Tuesday, July 31, 2001

Having trouble with your shower drain at home? Here's a fun game you can play until you actually get it together to go to the store and buy some Drano. A little something I call Drain-Clog Das Boot. If you find that the water level in your shower is up to your knees when you finally switch off the flow, you're ready for some Drain-Clog Das Boot.

First, take your shower as you normally would. We wouldn't want you sullying this respectable game with your stink, now would we? Switch off the shower, taking note of the pleasing splooshing sounds you make in the half-full tub. If any items such as loofahs, body gel bottles or smaller pets have fallen off the shelf and are now floating in the tub, so much the better. Life on those U-Boats was no picnic you know!

Next grab the oilskin raincoat or plastic slicker which you should have placed on the toilet seat and put it on. Now, turn the shower back on, kneel down and grip both sides of the tub. Rock back and forth as the spray from the shower hits you in the face and shout out "Schneller! Schneller!" For advanced play, try some of these more difficult phrases: "We are going to ram right through Gibraltar!" or "Flood torpedo tubes one through four!". You can play the soundtrack really loud for atmosphere, or if you happen to know a few bassoon players, just have them pile into the bathroom with you. The more the merrier is the motto for Drain-Clog Das Boot. If you make enough noise with the soundtrack or the bassoons, you may even get the upstairs neighbors to pound on the ceiling: the poor man's depth charges!

All that remains is to make sure you make a statement about the ultimate futility of war at the game's end. You can't go wrong with a meaningful look into the camera as you survey your fallen brethren. If no brethren are handy, try using playmobil cowboys and indians, or even make your own brethren out of pipe cleaners.

Monday, July 30, 2001

If you know me at all, which of course you probably don't, you know there's one thing that drives me. That spark that lights the way when I feel lost. Yes, that's right. I'm talking about Clamato. I used to think Clamato was just a myth...something mother clams would use to scare the baby clams when they were acting up and wouldn't go to bed: "there's a biiiig factory and there's a machine with all the naughty baby clams on a conveyor belt...and the machine is sqeeeeeezing squeeeeezing squeeezing them...." Little did I know of the rich history of Clamato. Though I was a bit disappointed that there are but two questions in the Clamato FAQs, one of which is "can I ask a question about Clamato?".

I urge you all to visit the Clamato Swami with something approaching regularity. Dwell in the light of its bivalve wisdom. Perhaps, while you're there, you may feel like a little game of "turn the tomatoes into clams". Hey, I'm not saying you will. But it is a distinct possibility. While you're enjoying the game, cast your eyes over to the right hand side of the page for a truly disturbing .gif of a clam drinking Clamato. That is just wrong on so many levels I won't even deign to discuss it.

To be honest, there are a couple of things about the Clamato website that trouble me. For one, the implication that the public wants less clam and not more in their tomato-clam beverages, as evidenced by their shocking slogan: "99.9% Clam Free". That's kind of like making chocolate chip cookies and then advertising that they are 99.9% chocolate free! Wake up, Clamato! The public wants more clam! And why would you make a beverage that included bivalve juice, unless you thought it was a good idea in the first place. And, further, if you are somewhat embarrassed at the relatively high clam content in your juice, don't put the word "Clam" in the brand name. Just an idea.

Here is the first kafkaesque-Clamato communique:

Dear Clamato Sirs and Madams

I am somewhat troubled by your repetition of the the phrase "99.9% Clam Free" on this website. Why must the public be deprived of our beloved clam juice? I would be willing to accept a tomato-clam beverage that included up to 1% clam juice. I might even push the clam envelope all the way up to 5%! What really irks me about this sentiment is the implicit idea that less clam is good. If this is indeed Mott's motto, why put clam in it at all? Do you just hate clams?

Another question: are your clams treated humanely? Are they kept in tiny pens with no room to move their foot-mouth? Are the clams squeezed by hand, like a wet washcloth, to harvest their clam goodness? I don't want to have to alert PETA to you guys, but I won't hesitate to do so unless you send me free Clamato, and lots of it.

Also, do you have 99.9% Clam Free t-shirts? I think you are missing out on a huge marketing opportunity here. I'm actually kind of serious about that. I bet Urban Outfitters could sell shirts like that by the truckload.

yours sincerely


Stay tuned for updates on the Clamato situation, including a possible exposé on the menace that is The Clamato Vampire.

It should tell you a little something about my life that the toughest decision I have made so far today was whether to make this entry about Clamato or the Jurgen Prochnow Fan Club.

Friday, July 27, 2001

The World of Haruki Murakami

Please. I beg you. Read Haruki Murakami. There. I said it. And it felt good.

I look at that website from time to time, even though it hasn't been updated since roughly before the age of man.

In other news I had to go PetSmart to get cat litter for Hannibal J Cat, Esq.. I know. Here it is the second day of my weblog, and I'm already talking about my cat. For those of you who haven't left already, there is hope: this little story is not about my cat, but in fact about a fat woman wearing only a T-Shirt. Interested now? I thought so.

So I had to get cat litter, a task that always gives me the tiniest sense of disquiet, because every time I go to PetSmart to get it, I end up waiting in line for at least five minutes. No matter what time of day I go. Usually when I get there, there is not a soul in the store besides me. The registers sit lonely and abandoned, customer-free. Once in a while a tumbleweed will drift by. The strains of a harmonica can be heard wailing their bleak dirge far off in the distance. I stride confidently to the litter section. The litter section is an interesting phenomenon too: I can never for the life of me remember where it is. I have a sneaking suspicion that the PetSmart people move it every couple of weeks, perhaps deliberately to coincide with my visits. Anyway, this time it was on the far left wall. And I'm pretty sure they have more kinds of cat litter than is strictly necessary.

I go straight for the Johnny Cat, pausing only briefly to stare at a little grey rat running in his wheel. When I stare at the rats and hamsters I get that looking-at-someone-else's-children goofy look on my face. But I don't want any more rodents. I had them when I was a kid and folks, it just ain't worth it. I mean, if you're lucky they live two years. It's like getting a mayfly. Nothing but heartache in hamsterville, friends and neighbors.

Anyway I get Hannibal J Cat, Esq. the Johnny Cat because I see a sort of zen simplicity in it. Your cat wants to go. He's got the Johnny Cat. He doesn't need anything complex. No scenting or cedar chips. Until they get cat litter nanomachines, I'm sticking with it.

Back to the story. I get my 20 lb bag of Johnny Cat, and head for the wasteland of the checkout counter. Of course, though, as soon as I get get within 20 feet of the register, customers appear seemingly spontaneously, perhaps from a series of interconnected tunnels they have built under the entire mini-mall for this express purpose. I don't know. They swoop into line in front of me. There is a woman attempting some sort of bonding with the girl at the register. She is asking about some sort of PetSmart get-together or other, which is always a mistake. The people at PetSmart don't really care. They always have to ask someone. And chances are that person won't know either. But they'll be more than happy to have you wait at the register while they go through everyone in the store to ask them about the "July Poodle Shave-A-Thon" or the "Annual Hermit Crab Races". And here is the key to it:*you can't get mad at them because you are at a pet store*.

Pet stores are cute and cuddly. You can bring your kitty or doggy in there and let them pee on everything in sight. You could probably even bring in your incontinent hermit crab and let him evacuate his bowels all over the place. The management welcomes that sort of thing. They follow you around with paper towels just in case you feel like letting go while you're there. Go ahead! Everyone there is a happy pet owner. Because, let's face it, if you weren't a happy pet owner, and maybe harbored some sort of grudge against your pet, you wouldn't be making a special trip to PetSmart to get food that's twice as expensive as the grocery store stuff.

So while we are waiting around for the news to descend from on high, we are powerless to speed the proceedings along. And the 20 lb. bag of Johnny Cat has begun to feel a little heavier than before. I think about switching arms, but decide against it. The possibility of a bag drop is small but could be a scene of somewhat epic proportions. Picture it, as I switch the bag from right to left arm, the contents inside shift, subtly but inexorably, the weight is unbalanced and down it goes, exploding everywhere like some sort of oil change clean up at the Shell station gone horribly awry. And, god forbid, the bag could land on one of the cute pets that have tagged along with their owner to the shop. I wouldn't want a crushed hermit crab on my conscience. So I left the bag in my right arm. The woman at the register is bringing things to a conclusion, and now there is but one transaction between me and being able to put down the 20 lb. bag.

A fortyish woman in front of me has a cat bed in a bag, and has brought along her son, a child whose head is roughly at counter level. He is eyeing the little dog bowl full of dog biscuits on the counter. With every fiber of my being I want this kid to eat one. I can tell he is gauging whether or not his mom would notice, or if she could get to his mouth in time to get the biscuit out before he started crunching it. I silently urge him on as the throbbing in my arm starts to grow stronger. I really want to put this bag down. I'm willing to accept the possiblity that it might crush a hermit crab, or perhaps even the would-be biscuit eater kid's head.

The throng of PetSmart employees who were gathered outside smoking when I entered the store all return en masse and take up positions behind the counter. Now being your Joe Average cat litter buying kind of guy, I assume that one of them will offer to take the next customer, *me*, thus relieving me of my burden. But no. They aren't open. They are existing in a serene state of non-openness. They stand at their registers and gaze somewhere far beyond this little mortal world of ours. Then I hear the words "We have a return".

The woman with the biscuit-eyeing son is going to attempt to return the cat bed. Her cat can't have used it that much. God knows if my cat used it there would be grey fur and piles of dried cat vomit all over it. The other employees leap immediately into action, encircling the girl at the register to offer advice and encouragement like some sort of bizarre Cat Bed Return Intervention. The kid siezes this opportunity, with his mother thus distracted, to grab a biscuit and stuff it into his mouth. I gaze at him with a newfound respect and silently salute him for his guerilla pet treat tactics. But before I can watch any more of this blessed biscuit-chomping, my eyes are distracted by a blur of white motion.

An undulating mass of woman is coming down the tropical fish aisle. And she is wearing a long white T-shirt. There are no pants involved in this equation. Just a long white T-shirt and some seriously over extended and clearly visible undergarments. To preserve whatever modicum of decency may still be left in this story, I will end the description there, comforted that you will share my lifelong nightmares of that emotionally scarring sight.

That was about it for the excitement portion of my lunch hour. The woman got a brand spanking new cat bed and her son got the benefit of the multivitamin goodness of animal by-products, possibly but not necessarily including horse bones. I'm sure his hair will be extra shiny tomorrow. And when I finally did get to the register and put my 20 lb bag on the counter, the girl was not only courteous, but actually apologetic about the wait. So go to PetSmart. That's the message I really want to impart to you. It's cute and cuddly and you can bring your incontinent hermit crab.

Only one thing in the above story was not true.

To answer your inevitable question: Yes, this is the kind of crap you can expect to read on a near-daily basis in My Life as an American Gladiator. Except that I'm going out of town tomorrow, so you'll just have to wait a couple of days for the next exciting installment.

Thursday, July 26, 2001

So I decided to start keeping one of these here Blog things. "Why?" I hear you cry. "Why add one more voice to this screaming hootenanny." Hmm. I'll have to think about that one. Maybe I'll do some more of this later, including some biographical info.

I always thought that if I had myself a weblog, I'd love to start it off by quoting from an aged country western singer. Then, I thought to myself "You know what would really be ideal? If that aged country western singer was in some way referring to stuff falling from space."

So here goes:

"I've also been playing with my Tibetan singing bowl, which has its own wonderful world of sound. It's made of seven different kinds of metals–gold, silver, brass, bronze and metals from meteorites that land intact on the mountain peaks of the Himalayas, where there's less atmosphere than anywhere else on earth to burn them up before impact. The bowl produces the most amazing variety of sustained, unearthly tones. It comes with an instrument, wrapped in chamois leather, resembling the kind of pestle you use to crush corn or rock salt in a mortar. You rub that around the rim– how fast and hard you rub determines the pitch and intensity of the tone the bowl produces–and then you put your face down into the bowl and listen. It feels like hearing a pipe organ in a cathedral. It's a wonderful tool for taking me to another, more peaceful place." – Johnny Cash (From Cash: The Autobiography)

So maybe that's what this weblog thing will be like: stuff falling from the sky and producing eerie sounds. Come with me on this wondrous journey of learning, questing reader, and you will be rewarded with tons of mostly inconsequential stuff that I just happened to think was worth hearing about. Oh, and lots of stuff about the evils of Clamato. Oh yes, my friend. Oh, yes.


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