Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Decorations of Doom

In years past, I was your average Christmas decoration kind of guy. I had a few strands of your garden variety yellow, red, blue, green lights with which humans have adorned their houses since man first began walking erect. Some of my lights looked a little the worse for wear, with the color beginning to scrape off in spots. I'd string them on the eaves of my house and revel in their somewhat kitschy charm. I employed a philosophy of elegant restraint.

I eschewed the blinking bulbs. I spurned the fad of those "icicle" lights which look really terrible when the sun is out.

Then, I moved to the community in which I now reside, and I was faced with some rather serious pressure in the Christmas-decoration arena. My neighbors have mechanical reindeer. There are Nativity scenes being acted out by plastic penguins. They have inflatable Santas and neon presents. Giant candy canes. The whole place looks like a seedy car lot.

That's when I decided to take the law into my own hands and vanquish this tawdry assemblage of cheer.

My robotic death-elves are, as we speak, massing in my yard, and will soon sweep over the yards and chimneys of San Bruno, bringing tears and valuable lessons to the Lowe's shoppers of the community. Lasers. There will be lasers.

Merry Christmas, and I will be on hiatus for a while.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Christmas Carding

I am in charge of the majority of the Christmas card duties here at Team Kafka HQ. I know you may not call them Christmas cards. You may call them Holiday cards, or Solstice Missives or Death of Nature Fliers. I don't know. Anyway, some thoughts:

- The decay of enthusiasm
I always start out the Christmas cards with a great attitude. I compile the list of worthy recipients and go somewhere like Cost Plus and pick out the right cards for the wifely friend and I. We need cards that will adequately express our caring and artful sensibilities, and inspire the recipient to new levels of gratitude and potential guilt, if they haven't remembered us this year.

It's important to have a card that stands out, too, so you can act wounded if you visit the recipient's home and see that your card is in the B-team display, over behind one of the potted plants.

I start out with our overseas cards, and I'm writing letters in each card. I'm telling relatives things they probably don't need or want to know about trivial details of our personal lives. About our cat. About the newts I find in our back yard from time to time.

But inevitably, after this outpouring of card-filling, I am spent. The domestic cards cannot help but suffer, and end up getting only terse little Merry Christmas!es. After writing fifty Merry Christmas!es and Hope to see you soon!s I end up speaking that way for days.

"Going to store! Hope lunch good! Have run over pedestrian! Have malaria!"

- The baby card
Lately people we know have been reproducing at an alarming rate, so we've been getting those "here's a picture of us with the babies pretending we're not really annoyed and tired every single moment" cards. That is, of course, just fine. They're actually handy, in that I can't tell the difference between the gaggle of babies that are being produced, so the cards function as little flashcards, preventing awkwardness at social gatherings.

"Hello friends who have reproduced!"
"Hello, Kaf! Here is our baby!"
"Ah yes! Your baby! Whose name is...umm...give me a minute here"

And then I quickly rifle through my stack of baby-cards until I find the right one, and I am the champion of baby-name-remembering. It's small things like this that ensure a place in people's wills.

- The love question
I have a hard time saying I love you. Not to the wifely friend of course. I say that to her all the time, especially if I suspect she has become peeved with me in some small way.

I have a problem with the Christmas card love. I mean, do I put "love, kaf and wifely friend" on every card? I mean I like my friends plenty, but love may frankly be a little strong. I don't want to feel like I'm subjecting people to some sort of emotional blackmail with my signature. I don't want anyone thinking I'm going to want to spend the weekend at a hippie drum circle retreat with them or anything.

Maybe I should try Sociopathologically Yours?

Monday, December 06, 2004

Fishing 101

Every year, I forget to buy a fishing license until about September. Then, all of a sudden, I feel a deep and abiding inner need to sit by a lake not catching any fish, so I spring into action. I race to the nearest sporting goods store, drop 40 dollars on a license, and buy a variety of shiny, smelly or otherwise disturbing items that will help ensure the safety of the fish in my chosen body of water.

It's not as though I've never caught a fish. I should make that clear. There was even a time my friend Chimichanga and I went pier-fishing and caught 30 or so mackerel. That doesn't really count, though. Those fish were suicidal. We would drop a baited hook into the drink, and they would be falling all over for the chance to get killed. What really transpired was that we happened to be right in the middle of a passing school. This was evident when every single other fisherman descended on our location when they spied us bringing up four mackerel at once. In the ensuing frenzy of hooks, reminiscent of a cross between Bassmasters and Hellraiser, five men lost eyes.

So I have in fact caught fish in the past. But usually, I sit there by the side of a lake, contemplating the fact that I got 3 hours of sleep and have consumed too much coffee, and do a really inspiring job of not catching any fish. This time, I decided things would be different. My friends set up a trip to the delta ("the delta" in case you are wondering, is the Sacramento River delta) to not catch some impressive prey: Striped Bass or "stripers". Clearly this is the big time. This is the fish to not catch, if you want to not catch a really impressive fish.

Stripers of thirty pounds or more are caught every season in the delta. I have been told that, at least. On our fishing trip, only one of the six of us who went actually caught a fish, and I have no photographic evidence that even happened. Routinely, in the days leading up to a fishing trip, my friends and I will banter back and forth, firing email salvos proclaiming our illusory fishing prowess.

"Thirty pound striper, huh? I guess that'd be ok."

"Maybe I'll go for sturgeon."

"I am planning on catching an eight foot striped bass and riding him like a dolphin around the delta, waving at you poor saps on the shore."

In reality, I'd be at a loss what to do if I ever reeled a thirty pound striper in. I am confident this will never happen, though.

As I said, I assembled a truly astonishing array of lures for this trip. I had shads. I had Rebel Runners. I had Spinners With Vibrax Action, Rapalas, Hula Poppers, ridiculously large spoon lures, even a tiny rubber diplodocus I picked up in case anything Paleozoic was lurking in the deeps. I should mention that I stopped short of buying a bait that advertised "sex scent". Frankly, I don't want to encourage that sort of thing and wouldn't want to not catch the kind of fish that would respond to such perversion.

We made it out to the delta pretty early in the morning. Early for me, anyway: around seven o'clock. (Of course no matter what time you start fishing, it will be marginally "too late". After the first forty-five minutes or so with no-one so much as tugging your Spinner with Vibrax Action, you will probably get the idea that you should have been there at 5 am. Realistically, if you had gotten there at 5am, you'd just be colder and grumpier, but it is nice to comfort yourself with this sort of self-loathing.)

To summarize the results of the trip, I managed to not catch some really frighteningly large fish. Not that they were ever on my line, you understand. My fishing tactics included casting out a fair distance, and then reeling in my lure with the nagging feeling that I should probably switch to something else. Something more expensive. Then, about ten yards from shore, the lure would get caught on some hazard beneath the surface. Rocks, weeds, logs, dumped bodies. I don't know what. Then I would spend the next five minutes tugging pathetically at the line, trying to free it.

I managed to lose about five lures that day.

The most spectacular lure loss of the day came as we were getting ready to leave. I had decided that what I really needed to do was make a leap of faith. So I reached into my tackle box and pulled out a lure I'd had sitting in there for a good ten years: The Krokodile. The Krokodile is a ridiculously large lure that is advertised as good for stripers. I don't know why I bought the lure in the first place, but it's been with me so long, it's like an old friend. I'd be fishing at some lake, not catching some small trout or blue gill, and I'd see the Krokodile there in the box, and be reminded that one day I'd go for the big game.

I joked to my friend Bindlestick Billy as I tied the lure on my line that I'd probably cast it out and instantly get it snagged.

So, I don't have my Krokodile anymore.

Oh well, maybe I should have used the Sex Scent.

epilogue: The day was not a complete loss, as we stopped at Foster's Big Horn on the way home. Foster's Big Horn has a huge collection of slowly decaying game heads on the walls. The sight of a mounted Dik-Dik really makes you hungry for a patty melt was apparently the owner's business philosophy. So, we may not have caught fish, but we sure ate lunch in a place that had dead animals all over the walls. That's showing those stripers.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Mess Update

Yes, I deleted the links. But they will be back again one day, kind of like Frosty the Snowman. What the hell was the idea there? Look, kids, snowmen melt. It's unrealistic to expect them to stick around forever, and no way can they procreate. I know that's harsh, but I'm all about the tough love.

Anyway, the links will one day return, so don't despair.

Also, I got a kind of bad haircut today, which was made worse by an old guy sitting next to me while we were waiting, who was watching a Viking movie with Lloyd Bridges and Anthony Quinn on the teevee. Now, normally, I am all in favor of weirdness, especially technicolor weirdness that features flabby actors covered in fake tan, but this guy had THE VOLUME TURNED WAY UP! Way, way up. And the guy gave me this look when I walked in that said either "You got a problem with my incredibly loud Viking movie?!" or "You cannot possibly appreciate the subtleties of this film and I will not deign to educate you." Either way, not good, old guy.

Also also, I stopped by the Golden Gate National Cemetery to take some pictures today and had an internal fight with myself about whether I was trying to Make a Statement by taking pictures of a military cemetery. I am not sure who won.
God Bless This Mess

As you can see, the sixth seal has been broken. The lion is laying down with the lamb, the guinea pig is consorting with the hermit crab unabashedly, and I have changed the layout of this site. My efforts so far involve randomly deleting things and seeing what happens, so you'll just have to bear with me. This may lead to an extremely minimalist look. So minimalist, in fact, that this site may just disappear. Wink out like Roy Batty turning four.

If so, tell my wife I love her very much.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

World AIDS Day

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