A Poem Inspired by the Art of Thomas Kinkade

Frottage in the Cottage

No mere glass could dare suffice
For toasts of Season’s Cheer
‘Tis jug and box of Gallo wine
Before I draw you near

My red-stained mouth makes me look like
Some sated woodland beast
Though belly filled and senses dulled
This wolf has yet to feast

For though the hearth with amber glow
Warms all within the room
Frigidity inside your heart
Makes it feel like a tomb

You treat my touch, my rubs, my gropes
Like some atrocity
Not even my most heartfelt slap
Can bring you back to me

I know you wish to spurn my love
Go running for the door
It’s only fair I let you know
Of all that lies in store

‘Tis many miles through the snow
Until the nearest town
Beware of Jack Frost’s famished heart
His love will hunt you down

His chill will numb and sap your strength
I know the way he’s sinned
So shall you, he’ll part your thighs
With scythe-like wintry wind

And when you’re found by passers by
I have no doubt they’ll say
“What a tortured, selfish face
She’s better off this way”

‘Tis the Season

Nothing says “November” like turning on the TV and watching The History Channel. Peter Weller fans, Hitler completists, and aficionados of UFO claptrap will have to get their programming fix with a lower dosage this month. It is November, and November means Kennedy.

JFK, of course, usually gets star billing. He was after all the only one to get elected president, was the only war hero, and had the hottest wife. So what exactly was his legacy?

  • 1961: Gives the go ahead on the Bay of Pigs fiasco, ruining any chance of a normalized relationship with Cuba for decades to come.
  • 1962: Decides to resolve the Cuban Missile Crisis by engaging the Soviets in a game of chicken, a strategy that served him so well aboard PT109. He got lucky this time. So did the rest of the planet.
  • 1963: Travels to Berlin and announces to the world that he is a jelly donut (well, he didn’t really but I’m not one to let the truth get in the way of a good story.)

In other words, mixed results. To be fair though, no presidency is perfect and his was better than most. His position on civil rights was admirable, he possessed a sense of humor not often seen in politicians, and he certainly had a way with the ladies. Still, I think if he had it to do all over again, there would have been some changes along the way. The decision to make that trip to Dallas immediately comes to mind.

Jack’s brother Bobby seems to be getting some play this year as well, with a movie about him coming out this Thursday. I still haven’t decided whether I’m going to go see it though. On the one hand, it is only fitting that a film about the brother of the legendary John F. Kennedy should be written and directed by the brother of the legendary Charlie Sheen. On the other hand, Jack Black does not play Ted. This is an egregious omission and I fear what others may follow.

Perhaps it’s all for the best. Jack Black is born to play Ted Kennedy and it would be unjust to limit him to a supporting role. Also, Ted’s defining moment didn’t happen until a year after Bobby’s death. I think the perfect vehicle (pardon the pun) for Black’s performance will be “I’ll Drive: the Chappaquiddick Story.”

Ted Kennedy, if you recall, claimed to have tried to dive down and save Mary Jo Kopechne before sobering up enough to go get help. Well, it doesn’t take an accomplished director like Emilio Estevez to see what a great scene it would be to have Jack Black doing multiple slo-mo belly flops off the bridge while some catchy tune from the musical “Camelot” played in the background.

That’s what I call movie magic.

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Backspaces

We all have crosses to bear. Mine are typos. It seems as though they show up in everything I write, compromising my perceived intelligence like an extra chromosome. In this blog, I at least have the luxury of going back and fixing my mistakes after the fact. The problem is that I’m on a mailing list as well. There my errors are as uncorrectable as stupidities committed in real life.Since the reason I write is for ego gratification, this pains me. I don’t like it when things pain me. I want everything to be peachy. Failing that, I’d like the pain (and if possible, the typos) to be explained away by some traumatic experience from my past. It’s not my fault, you see. Mom used to beat me with a wire hanger.There’s the rub. Mom never did any such thing. In fact, I don’t think I’ve had any traumatic experiences in my entire life. When other people bring up theirs, I usually try to change the subject to one where I can show how clever I am.

No matter. Since I don’t have any personal traumas, I’ll just have to invent one.

About 25 years ago, I worked as a counselor at one of those summer camps Paul Newman set up for children with cancer. I didn’t see Newman the whole time I was there. He had done his photo op before my arrival and if he’s like most people, he wanted what was best for the kids but didn’t want to have to look at them for too long. I can’t say I blame him. That had to be the most depressing two and a half months of my life.

There was a silver lining however in the form of one of the campers. Her name was Tina. Tina had developed early, as they say. Not a hair on her head but let me tell you, that girl was rackalicious. I was in love.

The only problem was that I couldn’t be sure if she had matured emotionally on a par with how she had physically. Putting the moves on her and freaking her out would be a bad deal for all parties involved. Fortunately, I had a plan to test the waters. What this entailed was leaving her a little note anonymously expressing some carnal interest. If she ran screaming to one of the other counselors, I’d deny everything if asked and let the whole matter slide. If, on the other hand, she spent the whole next day with a sly smirk on her face, then all systems were go.

My handwriting was pretty recognizable at the time (A’s with circles around them, i’s dotted with skulls) so I had to sneak into the admin office and use the typewriter when no one was looking. So that night during Vespers, I slipped away to compose the note. Time was short. I quickly typed up the message and put it under her pillow before she returned to her bunkhouse.

I had anticipated that she might take the note to a counselor. What I had not anticipated was what happened next.

I was having lunch in the cafeteria the following day, surrounded by scores of children and their malignancies but thinking only of Tina. The camp director came in. Her hand went up. The mouths went shut.

“One of you,” she said. “Has been using the office typewriter to send vulgar notes to a fellow camper. First of all, the office is off limits. Second, we don’t like profanity here. At least I think it was profanity. Do you want to know what the note said?”

There was a cheer of assent from camper and counselor alike.

“‘Let’s fick.’ Yes, with an ‘i.’ Whoever wrote this really needs to learn how to spell.”

The entire cafeteria, including Tina, erupted with laughter. I made it a point to laugh along with them but like a clown in some stupid French movie, I was crying inside.

I really appreciate all of you who took the time to read this. You’ve helped me grow, you know, as a person.

Gray Doubt

The specter of old age is beginning to show up on my mental radar, which is strange for me. I’ve always been less ant than grasshopper (or perhaps locust) in the way I’ve led my life and my net worth shows it. So far, I’ve avoided having to worry about how to finance my retirement years by indulging in unhealthy vices. My logic was that people tend not to care about what Medicare will or won’t cover if they’ve been dead for twenty years.

As luck would have it, I’m descended from hardy peasant stock and at 44, am far healthier than I deserve to be. Unless I do something proactive like a swan dive off the Golden Gate bridge, I run a better than average chance of achieving geezerdom.

My pal Betty, being a financial journalist and therefore more adept at seeing the writing on the wall, has her bases covered. Her retirement plan will ensure that she can enjoy her dotage with all the pleasures the future will bring, including jet-powered walkers, organ replacements on demand (thanks, China!), virtual-reality pool boys, and the latest in deodorant technology to stave off that old-people smell.

And let’s not forget the medical bills. Living longer does have its drawbacks: broken hips, incontinence, cancer of the everything. Betty told me that no more than a few percent will be financially able to handle the expense on their own.

So what’s going to happen to the rest of us in my age bracket thirty years down the road? Or more to the point, what’s going to happen to me? God knows. At least I don’t have to worry about a revival of the old Eskimo tradition of setting wrinkly folk adrift on ice floes. Global warming will have melted them all by then.

Nowhere Near Godliness

I finally broke down and spent my hard-earned money to have someone do what I am apparently incapable of doing myself: cleaning my apartment. I love how my place looks. Betty loves how my place looks. My cat is less enthusiastic. She hasn’t seen the place in its current condition for quite some time and it must seem barren to her.

I’m not quite crazy enough to ask my cat’s permission to hire a cleaner but it would be nice if she had some opportunity to speak her mind after the fact. Unfortunately, my cat (like most) is incapable of uttering anything more intelligible than a plaintive meow, which could mean anything from “I have fleas” to “I have cancer.”

Because of this, I have decided to channel Dr. Seuss on her behalf.

I do not like this nice clean flat
I do not like ’cause I’m a cat

I like the stains from vomit spewed
I like the fridge with year-old food
I like the dishes in the sink
I like that lovely bathroom stink
I like the bread crust hard as rock
I like that crumpled spooged-in sock
I like the drain that’s clogged with hair
I like the trash strewn everywhere

But I do not like this nice clean flat
I do not like ’cause I’m a cat

Dreaming Is Free

Often though, you get what you pay for. Last night, I dreamt about and old punk-rock singer friend, whom I’ll call “Ray.” I haven’t seen him in over fifteen years and I hope he’s doing well. Other than his affinity for binge drinking, drug abuse, and domestic violence, he was a nice enough sort.

In the dream, he wasn’t so nice. He shot a good friend of mine in the head while in a chemically induced psychosis. The victim wasn’t anyone in particular, more a composite of people I’ve known over the years. Anyway, Dream Dave got a little peeved at Dream Ray over this and called 911 to rat him out to the cops.

By the time the police arrived, he had sobered up and all he said to me was, “Hi Dave, it’s been a while. You’ve put on weight.”

He apparently saved the last bullet for my ego.

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

First off, I believe apologies are in order. I haven’t blogged in nearly two months and it’s been even longer since I’ve written a review. Friends have griped at me about this via email. They were snide. They were sarcastic. They were right.

I suppose I could defend my sloth by stating that my time has been filled with changing jobs, taking the first steps toward buying a home, and exploring new depths of depravity with Betty. For the most part, that would be pretty accurate. But like a serial killer’s history of child abuse, such data points explain a lot but excuse nothing.

To make matters worse, there is a new time sink that has me in its grip, World of Warcraft. I’ve always been a junkie for escapist fantasy, going back to my teenage years when I used to play D&D with kindred spirits (“kindred spirits” in this case means other pimple-faced youths with unwashed hair who weren’t getting any). As years passed, I have explored many escapist pursuits but Warcraft has turned out to be much cheaper and won’t show up in my urine.

Part of the game’s appeal is that you get to kill. Of course, this applies to most games. The one exception I can think of is “The Sims” but even then, I managed to turn my virtual home into a house of murder by removing the doors from a corridor and waiting for the guests trapped inside to starve to death. “Look,” I would say to my then wife. “She cries and wets herself just like a real abducted child.”

She was as little impressed with my comment as when I showed her the house’s trophy room filled with the urns of the departed, but I digress.

With Warcraft, the first step is to create a character. You get a number of menu options for the person’s appearance and if you’re creating one who is both male and human, chances are good you’ll end up with someone who resembles Ted Nugent.

This works well for getting you in the proper mindset for game play. The game starts you off in a place of great natural beauty, not unlike the Yosemite Valley. The difference is that in Warcraft, people are running around slaughtering the wildlife wholesale.

Young wolves (i.e. puppies) are the standard first targets for your fledgling sociopath. There are also Kobold Vermin who lumber around like special-needs children and only put up a feeble resistance as you cut them down and loot their bodies for one or two pieces of copper. If you don’t care about earning experience points and are a purist when it comes to defenseless prey, there are plenty of rabbits to kill. If your character is a paladin, you get to smash them with a hammer.

As the game progresses, the beasties get tougher and will attack unprovoked. I suppose that’s all for the best. For most of us, training a magnifying glass on an anthill is only fun for so long.

WWBJD

When Jean and the kids at the school tell me that I’m supposed to control my violent temper, and be passive and nonviolent like they are, I try. I really try. Though when I see this girl… of such a beautiful spirit… so degraded… and this boy… that I love… sprawled out by this big ape here… and this little girl, who is so special to us we call her “God’s little gift of sunshine”… and I think of the number of years that she’s going to have to carry in her memory… the savagery of this idiotic moment of yours… I just go BERSERK!

Billy Jack 3:16

I remember seeing a commerical on TV for Billy Jack when I was bout eight years old. Even at that early age, the ad seemed a little bizarre. In it, the voicever gushed “Billy Jack has something special. Something that has to be seen to be understood.” It was an odd choice of words to accompany scenes of a guy in a funny hat kicking rednecks in the face.

Needless to say, the movie was a big hit among the kids in my elementary school, even with the ones whose parents wouldn’t let go see it (including mine). Like most chilren, we weren’t terribly interested in the film’s message of tolerance but for half a year the instances of playground face kicking went straight through the roof.

Years later, I got to understand that “something special” when I saw Billy Jack on cable. I can’t say that it is a great movie (nor good, nor even mediocre for that matter) but it did have an unmistakable appeal. The movie is a guilty pleasure much like Road House but without any 80s stench about it. Billy Jack may not have any fancy philosophy degree like Patrick Swayze’s character but he has both Native American ancestry and a Vietnam tour of duty under his belt. These qualities apparently gave him both great wisdom and excellent face-kicking ability.

As you’ve probably figured out, the face-kicking theme is one that has resonated with me. Perhaps this is because the movie speaks to the Billy Jack within all of us and what it says is this: We all need to kick a lot of faces because hippies can’t do it for themselves.

No Bad Blood Between Us

Last week, Betty and I met at the Mission Neighborhood Health center so we could each be tested for HIV. She had been tested in March so I doubt she was all that worried. It had been a bit longer for me, 1987 if memory serves.

She had gotten there a little before me and was already getting tested by the time I got arrived. Forutnately, there wasn’t too much of a line so I only had to wait about 15 minutes before going in. The woman who greeted me and led me back to a room to test me was nice and friendly, earnest enough to make me feel comfortable that she took her job seriously but not so much as to make me want to strangle her.

She asked me a few questions about my sexual history (which I answered with a minimum of winking and giggling) and also let me know that if the test came up positive, the clinic is required to inform the CDC. She told me this just before asking me for my name in case I might want to get creative about my identity. I suppose it might have been fun have me on file as “Otto Braunschauer” or some other silliness but since I was feeling like such a solid citizen for even getting tested, I decided to stick with my own name.

A week later we showed up again to get our results, this time from a man who was deadly serious in his demeanor. I could see why. A big part of his job description is telling people things that no one wants to hear. Still, it might have been nice to get some inkling that I tested negative before leading me down the corridor into one of the examination rooms. On the other hand, he has probably had to deal with jackasses cutting and running as soon as they got the good news before he could ask the requisite last few questions.

I’m glad I don’t have his job. I’m even gladder I don’t have HIV. Neither does Betty so it’s happy times all around.