Monday, October 31, 2005

All Hallows Eve

Christians, god love them, come in three basic flavors: Catholic Vanilla, Orthodox Strawberry, and Protestant Chunky Monkey. All of them believe in a Jehovah-father-god figure; a Jesus (Jesu) (Yeshua) Christ (Christo) (Kristos) Messiah-son-figure; and a Satan (Shatan) Adversary-accuser-figure along with his demon cohorts. Most of them share a concept of Hell, heaven, and the afterlife; sin and redemption. All of them, across the board, without exception, collect money from the faithful in the name of God. However, that's where the similarities end.

Catholics come in sub sets, Roman, Irish, American, etc... Orthodox too: Russian, Greek, Eastern... And protestants?? Well, every three days, some snake-handling Yahoo gets gets an epiphany up his sanctimonious ass and starts a new congregation. Now, the old school believers, Catholic and Orthodox get all hot and bothered about Saints. (So do the Voodoo practitioners, but that's another blog entry.) However, the protestants don't give a rat's ass about them. Old dead Christians were probably good folks, but really, isn't it blasphemy to pray to them? And don't get protestants started on the worship of Mary! Good lord...

So, here's where the irony kicks in, Halloween, All Hallow's eve.. This is a holiday, rumored to be about the celebration of evil, which exists only where Christianity exists. Buddhists? Not so interested in Halloween.

So, Catholics and Orthodox have a ton of saints, and will continue to accumulate more. (I'm working on my own beatification: "Saint Brian, the Pretty Good") As the Christian juggernaut rolled over Europe, the respective churches got pretty good at assimilating, in a Borg-like fashion, all things pagan: Easter? Christmas? Very very pagan. (Somebody show me where it says in the Christian Bible to put a Druidic Tree shrine in your house...)

Anyway, I was talking about saints. So, some Pope, I think it was one of the many Benedicts, decided that they needed a catchall holiday to celebrate all of the saints and all of the martyrs, lest anyone get left out. Oh, lets just incorporate it into the end-of-Harvest pre-winter celebration of the dead that all of our pagan servants are observing, I'm sure no one will notice. Thus, All Hallows was born, and in good old Catholic yin-yang tradition (see Mardi Gras) All Hallow's Eve soon followed. The idea being, that the evil spirits should be excised before the saintly feast.

The Orthodox did the same thing, but they co-opted a Spring ritual rather than an Autumn one.

Witches, devils, demons, sin, heresy, all of these things, would not exist if it weren't for Christians to believe in them. So, the rituals of Halloween, a completely Christian holiday, were developed to excise the evil spirits the day before the big omnibus celebration on November 1.

Then came the protestants, with their starched collars and disdain for all things saint-related. They see the Catholics' focus on evil on Halloween, but fail to see the purpose, or even recognize a glimmer of goodness in the following Saints' Day. So, the Protestants create, as a function of their ignorance, intolerance, and superstition, a day completely devoted to the worship and practice of evil. If it weren't for the involuntary collusion of Christians, there would be NO devil's day.

It makes me want to punch somebody.

And the Mormons? They believe the Indians used to be Jews, and that horses and elephants were indigenous to the Americas. They just need to shut the fuck up, and sit down.

OK, so that leaves us with our modern practice of dressing up in scary costumes, and wandering door to door begging for hand outs. Say what you will about the moral implications and the lessons we teach our children, trick-or-treating is a kick in the ass. But please, somebody explain to me the teenagers that knock on the door at 10:00...

Jesus, did I ever ramble. Is anyone still reading this? Well, thanks for sticking it out with me. Here is a picture of the Howler Monkey in her ladybug costume. (yes she went trick-or-treating, and yes, I ate her candy.) Oh, and our pumpkins...



Sunday, October 30, 2005

Costume II

Surprise... Surprise... Surprise...

Your Haloween Costume Should Be
Candy Corn

The Devil

As Halloween Week continues here in the Lounge, I thought I'd share with you a recently captured photograph of Satan, the Dark Lord of the Underworld, Prince of Lies...



Friday, October 28, 2005

Costume

Two days until Halloween? Got your costume yet? I've been trying to come up with mine.
So far I've come up with:

1) Typical Pacific Northwest guy
2) Guy drinking beer
3) Guy getting a lap dance
4) Guy taking nap on sofa.

So, what are you going as?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Mummy

When I die, I'd like to be buried in dirt without a box. I would like nature to take its course, and turn my body into mulch for a nice tree or maybe a shrubbery. Admittedly, that option is not for everyone.

One of the oldest options for those afraid to be eaten by worms is mummification. The sacred ritual of having one's body turned into jerky for all of eternity, once popular with pharos, is now all-the-rage amongst the Botox set.

That’s right, mummification. A little start up called Summum is now offering modern mummification to those who wish to completely blow what little inheritance they had stored up for their children, before they die.

For the right price, the entire family can be stuffed and mounted. And, when I say the whole family, I mean everyone, even the guinea pig.

So, that leads me to wonder about my own family, and especially my dog, Strider. (I just can’t carry the fantasy far enough to include the aquarium fish...) As you all know, Strider is a lover, not a fighter. I mean, he will track and destroy moths and mosquitoes, but when it comes to intruders, he’s all licking and tail wagging.

So, let’s say I were to drink some low-quality bathtub mescal, and decide to blow the howler monkey’s college education fund on mummifying the dog; just what sort of pose should I choose? I mean this is a life-long decision. This is a decision that will outlive me, since the mummy may be around into the next millennia.

Should he be posed in a state of fright with a squeeze-toy in his mouth? Should he be posed, gnawing through a bovine-phallus-sized rawhide bone? No. No, there is only one pose that will forever capture the spirit of Strider after he has crossed over…

If I ever decide to mummify my dog, I will have him posed, humping a Mormon.

Curse of the mummy, indeed!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Ghost Story

I do not believe in ghosts. I do not believe that we have souls. There is no afterlife. That having been said, after sitting in the dark all evening, organizing the information that I’m about to give you, I am thoroughly creeped-out.

That and I keep hearing a creaking noise outside, like there is something walking up and down the steps to my upper deck. The dog is inside, but he keeps acting agitated. I wonder whether something doesn’t want me to tell the following story.

In my job, I see and hear some very unusual things, most of which I am not allowed to discuss. I am permitted to tell the following story, though, since I was not directly involved. I do know some of the attorneys that were involved, and no one really likes to talk about it anymore. The following facts are documented in Portland Police Bureau investigation reports and court records.

A traffic accident occurred on February 9, 1992, at 10:30 p.m., in the eastbound lanes of I-84. It was dark and raining hard. Four motor vehicles and one phantom moving van were involved. Multiple emergency units arrived at the scene, including Portland police officers and Multnomah County sheriff Deputies. As is typical in events like these, multiple officers contributed various portions to the overall accident report. As no criminal action was ever taken, no officer ever sat and reviewed the contents of the report as a whole.

The driver of vehicle number one said that there was a small green or blue car in front of her in the left hand lane. She observed a large moving van change lanes from the right, directly into the small car. The small car lost control and rolled over several times, coming to a stop upside down. The moving truck drove away.

Driver number one slammed on the brakes to avoid the small car, but was severely rear ended by driver number 2. After the collision, an off-duty nurse who appeared to be in her early twenties came over to her and helped wrap a gash that she had on her arm.

Driver number two was behind number one. He did not recall the phantom truck, but did recall seeing the debris from the small car rolling. He recalled Driver number one slamming on the brakes, but he had no time to apply his own before striking number one.

After the accident, he also recalled speaking with a young off-duty nurse. She asked if he was OK, and said that he was fine. He thought she moved on to assist driver number one.

Driver number three was in the middle lane behind the moving truck. He saw the truck hit the small car and drive off. He then took evasive maneuvers to avoid getting hit by the rolling car. Unfortunately, he overcompensated, and struck the concrete barrier on the far right shoulder at about 45 miles per hour.

Both of his wrists were fractured. Driver three told the police that a young-looking girl in a hospital uniform came by and rendered first aid, helping to immobilize his injuries.

The police report indicates that vehicle number four was a green Volkswagen Jetta, which had rolled numerous times and was found at rest on its roof. The driver was a 23 year old woman who was on her way home from work. She was dead at the scene.

A lawsuit followed. Since the moving truck drove away, the mother of the deceased girl sued her own insurance company. All of the witness depositions were eventually held at the same time in one of the lawyer’s large conference room.

At the deposition, as the stories of the witnesses about this mystery girl started to come out, an unpleasant sensation came over the room. Folks who were there have had trouble describing it. Some have said that the room got hot. Others said that it felt like the air was escaping. More than one person experienced physical nausea.

Eventually, one of the witnesses spoke up and asked if there was any way to see a picture of the deceased. Slowly, the mother of the dead girl pulled a picture of her daughter (in her Nurse uniform) from her purse and passed it around the conference table. Each and every witness looked at the picture and identified the dead girl as the one who tended to their wounds after the accident.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll be sleeping with the lights on tonight…

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Voodoo Juju, Mojo Jojo


Finances Fizzling? Love life lacking? Embroiled in a feud with your village priestess?

Tired of being told that the science and rationality of the west is best? Fed up with the mangy mantra of self sacrifice, perseverance and hard work? Then do I have the voodoo for you-you

My friend, you have come to the right place. Put away your worry and doubt. As your cyber bartender, I play many roles. I am your friend, your confessor, your story-teller, your news-source, your messiah, and your shrink. Surprisingly, though, and what you may not realize, is that I am also your witch doctor.

That’s right baby, these feet are firmly planted on the meridians of power crisscrossing mother earth. The pure potent power of my magic will alter the course of your life for ever. I embody the voice of the saints. I wield the mojo of the very Vodous in my jujus, if you know what I mean.

Best of all, I’m here to help, and for a limited time only, my help is free. That’s right, gratis. No charge. At least until I get fired for spending too much time checking my blog during the day, watching fervently for friendly feedback to quench my undying need for external validation… but I digress.
My magic is your magic. I have for you, absolutely free of charge, no less than three completely genuine voodoo spells, with instructions, taken from highly reputable online sources…

SPELL FOR LOVE

Cast this spell on a Friday as Venus, planet of love and romance, also rules this day.

-Concentrate on the love you wish to invite into your life
-Light two candles.
-Hold a Rose Quartz in your hand and gaze into the candle flame
-Repeat the Angel invocation below:

Archangel Anael, I invoke thee on this Venus eve
To grant me my wish
I ask for love eternal and true
May the flame of the candle
The fragrance of the Rose
Carry it afar
And grant me my hearts desire
So Mote It Be (Mote??)

Thank the Archangel for helping you.
Leave the candles to burn out.
(I take no responsibility for any harm caused by your unattended candles. Use caution)
Eat one green Apple and save the seeds.
Place the Apple seeds and the Rose Quartz Crystal on a window ledge where they will attract the magic of the moon.
The following morning as soon as you arise, plant the Apple seeds in a pot with suitable growing medium.
Look after your seeds in a caring way and as the seedlings begin to grow, love will come into your life.

PROTECTION

Should be done during Waning or New Moon
Purpose: to protect yourself and/or loved ones from all types of harm.
Lightly anoint a small, white candle with Frankincense oil and a small, blue candle with Myrrh oil. Light both candles and then sit or stand before them. Look into the flames and visualize them bathing you with a glowing, protective white-blue light. Imagine their fire creating a flaming, shimmering sphere around you. Say the following words:

Craft the spell in the fire;
Craft it well; weave it higher.
Weave it now of shining flame;
None shall come to hurt or maim.
None shall pass this fiery wall;
None shall pass, no, none at all."

Repeat this every day if needed.

SPELL FOR WEALTH

Cast this spell for wealth and prosperity on a Sunday
On the first stroke of Midnight light an oil burner and a gold candle.
Hold a silver coin in your right hand (this is your receiving hand).
As you gaze into the flame of the candle repeat the Angel Invocation:

Archangel Michael I invoke thee to grant my wish tonight
Grant me my wish
And ease my plight
Money luck not greed
Enough to fulfill my needs
Grant my wish and I will remember
To give as I have received
So Mote It Be (There's that word again)

Thank the Archangel for helping you, and allow the candle to burn down.
Keep the silver coin in your purse or wallet along with some Citrine, this will ensure you will always have enough money to fulfill your needs.

What? Too chicken to invoke your own semi-deity? Too lazy? Fine, if you don’t want to do it yourself, then this woman will do it for you. Whatever, I was just trying to help…

Sunday, October 23, 2005

'Scuse me while I kiss the sky

Look, I had a bottle of wine with dinner. No, I didn't split a bottle of wine with dinner; I HAD a bottle of wine. So, if my funny words are sad or disjointed, kiss my ass.

I love you.

OK, here we go.

Sun Valley. It is not pronounced, "Sun-VALLEY" or even "SUN-Valley." No, as it has been drilled into my head, it is pronounced as one word: "sunvally." It is spoken as if you were in a hurry to reach the end, in an expedient fashion.

History lesson: Some time back in the 1800s, some grizzly stanky-assed prospector and anti-social malcontent found some shiny piece of metal or other in the Sawtooth foothills in the middle of Idaho, long before Idaho was a place. People came and dug holes, more shiny metal was found, but not nearly enough to go around. Eventually, movie stars came and skiing was invented. Or, something like that. I don't really know, I’m usually drunk most of the time that I'm there, and only half-listening anyway.

One additional tid-bit, Sun Valley isn't really Sun Valley. See, the actual Sun Valley is a relatively small private resort. The surrounding city, which most people consider to be Sun Valley, is actually the little town of Ketchum.

Anyway, Ketchum is a small town, likely to get bigger, then rapidly get smaller. In the last few years, as I have visited, I have met Peekaboo Street at my wife's high school reunion, and have seen Clint Eastwood at the supermarket. I have also stopped for a visit to Ernest Hemingway's grave, and watched a movie at Bruce Willis's movie theater.

The benefit of visiting the in-laws in Ketchum is that they seem to know every single person in town. Having held the door open for the Mayor of Boise in Boise, I was able to meet the leading city council candidate, and the only Republican mayoral candidate of the city of Ketchum, in about five minute's time. (Go Maurice!) I suppose that is the benefit of buying expensive coffee in a city of roughly 3,000.

Not only was I rushed into the political frenzy, intrigue and underbelly of Ketchum in that moment, but I was actually introduced to greatness at the same time. For, standing next to, and in apparent support of, "Maurice!," was none other than Dick Fosbury, the 1968 Olympic hero, and innovator of the Fosbury Flop. I, on the other hand, am not famous yet, so I ordered a "Bowl of Soul," and sat my ass down.

Things like that happen in Ketchum, more regularly than any one cares to admit. It wasn't but a few years ago that a well-known aging action star, and current Governor of California, nearly ran my mother-in-law over with his then-new Hummer. On Saturday, I took a hike (walk) on a bike path that was cut to within 20 feet of Senator John Kerry's winter-home's front door. (The secret service must have had a conniption over that one last year...) and a new construction project was pointed out to me, which is rumored to be the new time-share getaway for a couple of guys named Spielberg and Howard. Mind you, I was in the mountains of IDAHO, not the hills above Malibu.

Surrounded on all sides by opulence, all I wanted was a good burger, and a good burger I had, thanks be to the monkey's grandparents, and a small dive called Lefty's. If you're ever in the valley in the shadow of Bald Mountain, I recommend Lefty's, and when they ask what size beer you want, go big. Trust me on this one.

So, on our last night in town, as we wandered out of Lefty's, we stopped to pick up a few touristy trinkets for our dog-sitter, Ann. As we Left Chateau Drug, the only store open at 8:00, the missus and the mother-in-law, winked knowingly to one another, for we were not headed immediately back to the homestead. No, I was in for a surprise, the existence of, and plan for which, was a complete surprise in and of itself.

It was a surprise desert, for down the alley, and across the street was nothing less than Rocky Mountain Chocolate Company. Holy Christ on pop-sicle stick!! It was the home of the every-loving super-fantastic dapple-to-end-all-dapples, Granny Smith Apple Pie Caramel Apple. The single greatest thing I've ever tasted. Jumpin Jahosephat!! If I weren't so goddamned dehydrated from my ungodly consumption of alcohol tonight, I'd be salivating right now like Pavlov's freakin dog just thinking about it.

Unfortunately, the crapass bastards that run the Ketchum RMCC branch forgot the all-important crushed graham crackers. So, the potentially Super-Duper caramel-dunked apple was only "Duper," rating an 8.5 out of a possible 10. Nonetheless, it was most pleasing, and a true surprise.

So, here I am, back at home. Howler monkey is back in bed, and the new car is back in the garage. The dog is at my feet, and is enjoying a moderate sized rawhide. All is well with the world. Oh, but wait, what about the twice-promised naked cheer leaders?? Well, that was admittedly a hoax to get you to read further.

OK, Geez, fine, fine, for the prurient interest in all of you, I will show you a group of naked cheerleaders. (Warning: These are actual naked cheer leaders!! For the love of god, if you don't want to see naked cheer leaders, don't click HERE.)

Happy?

Perverts, all of you...

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Wooded City

Boise
L' Boise
The wooded city

It's really not so wooded. Don't get me wrong, there are trees there, but not trees to the degree that one might call "wooded" or even "woodsy." It is a burgeoning metropolis nestled in the bosom of the foothills at the edge of the great inland dry plains. It is a city finding it's way, popluated in apparently equal measures of college students, cowboys, and high-tech worker-bees.

My fabulous friend, Mary, lives there. We did lunch. Mary is one of those shiny people who should have been a movie star in the 1930s. We ate fabulous food, and had a fabulous time. We even spotted the mayor. It was great to see Mary, just like old time, but really, she should move to Portland.

The family circus then set up the big tent at the monkey's uncle's house. Well, aunt and uncle, but, well, you get the point. Anyway, it was there that I first encoundered Belle the Wonder-Dog. Able to leap into trees in search of squirrels, she is also able to wag her tail-stub fast enough to send it back in time. Einstein would need to devise entirely new theories just to quantify this puppy's wagging capacity. Like a cartoon, she left dust contrails behind her as she buzzed a circuit across the dry river bed.

The monkey and the wonder dog got along famously. So well, in fact, that Daddy and Uncle had time to sneak out for some long-awaited disc golf. Finally. As some of you may recall, one of the original premises of this blog was that I'd discuss disc golf. Alas, there have been no entries, until now.

As a disc golf venue, Boise is in it's infancy. There are very few courses open to the public, but the sport is growing, and I predict that soon there will be a veritable plethora of courses from which to choose. "But Brian," you may ask, "what the hell is disc golf? Is that like frisbee golf or something?"

Shut up, you ignorant goat. Disc golf is the greatest outdoor activity since sex in a tent. The sport was invented by "Steady" Ed Headrick, who happened to also be the inventor of the modern Wham-o-brand Frisbee, but the sport is NOT PLAYED WITH FRISBEES. Rather, it is played, using golf-like rules, with aerodynamically designed golf discs. Score is kept like golf, or it may not be kept at all. Good karma directly impacts your game, and karma is gained by doing good works. (picking up trash on the course, returning found discs to their owners, etc...)

Uncle drove us to his local course, and we had to break a few traffic laws to get there. (The Man was keeping us down) Once there, I firmly established the fact that I haven't played in over a year. It's all good though, because, it's about being out on the course, throwing discs... (or so I tell myself) Uncle proved to be well-practiced and quite good. Daddy upheld his long standing practice of hitting trees.

The course, while being quite neat and clean, seemed to be built through the middle of a boggy swamp. While having completed the 18th hole (basket) we backtracked in search of the ubiquitous missing disc. I wandeered slowly out onto the mossy surface of the bog, testing the firma of the terra as I went. All seemed well, until I felf the give beneath my right leg. Down I sank, quite literally up to the knee, into the black tar-like mud that smelled almost as good as death. I feared a fate like Cleavon Little in Blazing Saddles, until my foot found purchase on some sub-mud foundation. So ended my short-lived 2005 disc golf season.

Stay tuned for more of Howler Monkey autumn tour 2005 from the highways and byways of Idaho, with more on resort politics, the Fosbury flop, the long-promised naked cheerleaders, and Sen. John Kerry...

Friday, October 21, 2005

You Da Ho? No. I Da Ho...

Greetings from the gem state. It's the autumn tot-tour, 2005.

That's right, the traveling circus carnival show that I call my life, is on the road once more. With the raw-hyde slayer left safely behind in the watchful care of our buddy, Ann; the missus, the howler monkey and I ventured out onto the open road looking for adventure, or whatever comes our way.

Unfortunately, the first thing that came our way were some angry cows. Now, the first thing you think of when I say, "angry" is not necessarily "cows." Nevertheless, there they were.

Having driven through the night to maximize the cover of the monkey's sleep schedule, I pulled off of I-84, into the sleepy rural paradise of Baker City, Oregon. Strangely, and unexpectedly, roadside motels in Eastern Oregon seem to close at 10:00. I'm not sure how that is possible, but there was more than one locked lobby door with a very politely handwritten sign thanking you (me) for stopping by, and inviting you (us) to stop by again in the future, but also delicately suggesting that you (we) bugger off because they were closed. Crapass bastards!

We eventually found, in the less-than-genteel district of this not-quite-civilized slightly-glorified truck stop, a perfectly adequate Super 8 motel, which unlike a certain other well-known chain, actually DID leave the lights on... A truckload of possibly-gay cowboys (seems to be the rage these days) got out in front of us. It was nearly 1:00 a.m., and the rodeo queens seemed to be having the same problem as us. The road gods be praised, however, Janice the mustachioed desk maiden had room for all of us.

It was on the walk back to the very-comfortable new car, that I first heard them. Cows. Very angry cows. There is no mistaking the sound. While a happy cow may sound something like "mmmoooouuuu..." An angry cow simply says, "Moo!" Usually, there is some stomping and snorting to along with it, both of which there was plenty of in this instance.

There seemed to be a small herd held in a nearby trailer. I cannot speculate about the cause of the disturbance. Perhaps it was a chupacabra. Maybe it was one of the wayward ass-slapping ranch hands. I just don't know. What I do know is that their protest persisted well into the night.

The following morning found us on course for Boise, where we lunched with our fabulous friend Mary, played disc golf in a swamp, visited with the monkey's aunt and uncle, and watched Belle the wonder dog jump into trees in search of squirrels. So, stay tuned, more about Boise, naked cheerleaders, and Ernest Hemmingway coming soon...

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

An Ode to Cheddar

O mighty yellow Cheddar
I think you are much better
Than all those other cheeses that I've found

You are tastier than Gouda
Who woulda thought you coulda
Come in handy little bricks or in the round

You lose nothing to Havarti
When you're both served at a party
With crackers on a tray that you surround

Now, I have to hand it to you
You’re quite good in any fondue
But you're best when you are toasted golden brown

Monday, October 17, 2005

Six Magic Words

The Costco Membership Auto Sales Program is utter and complete Bullshit, with a capital B. The pre-negotiated pricing and simple no-haggling sales methodology is exquisite crapola. Private party, wholesale fleet, and email mass-negotiation are the only ways to buy a car.

Unfortunately, I needed a new car, and was left to play my least favorite game on Sunday, "Car salesman negotiation." Fortunately, I negotiate large numbers for a living, so it was a little like sport, and only a little bit like jock itch. God, I hate car salesmen! Look, I'm a lawyer. I know people don't like lawyers. But, I take solace in the fact that most people rate certain other professions beneath lawyer, like dentist, politician, Nazi death camp commander, TV reporter, and car salesman. And really, at the very mud-sucking bottom strata lay the lying sack-of-shit soul-sucking car salesmen. Motherfuckers. (Bitter much?)

So, we make the necessary phone calls. We make the necessary appointments. We wait the appropriate amount of time to avoid the appearance of desperation. I wash the trade-in. I research the Kelly blue book values. I research the Edmunds dealer-cost reports. I research the JD Power reliability ratings. I compare competitive payment calculators. I research the available incentives and rebates. I am prepared. I am girded. I am ready for battle.

On Sunday, we met Aaron. He scampered over to meet us. Hell, he scampered everywhere he went. Aaron was our bitch. Aaron was the authorized Costco sales manager. Aaron reminded me of the shorts-wearing bicycle cop on Reno 911.

So, the super-magic, ultra-secret, eyes-only, membership-privilege price? Right. Invoice, which everyone knows, isn't even in the same fricken area code as the actual dealer cost. Bitches! Fine, throw down, here we go.

Then we meet Ammar. He plays cricket. He's also the finance and insurance manager (F&I). He informed me that my trade-in was worth less than I knew it was worth. The cost of the new car was higher that we had just been told, and the financing rate was a joke. I summon my best poker face. I consciously resist the contortions of contempt spreading across my face. "Well," I say, “This isn't what I was expecting." Although, it was exactly what I dreaded.

The Howler monkey dropped a fist-full of cheerios onto Ammar's industrial charcoal gray carpet. I subtly crushed said cereal with the toe of my loafers. The missus takes the monkey for a walk.

Up. Down. Black. White. Higher. Lower. More. Less.

This isn't going to work. Fine, walk out. Now, this is the point of no-return in negotiation. I'd say that it works 90% of the time, because no one wants to lose the deal, regardless of what the deal is. However, you have to mean it. Like Blackthorn in Shogun, you have to know that you are willing to fall on your sword. You have to mean it. You have to accept the consequence of the walk out. If you say you are going to walk out, but you hesitate, you look longingly in the eye of your opponent, you stop at the door waiting for the counter offer, and they will call your bluff. No, you have to be seriously on your way out the door for it to have its full effect.

"Ammar, Aaron, it was a pleasure. This isn't going to work for us today. Thank you for your time." Shake hands. Walk straight for the door.

Then... Then. Then! Ammar utters the six magic words I've been waiting for. It's been a slow day. I've been watching the lot. I know they need a sale. "What do I need to do?"

Ammar wants to know what he needs to do to make this happen today. He knows damn well, as I have been pointing it out for the last hour, but slowly, I lay it out in small words and pictograms exactly what he needs to do. We stand on the stoop, seconds from leaving, the old Mitsubishi wanting eagerly to return home with us, waiting three feet away; the Howler Monkey cooperating with Herculean toddler stoicism. She wanted the new car too.

Then finally, somehow, miraculously, Ammar comes up with the exact offer I told him I needed. Asshole.

So, we have the new car. It's exactly what I wanted. I feel good about the deal, but next time... Next time? Costco can kiss my mayonnaise-colored ass.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Totsploitation

For months now, the missus and I have half-heartedly entertained the possibility of exploiting the howler monkey's charm for our own personal material gain. I mean, we can't go out in public without gobs of mostly-middle-aged women oggling and oogling over her. Why not make the masses pay for the privilege?

Problem is, it's all just so creepy. I mean she is my daughter. If it were a matter of selling the dog's ass on the street corner, there wouldn't be any hesitation, but the baby... well...

So, needless to say, since I'm blogging about it, we're gonna do it. well, sort of. Nothing big. No appearances necessary. A local radio station is holding a cutest-baby-photo contest, and we're going to submit a picture. Problem is, which one? This is where you come in, dear reader. I need you to help me decide which shot is most likely to win Daddy the big-big prizes. I've narrowed the current options down to 8 shots (out of the roughly 3-4,000 pictures we have of her.) Remember, we're looking for cute, and I really want to destroy the competition.
1.



2.



3.



4.



5.



6.



7.



8.



So, that's what we have so far. Please let me know which one you think will best defeat those other unfortunate mutants. We may take a few more this week. Submissions to the contest are due next weekend. Thanks!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Two Gallons of Mayonnaise and a Chainsaw

Clickety clickety clickety clickety
Boppety boppety boppety Boppety
Clickety clickety clickety clickety
Boppety boppety boppety Boppety

I pushed the SUV-sized two-seater shopping cart over the terracotta pavers toward the awaiting maw of the local Costco. The security pass card with my elongated portrait was palmed and ready to flash at the attentive sentries. The sentinel guarding the door leading to the customer service desk appeared to be in her 60s. I figured I could take her if necessary.

The well-oiled wheels on the massive orange plastic-grate cart clapped in time against the bricks below. The Howler monkey gaped with glee. She loves shopping carts, and this particular model was luxurious in its dimensions. Her pigtails bobbed in time with the rhythm of the wheels, and the gusty October wind poured onto her face. This was her first foray into a strong autumn wind. She appeared to approve.

It is amazing what you can buy at Costco. Apart from the ridiculously cheap cases of beer and giant bricks of cheese, I've also been known to bring home Computers, lawn mowers, a 14-piece stainless steel cook set, DVDs, cases of mangos, truck tires, two-gallon jugs of Aronia berry juice, and a parka, just to name a few things...

Today, however, I was there to purchase just one single item. No 12-pack of macaroni and cheese, no case of Australian wine, no bucket of Red Vines, not even a king-size bed. No. Today, the monkey and I went to Costco to buy a car. Yes, a car. While I still refuse to acquiesce to the call of the minivan, the howler monkey has made necessary a larger form of transportation than my little Mitsubishi can provide.

Now, Costco does not stock cars on the shelves, at least not yet. No, they have a service that requires a couple of phone calls and some paperwork, but basically you come away with a no-haggle top-secret Costco-price on a new car. The purchase is scheduled for tomorrow, and I am still a bit doubtful, but I will report on my experience when it is over.

As I sat at the indoor snack facility (with umbrellas over the tables??) reviewing the paperwork, the monkey pointed at passing patrons, calling each one "Daddy" as they walked by. She was enjoying herself, and who knows, she might have been right, my wife having loose morals and all. (Joking, sweetheart, just joking!!)

Anyway, as I sat there, I started paying attention to what the other customers were taking home. Most maneuvered massive carts laden with all manner of consumer nonsense. A few had only single large boxes, one even seemed to be taking home the $5,000 giant screen TV. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I spied him. He was walking my way. He seemed oddly normal in his khakis and flannel shirt, like an accountant in his mid-40s. Normal, that is, with the exception of his newly-purchased goods.

In his left hand, he carried two one-gallon jugs of mayonnaise held together with a blue-plastic carrying strap. In his right hand, yes, he was carrying a brand new chain saw.

Now, what I want to know is how the hell did that happen? Was that his wife's idea? Was the mayonnaise an impulse-buy? Was there an actual shopping list?

1) Chainsaw (check)

2) Two Gallons of Mayonnaise (check)

I don't know. I do hope that he makes good use of the mayonnaise. Regardless though, that man, whoever he is, will forever be my personal Costco hero.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Thursday, October 13, 2005

General Tso, Meet Commander Adama

Two Chinese astronauts blasted off into space yesterday on a mission to orbit the globe. As one billion of their land-locked countrymen watched with anticipation, the Chinese Government thought fit to underscore the momentous occasion with stirring space-exploration-oriented music.

The tune of choice? You guessed it, the big brassy theme music from the original 1978 Battlestar Galactica.

I kid you not.

Hey boys, Godspeed, keep an eye out for Cylons!!

Wait, I Don't Get It

I really and truly could not care less. What people, famous of otherwise, do with their personal lives is no concern of mine. If Han Solo wants to get it on with Ally McBeal, that's their business.

What confuses me, though, is Mr. and Mrs. Kutcher. I mean, it was kind of funny at first, like a long-running SNL gag, but I keep waiting for the punch line. "Oh, ha ha, look, Bruce is hanging out with Ashton, oh funny, FUNNY!"

"Wait, all three are going to Rumor's school play together, hee hee!" But still, no punch line. When is Ashton going to jump out and yell, "hey America, Y'all been punk'd??"

Um, but, now they're married. And Bruce went to the wedding. And it was all Kabalistic. And if it really is a joke, then it has just gotten to the point of being sad.

The real horror, though, is the prospect of it NOT being a joke. I mean, Holy Christ! Is it possible that it's not a joke??

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

List Update

The (updated) Laminated List

1) Nicole Kidman


2) Christina Ricci

3) Kirsten Dunst



4) Alyson Hannigan



5) Lauren Ambrose (replaces Ben-tainted Jenifer Garner)



Alternates:

Blonde Alternate: Gwen Stefani
Overage Alternate: Martha! (replaces Debra Jo Rupp)
Underage future alternate: Emma Watson (How much longer until she turns 18??)
Gay Alternate: Ewan McGregor (narrowly beats out Eric Estrada)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Boldly Go Where No Squirrel Has Gone Before

How is it possible that I am NOT responsible for this:



Want to kill some time? Better check THIS out.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Ctrl-Alt-Del

Deep in the ancient jungles of Guatemala, centuries before the first conquistador waded ashore, avid astronomers, and Mayan mystics studied the motion of the stars, and literally hammered out the great calendar. Dividing time into the great epochs of man, the disk extends into the past and into the future. The future, that is, until December 21, 2012. That is the day, according to the Mayan Calendar, that the world will end.

2012 has long been held by conspiracy kooks and X-Files fans to be a day, as good as any, to schedule the End. However, recent discoveries have proven that the Maya were nothing more that a bunch of dim-witted half-baked cranks. The world is not going to end on December 21, 2012. That is just simple nonsense, a fallacious fabrication! No, the world is going to end on Sunday, September 5, 4500.

The logic goes something like this. Money is power. Bill Gates is still the wealthiest individual in the world, which, not accounting for inflation, makes him the wealthiest person in all of human history. By extension, therefore, he is the most powerful man in all of human history.

Now, the most powerful human ever has decreed that his calendar (Microsoft Outlook) would end on Sunday, September 5, 4500 AD. So, he must possess some knowledge that we mere mortals do not. If Bill says 9-5-4500, who the hell are we to argue? So let it be written. So let it be done.

And here I was , worried about the sun exploding in 5 billion years…

Football and Porno and Books About War

I am almost entirely not gay. Virtually not gay at all. Practically completely hetero.

I am secure enough in my own very-real and very-substantial masculinity, therefore, to be honest with you. I think Ewan McGregor is a handsome man. There, I said it. I mean, what's wrong with saying that?

I think he's a good looking guy in a very non-gay, completely macho sort of way. It's not like I want to date him. Sure, I might want to give him a back rub, but in a totally straight sort of way. And he's European, right? So, there'd be nothing odd or fishy about me giving him a hug.

And then, maybe, I'll go work on my car, or build something with power tools... Or, perhaps I could go work on my Ewan scrapbook...

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Mars

I spent the last hour staring at Mars. The god of war. The red light in the dark October night sky. Armed with Glennlivet and surrounded by swirling cigar smoke, I sat in pajamas and leather half-boots, in the dark, in the cold. I stared at Mars, and Mars stared back.

I wondered whether Spirit or Opportunity were watching us in the sunset over the Martian horizon. I wondered whether I'd still be alive when humans reach the red soil and bring the rovers back home.

I wondered whether there was anyone else in the neighborhood sitting outside in their pajamas. If so, were they watching Mars? Were they cold? Why didn't they go inside?

I heard the barking of a squirrel, which in case you've never heard it, sounds a little like you'd expect a squirrel to sound if you inflated it with a tire pump and then stepped on it. Squirrels bark to warn other squirrels of danger. I wondered what danger there could be for a squirrel on a quiet night like this. I then realized that a simple cat could spell arma-fricken-geddon for a furry nut-gathering woodland rodent. I wondered whether I could help by sending Strider out in the yard, but then laughed at the thought. Besides, he was sleeping soundly upstairs behind the sofa.

I saw blue light bouncing from the neighbor's window and wondered whether he was watching anything remotely interesting, which led to thoughts about Battlestar Galactica and whether the Cylons might be the good guys, and whether we are rooting for the wrong team.

I wondered whether I'd ever write a book. I wondered whether I'd ever open a strip club. I wondered whether I'd ever hold high office. I wondered what the howler monkey will be when she grows up.

As the cigar burned to the nub, I thought again of Mars, and the musical interpretation of it by Gustav Holst. I thought of Star Wars, and wondered why John Williams never caught shit for ripping off the suite. It was appropriate, I suppose. Darth was the bringer of war, and Lucas was doing his fair share of "sampling," so why shouldn't the composer lift a few notes?

If you get the chance, and can find a dark place to sit, go look at Mars. I wonder what you'll wonder about.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

This product contains no corn

Autumn is the only season that can sneak up on you. The end of fall is cold and often indistinguishable from winter. Winter often peters-out and sputters over time into spring. Spring dries out and blossoms into summer. But fall, it gives you no warning.

Summer drags on, overstaying its welcome like the bad date who gets drunk, and won't go home. Then comes second summer, Indian summer, like the hickey left behind by the bad date that won’t dissolve before you have to return to work on Monday.

Then, one day you walk outside in short sleeves, or maybe you’re wearing rayon culottes, expecting a warm 70° degree (21° c) morning, warming to afternoon highs of 85° (29° c), when it hits you. First: “Damn, I’m gonna need a coat.” Second: “Hey, fall is in the air!”

I enjoy fall. I look forward to it. It means I can put away the George Winston Summer CD and pull out the autumn album. It means the missus will start to bake bread, and the dog, being part husky, will start to fill out his lovely winter coat. Stores will start to stock limited seasonal selections of Vampire Wine and Pumpkin Ale. CBS will play It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. A&E will run repeated showing of Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow (with Christina Ricci…). Then come the kids in the costumes, with the sacks of candy and burning-pumpkin fumes wafting through the air. There is College football for folks who care, and nature’s throw-rug of fallen leaves.

The warmth and cold of the season of upheaval culminates with the second-greatest holiday in all the world. Thanksgiving. But we’re not here to talk about that. No, not yet. The blog will come, and probably soon, where I shall cover the glory that is the Feast of Thanksgiving, and why it is second only to the 4th of July, but this is not that blog.

This blog is reserved for that one irresistible icon of the fall, the bottomless bowl of Candy Corn. Candy Corn! What is it? No, I’m asking, what is it?? It contains no corn. It cannot be popped, buttered or salted. Yet, I crave it as if it were the very air to breathe.

The flavor is not quite vanilla, nor is it corn. It is sweet to be sure, but something else as well. Is it sent from heaven? I cannot resist its alluring charm. Is it from Hell? I have not been able to pass the bowl on the table near the door all weekend without dipping my fingers in for a kernel or three. Perhaps I should move it to a less-central location.

Well, welcome to autumn nonetheless. Time for a glass of scotch and a crackling inferno in the fireplace. Hmm… but first, I’ll have to pass the bowl. I wonder whether candy corn goes well with a 12-year Bunnahabain?

Friday, October 07, 2005

Partially Naked Man Captured Near S. Ore. School

11:00 AM PDT on Friday, October 7, 2005
Associated Press

MEDFORD, Ore. -- A registered sex offender who fashioned a loin cloth from a rope and piece of lawn furniture was arrested near a high school, where he asked four girls for a ride to the mall or a motel, police said.
Kelly James Bailey, 33, of Greenwater, Wash., was wearing only the rope when he shocked a Medford woman by appearing in her back yard Thursday morning.
Before he left, Bailey, who appeared to be covered in feces, ran away with a strip of leopard-print vinyl peeled from the seat of lawn chair, said Medford police Lt. Mike Moran.
More than an hour later, four North Medford High School girls were waiting in a car near the school when Bailey -- now wearing blue jeans, but still covered in the apparent fecal matter -- approached the car. He asked the girls for a ride to the Red Carpet Inn or the Rogue Valley Mall.
"The girls wisely rolled up their windows and left," Moran said.
The girls alerted authorities, who spotted Bailey running near campus.
"When we caught him, he still appeared to be covered in fecal matter," Moran said. "He told us, though, he was partying with girls the night before and somehow ended up rolling around in tomato paste."
As officers patted him down, they found that he had used the rope and vinyl strip to make a primitive loin cloth.
"I think it's definitely the strangest case of the day," Moran said.
Bailey was lodged in Jackson County Jail on charges of theft, trespassing, criminal mischief and failing to register as a sex offender in Oregon. He was held on $24,000 bail.
The theft charge was for allegedly taking the vinyl strip, Moran said.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

13 Hours

Spring break arrived like the Vietcong on Tet. It ambushed me, and left me alone in the jungle without allies or any viable victory strategy. Of course, the jungle was merely Salem, and the elusive victory was the lack of prospective law-chicks with whom to score.

Months of martinis and poorly played poker had depleted my stores, and a week of sitting at the ranch play-acting at preparing for finals was not an option. There was only one thing to do. Hastily applying myriad military principal, I blew my bugle and beat a tactical retreat. It was time to go home.

Now, home at that time lie 941 miles South by Southeast, as the crow flies. Though to be honest, I’ve never known a crow to fly that far. It’s a straight shot, more or less, but does trace the greater portion of the western edge of the contiguous United States. This is not a trip to take without adequate preparation.

Had not the clouds blotted out the light, I would have seen dawn rise over the Cascade Mountains. I had laid in essential survival provisions the night before, and needed only to shower, dress, and strap into the car. Which car, by the way, was actually a truck, a 1989 silver Isuzu 5-speed pick up.

The journey began, as all good journeys do, with The Queen is Dead blaring from the speakers. It was 7:00 a.m. I knew that this was reasonably going to be a two-day drive. However, I didn’t want to blow half of Spring Break on the road. So, I planned to push as far South as I could before falling asleep.

The mission outline was simple.
Keep driving.
Don’t get out of the car.

To that end, I had planned well. Everything I needed was within easy reach from the comfort of my cockpit: cigars, beef jerky, Diet Coke, a couple of oranges, water, CDs, Doritos, embarrassingly-large cell phone, sun glasses, and a large bunch of green grapes. After a quick stop to tank-up at the local coffee house, I hit the road and lit the first of several cigars.

My first stop was at the last gas station just north of the California border. There were more sunshine-happy California license plates at the fuel pumps than Oregon plates, since this was the first stop for north-bound travelers to fill up, buy a donut, and take a piss as they came down out of the Siskiyou Pass. I decided, since I still had the benefit of state-trained and licensed station attendants to fuel my truck for me, to use the restroom.

Passing a posse of perplexed Californians, angry that they were not permitted to pump their own gas, I dashed to the men’s room, not wanting to lose a precious minute. Following long-established men’s room protocol, I faced the urinal, unzipped, aimed, and peed, maintaining the well-practiced long-distance stare at the pink tile 16 inches in front of my face. It was then, that the guy came in.

He had to have been from California. HAD TO HAVE BEEN. First, he bypassed the first three un-occupied urinals to my right, and chose to use the one right next to me. He then unbuckled his pants and dropped them to the ground around his ankles. Next, he grabbed the hem of his red Hawaiian shirt and pulled it completely up over his chest, tucking it up under his armpits, with his hands splayed out in front of him like he was playing a tall invisible piano. He then began to empty his bladder, rotating slightly left to right in order to maximize the splash zone. He then looked at me, and with the most level business-like voice, as if he weren’t the kookiest crackpot in the world, said, “Hi there, having a nice trip?” I then began to remember why I left California in the first place…

Getting gas In Stockton, later in the day, I realized that I had forgotten how to open my gas cap. I eventually got it figured out and headed back to the highway with Creedence Clearwater Revival in the CD player. After all, Lodi was just down the road…

I was sticking to the game plan, and doing surprisingly well on time. I then hit the point where I-580 splits from I-5 toward San Francisco. That is the point where the longest emptiest most-desolate stretch of endless highway begins. There is also a rest stop there, and I decided to break my own rule and pull off. I had to psychologically prepare for the mad-max-like haul that awaited me. Two lanes each direction with emptiness as far as the eye can see, and crazy-ass mother fuckers battling each other at 150 miles per hour.

The little Isuzu was sturdy, but she wasn’t built for speed. I took stock of my luggage, battened down the hatches and started to get back in. It was then that I had an idea. The tail gate, it acted as a wind scoop. Everything was secure, so I put the tail gate down, minimizing unnecessary drag.

I had never realized that the little Isuzu was able to go 100 miles per hour. (Well, that’s not true, my friend Brian and I chased some girls across the desert once, and hit 110, but that was down hill, and we were horny.) Still not able to keep up with the big dogs, I was able to maintain a respectable pace.

The Grape Vine. The very outer-reaches of Los Angeles. The Grape Vine. The steep twisting perilous pass that represents the primary North/South bottleneck artery into LA from the rest of the state. The Grape Vine. Bane of travelers, truck drivers, and rusty radiators. Any terrorist worth his weight in baba ganoush knows that one well-placed rocket anywhere along this pass would shut down west coast commerce. I approached at a sickening speed, and watched the road before me climb the side of the mountain and into the sky.

Dizzy, sweating, stinky and near sleep, I spied the flickering glittering lights of Six Flags Magic Mountain. I was through the pass, and 30 minutes form home. Tank on empty, oranges eaten, jerky dried up, Diet Coke depleted, water evaporated, and remaining grapes turning to vinegar; I pulled into my parents’ driveway. I looked at the clock and found that it was 8:00 p.m. 941 miles in 13 hours. 13 HOURS!

Happy to be home, and my mother happy to see me, she made me some soup and I quickly fell asleep on the sofa.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Stumptown

I’ve been spying on you. Don’t be shy. You know you like it. I’ve been tracking traffic, and have learned some interesting things. For instance, Abestis wears women’s underwear, and Tits McGee had a lot of fun back in the 80s…

Most interesting of all, however, was the discovery of the international readers. So, to those folks logging in from Mexico, Brazil, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, England, France, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia, and Tasmania: All of us here in the lounge would like to say, Howdy!

I assume that most of you have never, and will never, visit Oregon. So, I’d like to share a few special tidbits about my home.

First, the name of the state is NOT pronounced “Oree-GONE.” This is a point of contention. Folks here are very laid back, and are accepting of many things. However, lawyers have lost trials, politicians have been pummeled, and celebrities have been censured due to that error. So, practice with me now, the proper pronunciation: “OR-uh-gun.” Say it over and over until it feels natural in your mouth. Then, next time you are at a social gathering you can impress all of your peers. “By the by, Mildred, did you know that Oregon is not pronounced Oree-GONE at all? Why, heavens no, it is pronounced OR-uh-gun…” You’ll be the hit of the party!

Now, you say, “Portland, Oregon” to most folks, and they say, “So, does it really rain that much there?” Well, the answer to that question is an unequivocal “Yes.” It rains a lot. Sure, Seattle and Vancouver get their share too, but hey; let them write their own blog….

So, why did a boy like me, who grew up in Southern California, move to a place where it rains from October until May? Well, mostly because the sun gives me a headache, but also, because Portland really mostly in some ways doesn’t suck that much. For instance, there are more micro-breweries in Oregon than in any other state. Beer flows here like the proverbial chocolate in Wonka’s factory. Also, there are more strip clubs per capita in Portland than in any other city in the US. (Side note: strip clubs here are allowed to have full nude dancers and serve alcohol, but the catch is they have to serve food.)

In Oregon, it is illegal to pump your own gas. However, it is legal, for now, for your doctor to write a suicide prescription if you are terminally ill. Also, Oregon has no sales tax. None. Zero. If an item is marked $12.99, you will pay $12.99.

Portland is one of only two cities in the US (and possibly the world) that have dormant volcanoes within their incorporated city limits. (The other city is Bend, Oregon.)

Portland calls itself the Rose City, although there aren’t really many roses here. It’s also called Stumptown, a holdover from the period of rapid growth in the 1840s. Hip locals, too short on time, will often use the airport code, PDX, which is funny since that takes one syllable more to say than just “Portland.”

Oregonians in general, and Portlanders specifically, have specific tastes. The coffee is strong, the beer is thick, the food is eclectic, the art is plentiful, the women have tattoos, the freeways are lush, politics are heated, and everyone has an opinion. It’s a good place to live, and a nice place to visit. If you’re ever in town, let me know. Maybe I’ll buy you a drink and show you around…

Gott in Himmel

Little Eliza Frueffensluger is shown above, placing a sacrifice offering at the feet of German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder just moments after Schroeder, in a stunning move, named himself a god.

"I just felt that it was the right move for the German people, and the right move for the ruling coalition, for me to become omnipotent." Schroeder explained.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky

I got nothin. I tried. I was gonna make an argument about how John Denver didn't suck, but really he did.

I was going to write about going outside to smoke a cigar in the rain, but now I'm tired and that's not going to happen.

I started to write about Bloom County being the greatest comic strip ever, but that's just too obvious.

I could write about Dick Cheney being a Cylon, but who cares, really?

Wanna talk about Serenity/Firefly some more? I don't. I'm still bitter about those certain things that happened to those certain characters...

Battlestar Galactica? Nothin until January.

Oh hell, let's just all enjoy a couple pictures of Christina Ricci...


Ok, and while we're at it, and as long as this entry is going to crap, how about a picture of cheese?



I appologize. I'll try harder tomorrow.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Faster, More Intense


If I made movies...

Not all of my characters would have Kung Fu skills, and those who did, would be bound by the fundamental laws of physics.

My protagonist's point would not be proven by his/her ability to shoot and/or punch things in the head.

Christina Ricci would be in all of my films, and she would have frequent gratuitous nude scenes!

My signature shot, like bullet time, or the Mexican stand off, would be the extreme close-up of sweaty men eating soup.

During the fast-action scenes of chaos and fear, I would hold the goddamn camera still so the audience could see what was happening.

Eric Estrada would have a part in every film, the biggest part possible.

Maggie Gyllenhaal would also be in all of my movies. She would frequently be featured in scenes where she was biting her lip.

I would never make a movie about people making movies or even set anywhere near Hollywood. Too incestuous…

I would introduce to western audiences the Bollywood concept of inserting lavish musical dance numbers into random scenes just for the hell of it.

I would never let Quinton Tarantino anywhere near my set. I mean, great director, but annoying as hell.

Finally, and most importantly, no monkeys. Ever.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Soon her Mama with a Gleaming Gloat Heard

Is it possible that The Sound of Music was the best motion picture of all time?

Well, NO, but it does have a knack for getting stuck in your head. Every year, right around Christmastime, some time after the annual viewing of A Charlie Brown Christmas, but before the last-minute showing of It’s a Wonderful Life, the Julie Andrews song fest would air, and my mother would make me watch it.

I eventually grew up, left home, and moved to Oregon to go to law school. I was sure that by leaving home, I was escaping any further obligation to watch that movie ever again. I was, of course, wrong. Much to my chagrin, I discovered early on that my roommate, who was mostly not gay, although is currently no longer alive, was obsessed with the movie, which he owned on VHS; and the soundtrack, which he had on CD.

Now, some of you have already heard the pink polo shirt/khaki shorts/red Miada/gay paint salesman/Goat Herder Song story. So, I’ll skip over that for now.

Suffice to say, by the end of our joint tenancy, I had learned a few things. For instance, I learned how to make children’s clothing out of curtains. I also learned that Edelweiss was the national flower of Austria, a doe was a deer (a female deer), and that 17 follows 16, chronologically speaking.

I also learned that Julie Andrews (or Maria Von Trapp) had a peculiar list of favorite things. I mean some of the things on her list are sort of OK. Raindrops on Roses are fine, and who doesn’t like girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes? Still though, the list was her own. So, perhaps, I should share mine with you.

[Cue music]

Raindrops in Portland and Scotch with two ice cubes
Light-traffic drive-time and strippers with real boobs
Heavy drink glasses all crystal and clean
These are a few of my favorite things

Blackberry cobbler and cold gin and tonics
Massaman curry and home electronics
Smokey beef brisket and real Irish cheese
These are a few of my favorite things

Illegal cigars and dark local Pinot
Winning at poker at native casinos
My howler monkey’s first word is Daddy
These are a few of my favorite things

When the bills bite
When the boss stings
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Mother of Pearl

The light was still on, and my arm was numb. The throw pillow was wet. I must have been drooling. I was still wearing my glasses, or more precisely, my glasses were still stuck to my head. Lord knows what time it was. I thought about going to bed, but I was too tired. So, I lay there, on the marshmallow couch, using what resources I had left in my mostly-powered-down brain to calculate the cost/benefit analysis of just sleeping there for the rest of the night. As I tried to quantify the value of the imminently stiff neck, I noticed a sound coming from the bluish aurora in the corner of the room.

The sound was like a symphony of mariachi angels. My glasses, they were still stuck to my forehead. I pulled them slowly into place, and just as slowly, the television came into focus. It was then that I saw HIM for the first time. It was the man in the black poofy shirt. He wore a broad-brimmed black gaucho and black broad-framed shades. He played guitar, like a blind musical Zoro. Ole! It was ESTEBAN!!

He plucked and strummed his instrument with such pure puissance that at times his hand movements didn’t even appear to be in sync with the rhythm of the music… Such talent! My cognitive center was not quite up to fully processing words, but there was something mentioned about overcoming a tragedy and training with Segovia.

Not only was this Esteban a Maestro, but he was also some sort of Humanitarian. He wanted to share his gift of music with the world, and was losing money in the process. He had hand made-guitars (American Legacy!) with powerful amps and instructional videos! These magical packages each had a fair market value of over $800, but Esteban, god be praised, was GIVING THEM AWAY for three easy payments of $66.99.

Now, I know his product is crap, and I have no desire or inclination to learn how to play guitar (or any other instrument for that matter.) However, due to some witchcraft, or subliminal post-production mind tweaking, I can’t get the son-of-a-bitch out of my head. I will be driving down the road, minding my own business, chatting with the howler monkey (who now says “daddy”) when thoughts will start to drift into the fringes of my consciousness.
“Might be nice to play guitar…”
“Only three easy payments…”
“Easy to follow instructional video…”
“Lustrous shine with real mother of Pearl detail…”

“AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!” I nearly hit a semi truck.

I had no time to play disc golf this summer, so I don’t need yet another hobby. And, as I’ve mentioned before, these bratwurst finger weren’t made for fine work. So, no guitar for daddy, mother of pearl notwithstanding. Although, come to think of it, I may look good in a Gaucho…