Archive Page 2

25
Dec
13

the greatest hyperbole of all time

My publishing career got off to an inauspicious start in the fourth grade, when I spent two months collecting wallet-size photos from all my classmates so I would have the complete set before the yearbook came out. The project, in which the accumulated pictures were assembled and pasted in a spiral notebook, was a success of sorts, with the only entry marred by a “photo not available”-emblazoned silhouette being the school nurse Mrs. Ruhl, who would prove to be a thorn in my side many other times before my graduation to junior high. A follow-up attempt in the eighth grade was met with not nearly as much cooperation, and I soon abandoned the project, resigning myself to the institutional dreariness of a yearbook whose glossy pages would be adorned with impersonal, half-hearted wishes from my compatriots to “have a kick ass summer.” I did so, but only out of a sense of obligation.     

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18
Dec
13

ladies love a man in uniform so i been wearing the same clothes for a week

“You have a keen eye for beauty,” the merchant said, framing his hands artfully around the medallion I had been inspecting. A sudden gust of wind blew across the marketplace, and he raised his billowy sleeve to shield his good eye from the accompanying blast of sand before continuing his sales pitch. “Many have asked me its price, but I have been waiting for a buyer who could properly appreciate its rare delights.” In all my years of collecting, I had never seen anything like it. The exquisitely crafted ceremonial eagle at the piece’s center stared into my soul. It wasn’t until I had got it home stateside that I began to notice the changes. Several financial ventures I had a stake in suddenly became staggeringly profitable upon my return, a development which coincided with an abrupt change in behavior among my menagerie of exotic birds. They became quite agitated in my presence, only calming down when the staff moved their cages to another wing of the house. Most noticeably, I found I had been blessed and cursed with the ability to see people’s ultimate potential- what they could have done in their lives unhindered by bad fortune, illness, poverty, poor decisions, or other limitations. Haunted by every encounter with pizza delivery guys that could have been Supreme Court justices or would-be astronaut pedicurists, I soon cloistered myself in my chambers, unable to engage with more than a few attendants.

11
Dec
13

the greatest trick god ever pulled was inventing the platypus to fool the world into thinking He had a sense of humor

How familiar is Mick Jagger with the catalogs of lesser classic rock artists? Back in the 1970s, did he feel any need to keep up with anyone other than his direct competitors in the Bowie/Who/former-Beatle stratosphere? When his assistant would deliver Mick’s weekly slew of swag (back before we had a word for swag), was a freshly pressed vinyl copy of Foghat’s “Fool for the City” in the basket, nestled somewhere between a pair of trousers custom tailored by a then-unknown Gianni Versace and a kilo of complimentary cocaine? Did he get introduced at parties to Mark Farner, then have to nod courteously and pretend to know who Grand Funk Railroad was? How many hits did ZZ Top have to record before Mick found it necessary to dig deep into their discography to discover an altogether different track called “Brown Sugar,” one less overtly racist and sexist- but no less jammin’- than the Stones’ 1971 classic? Has Mick Jagger ever sat in a Camaro? Drank beer straight out of the can? Thousands of nights Mick Jagger has spent in hotel rooms- surely there exists some infinitesimal percentage of those nights he has spent flipping through the cable channels: has he ever seen a rerun of WKRP? Did he find Dr. Johnny Fever cool or a little bit pathetic? “I think Howard Hesseman intends him to be both, actually,” Mick says to Mark Farner at a party. “Say, have you met Dr. Joyce Brothers? I think you’d get on smashingly. Now let me leave you two alone so you can get to know each other.”

04
Dec
13

what if i don’t want to sing songs about shaking my booty anymore

I suppressed a cringe as my fingers carefully parted the edges of the poinsettia-festooned wrapping paper to reveal the gift inside. The color, a decidedly unfashionable beige hue, was not one I would have chosen, and the size would likely have been too small had I received it the year previous. My disappointment, however, was overshadowed by guilt as I imagined Grandmother having taken such care to select it, even hand-lettering the attached note in her unsteady calligraphy. If this was to be her last Christmas with us, as the doctors had been sure, we all had a role to play in showing her our appreciation. “Try it out!” someone exhorted in a voice thick from brandy-touched egg nog, negating any possibility that I might later quietly exchange it for something more suited to my taste. Politely I feigned excitement as I pushed the vibrator’s switch to the highest speed setting and vigorously worked my hole as the entire family watched.

05
Dec
12

the only toiletry you really need is gum

As a budding connoisseur of the funny pages, I came to relate most closely to characters that either were known almost exclusively by a nickname, or were never seen without their trademark hat. The otherwordly elation I felt when these two elements converged every time Jughead appeared in the pages of Archie carried me through some difficult times as a kid. The universes these characters inhabited, in which Sluggo could wear a hat in class, or it could be considered perfectly normal for professional educators to address one of their pupils as “Bazooka Joe,” seemed like much more interesting places than the one in which I lived, where I was one of three kids in my class with the same first name, and the closest I ever came to attaining a nickname was every third or fourth day when my teacher picked a student from class to bring a folder containing that night’s homework to “Jeff in the nurse’s office.” Though the dress codes observed by every school in the real world made it unlikely that I would ever achieve my dream of being unrecognizable without my signature propellor beanie or logoless ballcap, I reached for the brass ring of nickname glory once my chance presented itself at computer camp the summer before I was to begin sixth grade at a new school in a new town. We stayed in the dorms at the college, where prior to arrival our counselors had taped name tags to the foot of each bed to preemptively avert disputes over bunk placement. They assigned everyone a nickname, despite never having met any of us. Most of the kids’ nicknames were elaborately wrought works of art, like Jerome “the Magnificent Serpent King” Haddox or Clem “22nd Century Firelord” Kitsko, but me they dubbed “Doc.” By the third day of camp the nickname experiment had proved to be a real pain and everyone had given up on it. I was the only one still trying to make “Doc” work. On the first day of school a month later, my first period math teacher passed out an information card for us each to fill out, and after writing my given name in the first blank, I hesitated for a second at the next blank, pausing to touch my eraser to my chin as I contemplated the typewritten “Name you’d like to be called” that preceded it before penciling in “Doc.” Within a few minutes of handing it in I felt my stomach start to clench up, but I had gone too far to turn back now.

28
Nov
12

with your wealth and my greed we could rule the world

Enos? Yeah, he’s been in the neighborhood a long time. Settled here after spending some years restlessly roaming the country after he got out of the Army in 73. Arkansas hadn’t felt like home anymore when he got back, so he tried San Diego, having remembered once hearing a Corpsman say that the weather there was always perfect. The guy was right; it was a comfortable place to nearly die a couple more times before he finally got his union card, dried out, and went from one out-of-state job to another for a while, searching. He didn’t think he was going to be here that long, but now every parking space along Mayberry Street, Sobel Avenue, and Arcadian Blvd has the exact same stains; the oil spot five inches southeast of the one made by transmission fluid, from his old green Buick Regal. The slim man looks across the street and bemusedly shakes his head at the sight of the gray cat that nightly shows his face at three different back doorsteps for a meal. They’ve all got different names for him. Two years retired, Enos finally has time to notice that sort of thing now. He still keeps busy, but serving as an unofficial handyman for his neighbors doesn’t fill every day, so he watches. It catches his attention nowadays when they put up different magazines on the newsstand on the way to the hardware store. Little changes. Fresh bus stop ads arrive every few months from some inexhaustible supply somewhere, so bright those first couple weeks before the sun gets to them. Years past, they used to just leave them up there till they blew away. Somebody bought the building where he lives, and they’ve been repainting the lobby. Fixing the elevator. Outfitting the vacant units with new refrigerators, all to the neglect of the leaky faucets, closet light strings, and window latches of the folks he’s been nodding to in the stairwell nearly half his life. Kids he’s watched grow up, sometimes leaving, sometimes coming back. New stores coming up. The storefront real estate office working out of the place where Nestor’s grocery used to be has a window full of flyers for apartments in Sylvan Heights, a neighborhood he’s never heard of, though he recognizes the addresses as being right down his block. This morning he turns and enters the park and follows a path deep into the woods, past even the condom wrappers, to fill a sketch pad with pencil drawings of fungus growing on trees.

21
Nov
12

people will say we’re in lovecraft

The cold sweats. The trembling knees. That terror that fills your heart as you feel their eyes upon you. Oh god, it’s happening again, isn’t it? Not so fast, friend; it doesn’t have to be this way anymore. I’m Gilroy Barnett, and I’m here to give you the tools to take back control of your life. Don’t get me wrong: our nation’s centuries-old love affair with petting zoos is one of the things that made us a great civilization, but as petting zoos have played a rapidly increasing role in our social customs and decorums the last few years, dizzying advances in petting zoo techniques and etiquette have left many otherwise productive citizens struggling to keep up with their peers. And darn it, you deserve better. So don’t get passed over for that big promotion again just because you couldn’t properly handle a rabbit at last year’s office holiday party. My no-nonsense, tough love approach to petting zoo coaching will guarantee results, provided you’re strong enough to handle getting constantly screamed at for five eight-hour sessions before I spend the sixth and final session building you back up. Get the confidence you need to pet the shit out of all the animals- yes, even geese. Stroke, caress, and nuzzle a yearling lamb with the sophisticated, assured air of a seasoned professional. Get their gross barnyard smell all over your clothes and act like it doesn’t bother you. Stroll breezily through your high school reunion free at last of the crippling fear that you’re going to accidentally step on a bunch of baby chicks. Stare boldly into the fucked up Kermit the Frog eyes of a Toggenburg goat as he eats pellets from your hand with his fucking scary teeth. By the time you’ve completed our course, you’ll be so comfortable around disgusting, dirt-caked piglets that you won’t even feel the need to use the hand sanitizer when going from the petting zoo at your niece’s wedding reception to the buffet table. With my help, you’ll never again spend the car ride home from a swank dinner party tearfully thinking up awesome comebacks for the smartass that made fun of the little scream you let out when that Muscovy duck came out of nowhere to startle you with its horrible mutant turkey face. Next time, toss that jerkwad your car keys and make him do the driving- you’re gonna need the backseat to make out with all the attractive people you impressed by keeping your shit together around some roosters.