Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Original Freak

Where did it all begin? When was it that I first took stock of my latest interaction with someone from the Weird Side of the Street and said to myself: What am I? A freak magnet? Was it the day in 1994 that a woman with a PhD in history explained to be that there were dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark? Was it the time I went on a blind date and the lady kept blithering, in oh-so-serious tones, about how homosexuality is a birth defect? Or maybe the barber in Nebraska who listened to the Grateful Dead, drove a Volkswagen minibus, had a peace symbol above his shop mirror, and who, while cutting my hair, went on a ten minute diatribe about how the country was being ruined by the niggers and kikes? All are good candidates, but as it happens I remember distinctly the occasion whereupon I sat, shaking my head and wondering how it had happened that I am to Freaks what A-positive is to vampire bats.

I was sitting at a table in one of my usual hangouts, collecting facts for a book I’d been researching. My notebook lay open before me alongside a pint of beer and a glass of bourbon.

All at once I became aware of a hovering presence. Raising my head, I discovered a rather nondescript chick with red hair, holding a beer in both hands as if she was about to conduct some sort of religious rite. For reasons I hope become obvious here in a minute, I’ve nicknamed her Brain-Cooker.

Brain-Cooker (BC): Can I sit at your table?

It was about 3:30 in the afternoon. Not counting her, there was a grand total of three people in the place—me, a guy on a stool at the bar and the bartender. Brain-Cooker had her pick of spots upon which to store her ass. But I elected, for whatever reason, not to be rude, and gestured at a chair.

ME: Sure.

BC: Cool. Thanks.

ME: Hope you don’t mind if I keep working.

BC: I won’t bother you. Just need to sit for a few minutes.

ME: Knock yourself out.

She plopped onto a chair across from me and let out a massive sigh. Glancing up I saw she was frowning all the way to her chin dimples, while alternating between sipping at her beer and gnawing on the cuticle of her thumb. She kept tossing her hair, too. Sigh, gnaw/sip, toss. Sigh, gnaw/sip, toss. Steady as a metronome.

Obviously she wanted me to inquire as to the source of her discomfort. I withstood the urge to comply for as long as I could, but eventually caved.

ME: Crappy day?

BC: Fuck yeah. Just broke up with my boyfriend.

ME: Just now?

BC: Yeah, like ten minutes ago.

ME: That sucks.

BC: I dunno. Fuck him.

ME: There you go. Getting better already.

I shouldn’t have added that second sentence. It came out forced; played my go-away card too soon.

BC: He don’t know what he let go.

ME: They never do.

BC: He’ll never find another me.

ME: Of course not.

BC: Never. Not the shit I can do.

ME: Nope. He probably deserves it, though, right?

BC: Fuck yeah. Never find another me.

ME: So you said.

She tipped the glass to her lips and drank off about two thirds of its contents.

BC: Cuz I’ll do anything, man. Anything.

ME: Oh, yes?

BC: Any-fucking-thing, dude. Swear to God.

ME: I’m sure.

BC: And he’s gonna miss it.

ME: Of course.

BC: Miss the shit out of it.

ME: No doubt.

BC: Cuz, dude, you want it, I’ll do it. I don’t care. I’ll swallow yer
load. You can cum on my face. Fuck me in the ass. Have yer friends
over, watch while they have a turn. Whatever. Fucking lick yer asshole,
dude. I don’t care.

And she suddenly rose to her feet, downed the last of her beer, and slammed the glass on the table, sloshing my drinks all over.

BC: Okay. I gotta go. Later.

And she scurried from the bar with the urgency of Alice’s White Rabbit.

I stared into space for a few long ticks, wondering if I’d hallucinated the scary mutant and her whole twisted rap, then realized it was just my Freak Magnet operating at peak performance. I tried to get back to work, but she’d cooked a hole in my brain that wouldn’t close. So I closed up shop, dragged my stuff over to the bar, ordered a double Maker’s, and dialed up some Ramones on the juke.

Fifteen years later and I still don’t know what to make of it all, other than this: It’s been a hoot.

Cheers, my friends.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Another Foray into the Dato-O-Sphere

After the discouraging results of my first leap into the otherworldly world of on-line dating—a land rife with English-disabled prostitutes and certifiable whack-a-doos—I took a deep breath and decided to give it another go, this time on a site recommended by several people who seem to have gotten the hang of the whole internet romance scene. The fact that it’s a free site was another point in its plus column. Not that I’m a cheapskate or anything, but why pay good money for the dubious thrill of interacting with people you’d ordinarily cross the street to avoid interacting with?

So, I posted a profile with as honest a collection of data as I felt comfortable divulging, uploaded a couple of pics, set up my match criteria, and set about alternately searching and waiting to be found. And, wouldn’t you know it, within a couple of days I was enjoying an email conversation with a lady who shared lots of my interests, was old enough not to be completely fucking stupid about the world, and, judging from her posted photos, was even pleasant to look at. Lucky me.

We decided to get together for drinks. I picked her up at her house, met her charming fourteen-year-old son, and off we went. She picked the bar, me being still unfamiliar with all the bars here in OKC. Good place, too. I drank shots of Maker’s and pints of Guinness, while she had lemon drops and Cape Cods, and we shared a plate of tasty nachos. The talking was good too, drifting freely across our mutual recent divorces, music, politics, etc. Soon we were full and happily tipsy, at which point the conversation turned to wine, all of the good things about drinking it, and how we should go buy a couple bottles and adjourn to her house to enjoy the fine weather on her back patio. And this we did.

I’ll pass over the remainder of the evening, except to say this: nocturnal erotic congress.

The next day proved to be an interesting one. She sent a text calling me a “very handsome man” (awww…shucks). I responded with one saying what a fun time I’d had, and that she has a very pretty smile. Her response to that one was, “Oh, ha ha.”

Ha ha what? I asked.

Never mind. Long story. Tell you later.

And I didn’t hear another peep for two days, and when she finally did peep, it took the form of a phone call.

“We have to talk about the ‘pretty smile’ thing.”


“Couldn’t you have just come right out and said you think I’m fat and ugly?”

“’Scuse me?”

“I mean, like ‘I think you’re fat and ugly, but I have to think of something nice to say, so I’ll say you have a nice smile.’”

“Uh—I said you have a nice smile because you have a nice smile, and I don’t think you are fat or ugly.”

“Uh-huh. Sure. Whatever. But I talked to all my girlfriends and they all think that was an assholish thing to say.”

“Saying you have a pretty smile makes me an asshole?”

“Why can’t you just tell the truth?”

“I am.”


By this point, my eyes were rolling like this was an audition for a Warner Bros. cartoon and I was clenching the phone so tightly it whimpered. Time, I thought, to chop this chat off at its ankles.

“Look,” I said. “Based upon this conversation I believe that the two of us will NEVER communicate in any sort of logical way. So, it’s been nice knowing you. Have a nice life.”

She called me a “fuckin’ jerk” and hung up.

Sitting there on my couch, mulling over what had just taken place, it hit me that I should’ve seen it coming. Not because I’m currently having a run of bad luck. And not because the words “Rich” and “Relationships” usually find themselves together in the same sentence only in the pages of psychology textbooks. No, I should’ve seen it coming, should’ve known she was a freak, for one very specific reason.

You know those audio-therapy machines people have? They play soothing sounds while people sleep? She had one in her bedroom. Ordinarily you expect those things to burble whale calls, or ocean waves, or the breeze wafting across grass, and shit like that. What did hers play?

The sound of frying bacon.

So, if you have any cute, single female friends in the OKC area, please…tell them to stay the fuck away from me.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Love & Death

Love and death. We pursue them both. We flee from them both. In a nutshell, it is the push-pull of these two states of being that sums up human existence.

So, it’s a good thing we can laugh at them, don’t’cha think?

THe AfricaN BrIDGe

About two weeks ago, Love (yes, that’s Love, with a capital L), as it has so often done in the past, hawked a thick, wet loogie on my shoes. Chalk up another one in the Loss column. I wandered around feeling befuzzled for a few days, cogitating on how it had come to pass that, once again, I got the gooey end of the poo-stick. I mean, I realize that I’m something of an acquired taste—like retsina and bagpipes—but come on!

Then I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and take a stab at getting my ass back into the saddle. And since I am new to this city, I reasoned, and know a grand total of three people, why not do the thing up right and register my bona fides with an online dating site. Don’t they run those commercials about their members, who, with little or no effort, always find That Perfect Someone? I know they do, I’ve seen them.

Anyway, long story short and all that, I picked a site (more or less at random, I must admit) slogged through their 9,000 page questionnaire, described to them roughly what I sought in female companionship, uploaded a pic or two, and sat back to see what happened.

Which, for the first two days as a grand total of absolutely nothing. Then I got a few nibbles, from women who obviously hadn’t carefully read the info I’d posted (i.e. the rabid anti-smoking Christian who “winked” at me), and then I got someone who seemed, not only to be able to read, but also to be interested. A couple of vanilla emails lead to an e-date in the cozy environs of Yahoo messenger.

When I logged in at the appointed time, she had selected the “tumbling hearts” background for our chat window, which I thought was sort of endearing. Ten minutes later anything “endearing” about our encounter had dropped from the thing like an engine block at a demolition derby.

What follows is the more disturbing tail end of our interaction, pasted verbatim from the chat window, but with certain portions altered the protect the privacy of the crazy bitch on the other end.

HER: Have you been in the OKCity longer?

ME: Longer?

HER: Long time?

ME: No, not long. Just a few weeks.

HER: This is imPortant to me. Because.

ME: [After a pause] Bcause why?

HER: Because. wHen I am go with a man. When you are R my man (which I cincerely HOPE!!!) I must look after all of You concerns and needs.

[At this point a needle of trepidation began sliding into my brain.]

ME: OK. I’ll let you know when I have a few needs that need looking after.

HER: Because.

ME: Because?

HER: Anything you Wish to TaLK about. I am hERe. That is MY job. AnY of Your conCERNS, are now MY concerned.

[Now I was wondering if she was some species of cyber-hooker looking to get me into a naughty dialogue. Christ knows I had better things to do than that…]

ME: That’s nice of you [thinking fast, now], but I have a deadline, so we’ll have to pick this up later.

HER: Your ThouGHhts must are NOw my thoUghts.

ME: Yup. You mentioned that.

HER: Because. I can taLK about anythinG.

ME: Awesome. Like I said, I hate to cut this short, but I have some work to do. Talk to you later.

HER: WHEN? I MEAn that Rickard. WHEN?

[Well, Elvira, I’ll tell ya. Never again in a million, trillion fucking years.]

ME: Day or two. Shoot me an email.

HER: Two weeKs is PERFECT!


HER: I am in Nairobi, NOw build THe AfricaN BrIDGe. In tHE Okcity in two weeks!HE

ME: Great! Email me then. By.

HER: Byeeeeeeeeeee!

And I X’d out of the chat before she could come up with anything else to say.

The next morning I removed my profile from the website. I can meet crazy people without paying a monthly fee, maybe even some crazy people who have control of their Caps LoCk key. Instead I’m just gonna start hanging around the grocery store on Saturday evenings. Might not meet anyone interesting, but I can buy some soup.

Dead Man Walking!

In only took me a day or two to discover that the apartment complex I’ve moved into doesn’t have the greatest reputation. I was chit-chatting with the liquor-store guy the day I started moving in, and when I mentioned where I was renting, he visibly started, and wanted to know if I’d lost my mind, living in a place like that. I told him the truth, which is that it didn’t seem all that bad to me and that everyone I’d met so far had been very friendly. He didn’t believe me, but so what.

That evening I discovered that my dishwasher was missing the basket thingy you put silverware in, so I wandered over to Wal-Mart, figuring is anyplace sold such an odd replacement part, they would.

I was tromping around the hardware area when the most amazing thing happened. A clerk actually came up to me and asked if I needed assistance. That’s never happened to me in Wally World before. Not once. I told hthe guy what I was after and he shook his head, saying I’d be better off at Lowe's or Home Depot. Then he asked the obvious question: why didn’t I just tell my apartment manager. (I hadn’t because I figured they would shitcan my request three second after hanging up the phone.) The clerk then asked where I lived. I told him the name of the complex.

“Jesus Christ!” he burst. “You have a gun and a flack-vest?”

I laughed good-naturedly. “The gun yes. No vest though.”

“No vest?”


And this Wal-Mart clerk with food on his blue shirt threw his head back and howled: “DEAD MAN WALKIN’!” Then he giggled.

I giggled too, hewing to my good-naturedness. The clerk went off to help someone else, or whatever, and I paid for the few items I had collected and went home.

On my way up the walk I passed several of my co-residents. Smiles and “hellos” all the way around, and I entered my apartment content in the belief that opinions are, indeed, like assholes, in that everyone has one, especially the assholes.

Two days later a guy in the building next to mine shot his girlfriend six times in the chest and attempted to hide his crime by lighting her corpse on fire.

I could smell the smoke in my bedroom.

Oh well. Twelve months isn’t that long. Not really.


Friday, August 12, 2011

My Magnet is Alive and Kicking

I have officially (almost) relocated to my new digs, far from the Wilds of Oklahoma, and right smack into what you might call the Wilds of Urban Oklahoma. And the big news is…? My Freak Magnet is alive and kicking. Gus the Football-Playing Disney Mule didn’t kick like my little ‘ol magnet is kickin’ these days. Ready for the update? Read on, my fine friends. Read on.

A Trip to the Mall

I’d been here about a week when the urge to see a movie came upon me. Lamentably, I selected that puddle of cinematic ass juice called Transformers: Dark of the Moon, but that’s another tale for another time. The closest theater showing the thing was inside the nearby megamall. I got there too early, due to one of Fandango’s more playful attempts at providing showtimes, and, finding myself with time to kill, went on a wander about the place; three full stories of gaudy commerce.

On the second floor, I rounded a corner just as a quintet of teen- or twenty-something Okie Urban Oddities exploded from the interior of some sort of sports-wear hut. And I mean exploded. They were heading somewhere with a sense of purpose, and I’m betting it wasn’t the library. And no matter their destination, they looked silly as shit. They were all tall and gangly, like junior varsity basketball players. Each wore knee-length NBA shorts, and baggy NBA jerseys with words like Thunder and Heat and Knicks stenciled on them. White unlaced leather high-tops completed their ensembles, except for one other item. All five sported huge—huge—white straw cowboy hats, with brims so wide you could farm mushrooms under them.

And they ran into me. They ran into me, onto me, and around me, each reeking worse than the next of Axe body wash and unleavened testosterone.

They passed as quickly as they arrived, like a bony storm front, and I was willing to let their rudeness slide until the last to go turned and said, “Whoa, watch it there, big ‘un.” His tone suggested he’d routinely employed the exact same sentence at other points over his life’s short journey, most probably in a pasture.

“You ran into me,” I said, coming to a standstill and squinting at them, mostly because their outfits demanded squinting.

There passed about six seconds of guys-sizing-up-other-guys behavior, and I could see in their eyes and body language that we were sharing a similar pattern of thoughts. To wit: they wanted to kick the shit out of me, but even though there were five of them, I was bigger than any two put together, and none of them had the sack to wade into such a melee, one where the outcome was sure to be little better than ten-to-six and pick ‘em. So, after a few shared glances, they took the prudent course and made to depart. But not before one of them, I couldn’t say which, offered some humorous take on the situation, at a quiet, passive-aggressive volume, that set a couple of his pals to giggling.

Grumbling, decided to press my advantage.

“Hey!” I barked.

They stopped in an ungainly clump and turned back to look at me.

“Are you little faggots all on the same dance team or something?”

Not among my better rejoinders, I know, and not the nicest choice of words, but what made it a moment of sheer perfection was that, just as I said it, three very pretty young girls strolled by, heard me, saw them, and burst into that brand of high-pitched, mocking laughter that only teenaged girls can produce.

As one of the boys actually blushed, all five beat feet in the opposite direction, toward a place, I am sure, where they hoped to be free of cranky old fat men and mean girls with smooth, tanned legs.

And then I was punished for my happiness by The Transformers. Fuck.


I frequent pawn shops. They make me smile most largely. And it’s not all rusty power tools and golf clubs. either. You really never know what you might unearth there next. Just recently, for example, I purchased a fine family of Filipino day-laborers, for—seriously—like half the price of a Chinese set. OK, kidding aside, pawn shops are a positive trove of goodies. Wish the same could be said for some of the people who dawdle about them.

There’s a nifty little locally-owned shop a mile or so from my new digs. They had a sign in the window advertising DVDs for two bucks each. Couldn’t pass that up, so I popped in for a closer gander. After selected five or six flicker-shows for my later popcorn pleasure, I circumnavigated the store, scrutinizing the stuff that was up for grabs. And—Holy Hannah—there it was. A knock-off of da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” framed in bright yellow and pink Neon! Wicked pissah! I immediately coveted it, with a covetousness I usually reserve for ’74 Cadillacs, and girls in Catholic-school skirts.

Oh, but then…tragedy. The shop wanted $375 dollars for it! Fuck me! Bunch of greedy cocksuckers! And thus was I forced to do nothing but stare longingly at it, thinking of how my new walls might have been so honored by it’s dangling from one of them.

And then, a voice from behind me, low and elderly: “That’s blasphemy.”

He was about five feet tall, neat and tidy, and well into advanced years. He frowned with ease, like the frown had become, over the years of his intense religiosity, the default position of his facial muscles. One could imagine him wearing the same expression while he gnawed the heads off Easter chicks.

I didn’t like looking at him. First, because I was afraid he was going to keep on about “blasphemy” and all that shit, Second, because, despite his spick and span appearance, he smelled really bad, and Third, because—and this is so fucked up—his tongue was purple. I don’t mean a little bit purpleish, man. I mean PURPLE. Like a chow’s tongue. Merry-Pranksters purple. Been-goin’-down-on-Violet-Beauregarde purple.

My eyeballs leaped from my head and made like Superballs all over the tile. I guess the old guy thought I was reacting to his “blasphemy” remark, and thus somehow felt emboldened to gimme another dose of Jesus.

“What’s wrong with this country.” He poked a finger at the painting. “Disregarding the Shepherd. Making a mockery of Our Savior.”

I hate it when religious people speak in capital letters.

“He Died for Our Sins,” the old gent intoned, his B.O. clouding around us like a swarm of no-see-ums, his purple tongue dragging across his dry lips.

“Yeah?” I said, kind of loudly, too, I guess. “And then he came back to life three days later. Big fuckin’ deal.”

His eyes went all funny, like I’d maybe stuck my dick in his ear and given it a good jiggle.

“Also,” I continued, as he sort of silently worked his mouth and egregiously exhibited the freaky fucking purple thing inside it, “keep your religion to yourself.”

I started toward the counter with my movies.

“And,” I snapped, now really pissed off, for reasons I still don’t understand, “take a fucking shower. You smell like an unlaundered cunt.”

And I went home. And I popped in a DVD. I’d never seen it before. It was Tron: Legacy.

Punished again. Fuck.

Monday, June 27, 2011

My FINAL Dispatch from Freakland

Just when I thought it was safe to venture out of doors once again, my little Oklahoma town decided to don its finest Freakland plumage. And this time they are really shakin’ their good ol’ tailfeathers.

“A” is for “Atheist"

So, I needed a haircut before going out of town. I pop by the “salon” at the local WallyWorld, and scribble my name on the clipboard. As I’m doing that, two of the “stylists” waddle over to the counter, and they are in the midst of what appears to be a rather heated dialogue.

“Why are you angry?” says one.

“Didn’t you see his earring?” says the other, jerking her chin toward a guy on his way out.


“It was a letter ‘A’. Like for atheist!


“I just wanted to cut his ear off!”

“‘A’ means atheist? I thought it meant anarchyist, or whatev—”

“Which is just as bad, but it means atheist!

They stop talking when they see me standing there. The athei-a-phobe (I just invented that word) sort of glares at me.

Smiling, I say: “Maybe his name is Albert.”

Silent stares.

“You know, Occam’s Razor, and all that.”

Her face goes perfectly still as the words “Occam’s” and “Razor” ricochet around inside her skull, find nothing stable upon which to perch, and flee in search of a skull with friendlier designs on vocabulary.

“Well,” she says finally, shifting her gaze to her companion. “I don’t know.”

The other one takes up the clip board, scans the otherwise barren waiting area, and says, “Are you Richard?”

“That’s me.” I try on another smile but neither “stylist” seems to be in the mood for good-natured jocularity. The athei-a-phobe gestures toward her work station. As I make my way over I take a glance back at my new friends. They are rolling their eyes.

“We don’t wear secret symbols,” I say.

Questioning stares.

“Atheists. We don’t wear secret devices. We don’t have furtive handshakes, either. Most of us don’t even speak in a diabolic code.”

Stiff stares.

My haircut takes place in total silence. I detect additional occurrences of eye-rolling. I count myself lucky that my ears maintain their normal positions.

I mean come on! A guy walks in with a ‘A’ in his earlobe. They leap to the conclusion that he is either an anarchist or an atheist. One of them wants to mutilate his ear with scissors. And I’m the weirdo?

Reality TV was invented for these people…

The Windmills of Her Mind

About thirty miles from my little town there stands a massive wind farm. There are easily fifty or sixty of those gigantic white windmills scattered across maybe fifteen square miles of red-dirt landscape. They work constantly, too, as the wind here well and truly does come “sweeping down the plain.”

As it happens, we are also in the middle of a rather nasty drought; pretty much the only part of the country not being washed away.

I was standing in line at the liquor store the other day, and started chit-chatting with the young lady in front of me. It was hot outside; well over a hundred degrees. She made mention of that fact while hoisting a case of bad light beer onto the counter.

“We sure need rain,” she added.

“Yeah,” I said. “I haven’t lived here very long, but I understand the drought has lasted the last five or six years.”

“Yup,” she agreed. “Ever since they put in those windmills.”

I processed that for a second or two before saying, “Scuse me?”

“The windmills. They push the clouds away.”

“Ah,” I said. “OK.”

She paid for her bad beer and departed, leaving me to ponder a country whose citizens have such a small grounding in the sciences that they can’t even grasp wind.

Starving Republicans

We have one movie rental place in town. I was in there the other day, multitasking. I was perusing the new release wall while at the same time eavesdropping on a conversation between the clerk and a customer. The customer, a woman of perhaps forty, wanted recommendations, and the clerk was chock-full of ‘em, none however even came close to fulfilling the customer’s desires. Or, rather, desire, singular. Every time the clerk suggested a title, the customer wanted to know who was in it, and when told would grunt and frown, quite gasseously, and inform the clerk that such-and-such a movie star was a “liberal” and she did watch “no movies” with “liberals” in them. It was her loud opinion that Hollywood is run by liberals, and that they refuse to allow decent Republican actors to work in the movies.

The idea that conservatives are somehow shut out of the flicker shows is almost as preposterous as the old saw about a “liberally-biased media.” One thing and one thing only makes Hollywood run: MONEY. Your movies make money, you make more movies. Your movies suck, so do the offers that come your way.

As far as Republican celebrities go, exactly how badly has the Liberal Hollywood “establishment” treated, say, Clint Eastwood? Or Bruce Willis? Or Sylvester Stallone, Vince Vaughn, Adam Sandler, Joe Pesci, James Woods, James Caan, John Voight, Kurt Russell, Mel Gibson, or Gary Sinese? Sela Ward, Jessica Simpson, Patricia Heaton and Joan Rivers all work regularly. Frazier, starring noted Republican Kelsey Grammer, won 38 Emmy Awards, and earned Grammer hundreds of millions of dollars. That poor, sad s.o.b.

No, the conservatives you hear bitching the loudest about how their politics cost them acting jobs—people like Stephen Baldwin and Heather Locklear—don’t work much for a reason that have nothing to do with how they vote. They suck. And their products make suck money.

And remember, the only actual black-listing ever done in La-La-Land was done by conservatives, against liberals. It was real, and evil, and led to suicides.

I thought about mentioning all this to the customer, but she looked to be the sort who wouldn’t ever allow a few facts to get in the way of a good story, so…I rented a couple of George Clooney titles and left.

Hats Off

One weirdly charming thing about my little town is that it’s little enough for the paper to print the weekly crime reports. This notice appeared some little while back:

May 23rd, 2011. 12:59 a.m. 9-1-1 call.
300 block of 48th Street.
“People lighting their hats on fire.”

Shit, and people say small-town America isn’t any fun.

Signing Off

That’s it, folks. My final dispatch from Freakland. I’m moving in a week or two, to an actual city. It is my hope that the Freaks there will be less blatant, but given the constancy of my Freak Magnet, I fear those hopes might be, as I once heard a farmer say, about as useful as tits on a bacon rind.

In any event, wish me well, and stay tuned for more from the Wine God.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mother Nature's Revenge

I haven’t been around in a while because I’ve been recovering from the various injustices done to my person by Mama Nature and her frisky minions. Yes, she has turned on me; Red in Tooth and Claw, as the saying goes. Not sure what I did to deserve her bleak attentions, but her attentions have I received. Sure, I’ve caught and eaten a few of her fish. I’ve swatted more of her winged soldiers than I can count. Recently, I clobbered a small bird with my car, but that was an accident. And, yes, I made fun of an armadillo. Right to its face…er, snout. But really, did any one of these actions, or even all of them put together, justify the lengths of her revenge? I dunno. You decide.

Turtle Bobber
So many of my stories have to do with me and fishing or me and turtles, and here’s another, this time about both fishing and turtles.

Sometimes, I leave off angling for bass and kick back under a tree with some bait in the water, and go after channel cat. This particular day I was using a rig with three hooks and three different baits, hoping to entice one of the really big cats up from the depths. I reclined the shade of a old cottonwood, watching my bright orange bobber float lazily on the calm water. After maybe ten minutes it gave a little twitch. Then another. I sat up, and lifted my rod from the holder, ready to give a yank and set the hook. The bobber went dancing across the surface and I pulled.

I knew two things immediately. The first was that I had missed setting the hook, and the second was that it hadn’t been a catfish tugging on the line. When a catfish strikes it clamps its ugly lips around the bait and heads for the bottom, usually causing the float to plunge straight down. This one had boogied sideways, so it was likely one of two things—a turtle or a perch. None of my baits that afternoon are popular among perch, so it must’ve been a turtle. My suspicion was confirmed a moment later when one of the poxy little devils surfaced beside my bobber for a moment, taking stock of the situation, then dove under again for another nibble of free nosh. He was a big one, too; easily a third the size of a trashcan lid.

So, my bobber did its thing again, and again went for a surface stroll; about three feet before it went all the way under. Against my better judgment, I gave the rod a sturdy yank—setting the hook this time. In that bloody turtle.

Now, turtles aren’t streamlined like fishies. With a hook in its beak, a turtle is about as aquadynamic as a pie-tin full of cement. All four of their stubby legs paddle like mad, but they simply haven’t evolved to put up a serious fight. Unless, that is, they are large and the water is relatively shallow and strewn with debris, all of which are true of my fishing hole.

Long story short, the repellant reptile hove for the cover of a submerged tree and somehow anchored himself down there. Lord knows what he managed to tangle my line around, but no way was I going to muscle him loose; not without the intervention of, say, a fair-sized horse. Grumbling, I flicked open my clasp knife and sliced the line, then sat down to string a new rig.

Three minutes later, as I worked, my bobber bobbed to the surface. Right there. About five feet away. No sign of Yertle, though. Then it went under again. I felt I was being taunted, but so be it.

Armed with a new set of hooks and baits, I relocated to a fresh spot, forty-or-so yards along to the north. I threw my line out into a spot I had psychically determined to be a good one, and settled in for a watch. Minute or two later—spoink!—up came a second bobber next to mine. Yertle had followed me, the little blighter. And he continued following me all afternoon. Wherever my bobber went, his was sure to follow. I’m not sure if it was his ever-present lurking, but I didn’t catch a single fish that day.

I’ve been back to that same pond three times since Yertle absconded with my orange float, and have seen the thing in at least a dozen different locations, bobbing merrily about. Obviously, dragging a float behind and having a fish hook in his face hasn’t proven to be the detriment to his general mobility one might imagine. Bully for him, but I find it all just a tad unnerving. It’s like a miniature version of the yellow barrels from Jaws.

The B-52 Heron
Sometimes when the fish aren’t biting I like to go exploring the neighborhood around my little pond, and see what sort of interesting stuff the place has to offer. I’ve watched a mama bobcat lead her kittens to the water at dusk; a mated pair of wood ducks bring supper to their fuzzy hatchlings; and a litter of new-born bull snakes slither free from their underground nest. One of the best things I’ve witnessed, however, is a gray heron standing astride her massive nest near dawn, then taking wing and gliding over the mirror-flat waters of the lake. She was truly magnificent. Her wing-span must’ve been close to six feet and she barely made a sound.

Once I knew where her nest was (high up in the skeletal branches of a dying cottonwood tree), I made it a point to creep by occasionally and listen to her chicks peep and whistle. I rarely saw her there, though, herons being rather skittish birds, except for that first time, and then again about a week ago. And then I didn’t know she was at home until it was too late.

I was sitting on the ground beneath her tree, when there came a loud rustling from over my head. I looked up just in time to see her leap from her nest and rocket skyward. She was obviously startled, though I’ll be damned if I was making any noise. I mean, I was just sitting there enjoying her company. But away she flew.

And—miracle of miracles—she left a parting gift. On my shoulder and back.

I once got crapped on by a sparrow. The full extent of its anal output barely amounted to a smudge, but holy hell did it reek. I don’t know what goes on in the digestive machinery of our avian cousins, but does for the human nostril what Tyson did to Holyfield.

Now imagine, not a mere smudge of the stuff, but enough to top off a Big Gulp. Oh my good, good god. The fetid glob hit my back like a water balloon full of Satan’s own special ass pudding. The smell singed by nose hairs. It crawled all the way into the center of my skull and started a mosh pit. I would’ve burst into tears if bursting into them hadn’t meant drawing a deep breath and inhaling even more of the noxious slurry.

I yanked my shirt off and flung it away toward the pond. It landed half-in, half-out of the water, so I grabbed a stick, shoved it all the way in, and sort of stirred it about, watching as greasy white pustules of heron poo reluctantly detached themselves from the fabric. As I stirred I explained loudly and at length what was in store for mama heron next time our paths crossed.

That I haven’t seen her since makes me think she heard and understood.


Sweet SHIT That Hurts!
Among my many charming (read: nerdy) traits is an inability to look at an expanse of rock face without checking it for fossils. Every once in a great while I actually find something. In this case, they weren’t true fossils, but small and very fragile snail shells, bleached white by the sun. As I picked them from the red dirt of the cliff face (this was at my favorite fishing hole) with a toothpick and the tip of my clasp knife, I studied each in turn. Man, were they ever cool; tiny marvels of evolution; each about the size of a dime, with delicate whorls marking the snail’s growth, like the rings of a tree. Just beautiful.

After about thirty minutes diligence I had over a dozen shells in my hand. It came upon me to take them home, clean them up in some hot, soapy water, and make a bracelet with them for my friend Cal. I carried them to a fallen log to study them more carefully, with an eye toward accessories. Depositing them in a little pile, I sat beside them, easing into a comfier position by putting my palm on the log and scooching over.

I was mid-scooch when somebody set my hand on fire.

That’s what it felt like, anyway. Then it felt worse. It was pain with a side of fries; pain in its go-to-meetin’ clothes. It pulsed up my forearm all the way to my elbow. I started yelling and flapping my hand in the air. Can’t remember exactly what I yelled, but it was along the lines of jesusgoddamnfreakingsweetgoatSHIT!

I figured I had put my hand in a hornet’s nest, seeing as I was sitting on a rotting log and all. But that wasn’t the case. Dangling from my palm, right below the thumb, its stinger still stuck in my flesh and pumping venom, was a pale brown scorpion. He seemed almost as agitated as I was, flailing away with his tiny pincers. I didn’t like to see him so out of sorts, so I smashed my hand flat on the log. I smashed my hand on the log about fifty-seven times, pretty much reducing the beast to his component parts and a fair amount of juice. About a thimbleful, I’d say.

Killing the thing was only a psychological victory, and not even a particularly satisfying one. The pain only increased. Then it got together with some swelling and nausea, and the party really started rolling sevens. Pretty soon it looked like I had a cherry tomato growing from the ball of my thumb.

Driving home one-handed was a joy. Once I got there I put a wet washcloth on the tomato and sloppily mixed a tall, strong vodka-tonic. The booze made me feel better. It usually does.

So, there it is. Nature’s Revenge. But I am still left to wonder why She decided to make the last couple of weeks such memorable ones. But no matter Her reasons, I’ve come to a decision. No more making fun of armadillos. Seriously. No matter how stupid they look.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Weirdness of Weirdos

The citizens of my little slice of Oklahoma are once again being their entertaining selves.

The Family Shouts Together…

Recently I was hanging out at a state park near where I live that was built around some natural springs in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (oh, those vile liberals). They dammed up one of the springs and turned it into a smallish, three- or four-acre lake. It’s very pretty there, with trees of all sorts—Chinaberry, Sycamore, Hackberry, Walnut—and fauna galore. There’s a mama muskrat I particularly enjoy watching while she cuts cattails to line her den.

Anyway, I was having a nice quiet time. Too bad some extra members of the local human population had to show up.

There were six of them in all, Mom, Dad, and four kids, three girls and a boy, ranging from around three to around seven, they were enjoying a family outing on the other side of the lake from where I sat in the shade, but the Katzenjammer-like volume of their voices made their conversation impossible to avoid. And right out of The Family Circle it was, too. I recorded it here, with all the fidelity I can muster…

Little Boy: Lookit the turtle!

Mom: Hurry up, it’s time for dinner.

Little Boy: Lookit the turtle!

Mom: What’d I just SAY? Get up here!

Oldest Little Girl: It’s a turtle, Mom!

Mom: No it ain’t. Both of you: move!

Middle Little Girl: But Maaaaaaa’aaaaaaahm!

Mom: I ain’t gonna say it again. Move your asses right now or we’re gonna leave you here!

Little Boy: It IS a turtle! Lookit it!

Mom: God dammit! That’s not a fuckin’ turtle! It’s a big god damn stick!

Little Boy: Huh uh! It’s a¬¬—

Mom: Stop it, or I’m gonna paddle you! You hear me?

Dad: Hey, it IS a turtle.

Mom: And you shut the fuck up, too! Jesus CHRIST!

On that note they departed, the Model American Family, back up the trail to whatever carney conveyance had delivered them there. And from all around me came the unmistakable sounds of Nature applauding.

Ah, Prom!

I thought my little town was the Center of the Redneck Universe, but it turns out that there’s another, even smaller, town about twenty miles from here that takes the redneck cake (or, rather, cornbread). For proof, we need look no further than their recent Senior Prom.

The theme was “A Ride in the Country.” Their colors: Mossy Oak hunter’s camouflage…and pink. The centerpieces were tumbleweeds…with pink ribbon. The drinks table (no alcohol of course, only punch) was decorated with mason jars, mason jars filled with dirt clods, topped with tumbleweeds, and festooned with what can only be described as fluffy stuff…in pink. Many of the boys wore Mossy Oak hunter’s camouflage vests with their tuxedos. One boy’s tux was done entirely in Mossy Oak hunter’s camouflage. The commemorative T-shirts were Mossy Oak hunter’s camouflage with a design on the front; a drawing of a pair of hunter’s boots and a pair of high heels…in pink. Instead of a red carpet for the King and Queen to stroll down, they made a carpet of Mossy Oak hunter’s camouflage Duct Tape. The catering was by Kentucky Fried Chicken. Not a buffet. Big buckets on each table.

My friend Cal believes the kids were making a statement and being ironic. I, on the other hand, not being anywhere near as gracious or reasonable as Cal, believe they were just being hillbillies. Seventeen-year-olds don’t do irony. Irony is the privilege of the old and grouchy. Like me.

Redneck dorks.

Losing It Be Not Proud…

So, I’m at the movies the other night. Went to see Red Riding Hood. The eight-pound Oreck vacuum doesn’t suck as much as that movie does, but that’s not what I want to talk about. Just about the time the house lights faded, three kids dive-bombed into the seats in front of me. I’m going to put their ages at eight (a boy), ten (another boy) and eleven (a girl). They began chattering as soon as their narrow little butts hit the cushions. Someone a few seats down from them leaned over during the previews and told them to shush, which did about as much good as begging a puppy to file your taxes. I was to discover later that the daring shusher was the owner of the smaller boy, which rendered her ineffectual shushings all the more bothersome.

But, OK, look: I get it. They’re kids. Kids talk. Kids talk loud. It in the nature of kids to be annoying in public. But I do wish, just occasionally, that I would encounter some of them that conducted themselves as if they had parents at home and not abettors. Mini vans needn’t necessarily be get-away vehicles.

Anyway, the kids kept tittering and giggling, as the collar of my shirt grew tighter and tighter. The movie started, and even though I sensed from the very start that my money would’ve probably been better spent on a good rectal scouring, I had paid for it, and wanted to hear it, such as it was. So I assembled my best “Cool Uncle Rich” smile, leaned forward, aimed it at the trio, and said, “Hey, guys. Chill out. People are trying to watch the movie.”

Three small pale faces turned toward me, three small pale round big-eyed faces, like three juvenile dugongs investigating an X-Box. But, wonder of wonders, they did stop talking. For perhaps eleven seconds.

Time passed. Their voices and their twitching, OCD, antics grew louder and more feral. Had there been a runt in their litter, they would’ve eaten it and rolled around in its blood. The ineffectual shusher shushed them again, eliciting not even a pause in the gale. A lady in the row in front of them offered her own shush, which was also completely ignored.

Believe it or not, I don’t usually shush people during movies. Most of the time they shut up on their own. But these three hellhounds, well, I figured they deserved special attention. So, I leaned forward again and stuck my face right in their business.

“Shut up,” I whisper-hissed. “I mean it. You’re pissing me off.”

My abrupt arrival on the scene startled them and the little girl sort of “eeped” as they all faced me once again.

“Please,” I said. “Just be quiet. OK?”

Interestingly, the ineffectual shushers, both next to and in front of the wee terrorists, each turned and said “Thank-you.” And the wee terrorists ceased jabbering, too, for an period of time that lasted at least fifteen seconds. Then they were right back at it, full speed ahead.

And now we are entering the section of my narrative which some might find offensive.

When the creatures resumed their gabbling and honking the youngest of them (who’s name I later learned was, of all things, Traven) looked back at me and said,

“Hey. Gimme some of your popcorn.”

That’s all he said, but I…what’s the word I’m looking for? Snapped! That’s it. I snapped.

“Listen to me, you little sack of shit,” I growled. “Shut the fuck up. Shut your fucking mouth, right fucking now, or I’ll climb over this seat and shut it for you.” He started to say something smart-alecky, but I didn’t let him. “Don’t you wise-ass me, you little fucker. Do you understand? Do you hear me, you little cunt? Shut up. Shut. Up.

For the next hour dear Traven made exactly two sounds. Neither was very loud or particularly disturbing. Part of me hopes he had nightmares when he got home, about a fat bearded giant who wanted to throttle him; my Anti-Hagrid to his Anti-Harry.

When the movie was over, Traven’s mother thanked me again. She apologized for his behavior and finished up by saying “I just don’t know what to do with him.”

“How ‘bout next time you’re pregnant, you lay off the meth,” I responded.

Now, even a rock will have noticed how much my tantrum resembled Mrs. Katzenjammer’s in the first story. I am, apparently, turning into one of these people. All that’s left for me now, I guess, is to buy some Wranglers, a Tap-Out shirt, some long-cut Copenhagen and a goat to cornhole.

And that’s the latest from Freak Central. Please, someone rescue me, before it’s too late…


Thursday, April 21, 2011

These Are Not Intended to be Factual Statements

Thank the heavens for Arizona Senator John Kyl. He has opened a whole new and wonderful world of public discourse when he said that his asinine comments about Planned Parenthood were “Not intended to be a factual statement.” Because of his brave stance on what other, less-well-informed, people would call “lying,” it is now possible to stand up in front of the American people and say pretty much whatever comes trickling across your mind.

I have a few items of interest to impart, none of which are, of course, intended to be factual statements.

• That revolting thing on Donald Trump’s head is a Tribble.

• Rush Limbaugh plays violent S&M games with Beanie Babies.

• Michele Bachmann is amazed at the way rivers miraculously conform to state lines.

• “Every time a poor person dies, an angel gets its wings.” Christmas Eve at the Koch Brother’s house.

• Anne Coulter eats kittens. Raw. And when she is finished stripping each little carcass she cracks the bones with her teeth and sucks out the marrow.

• Pictures of cancer patients give Newt Gingrich a boner.

• Geraldo Rivera thinks John Wayne movies are documentaries.

• Sarah Palin has fangs in her honey-hole.

• Every member of the Arizona State Legislature is easily distracted by shiny things, like when cats watch a laser-pointer dot.

• Clarence Thomas has lawn jockeys in his yard.

• Larry, Mo and Curley, the three hosts of Fox & Friends, are the monstrous offspring of Kathy Lee Gifford and a Cabbage Patch Doll.

• Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker regularly has sex with boxes of aloe-infused Kleenex.

• Paul Ryan doesn’t have enough electricity in his head to fire up one of those potato clocks.

• Whenever Sean Hannity goes in a church the holy water boils.

• Glenn Beck thinks there are socialist messages encoded in the mating songs of humpback whales.

• Bill O’Reilly has a tattoo on his chest of Phyllis Schlafly wearing a strap-on.

• Brit Hume sells his blood to pay for illegal Canadian anti-wrinkle cream.

• The only way Karl Rove can achieve an orgasm is if the music from The Exorcist is playing.

• Pat Robertson’s secret NAMBLA web handle is “Slippery Fingers.”


• Ninety percent of the Tea Bagger’s yearly operating budget is ear-marked for the hunting down, stuffing and mounting of Mexicans.

Thanks again, Senator Kyl! And I hope you get help with that paint-huffing problem soon!


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Of Small Boats and Cows

There are certain people in the world who simply should not be left to their own devices out of doors or in the company of cows. I, as it happens, am one.

Recently, I entered into possession of an eight-foot aluminum johnboat. It’s hoary and dented and kind of crappy, but with its flat bottom and light weight, it’s the perfect vehicle for plying the winding, narrow, tree-limb-strewn waters of my favorite fishing hole. It’s major problem was that several hull rivets had become loose, allowing a completely unacceptable amount of water to gurgle in for a frolic. I asked around for advice on stemming the unwanted flow, and the consensus among people who are smarter about such things than I am was marine caulk; just put a dollop on top of each faulty rivet, let it cure, and see what happens. So, a few days ago, I performed the dolloping, and yesterday it was time for the maiden voyage of the newly refurbished good ship Lookslikeshit.

Now, I didn’t just shove the boat in the water and hop aboard, which, in light of what happened later, represents one of my few acts of good judgment. Instead, I dragged the boat to a level bit of shoreline, scooped water from the lake with an empty coffee can, and poured it in. A few short minutes monitoring, and…hey look at that! No leaks. Cool.

A quick word about the shoreline of this little lake. At the end where I was effecting repairs on the boat, the water is very shallow; the ground sloping gently downward from the bank for maybe fifteen feet before it drops off into deeper water. It’s also very muddy and peppered with hoof prints made by cattle coming down to the pond for a restorative slurp. A few hundred yards to the south the banks narrow into a sort of canyon, the remains of a very old creek. Here the bank has a steeper incline and the is water deeper, making it easier, I reasoned, to enter and exit the boat without getting overly cozy with the muddy bottom (it’s all thick and squelchy; that black muck that invades your skull with an entire battalion of hideous scents, and clings to your shoes like a frightened first-grader). So my plan was to schlep the boat down to the narrows, and set sail from there. Preparatory to the schlepping, I took my fishing pole and a small box of lures down to the presumptive embarkation point, and deposited them on the bank (the rest of my tackle I left in the repair area), so as not to be encumbered with too much stuff.

I lifted the Lookslikeshit and stared along the shore, not looking forward to the trip at all. And hindsight tells me that it was right about here that the day started going all sideways.

Hmmmm, I thought (or something to that effect). If I drag the boat down there across the uneven ground, I run the risk of ruining the work I did on the rivets, and if I flip the boat upside down it’s gonna bounce and rattle the whole way and I could damage the stern and who knows what else. With some rope, I could have floated the thing along, pulling it behind while I walked the along bank, but I didn’t have any rope. Better, I thought (or something to that effect) to just hop aboard right here and paddle down to where the banks narrow. And hey, if all went according to my mental blueprint, I would be able to grab my pole and get right to pestering the fish.

Now, in addition to rope, something else I didn’t have, I should mention at this point, was a paddle. (You can go ahead and wipe that smirk off your face right now.) But my six months of Boy Scout training kicked in, and I located a suitable substitute in the form of a thickish stick, about three feet long, with which I figured to row/pole my way through the shallows. So, feeling pleased with my ingenuity, and altogether the rugged man of action, I stepped carefully aboard the Lookslikeshit.

She wobbled freely from side to side, and my forward momentum pushed her away from the bank, the overall effect being that of a rubber duck in a Jacuzzi. Feeling almost completely at the mercy of the fickle laws of physics, I quickly sat down on the boat’s sternward bench and waited for things to stabilize.

There are all sorts of good reasons why you paddle a boat with a paddle and not with a thickish stick, the most basic of which is that thickish sticks, while thickish, are not so thick as paddles, rendering your progress rather slow. A particularly sluggish glacier would’ve moved at a friskier pace, but with some effort I managed to bob along in a positive direction.

Two calves wandered down to the water, presumably because they were thirsty, but all they did was look at me in that bovine way they have, until I got too close, startling them, and they ran back up the hill to the safety of their mothers. A small turtle poked its head up and gave me the ol’ reptilian once-over. (I can’t say for certain if it was the sociopathic beast that had plagued me in the past, but I wouldn’t be surprised.) Looking over the side of the boat I saw a happy sight; a small school of inch-long bass fingerlings. I’d been worried that the superabundance of turtles in the pond had been wrecking havoc with the yearly fish hatch, but at least this few had made it. A good omen for the future. If, of course, their cousins didn’t dine on them between times.

In any event, about ten minutes after setting sail I alit at my destination, pleased enough with the experience to take a crack at some actual fishing. But first I had to retrieve my gear. With a minimum of splashing and flailing, I maneuvered the Lookslikeshitaround and ran the stern (where I was sitting) toward the bank. It is in the nature of boats that they don’t really take to remaining stationary, and every time I went to stand up, this one skittled backward into deeper water. Three times this happened before I hit on the idea to jab my thickish stick into the bottom as a makeshift anchor. It worked well, until I had to let go of it to stand, at which point the boat and I once again went rocking and rolling off into deeper water in a funky sort of spin.

OK, I thought (or something to that effect), here’s what to do. Use the stick as a pole, build up some steam, and really plant the stern in the shallows. Then I can hop out before it can run off again.

You can’t really build up any decent momentum with a three-foot stick, thickish or otherwise, but I gave it a serious go. The stern oozed up into the mud and achieved a tentative brand of stasis. I lurched onto my knees, one hand on the port side of the boat and the other on the stick, and heaved myself upward and forward toward dry ground.

Two things happened at this point, and they got together and resulted in a third, larger thing.

The first thing was, the Lookslikeshit left the mud behind in a rush, aiming merrily for open seas, and the second thing was that the stick, with my weight pressing down on it, sank deeper into the mud and abruptly tilted sideways away from the boat. I tried to wrestle with the boat’s sudden violent motion, but I grossly overcompensated and—here’s the third, larger thing—flipped the boat upside down. And what’s really funny is that, as I spilled into the water, I yelled “Here we GO!”

I came up spluttering, with moss in my hair, but somehow with my sunglasses still firmly astride my face. Planting my feet on the bottom, I stood up in about four feet of water, which suddenly became five feet of water when I sank to the middle of my shins in goo. A few feet away, the Lookslikeshit was three-quarters of the way submerged, and striving with all its might to go all the way under. Hauling my feet from the muck, I grabbed the last remaining bit of metal still showing and dragged the boat ashore, where I heaved the traitorous vessel onto its starboard side and leaned it against a cottonwood stump to drain and dry.

Standing there dripping and spitting pond water, I was glad I had left my tackle behind. I don’t know if I could’ve faced, at that moment, having to go for a snorkel to retrieve my stuff. I wasn’t at all glad, however, to discover a few of the things I had brought along for the ride: my car remote, my wallet, my cigarettes, my Zippo, and my cell phone, all of which were now thoroughly water-logged. I began spreading these items out on a log in the sun, but stopped when I heard a noise from the high wall of the creek bed about twenty feet above.

Looking down at me, in perfectly symmetrical attitudes, were nine cows. About half of the group were calves. In so far as you can read a cow’s body language, I felt that these found my antics quite bemusing. “Hey down there,” they seemed to be saying. “Whatcha doin’? Looks all sortsa stoopid to us.”

A guy’s outlook is not improved in any way when he finds that he is viewed as an object of derision by cows.

“Go away,” I said. “Take a hike.” They steadfastly refused to hike, so I called them some rude names like Big Mac and Veal-on-the-Hoof. They still wouldn’t scram, but having zinged them with my wit and proven my intellectual superiority, I felt better.

The cows continued their observations as I continued laying out the contents of my pockets on the log; phone, bits of soggy paper from my wallet, etc. I blew the excess moisture from my Zippo, located the least sodden of my cigarettes, put fire to it, and inhaled several lungsful of pond-water-flavored tobacco. (Not all I had hoped from the experience, but in such circumstances we take what we are given.) Then I sat in the grass, kicked off my muddy tennies, and arranged myself in the sun to dry.

Eventually, the cows grew bored and went back to the business of being cows. It turned out, however, that they still had roles to play in the ongoing drama of my afternoon.

Perhaps an hour later I felt dry enough to sit in my car without befouling the upholstery, so I collected my fishing pole and small plastic tackle box, and headed back along the shoreline to tidy up the repair area, grab the rest of my things, and get the hell home. As soon as I rounded the bend, though, I saw immediately that things were amiss down there. The contents of my tackle box were strewn far and wide and the box itself, which is actually a Nylon bag, was smashed flat in the mud. Closer inspection revealed that all of my little plastic bins and boxes full of lures and hooks and things of that nature, were smeared with globs of frothy yellow-white foam. Calf snot. Thick as the meringue on a lemon pie. Some overly curious bovine wastrel had slobbered all over my stuff. And it had been there a while, too, a fact made plain by the general solidity of the slobber, and its obstinacy over being scraped off.

I wondered what had possessed the animal or animals to drool on my belongings, but ultimately lacked the energy for pondering the mental intricacies of cows, so I just shook the mud off the tackle box, crammed everything back inside, and tromped up the hill to my car. Arriving there, I found that my tackle box hadn’t been the only target of the foam-spewing beasts. Oklahoma is made up of red dirt, so cars are often coated with a layer of fine red dust. Mine was. But all up and down its sides, on the hatchback and the hood, there were damp streaks in the dust; swooshes and swirls of snot and gooey spittle.

The cows had been licking my car. Why? Who the hell knows. It’s white. Maybe they thought it was a giant salt-lick.

Muttering to myself, I stowed my tackle and got behind the wheel. I made a U-turn and started back toward the pasture gate, following a pair of well-worn tire ruts left there by years of farming activity. Up ahead, a single calf stood in the way. It was very small, and so obviously very new to the world. It stared at me as I approached. I slowed. It stared. I continued to slow. It continued to stare. I slowed to the point that I was moving at about a half-mile per hour, but still it seemed as though I was bearing down on the little idiot at speed. A moment later I could look into its eyes and it could look into mine. Then, finally, at the last possible second, the calf leaped out of the way. Well, I say “leaped” but that’s not entirely accurate. What it did was totally freak out. All four of its hooves came off the ground at once as it spun in mid-air and let out for friendlier environs, for someplace, perhaps, where giant salt-licks didn’t inexplicably attack innocent young cows.

He left me a parting gift too, the little bastard. Just as he spun out of the way and my car rolled by, he lifted his tail and jettisoned a great geyser of liquid brown shit all over the hood of my car. I mean like three gallons of it. It spattered the windshield and clogged the air vents, filling the car with the enticing aroma of digested cow-cake and wet hay. Coupled with the scents of pond water and black mud that already clung to me, the interior of my car now smelled like a redneck’s wedding reception.

I sighed—what else was I supposed to do?—unrolled the windows, and motored for home for a shower that lasted about ten months.

Is there a point to this story? Yes, I think so. Three of them, in fact.

The little boat is sea-worthy. I am a poor sailor. And cows do not like me.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Some Thoughts on "Intelligent" Design

Somehow, over the last fifty or so years, America has gone from being proud of its scientific knowledge and accomplishments, to being, at best, suspicious of science, and at worst, hostile toward it. Mostly, though, what Americans are is grossly ignorant of science. In 1997 we ranked 11th in the world. By 2007 we had dropped to 24th, well behind every other major country on the planet. (At the same time, when questioned about their self-esteem, 96 percent of American students now say that they are “special” and “important” people. In other words, they are really fond of themselves for no reason whatsoever.) Way too many people in this country today are better versed in those dimwitted Kardashian twats than they are in science, and that’s a sad, sad thing.

Anyway, it is no secret that among the major sciences none are treated with more fear and contempt by certain segments of American society than are the evolutionary sciences.

The attack on evolution is three-pronged. On the left, you’ve got the “postmodernists” (read: fatuous gasbags) relentlessly bloviating about the alleged subjectivity of facts. They desperately need evolution to be disproved, otherwise their entire philosophical project sinks into the sand on which it is built. Then on the right there are the creationists, blindly waving the bible and caterwauling in everybody’s face. (More on these guys below.) And in the middle, you’ve got a bunch of harried, three-job, parents who are too exhausted at the end of the day to adequately assist little Susie with her biology report. The most dangerous of these foes are, of course, the deceitful, frightened Christian hordes; the evangelical snake-talker types. Most parents, even the busiest, really do try to help their kids learn, and given how hard it is to earn a living today, we can cut them some slack. And as for the “postmodernists,” they are largely confined to college campuses where they can’t hurt anybody. The creationists, however, are well-funded, sneaky, and louder and more rank than Limbaugh’s OxyContin farts.

These days, the creationists’ favorite line of bullshit is to demand, shrilly and incessantly, like spoiled toddlers shrieking that they want a GODDAMN TRANSFORMER DOLL NOW!!! that schools “teach the controversy.” The “controversy” they refer to is the one they claim exists between evolution and Christianity. It is completely imaginary. Like angels, trickle-down economics and the Great Pumpkin, it exists only in the cobwebby recesses of their befuddled minds. “Teaching the controversy” is nothing more than an attempt, by a group of people who think the Dark Ages were a funky good time, to force Christianity into the classroom, in direct violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

But hey. Just to show how giving I can be (heh), I say this: teach creationism. Teach it in a religion studies class; teach it in a philosophy class; hell, teach it in a sociology class. Do not, however, teach it in a science class. Know why? Cuz it ain’t science, that’s why. Not even when you dress it up in its go-to-meetin clothes and call it “intelligent design (ID).”

ID exists only to disprove evolution. Its adherents perform no experiments. It’s doubtful they’ve ever even proposed one. They publish no peer-reviewed papers. To my knowledge, they have never penned a single document that wasn’t intended for dissemination strictly among members of their weird and narrow little club. They ignore the scientific method by coming to their conclusions first, then winnowing out a few bits of “data” to “support” their claims. They hate actual experts in the field, while at the same time nothing gives them a boner quite like quoting those same experts, albeit out of context, to bolster their “arguments.” Along those same lines, another of their favorite tactics is to cherry-pick information that is many decades out of date, such as the revolting role some evolutionists played in the eugenics movement, and present it as cutting-edge evolutionary thinking. For examples see Expelled, a propaganda piece funded and hosted by Ben Stein, wherein he informs us that “evolutionist” is code for “Nazi,” and every biologist in the world is lining up to open his own Death Camps R Us franchise. The out-of-context game in Expelled is so glaring that I made up a drinking game based on the movie’s innumerable goofy mistakes and inaccuracies. (Play it with shots and you’ll be shitfaced in about fifteen minutes.)

Another bit of chicanery ID-ers use to prop up their make-believe controversy is to play pocket-pool with the semantics of the word “theory.” Give an ID-er a dais and the first words out of his mouth will likely be “Evolution is only a theory!” Delete the word “only” and the doofus would be quite correct. Evolution is a theory. A damn good one, too, that is supported by millions of hours of experimental data and tens of thousands of items from the fossil record. (None of which can be said about the existence of god, by the way.) What our hypothetical ID-er means to howl is that “Evolution is only a hypothesis!” And no matter what you do with the word “only” he is utterly, completely, totally wrong. Of course, if he were to bawl “Intelligent design is only a hypothesis!” he would again be quite correct.

In any event, the ID crowd is up to their usual crap, with anti-science bills galumphing thick-wittedly through legislatures across the country—Tennessee, Oklahoma, Texas, Florida and Kentucky. (One in New Mexico was, thankfully, killed in committee in March.) Proponents of these laws want science teachers to show “both sides” of complex scientific issues. In other words: teach the “controversy.” Oddly (or perhaps not so much) the only scientific issues they consider “complex” enough to warrant instructing students in “both sides” are evolution, the chemical basis for human life, cloning and climate change. Not quantum mechanics, or superstrings, or chemical neurology. Just those areas that they believe will interfere with their ass-smooching the Invisible Sky Man. Now, do you think they are interested in what students learn or are they just playing politics? Golly, I wonder…

To sum up: There is no controversy. Creationists, you need to stop misleading people about it, not even the ones who are foaming at the mouth to be mislead. In fact, stop meddling in areas where you have no expertise, or even a limited amount of education. Go back to doing what you do best—making money and hiding in your caves from the lightning.


Friday, April 1, 2011

More Fun with Stupidity

It’s getting to the point that I don’t even want to look at the news on TV, read the online breakdowns, or turn on the radio, for fear of the unbelievable gibberish that comes shit-storming at my face in 3D and THX.

The Tea Baggers must be reaching some sort of Critical Mass of Stupidity. There simply can’t be that much more space in the public sphere to contain the river of molten idiocy they puke forth every day. Richard Nixon is probably thrashing in his grave like an electric weasel, screaming “I’m vindicated! I’m vindicated!,” thrilled by the knowledge that he is no longer the poster child for crooked, self-serving dementia.

President Michele Bachmann?
Oh my. For the most part the very idea gives me the creeping horrors, but that tiny sliver of anarchy deep in my heart really wants to bear witness to a train wreck of such epic proportions. But, here’s the main thing. I don’t want to be smarter than yet another president. Eight years under Shrub was more than plenty. My president doesn’t have to be a genius, but it’d be swell if he or she had, oh say, a 5th grader’s grasp of past and present events, so that he or she would have certain salient facts about American history immediately at hand. In the latest in a long, scary line of vapid comments, Bachmann, speaking to a ‘Bagger rally in Vermont, informed her audience that they were part of history since it was their state that hosted the “shot heard ‘round the world” at Lexington & Concord—which is, of course, in Massachusetts. Now, making such an idiotic gaff is forgivable—once—but Bachmann repeated her remarks, verbatim, the next day. Now, who was responsible, Bachmann herself or her staff? Knowing her inability to admit any wrong, I’m gonna go with Bachmann. She’s a salt-lick in a power suit.

Grand Delusions
As Palin’s presidential aspirations grow increasingly untenable (even traditional GOP-ers are coming to grips with the fact that she’s a dangerous basket case) ‘Bagger pundits are flailing around trying to re-spin her national profile. Their latest attempt is to claim that Sarah the Psycho shouldn’t become president, because it would be a step down for her. Anne Coulter, who herself is about one misfiring synapse shy of babbling in the streets and eating her own feces, said that in the role of kingmaker, Sarah is much more powerful than the President of the United States. See, it seems that President Obama was purely the creation of Oprah Winfrey, so with Oprah moving on to newer and better dog-and-pony shows, Palin is perfectly poised to take her spot, and do for ‘Baggers what Oprah has, allegedly, done for liberals. What kind of whack-job shit is that? The only kings Sarah Palin will ever make will be wearing crowns from Burger King. If she can keep her idiot flapping slug-tongue out of the deep-fat fryer. Bitch.

Virgil Peck: Peckerhead
Last week, this Kansas state representative suggested that the best way of dealing with his state’s illegal immigrant problem was to shoot them from helicopters like feral hogs. And he wasn’t, you know, just kiddin around. When asked to explain his madness he remained stiff in the face of outrage, saying he was simply “speaking like a person from south Kansas.” Really? I know at least ten people who live in south Kansas, and not one of them would say anything that COMPLETELY, SATANICALLY, FUCKING WRONG! Virgil, ol pal, ol buddy, you are a worthless slice of Klanicana. Normal society has more use for colorectal cancer than it has for you. Get fucked you sick bastard.

The Dish on Guns in Montana
A Radio Shack super store in Hamilton, Montana, really wants people to subscribe to Dish Network. To boost orders, the sign out front of their store offers prospective customers the following enticement: “Protect Yourself with Dish Network. Sign Up Now Get Free Gun.” We all know that guns give Montanans a big stiffy, but damn. And it’s also true than many of us who have been forced to slog through the hateful quagmire that is Dish Network customer service have wished we had a gun, but damn. I mean doesn’t it seem that the very sort of people who would cash in on this sort of offer—militia types and so on—are the very sorts of people we really don’t want bustling about the countryside fully armed? Just asking.

John Stossel is a Giant Pussy
It seems that the Bureau of Indian Affairs is looking to hire someone to manage their Facebook operations. The job will pay, depending upon experience, around $115,000. This led FOX News commentator (read: purveyor of bullshit) John Stossel to declare that Indians are the most coddled group in America. Uh, OK. For real? More coddled than Wall Street executives? More coddled than the auto industry? But whatever. I had been laboring under the false, if happy, assumption that Stossel had slithered back under his rock never to return, yet here he is again, Freddie Mercury moustache and all. Alas, however, his greatest televised moment is well behind him. Back in 1985, Stossel was “breaking” the “incredible story” that professional wrestling is fixed. (My God, what a staggering intellect…) He got in Dave “Dr. D” Shultz’s face about the industry’s fakery. Shultz slapped the living shit out of him, and he cried like a little girl. Predictably, Stossel sued. Even more predictably, he won. That still doesn’t make him any less than what he was and what he remains: a GIANT PUSSY. C’mon, John. Scrape the sand out of your vag and join the real world.

And a Note About Liberal Bullshit: The San Francisco Meat Cutter
Just to show I’m not completely biased, I’d like to close by attacking a douchebag named Lloyd Schofield. He’s running rampant in San Francisco, circulating a petition to get a law on the November ballot to ban male circumcision in the city, an act he refers to as “genital mutilation.” Let’s go ahead and pass over what this law might mean to the Jewish community (“pass over” get it?), and to those who are simply interested in good hygiene, as well as the fact that circumcision becomes way more painful and dangerous the older a fella gets. Frankly, my biggest problem with this bullshit runs along these lines: with everything that’s going on in the country—anti-union hysteria, FOX “News,” the ‘Baggers ongoing jihad against everybody not like them, an earning disparity that makes ancient Rome look like a Marxist’s wet dream—and this, THIS, is what Lloyd Schofield wants to squander his time on?? If liberals are going to effect any real change in America, we have got to get OUR SHIT STRAIGHT! Pick fights that are worth fighting, otherwise you’re just jerking off. JESUS CHRIST! Lloyd Schofield, you sir are a fuckwit.

And that’s it for now. I’m all out of breath and in desperate need of many, many cocktails.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

The 10 Best TV Shows EVER!

My last communication got me in some trouble. (Who knew there were so many Bristol Palin fans out there.) So, I decided to undertake a safer topic this time around. Television. Most of it sucks more ass than Sasha Gray, but occasionally—just occasionally—a show trickles out on the airwaves that deserves a place in history.

So, in no special order, here are the 10 best television programs of all time. Read em and weep.

The West Wing (1999-2006)
Featuring what is arguably the best writing ever on television, especially the dialogue, West Wing also demonstrated a laudable civic-mindedness that has never appeared on TV. Viewers were treated to a lesson in democratic governance in almost every episode. Add in the fact that it had a sublime sense of humor, and the entire combination made for TV nirvana. It was sometimes corny, sure, and more than a bit idealized, but given the current state of our political discourse, it’s nice to reflect from time to time on what might be.

I Love Lucy (1951-1957)
A groundbreaking TV comedy, Lucy solidified the three-camera production format, and was the most-watched show in America for four years running. It’s best comedic bits fare just fine today. Among the finest are: “Lucy Does a TV Commercial” where she gets loaded on Vitameatavegamin (“Are you unpoopular? Do you pop out at parties?”), “Job Switching” where Lucy and Ethel can’t keep up on the chocolate candy assembly line and start stuffing the excess candies in their mouths; Lucy’s classic “mirror” routine with Harpo Marx; and “Lucy Does the Tango” which was responsible for the longest recorded live laugh in TV history. Netflix the first four seasons ASAP.

South Park (1997-present)
Rude, crude and socially unacceptable, the show was once referred to as a “threat to American democracy.” It’s also sly, clever, irreverent, socially relevant and, entering its fifteenth season, still freakin hysterical. Trey Parker and Matt Stone, bless you boys. Red rocket! Red rocket!

The Sopranos (1999-2007)
Quality writing and some of the finest acting in the history of the medium (though I worry that Gandolfini will be able to escape Tony’s shadow). It managed the amazing feat of getting viewers to turn in week after week to watch the actions of a group of sociopathic morons—and to care about them. It also had a demented sense of humor (“Pine Barrens,” the episode where Paulie and Christopher get lost in the woods, is sublime). Mafia pop-culture on a par with The Godfather movies and Goodfellas.

Battlestar Galactica (2003-2009)
For five seasons this was the smartest show on TV. It went places few shows have gone, asking important questions about religion and the nature of life, without becoming pedantic, losing its fast pace, or scrimping on the action. Gaius Baltar was, I believe, a dream role for an actor, and one of the most intricate characters on TV. Plus, Katee Sackhoff is a full-on scorch-cake. Smarts and hotties. What more could anyone want?

Hill Street Blues (1981-1987)
The first major offering from Steven Bochco, HSB completely revolutionized the cop drama by presenting cops and their jobs in a much more realistic light. It plays a tad dated today (“Drop the gun, you turkey!”) but its grittiness was considered downright offensive by some pundits when it debuted. The acting was superior, and several characters—DA Joyce Davenport, Captain Frank Furillo, Detective Mick Belker and Officer Andy Renko—are now icons of ‘80s TV. Sadly, due to legal wrangling, only seasons 1 & 2 are currently available on DVD. I wish FOX would get off its ass and get the remaining seasons ready to go. “Hey, let’s be careful out there.”

The Bob Newhart Show (1972-1978)
I personally think Bob Newhart is one of the funniest humans ever. His dead-pan delivery can render even a silly line a thing of comedic beauty. Many of the show’s best moments came in the office scenes (Newhart, you’ll recall, played a psychologist) and his endless stream of goofy patients, notably the sarcastic Mr. Carlin, as well as Newhart’s office-mate, Jerry the dentist, and the secretary Carol Kestrel, played by the wonderful Marcia Wallace of later Simpsons fame. Watching Newhart do his classic bits on the telephone makes the world a little bit sunnier.

The Ernie Kovacs Show (1952-1956)
Only after his death did the world wake up to the genius that was Ernie Kovacs. His show broke all kinds of new ground and his surreal, visual style influenced, among others, Dan Rowan & Dick Martin, the members of Monty Python and Saturday Night Live (especially Chevy Chase), and, in a big way, Sesame Street. Lots of Kovacs’ work was ad-libbed, born of his creative philosophy: “I do my best work when it’s three o’clock and I have a production meeting at three-thirty.” Words to live by.

Monty Python’s Flying Circus (1969-1974)
What is there to say? When you mention “British Comedy,” it’s the Pythons who first spring to mind. They are responsible for more giggles than most other TV comedies combined. It’s hard to trace their influence, though you can hear their echoes in the work of Douglas Adams, Rowan Atkinson, The Kids in the Hall, and, albeit in a much more ham-fisted and less witty vein, Will Ferrell. But they were, and remain, pretty much beyond anything but direct imitation. The years of the Pythons formed a perfect storm of comedy perfection.

The Daily Show (1996-present)
Some might argue that the show’s success is a troubling development in our country, seeing as how it’s one of the only sources of edgy political commentary on the air. During the bleak Bush years, the Daily Show did the work that should have been done by our national news media. And that is sad. But the show is also damn smart and damn funny. Here’s to another fifteen years.

And the Most Overrated:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
     Ruined vampires for the whole world.

     The six most annoying people in the whole world.

Twin Peaks
     Good twitchy fun for over-caffeinated semiotics majors.

     It’s physically impossible for me to suspend my disbelief to the degree required to watch this.

American Idol
     Scales aren’t singing. Anti-art trash. (Except for Jennifer Hudson.)

Jersey Shore
     The next six most annoying people in the world. I just keep whispering shark attack to myself. And smiling.

Six Feet Under
     Characters with lives even more morose than death. It’s enough to make Baal suck on a shotgun.

Desperate Housewives
     Why are they desperate? Cuz that’s the only emotion their programmers loaded in them.

Sex and the City
     They never find true love because they are self-centered, shallow, vapid idiots.

The X-Files
     Treating logic and reason like Booth treated Lincoln.

Til next time, friends: treat yourself to some good TV.

Oh, and by the way, Bristol Palin is still a cum-belching gutter slut.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

When Did Stupidity Become a Virtue?

I try to be a reasonable guy. You know, think carefully, weigh my words, see varying sides to an issue, attempt to debate in rational way by skipping the hyperbole, etc.

Well, not anymore. I’ve had a few cocktails, and I feel like screaming about a few things.

There’s shit going on in this country that boggles my fucking mind. When did stupidity become a virtue? FUCK!

Mike Huckabee & Michael Medved

This pair of fuckwits spent March 4th bashing Natalie Portman for being pregnant out of wedlock, and for having to audacity to appear at the Oscars in her inflated state. Seems Ms. Portman (who is engaged, if that matters), is setting a bad example. “It's unfortunate” Huckabitch said, “that we glorify and glamorize the idea of out-of-wedlock children,” before going on to call such women no only unwed, but uneducated and unemployable.

Where were these two elephant dicks when Bristol Palin was dragging her fat, pregnant, out-of-wedlock ass all over the country? Contrary to Natalie Portman, Bristol is uneducated and unemployable. Portman has something real and wonderful to offer the world. Bristol Palin is a waste of mass and density that could surely be put to better use at a hog farm. Fuck that skanky cunt.

And fuck the elephant dick twins, too.

Scott Walker

When he’s not busy getting a reach-around from the Koch brothers, he’s busy lying his fucking eyes out. Hey, Governor Douchebag: Public sector workers make far less money than those in the private sector. Look at the studies. Look at your own state’s payroll and do a comparison. Or, hell, ask a twelve-year-old. You could even ask the guy who punked you on the phone and let us see your true, despicable colors.

I mean, talk about abuse of power! This weasely little twat sicced the Wisconsin State Patrol on the 14 democratic patriots who are holding up his foul, anti-worker legislation, and when that didn’t work, he tried to issue arrest warrants for them! And now he has threatened to lay off 1,500 state employees if the senators do not return to Madison. What a colossal prick.

But here’s the thing: If you like a 40-hour work week and an eight-hour day, thank a union. If you are one of those rare Americans who make a living wage, thank a union. If you get overtime pay, thank a union. If your company picks up some or all of your health insurance, thank a union. If you enjoy the occasional paid holiday, thank a union. If you got decent job training, thank a union. If your company offers a pension plan, thank a union.

If you do not like these things, thank people like Scott Walker and his un-American, atavistic, Tea Bagger, leash-holders.

Scott Walker: You are a ridiculous buffoon. You are a joke. You are undeserving of what America has to offer. No matter how wide the Koch Brothers stretch your anus.

Rev. Grant Storms

Another of the “God hates fags” kind of Christian, the good reverend from Louisiana loves to arm his flock with bullhorns so they can disrupt gay-pride events and funerals. I wonder what his “God” has to say about fucking pedophiles? He’d better be wondering, too, seeing as he got busted this week for masturbating in his van while watching children playing on a merry-go-round. In true Christian fashion, his supporters were quick to come to Storms’ defense. It seems that he merely had to have a pee and chose to urinate in a bottle rather than walk to a restroom. Yeah, well, guess what? Two different people witnessed, up close and oh-so-horribly personal, Storms choking his wrinkly chicken. He's guilty. He's a scumbag.

Fuck him and fuck his scraggly-ass, cracker God.

John Boehner

What can you say? The man in an emotionally unstable train wreck. He cries all the time. I’m all for a good old-fashioned vent, but come on. There’s venting, and then there’s the fucking abyss. My 84-year-old Uncle, a combat helicopter pilot and rancher, refers to Boehner as that "Yellow Man.” Truer words have never been spoken. And just once, wouldn’t you like to see the Weeper of the House get all wet-eyed over something worth-while? For poor people he has nothing but loathing, but a picture of an apple pie superimposed over a waving American flag sends him into paroxysms of soggy emotion.

If he’s faking, he’s a loathsome toad. If it’s all on the up-and-up, he’s a fucking basket case.

And either way, America deserves better.

Congressman Paul Broun

Last week, this Georgia ‘Bagger held a town hall meeting, during which one of his inbred constituents asked “Who’s going to shoot Obama?” Instead of jumping down the guy’s throat for threatening to assassinate the President, he simply oozed on by and continued taking questions. Oh, he was upset, though. He claims. So upset, in fact, it took him three fucking days to come out and say so. Three days. What was he doing during that time? He was paralyzed with shock, I guess. Or, and this is mere speculation, of course, could it have been the three days of public outcry that finally got him off his worthless ass? Hmmmm. Guess we’ll never know.

Is Paul Broun the sort of man we want leading our nation? Of course not.

Paul Broun isn’t the sort of man I want washing my car.

The Tea Party vs. The Founding Fathers

The Tea Baggers have pick-pocketed the name of their “movement” from a seminal event in American History, and they giggle like little girls when comparing themselves to the Founding Fathers.

Here’s a news flash for ya, dickheads: the Founding Fathers would’ve hated you. Our Founders were the very definition of the “elites” that ‘Baggers hold in such black esteem. They were some of the best minds in the Western world—statesmen, orators, inventors, philosophers, scientists—and they would’ve seen you for exactly what you are: rubes—disinterested, sloppy-minded, uncurious, arrogant rubes. Hillbillies in BMWs; klanners gone Wall Street.

Some poll results came out over the weekend indicating that the ‘Baggers now see themselves as an oppressed minority. I’m sorry that was my bad ear. White middle-class men an oppressed minority? Guys: you aren’t oppressed, you are the oppressors.

If you “Baggers love America as much as you claim (and as much as Boehner snivels), stop dividing it. Stop applauding the stupid and reviling the intelligent. Grow some better expectations. Join the democracy.

Or, you know, you can always go fuck your mother.


(That’s Foreign-Talk for goodbye…)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Adventures with Nature, Part II

Once again, I find my thoughts turning to our furry chums in the animal world. This time, though, I’m not interested in how the redneck doofwads around here treat them, but more in the critters themselves. How they behave, to be exact. Puzzling out what motivates their often mysterious and weird behaviors is a constant source of happiness for me. Yeah, I’m a geek. So what.

The Great Polecat Massacree

I had reason to leave my little town this week for a drive down to the throbbing, visceral metropolis of Oklahoma City. Couple of hours there, couple of hours back. No biggie. It’s an easy drive along friendly roads. Easy for me, at least. I’d wager that the local skunk population, if polled, would offer a different and much darker view of the thing. See, over the course of my drive I counted no fewer than twenty-one dead skunks on the road.

Roadkill is far from unusual here in Oklahoma (it is, I believe, the State Animal), but the only dead beasts I saw were skunks. There wasn’t a single porcupine, raccoon, armadillo, or deer to be seen. I saw three in one 150-yard stretch of highway. What exactly is happening with les skunks de pew?

Driving along, I formed, and rejected, numerous hypotheses. Just for fun. An outbreak of suicidal stupidity in the polecat community? Nah. Daredevil teenaged skunks playing chicken with the iron horses? Nah. A mass migration—a sort of new Okie Land Rush—waddling forth to establish a new Skunk Frontier? Nah, and nah again.

The answer, I think, is fairly simple. We had a cold spell a few weeks ago where temperatures quite unreasonably refused to climb above single digits. When that pattern broke, the highs abruptly soared into the seventies. Trees started to bud and the wheat fields sprouted a carpet of green fuzz. Spring is awake and stretching the kinks from her muscles, even if, according to the calendar, she’s just a hair premature.

Ma Nature’s precipitate arrival has roused the local skunk population from its long winter doze, and the first thing on the minds of newly-awakened mammals is finding some nosh, followed immediately by getting busy making more mammals.

Skunk populations rise and fall naturally, due to all sorts of factors, and they occasionally spike, which is what seems to be happening now, leaving us with a surplus of the randy little stinkpots, all of them rampaging around looking for groceries and a bit of the ol’ slap-n-tickle. Their pursuits lead them far and wide, which means encountering the random motorway or two, and, well, the rest is street-pizza.

And there it is—the Great Polecat Massacree, explained.

I guess.

Leapin’ Largemouths

I’ve mentioned in past missives that my favorite Aunt and Uncle own a farm near my little town, and on that farm is a marvelous spring-fed pond, where, since I was six years old, I’ve spent as much time as humanly possibly, extracting largemouth bass.

Over the years I’ve noticed a growing predilection among the piscine masses. After you hook them, they jump. Just like they do on those goofy Saturday afternoon programs ESPN 27 shows in between the slam-dunk challenge for the infirm and extreme curling from Zimbabwe. They used to jump every so often, but rarely with much gusto. Nowadays, them come clean out of the water, shaking and thrashing like Fred Phelps at a drag club.

What we have here is an example of, not adaptation, but evolution in action. Non-jumping fish are more easily captured than their jumping brethren. When a fish jumps it lessens the tension on the line, making it easier to shake free of the hook. Getting off the hook means staying out of the fry-pan. So, the instinct to jump is a valuable one to have for a fish who wishes to hang around a while longer, engaging in his fishy business. One of the more vital items on a fish’s agenda is getting together with a fetching lady fish and cranking out a school of fingerlings. Jumping fish are more likely to stay waterbound long enough to accomplish the task, at which time they genetically pass the jumping behavior along to their young ‘uns. And so it goes, until you get a pond full of harder-to-land jumping bass, and thus a healthier local ecosystem all the way around.

I am willing to admit, however, that they might just be acting smart-alecky. You know how fish can be…

The Sociopathic Turtle

The ponds and rivers of Oklahoma are rife with turtles. We have ordinary (read: non-alligator) snapping turtles, unbelievably ugly smooth softshells (they look like slimy brown cake platters with clawed feet), and, the most common of the bunch, red-eared sliders.

Every healthy waterhole needs a few turtles (not to mention frogs, mosquitos, fish and predatory mammals and birds). But let me stress the word few. Too many turtles and they throw the whole balance of the place out of whack. They eat carrion, which is all to the good, but they also feast on fish eggs; can’t get enough of ‘em. Their dining habits can all but depopulate a fishing hole in no time. So I’m a bit ambivalent on the testudines. Though I remain openly hostile toward one particular member of the order.

One bright afternoon I was standing in my favorite spot on the shore of my Uncle’s pond, casting and reeling, casting and reeling. I was using a rubber lure, designed to look like an immature bass-trout-perch, and its action in the water imitated a wounded fish. Silly as they sound, they are pretty effective—and at $6 each, they’d better be. Some few minutes had elapsed between strikes, and I let the lure come to rest in a couple of inches of water at my feet while I lit a smoke. In the time it took me to tug a cigarette from the pack and put fire to it, a red-eared slider glided up from the muck, homed in on the lure, and, with one snap of its scaly beak, bit it in half.

“Hey!” I hollered. “You little bastard.” And I swatted him with the tip of my pole, which sent him flailing back into the deeps—like most living things, turtles look completely ridiculous when they hurry—the tail end of the rubber fish flapping in its jaws.

I examined my exenterated lure, chalked it in the loss column, and fitted another like it onto the swivel. Aiming for a new patch of shoreline, I maneuvered along the bank about fifty yards, and started casting again. No more than two minutes expired before I happened to glance down at the water beneath me, and there he was. That same damn turtle; looking up at me with his oil-bead eyes. How’d I know it was the same turtle? Don’t they all look alike? In their gross anatomy, yes, they do, but since they spend most of their time frolicking in the bottom-ooze, they often develop individualized patterns of moss on their shells. The Lure Biter had a distinct scalloped-shaped design in the back half of his carapace. Oh, it was him, alright.

And he seemed to be waiting for another snack.

“Piss off,” I said. He did not. “Go on. I got nothin’ for ya.”

I moved another few feet along. He followed, never lowering his head below the surface. I moved again. So did he. I threw a stick at him. He pinwheeled away. I relocated. He returned. I cursed at him. He remained unfazed. This went on for—I kid you not—nearly 45 minutes, as I fished my way around the pond. If my lure came near him, he attacked. If it slowed in the shallows, he went for it like a homing reptile. Once I got him to crawl all the way onto the bank by twitching the rubber fish along in front of him through the mud, at which point I pinged a rock off his shell and he left me alone…for nearly three minutes.

By this time he’d twisted my entire angling outlook sideways. I was being stalked by a turtle. I couldn’t concentrate on accuracy or control because I kept watching for his inevitable return. And though I am not proud of what happened next, it is what happened. Back at my tacklebox, I rummaged my .22 revolver from its leather holster and waited, turtlecide on my mind.
He appeared only moments later, totally unaware of his impending journey to Turtle Heaven. I raised the pistol…

…and my phone rang.

It was my good friend Cal. We chatted for a few minutes (the turtle maintained his ceaseless vigilance) before she asked why I sounded distracted. I explained about my harasser, and she burst out laughing (which is what I should’ve been doing), and said “Oh, that’s so cute! You have a friend!”

“I don’t want a friend,” I said. “I have all of those I require.”

We went on for some few minutes debating the pro and cons of turtle camaraderie, until I came to my senses. That turtle should thank Cal for saving his reptilian biscuits.

I’ve fished that pond two dozen times since first meeting the sociopathic young Yertle, and I’ve seen him almost every time. Seen him, yes, but not been stalked by him. These days he ignores me totally. Once, when the fish weren’t biting I tried to entice him with a rubber fish, but he was having none of it. Disdain, about sums it up.

If there’s an explanation for his behavior on that singularly bizarre afternoon, I’m damned if I know what it is. I’m guessing he was just really hungry. If that’s the case, I’m glad they don’t hunt in packs. It has ‘70s B-movie written all over it. And I'm not sure I'm in good enough shape to outrun a turtle...