21 December 2006

The New Gunnsberg Miracle: A Christmas Story

Gunnsberg (founded 2005) as it currently appears on my sideboard.
Mount Fridgidaire is visible in the background.


As our uncle Gerald used to say, "Merry Christmas, old man! How's your cotton pickin' liver?" I didn't know exactly what he meant by that then, and I still don't know for sure now. Still, I understand the importance of visceral fortitude during the holidays, especially when it comes to things like aunt Margaret's rum balls. As it is with jumping off a bridge, one must first take at least thumb-gauge measurements to make sure that thirty-two feet per second squared moving vertically won't equal sixty four days in horizontal repose. So I repeat Gerald's greeting here as an invitation to take a dipstick to your innards before you joyously leap off the lip of your beloved holiday bottle of Thunderbird. How is your liver?

As of yesterday, the Gunn household experienced its first miracle of the Christmas season. I don't know if I told you before or not, but when I first erected my tiny porcelain Christmas village last year, Teresa rolled her eyes at it in disgust. It's chotchkes, she said, psuedo-Bavarian miniature kitsch, nothing but a dust magnet, and if I had a pellet gun - ! But manifold pleadings and cajoling and threats of insanity held her at bay, at least for the remainder of last Christmas season.

And then came this year when I re-erected Gunnsberg (which makes it New Gunnsberg, I guess) and she perceived - correctly - that my tiny village was now suffering from urban sprawl. Oh dear GAWD! she cried. Mary, Joseph and diaper-wearing Jesus, how did this happen?!

So I explained to her that last year, the day after Christmas, I was only crossing the street when time and space folded - folded, I tell you! - and suddenly I found myself at Tweedy and Popp Ace Hardware - barely six miles from here - and lo, gloriously low prices on last year's Christmas decorations didst shine 'round about the Seasonal Aisle, and I was sore afraid. I was sore afraid that if I did not avail myself of these deep, deep discounts on tiny, tiny houses that they would be snatched up by those less deserving - Filipino ladies with pellet guns, for instance. So I dug deep and secured not one, not two, but three more tiny porcelain houses, a covered bridge, and a freakishly out-of-scale horse and carriage. (I reasoned that the citizens of New Gunnsberg needed a means of ingress to and egress from Kitchenland and Mount Fridgidaire and, commensurate with that, a mode of transportation. I figured a giant with a horsecart was as good as any.)

So the triumvirate of Hardware Coots at the checkout counter eyed me suspiciously - me, a middle-aged man with a Jesus-load of tiny porcelain domiciles. I was not their kind, apparently. They clucked and cocked their heads and plugged their armpits with their thumbs. They asked one too many times for a price check. Apprently they wanted to make me stand still so they could get a real good look at Mister Dolly Houses. They were mostly wearing coveralls of various dirt-tones and splat-o-flage patterns, accessorized with - who knows why - day-glo orange deerslayer caps. I was in my usual North Face bourgeousie deluxe "steers & queers" model parka, convertible "tree-hugging faggot" pants, and Asics "they sell men's clothes were you got them, boy?" trail running shoes. Not to mention my half-horn-rimmed Giorgio Armani eyeglass frames with a very large "aim fist here" sign on the nose bridge. (Insert banjo chorus. -Ed.)

So the Head Coot says to me - real suspicious-like - he says, "Looks like you take a fancy to these little houses."

To which I replied, "Not so much, really."

So he says, "Why for not? It looks like you got you a load of 'em."

I said, "Yeah - because they drive my wife completely nuts!"

There was a moment of silence and then the Three Coot-A-Teers exploded into guffaws, slapping the counter, bending at the waist, and fanning themselves with their day-glo deerslayer caps. One even underscored his joy by throttling a scythe.

"That's a good one!" they hollered, "We gotta try that!" And with that I was on my way, my city-boy faggot ass miraculously un-kicked.

So yes, my purchase remained hidden in storage for the rest of the year until two days ago when Gunnsberg made its seasonal reappearance on the sideboard. Then my treachery was revealed. Teresa watched the rise of New Gunnsberg with arms crossed and as much scowl as she could muster, muttering threats and accusations whenever possible.

BUT! Just as Aaron and I arranged the last of the little fir trees and streetlights, plugged in the power strip and threw the switch, I caught a glimpse of Teresa's face in the golden glow pouring from the tiny windows. Her features softened. A smile crept across her lips. And then she uttered the unthinkable: "It's cute!" It was a Christmas miracle! The tiny, invisible citizens of New Gunnsberg had softened my wife's ice-cold coal-black heart, warmed her cockles with the Yuletide spirit, and insured their survival for another year. There would be no pellet gun assault from the Filipino infantry! Christmas was saved!

And that's why chickens wear hats. The End.

Cheers and best wishes for the holiday season to you and yours. And if this letter made you laugh once or twice, that too is a Christmas miracle.


19 December 2006

Seattle: What's To Like?

A lupine meadow in Discovery Park, right in the midst of Seattle,
Washington. Living here does not blow - not on account of the
scenery, anyway.


Remember how I told you about that happiness experiment that I was going to do on my brain? The one where every night before I went to bed, I was going to write down three things that made me happy that day?I've been doing it for a couple of weeks now and so far it has been going gangbusters. If the point of the exercise was to make me sleep better, then it works like a well-swung cue ball upside the dome. I sleep like a bear. In addition to that, it has reduced my predilection to ruminate on anxiety-inducing topics - at least while I'm awake, anyway. I still wake up in a froth each morning trying to perform long division on the balance of my bank accounts. But I mean, hey, who doesn't do that at Christmastime?

One thing that might keep people from practicing happiness is that it seems doing so means letting one's guard down. Ergo, while you're busy being a blissed-out hippie, life will sneak up and stab you in the ass. Actually, that's not so. I know from studying this stuff obsessively that happiness and other positive states of mind are expansive, meaning that the aperture of consciousness widens to entertain more possibilities in every situation. So it's more likely that you will both perceive potential ass-stabbers and be mentally ready for them if you are in a positive state of mind. Anger, anxiety and other negative states of mind are more narrowly focused and reduce the number of perceived possibilities. Remember, the Hulk's only option was to "smash". I could go off on my usual didactic saw about emotions being a method of heuristic management. But Christ, how many times do I have to beat that goddamn topic before somebody comes up and grabs me by the heuristics and gives me a shake? You get my point.

So another effect of doing this exercise is that it has made me appreciate Seattle more. Even though I've lived here for twenty years, I've always felt like an immigrant, like I have nothing in common with the ultra-dour locals here, and that they in turn despise my penchant for Sunny Jim exuberance. It seems that ennui and smoldering spite are the only two acceptable modes here. If Thumper lived in Seattle, he would've hucked himself off the Aurora Bridge ages ago. "If you can't grumble something shitty, don't grumble nothing at all." I mean, c'mon, this is the place that invented grunge, which is basically punk rock without the gumption to take a swing at you.

BUT! All of that said, in the spirit of the "things that make me happy" list exercise that I'm doing right now, I thought I'd take a moment to enumerate all the things I like about Seattle. Perhaps it's just because this exercise has seeded my brain with sugar cubes. Or perhaps it's because I fear becoming one of THEM.

I like the way they make coffee here: thick as blood and potent enough to shock the tits off a sphinx. Seattleites feign hatred of Starbucks. It's a faceless, blood-sucking multinational conglomerate they say, and they're quick with a rebuke for anyone who says anything to the contrary. I like Starbucks because they're the only place that makes a decent cup of black drip, so fawkoff. And I mean that in the nicest way possible. (True Made-Up Fact: One in six people in the Puget Sound region is a Starbucks barista. -Ed.)

I like the Seattle Seahawks, even though they have a quarterback with the disposition of a thoroughbred and they've stumbled their way through the '06 season thus far. But you always root for the home team, right? I mean the New Orleans Saints sucked for like 100 years (and now thankfully they're getting their due), but that never stopped New Orleaneans from slathering their team with praise. Well that's not how we do things in Seattle, where schadenfreude is the major import. During the Hawks 13-win run last season, all I heard from the locals was "They got lucky. They'll start sucking again any day now." Then they made it all the way to the Super Bowl - no mean feat. And then they lost (Christ, somebody had to! -Ed.) causing the locals to reprise their glumful mantra: "See? Told ya they'd suck eventually." I say fawkoff, Eeyores of the Puget Sound! And Go Hawks! And I mean both of those things in the nicest way possible.

I like Seattle because it's really goddamn pretty. On the other hand, it's like having a really hot girlfriend who treats you like shit. Sure, it rains like hell and treats you like crap for nine months out of the year. But then the sky cracks open and the sunbeams pour forth, revealing the glory that surrounds us. The only downside is that light and warmth freak the locals right the hell out, and they express their freak-outedness by being even more grumpy and dysthymic. Sunshine, it seems, is the only thing that pisses them off more than rain. (True Made-Up Fact: 78% of the people in the Puget Sound region are pissed off about something right now; 22% are actively searching for something to be pissed off about - and I mean rightfuckingnow! -Ed.)

So yeah - good coffee, the glory of nature, and football. What else ya need in a town besides toilets and a decent newspaper? (Check and - well, we'll get back to ya on the second one. -Ed.)

Cheers, and be on the lookout for that potential ass-stabber in the red suit. If he comes to my neighborhood, his ass is gonna have to have a word with the yakuza. Only they control the toy and goodie market in Chinatown!


18 December 2006

Thank You, Time Magazine. Now F'koff.

"Time" is right. It's about "Time" they gave me
Person of the Year. Bitches.


Didja hear? I got named Time Magazine's Person of the Year. Since I didn't want to come off as ungrateful, I wrote them a nice little acceptance letter. I've reprinted it below for ya. Enjoy.


from: thaddeus.gunn@ifuckinghatetheinternet.com
reply-to: mary_don't_ask@frillypants.com
to: letters@time.com
date: December 18th, 2006 0801PST
subject: Thanks. Now fuck off.

Dear Time Magazine:

I don't know what the fuck you people are up to, naming me Person of the Year and all. Is this some sort of scheme to butter me up - you know, "cupboard love" like my grandma used to call it? Look, I don't care how much you flatter me, no one is ever getting my plasma again so don't even ask. Last year I gave about six gallons of that shit to some fly-by-night outfit downtown, and then I found out that they turned around and made TV screens out of it! Have you seen how much those things cost? I mean, they wheedled me down to, like, six bucks a pint for my juice, and then they turn around and made it into a $6,000 TV screen. And so I go down there to get my share of the dough, and they're all like "We've been closed by the board of health". And I'm all like, "What for?" And they're all like, "We accidentally gave Hep C to like a zillion people." Well, okay, they didn't say that. But they're still a fuckin' bunch of "junkie juicers" if you ask me.

Well anyway, whatever you sneaky bastards are up to, I must say thanks for the cover. As Navin Johnson once said, "This is the kind of spontaneous publicity that makes people!" Now that I'm famous, maybe I'll be able to get into all those velvet-roped places that I couldn't get into before. Like the Oscars. Or the women's restroom at the Washington Athletic Club.


-Thaddeus R. Gunn