Monday, May 30, 2005

Awesome Brand Names

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Yes - you're reading the label correctly. This is "Cock Flavour" instant noodle soup.

I saw this for sale at a discount store near my place called, "Big Bud's." Think of Walmart, and now think about a store five notches down the ladder of retail respectability, and then you'll be getting within shouting distance of ol' Bud - when I was shopping there today, it appeared that vagrants and drunken reprobates were stocking the shelves.

I have no idea how any company could imagine this to be a good name for a product they want people to eat. But on the other hand, the moment I saw it, I knew I wanted to buy it. So perhaps it's actually part of some genius marketing strategy. The "strange impulse buy" segment of the market, maybe.

Anyway, the next time you've got a hankering for some nice warm Cock in your mouth, I hope you think of Big Bud.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Argus & Wino are Moving

I wrote in another post that my landlord was selling our place, and that Wino and I would have to find another place to live unless we successfully managed to scare off any buyers.

Well, that proved too irritating. People kept coming to see the place at inconvenient times anyway, and although nobody has bought our unit, we decided, "let's get the fuck outta here," and are moving this weekend. The place we're going to is actually in the same townhouse complex - sixty feet away! So we're going to be carrying our loot back and forth between the houses just like ants at a picnic.

And gosh, it's going to be so much fun. It's pouring rain right now, and the forecast calls for more tomorrow.

So if you're checking back, it'll be a few days before I can post again.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Argus and Wino go to the Driving Range

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Wino just came in the door, and he’s still wearing his aviator sunglasses. He pulls them off, the arm catching on his ear as he pulls them from his head. “Hey,” he grunts. His face is all blotchy from the sun outside. I'm watching tv, waiting for him to come in.

“Check it out,” I say, pointing to the corner.

He looks. “Golf clubs. Whose are they?” he says.

“Mine. Jason gave them to me – for free! He got them at a yard sale, but he doesn’t like them. I guess one of the club heads flies off, but I can’t remember which one he said. I think we should go try them out. There’s a driving range down the road,” I say.

“I dunno,” Wino says. “I’m hungry. I feel like eating.”

“Well, Wendy’s is on the way.”

Wino brightens up a bit. “Hmm. I guess if I had to, I could force myself to eat a hamburger!” he says, full of beans again.

I wish the thought of a fast-food hamburger still did that for me. I can’t help but think of Dave, that old coot with the cheesy apron in the tv commercials, who probably died with chunks of burger stuck between his teeth, and a rough sketch of a proposed “Quadruple Classic Burger” clenched in his stiffening hand. Our local Wendy’s kept a cardboard cutout of him standing for months after he died, watching over the burgers he loved so much. And then he was thrown in a dumpster.


The range is ten minutes down the road, and there aren’t many people there when we arrive. It’s the dinner hour, so most people are probably still eating. I had an apple on the way, so I’m all right for now. But Wino is griping.

“Cripes, we’ll be teeing off right into the sun,” Wino complains. “And we should have gone to Wendy’s first.”

“If we did that, then everybody else would be here too by the time we showed up,” I say.

But it isn’t all that bad. With almost nobody on the range, we are easily able to pick a couple of stalls that are side by side, and are soon driving balls downrange, or slicing them merrily into a nearby farmer’s field. And in my case, launching them nearby other golfers with frightening regularity. What? What’s that, man? No, I didn’t shoot that ball at you. You must be mistaken. No, it was that other fellow. My balls are orange, see? Relax, man. Put the club down.

Some people, they take this stuff so seriously.

It isn’t long before we notice the guy out in the field in his little cart, trundling around in circles, collecting golf balls.

“What a shitty job he has,” I say, shading my eyes to look at him.

“Definitely. Watch this,” Wino says. His voice has the tone of a kid waiting for a bottle rocket to go off. He lines up the cart, and drives the ball, missing him by a mile. I laugh.

“You have to lead him a bit, he’s motoring along pretty fast. Aim ahead of him,” I say.

Wino sets up another Day-Glo orange ball on the rubber tee, and fires a second unnoticed shot. “Goddam,” he says. “To hell with the tee.” He grabs a handful of our balls out of the little bucket, sprinkles them around on the threadbare turf, and begins to shoot, rapid-fire. Pwip! Pwip! Pwip! I quickly join in the fun. The guy in the cart is nowhere near the little colored flags we’re supposed to target, and it becomes rapidly apparent what the hell we’re up to.

“Hey dad! Those guys are trying to hit the man in the cart! Can I do that too? Ha ha ha!”

We turn, and a little kid with his dad is pointing at us and smiling, and to our surprise, so are a few other people. It would seem that shooting balls at the cart-guy is accepted course etiquette.

We blow a few kisses and settle back into our stances, recommencing our shooting, each near-miss drawing cheers and clapping from our little crowd:

“Good one, man!”

“That was close!”

“Cap that motherfucker!”

It is no secret to the fellow in the cart what is happening either, and he is trying his best to wither us with dirty looks as we shoot, but he can’t really do anything about his little problem. And besides, I reason, this is why he earns the big bucks. To my amusement, his long stares are only provoking more laughter and ridicule from our fan club:

“Lookit ‘im! I don’t think he likes it!”

“Suck it up, buddy! What did you think would happen?”

“You’re a retard!” screams the little kid.

It is Wino who finally makes contact. The cart makes an abrupt turn towards us, when a previously off-centre shot touches down on the roof of the cart.


“Oh yeah! Direct hit! Way to go, champ!” yells the guy with the kid. Wino smiles and raises his hands, brandishing an imaginary heavyweight belt for the spectators.

“Okay, I’ve got to get him now,” I say. “There’s only one more ball, so I have to make it count.”

“Hurry, he’s driving straight at us. Put down the wood and try an iron. Maybe an eight or a nine,” Wino urges.

The guy is really booting along. I grab the eight, drawing back for my patented home-run swing. “Die, rebel scum!” I yell, swinging for the fences.

And that’s when the head flies from my yard-sale eight-iron, spinning majestically through the air, catching the rays of the setting sun like a chrome boomerang as it arcs through the sky, the trajectory ending perfectly on the windshield of the ball-collector’s cart. Behind the destroyed spiderweb of glass, the driver goes apeshit, tromping the gas.

“What do you say we go get those burgers, Wino?” I say.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Argus Sees Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

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So last night, my friends and I finally got together to watch Revenge of the Sith. We didn’t see it on opening night mostly because at this stage in our lives, we have other things getting in the way of immediate gratification of any desires we might have (fun stuff like jobs, girlfriends, appointments, and so forth.)

And was it worth the wait? I’m here to tell you that no, it wasn’t. No way, no by far.

I’m not a fanboy of the series, but I did enjoy the original movies, and even saw Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi as a kid when they were originally released in theatre. The two follow-up movies were big disappointments for me, but not because I was camping out at the theatre in a Wookie costume three weeks before the movies played for the first time; I was let down simply because they were lousy movies that didn’t appeal to me on any level; story, special effects, characters, dialogue. None of it was any good, I thought, and critics agreed with me for the most part.

However, I had reasons to believe Sith would be different. Most of the early indie reviews were positive (“fawning” isn’t too strong a word to use here for some of them), and even when the name-brand critics posted their thoughts on the film, the consensus was clear: Sith was a very good movie, the best of the prequels by far, and possibly a contender for “best of the series” status. Was it true? Would Sith finally live up to all the hype? I decided to hope that for this movie, Lucy would finally hold the football in place for Charlie Brown.

As it turned out, I shouldn’t have bothered. But at least I was conditioned to expect disappointment based on the last two films. The movie was a drag. I think modern movie reviewers are slipping in rating their movies because the overall quality of modern films gets worse with each successive year, and they are forced to give something a good review even if it doesn’t deserve it. I bet if you took Revenge of the Sith ten years into the past and released it without the majority of the gee-whiz special effects included, it would be justifiably roasted by the press.

Without summarizing all the plot structure of the film (that’s boring, just go read some reviews, plus I was so sedated that I'm sure I don't remember many of the details), I’ll lay out my reasons for why the movie sucked, in no particular order:

1.) The special effects. I read someplace that there were something like 2,000 special effects used in Sith, and I believe it. Every single scene was saturated with CGI “wizardry”, and I am something of an old-school movie fan who believes less is more. I also believe that the availability of cheap and effective special effects is used too often as a crutch by modern producers as a substitute for plot, and Lucas proved to be no exception. Never-ending battle scenes with thousands of blaster bolts flying back and forth, thousands of CGI monsters battling each other to the death, thousands of spaceships, droids, and people crowding each and every shot is just too fucking much to look at. (Even as the backdrop for the supposed dramatic scenes – for instance, why on Coruscant, the city-world, no matter what disaster or event was going on, there were always hundreds of ships flying past the windows like minnows in an aquarium? I was asking myself, “What the hell are those stupid little ships doing, anyway? Where are they going? Don't they know the Republic is falling?" More than anything, they looked like a crush of aliens in their air-cars, commuting to the office.) And I’m sick of it, George. All those effects, they bore me to death, and during any of the particularly CGI-loaded scenes, I was checking my watch to see how much time the movie had left.

Remember in the old days, when Han and Chewie were desperately trying to activate the hyperdrive, while simultaneously attempting to get away from maybe one or two Tie-fighters? That’s all I need. The drama of those moments always had me on the edge of my seat. Modern movies are so self-consciously overblown (“Look at me! Look at how amazing and skilled we are!”), that I just shut down at the sight of it. Why is it too much to ask that CGI technology be limited to background settings and other scene-filler instead put front-and-centre as the main attraction?

2.) The script was terrible. You know a movie has been written well when people joyfully quote cool lines from it in the restaurant afterwards. But there was nothing worth quoting from Sith. Even now, a day later, I’m having trouble remembering anything the actors might have said. The few scenes that involved speaking were mostly short, forgettable interludes connecting the action sequences. One exception to this was Palpatine – I enjoyed listening to him speak, and the lines he was given. But nobody else said anything worth remembering. (And what the hell is up with Yoda, anyway? This guy is a Master Jedi, the apparent leader of the Jedi council, something like 900 years old, can communicate with Wookies, but for some stupid reason, he can’t properly arrange a sentence in English. Sorry, it’s not a charming idiosyncrasy of his character, it's just irritating.)

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Jedi Master and lightsaber-toting midget hero?
Yeah, but he needs to go over his "Hooked on Phonics"

book a few more times.

Anyway, here is an example of the clunker dialogue: there is a scene at the end, after Anakin has been mounted inside his Vader suit, when Vader asks the Emperor if Padme lived (I’m paraphrasing a bit here):

Vader: What about Padme? Did she live?
Emperor: Ah…uh, it seems that because of your anger, Padme was unable to survive through childbirth (struggling to contain a smirk behind Vader, like he’s waiting for him to sit on a whoopee-cushion).
Vader: NOOOOO!!! (raising his fists in the air)

3.) The characters stunk. Either as a result of the script writing, the fact that they were filmed in front of a green screen, or the fact that they seemed to exist mostly as a break between the action sequences, none of them engaged me emotionally in any significant way. General Grievous was supposed to be the cool bad guy in this movie (other than Vader and Palpatine, of course) and his character was absurd. Utterly, completely absurd. For example, he’s a droid who coughs. What for? I don’t know. He also couldn’t stand up straight, hunching his way around battle cruisers even though we’re shown later on that he has the ability to wield four light sabers at once. And during that frantically-cut action sequence, the big showdown between him and Obi-Wan, (oh, as an aside, that's another thing I hated about the movie – the fast action cuts ensure you never get a good look at anything), Obi-Wan yanks off a piece of Grievous’ metal chest to reveal a living heart grafted to his metal frame. Bang, he’s dead. “How uncivilized!” Obi-Wan sniffs, tossing the blaster. Why the hell would something so critical to Grievous’ survival be placed in such an unprotected place? Ridiculous! It reminds me of Spider Man 2, when Octavious points out that the only thing keeping his brain from being taken over by his set of robotic arms is a fragile, glowing microchip stuck on the back of his neck. There had to be a better place for it.

4.) The acting was lousy. All of the characters delivered their lines with the intensity of a guy making a pizza order. Literally anybody at all could have played Padme, Anakin, Mace Windu, or any of the other characters with identical, forgettable effect. Natalie Portman was wasted. (And, inexplicably, looked eye-poppingly bizarre at various points in the movie, as though her head had suddenly gained twenty pounds - at one point, Anakin tells her she's beautiful. Some kid sitting behind me whispered, "But...she looks so ugly!" No shit kid, I thought.) The exceptions were Obi-Wan and Palpatine. Ewan McGregor and Ian McDiarmid were fun to watch for the most part, but even McGregor wasn’t immune to moments of woodenness, mostly during his interactions with Anakin. Perhaps Hayden Christenson's terrible acting was contagious, infecting McGregor anytime they were onscreen together. I read a lot in the reviews about the friendly "bantering" onscreen they were supposed to have, and none of it appeared natural to me. Did the critics see the same movie I did? Honestly, I'm not exaggerating, I've seen better acting in films made by students. How could Lucas have messed this part up so badly?

For me, there was almost nothing to like in this movie. I did enjoy watching Anakin turn into Vader, but I was expecting his seduction to the Dark Side to be more subtle than it was (Silly me). As it happened, Palpatine killed Mace Windu in front of Anakin with a blast of Dark Side energy that desiccated his face (and this is just classic too – Windu was brandishing his light saber, yelling, “you are under arrest!” at Palpatine – Palpatine responds by zapping him with lightning, and his face begins to melt. “Help me Anakin, I can’t stop him!” cries Palpatine, as his face gets worse and worse…but gee, here’s a thought – why not stop shooting Mace with the lightning? He wasn’t trying to kill you at this point, and maybe you’d still have a face…but anyway…), and after Mace was dispatched, Anakin immediately agreed to be Palpatine’s apprentice: “I hereby swear my allegiance to you, and your ways.” And Palpatine was staring at him with his ruined face and yellow eyeballs, hissing, “Good! Gooooood! Ha ha ha ha!” How could there be any conflict in Anakin about who to trust and follow at this point? It would be obvious to a preschooler that Palpatine was a guy you don’t fuck around with, so Anakin’s sudden conversion to the Dark Side seemed improbable, clumsily handled, and far too quick to be realistic.

But maybe it was this expected succumbing to the Dark Side that managed to win over the reviewers? Or maybe it was the admittedly gripping visuals of Vader being airlifted from the lava pits back to the Emperor, accompanied by soaring, tragic, dirge-like orchestral music. I did enjoy this part of the story, but from start to finish, it only made up about 20 minutes of the movie, and the depiction of Anakin’s turn to the Dark Side accounted for perhaps 40 minutes of the length, all told. Perhaps this was what redeemed the movie for most critics. I think it must be, because this was the only part of the movie I liked, personally. And it struck me that it was also the only part that of the film that, at last, had a different feel than the 8 hours or so of mediocre prequel material that preceded it: other than the depiction of Anakin's descent to the Dark Side, any scene from Episode I-III is completely interchangeable, as far as I'm concerned.

So did the ending save the movie for me?

Nah. I should have waited for the rental, but some movies have to be seen in the theatre, for better or for worse. I feel about it the same way Anakin did, after he beheaded an armless man: “Hum…I should not have done that. It is not the Jedi way.”

For sure. Save your beans and wait for the rental.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Karate Lesson

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I hear a crow, a distant sound, rasping caw-caw-caw through the windowpanes, which are cranked open on their rusted arms on all sides of the room. It’s July, and an occasional gust of air, carrying the smells of the country – honeysuckle, hay, daisies, and the sudden waft of manure – lifts the hair from our brows and rattles the colored papers on their corkboard push-pins. It’s evening, but the sun is still hours away from kissing the horizon, and the light slants through the stained glass windows fifteen feet above the floor, mounted there a hundred years ago by community-minded Protestant farmers. The rays pass through, red, blue, and green, turning the creaking hardwood floor where rows of pews once sat into a rippling Crayola seashore. My sensei steps back into a square of violet, and the outstretched hands of saints finger the sleeves of his gi.

“Again,” he says. “Sanchin stance.” We step into the millennia-old boxing stance, the left knee angled in slightly to protect the defenseless manhood, our bare feet sucking and sticking to the floor as we settle. Sanchin – Three Battle Stance.

Chudan zuki. Middle punch. Ichi!”

A half-dozen hands snap out, hanging in space.

“Ni.” The right hand – always the first strike – flies back to our ribs. The left hand darts out, corkscrewing in the air, slamming into the solar plexus of an imaginary enemy.

“San.” Cotton robes pop with the strike.




Shichi. I want to hear you at ten!”


“Ku. Ju!”

Yahhh!” we bellow, the sudden shout ringing in the rafters with athletic rapture. And then we breathe, the stony balls of our fists waiting for a command.

Silence. An itching crawl of sweat slides from my hair, rolling into my eyebrows, tracing a path along my temple. At the front of the class, the sensei smiles.

“Good. Rei,” Our hands slap our thighs, and we bow, meeting his eyes like we were taught. You never drop your eyes, because anyone can be your enemy. Trust no one. It is foolish to leave yourself unprotected.

“Outside,” he says. “We run.” He jogs for the exit.

In bare feet, we run from the church behind the sensei. My feet are tough, and slap the dirt with machine precision. We pass through the graveyard, and I read the names: Wallace, O’Donnell, Bannon, McCracken. A hundred granite monuments testifying to lives lived, lost, and now forgotten. And then we are through the gates, running through a cornrow, our toes sinking into the rich earth, lightning bolts of black loam soaking into the rivulets of sweat on our legs, and kicking up behind our heels.

“Sprint! Until the fence! Hajime!”

And we charge, knees lifting to our chests for maximum power, heels pistoning into the dirt, arms scissoring past the sharp, reaching leaves of adolescent corn, our gis billowing in the wind, and green, blue, and orange karate belts flapping and popping behind us like the tails of kites.

At the end of the field, I see the lone crow I heard earlier in the church, head cocked and watching us stampeding towards its tree; and having seen enough, it spreads its ragged wings into the air, flumping for altitude. I try to catch up to it before it can get away from me, even though I know I’ll fail. But I don’t let that stop me because I am very young, and I can run as hard as I want to.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Mike Gets a Surprise: Conclusion

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Part One, Part Two

“Hey –“ I begin, and then I stop right there. Ever had a smile die on your face, and you can kind of feel it go? That's what just happened.

Standing in front of me is Dan’s sister, Amy.

Amy. Jesus Christ, what a shock. I thought Shelly would be at the door, not Amy.

In a shot, I’m glad that I just went to the bathroom, because I feel like I'd fill my pants otherwise if I hadn't. Amy has this horrible shit-eating grin smeared across her face, and she’s just standing there, staring at me like I’m a ham sandwich or something.

“Hey there, Amy…” I try, but it doesn’t work. Her bare foot slaps forward toward me, and she grabs the doorjam, blocking my escape.

“Oh shit!” I yell. I just can’t help it. You had to be there, I mean.

Amy goes to our school. Well, she goes, but not really. Amy delivers the newspapers every day to the homeroom teachers, always with a supply teacher in tow helping her do it. She’ll hold the paper out there in her paw for the teacher to take.

“Thank you…Amy…” the teacher will grunt, trying to yank the paper out of her pudgy fingers. And Amy will just hang onto those goddam papers for dear life, like a dog or something. I’m always surprised there isn’t slobber or something on it when the teacher finally gets it. As it is, sometimes it gets ripped up as it’s pulled out of Amy’s fingers.

Amy is a retard.

She never comes out of the special ed room she "goes to class" in, because this one time a couple years ago she attacked another kid in the cafeteria. She wanted the kid's french fries or something. After that episode, she was only allowed out for food and for recess and stuff when everybody else was in class. So, for instance, we'd be sitting there in Algebra or English, and then we'd hear her skipping and whooping down the hall on her way to the soccer field, and we'd all give each other looks: There goes Amy again.

She's a year younger than Dan and me, but big. Way bigger than me - Amy is maybe five-ten.

She’s a five-ten, 250-pound crazy retard, and I’m alone in the basement with her. And fuck -

She’s naked, standing there in front of me looking like she was put together out of some shit God found on his workshop floor after he made an NFL linebacker. Her hands are flexing and clenching and things, looking like they are getting set to latch onto something. And there are no newspapers in sight, just me.

I’m five-seven, maybe a buck-fifty in my damp swim trunks. Oh yeah, this isn’t a fucking problem. Not at all. How the hell did she know I’d be in here?

Amy takes another step, and the smile widens. Her eyes, those sloping retard eyes, never move from my face.

“Okay, back off, Amy!” I say. “Back off now, goddammit! Hey! Stop!”

But Amy doesn’t stop. She charges into the bathroom, pushing me against the vanity, shoving her huge, flabby body against me. I smell a heavy, greasy stink of sweat and peanut butter, and her freckled boob slaps my face like a garbagey water balloon. I gag in disgust, and then her hands, her horrible sausage hands, are all over me, groping at me in a hideous, meaty way. She paws at my hair, and then in an instant, stuffs her hand into my trunks, yanking and honking on my dick, squeezing so hard I feel like something is going to get torn off. She drools and jabbers in my ear, moaning something that makes sense to her:

“Ugghn, dubba, gubba! Blaaygg!! Abbadabba!”

“Fuck! Fuccck! Get offa me! Help! Fuck, GET OFFA ME!! Ahhhh! Ahhh!” I scream. I’m full-blown now, holding nothing back, slapping uselessly at her back. In that moment, I wish I had a bag over my head.

And then she stops, finally. Dan is here, and he's shouting at her.

“Amy! STOP RIGHT NOW!” And she does. She lunges away from me, standing between me and Dan. I drop to my knees, cupping my damaged nuts. I can barely move, they hurt so fucking much. I don't think I've ever felt worse in my life, to tell you the truth.

Dan, he’s got some stuff in his hands. He’s holding this old teddy bear out at Amy, a filthy, freakshow thing with no eyes and hanging limbs, and beneath it, his Zippo is popped open, lit and singeing the hair of the bear’s leg.

“Amy!” he yells. “Get upstairs, or Mr. Brownie is going to be burnt to a fucking crisp! You hear me? I’m gonna burn him up! Get the fuck up there!”

And Amy, she’s away, moving like a gorilla. Fuck, she’s fast.

Aiiieee! Aiieeeeee!!” she screeches, and snatches the bear from Dan’s hand. She runs outside with the bear, and we hear a dozen surprised yells. In a moment, we hear a cannonball splash, the sound of a hippo returning to the swamp.

“…oh my god, she’s so disgusting…,” some guy yells outside.

And then it’s just me and Dan, and he hangs his head. “Whoo! Oh, my god!” Dan says. The Zippo clinks shut, and he hunkers down with me. “Some little sister, eh? I thought I had locked her door. Are you all right, man? Shit. Didn't I see you talking with Shelly outside? Let's get you sorted out before she sees you like this. Let's get you a beer or something.”

Fuck. Best fucking thing I heard all day.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Mike Gets a Surprise: Part Two

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Part One

“Mike!” yells this guy James. “Mike, you won’t believe what just happened!”

Fuck, not now. “What happened, man?” I say. I sip some of my beer; it’s warming up a bit on me now though. I’m not drinking fast enough. I’m irritated, a bit, that James came over to talk to me.

James, he’s laughing like some crazy bastard, and it takes him a few tries before he can spit out what he wants to say:

“You know that girl Denise? She looks hot except for her face? Oh, ha ha ha!” he laughs.

Shit James, just tell the story, I’m kind of busy here, I'm thinking. He’s bent over double, the veins on his head popping out, he’s laughing so hard. But I start to smile at him a bit though anyway. It’s pretty hard not to when a guy is laughing like that. I’ve stopped being mad at him.

“So yeah, Denise? I got her into my tent over there, and I was sweet talking with her. She was totally into me man, I swear. So you know what I did? I started telling her about my Cree heritage. About how we have all these rituals and shit. She thought it was deep. Anyway, I got this amazing idea because of how butt-ugly she is. I told her that the Cree, we have this ceremony, it’s how you “Become a Man”, and during the ritual, you have to have sex with your woman with a deerskin sack on her face!” he shouts laughter, laughing straight up in the air, and I start to chuckle along too.

“So what happened? What did you do?” I say. I’ve forgotten all about Shelly for a second.

“I don’t have a fucking deerskin sack! I’m not even 100% Cree! So what I did was, I said that we could fuck in the tent, but for the ceremony, I had to put a grocery bag on her head while I banged her! And she did it, man! A fucking grocery bag! She even asked me if it was any good! Bwah, ha ha ha!!”

I laugh like crazy, feeling like some lousy bastard, but rocking around in my chair at the same time anyway. Who has the balls to tell a girl they can fuck so long as she puts a bag on her head? That’s just evil. But so funny, gawd. And Shelly’s right here, too - but how can I not laugh? Seriously, I don’t know. Maybe it makes me a bad guy that I was laughing, I don’t know. It’s just one of those awkward situations.

James is wiping his eyes. “Fuck, so anyways, I had to tell you that story, man. I’m going to get some smokes now. See ya, Mikey,” he says. He wanders away, his shoulders looking pink and really un-Cree in the sunshine.

“What an asshole,” Shelly says, frowning after James, and I shut up right away. I knew it was a mistake laughing with James, but that was just a fucking great story. It was impossible not to laugh about it.

“Yeah, he’s kind of like that with women,” I say, very seriously and all. I’ve got this wicked poker face when I need to use it, nobody can ever tell when I’m bluffing. “He’s not very sensitive about their looks. That girl Denise, I bet she feels bad right now about what happened,” I say. But I struggle to keep in another runaway chuckle about the story, and I stand up out of my chair at that moment, in case I get to laughing again. I need to go take a leak anyway.

“Listen, Shelly, I need to go to the bathroom. Do you think you want to come inside with me? We could maybe chill on the couch or something, without so many people around and talk and things,” I say. It’s real aggressive of me, I know, but…

“Okay,” she says, right away. “I’ll be right in. I’m going to jump in the pool for a couple of minutes, and then I’ll come find you,” she winks.

Suddenly, all I can do is smile. “All righty then,” I say. I pad away to the basement door, setting my bottle on a nearby table. The beer in the bottom is practically warm as piss now. But I couldn’t care less about that, even if I knew there were more cold ones in the cooler, if you know what I mean. My mind is on other things. Shelly, she’s a really nice chick, I mean it.

The bathroom, it’s inside the door of the walk-in basement. It’s an unfinished basement, probably because Dan’s parents knew a bunch of kids would be walking around down here someday in their swimsuits, throwing shit around at each other and using the can. The bathroom is unoccupied right now, so I manage to do my business without having to wait at all. That’s something that makes me happy, a bit. When you’ve really got to take a leak, and you can’t wait another second, and here’s this quiet place to go do it in - I don’t know, that just makes me feel glad inside. When I finish up, I look at my face in the mirror for a little while. It always looks different to me when I’m drunk somehow. I start to make faces at myself, frowning a little and baring my teeth and stuff, trying to look like some badass. For some reason, after I've been drinking, it’s always like I’m watching somebody else in the mirror, like somebody else is pulling faces on me. I don’t know why. My cheeks are all red from the beer and the sunlight, and I stick a smoke behind my ear for later on.

Just then, I hear footsteps padding up quickly outside, and I feel happy again all of a sudden. Shelly came in earlier than I expected. I swing open the door with a big smile on my face.


Monday, May 09, 2005

Mike Gets a Surprise: Part One

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I’m at Dan’s party, and so far it’s been a fucking great time.

His parents are on vacation, so that means we have the run of the house. Before I came over, I chugged a few brews out of the old fridge in the basement, out of sight of my mother. That old Viking fridge, boy. It must have been made about a hundred years ago. It’s always stacked with the beers. My dad should put a padlock on it, seriously. I put the empties behind some boxes so nobody will see where they went for a little while.

“Have a good time, but you be careful around that swimming pool,” Mom told me when I came up. “Danny’s parents are home, aren’t they?”

“Sure, Mom. Don’t worry about it,” I say.

What party worth going to ever has parents at home? Nothing bad’s going to happen anyways. My mom worries too much about me sometimes. And she’s got to know what’s going on over there, she was a kid once too. It’s just a bunch of people having a good time, nothing dangerous or anything. So I just say what I need to in order to get out of the house without any more hectoring, because I can feel the beers starting to come on a bit. I need to get pedalling my bike, before I end up wheeling it into a ditch or something. Or a parked car, I did that once too. Racked my arm up pretty bad, but that was okay. I just told people I got into a scrap:

“I got the guy pretty good, though,” I said, punching the air. “A couple good shots, right in the mind.” Everybody kind of forgot about the bruises on my arm after I told my story. That’s the way it is – all you have to do is explain yourself a bit, and the questions always stop. Even if it’s a lie. Actually, it’s better if it’s a lie, because for some crazy reason, people believe the lies more than they would the real story. Like, if I said I ran into a parked car because I was drunk, they’d say, “What? No way – on your bike? Get outta here.” The lie is always easier to digest, so I just tell a good story and they buy it all the way. It’s when you try to hide things by saying nothing that you get into trouble. People love secrets, and they just won’t get off your back until you spill them.

So anyway, I’m at Danny’s party, and I just couldn’t ask for a better way to spend my day. He’s invited over a lot of girls he knows, and some of the ones that work with me at Subway. Some of ‘em are only sixteen or something, but that stops bothering me after I have a few more beers. Lindsey Lohan is seventeen or so, isn’t she? The Olsen twins? Something like that. I dunno, they’re around that age, and grown men keep wanting to see them in Playboy, so should I feel bad about checking out some Subway girl? No way. It’s not like I’m forty anyway.

Dan, he’s got the beers beside the pool in one of those Styrofoam coolers, and I park my ass beside it for easy access. I don’t even care if I’m drinking too fast, because Dan’s got plenty more here on ice in case I puke. And you know what though? The truth is, puking when you’re drunk even feels good. If I'm drunk enough, I even like it. It clears your head out so you’re not all dizzy and everything. You’re all empty inside afterwards too, and then you can go drink some more. I mean, I’m not going to puke or anything, all I’m saying is, it doesn’t bother me very much if I have to.

I’m chatting it up for a bit with my buddies, and then I see this cutie across the pool I know from Subway. I’ve sort of had my eye on her for a while. She’s got this hot ass, and the other guys at Subway kind of rag on her a bit because of her looks. She’s too young to know how to handle it. She doesn’t know what to say when they hit on her, is what I mean. I wave at her across the pool. She comes right on over when I do it, too. That’s got to be a sign of some sort. Her name’s Shelly, she’s really cool. I like her a lot.

“Hey, how are ya Shelly?” I say. I’m feeling pretty sauced up, sitting here in the sunshine on my chair and everything. “You want a beer?” She looks a little uncomfortable standing over me. I have to shade my hand looking up at her, but that’s all right, it gives me an excuse to check out her rack from below. From down here, it looks like you could sit a couple of beers on top of her boobs without any problems.

“Hi Mike. Okay, I'll have a beer,” she says. She takes a bottle and plops down on the cement beside me.

“You havin’ a good time? Dan’s a great guy eh, having this party like this?”

“Yeah, he is,” she says, and sort of stops, looking across the pool at some people over there. She’s kind of quiet. That’s okay though, I’ll get her talking. I slide my shades up over my hair, and lean over to her a bit.

“Yeah, this is a nice party. Listen Shelly, I’ve wanted to tell you something for a while, I mean, I don’t want to embarrass you here, okay? It’s hard talking at work about things like this, you know what I mean? But I think you’re this really cool girl. You’re really special, is what I mean. Different from the other girls, you know? I just wanted to say that. Like, I thought you should know. I never get a chance to talk to you much, so I just thought I’d take the opportunity to let you know that you’re this nice person, and I like talking to you.”

Man, I’m feeling smooth right now, with all the beers in me. Saying all that shit to her, my heartbeat didn’t budge over fifty beats a minute, I bet. And Shelly, I had her attention the whole time I said it. Before I said anything to her, I had a hunch this is the kind of thing she wanted to hear, the way she came and sat with me and everything, but I swear to god I thought I blew it for a second irregardless.

“Oh, Mike - that’s such a nice thing to say,” she says, her cheeks getting all dimply with me and everything. So cute. She cocks her head to the side and pats my hand. Yeah, this is going really well now. She’s getting into me, a bit. “I think you’re really nice, too. Thank you for telling me that,” she says. It was a real movie moment. I thought I had her in the bag right then, except this dumbass guy I know showed up at that second.

Part Two

Friday, May 06, 2005

A Bea Arthur Update

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A few posts ago, I put up an entry that suggested I had found and linked nude photos of Hollywood actress Bea Arthur.

It was a joke, of course - I did no such thing. As far as I know, they don't exist.

But to my amazement, I've looked through my sitemeter thingie since I posted it, and found that at least a good half-dozen people ended up on this site after googling "Bea Arthur nude" in their search engine.

I don't know what to make of that. I had no idea the demand to see Bea in her birthday suit was so high - a handful of people clicking on a remote blog in the hopes of finding naked pictures of Bea must represent thousands of men desperately searching through innumerable commercial porno sites, determined to finally lay eyes on the grandmother lode. (And...why? For crying out loud, what for?!)

Maybe world-famous erotic phototographer Donovan Phillips of [edit: this link is not work-safe] Donny's Ramblings could pull some strings for these depraved characters and finally immortalize our Bea in the eye of the camera forever. In so doing, he would become - a legend. At least in the niche market of websurfers who look for naked eighty year-olds.

And I'm sure a world of depraved men with their pants down at computer keyboards would thank him.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

My Gramma's Weird-Ass Boyfriend

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We’re sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner, in my Gramma’s basement.

The tables, they are those flimsy plywood kind with the folding legs you find at strawberry socials or smoky bingo halls, their true nature concealed for now beneath the same thick linens my grandmother has been using for thirty years. I’m at the “kids” table, even though I stopped being one at least a decade ago. This means that there is a fizzing glass of ginger ale in front of me instead of wine. I don’t care though, wine isn’t my thing. Not the kind that comes out of a screw-top bottle, anyway.

Over at the other table, there is a sudden metallic clank, and a dozen hands grab unsteady glasses as a man rises uncertainly to his feet. His name is Ralph – I met him earlier. He’s my Gramma’s latest boyfriend, and I had pegged him as kind of a rumpot upstairs in the kitchen:

“Where’s the stuffing?” my mom asked, looking around.

“I’ll find it!” Ralph announced, barging through the doorway. No matter was his apparent drunkenness; he kept his Caesar glass close to his chest, not spilling a precious drop of the tomatoey liquid. He yanked open the oven door, squinting his eyes against the light jabbing at him from the greasy light bulb mounted inside.

“There it is! Right at the back of the bus!” Ralph yelled. He reached in behind a casserole to tug out the dish of stuffing, pushing the crusted thing at my mom.

“Thanks,” she stared. But Ralph was already gone, hollering something about “all hands on deck!” which actually made bizarre sense because he was wobbling around the house in a pair of boaty old-man shorts that nicely accentuated his pale, knobby knees. I assumed that he’d quiet down in time for dinner – there was a family to impress, after all.

But now, even through the dim light of the yard-sale candelabras, I can discern the rheumy glister in Ralph’s eyes. To my mind, there is nothing in them at all. The Caesar glass is still clutched in his mitt, and his mouth falls open to speak:

“I…just want to offer…a toast. To the lady - to the lady, of the house,” he stammers, his lip all pooched out and quaking at us.

Looks of astonishment flash across the tables, as everyone simultaneously realizes that Ralph is falling-down drunk, sincere as a priest…and on the verge of bawling his eyes out in front of twenty people he just met, for reasons they don't know about. Twenty people who almost never drink alcohol, and who certainly do not reveal any actual feelings to one another. It is a family ideally suited for the social expectations of the 1950's. Ralph's reputation is forever sealed in less than ten seconds.

“On this…very…special DAY! I want to say…thank you…thank you very much to you, Barb…this wonderful…wonnerful…holiday…this group of people….” he trails off, and my grandmother stands, whispering something into his ear. Nobody will look at him. In this moment, Ralph has ceased to exist. Easy tears course through the cracks in his face, and he is nodding, nodding in the exaggerated, I know, I know, way that drunks always have. Gramma hooks his arm and leads him upstairs. A collective sigh of relief: the embarrassment is gone. Out of sight, out of mind.

“Amen,” I say. “Pass me a roll.”

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Drama at the Grocery Store!

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Yesterday, I was getting my groceries.

I was nearing the end of the task, trundling my cart to the fruit section.This part of the store is usually at the entrance, I know - "Why were you finishing up in the fruit section?? LOLOL!!"

The reason is because I usually shop through the grocery store backwards. See, store designers, they want you to get your essentials at the back of the store - the milk, the bread, the eggs, the meat - after you've gone through all the other aisles first. It's no accident that the food you actually need is past all the other crap. They want you to put stuff like cookies, coloured cereals, pastries, or anything else sold in boxes into your cart before you get your true essentials, the stuff you must eat to survive. You're way more likely to toss a box of Pop-Tarts into your cart before you've "spent" your money on bread and chicken thighs. Anyway, this is kind of a meandering digression from what happened yesterday. But think about that the next time you go buy food, and how the store is set up so that you'll walk around their products, just like cows through a slaughter chute. You could airlift the entire middle section of a grocery store out, fill your cart with everything left that's stocked at the edges of the store, and still walk out of there needing nothing at all. Try it at home! The psychology of food marketing irks me, so I resist the forces as mightily as I can. When I get in there, I head right to the back and fight my way out.

So I was standing by the bananas, kind of lost in my little world, when I heard the scuttling of running feet. This is rare in grocery stores, and broke whatever reverie I was floating around in. I look up, and two employees, a young kid and an older lady, burst around the corner of the aisle, bumping into each other.

The woman, she spotted me right away, and pointed. "LOOK! There he is, hurry!" And they started running, right at me!

I didn't know what the hell was going on, but I got ready for it. Go down swinging, I always say. Instinctively, I dropped into my old karate "horse-riding stance", and cocked my right fist up behind my ear. I've never popped a woman before, but I've been ready for the opportunity ever since I saw Dirty Harry do it a few times in his movies. Punching out a woman - I always appreciated scenes like that in a film. There are times when they just ask for it, but never get it in the nose because of the social taboos involved in mainstream filmmaking. Splat! Who says that only a girl can hit another girl? Anyway, it looked like I was going to have to do the deed, and had my boys all set up.

The woman though, she rushed right past me, and the kid, seeing me getting wound up a bit, skidded to a stop, putting his hands up in a, "hey, take it easy, man," kind of way. I looked around, and there's the woman, bent over my grocery cart.

"You left a trail all over the store!" she yelled, grabbing my bag of milk. When she did, an arterial geyser of milk sprayed three feet in the air, hosing down the bananas I had been thinking of buying moments earlier. I looked down, and sure enough, a white splatter of milk was trailed behind me all over the floor, ending in a little puddle under my cart. It seems that when I threw a box of Pizza Pops into the cart, a sharp edge must have popped the bag.

[An aside for Americans: most milk in Canada is sold in 4-litre bags. According to an online conversion calculator, that's about 4.2 of your alien quarts. It's not just one big bag of milk by the way, it's actually a sack with three little bags inside that you mount in a pitcher and cut the corner off of with scissors. It's a more efficient way to package up the milk for sale than cartons, and Americans who come here always wonder about these big, honking sacks of milk we've got for sale. "Where the hell are all the cartons? This bag thing is retarded!" they always say.]

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See, in this demonstration, the corner of the milk bag
is cut for easy pouring. It's not retarded, and if you're
like me, the "bag" method of packaging means you
can latch your mouth onto the bag and inhale a
litre of milk in about 3 seconds!

"We'll get you a new bag, man...don't worry about it," said the kid. He scurried off to the back of the store, returning momentarily with a replacement bag for me.

The "delicious" irony of the entire episode: Because I went to the back of the store and got my milk first instead of last, I left a Hansel & Gretel trail of milk all over the damn store, and was the personal cause of anguish and hysteria. To my amusement.

Take whatever lesson from this that you will.