Monday, April 30, 2007


I am not very good at asking for help. I like to do things on my own, solve my own problems. I don't know if it is because of the way I was raised, or if it's a sort of societal gender-programming, but I feel that a man's got to be a man and if the going gets rough, he goes it alone.

But last night, something happened that shook that mindset, a bit. And I'm kind of floating, now, wondering what I should do. I am hesitant to splash this all across the Web, for reasons that will be obvious when--and if--I write more on this. But I consider those who read this almost-daily drivel to be "in my corner," as it were, and, though BIFF is a 21st Century joke, of sorts, I believe that there is something to the connections one makes on the Internet. I hope to God that I'm not wrong.

I have no children--as most of you might already know--but I do have a dog, Lou, and he is like a son to me, albeit furry and mute and sometimes stinky. Lou is a daily companion and Lou is loyal and I would give my right middle finger to keep him safe. And so when his safety is threatened, I tend to get a little excited, a little in-your-face.

Last night, at about 9:30, my cell phone rang, jarring me from an unfocused reverie in which I was doing nothing but staring at the map of the United States on the computer room's wall, trying (mostly in vain) to recall from junior high school years the state capitals. I had gotten Michigan (Lansing) and California (Sacramento) and Rhode Island (Providence). I had gotten Alaska wrong (it's not Anchorage) and I had botched Texas, as well. (Crawford is not the capital of Texas, nor is it the center of the universe, despite what our fearless chimpanzee leader might think.)

My phone rang, spitting out some approximation of "Flight of the Bumblebee" by Rachmaninov, and I jumped, a bit. Lou, looking guilty (as always), took the opportunity to slink out of the room and into the front room, where he clambered aboard the couch and, with a heavy sigh, affected a disinterested glaze to his eyes. I stared after him and shrugged and picked up my phone. I didn't recognize the number. Hell, for that matter, I didn't even recognize the area code. 818? Where the hell is 818, I wondered. But, seeing as how I was bored, and flummoxed by geography, I decided to answer it. I've been kicking myself ever since. Now they know, you see. And they know where I live. And they know that the phone number is legitimate.

"Hello?" I answered.

"Is this Adam B____?" a man's roughened voice asked.

There's a game I play--and I usually get it wrong--in which I try to visualize strangers' physical characteristics from their voices alone. You know: The old joke about the fat DJ with the thin voice or the slim-voiced 900-number babe who's actually 3 bills and a mother of four. I do it all the time and, when I've met the voice on the other end, I'm usually way off base, but this time? This time I feel it in my bones that I'm right on center, a long-distance physicality bullseye.

I picture this guy--and I obviously have not yet met him, nor do I know if I will--but I picture this guy as, like, a late-'70s/early-'80s refugee. Some "player" who doesn't know that the calender has flipped. Flipped a few times, in fact. I see him, in my mind's eye, as a slightly-overweight man with a thick black mustache and thinning black hair slicked back from his widow's peak with some kind of greasy Bryl-creme-type gel. I would bet my last five dollars that he is the type to wear a button-up shirt unbuttoned to just above the navel, and it would not surprise me at all to know that he wears a golden medallion, as well. That type. And this guy Rick (I learned his name later in the conversation) is about as far away from metrosexuality as a chicken is from the North Pole. He's not one to shave himself, I don't think; his coarse black chest-hair is probably springing out of his shirt.

"Uh, yeah," I said. "Who's this, please?"

"And you live at--" I could see him pushing his glasses up on his greasy nose "--[address redacted], Royal Oak, Michigan?"

"Uh, sure.... Who is this, again?"

"Mr. B____, this is Rick Toldem, from Sunlight Productions, Van Nuys, California?"

"Okaaaaaay..." I said.

"Yeah, we're calling about your dog, Louie?"

"My dog Louie?" I said, taking the phone from my ear and glancing into the front room. Louie saw me looking and quickly resumed his "sleep." I looked back at the phone, a bit bewildered, and put it to my ear.

"--tribute and we'd like to give him a look-see," Rick was saying.

"I--I'm sorry, Mr. Toldem," I said. "I didn't catch that. What were you saying?"

"Oh, no problema," he said. "I was just saying that we received an anonymous call late yesterday afternoon and the caller was saying that your dog has a certain attribute that we might be interested in seeing. We have a person in the area--around Detroit, actually--you close to Detroit?"

"Well, yeah, but--"

"So this person we got is near Detroit," he overrode," and we were thinking we could maybe set up an appointment sometime this week? Maybe give ole Lou a once-over?"

I sat there, in my comfortable armchair, in uncomfortable, perplexed, silence.

"Mr. B____? You still there?"

I shook my head as if to clear cobwebs. "Wha--what is this all about, Mr. Toldem? You're coming out of left field, here."

"Rick," he said.

"Okay, Rick, what is this all about?" I said. I got up and walked into the kitchen and poured myself a mug of coffee. I glanced at Lou on the way back to the computer room. His nose was buried between his paws and he appeared to be sleeping, his chest rising and falling in deep rhythmic breaths. "I mean," I said as I sat down, "I get this call on a Sunday night, from some guy in California, talking about some mysterious caller who is regaling my dog with some kind of attributes.... I--I'm just at a loss, here, Mr. Toldem."


"Rick," I corrected.

"Well, Mr. B_____, first off, no one was regaling your dog. To regale someone or something would imply that the person was entertaining or amusing your dog...I can assure you that that is not--and was not--the case."

"Semantics," I said. "You know what I'm saying." I rubbed the back of my neck with my left hand. I was starting to tighten up.

"Yes," he chuckled. "Semantics. Sorry about that. It's a bad habit of mine, correcting people's grammar. Pisses off my friends. Call it English degree-itus, if you want to. I guess I'm just a frustrated English major."

"Aren't we all," I muttered.

"Yes. Anyway, as I said, Sunlight Productions is where I'm calling from. I'm the Head of the scouting department and it's my job to follow leads on certain new talents that spring up around the country. When I get a call direct to my office, Mr. B____, I can assure you, I take that seriously. It's my job to make sure it's legit. The adult film industry is booming, sure--billion-dollar-a-year industry, don'tcha know--but--or maybe because of that--we get our fair share of crackpots calling, saying that they're the new John Holmes. Or the next Jenna Jameson." He chuckled. Rocks in sandpaper.

I cleared my throat. " film industry?"


"You mean, like, porn?" Unbidden, images of flesh danced in my mind.

"Yup. Pornography, or, as we like to call it, romantic celluoid tranquility. RET, for short."

"RET, for short," I repeated.

"Yes. That's right, Mr. B____," he said. "May I call you Adam?"

"Sure," I said, distractedly. ", uh-uh."

"Mmkay," he said. "Whatever makes you shine."

"So, tell me, Mr. Toldem," I said, agitated by the surreal conversation. "How the hell does my dog factor into this?"

"Well, Mr. B_____," he said, "have you ever seen his tongue? From all indications, from what we here have heard, that kid could be a superstar!"


So. That's where we stand. My dog is being considered for a career in pornography. My. Dog. If it weren't so unbelievable.... Shit. It is unbelievable. In fact, it almost seems like I'm making this whole damn thing up. It feels like a dream, to me. But, I swear on my most favorite pencil that it's the dog's honest truth. I am feeling very conflicted, right now.

On one hand, it's the chance of a lifetime, for my son. My furry son. He would be lauded. He would have all the bitches and he would live a king's life. Plus, a whole shipload of money would be headed my way--and that would be ever-so welcome, seeing as how I am a bit low in the coffers right now.

On the other hand, I would be pimping out my pride and joy, simply because he has a body part that is wholly out of proportion. Lou is Innocence. I don't want to sully him. I'd like him better unbesmirched, I think.

Toldem assured me that it would be strictly dog-on-dog action--yes, there is a market for that--and that Lou's lack of testicles would not be a problem. ("No problema," he'd said, laughing.) But, my!

I asked Lou, last night, after I had hung up with the smut-monger, what his thoughts on the matter were. I asked, too, if he--in fact--had been the "anonymous" caller. Lou had blinked at me then, and had licked his nether regions. Without. Bending. His. Neck. When he had looked back into my eyes, I believed that I could detect the gleam of pride. Was it my imagination? Who knows.

So, like I said, that's where it stands. I opened this post with a plea, of sorts. I'm not one to ask for help, save for when my back is pushed up against--hell, through--the wall. My ass is in the other room, right now. I need some advice. Could you--would you--help me, please?

Thursday, April 26, 2007


My stomach is becoming a bother, to me. I was dressing, yesterday, and I happened to glance in the full-length mirror on my closet door as I bent off the side of the bed to pull on a gray sock and I had to quickly avert my eyes. I seem to be developing "Dunlap Disease." Why?! Whence could this malady arise?! What of it that I eat ice cream and cold cuts and get not an iota of exercise?!
That should have no bearing upon my body!

I'll stop with the exclamation points! Soon! Okay! Okay!


So. I am getting fat. I am losing my impishly-girlish figure and I am maturing into an old haggard matron. My breasts are beginning to sag and my hair--the hair that I have left and if it were allowed to grow more than an eighth of an inch--is graying.

I am 34.

My God, Adam! Get off your ass and exercise! Use it or lose it, ya fuckin' maroon!

I would. Seriously, I would. I used to love playing basketball. And going for an occasional jog. But, then, two life-altering events took place. One, my joints began to desert me. Knees, ankles, wrists, elbows, shoulders, neck, penises...etcetera. How fun is it to play basketball when one knows--knows, I say!--that when one is done one will feel as though one's left knee is "all blew up like-a dat Hiroshima bomb done for-shizzled in its nizzle?"
Uh. Yeah. That's one.
Two, I became addicted to the Internet. Like a 14-year-old girl breathlessly banging open the door after school to see who had written her on her MySpace after she posted a nice new rhyming poem. Yeah. That's two. Al Gore is an asshole, all creating the Internet and everything.

All together now! "Al. Gore. Is. An. Asshole!"

All together now! "Arthritis. Is. A. Summabitch!"

I threw a Frisbee last Saturday. I threw it during a round of Frisbee Golf, oddly enough. Now, listen: I throw--and have thrown my entire life--a Frisbee lefthanded, even though I am, naturally, righthanded. But when I play disc golf, I throw my "drives" side-arm righthanded and my approach and putts lefthanded backhand. Follow? Well, regardless, I decided to shake it up a bit, this season, and throw my "drives" with my natural Frisbee-throwing hand--the left. (I don't know if this is making any sense.) Anyway, to make a long story even longer, I threw three or four practice tosses, lefthanded, and now, almost a week later, I still can't grip a can of olives, for instance, without a shooting pain encompassing my left elbow. I'm, as they say in the Docks of Boon, "all warshed up-like."

I am disgusted with my joints and I wish to trade them in, to perhaps purchase--if need be--brand new joints. Trouble is, I have no idea where the nearest Joints R Us is...and the fucking Yellow Pages are no gosh-damned help, neither-like.

By the way, happy Fried-Day. May your day be bright and flavour-filled.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Do you remember that show Moonlighting? Bruce Willis was the lead actor and Cybil Sheppard was the somewhat-ditzy rich blonde and, together, they--what?--solved murder investigations, or something?

The reason I ask is because there was also a guy on the show--kind of an ancillary character--who kind of helped them out and answered phones and looked up information. I don't know the actor's name--Curtis Armstrong--but he achieved perhaps his greatest fame as "Booger" in Revenge of the Nerds.

The greatest line ever, in a movie, at least to my my pubescent mind was, "Fuck this. Pan down. Let's see some bush." A moment later, "Gentlemen...we have bush."

Anyway, my point is this: I have never been glossed admirably when people say, "You know who you remind me of?" or "You know who you look like?" No, I don't, and, if past experiences remain true to the present, I don't want to know. I have been compared to Alan Trammell, the ex-Detroit Tiger great, and I have been told that I look like Kris Draper of the Red Wings and, long ago, in grade school, my nickname was Jerry K, because I struck out a lot in baseball and I, supposedly, reminded people of Jerry Lewis. Thanks, guys.

I think that the somewhat-simian slope of my lower jaw jogs people's perceptions. Whatever.

One time, in college at Michigan State, we were in a dorm room, drinking some beers, when a girl upon whom I'd had my eye, looked at me for a lingering moment and said, "Who do you remind me of?"

I cringed. "I, uh, I don't know," I said. "I have that sort of face where I always remind people of someone."

She sat there, stumped, and sucked at her beer bottle. "No," she said, "you look like someone. Who is it?! This is gonna kill me!" She snickered--in my eyes, at least--sexily.

I wanted to help any way possible. "Is it an actor?" I offered.

"Yeah. Actually, yeah! That guy from Moonlighting!"

Bingo. I had it. Blessed with a receding hairline and a somewhat-muscular body, I thought to myself, Bruce Willis. Hell, that was okay. A lot of women considered him sexy.

"Bruce Willis?" I asked, smiling.

"Oh God, no," she said, and set her bottle down too quickly. Beer, jostled from the abuse, surged up and exited in the form of foam.

[Wonder Twin Powers, activate, indeed.]

"No?" I said, somewhat uneasily.

"No. That other guy. I don't know his name...."

"Booger?" I muttered.

Her face lit up and she barked out a laugh. "Booger! Yes! You look just like Booger!"

Everyone gathered had laughed and had it on at my expense. I pasted a slanted grin to my mug and soon thereafter left the party. "Booger," I'd muttered to myself as I had walked down the hall. "Fucking Booger."

The reason I open myself, flay myself, in this way, to you, dear Internet, is because yesterday I actually got a decent "You know who you look like...." It happens so damned infrequently, I figured I would mark the occasion for posterity with Internet shallowness.

After the meeting ended, a woman stood up and looked at me. "I was trying to figure out all meeting who you remind me of," she said.

Uh-oh, I thought. Here we go. Who is it this time? Quasimodo? Abe Begoda? Willard Scott? I pushed my hat down over my eyes. "Oh yeah? Who?" I asked.

"Mark Wahlberg."

I sputtered a laugh. "Marky Mark?" I shook her hand. "Thanks."

"For what?" she asked.

"Never mind," said I.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


What the world needs now, is love sweet love. Come on people, now, smile on your brother, everybody get together, try to love one another right now. I love you, you love me, we're a happy family. Lend a hand, not an arm. Do unto others what you would have others do unto you. Make love, not war.
Think of unicorns and rainbows and smiling flipping rainbow trout. Watch as Paddington Bear toddles from the bright green of the forest. Watch as small yellow birds alight upon his soft brown shoulders.

Big blue eyes of neonates peer from the underbrush...wave them on. Come out, children, it is fine to play.

The sun is big and yellowish-orange and a smile splits the Sun-Man's face, turning cheeks to apples and brushing thin light hair from toddlers' temples.

There is no thought of strife and malevolence. There is no angst. There is a brotherhood of Man. We all care for each other and others' well-being is foremost in our minds.

What the world needs now is a hand. Most truly. Love.

Monday, April 16, 2007


I don't have all the details. I have heard snippets here and there, from both the radio and from co-workers and a family member. But, in all sincerity, this world often sickens me. It's becoming harder and harder to see the good in the world, to see the diffuse glow of Benevolence. The shadows grow thicker and the world suffers in encroaching darkness and encroaching madness. What else could one call it? The world is sick. It is a candidate for an impromptu lobotomy, anything that might--might--quell the ubiquitous violence.

First, we have Iraq. Even the name of the country makes me blanch. Spearheaded by an incompetent boob as our "Commander-in-Chief," the war started out as a cakewalk, was declared as a "Mission Accomplished," complete with aviator gear (live that one down, you fucking boob), and has degenerated into a bloody clash, a political and religious civil war in which the American soldiers are playing the part of the Keystone Kops, running hither and yon, taking a cue from the little Dutch Boy and jamming their fingers in the dike, only to have 10 more leaks open up. That's bad enough.

Today, 33 people (at this time) were gunned down at Virginia Tech University. I'm sure the death toll will climb, as at least a couple scores of others were wounded. How badly? Time will tell. I did a double-take at the radio when I heard the death toll. Thirty-fucking three?!?! How is that even possible?!

I haven't heard a lot of details--I have not watched the TV nor sought it online; it makes me sick--but, from what I have gleaned, apparently at around 7:15 this morning a gunman shot and killed someone in a dormitory. Maybe his girlfriend? Maybe someone vying for the "love" of his girlfriend? Maybe neither of those? I don't know, yet. But, yes, at 7:15, someone was shot.

This is where it gets baffling. Apparently, a classroom (?) was shot up two hours later. Two hours later?! What. The. Fuck. I can understand someone getting shot and then the killer going on the lam, as it were, but can someone please explain to me how in the hell that person can elude the police/security forces for two hours and then sytematically kill tens of people two hours later?! Let me take that back: I can understand the elusiveness. This is Virginia; I'm sure there are heavily-wooded areas around campus in which a shit smear could hide. But HOW THE HELL ARE KIDS STILL IN CLASS?!!! Why wouldn't the campus be shut down?!

Another thing that boggles my, admittedly, fried mind: I heard that the kids were lined up against the wall and shot, execution-style. Are you telling me that the gunman was able to kill as many people as he did--with only handguns, mind you, not a machine gun--in the style in which he did? Don't you think that if you were lined up against a wall, facing away from a nut with a gun and said nut starts blowing brains all over the dry erase board, your survival instinct might not kick in and you would RUN FOR YOUR FUCKING LIFE?!

This society sickens me, some times.

I am reminded of a Stephen King short story: "The End of the Whole Mess." In the story, the narrator's uber-intelligent younger brother discovers a veritable Nice elixir in the waters of a small New Mexican town. He mines the mineral and drops it in an active volcano (suspend disbelief for a moment) and the mountain blows and the Earth's atmosphere disperses the Niceness. It ends badly, as the people effected--though there had been a brief period of world peace and harmony--end up going slowly stupid until, ostensibly, only the narrator is still living, albeit as a worsening idiot. We need a volcano; we need some gosh-damned human compassion in this fucking world. This is getting to be a fucking mess and I really don't see that it will get a damned bit better.

One last thing. Yes, I thought of terrorism and, in fact, I am quite shocked that this has not become a modus operandi of those motherfuckers. Can you imagine the terror that would be wrought if even a hundred of those "martyrs" took it upon themselves--or were given the directive--to spread random acts of carnage at local malls and schools and hospitals? I dread that, most seriously. This country is going to turn into a police state. The science fiction writers, though wrong thus far about the flying cars, hit the bean on this one. There will be check-points at the grocery store and eight o'clock curfews and people's civil rights will continue to dwindle--as the nation baaaaaa-s--and eventually, we'll all have to ask King George the Second, as he rigs the Constitu-cartoon so that he can stay in power indefinitely, if we can please use the bathroom, if we can please wipe our asses.

Much of this world sickens me.

Excuse me whilst I go to the farthest reaches of this world--with my boy Lou. We're going to live amonst the moutain goats and the yaks. Last I heard, yaks don't go around blasting people because of lost love.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


As always, Jose Quintana wore his biceps-baring black muscle shirt as he worked the door and collected the money and ogled the club kids. Blurry Meat was the headlining act--along with The Tom Hones Band and Tratallia--and, as such, the clientele, the concert-goers, were decked out in all their Blurry Meat finest and liquored up...not a good combination.
Clutter's was a small nightclub at the corner of Fifth Street and Yasher and its general drawing power was the fact that well-off college kids could go there and drink and smoke and grind and whatever, in the anonymity of shadows and cigarette smoke--and, of course, the well drinks were sold for a buck. Definitely good for the college students' binging budgets.

Even though Quintana stood six-and-a-half feet tall and tipped the scales at 265 pounds, no respect was forthcoming from the kids. For sure, most of them were spoiled brats whose parents sent them a Franklin or two every week, but Quintana still couldn't quite wrap his mind around the fact that they viewed him with such obvious derision. Gaudy in their silk shirts and Gucci shoes and hip-hugging miniskirts and belly-baring midriffs, the kids saw him as Authority--which he was, as he was the doorman/bouncer--they saw him almost as a police officer, and so they all but thumbed their noses at him as they paid their $20 to get into the venue.

"Here," spat a face-painted coed, as she jammed a twenty into his palm, her hip-hugging jeans revealing a rose tattoo just below her navel. "I suppose you want to see my ID, too?"

"Just doin what I gotta do," mumbled Jose as he eyed the proffered card, not surprised to see that Marissa Keyes, 22, called Penobscot Avenue home. Kept isolated from the road by wide expansive green lawns, the houses on Penobscot Avenue sold for about $1.5 million and were the dwellings of lawyers and doctors, entrepreneurs and CEOs.

Lisping excitedly to her friend and all but ignoring the bouncer, Ms. Keyes pushed past Quintana and sashayed into the club, her posterior twitching with feistiness.

Mama mia, thought Jose. No sag in that firecracker. Of course, Quintana, 30 and undereducated, knew that any interaction with girls like Marissa Keyes, save for looking at IDs and collecting money, was never going to happen, was a pipe-dream, was about as likely as an Untouchable from 18th Century India unrinating in the Taj Mahal. Popular fiction may call America the land of opportunity, but he knew that for the plastic axiom that it was: Bright and polished but egg-shell fragile to the touch.

Quintana sighed heavily and turned to the next patron, a florid-faced portly fellow with bright green hair and an X-rated cartoon screen-printed on his T-shirt, the words "Blurry" and "Meat" bracketing the obscenity. Ribald though it was, the shirt had a sort of symmetrical grace to it and Quintana was duly impressed with the artist's renderings. Scores of inebriated collegians were waiting and vulgar laughter was reverberating off the brick walls and Jose Quintana fetched another sigh, knowing with certainty that it was going to be another long night, filled with drunken fights and unbreathable air and ear-shattering Shit Rock, as he had come to call it. "Talented" was about as far from Blurry Meat as the Earth was from the Sun.


Under the still of the sparkled night, at 3:16 AM, Jose Quintana drove his '98 Ford pickup truck home, paying no heed to the posted speed limits, nor giving a damn about the shadowy intentions of spider-hole police officers. Verily, he almost wished to be pulled over; in the mood for a throw-down, he would take on all comers, whether they be strapped or not.

Women, he thought. Xyloidic in their responses to his repeated, often clumsy, overtures, Jose had become more and more frustrated as the night had worn on and, eventually, had turned too readily to the booze, created a scene and, amid the tattered demonic chords of Blurry Meat, had summarily been given his walking papers, canned after almost a decade of steady bouncing.

Years would pass before Jose Quintana would admit to himself, and to another human being, that that night at Cutter's was the beginning of his slide into alcoholism and crack cocaine and pornography and Republicanism.

Zeus had looked down, had shrugged the axis of the Earth, and Jose had fallen, flailing, to the red-hot fire hole of Despair.

Friday, April 13, 2007


Are simple: Allow yourself to be asked to take a picture of something, and post it. Sylvia asked about the inside of my car. I asked her to post the inside of her refrigerator.

Here is the inside of my car. It is a 2002 Ford Focus hatchback with 80,000+ miles on it. The inside is covered with a thin film of cigarette ash and there is a trashbag hanging from the gearbox. In the back seat, there is a green kickball ball. The seats are leather and the sound system is actually quite good. I fade the sound towards the back and I tend to kick up the bass, whether it be Tupac or Kenny Wayne Sheppard or CCR. I's likey my bassey-bass.

If you want to play the game, ask me to ask you to take a picture of something and I will. Sound fun? Let's play.


Or friggatriskaidekaphobia. I was all prepared to write "or...for short," but, I counted. It turns out that both words are 23 letters in length. Yeah. Jenna Jameson thinks that's a mouthful.
They mean an irrational fear of the day of Friday the 13th. The more-easily uttered triskaidekaphobia (a 17-letter word) denotes an irrational fear of the number 13.

You want to know what I love? Well, I'll tell you anyway. I love the fact that some hotels have no 13th floor. Sure they don't. Sure. So that means, apparently, that where the 13th floor should be is now a blank void? Architect, please...the 14th becomes the 13th. It's all logical...I'd have learned that in Philosophy 101 if I'd not taken every opportunity to skip that damned class.

Jason Voorheis wears a mask on Friday the 13th. It's kind of his way of cutting loose and celebrating the madness. He's funny. I like him. He is simply misunderstood. And that sucks for him.

I have absolutely no paraskavedekatriaphobia. To me, it is just another day, one that was squelched into the mold of a movie and overprocessed 7 times too many. I feel no burden of bad luck on these days. I avoid not black cats and, instead of pinching it in my right hand and throwing it over my left shoulder to stymie the Devil, when I spill the salt, I snort it up, pretend that I'm Tony Montana. That doesn't go over well in the restaurants, but, you know? It is what it is. Say aye'low doo my leetle fren!

I'll go to work today and I'll do my job with no fear of a piano falling on my head from 6 floors above. I do not anticipate walking into an open manhole cover, nor do I have worries about getting smooshed by a bus. I'm fearless, like that.

The 13th is another day. When the 13th falls on a Friday, it is still another day, albeit one that is the gate to the weekend. Whee! Let the hair down, whee.

Now, if my lunch comes to be $6.66, then we're gonna have a problem.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


Where do you want me to start? he asks.
Why don't you start where it all starts? I suggest. Start at the beginning.

Okay, he says, and closes his eyes. He inhales deeply and, when he speaks, it is with a rush of air; it as if his words had been buried in his midsection and he needs to blow them out to face the world. His is an exercise in excavation, the syllables buried deep in the gritty dirt of Misuse. When he speaks, the words tumble and shimmy; the words flow from his mouth and drop with a splat on the table between us.

The Cooking Channel is where it's at, he begins. Onions, rutabagas, quiches, Jell-O molds. Knives--sharp with spite--mixing bowls, the creamy spin of egg whites, avocados. He looks at me, eyebrows raised, as if to see if I follow.

I nod briefly.

I started watching the Cooking Channel every day, he continues. At first I would just watch that one show with that cute little burnette thing? But, after about a week, my one half-hour show just didn't cut it. I loved watching Rachael, sure, but I needed more, you know? So I started watching while I ate and then the show just after my meal. I knew that I might be getting in over my head, but it just didn't seem to matter, you know? He looks at me; he appeals to my magnanimity.

I nod briefly and gesture with my index finger. Roll it. Keep it going.

He eyes the micro-recorder on the table and shrugs and cracks his knuckles and opens his mouth, lets the words tumble: I had an uncle who was an alcoholic. Big surprise, huh? It's a cliche, almost: the drunk uncle. He died--chirrosis. But, he was my uncle and, yeah, he was a drunk. His drink was rum and Coke. I think that he liked the spiced stuff. Whatever. So I know addiction. My Dad and my Mom smoked and my sister smoked unfiltered Pall Malls for 20 years before she quit. She's all yellow and shit, now. So, addiction is what I know and I knew that I was getting addicted, but I didn't give a damn. First it was that Rachael show and then a show while I ate my dinner--usually shitty frozen dinners; the irony, eh?--but then I had to watch the show after my dinner and then, shit, then it was constant. I was watching that damned food channel every hour of the day, 'cept for when I was sleeping and when I was at work. And then work began to suffer.

I raise my eyebrows. I roll my finger.

He chuckles a little self-consciously. I know, I know, he says. Missing work because of an addiction to food shows. But, it is what it is. I couldn't tear away. I started to use sick days and vacation days and when I was at work, my bosses and my co-workers would kinda give a wide berth and that sideways glance, you know? That look that says, I don't know about you, dude. Something's up. Just look the other way when you come in here with your AK, looking to settle the score or shoot up the joint. That look. I'd lost their trust; I can't say that I blamed them for thinking those thoughts. When I was at work, instead of working the press the way I used to, I'd be standing there, daydreaming about lemon meringue pie or stuffed crawdaddies, or something. It was dangerous, is what it was. Those presses have about 3000 pounds coming down to flatten those sheets...I was daydreaming and it is actually a wonder that I didn't smoosh anybody. And all because I needed my Cooking Channel fix. He trails off and studies the table.

I prod; I poke. There is much more in there, I know. But I need him to tell it to me. So...tell me about when you started to voice your obsessions at work.

He laughs without mirth. Yeah. Voice my obsessions. I like that. That's good. Well, shit, when I started to babble, that's when it all went downhill. And fast. He leans back in his chair--the front two legs of the plastic chair are off the floor--and he laces his hands behind his head. He stares at a spot above my head, bores a hole through the wall.

I wait for him; I sip some of my cold bitter coffee and I wait for him.

Fuck it, he murmurs, and with a bang, his chair is back flat on the floor and his hands are folded on the table and the holes his eyes are boring, now, are directly into my own. I didn't mean for it to happen this way, he says. Maybe I did. He shrugs unself-consciously. I didn't start out wanting anybody to get hurt. I just got...I got carried away. I got took.

Tell me about the birthday cake, I say.

His eyes light up and then the brilliance fades. Yeah. The birthday cake. Huh. They make it look so easy on the TV, you know? Especially that Rachael Ray bitch. She's all laughing and jiving and cracking jokes and shit.... Anyway, my productivity at work had been going to shit. At work, we have this quota that we have to meet each day? 75 units?

I nod.

Well, I used to be able to look cross-eyed at the presses and get 75. Some days, shit, some days I'd have 75 before lunch. Once the Cooking Channel got its claws in me, though? Oh boy, once the Cooking Channel got ahold of me, I was lucky to get 45, 50, for the day. My supers were getting pissed at me, I'll tell you. And--he looks embarrassed, here--and, my God, my mouth. I couldn't stop talking about food! I'd be reciting the recipe of potatoes au gratin to Lomis, or going on and on about the virtues of spinach salads to Ruthie, instead of doing my job. Co-workers were getting pissed at me. They started calling me Betty Boy and Floppin Chop and, the names got bad. But. I couldn't help it! I needed to talk about my food lust. I had to! Otherwise, I would've went nuts. He looks around the room, takes in the industrial green walls and barred window glass, and barks a quick laugh. Yeah. Go insane. Sure. I've gone, ain't I?

I say nothing; I make a show of jotting down an important note on my chart. I look up and he is staring at that spot above my head again.

The cake is where I went wrong. I should have used the Gold Medal flour instead of the shit brand that I used. It was Ruthie's birthday; she was 52, or something. God damn, she looked 72. Saggy, wrinkled, dark eyes...back fat...her eyes were dead, man. I actually wanted to cheer her up, on her birthday. So I baked a fucking cake. His eyes widen. That cake was supposed to be the golden lamb, man! It was supposed to bring me back into the fold! I slaved over that fucking cake. He lowers his voice. And nobody gave a good god damn. Nobody gave a shit, man.

I nod with commiseration.

But, do you see what I mean, Doctor? I wanted to please them. I wanted to get back with them. Get in their good graces. The name-calling hurt me, sure, but I didn't want to hurt them. Ricky Theron didn't want to hurt them. It was the other part of Ricky that wanted to...well, you know.

I nod.

So I--he--put arsenic in the batter. Where he got it, I don't know. It's kinda like a blank spot in the memory, you know?

A fugue state? I offer.

Sure, he says. Whatever. I just know that I had no intention of baking a fucking chocolate cake laced with poison. Arsenic. Arsenic! Isn't that some Agatha Christie shit?

I shake my head, shrug. It's a common-enough poison, I guess, I say, if one knows where to look.

Nobody from my shift ate the cake, he continues. Nobody. They just looked at it and laughed and jibed me with Betty Crocker and Flour Boy. It was a resounding failure. Is that what people say, Doctor? Resounding failure?

Usually people say either "resounding success" or "dismal failure," I say. But it really doesn't matter, Ricky, I knew what you meant.

Okay, he says, so no one from my shift eats the cake and I'm--he, me, whatever--we're thinking to myself, take the cake and throw it away and get control of yourself and get some help and do it right-quick. Oh, but shit, Doc, I think it had went too far, man. I--we--wanted to see someone eat that cake. They make eating the food look so damned fun on the TV, you know?

I don't nod. I wait.

Some guy from the third shift ended up eating two pieces of the cake. I don't even know who he is...was...still don't actually. Some Harold Kootz guy? Harvey? Don't know. Yeah. Two pieces. We'd loaded that fucking cake with the A-Bomb, man. Two bites would have been enough to hurt someone. Maybe even kill. I don't know, Doctor, I'm all fucked up in the head. I maybe wanted to kill? I maybe wanted to make the others feel the hurt that I felt, feel? I didn't even know this guy, though. And I heard that he's got, like, two kids and another on the way and he only took that shift so that he could get the Overnight Premium and I feel like a fucking killer and I guess that I am but I never wanted--or did I?--it to go down like this, man. I didn't. He studies his hands, clasped on the tabletop.

I snap off the recorder. I'll be back, I say, folding my glasses and rising from the chair. I'll be back; just take it easy while I'm gone and I'll be back with some nice cold water for you, okay?

His eyes are over my head again, looking at the interdepartmental TV monitor. Do you guys, like, get cable on that? Emeril is gonna be on soon.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


Kindness is not dead. Though we live in a world of nuclear capabilities and sailors are captured and nation-states posture at the drop of a hat and every time one looks at the news, one sees yet another story of sucide bombers at an Iraqi marketplace, kindness is not dead.
Though our great country is "led" by an ignorant chimpanzee and his vitriolic henchmen and -women, kindness is still sometimes apparent, albeit as unforeseen as a rose poking out of the cracked cement of a grafitti-besmirched metropolis.

Though the weather outside, here in Michigan, matches the tone and/or the future of the country--bleak and gray and cold, heartless--sometimes one is surprised by the kindness of strangers.

Random acts of kindness--pass them on.

I was driving down the highway, yesterday, after a meeting, and I was tooling along at my usual 80-miles-per-hour clip and, suddenly, my car went "Ka-LUNK! LUNK!"

I asked Wendy what the hell was that and she said that she didn't know and I continued on for about 50 feet until it was undeniably apparent that I'd hit something in the road and blown my front right tire. I was two lanes over from the right shoulder and there was little traffic, so, luckily, it was somewhat easy to slap on the hazard lights and angle over to the safe-zone. I got over to the slow lane and pulled onto the shoulder, just underneath the viaduct. I cut no one off, though some fucking tool felt it was his or her obligation to lay on the horn as he or she passed at 75 miles-per-hour.

Wendy said, "Oh, Adam."

I said that I guessed I'd hit something and I got out, careful to look in the side mirror before I did. (The day was turning to night and the roads were slick and it is a holiday weekend and I knew that some imbibers could be on the first, kids.) I got out and ambled over to the passenger side of the car. The front right tire was shredded. Whatever I had hit had done its damage posthaste, and with an evil gleam in its eye.

I shrugged. Time to brush up on my tire-changing skillz. No biggie.

I wandered to the back of the Focus and popped the trunk. Listen: I just moved. That's my excuse, see? My trunk was (and is) filled with all sorts of shit. Just...shit. Basketballs, Frisbees, empty windshield wiper fluid bottles, slingshots, a bike helmet, firewood, a racketball racket, a half-full bottle of Armor-All...a spare tire (thank God) but no tire iron (help me, God).

I was fucked.

To make matters worse, Wendy and I were anxious to get home to play some checkers and she had only a limited amount of time...and but yet. I had no tire iron. I looked blankly at the wheel and internally cursed myself for misplacing said tire iron.

With all the shit from the trunk scattered on the shoulder behind the car (I wanted to make it perfectly apparent to all motorists to slow the fuck down and drive with caution.) I climbed into the car and began to scrummage through the glove compartment for a phone number that I could call. I have roadside assistance through my insurance carrier and then was as good a time as any to put them to the test. Problem was, I was wholly unorganized. The only phone number that I could find was a number that would connect me to the payments department. I called that, assuming that they could direct me to where I had to go.

Having no policy number available to give to them, the process bogged down and, ten minutes later, I was still on hold (high call volume), waiting for them to patch me through.

As I waited on the phone, I glanced in my rearview mirror and I saw a Jeep Cherokee slowing down behind me on the shoulder, its hazard lights flashing. I stayed on the phone for a beat longer and, seeing the man climbing out of the driver's side door, snapped the phone shut.

I scanned the highway for safety and got out and walked over to the guy.

It turned out that the guy's name was Shannon and he and his girlfriend had been driving from Waterford (like us) down I-75 to around 10 Mile and Stephenson (like us). It turned out that he'd grown up right across the street from where I have played Frisbee golf my whole life and it also turned out that he is a master mechanic. They'd driven past us and taken an exit ramp a mile or two down the road and had circled back to see if they could help. (By the way, all that shit in the trunk? It had helped. The guy had seen it scattered behind the car and said to his girlfriend that it looked like we needed some help. We did.)

He had only a tire iron designed specifically for Jeeps but--amazing--it turned out that it fit perfectly on my Ford Focus's nuts. The guy was like a NASCAR pit crew chief. Wham-bam-boom--the shredded tire was changed and the slightly-flat doughnut was in its place.

I offered him money; I had to. I know that, when I help someone, the simple act of kindness is good enough for me (all those good brain chemicals!), but I still had to at least offer the guy some kaish.

He wouldn't hear of it. Was almost offended that I had offered. "Pay it forward," he said. "I'm not a Jesus freak--but I do believe in Him and God--"

"So do I," I said.

"--and good things happen to good people. Just pay it forward. You ever see that movie? My girl and I just saw it last weekend."

I admitted that I had not--little Haley Joel kinda makes my skin crawl, for some reason...though Helen Hunt turns me on, for some reason--but I told Shannon that I was familiar with it. "I know," I said, "this world needs a hell of a lot more kindness. How about a good handshake, then?" I asked, feeling like a tool.
We shook hands and he and his girlfriend took off and Wendy and I were on our way. Total time on the shoulder: 20 minutes.

I had never lost my cool; I'd never started swearing and throwing things. It'd been what it'd been. A flat tire. Nothing to get bent out of shape about. Shit happens. And it's good to see that good people are still out there and are willing to help.

Next purchase? A tire iron.

Saturday, April 07, 2007


Blah. Fucking blah. Blah-fucking. Blah. Motherfucking shitting blah. To where did my Muse go? Oh. Wait. I have an idea. One look out the window reveals to me the quandary: The fucking Muse froze to death. She's huddled, dead as a doorknob, in a nook of an old oak tree, her feathery wings folded about her and a somewhat peaceful countenance to her blue-cast face.
Sorry, Miss Muse. I have been neglecting you and so you felt the need to test the waters elsewhere. I should have warned you that it's April 7th, yet it is 30 FUCKING DEGREES!

I am really not one to bitch and moan about the weather--albeit this is the second post that I have written on Michigan's insane weather machinations--but, come on! This is shit.

Highs in the 30s? Are. You. Fucking. Kidding. Me.

The crap-ass weather is curdling my creativity. Right now, in my somewhat-warped brain, I can see the Shadowy Gas Man, sidling out of the bar, and I can see Porky Pig, with a maniacal gleam in his eyes, as he does the Charleston down Sundown Street. What the fuck?

The gas man turns to Porky and says, "Where'd you get those tap shoes?"

Porky pauses in mid-prance. (Oddly enough, he has misplaced his stutter.) "They're not tap shoes. Their my hooves, you crazy man, you." He sets his hoof down, squares himself to the gas man.

The gas man puffs out his chest. "Who you callin' crazy, you fat piece of porcine shit?"

Roger Rabbit slides in as moderator and does his best tennis fan head-weave.

"'Porcine shit?!' I tell ya, buddy, these fists are deadly weapons. You might want to rethink your strategy, here."

"Who's gonna make me? You and what fucking army, Pig-Boy?"

Roger Rabbit melts and reappears over Porky's fat right shoulder. "Tell 'im his mother wears Army boots. Yeah! Tell 'im that!"

Porky advances on the gas man, his shiny black hooves somehow curled into fists. "Your mama wears Army boots!"

Roger Rabbit puddles up to the gas man's left ear. "The Porkster's talkin' some shit, ain't he? You gonna take that?"

The gas man sucks in his gut and balls his fists.

Roger Rabbit pulls a referee's chair from a manhole and slaps some sunglasses onto his face and settles back to enjoy the action.

Face-to-face, Porky and the gas man stand, noses nearly touching. To an outside observer, the scene brings remembrances of Seuss's stroy in which the two creatures walk in each other's paths and neither moves as citiescapes and highways bloom around them.

"Take it back," says the gas man. His breath--beer and egg salad sandwiches--is rotten as it blows into Porky's upturned nostrils.

"Hey, I'm not taking shi-shi-shi--anything--back, you flabby excuse for a utility wor-wor-wor-wor--employee." Porky pauses, horrified, as he realizes that his stutter is reasserting itself. He backs off a pace and the gas man follows.

"Scared?" he asks, cracking his knuckles.

"N-N-N-N--uh-uh," says Porky, his black eyes belying the obvious.

From the high chair, Roger Rabbit observes the confrontation, his eyes wide with a voyeuristic avidity. His breath has quickened and spittle hangs, unnoticed, from his lower whiskers. "Hit 'im, gas man! Hit 'im! P-p-p-p-pluuuuu-leeeeeeezzzzee!"

The gas man feints with his left and swings from the heels with his right fist. Porky is wholly unprepared. The gas man's huge right fist slams into Porky's snout, mashing pink skin 'gainst yellowed incisors...the outcome is instantaneous. Porky falls to the cotton candy roadside. Bright red blood oozes from his nostrils and right velvet ear. It pools next to his fat pink cheek. His eyes are open, unseeing.

"Is he? Is he?--" The instigatory rabbit cannot finish his sentence. His previous excitement is gone, replaced with a sorrowful wavering voice.

"Dead?" asks the gas man, rubbing his right fist. "Well, he sure ain't breathing, so I guess that means something, eh?" He casts wary glances down the candied boulevard, jams his hands in his pockets. "I, uh, I gotta be going. Take care." He hawks up a loogey and spits it into the dark blood near the dead pig's head; it rests atop the mess, green offset by red--almost Christmas-y, in a way.

"You're leaving?!" asks Roger Rabbit. "But what about the evidence?"

The gas man shrugs. "Hey, you were all for it, a minute ago. Happy Easter, Bouncy Boy." The gas man sets off in the direction of the setting sun and, within minutes, is gone, over the horizon.

Roger sits in the chair, his eyes growing more furtive by the second, and he considers his options. "What do I do? Sure, the pig was a pretty good guy and, sure, I kinda started it, but what do I do? If I go to the police, my goose is cooked--" He pulls a cooked goose from his satchel, eyes it. "--but if I just leave the pig, as is, will I be able to live with my conscience?"

He sits silently for a moment.
His eyes narrow, become slits. Looks east. Looks west. Looks up. Looks down. Nods. He tosses the cooked goose at the dead cartoon pig, looks around and he makes a show of "washing his hands" of the matter. Little yellow birds flutter from his white-gloved hands.

He leaps from the high chair and lands, with a splat, on the taffy streets. Whim-bam-boom: The chair is folded and put in his pocket. "Rest in peace, El Porko. O! That I knew you better!"

With a flash, he is gone, through the facade of an Old-West general store, his silhouette a glaring reminder of his actions/inactions.

The sun sets on the movie set, but this pig ain't acting. This pig is dead. Stone. Cold. Dead. From the purpling sky, the vultures swoop. They land, fluff their feathers and eye the dead cartoon pig.

"So...whaddya wanna do?" asks one.

"I don't know," answers another, with a shrug. "Whaddyou wanna do?"

"Let's eat."

They fall to the carrion.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


Okay. So I have a dog. His name is Lou. I think we've been over this before? Well, this bears repeating: I have a dog; his name is Lou; he lends his name to my blog; and I love him, too. But. A big "but." Cujo, he ain't.
And that may surprise some people, seeing as how he is a 50-50 splice of Boxer and Pit Bull. I reckon people are scared of both breeds of dog, let alone a hybrid version o' da Canine Killah. (I know for a fact that my neighbor is scared of Lou; but that was a story for a different day.)

Today, I wish to write about my fearsome Louie, who, at this moment, is sprawled out on the couch, napping, his paws crossed daintily on the armrest before him, his tail curled 'round his rump.

I got home from work at around 5:00 today, and I decided to go in the front door instead of the side door like I usually do. Here is the layout of my home: You walk in the front door, into the living room. Ten paces ahead is a hallway, with a door leading to the attic on the east side and the hallway leading to the bedroom and back room and bathroom to the west. The door straight ahead seperates the kitchen and the stairs to the basement from the rest of the house. I keep this door closed when I'm at work, thus ensuring that Lou not have free range of the house whereupon he could, say, tear a hole in my pillows or, perhaps, eat the couch. Lou has plenty of room in the kitchen-slash-dining room and he has his food and his water and the floors are much easier to clean in the case of an "accident."

I decided to fuck with him, to see just how much of a guard dog he is.

I slowly opened the door to the kitchen--just a crack, mind you--and peered around the edge of the door to see where Lou was. He was in the middle of the kitchen looking quizzically at me, in the way that Boxers have mastered. I eased the door shut. Waited a few beats. I opened the door--again, just a crack--and I peered, again, emotionlessly and silently at Lou as he stared back at me. I closed the door slowly. Waited a few beats. This time, when I opened the door and did my Zombie Adam impression, Lou voiced his displeasure with a low growl. I almost opened my mouth and said, "You growling at me?" but I stayed silent; I wanted to see what would happen. I did this open door-stare-close door routine a couple more times and each time I opened the door anew Lou's growls grew louder and more animated.

This was getting interesting. Did he not smell the Adam-ness of me? Was my silence disturbing to him? Did he think me an intruder, an interloper? A hobo? A transient?

I decided to push the envelope.

I opened the door fully this time. But slowly. Oh so slowly. (I felt a bit like the narrator in Poe's "A Tell-Tale Heart.") I never broke eye-contact with Lou and I never said a word. Hell, I barely breathed. The garbage can was in the way of the door, but I payed it no heed. Slowly the door opened on its hinges and so the trash (empty) toppled over into the kitchen.

Lou leapt back, startled. His unease gave way to barking, deep and loud and punctuated with throaty growls. I shambled in to the room, hunched over like Quasimodo. My mouth was tight, my eyes were expressionless (I hoped) and my left arm dangled at my side. I then decided to pretend that I'd been shot and so I dropped to the kitchen floor like a sackful of flounder.

Lou scrabbled back to the far wall, near the TV, and started to howl. Howl and bark. Bark and growl. Kid was freaked out. I maintained my silence as I began to soldier stomach-crawl towards Louie. I couldn't see him completely, as the dining room table slightly obstructed the view, but I could see how he began to claw at the far wall as his barks echoed in the sparsely-furnished room. He was trying to climb the wall, like a cat from Looney Toons.

His barking never ceased; hell, he barely looked at me as I crawled towards him. Growls and barks. I began to wonder if Lou might, in fact, bite me. No way, right? He knows me, for crying out loud. He can at least smell me, right? I got to within a few feet of the dog and decided that enough was enough. I called it off. Uncle.

"Hey, Louie!" I cooed. "What's up, kid?!" I jumped to my feet and Lou bounced over, his hindquarters waggling furiously and his tongue dangling like a pink tail. I went to pat him on his head and he shied away and his ears flattened against his skull. "C'mon, Lou! Go outside?!"

We went outside and Lou promptly dropped a load and sprinkled some lemonade. I made some crack about having literally scared the shit out of him and we went back inside, he somewhat uncertainly. I discovered shortly why he'd been trepidatious to go back in: Poor kid had squirted out a bit of Yoor-Rhyne at a couple of spots on the dining room carpet. I guess that I had scared him (or freaked him out) more than I'd thought.

The Yoor-Rhyne? Completely my fault. I cleaned it up without admonishment. Now, if this story doesn't put me in the running for "Owner of the Year," nothing will!


Ancillary: In a way, I can understand completely what Lou had been feeling. My sister Alexis used to, back in the day, when we'd all been young and goofy and impressionable, insist to me that she wasn't Alexis. Verily, she was Frank, a ghost who kicked it at our house, considered our homestead his crib. Intellectually, I knew that she was full of shit. But--damn!--she was convincing! Her eyes lost her Alexis-ness and became really spooky. "Where's Alexis?" I would ask her, kind of playing along. Her voice would lose its little girl shrillness, become an octave deeper. "Alexis died," she'd answer. "I'm Frank. I'll be here forever and ever. And ever. She's never comin' back." When she finally broke the act, I was relieved and somewhat pissed...but mostly relieved.

Sorry, Lou. :o(