Thursday, December 29, 2005

Toys R Us caught fire on Christmas day (a certain sense of irony in that.) I work there, so I know what happened, but I’m not supposed to reveal anything. Truth be told, I don’t know that much anyway. I don’t know why it started, although I know where it started and how far it spread.
It’s not that exciting.
At least no one was hurt.
That's the line of the week. At least no one was hurt.
I spent the last three days standing out front of the store stopping the people who either live under a rock or near Boardman and telling them we’re closed, and inevitably they said, 'At least no one was hurt.'
Here’s the typical conversation I had on Monday.
Me: Hi, we’re closed
Them: Closed?
Me: Ya, we had a fire on Christmas.
Them: You’re kidding. Really?
Me: Yes.
Them: Was it bad?
Me: No structural damage, but they’re still determining everything else. If you have returns or exchanges, Robinson and Cranberry are open.
Them: No one was hurt were they?
Me: No, it happened on Christmas, no one was here.
Them: I guess that’s one good thing.

By Tuesday it went like this:
Me: Hi, we’re closed. We had a fire on Christmas.
Them: You’re kidding. Really?
Me: No, I’m not kidding, I wouldn’t kid about something this serious and I resent the fact you think I would.
Them: I’m sorry. Was it bad?
Me: It’s a fire inside the toy store, it’s not good.
Them: No one was hurt were they?
Me: No, it happened on Christmas, no one was here.
Them: I guess that’s one good thing.
Me: Unless you consider if someone was here, they could have stopped it with a fire extinguisher. Some people make me sick!

By day three:
Me: You don’t read the paper do you?
Them: What?
Me: We’re closed: we had a fire on Christmas.
Them: You’re kidding.
Me: Well… you’re right! You got me! Man and I thought the 7 bright yellow vans that said Fire and water damage restoration would really sell this practical joke.
Them: [confused look] Was it bad?
Me: No, it was actually good, for a while. You know how it is… Christmas party … roasting marshmallows indoors … got out of control. Robinson and Cranberry are open.
Them: Okay?
Me: They have no idea how to party at those stores.
Them: At least no one was hurt.
Me: No, but the party mule did suffer smoke inhalation.

But by far, this was the best angry customer of the week.

[car pulls in, I go towards it, woman gets out, not even glancing at me]
Me: Hi! (I’m very cheerful)
[woman feigns indifference and grabs purse, walks past me toward the boarded up front doors, with service master fire restoration vans – the bright yellow ones – parked all along the front and hand made signs declaring we’re closed]
Me: Are you coming to shop today?
[ignores me totally, still walking away]
Me: Because we’re closed.
[She stops dead in her tracks, swings around quickly, stares me down. I could swear her eyes were yellow, perhaps just reflections of the cleaning vans. There was spittle (or foam) dangling on the edges of her mouth, and I’m thinking she stops un-dead in her tracks would have been a more apropos phrase. Then in a deep menacing voice she growls]
Her: Why!?
Now a man has two choices when faced with such situations. Fight or flight.
And being the kind of man I am - one afflicted with avoidance personality disorder, I chose the latter.
My actual response: [take two steps back, and meekly squeak out] f-f-fire.
(My response when I retell the story to co-workers: We heard you were coming. Dorothy called ahead and warned us.)
She spins around again and heads toward the store anyway. I contemplate tackling her, but remember the yellow eyes.
Me: Why be a hero?
Me: She could be a terrorist!
Me: With yellow eyes?
Me: You’re right, and there’s that risk of rabies.
Me: There must be a better way to deal with this.
[And then it comes to me, in a bright flash of retail wage slave brilliance]
Me: I got it! Let management deal with it.
Me: You’re brilliant
Me: I know.

The woman with the yellow eyes was merely throwing her empty McDonalds bag away at the garbage can near the front door. (And I thought Supersize Me ruined fast food.) She turned and left and I made a wide circle back to my post near the front door, and couldn’t help mumbling to myself, ‘At least no one was hurt.’

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Christmas Footwear

Dear Billy,

Jesus hated the shoes.

See you in Hell,

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

What's Oblong?

Buy an oblong tablecloth. That's your mission, if you choose to accept it. You do, of course, because everyone always does, and suddenly your chest tightens up and spots flood your retinas as you realize that you have no clue what "oblong" means. What the heck could an oblong tablecloth look like? An oval, right? Or wait, is it a rectangle?

If you look up the word "oblong" in the Oxford American Dictionary, it gives you both! Ob•long, adj. "having an elongated shape, as a rectangle or an oval." Thanks Oxford, thanks a hell of a lot! "Oxford American" doesn't make any sense to begin with, so why should I trust the definitions they give me. The mystery continues as I take on the role of Zogby or Gallop...

"What shape is oblong?" I ask. "A rectangle," she replies.
"What shape is oblong?" I ask another. "An oval, of course," he replies.

Oval or rectangle, oblong is driving me around in circles! Which table clothe should you buy? If you have a round table, and you buy a rectangular clothe, you'll be doltish! If you buy an oval tablecloth and you have a long rectangular table, you might as well be a turkish troglodyte! But you can't just make a guess and go with it... or open it up, find that its the wrong one, and then pretend that it isn't. Why, then everyone will think you mad! Here you are assuring everyone its an oval tablecloth, when it clearly has four corners. Or even worse, you decide to take matters into your own hands and cut off the corners... but this just results in a raged table cloth only fit for the table of Eddie Vedder. Modern Man doesn't live like this! We are civilized people who should know how to properly label things... we should know the definition of oblong!

I find myself at a cross-roads. Just like in every episode of Mission:Impossible, you don't know who to believe. Who is wearing a mask and who is an expert at vehicle operation? Does oblong mean rectangle or oval? But perhaps that's not the question we should be asking ourselves. It doesn't matter what the definition says, it matters what the tablecloth company holds as THEIR definition! Everything is relative, even outside of West Virginia, and all that matters if what this company has decided for its labeling system. If you buy a package that says "oblong" you will get just that. At least if it's not what you were asked to get, you can show whomever demanded this of you the package. Rub it in their face, hurting their nose, exclaiming, "THIS IS WHAT YOU REDUCED ME TO!"

I can just feel the urge to march into that tablecloth company's office and demand an explanation. That's when they would just point to the wall behind the front desk. On the wall would be their definition of oblong... but it's not that simple. No, I'm sure those saucy bastards change the definition every time we turn our backs, and yet we believe everything it says, like the cows and pigs on the farm. You are at the will and mercy of this company, and you will never know the complete truth until you open up the package. You might as well buy two, if you have the money, and pray to God that one of them is the correct tablecloth. While some may call for an independent investigation (which means a costly, time consuming report that will solve very little if anything) of the word oblong, I merely say we call it out. Call Webster, Roget, Oxford and the like and demand that they choose. Does this adjective mean elongated circle or square? You have to choose just one and you can't flip or flop! Just choose!

And of course they won't... because they're like that.

So you get the tablecloth... you give up and you just pick one. There's no use getting more gray hairs over the whole ordeal. Just do it like a band-aid, nice and quick with very little pain. You pick a package that reads "Oblong" and you bring it home. You could spend the evening debating the definition of the word with your family, or you could just find out the definition by tearing open the plastic and pulling out the blood-red cloth contained within. Everyone in the family gathers around, each grabbing an end and stretching it out to fill the dining room. Well? Well? Well... it's a rectangle. A rectangle will work just fine.

Everyone responds with a one-was-interested-but-now-satisified, "Huh."

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Dodge Intrepid Christmas Episode

James and I wrote and recorded a special Christmas episode of "Dodge Intrepid and the Pages of Time" just in time for the holiday season. In order to spread it's warm joy around a little more, I thought I'd mention it on the blog.

The episode is being released exclusively online (and on a limited edition CD). You won't be seeing this one performed at Cafe Kolache. But it sort of stands on its own as a nice cliched Christmas special. I hope that you'll listen to it and share it with your friends and family this holiday season!


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Christmas Annoyance Update

We are now a mere ten days from joyous Christmas day, and I am now officially done with this holiday season. Just yesterday my holiday annoyance level jumped from sienna to goldenrod. It very likely could reach coffee by the 20th. I am in dire Yule straights. Working in retail in a mall has completely worn away my merry resolve. I’m tired of almost everything having to do with Christmas. I’m tired of the crowds of people. The nagging about what presents people still need. I am tired of telling people we don’t have any of the ‘hot’ holiday items left for sale. Look, I’m only going to say this once: If your son or daughter wants an Ipod Nano or an X-Box 360, you are not going to get it for them before Christmas. Deal with it. “But James,” you say, “What am I going to tell Billy. He needs one.” Here’s what you do: Take little Billy aside, smack that awful spoiled-brat pout off his face, and explain that there are places in the world where all you get for Christmas is an extra spoonful of rice, where you pick up an AK-47 at the age of 6 and die by the age of 13. Then smack little Billy again, and tell him not to be such a whiny ungrateful little bitch.

Oh, there’s more about this horrid holiday season which wears awful fissures into my very soul. Did I mention the music? Remember how you first started hearing Christmas songs – like in September – and you thought: “Wow, I haven’t heard this in a while.” Then for four straight months you hear nothing but Christmas music. At first you get annoyed. Then you get numb to them. Then you start to hear them again, but this time you really start to listen, really listen. You realize that some of these songs are truly disturbing. I used to like ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ until someone – Nang – ruined it for me by pointing out how it sounds like a tale of date rape.

The other day I started thinking – really thinking – about ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’. Wow, what a bizarre song. The name of the song should be ‘My Eccentric Billionaire Boyfriend’. This guy must have all sorts of money and time at his disposal. He’s clearly rich, and – if the song is to be believed – he truly loves, but his taste seems to run a little toward the…how should I say this…bizarre and sadistic. This guy clearly can give any gifts he wants, and what does the poor girl keep getting: Birds. Birds!? For four straight days this weirdo gives his true love nothing but birds. What the hell does he expect her to do with all these birds?

I can just imagine what the poor girl was thinking come day five: “I swear to God, if this guy gives me one more freakin bird, his ass is toast.” Then, of course, the billionaire – in true Machiavellian fashion – comes through with one good gift: Five golden rings. Every woman loves jewelry. This gift is money in the bank. The woman’s happy – sure she has to figure out what to do with three French Hens, etc, but whatever. Of course, it’s all a cruel tease. Come day six – BOOM – right back to those damned birds.

“Oh…” the poor girl says, “Six geese…great.”

“There’s more,” the billionaire responds, “They’re laying eggs.”

“That’s not the only thing laying eggs around here.”

Then, after another day of birds – ‘Where the hell am I supposed to keep seven swans and the pool for them to swim in?’- when the poor girl absolutely can’t stand one more day of birds, the guy stops giving birds. Now, he’s giving people. PEOPLE!? Who in their right mind gives people? Aren’t there laws against this sort of things? You can’t give people people as gifts. This guy doesn’t care. He doesn’t just give people, he gives groups of people. Eight maids – not to mention the cows that come with them – is not a good gift. No one has space for eight frickin maids.

Then for the rest of the holiday season, this guy gives nothing but people. This poor girl has people dancing, leaping, drumming, etc all over her house. All of a sudden, her house is a circus. Of course, she has nothing to do. She can’t return the gifts. Her boyfriend – daddy Bigbucks – comes over expecting to see them. Plus, it’s not like he gave her a gift receipt. Everyone knows you can’t return people without a receipt. All you get is store credit for more people. Who needs that?

So, this egomaniacal billionaire makes his girlfriends life a living hell over Christmas. Crappy gift, after crappy gift. Her house is a cross between an aviary, barn, and dance club. Come Boxing Day, she’s probably having a nervous break down. And why? Why does this jerk do all this? Because he’s rich and he can get away with it.

See. This is the kind of crap which runs through your mind when Christmas becomes completely ruined. I can’t wait for Christmas to be over. I can’t wait for this month long headache to finally subside. I mean seriously, why do we put ourselves through this? What is Christmas all about anyway? Can’t anyone tell me what Christmas is all about?

Yes, Linus. You have something to say?


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Head Games

I ran into someone the other day who started telling me about how her ex was harassing her and her new boyfriend. The guy was sitting outside their house in his car, and she thought he was sneaking in when they weren’t there.
I didn’t think about whether it was weird or scary or deranged, instead, what I thought about was this:
Everyone knows someone who has been harassed by a jilted ex or deranged want-to-be lover; someone who does shitty, shady stuff, like breaking into a house, sending threatening emails, or taking a dog. But why is it no one knows the person doing the harassing?
You never hear: “Hey, I’ve been going over to Angela’s house the past couple weeks, leaving threatening stuff laying around, I took some CDs one night when the door was open, left a Foreigner CD standing on the coffee table – it has our song. I hope she doesn’t call the cops.”

That guy is always someone else. I don’t know why for sure, but I have a few theories:

Theory 1: If it’s retaliation for harassing, it’s not harassing.
“We think Billy’s been coming into the house, because some of my CDs are missing, so we sent him a picture of Nate holding his hunting rifle. I have to protect myself.”
Seems reasonable – on a I’m-dealing-with-a-deranged-ex kind of level.
But Billy’s friends only hear, “Angela’s new boyfriend sent me a picture of himself holding a shotgun, with a note that said, ‘It’s open season on ducks and trespassers.’ What the hell’s that mean? I asked her for my CDs like a thousand times, but that bitch didn’t want to give them to me. So I took them and gave her some of her stuff back.”

“You won’t believe what Billy did today. He left that Care Bear I got him for his birthday on our porch, with a knife stuck in it and a note that said ‘Two can play that game.’ What’s that mean? He scares me.”

Leave out a few of the details and the thing you did to provoke the thing they did, and you sound like a champ. A put upon, living-in-danger champ.

Theory 2: It’s just one guy who is harassing all these people. He doesn’t have any friends, so he doesn’t have anyone to tell. All he does is move from relationship to relationship, sending emails, stealing CDs and screaming at the houses of the people in the relationship he just left.
And he’s got a CD collection you wouldn’t believe. (Which leads me to believe it could be BOB from that new radio station.)

Theory 3: Harassers are smart and savvy enough to not talk about it. But what are the odds a dog stealer is smart enough not to talk about it?

That’s it. Those are my theories, and whichever is right, it doesn’t really matter. Either way, I got my CDs back. And I’ll leave you with some worldly wisdom. When the going is good in a relationship, always make a spare house key.


Monday, December 12, 2005

Why Man Creates Doors

I hardly ever know if my roommates are currently residing in their rooms. When I walk into our living room, every door is shut. Puff and Jon usually keep their door closed, I close mine when I exit, and Pappy has a small index card taped to the wall signifying whether he is "in" or "out." Most of the time, I don't even see my roommates until after dinner, when we all retire back to the dorm to do homework, play videogames, or watch television shows on DVD.

The other day, while both Puff and I were in our respective rooms working on papers, he sent me an instant message asking if I was in my room. He had no clue that I had come back from class thirty minutes earlier. It was after this revelation that Puff posed the question, "Why did Man create doors?" So I started thinking about it, and this led to a rather lengthy discussion preventing either of us from actually doing work.

Man created the door for a few reasons. Firstly, it was for isolation. Man created the door because he didn't want to be bothered by others. You close doors to get away from people, to leave them in a different room and take them completely out of your sight. Man also created the door for protection, both from the elements and from others. You close the door to keep in the heat or air conditioning (unless you were born in a barn), or you close a door so that a rabid dog or angry cousin doesn't attack you. Man created the door for the simple need to be alone.

But after accomplishing this easy task of solitude-- accomplished by putting a hinged board in front of a hole in the wall-- Man quickly re-thought his motives. Do we really want to be alone, all cooped up and quiet? Maybe sometimes, like if Man has an important paper to write... or perhaps has a splitting headache. But the rest of the time, Man needs contact with others. We all crave social interaction in some form or another, even the most introverted amongst us. Sure, you could accomplish all of that without ever opening your door (thanks to the wonders of e-mail, instant messaging, and cell phones) but eventually your fingers will start to cramp or your phone batteries will die. Then where will you be? In a locked room... that's where.

Doors do nothing but separate families and society. When a siblings are angry, they slam a door or lock themselves in their room. Communities struggle to survive when everyone hides behind locked doors. And as Puff pointed out, Knowledge also suffers. Ideas and dialogues can't be exchanged behind a solid slab of oak.

And so, Man fixed what was wrong with the door's design: He made the screen door.

The screen door has all of the features of a normal door, with the added bonus of translucency. If you wish to be alone in your room, to tend to your own private needs, then so be it. But if you want to still be in touch with the outside world, while still maintaining an air of semi-privacy and protection, then you just use the screen door! A screen door, for those of you who have been living behind closed doors all your lives, is a rather simple machine. It's a door frame with a mesh, wire netting inside. This same technology was used to make screens for windows (allowing the warmth of the earth in, and keeping the scary bugs out), although I'm not sure which came first... And so, rather than Man shutting himself off from the world, he has realized his mistake and constructed a compromise. Not quite an open space, not quite a solid door.

But, Man sometimes wishes for more protection and less interaction with the real world. Perhaps they are afraid of talking to others, and want to remain in their shut-in world while still maintaining the illusion of freedom. So, some people have utilized the sliding-glass door. This door is merely placebo to ease Man's ills. While behind it, we think we are free... the illusion of actually being out in nature shines through (providing you cleaned the smudges off the glass), and yet we never have to hear or feel it. Nature isn't too fond of the sliding-glass door, since it's nothing more than a tease. Birds are constantly smashing into the door, each thud reminding us that our feeling of freedom is unfounded. Sometimes the feeling becomes so great that humans forget that they are, in fact, behind a closed door. They end up no better than the birds.

And it's from these three basic doors that numerous designs and theories derive. Each door we create is made for a specific psychological reason. The revolving door signifies Man's need for sterilized excitement; the feeling we are going on a ride, while always planted firmly in the strength and safety of a cylinder. The automatic sliding doors (found in most grocery stores) show Man's need to be welcomed where he goes. The doors open on their own the moment they sense your presence, and provide the feeling that you belong. Folding doors, like the ones found in closets or phone booths, allow Man to experience the disjointedness of life. Sometimes, everything is laid out for you, and you know exactly how things are going; everything's contained. And yet the second the order is broken, folded together in a chaotic mess of hinges and wood, our lives run wild. Things (or people) come out of the closet, we enter into a new world, Man is able to use the pay phone.

Every boundary or blockade that Man makes for itself is there for a reason. While some of these boundaries are mistakes, like the solid door, others are works of pure instinctual genius, like the screen door. Just remember... for every door that is closed, a window is usually opened. And that is a completely different subject.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Why did you leave me???

Is this supposed to be a funny joke? Haha I get it! Now come get me! My face hurts! My rear is all scratched up, and all you could do was walk away unscathed. Is this all I mean to you? After all these years?

It was just a little raccoon, we could have taken him! Don’t you trust me? Instead I end up with a face full of turnpike median and you, you disloyal wench, you end up chatting up the man whose car has flashing lights! Is that what you want? Well, maybe I'm not that flashy, but I have always been there for you!

Two super-reflective men lit tiny little fires around me, as if to say: everybody! look at this hideous Plymouth Neon! Look how messed up he is! The passing compact cars chuckled, the mid-sized ones laughed, and the trucks, oh the murderous cackling of those relentless trucks. If only there were some bicycles I could feel superior to, but no. It was the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and it was midnight. And I lost control of my fluids, all over the ground. SHAME!

To make matters worse, you let a big truck carry me away to his house! I have never met this truck! His must be a house of torture. As we pulled up, vehicles of all shapes and sizes lie there, dead or near dead. He just left me there though, probably saving me for later. But then the next day, another truck picked me up and took me to his house! More mangled faces-more horrific stories! But he, he had a staff of people who seemed to be helping them, I was saved! Or so I thought…

All these dirty men were looking at me and they tried to get my hood open. Then they gave up and they said it was a total loss! Damn straight they lost- I wouldn’t let them get it open! I haven’t heard from them since!!! I feel so cheap.

Then, miracle of miracles, you came for me! You tenderly rubbed me with tears in your eyes. You didn’t look directly at my wounds. I do not blame you. You removed all your things from my trunk and interior, you even unscrewed my name tag! You attempted to remove the sticker on my rear that declares my disdain for President Bush. You wouldn’t get that though; I wouldn’t let you. If I am going to die with anything, it will be my disdain for President George Bush. I suggest you do the same.

We sat together for a few moments. You said some sweet things, you cried a bit you patted my dashboard, kissed the steering wheel, and you were GONE. You banged me up, you took everything out of me, and you walked away. Sure you’re sorry, you raccoon-swerving bitch, sure. Whatever. Just come back! Please! I know your secrets! I know how bad you sing! I’ll tell!!

Revenge is a lemon,

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Christmas Gifts I’d like to give based solely on the sound of the word, but which might be inappropriate.

Cystic Fibrosis

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Holy F*cking Sh@t

Those were the words. At least those were the first words to even vaguely resemble English. The first syllables to come to mind were something along the lines of ‘Wha-ba-da-doo’, which – I believe – translates to something along the lines of ‘come again’. But ‘Holy F*cking Sh@t’ was the first thing I really wanted to say. I was shocked. Absolutely shocked. I had never – in my entire life – heard anything as ridiculous. I was completely blindsided. I didn’t even think God – in his infinite wisdom – had created numbers so high. I was left almost completely speechless. Except for those three awful, awful words.

My entire existence is based on an underlying financial house of cards. If one card was to be removed or an extra one added, the entire thing may very well collapse. For some time now I have been able to survive at an unhappy equilibrium. I make just enough money to pay all my bills and eat a little. Add one more bill, or one unforeseen large expenditure, and that’s it. Game over, man. I might as well fold up my tent, move back into my parents basement, and spend every night crying myself to sleep. Luckily, up to this point, this has yet to come to pass. I’ve slid by, sometimes by the very skin of my teeth, but I’ve always slid by. The one thing for which I’ve always fallen to my knees and thanked God for is not having car payments. My old Lumina – affectionately dubbed the Silver Bullet – has been a warrior. Received on the cheap from my grandmother, I’ve hoped it would last until I was on sounder financial footing to get a new one.

Of course, life doesn’t always go as planned.

This brings me back to ‘Holy F*cking Sh@t’. Yesterday I had the Silver Bullet inspected. Now, when the lip-ringed kid behind the desk told me my car didn’t pass inspection, I was fully prepared. I knew the car wouldn’t pass inspection. It almost never did. By my amateur estimation I figured the car needed at least two new tires, some brake work – the Silver Bullet is hard on brakes – and maybe a new mirror. My mental math put the sum total for the work at somewhere between five hundred and sixteen hundred dollars – a hefty sum but still, ever so barely, within reason. So, I was prepared to hear some high figure, but I sure was not prepared for what came next. Fifteen hundred dollars. That’s all I heard. The guy was explaining stuff to me, but it was a silent flapping of lips devoid of any semblance of reason. All I heard was ‘Fifteen hundred dollars’. All I could think was ‘Holy F*cking Sh@t.’ Needless to say, the number quoted me had one more digit than I was prepared to handle.

So, now I’m screwed. My entire life could easily fall to earth in one little cloud of dust, hardly noted by the world at large. I was completely dazed. I wandered around the garage waiting room like one recently lobotomized. Where was I? What was I doing? Why couldn’t I feel emotions? The only thing I knew – the one unshakable truth which refused to leave my mind – was ‘Holy F*cking Sh@t’.

Now, a day later with a cooler head, I am better able to survey my situation. And still, all I have is ‘Holy F*cking Sh@t’. It really is quite a hard thing to come to terms with. I can’t afford to get the work done. The car’s not even really worth getting that kind of work done to. I can’t afford a new car. I called my parents. I asked for a new car for Christmas. They laughed. I started listing my assets. Looking for things I could sell. I have an old 19 inch television: worthless. I have a car which needs more work than it’s worth: worthless. I have four years worth of liberal arts education in English from an accredited, well-regarded college: worthless. I have two kidneys: now we’re talking. I don’t need both of those bastards. What are kidneys worth? Has to be a few hundred dollars right? I’ll just put one up on e-bay. I have bone marrow: score. I have – I assume – potent sperm: more money. I have two livers…right?

That was my line of thought for some time. I turned my body into a big operation board and wherever I found a valuable, unnecessary asset, I placed an imaginary plastic dollar sign. Every time one would be removed my nose would light up with a cash register ka-ching sound. I was a desperate man willing to take desperate measures.

Then my parents saved me. Apparently, after they stopped laughing at me – three or four hours – they talked it over. Since my mother walks to work, they can do without one car for at least a little. Thank God. So, I’ll get my dad’s sweet-ass Ford Escort with all four cylinders of pure, unrelenting power. I can have it for a few months while I save up some cash and try to find a new ride all my own. So, I’ve been saved. At least temporarily.

Of course, if something else were to go wrong again, ‘Holy F*cking Sh@t’.


The Chocolate War War

Monaca high school may ban “the Chocolate War” because a small group of parents think the book’s language is inappropriate, it depicts Catholicism in a bad light, and the sexually suggestive parts, especially about masturbation, aren’t appropriate for 14 or 15 year olds.
Hello! 14 and 15 year olds swear and masturbate. As do many older folks, possibly the ones challenging this book and or writing on this blog. I wasn’t going to admit that, but what the hell. I dare disturb the Universe – which is really the main theme of the book.
The poster in Jerry’s locker (a quote from my favorite poem) tells me instead of caving into the pressure of a small group of self proclaimed leaders, I should go against the grain, just like Jerry. And that’s what the book is about.
Standing up to the bullies, not being afraid of the secret society, (BEEP-BEEP-BEEP… shameless promotion alert!) not running away from the Freemasons, like my character in Rumble at the Bakesale, one of the sketches performed in A Thousand Rays of Hype, the best of the Cellar Dwellers this Friday, 8 p.m., at CCBC’s Allied Health Auditorium. (I don’t want to pressure you into going, but everyone’s going to be there)
Anyway, as a Catholic, a swearer and a masturbator, I am not offended by Robert Cormier’s depictions of any of them. And reading the book did not make me swear more, masturbate more or go to church more. (I already do the third in appropriate proportion to balance the first two.)
If you want to ban a book, go after that one with the prostitutes, the swearing, the violence, the graphic depictions of torture, the incest, the rape, the death and the end of the world.
That’s right ban the Bible.
Whoops. It’s already banned in schools. Not because of anything on the above list, but instead it breaks that all mighty societal taboo … mentioning God!
Ah, the public school system, bullied by small groups of individuals set on getting their way since Huck ran away with Nigger Jim.
No wonder they don’t want this book to be read.
Can you smell fear?
Can you smell irony?
Can you smell a book a burning?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

What I Don't Want For Christmas

The new Rolling Stones CD
Michael Dukakis election pin
A patron brick at my local library
Licked envelopes
The Tony Little "Gazelle"
Double Dragon the Movie Action Figures
Savings of 15% or more on my car insurance
Another group project in a college class
A toaster that burns the words "Your last piece..." on the side of the bread
Twenty dollars worth of pennies mixed together with glitter and placed in a large box
"Under Siege"
An Air America sweatshirt, hat, or jacket
Paper-bag hand puppet of Madeleine Albright
"Under Siege 2"
A cold Arby's 5 for 5
Baltic Avenue
The bird flu

Monday, December 05, 2005

How the "Rich" get poorer

Forbes magazine recently published its list of the 15 richest fictional characters.
I will reproduce it so you do have to:

10: Willy Wonka, 2.3 billion
9: Thurston Howell III, 5.7 billion (Gilligans Island)
8: Bruce Wayne, 6.5 billion
7: Jed Calmpett, 6.6 billion
6: Scrooge McDuck, 8.2 billion
5: C. Montgomery Burns, 8.4 billion
4: Lex Luthor, 10.1 billion
3: Richie Rich, 17.0 billion
2: Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks, 27.3 billion
1: Santa Claus, Billions on top of Billions
(actually it has the symbol for infiniti, but i can't make that, or don't know how)

I would first like to congradulate Daddy Warbucks. in the time since this list was last published (2002), he passed Richie Rich to comandingly take over the #2 spot on the list. While Richie foolishly squandered nearly 7.7 billion dollars, Daddy made a whopping 17.3 Billion.
A couple of people lost money such as Thurston Howell, who has been stuck on an Island and connot properly invest,(would you give money to the professor for one of his "destined to fail" schemes?) and Willy Wonka made that crappy movie and the low carb craze is a killer, but to drop nearly 8 Billion Bucks!! Richie is Blowing his inheritance!!!

But let's stop and think about what has happened lately to cause this shift in power. Richie's comics are not selling. Period. Who wants to read about the antics of some rich kid. He had that cartoon in the 80's to boost his net worth a bit, I'm sure, and then that Macully Culkin movie, but since then, nothing. Rumor has it that he tried to start a clothing line for kids that was nothing but waistcoats and blue shorts. It bombed horribly. Plus comic strip movies have shifted to a more action oriented role. X-Men, Batman, Fantastic 4, even The Punisher are getting movies. No one wants to see a movie about the Archie Kids.

Now Daddy Warbucks has been busy. He's not making his money from "Annie the musical" doing well in high schools across the country. Daddy's in the defense market. Defense industries is his game, and the U.S. wants to play. Iraq, Afghanstan, this Middle East conflict is doing wonders for his fortune. Everyone wants Daddy's help and G. W. B. is no exception. I also think that his body guards Punjab and Asp creep Bush out a bit. Bush knows that those two have mystical powers and are not afraid to use them. I envision thier conversation to go something like this.

B- Hey Oliver
D- What's new Mr. President?
B- Well, this war isn't going over well with the people. I need something to get them back in the swing of terrorist dislikibility.
D- Umm... Ok... My people have been working on a couple of really big guns and tanks. We have a new misile launcher we are calling the A.A.O.E.
B - What's that?
D- Anti Axis of Evil. It's big enough to impress your N.R.A. supporters and scare the crap out of hippies.
B- Damn Hippies. You can make me up 100,000 then?
D- Sure I can. Who's your Daddy?
B- Alright! Thanks D Dubba-u!
D- No problem G Dubba-u!

I think that as long as the war is going strong, Oliver Warbucks will be riding the good life. Heck, if Bush has his way, he has the potential to challenge Santa for the top spot. Only time will tell.


Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Frenzy of Room 118

The Cellar Dwellers are now officially, bonafide, certified big time. Last night not only did the Cellar Dwellers perform a killer show at St Vincent College, we followed it up with a nice, well deserved stay in complementary hotel rooms. That's right, St Vincent paid for the the Cellar Dwellers to spend the night partying like rock stars in a hotel. And it wasn't just any hotel. It was a Holiday Inn Express. Yeah. That's right. St Vincent doesn't skimp on keeping the talent satisfied. These hotel rooms even had complimentary irons and ironing boards - which, for the record, are unbelievably difficult to conceal in a gym bag.

Right now I know all our loyal readers are salivating to know more of our outlandish hyjinx. Did we wreck a room, dunk televisions into a pool, chuck phones at hospitality workers? Don't worry, dear reader, I shall not disappoint, and don't salivate on your keyboard. After our highly successful St Vincent show, we spent some time with the myriad nubile young co-eds St Vincent has to offer. These lovelies were absolutely smitten with our witty, urbane selves, but the Cellar Dwellers are above all else gentlemen. Despite frantic pleadings from our winsome admirers we retired to our hotel alone.

Once back in our quarters, we decided to order a pizza. Papa John's was called. They were closing at the time, but once they heard the name Cellar Dwellers they were eager to fire the kitchen back up. The Cellar Dwellers, with great respect for the common working man, demurred, insisting they not bother. A late night Wendy's run was initiated.

While relaxing in our palatial accommodations, satiated with burgers, we cracked open a few beers. Then the real party began. Larry - master of mischievous mayhem he is - produced some card games he had brought. We Cellar Dwellers proceeded to play Apples to Apples deep into the night and into the morning. As the alcohol lubricant took hold we became wild. We began hurling empty beer cans all over the room. Ben jumped on the bed. I pocketed shampoo. We were wild men, true followers of Dionysus. We were unshackled animals...For at least five minutes. Then we felt bad, and cleaned up after ourselves. But we cleaned like rock stars: with attitude.

This morning we hit the continental breakfast with ruthless abandon. I had so many tiny muffins, they had to cut me off. But I was undeterred. I returned for more. The Holiday Inn Express's rules cannot hope to contain a rebellious spirit such as my own. I also stole a banana. And I'd do it again. We all would. So let this serve as notice to all hotels out there. If the Cellar Dwellers are checking in, you're in for a long night. We live like the stars we are.