Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Devil's Business

I’m going to start a business. Being a shrewd entrepreneur, I will search for a line of business where my chief competitor will exploit my operations to bolster her/his success. In fact, the mission of my business will be to deter customers from patronizing my product, while reinforcing the attraction of my competitor’s product line. I stand to make millions, nay, billions. I’m surprised no one has yet adopted this idea.

Does this sound like a good plan? No, it doesn’t. It sounds like a moronic plan. It is a moronic plan. But, it has been attempted, and it continues to be used today (depending upon your mythological beliefs, that is. If your beliefs do not coincide with the following verbiage, humor me, and suspend those beliefs until I am through.)

What kind of a numbskull would be so bold as to employ the previously described strategy? Look no further than the nearest pit of eternal damnation in your neighborhood. That’s right, the genius I speak of is none other than the devil, himself. Or herself. As a devout feminist (as convenience calls), I firmly believe that a woman can achieve the depths of dastardly infamy as well as any man. In this scenario, though, it seems more fitting to present the classical male image of old gooseberry. Consider the stereotypical image of a man’s dumbfounded expression when he is caught in a dubious and imbecilic activity. That is the look I imagine the devil would express if he eventually realizes he is being played for a fool and is damned (pun intended) good at it.

Succinctly, the arrangement, as I understand it, is this. God offers to people an afterlife of euphoria, marked by constant bliss and everlasting pomp. In return, all he, or she (again, as with the devil, it is my belief that the “almighty” has every right and possibility of being female. My generation has been taught to believe that god, if in fact there is one, is male. But in the interests of equality, those of us who think of ourselves as “sensitive to the issue”, in an attempt to flaunt our righteousness, will use the phrase, “or her/she” in situations like this [if you believe the lord can be either/both genders], where the sex of the object of the pronoun is ambiguous or unknown. Contrarily, we are not being “sensitive to the issue” because we are still putting the “male” first. The possibility of womanhood filling the role at hand is merely an afterthought in these circumstances. It is rare to see the opposite phrase [her, or him] written where the object is assumed female first and male as the afterthought. An effort needs to be made to split time equally between the sexes when making references. Better yet, a neutral pronoun, similar to “it”, needs to be created which will encompass both female and male forms. I propose the word “xe”, pronounced zheh, which can be used as a subject, noun, possessive, whatever [very versatile – kinda like the “f” word]. I chose this word because we don’t have enough words beginning with the letter x and it sounds silly. For example, “The teacher reached to pull down the map, and xe ripped xe’s drawers”. Okay, now back to the original sentence:) asks is that we remain true to xe and be good. It seems like an equitable deal.

Lucifer takes a different approach. His intent is to corrupt souls by coercing people to perform sinister activities in opposition to god’s will. It’s easy work and not a bad foundation for a strong company, because being bad is generally more convenient and is definitely more fun (provided the conscience is discounted) than being a goody-two-shoes. With a large sales force, consisting of various demons and tortured spirits, and an extensive legal staff (input crooked lawyer joke here), satan has positioned himself and his operation to procure innumerable clients.

One major flaw exists (and it is a doozy) in his scheme. Our buddy, the archfiend, does not provide fair compensation for those who fall prey to his enticing sales pitch. To those that honor his solicitation, he rewards an eternity of anguish and a seat on a Bunsen burner. This is no incentive to be bad. Sure, some of us will be roped in by the diversions available inherent in an ignominious temporal existence he claims to provide, but when it comes to closing time, most of us will realize the implications of the final sale and choose to shop elsewhere. Would you patronize a car dealer who, in an attempt to attract your business, promises to jab you with a pitchfork forever if you buy his car, even if the car can do zero to sixty in a nanosecond?

The silliest part of this whole set up is that the essence of satan’s promotion initiates impetus for people to favor the virtuous path (based on an average score throughout a life span. All of us stop in at Beelzebub’s Boutique to pick up a few things every now and again. It’s like a convenience store.) Satan’s payoff is a deterrent to the presence of the behavior his wishes to promote. His product drives customers away, directly to the door of his competitor.

Please do not mistake me for a holy roller. My intent is to examine this strange arrangement between the ethereal worlds. I am not taking sides on this matter. It befuddles me to think the devil would agree to this pact. He has got to be an idiot. Unless, he is working with god to compel people to goodness. Can he be taking kick backs from god? If this is a case, I have a newfound respect for old scratch. I don’t remember reading anything in the Bible about the creator and the fallen angel being in cahoots. Then again, I haven’t read much of the Bible. I can’t seem to get beyond the book of Genesis where they are explaining who begat whom, and how long everybody lived. It seems as if the writers did not have a clear direction of where they wanted to go with the book. I think, initially, they were just trying to fill space to meet the publisher’s first draft deadline.

This conspiracy theory involving an alliance between god and satan may be worth investigating. It may lead to another business idea. I think the government may already be employing it. I will contact my congressxe.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Call Me Kitty V - Martini Night

If you've come here looking for Lovehammer stuff, there's plenty a little further down. Well worth the effort to scroll down. Just be sure to stop back for Martini Time! and make the Reverend Horton Heat proud. This is the fifth installment in the Call Me Kitty series. Our hero Dave has been known to be a connoiseur of the finer things as the following observations will attest to.

Small, perfect spheres of water formed on the surface of the stemmed martini glass that was set on the bar. Within its empty chamber, a pile of ice was quickly stacked, rising several inches above the rim. The individual cubes melded loosely to one another and formed a haphazard ice sculpture atop the glass. A quick jet stream of dry vermouth collapsed against the icy sculpture with a small splash, and after rebounding in all directions it joined the drops of the slowly dissolving ice host and slowly found its way down to the glass. As the walls of the spotless stemware chilled in one spot, a stainless steel cup down the bar began its own chores. It readily accepted a long pour of gin from the baby blue glass bottle that had been waiting on the shelf against the mirrored wall and then received a hearty scoop of ice that was retrieved from the bin below with a recognizable crunch. Unlike their counterparts in the showcase martini glass standing in the bar’s spotlight, these cubes would not bond and form any such sculpture. Almost immediately, the contents were covered and the steel chamber was shaken violently. The cubes cracked against the unforgiving steel walls with each toss, oblivious to the chill they were losing to the potent liquid that had been waiting on the bottom of the cup prior to the disturbance. Now the once calm gin that had been showcased on the mirrored wall, tossed and turned like the sea in the storm that shipwrecked the Minnow on Gilligan’s Island. Finally the storm subsided, but instead of making a radio out of coconuts, the distilled gin, now clouded, settled and found itself amidst miniature icebergs floating scatteredly across its surface. Across the bar, its glass mate had developed a small pool in the vortex of its chamber, collected from the run-off of the miniature mountain of ice upon it. Not sharing the permanence of nature’s mountains, the tip of the barkeep’s index finger prompted a single rotation of the glacial mass within the glass. With the glass now coated with the icy mountain rivers that flowed down its side, flavored with a hint of the vermouth that had visited, the structure’s contents were quickly dumped into a waiting sink, and the glass again placed on the bar well-prepared for the main event. A matching strainer placed over the stainless steel cup served as a cue for it’s temporarily settled contents. A quick swirl softly stirred the solution before it slid down the side of the cup and through the gated jaws of the wire strainer, which denied access to any cubes despite their cracked condition. As the chilled alcohol formed a brief waterfall over the edge, the chilled glass accepted it at the same temperature, and together they knew that they were meant for one another. A refined mixture, it politely pulled up short of the rim and waited distinguishedly. Two olives, one with a small rectangular pimento almost flush with the hole, and another that had somewhere been separated from its filling, were each subsequently stabbed with a small skewer, complete with the cool little sword adornment on the end. Instead of being drowned in the waiting cocktail, the skewer was balanced in a scale-like fashion on the edge of the glass, one olive on the inside rim, one on the outside, forming a symbol of jurisprudence one might find on an attorney’s stationery.

After the masterpiece completed a short slide across the bar, the olive barbell was immediately dunked in a blatant disregard of justice and the drink pounded by the thirsty inebriate. It was nearly enough to make the martini artist cry, but the generous tip helped him overlook the mockery of the spirited consumption.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Tale of Two Lard Asses

Each year, Sid and I vow to lose weight and get in shape. Well, maybe we don’t vow as much as decide to graph our weight to see if we lose any. We haven’t lost any weight. But we do have a graph. Our past graphs show us we don’t lose weight and so do our taut pants. We usually stop graphing by June, when we give up and decide to don our Speedos in spite of our repulsive rolls, folds and/or general physical droopiness. This shows the world that we have accepted our non-Adonisness. People respect that. We can tell by the way they are afraid to approach us while we are wearing out our nut pouches. Besides, skin covering fat tans just as easily as skin covering muscle, and we feel a responsibility to uphold our bronze god reputations for the ladies. Yes, I’m speaking about the ladies in our local burn units, Edna and Lorraine. They look forward to our visits, welcoming us with copious amounts of balm and aloe. But this year, of course, it is going to be different. We will lose weight or, at least, get in shape. And we will have less skin to be balmed.

As you can see from this year’s graph, we are both off to a fabulous start. Don’t be fooled by the horizontal movement of our reality lines. In years past, by March, we had each packed on at least ten pounds. But, not this year. There’s not much to do during the winter months, and we both lead very active lives in the summer. Consequently, we like to store as much energy as possible prior to the end of May, so that we can survive a summer of rigorous peach-picking and power country lane strolling. Some years, when we fail to store excess fat, we are plum tuckered out by mid-August, at which time we start storing body fat for the following summer by binging on bacon fat and Funyuns. It’s good to plan ahead. Although, as promising as our current weight maintaining seems, I fear we will be drowning in lethargy by the end of July, since we have failed to lard up, as expected. That’s a chance we are willing to take.

We are right on pace, even if our goal lines may contradict this. We will not be oppressed by some imaginary lines on a graph, though we are the ones who determined them. Those lines have nothing to do with our ultimate goal, which is to not be bothered by the tribulations of life, like maintaining health. You may wonder, if that is the case, why we bother to attempt to lose weight. WE HAVE A GRAPH! Didn’t you see it? Here it is again.

The goal lines act more like fodder for hopeful imagination than they do to document actual goals. Establishing these goal lines is similar to buying lottery tickets. You know you are not going to win. But it is worth the hundred dollars you spend on them each week so you can imagine what you would do with all that money if you won, and how it would improve your life and how important actors may even consider allowing you to eat in the same restaurants as they do, and how you won’t smell anymore, and how you will become better than most people (but not important actors), and how a lot of people will want to have sex with you, or maybe at least somebody other than crack whores, and how you could look forward to finding better friends, and maybe buy that frock you always wanted. You can’t find that kind of entertainment anywhere else than inside your own head. The same can be said for the goal lines on the graph. We use them to help us imagine what it would be like if we could fit in those pants we bought fifteen years ago, or, if we could ever tuck our shirts in comfortably, again, or, if our asses ever became small enough to stop inadvertently bumping into the faces of old ladies sitting at bus stops. If we could, undoubtedly our lives would improve, and important actors may consider allowing us to eat in the same restaurants as they do, and we wouldn’t smell anymore, and we would become better than most people (but not important actors), and a lot of people will want to have sex with us, or maybe at least somebody other than crack whores would, and we could find better friends, and maybe some rich person would buy for us that frock we always wanted.

Speaking of smacking my big ass into the faces of old ladies sitting at bus stops, why is it that it seems that every time I inadvertently smack somebody sitting at a bus stop in the face with my ass, it’s an old lady? Don't you hate that? Then the old lady looks at me like I meant to do it. Like anybody ever purposely smacks somebody else in the face with his/her ass at a bus stop. Sure, that kind of thing may happen in Congress, but not at bus stops. “Excuse me, madam,” I’ll say, “I had no idea my buttocks protruded to such an assaulting extent.” “You need to keep tabs on that thing, sonny” they’ll usually reply. Then, I’ll tell them about my graph, and they’ll give me a cookie.

In defense of the old ladies sitting at bus stops, it’s not always them I posterior pummel. It seems like it, but to be sure, I created a spreadsheet to monitor these incidents over a year’s time. I compiled the data into a pie chart to illustrate who has been inflicted with my growing rear end. Not surprisingly, old ladies are victims the majority of the time. The rest of the results bring up two significant questions: 1. Why aren’t there any hot chicks at bus stops? 2. Why do I spend so much time at bus stops considering I’ve never ridden a public bus? I don’t have time to gather correlating data, but I’m guessing the answer to question two is associated with my burgeoning behind (and probably the first question, too).

Hence, the need for the graph – to improve the life quality of old ladies sitting at bus stops, although the pie chart looks more appetizing. As part of my fitness regimen, I’ve capped my bus stop loitering to only twice a week, with the hopes of reducing that frequency over time. It’s difficult to quit cold turkey with this habit, as you might imagine. Following is a list of the other weight loss/exercise measures I’ve incorporated into my life:

  • walk to the bathroom instead of having somebody push me on an office chair

  • stand up during the first two minutes of every conference call at work

  • eat twice as much fast food at lunch so I’m not hungry at dinner time

  • eat all of the snack food in my house so that I’m not tempted to eat it later, and then restock so I can test my willpower (and fail, but not let it ruin my spirit)

  • wear more clothes and stop using antiperspirant so I sweat more to lose water weight
  • spread butter with a heavier knife to build strong arm muscles

  • park one spot further than intended at Wal-Mart to increase walking activity

  • chew more vigorously to burn more calories

  • clean off my weight bench and pray for divine inspiration

  • wear foam rubber muscle shaped shirts

  • towel dry instead of air dry after showers (aerobic exercise)

  • speaking of showers, stand up in shower instead of lying down

  • limit midnight snack to whatever I can hold in one hand instead of two

  • no more mayonnaise bongs (ok, maybe on holidays, only)

  • find out what metabolism means

I’m not sure what Sid is doing to keep his graph line from running off the top of the page. Since Sid is an avid biker, I suggested to him that he try bike riding on flat land, not just down hills, and then eventually trying riding up the hills. That may be asking a lot. He did say something about getting rid of his L’il Debbie intravenous machine. Good for him. I don’t expect him to keep as an ambitious regimen as I have itemized above. He’s not Superman, ya know (but he may be one of the Wonder Twins).

I do expect each of our reality lines on the graph to approach the goal lines eventually. It’s easy to go into the graph and adjust the goal line to go up. All you have to do is change the numbers in the spreadsheet. That should help us. However, if we ever do hit the existing goal lines and end up at the same weight, we have vowed to go ten rounds in the ring to determine who looks dorkier in boxing shorts. I don’t like to brag, but that is a competition I think I can win. Just keep the old ladies out of my corner so I don’t maim them.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Mr. F'er's Neighborhood

If you’re offended by salty language or enjoy burning books, then you might want to skip this post. Stop back in a week and we’ll try to be more genteel. If you’re here looking for the Lovehammer stuff, it’s a little further down so keep reading. If you’re looking for porn and you ended up here, you really suck at internet.

"That's the whole trouble. You can't ever find a place that's nice and peaceful, because there isn't any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when you're not looking, somebody'll sneak up and write "Fuck you" right under your nose. I think, even, if I ever die, and they stick me in a cemetery, and I have a tombstone and all, it'll say "Holden Caulfield" on it, and then what year I was born and what year I died, and then right under that it'll say "Fuck you." I'm positive."

More about that passage in a minute. I’m no geology major, but I’m pretty sure I’ve discovered a major fault line in North Texas and it happens to be located directly beneath my driveway. It was cleverly concealed under one continuous concrete slab when I bought the house, but a series of tremors has diminished my once viable driveway to a pile of rubble that would make a Sunni insurgent proud. Of course, since I live in Texas and own the requisite pick up truck I don’t have many problems navigating the rubble; however, Mrs. F’er and her sedan have significantly greater challenges and have recently required the use of a crane and elaborate pulley system to resolve the growing ingress and egress issues. Furthermore, I was concerned over the potential liability should a pizza guy fall into one of the cracks and dislocate an elbow or something. A particularly vengeful lawsuit could wrest control of Leper Pop Publishing from yours truly, in which case you would be reading the blog of Bill the Domino’s Pizza delivery guy and Moist Rub. Not that I order that crap from Domino’s, but maybe the off-duty delivery guy that keeps putting coupons on my door every other day might bust his sorry ass in my driveway. I suspect that blog would be even sorrier.

I considered getting a new driveway several years ago, but I thought that $1200 seemed excessive for a load of concrete and some day laborers. So I instead invested in some upgrades to our bicycle fleet. But a funny thing happened after that decision. It seems that China woke up one day and realized that they have a buttload of people there, but not much stuff. So they checked their savings account and found that they had some handsome dollars from selling Beanie Babies to a bunch of silly Americans several years ago. They swung by the ATM and took a major league withdrawal and bought a bunch of steel to build some stuff for themselves, but didn’t warn anyone and created a worldwide shortage of steel. I told you it was a major league withdrawal.

Suddenly my years of undergraduate study in Economics would pay off. I whipped out my pad of graph paper and carefully constructed a supply and demand graph. Taking into consideration the increased demand from China, I correspondingly shifted my demand curve outward and studied the results. Just as I had watched my professors do years before, I drew a dotted line from the intersection of the two curves and realized that the price of steel rebar in my future driveway was likely getting more expensive than a beer at a ballgame. Unfortunately it had to be done, so we called around for some new estimates and found that the price had nearly doubled. But fortunately we found a contractor that had apparently lost some big money betting on Sasha Cohen in the Olympics and needed some fast cash to pay off his bookie. This resulted in a significant cash discount.

The day they were scheduled to start, I wanted to take the day off of work and help out with the jackhammering. It seemed like a golden opportunity to be involved in a legal, yet wonderfully destructive activity. Mrs. F’er had other thoughts, handed me my brown bag lunch and sent me off to work where I would be out of the way. I suspect that she just didn’t want to have to split the jackhammer time with me. After the jackhammering was complete she, too, went off to work.

She arrived home later that day to a fresh spanking new driveway. With the words “fuck you” written across the bottom. She carefully reviewed the contract I signed with the contractor just to make sure I didn’t specifically request that feature, and called him to inquire about the best way to mitigate the damage. From what I can tell the conversation went something like this:

Mrs. F’er: Hi, this is Mrs. F’er and you did my driveway today – I came home and there is some profanity written in it.

Contractor: Son of a bitch!

Mrs. F’er: No, “fuck you”.

Contractor: Hey, that’s uncalled for… I didn’t do it!

Mrs. F’er: No, the profanity says “fuck you”.

Contractor: Son of a bitch!

They eventually sorted it out and he gave her instructions to wet it down, smooth it out as best as possible with a straight edge, and brush it again. She did a nice job and I’m thinking of setting her up with her own paving business, but when I came home I found the word “fuck” written in the driveway. I asked her why she did that, but she didn’t find much humor in my inquiry and set out to repair the new damage.

Why weren’t the damn kids inside playing video games instead of literally “fuck”-ing with my new driveway? I must live in the only neighborhood with kids that don’t own an X-Box and a drum of Cheetos. But even more disappointing was the total lack of creativity. If they were going to go through the effort of vandalizing my stuff, at least do something somewhat more thoughtful than the lowest common denominator of vulgarity. Based on my perception of the local school system, I'm pretty sure it wasn't a reference to Catcher in the Rye. They could have thrown down the anarchy logo. Or a political statement. A gang tag. A relief of Crystal Bernard. I only wish I would have driven up a few minutes earlier to catch them and perhaps stimulate the impotent right side of their brains with a leftover piece of 3/8” rebar.

"I kept picturing myself catching him at it, and how I'd smash his head on the stone steps till he was good and goddam dead and bloody. But I knew, too, I wouldn't have the guts to do it."

I’d probably just catch the little urchin and watch him rip his Green Day shirt in his effort to escape.

We kept a vigil over the project for the rest of the night and it appears to have dried free of any profanities. But now I'm thinking I should have paid the extra for that relief of Crystal.