Category Archives: Old Blog

Patriotism and Whatnot

I was up late on the night of the Fourth.  Illicit fireworks continued to crackle around the neighborhood like small-arms fire.  Perhaps some of it actually was small-arms fire.  There were definitely a few times when what I heard sounded more like a gunshot than an M-80.  I’ve lived in the city for more than twenty years now.  As a seasoned Mission dweller, I like to believe I tell the difference between the two.  Then again, I like to believe a lot of things.

My cat stayed under the bed.  I imagined her wearing a Civil Defense helmet. or whatever the English equivalent in the tube stations was while the Germans rained death down on London.  I’m certain she had no idea what holiday it was, didn’t care, and just wanted the noise to go away.
I didn’t mind the noise.  Whether fireworks or gunfire, it sounded far enough away that I felt like I was listening to someone else’s war, someone else’s problem.  I did have one thing in common with my cat though.  I didn’t swell with pride over the fact that it was Independence Day.
Earlier in the day, I did try to make the holiday resonate on a personal level.  As I sat in a cafe sipping my coffee, I thought of the long hours Thomas Jefferson must have put in drafting the Declaration of Independence.  To ease his drudgery, I imagined that he had Sally Hemings under his desk while he worked and I began to write a story about it called “The Spurt of 76.”  What stopped me was when I took out my iPhone and looked up Sally Hemings on Wikipedia.  It said she was born ca. 1773, making her about three years old at the time.  There are some topics that are just too fucked up, even for me.
What kept awake till one, a mattress and box spring above my shell-shocked kitty, was that I was reading a very good book.  It had reached the point where exciting things were happening and there was no way I was going to put it down until I was finished now matter how long it took.
In my case, that meant taking twice the normal amount of time you’d expect someone to read the last 100 pages of a novel and multiplying it by two.  I’m a slow reader.  I fancy myself a writer so I take time to make mental notes of how the author is telling the story, assessing what works and what doesn’t.  It’s a good way to laugh at the mistakes of bad writers and pick up pointers from the good ones.  You see, stealing a story line is considered bad form, but stealing technique is essential.
This works very well until you run across a writer who is so good, the exercise becomes depressing.  In my case, I was reading Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart and the exercise was depressing as hell.  He’s a lot better than I am, but I’m OK with that.  He’s better and 10 years younger, but I can deal with that as well.    He’s a professional and I am not.  What really bothered me was that he is good enough so no matter how hard I try, I will never be as good as he is.
It almost makes me feel glad I’ve never tried very hard at anything.

Mister Creative

When I started blogging again, I thought the words would come easily.  Well, perhaps “easily” is an overstatement.  I’ve always agonized over what I’m writing, or to be more precise, what I’m going to write.

I put a lot of time and effort into mentally preparing myself for the task of putting words on paper (or into keyboard if the longhand imagery isn’t working for you).  When I finally feel I’m ready, I’m usually so frustrated by the whole process I just want to get it over with.  What ends up on my blog is either a worthwhile read or it isn’t.
I convince myself that the work can stand on its own merits.  It doesn’t need any of that window that editing and proofreading provide.
In short, the road to mediocrity is full of potholes.  That doesn’t have to matter though.  When I hit my stride, I’m able to make it down that bumpy road in a matter of hours or days rather than weeks or months.  It doesn’t matter that I’m seemingly incapable of writing about anything except drinking binges, homicide, or poop, at least not to me.
I think what I need to do is get over myself.  Those who write amusing gibberish aren’t allowed to behave like they’re tortured artists.  Besides, it’s not like anybody reads my stuff anyway.

A Modern Miracle Play in One Act

ARMAGEDDON 2.0
by
Heath N. Savage
 
Dramatis Personae
 
Harold Camping
Ms. Flockhart
The setting is Harold Camping’s office at Family Radio in
Oakland, CA.  There is a line graph on a wooden stand in
the corner of the room.  It showed a  freefall in listeners
since May 21.   On the desk, there is an empty tray where
donation vouchers are supposed to go.  Next to it is another
tray for unpaid bills, this one overflowing.  Next to the trays
is a desk calendar showing a date of  October 20, 2011.
The “On Air” light over the office door has been turned off.
The clock on the wall says it is 11:55 p.m.
Harold Camping, President of Family Radio, is seated at
his desk.  Standing next to him is  Ms. Flockhart, a cleaner in
Harold Camping’s employ.  She is holding a feather duster
but will provide no exposition during the play.
HAROLD CAMPING
Knock knock.
MS. FLOCKHART
Who’s there?
HAROLD CAMPING
Gumby.
MS. FLOCKHART
Gumby who?
HAROLD CAMPING
Gumby the End Times.
Curtain

In the Heart of the Pig Latin Beast

I try to make it over to the East Bay at least once a week.  It keeps me from feeling like my life is just one day rolling into the next, an unintended consequence of an easy existence.

My home and job are both in the city and my commute is 30 minutes or less, door to door.  I like my job pretty well and food and drink are available in convenient abundance once I get off work.  My financial woes all appear to be behind me.  I have everything I need except variety.
That’s where Oakland comes in.  If you’ve never visited the place and only know it from headlines, you probably picture the town as nonstop free-fire zone with streets littered with empty shell casings and puddles of fresh human blood.  You’ll be happy to know that’s only partly true.  I’ve met many fine residents of Oakland and as of this writing none of them have ever pointed a gun at me.
This suits me just fine.  About all the adventure I can stand these days is a little excursion from point A to point B that never strays outside my comfort zone.
Fortunately, this is easily done.  I work just a short walk from the Transbay Terminal, or rather the temporary one.  While the permanent one is being rebuilt, the buses have been rerouted to the corner of “Mad As Hell” and “Not Going To Take It Anymore” (Howard & Beale streets).  BART is often the best way to get to Oakland, but there are those times when your destination isn’t all that close to a station.  There are also those times when you don’t want to spend 25 minutes packed like sardines with a bunch of financial-services weenies on their way home to Walnut Creek.
Just to make things even simpler, I have a Clipper Card.  For those of you who either don’t live in the Bay Area or simply haven’t been paying attention, the Clipper Card is a pre-paid electronically readable doohickey that allows you to get around on a number of local public-transit systems without having to fumble for single bills or loose change.  You can also set things up so it attaches itself like a lamprey to your bank account or credit card and sucks out money every time it gets low on funds.
Around rush hour, the bus I’m waiting for comes every 15-20 minutes.  When it pulls up, I climb aboard, swipe my card against the reader, and take my seat.  There don’t seem to be enough other passengers for any of them to sit next to me, but I’m not taking any chances.  I know the old trick of making people stay away from me by sitting up straight, eyes forward, with just the tip of my tongue protruding from my lips.  The move is effective because it plays upon people’s irrational gears and subtle enough that they can’t complain to anyone without sounding like a fool.
The doors close and the bus makes one of those hydraulic farting noises buses make for reasons I’ve never understood.  Pulling out of the terminal, there are a few zigs and zags on surface streets before we curve up an onramp and onto a crowded Bay Bridge headed east.
The bus rattles along the lower level of the bridge surrounded by steel beams and the roar of traffic around us.  After the tunnel through Yerba Buena Island, I stare out the window at the new eastern span under construction.  We arrive in Oakland and after passing the huge cranes that look like Star Wars imperial walkers we get on the 580 and start heading southeast.
I get off at the first stop, the corner of MacArthur and Grand.  The northern tip of Lake Merritt is in front of me.  Downtown is more than a mile away to the right.  I go left and cross under the freeway toward the Heart and Dagger Saloon.
I first set foot in that bar about a year ago, back when I had a girlfriend in Oakland.  The place opens at noon, which made it a good place to get a drink after going with her to the farmers market.  I used to do a lot more drinking in the afternoon back then.
The H&D is still pretty quiet when I walk in the door.  It’s not dead, but not bustling either.  I recognize the bartender, though I don’t know her name and have never said a word to her unless I’ve wanted a drink.  I order a 24 oz. PBR for $4, which is a great deal if you mind don’t low-grade domestic swill that has somehow become the preferred beverage of hipsters.  Neither of these things bothers me though.  I’m too busy getting in touch with my inner dirtbag to care.
I pay for my beer and head out back to the patio.  There are a bunch of picnic tables, a bit like Zeitgeist in SF, but smaller in both size and attitude.  Actually, the same can be said when comparing the two cities.  We San Franciscans tend to be less friendly and more self absorbed than Oaklanders.  It’s nice to experience a lower amount of ambient attitude than I do over on my side of the bay.
If it were my nature, I’d probably strike up a conversation with someone and have a pleasant time of it.  Instead, I choose to interact with no one.  I may eavesdrop a bit, but only until a conversation bores me.  I then contemplate going for some food and end up drinking my dinner instead.  I lament how little I’ve accomplished in life while I spend another evening doing absolutely nothing.
Mostly I wait.  I have the patience to stick around until enough time has passed so I can convince myself that the whole trip was worth it.  That usually requires downing a second PBR tall boy.  Then it’s back on a bus to downtown SF and a BART ride home to the Mission from there, no room in my head for regrets because all of my thoughts are about how desperately I need to pee.

Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On

I used to tell myself I had lived through a major earthquake. The Loma Prieta quake certainly was the largest local temblor in recent memory.  It paled in comparison to the big one in 1906, but 1906 was a long time ago.

On October 17, 1989, I was about halfway through my noon-to-eleven shift as computer operator in the corporate office of Bay Area retail chain.  I was just sitting down in front of one of the terminals in the machine room when the ground began to shake.  My coworker let out an “Oh my God,” and then went to go stand under a doorway.  I was feeling pretty macho that day, at least enough so I felt no need to take cover just because of a minor tremor.  And it was a minor tremor, at least it felt that way at first, but after a few seconds, it got a lot more lively.

As the room rocked back and forth, I hurried over to the doorway next to my coworker.  The tiles in the false floor bounced around in their settings and tape racks began to fall over.  Shortly before the shaking stopped, the power cut out.  We stood there in close to total darkness for about 30 seconds until the emergency lights kicked in and the emergency siren began to wail.

There wasn’t much of the building that required the emergency lights.  When we walked down the short hallway and turned the corner, we saw the cubicles in the one-story office drenched in light from the afternoon sun.  Outside in the parking lot, many of the other employees stood around in the parking lot wondering what to do next while some went to their cars to listen for any news on the radio.

There were reports of damage and deaths.  Houses in SF’s Marina district were on fire.  A section of the Bay Bridge gave way like a trap door.  In Oakland, part of the 880 freeways collapsed onto its lower level, smooshing an untold number of commuters.

While the news trickled in, one person pointed at a crack in the sidewalk and swore that it wasn’t there that morning.  A number of us gathered around and pondered the newness of the fissure in the concrete.  I don’t think any of us attributed any great significance to the crack, but compared to the guesswork and hearsay that was coming in from the radio, it was at least something tangible.

In the days that followed, aftershocks came through with decreasing frequency, electrical power was restored, and the final death toll stayed in double digits.  For most, the aftermath was more of an inconvenience than anything else.  The Bay Bridge was closed for a month, which necessitated a using the San Mateo Bridge as a detour.  That was about it.  You weren’t likely to be homeless and starving unless you were that way to begin with.

After I was promoted to junior programmer/analyst some months later, I got to be good friends with another programmer there.  In the summer of 1999, he vacationed in Japan with his then girlfriend and upon his return told me he planned on moving there.  By November he packed his bags and left, only returning for a few short visits in the past decade.

When I woke up on the morning of March 11, I did my bleary-eyed ritual of grabbing my iPhone from the bedside table and checking the latest on Facebook.  My friends were commenting about Japan.  Due to an earthquake in the Pacific, a tsunami had hit the northwestern coast of Honshu.  Hundreds were reported dead.  Compared to what happened to Indonesia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka in 2004, it seemed like small potatoes at the time.

My thoughts turned to Tidal Wave, a really bad Japanese disaster movie from the 70’s.  The American release, taking a cue from the presence of Raymond Burr in Godzilla, had scenes with Lorne Greene spliced in to give it gaijin star power. I decided to email my friend an assessment of the disaster in his adopted home in the form of a link to Roger Ebert’s scathing review of the film.’
Of course, jokes of this nature are a risky business.  Though my friend lives in Tokyo, his girlfriend lives way up north in Morioka.  I checked to make sure that city was situated safely inland before sending the email.  I also posted the link with to my Facebook page.
I quickly regretted doing both.  After I showered, I deleted the link from my Facebook page.  I figure it was up there all of fifteen minutes.  The email could not be unsent, but I hope my friend realized that I sort of mean well even if tact is not my strong suit.  Those who know me have learned that I am no stranger to humor in bad taste.  After the earthquake in Haiti, for example, I mused about how an entrepreneur might build a sex-tourism resort atop the rubble called “Port au Bints.”
What possesses me to go for cheap laughs from tragedies on this scale.  Well, I have been called an asshole more than once, but I think that’s only part of the explanation.  When something occurs that is too large for the brain to take in all at once, there is a very human tendency to trivialize the event into something more maneagable.  There is an equally human tendency to get cute about it so we can share whatever joy can be gotten from a tragedy with those who are equally bewildered.  The trick is to avoid telling these jokes to those who have lost loved ones or have otherwise directly affected.  They don’t see incomprehensible magnitude.  They see a dead friend or family member.
Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t believe any topics are off limits.  Some of the most hilarious material out there is incredibly transgressive at its core.  The only requirement is that joke needs to be genuinely funny.  Mine wasn’t, or at least not funny enough.  Instead, I posted some quip about how Pat Roberston and Fred Phelps were going to attribute the disaster to God’s wrath, thereby pointing out that there are bigger assholes than myself.
And let’s be honest. They are bigger assholes.  A lot of us have a hard time looking at a Japanese city in ruins without thinking of one or more residents of Monster Island paying a visit, but we neither take that seriously nor expect anyone else to.  After our flight of fancy about tiny model tanks in a losing battle against Godzilla and Rodan, we then go give some money to the Red Cross because that’s the right thing to do.  Those who try impose some contrived reason, or worse, justification of why this tragedy happened, are another matter entirely.
It came as no surprise when Glenn Beck, a man so loathsome he is beginning to make his fellow reactionary nutters cringe, opined that God decided to off thousands of Japanese die because folks aren’t taking the Ten Commandments seriously enough.  I’m puzzled why he’d target a people who are overwhelmingly non Judeo-Christian in their beliefs. I’m an atheist so I can’t profess to be an expert on imaginary divine beings, but it seems to me that even the most abusive father chooses to beat his own kids rather than those who live down the street.
Unfortunately, he’s not alone. There are those, like some idiot named Cappie Pondexter who plays in the WNBA, who thinks God is getting back at Japan for Pearl Harbor.  Gee, don’t you think he’s a little late? There is no denying that the Japanese Empire did some very bad things in that war.  However, pretty much everyone who had a hand in that is dead by now and Japan has become a nation that has left its militarist past behind and has enjoyed over 65 years without war..  To harbor that sort of grudge against modern-day Japan, one has to be a very unforgiving God, or a whale.
If there is any lesson here, it will be from watching and learning how Japan recovers from this disaster.  And they will recover.  They came back from far worse in 1945, and they’ll do it regardless of the fire-and-brimstone whack jobs like Beck or Pondexter or wisecracking jerk offs like me.

Things New and Old

When I bought my computer, I decided to splurge and buy a new monitor as well.  This could prove to be an unnecessary and foolish luxury. I did have five fully functional CRT monitors on the floor of my office.  I am also on the fast track to unemployment.  My current contract is over in a month.  I may secure another job between now and then.  Then again, I may not.

In my defense, there are reasons to get rid of your old CRT’s.  They don’t have anywhere near the resolution of the new flat screens.  I remember their time being up as far back as 2004. I had a short gig doing desktop upgrades at the offices of the California State Bar in downtown San Francisco.  Part of this was replacing CRT monitors with new flat screens.  The old equipment was taken to a floor that was still under construction.  When I saw row after row of CRT’s with their screens all facing me, my brain should have thought, “Gee, I have a bunch of these at home.  Maybe I should get rid of some of them.”

Instead, I thought that they kind of looked like space helmets and addressed them thusly: “Greetings troopers.  I am Commander Zork.  Today you will lay waste to the agrarian society on the planet below so that I may rebuild their world with gladiator arenas, fast-food restaurants, and whorehouses.”

As a result, my own collections of old monitors spent the next six and a half years gathering dust on my floor.

These monitors were not only dinosaurs.  They were also bulky, weighed a ton, and were full of toxins.  You can’t just throw the things away.  The innards of these monitors can find their way into the ground water, resulting in a skyrocketing cancer rate and birth defects that would make a sideshow barker blush.

Fortunately, there are other ways disposing of these things.  You can pay an electronics-recycling service to take them off your hands.  Goodwill still accepts them as donations as well.  At least I think they do.  I dumped four of my five CRT’s (all that would fit in my friend’s car) in the donation bin just inside the front door.  No one seemed to mind, though I’m not sure anyone noticed me.  I didn’t stick around to find out.  It’s amazing what kinds of things are allowable for those who are willing to make strategic assumptions and haul ass.’

So four down, one to go, and that will go the next time my friend volunteers to make a Goodwill run (note to self: remember to peel the “ASS PHLEGM” sticker off the front of it first).  If there’s room, I’ll also get rid of a couple of old computers, minus their hard drives.  I am too lazy to format the things and I doubt they want my porn.

What Are You Doing, Dave?

I’m not sure where I’m going with this.  By this, I mean life in general.  I’ve embarked on some projects recently that have yielded some positive results,  but nothing that has made me say, “Aha!” and certainly nothing that would make me want to listen to A-ha.  Am I making any sense here and does it really matter? After, no less a genius than Charlie Sheen has already shown us that coherency is so 2010.

Ah yes, 2010.  I was writing quite a bit back then.  I convinced myself of my literary pretensions while knocking out stories about zombies, murder, upskirt voyeurism, and retards.  Yes, retards.  It wasn’t the kind of feel-good story where somebody with a learning disability tried extra hard  and achieved a measure of greatness, or at least managed to sew a wallet in arts-and-crafts class in retard camp for his case worker Bill.  No, this is a tale where I shamelessly make fun of people with learning disabilities.  Actually, I dedicated 6000 words to the subject.  In my defense, the story was pretty funny provided you can get past the fact that the author is an insensitive asshole.

There are other stories in the queue, unwritten except for a few words jotted down in my spiral notebook.  In none of them am I so crass as to make fun of those dealt a bad hand at birth.  Instead, I stick to my time-tested themes: alcoholism, revenge fantasies, and loss of bowel control.  I do plan on writing these stories.  I really do.  Some of them at least.  At some point.  Maybe.

I have been busy, sort of.  I bought this neato linux box.  Actually, it was a Windows 7 box before I wiped the stink of Redmond from its hard disk and installed a real operating system.  I named it ralphus, in honor of Sardu’s plucky and diminuitive assistant in Bloodsucking Freaks.  I was so proud.

Granted, getting a linux machine up and running these days is no great accomplishment.  This isn’t like the old days when you could only expect the OS to work with the monitor, the keyboard, and if you were lucky, the mouse.  Sound cards were at best iffy and most peripherals were out of the quesiton. Not so with the latest Ubuntu linux. The webcam, external storage, and a lot other fun stuff that plugged into a USB port

The scanner didn’t work with it, but that was mostly because it was five years old.  Most software for linux, and especially stuff like device drivers, is developed by volunteers in the open-source community.  These people are awesome, no doubt about that.  However, their time is limited so you can’t expect them to make everything work seamlessly with yesterday’s hardware.  I dropped about 80 bucks on a new scanner and gave the old one to a friend.

That paved the way for at least one of my projects.  A friend of mine (coincidentally the same one who now owns my old scanner) came into possession of a number of old Car & Drivermagazines from the 60s and 70s with articles written by my father.  I’ve been scanning his work in the magazines and checking out various OCR software with the eventual goal of setting up some sort of online tribute to him.  I’m not a gearhead personally but I do like my dad’s writing and think it merits being shared.  This may run afoul some copyright law, but screw the bastards.  I’m not doing this for profit and I am his son.  I think I’m entitled to be proud of my old man.

Don’t expect to see his work here on Poison Spur. I have a little more respect than that.  Its eventual home will be on platypus.org.

That site needs a serious overhaul.  It has not been updated since 2001 and can be accurately described as a cobwebbed lump of shit.  Fortunately I have a project for that as well.  I’ve installed drupal on ralphus and have been playing around with it during those evenings I spend away from the bar.  Once I know what I’m doing and let trial and error eventually make up for my lack of design sense, platypus dot org will be a presentable site with Dad’s tribute page and other nifty features.

My dance card is getting mighty full. So where does that leave Poison Spur?  It will continue, I promise you that.  New entries may appear sporadically, but I know in my heart of hearts that I am a showoff.  I can’t quit forever.  If people stopped telling me I’m cute and clever, I’d probably dry up and blow away.

Chariots of the Gauze

When I opened my desk drawer at work yesterday, I noticed that someone had put a box of tampons there.  There were 16 of the 18 remaining.  Who put them there, and why?

Since there were a couple of tampons missing, I began with the assumption that whoever put them there planted them as a stash for personal use.  If this was the case, I could safely eliminate all male coworkers from my suspect list.  The same logic could be used to eliminate all the more venerable female ones as well, especially the few whose blue-rinse cooters haven’t shed a drop of blood since Hinckley shot Reagan.

Unfortunately, this did not even come close to eliminating the possibilities to a select few.  My workplace is pretty large, relatively young, and women make up at least half of it.  Even if it did not run afoul of both the sexual-harassment policy and common courtesy, it simply would not be feasible for me to confront and accuse each potential tampon-box planter individually.

As if the question of who wasn’t perplexing enough, figuring out why seemed absolutely mind boggling.  We all have desk drawers.  Why would a woman choose to store her feminine-hygiene products in my cube rather than her own?  Naturally, I smelled a conspiracy.

One only has to look through my extensive secret file that is no doubt being amassed in the basement of some quasi-legal shadow-government agency somewhere.  “It is hard to imagine how someone who is so chronically inappropriate with the basest of sensibilities and immaturity run riot has neither been incarcerated or beaten to death by decent people.  It is our recommendation that Jennings be tempted to perform some loathsome act for which he shall be apprehended and severely punished.”

In light of this, the motivation behind this becomes pretty clear.  The person or persons responsible placed the tampons in my cube in the hope that I would be caught on video taking one one of them out of its wrapper and putting it in the office coffee pot.  You know what?  I would have done it in a heartbeat too if I had not been onto their little game.

hese sorts of dirty tricks by the Global Managers are nothing new.  One need only look at the tragic case of Phineas Gage.  Gage was a railroad employee in the mid-nineteenth century.  By all accounts, he was both a conscientious worker and a virtuous person.  All accounts, that is, until his “accident.”  In 1848 while working as a crew foreman in Vermont, Gage was in the vicinity of some dynamite that “just happened to go off” and launch a three and a half foot tamping iron up through his jaw and out the top of his head.

It is my guess that he learned something he shouldn’t have and because he was a good American, said he would go public.  Among the railroad robber barons, only locomotives were allowed to do any whistle blowing.

The injury changed Phineas Gage forever.  The once solid citizen had been transformed into a violent and lecherous alcoholic.  Even if he made good on his threat to tell all, no one would trust a man who was known for the horrible sucking sounds his cranium made while he downed one rye whiskey after another and tried to ram his hand up a barmaid’s skirt.

I was certain that the merciless success of silencing Phineas Gage has emboldened many thuggish operatives over the years and that I was the intended target of this brutal legacy.  I have to admit that I was skeptical at first.  I was willing to accept as mere coincidence the fact that both of us being in the employ of large profit-motivated organizations, or even that “Gage” and “Dave” have the same number of letters.  What I could not dismiss was the undeniable fact that TAMPING IRON THROUGH THE BRAIN is an anagram of INHERIT THROUGH BRING A TAMPON.

I know that I’m going to have to watch my back to avoid a similar fate.

Checking In, Making Excuses, Taking up Space

This is another placeholder post.  I am still working out how frequently I can update the blog without burning out or resorting to posting filler like you’rre reading now.  I’m writing a little every day now but I can’t always get something worth a damn finished inside of 24 hours.

Sometimes that’s because my writing for that day is complete crap.  On my latest project, I don’t think that’s the case.  At least I hope so.  It’s a longer piece, not as long as “Hold Me Closer Tiny Cancer,” but too lengthy to whip out in a single day.

That’s about it for now.  I don’t have much more to say today.  It would be a shame to finish before culturally enriching you in some small way.  I know.  How about a haiku about tea?  Ito En Teas’ Tea had a haiku contest and I really wanted to enter, but the contest was already over when I went to their website.  Oh well, their loss is your gain.  Here is my haiku:

 

I pissed in your tea

Hey you stupid fucking bitch

Drink my goddamn piss

I’ll be back Friday.  I think.  Fuck, I don’t know.

Clean Underwear and Not Much Else

I did laundry this weekend, two whole loads.  It was time.  Actually, it was well past time.  For the last three weeks I’ve been avoiding the chore, figuring no one would catch on if I never wore the same shirt to work two days in a row.  I could conceivably continue in this manner indefinitely if it weren’t for the smell.  Even with a cushy office job, the pits can get a little ripe after a while.

So I took care of that task.  Along with sleep, feeding myself, and basic personal hygiene, the bare essentials were checked off my to-do list.  It was time to get creative.

I have a couple of good ideas for stories (along with countless bad ones) but I felt this weird inertia that kept me from diving into either of them.  I wasn’t too worried.  It was only Saturday afternoon and my muse would either return to me or wouldn’t.

I spent a couple of hours on Stickam chatting with a friend of mine in Europe.  He’s usually a good conversationalist and it was my hope that some witty banter would provide a colonic for my writer’s block

There were two factors that kept this from working out as well as I liked.  The first was the time-zone difference.  My friend was nine hours ahead so mid afternoon for me was past midnight for him.  The second factor was the lump of hashish he decided to smoke.  In a few short moments, an engaging and intelligent human being was transformed into a spaced-out dullard with sleepy-creepy Baldwin eyes.  I was on my own.

So there I was, craving an artistic outlet but not knowing quite what to write.  If I could draw, paint, or play an instrument, I might have created something beautiful that I could be proud of.  Instead I had to make do with whatever was within reach, which turned out to be a roll of toilet paper, a bottle of Tapatio hot sauce, and a plastic baby head.

The baby head, purchased in Japan in 2003, is actually a piggy bank with the coin slot in the location of the fontanel.  Now before any of you jump to conclusions, let me just say that the slot is too narrow and the plastic too hard to use the head as a sex toy. Besides, I’m not just some sicko.  I have the soul of an artist.  That’s why I used the hot sauce and toilet paper to make it look like the baby had its eyes gushed out and then was hastily bandaged in a futile attempt to keep the blood from gushing down its face.

So that was Saturday.  Sunday was, of anything, even less productive.  I finished reading Roald Dahl’s My Uncle Oswald, which I enjoyed for the most part but was a little let down by the ending.  I’ve read books with worse endings (most of Harry Crews’ work falls under this category), but Dahl’s short stories have never lacked for satisfying and twisted conclusions.

I eventually found my way down to the Argus, as I am prone to do.  I waited until after the Giant’s game was over because I don’t do well around sports fans who are drunk and stupid enough to think that their home-team hard on had any bearing on the outcome of the game.  Instead I showed up while the 49ers were playing.  They suck this year so the crowd was not nearly so rowdy.

I took out my notebook and scribbled down the opening to one of the stories.  It wasn’t much but it was something I could work with.  Every little bit helps.

I was still feeling distracted so I started surfing the web on my iPhone.  I learned that the flood of red sludge in Hungary had actually killed people, at least seven of them.  The phrase “Hungarian Ghoulish” popped into my head and I was proud of myself coming up with that.  I wanted to turn that into something, a poem perhaps.  I never got that far in this endeavor, probably because I could not decide between this opening verse:

Red Sludge

Red Death

I can barely hold my breath

and this one:

Red Death

Red Sludge

I can barely hold my fudge

 

There are some things in life best left unaccomplished.