Monday, April 26, 2004

The Wisdom of Spam

I'd just like to personally thank one Ms. Wilhemina Judi for her thoughtful email, lovingly entitled "U R STUPID DUMBASS IF YOU PAY RETAIL PRICE FOR SOFTWAREZ".

Gosh, Judi, you're right. I m stupid dumbass. It took your insightful subject line to make me see that. If only more people would truly get to know their target demographic before making the sales "pitch". Other recent emails include "Hey jerkoff gET wAReZ", "U R assHole with tEEny bro", and "Molester of livestock, buy my tasty toner cartridges!". OK, I made that last one up. You can tell because the capitalization made a modicum of sense.

But can you imagine if this surefire strategy branched out into other products? Like Best Foods (Hellmann's East of the Rockies, so I'm told) could have a bold new "Jesus Christ why aren't you buying our mayonnaise you malformed freak?!" campaign. Or "Not a soul exists that doesn't find you odious and repellent -- now drink Miller Lite, chump!"

I can only hope.

Monday, April 19, 2004

I just booked a hotel at an alarmingly cheap rate from a shady looking internet travel site. So cheap and shady I called them to make sure it was on the up and up.

It seems to be both up and up, so I can only assume my room will be HAUNTED!, like in all those terrible shows you see on the Travel Channel where charming Bed and Breakfast owners in Georgia give straight-to-camera accounts of the time that someone dressed in a Civil War uniform massaged their inner thigh in the guest bathroom. Then, they make it perfectly clear that you should under no circumstances come to their Bed and Breakfast and give them lots of your money for the privilege of maybe having your inner thigh ectomplasmically massaged or perhaps getting woken up by a clumsy apparition stumbling to the toilet at three in the morning after a heavy bout of otherworldly beer drinking.

I suspect the HAUNTED! hotel thing only lasts til they get you to the hotel. Once you're there, the hotel staff is not going to want to expend the effort of simulating HAUNTING! They're not going to get up all hours of the night and bang pans or moan and wail or stand outside the window and throw frogs at you.

Anyway, I'll let you know if I get sucked into the television set or anything.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Braking Away

I return to you from bizarre car difficulties.

I drove home at lunch a few days ago, parked in my garage, and pulled up the handbrake. S-N-N-K-K-K! It sounded like something broke! I pulled my hand away from the handle and gingerly pressed in the release button on the brake. Nothing! It wouldn't move.

For half an hour I did battle with my handbrake. I wiggled. I jiggled. I even at one point got a rubber mallet and hit the button like a redheaded stepchild. No dice.

Finally, I sucked in my courage and called AAA. A tow truck guy showed up, and I had to explain that my brake was stuck on. He gave me a look that said "We tow truck drivers live for these moments. We yearn to come to your home and do something incredibly simple, perhaps involving a twilliger rod, and make you feel foolish and lame."

He hopped in the car and wiggled. And jiggled. He cursed and talked to me about the bewilderment he felt at waking up one day and realizing he was a "tow guy". He complimented my bouganvilleas. But he could not get the brake off.

"Don't worry," he said "I'll call my mentor".*

While we waited for his mentor, he explained to me that it was not really possible to tow my car to the dealership (where they would relieve me of several paychecks) because the car was parked head-in in the garage, and to tow it out would wreck the transmission. We, of course, could not roll it out of the garage because the brakes were stuck on. He explained a complex procedure involving a flatbed tow truck and applying soap to the rear wheels. I felt it was best not to question him.

His "mentor" showed up. This was the supremo tow guy, who had taught tow guy #1 all he knew. The second guy exploded with derisive laughter and made unkind insinuations about tow guy #1 and his lack of physical prowess. I, as a thirty-two year old man who had called AAA to fix my handbrake, was also referred to as "weak". This new guy, who looked kind of like one of the old circus sideshow strongmen of yore, bald with a handlebar moustache, climbed into the car and began jiggling. He demanded use of my visegrips, which I gladly supplied. **

He gave it a go for another forty minutes, the sweat pouring off him and into my upholstery. He detached things. He bent and deformed things...

But then! The brake was released!
I drove to the car dealership, my handbrake limply hanging. my center panel sadly askew, forever rent asunder.

When I got there, of course, the smarmy service representative lifted his eyebrows in a "I am clearly dealing with an idiot" sort of way when I told him about the problem.

Anyway, long story long, it cost me many, many clams, my car was in the shop for two days and I had to rent the worst car in the world: a bright red Chevy Cavalier, which I believe still holds the title of Official Car of Humility.

At least it said Enterprise on the license plate frame.

* I immediately thought of the old Shazam live action kids' show which for some reason I think of when I hear the word "mentor". Didn't that guy have a "mentor" who used to drive around in an RV or something? He was kind of like the superhero support vehicle, I guess. Maybe he carried spare gold boots in case Shazam lost a heel. Or was it called Captain Marvel? I have got to brush up on this stuff.

** I felt almost manly there for a minute, having visegrips in my toolbox. I didn't mention, of course, that I am terrfiied of the visegrips, and imagine them accidentally vise-gripping on parts of my body, maiming me hideously and leaving me to stagger the darkened streets with visegrips dangling from various body parts, frightening children and maybe becoming the topic of an In Search Of one day.
No man can eat 100 Peeps

Thursday, April 15, 2004


Things have been lonely and sad in the Kafkaesque household. The wife is out of town for days at a time on business. I eat solitary dinners, chatting with the cat about the 9/11 hearings. I watch movies. I make terrible sounds on the gueetar. I put off the chores.

But something happened this morning that showed me I am truly losing it, that my isolation has turned to some sort of sickness: I was leaving for work and realized that I forgot to drink coffee. That's right. I forgot to grind the beans, get out the filter, heat the water. All that stuff. I mean, if I had just forgot one step, like putting the filter in the little Melitta cone, that would be understandable, but totally missing the entire coffee element of my morning? It's worrying.

It's like forgetting to unzip your pants before going to the bathroom. Or wondering why you're not at work, when you forgot to drive your car there.

I fear for my mind.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Oh, also, and for no reason: Cthulhu v. The Superheroes Lenticular

What are lenticulars? Those crazy plastic thingies that seem to change or move as you look at them from one angle or another. Very popular with religious novelties, as I'm sure you are well aware. Like from one angle Jesus is giving the sermon on the mount or something, and then from the other angle -- Bam! Crucifixion!
On the Loss of Opportunity

We just got a new roof put on our house. That means we are no longer roofless people, as we were for a couple of days there while people who really looked a lot like carnies tore off our shingles. That sounds like a terribly miscalculated budget surgery, doesn't it? "People who look like carnies tore off my shingles!"

I know, gross.

Anyway, we got this new roof, which is very nice and made of steel and isn't thirty years old. Also, It doesn't send shakes flying off every time there's a wind over twenty miles an hour. So that's nice.

But it struck me today, as I was watching these faux-carnies up there wielding nailguns and drinking alarming quantities of Squirt (alarming because where do these guys pee? Are they peeing in my yard? Can I detect that in some way? Is there a pee-sniffing dog I can rent? But then, aren't all dogs really pee-sniffing dogs, when you come right down to it?). These guys are almost done with the job, and I missed out on a great opportunity: if I had paid them just a little bit more, and roofs are already pretty pricey so another few clams wasn't going to make much difference, I wonder if they would have worn big fluffy animal costumes while they worked on my roof.

Can you imagine how great it would be to be driving down a street and see a six foot frog nailing flashing to a skylight? Maybe a giant fluffy raccoon tiptoeing along the patio covering, teetering at the edge of the atrium?

Hindsight is 20-20 I guess.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

The End of Days

In high school, a couple of friends and I would stay up all night playing insanely long games of RISK* until, inevitably, fisticuffs would ensue or someone would freak out and ruin the game.

One particularly exciting game featured my friend T massing an army too large to be held by the relatively small confines of Siam. He had not just the Vs, my friends, but the Xs. He must have had seventy armies on Siam.

Another friend, K, had retreated into Australia, perhaps hoping to live out his days peacefully in New Zealand or Western Australia, with his paltry five or ten armies. Maybe they would take up subsistence farming, or film a blockbuster fantasy trilogy with Orlando Bloom there one day in the future.

But T was at the border, with a vast force. And the dice came down in judgment.

You may have read in history books about the battle that day, how ten or so plastic Roman numerals held off the onslaught of far superior numbers, how K again and again rolled sixes to T's fours, threes to his ones, impossibly whittling down the juggernaut force until victory was in sight, and his ragtag band of plastic started to believe they could win the day. T's plastic warriors were strewn about the board, crying "Medic!". And no medic arrived.

But a rumbling began in the skies when T was down to thirty or so Roman numerals.

Every victory for K was rewarded with a punch in the arm. K laughed these glancing blows off and the dice rolling continued. These two gladiators pushed Is, Vs and Xs to their fate, demanded them up and over the trench wall into the face of a rain of bullets and fire. And every turn, K beat T. Again and again.

And the punches came harder now, with more venom. The laughter in return had an edge of ire.

No-one can now say exactly who was ahead when T launched the doomsday attack, for no-one survived that day. Somehow, Roman numerals started again after that, ekeing out an existence on a cardboard world that had seen the visitation of the perfect weapon. But no crops would grow; the land was ruined and diseased.

And in hushed tones, the legend would be passed from grandfather to grandson, that they may remember the past and not repeat its folly: The Day The Board Was Flipped.

* Yes, friends and neighbors. I was not the coolest kid in high school. I know, your illusions are shattered.


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