Monday, October 31, 2005

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Halloween Horror


Becky and I did a little pumpkin carving today. This is my masterpiece. I call it: "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!"

Carlin clip


The other day, Jon and I were talking about how George Carlin has gone through three stages in his standup career: Hippie dippy (60's - early 70's), smart observationalist (late 70's - late 80's) and crank (early 90s - present). Of course, we were oversimplifying. Observational humour has been at the foundation of his comedy since day one, and the angry tone of his more recent work is really just a hardened version of the pranksterish iconoclasm of his hippie dippy days. He's always been Carlin: he's just becoming more so.

Something we didn't include in our classification is Carlin's consistent brilliance with words. Just take a look at the promo for his upcoming HBO special. I can't think of any writer who could sum up the current generation with this kind of poetic perfection.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Remote Controlled People


A Japanese telephone company is developing a remote control device that can be used to control humans. They suggest that the new technology could be used to enhance video games, but we know better.

Writer Yuri Kageyama tried out a prototype of the device, which uses a special headset that deploys low voltage electric currents into the cranium via a remote joystick.

From the article:

"I found the experience unnerving and exhausting: I sought to step straight ahead but kept careening from side to side. Those alternating currents literally threw me off.

The technology is called galvanic vestibular stimulation -- essentially, electricity messes with the delicate nerves inside the ear that help maintain balance.

I felt a mysterious, irresistible urge to start walking to the right whenever the researcher turned the switch to the right. I was convinced -- mistakenly -- that this was the only way to maintain my balance.

The phenomenon is painless but dramatic. Your feet start to move before you know it. I could even remote-control myself by taking the switch into my own hands."

Disturbingly awesome. Awesomely disturbing.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Prediction!

As my faithful readers know, I am a fully licensed and accredited psychic. Occasionally, I like to drop a few predictions just to keep my skills up. You probably remember the post in which I foretold the prognostication of a certain groundhog before he even poked his head up. ("I see him seeing shadow," I bellowed. And I was right! And so was he! Six more weeks of winter. Bleah!)

Sorry folks, but I've got to tell the truth, however uncomfortable it be.

But enough! Here is a new batch of my famous and never wrong predictions, presented for your smirking skepticism, which is soon to be humbled approbation.

Let's start with a warmup one:

Fur of newt
Gill of bat
Tell me, spirits
Where it's at!

PREDICTION: Harriet Miers will withdraw her Supreme Court bid.

Any doubts? Check this out. Surprised? Not me. I never am.

OK, let's look deeper into the future. Deeper. Images grow watery. They are still in flux. Events, not yet transpired, whip about the vast prairie of outstretched time. Deeper I gaze. I look very serious, but also very handsome. There is a bit of product in my hair, but not so much that it feels stiff to the touch. Deeper. Further. Handsome. I stare.

Here goes:

Ear of fish
Foot of slug
Tell me the future
So I don't have to shrug!

PREDICTION #1: I, Brian Kunath, will try and shed some unwanted pounds. It will be difficult. The feast of Thanksgiving will prove a speed bump, as will the holidays that follow. But I will try. This time I will.

PREDICTION #2: I, Brian Kunath, will stop smoking. Seriously. No fucking around this time. I will briefly consider getting the patch, but my ego will prevail and I'll quit "cold turkey." Later, I'll wonder if that strategy was erroneous. Perhaps. Perhaps.

PREDICTION #3: The gym, four times a week. Why not? It's right next door to where I, Brian Kunath, am employed. I know it's easy to want to go home after work, especially when it gets cold out. But if I am to fulfill PREDICTION #1, I must first fulfill this prophecy.

And now the future obscures. All future light and sound draw back with a great swirling, sucking sound until I am deposited again in the here and now, drenched in the sweat of success. I am exhausted and will sleep for several hours under my desk at work. Prognostication is a rough beast to wrestle.

As for my predictions, just you wait. After all, it's all you can do -- you who know only the past and present. I pity you. Sometimes I do.

Professor Plimpton speaks!

Thanks for your comments on the latest "my life" post.

Now to comment on a few of the comments in this, a "new" post:

First of all, check out the new photos from Dave W, who was the first to post a comment. Great stuff, as usual.

Psaur gave us a sample (and critical review) of the lyrics that you'd find on the Gary Cleanberg CD, which sadly is no longer available for purchase. Yes, Psaur, it should have come with rubber gloves. The kit itself wasn't very sanitary.

Thanks to Mike, one of the musicians on the project, who furnished a sample of my spectacular vocal work as Plimpton. He also got in the musical intro for Plimpton, which is great because it promises a level of quality that is never quite delivered. If you missed it, here it is. Does it make sense? It shouldn't.

Finally, anonymous wasn't lying about the blowjob in the bar. It wasn't me who got it. I ended up talking to her friend, the smart one, while Cleanberg got his pipes cleaned by the fun-loving drunk one. Rats!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Just back from San Fran

Whew.

Great vacation out in San Fran. Just got back. I'll post about it soon, and I'll even include some pics.

Until then, here's a top-o-the-head rundown:

San Fran is like a smaller, friendlier, prettier and more manageable version of NYC. Wanna go to Chinatown? There's a nice little gate that you walk through to enter that part of the city. Ready to leave? Walk two blocks east or west. The cab drivers tell you things about the city. One reset his meter because he got off course a little. They talk to you! They listen to Air America and offer political opinion. When you tell them where you need to go, they know where to go without requiring consistent direction. And they talk to you!

Some quick highlights:

  • Anchor Brewing Company: We did a tour of the great brewery. A tour that ended with a comprehensive tasting of all their selections.


  • Asia SF: "Gender illusionists" entertained us, while serving up a fantastic meal.


  • Zeitgeist: A surly biker cook prepared bratwurst and cheeseburgers while we drank pitchers of local brew on a picnic table in the courtyard.


  • Brew pubs: Lots of them.


  • Alcatraz tour: Touristy? Yes. Amazing and informative? Yes and yes.


  • Sourdough bread and seafood: Check.



Lot's more to discuss. And when I have more energy, I'll do just that.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

My life from 1994 to present, part III

1999: Special Ed.
In April, I packed up my Ford Ranger with whatever would fit in the truck bed and drove from Raleigh to Piermont, NY, where my old college friend Dave was living at the time. I remember it raining a lot on the way up. I fishtailed off the Beltway in DC and then blew a tire on the Jersey Turnpike. I'd brought $400 with me to New York and had already spent $80 of it on a new tire.

I stayed on Dave's couch the whole summer, hunting through his railroad apartment for loose change and going to Manhattan in the day to find work as a writer. I'd rattle around midtown in my truck, desperately trying to locate a parking spot ten minutes before an interview. I went to about a dozen headhunters and dropped off my "book," which was an old, paint-streaked leather art case my artist friend Kerri gave me. I got turned down again and again. One headhunter gestured to a stack of beautiful portfolios in her office and explained how poorly my book rated in comparison.

"If you're serious about this, you'll take a portfolio-building class at NYU or SVA. It's really the only way anyone will give you a chance."

"Of course, I would need a job to pay for something like that," I said. I'd been living on pizza and tap water for the last month. She smiled, lifting a hand to adjust her square-framed glasses, and told me to come back after I took the course.

I kept answering the want ads. I played a little poker at a local bar called the Sidewalk Cafe, winning, then losing, then losing again. During the week, the bar offered skinny glasses of Sam Adams for a dollar. Dave and I would get there at three or four in the afternoon and hang around until whenever. He was a writer, too.

I set up my computer on Dave's kitchen table and wrote a few online self-help articles for various dot-commers, getting paid anywhere from nothing to $100.

Some afternoons, we'd pop a Ritalin pill (Dave had a prescription--he called them "cuckoo pills," or "kooks," for short), and then go to our computers to peck out crazed fiction for hours. One of my stories was about a bitter magician who'd lost an arm in WWII ("The nub poked out of his sleeve like a fat summer sausage"). Another was about an old, morphine-addicted ex-Nazi officer who was haunted by drug-induced hallucinations from his criminal past.

I'd write a couple of stories, then take another kook and write some more, until the inevitable cuckoo pill crash hit, putting me down for ten hours of twitchy sleep. I had no sleep pattern. Sometimes I'd awake, slick with nervous sweat, as hot afternoon sunlight spilled through the living room window and onto my face.

Meanwhile, Dave was trying to start up a company with a couple of friends. His plan was to produce and sell instructional kits to schools that specialized in teaching basic life skills to mentally challenged adults. By the time I'd arrived, he'd already begun the first kit: A comprehensive CD-based course that would teach kitchen safety to institutionalized men and women who were just functional enough to get work as a restaurant janitor or dishwasher. I decided to join the team.

As the only one of us who had ever worked in a restaurant, it was agreed that I would act as chief factual consultant for the project. My first job was to review the structure of the program. The syllabus, which Dave had set, comprised a series of challenging lessons, such as why it's important to wash your hands, and how mopping up spilled liquids helps us all to avoid taking a nasty fall. It looked pretty solid to me.

The all-inclusive instructional kit contained a booklet, a map of a hypothetical restaurant kitchen (drawn by Kerri from my recollections as a waiter) and a CD that featured the character "Gary Cleanberg," as voiced by Dave. The idea was that Gary and his friends would spend a fun, fact-filled hour or so outlining the essentials of kitchen safety and cleanliness. We figured an hour provided enough instruction to render employable the kind of people who required months of patient classroom study to learn how to count change correctly.

In addition to my consultant duties, I also played the part of Professor Plimpton on the CD, who was a safety expert with a vaguely Bostonian accent and a penchant for making withering remarks about Gary Cleanberg's intelligence. ("Here's a couple of dollars, Gary. Why don't you pop out and get me a cup of kava-kava tea? And treat yourself to a couple of Snickers bars while you're at it.")

I was provided no script and had to improvise most of my lesson, which consisted of me posing questions like:

"You see that someone has dropped food on a countertop. What should you do?"

To which I would invariably answer: "Ask your supervisor."

I figured we couldn't get sued for providing false or dangerous advice if every correct answer was: "Ask your supervisor." I must have said that phrase ten times throughout the lesson, and just to be sure, I ended the whole segment with: "And remember: Always ask your supervisor."

The narrator was voiced by Seth, a friend of Dave's who drove a Hazmat truck and whose father had once been a D.J. (Seth soon dropped out of the project--mysteriously disappearing from the CD after the first ten minutes).

Though the course material was disorganized, the facts questionable and the narration abandoned, the CD was full of cool sound effects and catchy songs that drilled home key learnings. One such lesson was sung to the tune of Iron Man, by Black Sabbath. It went something like:

        Always wash your hands,
        In a dirty house or by a dingy lake.

Of the hour allotted to the entire kitchen safety course, twenty minutes were devoted to reminding students to always wash their hands.

But the real creative coup was the addition of original music. Dave and I convinced two musician friends of ours, Mike and Jim, to write songs for the CD. I can only hope that some of the lyrics to those classics find their way into the comments section of this post.

After the CD was complete, Dave packaged the whole thing and sent out notice to a catalog that sold educational aids. The project was complete. We sat back, popped a couple of kooks and waited for the orders to come pouring in.

It never happened. Dave did eventually manage to sell one copy, but it didn't pay for the expense of the two-dozen kitchen saftey kits he'd produced. Those sat in a box in his own kitchen (which, by the way, was filthy) and were subsequently trotted out to impress potential girlfriends.

With no job prospects coming from the city, and no money from our joint venture, I figured I had to get some kind of job. So I drove to a brewpub about 20 miles north of Piermont and applied for a waiter position. I went one day -- got trained by a 20 year-old girl who kept talking about a party she was going to that night -- then came home and found a message on the answering machine. A financial magazine needed a writer. Was I available for an interview? Yes I was.

To say that the job sucked would be an understatement. But I'll say it anyway.

That job sucked.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Comic Genius


Two of my favorite people on television today are Larry David and Ricky Gervais. Both are masters of uncomfortable humor, yet their approaches are distinct. David is a classic misanthrope, grumbling and questioning the rules of polite society. You get the feeling that if his character in "Curb Your Enthusiasm" hadn't married, he would rarely leave the house. Gervais, on the other hand, is all misdirected enthusiasm. His characters crave acceptance and recognition. There is a desperation in David Brent and Andy Millman that is absent in Larry David, who's reaction to the world is closer to exasperation and apathy.

Considering the characters they portray, the differences make sense. David plays a fictionalized version of himself. He is successful, respected, wealthy and married to a beautiful and incredibly understanding wife. Brent and Millman, however, are powerless, middle-aged loners who preserve their dignity only by managing to believe, against all proof, that they are one opportunity away from being universally adored.

The net effect is that Larry David's comic foibles are hilarious, but inconsequential. No matter how much he is attacked, misunderstood or maligned, you know he'll never change, because he doesn't need to. Gervais' characters -- as they stumble, are rejected and force themselves to smile -- betray a sadness that is closer to tragedy.

Once you watch a season or two of Curb, you can see Larry David's influence all over Seinfeld. It's just hidden by the talented, ensemble cast, who make his writing fuller and more empathetic. What both of his shows have in common are a complete lack of genuine emotion. That was one of my favorite things about Seinfeld: No very special episodes. However, "Curb" strips David to his essentials; and with fewer characters to offset his personality, it's a nastier show.

But just the opposite is true with Gervais. In the ensemble show "The Office," Brent comes across as boorish, petty and insensitive. There is a heart to David Brent, but it's often difficult to see amidst the suffering he inflicts upon the people who work under him. As he loses power in the second series, he becomes more likeable, and by the Christmas special we find ourselves rooting for him.

However, in "Extras" there is a change of perspective. We see the world through Andy Millman's eyes, which enables Gervais to give us a truly sympathetic character. Millman is more human than Brent could ever be. He has good friend in the hapless and naive Maggie Jacobs, who is played brilliantly by Ashley Jensen. He has a genuine sense of humor that others appreciate. He even manages to act heroically by coming to Maggie's rescue on a few occasions, though he usually only makes matters worse.

Of course, Millman's flaws are similar to Brent's: He is self-deluded, awkward and has an inability to stop himself from talking his way into situations that embarrass everyone around him. But lacking the emotional detachment enjoyed by Larry David's character, Gervais achieves something beyond uncomfortable humor: He offers a glimpse of the uncomfortable humanity beneath.

Having said all that, "Extras" has a ways to go if it is ever to match the brilliance of "The Office." But I'll be watching "Extras," and rooting for Andy Millman, for as long as it's on.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

My high school English teacher was an asshole.

Have a seat. Don't get too comfortable. Like I said in the title, this is going to be a short post. Really short. Because I have nothing to say. Nothing interesting, anyway. Sometimes when I have nothing to say I do a quick scan of the news for some mildly entertaining story. Then I link to it and say: "Isn't this ridiculous?" That's really lazy posting though, don't you think?

Tonight I'm too lazy even to find such a story. Politics is too predictable. Sports? Nobody who blogs gives a shit about sports, except people with sports blogs, but, Jesus, who wants to read about what some guy thinks about the Yankees losing? They did lose, by the way, but that's old news. Fuckin' Yankees. This is what we're paying Jeter for?

I know what you're thinking: "He's trying to turn having nothing to say into something interesting, so at the end he can write: 'Gee, I guess this turned out longer than I thought it would.'" And you'll say: "Clever." I won't do that. I was thinking about doing that, but I realized it would be too predictable, and not very clever. Are you still reading? Were you ever? Who are you? Get the hell off my lawn!

This post has taken a turn for the worse. I think I'm going to change the title from "Welcome to my short post" to "Welcome to my terrible post." Or would that be confusing? After all, I start out saying how short it's going to be. It wouldn't really make sense. But then again, it's really not accurate to have the short-post title considering how long this has become. Screw it, I'm gonna do it.

There. Now it really is an awful post.

This is stupid. I should just stick to my original title. I always do that; I start something, then lose confidence in what I'm doing and make all these changes. Then before I know it, I just give up and never finish. It's like my high school English teacher told me: "You never finish what you start."

There, I changed it back to "Welcome to my short post." It's succinct, it's pithy, it's what I started with. Done and done.

I just changed it back again. Who cares? My English teacher was a douche bag. He used to talk to my social studies teacher about professional wrestling. I'm gonna listen to a guy who watches that shit? Take his sage advice? Not bloody likely. He was such a dick, all superior in the classroom. But you know what they say, those who can't do, right? Jackass.

Fuck it, I'm changing the title again.

Friday, October 14, 2005

My life from 1994 to present, part II

1994-1999: Raleigh, NC
I moved to Raleigh in the fall of '94 and got a job as a waiter. Later, graduated to bartender. Friends from college had moved down that summer, so we hung out and did whatever 20-something slacker kids do. We listened to music, drank and wandered around the city.

Two of my friends, Jim and Dave, were in a band called "The Feebs." Jim played guitar, Dave played drums. They played with a few local bass players, but Jim hated them -- not as musicians, but as people. So Dave convinced me to try the bass. I picked it up and for a short time played with The Feebs. I learned about a dozen songs.

Our career consisted of occasional practice and one actual gig, an outdoor party at the house of some rich guy Dave and I had met at a Dead show in Charlotte. I was using a tiny white Sears bass that Jim's brother had owned as a kid. It had a “White Lion” sticker on it and no shoulder strap, so I had to sit down when I played. I sat in a lawn chair during the party gig. Halfway through our set it started to rain and everyone went inside to eat pizza and listen to the rich guy play piano.

I dated around back then. A younger girl who had just moved from Indiana with her mom. An older woman who was staying at the hotel where I bartended. A crazy woman who made my roommate Bob cry. A rich girl from Texas who said she grew up next to Ross Perot.

I was running about five miles a day, playing disc golf in the afternoons and getting to work by 4:15pm. Life was simple.

Around 1996, I started writing articles, got a few published. One on Citysearch.com, which was a new outfit at the time.

In 1998, I wrote to a UK publishing company and told them I had a great idea for a book about homebrewing. They said they were interested in learing more, so I spent the next two weeks in the library, trying to come up with a great idea. I had a shitty 386 PC back then, which was too old and weak to handle AOL. I’d wait three minutes for the homepage to load. I used this glorified typewriter to peck out my book proposal, and there were a few panicky moments when I thought I'd lost a chapter of work, simply because I forgot where I'd saved it.

The publishing company bought the book idea based on an outline and a chapter treatment. I quit my job at the restaurant and became a full time writer for the next six months.

Five months into the writing, the publishing company sent a photographer over from England and we shot all the photos for the book in two weeks. He was a brilliant. We faked a whole kitchen setup in my garage using the top of a junk range, a piece of countertop and some heavy paper. It all sat on the garage floor and I would kneel and stick my hands over the range to simulate someone standing and working over a real range in the kitchen. This gave him more room to light the set and shoot down on the process. We shot full-color pictures of the entire homebrewing process, and even scored a few free dinners at local brewpubs, whose owners were eager to have their beers photographed for the book.

The book, Fearless Brewing, finally came out in January of 1999. The publisher sent me a box of copies. I remember opening that box on the kitchen table and seeing ten hardcover editions of my own book. It was then that I realized I could make a living as a writer. A week later, my girlfriend of two years broke up with me.

Looking back, I'm glad she had the guts to do what we both knew we needed to do -- to not be together. She never really understood the whole writing thing. I think she viewed it as a waste of time. She would ask what I did all day while she was at work. “Writing,” I’d answer, and she’d look at me out of the corner of her eye. She was an administrative assistant, and I didn’t really understand what she did all day, either. I’d ask and she’d pause and tell me it was kinda complicated. It had something to do with helping out the sales team and filing contracts, but by the time she finished I was usually wondering if a Simpsons rerun was on.

After the book I started working for a tiny (three person) direct marketing agency that was run out of the owner’s garage. I had just finished a book for the guy, called "Go Postal for Profit!" I still shudder at that title. I tried my hand at selling the services for a short time. I was a terrible, awful salesman, and sold nothing. He let me go. I was happy about that.

I was restless. I had no girlfriend and no job. I looked for work in the classifieds, but the only writing jobs available looked like this:

Technical Writer Needed
Expert knowledge of Framemaker +SGML,
Some networking/switches and systems
management experience is preferred,
Strong background in PC/server HW and
SW technology. Must be a team player.

I had no idea what any of this meant. But I didn't want to go back to waiting tables. Not after having written two books. It was time to make a major change in my life. I had a friend who lived an hour from NYC who said he'd put me up for a couple of months. I decided to go.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

News for nerds


Turns out Chewbacca was an alien. An illegal alien. But no more. British-born actor Peter Mayhew, who portrayed the lovable gorilla Chewbacca in the 70's film "Star Wars" is finally getting his US citizenship.

Here's a picture of him showing off the sinewy physique that clunked a thousand storm troopers' heads together. And yes. That was his actual voice.

Monday, October 10, 2005

My life from 1994 to present, part I

I just wrote a long email to a friend I haven't spoken to in over a decade. I figured it might make a good post. It’s a recap of the last twelve years of my life, but it’s also sort of about how became a professional writer.

I’ve lengthened it even more and am presenting it in a few installments.

Here's Part I.

1994: Go South, Young Man.
I moved from Syracuse, NY to Calabash, NC in May. Found a job as a waiter at The Crab House, a seafood restaurant just north of Myrtle Beach. Learned to write my name upside down in crayon on the butcher paper we used as tablecloths, which is how I introduced myself to guests.

“Hi, I'm...BRIAN…and I'll be your waiter. Can I start anyone off with some sweet tea?”

All the waiters at The Crab House wore nametags that stated where they were from: Tom from Dallas, Texas; JoAnn from Cleveland, Ohio. We ranged in age from twenty to twenty-four. We kept doggie bags in the dish room so we could take home portions of king crab that the customers didn’t finish.

Outside, the dumpsters overflowed with shells, bits of potato and desiccated lemon wedges. You had to hold your breath when you went within forty feet of them.

One day a blue crab pinched a line cook while he was taking it out of the crate. He smashed it to pieces with his boot. “That’s one fuckin’ crab that’s not making it to the pot.”

I was staying with two friends, Paul and Mike, at Paul’s mother’s house. She was living on the west coast through the summer. Neither of my friends had jobs, so I offered to put in a word at the restaurant.

Paul lasted halfway through group training. I was working the lunch shift at the time, and he looked at me from across the room, smirked, and shook his head. When I looked up again he was gone. Mike made it through a whole day as a busboy and never returned.

The restaurant manager asked me: “Got any other friends you want to send our way?”

I started homebrewing at the house. For my first batch, I decided on Irish Stout. After transferring the fermented brew to two dozen bottles, I noticed there was still some beer left in the bucket. I was all out of bottles so I searched the refrigerator for some sort of container and found a half-full MD 20/20 bottle, cleaned it out and poured the remaining beer in there. I capped all the bottles, screwed the cap back on the MD bottle and stored everything in my closet.

The next night I came home from work and Mike told me he’d heard a loud noise, like a pop, come from my room.

“Did you check what it was?”

He curled back into the sofa. “I was afraid to.”

I went into my room and opened the closet door. The MD bottle had exploded under the pressure of the beer, taking out a half dozen other bottles and lacquering the closet walls with sticky brew. I had to pick out bits of glass from the shag rug.

It was a good summer.

I hung out at the beach a lot. Did a keg stand once at an outdoor party and woke up with grass in my teeth.

I had an ’83 Pontiac Grand Prix that didn’t go in reverse.

I played strip poker with a girl name Sheri, but she wouldn’t let me kiss her.

I read a book called “Going Crazy,” which is about the process of going crazy. After I finished the book, I worried that I might be going crazy.

I pulled a fire alarm at an apartment complex at 3am and denied that I did it, then confessed.

I awoke on my friend Eric’s couch to find a policeman flashing his light in my eyes. Someone said they saw us shooting a BB gun at lights outside the apartment. Eric came out of the bedroom and denied it. Then they found the box for the new gun under a table.

One night my roommates and I came home from a bar, turned on the TV and watched a white Ford Bronco crawl down a California highway, while people cheered from overpasses.

September came and the town went to sleep. Nothing but golfers and old people. I decided to move to Raleigh.

The first time I ever got drunk.

Was with my brother on Christmas. I was fifteen, which would put the year at 1984. We were in the living room, watching TV and my brother was describing what it's like to be drunk. "It's not like you lose your mind or anything. You know what you're doing, you just feel different."

"Like what?"

"Like drunk."

I kept laughing. I was curious. "Just try a drink," he said. "One drink. I'll mix it weak. You'll hardly taste anything."

My parents were downstairs, watching TV. It was freezing outside, and the falling snow was small and hard, scratching against the windows. It was the middle of wrestling season. I probably weighed 126 pounds.

He mixed me a vodka and some kind of juice, maybe Kool-Aid. It tasted sweet, but with a hardness right down the center.

I'd tried wine and beer before that, but those were odd, alien tastes. A few years later, I would learn to transfer beer from the front of my mouth to the back of my throat, bypassing my tongue as quickly as possible. But at fifteen I drank everything like it was soda, swishing it around in my mouth, over my teeth and tongue. Finishing a whole beer was a challenge back then, and it was usually warm and flat by the time I drained the last bit. But this wasn't too bad. This was familiar.

The buzz crept up on me. I couldn't really pinpoint when I was drunk, simply because I never had been drunk and had no experience to go on. So I just kept sipping them back until my brother, in his eighteen year-old wisdom, had me switch to wine coolers.

"Am I drunk?"

"I don't know. How do you feel?"

"I don't know."

"You look a little drunk."

"Yeah?"

I took a gulp and stood up, laughing. I was muttering something to my brother like: "I think I could take you." And then I put my hands up in a wrestler's takedown stance and started pawing at him. "Hey, tough guy," I said.

He pushed back. "You got beer muscles!" He was chuckling, amused and probably a little relieved to see his little brother finally take a step out of adolescence.

We heard the basement door open. My brother hid the bottles behind the couch just as my dad came in. He sat down on the couch next to my brother. I stood there, unsure of what to do. How does a sober person act? Should I sit? Should I leave the room? I was trying to figure out what to do that wouldn't tip my dad off to the fact that I was spinning drunk.

So I stood there and talked. Fast. I don't remember what it was about, but I talked and talked, figuring this was the best way to hide my drunkeness. My dad said nothing, but had this look of surprise that grew with each sentence I sputtered out. I could see my brother watching me out of the corner of my eye. I don't think my dad knew I was drunk, but maybe he did. He finally got up and went to bed.

I asked my brother:

"How did I act?"

"You were OK. A little loud, though."

"I was loud?"

"You were yelling a little."

I went to bed a while later and awoke the next morning with no hangover. The hangovers would come later.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Finally, some real news.



Katrina? That's so September. And the earthquake and avian flu stories have been played. Just when I thought the media was losing its grasp on what we really want to know, they deliver the following bombshell:

According to several news reports, pop icon Michael Jackson fell down in public. No news yet about the singer's condition, but let's all take a moment and pray that he is OK.

My addiction

Every night I need my “fix.” I try to tell myself I’m through. But my resolve weakens under the overwhelming desire for the object of my addiction. So I put on my jacket and into the night I scuttle. When I arrive at my “dealer’s” establishment, I look right and left – then pop inside.

I survey his merchandise, which is laid out for me to see. As I assess the goods, he watches me with a knowing smile. A strange powder covers his fingers. I know I should just leave, but I imagine the rush, the sweet high. Defeated, I take out a crumpled $20 bill and hand it over. He puts my “drug” into a nondescript bag and says: “Come again.”

Like a thief, I steal into the night. Beads of sweat cross my brow as I approach my home. I know I should just toss the bag into the garbage, but my hands grasp it with a steely grip.

I enter my apartment and open the bag, reach in and remove the contraband. This is my last chance. I could just toss it in the garbage and eat the apple that sits on my countertop, but I am too weak. I open my mouth and finish the whole thing, then lean back in my chair and tell myself this is the last time. But somewhere in the night, my “dealer” is laughing. I know I should quit.

But I just love smoking crack.

Friday, October 07, 2005

I am sorry for throwing up on your wedding dress.

Dear Marta,

First of all, thank you so much for inviting me to your lovely wedding. You and Todd looked so great together up there on the altar that I just know you'll have many, many happy years of marriage together.

I am sorry for throwing up on your wedding dress. I don't know what it is with me and strawberry daiquiris. Something bad happens every time I drink them, but I just keep coming back for more!

Were you able to get the stain out? I know that strawberry is hard to remove, and the arugula salad with blood orange vinaigrette couldn't have helped matters, either. Was your father-in-law able to get his tux dry cleaned?

Believe me, Marta, had I known I was going to be sick, I would never have insisted on the group photo. I guess I was just so excited that I wanted to preserve the moment. Mission accomplished, huh? I don't suppose I'll ever forget the look on your brother's face when he looked up at me just before the camera flashed.

Have the other photos come back? I'd love to see them sometime! Your sister looked adorable in her maid-of-honor dress. Really. Just like an angel.

Did I take my top off on the dance floor? I seem to remember dancing the Electric Slide, and all of a sudden your grandmother was pointing and looking at me funny. Then someone threw a tablecloth over me and asked me to leave. Sometimes, I think I should just learn to call it a night!

Well, I suppose you want to know how I made it home that night. So do I -- JK! After I left with that bartender guy, we went over to the Win Dixie parking lot. Things got kind of hot and heavy on some guy's car and then I was at a club. There was more dancing and this guy gave me some kind of a pill. I remember lots of lights and a weird spinny feeling. I think I might have taken my top off again! Anyway, more flashing lights and when I opened my eyes I was in a 7-11, where some jerk was telling me to put the pretzel machine down. Next thing I know the sun is shining and this policeman is saying that my daughter's here to pick me up, my daughter's here to pick me up -- over and over again. It's like, OK, I get it! My daughter's here to pick me up! Now can I get some breakfast in here? LOL

Well, again, I'm so sorry about the wedding dress. Say hello to Todd for me and tell him I didn't mean it about his face. It's a handsome face, Marta.

Congratulations!

Love,

Janet

Your one-stop porn shop

From time to time I like to visit my "site meter" to check out statistics about my blog. How did the few people who have visited here, get here? Mostly it's been people I know. I check out their blogs, they check out mine. Occasionally, someone will Google me and find my blog at the top of the list. (Like my childhood buddy Mark -- check out the 3rd comment in my October 1st entry).

But my favorite stats are those concerning people who stumble onto this blog accidentally. They usually come from Google or MSN searches -- like the person who found Q'ner Industries after searching MSN for "TIMMY INDUSTRIES." I wonder what this person was actually looking for? A page that had something to say about how Timmy relates to industries in general? I would imagine the two words don't often occur in the same sentence. Could there be an actual company that calls itself Timmy Industries? What would they manufacture? Little Timmys? Is that anything like Little Debbies? Perhaps my industries could merge with Timmy's and we could form a conglomerate.

Another recent visitor was apparently searching for legitimate X-Files fan fiction and found my entry into the genre. I only wish that he (and I assume it was a he) had left a comment about my work. It deserves a mention, dammit.

However, the unquestionable winner in the "how did I get here?" contest is the guy (and again, I assume with confidence that it was a guy) from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia who found his way to Q'ner Industries by entering the words "gush pussy teen" into MSN search. Now, while I have a feeling I know what he was looking for, a few questions remain:

  1. Why did my site come up in the results list? I mention each of the words only once: "teen" and "pussy" appear in the X-Files entry and "gush" appears in my very first post. So how did my blog catapult to the top (number three, I checked) of MSN's "gush pussy teen" list? The irony, of course, is that I've now included these words so many times here that I'm going to start getting hits from every guy out there looking for a little hot "gush pussy teen." And you know I do love rich, delicious, fancy-pants irony!

  2. What exactly was this guy looking for? I can understand the intent behind two of the three search words, but "gush?" Did he perhaps mean to type in bush or gash? If not, what specific fetish was he trying to satisfy in the three-word string that the mere entry of "teen" and "pussy" simply would not provide? What was he hoping to see gush forth from the other two words?

  3. Was this guy a true blue Saudi or an American stationed there? If he was the latter, isn't it about time for some R&R? If he was the former (and I do hope he was), what does this mean for the country as a whole? Imagine that he is a religious man, home after a long day of prayer. He sees the wife off to bed, then settles in behind his computer for some heretic enjoyment that only "gush pussy teen" can provide.

    Think of it. After all the needless war waged by our administration in the Middle East in the name of peace, what if the entire fundamentalist movement is ultimately dismantled because the Internet provides access to something our own fundamentalist administration is seeking to censor -- the universal desire to get an eyeful of a little "gush pussy teen." Ooohhh! More delicious irony!

I find it interesting that three words on my blog, used in unrelated contexts, are assembled and given a new meaning through the strange algorythms of MSN and one man's desire. It's all very meta and postmodern, two buzzwords I've been known to use while holding a cocktail. How many more people out there, in their midnight search for "gush pussy teen," will happen upon my site, assess the content and move on? To those who do, I am sorry but you will not find what you are looking for here. I only hope this momentary diversion does not soften your resolve. There is plenty of legitimate "gush pussy teen" out there. Godspeed on your continued search.

Daredevil subway rider

The threat of terrorism has turned our lives into mundane feats of derring-do. Going to get groceries, working in a tall building, riding a bus. These are becoming as risky as jumping a canyon. This latest scare concerns the New York subway system, which even during the best of times is a somewhat risky mode of travel. Now everyone who stands on a subway platform -- say, leafing through the Voice while awaiting that rush of urine choked air that signals an approaching train -- is at risk of exploding. Thanks, terrorists: My endless morning commute is now a boring daredevil stunt.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Science

In an attempt to appear more in touch with the scientific community, President Bush announced that he recently read an article in Scientific American about the Butterfly Effect, a complex physics theory which posits that the flapping of a butterfly's wings in Guatemala could ultimately cause a hurricane to occur in another part of the world.

The president said that he was shocked at the news, and is acting quickly to assemble a special task force to kill all the butterflies in Guatemala "to ensure nothing like Katrina ever happens again."

Saturday, October 01, 2005

A bottle in front of me and a frontal lobotomy.

Is the president hitting the sauce again? The National Enquirer seems to think so. I know. It's the National Equirer, not the New York Times. But that might simply mean that they have again scooped a story earlier than the rest of the media.

I believe the Enquirer." What's more, I commend the tabloid's aggressive style of journalism. It's a hell of a lot more respectable than the mainstream media sheep who dare not rattle the president during a press conference lest they lose their seat at the next white house dinner.

I'm not saying he is. I'm not saying he isn't. All I'm saying is that he might be holding a glass that looks something like this.