Saturday, July 29, 2006

Like Rockwell

Since moving last August, my seemingly quiet little neighborhood has grown increasingly strange. I am constantly stunned at the unnatural occurrences springing up all around me. I can’t even raise any concerns to my neighbors. They are not exactly the talkative type. When I try to express some basic neighborly pleasantry - saying hello for instance – suspicion clouds their eyes. Behind their eyes I can see them sizing me up, trying to figure my grift. Usually the only interaction occurs when I assure them I am not a college student, and I have a perfect right to park in the street because I live there. This is usually followed by them following me with their eyes all the way back to my apartment practically muttering “Damn uppity college kids” under their breath.

So, my neighborhood is strange. First, it was the invasion of children which I covered in an earlier post. Then there was the invasion of kittens. Yeah, you heard me. Kittens. Everywhere. It was terrible. It was adorable. It was terribly adorable. It was like that tribble episode of Star Trek. Of course, I can’t exactly say I didn’t see it coming. It is a natural progression from the loud, freaky cat sex that was happening on the street a few months ago. Now, that was terrible and in no way, shape, or form adorable. What’s the difference between cat sex and cat fighting? Nothing as far as I can tell. They’re both loud, piercing, and violent. I can’t tell you how many times I could only get to sleep after assuring myself that “It’s ok. She likes it.”

Now, I’m being watched. I returned from work to my ever so humble abode the other day and noticed some strange little stickers on the crappy little house next to mine. These stickers claimed that this house was being protected by Homeland Closed Circuit Security or some such nonsense. At first I thought this was just a clever ploy. You know, how I used to have an NRA sticker on my car even though I’m not a member: Just to keep the bastards from trying. Yet, when I scanned the house sure enough, my neighbor – who lives in the crappiest little house around – has security cameras all over his house. And the worse part: One of them is trained right on my door. This guy is watching me.

Now, I’m a simple, honest guy. I’ve nothing to hide. Still, I don’t like the idea of being watched by some stranger who won’t even return a simple hey-wassup head nod. I can just picture him, sitting in ragged underwear in his command center, watching me come and go. I know this is what it’s like. I just do. Whenever I picture someone spying on me they’re in their underwear, and no, I don’t think that reflects more on me than the other guy. Of course, there is the even more unsettling question of what this guy in this rundown house is hiding, but I prefer not even to consider this for fear of actually finding out.

I don’t know what to do. I’ve already begun recognizing the cameras. I wave. I give a big thumbs up. I pull up the edge of my shirt just a tad to tease him with my body. You know, innocent stuff. I think I want to move onto bigger stunts. I want this guy to see me bringing in and out of my home the strangest stuff imaginable. I want to get inside this guys head. I want him to think I’m the odd one. I want to bring increasingly large objects out of my apartment. I want to be constantly unloading couches. I want to pull out couch after couch. The trick being that – somehow – I make it so he can never see me bring the couches into my apartment. I want my apartment to be a magical wonderland to him, a bottomless well of over sized furniture. After, I am done with the furniture, I shall move on to odder objects: Most likely animals. At first, I’ll be seen carrying out mice and gerbils. Eventually, I’ll be leading out horses. Finally, a herd of American Buffalo will emerge from my apartment. That should freak out my neighbor sufficiently.

So, if anyone knows where a man can acquire a herd of buffalo, give me a call.


Monday, July 24, 2006

War of the Stars!

In "Clash of the Titans," Perseus goes out of his way to battle the mythological monsters of Greek culture. In "Maximum Overdrive," we see Emilio Estevez battling a truck that comes alive. In "Red Dawn" we witness Patrick Swayze battling Communists who invade mid-western America. These are great examples of two polar opposite groups of people (or objects or monsters) that must face each other on terms set by one of the parties.

Yet there is one "clash" that overshadows all the rest in terms of importance, magnitude, and excitement. I'm not talking about any Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Matrix mumbo-jumbo. I'm not even talking about Woody Allen.

I'm talking about War of the Stars.

Back in the 1980's, there was a line of VHS sports specials hosted by none other than Dick Van Patten (who isn't nearly as popular as Dick Van Dyke, surprisingly). The premise of the show was simple: famous athletes face off against Hollywood actors in the sport of that respective athlete. Sound terribly one-sided? It is. Sound extremely amazing? It's not. But this specific episode that I saw seemed to hold a bit of potential: Michael Jordan vs. The Sheens. At first I thought I was going to see Air Jordan facing off against from 50's doo-wop quartet, but it turned out to just be Charlie and Martin.

The whole thing sort of feels like a shlocky home video, starting with some nice star-wipes and highlights from past "Hollywood vs Sports" match-ups. I had no idea that there was such a rivalry building up between popular actors and athletes; these two elite groups of individuals were having their own little Cold War for centuries, just like the great nations of the world. I think it's safe to attribute this series as the trailblazer that tore down that tense wall, paving the way for a number of celebrity golf outings and "Space Jam." Before "War of the Stars" you rarely saw any crossover between the two worlds. Now, thanks to the diligent work of the Sheens and Michael Jordan, this bridge has been built.

[To the keen reader, you would have noticed that my examples above all featured the Sheens in some way or another. Emilio Estevez (son of Martin Sheen) stars in "Maximum Overdrive," Charlie Sheen co-stars in "Red Dawn," and I think Martin Sheen played the cyclops in "Clash of the Titans." Maybe.]

The "war" went down like this. First, they trash talk each other a bit, all the while Dick Van Patten makes inappropriate "Apocalypse Now" and "Platoon" puns. The Sheens talk about why they like to use the name Sheen instead of Estevez, further separating their relative, and superior actor, Joe Estevez. Michael Jordan talks about how much he likes the Sheens' movies, and how he doesn't think driving a 1980-something VW GTI is goofy.

After they're finishing ripping each other apart with words, the actual match-up begins. The whole event is somehow held in a highschool gymnasium (which I find near impossible, given the tremendous build-up and demand that this war probably had.) Just like the Sega classic "Jordan vs. Bird," they face off in three small events. First, there is a slam dunk competition. Jordan easily defeats the Sheens, considering that, when on the court, they look like a couple of small, angsty gremlins. Their hair is all fuzzy, their legs are squatted, and Charlie has a weird tattoo on his arm. Charlie has a very innocent look to him--since this was before his "get drunk and beat women" days. But, suffice it to say, the two of them can't dunk for crap. The second task they face off in is a foul shooting contest. It's both the Sheens (their scores combined!) against Jordan. While it may appear as if Jordan is going to sweep the competition, the Sheens pull out a close one. The whole event rests on the shoulders of the 2 on 1 half-court game. It was just such a thrilling exercise in machismo and athleticism that I really don't even remember who won! I'm pretty sure it was the Sheens though... considering that they're still working today and Michael isn't, I can say that I'm fairly certain the won.

And so after the dust settled, the three shook hands and went their separate ways. The world had survived the war, unlike when Aliens fight Predators. Patten somehow managed to survive the whole thing and go on to referee a boxing match between Lennox Lewis and Billy Baldwin.

Friday, July 21, 2006

10,000 Lakes!

So the other day I was driving around like a crazy person when I saw a license plate for Minnesota. Aside from my saying to myself "Minnesota rocks!", I took a good close look at what it said on their plate: Land of 10,000 Lakes. Apparently there are 10,000 lakes in that wild and wonderful state, and while I've yet to met a man who can name them all, I took the time to figure out what a bunch of other states of 10,000 of.

While not every state has 10,000 good, or politically correct, things... most have 10,000 of something.

Alaska - 10,000 caribou mating under government protection
Arizona - 10,000 militiamen!
Arkansas - 10,000 Clinton mistresses
California - 10,000 car chases!
Florida - 10,000 legit votes for Buchanan
Idaho - 10, 000 Mr. & Mrs. Potatoheads in the phonebook
Iowa - 10,000 straw polls daily!
Louisiana - 10,000 buses that we don't use, even for emergencies!
Maine - 10,000 Lobstas!
Massachusetts - 10,000 Republicans!
Minnesota - That's right, suckers... 10,000 lakes.
Montana - 10,000 residents... total!
Nevada - 10,000 drunken mistakes/hr.
New Hampshire - 10,000 State Slogans!
New Jersey - 10,000 people wishing they lived in New York
New Mexico - 10,000 really funny stereotypes jokes!
New York - 10,000 hobos/park!
North Dakota - 10,000 people know we're a state!
Ohio - 10,000 fires in one river!
Pennsylvania - 10,000 amish!
Rhode Island _ 10,000 inches long!
South Dakota - 10,000 people think we're the same as North Dakota!
Texas - 10,000 everything!
Utah - 10,000 wives!
Vermont - 10,000 Phish concerts!
Virginia - 10,000 lovers!
Washington - 10,000 Starbucks!
West Virginia - 10,000 pots hanging on 5,000 porches!
Wyoming - 10,000 people think we don't exist!