Archive for May, 2010

26
May
10

you guys are like my children, except there are only nine of you, and you all have my real phone number

The change occurring within Johnny first manifested itself in a bewildered facial expression when presented with a familiar request, but it had been a long time in the making. And while the timing of the confrontation between opposing forces within his soul may not have been to his liking (of all places, the All Valley Karate tournament he had been preparing for all year?), he knew he was helpless to choose when this inner conflict would inevitably rise to the surface.

“Sweep the leg,” his sensei had directed him, and the doubt that crossed Johnny’s face was enough to cause the teacher to reiterate the demand: “Do you have a problem with that?” Having surprised even himself with this whiff of disobedience, Johnny collected himself after this brief lapse in what had heretofore been an unbroken lifelong streak of following authority like the good soldier that he was, and though he fell back in line this time, the facade that was his life had already begun to crumble. He could never go back to his old self.

Like a factory, the culture he was a part of had been churning out young men like him for generations. It was all he knew, despite his growing discomfort with the inevitable result. He’d entered into his teenage years as a wide-eyed, towheaded scamp with endless hopes, dreams and possibilities, but if he allowed the process to continue uninterrupted, Johnny knew he would finally be spit out the other end his senior year as just another Encino country club asshole, whose only joy came from harassing the have-nots who dared cross into his turf from Reseda.

Where this new self-awareness came from, he didn’t know, though he theorized it was the shock of Ali breaking up with him sophomore year that sent him into this period of self-examination. The questions gnawed at him from the inside out, threatening to break through the sneering-badass exterior he had carefully cultivated to shield himself from the constant pressure that accompanied his family’s wealth and status. Despite his attempts to quiet them with a renewed devotion to karate (he had begun to suspect that his aptitude at the rote muscle memorization brought on by the many repetitions of practice was derived from the same skill set that had enabled his climb to the upper tiers of his school’s social structure, an ascent which had required its own rites of robotic conformity), the doubts only grew in their persistence, beginning like a teakettle screaming in a faraway room, the sound increasing in intensity as he got closer to its source within his being, becoming more and more difficult to ignore until he could hear nothing else, not even Kreese’s angry exhortations in the dojo.

Properly chastened by his loss in the tournament’s final round, Johnny spent the next morning icing his chin while thumbing through his father’s Rolodex, until he found the number he was looking for: that of a plastic surgeon in Glendale, who made several excursions each year to developing nations, where he would work tirelessly to provide medical assistance to poverty-stricken villagers who otherwise had no access to even the modest technology and medical expertise needed to keep their most vulnerable people from falling victim to otherwise preventable diseases. Over the phone, Johnny announced his availability for the next medical mission, wherever it may be.

It was that summer in Guatemala that Johnny found his life’s true calling. The richly rewarding work of helping others had lit a fire within him. The memories he made there, combined with the dream of more trips to follow in the future, sustained him through the next seven years of school once he returned to the States, graduating near the top of his med school class.

Perhaps it was his youthful interest in martial arts that piqued Johnny’s elevated pleasure when the Doctors Without Borders program would send him to Asian countries. As a man nearing 40, though, he was growing weary from two decades of near-constant travel, and had begun to entertain thoughts of settling down, maybe even getting married. He had even started sentimentally making note of the many “lasts” (last sunrise over Mount Gusuku, last time bathing in the Hiji River) during a mission to Okinawa. He went into a tavern one night to comfort himself with a drink, after a particularly harrowing experience that day with a feverish child brought in by a distraught mother from the rural margins of civilization, in this land whose beauty was exceeded only by its lethality. He looked up from his hot cup of sake, and his eyes met those of the rarest of sights in these parts: a fellow Westerner. And not only that: a further spark of recognition made Johnny’s heart race and he addressed the man sitting across from him:

“Daniel Larusso?”

It was him! The two spoke for hours, and Johnny offered his condolences when Daniel revealed that had come here a few days ago to bury his mentor, Mr. Miyagi, in his homeland. When it came time for the tavern to close, the two walked side by side on their way out. Then, out of nowhere, Johnny suckerpunched Daniel, sending him spinning to the ground. Poor dummy had no idea it was coming. As Johnny stood over Daniel’s unconscious body in the street, the moonlight illuminated a trickle of blood seeping from his supine rival’s nose, and he reflected on how there was something really annoying about that guy’s voice that had just always gotten to him.

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19
May
10

apartment pupil

Listen, Sam, I’ve done a lot of different acts during my long career as a vaudeville performer. From the time I started out in show business as a 6 year-old juggler of flaming scimitars in a traveling medicine show, I’ve never turned down an idea for an act outright without at least trying it first, but I think you’ve overstepped your bounds here with this request.

My credentials as a seasoned professional are unquestioned, but I know when an act is beneath the little that remains of my human dignity, which after decades in show business is a part of my psyche that I had begun to think of as largely vestigial, right up until the moment you walked into my trailer to discuss this latest show idea with me. And bear in mind, Sam, that these words are being spoken by a man who once spent nine months training an actual working flea circus out of his pubic lice.

For the sake of the show, I’ve suffered it all without complaint, gladly putting myself in harm’s way so that people could come and forget their troubles for a while. No doubt you recall the time I grew my nose hair out super long and used it to play Scott Joplin songs on the piano while being lowered into a glass tank filled with poisonous snakes. Or my sold-out run of ribald, tawdry shows in which I played popular war hymns of the day on a homemade pan flute at a virtuoso level as fire ants ate away at the cotton-candy tuxedo I was wearing to reveal a fig leaf so small as to leave no doubt about the paltry size of my manhood. Of course, I don’t even need to mention my mercifully short stint as one half of the comedy duo Awful & Rancid, whose jokes fell so flat that I finally had to resort to some extemporaneous slapstick humor, rolling around naked in a pile of mousetraps just to keep the audience from rising up and drowning us in the river. Yessir, I’ve made a spectacle of myself on every stage from one coast to the other, all for the reward of an uneasy night’s rest atop a smattering of elephant urine-dampened hay in a boxcar bound for the next rube-infested hamlet.

Oh, if I only had my wasted youth back to undo the damage I have wrought to my own esteem over the years! I ran away from home foolishly seeking adventure, eschewing the luxurious life I had been leading as the tiny-sailor-suit-wearing, oversized-lollipop-wielding only child of a wealthy industrialist, and to what end? Though the roar of the crowd has buoyed me through difficult times in the past, its effectiveness as a balm has lessened considerably over time, and I have come to continually regret the decisions that have led me to a few too many of the indignities of road life, including the recent brutal killing of a squirrel who had won the last slice of pizza from me fair and square in a game of five-card stud.

I may be a toothless illiterate, Sam, but I have my pride, and this level of act just won’t cut it anymore. I’ve earned the right to a little editorial oversight. It’s not like I haven’t been a loyal soldier; I didn’t even flinch when you handed me that ventriloquist act script that called for the dummy to stab me in the leg with a pencil.

12
May
10

i should probably call you ms. jackson, because i am definitely nasty

Dear Mr. Green,

We apologize for not sending this letter sooner. As you can no doubt tell by the pithy feel-good phrase printed underneath our logo on this letterhead, we here at Surechoke Brand Autoerotic Asphyxiation Nooses International strive to have a good working relationship with the community affected by our numerous business activities. It is in that spirit that we are acknowledging the presence of the 800 square-foot, extremely brightly lit billboard we recently erected outside your bedroom window.

It has come to our attention that our billboard has flooded your domicile with near-blinding light. In fact, our covert investigations department has taken the liberty of procuring several of your recent electricity bills, showing that your power consumption has greatly declined since our billboard was put up. It hardly seems fair that you would see such a benefit of our business ventures without sharing in the cost, therefore we have attached an invoice for what our accountants estimate to be your share of the electricity required to illuminate not only our billboard, but your residence.

Furthermore, our research turned up another issue, that of the presence of several of our competitors’ products in your apartment, in plain view to anyone using simple infrared binoculars. Not only are the products in question of inferior quality, but they also significantly devalue the adjacent advertising space in which you are now a partner. Attached is a cease-and-desist order from our attorneys mandating the immediate removal of these products from your residence. It is in your interest, not only as a partner of Surechoke Brand Autoerotic Asphyxiation Nooses International, but as a person who is presumably fond of walking without the assistance of a cane, to stop undermining our hard-earned, rightful place at the apex of the global market for autoerotic asphyxiation nooses.

Your prompt attention to these matters is appreciated.

05
May
10

back in the day, ‘the itsy-bitsy spider’ was my jam

Well, readers, warm weather is upon us and it’s finally time to put away those winter coats and dust off those Spuds MacKenzie tank tops for another season of outdoor fun! At first glance, I may not seem like the most qualified person to post summer drink recipes on his blog, since my definition of a quiet evening with a bottle of white usually involves locking myself in the storm cellar so my mom can’t hear me sniffing Liquid Paper. Of course, any of the following recipes is great for my favorite summer pastime: going to that grocery store by the college with your sunglasses on to look at all the hot girls, then getting all depressed because you know you can’t have any of them, even on their worst day. Enjoy!

Sex in a Trans Am

Replace contents of 20-ounce plastic 7up bottle with tequila brand of your choice. Great for locations where public drinking is frowned upon, like hospitals or public libraries.

the Cape Canaveral

Mix one part cranberry juice to one part vodka. Stir in one half tab lysergic acid diethylamide. Drink in one gulp, cancel all appointments for next 6 hours.

Employee of the Month

At 10:00am, start looking frantically in your desk drawers for an unspecified item. Tell your co-workers you have to go get something out of the car, then walk out to the parking lot, open the trunk of your car and pull out a few beers. Get into the car and drink them hot while listening to the local classic rock station. Important: chew several pieces of Dentyne Ice Arctic Chill brand sugarless gum before returning to work.

Four and Four

Mix four oz. Vicks formula 44 brand cough syrup with four Sominex sleeping tablets. Chase with one half-bottle of Lavoris brand cinnamon mouthwash. Substitute ingredients depending on what’s in the medicine cabinet of the house you’ve broken into.