Monday, February 27, 2006

Tales of small town life 4

The Platte River runs below a highway bridge about a quarter of a mile northeast of my hometown. Sometimes the river gets low enough to wade in safely. When the river is low, an occasional carp gets stranded and dies. This handful of dead carp, much like the nearby prairie dog, becomes an exaggerated excuse for nihilistic carnage on the part of bored teenagers. The idea is simple, though false: some of the carp need to be killed so the rest of them can make their way down the river safely without crowding each other onto dry land. Carp aren't particularly good to eat, so trapping them or catching them with a fishing pole isn't really a whole lot of fun. They just need to be killed, and the only humane way to do it is to wade into the river with a baseball bat, wait for some to swim by, and pound the shit out of them until they are dead. This is called "carping." When I was in eighth grade, the river was very low and carping was popular among the boys in my class. My friends asked me to go carping with them almost daily, but I always turned them down. Then, as now, I liked to spend my free time listening to music and reading, and my cruelty to animals phase ended in sixth grade, when I would shoot birds in my backyard with my brother's BB gun. Clubbing fish to death seemed like a stupid thing to do (although listening to King's X seemed like a good idea to me at the time, so I wasn't exactly free of stupidity myself). One afternoon, however, after a particularly bad day at school, three of my friends again asked me to go carping. Somehow, my distaste for the activity was momentarily replaced with curiosity and desire. This would be something new. How many times did something new present itself in my tiny little hometown? I was ready to club some fucking fish. Stupid? More like gloriously stupid. As soon as school ended, we got on our bikes and rode to the most zealous carp-beater's home for supplies. He could only find two baseball bats, one of which I was lucky enough to snag, so the other two had to make do with a fence post and a golf club. We rode out to and under the bridge, laying our bikes down on a hill near the river, took off our shoes and socks, and waded into the water. I had been under the bridge a few times with friends, but had never waded in the river, so I spent about ten minutes walking around, looking at the rocks and fish in the water, watching cars drive past on the highway above my head. It was nice. Then I saw one of my friends whack the holy living fuck out of a carp. It was exciting. My other two friends joined in, killing several fish. I watched them for awhile, and then tried it myself. I've never been athletic, and fish killing is no exception. I kept missing. I finally hit one, but it kept swimming, unfazed, and the feel of the bat against the slimy back of the large fish freaked me out a little. After about thirty minutes of further carp-pummeling, I hadn't killed any, two of my friends had killed three or four, and the zealous carp-killer had a formidable mound of dead carp piled on a rock near his feet. We were about to head home when Shane rode up on his bike. Shane was three or four years older than us, and had either dropped out or been kicked out of two high schools in nearby towns before making his way to Bridgeport, where he was staying with a friend and his mother. Shane was in trouble constantly, and would later drop out of Bridgeport High School in the tenth grade, at the age of 19. He wasn't mean or intimidating, though, and we all liked him. He smoked a lot of pot, listened to heavy metal and gangsta rap, and was pretty clever. He was funny, not dumb at all, and had a burning need to fuck up. He had a great laugh, and you knew you had said something funny when you made him let it out. He once borrowed a Metallica tape from me, and though he kept it for seven months, he brought it back. I'm sure his life is probably not very good right now. Back to the carp. He looked at our pile of dead fish and laughed. He asked for one of the bats. He told my friend to throw the dead carp at him. My friend threw the dead carp. Shane hit the fish, hard, with the bat, and it split into two bloody chunks that sailed over the river bridge. We all laughed hysterically. He called out for more carp. My friend threw most of his pile of dead carp, Shane hit most of the carp thrown at him, most of the carp being hit split into bloody pieces, and most of the bloody pieces sailed over the river bridge. Unfortunately, one of the bloody pieces almost hit a state patrolman's moving vehicle. He turned around, eyeballed us from the bridge, and parked. Shane split the moment he saw the patrolman's car, so the four of us were left with bloody fish guts and the weapons in our hands. The patrolman didn't look angry or amused, just exasperated at the stupidity of the generation of American males we represented. I could very easily picture him saying "I'm too old for this shit," while a white-hot guitar lick played quietly in the background. He lectured us briefly, then let us off with a warning. I don't remember much of what he said, but I distinctly remember his closing words: "Guys, I know it's kind of sporting, but clubbing fish to death with a fence post and a golf club is just not what you're supposed to do."

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The poetry of KISS

On a mountain high somewhere
Where only heroes dare
Stand the stallion and the mare
We have been and we shall be each other's destiny
One another's odyssey
(from "Odyssey")

When love rears its head, I wanna get on your case
Ooh baby, wanna put my log in your fireplace
(from "Burn Bitch Burn")

Take a look around, only one solution
Set the world on fire, fight the institution
Gonna stand our ground, feel the new sensation
Something's goin' down - rock the nation
(from "All Hell's Breakin' Loose")

So you been to the market
And the meat looks good tonight
And the ladies in waiting
Will show you what it's all about
Their selection is inviting
They sure look hot tonight
And the ladies in waiting
Will show you what it's all about
(from "Ladies in Waiting")

Man battlestations torpedo, man battlestations torpedo
I thought I'd go out and take a swim today
It was real hot and I just had to get away
They spotted an unknown sub down in the bay
But I don't care, think I'll go swimmin' anyway - yeah

Let's take a dive, torpedo girl, and feel alive, torpedo girl
Let's take a dive, torpedo girl, and feel alive

But I knew when I was in the suds and swimmin' around
But then all of a sudden I heard this rumblin' sound
I saw this thing that looked a lot like a submarine
With a pretty girl on the bridge, could this be a dream?
I don't know, could be
(from "Torpedo Girl")

Germany was really neat, Japan had much to eat
And Denmark was great, but I just can't wait, rockin' in the U.S.A.
(from "Rockin' in the U.S.A.)

I'm the kind of guy who likes feelin' high
Feelin' high and dry, and I really like to fly
I'm your kinda guy, girl I'm not too shy
And I want you to fly, so I think you oughta try
Ozone, ozone, ozone, ozone
(from "Ozone")

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

I got a job

Unemployment is over. The 14 1/2-month odyssey of no job has been defeated. My faith in the three-day-a-week freelance gig was shaken when they were only able to give me six hours of work in two weeks, not the 48 hours that had been promised. Though a six-hour work schedule is highly agreeable to my temperament and lifestyle, it is not very lucrative. My new job is not very lucrative either, but it is lucrative enough to live as a man again, and seems to be a welcoming environment that could lead to better things. I am no longer Mrs. Mystery's kept man. I won't talk much about my new job, just in case someone from the place finds their way here. I start Monday. Until then, I will have one last week of living the dream. I will continue to stay up until 4 a.m., sleep until noon, and do whatever the shit I want to do for six more days.

"My fellow Americans! Lady Americans! This is James Brown." -- James Brown, "King Heroin"

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The decline of western sentence completion

Any time is a good time for a re-viewing of The Decline of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years, but my favorite moment this time around was the segment at the Cathouse club. The prototypical metalhead Valley Girl is interviewed, and the interview is an absolute delight. The contents of this woman's brain consist solely of band names and twelve metal-related words and/or phrases. Not once does a verb follow a noun. She's asked if she comes to the Cathouse often. She replies: "Rock and roll! Metal! Party!" She's asked what the club means to her. She replies: "Faster Pussycat! Guns N' Roses! LA!" She also does this wonderful movement with her head while she talks in which she rolls it back on her neck at the beginning of a word and juts it forward at the end, dragging out the last vowel each time. What lucky man tamed her wild heart?

Saturday, February 18, 2006

TV is sometimes good

I just saw the most wonderful episode of "Cops" I've ever seen, and I am proud to report it took place outside of Austin. These two massively burned out potheads/acidheads had their home vandalized by a homeless man they'd invited to "live with them and be free." These guys were geniuses. Imagine what would happen if two Jimmy Buffett fans discovered crack. Imagine the comedy gold. The funniest guy in particular was incoherently explaining to the policeman how he found the homeless man in his bed one day, and, out of nowhere, broke into a Joe Cocker-esque original song. The policeman asked him if he wrote the song. The guy answered in the affirmative. Then the policeman asked him if he knew the homeless man's name. The guy yells out to his roommate, "Jay! What's the name of the other Jay?" The roommate walks in and answers: "Jay." "Jay what?" the cop asks. They don't know, but they do know he liked to smoke lots and lots of pot. "Why would he trash your house?" the cop asks. Roommate says, "He wanted to smoke way more drugs than us and he wanted us to give him some money." Funniest guy stares at the roommate in wonderment and says: "That is an incredible synopsis." Then the police dust the place for prints. The roommates crack open some beers and watch the police like they're watching their favorite movie, big grins on their faces. Roommate says: "That is some great police work." God bless those guys. Thank you, TV!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


This song makes me laugh. The video is slightly annoying because the dudes are trying to sell it too hard, but the song is comedy gold.

Additionally, I want to send a big heads up and gangs away to Team Wolf about a little movie called Full Moon High, directed by the mighty Larry Cohen, which is about a teenage werewolf and predates Teen Wolf by four years. Alan Arkin's son plays the teenage werewolf. Other members of the cast include Ed McMahon, as the ultra-right wing father of the werewolf, the guy who played Lamont on "Sanford & Son," the guy who played the coach on "Growing Pains" and "Just the Ten of Us," the guy who played Jeff's dad on "Curb Your Enthusiasm," Jim J. Bullock, and Alan Arkin as a psychiatrist whose methods consist solely of insulting his patients. My favorite line from the elder Arkin, after a suicidal patient jumps off a building, dragging a policeman with him: "What a couple of jerks." Rent this movie.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The straight dope

Two odd things read this week:
1. Headline on a National Enquirer seen at the grocery store Tuesday, paraphrased: "O.J. Simpson spotted in hotel room with prostitutes at 1 a.m." I seem to recall the headline mentioning that these prostitutes were also she-males, but I may be misremembering it. At any rate, I find it odd that the time needs to be mentioned. It's almost like the time is the scandalous part of the scandal, not the hookers. Oh dear, what a lewd and lascivious hour to be banging a ho. If it had been 3 a.m., I would have understood, but 1:00? I'm outraged.
2. Last sentence of instructions for an iron-on patch, from the back of a box of Honey Nut Cheerios: "Do not iron while wearing the shirt."

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Great Indoor Flood*

We had a mini-Katrina in our apartment last night. Read about it here. What a Super Bowl Sunday. I tell you what. I experienced the gamut of human emotion. The full gamut. All twelve human feelings. I experienced them all. The day started out triumphantly. My freelance corporate hellhole gig got extended indefinitely, and though the job (with the exception of the salary) is like a casserole of everything I hate, combined, those corporate fatcats have a lot of money to throw around. I'm only going to work three days a week, and I'll be making the same money I made at my last full-time, five-days-a-week job. So my financial woes are long-term temporarily over. This job will end in about a year, though I'm actively looking for something more bearable and less far away from my apartment, and they know and I know that I could jump ship at any time. In the meantime, having Mondays and Tuesdays free is a nice consolation prize for the agony and extreme boredom of Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. However, I digress. The point is, I am now a breadwinner again, so I took my wife out to eat on Sunday afternoon. The food was up to par. I did not have to send anything back, as I am wont to do, or yell at the waiter and/or waitress, as I am also wont to do. I'm a real jerk. I actually paid for a meal for the first time in months, and it felt good. Later, I attended a Super Bowl party at a friend's home. There were several attractive things about this party, the most attractive being the total of zero minutes I spent watching the game. I spent several minutes drinking beer, eating hot wings and chips and queso, devouring two slices of New Orleans King Cake, and petting a dog outside in beautiful February sunshine. Then I came home, nicely buzzed and full, read some movie reviews, listened to some music, contemplated going to bed, drank some water, and then disaster struck. Read Spacebeer to get the details. I'm not feeling so bad now. Our apartment is in a cluttered state of disarray, large portions of the carpet will have to be replaced, and I spent a lot of time last night pacing, swearing, yelling, worrying, and generally freaking out, but most of our stuff was saved. I lost one book of Diane Arbus photographs, Mrs. Mystery lost a few books, but the rest of our material possessions are fine and dandy. As a subscriber to the religion of living in the present, I laugh at my troubles. Is that the best you could do, jerks? I survived your flood. Next time, bring me a fire. I will douse it and dance a jig. It could have been a lot worse. It was basically a large inconvenience, nothing more. Seriously, though, if I had gone to bed a few hours earlier like I had planned, I would have lost all my unread books, all my records, and a good portion of my other material possessions that aren't so material, in my opinion. The stuff I need, along with food, to live happily and well. If that had gone down, I would have probably stopped crying in July of 2008. Mrs. Mystery and I toasted the random shitstorms and pratfalls of life over enchiladas, carne guisada and margaritas this afternoon. We'll see a Richard Pryor concert film at the Alamo Drafthouse tonight. Then we'll come home and sleep next to a loudly whirring industrial fan and the stench of wet carpet and towels. You win some, you lose some. Am I right? Heh? Heh? Whoo!

I was tagged by Mary P Pants several days ago. I better get on that. Here we go:
When I was little: three of my favorite songs were "I Love a Rainy Night" by Eddie Rabbitt, "Cum on Feel the Noize" by Quiet Riot, and "Panama" by Van Halen. Now, I can barely tolerate the first two, but Van Halen is still on regular rotation. The mysteries of life.
I've never: been to Hartford, Connecticut.
I have seen: a crater left by a meteor in the Arizona desert.
I can: make my wife cry simply by playing Lou Reed's "Metal Machine Music."
I got my first: bloody nose when my dog jumped off the couch and landed on my face.
I sometimes: don't answer my phone.
I will: change jobs often.
I have: wet carpet.
I am an expert: speller and an expert smeller.
I hate: everything but the good stuff.

*A tribute to The Great Outdoor Fight

Wednesday, February 01, 2006