Sunday, April 29, 2007

Grand Rapids, Land of a Lost Youth

Before I launch yet another brilliant post, I must propose a "Google-off" between the fair cities of Boise, Idaho and Grand Rapids, Michigan.

I went searching for a good image of Grand Rapids on Google Images. I searched and searched....and searched. They had lots of wonderful little screenshots of maps--here's East GR; here's Hudsonville, etc. They had a number of pictures depicting Mel Trotter's gravesite. They had lots of pictures of really sketchy looking people claiming GR as their motherland. I had to go all the way to page 12 (that's about 11 "o's" in the Goooooooogle) to find this lovely shot of the river and all the lights of downtown.

Hmmmph! Type in Boise, ID and you get some cool stuff right on the first page. So, anyway, give it a whirl if ye dare.

I've decided (well, strictly speaking, my lovely wife decided) that it's time for a triumphant return visit to Grand Rapids. I invite all of you to come see us. We'll be staying somewhere luxurious. Probably the Super 8 out on the outskirts of Sparta. Clear your calendars for the week surrounding July 4th.

As I contemplate a return to your country, my mind is crowded with memories. I lived through all the human emotions there--hope, enthusiasm, despair, fear, dread, love, anger, elation, and a burning desire for IHOP. I gained a few things in GR--3 lovely children, some forehead wrinkles and gray hairs. I lost my youth, and, frankly, I'm pretty peeved by that.

In an effort to restore the years that the locusts have eaten, I am proposing a bacchanal of Roman porportions. Here's how I see it:

Day One: We meet in front of the Van Andel Arena. I arrive by stretch Humvee limousine. The arrangement is that I am luxuriating on the roof of this prestigious vehicle while (shivering--or sweating depending upon the gods of weather) scantily clad swimsuit models ply me with strawberries, whipped cream and Cheez Whiz.

Upon arriving, I am lifted on to the back of a well groomed giraffe and take a couple of elegant turns around the arena grounds while a gloriously turned-out band plays a specially composed anthem (Stupit, I think you are capable of arranging this...thanks in advance) in my honor. "Jacob, He's So Great, We Can't Believe He's Back In Town"...something like that.

After you all greet me with respect and adoration, we jump into the limo and, without regard to potholes, speed down to Charley's Crab for a lovely champagne brunch. After this feast, I flamboyantly produce an obscenely large wad of $100's from my ostrich skin money belt and scatter them with disdain over the wreckage of our tables. The gorgeous waitresses fight madly over the loot and all somehow end up naked and covered with whipped cream and rose petals.

We are then picked up in the parking lot by a gleaming helicopter and lift off majestically through the funky odors of downtown GR. We spend most of the morning taking spins over the city and picking out the homes or offices of those who have wronged us. When we discover one, we hover low and take turns dropping bags of dog poop strategically so they'll step in them.

In the early afternoon, we land on the lacrosse field of East Grand Rapids. Several brawny special security types use laser welding torches to cut down sections of the fence so we can pass unimpeded. We stroll across to Rose's Restaurant and demand to take over the whole deck by the edge of Reed Lake. Several patrons demure and our security types throw them and their lunches into the lake.

We all laugh and, as they mill about soggily, try to hit them with balled-up dollar bills wrapped around empty escargot shells.

We gorge ourselves and shoot highly illegal fireworks out over the lake. Several sail boats are hit and burn elegantly while their owners swim back to shore.

We helicopter back to the Amway Grand Plaza and clean up with a skinny dip in their rooftop pool. After a long nap, we awaken at about 6:30 pm and don our most sartorially splendid party duds for a night on the town.

Our progress through the town that night is chronicled by members of the press and television media. I wish I had more space and time to describe it, but the scenes are so vivid, so effervescently hedonistic, and so irresponsibly evil that this blog would be forced by the FCC to shut down were I to fully tell the story.

Day Two: Jail

Day Three: Jail

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Adventures of Captain Baggywrinkle

Although difficult to be the most evil pirate on the Spanish Main, Captain Argus Baggywrinkle knew it was his calling. He took the responsibility seriously and so, when the lookout announced the sighting of a lone merchant ship, he gave the order to close.

“What colors she be flyin’?” he shouted up to the crow’s nest.

“Caw,” answered the crow, and was promptly backhanded by the lookout for its impertinence.

“The colors of home, sir,” the lookout said. “Do ye be wantin’ to attack an English vessel?”

It was, indeed, a moral dilemma and one which required much thought. “Absolutely,” said Baggywrinkle. “How am I to maintain me reputation if I show mercy?”

“Excellent point, Captain,” shouted the lookout. He raised the spy glass again. “She’s spotted us, sir! She’s turnin' to starboard. It looks like she’s goin’ to make a run for it!”

“Ha!” said Baggywrinkle and, liking the sound, repeated himself. “Ha! They shan’t escape me. I be Argus Baggywrinkle! Me name strikes terror into the heart of even the most hardened seaman. We shall capture the ship, force its crew to stroll the plank, and then bask in the glory of our ill-botten gooty!”

“You mean, ‘ill-gotten booty,’ sir,” said a voice from over his left shoulder. It was the first mate and best friend to the captain, Evil Edwin Malloy.

Baggywrinkle shrugged. “That’s what I said, ‘ill-booten gotty.’”

Edwin sighed. “No. No. Nononononononononono. You said--”

Just then something whizzed overhead and they heard the crashing sound of a cannon firing. Both pirates dropped to the deck and covered their heads with their hands.

“They be shootin’ at us!” Baggywrinkle said, incensed. He called up to the lookout. “Any casualties?”

“Just the crow, sir. It sustained a direct hit.”

“And?” As if in answer, a few black feathers drifted down and landed on the deck. “Well, that merchant’s got a lot o’ nerve, firin’ on us. Don’t they know who we be?”

“They’ve turned back toward us, sir,” reported the lookout. “And they’ve run up a new flag. They be pirates!”

“Well, of all the dirty tricks…” Baggywrinkle struggled to his feet and picked a feather out of his ear. “They just wanted us to chase ‘em. Who be it?”

“I don’t recognize the flag, Captain.”

“What’s it look like?”

“It’s got a black background and the white silhouette of a wombat in the center.”

“A wombat!” Argus turned to Edwin. “I know that flag. It belongs to me brother!”


“The same.”

Edwin looked relieved. “Ah, well, then it’s settled! As soon as he realizes it’s you, we can…”

Baggywrinkle glowered at the first mate. “I hates me brother.”


“And Wilbur hates me.”


“Tighten yer garters and sharpen yer cutlass, mate, for it’s a battle we’re to be havin’!”

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Middle of Evil


A large, hulking figure appeared in the doorway, the sheer size of the man blocking the wistful rays of a setting sun. The man paused and looked slowly around the room, his eyes examining each tavern patron carefully, as if seeking evidence of guilt on their untidy faces.

All conversation died and silence enveloped the room. The Tavern of the Displeased Lemur was a frequent watering hole for many tough and unruly men, but the sight of the newcomer censored even the most churlish of occupants. At last, the barkeeper spoke up in a trembling voice.

“May I help you, sir?”

The visitor didn’t speak immediately, but stepped purposefully into the room and closed the door behind him. Then he turned to the speaker.

“Aye,” he said, his high-pitched voice and strong Belgian accent coming as something of a surprise. “Aye and that you may.” He moved to the bar and leaned closer to the bartender. He spoke again, this time in little more than a whisper. “Do you be servin’ waffles?”

The terrified bartender nodded mutely and walked stiffly into the kitchen to fetch the order.

“And a goblet of milk, if you have it,” the giant shouted. He looked around the room, an expression of happy anticipation on his wide face. “I does love me waffles and milk.”

The other customers tried to act casual and went back to their drinking, while a few groups even resumed their discussions, but there was a pall over the company. At length, the stranger spoke again, casually.

“I’m looking for a stranger,” he said in his sing-song voice. “Hast any of you seen him?”

“You’re the only stranger here,” another man said, before quickly raising both palms outward. “No offense,” he added.

“None taken,” assured the newcomer, pushing back his tunic to reveal the hilt of a colossal sword. “What’s your name, smartass?”


“Well, Philip,” the stranger said, his pronunciation of the name sounding a lot like “Flip,” “I don’t like a’bein’ taunted.”

“Oh, I wasn’t--”

“Quiet, swine!” the giant shrieked, coming to his leather-clad feet and drawing his sword all in the same motion.

He raised the weapon and was just preparing to strike a killing blow, when the final rays of the sun were suddenly blotted out and replaced by a piercing shriek that ripped the air like thunder.

The trees began swaying as if buffeted by a hurricane and a sense of evil rushed over the entire countryside. Church bells, although they should have been ringing madly in the violent wind, were silent. Bibles, laid open in devotion, were slammed shut by the gale, and the pious, virtuous vicar swore under his breath. All that was good and right was momentarily suspended, as the vicious darkness passed overhead.

Slowly, the black veil gathered itself and began focusing its intensity on the Tavern of the Displeased Lemur. The occupants began quarreling and the barkeeper brutally smeared mayonnaise on the stranger’s order of waffles and then laughed maniacally.

The giant listened intently as the shriek died away into a low howl of evil. His face tightened, not in fear exactly, but rather apprehensive anticipation.

“It is the mighty dragon,” he said quietly. “He has found me at last.”

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Mexico...I cain't quit you

It was a fine evening. The parrot's eyes glinted over the top of his stylish shades.
"So, anyway," he intoned nasally, "there I was on my catamaran. One foot dragging in the Aegian Sea and the other being licked by this smokin'--I mean at least a 10--supermodel..."
I looked away from the pedantic bird and let my gaze drift across the little bay to where the sun was falling down into the ocean through a light golden haze. It had been a good day.
My hand reached out automatically for the glass but was disappointed by its apparent emptiness. Raicilla. You shouldn't drink it. But once you have started, you shouldn't stop. Especially when you have had your quiet tipple hijacked by a self satisfied bird.
"I say," the parrot said, "you seem preoccupied. I was just telling you that she took off all her clothes and sprang into the sea. I never saw her again, poor thing. Waiter!"
It had been a pleasant day. I did almost nothing. But the sun and salt and cerveza had been busy by the looks of my sunburned chest. I had started to read a book, but fell asleep during the first paragraph. It had slipped off my belly and a small dog defecated upon it. I asked the waiter to take it away with the empty Pacifico bottles. And too bad at that. I like trashy paperbacks with a dubious plot line but lots of illicit and improbable sexual encounters depicted in the most lurid possible way. The dog apparently thought otherwise about such reading. Must have been a Catholic.
"So, I'm the kinda guy who always pays top dollar for everything," said the bird, "I just figure you can count on getting the best value that way..."
Down by the bay, a young couple strolled past holding hands. They were silhouetted against the shining water. A small breeze wafted across our table and riffled the coctail napkins. I settled back against the cushions of my chair and breathed in deeply. It was that peculiarly magical combination of a full stomach, a perfect warm evening and just the right amount of alcohol. If it hadn't been for my uninvited table mate, I'd have never wanted to leave.
"...but then, the Cardinal, he says 'My boy, you are excommunicated' and I say, 'Well, hell with you anyway, father' and he says..."
At this point, I did what I should have all along. I stood up and upended the table onto the pompous bird.
I walked away while he sputtered and wiped his glasses. He was still pontificating harshly to all who would listen (and some who wouldn't) as I faded away across the beach.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

FooDaddy the Navigator

FooDaddy Navigators would be a good name for a tire or a football team. Just thought I'd point that out to those of you who are a little slow on the moron uptake. Huh.

The little gauge that shows how much gasoline is lurking in my fuel tank has the words "Premium Fuel Only" underneath it. The important thing to keep in mind here is man's tendency to see a rule, and whether he follows it or not, he fantasizes about breaking it. Or maybe just bending it.

Like that rule that you're not supposed to put entire potatoes or silverware or shotgun shells in your garbage disposal.

So after years of putting premium in my tank, I decided to not let a little circle on my dashboard boss me around. "Hey. Fuel circle," I said in my gruffest, hairiest voice. "Whatchoo gonna do if'n I puts some regglar in thar?"

It sat on the dash, mockingly inert.

"Roight then. Regglar 'tis then! Yer in fer it, dash circle!"

I was firm.

Armed with a tank of fuel that castrates my car in terms of performance, I've been spending the last couple hours getting lost around
Grand Rapids. It's city driving, so no hot chicks have noticed that my car is slower than usual, and in fact, due (of course) to my stealthy Ninja Cloaking Stealthitude, they haven't noticed me at all. Score one for me.

I'm not much of a navigator, but I did manage to find a joint with an Internet connection that allowed me to write this post. Before you start cheering and strewing me with cupcakes and applause, let me point out that I've been to this place before. It's a barber shop where a friend of mine works.

You know what? Why don't you go ahead and start strewing them cupcakes anyhow. I couldn't find my way out of my apartment's parking lot if it weren't for the signs, so the fact that I was able to locate the shop deserves some confections.

If I were
Columbus searching for trade routes, I would have ended up on Neptune. The crappy side.

Okay. Now I'm going to try to find my way back home before I run out of gas.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Blood and Guts

I don’t know if my swiney colleagues here on the Blog realize it, but our little experiment in mental illness has just passed its one year anniversary. I think this event calls for a celebration of massive proportions.


Okay, that’s enough. Blimey, I’m exhausted! Back in my youth, I could party for hours or at least hold out for a couple more “wheees,” but these days it’s all I can do to tighten the strap on my party hat.

So, FooDaddy has mentioned his purchase of an Xbox 360. I’m ashamed to say I have fallen prey to this beast and played a few rounds of mindless violence, using a very nifty wireless controller. A couple weeks ago, I found myself at Foo’s apartment, playing a game called “Gears of War.” You can play cooperatively against the aliens or you can choose to kill one another. We chose the latter. Soon, I was controlling a large, hulking Army…dude and skulking around a creepy landscape in search of an obviously asthmatic alien, who was being controlled by the Foo himself.

My character had a very large gun (firearm, Pickle Weasel), but I quickly discerned that the caliber of the weapon meant nothing if one is unable to actually aim it. Once, I entered a courtyard to find Foo’s odious alien standing there waiting for me. As I jiggled the controls in an attempt to draw a bead on him, he began running toward me. This, of course, caused me to panic. To make matters worse, the creature withdrew a noisy chainsaw from his back pocket and waved it at me meaningfully. Being the perceptive type, I understood there was a distinct possibility the alien meant to actually use the device on my limbs.

And so he did. I was unable to take aim in time and was soon distributed on the ground in a rather messy fashion.

Oh, the humanity! With all the shooting, stomping, and chainsawing, I’m surprised I didn’t stop on my way home and drop-kick an elderly homeless person. Picture this: you stalk the other player and shoot him until he’s crouched on the ground, bleeding and gasping for breath. Then you walk up to his inert form and:

  • Shoot him in the head,
  • Stomp him in two, or
  • Whip out a chainsaw and finish him off in gory style.

Yes, it was fun.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Space Loaf Quickie

So, faithful time-wasters, I've kept you waiting long enough. You've been wondering for a week now what I meant by "space loaf" and now I'm jolly well going to tell you.

It's actually a shortcut, that phrase. It contains two ideas, or concepts if you will. The first is that if you put the word "space" in front of pretty much anything, it makes it funnier. Hold in your mind an image of a sci-fi movie from the early 50s, where the characters could sound extremely futuristic by saying words like "electromagnetism" or "atomic," thus rendering them Power Rangers cool.

Space kittens
Space rot
Space toast
Space nuggets

You get the idea. What's up to you is how you play the idea in your conversation.

"Holy space kittens, Roger! It's been a long time since I've seen you!"
"Um, not really. Weren't you over just last night?"
"That's a bunch of space rot and you know it."
"Why don't you go home?"

Write that down. Add "space" and it's cooler and funnier. Makes you sound like a genius.

"Loaf," on the other hand, when appended to a word, always makes it less desirable. Mostly when referring to foodstuffs.

Potato loaf
Cake loaf
Kitten loaf
Bum loaf
Nuclear loaf

Again, it's up to you how you apply this knowledge, time-wasters.

"Eeew! What is this stuff? Bat loaf?"
"It's Hamburger Helper. You like it, remember?"
"Space rot! This stuff looks like bum loaf, and I'm not touching it."
"Why are you still here?"

I'm trying to start a trend, so I might validate my existence. Spread it around!

Off into the wild public frontiers I go now. Time to visit the real world for a bit. See how it's getting along. You know. Catch up.