Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Swimming for the shallows.

I really should have been paying attention to the signs. There were, after all, quite a few that offered up fair warning of just exactly what it was I was getting myself into. There was, for instance, the sign that declared “Cattle Guard” and was followed by a noticeable rumbling as I passed over some metal grate in the roadway. The next proclaimed “Livestock at Large. Next 17 Mi.” and then finally there was the “Open Range”. All which, in retrospect, were quite clear and straightforward indications that things had definite potential to go awry.

No one has ever accused me of being particularly astute. I’m beginning to realize that there is a reason why.

So, rather road weary and in absolutely no mood to deal with anything resembling work we pulled into the nearest saloon.

They sat grazing at the table nearest the pool table. Handfuls of chili cheese fries being consumed at an alarming rate, and judging from the heffer sized platter they were feeding from I have no doubt that four stomachs were being filled. They looked up and blinked as we entered the establishment and then proceeded to stare, never once pausing in their rapid, beastial consumption.

It was rather unnerving to be fixed in the gaze of eyes so dark, empty, and soulless. It makes you shiver. At that moment I felt like the last remaining chili cheese fry. Alone in the midst of a slimy, sludge-like residue just waiting for someone to breakdown and devour me.

I racked. S. broke. And we proceeded to play the game, ever leery of looking up lest we once again become fixed in those deeply disturbing eyes. All was seemingly going well until a deep, throaty voice croaked up from behind me, “Mind if we play you next?”

I paused in mid-shot and glanced up at S. It was quite clear from the look of horror on S’s face that the den mother of all garishly made-up obese cougars had been the one to make the inquiry.

“Sure, go ahead.” I heard him say. Poor bastard. Never had a chance. He hadn’t seen it coming and was sufficiently confounded that he was unable to concoct a suitable excuse. I cleverly remained focused on my shot and avoided making eye contact.

At the end of our game an eerie shadow fell across the table. I looked up. Again I should have known better. The den mother smiled revealing a well stained set of teeth complete with coagulated cheese and chili chunks stuck to her chin.

I never shoot terribly well while my stomach is recoiling in shock and disbelief, but we managed to finish off the game. A polite handshake and I thought we had escaped the ordeal unscathed. (When the hell did I become so bloody naïve…)

Four tequila shooters arrived at the table and the den mother and her protégé stood up to offer a toast to the winners. I solemnly tipped back the glass and offered a half-hearted thank you. (Dumbass). Den mother leaned forward at that moment and uttered softly “If I get too drunk you won’t try and take advantage of me will you?” Just in case that was a wee bit too subtle she offered up an exaggerated wink.

A few responses leapt to mind. All off them far too rude or offensive to actually be used. Something along the lines of “I came here to drown my sorrows and wallow in self pity, not wallow with the pigs” almost slipped out. Thankfully I hadn’t consumed enough to loosen my tongue that much. Instead it came out as “Of course not ma’am. I wouldn’t think of it.”

Yip, that went over just about as well. Apparently she doesn’t take kindly to rejection, or being called ma’am. Still, in the grand scheme of things, I wasn’t about to worry too much over spilled milk.


The doors open and out of the light steps Bonnie Botox and her friend Country Connie. They bounced indoors and paraded directly to the jukebox. No Doubt started playing over the speakers. Something about spiderwebs. Finally, beer in hand they sidled up towards the pool table.

“Can we play?”

S. had that look in his eye and Den mother hadn’t taken her eyes off Bonnie since she entered. I’m pretty sure her claws scratched the table. I could see it coming. It reeked of trouble.

“Sure. Go ahead.” I heard from behind me. I turned and looked. S. handed me the pool cue and headed to the bar. He returned with four more shooters and four more beers.

I shook my head and broke.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Full Circle Loathing

Close to a year ago I made my first foray into the cyberscape somewhat intrigued by the possibilities presented by an open and largely anonymous forum for the free exchange of ideas. It seemed the perfect diversion for one who spends the majority of his time isolated from the rest of humanity and kept me from losing my mind on more the one occasion. It has helped break the monotony of an otherwise completely mundane and uneventful day. When you are stuck for fourteen hours a day in front of a computer it is a welcome respite to take a slight break every hour or so and see what has been happening elsewhere on the planet. For a while I feared it was developing into some twisted form of addiction, but thankfully I was given an alternative explanation when someone declared “It’s nice you have a hobby.” Indeed. I’m quite content to consider it a hobby, regardless of how compulsive, rather than an addiction. It doesn’t hurt that I long ago mastered the art of denial.

The fact that a few people I actually know read this has not, for the most part, inhibited my expression of views or opinions, although it has, upon occasion, tempered them slightly. I have periodically endured a small amount of derision and disappointment, but they are an understanding group which has yet to be completely offended by anything I’ve said (Which really just makes me want to try harder…). At worst they come to the conclusion that I am “dark”, or “a bit of a downer”, or “sooooo goth.”

Yeah. Whatever.

I suppose it was only a matter of time before acquaintances and associates stumbled upon my little haven on the internet - The type that assume from one simple post that I am, without a doubt, a venal and iniquitous bastard. It’s almost as though I had sprouted fur and fangs and began to growl. I have become the harbinger of doom. Bah. I could only wish.

I have, myself, stumbled across web logs created by people I know. I recall having thought to myself “Oh my, who knew?” Not once have I ever had the inclination to dismiss everything I knew about that person and came to the conclusion that it was a valid representation of who they are.

Recently I received a wee bit of correspondence from an acquaintance which had, as far as I was able to tell, diagnosed me as “…maladjusted with anti-social tendencies…”

Well, I must admit to feeling a small amount of unhappiness about that. Personally I feel perfectly well adjusted. I am, should the situation require it, able to act with an amazing amount of propriety and politeness. Here; however, I’ve just never felt the need. And it is doubtful I ever will, unless, perhaps, it is to make a brief point.

It had not really occurred to me that perhaps this strange little phenomenon had occurred to others until a few began to post similar sentiments about such things. It strange really – Those who know you best accept it, those who know you not at all either accept it or move on, yet those who have only a fleeting understanding of you decide it is a personally explicit exhibit.

Now I must admit that I am guilty of misconstruing the point, interpreting incorrectly, or finding the meaning completely incomprehensible. I have made comments when I have failed to properly understand what it was I just read and subsequently felt like an ass for it. Some I feel the need to comment on whenever they offer up new content, others I am simply content to read in a purely voyeuristic context. Regardless, I have never assumed that from what I read I can form a realistic picture of the person in question.

It is, in my own most humble opinion, an entirely selective process. The writer chooses what to reveal, how to reveal it, when, and why. It is entirely possible that there was a point behind whatever they wanted (or needed) to divulge that you are never going to fully comprehend. Nor were you likely intended to.


The Loathing began one night at home. It stuck without warning as it is often wont to do. It started slowly – First the observation of some slothful behemoth in a peacock blue t-shirt. No reason for it, but instantly I took to despising the individual wearing it. A few moments later I noticed a drunken trollop wearing the same colour. Yet a few moments later yet another victim of the same peacock blue. Zero logical explanation for deep disdain I felt for all of them. An instinctual reaction, much like a dog who simply growls at a person for no apparent reason.

I know it was wrong, yet I couldn’t help myself. So, while I refrain from making judgements based on what a person may write, apparently I am unable to keep from judging based upon the colour of shirt they choose to wear. Somehow it seems so very wrong.

Usually such feelings fade quickly and I revert back to my normally kind, considerate, generous, caring, understanding, and compassionate self. This time it continued to grow and fester at an alarming rate. No longer was I content simply to despise people based on peacock blue, I have since come to loathe people based on their posture, speech patterns, idiosyncratic mannerisms, hair style, penmanship or lack thereof, choice of music, and organizational skills. Pretty much everyone is now a source of annoyance in some way or another. I think the feelings are only heightened by the rat trap motel in which I find myself imprisoned, so hopefully with a change in accommodations I can alter my perceptions of the rest of the world.

Oddly I’ve now returned to the place where it all began. Another stop across from “The Last Watering Hole” which, much to my dismay, has since changed its name, yet still has the same blinking Budweiser sign hanging in the window. Perhaps letting loose and once again succumbing to temptation can assist in curing this malady of malevolence?

I'm quite certain it can't possibly hurt.

Here be a few visuals to help you understand my current dismay.... All exactly as it was when I checked in.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Did someone say a Play?

A Dive Bar. A Neon Sign.


CD: (Seemingly perturbed) Aren't they already sniveling little twits? I mean, I don't get one teenager who walks into my store without some kind of rebel suburban attitude and a penchant for wanting to engage me in some kind of drama so they will have something to think about for the rest of the day. This is definitely going too far. If they're already all brats, just imagine what they'll be like now.

Pozzo: Yes yes. You have been correct. So that I ask myself is there anything I can do in my turn for these honest fellows who are having such a dull, dull time.

Vex: (Face down on the table. Muffled) Buy a round Bozzo. It will help ease the pain.

Sigurd: (Thoughtfully watching smoke rise from his pipe) Drinking makes people interesting. And if you drink enough even the most silly conversation can seem important. Just the other day I was having a drink and arguing the drawbacks of baseball's OPS rating as if it were some infinite truth.

SB: I remember playing the Vat last year. A most excellent bar staff -- they insisted on shoveling Chartreuce down our throats until we thought the entire audience was naked. (Leans back and smiles widely)

Sheleena: Hmmmm, sounds deceivingly kinky. (Leans back and smiles widely)

Ago-go: (Looks up from her book) I’m just waiting to be screwed over.

Vlad: Ah Gogo, don’t go on like that. Tomorrow everything will be better.

Colonialave: (Nodding knowingly) I know this emotion completely. You're lonely and yet - you feel as if you shouldn't be. It sparks anger and uncontrolled anxiety.

ESB: My lexicon has been leaking. (Orders another beer)

Est: Everything Oozes.

Pozzo: That’s how it is on this bitch of an earth.

Ros: (Oddly insightful) Generally speaking things have gone about as far as they can possibly go when things have gotten about as bad as they can reasonably get.

Hermes: (Slams back a red bull and vodka. Reaches for the last piece of sushi) Ack! My head is about to explode like the strong warrior from Big Trouble in Little China.

Vex: (Peers up looking rather vexed) I hate having to clean up the primordial bits. (Pauses momentarily lost in a daze) Hot enough for you?

Hermes: Frivolous banter about the fucking weather... Idle idiots who worship idols forever engaged in pissing matches and fruitless comparisons of dick sizes.

Vex: (Notices some anonymous stranger sneaking out the door) Ha ha. Loser.

CD: … Loser? Aren't you the one who smokes crack?

SB: Though I can't argue that crack may be playing a substantial role in the slow but steady retardation of the brain -- I wouldn't presume it is the culprit in this case. (Stops to consume an abundance of Chartreuse shooters that have inexplicably arrived at the table)

SB: (He continues with a shrug) Then again, this is only a theory. Autopsy results to follow.

Sheleena: (Sipping on bong water and apparently scribbling a map on a napkin murmurs almost to herself) Moral fiber? Who needs moral fiber? Hedonism is always the path of enlightenment.

Xtine: (Drains a shot of tequila and nods in understanding) I have been struggling with that problem for a while now. The more people I meet in this world the more I wonder "why bother?" The greatest frustration is it would take only the smallest effort, exerted on a grand scale, to make infinite changes. Ego-centrism is the hottest fad since sliced bread. The mantra "if you can't beat em join em" had once been twisted and perverted into "If you can't beat em, beat em with a stick." But today we "just ignore, and ostracize them till their voices can't be heard"I miss solidarity.

(The room falls silent as all eyes turn to her)

Xtine: (Slightly uncomfortable with the sudden attention) And I'm not drunk right now, if that helps.

CD: True wisdom is recognizing you know nothing. (Angrily hurls a lipstick stained cup across the room. Hits an anonymous lurker)

Dark Muse: I feel like a kindergarden kid reading this… I'm lost after the first paragraph

Hermes: Isn't it vanity that gets out of bed every morning? The pursuit of life, liberty, and property? It's the American dream, baby, as sad as it may seem, keeping up with the Joneses, pursuing that elusive dream of owning a benz, a sizable chunk or real estate, and a lovely wife with blond hair and large, tanned, fake breasts?

Mr. Fish: OK, so that reminds me of "An Essay on the Principle of Population" by Malthus. I have mixed feelings about advocating an end to reproduction. Some parts of the world are seriously *under-populated*. Without immigration, Canada would experience a population decline. It is an interesting idea, but economically, it would lead to disaster. I am not a conservative: I am as far left as you can get, but who will pay your pension and other social benefits?

LingLing: I’ve got a friend who was really depressed and getting off the subway in NYC en route to work. This homeless woman shuffles by with a cart, and says to her, "Honey, you really should wear a belt with that."

Anonymous: Oh look! A charnel-house!

Tim: (Looks up from his comic book in confusion) I thought this was White Castle.

Polonius: Though this be madness, yet there is method in it.

Sheleena: (Whispers to no one in particular) We are so subversive.

Ros: Stark raving sane.

Vex: (Face down on the table. Muffled) That’s debatable.

Tim: (Dejected after realizing it most definitely is not White Castle) I completely feel like I've died inside. Marvelous.

Andi: My unborn twin is trying to gnaw its way out of the back of my head.

Vex: (Face down on the table. Muffled) Buy a round. It will help ease the pain.

Guil: Foul! No repetitions.

Sar: You don't ask for much, do you?

Dena (Thoughtfully searching the sky for meaningful cloud formations): Four words. Never going to happen.

Ros: Eternity is a terrible thought. I mean, where’s it going to end?

Xtine: (Drains another shot of tequila) Whoa. I see dead people.

Vex: (Lifts his head and smiles) Welcome to hell. There are few of them here.

Aydreeyin: (Points up to the neon sign) The neon calls again. Green and purplish hells. And I'm slightly comfortable with it.

Sartre: Hell is other people.

SB: I don't believe we've met, what's your disco filled treasure treat?

Lee L.: O bloody hell.

McBickle: (Happy that another round has finally arrived at the table complete with a bowl of chips. Quits sharpening her box of pencils) So timely. Smidge is such a great word. And, geez, I love dips. And tequila.

Mr. Fish: (Glares at Vex) You should have put it in the recycling bin.

Vex: You’re probably right. (Succumbs to the inevitable and motions for another round of drinks)

Ros: We could go.

Guil: Where?

Est: Well, shall we go?

McBickle: (Brandishes a sharpened pencil in a menacing manner) Really, Please go now.

Vlad: Yes, let’s go.

Ros: Couldn’t we just stay put? I mean no one is going to come on and drag us off.

(Men in white coats arrive to drag us off)

.White: (Smugly) Well, that solves that.

Exeunt Omnes.

*** My deepest and most heartfelt apologies to Beckett and Stoppard***

Saturday, August 13, 2005


Returning home has always managed to stir up a wide range of emotions. For years it was a destination of solace and comfort. A much welcomed respite from the anxiety and excitement created from exploring new and varied locations and dealing entirely with the unexpected. A return to a place where people know and understand you, and you them, allowed, for at least a brief moment, the body and mind to relax.

I don’t know exactly when that ceased to be the case. Yet it did. No longer a haven of contentment – It is now a twisted, tormenting, and ridiculously blasé hell. It has reached a point of being overly saturated with stagnation.

Or perhaps it always was, but I was just too accustomed to it to really notice. Or perhaps I just didn’t want to. Regardless, one late night walk throughout a city I once considered home was enough to make me realize it was not.

You can’t always see them, yet you always know they are out there. The diseased creatures, the filthy scavengers, those that survive on discarded remnants or stealthily pilfered prizes.

You can’t always hear them, yet in the dead of the night, drowned out by the screeching of tires and the wailing of sirens, you know their silent screams echo. And an unseen scavenger smiles at the prospect of another easy mark.

You can’t always smell them. Their scent is often masked by the overpowering odour of decay and decadence. Which itself largely goes undetected, so dulled are the senses to that which they have become so accustomed.

Taste them? Naught but the tainted wrongness of it all - Soiled, dirty, and unclean. Spice it up anyway you like, but you are still left with defiled sustenance that just barely manages to nourish.

But you can feel them. Lurking in the shadows causing the hair on the back of your neck to rise up. Or concealed close enough that occasionally it forces the bile to rise up. Regardless of how it manifests itself, It is there.

Ask anyone. They’ll admit they feel it too. They just tend to blame it on bad Sushi.

Blink. Blink. Blink.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Blinded by the light


So, it was a most spectacularly boring Sunday. That of the mind-numbing, please-just-beat-me-with-a-stick-so-I-may-feel-something variety. In order to alleviate the condition I did the usual. I surfed aimlessly from link to link in a quest for the holy grail of web logs. I followed the usually recommended procedure – Start at a blog you like, click on something they like until you find one that holds your attention, lather, rinse, repeat.

The result? I’ve managed to kill off 27 more brain cells, gone through a bottle of shampoo, and now have the cleanest hair in Utah. I encountered the regular political pundits, the fashion gurus, the inarticulate activists, the religious fanatics, and the endearing conspiracy theorists.

At approximately 3:00 Pm, after two Chai teas, three Lattes, a coke, and a box of Marlboros I had effectively cursed the name of almost every blogger in existence. Those I didn’t like because, well, I didn’t like them and those I did like because they apparently have real lives that prohibit updates on the weekends. Inconsiderate bastards - Quit your job, ditch the annoying insignificant other, move into your mother’s basement and blog for me. Please?

I’m selfish and needy and lack anything resembling a healthy meaningful existence. I have no purpose beyond living vicariously through the thoughts and opinions of others (Except for the political pundits, fashion gurus, inarticulate activists, and religious fanatics – They can all move to Greenland and hopefully live out a silent life of anonymity).

But I did learn. It seems there is a need for moderate amounts of social reform pretty much everywhere. Armed conflict also appears to be of great concern to many. There is a great debate over the existence of god, as well as which one. Somewhere a tree is in jeopardy of being turned into a university textbook.

But… they were all missing the most insidious threat of all.

Flashing Neon Signs.

The true bane of humanity. You’ve likely heard the rumour that these devious creations can, upon occasion, cause debilitating seizures in some people. Most of you brush it off at that and think nothing more of the subject. But seriously folks, if it can cause such a drastic effect on a select group, are you really comfortable accepting the fact that they are harmless to the rest of us?


The evidence is all around us that Flashing Neon Signs are evil. And that no one is immune. Not even me. Take this evening for instance. I was driving down the road without a care in the world when it appeared before me. The Flashing Neon Sign that proclaimed “Cold Beer Sold Here”. As I drew nearer I saw the Flashing Neon Sign in the window that said simply “AmberBock”. Blink. Blink. Blink. From there it remains unclear as to exactly what happened, but there is no denying that just minutes later I emerged from the building with the Flashing Neon Signs with a cold case of AmberBock. Coincidence? I think not.

I scurried back to my vehicle and proceeded down the road. Only moments later I encountered yet another Flashing Neon Sign. This one lacked words, yet the silhouette of a naked woman was unmistakable. Blink. Blink. Wink. As I passed by I noticed an abundance of vehicles parked outside and a few confused souls stumbling out into the daylight. More victims of the Flashing Neon Sign.

A few blocks later – Another Flashing Neon Sign. This one proclaiming “Souvenirs” with a red arrow pointing towards the entrance. Blink. Blink Blink. Within? A poorly designed storage facility for authentic Indian artwork. I grabbed one of the delightful wood carvings and flipped it over. “$9.99” a tiny white tag proclaimed. Blink. Blink Blink. Seems reasonable for an authentic Indian artifact. I proceeded towards the cashier with my prize lovingly cupped within my hand. Blink. Blink Brrzztt. The sign failed to blink. I looked down into my hand and noticed the small white tag was beginning to peel. I toyed with it a moment and was mildly distraught when it fell complete off. In its place the words “Made in Korea” were inked. Hmm…. Sure an authentic Indian artifact is worth $9.99, but an authentic Korean artifact? Silliness.

Beware the hypnotic blinking of the Flashing Neon Signs my friends. They can be blinding.

Current temperature: 84.
Current precipitation: None.
Current mood: Vexed.
Currently reading: A Chinese Takeout Menu.
Currently watching: Suspect Zero.
Currently listening: I wanna be sedated – The Ramones.
Currently thinking: I wanna be sedated.
Currently smoking: Marlboro 72’s.
Currently drinking: AmberBock.
Current political climate: Tenuous.
Current terror alert: Yellow. Blink blink.
Currently in my pocket: Lint. Three quarters, three dimes, and a nickel.

Blink. Blink. Blink.

And that solves that.

Editor's Note: I ripped off both the beginning and end statement. Sorry.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Honey, I’m lonely. And yes, as a matter of fact, I do realize you are right there beside me. Really it’s not helping the situation much. The feeling is still there. To be completely honest for just a moment - Your presence actually only seems to be adding to the odd sensation of isolation.

No, I’m not saying that just to piss you off and force you away. I just decided to express my feelings. You recall how you always push to know what I’m thinking every waking moment? Well, I’m trying to tell you. I’m lonely.

Actually the melodramatic anger isn’t helping much. I’ve seen it before, and there are others who do it better. They’ve perfected it. It’s almost as though they were born to it. Some people just do anger well. You, my dear, aren’t one of them.

Remember back. The one who snuck downstairs at 2:00 in the morning to shred every picture of a female in the house and smash the offending frames in which they were held? Who called late at night and threatened the life of anyone, man or woman, who was unfortunate enough to answer the phone? Who, once I quit answering the phone, left messages. Spiteful, vile, “I hope you freeze to death in Alaska”-type messages? She did anger, and psychotic, very well.

No, no. I’m not saying you are inadequate in that regard. I’m sure if you mixed alcohol with your medication you could be every bit as twisted. Seeing as how you are a woman I have no doubt that with a little incentive you could be even more evil. Destroy me? Make my life a living hell? Ruin my life? Yes, well, I’ve seen that as well.

Remember back. The one who came around to let the air out of my tires when I was out playing poker with the boys? And the one who called her brother and father and told them I had taken advantage of her? She stood by and smiled as her brother expressed his displeasure? I was living with her at the time. It was Valentine’s Day. So yes, if that’s the route you wish to take give it your best shot.

Well, you could promise to do better, to be better, but really it is unnecessary. You’ve done nothing wrong. It would still not alleviate the problem. Honestly, sweetness and blind devotion really isn’t the problem. In the end I’m still quite likely to feel the same loneliness I feel now. And no, it’s not a matter of personal compatibility.

Remember back. The one whom I spent every moment I could with. She’d visit me at work and we’d go golfing on the weekends. We’d spend the holidays at her family’s place, take a helicopter trip out to the lake, and spend the evenings drinking wine, talking of alternative music, watching obscure movies, and discussing even more obscure philosophy. I learned much from her, and to this day still miss her, yet that wasn’t enough to keep us from breaking up at a friend’s wedding.

Hmm… Tears? Not exactly a novel idea, but more effective to be sure. But of course you know I have a weakness for crying. Or do you? I can’t actually recall you being around for any of that. Ah well, I must cling to the belief that you knew. It’s the only thought that helps strengthen my resolve. To assume they are spontaneous would break me. Nice try.

Remember back. The one who could cry on demand. At anytime when things weren’t going exactly her way the floodgates would open - A devious, nasty, and generally cruel manner of manipulation. People are generally inclined to be sympathetic and attempt to make you feel better. Yeah, That didn’t end well.

And no, it is not because of her, or her, or her, or her. One is a friend, one an old and dear friend, one just got married, and one is, well, I’m not actually sure how you know about her, but she’s just not it. I suppose the real point is – Neither are you. Otherwise I probably wouldn’t feel lonely.

Remember back. I told you a friend of mine said I was “Chasing a pipe-dream”? She was right, but for all the wrong reasons; and another friend said “You can do better.”? He was wrong, but for all the right reasons; yet another said “Sometimes the best things are sitting right in front of you,” but was wrong and for all the wrong reasons. I said something along the lines of “You’re better off without me.” I was right, and for all the right reasons.

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