30 December 2005


Is King Kong gonna hafta choke a bitch? Posted by Picasa


There are just two words you have to say to get me into a theater: giant monkey.

To put a capper on the Christmas holiday, I finally went to see King Kong (reasoning that the holiday crowds were gone by now) and lemme tell ya this: it rules. ROOLZ! Yeah, the story is poop. Yeah, Naomi Watts and Adrian Brody need some real dialogue. And maybe a sandwich or something. Christ, those people are thin! And yeah, the monkey dies. But WOW! And HEY! And SHEEZUS H, HOWDEYDOODAT? Here's my synopsis:

King Kong (not his real name), is one endangered-all-to-hell species who lives on the last stick of land on the ass-end of the South Pacific (the ocean, not the musical). His neighborhood sucks, populated as it is with rabid dinosaurs, surly giant bats; and louche, insalubrious aborigines who need a serious bubble-bath and some third-degree orthodonture...and perhaps a good creme rinse. In short: real estate prices on Skull Island must be at an all-time low. And the only job that Kong can find is to kick loads of giant lizard ass day in and day out. Reminds me of our boyhood in the 313. Hard times, to be sure.

Along comes a group of well-meaning honkies with a movie camera and about three gross of Tommy guns. Together they decide that what Kong really needs is to be bused to a better neighborhood. (Again, reminding me of our youth in the 313.) Since the crew fails to establish a simple, congenial dialogue with the giant ape, they resort to the two weapons that have been the cornerstone of every American military campaign: poontang and firewater. Distracted by the willowy form of a breathless honkette, Kong is subdued when the crew's cockswain slam-dunks a jug of Thunderbird into his snout.

Cut to midtown Manhattan. (You call this a better neighborhood?) Kong has now been hornswoggled into working as a backup singer for a minstrel show. Oh, the sheer indignity of it all! Woefully underpaid, and unable to locate his Actor's Equity representative, Kong abandons the gig halfway through, deciding to take his talents to a theater where they'll really be appreciated.

On his way to the Apollo, woefully unaware of the city ordinance regarding unescorted apes on the upper east side after 10PM, Kong gets himself in Dutch with a hilariously quaint 1930's edition of the US Mechanized Cavalry. A heated confrontation ensues. You get the feeling that what Kong would really like to do is crap in his paw and send a monkey turd the size of a metro bus rocketing at that truckload of Army chumps at about Mach 3. (That would've been some OSSUM footage!) But no, what a bruthuh really wants is to get five minutes with his girlie, so he opts to go ice skating in Central Park...where it's safe and quiet.

As whitey is compelled by his evil nature to always keep a good man down, the cavalry drives Kong and his homechicken out of Central Park and up to the penthouse of the Empire State Building. Again, unaware of the city ordinance regarding giant apes in the high rent district, the mayor's airborne goon squad punctuates the letter of the law with a hail of bullets. The big monkey gets not one but several "caps" in his "ass", and does his best impression of Greg Lougainis in the throes of narcolepsy as he plunges to his death. Boo hoo. The End.

I know I probably just ruined the whole thing by giving the plot away, but go see it anyway! S'good! Giant monkey! GIANT MONKEY!

Cheers, and give my best to Marie.


27 December 2005

Baby Jesus Is The Antichrist

Baby Jesus: Strap on a coupla horns and he's good to go. Posted by Picasa


A perfectly horrifying thought crossed my mind over the holidays. No, not the one about how Regis Philbin may actually be a puppet run by a gang of reprobate squirrels. The other one - the one where Baby Jesus is actually the embodiment of evil.

Think about it. During what time of year are more families and wigs torn asunder than any other? Yeah, that's right. Christmas. It is the season when the meekest of us become whiskey-fueled, wig-rending psychopaths. SUVs, chock-a-block full with holiday shoppers sport bumper stickers that read "I'd Step On Your Mom's Throat To Get A Great Deal On A Tickle Me Elmo At Wal-Mart!"

And what spirit provides the fuel for this season of revelry? Baby Jesus. Ergo? Yes. Ergo. And that is exactly my point.

Baby Jesus: Yo, Mister Potato Head! Ready to bend to my evil will?
Santa: Yes, my Dark Master. Posted by Picasa

Go ahead. Defy my perfectly circular logic. Have you ever seen two Baby Jesii in the same place at the same time? No. You have not. And you will not. Not unless they're stuffed. Or replicas. The kind of replicas with Cameras for Eyes that send Communiques back to the Factory! And then the Filthy Bottom will send His Dark Agents to Poison My Food! Igor! Bring me the ether! Sswwwffffft!

Much better. Now where was I?

Oh yes. We were talking about Christmas Dinner with the family. It went just fine, except that I think I had way too much coffee beforehand and afterhand and inbetweenhand and may still be suffering the effects of caffeine-induced toxic psychosis. And I've had tons of sugar in the past few days. I'm not too sure if I'm not sleeping at all or actually sleeping a lot faster than I used to. My gums - if you can call them that - are complaining bitterly about the truckloads of Italian nougat that I've been shoveling past them. And here's the kicker: I've been losing weight. I lost 1-2/3rds man teat in the week leading up to Christmas. But then again I've been both working out at the IMA quite a bit and badgering my wife. Wife-badgering, if you haven't tried it yet, is an excellent means of burning excess calories, although it does come with the risk of the wife getting fed up with your juvenile shenanigans and driving a stake of holly through your heart on Christmas night.

Look, before you click that little X in the upper right hand corner of your browser and close this window forever, I really do have a point. And that point is that I discovered this holiday season that certain emotional episodes may be the result of the emotional interpretation of bodily sensations brought about by diet. To wit, caffeine making a neurotic person's heart go pitter-pat might make them believe that there was something wrong with them physically, and then cause them a great deal of stress which they in turn take out on the family, the in-laws, the dog and whatever. Even people who otherwise have a great deal of emotional integrity might snap under the onslaught of increased sugar and caffeine intake combined with holiday stressors. So my theory is that it's not just the holiday that stresses people out and makes them into a bunch of emotional weirdos. It's the added crappy food/lotsa sugar/loads of caffeine thing that causes otherwise tender, loving hands to curl into the wig-rending talons of the Holiday Harpie. So - long story short - if you're a bona fide nut like me, there are more reasons to watch you diet over the holidays than just keeping your girlish figure.

And if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go back to weeping like a wee bairn - for no particular reason.

Cheers, and give my best to Marie.


13 December 2005

My Brain Has Turned To Creamed Fucking Corn

Henry Rollins demonstrates the benefits of Neck Farming. Posted by Picasa


I don't know what you do all day other than sit around and think up novel ways to not respond to my letters. Oh wait - that's right. You invent stuff. Each day you chisel a larger niche for yourself in the abbey of history. Whereas I sit around all day and try to think up novel ways of getting people to buy stuff they could probably do without. Barring that, I at least try to write mass marketing emails that get read before they get deleted. So therein lies the difference between us: you have lofty goals, whereas I would be happy if my goals reached as high as the crown molding in a dormouse's terlit room.

Which brings me to my next point which is that I don't have one. The wife? Fine. Kid? Awesome. Work? Same as always. And I've had some pretty fun holiday gatherings so far. So why do I feel like I'm up to my neck in cement?

So speaking of neck, there is something I have been doing, which is to do some neck-farming down at the Intramural Athletic center at the University of Washington. I have spousal privileges there since Teresa is an employee of the UW. So I've been down there hitting the plates a few times a week and am becoming rather a fetching and well-muscled (albeit hairless) beeve. (That's an archaic term for beef cattle, in case you do something other than sit around and read the dictionary whilst avoiding work.) The IMA is just about the nicest health club I've ever been to. It has plenty of space, plenty of high-tech machines, and surprisingly little cock-ogling going on in the sauna. Yeah, I know that sounds crass, but what is it about guys that makes them want to stare at another guy's Ben Johnson just because? And it's always the old farts, the tenured faculty who are staring at your nether parts wistfully as though the were remembering that they had one once. I swear to Buffo Guatto, the next Professor EuroGeeze who stares at my bits is going to be asked in no uncertain terms to buy me flowers first. But still, it's nothing like the downtown YMCA, where tonsil jousting carried on day and night with complete impunity.

Okay, so there's that. And then there's football...oh wait, did I just put you to sleep? FOOTBALL! I recently got to meet Jerramy Stevens, a Hawks tight end, and a little slip of a fellow at 6'7" and 265 (about 14 and 3/4ths stone if you're Scottish). Both he and several other of his Gridiron Brethren came back this year with full-on Amish style beards. Perhaps it is the God-fearing, clean-living ways of the Amish that enables these mastodons to perform at the height of their game (4AM! Time for milking!). Speaking of which, you'll be overjoyed to hear that the Seahawks are doing quite well, have won their division, and have the #1 win-loss record in the NFC right now at 11-2. They've scored 83 points in their last 2 games, shutting out the Eagles on Monday Night Football 42-0, and cracking the 'nards of the 49ers six days later at 41-3. So yeah, it's a good time to be a Seahawks fan, and I'm happy to have made it to 2 of the last 3 games. Still, we get NO FREAKING LOVE WHATSOEVER from the press, one MegaDullard even going so far as to say "we don't know much about them way up there in the Pacific Northwest", neverminding the fact that there are such newfangled things nowadays as the Televisory Unit, the Home Telephonic Transceiver and the InterWeb whereby people can converse 'round the globe as though they were in the very same room!

I would say "I digress", but then that begs the question from what.

So with that said, I'm glad we had this chat.

Cheers, and give my best to Marie.


08 December 2005

Who Is Warren Christmas?

Il Natale di Buffo Guatto: Gloria im Extupido! Posted by Picasa


You know I never use my letters to talk about the media and current events. I believe that both of those things are like boils and will go away eventually, no matter how bothersome they are at the moment. There's just this one thing that has me freakin' boggled. It's one of those times when you've just stopped paying attention because you thought it couldn't possibly get more ridiculous than this, that human beings can't possibly be that retarded en masse. And right about then, they go and raise the bar - practically build a damn monument to Buffo Guatto, the God of Stupidity. (I just made that shit up. There wasn't a Buffo Guatto until sentence before last. But you can rest assured that he just popped into existence on some corner of the universe, most likely at the corner of Mullet and Meathead in Philadelphia, PA.)

The War on Christmas? I'm agape. I can't even get upset over this one. It's too friggin stupid to believe. And yet it gets enormous airplay on Fox. Then again, enormous airplay on Fox is probably the metric by which all stupendous obtusery should be measured. "Did it play on Fox? How much? Well there you go."

Last night on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart copped to it. He and he alone is the enemy in the War on Christmas. And he "will not rest until every year families gather to spend December 25th together at Osama's homo-abortion-pot-and-commie-jizzporium". So there's something to look forward to, certainly.

Okay, but that's not even the best part. Henry Ford pulled this same BS back in the 20s (blaming the Jews), and The John Birch Society, too busy being dicks to come up with an original idea, recycled it in 1959 (blaming the Reds). And then, Bill O'Reilly, taking the ball from - oh what's his name - Zipperhead McDouchebag, the guy who wrote the book - goes and blames the lib-brrlz. My question to Mister O'Reilly is this: do you just not have enough spine to blame, say, the Negroes? Or the Guineas? Or the Beaners? C'mon. At least take a swing at some segment of society that isn't imaginary. Blame the Lithuanians. But he won't, and you know why? Because all of the aforementioned groups are armed. They have zero shit tolerance. They will kick, cut, split, and stack thirty cords of his honky ass and burn it in the pot-bellied stove to offset their heating bills this winter. (O'Reilly fully realizes how much ass he has, owns oil stocks, and therefore fears this.)

Okay. So. Anyway. Screw all that. If we wanna go back far enough, the mere celebration of Christmas is in point of fact a War on Yule. Remember: Christmas is a Christian perversion/subversion of that pagan holiday. Ergo, if you really wanna have a War on Christmas, celebrate Yule. You get to burn stuff, drink stuff, and do the nasty (required). How ossum is that? So strap on a set of horns, quaff some ale, and get as snockered as Buffo Guatto, there's a war on!

Gloria in Obnoxious Dei,


05 December 2005

Holly Jolly Oligarchy!

These poor lil' bastards will never know what hit 'em. Posted by Picasa


What is it about the holidays that makes everyone freak out? And by "freak out" I mean the most negative inference of that otherwise jolly term. I have seen footage of the Wal-Mart melee and its ilk - shoppers trampled, knuckles bruised, wigs rent asunder - an aggregate of events nationwide which are sadly becoming an annual celebration of carnage and cruelty on the scale of the Omak Stampede. However, the extent to which the proletariat freaks out by and large doesn't alarm me. I only wonder why the proletariat doesn't freak out far more often than it already does, in other words, why it takes an impending holiday to catalyze wig-rending behaviors. No, it is my own state of mind which shows an alarming rise in what I'd call "holiday hubris" that is my real concern.

To wit: This year, I became an oligarch.

Long story short: I freaked out, went to Ace Hardware, and purchased half-a-dozen miniature decorative porcelain houses. I set them up on my sideboard, and proclaimed myself Lord God King Daddy of Holidaytown. It was almost like the Republican Blowout of Y2K4. They didn't even see it coming...until they heard the booming-yet-lugubrious laugh of their new ruler from somewhere far, far across the dining room.

To be clear, I practice oligarchy under full protection of the Kirkpatrick Doctrine. (You may say, "hey - how is that oligarchy if you and you alone are the ruler of this tiny porcelain village?" My nearly invisible co-conspirators in this plutocracy are Seattle City Light who control the flow of electricity and the Uwajimaya Village Apartments who actually hold title to the land under the sideboard on which the village sits. I give both of these parties "kickbacks" each month in the form of "rent" and "utilities" in order to secure their silence and complicity.)

Now, moving on:

My subjugation of that tiny hamlet nearly complete, and the sweet tang of unopposed rulership swollen forty-fold in my bosom to almost Bush-like proportions, I am began to feel the urge once again to brave the winter night and scurry out to Ace Hardware where I might annex another ten - nay, twelve! - porcelain domiciles (at clearance prices).

But then, the wife threw down the kybosh. She claims that there isn't room enough in our 1,080 sq. ft. 2BR 2BA apartment for her, me, several tiny porcelain houses, and my ego. At least twelve of those things would have to go.

So here's my conundrum. There's no court in this land higher than The Wife, so any appeals on the matter are kaput. However, there is rather a clever loophole: there's nothing saying that I can't receive tiny porcelain houses as gifts from my brother for Christmas.

In closing, I implore, if you have an ounce of Christmas spirit, and are in the mood to support an fledgling nation-state and its kindly dictator, please purchase a tiny porcelain from Ace Hardware online (at clearance prices - some as low as $7 American - and free shipping, too...maybe) and have it shipped forthwith to my address. The Fatherland thanks you.

And now I must depart, as I feel the clench of madness in my hinderparts.

Merry Christmas!


08 November 2005

The Definition Of Sport

David Carr: a man with an unimpeachably
positive attitude despite a dismal team record
- which makes him my personal hero. Posted by Picasa


I know I should be doing something productive, like being a heckler at an open-mic poetry reading, but last night's MNF match up betwixt the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots is still ablaze in my mind, so blog I must.

Yes, I know you're not a football fan, so just indulge me. Let your eyes glaze over and roll heavenward while I get this off my chest.

Fact #1: Pardon my French, but New England blows. Yeah they have three Superbowl wins in the last four years, but wins and stats ain't everything. To wit: they and their fans alike exhibited such unsportsmanlike behavior and so little grace last night that it only deepened my aversion to them. Example: When the Patriots were down by 14 points at half time, their own fans booed them. Booed them. What the hell? You root for a team, you support a team, and that means even when they suck. I sat in the teat-freezing rain in the midst of some-thousand-odd alcohol-drenched walnut-brained Bills fans until the very bitter end of the Hawks 38-19 loss to them last year. And I applauded my team as they left the field. The Bills fans around me were so stunned they were speechless, which if you know Bills fans is saying a lot.

Fact #2: To build on a point from #1, stats and wins alone do not a sportsman make. F'rinstance, you may laugh, but I think one of the finest quarterbacks in the NFL is the absolutely for-fucking-lorn one-and-seven Houston Texans' quarterback David Carr. Why? Because in spite of the fact that he's been sacked over 30 times this year (which is more than most QBs get sacked in their entire career), he has a brilliantly optimistic attitude. We're talking about a little Calvin Klein underwear-model-of-a-guy who wound up underneath 250 pounds, forty ounces, three stone, half a quart and tuppence of Hawks defensive end Grant Wistrom (shown here in his college days as a Nebraska Cornhusker)and came out smiling. For comparison, let me drop a davenport on you thirty times and see how cheery you remain. And on the odd occasion when his offensive line actually blocks for him and lets him get a play off, he looks pretty damn good. To paraquote: "I know we have a losing record, but game by game we're improving, and I'm improving." David Carr, you are a PRINCE! If I were him, I would give each and every one of my offensive linemen a bare-ass spanking at mid-field during a Monday Night Football broadcast and then summarily fire them all. And then fire the coach. And then the owners. And then crown myself King of all Football.

Fact #3: New England blows (he said, restating for added emphasis, right index finger held aloft). Why? Because last night, when they were down they became whiners and moaners. Coach Bill Belichick threw an illegal challenge flag in the 4th quarter, was apprised that it would cost his team a penalty, so to save his ass, made a bullcrap challenge on a clear-as-day call. Then to save hometown darling QB Tom Brady from taking complete responsibility for a 40-21 trouncing, they reached into the team ossuary and pulled out Doug Flutie's geriatric ass to replace him for the last series of the game. Flutie, voted the World's Most Birdy-Legged AARP Member, succeeded in picking up the sucking where Brady left off, actually tried to draw a foul on the Colts by bumping into a Colts player on purpose and then whining to the ref. And to just to shine up their turd of a loss real nice, Flutie got sacked and made a turnover on the last play of the game.

I don't care if they have 3 Superbowl wins. They act like losers, so to my mind, they are.

To give one last example, the consistently beleaguered Detroit Lions came to Seattle in 2003 and took home a beating. However, QB Joey Harrington, in the 4th quarter with no way of winning the game, was still skipping the huddle and calling audibles at the line as though the game were tied. That, sir, is sportsmanship.

Competitive sport is an unequaled opportunity for humans to practice grace under adversity, which is a salient lesson in our most troubled times. It is also an opportunity for the players to teach the spectators that same lesson by example. If you fail on that score, you are squandering your chance to strengthen the human character. And that failure, dear Gregory, while short of being unforgivable, is pitiable indeed.

Cheers and give my best to Marie. Go Hawks.

05 November 2005


The view from Obstruction Point in Olympic National Park is
AWESOME. Posted by Picasa


So, you think you so smart, do ya? Well while you were out being a genius inventor, I was off changing the English language for the better. You probably hardly noticed this morning when you got up, but as the day wears on, you will begin to notice minute adjustments in the bearing and demeanor of your fellow earthlings. The chasm between Mulletards, Mediocretins, CorpoDrones, Full-On Stallions and Saints Who Walk The Earth has been closed forever. Why? Because I have cast a great penumbra of equality - a shroud of sameness, if you will - over the quick and the not-so-quick. How? Because I threw a new word into the vocab, and that word is OSSUM.

You may recall that as recently as yesterday that "awesome" was used as a blanket term for describing anything from the sublime (the Glory of the Lord's handiwork) to the mundane (fortuitously receiving 2 bags of Funyuns from a vending machine for one low price). Not any more, my friend. I have changed that forever. Hereafter, "awesome" will only be used to describe events, objects and circumstances such as The Buddha Himself, adorned with a crown pinnacle, seated on a lotus in the vajra posture simultaneously handing me a check for $2.5 million dollars (or its equivalent) and slapping me a high-five.

Josh Brown's game-winning field goal in the last second
of the game was OSSUM. Posted by Picasa

Likewise, events, objects and circumstances such as Seattle Seahawk Josh Brown's Cowboy-defeating field goal in the last second of the game a couple Sundays ago (and the set of {all other events etc. which are < or = That Glorious Moment} on a declining scale ending in the aforementioned Bonus Bag of Funyuns scenario) shall be referred to as OSSUM.

These two terms, when uttered, sound so uncannily similar, that no linguistic retraining is necessary. See how I did that? I reclaimed one great word that has been consistently bent and beat to shit by adolescents and idiots alike, and in the process created a WHOLE NEW WORD! And this act of furtive brilliance was so effective that people don't even know they're doin' it. They're just doin' it! Howya like me now, mister smarty-pants inventor?

Here's the best part. It's already happening. I've done it already. It has taken effect. The language has been incontrovertibly changed. Go outside. Go downtown. Go to a casino. See that guy who just found a coupon on the sidewalk for a FREE side of baked, mashed or fried with his greasy-ass John Ascuaga's Nugget-tastic prime rib? That man is going to use my word!!

The fact that you are a genius but also bear and astounding
resemblance to this man (and I, thankfully, do not) is
OSSUM beyond belief. Posted by Picasa

So here's a little challenge for ya. Let's see if you can use this term correctly for the following scenario:

I recently got a thorough going-over by three different health professionals: a general practitioner, a sports medicine specialist, and a physical therapist. I got checked from stem to stern with the notable exception that I declined a prostate exam on the grounds that anyone who wanted to be that intimate with me should at least buy me some flowers first. So the consensus was that I'm in very good if not excellent health for my age, with the single exception being that on the push-ups portion of the fitness exam, I scored in the "Total Pussy" category. (I'm working on that with rotator cuff exercises. By comparison, I was off the chart on sit-ups, knocking out 57 in one minute. Top of the chart was 35.) All of this was combined with an actuarial exam that put my life expectancy at 102. That's right. I'm expected to go one hundred and two freakin' years before I cack. (Man do I have a lot of time to watch TV.) And I have low cholesterol, my flexibility is way above average thanks to yoga, and my resting heart rate rivals a sleeping bear.

So, dear brother, would you describe that news as "awesome" or "OSSUM"? Send in your answer now.

Cheers, and give my best to Marie.

27 September 2005

Screw My Birthday Already, Okay?


I hear tell that the Jehovah's Witnesses don't celebrate birthdays. I'm thinking about becoming a Jehovah's Witness for exactly one day per year: June 27th. I hate my birthday for a myriad reasons, none of which is that I'm getting older. Quite frankly, one thing that I'm truly looking forward to is the day that I'm old enough not to give a rat's ass about anything except whether my oatmeal was hot enough or whether my pansies are blooming. I suppose that it's the proximity of death that makes me imagine that I should be that carefree at an advanced age, and am currently never-minding the fact that I'm probably looking right down the barrels of death every day just like everyone else is. Nevertheless, aging doesn't bother me. Birthdays - actually just my birthday - bothers me.

I was sounding off to my friend Matt about it because he's a big birthday-phobe as well. He hates the fact that it's a day for people to recognize you for no particular reason. He feels, as I do, that you should have done something worthy of recognition in order to be celebrated. The ironic thing is that both of us only feel that way about our own birthday, and not about the birthdays of others. Frankly, attention makes me uncomfortable. Not all attention, mind you, or I wouldn't be writing this to you on what amounts to a giant electronic graffiti wall where everyone can read it. Just that "birthday" kind of attention. Can't quite put my finger on it.

And then the author skips a groove -

But what I was saying about a blog-and-a-half ago, about artists and writers being necessarily nutso-ballo - here is the deal. I realized the other day that rumination is at the heart of every serious mental illness (disregarding those caused by brain malfunction, such as the schizophrenias). And when it comes to rumination, who has it in spades? You got it. Artists and writers. Both types must be able to seize upon an idea and not let it go, turning it over and over in the lathe of the mind until it becomes something meaningful that can be then transferred to another medium. That still does not mean that artists and writers are by necessity going to be nuts. It just means that rumination is a very potent thing, and must be harnessed in order to be used as a tool. Otherwise it can just run rampant and cause all sorts of fun things, like anxiety disorders and bipolarity. Rumination is also kin to obsession, which in small doses can go a long way to driving the "work" part of the creative process. I read today that artists and writers have to be both anal expulsive in order to free their creative process, and anal retentive in order to be able to finish things. That sounds to me like the perfect mental environment for someone who'd like to drive themselves totally nertz, but it does sound true enough given my experience.

And then the author skips back -

Okay, so there's the other thing about birthdays, which is that we all like to be reminded that we are loved or at least thought of fondly, and in the absence of that happening the rest of the year, we formalize an occasion to take care of that basic human need. It is ever so nice to be remembered on one's birthday, and such a drag when one is not. Maybe my big damn hangup is that I didn't have a ninth birthday and I just can't get over it. The day just went by unnoticed. It's very difficult for a child to articulate that he needs to be told that he's loved and appreciated when that's not something that is done. You don't just go around to people and say, "Hey, I'm feeling a little insecure and need to know that I'm liked. Could you throw me a birthday party?"

So what's the cure? Given that I can't go back and give myself a ninth birthday party, nor can I ask anyone to throw me one, the only answer is this: to overcome the need for that kind of validation - to feel okay without it. That's what maturing and being mentally well is after all, isn't it? It's the difference between wanting recognition, which is perfectly healthy, and needing recognition in order to function, which is neurotic. There has to be a way to accomplish that sort of mental self-sufficiency, even considering my history with birthdays. I suppose I should get about figuring out how it's done.

That's good. Now I have something to do, rather than something to ruminate on.

Cheers, and give my best to Marie.

26 September 2005

In The Mosh Pit With The Dalai Lama

Why is this man smiling? Click on his nose to find out! Posted by Picasa


I can promise you that this epistle will be short, disjointed, and altogether unsatisfying. (Funny, but that's the same way I used to preface evenings out with certain women.) The reasons for this are three in number: 1)A lot has happened since I last wrote, 2) I have a cold and am high on cold drugs, which is as high as I've been since I quit drinking five years ago, and finally 3) I have a cold and am high on cold drugs, which is as high as I've been since I quit drinking five years ago. Now then:

So, yeah, went to Tucson to see His Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama at the TCC Arena last weekend. Weezer opened for him. I kid! Actually, it was something far cooler than Weezer. The chiefs of the Yuma tribe led the prayer to the four directions in thier native tongue. It is difficult as a writer to convey the awesome fullness and magnitude of such a simple yet ancient ritual, even when it's being recreated on stage in a thoroughly modern venue. So let's do it this way. Pretend that we're talking and I just said, "I said a prayer to the four directions with the Yuma chiefs", and then hear the sound of my voice die out, and listen to the silence that follows for a full fifteen minutes. That's about the best I can do.

The Dalai Lama, on the other hand, was not so much about reverence as light-heartedness, even to the point where I thought he might break into a vaudeville number. The guy was cutting it up practically the whole time. The highlights: A fly landed on his glasses during his talk, prompting him to start riffing on how bad he must smell because, well, he's a simple monk and he only has the one set of robes that he's been wearing for the past seven days. Later he acted out a story of a time when he was with a religious leader from Africa who got so cold during the conference that he passed out. His Holiness acted out the entire event, including wrapping his own robes around his head like a babushka.

So in short, it was a howling good time. But before the event started, as I was sitting in the mostly-empty arena, I had a strange sort of emotional experience, which I suppose one is wont to do when going on religious pilgramages such as these. I was sitting there in the cool, dark quiet, looking up at an enormous projection of a thangka of Avelokiteshvara, the Buddha of compassion, and I was suddenly filled with an incredible feeling of gratitude. The strange thing is, that it was gratitude for everything that had happened in my life, good or bad. It suddenly made me understand something that I've often said, which is that the events in your life don't matter, it's how you feel about them that determines your quality of life. And along with that, the sum of the quality of your life isn't determined by what happened to you while you were alive, it is how you felt about it and in turn how you acted on those feelings.

I've believed for some time that I could improve the quality of my life by moderating my interpretation of events, chiefly by getting rid of predilection to label them "good" or "bad". (AndI'm talking about events that concern me directly, and not world events which I have no control over. Gotta start somewhere, so why not in my own back yard?) Anwyay, not that I'm up for lama-hood or anything, but it reminds me of a bio of a lama that I read about who spent ten years in a cave and ate nothing but nettles. He knew he was "getting it" so to speak when he took a header out the doorway one day and banged his noggin on a rock, and instead of being caught up in the physical pain, was suddenly grateful for that opportunity for enlightenment. Incidentally, this lama sat two seats over from me when I went to see the Dalai Lama in San Francisco a couple of years back. I had no idea whatsoever to say to him after "namaste", because hey, what the hell do you say to someone like that? "How's that enlightenment thing working out for you? Got any good nettle recipes?"

So yeah, that was it. For a brief moment I got to see my entire past - which up to that point I had viewed as something to recover from - as a gift and an opportunity. I'm hoping that's something I'll be able to put to good use from here forward.

I suppose I could write more about it but I'm not gonna right now. I'm going to view my head cold as a wonderful opportunity to get a short preview of mahat samadhi through taking a wee nap.

Cheers, and give my best to Marie.


30 August 2005

I Am Little More Than A Jodhpur-Clad Bourgeoisie Horsefucker

North Face fleece vest and convertible pants: $175.
Salomon trail running shoes: $140.
Ex Officio vented quick-dry high-performance cargo shirt: $95.
Coming face-to-face with what a prejudiced
bourgeoisie asshole I am: Priceless.
Posted by Picasa


Quick refresher. Two things about me:

  1. I am a terrible Buddhist. I totally suck at it. Therefore, I'm coming back as a flea bite.
  2. I am also a charlatan, a ruse of a man, a hypocrite; and now a peasant-baiting, tea-sipping, fox-hunting, jodhpur-wearing horsefucker. To wit:

Have you ever been to Forks, Washington? In a word, depressing. Hardcore poverty in the middle of a rain forest, so not only are these poor people broke as shit, they're growing algae on their backs to boot. Forks is a logging community that may have boomed at one time or other, but you'd be hard-pressed to find any vestiges of that now. How I wound up in Forks is a tune that goes a little something like this:

So you know me and hiking. I hike, like, all to hell. One place that I've wanted to hike all summer is the Olympic National Forest beaches. Olympic National Park has like a beejillion miles of beach that stretches from Cape Cornhatch (not its real name - I've forgotten what the "real" name is) on the Northwesternmost tip of Washington State, all the way south to This-Is-Where-Kurt-Cobain-Was-Born (again, not its "real" name, and yeah, probably not that far south). There are only a couple points of ingress in that whole stretch, and those are many, many miles apart. So suffice it to say, I was all over hiking the coast. So I calls me the Triple A, I does, and has 'em set me up with the closest hotel to the beach that had any "star" rating at all, and they sent me to the Forks Motel.

After a ferry ride and a couple hours of semi-circumnavigating Olympic National Park, we pulled in to Forks just as pestilentially-dark clouds rolled in and began to threaten rain. All of this served to make the town look slightly shit-holier than it probably is on a nice sunny day...which are probably few and far between on the wet side of the peninsula. Here's a thumbnail. Every single vehicle in the town - none of which is less than ten years old or fewer holes than a Gypsy Cab - has a lift kit and knobbies. There is no form of public entertainment, not even a movie theater. The liquor store prides itself on its display of high-power rifle ammunition. I presumed from all of this that the local pastimes must be four-bying and teen pregnancy. I could be right. And then there was our hotel room, which turned out to be an exploration of new horizons in mustiness. We got a couple of scented candles which did a pretty valiant job of holding the stank at bay, but even they eventually subsumed to the dankness.

Okay, so, now I'm both needing dinner and dreading what it might be, and The In Place which is right across the street from the motel (which I've now christened The Under Arms for all its olfactory offense) has been recommended by the staff as a safe place. And they're pretty sure it's been a year or two since anyone contracted ptomaine from the navy beans. I kid, of course. But we head on over, grab a seat, and are greeted by water glasses embossed with greasy handprints. Nice.

So let me cut to the chase. The food was all "home made" (viz., not canned off-premises in some factory). The potato salad was outstanding, the pie even moreso. The waitress, indeed, all of the townsfolk that we encountered were genuinely friendly to the point that my urban paranoia was raised to methamphetaminic levels. The people of Forks - at least, all the ones that I met - were not just cheery, but genuine and unpretentious despite being poor as hell and (gathering from their appearances) subsisting on an entirely iron-free diet. It's this sort of thing that leads to the ill-conceived notion that poverty is somehow ennobling. If that were true, the year or so that I spent living in my '74 Ford Maverick should make me a Poet King. However, I am not. I am a elitist, snobberiffic horsefucker and my prejudice against the logger families of Forks is almost criminal in its magnitude. There I sat, in logo-emblazoned gear from Salamon to The North Face, the purchase price of which could feed a logger family for a fortnight at least (hell, my freakin' briefs cost $40), and having the temerity to entertain condescending thoughts about the maitre d' because he's wearing heavy duty logging braces and a torn-to-shit flannel shirt that looks like somebody planted M-80s in the elbows. And this most telling feature - his suspenders were frayed at about the height of his solar plexus. How else do you wear out suspenders in the middle other than wrestling fir logs, fer crissakes? So in short, this guy does not one but two honest day's work per day, whereas I sit in a comfy office and write junk email - a task which would never promote the growth of a single callous on anyone, no matter how earnestly they pursued it.

So all of this served as a lesson to me that no matter how much I sit on my well-cushioned ass and practice chenrezig, I still get smacked upside the head with my own prejudice. It is a humbling thing to find out that no matter how much I try to reconstruct myself, I still keep running into who I am. I guess the metric of progress is that I really am shocked by how much of what I once found repellent in others I now find quite easily in myself.

Cheers, and give my best to Marie.

22 August 2005

The Mud Shoe Diaries: Mile One Hundred Nine

Rachel Lake is somewhere on the other side of this forbidding wall
of granite. Wiener dogs, beware!
Posted by Hello


While you were indoors this weekend slaving over your hot brain, I was outdoors in the high pineys clocking my one hundred ninth mile this season on USFS Trail #1313 to Rachel Lake.

Yes, it's a repeat. And you can probably remember what happened the last time I went. No such deluge or aquatic cataclysm this time, just blue skies, hot sun and the fragrant north woods. And a shitload of dogs. And some rednecks. And some weed-huffing adolescents. But I digress.

So I know how I've commented in the past on how a trail can be judged by how many Fat Grammas and Wiener Dogs you meet along the way, and this one was no different. There was not wiener dog 1 anywhere on the 3 miles of trail up Box Canyon, nor were there wiener dogs on the "cruelest mile" - the mile-and-some of gullies and snags that you have to scramble to make it to the alpine basin, 1,500 or so feet straight up from the canyon. Indeed, I would expect that a wiener dog stout enough to endure the "cruelest mile" might have tree-frog digits spliced to it...or have compound eyes or the like. So I was pretty convinced that I would encounter neither Grammas comma Fat nor Dogs comma Wiener once I made it to the lake.

Imagine my surprise when I made it to the lake and encountered Wiener Dog Turbo Mark V with Fat Gramma in tow, basking on the shore. Let me tell you first that this hike was strenuous enough to make me lose 3 pounds (this is not a lie) during the trip, so seeing the two of them was both a shock and a mystery. Now I don't wonder that the dog made it because it was actually one of those Wiener/Jack Russell mixes, which means it's a wiener dog with a lift kit. It is a strange mixture, a wiener dog with monster truck ground clearance. And I don't wonder that the third member of the party, the fellah who ostensibly invented the Man-Teat, made it. But short of a drop from Sikorsky Sky Crane, I have no idea how the Fat Gramma in question hefted her bulk up the side of that canyon and on to the lake shore. Perhaps Rachel Lake is one of those mysterious bodies of water like McElligot's Pool, and she made her way there through a subterranean aqueduct. I did not check her for gills. Perhaps I should have.

On the way back I tripped on a snag, turned my ankle, went headfirstforemostassoverteakettle, skinned my knees and bruised my shirt. I'm okay, though. It just made me realize that I had gone a very long time without skinning my knees, perhaps since I was a kid. Which then made me wonder what I had been doing all this time that could be more important than placing myself square in danger of skinning my knees.

I'm looking forward to mile two hundred eighteen. Man it's great to be a kid again.

Cheers, and give my best to Marie.

17 August 2005

Best Damn Mac And Cheese In The Entire Freakin' Universe. Or So They Tell Me.

Not for the faint of heart. Posted by Picasa


Teresa's birthday was yesterday, so I whipped up her favorite dish, which is of course my famous three-cheese Mac and Cheese. Since it was received with such laud and honor (the present company demanded that I crown it with a laurel wreath), I've decided to do something that I almost never do, which is publish one of my personal recipes.

I fully understand that doing so may get me in Dutch with the FDA or the AMA or one of those other agencies that try to safeguard some of our less-than-mentally-adroit citizens from expiring due to their own dietary negligence and misadventure, viz., eating D-cell batteries and the like. The fat content of this dish is alone enough to cause even the stoutest heart among us to seize up and shudder to a stop, the sodium content notwithstanding. That said, by way of illustration, a small-enough dose of strychnine will cause nothing more than ennui, so why not have just a little taste and leave the worrying to the eggheads? So here you go. Indulge. Just do so with the caveat that a serving of this dish no larger than a baby's fist is probably more than enough to kill you. Bon apetit!!



1 pound dry elbow macaroni

8 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
4 cups whole milk

Salt to taste (more than a pinch, less than a fistful)
Black pepper to taste (more than a pinch, less than the GNP of Indonesia)
1-1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
About yay-much paprika

8 ounces shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
4 ounces shredded Jack cheese
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Panko breading - enough to cover your ass with
Diced garlic - enough to please the gods
More Parmesan
More paprika


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. If you have some beer, drink one. Put on a Taj Mahal album. Start some water boiling in the biggest damn pot you have.

Now - melt the butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour to make a roux. Let the roux get brown if you're feeling that adventurous. Pour in the milk and continue whisking like an absolute madman so that it doesn't scorch or stick to the pan. Sooner or later it will thicken to a creamy consistency, or it just might not just to piss you off. If it does boil, it'll sputter like a mud-filled caldera and blister your forearms if you're not careful. If it does not boil, but thickens up nice anyway, then immediately whisk in the salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, mustard and paprika.

Take the dry macaroni and throw it in the boiling water. Now go back to the roux. Reduce the heat and stir in all the cheeses. Keep stirring until you have an ubelievably awesome cheese sauce. Turn off the burner. When the macaroni is just shy of al dente, drain it and rinse it with cold water.

Remember the cheese sauce? Okay, now meld the mamcaroni and the cheese sauce in the big damn pot, the one you used to boil the macaroni. Once melded, pour it all into a well-buttered casserole dish. Sprinkle the top with the diced garlic, panko breading, and additional parmesan cheese. I will not hold it against you if you also add more salt and/or paprika, or actually go completely nuts and saute the breading in butter with cayenne pepper and garlic before sprinkling it on top. Dowhatchalike.

Place the whole damn thing (which should weigh about as much as a Holstein calf by now) on the center rack of the oven and let it bake for 30-45 minutes, or until bubbling.


Cheers, and give my best to Marie.

05 August 2005

Some People Will Eat Anything

...because calling it "Speckled Cock" would've been way too offensive. Posted by Picasa


Yes, I haven't blogged in a while but I'm sure you haven't noticed other than I haven't done a lick of the work you sent my way. Here's the deal:

As you know, I "took the blue pill" and became a permanent employee of RealNetworks. After four rounds of negotiation, they gave me exactly what I asked for in the first place. In short, I'm happy. They also gave me an office that's big enough to park Shamu in. I'm sure it was available because it's out of the way, which makes it exactly perfect for me. The less I get bugged by humans, the happier I am. And the more productive I am to boot.

Speaking of productive, I've been doing another experiment on my brain, one which should interest you because it's aural. I heard tell of this Emmy-winning sound recordist named Gordon Hempton who is on a mission to preserve natural silence. Come to find out, Olympic National Park is - or at least was - one of the quietest places in the US. Hempton went and did some recording at a spot in the Hoh Rain Forest that is apparently so quiet, that you can hear a butterfly beting its wings. (Yeah. I know. Daaaaaaaaaammn.) Must be the Dr.Seussian amounts of moss in there. So anyway, what I did was put together a 20+ hour Rhapsody playlist of nothing but Gordon Hempton "jams" which are comprised from the natural sounds from various locations around the world. I let this roll in the background all damn day long, and strangely enough, I am far more productive and focused than I ever was. Now this may also be due to the fact that I have an actual office with walls and stuff, and there's not somebody babbling incoherently in work-induced psychosis mere inches from my desk, but I really do believe that I'm on to something with this "natural sound" and productivity thing. Plus, it's just fun to meet with people and have 15 minutes go by before they realize that they're hearing crickets in the hot and hissing plains of Kansas with the sound of an approaching thunderstorm in the background.

Okay, so there's that - I've been spacing off to natural sounds in my office. And then there's like other work and stuff, like finishing off things that I had promised to clients before I dutifully got the chip and became a corporate cyberzealot. So yeah, all that, and then hiking every weekend as though the warranty on my legs was about to expire any minute.

Speaking of which, last weekend I went to the Scottish Highland Games and went hiking on Mount Rainier in the same day. Am I hardcore? Mais oui! The games were incredible as always, although I believe this may have been the first time I attended them as a vegetarian. As the day wore on, the realization slowly dawned on me that Scotland is a country made entirely of meat...and stones, come to think of it...and that I would be hard pressed to find anything to eat that didn't once have a face and a beating heart. But then - aha! - I happened upon what the fry-merchants were calling "tatties", which were certainly not like the tatties and neeps that I make (to much laud and honor, I must say), but were exactly like ale-battered french fries. Before your curl your snout with disgust, let me say this: they were damn good! They were like Scottish manna. I suppose I could bring the recipe back here to Chinatown and hawk it as tattie tempura. But yes, good, and did not leave me with that "Christ, I swear the Exxon Valdez just ran ashore in my duodenum" feeling. As for the rest of the games, there were the requisite wee doggies and bonnie wee cows and yes, the 1,000 pipes and drums (no exaggeration, I actually counted) that took the field at noon, roaring like a Pratt & Whitney turbojet with a herd of cats caught in it. And then there was our dear Secretary of State of the State of Washington, Ralph Munro, who is also the Chief of the Clan Munro, delightfully shit-pied as per usual and on the mic in front of 25,000 Scots. (He may not have been actually shit-pied. He may suffer from a speech impediment brought on by too much wool.) And of course men the size of beef cattle throwing telephone poles. All of this is my idea of a very good time.

But here's the funny part: Elizabeth happened upon a can of something called "Spotted Dick" at a grocer called the British Pantry that had a booth at the Highland Games. It was obvious at first glance that it had to be purchased, if only for the comedy mileage. I mean, c'mon, it sounds like something you'd treat with amoxycillin. Even the grocer couldn't say the name of the product without sputtering with laughter. Now here's the kicker. It's really good! It's some kind of cake-in-a-can. Kinda like Boston Brown Bread. Remember that stuff? That awesome molasses and raisin bread that came in a can? And we always took it camping with us? Okay, so this is like that, only not as heavy or dark. I highly recommend it, although I wouldn't follow the preparation directions on the can. They say you should microwave it for 2 whole minutes, which in my opinion would render it radioactive. Thirty seconds to a minute should be just fine. Throw some hard sauce on there and you're pimpin', Limey style. You can purchase it here.

And then, yes, a very nice hike at Mount Rainier from the Sunrise Visitor center just down to Sunrise Lake, which is not a long ways, but at 6-thousand-some feet is still enough to get a person winded. And then I hiked the same trail this past weekend, only this time I took it 4 miles out to Upper Palisades Lake, which is gorgeous beyond belief, and actually got to speak to a Park Ranger in his natural habitat, and photographed The World's Fattest Marmot. I'll cover all of that in an upcoming edition of The Mud Shoe Diaries.

Okay, now I have to get back to all that work that I told you about, the work that has thus far prevented me from doing any of that other work that I was supposed to do for you, which I swear I will get to shortly.

Cheers, and give my best to Marie.

06 July 2005

Happy Birthday, Tenzin Gyatso!

Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of TibetPosted by Picasa


Okay, so you forgot my birthday. Blew it off. Passed it over. Shined it on. That's not important. What's important is that you remember that today, dear brother, is the 70th birthday of the fourteenth incarnation of Avelokiteshvara, The Buddha of Compassion, a man given the dharma name of Tenzin Gyatso, also known as Mister Tease Mister Please Mister Got-ta Got-ta Satisfy - ladies and gentlemen, give it up for His Holiness The Dalai Lama! And the crowd grows mild!

That's right. On this day in 1935, a grumpy little boy named Lhamo Dhondrup was born to Diki Tsering in northern Tibet. Seventy years later, yours truly got two tickets second row center (in the mosh pit, yo!) to attend His Holiness' public talk in Tucson, AZ. The talk in September will be my second dose of the Dalai Lama, the first being September 2003 when he rocked the San Francisco Symphony Hall. Michael Tilson Thomas opened. My favorite part? His opener: "If any of you came here because you thought I have magical healing powers or perhaps a third eye, you will be gravely disappointed." And his closer: "...and if that doesn't work, fuck it. Good night!" It's always a treat when a Nobel laureate and world religious leader drops the f-bomb.

Teresa and I were wondering aloud this morning about what His Holiness does on his birthday, and we pretty much came to the conclusion that he probably parties like a rock star. Not like Marilyn Manson (twenty rails of coke, pork rinds, rubber fetish rodeo) or even Trey Anastasio of Phish (bong hits, trail mix, hacky sack). Probably more like Cat Stevens (extra cup of tea, one slice of organic carrot, chant-a-thon).

So just in case you want to pick up a few extra karmic merits today, here's the official short version of the Long Life Prayer for His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Go ahead and give 'er a whirl.

In the land encircled by snow mountains
You are the source of all happiness and good
Blessed Cherezig, Tenzin Gyatso
Please remain until samsara ends.

Please be advised that if you choose not to recite the LLP for HH the DL today, there is no truth whatsoever to the rumor that you will be reincarnated as a Republican.

Torch a stick of Nag Champa and give my best to Marie.

29 June 2005

The Mud Shoe Diaries: Deer Park

Olympic National Park: Man, what a shithole. Posted by Hello


Do not be mistaken. The picture above is not the road to the Deer Park campground in Olympic National Park. This is the Hurricane Ridge road, which is totally for pussies, Fat Grammas, weiner dogs, Christian Harley Riders and other assorted Honkies. As in it's paved. And it has two lanes. And you can drive it without making a streak in your Underoos - none of which describe the road to Deer Park.

The Deer Park road is about nine miles outside of Sequim, and is easy to spot because there's a movie megaplex and a Toyota dealership flanking it. That is the last that you will see of civilization, so take a good look. Then you wind through a rather bucolic national forest/countryside populated by poverty-level cooters and a handful of Jodphur-clad Horsefuckers who ostensibly own the aforementioned serfs. After about eight miles of this, you take a sharp right, and the fun begins.

The pavement ends, the road goes to one lane, and the trees get a lot thicker. Calling it a dirt road would be generous. It's clay hardpan with rocks the size of baby's heads which either cover the road or shower down from the hillside as you pass by. I was lucky that I rented a four-by because I would not have been able to make it up there otherwise, I imagine.

So you wind all to shit through the trees and when you finally come out of them you see that you're hanging out on a hairpin curve around a rocky overhang where even sherpas fear to tread. Do not - I repeat - do not look down. Look only at the road. You will begin to believe that this road is not the road to Deer Park at all, and is indeed the road to Castle Dracula. That's okay. Let your cold reptilian fear and the inescapable bloodlust spell of Nosferatu drive you onward.

And all of a sudden you're there. Just like that. And you're way the hell up in the sky, right at the crown base of Blue Mountain. Everything is in bloom, so the air is rich with incense of the alpine meadows. The snowshoe hare bark and play, the willow ptarmigan pads quickly through the undergrowth, the red hawk drifts silently down from the belly of a cloud, and the white-tailed deer comes up and tries to steal your fuckin' lunch. Aah, wilderness!

There's a short half-mile trail that circles the top of Blue Mountain. At about 6AM last Saturday, I walked up to the peak and took in a 360-degree view of the Olympics. The sun caught clouds as they boiled up from the canyons, trying to make their way over the peaks. I looked down through an iris of three different layers of cloud cover to see Port Angeles floating at the edge of the Puget Sound almost twenty miles away. I coulda crapped, I tell ya! It was beautiful! I didn't want to leave. Ever. Somebody at work asked me if I got any pictures, which I didn't, but the thing of it is that photographs never do justice to the mountains anyway. They can't recreate the specific luminescent blue of glaciers and they sure as shit can't frame the vastness of whole mountain ranges. And they can't recreate that exhilarating vertigo.

If it wasn't that Teresa was making something that smells really good right now, I'd go on and on about Deer Park. But hey - the stomach commands and I must obey. I'll tell more later.

Cheers, and give my best to Marie.

27 June 2005

Screw Bambi Already, Okay?

Just another shitty day in Olympic National Park. Posted by Hello


As you probably know, I went solo up to Olympic National Park on Friday to do some hiking and camping for the weekend. Yeah, it's beautiful. Yeah, it's like you've gone to heaven without benefit of dying first. Yes, I really did have the time of my life. I'll get to all of that in the next blog. Let me first address this one point, the fact that the most virulent of the Seven Plagues of the Northwest Woods[1] is the deer.

Fuck Bambi. Just fuck 'im. Him and all his little fagele woodland pals. (Okay, well, not his actual pals, like the Snowshoe Hare or the Willow Ptarmigan, but you get my drift.) Here's why:

So I'm camping in the Deer Park campground on the east side of the park - what is ostensibly the "dry" side of the park, the rain shadow - and I'm cooking up my dinner in my brand new Jetboil, which is my birthday present to myself. By the way, the Jetboil is the backpacking stove extraordinaire. If you have another kind of backpacking stove, you're a fool. This thing makes water hot enough for soup in 90 seconds. Ninety. Seconds. I don't know what part of the Space Shuttle they stole to make this thing, but when I was freezing my tarts off at 3AM and I was able to make a cup of Jasmine tea faster than you can recite the Visitor's Guide pamphlet for Dayton, Ohio - let's just say I was extremely thankful for grand-scale industrial larceny.

Okay, so, Bambi. So I'm making my dinner, which consisted of instant 4-cheese mashed potatoes with some mixed vegetables thrown in. Now in the Deer Park campground, which is a primitive campground that hangs out on a ridge at 5,600 ft. elevation, there are signs all over the place telling you to secure your chow or be prepared to fight the bears for it. They even have big metal food lockers for you to store your stuff in case you didn't come with a car to lock it in. I thought I was being extremely assiduous in the way I handled my food, but the one thing that the signs don't tell you is that these fuckers will come right up and try to snatch the shit right out of your pot. The deer, I mean.

So yeah, I'm eating, and up walks Bambi, giving me the "glad eye", and licking his chops. And I mean he walked right up to me, like less than a cubit away. And I'm eating and he's huffing and so I say "shoo", and what does he do? Nothing. Not a goddamn thing. Just keeps staring at me and licking his chops, like he's saying "Hey man. Hey. Whattaya got going there? Aaw, look at that. Four cheese mashed potatoes - my favorite! And look, you put the little carrot cubes and peas and stuff in it, just the way I like it!" So I go, "beat it!" And he's all, "Why you gotta be so aggro, man? It's says right there on the bag that it makes four servings, so that's, like, two each if we split it." So I stand up with my pot and start stamping my feet and walking him out of my campsite with a very stern "Go - the - hell - a - WAY!" To which he grudgingly shambles off while mumbling something like, "Yeah, way to go, you bur-zhwa-zee capitalist douchebag. Your karma blows, man. I hope you come back as a deer." To which I'm all, "Fuck you, hippie! Get a job!"

So was that the end of my deer encounter? Oh mais non. There's more.

I wake up at about 10PM (I go to bed early, like 8PM and generally get up at around 4AM), my bladder distended like a wineskin. I pull on my shoes, walk out of my tent, find the closest place to pee, and do so. I go back to bed.

Along comes 3AM, and what is this? A whole lot of huffing and snorting right next to my head. So I think it's maybe a bear, and I'm thinking I should probably get ready to make a shitload of noise and scare it off - but then - WHAM! - I get a deer-beak jammed right under the edge of my tent right next to my head. So then I think goddammit! and I grab my flashlight and whip open the tent door and shine it on the deer who does what? Yeah, that's right, just stands there and stares at me. It's the "deer in the headlights" thing, I guess. So I shout and wave my arms and the little bastard goes away. For now.

Here's a fact that I was previously unaware of. Unlike every other sensible animal on God's green Earth, deer apparently love human pee. Aside from being an abominable gustatory inclination (right up there with my little dog's love of cat turds), I suppose it's the salt they're after. So as you can probably guess, the deer come back with a vengeance, this time snorting, huffing, lapping the ground, pounding it with their hooves and ripping it up with their little deer teeth to get every precious salty drop from the humus. I know that there's a lot of talk about the gentle sounds of the north woods, the trills of birds, the gurgle of mountain streams, the gentle whisper of the wind in the pines, and all that may be true. But a little-spoke-of theme and counterpoint in the symphony of the woodlands is the huffhuffhuff thumpthumpthump ripriprip huffhuffhuff of the deer feeding on pee-soaked dirt.

So the moral of this story? It is this: if you want to get a good night's sleep in the North Woods, be sure to stow all your food in a secure place, and if you must pee, please do so at least thirty six miles away from your campsite or at the nearest Safeway.

Cheers, and give my best to Marie.

[1] The Seven Plagues of the Northwest Woods: 1) Deer 2) SUVs 3) Gun-Toting Mulletards 4) Insolent Teens 5) Hippies (but not Oregon(tm) brand Hippies; Intolerant(tm) brand Hippies, also known as Trustafarians, Green Party Volunteers or Christ! What's That Smell!?), 6) Fat Grammas and Weiner Dogs, 7) Deer.

14 June 2005

David Bowie Spins The World. The Rest Of Us Just Ride It.

Bowie: He's, like, way ahead of you. Posted by Hello


I know I'm not telling you anything you don't already know here, but...

One of the best things about my current gig is that I'm required to rawk almost constantly while I'm on the job. One of the best things to rawk to without ceasing is - you guessed it - David Bowie. And I'll tell ya why.

David Bowie is not actually tall and thin. It's the fact that he's moving past you at the speed of light that distorts your perspective. It's been rumored that he invented 1995 way back in 1969. He's always been something of an anachronism. In 1971, when everyone else was doing pop-and-posey rock, Bowie was doing SickSex HellRock (exhibits A and B: "She Shook Me Cold" and "Running Gun Blues"). In 1976, I walked into my junior high school in a homemade, hand-screened David Bowie t-shirt the likes of which had never been seen in that corner of Iowa. It was when my band teacher said, "David Bowie - i'n't he some kinda feggit?" that I knew I was onto something REALLY COOL.

It's a fact. David Bowie spins the world. The rest of us are just riding it.

Cheers. Now turn on some Bowie.

13 June 2005

Bread 'N' Roses: It's Not A Band, It's A Sandwich!

The Port Townsend Waterfront - guess which century Posted by Hello


First things first. Take down this name and address - Bread & Roses Bakery, 230 Quincy St., Port Townsend, WA 98368. Tel.: 360-385-1044.

Now, take a plane from Reno (they do have airplanes there, do they not?) to Seattle, then get a charter flight to Port Townsend. Once you're on the ground, cab, walk or hitchhike to the above address and start eating. Why? Because it is the best damn restaurant on the planet. And I know because I've eaten at most of them. We went to PT this weekend and ate there not once, not twice, but thrice in the same day, and were overcome with profound gustative rapture each time. The abundantly joyful staff (including Java Joe - ask for him by name) serves up from-scratch soup, sandwiches, salads and baked goods that are end-of-the-trail good.[1] If you are ever convicted of a capital offense in Texas, have them fly in your last meal from this place. It's worth it.

The only downside for me is that they have no web presence, therefore I can't link to their site or steal pictures of their tooth-achingly lovely environs - a rose-enshrouded post-Victorian house in downtown Port Townsend with wraparound porch seating in the front and a puppy in the back. However, The Port Townsend Peace Movement is headquartered in the upper story of the selfsame house, and accessible only by first going through the restaurant, so link to them I must.

Do I have a recommendation from the menu? Yes. Everything. Well - in all honesty, I can't speak for any of the meat dishes, being a vegetarian and all, but I can't imagine that they're any less savory than the veggie dishes.

I was going to say something in this post about how I went "camping" at Fort Worden this weekend, and how the rainfly failed on my tent during an unusually robust overnight rainstorm (as opposed to the limp-wristed, daylong drizzle-piss rain we usually get here), but I think it's right and good to devote this entire epistle to a damn fine restaurant, don't you?

I know how you are about food, and I've heard it said that you eat almost every day, so I expect to see you in Port Townsend shortly.

Cheers, and don't forget to turn the stove off when you leave.

[1] "End-of-the-trail good" means it's as tasty as if you had just walked ten hard miles on no food at all - but you didn't. I think you know the kind of "good" I'm talking about. For more on this type of hunger, read The Mud Shoe Diaries: Rachel Lake.