My Life as an American Gladiator
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I had a good day of nonplussing store merchants.

First, I went to Petco (you know, where the pets go? Personally, I think until the pets come up with some cash, they should stop crowding the aisles). There, I went through my usual routine en route to the Giant Bag Of Cat Litter aisle. This consists of first glancing up to see myself on the surveillance screen.

I'm not sure of the strategy behind putting the surveillance monitor right over the door. It is, of course, a good chance to preen in front of a camera, and check for unsightly blemishes, and I recommend trying to spot the camera and approaching it, nostrils flared, in an effort to pindown any unwanted nose detritus. Also, you can make goofy "I'm on the teevee!" faces or caper about the cameras view pretending you are a lovable entertainer whose career will be tragically cut short.

I mean, do they think I'm going to walk out with a schnauzer under my coat or something? Perhaps fill my pockets with those green hamster pellets? Sure, I may have done this once or twice, but I blame society.

After the surveillance antics, I made for the cat section, but on the way I had to stop and moon at the hamsters and rats for a while. Usually just long enough to give them their dark and unholy instructions. Then I hurried past the birds. Who the hell wants birds as pets? They don't even remotely like you, and spend their entire lives pissed off that they're stuck in some filthy cage, plotting their escape or at least the irreparable soiling of your upholstery.

And then I was in the cat section. At least I hoped I was in the cat section. Things move around in Petco. They have a pretty standard offering of ten dollar cat toys that your cat will never play with and two-paycheck cat condos that go a long way toward proving that cats like cardboard boxes, but the Petco people are not satisfied with that.

They like to move everything around, so I can never quite locate the cat litter without first peering down each aisle like some challenged prairie dog, frightening the shy and reclusive cat supply customers, who scatter under my puzzled gaze.

Anyway, I found my jumbo Jonny Cat bag and hauled it to the register, feeling very manly and virile as I toted my 20 pound burden. It made me feel even better that later, the Petco surveillance crew could watch me strolling through the store unaffected by the Herculean weight held firmly in my grip.

The register woman asked me the same question they always ask me in Petco: "How many cats do you have?"

At first, when they asked me this, I thought they were genuinely interested in me and my cat. I thought maybe the conversation would continue to the point where they would be asking me and my cat to appear in some Petco promotional materials. And then I thought, maybe they're trying to offload some kitties on me. They think "Here's a guy buying twenty pounds of cat litter at once...he's not going to be bothered by a few dozen more pairs of tiny unkempt feet around the house."

And then they'd pull out a duffel bag full of kitties and I'd be powerless to resist them.

But after about a hundred times of being asked the "How many cats?" question, I figured out that they were required to say that. Somewhere in the back room of Petco, there's some crazed reeducation effort underway wherein they brainwash these poor souls to ask me how many cats I have.

Tragic, really.

So, I replied "Just one."

The woman made some sort of noncommital sound, making it clear she really didn't care.

"One kind of fat, lazy old cat."

And with that, I had achieved counterperson nonplussedness.

Nonplus number two was at MicroCenter, which is a budget computer store. I go there sometimes and gaze at the new games and wonder if my karmic tally is positive enough to allow a fifty dollar outlay. This time, I was buying blank CD-Rs for various nefarious purposes. I took my item to the counter and the girl there rang me up. I paid with my Mastercard, which now requires me to make some childlike scrawl on the computer signature pad.

I should say that my signature is astoundingly variable at the best of times, on your normal paper surface. It's one of those squiggly heiroglyphs that looks like the last missive of a dying man who had a stroke halfway through. These little devices do nothing to help the quality of my signature. I swear to you, there have been times when I 've signed on the electronic pad, only to have written someone else's name entirely. Last time I think it was "Debbie Sue".

And the counterperson asked me "Do you want your name on the receipt?"

I couldn't quite figure that out. Maybe I would want to keep it for a few years. Pull it out and impress my friends. "This is from the time I bought 50 Maxell CD-Rs. You can be sure it's real because my name's on it." As they were struck dumb with awe, I might add in a low voice "Five dollar mail-in rebate*."

Maybe they were trying to get information about me? I am one of those people who will not give their info to stores. I despise the Club Card and I'm certainly not telling Radio Shack my blood type and educational history just to buy some batteries. But what could they do with my name on the receipt?

Puzzling.

So I just said "Why the heck would I want that?"

The girl was kind of stuck, and said "It's just something we're supposed to ask."

And there you have it, double-nonplussed goodness.




* Does anyone ever mail in the rebates? I can imagine the lady with all the coupons at the grocery store doing this, shaking her fist to the sky as she cackles "That's right, Maxell! You didn't think I'd do it, but I got you, you bastards!"


  posted by kafkaesque @ 11:14 PM


Thursday, July 31, 2003  

 

Oh man.

Monday's audience burst into laughter during the seduction scene, when J.Lo spreads her legs for Ben and says, "It's turkey time. Gobble-gobble."

You couldn't make stuff like that up. From the new Ben McDamonFlack and J-Lo debacle "Gigli".


  posted by kafkaesque @ 9:53 AM


Wednesday, July 30, 2003  

 

Before work today, I saw some of President Bush's press conference. The first in 5 months.

ALl I could think of was a line that Barry Crimmins had about Dan Quayle's press conferences (to paraphrase): I look at him and I see a teenager trying to get past his parents, drunk at 2 in the morning.

Also, with his halting speech pattern and distracted manner, it seemed like Bush was being fed the responses, perhaps from crafty Rumsfeld hiding in the rose bushes behind him. That would make Rumsfeld the intimidatingly large-nosed Steve Martin and Bush the dopey but cute fireman, trying to win the heart of America, who in this equation would be played by Daryl Hannah. Or maybe Rumsfeld would be Gerard Depardieu.

I'm confused.

But really, the whole ordeal is just depressing. To see this smug figurehead up there at the podium, deflecting important concerns over the blatant lies of his administration by cracking little jokes just seems disgusting.

Calgon, take me away.


  posted by kafkaesque @ 8:50 AM



 

Yes, the rumors are true. It is, in fact, My Life As An American Gladiator's 2nd Birthday today.

There will be triscuits and spray cheese in the main lobby.

It's a tradition here at MLAAAG to look back at the past year and name some of the less uninteresting posts. I don't know if you can really call it a tradition, seeing as how this is only the second time, but I'm going to make that leap of faith. I hope you're comfortable with that.

The Story of Elvis and Monkeyboy

The Big Movie Idea

I Can't Catch

Another Big Movie Idea

Jerky

Spider Messiah

Halloween 4

Toobin'

Toilet Training

Salad Horizon Theory

My Neighbor

And my favorite of the year:

Skeleton Warrior Found Dead in Malibu Home

So there you have it. Two years have come and gone, and I feel ready to impart some great wisdom to you.

I just haven't worked out what that wisdom should be yet.

Should it maybe be the thing about brillo? No. Maybe you're not ready for that yet. Or the dire warnings from the future about not making Baked Alaska?

Yes, maybe that should be it. Don't make Baked Alaska unless you're totally prepared for the metaphysical consequences.

And one more thing: Death Race 2000 is probably the greatest movie ever made.


  posted by kafkaesque @ 1:14 PM


Saturday, July 26, 2003  

 

Also, to the person who emailed me yesterday:

No. I can't tell you where to buy Sizzlean. I don't know what it was that made you think that I would be your source for ersatz bacon solutions, or that if I were a bacon substitute middleman, I would share such weighty knowledge with just anyone.

Of course, it could be that they don't make Sizzlean anymore, and for that reason I am hoarding my supply closely, like a greasy, cholesterol-concerned Cerberus.

I guess you'll never know.


  posted by kafkaesque @ 10:05 PM


Thursday, July 24, 2003  

 

It really makes you consider your career choices when the president of the company greets you breathlessly at 8 in the morning and says to you:

"Kafkaesque, can you find me some clip art of hillbillies?"


  posted by kafkaesque @ 10:02 PM



 

Also, to the gentleman from Germany who sent me the nice email today:

I am afraid I am no longer in possession of the necessary equipment to return you to your own time and/or plane of existence. I sold them for some shiny beans.

I do, however, have an old toaster-oven that has possiblities. It may not be the Dimensional Warp Generator that you referred to, but it does a real number on sourdough.


  posted by kafkaesque @ 10:26 PM


Tuesday, July 22, 2003  

 

A Death Threat to the Arby's Oven Glove

Listen to me, oven glove.

There will come a time, an unspecified time in the future, when a figure will appear out of the darkness and rain down upon you with awesome and holy vengeance.

That figure? It'll be me.

Because I hate you. I hate you perfectly and beautifully, like a poem. Except this poem is about lighting you on fire and putting you out, and then submerging you in a shallow kiddie pool for five minutes at a time before taking you out and alternately cursing at you and crying for about fifteen minutes.

The next stanza of this poem, which is about your death, is about how I would rather listen to a Joseph Conrad novel on tape, read by Snuggle the Fabric Softener Bear, than endure one more thirty second spot featuring your Tom Arnold voice-talent and buggy little eyes. Eyes that will be dealt with in ways that you cannot possibly imagine, pok--

*REST OF POST DELETED IN THE INTEREST OF TASTE*


  posted by kafkaesque @ 10:16 PM



 

I haven't checked in for a while on the madcap world of lawn goose clothing, but it does my heart good to know that patriotism is not dead amongst the cement waterfowl of the front yards of this great nation:

In support of the troops


  posted by kafkaesque @ 10:10 PM


Monday, July 21, 2003  

 

I can only stop in for a minute. My wife is after me.

She's got parsley. She's got broccoli. And yes, she's even got beets.

And she wants me to drink them.

Now, I've long been a proponent of the Juiceman, and have waxed monotonous about it here before. Apart from the really creepy oompah-loompah inventor, the Juiceman is indeed a great invention. You can juice anything in there*.

But I draw the line. Leave the celery in its solid form, I beg you. My one encounter with celery in its liquid form was the subject of song and legend and vomit, Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray Tonic. When I was a humble bagel slinger (working for my pal Julio the Suicidal Bagel Shop Manager, who was so important to my formative years), we would "haze" new employees by making them drink a bottle of the stuff and, most importantly, keep it down for a full hour.

Beets should maybe, and this is even stretching it, be pickled and buried like little purple landmines in an otherwise peaceful salad. Or borscht. Beets can go ahead and be borscht, if that's what they want to do with their little beet selves.

I can't even imagine what sort of heretofore unknown sadistic streak lay dormant in my wife these long years that she could even conceive of juicing broccoli. It's just wrong, and I might add, against God's plan.

I must close now. I smell parsnips coming for me.



* Except beloved household pets. You probably shouldn't juice them.


  posted by kafkaesque @ 8:52 PM



 

The Bonsai Potato



Containing the answer to the eternal question: "How can I maintain aesthetic balance in a multi-variety arrangement dominated by a mono-planar asymmetrical alternating branch stalk?"


  posted by kafkaesque @ 3:58 PM


Friday, July 18, 2003  

 

Thank you, Microsoft Excel, for having the default scroll setting be a bazillion miles per hour, so I get to see my little cells whizzing by, powerless to stop their screaming, hurtling rush, and somehow end up in cell RZ2705.

This is the equivalent of getting in your car to go get a pack of cigarettes from the corner store, and suddenly going Mach 3 and ending up in Zaire by accident.


  posted by kafkaesque @ 3:44 PM



 

Matrix Style Ping Pong Action!

[thanks to Chimichanga, whose birthday is tomorrow. If you know who Chimichanga is, I recommend you spend a good portion of the day realizing that you will never have pectoral muscles like his. Also, think about the Bastille for a while.]


  posted by kafkaesque @ 11:13 AM


Sunday, July 13, 2003  

 

You may have noticed that the usual juggernaut output here has slowed to a tiny trickle.

I just want to reassure you that I am giving 25-35% out there, every single damn day. As a matter of fact, last Thursday I got up to 37%, but I got tired and it slipped down to about 18% for the remainder of the day.

So on average, Thursday was about 27.5%.

Now I have to go and return a Sharper Image subwoofer.


  posted by kafkaesque @ 11:10 AM



 

I just thought you should know that the new National Geographic has all kinds of pictures of randy and/or humping animals.

I have it on my coffee table.

This is great, because whatever I'm doing at home, I always know that I could just step into the other room and nearly instantaneously be looking at a picture of a lion with its nose in another lion's genitals, or maybe some anacondas doin' it orgy style.

It helps me through my day.


  posted by kafkaesque @ 1:39 PM


Wednesday, July 09, 2003  

 



The Octodog!

Make your hot dogs into octopuses! Make other people's hot dogs into octopuses!

[warning: not intended for use in octopus --> dog applications]


  posted by kafkaesque @ 1:43 PM


Thursday, July 03, 2003  

 

Also, when we bought our house, I should have read the fine print on the Privacy Agreement from the Lender. This privacy agreement must have read, in part:

We, the evil and apathetic LOAN BEHEMOTH do hereby promise to sell the UNDERSIGNED's name, address, favorite color and shoe size to anyone and everyone under the sun, especially WINDOW DRESSING COMPANIES, because we think it's funny for you to get all that crap every single day in your mailbox. HA HA. In fact, were it possible, we would learn the arcane arts of ancient magick and craft self-willed, vengeful GOLEMS AND HOMUNCULI from the various humours contained within the body of the UNDERSIGNED just so we could sell the information to them too.


  posted by kafkaesque @ 6:36 PM


Tuesday, July 01, 2003  

 

Do not be alarmed!

The pictures of Oyster Billy, El Diablo Jazz and their pals that comfort you through these troubled times have not been lost forever, but are merely being held hostage in some elaborate hosting company coup d'etat that is totally beyond my control and would require something big like a phone call to get to the bottom of. I don't have that kind of time or attention span, so you'll just have to rough it.


  posted by kafkaesque @ 6:30 PM


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