway coupons. In one, a fellow is limbo-ing on his hotel bed, and crows, "How low can you go?!" Apparently referring to the relative inexpense of staying at a Red Roof Inn, but only highlighting the relative inexpense of creating the ad itself. In another spot, a fellow is watching TV, and says, "The chances of working tonight are . . . remote." And he holds up a remote control and gives a big fake laugh. It's like watching student films made by the bongmeisters at Delta Rho, and they are about as funny as infected hangnails.

But in the end, you kind of have to laugh, because, come on: Red Roof Inn? I have no problem with cheapo hotels at all, but neither do I expect them to come up with ad magic either.

This brings us to some Coca-Cola ads. They do have money.

Which is why it's so baffling that they're choosing to disinter the old 70s chestnut ad with the hippies who sang "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing"--which became an improbable radio hit song for some group of session musicians who called themselves the New Seekers--only clumsily updating it for our new generation, in the form of an embarrassingly, obviously totally uncool scrubbed group of hilariously non-indie kids. "I'd like to teach the world to chill," sings a guy on a rooftop, who is surrounded by various immaculately groomed mycoteens squatting fungally around him, joining him in his awful paean to HFCS-loaded serum that will one day TAKE OVER THE WORLD, and god help you, Pepsi! We've got the pod-kids on our side!

So that's what I'm doing tomorrow. Better than working, I say. Just sit around, watching ads. And maybe occasionally pissing on my pants.

Beats work.

Tuesday, 19 April
The Dark Backward

In college, I was on the booth crew for a production of Lysistrata which happened to use these groovy things called, if memory serves, periaktoi. These were tall triangular dealies set upstage that had different scenes painted on them that could be turned to change settings throughout the play; by cannily rotating them, one could display not only different scenic views, but also artfully arrange them so as to provide entrances and exits for the actors. Very Greek, or something. The stagehands--in Greek dress, of course--whose job it was to manipulate these things were called, inventively, "periaktoi turners."

I will never know how people let themselves be convinced to do these sorts of theater jobs. You get zero stage glory, and are in fact very lucky if the actors bother to notice you at all (unless you fuck up, in which case you will be noticed very quickly). You work the same hours as the rest of the people there, except that your job is boring, menial and mindless. Have you ever heard anyone brag about being a stagehand?

For this show, the stage manager hung out backstage; he was a big football-playin' kind of guy named Greg (he was also an actor, but he was fulfilling part of his degree requirements by stage managing). One of the periaktoi turners was a horribly shy little thing whose name is lost to me now. All I remember was that she was painfully self-conscious about being onstage, particularly in a scant little toga-thing, even though all she did was turn these big dumb things around all night.

One night she went out onstage to do her thing and rotated the periaktos into position, which happened to block her from getting back offstage. Usually, after getting it into position, she would crack a small opening for herself, slip backstage, and then adjust it back to its position. However, on one night, Greg was standing backstage, and from his perspective, noticed the in-position periaktos start to move. It was shy thing trying to slip backstage. But Greg thought, "Uh oh. This thing is slipping." So he put one beefy hand on it to prevent any motion.

Shy thing tried to move it again, but she had no hope of budging Greg, who had a hundred pounds on her and was involved in headset chatter anyway. I saw this all from the booth. She pushed. Nothing. She pushed again. Nothing. Actors were filing onstage, ready to start the scene, and eyed her curiously. She noticed the actors. She knew she wasn't supposed to be there, and there was nowhwere to go: all other exits backstage were being used by the actors. I watched in horror as she turned out full to face the audience, and seemed to crumple under the weight of its collective stare.

She burst into tears and then ran off the stage, up through the audience and out the exit doors, sobbing like a fresh widow.

We were out one periaktoi turner.

-----

In another college show, I was in a production of a minor Pirandello piece called The Rules of the Game. This show, which features kind of a broke-leg love triangle and a WHOLE LOT of windy bullshit about the philosopher Henri Bergson, was just about enough to put even the stoutest of audiences to sleep (we were not helped by the director, who insisted on a black-and-white checkerboard floor, to represent the GAME OF CHESS that the characters are playing . . . genius, dude). It certainly put me to sleep, and I was onstage.

One night while enduring some dialogue about fucking Bergson, I started to think about a recent successful date and how to follow it up. I had some grand plan built up too, damn it, because I was really proud of myself for whatever I had come up with, but then I noticed my fellow actor looking at me with a rather piercing, expectant look. It was obviously my line. Unfortunately, I had traveled so far with my woolgathering that I hadn't the faintest damn idea where we were. I could barely remember what scene we were in. How does the master actor recover?

I cleared my throat politely and said, "Come again?" Very period. The other guy fixed me with a glare of purest hatred and replied, "What? You're wondering about Bergson's attitudes on blah blah blah blah . . . ?" Whatever. He was cuing me for my line.

I recovered just fine. But typically--for were we all not just little buttholes when we were college students? Because I sure was--for the rest of the scene, I felt a burning resentment towards the other guy for making it plain that I had blown a line and he didn't like it. So I tortured him for the rest of the play by occasionally fixing him with blank stares before saying my line, feigning more memory lapses. By the end, he looked like a pithed frog trying crawl around the stage. Me? I was just a big fuckhead. Sheesh.

(Different night, same play: At the end of act one, I am on a chaise with a lovely young actress, and as the lights go down, we slowly begin to engage in a sexually charged embrace. The lights are supposed to be out before we get anywhere. But one night the stage manager blew the cue, and so as I lowered myself down to her, the lights remained blazing. This is great! I thought, as she had no real choice but to start passionately kissing me. I have no illusions that she shared any part of my thoughts on the matter. In fact, after the lights finally did go down, she hissed at me backstage, "What the fuck was that?" Even then I could make the ladies swoon.)

-----

In a show I did here in Seattle called--it was hugely successful, by the way--Poona the Fuckdog and Other Stories for Children, one of my roles (backstage, on a mic) was that of a powerful computer that seduces a child named Suzy Suzy into committing murder by just pressing buttons on her PC. I adopted a smooth, radio DJ kind of voice to "be" the computer.

Okay, here's the thing. I'll just come out and say this. I had a really stressful meeting earlier in the day, something that involved theater company business, where feelings were vented, tears were shed, etc. Anyway. I had too much wine to drink.

THIS IS VERY BAD. GOOD ACTORS DO NOT SHOW UP TO SHOWS LIQUORED UP. And yet. It wasn't my finest hour.

In truth, I coped pretty well. I didn't fuck up spectacularly or vomit or anything (but still--very bad!). But when it came time to do the computer voice, I hit a snag. During one of my lines, my tongue tripped on itself and I made a very audible blunder with a line. This would not do: computers don't drunkenly slur their words. So I stopped in mid-sentence. I thought for a half-second. Then I smoothly ad-libbed:

"Sorry. Disk error." And continued on with my line.

The onstage actress said later that she thought she was going to cry. Incidentally, the same actress on another night stepped on my foot as we were crossing onstage. I was in a frog costume. (Look, don't ask. My roles in that show were [seriously] Shrub, Frog and the Computer.) When she stepped on my foot, she inadvertantly tore off my big floppy frog costume foot. I yelled, "Jesus, lady, that really stings!"

-----

Finally (though I have so many more of these, Lord), a show I did called The Naked King, which was a kind of conflation of about nine different fairy tales into one story. Anyway, I was playing the sidekick to the hero, and the two of us spent a good portion of the show in disguise, wearing terribly itchy fake beards and mustaches. After one scene ended, I exited, and relievedly tore off the fucking beard and threw it into my little storage cubbyhole. Time for a little respite from the accursed hair.

Then I heard my entrance line. What the fuck? Yes, I had completely de-brained where we were in the play. I did not have a break at all. I was supposed to be onstage right now. I pivoted on one foot, trying to travel in nine different directions at once as all my neurons screamed to me to fix this, this is bad! I had no time to put the beard on and get the elastic straight over my head or anything: it was my line and I wasn't on stage! The actors out there were really fucked.

So I grabbed the beard and jammed it into my mouth, holding onto it with my teeth. It must have looked like I had gone feral and hunted down a mangy rat. I ran onstage.

"GOOFER BLIGHT NEN GO MY!" I said. I had a nasty old stage beard in my teeth. I wasn't the height of enunciation. My co-actors stared at me as if I had run onstage brandishing my naked penis. One of them immediately stopped looking at me and stared only at the floor in a kind of instantaneous catatonia. The other guy twitched his eyes at me spastically; I could see he was fighting mightily not to grin, and tears threatened the corners of his eyes. He choked out his next line to me, and I dutifully responded: "Diff chin gay moe." The hair was starting to tickle my gums.

I don't know how we got through that scene. I can tell you that we got some serious laughs, though.

It's stuff like this that makes me think that I'll go back someday.

Thursday, 14 October
He's Leaving Home

To be honest, I don't have much gas left in the tank this week. Sorry about that--work has been, well, hellish, and next week I have to go to Kansas Fucking City for work. This would be great (if disturbing for my wife) if "fucking" really was part of the Kansas City equation, but it is not. I'm pretty sure that an oncology consortium will be largely fucking-free. Especially for anyone who gets treated to the penile cancer slide shows that I've heard so much about.

"Here's a horizontal cross-section of a diseased penis. And now our lunchbreak!"

Anyway. I myself happily do not have to attend any graphic penile cancer presentations, so I'll have to content myself with whatever varied joys the lymphoma and melanoma folks have concocted. If I'm really lucky, someone will have some good splenomegaly films.

So posts are going to be here and there for a couple weeks, just so you know. I had a conversation recently with cancer about this:

Skot: "So, cancer, why be a dick? It's hard to work around you sometimes. I have a crappy blog to maintain."

Cancer: "Yeah, well."

Skot: "That's not even an answer."

Cancer: "Sorry. I wasn't paying attention. There was this guy in Montana."

Skot: "What the fuck? Now what? Eye cancer?"

Cancer: "It's an expansion market."

Like I say, I'm out of gas. And it's just going to get worse once I have to leave town. I hate being away from my girl, and it makes me behave erratically.

Actually, I've already started. Tonight:

[The theme to "Law & Order" begins. Skot adopts a cruciform pose and begins wriggling his hips. This is horribly unfunky.]

Wife: What are you doing?

Skot: [still gyrating] I AM THE DISCO CHRIST! I DO WHAT I WANT!

This is the Disco Christ, signing off for a while.

Wednesday, 29 September
The Others

Today he stood by a recycling bin, feeling at the lid of the container and rattling it slightly, as if divining its contents. His white cane rested against the store wall, and he looked up into the air as always. When he heard my footsteps, he wheeled on me and I hate this guy.

Let me back up. There is a fellow, known to probably any long-term resident of the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, who is (1) blind, and (2) perhaps homeless, but this is indeterminable, and (3) in the ultraviolet spectrum of "fucked up."

He can frequently be seen on Broadway, calling out to passersby, "EXCUSE ME! EXCUSE ME!" As he is obviously blind, this traps many people, who then sometimes quite helpfully--if they are new fish--accede to his outlandish requests, such as escorting him into stores to aid his shopping, which he will then ask for his victims to pay for. (When unaccompanied in stores, he simply enters and immediately begins shouting demands: "I need some tomato soup and some bread, please!") I have seen him get people to lead him into bars, where I can only assume he then presses them to buy him drinks.

When people walk right by him without acknowledging his cries for help, he delights in lobbing harangues after them: "Hey, that's great! Just ignore the blind man!"

I know this isn't painting me in the best light, but frankly I don't care any more. I'd feel worse in the grand liberal tradition if I thought the guy was radically unhinged, but really, I think he's just a titanic ass who exploits his disability at every single turn. Maybe he is homeless. Maybe he is a victim. Maybe he has mental problems (and here I see him aimlessly rattling at recycling bins again). But my impression is, he's just a big turd who won't leave my neighborhood.

I do know that I have no reason to disbelieve an old coworker of mine named M. (sorry, initial-haters, that's just the way it is), who had her own special encounter with the fellow. M. related the scene to me thusly:

M: I know that creepy blind fucker. He stopped me on the street once.

S: Why did you stop?

M: I didn't know who he was then. I felt bad because he was blind.

S: What did he want?

M: He wanted to give me fifty bucks to go back to his apartment.

S: You're joking.

M: You don't even know. His idea was that he would strip naked and then I was supposed to break albums on him.

S: (Pause) What?

M: He wanted me to break vinyl LPs on him while he jerked off.

Never has there been such a time where I really didn't know what to say. I staved off the urge to ask which LPs he had in mind. "First, Boston's second album! Then some Kurtis Blow, and we'll finish up with a nice Anita Baker!"

I hate him.

-----

A DIFFERENT TIME, A DIFFERENT PERSON

Walking home from work, I passed a bus stop. Sitting on the bench was a woman, obviously all kinds of fucked up; she was a cadaverous thing, and sat grayishly, waiting apparently for some pit demon to eat her horrible life. I was smoking, which she noticed. She warbled thinly at me:

"Got a smoke?" This in the kind of hopeless intonation you might recognize from beggars who are used to being totally ignored. I, myself, have never turned down a request for a smoke in my life, unless I really was out. I stopped and regarded her, digging for a smoke. "Sure," I said. I handed it to her, and she accepted it.

And grabbed my hand. "You're really pretty," she said forlornly. "You remind me of my boyfriend."

I wish I could say I handled this well. I did not. I pulled my hand away from hers and blushed, and stammered some nonsense and a thank-you. I tried to imagine who this poor woman's boyfriend was, and I was ashamed to imagine nothing good. I felt supremely, unutterably horrible--which was probably nothing compared to how she felt on an ongoing basis.

I don't know why this stays with me. I just got done ranting about the blind asshole whom I cannot stand; where did I jump over to this track?

Hey, that's great! Just ignore the blind man!

You remind me of my boyfriend.

It's just not funny.

Thursday, 22 July
Unfortunate Things I Have Said During The Rehearsal Process

"You looked like you were trying to eat your way into the earth."

"Sorry about pissing all over your shoes, there."

"Those children can all go fuck themselves."

(Referring to our music director)
"Don't miss J. in Sadwich, his new show where he spends two hours eating a sandwich and occasionally bursting into tears."

"I don't have to listen to you, because you're gay."

"The theme music for the leper scene should be either 'I Go to Pieces' or 'Eyes Without A Face.' " (Worse, this was a recycled joke, meaning I have had more than one music/leprosy conversation in my life.)

"She's what I imagine a disease would look like as a person."

"This line is, well, acne. I hate it."

THE WINNER:

"I'm sorry, but I'm going to continue to think of your mother as retarded."


Monday, 15 March
The Yellow Kid

Earlier today as I was blearing around the office, I felt nature's call and stopped by the rest room. I approached the nearest urinal and stared down into a pool of bright yellow. It seemed to glow faintly, and as I stared at this little puddle of malice, I got kind of depressed. I mean, heigh-ho, do your part for the environment and all--I'm not unamenable to saving some flushwater here and there--but man alive . . . not when it's that color. It was just a feeling I got as I stood there, that somehow it's not right to leave your spoor lying around when it's so violently hued and, frankly, kind of alarming and unsettling and weird. Clear piss? No problem! Malevolent, caution-yellow, renal failure piss? Come on, Kidney Avenger, flush it away from innocent eyes.

If you're waiting for this post to start displaying some of the classiness that my tens of readers have come to totally not expect from this weblog, you're going to be really sad.

On the home front, in the new place, the wife and I have basically realized that the central feature of the new pad--in fact, we save it for the end of the guest tour--is, yes, the bathroom. Not the patio. Not the pool. The bathroom.

It's kind of hard to explain without seeing it. The main motif is slate. Blocks of rough-hewn slate cover the walls, and there is not-really-recessed lighting, the kind where the little cylinder hangs from the ceiling with the bulb tucked up inside, so the light pools. This combined with the dark stone walls contribute towards a sort of seedy Mobbish feel to it, like at any moment you could either get a bullet in the brain, or a blowjob from a stripper, depending. Which I must say is pretty exciting brain-fare when you're just trying to find your shaving cream.

Well, not all the walls are as I describe. There is one wall that has full-length mirrors, a nice feature in some bathrooms. Perhaps not this one, however, as the location here is key. First of all, they are directly across from the shower, which to me is largely unimportant: I am blind as a fucking block of wood, so the sight of a damp, writhing pink blob is no more startling than any of the other amorphous fuzzwhats that make up my uncorrected visual field. The wife, however, reports that it takes some getting used to climbing out of the shower only to spy your life-large naked self climbing out of the shower directly across from you.

Which is not to say I'm wholly unaffected by the mirrors. No, I am, in a distinctly more horrible way, because there's still one piece of information I've held back. As I said: On one side is the shower. On the other facing wall are the mirrors. And just below the mirrors is the toilet.

This is in many ways a very curious bit of home decor. Well, for me, very curious from a male point of view (so to speak), considering that, like most non-impaired males, we have the physiological privilege of being able to piss while standing up. This is a birthright that fathers make sure to inform their male kids of at earliest opportunity, frequently at a lonely roadside on some long car trip. But at least for me, something I am emphatically not used to is seeing me piss, full face on, two feet from myself. It was, in fact, extremely disquieting the first few times I did it, because let's get down to brass tacks here: there I was, idly pissing, staring as men frequently do down into the bowl. (Hey, I think I'll aim at that little piece of tissue! Bam, direct hit! Yes, we shoot at stuff, because we can, and we are, after all, just silly boys.) Then I looked up. And there I was. Holding my doppelwanger, pissing.

It was really strange. I mean, I see myself piss from the skull-cam all the time, but this was brand new. For one thing, I suddenly felt deeply self-conscious about that guy across from me holding his weirdo penis. Hey, pal, I felt like shouting, put your dick away! Jesus! Then I got kind of weirdly clinical, and started thinking unkind thoughts about this alien penis glaring at me from the mirror. Is that the right color for that thing? It looked vaguely wrong. I mean, all penises are kind of wrong-looking, and weirdly hilarious; they sort of flop around unpredictably, and are kind of excitable, and there's just no talking to them at all. Penises do what they want. They are not inscrutable and enigmatic like, say, vaginas. There is nothing less enigmatic than a penis.

Finally, after a while of this, I was done pissing, and so was my new pal over there. But I stood there a second longer, thinking, There's something else. Something else that looks weird. What? Then after a moment, I had it. I know what it is. I just thought . . . I just thought it would look . . . bigger.

Monday, 12 January
Number Two! Engage!

Comment spam? NOT IN MY HOUSE! My last five commenters:

Ski Shop
casino
Lesbians
Snowboarding Boots
div

I like to think of these people as party guests, which is pleasing, mental-image-wise. I think of Lesbians hanging out chatting with Snowboarding Boots.

But really, BASTARDS! What to do with these miscreants? Well, if you're like me, nothing, because I don't know what the hell I'm doing around here anyway. So I just went to the bathroom, filled with gastrointestinal wrath.

Which turned out to be another awful situation that I had to suffer through, because here's the thing: I have this pathological neurosis about making embarrassing toilet noises. And others, ah . . . well, they clearly don't. How I wish I were one of these people, but I'm not, so if I'm in the work bathroom and someone else walks in . . . well, I just sit there. Quietly. Clamping down on whatever awful freight is anxiously awaiting its release, in agony, until the bathroom is empty again.

I know this is my problem. But it causes me suffering.

And it's not necessarily just butt-noise related (though it usually is). Having just returned from yet another psychologically shattering bathroom experience, I will simply say this: I can handle being at a urinal next to some guy. I can even handle said guy lamely attempting conversation (though I hate this). I can even handle--because it's pretty funny--those guys who do the two-hands-on-the-wall, lean-and-piss thing, who look like they're waiting to be frisked. But there are some things the mind is not prepared to accept, and one of them is standing next to some guy at a urinal, and he is whistling "Tiny Dancer."

This sort of thing is distressingly common in the public bathroom (and yes, this will probably get disgusting), especially for nutfucks like me who are neurotic about this to the point of frenzy. Is there anything more harrowing than The Grunter?

(Sounds of unzipping and pants flopping around ankles. Pause.)

HURM! HUUURRRM! Um. (Pause.)

[PLOP! BLOP! WOPPLE!]

[Terrible, earthshaking flatulence.]

EEEUUUUuuugh.

At this point, I usually can be found in the next stall over, bursting into flames. Or there's also the unnameable horror known as The Sigher:

(Unzip, pantsflop, etc.)

Haaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh. Fooooooooo.

The Sigher always sounds very plaintive and sad, as if he's burying several young relatives.

I'm going to have to get over all this somehow. It's just too punishing for me. So if you happen to enter a public bathroom sometime soon, and there's a guy in there, farting merrily while singing the old Slade song "Run Runaway," that's me, just working through my issues.

Tuesday, 18 November
Not Good.

I don't like it when I can't write. And it happens too often: when I started this bloody thing, I made it my mission to do five posts a week--obviously, I don't do that any more. I don't know why, except that I got married and all, and I think that's valid (it's kind of sad that I even feel the need to make excuses), but let's also face it, some of those old posts reeked of desperation and sloth, and maybe, well, just fuck it, but sometimes it just drives me nuts when I feel like writing, and it just won't come.

I deleted three other abortive things before this. One was this weird tone-poem-y thing that I had high hopes for; it was a kind of cinematic screenplay filled with portent or something. Then I started writing it, and I got hung up over--I kid you not--whether or not the board game SORRY! used that weird bubble-dice device. (It didn't. What the fuck was that game? It's driving me crazy. Was it Parcheesi?) It also involved some character named "Borovski." The big idea was this not-so-much ending where I cut to nothing. I'd be a hell of a filmmaker. "Joe! Cut to nothing!" "What?" "Cut to nothing! It's poetic or something!" "You're stupid. I quit."

I also deleted a story about this weekend about how this poor guy (he's in the cast of my show) got his car towed because he parked in a Safeway parking lot. The gist of it was: This guy got his car towed because he parked in a Safeway lot. It cost him almost three hundred dollars. But then I realized that nobody could possibly give a fuck.

Now that I think about it, I didn't even get around to deleting a story about my facial hair, because it didn't even merit starting: I have this sort of dire whisker situation where sometimes I get two whiskers trying to share the same follicle, and that doesn't work, so they grow into this gigantic mutant whisker that is like a redwood stump growing out of my face, and it turns into an awful thick ghoul-hair that makes my face all angry, and I kind of have to police my face to make sure that they aren't massing for a revolution of some sort, these horrible Gimli-ish stumpy whiskers that rouse the pus army and overrun my poor, Aragorn-lacking chin. The last thing I need is for Ian MacKellen to show up indignantly on my face, calling for reinforcements.

Oh, it's late. I'll do better. Cut to nothing.

Wednesday, 17 September
We Face Follicular Armageddon

I HAVE EAR HAIR.

This is horrible. And it's not what you're thinking: I don't actually have wiry black hairs sprouting from the deep recesses of my ear-holes, though that's a happy thing to countenance for later. No, I was just shaving the other night, and I noticed the outer ridges of my ears: they had this fine spray of hairs reaching out their skinny arms to refract the light (which is very nearly a Godspeed You Black Emperor! album title). I toyed with them for a moment, intrigued: what the fuck could they possibly be for? The answer was clear. To irritate me, and to make me even more neurotically aware of my remorseless mortality. I quickly identified their leader; it was a purely white motherfucker that was a good two inches long, and was shrewdly concealing itself by coiling around the back of my ear-ridge. I savagely pulled it out and questioned it. "Vile ear hair!" I screamed. "You thought I wouldn't find you! You are vanquished!"

The dying ear hair was unrepentant to the end. "Stupid man," it sneered, "you think you've won. You have not."

"I have plucked you! I have plucked you! My ear ridges are triumphantly smooth again!" I railed desperately.

"Fool," it whispered. "Check your nose. Check your shoulders. We are coming. You are finished." It finally expired in my hand, and I pitched it into the trash.

Trembling, I checked my nose. I checked my shoulders.

Fuck.

I don't know how long I'll be able to transmit these messages. I am being overrun. I will hold out as long as I can, but I fear my heroic plucking and yanking and searing-with-cigarettes are only token gestures; soon I will meet my depilatory Waterloo. And then . . . and then . . .

I will simply just be The Hair. I will be transformed into a living mass of hair, and The Hair will rule What Once Was Skot. My wife will look at me, and outwardly I will appear normal, but when I speak to her, it will not be Skot who speaks: it will be The Hair.

"I love you," she will say.

"I REQUIRE APPLE PECTIN!" The Hair will reply.

"You know, I never thought I'd say this, but I think you're getting weirder," the wife will tiredly respond.

"I AM THICK AND LUXURIANT. THIS IS A GOOD HOST." The Hair will observe, while the wife sighs and clicks the TV remote.

"You want to watch anything in particular?" she'll ask, clearly not listening any more; this is hardly the first time her "husband" has lapsed into utter nonsense.

"WE SHALL WATCH QUEER EYE FOR THE STRAIGHT GUY. KYAN SPEAKS FOR THE HAIR. WE SHALL AWAIT HIS HOLY WORDS!"

The Hair will soon be firmly in charge. Remember me. Remember me fondly. For as long as you can. For I think that soon, we will all succumb to The Hair.

Thursday, 19 June
Today's Consuming Stupid Idea

I spent a simply tragic amount of time today trying to craft the following into something even remotely resembling funny or interesting:

Phone Call of Cthulhu

In which the Elder Gods become increasingly frustrated in their attempts to order a pizza, as all the humans on the other end of the line immediately become raving lunatics the moment the Deep Ones say "Pepperoni and sausage."

NOTICE TO FUTURE GENERATIONS: This is a really terrible idea. I assume it will one day be a show on FOX.

Wednesday, 04 June
I Am Conflicted About My Doublethink

This past week walking home, I've noticed a new fixture on the old home street: a bum, who has nestled into a new home in some bushes about thirty feet from my front gate. He's always sleeping there when I walk by, dozing peacefully on a pizza box, and it has freaked me out any number of times. First of all, most of the time walking around in the neighborhood, I generally expect the humans I encounter to be standing erect rather than in a recumbent position. So every time I catch a glance of him lying there, I think, "AAAAH! Lurking pygmies!" or "Fuck! Cheetahs in the greenery!" before I wise up and then amend it to "Oh. Bum in the bushes." And second of all, even once I realize what the prone figure actually is, I then proceed to torture myself with mental scenarios where he springs awake and snatches at my pants leg. "Vote LaRouche," I hear him croaking in my mind, "and I'll let go." "LaRouche! LaRouche for Emperor!" I mentally scream, but then I'm past him and at my gate, and I calm down.

Now here's the thing: I am pretty much a total pinko when it comes to a lot (though not all) of issues, and this is true of The Plight Of The Homeless in general. I regularly inveigh against the continued lawnmowing of social services for the needy; I howl at the ridiculous "no sitting on sidewalks" targeting legislation; and most importantly, I am endlessly generous about doling out cigarettes to those who ask (yeah, I'm all fucking heart). I try to be a good person, because it's a problem, and there are people genuinely hurting. I think in some ways we should help them a helluva lot more than we do.

So when I got home the other day, I mentioned to the wife that we had a new neighbor: a bum had found a little haven in the bushes one building over. Did I say, "Great news! The Plight Of The Homeless is setting up house in our neighborhood bushes! Let's go bring him a cheese plate." Well, no. I believe what I said was, "Some scuzzy fucker is sleeping down the street."

Classy. It's a pain in the ass to have one's abstracted ideals get into a fender-bender with NIMBY syndrome, isn't it? I don't feel particularly good about myself for saying that, but I'm not going to let it get to me much either. I didn't curse at him, or beat him up, or hassle him until he left. I just said something nasty out of earshot. But I can do better. And I will. I'm going to vote LaRouche.

Thursday, 03 April
Creature Discomforts

I have an evil homunculus. He lives with me. He has powers. He uses them whenever he can.

I've never seen him, but I feel him, and sometimes hear his sour-milk voice. I can detect his workings.

He has odd, misshapen teeth. In the morning, before I shower, he runs into the bathroom and gnaws on the soap, turning the nice symmetrical bar into a lumpen, raggedy thing that falls apart in my hands. When I bend over to myopically pick up the slippery pieces, he directs a jabbing spray of water right at my asshole. I yelp, and I hear his tiny laughter.

While I'm drying off, he runs back to the nightstand and repositions my glasses to ensure that I will pick them up by the lenses instead of the temples.

When I walk to work, he's with me. He rides, clutching the small of my back with one hand while reaching down with the other to slowly, stealthily, inexorably pull my boxers up into the crack of my ass.

He has this thing about my ass.

When he tires of that, he scampers down my leg and pulls my socks down to my ankles. I pretend it's just the socks, and I scold them loudly. "Quitters!" I yell at them as I pull them up again and again, "You socks are fucking quitters."

He has a prism that he carries with him, pure and transparent as winter ice. When the mood strikes him, he climbs onto my shoulders and plays it across my field of vision. It is then when an ordinary sign reading "PISTON & RING SHOP" transforms in my mind to read "PIMPIN' RING SHOP," and I wonder for a moment what sane person could possibly have opened a jewelry store for pimps. The homunculus' laughter echoes inside my head moments later.

He flits about my desk at work. On my lunch break, when I am searching for airfares to Europe, he is inside the wires, riding the luminous ether of the Internet, and fouling the messages back to my monitor. My airfares repeatedly display staggering, idiotic figures like "$739 per person," over and over, while I know full well that the airlines are all mad with fear because their profits are Greg Louganising all across the board; people everywhere are getting plush plane rides across the Atlantic for fifty bucks a head, and that's with a gourmet lobster dinner and an enthusiastic handjob from a pneumatic stewardess thrown in to boot, both ways. I stare at my horrible, obviously fictional airfare quotes and I silently curse the homunculus.

The homunculus dashes downstairs to the deli, right before me, and throws all the bagels into the dumpster before I can get there. All except the onion bagels.

When I stop for a drink on the way home, the homunculus does not rest. He is the one who scampers to the jukebox and evilly preprograms the selections. I will hear only Bob Marley and Santana on this visit, and every other. The twenty-year old fake hippies all bob their heads along with the rhythms, as if in thrall, but I know that they are pawns of the homunculus, mindless and obedient. They will ask me for cigarettes before I leave, and the homunculus will jab me violently in the asshole with his sharp little thumbnail if I refuse them.

When I get home, he deviously manipulates the cable channels. Tonight, every channel was either playing Pootie Tang, M*A*S*H reruns, or hockey. All three hundred channels. Pay-per-view would only offer America's Greatest Tumor Biopsies.

Before bed, I retire to the bathroom, and the toilet seat is clammy and searingly cold; my startled flesh screams and tries to contract all at once, causing my posterior to sort of sieze up on itself; a spasmodic, hypothermic clench that will only ebb after a few minutes of sluggish bloodflow. I sit patiently and wait for abatement, and again I hear the chittering of the homunculus in my ears. I know he is with me forever.

I wish he'd leave my ass alone, just once.


Tuesday, 25 March
I Have Saved The Universe Many Times

Growing up in (mostly) rural Idaho and being an only child as I was, at an early age I got pretty proficient at keeping myself entertained. I had Andy, my good dog, to keep me company--and what company! He was a German Shepherd/Collie/St. Bernard/Malamute mix, so he was fucking huge--and of course I also had the great in- and outdoors; most of these efforts at self-amusement I now see as an adult were incredibly death-courting. I'm honestly stunned I made it past age ten. I found once an old abandoned buried water tank on our property; I thought it would be neat to crawl down inside and look for salamanders, delightfully heedless of the fact that once I dropped down the eight feet to the floor, I had no good chance of getting back up. After a couple hours of terrified, useless screaming, I literally rock-climbed my way up by finding teeny niches in the old concrete to hold on to, probably abetted by massive amounts of fear-adrenaline shrieking through my veins. We also had a barn on the property, and I spent hours dicking around in there, and it chills me to remember confidently strolling around on the thick 12" x 12" rafters that crossed the barn fifteen feet in the fucking air. I used to run across them, pretending to be Spider-Man. There's simply no good reason I'm not a fading stain on the concrete floor.

On the non-lethal side of things, I of course spent a good amount of time playing in my room. Like a lot of boys, I had a jones for action figures--you know, dolls. And also like a lot of boys, they were a motley bunch, culled here and there from various toy lines demarcated by whatever passing obsession I happened to hold at any given moment. But that didn't matter, because whatever the little guys originally were marketed as, they were renamed and reinvented by my own imagination when I felt that their original purpose was lacking. I invented whole mythologies for the little bastards and had them act out elaborate (by my reckoning) dramas, roughly along the lines of the SuperFriends or, much cooler in my opinion, the Justice League of America.

For example, Star Wars figures were obviously hugely popular around this time, and sure enough, I had a couple. I had a Stormtrooper figure, a little plastic white guy around four or five inches tall. But the thing is, being a faceless, expendable guard-dork doesn't make for much superheroing, so I renamed him The METEOR! The Meteor's origin was thus: he was some astronaut guy (I know I gave them all "secret identities," but I don't remember those) who was testing a brand new super whip-ass combat/supersoldier/outer space suit and he was kind of cruising around in space somewhere giving the thing a test ride when ALL OF A SUDDEN! (and this kills me to remember that I concocted this) he has, like, the most wildly improbable thing happen to him when he is caught dead smack in the middle of a collision between two meteors. What, he didn't have enough room in deep space to get the fuck out of the way? Talk about being in the most incredibly wrong place at the most unbelievable time EVAR. But hey, I was a kid. Anyway, as if that bunch of horseshit wasn't enough, this incredible blast obviously didn't kill the poor fucker, but instead it somehow fused the suit to his body! This gave him some pathos: so now the guy was a superhero (The Meteor! Or, uh, somebody really fucked over by two meteors, but never mind), but he'd LOST HIS HUMANITY and could never feel the sweet touch of a spring breeze on his skin, etc. etc. I constructed lots of scenarios where The Meteor, a fundamentally good guy, would periodically freak out and and protest to the heavens and pick fights and stuff, because I thought it made him complicated or something. I really liked The Meteor; he was certainly cooler than some mook who gets ignominiously shot in the first reel by a goddamn Wookie.

I also had a Luke Skywalker figure, a much more tragic story, because it was just a guy in a white tunic, and who fucking cares about that? He became even more pathetic once I lost the little red piece of plastic that served for his light saber, so I hit upon a solution: Luke was the perennial victim, for whom my team of heroes would rally around when (always, always) in peril. So Luke got kidnapped a lot, and my heroes would stage a massive battle and save the little turd, over and over, and it kind of got boring after a while. Then I began to hate Luke a little, because, Jesus, can't this fucking putz do anything other than get kidnapped? Of course he could: he could die. It was great! So from then on, Luke was the victim of countless unspeakable crimes, and suffered countless horrible deaths, each of which would either (a) drive a member of the team mad with vengeful fury or (b) drive the entire team of heroes mad with vengeful fury, depending on how ambitious I was feeling on that day. So useless Luke still served a function: eternal whipping boy, fated only for cruel kidnappings or horrifically fatal barbarities.

I also had a Boba Fett figurine, but Boba Fett was so fucking cool, he was just Boba Fett, and I was happy with that.

Micronauts were also big deals when I was a kid, and sure enough, I had me a cool blue one with wings. So he was the Blue Angel (yeah, yeah, Marlene Deitrich, shaddup); he was some alien guy from someplace unimaginably far away, like the planet Cleveland or something. He could fly, obviously, because he had this cool flip-up wing attachment that was just greater than shit, until I lost the damn wings, and then I was kind of stuck with what to do with him until I decided fuck it, he could still fly anyway. He was all but indestructible, and could shoot mysterious power bolts from his hands; I decided this almost immediately because Micronaut hands were sort of three-quarters curled into fists for gripping little always-lost ancillary toys, but they also looked perfect for generating blast rays that would shoot out from the palms of his hands.

I also had--you know it!--super-villains. One was a sort of planet-eating bastard modeled on Galactus named ROM. Remember ROM (I realize here that good portions of this post will be gibberish to a lot of women)? He was the coolest damn thing I remember having; a giant battery-operated silver guy with a whole boatload (well, three) of gadgets that would blink and make ooky noises. He had a jetpack and an audible Vaderish breath-noise and a distinctly Cylon-like set of red blinking eyes. Basically, Parker Brothers just ripped off every single sci-fi thing they could think of and dumped it into this fucker. He was great, and would inevitably nearly, almost, but not quite totally destroy my team of good guys, or their Hall of Justiceish Place, or the Earth, or whatever in these terribly epic battles that could last for hours. But he never succeeded, of course, except with Luke, whom he gruesomely killed many, many times.

I also had this weird thing called Baron Karza that I don't remember where the hell I got. Baron Karza was another big robotish thingy with a kind of Camelot 2578 AD feel to him, but he had a kink: his arms and his legs were held on by magnets. I have no idea why. But this was pretty cool for my aforementioned epic battles; inevitably, Karza would be thundering about my heroes' IMPENDING DOOM, MORTALS! or whatever, and then the Blue Angel would come up with some devastating mot juste and hit the bastard with an energy ray, which would sever the foul Baron's arm or leg or head and he'd scream NOOOOOO! Or maybe he ticked off The Meteor by killing Luke for the millionth time, and The Meteor, wracked by a mad frenzy of grief and sadness would yell THIS IS FOR LUKE, YOU INHUMAN MONSTER! and smash him right in the gut and all his arms and legs would fly off from the impact, and The Meteor would kneel, spent from the effort of avenging his useless and dead pal.

You'll be terribly surprised to learn that I was really bad with the girls all through high school. Comic books and sci-fi movies have a lot to answer for.

Friday, 24 January
My Dreamscape Is Neither Rich Nor Textured

The other day I was taking a nap before having to go to rehearsal, and I hit some serious REM sleep, because I started dreaming very, very hard. I don't tend to remember very many dreams for some reason, but this one was a doozy; I remembered everything. It really was meticulously detailed, which was truly unfortunate. Not because it was a scary dream. Unless you find "hopeless banality" scary, because it was the most boring dream possible. Luxembourgian geopolitics are less boring than this dream, if Luxembourg has any geopolitics to speak of, and I'm already weak with boredom even thinking about that, but it's still a flaming-hoop act, excitement-wise, compared to that damn dream. Anyway.

As it starts out, I'm in a plain white room with a brown carpet. (Good God, even that first sentence makes me want to put my head into a paint shaker. You already know you're in for a thrilling Cavalcade of Boredom.) It is evening, around nine o'clock, but I only know that because of dream-logic; the room is too uninteresting to feature anything as pulse-quickening as a clock. The only other person in the room is a mildly pretty saleswoman standing by a table with about a dozen cell phones on it. She's kind of packing stuff up, because it's the end of the day. I guess. The oppressive boredom makes it difficult to ascribe reason to the situation.

All of a sudden, I realize I have a vast, consuming need to purchase a cell phone. So I start talking to her. She really just wants to go, but is stuck dealing with the weird dreaming guy who's just way too into the minutae of cell phone plans, but she starts describing them anyway.

In lengthy, excruciating detail. X number of minutes for Z dollars a month; roaming costs; year-long plans vs. open-ended contracts, all kinds of stuff that my brain must have been manufacturing. And I was eating this stuff up, I simply couldn't get enough of this brain-choking bullshit. All the while I'm picking up phones and excitedly examining them. Let me stress again how lame and prosaic this dream is. Because as I examined the phones, I didn't find any with incredible features or doodads, like a concealed switchblade, or a rhino whistle, or a Jim Carrey proximity alarm or anything. They were just . . . phones. I heard myself saying terrible things: "What can you tell me about this red one?" "Wow, I don't know how I'd use all those minutes! (Wild laughter)" "What about the ones with the flip-down mouthpiece?"

It went on like that for a while; in dream time it seemed like hours. Finally I guess my brain had simply had enough of this, because I'm pretty sure it got bored by itself. The reason I say this is because of the idiotic way it ended: I was jabbering away about some awful phone detail, and the salesgirl, without a word, simply turned away from me and walked out the door. I just stood there watching her leave, clutching one of the phones, feeling very plaintive that I was being treated so shabbily, and maybe she'll come back? I'm still interested in many of these phones!

I woke up then. I kept still for a few minutes, reviewing the dream bit by bit, marveling at its detail, marveling at its startling vacuity, marveling at the cinematic scope of its breathtaking dumbness. It was like watching a Warhol film on IMAX or seeing a Grand Guignol play performed by catatonics.

I know now I will never, ever be able to buy a cell phone in my life because of this.

Tuesday, 24 December
I Enthusiastically Enjoy Crap

Today I was the lucky recipient of two new CDs. One I ordered straight off the web, by a band called For Against. It's some really good crap; pretty songs that sound like they've been moldering in someone's basement since 1987. Since I will turn 34 this coming year, even the specter of 1987 brings up some seriously good memories. Man. I sure jerked off a lot that year. It was special. I look forward to jerking off to these songs; or perhaps just reminiscing about such profligate jerking off. Either way.

The second one I got was totally different, yet is still undeniably crap. It's a CD (I have to consciously not type "album") by some bunch of fucking lunatics named Lemon Jelly. I wish I could tell you more, but they won't tell me more: the CD and its packaging is utterly bereft of any words at all. No lyrics. No track listings. Not even a goddamn list of band members. Just a bunch of drawings that look like something Chris Ware might have designed for a Stuckey's ad. Anyway, it's crap. It's total studio wankery, a ton of self-consciously strange found audio bites melded to limp-dick guitar and synth arrangements in a weirdly autoclaved dance context. It totally blows. Naturally, I love it.

We all love crap. I clearly love a lot of crap music, and as if that weren't damning enough, I also enjoy sports, which is basically crap writ large on the screen. Crap writing? Gimme! Hunter S. Thompson is a one-note johnny that I still enjoy, even after he stopped making sense, which was around 1972. Crap movies? I recently watched the indefatigably stupid Thirteen Ghosts, and I think I might have enjoyed myself. I mean, come on! That was QUALITY CRAP! It was so awful, I took a perverse glee in its existence.

I said a bit ago, with basically no substantiation, that we all love crap. I just kind of assumed that you agreed with me. I imagined that everyone thought, "Yeah, I know what you mean," and then thought of personal examples of SchadenKrap. Because we all know those people who really, insistently hate crap. They'll tell you so, over and over. You know these people. You try and make sure not to invite them to your parties. Hell, you try and make sure not to invite them to your funeral. They are the anti-fun.

Nobody doesn't like crap. No matter what they say. And if someone denies it: they're full of shit. And that's a whole other discussion.

Tuesday, 17 December
I Loathe the Able-Bodied

I work--or rather, "don't work very hard"--in a 20-story office building. I am on the 20th floor. This of course necessitates many rides up the elevator, which affords me (nice, stable me!) many opportunities for the unnecessary hatred of my fellow man.

For example, I was just on my way back up from lunch (read: cigarette), cruising along happily in my own unoccupied car when bing! I stop at 15. An apparently healthy young woman enters the car bearing the Atlas-like load of one manila envelope. She pushes a button.

Bing!

She gets off on 16.

HEY! You freaking baked potato. You couldn't handle one flight of stairs? This irritated me greatly, so I tackled her from behind and put her into an excruciatingly painful wrestling hold called the Estonian Milkshake of Agony until security hauled me off of her and clapped me in leg irons.

Not really. But I wanted to. Jesus. She must be a charter member of the Society of the Apparently Legless.

Other thing that burned my less-than-asbestos ass re: the able-bodied today: following completion of burning-stick-of-lunch, I wandered back over to the front door of the building. There is, nicely, a big button with a handicapped symbol on it so that people on crutches or in wheelchairs can whap it, and the door will open automatically for them. Like I say, nice (and, in a cancer care facility, pretty useful). So I'm walking up to the door, and a nice, young couple of kids are at the door and they hit the door-opening button.

Now really. Reach out with your wonderful, youthful arms and open the fucking door for Christ's sake! You have so many years to come in your future that will be filled with helplessness, infirmity and despair. Do you have to usher them in with such eagerness? So I naturally took out my boot knife and stabbed them in the eyes. Then I stood bestride their fallen bodies and screamed to the skies, "I CLEANSE THE WORLD! I AM PURE LIGHT!" until security came and hauled me off.

Not really.










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