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  11/16/03: Comedy Studio
  12/03/03: Emerald Isle
  12/17/03: Emerald Isle
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  #7: What's in a Name?
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  #19: A Capital Weekend
  #35: Road Trippin'
  #36: Geronimo! Ditto!
  #40: Three for the Ages
  #43: Mishaps on the River
  #47: Puzzled Over Puzzling
  #53: Justifying My Tuition
  #55: My Yearbook Quote
  #56: Whatever It Takes
  #65: Pissing in the Middle
  #78: Losing My Faith
  #85: Goodbye, Teeth
  #88: A Painful Separation
  #91: An Only Child
  #98: Nothing But Putrid
  #99: Bovine Dreaming
  #100: 'Dudden Hurt'

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World Star Gazette

Charlie/Male/31-35. Lives in United States/Massachusetts/Watertown, speaks English. Eye color is hazel.
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Saturday, July 12, 2003
If You Build It, Shouldn't They Come? And Pee in It, for Chrissakes?

This product may impair your ability to operate heavy machinery. Please blog responsibly.

My dog is staring at me. This is not a good thing.

No, not because she's likely to jump up and bite my face off (though she is a pit bull). Nor is she sending telegraphic messages of any kind to my brain through her gaze. (Though when she does, the message is usually something like, 'You will feed me more Snauuuuuusages. You must replace the couch legs with pepperoooooni logs. You are compelled to tile the kitchen with slices of pooooork roooooast.' Yes, my dog think-talks like Mesmerino, the canine hypnotist. And no, she doesn't know the word 'compelled'. I'm paraphrasing. Deal.)

Anyway, she's staring at me because she wants to pee. Now, let's be clear about this, folks. She doesn't need to pee; she only wants to pee. If she really needed to pee, she'd walk into the kitchen, through the doggy door and into her outside kennel, and pee. She's done it dozens of times before, and she knows just how the procedure works. Finding the right place -- or even a marginally acceptable place -- to relieve yourself is not rocket science, unless you're just absolutely wasted. Which my dog very rarely is, so you can understand my annoyance when she comes to me because she has to take a whiz. Like I'm in charge of the Holy Golden Doggie Bedpan or something, and I'm gonna hold it underneath her, and wipe her bottom when she's done. No. Not doin' that. She's got her spot, and the door is always open. She doesn't need an audience to take a proper piss.

And yet, here she is, all starey and fidgety, and just about ready to make it official. See, we taught our dog to bark when she wants to go outside to pee, or for a nice number two. I think we made that very clear. Oh, we'll walk you from time to time, just for 'shits and giggles', we said, but if you bark for our attention, then it had better be because you need to make 'shits and tinkles'. That's what we told her. But what did she hear? She heard, 'We have now designated your bark as a signal. Treat it like a little service bell that you keep around your neck at all times. If you ever have any desire that requires our attention, just give a bark, and we'll be there to help. We are at your beck and call, and live only to serve you, oh slobbering furry mistress.'

So now we filter. Now when the dog barks, we play CSI: K9 Corps in our head. When was her last trip? What did she do then? Is there a squirrel, or a bird, or a particularly interesting bit of some other dog's poop, that she's obviously barking about? Am I wearing any pants right now? The answers to all of these questions, and often more, get culled into one big decision about whether the dog is being a pain in the ass, or might actually have a pain in the ass. It's like playing Dogshit Roulette. You never know when she's going to have to legitimately go twice in an hour because she drank a gallon of water, or she's sick, or she ate the neighbor's cat. Again. So you spin the chamber, and choose 'yea' or 'nay', and just hope that you've chosen wisely. Give in too often, and she owns your ass, and you'll be hearing that bark every twenty minutes for the rest of your life. Ignore even one genuine desperate plea, and you'll be cleaning fresh 'pile' out of your pile carpet for a month or more. It's a fine line, and there's dog piss on one side, so you tend to lean in the other direction. And hold your nose, of course.

Such was life for the first three years that we shared an apartment with our dog. We erred usually on the side of caution, with a few rare, but hauntingly unforgettable, exceptions. In short, we were dog owners, and we made every effort we could to minimize the filth that we had to live in.

But that all changed when we bought our house. Or rather, it should have. See, the previous owners of this house lived with two beagles. Well-behaved, easily-trained, non-manipulative beagles, by all accounts. Sweet dogs, grateful for their owners' affection, and glad for the roof over their heads and the kibble in their bowls. They were walked regularly, for exercise, but they -- these majestic, gorgeous beagles -- had learned that any between-walk emergency was handled by finding their way out the doggie door so lovingly provided, and into the outdoor kennel erected solely for their benefit. Once in the privacy of said quarters, all bets were off. All manner of bodily fluids or solids could be deposited there, with no hard feelings, and would be 'taken care of' later, by the humans in the house. Everyone had a role, and everyone understood it. It was a virtual utopia, with every creature working together to crap, or to clean, with no assistance needed from the other side at any time. It brings a tear to my eye even to describe it.

For you see, my dog -- much as I love her -- is apparently not a 'team player'. Or maybe she's too much of a team player. Either way, she's decided that she requires an audience to witness her excretions. They're like performances, and the curtain can't go up, or the turdlets come down, until someone's watching. Which is made even weirder by the fact that she doesn't want you to actually watch her. Actually eyeball her while she's making tinkles or dropping cigars, and she'll give you this horrified, baleful expression. 'No! No one can see me like this -- avert your gaze! Have you no pity? Have you no soul?' But leave the scene, and the show is cancelled altogether. She's a strange and mysterious creature, to be certain.

So, anyway, I've done my best to get her to go by herself, but so far to no avail. And, just at the moment, as she often does, she's staring at me, daring me to look her way. If I look, she barks, and I've got to trudge downstairs, get her leash, escort her to the doggie door, let her go through, walk outside, watch her piss, and then take her for a walk. Oh, and I should probably put some pants on in there somewhere, too. Old Mrs. Johnson next door is almost out of her nitro pills, so I don't want to give her another late-night shock. She got pretty worked up after the last, um, episode, but she was okay. She asked for some mouth-to-mouth, but I respectfully declined. Daddy's not takin' care of you if you don't put your dentures in, Mrs. J. Quid pro quo, dear, quid pro quo.

What was I saying? Oh, right, the circus of taking the dog out.

The whole procedure with walking the dog is like a three-hour tour, but I've got the carpet stains to prove that it's still the right thing to do. And so I'm gonna have to take her soon. One day, she'll learn. But for now, I've got to coax her to the kennel myself and tell her to 'tinkle!' before she lets loose a single drop.
(Yes, I have a keyword to make my dog wee, and yes, it's 'tinkle'. You think I'm happy about it? You think I like walking her through the neighborhood, past suits and construction workers and hot chicks, and saying, 'Okay, widdle girly-kins. Make tinkles!' No. No, I fucking don't. But in a more lucid time, back when we first brought the dog home, I thought it through, and that's the choice I made. Even now, I see the wisdom in it, given that the alternative is to stand over her and scream, 'TAKE A PISS, YOU FAT BITCH COW!' While I imagine it would actually make her pee (hell, it'd work on me!), that sort of thing tends to scare the children in the neighborhood, not to mention old Mrs. Johnson. And given that the latter likes to cop a feel when I have to give her CPR, I'd really like to avoid startling her, if I possibly can. Thanks just the same.)

So, that's the story of my dog and the amazingly convenient doggie door that she refuses to put to good use. But we'll get her there. The 'accidents' are happening closer and closer to the door these days, so maybe she's getting the message. Why, in a couple of years, she'll probably be pissing right in the kitchen, and soon after, right by the door itself. A few months later, and we might just have our little girl broken in, after all. Now if I can just train her to aim the stream at Mrs. J's begonias, maybe we'll have something to really talk about. I'll keep you posted.

CRAP (see this post for the CRAP 411):
You know, in a way, I'm a little jealous of the system my dog's got working. Shouldn't life work the same way for us biped types of folks? I mean, we're supposedly more evolved and all, but dammit, I've tried looking expectantly and bug-eyed at whoever was talking to me when I decided I needed to pee, and not one of those bastards stopped talking and let me go. Not one. Wouldn't that be a cool societal rule to introduce, though? It's embarrassing to excuse yourself to go to the rest room in the middle of a conversation, right? And at least a little more embarrassing to just let loose right there, so your options are not good.

Wouldn't it be a lot better if you could just start staring at someone when you had to go, until they realized that you were giving 'the signal', and they should shut the hell up and let you go about your -- um, business? No muss, no fuss, no need to use foolish terms like 'potty' or 'little boy's room'. I think we've got to get Miss Manners or Martha Stewart or somebody on board to support this, and it'll take off like wildfire. Or like a shred of dignity at an AARP-sponsored wet T-shirt contest. Whichever works for you. (Hey, some people are scared of wild fires. I'm just trying to help.)

Sure, my scheme has some limits. It wouldn't work while you're on the phone, for instance... but who refrains from a little release while they're on the phone any more, anyway? Hell, in most of the calls I make, one or the other of us is 'just running some water', or 'starting a lawnmower', or 'strangling a sheep'. We all know what we really mean, and Ann Landers signed off on that practice long ago. This staring thing is much better, and doesn't involve talking to anyone while you're making bathroom faces. Really, it's an idea whose time has come. Spread the word, people. Make a difference.

Friday, July 11, 2003
Maybe I Need 'Blogging For Dummies'...

If you only read one blog this year... dude, frickin' read faster!

Hello, boys and girls. This time, I thought I'd offer you a peek into the world of blogging. Many of you are not bloggers, and have therefore until now been shut out of the experience. My goal is to break down that 'fourth wall' today, and to give you a glimpse of the trials and tribulations of being an avid blogger. (Not to mention a raving lunatic; it's pretty much a matched set, I'm afraid.) And for the rest of you who have blogs of your own, well, I'm going to assume that you have at least half a brain, which is about three-quarters of a half more than I have. So you may get some kicks in reading about a blogger who's also a horrendous fool. Unlike you. Of course, if you're a blogger and a horrendous fool, then you should read this, too. You know, just so you know you're not alone. Sad, maybe, and pitiable, but certainly not alone.
(Now if this was the SAT, I'd ask you how much of a brain I have, given the fraction word problem above. But it's not, so I won't. And no, ya brown-nosin' types, you don't get extra blog credit for doing it on your own time. And no, it's not because I don't know the answer myself. Not just because of that, anyway. I just don't like to encourage your particular type of asininery. Oh, and if you reread the brain thing now, and can't help but figure it out in your head, then you truly are a dork. I should know. I just did it myself. I have one-eighth of a brain, and apparently no friggin' life. *sigh*)

Okay, so here we go. I decided not to talk about the things which take up about ninety percent of (my) blogging time, which are:

  • trying to think of something to write about
  • trying to make said thing entertaining, even in the slightest
  • looking up words I can't spell on dictionary.com, so I don't look like an ass
  • looking up more words on thesaurus.com, so I look like I have a vocabulary
  • proofreading what I've read and fixing it a dozen times, because I:

    A) still can't get things right the first time, even with cool reference sites
    2) am an obsessive / compulsive little monkey
    iii) usually have nothing better to do

So, even though those activities take up most of my blogging time, there's really nothing in there that's of any interest to the outside observer. All of those things are dreadfully boring. They're like watching paint grow, or grass dry. Or watching that hair growing out of grandma's mole get bigger.
(Yeah, you know the one. It's like a bad car wreck, and you can't take your eyes off of it. Every grandma's got one. I think it's some biological thing -- a sympathetic response to their child having a baby of their own. Just as their first grandchild is snipped away and wiped off, the mole stubble starts sprouting, and it just gets queasier and queasier after that. My grandma's got one the size of a number two pencil. Well, lengthwise, anyway; it's only about half that thick. I don't want to exaggerate, of course. It just sits there on her neck, grossing me out and wiggling in the breeze. I sometimes want to walk over and get a good grip with both hands and yank! the thing out of there, to help us both out. (Not to mention anyone else who has to look at the thing.) But I'm honestly not sure that it wouldn't pull her arm out of joint, or shift her whole face in that direction. Something that big has to be anchored pretty damned well to something, and I don't want to risk pulling grammy's spine out of whack by jerkin' on the thing. And so, as many families do, we've learned to live with our new, um, visitor. We just try not to touch it, or even look directly at it. It might be contagious, and nobody wants to develop their own hairy mole until it's time.)

Okay, where was I? Ah, the magic of blogging. Moving right along, then...

So, most of blogging would be pretty dull to describe. I thought that I'd instead tell you about a few specific things -- good and bad -- that I've encountered in my travels, and you can play along and pretend it's interesting. Cool? Cool. Okay, here we go:

Am I Hot, or Not, or What?: Many of you are probably familiar with the premiere voyeuristic scope-out spot on the 'net, 'HOT or NOT?'. For those of you who aren't, it's a moderately entertaining way to waste a few minutes every now and then, by checking out submitted pictures and rating folks on their looks, or hot-ness, or shag-ability. You get the idea. For some folks, it's also a horrendously embarrassing, nightmarish way to discover that some ex-lover has posted an old photo of them in their 'fat pants' and a sweatshirt, eating / wearing an ice cream sundae. Actually, I have to believe that most of the photos on the site get posted more or less in that way. Most people -- myself firmly included -- are probably content going through life judging themselves a nice 7, or maybe 7.5, and really don't want to find out how horribly wrong they are. I'm guessing that only the most self-centered, or insecure, or 'hunk-alicious' (that's 'babe-adelic', for you ladies out there) among us actually post their own pictures to see what the world really thinks of their mug. The rest are just pranks, or 'payback's a bitch' posts, as far as I can tell.

But -- as is my wont -- I digress. The point is not that I posted a glamour shot of myself in a leopard-print G-string to 'HOT or NOT?'. (I mean, sure, I did, but apparently I'm a 2, so I certainly don't want to make that 'the point'. And I'm rounding up, by the way. By like, four.) No, the point is that now the genii who brought us the original 'HOT or NOT?' have returned, with a vengeance, a vision, and a whole new venture. And so now we have 'Blog HOT or NOT?' It works in much the same fashion -- babbling, ignorant strangers from all over the world can now rate you by your rambling diatribes, rather than your outward appearance. It's a little like judging a book by its footnotes, rather than its cover. It's beautiful.

So, while I'm not a vain person, or one so unsure of myself as to need nearly constant encouragement... well, my blog entries are. They're high-maintenance, feet-stamping, impatient, cocky little bitches, and they want to world to applaud them as the perfect '10's they make themselves out to be. I resisted at first -- you never want to feed a blog's ego, let me tell you -- but in the end they overwhelmed me. (They threatened to superimpose the leopard-skin picture with similar shots they found online of Pauly Shore. And while I don't mind debasing myself in that way, I couldn't stomach the implied association. Even I have limits.) So, anyway, I signed my belligerent blog up for 'Blog HOT or NOT'. Or so I thought.

See, it seems that when you sign up to add your own blog, the site sends you an email to confirm that you are who you say. You click on the link in the email to confirm your registration, and then you can get down to the business of making an ass of yourself by publicizing your rantings to the world. What could be better? Only, in my case, it didn't work that way. I got the email, clicked on the link, and was taken to the Blog HOT or NOT site and told that my sign-up was complete. Faboo! But wait. Not faboo; not faboo at all, my friends. No, for you see, when I tried to log in at the site later on, I got a message that my registration was not complete, and that I should click on the link in the email that was sent. Well, I'd deleted the email, of course. I'm not one of those weird, creepy sorts of people who actually save emails and information that might be important until I'm sure it's not needed any more. What kind of pervert does that?

Still, things looked salvagable. Right on the same login page, there was a link to have the email sent again. O frabjous day! So I clicked it, reasoning that my memory of successfully registering must be another of my many hallucinations, and I sat by my emailbox to wait. And wait, and wait, and wait some more. Oh, I got mail -- mortgage refinancing come-ons, porn ads, penis enlargement raves, even offers to download spam blockers. But nothing from 'HOT or NOT'.
(And by the way, while I can see the delicious irony in sending spam about a product that purports to block spam -- 'Hey, if you already had our product, you wouldn't be reading about it right now!' -- I still want to find the people who send that crap, pull their underwear up over their faces, and give 'em all a big blindfolded swirly, just like the rest of the spam sleaze-bos. The 'spam blocker' bitches are no better than the rest of those assholes, just because what they spam about is likely to decrease the competition for eyeballs by reducing spam volume. It's like buying up all the raincoats in town, so you can be the only flasher in the park at night. Just because it's marginally clever doesn't mean you're not a sicko, too.)

So, anyway, the email never came. I've clicked on that damned link on the registration page a dozen times or more, but still, I got nothing. And so my poor blog will never know whether it's HOT, or NOT. Or, quite conceivably, ROT. It's possible that there's some sort of backlog, and my mailbox will soon overflow with a glut of responses sent all at once. More likely, though, it's just not to be. I figure that I either did something stupid when signing up (not that it's ever happened to me before... course not), or I've been blackballed for that G-string pic of mine. I knew I should've posted the one of me in the tiger-striped teddy instead...

Where in the World Is 'Where the Hell Was I?'?: My next adventure went a little more smoothly. I decided to sign up with GeoUrl to provide geographic information for my site. You know, so bloggers and others who live close by would be able to physically come by my house and beat my ass in person. (I'm nothing if not considerate of my audience. You people don't know how lucky you are.) So, anyway, to sign up, I actually had to find my own coordinates. Luckily, the fine folks at GeoUrl have a resources page, listing sites that help you do just that. I chose the AcmeMapper, because when faced with multiple choices in life, I always stop and ask myself, 'What would Wile E. Coyote pick?'

So, in short, this AcmeMapper is amazing. It's got a whole boatload of satellite pictures, all at different resolutions and gridded together, so you can scroll back and forth across the country, zoom in, whatever you like. So I played with it for about an hour (the Mapper, dude, the Mapper. I played with the Mapper. Fo. Cus.), and I finally found my house (which is where this blog is written, at least until my padded room at the clinic is ready). So I zoomed way in on it, and got as close as I could, and pulled out the coordinates from the map, and stuck 'em into the blog. No problem. And now, I have this handy-dandy 'GeoUrl' biutton on the sidebar that will tell me -- and you! Try it out! -- what blogs are physically close to me. You know, in case I need to go kick somebody's ass for not reading my site. That sort of thing.

So, actually, I suppose getting the coordinates onto my site really wasn't all that traumatic. The only really disturbing thing about it all was the resolution that's available to any Jane or Joe off the street who wants to cruise around looking at satellite pics. The level of detail is remarkable. Which, to be honest, leads to the other disturbing thing I found -- apparently, the close-up satellite image of my house was taken a couple of weekends ago, when the weather around here was unbearably hot. So, of course, in the picture I used, you can see me, sitting in a rubber ducky wading pool in the back yard, wearing my Speedos and sipping spiked lemonade through a bendy straw. Very embarrassing. My wife says that she can even make out bubbles coming up from the bottom of the pool, between my legs. But I'm fighting that one, dammit. This is my house, and I say emphatically that I did not pootie in the pool, satellite surveillance be damned! I mean, who's she gonna believe? Her own husband, or a trillion dollars of precision electronic gadgetry, floating up there in the ether? Oh. Yeah, it doesn't sound so good when I put it that way, huh?

BlogShare, and BlogShare Alike: Finally -- not because there isn't a veritable plethora of other blog-related bonehead moves I could tell you about, but because I can see that you won't be able to stand much more of this -- that brings me to the BlogShares experience. This is definitely a case where I've gotten ahead of myself without reading the manual or asking for any help, and just charged in willy-nilly and gotten all confused and disappointed.
(Much like sex the first couple of times I tried it. But eventually, I learned what all the steps were, and how to do them in the right order, and everything's been fine since then. The hardest part was figuring out that 'fall asleep' always comes last. Believe me, that's not one that you want to get wrong, folks. Not only does it rather annoy your partner, but it can double or triple the clean-up time afterward.)

All right, where the hell was I? Oh, BlogShares. 'k.

So, without knowing what on Earth I was doing, I signed up for an account. That got me some free play money, but again -- back to the blog ego trip thing -- what I really wanted to do was add my blog to the queue, so it would leave me the hell alone for a while. So after some futzing and putzing around, I finally managed to notify BlogShares that yes, there was a new blog out there, and no, nobody gives a damn about it yet, but maybe this is a step in the right direction. So that went fine, and then I think I had to go through another step to link my account to the blog that I'd entered, to show that I actually owned it. The whole damned procedure started feeling like a mortgage application after a while. But in the end, I went through all the steps (I think), and now have a nice little status page that has my account, and my blog, and everything's just peachy. Except for this line, under 'Status':

Just Added. Not yet indexed. Not available to trade. Claimed by owner.

Now, I don't know what the hell kind of indexing that BlogShares does -- I didn't read the help, remember? -- and I don't know how often it's supposed to happen, or what voodoo incantation that I'm supposed to do to make it index my site, but that message has been there for about two weeks now, and I'm starting to suspect that I've done something wrong. So now I can't use my fake money to buy shared in my own blog, and no one else can invest in my insanity, either. And I can't figure out why. I've read enough of the registration docs to decide that I've done pretty much all I can, but I gather that I really should have been indexed my now, so I don't know what's gone awry. My best guess is that the BlogShares folks also saw my picture on 'HOT or NOT', and they've blacklisted me as well. I suppose it serves me right for not shaving my back for that photo shoot. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

So, there you have it, folks. Just a taste of what it's like to be a professional blogger. Well, okay, fine -- technically, I don't get paid to do this, so I'm not a professional, per se. But as of Monday, I'm not getting paid to do anything else, so I might as well call this my vocation, at least for the moment. If any of you out there need a good solid writer for a column, perhaps, or a travel guide, or maybe to type up menus, give me a call. I'm not proud; I'll write whatever you want. And it might even make a bit of sense, too, if I can keep access to my online wordsmithing tools. (And if you can keep me on schedule for my meds.) Hey, if the money's right, I'll even wear my leopard-skin G-string for you in the office. That's a plus, right? And if you'll give me healthcare insurance, too, I might even shave my back this time! How can you lose?

Thursday, July 10, 2003
Going Up, or Going Down?

Blogging's just like riding a bicycle... your legs are gonna get sore, and you should really wear a helmet.

Tomorrow's the end of an era for me, boys and girls. It's my last day of work at my current job, and then it's off to the Island of Downsized Misfits. It ain't Toyland, or even Wonderland, but it's not EuroDisney, either, so it could be worse. Much.
(Can you imagine what it would be like to actually work at EuroDisney? Besides the fat screaming German children and the sappy It's a Small World After All music grating on your nerves all day, you'd have to listen to every damned announcement -- whether about a special at Minnie's Mini-Golf Pro Shop or a lost, blubbering kid wandering around the Francois Fun House -- in seventeen different languages, many of which sound like asthmatic macaws trying to whistle Zippity Doo Dah. The 'No Littering' message alone would take three hours to translate into the language of every pissant little postage stamp of a country in the area. And if that's not enough, you'd also have Goofy going around the park all fuckin' day, scarin' the children and chanting, 'Le hyuk, le hyuk, le hyuk'. Which is about the only thing the rest of the French people would bother to say to you, assuming you have the audacity to have not been born in their country. Honestly, I'm surprised some kid in a Donald Duck costume hasn't gotten all liquored up by now and gone le postal on the whole friggin' place.)

Anyway, after tomorrow, I'll join the 'ranks of the unemployed', as they say.
(I wonder what rank I am, anyway? I think I'd like to be a Lieutenant. Or maybe a Captain. 'Captain Jobless, at your service!' Nah, that wouldn't work. It sounds like a lame superhero; some guy with a big 'J' on his chest and a three-day beard, fighting crime in his grimy underwear while he waits for 'the call', so he can turn back into a mild-mannered office monkey again. The bane of gainfully employed men and women everywhere, Captain Jobless scours the globe in search of minions -- here, ruining a report with a coffee spill; there, breaking up a job interview with prank phone calls about inflatable boobs. Captain Jobless works tirelessly to free the corporate heathens from their honest, well-paying, insurance-providing chains. The Captain shall not rest until all are out of work as he is, eating Ramen noodles and recycling aluminum cans for spending change. (To be fair, Captain Jobless has always recycled, due to his keen sense of environmental responsibility. But this time, it's different. It's personal. There's beer money involved.))

All right, I had a fucking point lying around here somewhere; I'm sure of it. Ah, right -- the job thing.

So, tomorrow's it for this job. I've got to grab my books, and my headphones, and my meeting slinkies, and as many of their pens and notebooks and staplers as I can carry, and get the hell out. I guess I have some mixed feelings about the whole ball of goo. After all, I did work there longer -- almost three years -- than anywhere else I've ever been employed. (My previous record was two years. Nine jobs in the last eleven years -- I've had more positions than a Kama Sutra pop-up book.) And the people were generally pretty nice, and only a few of them talk too loud on their phones, or belch loudly at random times, or gather in each others' cubes to giggle over drivel while I'm trying to work. Of course, to be fair, a few people there do do those things, and they're raging assholes. So fuck those people. Right in the hoo-hah. Bastards.

But the rest of the folks are fine, and I suppose I'll miss my professional peeps. Anyway, it's not a time to dwell on the negative. Rather, it's a time to remember the positive, and to show up at work drunk, and to stock up on random office supplies.
(No, really, I'm Jonesin' for this a little. I haven't gotten to show up drunk since the last day of my last job, and that was three years ago. And I telecommuted, so it really wasn't the same, frankly. For one thing, the whole 'stealin' shit on your last day' thing went right out the window. (I did mess the place up a little, though, just to make myself feel ornery.) Plus, I started working at 10am in my pajamas every day, anyway, and nobody was ever there to give me shit about that. So it really wasn't all that different with a buzz. Which ended up sucking. Not only was I disappointed that my little rebellion went completely unnoticed (until my wife got home that night and asked about the new stains on the carpet), but I was absolutely mortified that I hadn't thought of it before. Hell, I could've been loaded three, four days a week, and no one would've known. I'm still kickin' myself over that one...)

So, anyway, things are wrapping up here, and I get to play golf for a few weeks while I look for something new to be no good at. I'd say that I plan on really letting myself go, too, since I don't have to be presentable or anything... but I really don't have very far to go, to be honest. I'm pretty much doin' the bare minimum as it is to avoid arrest for indecency or disturbing the peace (not to mention public intoxication), so I'm not sure exactly how I'll manage to express my new-found freedom. I suppose I could walk around the house with my fly open or something, but you never know what the dog's gonna decide is a chew toy (I did mention she's a pit bull, right?), so I think I'll play it safe and keep my boys in their own neighborhood. Thanks just the same.

I suppose I'll miss some things here at the office -- the place down the street makes a killer chicken sandwich, for one. And the people that I don't loathe, and the bits of work that didn't give me screaming conniption fits... hmmm. Maybe there's not so much to miss after all. Oh, wait -- I know what I'll miss the most now. The Elevator Olympics. Yah. I'm in a seven-floor building, and the possibilities to annoy people with elevator-related chicanery is unlimited. Elevator games are the coolest, and here are some of my faves:

The Great 'Vator Race: This one's simple. Two people. Two 'vators. One person in each. The starter yells, 'Go!', and the athletes push all the buttons as fast as they can. They have to stop on every floor (usually spoutin' smack to each other while the doors are open), and the first to the top wins. You get bonus points if you can pick up passengers and still win, 'cause that's much harder. You know, given that the people getting onto your elevator might actually want to go to another floor, and are gonna get their butts all scrunchy when you start pounding on the 'Close Doors' button the millisecond that they open. Plus, you'll likely be shouting something like, 'I'm kickin' your ass, bitch licka!' to the other elevator, so you can see the conflict of interest that your co-passengers might be feeling. Needless to say, this is a game best played after the suits have scrambled for the day.

The Chinese Lift Drill: I know, I know -- it's culturally insensitive. But I didn't name the damned thing, nor the 'Fire Drill' before it, and I don't know what else to call it. Just deal, baby. Anyway, this game's similar to the Race above, but it requires a bit more synchronization, since the contestants actually switch elevators at each floor. (Try this one with three or four elevators -- now that's entertainment!) The first one to the top still wins, but it's possible to lose this one along the way, if you can't make a clean exchange and get into the other person's 'vator before the doors close. Believe me, folks -- there is no lonelier feeling on the planet than running a Drill and staring at the closed doors of the other guy's lift. Men cry, women wail, and friends and family gnash their teeth. Okay, so mostly, people just call you a dumbass. But there's some gnashing, and the occasional wail. Work with me, here.

The Shithead Shutout Shuffle: Or S-cubed for short. I have a friend who's favorite saying is: 'People get off. People get on. How fucking hard can it be?' He likes to say this to dumbasses who just have to scurry into a full elevator before the passengers have gotten off. Sure, they deserve it. And yes, somebody should say it. And no, he doesn't really have any other friends. But that's not the point. The point is, like every good smartass pissy idea, it's now become a game. Here's how it works -- in anticipation of one of these slobbering boobs trying to skitter past you into the elevator, work your way to the front of the crowd of passengers. When the doors open, someone -- there's always one -- will try to make their move. That's your target -- you've identified a shithead. Now comes the tricky part. The goal of the game is to pretend, as convincingly as possible, that you're trying to get out of this diddle-dick's way. Of course, what you're really doing is bobbing when he bobs, or weaving as she weaves, so as to stay right in front of your target at all times. The longer you can last without obviously being a dick, the better. It's a little bit like bull-riding at a rodeo. Much like it, in fact -- there's a fair chance that you'll get trampled or gored, making eight seconds consistently will win you some championships, and though there will be numerous clowns around you most of the time, they really don't help much until it's too fucking late. Oh, and you get an automatic win if you can manage to sneak forward as you perform your 'dickhead dance', and keep your opponent occupied until the elevator door shuts behind you. That's the 'Shutout' part, and it's an automatic free beer where I come from. Your mileage may vary, of course.

Hot Potat-evator: This is a cool game, because you can play it with a friend, a la the first two games, or you can play it with a clueless nincompoop, as in the 'Shuffle'. (And if your friends are clueless nincompoops, you can probably have twice as much fun playing it with them... but dude, you really need new friends.) Anyway, the goal is simple -- just be the last person to push the call button before the elevator arrives. When you're playing with someone else 'in the know', this usually degrades into some sort of slappy, keep-away-from-the-button nonsense. Some people dig that. If so, fire away. It's no-holds-barred. If you're the last to click, you're the last to click. If you gotta give your friend a poke in the eye or an Atomic Levitating Wedgie to get there, then so be it. This ain't Switzerland. Get in there and win the damned game, and your buddy can pull their undies outta their ass when you get to your floor. Personally, though, I prefer to play the more sinister version, where some knucklehead comes up, sees that you've pressed the call button, and -- guh! -- hits it again. (I'm especially snarly if this happens on the top/bottom floor, where there's no question that you're already waiting to go the same damned direction, and have clearly pressed the button in an appropriate manner. People that do this need to be deboned, on the spot. With a spork.) Anyway, when this happens, don't fuss and fume. Just mosey over to the button, and -- with a meaningful glance in their direction -- push it again. Press it, and let go with a flourish. Voila! Then see what they do. Either it's game on, and you can feel better when you kick their ass (and they've got their panties stretched over their head), or they'll back out. In which case, you've made them feel like an ass, you've frightened them just a little, and you've won by default. Do a victory wiggle, and put another notch in your elevator cable. (That might be a sexual euphemism; I haven't decided yet. It sounds a bit painful, frankly.)

Musical Chairs for Morons: Okay, this one isn't really a game, per se. It's just a way to really annoy people, and quite possibly get your ass kicked. It works best in a really tall building with lots of people using the lifts. It also works best if you're a linebacker or body builder of some kind (see the section on 'ass kicked, getting your' above). Anyway, the fun begins when someone steps out of the elevator, and then wants to get back on. Often, people will -- very politely -- step just outside the door of a crowded elevator to let folks off and on, and then slip back inside before the car leaves. Less often than that (but far more often than you might think for a species that invented wonders like the vacuum tube, and the Swiffer, and the reversible vest), you'll see someone paying no attention whatsoever and hop out on the first floor that comes along, regardless of where the dildo originally thought they were going. We've all done it -- I've done it, and yes, on that day, I was a dildo. Okay? We're equal opportunity assholes here, and you have to remember: there's a little dildo in all of us. (Do with that one what you will. A gift, from me to you.) Anyway, the real goal here is to keep the person from getting back on, just out of random, heartless vindictiveness. I'm not very good at this, I'm afraid -- I need a deserving target to really be a cold-killin' bitch smiter, but it's up to you if you want to go for the gold. You can kick 'em, trip 'em, yell 'Ooga booga!' at 'em, whatever. Keep 'em off, and you get the grand prize. As for me, though, I'm more interested --as usual -- in the booby. Er, prize, that is. The red ribbon for second place. And the way to get that is, monkey do as monkey see. Every floor you stop on afterwards, get out of the elevator, just like your new friend, and then get back on. Whether s/he does it again or not. Just step out, for no apparent reason, and then step back in again. It's most effective where there are lots more floors for you to practice on, but fewer and fewer people on the elevator. It's a bit like playing solitare, or that game where you have pegs in holes on a board, and you jump them around until you're left with just one. The goal, of course, is to have the elevator all to yourselves, just you and your target, and still be doing it. The bravest -- or largest -- of us might even push a few extra buttons at that point, just to drag the victory lap on a little longer. Of course, this is the point where the person is likely to slice you open like a fresh fish when you step back into the elevator, but hey -- who's afraid of suffering a little for their art?

So, that's it. That's what I'll miss the most, and I don't mind shedding a tear over my loss. Hopefully, when I hook up with the corporate world again, I'll be in a high-rise and I can start another play-group. Ooh, and maybe there'll be advertising execs in the new building! They're the best for doing clueless shit that prompts these sorts of smackdowns. So, anyway, I hope you've enjoyed it, and maybe even learned a thing or two to use in your own office. I'm certainly gonna miss it. And hey, I'll have to find a way to stay in practice, just in case. My wife oughta be home soon -- I think I'll go hang out on the porch, and see how long I can keep her from getting in the front door. I just gotta watch out for her backhand coming towards my noggin. That's her weapon of choice these days, since I had to start going commando to prevent her goin' for that wedgie. See, I don't screw around, man. I'm a pro.

A Quickie While I Work on the Next Manifesto...

'We'll leave the blog on for ya'

Am I the only one who sees the latent sexual innuendo swimming around in this song?

With a knick, knack, paddy whack, give the dog a bone...

Just, um, you know, asking. Won't somebody please think of the children?

Wednesday, July 09, 2003
Revenge of the Pervs

You must be at least this tall to read this blog.

Well, that didn't last long.

I had something on the order of three days pervert-free (present company excluded, of course), before they came back.

Who are they, you ask? (If you're being polite and trying to appear to be mildly interested, that is... Come on, I'd do it for you!)

The short answer is that they're 'net pervs looking for a particular type of anime porn. Just one of the many particular types, unfortunately, that I don't have on this site. But I mentioned this particular type (hint: Pamela Anderson is involved) in some previous posts, and the folks who get their jollies looking at cartoon jubblies started streaming in, getting the whole place all feral and musky. When those posts made it into the archives, the porny hits stopped, and I thought the 'crank it to cartoons' crowd had left for good. But it seems that Google re-indexed me last night (it tickled, just a bit), and now my archives are searchable. So they're back, and as sweaty as ever.

Okay, so the short answer wasn't very damned short. Tough cookies. Still, if you're interested in a much longer answer, you can check out the entire thread, starting with the verbose version of the above explanation, which will link you to the original posts here and here.

For now, though, suffice it to say that our horny friends are back. (So don't stand too close -- they could blow at any time, and not in a good way.) But in the spirit of fellowship and inclusion, I welcome them back with open arms. With a hazmat suit on, and with plastic on all of the furniture, but with open arms, nonetheless. Eyeballs are eyeballs, and there's a lot here that I think would be of interest and amusement to a dirty internet perv. (Well, there must be, right? I mean, that's who's writing this crap, isn't it?)

So, in an effort to persuade even a small fraction of you looking for nekkid Pam-toons to stay for other, less messy reasons, I'd like to offer up five slogans that I hope will grab your attention and bring you back to read more... you know, after. And wash your damned hands before you come back, would ya? Okay, here we go:

  • Come for the ass, but stay for the sass! (Okay, so I used that one before... I'm just warmin' up, kiddies.)
  • Come for the porn, but stay for the scorn!
  • Your picture's not here, but feel free to read a thousand words instead. Think of it as a refund!
  • Just because it's there's no nudity here doesn't mean I don't have naughty bits!
  • If you read only one blog this year that advertised pornographic cartoon pictures of famous celebrities and failed to deliver, make it this one!

  • A bonus haiku!:

    Desperate, throbbing
    You select blog from search hits
    But no ho' toons here

  • And a limerick!:

    You came looking for 'nude Strippereller'
    But instead found this sardonic feller
    He's not quite the one
    You were searching for, hon'
    But you'll find his blog funny as heller.

(Okay, that last one may be writing checks that I can't necessarily cash -- not everyone's going to find this crap hilarious. Only a few of you will actually pee your pants while reading this; I've got to keep that in mind. Still, it beats the donkey smacks out of the other ending I came up with:

But you'll find his boobs perky and stellar.

Again, it's not entirely accurate. Oh, they're perky -- they are most certainly perky -- but I'm not sure I'd give them better than 'handsome' or 'touchable'. Each of which falls far short of 'stellar', I'm afraid. I think I have to be honest with myself here; no body part with this much hair on it will ever achieve stellarosity. Oh, sure, I could shave 'em, but it's just gonna grow back. It always does, you know. And then, they'd be all itchy. I'd have itchy, stubbly pecs -- perky and touchable pecs, mind you, let's not forget that, but itchy and stubbly, nonetheless. And then where would I be?)

All right. Where was I? Oh, the horndoggies. Right-o.

So, if you're one of the aforementioned folks searching for a stripped-down strippin' superheroine, rock on! We missed you here around the blog -- why, we even got most of the stains out of the carpet while you were away. But now that you're back, come on in! Make yourself comfortable. Take a load off. (Um, that's actually probably a poor choice of words, come to think of it...) Anyway, I hope you find something here that you like, even if it's not naked or heaving or voiced-over by a boobly blonde bimbo. (Though I'm workin' on a deal to score some of Jenny McCarthy's old answering machine tapes. I'm doin' the best I can here.)

And for the rest of you, don't worry. Things won't appreciably change around here, but it does appear as though our nookie-hunting neighbors are here to stay. I gather that most of them will hit the archives and bounce back out pretty quickly. You won't even notice those folks, and just a few will end up staying. As for them -- well, we'll just have to work around them as best we can. I've got plenty more plastic to cover the couches, and the hazmat suits are in the closet. Oh, and I wouldn't sit on the floor, if I were you; you might end up stuck to the hardwood.
(Yes, that may have multiple meanings, and no, none of them are even remotely good. It's a jungle in here.)

Eight Simple Rules for Pulling Your Damned Life Together

All your blog are belong to us!

There are people out there who want to be like me.

Okay, that's probably not true. I really have no evidence to back that up... but I'll tell you this, and it's as true as Christmas cookies:

There are people out there who should want to be like me.

At least, more like me, 'cause the people they're being like now are... well, not very good people. Maybe they've decided to be like the folks they see on Cops, or Jackass, or -- I dunno, Fear Factor. Clearly, it's just an issue with their choice of role model, and a better selection would naturally lead to a better life. So I'm here to offer myself as a shining example of How to At Least Be Better Than Those Dimwits. It ain't much, but you gotta write what you know, right? Right. Baby steps, folks.

So, as a public service for you poor, rudderless souls, I'd like to present my list of Rules to Live By™. These should help you make it through those dark times when you're not sure which way to turn, or whether you should squeeze into those spandex tights, or what an unused condom would taste like. And for those of you who already know the answers to these questions ('all the way around', 'not in this lifetime', and 'like chicken, but a little more gamey', respectively), then you shouldn't need my help. Feel free to peruse the list, and take what you can use, of course. But if you're already set up with a role model better than me -- a Gary Busey, perhaps, or a Dame Edna -- then please, for the love of sweaty porcupine humping, don't trade down to me. You'll be drooling and sitting around picking your ears all day in no time, and you'll just get bored. I feel qualified to help the goobers who are following 'Ernest' to camp, or lurking around Pee-Wee's 'Playhouse', but I don't have much for the rest of you, I'm afraid. You're already ahead of this particular curve.

But for you half-evolved gibbering chimps who need my help, here are the eight Golden Rules of Charliehood. Learn 'em, live 'em, and long for more. Practice them well, and you too could be just like me.
(Aching back and graying hair not included. Spousal unit and freaky pit bull sold separately. Limit one personality overhaul per customer. Offer not valid in Montana.)

  • Rule #1: If it's not food, and you're not currently having sex, then don't eat it. And don't lick it, either, unless you're double dog dared.
  • Rule #2: When cornered in the company of fools, play dead. They'll eventually get distracted and wander off.
  • Rule #3: Never date -- or even lust after -- a person not meeting the following minimum criteria:

    Said person must be at least of 'legal age' in your area (16-18 in most of the world; 14 in Amsterdam, and 9 in Arkansas and parts of Texas).
    Person must be younger than both of your parents (unless your mommy is a stripper / trophy wife for your (sugar) daddy).
    Person in question must have expected number of teeth (and yes, that means their own teeth, and no, in a jar does not count).
    If person in question is female, then she should weigh less than you do.
    If person in question is male, then he should have less hair on his back than you have on your head (both the inverse and converse should also be true).
    If the gender of the person is in any way indeterminate, cut your losses and move on (aka the 'Crying Game' rule).

  • Rule #4: Never answer 'Yes' to a question you didn't fully hear or understand. No matter how annoying 'Huh?' can get, it's infinitely better than accidentally agreeing to wash someone's car, or loan them a thousand dollars, or swap spouses with them. Infinitely.
  • Rule #5: No one -- anywhere, ever, under any circumstances -- wants to see your genitalia (Ladies, this one certainly doesn't apply to you).
  • Rule #6: To determine whether an article of clothing is appropriate, follow this checklist:

    Is it made of some sort of 'stretchy' material? (If yes, it is INAPPROPRIATE)
    If no, does the label mention 'Speedo' or 'Wal-Mart'? (If yes, it is INAPPROPRIATE)
    If no, is the garment pink, ruffly, lacy, or tasseled? (If yes, it is INAPPROPRIATE)
    If no, does it involve plaid or polka dots in any way? (If yes, it is INAPPROPRIATE)
    If no, does one -- or both -- of your parents wear similar garments? (If yes, it is INAPPROPRIATE)
    If no, can the garment be described as 'crusty' or 'swampy'? (If yes, it is INAPPROPRIATE)
    If no, does wearing the article create a sudden urge to 'turn tricks'? (If yes, it is INAPPROPRIATE)
    If no, do you have difficulty breathing while wearing it? (If yes, it is INAPPROPRIATE)
    If no, does it reveal the outline of your navel, or your ass dimples? (If yes, it is INAPPROPRIATE)
    If no, does the garment fail to hide any hair you have below the neck? (If yes, it is INAPPROPRIATE)
    If no, congratulations! You have chosen an APPROPRIATE article of clothing! Hooray!

  • Rule #7: Be courteous and kind to any person who hasn't pissed you off yet. As for the others, fuck with their minds. Mercilessly.
  • Rule #8: You can do whatever the hell you want in the shower, as long as you don't tell anyone. (And you don't own a webcam, of course).

And that's it. Really, those are the only criteria I use as I wander through life. So now you know. I can only hope that you'll take these lessons to heart, and that we'll have a little more sanity in the world going forward. (And a lot less hairy bastards with no shirts on running around my damned neighborhood!) Rock on, grasshopper. Make me proud!

CRAP (see this post for the CRAP 411):
Speaking of Fear Factor, what in the name of all that is holy has happened to that show? I caught a couple of the early episodes, and they were fine -- amusing, entertaining, nothing to dicker over. (Dicker? Officer, I barely even know her! Ba-dum-bum.) They'd invite a few clowns into the studio to talk smack about each other, and then dislocate a few limbs trying to parasail, or run an army obstacle course, or whatever. In between, they'd be asked to do something mildly disgusting, like letting bugs crawl on their heads, or eating tofu, or giving Rosanne sloppy tummy raspberries. (Okay, they never did that last one; there are laws against that sort of thing.)

Anyway, it was all good, messy, but still-watchable fun. But have you seen this shit lately? They ratcheted the stunts up a notch or two, sure -- they're taming lions now, and throwing knives at each other, and performing open-heart surgeries and whatnot. It's all very death-defiant and all, but it pales -- absolutely pales like a Kennedy at last call -- to the horrific crap they're making these poor people do in the 'gross-out' segment of the show.

Seriously -- and if you don't watch the show, I am (starting... now!) not making this shit up. A couple of weeks ago, they made the contestants eat liquefied pig livers (by the glassful), 'cereal' made of crunchy beetles in some sort of vinegar or bile juice or something, and nasty-ass duck embryos peeled right outta the fertilized eggs. Mmm-mmm! Nothin' says finger-lickin' good like pureed pig parts and stillborn birds. Tas-tee. The week before that, only two lucky gentlemen survived their first round of derring-do, and earned the privilege of transferring as many earthworms as they could from a giant bowl onto a scale, using only their mouths. I couldn't tell you who won, but suffice to say that they each broke double digits in terms of poundage, and they both had filth and worm parts from ear to ear when they were done. How do you come back from that, anyway? I mean, who's gonna kiss that mouth, knowing where it's been? Ew! Those sons of bitches are gonna be pickin' earthworm out of their teeth for months now. And that taste doesn't just go away, you know. Nuh-uh. Listerine won't help you now, child. Sandblasting, maybe, or a good napalm rinse, but mouthwash is futile in the face of wiggly worm breath. Believe it.

This past week's show was a little milder, I have to admit -- the lucky boys and girls just had to eat a slice of pizza. Of course, the pizza crust was made out of... crap, I forget. I forgot all about the crust when I leaned that the 'sauce' consisted of coagulated blood sucked from some poor animal or other. Just like mom used to make, eh, boys and girls? For toppings, our Chef Boy-Ar-Dolts had their choice of eyeballs (from pigs, I think) or live snakes. All right, fine -- they were called worms, but trust me, they were snakes. Any momma or poppa snake out there would be proud to have one of these little puppies for an offspring; trust me. One of 'em was fighting a mongoose, right there on stage. Honest. Oh, and by the way, the pizza cheese was all moldy and rancid. Like an afterthought -- 'Oh yeah, the cheese is older than you are, but really -- isn't that the least of your problems right now?'

But some of these people get through it. I don't see how -- or more to the point, why, but they do. I mean, the show only gives away fifty grand each week. Would you go swallowing worms and bugs and homogenated organs for just fifty G's? Mind you, I can't personally take the 'high road' and pretend that I have either enough money or enough dignity to not make an ass outta myself for cash. You know me better than that by now -- I'll whore myself out, certainly, but only if 'The Price Is Right'. Fifty large might buy you some interesting items at Chez Charlie -- a fully-shaved body, perhaps, or an embarrassing tattoo. Maybe a tender French kissin' Kodak moment with a goat, or a pig, or even Janet Reno. But bugs and worms and eyeballs, out there on the airwaves to be TiVo'd and replayed and screen-scraped to hell and back? No, thanks. Not for fifty thou.
(Okay, dude, look -- if you can make it sixty, and get Janet Reno over here before I sober up, you got a deal. I got mortgage payments coming up, you know...)

So, anyway, the people I really feel bad for are the people who lose in the last round. They get a belly-full of raw slimy hell, and then get nothing out of it. Well, not quite nothing, I suppose -- 'All of our contestants on Fear Factor receive a week's worth of debilitating stomach cramps, just for making it to the second round! Plus three days and four fabulous nights of shrieking bathroom horror that they'll never forget. Suck that, Rice-A-Roni!'.

But as much as I like to watch these morons destroying themselves, I have to hope that the show peters out before it gets any worse. I mean, if the ratings start to sag, where can they possibly go from here? Drinking horse piss? Licking an elephant's ass? Fat Bastard blowjobs? Can actually literally eating shit be far behind? 'Your challenge today will be to swallow this squiggly tapeworm that we've just pulled out of the business end of a live pig. If you can manage to keep it down for four days without gagging, you get to move on to the next round. But if you actually digest any food in that time, then we'll have to send you home. Good luck!' And God help us all...

Tuesday, July 08, 2003
Justice May Be Blind, But It Can Still Get the Willies

Disclaimer: no monkeys were actually harmed in the making of this blog.

So it's hot here in Boston, and my wife and I are sans air conditioner in our new house. I may have mentioned it before, so I'll try not to rehash too much, as I'm sure you've read all about it, and remember every steamy, glistening word. And if not, then I can certainly tell you all about some steaming, glistening bits of mine that are currently suffering through the heat. Or post pictures of them, so you'd better just read the damned archive. You don't want me to go there, you really don't.

Anyway, I'll stop bitching about the heat. Nobody gives a damn, anyway, and some of you are probably hotter than I am. Well, for your sake, I sincerely hope you're hotter than I am, in a -- you know -- ass-watering kind of way. But I was really talking more about the ass-sweating sort of hot, which is very different. (And if you can't tell the difference between ass-watering and ass-sweating, then I'd suggest you stay out of the South and off the beaches. You may end up getting a lot of mixed signals...)

Okay. Well, then. Perhaps a subject change is in order. Ah, here we go -- one seque special, coming right up. (The seque platter is only a dollar extra, and comes with fries, cole slaw, and a side of clever. Just for future reference...)

So, anyway, since we don't have air conditioners in our house to help combat the heat, we've plopped table fans into a couple of the windows. You know, to at least push the oppressively hot air towards us at high speeds. I'm told that this should create the illusion of coolness as the accelerated air whispers past. In my experience, it offers a closer approximation of a drafty boiler room operating somewhere in the Gobi desert, but what the hell do I know? I'm just the guy sitting here wondering whether this is what it's like to be industrially blow-dried, but I'm sure that the advertising folks are the ones who got it right. Really. Given the touts on the box, I must be freezing by now; I'm just too dumb to realize that it's ice running down my back, not nasty neck-sweat.
(And no, you pervs, I don't have any more to say about what it feels like to be 'blow-dried'.
Nope, nothing. Stop looking at me.
No. Go home.
All right, fine, you win -- 'Well, it's redundant, isn't it? If somebody's gonna blow you, then they have to dry you, too, don't they? I mean, it's just common courtesy.'
Man, you people are a bad influence...)

Okay, where the hell was I? Ah, window fans.

So, we have a couple of window fans, and the windows without fans are also open, which means that the only thing separating us from the goopy, insecty outside is a few rickety mesh screens. Which further means that any sort of pissant tiny little bug that can squeeeeeze its runty little thorax between the wires is going to make its way into the house, and eventually to the one room in the house that currently has lights on. Which, of course, is the room I'm currently inhabiting. So what it boils down to is this: my wife is in bed, and the dog is sleeping, and I'm just sitting here in the office with -- oh, I don't know -- maybe a couple hundred of my least favorite creatures on the face of the planet, as they creep and crawl and flit around looking for something luminescent to bang their hairy little heads into.
(What's the deal with bugs and lights, anyway? Look, the damn things are out at night, right? So what's the evolutionary attraction to lights of any kind? Think about it -- humans haven't been around that long, and most of these little cretins aren't man-eaters, anyway. So our fluorescent bulbs and tubes mean nothing to them. So what's left that would naturally emit light at night? Fires and fireflies, as near as I can tell. Either fireflies are the bitch ho's of the insect world, and any randy little fucker with a perky proboscis is welcome to have a turn, or Nature's tryin' to thin these pesky peckers out by evolving them to be fatally attracted to fire. I honestly don't see any other options. It's like settin' dogs up so they can't resist humping toasters -- it doesn't make any damned sense, and somebody's gonna get their shit burnt. Literally. Why not just make the bugs partial to frog tongues, or allergic to food altogether, if you're just trying to kill them off? Am I expected to believe that they've evolved an instinct to careen willy nilly toward light sources of any kind just so we can get our jollies listening to Bug Zappers while we're camping? Damn. Mother Nature doesn't have a sense of humor, dude; she's just a crazy bitch.)

Anyway, the upshot is that I now have these little overgrown nits buzzing around my monitor screen, and generally cheesing me off. Some of them look like little i's, and others like l's, or 1's, or f's, and I have to proofread enough as it is, so I want 'em the hell out of my way. Shooing them doesn't help much -- that hard-wired 'look at the pretty lights' reflex drags them back here eventually, no matter how many of their legs I snap off as a deterrent. So I escalated my response; I moved to Airborne Terror Alert Amber. Basically, this involved two changes to my approach. First, I actually leaned foward toward the monitor when I saw a buzzy bug, as opposed to just waving my hand generally uselessly in front of my face. Secondly, since I was now close enough to inflict hot death upon my enemy, I would smite said insect bitch, if given half a chance. My weapon of choice? The business end (i.e., 'back') of a nearly-full stack of Post-It notes sitting on my desk. As with most terror responses, though, my solution was rather, um, messy, as you might imagine.

So now I'm sitting here, with decidely less insects buzzing around in my field of vision. That's the good side of the situation. On the other hand, I now have a couple of dozen grimy streaks of bug innards plastered on my monitor. (Not to mention a sticky note pad that is now literally sticky, even on the back cover, and reeks of dead bug juice. (Which I desperately hope is redundant; if there are people out there raising bugs just to milk their juices and let 'em go, then I don't wanna know about it. Dude, that's just so wrong.)) So my vindictive side feels better, because I've killed, and it's always good to kill that which annoys, expecially when you can leave a greasy gut-stain in the process. You know, to warn others that you are One With Which Not to Be Trifled™. But my sweet frosting-covered side... actually, we should probably leave that side out of things for the moment, and move straight on to my 'needing to see the monitor' side. That side's not so happy, of course, because all of these cautionary smears are now far more annoying than the bugs themselves were. Instead of the occasional 'i' or 'l', now I have something that looks more like '^^^^^^^; or perhaps '~-~-~-~_'. Except with the occasional leg attached, or an antenna protruding at some wild angle. So I have mixed feelings, when I can manage emotions at all through the growing nausea.

The bigger problem, though, is that my problems are getting... well, bigger. Apparently we have a hole in one of the screens -- either that, or the little bastards are like Transformers, and they can congregate to form bigger, more versatile monsters. Most of the larger guys look like moths, and are pretty easily squished (though with ickier results) or swatted out of commission with a notebook. But something came in last night... something else. Something bigger, something that made a loud tinny shpink against my monitor when it hurtled headlong into it. I didn't get a good look at it right away -- as I was cowering behind my chair at that point -- but I soon peeked over the seat to determine exactly what kind of beastie I was suddenly sharing my office with.

It was big, of course. Huge. Like a hairy bird with too many legs, a gangly Frankensparrow experiment gone horribly wrong. When I saw it, it was crawling on my desk, warily eyeballing the monitor and contemplating another run. My first thought was, 'Are bugs supposed to have faces?'. (All right, fine, smartass -- my first thought was, 'I should probably make sure I didn't pee my pants.' But I checked, and I didn't, and then I thought the face thing. Very next thought, I promise.) I looked around for something to smack it with, at least to stun it -- I really wasn't sure in the end whether to kill it or tag its ear and release it, but I figured the first blow or three would leave both options open anyway. Clearly, the Post-It pad wasn't going to save me this time. Finally, I settled on a nice, thick legal pad, and moved in for a good thwacking. Just as I did, the little monster launched at my monitor, and plinked off behind the desk.

At that point, I had a dilemna, of course. I'm no hero, you understand, nor am I interested in doing any more dirty work than I absolutely have to. Dirty pool, sure. Dirty dancing? Lube me up and let's hit the floor. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels? Good movie, fine. But dirty work, no. Not interested. So, I mulled my options (again, from behind my chair, where I'd wibbled off to when the creature jumped). I could try and find it, and hope that it wouldn't be able to wrestle the notebook away from me and beat me with it. Or, I could just go back to blogging with my screen all gunky with insect intestines, and pretend that I never saw the thing. It could live down there behind the desk as long as it wanted, eating mice and chewing on the floorboards, but as long as it didn't bother me, then I wouldn't bother it. Or him, or her, or quite possibly Mothra, from the looks of it. I really didn't have time to catch a name as I cowered. Honestly.

So, of course, it was at that point that the buggy behemoth lurched out from behind the desk and skittered in my general direction. Well, that was all the incentive I needed. With a courageous 'Ewwwwww', I presented my opening argument and shmacked him with the legal pad. He rebutted, and kept on coming. I objected, and popped him again. He proved a hostile witness, though, and continued limping toward me. But now I had the jury on my side, and I intended to be the executioner. 'How's this (Bam!) for a cross-examination, bitch?' 'And this (Pow!) for a motion to adjourn?' 'And this, you little peckernose, for an order to cease (Wham!) and desist!' (Thwap!) I took a deep breath, and looked. He twitched a leg. Whap! Bap! Smash!

'I rest my case. Your carcass, your honor.'

And that was the end of my not-so-little, not-very-friendly little friend. I wrapped it in a beach towel and plunged the thing into the toilet as best I could, but I had to mangle the body pretty badly to get the bloody thing down. I thought about hanging the head outside the window as a warning, but that face... ewww. No. I just double-flushed the sucker down the bowl, and chased it with a Drano 'n' Raid cocktail, just to be sure. Last thing we need around here is that thing breeding in the sewers. But I think the danger's done -- that one is finished, and I haven't seen any others since. I even spit-shined my monitor this morning, and tried to vacuum the bug goop out of the carpet fibers. (With mixed results -- I heard most of the loose parts rattle into the machine, but I think the dog got hold of an antenna and has buried it somewhere among the cushions of the living room couch.) Anyway, I'll be on the lookout, and I'll keep my trusty legal pad handy, just in case. Still, if you don't hear from me for a few days, could you send someone over to check on me? That thing just might have a family out there, and now they know where I live. Eep!

Monday, July 07, 2003
I Missed the Boat on 'Mister Poopy Pants', Too

Fill it to the rim... with Blog™

Have you ever wished that you'd been born in a different time or place? Maybe you wish you were Bulgarian -- or maybe you are Bulgarian, so you wish you were anything else. Perhaps you'd have been happier in some other era -- in the past, where you could bask first-hand in the genius of Einstein, or Lombardi, or even Blanc. (That's 'Mel', not 'Matt Le', kiddies.) Or maybe the future's the place for you, where the nightmares of SARS and cancer and The Anna Nicole Show will have been wiped out forever.

Possibly, your problem is not quite so severe, and you're generally happy when and where you're currently situated. But still -- you feel as though you're missing out on something. It may be because of some physical limitation (Gary Coleman will never play in the NBA, for instance), a societal restriction of some kind (no straight man will ever be asked, nor even allowed, to choose window treatments), a 'coolness' deficiency (like the one afflicting Steve Guttenberg), or a deplorable lack of talent (see 'Top, Carrot'). Or, it could be a combination of all of the above (like the unfortunate set of circumstances that prevent me from becoming a porn star, for example). Whatever the reason, you have these vague notions that you're somehow incomplete, and not quite as fulfilled as you ought to be. I have those feelings, too. And on most days, I'm able to pick myself up and live with my anxieties, hopeful that the nagging sense of emptiness will someday fade away.

Today is not one of those days.

You see, sometimes the clouds of life will part, and the fog of ignorance will melt away, leaving you face to face with one of those things. Something that you would have achingly missed, had you only known it existed. Something that you now want so badly, but alas, can never have. Something that you now kick yourself for not seeing earlier -- could you have willed yourself into the right place at the right time? Or paid more attention to the world around you? Or learned to give a really good foot massage, perhaps? Would any of those things have mattered? Would your feet be relaxed and silky right now? No one can say for sure. All that you know is that you've missed an opportunity. You're a second-class citizen, a day late and a dollar short. You missed the boat, and now you feel like a dinghy. And that, my friends, is what happened to me today. I stumbled smack into something that I should have been all over, but which has already run its course. It shames me to admit this, but I have to confess to someone, and you're the lucky reader:

I slept through 'asshat'.

It absolutely devastates me to say that. I mean, I fancy myself as exactly the type of person who ought to be out there, bounding amongst the daisies and dropping 'asshat's left and right. It's rude, it's obscene, and -- added bonus -- it even has a perfectly logical explanation, replete with appropriate mental image: person with head up own ass; therefore, wearing their own ass for a 'hat'; ergo, asshat. Asshat! Huzzah! I was positively tickled to find it. I even thought that it might be The One -- a sneery, smirky, sasstacular signature epithet that I could practice in the mirror until I owned it and made it all mine. Oh, I didn't invent the asshat -- no, sir -- but I would perfect it. I was going to work my tail off (pause to acknowledge pun... little more... and move on) to be the King of Asshat. The Duke of Asshattery, if you will. The Ruler of Asshat Nation.

But it was not to be. It seems that I myself have been wearing an asshat of my own for some time now. (I wondered where the echoes kept coming from...)

You see, 'asshat' is yesterday's news. Overused and tired, it was a screaming meteor of a pissy putdown, but it appears that its star has already faded. It's as unhip as -- well, 'unhip'. The cool crowd has already assed there, and hatted that. Nobody wants to hear it anymore, and they're off to worship at the altar of the next Snappy Comeback That Makes Me Feel Cooler Than the Rest of You™. And so, I weep. I don't know what the hell I've been doing, but it had nothing to do with calling people 'asshat', I can tell you that. It should've, but tragically, it didn't. Oh, the fun we could have had together, too -- asshat and I. Why, I had already made plans for us to spend some quality time together, in all sorts of conversations. Observe:

Fat, drunk, and asshatted is no way to go through life, son.
<Cartman>You will respect mah asshat-itay!</Cartman>
Get thee to an asshattery!
Moo-chas grassy-ass, See-nor assy-hat!
Curiosity killed the asshat, you know.
If you weren't an asshat, I'd kiss you right now!
Yes, Virginia, you are an assy-hat.

But it's all for naught. I suppose I shouldn't torture myself over it (though I could use a good spanking...). Anyway, I blinked, and asshat passed me by. I can't use it now without being passe, and so I'll have to move on, knowing full well the riches that were there for the taking. Oh, well. Life goes on. I still have 'willydiddler' and 'bumblefuck' to keep me company, and so I'll bid adieu to 'asshat' and move on to other endeavors. But now I'm more determined than ever to catch the next wave, and milk it for all its worth. So help me out, folks -- keep your eyes and ears open (and out of your asses, for certain), and if you hear of the Next Big Thing™, let me know. I've got some catchin' up to do. Or, as the cool kids say these days:

"I've fallen behind, and I can't get up!"
(Heh. I've still got it, eh? Um, hello? That one's still cool, right? Right? Helloooo? Where did everybody go? Aw, poop.)

Sunday, July 06, 2003
48 Million People Can Be Horribly, Horribly Wrong

The blog that launched a thousand ships of fools

I golfed today.

Well, that's not entirely true, I suppose. I did go to a golf course this afternoon, and I did put on funny-looking shoes (sans tassels, though -- I do have some dignity), and I did lug a bunch of metal sticks around and use them as weapons to fend off small, white, dimply balls.
(As much as I'd like to make a joke here about someone's small, white, dimply balls, I'm just not sure that it's a good idea. First of all, it's kinda gross, and secondly, it's a little bit off-topic (as usual). But mainly, it's because I'm really only familiar with a limited set of balls, regardless of their relative size, paleness, or dimplosity, and so I can't be entirely sure that the 'someone' in question wouldn't end up being me. And I already have plenty of people available to ridicule me without joining the fray myself, thank you very much.)

Pressing on -- the point is that while much of my activity this afternoon may have appeared -- to the uninitated observer, at least -- to resemble golf in many ways, I'm pretty sure that the fine Scottish gents who invented the game a few years back would run doughnuts around their graves if I were to actually call it golf. Because I suck hairy lemons when it comes to golf, and there doesn't seem to be much that I can do about it, unless Arnold Palmer will bequeath me his 'mad skillz' upon his death. (Which he won't, the lousy fart. I'm getting a summer cottage and two of his cars, and that's all the old coot will pony up. Bastard.)

Now, perhaps I should pause here for a tick. I don't want to lose anyone, after all, and I'm not sure how familiar you are with golf. Some people can wax poetic about the sports' giants and legends, while others don't know the first thing about golf. (Well, that's not true. Everyone knows the very first thing about golf, which is that it's wrenchingly boring to hear about, read about, watch on television, listen to on the radio, think about, dream about, practice, teach, or actually play. That much is common knowledge, of course. So just assume that there are folks out there who don't know the second thing about golf. (Which, by the way, is 'keep your head down', the most obvious, inane piece of advice that you can actually offer to someone who's attempting to hit something that's on the ground. And it's all downhill from there.) Anyway, those folks -- the 'uninitiated' -- are the people I'm trying to get up to speed here. If you know a slice from a fade, and your putter from your mashie, then you can probably skip a couple of paragraphs. You already know everything that I'm about to say.)

So, in the interest of getting you folks who haven't tried golf, or who don't watch golf, or hate golf, or have some other sane attitude about the game, on board with the rest of us, I'd like to offer you a brief description of golf that will help you converse with the poor bastards who don't share your opinions on the matter. I hope that you'll find something useful here, or interesting, or at least tickly in some pseudo-erotic way. Whatever. But most of all, I hope that you'll latch on to the thing that I think that you need to remember, the take-home message, the One Important Point™, which is: You're right, of course. Golf is a ghoulish, demonic nightmare. It's mind-numbing to watch and maddening to play. Becoming a 'golfer' requires countless hours, specialized equipment, and bargeloads of money. It also involves the near-criminal neglect of profession, spouse, children, friends, responsibilites, and -- in the most extreme cases -- hygeine. And to be a 'good golfer', you need to... well, fine, I really have no idea what you have to do to become a good golfer, but I bet it's excruciatingly long and terribly painful. Like a colonoscope, or a PBS miniseries. All of which is to say, your initial instinct is correct -- forget about golf forever, save what I'm about to explain, and sleep long and well knowing that 'golf' is just one more wacky brainwashing cult that you're not going to join in your lifetime. And to keep you on the right path, I now present Everything You Need to Know About Golf Until You're Dead:

Golf has been around for a long, long time. It hasn't changed very much since it was invented, which tells you right away that there's something wrong with it. We don't practice bloodletting in medicine any more, and sailors don't worry about falling off the edge of the world, but golfers still follow pretty much the same rules that were used in caveman times. The biggest difference these days is that all the clothing has a Nike swoosh on it, and the balls and clubs require a mortgage to buy. Everything else is just about like it's always been.

The game of golf was invented in Scotland, and quickly exported around the globe. The actual origins of the game are shrouded in mystery, however. Some scholars believe that golf was a cruel trick perpetrated by the ancient Scotsmen on the rest of the world for making them wear those girly skirts for all those centuries. Others think that the Scots were trying to invent hockey, and took a wrong turn somewhere near the part about needing ice to play on. Finally, there are those who say that golf is simply an ill-conceived adaptation of the ancient game of Skee-Ball, and that the 'clubs' were introduced because Scotsmen are all about whacking things with sticks, and wouldn't have been very interested otherwise.

And that's pretty much all you need to know about the history of golf.

As for the game itself, golf is surprisingly barbaric for a 'grandpa game'. (Checkers and shuffleboard, for instance, are rather tame by comparison. Bird-feeding can be rather violent, of course, but most of that involves strangling pigeons, which can only be seen as a Good Thing™.) To see the true nature of golf, you must look at the game from the ball's point of view. On each hole, the ball is brought out, perhaps rubbed or even kissed (for luck), and placed on a pedestal. After a short time in this blissful state, the ball is then thwacked as violently as possible with a hard metal stick. One of two things will then happen. If the ball has not done exactly what was intended, then the ball will be cursed and spat at, and then shwacked again, with increased gusto. If, however, the ball has done exactly as asked, it will be praised and appreciated, and then -- of course -- shmacked just as hard as last time, if not harder. Unless the ball develops the good sense to run the hell away into a forest or lake, the process will be repeated until the ball is irreparably damaged, at which point it will be discarded and replaced with another in short order. The whole experience is very similar to what I imagine dating Courtney Love would be like, without all the drugs and tattoos.

The basic rules of golf are pretty simple. Each golf course has eighteen holes; eighteen was chosen specifically because it doesn't make a bit of damned sense in any numeric system (including binary, hex, decimal, etc.), and so it would be universally annoying to all the races of the world. The primary goal of golf -- apart from fostering apoplectic seizures -- is to dump the golf ball into the currently specified hole, using only a series of metal sticks ('clubs') and whatever obscenities are available in your repertiore. All of the other rules are just so much window dressing, and can be safely ignored or blatantly broken, particularly when nobody is watching. Scoring in golf is measured in 'strokes', which seems promising at first blush, but it turns out that more strokes is worse than less strokes, and that alone should tell you that there's something terribly misguided about the whole endeavor.

Each hole on the golf course is designated a 'par' value -- this is the number of strokes that Tiger Woods would need to complete the hole, if only he were just a little stronger, and cheated just a bit. The concept of par was invented to give the casual golfer an impossibly lofty goal to shoot for, thus mangling the golfer's spirit and fostering a crippling, lifelong obsession with tackling this Herculean challenge. In the golf world, par is the perfect, pristine Cinderella, and we are all ugly, warty step-sisters, jealous and pouty and in dresses that make our asses look big.

Finally, to understand golf, you need to know that your only opponent, and therefore the only person you're really hurting, is yourself. That's the real evil genius behind golf -- it's now-you versus then-you, and you can't win either way. Either you sucked then, or you suck now. More likely, as golf and inconsistency go together like pasties and G-strings, you flip-flop your sucking, depending on the weather, your mood, and how hungover you happen to be at the time. It's best in the end to just decide that you suck before you start, get it over with, and go play Skee-Ball as the gods intended. Nearly 50 million people out there have been unable to take that important step and just 'let it go'; I hope that now you'll be able to succeed where they -- right, we -- have failed. Good luck, and godspeed.

So that's all you really ever need to know about golf. And it's all that I wish I knew about golf. But unfortunately, I was sucked in. I blame my father, you know. He's a big golfer -- yeah, he's really in deep, and has been for years, I'm afraid. Some of my most vivid memories of my father involve golf in some way. Here, let's just pick one at random, shall we? Something from childhood, maybe:

Dad (after another crappy shot of mine): Son, I think what you're playing is called 'military golf'.
Me (excited to learn new 'official' terminology): Gee, really, Dad? What's 'military golf'?
Dad: Well, son, it's when you shoot the ball back and forth across the fairway, like you're doing on this hole.
Me: Aw, shucks, Pop. I don't get it.
Dad: 'Military golf'. Left, right, left, right, left, right...
Me (deflated): Oh. I get it now. Hey, Dad?
Dad: Yes, son?
Me: Nobody likes a dickhead, Pop.

And... scene. Thank you, actors. Bravo! Please pick up your next scripts at the door; we'll be working on material from the Screaming Tizzy in Fourth Grade, so please start working on your lines for next time. Thank you again.

So, I hope this has been instructive. If there's just one person out there that I can save from this debilitating condition, then I'll feel as though I've made a difference. If only one person reads this and turns their back on golf forever -- well, okay, so only one person period reads this, so I'm not sure how good my chances are -- then I'll be able to sleep a little better at night. Not well, mind you, but better. No, to sleep well, I'd have to forget about that shank shot I hit on the 8th fairway, or the four-foot putt I missed for bogey on the 11th. Or the 6-iron I wrapped around the ball washer on the 15th tee, after dribbling my ball about as far as I could spit it. (But -- thankfully -- past the ladies' tees. Those of you who play know what I'm talking about. Those of you who don't... erm, just ask somebody who does, okay? Ask them what happens when their drive doesn't reach the red tees... just don't ask for a demonstration.) So, no, I'm not gonna sleep all that well for a while. I've got the disease, I'm afraid, and it plants a seed in my brain after every crappy, obscenity-laden round. It's the delusion that 'Next time, I'll nail that putt'. Or 'If I just hock my wife's jewelry and buy those gold-plated platinum Pings, then next time, I'll kick ass'. Or even, 'Next time, I won't swing like a six-year-old girl'. But they're all lies. Dirty, stinkin', rotten lies.

So that's it -- golf's a curse, folks. Fear it. It's too late for me, but you can still save yourselves. Run screaming from golf, and never look back. It'll turn you into a drooling idiot (if this blog hasn't done the job already) -- and I've got the funny hats and Mickey Mouse head covers to prove it. So just say 'no', and lead a happy, loving, fulfilling life. In the meantime, I've gotta get to the driving range to try out my new driver. If I find out by Wednesday that it sucks, then I can still use the refund to get our wedding rings back. See you on the links!

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