Sunday, March 30, 2008

Generic Quickie

Once (or perhaps twice) upon some span of chronology, there was a place. And in this place lived a person. But this was no ordinary person, for this person had an object!

There were days when the person was out walking around, when other people would come up to him or her and say things about the object.

"That certainly is a nice object!" they would say. "My relative had one just like it once, but something happened to it."

Sometimes the person would travel great distances, with or without his or her object, and participate in activities. These were many and varied, and always resulted in an event.

"Whooee!" the person would say, tired (or perhaps invigorated) by the day's activities. He or she would then retire to a building in which he or she would ingest comestibles. Perhaps he or she would burp afterwards in a satisfied or merely gassy manner.

But none of these times could last, for there was evil afoot. Maybe. This evil perhaps came in the form of another person, and perhaps not. But it was likely another person, and this person was pretty bad. He or she came into the area and gave everyone a hard time.

"Blargh!" the evil person shouted. "I've sent forth my army and such! As we speak, they are stealing and punching, and they will not stop until you all do some stuff for me!" And then the evil person executed a type of malignant laugh. The townspersons gathered in a central building, and all were given the chance to offer suggestions.

"I think we ought to do something about this!" said one person.

"I disagree! I believe we ought to do something totally different!" said another.

"You're both a couple of insults!" said another, standing and facing the crowd. "I think the course of action we should take lies in total opposition to those suggestions offered by that person and the other one in the corner over there," said this standing person, gesturing vaguely.

"Whatever! Whatever! Whatever!" chanted the crowd in a strong emotion of sorts.

Thus it was settled, and some very important things happened. A pivotal role was played by the standing person just mentioned, and the person with the object from the beginning. The object in particular was quite important, serving as a sort of key in a sort of keyhole and triggering a great occurrence.

When it was all over, and the dust settled, all sorts of people calmed down a bit.

"Exclamation! That sure was something!" said a man to the person one day. The person put his or her hand on the object and looked in a direction with an expression on his or her face.

"It sure was!" he or she said.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Revelatory Quickie

Once upon a time, there was an old man who was confused by walnuts. Daily he would pace in front of his picture window holding one pinched between his gnarled thumb and pinky finger and scowl at the nut.

"What the hell?" he would grunt. Sometimes he would also say "These things is hardly natural!" Often he could even be heard to remark, if you were secreted away in his house somewhere within hearing range, "I just don't get it. Why do the llamas love you so?"

Of course the old man could be forgiven for not realizing that llamas didn't really much care for walnuts. The llamas, in their infinite wisdom, prefer linoleum.

One day while the man was pacing and interrogating his daily walnut, he noticed a duck outside on his lawn. He put the walnut down on the sill and approached the duck.

"What's all this?" he inquired sweetly, waving a fist.

"Wonk," stated the duck in the brilliant simplicity his species is known for.

"Seriously. I demand to know the meaning of this. It's February and this is Canada. Shouldn't you be in Barbados or someplace?"

"Wonk," replied the duck, cocking an eyebrow.

"Foolishness!" squeaked the old man, taken aback. He glared stolidly at the impertinent fowl. By golly, he wasn't going to be outmaneuvered by a duck in his own yard! He pointed at the picture window in the front of his house, the walnut clearly visible on the sill.

"That right there's some kinda nut thing, duck. I demand you tell me all you know of it, or I'll boot-kick you right outta my yard."

The duck thought deeply.

The duck scratched at the grass with a webbed foot.

The duck frowned thoughtfully.

Then the duck looked back up at the old man, his face alight with the wisdom of the ages.

"Wonk!" he said.

"Sweet peanut-butter filled Pope cookies!" yelped the old man, as all became clear to him. He patted the duck on the head and scooted back into his house. He picked the walnut up, and using his fist against the solid kitchen table, broke the nut open. He took the pieces out to the duck and gave them to him.

"Wonk," said the appreciative duck, and ate the walnut pieces.

"Now I shall call my family and explain to them this revelatory experience! Perhaps I shall even go on talk shows. You may be in my grass all you want, ducky my lad. If you need me, I'll be inside, being enlightened."

The old man went inside his house and became famous the very next day.

Life Goals Quickie

Once upon a time, there was a little purple squirrel who lived in your ear.

“I want to grow up to be a spaceman!” the little squirrel said one day and set out on a journey. After a few miles, he came upon a magic sparrow.

“I can give you the power of flight if you eat this little pile of twigs and wash my car,” the sparrow promised.

“That's a bunch of duck hockey,” said the squirrel. “Why must you patronize me?”

“Because I'm a hateful, disease-riddled sky pest. So do we have a deal?”

“We sure do!” the squirrel said, stuffing his mouth with twigs and reaching for a bucket of soapy water. After he had completed his tasks, he approached the sparrow and asked for his flight. The sparrow handed him a cheese doodle he'd been chewing on and flew away.

“Yay!” said the squirrel, putting the doodle in his backpack. “Now all I have to do is find NASA headquarters!” He set his tail on fire, and learned an important lesson about trusting sparrows. His parents were very proud.

When he got to NASA headquarters, he went to the front desk and asked for an application. Under the Previous Experience section, he wrote that he had once flown to Saturn and buried some acorns in the rings. The NASA people were very impressed. They had been trying to do that for decades.

"You're hired!" said a chunky man in a space suit. He gave the little squirrel a badge and told him where the bathrooms were. The squirrel went to bed that night in your ear a very happy squirrel indeed.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Reform Story Quickie

Once upon a time, there was this bastard who liked to swear at the elderly. Man, he was a putz. Everybody hated him, the elderly in particular.

So one day they banded together and sold him to the gypsies. He vowed revenge.

“I vow revenge!” he hollered at the crowd.

“Go boil your knuckles!” the elderly hollered back as the gypsies carried the bastard away.

Months went by, and the bastard never returned to the town of the elderly, and they were happy. There were parties and parades and dances with a lot of yelling. The elderly celebrated by eating many beans and drinking many ounces of decaf.

One day, however, the bastard returned. He was dressed in corduroy slacks and was wearing an ascot.

“Hey! What're you doing back here?” pooted an old man.

“Explain yourself, young man!” seconded an old lady.

“I'm reformed,” the bastard explained. “Can I have some beans?”

So the elderly gave him some beans and he danced with them, and everybody lived gassily ever after.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Pants

Balloon Before I get to the subject at hand--perhaps I should say, "at leg." Ha! You can already see how amusing this article is going to be, can't you? I hope your body will be able to handle the physical stress of the fetal position in which you will soon find yourself, as a result of reading this piece of literary hysteria.

Ahem. Before I get to the subject at *snort* hand, I'd like to draw your attention to the included photo. That is a picture of me and a large, mindless object. I'm the one on the right with the quizzical expression. The object to your left is a balloon that was presented to me by my former co-workers.

You see, today was my last day at my old job. Knowing how much use I get out of large, rubber objects, my friends at the old place decided to present this to me as a going-away gift, on the top of which they had scrawled "For Craig: A man-sized balloon." I'm not sure if they were saying I was worthy of a man-sized balloon or if they were referring to me as a man-sized balloon.

Either way, I have to admit that I really like the goofy thing, although it was something of a challenge getting it home. It just fit into the back of my car, after the passenger seat had been scooted all the way up.

The odd looks I got on my trek home were entertaining, as well. The classic double-take: a casual glance in my direction and then the head snaps back around for a second look.

"What the--? Look, honey! A balloon the size of Massachusetts!"

Now about my pants.

I attended a super-conservative Bible college in Illinois for a couple of years. This college required the students to clad themselves daily in dress clothes. For the men, it was dress slacks, dress shirt, and tie. Even a suit was encouraged.

Unlike a lot of people, guys in particular, I've always liked to don the finer apparel. Sadly, at the time this story occurred, I had no clue about the proper clothing etiquette. Frankly, my wardrobe did not consist of any real dress clothes. I had a couple of white shirts for Sundays, but that was about it. So about a week before my departure from home, it was necessary to make a trip to a local department store and stock up.

As I said, I had no working knowledge of dress garments at that time, so I was useless in the selection process. It was thus that I ended up with The Pants.

The Pants were made of some ungodly material closely related to felt. They were fuzzy to the touch and refused to relinquish their hold on wrinkles, no matter how much I ironed them. Sadly, they made up about 50% of my leggings wardrobe, so it was a cinch that I'd have to wear them eventually.

They were uncomfortable. They were itchy. If I'd had a loom and the proper skills, I could have woven a suitable pair of pants from the amount of dust and lint they attracted. They served as a magnet for anything I brushed against. I would leave my dorm room, pants relatively clean of debris, and arrive at class with my legs covered in dirt, twigs, rocks, and even an elderly squirrel that had been too weak to escape The Pants' clutches.

The Pants were really bad for my ego, too. My self-esteem, which at that time was nil, took a quick dive for cover when it saw me haul The Pants out of my closet.

"Oh, good," my self-esteem would say. "He's wearing The Pants. It looks like I'll be able to sleep in today. He won't need me."

Girls would pass me in the hall. No, I mean pass me in the hall...not stopping to chat or ask directions to their next class, because I was wearing The Pants. The closest I got to a girl while wearing The Pants was when I was standing in the Administration Building, engrossed in reading my page of notes from the previous class. After a few minutes, I felt something splashing about my feet and, looking down, saw the cleaning woman pouring water on The Pants. Apparently, they were so covered in leaves and other foliage that she had mistaken me for one of the potted palms.

Needless to say, Christmas Break couldn't come soon enough and, while at home, I was able to communicate the problem to my parents. We arranged for another trip to the local department store and it was at that time I purchased The Shirt. But that's another story.

Friday, March 21, 2008

I'm Officially Old!

For a long time now, I've been telling myself that when I get old, I'm going to be a miserable bastard with a duck-head cane.

As of March 19, I'm one step closer! (wild cheers; dentures tossed skyward in fits of glee)

You see, according to the marketing people, those geniuses who keep track of who buys what, I have exited the "young person" demographic of 18 to 24. I know marketing is a science in and of itself, having college courses and everything, but it seems to me it's only a matter of reading product registrations (for those of you who actually register your products) or following people around in stores.

"So! Whatcha buying?"


"You getting young person stuff? iPods? How about a bag of hair elastics?"

"I'm a dude."

"I see! And what age bracket do you fit into? You gonna go buy some water-soluble fiber powder? Or how about this genuine cowhide baseball?"

"Get away from me."

I'd have fun being a Marketing Person. Especially once I'm really old and crusty.

I'll creep up on people in department stores and begin a period of strategic wheezing. I'll keep this up until they turn around. There they will find me, a stooped and bearded septuagenarian with
a homburg hat holding a clipboard. I'll have a bent-up old cigar behind one fuzzy ear, and I will look at them like they were the biggest wad of monkey-leavings I'd ever seen.

"Gimme a minnit'a yer time," I'll demand in that petulant old man voice of mine.

"Excuse me?" the confused shopper will say, dropping an article of clothing.

"You heard me. Close yer mouth 'afore the hummingbirds get in. I'm a Marketing Person, and I hate you."

"That makes sense, because--"

"That's enougha yer backsass! What the hell you buying today? And how the hell old are you?" I will say, jabbing them with a piece of bamboo I found in the gardening section.

"I'm 34," the stunned person will say. They will give me a truthful answer before they even know they mean to, because I am an old man with a forceful personality and a piece of pointy bamboo.


"Less of it, stumpy," I'll growl, trading my stick for a rusty old fountain pen. I'll scribble some nonsense on my clipboard, and look back up at them with my mistrustful old eyes. "What's that usless poo you're stuffin' in yer shoppin' cart?"

Without waiting for a response, I'll start pawing through their accumulated shoppings. "Crap. Useless. Ooh, got a rash, do ya? More crap. Junk. This stuff'll give ya gas. Even more crap..."

"Hey! Now, wait a--!"

"Cool it. I got what I need, Rashy. You may git."

And then I will shuffle away, laughing dirtily to myself under my breath, as I will invariably execute most of my exits.

Yes, being old is going to be fun. I'm not really looking forward to getting there, but arrival is going to be a party. A slow-motion party with a lot of wheezing.

In order to prepare, I'm having a few medical procedures taken care of on a preemptive basis. I'm having two new carbon-fiber and titanium hips installed. I've taken to wearing ear-hair toupees, and I'm going in next weekend for an operation that is supposed to detect and remove nose polyps, whatever those are. So far my most elaborate project is a big lighted signboard I've mounted on my garage door that keeps track of my...regularity. I'm eating plenty of orange fiber powder straight from the container with a big ol' wooden spoon, too, so my sign feels needed.

I consider any band formed after the year 2000 to consist of "whiny kids" capable of producing nothing but "unarranged clatter" and "barfing sounds".

I still want a faster car and computer and videogame console, but I doubt if I'll ever outgrow my toys. It's more of a cultural thing, my aging. Pretty soon, I'll be totally unbearable! Yay!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Tea and Co-workers

So here I am. Sitting snugly on my couch, laptop whirring and tea cup close at hand. Yes, I drink tea, and before anyone takes this as an uncomplimentary statement concerning my manliness, let me hasten to add that I am drinking it without sugar. That's the true test.

Just the other day, I was in a truck stop down in Jasper, Alabama as a burly trucker stuffed himself through the double doors and sat down at the bar. The upper portion of the stool on which he sat immediately disappeared beneath his bulk, while the base sank into the plank flooring at least two inches. He rubbed his face with a meaty hand, the three-day beard growth rasping loudly against the thick calluses. His plaid shirt was stained, as were the faded jeans. A pair of crusted work boots encased his feet, while a Bass Pro Shop mesh baseball cap sat upon his head at a slight angle. In short, he was a manly man if ever such existed.

"What'll ya have?"

The manly man surveyed the blonde, buxom waitress with mild interest and answered without pause, "I'll have the reg'lar."

"To drank?"

"Make it a cuppa hot tea."


The manly man paused and looked casually around the room once, just to make sure everyone was watching. Once he had their attention, he turned slowly back to the waitress and sneered.

"I take my tea brown," he growled.

I rest my case. If you still think that drinking tea is only for the prancing man, I suggest you take a little jaunt down to Jasper and visit a certain truck stop and take your issues up with a certain trucker. Enjoy your life as a cardboard cutout.

But what I really wanted to talk about today was a certain former coworker of mine. As many of you know, I work for a library system here in Michigan, delivering bags of materials to and from various branch libraries.

Until he recently left the system's employ, I worked with a man named Merbert. Merbert was awesome and I was saddened by the news of his departure. One of the great things about the guy was the ease with which one could carry on a conversation with him, mainly because he wasn't paying any attention to you. This was not because he was rude, but because he was too busy talking himself. And not just any talking, either. Merbert could teach the Democrats a thing or two about filibusters, as I am convinced he invented the technique.

His voice was similar to that of Mortimer Snerd's and contributed appreciably to the entertainment value, as did the fact that every now and then, at seemingly random moments, he would insert bits of crazed laughter into the mix.

It was impossible to keep up with the conversation, if it could be termed as such, because Merbert also had a tendency to change subjects with startling rapidity.

I would see him in the morning as I came in to load my truck for the day's deliveries. "Good morning, Merbert!"

"Why, hello there, buddy!" From there, he would launch into his verbal dissertation and I knew that, from here on out, nothing more would be required from me, save for the occasional nod and appreciative chuckle.

Well, ya know, uh..." Merbert would begin, just warming up before take-off, "we've got a purty big load today, yessir, don't know if I can handle this, it's gonna be hard on my old ticker, ya know, there, uh, I can't get my wife outta the house, I keep wantin' ta go down ta Arizona for the winter, but she don't like ta travel and, ya know, haaaaaaa! one o' these days I'm gonna buy myself a motor home and travel around, yup, after all it looks like it's gonna be a purty nice day today, birds singin', sun's shinin', can't afford the price o' gas, neither, ya know, that health insurance is somethin' else, ain't it? haaaaaaaaaaaaa! Yup, ya know, it's about time we had us a good snowstorm, back in '69 there was a doozy..."

And so it would continue until one of us had finished loading his respective truck and driven away. Suffice it to say, I will miss Merbert and most assuredly will never forget him.

Dialogue Exercise

From the Files of the FooDaddy...

This piece was written years ago, before I even knew what a "blog" was. I had been working on a story about a little boy who goes on a journey with a talking yak named Duke and has many adventures. It was exceedingly lame, but not without a lame kind of charm. In the same vein, we have this little smattering of dialogue, which I edited and updated slightly.

And here you thought you were done getting these copy'n'paste posts!

FooDaddy showed his friends the story he’d written. They were all sitting on a couch or on the floor of his apartment, surrounded by amplifiers from the 70s.

“Why’d you make me a talking yak?” asked Devin.

“No way am I that ditzy. I don’t even have a Grand Marquis, or whatever,” said FooDaddy’s girlfriend Megan with a frown.

“Oh, baby. I wrote this before I even knew you. Remember me telling you about Anna from work?”

“Yeeeeaaaah…” she said uncertainly.

“Well, that’s who Jessica is. I’d have put you in there, but I haven’t written any parts for a curvy nuclear physicist yet,” he said, patting her reassuringly on the calf.

“So I’m involved in the study of sub-microscopic particles?”

“Like FooDaddy’s sex appeal!” said Devin, whomping FooDaddy with a throw pillow.

“Where’d you get Herschel from? Jim I can see, but… Herschel? Like, your grandpa or something?” asked Clark.

“Dunno,” said FooDaddy. “I guess he’s like that jolly, dirty guy everyone likes?”

“Hey, boy, come lookit this. They finally got an LCD monitor with a multicolored LED backlight into production. Samsung, of course!” said The Father.

“Could you ask your dad to put on some pants?” whispered FooDaddy’s girlfriend, Megan. “It’s starting to make me nervous.”

“Dad! Pants!” FooDaddy suggested. The Father continued to stare at his monitor and work his mouse’s scroll wheel.

“Fascinating,” he mumbled.

“I still don’t get why I’m a yak. I don’t even know what yaks look like,” muttered Devin into his glass of Pepsi. He reached for the television’s remote control and began chewing on the buttons.

“Pfft. Never said you were,” rebutted FooDaddy. He smiled at his winning comeback.

“Yeah, but you gotta admit it kinda fits,” offered Megan. She dodged a kick from Devin, which knocked over her can of Cherry Coke.

“Aw, man. You spilled my container of sugar and fun.”

“I’m perfectly fine,” said FooDaddy with a grin.

“That’s not what I meant,” she said, kicking him in the shins. “I was talking about the wondrous Cherry Coke.” She went to fetch a roll of paper towels.

“Oh, yeah, it actually does fit,” declared Clark, returning to topic and jabbing the air with his index finger. “Psychologically, I mean. For instance, take the fact that Devin's horny. Yaks have horns. This could have all taken place subconsciously in FooDaddy’s shriveled little mind, and it came out through his fingers without his even knowing.” He finished by taking a victory swig of his Cherry Coke.

“Good thinking, Asimov,” said a sarcastic FooDaddy.

“Haw! Did you just call him an ass-muff?” Devin hooted.

“No. Az-ih-mov. Isaac Asimov. He’s like, the science-fiction author. You know the movie I, Robot?”

“Yeah. The one with Will Smith?” Megan said, stooping to apply paper towel to the Cherry Coke puddle.

“Well, he wrote the book the movie’s based on,” said FooDaddy. He threw a cashew at Devin. It bounced off his forehead and into oblivion behind the television.

“Hey, ass-muff! Where’d you get peanuts?”

“It was a cashew. I found it in my pocket.”

“Man, that’s weird,” said Clark. He checked his own breast pocket hopefully.

“You guys are all weird,” declared Megan, hand on cocked hip.

“That’s enougha your sassery, woman!” said FooDaddy, putting his foot down. Megan smiled winningly and pranced over to the garbage can to dump a handful of soggy paper towels.

Sassy Woman and the Pocket Cashews would be a good name for a rock band,” said The Father, shuffling over and tugging a pair of slacks into place.

“That’s a good one!” said Devin, and punched FooDaddy in the biceps. “Your dad’s awesome.”

“How about “Mystery Nut and the Pantsless Father?” suggested Clark. They all laughed and threw debris at eachother.

“Mister FooDaddy’s Dad? Sprocket’s chewing on your pillow,” said Megan, returning to the group and poking The Father in the elbow with one finger.

“Sweet bare-assed doctor of crap!” bellowed The Father and sprinted to his bedroom. There were muted thumps and scufflings, and a gray and white cat came sailing out of the room, bounced off a wall and landed in the midst of the gathering in the living room. He gave an interrogative mewing noise, and tossed himself into Clark’s lap and fell asleep instantly.

“Stupid cat,” said FooDaddy, poking the purring Sprocket in the tummy. Sprocket came instantly to life and bit him on the knuckles.

“Aww. He’s being a bastard!” exclaimed Devin proudly. He spit out a piece of the “volume up” button from the remote he was chewing on. “Hey! Crotch bandit! Can I get another Pepsi?”

“Go ahead,” said FooDaddy. Devin leapt to his feet and charged headfirst into the refrigerator with a rattling crash.

“So what’s the plot, exactly? What’re the Little Boy and Duke trying to accomplish?” asked Clark.

“If I know FooDaddy,” said Devin from the kitchen nook, his voice muffled by refrigerator contents, “it’s gonna have something to do with a quest for men of a certain lifestyle.”

“Then wouldn’t you be in the story?” Clark snorted.

“Ow, my soul,” Devin said, returning to the gathering and clutching his chest, a pained expression on his face.

“You don’t have a soul,” said Megan and grinned.

“Yes he does. It’s the size of a raisin and smells like dead lemurs,” said FooDaddy.

“So Duke and the Little Boy are trying to find a new soul raisin for Devin? One that contains glee and smells like fresh cookies? Sounds like a good idea to me,” said Clark. He chewed up an ice cube.



“Oh.” FooDaddy furrowed his brow and stared off into space for a couple seconds. “I guess I hadn’t really considered a whatchacallit...plot.”

“You should have them team up with Jim and go run for President,” suggested Megan. “To, uh, make it a law that all old men have to be crusty.”

“That already is a law. Like, a law of nature,” said Devin, returning to the couch with a full glass of Pepsi.

“Nature smells like horse farts,” said Megan. They all looked at her. “Well, it does!” she insisted.

“Probably,” said FooDaddy, “but it’s still got laws and stuff. One of those is that old men have to be crusty and vaguely evil.”

“Your grandpa’s not,” countered Megan.

“Look. Let’s just get this straight now. I’m always right. That’s a law of nature. You might want to write it down.”

“Or get it tattooed on your arm!” said Clark. Megan hit them both in turn with the throw pillow.

“Is your grandpa that short little Smurf man?” asked Devin, taking the batteries out of the remote and stuffing them down the front of his pants.

“Smurf Man would be a good villain for Batman to fight!” hollered The Father from his room. “I can see it now! Batman and…” he trailed off into inarticulate mumblings.

Found this bit of rubbish in a folder on my laptop while I was doing some cleanup. Figured I'd give it a home here on the Blog. It's encouraging that I can actually tell the difference between my old stuff and my new. I like to think I'm improving.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Writer Shops for Boxer Shorts

"Blugh," he says, poking a finger through a hole that has developed in his once trustworthy boxer shorts. It was like they were giving up on him, the disloyal bastards. He glowers at them because they are forcing him to go shopping.

Shopping always takes place in...public. This makes the Writer nervous, as he tends to get lost in...public.

The Writer wanders out to his Ford Contour and puts himself inside. Realizing he'd left his keys in the house (on the floor near a little drift of socks) he repeats the process after retrieving them.

"Where does one go to get underwear?" the Writer asks his driver's side airbag. He knew where the women-folk went. The women-folk had special stores in the mall for this kind of thing. Pink ones. With big posters in the windows that the men-folk were always looking at. The Writer couldn't recall having ever seen a place like that for men's underwear. A chrome place with pictures of cars on the windows.

"Guess I'll just go to Wal-Mart. I need some other..." He thinks for a moment. "...Things." There was a whole list of other things the Writer needed to purchase, but ironically, he had forgotten to write it down.

He pulls into the Wal-Mart lot, parks, and systematically expunges his car's location from short-term memory during his walk to the door. Actually, the Writer's unique mind does this for him, automatically.

"Sooo! Here we are at Wal-Mart! Sure is a big place, huh? Bet you'll get lost," it says.

"Aw, come on now. I know where Automotive is now and everything. If I get lost, I'll just re-synch there."

"Creative. Bet you'll get kidnapped."

"Hasn't happened yet."

"That means you're due."

This dialogue takes place as the Writer's body, on autopilot, rolls toward Automotive.

"Look. Just because---hey! What? Automotive? Now? What?" The Writer looks around, nonplussed.

"Ha ha!" chuckles his brain. "Feeling agoraphobic yet?"

"So far so good."

"That guy's staring at you."

"I'm not going to let you screw this up. I need..." a frown flickers across his face.

"It would have been funnier if you'd written '...a frown frolics across his face...' but I guess you know best," his brain says sarcastically.

"Boxer shorts!" he says, getting it. "I have to find, uh, the underwear section."

The Writer finds himself in a state of bewildered disarray as he stares around at the shelves of motor oil and antifreeze, like a moose confronted with a Windows error message.

In a rare show of solidarity, the Writer's brain suggests that he go and ask that woman in the blue shirt where he might find the boxer shorts. Whipping his body into spastic motion, he hurls himself across the aisle and asks.

"I don't work here," she says.

"Ha ha!" his brain snorts.

"Ah, well, that was awkward and terrible. I apologize for the confusion, and will now turn upon my heel and continue the quest solo! Onward!" he says and sprints off in a totally random direction.

"Bet you wish you brought your girlfriend along, don't you?" his brain wheedles.

"I could call her."

"And you think that'd impress her, do you? Call her up and ask her to Google you some underwear coordinates?"

"Shut up."

"Besides, you don't get cell service in Wal-mart anyway."

Every now and then, events stack up just right and luck sees fit to grant the improbable. A tossed coin lands on edge. A wrong turn uncovers a shortcut. A distracted Writer finds what he's looking for at Wal-Mart.

"Would ya look at that," the Writer says in a sort of breathless, amazed way. "I found it!"

"Your girlfriend must've told you how before."

Looking at the shelf upon shelf of different types of underwear, the Writer is swept by intense Choice Paralysis.

"There's a kind...a kind of boxers I have at home where the fly doesn't...well, it stays closed. Without a button or glue or anything. But I can't remember the brand name..."

The Writer is helped considerably by a sticker on one brand advertising a fly that "Will Not Gap!" Gapping, he figures, the opposite of staying closed without a button or glue or anything, and is almost set to begin the search for the cash register when he notices that not only do they come in different sizes, but different patterns as well. They are sold in packages of three. Three random patterns.

"See if you can find a pack with some pink ones in it," suggests his brain.

"I'm going to get rid of you," the Writer mumbles back.

"Oh, lighten up. Just grab some and let's go get coffee."

"Should I get this pack? It's got some really horrible orange ones in it, but I like the red pair."

"You planning on showing off your boxers to the girlfriend? That'll impress her as much as calling for directions."

"Don't they just have a big barrel somewhere full of boxer shorts?" he asks philisophically. "You could just grab the ones you want with tongs, stuff 'em in a bag and buy 'em by weight, like at the bulk food section."


In the end, the Writer decides to get the 3-pack with the red ones in it, and another one containing a smart blue number he rather fancies. He puts them in the trunk, next to a big empty space he'd created, as if by magic, by forgetting to buy things to fill it. On the drive home, he thinks he'll put the red ones on when he gets there. That'll probably make him look quite dashing. He fumbles for his cell phone. The Girlfriend would probably like to see him being dashing, and the Writer is considerate of her feelings.

**Show your solidarity with The FooDaddy and his sad lack of directional prowess with the FooDaddy GPS t-shirt! Buy eight!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Moronic Haunting

Wilford Gruntwater died in 1998 of a toothpaste overdose.

He was a jolly man with a meager intellect. Or at least that’s how the men he worked with at the potato factory thought of him. He was an eternally optimistic man who always had a little down-homey, folkey saying to offer in any situation.

“Well, you never know what color the kittens is until you put all your raisins in a bowl!” he said once in 1986, slapping a co-worker on the back. “I shore is sorry to hear ‘bout yer wife, though. Damn pity, I tellya.” Wilford gave his head a final shake before stumping off to man his post at the peeling station.

“Funny thing is, I wasn’t even married at the time. Don’t even think I had a steady girl!” the co-worker recalled when I interviewed him. “Couldn’ta asked for a friendlier guy, though. Wilford was probably about the nicest guy I ever met at the [Lumpy Acres] SpudWorks. Not real speedy in the ol’ brain department, though.”

To people who knew him best, Wilford Gruntwater was, to quote his younger brother Phillip, “a guy you could rob easily.”

“I mean, all you had to do was tell him that they were giving away free pudding over at the ballpark or something, and he’d grin like you just told him he’d won a new spaceship, give you one helluva handshake, grab a bucket and just run off. Wouldn’t even close his front door!” Philip paused, a smile slowly crossing his face. “I told him that once. That he’d won a spaceship.”

“Gruntwater? I remember him. Big fella. Worked over at the, uh…the SpudWorks, right? Yeah, he was the one who kept bringing his wadded up hamburger wrapper back to the counter and asking for refills,” stated the cashier at the BurgerBum, a fast food joint a block from Wilford’s trailer. “Ate ketchup packets like they was popcorn shrimp, too,” he added. “I think he mighta been, y’know…retarded or something.”

Although he faced life with a pleasantly vacant smile and always had a hearty handshake for anyone within reach, Wilford Gruntwater had his share of trials and tribulations.

“Oh, the poor dear was always locking himself in those walk-in refrigerators in the dairy aisle,” said Rosie Brady, manager of the local supermarket. “To his credit, he never panicked, dontcha know. Just stood in there and waited for someone to let him out. Y’know, the funny thing is,” Rosie said, tapping her chin, “those doors don’t actually lock. They’re magnetic. Guess he never thought to just push.” She laughed. “And he always had a sort of folk saying for me when I let him out. Something like ‘you never want to change the oil on a horse whut’s never learned his alphabet!’ I never understood the half of ‘em, but he was such a nice man.”

This little portrait of a man who had once galumphed the surface of the Earth in his physical body I have given you because I believe I now live with the man’s ghost.

It started with little things. Going to brush my teeth before bed, I’d find the toothpaste tube squeezed in the middle into kind of a bowtie shape and the toilet seat up. This was strange, because I always keep the seat down to keep my cats out.

Those things were easy enough to ignore for awhile. I figured my father had come over while I was at work and had just felt like screwing with my toothpaste. But then the messages started showing up…

Little misspelled notes appeared on edges of pieces of paper around the house:

“Remembur too git som more tuthpast. teh minty kind is good in cofee”

“I allus sayd to make shur the (indecipherable) bacon water! Ha haHa!” (smiley face)

None of my friends would admit to leaving them, of course.

“That sounds like something you’d do yourself, if that post about coffee is the least bit accurate. Have you looked into counseling? There’s gotta be some sort of AA for caffeine people,” The Stupid Blogger offered.

“I think you’ve got a retarded ghost!” said The Girlfriend.

This analysis on her part turned out to be pretty accurate. What I’d read in stories and seen in movies led me to believe that signs of paranormal activity were almost like riddles. My ghost made no attempt to disguise his activities. He left crumbs on my sofa. Some nights I could hear him barging around in the garage, knocking over ladders and stepping into flower pots. Other nights I heard him sneezing in the unfinished attic, which is filled with that sneezy cellulose insulation.

“You should try to get a picture of it,” suggested Chris.

And that’s what I did. For the last few weeks, I’d come home to find that the refrigerator door wasn’t shut all the way, and the mustard had been removed and left on the counter.

Last night, therefore, I came home early and set up my tripod. At 1:30 A.M, I heard the sound of someone humming the Jeopardy theme out of tune, and the refrigerator door opened by itself. But…not by itself. I could just make out the outline of a man rummaging inside.

After I’d captured the above image on CMOS sensor with my digital camera, I ventured to speak to the entity.

“Who are you?” I whispered.

The entity appeared to bonk its head on the freezer door and dropped the mustard.

“Golly, mister! You scared the badgers outta me!”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…you’re a ghost, right?”

“Aw, sharks! Of course I am,” the ghost said, shutting the fridge door, swinging it through his body as he did.

“Is there anything you want from me?” I said, beginning to perspire. This was so weird!






I decided any ghost that freely admitted to wandering half in and half out of the physical world in search of mustard was probably harmless. I talked to him for a while. Found out his name was Wilford Gruntwater, that he used to work at a place called Lumpy Acres SpudWorks, and that he hadn’t lived anywhere around here.

“Why my house, then?”

“Well, it’s like they say, FooDaddy, ‘a fat man’s got to keep his mustache trimmed in order to keep track of his ducks,’” the ghost said, trying to put the mustard bottle back into the refrigerator though the door. He watched it bounce back while his hand passed through. He repeated the process four times and probably would have gone on if I hadn’t taken the bottle away.

“I dunno if I’ll ever get the hang of that,” he said. “But I ain’t never gave up on nuthin’ before!” He slapped me on the back, which was a rather strange feeling. My body tensed to receive the blow, but his hand whiffed right through me without so much as a breeze.

“Hey, it’s been nice chattin and all, mister, but I gotta go let my dawgs out,” Wilford’s ghost said, and with a parting guffaw, galumphed right through the kitchen wall and out into the night.

I expect to see more of him, my visitor from an ethereal plane, and perhaps I can get him to keep my cats entertained while I’m at work. If I’m going to have to vacuum up his crumbs, I may as well make him useful.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The (triumphant?) Return of Scruffy Love

Ahh. Can of pop. Keyboard. Room filled with sounds of little cooling fans, hard drive activity, cats barfing. It's Blog posting time! And it's not even three A.M. yet!

It's been a while. Seems as though updates have been coming less frequently lately. That's because they have been coming less frequently lately. My daddy taught me that. Here are some excuses, and a bit of cut-and-paste!

I mean, uh... How about a droll observation of life's little neuroses, and a peck of original material? Better marketing, that.

Has this ever happened to you? You're at work, or in the shower, or both, and you come up with this really great idea for a post on the Blog of Stupid that reveals itself to be complete sparrowfart when it comes time to write it down?

It's happened to me.

I'll be with friends or family or both, and we'll be laughing our cockles off about some idea or bit of dialogue:

"And so my hat tells me to stop yelling at my violin and fill it with toothpaste if I want to run for President!"

"Har har! Right, and then--and then--!" (falls face first into plate of curry chicken in fits of mirth)

"Curry chicken!"

"Ha ha ha ha! Nobody likes Donald Trump!"

"And my Xbox keeps catching on fire!"

"Curry! Chicken! "

Yeah, and it goes on like this until you're convinced you have a spot of pure genius on your hands and you can't wait to get home and wipe it off on the keyboard.

Unfortunately, by the time you've dried your eyes and gotten the peas out of your nose, you can't remember what the hell was so funny about the dialogue. Or more often, you've forgotten it entirely. Or realized that the funny part was the voices and accents and the curry.

And then you feel like a moron.

Why not try describing it anyway? you think to yourself. It was pretty funny, and nobody's going to be fact-checking. You figure you may as well, and posts like this are born.

The interesting thing is that it happens to me right in the middle of stories, too.

"Hey, this is a great start!" I'll mumble into my plate full of sausages. "You're going to love it!" Then, poking them jovially: "You guys are such nice sausages. I shall sing you a song!" When I'm done with that, enough time has passed to completely corrode my beneficent view of my latest work.

"It's crap! Lookit this---three paragraphs, and not one funny thing in 'em! You lousy sausages--" I start, but they're gone too. "Rotten little..." (incoherent)

More often than not, this story ends up as five separate little Microsoft Word documents tossed angrily into a folder on my hard disk somewhere, and I only look at them later when I want to prove to someone that I can begin a story as well as the next guy.

Remember Scruffy Love? Well, I had big plans for that, once, but once I squeezed a few drops of idea out of it, it went flat. Ah well. I shall instead edit out the good stuff, and put it on the Blog! Think of it as "Certified Pre-Written" material: almost as good, and a lot cheaper!

Here is a scene where Thurgood Bastardson (the Antagonist) is attempting to convince Buck Studson (the throbbing male Protagonist) that Cassidy Swoony (the bodacious and airheaded female Love Interest) does not love him. It's a dirty trick, yes, but fortunately Buck is protected by a thick layer of obliviousness, and Bastardson doesn't get very far.

“Yes, the very one. Do you also remember the conversation you and the Swoony woman had?”

“The recollection of that glorious time,” Buck said, unhinging his knees and thrusting his Buckhood forward, “is as the initials of lovers carved just yesterday into the vital bark of a thriving tree!”

“It, uh, was yesterday, Studson.”

“Ha! Then I gain the upper hand, Bastardson!” said Buck, standing and thrusting in triumph. “I shall now refer to thee solely by thy last name, in order that I may patronize thee with my tone.”

Thurgood Bastardson stomped his feet and shook his fists. This wasn’t going to be as easy as he thought. This man, this willfully willful man, possessed powers of obliviousness whose true bulk lay concealed beneath his hairy surface, like stupid icebergs in a sea of irrational thought.

“That’s not the point, fool! The point is that Cassidy Swoony loves another man!”

Buck stopped his victory thrust in mid-tilt. His piercing gaze of blue ice skated over Bastardson’s twisted visage like a pack of skate-wolves.

“Other? Of course. What you say is truth. I am that other man. I am the only one in whom she feels secure,” he said, but his voice carried an undertone of uncertainty that did not go unnoticed by Bastardson. He pressed in, meaning to clear the penguins off Buck’s icebergs one by one with his mental shotgun of deception. He chuckled.

“Oh, I think you know what I mean. Throw your mind back, Studson, and you will recall one particular line of your dialogue. It was when you remarked how wonderful it was to find someone who understood you. Do you remember what she said?”

“As if it were lover’s initials--”

“Yes or no!”

“Yes, I remember.”

“And what did she say, Studson? Tell me what she said!” Bastardson screamed. He was really working himself up, face red, hands shaking feverishly.

“She remarked that she found rabbits particularly cute.”

BEFORE that!

“Aye. Before that, she turned her face upon mine and told me with feeling that there was a man out there yet who could do the same for her.” Buck said steadily. He nodded and pointed to himself. “Me.”

“Arrogant, arrogant man!” Bastardson shook his head. He slammed his fist down onto their table, upsetting the salt shaker and the checkers. “You merely assumed it was you? You just thought that since she happened to be speaking to you, she was speaking about you? The folly! You must allow me a chuckle!”

Before Buck could answer, he took one. It tumbled around the room like a sack of malicious ferrets. Finishing up, he wiped his streaming eyes and glared levelly at Buck.

“She’s a nice woman. A lady. Ladies don’t offer their hearts to savage, uncultured cowboys, Studson. You’ll have to learn sooner or later that this is the way the world works.”

“We constructed large quantities of love! Right there in the birch grove!”

“Pity sex.”

“She screamed my name over and over again upon her climax!”

“Autonomic guilt reaction.”

“She told me that if she could cut off one of her legs, she would do so that I might always have it with me!”

“Post-coital crazy talk. Means nothing.”

And that's where I seem to have puttered out. I still have a few pages of potentially salvagable material, if anyone's interested. Indulge in Stupidity if that seems like a good idea to you. We forgetful, sausage-talkers can use all the encouragement we can get.