Sunday, April 30, 2006

Thoughts From The Saddle

I’ve finally gotten back on my bike after a long and unnecessary winter layoff of eating Marshmallow Fluff and avoiding exercise like a rear end collision in a Ford Pinto. Not only does riding help get me back in shape, but the long miles give me time to think and clear my head. Sometimes this is dangerous. Here are some of my thoughts and other items that came out of the memory banks during the 75 miles I traveled this weekend.

So around mile 18 on Saturday an old dude (older than I) comes hammering past me as if I were on a Big Wheel. That makes me realize how out of shape I really am. Unless the old dude was Eddy Merckx, in which case I shouldn’t feel so bad. However, I seriously doubt that Eddy left Belgium for a weekend just to humiliate me on the backroads of Argyle, Texas. If you don’t know who Eddy is then check out Wikipedia since I’m apparently too fat, lazy and out of shape to explain.

Kellie Pickler may be cute now, but she’s got Carnie Wilson written all over her.

Nobody should drive with a dog on xe lap, but especially men. Unless it’s a German Shepard. And the German Shepard has a license. Not a dog license, but a drivers license.

How come you don’t find Odd Couple reruns on TV anymore?

Everytime I see the new Ted Ferguson commercials it makes me think of Turd Ferguson and I laugh. It’s a funny name.

Speaking of commercials, I find myself getting inexplicably turned on by that fairy in the Dodge Caliber commercial. Gay people seem offended and that’s just silly.

I saw a woman reading People magazine in the airport and it reminded me of a quote I read recently. I couldn’t find where I had read it and don’t know who to attribute it to, but it went something like, “For a nation that boasts one of the highest literacy rates in the world, it’s shame we haven’t taught our population what to read.” That should also be obvious from your presence here.

Few people will change their energy consumption habits and all this government talk about commitment to alternative energies is likely bullshit, so I came up with an idea. Why don’t we just steal the oil from the Middle East from underneath them. If we drill from a point in the South Pacific (international waters) through the center of the earth we should be able to tap their reserves and solve the supply problem. Need to fire all those aerospace engineers at NASA and get some geologists on the payroll.

Why do clerks at hotels have their hometown on their nametags? Why do they move for a crappy clerk job? There are hotels in the towns I see on their nametags - so what are they running away from? Should that me make nervous?

I was in the elevator the other day with a woman that smelled like a dentist’s office. It wasn’t bad, but I still felt like rinsing and spitting as soon as we got out.

Bonus story from the road:
I’m going through security at the airport last week when they decide to do a bag check. That’s not uncommon since the fake can of peanut brittle with the spring loaded snakes that pop out which I travel with is often mistaken for a pipe bomb. Then they do the bag check and we all have a good laugh. But this time I was nervous since I had been working at an explosives plant all day and they also test for explosive material. Between the explosives residue and my Al-Qaeda issue beard, I was pretty sure I was going to end up in Guantanamo Bay and considered making a break for it. But I maintained my cool, and my bag passed without incident. But if I disappear someday I suggest arranging a rescue mission to Cuba to bust me out.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Man Zoo

I have figured it out – the key to the success of the future of our society. It wasn’t easy for me to do this, because of my limited cognitive capacity due to my lack of advanced state as a life form (as you’ll learn about shortly). But I did it. This is a woman’s world, and it’s about time they took it over.

I’ve been listening to women lately. In the past I have pretended to listen to them, but I wasn’t. Instead, I was thinking about sports or sex or food or some combination of them. But, lately, I’ve been paying attention. I’ve learned a lot, of what I could understand, anyway.

In addition to the topics I do not (cannot) understand, like beauty and fashion ideas, raising children, Desperate Housewives, flaky feet elixirs, feelings and emotions, general concern for people and railroad design theory, women talk a great deal about men. Sometimes it’s their husbands or boyfriends, sometimes it’s the men in their family and sometimes it’s men in general. As far as I can figure out, they don’t like us very much. Apparently, all we men ever think about is sex, sports and food, and we shouldn’t be. We don’t care about anybody’s feelings except our own. We have no control over our bodily functions. We sit on the couch all day long, have no clue how to raise children, are tremendous slobs, are too hairy and are incapable of making any kind of decision other than deciding which direction to aim our farts. And, we are incapable of opening up emotionally to another human being (specifically, them). Some women go on to say that men have been running this world throughout its history, and they’ve done a pretty crappy job doing it.

I can’t argue. I agree with them. All the criticism women have of men is true (as far as I can tell, anyway). And, I know why. The simple fact is that the male human is a slightly less advanced life form than is the female human.

Many may consider me somewhat of a modern day Pliny the Elder standing at the foot of an erupting Mount Vesuvius, as I have not employed the scientific method in this discovery. I do not have any scientific proof, such as DNA evidence, strictly controlled behavioral analysis or even Ouija board case studies, to support my claim. All I have are vicarious experiences and provisional deduction, which my standards of study shoddily accept.

Empirical evidence shows men to be governed by two great innate forces – sex and aggression. Generally speaking, men want to have sex and if they can’t have sex, they resort to beating somebody up (or kicking a dog, slamming a door, pounding a sledge hammer on a comforter, etc.). I don’t want to get into all the specific data that supports this declaration. Suffice it to say that the proof for male aggression is in all the wars this world had suffered. If men were getting enough sex (which is impossible in the male mind), they wouldn’t have time for wars. The point is that these characteristics are among the most base in the animal world. Aggression is a conflict resolution technique used by lower life forms because they do not have brains capable of reasoning through a problem. Take, for example, the rhinoceros. Have you ever tried talking sense to a rhinoceros? It’s impossible. Before you can get two words out, they charge at you, attempting to acquaint you with their horn. It’s not like I meant to run over his mailbox. I was just trying to avoid hitting the meerkat that jumped out between the parked cars. If the rhino was having sex at the time, he would have never even noticed. And if he did notice, he wouldn’t have cared, at least not until he was finished. By then I would have been long gone. I tried to offer to pay for it, but then the charging happened. It didn’t solve anything. Sure, I’m gored, and all, but I still think he’s a jerk.

Women, to the contrary, excel in communication and community building. Women are the architects of society with the emotions they wield and the nurturing they bestow. The human animal depends on this society for survival and to support progress. Without their ability, we would all be living in houses with no sheets on the beds, no food in the refrigerators and no silverware organizers in the drawers. That’s how animals would live if they could figure out how to build houses.

These are characteristics of an advanced life form who work together for the survival of the species, instead of the survival of a single member of that species, like men do (hence the reason men only think of themselves). Consider the slug. Slugs are very low life forms. Do you ever see a group of slugs getting together for a Tupperware party? Need I say more?

These societal factors as I outlined them above suggest that women are higher life forms than men. But there is more evidence out there. Way out there. Look to the cosmos and the physical laws that rule it. There is a wonderful concept in physics called entropy. Entropy is the tendency for all matter and energy in the universe to evolve toward a state of disorder. It is in entropy that we shall find truth.

If you believe in the Big Bang theory, or some facsimile of it, prior to the big bang, this universe was in perfect order. Everything was organized into a single dot or spec or whatever (I don’t want to get too technical on you). Then, all of a sudden, the dot exploded and expanded and then galaxies formed, and stars formed and planets formed and life formed, and that life formed fans, which were subsequently hit by shit, which added to the disorder. The universe became more and more disordered, and becomes more disordered each second. It may seem that the universe is becoming more ordered, but it’s not. Trust me. Do the math: S = k log W. Consequently, anything helping the entropy in its plight for disorder would be more in tuned with the universe than something that is not.

When I first learned of entropy, I thought it gave me an excuse to sit on my ass and do nothing, since it’s easy to let things fall apart. I figured it was nature’s way, so I embraced it. However, I was wrong. As it turns out, when women straighten out a room, put things away, organize their recipe cards and reorganize their shoes, they are adding to the entropy of the universal system, not quelling it. It may appear on the surface to the uninformed that women are creating order. But, they’re not. In the whole scheme of things, the heat they release and the disruption that heat causes to atoms floating around us while women rearrange their closets actually messes up things more than the order they attempt to achieve. Women, with their organizing efforts, are adding more to the natural entropy than we guys do sitting on a bar stool watching sports. They are more in tune with the cosmos because they are a higher life form.

Now that we know that women are more advanced then men, how do we use this knowledge to help society? Well, what do we do with lower life forms? That’s right, we put them in zoos. That is what I suggest women do with men. Although, like circus animals, men can contribute to society. I propose a work release zoo program for men. Men can do things women don’t want to do, like haul Port-o-Johns, clean Port-o-Johns and use Port-o-Johns. I’m sure there are other things men can do. Not that women couldn’t do whatever those things are, but why should they if they have a work release zoo full of men to do them?

Zoo technology has advanced over the years. The days of sequestering animals in cages are gone. Today’s zoos are built in a manner so they emulate the animals’ natural habitats and living conditions, including food, instinctual requirements (yes, I’m talking about accommodating the human male animal’s sex drive. More on that later.) and leisure. The man zoo should be created in the same fashion. The environment should be equipped with sports bars, playing fields, leather recliners, garages/work sheds and massage parlors. Studies have shown that the average man can work effectively for only four hours per day. This should be considered when creating work release schedules.

The work release programs should be designed to take advantage of each individual male’s talents. Some are good at math, so put them to work in insurance companies. Some are good at cuddling, so dish them out to women who need some cuddling. Note: expecting a non-cuddler male to cuddle will cause a similar result as expecting an elephant to incubate a chicken egg - so make sure your assessments are accurate. Some men actually are good at listening and empathizing. Harnessing these rare specimens could be a great money making initiative to the entrepreneurial woman. Then there are the builder men, the fixer men, the heavy lifting men, the plumbing men, etc. I’m sure you women will be able to figure it all out. I certainly can’t, being a lower life form, and all.
Maintaining a healthy male population in the man zoo will also necessitate the instinctual requirements (as mentioned above) of the human male animal to be satisfied. There are a number of ways you can accomplish this. One would be to relegate select “hot” and “adventurous” members of the female population to “work” with the animals. A more severe and cruel solution would be castration (please don’t do this. C’mon, you’ve already put us in zoos! What more do you want???). One last suggestion would be the invention and implementation of the BJ 2500 robot, fully equipped with drink holder, ash tray and sandwich dispenser. But, you ladies do what you think is necessary.

Once the men are safely tucked away in the sports bars, I mean, man zoos, women can run the planet as they see fit. I would expect to see less wars, less pollution, a better environment, more human dignity abound and more knick knack stores. If any men act up, then employ the castration I talked you out of in the last paragraph. Freeing the world of the scourge that is the less developed human male animal will certainly pave the way for the success of the matriarchal society our species has evolved to maintain. We already have the raw materials – sports bars, leather recliners, playing fields, etc. They just need to be organized into a zoo setting. Once women use their entropy enhancing powers to do so, the world will be a better place.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Know Before You Go – Monroe, Louisiana

The airport has only three gates, so don’t sweat it if you don’t know your gate number before leaving.

The accent on the word “umbrella” is on the first syllable.

Camo is the new black and can be purchased at the local Army/Navy Surplus store. It should be worn by all genders, ages, races, and sizes at all times.

Monroe is first place west of the Mississippi to bottle Coca-Cola.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Spend a Day with West Coast Ray (WCR)

A client in sunny Southern California needed our assistance, so I donned my tights and cape and booked a flight on American Airlines. They made me take off the cape while going through security, but for the good of all mankind I was allowed to pass through with my tights on. I arrived at LAX Wednesday night, rented the Sid-Mobile (actually a Pontiac G6, the same kind Oprah gave away, so I guess it was more an Oprahmobile), and made my way to the Westin. Westin is branding the entire hotel experience as “heavenly”. It started with their new fancy heavenly beds, but now includes a heavenly check-in, heavenly elevators, heavenly key cards, heavenly thermostats, heavenly showerheads, heavenly wake-up calls, heavenly desks and heavenly bellboys. That last one sounded a little too gay porn and I made most of them up except for heavenly showerhead. They make it sound like when you die, St. Peter will check you into the great Westin in the sky where God is hosting a manager’s heavenly reception in the penthouse every evening. But I digress. It’s not a bad place, except for the Celine Dion, Donald Trump and creepy Alfred Molina billboards staring into my room. They were slightly offset by the Rebecca Romijjn as the up-and-coming, but klutzy, Pepper Dennis, who always gets her story billboard (Tuesdays 9/8C on the WB). After checking in I had a dinner at Second City Bistro in El Segundo. I went with the filet mignon with blackberry peppercorn sauce, port soaked cherries, mashed potatoes and spinach. It sounds good, but was all kind of piled together like a rugby scrum and all those distinct flavors got lost in the mess. It wasn’t bad, but would have been so much better if they weren’t trying to be so eclectic with the presentation and just served it up on one of those compartmentalized Chinet paper plates (I'm pretty low maintenance). I considered stopping at the Purple Orchid Exotic Tiki Lounge next door, but decided that fat, drunk and naked was not the best way to return to the Westin. If it had been a Monday I don’t think I would have been able to resist their famous manicure and martini night ($10).

The next day I managed to finish up business in El Segundo by 4 p.m., returned the Oprahmobile back to Hertz and was ready to return to DFW when I suddenly realized it was Holy Thursday. Holy Thursday is the most complex and profound of all religious observances, saving only the Easter Vigil. It celebrates both the institution by Christ Himself of the Eucharist and of the institution of the sacerdotal priesthood (as distinct from the "priesthood of all believers") for in this, His last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover, He is the self-offered Passover Victim, and every ordained priest to this day presents this same sacrifice, by Christ's authority and command, in exactly the same way. The Last Supper was also Christ's farewell to His assembled disciples, some of whom would betray, desert or deny Him before the sun rose again. (I stole all that verbiage from since I’m a CCD dropout and didn’t readily know the significance of Holy Thursday.) But Holy Thursday also represents the day when West Coast Ray (WCR) and I would wash the feet of dancers at the local titty bars. I could not betray my friend by leaving So Cal without calling, so I rang him up, found out where he was, and grabbed the first cab to Santa Fe Springs. I found him at SB II, which I learned is short for the name of the sports bar Scoreboard II (since Scoreboard I was apparently a smashing success). He was waiting with a co-worker named Sarah. (Her real name is spelled Sarrah, but I’m leaving out the second “r” to protect her identity.) Sarah had come to have her favorite Leper Pop blog signed. It happened to be one of Moist Rub’s posts, so I signed it “Barry Manilow” and returned it with a smile. Since I missed the excitement of the crosswalk sting, in which Santa Fe Springs police would send little old ladies through the crosswalk of busy Firestone Avenue and then ticket drivers who hit them after failing to yield, we made plans for the next stop.

There were rumors of a mean, evil bartender at the Santa Fe Inn, so WCR wanted to take on the challenge of finding this troubled being and proving xe as just misunderstood. Just like Bumbles in Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The Santa Fe Inn was a classic dive with a diverse group of drunkards balanced precariously upon rickety stools. WCR’s stool threatened to face plant him into the bar, while mine threatened to body slam me back into the floor behind. The wicked barkeep of the west was off-duty, but on-premises with her head buried in a video poker machine. She did pop out to buy Sarah a drink and seemed harmless enough. The actual barkeep on duty was even friendlier and gave us the remote to one of the bar TV’s to try and find the Mighty Ducks game since all she could find were repeats of Friends and Yes, Dear. I wanted to watch Friends since it was one of the episodes where Ross had the monkey that was just so darn cute, but relented after the other patrons threatened to rape me on the pool table. We couldn’t find the hockey game and instead settled on an NBA game that nobody cared about, while Mrs. WCR sent text message updates on the Ducks from the homestead. But more importantly karaoke was awaiting, so we packed up and took off for Bruce’s.

Bruce’s karaoke was already in action and we took our seats at the bar as a woman who looked like she ate Shania Twain sang Still The One. WCR grabbed the songbook and flipped to the Elvis Presley section. The usual rotation of Frank Sinatra wannabes, blue jean country crooners, burned out classic rockers and other aberrant songsters rotated through the spotlight when WCR was finally called. The distinct opening bars of You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling played out as he took the stage.

“Yo, yo, yo, dawg, awright, awright, y’know it was a little pitchy in the beginning, y’know what I’m saying, but, dawg, you pulled it off.”

“Oh, WCR, I love watching you every week and you have the greatest voice and you can soil my hot tub anytime!”

“WCR. I thought it was well done, but….”
(audience boos… gets punched in arm by Paula)
“But…. you need to work the room a little more.”
(cue music)

Behind the scenes we learned that the karaoke DJ made a rookie error and cued up the Righteous Brothers version instead of the requested Elvis version (ahm sorry, DJ, but you’re just not roit for our house band). More determined than ever to win over the judges, WCR pulled out the songbook and knew exactly where he needed to go. He decidedly filled out the request sheet, turned it over the karaoke queen and confidently took a seat while waiting his turn. I took a long draw of diet coke from my glass and, full of aspartame courage, filled out my own song request. The karaoke queen was losing the crowd by approving When The Music’s Over by the Doors, turning the vibrant lounge into a poetry slam attended by a crowd of lizard killers wanting to rip the tail off the diminutive Jim Morrison imitator. With that WCR took the stage again and suddenly good times never seemed so good. I looked at the night and it didn’t seem so lonely.
Neil Diamond filled the air, the bar swayed, hands, touching hands. Randy named a wing of the dawg pound after him, Paula passed out in an orgasmic tizzy, Simon got caught doodling pictures of unicorns on his pad of paper, the barkeep bought a round of drinks on the house, and confetti dropped from the cork ceiling overhead. And when it was all over, they called Sid to the stage. Suddenly I knew what it was like to be JD on the Switched On tour. As the opening chords of the Clash’s Should I Stay or Should I Go filled the hall, I fluffed up my beard and dropped into my best leg splay. I channeled Joe Strummer and did the best damn version of the tune ever by a guy dressed in business casual wear and a fluffed up beard in a full leg splay at Bruce’s that night. Sarah attempted a photo, but I hear the battery ran out. So you’ll have to trust me. After I finished, the next singer sang a Chicago tune. That’s right… Chicago with lead singer Peter Cetera, who did a duet with none other than…….

Crystal Bernard.

Now that we owned Bruce’s we packed up and decided to conquer the unknown. WCR needed an evil looking, bearded sidekick to back him up just in case the locals weren’t too friendly during his first trip to a nearby roadside saloon. In a way, each of us has an El Guapo to face. For some, shyness might be their El Guapo. For others, a lack of education might be their El Guapo. For us, El Guapo is a big, dangerous man who wants to kill us. We pulled into the parking lot of Hedz or Tales and were greeted by the Karaoke banner flying haphazardly over the entrance. As soon as we walked through the door, we were greeted by a Latina porn star in a “Got Stiffy?” spaghetti strap tank top moonlighting as a bartender and currently in the middle of a hot hip-hop karaoke performance. Despite the assault on our high morals, we didn’t want to be rude and walk out so we took a seat at the bar right in front of the welcoming Wild Turkey sign. There were only about 10 other patrons, including a Jack Russell of Great White look-a-like. He took the mike and while we steadied ourselves for a hair metal classic, he busted unexpectedly into another hip-hop song and, as far as I could tell, nailed it with some fitting improv vocals of his own included. Neil Diamond would not fly here, so WCR dialed up some Green Day and took his turn at the mike. Soon the PA system burst forth with the Stone’s Midnight Rambler. WCR did his best Ashlee Simpson and jigged over to the DJ and slapped him upside the head, explaining the difference between Green Day and the Rolling Stones. The DJ seemed to understand and cued up some Pointer Sisters. And then some Judas Priest. And then some Garth Brooks. And then some Don Johnson, Eddie Murphy, Eddie Money, Marky Mark, Beastie Boys, and Slayer. Each time WCR rejected the opening bars like a vegetarian rejecting a Big Mac. Eventually, the DJ gave up and admitted he couldn’t find the song while WCR informed him he’s just not roit for our house band. Jack Russell jumped in, changed gears and offered up a fine rendition of some death metal classic about Lucifer taking his hand and going out for Thai food or something. Several minutes later, an excited Jack Russell came running over to us with a songbook to tell WCR that he found Green Day. WCR explained that he had found it as well, but the DJ was the one that got stoned and mislabeled his CD collection. Jack looked like somebody had just told him Oz Fest was cancelled because he forgot to reserve the arena. We couldn’t stand to watch the disappointment in his eyes anymore and departed for our next stop.

Group Therapy is WCR’s home bar and where I was introduced to everybody as Sid from Montana, where I lived among the grizzlies with my beard and a jar of peanut butter. That seemed to frighten them a bit, which gave me the opportunity to sit back and enjoy my selections on the jukebox (Garbage and Van Halen) without the distraction of idle chitchat. At one point WCR was outside keeping company with the smoker contingent when he sent over his buddy Melody to introduce herself to Sid (the guy with the beard). What he failed to realize was that a Jesus look-a-like was in the bar to re-enact The Last Binge. I enjoyed the confusion of the ensuing conversation between Melody and Jesus for a few moments before volunteering that she was probably looking for me and not the false idol before her. As WCR says, “All you bearded freaks look alike.” Although I had been reluctant to leave the Latina porn star bartender at the previous establishment, WCR made sure I was aware that the Group Therapy resident stripper was tending bar that evening. She wore a white fishing hat and hence earned the name Gilligan for the night, although I preferred to call her Maynard to further confuse things. I also learned that bartending is a great second gig for a stripper since all the drunken guys in the bar are more than happy to help restock the bar, sweep the floors, clean ashtrays and kiss your ass as 2 a.m. approaches. As the closing rituals progressed, we realized that we hadn’t eaten in the last 14 hours and planned a trip for some late night burritos.

We ordered up the burritos, then took them out the patio where there is usually something entertaining going on at 2:30 a.m. Upon our arrival, there was but one person out there. A girl of about 17, sitting with an order of french fries and a tall boy of Miller Genuine Draft. Greatness. We had a chat about closing times at area bars and the various food options after closing. Then we were joined by a group of about six college age guys, their leader a chatty fellow with a backpack who quickly christened WCR with the name Bill Gates for no apparent reason other than the fact that he was wearing glasses. Backpack Boy then entered a debate with Bill over computer technology, talk radio, politics, and geography that sounded more like dialogue from Pulp Fiction rather than a dweeb trying to impress a 17 year old girl by trying to annoy a couple of old farts out past their bedtime. The next several minutes consisted of some decked out club goers, the threat of a food fight, the threat of a real fight, a female bodybuilder and a peace agreement brokered by WCR before our departure. The patio never disappoints.

We took the 17 year old girl home with us, but Mrs. WCR made us take her back where we found her. We claimed that she just followed us home and asked if we could keep her, but the Mrs. wasn’t buying it. I made that last part up, so I hope you weren’t buying it, either. The rest, however, is my story and I’m sticking to it.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Big Easy Sid

Upon my arrival to New Orleans a couple weeks ago, I immediately took a walk to Bourbon Street. Well, not immediately… I rented a car and drove downtown and checked into my hotel. If you haven’t been to New Orleans it’s really not feasible to walk from the airport to downtown unless you have a full day to blow and not much luggage. Additionally, it wouldn’t look that cool walking around Bourbon Street with a duffel bag and a laptop, and I’m all about looking cool. So to recap, I rented a car, drove downtown, checked in, dropped off my bags, and called Mrs. F’er to let her know I didn’t die in a fiery plane crash and that I would now be heading down to Bourbon Street to find nourishment. Well, not really. You see, there’s not much to eat on Bourbon Street proper unless you want a slice of pizza from the frozen drink storefronts or a hot dog from Ignatius Reilly and his Lucky Dog cart. Newly inspired by Moist Rub’s graph of my weight in an earlier post, I bypassed those options and instead decided to just check out the scene and walk around a bit before starting my quest for a somewhat healthful meal. Finding that in New Orleans is like going to Afghanistan to find a Christian. But CNN found one there, so I held out hope.

Bourbon Street is more alive each time I visit, and most of the hurricane debris in the Quarter has been cleared and aptly replaced with a lighter than usual layer of crud leftover from a lighter than usual Mardi Gras crowd. On my walk I decided to peruse the music scene and perhaps take in some of that famous Zydeco music I dig so much. Here is what I found:

Bar #1: A house band I recognize from previous trips with a very bored looking girl singer performing You Really Got Me by the Kinks (or Van Halen, depending on when you were born) for a group of drunken frat boys on spring break spilling beer and looking for the cast of Girls Gone Wild. The singer looked like she was in her car stuck in traffic and just subconciously singing along to the radio. Not sure what the band name was, but for our purposes they shall now be known simply as Ennui.

Bar #2: Band with a drunken looking singer trying to interpret Drops of Jupiter by Train, but sounding like his vocal cords were destroyed in the hurricane. I placed a blue tarp across his throat and moved on.

Bar #3: Finally, I hear the strains of the Zydeco classic Mississippi Queen emanating from the next bar. The rhythm section is tight and a girl is laying down a bad-ass cowbell beat with the zeal of Will Ferrell, although she looks about 10 years too old to be participating in such activities. They start to pass the tip jar around, but I can’t find it in my soul to tip somebody for doing Mountain covers no matter how bad-ass the cowbell.

The only true Zydeco music seems to be coming from PA systems with blown speakers in front of each of the 547 t-shirt shops that line the street. I continue to mill about smartly, alternately passing Larry Flynt’s Barely Legal strip emporiums and people who look like they’re one bad decision away from re-enacting a Nick Nolte mugshot.

I finally decided that it might not be the best night for music and finally peeled off the main drag down a side street to clear my head and begin my search for food. Unable to escape the music, I get passed by a white Escalade, pimped out and bass thumping. But instead of an unrecognizable rap song it was none other than the sweet sounds of Andy Gibb caressing the evening air. I gave the driver the devil horns and rocked down to Decatur Street. Maybe it’s hip to be square again.

As I made the turn up Decatur Street, I saw a tour bus and trailer parked out front of the House of Blues, so decided to check it out. I hoped that in a freak coincidence it might be the Lovehammer bus and that Marty would jump on my back and invite me in for some Parcheesi, but it was just Bonnie Raitt. I can roll with the changes, so I waited for her to run out and jump on my back and invite in for a game of Scrabble but she was still rocking out inside the club. I was pissed that I didn’t get there early enough to hit the show, but I wasn’t going to wait around for her so I continued my quest for sustenance. Then I saw it – Attiki Bar & Grill.

Mediterranean sounded healthier than Cajun, so I bellied up to the bar and ordered a cold one. The barkeep somehow must have been aware of the conditions of my parole and brought me an O’Doul’s. It was as icy as the stares I got the last time I wore my Snidely Whiplash t-shirt to the Mountie convention. I perused the menu like an illiterate at the Library of Congress, realizing that I didn’t have Mrs. F’er to translate these exotic entrees for me. I played it safe and narrowed it down to a gyro sandwich or something called a shawarma sandwich. I deferred to my loyal barkeep Joelle, who highly recommended the shawarma, so who was I to disagree. She rocked, the sandwich perfectly appeased my hunger, and I sauntered back to Room 420. Upon check-in I had been assigned to Room 420 again, ironically a non-smoking room, and despite the room number I couldn’t find a stash anywhere. Nary a seed nor stem to be found, but I did enjoy the platter of trippy brownies.

Next day I set up in my temporary office adjacent to a computer closet containing a piece of equipment that was emitting a constant beeping sound. I pretended I was in a busy urban ER, saving gangbangers from gunshot wounds so that they could return to the streets to be a public nuisance. Lunchtime rolled around and I decided to begin my new diet program. If successful, I was hoping that I would be able to crack the New York Times non-fiction best sellers list with The New Orleans Bread Pudding with Rum Sauce Diet. In case you’re wondering, I think it will work if you commit to doing one-handed cartwheels for three hours in the afternoon after eating but I’m still waiting for the results of the clinical trial.

After a hard day’s work I walked through the lobby and in the lounge I found my muse at the piano. I had worked off the bread pudding by this time, so I had to abandon her with the promise to return after re-nourishing. I donned my beads and party hat and walked back to Bourbon Street. I considered a Cajun dinner to complement my attire, but found myself back at Attiki. The O’Doul’s was still icy and this time I added the stuffed grape leaves appetizer to my shawarma sandwich, and then in a temporary bout of narcissistic surfeit I found myself asking Joelle for the dessert list. I again deferred to my culinary representative and ended up with a slice of hot fudge sundae cheesecake in front of me. When she asked me how it was, I suddenly had a chance to quote one of my favorite movie scenes (slightly modified to fit the situation) – “That’s some pretty fucking good cheesecake.” Now that I was a regular, I was introduced to the rest of the staff, including the lunch bartender Cameron, who, as far as I can tell, moves to the other side of the bar after his shift and spends the rest of his day drinking and smoking with a pained expression on his face. I was tempted to sample the rest of the dessert menu, but I had a date with a dame and a piano and had to ramble back.

Upon my arrival, my muse asked what I wanted to hear and seemed pleased with my request for some Gottschalk. She enthusiastically pulled out her book of oldies and, since the bar was as crowded as the granny panty booth at a stripper convention, I got my own personal performance of songs from the 19th and early 20th century. She decided to test my knowledge and asked me when I thought Someday My Prince Will Come was written. I surmised 1937 and shocked her and myself with the correct answer, and was presented with a deli platter from Rupert Jee’s Hello Deli. I took the deli platter to my room and retired for the evening.

After eating some rolled up ham and cheddar squares for breakfast, I headed downstairs for work. The beeping persisted and I pretended I was the new star of 24, chasing down the beeping improvised explosive device before it destroys the rest of New Orleans. Then I drifted off for a moment and started thinking about Ashleigh Banfield. She was a local anchor here in Dallas, but also sang in a band and I occasionally saw her around town just hanging out and shooting pool. Always thought that was pretty cool since I never ran into Walter Cronkite while I was out drinking. Then she disappeared from my life, found a really cool pair of glasses, booked a ticket to Afghanistan and got famous when we started exploding the crap out of that country a few years ago. Shortly thereafter she fell off my radar screen since I’m not typically a news channel junkie unless the lovely and talented Robin Meade is gracing my screen on Headline News Monday through Fridays from 6 to 10 am ET. But I digress. And with that digression it was time for lunch and I was forced back to the lavish buffet where I strictly adhered to my innovative New Orleans Bread Pudding with Rum Sauce Diet. After a few more hours of work and some one-handed cartwheels, I locked up and went back to the room to freshen up. I was never really sure what that meant, so I rubbed some wilted lettuce from the deli tray on my forehead and hit the streets for some dinner.

I decided I would indulge in the local cuisine and found a casual corner joint that offered up an appealing combo platter of jambalaya, red beans and rice, creole, a whole blackened walrus and a 50# sack of crawfish. The food was decent, but I had failed to heed my own rule of using caution at places with Help Wanted signs in the window. Like many other service establishments, they are woefully understaffed due to the lack of housing for hourly labor and I believe my server that night forgot about me like a broken toy two weeks after Christmas. It wasn’t like she was sitting at the bar reading a Hardy Boys mystery, but was so in the weeds that I couldn’t get too upset. Instead she got a generous tip courtesy of my expense account that hopefully helped redeem her night and I started the trek back to the hotel. However, like a moth drawn to a flame I was sucked into the swirling vortex of Attiki and the only way to escape was to eat the magical hot fudge sundae cheesecake. As soon as I finished, the ride came to a complete stop, I exited to the right and proceeded back to the hotel, slightly woozy but satisfied.

I stopped in the lounge to wind down with some chillin’ music and found my pianist accompanied by a banjo player. I worked with a girl once that decided to pursue her dream and started taking banjo lessons. It was just odd enough to be kind of sexy. But I digress. This banjo player was an old German guy and not that sexy. I don’t mind the banjo most of the time, but it just seemed to be in the way that night. They played Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey, and after that every song in which he accompanied her sounded like Bill Bailey. I wasn’t alone with that observation, as she transitioned into Bill Bailey a couple times after that much to my amusement and his annoyance. This night the bar was as crowded as a Brokeback Mountain screening at the White House, so when break time came down my muse joined me at my table where we discussed Europe, crime rates, music, suicide, and Bette Midler. Then she dutifully returned to the ivories for her last set, after which she rewarded me with a complimentary CD for my attention. I got back to Room 420, mainlined the complimentary conditioning shampoo and called it a night.

Next morning, the incessant beeping finally broke me and it now became a representation of my life ticking away at my godforsaken job. I wrapped up business, had a final serving of New Orleans Bread Pudding with Rum Sauce and got myself back to the still depressingly desolate New Orleans airport. The flight was delayed, so I perused my complimentary USA Today and just like a plate of shrimp, there’s Ashleigh Banfield on the front page of Section D because she didn’t wear a dress when she got married in 2004, but instead dressed up as Ace Frehley from KISS. OK, I made that last part up, but she did don a wedding pantsuit rather than a dress and inspired a collective gasp from the apparently emphysemic audience as she walked down the aisle. Technically I guess it was really a dock since she got married on a boat. It wasn’t really clear because I didn’t really give a hoot and was just reading the story to avoid a possible conversation with any nearby passengers.

Eventually my plane showed up and I dreamed of the day I would return for more bread pudding.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Hey everybody, I have a condition called Latent Epiglottial Profuius, and I need to have an experimental surgery to get rid of it. The procedure will probably kill me.

I will keep you posted.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Oliver's Army

Sorry for the lack of posts, but lots going on outside of the Leper Pop domain. We're still writing, but like to post something more than a daily diary of how bad our jobs suck and what the deal is with Jessica Simpson. In between posts, drop by Leper House - the official message board of Leper Pop. Always nice to hear from new people or you perpetual lurkers.

Damn, I wish I was a Brady. I really wasn’t old enough to watch during the original run as I was busy making ashtrays out of Play-Doh and running an imaginary tavern in my bedroom. This was before modern technology gave us wonders such as the Fuzzy Pumper Barbershop or the slightly disturbing Dentist Set, so you had to use your imagination. But I digress.

In 1974, the great Robert Reed finally went mad after giving up a promising stage career to play Mike Brady in 117 half hour episodes of television greatness. The series ended after Reed barricaded himself in Mike Brady’s old den after Greg had turned it into a groovy bachelor pad, holding Mike Lookinland (Bobby) and Susan Olsen (Cindy) hostage until Dr. Bombay was called over from the Bewitched set to negotiate a deal that would spare the two youngest Bradys. Dr. Bombay (Calling Dr. Bombay, Calling Dr. Bombay, Emergency, Emergency, come right away!) had been through a similar experience on the Bewitched set when the first Darrin (Dick York) got a hold of some PCP laced brownies that a mischievous crew member mistakenly left out on the buffet table, and Bombay had to talk York down from a lighting truss high above the set where he was readying to fly around on a stagehand’s push broom. York was too ashamed to return and producers replaced him with another actor named Dick (Sargent) hoping that the viewers wouldn’t notice. Unfortunately it didn’t work, although Darrin’s boss Larry Tate didn’t notice. The backlash meant that Brady creator Sherwood Schwartz would have to scrap his plans to replace Robert Reed with another actor named Robert (Redford). Redford was disappointed (oh, and Florence Henderson wasn’t?), but instead Redford accepted a role in The Sting, for which he received an Academy Award nomination in 1974. Sherwood also considered replacing Reed with an actor named Dick, but that would have led to incessant giggles from the young cast and he scrapped that plan as well.

You’ve probably heard the term “jumped the shark” by now. It refers to that moment when your favorite TV show begins wasting away into a shell of what it once was. The term is inspired by Happy Days, which many people believe started its downward spiral when Fonzie decided to jump the shark tank on water skis. Like we hadn’t already seen that at the Tommy Bartlett Water Show in Wisconsin Dells every summer. For anyone that didn’t understand that regional reference, Wisconsin Dells is kind of like Orlando without Disney World. And it’s in Wisconsin and not Florida. It’s been years since I’ve been there, but that’s how I remember it. They also have the above referenced water show, during which they plaster an official Tommy Bartlett Water Show window sticker on your rear windshield while you’re distracted by the pyramid of water skiers motoring around the lake dressed up in used Vegas showgirl costumes. But I digress.

If you were a fan of the Brady Bunch, you might remember Cousin Oliver. His appearances in the final season are considered by many as the moment when the series “jumped the shark” and eventually ended production. Unfortunately for Oliver, his name became synonymous with the addition of a cute kid to a television show in an attempt to stave off a lack of fresh ideas and waning interest from the home audience. Future “Cousin Olivers” would include Stephanie (All in the Family), Sam (Different Strokes), Andy (Family Ties), Captain Break-It (Leper Pop), and even Scrappy-Doo (Scooby-Doo). Personally, I enjoyed the final six episodes with Cousin Oliver. Who didn’t want to have a whip-crème pie fight like the Bradys did after Oliver ended the jinx? I’d rather have had a private whip crème session with Maureen McCormick (Marcia, Marcia, Marcia), but that was a given for any guy my age. By the way, she aged well and I still would. Oliver also was there when Cindy attempted a career as a Shirley Temple impersonator and when Bobby started cruising pool halls to hustle people while Mike and Carol thought he was at the library. Oliver also uncovered the international spy plot that linked Sam the Butcher to the Russians. If the series wasn’t cancelled after the next episode, I’m sure that Oliver would have helped Peter discover Alice’s secret life as a madam for high class call girls in the area. The conspiracy theorist in me wants to believe that there are unreleased episodes that were considered too edgy that will soon be released in some sort of DVD compilation any day now.

Back in the early 90’s, the Annoyance Theater in Chicago presented the wildly popular Real Live Brady Bunch plays, which consisted of live performances of actual Brady Bunch episodes. I got to see the Davy Jones episode, with special guest Emo Philips playing the part of Mr. Jones, but I think there was a part of me that secretly wanted to see an Oliver episode. Philip Seymour Hoffman was relatively unknown back then and would have been great in the role. Not sure he would have earned an Emmy to sit next to that Oscar he just got, but it would have been a good story for me to tell. Does anyone even know who the hell Emo Philips is anymore or whatever happened to him?

In their heyday, the Bradys put together a pretty impressive list of guest stars including Desi Arnez Jr (he’s so dreamy), Mr. Howell from Gilligan’s Island, Don Drysdale, Don Ho, Davy and Deacon Jones (Are you guys brothers?), Gordon Jump (WKRP), Joe Namath, and Vincent Price. I was especially resentful that my dad, unlike Mr. Brady, could not get Joe Namath to come over to our house to toss the ball around the backyard. I let go of that resentment a few years later when former Chicago Bears quarterback Bobby Douglas showed up at our football practice in high school and damn near broke my hand with one of his passes (Now I'll never be a hand model!). Yes, I dropped it and ruined my chances for a Division I scholarship, but the pass was a little high. It’s not like the guy is a Hall of Famer. Honestly, I wasn’t even qualified for a Division II or Division III scholarship. OK, so I wasn’t even allowed to fill the water bottles at the local community college, but that doesn’t mean I sucked. The recruiters just overlooked my bulimic physique and turtle-like speed. But I digress.

I kept waiting for Robbie Rist, the actor who played Oliver, to show up on an E! True Hollywood Story to tell how the Brady experience warped him and led him to a life of sniffing glue and transvestite whoring. But nothing. Barry Williams (Greg Brady) showed up on Celebrity Boxing to fight Danny Bonaduce (Partridge), but no sign of Robbie reprising his role for a cage fight against Chris from the Partridge Family. Then Christopher Knight (Peter) showed up on The Surreal Life to dispel any myths that his life might have turned out normal. I kept waiting for a Robbie Rist arrest and subsequent mugshot on The Smoking Gun. No luck. I was starting to get pissed, so I decided to do some research. I was expecting to have to dig my Peter Brady detective kit out of the attic (the same one used in The Great Earring Caper episode), but Robbie made it rather easy for me with his website.

It appears the guy is doing well. He’s done some voice-over work and is now working on his music career (both playing and producing). Personally I think the Marty Casey & Lovehammers should have had Robbie produce the new album. His Brady experience might have related well to Marty who, with his own five siblings, might have participated in a potato sack race or two.

In any case, drop by Robbie’s site and check out his work. He hasn’t updated his home page in a while, but if activity on the message board picks up maybe it will help expedite the site re-design he’s talking about. There is some more activity and pictures on his myspace page if you’re curious. If you like his music, maybe we can hire his band to play Leperpalooza. What could be more fun?