Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How the Flu Can Save Christmas

Christmas season was laying into everybody as they tried to trudge through an honest days work, which has been made all the more intolerable by the people who think they're the first to recognize that stores are putting up their decorations and playing the music earlier every year. If there's anything more annoying and tiresome than seeing windows sprayed with fake snow the day after Halloween, it's having to endure people complaining about it. To make matters worse, there is a particularly nasty flu going around. Nobody had really witnessed or experienced the particular nastiness of it, but anybody referring to it was specifically using the words "particularly" and "nasty" to describe it. So at the first sign of infection, everybody was going to their doctor to get their prescription for Z-Pak antibiotics for a quick recovery time so they can get back to not enjoying themselves. As could be predicted, however, cases of an antibiotic-resistant strain of the flu started to breach 10 OClock news special reports across the country. Scientists kept up with the evolving flu for a while, but eventually the flu became self-aware and started sprouting limbs until it looked vaguely humanoid. Like everything that is man-made and loathed, the flu monsters bare a few indelible traits of its creator. When they aren't devouring people alive, the flu monsters enjoy watching reality TV and buying consumer electronics online. There were also a few isolated incidences where groups of flu monsters were turned away from Chili's and the Cheesecake Factory.

In the meantime, panic has taken over as people search frantically for a way to continue their normal lives without worrying about these walking flu monsters. It is quickly discovered that the flu monsters won't harm anybody who either has or already had the flu. Soon after this revelation, the original flu becomes a hot item. People begin to exaggerate their flu symptoms or even fabricate them altogether as a status symbol. Women in BMWs will roll down the window and launch a dark yellow phlegm ball towards the crosswalk while stopped at a traffic light. Men in chic clubs will go through several tissues amplifying every acutely angled nose cleanse while making eye contact with an attractive woman. It is especially popular to use this tactic on dates as incentive to seize the opportunity to obtain the flu as a result of spending the night together.

Amidst all the excitement, nobody cares to be annoyed at repetitive Christmas music, and nobody can be bothered with Christmas shopping or anything else other than their own safety. Parents are trying to make sure their kids catch a proper flu, and then taking care of them once they have it. Soon, everybody has the flu, and all the single people in the world are now in the bountifully snot-caked arms of a new romance. Come Christmas eve, everybody was anticipating a sound sleep without having purchased a single Christmas gift, fully satisfied in their Nyquil haze. Except for all the coughing. And then the nagging thoughts of preparing an explaination to their family and friends that being safe from the flu monsters is sufficient as a gift... not to mention concocting a plausible, G-rated reason that Santa Clause could not defeat the Flu Monsters (having left that to last minute), and that he plans to make up for it next year. News coverage has been mostly focused on the war on flu monsters, and very few have noticed the lack of reporting about economic concerns during this crucial time of the year, which given the lack of activity people assumed must be dismal.

The entire country was trying to conquer their restlessness as they allowed bumping, creeking, and other abnormal sounds pass by during the unwholesome hours of the night when even the Christmas movies have extended ads during commercial breaks that bad stand-up comedians poke fun at. Eventually, people give in and get up as the morning glow hits the last of the 5 grieving phases. Parents are preparing their surprised disappointment voices, and couples are winding up for their sheepish apologetic tone as they approach their Christmas tree/living room focal area/marijuana bush/wherever the exchange of gifts takes place when the nation is in for a shock. An unquantifiable mound decadently wrapped presents are piled up with great feng shui and grace. Actually, some people still begin giving their apologies and excuses as planned because they are too fucking jaded to notice something this amazing at first glance. Once the elation subsided enough to ask questions, people discovered that the presents were from the Flu Monsters, who had compuslively purchased trendy gadgets and indulgent food items and, unable to find a use for it themselves, gave it to those who had earned their brotherhood by overcoming the unevolved flu.

To make things even better, family gatherings were significantly less painful than normal! Not one conversation was reduced to "I read on Yahoo news that a survey found that iTunes gift cards are easier to use than amazon.com gift cards." or "You know what dad? Life isn't about things that can be said during job interviews and placed on resumes. I'm gonna live my own life!" Nor were there any outbursts of, "You don't have to whisper, I know that I got fat this year. Maybe it wouldn't seem so sudden if somebody would visit me every now and then!" People were just content to see eachother, and where there may have usually been awkward silence to be filled with passive aggressive comments or bland filler was replaced by tales of surviving the flu monsters. After Christmas, the flu monsters were nowhere to be found. But there was news that Apple, Verizon Wireless, and Williams-Sonoma had all purchased large shares of Pfizer, manufacturer of Z-Pak antibiotics.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Trash Eaters

You can say this is about Sarah Palin and you wouldn't be wrong, but you wouldn't be entirely right, either.

A man waiting at a bus stop with his 10-year old son saw a reasonably well-dressed woman sitting on an open trash can (the kind with a small hole in the middle of a flat 8-inch rim that is covered in splatterings from whenever someone missed the center). He suggested that she might want to move, since there is plenty of space on the benches and that rubbish bin is filthy. She replied indignantly, "Well I for one don't consider myself too full of pride to touch the refuse of society." Even though he didn't want to take the bait, he couldn't help but defend himself in front of his son. "I don't consider myself too proud for that, I just-" "Then prove it!" she interrupted. An obese, grotesque individual had been waiting to deposit the remnants of their breakfast into the can. The man could have pointed out that her symbolic gesture of humility is ironically impeding this person, but he knew such a thing would be lost on her. Instead he took the bag from the person and ate all the contents, some of which were half-chewed or touching heavily saturated crumbled napkins. She shakes her head as she slides off the waste receptacle, depriving none of her surface area the privilege of wiping the filthy lid. She said, "You must not care much for our nation." Then she directs her attention to the man's son. "You want to see what it means to love America?" She reached into the bin and searched for the most questionable and moist morsel and pulled it out. The man said, "You really shouldn't eat that, you don't know when they last emptied that bin and you don't know what that it is." She crammed it into her mouth and took her time chewing it. "It doesn't matter, because it was made in the USA." She encouraged everybody to show their patriotism. There was plenty of garbage in the can, and they found a dumpster filled to the brim in the nearby parking lot. The man gave up discouraging everybody and just waited patiently for the bus and told his son that what they were doing was dirty and uncalled for. Once the bus arrived, everybody piled in. Before long, people started throwing up, the volume of which was in direct proportion to their patriotism. Eventually everybody was too busy vomiting to do anything else, and breathing room was becoming scarce. The man had fallen asleep, leaving the son to act on his own. Without a word the child began eating all the vomit.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Keeping The Past

Larry Chelgerson is a stealth pariah, a mascot for what disillusioned young people can't stand about whatever they see him involved in, though usually they still can't find the words to explain why. Right now he is in line to place a take-away order at one of those urban European-style cafes that are staffed by cute pasty college girls who seem to be given specific instructions to:

1) visit the gym once or twice per week so as to appear active, but not intimidating
2) avoid sunlight
3) think sad or stressful thoughts every now and then so your face's natural resting position is intriguing to those who spend their time in pursuit of the obscure rather than the sincere.

At least one of the servers will have an endearing speech impediment that will attract regulars; regulars being just another word for stalkers who tip. The place is probably owned by three brothers from Bangladesh with mustaches and uneven laughs. The layout is what Bengali business men would imagine Americans think chic cafes in charming European cities look like. Between all the glass, sterility, smooth surfaces, and technology in use, it looks like an Apple store featuring some textured mixed-media art the local community college couldn't find a use for. Larry was peering out towards his car to see if his wife was growing impatient, at which point he saw familiar faces pass through the vestibule. They were too far away, so he looked down at his shoes for 7 seconds and then pretended that he was just noticing them at the moment they walked by and said, "Vern and Tabitha?! No way!" Vern appeared to shift his attention to Larry without moving his head or altering the gestures that were already underway as he was walking. This is a rehearsed move, for in his mind, it was as if he hit an electrified tripwire. "Larry, what's up? I didn't know you knew about this place!" Only older people can allow such condescending sentences like that to pass unnoticed. Vern is a semi-retired real estate agent who has developed the social version of the ESP skip protection that portable CD players had when they weren't obsolete. He has pushed out so many inaccurate self-expressions in his lifetime that there is not one whose meaning can be discerned with any degree of certainty. Whatever expression he tries to make, you naturally meet him halfway and pull out a meaning of your own choice, based entirely on what your feelings about him are. Larry vaguely admires Vern's lifestyle without a sense of envy, so he doesn't catch Vern's reluctance to invite him and his wife to join them for breakfast, accepting the offer without once wondering if he is intruding. As Larry struts out to retrieve his wife, Tabitha gives Vern a look. She can't read Vern's face and tone any better than the rest of the world, but she knows what he is thinking because they tend to have the same thoughts in these situations. That is what happens when you spend enough time appeasing, placating, and enabling the good and bad habits of someone you care about. Sometimes, when Vern isn't sure what to think, he takes his cues from Tabitha's facial broadcast. She doesn't like Larry or any of the other mediocre people who abuse her husband's tendency to regale himself and give advice, not to mention remind himself of how practical it is that he spends all of his time studying real estate. Real estate is the king of all generalized small talk, and unless you are in the business or in the market for a new home, any conversation about it might as well take place under a heat lamp next to a pile of dog waste.

Larry and his wife are two similarly numb people who stumble with great intention through life with a white knuckle grip on a list of what they want to experience and how they want it to feel. To participate in any activity with them feels like being at a school dance when people engage in forced unnecessary conversation just to avoid being seen standing by themselves. Here's one fact that nobody else knows about Larry and his wife, a habit that irritates their offspring: On a pleasant morning, they will wake up extra early to go for a walk, regardless of whether they are actually in the mood to do so. They do it just because the morning is pleasant and they don't want to miss out on it, as though it were a sale at Marshalls. They are basically retired, but they run a small local printing business that just recently got a website where you can pay for your orders online. This is practical not because they are massively successful and need help filling all their orders, but because the same few customers order the same stuff so often that automating the process was a very simple process.

While everybody else has either gotten over ringtones altogether or maybe they have a familiar sound bite from a TV show or movie, Larry has downloaded the same tone for the past three phones. Every time somebody calls him, the dramatic climax of "Nessun Dorma" from the opera Turandot is played on an impossibly tinny midi orchestra. Anyone who has lunch with him on a business day will never again feel that rush of emotion often summoned by that aria. If someone has never heard it, he can sense this fact and will proceed to explain the significance of that scene, thus ruining opera in general for them.

Larry and his wife are basically interviewing Vern while Tabitha criticizes the menu layout in her head. She catches herself wanting to ask Larry and his wife what they would change if they printed out the menus, just to see how they like it. She watches the conversation take familiar turns towards soliciting Vern for recommendations:

-First, some general questions that allow Vern to ramble not necessarily about work -Then Larry mentions the small printing jobs he did for Vern way back in the day, and how great a deal he gave him, just to remind Vern that he's hooked him up before.
-This paves the way for him to ask Vern about retirement properties.

"So Vern, you and Tabitha seem to disappear during the summer and winter months. My wife and I, we've been looking into a vacation home for the unpleasant times of the year now that the kids are, well, safe to say, out of the nest." Vern treats these conversations like sex or a really good time-sensitive dessert such as ice cream on a hot piece of pie, carefully regulating the indulgence for maximum enjoyment. If there is anything Vern likes to do after talking about himself, it is to find ways for other people to be like him and explain those ways in detail. He replies, "Well, where have you looked?" At this point Larry and his wife took turns responding seamlessly: "Well we used to think all we wanted was pleasant weather, nice restaurants, scenery, and to be safe... but as we explored and read and did our research, it seems all the best spots are picked over, expensive, and/or over-developed. Besides, even if a new place is discovered, it isn't long before everyone is all over it, building ugly high-rises and raising the taxes." Vern has been nodding throughout, and continues as he says, "You aren't the only ones with these concerns, and it has lead to a real paradigm shift. Wouldn't it be nice if we could live in the dignity to which we are entitled? Somewhere we have control over the market and the quality of the people? And I don't mean one of those tacky gated communities, either." Larry sighed, "Yeah... but you have to be practical, right?" Vern was waiting for this part. "Well actually, there is a new market that I think you're going to like." Larry played along jadedly, "Where? New Zealand? Hawaii? Costa Rica?" Vern cuts him off, "No chief, all those places are already ruined. I've discovered the only place left for us: the past!" Vern continues, "Whenever life becomes unpleasant, we move into our new vacation home in the past. We already know how everything turns out, so there is no concern about flooding the market or ending up living in a bad neighborhood. We get to visit the lifestyle that the rotten subsequent generations have destroyed whenever we want!"

Larry massaged his left temple as he said, "So let me get this straight: while the lazy, self-centered, unmotivated young generation with no actual sense of collective identity continue to piss away the wonderful world that you and I and our parents spent a lifetime working to preserve, we can live in the past and enjoy happier days of clean decent entertainment, clearly defined gender roles, reasonable social norms regarding race and religion, a more structured courtship process with far less shame and promiscuity, and of course health coverage and a viable retirement?" Vern nodded, "Exactly. Where do you think health insurance and social security came from, anyway? Do you think it is a coincidence that our current system only benefits people our age and older? Psh! As though people had the kind of foresight back then to set things up to punish the disgraceful, mercilessly unsentimental and shallow generations born after 1965." Larry stood up, "So basically, we get to give ourselves a fulfilling life with wholesome Christmas specials and bragging rights about inventing everything that my rude, uneducated, soulless kids take for granted?" Vern replied affirmatively and added, "Of course you can come back and visit your families whenever you want, as we're doing right now. Also, since you really can't talk about the future with anybody in the past, we find it therapeutic to come visit the present day and get all the complaining out of our systems about how terrible everything is and how all these kids fucked it up." Presenting a document, Vern says, "All you have to do is pass this credit check and sign here." Larry said, "Credit check!? I INVENTED credit checks!" All four of them laughed and totally stiffed the waitress as they departed, with Larry's "Nessun Dorma" ringer going off.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Good Night Wife

Good night boner
Good night wife
Good night pillow between me and my wife
Good night ceiling
Good night breasts
Good night notion of a good night's rest
Good night lips
Good night hips
Good night hands, clenching the sheet till it rips
Good night clock
Good night door
Good night laptop placed on the bathroom floor
Good night facebook
Good night old photos
Good night ex, who may have been crazy and irresponsible but god damn, at least she put out on weeknights, I mean I'm at a completely different part of my life than I was back then and I am overall much happier now, but still shit this really sucks.
Good night rationalizations
Good night door lock
Good night tissues since I don't have a sock
Good night paranoia
Good night squeaky toilet seat
Good night distractions as I focus on my meat
Good night guilt
Good night deflation
Good night to an uncomfortable situation
Good night "Clear Recent History"
Good night walk of shame
Good night nobody but myself to blame
Good night clock
Good night bed
Good night back of my wife's head
Good night wife
Good night boner

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


So I drove to Miami, AZ this past weekend. It was one of those trips where my expectations were a little higher than the should be and I didn't prepare as much as I should have. I rolled into town late in the morning and tried to find that "happening" road with all the shops and restaurants and the visitor's center that hands out the kitchy maps that outline the routes to all the best destinations (marked by smiling cacti and sombreros). The first attraction I noticed was all the easy spots to parallel park in. The dilapidated buildings at the tops of the surrounding hills loomed over me as I locked my car, removed my iPod and head unit, threw bags over valuables, and all that other paranoid white people superstitious nonsense, and walked toward the first cafe I could find. Before I could enter, a face that had great potential to be broad and welcoming came at me like a snow plow. "You look like you don't have a direction." I admitted that he was correct. "Are you interested in the antique shops?" I nodded. "How about the cliff dwellings up rt. 88?" I nodded faster, trying to stimulate a more comfortable upbeat tone. "How about something to eat?" As I unloaded a twangy request for restaurant recommendations, he cut me off. "Didn't you visit our chamber of commerce website? It's really... informative." I lied and said I was just passing through and was on my way to Globe, the next town over. He stopped looking at me and said, "We share their website. www.globemiamichamberofcommerce.com. We put a lot of time and effort into keeping that website up to date." I told him that I hadn't had the time to research it, and asked for suggestions for some Mexican food. He gestured towards my messenger bag, "Go to our website on your iPhone. You'll find my reviews of local dining options contained in the message board designated for 'Restaurants', which is divided by genre of cuisine. Just follow the Dining & Nightlife link, you'll know when you get there." I was a little freaked out, so I stuttered something of an explanation of why I may have appreciated whatever it was he told me as I walked into an antique shop with my hand in my bag. After a few antique shops and some old framed newspapers I learned a little about the history of the area. I went online as I was walking down the street and a windswept expression of involuntary surprise anchored by a neck that would take a marble 5 minutes to roll down approaches me, "What do you think you're doin'?" As I started to reply, he said, "You're not about to post to Facebook about how ironic it is that we used to be a mining town and now our main industry is antiques, are ye?" How did he know that? "That's what everyone does when they go through her. You'd know that if you looked in the blog section of our chamber of commerce website." Just then, the first old man and a few indistinct friends approached and he said, "You haven't eaten yet, have you? Have you even looked at our website yet?" I started backing up and said I had to go, somehow unable to jettison my own cumbersome politeness. "Sorry, can't let you do that." Everyone stood silent as a young ranger with a flat shovel forehead which obscured everything else about him informed me, "This area is quarantined, which these kind folks were trying to help you learn. Maybe it's time you look at our website." Quarantined? What have I gotten myself into? They helped me navigate through their website, and it was very well laid out. As far as the "quarantine" situation, it was complicated. They unearthed a unique mineral that attracted a certain species of bacteria and caused it to mutate; anybody who spend more than two hours in the town would have to be tested. The ranger said, "I'm afraid that before you leave you'll have to be screened for Laffybatts." "Laffybatts?!" I asked. "Yes, Laffybatts. It is a potentially fatal condition." As I stifled a giggle, one of the townsfolk said, "Hold that laugh, buckaroo, my 3 year old daughter died from a case of them laffybatts, and so did..." He trailed off, looking towards the ranger. He said, "That's... not important now. The important thing is to get you tested.

The doctor's office was empty, and I wondered if he had much to do other than test people for Laffybatts. He took me to the only cleanroom with wood paneling I've ever seen and drew a little blood. I asked if it was curable and nobody answered. The doctor returned with the same blank expression he had when he plunged the needle into my arm. "It's Laffybatts, and I'm afraid it's... terminal." I started grabbing for things before I knew what I could be grabbing for and yelling at people before I could breathe... then I just slouched down into a chair. The ranger said, "Well, there is one known cure." After an expectant moment of silence, he continued. "We would have to... light you on fire and throw you into the tar pits." The doctor burst into agreement, "Yes, the tar pits are full of laffybatts, and if you present live laffybatts with a complete surface area of burnt laffybatts, it could work! I've been doing tests on lighting infected javelina on fire and had some success!" As I protested their logic they showed me the documentation on the chamber of commerce website, which was formatted very professionally. As they doused me in kerosene, the ranger said, "Are you sure this is a good idea?" He was looking at me, and I rehashed what they told me, referring to the data on their website. The ranger continued in the same tone, "Why do you believe the website?" I responded, "Well, why else would it be there?" Then the first old man I spoke to said, "Maybe to teach people a lesson about believing their instincts and experience instead of whatever they read on the internet. Maybe then you would have learned to appreciate our fine town." I protested, "But that doesn't make any sense! You told me repeatedly to look at the website before I even stepped foot into... which I didn't do, I walked around and learned about the town myself! I trusted my instincts many times before even looking at your website!" The ranger said, "Alright fine, we just like dousing people in kerosene for kicks. Plus it's a favor for old man Pitters. He owns the tar pits and nobody ever comes by to visit them. But please feel free to post on our message board about what you say to your friends and coworkers to explain why you smell like petroleum."

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


The deepest fears of many rural Americans were confirmed this morning, as photographs of a UFO hovering around an airport in China were featured in the news. The fear is not that aliens exist, but that yet another entity has abandoned the American working class in favor of China. A deeper betrayal, however, has yet to sink in. Until now, it was easy for people to live in the shelters of delusions that we are God's master plan. Now that idea can no longer be rationalized as we are clearly not God's main squeeze, but rather the unstable whore God uses for target practice. Judging by the sleek spacecraft God has graced his "other" planet with, whom we shall call Sheila, it seems we are just an easy lay. Throw ol' Earth a few canyons and some grandiose music and we'll spend centuries bragging about it to our friends.

The relationship between God and Sheila, however, is very intriguing. They have been in courtship for many years, long before Earth came along. God is very broadminded, and once things started to grow stale with Sheila, God started to fool around. Well one such conquest, Earth, turned out to be quite a handful. Since God was never around Sheila became suspicious and built a space craft. You know what they say about an idle mind... and it looks like at long last Sheila has found God's mistress. It makes sense that God chose to show China instead of America, since the large population of Chinese Buddhists would reflect more favorably on the situation than America, with its current obsession with infidelity in the ruling class. God showed Sheila with the Great Wall, museums full of pottery, and a field of power generating wind turbines... all of this served to distract from Tibet, labor laws, and other depraved practices that highlight the naughty, experimental side God wants to hide. God knows Sheila is bored and would love to be full of torture, corruption, pollution, and hypocrisy, but the last thing God needs is another needy unstable planet calling all the time. God intended to conclude the tour in the Arctic Circle to show off some majestic glaciers. Just as Sheila was about to leave, they were paid a visit Sarah Palin, who had overheard them from Alaska because she had her window open. "Well gosh darnit, I had to see it with my own eyes. God! I would like to think that all the conversations you had with me and former president George W. Bush would have meant something. What would Jesus think if he saw this? You know... your son? Your only son, begotten by Mary?" Sheila gasped, "You have a son?!!? After all these years of making excuses... I was starting to wonder if you were impotent. And who is this Mary? She sounds like a real slut. I bet she had big tits, too... is that why you gave me two moons? I think I'm going to be sick." Sheila tried to keep composure, but the tears started flowing, and all God could say was, "Sheila! You're melting my glaciers!" This set Sheila off: "You know what? Fine, go ahead and have other planets, I don't care. I'll go be like those Hindu people you showed me, they seem to have fun. From now on I'm polytheistic. I'll go God-hopping whenever I feel like it!" Sheila left and God was speechless. Sarah Palin said, "Good riddance. Look at it this way: at least you'll always have us!" With no hesitation, God was off to follow Sheila and beg forgiveness, never to be found on Earth again.

Monday, October 4, 2010


I treat women the way I treat boners: always excited to show them off at the Old Country Buffet whenever I have one.

I pick my women the way I pick my scabs: the younger they are, the more they bleed.

I choose my women like I choose my cell phone: smaller than they were three years ago and permanently set to silent.

I take my prostitutes like I take my salsa: chunky with free refills.

I use women they way I use my subway pass: 2 or 3 rides and then donate them to a needy homeless person.

I enjoy my women the way I used to enjoy free trials of Cinemax & HBO: all the orgasms I can handle for a few weeks until they ask for money, then I spend the rest of the year jerking off while thinking about it.

I take a girl the way I take a suicide pill: once.

I eat pussy like I eat fast food: convince myself that it is ok to eat the cheese, and wipe off all the sperm from those other guys.

I use women the way I use the toilet: one massive disgusting poorly managed load stops her flow, then I panic and leave it for the next guy.

I treat women the way people treat their pets: pretend they have a personality so they feel better about it when they have sex with them.

I treat women the way Snapple treats the general public: distract them with interesting facts that can't be verified at the moment so they'll drink the nasty juice.

I take my women the way I take Splenda: I see them at Denny's at 2AM and for some reason I take them home with me, but the following morning they are nowhere near my coffee.

I fuck women the way I brush my teeth: It's just what I tell people I'm doing while I'm really just sitting on the toilet thinking about life.

I handle my women the way I handle dreams: when they are around I can't seem to fully appreciate or understand them, and when I wake up and they're gone I often spend many potentially productive hours trying to recapture them. In the rare instance that I do, they aren't quite the same as they were for reasons I can't explain.

I treat women the way I treat pumpkins: I used degrade them and use them for sex, but I have since found that I enjoy them more when I give them a smile and let them stick around.

I feel in an airport men's room how women must feel at bars: surrounded by disoriented awkward men trying to act smooth when they really just can't wait to take out their dicks; and then they try to maintain dignity as they discreetly fart. Yet still even after this they want to be taken seriously.

I take men the way I take Prince: I don't really care what your name is, and I don't care if my friends discover that I find you attractive.

I do men like I do boxing: land one cheap shot then claim my wrist hurts too much to finish the match and then I go bragging about it to my friends about it.

I fuck men the way I play darts: I swear that I'm aiming for the Bull's Eye, but somehow I always end up hitting someone in the face.

Men are like bugs: they often come in my mouth when I'm sleeping.

I treat men the way I make paper airplanes: I fold them in a series of improbable angles for my amusement with no direction in mind, then I toss them and start a new sheet before they even hit the ground.

I do men like I pluck nose hairs: if it takes more than one pull I lose interest.

I take my men the way I take my coffee: full of my sperm.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Vacation Remnants

Ellis and Phyllis Mifflecreet were packing, preparing to conclude their daring vacation at a remote resort in northeastern Argentina in the province of Misiones. They were doing right now what they've been doing most of the journey: rationalizing the trip to one another, mostly with words paraphrased from the Wikipedia, Frommers, and Nat'l Geographic articles which they had independently studied before planning the itinerary. Having absorbed far too much of one another over the years, they resembled two overfilled balloons, too full to be tied so they just keep taking in more of each others hot air, often trembling in anticipation of whatever great pop which will send at least one of them spiraling across the room.

One only acquires a name like "Ellis" through legitimate and organized means. There are now lawmakers in his lineage, but his family always seem to benefit from the world as it is currently set up. He is heir to no permanent income; but rather more of a straight line of effort, as though someone wrote a simple letter on a pile of carbon paper. Each generation is assigned a sheet by which to express themselves. He noticed some of the words were blurry, but he still wanted what he was entitled to, so in order to maintain moral equilibrium he lives his life by a strict code of conduct that allows regimented indulgence paired with states of frantic penance; all of which he imposes upon everyone else as much as upon himself. A blend of Christianity and his own personal philosophies gleaned from old movies and classic American authors.

They were carefully folding their pleated slacks, thinking about which ones they would assign priority to in the instance of a hangar shortage. Then a stowaway crawled out of an open bag. It ran under the bed, then crawled up the lowest point of the bed skirt onto the surface, which it blended with pretty convincingly. The tastefully subdued linens which the Mifflecreets keep in their home would scarcely resemble the markings of a venomous spider from South America with a 5 inch leg span, but they didn't choose their vacation spot by bedroom linens. Nor did they plan an encounter with the Phoneutria nigriventer, commonly known as the Brazilian Wandering Spider or the Banana Spider (as it often stows away in crates of bananas). Their bag did not contain bananas, but gifts for friends and future conversation pieces at dinner parties. Anybody who would be invited to such an event would already know the Mifflecreets went to South America, but the displayed souvenirs would serve well during the panic of quiet moments that occur far too soon to entreat a graceful exit.

Of course any couple about to leave the beautiful, warm, humid seclusion of Argentina who add tedious extra steps to organizing their luggage must have advanced experience with avoiding sex. Despite a healthy, even impressive track record for the first couple decades of the marriage, the combination of a stressful lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits have left Ellis incapable of physical intimacy. He and Phyllis agreed that it would be sinful to include alternative modes of stimulation and pharmaceuticals into the bedroom, so the unpleasant topic was allowed to drop. This made him feel comfortable, as he was then absolved from responsibility with no shortage of valid well-documented excuses. She was distraught at first; she wasn't ready for this chapter of their life together to be over. After years of ignoring temptation, once her children moved out her friends set her up with some pre-screened men, thus tying all loose ends for an airtight rationalization.

The Brazilian Walking Spider was hiding in the crevice made when the blanket is tucked over and partially under the pillows. They made the bed themselves as they always do on vacation when they woke up at 5:35 AM; it kept them busy they were waiting for breakfast to be available. It was now 9:30 and they were done packing, with several hours until they had to leave for the airport. They decided to visit their favorite vantage point, which overlooked a flat path that they were both still physically capable of exploring but at no point took the initiative. Phyllis was sure to make Ellis feel the weight of her curiosity to walk the pathway. Ellis begun his usual protest process with his skeptical groan as he removed his sandals and retrieved from his suitcase the most convenient socks and shoes, which happened to be the more active and durable pair. These shoes gave him the option to actually explore the walkway, thus eliminating one of his excuses. He felt his control over the decision slipping from his grip as he leaned back on the bed to pull on his left sock. He felt a small impact on his hip, immediately followed by a sharp pain that left him breathless for a second, stymieing an otherwise embarrassing screech into a hiccup. They both froze at the glance of the spider as it zipped towards temporary oblivion. They tried to retain dignity as they swatted at it with their shoes the way a reluctant debutante might swing a wine bottle at a reincarnation of Hitler; fighting for their lives but also prepared to rebound into composure if the specter were to vanish. The spider exited through the window, and Phyllis called for help as Ellis scanned online reference material, identifying the species very quickly.

They sent the only medic available, who asked a few routine questions and assured Ellis that he was going to be fine and if he remained calm he would suffer significantly less. His lack of muscle spasms and erratic breathing rate were good signs... the medic's command of English was far greater than his pronunciation lead one to believe, and when he mentioned "priapism" it slipped right by the both of them. Ellis didn't catch it, even though he had read it in his quick research. After the medic left, Ellis went to the bathroom to relieve himself... and after 25 minutes of "be out it a second", Phyllis demanded to know what was going on in there. When he emerged, he was sporting a rehearsed grimace and a pert erection. She laughed at how undignified he appeared at this moment. He explained that the "situation" was a very uncomfortable effect of the venom called "priapism", it may last several hours and hopefully won't require medical attention. The more he tried to be taken seriously, the less she heard him. All she could think of is that it was even bigger than she remembered. She was absently discussing possible plans of action when she interrupted herself to make a far more practical suggestion. She viewed this as an amazing opportunity for a worthy finale to their sex life. Ellis disagreed, he felt that it was a false representation of him and that even though it was not harnessed from a pill it was still not natural. Phyllis found her self once again absently participating in a useless conversation, as he lectured her about the medical research being done on the spider's toxin that was causing this priapism and how it may be incorporated into Viagra in the future, and how the erection was not because of his feelings for her, that she would be defiling herself by partaking in false pleasure. Then she thought about his weakened state. When he was done talking, she helped him to his feet to get a glass of water. She admitted that he was right and that there was no reason for them to sin. They sat down next to one another on the bed. As he tried to hold her hand, she proceeded to push him onto his back and sit on his chest in order to remove his pants. As she tried to flop onto his now exposed involuntary erection, he rolled over off the bed and stood up. He begged on behalf of their virtue, with his back to the corner near the window he pleaded that this isn't God's plan. When that didn't work, he tried to guilt her about the spider bite and how sick he felt. He saw the familiar expression she gave when she decided what restaurant they would go to or which house they would move into, so he threw in his whammy card and pretended to faint. Without hesitation she pounced on and started grinding. All he could do then was swing his arms side to side and call out towards the open window. She stuffed both of his socks into his mouth, and amidst fits of passion she proudly proclaimed her intentions to ride him until they had to leave for the airport as she tied his wrists together with an ugly paisley necktie*. It was at this point, when he had no course of action aside from passive acceptance, that he ceased his struggling. After a couple hours of inert staring, he clenched his jaw and trembled in such a way that spider venom doesn't cause. After a silent trip to the airport, the incident was not discussed.

They still made people endure a stodgy dinner party. Their friends and family close their eyes for a roll as they are directed to pass the veggies clockwise and the meats and starches counter-clockwise. Everything they discuss from their trip could be found in various reference material without visiting Argentina, which makes some people wonder why they go on these trips at all. Phyllis and Ellis' drinks still never get around to melting any ice as they ramble about each item from the latest trip as well as certain "classic" items, as though their dinner parties have a "Greatest Hits" compilation in the making. This year, however, everyone is dismissed earlier than usual. Somewhere in a hollowed trinket from their South America trip is a small vial of mysterious substance. Tonight it will be accessed in secret, the way it always is whenever Ellis wears his ugly paisley necktie.

*every year one of their kids gets him another hideous paisley necktie that they know he hasn't the sense of style to realize is completely at odds with the rest of his wardrobe. Phyllis can't stand them, but Ellis thinks they are funny and wears them whenever he wants people to think he has a sense of humor.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Tales of a Narrow Cheese Rind

Foreword by the author: This is stupid.

I didn't used to look like this. Sure, like everybody else I had my humble beginnings in several misguided 4-cheese pizzas, and some poorly executed forays in the entertainment bizz. They couldn't give me away for free... People would look at me and say, "What the hell is that?" Under their breath they would talk about how I don't work well with Merlot. They don't know shit about Merlot, nobody worth a damn will work with fucking merlot. I'd rather come in individually wrapped slices than be able to work with fucking merlot. People couldn't even pronounce my name, so I was told to change it to "Sharp Cheddar". I took their suggestion for a while, those were some rough times. When an agent discovered me, I had a toothpick sticking out of my back outside a supermarket in Hell's Kitchen. After that I knew everything would be fine. I was the feature cheese in 11 pizzas, three without the accompaniment of other toppings, once without sauce. One time I did an avante-garde pizza without crust. I was a fixture at all the right parties; I had my space right between Boule De Lille and Tilsit. I was briefly in an international touring quartet with Brie, Beemster, and Campo De Montalban. Critics raved, "An intense, fiery start gives way to pleasant nuttiness, with a rich dry finish that makes us all feel a little more... human". Then someone suggested I do a project with "Spaghetti & Meatballs". At first I refused, saying I don't do that hokey wop bullshit. They wined and dined me and flattered me, saying I was perfect for the part, so aged and so hardened. Signing that contract was the biggest mistake of the latter portion of my career. I had to go through their middle man: a cheese grater. After my share of these grueling productions, this is what's left of me. No more taking center stage at parties, no more shackin' up with naive young Ritz crackers fresh from the package, and even Tilsit won't return my calls. They keep me around for my popular role in "Spaghetti and Meatballs", but every time they look at me I can see guilt in their eyes because I know they're thinking about getting rid of me... but hey, I know I'm good for at least one more show.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


I just wanted to do you a big favor. I know you think what you wrote was insightful and witty and biting, as well as whimsical and unexpected but not as though to try to be unexpected but that natural way of being unexpected that is so hard to accomplish... but it was really just weak. I mean if someone else ran with the idea you started it could have been great, but it looks like all you do is come up with unlikely situations and describe them in ways that are more "specific" than they are insightful or thought provoking... there is nothing special or especially appropriate about them. It's basically like the Family Guy, except at least Family Guy manages to be mainstream and absurd at the same time. You manage to be neither.

"Well thank you, I think you have a point, I could use some more experience and fine tuning. Thank you for being honest, it is-"

Ok, stop right there. First of all, don't tell me that my honesty is refreshing, which I know you were about to do. Yes you were, where else was that sentence going? Also stop trying to be all magnanimous, accepting my criticism gracefully as though we are journeyman experiencing some rough camaraderie in the rigorous process of "sharpening your craft" and that you can impress me by how courageously objective you are in response to my harsh words, as though in a few weeks we'll be drinking cider up the road talking about fucking Bulgakov or some shit. It is patronizing and inaccurate and it is rude to impose your ego and your comfortable fantasies onto someone who obviously sees through you. This distance you keep between yourself and the truth is just as apparent in your writing as it is in person. You've been lulled to sleep in the esurient arms of your delusions of grandeur. It is utterly painful to listen to you speak, and even more so that you genuinely don't know how hopeless each sentence you construct is, nor do you know how woeful the notion of any future efforts you may expend on what you call writing.

"Honestly I just do this for therapeutic reasons and because I enjoy it, I'm not trying to make a career out of it."

AHHHH! Stop acting like you aren't distraught right now, it is a conceited and vain pretense that you are trying to maintain an even tone while clenching your jaw like that and keeping a death grip on the strap of your laptop case. And no this isn't me masquerading as an observant bystander giving my opinion and projecting my insecurities on you, anybody in this room has noticed at least all of these egregious faults and probably more. Do you see yet how dire this situation is? Also, no way do you find it therapeutic to write about the strange thoughts you force yourself to indulge into essays and stories and poems. Each work is like a hose with your thumb over the outlet, spraying vanity all over the crowd. You're not blowing our minds, man! You know what will be therapeutic for you, as well as the rest of us? Stop writing. Stop trying to use your strange observations to assert superiority in the irrelevant domain of your imagination. Just enjoy your silly thoughts and let them pass the way the rest of us do. You're not listening, I can tell that you are trying to think of something to say.

"Don't flatter yourself, I don't care about what you are saying, I've stopped paying attention."

Alright. Feel free to act like you don't care, but in reality, I am now your largest influence, and I will follow you around for the rest of your life. Every time you are disillusioned and you're trying to decide whether to ever write another sentence, I'll be in your thoughts. Then you will continue to write just to spite me, then once you realize that you will try to repress all thoughts about me, building more mental scar tissue upon other mental scar tissue all from this confrontation.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


On a Thursday morning in the future, the world is devastated by the discovery that anybody who had eaten widely distributed meat products, foods with GMO, or large amounts high-fructose corn syrup was going to die a drawn-out torturous death, the onset of which happens when certain chemicals and additives present in these foods accumulate and age together within our tissues. There is no cure and no ambiguity in the "phases" of the illness, which begin suddenly as flipping a switch. There is only one symptom: all your major organs become become voluntary and require constant conscious operation. You will have to make your heart beat as though flexing your biceps, and you will have to push blood through the liver as though blowing dust off an old book.

After the announcement on the morning news, most of the civilized world made the decision to never leave the house again and surrender to fate. They discretely stocked up on bomb-shelter cuisine and minimized communication with the outside world. Nobody wanted to face the shitstorm of smugness and gloating that would be emanating from all the vegans who were already self-righteous even before their lifestyle saved them from a plague. Little did everyone know that the vegans were to do something far more insulting on the height of their great edification: Rather than simply shower the world with "told ya so"'s(2), they were humble and empathetic and did all they possibly could to help those who were willing to accept it.

Many non-vegans were bitterly offended by this. They rationalized that it is easy to be magnanimous when you know you are soon going to inherit control of the world. Vegans were accused of being the benefactor of a lucky choice they arbitrarily made. They were dubbed the trust fund babies of fate, heirs to a fortune they didn't earn.

People started becoming symptomatic in large groups. The first great wave of people were understandably the slowest to adapt, but the ones who survived documented their experiences for the benefit of their successors. Unfortunately they soon discovered their ability to orgasm at will, which distracted and killed everybody except for Donny Mazerbek, who found a unique use for this level of control. Donny maintained an erection for the entire 3-month duration of his career as a porn star.(1)

The subsequent waves of infectees had a higher ratio of survivors. Unfortunately, the only way they could survive was to sit in a trance-like dormant state, consuming the minimum required to stay alive, allocating their calories and nutrients with near-perfect efficiency. They never interacted with anybody unless forced to, and nobody went out of their way to communicate with them and thus risk causing a loved one to lose focus and die. In the later waves, even some vegans and vegetarians because symptomatic, as they had consumed enough GMO or meat with questionable FDA-approved additives or high fructose corn syrup at some point in their lives to have it eventually accumulate. In 3 years time, everybody who was going to succumb to the disease had isolated themselves in an almost comatose state, hidden from everything except some canned goods and a water source. Only the most extreme vegans who rigorously practiced their beliefs were left with free will.

Marissa recognized someone, "Merry Christmas, Brent." This was the most assertive thing Marissa had said in 8 months. "Oh thank you but I don't celebrate Christmas. I only celebrate holidays relating to the sun and the Earth and the cosmos; nothing that was made by religions that harbor genocide. Oh I'm sorry, not that I mind you celebrating Christmas, you are perfectly free to do that as well." "You're right Brent. Besides, now that the practice of speciesism is over, everyday is a celebration. Do you know what I mean? And it will be a celebration like this every day for the rest of our lives. How lucky we are." Brent flashed his version of a smile and expressed his form of friendly agreement, "Marissa, you always use the same words to describe the way you feel, but that is ok because it is still just as wonderful and joyous, and the words you use don't even matter." Then they both say at the exact same time, "I hope there will come a day when all the world can escape the confines of language altogether." Then they took a moment to smell one another, locked eyes, disrobed, and started having sex. They thought about how special that moment was. They thought about how renewed the world was. They thought about how great it was to be a part of it. Without words they knew procreation was the goal of this act. There were no condoms left anyway. It was a natural and beautiful act. She had coarse hair all over her legs the way some women are supposed to, with a mound of pubic hair obscuring the current of rapturous juices being churned. The flow ran down his scrotum, which from lack of undergarment support had stretched to a more natural level next to his kneecap. With majestically outstretched arms they held hands, and the interlocking hairs of their armpits diffuse the scent of stale fast-food taco meat around the perimeter. Razor blades and deodorant are still widely available, but a new standard of beauty has become universally accepted. People wanted to be as close to a "natural human state" as possible. Minimal clothing was worn, all hygiene products became unscented, with many people trying to hone in on the body's natural self-cleaning capabilities and doing away with bathing altogether. Pheromones were all the rage. The pursuit of this "natural human state" became the philosophy of everyone who was free to have philosophies.

During the waves of people dropping out of functional society, the population pretty much froze as nobody wanted to bring new life into such a depressing world. Brent and Marissa were not alone in their desire to rebuild a civilization that was more to their liking. Millions of emaciated hairy vegans started having pungent and itchy sex in the name of the "natural human state". Every disturbing publication about natural human sexuality that contradicted mainstream civilized courtship you may have read in stuffy liberal blogs and obscure sociology journals soon came true. Orgies were what a crowded cafe or night club once was. Since pleasure was no longer the goal, women took on multiple male partners in rapid succession to maximize chance of fertilization. The more squeamish among them would find each other independently and either procreate among themselves or gradually encourage one another into the orgies.

The children who were born of these activities and raised with this philosophy were taught to speak very little, but to instead use actions to show their feelings and desires. The children knew only who their mothers were, and they were never taught to crave structure, or even what the word meant. The adults would forgo speaking for months at a time. They lived in small dwellings and farmed what they needed to survive, leaving as little impact on the world as possible. Then something strange started to happen. Children would find that their guardians had disappeared, leaving them to fend for themselves or find another home-base. Finding another farm was never difficult, but as the trend continued, soon the children far outnumbered the adults. With more and more children being around and watching over the adults at all times, it was inevitable that some of them would see what was happening. In the middle of a long bout of silence and deep thought, the adult would spontaneously become part of nature. That is, they would dissolve into air and shrubbery, or vanish and a pond would appear where they were standing. Most commonly, however, they would turn into cows and other livestock. Eventually, there was nobody left to take care of these confused children. Until they started wandering and found large symmetrical buildings. These buildings were dilapidated and solemn, with no sound except the wind and their own footsteps. They entered the buildings through curious means and startled the equally confused inhabitants. In the words that their guardians taught them use with great thrift, the children spouted a deluge of stories and fears and questions. Some people died trying to pay attention to the stories. Some simply ignored the children and chose to remain dormant. Most of the world, however, took on the responsibility of properly raising these children and rebuilding civilization. Once their strength was recovered, everyone noticed that they hadn't aged much at all. They learned to divide their focus between their internal functions and contributing to society, and what was once seen as a debilitating handicap proved to be an inexhaustible asset. They taught the youth the lessons that their mistakes had taught them. With the fruits of knowledge came a craving for meat. After some time being weened onto a diet that could include meat, they needed to find a fresh new source. The children were happy to suggest a good place to find livestock. Each one knew the twisted path that delivered them to their new guardians, and they back tracked to a land with many ponds, shrubs, and cows. And the cow did not resist the axe, because it is a dumb tasty animal that humbly lives up to its natural and significant role in the world.

(1) Donny was a 398 lb pile of ingrown hairs and infected bed sores which were acquired from excessive online gaming. He maintained an erection for the 3 month duration of his career as he was ridden by 849 of the most horrified starlets, who were each required to act excited for a consecutive hour of bouncing on his erection, which was the only thing not obscured by flab. The fluid motion of his lopsided and indistinguishable torso region provided a revealing contrast to the gallery of fake titties. There was a busy vomit bucket at the foot of the bed. They were running low on women who needed the $400 when he finally met his end. Kerella Patches had recently become symptomatic; information she thought it prudent not to disclose to the director. She figured that a cluster of the most intense orgasms ever caught on film would boost her career. About ten minutes into her set, she unleashed an onslaught of euphoric expression, a battery of contortions and spasms and moans. Nobody noticed, but Donny died less than a minute after her first climactic twitch. She slid off the bed and noticed that he was still erect. He must have died just from watching her performance without actually getting off.

(2)Think just for a moment about how the world would react in the opposite situation: it is scientifically proven that all vegans are going to die of (blah) deficiency. As a vegan, you would be unable to escape the sneers and mockery of non-vegans. It wouldn't just be mockery from the uneducated and/or conservative pricks that can be easily ignored. It would be from everybody who has endured dating or being friends with someone who went through a "phase" in college, or anyone who has been confronted by a vegan zealot in front of a supermarket.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Common Ground

So The Ruler of the Universe wants every planet to elect a genre of music that most embodies its cultural and historical identity. This music will be broadcast to all space craft within 5 days travel distance in all directions from the planet, thus serving to welcome weary travelers and tourists. On the second Weekend of November, everybody will play their favorite music, and The Ruler of the Universe will tour the world and select the type of music heard most consistently.

Citizens of Earth were very excited about the chance to show off their good taste and witness the collective good taste of their civilization. There were even some reality shows where a couple dozen people lived in a big house and had to vote one another out based on their taste in music. Every show would erupt into bickering about vague generalizations about culture and human behavior, and every single debate would end with nothing settled and nothing learned, with people agreeing that everybody has a right to express their opinion.

With news of the musical election, the Subterranean Storage Dwellers recently started integrating themselves into society; or at least the parts that didn't bother them. The Subterranean Storage Dwellers are a society of mostly white men who decided that they aren't very fond of social interaction... or people. Since they couldn't crawl back into their mothers' wombs with all the the ammunition they were carrying, they decided to live in the closest thing they could devise: an underground 7' x 7' concrete enclosure with pink walls. "Somebody" (and nobody knows who) feeds them buckets of leftovers from the nearest Ponderosa Steakhouse buffet three times per day. It absolutely has to be Ponderosa. Jim Baker of Sheridan, WY was once caught accepting leftovers from the Golden Corral Buffet. The overlords of the society of Subterranean Storage Dwellers held a press conference announcing to the world that Jim Sheridan was not a true Subterranean Lard Creature but a pale obese misanthrope in a pink concrete box. The rest of the world couldn't tell the difference so they ignored it entirely as they have always done. The Subterranean Storage Dwellers held chapter meetings across the land to decide what music they will select. It was a short meeting because they have all done the exact same things at the exact same time as one another and have had the exact same experiences, so there was only one song even suggested.

So the big day came and the world was was full of rhythm and melody. The Ruler of the of the Universe was scanning the world with all the state-of-the-art sound data collection devices and hearing all completely different types of music:

Jazz. Country. Baroque. Rockabilly. Ska. First Generation Ska Revival. Second Gen. Ska Revival. Third Gen Ska Revival. Fourth Gen Ska Revival. Dubstep. New Wave. Hardcore. Grindcore. Metalcore. Nerdcore. Spazcore. Zydeco. Zouk. Rap. Romanian Techno. Romanian Trance. Transylvanian Romantic Techno. Edgar Winter Group. Pat Metheny Group. Blue Man Group. 9 Nordic Men Pouring a Bag of Wrenches Upon an Upturned Drum Kit Group. Spanish Gypsy Music. R & B. Tenacious D. Prog Rock. Kraut Rock. Pirate Rock. Crocodile Rock. Jam. Jock Jams. Mamie Jams. Indie. Folk. Tecnho. Indie folk with a little techno thrown in for good measure. World. Goth Industrial. Spanish Art Song. French Art Song. Old Fart Song. Pan flute.

-70% of Earth's population played no music, ostensibly because they didn't know how to operate a stereo or are indifferent to music altogether.

-28 million people said "Aaawwww shiiiit, that's my jam, yo!" 27.99 million were trying to be ironic.

-7 million relationships ended over song choices.

-11 Million people thought to themselves that they would have chosen a more obscure Radiohead song.

The Ruler of the Universe couldn't make any sense of it all except that he heard one song most often: "Margaritaville". It was initially announced that Classic Rock was the official genre of Earth, but the Subterranean Storage Dwellers protested that they only voted for "Margaritaville", nothing else. The rest of the world vehemently protested in one big garbled mess of colliding voices that the Ruler of the Universe couldn't understand and, given that the rest of the universe was still to be visited, didn't have time to figure out. So throughout the universe, Earth is represented specifically by the song "Margaritaville", while other planets treat listeners to an entire genre of music with immense variety and enchanting nuance. Whenever other beings headed towards Earth carrying new technology, culture, and cures to the latest diseases, they had to endure 5 days of nonstop "Margaritaville". In the first 3 months, 307 spacecraft intended to visit Earth, every single one turned around in less than 10 hours.

Slorb Sarzlebarts has it tough. He works two jobs and commutes across the galaxy once a month. He uses a shortcut that takes him right past Earth, which meant that he now had to listed to "Margaritaville" for 5 days going towards Earth, and another 5 days once he passes it... so 10 days straight during his monthly commute, "Margaritaville". He spent a while trying to decide if he would rather avoid the shortcut and add a week to his commute or just endure the torture. Then he remembered his planet-vaporizing proton laser. He scolded himself for considering that an option. "These poor fuckers must really have it rough," he thought. "It's probably all one huge misunderstanding that they selected "Margaritaville" as their best representation. They are probably trying to contact the Ruler of the Universe right now to correct the situation." Slorb decided to approach Earth's atmosphere and listen to our non-"Margaritaville" transmissions. The first thing he picked up was an FM radio talk show where some maniac was yelling at someone who called in to their talk show, "Do you not like hearing "Margaritaville"? If not, then you must hate Earth, and I don't think you should be entitled to the same freedoms we all enjoy. If you don't like "Margaritaville", then you should just move to another planet because you are a real threat to our culture and our happiness. Everybody loves Margaritaville. Our troops fought and died for Margaritaville!" Slorb navigated to a safe distance and mercifully destroyed Earth, and the rest of the universe pretended not to notice, but they marveled as a mysterious remote cloud of debris spiraled brilliantly into the sun like salt spilled from a shaker.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Age of Information

Loosely Inspired by "The Sphynx Without A Riddle" by Oscar Wilde.

Ray Betchner is a reasonably attractive person. He does well on standardized tests and only suffers from anxiety and depression when doing so would be charming and interesting. He is as naturally tan as he is successful, and all of his ex-girlfriends try to maintain friendships with him and he allows them to. His taste is so diverse as to include just about any movie, band, activity, and food item available to him.

The other night he inadvertently found the Facebook profile of this beautiful young lady who works at a cafe he frequents. Her name is Jaime, he was able to recognize her solely from her eyes, specifically this soulful glance she gives Ray most days when he takes his order from her and departs. While it hadn't been on his mind that much before finding her profile, now it was all he could think about. She distributes charming bits of conversation that are often the odd coloured pieces that probably form a mosaic of her personality, so reading her interests will give him an edge over other guys (if used properly). He is past the age of knowing better than to try to pick up waitresses, bartenders, hairdressers...
anybody who works for tips. He is also way too young to be desperate enough to forget that fact, but he feels this is an extenuating circumstance since he can create a special encounter with this person based on his knowledge about her.

Finding her profile was a high level of fulfillment to him. She is as exotic as a white girl can look; humbly curvaceous with evenly fair skin, teal eyes that come to immeasureable points. You could probably pick her bare skull out of a line-up after just a few careful glances at her face. Ray never looked that close though, her face and those hips seemed to be the only possible companions of carelessness and indulgence. Her facebook profile confirmed this, but it also added an intriguing depth, a personality that must be full of rampaging philosophy and excitingly distorted and impossible idealism. Alternative medicine, athiesm, anarchy, lofty ambitions, and quotes far outside the scope of her community college drop-out status that she seems completely proud of. All the while she was so composed and careful, so sweet and quaint. He wanted to fuck her. He saw her as a silently neglected towering bonfire and he wanted to throw some of himself into it to see the reaction, he wanted to be a tourist in her frivolity.

He arrives earlier than usual for his morning dosage, to allow room for conversation. He is carrying plenty of unnecessary objects so that in order to find his wallet, he needs to put one of them down on the counter. The first book listed in her profile is "The Truth About Flagrant Uselessness" by Hartley Mangrove, which he tenderly drops onto the counter with an almost gratifying slap, just the right volume to attract her attention. To add extra character, he uses a coffee stir as a book marker, it sticks out a good three inches. Two ace conversation starters staring her down. Her mind must be blown. She looks right at the book and looks into his money as though it were time and says, "Well you're here early!" He doesn't know exactly what to say or where to steer the conversation from there... so he simply reacts. "Wow, I feel flattered that you recognize what time I usually come here." She smiles towards her left boob which is pointing roundly towards the tip jar. "Well, I usually time my first cigarette break right after the rush of people that you usually come in with." Ray is grateful for something that isn't totally pre-recorded. "So you're saying that I drive you to smoke? I better not get sued when you get lung cancer!" Morbid, yes... but so is that book she likes. She laughs and hands him his drink and bids him to have a good day with that glance that he can't get enough of as a line starts to form to his right.

Definitely not a victory, but maybe a seed was planted? He wanted to draw her true colours out by example. he was hinting at a dark side that he kept hidden, hoping that she would reciprocate and confide in him.

This time he goes there for lunch. Like most coffee houses, the non-pastry fare is small portions of pompous deli items on stale "artisan" bread with sauce placated to believe that it is more than mustard with mayonaise. Jaime offered a surpised pleasantry as he waked in, and since like most pleasantries it required an equally sincere response, he cringed as he explained that he always wanted to go there for lunch since the menu items looked so interesting. He is trying to find some way to inject random normal statements with recreational dissonance, just to get onto her personal side. He orders and takes a seat just within "conversation possible" distance and just outside of "why is he sitting right by me without having something specific to talk about" distance from her. When his food arrives, he takes a few bites and 7 seconds after completing mastication asks her about any local shows, hoping she would mention a band from her profile in the mix. After several bands he hadn't seen, he jumps on one and gives an engineered explanation of why he likes them. "I love the Filthy Scott Farkus Sheets. They got me through a bad breakup years ago. They remind me to change the little annoying crap in my life." "I know what you mean", she says, "They are very hopeful and yet always sould like they are on the verge of chaos. I have to be in the mood for them though." Ray's feet were curled under themselves as he asked if she was going to the show. She continues looking at the floor and then at the register and says she possibly would see him there. He starts pushing the conversation towards phone numbers, but she rips off a sheet of paper with her Facebook on it before he can get that far. He immediately notices that the last name doesn't match the one he found! He pays and exits with an anchorman smile and, leaning against the brick wall in the alley goes online. It was an entirely different person whose profile he saw. He looked at he real profile... she has no alter ego aside from that of a hard working, unpretentious girl working through grad school. Knowing this and seeing her mysterious beauty makes him want her even more. She is exactly what he would actually want to be with. She is stable and in control of her life, open minded, and physically turns him on in obvious ways and oblique ways he will never forget or fully understand.

The he remembers, what about the other Jaime? How did he confuse the two? How could two people have that stare? He finds Internet Jaime's page and stares at those eyes. They are slightly different, but they do have something in common with Cafe Jaime. Internet Jaime isn't giving an emotive, soulful stare. She is fronting a meaningful stare into a camera, trying to broadcast a temporary amiable look, trying to hide a feeling of disconnect or annoyance while she moves on. So was Cafe Jaime, every time someone paid and left. Sadly he knows he could have maybe gotten along well with her, but there is now way he can retract the needy, angstly, ego-troubled and conflicted image of himself he flashed her with. Ray will not go to the Filthy Scott Farkus Sheets show and he will not visit the cafe anymore.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Board of Generalizations & Stereotypes

The following is a conversation from a call center. I should note that it was vaguely inspired by this article http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/07/the-end-of-men/8135/. Anyhow...

Hello, Board of Generalizations & Stereotypes: Division of Alterations, Updates, & Adjustments, what can we do to help you think less today?

(in a really obviously put-on falsetto) Hi, I represent The Interests of Women.

(Skeptical tone) O-ok... Umm, can I have your account number?

Sure thing, (rustling through papers) let me find it (away from the receiver in a husky man voice) Keep your mouth shut, bitch. (back to falsetto)Yes, it's... 1718FEM.

Oh, Ok. What can we do for you?

Yes, we would like to dispel Article 7240-Blue TS7: the belief that men are poor communicators who make ego-driven decisions because of their evolved hunter-gatherer instincts instead of being open to finding better solutions, which makes them a liability to have in leadership roles and management. I think that they should be given another chance to prove themselves.

And what is the reason for this change?

Uhh, because we're women and we have feelings. WOOO feelings!

Also, what's the deal with the colours in the Stereotype ID #'s?

Well using colours and familiar objects is just more intuitive... we're phasing out numbers altogether, actually.

I'd also like to have Item GD345 Red Cherry Grove re-evaluated: The one about men's competitive instincts eclipsing their better judgment and that is one of the reasons they are out of touch with their feelings.

Umm, ok, I can hear a gagged voice in the background. Can you please her go?

Dude! Come on, can't you just do us a solid? You're right there, nobody would notice!

Wait... So you broke in and tied and bound The Interest of Women with masking tape and stuffed her in a closet so you can dispel the stereotype that you are competitive and unfeeling.

That reminds me, I'd also like to dispel the widespread belief that men never notice irony.

DAMMIT! This is why I am stuck at this crappy call center job! Because people like you have ruined my reputation. They won't promote me because they assume that I'll use any advanced position to solicit oral sex from interns or that I'm just sitting at my desk thinking about my next hunting trip. I've been doing this for 5 YEARS! 5 YEARS! I should be the one making the stereotypes that prevent large demographics from advancing their careers!

Supervisor gets on the call:

Sorry to interrupt, gentlemen... but this unproductive "comiserating" will have to take place at another time. Maybe at a sports bar?

No, you know what? I'm glad you were listening to this because I've been meaning to bring this up.

Oh, so you're losing your temper and deciding to confront us about something? AKA, Stereotype 559 Yellow Fruitful Meadow. How typical.

See, now you're trying to make me get more frustrated so I am unable to organize my thoughts and my confrontation comes off as an unstable rant with no credibility that I'll have to apologize for later on. But I'm not supposed to know about Women's Stereotype 46C Turquoise Herb Garden, am I?

Very impressive ... that you found that. We'll have to consider you for a promotion.

Don't matronize me. I've been waiting for this moment. 6 years ago, in the summer of 2013, I lost my faith in your system. I am on a nondescript business trip and my father was walking through Bonburry Park... maybe you were there, the Board of Generalizations & Stereotypes was having a recruitment convention there. He shouldn't have been walking in such heat, but I guess that is him being a typical stubborn male... He had a stroke near the main pavilion, surrounded by Board members. Nobody noticed him right away, and all of you started trying to build consensus about the best plan of action. At first you debated whether someone should drive him to the nearby hospital, since ambulance rides are expensive if you don't have insurance. Of course he couldn't get a word in edgewise as he loses feeling in his extremities. He gives up as his speech becomes impeded and and the Board members at this point are debating quality of life issues, since the amount of brain that has been lost is now substantial enough that he will be wheelchair bound and most likely won't be able to speak again. He died that day, and I had to find a local nondescript business job to take care of my mother. This job was the only one I could find.

We are sorry for your loss because Article 74C5 Mauve Gentle Breeze, women are understanding of people who have suffered great loss.

I found another interesting article: Men's Stereotype # JK22: Men don't learn from things the first time.

Yeah, what about it? Can you disagree?

Well there's subsection G 11: "Men will leave empty Coldplay cd cases around to make it seem like they are sensitive even after doing so failed to work on your friends." And I thought, Wait a minute, that very specific for a stereotype. Where did you get consensus on that one? I did some research, and I discovered that all of these Stereotypes and Generalizations are based off of one guy in Wisconsin. This whole thing has been an elaborate manipulation to create the stereotype that women like to build consensus so that you can create your own stereotypes! You only insist on a consensus on things that you don't immediately benefit from! NOW! Using the passcode I swiped Tiffany's desk, I am going to enter the Generalization that women create generalizations and stereotypes using manipulative tactics!"



Hello? Where am I? Where did everybody go?

"Hi, this is God. By generalizing and stereotyping about generalities and stereotypes, you have rendered all coherent existence meaningless. Everybody now exists independently on separate levels of generalization, where you will all remain until... you learn what makes you unable to be generalized."


Shenvar's primary objective was to make sure nobody finds out he is a robot. Primary meaning that all data obtained and all other objectives, while still important, are always at least one importance unit below keeping his identity secret. In fact, all data obtained and other achievements are strictly incidental to continuously completing his primary objective. Nobody really suspected that he was a robot or would have any reason to, but that was all the more cause for worry, all the more room for suspicion to gain momentum and ram into him.

Crossing through an indistinct park in a small metropolis on a particularly hot day, he studies how often people drink of their water bottles and for how long. He pays attention to everybody in equal divisions of time, with that figure changing each time a new person takes out a water bottle, causing him to make calculated glances at the other water drinkers. He takes a 45 minute sample and purchases an average sized water bottle. He is equipped with such fine modern programming that rather than ask for a 23.375 OZ bottle, he simply picks up the closest size he could find in a popular brand. He pays with two one-dollar bills even though he had exact change easily accessible in his pocket, save for picking through a few extraneous coins. He opens the water before leaving the store and starts his sip intervals. He crosses the park using the third most efficient path and checks out some girls, but tries not to get caught, but lets himself get caught and pulls his lips into his teeth as he looks away sheepishly in the exact 180 degree opposite direction. Perfection achieved. In his crisp shirt and tie, it would only be natural that he has a job... but where? It is approaching mid-morning, so there can only be a few reasons for why he is not in an office, ie that he may be on a coffee break or on his way to an appointment. He must always consider what the most unfavorable and judgmental mind would assess. He has recognized 6 people who have crossed his path more than once today. What if they noticed him... what could they be potentially thinking? He can't continue walking around without direction. On the other hand, if he gets a job he will be under supervision and surveillance. That won't do either, there is a risk he will be discovered that way. While he is confident in his evasive tactics and the flawlessness of his design, he sees no reason to risk the primary objective failure. He chooses a middle ground, which is to apply for jobs and interview for them, then if he is offered a job, he simply declines it, stating (if asked) that he was offered another position elsewhere. He produces a competent resume and starts dropping it off at different offices around the city. He makes this part of a daily routine, with carefully considered meals and scheduled appearances for the "regulars". He keeps a list of "regulars" who pass him every weekday, and he makes it his business to be sure to see them and give just the right amount of social recognition, whether it is a tight-lipped ambiguous passing smile or a short conversation in line for pastry. He keeps up with current events specifically for these brief recurring exchanges.

After a few months of water bottles, pastry, short conversations, and job interviews, he has intrigued certain potential employers. A few interested parties follow up weeks after he declined their initial job offer; they ask of him what company he was working for and what his position was, ostensibly so they could make a counter-offer. He had created a fictitious company for just this situation, for which he was a territory account manager. A few of the recruiters did some research and found out that the company did not exist. As more and more of them discovered this, it was inevitable that a few of them would talk about the "strange man" with the "fake company" who "turned down a decent position". A few of them even noticed him on the streets, but there was no confrontation. Months went by, then one day he ran into one of them at a cafe. He would rather have ignored her, but that would seem suspicious. A few pleasantries into the conversation, she let out that "the position you were inquiring about is no longer available" with no segue whatsoever. She said that because she was nervous that this strange person would bring up the subject and more than anything else she wanted to prevent that. Shenvar connected the dots and knew it was time to make drastic changes before further suspicion is aroused. His first move was to instantly verify his non-robot status with the woman at the cafe, who could potentially put the pieces together. He achieves this by talking about himself in ways that she couldn't possibly be interested in or relate to, featuring a languorous narrative of how somebody once paid a great complimented to his DVD collection, and then he sealed the deal by saying that he feels like he can tell her anything and that "this was fun"; then he asked if she "wanted to go out sometime?" The fact that she said yes was completely unexpected, but it clearly indicated that she no longer considered him a potential robot.

He then did a comprehensive image overhaul, deciding to leave the corporate world behind to become an artist who sells his work on the street. To this end he procured three stained folding tables and started rapidly creating slightly flawed, potentially meaningful art. At first he took trips to museums and galleries for a creative starting point and he would imitate the art on display. Once he recognized a few patterns, he imitated the artist's inspirations as well, creating images of simple beauty as well as some subversive and controversial images that were only subversive and controversial because of social hypocrisy. His table was set in a different spot every day, but it was always somewhere near a certain area just outside of the bad part of town where all the other artists had shops and tables and kiosks. Imitating their habits was very easy because they all had different habits. The only rule is that whatever your habits are, have a detailed explanation for them. For example, he drank coffee from the same pushcart every day exclusively because the damaged rear left wheel reminds him of a Radio Flyer wagon he had as a child. As soon as the operator got around to fixing the wheel, he went to another pushcart and broke one of the wheels. People would stop and ask him about his work and he would say wise yet cryptic or awkwardly phrased things, things with an implied sensitivity to life and collective wisdom that no robot would waste their time on. As his work became more popular, he drew from a larger pool of inspiration. He also raised the price the way any human would. After a few months of changing coffee vendors, making up childhood memories, summarizing deep philosophical debates and social issues with unexpected sentences that describe his paintings of unexpected objects doing unexpected things, and raising prices, Shenvar had generated quite a bit of hype. Unwanted hype. Questions were being asked, and someone was bound to ask the right ones to blow his cover. So he does the most human thing he can think of.

He stages a few highly visible panic attacks, then loses his mind from all the pressure and ends up living on the streets. This seems to be the best decision he ever made as far as his primary objective. He still has plenty of money stored in various places, so he keeps reasonably clean. He goes to bars and tells a different set of stories every time (often to the same people) of how the world has failed him. Since he is no longer accountable for his behavior, he can be as inconsistent and weird as he wants. He tells elaborate stories about surviving wars that happened decades or even centuries before he existed, or being cheated on and deceived by celebrities that obviously had nothing to do with him, or being used by debutantes from completely fabricated families who made their wealth in really absurd trades. As with his other endeavors, Shenvar's success lead to attention, but as a homeless person this wasn't much of a liability.

Then one afternoon something very unlikely happened: a few people recognized him from his previous occupations. Pretty soon a small crowd was asking him questions about who he truly was, why such an employable and educated business person is living on the streets, or why he gave up art when he had such passion and talent... there was a certain malice in their tones, a few strong implications that he is wasting his talents. People were ganging up on him with questions, some of them were telling him off, calling him a lazy fraud of a panhandler. His alibis are colliding and his true identity is on the verge of exposure by process elimination. He goes through a list of his options, and decides to unleash the most human action in his programming, a last-ditch self-destruct button he kept in a glass enclosure. Something that would irrefutably prove to this crowd that Shenvar is a human being, not a robot. His back against a wall, with militaristic efficiency, he unzips his pants and starts calmly masturbating. He starts out slow, then he starts scanning the crowd for "inspiration". He stares down every attractive woman he can make eye contact with. He flaunts his repulsive humanity to everyone, and they are certainly repulsed.

Before Shenvar can pay his fine and leave the municipal building, they want to ask him a few questions. He is seated in the interrogation room and two officers enter, trying to affect an air of confidence. They start out pretending like they haven't read his paperwork yet and would do that as they questioned him, and they want him to know that his future and freedom are really at the hands of their interpretation of these pages and his cooperation. "Mr. Shenvar Springs, you are a mysterious figure I must say." This is not what Shenvar wants to hear. "You had your name changed 2 years ago, and since then you haven't held a job for more than a few months... why is this?" Guided by popular self-help books and magazine articles he gives the healthiest human response he could think of, that he simply likes to reinvent himself. "Well more power to you and all that, but... we did a little background check, made some phone calls... wanna tell us how your job search went last year?" Shenvar said it was fruitless, none of the positions offered to him were good enough (adding a little conceit and indignation for misdirection). "Right... so you became an artist... how did that go?" Shenvar explained his breakdown with as many feeble excuses and as much blame reassignment as a typical human would. The other officer speaks, with careful wording that betrays no sarcasm or personal bias. "Mr. Shenvar, you show some of the standard signs of any of the many regulars we pick up. However even a cursory investigation into your recent past would indicate that you can be hiding something. While your appearance and behavior match the profile, you are not an addict and you are far from hopeless." The other officer lets his emotions get the best of him, "Maybe you think we should stay out of your head, Shenvar. Maybe you think this is none of our business and we are just another 'waste of your precious time'. But we don't like people disturbing the public, Mr. Springs. Especially in such vile and completely unprovoked ways." The more articulate officer takes over in a rehearsed manner, "We want to cross examine you, and probably conduct some psychological tests before we consider releasing you." As soon as the officer told Shenver he was suspected of hiding something, he started processing at full capacity, he was using all available resources to find the a way to continue his mission. He had to convince them that he was just a business man who lost touch with reality... an artist who glowed too brightly and burnt out... a homeless person who is not a menace but merely a quirky nuisance... he gathers his data, and knows there is only one thing that no robot on a mission would ever do. He gazes blankly over both officers' shoulders, aligns his eyebrows and says, "I am Shenvar, an android from the future gathering data for a cause that I have not been programmed to be aware of." The officers look at each other, and the less articulate one says, "Umm, you are definitely not-" but the other one stops him and asks, "So what have you observed so far?" Shenvar is relieved, they think they are just playing along. He makes a few nonsense observations, like "You rely on positive feedback instead of tangible rewards" and "Many of you spend over 3 hours per day listening to music when absorbing every note and sound in one simultaneous impulse would be more efficient". The more impulsive officer says, "Well, be that as it may, we still need to-" "That won't be necessary", the other officer interrupts. "You are free to go, Mr. Springs. There is a shelter on 12th and Bixby, just three blocks east. Tell Karla I sent you, she'll make sure you're taken care of. Please stay there until you can gather yourself. And don't end up in this room again."