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  Punchline Fever!

Standup Standup

  11/16/03: Comedy Studio
  12/03/03: Emerald Isle
  12/17/03: Emerald Isle
  01/07/04: Emerald Isle
  01/08/04: The Times
  01/18/04: All Asia Cafe
  01/22/04: The Times
  01/25/04: All Asia Cafe
  01/28/04: On the Hill
  01/31/04: Chops Lounge
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  02/08/04: The Vault
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  02/18/04: Emerald Isle
  02/22/04: The Vault
  03/10/04: Emerald Isle
  03/24/04: Emerald Isle
  04/01/04: Comedy Studio
  05/17/04: Comedy Connection

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  101 Things About For Me

  101 Things Posts About Me

  #6: Six Stitches
  #7: What's in a Name?
  #11: The Speling Bea
  #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, September 13, 2003
Which Is Worse -- Being Crushed to Death or Choked by Begonias?

Silly rabbit... coherence is for kids.

The wife and I made a Home Depot run today. It was our first in a few weeks. Well, my first in a while, at least. I think she may have popped over last weekend to pick up a couple of things, but I haven't been on the premises since... wow, I don't even know. Since I went to get a propane tank for our grill, maybe, in anticipation of our fabulous party a few Saturdays ago.

(Oh, by the way, sorry if you notice me using phrases like 'fabulous party' and 'popped over'. I watched an episode of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy about an hour ago. Apparently, it takes a while to wear off.)

Anyway, we went to the Depot on a quest for concrete, or concrete-like substances. We have a series of low (and not-so-low) garden walls in front of the house, all in various stages of disrepair. Taken together, I'm pretty sure we have every freakin' type of stone wall known to mankind on our property. I fully expect to clear out weeds in the back yard sometime and unearth the rest of Stonehenge.

In all seriousness, though, we have a bunch of different walls. A veritable plethora, even. Just off the porch, there's a short red brick affair. Walk along the sidewalk toward the stairs leading to the street, and you'll pass stone block, some slatey sort of thing, and a flat patchwork kind of large-stone jobbie. Get to the street, and holding up the hill -- and therefore the house -- is an uneven mosaic wall with stones of varying sizes, and cracks of various panic-causing lengths and depths. All of our walls have cracks, in fact, and they all have places with loose stones, or leaning blocks, or weird jagged edges that look like they'll tumble at any moment. It's as though the flowers and grass are pissed off, and are busting loose -- albeit at the piddly rate of a couple of measly inches per year -- to rise up against their humanly oppressors. Namely, us.

And, of course, the single most valuable weapon during any uprising is lots and lots of concrete. And concrete-like substances, of course. So we went looking for some today, to stem the tide of these rogue vegetative vandals. I figure that if we can just patch up the biggest cracks, we'll buy back a few years' time before we really have to deal with the problems, and rebuild some of the walls. Which is not a project that I'm eager -- or likely -- to undertake.

You see, I come from a long line of 'red thumbs'. Some people are green thumbs; they know all about plants, and how to grow them, and care for them, and make them flower and flourish, and most importantly how to prevent them from revolting against their humans. These people... are not my people. No.

My people have red thumbs -- red, swollen, misshapen thumbs with gnarled knuckles and blackened nails. Our thumbs get that way from botching home improvement projects. We hit them with hammers, we feed them into table saws, and we burn them with blowtorches. We wear our twisted and charred digits like badges of honor, to commemorate the projects that we've tackled around the house. Tackled, that is, and failed miserably, usually barely escaping with our lives. We're simply not meant to improve our houses -- if we had any damned sense, we'd just be happy living 'as-is', and moving from home to home as the old one falls into disrepair. We'd be nomads, I suppose, dragging neighborhood after neighborhood down with our inertia. Not the ideal way to live, of course. But at least we'd no longer have thumbs so ugly that we have to wear mittens to go out in public, or so grossly swollen as to require their own seat assignments when we fly. It's not the easiest way to live, let me tell you.

And so, the prospect of rebuilding walls is not one on which I like to dwell. Walls are made of heavy stuff -- bricks and concrete and cinder blocks and mortar. Even now, my thumbs are throbbing in sweaty anticipation.

(And while I'm generally pretty happy when some part of my body is 'throbbing in sweaty anticipation', this is different. It's not quite the part of my anatomy that's usually being 'aroused', for one thing. And for another, the 'action' being anticipated doesn't normally include having the dangly bit in question crushed under a half-ton of cement. I mean, shit -- I like it 'rough' and all, but that's just damned silly.)

Anyway, at some point, the walls are coming down, and I think it's safe to say that I'll be the one building new ones in their place. So, I'll probably be losing a foot, or an ear, or worse, before long. But in the meantime, we picked up some sort of squeeze-bottle mortar and a caulk gun. That should buy us a few months, at least, until I can read up in my 'Brick Walls for Dummies' book. This 'wall caulk' not the heavy-duty shit, of course, but it's also relatively safe. I figure the worst that'll happen is that I'll smoosh my thumb with the caulk gun trigger, or glue my head to a wall with a gray glob of goo. But -- assuming that I pry myself away before the crap dries -- I should get out of it alive. This time.

We'll probably tackle the walls tomorrow. Hopefully, it'll go well. But if not, you'll know that I'm lying under a broken pile of rubble, or that the plants just cut to the chase and came after me. And they're smart, the little bastards. They can't move so fast, but they'll hit you where it hurts. And they can spot red thumbs a mile away. Maybe I'd better rebuild those walls, after all. When I die, I want flowers around my coffin, not choking the life out of my thumbs and stuffing themselves down my damned throat. I ain't goin' out like Grandpa.

Friday, September 12, 2003
Is It Mandatory to Shower Before an Interview?

It's 'Chcken Soup' for those voices in your head.

I'm finally on my way towards jobdom. Which is not to say that I actually have a job yet, but at least I finally have job prospects. And I'm all about the baby steps. (And the baby formula, when we run out of mayonnaise. But I'm pretty sure that's not relevant just now.)

So, after two full months of placement agencies calling me, talking to me, telling me how good -- no, great -- no, *wow* -- my resume looks, and then toddling off to god-knows-where to ignore me completely, I've finally begun to have real, live interviews. With real, live managers. At real, live companies. For real, live money, even. (Though some of the money is realier -- and livelier -- than others.)

Here's the score so far:

Company #1 is a bio-research non-profit organization. One of my old co-workers from my last company turned down a job there, but asked another ex-co-worker if he'd be interested. He wasn't, because he'd already lined up his own new job, but he passed it along to me, and sent my name back to the first guy, and he told the company I'm interested. So far, I've only traded emails with a lady from the company, so I don't think I could have possibly pissed them off enough to be out of the running. On the other hand, that was on Tuesday, and I haven't heard anything back yet. Maybe I shouldn't have used 'Yo, phat chicky' as the salutation, after all. Eh. Live and learn.

Anyway, assuming that I ever do hear back from these folks -- and that the correspondence doesn't consist of a restraining order and a summons of some kind -- I think working there would be pretty interesting. Not terribly lucrative, but that's okay. As long as the mortgage gets paid, and we have enough left over for beer and dog biscuits, I'm cool with that. I'm not looking to jewel-encrust the toilet seats around here, or anything like that. (Though I do have the fourteen-karat gold-plated nail clipper set. Seriously, you can never skimp when it comes to personal hygeine.)

Of course, there's another possible issue with this place. See, there are really two non-profits involved, bits of which are soon to merge into a third organization, which is where the person filling this slot will likely end up. But in the meantime, it's likely to be a 'work in one and get paid by the other' type of scenario. Which, again, is not the end of the world. My checks can come from the 'Flubbo Jenkins Clown College', for all I give a damn, as long as the checks convert seamlessly into cold, hard cash. But the up-in-the-airyness of it all makes me just a bit nervous. I can see the definite possibility of having about seven bosses, all telling me to do different shit. Ever see Cool Hand Luke?

Manager One: Boy, what in the hell is your HTML doing on the VP's intranet?
Me: Sorry, boss. I'll move it to the corporate site.
Manager One: See that you do, boy. Move the whole dang program over there. The VP don't take kindly to sass.
Me: Yessir, boss.

Three hours pass...

Manager Two: Son, I hear your Java code is all over the VP's corporate site.
Me: But ... he told me --
Manager Two: Boy, don't you sass back. Just git that code back on the staging server, dangit.
Me: Yes, boss. Right away, boss.

Four hours later...

Manager Three: What in the Sam hell is this? Get this code off the staging server, boy!
Me: But... but I... he...
Manager Three: You got somethin' to say, son? Don't make me git the switch out.
Me: Yes, boss.
Manager Three: Awright. Now git this code off there and onto the VP's intranet. And make it pronto!
Me: Okay, boss. Whatever you say, boss.

After three days...

Manager One: Son, I thought I told you to get this code off the VP's intranet.
Me: Yes, boss.
Manager One: Well, then, why the hell is it still there? You sassin' me, son?
Me: No, boss. I...I... aaaaaaauuuuuaaaaaaaahhhhh. Boss, don't hit me. I'll be good, boss. I got my mind right now! Just don't hit me any more, boss!

Of course, then I'd just recover, and try to escape again, and I'd end up shot dead after hiding out with George Kennedy in the farmhouse. And nobody wants that. So I'll have to find out more before I'd take this job.

Company #2 is in the healthcare industry. A friend of my wife's works there, and put in a good word for me when I turned my resume in. Of course, that was three weeks ago, so I was actually a little bit surprised when the company emailed me yesterday to set up an interview. I'd started to think that maybe my wife told her friend what I'm really like, and they'd decided not to take any chances.

But, it seems I'm still in the running, and I'm scheduled for a Tuesday interview. They offered me Monday morning at 9am, or Tuesday at 2pm. Hmmm, let's see. Get up on Monday at seven or so, rush to get ready, and then fight commuter traffic all the way to some building where I've never been, and I'm likely to get lost while trying to find? Or roll out of bed at eleven, take a nice leisurely shower, grab some lunch, and cruise over there at one-thirty when there's no one else on the road? I hate to seem under-eager by putting off the interview for a day, but I think I'll take door number two. As long as you're offering, that is.

Besides the convenience factor, that decision also moves me up the depth chart just a little. See, if they have pre-defined time slots, then you've got to figure that they have multiple candidates, and they're scheduling two or three a day to come in. And now someone else is going to get that Monday morning slot. So I'll be better than at least one person in this round of interviews -- really, who looks good and can manage to concentrate at nine am on a Monday morning? I'm lucky if I have underwear on at that point. Luckier still if it's my underwear, and it's covering all the bits that most people typically use it for. So, I figure I can't do any worse than next-to-last. Good strategy, huh?

Then there's Company #3. This one came out of the blue, and has really been a whirlwind ride so far. I got a call on Monday from a recruiter describing the job. Fine. Like I said, I get a lot of recruiter calls, but none of them had turned up anything before. They're like telemarketers that I have to be nice to. More ass than assistance, for the most part.

But this one seemed different. First of all, he actually told me the name of the company in question. Most of the peckers (and peckerettes) who called me were about as forthcoming as a gay catcher in the New York Mets locker room. (Not that I'm naming names or anything... but it rhymes with Briazza. I'm just saying.)

Anyway, this guy was more informative than most. He told me where the job was, and that he'd worked there himself. He pointed me at their web site and emailed me the job posting. He said he'd get back to me by Wednesday at the latest.

And, by jove, he was true to his word. (Whatever the hell a 'jove' is. Just ignore that part. I thought it would sound cool and refined and all, but I don't know what the hell it is. I guess I'll just have to stick with 'by cracky' and 'who'da thunk it'. *sigh* I'll never get invited to any of the good parties, will I?)

Anyway, he called on Wednesday, and asked whether I could do a phone interview. 'Sure', I said. He asked whether 10am the next day would be okay. 'I guess I can find a way to roll out of bed before then. I don't have to have pants on or anything while I'm talking, do I?' He assured me that I didn't, and we were all set.

So, I talked to a very nice lady for about forty-five minutes on Thursday morning, and things went just swimmingly. So swimmingly -- see, it's still italicized; it was just that swimmingly -- that she asked whether I could come into the office in person. 'Absolutely,' I said. How would later that day work for me? 'Just peachy, ma'am.'

(Okay, I didn't say that. I'm not Andy Damned Griffith over here. Nor am I Opie, or Barney, or anyone else on that frickin' show. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course. I'm sure that qualifies as 'classic television' in many backwards Southern areas. And there was some value in the show, I guess. Seriously, what man out there hasn't lusted after Aunt Bea's pie now and then?

Um, yeah. That may have come out wrong. I think I should probably get back to whatever I was talkin' about. Let's never speak of this again, all right?)

Back to the phone interview. After putting me on hold for a few seconds, the lady asked whether I could make it in by noon. That same day. 'Well, okay, I suppose I can sponge off and put some pants on. I don't know if I'll get to shave, though. That's usually an afternoon thing.'

But I went, and I even found time to shave beforehand. And -- from my perspective, anyway -- the interview went well. I spent most of the time talking to a guy in the group, and then to the lady I'd talked to on the phone, who was in charge of the operation. They were both cool, and down-to-earth, and I think they'd be easy to work with. Which sucks for the blog, of course, if I get the job and have no snippy office snarkiness to report. But that's okay -- I can certainly make some up to entertain you with. Or create some by being surly and unreasonable for a couple of days a week. You know, just for the material. That's just how dedicated I am.

So, I chatted with the recruiter guy afterwards, and he said he'd get back to me today with feedback, which he hasn't done yet. I'm hoping he's as good as his word again. The longer I wait for the call, the more I wonder whether I said the wrong thing yesterday, or accidentally insulted someone's mother, or did that weird thing where I zip my fly up and down when I get nervous, without realizing what I'm doing. (Oh, if only they'd make button-fly dress pants, my interviews would go ever so much more smoothly.)

Anyway, that's just about it, although there's a chance that a company #4 is in the mix now. A friend of mine sent me an email with a job description that I might be able to fill. But he's not gonna be able to fill me in on the details until next week -- who knows how many multinational megalithic corporations will be clamoring to hire me by then?

Well, it's hard to say, really, but I imagine somehow that it will still be four. Or less, depending on who I manage to alienate and offend between now and next week. (Do what you're best at, I always say.) Still, it's nice to finally be getting a little action. Maybe soon I'll be gainfully employed again, after all. That's probably a good thing, no matter how much I was looking forward to becoming a starving freelance writer or a struggling stand-up comic. Those things can wait just a bit longer. I figure I should work for another few years before I ask my wife to support me full-time in my frivolous endeavors. Another three or four ought to just about do it. No sense in putting off my true callings too long, right?

Thursday, September 11, 2003
This Is Not How I Thought I'd Join the Century Club

Got blog?

This is my one hundredth post here at the old blog.

(Well, okay, it's really my two hundred and first, if you count the 100 Things Posts About Me that I recently finished. And maybe those should count. Still, this is the one hundredth post on the main site, and so I'm happy to commemorate the occasion. Hey, any excuse for drinking beer and getting naked on a Thursday night will do. Am I right, kids, or am I right? You know what I'm sayin'.)

Anyway, I'm not really sure how to mark this occasion, so what I thought I'd do is belatedly lay down some ground rules around here. Basically, I want to let you know -- now that it's already painfully obvious -- what you can expect from me in this space. So let's see how far that takes us.

First, I'm going to write something every day. A particular post may not actually make it live until the next day (like, oh, I don't know -- this one), but when that happens, I'll post a second one on that day to make up for the boo-boo. Obviously, if I'm ever able to take a vacation again, then I may have to make an exception. On the other hand, I don't know whether I could survive a weeks' worth of this crap stuck in my head without writing it down -- I'd probably start bleeding from the ears after two or three days. My week at home over Christmas break will be a good test.

(Of course, a week with the family over the holidays usually makes me bleed from somewhere, anyway, so I'm not sure whether I'll be able to notice any difference.)

Also, there's the issue of content. This is not a sex blog, nor a porn blog, nor a dirty-talking netsex blog.

(Though I do reserve the right to have sex, watch porn, and type sweet horny nothings while I still own the blog; I'm just not gonna do any of that while I'm writing it.)

I suppose I should elaborate on that just a bit -- it's quite possible that I'll mention sex (or porn stars, or marital aids, or anatomically-correct sheep-shaped blow-up dolls), but you're not going to hear about sex that I'm having. For one thing, you don't really want to see that. And for another, I'm not sure that my wife reads this stuff, but I did give her the URL, so she might. And the last thing I need is to have her kick my ass because I let slip that we did the L'il Bo Peep routine and blew up the Mr. Fluffers doll for the occasion. Which, um, of course, uh, we didn't. So far as you know. Moving on.

I'm also not going to talk about politics. There are approximately seventeen billion political blogs out there, *wah*'ing about this, or *boohoo*'ing about that, but usually trying to oh-so-cleverly point out that the dickheads on the other side of the aisle are a bunch of morons. Well, frankly, I've got no interest, and so you won't see that shit here. If I wanted to deal with that kind of 'he said, she said', finger-pointing cliquery, I'd go back to junior high school. So if that's your thing, I'm afraid this isn't the blog for you. (The good news is that just about every other blog is the blog for you, so go ahead. Knock yourself out.)

Let's see, what else? Okay, two things about the tagline. You know, the 'Nothing but...' dealie at the top of the page. First of all, believe it. Meaning, a lot of the stuff I write about 'never actually happened'. Of course, frighteningly enough, it's almost always based on something that did happen, which is often much worse, and far more embarrassing in one way or another. And don't even get me started on the shit I haven't told you. (Man, if I could only afford that therapy.) So high-fidelity realism isn't really my bag, either. (The 100 Things posts are a bit closer to the truth -- since they're really about me -- but I have been known to take the occasional liberty there, as well. So if you don't want your liberties pilfered, you'd better watch your back.

Also, I'll come up with a new tagline for every post. It'll be in italics, just below that post's title. It'll have nothing to do with the post -- it's just there so I don't wear myself out changing the damned tagline every three days because I have the delusion that I'm getting cleverer. Instead of the other way around, that is. Sure, it puts more pressure on me to come up with one for every damned post, but at the time, that seemed like the lesser of two evils. One hundred taglines later, I'm not so sure. I think I'm just a moron, no matter which way you slice it.

(But an organized moron, and that's at least something. See, after about twenty taglines, I started writing them down, so I wouldn't accidentally reuse one. Which I've almost done a couple of times, so I'm glad I have the list. Not that anyone would notice -- or care, even if they did -- but I thought you should know. It's just that kind of unnecessarily anal nitpicky perfectionism that I bring to (both of) you readers, each and every day. I suspect it's also what keeps me from being successful, sticking with a career, or learning how to dress myself. But I'm willing to make that sacrifice, for you. Never say I don't suffer for my art.)

Okay, I guess that's about it. Really, in the end, my goal around here is to write things that make me giggle. And on a good day, things that make me imagine that other people would giggle at them, too. Preferably while they're drinking a Coke at work, causing them to spew fizzy brown crap out their nose and onto their monitor just as the boss walks by. Really. If I can get just one person fired for inappropriate guffawing while reading my blog, then I've done my job. I just pray that one person doesn't turn out to be me.

So, that's my hundredth post. Thanks for reading it. And a million thanks (that's a hundred times a hundred times a hundred, you know) for those of you who stop by on a regular basis, and comment, and link me, and keep coming back for more punishment. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.

(Okay, stop. Hold on, I'm gonna cry. Hold on -- don't look at me!)

Okay, I'm back. And I do thank you. I'll show you my undying gratitude in the only way I know how -- I'll come back tomorrow (okay, later today, in this case) and write to you again about things that may or may not have happened, and try to get you fired for reverse-snorting cola all over your desk. Really, it's the only way I can repay you.

Well, okay, there is one other way... but I think Mr. Fluffers needs a rest tonight. Don't you?

Wednesday, September 10, 2003
Ninety-Nine Bloggity Posts on the Web, Ninety-Nine Bloggity Posts...

Melts in your mind, not in your eyes.

Well, folks, I finally did it. It took a lot of work, and thousands upon thousands of words, but it's finished.

Please join me in welcoming my very own '101 Things Posts About Me' into the world.

And just in time to meet my needlessly contrived, unreasonable goal -- this is my ninety-ninth 'real' blog post. So I finished the 'About' posts just ahead of my hundredth post. Which is all the more impressive exhausting when you consider that I wrote 74 of those 101 posts between August 29th and now, while still managing a bowlful of blather each and every day here at blog central. That's seven dozen posts in two weeks, boys and girls. Don't ever say you get skimped on the verbiage here at my blog site.

All right, that's enough back-patting for one night. I still owe you a post tonight, so my work here isn't done yet. Of course, I'm a bit exhausted from the diarrhea of the keyboard that I've been experiencing, so maybe I will chintz you, after all. But just a little bit. And possibly I'll back-pat a little more, too. I suppose there's nothing wrong with a little self-congratulation now and again.

So, I think I'll write you a post tonight that will make it easier for you to peruse the 101 Posts, by pointing out some of the entries that have now, looking back, become my favorites. So it's a win-win situation. I don't really have to work that hard on this post, which is good, because I'm beat. But you get not just one post, but one hundred and one. And though some of them are crap, I'll be telling you some of the ones that aren't. So if you came here looking forward to a post today, you can have ten or twelve or more, instead! Go wild, you crazy dog, you. Of course, if you came here not looking for my posts, then maybe you're shit outta luck. But I don't see how copping out on this post with a guided tour sort of thingy really changes that, so I'm gonna ignore you for now. Come back when I can help you with something, would ya?

But for everyone else, here's a list of my most favorite things posts about me. I hope you enjoy them, and maybe even one or two of the others, as well. I'll be back tomorrow, and hopefully with a good idea on how to commemorate this blog's hundredth post. Any ideas?

What I Did on My Summer Vacation
Things You Never Really Wanted to Know About Me, But Were Afraid I'd Blog Anyway

#6. I have only needed to get six stitches in my life. -- A contest, a spill, and a father's betrayal -- or not.

#7. I used my middle name until I was about seven years old. -- A child's journey through hell, and out the other side.

#11. I competed in a regional Spelling Bee when I was eleven years old. -- I never had a chance.

#17. When I was seventeen, I DJ'ed for the local college radio station. -- Only because I'm proud of my obscure '80's band list.

#19. I won a weekend trip for two to Washington, D.C. when I was nineteen. -- It ain't Vegas, baby, but it'll do.

#35. I once road-tripped from Richmond, VA to Hilton Head, SC, overnight. -- My finest automotive moment.

#36. I've been skydiving. Twice! -- Read about the dizzying descent... or at least the preparations.

#40. I have three jokes that I can drag out for at least an hour apiece. -- Just don't ever ask me to prove it.

#43. I once went whitewater rafting. -- Yet another 'extreme' sport gone extremely haywire.

#47. I can work the three-star puzzles in Games magazine. Sometimes, anyway. -- Okay, so, like, twice.

#53. I learned at least one thing from every class in college. -- Can you say the same?

#55. My high school yearbook quote was a Husker Du song lyric. -- I know you don't care. Read it anyway.

#56. I broke my nose playing softball. -- Meaningless runs count just like all the others, you know.

#62. I have walked through the underground catacombs of Paris. -- This one's kinda artsy and shit. No, really.

#65. I once peed on the exact geographical center of the state of Kentucky. -- That's not quite what I meant...

#72. I would much rather be too cold than too hot. -- It's all about the comfort, man.

#78. I always believed that people were essentially good. Until kindergarten, that is. -- It really is a cruel, cruel world.

#85. I've been placed under anesthesia exactly once. I had seven teeth removed. -- It's a miracle they ever woke me up.

#88. The worst physical pain I've ever endured was dislocating my shoulder. Twice. -- The worst before writing all these damned posts, anyway.

#91. I am an only child. (Explains a lot, doesn't it?) -- Wherein I tell you more than you really need to know.

#98. The worst movie I ever paid to see was 'Nothing But Trouble'. -- Even free, it's not worth the money.

#99. I have a soft spot for cows. -- Not that you needed to know, but it's embarrassing, so you'll like it.

#100. I have a small chunk of pencil lead embedded in my right knee. -- C'mon, you wanna know how it got there, don't you?

#101. I have absolutely, positively zero regrets. -- Because we all need one to grow on.

Well, there you are, folks. The two dozen most interesting -- or perhaps most entertaining in their exposing of my foibles -- things about me, as rated by... me! Maybe you like these, too. Maybe you like different ones, instead. Or maybe you hate them all. Whatever. (At least if you hate them all, then you read them all. And that's good enough for me right now.) Anyway, I hope you find at least one that you enjoy out of the list above, and that you'll decide to read more on your own. And believe me, there are plenty more where those came from. Go see for yourself.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003
A Weather Report We Can Finally Believe!

And this is your brain on beer and habanero peppers. Stay clean, kids.

I'd like to talk a bit about the weather today. Or rather, about forecasting the weather, which is impossible, and yet here we are with people on six stations a night with their pretty teeth and non-threatening outfits trying to do just that. I have a bit of advice for these folks. But I don't know any meterologists, so I'm just going to tell you folks. You happened to be closest. Sucks to be you, I guess.

Anyway, forecasting the weather is a pretty thankless job, from what I understand. It's a bit like being a baseball umpire, or an average-looking stripper. (No, really, stick with me here; I can pull this together, really.) The similarity is this: when these folks actually do their jobs correctly, they more or less blend into the background. They're not the stars of the show -- the news anchors, or starting pitchers, or headline acts who were once featured in Hustler. Their work, unless truly transcendently spectacular, goes largely unnoticed and unappreciated. Sure, they get the occasional perk -- an on-location assignment, a chance to call the World Series, the odd lap dance for a bored businessman. But most people don't notice these folks -- not really -- and that's during the good times. But when they screw their jobs up -- well, that's when the hammer comes down. They're stupid for thinking it was going to be sunny today, or blind not to see that pitch was a strike, or crazy to think that shuffling aimlessly across the stage would turn anyone on.

It's sad to think that the best these hard-working folks can honestly hope for is anonymous mediocrity. And, I'm sorry to say, there's little that I can do to help out the men in blue or the pastied ladies. My eyesight's not all that good myself, and I look horrible in a G-string. So I have limited experience in these rather specialized fields, and not much to say, except: hang in there, folks. Keep fighting the good fight. Practice your dramatic 'Safe!!' calls at the plate, and your upside-down jiggling from the fire pole. Your day will come. And in the meantime, you have each other -- given your professions, you can truly understand the plight of the other. This is why umpires should -- nay, must -- spend more time in strip clubs, and why the fine ladies therein should always be kind to them, and show them an extra-special good time. Really -- it's like a moral obligation or something.

(Editor's note: The preceding paragraph in no way reflects the fact that my buddy Joey is an umpire, or that he gave me ten bucks to tell strippers to be nice to him. No, really. It's pure coincidence. Honest.)

Okay, where the hell was I? Ah, weather wrangling. Fantastic.

So, I can't help those folks. Nor can I really help Joey -- how many strippers do you think read this crap, anyway? (I'm still keeping your ten bucks, though, dude. Tough luck.) But I think I can offer some assistance to the weatherpeople out there. I have a couple of suggestions that should make your lives a bit easier, and stem the tide of hate mail that you receive because of freak thunderstorms and blizzards and twisters that you failed to predict. So listen up.

First -- and this is for everyone out there -- we need to realize that forecasting the weather is a difficult, taxing job. No, scratch that. It's impossible. The folks you see on TV try very hard at it, and they have a lot of help behind the scenes, but it just can't be done. You can get just as good an idea of what it's going to be like outside today by interpreting Nostradamus or Rasputin as you can from listening to your local weathermonger.

(Of course, Nostradamus can tell you anything if you take a liberal enough interpretation of the prognostications. They're vague and hand-wavy enough to support the prediction of just about any event you care to select. Hiroshima? Of course. The spread of AIDS? Naturally. The Angels comeback over the Giants in the World Series last year? Sure, if you try hard enough. Look, Nostradamus foretold of my wedding, my layoff, what color my dog was going to be, and that I'd be drunk last Thursday. I'm tellin' you -- mother fucker knows all. You just have to help him a little bit, by filling in the details. Hey, he's dead -- he can't do it for himself any more. What do you want from him?)

Anyway, the inability to accurately predict the weather isn't the meteorologists' fault. It isn't anyone's fault, you see. It's just too complex to wrap our small human brains around. Sure, there are experts out there who can tell you about what the weather might be like, and what usually happens when a cold front meets a warm front, comin' through the rye. But face it -- if one fat guy in Omaha farts in the wrong direction, the whole model is shot, and they're back to square one. The blizzard fizzles, or the hurricane slams into a coastline after all, or whatever. And there are the poor weathermen and weatherwomen, stuck holding the soggy, windy bag. Really, it's not quite fair, is it?

And so, I have the answer. I bring to you today the soon-to-be-patented (hey, my wife works in a law firm; surely she can slip one through for me) Universal Forecast. It's guaranteed to appease anyone listening or watching your weather report, leaving them to blame only themselves should a sudden climatological surprise occur. It's foolproof, it's easy, and it's just vague enough to work. It goes something like this:

Hello, folks -- this is your afternoon weather report. I'm your friendly meterologist, Joe Wetgaloshes. Let's look at the forecast.

All right, it looks like it'll be partly cloudy in the metro area today. It's possible that the sun will peek out for a bit, but there's also a forty percent chance of rain. Some of you may even experience an occasional shower, so be prepared. The temperature will be reasonably warm, though we do expect some isolated pockets of cool air to be drifting through this afternoon and evening. So you may want to hold on to a jacket, just in case.

The barometer is rising slightly, except in those areas of the city where it's actually falling, just a bit. So be aware of that.

The winds are light and swirling, though we do have reports of some gusty conditions at times. So hold on to your hats out there!

And we do have a bit of news on the extended forecast. There is a low pressure system moving slowly in our direction from the south, and a high pressure system, further off to the northwest. We don't expect to see much of a change in our weather patterns based on these fronts, but if there's any change, we'll let you know at least three minutes before the really hard stuff starts coming down. At least.

And that's your forecast for today. So grab your sunglasses, your bathing suit, your umbrella, your coat, your hat, and your long johns, and get out there and have some fun! I'll be back with you tomorrow to tell you the same damned thing, only in a high, squeaky voice. I'm Joe Wetgaloshes, and this has been your guaranteed accurate AccuView forecast. Good night!

Really, who could argue with that? It's got just the right level of detail to scare people into preparedness, and yet doesn't really say anything. It takes three or four minutes to say, and there are lots of times when you can wave your hand meaningfully over a map or chart, as though you're really conveying any sort of information whatsoever. And look at it this way -- how often are your forecasts right now? If you're good, what, maybe seventy-five, eighty percent of the time? This baby's good up to around ninety-five percent! And what's more, I've even got the answer for the exceptions. What more could you ask for?

See, when there's a real weather emergency of some kind, you're going to break into our favorite shows with a forecast update, anyway, right? So during the news, you just give the standard party line as outlined above. Business as usual. But then, when you break in with a 'Weather Watch', or 'Meteorological Emergency!', or 'Have You Seen What the Fuck It's Doing Out There?!', you simply give the following report, selecting the appropriate options for your particular set of circumstances:

Hello, this is Joe Wetgaloshes with a special weather report. We interrupt your very most favoritest show just as [ the snitch is about to get it / the crafty detective is revealing the murderer / the funny fat guy gets himself out of this week's ridiculous pickle / the hot chick strips down to her bikini ] , to bring you this emergency weather alert.

We have reports of an impending and very serious weather crisis which will soon reach the metro area. Viewers should be on the lookout for [ whiteout blizzard conditions / torrential monsoon rains / searing dangerous heat waves / towering tsunamis / alien terror squads / plagues of frogs and locusts ] in their area. We advise all people in the area to remain in their homes for safety. Those unable to reach home should find the nearest shelter immediately.

We further want to stress that this is a real weather emergency, and not that annoying beepy EBS thing that you sometimes hear. We wouldn't cut into your favorite show just for that; we're not quite that sadistic.

Also, based on the data that we have, we must advise that you carefully monitor any [ elderly / children / infants / cats / dogs / fields of wheat ] that may be in particular danger from this crisis, and be sure to keep them [ indoors / warm / dry / cool / underground / uneaten ] at all times for their continued safety.

Thank you for your attention. We anticipate a return to our usual bland, nondescript forecast in a few [ hours / days / weeks / millennia ]. We now return you to your most favoritest show, already well past the good part and near the closing credits.

See? That's it. Just repeat that a couple of times every hour, until the emergency is over, and then go back to the 'normal' forecast. What would be easier? Certainly not staring at isothem maps and radar images and climatological trends, which is what you're doing now. (And paying for it once or twice a week, I might add, when it rains or snows or rivers suddenly turn to blood, just like you said they wouldn't.)

So feel free to use my forecast. Spice it up a little every now and then -- say it in a funny voice, or with a sock puppet, or something. Just don't venture too far from the middle ground it represents, and the complaints and bitches will slow to a crawl. And, of course, if your particular area isn't really relevant for this forecast -- if you live in Phoenix, or San Diego, or somewhere in Alaska -- then certainly, build your own. Call it 'hot and sunny and eighty degrees' every day, or 'continued cold and snowy'. Whatever's appropriate.

The important thing is to find your default forecast and stick to it. You'll make people a lot happier, and you'll free up a lot of spare time for yourself, too. Just be careful if you use that time to hit the beach, or play golf. You never know what the weather will be like out there. Really -- you don't. Trust me.

Monday, September 08, 2003
'And Then She Asks Us Three Questions.' ('Five Questions, Sir.' 'Oh, Right. Five Questions.')

You won't pay a lot... but you'll read a lot.

Well, let's try something a little different today.

Or rather, something exactly the same as other people, but not as me.

Or more specifically (and less confusingly), let's answer some interview questions. Yeah!

So, here's the deal. This has apparently been going on for quite a while now, but no one told me. (Yeah, I'm always the last to know.) But how it works is this:

Someone answers five questions on their blog, posed to them by another blogger. Said question-answerer then offers to ask five questions of any bloggers who request the service, which they must then answer on their sites, and offer to ask questions of the next group. And so on and so on, until every single blog in the world is filled with weird and scary questions, and their weirder and scarier answers. Sound good? Good. Now it's my turn.

So, I asked the venerable 'poo of Shampoo Solo to provide my questions, and I'll answer them below. If any of you out there haven't been quizzed yet, just leave me a comment on this post asking for questions, and I'll find five to hit you over the head with. In the meantime, enjoy my nervous ramblings below. Oh, and read shampoo's stuff, and especially her quiz. It's a thousand times better than the drivel I'm about to come up with. Plus, I hear she has the best boobs in the world. What more reason do you need to read all about her?

1. Describe a time in your life when you were attracted to a member of the same sex.

Damn, you don't warm up, do you, 'poo? Just *pow* -- hit with the hard stuff right away. All right, let's see what I can tell you...

Well, first, I'm assuming that anything involving a mirror doesn't count, right? ('Cause I am a sexy bitch! Yeah, baby! Shagadelic!)

No, doesn't count? Hmmm. Well, I suppose I do point out how good certain actors and athletes look, but it's usually done with tongue firmly in cheek. (And that's my tongue in my cheek, in case you thought I was directly answering your question there. I haven't even begun to do that yet.)

Anyway, it usually goes something like this:

Female 1: Ooh, look, it's George Clooney.
Female 2: Oh, yeah, I like him. What a great actor.
Me: Yeah... he's so dreamy...I know I'd do him!

Yeah, the chicks really dig that. And no, I don't have many female friends. Why do you ask?

But that's probably not quite what you meant, either. So let's see...

You know, this is a tough one. Not because I want to seem overly manly or repressed or anything... it's just that guys are gross, generally speaking. There's all that facial hair and back hair, and scars and stubble and hooks -- you ever seen a woman with a hook? No -- it doesn't happen. But guys have hooks and missing fingers and cauliflower ears and crooked noses... the list goes on and on. Who wants to snuggle up close to that?

So, I'll give you the best example I can think of, and it's more embarrassing than anything you were probably fishing for in the first place. So you'll be happy with that, at least. It also ties in with the 'women's parts are generally nicer than men's parts' theme. (Hey, maybe I could have said the dude in The Crying Game was cute, but I knew all about it before I watched it. So, really, I was just looking for his Adam's apple the whole time.)

Anyway, I was riding in a car with a couple of guys from work a few years ago. It was summer, and the short shorts and T-shirts were out in full force. The guys had been pointing out women throughout the trip from the office to my apartment -- maybe a mile or so. 'Hey, check her out.' 'Wow, is she really wearing that?' Et cetera.

Well, I'm one of the guys, too, I thought. So I scanned around for someone to point out. And there, across the street, mainly hidden behind a parked car, I saw my quarry. Two bleach-blonde heads bobbing up and down. A couple of co-ed joggers, no doubt. I had to jump on this quick before one of the other guys stole my thunder.

'Hey, looks like a couple of hotties at ten o'clock.'

As it happened, we were turning left, and would be passing them momentarily. And we did, and there they were. Two pre-teen boys, running and skipping along the sidewalk, their hair bleached from three months in the sun, not drowned in bleach from a bottle. Like a co-ed jogger might do, or a stripper. You know, someone appropriate for the ogling and pointing I was prepared to do.

You can imagine the ribbing I took. Or hopefully, you can't. They say that justice is merciful and swift -- well, this couldn't have been justified, because it was neither. I'm not sure I'll ever live it down. It's one of my most embarrassing moments.

On the other hand, the taller kid gave me his number. And in just a couple more years, it'll be legal to call him. I wonder if I still have that piece of paper? For all I know, he was one of the Hanson chicks. Er, dudes. You know what I mean, dammit.

2. Your wife and your dog both fall over a cliff. you can only save one of them. which do you choose?

Damn, 'poo, you don't let up, either! If I wanted questions this hard to answer, I'd tell my mother I have a blog. Sheesh.

So, let's see -- dog or wife, wife or dog. I think I know the answer to this already, but let's go through the pros and cons, shall we?

First, the dog. I'll start with the 'pros' of not having her around (i.e., letting her fall to her cliffy death):

  • No more dog food, and treats, and bones, and toys to buy (except for the stuff that tastes like beef jerky; we can keep some of that around)
  • Those mysterious stains on the carpet will finally go away for good (except the ones I've been blaming on the dog)
  • No more nasty farts in the living room (unless my wife's just been blaming the dog, too)
  • The pizza guy will stop chucking the box to us from the bottom stairs, and asking us to toss the money down to him
  • I'll finally be able to lie in the floor without having my face licked (though I reserve the right to ask for such a thing in future)

Wow, quite a list. But let's see what the 'cons' of losing the dog would be.

  • I'd have no one to turn upside-down on my lap and play 'I'm a Little Teapot' with (my wife won't hold still long enough)
  • I might have to worry about cats ever coming around, without the protection of a big slobbery fool to stop them
  • Chicks would never talk to me on the street any more (not that it does me any good, but it's nice to be noticed)
  • I might have to start licking the bottoms of tuna cans myself, if I want to get them 'clean'
  • Clearly, a lot of things would start being blamed on me (and even if it's true, that could be rather inconvenient)

Well, it looks about even for the pup. How's about the spousal unit? First, the 'pros' of letting her take the 'Nestea plunge' down a ravine:

  • I'd get all straight 'A's, automatically (oh, wait -- that's different, and I'm not even in school any more; never mind)
  • I could finally realize my dream to become 'that crazy man who lives down the street'
  • For once, I could leave the toilet seat up if I damned well felt like it
  • I'd only have half the groceries to lug up our stupid front steps (but probably twice the booze, so maybe that one evens out)
  • Two words: life insurance (and two more words: Ferrari Testarossa) (and one more, but hyphenated: over-compensating)

And the 'cons' of losing the wifeykins down a mineshaft?

  • I'd have to play 'keep-away' with the dog's favorite toy by myself (and that's not the proper way to torture your pooch)
  • She'd probably haunt the shit out of me, if she knew that I saved the dog instead of her
  • Now I'd be drinking alone most of the time -- and you don't have to admit a problem until you start drinking alone
  • I'd never get my facorite ziti dish made just the right way ever again (the special ingredient is love... or oregano; I never really asked)
  • I'd be losing my soulmate, the one true love of my life, and my partner in more adventures than I could ever count

So, that seems about even, too. Oh, sure, the 'soulmate' thing is all touching and shit, kissy-kissy, all that. But she does have a fair amount of life insurance, and got some more when we bought the house. That's a lot of money, people.

But in the end, I'd definitely have to save my wife. I love my dog and all, but I've only known her for four years (and already she's peed on the carpet almost as many times as my wife has in thirteen; the dog's clearly not trying). Plus, as torn up as I would be, I can always go back down to the pound and pick out another pooch for free, and bring it home the next day. Mail-order brides cost way more than that, and they're the easiest kind to get. Going through all that courting and dating and shit again? Please! Who has that kind of money, nowadays?

So, it's definitely my darling, beautiful wife that I'd save. And while the deciding factor might be that she's the only one of the two who might ever read this post, that's certainly not the only factor. I love her, and if that makes me wrong, then dammit, I want a fucking recount!

But what I really want is to throw a question back shampoo's way: just exactly who is it that's gonna hurl these two toward their messy, splattery deaths in the first place? 'Cause I think I'll just kick their ass, and be done with the whole thing. It's all about nipping in the bud, folks. Nipping. In the bud. Remember that.

3. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?

All right, what I really want to say is 'my basement', since it's not particularly habitable at the moment, but I have such big plans for it. So in a way, I wish that all that shit were done, and we already had a nice room or two down there to live in.

But I know shit, you see. I read The Monkey's Paw, so I know that wishes like that, that seem so simple, are the ones that get twisted and turned around. So I'm not wishing for that, lest I end up in a huge fight with my wife, and have to sleep in the basement, as-is, with the cold and the dank and the hard concrete floor. You're not gonna get me that easily.

So, to re-answer your question, I think I'd go to Ireland. Any hard-drinkin', party-lovin' place that looks as beautiful as Ireland does in all those boring PBS shows must be a cool place. Oh, I'd probably have to live in one place for a while to get my Yank feet wet, maybe affect an accent and make up a backstory. Then I'd move to my real target area -- whereever I deem that to be -- and live as a native.

You see, I hear they're none too impressed with 'outsiders' in a lot of those places, and least of all 'ugly American outsiders'. I can't do much about the 'ugly', but if I can fool them on the other two counts, maybe I'll just have a shot at going 'round pub and sittin' with me mates for a pint. Or two, or ten. I guess I'll have to build up my tolerance, as well. These people can throw down the brewskis. Er, lagers. Lagers and Guinness. See, I'm learning already!

4. Tell us about the time you were hit hardest in the balls.

Ah, the stories I could tell you. I have a rich and stormy history with this sort of thing. Or as the Iron Chef folks might say, 'luxurious'. (Hell, they call everything else 'luxurious'; why not getting your baby bells rung?)

Anyway, I've had a lot of experience in this area. I know all about having my dingleberries donged, and my acorns buried, and the little twins spanked, and my nutters buttered, and Tango and Cash given a pink slip, and being Gitcheed in my Gumees, and getting a hammerin' in my hoohahs. (And only a couple of those are really euphemisms for sex that I 'borrowed'... but I bet you can't tell which ones.)

But in the end, I know the absolute worst example. The time when I never thought I'd be able to breathe without pain, much less walk or piss or play One-Eyed Wiggly Winkie in the bathtub ever again. Here's how it happened:

I was about eleven years old. I was on my Little League team, playing first base. It was a practice day, and my Dad -- the coach -- was hitting grounders to the infielders. We'd been doing it for a while -- long enough for the young infielders' mantra to come out of my father's mouth, over and over: 'Stay down on the ball. Stay down on the ball.' This is to avoid the embarrassment of having the ball roll under your glove, a la the infamous Bad News Bears. Fine.

So, he hits a sharp two-hopper to me. I gauge the path of the ball from the first hop, and drop my glove right on the ground. I widen my stance, the better to block the ball, should anything unexpected occur. And a good thing, too. Because on the second hop, very close to me, the ball hit something among the infield dirt. A rock, perhaps, or a bottle cap. And instead of gliding into my waiting, outstretched glove, it hopped up, over my glove and hand, and slammed straight into the Rockettes. (Such as they were at the time. I'd barely even found them, and I almost lost them.)

I'm happy to say that I didn't weep. Oh, a tear or two might have squeezed out from beneath my eyelids, but I did not cry. I moaned, of course. I heaved. I crawled like a wounded soldier toward the sidelines, as though there were some medic there who could make me right and safe and whole again. But there was no medic. Only the pain, and so I stopped crawling, and rolled from side to side, just hoping that when I took off my pants that night, nothing but nylon and elastic would come off with them.

After a few seconds of my writhing and wailing (but not weeping; let's be clear about that), my father reached me, and asked where the ball had hit me. Now, I don't remember what my vocabulary was like back then, so I don't know quite how I indicated to him that I was clearly never going to sire him a grandson, based on where the ball had hit me. But somehow, I got the message across. And so, he delivered -- as was his duty -- the sage advice that fathers and coaches have been offering to children in my situation since time immemorial:

'It's okay; just get up and walk it off.'

Walk it off. 'Walk it off,' he says. Look, if I walk, it'll fall off! Can't you see that I've been mortally wounded here? Those puppies are so far up me, I can almost taste them. (It may have even literally been true, though I prefer to believe that it was the sweat and dirt on my face that created the musky, salty taste in my mouth. It's just easier for me to sleep that way.)

But eventually, I found I was able to walk -- like a bowlegged cowboy, but I could walk. And in time, the little peepers peeked back out, and the pain subsided, and I could get back to a normal routine. Not that day, of course. I was done practicing, and I dare say that I was a little shy of ground balls for a while after that. But I got back on the horse, and played again, and even fielded my share of grounders.

On the other hand, I had just a few go through my legs, too. I love baseball and all, but I only had one glove out there. And sometimes you've got to make hard choices. It's all about the priorities.

5. You win a $1 billion lottery jackpot. what's the first thing you do?

Okay, I'm going to assume you mean with the money itself. Because, from what I can tell from all the lottery winner footage I've seen, the very first thing I'm supposed to do is question the whole business. 'Really? I don't believe it!', 'You're joking.', and 'Stop pulling my fucking leg, you fatass tease!' You know, that sort of thing.

And then I'm supposed to shriek, and jump up and down like a moron, and hug everyone within reach, and gasp and whoop and ooh and aah, and blah blah blah. Can't I just have a little dignity while I'm accepting the prize? Is this how the prim and proper do it in Britain? 'Cause I think it's got to be much cooler over there:

Ed McMahon, only British: Hello, hello. Are you Mr. Tingiblets, then? Mr. Randyhorse Tingiblets?
Mr. Tingiblets: Yes, yes I am. And you're that lottery sort of person, then, aren't you?
Ed McMahon, only British: Why, yes I am. And thank you so much for recognizing me. Do you know why I'm here, then?
Mr. Tingiblets: Well, I've never met you before, so I suspect it's not for tea and crumpets.
Ed McMahon, only British: Ha, yes, very good. No, it's not for tea, Mr. Tingiblets. It's to tell you that you've just won a billion pounds!
Mr. Tingiblets: Ah, yes, well. Pip pip, old man! Jolly good. Jolly good, indeed.
Ed McMahon, only British: Yes, I'm ever so happy to present you this check for the amount, and these lovely balloons.
Mr. Tingiblets: Ah, jolly good. Yes, lovely balloons, those. Well, this is quite the surprise. I simply will have to tell my wife all about it.
Ed McMahon, only British: Ah, that would be brilliant. I'm sure she'll be pleased. Well, I won't hold you up any longer. I'm off to deliver more checks.
Mr. Tingiblets: Yes, of course. Well, thanks for popping 'round. Lovely to see you in person. Sorry you have to go so soon.
Ed McMahon, only British: Well, the work of <Ed McMahon, only British's name> is never done, you know.
Mr. Tingiblets: Yes, quite right. Well, thanks again. The balloons are simply smashing, and I'm sure we'll find a use for the money. Cheerio!

Okay, so maybe that's not quite how it goes. Still, I'm certain it has to be better than Thelma and Earl in their double-wide trailer, waking up Aunt Bethel and cousin Gummy on the fold-out bed to tell them about all the tractor pulls and NASCAR races they're going to finally be able to go to. I'm just saying.

But let's get back to the cash. Suddenly, I have a billion dollars, thanks to 'poo. (Who also tried to throw my wife and dog off a cliff, and slam me in the nuts, but we've made up now. Funny what a billion bucks can do for a relationship, isn't it?) So what would I do? That's a damned good question.

Of course, the honest answer is that I'd probably put that money away, and hire a damned good financial advisor, and not really see that much of it right away. Oh, my wife and I might take a vacation for a week or two, but I don't think she'd quit her job. Nor would I quit looking for a job, myself. I might look for a different kind of job, in writing or comedy, but I'd still want to work, and I think my wife would feel the same. We get bored too easily if there's absolutely nothing to do.

But I don't think we'd really change much. We're happy with our house, and our lives (except for the 'me-needing-a-job' thing; that's starting to get old). We'd finish off the work on the house that we've been planning, and probably quite a bit more that we haven't been planning for the near future, but I don't think we'd move, or buy a new car, or anything like that. We'd spend some cash on our parents -- a beach house for mine, and whatever the hell her mom and dad want (who can tell with in-laws?) -- and we might add a little more convenience to our lives, but that's about it. Start ordering groceries again, maybe, instead of going out ourselves to get them. (That extra ten dollar charge doesn't look so big next to a billion dollars, all of a sudden.) Or hire a health consultant, to help us find time and menus and routines that will help us to get into better shape. That sort of thing.

And finally, we'd throw a few parties for our friends, or help them out whenever we could. I think in general that we'd try to keep the winnings as secret as possible, but of course word would leak out. Ed McMahon has a big damned mouth, for one thing. But I'm sure that the lottery folks would want to put us on TV, preferably holding their magazine, or soda can, or whatever. And then people would know, and we'd have to be low-key about the whole thing. But we could give a little to our friends here and there, or throw big parties just for them -- renting out bars, or bowling alleys, or Fenway Park, just for our pals. Yeah, that'd be cool.

But I don't think the billion dollars -- or even a few dozen million bucks -- would be in any danger of being frittered away, leaving us in the debt that seems to plague many 'lucky' lottery winners. For one thing, my wife wouldn't let that happen. She's too sensible for that. (And thank god, because I would probably just go frickin' crazy with the cash if she weren't around.) So we'd splurge a little, but I think we'd do a lot better than most with our money. And it would never become an issue, and we'd live happily ever after, right here in this house (with its automatic temperature controls, backyard jacuzzi and embedded bigscreen TV behind the huge bar in the basement... um, all of which are 'minor' items we might 'splurge' on, given the opportunity). And that's your story.

But, of course, that's boring. We're really not doing anything with the money, and there are no fights or shady land deals or anything. So here are a few things that I might do -- not first, of course. But maybe 'soon after', once the thought of all that money sinks in, and I can get all liquored up (on aged Dom Perignon, of course) and start writing checks that -- for once, goddammit -- my mouth will be able to cash. I might:

  • Buy Paraguay and Uruguay, and switch their damned names. I was always getting them mixed up on tests in school.
  • Buy the Yankees from George Steinbrenner and rename the team the New York Poopypants, with graphically suggestive uniforms to match.
  • Invest in the new diamond-making technologies I saw in Wired last month, just to piss those DeBeers fuckers off. Lousy gem-hoarding bastards.
  • Buy the University of Georgia and reassign President Mike Adams as a jockstrap-scrubbing locker room towel boy. Yeah, me and him go way back.
  • Hire a posse. I think I'd either go the washed-up celebrity route (Brian Bosworth, Joe Piscopo, the fat guy from Herman's Head) or the not-washed-up Playboy Playmate route. But then the wife would want Chippendales, so I'd better stick to 'Plan A'.
  • Drop thousand dollar bills at tips in my favorite bars and restaurants, and see how the waitstaff react.
  • Yeah, you know what? Ditto that for any non-aggressive homeless people that I see. Those folks need the love, too.
  • Maybe I'd try to get the Replacements back together to play in my backyard. Or Husker Du. That would kick ass.
  • Arrange a tryout with the Newark Bears of the independent baseball leagues. Hell, everybody else has.
  • Get the Victory Brewing Company to build a refrigerated pipeline from the Philly area to my kitchen sink, so I can have a cold Hop Devil any damned time I want.

Yeah, you know, come to think of it, that first bit about the billion dollars was boring. Now I want to do all of the shit on this list. So just hand over that billion, 'poo, and I'll get started. Um, 'poo? Shampoo?

Shit, she left. And didn't give me the cash. Well, poop.

(Man, I am so not letting her hit me in the balls again...)

Sunday, September 07, 2003
Please Be Patient... We're Experiencing Ocular Difficulties

The audience is slobbering.

Hey there.

I'm afraid that I have a bit of a problem here.

I can't see. Which makes it awfully hard to type.

(Not impossible, obviously, but much, much harder.)

Well, I suppose not being able to see at all would make writing very difficult, indeed. Proofreading, at the very least, would be most challenging.

But I can see 'at all'; I just can't see 'very well'.

You see (even if I can't), I just lost a contact lens. So while my vision is about as good as ever through my right eye, old lefty is on a blurry vacation. And that makes it rather difficult to focus. Everything has a hazy indistinct edge surrounding it, including each of these letters that you're reading. Rather inconvenient when you're trying to type them out in some semblance of comprehensibility.

So, first of all, I don't think I'll be writing much today. There's just too much chance that I'll accidentally spell 'shot' with an 'i', or 'duck' with an 'f'', and not notice it. (Or, given the way my blog entries usually go, vice versa.) And I can't stand typos. I'm sure there are a few already lying around the blog somewhere, but I don't know about them. If I see them, they're dead, 'cause I hate 'em. But if they can manage to avoid me, then they've got a shot at survival.

(I play the same game with bugs around the house. They can feel free to hang around, as long as they stay out of sight. But bite me, or sting me, or even buzz annoyingly around my head, and they're toast. I can only be pushed so far by petulant invertebrates. Come to think of it, all of the above applies to telemarketers, too. Hey, and department store clerks. It's a universal rule! Cool!)

Anyway, where was I? Ah, typing, and the high standards to which I hold this blog. (Yeah, can't you tell?)

So, I'm not going to have much for you until I find this lens, or another one just like it. My backup set apparently didn't survive the move to the new house, which is unfortunate. I don't remember making a conscious decision to throw them out, but maybe I did. Or maybe my wife did, or my dog ate them when I wasn't looking. In any case, I don't see them around here. Which may be simply a result of my current condition -- if my backup lens case is on my left side, and more than eight inches from my frickin' nose, then I'm not going to see it.

(Well, I might see it, but it's unlikely that I'll recognize it. I'll probably think it's an egg, or a pack of gum, or something. My eyesight is really bad, I'm afraid. As a matter of fact, my laughably poor eyesight is number three on my Top Ten List of Reasons Why I'm Glad I Wasn't Born a Caveman. Care to see the rest?

  1. I don't know what wine to serve with mastodon.
  2. No showers until it rains. Everyone would have that ground-in funk stank. You know, like France, without the parfum.
  3. My wife has short hair. What would I pull her around with?
  4. My dog would be five feet tall and weigh two hundred pounds. And scheming with several of her closest friends to try and eat me.
  5. I'd have to wear animal skins. PETA would be all over my ass.
  6. We'd have to keep a fire burning non-stop. And second-hand smoke is so annoying.
  7. I'm not really a fan of clubbing people over the head. Unless they're telemarketers, of course.
  8. I can't see without contact lenses. Which means I'd either die by falling into a tar pit, or trying to hump a woolly mammoth.
  9. I'd have to live in a cave. A cave! Can you imagine how bad the cable reception would be?
  10. Beer wouldn't be invented for several thousand more years. Who wants to live in a world without beer?)

Okay, lost my place again. Where the hell was I? Ah, contact lenses.

Frankly, I'd like to get the Lasik surgery, or whatever they're calling it now, and just get it the hell over with. I've got gas-permeable lenses, which are relatively rigid, and can't be worn overnight. (Okay, they can, but I don't recommend it. I've tried it a couple of times, and I wake up feeling like someone funneled honey under my eyelids while I was sleeping. Ick.) But the surgery's kind of expensive, and I'm still not sure they know what's going to happen twenty years down the road. I'm just waiting for their patients' eyes to start deflating suddenly, and just leak out of their heads after a few years post-op. That would put a bit of a damper on things, wouldn't it? 'Um, yeah, I think I'm happier jammin' my fingers in there a couple of times a day. At least I don't have to worry about my eyes bursting like a damned balloon. Thanks just the same.'

But that's crazy talk, I'm sure. (What else would you expect?) The bigger risks -- though relatively small -- are that the surgery would get botched, and I'd end up blind in one eye, or with a big laser scar across my cheek. (Hey, who knows when you're gonna have to sneeze?) Or that the procedure wouldn't 'take', and I'd have to go back to contacts in ten years, or five, or three. And for a few grand per eye, that's not shit that I want to deal with. I'll pony up the cash if I'm sure the docs won't screw it up, and that I can -- deliberately, this time -- throw away all my old contact lenses for good. But I haven't done my homework yet to know how real the risks are. (And I can't do it now -- I can barely friggin' read with one contact. Bitches!)

So, I'd better get this taken care of. I'll head off in the morning to a lens place, and see what they can do for me. I'm crossing my fingers that they can provide same-day service, because one of my volleyball leagues starts tomorrow night. And besides the dubious chances I have of driving to the gym with one eye, there's also the game to be played. And I've got no depth perception to speak of right now, which is just a hand-engraved invitation for the ball to *bop!* me right in the nose. Which happens often enough as it is, without going in with a disadvantage.

So if I can't get a new lens tomorrow, I'll have quite a conundrum on my hands. The team's short-handed this week as it is -- would it be better for me to miss it altogether, or to come 'short-eyed', risking personal injury and vehicular damage just to play a game? Yeah, you're right -- when I put it that way, it's pretty clear, huh? I've definitely got to play. There's just too much danger and adventure involved to miss out on that. Maybe I'll even up the stakes, and take out my other contact. Um, wait, no. Never mind -- if I did that, I wouldn't even be able to find my damned car, much less drive it. Truly, I'm a blind man trapped in a contact-wearer's body. (Or something. But not that, probably, because that didn't really make any damned sense. Maybe not being able to see is affecting my brain, too.)

Anyway, I think that's all for me. All of this one-eye concentrating is giving me a headache. (Honestly, how do pirates do this all the time?) Hopefully, tomorrow, I'll have my lenses in place, and my brain snapped back in position, and all will be back to normal. (Okay, fine -- 'normal'. Did you really have to make me quote it? Bastards.) And if not -- well, then you'll get another one-eyed, half-witted post.

But I sincerely hope that's not the case. I'm sure this post is littered with typos, and not being able to catch them all bugs the piss out of me. In fact, the whole situation's starting to get under my skin. To put it most forcefully:

'This is duckin' bullshot.'

I'm sorry you had to see that. But I sure as hell wish that I could.

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