Jun 23, 2008

One Thousand Two Hundred and Forty Five.

That's how many posts I've put up here, not counting this one and not counting the dozen or so I've still got in draft form. Also not counting the handful of radio shows nor the trainspotting blog. Honestly? It's time for a break.

A break from the blogs, from the radio show, from this damned pane of glass that separates me from all of you. No drama queening, no emo-crying to see who actually cares about me and who doesn't. No, I like to think I'm a little more grown up than that. I could be wrong, too. I just feel like I've worn the trunk a little too long; it's time to take it off and let my muscles relax a little bit.

I'd say "I hope to be back soon," but hope can be a two-edged sword, can't it? Only time will tell.

All my love,
Paul

Jun 22, 2008

The Irrelephant Show

Oh yeah, you need to listen to this one, if only to see how badly I handle having the show cut in half.

Somehow BTR had my current and all my upcoming segments marked as half hour shows, so as soon as the show went live I was already halfway done.

BUT! Batgirl was an excellent guest, gave us the entire lowdown on North Cali vs Arizona, went into extensive detail on second-hand superhero gear and even managed twenty two questions out of the one hundred thirty five on the Lightning Round!

In other show news, Stucco taunted us all from Grant's Pass, Oregon's scenic beach. The bastard. But Schmoopie made it all better by giving him such a bitch-slap his photo fell off the wall back at their Seattle abode.

So! Without further ado (since as Americans our attention spans are minute indeed)

The List!


    PRESHOW:
  • I has an estuary . . . let me show you it!
  • Good times.

    SHOW:
  • The Pacific Ocean is claiming my son’s socks.
  • It sounds like Stucco is spinning the Twister wheel.
  • What the hell, may I ask, were you doing on my rappel tower?
  • This is what not to do, *whoooosh*.
  • Is there a big market for second-hand superhero gear?
  • In my mind, it’s bad-ass.
  • Who’s the arch rival?
  • Why don’t you McGuyver some of that shit?
  • I’m still working on the infinite number of monkeys/infinite number of typewriters idea.
  • Asking for warning labels might be a little preemptive.
  • Broke-ass ganstas
  • Have we discussed frog butt?
  • Turn left NOW!
  • Turtle ‘tocks: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vulgarwizard/2598508781/
  • Everything’s brown out here.
  • California and Oregon are the new Florida?
  • Batgirl wears the skin-tight vinyl Batgirl suit, right? Lie to me if you have to.
  • Who needs Viagra? Touch a jellyfish to your package.
  • Bail out red leader!
  • Maybe the Brit chick needs to set her watch.
  • Spitening Round!
  • *bizorch*
  • I peed in a light socket.
  • EVERYTHING GIVES HIM GAS!
  • Does this look infected?
  • It looks self-inflicted.
  • Humping a bus driver, what?
  • Don’t worry, Dirty Uncle Jiggles will help you.
  • Dropping deuces left and right
  • At least it isn’t in my cone.
  • Christina Aguilera is straight outta Compton, right?
  • She beat her phone into submission.
  • Please massa – no mo! I’s be a good phone.
  • I already beat the cone into submission. It was a grudge match.
  • Put the smack down on that ass!
  • Pink is the new black.
  • Can I get a mulligan?
  • BTR is really starting to chap my cone zone. I’m getting bent here.
  • Fuck all that nose. Noise.
  • I did most of the inappropriate touching. Scott’s a ho.
  • I no need guns.
  • I no need hall pass.
  • 119 degrees is Nature’s way of saying eff yourself.
  • *Schmoopie bitch-slaps Stucco*
  • Who the fuck needs a cone?
  • Vinyl buttsuit?
  • Hit him with the Bible!
  • One hotel had the teachings of Buddha.
  • We passed a strip club on the way down called Jiggles.
  • Home of the Flopper
  • With a spoon? Like the ninja nurses do?
  • It said, “BJ Cummings.”
  • The late Mrs. Swallows
  • Sounds like a do-wop band.

    POSTSHOW:
  • All up in yo ass!
  • ou made BTR’s bunghole angry.
  • Come out with your pants down!
  • That would be me . . . I’m a couple of five-year-olds.
  • He needs bag balm.
  • If it ain’t something you don’t use on a moustache, he don’t know what it is.
  • It's like having another hand on the farm or a helper around the house.
  • I first started using this on my mother when
  • NEXT WEEK, SIR? I’M NOT SURE I UNDERSTOOD YOU.
  • I can haz beech?
  • Gestapo Finland?
  • There’s always room for Jell-O
  • PRONG


Yeah, we missed you too. Join us next week?

Jun 20, 2008

Poetry Friday Challenge: Déjà Vu

Poetry Friday. Challenge. That's the key word there. "Challenge."


...It was a dark and stormy night. The First Mate came on deck and stood beside the captain. "Tell me a story," the Captain said, and this is the story the First Mate told:

It was a dark and stormy night. The First Mate came on deck and stood beside the captain. "Tell me a story," the Captain said, and this is the story the First Mate told:

It was a dark and stormy night...*


You'll have to forgive me. Mona handed us a real woolybugger for a Poetry Friday word. "Déjà vu." The feeling that you've been somewhere or done something before when you haven't. It's a creepy, skin-crawling sort of feeling, a feeling that nudges the shivering, scared primate who huddles at the back of our skulls and sends him running for the comfort of his fire. It suggests to us that there is no free will, that all is predetermined and somehow, lucky you, you got a glimpse of your set path. You were given a glimpse of What Is Going To Be, and you can no more deviate from that path than a train can steer off it's rails and take that scenic dirt road, so you relive that moment, staring wide-eyed.

When I was a kid I had déjà vu all the time. Events would spring out at me from nowhere, tackle me with all the force of a beer truck and I'd find myself physically reeling, shocked into insensibility over the idea that _I'd done this exact thing before,_ only I hadn't. I'd dreamed it. It hasn't happened in a very long time, though.

I miss it. I really do. I know the big-head psychology guys have determined that déjà vu is simply a function of our brains, ever hungry as they are for patterns and sense. Our magnificent minds remember a snippet of a dream or take some half-forgotten remnant of a memory and match it to a current event so that suddenly we're stumbling, grinning inanely, certain that we've had a premonition, a sudden touch of magic, felt the brush of a phoenix's feather across our skin and the whisper of a dragon's scales on mounds of shining gold. Something took that from me, though. Perhaps my dreams have entered some other sphere, or perhaps my story-telling apparatus up there that only comes alive when I fall asleep is tired of things too close to reality and instead insists on showing me marble staircases on which I constantly slip, teasing me with symbols and signs.

There's still a part of me, perhaps that huddling primate in me that wants to Believe. It wants to believe in sky gods, in signs and portents, in magic. It desperately wants to believe that cards can tell it's future, that if only it prays hard enough Zombie Jesus will grant all it's wishes. It wants to believe that it can see the future in tiny glimpses, that it can lie in it's pile of leaves and dream vast, incomprehensible dreams of the future that will come true, shocking it like a bucket of cold water dashed in it's face.

Until modern science can effect those changes in my mind I guess I'll have to do what I've always done to try and trigger déjà vu--rely on very sharp, fast blows to my frontal lobe.

_____________________
* Freely stolen from Neil Gaiman. I'm not THAT clever.

Jun 17, 2008

Honor Amongst Thieves

It's a funny old world we live in.

There's always someone or something inside us that says "Hey Mac, you're about to do Wrong. If you go past this point you can't go back." Sometimes there's outsiders willing to offer you the consequences of passing that marker: police, firemen, lawyers. People assigned to watch these markers and make corrections to those who pass them. Surprisingly, there's people on the other side of some of those markers who themselves become the watchers, the enforcers, preventing others from going farther than they did.

Graffiti. I don't live in a huge town but even here it's apparent. Bridges, overpasses, any sort of vertical structure plays host to the tagger. Sometimes they're as simple as a few scrawls of black Krylon and some as complex as any modern painting. Either way they're as ubiquitous as cars on a city street, and more plentiful. They're also illegal, since taggers aren't known for being law-abiding. They are, after all, usually painting on privately- or publically-owned properties.

Train cars are a major canvas for taggers. They're large and stable, extremely plentiful, stored in quiet dark places overnight or longer and they have the side benefit of being mobile, so your work gets displayed in finer trainyards and warehouse districts the country over. They're so widely and plentifully used that there's grown a codified and rigorously patrolled set of rules and regulations about vandalizing them amongst the vandals.

What brought this to mind, you ask? This email, sent to me by a contact on Flickr who appreciates my "benching." (Taking and sharing photos of graffiti.) We've written back and forth a few times, he thinking I was a painter (I'm not,) and I have gotten the impression that he wants an audience, wants me to meet him locally to record his own tagging in process. I reproduce the email here just as he wrote it.

brrn going on to buhlow [Fort Buhlow Lake, home to a three-rail siding set where the KCS leaves cuts of cars overnight and longer, a crossing, a public boat landing and a very nice park. Irr] alot latley..some kid did a throwie(tag) on the box leading into the park....if u see any more types of shit like that.. like anyone leaving spray paint cans.. or writing on shit besides trains.. tell me.. that kids going to get an ass beating when we find him.. painting the trains is one thing.. but dont go around writing on the chrome boxes/other rail road property.. or property of buhlow..these new kids have no respect for notin..


I was astounded and, surprisingly, proud of 5niner (the artist.) At every major crossing you'll find a squarish silver box, labeled with the name of the railroad that owns and maintains it and a plaque with the mile marker number, the crossing number and some other useful info on it, including a phone number to call if you're car is stranded in the crossing. These units house the electrical components of a crossing: fuses, electrical wiring for the crossing gates and wig-wag lights, and in some cases sensors to tell Central Control if there's a fault onboard passing trains. They're also, apparently, not to be touched EVER. Unspoken rule. Code of the Road.

So. What have we learned? It's okay to paint on boxcars (someone else's property) because... well, because it is. It's done so often as to be quasi-legal now. It's NOT okay, however, to defile other railroad property, nor is it acceptable to leave your empty paint cans lying around. Plus, if your favourite tagging spot happens to be on a city-owned park property you don't profane that either. You respect the area. If you don't, you get a serious realignment of your outlook by other, older taggers.

In exchange for your cooperation with these unspoken rules? In exchange you get harassed by the cops a little less because you're vandalizing but with a very narrow scope, a focus that's sadly lacking in most other people. You're not littering, you're not painting park property, you're simply painting boxcars. You're out there wishing significant others a happy birthday, calling for the release of imprisoned friends, staking out territory and over all you're making a semi-permanent mark of your presence in a city or state. But, you're doing it in a very controlled manner, one which hopefully will keep the 5-Oh off your ass.

Rules within rulebreaking. Laws you don't read about in the books but you live by if you're within their scope. Curiouser and curiouser.

Jun 16, 2008

The Irrelephant Show - Now Goat Free!

Well, we seem to have misplaced our special guest for this past show, but that didn't stop us from being feelthy peegs.

THE LIST!


  • Dirty Uncle Jiggles
  • I have this horrible fear of alligators.
  • pre-shredded for your ease
  • Weeelllll, this is a RURAL post office; we were waitin' fer ya to call and say you were ready!
  • Yee-muthafuckin'-haw!
  • Fancy Dan
  • SEACREST OUT of cones!
  • Put the cone out there and let it mow!
  • I found Al Gore at the end of my Internets.
  • I like the remote control vibe panties.
  • Pompadours Save!
  • I'm a damned Hanson dweeb!
  • There's too much porn that needs to be looked at.
  • You're in a dark room. Your balls hurt. What do you do?
  • I miss my Atari.
  • "Thanks for the sex, early 90's printer."
  • Pron is great, pron is good, let us thank it for this food . . . yadda, yadda, yadda
  • HEAVY! BLACK! PENDULOUS!
  • It was about a werebeaver.
  • Her cooter grows teeth and has to gnaw down some trees.
  • OMG, she looked like Amy Winehouse!
  • It's not ah toomah!
  • Sex versus robes . . . I'm sorry, it's all over.
  • Church of Poonanny
  • Church of Cooter
  • Catha-ho-lick
  • Baptits
  • Coneunion
  • Press-my-teary-uns
  • Stuccoirr Penis Wafers
  • Body of Christ, part of this complete breakfast
  • Heresy Bars
  • poonTANG . . . the asstronauts drank it!
  • gummi light houses
  • Condition REG-GUMMI-COCK, high alert, people!
  • Soylent Stucco is Peeps


Yeah, you're itching to know where to sign up, right? Well, don't let me stand in your way!

Jun 14, 2008

June Showers

You know, I'm not sure at all what June showers bring. The flowers have been here and the garden is growing but only because I planted really late this season.

The weather, always a sort of crapshoot down here in the Mississippi Delta has been utterly unusual the last two days. It's been nice, you see. The sky has been filled with scads and gobs of clouds; huge puffy things, white and billowing. The wind has stayed up too, which is equally odd. Usually land this flat doesn't really generate a lot of place for wind to form and play, but the past two days we've kept a steady, nice breeze up.

The best part? Showers. Small ones, tiny even. Sun all day, the breeze carrying gleefully singing birds along, leaves flying and dancing. The clouds drift by over head making shapes for imaginative people to look up to, and then out of this sky a rain shower out of nowhere.

Now ordinarily a rain shower in the midst of summer in LA is grounds for a great weeping and gnashing of teeth and rending of garments. Rain in the midst of heat the likes of which we get is the same as making all outdoors into a giant Turkish bath, hold the benches, the tile, and the sweaty people in white fluffy towels. Extra on the sweating please. Rain in the midst of this sort of heat makes the roads steam thickly, like a wet black iron skillet over a stove burner.

This past week however there was none of that. The wind has kept the temperature down enough that you could step foot outside without instantly breaking into a sweat, and the rain seemed every day to come and leave again within five minutes, leaving everything brighter. Today after the rain the grass seemed greener, the asphalt of the parking lot gleamed like ebony and everything smelled clean and fresh and new.

I know that the passing days will take that comfortable temperature away, will replace it with the "damp wool blanket fresh from an oven" feeling that summer here has, but for now it was enough to simply stand in the doorway and watch the drops fall.

Jun 13, 2008

The Irrelephant Show

Don't forget, coming up this Sunday at 6pm CST we'll be hosting Jay from Kill The Goat! Lots and lots of goatie goodness for one and all, plus some tittilating stories from the Great White North. Don't miss it!

The next Sunday we'll be batcaving with the one and only Batgirl from The Legend of Batgirl. Post-crimefighting she's gone into catering and blogging. No word on the slinky spandex costume or the purple motorcycle, but we'll certainly ask.

Remember, all you have to do is clickety one of the links on the left bar there just before the show or follow the post title link to the site itself. Or, if you're far too busy at the time (Mona) you can always listen to the archived show by clicking the big blue box.

Thank you, won't you?

Poetry Friday Challenge: Change

Mona delivered up another one unto us, her humble challengees. A word that, like many English words has more than one meaning.

So, in the spirit of one word with several meanings may I present for your elucidation and entertainment a collection of little bits that have been rattling around in my pockets for some time now. None of them are big enough to use by themselves but all together they make up about enough to buy a Coke-flavoured Icee at the corner store.


Uber Alles!

I used to love to watch "Wings" on the Discovery Channel, specifically the “Wings Of The Luftwaffe” episodes. Call it a mild obsession, call it what you will, I simply enjoyed learning about those magnificently-engineered flying machines. Like Burgess’ title character in A Clockwork Orange, however, I became behaviourally trained. Images inextricably linked in my mind to a piece of music, I was set up like Pavlov's pooch. The producers of the episodes must have thought it clever to play background music from a famous German composer while showing vintage film footage of these German aircraft dog-fighting, dropping bombs, and in turn being turned into balls of flaming debris by Allied fighters.

Now I cannot hear the second movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's Pathetique without seeing Messerschmitt Me 109 fighters firing their guns into slow-moving formations of Allied Flying Fortresses, or Heinkel HE-111 bombers dropping their payload of death over grainy, black-and-white towns. Hearing the Ninth Symphony’s opening bars brings to my mind juddering grey images of baby-faced airmen carefully fueling experimental Luftwaffe aircraft, pumping in liquids so dangerous that the crewmen risk being engulfed in flame, much as the waiting townspeople will be when this craft appears overhead.


Don’t You Go Changing

Prince Barin: I've changed.
Princess Aura: I've changed, too.
Zarkov: [Successfully picks the electronic door lock] A-ha! I knew it was one of the prime numbers of the Zenith series. I haven't changed.


All Change:

In a motherly-stern but carefully nonthreatening tone the overhead announcement said “Unattended vehicles will be towed.”

“Unattended vehicles will be toad” said the echo.

I wondered if my vehicle was parked precipitously close to an amphibian as I boarded the shuttle. The driver called out in a weary sing-song “Airport shuttle, last stop, Concourse A, all change.” Finding a seat between two harried travelers I wondered if he knew just how right he was.


You Cannot Step In The Same River Twice

I feel like I don’t change, that time doesn’t affect me, that I’m still the same person I used to be five, ten, twenty years ago but I know I’m wrong. I can’t help but change, none of us can help it, cannot even lift a finger to slow the process. I used to feel I was like a boulder set in the river, unchanging, unaffected. I’m good at thinking things about myself that are patently wrong, though. I’m certain I’m not changing when the river is steadily wearing away at me, even more patient that the stone I feel I am. Slowly, so slowly I can’t even see it I’m being ground down into sand, left there in the river bottom in a pale swath until one day the water will flow on, it’s surface undisturbed by the rock that used to sit there.

Jun 9, 2008

The Irrelephant Show: The Cataclysm Episode

You know it's going to be one hell of a show when the system that hosts you crashes the moment your show goes live.

Yes, for those of you who listen to the show on archive that's why there's a huge silent gap right at the beginning. BTR broke it off in me. Not to be outdone the rest of the show broke it off in me, too! Be sure and listen for my screams of moral outrage and physical agony. Enriching!

BUT! *chortle*

You know you've been waiting for it--watercooler chatters everywhere, here are the buzzwords Of The Future!

The List!




    PRESHOW
  • Irrelephant wanted to get the jump on me.
  • black penis of death
  • It rolls it's own smoke
  • Keep your fork, there's pie!
  • Fill a goat?

    SHOW
  • Fuck me running.
  • Your cataclysm will begin in 2 minutes.
  • That was a boot to the head.
  • the spork that tore down this wall, Mr. Gorbachev
  • leveled-up
  • How far can you throw a bratwurst?
  • A spy leaking from his butt?
  • what a little girly man with fruit and granola
  • pi nutz
  • a round-heeled whore
  • Houston, we're a no-go for lift-off, over.
  • Yay, pants!
  • Message ALX - you've been screwed!
  • titty
  • a car in Australia called Holden Kingswood
  • how about a Harrison Ford Woody?
  • All the better for you asking, how are you?
  • Is it true that PacNW girls drive trucks?
  • They have to see you violating.
  • Have a cone and a smile.
  • I think they ought to transition cigarettes to tampons.
  • Did you just say "cooter cancer?"
  • Don't they call them Marlboro Reds anyway?
  • Suuuuuuuuuuuure it is.
  • The Brown Note
  • ball-sitter
  • It'll uncurl his moustache.
  • Happy Anti-Back Pain Ball with Prong and Cone Attachment
  • BBQ prong
  • pointy bits
  • speckled-trout dick . . . is that like spotted dick?
  • cold boner
  • menage a' triage
  • Is it ipicac or ipicock?
  • Bobbit Bacon
  • goddamned bleach
  • new car scent for the cooch
  • My bed has termites.
  • Rod Munch
  • Salty Cone

    POSTSHOW
  • Stuccopropriate
  • Don't drop your kids off at the pool!
  • 212-479-7990 . . . call it for instant rejection


Go on, you know you want some.

Next Sunday, we bring Jay from Kill The Goat back to a sort of shambling, zombie-like half Goatlife! Or something.

Sunday after that (the 21st) we'll have Batgirl from The Legend of Batgirl. Be sure to bring all your fliedermaus-related questions.

Two Moments From A Morning

Luft


Right near my office is the official Louisiana Welcome Center, or at least one of them. Like most any public work in LA it’s a simple affair, every expense spared to help line someone's pockets with the savings. A pair of buildings set cat-a-corner to each other make up it's layout, connected by wrap-around porches and fronted with a deep parking lot designed for everything from cars to those massive fifty foot motor homes (with attendant paint-matched car towed behind) that always seem to be exiting the interstate to stop over. This morning was no exception; there was a motorcoach parked there having it’s windshield cleaned by the owner. What caught my eye was not the coach itself but what it was towing; not a car but a trailer.

The trailer was white, glossily so. It was riding on a small, narrow pair of wheels, thin as a whore’s promise. They didn’t look strong enough to hold up the apparent weight of the thing, as it was big: a thin tube, round at the front, tapering toward the end some thirty feet away and just a few feet wide. At the very end was a peculiar, up-thrust keel, making it look as though some emaciated Giant had died and this was his form-fitted coffin being towed to some unhallowed cemetery. The image gnawed at me for some time: what could possibly ride in a trailer that narrow, that long?

I knew no sailboat would look like that, not just a few feet thick, and besides the keel would be in the middle and very long and deep, not a small, tail-mounted affair. This being the Sportsman's Paradise I've seen my share of sailboats, and even broken into bits this was no sailboat. Perhaps a submarine?

I bandied about the idea of it being the travel trailer for a land-speed vehicle: it’s missle-like length and fin would suit the rocket-ship shape of some of the fastest land-speed vehicles but Louisiana is a long way from the Bonneville Salt Flats, and those ridiculously thin tires would never hold the weight of a massive engine.

It took an hour of pondering to occur to me: it was a glider. Wings detached and laid alongside, the bump at the end the housing for the rudder, and the tires need not carry but possibly a hundred pounds if that, the aircraft being ultra lightweight. I could only imagine what destination the owner was bound for, what vast silent skies.


Working On The Chain Gang


Louisiana doesn't have chain gangs anymore, but we do have lots of things for "trusties" to do. There's a huge farm near here that grows a lot of the food used in the parish jail, and there's always a road gang out picking up litter on the highways and back roads. I passed one this morning--a big white secure transport covered in electric blue LED flashing lights, an overweight prison guard and a number of youngish guys in white jumpsuits with numbers on the backs and over the pockets, each wearing reflective safety vests and carrying either trash sacks or weed-trimmers. They were working behind the DOTD's bush-hog tractors, picking up the bits and pieces of trash that the spinning blades had sent across the medians during last week's cut.

Coming back toward the office I slowed, as I always do. Not so much to gawk but to make sure I have operating room 'just in case.' As I passed, the main knot of trusties was up under the shade cast by overhanging trees along the edge of where the cutters could reach, collecting bits and pieces of trash and clearing away splintered wood and branches where the machines trimmed the overhang.

What caught my eye was one good-sized fellow, stepping up out of the ditch and onto the shoulder. Personally he was a study in colours--his skin was so black as to appear purple in the difuse morning light, made darker so in contrast to his white prison-issue jumpsuit. The sweat of his exertions made his skin gleam like wet leather, and his muscles were obvious. His grin was a white scythe of moon in a night sky, and this grin was caused by his burden.

Gripped carefully by the outside edges of it's shell was a huge turtle; deep muddy green on top, burnished old ivory yellow on it's bottom, it looked for all the world like a huge chunk of moldering tree trunk. The trustie held it like an empty serving platter, nearly parallel to his chest but out, to avoid the big, clawed feet flailing around for purchase.

For just the briefest moment I could see the kid he'd been--eager, exploring the world with eyes and ears and mouth and hands, all wide-eyed wonder. He was carrying this monster turtle across the road to put it back in the standing water swamp that abuts the highway there, no doubt where it originated. It made me feel good to see this man offering a simple kindness, speaking as someone who has often braved a sharp bite from a red-eared snapping turtle while trying to get it out of the flow of traffic.

I can't imagine what if any ribbing he got from his fellow inmates, and certainly don't know for what offense he was incarcerated. None of that really mattered in the brief seconds I saw him. What mattered was that he was willing to do what he felt needed doing and the consequences be damned.

This time what needed doing just happened to involve a morning, a road gang, a nearby swamp inlet and a fifty pound turtle.

Jun 7, 2008

Collect THIS

Collection agencies. I've had very limited dealings with them, mostly back in my past, and I like to keep it that way.

They're vile, despicable creatures, collection agents, but they're doing a necessary job: making you be responsible. I learned early on how easy it was to get into debt, very deeply, and also how tough it is to get back OUT, but I'm getting there. My ex-wife, however, still has someone chasing her.

When she divorced me she took a brand new Honda Civic and her Texaco card and high-tailed it some 1500 miles to the East Coast to shack up with some loser. Stayed there two months then hightailed it from North Carolina all the way to Oregon, where she finally went to ground. Now, don't think she had any cash to pay for this exodus. No, it all went on her Texaco card. Gas and any sort of food she could get in a Texaco station.

Never paid a penny on the bills, naturally. Which for a while kept coming here. I being the dutiful ex-husband kept writing and calling and so forth, telling these people her new address, her new phone number and her old name. With only their best interests at heart I kept tabs on her just so I could help her creditors find her.

Why do I bring up something, you ask? A piece of long past, an event that happened almost twelve years ago? My answer?

Disgust.

Disgust over how Texaco STILL has not collected their bill. I received a letter for her the other day from a company called MKM Acquisitions, LLC based in New Yawk. The reason I give their name? Because they're obviously profoundly, purblind stupid. They're so mouth-breathing insipid that they're still asking for her to pay this bill by a letter sent TO MY HOUSE. A house she left some dozen years ago. Uhm...guys? I told all of you a long time ago where she is. I know that you bought the account from Texaco, I've told you before where she is. I've told you her new phone number. Even her cellular number. I've done everything but hand deliver your insipidly misdirected letter to her front door. A simple check on www.zabbasearch.com will GIVE you her current address and telephone number, and will tell you that she last lived here, the address you're now vainly trying to reach her at, VERY many years ago. What's cool? It'll tell you where she is NOW.

Oddly enough it's gonna match the information I gave you a decade ago.

Jeebux H. Gold-Plated Cripes, people, how do you stay in business if you can't even use simple tools like the internet to find these deadbeats? I mean, come on people, this isn't rocket surgery! You've even got her SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER for pete's priapic sake! If you can't track one now-gainfully employed person in this country with that vital and most important piece of information then maybe you're in the wrong business! Holding your letter in my hand I can only assume that you are in fact in the wrong business because you're still vainly fumble-fucking around with the address that was on a credit card some decade or more ago, trying to collect a bill.

End of rant.

Jun 6, 2008

In Just Seven Days I Can Make You A Man

And I’m not talking about anyone named “Rocky” in gold speedo trunks.

Like most of my fellow Americans, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about my personal fitness. I’ve never been a gym rat, and have never gone way out of my way to eat well. Oh, I’ve made efforts and concessions in the “eat better” realm. I don’t eat McFood and try to avoid anything sold in a gas station and/or anything deep fat fried. I’ve cut way back on my salt intake and don’t drink sodas anymore. I don’t work out in the typical 'go to the gym three times a week' sense, as I always assumed that riding around the yard on my lawn tractor for four hours a weekend was enough physical exertion for any one man, and that all the muscle workout I needed would be received by turning the steering wheel, working the brake pedal occasionally, and by extended exposure to the sun.

I was surprised on my last doctor visit to find that my blood work reported that I was, except for a few extra pounds, remarkably healthy. Everything was within acceptable range; my heart rate and blood pressure, my LDL and HDL, all the counts of those little floating wobbly bits in me, it was all normal. I was so shocked all the blood drained out of my head and I had to be admitted to the ICU for a serious head trauma from bouncing off the concrete floor.

When I worked at Orifice Depot I was fairly healthy, physically speaking. I spent five years working in the furniture department, which meant I also got to be the Receiving/Warehouse Bitch. This meant that I was the rube roped and belted into the OSHA-approved torture rack on front of the forklift and was forced to shove around flat-packed RTA (ready-to-assemble) furniture very high up in steel racking. The lightest particle-board computer desk started at about 60 pounds and went well up from there: the average allowable weight in a flat-pack is 250 pounds and I sold a lot of desks that had to be packed in two separate boxes.

Needless to say I was pretty proud of my musculature.

Well, that all exercise sans warmups or any sort of balanced regime came at a price. Two bulging discs in my back, a torn rotator cuff, a pair of bad knees made worse and a lot of general owies. And then I got a desk job and lost all that tone. Sadly enough, the aches and pains stayed with me.

No fair!

When I started looking at the KCS jobs I realised that I'd have to get my back into some sort of shape, which meant strengthening it. Bulging discs simply ARE, there's no real repairing them but you can minimize further damage by having healthy musculature, so I turned to the wonders of the Internet Tubes. Found a workout that didn't seem to be TOO difficult nor did it cost anything, so I printed out the twenty or so exercises with their attendant instructions and went to it. This was last month.

Oddly enough, I'm still doing those exercises. It's been an interesting month, I have to say. I've gone from having almost zero tone in my abdominal and lower back muscles to having...well, I have muscles now. I know I have them because they're often sore and always complaining. But, I can do thirty situps now with a minimum of anguished groaning and can manage to do twenty pushups in a row without having to lie on the carpet for a while panting and praying that I don't have an aneurism. Progress!

I guess it was inevitable. Too many years have gone by since I could run anywhere, and I fully remember a childhood spent running everywhere. Even bicycling makes me winded, and I know for a fact that I rode the tires off more than a few bikes as a kid. So, I'm starting small. My back regime takes half an hour to perform from beginning to end, including all the yoga-like stretching and such, and I do it every other day. A month in I don't see chiseled results like you supposedly get just from posing around a BowFlex machine but hey, Rome wasn't built in a day, right?

Me, I'm just hoping for a little less Roman rotunda and a little more Tower of Pisa. Lean optional.

___________________
If you're curious, here's the link to the program I'm using. It's very low impact and very gentle, and I can honestly say I've felt a lot more flexibility in all of my back, more than I've had in a long time.

Jun 4, 2008

Crown Man

I keep wanting to make that into Soundgarden's "Spoon Man" but can't, somehow.

On this the anniversary of the Montgolfier's flight in their marvelous hot air balloon (look it up, it's worthwhile, and the envelope looks like a Fabrege' egg) I guess it's time to trot out my ballooning stories again. Finally. The careful interaction of disparate entities moving toward a common goal--flight. I've had the marvelous good fortune to be out with David and Skybird twice now in two weeks*, and both times have been as good as the first. My responsibilities, however, have grown.

When I first started crewing with David I felt like an outsider, which I was. I was trying to help two men who had been working together for over 18 years. I may as well have tried to stand in for George Burns with Gracie Allen. Slowly, though, I learned and grew and figured it out.

David is a former Air Force pilot, you see. In his calm, methodical head he has the checklists and every time he even thinks about flying that balloon he goes over them without skipping, without hurrying. It's the same pattern every time, and that's how mistakes are minimized. Me, I'm starting to fit into that pattern, having learned how things go. Now I can forsee the next step, usually, and can be ready for it.

It's an incredible feeling.

Two weekends ago I stepped way up, way past my usual "strong back weak mind" position. Jim wasn't able to be there and so that put me as crown man AND as the driver of the chase truck. Heady stuff indeed, trying to be where a hot air balloon is going to land. Last weekend Jim was back but something had changed in the pattern. I fit in it now. I was crown man, giving Jim's hip (now eight years overdue for replacement surgery) a much needed break. I know how to burp the envelope (which is as enthralling to watch as it is to imagine) and I know how to set the top (a fifteen-foot circle of nylon that closes the top of the envelope off) and I know now not to wrap the crown rope around my hand because there are days when that envelope will leap upright and that rope will travel FAST. Friction isn't always our friend.

We had a late start last Saturday morning--the fog refused to burn or blow away and I was about to despair that we'd not be launching but time came and the procedure started. The envelope was carefully unfurled across the grass. The fan with it's airplane propeller blade was aligned alongside the gondola where it sat on it's side. The crown rope was handed to me and I was told to "get." The envelope furled and bumbled and wobbled and filled until it was standing proudly in the morning light, blue and orange nylon holding back air in excess of 210 degrees.

The moment came. Three of us were leaning on the padded edges of the gondola. David said, quietly, "Weight off." We each stood, holding our breaths it seemed. The basket stayed put. "Weight on." We leaned on the deep blue suede leather trim and he fired the ten foot gout of pale blue flame into the envelope for a breathlessly slow three count. A glance at the temperature gauge and again, quietly: "Weight off."

This time it was just right. The basket stirred like a living thing coming out of sleep and began to rise into the blue morning sky. My own ritual now--I patted David on the back and said "Safe flight" and we ground-bound ones hustled to load fan and gloves and such back in the trailer to commence the chase sequence. Radios squawked, reports of fuel consumption came to us scratchily in the truck and Jim and I peered at the map, trying to guesstimate where our pilot might go, what spot he might pick to land in, and how we could best beat him there to beg permission from some kind landowner.

The flight came to it's inevitable end hovering over an empty field. I jumped out of the truck and scaled the welded post fence to meet the basket and it's crew, remembering last weekend's ignoble tip and fall but as I bounded across the uneven briars and grass David called out "Wait!" I got within eight or so feet of the basket and watched as he lowered his cargo and craft so slowly, so perfectly down that the passengers didn't realise they'd landed. It astounded me that this contraption that weighs almost a thousand pounds all told could alight in the dewy grass with all the gentleness of a tadpole coming to rest on the bottom of a pond. I know I stood there like a kid watching a magic trick unfurl because I saw my smile echoed in David's.

The landowners arrived shortly thereafter, alerted by the roar of the propane torch and David left the envelope inflated, not hot enough to escape again but just enough to keep it full and round and lovely. The consummate showman, he spent time telling them briefly about it (88,000 cubic feet of air, four propane tanks, a "sport" model) and asking and receiving gracious permission to use any part of the landowner's 4000 acres for takeoff or landing.

The Montgolfier's never had the benefit of a chase crew but they did bring champagne with them to soothe irate manor lords. We celebrated another safe flight as we always do--with champagne and the only prayer** I will say anymore.

________________________
* Vulgar Wizard was manning the camera this time, having sprung some important muscle in her back the previous flight. Here's her breathtaking Flickr set.

**The Balloonist's Prayer

The winds have welcomed you with softness.
The sun has blessed you with his warm hands.
You have flown so high and so well
that God joined you in laughter
and set you gently back into
the loving arms of Mother Earth.

The author of the Balloonist's Prayer is unknown, but it is believed to have been adapted from an old Irish sailors' prayer.

The Irrelephant Show

My email hates me--I'm having trouble receiving The List, but here it is in all it's infinite confused glory, better late than never.

The List

(meno and Nancy Dancehall guesting)


    Preshow:
  • Computer trousers
  • Emo girl whiney shit

    Show:
  • Crown man = friend of Dorothy
  • Short for “me no want talk to you silly man”
  • Virtue is no relative of mine.
  • Meno came after Shemp but before Curly.
  • Uncle Virtue
  • Meno Marx
  • Sister of Harpo
  • Nancy “Longjam” Dancehall
  • Occuts – amazingly close to “occult”
  • “fresh fron norad” – Stucco
  • And OMG the black penis of death appeared!!!
  • Keep your black penis to yourself.
  • Bridgette the Midget
  • Worf the Dwarf
  • Porn prevents cataracts.
  • Funky hair pron
  • Does he have rivot nipples?
  • It involves finger flicking.
  • PPOrn
  • GGILF (great grandmother)
  • Whatiknowaboutggilf.com
  • Pantly Stanklaquer
  • Mooky Troubadour
  • Irr’s roots are here, in the white trash dirt.
  • Irr is on the crack.
  • Belly buttons?
  • “Flick my dick.” – Meno
  • My Friend Flicker
  • Mother flicker
  • Abso-flicking-lutely
  • Pet piranha
  • Do not taunt Happy Fun Kung Fu Condom.
  • It’s a Cling-On!

    Postshow:
  • The mofo with the proof
  • An effin gee?
  • The prongsickle man is coming!
  • Look at my prong when I’m talking to you!


Yeah, you know you want to go listen.

Jun 2, 2008

The Irrelephant Show Monday Morning Challenge

Per a challenge seeded by meno and whelped by me on yesterday's radio show, which I have to say was more along the lines of a bunch of friends sitting around a table talking than a radio show, so treat yourself to Nancy and meno and of course Stucco and Vulgar Wizard when you get the chance.

The challenge? Write a post using the word "prong" as often as possible.

Prong.

There will always be times when Life prongs you right in the tender spot. Yesterday was inclined that way.

I cut grass at the office where I work for a little extra survival cash. The usual procedure for getting ready to cut grass is to get my truck (now pushing 39 years old) fired up, pick up my brother’s trailer, come back to the house and load up the lawnmower and bring the entire works up to the office, cut grass then repeat in reverse order.

Now, being 39 years old my truck isn’t in the most mechanically perfect condition. There are a few bumps (no A/C, and the fuel gauge is a little iffy,) and a few rough spots (there’s a new hole in the wooden bed slats) and the inspection sticker has been broken for almost three years now. Yah, I don’t drive her other than to cut grass or when it rains. I’ve been very lucky.

Yesterday my luck ran out and Life decided to prong me. Repeated, as if the point needed to really be driven home.

After hooking up the trailer and making sure the lawn tractor was secure I headed toward the office. Noted the fuel gauge was resting on E which isn’t a full guarantee of fuel quantity. I think I made it a hundred and fifty yards from the house before she started sputtering. I had just enough fumes to get her off the narrow lane before she gave up the ghost entire.

Called Mrs. I to ask for a gas can and a siphon hose. In the midst of siphoning two gallons of the precious petrol out of the lawn tractor to put in the truck to get me to the nearest station the neighbors in whose front yard I had parked drove up in their Kawasaki Mule (yeah, they can afford gas so easily they DRIVE around their half acre yard) to ask if everything was okay. I spit enough Regular out of my mouth to reply that I was in fact fine, thankyouverymuch, and was simply enduring the gas crunch as best I could. They drove off with more-fuel-than-thou smiles.

Got back on the road and headed directly toward the nearest place to leave the remainder of my dwindling cash supplies. About halfway there what should materialize behind me at HIGH speed but a Sheriff’s Deputy. Pronged again, I was certain. NO cop ever drives up on you at high speed unless they have something foul in mind. (Did I mention that my speedometer is off by a fairly wide margin? And that I don’t have power brakes in the truck so some of my stops, especially when loaded tend to be more mobile than others?)

Needless to say I drove very innocently. Signaled my turn. Drove even slower than usual. The cop followed. Closely. Nearing the station the deputy swerved out around me, accelerated hard and got BACK in front of me, behind a van who then promptly executed a turn to the right from the far left lane. Cop didn’t bat an eye but turned into the gas station entrance, the same station I was headed to. Did I mention I was driving barefoot, also a traffic offense?

So, being the wise and wonderful driver I am, I pulled into a pump as far away as I could manage and started filling the tank. I was trying to position the truck and as many of the pumps between me and the deputy when a State Trooper pulled in and bleated his horn. I nearly leapt out of my skin, thought for sure the jig was up and I was about to be pronged but good.

That’s when the Universe really put the screws to me. The deputy? Red-headed. Short. Built, obviously so even under her bullet-proof vest. Pale skin. Face it, a long-haired redhead in a dark green uniform carrying a Glock .45 on a leather belt the width of my palm? Heaven on the hoof. So, being me, I walked over and asked her if she’d handcuff me, bring me to a quiet place out in the woods and rough up my suspect.

My lawyer says I’d probably have been shot on sight if she hadn’t been laughing so hard at me that she broke three ribs.

Pronged again.