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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
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  #6: Six Stitches
  #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, October 25, 2003
Well, If You Didn't Do It, And I Didn't Do It...

So, I've got a dog. I've mentioned this many times before. I've talked about her nose, for instance, and her dubious bladder control, and her unfortunate odor problem, among other things.

But what I haven't told you is how handy it can be to have a dog. Seriously, adopting our puppy is just about the most useful thing I've ever done. Oh, sure, there's the love and the companionship and all that nicey-nice crap. Yeah, that stuff is cool, I guess. If you're into that sort of thing.

But the real beauty of having a dog around is, of course, that I now have a ready scapegoat for just about anything. Not to mention a willing accomplice to help me cover up -- or more likely, eat -- any incriminating evidence. All I have to do is make sure that my wife doesn't actually see me doing something dangerous, or dumb, or downright disgusting, and I'm in the clear.

Say I'm eating chips on the couch.

(Um, you know, healthy chips, of course. Chips made from... um, broccoli or something. Carrot chips, maybe. Baked cauliflower chips?

Aw, shit, who am I kidding? These are not the kind of chips that are good for you. They're greasy, nasty, drippy, salty cholesterol wafers, all right? I might as well just inject Cheez Whiz into my veins, or hook up some sort of pork rind enema. Um, liquefied pork rinds, of course. Otherwise, it'd be all tickly.)

All right. Where the hell was I? Ah. Chips on the couch. Okay.

So, let's further assume -- theoretically -- that I'm a big fumble-fingered slob, and I drop chips and chiplets and salt all over the couch, and quite possibly the floor. Let's even say -- just because we're on a roll here, you understand -- that I don't have a napkin handy, so I wipe my greasy hands on the wall beside the couch. Not cool, right? The wife's gonna be pissed, no?

Well, no. Not necessarily. Every bit of this heinous mess can be erased easily -- and happily -- by my furry four-legged friend. She'll hoover the chips off the floor, and suck the couch clean, and lick every drop of lard off the wall. And wag her tail while she's doing it! It's like I'm doing her a favor -- what could be better? Sure, the whole room is then covered in dog spittle, but come on -- you know how dogs are. That's gonna happen anyway. It's the perfect crime.

But that's not all. Not by a long shot. Even the dog's propensity to drool comes in handy. I'm always patting the dog, or rubbing her chin, and coming away with smears of slobber all over my cuff or sleeve. Disgusting, certainly. But useful. After a few months of walking around with sticky goo on my shirt, it's no longer questioned. People just accept any slimy crap as pooch juice of some kind. You can probably see where this is going.

So now, if I need to wipe my own mouth, or my nose, and I've got a sleeve handy -- well, why not? No one will ever suspect what's really stuck on my cuffs. Hell, I'll even let other people use them. Friends, coworkers, strangers -- what's the difference? Of course, not many people actually take me up on it. The conversation usually goes something like this:

Them: *achoo!*
Me: Gesundheit! You all right?
Them: Um, yeah. *sniffle* Sorry. Do you have a handkerchief?
Me: No, sorry. But here -- use my sleeve.
Them: Uh, that's okay. Maybe just a tissue?
Me: Nah, but really. Here -- just wipe it right here. It's cool.
Them: Dude, that's crazy.
Me: Come on! It's fine.
Them: No! *snurrrf* That's gross!
Me: Look, you need it. Snot on my sleeve, dammit!
Them: Ew!
Me: Here, I'll just rub it for you. Just blow out.
Them: Mmmff. Gah! Get the hell away from me! Help! Police!

Yeah, I don't have a lot of friends. (Why do you ask?)

Anyway, even if no one else wants to take advantage of my situation, there's no reason I have to suffer. I can lie and beguile people into thinking anything is harmless dog drool. And it's not just about bodily fluids, either. I can smear Chapstick on there if I want, or extra deodorant for an emergency.

(Though it's important not to get those two confused. While it's nice to know that I'll never have chapped armpits, it's no friggin' picnic walking around all day with Right Guard breath. Blech!)

Anyway, it's good to have the dog around. I can't count the number of times she's come through for me in one way or another. Hell, I'm thinking about taking advantage of her right now.

(No, not in that way, you pervert. I'm not gonna put on some Barry White and rub kibble on my nipples, okay? And under no circumstances will there be peanut butter applied to my nether regions. Do you know how hard that shit is to get washed out of your hair down there?

Um. From what I hear, that is. Yeah. Ahem. Moving on.)

But I think I do have a use for her. It's not completely unheard of for her to have an 'accident' on the carpet, you see. And I'm sitting on the couch watching football right now, thinking that I've really got to make a number one soon. And our bathroom is soooo far away. I could probably just lean back and 'rainbow' it over there next to her. When my wife comes in, it'll just appear to be another doggie tinkling on the rug. No problem, right?

Hmmm. Nah, I'd better not. With my luck, I'd miss, and pee all over the dog's back or something. That would be a little tougher to explain. 'Um... maybe she rolled in it? Or bounced it off the wall? I can't keep an eye on her every second, you know!'

Yeah, I think I'll just hit the head, and leave the pooch out of this. I almost got caught letting her eat peas off my plate last night. I probably shouldn't push my luck. I think my wife might be just a bit more upset over this 'pee' than those 'peas', too. You gotta pick your battles, you know.

Friday, October 24, 2003
If You're Not 'Da Shiznit', Then Dammit, Don't Say 'Da Shiznit'!

I think it's important to know how cool you are. But more importantly, how cool you're not.

Unfortunately, most people don't. Just about everyone out there thinks they're a lot cooler -- or hipper, or smoother -- than they really know how to be. They think they're 'plugged in' and 'hot shit', when really they're 'nice, in a creepy sort of way' or 'trying too hard'. These folks have no idea exactly where they fall on the cool continuum.

Well, not me.

I know exactly where I stand. Namely, right in the middle. If there was a 'Cool or Fool?' test -- hell, maybe there is -- I'd be right in the middle. A 4.8, maybe, or 5.3 out of 10. Half fool, and half cool. A silky smooth yin to offset a gangly, dorky yang. Equal parts James Bond and Mr. Bean. Yeah, that's me -- James Bean. James Friggin' Bean.

Now, it's not like I want things that way. I'd love to always make the right move, and say the right thing, and to wear my underwear inside my pants. Truly, I would. But it's just not meant to be -- I can fool some of the people some of the time, but other times I dump spaghetti all over myself, or accidentally spit gum at someone while I'm talking.

And that's okay. (Embarrassing as hell, of course, but okay.) The key is that I know my limitations. I've taken a good hard look at myself, and my life, and my sputtering brain, so I know where I stand. And I know what I can and can't get away with, unlike many people walking around out there today. For instance:
  • I can listen to dance music if I want, but under no circumstances should I attempt to sing it. Or worse yet, dance to it. (Besides looking like a walrus having an epileptic siezure, there's a good chance of hurting myself. Or others. Not cool.)
  • I can probably say 'da bomb' without sounding like a goober, but I'll never get away with 'da shiznit'. Correspondingly, this is the only time you'll ever see me use the phrase 'all the hizzle-fashizzle-dizzle'.)
  • I don't 'raise the roof'. Not any more. I used to raise the roof, until I was informed that I look like a praying mantis stuck in molasses trying to do jumping jacks. It's apparently beyond me. So I quit.
  • I can 'shout out' to friends with a 'Yo, dog!' or a 'Whazzup, G?', but only ironically. And only if there's no one else around. And if I'm drunk. And the friend is drunk. And if I don't actually call it a 'shout out'.
  • I can go to concerts (but not to raves). At these concerts, I can shuffle back and forth (but not mosh). I can drink beer (but not martinis). And I can sing along with the song (just not out loud). When the concert's over, I can scoot out the door and get the hell home (not lingering to party/smoke/drink/get laid with the band). And I can talk about the concert the next day (but no one will give a damn).
  • I can watch cool, hip shows like MTV Cribs, Paradise Hotel, That 70's Show, and Angel (and Buffy, for that matter, if I'm 'old-school' -- and I am). But I couldn't actually admit it. And frankly, I'm not really cool enough to want to watch them in the first place, so I just don't. (Well, okay, maybe a little Buffy, now and then. But you didn't hear it from me.)
  • I have no business wearing anything made from Spandex, leather, plastic, latex, or PVC. Nor should my outerpants ever be drooped enough to reveal any part of my underpants. (Or lack thereof, but that's a whole 'nother story.) My niche is denim, rugbies, and the occasional button-down shirt. Period. High fashion is not for the half-assed cool. (And definitely not for the double-assed non-cool. You smell me, Meatloaf and Tom Arnold?)
  • I will never get away with sayings like, 'Snap, yo!' or 'Bling bling!'. It's just not going to happen. 'Homeslice'? No. 'Juicebox'? Man, I wish. I don't even know people who can say 'juicebox' without getting snickered at. No way, man.

As you can see, I've given this a lot of thought. And as much as I embarrass myself on a daily basis -- and clearly, I do -- it's not because I'm trying to be cooler than I can realistically manage. It's usually something simpler than that, like trying to speak coherently, or walking in a straight line, or controlling my 'drool reflex'. But not trying to 'outcool' myself -- believe me, I know my limitations, impressive that they are.

But maybe I can help you. Maybe you're one of the millions of people out there who don't realize that cool and hip and smooth have passed them by. Perhaps you're fooling yourself even now, at this very moment. You might be wearing sunglasses inside, or referring to yourself in the third person. Or maybe you're wearing your visor askew on your balding head, or sporting a FUBU jacket, when the garment is neither F-U nor B-U. Well, I'm here to offer you one simple rule that can help you get over this awful, embarrassing mental hump. The rule is this:

If you can't say, or even think, a word without putting 'mental quotes' around it, then for the love of Puffy, don't use it in public!'

Read that again, folks. It's a powerful message. If you're not completely comfortable with a word or phrase, then it's overwhelmingly likely that you're not cool enough to get away with using it around people who know better. And once you stop saying cool, street-savvy shit that makes you look like an aging clueless asshat, the sooner you'll stop dressing and acting that way, too. Leave the cool shit for the cool kids, man. Someday soon they'll be old and fat and dorky like us -- don't begrudge them their all-too-brief time in the sun.

Seriously, you don't want to be 'that' guy or girl, the one who 'rarf-rarf-rarf!'s with everybody else without really getting it, or struts down the street, thinking they're 'pimping' when they're really just 'limping'.

Take my mother, for example. Fine lady. I love her to death. But shit, people -- my mom's not cool. And I think she accepts that, finally. Back in the day (which I'm just cool enough to get away with saying), she used to try to be cool. But it was futile, and just damned embarrassing for all involved. See, it was obvious she wasn't cool, because she mind-quoted the very word 'cool'. She couldn't just say it, or work it into conversation. It was always obvious she was trying to fit in. We'd have conversations like this:

Her: So, how was school today?
Me: Um, okay. I guess. (Hey, I was a teenager. What do you want, friggin' Shakespeare?)
Her: Didn't you have a field trip today?
Me: Oh. Yeah. We went to the museum. And stuff.
Her: Oh, wow! That's great! How was that?
Me: Uh, all right, I guess. There were dinosaurs. Those were all right.
Her: Yeah, you always liked dinosaurs. That sounds pretty... *pause* 'cool' *pause*. Yeah? 'Cool'? Did I say it right? *pause* 'Cool'?
Me: Bleh. I'm goin' outside to play.

Good Lord and butter, she tried, people. But it wasn't meant to be. Maybe she was cool at some point -- or more likely groovy, man -- but she definitely wasn't cool by the time I knew what cool was. She was just trying too damned hard.

So the lesson is: know your limits. Don't glom onto your crotch and gliiiide through the crosswalk unless you know what you're doing (and you can actually feel something when you go a-grabbing down there). Don't go to a job interview and 'give props to the pimps and the bitches in the hizzouse'. If you've selected a robust and charming Bordeaux to sip with dinner, you're probably not going to get away with pouning the first drink on the carpet in honor of all your 'homies what never made it out da hood'. Just don't even try, all right?

Or if you do, at least check the room first to see what you're dealing with. If you're surrounded by a bunch of other stuffed-shirt old-fart fuddy duddies, then you just might earn some 'cred' with your antics. But be careful. There just might be one or two genuinely cool folks lurking in the background, ready to call you out for being the square cat that you are. And you'll never spot 'em; they're blending in with the crowd. Playing it cool, you see?

So it's best just to save the fronting and posturing and 'hey-hey-hey's for your private moments, lest you cause an unwanted brouhaha in your favorite bar or hangout. (Or Denny's, if you're particuarly delusional. Dude, nobody who was ever cool has gone to a Denny's. It's like oil and water, man. Oil and water.) The last thing you want is to be thrown out of some joint on your ear because you pimp-slapped a waiter, or told the manager to 'talk to the hand, bee-yatch'.

Anyway, I hope this has helped. And this is a case where helping you really does help me, if I don't have to watch you dance or sing or strut your skanky stuff around. I'm just embarrassed for both of us at that point. So be like me and keep it under wraps. Dont' be 'cool' -- just be cool, and everything will be fine. Trust me, I've lived the alternative, and that's not what you want. I still can't get those damned wine stains out of the carpet.

I Could Thank You Properly... But My Wife Would Be Pissed

So, I should apologize. I promised to thank you way back on Wednesday, and have neglected, until now, to live up to my word. Well, fear not, folks. The gratitude is a-comin'. Your patience shall not go unrewarded.

And frankly, as it turns out, I'm kind of glad that I waited. Because as of today, I've got even more people to thank, and just that much more love to spread around. (I may need a towel before this is all over with. Eek.)

But on to the business at hand. (And if you think 'at hand' is a half-euphemism in reference to needing a towel, then you're one sick puppy, man. Oh, sure, you're right, dammit, but you need some serious help. Maybe I'll see you in my therapy group someday.)

Anyway, the thanks. Like I mentioned earlier in the week, I want to send my very most warmest gratitude to all of you who've helped this humble site achieve the milestone of 5000 hits. (No, wait -- that doesn't look impressive enough; I'll add in the comma.) 5,000 hits! (Yeah, that's better.)

So, it doesn't matter that ninety-plus percent of these hits have been from clearly unrelated web searches, and people who -- through no fault of my own believe that I may have 'doctored' nude images of a certain boobly animated bimbo. (Which I don't, of course. Not so far as you know, anyway.)

No, such trivialities are irrelevant. At least a couple of you have stopped by and actually enjoyed the experience. Or at least tolerated it, which is good enough for me. I'll settle for lukewarm indifference, if that's what's on the menu. I'm not picky, folks. But more impressively, a few of you have even returned, looking for another high from a freshly baked batch of hilarity.

(Or you've come back thinking, 'Shit, it couldn't be as bad as last time. Could it?' Again, doesn't matter. You're back. I'm happy. What the hell else is there?)

So, for all you folks -- and particularly those who've taken the time and effort to comment, or to throw a link in my direction -- I offer many thousands of thanks. If you were here, I'd kiss you. You know, unless you're a dude. The most I can offer you guys is a pat on the rear. And then only if we're playing football, or maybe softball, together. Yeah, matter of fact, why don't we just settle on a hearty handshake, all right? I love you guys, but really -- I don't know where your asses have been. Let's not go there, okay?

Like I said, though, today I've got a few other people to thank, and first on the list is my new bestest bloggy buddy, Buzz. Not only was he gracious enough to link to l'il ol' me, but he also wrote a nice note today suggesting that his crowd of readers check out the offerings over here.

And when I say 'crowd', I mean crowd. (Okay, I thought of meaning 'horde', but that has such negative connotations. Don't want to annoy the new folks right off the bat, eh?) Anyway, Buzz has a lot of friends, and many of them have stopped by today. So I want to especially thank Buzz. Go check out his site, folks. (Unless you just came from there, of course. Then you don't have to. I'm not saying you can't go back. You're just not obligated. The rest of you should show the love, though. Chop chop.)

And thanks also go to the...um, Buzzites. (Buzzers? Buzzards? Buzzy-Wuzzys? Somebody help me here.) I hope you're enjoying yourselves here. Go ahead -- have a look around. Take your coat off and stay a while. The more madness, the merrier, I always say. (Okay, actually, I don't. I just made that up. Sorry, thought I could slip that one past you. Won't happen again. Sorry.)

So. Thanks to all, and double- and triple-thanks to some. Cool. Now what?

Well, as long as I'm here, and without a topic to speak of, I might as well leave you with a couple of 'program notes'. A 'State of the Blog Address' sort of thing. (Aw, c'mon -- you can sit through all the ass-kissing I did for you, but you can't deal with a little administrative bullshit? Have a heart, folks!)

All right, I'll keep it short. And I'll be back later with a real post. (Yes, whether you like it or not. Tough noogies.)

So, first of all, I'll point you (yet again) towards the 100 Things Posts About Me. There's nearly as much crap... er, content there as on the main blog site. Plus, I spent several hours this week updating the template to match the funky blue dealie you're looking at now. So have a look. Links are on the left -- no lines, no waiting.

I guess the only other thing would be to mention my current 'gimmick'.

(See, with the subjects around here so dry and boring -- like phantom crotch vibrations and bomb threat nonsense and Goltar, Master of the Universe -- I've got to have a gimmick to keep me from getting bored. Pitiful, ain't it?)

Anyway, a couple of gimmicks have come and gone already. There was CRAP, which lasted about three weeks or so. And there were the daily taglines, which were fun for a couple of months. The current gimmick, devised after several seconds of careful consideration, is to work the current Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day into a post. No matter how ridiculous, or irrelevant, or off-topic. (And frankly, the more off-topic, the better. Have you seen some of these topics? Frightening.)

So that's it. All I can really promise you is that I'll write some sort of goofy blather each and every day. And later this evening I'll return to my usual boobery self. (Oh, man, of all the ways I get to be 'boobery', this is the one. Bitches! On the other hand, if I were 'boobery' in any other way, I'd probably never leave the house. And I'd run out of baby oil. How do you ladies cope, anyway?)

In the meantime, bask in your thankitude, folks. You've certainly earned it. And when the afterglow fades, go check out BuzzStuff. And then come back and click those links -- archives, 100 Things, 'Best of' links, whatever. Just make with the clicky-clicky. This crap's not gonna read itself, people.

Thursday, October 23, 2003
Don't Get All Pissy, Dude -- It Happens to Everyone

Deep down, I'm a helpful person. An assister. An enabler, if you will. Not only do I like to see people better themselves, I often enjoy nudging them along. Preferably against their will, kicking and screaming. With a cattle prod, if I happen to have one handy.

(Hey, I said I was 'helpful'. I never said I was 'nice'. You can't have it all, people.)

Anyway, I've recently come up with yet another way to aid people. This one involves helping people to overcome their phobias and become more productive members of society. And -- since I'm all about sharing the wealth -- I want to recruit all (okay, both -- don't rub it in) of you to do the same. I think you'll find the suggestion most agreeable.

So, the cause du jour is to eliminate 'stage fright'. But perhaps not the kind of stage fright you're thinking of. When most people think of 'stage fright', they have an actor or public speaker in mind, and the person is stuttering and sweaty-palmed at the thought of delivering speeches or memorized lines in front of a roomful of strangers. That's pretty much the standard definition of 'stage fright'.

This, however, is not that kind of stage fright.

No, this is a phenomenon -- nay, a harrowing and debilitating psychological condition -- that predominately affects the menfolk of the world. It's possible that women suffer from it, too, but I don't have data on that sort of thing. Any insights on that -- once I get to the damned point and tell you what I'm talking about -- would be greatly appreciated. Ooh, and pictures would be nice, too. (Yes, you'll realize how perverted that is in just a minute, if you haven't guessed already.)

Okay, where was I? Ah, 'stage fright'. Right.

Now, like all proper harrowing psychological conditions, this one manifests itself in the bathroom. Public bathrooms, most often, though any old pissbucket will do.

(Which, coincidentally, was also the motto of the folks who first colonized Louisiana -- 'Any Old Pissbucket Will Do'. Seriously, why the hell else would they have stayed there? Hot, humid, swampy and 'gator-ridden... look, catfish and 'crawdads' can't taste that good. I don't care what you're puttin' in the hushpuppies, dude. Get the hell back to civilization, would you?)

But back to 'stage fright'. And here's what it is, in case you're still not sure. Imagine you're a guy. (Guys, you can skip this step. Unless you've been having second thoughts, of course. Then, you should play along, too.) Now, imagine you're in a shared bathroom of some kind. In an office, or a stadium, whereever. Now, imagine you've got to take a whiz.

(Sorry if that's a bit saucy, ladies -- remember, though, you're a guy right now. We say shit like that when you're not around. And quite often, even when you are.)

So, no problem so far. But. But. Now imagine there's someone else in the bathroom, too. Using an adjacent urinal, maybe, or washing his hands, or just milling around by the towel dispenser. Maybe there are several people in there with you -- you know, if it's a really big bathroom, or you're in Turkey. Something like that.

Anyway, 'stage fright' happens when that other person or people -- your 'audience' -- gets the better of you, and you simply can't go. You want to go. Sometimes, you need to go. But you can't. It's self-consciousness, or embarrassment, or shyness -- doctors aren't really sure. All we know is that you're about to empty your bladder, and then -- no go. Wee-wee aborted. Piss prohibited. It's the 'other' cock block.

Sometimes you can fight through it. You can calm yourself, and take a deep breath, and just squeeeeeeze like hell, and you might get the flow going. But that's rare. Usually, there are only two options. One is to wait the situation out, and hope the onlookers-who-almost-certainly-really-aren't-looking get the hell out and let you throw down. The other is to admit defeat, zip up, and go on your way. Neither of these are good choices. And so goes the horrible disease known as 'stage fright'.

Just about every man has had it at one time or another. For some, it's chronic. They go into the loo just praying for a solo flight. Others are afflicted only rarely. But we've all been there. We've all felt the shame. It's nothing to get all maudlin and weepy about. We're all in this together. Each of us has stood there for half an hour with our weiner hanging over the bowl and finally walked out, pissed off but still full of urine. Sure, most of us have remembered to wrap Mr. Happy back in our trousers before retreating, but still -- there's a lot of pain and frustration there.

Well, folks, I say 'No more!' I've had enough, and I'm ready to help rid the world of this wretched nightmare. And you're going to help. Here's what we're gonna do. We're gonna keep a lookout for guys who are suffering from this condition. And every time we're the 'other guy' in the bathroom, we're gonna do our part to help eliminate 'stage fright' forever. And what's our part? Well, it's this:

As soon as we detect a 'problem pisser', we'll angle over to the sink. We'll wash our hands -- or just pretend to, as usual -- and then head to the exit. We'll open the door, step aside, and let it close. Without leaving, mind you. We'll hang out right by the door, being vewy vewy quiet, until we hear those first precious drops flowing into the urinal. That's when we'll unleash our cure. Which consists of simply leaping wildly at the person's back and screaming,

'Aha!! So you can piss with someone in the room! Hah! You're cured!'

Really, I think it'll lead to some truly beautiful moments. Tearful hugs and heartfelt thanks. All that shit. It could be the most important psychotherapeutic technique since electroshock. I think it'll be big, and you can all be a part of it. Sure, it could get a bit messy. But I for one think it's worth it. Now who's with me?

Wednesday, October 22, 2003
I Think My Toes Are Frozen... But My Fingers Are Toasty Warm!

I made a rather interesting discovery in my car yesterday.

And by 'interesting', I really mean 'annoying and inconvenient'.

(I hope that doesn't throw you off. I still mean 'discovery' when I say 'discovery', and 'yesterday' when I say 'yesterday'. I wouldn't screw with all the words in the sentence -- that would just be rude. So rest assured that 'I' and 'car' are pretty much what you're thinking of, too.

Unless you're thinking that 'I' is you. That would be wrong. 'I' is me. You weren't there. I checked.

Anyway, it's just 'interesting' that's filling in for other words. I just wanted to make sure we were clear. You may now return to your regularly scheduled blog entry.)

So what did I discover? Well. I'll tell you. (Really, that's the whole damned point, now, isn't it?)

My car's heater / air conditioner has four speeds.

(That's not what I discovered yesterday. I pretty much got the hang of the four-speed thing the first day I had the car.

Okay, fine. It took a couple of days to sink in. I got it in the first week, though. Don't be pissy.)

In any case, four speeds. Air conditioning -- four speeds. Heater -- four speeds. Defrost? Four. Plain old fan? Four. One knob, four settings -- '1 2 3 4'. Pretty standard, from what I've seen out there.

So, the discovery is this: sometime in the last two days, three of those speeds gave up the ghost. Just stopped working. Gave at the office, as it were. All I've got now is '4'. It's gale-force wind, or it's nothing. Hurricane force, or no breeze at all. On all the way, or all the way off.

I can't tell you how fucking annoying this is.

Controlling the temperature in the car has suddenly become a lot like flying a lunar module. The rockets only fire at one speed, namely 'Balls-Out Mega Super She-Canna-Take-Much-More-Cap'n High'. So adjustments get made with short bursts of the jets, which is really not the way you want to handle these sorts of things.

Take this afternoon, for instance. As I mentioned in my last post, I came home for lunch today. It was about forty degrees in Boston this afternoon. Here's how the drive home went:

12:13pm: Reach car after six-block walk (because I have no parking at the office; don't fucking get me started...)
12:16pm: Notice that heat built up from walk is frosting up cold windows. Turn on superheated plasma jets known as 'Defrost, Speed 4'.
12:18pm: Windshield begins to melt. Interior of car reaches 231 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn defroster off.
12:29pm: Interior of car has equilibrated to outside temperature, which is approximately twelve degrees colder than the vacuum of deep space. Decide that a bit of heat may be in order.
12:30pm: Turn on heater at highest speed. Immediately blown backwards a la the fruitcake in that new Apple G5 commercial. Eyebrows are singed off immediately. Steering wheel warps visibly.
12:31pm: Scramble back to front seat and turn heater off. Dashboard is bubbling. Glove compartment is smoking. Temperature approaches that on the surface of the sun.
12:32pm: Get 'bright' idea to use fan to cool car interior off again. Turn on fan, also on setting '4'. Shirt is immediately blown off my body and is plastered to the rear windshield. Icicles form on the moonroof.
12:33pm: Turn air conditioner off. Decide to cut my losses and travel the rest of the way without additional 'help' from the climate control system.
12:38pm: Reach home. Eyebrows are history. Cheeks are windburned. Nipples are frostbitten. Car has depreciated several thousands of dollars in past half hour. I vow to never eat lunch or drive my car again.

Okay. Maybe it wasn't that bad. I made a lot of that up. (Though my nipples are extraordinarily sensitive this evening. Coincidence?) Still, this all-or-nothing shit is not gonna get it done.

Besides the bother of constantly turning the damned thing on and off, it can hardly be salubrious, now, can it? From sauna to freezer, igloo to desert, the Arctic to Hurricane Alley -- this can't be good for my health. And goodness knows I don't need any more help in running my body into the ground. I'm doing just fine on my own. Yeah, thanks.

So I suppose I'll have to have this air circulationy thingamabob looked at soon. I just don't think I can live like this much longer, particularly with winter coming on 'hot and heavy'. Or, to be more accurate, 'cold and clammy'. The last thing I need is a bout of the friggin' flu because I can't get comfortable in the car. Seriously, with just the 'Wind Tunnel' setting still functional, the temperature is where I want it for about six seconds every ten minutes. I get in the car, it's thirty degrees. It rockets past sixty-five or so on the way to friggin' ninety when I turn the heater or defroster on. When I turn them off, it plummets through the comfort zone back to freezing. I'm not sure what the hell I'm supposed to do.

So, if you see me driving along in a snowstorm with my windows down and my shirt off, you'll know I haven't gotten this fixed yet. I'm out there with the heater on, trying to find the magic mix of hot and cold and wind, so I can just set the damned thing and leave it alone. Next time, though, I'll be prepared. I'll have my sunblock on and my nipple-warmers at the ready. I'll beat this thing, dammit. Just you watch.

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Man, I am so tempted to hang around here at home for another few minutes.

It's a slow day at the office.

(Yes, already, after I've been there less than two weeks. No, no, that doesn't say something about me that I don't want to think about. I am not lazy and apathetic and easily distracted. Now hush up. I'm trying to tell you something.)

Anyway, I slipped home for lunch at around noon. In other words, about an hour and a half ago, and it'll take me twenty minutes to get back. I don't think I'll be missed, per se. (Story of my life, that...) But I do want to get something accomplished, and make a good impression, and grow up big and strong and all that shit.

Still. There's this other thing.

Of course, since I'm home, I'm at the computer. And since I'm at the computer, I'm checking out some favorite blogs, and poring over my server stats. And here's what I see, with respect to the latter:

My humble little site has gotten a grand total of 4,995 hits.

(No, not today, you whacked-out asscopter. What do I look like, Silflay friggin' Hraka over here? I mean total, since the dawn of time. Which for the purposes of this discussion was mid-afternoon on June 15th. Nothing that happened before that has any real significance. For now, anyway. You can go back to caring about shit older than that in a minute.)

(By the way, how did 'asscopter' work out? It popped into my head today, and I wanted to try it out. I even thought I might have come up with it myself, since I don't remember ever hearing it before. But as usual, I was scooped. Hell, it's even got it's own domain. Where the hell have I been? One of you couldn't send me a frickin' memo?)

Anyway, I'm tempted to stick around a little longer and write a proper post, thereby (hopefully) bearing witness to the counter as it ticks over the magical 5k mark. I could even blow up some balloons or something to celebrate. If we have any. Or maybe just some old condoms -- like I always say, any inflatable latex bag will do in a pinch. Which, um, isn't usually quite as bad as it sounds. Almost? Yes. Quite? Probably not.

But I really should be going. Oh, I'll be back this evening. I've got a topic all ready for the day (hint: it involves my car), and I'm ready to roll with it. And now, I'll have to also find the words to thank all of you who've helped to bring this site to the brink -- nay, the very cusp -- of a hallowed, if somewhat arbitrary, milestone. Why, I'm all misty-eyed just thinking about it. (Even if most of you first stumbled onto the site while surfing for greasy porn, or quasi-political bullshit. Or greasy porn and quasi-political bullshit. Hey, what you do in your spare time is none of my business. Just so long as you drop by occasionally to say hello, I'm cool with all of your lifestyle choices.

(Well, generally cool. I still reserve the right to put plastic over the furniture and put an ass-guard on the dog if you come to visit. Can't be too careful, you know.)

So, I suppose I'll just have to miss the big event. (Unless it had the decency to happen while I've been absorbed in this bit of blather.) And I'll have to wait until a bit later to thank you properly. And I do mean 'properly'. So get out the whipped cream and assume 'the position', folks. We gonna have a partay when I get back. Ruff!

Tuesday, October 21, 2003
It May Be Weird... But I Never Go Hungry!

So, I was flipping through my list of fun blogs this morning, and came across Lara's litany of weird shit that she does.


I'm not one to play the one-up game... but I think I probably have her beat. I'm just a half-step shy of a straight-jacket and a protective helmet. Any tiny little insult or aggravation could plunge me into the abyss. So don't be a dickhead; you don't want me on your conscience for the rest of your life.

(Okay, fine, so it could be worse, I suppose. Despite my rather obvious failings and peccadillos, I'm still able to function, more or less, in society. I'm not completely antisocial, or maniacal, or misanthropic. I don't belong to a cult. I don't (currently) suffer from psychoses, or mood swings, or even trichotillomania. So it could be worse. Hell, I could be Harland Williams. If that isn't enough to drive a guy off a tall building, I don't know what the hell is.)

Anyway, I don't want to go into the full list of oddball bullshit that I make myself -- and the ones I love, naturally -- put up with. Neither of us has that kind of time. Plus, I've covered a lot of it before; check out some of my 100 Things, or browse through the archives. Really, there's plenty enough maladjusted, schizophrenic nonsense in there for everyone. Trust me.

But Lara has inspired me to mention something that I haven't written about before. First, I'll say that I usually eat the way she does -- crappy junk first, and tasty stuff last. Really, that's the only way that makes sense. You don't want to be down to your last bite or two of dinner, staring at the last three Brussels sprouts or a lukewarm lump of liver. That ruins the whole damned meal. So, of course you gobble that crap up first -- and as fast as you can, lest you smell or taste the rancid shit -- and save the good shit till the end. The steak, or the garlic bread, or whatever's smothered in cheese. That's what eating's all about.

That's not the real kicker, though. What I'm really here to confess is that I'm a 'plate cleaner'. I mean a compulsive plate cleaner. At home, in a restaurant, at a dinner party -- it really doesn't matter. If it's on my plate, and it's not obviously garnish or silverware of some kind, then it's goin' in my mouth. And if there's sauce or liquid of some kind involved, then I'm getting just about all of that, too. I'll use whatever absorbent-looking food I can find to sop, squeegee, or scoop whatever juicy goodness (or even not-so-goodness) is on my plate.

Really, it's not important whether I like the food, though tasty dishes are a lot easier to clean up than bland, nasty crap. But the critical thing is that I finish it. Mealtimes are strategy sessions -- potatoes have to be saved for a while, since they're good at soaking up sauce and gravy. Bread's a good liquid-control food, too. Tortilla chips are good for scooping. Every food has it's purpose and place; my chowtimes are veritable symphonies of action -- a well-placed bit of chicken here, a dinner roll put to good use there. And all the while, the fork is flying -- sculpting, pushing, and mixing the foods, all with the final goal in mind: total and complete annihilation of all foods on the plate. No crumb shall be uneaten. No drop of sauce remains. When I'm done, you'd never know that there was food on the plate to begin with. The plate's clean enough to eat from. (Well, okay, not that clean. There's probably some drool and stuff on it. C'mon, it's just a saying.)

And why do I go to such trouble? Well... um... er... honestly, I don't know. My friends don't obsessively clean their plates. My wife doesn't do it. Hell, my parents don't even do it. You'd think that if I got it from anyone, it would be from my parents ramming, 'Clean your plate! Clean your plate!' down my throat while I was growing up.

But they didn't. One of my father's favorite sayings is, 'Eat what you want. But want what you eat.' Which seems to be some weird, old-fart way of saying, 'Just eat until you get full, then stop. Don't worry about what's left on the plate.'

And yet, I do worry about what's left. Or rather, I would, if I ever left anything behind. But it just doesn't happen. I'm routinely accused of licking my plate, or letting the dog clean it, or wiping the remnants into my hair.

(The last of which probably comes from my being a messy eater, and ending up with food on my shirt, or hands, or yes, in my hair. Hey, I said the food's got to get the hell off my plate. I never said it had to all make it to my mouth. I'm not getting any points for technique here.)

So, that's my story. If I thought you could think any less of me, I might not have told you. But I suspect that this changes your opinion of me very little, if at all. Honestly, how far could I possibly have to fall? And now I'm done. I think I'll go eat a cookie to celebrate. And when I say 'eat a cookie', you can bet your ass I mean the whole cookie. I'll chomp down every last bite, and then mouth-Hoover the crumbs off the napkin. If I lose a few on the floor, that's fine. My loss; the dog's gain -- that's fair. But you better believe that the napkin -- or the plate, if I use one -- will be pristinely clean when I'm done. Why? Dunno. That's just how it happens. When the cookie crumbles in my house, it still gets eaten. No damned cookie is gonna get away from me. Not in my house.

Some Things Are Gonna Change Around Here...

I've noticed lately that I've been making too much sense.

Okay, that's an easily argued-down point. Let me rephrase it.

I've noticed lately that I've been staying on topic in my posts. Too much on topic.

See, if I actually start out writing about something, and actually write about that same thing all the way through, never stopping to smell the roses or launch onto some inane tangent, then the title of this blog doesn't make much damned sense, then, does it? I can't very well say 'Where the hell was I? when I know at all times where the hell I am. It's a simple bit of logic.

At the same time, I've been flying without a gimmick lately. (No, not without a 'gizmo'. Without a 'gimmick'. My 'gizmo' is just fine, thank you very much.)

I used to have a gimmick -- I came up with a new blog tagline with every post, whether I needed one or not. Over a hundred of them, in fact. But I wrapped that up a while back, and since then have been without a trick or twist to spice things up.

Well I say, 'No more!' I've decided to take care of both problems at once. Kill the proverbial 'two pedestrians with one swerve', if you will.

(What, you don't like that one? How about 'kill two Siamese twins with one ill-advised operation'? 'Two nuts with one crack'? 'Two tiddles with one wink'? 'Two...' You know, I forgot what my point was.

Where the hell was I? (God, I missed saying that.))

Anyway, I've come up with a plan for mixing things up a bit, and with a daily gimmick, to boot. Why, yes, thank you, I am just as pleased as punch. Thanks for noticing.

And what's the gimmick, you ask? (Assuming you haven't jammed your eyeballs out with a pencil while waiting for me to get to the damned point.) Well, it's just this:

Every day, from now until the universe stops expanding and implodes in upon itself (or until I get bored of this little game, whichever comes first), I will, once and only once, use the Merriam-Webster official Word of the Day in a post. Doesn't matter what it is, or how little it has to do with the topic I've chosen. And I'm not just going to plop it in by saying, 'Oh, the Word of the Day is persnickety, by the way.' In other words, I'm not going to cheat. I'm going to learn the word, and use it -- highlighted in red or something so you can identify it -- as it's intended in a real, live sentence. I'll find a way, no matter how ridiculous. Just watch me.

So, that's my gimmick. Be on the lookout for it. I just subscribed to get those words in my mailbox every day, and I'm already working on today's. It may not be much, folks, but it's all I can offer right now. Hope you like it. Maybe we'll both learn something. Stranger things have happened, right?

Monday, October 20, 2003
Is That a Horrible Muscle Tic On Your Inner Thigh... Or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

Like most people I know, I have a cell phone.

Un-like most inconsiderate fucktards who own these devices, however, I generally keep mine on 'Vibrate' mode. Which means that I'm not likely to be the asshat whose phone annoyingly goes off in the middle of a meeting, or a concert, or dear old grandpa's wake.

(Which is kind of a shame, really, because I have a much better ringtone than most people, when I do turn the ringer on. When it's not on 'Vibrate', my phone plays the Liberty Bell March by John Philip Sousa. Many of you -- the cool ones, anyway -- will recognize that as the theme music played at the beginning of each episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus. I'm not generally much for musical ringy-dingy bullshit, but this is just too cool. If only it did the *splat* at the end...)

Anyway, my phone's usually on 'Vibrate'. And, if I've bothered to remember my phone -- a hit and miss proposition, I'll admit -- then the phone's typically in my front left pants pocket. So I do get a bit of a jolt (and sometimes a little 'excitement') when I get a call. But that's not the weird thing. Lots of people have phones vibrating in their pockets from time to time.

(And some people have other things vibrating in their pockets. But we're not gonna talk about those people. Or shake hands with them. Don't encourage the pervs, folks. It only eggs them on.)

No, the odd thing is that I've started getting 'phantom calls'. In other words, sensations -- somewhere down there -- that make me think my phone is ringing, when it really isn't. Maybe this has happened to you. Or maybe you're normal -- not knowing, I cannot say. So I'll keep writing, in case you're unfamiliar with this situation.

It'll usually happen when I'm sitting -- in the car, maybe, or at my desk. And suddenly -- *rrr-rrr-rrr*. Or so I think. Something down in the nethers gets all jiggly, in just such a way as to make me think that I'm getting a call. So I fish my phone out, and -- nothing. No call, no missed calls, no love whatsoever. Just the lingering memory of that oh-so-sweet jingly-jangly feeling in my crotchal region, just to the left of the really good bits, along the inner thigh.

Now, my question is, what the hell is causing this? Are there ants in my pants? Is little Winky taking a mid-afternoon stroll around the grounds? Do I have the dreaded 'trembling testes disease'? Or is it all in my head? Somewhere, in the back of my twisted little mind, am I thinking, 'Man, I wish my thigh would wiggle, just a little bit', until I will it to happen?

And am I the only one with this little... um, issue? Anybody else out there get these sorts of vibraty sensations?

(And please, people, these are the only sorts of 'vibraty sensations' I'm interested in hearing about. I get plenty of spam every day advertising 'girls with toys' and 'hot fun with hand mixers' and 'hey, look where I've got my electric toothbrush'. Really, if I was interested in those types of vibratorial shenanigans, I'd just click on the links, all right?

Or... ahem, *cough*, more of them, that is. Hey, I had to see the hand mixer thing. That shit is crazy!)

Anyway, I hope I'm not alone in this particular sordid little mess. I'd hate to think I'm the only one with naughty bits that shimmy and vibrate on their own. 'Cause that would be scary. Help a brother out here, would you? 'Fess up -- you know you're with me here, right? Right?

Of course, if my twig and berries start playing the Liberty Bell March, you're off the hook. Even I know when it's time to call in professional help. Especially if I get the Monty Python *splat* at the end of the song. I don't even wanna know about that shit. Damn.

Oh, Thank God You're Here!

Today I witnessed, yet again, the phenomenon of the 'More Interesting Mutual Friend'.

This little vignette plays out hundreds, if not thousands, of times every day, in offices and at parties and in bars all over the world. There are always three players. The first two are acquainted, but there's something... not quite right with them. Maybe they don't know each other well, or perhaps there's been some previous unpleasantness. Maybe Person A caught Person B with their finger jammed up their nose, and Person B knows they were caught, um, red-handed. So to speak. (Green-fingered? No. Too graphic. Moving on.)

Or maybe the two had a fight, or one knows the other cheats on their taxes, or maybe they had a secret torrid affair that ended in tears, cheap red wine, and court-enforced restraining orders. Whatever. It doesn't matter. The point is that Person A and Person B know each other, but really aren't all that comfortable chatting together, or being alone together, or even standing near each other without an easy escape route.

That's when Person C comes in. (Or 'Person 3', or 'III', or 'Colonel Mustard'... I don't really give a shit what you call these people. Just pay attention.)

Person C is the More Interesting Mutual Friend. Person A knows Person C, and they get along quite nicely. Regular chums, they are. Ditto for Person B and Person C. So when this third actor comes moseying into the scene, the relief of the first two players is palpable. The tension and discomfort just melts away -- Person A can safely talk to Person C, and Person B can chitter back and forth with Person C, and as long as Person C is talking, A and B don't even have to look at each other. As the saying goes, 'Two's a creepy, stilted, nauseating conversation, but three's a party!' Or something like that. Maybe I'm thinking of a different saying.

Anyway, it's an interesting phenomenon, and I got to see another example of it today. I got on the elevator at work -- on the fifteenth floor -- and started riding down to the lobby for some lunch. On the twelfth floor, a woman -- petite, thirties, glasses -- got on. We stopped again at ten, and a man -- thirties, athletic, snappily dressed -- entered. Here's what happened as we passed the next few floors:

Him: Oh. Hey. How are you?
Her: Good, good. Um, good. You?
Him: Pretty good, pretty good.
Her: Yeah.

(Uncomfortable silence as we pass three more floors.)

An older lady of no relevance (to this discussion, anyway; I'm sure she's pertinent to somebody out there) got on the elevator at seven. By the time we neared the fifth floor, it was clear that something more needed to be said between the two, just in the interest of politeness. And so something was said. Namely:

Him: Um, nice pants.
Her: ...
Her: Oh. Thanks.

That's when we reached floor five, and the More Interesting Mutual Friend got on. There were five or six of us in the elevator at that point, but the two I was listening in on nearly leapt at him, so delighted were they to have someone else to talk to.

Him: Hey! Joe!
Her: Joe! Joe!
Him: Woo hoo! It's Joe! Yes!
Joe: Er, hey?

Now, we've all been in these poor folks' shoes at one time or another. We've either been the first-act schlubs, fumbling and farting our way through an uncomfortable conversation, praying that some More Interesting Mutual Friend will come along to save us.

And, whether we've realized it or not, we've been that friend, too. We've walked in on some horrific, skin-crawly, gnarly conversation and saved the day. We probably didn't mean to, of course. We were just walking by to ask a question, or ordering another beer, or heading for the john. And all of a sudden, bap! Suddenly, we're these two peoples' best friend. It's all 'How the hell are you?' and 'Lemme buy you a drink!' and 'Gee, your hair smells terrific!' You just have to realize what's happening -- these people haven't suddenly forgotten that they don't like you very much. They're not really your new best pal, and they're not going to invite you over, or lend you money, or swap spouses with you. No amount of wishing will make it happen, dude. Let the dream die.

But for that one magical moment, you're the best game in town. These folks will be hanging on every word, 'cause anything you say will be a hundred times better than the insincere pleasantries they were just exchanging. You're the cavalry, the savior, the man in the white hat. You the pimp daddy, if only for a while.

So soak it up. Enjoy your time in the sun. Next time, you might be Person A or B instead. You'll be the one clamoring over some half-friend who's saving you from a more helling conversation. But don't feel bad. It happens to all of us. Just do your time and get through it.

Or do what the guy in the story above did, and get off at the 'More Interesting Mutual Friend's floor, even though that's not the elevator button you pressed. Like I said, folks, do your time -- but if you see an out, for God's sakes, take it! Dont' be a hero. Person B wants your ass out of there just as badly as you want to leave. There's no need to prolong the agony. You'll be back in that nightmare soon enough. Trust me.

Sunday, October 19, 2003
I Wonder Whether There's a 'Weapons of Mass Destruction' Checklist

I have an orientation meeting at work tomorrow. Another one.

My new job is cool and all, but splitting time in two offices is a big fat bunch of doo-doo. Ahem. Sorry, didn't mean to get all vulgar and shit on you there. My bad.

Anyway, getting things going is becoming a bit of a pain in the ass. Two offices means two commutes (and reliably cheap parking at neither location), two desks, two sets of bosses, two email addresses, two security IDs, blabbety blah blabbety blah-ble-blah. And two daylong series of meetings to tell me not to share confidential information, give out my password, steal, cheat, lie, or covet my cubicle-neighbor's wife. Or something like that -- I've pretty much decided to pay attention to neither. You know, a sort of non-violent protest against the rampant bureaucracy. Very Ghandiesque, no?

In any event, it's been a chore getting settled in. And to say that I'm 'settled in' after a week would be an exaggeration. No -- no, a misconception. Nope, not that either -- how about a 'bald-faced hopelessly optimistic lie'? Yeah, that's about right.

I like to believe -- as per my M.O. -- that none of this thumbs-up-asses business is my fault. And this time, I might even be right. (For once.) I think I've done all I can to get the ball rolling. I went through orientation at one office a week -- a full week before I officially started. I attended not one, nor two, nor even three, but four meetings in the two weeks before my first day. I filled out all my forms, and made all my appointments, and took my health screening like a man.

(Well, okay, it didn't involve a prostate exam, or even a 'turn your head and cough' kind of thing, so I guess I really didn't take it particularly like a man, or a woman, or anything else. They took some blood and gave me a subcutaneous TB test. Any old mammal could have served the purpose. So I guess I 'took it like a badger', or 'took it like an ocelot', as much as I 'took it like a man'. It's just a figure of speech, all right? Don't be such a tightass.)

The point is, I think I did my part. Yet here I am, six days in, with no email address, half a desk at once site and a borrowed desk at the other, one ID card, no parking, and no dedicated network access in either place. And, most consternatingly -- hey, don't laugh when I make up words, bitch -- another orientation session to go to tomorrow. Guh.

And if that's not enough -- and apparently, it isn't -- I'm not even going to be 'official' at one of the offices for another two weeks. See, there's this other organization (an 'Institute', to be exact) that's being formed on November 1st. It's a collaborative effort between the two groups I'm working for now. And at this second office, they're not hiring anyone under the 'old' regime; I can go through orientation (tomorrow) and be assigned an email address, but I won't have an ID card, an official desk, or any of that important shit until the first of the month.

And really, who am I kidding by saying 'the first'? Please. The new institute may come online on the first, but how long do you think it'll take them to getting around to things like 'Peon Registration'? I'm a worker bee, for chrissakes; my part of the totem pole is friggin' underground. So I'll likely be getting that ID card and desk assignment for Christmas, or even later. Maybe I'll just work out of my damned car. That might be easier. And maybe I wouldn't get so many parking tickets. This job is fucking expensive!

Okay, enough bitching. This is actually going to be a really cool job, and the paperwork shit will be over with soon. So, lest I leave you thinking that the job is all piss and no vinegar... or, um, something like that... I'll tell you something fun about the office I'm going to tomorrow.

So, this is the place where I'm 'sharing' a desk. Actually, I think what I'm doing is more akin to 'commandeering' than sharing, but that's just splitting hairs. The guy who's normally at the desk is on vacation for three weeks. And I'm an orphan until November. We're the perfect deskmates -- I'm polite, considerate, quiet, and don't rummage through his shit. And him... well, he's in another country or something, and therefore physically unable to bug the shit out of me. Like I said, perfect.

Anyway, I'm mooching this guy's desk temporarily. He's got the usual array of books, and notes, and office shit, and assorted 'knick-knacks'. (Though I've been unsuccessful so far in locating any 'paddy-whacks' in his office. I'll let you know if I find any.) All in all, pretty standard stuff.

Then, though, there's the official-looking piece of paper taped to the wall over the phone. It's typed -- obviously a standard form of some kind -- and along the top, it reads, in big black letters, 'ATF Bomb Threat Phone Checklist'. It's one of the funniest pieces of paper that I've ever read. It shouldn't be, but it is. I'm not sure whether that's my problem, as usual, or whether the people who've written the thing are at fault. In any case, I really don't know how helpful this 'Checklist' would be, should the unthinkable ever happen. Perhaps you'll agree.

So, here's what I'm going to do. I'll post the ten questions (and one final instruction) from the form, and for each, I'll try to guess what sort of answer the caller on the other end of the line might give. Remember, this is the form that's meant to be referenced if some psychotic douchemonkey rings up to say that he's planning to atomize the building you're currently standing in. Or 'she'. Could be 'she'. Never is, but could be. Got to give the ladies props, right? One of them could get out of bed one day and decide to dynamite the shit out of an office park. Could happen, I guess.

Anyway, on to the form. After you fill in your name, and 'exactly' what the caller says, you're instructed to ask the caller these ten questions. Here we go:

1. When is the bomb going to explode?

Bomb-Toting Freakjob (BTF) Possible Responses:
  • 'That depends. Is Joe in today?'
  • 'Um, in about six seconds. You might want to finish whatever you were doing before I called. Fast.'
  • 'That's 'When is the bomb going to explode, sir?' I'm the one with the bomb, remember, dickhead?'
  • 'Right after the next stupid question you ask me. Careful, skippy.'

2. Where is the bomb?

BTF Possible Responses:
  • 'It's in the last place you'll look. Ever.'
  • 'It's in the law office on the 3rd floor. I didn't want to hurt any actual people.'
  • 'Up in ya! Gotcha! Ha ha!'
  • 'Um, which one? You want them sorted by size, location, or explosive material used?'

3. What does it look like?

BTF Possible Responses:
  • 'The bomb? It's the shape of a big, invisible six-foot-tall rabbit. Goes by Harvey. G'luck!'
  • 'Well... it's bigger than a bread box. That's all I can tell you.'
  • 'I don't know -- I think looks are so superficial. Don't you?'
  • 'Actually, it looks just like a phone receiver. Which phone number is this again?'

4. What kind of bomb is it?

BTF Possible Responses:
  • 'I'm not sure. I think it said 'TinkerToys' on the box. Could've been 'Lego', though.'
  • 'The kind that goes 'boom'? I'm not sure what you're asking, exactly.'
  • 'Well, it's shy. It likes sad movies, and long walks in the park, and... how is this important again?'
  • 'Oh, it's your kind of bomb. Oh, yes, this bomb has your name written all over it. Literally.'

5. What will cause it to explode?

BTF Possible Responses:
  • 'Um, I don't know, to be honest. Try jumping up and down and see what happens.'
  • 'Another damned fool question like that one. Don't push me, pencil-neck.'
  • 'Tacos and tequila, usually. Oh, wait, no. That's me. Never mind.'
  • 'Well, it's designed to explode when I push this button right... oh. Oops!'

6. Did you place the bomb?

BTF Possible Responses:
  • 'Why yes, I did bring the bomb into your organization. Is there a 'finders fee' for that?'
  • 'Did I 'place' it? No. I did a pretty good job of hooking it up to the bottom of your chair, though.'
  • 'No, smartass. I just know about it because I'm friggin' psychic. Please hold for the Tooth Fairy, ya dildo.'
  • 'Sure, I can place it. It's a couple of feet tall, with blinky lights and a clock timer on top. Why do you ask?'

7. Why?

BTF Possible Responses:
  • 'Why? My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.'
  • 'Oh, you know. 'Disgruntled ex-employee' thing. 'Revenge against the world'. Yadda yadda yadda.'
  • 'Uh, I said 'no' to the last question. What, are you reading questions from a script or something?'
  • 'Because it was there? No, sorry, that's different. What was the question again?'

8. Where are you calling from?

BTF Possible Responses:
  • 'Dude, who are you, Columbo? I'm not that stupid.'
  • 'I'm on the upstairs extension. Get out of the house!'
  • 'Um, actually, I'm in Alaska. I figure this is the closest safe distance away from your building at this point.'
  • 'Not tellin'. You can't make me, you can't make me! Nyah nyah!'

9. What is your address?

BTF Possible Responses:
  • 'Well, let's see. One Two Three Fake Street. Can you send Chief Wiggum over right away?'
  • 'You want my home address, or work address? Or where I'm at now? Be specific, man!'
  • 'Wait, wait, I know this one. 'Gettysburg Address'? No? 'State of the Union Address'? Damn!'
  • 'You may address me as 'Lord Highness'. But most people just call me 'Psycho'.'

10. What is your name?

BTF Possible Responses:
  • 'Uh, Inigo Montoya. Duh. Didn't I just say that?'
  • 'Ooh, yeah, good movie. 'And what is your quest?' Cool flick, dude.'
  • 'What? You don't know my name?! Aw hell, dad. You never could recognize a bid for attention. Damn.'
  • 'Just call me 'Dubya'. Say, you don't sound Middle Eastern. Or even French. Did the operator fuck up again?'

So, after the world of information that you glean from this rather brilliant line of questioning, you're asked to make a judgement of your own. You know, if you haven't been blown into little tiny pieces in the three hours or so it took you to go through the questionnaire section of the form. This last bit of detective work involves a determination of the caller's state of mind, based on characteristics you've picked up from the caller's voice.

Your choices are:


Now, I don't know about you, but when I see a list like this, I can only think of those little 'mood magnet' thingies with a bunch of corresponding cartoon faces that all look like Calvin (of '& Hobbes' fame). Some people (me included) put them on their fridge (or outside their office), and use a little indicator to show people what kind of mood they're in.

(Okay, I don't do that. The one on my fridge is permanently stuck on 'Lovestruck'. Yeah, I'm a dopey married sap. Suck me, all right?

Anyway, most people lie on the damned things, anyway. I always use to check the things before talking to people at the office, and they were always wrong. I'd go in expecting 'Hopeful' and get 'Overwhelmed'. I'd think I was walking into 'Cautious', only to end up with 'Enraged'. I don't even think 'Pissy' or 'Asshatted' were choices... yet that's what I ran into more often than not. Where are the frigging 'truth in advertising' laws when you really need them, eh?)

Anyway, I suppose we're meant to ignore the fact that some of the words on the list are adjectives, and some are nouns. I'm sure such distinctions are irrelevant when there's two tons of TNT packed under your water cooler. And try not to think about what some of the more ridiculous combinations might sound like. Like 'rapid, calm, and lisping'. Or 'deep, squeaky, and slurred'. Just pray that you're never called by a maniacal Oompah-Loompah, or Eric Cartman. Or my mother-in-law. (But don't tell her I said that.)

Anyway, that's my rant for the day. Hope you've enjoyed it. It's taken a while to get all of this out. So I think I'm gonna go into the kitchen, change my mood on the fridge to 'Exhausted' and hit the sack. Same time tomorrow, folks?

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