Feb 26, 2008

The Unreconstructed Chicken

How can a man be humble when he's got a cock that looks this good?

That's dear Vincent, king of the roost, cock o'the walk. Proud as Punch and meaner than a three-eyed water moccasin. Yes, the life of a hobby farmer is filled with old, unused terms and sayings that come from the bayous. Isn't he a handsome cuss, though?

I've come to like the chickens a lot, I'll admit it. When the idea was first breached, when we had a cage full of day-old peepers, when the money seemed to be flowing like red red krovvy from a freshly-opened artery I held my peace. My only previous experience with chickens involved bare feet, a back yard and an unfortunate but very memorable encounter with a rather massive chicken turd. Know how pleasurable squishing mud between your bare toes can be? Not so with a chicken turd. 'Nuff said.

So now, six months into chicken ranching, I have to say I've relaxed that original hatred. Just a bit. Not only are the eggs really good and now very plentiful but the birds themselves are interesting, and not as disgusting as I first feared. Being raised in the country I'm no stranger to animal waste and the smells that always come with having animals in large quantities. Cow manure was a constant background odor and presence in my childhood, and is equated in my mind with warm summer days and a sort of earthy goodness. Horses? Sweet smells of large animals and hay, tremendous warmth and strength. Animals in general, the smells of living creatures and sweet feed and hay and dirt are good things, speak to me of health and life and vitality. Cats and dogs and all variety of critters speckle my childhood and adult years, filling those times with good memories, and now chickens are added to the roster under the "Good" column.

A few weekends ago I wandered out to the coop with Mrs. Chicken Rancher to take a few photos, to see how the egg production was going (up to 10 a day now on average) and to help out where I could. I ended up spending almost an hour in the coop, squatting in the fresh pine shavings watching and listening to the girls wander around, making their whole range of trills and purrs and clucks and noises. Smelling the warm smell of animals, and the sweet smells of feed and the hay lining their nest boxes. Feeling the gentle tug as one of the girls tried to eat a bootlace. Brushing my fingers across their feathered backs and under their necks, surprised at the softness and the intricate way each and every feather fits, making of the whole a seamless, efficient design.

(One of the girls on a nest. I was holding the camera at a strange angle so I could capture all of her tail.)

There's something about watching animals go about the business of living their lives that appeals to me, sort of like watching a garden grow well, only faster and with more pecking order enforced. Watching one of the hens get off the nest and touching the warm tan eggs was an experience. Seeing the new girls settle in with the established flock (we were given six more hens from a friend) was interesting, and finding out that the upset wasn't nearly as big as we feared was a pleasant surprise. Learning that the hens are perfectly willing to share a nest with others, as many as three or four different birds each using the same nest made me realise just how social birds can actually be.

(Two of the new hens playing mirror image. Their bodies look a little misshapen because the previous owner had cropped their wings.)

It's been quite an experience. I never knew chickens would eat, much less enjoy pasta. Never knew that chickens loved fresh grass as part of their diet. I'd never before had a chicken sitting on my arm to realise that their feet, as scaly and vile as they might look are surprisingly, comfortably warm. The fresh eggs on Sunday mornings with breakfast are a very welcome addition, and while we're not saving a gazillion dollars on grocery bills with them there is always the joy that comes of sharing with friends and family, sharing something that you work hard for.

Plus it's hard not to get a good photograph even on a cloudy day when you're working with a bird decorated in primary colours!

Now if only I could do something about the poo.

Feb 24, 2008

The Show That Nearly Got My Account Suspended

Yah, that was it. Give a listen if you dare, it's the show that earned me a call from the Overlords at BlogTalkRadio to make sure I wasn't too naughty.

See, according to the Terms of Use I can't say anything derogatory, inflammatory, racially insensitive or about dwarfs. Which the way I see it pretty much means I can STFU and that's about it. It seems that the masters down there at BTR saw some naughty words in the tag box or noted the "All Sex Episode" title and stepped in to make sure I'm not masturbating while broadcasting or doing other naughty things to farm animals while talking about politics.

Frankly, it stunned me. In my limited listening experience on BTR's comedy and mature shows I've heard some filth (on one of their FEATURED shows no less) that would make a Las Vegas hooker blush. I guess it's different when you're featured. *shrug*

I definitely want to give big thanks to the three ladies who have given me three new featurettes on the show: Maggie Moss,* who is soon to be named The Irrelephant Show Poet Emeritus, Nancy Dancehall our resident Alanis Morrisette expert and Giver Of The Word, and of course dear Schmoopie, (may your cone always bring you joy) who graced us with The Cone Report to wrap the show up with. With a few simple words she showed us that if only we all owned a Cone the world would be a better, more forgiving and certainly more sexually fulfilled place.

So anyway, it's in the bag, next week's show is on hiatus since I'll be in Tex-ass for the weekend and I'm not going to foist off my broadcasting duties on my able but very tired co-host Vulgar Wizard, so bear with me while we have a quiet weekend, all spent gearing up for The Religious Intolerance Episode the next weekend! All major religions will be bashed. In good spirits, naturally. Wouldn't want to get banned for intolerance.

Now. You know you want it, you've waited all week for it, so without any more teasing it's:

The Irrelephant Show All Sex Episode Naughty Catchprhase List!

  • naughty poetry
  • All Christian Home Health
  • What about rock hard boners?
  • Adam Greenfield is naked.
  • fish fucker
  • tyubes
  • Thor demands it.
  • ball lightening
  • I know somebody who just bought a Fiat.
  • Call the White House switchboard.
  • Tapioca Talkers Radio Network
  • touch my cleemon
  • My word of the day is "down."
  • weeping nards
  • Isn't it bionic?
  • It's spelled dCoUwNnT.
  • I guess I can't do a cone update, huh?
  • I'm going to say "down" every episode.
  • poo fighters too
  • Wardrobes
  • There once was a woman from Malone . . .
  • schmoop deck
  • Benjamin Franklin wasn't a president.
  • The Green Cone - solar power panel included - can only use it on the roof - battery backup for cloudy days - windmill attachment
  • scayle
  • I have a passion for anachronisms.
  • http://www.steamream.com
  • It's okay to swallow, you can't get pregnant.
  • It's a SACKreMENt.
  • snake handling
  • backasswards
  • Train bridges are nice places to "have relations."
  • copulatory endeavors
  • upside-down backwards and in the wrong place
  • bridge boneration
  • hang VW out to dry
  • All cones are welcome.
  • threw the hot dog down the hallway

Be sure and give a listen, won't you, for those great hits and many, many more, all from K-Relephant Records! Just one easy click away! Be sure and stop by to leave some feedback, rate the show and if you really want to, give us a swift kick in the harbles.
* Maggie has just posted the poem and limerick that she composed just for the show at her site, so be certain to go check her out!

Feb 21, 2008

Poetry Friday Challenge: Tattoo

Mona payed me an honour turned to a "tee." She let me choose the Poetry Friday word.

I actually struggled over this for a while, and cheated in a way; I'd pick a word and write a bit in my head, test it, turn it over and over in my mouth until spitting it out and tasting another. It took me a while, but I finally tasted the one I wanted, the one that tasted like surgical soap and carbon black pigments and metal needles, the one that smelled of cigarette smoke and tasted of blood.


This is loosely based on my own experience both as a tattoo artist's apprentice and as a tattooed person, an illustrated man. I still deeply regret the circumstances that stopped me from continuing in the very old, very rich tradition of tattooing people. I'll let you decide what is my own experience and what is cut from whole cloth, what is real and what is done with stewmeat and puppets.


He always hated this part. He always loved this part. The first touch of needle to skin, the first hint of pigment lying under pink dermis, the first bright pearls of blood flowing up behind his instrument.

The place he worked was called "Blue Moon Tattoo." He'd no idea why the owner had named it that. There were rumours that his back was completely covered in tattoos of moons. There were also rumours that the shop survived on a brisk trade in crystal meth, but he'd never seen nor smelled any sign of cooking. He'd also never seen his boss' bare back. The whole of it was a mystery, a smokescreen, a dark cloud in an otherwise blue sky.

When he'd taken the job offered him he'd been told something that had stuck with him like the pigments under his own skin. It was what the boss had told him just before offering the apprenticeship. "Remember kid, we're not selling steak here, we're selling sizzle." As the years had passed he'd grown to appreciate more and more the simple, elegant truth of that statement. People didn't want steak. Steak could be bought at any of a dozen places within driving distance. They wanted sizzle. They wanted smoke and mirrors, they wanted the thrill of "doing a bad thing." The place was hospital clean even though the haphazard mix of furniture and the walls covered in plastic-sleeved flash seemed to belie that truth. The work they did was as carefully controlled as the work of a surgeon opening an incision, but their uniform was not that of green scrubs and ivory white gloves. The rumours that invariably sprung up around them were carefully cultivated, culled or nurtured as each saw fit.

It was said anything you wanted could be bought from Blue Moon Tattoo Studios, but the truth was Blue Moon was better patrolled by out of uniform police officers than any other part of the city. He knew every cop in the town not by their names but by their tattoos. He'd been everything to everyone--a biker, an outlaw, a convict. He'd seen Japan and lain under the inscrutable master's needles. He'd seen Java and worn a gaily-coloured skirt while huge sun-browned men with bone combs marked his skin. All coloured lights and trickery. The man who sat across from him, separated not by an ocean but by a simple waist-high divider wall was the only person who had laid needles and pigments in his skin. All Fun House mirror distortion, all sizzle.

The client was lying in the big banana yellow dentist's chair beside him, face down. Her pale arms were even whiter in the sharp light of the halogen lamp angled over her skin, and the tousle of reddish blonde hair lay in clean waves across her shoulders. The black T-shirt she'd shucked off so casually lay half-folded on the only other stool in the workspace, a dark blot on dark leather, marred only by a slight ghost of pale makeup that had rubbed off when she'd pulled it over her head. The waist of her bluejeans lay across the curves of her back, covered the swell of her hips like the horizon holding down the sea. The dark blue of the denim made her skin seem even purer, made it seem to him that what he was planning was wrong, was immoral. She'd the palest skin he'd ever seen on a person before, and he'd seen skin. He'd seen skin in every shade, texture and condition, seen skin writhing in snakes and koi fish and geishas, and seen skin so ebony that the blackest pigments were barely visible, and the reds in a rose turned purple. Her skin seemed to glow from underneath with a carnelion pink from the blood that coursed through her veins; it gave off a warm haze of woman-smell and warmth that made him want to pull the black nitrile surgical gloves off and touch her, bare skin to bare skin. He'd not felt like this since he'd first started working, first started carving satyrs and nymphs and curliqued sans serifs across countless, endless bodies. She was clean. Untouched. She was a blank canvas.

It was his job to desecrate this pristine place.

She'd come in often enough, usually in the company of three or five or a dozen other girls her age, but she stood out. Where they cackled and flashed their white teeth behind red lips she was self-contained, quiet. They would gawk and make huge gestures, trying to hide their nervousness, being on the wrong side of the tracks, but she'd been as composed as a statuette. The mere ghost of a smile played around her lips the whole time they were there, every time. They'd come in and fill their eyes with the garish flash, giggling too-loudly over the leering, presenting succubi, the red-skinned demonesses, their breasts proud and grotesquely large, their barbed tails protruding from black leather bikini bottoms. They'd point and laugh and giggle their foolishness, then flee in a perfumed clot, letting the dark night and the stink of the city swallow them whole. Sweet morsels to be unthinkingly devoured.

But she'd come back after they'd stopped returning, gone on to look for some other cheap frisson of imaginary fear. She'd come back with a few good questions that he answered from long practice and a design she'd drawn herself. With the design came the cash; wrinkled green and black bills looking for all the world like an old sailor's forearm work come to life, Balinese dancing girls moving jerkily. It was her first. It was far from his first.

The day was set, the price paid, all over but the crying. The crying and the bleeding. The day came upon him in a haze of flaming skulls and cigarette smoke and the harsh metallic burr of the machines. It crept up on him in the sensuous sounds of the blues that played forever over the speakers overhead. Another of the boss' jokes: Blue Moon only played the blues. But now it was real, it was the day. She was here, lying bare-backed on his chair, the thin straps of her bra dangling over the edges of the dentist's chair, the machine cold and strangely heavy in his black-gloved fingers. The design had already been mimeo'd and placed and gotten her approval. Now it glowed a sickly purple on her pristine skin. The halogen made a glossy, elegant bruise of the freshly-shaved patch of pale skin, pregnant with it's sharp purple lines and swirls.

The pigment was ready, the machine's tight steel muzzle filled with the triangle of sharp steel needles but still he hesitated. To cover the delay he bounced his foot on and off the pedal, making the magnets hum with power, making the needles leap into a blur and then still themselves, leap into motion and stop again. It was an old trick of his--match the burring to the simple beat of the music and laugh when the client realised the sounds matched. He'd a whole hatful of little tricks like that, tricks that he could turn cold or warm with a flick of an eye, the slant of a smile. Tricks to relax the client, make them feel he could be trusted. Tricks to make them feel how aloof and distant he was, how cold and uncaring. Sizzle, not steak.

His black hand came down upon her back slowly, a huge spider coming to rest on a pale beach. She didn't tense, didn't jump, didn't do anything that the clients usually did. She was ready, accepting. She'd been told the horror stories, been warned about negligence, warned about cleanliness, warned most especially about the pain and the need to be still. Warned that his touch would be strong, might bruise, so important it was that she hold still. Once he started, he'd told her as the green bills changed hands, they'd be together until it was done, through blood and pain, until completion, release. Pleasure of shared experience. He didn't tell her, as he didn't tell anyone, how careful a balancing act it all was for him--too much power to the machine, too slow a hand and the needles could lay her open like a scalpel. Too deep a pass and he could lay her beautiful skin open like a peeled fruit, and her, new to this, would never know what pain was right, what pain meant scars and blood.

The black-wrapped fingers stretched her pale skin taut, holding the purple outlines in place like a macabre frame. The gleaming silver nose of the machine dipped mincingly into the black pigment cup, tasting of the carbon there like some horrific mechanical bird taking a sip of thin oil. His foot, without him willing it tested the speed again. His tarantula-black hand in it's nitrile sheath felt the familiar vibrations in his fingers that told him it was set, it was right. It was time.

The clutch of silver needles gathered close, the black spider, mirror-mate to the one holding her captive, grew close.

Poetry Friday Invite!

Mona, our Queen Bee leading us in the Poetry Friday Challenge (get it? Poetry Bee? Queen Bee? *snort* I kill myself) has done me a signal honour--she's invited me to give The Word.

If you, unlike myself are benefiting from a long memory you might recall that she has once before given me this torch to carry, this medal to wear, when I inadvertently gave her the word "Cloud." I had just stumbled upon her wonderful blog and the Challenge and all that good stuff, so when she flicked the holy water on me and gave me that 1000-watt holier-than-thou smile I was near bursting at the seams. Now that I've been handed the sabre and shield again I'm fit to explode.

With pride, you dirty-minded yoinks. I swear, it's not ALL sex.

Kay, 'nuff said. The Poetry Friday Word for tomorrow is: Tattoo. Use it how you see fit, whether it be defined as the rhythmic sound, the pigment-under-the-skin or some other form or function of the word. Mix it up in your Hot Dish and serve it up fresh tomorrow, because we'll all be pulling up to the table with our appetites stoked!


Feb 19, 2008

I've Decided

That's it. It's settled. I've made my mind up and will be making every effort in this new direction until my goal is achieved or I've exhausted every resource and every iota of my life force in obtaining it.

I need backup singers.

I need three women in matching but subtly different gowns whose only job will be to follow me around everywhere I go, stand behind me in a half-spot and perform do-wops, ooh-ooh-wahs and otherwise sing wordless vocals. I need three backup vocalists to add contrast, to give counterpoint to the mood I'm laying down. I require Wailers to my Bob Marley. Give me some Heartbreakers to match my Tom Petty, a handful of The Gang to supplement my Kool.

Let's face it--I'm looking for a few good Pips.

Feb 17, 2008

The Irrelephant Show: Argument Episode (updated!)

Ah lordie it just gets better and better!

What an excellent broadcast. I must say up front big thanks to Maggie, Nancy Dancehall, Stucco, Schmoopie and Vulgar Wizard for being on the phone live with us, discussing the art and science of arguing.

Now, ordinarily I'd just rest on my laurels but since Nancy cornered Maggie on the show today in front of my 30+ listeners it's come about that I'm going to add.... drumroll please.....


Maggie's Poetry Corner! Listen as Maggie regales us with a dirty limerick, a tasty haiku or a Scandinavian Epic!

Nancy Dancehall's Word O' The Day (I think!) Thrill as Nancy enlightens, elucidates and otherwise stretches our minds with the Word! (Or a story. Or something that we haven't 100% decided on yet.)

Schmoopie's Weekly Cone Update! Vibrate with pleasure as Schmoopie tells us how life with The Cone is proceeding, beginning with Week 3.

Wow. I'm getting more and more disturbed with every word I write, so you know what THAT means! It's time for The Catchphrase List! VW as always has done an excellent job of sieving through the mud to get at the pearls, and so it is with great pleasure that I offer you the glistening white pearls, you swine!

The Irrelephant Show Weekly Catchprase List Vol. 4!

God, I miss Python so bad!
Are we having fun yet?
We have a subject.
Shameless plug
Shovel it in, y'all.
Don't eat your keyboard.
Internet Exploder
Rosey Palms
Two pickets to Titsburgh
Off the rails
Man, I ain't gettin' my Climax!
I don't see titties!
Itty Bitty Gang Bang
Beauty and the Hosebeast
I want you to get upstairs and get into my bed!
It's because of the metric system.
A pound hound
Nazi cows and Nazi corn and Nazi grain and Nazi wheat!
I about peed my nancypants.
Big Sallie Jessie glasses
Inverted nipples
One-eyed wonder worm
Felt like a breeder?
Meeting in a dark room
Mmmmm, Danish
Hair Pie

Thank you, won't you?

Feb 15, 2008

The Universe Is A Crazy Person

Nancy Dancehall once told me in a comment or some such that the Universe is a singularly perverse place. It's sentient and it really likes to play cruel jokes on it's inhabitants. Douglas Adams once said that a little healthy paranoia is a natural reaction to being alive. I think they're both right--the Universe is one crazy broad.

If you've listened to the radio show you know that my daughter and I have been dealing with a school science project for some time now. We had two or three weeks of time to work on it. We even started with the best intentions; she had her first hypothesis shot down but we fell back on a second. Growing moss in beer-soaked ground. I'd heard it on HGTV as a way to grow moss on rocks in your garden, you see, so I knew it'd work and it'd be an interesting result to monitor. You simply blend moss with stale beer and paint it on wherever you want moss. The blending spreads the spores, the beer serves as food, moss grows. Easy.


Now, keep in mind that our history with fair projects is a spotty one. The last Social Studies fair we had we went all out--busted butt for weeks on a lovely, in-depth study of the Roma (Gypsy) people. The teachers were agog over it as a subject matter because no-one had ever tackled it before. We went into it with a fervor, learning, writing, rewriting and rubber-cementing photos to tri-fold boards.

It failed to make a stir with the judges.

For the science fair project we sort of fiddle-farted around and did a mediocre job on testing if bottled water was purer than tap water. A lot of the work was tied up in the $110 water test kit we bought and the actual EXPERIMENTAL part was completed in about ten minutes a few nights before the due date.

It won second place at her school-level fair and went to Regional.

Regional, for those of you who don't know, is kids from 6th-8th grades of about ten local schools locked in a gym with their projects, parents not allowed. They're in their best clothes and sitting to wait for a grilling by a barrage of professional people about their projects, their processes and their results. If they're lucky enough to have their project judged right out of the starting gate they still have to wait until ALL the judging is complete, so there's no way out until it's all done. It's a long, boring process, especially for them, and not one to enter into lightly. Last year's judging took almost 5 hours. BTW, she didn't make it past Regional. I've never been more thankful for my daughter's failure in a school activity. If she'd won and had to go to State I'd have torched the board and the results. And the gym, just for good measure.

This year's Science Fair project we started out really well. We harvested moss. We got pans to grow moss in, and we bought cheap wine and beer and got milk and water and isopropyl alcohol to make sure we'd have some widely varied data at the other end of this project. We started the experiment with a bang and some high spirits (no pun intended.)

It didn't last.

The first evening the five carefully prepared and labeled pans of spore-soaked fluids were out on the back porch to grow. Belle pulled down the milk-growing moss pan and ate the sour, milk-soaked moss dirt out of it. One down, four to go. I moved the pans up to the second ledge and breathed deeply. Having to fake results for 1/5 of the project was okay.

We waited a week and nothing was growing in the surviving four. My darling daughter had forgotten to keep the soil moist so the moss would have something to grow with other than a tiny batch of beer. Things getting a little dark around the science lab at this point.

A day or so passed after that horrible realisation and a rather large armadillo somehow managed to get into the fenced-in back yard. Furthermore it got onto the back porch, climbed up the door frame some six feet up and pulled down a SECOND tray. At this point I didn't care which it was, the experiment was simply sunk.

Now, all this time I'd been gently nagging my sweet child to get started on her tri-fold board and the decorating. Two days before the project was due I stopped nagging her gently and start nagging her directly about working on it. I printed up some 8x10 photos taken back at the beginning of the experiment as proof that we'd actually done SOMETHING, brought them to her and found out that she'd not been keeping the journal she was supposed to be writing in each day: "Day 17: examined remaining trays, no growth seen, very dry. Father seems very dejected, Belle having some stomach ache, armadillo not to be seen." That sorta thing.

Guys, I desperately try to teach my child not to lie, try to teach her to live in a forthright and honest manner. I try to teach her to be fair and honest and respectful. All that teaching went to hell two nights before the project was due. We faked the journal. We faked the results. We faked everything but the initial harvesting of moss and the mixing with beer and assorted other liquids. (It's astoundingly easy to fake data if you know what SHOULD have happened.) We faked more numbers than Enron. Glued the photos onto some green construction paper in a sort of off-set manner to give it a funky moss green shadow effect, printed up some headers with the last of the green ink in my failing colour printer, punched out some bulletin board letters reading "Drunk Moss?" and rubber-cemented the whole shebang down. Wrote the abstract (more lies! moss died!) and recorded the faux results and we were done.

This afternoon she called me at work. She NEVER calls me at work. The school had foregone the award ceremony that was postponed from last night and announced the winners in class.

She's won second place. Again. Which means she's going to Regional. Again. All on the back of a project that is mostly a thin tissue of lies. Now we have to pack up our bag of faked data and entirely absent results photos (I can see it in my mind's eye now--three dry trays, one chewed up and one empty) and go to Regional.

The Universe has to be laughing her ARSE off right now.

I think she and I (the daughter, not the Universe) are going to have another long talk about lying and what we had to do to make sure she didn't fail the project. She realises we couldn't just tell the teacher "Sorry, the moss that survived the dog and the armadillo simply didn't grow, therefore no project. Please don't fail me?" Yeah, that'd fly. She realises it's wrong to lie, but I can't let my child go into school with her A-B Honor Roll standing and fail a fair part of her science class grade because we didn't think to water her plant life. Could I? We're going to skip Regional this year but not go so far as to make a public confession of guilt. I guess she's learning more than I hoped she'd learn at this tender age.

I can honestly say I never EVER thought parenting could get this hairy.

If you'd like to hear more about this topic (maybe) and have an argument with me, please be sure to join myself, Vulgar Wizard and hopefully a host of call-ins on The Irrelephant Show. This Sunday at noon CST, right HERE. Thank you, won't you?

Feb 14, 2008

Poetry Friday Challenge: Time

Wow. Mona's gotten serious with this whole Poetry Friday thing. Last Friday's word, "Hit" made me really work for it, and this go-round the word is "Time." Evocative, wide-open, filled with boundless potential and I'm going to go for the easy route. Screw this whole stretching my creative boundaries. *lol*


I like Mythbusters on the Discovery Channel quite a lot. It's one of the very few shows I tune in to religiously, or at least make sure that the DVR has it down for recording. Last Wednesday's episode Adam and Jamie showed me something of true beauty. Actually it wasn't Adam and Jamie this time but Kari Byron.

Now to be quite frank, I'm not a huge fan of Kari. To be quite honest I like her least of the three co-hosts. She's a little flaky, a little too 'ditzy science chick' and just a smidgen too much 'token T&A to get the all-important 18-29 male viewers roped in.' Wednesday night, though, Kari made good. The myth was taken from the classic scene in the movie Predator where Aah-nold and his crew of muscle-bulging soldiers literally cut a section of jungle to shreds with a variety of machine guns, one of them being a GE Mini-Gun. If you're not familiar with the movie or the piece of equipment, it's a Gatlin-style multi-barrel electrically-powered monster that is usually mounted on the side of an aircraft gunship or on top of a vehicle instead of clutched in Jesse "The Body" Ventura's sweaty mitts. It's rate of fire is astonishing, it's accuracy is questionable but it's destructive power is unswerving.

The myth was that this tree-cutting scenario was possible, and the team of Tory, Grant and Kari proved it plausible. They cut down a section of pine tree trunk some two feet or so in diameter in forty-five seconds time with the Gatlin, firing fifty rounds per second, or three thousand rounds a minute.

Let's review that again. Cut. A. Tree. Down. In forty-five short seconds. It also caught fire just before it fell but that could have been from the magnesium-tipped tracer rounds that are interspersed with the regular FMJ rounds in the weapon's ammunition belt. It could also have been caused by the incredible friction caused by hundreds of copper and lead rounds entering it every second.

Now, if you haven't gathered by now, I'm a gun person. I don't subscribe to Guns & Ammo, nor do I obsessively collect weapons like my brother. I don't masturbate to photographs of the newest M-16 rifle and I don't have a secret stash of armament under the floorboards of the house. I do, however, believe that the only true way to be completely safe around firearms is to be familiar with them, which I am. I own and maintain several pistols and my father's collection of hunting rifles and shotguns, but to be honest the last time I was at a range was years ago and the last time I hunted my voice was still cracking. The fact remains, though: being a man, and being a little boy even more, the sound and sight of someone firing such a massive piece of destructive power as a vehicle-mounted Gatlin gun is awe-inspiring. Seeing a tiny slip of a girl fire it is just icing on the cake.

So anyway.

What I've been getting at was one particular scene in the telecast, a scene that will remain burned in my head until I can get someone to get me a screen shot that I can blow up to poster-sized and hang in my office (Mickey?): tiny, red-headed, pale-skinned Kari in a pretty green sundress and dark sunglasses, floppy brimmed sunhat perched on the back of her head. She's standing in the back of a HumVee firing an eight-barrel Gatlin-style machine gun in slow motion with the intent of successfully cutting a tree trunk in half. The frame shows just enough of the huge, blunt maw of the weapon that you can see the distortion of heat and smoke and fractured air erupting from the tips of the barrels. On the other side of the shot is Kari, literally calf deep in hot brass shell casings that are fountaining out of the weapon's fist-wide ejector port.

The expression on her face is priceless--a sort of composed, serious concentration. She wears a ghost of a smile that's more a straight line that a bow, and her hands show how tightly she grips the huge handles of the weapon. Her brow is furrowed down just a little bit as the muscles in her pale, thin arms work to keep the smoking, howling weapon aimed. The juxtaposition of tiny female body controlling that huge, gunmetal grey weapon is extraordinarily powerful.


Excuse me while I go clean and oil my personal sidearm.

Feb 13, 2008

Just A Small Gripe

The whole workplace world is a factory, and we're all just sticking bits on the cars.*

I've got this theory, and I'm going to share it with you. It's been brought on by my befriending two people on these here internet tubes, both of whom work in factories. They live on opposite coasts and for all I know do entirely different jobs. Jean is a microwelder, meaning she does intricately tiny welding on things that go in machines like the space shuttle. Mickey Glitter (whose site is now temporarily crashed but will be back soon) works on the office side of a factory but in a factory nonetheless. Hence this metaphor. Attend me:

My most lasting impression of a factory was formed when I had the opportunity to tour the faciltiy where the Ford Motor Company assembles their Teetiny vehicle. You've seen the Teetiny, right? It's the super-ultra compact car that can fit comfortably inside the back of a Suburban. Cute little things; impact resistance of a sheet of newsprint but they get like a thousand miles to the gallon as long as there's no headwind and if it crashes and you somehow manage to survive you just ball it up and toss it in the trashcan and go buy another.


There was a long line of stations in this factory--at one a trained technician would place the frame on the assembly line and secure it with four twist-ties. At another station a mechanic would place the Singer sewing machine engine carefully in the engine compartment and install the Duracell battery (I'm pretty sure it was a D cell but I could be wrong.) At yet another station a highly skilled employee would install the driver's stool and hang the little Xmas tree air freshener on the rear view mirror. When all these stations were working at capacity and everyone was doing their job the factory could turn out seventeen hundred Teetinys a day. At the end of the line the car would be propelled off the assembly line with a gentle puff from an airhose and be carried by Bruno the packaging guy to a shipping container. From there they'd be delivered to Ford dealerships all over the world to be sold for $147 plus shipping, handling and dealer charges. The factory manager told me that if the crew pulled together as a team there was even sizeable bonuses involved.

I never realised until just a few weeks ago how very like a factory my job is. Granted we've got fewer moving parts than an automotive factory, but we've still got the raw materials (patients) and the technicians and mechanics (nurses, occupational therapist, physical therapist, clinical manager and so forth) and we've still got the finished product--a patient whose wounds are healed and whose file is complete and accurate and whose bill is charged to Medicare correctly, sans fraud and other naughty things.

This, unfortunately, never happens anymore. I haven't seen a bonus in so long I don't even recall what colour they are.

You see, in the Teetiny factory if someone along the line, say at Station 7 where they hot-glue the hood ornament on and staple the trunk down were to stop doing their job, or do it incorrectly (say, hot-gluing the trunk on and stapling the hood ornament down) the rest of the line stops. Quite literally from that point on the entire process comes to a halt while the guy at Station 8 ("Jiggle The Handle A Little Bit, It'll Work") has to stop HIS job and put the car right. Meanwhile Stations 9 through 1,803 ("Wipe Car Down With No More Than Two Squares of Toilet Paper And Honk The Horn") wonder just what the hell is going on back there, Bruno the bow-legged guy who loads them on the truck doesn't have anything to do anymore and starts picking his nose until his skull caves in, and production for the day stops.

The problem gets worse when, say, the post-graduate level engineer at Station 94 ("Spray Paint The Faux Carpeting On The Floor") decides to hold off doing his job for a week, letting the cars pile up until suddenly one morning around Payroll day he takes a handful of Maxi-Thins, washes it down with three liters of Red Bull, takes a big snort of cocaine and goes through his entire production week worth of jobs in an hour. Suddenly there's a huge glut of work going through the line and everyone from the next station up are having seizures because not only is the work not proceeding in any sort of orderly fashion it's all ass-over-teakettle: the fuzzy spray paint is all over the windshields, across the hoods and in some cases it makes suggestive graffiti along the very small doors, and now they've got to fix it all before they can go on and do THEIR steps.

The factory where I work (Very Big Home Health) is very fucked up like that. Excuse my language, it's just hard to hold back these days. Some of the technicians are working at the same pace they've been working at for years; fast enough, efficiently enough and with the correct processes proscribed by the factory managers far away in their ivory tower. Some of the mechanics can't find their socket wrench with both hands and a flashlight, and one of the engineers thinks it's okay if he does two weeks of work in one day because he's special. Then we've got the installer who quits because so much ruckus has been raised about her that she realises she's going to lose her license (finally!) and the Head Bean Counter who is afraid of his own shadow and should never have been promoted from his prior job of Door Knob Polisher is constantly making up excuses to not be at his post.

No matter how I look at it I'm being screwed. I'm either spending the entire day trying to work out from under this giant glut of work or I'm sitting there wondering if we still have any nurses working for us.

It doesn't stop there, though. The burbles and fits and starts that I have to deal with are passed up the line to Miss Thang, my new boss, who spends various hours of her day wondering aloud what's wrong with the system (it's not enforced EVER for one thing,) which behaviour she alternates with muttering threats to fix things. Threats which I'd love to see enacted but strangely enough never come to fruition.

Did I forget to mention the day I was called to the carpet in the factory manager's office for daring to take ownership of one of the major problems on the assembly line and chewing out Bean Counter in the vain hopes that he'd start making the technicians work according to the guidelines? Did I mention that I was told "...it's either you or me..." implying that if I wasn't a good little mechanic and STFU I'd be fired from the factory because SHE certainly wouldn't be. Her narrow ass is covered by her boss and a mere technician on the line is easily replaced.

The main problem? No-one wants to hire a MAWG** who is highly skilled at doing a whole lot of different jobs on a lot of different assembly lines. I've forwarded more resumes than David Lee Roth has passed on venereal diseases and still I can't get a single interview. I'm tempted to apply for the Yardmaster job that's open at Kansas City Southern's Leesville yard just for shites and giggles. At least they're good enough to email me a little form email when I apply that says I'm not in the running for Rail Polisher Third Class.
* With apologies to The Bard.

** Middle Aged White Guy (everyone needs one or two around!)

Feb 10, 2008

What Would Irrelephant Cone?

Weekly Catchprase List - Volume 3

Is it hot in here or Buffalo? All the catch-phrases, buzzwords and ear candy ("Clemon!") that your friends will be dropping around the watering hole today like flies off a horse's arse. Don't be left behind, you urinal talker you!

  • Once you go ear canal
  • Dildo between the stubby little toes
  • Nigga, please
  • Trunk below the waist
  • Third nipple
  • OEM
  • What do you have spare on your body?
  • Metric fuck-tons
  • 60 sandwiches in a cookie jar
  • I don't answer questions about zombies
  • Turducken tendency
  • thorax
  • The Monkey House
  • Skunky FReTs are for special guitars
  • Goran
  • A little loincloth
  • When Granny pops over for tea
  • What's a man's bits?
  • The iVagina
  • Specially branded iKY
  • It's time for a Cone*!
  • pluggin' the balls
  • bad coke

* Cone Provisio - Do not ingest. Do not microwave. Do not place too close to the television. May cause harmful side effects if used in back alleys. Always use a clean cone. Not for uccular use. Store cone in room-temperature area. Do not freeze. Do not puncture. Do not leave lying around if Grandma is coming over for tea and a bit of crumpet.

Feb 7, 2008

The Irrelephant Show!

Yeah, I changed the name, I've still enough gentleman left in me to cringe when I have to gleefully shout "Vagapocalypse," plus while a good half of the listeners are female and we seem to manage to talk about sex Every Single Show there's not much "end of the world caused by a vagina" happening to really warrant that name.


The important thing is, guys, and please make a note of this, we've moved! Sunday noon, Central Standard, which makes it 10am for you West Coasters and...what, three in the morning for East Coast? Rock and/or roll, bay-bee!

See you guys (and dolls) this Sunday at noon!

Poetry Friday Challenge: Hit

Mona posed a real woolybugger for me this go-round.

See, the last two Fridays I've managed by hook or by crook to miss the Challenge. Either that or I was just too wrapped up in my own little world. *g* So here I am, the cold that I've been carefully fending off for three weeks now finally got it's green, snotty claws dug in nice and tight, I'm desperate for a weekend, and I've got nothing to talk about for the Challenge.

See, my problem is this--years ago I was rearranging the storeroom upstairs, the grey one, and, well, truth be told I was a little woozy from having taken some cold and sinus medicine earlier in the day. It's this 'end of winter' cold that always hits me. I think I'd had a hot toddy or two for lunch that day. No, don't look shocked, it's an old family cure for what ails you. So anyway, there I was, a little woozy, perhaps half asleep and I was foolishly ignoring the warning on the side of the bottle that says "Do not operate heavy machinery while taking this wildly powerful drug" while I was driving the forklift around my storeroom.

Now, on my worst days I'm still a very careful forklift driver. I honk the horn at all intersections, I travel with the load just a few inches off the ground and I tilt the mast back whenever I'm carrying anything. I'm always careful to make sure that my feet are planted firmly on the floor. It's one of those stand-up models, it's crowded in my storeroom, and it's just big enough to make some of the tighter corners if I'm really careful, which I am. Lots of precious stuff in there that I really don't want to lose. You'd like my little forklift--I got it cheap off eBay back before they started that big ban on people buying prescription drugs, alcohol and forlklifts, and frankly it was a steal. Just because it's Kawasaki Puke Green, go figure. Really, I was just damned tired of having to use a pallet jack to roll all those boxes of memories and big portmanteaus of broken dreams and all those huge barrels of nostalgia here and there, always trying to make it all fit. That stuff gets HEAVY after a while, and there's always more of it, every day. A forklift was the only sensible option.

So getting back to my story, I was maybe just a tiny bit affected. My reaction time might not have been quite what it should have been, and maybe I was a little heavy on the foot throttle. I'd just finished neatly stacking a bunch of crates of testosterone that weren't being used anymore. I'd gotten them way up in a corner of the steel racking in the back, and I was backing up and I'd just barely missed hitting the sprinkler system with the mast which I'd left raised too high and I was sort of congratulating myself on not hitting the overhead pipes when it happened.

I hit my last crate of Creativity. Backed right into it.

Now if you've ever looked at those crates closely you know they're no longer Making Them Like They Used To. Back in the day they used good wood, inch-thick slats and plenty of packing material and real steel nails driven in deep. They'd reinforce the corners too, and put some firring strips diagonally to make sure it was good and snug. I've still got one or two of those old crates around somewhere, been using them for tables in the break room. Matter of fact I've got a pair of them in the office--laid a pine door across them and it makes a jim-dandy desk. These new crates, though, they're not worth spit. You look at them funny and they're liable to burst. Cheap material, Grade C boards, real thin stuff imported from lord knows where. Castoff material, it's a real shame.

Oh, and have you ever noticed that they don't even nail them anymore? It's all done with staples. STAPLES for cripes sake! Cheap, unsanded wood, full of knotholes and splinters, half broken as it is, and no nails, just these inch long staples. How do they expect them to stand up to any sort of stress, much less being hit by a three ton forklift?

Guys, the moment I hit that crate my heart sank. Ever broke open one of those crates unintentionally? What a mess. The packing material went everywhere so there was that yellow crinkly straw all over, tangling up in the wheels of the forklift, getting in my eyes, my mouth, everywhere. I sort of slipped when I hit the crate that hard so my elbow hit the horn button and so the horn was blaring and there was this yellow straw flying everywhere and the forks were going up because I'd fallen against the mast lever but all I could hear was that sharp glassy crashing sound as all those lovely shapely bottles broke, one after another after another, all spilling out onto the floor tumbling over each other like acrobats in a circus, only more broken and a lot less gracefully.

Talk about a mess. Shards of deep blue glass everywhere, those metal and cork seals were bent and strewn everywhere, and Creativity all the hell and gone everywhere, coating everything. It was mixing up with the trash on the floor and the packing straw and all the dust off all the crates. And smell? Oh, the whole place reeked of cinnamon and fresh-mown grass and dry leaves and leather. It was blowing in the gusts made by the ventilator fan and so it was gathering against the boxes like grainy red snowdrifts; the whole place was red with the stuff, falling like slow rain, covering everything. The bright steel racks, the crates and boxes and suitcases and filing cabinets, all of it covered in red. And there I was with my little whisk broom and dustpan stumbling around, desperately trying to save as much as I could before it spoiled. You know how fast that stuff turns if you aren't careful with it.

I had this old orange clay urn with a huge round cork for a stopper I was using to hold it all in. I had to use it; all twenty three beautiful glass bottles were smashed to flinders. All that beautiful hand-blown blue glass, ruined. Shards and shambles. The urn used to hold my Innocence but I'd so little of it left (I used so much of it up...) that I'd emptied what was left into a little Bell jar and screwed the top on good and tight. I used to put that canning jar on the ledge of the little window there and I'd wait until the sun rose high enough to shine through it. Gods when the light hit it, oh it was like watching music take wing and fly around. The whole storeroom would light up and sing like some incredible beehive, or like how love sounds when it's played just right. I'd get lost for hours just watching and listening.

But anyway, I had been using this clay urn it came in originally for a doorstop. Funny, the oldest container in here and I was using it for a doorstop. It's a big door, though, and a big urn. Plus it was all I could get to fast enough that also had a tight cap and so there I was racing around, trying to scoop up as much as I could and racing back to the urn, and then fighting with the cork and all the time trying not to spill any of my carefully saved Creativity. Dumping it in nice and careful so it wouldn't bruise, then shove the cork back in tight and run run run again, try to find a big spill or a pile or a drift that looked fairly clean and fresh and scoop it up. Run. Wrestle, pour, tamp the cork in and run again. It was like a Marx Brother's movie, only not very funny. More like desperate.

When it was all over I'd saved...well, not a lot, to be honest. Maybe enough for a few years if I reallly scrimp on it, sprinkle it VERY lightly on my work. I hate to be that way, but you know that stuff is back ordered for something like the next three hundred years, and even if you've got an inside line to The Supply Agent it's still going to cost like the Devil Hisself--the memory of your first love, or the colour of your eyes, or the taste of your first kiss, and honestly I can't afford that sort of price anymore. Back when I was younger it was different, I felt free to borrow to my heart's content, loaning against the future because the future would never get here, not in a million years, but now? No, not now. Not anymore.

Now I've got the big clay urn safely stored away in the back in a little closet, and I keep the door closed. I keep the big black iron key on this leather cord around my neck so only I can get to it. I've even got a long-handled scoop my father made me out of a gourd he grew, way back when I was a little boy. I'd show it to you but it's hanging on the back of the door, and I'd have to open the room and...well, whenever I open the room I feel like I have to check on the level, and when I pop that cork off and see how low the level is...well, you understand. I like that gourd scoop more than metal, it seems to react less with the granules and I've got so little left now I can't be losing any more to spoilage.

No, can't lose anymore. So that's why there's no Poetry Friday Challenge today. Sorry guys.

Feb 5, 2008

Hotel Blue Dog*

Hotels are strange places, like airports or hospitals. They're places of transition, places where roots cannot take hold, where hearts cannot find purchase and any sense of normal is lost in the nap of last decade's carpeting.

In the Victorian Age it wasn't uncommon for a single man of any age to live in a hotel. Think about it--crowded city, you don't have a lot of ready cash to maintain a home but you can afford a hotel room. With that hotel room comes meals, maid service, laundry, the works. Why WOULDN'T you live in a hotel? Dr. John Watson did it before he met Sherlock Holmes, and I'm certain that the fact of a hotel-dweller was such a commonplace one that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle never blinked when he wrote that portion of Watson's life.

I know it's not nearly as commonplace as it used to be, but there are still people who maintain residence in hotels. Now no longer a status quo thing, it strikes me now as an odd thing indeed. A hotel is no longer a genteel place of quiet elegance, luxury and clean sheets. No, now a hotel is like an eatery--get 'em in and get 'em out as fast as you can while letting your cash filters work on their wallets. Do just the bare minimum, don't worry if the towels are thin and trot out the cheap stuff for overpriced meals. Oh, and stuff the smokers way at the top where the air conditioners can't work enough to counteract the heat rising from all those bodies and all that machinery.

The hotel stay this weekend in Pine Bluff brought this on, if you're curious. On the outside and in the atrium the hotel we were in was lovely. Softly upholstered furniture, lovely plants, huge towering front wall of glass five stories tall. Thick carpets muffled footsteps and the wheels of the huge brass luggage carts that trundled here and there with their loads.

The hotel computer lost our reservation that was made some two months ago. I waited half an hour behind two other people who also had no longer had rooms reserved. The receptionist had all the look and attitude of a greasy spoon waitress and was apparently the only person in the entire place. The A/C didn't work very well, the bed was a piece of styrofoam glued to a wooden box and the low-consumption shower head made you feel like you were taking a shower in a high-powered steam pressure washer; you could lather up but actual WATER never rolled off your skin, it simply evaporated there was so little of it. Now they're trying to charge us twice for the room they failed to reserve after they lost our credit card number.

Then there were the people. There's always the people.

The hotel allowed pets for the dog show, so everywhere you looked people had dogs. Even at 4 in the morning when I got up to let Belle out to pee there were people walking with their furry charges, said canines either headed to the landscape with full bladders or back to their rooms with smiles on their muzzles, towing their sleepwalking owners behind on leashes. They weren't the strange ones, though.

There was Creepy Balcony Guy who was somewhere on the fifth floor with us. Literally every time I walked to the elevator or walked back to the room he'd be there near the little bench set aside for the smokers. He'd be sitting there, or pacing around it, his thick, clay-like face molded into some inscrutable, temper-tantrum writhe. He was almost always talking on his cellular phone to some distant person. He'd have a cigarette clenched in his fingers but never be smoking it, and he'd speak in a low mutter, as though his clay lips weren't quite motile enough to form clear words.

There was The Laptop Person, a strangely waifish, androgynous creature who would appear at odd times on the balcony ringing the third floor. This non-sex person would carefully balance their laptop on the six-inch wide ledge and begin working, the red glow from the bottom of their wireless mouse a demonic counterpoint to the pasty glow reflecting on their face from the screen. The rooms all had hookups for internet; why this person felt the need to precariously balance their Thinkpad on a ledge over a thirty foot fall is beyond me.

There was The Man Mountain, a four hundred pound sack of man who recoiled so hard into the corner of the elevator when our four pound Papillion entered that I thought I heard the glass wall creak. When Belle appeared behind her I thought he was going to begin gibbering in terror. When we offered to take the next car he refused, saying he was fine when it was obvious that he was about to climb out of his own ample skin.

There was The Bartender. We found her working in the tiny bar downstairs, a twenty-something grade-school dropout who didn't know how to mix drinks or worse, use a credit card machine. It was an all-cash evening in the bar for a sold-out hotel. Our friend's husband was helping this waste of oxygen to mix margaritas part of the evening--the only tequila available was Petron which I'm told retails at $35 a bottle and he was mixing them STOUT. The housekeeper-turned-bartender was charging house-brand prices: $3. I wish I'd known this before they emptied the entire fifth.

And then there was The Blue Dog Channel.

Channel 12 on the cable tv showed that image. Only that image. It never wavered, it never changed. I'd be sitting there on the unyielding, orange-striped couch; tired, delirious with the day's activities, wanting only the familiar image of some show I knew to soothe me. I'd start flipping channels hoping for The History Channel or Discovery or Sci-Fi, and there'd it be, always a few keypresses away.

The Blue Dog Channel.

No music, no sound of any sort, just that blue cartoon dog forever begging, that enigmatic dog-smile on it's muzzle, it's paws held in an attitude of beatific canine panhandling. It had to be one of the most surreal things I've ever experienced. Rodrigue would have been beside himself with envy. I first saw The Blue Dog Channel Friday evening when we arrived. When we left near 11 on Sunday morning he was still there, smiling faintly, waiting for some gentle soul to take pity.

* I know this makes the entire weekend sound bad, and it wasn't. I always feel unsettled when I'm in a transitory place like a hotel or an airport, and so I wanted to see if I could share that feeling with you. Everything I wrote about actually happened, I just played up the 'Alice down the rabbit-hole' feelings.

post scriptum: I finally uploaded some of the hotel photos.

Feb 4, 2008


Since this is the second time VW has amassed the Catchphrase list, this is Number Two*. Heh heh...poo joke.

The Patented Sunday Vagapocalypse Catchphrase List!

All the catchphrases that you need to be using around the water cooler, the copier and the sperm bank tomorrow!

  • creepy balcony guy
  • Show our tits?
  • Turn left now.
  • Is she the mamma?
  • Daughter of the Vibrating Cone
  • Paul Revere Ribeye
  • Jewish squirrel
  • urinal cake
  • catch the gay

Remember, kids, we've used these words in a sentence today.

So hey, how is everyone on an 11:00 am showing rather than 10:30? Or a complete change of day and time? Any ideas?
* "Do come and see me. Number Two. The Green Dome." (for all the fans of Number Six and The Village.)