If you're like me, and I know I am...

Monday, October 31, 2005

Sense Impressions

It occurred to me the other day that no sense is more
intimate and mystical than smell. When you smell
someone, you are actually taking a part of them inside
yourself invisibly through the air. You actually take
a part of someone inside yourself when you taste them,
too, but that's called cannibalism and doesn't have
the same mystique.

Smell evokes memory more completely than any other
sense as well. You could be 40 years old and catch a
whiff of Bubble Yum mixed with Chanel and instantly
think about the moment you entered puberty thanks to
your fifth grade teacher's way of writing on the
chalkboard ... even if you haven't thought about Ms.
Buttonschon in decades. Madre de Dios.

In my 13th summer, I used to slather my pits with Old
Spice and read Conan novels every day for three
months. So imagine my surprise when, at 18, my college
roommate decided to forego his shower and OD'd on the
OS. I ran into him in the hall and was suddenly
transported to a realm of high adventure. He's lucky
I didn't take his damn head off like that guy in the
Tower of the Elephant.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Everybody dies alone ...

...unless they die in a plane crash.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

French fries with gravy

I am a bit of a foody. Which is too bad for me really since America is a vast wasteland of fast food, convenience products and God awful restaurants. Go into a diner or a cafe where the food SHOULD be good and reasonably fresh and you'll find yourself dining on canned veggies and watered down soups, pre-packaged fried chicken and sauce from a can. Why do people pay good money to eat this crap? Either you want to eat vegetables or you don't. He who wants to eat those veggies soggy and salty as hell from a can does not truly love veggies.

I'm not a snob about these things, mind you. I just know that Papa John's Pizza isn't the best pizza regardless of how fresh they say their toppings are. I've yet to see a tomato garden atop the strip mall where Papa John's makes these miracle pies that are supposed to put Pizza Hut and Dominoes to shame, so I'm just gonna assume their sauce is canned or frozen in a bag as well, OK? Unlike most Americans, I know when I'm getting something that "tastes funny" because it's fresh. Most Americans can't eat anything unless it's got high quality packaging and then they think it tastes good. Taco Bell is a great example. NOTHING at Taco Bell tastes better than the food at my local taco shack/burrito barn Alvarado's, yet I hear people with pedestrian palates shit on them all the time in favor of their usual run for the border. Fuck all that shit.

Most Americans eat fast food a hell of a lot more often than they admit. I see people who eat it daily, but if you asked them, they'd probably only admit to once or twice a week. Some of them are so used to eating the dead, stale crap fast food restaurants prepare that they get sick eating fresh food, which only reinforces their misguided interpretation that the fresh stuff is actually not "good food."

I don't anybody who doesn't know what a Big Mac is, but talk about the American classic fries with gravy, even to a waitress at a diner these days, and you get this look like you're a fucking foreigner who doesn't know any better. Time was, one could count on some local specialties, too, now you get the same jalapeƱo poppers and bloomin' onions from Maine to New Mexico. I'm from Iowa and I've never had a stuffed porkchop nor have I met anyone who even knows that that is supposed to be one of our signature dishes. We also make one of the finest bleu cheeses in the world, Maytag. But I can't get it in my local corporate mega store or catch a glimpse of recognition on the face of the dairy case manager when I ask about it.

Where are the hot beef sandwiches? The meatloaf dinners? The Texas toast? Where are the crab cakes? Where is the hand-cut, hand-breaded, pan-fried pork tenderloin of my youth? Biscuits and gravy? Hoe cakes? Natural casing wieners? Hand-pressed hamburger patties? How about a loaf of bread made from scratch, huh? When was the last time you saw one of those?

There's just no love in our grub any more and we should all consider that the next time we think about what dive restaurant we want to help keep open.

Objections are opportunites, but are opportunities objections?

Who comes up with these freaking sales aphorisms? They're all like some serious Zen for retards shit, man.""When a customer says 'no,' think 'know' as in 'I'd like to know more about what I just fucking told you I don't want to buy, asshole!'"

Anything that has to do with the making of money for the sake of profit is a sin. At least that's what the Bible says, so don't take it out on me if you disagree. Take it up with Jesus. Starving to death sucks, of course, as does going without cable TV and diet Mountain Dew. But the pursuit of profit just to accumulate ... that's a one-way ticket to Hell, my friend.

Upselling and other bullshit ways to make a living

Back in training today to get the corporate bung-holing on how to sell, sell, sell!

I hate selling. The only thing I hate more than selling are the people who love to sell. It takes a certain kind of genetic deviant to get off on hammering people who call in for tech support with "upsells."

Upselling is one of those bastardized corporate terms for getting someone who is already on the hook a little more on the hook. If they were already stupid enough to buy a cheeseburger from you, push the fries and drink. Every God damn time I go to get an oil change at Jiffy Lube now, they try to upsell me an air filter though my current one is barely dusty. I called them on it though. I told the kid if he honestly thought I needed a new air filter for $12, I would leave it entirely up to his conscience as to whether or not I got one. I turned the table a bit. He could have just taken the sale and been done with it, but I took away his ability to close me by imbuing him with the moral responsibility for the decision. He wasn't salesman enough to take it. But to be honest, had he actually tried to sell it to me, I probably would have told him to fuck off.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A boy's first three-way or "The Gyro Incident"

I thought the time had come for me to tell the tale
that every man wants to be able to share with his
fellow men at some point in his life, but rarely gets
to. I'm talking about the Threesome Story, of course.
It's a dream as old as Adam and Eve likely.

For most, it's just a dream that never comes close to
reality. For me, the dream was frighteningly real. I
was working at a cruddy telemarketing job with this
chick (whose name I cannot remember) who was also
working as a stripper. She was a former call girl and
a recovering crack addict to boot. She was not one of
those really hot strippers (or recovering crack
addicts for that matter) you see at the gentleman's
club. She was more like a daytime stripper with a few
miles on her. She seemed comfortable in her body,
which was, by most accounts, a bit chubby but
certainly not unattractive. Having someone like her
working with all those straight types though caused a
bit of a stir. I didn't blink though. I'd been hanging
out in a strip club for some time and didn't think of
strippers as weird and alien. I actually found her to
be an admirable and upright citizen. After all, how
many strippers hold down a day job as well?

One Friday, I had planned to pick up some train
tickets for a ride I was taking across Iowa the next
day. The station was in downtown Omaha and not far
from the strippers apartment. She took the bus to and
from work, an ordeal that lasted anywhere from 45
minutes to an hour. I thought she might like a 20
minute ride in my Chevy station wagon instead. We got
along well enough at work. We went to lunch one day
and she told me she was pregnant, so believe me when I
tell you I was being polite when I offered the ride. I
wasn't looking for a piece of the action.

The ride went smooth enough. I got my tickets, we
chatted politely about what it's like to smoke crack,
ride on a train, fuck strangers for money and how good
gyros are. When we got to her apartment, I had planned
on dropping her off then hitting my local game store,
grabbing a gyro and watching "The X-Files." The
stripper asked me if I'd like to come up and burn some
very good weed she had. I said sure.

So I go up to her apartment for the purpose. Her
roommate -- also a stripper -- was getting ready for
work. This meant putting on underwear I guess. My
co-worker said she had to get ready for work also so
it wasn't much of a surprise when she got a teddy on.
I did think that was a bit low rent for stripper gear,
but she was a low rent stripper. Her club was kind of
a piece of shit and the strippers mostly just waddled
around on stage, then waited tables between sets.

I told the stripper that if she was leaving for work
soon, I could take her. She said she didn't have to be
there for several hours. OK, I thought, as I cashed a
bowl, watched "Highlander" on TNT and thought about
the gyro I was about to have that was going to taste
better than any gyro I'd ever had before. And how.

"You can come in here if you want," she called from
the bedroom.
"That's OK," I said. "I can wait."

My buzz was pretty strong, but not so strong that the
ladies didn't seem tempting. I had just gotten so used
to not being thought of in that way that I didn't even
bother getting worked up or thinking about it too
hard. I'd sneak a peek and feel a bit like a pervert.
Meanwhile, the stripper ran to the living room window
in her underwear to look out the window because a
siren went off.

"What's that," she asked?
"I dunno," I said. And I didn't.

Her roommate was half naked too. I thought they were
pretty immodest. Eventually, I got bored with just
sitting around waiting for this chick to come out of
her bedroom with some clothes on.

"I better head out," I said. "I gotta go to bed if I'm
gonna catch that train tomorrow and I still need to
get that gyro."

From the doorway of their apartment they stood next to
each other looking at me in disbelief. I waved, got in
the elevator and went down to my car. Later, as I sat
eating my gyro watching Mulder and Scully, it suddenly
occurred to me what I'd just passed up.

"Dammit,'" I thought. I wondered if it was too late to
go back. What would I say? Would it make a difference?
Probably not.

It's just as well, I suppose. I'm not an orgy kind of
guy and these two were pretty wild. I would have
gotten to know what it was like to disappoint two
women at once ... at best. I'm realistic. Still, I got
closer than most men.

Tools, cameras, artists and which is which

The problem with photographers. I've worked with a
buttload of photographers. There is not one who
doesn't think of himself as a freakin' artist. What
I've come to appreciate about most of them is
that, in addition to being full of shit, they are just
equipment operators.

Here's how I tell the difference between and artist
using a tool and a tool using a camera. An equipment
operator is a guy who can point and shoot at pretty
images and take pretty pictures. He knows how to
adjust his shutter speed and all that shite. Most of
them know how to shoot like a machine gun and then
sort out the random good shots from the assorted crap.
Any monkey can shoot 100 pics in five minutes and come
up with one or two good ones. That's just luck. Any sack
can shoot a pretty girl and come back with a pretty picture.
Any hack can crop and adjust the color in photoshop and
call it his opus.

The artists distinguish themselves by two major
abilities. The first is they can actually find
beauty where others cannot. They can take a picture of
even an ugly person and come away with something that
makes you think, I bet that person has a story. The
second is that they can shoot slow, pick their moment,
compose the shot and then capture a moment in time
when the light and the action and the composition were
perfect. They don't need blind luck because they have
timing and skill.

Anyone can shoot sports if they know how to adjust for
the action and light then take the Gatling gun
approach to their subject. Walk into a cattle car
accident or a three bus/one car pile up with no more
than 27 frames and walk out with 25 options ... now that's a gift.
Take a candid shot of a fat man in a cowboy hat sitting at his
desk talking to a coworker that positively shines ... that takes an aritst.

Two names spring to mind, Tony Miceli, the guy who
shot me in the hat on the right of this blog, and Greg
, my old buddy since junior high who once took a
picture of a chair in an alley in Italy with a black
and white disposable camera that just about made me

Everyone else can suck it.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Onan 360

The new XBOX 360 is due to come out soon. Every geek I
know is busy collecting orange Pepsi caps to sign up
for a chance to win on free. Frankly, I'm sick to
death of these God damn video games. When I was a kid,
a few quarters worth of Asteroids or Galaga was pretty
far out there. The home systems made it possible to
play video games at home whenever you wanted to, but
the quality was so low that you would've been pretty
hard pressed to spend hours and hours playing Robotron
or even Super Mario Bros.

I don't want to sound like an old fuck, but this new
generation of games and gamers is so intense, they're
frightening. I dig a good round of Soul Caliber II. I
even played Halo once. I've done Driver and some of
the Spiderman games. But any more, I'm bored in an
hour. What's more, I can't imagine being one of these
people who plays a game all night long, hour after
hour. My nephew's like that and it's just wrong. I
think his freewheelin' days of spacin' out in front of
the game console are over. He's had a PS1 and a PS2,
but if he thinks he's gettin' an XBOX or PSP from
anyone he knows, he better plan on disappointment. It
has become painfully obvious that no one wants to
encourage that behavior any more.

Personally, he should have never gotten a Gameboy or a
PS2. If I had had a say in it, he'd still be playing
PS1 games with the cavemen. As for me, I'll check out
the new systems and play a game or two, but I'll be
damned if I shell out the buck for them. Masturbation
just shouldn't cost that much, man.

Burn your game systems and pick up a freakin' book and
if you can't manage that, try sitting still and being quiet. That's
the video game system we played with before Pong and Atari 2600.

Of human bondage

I've always had a problem with authority. Not all
authority, just bullshit authority. You know the kind,
mall security guards, gym teachers, fast food
supervisors and pretty much anyone jumped up who
thinks their position exists to give them the
opportunity to take a great big shite down the neck of
everyone "beneath" them.

That's why I'm a big advocate of revolution. Not
necessarily on the scale of the American or French
Revolutions, but certainly of that genre. When in the
course of human events honest men find themselves
unable to pursue their interests honestly and without
fear, then dishonesty is their only option. Think
about it. Why should a man willing to work be punished
for his good intentions daily by the giants, and even
more often the worms, of corporatism?

The truth is we are all slaves, but we refuse to
believe it. A slave is someone who has no control over
their destiny. A slave is someone who has no choice
but to do what they are told no matter how
unreasonable. A slave comes and goes when he's told,
says what he's told to say, associates with those he's
told to associate with and punished, punished,
punished for his infractions.

Until we accept that we are slaves, stop kidding
ourselves that our Hondas, fast food choices and the
ability to quit if we don't like it make us free, we
always will be slaves.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Ain't that a bitch

That guy who sits next to me at work who worships Thor
went home early tonight. Apparently, his chemotherapy
is making him sick. Don't I feel like an asshole.
Don't get me wrong, Thor and and Odin are cool, but
that whole thing is still not a religion that any
modern man should practice with any kind of
seriousness. Still, I feel kind of bad that the dude
has cancer. If believing in Thor and Odin and that
whole bunch makes him feel better then why not? All I
know is that Jesus is never mad at us if we live with
him in our hearts.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Mmmmmm ... original thought

I hate people who try to pass off lines from movies as
original material. There really is a fine line between
incorporating a clever quote into your conversation
and just ripping off Kevin Smith gems, which, let's
face it, aren't nearly as clever as they were back in

I reserve my real bane for people who shout "D'D'oh
constantly because "The SiSimpsonsis the greatest boon
to American literary culture since "Sister Carrie."

Jesus, people, at least try to find something clever
to quote. Pick a good movie not everyone has heard of
or maybe a classic. Modify it gently. Here's an

"The universe is a crazy place, it's all swirling dust
over here and there, good and bad luck in the middle
... that's chaos, man, and that's my beef."

You could drop that into conversation some time when
you're feeling philosophical, confused and maybe a
little pissed off. It's not directly from source
material airing on the WBWBn prime time, so the
average American will likely mistake it for original

Or here's an idea, actually try some original thought.
It's good for the environment, keeps kids off drugs
and, God willing, makes life just that much more
interesting ... for me at least.

Inner rumblings

I got sick on the way to work today. Well, not so much
on the way to work but just as I was pulling up. I
don't feel like going into too great of detail, but
let's just say I needed to go home and get sorted out
before I could come back. I don't know what I ate that
gave me such problems, but I find it hard to believe
that the eggs and toast I had for brekkers, which I've
HAD for brekkers on a regular basis since I was a kid,
could have turned my bowels into a gurgling fountain
of Hell-spawned squidginess. Maybe it was the half a
jar of mayo I slurped up with a straw with my lard
sandwich. Nah.

Now me guts feel like a brick. I took three Immodium
and I'll probably be bound up for the next three days.
Still, it's better than painting my cube an
interesting shade of toupe.

Life of the geek mind

Where I work, there are some characters, man. First
off, they are techies so it's like working full time
at a Star Trek convention without the satisfying
ethos. The guy next to me belongs to some religion
that probably only exists in a game. Another guy spent five
minutes trying to describe to me the events of a Champions
game one night when I was trying to go on my 15
minute break. Anothe guy gets all excited every night to tel me
at length that he just found this web site that will let you
host skank from your web site even if it's banned by
your ISP. And they are all so into tech, high tech, the latest

I find technology fascinating to some extent. I love my DVD player
and my computer; I like to make playlists, burn CDs, drive, microwave stuff,
etc. But the inner workings of computers ... man, it's
like a tangled, convoluted mess that is constantly
changing. It isn't so much technology as it is an
amorphous experiment testing everyone's
patience. So the guys who really dig it, who spend the
majority of their life online, game online, email and
text each other all day long are, to me, like another
breed. They're like autistic children. High
functioning ones, but still, children who are in their
own little worlds. Short attention spans, pop culture
fantasy-prone minds where imagination is pre-fab,
overweight smelly bodies, dragon t-shirts. I see it
all here. Still, it beats working for wankers.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Oh how the untalented keep scraping the bottom of that barrel

Back when I used to work at the Nonpareil,
incontestably one of the shittiest newspapers
published in Southwestern Iowa since the Council
Bluffs Daily Pooper Scooper, we used to joke about
declining ethical standards frequently. You see,
journalism is one of those fields where you don't
actually have to go to college to get into the field.
Doctors, lawyers and dentists are professionals;
journalists would like to be professionals. Most of
them anyway. So they have an entire canon of ethics
guarding what they do. Most of these rules are there
to be followed most of the time unless there is a
really good reason not to. The most important area of
ethical concern for any real newspaper is conflict of

While I was working at the Nonpareil, renowned dumb
ass and so-called publisher Tom "God ... DAMN I'm a
sad sack" Schmitt introduced front page ads. They were
down at the bottom of the page and it was a sad day,
but of course there were other papers doing it so who
cares about standards when there is filthy lucre to
gathered up for our masters at the World Herald.

Some months later, post-it note ads were introduced as
a way to put ads on the very top of the paper in the
right hand corner. It was a great day for ad whores,
but a sad one in the annals of journalism history
which pretty much doesn't give a toss what the
Nonpareil does anyway and why should it?

Then they decided to dispose of half of the pretense
and introduce ads that LOOKED like post-it notes but
were actually printed on the paper partially covering
the name of the paper itself. The average Joe no doubt
doesn't give a damn but then ethics aren't about what
is socially acceptable and what people care about,
it's about what you do in the dark when no one is
looking even though you could get away with it.

There was only one place left to go and that place
they did go. Last weekend they ran in that fake little
post it a paid political ad for Mike Petry and not
only was this ad encouraging people to vote for Mr.
Petry (who might well be a very good candidate, that
is not the point) but that one of his opponents had
only lived in Council Bluffs for two years. A negative
political ad top of the page, covering the name of the

I used to joke that one day they'd be running paid
political ads on the opinion page, but more than
likely they will just skip the wussy crap and go for
paid political endorsements, after all, that's where
the real money is.

Shadows of our former selves

The older I get the less I have in common with my
friends. They seem to be turning into bizarre
caricatures of themselves. I'm sure the same is true
for me, I just notice it about them. All the little
things they used to do that might have once been
described as endearing characters traits because they
natural now seem forced, overblown, really obvious.
Even the way some of them laugh seems like they are
trying really hard to act like themselves when they
were 16, 18 or 21.

Most of them have kids who have taken all that was
good about them and squeezed it dry, I think. Those
little parasites. Don't get me wrong, I love the
little bastards as much as someone who is not legally
required to take care of their every need possibly
can, but I can see what they are doing to these
friends of mine who used to never get pissed off. Now,
they not only lose their tempers to the point it makes
me uncomfortable, they do it while their kids laugh at
them. I'm used to making people uncomfortable with MY
emotions; people don't make ME uncomfortable.

And these kids, man. Juni Schonberg sits on my
stomach, stares deep into my nose and asks me why I
have so many hairs in my nose. Like I have an answer
to that. Then he lifts up my shirt to look at my
stomach, then uses me for a slide all in the space of
about five minutes. How am I supposed to respond to
that stuff? Why isn't he scared of me? Do I want him
to be? No, but if he were I might get a moments peace.

But I do like being called Uncle Greg.

I guess that is the secret. Kids take and take and
take but in that moment when they give you a big hug
and make you feel really loved, it almost makes the
hell they put you through seem worth it.

Firefox ... and you thought the movie was cool

Attention geeks of the second order (geeks of the
first order already know this), Mozilla Firefox rocks!
Firefox is a web browser, like Internet Explorer or
Netscape Navigator, that has been tweaked by many
geeks in the Mozilla project to provide all the bells
and whistles you could want with all the simplicity
your busy life requires.

Best part? No pop-ups, beyotch! That alone is enough
reason to get on board, but you can also browse all
your regular web sites regularly by saving them all as
tabs on ONE BROWSER. I open up Firefox and all my
regular sites come up automatically. You switch from
one to the other much faster than browsing from site
to site allows AND it uses less memory.

It also has these live bookmarks like Latest
Headlines. Just click on it and see all the headlines
from BBC, CNN or God forbid FoxNews. Read what you
want or go about your day oblivious as usual.

It also has a search window that allows you to add any
and all search engines you want. No more adding Google
and Yahoo toolbars or web sites to your favorites list
just to look up a word in the dictionary.

Check it out!


My work situation has changed just enough to allow me
to send the occasional blog post. It is a great relief
since I get more satisfaction out of writing than I do
just about any other activity. ANY activity. I won't
name the one or two activities that most men use to
relax but find it sufficient to say... I'm not
talking about watching football.

So don't be surprised, trolls, if you find a good
reason to come back here every day.

Long Live the King, Baby!

Can a clown do this?

I love these new Burger King commercials. Have you
seen them? They feature the man himself, the crown
prince of ground mince, the overlord of the overloaded
bun, the Burger King. I've always preferred it, but I
admit that BK has always lagged behind McDonald's in a
number of important areas. Mascots are definitely one
area. Ronald McDonald is a freakin'' icon, kids love
him, adults remembers him fondly and at the very least
he comes off as friendly, recognizable and basically
everything a good corporate deathburger mascot should

The Regent of Burger has never worked. It's just too
damn obvious. But the latest commercials featuring the
Burger King are incredible, perhaps unintentionally
so. The Burger King shows up rather frighteningly in
people's beds and atop unfinished skyscrapers to push
new products. The character itself is a bobblehead
looking thing with this maniacally beneficent look on
it's "face." This gargantuan representation of
friendliness peers around the corner of an I-beam in
one commercial promoting BK's new Turbo Joe. Even
though I knew I was watching a commercial of some
kind, I was noticeably freaked. It was a deep
psychological tweaking that I got straight from the
depths of the unconscious mind where I fear turning
around to find someone looking at me through an open
window or standing where they just shouldn't be. And
that smile, those unblinking eyes... It just makes me

This new icon is either the worst idea any pr firm
ever had or the greatest post modern joke.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Not an Anglophile, just a BBCophile

Anyone who knows me knows that among the greatest loves of my life are cheese, diet Mountain Dew, Sandman comcis and Britsh television. They're brilliant. If I thought I could hack moving to England just for the TV, I probably would. A particular favorite in recent years is Simon Pegg, the young genius behind "Spaced," "Hippeis" and "Shaun of the Dead."
Download "Spaced" and it will completely change your perception of what British TV shows are all about these days.
I've been watching "Shaun of the Dead" repeatedly since I got the DVD last week. It is the tightest, funniest comedy I've seen in years. Really clever, original and well-timed. Fuck-a-doodle-do!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Wired again

Lately, I've found my ability to comment on current affairs truncated by a lack of cable. On the one hand it's been kind of nice. I feel a bit less bombarded by images and news and infotainment and ads. On the other, I kind of miss being bombarded.
I have a friend, Mikey, who records Sci Fi for me on Friday nights so I don't go without my weekly fix of Firefly, the Stargates and BSG. I pay close attention to the commercials looking most closely at movie ads, new fastfood inventions/recipes/specials, tv previews and news briefs.
It's kind of sad really, but a man can feel like an outsider when he drives by the movie theater and not recognize any of the titles. I am used to looking and not wanting to see any of the films because they don't interest me, but last week I saw five titles that gave me not one valid reference to something about which I had prior knowledge. I hadn't been anticipating their releases or planning on not seeing them. I just hadn't heard anything about them. I was out of the loop.
Oh look, Wendy's has a new chicken bacon swiss ranch burger ... didn't see that one coming.
Most of this stuff is pretty unimportant, but when London was bombed, I didn't hear about it until the next day.
So I went out an bought an antennae for my tv so I could get more than one channel. Now I'm back on ABC and NBC, which is like going form coffee to cocaine in pop culture terms. I guess I'm addicted. I guess I'll never make it as a hermit.